Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: I thank everyone who read, alerted, fav-ed and reviewed: sonea91, Shubhs, bugagagagagagaga, Rafaela Porto, SAVAGEGRACEx, aringle42, dhinkachika, Ankoku Dezaia, hateme101, Twlightquestionmark, Brin Hearts Harry, Desiraes0220, Chamilia Lutien Tinuviel, Gemma5VIII, CherryBoomx2, Zombie Reine, Lily, B.N.R., madie jane, That'sSusanToYou, astaniga, Atilia Dawn Black, Dwimordene, WildfirexCo2, god, monsterinc90, nana, deeps85, kik, WannaLove, niamh, bell, mmmmmm, morbidly fascinated, ilikebluepineapples, geist361, iheartlife89, lotus, Sprite Figwit's Fangirl, Atchair, tanzainy, TheFableFreak, Kuma Riddle xD, NS, ashley48506, UrbanRosefall, ilovenat1995, Rosiline, gsalilsecret, GoldenTresses91, elocution, BookSpaz808, cranberrygrapejuice, BlueSkyHeaven, pwrmom2, abbelmus, patie, EllieMay Duncan, shinobinaraku, blindfaithoperadiva, Morbid DramaQueen10, XellamyBB, Merih, Summer Leah, Sailor2Moon, Cellar, Noon's Phoenix, vampirelover2009.
NS: *snnnrks* You give me way too much credit. Patience isn't quite a virtue of mine; teasing on the other hand … What? Teasing isn't a virtue, you say? Why, shoot. XDDD Well, don't worry, the bond affects them both, so Tom, too. You always should be wary for him, but there is hope, especially now things are out and known to both parties. Thank you for the compliment about actually feeling fear while reading that bit about Tom being angry with Hermione. She's indeed lucky enough that he doesn't want to truly harm her. Yep, Voldy wasn't concerned about being affectionate to Hermione, because he had added knowledge about what she would do for him and he tried to save her. He indeed had more experience with the bond than Tom, and as such, he was capable of showing more emotions towards Hermione when she was around without being too uncomfortable about them. No, with the end won't allow a third part, I meant that I'm going to give this story a conclusion that won't need a part three. So, no need to be scared. Much. *insert evil cackle* And thank you for being so patient and understanding about the update speed. I do my best, so it's nice to hear from readers who understand that things don't always go as planned. Thank you for reading and reviewing.
tanzainy: I know. FFnet has deleted my letters in reviews, too.
lotus: Thank you. I'm glad you love the story.
mmmmmmm: Here's your update. Hope I didn't miss an m. XD
morbidly fascinated: Ouch, suffering from withdrawal: my apologies. I've been a bad dealer. Here's your fix. ;)
bell: years, decades, millenia, whatever it takes. However, I found time before that. XP
niamh: I'm definitely continuing this. You can see on both my twitter or profile how the stories are progressing. I want to thank you for the kind compliments and it's good to hear you enjoyed the stories, despite some of the errors. I'll edit them … someday … when I am no longer lazy. I'll definitely keep writing; Tomione is my guilty pleasure. Well, I didn't rewrite it because I felt the previous version sucked, but because I couldn't continue it without having my plotlines available to me. They got lost when my laptop crashed. I'm never keeping plotlines on a computer again since then. However, I'm glad you think I improved upon the old version with this one. Thanks for reading and reviewing.
kik: I'm glad you like the story. Thank you.
nana: Here's your update.
god: Wow, I'm honoured. I never knew god was into Tomione fanfiction. ;)
Dwimordene: Actually, my problem wasn't solely due to Twilight (although those are the worst kind). It was the overflow of vampires everywhere all of a sudden. Wherever you looked, there were vampires. I actually like Charlaine Harris's novels, but again, vampires … vampires … vampires. It's like anything needs them these days, so it was hard for me to write about them for a while. I just got vampire tired and it screwed over my muse for this story. However, the muse is back. And I did promise that I won't leave a story unfinished. It may take me some time, but it'll get finished eventually.
B.N.R.: Oh, I love all your speculations. I won't comment on them, since … spoilers! But it's fun to read them, and I recognise doing that because I always speculate, too, when I read a story about what may or may not happen. Hmmm... two ways to travel through time … Are you sure it's only two? *looks back at posted chapters and counts more than two different ways things changed; winks* Hmmm... changing time as master of manipulation … *zips lips* *points to above reply* Yes, I saw True Blood and read the novels. Talk about déjà vu, concerning some of Smeyer's plots. I'm surprised Harris didn't sue her. Ah, thanks, I have to admit that I was tempted to simplify things so readers could understand it easier, but I'll refrain from doing that now. Thanks for reading and reviewing again. xx Nerys
Lily: If you want info about progress on my stories, I recommend checking my profile or twitter, or leaving a signed review to which I can respond immediately. Sorry for leaving you hanging for so long though.
CherryBoomx2: *sniggers* I'd say I'm sorry about the cliffy but I doubt my credibility to that effect is very high, so I'll refrain and cackle evilly instead. However, I refrained myself from posting one at the end of this chapter, so I hope that makes up for the previous one, somewhat. *hides*
dhinkachika: I'm glad you liked the story. I'll finish it all, eventually. No worries. ;)
bugagagagagagaga: Here is another chapter. ;)
With thanks to my almighty beta Serpent In Red
Masters of Manipulation: Part Two
This chapter is dedicated to sonea91 whose numerous, kind and lengthy reviews inspired me to write on this story again.
They swirled around each other as if they were dancing. Not one step was taken too many nor one casting was done out of place. It was like someone had synchronised their movements, causing them to be extremely effective in this ferocious battle in which they were vastly outnumbered. Her wand was held loosely in her hand as curse after curse left its tip in rapid succession towards the many opponents coming from all sides.
Far too many, her mind added, briefly glaring annoyed at her partner who just hadn't listened to common sense in advance of this enterprise. Merlin, he's just like Harry. We'll just run in and see. Who cares about scouting the area or making a well-thought out plan in advance?
Hermione froze a dark, crackling ball that erupted in front of her and was about the engulf them. Behind his back, Tom flashed his wand at it, hurling it back from which it came. Loud screams reached her ears, and Hermione snidely considered that maybe it had been the Horcrux in Harry's head that had made him never listen to reason as she sent three black-clad men flying through a wall.
Or maybe it's a male thing.
She saw the signal one of the men sent to the others. Hermione ducked, pulling Tom with her as five spells suddenly collided above their heads. Tom stretched out his arm, placing his wand in the centre of the collision and reversing the trajectory of the spells whilst adding a 'little' souvenir of his own. The five spellcasters were blown off their feet—the sickening noise of bones that cracked and kept on breaking didn't stop after they'd plummeted to the ground. Hermione's wand flashed to the right. Screams echoed around them whilst her Fiendfyre otter roared around and blocked the corridor to her right effectively.
'We need to go!' she yelled above the noise.
'We need to get in there!' Tom yelled back, yanking her to the side. A purplish dash flew by, raising the hairs on her arm on end from the sheer force of it.
'Are you insane? We'll never get out!' Hermione sent another nameless wizard flying through the air.
'These idiots are not stopping Lord Voldemort,' he snarled, whipping his wand around.
Nope, not a male thing, just the moron with me.
Hermione rolled her eyes, conjuring a silvery-gold shield around them. Multiple thuds sounded as spells impacted on it. She could barely maintain it due to the excessive force her shield had to withstand. This had to stop. Soon. Only her partner seemed to be enjoying himself quite a bit to make any haste to end it. When she saw him cast one of his recent experimental curses, she came close to hexing him in the back.
'Enjoying yourself?' she snapped.
His chuckle confirmed her suspicions. Really? He was toying around while there was a bleeding army surrounding them? Well, she knew how to wipe that smile off his face. Keeping her fingers crossed this would work, she snarled tauntingly:
'No offence, but er … one-year-old babies stop Lord Voldemort, so perhaps leaving see—'
With a furious roar, he tackled her to the ground, covering her body with his. The magical blast occurring above her quickly spread outwards. Their opponents had nowhere to hide as the corridors they stood in filled with what could only be described as numerous lightning strikes. Lightbulbs burst; electricity sockets sparked; bodies fell … and then, it was dark and silent. Completely still.
They lay there for some time, unmoving, listening to any sign of a possible survivor that could still attack them.
'Lumos!' Hermione muttered finally.
As if they'd agreed on it beforehand, they each checked other corridors for movement. There was none. Everyone had perished in that blast. Then, Hermione looked up at Tom who was still lying on top of her.
'You were saying?' he asked, raising an eyebrow questioningly.
'Knew that would get you pissed,' she replied, wiggling her eyebrows deviously.
'Knew this curse would do wonders for your hair,' Tom countered, smirking at her hair that stood up straight in every direction.
'Awww… so you were taking my hair under consideration when you didn't think of using this curse before,' Hermione mocked. 'How positively consimmmmemm.'
He smothered her words with a kiss, pressing his body even firmer into hers so she could feel his arousal. It erupted a moan from her throat, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, rubbing herself against him. He broke off their kiss and stared at her heatedly. His hand caressed the side of her face before digging into her hair and grabbing a firm hold of it.
'When we get home,' he breathed seductively against her lips, 'I'm going to fuck you mercilessly for your impudence.'
'With the time you're taking to get things done, I'd be surprised if you could still get it up without chemical assistance.'
He spun them around without warning. With a crack, they arrived in the previously heavily fortified chamber. Tom shattered the glass around the ancient parchment, snatched it away and spun again. Only seconds yet multiple, dizzying Apparitions later, her world was still whirling and dancing as she clung to his lean form tightly whilst he proved how wrong she was on every available surface of their bedroom.
Out of body experience, Hermione thought, staring at herself and Tom.
However, this wasn't a memory.
Yet, it was.
She couldn't recall this happening at all.
And yet, it had.
Her mind shifted. That she could notice. New pathways were formed; connections made. As she saw things occurring before her, they became a part of her. Smells, sounds, visuals, feelings, all her senses incorporated what she'd only just seen. It felt real to her now. She shivered, wrapping her arms around herself. If you couldn't trust your own memories, who could you trust? Darkness approached around the couple in the bedroom, dimming the light of her vision more and more until there was silence. Nothing but silence.
A bell chimed.
Confused, Hermione looked around. She was in Diagon Alley. It was a busy day. Many people were walking by with grocery bags in hand, chattering lively and uncaring. All was well and peaceful. Her trained eye, however, noticed them: Three men and one woman positioned strategically. Hermione frowned. Who were they keeping an eye on?
Then, a bloodcurdling scream erupted from mouth as Harry walked right through her. Panicking, Hermione patted with her hands over her body. She was there. She could feel herself. She wasn't dead, was she? She looked at her hand. It wasn't ghostlike. Besides, Harry wouldn't just walk through a ghost. It was a nasty experience to do so. Looking up, she decided to follow Harry. Maybe those people were following him and she was sent here to stop something?
One of the men saluted Harry, who shook his head. For a moment, Hermione saw Harry's expression as he turned and she snorted at the clear annoyance visible there before he moved indoors.
Oh, so not following Harry, her mind concluded.
Her eyes moved up. There was a crooked sign hanging above the door that Harry'd entered, stating 'Summerbee and Wildsmith 1250 AC'. She heard about them. That was the company Tom had worked for. Her eyes darted back to the group. Aurors, then. Rather conspicuous Aurors, she added. No wonder Tom had shaken them all so easily all those times.
Different events suddenly rushed through her mind, causing her to sway on her feet and grab the wall on her right. Too many memories, none cohesive or even possible and some were even contradictory to others. When she opened her eyes, she was in an office of some sorts. Harry was there, standing near a mantle. Hermione's eyes took in her new environment. She'd never seen such a neat and tidy office before. Scrolls were stacked together in an efficient holder; everything on the desk was laid down symmetrical; filing cabinets were positioned around the windows at exactly the same distance from the window frames on each end; and not one single speck of dust, ink or anything personal was to be seen. The carpet underneath her feet was immaculate. Even the dustbin was completely empty. Without ever having seen this place before, she knew whose office she was in.
'Anal, retentive freak,' she muttered.
A horrible, screeching noise reached her ears, causing her to cover them quickly whilst looking for the source of the horrendous sound. Harry closed the lid of a strange, black box he held in his hand. The noise ceased at once and he looked bemused at the object.
'I see you found something to your liking, Harry,' Tom said with a broad grin on his face as he entered the office with several scrolls under his arm. 'Perhaps a belated birthday present?'
Harry snorted and quickly placed the box back on the shelf. 'No thanks,' he replied, rubbing his ears.
'Too bad. I seem to be unable to get rid of it. For some reason no one likes it. I wonder why,' Tom stated, looking up thoughtfully.
'Maybe because the Cruciatus is less painful,' Harry suggested, making a face. 'What is it anyway?'
'A music box.'
'Ha ha,' Harry said, 'very funny. But what is it? I'm curious.'
'It's a music box,' Tom said, smirking at the disbelief on Harry's face. 'I got it as a gift from the Merpeople.'
'Ah, so you're supposed to bath with it,' Harry replied, smirking.
'Apparently,' Tom replied, shrugging. 'So, what brings you to my humble office in the middle of the day: business or pleasure?' He motioned at Harry to take a seat as he sat down behind his desk.
'A bit of both perhaps,' Harry replied, sitting down whilst eyeing Tom sharply.
Tom leaned back in his chair and folded his hands behind his head. 'And here I was wondering when your office would ever figure it out. Or did Granger warn you? She was pretty pissed when she spotted me in India. Did you know she almost hexed me on the spot?'
India? Hermione thought, confused. I've never been to India. I told Harry you were in Paki—no India. No both. How can I have told Harry the same thing twice, thrice, no … infinitely.
'You don't even feel the need to deny it?' Harry asked. He'd been expecting a well-rehearsed, plausible excuse to have come his way.
'Come on, Potter. Don't tell me you actually thought that pathetic Tracking Charm was going to hold? I already found a way around the Trace in 1942, or was it 1943?' Tom frowned. 'Hmmm… it's hard to keep track of the dates, but never mind, I—'
Hermione clutched to her head, which was overloading as more and more voices came barging in.
'STOP!' she yelled desperately, feeling exhausted.
The scene changed in front of her eyes, whirling the world to a sudden standstill in the Hogwarts Head's Office. Her eyes immediately fell on the woman sitting in what to her still was and always would be Professor Dumbledore's chair.
The woman's bushy, white-grey hair stood in every direction, despite her overall lacking energy. She seemed very old, leaning back in the chair behind the familiar desk as she placed down the quill on what she knew was the last document she'd ever write or sign. Her brown eyes skirted around the office one last time. She could feel it coming, the end. Soon, she'd be snoring on the wall in a painting as well. Her keen mind recalled everything of her eventful life and more, making her smile and shake her head at the same time. He'd not take it so well, she knew. But to the well-rested mind, death was only the next great adventure. Her eyes fluttered close as she exhaled her last breath in an elongated rattle. Headmistress Hermione Granger had just passed on peacefully.
The other Hermione in the office tentatively approached herself, reaching out as if fearing to touch. Just when her fingertips made contact with the still warm skin of the wrinkled face, everything danced and she arrived elsewhere.
A silver dash flew through Tom Riddle's laboratory in London. Watching in horror, Hermione witnessed how a tall, red-haired man tumbled down to the ground, dropping the book in his hand so he could abate his fall.
'Bloody hell,' Ron Weasley cursed after puking his stomach contents all over the floor. 'Couldn't the git have found a way to make this time travel business a bit more comfortable?'
'Ron!' Hermione yelled, looking at the book she so recognised in absolute horror. 'Ron, what are you doing?'
For a moment, Ron Weasley looked around, confused.
Had he heard her?
Hermione yelled harder, ran to him and tried to shake him. Her frustration reached new levels when she couldn't touch him. Why not this time? She'd touched herself. She'd leaned against a wall. What was happening to her?
Ron shook his head and scrambled to his feet, grumbling some more about the uselessness of all things Slytherin before he looked around the place and smirked with an utterly pleased expression. At least, he was where he was supposed to be. Now, all he needed to know was if he had landed in the right era. He flipped out his wand.
'Tempus Revelio!' he cast.
A date and time was revealed, making Hermione frown in confusion while Ron raised his fist triumphantly. Then, he started ransacking the place. When he finally let out a cheer, Hermione saw him holding onto that same Mermish Music Box that Harry had. She hoped he'd keep the lid on but covered her ears just in case.
Just on time.
A foul, high screeching sound greeted them when Ron opened the box. Yet, he left it open and pulled a Muggle recording device from his pocket. Ron pressed the play button and held it next to the box. The device started hissing and spitting without taking in breath, and a few seconds later, everything turned quiet. There was no more screeching to be heard from the music box. A soft 'poing' sounded, and the music box turned to dust in his hands.
'Thank you, Rose,' he whispered.
Ron looked at the Muggle thing with pleasure. 'Clever people, those Muggles,' he said, sounding a lot like his father. 'Though why they call this an Eye-pod …?'
Unable to decipher the meaning of the name, Ron shrugged and picked another, identical Mermish Music Box from his bag. Hermione frowned as she witnessed Ron sniggering in intense pleasure when he placed that box on the spot he'd found the other.
'Enjoy your plans with this one, Riddle,' he mocked. Swiftly, Ron turned around. 'Scourgify!' he cast at his vomit. Then, his wand whisked around to put everything back in place as it had been before. 'Accio Eternity in Time!'
'How did you get that book?' Hermione yelped, desperate. She pulled her wand from her pocket and tried to cast. Nothing happened. 'It's supposed to be gone, Ron. What are you doing? If Tom gets that … Oh Merlin, what have you done?'
With a furrowed brow, Ron glanced around the laboratory. Then, he shook his head again as if he were going insane and glared at the green leather book in disgust. He held the recorder next to the silver snakes on the cover that were curled around each other in a circle.
'Ron, how did you get Salazar Slytherin's book!' Hermione yelled, hoping for some miracle that would supply her with the answer.
However, soft, slithering hissing noises erupted from the I-pod and everything turned silver within her eyesight.
Hermione arrived in the damp, green-lit, underground area of the Chamber of Secrets. She wobbled on her feet, feeling slightly nauseated and trying to comprehend what was occurring now. A big, black dog and a blond, teenage girl had appeared out of nowhere. Hermione had never laid eyes on them before. The dog had its eyes quite thoroughly closed even when it was transfiguring itself back to a teenage boy in Gryffindor uniform. The girl waved her wand around and changed her features back to normal.
Hermione gasped, recognising her much older daughter and Harry's son James. What were they doing?
After Rose'd pocketed her wand again, she pulled a newspaper from her pocket.
'Rose?' James asked, keeping his eyes firmly closed.
'It worked, look!' Rose said excitedly as she pushed the paper underneath James's nose.
'I'd love to, but can I?' he asked.
Rose stared bemused at him for a second, but then, she realised what the problem was. She looked around the Chamber of Secrets. Hermione followed her and gasped again when she spotted the tiny Basilisk sleeping in front of one of the serpent pillars.
'You've got to be kidding me,' Hermione muttered, disgruntled. 'You're so grounded, young lady.'
'It's asleep,' Rose said, sounding amused someone could be afraid of such a small creature. 'Besides, you know I told Sissy not to look at you.'
'You do realise Sissy is a ridiculous name for an animal like that,' James grunted, but he opened his eyes just the same. 'And we really should tell someone there is a Basilisk down here. Again. Somehow …' And he glanced towards the beast apprehensively.
Rose hadn't created that one? Hermione's eyes narrowed. I'm going to kill him. Wherever or whenever he is right now, Tom Marvolo Riddle is a dead man walking.
'Awww, but she is so cute. They'll kill her.' Rose pouted. 'And she won't hurt anyone, James, I swear.'
Hermione sighed, wanting to hit her head against Slytherin's statue, while James rolled his eyes.
'You are worse than Professor Hagrid,' he said, resigning to the issue as he read the paper curiously.
'I love you, James Potter,' Rose said cheerfully, pulling James into a hug from the side and kissing his cheek.
'Well, it seems like you did it,' James said, his cheeks flushed with pleasure. 'His obituary isn't there.'
Rose nodded excitedly, and she held out the book in her hand. 'I knew this book from Professor Riddle would work.'
Professor Riddle? Which moron had given him a teaching position at Hogwarts?
'Do you think Headmistress McGonagall knows Professor Riddle—'
Minnie? Really! Hermione thought, aggravated, not hearing the rest of the conversation. Did everyone lose a brain cell or two when I wasn't looking?
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the book that clearly wasn't Slytherin's judging from the colour alone. Tom had to have created his own version, and even worse, he'd made it work. How big was this mess she was in?
'We better go before we are spotted here,' James said cautiously.
An amused cough sounded through the Chamber of Secrets.
Both teenagers looked at each other in shock. Hermione whirled around. She'd not noticed someone else was here, too, and had a bad feeling about this.
'I'm afraid it is a bit too late for that,' a very familiar voice said, stepping out of the shadows.
'We are so dead now,' Rose groaned underneath her breath while James looked like he was going to be sick.
'You are quite right about that, young lady. Care to explain yourself?'
Rose turned around apologetically. 'Now, Mum, all I wanted to do—' she halted and stared at her mother in shock before that shock turned to delight. 'You're a vampire! Why didn't you tell me? I thought …' Rose halted her enthusiastic rant and frowned. 'You're a Dracul vampire,' Rose added darkly.
Hermione just stared at herself as a vampire. She'd seen herself die of old age at Hogwarts. Yet, here she stood with short, spikey grey hair being very much alive and clearly a lot more vibrant and less human as before. How did all of this add up? And why indeed was she dressed as a Dracul? Her head began to pound painfully.
The vampire Hermione glanced at her outfit and smiled. 'So it would seem,' she responded casually.
'Why are you a Dracul, Mummy? Vishna is not going to like that.'
Understatement of the year, the human Hermione thought. Vishna has been trying to sneakily turn me into a Vasuki Vampire a thousand times already. Her already full mind got bombarded with occurrences of getting turned over and over again, in different places and at different times, until she crumbled to the floor from the onslaught. She felt exhausted. Drained.
'We are not here to discuss my physiological condition,' the vampire Hermione interrupted sternly as she looked from Rose to James and back again. 'What have you two done?'
James and Rose looked at each other uneasily. 'We … uh … we travelled through time,' Rose replied softly, 'by means of this book from Professor Riddle.'
'Let me see it,' the vampire Hermione demanded, holding out her hand to receive the brown book in question.
Rose handed it to her immediately. Hermione looked down at the cover and sighed annoyed when she read the title. The cover said: 'Eternity in Time by Tom Marvolo Riddle based on the theory of Salazar Slytherin.' She started flipping through the leaves interested while Rose and James waited. Finally, after what seemed like a dreadfully long time, Hermione closed the book and gazed at them seriously.
'So, what have you altered?'
That was something the human Hermione wanted to know, too. Supporting herself on her hands, she watched the interaction, not trying to intervene since clearly it was pointless.
James looked at Rose, who began stuttering something about Viktor.
'What?' the vampire Hermione asked impatiently.
'Daddy died, so I went back to save him,' Rose blurted out. 'And we succeeded, Mummy. We found him at Borgins and Burkes and quickly brought him to St. Mungo's, and now, he isn't in the paper anymore,' she said triumphantly. 'The book worked.'
'You saved Viktor Krum,' Hermione said slowly. 'That explains a lot.'
Rose nodded, pleased. 'Now Aunt Angela can be happy again.'
Hermione shook her head. 'I'm afraid Time won't allow such a huge alteration without severe consequences, Rose,' she said softly.
'According to Professor Riddle it will,' Rose stated, certain, 'if you intervene at the right time.'
Great, take advice from him. Why did I allow her to go to Hogwarts if he's a teacher here? I must have lost a brain cell or two myself as well, Hermione grumbled to herself.
'I see,' the vampire Hermione said slowly. 'Then tell me: Have you read the entire book before you started travelling with it, or did you just skip a couple of pages and went straight to the "How to Activate this Time Travel Device" part?'
That question had a strong sense of déjà vu, which heightened when the answer to that question was written all over Rose's very flustered face. The girl really resembled her father in so many ways. It was uncanny.
'So you didn't,' vampire Hermione answered her own question, 'because if you read everything, you would have come across the chapters where To—Professor Riddle explained that alterations based in Time only last if they were intended to happen. Time is not linear, Rose. It will correct what it perceives as an error, and I am afraid it will see Viktor's rescue as such. You only delayed the inevitable and, by doing so, you caused several rifts in the Time Continuum. Time counted on Viktor's death, and because it didn't happen the way it was supposed to, Time searched for a different solution to achieve the wanted outcome. I'm afraid that solution altered your reality drastically.'
'I don't get it,' James said, confused.
'You two have not returned to the same place you came from. Things will be different in this timeline because Viktor did not die that day.'
'But that is a good thing,' Rose rebutted, crossing her arms stubbornly.
'No, it isn't,' Hermione and her vampire self said out loud simultaneously.
For a moment, Hermione could've sworn her vampire self's lip curved up briefly. However, her pale face was set sternly again as she pulled out a paper of her own from her beaded bag and handed it to Rose.
'This is what happened two days after you saved Viktor.'
Rose and James looked at the headlines in the Daily Prophet quietly: 'Death toll is still on the rise. Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes blames bad maintenance for the collapse of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, resigns post over huge scandal involving the mismanagement at the Department of Magical Buildings and Constructs.'
'I'm sorry, Rose,' Hermione said softly and she placed a hand on her daughter's shoulder. 'Viktor died in that collapse along with many others.'
'Bu—but,' Rose stuttered.
Hermione wanted to get to her feet and comfort her daughter, but she couldn't bring herself to move a muscle. She already was here. She'd no idea what state she was in at the moment and how one would qualify her way of being, but this was dangerous. All the time travel talk had reminded her about the temporal repercussions of having two of you present at the same event. It was probably for the best not to draw attention to herself. So, instead, she watched how her vampire self conjured the three of them some chairs and seated them all.
'Time is not something to casually tamper with, Rose. It's an entity of its own and a highly dangerous one. Many before you have tried in the past to fool Time and correct things, only to find their situation had turned a hell of a lot worse when they went back to where they came from. Books like these have been the cause of wars and destruction. Ask Vishna the next time you see him, if he is willing to speak about it. You must not use this book again, Rose. Time will go after you if you do.'
'How do you mean?'
Hermione sighed. 'Right now, there are too many people interfering in the timeline of a small period.'
Hermione listened, interested. Was she finally going to learn something useful about what was going on? Would her vampire self know she was here and help her out?
The vampire Hermione pulled out an elliptic instrument. 'This is what is called a Temporal Watch. You see those red flashes here?'
Hermione nodded, whilst James and Rose said 'yes' simultaneously.
'Well, those are temporal incursions, meaning someone is making alterations in Time right that moment.'
'There are a lot of them,' James commented quietly.
'Indeed,' Hermione said knowingly. 'There are too many in a small timeframe. Time will interfere harshly if this doesn't end soon.'
'What will it do?' Rose asked timidly.
'Hopefully, we don't need to find out if I can prevent it by undoing all these screw-ups before Time intervenes. I need to know exactly what you and James did, Rose.'
'Sweetheart, right now, with all these interferences, I don't even know if Viktor's death is a temporal error or something that is supposed to happen. But I do know you and James are in danger from Time as long as your interference in it remains.'
'But the book is supposed to protect the bearer from Time Corrections,' Rose rebutted.
'You need to have it with you twenty-four/seven to be protected. So, which one of you is going to take the risk to walk around without it?' Hermione asked calmly. 'Are you taking it with you to the Slytherin common room, Rose? Or will you allow James to hang onto it in the Gryffindor tower?'
Both teenagers shared a glance of discomfort between themselves.
'And do tell me how you are going to prevent its owner from claiming it back because I promise you that he will find out you have it. There are charms on this book that will enable him to locate it anywhere at any time.'
Rose bit her lip and covered her face in her hands.
'It's alright, sweetie,' vampire Hermione said softly. 'I'll try my hardest to save Viktor, but you need to tell me what you did now.'
James heaved a sigh before telling Hermione everything. When he was done, Hermione nodded and stood up. 'You're both lucky. This can be easily fixed.'
'Mum?' Rose asked.
'Won't Time perceive you changing our stuff as a temporal incursion, too?'
That was something the human Hermione was keen on hearing as well.
'I am not changing things in the same manner you did. Time will never know I was there. It is …' Hermione halted and looked at her daughter. 'You'll understand someday.'
'So, there is a method to change Time safely,' Rose started excitedly.
'Rose,' Hemione interrupted warningly. 'Don't use this book again.'
Rose shook her head. 'I won't, Mummy. But shouldn't you warn Professor Riddle about this? What if he uses his book?'
Hermione rolled her eyes. Now there was a pointless endeavour to embark upon. She was pretty sure her vampire self would agree with that assessment. And indeed, she witnessed how the vampire's eyes darkened considerably.
'Professor Riddle is very much aware of the risks involved, dear. Warning him will be like trying to teach a fish to live on land. Now, why don't you go back to your dormitories, forget this place exists and get some sleep.'
'But I can't leave Sissy alone,' Rose rebutted indignantly. 'She will be lonely.'
Hermione pointed tiresomely to the Basilisk several feet away as if anyone could see her pointing.
'The Basilisk,' James explained, sighing.
'Oh,' vampire Hermione said, looking at the tiny creature with a frown. 'That is not a pet, Rose; a Basilisk is a dangerous, deadly animal.'
Rose started ranting about how sweet and harmless Sissy was, and how she was a good Basilisk who always cleaned her fangs, while James coughed Hagrid underneath his breath, making Hermione smile. She looked from her daughter to the creature and sighed.
'I have to go,' vampire Hermione said softly. 'Be careful, you both.'
Rose looked surprised at her mother for not countering her Basilisk cheering. The other Hermione realised that as time would be changed by herself, everything that was would not be; so her vampire self had obviously decided any debate about the Basilisk was of no use anyway. Still, Hermione would like to know how she'd learned to undo temporal incursions. But the other Hermione disappeared in a dash of silver before she got anymore answers.
Instead, she felt the pull and push at her body as she got whisked away, too. Unable to keep her bearing or hold onto anything, she arrived at her new destination: a clearly luxurious penthouse with a magnificent view of London. She recognised the view even if Ron hadn't stood in front of the window, staring at the building of the Wizarding hospital happily. This time she was in Ron's place.
'Ronald?' a female voice shouted. 'Have you seen the children?'
'The children, what children?' Ron muttered, bemused.
Hermione's eyebrows raised and she decided to follow him as he left the study. Soon, she noticed Ron turned absolutely distressed. He touched everything he saw as if it were the first time. Hermione had to admit none of it seemed like his taste at all. There were pink, silk curtains in front of the windows, held back with big bows. She recalled he'd had a bar, separating his kitchen from the living room. However, now there was a huge dining room table instead with a crystal chandelier hanging above it. The heavily decorated, wooden table gave room to eight seats and was set rather extravagantly.
'What's going on here?' Ron asked, whispering. He jumped into the air and let out a huge, frightened scream when Pansy Parkinson came around the corner.
Hermione's eyes widened in surprise. Pansy?
'There you are! Did I startle you? You shouldn't daydream so much, Ronnie. Oh, dearest, have you seen Arthur and Imogen?' Pansy asked, kissing the completely petrified Ron lightly on the cheek as she passed by. 'I can't find them anywhere, and we were supposed to go shopping for their last year at Hogwarts. I swear I am never having twins again.'
'P-Pansy?' Ron stuttered, wiping his cheek firmly with his hand making Hermione snort at his disgusted expression. 'What are you doing here?'
'Good point,' she retorted. 'You are right. I am not waiting for them any longer. We were supposed to go shopping and I am going shopping, with or without them. I'll tell you, those two are a big nightmare. They can never hold their appointments, always running off with some sort of crazy invention. Well, if they have to spend the entire year at Hogwarts in uniforms that are too short, it will be their problem now. I am done looking around for them. Octavius and Daisy never caused us this much trouble.'
'Daisy? Octavius?' Ron muttered, scratching his head in bemusement.
Hermione bit her lip, trying to hold in her laughter. Oh gosh, this was just too good to be true.
'Yes, they know how to uphold oneself as our kind should. Something Arthur and Imogen will probably never learn,' Pansy grumbled. 'I'm off shopping now, Ronald. If those two crawl out from whatever rock they are hiding under, tell them Mummy is very upset with their behaviour.'
Yes, Ron, tell them you're married to pug-faced Parkinson, Hermione thought, roaring with laughter as she looked at the huge wedding photograph above the mantle while Pansy floo-ed away.
Ron turned around, came face-to-face with said picture of him and Pansy being incredibly touchy feely with each other and let out a frightened yelp. He jumped back, clutching to his chest and saying 'no, no, no, no,' over and over again. 'This is not possible. It just isn't.'
His blue eyes went to his hand, and he pulled off the wedding ring that was present on his finger.
'Ron and Pansy forever, 31 March 2004,' he read aloud in despair. 'No way. No, I'd never, EVER marry Pansy Parkinson! This is a dream, a nightmare.'
Ron pressed his eyelids together and reopened them, but the scenery had not changed. He was still holding onto this stupid ring and he could still see that ridiculous photograph. In it, Pansy winked at him. So he closed his eyes again and pinched himself, but still, it changed nothing. He threw open several doors in the hall and checked out several children's rooms—some of which were in very Slytherin colours. Hermione followed him as he freaked out more and more before he ran back into the study.
The Disarmament Spell hit Ron right in the back and threw him across the room into the wall. Ron crashed to the ground in a crumbled up heap and groaned. Shocked, Hermione's amusement died down. She'd recognised the voice. Quickly, she made it into the room to check her presumption of who stood behind the door. With a vicious smirk on his face, Tom Riddle casually pushed the door to after he'd caught Ron's wand from the air. Hermione felt utterly helpless as he seemed to stare right through her and her wand didn't produce a single spell she tried to cast. There was nothing she could do to help Ron.
'Tom,' she whispered, reaching out to him. His face was paler than ever before and he seemed somehow colder, more distant. Her hand went straight through his chest. She saw him shiver and blink, so she repeated more forcefully and hopefully, 'Tom, I'm here! Please, please, notice me. Use our bond, please.'
But he stepped forward and walked right through her, making her gasp at that horrible sensation of having your insides being displaced and curl around.
'Enjoying married life, Weaselbee?' Tom taunted, twirling his wand around lazily.
Ron scrambled back on his feet and glared at the Slytherin furiously. 'I don't know what you did, Riddle, but it won't work.'
'Tsk, tsk, tsk,' Tom clicked with his tongue disapprovingly. 'This is your doing, "Ronnie dearest"; you created this wonderful timeframe yourself. I have to admit I find it fascinating,' he mocked. 'Unfortunately, I cannot allow it to continue to exist. But, believe me, I am very tempted to leave you here with pug-faced Parkinson.'
Hermione could tell Ron really wanted to punch Riddle and was barely able to restrain himself. She swiftly padded around in order to keep both wizards within her sight. She might be helpless now, but that didn't mean she wanted to miss any clues of what was happening.
'I see the all-powerful sorcerer has been turned to the blood-drinking community,' Ron sneered. 'Did you go willingly or did your almighty powers fail to stop a vampire from assaulting you?'
Ron's right: He's a vampire, Hermione concurred, wrinkling her forehead. It's barely visible. How does he do that? No Dracul emblems either. They're practically an obligation. Unless … he's ruling them. Maybe he's a half-vampire? Why can't I ask things? This whole situation was frustrating her beyond belief.
Tom arched an eyebrow. 'Be glad I drank an hour ago, Weasley, but,' he added, tilting his head thoughtfully, 'I can always use seconds.'
Riddle laughed loudly when Ron took a step back. 'Oh, relax; I have no need to poison myself by drinking your disgusting blood. So … where did you get this book?' he added quietly, his tone changing enough for his audience to know he meant business now.
Ron glanced at Salazar's book in Tom's other hand. 'Why do you think I would be at all inclined to inform you?'
'That depends on how fond you are of Hermione,' Tom replied softly.
Hermione frowned. Did he think that would work on Ron?
'Threatening her life to me is pointless, Riddle, I know you wouldn't harm her,' Ron replied, narrowing his eyes in anger.
Like she'd thought, Ron wasn't stupid.
'She is dead in this timeline,' Tom said bluntly.
Oh. Well, that's a bummer.
Wide-eyed, Ron just stared at him.
'Did you really think you could fool around with Time that easily?' Tom said menacingly, and he took a step in Ron's direction. 'Did you really think your mindless tampering would have no consequences whatsoever?' Another step. 'Now, I know Potter destroyed this book. So where did you get it from, Weasley?' He pushed his wand in Ron's throat with determination. 'And you better answer me pretty damn fast because I promise you that I will obtain the answer from that pathetic mind of yours in a heartbeat and I will not be pleased if you waste my time.'
'Hermione is dead?' Ron whispered, his chin trembling.
'Yes,' snarled Tom. 'Now—'
'Can you get her back?'
'Yes,' Tom replied forcefully. 'If it's possible to undo your rubbish.'
'I got it from another dimension.'
'Another dimension!' Hermione screeched. 'Are you crazy?' She really was upset she was unable to touch anyone at the moment because she had the inherent need to pummel Ron to death.
Baffled, Tom looked at Ron. 'You screwed around with Time in two dimensions?' he hissed. 'Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?'
'Of course he doesn't,' Hermione added, annoyed. 'He just thought it would be a swell idea to fix some problem in this one. Oh for crying out loud, what's wrong with these people? If this is why I am like this, I'll find a method to haunt you all, you bloody idiots.'
'I wouldn't have to if you would just remain dead and buried where you should be, Voldemort,' Ron sneered back.
Tom blinked but caught his composure quickly. 'Which dimension?'
Ron shrugged his shoulders.
'Really, Weasley, do you ever even use that brain of yours?' Tom snarled, annoyed. He shook his head. 'I don't have time for this. Legilimens!'
Apparently, it took Tom quite some effort to retrieve the bit of information that Ron forgot about, but in the end, he withdrew. Ron crashed to the floor, panting and perspiring heavily. Coldly, Tom looked down at him.
'The next time you consider screwing around with something you can't possibly comprehend the full meaning of, I suggest you remember this exact moment. Trust me, Ron Weasley, when I say that you will be begging for death if I have to return to you for the same issues,' he quietly said. 'I will not so generous with you again as I am right now.'
Tom swirled away.
'Her–Hermione?' Ron stuttered.
Tom froze. 'She will be fine,' he responded after a moment of silence. 'I will know if you try to pull something like this again,' Tom added with a knowing smile. 'And you will never know what it was that hit you.'
As he disappeared in that silver flash, Hermione rescinded to what would occur next. She arrived on platform nine and three-quarters, watching the Hogwarts Express let out a puff of smoke. So many Wizarding people and not a single soul was aware of her, not even herself. She moved closer to Harry, Ginny, Ron and 'Hermione' to overhear what was being said.
Hugo and Lily were having an animated discussion about which House they would be sorted into when they finally went to Hogwarts, too. That was when her delightful husband decided to put in his two Knuts.
'If you're not in Gryffindor, we'll disinherit you,' Ron said, 'but no pressure.'
'Ron!' the other Hermione exclaimed, shocked.
The one who couldn't voice her opinion wanted to smack him over the head because, despite that Lily and Hugo laughed about it, both Albus and Rose seemed solemn and concerned. Fortunately, her other self told the children that Ron didn't mean it. However, Ron's attention was already elsewhere.
'Look who it is,' he said, nodding to the Malfoys.
Hermione turned her head, curious too. She felt time hadn't been kind to Draco in this reality, but at least, he seemed somewhat politer. He did send them a curt nod. She hoped it hadn't strained his neck too much. Shortly, she sniggered, finding this the most insane place she'd visited so far. Her memories became so odd. She'd not gone to the past. She'd never met Tom Riddle. And she'd married Ron!
'So that's little Scorpius,' said Ron under his breath. 'Make sure you beat him in every test, Rosie. Thank God you inherited your mother's brains.'
'Ron, for heaven's sake,' said Hermione, half stern, half amused. 'Don't try to turn them against each other before they've even started school!'
'You're right, sorry,' said Ron, but unable to help himself, he added, 'Don't get too friendly with him, though, Rosie. Granddad Weasley would never forgive you if you married a pureblood.'
For good measure, Hermione whacked him over the head anyway. It went straight through him as expected, but he jolted nevertheless.
'Ron?' she asked tentatively. Yet, darkness began to engulf her rapidly.
She'd been with Ron. She'd been with Ron! Her mind tried to wrap itself around it. Somehow, it didn't compute with everything else, yet it had happened. Somehow. She could recall it and remembered their children. However, that was gone now. Something new was coming. Another memory. How long before her mind would burst? How long before she'd turn absolutely insane? She hardly dared to open her eyes. The heat and humidity around her was overwhelming. Reluctantly, she checked her surroundings. Immediately, nervousness and excitement overcame her. That was how she'd felt before when she'd been here with him. She didn't try to tell herself she was here again; she just watched how 'the memory' unfolded in front of her.
The other Hermione wiped her brow before ringing the doorbell.
'Merlin, it's hot here,' she said, agitated, grabbing the top of her shirt and using it as a fan for her face whilst wiping her other hand off on her skirt.
Every gesture she made was a clear sign of her nervousness. He swiftly snaked his arm around her waist, pulling her flush against him. His fingers folded around her wrist and brought her arm down against her stomach, too, holding her tightly in his embrace.
Hermione smiled. She could practically feel what her other self felt, experience it simultaneously as if it were happening right now. Still, she wondered if anyone would ever hold her again like that for real? Would Tom? She'd always liked his embraces, no matter how possessive they could be—or maybe because they were? It felt safe in his arms; she wished she was there right now. Jealousy stung even when it was aimed at yourself, Hermione realised as she wrapped her arms around herself comfortingly. It wasn't quite the same.
'What are you doing?' her other self squeaked in alarm, struggling to regain her freedom. 'They could open the door any second and if—'
'Relax,' Tom breathed into her ear, tightening his hold on her warningly.
Hermione watched as his lips brushed over her exposed neck before he licked her skin in a languorous fashion. Tingling sensations rushed through her body, causing her to shudder and cease her struggles. She witnessed how she'd closed her eyes, tilted her head to accommodate him and surrendered into his embrace. She could feel and see him smile as he placed a soft kiss underneath her earlobe. It was the oddest occurrence yet.
'Everything will be fine,' he softly spoke. 'You're mine now.'
'Which will make this even more awkward since they know who you are,' she objected.
He sniggered. 'You felt the need to tell them everything, dearest. I was all for making something up. However, you've got nothing to worry about. Parents always love me.'
'Yeah,' Hermione said, rolling her eyes. 'I'm sure my Muggle parents will love that I am taking Lord Voldemort home to announce I'm going to marry him.'
He was shaking from contained laughter against her.
'Well, it does make you Obliviating and moving them all the way to Australia a bit—Oww.' She'd stomped on his foot, hard. He barely had time to school his face when the door swung open, revealing a tall, skinny woman with sleek brown hair.
Mum, Hermione thought sadly as the world quickly blackened around her. She'd wanted to see more of her parents and Tom during that time. It was a wonderful memory. However, she found herself further into the past. She was standing inside a grand ballroom, which was never supposed to be there, hearing herself scold a teenaged Tom Riddle. She sighed and sat down in one of the chairs tiresomely.
'Have you read the entire book before you started travelling with it, or did you just skip a couple of pages and went straight to the "How to Activate this Time Travel Device" part?' Hermione hissed underneath her breath.
The answer to that question was written all over Tom's now flustered face. So, Hermione advanced on him and underlined her next words by poking him furiously in the chest with her index finger.
'Do you even understand half of what Salazar Slytherin wrote down on the pages, or did your arrogant, little mind think it would be irrelevant information as long as the great Lord Voldemort got what he wanted?'
Clearly, Tom was restraining himself from doing something. He was standing there, rigid. The tension of his muscles was oh so visible, and a predatory glint was eminently present in his eyes. However, his company was pretty damn angry, and his continuing silence to her bold statements made her even more ferocious, so she continued her raving rant whilst her elder counterpart shook her head.
'Hah! But don't take my measly, Mudblood word on it. Feel free to listen to the only voice you deem relevant,' and she quoted mockingly, '"And tell him to stop wasting his precious time meddling in events he has no control over".' She snorted. 'You know, I'm actually beginning to see its relevance. I guess you remembered getting yourself stuck on the inside of a ballroom with a Gryffindor one day due to your own stupmmmblm…'
Hermione sighed, scratching her neck. Watching it in retrospect made her youthful ignorance even worse. It was so obvious to her now. All the signs were there. She couldn't believe she'd not seen this coming. She really was naïve and inexperienced back then. She recalled how confused she'd felt after that kiss. How appalled she'd insisted her mind upon feeling when right now all she wanted was for him to hold her so tightly and devour her again.
Then, she realised she could feel just that.
Closing her eyes, she emerged herself in that memory of him capturing her against his firm body, following his lead in that all-consuming kiss. This time she thoroughly enjoyed it. When he pushed her teenage self away roughly, her eyes snapped open in disappointment. She'd not looked at him then, but now, she saw the confusion, distress and flustered state he was in, too, and it made her smile happily.
'Not so collected as you like yourself to be, are you, Riddle?' she commented deviously. 'If this is what Harry saw, I'm beginning to understand his insane choice to revive us.'
The ballroom shattered in her mind. Screaming in pain, Hermione clutched to her head and found herself in her old home. She let herself sink in the bed, feeling the soft cushions and bedding underneath her as she slowly absorbed everything.
Dressed in a beautiful, burgundy evening gown, another Hermione was ready to attend the concert at the Petronas building. It would be their last night together for a while because they both had business to attend to. Tomorrow, she would have to go to Japan for the annual Arithmancy conference and Tom would go to Egypt once more to see whether there was any reference to Sakhmet's Cane to be found. She looked out of the window of their magically hovering home in the sky of Kuala Lumpur to watch the incredible sight of the Petronas Twin Towers and its amazing Skybridge, which joined the towers together.
It was most convenient that Tom had found a manner to bring their house along wherever they went. Otherwise, she would never have had such a magnificent view of the building as she did right now. Besides, it was always nice to have your own stuff available to you. Hermione walked over to the vanity to check her appearance one last time. She magically pulled a loose strand of hair into the hairpin as well and was reasonably satisfied with the result. Her hair truly could be a nightmare to maintain, but a simple hairpin did wonders on evenings like this.
Why can't I make myself known to my company? the Hermione lying on the bed thought, frustrated.
When she looked back at the vanity, she was no longer looking at herself but at the handsome reflection of her husband. Time must have progressed until right after the concert, because she could hear herself sing incredibly off key underneath the shower while Tom was loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt at the top. Smirking at his own reflection, he turned around satisfied when a dash of silver lighting whirled around their bedroom.
Hermione held up her hand to protect her eyes from the flash, and when she opened them again, she received the shock of a lifetime. A few feet away stood a tall, thin, skeletal-looking man with snakelike features and crimson eyes. Inside their bedroom stood Lord Voldemort. There was no mistaking him. Tom seemed just as stunned as she was. This was simply impossible. He was dead.
Voldemort tilted his head left and right to loosen his neck. 'I'd almost forgotten how despicably nauseating this time travel business is,' he said, while pulling a vial from his pocket and downing its contents.
Apart from Hermione's now incredibly false notes resonating through the walls, it was eerily silent in the bedroom. Tom wasn't moving; Hermione was lying utterly still on the bed; and Voldemort was grinning at the 'singing' he heard. Curiously, Tom's older version looked around the bedroom; he stared straight at her lying on the king-sized bed and she felt all colour drain from her cheeks.
Could he see her? Of all the people in the entire world, could HE see her?
She opened her mouth; yet, those crimson eyes wandered on. A relieved sigh left her lips as Voldemort strolled around while taking in the nightstands covered in books, the vanity behind Tom, the oak wardrobe and the dresser, which he halted before. He smiled when he picked up the wedding photograph of Tom and Hermione before placing it down again and looking at the television in disgust.
'Love the Muggle junk you've got,' he mocked.
'What … are … you… doing… here?' Tom hissed, glancing over his shoulder to the bathroom where Hermione was still showering. 'You are supposed to be dead.'
'Not for another three years,' Lord Voldemort spoke casually, and he flicked his wand at the book on the floor.
The silver-green volume flew through the air and landed in Tom's hands. Astonished to hold a book in his hands that Potter supposedly destroyed, he looked at his older counterpart. 'How did you get it?'
'My dear boy, you and Hermione graciously brought it to me on the night of my resurrection, or did you forget about your little visit back then?'
'No, I hadn't forgotten how you gave Hermione that vile potion,' Tom snarled.
'Oh, well, it didn't work, but from the looks of things here—' He glanced around the room again with a sarcastic smirk, lingering for a moment on the bed on which Hermione shifted uncomfortably. '—I am really sorry it didn't. It seems I was right in assuming she would get the upper hand in the end. Sneaky, little Gryffindor,' Voldemort added fondly. He sighed before turning his attention back to Tom. 'You disgust me. Hermione is more of a Slytherin than you are.'
Tom snorted. 'You do realise you are insulting yourself here,' he retorted.
'You are not me,' Voldemort replied coldly.
'Thank Merlin for that,' Tom stated sarcastically. 'I kind of enjoy having a nose, thank you very much.'
'As regrettable as the loss of my nose may be, the pros of performing the chant far outweigh the cons. It greatly enhanced my magical powers. But I suppose someone, who is satisfied with making a house hover in mid-air and spending his time on sharing our ointment and other inventions with the rest of the world, would lack the ambition to understand such matters,' Voldemort snarled, watching Tom disgustedly. 'Now, let's get to business because I sure as hell did not allow Potter to vanquish me so you could squander our life on measly trivialities. Let's go to the living room.' His slit-pupilled eyes moved to the bed again. 'It's more private to talk there.'
'You can see me,' Hermione stated, sitting up surprised.
'I have no interest to talk to you,' Tom spat.
Voldemort looked right at her. 'Yes,' he merely said, then turned to Tom and continued, 'I know you don't, but it's imperative we do.'
'No wait!' Hermione yelled, climbing out of the bed as Voldemort pushed Tom out of the bedroom, 'What's go-Nooo!'
She felt like torturing and murdering everyone in her way as she reappeared in another place in time. Immediately, she yelled, kicked against things and tried to make herself known to the inhabitants of the room around her. Yet, no one noticed. Eventually, she leaned with her back against the wall, sinking down to the ground. Why had she waited? She'd suspected he'd noticed her immediately. Why had she been too scared to speak? She should've said something.
However, it was something. He'd seen her. Yet, he was dead. Perhaps she was dead, too? Maybe only dead people could see her? Oh, that was a depressing thought. Maybe she was in some type of 'in between' realm. Nah, that couldn't be. Voldemort had said he'd come through time right after his resurrection, so he wasn't dead then.
Of course, he could've been lying. He lied. All the time.
Her face darkened. She looked around, disinterested at her current surroundings: a vampire dwelling. Her memory filled with becoming Minister for Magic a while back and the negotiations she'd started with the vampire community. Risky business.
Minister Hermione was about to open the door and leave the premises.
A large bladed knife landed inches away from her head in the wooden door. The corners of her mouth twitched upwards slightly, and for a moment, the red gleam in her eyes was reflected by the shiny metal of the blade; but it was gone before anyone noticed it apart from her other self, sitting on the ground. Minister Hermione pulled out the knife with her left hand to show her respect, turned around and saw the woman—who was deemed the most deadly vampire alive—wait for her response. The Countess Elizabeth Bárthory watched as Hermione wrapped her right hand around the blade and clenched her fist around it, making her blood flow. She, then, paced towards the Countess in precisely ten steps, halted and violently jammed the blooded blade inside Bárthory's left shoulder.
'Do not challenge me, your Highness,' Minister Hermione said threateningly, obeying to the code. 'For today is a good day to die.'
Hermione snorted on the floor. Right now, whatever happened with Bárthory didn't interest her one iota. Things would change again anyway.
She was right.
Only this time, she wasn't an outsider looking at the action. She actually was inside her body as it used to be without any control over it. She tried to communicate with herself, tried to take over and move her mouth and say, 'Help.'
It was a futile action. She couldn't even move her own facial muscles to get rid of that huge smile that was painted on her face. She recalled not being able to get it off her face all day long. This was one of the happiest days of her life.
Content, she relaxed and decided to enjoy what was surely coming. If she couldn't do anything else, this was her next best option.
Hermione was sitting at her table in the restaurant of the hotel, watching all the cheerful people around her. Everybody was waiting excitedly until it was twelve o'clock and the ever so famous fireworks would illuminate the sky of Sydney, Australia, once more. However, for Hermione, the fireworks had already started.
'A drink for a beautiful lady,' Tom said, and he placed the glass on her table with a small bow.
'Why, sir, you are most kind,' Hermione responded, 'but to drink alone is such a pitiful sight. Who will I toast with?'
'Easily fixed,' Tom answered, and he removed his hand from his back in an exaggerated twirl to show her his own glass.
'Very convenient,' Hermione said approvingly.
'I am pleased you like my arrangement,' Tom replied, sitting down on the chair across from hers. 'What will we salute to?'
Hermione grinned at him deviously. 'How about your seventy-seventh birthday?' she suggested, sniggering.
Tom tilted his head, amused. 'Well, haven't you landed yourself an old, feeble man for a husband, Mrs Riddle,' he responded teasingly.
'Lucky me, it means I'll be getting plenty of sleep tonight,' Hermione said.
She let out a fake yawn and stretched her arms above her head before she grinned back mischievously at her now thoroughly shocked husband.
'Sleeping on your wedding night? What an appalling idea,' Tom muttered, shaking his head in disbelief over such a silly suggestion.
Hermione raised her glass, completely ignoring his muttering. 'Happy birthday, Tom.'
They tipped their glasses together, staring into each other's eyes like they were alone in the hotel's bar. Yet, nobody had eyes for the newlyweds as they drank their champagne heatedly.
'You know,' said Tom, placing his now empty glass on the table. 'I thought it was tradition that one hands someone a gift on their birthday?'
Quickly, he looked under the table. 'Nope.' He glanced behind Hermione's chair. 'Nothing there either.' His dark eyes darted up and down Hermione's body appreciatively. 'And you can't possibly be hiding anything in that itty, bitty, tiny dress you're wearing.'
'And here I was thinking you liked my tiny, itty, bitty dress,' Hermione said in a fake pout.
'Oh, I do … I am just wondering if we aren't breaking any laws in this country,' Tom said teasingly.
'Since when does that bother you?' Hermione teased back.
'Ouch,' Tom said, clutching his hands to his chest in an exaggerated move to demonstrate his dreadfully hurt feelings.
Hermione took another lazy sip from her champagne before she slowly rose from her chair, placed the glass on the table and stepped in front of him. Her hand cupped his handsome face that turned quite anticipatory when she squatted down on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.
'Just because you felt the need to wear far too much clothing on this incredibly hot summer's night, doesn't mean everyone is that foolish, dear,' Hermione said softly.
'You'd rather I had shocked you and your parents by wearing shorts to our wedding?' Tom whispered against her lips, laughing when he saw Hermione's appalled expression. 'And they say women have to suffer to look pretty.'
Hermione snorted. 'Oooh, I feel for you, baby,' she mocked and kissed him thoroughly on the lips.
As they deepened the kiss, she felt Tom's arms sneak around her waist, pulling her against his body tightly, while she was doing the same to him. All around them people were counting backwards, until shouts of 'Happy New Year!' flew all around them and the first pieces of firework burst into the night sky. They only had eyes for each other.
'Happy New Year, Tom.'
'Happy New Year, Hermione Riddle.'
Hermione tilted her head backwards and laughed out loud. She looked back at him and shook her head. 'I knew it. I knew this would turn you all smug and unbearable. I should have kept my own name,' she replied, sniggering.
Tom scowled. 'If you think for one minute I would have allowed that, Mrs Riddle, you are sorely mistaken. You are mine now, my dear,' he smoothly added, kissing her neck. 'And I intend to make full use of your services.'
'Men,' Hermione mocked, 'all talk and no play.'
'I am the wrong person to challenge, Mrs Riddle,' Tom whispered dangerously.
Hermione reached for another chocolate from the bowl on the table, and she held it in her hand as she leaned back a little bit. 'Promises, promises,' she added mischievously while she slowly placed the chocolate in her mouth with a naughty grin on her face.
In a blink of an eye, Tom was on his feet, lifting Hermione up in his arms. Quickly, she wrapped her legs around his waist and grabbed a hold of his neck again. Their foreheads came to rest against one another.
'I do love this petite dress of yours,' Tom said against her lips.
'Oh?' Hermione responded, faking ignorance. 'And why is that, Mr Riddle?'
'Easy access,' he explained, and he illustrated what he was going to do to her by crushing his mouth on hers and devouring her with his tongue thoroughly. Hermione's eyes fluttered shut and her hands roamed through his hair. She felt his arm around her waist tighten his grip while his other hand firmly took a hold of her head and kept it in place. A swift spin later, Tom Apparated them into their suite.
She'd no idea if it were the Apparition that triggered it. Upset, Hermione realised her vision was turning black. She got dragged away. Again.
She groaned, feeling thoroughly aroused as her blood still pounded through her veins with a vengeance. Merlin, she needed a shag. Desperately.
'This needs to be stopped,' Vishna said seriously.
'Permanently,' Vlad concurred.
Alarmed, Hermione's eyes snapped open, taking in the two vampire princes who normally could drink each other's blood in hatred. Instead, they were talking quite animatedly together.
'The Wizarding World is taking a risk that could eradicate us all,' Vishna said, sighing. 'I wish there was another way.'
'I'd love to wait for your precious witch, but she's not getting it done on time,' Vlad said harshly.
'I agree. How long till your forces are able to take over Europe?' Vishna asked.
'Depends on whether you can prevent them from getting backup. I can overrun Europe within the next twenty-four hours if nobody interferes.'
'It'll take me about twelve to concur South East Asia,' Vishna said absentmindedly. 'We'll have to divide our resources for the Americas. Salem's witches should be our primary target; they've got a long history in battling our kind.'
'Agreed. But don't forget about China. They've slaughtered us before the others knew how to make fire.'
'I made a deal with China. They'll stay out of it,' Vishna replied matter-of-factly. 'They're not too keen on Western Wizarding Societies and think this will benefit them.'
'Muhan's troups should be able to keep Africa in check,' Vlad added. 'If we've got it all done, we can always see what to do about Wizarding China.'
'I made a deal with them, Vlad.'
'I didn't. And even without you having to take over China, I'm quite surprised the rest of that area will only take you twelve hours. It makes me wonder just how many vampires you do have.'
'Enough to get that done in less than twelve hours.'
'You've been holding out on me,' Vlad replied, disgruntled. 'Sneaky bastard. We had a deal on the respective quota of our kind each of our clans were allowed to have.'
Vishna shrugged smugly. 'You were the one who insisted on not counting half-breeds. So, technically, I never broke our deal. My clan has the exact amount of full-blood vampires as is allowed by our treaty. Besides, this is a mute discussion for now.'
Vlad huffed. 'I'm not done discussing your deception, Vishna, but you're right. This will have to do for now. We'll start this campaign at sunset on your end of the globe.'
'Deal,' Vishna replied, shaking Vlad's outstretched hand.
'Tomorrow, this planet will be ours again,' Vlad said, satisfied.
Hermione swallowed. Darkness closed in on her. Not yet! She needed a date. They hadn't given her a date. When was this happening? Panicking, she tried to hold onto the images of the talking vampire princes.
Yet, she fell, fell into that bottomless abyss of nothingness.
Then, she was dancing, whirling away on the floor. People were laughing, screaming, crying, fighting, arguing, kissing, making love. Flashes were everywhere, deconstructing Time and Space. Hermione felt sick, beyond nauseated. It kept tumbling down and down and down again before her very eyes: St. Mungo's hospital. Structural integrity failures, bombs, storms, floods, fires, tornados, lightning strikes, curses, battles, a V2 direct hit in what should've been magically protected. She couldn't follow; her mind failed to comprehend. Over and over and over again, she was dancing, dancing with George in the makeshift ballroom right before disaster struck.
Now, there was nothing, a barren wasteland. Sand for as far as the eye could reach. Yet, somehow, she knew she was still there. Still in the centre of London that no longer existed. What was going on?
Hermione fell farther and farther into darkness until she stretched out her arms above her head and caressed the yew wand between her spidery fingers.
No! No, she couldn't be.
His thoughts were clear nevertheless. He'd instructed his Death Eaters to attack some stupid Muggle village in order for every Auror to be called in to protect their precious Muggles. There were so few Aurors left these days he was sure they'd be gone. He would not make that same mistake twice. There would be no one to protect the boy with despicable, ancient, love magic. As he approached the house, his snakelike face contorted in a sneer at identifying the worthless wards.
Some Aurors, his mind scolded. Did they really think this would stop him, the greatest wizard of all time?
No, no, no, no, Hermione yelled inside his mind. She didn't want to be here, didn't want to experience this version. She'd seen the horror at Godric's Hollow. Why did she have to bear witness again? From his perspective of all things?
The only ward worth mentioning had clearly been erected by the old coot, but it was like he'd not paid much attention either. They both knew he was destined to target the Potters after all. It seemed it had made the fool and the rest of his insipid Order as complacent as it could get. Well, today, Lord Voldemort would prevail. With a simple wave of his wand, he eradicated the protections around the house and moved on.
The door flew open, and a stunned Augusta Longbottom stared at him. 'B-but,' she stuttered, clutching to her wand, 'you're supposed to …'
His lipless mouth curved up. 'Go to the Potters and give up my and Hermione's life for the lot of you?' he snarled, whipping his wand. The Killing Curse struck his former classmate dead on, and he simply strolled past her. 'Guess again, Augusta.'
No, not Neville! Not Neville! Hermione yelled fruitlessly in his mind.
Loud crying filled his eardrums, and his eyes narrowed. He'd always hated the noise, despised how the little ones at the orphanage could scream their lungs out without consequences. This time, there would be one. He swung open the door to Neville Longbottom's bedroom. Weeping loudly about his loss, the tiny baby was trying to reach through the bars of his cot for a green toy frog that had fallen on the ground.
No! Hermione screamed desperately. Take me, please take me instead. Just let me die, Tom!
A green toy, how suiting, he thought sardonically. He raised his wand.
With delight, he saw the light disappear from the eyes and the baby's body fell down. Dead, just as its useless frog. Time had changed forever.
Everything spun out of control. The world was burning around her. Victory! She'd won.
Her brown, bushy hair whirled in the wind. People kneeled in fear before her, followers and enemies alike. Her power was overwhelming, intoxicating, forcing them into submission. Nobody could stop her now. Nobody.
She'd beaten them all.
With a cry, Hermione opened her eyes, flailing her arms around in distress. Terror and panic filled her as pain beyond belief burned in every single one of her muscles. She was in their house's bedroom again. Rose—who'd never been here before—was fast asleep beside her in the bed, not waking from her movements or distress-filled cries. Hermione saw Tom startle and jump out of the chair he'd fallen asleep in. Merlin, her head burned. She closed her eyes and dug her hands into her hair, needing this insane experience to stop. Why wasn't it stopping? She thrashed in the bed. Too much pain, too many memories. Someone had to stop this.
Long fingers curled around her wrists. Hermione froze upon feeling the contact.
'Don't move,' Tom said softly, pulling her arms back to her side as he sat down on the bed next to her waist. A tingle ran through her. She realised a spell had impacted her body, making it impossible for her to move her limbs anymore. 'You'll only make it worse by moving.'
He was acknowledging she was here! Touching her! Talking to her! Looking at her!
Why, shit, just my luck.
'You – you can see me?' she asked, fearful this was just another nightmare and she was imagining things.
A single eyebrow rose. 'You're kind of impossible to ignore,' he teased.
'What is the date? When am I?' she asked, looking around frantically and wincing from the pain that erupted inside.
Tom frowned. 'It's only been a couple of hours after you passed out upon your bold lie.' Here, he appraised her rather smugly. 'You need to stop moving, Hermione, please.' He leaned forward and cupped her face. 'Or I will have to immobilise your head, too. I was able to patch your critical, life-threatening wounds. But it's only that: a patch, not a full cure yet. You can easily rupture something again until the healing potion has taken.'
'Life-threatening wounds … when have I sustained those?' she asked, puzzled. 'Oh no, this is just another reality. I'm not really here. This isn't true. I'm imagining things. I should've known. Rose has never been here. My head … I'm going crazy. I—I—'
Tom's hand came to rest on her forehead. When she realised what he was going to do, she panicked even more.
'No, no, no please!' she yelled in a high-pitch, freezing him. 'Don't put me to sleep. I can't fall asleep. It'll happen again,' she said with a sob.
His eyes widened in confusion and worry when she began crying relentlessly, her body shaking.
He gently spoke in a voice one used to address skittish animals. Yet, she didn't seem to be hearing him. What the hell was going on with her? She wasn't prone to panic attacks. On the contrary, she was as collected as one could get under the most dire of circumstances. However, he needed her to calm down now before she would rupture a major blood vessel. Alas, for some reason, falling asleep seemed to terrorise her beyond imagination, which excluded that option for him. The risk of her terror sustaining itself in her unconscious state without his knowledge was too great a risk to take. He was not going to lose her. She had to calm down. He had to use their bond to his advantage, somehow. He stepped back contemplatively and forced himself to eradicate the worry inside of him before carefully levitating her and Rose to the side and crawling in bed himself. Cautiously, he lowered them next to him. Then, he wrapped his arms around Hermione protectively and pulled her on top of his chest, holding her tightly in his embrace whilst stroking with his hand through her hair soothingly.
'It's all right,' he said, hushing her in a low voice. 'I'm right here. You're safe. No one will hurt you. Nothing bad will happen. Just relax, Hermione. Feel my emotions. I know you can. Tune into them.'
He could sense her taking the lifeline he was throwing her, feel her body relax against his as she stopped crying and composed herself by tapping into his emotions.
'That's my girl,' he said proudly.
A part of her wanted to scold him for his smug self-importance, but she was too thankful for his interference and assistance to criticise his character now. With her cheek resting on his chest and their bond connecting them fully, she finally felt anchored to this reality.
They could always argue about the details later, she reckoned. Right now, she just wanted to hold onto this peaceful moment for as long as she could.
A/N: I have no idea what went wrong with this doc but it wouldn't upload, so I had to use an old doc on ffnet and change the contents from that one to this in order to get this chapter posted. *keeps fingers crossed this will work*