A/N: Unsure whether I love this or loathe this. It's a sequel to Wait for the Song to Stop, (not Dance with the Dark Lord, pssht, my document labels and my actual titles don't always correlate, thanks to Kako for spotting that one) and it's probably fairly important you read that one first. Of all the fics that I could have written sequels to, I didn't expect it to be that one. I love that Tom though, much more than I love my other Toms. You'll probably see more of these over the next few weeks, I heart him. Let me know what you think!
"You ready?" Ron asked.
"I suppose so," she replied.
"Don't worry, I won't make you dance," he said, smiling warmly.
Hermione returned the smile and sighed.
"I did this, this whole thing before," she said, sitting down in one of the worn armchairs in the Gryffindor common room, her hands twisting in her lap. "And it was absolutely awful. I hated every second."
"What, d'you mean when you went back to -"
"Yes," she replied quickly.
"Who did you go with?" Ron asked.
Hermione laughed nervously. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you." She stood up, pulling a face when she saw Lavender and Seamus, giving quite a show to the rest of the common room.
"Is Ginny still mad at Harry?" Ron asked.
"Probably. I tried to explain to her, but she thinks he shouldn't be going with anyone at all if he's not allowed to take her. I told her that you and I were going as friends, but apparently that's different."
"I don't know what she's worried about," Ron said, a confused frown perched on his brow. "It's only Eloise Midgen, it's not like he's taking...I dunno, someone..."
"Someone what?" Hermione demanded.
"Someone he fancies," Ron replied triumphantly. "And the girl's a bit of a charity case, surely Gin can let her have a bit of a dance with Harry?"
Hermione shrugged. "Come on, let's get this over and done with."
Luckily for Hermione, Ron kept his promise. He didn't make her dance, (she wasn't even sure that he could dance to be perfectly honest) he seemed too preoccupied with the buffet table to be worried about anything else.
"Are you and Ron -?"
"No," Hermione cut Harry off before he could finish the question.
Harry nodded. "Right."
Ron sat down on Harry's other side, his plate piled high with various delicacies from the buffet table. He had a scowl on his face.
"What's the matter?" Harry asked.
"Someone's nicked the vol-au-vents!" he said disgustedly. "I only had a couple as well! They were really nice!"
Hermione smiled, the night she had first gone through this ridiculous ceremony seeming like a life time ago. She wondered whether Lord Voldemort still had the same fondness for vol-au-vents he did when he was a teenager.
"I'm sure you'll survive, Ron," Harry said. "D'you think she looks like she wants to dance?"
Hermione looked over to where Eloise Midgen was standing, on her own, all of her friends on the dance floor with their various dance partners.
"Yes, go and dance with her and I don't want to see you back here for at least five songs!"
Harry sighed. "She kept treading on my feet last time, I don't -"
"She's probably just nervous, for goodness' sake, Harry, just dance with her." Hermione turned to Ron. "I'm going to get some punch, d'you want some?"
Ron nodded through a mouthful of scotch egg and Hermione got up, weaving her way through the crowds. She wondered if Draco was anything like his grandfather, she wouldn't mind adding a bit of Firewhiskey to her drink tonight. She had only been in there for half an hour and she was already feeling sick. There was still a considerable amount of time before she could get away with leaving, and even longer until the ball actually finished.
She frowned. Was it even right to be having a ball while Lord Voldemort was out there, strong, and planning to take a hold of the wizarding world with no plans to relinquish his grip in the immediate future? She supposed it was the British thing to do. Carry on regardless, stiff upper lip and all of that, and there was something to be admired in that, yet even so, she couldn't help but feel it was inappropriate.
She had just reached the punch bowl when she saw him, leaning against the doorway of the Great Hall, looking quite inconspicuous. Nobody had noticed him, and if they had, they certainly hadn't recognised him. Hermione could barely believe it herself and wondered for a second whether somebody else had already had the idea about adding some Firewhiskey to the punch.
He tilted his head, glancing over his shoulder before he disappeared from view. Hermione looked over to where Ron was sitting, chatting with Dean about something that looked like it would keep them sufficiently distracted while Hermione went to find out whether she was seeing things or not.
If it was him...well, it seemed like they were in big trouble. But it couldn't be. For a start, the man leaning against the door frame had been Tom Riddle, not Lord Voldemort. He had been clean shaven, his jet black hair parted to one side, his grey eyes piercing her own, even at that distance.
Making a decision she was quite sure she would later regret, Hermione headed to the entrance hall, quickly apologising when she bumped into some Ravenclaw girls who were discussing each other's dates.
"Long time no see," he said, a smirk on his face as he leaned against the staircase. He held a silver tray up to her as she approached. "Vol-au-vent?"
"How -?" Hermione didn't finish the question, she didn't even know which question to ask first.
"I made a promise, didn't I?"
Hermione cast her mind back to the first time she had attended the Graduation Ball, over fifty years ago.
"I have to go through all of this again," Hermione said glumly, taking a sip of her punch. She had grown used to the sharpness of the Firewhiskey now, and her expression didn't change as it seared down her throat. It was almost pleasant, in an odd way.
A wry smile formed on Tom's lips. "I could arrange to have you killed before the ball. Send me a reminder nearer the time and you'll be dead before light of the next day."
"So, would you still like me to kill you?"
Hermione blinked. "How are you...like that?" she gestured towards his dark dress robes and he looked rather pleased with himself.
"Polyjuice potion. Quite simple really. I saved a few hairs from my younger days, in case I needed to be dashing and handsome again."
At that moment a girl ran crying from the Great Hall, a blonde haired boy chasing after her.
"Valerie I didn't mean it like that!" he called after her, rushing up the steps.
Tom's lips were pressed together in disapproval. "Somewhere a little more private, perhaps?"
Hermione shook her head in disbelief. "Absolutely not!" she hissed. "How dare you come here? How dare you! After everything you've -" she was silenced by a casual flick of his wand but she continued to rant, not caring that he couldn't hear a word she was saying.
"I made you a promise, and I am merely keeping it. Don't tell me you're enjoying yourself in there."
Hermione scowled at him.
"It's a pity you weren't wearing that dress when I took you before. I think I may have enjoyed the evening a little more if you had." His eyes travelled down her slender form, taking in the flowing layers red satin, a small smile of approval momentarily gracing his face.
Hermione's scowl deepened.
"Anyway," he said, "I bought you this." He reached into the pocket of his robes and pulled out a small glass bottle, a tiny amount of purple liquid swirling around inside of it. "It's a sleeping draught. It'll knock you out within seconds and you'll stay that way until...ooh, well after midnight. I assumed you'd be less keen on the idea of dying when the time actually came so I took the liberty of brewing this."
A flick of his wand and Hermione's voice returned.
"You have to be mad," Hermione said in disbelief. "As if I'd take any potion from you, I can't believe you're even here, it's -"
"Hermione you're beginning to bore me. Actually, no, you already have bored me, but you are beginning to test my patience. A lot."
"Leave," Hermione said, taking her wand out of her dress robes and making sure it was held firmly in her hand. She ran through several defensive spells in her head, and then a few nastier ones that might send him on his way. There were a hundred students and a dozen teachers in the Great Hall. He didn't have any Death Eaters with him (unless you counted Malfoy, and she didn't, not really) so really, logistically speaking, he didn't stand a chance, did he?
"Hermione there's no need for violence, this is just a flying visit. You take this," he pressed the bottle into her hand and closed her fingers around it. "and use it as you see fit. Throw it away for all I care, it's just me keeping a promise."
Hermione kept her eyes focused on the painting of Wilhelmina the Whacky, which was hanging just above his shoulder, her crooked teeth protruding from her mouth as she gossiped about Sir Cadogan to the Fat Lady's friend, Violet.
"I suppose there's no reason for me to hang around, though I think I'll take these with me, are you sure you won't have one before I steal them?"
Hermione looked down at the tray of vol-au-vents and shook her head, wanting nothing more than for him to leave. Actually, she wanted nothing more for her to wake up and realise that this was all just a ridiculous dream and the Graduation Ball was still a week away. Unfortunately it didn't look like that was going to happen any time soon.
"Oh dear, Hermione, what happened? You used to be so good at holding a conversation. Never mind. One last thing though, let's see if your dance skills have improved."
"No." Hermione stepped backwards, shaking her head.
Tom stepped forwards and put an arm around her waist. "One dance, and then I'll go."
Hermione shook her head again. "No."
Tom leaned forward to whisper into her ear. "You'll dance with me, or I will go up to Gryffindor tower right this second and kill every miserable little muggle loving fool that I find up there," he spat the last half of the sentence, every word filled with venom.
Hermione returned her wand carefully to its hiding place inside her robes and placed her hand on his shoulder, saying nothing. He took her other hand in his, the bottle of sleeping draught held tightly between the palms of their hands and a slow number started up, the sound spilling out of the temporary ballroom, into the Entrance Hall.
"What if someone sees?" she murmured into his shoulder as they swayed gently round in a circle.
Without breaking the rhythm Tom guided her into the small recess under the staircase. "When did you get back?" he asked quietly.
"A couple of months ago," Hermione replied.
"What can have changed in a couple of months? We used to almost be friends."
"I'd been thrown back fifty years in time; it makes you a little hysterical, believe me," she said, not concentrating on her dance moves, relying entirely on Tom to make it seem anything like a dance. "It wasn't real, but this?" she paused, her cheek resting against his shoulder. "It's real, and you've killed people. You're a monster. You have to take Polyjuice potion to look even remotely human, I just...I think I was just going with it last time. I had this feeling like I was invincible because everyone I cared about was back here where you couldn't hurt them."
"You prove my point. Caring about people is foolish. It makes you weak."
"I'm not expecting you to change your mind. You know I disagree, let's leave it at that."
They continued to dance for a few more minutes until the song drew to a close. Hermione pulled away from him as soon as the final beat sounded and smoothed down her dress robes.
"Fine," Tom said. "If that's what you want. That's not poison you know," he nodded towards the bottle in Hermione's hand. "It is just a sleeping draught. Go back in, and if you decide to take it, I'll make sure you don't hit your head when you fall."
"How kind," Hermione said sourly. "I think I'll pass."
"Suit yourself," he said. "I guess I'll see you around."
Hermione watched as he strode away from her, out of the door leading to the grounds, down the steps and into the darkness. She rolled her eyes and walked back to the Great Hall, the music and chatter growing louder the closer she got.
Once inside, she made her way to the punch bowl, still needing the drink she had meant to get over fifteen minutes ago.
"Hermione! Want to dance?" A dark haired boy seemed to pop up from nowhere, a wide smile on his face.
"Oh, no thanks Terry. I'm not feeling too well, I think I should skip this one."
Terry didn't seem too perturbed. "Okay, maybe later, hope you feel better!"
Hermione smiled briefly at him and moved on through the crowds. She took a glass of punch and headed towards a quiet corner of the hall, already sick of the hustling and bustling despite the fact that she'd only been back in there for two minutes. She held up the bottle of sleeping draught to the candle light. It certainly looked like a sleeping draught. She uncorked it and held it up to her nose, inhaling the scent. It made her feel sleepy, in the same way that a perfectly brewed sleeping draught would.
She looked out onto the hoards of students, then back to the bottle. She repeated this several times before deciding that even if it was poison, someone amongst the dozens of fully qualified wizards would be able to knock up an antidote, and anything was better than sitting through this all evening.
Hermione emptied the liquid into her glass, and a puff of blue smoke erupted from the mixture of punch and potion. So far so good, it seemed. She got up and headed over towards a busier area of the hall – if she was going to collapse it was best to do it around people, after all.
She smiled at Parvati, who waved frantically at her while she chatted to her sister. Hermione then raised her glass to her lips and drank, a pleasant heat seeping over her body as the potion spread like wildfire through her veins. If this was poison, it was certainly a pleasant way to go.
She didn't register the fact that she was falling, nor the fact that she was falling in slow motion.
She was unconscious before she hit the floor, and didn't see Tom Riddle disappear from the other side of the stained glass window behind her.
When she awoke the first thing she noticed was that it was dark. The second thing she noticed was that she was in bed. The third thing she noticed was that she was alive.
"The ball finished two hours ago, you lucky, lucky thing."
Hermione looked over to see Tom sitting in the chair by her bed, one leg crossed over the other, elbows resting on the arms of the chair with his long fingers pressed together.
"I thought you'd gone."
"You thought wrong, then, didn't you?" Tom uncrossed his legs and leaned forward. "It was a sleeping draught and it was very wrong of you to assume it was anything else, wasn't it?"
Hermione said nothing.
"But, it was also very silly of you to drink it, bearing in mind the assumption you had made. Did you leave your brain back in the forties? Along with your conversation skills?"
Again, she said nothing.
"No matter, perhaps I'll be able to loosen your tongue another way," he reached into the pocket of his robes and drew his wand out.
"What are you doing?" Hermione demanded, scrambling into a sitting position and hastily looking around for her wand.
Tom frowned and waved his wand. Two glasses appeared, along with a bottle of Odgen's Old Firewhiskey.
Hermione relaxed slightly, but only slightly.
Tom waved his wand again and the two glasses were filled. He picked both of them up, pressed one into Hermione's hand, not letting go until he was sure she had a firm grip on it, and then raised his own glass in a toast. "What should we toast to? Something we'll both agree on, preferably."
"Not peace on Earth then?" Hermione said sarcastically, cautiously sniffing her glass of whiskey.
"You don't believe in peace on Earth? Hermione you surprise me," he pulled her glass out of her hand and replaced it with his own.
Hermione smiled in spite of herself, finding it ridiculously easy to slip back into her old habits from fifty years ago. The best idea was probably to indulge him, keep him sweet, and then send him on his way. Of course keeping Lord Voldemort sweet was easier said than done, but if she drank her whiskey and threw in a few sarcastic comments he would probably be satisfied.
"To intelligence, advances in magic, and the progression of wizardkind," he said at last, raising his glass.
"I suppose I can drink to that," Hermione said, touching her glass to his, wincing when there was a clink so loud that she was sure Madame Pomfrey would come rushing out of her office to demand what all the racket was.
"I thought you'd be able to," Tom said, taking a sip of his whiskey.
Hermione winced as the red hot liquid washed around her mouth, burning her throat as she swallowed it. She coughed, and Tom took her glass from her to prevent her from spilling it, setting it down on the bedside cabinet.
"Been a while?"
"I haven't had any since I went to the ball with you," Hermione croaked, wiping at her watery eyes. She coughed again and screwed her face up, trying to recover. "Even then it was mixed with the punch."
"Don't worry, you'll get used to it," said Tom, topping up both of their glasses. "We've got all night."
"Have we?" Hermione asked sceptically.
"Oh absolutely. Don't worry your little Gryffindor head about it though, I'll be gone by morning."
"I promise, and you know I keep my promises." Tom handed her glass back to her. "Drink up, there's a good girl."
Hermione raised the glass to her lips without a second thought.