Hello Lovely Readers!
Well it's taken a long time but the sequel is finally up! First of all I would like to thank my wonderful beta TIADORABLE for her current and future fantastic work.
Next I would like to let you all know that there is a FORUM up for all your theories and questions about One Timeless Chance, A Timeless Teaser, and One Timeless Choice. There were a lot of people asking the same questions in their reviews so rather than typing the same answer over and over again the general discussion forum is up there for all of you to see!
Now without further adue I give you One Timeless Choice!
Prologue: I'll Never Tell
"Very well," he said as he raised his wand. This was it. She squeezed the object on Severus' hip and tried to set it into motion while she removed the object from Draco's back.
"There's nothing more to say then," she said to him calmly.
"Nothing at all," he replied. Severus' hip made a small clicking sound and she knew it wouldn't be long. She clutched to the handle of the object in her other hand tightly and waited for Riddle to make a move.
"Goodbye Miss Evans," he whispered, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
All three of them jumped out of the way, Severus and Draco diving for their wands as Hermione grabbed hers before leaping behind the bed and returning fire. Abraxus and the other men quickly joined the fight too and wands were all soon blazing with jets of blue and yellow and green light. Hermione had to move several times as the killing curse narrowly missed her as it shot straight through the bed.
"Severus!" She yelled over the ferocious wand-fire, "How long?"
He looked down at his hip briefly as another jet of green light flew over his head before swiftly ducking behind the summoned chair and using it as a shield.
"Thirty seconds!" He yelled back, "Be ready for it Draco!"
Draco nodded as he shot another spell back at Riddle and narrowly missed. Abraxus shot another at Severus and he was hit squarely in the chest by Hermione's stunner. It was just the four of them after that, lights ablazing, adrenaline running through their veins. When Severus shot her a frantic glance, Hermione knew that her time in this era was almost over. Her world seemed to slow down around her almost to a guided stop. Spells no longer soared but glided past her vision and debris appeared to float rather than shoot in all directions. She saw Severus running to get to Draco and knew that it was time to move. She stood from behind the couch and began to run towards Draco as well. It was the slowest sprint of her young life. As she finally reached them the brightest students that Hogwarts had ever seen launched their final attacks.
Hermione launched the dagger she had detached from Draco's back straight at Riddle.
Riddle launched the only weapon he had left.
He didn't see her disappear into thin air, he didn't even see the dagger that had been hurled towards him. All he could see was failure. And as the knife connected with his shoulder, as it pierced his skin and dug itself deep within his flesh and blood and bone, all he could think about was what he had lost.
A great power.
A formidable ally.
A…companion of sorts, though that one was the least of his worries.
Hermione Evans was an untapped resource, a woman who had the knowledge and, with a bit of training, power to help him realise his most unreachable dreams but if that was going to happen at all he had to control her.
Unfortunately that had proven to be a near impossible task. She had fought the mark he had placed on her arm, she didn't fall for his charms like any other girl- But what was he thinking? She wasn't like any other girl! That was both the problem and what made her so important. She wasn't daft or silly or even remotely blinded by anything he did. She was smart, decisive and cunning all the way through. She would have played him for a fool if he had let her.
But he wouldn't. That much he knew.
And now that he had come to this conclusion, he could feel the pain she had just inflicted upon him. The wound was deep, the tip almost poking through to the other side of his body, the blood running freely. He looked over at the unconscious Abraxus on the other side of the room and snarled. Why did his subordinates get to be so lucky? He grabbed a piece of rubble and hurled it at the daft blond with his good arm, allowing it to land right on his forehead, almost between his eyes. The boy stirred and Tom threw another one at him, becoming more and more irritated by the minute. Abraxus finally woke, opening his eyes slowly, taking time to remember why he was on his master's floor, covered in dust and rubble and what appeared to be blood.
"Get over here you dolt and remove this knife from my body before I curse you into oblivion," his master whispered coldly, his eyes icier than he had ever seen them before. Abraxus struggled to his feet and swayed slightly as he moved over to Tom slowly, as though trying not to collapse again. He then kneeled before him and hesitated, his hands on the hilt.
"Perhaps we should get-"
"You will get no one," Tom ordered him, his voice carrying the air of a well placed threat, "Just take it out quickly."
Abraxus took a deep breath before tightening his grip and then pulling with all his might. Tom let out a short grunt of pain and screwed his face up but didn't protest. He then took the dagger from the blond and threw it under the bed where no one would notice it.
"Go and get Gertrude, Dumbledore and Dippet before I bleed to death," he told him harshly.
"But Dumbledore would-"
"How many times must I tell you pathetic worms not to second guess my orders!" Tom roared, "GO!"
"Yes my Lord," he whispered, bowing and then departing.
Tom sat there for a while trying not to pass out from blood loss. He couldn't do that. There was no way he could rely upon Abraxus to come up with a halfway decent cover story for the mess they had made in his chambers and the disappearance of one of the school's brightest students. He had to stay awake, for his own sake he had to stay awake. It would require a monumental performance to convince even Dippet of what had happened.
The blond was back within minutes with Madam Gertrude in toe and Dumbledore, Dippet and Slughorn close behind. Gertrude immediately went to work as the others stared in awe at the damage that had been done. There was a massive hole in the wall, rubble everywhere, the fireplace was damaged beyond repair and every piece of furniture had been overturned. In short, they could tell that the battle that had preceded this mess had been hell personified.
"Merlin's beard Tom!" Dippet exclaimed, "What happened here? Where is Miss Evans?"
"Grindlewald came," he pretended to grunt at Gertrude's ministrations, "He…Took Evans…Left me for dead."
Dumbledore looked sceptical as ever but Slughorn couldn't care less what had really happened.
"Where is she now?" He asked, "Do you know where he took her?"
"No," Tom ground out, "I came in and there he was…torturing her…Told her she had- argh, no right to decimate his-his ranks like that…He just about killed her."
"Why did we not hear the wards go off?" Dumbledore asked, "How is it he came in?"
Gertrude poured potions down Tom's throat before he could answer and then stood him up, asking him how he felt and he remarked that he was much better.
"There is a vanishing cabinet," he told them gravely after a while, still pretending to be out of breath, "It is on the fifth floor behind the portrait of Sir Codagon. Grindlewald has the counterpart. He used it to enter the castle and take care of her…"
At his words he proceeded to make his breathing shorter and let his face fall into anguish and pain.
"It should have been me," he whispered, "He should have taken me."
"Oh Tom," Slughorn came forward and wrapped an arm around the boy's shoulders, "I'm so sorry, I know what she meant to you."
As Slughorn comforted him Dumbledore stared at the great actor while Dippet made a fire call to the ministry to alert them of what was going on. Tom knew that Dumbledore would not believe him no matter how well he played it. Dumbledore was a lost cause and he had resigned himself to that fact many years ago when he had first met the old fool. But the look on his face at the moment showed nothing but uncertainty. Uncertainty but most of all fear.
"Armando," he suddenly said, making Dippet pull his head out of the fireplace, "You will have to grant me a month's leave I am afraid."
"But-but Dumbledore the castle has just been attacked, a student has been taken! I can't possibly allow you-"
"It is for those very reasons you must allow me to leave," he told him firmly, "I'm going to find and retrieve Miss Evans."
Tom stiffened at this but managed to keep his cool and look upon the future Headmaster with appraising eyes. With those final words and without waiting for confirmation from Dippet, Dumbledore left the rooms hurriedly. Gertrude then proceeded to order Tom and Abraxus up to the Hospital Wing where Dippet and Slughorn followed them closely behind. Tom was not surprised to see Eileen sit up in her bed, sipping on a cup of hot cocoa that had been conjured for her as well as a frantic Druella fussing over a now only half bandaged Cygnus who was fighting his way out of bed. He was in no state to be moving but it was clear he was eager to try and get out of the Hospital Wing for whatever reason. Tom could certainly guess what it was.
He was promptly told off by the nurse and shoved back in bed just as Druella had told him to be. The air was thick with tension as the five students in the room glared at one another for various reasons.
Druella glared at Cygnus for ignoring her earlier orders and then glared at Tom and Abraxus for putting him there in the first place.
Cygnus glared at Druella for ordering him around, but only half heartedly, and then at Tom and Abraxus for putting him in there and for whatever they had done to Eileen and Hermione.
Eileen glared at Druella and Cygnus for not being able to shut up and making her headache worse than it was, she then glared at Abraxus for his betrayal of her trust and putting her in the Hospital Wing and then at Tom for whatever he had done to Hermione.
Abraxus glared at Cygnus for glaring at him, at Druella for being such a mess and didn't even look at Eileen.
Tom just glared at the lot of them for their idiocy.
As the afternoon wore on, so did the silence. They sat there for hours as Gertrude did her best to heal them and said nothing. But the silence was louder than any words could be. It wasn't until well after midnight that Gertrude finally departed for her own quarters, giving them all a firm warning that if they didn't go to sleep straight away she would know. She had tried to order Druella out but she plainly refused to leave and threatened that if the Mediwitch sent for anyone else she would curse them both and laugh as she did it. Gertrude had learned long ago not to doubt the word of a Slytherin and so she left her there by Cygnus' side.
That was when it began. The moment the doors were closed and Gertrude was out of earshot, four wands were drawn and aimed in all directions.
"You, Prince, are going to suffer for what you did to me," Tom seethed.
"And you, Riddle, are going to die a horrible death for everything you did to Hermione Evans," she hissed back.
"Eileen just back off-"
"No, not this time Malfoy," she sneered, "I'm not afraid of him anymore and now I realise I never should have been in the first place. He has had power over my life long enough."
"Eileen's right," Druella sneered, "I'm sick of him telling us all what to do, thinking we're all beneath him. I've had it! I won't let him hurt us anymore!"
"And what are you going to do about it Rosier?" Tom smirked, "Attempt to put make up on me?"
"I'll do more than make your face pretty Riddle," she spat, going to cast a spell but her arm was caught by a surprisingly strong Cygnus. He had managed to get himself out of bed long enough to stop the impending fight.
"Stop," he rasped, "All of you."
Druella instantly dropped her wand and went to place him back in bed but he wouldn't let her. Eileen kept her eyes and wand trained on Riddle and Riddle did the same. Out of all of them she was the biggest threat in the room. Abraxus faltered in his resolve slightly but did not lower his wand.
"The last thing any of us needs is a fight," Cygnus continued, "You may have been able to explain your way out of disaster today Riddle, but how would you explain three cursed students in a locked Hospital wing?"
Tom hated to admit it but the cripple had a point.
"He wouldn't get that far," Eileen sneered, "I'd turn him into a tea cosy before he got anywhere near any of us."
"I'd like to see you try," Riddle growled.
"Alright th- ah!"
A jet of light flew across the room before Eileen could do anything else and her wand flew from her hands and was caught gracefully by Abraxus.
"Enough," he told her, "You can't take him Eileen. You know it."
"Then I'll die trying!" She screamed at him, "You as well! Give me back my wand before I tear you apart!"
"And just how are you going to do that when you have no weapon Prince?" Tom rolled his eyes.
"Quite easily," she spat as she pulled several potions from her pockets, "You remember what I did my father's drug dealer, don't you Riddle?"
Tom stiffened considerably. He did remember quite vividly what this witch was capable of with a steady cauldron and a few simple ingredients. It seemed that Abraxus did too as his face contorted into an expression of horror in the moonlight.
"Not so tough now are you?" She sneered, "You have no idea what I'm carrying inside this vial, no way of knowing what could happen if you used your wand on it and now you have no idea of what to do. Well I have news for you Riddle, nothing can stop this potion from doing it's worst, not even you."
"And you can shut it too!" She yelled at Abraxus, "You're going to meet the same fate as well! I guarantee it!"
"Eileen stop!" Cygnus yelled at her, "Think about what you're doing!"
"That's right Prince," Riddle sneered, "I have the entire castle eating out of the palm of my hand except for you three. How do you think they would take it if they found me dead in the morning? They've already lost their beloved Italian soldier…You can forget going to Azkaban, you'd be dead within hours."
"I don't care," she growled, "I couldn't care less about going to prison or being murdered by your minions! It would all be worth it just to see your pathetic head severed from your body and rolling before my feet!"
"Unfortunately for you Prince that will never happen," Tom told her, "I'll tell you something that will happen though. You, at my feet, begging for mercy before I kill you with my own cold hands. I will make you scream before the end."
If she hadn't been so angry, if she hadn't been so fired up she would have felt a chill run up her spine. She knew that she had now been placed in the number one spot on his hit list but for it all she didn't care. He had reigned over her long enough and for the first time in her life she felt her first taste of real self-control, real power.
Then her anger seemed to dissipate. She suddenly felt calm, eerily so. For a moment she thought that Riddle or Abraxus or even Cygnus had cast some kind of spell on her but then she realised that this was all her own doing.
It was then that she smiled at him.
"You're scared," she said quietly, "That's why you drew your wand, that's why you stand here with your lackey making threats at me. You are scared."
Tom narrowed his eyes at her but said nothing and so she went on.
"If I was no threat to you then you would have stayed in your bed, waited for me to attack you and then claimed innocence in the morning if you somehow won," she told him, "But you are frightened of me now because I am no longer frightened of you. You can't bully me anymore, you can't laud some life debt over my head and now you don't know what to do."
"Shut it Prince," he spat.
"I don't think so Riddle," she almost laughed, "Haven't you been listening? I'm not afraid of you anymore! In fact I should probably be thanking you! You've just given me my first taste of real freedom and you know what…" she put her potions away, "That means more to me than your corpse ever will."
The others all stared at her in confusion, Abraxus most of all who had never seen her act this way. He and Cygnus had known her a long time, been friends with her for so long that they were probably the only people who knew her well and they had never seen her change emotions so drastically.
With a ghostly smile she walked over to Cygnus, not taking her eyes from Tom until she wrapped her arms around him and Druella at the same time.
"Take care of yourselves," she told them both, "Be happy together and don't let this great prick ruin your lives."
To their surprise it was Abraxus who spoke.
"What are you doing?" He asked her with shocked eyes as she strode over to the doors.
"What does it look like, idiot?" She countered.
"Y-you can't leave!" He exclaimed, grasping at straws, "I have your wand!"
"Honestly don't you read?" She rolled her eyes in the most Hermione-ish fashion, "You just disarmed me and caught it without letting it touch the floor. It doesn't belong to me anymore. Besides, there are others out there I can use."
They all looked at her completely horrified apart from Tom who looked murderous. This was the second time today that he was going to lose something of his and there wasn't a god damn thing he could do about it!
"Why on earth would I stay?" Eileen laughed, "There's nothing keeping me here anymore."
She looked over at Tom who was breathing so heavily she could have shot him in the dark.
"Nothing," she whispered before turning around and blasting the doors off their hinges with one of her potions, "I'll see you all in hell when retribution finally catches up with me for my sins."
And with that, she walked out of the room and out of their lives. Her ghostly smile stayed planted on her lips until she reached the Hogwarts gates and left the school behind forever…well, at least until her son would come along. It had taken a lot of thinking inside the hospital wing to figure out what had really been happening when Leopold had been explaining to her where he was from and what he, Hermione and Draco were there to do. But she had finally figured out that even though the man was blond he still had the Prince characteristics that her mother had always taught her to value. The dark eyes, the pale skin and the general aura of power and authority all belonged to her family.
If she could take comfort from anything that had come her way in the last forty eight hours it was the fact that she had raised a beautiful son that would end up on the right side, no matter how long it took him to get there.
It had taken far too long for Tom's liking for Madam Gertrude to release them from the Hospital Wing but there really was nothing he could do about it. After Eileen had departed so unexpectedly she had been completely hell bent upon making sure that even the slightest sniffle was cured before they were all allowed the time to leave.
Upon his release Tom was given Hermione Evans' old quarters in place of his own for the rest of the school year where there was still nothing but rubble and dust present where his glorious head boy rooms once stood. He roamed around the rooms for hours, taking in her possessions that she had left behind and snooping through all the unwarded drawers and closet openings. Even though she had moved herself into his quarters before Christmas he realised that she had kept these ones in tact and stocked in case she ever needed to escape from him for an evening.
Either that or she used it to hide her uncle and Malone, he thought irately. It still bothered him that such a chit of a woman had fooled him so greatly. It still bothered him that such a woman had fooled him so greatly that she had now slipped from his grasp entirely and would never return. He was no fool, he knew there would never be another like her, so cunning, so talented, almost his equal in every way…
Before long he found himself wondering back to his own rooms and investigating the rubble once more. He hadn't had time to do so before Dumbledork and the others had arrived. Amongst the over turned furniture he found quite a few things that held his interest. A piece of cloth with her blood on it, some of her old clothing that Prince had stripped from her before laying her in the bed to rest…what was most interesting of all though were two pieces of parchment that had been left and forgotten on the floor by the bed.
He read them both carefully…
Dear Miss Evans
Although you may be frightened by this message I must implore you not to be. I do not mean for this to strike fear in your heart nor hinder whatever mission you may be on. I simply ask that you meet me at Florien Fortescue's Ice-cream shop at One o'clock on Sunday the 23rd of December to discuss your current predicament.
I hope very much that this letter finds you well and that I may be able to help you in some way.
The first was no shock to him. It was obvious that from the way Ollivander had looked at her that day he had given her the new wand that he knew something was amiss. He would recognise that tiny script anywhere and Ollivander was the only one daft enough to approach someone who was on a mission and offer to help at the risk of having his head sliced off. It only made sense. What didn't make sense was why he hadn't signed his name. He would have to find out later on whether Hermione actually attended this meeting or not.
It was the second letter that caught his eye…
The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at Number Thirty Six, Spinner's End.
Despite his name, Tom had never been a fan of Riddles and this one was no exception. He quickly stuffed both inside his pockets before diving beneath the bed to retrieve the blade he had cast under there earlier in the week. It was now stained with his blackened blood right to the hilt but the gold still shone through as he placed it in the sunlight.
"Searching for clues Tom?"
He swung around quickly only to see Albus Dumbledore staring at him coldly from the doorway.
"You're back so soon Professor?" He asked politely, "Did you find her?"
"I think you and I both know that answer to that question Tom," Dumbledore told him, "I was hopeful that you weren't lying to us when you recounted your tale. I was hopeful that Grindlewald had taken her…"
"I know what I saw Professor," Tom protested calmly.
"Indeed," Dumbledore agreed, "She was a brilliant witch wasn't she? I daresay she was just as smart as you Tom, though she might be lacking in a few areas she still had the potential."
"Why is it you talk of her in the past tense Professor?" Tom asked him, "Did you find her body at Grindlewald's strong hold?"
"No Tom," he said quietly, "I didn't."
"Then how do you know that she's dead?"
"The same way I know that your father and grandparents are dead, Tom," Dumbledore told him, "The same way I know that Professor Callus is dead."
Tom suddenly lost his air of politeness and openly glared at the future headmaster and Transfiguration teacher.
"Go on you old fool," he said quietly, leering at him, "Say it."
"What did you do to her Tom?" Dumbledore asked him quietly. Tom smirked evilly and walked past his teacher to the door and as he walked out for the last time he spoke so softly that not even a whisper could describe his tenor.
"I'll never tell."