A/N: Let me begin by apologizing for taking so long in between chapters... again. I've had a bit of writer's block. Hopefully this will clear up. In the meantime, keep your wonderful reviews coming!

June 1, 1942: One Week Before the End of Term, 6th Year

"Hermione, what's the answer to number five? I've done it four times and I'm still doing it all wrong!"

Hermione smiled an indulgent smile. For those who didn't know Tom—basically everyone else besides her—he was the same old Tom before exams. He would sweep into the examination room with an air of arrogant confidence and wipe the floor with everyone, excepting Hermione, of course. But underneath all that, he freaked out over exams. Any kind of exam really.

The first few years in Hogwarts were the worst, before Hermione really knew how to help him with the nerves. She herself had suffered from stressed out nerves over exams in her day—to the annoyance and amusement of Harry and Ron. So she could empathize, but she didn't know how to help him.

For her, Harry and Ron helped her by making her take time to relax. They'd joke around about how it was practically impossible for her to fail, which annoyed her so badly that she would dwell on it for hours, taking the place for worrying needlessly about the upcoming tests. Even if they weren't trying to help, her two buffoons of friends would end up helping her in a roundabout way.

But Tom was different, and even if he would react the same way she would, being annoyed out of worrying, they didn't share the relationship (especially early on) where she could just say he would fail marvelously. Mostly because he hung onto her words in the early days and believed anything she told him. This way was sure to kill his spirit faster than a return trip to the orphanage.

Through trial and error, many, many errors, Hermione learned that the best way to help Tom with his bout of anxiety was to study with him. Of course she barely needed to look over the stuff to make an easy O, but by sitting next to him and being available to answer his questions, questions he already knew the answers to, she could help keep him together.

"Tom, calm down. You've done it correctly each time."

"But the answer sheet shows a different process to the answer! It's completely different."

Hermione's indulgent smile stuck fast to her face. As she saw more and more of herself in Tom, her appreciation for Harry and Ron's patience grew. She used to think they had no patience, but if they had to put up with her in this same kind of blind panic that Tom was in, they should be canonized as saints.

"Calm down, Tom. You know as well as I do that this is the correct answer. You've worked it out four times, I've worked it out several times for you, and the answer sheet agrees with both of us." She calmly explained, knowing that this was not the time to be short. "Just because you used a different method to achieve the same answer doesn't mean you're wrong."

For a second he looked like he was about to kill her. But then his shoulders released all their tension and he let out a big breath.

"Yeah. Yeah. Calm. I'll try."

"That's all I ask, really." Hermione replied cheekily.

As the days crept closer to their End of the Year Exams (6th year Edition), Tom grew progressively more antsy. Hermione had never seen him get this bad. His control was slipping so badly that even those that barely knew him, members of his fan club, could palpably sense the anxiety flowing off of him like waves in a hurricane. For the first time this year, they actively avoided him.

He snapped at first years. Sure, most upper level Slytherins enjoyed a good first-year scaring, but never Tom. Hermione was half-convinced it was because he had been campaigning for Head Boy since he found out about the Head Boy position. So, the first day.

Additionally, Hermione noticed a strange all black owl delivering letters to Tom daily with the morning post. Tom had been receiving all kinds of fan mail since he single-handedly saved Hogsmeade, mostly thank you letters from the villagers themselves offering coupons to their stores. But also mixed in were the occasional "groupie" as Hermione called them in her head, girls who had read the article they had eventually and begrudgingly gave into being interviewing for in the Prophet, and more importantly, saw his picture.

They sent all kinds of things: knickers, love letters signed with bright red lipstick stains and pungent perfume, even naked pictures. Hermione forced herself to find it amusing, otherwise she would lose all respect for her gender.

Still though, the girls usually gave up after one or two attempts to contact him. This owl had now been making regular appearances for a good fortnight. If she herself hadn't been so distracted with Abraxas, she knew she would have gotten to the bottom of it already. But between her budding relationship with the Slytherin Prince and her re-minted friendship with it's undisputed king, she just didn't keep the business with the owl her top priority. Not that it kept her from noticing a pattern of events.

But Hermione felt her unease strengthen the morning of their final day before the exams when the owl returned again. Tom saw it as well, his brow furrowing. If Tom had gotten to the point where his face showed his irritation, he was near a boiling point. Compounded with the stress of the tests, Hermione knew it was only a matter of time before he blew up. Better to do it now, when he still had time to compose himself and do well the next day than to find himself having a nervous breakdown in the middle of the test itself.

An unpleasant memory of Harry's History of Magic O.W.L. tried to overtake her, but Hermione swallowed it down. It wasn't often anymore that a memory would make its way into her consciousness, she had been too long in this world. She shook her head to clear it of the memory. Now was not the time to dwell, now was the time to focus on the present. Er, past.

They spent the morning revising needlessly. Tom had really worked himself into a good panic, and had already accidentally ignored three of his most prominent admirers—those brave enough to face his fraying nerves. Hermione forced Tom out of the library at lunch, finding herself bizarrely on the other end of the common argument from her previous life: "But you need to eat! How are you going to be able to do well on your tests if you're too focused on how hungry you are?"

He gave in with bad grace, but absolutely refused when she began to badger him into putting his book down while they ate. Knowing to pick her battles, Hermione let him have that concession and went back to picking apart her beef pie in silence, wishing Abraxas or Natasha had decided to eat lunch at the same time as them.

After lunch, Tom shot straight back to the library with Hermione hot on his heels. They made their way to their favorite corner in the back near the Magical Beasts section, opened their books and got back to revising all in the same silence that had been haunting them since Tom's nervous breakdown had started to manifest about two weeks back.

A few hours went by and Hermione lost herself in academia. She knew what she needed to know for the sixth year exams, and Tom did too, but she found a delightful tome on how to create your own potions called Creating Potions: It's All About the Portions! She didn't come out of the book until a sharp cough came from behind her. On instinct she turned her head and saw Dumbledore perched on a step ladder only several feet away.

"Oh. Hello Professor," Hermione greeted him, certain that if he made himself known, then he must have a reason. Dumbledore never came around for idle chats, after all. Hermione's greeting shook Tom out of his trance, and he looked up, startled.

"Good afternoon, Miss. Dumbledore, Mr. Riddle. How are you today?"

"Fine. Professor." Tom bit out, his short temper even shorter in seeing his least favorite teacher.

Tom, that is so rude. Just because you're in a foul mood about these exams doesn't mean you should take it out on people who will be grading your exams! Honestly.

Tom looked properly chastised, her air tight logic not giving him any room to maneuver.

"I'm sorry Professor. That was quite rude. I've been very stressed over these exams, I'm sure you understand." Tom forced out, as much charm as he could muster in his state and on the only man it wouldn't work on. So, in other words, barely passable as far as apologies go.

"That's quite all right, Mr. Riddle. I understand, certainly. I once became quite flummoxed before exams myself. I do believe in my first year here I got so nervous before the final exam in Transfiguration that the cockroach I was supposed to be turning into a button turned a shade of blue heretofore never seen in nature. I didn't even have my wand. Still to this day have no idea how that happened." He must have noticed the look of utter apathy on Tom's face, because he suddenly changed gears. "Right, well, not why I came. Professor Dippet would like to see you both after supper in his office. Do make time for him, won't you?"

"Of course, Uncle. Should we expect to see you there as well?"

"Yes, dear girl, I shall be there too. Until then." And with a regal nod at Hermione, and only a mild look of disappointment at Tom, Dumbledore turned and left their cubby, his neon green robe trailing a good five feet behind him in a train one might see on a bridal dress.

Hermione turned to look at Tom, only to find his nose back in his book, a few scant inches from the text itself. She sighed and went back to her own book, puzzled as to what Dippet could possibly want from his two brightest students. Another Prophet article? Resigned to wait until after supper, Hermione turned her attention back to potion making.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

When Tom scraped the last bite of his potatoes off his plate and into his mouth, Hermione pounced, already up and pulling him along behind her with Abraxas laughing at her back, used to her managing ways already.

"Hermione, slow down! They haven't even left the Head table yet."

Seeing that he was right, she replied apologetically, "I guess you're right. Sorry. I'm just—I have no idea what this is about. The last time they called us into the Head's office it was to give that interview, and you know how I hate interviews."

"You'd think you'd be avoiding going to the meeting then."

"Yes, but I'm too curious. I want to know what this is about."

"I do too, but we have to have some patience." By this point they had reached the doors, and Dumbledore was just getting up from his seat and whispering something into the Headmaster's ear who then got up as well.

"Oh, there they go. See, I picked a perfect time."

Tom just let it go.

They walked the halls to the gargoyle in comfortable silence, Hermione fretting over the meeting, and Tom doing advanced Arthimancy equations in his head. It only took the older wizards five long minutes to catch up. With quick greetings, Dippet lead them all into his office.

"Have a seat, have a seat, both of you. Albus, if you wouldn't mind conjuring your own chair, you just have such a flair for it that I can never manage to do it quite as well."

"Certainly, Headmaster." Next thing they knew, Dumbledore had seated himself in an Adirondack chair with a pleasant smile on his face and his wizard's hat crooked on his white hair, like this was normal behavior and not considered eccentric in any time period.

"What can we do for you, Headmaster?" Hermione asked, dying to know what all this was about.

She could see Tom composing himself beside her, his desire to roll his eyes only known by her. "Well, Miss Dumbledore, as you know, after this year I will be stepping down and allowing your dear Uncle Albus here to take over for me as Headmaster."

Hermione certainly did not know that. Was she supposed to know that? She didn't pay as much attention to current events of the staff as she used to, especially with the threat of Voldemort under control and no signs of evil dictators besides him trying to rise up. Well, aside from that nasty Grindelwald, but he had nothing to do with the staff here.

"Of course, Professor. We wish him the best of luck," Tom took over when he saw she needed a second to recover. Luckily he did this so smoothly that it was likely neither of the prominent wizards had realized she had been taken aback.

"Of course you do, Tom, m'boy. Anyway, anyway," he replied, waving a hand in the air, "I called you two in here to meet with us because...well, this is not the usual procedure, you see, usually the students just find out in the owl post when they get their letter for the next year, but, in these circumstances..." He trailed off to the annoyance of everybody else in the room. Hermione judged by Dumbledore's pleasant but curious face that even he did not know where this was going.

Tom met her eyes and she could see that he had come to the same conclusion. Truly curious now, Tom, being his favorite, urged him to go on. "Yes, Headmaster? You wanted to tell us something, I gathered?"

Dippet jumped a bit, as if he had forgotten there were other people in his office. Perhaps it's a good thing he's giving up the office, huh? I mean, golly, he can't keep his train of thoughts on the ground, let alone on the right track, Tom spoke into her mind.

"Right. Right. Well, as next year we face a leadership change here at Hogwarts, I thought it would be best for the new Headmaster to work alongside not only his staff, but his two head students. Next year, the two of you will be Head Boy and Head Girl, though I'm sure that comes as no surprise to either of you."

Hermione felt awful that, no, in fact, it did not come as a surprise to her. She didn't actively think about it much, like she knew Tom did, but given her academic record, her impeccable blood lines, and her superiority to the other students (others' words, not hers), it was no small wonder that they would make her Head Girl.

A rare, true, smile graced Tom's face when she turned to congratulate him with just a look. "Professors," Tom began, his voice composed but laced with excitement whether that was crafted or real, Hermione couldn't quite tell, but she knew he was genuinely happy by the faint buzzing that was coming from their still mildly connected minds. It wasn't like him to forget to pull away from the connection after sharing a thought. "Headmaster, thank you for the honor. We will not let Professor Dumbledore or yourself down."

Hermione thought this was an excellent time to chime in, "Yes. Thank you. I've been wanting to re-organize the prefect shifts since I figured out that they would be 25% more efficient if—"

"Thank you, Hermione," Dumbledore cut her off, his eyes unreadable, "I'm sure there will never be a more efficient team of Heads after the pair of you leave. I look forward to working with both of you."

"Good, good. Glad that's settled." Dippet called for a toast, opened up a bottle of Ogden's and allowed Hermione and Tom a small tumbler of it, and poured large glasses for himself and Dumbledore. "Now we just have to figure out the prefects for each year for next year, and the three of you can set about organizing shifts, and things, and the like, or whatever the Heads actually do."

"Actually sir," Tom started, his charm on full blast. "I've been meaning to talk to you. I'm finally of age, and I will not be returning to the orphanage during the summer. Is there a way for me to remain at Hogwarts for the summer?"

A rare fatherly look crossed the Headmaster's face. He was a staunch man, not easily given to affection. It spoke wonders of his regard for Tom that he sympathized with his situation. "Tom, you know students are not allowed to stay at Hogwarts over the summer holidays. Do you have no friends you could stay with? You're a popular boy, I'm sure you do."

Hermione could see Tom struggle to keep his composure. "Sir the only person I trust to stay with is Hermione here, and she has no better prospects than myself."

Dippet looked aghast. "Well, now, that's not true. She's staying with Dumbledore, correct?" At the nod of confirmation from Dumbledore himself, he continued, "Then you can just stay with her at Dumbledore's house. All the better reason for you to stay there. You can work on schedules and such things. Why, I wish I had thought of that to begin with. Excellent. It is done."

"But Headmaster," Dumbledore began, only to be cut off once more by his superior.

"It is done."

Hermione had to suppress a small giggle. She had never seen, nor even heard of anyone being able to cow Dumbledore into anything he didn't want to do. Dippet had several talents, it seemed, though being an actual Headmaster may not be among the top five. Or even the top twenty.

"Very well." Dumbledore acquiesced. He turned to the two students, "You shall accompany Hermione to my house upon leaving the Hogwarts Express. She knows where it is, and how to get there via the floo network. You are quite welcome at Dumbledore House."

Tom's voice only soured around the edges as he replied, "Thank you sir. I cannot tell you how I look forward to your hospitality."

Ugh. These two with their strange animosity. Hermione could read their subtext like it was in plain English. Dumbledore resented being told to have his least favorite student reside in his own home, and Tom resented having to take his least favorite teacher's charity in order to avoid the only thing he hated more than the man in question, the orphanage. Sensing they would have a long talk about it later, and she would have to further convince him to actually stay there, Hermione tried to diffuse the tension that everybody but possibly Dippet could feel.

"Oh, lovely. This summer will be ever so enjoyable!" Okay, maybe she laid it on a bit thick, but the sentiment was true, regardless. "Tom, you and I can swim in the lake, and Uncle Albus has one of the largest collections of books in all of Magical Britain. If we really get a jump on it, we can possibly make the highest N.E.W.T. grades Hogwarts has seen since Uncle Albus!"

She could tell Tom knew her ploy, but that was fine, he could always see right through her anyway. Even when he knew she wouldn't tell him the secret, he always knew there was one. But the best thing about this was that he knew to go along. And he did.

"I didn't think about it like that, Hermione. Perhaps you're right. No, I know you're right. You always are, you know. We'll have a splendid time."

Wow, that might have actually been worse than mine, Tom.

Really, because I thought my comment was 'ever so enjoyable!'

Jerk.

Backwards Girl.

Hermione just snorted at him. Then realized she had just seemingly snorted for no reason, and tried to cover it up with a coughing fit.

"Oh so sorry, guess that Ogden's finally caught up with me. Well, I suppose Tom and I should go. We do have exams in the morning, if you recall."

Dippet and Dumbledore nodded, said their polite good-byes and the next thing she knew, Hermione and Tom were strolling down the corridor to the dungeons.

They walked a few minutes in silence before Tom broke it. "I hate being given charity."

"I know, Tom."

"No you don't know!" He said, suddenly stopping. His face had high patches of color, like he was barely containing his anger. "You don't know what it's like to be so.. so.."

"Condescended to when you know you are just as brilliant and maybe even more so to the person doing the condescending?"

He cracked a half smile. "How do you always know?"

"I wish I could say I was just that good at deducing your feelings, but I'm afraid this time it's from personal experience."

"Something with your parents?" He pried. Tom rarely pried, and Hermione was grateful. He also knew when not to push, "Ah. Not the time."

"You'll know soon enough."

Tom didn't like to dwell on the subject, knowing she wouldn't budge and that there was no point lingering over it. So he changed the subject,

"I just hate having no money of my own. Absolutely nothing but the school's charity."

"Then why don't you do something about it?"

"Like what? Sell my body behind Knockturn Alley?"

Hermione made to move again, not being able to look at him without giggling. And she was supposed to be scolding him for saying such things, what with being his moral compass and all.

"Tom! Don't say such things!"

"Oh come on, Hermione. It was just a joke. You know you thought it was funny."

"I did not."

"Did too."

"Merlin you are such a child sometimes."

"What, not always?"

"Weren't you the one who just pointed out that you're now an adult?"

"Good point."

"And as an adult. They can't turn you down, should you, oh I dunno... invent something and patent it at the Ministry. They would have to give you royalties."

Tom met her wry grin, his own smirk taking over his handsome face. "Royalties, huh? I like the sound of that. But whose name should go first?"

"What?"

"You know, for our product names. Dumbledore and Riddle or Riddle and Dumbledore... neither really go together too well, I guess."

Hermione looked at him blankly for a good ten seconds. "Our product names?"

He grinned full out, teeth and everything. "Well you can't expect me to do all the work if you're going to be living off this money too."

Once again: "What?"

"For after we graduate." She still looked lost. "Hermione we're going to need money. To get a flat. To get ourselves started. I mean, do you think galleons grow on trees? Because if they did, that would seriously upset the goblins. And no one wants to see those guys upset, especially me. So come on, Hermione. Get on board."

"We're getting a flat?" was all she could say. Really, she was usually much more intelligent than this. Usually he didn't keep up with her, not the other way around. No fair.

"Well of course we are. You can't live with dear Uncle Albus when you're a grown woman. I mean, you need your own place. An adult place. A place to be an adult. Where we can start our adult lives."

"Okay, I get it. Adult. Right. But... we're living together? When did you decide that?"

"Pretty much the moment I realized we were gonna be friends forever."

She covered her emotional reaction with a teasing retort, "So last week?"

But he knew what she was doing, and just smiled. Suddenly he got more serious, all false bravado gone from his voice and Hermione couldn't help but see that eleven year old boy from all those years ago who saw Hogwarts for the first time and couldn't keep the wonder out of his eyes.

"Hermione. I don't want to be out in the world without you. We do everything together as it is. I don't like the idea of being separate from you. I just—I... oh bugger. You—you know I care about you right?"

She smiled benevolently. "Of course I do, silly."

"And I know you care about me. I mean, just look at me." He slipped into teasing mode, trying to lighten the mood a bit from his own confession. But just as easily slipped back. "Seriously though. Life is just too short to not be around the people you love all the time. So let's just share a flat."

He loves me. Did he just tell me he loves me? In all six years of our friendship I've always just had to assume he did, but, wow, this is it... I've done it. I've officially taught Voldemort to love. Now there will never be a Voldemort. Ever. I've saved him.

"Hermione? Hermione? Are you okay?"

"What?"

"You just got lost in your own thoughts again."

"Sorry. I just. That's the first time someone's told me they loved me since my parents died."

His eyes, that change back and forth from silver to blue, were so piercingly blue in this moment and held so much compassion that it was unfathomable to even imagine that her old life had happened. She had now been here so long that it began to feel like her other life was the wrong time line. That this was always supposed to be reality.

"Then I'll endeavor to tell you more. Now c'mon, let's get back to studying. Oh, Merlin, the exams are in ten hours!"

"Oh shut your gob you wanker. You're gonna be fine."

And the two of them walked back to the Slytherin Common Room wherein Hermione lounged on one of the few comfortable sofas while Tom crammed beyond N.E.W.T. level knowledge into his brain.

.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

The exams, as expected, went brilliantly. If there were a word for more than brilliantly, then this would be a situation where it could and would be used. Tom did better-than-brillitanly and Hermione did just as better-than-brilliantly, and together they were head, shoulders, and upper torso above the rest of the Sixth Year.

Quickly the time came to leave Hogwarts for the summer, and after two lengthy conversations with Tom about why he absolutely couldn't back out ("No, you can't spend the summer backpacking in Africa and living off of magic and petty thievery!"), Hermione found herself boarding the Hogwarts Express right between Abraxas and Tom. Not a place she ever liked to be.

Hermione's relationship with Abraxas had been going... way more smoothly than she had anticipated. He was attentive, but not overly so. He was intelligent, and could mostly keep up with her. Or at least be in the same ballpark, playing the same spot. Some boys were trying to play hopscotch while she was playing chess. So, all in all it could have been worse.

She didn't count on the passion. Her days at Hogwarts with Abraxas had mostly consisted of ignoring him, wondering why so many girls were enthralled with him, and trying to pin down any resemblance to Draco. It took her by surprise, then, when he didn't back down from her, when he played devil's advocate for practices and theories that she knew he didn't support, just to be able to argue with her.

It was actually quite pathetically sad how long it took Hermione to realize that he enjoyed arguing with her just to see that spark in her eye, that he went out of his way to make her angry, just to see her "blazing beauty." Hermione wasn't used to being treated as a woman. Sure, the differences in gender roles had been force fed to her, especially in light of her frowned upon friendship with a boy, but men in the '40's just treated women...differently. There was a touch of reverence mixed in with the belittling. Men were treated, in a word, better. Like they were more. Worth more, knew more, capable of more. And Hermione tried so damn hard not to dwell on it, because this wasn't her time and this wasn't her fight. It would work itself out in the next fifty years, and in the meantime she would just be scary as hell with a wand and force people to respect her.

But Abraxas treated her like an equal, like he was aware of her ladyness, he even helped her up onto the train with a hand on her back. But he was in equal parts awe and terror of her wrath that he couldn't treat her as anything other than an equal.

So they kind of fit, in a weird way that was many parts fighting, endlessly bickering, teasing, one-upping, the occasional full blown fight, and a smaller part making up, small moments of mutual respect and understanding, but above all, companionship.

Hermione never considered herself someone who needed constant companionship, and truthfully she wasn't, but whenever she had needed it, Tom had always been the one to fill that gap, and before him Harry and Ron. But Harry and Ron had come as a package deal, whereas Tom and Abraxas had to be carefully balanced. They couldn't handle quality time together. Which meant that Abraxas suffered a bit of a drought Hermione-wise while Tom had his freak out over exams.

But Hermione knew that Abraxas was intelligent. Not nearly as much as she and Tom, of course, but he had a good head on his shoulders for people, and he knew not to push her when it came to Tom or he would lose her. She saw him bite back many comments when she would make an excuse to go see Tom. She saw the struggle in his eyes when she elected to sit with Tom during breakfast and in Potions. And she saw the dark edge around his face when Tom would brush against her accidentally, or worse, when he would touch her deliberately, be it something as small as tapping her on the shoulder to get her attention.

So Hermione tip toed around the situation, granting both of them time with her like a small child in a divorced family. She hated it. She hated that the most important person in her life didn't get along with the only other person who could possibly understand her to the same depth as him. She hated that they were oil and water. Abraxas, with his oily and purposeful voice, an enhancement to her life, and enrichment. And Tom, her water. An essential part of life. There's no living without water. She'd tried it.

Alas, in the back of her mind, Hermione knew who she would pick if it came down to it, but that didn't stop her from trying to have her cake and eat it too. She had selfishly traveled to the past to prevent a war. Was it too much to ask for some personal happiness?

She continued to ignore it. She would see Tom or Abraxas glare at one another, resolve to do something, but then come up short as to what to do, and just... put it off until the next time. It was a vicious cycle, but she couldn't stop. Stopping would mean choosing. And choosing would be... hard.

Just like with the mysterious black owl, Hermione put it off. Who was this person, she wondered, who was this girl who puts things off? What happened to the girl that researched everything, who found all the answers, who made everything okay? Where did her gumption go? Why was she letting herself do this?

"Hermione?"

The end of the summer. She gave herself until the end of the summer to come up with a solution. Well, she always did work better with a goal and a time limit. September 1st, then.

"Um, Hermione?"

But when would she even find the time? In between creating potions with Tom, writing letters religiously to Abraxas, and getting to the bottom of the owl mystery, Hermione just knew she was going to be spread thin this summer.

"HERMIONE!"

"For the love of Merlin, WHAT?"

Abraxas looked contrite. "Oh, uh, just... we're about an hour out." Then his pale skin turned just a little bit pink around the apples of his cheeks. "I was just wondering if you'd want to say good bye in private?"

"Oh." And darn her stomach for turning all gooey. "Yeah. Yeah, just let me... yeah. I'll... yeah" She made a vague gesture to the door to the compartment. "I'll meet you in the hall."

He looked a bit confused, probably wondering why they couldn't just walk out together.

But when he shut the door behind him, Hermione turned to Tom who was smashed next to a gregarious Natasha Nott talking over his stomach to Cygnus Black, both of them flirting over the top outrageously and making Tom look like he wanted to die.

"Tom." She whispered, not wanting to disturb the mating dance of one Natasha Nott. But he heard her anyway, as he always did. "I'm going into the hallway, I'll be gone for a bit. If I'm not back by the time we get to the platform, meet me at the wall, okay?"

He nodded, looking a bit betrayed at being left behind to suffer alone.

She quietly squeezed out the door, jostling two Seventh Year girls in a heated debate about which Gryffindor Quidditch players were the most foul looking.

Abraxas was waiting just outside the door, his shoulders a bit tense. Hermione had no idea why she wanted to tell Tom to meet her in private. In fact, she had no idea why she hadn't told Abraxas that Tom was staying with her. Except that, she kinda did. She knew he wouldn't like it. And she was just tired of fighting. Silently fighting, whatever, but it still counts. She was tired of his worry, his eyes following her to Tom's side. It just, wasn't any of his business. Well, except that it kinda was. Ugh. They were in a relationship and she was knowingly keeping information from him. She was the worst. Funny that even knowing that what she was doing was wrong, she knew she was going to do it anyway. She was going to keep it from him.

She came up behind him, but her hand on his strong back, and whispered into his ear. "Hey, there you are. Want to find a quiet compartment?"

He turned, met her eyes and nodded. Hermione ignored the silent question in his eyes. But by this point, she'd gotten quite good at ignoring things.

A/N: Not sure when the next chapter will be up, but thank you so much for all your support for this story. Keep it up and I will too. 3