Disclaimer: I do not own anything, unfortunately. Nothing belongs to me except for the plot; No profit is being made from this story and all rights go to its rightful owner.
Author notes: This is my first Tomione so please bear with me. I don't know if I will continue with 'I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good' everything is due to the lack of inspiration and the scarcity of free time but I will do my best to update fast in this story. Probably you won't hear with me for a whole week or more and it's because tomorrow I will be on vacation, I will still be able to reply to comments and alerts though I'm not sure if it will give me enough time to write. I sincerely hope you enjoy this story as much as I'm enjoying writing it; I'll try to make it different than other fics you've read and make it as non-cliché as I can. So please enjoy, read, put yourself comfortable and most importantly, Review if you want me to continue writing!
Warning: This isn't one of those fics where Tom suddenly turns all good and falls deeply in love with Hermione. No, in this fic Tom is cruel, empty and merciless. The first chapters won't be too dark I think but I dare you to continue. If you disapprove or don't like dark stories then this isn't the fic for you.
This chapter is edited and I am sure there won't be many errors here! Thanks to my new beta Pooja (murtagh799)
Edge of Darkness
"I'm hanging there, don't you see?" 'O' Children by Nick Cave
It was a void of darkness.
As if gravity had graced apprehension into falling in an empty space. The sky had blown the heavens into ashes. Powerlessness filled the world as the joyous shrieks of the Death Eaters, importantly the Dark Lord, could be heard from miles away. Fear was concealed among the humans with hope slipping through everyone's bloody grips as if it were water.
Hermione lay semi-unconscious, her cheek pressed against the ground. Her heart was pounding laboriously, each beat requiring great effort as she tried to gasp for breath. She opened her eyes carefully, feeling dryness beneath her eyelids. Her head was throbbing so badly it felt as if it had been split open.
Her hazel eyes wandered around her forest surroundings, though she couldn't spot anything. Everything was pitch black, just like a dark abyss in which nothing can seem to escape.
She closed her eyes tightly and opened them once again as if intending to clear the darkness of the woods from her vision, but it didn't go away. Hermione bid to stand, but her body was too numb. Her skin was now shone with an unhealthy pallor, smeared with dirt and blood. She managed to gain mobility in one of her hands, which were now thin and bony. Hermione stretched out one hand, trying to grope for her wand. Immediately, she felt warmth seep through her as her fingers enveloped the thin wood.
She lay breathing heavily on the cold ground of the bare forest as tears welled up in her amber eyes, eyes that had once gleamed with intelligence and cunning. The same eyes that had held great spirit and unquestionable curiosity, stubbornness and braveness. But now they were only a dull shade of brown. They were exhausted, filled with dreadful memoirs. Memories that would never be wished upon even your worst enemies.
Hermione held her ribs with an arm trying to soothe the continual pain that seized her. At least the pain proved she was still alive. Her breath caught in her sore throat as her heart began to strain to beat. She was translucent, such as a ghost would be. Her delicate features were haunted and her bushy hair that had once fallen down her back in beautiful golden waves was now limp and dull.
Her mind was reeling with memories.
She gasped as a flash of green whizzed past her, eerily illuminating the black woods with its emerald hue before it disappeared. There was a moment where silence followed, where only the splintering of branches could be heard.
It all hurt so much; Hermione started to feel the pain in her limbs as her heart began to beat frantically. The cold air brushed her skin relentlessly and she felt her legs began to slow. She was too weak; too many days gone undernourished, too many tears spilled.
"Where will you run now, mudblood? To see witty little potty? Where is he now? Say it mudblood! Say it with me! He…is…DEAD!" Bellatrix screamed, maniacally, her eyes glowing with insanity as she waved her wand in complex movements while she jumping up and down.
Hermione was shaking with anger, tears filling her eyes and pouring down her cheeks. Led by the impulse, her wand drew backwards as a blue light shot out from the tip at light speed. Bellatrix let out shriek, the spell narrowly missing her head.
"HOW DARE YOU? FILTHY MUDBLOOD!" she screamed furiously; her black eyes gleaming like a predator hunting its prey. "WAIT UNTIL I GET MY HANDS ON YOU…YOU WON'T EVEN BE ABLE TO WIPE THE DIRT OFF YOUR SOILED CHIN…I…WILL…KILL…YOU!"
Hermione gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. She tightened her grip on her wand as she began running as fast as her legs let her. The branches were clawing at her face sharply, the air ruffling her tousled hair. She ran viciously, holding one of her ribs to try to ease her labored breathing. Her lungs burned horribly. Bellatrix's unceasing shrieks had been left behind, her mocking laughter still echoing in Hermione's ears.
She turned around sharply; running in a different direction so the madwoman could not trace her. She stumbled and tripped over her own feet, knocking her knees painfully against the ground. It wasn't until that moment that she became fully aware of the pain wracking her body. She gasped for air and panicked when she heard the sharp sounds of branches snapping under someone's feet.
Hermione placed the wand above her head unconsciously, summoning a disillusionment charm on her body. She felt a flood of cold running down over her, all warmth she had left her as something hard pressed her head. Hermione lay on the ground, immobile, trying hard not to break the concentration of her spell while she noted how Bellatrix stood there motionless, staring scornful at the forest trying to spot some sign of her.
"I know you're here somewhere," she said, lilting, "Come out come out wherever you are," she mocked in a childish voice that made Hermione's skin shiver. Bella's ears pricked, hoping to hear any rustle of the dry leaves at her feet, to find something unusual disturbing the silence. She half closed her big black eyes and was about to take a step forward to where Hermione lay but for a matter of fate perhaps, she felt a sharp pain burn beneath her sleeve. She slowly pulled the cuff of her robe above her wrist and revealed the charred flesh that burned black against her skin.
Bellatrix grimaced and stared with disdain at where Hermione was lying invisible, and after a few seconds of scrutinizing the dry ground uselessly, she drew in a deep breath and did not hesitate this time. Her eyes closed and her mind left behind all traces of her current location. She had dissaparated.
Hermione felt numb, her limbs were weak and her heart pounded against her ears. She knew the spell had lifted because she felt some semblance of warmth return to her, though her headache still remained. She dropped her wand next to her tiredly, feeling a weight over her shoulders bigger than she could bear. Her eyelids were slowly closing lazily, until the only thing she was aware of was an absolute drowsiness.
She was suddenly enveloped into a cloak of darkness.
And there she was now, lying weakly against the cold ground, the leaves and twigs scratching at her cheek mercilessly. She lay in a pit of darkness, waiting on the cold, cruel edge of the unknown. Hermione clenched her quivering hands against her chest attempting to ease the void and restlessness roaming in her heart. Soft sobs rippled through her body. Her sleek curls formed a protective hollow around her gaunt face, most likely hiding her streak of tears.
A year had past sincethe Death Eaters had infiltrated Hogwarts, spreading instant chaos among the students. Somehow, they had managed to dispel the magical shields that had surrounded the castle. Their haven had become remarkably defenseless, crumbling slowly at their feet. Spells had sped through the air menacingly. Bodies collapsing in slow motion until they hit cold ground never to be felt again, senses fading away remaining numb forever; her classmates, even her teachers had fought with all the intensity they could muster. Harry's limp body carried by Hagrid, as cries had emitted from the crowd. Ginny's uncontrolled screams echoing through the cold, sharp night as Voldemort's laughter joined her sorrowful cries. Fred's inert corpse, his blue eyes staring dull and lifeless at the ceiling.
Those memories still plagued Hermione at night, filtering through her mind in her sleep, rolling as if it was a movie without a stop button. On most nights, she would wake covered in sweat and sob helplessly. 365 days had passed, though it seemed much longer than that.
Since the untimely demise of Harry during the final battle, Voldemort had taken possession of the magic world. The ruins that resembled Hogwarts now stood as a testament to all of those who dared question the Dark Lord's will. The Death Eaters had ambushed various order members and had murdered them brutally, though they kept some alive long enough to extract valuable information. Of course, no one had spoken and had been tortured 'till insanity for their non-compliance and then killed ruthlessly. Fear spread around the world. No one dared question the new Lord.
Hermione had been captured by the snatchers two months after the battle and had been tortured endlessly. She had managed to escape and since then, she had been on the run, camping in isolated places and summoning protective charms around her surroundings to make sure no one could see nor listen. Ever since her escape, she had been sought by Voldemort's followers, including the Dark Lord himself. Her capture was crucial not solely because she was the last Order Member alive, but because while in captivity of the Dark Lord, and throughout her torture by Bellatrix Lestrange, the witch had accidently slipped crucial information into Hermione's mind.
At first, Hermione didn't think it was of much importance, seeing as they were only fuzzy excerpts from a memory of the Dark Lord's condition, but as she thought more about it, it could turn out to be an essential hint towards Voldemort's destruction. If only she could remember clearly and hopefully understand the situation better.
After she had been tortured she knew she had to come up with a plan. Being the last Order Member alive, she knew she had to do whatever she could to provide even a hint of light among the dark, to show that not everything was lost even if she had a hard time believing it herself.
Hermione clearly knew the horcruxes were hidden somewhere and she had to get to them before Voldemort found out she knew of their existence. And that was what she was had been attempting since her escape. She was trying as hard as she could to find a clue of where a horcrux could be, but without Harry or her friends, she was weakened. She just couldn't deal with it anymore, one person just couldn't. It was an unbearable weight over her shoulders to handle and now she finally understood how Harry had felt all this time.
At the beginning Hermione had been armed with strength and courage to undertake the quest on her own, deeply focused on the mission that now was up to her. She had even put her feelings behind. The grief was still there of course, ready to overflow and wreak havoc instantly, but she managed to hold it all back knowing that some day she couldn't wait any longer and explode.
It had all started a month ago.
She had finally stopped searching. Hermione Granger had given up. All her fragile strength was gone. Now she simply moved from place to place, searched for food, stole discarded Daily Prophets from the garbage and mechanically read the news, only to realize the whole world was falling apart as each day passed. There were fatalities everywhere, more power added to Voldemort's regime and she couldn't do anything to prevent it. Her Gryffindor spirit had faded away and now she was only a shadow of what the old Hermione used to be. It was like she wasn't even alive anymore.
Instead she only stood there every day, staring at the bitter sky waiting for the solution she desperately sought, a solution for her ever daunting sorrow. But it didn't come. The idea of a savior was now lost in the past. Every day the thought of how she had failed to save Harry from his death haunted her, how she had been aware of what had been happening, and yet she hadn't managed to prevent it. Hermione had lost faith in her abilities, in her knowledge, in her skills, the moment she caught glimpse of his limp, clearly mutilated body.
Yet, all was not lost. Her solution had come to her just a week prior when she vaguely recalled a spell she had read in the restricted section during her horcrux research.
"The spell itself is complex. It is said only a powerful wizard can accomplish it without disastrous consequences. Its result is undefined, sending the castor to the unknown, opening a new path and creating an irrespective destiny for the castor, and removing them from their current circumstances."
Hermione still didn't know how to perform the aforementioned spell or more likely ritual; it was still very difficult to perform or else it wouldn't have been written in an advanced charms book in the restricted section. Besides, since Hermione had started doubting her abilities she didn't believe she could do magic at all.
She stared at the dark tall trees, half closing her eyes to bits and thoughts hovering through her mind. A branch snapped, the noise echoing through the sharp night bringing the girl out of her reverie. Hermione turned her head alarmed as she tightened her grip around her wand, ready to curse whoever it was, but saw nothing but the dark silhouettes of the stark trees.
Another twig cracked.
She startled on the ground once more, raising her wand with her trembling bony hands. She tried not to move, or even breathe, when she noted a fuzzy figure making its way through the bushes. She lay still in her position, her muscles stiffened at his proximity. The figure was getting bigger until finally, he stopped right above her position. She closed her eyes to slits and let out a short gasp as the moonlight brightened the stranger's face. The blonde locks fell over his pale face, increasing his disheveled appearance. His jaw was clenched and his grip was tightened around his wand. His grey orbs were staring at her intensely. He knelt by her side elegantly; his black cloak fluttering to his feet.
Hermione shifted uncomfortably and grimaced in pain; blood was spluttering from her leg, the one she had tripped on. Draco felt his body shudder and his mouth grew dry as he recalled the moments where his aunt Bella had tortured Hermione mercilessly. She looked now just as she had back then. But even in the gravest hour she had never surrender to the Dark Lord's will; a Gryffindor no matter what.
"Granger," he whispered faintly as he placed his wand above her wounded leg, he mumbled something under his breath and immediately the blood was absorbed into her skin, forming a small scar. She opened her mouth to talk but no sound came out.
"Run," he hissed, scrutinizing the dark forest cautiously. Hermione narrowed her eyes and eyed him suspiciously, hopping to find some contempt in his irises but they were unreadable.
"Why? What's in it for you?" she replied defiantly, trying to sound firm but instead it only came out as a faint whisper. He raised a slender eyebrow lightly, certainly confused by her distrust; it was true that as a Gryffindor she would have some kind of spite for a Slytherin, but they were no longer in school and if she didn't trust him now she would be doomed.
"Listen," he whispered tiredly, "I need you to trust me this once, if you do not then you will get yourself killed, I want you to run now."
"And where will you go?" the girl croaked, not sure why she cared at all. He stared at her, no emotion betraying in his perfect face.
"I-I don't know," he stammered. Now that he thought about it, he didn't know where he was going to go after he helped her. The Dark Lord would obviously find out about it sooner or later and he knew he wouldn't make it far if he ran.
No one could hide from the Dark Lord.
Her eyes wandered through the shadows; biting her bottom lip as she felt pity for the man hovering above her. She was at a loss for words when her gaze lingered on the small livid scar across his left cheek. She hadn't even noted how deteriorated his appearance was. His manner of self-sufficiency and arrogance had vanished; instead there was only a mere boy, ungainly, who looked older than he actually was.
Under other circumstances Hermione would have rejoiced in his suffering and pleading expression, but now the both of them shared something in common. Both wanted to flee from Lord Voldemort's regime.
Hermione rummaged for the appropriate words to impart without spilling crucial information that did not concern him whatsoever.
"I-I think I have a…solution," she uttered dimly.
"There is no solution, Granger. You just have to leave and go into hiding, they're all looking for you. Right now, you're their favorite target since you're a muggle-born," he murmured slowly.
He remembered the times where the word "Mudblood" would have easily passed his lips. "And you have possess essential information, vital information," he corrected himself, "It is not be prudent to be wandering in the woods carelessly and risk that they find you again, this time you've been spared, but not for long. My aunt has informed everyone of your whereabouts and it will only take a matter of seconds until they appear."
"No," she said stubbornly. "I'm going to keep fighting, even if that's the last thing I do. Harry would have wanted that some of the good continued what he had been doing."
"Again your boldness and loyalty has interfered with your logic and rationality," he said coolly.
"Not all is lost, we can still win," she whispered pleadingly.
"I seriously don't think, by any manner, you believe your own words."
"I know a spell…I'm going to use it, if I can change everything I…" her voice trailed off, tears welling up in her amber eyes. Desperation crept into her voice as her hands shook lightly. Draco didn't know what to do now, so instead he kept looking around nervously, ignoring how her grip tightened around his wrist as hard as she could muster.
He scrutinized the girl's face for several minutes, his face full of contrariety and doubt. His grey orbs were filled with pain and dilemma, trying so hard to think of the right decision. He could help her, just as he was about to do, but even if she saved, he would be considered a traitor among those who offered him protection. And he just couldn't die, he couldn't leave his mother, he couldn't leave the world yet. The Dark Lord hadn't been very pleased when he had failed to fulfill the mission that had been entrusted to him last year. He recalled the painful moments where he had been tortured endlessly, until he had learned his lesson.
"I do not accept failure, though I might as well give you a last opportunity to amend your previous mistakes," he had said.
And now he was about to betray him again. Draco shuddered suddenly. What the hell am I thinking? I'm suicidal, that's what. Deep down he wondered why he was helping her at all. Perhaps the part that was saving Granger was the same that couldn't bring itself to kill Dumbledore. Maybe he could consider it the last vestige of humanity he still retained and it kept him from drowning entirely in the abyss. But did that mean he was a part of the light? That there was a beating heart inside his solid chest? Because…he must have a heart, right?
His grey eyes clashed against her hazel ones, unable to pick a side.
Finally the silence was broken. "You know a spell that can help us change things," he mumbled quietly, disguising his pain with a toneless voice. His features remained impassive as he tried hard to hide his fear. After all hiding emotions was a Malfoy trait.
One of her eyebrows was mildly raised, her eyes studying his blank mask carefully. His eyes gleamed between sincere and annoyed.
"What?" she asked in barely more than a whisper.
"I'm certainly not going to live if they find out that I simply let you run away," he said softly "I-I'm not ready to die yet, I want to help…and if that aids to amend my past wrongs for the better, then I will," he said faintly, his voice sounding completely naïve and foreign to his own ears.
Hermione stared at his honest features and opened her mouth to talk but she was speechless once more. After a couple of seconds of hesitation, she nodded slowly and did not protest.
"Are you sure you know how to cast the spell?" he asked slowly.
"I-I think so," she whispered nervously. He nodded solemnly and hooked his arms under hers and effortlessly hoisted the girl over his shoulder. She grimaced at the sudden pain and he supported the majority of her weight against his. Just as they were about to leave, a sharp crack echoed throughout the solitary woods.
Draco gulped. "They're here," he croaked.
Hermione felt her heart fall and her surroundings started to spin. Draco grabbed her by the wrist and dragged her on the ground. Hermione stopped dead and held a hand subconsciously to her bare neck. Her heart started beating faster whilst she searched desperately in her clothes.
"Granger, what are you doing?" he asked tightening his grip, trying hopelessly to drag her. "They're coming!"
It seemed as if she wasn't listening at all. Her entire body was quivering lightly as she tried to loosen her wrist from his firm grip.
"Are you bloody insane? C'mon!"
"I-I need to find it, it's g-gone, my locket is g-gone," she cried as she rummaged for it in her pockets; her dull locks falling into her face rebelliously. "Harry gave it to me, it's the only thing I got left." Draco saw the tears pouring down her cheeks uncontrollably. He had hardly ever felt pity for anyone in his life, but what he felt now was much more than that. He turned his head, alarmed when he heard his aunt's high pitched laughter.
"Granger, we must leave! Now!" he hissed harshly, pulling her by the arm.
Hermione let out a short gasp as she knelt quickly on the ground. She grabbed the golden locket, momentarily illuminated by the moon's silver splendor.
"Come on," he said harshly, dragging her with him. This time she did not protest and let Draco pull her by the arm roughly as both of them ran through the forest.
Flashes of blue rushed right past them, narrowly missing Hermione's head. Draco tightened his grip on her arm.
"Keep running," he commanded, as he noted her heavy breathing. The pain in her limbs was now unbearable. Her lungs were burning and her bones were shaking.
"Draco?" someone called drawling, his voice deadly soft. "What do you think you are doing, helping a mudblood? Do you wish to suffer the Lord's wrath, perhaps? And what about your mother, poor Narcissa…" Lucius hissed. Draco clenched his jaw, ignoring his father's scolding. Hermione was not paying attention to their exchange, focused instead to the approaching persons. They were tall figures, covered with hoods and masks that kept their faces in the shadows. Bellatrix was running next to Lucius who had managed to keep his sleek and mournful demeanor while the witch jumped up and down madly.
"FILTHY TRAITOR! Degrading yourself to a mudblood, you…are…a…disgrace for the Noble Black Family!" the witch screeched insanely, her untamed black hair floating around her deranged face briefly illuminated by the moonlight.
"Granger, I'm going to stop and put barriers around us, but I will not be able to sustain them for long. I need you to be ready and brave…and cast the spell, you hear me?" he said brokenly, trying to gasp for air. Hermione nodded faintly as she cradled her ribs with one hand. She couldn't do it. Her hand was slipping from Draco's the cold air burning her lungs and brushing her hair onto her face, making her vision unclearly.
"Are you ready?" he asked grimly, his hand twitching nervously. Hermione gulped and nodded lightly. "On the count of three, one…two," he swallowed hard, "three!" Both halted instantly. Draco raised his wand.
"Protego Totalum!" An invisible shield surrounded them, deflecting every spell. Bella and Lucius stopped dead. The witch was shaking with anger as she started moving her wand in complex patterns. Yellow, blue, and purple lights shot out from the tip of her wand, all of them dissipating as soon as they touched the shield.
Hermione stood in the middle, her legs trembling with her insufferable weight.
"Tempus omnis" she mumbled, pointing her wand at a dark spot in the ground; she watched how a straight yellow line appeared carved on the ground before them. "Eo Ire Itum."
Draco's hand was shaking slightly as he turned to face his father.
"Draco, I command you to remove that shield this instance," he hissed, his eyebrows forming a perfect "v".
"Insolent brat!" Bellatrix shrieked, her eyes open wide, gleaming with anger
"After what the Dark Lord has done for our family, you dare disobey his orders once again," Lucius drawled "You displease me Draco. Imagine what he will do to us when he discovers what you have done…unbearable pain for your mother, dear Narcissa, we will surely be met with an untimely demise…"
Draco's hand trembled as he resisted the urge to lower his wand and surrender to his father and the darkness once again. His eyes were watering from the effort put into his barrier. His mind battled with itself trying to figure out what was more important. Although a part of him wanted to berate himself for his lack of responsibility - his mother was going to carry out all the weight and all because of his faults - while the other wanted to help Granger on her fight for good, and if they proved victorious, wouldn't that mean salvation for his parents too?
"Granger…" he said pleadingly as he tried so hard to disregard their painful words.
"STOP IT!" Bellatrix snarled angrily "Crucio!"
Draco fell to his knees, the shield broken as he started writhing on the ground, his painful cries echoing in the forest.
"Grab the girl," she hissed without breaking her concentration on Draco. Lucius strode towards Hermione and pointed his wand at her neck, grabbing her arm roughly.
Hermione tried to snatch her arm from his grasp in a vain attempt. Draco continued squirming and screaming torturously, piercing Hermione's ears with his pitiful cries.
"Please…stop!" she implored, unaware of the tears that slid down her cheek. It caused her anger how Bellatrix could mercilessly torture his own nephew. She trembled in rage as she suddenly recalled Bella's words just hours before.
Harry, Ron, Ginny…all dead.
Her wand was slipping from her sweaty, quivering hands.
"You will be avenged Harry, I promise," she cried quietly. Her face contorted in rage as she tried to mute Draco's shouting from her mind.
"What shall we do now, Bella?" Lucius asked stiffly.
"Call the Dark Lord," she said acerbically, moving her wrist abruptly and intensifying the curse. Draco's forehead was drenched in sweat, as he buried his nails into the ground with such force Hermione would not be surprised seeing his blood soak into it.
She couldn't stand it anymore.
I need to change this; we need to…please let it work, she thought pleadingly as she stared at the ground. "Salus Uterque"
Hermione let out a gasp as she noted a blast of magic suddenly fill the air forming some kind of shield around them. The runes on the ground lit up, illuminating the forest eerily.
It was only then she noted Draco had stopped screaming. Bella had detained the cruciatus spell and Lucius had loosened his firm grip, both staring shocked at the scene before them. Hermione, drawing on their trance, grabbed Draco's hand tightly. The lights around them blazed unto the heavens. It brightened their faces until a white abyss was all they could see. It wrapped them together until they couldn't distinguish Bellatrix or Lucius anymore, just a rain of white beautiful sparks.
An orange blaze emitted from their entwined hands. His grip hardened against hers and for the first time, the fear was evident in Draco's eyes only now he didn't fight to conceal it. The power was forced in and out of their bodies. Magic exploded into a blinding light.
They watched as Bellatrix and Lucius observed the scene. Bella had rage written all over her contorted face as she trembled from head to toe, while Lucius watched astonished, paying full attention to the scene unfolding in front of his eyes, his hand twitching.
The dark silhouettes of the trees faded slowly as the dry and cold grass begun to disappear beneath their feet. Slowly they faded into a tornado of gold, the color of the powerful spell that now emitted sparks all around them. Their hands were gradually separated, until they were each covered by their own golden shield.
Hermione's body was almost contorting in pain, but it was not physical pain. Instead her body was numb. She couldn't even feel her limbs. No, this was something different. It was like her life had been immediately sucked out of her, worse than the dementors themselves. Everything was gold and white around them and she turned to see Draco staring idly at nothing in particular, a thick pearly tear trickling down his pale cheek, his mouth parted slightly.
When Hermione arched a brow confusedly, she became dazed as dozens of images flash in front of her eyes.
The image of Ron's blood stained body burned her eyes. His stiff body was lying on the marble floor, staring lifelessly at the ceiling. Her bloodcurdling scream still echoed in her ears. Images flashed before her eyes, come and gone within seconds. It was as if her whole life had just flashed before her eyes. The grief in her heart was too much to handle, it felt as if it wouldn't take long until she fell apart completely.
Sobbing uncontrollably she buried her face in her trembling hands, unable to control the unceasing anger building up in her slim body. An overwhelming feeling of hate roamed in her chest as she stared at the inert bodies in front of her. Ron… Luna… Ginny… Harry… her parents, everyone she had ever loved or cared about was gone. Numb forever. Forever lost. Now there was only the feeling of an empty void and restlessness, solely emptiness and pain.
She just wanted to avenge their deaths, to punch something hard until she could manage to get all of her anger out, but she knew it wouldn't change anything, unless the spell had worked. Draco had been quiet this whole time, staring at the emptiness, his glassy eyes opened wide.
Hermione suddenly felt an excruciating pain in her lungs as if her insides where drowning with liquid. She screamed loudly, her cries echoing in the abyss. The sudden bright light blinded them and then it disappeared. Everything disappeared. They hit ground heavily and then they lost consciousness.
Her body was sore and she couldn't even move a muscle without wincing at the excruciating pain. Her eyes were dry beneath her eyelids and she felt utterly weak as if she had been lifting a thousand pounds over her shoulders. Her heart was taking far too much effort to beat, slowly building up and regaining its rhythmic pant. Her fingers felt the cotton sheets beneath them.
She opened her eyes cautiously, though she could only make out the hazy outline of the bed where she was laying. After her eyes had adjusted to the bad lighting of the room, she took a look at her surroundings. The room was poorly decorated. There was a small wooden closet leaning dangerously forward, threatening to collapse at any time. The candlelight flickered, emanating an odd orange glow around the room, a cold and depressing aura pouring in all around her. Thick layers of grey slabs composed the walls. The crystals of the only window in the room were so dirty that it barely allowed any sunlight to leak in between, giving the whole room a mournful and somber aspect.
She hadn't even noted a person standing quietly in one corner until his voice broke the silence.
The voice was hypnotizing and beautiful. His words were almost a whisper, yet she could hear them clearly. It flowed perfectly out of his lips, smooth and silky though it was something else, something wrong with it. There seemed to be a cold and enigmatic tone in his melodious voice that made him even more entrancing and darkly beautiful.
The figure walked slowly towards her until it stopped next to her bed; her eyes flickered until she could finally spot his enthralling eyes from her hazy vision.
His irises were grey, though unlike others these men's orbs looked as if they were covered by different layers of silver, each containing a different secret, impossible to decipher. It made her want to drown in them. They were entrancing and mesmerizing, but haunting at the same time.
His face was perfectly carved; his body was lean, smooth and his skin very pale, though it even seemed to enhance his beauty. His black hair, neatly combed, added an elegant touch to his fine and unperturbed features. A small smile curled his perfectly-shaped lips, emphasizing his high cheekbones. Was it worth mentioning how his grey uniform fit perfectly to his body, highlighting the muscles underneath? He looked like an aristocrat and the way his hands were burrowed deep into his pockets made him look like a young god, carved out of pale marble stone.
"Are you feeling better, Miss?" he inquired, arching an eyebrow elegantly.
Hermione kept staring at him slightly dazed. "Er…I, yes. I-I'm Hermione" she stuttered, and it was only then she realized her voice was cracked and her throat sore.
"My name is Tom Riddle," the man said softly, his intense gaze locked with her amber eyes. "You were found laying unconscious right outside Wool's orphanage along with Laurent and I considered it best if I brought you both inside than to leave you outside in the cold courtyard."
Hermione couldn't think straight anymore. Her stomach dropped and her head began spinning wildly. Tom Riddle? It can't be possible, he can't…he mustn't be…
How could it be possible? He had won, he had been victorious…
And who was Laurent?
"If you don't mind me asking, which day is it?" she asked nervously; Tom cocked his head lightly to his side, his blank mask unperturbed.
"Why, today is August 25, 1942," he said, unable to contain his doubt. "You've been unconscious for two days now."
Hermione felt color drain from her face and her heart speed up as if something pressed her chest impeding her to catch a whiff of air. She was in the past. Hermione became nauseous but tried not to show her utter shock as she tried to assess the situation and think of a reasonable explanation of why was that happening.
She knew quite a few things about old magic but nothing she'd ever read had even hinted at a person being able to travel this far back in time. There were clever wizards and witches who had tried to discover the hidden meaning behind time traveling, but they hadn't quite encountered something this extensive. Decades! It was inconceivable.
While there were records of spells and potions that had gone awry causing the witch or wizard to vanish, but there was never something that quite proved that they had gone back in time.
And then there was the time turner. She had studied the subject carefully in the Hogwarts library. The concept of time had intrigued her during her third year after McGonagall had given her a time turner. Somehow, it allowed you to travel a few hours into the past, but certainly not years. The furthest anyone had gone back was a clever wizard by the name of Arecto Mimblus. He had traveled 72 hours, and until now no one had discovered a way to go further than that. But… the spell she had used, why had it brought her to this date exactly? She hadn't recalled anything regarding time travel in the text she had read. And why had she had to end up precisely with him?
Absorbed in her thoughts she almost forgot exactly who was standing next to her. Hermione panicked and groped for her wand in her pocket underneath the sheets but it wasn't there.
"I will notify Mrs. Cole that you have awakened." Her eyes flickered to the still form of Tom, who had been studying her carefully. He strode swiftly across the room until he disappeared through the opened door.
Hermione averted her gaze towards the dirty window. An oak tree stood in the middle of the courtyard, sagging slightly. The leaves were drifting off the branches and onto the ground with graceful movements, or occasionally the howling wind carried them off into the sky.
"Hello. Tom informed me you were already awake. How are you feeling?" A woman came rushing through the door, her brows furrowed. She was skinny, and harassed-looking; the woman had sharp features though they appeared to be more anxious than unkind.
"B-better, thank you," Hermione responded, her lips forming a weak smile; she cocked her head to one side and noted Tom was leaning casually against the doorframe, his hands crossed against his chest. He seemed to be aware of every movement Hermione and Mrs. Cole made and that frightened the girl deeply.
"I'm Mrs. Cole, the matron of this orphanage," she said, staring intently at the girl with her fingers intertwined and placed against her stomach. "As Tom may have already told you, you were found unconscious on our front yard with several injuries along with a boy, Mr. Draco Laurent, as he told me; it is not my intention to pry, just curiosity on how you got them, Miss…?"
"Austen, Hermione Austen," Hermione answered quickly; she obviously couldn't tell she was a Granger, apart from causing confusion between the past and the future relation, it could lead to serious problems due to the muggle persecution going on. "And I don't quite remember what happened; everything's so blurry in my mind, though I think I was brutally attacked." Mrs. Cole let out a brief gasp and covered her mouth with her hand while Tom remained silent; his face covered by an impassive mask, his grey orbs hiding any emotion.
"That is horrible, I wonder who would have done such a thing and more importantly why didn't anyone notice," Mrs. Cole wondered, more to herself than to Hermione. "I have already tried to heal your wounds and wiped the blood from your face, but I guess you are still weak to do much. You will be under medication and I will make an exception and allow you and Mr. Laurent to stay here until you recover completely," she said managing to compose a very unconvincing smile. The woman turned her head to where Tom was standing. "Tom, do you mind showing Ms. Austen her new room, Carolina Meadows left the orphanage, so her room is free, and help her get settled in here." Riddle merely nodded his head and continued staring at Hermione with his intense gaze. "I do hope you find the orphanage agreeable Miss Austen," Mrs. Cole conclude placidly.
Hermione's lips twitched upwards and she winced at the pain she felt.
"Of course," she replied, trying so hard not to show her pain. It was until that moment she realized something…where was Malfoy?
"Mrs. Cole, where is…?"
"Draco?" she asked and Hermione nodded "Why, he's resting right now, he was really pale although unlike you, he didn't have many injuries," she said. Hermione nodded slowly. In that very moment, a slim brown-haired girl entered the room nervously and started stuttering.
"Mrs. Cole I think Dennis is sick, he's been very pallid since this morning," the girl said.
"Again? Amy why don't you get him some water first and the medicines we gave him last time, I'll be right there," the matron said tiredly. The girl, Amy, nodded as she stared at Hermione nervously and gave her a quick smile, though apparently she hadn't noted Tom standing near her, because the moment she saw him Amy paled immediately and ran away, as if fearing to be chased by him. Tom didn't falter; his face remained impassive although Hermione thought she saw a red glow cross his perfect features.
Mrs. Cole didn't seem to notice and left the room hurriedly, leaving Hermione alone with Tom. He walked towards her upright and gave her a reluctant smile which she didn't return; instead she felt chills running down her spine.
"Miss Austen, allow me to show you your new room. If I am accurate I think Mrs. Cole has left you a clean uniform you can use." Hermione opened her mouth to talk but was unable to emit any sound at all. Instead, she just nodded lightly as he held out a hand flippantly. Hermione eyed it suspiciously as if by touching it her hand he would burn her, but then decided she was being paranoid and took it hesitantly.
Tom smirked and helped her get out of bed. The brief touch of his cold skin against hers sent tingles down her right arm. They left the room and walked down the narrow aisle. A few children were peering out from behind their doors and staring curiously at Hermione. When they saw Tom, they would shut their doors immediately.
Tom turned right abruptly and Hermione had to walk fast to keep up with his long strides. They climbed up a rickety staircase.
"This is your room and mine is just down the hallway," he replied, curtly, scrutinizing the girl's features. Her hair fell down in loose auburn curls, her skin was smooth and it had a pale sickly aspect. There was a small scar just above her eyebrow and her hazel eyes struggled to avoid meeting with his at all costs.
Interesting, Riddle thought with disdain. "Dinner is at 6:00 sharp, if there is something more you require, do not hesitate in let me know." Hermione nodded slightly avoiding his gaze. He opened up the door for her and made a small bow.
"I expect you will find this to your liking. I shall leave you so you can take a bath and perhaps rest some more before dinner is served."
"Yes I'm sure it will, thank you," Hermione said politely, holding back a scowl. He smirked and nodded mildly, striding back to his dorm; his head held high, his shoulders back.
She turned around; her lips forming a tense line. Hermione closed the door harshly and eyed the small room cautiously. It wasn't a room where it seemed that a great deal of money or time had been invested. It housed a small individual iron bedstead in a corner, an old wooden wardrobe and a lonely wooden chair. It had a dreary aura, barely illuminated by a few candles. The mere sight made her sad. She shook her head lightly as if by doing so, she would be able get rid of the horrid thoughts crossing her mind.
Perhaps a bath would be nice, she thought feebly. She needed to clear her mind and unravel her thoughts. Hermione locked the door, staring at it for a moment. After some minutes she gave up on the idea that the future Dark Lord was waiting outside and entered the bathroom. She started to dispose of the ragged clothes she had been wearing ever since she had escaped the Death Eaters from Malfoy Manor.
She pulled the golden locket out from her pocket and let the chain slip through her fingers, the sun drawing out a few sparkles on the gold. Her gaze was fixed on the letters engraved on the exterior.
Our lives are just a series of choices, what is important is that we take the right ones.
She opened the locket and bit her lip as she stared at a younger self reflected in the small photograph. Ron held her by the shoulders as he ran his fingers through his ginger hair. Harry laughed happily while he tried to put aside one of Hermione's curls making her smile widely. She felt a teardrop fall rebelliously down her cheek, making her heart shrink as she remembered merrier times. Where were they now? Gone forever, buried deep down in a corner of her obscure mind.
She put the locket aside, carefully.
Her hands moved unconsciously to her face and she brushed her cheeks with trembling fingers. Hermione looked thoroughly at the cluster of bruises and cuts that marked her grizzly skin. Her gaze wandered through the livid scar that crossed her left cheek, her fingers caressing the seam with a deliberate slowness. Her wan hair fell bitterly down her back; her limp, disheveled curls were interlaced, forming a mat of dull brown hair. Hermione barely flinched at her skin; gaunt and sickly pale, all color she might have possessed before had drained entirely from her face.
After having examined her injuries she stepped onto the water. It stung at her open wounds, but then her stiff muscles eased, letting the warmth fill her from within. She closed her eyes shut; the weakness of her body overflowed her bit by bit as if she was falling down a steep slowly.
After she untangled her hair cautiously, cleaned her face, alongside her body, and got rid of the crispy blood and grime until everything looked as clean as could be, she sat on floor, clutching her knees against her chest.
Something stirred within her, like a crevasse opening up in her heart, shedding small drops of blood, letting out only mournful wails. The impervious armor she had raised around her slowly began to crumble, making her emerge out to the cold surface, defenseless. The tears she had never got the chance to shed, now fringed her eyes, clouding and hindering her vision.
Hermione squeezed her eyes shut, letting the tears flow over her wasted cheeks. If her mind had been bewildered by the quantity of thoughts she had attempted so very hard to conceal for months, now it was enveloped in total chaos.
She started to think what might have happened if she had made different choices in her life. Her life could have been different. But she had already reached where she was and there was no going back. People are just that - Humans that make mistakes constantly. She could not do anything but wonder what might have happened to her under different circumstances. However, the only thing left with her now was the mourning for the loss of her friends. Her family. Her classmates. Her teachers. All of those whose innocent lives seeped out their bodies…
Although, what caused her the most anger, more than anything else, was her pitiful existence. After the ceaseless days of torture, battles, curses and all, she was still here. Alive. Why couldn't she have died along with everyone else on the battlefield, knowing she had done everything that was in her hands to protect what she believed in? Why had the world suddenly turned against her? Wasn't it enough to have lost all hope? She would also have to withstand the memories.
One thing was sure: The world was not fair.
The water pressure begun to cease; the small room was swamped by her relentless wheezing and the irregular throbbing of her unbridled heart.
Soft sobs wracked through her chest silently and she just wished she could find a way to end her grief.
A weak noise brought her out of her reverie, making her flinch. She rose up slowly and closed the water taps, pulling herself out of the bath reluctantly. Hermione grabbed a towel from the rack and wrapped it around her body. Once she had dried, she put on the ugliest uniform she had ever seen. The plaid skirt did not suit her well at all and the fabric of the grey blouse had a coarse and crispy texture that rasped against her sensitive skin.
It could probably be worse.
After she had inspected the clothing and its details, she tied her hair into a messy bun with some curls falling in her face. The reflection of her contrite face caught her attention as she stared back at her reflection. She drew in a deep breath and forced herself to smile as she wiped the tears with her hand.
She walked through the small space that was the bathroom and placed her hand on the doorknob, twisting it open; she grimaced at the pain at the movement of her fingers.
She stumbled on the threshold and was startled as she heard a smooth voice from behind her.
"Hello Miss Austen."
Author's Notes: okay so this was first chapter. I know is a bit long and I apologize for it I kinda got carried away hehe but for all of you who read it completely and didn't skip any line I send you a cyber-kiss (:
Please review, tell me what you like or didn't like, what I can improve or what you would like to read in next chapter. Anything, I just want to know how many of you like it and how many want me to continue. Like I said in the beginning I'm going to be away for a while but I'm still going to be able to reply to your comments, so I hope you leave lots (:
So I'll explain some things that may not be very clear in the chapter.
When Hermione wakes up, she has been unconscious for two days, I added it there. Sorry for confusing.
When Draco summons the Protego Totalum charm, why could Bellatrix get passed the shield with the cruciatus? Well apart from Draco being weak, I read that the unforgivable curses could get in, but now I've re-searched it and it doesn't appear anywhere, so I'm sorry if I confused you there.
Tempus: means time in Latin.
Mutatio: change or alteration in Latin.
Eo Ire Itum: means to travel in Latin.
I love you xx