Hello dear readers :) Another TMR/HG story from me. This idea has basically been running around in my head for over a month now... so I decided "what the hell" and typed it out... mainly so it would stop annoying me! Therefore you all get to enjoy (hopefully) the fruits of my overactive imagination. I hope you enjoy my take on Hermione travelling back to the 1940s.
This story is rated M, for language, violence and other 'adult' situations. So please keep this in mind when reading.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
"And if your course could be reset / would you steer your ship my way? / or would you sail the wildest stretch / Just to feel the force of the waves?" Powderfinger (Sail the Wildest Stretch)
Playing the part was so easy, Tom Riddle mused as he smiled politely at the retreating customer. It was a pity that the waiting game, which he felt he had been playing for so long, seemed to not have an immediate end in sight. It made him so bored.
He immediately shut down the niggling temptation to forget all about the façade he had so cleverly crafted and go and rightfully claim his ultimate birth right. Tom had been employed at Borgin and Burkes for a mere few months, surely he could put up with this position of 'shop boy' for a little longer? Besides, for Tom Marvolo Riddle, everything had a reason and no plan or occurrence was accidental… essentially, it was all a means to an end.
Everything had been going exactly to plan, Tom mused, as he completed the sales ledger in an articulate fashion most would be envious of. He had recently graduated top of his class, and, as Head Boy just over a year previously, had successfully travelled to Albania and retrieved the Diadem. Everything was going according to plan.
Tom was bitterly reminded that the only failure so far was that of not being offered the DADA job now that Merrythought was so close to retirement. Tom had so badly wanted to remain at his beloved castle… but it wasn't to be at this stage. A flash of unrestrained anger flashed through him at the rejection. He was pretty sure that his most detested ex-teacher Dumbledore had something to do with that decision. The old fool was always in Dippet's ear about one thing or another. Just as he was about to continue on his hateful diatribe about the annoying Transfiguration Professor, one of his bosses, Caractacus Burke lumbered out of the back office with an envelope in his hand, effectively interrupting Tom's thoughts.
"Tom, I need to you watch the store whilst I head over to the Owl Post Office," Burke said gruffly as Tom watched him hulking through the shop at a faster pace than what was normal for his rather large body.
Tom put on his best polite façade; he liked to call this one the 'Shop Boy' and smiled genially at the owner.
"Certainly, Mr Burke. Do you require anything done whilst you are out?"
He watched as Mr Burke came to a halt. "Ah, yes. Expectin' a customer this afternoon. A favour for one of your old Professors," he replied cryptically.
Tom raised an inquisitive eyebrow. "Oh? Which one?"
"Dumbledore," Burke answered quickly. "I owe 'im a favour." Burke blanched a little at admitting this.
Speak of the devil! Tom thought in annoyance. Why was that man still playing a part in his life? Would Tom ever get rid of the annoying old coot?
"Oh. So is Dumbledore coming in?" Tom asked with fake interest.
"No. Not Dumbledore 'imself. Someone 'e knows who needs to purchase one of our finer wares…"
Tom raised his eyebrows in surprise. Surely Dumbledore would never send one of his little lap dogs into a dark place such as Knockturn Ally? Burke snorted at Tom's surprised expression, causing Tom to quickly school his features back into the usual blank mask.
"Regardless of the great Albus Dumbledore… can you make sure if the customer comes in, they don't run off again?" Burke added and began ambling towards the door.
"Yes Mr Burke," Tom replied with a faraway tone. He was still reeling from the idea of Dumbledore sending someone to Borgin and Burkes. How odd, he mused as he watched Burke leave the store and dawdle across the street towards the entrance to Diagon Alley. No doubt, Tom thought, as he watched the man go, Burke would be gone for ages now. Since it was now mid-afternoon, Tom realised that Burke would most definitely stop for tea and talk to everyone he knew on the street – and Burke knew a lot of people.
Tom huffed. One of the downsides to being in this job was doing all of the hard work and watching his bosses not lift a finger – except for their slippery wheeling and dealing, of course.
Tom was now contentedly reading a book on the dark origins of Egyptian magic when he heard the entrance door open, with someone rather loudly entering the store. Lazily looking up from his book, he saw her before she noticed him. Or rather, saw her hair before anything else.
The girl, or, if he was more accurate, young woman, strode into the store with a determined expression on her face. She looked to be about his age – give or take a year – and was rather short and small with that crazy brown curly hair he had first noticed. Because of it, she was somewhat striking, despite the fact that she wasn't a regal beauty, like a Black or Malfoy. Tom noted - for some strange reason - that she did not appear as though she was interested in tittering in front of a mirror. Not that she was unkempt, no; far from it. She didn't appear high maintenance, though. Perhaps it was her posture, which was straight and confident… she certainly appeared to be a woman on a mission.
Yes, she is definitely who the old fool sent, Tom thought as he observed her turn away from his direction and walk curiously towards some display cases. He took the opportunity of her back being turned to get up from his position and quietly walk up behind her. He was hoping to be able to sneak up behind her and give her a shock… Merlin knows why! He thought, before quickly justifying that his behaviour must have been something to do with the tedium of his life lately.
Unfortunately for Tom, just as he was about a foot away from the object of his sudden interest, she turned at an exceptionally fast rate with her wand drawn at him. Her eyes were expertly trained on him in heightened awareness. Tom noted, with some humour, that a lesser wizard would perhaps be frightened by the look on her face, however he wasn't a lesser wizard. If anything, Tom realised that his afternoon just got a whole lot more interesting.
He held his hands up in mock surrender, observing her scan him. "I apologise, I didn't mean to sneak up on you," he said in his most charming voice.
The girl continued to stare at him, but to Tom's satisfaction, slowly began to lower her wand. Though, he noted, she never returned it to her robes.
"Do you work here?" She asked, in what Tom noted, a voice that was neither high-pitched nor too 'girly', but very direct. "If you do, I have a meeting scheduled with a Mr Caractacus Burke," she continued, not waiting for him to answer.
"Yes, I apologise… Mr Burke has had to step out to the post office for a short while, though he shouldn't be too long," Tom noted a sudden glint that passed through her eyes as she looked at him; he wondered what she was thinking. "But he said he had a meeting. I assume you are the one Dumbledore sent?"
The girl huffed slightly, obviously annoyed at Burke not being available. "Yes, Professor Dumbledore sent me… do you have any idea how long Mr Burke will be?"
Tom almost rolled his eyes at the obvious affection in her voice when she mentioned Dumbledore and then had the audacity to correct him in regards to the old coots 'title' – in a swotty manner no less! Controlling his anger to not curse the girl, he smiled politely at the girl.
"Well, I would hope he won't take too long, but unfortunately he normally stops for tea in the afternoons and a lot of people often want to stop and talk to him in both Knockturn and Diagon Alley," Tom explained, noting the frown that suddenly appeared on her face.
"I suppose I'll have to wait then," she said in a rather dejected tone, before sighing and running a hand through her crazy hair and looking around the store.
Tom thought she was quite amusing, whoever she was. There was now an awkward silence as the girl looked all around the shop – anywhere but at Tom actually – and Tom wondered why she seemed so interesting compared to the usual customer.
"I'm sorry; I don't believe I caught your name?" Tom asked. If Tom wasn't an observant person, he may not have noticed the nervous expression that travelled across her face, but he did.
The Girl quickly collected her expression before offering an attempt at a polite smile. "Hermione. Hermione Edwards."
"It's nice to meet you Ms Edwards. My name is Tom Riddle." He pasted a polite smile on his face and held his hand out. Again, he noticed an unknown glint flit through her eyes at the sound of his name. Had Dumbledore spoken of him and warned her already?
The girl he now knew as Hermione held her hand out tentatively and he clasped it, giving her hand a gentle but firm shake. "It's nice to meet you Mr Riddle," she responded politely and let go of his hand quickly.
They both looked at each other and Tom was distinctly amused at how awkward the girl seemed. Though it wasn't the usual awkward silliness, like with most girls, she looked extremely uncomfortable. Tom noted with interest that her eyes seemed to unconsciously dart to the windows and exit of the shop.
"Well…" Hermione spoke up again, interrupting Tom's thoughts, "Don't let me keep from you from your work… I'll just look around until Mr Burke returns," she said, absentmindedly waving her hand around the shop.
"Actually I was just reading a book… it's quite a slow day here. I'd be happy to show you around the shop."
"Oh. Um, you don't have to do that," she tried to wave off his suggestion with what seemed like false humour. "I wouldn't want to keep you from anything important."
Tom wasn't about to let her go that easily. Her subtle evasiveness, and the fact that Dumbledore sent her, peaked his interest immensely. "Nonsense, I already said that I wasn't busy. I insist," he replied and smiled at her.
She smiled awkwardly. "Oh. Okay, sure," she said and quickly turned away from him and marched over to a glass cabinet.
Tom raised his eyebrows in amusement at Hermione's actions. It was almost as though she treated this as a task she would need to endure. While he would normally find that kind of attitude from a female insulting, she was almost comedic in her attempts to conceal her real emotions. He quickly moved to follow her. Standing beside her, he noted that she was staring at the cursed Opal necklace on display.
"Do not Touch! Cursed. Has claimed the lives of nineteen Muggle owners to date," she read aloud. Turning to face him, she then said, "How awful and distasteful! How can these items be legally sold?" She raised an indignant eyebrow at him.
Tom had to fight the mocking laugh that threatened the leave his mouth. "Well, with all due respect Ms Edwards, aren't you here to do some business yourself?"
He noted with satisfaction the scowl that appeared on her face at his comment. "I am most certainly not purchasing this awful device though!" she replied in a haughty tone as she waved her hand across the case.
"If I may be so bold, what do you intend on purchasing?" he asked, though he then kicked himself as he allowed a note of curiosity in his tone.
Hermione turned away quickly. "It is bold of you to ask, actually."
Tom raised his eyebrows at her brusque response. "My apologies." He attempted to sound contrite. "Though I will see the purchase in the books anyway, I hope that doesn't offend you." He tried to keep the smug tone to a minimum. Who was this bossy little chit to tell him he wasn't allowed to know something?
Hermione scoffed and Tom was pretty sure that he saw her roll her eyes from his vantage point. She turned to face him, away from the jewellery case. "I am purchasing a book actually," she responded, and he noted with glee that it was a clipped tone of complete annoyance.
"We sell a few books…" Tom trailed off.
"Merlin! Are you always this nosey?" she finally blustered at him.
Tom's eyes bulged slightly at her sudden and frustrated outburst. "Excuse me?" he responded, pretending to sound affronted at her accusation.
"I believe you heard me the first time around," she huffed and walked over to another area, away from him.
Tom hid his grin and followed her. They now stood in front of the Vanishing Cabinet. "Well, are you always so secretive?" Tom countered.
"Only to nosey people," she retorted quickly and smirked mockingly at him, before turning towards the cabinet and running her hand delicately down the panel of the door, staring at it intently – almost angrily.
Tom found her incredibly annoying and if she weren't a customer he would have cursed her answers out of her by now! This mere girl didn't know who she was messing with.
Before Tom could ask how she knew Dumbledore and where she actually came from, Burke announced his return, causing Hermione to quickly turn around and… did she just sigh in relief? Tom wondered with annoyance. If anything, he should be relieved to get away from her! Who, in Salazar's name did the chit think she was exactly?
"Mr Burke, I presume?" she quickly stepped towards him, and Tom noted in annoyance how her entire demeanor changed around Burke.
"Yes… you are Dumbledore's Ms Edwards?" he questioned.
"Yes. Thank you for meeting with me," she replied in a genuine tone, which for some reason annoyed Tom even more.
"Not a problem. Sorry to have kept you waiting, but Mr Riddle was here…" Burke continued as he shuffled through the shop.
"Yes, he certainly was able to keep me company," she replied with what Tom recognised as false cheer. He only recognised it because that was the fake tone he used on people, which only made him more indignant.
"Well, good," Burke replied, not picking up on her undertones. "Come through to my office, we can discuss the book and its care requirements there," he said and beckoned for her to follow.
Tom eyed the witch as she quickly scurried after Burke, not even giving him a second glance. This, for some reason, annoyed Tom immensely. They entered his office, shutting the door, leaving Tom alone out in the shop.
Well, my day just became a whole lot more interesting, he thought, as he went back to his book and awaited their re-emergence.
When they finally re-emerged from the office almost 40 minutes later, Tom noted with amusement the now angry expression on Hermione's face.
"But you told Dumbledore that it would only cost 35 galleons! I cannot afford 60 galleons!" she exclaimed. "Why has the price changed?"
Burke eyed her with a smirk. "Well I had another customer come in just the other day who really wanted the book and was willing to pay more."
Tom knew Burke was lying. He always did this. He knew that if the person wanted the object enough they would pay the extra. People never came to Borgin and Burkes to window shop. He then watched as Hermione looked at Burke with absolute fury. He almost thought he saw her crazy hair crackle in annoyance.
"I need this book. I cannot afford 60 galleons!" she gritted out.
Burke simply shrugged. "Well unless you can either get a loan or have something to possibly trade I can't sell it for 35 galleons anymore."
Tom watched Hermione closely. He was fascinated to note that her expression quickly changed from absolute fury to sadness, as though something had just snapped within her. She appeared to be deep in thought, and fingered the small beaded hand bag that she carried. Suddenly, she appeared to thinking of something.
"If I did have something of value to trade, how much would I need to pay?" she asked with renewed determination in her voice.
"Depends on what it is," Burke answered.
Hermione looked as though she struggling to decide something. Tom watched with keen interest as she sat her beaded bag on the table and pulled her wand out. Opening the bag Tom saw her point her wand in the bag.
"Accio Deluminator," she whispered. A small device that looked like a muggle cigarette lighter suddenly appeared in her hand. She looked as though she was debating with herself to hand it over.
"What's that then?" Burke questioned and Tom leaned forward to gain a better look – an action which instantly earned him a dirty look from Hermione.
"It's called a Deluminator… it removes light sources from immediate surroundings," she explained and Tom noted, that she eyed it as if she didn't want to let it go.
"Let's have a look then," Burke said, gesturing for her to hand over the item. She went to hand it to him, but then stopped and looked at it longingly. She then held it in the air, flicked it and the shop was suddenly cloaked in darkness.
Tom looked around and in slight alarm. What a useful item! he thought, just before he heard her click the item again and the light returned to the room.
"We could sell you the book for 20 Galleons if you hand over that item too," Burke then said.
Hermione seemed to stop and look sadly down at the item. Tom noticed that her eyes looked slightly watery and her hands trembled, before she took a deep breath and her determined looking resolve was back.
"Okay," she whispered, and pulled out a change purse to pay for the item.
Tom watched as Burke smirked smugly at what he believed had been a successful deal. He then pulled out the book that this girl was so desperate to purchase. Tom eyed the title "Magick most Volatile: Ancient Runes"… Tom was puzzled… she wanted to give up that Deluminator for that book? Tom had read that book and had never thought much of it… perhaps he had missed something though? He almost huffed out loud, but managed to control himself as a flash of annoyance swept through him at the thought he may have missed something in that book.
"Well, great doing business with you Ms Edwards… Tom, sort out the payment please. I have some paperwork to deal with out the back." Burke ordered and without a second glance at Tom or Hermione, he went back through the back door, leaving Tom alone with Hermione again.
Hermione quickly slid the money across the counter, but he noted that she seemed to physically struggle with handing him the deluminator.
"You must really need that book if you are willing to depart with something you obviously value so highly," Tom observed out loud, rather candidly, for a change. Well, he figured it wasn't as if this girl would become a regular 'wheeler and dealer' in the store – unlike the Malfoys, for example.
Hermione looked up at him and then pushed the item across the counter. "It belonged to someone I care about deeply," she replied, and he watched her struggle as her eyes became a bit watery at her words. Tom felt like rolling his eyes, she was a perfect example as to why caring was a weakness and a waste of time, in his opinion.
But instead of sneering at her, he found himself saying, "Perhaps when you make some more money you can come and buy it back." It wasn't as though he cared whether she bought it back or not though… that was a standard line to give to customers giving up something they held dear.
"Yes. Well… along with everything else that requires funds, we'll see," she replied in a clipped tone.
"Are you moving here?" Tom asked with sudden interest. He could tell that this girl had a lot of secrets. For starters, why was Dumbledore helping her? Why was she selling such an interesting item for that book? Tom wasn't embarrassed to admit that he was curious by nature and wanted to know everything.
She looked at him evasively before answering in a quiet voice. "Yes, but I won't be staying for long," she said as she pocketed the book and prepared to leave.
"Oh, well perhaps we may see each other around," Tom replied politely. And I can question you outside of this setting…
The girl looked incredulously at him. "Somehow I highly doubt that," she replied haughtily, causing Tom to almost flinch in anger at her tone. Who was this infuriating girl? And why did she have so much attitude? Particularly towards him?
"Oh, you never know Ms Edwards," Tom replied, allowing his voice to play emphasis on her last name – which interestingly enough made her blush. What for, he didn't know.
She was brusque and business like all of a sudden. "Well I really must be on my way. Thank you Mr Riddle," she replied and quickly walked towards the door.
"It was my pleasure Ms Edwards," Tom replied as he watched her retreating form. He was sure he had heard her mutter something unintelligible under her breath at that, but before he could ask what she had said, she was already out the door – nothing but a bundle of robes and crazy, crackling hair.
For a while Tom stared after the door. That little slip of a bossy girl had been the most interesting customer the shop had seen in some time. The girl seemed to be a puzzle of sorts. Well, maybe she would be back to reclaim her precious item.
Of course, Tom would never admit that he hoped she would come back.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter. Reviews are always welcome :)