Summary: CoS AU - Hermione Granger couldn't waste a book, even a blank diary she didn't remember buying. But when it writes back, Hermione falls into a world of darkness, knowledge, and power that changes her path completely.

Hermione Granger had a memory to boast about, especially when it came to books. She remembered with fondness and nostalgia the first crinkled copy of The Fellowship of the Ring she picked out of a used bookstore bargain bin when she was eight. She vividly recalled her first dictionaries (English, French and German), and even could remember her first book ever (a copy of Peter Rabbit for her second birthday).

When she found out she was a witch, it got worse.

Standard Book of Spells, the Gilderoy Lockhart collection, 1001 Magical Herbs and Fungi-she memorized all of them. As soon as they were paid for at Flourish and Blotts, they were unsafe, girding themselves to be raped by the voracious mind of Hogwarts' most talented witch.

Then what was this black book from Vauxhall Road doing in her trunk?

She knew that Vauxhall Arches was in an incredibly shady part of London, and she knew that she hadn't purchased a blank book from there.

It also was ancient. The pages had a yellowish wear and the cover looked like it had seen several North Atlantic storms. The only other clue as to its origins was tiny embossed letters spelling out "T.M. Riddle."

Perhaps that was the manufacturer of the diary?

After the welcoming feast and Harry and Ron's unceremonious story about crashing Mr. Weasley's car into the Whomping Willow, Hermione retired to her room and propped open the book on her knees.

Well, she could use it as a homework planner at the least. She had to get a start on her assignments anyway and outlining the summer reading wouldn't be a bad place to start.

On the first page, she wrote in her meticulous block print, "Homework Planner" and underneath, "This is the property of Hermione Granger." The pages greedily drank the ink and an immaculate cursive replied under her possessive words.

I most certainly am not the possession of Hermione Granger.

Fear clutched at her heart. Oh God! She was so stupid! What if this was a cursed book? She could be mortally endangering herself. She stood up and paced in the dorm a bit, earning a strange look from Lavender.

She looked down at it.

Although I'm certainly pleased to make your acquaintance. May I ask how you came into "possession" of this diary?

She bit her lip. Her overdeveloped sense of rules and decorum were telling her, screaming at her, to run straight to Percy Weasley or a Professor. She had heard terrible stories of cursed books that made the reader go blind or mad or even start singing madrigals for the rest of their lives. How could she be first in her class if she had to sing madrigals constantly?

Hello? Well, I suppose it would be rude of me not to properly introduce myself. No doubt you might think I'm some horrible piece of dark magic that wants to corrupt you.

The words faded into the paper in a sort of elegant twist.

My name is Tom Marvolo Riddle, and I was created as a sort of homework guide. My namesake was an excellent student, but paranoid. He didn't trust his peers to not rifle through his homework notes, so he created me to hold onto them. I ended up gaining a fair bit of knowledge of the Hogwarts curriculum and he passed me on to a younger student once he had graduated as a gesture of goodwill. I suppose that you're the next recipient?

Hermione read the introduction with wary eyes. It sounded reasonable. It actually sounded like something she would do so that Harry and Ron would stop asking her for notes all the time. She held the quill and hesitantly replied.

It's nice to meet you, Tom. I don't know how I got this book (should I call it "you"? how sentient are you exactly?). It just appeared in my trunk.

Just write to me as if I were a person, Hermione. May I ask what year it is?

The term just began.

Well, I should not be surprised. Time passes rather quickly in these pages. To answer your earlier question, I am sentient, but I have been blessed with less angst and existentialism than your average teenager.

Hermione smiled in spite of herself. Tom didn't seem like a curse waiting to pop out at make her sing madrigals for eternity. He just seemed like a nice, polite, unadventurous boy (very much unlike her two best friends.)

A tiny sensation pulled at her, like a small child pulling on the hem of its mother's skirt. What if this was just part of the magic? What if she would be slowly coerced into trusting the book? Then again, a homework planner that could help her with the curriculum could be very useful. But was that cheating? Should she go to one of the Professors, or would they just think she was crying wolf? Tom continued.

It can become dull though, so I'm pleased someone has decided to use me for my original purpose. Which year and house are you?

Hermione decided that she would lie. She couldn't lie about her age. If she was actually going to use the book as a homework planner, she couldn't well say she was a seventh year learning about second year charms. But she could lie about her house, and that would keep Tom off-guard in case he did have coercive magic behind him.

I'm a second-year Ravenclaw. And my last name isn't really Granger. It's Jean.

And why did you lie to your homework planner, Hermione Jean?

Granger is my pen name. I use it sometimes because I don't like my original name.

Hermione was pulling this all out of the air, but she the less Tom truthfully knew about her, the less likely something bad would happen.

I completely understand. I hate my name as well.

Why do you hate it? It sounds fine.

It's the name of my negligent father. I was raised in an orphanage, so I hold some bitterness about the subject. Why do you dislike your name?

Hermione didn't know how to respond. Why would people dislike their names in the wizarding world? She racked her brains for an answer, and then she thought of Draco Malfoy and his blood purity rants.

Because Jean is the surname of my muggle father. I picked Granger as a pen name because it was the last name of the witch who rescued me from him, and she taught me everything I knew.

Hermione's hand shook with each lie she wrote. She scribbled onto a piece of parchment on her nightstand - "Real name: Jean, hated muggle father 'Granger'" in order to keep her story straight. A part of her asked herself why on earth she should keep up this charade. She could easily tell the truth or shut the book and never write in it again. Why did she feel compelled to lie?

Then, I shall call you Hermione Granger. We should all be called what we wish. Might I add that it is no surprise you are a Ravenclaw-your grammar and writing are immaculate.

Hermione blushed. She knew why she felt compelled to lie-this book was polite and knowledgeable. It had a past and spoke eloquently about it and didn't tease her about her penchant for excellent grammar and handwriting. No. It complimented her. But she was smart, and so she couldn't be truthful to it. No, if she wanted to continue using it, she had to be careful. But what was wrong with getting a bit of recognition and praise every once in awhile-especially from someone her age?

How old are you? When were you a student at Hogwarts?

I can show you the Hogwarts of my time. Would you like that?

Hermione hastily scribbled back.

I'm sorry, but what would that entail? I've only just met you. I can't go gallivanting off into the past-I actually have three classes tomorrow and I am the top student of my year.

Of course, I understand. Perhaps some other time then. I am just eager to play host, for Hogwarts was always my home. I didn't pause to think that you may be uncomfortable.

Hermione was struck by something. This Tom seemed an awful lot like Harry. Harry was raised without his parents, and she knew that Hogwarts was his home more than his nasty aunt and uncle's house in Surrey.

So, which is your favorite class at Hogwarts? I myself always enjoyed Transfiguration, but the Professor didn't seem to like me.

Hermione settled in and wrote about her favorite subjects (especially Charms and Potions). Tom commiserated about Professor Snape and gave her some tips as to how to master transfigurations more quickly. The sun began to creep into the tower and Hermione heard Parvati stir in the four-poster besides her. She couldn't believe that she had spent the entire night writing, but Tom just knew so much about magic. She knew that with his help, she could be first in her class easily, and maybe even start preparing for her O.W.L. exams.

Tom, could you keep the notes and things we talked about visible so I can consult them in class? That way, people will just think you're a normal planner.

But of course. Until next time, Hermione Granger.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well of course, Tom Riddle isn't a homework planner, but the conniving boy had to do anything to keep Hermione writing to him. I tried to channel the "We'll be killed, or worse, expelled!" side to Hermione in order to make this as in-character as possible. The arc of this story will be Hermione's seduction into the dark side of magic, but it will by no means be an easy descent. Hermione will be a tough cookie, and Tom will have to use every trick in the arsenal.)

Please review. This is my first attempt at fanfiction, and so I have much to learn.