Disclaimer: I own nothing, I'm just taking JK's characters out for a spin.
AN: This is a (just barely in time) birthday present for Sofia (tumblr's dracoandhermione). She said she was tired of the same old time travel Tom/Hermione fics. I've never written them, outside of one very short graphic drabble on tumblr, so I hope this satisfies.
AN2: Also, and probably more importantly, I have not read DH since the weekend it came out. I haven't even seen the movies. So if anything here is blatantly wrong please forgive me and don't tell me. (At least not anything specific.) I'm currently rereading the series and since it's been so long it's like being spoiled to hear anything I don't remember. Anyway, you don't care about that. On to the fic!
Give and Take
The first time she sleeps with Slytherin's locket around her neck it's a night of nightmares; the kind she had as a child where she'd wake up half a dozen times in the night, too exhausted to move, too terrified to sleep again, and in the morning she would wake without any memory of what had frightened her.
She doesn't tell Harry or Ron, just hands the locket over and thanks God her first turn is over. It will be easier next time, she's certain.
She's in the Hogwarts library, heading for her favorite alcove in the Arithmancy section. She sees no one on the way, hears no voices in the distance, not even the ever-present squeak of book cart wheels as Madam Pince makes her way along the aisles, and so she's understandably shocked to a halt when she sees the man sitting in her spot.
He lounges, feet up on the desk, chair leaning back against the window ledge. The tall window behind the alcove casts his features in shadow. He is not reading, there are no books or papers anywhere near him, and she feels rather than sees his eyes following her.
He slowly puts his feet on the floor and leans forward into the light. Dark hair, green eyes, he could almost be Harry. His smile twists up cruelly. "Hello, Hermione," he says.
The row of shelves seems longer now and reminds her of the never-ending rows in the Prophecy room. The second the memory touches her thoughts she catches glimpses of ethereal blue beyond the books on either side of her. Something heavy is sliding along the ground in the row to her right. It paces her, bumping loudly into the shelves. There's a low hissing sound like laughter.
She can see the end of the row ahead and runs faster. She doesn't want to think what might happen if she meets that thing face to face. She turns right and slams into a chest. Hands grab her elbows, holding her steady, and she looks up into bright green eyes.
"So much for Gryffindor bravery," he says.
She closes her eyes and tries to reign in her emotions. She's dreaming. She'sdreamingshe'sdreamingshe'sdreaming. So why can't she wake up?
"You're exhausted," he says and flashes of the day pass before her eyes. "Running from me, studying books you've read a dozen times, managing those two idiots, running from this me - it must be terribly hard work."
Her eyes snap open at the false pity in his voice. "Let me go."
His hands slide up to her shoulders, their grip painful. "I don't think I will. It's been so long since I had any real fun."
"You can't hurt me," she says, more to herself than him.
The world goes red and every cell in her body screams.
She sits up in bed and has the necklace half off before she remembers herself. The boys are sleeping peacefully and if they find she's taken it off they'll never let her wear it again, taking the extra burden on themselves. She falls back with a huff and a sigh. She won't let him beat her, not in this war and not in her dreams.
She doesn't dream again that night. She doesn't sleep again either.
Harry hands the locket to her with worried eyes. He wants to let it go, be free of it, but he doesn't want her to be the one to take it. She slips it on quickly, easily, giving him a smile.
"You sure you're-"
"I'm fine," she says. "Don't worry."
Ron has been very pointedly not looking at either of them. His eyes slide from the book he's not reading to rest on her. She's not sure what he's thinking. She hasn't been able to read him for weeks now and that frightens her more than what she knows is coming tonight.
She marches resolutely down the row. Just before the end she grabs a book from the shelf without looking at it. This is a dream, she can control what the book is with the proper skill. This will be her first victory of the night, one to build more on.
He's waiting for her just as before. She ignores his predatory gaze and slides into the seat across from him and holds out the book.
"Your diary," she says. "There's also your grandfather's ring, Hufflepuff's cup, and of course Slytherin's necklace. What can you tell me about the others?"
He sits back in his chair, an indulgent twist to his lips. "You expect me to tell you? To help you destroy me?"
She sets the book down between them and folds her arms atop the table. "Yes."
He laughs and for a moment looks almost like a normal human being, enjoying a joke with his friends. "Why would I do that?"
"Because the longer I spend with you, talking to you, willingly associating with you, the closer you are to being free of the necklace."
He stares at her for several seconds, then leans forward with a smile. "I do believe you're my favorite, Hermione Granger."
Even though she's giving him her soul, he still demands more.
"Ah ah ah," he says, wagging a finger at her. "You just had your question, it's my turn."
She rolls her eyes. Not once since they agreed on an answer for an answer has he let her get away with more than one question a turn, though he's done so himself more than once. He flips idly through a book. She wasted one of her earlier questions asking him how he could be reading when this was a dream.
"You know every word in this book," he answered, "or most of the words. It's very edifying to see how your mind wanders from point to point while you read. You're wasted in Gryffindor."
Hermione pushes the memory aside, not wanting him to realize he's gotten to her.
"Why," he asks, focus still on the pages, "do you attach yourself to Ronald?"
"What?" Hermione asks. Up to now his questions have all been about the war and the years since this piece of soul was cut off from the rest.
"Ronald Weasley," Tom says, making her feel like an idiot. "Of the two boys you travel with he's by far the lesser choice."
"I don't- That's none of your business!" she snaps.
"Are we changing the rules now?" he asks, sitting back. "May we pick and choose which answers we give?" His smile is sharp and she knows if she doesn't answer he'll never tell her anything else.
"Harry is like family-"
"And Ron isn't? You've had all the same adventures with him, all the same experiences."
"That's not true. Ron and I spend a lot of time together without Harry."
"You talk about my arch nemesis behind his back."
Hermione bristles. "We take care of him!"
"So you're his parents. You and a member of the opposite sex have fallen into a pattern of taking care of an injured young boy and as a result you've developed a familial attachment to both."
"No, that's not it at all! Ron and I- we're-"
"Pathetic," he says, snapping the book shut. "You're both pathetic but you especially. You have the brains, the talent. You could be great."
"I realize you're trapped in a locket but there is a war going on out in the real world."
His eyes glint dangerously as they slide over her face, her body, and she wonders how she ever thought he looked like Harry. "And you could be on the winning side. I would take you in. I've always had an appreciation for … talent such as yours."
"You okay?" Harry asks.
"Yeah," Hermione says, giving him a thin smile. "I just want to finish reading this." She's making her way through Dumbledore's book of fairy tales yet again, searching for anything she's missed.
"Don't stay up too late," he says, putting a hand on her shoulder. "And try not to make any noise when you do come in. Ron's asleep."
The look he gives her is a reminder that Ron's wearing the necklace tonight. Hermione nods her understanding. His sleep will be disturbed enough already without her waking him up.
"Night," Harry says and slips into the tent.
Hermione doesn't know how much time passes, only that it's enough for her eyes to have gone bleary and her fingers to grow stiff in the cold. She rolls her shoulders and prepares to go in. She puts out the pathetic remains of the campfire and stands, only to stop before taking a single step. There's a shadow standing in front of the tent. She can't tell who it is until the moonlight reflects off the locket hanging from his neck.
"Ron," she sighs, putting a hand to her chest. "You scared me." She tries to smile. "Trouble sleeping?" she asks.
He doesn't answer, only stares at her and her heartbeat won't settle. She desperately wants to go inside and leave him out here alone, but she knows she wouldn't want to be alone while wearing the locket. She's glad when he finally moves but it doesn't last long when he keeps coming at her. She backs up until she's stopped by a tree. He boxes her in, stepping so close she can feel his chest move when he breathes.
"Ron," she begins.
"I've always had an appreciation," he says, his voice cold and not at all his own, "for beauty such as yours."
Tom. He's taken control. Hermione forces herself to remain calm. They always knew this was a possibility.
"Ron," she says firmly, "fight this."
Tom smiles through Ron's mouth. He lifts a hand, colder than Ron's have ever been, to run his knuckles along her cheek and brush back her hair. He bends down to kiss her cheek, the curve of her jaw.
"I can teach you so much," he says, voice heavy and rough.
"You hate me," she says firmly and hates herself too in that moment. She should not be enjoying this, much less be feeling warmth blossom deep in her gut at his touch. Ron's touch, she reminds herself furiously. She feels this way because those are Ron's lips, Ron's body pressed up against hers.
"I can make exceptions." He pulls back, smiling dangerously down at her. "Leave these fools, return me to my living self. You will be well rewarded, I assure you."
"Hermione," he sighs, running fingers through her hair. "You can do so much bet-" He cuts off, noticing the firm press of her wand in his gut. "You do know this is still his body?" he asks cockily.
"He'll live," she says coldly. "And even if I did have to kill him to get rid of you, we both know he'd rather that than have you walking around in his skin."
He smiles slowly. She's won, they both know it, and she waits for him to back off. She realizes her mistake - so silly, to expect him to think like a Gryffindor when he's the quintessential Slytherin - as he closes the space between them. He kisses her hungrily, nipping and teasing her lips, his tongue conquering hers and exploring every crevice of her mouth. His hands slide into her hair, cupping her head and keeping her close. The only concern he gives her wand is the space between their bodies, it forces him to stand on his toes to gain proper access to her mouth so he's looming over her.
He finally steps back, victory shining from his eyes. "Until next time, Hermione," he says with a gallant nod. He returns to the tent, leaving her alone with her thoughts and the ache she's ashamed to feel.
This was her first kiss with Ron Weasley, the boy she's placed so many of her future hopes on. But Ron would never have kissed her like that, hungry and demanding, like he wants to own her. She knows if she ever gets a second first kiss from him, she'll compare it to this one. It's like a weight on her chest to realize the second first kiss will most likely be found wanting.
She's secretly relieved when Ron leaves. He never gives any sign that he remembers that night but it hurts her to look at him now. She still hates him for going, for abandoning them. Tom revels in it on their nights together. He never speaks of Ron again but she can feel him enjoying her rage.
She is happier than words that Ron' return brings the locket's destruction. Despite her lingering anger, she lays down that night for a peaceful sleep.
She's in the library again and takes her time. There's nothing here that can hurt her or harm her. The smell of books and feel of their spines under her fingers brings her better contentment than she's felt in months, maybe years.
He's waiting for her in his usual spot, a smirk on his lips. "Hello, Hermione," he says.
She can't get her throat to work, can't form the words. You're dead!
He's standing before her, not bothering with the conventions of normal movement. "Oh, Hermione," he says, twirling a lock of her hair between his fingers. "You offered me part of your soul. What sort of cad would I be if I took it and gave you nothing in return?"