A/N: This is written for Miss. Caroline Potter. It is my first attempt at writing Tom/Hermione, but strangely, I found it rather...fun. It's completely AU, which I hope is okay and I would love to hear your opinions.

And to Miss. Caroline Potter...I REALLY hope you like it. I hope it was what you were after.

I own nothing.

The New Girl

There had been many children Tom had seen come and go from the orphanage and all were just as bad as each other. They were either really small and easy for him to pick on, or really big and would beat him up if he came too close to them. But no matter who they were, they always managed to leave with a family.

He, however, had only known one place. He had only ever slept in one bed in the same, bleak room with grey walls and a small window which overlooked the busy streets of London. Day in and day out, he would sit on his bed and watch the other children play with one other, avoiding him because he was different.

But he knew why he was different now. He had magic. All those times he had been able to lock Billy Hogan in the storage cupboard without a key, or the time he had been punished because Jane Lawrence claimed he had turned her hair orange, he now understood why.

Professor Dumbledore told him he was a wizard. He had also said that he wasn't the only one, but Tom hadn't believed him. No one else could do what he could do. Well, not until she came.

Seven days after the Hogwarts headmaster had visited him a girl of the same age showed up. She was small and thin with overly large teeth and bushy, brown hair, but she looked well fed and as happy as someone who was in an orphanage could be. At first he thought her to be another ordinary girl who was parentless like him, but she was quick to tell him her parents had abandoned her because she was different.

"Different how?" he has asked curiously. Were there indeed others out there like him?

"I got a letter the other day from an owl," she continued. Tom's heart began to race with excitement. This was sounding all too familiar. "It was an acceptance letter into some school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It turns out all those strange things I could do when I was younger were because I have magic."

"So why are you here, then?" Tom questioned.

"My mum and dad didn't want to have a daughter who was a witch, so they dropped me off here and said they hoped someone who was okay with me being different would take me in. I don't think I will see them again." A strange feeling of pity hit Tom. This girl seemed to be the same as him in many ways. Different to most and without parents.

"I have magic too!" he exclaimed, trying to cheer her up. "And I am going to Hogwarts."

Her brown eyes widened with excitement. "Really?" she asked.

He nodded, smiling at her. "I'm Tom, Tom Riddle." And he did something he had never bothered to do with any other child who had come to live at the orphanage – he held out his hand in greeting.

She accepted his offer of friendship with a warm smile and introduced herself as Hermione Granger. He quite liked that name, he decided. It suited her.

"Are your parents Muggles too?" she asked.

Tom shrugged. "I don't know anything about them. I have lived here my whole life."

This time it was her turn to show him pity. "Oh, that's sad," she said.

"I don't mind," he continued. "I've always been different to everyone else. I think I will like this magic school. I want to learn how to use magic. That way I can scare the others when they don't want to play with me."

Hermione frowned. "I don't think scaring them is a good idea," she said as if she knew she was right. "Or using magic on them. Apparently we're not allowed to use magic outside of Hogwarts. I read that somewhere."

Tom was amazed at how much she already knew, especially if her parents didn't have any magic.

For the rest of the summer, Tom barely let Hermione out of his sight. She was his only friend he had ever had and she was really smart. Together – and much to the disapproval of the other students and grown-ups – they studied spells and read up on everything Hermione thought they would need to know. By the time the first of September came, he was feeling rather confident and happy.

Not only did he have a best friend who was like him and was able to tell him everything he needed to know, but he would be starting at a school for magic people; for people like him. There, he wouldn't be classed as a freak and neither would Hermione. She was the only decent girl who had ever come to the orphanage and returning after the school term ended didn't seem so dreadful anymore.

Visions of terrorising the other children with the magic they would know made his stomach flutter with glee. He would be someone they would fear, not someone they would tease and call a freak. The idea appealed to him greatly.

"I hope I get in a good House!" Hermione said in a panic as she flicked through the book, Hogwarts, A History for what felt like the hundredth time. They were on the Hogwarts Express...on their way to Hogwarts! "Ravenclaw looks good. Or maybe Gryffindor," she turned her eyes onto him hopefully. "What House are you hoping for?"

Tom only had one answer. "Slytherin."

She gasped. "But that sounds like such an awful House to be in," she said in disbelief. "All witches and wizards turn bad who are in Slytherin. Didn't you read that?"

Tom shrugged. He had read that, but that didn't concern him. What appealed to him was the power and glory being in Slytherin would gain him. "That's what I want," he said.

"But I was hoping we would be in the same House," Hermione said with a sadness that made Tom realise she, too, considered him her only friend.

"We can be in Slytherin together," he suggested. He wanted desperately to be in the same Hogwarts House as his only friend, but he wanted to be in Slytherin just as much. He needed to be in Slytherin.

Hermione shook her head. "Absolutely not. Anyway, just because we want to be in a House, doesn't mean we will be put in there. The Sorting Hat will choose for us. You're really smart, you might be in Ravenclaw."

Tom suppressed an urge to protest. He didn't want to turn her against him. Not Hermione.

The rest of the train ride was spent discussing what they might learn at Hogwarts. Hermione was worrying about not being able to perform the spells they would be asked to use, while Tom tried to assure her that she would be okay and picturing himself as the most popular student there at the same time.

When it finally slowed down, it was dark and gloomy and students began to pile onto the small platform. Most were a lot bigger than either he or Hermione and they were all laughing with each other. Hermione gripped his arm nervously.

"Oh no," she whimpered. "Where do we go? I heard first years arrive differently to the others."

But she needn't worry, because a short and bald man was soon directing all first years to follow him. A dull lamp in his hand was the only light.

There were about forty other first years and it was a comfort to Tom to see they were also looking afraid. He wondered how many others had only just found out they had magic and weren't freaks. Already he could see who his friends might be. He didn't like the ones who looked smug and confident.

The bald man who had introduced himself as Professor Cherrybottom led the first years to a huge lake where small boats floated gracefully on top. The castle they had only read about stood hundreds – maybe even thousands – of feet above them. It was everything Tom had imagined it to be and more. Already, it felt like home.

"Ohhh, look," Hermione said in awe, gazing up at the giant castle. "It's wonderful."

"It's out new home, Hermione," Tom replied gleefully.

She turned to him, her eyes gleaming with excitement. "Home," she repeated as if testing it out.

Tom smiled. Finally, he had somewhere he felt like he belonged. Hogwarts was his home now and he had Hermione – the abandoned girl who he was so grateful for stumbling into his orphanage – there with him. She was pretty and she was smart and he couldn't imagine starting his new life with a better person. It was like it had always meant to be.