Disclaimer: don't own.
A/N: My favourite pairing: Hermione Granger / Tom Riddle. Enjoy :)
To say that Draco Malfoy was terrified was an understatement. He nervously watched the black soles of his father's expensive dragon hide boots walk up and down his study and tried to block out the unpleasant information, Lucius Malfoy was sharing with him. However, he wasn't successful.
"Tomorrow you will finally receive the dark mark. You will be accepted into the inner circle of our master and you will do this correctly. I want to be proud of you. Understood?" Lucius said through narrowed eyes and Draco flinched.
"Yes, father." Draco nodded solemnly, although his face was pale and he felt numb with shock. Already? He would already receive the dark mark? He was sixteen, for crying out loud. He wasn't even of age.
"The Dark Lord is not merciful. One mistake and you will be crucioed or killed. Do everything he orders you to do!" Lucius went on, glaring at Draco.
"Yes, father." Draco answered dully, his heart aching painfully.
"You will perform every task correctly, every order he asks you to do and you will stay faithful to the Dark Lord." Lucius continued, resuming his pacing. "And don't you dare close your mind in front of him; he can break all barriers and if he finds anything unpleasant, he will – " but Lucius couldn't continue with his rant as Bellatrix, Dracos least favourite aunt, walked in, without having knocked.
"Bella." Lucius said through clenched teeth. "I am talking to Draco about his initiation tomorrow. Can we postpone our meeting?"
Bellatrix laughed, a high cold laugh which made the hairs on Draco's neck stand up. "I'm not here about the initiation; I'm here, because the Dark Lord ordered me to tell you, Draco, that there will also be a girl receiving the Dark Mark and she will be your wife."
At this, Draco couldn't take it any longer. "Wife?" he asked, standing up from the only black leather chair in the room, his hands balled into fists.
"Yes, wife. A pureblooded wife of course." Bellatrix said in her childish voice and looked at Draco, smirking cruelly.
"But I'm not betrothed. I thought this – this tradition...was forbidden... ages...ago," but she interrupted Draco's stammers.
"Nonsense. You will be part of the death eaters and therefore you need a suitable wife, who will be presented to you tomorrow. At your and her initiation." Bellatrix smiled, but to Draco it seemed more like a leer. "Oh, I wish, I had sons. I would gladly give them the chance to work in the service for the Dark Lord. Then I would be his favourite servant."
A bit too eager... Draco thought, appalled.
"Yes, Draco. You will do as you're told." his father said, motioning for him to leave his study. "Go to bed."
"Good night, father. Good night, aunt Bellatrix." Draco said, incredibly glad to leave the stuffy room.
His head was spinning and his heart was frantically beating in his chest. A death eater? He didn't want to be one; he didn't want to be branded with the mark and he didn't want to live in constant fear of the Dark Lord monitoring his mistakes and doing everything he wants. In fact, Draco was his own person – he had his own wishes and his own dreams; he didn't want to follow someone – anyone – not even the Dark Lord.
Draco kicked the stone wall angrily. Just because his father was dumb enough to follow snake-man, didn't meant, that he, Draco, would want to join him too. To the contrary; he so didn't want to be a death eater.
Furthermore, he didn't like the sound of his "soon-to-be wife". He already had a girlfriend, (well okay, not a girlfriend, but a kind of lover, a kissing-partner) and although nobody knew about that; it would cause a scandal and an almighty uproar. Draco smirked a bit to himself, remembering the night two days ago.
As soon as he was in his room, he kicked off his shoes and lay down on the king-sized bed. He was in deep trouble right now. What should he do?
Yes. He would write to his lover; she would know what to do – she was really smart. Draco smiled grimly. Yes, he was quite relieved that he and Hermione were such good friends. But he would never tell anyone – and she wouldn't either – not even Scarhead and Weaselbee.
"Draco, you need to leave them." Hermione said with wide eyes, pulling her dark cloak tighter around her as it was already a very chilly night outside.
"I can't. The Dark Lord can follow me everywhere." Draco said sadly and sounded scared. "Hermione, what can I do?"
Hermione seemed to think hard, putting her finger to her lips. "Well – I suppose, you could talk to Dumbledore."
Draco, however, gave a hollow laugh. "Dumbledore hates me and my family, because we are supporters of the Dark Lord. Besides, it's still the winter holidays so Dumbledore won't be available."
"But Hogwarts is open during the winter holidays." Hermione said surprised. "Harry and Ron are staying too."
"Love-ly." Draco drawled sarcastically.
"Look, let's talk to Dumbledore. He might find a solution."
"But if the Dark Lord finds out, he is going to kill me and my whole family." Draco cried out in frustration.
"Dumbledore and the order can hide you and offer you and your family protection." Hermione tried to reason with him. She was afraid for her friend (her good friend) and she wanted him to be safe.
"Come on." she held out her hand. "Let's apparate to Hogsmeade and pay our headmaster a visit."
Draco seemed to consider it for a moment. "Fine." he took her hand and gave her a short, but passionate kiss. "But I'll get to lead the apparition."
"Fine." Hermione rolled her eyes. So typical of Draco to have the last word.
"Yes, this is a very grave situation indeed." Dumbledore said, without the typical twinkle in his eye. "The end is near and it seems to me that the Dark Side will be winning. And if the dark side is going to win, then there will only be darkness in the wizarding world."
"Why?" Hermione asked outraged. "What gives you that impression?"
"A prophecy that was made years ago told me that when Voldemort –" Dumbledore ignored Draco's flinch "started recruiting students, there wouldn't be any way back and the light side would be lost."
Draco and Hermione exchanged a terrified glance.
"The end is near." Dumbledore sighed again.
"So, there won't be anything we can do to win?" Hermione cried out desperately.
Dumbledore remained grave. "No."
"I'm afraid, I would be asking too much." Dumbledore sighed.
"What do you mean – asking too much?" Hermione asked quickly, her heart beating faster.
"Well – there could be a way. Mind you, it's difficult and dangerous, but well – there is just one last possibility." Dumbledore said more to himself.
Eagerly, Hermione leaned forward. "What is it?"
"I assure you that I can't ask you to do that. It goes against my principles." Dumbledore said sadly.
"Please ask us. Tell us the plan. We can still say no." Draco said, his face now curious.
"Well – " Dumbledore began, but the door of the office burst open.
"Professor, my scar hurts like mad; I had a very bad dream; Voldemort is coming to Hogwarts and – " but Harry stopped at the sight in front of him.
"Hermione?" he asked surprised. "Malfoy?" he added, trying to keep the hatred out of his voice, although he failed terribly at it.
"What are YOU doing here, Hermione? BOTH of you?" Ron's purple face appeared behind Harry's and he looked livid. "Hermione, what are you doing with Malfoy of all people?"
Hermione decided not to say anything; she just looked onto the floor, worried and ashamed and maybe also determined.
"Harry, why don't you come in and tell me everything about your dream." Dumbledore said in a friendly voice. "Ron, you join us, if you feel like it."
Harry hesitated, but finally took a seat next to Draco, who glared at him openly.
"He is coming to Hogwarts – I visited his mind again." Harry groaned. "I'm sure, it is real And he is coming nearer with every passing minute."
"Oh, it is." Dumbledore smiled.
The four teenagers looked at him as if he were crazy. Which he probably was.
"So, what are we waiting for?" Ron yelled. "We need to fight."
"It's too late to fight." Dumbledore said solemnly. "We are going to lose?"
"Lose?" Harry Potter stood up, glaring at Dumbledore. "We have to do something. Don't you have a plan?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I was talking to Miss Granger and Mister Malfoy before you stormed in, Harry. They also demanded a plan."
"Malfoy?" Ron asked with undisguised dislike. "But he is a death eater."
"Not yet, Mister Weasley." Dumbledore shook his head. "Although it's a close one."
Hermione and Draco shared a secret smile and even Harry grinned.
"Now, there is a plan. A plan B. A back-up plan. It's dangerous, yes, it's downright foolish and I can't ask you to take a risk!"
"Yes, you can." Harry said, looking at Hermione and Ron for support. "Yes, professor, please tell us the plan."
Dumbledore hesitated, but then he shook his head. "My plan is mainly about stopping evil at its core."
Hermione gasped, but Harry, Ron and Malfoy didn't seem to understand anything. They looked dumbstruck and confused – Ron's mouth was open.
"But, professor..." Hermione said shocked. "There aren't any time-turners left; we broke them at the Ministry."
"There are quite a few left." Dumbledore smiled, gesturing to the shelf on his right. "And one of them is in this office."
The four students lifted their heads and sure enough, a big hourglass was standing on the nearest shelf.
"Wow." Ron said, clearly not understanding anything.
"What do you mean?" Harry decided to finally ask.
"Isn't that clear?" Hermione asked impatiently. "We have to travel back in time and kill Voldemort" Double flinch from Ron and Malfoy "when he was still young and not yet powerful."
Silence greeted this statement.
However, Dumbledore shook his head. "Only right on one account, Miss Granger. Yes, travelling back in time is the only solution in the current situation, but I am not suggesting to kill Voldemort." he turned to Harry. "As you probably know, Tom Riddle wasn't loved. He grew up in an orphanage and he never experienced love himself."
"Who is Tom Riddle?" Draco asked at the same time, Ron asked. "What are you suggesting?"
"I am not suggesting anything." Dumbledore said, deflating. "I am not asking you to do anything."
"Please, professor." Hermione said softly. "You are asking us to go back in time and change Riddle... I, for one, agree. And if you want me to go, I'll go!"
The three boys stared at her as if she was insane and Dumbledore looked ecstatically at her. "Very well, Miss Granger."
"I'll go with you." Malfoy said immediately.
Harry and Ron stared open-mouthed. "Why would you go with her?" Ron demanded furiously.
"Why? In case you haven't noticed, I'm not a death eater, Weasley." Malfoy said through gritted teeth.
"I'll also join you." Harry Potter said after a little while. "If this is possible."
Dumbledore clapped his hands together, looking absolutely happy. "Very well – it would be great to send you three-"
"Then I will also come with them." Ron interrupted Dumbledore.
However, to everyone's surprise, Dumbledore shook his head. "I'm really sorry, Mister Weasley, but I think, it would be wiser to send only the three."
Ron looked outraged, but Dumbledore continued. "Mister Malfoy knows a lot about the Dark Side and about the current Voldemort. Harry Potter, too, is in the picture. And Miss Granger has the power to change him."
"But I want to come with them." Ron almost stamped his foot in frustration.
"Your family needs you here... Ginny too." Dumbledore said softly.
"Still – I don't care – I want to come with them." Ron said and Dumbledore sighed.
"Fine. I would like you to go to Madame Pomfrey and fetch me four dreamless sleep potions." He handed Ron a piece of paper.
Ron turned to go and left the office hurriedly. "We don't have much time." Dumbledore whispered.
"What? You are NOT letting him come?" Harry asked with wide eyes.
"No. There is no use for him. Now, quickly, you need to change your names: Draco Lumiere, Hermione Delacour and Harry Delacour – you are supposed to be twins." Dumbledore waved his wand and changed Hermione's and Harry's appearance. Draco also had his hair shortened, and was sporting a tan. When his eyes dropped to his "kissing-partner", his breath got caught in his throat. She looked absolutely stunning. Honey coloured waves fell smoothly and silkily down her back, her eyes were the same, her teeth white and even, but apart from that, it was still the Hermione he knew and loved. Harry, on the other hand, kept his black hair, but Dumbledore changed his eyes so that they were similar to Hermione's.
"You are supposed to be from Beauxbatons, from France and you came here, because of Grindelwald. Go and find me immediately, and give me these documents." Dumbledore continued, handing harry a stack of papers. "And remember; not everything needs to be solved with violence."
Dumbledore waved his wand and three trunks appeared. "Clothes from the 40s." Dumbleodre informed them shortly. "I hope you can forgive me."
"Sir... will we ever get back?" Draco asked quietly.
"I can't say for sure, but I think, even in the forties, I have a little experience about time travel." Dumbledore gave secret smile. "Now, are you ready? And are you sure, you want to do that?"
"Absolutely." Hermione smiled and Draco and Harry nodded, but glared at each other.
"Besides, it would be prudent to keep your differences aside; you are going to work together now." Dumbledore told them gravely. "Accio time-turner."
The big hourglass zoomed into Dumbledore's hand and he put the elastic over the three heads. "Safe trip." he smiled sadly at them and cast a spell, Hermione had never heard before.
And then it began. She fell fell fell for ages. Next to her, Harry was screaming and Draco was grunting and Hermione knew it wouldn't stop for a long time. Horror. Terror. Oh yes, she rather fainted. And she did.