Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: This fic was written as a part of the fic-exchange challenge at our Tomione forum.
With thanks to Lady Miya and Serpent In Red for beta-ing this.
Twenty years it had been, twenty years since he defeated Lord Voldemort at the Battle of Hogwarts, but now, the tables had turned and Harry Potter, along with his best friend, Ron Weasley, were very much incarcerated.
It had gone gradually, the Dark Lord's third rise to power. Gradually but steadily. Unstoppable. The third time really seemed to be the proverbial charm.
Lord Voldemort's choices had been strategically different this time around. When the whispers of the rising of a new dark wizard, Damon Grevert-Grol, began, Harry hadn't immediately thought of Riddle. It wasn't just because of the name, the lacking Dark Marks or that they'd surprisingly found remains belonging to Riddle in the debris of the hospital. It was also because there hadn't been any sightings or trace of him for years and years after that. No revenge was taken on those who'd wronged him, something Harry knew would've been the first thing on Riddle's mind if he'd escaped the blast. There had been no taunting owls about Hermione's death arriving at his doorstep. No attempts to murder him or Severus Snape. Nothing.
Well, nothing until Grevert-Grol had taken the country by storm.
The second that happened, people that once had supported Harry began dropping like flies: Neville Longbottom, Severus Snape, the Weasleys … Ginny …
And still, Riddle hadn't released his true identity to the country as a whole. Apart from Ron and him, nobody knew Damon was Tom Riddle and Harry reckoned that after today that secret would never get out. There was no more protection he could count on to miraculously save him this time around. Even though Ron kept throwing hopeful glances in his direction and Harry was still looking for a possible escape route, he knew the odds had never been stacked this badly against him. In the past, he'd always had Hermione to rely on. Her knowledge and support had been vital in his continued success, and now, he wouldn't even be able to avenge her death.
Harry tested his bindings again in anger when the door to their cell opened and Damon aka Tom Riddle entered.
'Harry Potter, we meet again. I'd say it's a pleasure but we both know better, don't we?'
'You're not going to get away with this, Riddle. People will eventually realise that your bid for magical freedom is nothing but a charade.'
'Oh, will they now?' Riddle asked, rubbing his chin contemplatively. 'I sincerely doubt that, Harry. You don't mind if I call you Harry, do you? We go back so long—it's almost as if we're family.'
Harry scowled at the smirk Riddle sent his way, both knowing how much he truly valued family members.
'No, Harry, I'm giving the people what they've always wanted: The ability to perform magic wherever they please and at whatever age they are. No concern anymore about that oppressive Statute of Secrecy—'
'Only because you make sure those Muggles who find out take an involuntary oath that will kill them if they break it.'
Riddle shrugged. 'If they keep their disgusting mouths shut about us and stay out of our business, they'll get to live. I thought you'd approve of that, Harry Potter. It was my darling wife's idea.'
A terrible smile erupted on Riddle's handsome face. 'My wife,' he looked at the door, 'I'm sure she'll barge in soon enough. I owled her that she made a mistake in her research's calculations. She's such a perfectionist; she won't be able to withstand the urge to correct me about my—'
The door slammed open, crashing into the wall with a distinct smack.
Harry gasped, relief flooding through him when he saw the furious witch pacing indoors towards Riddle, pushing a parchment underneath his nose. She wasn't dead. Hermione wasn't dead!
'I'm wrong? I am! Did you lose the ability to do simple subtractions? You're continuing with one-hundred-forty-four when it should be one-hundred-forty-five and you have the nerve to correct me? Me! Here,' she said, slapping the parchment in his hands and placing her hands on her sides demonstratively, 'well, what are you waiting for Mr Know-It-All? Show me your incredibly masterful insight.'
'He-Hermione,' Ron stuttered.
Abruptly, she turned her head, her eyes blazing and hair crackling. 'What?' she snapped.
'You … you're alive.'
'Why wouldn't I be?' Her brown eyes flashed over their bound figures in annoyance, and Harry's stomach dropped. Hermione clearly didn't recognise them. 'Did Skeeter publish another one of her ridiculous articles again?' she asked, turning to Riddle. 'I'm back in this country for one day and already that crazy paper prints the stupidest things. You really need to put a stop to that woman or I will.'
'Already done, dear.'
'Hermione, it's me, Ron,' Ron said, confused.
'Don't, Ron,' Harry said softly. 'Don't give him the satisfaction.'
'Don't what? It's me, Hermione, me and Harry,' Ron repeated with more emphasis.
'Look,' Hermione said, tilting her head in their direction, 'whoever you and your friend are, I really don't care. Wait for the arrival of your own attorney, I'm not here for you, okay? So please stop interrupting my conversation with my husband.'
'Your husband!' Ron yelled. 'You were going to marry me!'
'Who are these people?' she asked Riddle, nudging her head towards them.
'Nobodies,' he replied, smirking.
'Nobodies?' Ron hollered. 'Hermione, look at us, I'm Ron Weasley and this is Harry Potter and you're talking to Tom Marvolo Riddle, Lord Voldemort! You know this! We fought him! We were friends! You were—' Ron's mouth continued to move but no sound came out; he was struggling ferociously against his bounds now, causing the chair to scrape on the floor.
'Thank you,' Hermione said gratefully while Riddle pocketed his wand. 'You should get a Healer in here. He's clearly having a psychotic break.'
'Don't tell me you want to add another patient to your already extensive list?' Riddle asked, snorting.
Hermione stared at Ron, who'd suddenly turned still, before she shook her head. 'Tempting, but not a good idea since he incorporated me into his delusions. So, I take it these are the two who have been trying to assassinate you for being Voldemort?'
'Yes, it seems they've found each other in their conspiracy theories, leading them into leaving their mental imbalance untreated.'
Now a furious Ron was hopping towards them, chair and all. To Harry's surprise, Ron's ropes were actually loosening. His eyes flickered to Riddle, noticing he had both his hands behind his back.
'Ron, no!' Harry shouted in alarm when Ron suddenly stormed out of the chair, launching himself at Tom Riddle.
Hermione's wand flashed. 'Stupefy!' she cast before Ron reached his target.
Annoyed, she reprimanded Riddle. 'This is actually what I was trying to say, Damon. If they're mental patients, they shouldn't be here and you shouldn't be here. They'll need to be treated properly before one can assess if they're responsible for any criminal behaviour.'
'Is that the Healer or lawyer in you talking?'
'A bit of both, I suppose.'
'I'm already on it, dear. It's why I didn't allow the Aurors to question them. I'm merely making sure they don't hurt themselves.'
'As admirable as that is, Damon, you should have someone else do it since you're part of their delusions.'
'Do I look insane to you, Hermione?' Harry asked calmly.
Hermione sighed, dropping her head.
'I trust your judgement, Hermione,' Harry added. 'Look at me and tell me.'
She looked at him and smiled. 'I'm sure you're going to be just fine. We'll get you an excellent Healer.'
'I want you,' Harry said quickly, noticing from the corner of his eye that caused a flash of alarm to appear briefly in Riddle's face. 'Please, will you help me? You're the only one I've seen so far that I trust.'
'I—' Hermione hesitated, staring at him with a frown on her face as if she were trying to solve a difficult puzzle.
'I think you should leave, darling,' Riddle interrupted, putting the parchment back in her hand.
Hermione looked from Harry to the parchment in her hand. He was getting through to her; he could tell.
'You were right about the number,' Riddle said swiftly, 'I was wrong.'
Theatrically, Hermione clutched the parchment to her chest. 'You, admitting you are wrong, hold the presses.'
'I'm afraid they'll kill me!' Harry interrupted dramatically. 'I don't know what's wrong. I need help, please help me, Hermione.' He flipped over the chair and started banging with his head against the floor violently. The pain was unbearable, but he couldn't do half a job at this. Once Hermione was out of the picture, Riddle would surely torture him into insanity before finishing him off.
'Okay, you're leaving,' Riddle ordered brusquely, grabbing her arm.
'Let go of me; he's hurting himself,' Hermione snapped, yanking her arm free and running to Harry. Quickly, she grabbed his head and pulled him into her lap to prevent him from continuing to hit his skull against the floor. 'You're going to be fine; what was his name again?'
'Harry,' Riddle and Harry said simultaneously, though in significantly different tone of voices.
'It'll be okay, Harry,' Hermione said soothingly. 'Where are those Healers you sent for, Damon?'
'On their way, I trust.'
'I don't want them, don't want them,' Harry muttered, faking distress.
'It's okay; I got you,' Hermione said gently. 'You'll be fine.'
'You'll be my Healer?' Harry asked hopefully. Hermione was still in there—she came to his aid after all. Riddle might've Obliviated a lot from her mind, but Hermione's personality still existed in this person. If he could talk to her long enough, he might be able to make her see the truth.
'Sure, don't worry.'
'Hermione,' Riddle said warningly.
'Contact my staff, will you, Damon? I'm admitting them.'
'Oh, for crying out loud, Hermione, he's just manipulating you.'
'My staff, now!' Hermione snapped.
It surprised him that Riddle actually listened and left; then again, nobody in their right mind would go up against an angry Hermione Jean Granger. So, Harry grinned triumphantly at Riddle's retreating form. They'd not lost yet. He'd find a way to get through to her. He'd find a way to make her remember.
'You could at least try to pretend to be happy for me,' Hermione said, scowling at his sour face.
'Two whole weeks!' Tom objected, horrified. 'They're going to stay with us for two whole weeks! What's wrong with a hotel?'
'We have plenty of guest rooms; they're my parents and I—'
'You just saw them last month.'
Seriously, if he'd known in advance how much time he would've to spend with these blasted Muggles, he would've opted for another solution. However, for a partial memory modification to be a hundred percent foolproof, he'd needed her cooperation and her parents had been the perfect leverage: well, that, and the threat of a full-blown Obliviate. He'd not preferred the latter because it would've erased everything that made this brilliant witch who she was, and as expected, she'd become even more magnificent under his guidance. He knew she'd never be where she was today if he'd had to do a complete Memory Charm all those years ago—he would've had to start from scratch with her then and chances were high of permanent brain damage.
Still, the constant presence of these Muggles was a horrible annoyance.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. 'I only saw them for one day then, because I made an unscheduled stop in Sydney and—' She held up her hand when he opened his mouth. 'And,' she emphasised, giving him a warning look, 'it won't kill you to spend some time with them, Damon. It's not like they live across the street and are dropping in unannounced on a daily basis.'
'And for some incomprehensible reason that eludes me completely,' she added, 'they actually like you. So … you best give them one of your marvellous acting performances and behave.' She violently stabbed the steak on her plate as if it were a demonstration of what she'd do to him if he didn't.
For a while, they ate in silence—neither acknowledging that the other existed, until Tom sighed in resignation. 'So … you think I'm marvellous,' he said, wiggling his eyebrows mischievously.
Smiling to herself, Hermione didn't press the issue. She knew he'd never acknowledge his defeat out loud, and it wasn't important enough to her to be known as the victor as long as she won the battle. 'Well, this is delicious,' Hermione said, taking another bite of her dinner.
'I'm multi-talented,' Riddle said, smiling smugly.
'One of those many talents being humble, naturally,' she snarked.
'Indeed.' They both grinned at each other, clinking their glasses. 'Look, Hermione, I'm …' he trailed off, scratching the back of his neck in a solid display of discomfort.
She put her cutlery on the table and folded her hands in front of her. 'You're not happy I took in these two patients,' she finished.
'I think it could be potentially dangerous for you.'
She reached out over the table and took his hand. 'You know how careful I am and the security procedures I have in place at this new facility. You installed them yourself.'
'Yes, I know that, but they know you're my wife and I fear they may try to harm you to get to me.'
'Hmmm…' Hermione said, pondering. 'I don't think that Harry bloke is really dangerous.'
She didn't? Already? That was a problem; one he quickly needed to fix. Sometimes it truly was an issue that she was so good at everything she did. 'You're too trusting.'
'No, I am not. I tested him and spoke with him for a long time. His violence ratio is within normal parameters. I think Healer Wannabee's patient is most likely the driving force behind the death threats.'
Hmmm… once Hermione were asleep, he would have to pay a visit to Potter and make sure the impossible boy would be a mental patient for real for the rest of his life. There were plenty of untraceable curses that could destroy the mind, some he'd invented himself. If Potter thought for a second that Lord Voldemort would allow him to play his Hermione against him, he'd be in for a very unpleasant surprise tonight. 'Healer Wannabee's patient?'
'I'm not treating them both, Damon, I told you that. The redhead is under the delusion I'm his fiancée.' Hermione frowned at his face. 'Are you jealous?'
'Of course not,' he scoffed as quickly as possible.
Hermione laughed and squeezed his hand. 'Don't tell me your unbelievable, narcissistic self is insecure about your station with me.'
'Well, I'm glad you're finding it so entertaining,' he said, pulling away demonstratively.
She snorted and rose to her feet, swiftly making her way around the table and sitting down in his lap with her arms around his neck. Tom leaned back in his chair, raising his eyebrows expectantly at the devious glint in her eyes.
'I think I can make it even more entertaining.'
'Really?' he asked, running his hands up and down her sides.
'Yes,' Hermione said, leaning in and kissing him full on the lips, 'I believe …' kiss, 'that you need …' kiss, 'a full diagnosis.' Her tongue swirled around his and they were lost in each other. 'So what do you say?' she asked, winking at him daringly.
'Terrific, you telling me some more about my inherent sociopathic tendencies, I say that's just the perfect icing on an already shitty day.'
Hermione smirked. 'Wow, admitting it now, are we? Progress.'
'You know us, deranged sociopaths, have needs, too.'
'Oooh, those needs,' Hermione rolled her eyes, 'I don't think those will cure anything.'
'I beg to differ,' Tom stated, lifting her in his arms, 'and allow me to prove how very wrong you are.'
'Your incessant need to always be right only validates my standpoint,' Hermione rebutted triumphantly, while he kicked the door to their bedroom open.
'Mmm-mmm…' he murmured absentmindedly, his mind already on much more interesting activities.
He'd hit the jackpot when they made this witch his Healer. Now Hermione Jean Granger was his, and under no circumstance would he ever allow her to slip away from him.
No, this was to be the night Harry Potter lost once and for all.
A/N: Anonymous reviewers can find their reply on our Tomione forum (link in profile)