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.
Author's Note: This fic is AU and Hermione is no time traveller. She was simply born some 50-odd years earlier than in canon and attends Hogwarts together with one Tom Riddle. Quite convenient, that, isn't it? ;)
Originally this fic was written for the Secret Santa Fic Exchange of the Tomione forum (tomioneconvention(here you add a dot)forumotion(here you add a dot)com) and was gifted to Mariico.
Once again I want to thank all those participants of the Fic Exchange. I had great fun reading all your stories. Special thank you to uchiha.s who wrote the fic "Capitulate" for me.
Also, thanks a lot to Ozzy for beta reading my fic!
Chapter One: I'm an Illusion
NEWTs were coming up. NEWTs, NEWTs, NEWTs. There wasn't much time left. Only a few measly months and then she would have to sit through her NEWTs. The thought alone made Hermione's stomach clench in fear. Uncomfortably she shuffled in her seat in the Hogwarts library and nervously ran a hand through her bushy hair. She was already a nerve wreck and it wasn't even March yet. What in Merlin's name was she going to do in June?
Probably fail, an evil little voice echoed through her head. Hermione groaned. She couldn't fail. Not her NEWTs. What would her parents say? Or the teachers? They would all be so disappointed in her. No, failure was not an option! Hermione decidedly shook her head and grabbed her quill tighter. She would just have to put even more effort into her school work. Determinedly, Hermione's eyes wandered over her half-written Potions essay. From now on, she would have to work harder.
Hermione's inner pep-talk was interrupted by a voice, "Granger?"
She cringed, for she would recognize that smooth deep voice anywhere. Her nose crinkled and she looked as if she had bitten into a lemon… a rotten mouldy lemon, to be exact. Reluctantly, Hermione looked up. Sure enough, his majesty, Tom Riddle himself, stood beside her chair. If there was one downside to Hermione's Head Girl-ship, then it was her male counterpart: Riddle.
As usual his silky black hair was combed to perfection, only a few stray strands hung attractively into his eyes. Hermione almost snorted. He had probably spent hours in front of a mirror to look like this, the vain git. Riddle ignored the sneer on Hermione's face and instead smiled down at her charmingly. It made him look irritatingly handsome. Riddle's facial features were fine with high cheekbones, pale skin and a strong jawline. The Hogwarts uniform hugged his tall frame nicely, showing some muscles. In general, though, Riddle was more on the wiry side. As Hermione stared at him through narrowed eyes, she had to admit that it really was no wonder Riddle was the heartthrob of the female population of Hogwarts. Yes, he could be what some might describe as handsome. A hint of a smirk formed around Riddle's lips as he gazed down at her, obviously having noticed her eyeing him. Hermione glared darkly. As if she would ever fancy him. Ha!
"What do you want, Riddle?" she snapped rather rudely.
The smirk on his face transformed into a polite smile. Hermione didn't return the gesture. She really couldn't be bothered by Riddle's plastic smiles and empty affability.
"I simply wanted to tell you that there's a Prefect meeting tomorrow at six," the Slytherin replied silkily.
Hermione furrowed her brow. "No. There isn't any meeting scheduled."
His smile didn't waver as he informed lightly, "There is now. I convened it."
The familiar feeling of hot anger burned up in Hermione. Tom Riddle always seemed to have that effect on her. The worst thing was that he did it with such an innocent air that no-one would think there was a purpose behind his actions.
"You can't just schedule meetings without consulting me first," Hermione bristled through gritted teeth. "I'm Head Girl after all."
Riddle's eyes widened with honesty as he apologized, "Oh, I'm sorry. It simply slipped my mind."
What exactly 'slipped his mind'? That he needed to inform her? Or that she was Head Girl? Once again, the insult was so subtle Hermione couldn't very well call him out on it.
"Seriously, Riddle?" she snapped in annoyance. "You could have asked me before you decided everything."
"If it really inconveniences you, I can always re-schedule the meeting," Riddle proposed, his tone saccharine sweet. "I just need to inform the Prefects. Although, they've probably prepared for the meeting already…"
Hermione's mouth thinned into an angry line. Then she hissed, fighting for composure, "No. That's not necessary."
She could spot a self-satisfied glint in Riddle's grey eyes. It made her blood boil with anger. He managed to hide all smugness behind an attractive smile, though.
"I knew I could count on you."
Hermione didn't answer to that. She simply stated coldly, "If that was all."
"Of course," Riddle nodded.
Then he excused himself and strutted out of the library. Hermione returned to her Potions essay and furiously scribbled away. She didn't want to waste anymore of her precious study time on some nasty Slytherin like Riddle.
– o –
Rebecca Bradley sat in the DADA classroom with her textbook, parchment and quill neatly sorted on her table. It wouldn't do for a Ravenclaw to arrive unprepared to any class. Rebecca prided her House's traits and was an efficient student herself, always eager to learn. She adjusted her black-rimmed glasses and looked at her friend, Megan Wildsmith.
"How long is your essay?" Rebecca asked.
The Ravenclaw sitting right beside her, sported short red hair which was well-suited to her heart-shaped face. The red-head looked up from her scroll and smiled.
"A foot and a half," Megan replied proudly.
Rebecca grinned. "Mine too. Although, Merrythought only asked for one, didn't she?"
Megan nodded contently. Her eyes wandered over the classroom as if to check the other students' essays. Her gaze got stuck on something and a small frown furrowed Megan's brow.
"I bet she's written five feet again," the red-head said, her voice laced with a hint of dislike.
Rebecca looked up from her own essay and followed Megan's gaze. She ended up staring at none other than Head Girl and fellow Ravenclaw, Hermione Granger. As always the girl sat in the front row of the classroom. Although there were a few other Ravenclaws in that row, Granger sat alone at a table. As usual. The girl didn't seem to mind her solitude, though. Bent over her textbook, she read avidly. Rebecca rolled her eyes.
"Ignore her," she advised her friend. "Granger's crazy. Like Slughorn wanted to read that five feet essay, when he explicitly asked for two."
She clicked her tongue disapprovingly against the roof of her mouth. Megan nodded and unfixed her gaze from the bushy-haired girl.
"You know," she remarked lightly, "I'm kinda glad she's been made Head Girl this year."
Rebecca raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Really?"
Megan's nose crinkled. "Yes. At least now she's out of our dorm. You remember OWL year?"
Rebecca nodded, annoyance burning up in her eyes by the mere memory.
"Drove us all up the walls, Granger did."
Megan sniffed resentfully. "Yeah. And after she had infected everyone with her panic, she excelled every class. Only 'O's, as far as I know."
A vindictive streak awoke in Rebecca as she corrected, "No. She got an 'E' in DADA."
Megan sniggered and added snidely, "Must have surely killed her."
The girls' conversation was interrupted as the classroom door opened and the Slytherins filed in. As usual, they arrived a good five minutes after all the Ravenclaws. Rebecca could feel her cheeks heating up as she watched Tom Riddle enter the classroom. Black hair, pale skin and with a body that was simply divine, Riddle was unbelievably handsome. His eyes glowed with their intense grey colour and it would probably send Rebecca into a giggling fit should he ever look at her.
"What a waste," Megan sighed mournfully.
"Uh?" Rebecca mumbled inarticulately.
She interrupted her study of Riddle and peered at her friend. Megan had the same glassy look in her eyes that Rebecca probably sported herself.
"A waste. That Granger gets to live with Riddle in the Heads' dorms."
Rebecca shortly glanced at the girl in question. Her bushy hair was atrocious, like Granger had never bothered to use a brush. The Head Girl wasn't exactly ugly, but nothing to look at either. A plain Jane, boring. Riddle could do loads better.
"At least someone like her won't manage to snatch Riddle away, now, will she?" Rebecca scoffed.
Megan snorted. "Merlin, no. Riddle can have any girl in the school. Why would he settle for such a wallflower?"
Rebecca looked back at Riddle, who had settled down at a table on the Slytherin side of the classroom. A dreamy smile danced around her lips as she observed how he conversed with his friends.
"And he doesn't need her for school work either," Rebecca commented. "After all, he's the top student of our year."
Megan giggled and said, "Don't let Granger hear you say that. She might hex you."
– o –
Hermione's eyes had narrowed the moment Riddle stepped into the DADA classroom. She really shouldn't care, but she couldn't help it. It was simply impossible for her to ignore Riddle, her personal nemesis. Since first year, she'd been battling with him over the spot of top student. When it came to school and grades, Riddle was the only competition Hermione had.
…and she resented him for it.
The worst thing was that Riddle didn't seem to care. While Hermione bent over backwards and spent her whole free time in the library to keep her grades up, Riddle was incredibly lazy. He almost never showed up in the library and he never learned for any tests either. It was so frustrating. While he sat around in the Slytherin common room, having fun with his stupid friends, Hermione couldn't even breathe with all the work she had to do.
Out of the corners of her eyes, Hermione glanced in Riddle's direction, her fingers angrily tapping against the table. As always he was surrounded by his Slytherin friends. Oh, how they all adored Riddle. Hermione gritted her teeth. Her irritation rose another few notches as she watched him converse with Abraxas Malfoy, while pulling a crumpled piece of parchment from his satchel. Was that supposed to be his essay?! That wasn't even half a foot! Yet, Hermione knew Merrythought would give Riddle nothing but the highest mark.
Hermione was very close to setting Riddle's essay on fire as the professor entered the classroom. Merrythought was a rather short woman. Still her presence instantly commanded respect. Her long grey hair was tied into a bun and small reading glasses sat on her nose. Merrythought was a very strict teacher and Hermione simply loved the woman.
"Settle down, settle down," the professor ordered, before jumping right into the lesson. "Last time, we discussed Manticores. Now, who can tell me what charms are able to subdue a Manticore?"
Over the rim of her reading glasses, Merrythought stared at the class. Her gaze wandered over to the Slytherin side.
"What about you, Mr Rosier?"
Hermione glanced at the Slytherin. Marius Rosier was a rather popular guy among his housemates, though for the life of her, Hermione couldn't understand why. He was as obnoxious as Slytherins came. With his gelled-back hair and that ridiculous moustache, he looked more like a mob boss than an actual student. It didn't help the intimidation factor either, that he was very tall and rather brawny. The latter was probably correlated with his position as beater on the Slytherin Quidditch team. Judging by the deep frown currently adorning his features, Rosier probably wished he could use his beater's bat to tackle Merrythought's question.
"Er…" he finally mumbled, "The… the Confundus Charm?"
Hermione rolled her eyes at the pathetic reply. Seriously? How had Rosier managed to get into NEWTs DADA classes?
"Wrong answer," decided Merrythought, throwing Rosier a reproachful look. "Anyone else?"
Hermione's hand shot up in the air. She even waved it eagerly to get the professor's attention. Unfortunately, Merrythought said, "Yes? Mr Riddle?"
Hermione angrily gritted her teeth and glowered at the black-haired Slytherin. With an easy smile on his face, Riddle replied, "There is no known Charm that would be able to overcome a Manticore."
"Yes. Yes, quite right," the professor praised. "Take five points for Slytherin."
Merrythought threw Riddle one of her very rare smiles before she continued, "Now, let us move on to the beast we are going to study this class. What can you tell me about the Lethifold?"
Once again, Hermione raised her hand. Of course, Riddle did as well. This time, though, Merrythought chose her. Triumphantly, Hermione grinned in Riddle's direction before she stated, "The Lethifold or Living Shroud is a highly dangerous carnivore. In appearance it resembles a black cloak which glides along the ground. It's nocturnal and preys on humans, attacking them in their sleep. Lethifolds are very rare and are endemic to the tropics."
"Very good, Ms Granger." Merrythought nodded in approval. "Five points to Ravenclaw."
Hermione grinned widely, always proud when she managed to gain House points. Her triumph was cut short as a well-known, smooth voice spoke up.
"Professor?" said Riddle, smiling at Merrythought. "I think that definition was incomplete."
Furiously, Hermione's hand travelled to her wand. If only she could pull it out.
"Of course, Ms Granger was right with everything she said," Riddle explained placidly. "But she omitted an important detail."
His grey gaze shortly flicked towards Hermione. The polite smile was still on his face, but she could see a mocking smirk underneath. Then he looked back at Merrythought and continued,
"Most important when dealing with a Lethifold is to know that it is susceptible to the Patronus Charm."
"Of course, it is." Merrythought clapped her hands together while beaming at Riddle. "Thank you, Mr Riddle. Another ten points to Slytherin."
Then she turned to the whole class and said, "Now, please, open your textbooks to page 263."
Anger bubbling in the pit of her stomach, Hermione reached for her textbook. As she flicked through the pages, her gaze involuntarily wandered over to Riddle. He was looking back at her. Another wave of hot fury hit her as he really had the audacity to wink at her. Hermione's eyes snapped back to her book and she irately turned the pages, almost ripping them.
Slimy, arrogant Slytherin.
– o –
Two days later, it was a Thursday, Hermione had to suffer through double History of Magic with the Hufflepuffs. Of course she took elaborate notes of Professor Binn's lecture, but she really was no fan of his teaching qualities. So, with a sigh of relief, Hermione welcomed the conclusion of the ghost's class. Bag slung over her shoulder, she headed for the Great Hall. The other Ravenclaws walked in small groups, friends chatting amongst themselves. Hermione walked alone and after seven years of school, it almost didn't faze her anymore. She just couldn't connect with her peers.
And Merlin, she had tried.
Entering the Great Hall, Hermione spotted Riddle sitting at the Slytherin table. As always, he was surrounded by a whole bunch of people, all of them seemingly fighting for his attention. Girls fluttered their eyelashes flirtatiously at Riddle and boys wanted to talk to him and sit by him to soak up some of his popularity. Hermione shook her head, sat down at the Ravenclaw table and ate her meal in silence.
It was three hours and a study session in the library later that Hermione tiredly walked to the Heads' common room. The day had been long and she just wanted to crawl into her bed. As Hermione entered her common room, she was greeted by loud chatter and her mood immediately dropped to a new low. Riddle and a bunch of Slytherins lounged on the sofas and armchairs, laughing and drinking bottles of Butterbeer and – a disapproving frown appeared on Hermione's face – Firewhiskey. Hermione had no problem recognizing the Slytherins. They were quite notorious within Hogwarts. Malfoy, Rosier, Avery, Lestrange and Mulciber. Nott, she realized in distaste, was already drunkenly lying in a dark corner, snoring loudly. Hermione angrily shook her head. Tom Riddle and his stupid little gang. Even she had heard rumours about them. What were they called again…?
Walpurgis Night, or something equally stupid, Hermione sneered in her head while she threw angry glares at Riddle.
"Riddle," she snubbed. "This is not a basement party room. This is where I live. So, kindly remove your drunk friends."
Riddle calmly gazed at her and Hermione could tell that, contrary to his friends, he was sober. Languidly, he took a sip from his glass and Hermione could feel her temper flare up violently.
"I live here as well," Riddle stated icily, voice perfectly controlled, "and I felt like inviting a few friends."
His indifferent manner drove Hermione to the boiling point. She opened her mouth to snap at him, but Rosier butted in. "Now, listen here," he growled drunkenly. "Shut your trap and leave us the hell alone."
The Slytherins, sans Riddle who observed impassively, grunted their approval. Anger rushing through her, Hermione glared at Rosier witheringly.
"You're not even a Prefect," she hissed mordantly. "You, of all people, have no right to be here."
At her words, Rosier sprang up from the couch. He was quite tall, at least a head taller than Hermione, and there was a mad glint in his eyes as he glowered at her. Hermione couldn't help but take a step back. The menacing look didn't drop from Rosier's face. In fact, he continued to snarl at her aggressively,
"You're just a filthy Mudblood. Watch how you talk to your betters!"
Hermione gaped at him. He hadn't just really called her a 'Mudblood', had he? Indignation welling up, Hermione yelled, "Now listen here, you-"
Her rant was interrupted as Rosier pulled out his wand. Evil smirks in place, the other Slytherins followed suit. Hermione shrunk away, stomach clenching with anxiety. How had the situation changed so drastically?
"Stop," a smooth voice ordered sharply.
Fortunately, the Slytherins obeyed and lowered their wands. Hermione's eyes flew to Riddle, her heart fearfully hammering in her chest. Riddle still sat on the couch, legs folded elegantly, as he scanned her calmly. Despite the events, there was still an expression of complete indifference on Riddle's handsome face.
"Granger," he said, his tone composed with an authoritative undercurrent. "Why don't you go to your room and I put a Silencing Spell on your door?"
Riddle's expression, his gaze, emitted nothing but condescension and Hermione certainly didn't like that hidden order in his statement, but she was outnumbered at the moment. The other Slytherins still glared at her menacingly and Hermione felt a bit intimidated. So, instead of starting another argument, she simply nodded at Riddle before she quickly fled to her room, heart still pounding.
– o –
After the event in the common room, Hermione's dislike for Riddle and his friends only increased. She ignored him as best as she could. With NEWTs drawing closer, she had more important things to do anyway. She spent almost all her free time in the library, learning and researching. To her dismay, the library closed at nine –A scandal! –and she had to relocate her studies to her room.
Hermione closed the heavy Herbology tome with a snap and rubbed her tired eyes. Past 12 already, she realized after consulting the large grandfather clock that stood in one corner of her dorm room.
Friday night and you are sitting alone in your room, studying, she told herself wryly. Living life on the edge, aren't you, Granger?
Hermione shrugged, yawned and decided to call it a day. Sluggishly she got up from her chair and stretched her arms. As she shuffled over to her bed, Hermione once again appreciated the solitude of her Head Girl dorm. It was wonderful being able to study late into the night, without her dorm mates complaining about the light. A happy but tired smile on her face, Hermione reached for her pyjamas.
It was then that a loud crash was heard, coming from downstairs. Hermione gave a start and the pyjamas fell from her hand. Turning her head, she stared at the door. That had come from the common room. It couldn't be Riddle. He never returned this early to the Heads' dorms at a Friday night. Cautiously, Hermione opened the door and peered down at the common room. Everything was shrouded in darkness. Hermione breathed in to calm herself down, then she pulled out her wand. Her fingers nervously curled around her wand as she noiselessly slipped down the stairs. Arriving in the common room, Hermione whispered, voice small and shaky,
Instantly a ball of light detached itself from the tip of her wand and slowly flew up to the ceiling, lighting up the whole room. Hermione's eyes widened in shock. There, in the middle of the room, lay a person, quite motionlessly.
Panic mounted in her as Hermione stared at that lifeless person. What had happened?! The person gave a small shudder, indicating that death hadn't visited Hermione's home after all. Startled out of her stupor, she quickly rushed over to the person on the floor.
"Hey…" she whispered shakily.
Hermione raised a trembling hand and laid it on a black-cloaked shoulder. Cautiously she rolled the person around, so she could see their face. Hermione gasped softly as she spied pale skin, handsome high cheekbones and jet-black hair.
"Riddle," she breathed. "What… what happened?"
Riddle's eyes were closed and he made no indication that he could even hear her. Hermione chewed on her lower lip as her gaze flickered over Riddle's form. Shakily, she raised her wand and waved it in a complicated pattern. A warm light descended from the wand's tip and gently wrapped around Riddle. The diagnostic spell did its work and Hermione instantly got a response. A relieved breath of air left her. Riddle was weak, exhausted, but other than that he seemed to be fine. At least, Hermione couldn't sense anything life-threatening. She cancelled her spell and glanced at Riddle's unconscious form. Should she bring him to the Hospital Wing? Then again, he was fine.
Probably just drunk, she scoffed silently.
Making a decision, Hermione got up from her kneeling position. She quickly slashed her wand through the air, sending a levitation spell at Riddle. Cautiously, she directed his body over to the couch. He stirred softly as Hermione laid him down but he didn't wake up. She grabbed a blanket and gently wrapped it around him. For a moment, Hermione hesitated and looked down at Riddle's sleeping face.
He really was quite attractive, wasn't he?
She shook her head, trying to get rid of that unwanted thought. Then she turned around, intending to get back to her dorm. Promptly, she stepped on something pointy with her bare foot. Hermione looked down and spotted a ring lying innocently on the floor. It glinted dully in the light of her Lumos. Hermione furrowed her brow and stooped down. Made of gold, the heavy ring was adorned with a black stone. What really got Hermione's attention, though, was the magic the ring emanated. In thick waves it gushed from the ring, like blood from a wound. That magic was angry and dark. Violent. It bristled furiously, as if offended by Hermione's nearness. Something about this ring was deeply wrong. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
Hermione threw a hasty glance at Riddle's sleeping form. It must be his ring. It certainly hadn't been in the room before. Hermione would have noticed such magic. She peered back down at the offending ring. It still oozed that horrible dark magic. Hermione shuddered. It didn't sit right with her to leave the ring with Riddle. Nausea bubbled up in her as she reluctantly reached for the ring. As Hermione's fingers touched the cool metal, the dark magic hissed in anger. She could suddenly hear a voice in her head. It was distant and shrouded. Like a badly tuned radio, it whispered in her head, distorted. Although, the meaning behind that voice's monologue remained a mystery, it still evoked an ice cold shiver to run down Hermione's spine. Quickly, she murmured a protective spell to keep the ring's magic at bay. Still, the ring burned irately in her hand as she carried it up the stairs to her bedroom.
– o –