Chapter 13

Hermione was stuck in a paroxysm of horror. If she didn't yield... But even if she tried to give in, she couldn't even picture what she would say. Begging for mercy was one thing, but to rise and say, "I'll join you, Lord Voldemort" was so on the face of it ridiculous that she still might have laughed if she could draw breath around her sobs. Even if she made a plausible sounding concession, how could she possibly stick to it? Sooner or later - and probably sooner - Riddle would ask something of her she couldn't do and then - an eternity of Hell, her mind wearing away. Riddle had to see that there was nothing she could do, nothing she could choose.

She lifted her head slightly, not knowing what she was about to say. Riddle slipped one finger under her chin and turned her face up, firmly, but not painfully.

"I hated crying in the orphanage," Riddle sighed. "Always struck me as pointless, but I suppose in your case it's understandable. It won't do you much good, I'm afraid Miss Granger, and in fairness, you really did bring this problem on yourself. But I can be a forgiving master, especially where someone as talented as you is concerned."

He slipped his outer robe off with his free hand and offered it to her. "Go on, cover yourself up. Your dignity is the least I can offer you."

Hermione turned to take the robe it - one small mercy she could accept without tarnishing herself, presumably the last of this type - and then she saw that her own wand was lying next to Riddle where he knelt, and that both his hands were full. Hesitantly, she leaned toward the robe and then dove.

The wand was in her hand, and with only a second before she expected Riddle to wrest it back, she snapped it cleanly over her leg and threw the pieces into one of the Room of Requirement's heaps of clutter.

"There. You can't use magic to threaten me now. We can both walk out of here. You're better off than you were - you're alive and you can run, and I'm considerably worse off, but I'm not yours."

Riddle's eyes widened in a combination of fury and horror, and he lunged for Hermione. She swung as hard as she could at his stomach, but he charged right through her blow and slammed her back against a bookshelf. He spun her roughly by her shoulders and slipped his arm was around her neck, and he was squeezing, forcing every ounce of breath out of her, and stopping her from taking in any more.

"Stupid girl!" Riddle spat, a slight note of panic entering his voice. "Do you realize what you've done? You've stripped us both of the power to do anything! You've made yourself powerless more so than I can ever be! And now, because you defied me just when everything mattered most, I am going to do what you wanted."

HIs voice was now a snarl of cold fury as his arm tightened around her throat. "I will destroy your body, Hermione Granger. You will be reduced to almost nothing. Less than spirit, less than the meanest ghost. Unable to communicate save by possessing the unwilling. And so you shall remain until I come back and conquer this school, and even then I may leave you in that form. You deserve it, you stupid, short-sighted, naive Mudblood!"

Hermione's vision was starting to fade out, as she scrabbled at his arm with her fingernails. Abruptly, his grip relaxed a bit, and she heard him speak again, the fury suddenly gone from his voice.

", perhaps I need not kill you, after all, Miss Granger. Dear me, in the heat of the moment, I had forgotten where we are. You know where we are, don't you, Miss Granger? The Room of Req-"

Wand! Hermione thought desperately. As she dropped her hands from Riddle's arm, they fell on the wand that was waiting in the shelf in front of her, exactly where she required it. She threw her arm across her body, not bothering to turn around and jammed the tip into Riddle's stomach.

"Stupefy! Incarcerous!"

Riddle dropped to the ground as ropes twined around him. Hermione swayed back against the wall and began blankly performing every spell she'd taught in the DA.

"Impedimenta! Petrificus Totalus! Expelliarmus! Stupefy! Incarcerous! Impedimenta! Cruc-"

She almost dropped the wand. She transferred it to her left hand as she flexed her palm and fingers slowly before taking it up again.


Riddle bobbed gently at head height. Hermione crouched down, watching him warily, and picked up his outer robes from where they had fallen. She buttoned them up by hand, and, with Riddle floating alongside her, walked out the door.

The villainy you teach me, I will execute. And it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.

-Shylock, The Merchant of Venice