Strangeness and Charm
A/N: [Pretend this was given to you on Christmas day, as it should have been] I apologize for the long wait but it's the holidays. I'm glad so many of you remembered that my beta and I have a life outside of FF . It's been hectic! And because someone will ask, Hermione will not be meeting anyone (Draco, Harry, Ron, ect…) in Diagon Alley because in the books it was set up cause Harry, Ron and Hermione were friends!
Notice: This is mainly a filler chapter the next chapter is the big chapter (Second Year!)
Thank my lovely beta: Gran Marioshka
Chapter Thirteen: Orders and Realizations
If any member of the staff or resident youth at Wool's Orphanage were to look out of the dusty windows to view the overgrown grass in the garden, they would have witnessed a handsome boy dressed in the customary grey, second-hand orphanage apparel who was seemingly talking to himself...
But then, they would have recognized Tom Marvolo Riddle of Room number 27, and any confusion or curiosity held would have vanished in an instant. Everyone knew Tom had always been a strange boy, too quiet for a child, mature for his age, and chillingly cold to be considered natural… Strange things were always somewhat connected back to him, and oddities always occurred wherever he was found. The child's unnerving presence caused even more unease, fear and caution since what now everyone knew as, 'the cave incident' of 1936, and no inhabitant of the orphanage had willingly come in contact with the feared boy ever since.
The workers always wondered if the boy would or could have changed his ways had he gained a friend.
The girl, Amy Benson, tried to stare at Tom blankly but pure terror, like ink seemed to leak into her dull blue eyes; what was he doing in her room? She did not speak. After the incident with him at the beach, the pale, blonde-haired and quite emaciated child had given others the impression that she'd forgotten how to do so.
Even Tom couldn't remember what the girl's voice sounded like before that glorious day two years ago; either way, he did not care…
"I will speak and you will listen," he ordered unnecessarily, Amy would always listen to him after that day, it was a habit she couldn't shake out of her system, nor would it be healthy for her not to do so.
"This morning, some of the older boys seemed to have taken it upon themselves to steal a possession of mine… One of them, as a matter of fact, was your idiotic brother." The room was so quiet that Amy could hear her own heart race at this little bit of awful news.
"Do you know what happens to those who take something of mine?" He asked without inflexion in his voice or emotion on his face.
Amy's eyes widened beyond belief and her chest rose sporadically, struggling for air that wouldn't make it into her lungs while he look at her like that. The pale wizard watched her fight her asthma with a bored and freezing cold gaze.
If only he knew, Amy thought, that it was the memories he had given her, that she was actually fighting.
"It seems that you do know what happens, I take it?" Tom smiled mockingly polite.
Finally, air. Sweet air entered her lungs, and Amy's features coloured with some relief. She gave Tom a jerking nod for an answer.
"I always knew you were the smarter sibling." His smile was all but an ugly sneer.
They sat in a silence that only seemed to affect her, as she squirmed in her bed wondering what Tom would do to her now. Would he punish her for her brother's insolence? Or was he here for a 'friendly chat', just like in the old days?
She would have laughed at her internal monologue if she remembered how. Even in the old days, Tom would never just speak to her like mates would, no, he would order and take because that was the only way the evil boy knew how to interact with the other children. It was following Tom Riddle's orders and essentially following him, that got her and Dennis Bishop into the mess they were forever in.
She looked out the small window and, tried in vain, to recall the happier times. She didn't want anything to happen to her brother, no matter what he had done, Alvin did not deserve the punishment Tom would formulate just for him, but there was no escape from it. None whatsoever.
"Be sure your brother is in his room by 8:00 o'clock in the evening, Amy. You needn't be there, just make sure to bring the black book he stole to me."
Amy nodded because that was all she could do, even in her silence she could not resist Tom Riddle's will.
"You haven't been answering my writings for quite some time Tom, I'll check in a couple of days to see if whatever you are going through has been settled."
Hermione tucked the diary into her pillow and placed her quill onto the mahogany desk. She resolved that whatever was keeping Tom from writing to her must be caused for an outside force, he would not keep silent for so long. She knew Tom had no reason to ignore her… So, she just hoped he was alright.
Hermione donned her clothes and pocketed her list of necessities. Today, she would be going to Diagon Alley with her parents, which took plenty of convincing on her part, to get the required D.A.D.A books that had just come into stock, and every other necessity for the school year. The author of her Defence books, a Gilderoy Lockhart, had held off the stocking until the very last moment, which was a week before the start of term much to Hermione's annoyance.
She walked out of her room.
The Grangers were situated in the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione was enjoying a satisfying butterbeer while her parents gazed around the magical pub warily.
"I don't think that's a good idea, Hermione," her mother said, gripping her own mug harshly.
"I'll be fine, mum. I will be back before you even know it –"
Her father interrupted her, "It's not safe. You cannot go alone into this… This place!"
"Listen. Dad," Hermione started, "mum, I don't want to make you anymore uncomfortable than you already are. I just need to pick up a couple of potion ingredients and, as I recall from past experience, the owner was not the most welcoming."
The Grangers winced while remembering the vicious old man who had glared and spat harsh words in their faces. The abuse was quickly ended by Professor McGonagall, Hermione's magical guide that day, though she didn't know exactly what the professor had said to scare the apothecary's owner into submission.
"What's to say he will not do the same to you –"
"Mum, I will be fine," Hermione repeated forcefully, "it's just down the alley."
Her mother, clearly struggling with herself, stared at Hermione with worry painted plain in her eyes. She turned towards her husband while he stared right back at his wife with an unwavering resolve.
"William, you heard her –"
"I said no."
Hermione watched the argument between her parents with calculating eyes, knowing very well this unnecessary argument would end playing in her favour. It always did.
"I'm tired of this, Elena!" Her father suddenly raised his voice, only lowering it after drawing the attention of many patrons of the pub. Hermione stared at her father with wide eyes; William Granger was not one to lose control of his emotions easily, only large amounts of stress could do so.
Both of the Granger females stared at him warily as he glared down at the table.
"I'm tired of Hermione always leaving," her father said through gritted teeth.
Hermione stared at her father warily. She had an inkling that this was more profound than merely wandering around Diagon Alley by herself.
"It'll be fine, William," her mother said, "just let her go."
In 1939, Tom Riddle sat languidly in an armchair in the sitting room.
There were very few things that Tom truly enjoyed at Wool's orphanage, but the one thing he did enjoy was witnessing the competiveness among the children.
Many were prideful, and a few of them were cocky to the point that they swaggered in their second hand uniforms, but underneath the retched exterior, held nothing more than a desperate child yearning to be adopted. All of them wanted, oh so badly, to be adopted, and Tom prided himself in not being one of them.
He knew that without the orphanage, his powers would not have showed itself in magically concentrated outbursts that affected anyone near, he was sure that without the deep emotions of hatred, fear, and sadness, he would not have learned to control the power that was his.
Therefore, when a young couple entered the poor orphanage to gaze at children, Tom stared indifferently. When he was younger, he always had potential parents surrounding him daily and Tom thrived in the attention, but the other orphanage children, especially the older ones, resented him for that fact. Beatings became a constant, disgusting words were spewed at him daily, and there were many times that he would be locked into the basement for days on end just because some child was extremely jealous of him.
Turning to leave, Tom sneered at the orphanage's occupants, who immediately gravitated towards the blonde haired, wide-eyed couple, who were there in a search to make a child one of their own.
Despite the fact that Wool's was quite large, Tom still managed to collide into another resident.
"What do you want, Amy?" Tom spat as he pushed the girl off him, "Did I not tell you all you needed to know?"
"What was that, Amy?" Tom mocked as he manoeuvred his way around the girl, walking to his room.
"Pl –I…Please Tom!"
The dark haired wizard froze before spinning around similarly to a predator, facing the small girl crouched on the ground. Her voice was hoarse from disuse and with the few syllables she uttered, Tom could tell she was a stutterer.
"So you can speak."
"T-Tom…Please…D -Don't hurt Alvin –he didn't mean it! I will –I'll tell him to apologize!"
"Apologies do not work on me, Amy. You should know that by now," Tom replied, remembering the girl, who had once been so full of life, panting against the cave floors as her blood intermixed with another's.
It seemed that Amy remembered also as her breathing quickened.
"He –He's my brother…He's all I've got," she whimpered pathetically, "Please!"
When the retreating footsteps announced Tom's leave, a shaken Amy Benson counted to three hundred, stood shakily and walked to her small room in the second floor.
Room number 22 held the only person that understood what she was going through now; the memories of a day long ago, transformed into terrible nightmares haunted her as it did him, the persuasive voice that always sang to them and the pain…the pain… That they experienced together in a beach cave in 1936.
Dennis Bishop opened his arms without question, and Amy tucked herself into his thin, bony arms. She gained no warmth from them, but at least she obtained a small inkling of comfort.
By the end of this evening, perhaps, it would be her own brother offering her understanding comfort.
Tom sat on his bed talking to an old snake acquaintance he had made in his younger days.
"Why not take the book back from the human?"
"When an animal commits a troublesome deed, it must be punished –by punishing him, I'm ensuring he will not dare do such a thing again," Tom hissed.
"Master, what of the one human that you fear –"
"I don't fear the old fool. I recognize the power he holds over me. Either way, it will not be obvious to everyone who committed the deed…"
"Bite the human?"
"Yes, bite the human. Leave enough venom to paralyze, but not kill."
"Do not kill human?"
"Yes," Tom grounded out, "Do not kill him."
Tom watched the snake slither under his door, without an ounce of worry in his mind as there was nothing to worry about. The older residents lived in the few rooms located on the ground floor, which was known for their good find in critters and little pests due to the many holes in the bottom of the walls. Luckily for Tom, Eric Benson lived on the ground floor. It wouldn't be such a surprise to hear of a snake attack there, but Tom knew Dumbledore would still find a way to blame him for the happenings. This incident would only cause Dumbledore to become more antagonistic towards him, but the fear he would instil in Eric Benson's gang of idiots (who would, no doubt, realize that there was too much of a coincidence between Eric's snake attack and their provocation of Tom Riddle all happening the very same day) was much sweeter in comparison.
If he could have used magic, Tom truly doubted his plan would be so boring.
A knock sounded on his door, making Tom smirk to himself before letting the satisfaction slide off his face.
Amy Benson placed a familiar journal on the floor next to the door and scurried out quickly, leaving no trace of her presence behind. With the arrival of the journal, Tom knew the deed must have been done.
He picked up the journal with a genuine smile. All was well again, he had his little piece of Hermione back with him.
Hermione had later ended up going to the apothecary by herself, her parents were left behind sitting stiffly in the benches of the Leaky Cauldron. Coincidentally, the feared potion's storeowner had ended up not being present at all; in his place was a nice man with beautiful hair. When she had gathered all her required school ingredients and was ready to pay for them, the man –Gordon– had managed to convince her into buying the same hair products he used (to a grand effect.) In his own words, they would "tame the barmy bushiness", as he so eloquently put it "and make it look absolutely radiant." Hermione had humoured the man and left the store with her purchases.
When Hermione opened her journal that night, before bed, familiar penmanship greeted her eyes.
She smiled when reading the story of how a muggle boy had stolen the journal, and how Tom had extracted his revenge using a poisonous snake.
A snake, Hermione wrote, how awfully cliché.