Strangeness and Charm
A/N: Disclaimer: Notice this chapter contains a quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Obviously it's not mine. Also the idea for this FF is mine but Harry Potter is not.
I apologize sincerely for being inactive for close to a month but real life has gotten to hectic. With school, balancing my art projects on the side, family issues, and health issues I just kind of drifted away. But I'm back, I'm healthier and I'm writing furiously. I once said that I would speed up this story but it isn't really possible you know? So many things happen and there is such room for character development that I can't skip years…Sorry! Also, many people were complaining about Hermione finding the snake bit funny and I really don't know what to say to that *shrug* I guess. Hermione has always come up to me as someone with twisted morals (just search up what centaurs do to their captives, cause we all know Hermione knows). To those guests that write me questions that won't spoil others if I answer and are meaningful, I'll be answering them each chapter.
To the guest Alicia: I had no idea that butter beer was an actual alcoholic drink… I just thought it had a strange effect on houselves…but I did read the book when I was 13 so my memory is less than perfect.
To the rest of you guys: I hate explaining how the story is going but I got a couple of anons questioning so…Hermione is snooty. She is very confident with herself and now that she doesn't care about others opinions –well, she thinks she doesn't care –she is bordering narcissistic… And she'll be needing someone to knock her off and show her that she won't always be the best. She has more depth and she does care about a lot of things. She is still very childish though –her rivalry with Ron an example.
Chapter Fifteen: Second Year
Hermione was always left surprised at the speed news travelled in the gigantic castle that was Hogwarts.
The train ride had been uneventful enough, but the school year would not pass without Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley getting involved into something absolutely foolish; Hermione just didn't expect it so early on, especially the first day back.
"Did you hear? Yeah, Harry Potter and the littlest –"
"–Drove an enchanted car, they did."
"They got caught by bunch of muggles!"
Hermione just could not find it in herself to care over how Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley had driven over muggle London in an enchanted car but she was rather curious on what their punishment would be. Not only did they drive an illegally enchanted car, they broke the Statue of Secrecy while doing so.
Fred and George Weasley didn't seem at all worried about the idea that their youngest brother might get his wand snapped, as both were running around the great hall –something akin to animals –yelling proudly, "Our ickle Ronnikins! Finally living up to the family name!"
With the way the school year was going, she was sure their house would win the title of "House with the Lowest Points" a second time in a row.
Hermione took a spoon of pudding and shoved it in her mouth surveying the Great Hall; it was filled with students consumed in their mirth while they enjoyed the company of the friends they hadn't seen for a long two plus months. Even though she sat next to Gryffindor's second year that she wasn't so familiar with, Hermione had been on the receiving end of greetings from Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs alike, their admiration of her was clear. She had smiled back and blushed a pleasantly pink hue in gratitude.
Along with the new additions to each of the houses, Hogwarts also gained a new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Hermione wouldn't deny that Gilderoy Lockhart was very handsome but the man's books (which Hermione could not even call textbooks, as they were similar to personal biographies, that was saying if he even achieved the things he had written down) made him out to be unworthy of such a position (not that Quirrel/Voldemort had been worthy either!) and his Order of Merlin. How would the story of Professor Lockhart saving a Norwegian princess from a mutated Kappa help with exams?
Hermione also noted that there were no such things as a Kappa (whose natural habitats were located near Asia) in Norway.
She had little hope for his class but it also brought up another round of questions. If Hermione, a second year, could see the inaccuracies behind Lockhart, then why had Headmaster Dumbledore hired him?
Hermione was not so determined to find out the answer to such a question though –the only person that could answer her question was Albus Dumbledore himself, and while he carried the image of benevolent old man, Dumbledore's history and power made him very much unapproachable in her eyes.
Hermione put down her spoon and focused on the sudden anticipation that was rising in her belly. Tomorrow, after a long two months that was magic-free and dull, she was finally going to see Tom. She smiled thinking of the snarky comments the pale, dark-haired, wizard would let loose in the wake of the Harry and Ron incident. Thinking of Tom also made Hermione think of that day during the summer, when Tom had finally written in the journal. Hermione hadn't questioned him about the snake incident because she knew Tom Riddle and Hermione knew that if she prodded too much, he would become defensive and push her way. She could not afford that. And it would be much easier to gauge his reactions and emotions about the situation if she questioned him in person.
Though, Hermione could not find in herself to feel too sorry for the muggle boy because he had antagonized him, and from the way Tom spoke he had built up quite the reputation for oddness…The muggle was foolish for stealing the journal from him –a journal he obviously realized held deep emotional value to Tom. Yes, the punishment that he had granted to the muggle was a bit harsh in her eyes, but she knew very well what he was truly capable of even if he was not allowed to perform magic… He was still a Slytherin. Correction, Tom was beyond a common Slytherin, he had unnatural levels of cunning that she knew he utilized plenty.
Hermione looked up just in time to find Neville Longbottom sliding in next to her.
"Hello, Neville," Hermione responded. Neville had lost a bit of the baby fat around his cheeks but what replaced the change was the tale-tell signs of puberty which Hermione was glad that she wasn't suffering from just yet.
"…Your hair looks different."
"Is that a compliment, Mr. Longbottom?" Hermione smiled. She had used Gordon's products for the first time today, she had not expected much from it, but the outcome was most surprising. Instead of it being perfectly straight, it was smoothed down into de-frizzed waves for which Hermione was truly glad since she couldn't really picture herself with perfectly straight hair anyways.
Neville blushed. "I mean –uh, I like your hair Hermione."
"Thank you, Neville."
"Did you hear –"
"Yes, I know," Hermione interrupted, "Potter and Weasley caused a huge mess of things by driving an enchanted car over London because they decided that a brick entrance was just too mundane for their glorious selves."
Neville smiled sheepishly, "Not the words I was going to use but…yeah. I can't believe they would do something like that!"
"Please, with Ronald Weasley as a friend, I would not expect much less."
Neville looked over at her, squirming slightly, "He really isn't that bad."
Hermione scoffed, "Any person that you have to tip-toe around in order to not catch the end of their temper, is not a good person in my eyes."
"How was your summer, Hermione?" Neville questioned trying to change the taboo subject.
Hermione was far from impressed.
The first years trudged up the stairs to their designated dormitories in a heavy-eyed haze and with a quick scan across the common room Hermione realised that many of the upper years were not heading to bed, as they should have been, especially when the first day back was always so tiring on everyone.
Hermione sent Neville an inquisitive glance to which he responded, "We're waiting for Harry and Ron, so we can –"Neville stopped and clenched his lips.
Hermione narrowed her eyes, "So you can what?"
"So…uh –we can...erm –"
"Congratulate them of course!" A dreadlocked boy interrupted. She recognized as Lee Jordan. The twins hooted and hollered in agreement and the rambunctious students joined in.
The swinging of the Fat Lady's portrait interrupted their noise for a full second before all Gryffindors (excluding Hermione of course) busted into a shattering applause as the sheepish second years bounded in.
"Brilliant!" Lee Jordan yelled, pretending to wipe tears away from his face.
People surged forward to pat Harry and Ronald vigorously on their backs, congratulating them at every turn. Even though Hermione didn't find a lick of what they had done worthy of her praise, she couldn't help but roll her eyes at the oddity of the situation. These boys had probably caused the brains of many muggles to become tampered with as the ministry had to clean up their mess but instead of being punished they were being congratulated. Time and time again Hermione had herself wondering about the mental capacity of students at Hogwarts.
The happy bug hadn't stung Percy Weasley as it seemed, for the pretentious Weasley glared daggers at his brother who was currently soaking up all the attention he was getting like a gigantic sponge.
Ronald had to be the happiest Hermione had ever seen him while he reluctantly stumbled with Harry in tow to the secluded corner where Neville and Hermione were seated. Ronald was in such a good mood that he didn't care of her presence and Hermione was so curious on what had actually happened to not be offended by his presence.
Hermione lounged in her seat and listened to their conversation carefully, deciding to leave all of her inquiries till the end.
"Y'know someone said you were expelled…But seriously, an enchanted car?" Neville asked awestruck.
"Can't even find the car now. Piece of junk drove itself into the Forbidden Forest."
"Yeah. We couldn't get onto the platform," Harry said softly, answering Neville's question.
Neville's brows scrunched, "You could have just fire-called a professor. Or Ron, you could've just called your parents…somehow."
"Mate, not tonight, I'm tired out. I spent a bit of the night thinking I'd be offed by branches and the other bit thinking we'd had it in with McGonagall, then Snape," Ron groaned, "And not to mention my BLOODY WAND SNAPPED!"
Hermione rolled her eyes at the red head's dramatics but continued to pay attention.
Ron pulled his wand from his pocket and all four wizards, and witch in Hermione's case, grimaced at the sight. His wand was, from what Hermione considered, completely unusable and in need for a replacement because it was only held together by a small splinter of wood and unicorn hair.
"I'll just spell-o tape it together…It'll be as good as, well, 'sorta' new."
The brunette witch let out a suffering sigh. Ronald Weasley…He had reached a new level of stupidity. Even Neville scrunched his brows in what Hermione thought to be disapproval.
"What are you even here for?" Ron's voice sounded, thoroughly obnoxious.
Hermione ignored him but mentally recapped on what Harry had said and snorted, "What do you mean you couldn't get onto the platform?"
Ron (who was a disoriented a bit from the sudden change of subject) snorted, "What d' you think he means?"
Hermione gave the green-eyed wizard a prodding gaze which in turn prompted an answer.
"Me and Ron," (Ron and I, Hermione corrected in her mind) "gave it a running start and we were hoping to make it to the other side but instead we crashed."
He then shrugged as though it was no big deal!
"That's weird," Neville commented.
Hermione rolled her eyes at the boys' nonchalance. Had any of them even opened a book related to the school they were attending?! If they had they would have known that Platform 9 ¾ had only been warded off on two occasions both in times of war. The first was in Grindelwald's/Hitler's reign and the second was in the middle of Voldemort's reign in the 1970s.
"So what were your punishments?"
Harry gave her a knowing glance, which Hermione wasn't sure she should worry about, and replied, "Detention."
When Hermione made her way up the stairs to her dormitory, she scoffed to herself. Detention. They should have been expelled.
"Ohh, Hermione! Who are you trying to impress?" the snide voice of Parvati Patil sounded, referring to her hair.
"Myself," Hermione responded flatly, snapping her curtains closed.
"Nice hair, Hermione," Hermione heard Lavender say as the girl padded over to her bed.
Hermione rolled her eyes and ignored her. She knew the girl wasn't sincere about it, she had seen the jealousy intermingled with surprise. Hermione wanted to laugh; she didn't need to guess what Lavender was jealous over, for the golden-haired witch was the type who saw other females as competition. It was weird that that sort of mind set had already implanted itself in the girl at the mere age of 13 or 12, but not terribly surprising.
Besides the girls and Neville, no one had really noticed her hair. It wasn't that big of a difference anyways for it to garner much attention. What she had wanted was for her outside appearance to be neat and orderly –the complete opposite of what her hair had been. Though, in a way, she missed her signature hair as it had been with her for as long as she could remember, she certainly did not miss the broken combs, the teasing, and downtrodden confidence that came with it.
Idly she wondered what Tom would think of the change.
Hermione brought out her wand and whispered a charm that caused curtains to become impervious to light. Meaning, Hermione could light the tip of her wand to the maximum and her roommates would not be disturbed.
With her quill and dipping ink set by her knee and the journal resting open in her lap, Hermione finally wrote, Hello, Tom!
The reply was quick much to Hermione's pleasure.
Hermione. How wonderful! I guess this means you are at Hogwarts.
Even in your writing, you still manage to give off the air of a petulant child, Hermione wrote with a smile curving at her lips. There had been a time when Tom had complained about the unfairness of her time being faster than his but it wasn't her fault that time ran differently!
If I'm the child you must be the toddler –who was it that threw a fit when her parents refused to buy her a book in France?
I'm regretting ever telling you that! I don't even know what made me tell you.
Tom was being very much truthful. During their trip to France in the summer, where this time they were visiting a distant aunt; her parents had refused to buy her a book in order to keep her out of the hotel and by their sides. Hermione hadn't liked that at all. So many magical books she could have discovered in the depths of France, so many communities that could have been discovered and Hermione couldn't indulge in at least one book magical related. Needless to say, she stayed in the hotel room the rest of the trip.
It's because I can be very persuasive, even when I do not try, Tom wrote back.
Hermione snorted aloud and froze when she remembered she had forgotten to cast a silencing charm–she didn't think she would need it when writing!
"Silencio," Hermione whispered, silence greeting her ears. Frowning, she realised that Lavender had been thunderously snoring and she'd been so caught up in her writing to notice.
One day, Hermione wrote, you will let your guard slip and I'll be the one having the last laugh.
Irritant, she replied before writing, just think, you might tell me something completely humiliating –perhaps, you still wet your pants!
I guess you will never know, Tom penned back.
Did the Tom Riddle just admit he still wets himself? Hermione wrote as she giggled unconcernedly.
I'm rolling my eyes at this very moment, Hermione. Anyways, are you still meeting with the Malfoy spawn?
Hermione remembered back to the last day of summer when she had received her final letter from Draco Malfoy, in which he told her the meanings of NILH (Next In Line for Heir –of the Malfoy fortune) and NH (Noble House). Hermione knew she could have easily have researched such terms but the chance at making the spawn squirm in realization that he was conversing with a 'mudblood' was just too precious to pass up. Malfoy then, in the letter, had suggested in teaching her the pureblood terms and ways as an apology for his "severe mishap on his part" in which he attacked her and Hermione had reluctantly agreed. She knew that he wanted a way into a 'friendship' with her. He was right in guessing knowledge was the answer
The 'spawn' just happens to be a prince equivalent in the Wizarding world. There are too many opportunities in being his acquaintance –so yes, I'll still be meeting with him, September 2nd in the library to be exact.
Tom wrote nothing.
I will be teaching you everything I learn, Hermione scribbled.
He does not deserve to be working with you.
She stared at his words for an about a minute. The sentence reeked of a possessiveness that Hermione was aware existed greatly in Tom Riddle.
Oddly enough Hermione was glad.
You are my only friend. Hermione reminded him.
And just like that the serious mood evaporated and they were back to jesting.
Twenty minutes later Tom wrote, it's getting late, Hermione and I am a growing boy –
Hermione scratched her quill against the page before he could finish his sentence, Weird, seeing as I am taller than you are. I'd think you weren't growing at all!
Hilarious. Not for long though. Goodnight, Hermione.
She sighed but he was right, it was getting late and Tom needed to wake up early in order to catch the train.
Till tomorrow evening, Tom, Hermione wrote.
Till tomorrow evening, he agreed and Hermione closed the journal.
As Hermione drifted off to sleep, she wondered passingly if puberty had wreaked havoc on Tom like it had others in her year and the thought made her smile just a bit.
It was a cloudy September the 2nd, judging from the enchanted ceiling and Hermione was happily helping herself to a plate filled with toast, eggs and bacon.
After retrieving her schedule from Professor McGonagall Hermione was the first to enter and leave the Great Hall and made her trek to her first class, which was Herbology.
She was startled out of her musings by a screech that caused her to almost choke on her spit in surprise.
"—STEALING THE CAR, I WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SURPRISED IF THEY'D EXPELLED YOU, YOU WAIT TILL I GET HOLD OF YOU, I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU STOPPED TO THINK WHAT YOUR FATHER AND I WENT THROUGH WHEN WE SAW IT WAS GONE —"
The Weasley matriarch had the lungs of a banshee.
It really was admirable.
After almost two hours, in which she was almost blinded by Gilderoy's alarmingly white teeth (who had been showing Professor Sprout –a beyond adept Herbology professor herself, mind you –how to care for the injured Whomping Willow), had been roughened and manhandled by the Mandrakes themselves, and had seen Neville Longbottom faint with an unceremonious thud. She was already tired and the morning was just beginning, even though to be fair something good had happened, she had met a nice muggleborn-Hufflepuff boy named Justin Finch-Fletchley and they started to discuss Eton, a muggle private school they would have both gone to, had they decided not to come to Hogwarts.
She then went to Transfiguration, where she had the opportunity to watch Ronald Weasley flail his broken wand around and turn an angry shade of red. No one had produced buttons even close to Hermione's and for that Professor McGonagall had awarded her ten points. Success was always sweeter when others before had failed Hermione thought at the time, making sure that Ronald and the rest of the Gryffindors who still resented her, had a clear view of her intricate, and most of all perfect little buttons.
Again in the great hall, this time for lunch, she decided to grab a sandwich and to head for the library. She made sure to make eye contact with Malfoy, hoping to meet at this moment so they could solidify their plans for later.
Hermione was glad he wasn't so much of an idiot and understood the eye contact perfectly.
"You'll teach me anything?"
It wasn't so much a question as it had the underlying of an order.
Draco was squirming again and unconsciously moved nearer to the companion that he had brought along with him. He had said that Theodore Nott would be nothing more than a helper, since he was well-versed in pure-blooded laws. Hermione had the itching suspicion that Draco had brought Theodore as a means of unnecessary protection.
"Yes," Draco said.
Theodore had been quiet throughout the whole ten minutes the meeting had been going on for. That is, until Hermione levelled her stare onto him. The boy looked frail, like he could be blown away any second, his hair was black and neat and his robes expensive and immaculate.
"I will also," he said in a surprisingly strong voice that evidenced of good humour and liveliness.
"Why?" Hermione asked, her eyes narrowed slightly, "I am a muggleborn –"
"–Which makes it all the better. Many muggleborns come into our world thinking that they know everything there is to know about our world having read a book or two," Theodore ranted, "it'll be nice to teach them wrong for a change."
"So this is to show me you are better than us?"
"No! No!" Draco exclaimed, "Look Granger, I'm doing this as an apology and hopefully through these lessons we can become…friends."
Hermione scoffed inwardly, she would never become friends with them. Allies, perhaps.
"Don't trust us, Granger?" He questioned with a smile.
His grin only widened at her truthfulness, "Granger, love" (Hermione's eye twitched) "We came out of the womb reciting pureblood laws that we had to uphold! Draco and I know about everything there is to know about the wizarding world!"
Things that I wouldn't know, Hermione finished. This really could help her and it was only about 45 minutes of her day…
Draco was silent though he glared daggers at Theodore.
"Excuse me?" Hermione started.
"The only way you'll trust us is if you know that we know what we're talking about. So, test us!" Theodore repeated.
"And how would I know that everything that comes out of your mouths isn't complete and utter rubbish?"
"I guess you'll just have to trust us!" The dark-haired wizard replied with a grin much to Hermione's agitation.
"…Tell me of House elves' magic and their treatment," Hermione finally said after a minute of contemplation. There was barely a book that mentioned House elves' magic.
He rolled his eyes.
"No one bothers to learn about House elf magic. Too mundane," Theodore snorted.
Too complicated, Hermione corrected in her mind. She had seen house elf magic at work and she seriously wondered how wizards and witches could overlook such extraordinary power.
"I know of some lower families that abuse their elves," Malfoy said. Both he and Theodore's noses were scrunched at the thought.
"I thought House elves were seen as creatures undeserving of human rights?"
Malfoy scoffed and said with a disparaging tone, "And why would they be seen as any less?"
Hermione stared at him blankly, "I was just asking a question."
She could practically see the flashbacks of birds pecking at Malfoy's pale skin through his blue eyes, and Hermione smiled.
Theodore coughed, "What Draco means is that House elves don't usually get much attention, but respectable purebloods –and if their lucky, half-bloods –do not lay a hand on their elves."
"And why is that?" Hermione said, actually curious.
"The man who would abuse or injure his servant would main and wilfully deteriorate the value of his horse," Draco quoted stoically.
Hermione drank in the olden quote greedily, "So abuse is looked down upon because the House elf's value is lowered?"
"Uh…Not really," Theodore started, "It's not the actual abuse that's looked down upon –it's the wizard that's looked down upon. The house elf knows when they are wrong and when they overstep their boundaries –"
"–they are grown to punish themselves. A wizard laying a hand on their house elf in a fit of anger, it shows weakness. That they are not in control and would stoop as low to harm their creature. A species that does not even deserve that much raw emotion," Malfoy finished off.
"And this reflects and lowers the value of their house?"
"Yes," both boys said together.
"Well," Draco corrected himself in an arrogant tone, "this does not apply to you if you are a part of the Sacred Twenty-Eight."
"The Sacred Twenty-Eight?" Hermione questioned, knowing she was playing into Draco's hands by asking.
"Are the Twenty-Eight solely pure families in England…The term Sacred Twenty-Eight just started being used ever since my grandfather, Cantankerus Nott, wrote the Pure-blood Directory."
Wizards were idiotic. Everything that had come out of both boy's mouths were riddled with prejudice and codswallop. But Hermione admitted to herself that she wouldn't find information from anywhere else. It also opened her eyes, realising once more that the Wizarding World had a culture she would never understand completely due to never being raised into it.
This was her world just as much as it was the pureblood's world. She deserved her magic and she knew she deserved to be here. All the bitterness that was rising in her seemed to make her mouth taste bad. Hermione had never been hated as much as she was in the wizarding world. In primary it was petty jealousy but in the wizarding world it was different. Never in her life had she been on the end of the discrimination that she experienced at the hands of many wizards and witches here.
It was still a big part of the culture shock that she was trying to get used to.
"We have 12 minutes of lunch break left…I'm going to eat," Hermione announced while bringing out her wrapped sandwich from her bag. The slytherins followed her example.
They ate in silence, each of their table manners impeccable. It gave Hermione the ability to think clearly and to measure the pros and cons of the situation. Finally, she picked up her bag and swung it over her shoulder. Double checking that she had the books needed for Defence class, she cancelled the silencing charms she had enacted around their table and turned towards the two second years sitting in the library chairs.
"I'll have to decline your offer."
Hermione's voice was steady as she looked each boy in the eye after she had said her statement. Their surprise was almost laughable. How funny it was that they expected her to follow them like a servant just because they offered her knowledge. Knowledge could be found elsewhere and she could not stomach the thought of asking these bigots, which looked down at her, for help.
What she was looked for was unbiased truths and facts, something the prats sat primly in the library seats would not offer her.
Draco's face was pale.
"E –excuse me?"
But Hermione was already near the library exit when Draco Malfoy stuttered out those words.
"What in the name of Godric is occurring in this classroom!?"
Minerva McGonagall stood in the middle of the frozen chaos and laid thunderous eyes on the supposed D.A.D.A professor. Who had not even bothered with his student's safety, instead choosing to hide underneath his desk.
The pixies had been immobilised by Hermione just mere seconds ago but the noise had already attracted attention.
Hermione stepped forward when she realised that Lockhart wouldn't say a thing, "Professor McGonagall, Professor Lockhart was demonstrating the 'dangerousness' of pixies and let them loose…So, the method did work, I suppose."
Lockhart smiled at her, his teeth still suspiciously blinding even when the man was cloaked in shadows, "Yes, it did work!"
McGonagall ignored him.
"And who immobilised them?"
"That'd be Miss Granger," Lockhart said while ambling out from beneath his desk.
He made to talk some more but Professor McGonagall silenced him with a look.
"For demonstrating magical aptitude and for protecting your fellow classmates from a professor's…inaccuracy, 10 points to Gryffindor."
Hermione blushed and smiled gratefully at the Professor. She noticed how many of the classroom's occupants shot her appreciative looks making her blush deepened.
The feast is almost over.
Excellent! Ok, classes just finished so I'll make my way to The Room.
Hermione had collided with a little girl in the middle of the hallway, a girl with bright orange-red hair that was covering her face. The books that the girl was holding in her arms had fallen around both their legs, so Hermione had bent quickly to pick them up and help her.
Hermione watched her. The girl's hands were shaking and Hermione wondered why.
"I'm sorry," the girl said quietly. Her voice was terribly weak and trembled, even more so than her hands.
When she pushed her red hair back it revealed a face filled with freckles, a long nose, and brown eyes encircled with darkness and bags. Even with the flaws, the features were unmistakably Weasley.
Hermione picked up the black diary that had fallen by her feet, "Here –"
Hermione couldn't even finish the sentence she had started to say before the diary had been snatched roughly out of her hands. She watched as the redhead's gaze flickered over the object hungrily, looking for damage. As though realizing she had someone else in her presence, the little redhead met Hermione's widened eyes.
"I'm sorry," the Weasley girl said in a rushed, breathless voice.
And before Hermione could even blink the child walked past her breezily. Her hands were not trembling anymore and she looked as content as one could be –no signs of the nervous, ginger wreck that she once was. Hermione's curious gaze following her until she disappeared from sight.
It wasn't even past curfew yet but Hermione wanted to wait for Tom. The Room looked the same as it had last school year. The fire warmed her toes and fingers but could not quell the ice cold anticipation that had settled in her belly.
Hermione stopped her foot tapping and picked up the book that had been lying on the table. All thanks to the room.
It seemed like an eternity of barely processed words and skimming but finally…Finally, the door of The Room squeaked open to reveal nothingness.
Tom dropped the disillusionment charm and they both took each other in with accessing gazes.
The first thing she noticed was the height Tom had gained.
Then her eyes moved to his hair, which was still neatly combed, his face still smooth and pale, and his eyes still the same shade. Though, Hermione could see that Tom had dropped quite a bit of weight. Her eyes narrowed in anger briefly before she let it dissipate and acknowledged the happiness bubbling up at her core.
"Look at you…You're right, you have grown taller," she finally choked out.
Smiling brightly, she launched herself at Tom with a familiar tight gripped hug and he responded as expected, winding his arms around her back lightly. The affection only seemed to bring back the memory of the peck they had shared before leaving for break.
Right then and there, both first years decided that they would stick to hugs. Hugs described all the emotions they did not know how to voice, but most of all, hugs were their method of closeness. It was theirs.
"I've missed you a great deal...Even if we've been talking through the journals almost every day…Well, not every day, with the time differences and all –"
Cutting off her babbling, Tom spoke with a lazy smile playing at his lips, "Of course you did. I could have gone a good solid day without your presence."
Hermione pulled away from the embrace to smack the smug wizard on the arm, only to frown when Tom flinched in pain.
I didn't think I hit him that hard…
Hermione surveyed him under a harsh eye, "…Have you even been eating, Tom?"
He tried not to show his humiliation but Hermione saw right through it.
"The orphanage has been a bit stiff on money at the moment," Tom said rigidly.
"Ms. Cole's been muttering about an economic –"
"Depression," Hermione finished.
"I guess I never thought about it," she started, "…Maybe…Maybe I subconsciously did not want to think about it but the 1940s and a bit onwards, is not a very happy time…"
"And we'll be talking about that tomorrow. We can discuss other things that do not involve my time or the orphanage," Tom interrupted, making his way to the couch and leading Hermione over.
"…Such as the Malfoy brat."
Hermione smiled at Tom who was looking at her with the hard stare of jealousy, "Calm down, Tom. If you must know I declined the offer."
"Good," Tom said with a grin, "I mean it's only reasonable. I cannot even fathom why you'd been indecisive concerning the idiot in the first place!"
With an eye roll he continued, "Anyways, we have each other. What could we possibly need from them?"
"At the time it had seemed like a good idea," Hermione shrugged, "because they're purebloods. A part of The Sacred Twenty- Eight from what they've said."
His eyes darkened. "Oh…The Sacred…That book's just been published by Nott's father –my time period's Nott –and its brought turmoil into Slytherin house ever since."
"Just a change in dynamics. The Sacred Twenty-Eight caused the Slytherin caste system to rearrange itself…Leaving me even further down from where I was originally."
"And you'll rise," Hermione said, not an ounce of pity in her voice only raw determination, "In fact, we'll do it together!"
"Have you forgotten that we are in different time periods or did those pureblooded idiots you spent your lunch with destroy all of your sense?"
"I'm serious, Tom. It couldn't be that hard…Just make friends in other houses first. And then it'll move on from there."
"I have never been good with making friends and that's beside you."
There was a beat of silence which allowed a base for the serious issue Hermione was about to bring up. Hermione, picking up her old habit began, biting her lip furiously with regret.
"I think…We should talk of that incident that happened this summer."
His jaw clenched and unclenched, the good mood suddenly evaporating, "There is nothing to talk about, Hermione. I told you everything that occurred."
"Yes, but you could have just stolen the diary back, without landing the muggle in the hospital."
"Are you defending him?" Tom said monotonously.
"Of course not!" Hermione scoffed, "I have no sympathy for bullies –I've suffered enough at their hands. I'm merely stating the obvious."
"I know you Tom and I know you have a way with words. You could have easily persuaded him to give it back."
He didn't speak for a while.
"He deserved it."
"So it's a personal issue, then?"
There was silence again.
"Start from the beginning," Hermione whispered, "there must be some sort of backstory to it."
His wand was clenched in his left hand and he was breathing in deeply. Whether to control anger or if he was just overwhelmed, Hermione didn't know.
"…I was nine when it happened. At the time, I didn't know it was magic…I just called it my powers. It was a distinct trait that made me better than them."
Hermione let out a small hum that captured his attention, "Magic doesn't make us better than muggles…"
"And why would you think that? Hermione we can do extraordinary things –things that bend the laws of gravity and physics! We can fly –"
"Muggles have their ways of flying too."
"We can travel to anywhere that pleases us in less than a second –"
"Yet, we haven't figured a way to go to the moon yet."
Tom scoffed at that and said in a scornful tone, "And muggles have?"
"Well of course," Hermione said with a broad grin, "Neil Armstrong, 1969!"
"Actually very possible. Apollo 11, a space craft –oh, you wouldn't know what that is, would you? A space craft is a vessel, a machine, designed to travel into space –pretty simple."
"And muggles used this…space craft to land on the moon?"
"Tom! Would you like me to get the tape? I'll show you and –and we've gotten off topic," Hermione sighed.
"Continue with your story, Tom. Sorry."
In happier spirits than before Tom told the story of the muggle girl Amy Benson, who had caught him practicing wandless magic in the tall grasses. She had been fascinated by his magic. Scared of Tom's anger having been caught, she promised to tell no one of what she had seen and from then on out she had followed Tom around like a loyal pup
"But she told," Tom said his voice morphing dangerously, "months later, to a muggle boy, Dennis Bishop. I know he did not believe the girl at first but I became careless with my emotions and one day he had proof. He threatened to tell and if he had, it would have landed me in a hospital, which is by far, much worse than the orphanage…and I was so angry Hermione…I don't think I've ever been so angry…So I tricked them."
Hermione held Tom's hand in-between both of her's.
"What happened Tom?"
"Every year we take a trip to the beach and there is a cave there that I always explore. Even though the muggles were both afraid of my magic, they couldn't help but be enthralled by it too. It's like I remembered every beating, every 'freak' that I'd had thrown my way and…"
Tom shrugged releasing the tension building at his shoulders.
"My magic grew erratic. Next thing that's occurred they are on the floor bleeding and screaming and there's still magic vibrating in the air and it's pulsing on my skin. I have never felt anything like it. And for the first time in a while I was the one that finally had the power.
Hermione digested the story while Tom stared at her discreetly from the corner of his eye. It was gruesome, yes, but at least she understood a bit of it. But had he expected her to run away screaming? Or to disown their friendship?
"Ok," the witch said simply, "but what does this have to do with the incident from this summer?"
"Amy has an older brother. He didn't take well to his sister being hurt."
"Ahh," she let out softly. There was nothing for Hermione to really worry about. Tom had been well within his right in fighting back and she could not condemn him when she had done just about the same thing last school year. It really was not surprising either, that his magic had fought for him in a time of rage and desperation.
"I think…I think that's enough seriousness for today," she said simply and bounded over to the area that The Room had created for them.
"Well? Are you coming or not –You were the one who scheduled a duel the first day back."
Tom grinned. Taking off his cloak and retrieving his wand, he followed his friend.
"That man sounds beyond stupid," Tom exclaimed after their duel. Hermione had won the duel and Tom had announced that he would one up her next time –which she didn't doubt. They were now lazing on the couch and it was forty minutes after curfew.
"He has a lot of influence in the wizarding world –apparently a pretty face and a blinding smile can get you anything, even an Order of Merlin."
"You think he's pretty," Tom probed his face scrunched in disgust.
"Well…"Hermione began to splutter, "I –I have eyes, ok! And he has proportional features!"
He rolled his eyes.
"I still say you land him in –nothing permanent, calm down! Sneak a potion in his drink. Just enough so Dumbledore will acquire a new Defence professor. What the old coot was thinking in hiring another deficient professor in an important subject that is essential in living in the wizarding world, I'll never know."
"I would never do that."
"And why not?"
"It is not Lockhart's fault that he is stupid, I cannot punish him for lacking brain cells."
"Yes you can."
"I would be landed in Azkaban."
Tom let out a scoff, "There is always a way around rules and laws."
Hermione opened her mouth to argue before closing it and thinking, "True. But still, rules are important."
"Why do you think?" Tom asked truly curious.
Hermione bit her lip before starting, "Rules are…They're the only way I have of telling what's socially acceptable and what's not."
"Most people do not look at rules that way," Tom said simply.
"Everyone has this morality that we've never been able to grasp," the dark-haired wizard drawled out.
"What do you mean 'we'?"
"I mean, that you are exactly like me, Hermione. I guess that's why you're my friend," Tom said with a grin, "we both have warped moral compasses."
Draco turned to Theodore who was holding a handkerchief to his nose.
"What is it? What do you smell?"
"Poverty," Theodore groaned, while passing Ginevra Weasley in the hall.
"Now that you mention it, it is a bit suffocating," Draco smirked in the red-head's direction, only faltering when the girl seemed not to notice them at all and continued on her merry way.
"Mhmm,"Draco agreed. He stopped to say the password to the entrance of the Slytherin dorms (victorious) and ducked into the common room with Theo trailing behind him.
They took their seats in the middle of the common room.
"Is Blaise still staring at the walls upstairs?" Draco asked Theo with laughter twitching at his lips.
Draco was surprised to say the least, when instead he was met with a disapproving glance.
"Stop, Draco. You wouldn't understand."
Angry red splotches erupted on the blonde's pale cheeks, "Oh? And how wouldn't I understand?"
"Because you're an only child," the icy voice of Daphne Greengrass intruded. Her hair was a dark brown almost black, that fell down to her shoulders. Unlike her littlest sister who was as pale as a Malfoy, Daphne had darker skin that screamed of mixed blood. It was why many tabloids doubted the blood of the eldest Greengrass daughter. It's also why she hadn't been sent betroths or marriage offers. No one voiced their thoughts to the Greengrass clan, in fears that it would be the last time that they would ever speak.
Draco was silenced after the comment. It was known that Narcissa Malfoy struggled in the pregnancy of Draco Malfoy and due to complications there would be no more successors coming from the marriage of Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black.
The thought of his family also brought up his failure this afternoon. He did not want to inform his father of what had occurred but he knew that he would have to.
"'Scuse me," the Malfoy heir said stiffly, "I have to send a letter."
The only person who acknowledged his statement fully was Theodore Nott, who sent a pitying glance his way.
It's only been the start of the school year but, as I've told you, I'm hoping to make the quidditch team. My studies have been going well as it is and I hope to get 1st in my year. Though, it's only been a day.
Zabini is still silent. I haven't heard him speak since last year. Do you know he didn't even talk to me when we visited them in Italy during the summer, the audacity! I was supposed to tell you that but we had that quidditch player turned ministry worker over (Olaf, was it?) that day so it was forgotten.
I tried to make friends with the mudblood and she rejected my offer! Father, I tried but as you know, she's a pretentious snooty know-it-all.