Disclaimer: This will be dark, maybe kind of scary. I will attempt to have Hermione and Riddle as in character as I possibly can.
Also - everything belongs to JK Rowling not me. Though I'd love to own Tom Riddle.
Thanks for reading!
Ropes bound Hermione's hands. She struggled to loosen them, but they just tightened. Dang incarcerous spell! She shut her eyes, breathed deeply and forced herself to think logically. Even if her body was tied up, she still had her brain. She'd think her way out of this situation.
Darkness covered the room, but the more she focused the more she could see. There were other prisoners down here. She could hear their wails, their cries of terror. And the sobs, the broken, hopeless sobs were the worst. Every once and awhile, she'd hear footsteps creak down the stairs and her heart would launch into her chest. The Death Eaters were coming. Horrible, faceless monsters intent on one thing: retrieving the location of Harry Potter.
Fortunately, none of the other prisoners actually had that secret to give away. They'd all been used in a type of Underground Railroad moving Harry and Ron as they searched for Tom Riddle's remaining horcruxes. As soon as their service finished, Hermione modified their memories. She'd tried explaining that to the Death Eaters, but they didn't believe her. They just doubled their torture, on her and everyone else.
Hermione heard footsteps coming closer, slow and deliberate, like they marched to a distinct beat. This time it wasn't a nameless Death Eater. It was Tom Riddle himself. After Riddle's return, most of the wizarding world went on as if nothing had happened. They listened to the faint murmurs of war, but thought of the fighting as something removed from themselves. Then there were people like Hermione Granger: a solider already in the middle of battle.
As Riddle approached, Hermione tensed. If she weren't the only one with an idea of Harry's location, she would be dead or tortured into insanity by now. Her knowledge may have trapped her, but it also kept her alive.
She'd never seen Riddle in person, just on wanted posters. He looked younger up close. No older than her 17 years. Still, his stiff posture and stony gaze made him seem infinite, going on far before her and far after her.
"Tell me the truth, Miss Granger." Riddle lifted Hermione's chin with the tip of his wand. "Do the others have any idea where Harry Potter is?"
Hermione swallowed, the movement enough to make the ropes constrict even more. "No. I used memory charms; they didn't even know they were helping us. They don't have to remember this."
"Using people?" He sneered. "A witch after my own heart." Riddle laughed at his joke and then turned his wand toward Mr. Gunther, an older man who had loved clocks and working in his garden when Hermione had first gone to him for help.
"Avada Kedavra," Riddle shouted and a shock of green light exploded from his wand and crashed into Gunther's chest. His whole body fell limp.
"No!" Hermione shouted.
He looked back at Hermione, his face placid, as if he had stepped on a spider and not killed a person. "Don't make me do that again. I hate to spill magical blood. Such a waste."
She stared down at her scuffed boots. Hermione wouldn't give him the respect of looking him in the eye, but he grabbed her chin and forced her face toward his.
"This is your fault, Miss Granger. You dragged these innocent people into your war. I'm just doing what I have to – you understand that. I have to protect my myself, and my Death Eaters," he said that as an afterthought. "Now tell me where Harry is or I'll be forced to kill another."
Hermione willed herself not to shake. It made the ropes tighten and would give Riddle the satisfaction of knowing he scared her. She couldn't bring herself to say anything.
"You know I'm willing to do it. So what happens next is up to you?"
Hermione looked over Tom Riddle's shoulder. Behind him was a young woman with strawberry-blonde hair. Ilsa had owned an apartment in Paris. Harry had stayed with her when he passed through. Tears were rolling down her face. "Please," her voice shook.
Riddle stepped back from Hermione and gave his attention to Ilsa. "My sincerest apologies, Miss. I'd rather not, but the choice is Miss Granger's."
"Germany," Hermione said. "The last place Harry was going was Germany."
"A country?" He turned back to Hermione. "You expect me to search a whole country? You'll have to do better than that." Though his eyes remained on Hermione, he lifted his wand to Ilsa. She shuddered.
"Nuremguard," Hermione lied.
"The German wizard prison."
"I know what it is," he said harshly. "Why would Potter go there?"
"The Deathly Hallows."
"Deathly Hallows?" he said through shut teeth.
Merlin, she hoped this lie worked. "There were three brothers."
"Who traveled across a lonely road at midnight," he finished for her. "I know the story."
"Then you know what it means. Death's three gifts. If one possesses all of them, it makes one."
"Master of death." There was reverence in his voice as he spoke, but then he scoffed. "A tale for children."
"Maybe. Maybe it is just like those fairy tales you and me grew up on. Like Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood."
His jaw tensed, anger flashed in his eyes. Reminding him of his muggle heritage may not have been Hermione's best idea. But it rattled him and she could use that.
"But then again," she continued. "We both know there is always some truth even to muggle fairy tales."
Riddle looked at her like he was unsure whether he could trust her words, but could not see the fault in her logic. "How do you know the hallows are even real?"
She half-smiled. "I've seen one."
His face-hardened. "You have?"
"Death's invisibility cloak. It's been in the Potter family for generations. They're descendants of the Peverells." Those were the three brothers that the tale was based on. "And," Hermione said. "So are you."
"What are you talking about?" he snapped. "I've never seen-"
"The Slytherins are descendants of the Peverells. It stands to reason that you might have one in your possession."
"Unless, my ancestors asked for the elder wand. Then it could be anywhere."
"Possible, but since the third hallow has never been found, it stands to reason."
"That some family trinket of mine is actually the resurrection stone."
It was weird to think that even thousands of years ago that Tom Riddle's ancestors would have chosen a hallow not to gain power but love. That said, it did involve bringing people back from the dead, which seemed to be a long standing family tradition.
"Harry Potter is searching Nuremguard for the elder wand?"
She nodded and the ropes constricted again. "For its last owner."
"Grindelwald," Riddle started to pace, "Which means . . . Dumbledore."
Grief shuddered through Hermione as she thought of her old headmaster tucked away in his grave. Luckily, Harry already had the elder wand. He'd had it for a while now.
"So Harry has to come to you. The owner of the last Hallow, and when he does."
The corner of his lip rose. "He'll have the more powerful hallows and I'll have the resurrection stone and absolutely no chance. Nice try, Granger, but I think I'll go after the elder wand myself."
Hermione let out a shaky breath. "Suit yourself."
"I always do," he said with an eerie politeness to his voice. Riddle spun on his heel, his cloak thrashing with him. "Greyback. Dinner time."
Her stomach twisted. Hermione couldn't believe it. How could he? What else did she expect? "I told you everything."
"And I promised I wouldn't kill them, and I'm not."
No. No. No. She'd rather Riddle kill them. The killing curse is painless. A death by Fenrir Greyback, a murderous werewolf, was the worst thing she could imagine.
The others started to scream as Riddle walked toward a hulking shadow. He said something to who was likely Greyback and then he walked up the stairs.
Greyback stepped into the dim light. Hair grew wildly on his head, face and arms. A horrible sneer crossed his face. A tear slipped from her eye. She didn't want to die this way, or watch anyone else die this way.
He snarled and lunged at Ilsa. She let out the most painful shriek Hermione had ever heard. Hermione shut her eyes and imagined she was somewhere else. Somewhere far away without this pain and loss and fear. She pretended until she felt hot breath on her neck and couldn't pretend anymore.
How badly will this hurt? She thought, with a surprising amount of clarity. She screamed when Greyback bit down on her shoulder. Fiery licks of pain consumed her. Hermione opened her eyes to see one last time.
A shock of red light streamed into Greyback's chest and tossed him backwards. Riddle charged forward, his hand clutching at the bleeding wound on Hermione's shoulder. Her blood was drizzling over his fingers. He cursed and put even more pressure on the wound.
Why was he doing this?
"I told him – I said," Riddle seethed then breathed out. "It's just a small wound. You'll be fine."
He pulled his hand away from Hermione's shoulder and placed it on her face. She could feel the heat of her own blood on his fingers. With his other hand, he brushes some hair out of her face.
"I wish it didn't have to be like this this time." Suddenly, his mouth was on Hermione's. Her eyes widened, her body tensed. What the heck? She tried to pull away and the ropes squeezed tighter. But there was something about his lips, the way they moved – and the way he tasted like firewhisky and cinnamon. It felt like reading a good book for the fifth time. Familiar, comforting. Hermione had never been so scared in her life.
His lips left hers and he leaned his forehead against hers. "Come back to me next time."
Hermione blinked a few times, her head fuzzy, and she said some words. She wasn't quite sure why, but she had the distinct feelings this had all happened before and would happen again. "I always come back."
Riddle pointed his wand at her head and whispered, "Obliviate."