Chapter Three

He ran his hands through her hair as he pushed her back against the bed. She grabbed his tie and pulled him down on top of her. His lips crushed into hers, and he forgot what oxygen even was. A storm raged, lightning cracking beyond the castle walls. Still, compared to what was happening here, happening around and beneath him, it seemed calm outside.

"We shouldn't be doing this," she said.

"Isn't that the point?"

"Tom," she whispered and he kissed her again. "What if we get caught?'

He bit her ear softly and said, "I'll obliviate them –or kill them." His hand pushed up her skirt. He could feel her heart beating in her thigh.

"No killing."

He sighed. "If you insist."

Hermione had been brought to a small, dusty house with dark curtained windows. A single lantern sat on a coffee table, creating ghostly shadows through the room.

"Where are we?" Hermione asked.

"Home. Well, for now," Riddle said. "Would you like something to drink?"

Her mind was already pretty fuzzy.

"I think I've had enough."

"I meant tea."

Hermione shook her head. She wasn't crazy enough to drink something from Riddle. He could poison her. Not that he'd have any reason to go through all that trouble. He could kill her with his wand and two words at any moment.

"Why am I here?"

"I was trying to save your life, but I could remedy that."

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest, feeling as uncomfortable as she had in her life. She changed the subject. "You knew those people?"

"You could say that."

"Do they work for you?"

"If they worked for me, you wouldn't have to worry about them."

Hermione's mouth fell open slightly, and she wanted to ask Riddle what he meant, but she wasn't even sure she'd heard him right.

"I could use them in my ranks," he continued as if he'd said nothing out of the ordinary, "but they seem to have their own leader."

"Yeah, who?"

"Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure that out. I'm not certain most of them even know who it is. One thing I do know is whoever it is, he or she seems to inspire a great amount of fear."

"You two would probably get along then."

Riddle glanced over at Hermione, and then at his small leather sofa. "Sit down."

"I'd rather not."

"Sit."

Hermione plopped down on the sofa. "Am I your hostage now?"

Riddle sat down just a few feet from Hermione, and she tensed. "No, but you're going to help me."

"Help you? And if I don't?"

"Then you don't, but if you do, then I'll owe you a favor."

A favor? A Tom Riddle favor? What would that even look like? What could she do with it? It sounded intriguing, but worrisome.

"I'm not killing or torturing anyone."

"I wouldn't dream of asking you. All I want is for you to learn what you can about the people Hollis is working for."

"Can't you do that for yourself?"

"They know who I am."

"Fame and notoriety do have some setbacks."

He shifted a bit closer to her. "What do you say?"

"I'll get a favor?"

He nodded. "But it can't include not killing Potter. Deal?"

Her mother had told her never make a deal with the devil, but she didn't see much harm in this. She wanted to know more about who Hollis worked for and why they wanted the artifact. Passing on this information to Riddle would get her safely out of here and wouldn't put Harry in anymore danger than he already was.

"I'm going to regret this, but deal."

He put his hand on her knee. "I'll take you back to your jeep now. Unless you want to stay." His lip curled into a dangerous smile.

Hermione stood up, and his hand slipped off her leg. "Go."

"If you must."

"My wand," Hermione remembered she had lost it.

Riddle reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out Hermione's wand.

"You just took that out and left my jacket?"

He glared at her.

"Thanks," she said and quickly took her wand from him. "I can go myself."

"I know where your camp is. I'll drop by."

"That's creepy," she said and then disapparated.

When she reappeared by the jeep, she breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn't really thought Riddle would just let her go, but he did. After that, she found Hollis and drove them home, feeling perfectly sober and just as suspicious. Hermione went to bed, and made sure her tent stayed locked.

"We could get married," Riddle said, glancing over at her bare back and the dark curls spilling over her shoulder.

She turned over. "Why would you want to get married?"

"Every king needs his queen."

"I don't know." She bit her lip.

"Let me give you the world. I can, you know."

She sighed. "That's what scares me."

The next morning Hermione woke up and ate a breakfast of toast and fruit. While sipping tea, she read the article about the muggle expedition. The article was dated June of 1956.

Oliver Fell, 41, recently led a team of archaeologists into the Temple of Bone, a mostly unexplored Incan ruin near Cuzco, Peru. Fell and his crew returned with pottery, gold and other artifacts that were distributed to museums around the world.

The Fell crew has spoken little of their expedition into the Temple of Bone, and all but one (Terrence Lowell, 32) declined to comment for this article. When asked if he returned to the ruin, he replied:

"I'd rather swallow a handful of scorpions."

Hermione put down the article. She'd read the rest later. Whatever happened n the Temple of Bone probably wasn't that bad and easily explained by magic. Unfortunately, these muggle wouldn't even know what had hit them.

She dressed, filled her pack and met Wendy and Hollis outside. Hermione had trouble looking Hollis in the eye, but if she wanted the information from him, she had to act like nothing was amiss.

They loaded the jeep and drove to the Temple of Bone. The jungle was thicker and wilder here than any she'd seen yet. There were flowers so large and with such rich color, they looked prehistoric. When they arrived, Hermione parked the jeep and then strapped on her pack. Thankfully, the extendable charm made the pack light and easy to carry.

She knew immediately why it was called the Temple of Bone. The structure was a creamy white rather than grey, and the entrance looked like the gaping mouth of a massive skull. Hermione couldn't help but feel thankful her team was only scouting the outside and surrounding areas today.

"I'm regretting last night," Hollis whispered. "Hiking with a hangover – not clever."

Hermione had a potion in her bag to help with his hangover, but she figured he deserved to suffer a bit for the lies he was telling and secrets he was keeping.

"You should have listened to me," Wendy said dramatically. Wendy reminded Hermione of herself, if she hadn't matured since first year. "I feel perfectly splendid."

That morning, they hiked the surrounding areas and recorded the size and shape of the Temple of Bone. Hermione kept trying to weasel in a conversation that might lead to a confession from Hollis, but he was tight lipped. Finding answers might require more desperate measures, like stealing and snooping.

When they hiked back to jeep, Hermione tried to start the vehicle, but it just sputtered and died.

"We can apparate back," Wendy suggested.

Hermione was inclined to agree, but the jeep had been operating fine that morning and last night. She had a troubling feeling something was amiss.

She tried to disapparate and found that she could not, just like at Hogwarts.

"Anyone else having problems . . . getting it up?" Hollis asked.

Both Wendy and Hermione glared at Hollis. But he was right. They were stuck.

"We have to walk it," Hermione said.

"We're twenty miles from camp!" Hollis shouted.

"We just have to walk until we can disapparate again," Hermione said, afraid but hiding it. "Let's move before it gets dark."

"Yes," she said. "I'll marry you."

He kissed her, and kissed her again. And again.

"With you, nothing can stop me," he said between kisses. "Nothing."

Thanks for reading. When I do italics, they are flashbacks from Riddle's POV, but they're meant to be kind of mysterious and just give snapshots. I love to hear from you, so review if you get a chance.