Chapter 11: More Questions
Hermione found it strange that someone so cold, literally and figuratively, could flood her body with warmth, but that was exactly what Tom Riddle’s lips upon hers was doing to her.
Hermione Granger was not a damsel in distress type of girl. She was a very capable young woman who did not have the patience to sit away in a tower while waiting to be rescued by some knight in shinning armor.
She could very well rescue herself, thank you.
But as she had waited impatiently for Tom to return from wherever it was he had gone, Hermione had felt completely useless. She was not one to sit idly by, twiddling her thumbs while others rushed off to fight the good fight. But each time she had moved to the door, Thomas’s urgent voice would echo in her mind. “Do you trust me, Hermione? Stay in the room tonight, Hermione. Whatever you do, do not leave the room.”
She had nearly torn out her hair in frustration as she paced their room. What could he possibly be doing that required her to remain hidden away?
Hermione had taken turns between crying, throwing pillows, and growling in anger at poor Lu who was currently coiled up around one of the candles. After forty minutes of reckless pacing, Hermione was able to calm down and think about her predicament logically. It was then that she was able to realize just why Tom would want her to hide away in their room.
He was meeting with his Death Eaters.
The thought was not as disconcerting as it should have been. Some part of her had always known they would meet eventually. Tom had already fashioned himself a new name and destiny, and she hardly expected him to suddenly become some sort of angel now that she was there.
A hysterical giggle had broken through at the thought of Tom with white wings and a glowing halo. No, he most certainly was not an angel.
But then why the sudden meeting? What was it about Grindelwald coming for her that spurred Tom into action?
“You foolish girl…you are not alone,” he had softly said to her.
And yet she had sat perched on the foot of the bed they shared, completely and utterly alone.
There was no use trying to figure out Tom’s motive for meeting with the Death Eaters; she’d simply have to resolve herself into confronting him about it when he got back.
With that decided, Hermione had risen from the bed to change into her night clothes. It had been a long day and she could at least attempt to relax and sleep.
She hadn’t heard the door open.
She hadn’t heard Tom crossing the room to stand behind her.
She hadn’t been prepared for his flirting, teasing questions.
And, she hadn’t been prepared for the feel of his lips pressed against hers.
His lips were smooth and cold against her warmth, insistent without forcing. Tom kissed her with an understated demand that she respond to him. Her arms went unbidden around his neck in response to his silent command, and Hermione found herself kissing Tom Marvolo Riddle for the first time.
Her skin should have been crawling in disgust and her body should have turned hot in anger. And while her skin did crawl and her body did heat up, Hermione did not feel disgust or anger.
Because a part of her had always known that there was something more to her and Tom Riddle. They had been strange allies while at the orphanage, partners and almost friends when they came to school. But there had always been something deeper to their silent companionship. It had only been a matter of time.
So when Tom’s icy fingers lightly grazed up her sides from under her shirt, Hermione did not shiver in repulsion. When she felt her heart racing and her blood pounding in her ears, it was not from fear. This was what they had been meant for, a little voice insisted in her mind, they weren’t meant to be allies or colleagues, and not just friends.
But something more.
Hermione had kissed a total of three boys in her life, not counting the sisterly pecks she had exchanged with Harry. She had kissed Viktor Krum after their date at the Yule Ball, Dean Thomas under mistletoe just last year, and she had kissed Ron when they still thought they could be more than just friends. And while each experience had not been unpleasant, although it had been rather awkward with Ron, Hermione had never felt such a strong desire to be with any one person before.
And the fact that he was losing himself in her as she was in him made the experience all the more exhilarating. It wasn’t love, but it wasn’t just lust. It was want, a need. She wanted to drown herself in him. She needed his arms to encircle her waist and hold her near him.
His very scent was intoxicating and his presence was like a drug. If Hermione didn’t know any better, she would have thought she was under some sort of spell, which, she would reflect later, was somewhat true.
Seconds ticked by as they remained locked in their embrace. Need, want, and lust swirled around her befuddled head until another emotion began to peak through the haze of desire.
It wasn’t just Tom Riddle who she was kissing, but Lord Voldemort recently returned from a meeting with his Death Eaters.
This was Lord Voldemort who had murdered her best friend’s parents and countless others. The same Lord Voldemort who in fifty-four years time would order Severus Snape to watch her, to protect her.
Hermione wrenched herself away from his embrace as though his cold lips had burned her. Seconds passed in which they merely stared at each other, their chests hitching and their hearts pounding.
She had never seen Tom look so disarrayed. Even when he was in his nightclothes and climbing into bed, every strand of hair was in its proper place and his shirt and pants were neatly pressed. Staring at him now, though, she almost didn’t recognize him. His hair stood up on end from where she had run her fingers through it, looking much like Harry’s sloppy mop of hair. His normally pale cheeks were flushed lightly and his lips were fuller, redder from her kisses. His school robe was wrinkled from where she had clutched to him, and his eyes were swirling with emotions.
Taking in a shaky breath, Hermione broke their silence.
“Why did you do that?” she asked softly, trying to ignore how her voice quivered.
Tom cocked his head to the side, fixing her with a look that clearly stated he thought she was being quite daft. “Because I wanted to,” he murmured silkily.
Confusion puckered her brow. “But, you can’t have,” she stuttered.
He smirked at her, his hand stretching out to graze her hair. His smirk widened into what might have been a fond smile when she flinched at his touch. “But I did.”
Hermione bit her lip. This wasn’t supposed to happen, not at all. “What are you playing at?”
He approached her so casually that she didn’t even realize he had moved until she was forced to tilt her head back to meet his gaze. “You think this is a game?” he asked mildly, his right hand idly twirling a lock of her hair.
Hermione fought to remain calm. She wouldn’t pull away and show weakness; not in front of him. “Isn’t it?” she countered.
Tom shook his head in the manner of a disapproving father. “Hermione, I think you and I both know that this is no game.”
He was too close. She could feel his robe brushing against her pajamas and his breath tickling her hair. When he spoke, she could almost feel the rumble in his chest against hers.
The room seemed stifling suddenly. Her cheeks were heating up in a telling blush, and the air around them was thick with the undercurrents of many conflicting emotions that seemed to radiate off of both of them. Fear, lust, want, need, desire, a promise of what was to come, of what they could be together…
And then there was guilt.
Focusing on her guilt, Hermione stepped back from him. She needed to get away, to think. He was too close to her right now and her mind scattered every time his thin, pale hand touched her.
“I have to go,” she said abruptly, twirling around and grabbing her black robe and throwing it on over her pajamas.
She practically ran to the door, stopping to look back at him for some unknown reason. He stood by the window, his hair tousled, his lips swollen, and his eyes gleaming. She watched in fascination as he stretched out his arm to the table and Lu, her little garden snake, slithered away from his candle to wrap around his wrist.
“I have to go,” she said again, trying to fill the empty void between them.
Tom smirked. “Then go,” he replied casually.
She turned and left without looking back.
Hermione let her feet lead her while her mind argued and screamed at her. What had she been thinking? Kissing Thomas- kissing a young Lord Voldemort?
He kissed me, she wailed plaintively in her own defense.
Doesn’t matter, a voice that sounded eerily like Ron stated, you still kissed him back.
“I didn’t mean to,” she said aloud to herself as she walked the halls.
But you did, Harry whispered to her.
Oh, gods, she did.
And you want to do it again, Lucius pointed out.
Oh yes, she did want to kiss him again.
You’re starting to feel for him, Severus sneered in disgust.
Hermione walked faster, trying to ignore the feelings of guilt and fear. But no matter how fast she walked, there was no escaping the truth.
He initiated their kiss, but she did kiss him back even though she didn’t mean to. She did want to feel his smooth lips on hers again.
She was starting to feel for him.
But how could I not feel for him, she argued with herself. He’s the only person here in this time that feels for me; the only person that talks to me. He hurts others, but he protects me.
Now you’ve done it girl; you’ve got yourself a nice hole to lie in, she told herself.
Hermione had never once regretted the fact that she was a witch. Not when she, Harry and Ron were preparing for a war, and not even when she had landed herself in the Hospital Wing after being hit with some dark curse or another. But as she roamed the halls of Hogwarts of 1944, Hermione began to resent that little brown barn owl that had delivered her acceptance letter.
What a pickle. What was she going to do? She couldn’t be involved with Tom Riddle, not in that way. But then again, she was already involved with him. Whether she liked it or not, Hermione’s fate was somehow entwined with Tom’s.
Now, if she could just figure out how.
Abruptly, a door popped into existence to her left and Hermione had a sudden flash of déjà vu. The door to the Room of Requirement stood forlornly in front of her, silently beckoning for her to enter.
But look at what had happened to her the last time she entered the room. How could she possibly entertain the idea of entering that godforsaken room again?
But then again, maybe the room would take her home this time. There wasn’t much that could make her situation worse.
Gryffindor curiosity mingled with Slytherin self-preservation. But Hermione was truly a Gryffindor at heart, and in the end, curiosity won.
Licking her lips, Hermione swung open the door. There was a long moment where she stood in the threshold, not moving. Plucking up the courage, Hermione walked briskly into the room.
And nothing happened.
She sighed. How very anti-climatic.
A sharp moan sounded in the far corner, causing Hermione to jump. There was a scuffling sound, like someone trying to rise and failing to, followed by another painful moan.
Someone was already in the room.
“Hello?” she called out softly.
There was a groan in response and Hermione walked cautiously into the room, using her wand to light the candles. She saw a flash of blonde hair and black robes before the person once again collapsed in a pitiful heap.
She walked quietly over to the slumped form, her breath catching when she recognized it.
“Malfoy?” she asked in surprise.
He groaned, his steel eyes flickering open and taking a few seconds longer than normal to focus on her. “Mudblood?” he mumbled.
Despite the situation, Hermione managed to roll her eyes in annoyance. “Yes, it’s the mudblood here to your rescue,” she said sarcastically. He grunted painfully and she noticed that he was clutching his stomach and sweat was streaking down his brow. “Jesus, Malfoy, what in the world happened to you?”
His body was shaking uncontrollably and Hermione finally recognized the after effects of the Cruciatus Curse. “Like you don’t know,” he spat.
“Malfoy, what happened?” she asked again.
He managed to smirk at her. “You really don’t know, do you?” he managed to bark out in between coughs. “You don’t know what Tom does during the night.”
That brought Hermione up short and she quickly grasped what had happened. Tom had held a meeting earlier, after all, and it was obvious now that Malfoy had been punished.
A large part of her recoiled at the thought of anyone being subjected to the Cruciatus Curse, but there was also a small part of her that glorified at Malfoy’s fall. It was like the Room of Requirement and Tom had given her this gift to be able to see the great Abraxas Malfoy fallen from his pedestal.
The moment seemed to freeze with Malfoy looking up at her for once, sweat dripping into his eyes. She realized that she held a great deal of power of him at the moment. She could make or break him with a single word or action.
And while a part of her sang at the sight of him hurt and nearly broken, there was no way Hermione could do what she knew Malfoy would not hesitate to if their positions were reversed. Sighing, Hermione pointed her wand at him and muttered one of the first charms she had learned as a witch.
Malfoy’s huddled form levitated in the air and using her wand, Hermione directed him out of the room.
“What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?” he nearly screeched.
Hermione snorted. “I’m taking you to the Hospital Wing.”
She continued her march down the hall, careful not to knock him into the walls or the suits of armor. “Because you’re hurt,” she spoke like she was trying to explain something to a small child.
“Why are you helping me?” he growled at her through gritted teeth.
Hermione pushed open the door to the Infirmary and levitated Malfoy onto the nearest bed. He winced as she placed him down and met her eyes in a long stare.
“Because,” she smirked in a Slytherin like way, “I’m not you.”
“This changes nothing,” he hissed, angered by her words.
Hermione smiled. “No, of course it doesn’t,” she said knowingly.
She left him for the nurse to find and headed back to her room feeling very tired. Hermione prodded Helga awake, apologizing at the late hour. The red-headed founder smiled down at her and swung open, telling her to have a good night’s sleep.
She entered her room quietly, but sighed loudly when she realized Tom wasn’t in. She did, however, hear water running from the bathroom where he was presumably getting ready for bed. Quickly, she threw off her robe and crawled into bed making sure that she was on the very edge without being in danger of falling over.
When she heard Tom re-enter, she laid perfectly still. She heard him chuckle softly at her, but he seemed to take pity on her by crawling into bed without comment. She heard him mutter a soft ‘nox’ and the room was enveloped in darkness.
Hermione would never know in the years to come who made the first move, whether or not she turned around first or if Thomas stretched out his arm out before she moved. All she did know was that it was the first time that Hermione consciously put herself in Thomas’s arms, the first time she felt him place an almost loving kiss on the top of her head.
When Hermione woke up in the morning to find herself in the familiar position of her limbs entwined with Tom’s, she had a feeling she’d never make it home.
Albus told her that in order to make it home she’d have to find the answers she sought, but there were no answers to be found in Thomas’s arms.
Only more questions.