Chapter 24: Dreaming of Memories
His eyes were flickering furiously behind closed lids, the only visible sign that he was dreaming.
“Are you sure about this?”
Tom felt the right side of his mouth lift. It was the fifth time she had asked him that question in the past ten minutes.
“Yes,” he murmured dutifully.
Hermione bit her lip. “But what if you decide that you hate me five years from now?”
He almost laughed. “That’s impossible.”
She gave a vehement shake of her head. “No it isn’t, Thomas,” she insisted, her voice slightly higher than normal. “That sort of thing happens all the time. We’re young, maybe we’re rushing into things!”
He took a moment to let her rant, best that she get it out of her system, and observe her in silence. Her hair was loose around her shoulders, her wild curls framing her face. Minerva had given her a stunning white lily which was tightly secured behind her right ear. She wore an airy white sundress that was rather plain for such a significant occasion, but still flattered her natural beauty.
She had never looked more beautiful to him.
“-And what if you don’t like my cooking!” her pathetic wail broke through his thoughts. Her eyes were wide and her hair was starting to frizz in her frustration, and this time, Tom could not stop the chuckle from escaping his lips.
At the sound of his rarely heard laugh, Hermione stopped her pacing. In two quick strides Tom crossed the hall and placed both of his hands on either of her shoulders. He looked deep into her wide eyes, a small smirk beginning to tug at his lips.
“Then we will dine out,” he stated simply.
“But what if-?”
Enough was enough really. Tom cut off her next protest by pressing his lips to hers. He kissed her deeply, intent on showing her just how well they suited each other. His hands slid from her shoulders and fell to her waist, pulling her body flush with his.
He broke off the kiss after what felt like hours, looking down into her face. She stayed in his arms silently, her head tilted back and her eyes still closed, a small smile playing on her mouth. It made him what to kiss her again.
There was a slight cough from behind and Tom turned to see Minerva, their chosen witness, smiling at them broadly.
“That part doesn’t come until later,” she pointed out.
Cheeky Gryffindor, Tom thought.
Hermione stepped out of his arms, but her eyes had lost the frantic glint to them and she did not resume her pacing. “Right,” she was all business now, “let’s do this.”
Minerva smiled brightly at them, and even Tom couldn’t resist a small smile when Hermione turned to him with a grin, slipping her hand into his.
Tom was confident. She belonged with him.
Colors swirled and time changed. The scene melted to form a memory from two months later.
He stood in the entryway, content to remain silent as he watched her.
She was humming, he realized. Humming as she scuttled about their kitchen. Her hair was pulled up into a loose bun, but her wild strands refused to be subdued and she constantly had to pause to push the curls away with her forearm, leaving behind a white streak of flour behind.
He didn’t understand why she was cooking the muggle way. With just a flick of her wrist she could prepare a meal fit for a king, and it always confused him as to why she insisted on doing it herself. She always told him she didn’t want to be lazy. She claimed that baking and cooking wasn’t all that different from potions.
Personally, he thought it was just because she was bored. She worked part time for the local apothecary, but it was unusual for a woman to have a job at all. She had been her annoying persistent self, though. She wanted more to do than to stay at home alone all day long.
She had applied at many stores, but none had even bothered responding. She had become more depressed each day that went by with nothing to do but cook and clean. Hermione was meant for more than that, Tom knew. She was not suited to a life at home. And he didn’t like seeing her so depressed.
She had always been rather fond of potions, and she really was quite brilliant with them. He remembered her saying that back in France she had been great friends with a Potions Master who had taught her the beauty of a softly simmering cauldron. Yes, she would do finely at a potions apothecary.
He had visited the nearest apothecary himself to speak with the owner. In no uncertain terms, he had made it clear that his wife would be working there. She would have whatever days she wished off and work as many hours as she desired.
The owner had been dubious at first. Why should he employ a woman at his store? Who was Tom to tell him what to do?
Tom smirked. It had only been too easy to manipulate the owner. He soon saw it Tom’s way. They always saw it his way in the end.
“La-de-da-dum,” she has humming louder now as she used a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients together.
She had a beautiful voice, soft and gentle. He found her humming to be oddly comforting. She always seemed to be humming lately. Humming as she cooked, humming as she read, and humming as she got ready for work or bed.
There was a sudden clank as she tossed the bowl down with a huff. “Stupid hair,” she muttered as she wiped her hands off on her white apron and reached up to pull back another unruly lock. “I swear, one day I’m going to cut it all off.”
Tom silently glided behind her, his hands reaching out to clip the stray lock with the rest of them. “Don’t do that. I love you hair.”
She jumped slightly and gave a strangled ‘epp.’
“How long have you been here?” she spun around, hands on her hips as she glared at him.
“Long enough,” he said casually.
Her eyes narrowed further, not liking his evasive answer, but she chose to ignore it for now and addressed the issue with her hair. “It keeps getting in the way, Thomas. It’s too much of a hassle.”
Tom shook his head. “It’s perfect,” he stated. “Leave it as is.”
She frowned. “Really?”
He nodded, his fingers reaching up to tangle in the mass of curls. “Really.”
She remained dubious. “Well, if you say so…”
A smile replaced her frown. “I won’t cut it then, as long as you stop spying on me while I’m cooking.”
“I’d hardly call it spying,” he demurred obediently.
She smirked in a way that let him know she was aware he was allowing her to win. “Scoot, Thomas.”
He sighed, but retreated as promised. She turned back to her mixing bowl, humming once again. He could even hear her from the common area. Instead of being annoyed, he almost smiled. He’d allow her to cook like a muggle as long as she continued to hum.
Another blur of colors flashed and the scene changed once more.
He was not a romantic man, but even he knew that a first year wedding anniversary required a little effort. He’d arranged to leave work early, which was not incredibly difficult since he more or less set his own hours. He’d made dinner reservations for them at a fancy new restaurant, very posh and high class.
The night had gone perfectly. She loved the restaurant, loved the music and the flowers. They had even taken a turn on the dance floor. He was surprised at how much she loved dancing, and he certainly found nothing to complain about holding her in his arms.
The end of the night had been even better than the beginning. He brought her home and helped her remove all the various pins in her hair she used to keep it in place. True to her word, she had not cut it, but his sneaky little Slytherin managed to weasel him in to brushing it out for her almost every night.
‘You are the one who wants it long, so it’s only fair that you be the one to maintain it,’ she had airily claimed as she handed him a brush.
He didn’t mind it, though. He liked the feel of her hair running through his fingers. For such bushy hair, it was incredibly soft.
She sighed as his finger meticulously ran through her hair, setting the curls free. The sigh turned into a purr, causing him to lift a brow at her which she saw reflected in her vanity mirror.
“Shut it, you,” she murmured, her eyes falling shut.
As in every night before, his hands slowly made their way from her hair down to her shoulders, then down her arms and back.
“I love you,” she nearly moaned.
His hands froze for a fraction of a second before resuming their path. She had admitted her love to him before, but it never ceased to amaze him. He never got tired of hearing her say it and doubted he ever would.
“Come to bed,” he murmured in response.
He may never be able to say it to her, but he had his ways to show her how much he appreciated her love. And he never got tired of showing her.
Her form melted again. It was the last of happy memories for that night’s dreams.
His first stop was Minerva’s.
He woke her up with his incessant knocking, banging on the door of her flat in Hogsmeade. She came to answer it in a red and gold robe and a tartan hat, sleep clouding her eyes as she frowned at him.
“Tom? What are you doing here? What time is it?” her eyes began to clear once he lit his wand to see past her. He had to make sure she was alone before telling her.
“I need you to do me a favor,” his voice was dark and commanding. He hadn’t sounded this unfeeling since before Hermione.
Her eyes widened as she noted her friend’s absence. “Where’s Hermione?” she asked worriedly.
Tom turned to her and she shuddered at the darkness she saw in his eyes. Whatever his reason for being there, she knew it was bad.
“She’s gone now, Minerva,” he muttered, his voice devoid of all emotion.
Minerva gasped. “She’s- dead?”
A flicker of emotion crossed his features but quickly disappeared. “Not dead. She’s waiting for me. I need you to store her belongings. I need you to save them for when she’s ready.”
“What are you saying, Tom? You’re not making any sense…” she trailed off, he was really starting to confuse her.
He stared at her for a long moment. “When the time comes you will understand. She counted you as her friend, and for that you will be left untouched,” she felt a tremble of fear and relief sweep through her even though she didn’t fully comprehend what he was referring to. “But don’t get in my way. Keep her things.”
And he turned away from her leaving behind a trunk which was presumably filled with the possessions that had once belonged to her friend. She never saw Tom Riddle again, nor did she ever find out about Hermione Riddle until Albus Dumbledore took her under his wing.
And then she understood her predicament a little too well.
The memories were coming quicker now, one firing rapidly after the other.
“The time has come.”
There was a murmur of general agreement amongst the inner circle. Twenty years their lord had spent gallivanting across the world as he researched the dark arts. Twenty years they had been left in the dark to his actions. Twenty years they had eagerly waited for his return so that they may finally take their rightful place in the Wizarding World.
Twenty years had passed since Hermione Riddle had disappeared and Lord Voldemort reemerged.
Yes, Lord Voldemort smiled; the time had come to eliminate his inner circle and kill the memory of the boy he had once been.
One by one he turned his wand on the members of his inner circle, laughing in glee at the fear and horror he instilled. One by one they fell prey to his wand. He had learned so much in his years traveling the Earth. He had no need for them anymore.
“If she was still here this wouldn’t be happening.”
Lord Voldemort froze and he turned in sinister calmness to Abraxas Malfoy.
“What did you say?” he hissed, his eyes flashing red.
Abraxas lifted his chin. “You heard me.”
“What do you care? You hated her,” his voice, much to his annoyance, was filled with barely concealed sorrow and his eyes reverted back to green.
Malfoy had the nerve to smirk. “I’d say I care a great deal seeing as how you are about to kill me because of her.”
He gave him no warning. Malfoy looked so surprised to see the green death rushing towards him. In his wake he left behind a widow to raise their newborn child alone, but Voldemort couldn’t care less.
He made quick order of the rest and when he was finished, he called in a lower member.
“Get rid of this mess and tell the others. Do not test my wrath,” he hissed at the fumbling Death Eater.
Lord Voldemort left in a swirl of black robes. He had an interview at Hogwarts to make.
The years passed by faster and faster, but she was always there behind every step he took and shadowing every decision he made.
A young boy with long hair looked up at him from where he was kneeling obediently.
“Such a…unique…name,” he trailed off.
‘Severus would be proud,’ a voice whispered distantly in his mind. So long ago it was when he had heard the stray thought coming from her mind before she shielded him.
Lord Voldemort smirked. Soon…he would see her soon now.
“Rise Severus, and take your honored position in my third circle.”
The others gasped. It was not like him to give such a high position to a new recruit.
Another flash. Another memory.
“One of two children you say?”
“Yes, my lord,” Severus confirmed. “Longbottom’s boy or Potter’s brat.”
“Potter, you said?”
Severus nodded. “Yes, little Harry Potter,” he spat.
‘Harry…’ a voice with such longing it had made his heart twist with jealousy.
‘And you’ll never guess what Harold Potter said next…’
Lord Voldemort smiled slowly, truly a terrifying sight. “Send Bellatrix to take care of the Longbottoms. I’ll see to the Potters.”
His eyes were twitching fast now from behind his lids, almost as if what he was dreaming was really a nightmare.
A short girl with an unruly head of curls bounced forward. His wife…so young and innocent. Minerva smiled slightly once the hat covered Hermione’s eyes and looked down at her as if she wanted to cry.
The memories became shorter as they swam past his inner eye.
Ginny stood over her frozen form, but it was not her looking down at Hermione’s petrified figure.
Her little hand reached out to connect with Hermione’s and a voice that was hers, but not hers, said, “It wasn’t supposed to happen to you. You will be safe, from now on, I will keep you safe.”
His head twisted to the side, the first movement that belied his unpleasant dreams.
It was a day of reckoning.
“Those who cursed McGonagall, step forward.”
Obediently, if somewhat slowly, the guilty parties step forward.
“Crucio,” he hissed. He held them suspended in torture for five minutes before breaking off the curse. “No one is to harm her on my order. Is that clear?”
A murmur of ‘yes my lords’ greeted him.
“Good,” he spat, red eyes darkening and if possible he looked even more enraged than ever before. “Antonin Dolohov, step forward.”
The hooded Death Eater stepped forward proudly, confident his lord was about to reward him for his faithful service. He, after all, had cursed Potter’s little mudblood.
“You cursed the girl,” Voldemort stated, easily reading his open mind.
“Yes, my lord. Probably would have killed the mudblood, too, if I hadn’t been under her silencio. Clever little witch, but I’m sure she is in quite a bit of pain.”
A loud roaring filled the room as their lord barely kept his anger in check. It was the last any of them ever saw of Dolohov again.
And as he started to rise into the world of consciousness again, he heard her voice filled with tears echoing in his head.
“Whatever happens, Thomas…I love you. Knowing you as I do now, and knowing what you become, I love you. I think I was always meant to.”
He sat up, the window to his left shattering as he failed to control his magic. He took in deep gulps of air as he forced his breathing to even out and steady. The dreams never shook him as much as they had that night, which could only mean one thing.
“Is everything w-w-well, m-my lord?”
His slited, red tinted eyes narrowed. “Yes Wormtail. Everything is going according to plan.”
Yes, he thought, it was almost time now.