Chapter 6: Sleeping with the Enemy
“-We’ll hex her as she sleeps.”
“It will look like an accident; they won’t know we killed her-”
Snippets of conversation burned in his mind, but Tom felt as though he was hearing everything from far away. On the outside he remained calm and collected, but inside his mind was screaming.
Slytherin? His mudblood? How could that be possible?
There was no way she would survive the first night. They’d hex her to death as she slept in ignorance.
He had to do something.
“The first one of you to harm her will find yourself facing me. The girl is mine,” he hissed coldly.
Those around him flinched at the ice in his voice.
“But Tom,” the boy to his left began pleadingly.
“I will not repeat my orders, Malfoy. I claim her,” he ground out menacingly, lacing his words with dark power.
His fellow Slytherins froze at his tone. He was not speaking to them as an equal, or even as their Head Boy. Those around him were smart enough to recognize the order coming from their leader, Lord Voldemort.
“As you say, my lord,” the boy deferred.
“You will tell the others my order,” Tom commanded.
Abraxas Malfoy clenched his teeth in irritation. “Yes, my lord,” he obediently replied.
Tom smirked. Malfoy always did have a problem taking orders. Hermione was nearly at the table when her eyes found his once again, a silent question lurking in them. He inclined his head in answer and she immediately veered to his end of the table, coming to a stop behind him.
“Abraxas move,” Tom snapped.
Abraxas looked scandalized. “You expect me to give my seat to this-”
Tom turned to fix him with a steely glare. “Now,” he ordered, cutting him off.
He moved a few seats down to the left, grumbling under his breath, and Hermione replaced him.
“Hermione,” Tom greeted, glaring at those surrounding him in warning.
Hermione gulped at the sound of someone cracking their knuckles menacingly. She was stubborn, though, and lifted her head confidently. “Thomas,” she turned to him airily.
Tom felt his lips quirk at such a Gryffindor response and he faintly wondered why the hat hadn’t placed her among the lions. Still, he admired her nerve. She may be outnumbered, but she wasn’t going down without a fight.
She wasn’t going anywhere if he had any say about it.
Completely unconcerned about the calculating looks his classmates were shooting him with, Tom turned to his plate and began to eat his dinner. Perhaps the thing he missed most when he was sent away to that Godforsaken orphanage was Hogwarts’s food. If he had to suffer that vitamin powder one more day he may have Avada-d the cook.
Hermione, who was also thoroughly enjoying the taste of real food, casually stretched out her left arm to grab a roll when someone grabbed her forcefully by the wrist. But, just as quickly as the culprit clutched her, he released her at the sound of an angry hiss.
“What the hell was that?” asked the sixth year boy across the table who had seized her.
Tom looked up from his meal, curiosity and anger melting in his eyes. When he saw Hermione smile, though, he pushed his anger aside to focus on her answer.
Hermione fought the urge to snicker as she rolled up her sleeve and revealed the garden snake wrapped cozily around her wrist. “That, you twit, was the sound of an unhappy snake,” she said loftily.
“You actually brought him with you?” Tom asked incredulously.
“Well, I couldn’t just leave him. He’d show up every afternoon looking for me; and besides, I need a familiar.”
“You brought a snake as a familiar?” someone across the table and to the right inquired in a strange mixture of disbelief and respect.
Hermione shuffled slightly in her seat. “Yes, well, I like snakes.”
Her explanation was pitiful and she knew it, but she couldn’t very well say that the thought of abandoning her friend had nearly torn her heart to pieces. She couldn’t explain that this little snake had brought her a measure of comfort simply by its reassuring weight wrapped around her wrist. And she couldn’t tell them that this little snake reminded her of her life before Hogwarts, reminded her of the garden snake her parents had brought home on her seventh birthday.
And she couldn’t bring herself to part with the one link, however small and insignificant, she had to connect her with her parents.
Belatedly, Hermione shook away her thoughts. She turned to the boy who had attempted to touch her and snapped, “This is Lu, touch him or me again and I’ll hex you so that the next time you wake up it’ll be 1997 and then, I’ll start over again.”
As far as threats go, it was creative, but not terribly effective. Her comment only caused sneers and grumpy murmurings from those around her; they were done being curious about her and were back to hating her.
No curses were thrown, though, and for that Tom was grateful. He didn’t doubt that all of Slytherin would heed his orders, but Tom couldn’t be with Hermione all of the time. There would be moments when she’d be alone, unguarded, and if any of the snakes caught her at such a time, he knew his command would easily be forgotten.
And there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
In his own aspirations for power, Tom would, quite regrettably, need help. He knew that much of his success would not only depend upon himself, but his followers. In his preparations, he had studied his predecessors and doing so had allowed him to create a foolproof plan.
First, he would gather an inner circle of followers and they would be the legs he would stand on. He would gain their trust and respect, and they would love him. In return for their devotion, Lord Voldemort would give them a purpose. The Dark Lord would unite his inner circle and give his followers a cause, but more importantly, he would give them a scapegoat. They were not to blame for the things wrong in the Wizarding World, not the purebloods.
But the Muggles and the filthy mudbloods invading their schools and government were. Tom did not necessarily believe his own propaganda- he himself was half muggle, after all, and he was the most powerful wizard that Hogwarts had ever seen, but he did not care about the validity of his campaign. He hated all muggles enough to warrant their extermination. He found their lack of magic to be suffocating and when he was raised to power he refused to suffer their presence. He would kill them for turning their back on him. No one turns away from Lord Voldemort.
So he’d preach to his inner circle and would earn their trust. It would be they who spoke of Lord Voldemort’s cause and greatness to others and they will be the ones to gather more supporters to him like lost sheep flocking to their Shepard. And Lord Voldemort, being a kind and merciful leader, would welcome the newcomers with open arms. And as he rose to power, when Tom Riddle became a whisper of a name, a mere ghost that only those in his inner circle remembered him to be, he would kill the legs he had once depended on, kill the memory of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
And from the remains of the inner circle he would rise as Lord Voldemort, a ruler those feared and trembled before, and yet looked on in awe. It was a perfect plan, one that he had already set into motion. Completely foolproof.
That is, it had been foolproof until he had met Hermione Granger. Now Thomas had an unforeseen knot in his carefully contrived plan. How could he manage to keep his snake charming mudblood while the beginnings of his inner circle wanted to hex her into oblivion? How could he appease his followers while still keeping her safe?
Perhaps he could tell them he was playing with her. If he claimed that he was training her to be his pet mudblood they might find the concept amusing, but would it be enough to help them resist cursing her?
In his mind, Tom sighed. There was nothing to do for it. She was going to fight him tooth and nail for what he had to do, but there was no alternative.
Suddenly, Tom was no longer hungry.
“Hermione, it’s time to leave,” he said, turning to her.
She looked away from the bite of mashed potatoes she was about to shove into her mouth and stared at him curiously. Tom knew exactly what she was trying to decipher. Was he asking or ordering her, and if it was the latter, should she comply?
He felt the eyes of his classmates on him, watching the scene in fascination. He knew exactly what they were waiting for. They were waiting, hoping, that she would disagree and that Tom would punish her.
Hermione was very smart, and thanks to the two snakes she had left behind in the future, she knew precisely what was happening. She had learned very quickly when spending her afternoons with Severus and Lucius during the summer that Slytherins were all about undertones.
But should she obey him? She knew that if she followed his order tonight then she would always be expected to. But she also knew that by disobeying him she was rejecting what small form of protection he could offer her. It wasn’t in her nature to follow anyone around as if she were a lost puppy, but perhaps, in order to survive living in the snakes’ den, she would have to do so.
In the end, Hermione figured that thinking in the long run was mostly a moot point since the short run demanded she listen to him in order to make it out of the hall unscathed; best not to test him in public and force his hand.
Tom successfully suppressed the urge to sigh in relief when Hermione slowly nodded and placed her fork down. They rose from their seats in unison, the loud screech of the wooden bench they shared scraping on the stone floor echoing around them. Tom almost winced as every head turned to stare at them.
Not knowing if it was against the rules for the Head Boy to leave the opening feast early, and indeed, not even caring if it was, Tom took long confident strides to the exit, Hermione gliding beside him. He noticed in approval that she had lengthened her strides to match his and that she held her head high as though she was looking down the length of her nose at everyone. She did so unconsciously and more out of confidence than arrogance, but Tom did not care. If she was going to survive in Slytherin, she would have to act like one.
As soon as the Great Hall’s doors closed behind them, Tom relaxed his pace. He was just rounding the second corner before he stopped in realization. He had absolutely no idea where the Head’s dorm was.
As though conjured by Tom’s epiphany, Albus Dumbledore turned the corner, smiling benignly; although, both Tom and Hermione noticed there was a slight tightness to his grin and a calculating gleam beneath the twinkle in his eyes.
“I do not presume to know where you are going and to what purpose,” he began while picking off a speck of dust from his purple sleeve. “While I cannot condone what you are about, Mr. Riddle, I do believe there may be no other way to secure Miss Granger’s safety for the time being. Therefore, I tell you that you will find the Heads’ dorms to be located on the third floor, across from the prefects’ bathroom behind the picture of Helga Hufflepuff. The password is carpe diem. You may want to visit the Slytherin dorms before dinner lets out, the password is dolosus astus. Good evening to you both.”
He turned around and left from the direction he had come from.
Filing away the incident to further analyze later, Tom grabbed Hermione’s hand and pulled her down into the dungeons where the Slytherin common room was located.
“Where are we going?” Hermione asked as she allowed him to string her along through the twists and turns of the school.
“Common room,” was Tom’s clipped reply.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes, but why?”
“We need to get there before the others arrive.”
They ran down a flight of stairs and turned left, coming to a halt in front of the common room entrance.
“You have an uncanny skill of answering my questions without providing any real information, Thomas,” Hermione stated wryly.
Tom smirked as he looked down on her. “Dolosus astus,” he claimed, again avoiding her questions.
Hermione huffed as she followed him in, pausing to eye the Slytherin common room in curiosity. It looked much like Harry and Ron said it had. Black leather chairs, green pillows, and coldness radiating from the walls. It was the exact opposite of the Gryffindor common room and the fact that she would no longer be staring at vibrant red and warm gold tapestries made her want to cry.
“Hermione, the girls’ dorms are up the right staircase, you should find your things in the room behind the last door down the hall, go and get them quickly,” Tom spoke, breaking her thoughts.
“Why must I get my things?” she asked.
“Why must you always question everything I say?” he countered.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. “Why do you always answer my questions with a question?”
Tom began to get impatient with her. “Go, Hermione, I will answer your questions as soon as you get your things.”
She was reluctant about retrieving her trunk since he had given her no reason to, but Hermione could detect the impatient note in his voice and the slight desperation he tried to conceal.
With an annoyed huff, Hermione mounted the stairs to the right and marched up to the seventh year room. Like Tom said, she found the door to be the last one at the end of the stretch and her trunk at the end of a nondescript four poster bed. She gave a confident flick of her wand and the trunk shrunk down to the size of a snitch. Plucking it up off the floor, Hermione stuffed her worldly possessions into her pocket and made her way back to Tom who stood with his arms crossed and eyes glaring.
Hermione fancied that he was resisting the urge to tap his foot in his impatience.
She smiled at the thought and made sure to take her time with the last five steps. There was something about a hurried, slightly annoyed Tom Riddle that Hermione found amusing.
When she stood before him, smiling brightly, Tom snatched her wrist with a glare that told her he noticed her amusement and was not pleased by it, and he then proceeded to lead her out of the common room and back up to the third floor to the Heads’ dorms.
Pausing frequently to stare at random paintings or to ask Tom a pointless question to which she already knew the answer, Hermione attempted to slow their trek as much as possible. She told herself she did it only to appear as a first year student who had never before walked these halls, but Tom’s tight lipped, curt answers and the cold glitter in his eyes informed him that he did not believe such an explanation either.
Who would have thought that annoying Tom Riddle would be so much fun or that he would look so attractive while resisting the urge to hex her?
“I know what you’re doing, Hermione,” he snapped after her seventh question.
She had pulled him to a stop a mere three meters away from the Heads’ rooms to ask him what the significance behind each house’s chosen colors was.
“Doing?” she asked as innocently as possible.
His eyes narrowed on her twitching lips and his grip tightened marginally on her right hand. “Ignorance does not become you,” he drawled.
Hermione nearly choked on a smothered giggle. “Erm, sorry then,” she said, not sounding the least bit apologetic.
Patience had never been one of Tom’s assets and the fact that he had not already hexed Hermione to death surprised him. He figured he had managed to resist the urge because he knew that her good mood was about to quickly evaporate.
Tightening his hold on her, Tom tugged Hermione to the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff, who wore a canary yellow renaissance dress that belled out at her hips. She was a heavy set woman with red hair, and vibrant green eyes that smiled down at them, or more specifically, their clasped hands.
“Ah! Young lovers already out for a rendezvous! Well, don’t you worry your pretty little heads, dearies; I won’t tell a soul about seeing you!”
Helga Hufflepuff, it would appear, was a hopeless romantic.
Even as Hermione’s mind stopped and stuttered at the idea of her and Thomas sneaking out for a romantic liaison, Tom managed to smirk and state, “Carpe diem.”
Helga smiled and swung open.
Not caring about the scenery, Tom made quick work of climbing the stairs and finding his dorm. Hermione, who had been Head Girl in her time, was curious about what possible changes were made to the room, but she only caught a faint blur of red and green before she almost tripped going up the stairs.
“Tom, what are you doing?” she huffed, her annoyance at his strange behavior coloring her words.
Tom stopped at the top of the stairs and went to the door labeled with his name. Throwing it open, he tugged Hermione in before him following her while closing the door. He watched her sweep a critical eye over his room before she faced him. There was a long moment of silence before she turned back to face him. He smiled softly and Tom could pinpoint the exact moment she realized she was standing alone with him in his room, and that he blocked the only exit.
“Thomas?” there was a slight tremble to her voice.
“Hermione, you have been sorted into Slytherin,” he began.
“Yes, I do remember, it was only an hour ago.”
Tom’s smile grew slightly and he advanced to her, lighting the candles with a silent wave of his hand. He chose not to respond to her sarcasm as he merely continued, “You have been sorted into a house that despises you.”
“I fail to see why that requires me to retrieve my effects from my room,” she took a step back as he continued his slow, leisurely stalk to her.
Tom smiled again and Hermione shivered. “That is not your room.”
She nearly tripped on Tom’s trunk that lied at the end of his bed. “Wh-what?”
“You can’t very well sleep in a place where the person in the bed next to you would gladly kill you while you dreamt,” he pointed out.
“It is cowardly to attack someone while they sleep,” she proclaimed.
Tom raised an amused brow. “One might merely say it is the most opportune moment.”
Hermione snorted. “Get to the point, Thomas.”
“You will share my room,” he announced.
“What? I will do nothing of the sort!” she screeched.
“Hermione, don’t make me regret ever thinking you were smart. You know that you cannot sleep there, so you must sleep here.”
Hermione felt her heart thudding painfully against her chest. “But, there is only one bed,” she interjected lamely, a blush staining her cheeks.
Tom was suddenly looking forward to this predicament. Perhaps he had been too hasty in his earlier regrets about her sorting; perhaps this was just the sort of catalyst he required to secure Hermione’s affections.
A lazy, sensual smirk curled his lips. “Why yes, there is. We shall have to share it then, won’t we?”
Satisfaction flooded his being when Hermione gawked at him, completely speechless.
And so began the twisted courtship of Lord Voldemort and Hermione Granger.
Dolosus astus- rough Latin for ‘cunning’