Chapter 7: Repression and Divination
Hermione Granger was in a pickle.
When she awoke only a few moments ago to find her legs twined with Thomas’s and her cheek resting in the hollow of his shoulder, her body laying half on his in some parody of a human blanket, Hermione had nearly screamed. As it was, she barely muffled her shriek of indignation when she looked up to see Tom smirking down at her.
Bloody twit, she mentally seethed, glaring at the door that led to the bathroom where said twit was currently getting ready for their first day of classes.
Logically, she knew he was correct in his assessment on her not being able to sleep with the other Slytherins. Their glares alone were enough to kill her on the spot and the prospect of catching her unawares while she was off dreaming in la-la land would be too tempting for any one of them to pass up. In order to survive her sorting, Hermione would have to beat her fellow Slytherins at their own game.
She suddenly looked back on her afternoon talks with Lucius and Severus in a whole new light.
“The time will come, Hermione, when your Gryffindor courage will serve you naught. What will you use then?” Lucius claimed, taking the sting out of his words by allowing her to see the amusement lighting his sky-blue eyes.
Hermione loved it when his eyes shown with mirth. It always made talking to him seem less strange and more normal. Like she wasn’t really talking with Lucius Malfoy, but joking with Lucius- just Lucius.
“I’ll simply have to use Slytherin cunning then, won’t I?” Hermione laughed.
Severus gave a derisive snort. “You don’t know the first thing about Slytherin cunning.”
After the first week at Grimmauld Place, Hermione had learned that Severus had a rather odd sense of humor which basically consisted of insulting everyone and everything.
He was right, of course. While she was quite clever and devious in her own Gryffindor way, she knew that she lacked the drive that propelled Slytherins to greatness. “You will just have to teach me then, eh Severus?”
The mock look of horror on his pale features made her giggle.
“Now, now, Severus, the girl may actually benefit from our expertise,” Lucius began pointedly.
They glanced at each other, black eyes clashing with silver blue in a silent conversation. With a miniscule nod, Severus conceded.
“Lesson the first, Hermione: you are walking down Diagon Alley and you discover a bag of galleons someone lost, what do you do with it?” Severus asked, adopting the severe expression that had adorned his dark features while lecturing his potions students.
Hermione bit her lip. “Erm, keep it?” she tentatively answered. It sounded like a Slytherin thing to do to her…
“Wrong,” Lucius sneered. “Take the money and turn in the empty bag while claiming you found it that way. This way one will still think you’re a good person,” he slurred the word ‘good’ as though it had left a bad taste in his mouth.
Hermione stared with mouth agape. What a terrible thing to do…and yet, she had to admit it was quite clever, in a sick twisted way.
Lucius and Severus started to smile at the look of fascinated horror lighting her shocked face.
Severus couldn’t hide his amusement as he began again, “Lesson the second…”
A small bitter smile curled her lips. Even though they had not been able to tell her about her history, it would appear that her snakes had been preparing her for her sojourn through time. Knowing this comforted her and took the sting out of their necessary betrayal.
What she wouldn’t give to have Lucius and Severus with her right now, whispering their little snide comments into her ear as she walked the halls trying not to laugh so people wouldn’t notice she was talking to two ghosts. Being friends and talking with them had almost been like spying on the enemy. Their insights on the workings of Slytherin logic had not only been entertaining but also invaluable.
She wondered what they’d have to say about her current predicament, about her sharing Tom Riddle’s bed. She sighed tiredly. They would probably tell her to take advantage of it; to seduce him into following her every whim. As if Tom Riddle would obey anyone…
She would laugh at the thought, though, and they would smirk in black humor, but on some level, they would all know that they hadn’t been joking. They would point out to her that he would not have shared the bed with her unless he had wanted to. Slytherins did not do things out of the goodness of their heart; Tomhad not shared his bed with her merely to keep her safe.
He had wanted to sleep with her.
But why, Hermione couldn’t help but ponder. She was female, but she wasn’t necessarily anyone stunning.
Why else– sneered Severus in the back of her mind.
Beat him at his own game, Hermione, Lucius whispered encouragingly.
Her heart thumped at the thought. Dare she? Could she beat Tom Riddle at his own game? Could she, Hermione Granger, bring herself to accept his subtle advances?
The door to the bathroom opened and Tom walked into the room. Hermione stared at him; every black strand atop his head was combed into place, and he was dressed immaculately in his threadbare school uniform, his silver and green tie winking at her. The very air around him screamed authority and the early morning light that filtered through the window glinted on his Head Boy badge. He looked like a snake, coiled up and ready to strike at any moment, but he seemed to be restraining himself. Tom Riddle was always in control.
No, she couldn’t dance with the devil. There was no way she could tarry with Tom Riddle and come out of it unscathed.
He tilted his head back and smirked down at her as though he could sense her forfeit. Tom liked the sight of Hermione sitting on the edge of his bed, her hair tousled and her features soft with sleep.Noticing his perusal causedaslow burning fire to kindle inside her in response to his arrogance. She might not be ready to tango with him, but she wouldn’t let him walk all over her.
No one could push Hermione Granger down.
She rose from the bed like a Queen rising from her throne. As she walked past him she gave him a calculating look, slamming the door softly into his sneering face.
Hermione might not stand a chance of winning his game, but the other Slytherins…well, they wouldn’t know what hit them.
With that thought, Hermione smiled brightly. She would make Lucius and Severus proud, but more than that, she would make Harry and Ron happy.
She showered slowly in order to gather her wits; her eagerness for the distraction of classes as well as excited to prove to the Slytherins that magical greatness did not require pure blood caused her to take her time to set up her game plan. Perhaps if she studied hard enough and verbally fought enough battles with them, then she could forget that hollow sadness that stabbed at her heart. Maybe then Hermione would have the distraction necessary to allow her to ignore the sorrow that always hovered on the edge because she could never forget that she was utterly alone there. No Harry and Ron, no Lucius and Severus, and no family to see her through this new war.
Hermione ignored her tears as they mingled with the water from the shower. Crying would get her nowhere, she told herself. She had to be strong.
Stubbornly she pushed away all thoughts of the future and she brutally rubbed away her tears. She was repressing her sorrow, she knew, had been ever since she arrived and even before then when she had heard about her parents’ death. She was aware that it would only be a matter of time before it took over her, but for now, it made her stronger. She had to take what small comfort she could because a part of her knew that the road that Fate had laid out before her would not end the moment she made it home.
No matter how much she yearned to return home, she also dreaded it because the instant she arrived back in her own time was the moment her real problems would start. Lord Voldemort had assigned Severus to protect her, after all.
She turned off the shower and dressed. Hermione would stay strong if only because there was no other option. Muttering a quick charm she dried her long locks, sweeping her bushy hair up into a loose bun in the process. Hermione fixed on her silver and green tie, frowning down at it and fiddling with it nervously as she left.
Tom turned at the sound of Hermione exiting the bathroom, her face freshly scrubbed and her school uniform on. It took only the one look for him to know that she had been crying.
She looked so determined, however, to be happy that Tom did not mention it. He did file away the incident to further analyze later, though.
They had woken early in order to avoid running into the Head Girl, who Hermione insisted be left in the dark about her sharing his room, and to avoid most of the breakfast crowd. As they crept quietly down the stairs, Hermione finally had her chance to take in the common room since Tom had pulled her through too quickly last night for her to do so.
Much to her surprise and dismay, it looked very similar to what it was, or would be, in her own time. There was a large, friendly fireplace across from which were two armchairs on either side of a couch that had a short table in front of it. There was an end table with a chess set on it by the eastern window, and a modest bookshelf littered with the odd school text a past student had left behind. The common room she had lived in had all of these things, but where she had gotten used to Gryffindor and Ravenclaw colors, she now only saw silver and green fighting for supremacy with the familiar crimson and gold.
It looked like a war of colors with green throws and red pillows. The couch was a dull red, but it had velvet green pillows, and the armchairs were a faded green with gray pillows and red throws. She didn’t know which house was winning, but she couldn’t help but notice how nice the forest green meshed with the dark maroon. The room was an interesting mix of Gryffindor and Slytherin.
Much like me, she couldn’t help but notice.
She sighed and for the first time since their arrival at the school, Hermione grabbed Tom’s hand and led him out.
“Hungry?” he asked, casually slipping her arm in the crook of his elbow.
Hermione smiled in a self-depreciating manner. “Something like that.”
Tom looked down at her, but he did not ask her what she had really meant. Instead, he took pity on her and changed the topic. “Do you have any idea of what your class schedule will be like?”
Hermione pondered this. “Well, no, not really.” She and Albus had bought most of the school texts since Hermione had no real preference other than keeping defense against the dark arts as a class.
“What classes did you take at your old school?” he inquired in seeming innocence. He paused for a moment, fighting the urgeto hold his breath while waiting to see if she would answer.
She did, rather distractedly. “Oh, I took them all, except for Divination, that is.”
He fought not to let his surprise show. This was the first scrap of information he had ever heard about her life before coming to him at the orphanage. “All? That’s a bit excessive, don’t you think?”
Hermione shook her head, her eyes gleaming with enthusiasm. “Oh no, I find it all very fascinating actually. I love transfiguration the most, I think. But charms, arithmancy, potions, and defense are all really great, too. Lately I’ve been focusing more on defense because…” she trailed off, the light in her eyes dying as she realized what she had been about to say.
Because I have to be there to help Harry…
“Because,” she picked up in an unnecessarily cheerful voice, “you never know when you’ll need to defend yourself.”
Tom knew that was not what she had been about to say, but he nodded anyway. “I myself am fond of defense against the dark arts.”
She eyed him in an oddly knowing way. “Are you?”
Tom opened the door to the Great Hall, allowing her to enter before him. “I would not have said so otherwise,” he smirked condescendingly, steering her to the end of the Slytherin table. He made sure she sat on the edge, that way no one could sit at her right, and then he sank down to sit at her left.
The hall was mostly empty at that hour. There were a few Ravenclaws, a couple Hufflepuffs, and only two Gryffindors. Three Slytherin girls sat at the opposite end of their table, glaring over at Hermione, and a group of four boys sat at the middle.
Hermione was dismayed to see that Abraxas Malfoy was one of the boys. She knew on some level that she’d run into him, and when she had briefly encountered him last night, she had not been terribly surprised. He was not as tall as Tom; in fact, he was rather short standing at a mere 5’7″. His hair was platinum blonde color and while his eyes were the same shade as Lucius’s, they lacked the warm swirl of blue.
She wondered briefly whether or not Lucius’s grandfather was a spy, too, but when he turned from his breakfast to glare scathingly at her, Hermione tossed that notion out the window.
“Be wary of him,” Tom murmured as he followed her gaze.
“I’m not afraid of him,” she huffed, stabbing her eggs.
Tom watched her. “You’re treading a very fine line, Hermione. You’ll soon find that the other houses aren’t too friendly with us Slytherins, and your fellow house mates will certainly not be too welcoming of you either.”
“So you’re saying Idon’t haveanyone I can trust?”
He quirked a brow. “You have me, don’t you?”
You have me, don’t you… You have me, don’t you… You have me, don’t you… His words bounced around her head.
Hermione looked up from her breakfast and glanced at him, surprising herself by her own words as she realized aloud, “God help me, but you’re all I’ve got.”
He stared at her, not knowing what to say. There was something so final about the way she had spoken. He knew her parents were dead, but surely she had other relatives or friends from where she used to live. Didn’t she?
Quietly, afraid of what it meant that he was saying so, Tom whispered, “You’re all I have, too.”
If he had meant to comfort her, it didn’t work.
She smiled bitterly. “Funny isn’t it?”
No, it wasn’t. Not really. Tom rather thought it was pathetic. But then again, he knew what she really meant. It was rather ironic that the two of them would depend on each other so. In fact, he almost wanted to kill her for it; he resented her for it. He was Lord Voldemort and the Dark Lord needed no one.
But then he caught her eyes and his anger melted away. She looked at him, her muddy brown eyes wide and depressing. In her eyes he could see the picture of the girl she used to be, bright and happy, smart and clever; and he could also see the young woman she had become, strong and still smart, but no longer bright and no longer happy. She was a shadow of her former self.
“Yes, it is funny.”
But they didn’t laugh, and they didn’t smile.
Hermione was thankful when Slughorn, who looked almost unchanged, came over to introduce himself and to hand them their timetables, breaking the solemn moment.
“Hello my dear, welcome to Slytherin. A transfer, eh?” he continued as he ignored her nod of acknowledgment. “Well we’ll see how bright you are- I teach potions, you know? I trust Mr. Riddle will be able to show you to your classes, Miss Granger, and if you have any problems, come to me- I’m Head of Slytherin, dear. Well, here are your tables…” he read them before he handed them over to them and crowed, “You have quite the academic load, my dear! All N.E.W.T. levels! You must be very bright, indeed; I look forward to teaching you! Ah! Mr. Malfoy…” he trailed off as he spotted Abraxas down the table.
Hermione shook her head as he left. The man was clearly searching for another Slug Club member.
“Is he always so enthusiastic?” she asked Tom.
He glanced up from his schedule and gave a charming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “He may be a bit overbearing, but he has his uses.”
She nodded distractedly and glanced at her schedule. She had defense, potions, transfiguration, arithmancy and charms all at the advanced level. It wasn’t the same schedule she had before, she had three other classes more than that, but she supposed it would work. Although she did wish she could take herbology as well. She worried on her lower lip before she noticed she had one more class she had missed in her first perusal of the list.
Tom looked up when he heard Hermione choking on air. “What?” he barked, forcefully pushing down the tide of worry that wanted to flood him.
“I-I have divination,” she wailed, slamming her head down on the table.
Tom rolled his eyes, annoyed that she would worry him over nothing. “So?”
He heard her grumble from the table, “I hate divination!”
“So there is a subject you don’t like.”
She lifted her head to glare at him. “Your sarcasm is duly noted, but not appreciated, Thomas.”
“I happen to find divination to be very useful,” he said archly.
She scoffed. “What little respect I had for you is gone.”
A corner of his mouth lifted in amusement. “You must not have had a good instructor.”
“I walked out in the middle of her class. Old bat wouldn’t have been able to see the future if it was standing right in front of her with giant arrows pointing at it and a sign that said ‘FUTURE HERE’ tacked above it.”
Tom stole her schedule, nodding in approval when he noticed it was the same as his. “It’s funny you should say that,” he began.
“Why?” she asked, dreading his answer.
He poked her lightly until she looked up from the table. He smiled, thoroughly enjoying the moment. “Because that’s our first class today. Ready?” He stood from his seat, suddenly very eager for Divination, a class that until then he had merely tolerated.
Hermione snatched her schedule away from him, her eyes nearly popping out of her head when she realized he was right.
“Oh bugger,” she murmured.
She was no longer excited about classes for the day.