Chapter 8: Of Divination and Malfoys
Tom had not slept well last night.
It had been a combination of slight nervousness, excitement, and Hermione’s restless shifting that had kept him up. Though, despite his annoyance, he had found her anxiety to live with him highly amusing.
“Share it?” she had stuttered after he told her she would have to room with him for her own safety.
Tom smiled and took another step closer to her. “Sharing is caring,” he deadpanned with a mocking smirk.
“But-but, I can’t share a bed with you!” she proclaimed, absolutely horrified at the thought.
In spite of himself, Tom grew angered at her rejection. “What’s the matter,” he sneered, “Don’t you trust me?”
She had not hesitated in her answer. “About as far as I can throw you,” she bit off.
He smirked and nodded his head slowly. “Smart girl,” he murmured approvingly, a small smile turning up his lips.
“Thomas, we can think about this logically,” she beseeched.
“There’s nothing to think about, Hermione. You cannot sleep with the Slytherins, no other house will allow a Slytherin in their common room, and you have absolutely no friends here whatsoever. Besides me, that is,” he stated coolly, his smile revealing his perfect white, gleaming teeth.
She narrowed her eyes at him, her right hand twitching as though she could sense he had her trapped by the logic she so religiously adhered to. He could tell she was fighting between her fight or flight instincts. She wanted to run from him, but she was no coward, not his Hermione.
Besides, she was too smart to flee. She knew he’d catch her before she took even three steps away from him. She was his for as long as he willed it and there was no where she could run to escape him. And, there was no escaping his logic. He was right and she knew it.
“No one can know,” she whispered, submitting to his will.
He loved her surrender. She was not weak, but compliant, malleable to his will. And, oh, how he wanted to shape her.
“Of course,” he graciously conceded.
She claimed the right half of the room and bed, unshrinking her trunk to retrieve her pajamas. It was clear she was ignoring him, hoping that he’d simply disappear if she did not acknowledge him or his sudden good humor.
But Tom would have none of that.
“I’ll change in the bathroom and you in here,” he stated.
He did not allow her time to protest, but instead he procured his nightclothes and went into the bathroom to change. It was a large room with white marble floors and vaulted ceilings. It was both grand and modest, but Tom did not care for it one way or another. He was too focused on removing his clothes and pulling on his pants and white linen shirt, hurriedly folding his clothes so that he may return to Hermione and perhaps catch her in a state of undress.
As though she had anticipated this, she had quickly disrobed and put on her pajamas and Tom was disappointed that he had not caught her with her skirt literally around her legs.
But something in him softened at the sight of her anxiously tugging at her cotton sleeve; something in him stirred when he saw her mildly sitting on his bed.
Her clothes were modest and not even remotely revealing, but until then Tom had only seen her in white, cotton blouses covered by the ugly gray tunic from the orphanage, and plain black skirts that went just past her knees. There was something so personal about them seeing each other in their night clothes, something slightly vulnerable.
No one had ever seen him in his pajamas, he suddenly realized as he felt her eyes rake him up and down. He should feel naked under her gaze while being loathe to have her see him in his vulnerable state of dress, but all he felt was a nervous flutter in his gut as he watched her climb under the covers before following her himself.
He whispered a soft ‘nox’ and the lights extinguished. Darkness enveloped the room and they had lain in bed stiffly, as far away from the other as possible. Tom listened to her shift, a little entertained by her drumming fingers and her fast breathing.
She turned restlessly at least a dozen more times before his amusement evaporated and he drawled, “Hermione, pick a spot and lay there.”
He heard her huff angrily, but she finally remained still. He listened as her breathing evened and her body relaxed and sleep finally claimed her.
But then she rolled over, throwing an arm over him and snuggling into his chest and suddenly he was aware of every inch of her warm body. He knew every time she took a breath, every time she shifted, and every time she had sighed.
It was a long time before sleep had claimed Tom and he was now paying for it as he sat in the north tower, staring into a crystal ball with heavy lids.
“Focus on the ball’s energy. In order to part the veils of time and destiny one must look within oneself; you must focus on your inner power, use it to part the mist,” Professor Thompson declared, prowling the room.
He heard a soft snort from across the small round table he sat at and Tom’s eyes, which had been drooping shut, flew open to stare at Hermione. Her arms were stubbornly crossed and she was leaning far back into her chair as though to put as much distance in between her and the crystal ball. Her eyes were narrowed slits of chocolate and he could feel her foot tapping on the floor as it hit the table base.
“What do you see that vexes you so?” he couldn’t help teasing.
Her eyes snapped to him and Tom quelled his instinct to stir nervously under her sharp glare.
“I see you suffering an unfortunate accident, Thomas, if you don’t shut your trap,” she fairly growled.
He smiled at her charmingly, causing her to sigh in annoyance and move her eyes to the table once again.
“Tell me, Tom, what has both you and Miss Granger so captivated that you must talk about it, for I do not believe speaking is necessary for our exercise,” Professor Thompson said from behind his right shoulder.
Hermione’s eyes moved up from the black stain on the table edge to look at her. She managed to stifle the heat of her glare only by reminding herself that her current predicament could be worse.
She could be stuck with that old bat Trelawney.
It helped that Professor Emma Thompson looked absolutely nothing like Trelawney. Her liquid black hair was secured into a tight, no-nonsense bun, and her blue eyes were happy behind metal framed glasses. Her voice was bright and cheery and she had been quite friendly when Hermione introduced herself.
But it seemed to Hermione that she was a bit empty-headed.
“I am merely explaining to Hermione the importance of concentrating, Professor,” Tom explained. “I think the reason the mists have not parted for us is her lack of concentration as well as her negative energy.”
Professor Thompson beamed down at him. “Such a lovely point, Mr. Riddle, and so very true; five points to Slytherin for your insight. Now Miss Granger, what seems to be your problem? I sense from your aura that you have blocked yourself from your inner gift.”
Tom smirked as he watched Hermione struggle not to snap at her. He had learned quickly that Hermione had a stinging retort for every occasion, but she would never use one on someone who did not deserve it.
“I’m sure I do not know, Professor,” she ground out, eyes shooting daggers at him.
“I sense that you have the gift, Hermione,” she began kindly, taking a seat at their table. She took one of Hermione’s hands in hers, causing Hermione to turn away from Tom to face her. As though a switch had been thrown, Professor Thompson’s eyes lost their cheerful emptiness and pierced Hermione with a shockingly knowing look. “One would think, my dear, that with your talent you would know a great deal about what the future may bring,” she stated.
Tom watched in fascination as Hermione flinched. Her annoyance seemed to evaporate as she looked into the Professor’s eyes; instead, she looked wary and concerned. Tom’s curiosity peaked when the Professor leaned forwarded and whispered something to Hermione, something that made her close her eyes in a combination of fear and sadness.
He didn’t know what she had said, but Tom instantly wanted to kill the meddling woman at that moment. There was something about seeing Hermione threatened and afraid that made his fists curl and his magic spark, ready to attack whoever had endangered his mudblood. He had never wanted to protect anyone but himself before, but now Tom’s whole being was pulsating as he struggled not to curse his teacher.
Professor Thompson smiled kindly and patted Hermione’s white-knuckled fists, rising to go inspect some other table.
“What did she say?” Tom snapped as soon as the insipid woman was out of hearing range, his sage green eyes darkening in his anger.
Hermione shook her head, focusing her amber eyes on the hollow part of his throat and refusing to meet his gaze.
“You will tell me, Hermione,” he hissed, leaning forward in his chair and cocking his head down in an effort to catch her worried eyes.
“It doesn’t concern you, Thomas,” she bit off.
His eyes narrowed as his anger grew. “What concerns you concerns me, my dear.”
Her eyes lifted and finally met his for a total of three seconds before they dropped down again. “Funny you should care so much about me, Thomas. I’m just a mudblood remember?”
“Stop trying to distract me with your pathetic attempt of a diversion,” he sneered. “Mudblood or not, you will tell me what was said.”
Their gazes clashed once again, Tom’s eyes fierce and sparkling, and Hermione’s shining just as fiercely and with just as much determination. There was a distant sound of a bell and the faint voice of Professor Thompson dismissing them, and yet neither of them moved or acknowledged it.
Slowly, Hermione began to smile. She rose from her seat and moved to stand behind him, leaning down to whisper into his right ear, “How does it feel to want, Thomas?”
As soon as she was finished speaking she left, leaving Tom sitting dumbly in a bemused mix of anger and arousal.
“Mr. Riddle, is there anything I can help you with?”
Tom snapped out of his stupor. He looked around the empty room and faced Professor Thompson who was standing to his right with a gentle smile.
“No, Professor, I was merely collecting my thoughts,” he stated, gathering his belongings and heading down the ladder.
Bloody vixen, he screamed mentally as he walked the halls with arrogant strides in order to catch up with said vixen. While on the surface Tom was angry, he was actually pleasantly surprised beneath that. Hermione had used a combination of Gryffindor courage and Slytherin cunning in that particular run-in, and Tom didn’t know quite what to make of it. He had never before had someone stand up to him and refuse to do as he had bid. Never before had he parried with such an interesting mix of foolish courage and subtle cunning.
She truly was unique.
When Tom finally made it to the defense corridor, he found his mudblood vixen standing quite furiously, her eyes flashing, posture rigid, and her wand clasped in her hand. Across from her was Abraxas Malfoy, who was sneering down the tip of his nose at her.
It was obvious words had been exchanged, most likely involving a slur of Hermione’s parentage, but there was a serious undertone in the tension that hung between them. This wasn’t just a random petty argument.
Lines were being drawn and purposes declared, and it was very clear to Tom that they stood on opposite sides.
“I would be careful if I were you, Granger,” Malfoy threatened so softly that Tom almost didn’t hear. “The halls are dark at night and you never know what you may run into.”
Tom felt his anger prickle. It was obvious that Abraxas did not know he was standing there otherwise the boy would have been smart enough to hold his tongue.
“I can take care of myself, thanks,” Hermione said, smilingin false sweetnessas she continued, “your concern for my well being is touching, though, Abraxas.”
He saw Malfoy clutching his wand, his hand shaking, and thought it best to intervene.
“Malfoy, go to class before I take away house points,” Tom ordered, his voice hard and his expression unyielding.
Both boys knew exactly what he was really saying. Leave or face my wrath at our next meeting.
When faced with the wrath of Lord Voldemort, Abraxas backed down. With resentful obedience he went into the defense against the dark arts classroom, glaring murderously at Hermione as he passed her.
“Are you going to tell me what he said at least?” he said pointedly, breaking the tense silence.
Tom was awarded with a distracted smile from Hermione who obliging answered, “You know, Tom, just the usual. I’m not worthy of our noble house, I have dirty blood, and I better sleep with one eye open. Nothing I haven’t heard before.”
Tom took three steps to her, tilting her head up to him with two fingers. “You’ve heard such slurs before?”
She smiled bitterly. “I am no stranger to adversity.”
She tried to seem nonchalant, but Tom saw through her brave façade. He saw the sadness that lurked in her eyes and the pain that stabbed at her very being. He moved his hand from her chin to her shoulder, his palm rising with every breath she took. “Then why does Malfoy hurt you so?”
“There is someone where I’m from,” she said abruptly, her tone distant, “Someone who looks a great deal like Abraxas Malfoy, and reminds me very much of him. This person used to insult me just as Abraxas does, but as time passed, we moved beyond our differences. To see a younger version of him hurl the same insults that once colored his tongue is disconcerting. We have come so far, Abraxas merely reminded me of that.”
“I see,” he murmured, not because he understood her cryptic answer but more that he felt he ought to say something.
“Do you, Thomas?” she abruptly fixed him with a knowing glare. “I know what you’re doing; I’m no simpleton.”
“And just what am I doing, pray tell?” he smirked condescendingly.
“You’re using your influence as Head Boy to stop the others from hexing me,” she claimed smartly. “And I do appreciate it, Thomas, but you know it won’t work forever. That thing with Abraxas was nothing. Eventually they won’t be satisfied with words and it’ll move to cursing and hexing, and there will be nothing you can do then.”
He nodded, his eyes never leaving hers. “I know,” he whispered, his hand tightening on her shoulder.
“I wonder what you’ll do then, Tom. Who will you stand with then?”
He thought over her question. “I don’t know.”
She smiled softly. “I suppose that’s enough.”
It was more than enough in his opinion. He had only known her for three months, and already he was no longer certain where he stood anymore. If she had asked him one month ago he would not have hesitated in his answer. He would stand alone, on no one’s side but his own, and he would have approved of his followers hexing her. She was certainly annoyingly smart, and she was dirty blood.
But now he was not so sure. Tom still craved for power and fearful respect; he still yearned to purge the world of the unworthy, dirty blood imposters. Now, though, he was considering saving a mudblood. Perhaps when he gained his rightful place, he would spare her. Hermione made his life more interesting and took away the monotone quality his days had gained.
Yes, he would spare her when the time came if she continued to intrigue him. His very own mystery to keep him guessing, Tom knew that he would never truly know all of her secrets.
Maybe that was why he found her so refreshing and so captivating. He had the sneaking suspicion that he could spend years in her company and still never truly know her.
“We should go in; class will be starting,” she broke his reverie.
“Yes,” he allowed. “This class certainly can’t be any worse than divination, eh?”
He was awarded with Hermione’s laughter, and Tom himself allowed a small smile to cross his lips. His hand slid from her shoulder to fall around her waist and he steered her into the room, not caring about the glares his fellow classmates were sending him or the curious looks that lingered on his arm around her.
Hermione was smiling, and for Tom, that was all that matteredat the moment.