Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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Hermione stared at the hand extended to her, frozen in place, not sure what to do.
“Oh, you can shake it if you want.” Tom Riddle teased with a cheeky smirk, his voice light and easy. Snapping out of her momentary trance, Hermione grasped his hand briefly,
“Yes, um, sorry Mr. Riddle, it was I who was rude.” She released his hand, “I'm Hermione Blishwick. Professor Dippet told me that there would be a Prefect to show me around. . .?”
“Ah, yes, well, I'll show you around, Ms. Blishwick. You see, I am no longer a Prefect, but Head Boy. An unexpected honor to be sure, but a welcome one.” Tom replied with another smirk. When Hermione did not reply to this boast, he added, “You do not yet have a house, do you?”
“No, not yet. Professor Dippet told me that I would have to wait until the first years are sorted.” Hermione paused, “Could you tell me a little bit more about the houses? I'm afraid I do not yet know too much about them.” Good, Hermione. Humble, nervous schoolgirl. She reminded herself mentally. Tom nodded,
“Certainly. Here, I'll show you the way to the Great Hall as we talk.” Although the path to the Great Hall was one of the most familiar to Hermione, she took care to trail a little further behind Tom, “Well, Ms. Blishwick, there are four houses here at Hogwarts: Slytherin, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. Each has their generic characteristics associated with each one: Slytherin is for the ambitious, Gryffindor for the brave, Ravenclaw for the clever, and Hufflepuff for. . . well, just don't worry about Hufflepuff. I doubt you'll have the misfortune to end up in that house.” He paused, chuckling a little as he talked about Hufflepuff, which made Hermione's blood boil. This is Tom Riddle, after all. No, wait, this is Voldemort. Get a grip!
“But. . . how will I be sorted?” Hermione asked in a slightly distressed tone. Again, Tom laughed at her,
“Calm yourself, Ms. Blishwick, the Sorting Hat will be placed on your head. It will then determine your house, and it is hardly every wrong. Nothing to fret about.” He paused as they stepped into the Great Hall, gesturing around broadly, “This is the Great Hall. It's ceiling-”
“Is charmed to look like the sky outside.” Hermione finished automatically, then quickly added, “Erm, I've read a bit of Hogwarts, A History before I came.”
“Strange that you should know about the ceiling of the Great Hall before the four houses.” Tom remarked in an offhand sort of way, “Of course, the structure of your edition of the book might be different than my own.”
“Do you read much, Mr. Riddle?” Hermione asked politely, trying to steer the conversation away from her awkward lapse in knowledge. Tom Riddle was no fool, and she could not risk him finding her to be suspicious in any way. She wasn't too sure what would happen if he discovered her mission, but one thing she was sure of was that it would not be good. Not at all.
“Oh, too much, some would say. I disagree; one can never have enough knowledge.”
“Exactly! I think my biggest pet peeve is when someone asks 'Why do we have to learn this?' I don't think the dimwits understand that we learn to know how to learn, and your life isn't laid out in stone. We never know what we will encounter as we move through it, and what we will have to know.” Hermione burst out, unable to contain her fiery personality for a few moments.
“Ms. Blishwick. . .” Tom replied after a few moments of contemplation over her words, “I think we have more in common than I originally thought, but I must ask: do you believe in destiny?”
Did she believe in destiny? She would once say yes. After all, there were prophecies and fates that would be carried out. But now was different; now was time travel. So was it her destiny to come back in time? Had it already been planned? She seriously doubted it. But then, if it was not planned, was there destiny?
Tom studied her carefully as she mulled over her thoughts. Finally, she answered,
“No. You can always change your fate.” Tom nodded,
“I thought you would say so.” Nothing else. No agreement or dissent, just an acknowledgement of her answer. After a few more moments of silence, he cleared his throat, “Well, how about I show you to the library then? There is a vast collection of rare books in the. . . “
And, just like that, Tom Riddle was back to being the helpful, slightly annoying Head Boy. The moment was gone, but it had happened. For an instant, Hermione had connected with the boy who would become the greatest Dark Wizard of all time. If she could get close to him, her mission to murder would be more simple.
The thought both scared and excited her.
The following day passed quickly enough, with Tom proving to be fairly amiable company. No more matters of any great importance were discussed, but Hermione did almost enjoy the idle chatter with him. (After all, she would not allow herself to actually admit to enjoying it.) Tom was very knowledgeable about the castle, though there were some questions he refused to answer, and he seemed to love learning almost as much as Hermione did. Almost.
That night, Hermione bade Tom goodnight around eight o'clock, making her way back into the hospital wing where she would spend the night.
That was when she encountered the mirror.
Oh, no, there was nothing special about this mirror; it was of average size, shape, and no magical abilities. No, what startled Hermione was her appearance. She looked seventeen again, her hair slightly wild, eyes large and brown, body slightly curvy and petite; she just looked a better seventeen than she ever had before. It was strange, to say the least, but many things were strange; she had just spent a fairly enjoyable day with Voldemort, after all.
And yet, as she laid down to sleep, she could not chase away how warm and alive his hand was as she shook it for the first time.
“Now, students, we have an unusual addition to our Sorting Ceremony this evening.” Professor Dippet announced, beaming, “As you know, Hogwarts does not usually allow late transfers, but in this case, we made a special exception with miss Hermione Blishwick.”
Silence fell across the room as Hermione made her way up onto the the Sorting Stool. Sorting was the most terrifying moment of her life when she was eleven, and even at seventeen, it was equally as terrifying. Hundreds of eyes took her in, sized her up, as she awaited the placement of the tattered hat upon her head.
Ah, Hermione. . . Blishwick. An interesting name. The hat's voice appeared inside her head, rough but jolly, Let's see, what to do with you. Brains, no doubt, courage abundant, but something else. You have a drive to murder, a drive to kill. That's dark, Miss Blishwick, very dark. But, this is your head, your thoughts, yourself; do what you want with it. Meanwhile, I'll just do what I want to.
“Hmm. . . . better be, SLYTHERIN!” The hat announced to enthusiastic applause from the Slytherin House table. Hermione jumped up off the stool brightly, smiling as her new house mates. As she strolled down the stairs, Tom Riddle caught her eye, vaguely gesturing to an empty seat beside him. Heart fluttering, Hermione settled down next to the Head Boy, shaking hands with the little gang that sat around him, trying desperately to remember names: Abraxus Malfoy and Alphard Black were the two that looked the most like their descendants, then there was William Rosier, Peter Avery, John Wilkes, and Clayton Lestrange.
Soon, after the anxious first years had been safely placed into their respective houses, a delicious feast materialized upon the table. As Hermione took some rather large bites of food, she noted with delight that the quality of Hogwart's food was still just as good- if not better- than she remembered from her own time.
“So, Blishwick- you don't mind if I leave off the miss, do you?- what brings your lovely self to Hogwarts this year?” Lestrange inquired with a flirtatious smile. Hermione purposefully lowered her eyes, pretending to hide warming cheeks,
“Of course not, Lestrange. Well, it's kind of a long story, but I'm afraid Grindelwald drove my family out of Europe and eventually managed to erase my parent's memory of me.” She blinked away artificial tears, “But let's not focus on that; me and my depressing story. Tell me about yourself.” She coaxed with a tiny smile.
“Sorry I'm late, gents.” Came a silky female voice. Hermione noticed the raised eyebrows of the boys around her, and when she turned, Hermione could instantly see why. Even though Hermione was (as Ronald quite intelligently pointed out their fourth year) a girl, she had no trouble admitting that the girl standing before her was pretty. No, not pretty, gorgeous. Dark, curly hair framed a heart-shaped face, pale skin, a coy smile playing out on lush red lips. She had a slender willowy frame that seemed to moved with such grace that she must be floating. Somehow, plain Slytherin robes accentuated an hourglass figure, showing off an impressive amount of cleavage without being too risqué.
“Now now, what have I told you about missing the Sorting?” Tom chided teasingly.
“Not to do it, of course.” She responded easily with another grin, “But since when do I listen to what you say, Tommy dear?” She gracefully sat down next to Hermione, “Now, who are you?”
“Oh, sorry, I'm Hermione Blishwick. I'm a transfer student.” Hermione supplied. The girl raised an eyebrow,
“Ooo, a transfer? We never have those.” She shook Hermione's hand, “I'm Naginski Kosmachevskaia.” At Hermione's strange expression, she laughed, “Oh, I know, those damn Russians! Kosmachevskaia's too much of a mouthful.”
“Now, where were you during the Sorting? Come on, do tell.” Abraxus Malfoy inquired. Naginski turned to him as she spooned some mashed potatoes onto her plate,
“Oh, this and there. Had better things to do than watch terrified first years get assigned to Houses.” She paused, shooting an apologetic look at Hermione, “Except for you, of course. You know, it is rather exciting to have another seventh year girl here. The ones in our dormitory are so daft, you'll see.” She took a bite of potatoes, “ I think we shall be great friends, Hermione.” She added with conviction.
“I'm sure we shall, Naginski.” Hermione replied, sincerely hoping that she was correct. After all, Naginski seemed to be on rather good standing with the group Hermione now found herself a part of; it would be helpful to get close to Tom.
The night went on with a constant stream of chatter, and Hermione found that the boys and girl with whom she was sitting were not all too different than the boys and girls of her time. At the conclusion of dinner, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder,
“If you ever should need anything, let me know.” Tom spoke gently with a small smile, “I must go and deal with the prefects now.” And with that, he was gone. Confused with his sudden kindness, Hermione gazed after him for a moment before she noticed Naginski watching her closely,
“It's always a good thing to be on Tom's good side. He really is a nice lad.” Naginski offered as they began their descent to the dungeons, “Handsome too. And a good bit of fun.” She added with a wink.
“What do you mean, Naginski?” Hermione asked, confused. Naginski laughed lightly,
“You're new. You'll see.” She replied, flouncing around the corner, “Oh, and so you don't have to spit out Russian names all of the time, you can call me Nagini. Everyone does.”
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