Hermione Granger sat in the corner of the staircase leading to the Great Hall, held her aching feet in her hands and cried. She cried and ranted and fumed. She mentally cursed her two idiot friends to the moon and back, Ron Weasley for being a right blind git and Harry Potter for not standing up to the stupid Ron Weasley when he was being a right blind git with the emotional capacity of a teaspoon.
“Alright there, Hermione?”
Padma Patil crouched in front of her, flanked by her worried looking twin Parvati. The two Indian witches had been her friends’ dates. Hermione knew the two fools had spoilt Padma and Parvati’s evenings too. At one point of the evening, she had caught sight of Padma dancing with Draco Malfoy of all people, raising Ron’s ire a couple more notches.
Well good for her, Hermione seethed, and serves Ron right!
Outwardly though, she got her hiccups in control and answered with as much dignity as she could muster in a few seconds.
“I’ll be fine Padma. Parvati. I didn’t get a chance to tell you before, but you both look beautiful. Did you girls enjoy your evening?”
A look passed between the twins and they started giggling.
“Oh yes.” Padma managed to say in between bouts of merry giggles.
“We did” they both answered in sync, looked at each other and laughed some more. Their easy camaraderie and little secret jokes made Hermione feel lonely. Logically she knew her melancholy was just aftereffects of a fight with her friends and because of the anticlimactic way her evening had ended. All she’d wanted for tonight was to look beautiful and feel a little special. For a precious few hours she’d felt desired from Victor Krum’s attentions. But then he’d gone back with the other Durmstrang students and her Cinderella’s ball had ended. Her friends turned into pumpkins she wanted to kick. Her pretty dress got all dirty and wrinkled from the way she was sitting on the dusty steps. Three hours she’d spent on taming her hair, another hour into putting on makeup and making sure her dress fit her beautifully. Those were four hours she’d never get back. She hadn’t even gotten a kiss for all her efforts. Harry and Ron had made sure to pout and moan and put on a show in front of Krum, chasing away her good spirits and her star seeker.
Bloody meddling gits!
“Are you girls going back to the dorms?” she asked Padma. Maybe in trailing along with them, the sisters’ chatter would cheer her up or at least distract her from her woes.
“No. We’ve been invited to the Slytherin dungeons for an after party.” Padma’s cheeks went red as she whispered, carefully looking around to make sure no one overheard.
“There’s an after party?” Hermione exclaimed, surprised at herself that she didn’t think of it before. They were wizards and witches but still teenagers. School dances, muggle or magical, would always continue on to after parties for the kids that were too cool or wired to go to bed. She’d never been cool and engaging enough for her muggle friends. Apparently, she wasn’t good enough for the wizarding folks either.
Who would invite boring, studious, rule abiding Hermione Granger to have fun after hours?
Bitter anger flared up inside her, this time unfairly, at people who were going to break rules and live a little.
“You are going to a party after hours? In the Slytherin dungeons no less! What if you get caught? You could get detention or loose precious points. We work hard for those points you know.” she snapped, trying but failing at hiding her displeasure and jealousy from showing on her expressive face.
Parvati stiffened and Padma straightened up from her position in front of Hermione. They took a step back from the disheveled disapproving witch, again in complete sync with each other, as if they had practiced their moves.
“Suit yourself Granger. And go back to your high tower.” Shrugged Parvati, “It’s not like you have anywhere else to go anyways.”
Without a look back, Padma and Parvati made their way down the halls, away from the stairs and from Hermione. They didn’t see the look of pure misery cross Hermione’s face at their not so veiled insult. Before more students came out and noticed her miserable tear stained face, Hermione gathered herself and stood up. She dusted and straightened her dress as best as she could, picked up her shoes and turned to climb the stairs, silently on naked feet.
When the turn for the Gryffindor tower entrance came about, she didn’t go that way and kept climbing the ever-shifting stairs. They moved this way and that, leading the distracted witch on their own mysterious way. Suddenly Hermione was standing in the corridor leading to the Room of Requirement. She walked three times in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy, thinking about how lovely it could have been if like Padma and Parvati, she had somewhere to go too.
Somewhere, or to someone…
Suppressed longings of an innocent teenage heart burst forth, filling her head with things she worked hard to steer clear off. Exciting things. Like boyfriends and her newfound desire for secret kisses in darkened alcoves, for the possessive touch of someone who couldn’t bear to remain far from her, for someone who held her hand under the big tables of the great hall as they had their meals. How lovely would it be for someone to lay peacefully in her lap while she read a book, sometimes silent and sometimes discussing what she was reading. How exciting would it be if she had someone to go head to head with her over all the new things she learnt every day, without them calling her a know-it-all swot or a good for nothing else bookworm.
A door appeared in the wall, the door to the room of requirement. Hermione wasn’t quite sure what the room could have conjured for her. Sure, she’d wanted for somewhere to hide, lick her wounds and regroup before she had to face everyone again tomorrow. But she’d also been thinking of her other secret desires. Could the room have something to fulfill those wishes too?
She opened the door and peered inside. And gasped.
It looked as if the Hogwarts Library had moved house and decided to settle down, in its entirety, inside the room of requirement. Without Madam Pince. And anyone else for that matter. She had the Hogwarts Library all to herself.
Oh who needed boys after all!
Hermione stepped inside, shut the door behind her and did a little winning cheer jig she once saw on the tele. The clearing of a throat snapped her out of her impromptu performance and she looked around to find the source. A boy sat in a reading area a few feet away, in the shadows of a book shelf. A huge book sat his arms. His gaze traveled the length of her body, from the roots of her slick-eazyed hair, roaming over her fitted formal chiffon gown, to her calves exposed because she held the end of her dress in the hand that wasn’t holding her shoes, down to the painted toes of her bare feet. Hermione colored and let the dress fall to her toes again.
He stood up and stepped out of the shadows. And ohh the minstrels sang in Hermione’s head as light fell on his face. His classically handsome chiseled face. She noticed that he was very tall. His hair was dark and curly but neatly combed back. His school robes were black with a Slytherin crest, starkly contrasting with his pale skin. His eyes were dark too, dramatically so. Hermione Granger was pretty sure she had never seen this boy around school before. She would have remembered him. Did the room call him there somehow? If such a thing indeed happened, Hermione was in awe over how perfectly the room had understood her half baked fantasies and produced this paragon of perfection. Complete with a huge… book in his arms.
“Who are you?” she asked the boy as well as herself and the room.
“Who are you?” He questioned back, perfectly polite.
The witch took a step in his direction.
“My name is Hermione Granger. I am a student. I am sure I haven’t seen you ever before. Are you a student too?”
The boy took two steps towards her.
“My name is Tom Riddle. I am the head boy of this school. I haven’t seen you before either and that is very strange. Have you ingested Polyjuice by any chance? Or some other forbidden potion? And what do you think you are doing in the library, after hours, dressed like that, young lady? What’s your house?”
Hermione’s heart thudded in her chest. Head Boy huh? This Tom Riddle could not be the head boy. Percy Weasley was the head boy, the prat. Even though Riddle’s robes said he was a Slytherin, the fantasy was getting better and better. Tall, dark and handsome, check. Studying in the library on the night of a school dance, check. A slightly older authority figure without the taboo of being a teacher? Check, check, check!
“I’m lost sir Mr. Head boy. Please help me.” Hermione blinked her eyes innocently and pouted for good measure. She didn’t have much experience with flirting and if she’d been anywhere else with anyone even close to being like this ridiculously hot guy, she’d have clammed right up. Or started spouting random facts from Hogwarts a History! Or corrected his grammar, if he made a mistake. But something about being secure in the privacy of the Room of Requirement, with the Room supplied fantasy library and fantasy head boy brought out her playful cheeky side.
Tom Riddle rolled his eyes at her theatrics.
“You are in the school library. If you think you’re lost, then clearly you have no business being out here at this hour. Go back to your dorm Miss-”
Riddle cocked a brow. He looked really good doing that.
“Miss Hermione Granger.” He intoned, “Go back to your dorm.”
“That’s the thing. I can’t find it. I’m afraid I’ll have to spend the night here.” Hermione said mock seriously, shaking her head.
Tom sighed. And moved his wand in the way of casting a diagnostic on her.
“Let me guess! You are a Gryffindor, aren’t you? No wonder you’re lost in the library.”
“That’s mean!” Her pout wasn’t fake this time. “I am a Gryffindor and I love the library. Getting lost in the library is actually a fantasy of mine.”
“Getting lost in the…” Tom shook his head and scrunched his brows, “First of all twenty points from Gryffindor for breaking curfew and wasting my time! Secondly-”
“Twenty points?” Hermione exclaimed. Even if this was all pretend, twenty points was a lot of deduction for just being out of bed. Plus, no fantasy of Hermione’s ever included losing house points. That just wasn’t done. This head boy needed to be reigned in.
“Secondly,” Riddle ground his teeth in annoyance, “Are you, by any chance, under the influence of an illegal potion? Or have you glamoured your looks?”
“Obviously not!” Hermione scoffed and folded her arms over her chest.
“Nothing obvious about it.” Riddle shook his head, “I have never seen you before and this is my seventh year as a student. You look to be in your third or fourth year. And if you love the library so much, I would surely have seen you here before. So, I’ll ask again and for the last time, have you ingested Polyjuice potion? Or have you charmed your face into this pretty mask to get away with your mounting crimes?”
“Mounting crimes?” Hermione repeated, growing more exasperated by the second, “What crimes? What are you even talking about? You’re not even the real head boy. Or a real boy for that matter! You are just my fantasy that the Room made for me.”
Riddle blinked. Words were rapidly failing him. There were so many things wrong with what the girl, Hermione Granger, had just thrown at him. He didn’t know where to begin. She’d caught him at a bad time too. He had been experimenting with very complex and a possibly illegal combination of runic spells in his journal. It consisted of a dark rune for summoning the living, combined with his self created runes that approximately notated the parseltongue mate and fate sounds, all drawn with his blood in a diary that contained a piece of his soul. It was tricky work that required his complete concentration. The girl with her barmy claims and low cut ballgown and pretty heels and unconventionally beauty was ruining his concentration and needed to be scared away.
Weirdly enough with this particular witch, he didn’t want to scold, insult or hex, his heretofore three favorites things to do with meddling students.
What the bloody hell was wrong with him?
In a pinch, Tom always went with intimidation. That worked well enough in most sticky situations.
With that in mind, Tom Riddle shut off and placed his journal which was charmed to look like a heavy tome, safely in his heavily warded bag. He walked towards the girl till he towered over her and stared at her, down his nose, satisfied that the difference in their heights helped his cause. His face was blank, his eyes intense. This particular look always left his followers quaking in their expensive dragon hide boots. Hermione Granger would soon learn her place in the grand scheme of things.
A couple seconds passed in silence. Tom decided that was enough for discomfiting her.
“Keep mouthing off Miss Granger. Make me angry, I dare you. You would rue the moment you decided to flounce into the library in that ridiculous dress and disturb my peace once I start with your punishment.”
Contrary to all of the head boy’s past experience, Hermione Granger didn’t flinch. Her cheeks gained color though. She didn’t break eye contact, instead her pupils dilated. She didn’t step back. Instead, the infuriating girl leaned closer. She took a breath. The strange witch, seemingly suppressing a moan, stepped into him, closer than he was comfortable with and took a deep sniff off of his cloak lapels.
“You smell of new parchment…Mmm” she whisper-groaned.
Tom Riddle gulped and fought his instinct to step back. That would be like conceding a round and Tom wouldn’t be caught dead admitting he needed distance to control what was currently happening with his young teenage body.
Not aware of his struggle, the little witch grabbed his robes in her fists and buried her nose in his chest.
“Wh…What do you think you are doing? Unhand me right this minute Miss Granger.”
“But you are my fantasy. And you smell like books and picnics and home. I don’t want to let you go!” came her muffled response.
Very strange was the fact that Tom Riddle still didn’t want to scoff at her forwardness and fling her hands away from his person. He had been propositioned plenty times, sometimes with, sometimes without his express consent. Women, girls and some boys threw themselves at him all the time. He had gotten used to it and usually handled it with sharp words or magic. He didn’t want to hex this Hermione Granger. Even less was his desire to cut a cruel remark. In a sea of unremarkable witches and wizards, this young witch was turning out to be an astounding anomaly and an irresistible enigma.
He kept his arms and hands at his sides, but dipped his head and just as an experiment, nuzzled the top of her head. Her hair was tightly coiled in curls, kept in place with a hundred pins, magic and some kind of smelly potion. Despite the frivolity, the mop of brown curls felt soft and warm. He caught a whiff of another essence underlying the scent of the strong styling potions and the obvious flowery perfume she was wearing. Not quite believing the turn of events, his hands came up to grab her shoulders as he inhaled deeply again. He caught notes of the scent of the sea, dark chocolate and old parchment. Suddenly he wanted to fist the whole mass of her hair and just snort the essence into his lungs. It was the essence of his Amortentia. And it drove Tom crazy with need.
He cupped her face in his large hands and tilted it up. He met her glazed eyes and felt his control slip another notch. Angling her slightly, Tom touched Hermione’s slightly parted lips with his own and breathed her in. His eyes closed in ecstasy. His fingers burrowed further in her hair, dislodging pins and sticking charms. He pressed his body to hers, eager to feel her against himself. He heard his own moan and distantly a thought flitted through his preoccupied head that his behavior was not appropriate for the Hogwarts Library. He promptly chased away that thought with another whiff of the lovely Eau-De-Hermione.
Propriety could go fuck itself. Madame Rosemary the librarian, could hem and haw all she liked. This night, Tom would shamelessly partake in the heady feeling of being with his soulmate. And he was never letting her go!