Thanks for all the support, and story ideas! Hope you enjoy this chapter, I'm trying to do weekly updates but with college starting back up soon we'll see how it goes.
Darkshadow-lord: Thanks, and yes, they all coexist in this story.
Hope you guys enjoy this chapter, I've done a lot of research about how Riddle became evil due to the lack of love in his life. So I wanted to see if he could be different with brotherly love by his side. If I get something wrong let me know, I'll go back and fix it. Thanks!
Chapter Two: Memories
"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart."
― Haruki Murakami
12 December 1937
Wool's Orphanage, London
"Where is the boy?" A younger looking Dumbledore asked, pressing closer inside the dreary halls.
The woman guided him to a cracked door, she didn't dare step through as she stood five feet away; arms pulled behind her back. "The boys are inside, take as long as you need," She whispered underneath her breath, passing the wizard with a sigh. "…take them with you, please,"
"Both…?" Albus gaped, letting his hands fall to his side. "Intriguing, brothers I presume?" He asked, looking between the two eleven-year-old boys sitting on one dusty mattress.
The first one, jet black hair, pointed his dark empty eyes in the headmaster's direction. His short hair was brushed back, slicked with gel. He wore a simple white shirt, blue tie tucked inside his black blazer, and black pants rolled up at his ankles.
The second brother seemed apprehensive, looking warily at the older man. His hair was a dark ginger, blue eyes shifting back and forth nervously. He wore a simple green dress shirt, black slacks, and dark dress shoes. He tucked in closer to the brother, they seemed to be the same age.
"Who are you?" Always the brave one, the black-haired boy stood protectively in front of his brother. "We told you, it's either both of us or neither," He spoke calmly, almost impassive, but his voice was hard; demanding and sure.
Dumbledore smiled, holding his hands up to show no harm. "I'm not here to take you two, unless you want me to," He dropped his arms, placing them behind his back. "What are your names? I was told there was only one,"
"Tom and Wendell Riddle," Tom, the dark-haired boy, said gesturing to him and his brother. "…are you the doctor?"
Dumbledore shook his head, smiling softly. "No, I'm a professor,"
Tom remained impassive, his brother peeked his head over his shoulder at the mention however. "…I don't believe you," Tom said, looking out towards the window. "She wants me looked at. They think I'm different,"
"There's nothing wrong with him," Wendell spoke, voice shaky and light. "All those fights, Tom was only protecting me!"
Albus nodded. "Are you different as well?"
Wendell looked over at his brother before giving a nod to the professor. "…but I'm not as strong as he is, but he teaches me, looks after me."
"Are you two twins?" Dumbledore found himself asking, he grinned when each boy gave a solid head nod of approval. "I have an opportunity for you boys. At Hogwarts—"
Tom interrupted him. "We're not mad, we don't need to go to a facility."
"Hogwarts isn't a place for mad people," Albus quickly informed him. "It's a school of magic," Tom frowned before a look of interest formed over his face. "You each can do things, can't you? Things other children can't?"
"I can make things move without touching them," Wendell confessed, looking spooked as he shifted his gaze to the floor.
Tom, eyes far away, spoke. "…I can make animals do what I want without training them," Dumbledore smiled, opening his mouth but closing it as the boy continued. "I can make bad things happened to people who are mean to my brother, and I. Could make them hurt…if I want," His patience had stretched thin. "Who are you?"
"I'm like you two, I'm different," Albus replied calmly.
Tom frowned. "Prove it."
Without blinking an eye, Dumbledore caused the wardrobe to catch fire. He took notice of the shock, quickly turning to glee, spreading across Tom's face. The frightened look washing over Wendell allowed him to see just how different the brothers were.
"At Hogwarts you will be taught not only how to use magic, but how to control it," Dumbledore said, rising to his feet as he vanished the fire with the flick of a hand. "…do you understand?" When Tom nodded, he shifted his gaze to Wendell who offered a shaky nod as he gulped. "Good, I hope to hear from you boys very soon."
Tom spoke up before the professor could walk through the door. "I can speak to snakes too," Dumbledore paused, looking over his shoulder once more. "They find me…whisper things. Is that normal for someone like me?"
Albus gaped, looking between the two brothers. From a curious Tom, to a frightened Wendell.
A gasp for air left Harry's mouth as he emerged from the memory, he looked at the older wizard. "A brother? He has a brother, since when?" He demanded, outraged that it was his first time finding out.
"His brother dropped out of Hogwarts his fifth year, for reasons I do not know," Dumbledore replied calmly, only causing Harry to bristle even more. "I tried to get in contact with him, but he was no where to be found. We have reasons to believe he changed his name, to live a new life within the muggle world."
"Muggles…" Harry shook his head, if the headmaster kept this from him who knows what else he could be hiding. "Did you know Sir, then?"
"Did I know that I had just met the most dangerous dark wizard of all time?" Dumbledore frowned, feeling like he was being accused. "No." He looked over at the remaining memories. "…this memory isn't the one we should concern over," Dumbledore gave him a look.
"I'm working on it," Harry scratched his head. "I'm going to meet with Slughorn later today, Hermione and I have a plan."
The headmaster nodded his approval. "Very well,"
"…shouldn't we be worried about his brother?" Harry asked. "If we find him then maybe we'll be one step closer to getting answers on how to stop Riddle. From this memory, it seems like he at least cared for his brother very much. We can use this—"
Dumbledore shook his head. "It's impossible, his brother has been hiding for years; if I couldn't find him before when he was sixteen, then I surely can't find him now. Maybe it's for the best,"
"The best?" Harry frowned, surprised at how fast the older man was dismissing this. "That monster has a brother, who could very well be just as destructive as he is! He may even have children who he has trained, maybe they're in Hogwarts—"
"Enough. I know Wendell," Dumbledore defended, put off by the boy's anger. "He was never interested in the pull of magic, you saw it; he was frightened by what he could do. He wants no part in it, maybe that's why he left."
Harry sighed, clutching his fists together. "What if he has a child who goes here? Good or evil, they can give us some answers."
Dumbledore laughed. "Believe me, if Wendell's child were attending my school I'd know it." He paused. "That's saying, if he even had a child."
"It's possible," Harry mumbled, thinking to himself.
It could be anyone.
The half blood disguised as a muggle turned around, raising a brow. "Andy, to what do I owe the pleasure," She asked, dropping her book in her lap.
Hermione had decided to take a stroll along the grounds of the school to clear her mind. After she and Harry had come up with a plan for Slughorn, with no help from Ron, she had left to wander as Harry sook out Dumbledore.
She left the dark arts book under her bed, still not sure what she should do with it. There was no way she could use it. She already had enough demons to deal with, she didn't need to create anymore. Besides, using the book, it's what her uncle would have wanted.
"What are you reading, Dealing with Temptation?" Andy made a face, her reading selection was extremely muggle this evening. "Bella—"
Hermione made a face, disgusted. "What, no! This book has nothing to do with any subconscious feelings I'm trying to understand, or how to keep my emotions in check while I'm around her." The book was supposed to help give her insight on what to do with her uncle's gift, but she couldn't tell her friend that.
Andy gave her a look, amused. "Uhm, I wasn't even going there. I was just going to tell you that Bella is on my trail, with Ted, and I'm going to need you to lie about tutoring me tonight. We're going on a date to—no, you know what? Let's talk about this theory of yours,"
"N-never mind," Hermione stuttered, face catching fire as she hides her face in her book. "I'll lie for you, of course…why do you think she's on your trail?" She asked trying to stir the conversation.
Andy chuckled, giving her friend a break just because she was helping her out.
Hermione has been lying about being an alibi for Andy since the younger began seeing the muggle her third year. Knowing Bellatrix, with her fury towards muggles, she would never approve of her sister's choice. Not that Andy cared what people thought. She loved Ted, and no one could change her mind.
But her parents could choose to sign a marriage agreement with the Malfoys if she gave them a reason to. Only Bellatrix was expected in an arranged marriage with the Lestrange's, but everything could change if her parents realized her plans to run away with the muggle once they graduate.
She feared if Bella might be cruel enough to tell their parents.
"She came up to me two days ago, after the game I left with Ted to Hogsmeade, and I got back a lot later than usually." Andy made a face at the memory. "When I got in she was waiting for me in my room. I've never seen her so shaken, demanding what I've been up to and who I was with! If I didn't know any better I'd think she'd care,"
Andy shook her head, crossing her arms. "I had to lie about passing out in the library from all the practice problems you gave me,"
"Honestly?" Hermione groaned. "Now she's going to bark at me for keeping you out late," She was irritated, but figured it was her burden to pay since it was her and Harry's fault Bellatrix was behaving like this.
"Sorry," Andy said sheepishly, truly apologetic.
"It's fine, I'll cover for you," Hermione ran a hand through her locks. "Harry, Ron, and I will be working on something tonight anyway, so Bellatrix won't be able to find us and demand I tell you where she is."
Andy felt relieved. "Thank you,"
Hermione stood up from the grass she was resting on, closing her book. "Don't mention it, just enjoy your time with Ted," She placed her book into her bag before smiling softly at the pureblood. "I'll see you tomorrow for our real study session?"
"Of course, thanks again," Andy said, forever grateful.
Hermione nodded. "Don't mention it,"
With that she set off towards the school. She and Harry had to hurry up and catch Narcisa before Bellatrix got involved in something dangerous.
Not that she cared what happened to the brutal witch. She just didn't want her uncle to recruit another skilled witch for his cause. Bellatrix was one of the most talented in their year, she would prove an asset. Which makes her question why her uncle didn't seek her out.
Did the witch refuse him? Or was he playing at a different angle?
Hermione groaned, she needed to get answers before it was too late. But first, she had to check up on Ron; after the love potion incident, and his awkward break up with Lavender, he has been out of sorts.
She just wanted to check to see if he was adjusting well. Then she'd get some answers.
10 June 1943
Hogwarts, Gryffindor Tower
"You can't be serious," A sixteen-year-old Tom Riddle, in his fifth year, scoffed, arms crossed as he observed his brother as he packed his bags with his wand. "We finally find a place where they can teach us how to control our magic, and you don't want any part of it?"
He didn't understand.
Wendell shook his head, rising to his full height as he stood two feet taller than his brother. "You know I've never cared about my abilities, I just wanted to make sure you had a place to be free. And now you do," He sighed, running a hand through his short rugged red facial hair. "Now I need to find where I belong,"
Tom groaned. "Were you not listening to what I told you?"
"I was, that's the problem," Wendell frowned, crossing his arms with a sigh. "You found out our grandfather Marvolo, who we've never met, relates to Salazar Slytherin—found a way to enter the Chamber of Secrets, and tamed a giant snake. How does any of this include or have meaning for me?"
"For the brightest wizard of his age, you sure are draft," Tom barked, walking closer to his lost brother. "I tamed the Basilisk, so we can put our plans to action."
Wendell shook his head; his brothers plan was mental and devious; he didn't know what was happening to him lately. "…I don't want to be an immortal all powerful wizard, Tom. I barely care for being a regular wizard, I just want to live a simple life; with a wife, maybe a kid?" He smiled softly despite his brother's look of disgust.
"I just found out that you and I are the heirs of Slytherin, and you just want to walk away to live a muggle life?" Tom snarled.
Wendell licked his lips, never once had he been terrified of his brother; and he wouldn't start now. "…I didn't say muggle, I said simple. Without heirs, or Basilisk, or whatever else you have planned," He confessed.
"Someone has to finish his work," Tom mumbled, dark eyes glaring at his brother. "…purge the school of all those who are unworthy to study magic—"
Wendell shook his head, when had his brother fallen so low; and why could he save him? "Now you want to cause a muggle genocide? It's like I don't even recognize you anymore."
"…I could say the same to you." Tom placed a hand on his brother's shoulder, sighing with relief when he didn't flinch away like others. "Our pathetic father, a filthy muggle, abandoned us when we were children—"
Wendell scoffed. "It doesn't give you the right to kill innocent muggles who have done nothing to you!" He took in a deep breath. "…I don't want to be a part of your plan, but I do want us to stay in contact with each other." He handed his brother a piece of paper with a number written on it. "I'm going into hiding, to make a new life for myself. You call me whenever you need me, and once I'm settled in I'll reach out to you."
He grabbed his bags and headed for the fireplace, tossing Floo power inside. "…you're my brother, and nothing will change that, and I still want you in my life." Wendell shrugged, looking around his home. "I think we both knew we wouldn't be together long the moment I got placed in Gryffindor."
"…stupid hat," Tom managed a snort, he couldn't stop the small grin from reaching his lips. "Well, it can't be that stupid. I mean, you are leaving all this behind seems like something a Gryffindor would do anyway," He gave his brother a serious look. "Be safe,"
I hope you find what you're looking for, he thought.
Wendell gave him his signature crooked grin, walking backward into the fire. "I will—and just, think about what you're doing before you do something rash. Please,"
"I will," Tom said, waving as his brother disappeared within the flames.
True to his promise, Riddle thought about what he would be doing in the new few days. Setting the Basilisk free, to seek out unworthy muggles, and getting one step closer to fulfilling his ancestor's goals.
After that, it was only just the beginning.
Bellatrix pulled her sister aside before she could approach the waiting Lucius Malfoy. "Cissy, a word,"
"Hold on," Her little sister told the blonde boy, he sighed before leaving the classroom to give them a moment. "Bella, what's wrong?" She ran a hand through her blonde locks, sighing. "Sorry to hear about the match."
Bella paused, looking over her shoulder at her unsuspecting sister. "…so, you weren't watching then? I heard you from a few people that you wandered off halfway."
Cissy nodded, playing with her fingers; a nervous tick. "Mhm, you know I don't have much interest for Quidditch,"
"Where did you go then?" She asked, right to the point. "With Lucius somewhere? I heard he was missing at the same time as you,"
Cissy frowned. "Look, I just wanted to get some sleep, I've been exhausted lately—"
"Too tired from your visits to see the Tom Riddle?" Bella dared, black eyes glaring at her little sister, furious.
Cissy stumbled over her words, looking around the empty room before looking at her older sister, red in the face. "Damn it, keep your voice down! What if someone had heard you—"
"You're shitting me? Piss Potter was right?" Bella scoffed, tugging at her silky dark locks. "Cissy, are you stupid? You know better than this—I don't even know what this is, what were you thinking? Getting involved in a war! Why would you do this?"
"Because for once, I'm the chosen one! He needs me, and trusts me to deliver," Cissy hissed, stomping her foot like the child she was.
Bella snorted, raising an unimpressed brow. "So, you're going to kill Dumbledore then, hmm?"
"Y-yes," Cissy declared. "He trusts me."
Bella shook her head. "I can't believe you're caught up in this, nonsense."
"You hate muggles more than anybody! Why aren't you on our side?" Her sister asked, arms crossed.
The eldest shook her head. "Because none of this concerns me, I don't want to get caught up in some stupid war. I'm this close to graduating from this dump," She crossed her arms. "Do mother and father know—seriously?"
"He came to me about it," Cissy said, gleeful. "They have never been so thrilled. So proud of me," She whispered softly.
Bella paused, thinking. "…why didn't the git reach out to me? I'm the oldest, best duelist, he'd be crazy to over look me. Even Andy would have been a better choice than you," She laughed. "I can't believe I thought she'd have something to do with this…she isn't the type." Her sister has a soft spot for muggles.
Even though Bella thought it was disgraceful, she knew her sister would never do anything to shame their families name.
"Maybe he sees something in me," Cissy defended.
Bella raised an eyebrow. "I bet he took you in, made you feel all special, and gave you the all so important task of killing Dumbledore," She stepped closer, taking in her sisters bristled appearance. "Then he so nicely suggested you try reaching out to your sisters, see if they'd join. He knows Andy would probably turn him down, and I'd laugh in his face,"
The dark lord knew Bellatrix didn't care about anything, but her sisters. So, he used her baby sister, feed on her insecurities, and taunted Bellatrix out of hiding. He wanted her to act. To join the cause just to keep an eye on Cissy.
It wouldn't work.
But that didn't mean she wouldn't have a few words with him.
"…I want to meet him."
Cissy gasped, almost falling over in shock. "W-what, you can't just—"
"Save it, I already know he's expecting me," Bella demanded, turning for the door as she walked out. "We leave tonight." Was all she said.
Leaving her little sister alone in the room, shocked, terrified, and furious.
"Okay, you know the plan, Harry," Hermione said from where she was sitting on the floor, looking up at her friend on the couch in front of her. "You're going to Professor Slughorn's office, he should be there for his office hours,"
"Right," Harry nodded, holding up the Liquid Luck from class. "Here we go, time to get some answers." He chugged the vial in one go, taking a deep breath as the affects washed over him.
Ron frowned. "How do you feel, mate?"
"Excellent," Harry opened his eyes, bright and exploring, as he straightened his back. "Really excellent," He leaped up to leave, causing his friends to stumble to their feet and follow.
Hermione nodded. "You know the plan, you're going to Slughorn's office—"
"Right," Harry turned around to face them, grinning. "I'm going to Hagrid's," He said, fixing his glasses before turning around to leave once more.
She and Ron exchanged terrified looks, concerned. "Harry, we have a plan!" She called out to him.
"I know!" Harry nearly bumped into her as he twirled back around, excited. "I just—I have a feeling, a great feeling about Hagrid's—I feel like it's the place to be tonight—do you know what I mean?" He asked, eyes wide with glee.
"No…" She and Ron replied, simultaneously.
Harry nodded, walking backwards as he reassured them. "Well, trust me, I know what I'm doing—or, Felix does!" They watched as he speed-walked to the door, letting out a loud "Hi!" to the person passing him.
"Should we be worried?" Ron asked her.
Hermione shook her head. "…no, he'll be fine," She caught the clock, sucking her teeth. "I should get going,"
"Where to?" Ron asked, a frown lacing his features.
She licked her lips, lying easily. "Library," She replied gaining a soft smile from him. "Harry wants me to consider finding out who the Half Blood Prince is," Hermione tugged her bag up to her shoulder. "I know how much you hate researching, so I won't ask you to join me,"
"I hate researching, not your company," He said softly, causing guilt to wash over her. "…I'm sorry about the whole Lavender thing, I was such a jerk to you and I want to make it up to you."
Hermione placed a hand on his arm. "You can make it up to me by just being my friend," She said softly but surely, hinting that it was all she wanted now. "…I'll see you later?"
"Sure," He said brokenly, turning his back to her as she left.
Hermione groaned, trying to push away his hurt expression, and fought the part of her mind telling her to go back. She had bigger things to worry about than her pointless love life.
If her research is correct, Narcissa should be leaving to sneak off Hogwarts grounds in exactly twenty minutes. Just enough time for her to follow close behind to see what she was up to.
She knew Harry told her to stay away, but it was something she had to do, it was her biggest flaw.
Her desire to seek knowledge despite the dangers.
July 1981, London
An older looking man with short red hair, a scruffy red beard, and blue eyes looked at the hooded figure before him. The man crossed his arms, trying to prevent them from shaking as the intense dark magic called out to him.
"Tom," He mumbled, narrowing his gaze to his brother.
"Wendall," The figure spoke, voice sounding eerie.
His brother laughed softly, shaking his head. "…actually, I go by Keith now. Keith Granger," He paused. "So, you've managed to start a whole Wizarding War, I've heard, and you've been busy getting your hands dirty. Killing innocent muggles," He frowned. "Are you here to do the same?"
Tom remained silent for a moment, before shaking his head. "You're the only family I have left, you think I would get rid of my brother and his useless muggle wife—"
"Watch it—" Keith began.
"—who I must accept as my sister in law," He finished with a chuckle. "Have some faith in me, brother, I would never hurt you unless you gave me good reason."
Keith tensed up at the sound of soft feet running across the hard wood floor. With a glance at the clock, reading 12:45, he assumed she would be sleep by now. His wife, Monica, was out on business and wouldn't return until Sunday night so there was only one culprit.
"Daddy," A soft, angelic voice reached him before he felt a tiny hand tug on his pants leg. "Mommy?" The three-year-old asked, bright brown eyes looking up at him; waiting for him to pick her up.
"Mommy is still at work, she'll be back soon," Keith picked his daughter up with ease, smiling. "You should be in bed,"
Tom swallowed. "Is that?" He sighed, wistful, as his brother nodded. "My niece, may I hold her?"
Keith couldn't help the way his heart sped up, his mind telling him no, even as he gave a nod. "Wait, can you do something about—" He trailed off, motioning to his brothers face.
Tom waved a hand over himself before shoving the hood off, black eyes bright with glee. Instead of the pale white face, destroyed by Horcruxes, he transfigured his appearance to the person he used to be at Hogwarts. It was almost as if his brother were the same boy who lit up at the sight of Dumbledore performing magic for them at the orphanage.
"Hello little one, I'm your Uncle Tom," He held the brown-haired child with ease, grinning as she reached out for his cloak. "…what's her name?" Tom asked, placing the child on his hip.
Keith smiled. "Hermione Jean Granger,"
"Hmm," He hummed, handing his niece over despite how much he wanted to hold on; but he didn't have much time. "She doesn't know she's a half-blood yet, but when she does you better train her to be fierce," There was a gleam in his eyes, one Keith didn't like.
"…if she wants to attend Hogwarts I won't stop her," He mumbled. "But everyone must think she is a muggle, if they discover me—"
Tom nodded. "They will trace you back to me," He hated the thought of his flesh and blood being treated as filth, but knew they couldn't risk it. "Fine…I came to tell you that I won't be back for a long time, but I'll be watching over you—watching my niece grow into a powerful witch."
"We'll be here," Keith managed, hugging his sleepy daughter close as she dozed off. "Be safe Tom,"
Riddle nodded, looking at his niece once more. "I will brother," He pulled his hood back up. "Sweet dreams, Hermione," Then he apparated from the spot; he was mindful to use a silencing charm for Hermione's sake.
Keith swallowed, walking on shaky feet to his daughter's room. He had never feared his brother, that's what he told himself during the day of his disappearance from Hogwarts.
It all changed that one night his brother sent him an Owl, a letter during his sixth year about Professor Slughorn telling him about Horcruxes. And his plan to create seven of them…seven!
The very notion of splitting his soul by killing people, allowed Keith to see just how dark of a road his brother was crossing.
And he feared his love wouldn't be enough to stop him.
Hermione followed Narcissa and Bellatrix, a tolerable distance away from them as she hides herself with Harry's cloak. He had let her borrow it when she claimed she needed it to do research in the library after hours. She used it for that excuse from time to time, or to sneak off campus like the two sisters were doing as they entered Diagon Alley.
She was put off when she saw Bellatrix with her sister. Hermione had her suspicions but two nights ago, the witch seemed like she didn't know what her sister was up to. Was she lying to them? Or maybe it wasn't what it seemed like, they could just be sneaking out to get a drink or something.
It's what she wanted to believe, but as the store Borgin & Burkes came into view, she knew all her hope had been smashed.
"In here," Narcissa whispered, opening the door for her sister, letting it fall shut slowly as she used her wand to close all the blinds and hit the lights.
Hermione barely managed to slip inside before the door shut.
Bellatrix looked around, wand ready as she kept her guard up. "Well, where is he?"
"Patience is a virtue, young Bellatrix," A voice hissed, Hermione shifted nervously as her uncle walked out of the shadows to reveal himself; a smirk on his lips, interest flicking though his eyes. "Your sister has told me much about you, Bella—can I call you Bella," Hermione knew it wasn't a true question, more of a demand.
Bella swallowed, looking at her sister fawn over the dark lord. "I came to tell you I won't be having any involvement in your plans, and to leave my sister alone." Hermione had to commend her for her bravery, it resembled that of a Gryffindor; but the head held high was all Slytherin.
"Your sister can make her own decisions, and she already has, I chose her for her desire to please," Tom said, looking over at the youngest. "Narcissa, leave us, I would like a word with your sister. Try to let her see reason,"
Narcissa seemed wary, glancing over at Bella who kept her eyes glued to the man. "…I'll meet you back at the castle," She whispered, making her way out of the store with one more fleeting look.
Narcissa was nervous. Hermione didn't know if it be for fear of her sister, or fear of the dark lord accepting her sister into his army.
Tom waited for the door to shut before his cold eyes turned in her direction, Hermione felt her heart speed up as her uncle starred at her. "You can come out now, Hermione,"
"What?" She flinched as Bellatrix hissed, turning her wrathful glare behind her; looking around for the culprit. "Where are you, you filthy—"
Tom growled, voice booming as he addressed the oldest Black. "You will hold your tongue when referring to my niece with such disrespect!"
Hermione gulped, remaining under the cloak. She had never seen her uncle so furious, especially when it was concerning her and how people spoke about her. When she was younger her uncle always expressed his disgust in letting others believe her to be a muggle.
Despising her father for making such a cowardly decision.
"N-niece, no, wh-what—" Bellatrix fell over her words, backing away as Hermione walked past her under the cloak and drew closer to the wizard.
Hermione sighed, pulling it from her head, looking up defiantly. "…how did you know I was here?" Her voice caused Bella to jump, knocking down a few books as she cursed.
"Don't do that!" She held a hand to her chest, looking frantic.
Tom placed a hand on her shoulder, grinning. "I knew you would make the right choice,"
"I'm still not joining you," She said, gently removing his hand, pointedly ignoring Bellatrix's shocked expression. "I was just following Bellatrix to see where her loyalties lie,"
Bella growled, snapping out of her shock. "I think you're the one who should be examined for loyalties!"
Hermione fixed her with a glare. "You don't know me so—"
"Apparently not!" Bella threw her hands up, face red with fury, confusion, and hurt? "For years, I thought you were a muggle, you let us all believe it! Let me call you those names—"
Hermione shifted in her spot, looking at the floor. "I didn't want anyone to know, it would put my family in danger, and people would treat me differently…" She shut her mouth as she felt an apology begin to fall out.
Why would she apologize to Bellatrix, she has done nothing wrong, right?
Then why does she feel so bad?
"You should have told me," Bella replied after a moment of silence, expressionless.
Tom snorted, having watched the two witches bicker with an amused expression. "Are you two finished with your lover's rift?" He kept talking as they tried to argue against it with red faces. "I have a mission for you two—"
"Mission, what, have you not been listening? We're not joining," Hermione growled, unconsciously stepping in front of Bella, wand in hand. "I'm pretty sure we were both clear."
Tom shook his head. "I'm growing impatient, Hermione, I told you the time would come for you to make a choice. Tomorrow, you will need to pick a side."
"…" She swallowed, eyes hard with concern for Dumbledore. "What happens tomorrow?"
"The war begins," He hissed, stepping back into the shadows. "And I promise, if you get in my way, family or not, I will not hesitate to rid you from the world. Or maybe I'll pay my sister in law a long-awaited visit,"
"Leave my mother alone!" Hermione barked, fear tugging at her heart.
Tom laughed, vanishing as he spoke his last words. "Then stay out of my way or join me."
Hermione let out a furious roar, her restrained magic leaking out as her emotions took control. Bellatrix flinched as all the windows in the shop smashed, books flying to the floor, and a mini earth shake rattled the building.
She knew, from personal experience, that she should let the witch get it out of her system before they returned to the school.
It wasn't good to keep it all locked inside.
Bellatrix bit her tongue. It has been thirty minutes since the shocking reveal of Granger's true nature, and who she was related to. She had so many questions, she wanted to punish the witch for keeping such a thing to herself…so much time had been wasted. Time tormenting her for being a muggle when truly, Hermione was worthy of so much more than she expected.
It changed everything.
"Are you going to tell me what that stunt was about?" Bella found her voice, catching up to the fast walking witch as they stopped right before entering the school.
Hermione finally turned to her, face white. "…there's nothing to say. Something terrible is going to happen to Dumbledore tomorrow but I can't warn him because Tom will go after my family," She shrugged, getting ready to put the cloak back on. "Now, we go our separate ways."
"Are you insane?" Bella frowned. "There is—everything is just, too much right now. You've lied to your friends about who you are, you could be a death eater for all I—" She let out a gasp as Hermione slammed her into the door, glaring at her with haunted brown orbs.
"Don't you, ever, doubt my loyalty to my friends. I love Harry and Ron like brothers, their family has been family to me, and I would never betray them," Hermione declared, loosening her grip on Bella's collar as she sighed. "…my uncle is just very persistent." She looked away. "I'm sorry for following you, getting you into this mess,"
Even though Cissy got her into this mess, she accepted the apology. "You're of noble blood, all this time. You have Slytherin blood running through your veins," Bella said, in awe.
"No," Hermione snorted, dropping her hand from the witch's collar. "I am very much a courageous Gryffindor…I get to decide what I want to be, not my uncle, and definitely not my blood." Being a muggle was less complicated, she enjoyed it. "Nothing defines what I have to be, except for me,"
"…but you're not a muggle like I thought you were," Bella looked down at Hermione's parted lips. "It changes everything," She said, lifting her black eyes up to gaze into soft brown.
"It changes nothing." Hermione shook her head sadly, deflating as she saw the desire twirling through black orbs.
Without another word, she tugged the cloak over her and breezed into the school. Bellatrix could find her own way back without being spotted after hours. She didn't even try to convince the witch to keep her secret safe from her friends.
She had a feeling the dark witch liked having a secret of Hermione's that not one else had.
One that belonged to only her.