[A/N: I updated sooner than i thought i would lol. Anyway this chapter has not been beta'd yet since i still cannot find a suitable beta-reader T___T I might have made a couple of mistakes which I promise to edit very soon!!! Thanks to all the people who reviewed! You guys are so awesome!]
FABULOUS chapter image by Jeanie of TDA
Her heart was beating loudly as she turned to face him. She can remember it clearly, the day when Professor Lupin entered the burrow; his face looked even more in sorrow, if that were even possible. It was the summer before they started their 7th year and they had already lost Bill and Charlie. Everyone dared not to mention their names nor the word ‘dead’.
It seemed to trigger Mrs. Weasley into a fit of uncontrollable sobs non-stop for 24 hours. When Lupin arrived, everyone knew he came bearing bad news with just one look at his sorrowful face. Hermione and Ginny already had tears in their eyes before he can even tell them who or what happened.
“Who…?” Arthur Weasley had asked quietly.
Professor Lupin faced Harry, Ron and her. He seemed to be choking back tears which made everyone even more frightened. He was never one to lose his composure easily. “They… the Deatheaters caught up... to him. I tried to find…. Tried to but… but I couldn’t” he kept shaking his head.
Harry stood up and walked towards Lupin, putting a hand on his shoulders.
Lupin continued. “We found his body in… in Hogsmeade. They seemed to have… tortured him before…” he couldn’t say the name.
“Who is it, Remus?” Molly asked, speaking again for the first time after months of silence in grief of his lost sons.
“I…” Lupin hung his head. “Hagrid”
No one could speak after that. No one had ever really thought anyone would be able to neither kill nor even harm Hagrid. He had always been so strong and burly.
Hermione felt as though one by one, people around her seemed to be taken away. She clutched Ron’s arm as she couldn’t handle the sob that was begging to break out. It took her months to be able to accept the fact that Hagrid was really gone. Coming back to school after that summer, she visited his hut often by herself, serving herself some tea and feeding Fang, sometimes crying to herself as she drank the tea.
Most of all, it was Harry that could not handle Hagrid’s death. He could not even bear to see Hagrid’s hut or anything that might remind him of Hagrid. Hagrid was, after all, the first person to have ever expressed kindness and friendship towards Harry.
She could not believe that she was standing in front of him now; alive and well. He was somewhat smaller and less bulky than the Hagrid she remembers. His shaggy black hair reached only to his shoulders and his beard has yet to have grown. His skin was less rough yet visibly thick and dirty.
She slowly approached him, her face still wet from her tears that could not stop falling. She felt as though a piece of her, no matter how small a piece it is, was somehow placed back inside of her. She had lost all hope that she would ever see her friend ever again but now there she was, standing in front of him.
“Hagrid” she whispered.
“Yeh, tha’s me o’right.” He said. “An’ who are yer?”
“I’m… I” she started but stopped. What was she supposed to say? What can she possibly say to him that would sound sane enough?
Hagrid examined her robes and his face suddenly changed. “Slytherin… Came to ruin my Cabbage patches?” his face was haughty.
Hermione shook her head slowly.
“Now why would there be reason for a Slytherin like yer to be hangin’ round my house” he asked. He stepped in closer to examine the face of the girl when finally, he noticed her tears. “Why yeh cryin’ for?”
Hermione quickly wiped her tears. “Nothing, I’m sorry” she laughed in embarrassment. “I’m new here and I got lost.”
“Where were you headin’ off to? It’s gettin’ dark.” His voice became softer though there was still a hint of suspicion in his voice. “Isnt it dinner back in the castle?”
“I didn’t feel like eating dinner and I just wanted to explore the grounds… I guess I got carried away” her voice was so quiet that he almost could not understand her.
“Are you ok?” he asked. “Didn’t mean to scare yeh.”
“No, no. I wasn’t scared…” she told him.
“How’d yeh know my name?” he asked.
“I heard from the students… they were talking about… about someone living down here”
Hagrid frowned upon hearing that the students were still gossiping about him. “The castle is that way.” He pointed. “Jus’ go straight and walk up those steps… an’ you’ll see the lights when yeh get up there”
Hagrid walked past her towards the door when Hermione spoke up, she wasn’t ready to let him out of her sight just yet. She might just break down. “Wait!”
Hagrid turned around.
“I haven’t introduced myself yet.” She said. “My name is Nerissa… Nerissa Vane” Hermione held up a hand.
Hagrid looked at it for a few seconds before saying, “My hands are dirty.”
“And my hands are wet” she told him with a small grin on her face. She thought she saw Hagrid smile before hesitantly shook her hand.
Hagrid blinked a few times. “Nerissa? The girl they found in the forest?”
Hermione smiled and nodded. “Yes that’s me.”
“Dumbledore mentioned you ter me. He thought I might have seen where you came from that night.” He said.
Hermione couldn’t control a shiver that went down her spine.
“Yeh best go back to the castle now, Nerissa” he said, noticing the shiver. “It’s gettin’ colder down ‘ere.”
“No, I’m fine” she told him quickly. “I’m ok, I can handle the cold.”
Hagrid looked at her awkwardly, not knowing what he should do next. He wasn’t used to anyone but Dumbledore or Ogg visiting his hut. “I suppose you can come in a bit ter get warm…if yeh want tha’ is” he added hastily.
Hermione smiled. “Thank you. I…I’d love that.”
Ten minutes later, Hagrid was serving her tea just like old times. She had tears in her eyes when she accepted the tea. She hastily drank from the cup and closed her eyes, savoring the taste that only Hagrid can make. “I thought I’d never be able to drink this ever again.” She said quietly.
“What’s tha’?” he asked.
Hermione smiled, “Nothing”
“I wonder…” Hagrid began. “I wonder how much yeh know about me.”
Hermione froze up. ‘Does he know? How could he?’ “What exactly do you mean by that?”
“The reason why I live down here.” He looked down at his big worn out shoes. “The reason why I was… expelled.”
“I do know” she nodded.
“Yeh know?” he asked, surprised. “Meh old friends… they’d be in 5th year by now… they all but forgot bout me cause wha’ happened. Are yeh sure you know?”
Hermione smiled sadly. “You were accused of setting off a bas—a monster in the school, right?”
“Then what are yeh still doin’ sitting inside my hut, drinkin’ my tea.” He inquired. “Aren’t yeh worried?”
“Funny… that’s exactly what Riddle said.” Hermione rolled her eyes, looking at her tea.
Hagrid darkened in hearing the name. “Riddle” he glowered. “What did he say?”
Hermione bit her lip. She didn’t mean to anger him. “It doesn’t matter what he said, Hagrid. Riddle is nothing but an arrogant toerag. I should shove his ‘Special Services to the School’ award up his arse.”
Hagrid smiled lightly. “First time I heard o’ anyone talkin’ about Tom tha’ way. Yeh really don’ like him.”
“I personally can’t begin to understand how people think he’s the epitome of brilliancy. How the Professors can be fooled by his ‘charm’ is beyond me.”
She looked up into Hagrid’s face. ‘Fifty years from now, Hagrid, he will be the cause of your death.’ She thought silently. ‘But don’t worry, that’s all going to change. I’ll make sure you’ll be able to live past 64”
“He was the one that told em all twas me. I guess I shouldnta blame him. He was jus’ protectin’ the school, is all.” He said, looking at the fire. Hearing the anger in Hermione’s voice, he began to reflect on his own anger towards Tom Riddle, thinking Tom had never meant any harm.
“No” Hermione cried. “How could you think that, Hagrid?! He accused you of something you never even did! How could anyone even believe him? Why would they even think you’re the Heir of Slytherin and you set off a monster in the school?”
It was a second before Hagrid was able to speak. “Yeh… yeh think I’m innocent?” he asked tearfully.
“I don’t think, Hagrid, I know you’re innocent.” She told him angrily.
Hagrid had tears in his eyes and said, “How could yeh? Tom... he… he told everyone about Aragog. Ev’ryone think ‘twas Aragog.”
“Aragog is an Acromantula, Hagrid. It is not possible for it to kill Myrtle in the way that she has been killed. And it certainly will not be able to petrify any muggleborns! It’s impossible!” Hermione almost yelled, completely overwhelmed by her emotions.
Hagrid nodded his head in agreement while letting his tears fall when he suddenly realized something. “Hang on, how’d yeh know ‘bout Aragog? How’d yeh know he’s wha’ he is?”
Hermione’s eyes widened as she realized she has said too much, yet again. “I— Riddle described it to me. I’m quite certain it is an Acromantula.”
Hagrid nodded again in understanding. After a few more moments of silence as Hagrid tried to compose himself, he said, “Thanks Nerissa. There aint nobody but Dumbledore tha’ believes in me”
Hermione smiled kindly to him. It had been such a long time since she had been able to smile without putting up pretense.
“I never met a Slytherin like yeh, Nerissa.” He said, honestly. “I wasn’t even sure to trust yeh at firs’”
“I understand.” She said quietly. “I’m not sure why I’m in Slytherin myself. The sorting hat wanted to put me in Gryffindor.”
“Did it? It woulda bin nice ter have yeh in Gryffindor. It suits you more, Feisty like yer are.” He beamed.
Hermione grinned back at him. “I would’ve liked that… but I guess there must be a purpose why the sorting hat decided to put me in Slytherin in the end.” She said, thinking about her plans.
She examined Hagrid’s face again, still not quite believing she was having this conversation with him.
“Is there somethin’ on me face?” he asked. “Course there is? There’s always somethin’ on me face” he laughed while wiping his face with a dirty cloth from the table.
Hermione laughed tenderly. “No, there’s nothing on your face, Hagrid. It’s just— You remind me of a very good friend of mine from back… home.”
“Is that so? Wha’s he like now?” he asked.
“He… he passed away last year.”
“Oh… I’m sorry ter hear that, Nerissa” he said awkwardly, embarrassed for asking.
“It’s ok, Hagrid.” She said in a silent voice. “He was very much like you. He was one of my best friends. He was very brave and even though he wasn’t very good with his spells, he was a brave and amazing fighter. He saved a lot of lives. He absolutely adored magical creatures that he even sometimes forgets how dangerous they are.”
“Magical creatures? Like what?”
“He once had a dragon” she laughed at the memory.
“A Dragon? Blimey, I’d love ter have a Dragon one day.” He said excitedly.
“He owned a Hippogriff, he took care of Blast-ended Skrewts and three headed dogs and he even owned an Acromantula!”
“An Acromantula? Jus’ like Aragog?” he asked, surprised. “Blimey, I’d ‘ave loved ter have met him.”
Hermione smiled sadly.
Hagrid realized what he said, “I’m so sorry, Nerissa. I’m sorry.”
Hermione laughed, “its ok Hagrid, Please, stop apologizing to me. I… I want to talk about him… it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to talk about him.”
Which was why she found herself describing each and every creature Hagrid had ever taken care of or shown in their Care of Magical Creatures class. Hagrid was amazed as he listened intently to Hermione’s stories about a guy, not knowing it was what he was to become.
Finally, Hagrid realized how late it was, worrying she would get into trouble. He apologized profusely for having kept Hermione so late.
As he walked her towards the castle doors, he said, “Yeh can come visit me up my hut anytime, Nerissa. Tha’ is, if you want ter. Ogg is out on a mission so at the mo’ I’m the temporary Game-keeper.” He seemed proud to bear the sole title to himself.
“I’d like that, Hagrid.” Hermione smiled.
“’Twas nice meeting yeh… an’ thanks again… for believing in me Nerissa”
“It’s nothing, Hagrid. I promise you; maybe it won’t be anytime soon but… I promise someday, they will all know the truth.”
Hagrid beamed at her tearfully before they both said their goodbyes. Hermione carefully opened the doors and silently made her way towards the common room. It was so late that there was not a single soul walking around the corridors.
Finally, she reached the common room. She sighed a relief when she saw that there was no one left in the common room. She didn’t want to answer any questions.
She carefully made her way towards the steps that led to the girl’s dormitory.
“I was almost convinced the oaf had eaten you alive” someone from behind her spoke in a quiet tone. “I was afraid I was going to have to wake the Headmaster.”
Hermione whipped around, “Call him an oaf one more time, Riddle, I swear to my grave I will break you limb by limb.”
Tom Riddle smirked, “That’s quite terrifying, I’m afraid I might have nightmares.” He
told her sarcastically.
“Who was it wanting to stop these petty arguments Riddle?” she whispered angrily. “Tell me, what is it that’s bothering you?”
“You keep defending Hagrid as if you know him very well. He killed a person! He released a monster in this school! He almost had this school closed! Why do you defend him so much? What is it you really want from Hagrid? Why do you even believe he was innocent? What is it that you know?”
“Aragog is an Acromantula, you filthy liar! You knew that! You know that spider would not have been able to kill in that way! You know it wasn’t Hagrid that released the stupid monster and yet you pointed your finger at him!”
Tom Riddle blinked in surprise. He released his hand that was gripping Hermione’s arm tightly. Both were not even aware that he was already hurting her.
Hermione looked at her arm that felt as though a bruise was threatening to come on. “Stop asking me questions, Riddle or I will start asking my own” Hermione hissed before running up the steps.
She admits that she was scared of what she has done. She just expressed knowledge about the truth behind what happened two years ago. What if this makes him retaliate? What if he somehow releases the basilisk on a private mission to kill her?
Yet she was somewhat satisfied in defending Hagrid against Voldemort along with talking to Hagrid for hours.
Though she was scared of what might happen tomorrow morning, she slept soundly that night after a long time, happy she was able to talk to an old friend.
Tom Riddle stood alone in the dark, still too stunned to move or speak. Yet again, Nerissa managed to completely stump him. He could not understand how she seemed to know just about everything. ‘That little know-it-all’.
Except, he was aware that she was more than just a know-it-all. Her knowledge of Tom Riddle is more than just what any seer can comprehend. He knew there must be something about her and no matter how hard it takes, he was bent on finding out what it was.
“Tom?” Abraxas Malfoy asked from above the steps of the boy’s dormitory. “What are you doing down there?”
Tom Riddle looked up at the girl’s dormitory one last time before heading towards his own dormitory. “Nothing important”
Abraxas nodded. “Interesting day, don’t you think?”
“How do say so?” he asked though was only partially interested.
“You seem to be taking interest in the new girl Tom.” He smirked.
“Compared to the interest you have shown her, Malfoy, it would seem as if I am completely oblivious to her existence.” He told him before walking ahead of him.
“You know me Tom” Abraxas laughed lightly. “So…why the sudden bond? Am I missing something?”
“You said so yourself Malfoy, she will become valuable to us someday. I’m afraid to admit it but you were right.” Tom said.
He didn’t need to tell him he was threatened by the girl’s existence. He didn’t need to tell him he felt the girl’s existence will bring about his downfall. He couldn’t even understand it himself why he thought this but his instincts were always right.
It would be easy to fool her. Did he not manage to fool the whole school all these years, making them think he was the charming, handsome and intelligent Tom Riddle they all think he was?
After he unravels the mystery that is Nerissa Felicia Vane, he will find the perfect opportunity to kill the girl once and for all. He smiled to himself satisfactorily.
Chapter 10 short preview:
“Vane, are you even listening to me?” said Tom, “I said we need to hurry. We’ll be late for dueling class.”
Hermione nodded before she was snapped back up from what he said, “Dueling class? What are you talking about? Are we having Dueling classes in History of Magic now?”
Tom sighed in annoyance, “This is why you’re not supposed to skip out on dinner, Vane. It was announced almost three days ago, we are to have dueling classes starting today.”
“What ever for?” Hermione asked. ‘The only person we need protection from is you…’
“Honestly Vane, don’t you even read the papers anymore?” Tom asked. He knew the answer. Every morning he would read the paper while Abraxas throw Hermione his flirting antics. Not once did she ask for her to borrow it. “Gellert Grindelwald, Vane, that’s what its for.”
Hermione tripped and fell flat on her face. 'Gellert Grindelwald?'
[a/n: I really really hope you guys leave a review.. please? It would most DEFINITELY make me update sooner lol maybe even in a week or two. ;-) ]
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