So, having been a Tomione writer for some time, I feel semi-qualified to make this post. I’ve put significant amounts of thought into the cognition behind Tomione, anyway.
I know it’s easy to write Tomione off as a terrible crackship, but I believe it actually has a good amount of potential validity. The key is in how it’s handled.
So here’s a flow chart:
Tom meets Hermione —->
Tom hates Hermione —->
Hermione insists on being kind/open to Tom despite initial reservations —->
Tom accepts Hermione’s kindness and falls in love.
The hard thing about Tomione - and the reason its fics are often so heinously long - is because it takes WAY MORE STEPS THAN THIS.
Our obvious roadblock is that Tom Marvolo Riddle is not a nice human being. I don’t think he’s an inherently bad human being, necessarily, because a lot of his characterizations are sympathetic. But he’s riddled (heh) with fear and hatred. He’s bitter, hard-hearted, and alienated. And where a lot of people get lost is in the fact that he’s also dead narcissistic, ambitious without limit, cruelly and unapologetically manipulative, and he cares nothing for the pain of others. These are the super-unsympathetic traits in Tom, and ignoring them just isn’t going to work. Luckily - and this is why I ship them! - I feel like Hermione has the traits to make a Tom romance ignite. Given that, here’s how the chart should really look. Or something like it, whatever. Of course there’s no single correct path. But here’s a possible avenue, and note how convoluted it is:
Tom meets Hermione —->
Tom and Hermione fall into instant and mutual hatred —->
Circumstantially, one becomes intrigued by the other —->
An intellectual pursuit occurs —->
Hermione still hates Tom on a moral and personal level, but is drawn in by his intelligence —->
Tom needs Hermione for a higher purpose; he thus keeps her around (otherwise he would kill her) —->
Hermione becomes psychologically intrigued in a watching-a-train-wreck-happen kinda way —->
Tom manipulates her through the interest she has in him; attempts to get her to do his bidding —->
Hermione figures out his plot, shoots it down. Ouch - right in the narcissism. —->
Tom suffers through rage and humiliation at someone having harmed his elevated self-image —->
Hermione persists with contact in pursuit of some knowledge or information or ability that Tom possesses —->
As the resentment wears off, Tom grudgingly comes to acknowledge Hermione as a formidable mind and thus useful in the long-term (goodbye, killing option) —->
and meanwhile, Hermione comes to enjoy the clash against an intellect equal to hers —->
From there, we have two paths. The Redemptive track (my personal choice), wherein Tom reveals an actual sense of humanity, however small it is. Hermione then hacks away at that chink in his armor until either he loves or simply comes to need her.
OR we have the (admittedly more realistic) Other Path, in which the power struggle continues. Hermione will not bow to Tom’s need for complete control. And he, in his turn, will not relinquish his sense of superiority for a mere girl. So they’re locked in an ever-changing cycle of attack and defense, pursue and evade. Hermione will reach an intellectual nirvana, the cerebral self-actualization she never really found in the books. (<—- To an extent, all this stuff will probably happen in the Redemptive track, too - the chief difference should be this:) In the Other Path, Tom’s attraction to and desire for domination over Hermione might well turn sexual, but never romantic. Both paths can be valid, if written well. But Tom is not, and will never be, nice.
Anyway, this is the type of twisted character/relationship arc I expect from Tomione. For Redemptive writers, the place to turn is the fear and hatred section of Tom’s mind. Playing on his bitterness and alienation would be more the Dramione realm of things; if it’s too heavy in that area, it won’t feel like Tom. Draco has a lot of things going on - societal, familial, lack of enough bravery to forge his own route, etc. - but Tom is actually rather single-minded. At his core, he is driven by the utter terror of death, and it will make him do anything. Anything at all. That’s a key thing to have Hermione realize if any sort of redemption is going to work, because for her to introduce love into his existence, or dependency, she really needs to understand him. She needs to get to the root of that fear and nurse it. But Hermione is also an incredibly righteous and sometimes vitriolic character, which means she won’t be all sympathy-rainbows-and-butterflies. She’s got a dead-on moral compass and a thirst for justice, and she won’t be afraid to try and strike him down when he does evil shit.
Gah, there are just so many potential layers to the conflict between the two - and the common tie is always, always the intellectual magnetism. That’s why this is my OTP. God, it makes for tension in a snap. From the initial, shallow conflict, where she realizes “holy shit it’s voldy, I should kill this dude,” and he realizes “ew muggle-born, kill her with fire” … from that first layer, we can dig down and down and down through all types of acquaintance and fascination and interaction, a deep progression into the worst realms of the human psyche and - if you’re a fan of redemption - a possible way to grapple your way out of those depths. GOD I LOVE IT.
welp that’s it for me