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conflict and conspiracy by petitesorciere

Format: Novella
Chapters: 13
Word Count: 52,768
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Voldemort, Draco
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 08/13/2007
Last Chapter: 10/20/2007
Last Updated: 10/20/2007

Summary:



What if the Order of the Phoenix had persuaded Hogwarts to allow Draco Malfoy to come back to school so that they could follow him and try and get more information on the Deatheaters? And Hermione was the one who had to try and get closer to him? Conspiracies and conflict abound. Amazing banner by Lil Lily 71


Chapter 1: Chapter One
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Hogwarts rose out of the horizon as Hermione stared out of the carriage window. Everything had changed so much in her life, but the castle still looked the same as it always had. She sighed. What were you expecting Mione? Life moves on. Get a grip.



Harry and Ron pushed into the carriage, their faces grim. ‘’He’s here, Mione.’’



‘’So it worked? They managed to get him back without that much fuss?’’ She asked, staring up at them with wide eyes.



‘’Yeah, and he’s wandering around like he owns the place, as per bloody usual.’’ Ron spat. ‘’I mean, I know that he has to be here, but honestly…’’



Before Hermione could answer him, the door opened and a smirking face glared in at them. Speak of the devil and he’ll appear Hermione thought, wishing that she could rip every single one of his blonde hairs off his head.



‘’Weasel. Potty. Mudblood.’’ Malfoy mock-bowed to each of them in turn, smirking all the while. ‘’Didn’t think that you lot would be coming back now that your precious Dumbledore’s dead.’’



Hermione stared at the hateful smirk on his face. Doesn’t he realise that everyone is gossiping about him? Saying that he’s a Deatheater and that he was the one who killed Dumbledore! Suddenly she realised that her two friends had leapt to their feet, pulling out their wands but the door had already slammed shut and Malfoy was gone. Ron shoved his wand back into the pocket of his robes, and inhaled deeply.



Harry sighed as well. ‘’I honestly never thought that I would be letting Malfoy wander away from me after what he did.’’




Hermione grimaced. ‘’Harry, we have to put up with him. We’ll get him in the end, don’t worry about it.’’ Harry looked at her and had to smile. She seemed absolutely tiny now that he and Ron had grown so much, almost fragile. But everything that she said rang with such certainty that it was easy to overlook her small stature and believe her. She pushed her hair back and wrinkled her small nose as she looked in the direction that Malfoy had disappeared. ‘’Just think about it, we have all the advantages. He’ll be swaggering around like the same old ferret, thinking he’s gotten away with everything, and then we can swoop in and destroy him.’’



While it was horrible in the short term, the boys had to agree with her. The Ministry of Magic had agreed to temporarily overlook Malfoy’s crime, not (for once) because of his family connections, but because the Order of the Phoenix had asked them to. It was true that they had the names of many of the old Deatheaters, but Voldemort was constantly recruiting new blood, and Malfoy could easily get careless and lead them to the meeting places. The old crowd were aware of how crafty the Ministry could be, but a new Deatheater, possibly not too keen on the idea of being one of Voldemort’s elite could easily be manipulated into being an unaware informer. The deal had been that the Golden Trio would keep an eye on Malfoy while he was at Hogwarts and informs the Order when he left the grounds, at which point the Order would take over. Harry, Ron and Hermione could carry on with their studies and leave school much more prepared for the challenges ahead. After all, the Horcruxes had been there for so long, a little longer surely wouldn’t make that much of a difference, and Harry had been told that he could change his plans if things got significantly worse. If they didn’t, then why shouldn’t he gain something in the way of knowledge? With this in mind, he had postponed going to find the other Horcruxes, although he was still determined to carry on researching any leads while he had the use of the library.



Malfoy, of course, had an entirely different agenda. He and his family had assumed that the only reason that he was being allowed to go back to Hogwarts was because of his father’s importance. Malfoy was still a powerful name and obviously still available for exploitation. When the Dark Lord had called him and explained his plans, Draco had quickly agreed. A minimum of pain and a lot of gain was all that he could see ahead of him. He hadn’t particularly wanted to be a Deatheater – he was only seventeen at the time after all – but now that he was, it seemed essential to keep on the good side of his Lord, especially after the debacle that had been Dumbledore’s death.



As he strutted up the corridor of the train, his robes swishing behind him, he winked at a pretty Ravenclaw and smiled to himself as a blush crept out of the neck of her robes and onto her cheeks. He knew that there were already a few rumours about him, but he was under no illusions and knew that his status as a sex symbol was rocketing. And let’s face it Draco, he thought to himself, it was pretty high to start with. I guess the only thing better than a hero is a villain.



When the train arrived in the station, Hermione peeled away from her two closest friends and moved swiftly towards the anxious crowd of First Years that were looking around with wide eyes. She smiled at Hagrid and began marshalling the children towards the boats. They stared at her Gryffindor badge and tie, and began whispering among themselves, about what houses they wanted to be put into. She smiled wistfully, remembering her hopes when she had arrived, saying that she wanted to be in Gryffindor because that was where Dumbledore had been, but Ravenclaw wouldn’t be that bad.



‘’What are you grinning for Mudblood?’’ The last voice in the world that she had wanted to hear floated through the air and hit her eardrum with all the subtlety of a giant on Pepper Up Potion.



Making sure that all of the boats were out of hearing range, Hermione spun around, her eyes flashing dangerously. ‘’I’d like to point out that if you’re meant to be the dizzy height that I’m meant to be aspiring to, I’m happy with my ‘dirty blood’. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the one in the gutter, rather than me!’’



‘’How dare you, you filthy little…’’



‘’Filthy little what? Go on Malfoy; finish it! It won't be anything that I haven’t heard before will it, given that you’ve been calling me a Mudblood since we were twelve? You honestly think that I still care?’’



Malfoy drew himself up to his full height, his six foot two towering over her five foot six. He thought about cursing her for a minute, but reconsidered quickly. He was meant to be getting on her good side, not into a fight. Staring down at her, he looked at her determined and angry face and suddenly grinned.



Don’t hit him…rise above it…ignore the stupid ferret. Just walk over to the carriage and get in. Try to get the carriage to go without him in it. Letting out a muted noise of rage, Hermione turned on her heel and stalked over to the carriage, yanking the door open and slamming it behind her.




Draco shook his head and followed her, pulling the door open and getting in just as the Thestrals began to move away. Flopping in the seat, he stared rudely at Hermione. Not that she noticed, as she was staring determinedly out of the window at the slowly passing scenery.




It cannot be right that this journey is taking so long. Come on, please hurry up, please, she silently begged. How infuriating that the pair of them were to be Head Boy and Girl! She knew that she would have got it anyway, it was what she had been working towards, but he had only got it so that someone could keep close tabs on him. There was the Marauders’ Map of course, but the Order had decided that you couldn’t beat the good old-fashioned personal touch.



The personal touch was just what Malfoy was thinking about at that moment. Looking at Hermione’s profile, he thought how she could possibly, maybe, conceivably be considered rather attractive. She had obviously worked out how to tame her hair, and now it was actually a glossy, light brown colour rather than just a mass of frizz. Her eyelashes were enormous in profile, and rested beautifully on her cheekbones when she blinked. Letting his eyes drop slightly lower, Draco smirked, raised an eyebrow and looked out of his window. Nice. Very nice indeed.



Hermione barely waited for the carriage to stop moving before she opened the door and jumped out. Professor McGonagall was standing at the entrance to the castle, and Hermione walked over to her, hearing Malfoy trudging along behind her.



‘’Good evening Miss Granger, Mr Malfoy.’’ She nodded at both of them, and Hermione wondered if she had really seen the almost imperceptible narrowing of the headmistress’ eyes when she looked at the Head Boy. ‘’The sorting is just about to begin, so we must proceed quickly. Here,’’ she handed over a sheet of parchment ‘’is a list of the prefects, and the passwords for each House. I’m sure that you are familiar with what needs to be done.’’



Hermione nodded, and tucked the parchment into her robes, before brushing some dust off and marching into the Hall. Slipping into the seat that Ginny had kept open for her, she watched the huge hat slipping over the eyes of ‘’Coopake, Angela’’. Smiling around at her friends, she glanced around the hall, her eyes scanning along the teachers’ table, taking in all of the familiar faces, and the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.




Eventually, the Sorting was over, and Professor McGonagall stood up to introduce the new teacher – Professor Felmer. All the girls in the roomed swooned slightly as he stood up – those cheekbones, that body, that gorgeous voice. Hermione looked at Harry and Ron, and laughed slightly as they caught her eye. Even now they would still tease her about her crush on Lockhart. Merlin, I hope that he isn’t related to Malfoy. Or rather, I hope that he isn’t connected to Voldemort. 



Then the food appeared and Hermione began eating, laughing with her friends and trying not to think about having to share quarters with Malfoy.




Meanwhile, Harry and Ron were muttering about her.



‘’Ron, I’m worried about her. You know what she’s like with trying to succeed at everything. How far do you think she’s going to take this whole trying to get close to Malfoy thing?’’



‘’You don’t mean…’’



‘’No, I don’t think she would sleep with him or anything like that, it’s just he’s a Slytherin, and he isn’t thick. He’s going to notice if she begins to tail him or something.’’



‘’Harry, look at him!’’ Ron had glanced at the Slytherin table and immediately stiffened in anger. Malfoy was staring at Hermione, sipping idly from his goblet, with a contemplative smirk on his face. The boys glared at him and then looked at Hermione.



‘’Ron…she’s really pretty.’’ Harry sounded slightly surprised, and immediately shook his head. ‘’I mean, she…she…’’



‘’I know.’’ Ron shook his head as well. ‘’And Malfoy’s looking at her as though she’s a particularly tasty morsel. Harry, I swear if he lays a finger on her, I’m going to…’’ Ron began ranting quietly about what he would do if Hermione’s honour were in any way compromised. 



‘’She might be able to use that in her favour though.’’ Harry said quietly, and quickly explained to Ron. Malfoy now presumably had a weakness and Mione could use that to her advantage, to stop her being as vulnerable. ‘’We’ll have to speak to her tomorrow.’’




‘’NO! She can’t go in there without being prepared!’’



‘’Yes she can, she’s a big girl. And she gets angry when we fuss over her and then she’ll make a stupid mistake. She can go in there, and get the lie of the land, and then we can talk to her tomorrow. Plus if she delays in going in there, Malfoy is going to think that she’s afraid of him.’’ Harry said firmly.



Ron nodded reluctantly and the pair of them looked back at Hermione, giggling with Ginny as she ate a slice of cheesecake. Malfoy watched as well – the corruption of the innocent beckoned.



 



*



 



Hermione finally walked into the common room that she shared with Malfoy, and yawned. She had had to sort out the prefects and make sure that everything was running smoothly, seeing as Malfoy had buggered off as soon as possible. Running her hand through her curls, she rubbed at her eyes and made towards the staircase that had a Gryffindor tapestry at the bottom of it. A Slytherin snake hissed menacingly on the other set of stairs and she raised her eyebrows dismissively and began walking up the stairs.



‘’Hey! Granger.’’ Malfoy had stood up in front of the fire.



‘‘What?’’ she spat at him.



‘’Now, that is not a pleasant reception for your new housemate.’’ He reprimanded her laughingly.




‘’Malfoy, I’ve just had to do your job as well as mine, and I want to go to bed.’’




Draco raised his eyebrows suggestively. ‘’Fancy some company?’’




Merlin, did he actually just say what I think he said? What the hell is he going on about? Is there some ploy here that I am completely unaware of?




Her consternation must have shown on her face, and just as she opened her mouth to tell Malfoy to piss off, he smiled scornfully. ‘’A joke Granger. Come on, don’t you know me at all?’’




‘’Why would I want to know you?’’




‘’Because I’m charming.’’ Draco resisted telling her that he was also so far above her that she should be honoured by this attention.



‘’Whatever Malfoy.’’ Hermione took another step up the stairs, just thinking of her pyjamas now.



‘’Actually, I was wondering if…’’ Malfoy paused and struggled to get the hated words out of his mouth. He had been thinking about what he would say, but it was just as hard as he thought it would be. ‘’If you would like to tone down the hostilities?’’



Hermione stopped dead in her tracks. ‘’What did you just say?’’



‘’Well, seeing as we are going to be living together, I don’t really want to be arguing with you all the time.’’



That does actually make sense. And if we were friends, I could get really close to him. Way closer than the map ever could. But…is it really a good idea to make friends with the guy that I’m trying to destroy? Hermione frowned slightly. She wouldn’t actually be friends with him, she would just be pretending until she got what she wanted.



She sighed heavily. ‘’I suppose that does kinda make sense.’’



‘’I’m not talking about being best buddies or anything like that.’’ Malfoy said quickly, ‘’just like, not threatening to hex each other, or swearing at each other and stuff.’’




‘’I can just about handle being civil to you Malfoy, any more and I might spontaneously combust. So don’t worry, your status is fine.’’



He smirked. ‘’Well in that case, shouldn’t you call me Draco?’’




‘’Why?’’




‘’My friends don’t call me Malfoy, they call me Draco. And I’m presuming yours don’t call you Granger.’’




‘’No.’’




‘’A little more detail. Help me out here. What do they call you?’’




‘’Mione.’’ She said without thinking. No! Don’t tell him your nickname.




‘’Right. Mione it is.’’


 

‘’No! No, call me Hermione.’’ She said as quickly as she could. Great, make a big deal out of it, now he’ll know how to piss you off.


 


 


‘’Hermione it is.’’ Draco tipped an imaginary hat to her and wandered off to his room. Hermione groaned quietly and carried on up the stairs. Pushing her door open, she smiled as she saw the four-poster with the heavy red curtains, and the beautiful furniture. Stripping off her robes, she climbed into bed and went straight to sleep.



 


Draco had no such luck. Lying back on his bed, he stared at the fireplace and waited quietly. He wasn’t disappointed. Within minutes, his father’s head had appeared in the flickering fire and was coughing impatiently.



 


‘’Hello Father.’’ Draco knelt down in front of the fire.



 


‘’Have you befriended the Mudblood?’’



 


‘’Yes Father. I’m not going to fail this time.’’ Draco could have sworn he saw a small smile of pride on Lucius’ face.



 


‘’I’m glad that you appear to be putting more effort into this mission than your last. At last you are becoming a worthy Deatheater.’’



 


‘’I don’t want to let anyone down Father.’’



 


‘’Good. The Dark Lord has exempted you from all meetings except important ones. We cannot have suspicion raised. Make sure that you maintain your contact with that filthy creature.’’



 


‘’Of course.’’



 


With a few more words, Lucius disappeared and Draco collapsed back onto his bed. Was it really surprising that he wasn’t keen to let anyone down again? The Cruciatus curse was not something that he particularly wanted to experience again, just as he quite fancied staying alive for a bit longer. He had the Dark Mark now, and whether or not he wanted to be a Deatheater, he was involved. He might as well be an enthusiastic follower and preserve his life.



 


And if that meant doing particularly distasteful things, fine. His life was worth more than pureblood pride. Plus, the Dark Lord had said that he wanted Hermione Granger, so Hermione Granger he would have. It had not escaped Voldemort’s notice that Granger was an amazingly skilled witch, and he had determined to have this witch on his side and to use her against Potter. Draco’s job was to become so friendly that she could either be willing won over, or close enough that he could drug her into submission. Either suited him, thought Draco, he’d just like to get on with it as soon as possible.



 


Meanwhile, Hermione slumbered on, totally unaware of the plots surrounding her. Harry and Ron tossed and turned throughout the night, both of their minds filled with worries about what Malfoy could be doing to Mione.



 


When morning rolled around, Hermione stretched and slid out of bed. Padding over to her en suite, she began running a bath. Wriggling her toes on the cold tiles, she smiled gratefully. One of her worst nightmares had been sharing a bathroom with Malfoy and him somehow walking in on her. Slithering into the hot water, she began washing herself, and then lay back. Now that she was awake, she wasn’t sure that she hadn’t dreamt last night’s bizarre exchange. Had Malfoy really asked to be her friend? It wasn’t something that she could ever picture him doing, and more to the point, something that she could ever see herself agreeing to.



 


And yet she had agreed to call Malfoy by his first name. Shaking her head, she got out of the bath and set about getting ready. After dressing, she looked at herself in the mirror, smoothed her hair down and pushed a tiny red hair band into it, to keep it out of her eyes. Gently brushing some mascara onto her eyelashes and smoothing some balm onto her lips, she deemed herself ready and picked up her bag. She didn’t see the point in covering herself in foundation and powder when it was just a normal day at school. Plus, Draco might think that she was making the effort for him.



 


Clattering down the stairs in her small flat pumps, she made for the exit, only to hear Malfoy following her.



 


‘’Morning Hermione.’’



Oh shit. I didn’t dream it.



 


‘’Good morning…Draco.’’



 


‘’Sleep well?’’



 


‘’Er…yes thanks. You?’’ Could this be any more stilted?



 


‘’Ok. I’m gonna give you some time to go down first, because I don’t think that anyone is going to be too receptive to us being friendly. You know what I mean?’’



 


‘’Yeah.’’ Raising a hand in farewell, Hermione left the room and hurried down to the Great Hall. Dropping into the seat between Ron and Harry, she began buttering a slice of toast. The boys looked at her and raised their eyebrows questioningly.



 


‘’He wants us to be friends.’’ She blurted out, taking a huge mouthful of toast. I hope that they don’t think I made the wrong choice.



 


‘’Seriously? Mione, what did you say?’’



 


‘’I said yes. But I’m not really going to be his friend – it just gives me a chance to get closer to him.’’



 


‘’Great, but Ron and I need to tell you something.’’ Harry glanced quickly at his friend, but Ron was staring at his plate, obviously determined that Harry should tell Mione. ‘’Yesterday, during the feast, Ron and I were looking at Malfoy and he was staring at you Mione.’’



 


‘’Like…staring at you!’’ Ron blurted out.



 


‘’Oh.’’ Hermione said, and drew her eyebrows together. ‘’As in an evil stare?’’



 


‘’Yes.’’ Ron told her determinedly.



 


‘’More like a lustful kind of stare.’’ Harry told her, watching her nose wrinkle up in distaste.



 


‘’Disgusting. Well, I’ll make sure I keep a safe distance then.’’ Hermione told them, and turned back to her toast, pouring herself some pumpkin juice as she did so.



 


‘’That’s it?’’ Ron asked. ‘’You aren’t going to kick up a big fuss?’’



 


‘’Why would I? The only thing that I’m interested in about Malfoy is how quickly we can catch him and all his vile friends. If he does have a crush on me, which I doubt by the way, then that’s up to him, but I certainly won't be reciprocating.’’



 


‘’Good.’’ Ron smiled slightly and changed the subject. Hermione smiled to herself. She wasn’t entirely sure whether Ron thought he was her older brother or a love interest but his attention was quite flattering nonetheless. Harry smiled into his porridge as well. His friend was utterly besotted with Hermione, and he couldn’t really blame him. Even with her hair pulled off her face and the rather shapeless robes, she was glowing. It looked like there was nothing that she could not achieve, and she was relishing every challenge coming her way, even if it did mean dealing with Malfoy.



 



Malfoy glanced across the room and saw Granger chatting away. Throwing back her hair to laugh, her hair cascaded down her back in glossy curls. Draco felt a small twinge. Things could definitely be a lot worse. Imagine if I had to flirt with someone like Bulstrode. At least Granger has some semblance of femininity. He watched as she picked up her bag and the huge textbook that had been sitting on the table next to her. Clutching it to her chest, she made her way out of the Hall, presumably to the Potions class that they had together. Grabbing his stuff, Draco followed her as quietly as he could, not wanting to draw the attention of the Boy-Who-Wouldn’t-Die and his minions. He could hear small feet pattering away down the corridor, and he picked up his pace slightly to catch up with her.



         


Hermione slowed slightly, intending to get a hairbrush out of her bag (the fight against frizz never ends), and cursed under her breath as she only succeeded in knocking a huge sheaf of paper onto the floor. Stooping down, she began gathering up the sheets, and then turned around to find herself staring at Malfoy’s chest. And smelling the rather nice aftershave…Down Hermione! Calm down!



 


To her surprise, he was holding out a couple of sheets that must have drifted further off down the corridor. Reaching out cautiously (let’s face it, she thought it would be completely like him to snatch them away and set fire to them) she took them off him and stuffed them back into her bag. ‘’Thanks.’’ She smiled half-heartedly, and then stopped. What the hell am I meant to do now? I can’t be self-deprecating because he would only join in. I can’t start up a conversation because my tongue seems to be like a lump of lead in my mouth. I can’t walk away because that would be incredibly rude, and we’re meant to be friends now. What?



 


‘’Don’t worry about it, I’m always dropping things.’’ He told her, without any kind of snide overtone in his voice.



 


‘’Really? I can’t see you doing that.’’



 


‘’I know I’m above most mere mortals Hermione, but I do have my lapses.’’



 


‘’So conceited.’’ Hermione rolled her eyes jokily.



 


‘’Nope, I just have good awareness of self.’’



 


‘’For which read vanity.’’




Don’t respond to her, she thinks this is banter. Don’t tell her that you wouldn’t expect a Mudblood to understand. Come on, be self-deprecating, I’m sure she’ll go for that. ‘’Yeah, well, it’s got me this far hasn’t it?’’ Not quite deprecating, but pretty good considering.



 


‘’Suppose so.’’ Hermione didn’t have the energy for this. He could be as vain as he liked, she would be the one on top in the end.



 


‘’You should have a little more awareness of self I think.’’



 


‘’What? Me?’’ Hermione let out a nervous bark of laughter and set off down the corridor again. ‘’Anyway, I thought we weren’t meant to be in public together? Someone might see us.’’


 

 

‘’Ah well. They’ll just assume that I’m getting the better of you in an argument. Again.’’



 


‘’Hardly. Although I suppose I could punch you. Again.’’ Hermione smirked at him.



 


‘‘You stole my trademark!’’ I’ll get you back for that. And for the punch.




Oh Merlin. What the hell do you say to that?



 


‘’You’re starting to notice things, and I’m smirking. We’re going to be switching places before long.’’



 


‘’I hope not.’’ Draco looked up the corridor and saw the Boy Wonder coming. What a fantastic opportunity to piss him off. Too good to be passed up I would say. ‘’Hermione,’’ he whispered ‘’have you told them about our agreement?’’ She shook her head quickly, maybe too quickly under the circumstances, but he didn’t stop to think about it. ‘’Don’t take anything I say or do too seriously, ok?’’



 


Before she could say anything, Malfoy had slung his arm around her shoulders, and pulled her in closer to his body. With her hands full of books, Hermione couldn’t do anything quickly enough to stop Ron and Harry noticing.



 


‘’Will you get the fuck off me?’’ she hissed as she tried to rearrange her books to give herself a free hand.



 


‘’I can see why you kept her around for so long Potter.’’ Malfoy shouted. Hermione began to flush, and heaved herself away from his side.



 


‘‘Shut the hell up!’’ she hissed again, and moved towards the classroom, halted by his next words.



 


‘’I mean, who would have thought that one Mudblood slut could keep a bed so warm?’’ he drawled, his smirk lighting up his face.



 


‘’Malfoy, you want to shut your face right now.’’ Ron began, drawing his wand out of his pocket. But Hermione had already dropped her textbook and slapped Malfoy around the back of the head.



 


‘’How dare you speak about me like that?’’



 


‘’Ow! Fucking hell, what did you do that for?’’



 


‘’I am not a slut! You should be grateful that I didn’t slap you with my textbook!’’ Picking up said textbook, Hermione turned her back on the three of them and walked into the classroom, hearing the rest of her class coming, and having no desire to have that argument in front of them.



 


Halfway through the lesson, Hermione was disturbed from Professor Slughorn’s lecture when a small paper aeroplane glided in to a perfect landing in front of her and unfolded itself to show a small note.



 



How pissed of are you at me, on a scale of one to ten? D.




Eleven.




Oh, come on. I was only joking.




I’m splitting my sides on the inside. I would laugh if I wasn’t afraid that my head would fall off.




I didn’t mean anything by it.




Then why say it?




That’s a bloody good question.




Then answer it.



 



 


Malfoy scratched his head and looked at her, where she was staring at the teacher with rapt attention. Why exactly had he done it? To score points off Wonder Boy. But he didn’t really need Hermione to do that.



 




I did it because I’m an immature prick.




Well that’s true.




I wanted to make Potter jealous and you were the easiest option at the time.



 



Hermione looked at the paper in front of her, his blocky handwriting contrasting dramatically with her small neat script. I’m meant to be friends with him, and that is certainly an opportunity for banter. Is it completely out of order for me to use it?



 


Deciding not, Hermione quickly scribbled an answer, and threw the plane back. Watching Malfoy out of the corner of her eye, she felt a small jolt of pride as she watched his eyes widen and a small smile play around the corners of his mouth.



 



 


Draco looked at the page in front of him: I’m never an easy option Draco. In any way. He could practically picture the devilish wink that he was sure would go with that statement.



 




Are you completely sure about that?




Why would I not be?




Well, it just doesn’t seem very in character for the sort of person that you are?




Draco, you know virtually nothing about me. How on earth could you presume that something like that is out of character for me?




Bearing this supposedly new part of your character in mind, I would love to get to know you better.




What did you have in mind?




A drink in the Common Room this evening.




Hmm….




It’ll be fun. Firelight, fire whisky, fiery company. What more do we need for a


sizzling evening?




Merlin, that was awful. However, I’ll take pity on you. This evening it is.



 



Hermione gnawed on her lip, and sent the plane back to him before she could change her mind. Now that she had hinted at some hidden aspect of her personality, what the hell was she going to wear?


























Chapter 2: Chapter Two
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hermione had fled up to her bedroom straight after dinner. She had thought about letting the boys know about what was going to happen, but knew that she shouldn’t. They would immediately start acting like they were her brothers, and insist on spying in some way, which would put her even more on edge. She muttered something about being tired, and decided that she would tell them that she and Malfoy had talked some last night. No mention of firelight or fire whisky. It was for their own safety – they would probably have a heart attack if they knew the truth.



Pulling open her wardrobe door, she looked through. Nothing remotely slutty, but that was the way that she liked it. Still, if she needed to talk to Malfoy (Draco, Mione, call him Draco) she needed something more revealing. Grabbing a black pair of shorts, she pulled them on, with a black camisole. Too dull, and too revealing. Hmm. Grabbing a hip length purple t-shirt, she pulled it on. Perfect. And not in Gryffindor colours, so I shouldn’t provoke him. Brushing her hair, she put on a layer of lip balm and padded downstairs to the Common Room.



Malfoy (Draco!) was already sitting in front of the fire. His head snapped around as she crossed the room.



‘’Miss Hermione!’’ he doffed an imaginary hat to her.



‘’Kind sir.’’ She batted her eyelids briefly and plumped into the armchair.



‘’No, no! Come and sit next to me.’’ He moved up to one end of the sofa, and Hermione reluctantly moved to the other end, tucking her legs up under her chin. ‘’So, where shall we begin?’’ He asked with a small smirk.



A couple of hours later, things were far more relaxed. The fire was glowing softly, instead of blazing intently. Hermione’s legs were curled underneath her, rather than pulled up close to her chest, and Malfoy was sprawled across the carpet, his head at the same end that she was sitting at.



‘’So, Mione, we’ve covered families, hobbies, childhood memories, favourite things, least favourite things. What does that leave us with?’’



‘’Very little. Thank Merlin we have a free morning tomorrow – I don’t think I’d be able to sit through a lesson.’’ She laughed quietly.



‘’It is late isn’t it?’’ He rolled onto his back and looked at the clock on the wall. ‘’Do you want to go to bed?’’



‘’No! I’m having fun!’’ Hermione protested. Then realising what she was meant to be doing, she felt slightly guilty, and then quashed it. It’s all vital information. Or at least, I’m sure we can use it in some way. Maybe. Ah well. I’m…bonding? Yeah, bonding is a good word.



‘’And we haven’t even touched this.’’ Malfoy sat up and grabbed the bottle of alcohol off of the table. ‘’I know what we haven’t talked about yet Mione.’’



‘’Which is?’’



‘’This hidden aspect of your personality.’’ 



‘’Which should remain hidden at all costs.’’ Hermione told him firmly.



‘’I think not!’’ Malfoy tipped the bottle into the glasses. ‘’Come on, have a drink, and then tell me about it. I promised you fire whisky and fire whisky you shall have.’’



‘’I don’t know Draco…’’ 



‘’One drink. Tell me all your secrets and have one drink, that’s all I ask.’’ Draco
pushed the drink at her with a sweet smile.



‘’Fine.’’ Hermione resigned herself to the idea of drinking with him, and took the proffered glass. Draco raised his glass to her, and then to his lips. Once Hermione thought she saw him drinking, she too tipped her head back and took a gulp. While she was grimacing at the harsh taste, Draco quickly tipped his drink back into the bottle. ‘’Come on! I’ve finished mine’’ he told her, and watched her knock the rest back.



Quickly, her pupils dilated slightly, showing that the sedative was taking effect. An amazingly subtle potion, melange subtil, was designed to relax the drinker to the point at which they would respond positively and truthfully to any question or suggestion that was made to them. This suggestion would remain with them until they stopped regularly taking the potion, thus ensuring an entirely new character or perspective. It was basically the Imperius curse mixed with Veritaserum but without the side effects that were now becoming rather obvious, such as the dazed expression. Draco’s job was to infiltrate the idea of joining Voldemort into Hermione’s head. There was no doubt among the Deatheaters that Hermione was far too strong to ever just drop everything and join. She had to be changed gradually, and Draco would start by pulling her away from her friends and towards him. It shouldn’t be too difficult. Hermione wouldn’t feel like she was changing, and would be unable to understand why Harry and Ron were pushing her away. Draco would be there to pick up the pieces. Simple, Draco told himself.



Of course, there is the small problem of how I’m going to make sure that she has a regular dose of the potion. That was the only flaw in the plan. Hermione had to have one dose of the potion every day, without fail. If she didn’t have it, then she would immediately revert to normality, with full awareness of what had been done to her. Draco had no doubt that if she went to Harry and Ron, telling them that Draco had poisoned her, he would find himself in rather a lot of trouble. Oh well. I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it. For now, business.



‘’So, darling Mione. What is this hidden aspect?’’



‘’Nothing big. It’s just that, you know, everyone seems to think of me as this little bookworm. And I’m not really. I’m so much more than that.’’



‘’Of course you are. Anyone can see that. But in what way?’’



‘’That’s obvious! I have relationships. And it’s so normal. For any teenager it’s totally normal, but it’s become this hidden part of me because I can’t acknowledge it.’’ Why on earth did I let him know that? Hermione wondered, and then just shrugged.



‘’So what you’re saying is that you want to be someone’s girlfriend but you can’t because everyone thinks that you’re above that?’’



‘‘Completely!’’



Draco smiled. He could mix business with pleasure. ‘’But Mione, you’re utterly gorgeous. It’s not fair on the entire male population of Hogwarts for you not to be on the dating scene! You shouldn’t deny anyone that! You shouldn’t make yourself less sexy – that’s not fair on you!’’



Hermione blushed and reached out a hand to stroke the blond hair that was resting so near to her knee. ‘‘You’re so lovely.’’



‘’I aim to please.’’ Draco sat up and pulled her down, so that she was sitting next to him. ‘’You aren’t so bad yourself.’’ He slung an arm around her shoulder again, and Hermione’s skin tingled as she felt the warmth course along her nerve endings. The fire had almost died now, and she was beginning to get cold. ‘’You’re freezing, do you know that?’’



‘’Uh-huh.’’ Without even thinking about it, Hermione dropped her head to rest it on Draco’s shoulder. He shrugged her off quickly, but as she looked at him in bewilderment, he whipped off his jumper and passed it over to her. She pulled it on, relishing the warmth and the gorgeous smell that now surrounded it her.



Hermione, what the hell are you doing? Come on, it’s Malfoy! Nasty boy! Don’t be swooning over him, that’s way too predictable! But…he is gorgeous, and I did say that I needed to be a little bit like those girls that he kisses…so…maybe…



Draco put his arm back around Hermione, completely unaware of the little dialogue going on that was gradually persuading her to throw caution to the wind. He felt her small body quivering slightly, and he slid a hand under the mass of soft hair and rubbed the back of her neck. She sighed delightedly and nestled slightly closer. He smirked. The Dark Lord wouldn’t mind. In fact, it would make it easier to persuade her. And she was so desperate to be kissed that the small flame of attraction that was burning in her would flare up immediately.



Hermione dropped her head down to his shoulder, but he gently took hold of her chin and raised it so that she had to look into his eyes. She almost gasped. The eyes that had been so cruel and hard for so long were now filled with lust. They were gazing at her as though she was the most beautiful thing that they had ever seen. Slowly, Draco ran his thumb across her lower lip and then bent down and placed a small kiss directly on her mouth. She inhaled slightly in shock, and he slid his hands around the back of her small head and raised her up to press another kiss more firmly on her. Before he could move away, Hermione was kissing him back quickly. He smiled into her mouth, and kissed her properly, their mouths moving against each other. He nibbled gently on her lower lip, and then when she opened her mouth slightly, slid his tongue inside. She almost fainted as she felt his tongue touch hers, the taste of his mouth filling hers entirely. She pulled away slightly and opened her eyes. His were already open and looking at her filled with concern. She smiled shyly and leaned forward again, her hands around his neck as she tugged his mouth down to hers.



Merlin. This is everything I’ve been waiting for. Everything. Her head spun and she felt dizzy with longing.



Not too shabby Granger. Not too shabby at all. Draco moved forward slightly, and pushed gently on her shoulders until she lay back on the carpet. Covering her body with his, he carried on kissing her and then began to make his way down her neck. Just at that moment, the fire flickered out. Draco cursed quietly – he intended to see exactly what he was doing. He reached for his wand and then realised he’d left it on the table. Kissing Hermione quickly, he stood up and walked over to where the table was and groped around for his wand. By the time that he’d found it he walked back over to where Hermione was and found her asleep.



Merlin, she must have been tired. He looked down at her and smiled. Her hair was spread out behind her, and her lips and cheeks were flushed. Bending down, he hooked a hand under her knees and under her arms, picking her up gently. She moaned slightly and slid her small hands around the back of his neck. He grinned and carried her up the stairs to her bedroom, and laid her on the bed. I suppose I shouldn’t really undress her. Shame. Well, I can take my jumper back, at least. He reached out, and pulled the jumper off her, not worrying about disturbing her – she seemed pretty comatose. He looked at her; shapely legs stretched out, trim waist, fantastic cleavage (he would know, he’d been admiring it all evening), hair fanned out over the pillow and a serene face while she slept. Without all the energy that she had while awake, she seemed unbelievably calm. He shrugged, pulled the cover over her, and left the room. 



Well, that defied expectations. A cold shower may be in order.



Hermione woke up the next morning and stretched luxuriously. Wondering why she was still wearing last night’s clothes, she blushed slightly as she thought about what she had done. Well, that’s going to be awkward. Glancing at the clock on her bedside table, she yawned and swung herself out of bed, moving towards the shower.



Fifteen minutes later she was pulling on her uniform. Looking in the mirror, she frowned and tipped her head to one side. What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing. My skirt’s knee length and pleated. The top button of my shirt is done up and my tie’s done up. So what’s wrong with it? Maybe, I should make myself look a little more appealing…Without thinking about it anymore, she reached up and undid her top button, pulling the neck of the shirt open and her tie down. That’s better. Now what? She looked at her skirt. She didn’t want to look too slutty, so the length was fine, but what about the shape? Flicking her wand at it, she changed it into a clinging pencil skirt. She smiled slightly, and then pointed her wand at her shoes. These were fine but kitten heels would be much nicer. Slinging her robe on over the top, and flicking her hair back, she looked in the mirror again. Fantastic. A girl with a nipped in waist and long legs, with slim ankles looked back at her, with the robes slung around her shoulders like a mantle. Slicking a layer of Vaseline on her lips, Hermione grabbed her bag and went down to lunch.



Ron stared as Hermione came up to their table. Swinging her hips slightly, she slipped into the seat next to him and smiled. ‘’Mione, what happened to you? I mean, not in a rude way or anything, but you look really different.’’




‘’I just felt like a change. More leeway with uniform at our age, why not make the most of it?’’ Hermione grabbed a bread roll and began buttering it.



Harry turned around and smiled as he saw that Hermione had undone her top button. ‘’You rebel Mione!’’




‘’I know…living on the wild side.’’ She laughed and carried on with their conversation, forgetting all about Draco until he walked into the hall surrounded by his cronies. She looked up and caught his eye, and instantly remembered kissing him, how his lips had felt against hers, how his hand had felt so strong against the base of her neck. Breathing in deeply, she turned away from him. Thank Merlin I undid my collar otherwise it would be rather hot under there right now.



‘’How is it living with ferret-face?’’ Harry asked, noticing where Hermione’s eyes had been directed.



‘’He was being really nice last night,’’ Hermione told them, but then raised her hand to stop them as they both opened their mouths to protest ‘’But I’m still on my guard. I’m not stupid, he’s probably trying to lull me into a false sense of security.’’ They nodded approvingly, and Hermione quashed her conscience – They wouldn’t understand why I kissed him. They might think that it was just because I was drunk and in the position to admit that yes, I rather felt like kissing someone, whereas I know that it was to lull him into a false sense of security. Oh, give it a rest Hermione; you know that you just have a crush on him. Although that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to bring him down. Bastard, he killed Dumbledore. The argument going back and forth in her head was leaving Hermione extremely confused, and it didn’t help that she could see Draco out of the corner of her eye. Did she fancy him, or just want to bring him down? Could she do both? 



Before she spontaneously combusted, she grabbed her stuff and stood up quickly. ‘’I’ve…I’ve just remembered that I have to speak to Professor Sinistra before we go to Defence Against the Dark Arts. So, I’ll see you in class.’’ Not waiting for an answer, she quickly walked out of the hall. Harry looked after her, at her swaying hips and slim legs, and turned to Ron. 



‘’I can’t see Malfoy failing to appreciate her new image.’’



‘’If he lays a finger on her…’’ Ron went red and turned back to his lunch, glancing every so often in the direction that Hermione had gone.



As her friends discussed what they would do to Malfoy if he took advantage of her, Hermione clicked along the corridors, not entirely sure where she was going, but determined not to stop. In the worst case scenario, she would end up walking around like a tool for five minutes before going to her class, so there wasn’t that much of a reason to stop. Suddenly, she saw Stuart, a Ravenclaw standing ahead of her. Recognising him from her Runes class, she walked towards him, smiling slightly. Not expecting his eyes to light up as he saw her, and run the length of her body. Normally, she would have just blushed, but Hermione found herself exaggerating the movement of her body slightly, flicking her eyes to the ground and then back up to his face. Leaning her body slightly towards him, she chatted away, toying with a strand of her hair. It was only when she was sitting down safely in her class ten minutes later that she realised that she had been flirting with him. It had seemed perfectly innocent at the time, but on reflection she could see how it must have looked. What on earth made me do that? I’d better be careful or I’m going to end up with a reputation. Although, the bookworm thing might work in my favour in protecting me from that kind of thing.



At that moment, Professor Felmer entered the classroom, wearing black robes that outlined his body so well that there was a mass flicking back of hair among the girls in the class. Introducing himself, he moved around the classroom, looking at each of them in turn, as though he was determined to imprint each of them on his memory. Immediately, he began teaching a lesson that deviated slightly away from the syllabus in order to take into account recent events.



‘’After all, while it is necessary for you to be aware of the aspects that are traditionally taught, I want to make sure that you are going to be able to defend yourself in the battles that are likely to be coming. I mean, it’s all very well being able to deal with a Hinkypunk, it isn’t going to be much use to you when you’re trying to deal with a curse that’s flying your way.’’




Harry was nodding approvingly, and Hermione smiled indulgently. He must be grateful to have a teacher that understood what was actually needed after the disappointment that he had had: one who was actually carrying Voldemort in his body, a fraud, one forced into early retirement, one who was a Deatheater in disguise, a government official determined not to teach them, and Snape. Focusing on Felmer, she began to take notes as he detailed what he was planning to teach them about curses, counter curses and protection against the various creatures and methods that Voldemort tended to use. Nodding as she realised how detailed the lessons were going to be and how much they were going to learn, she flinched in shock as a small note landed next to her.



 



So, is the new outfit to impress Malfoy? Lavender.




Oh Merlin, no! I just woke up this morning, and thought that I needed to change the way I wear my uniform. Weird, huh?



 Not really. It’s about time you realised what needed to be done though. I like the pencil skirt though, different to the micro minis that the rest of us wear, but still sexy.



I just wanted something different.




What’s it like, sharing with Malfoy? 



Awful. He’s so arrogant.



 



Hermione shoved the note back to Lavender and focused on the lesson again. Good Gryffindor Princess. She knew what she was meant to say about sharing with Draco – what would everyone say if she turned around and said ‘’Absolutely divine, he’s gorgeous and we spent about half an hour just kissing yesterday’’?




No, it was much simpler to keep it to herself. She was getting closer to Malfoy, and she could share everything that didn’t concern their ‘intimate’ relationship (like whether or not he was still a Deatheater). She could just enjoy the ‘getting closer’ bit. Fine. No ethical dilemmas at all, no sir.




Making it through the rest of her lessons in a bit of a daze (not that it mattered, she was still light years against everyone else in her class) and through dinner, where she managed to maintain normal conversation, and finally through doing her homework in the library, Hermione fled to her bedroom. Changing out of her robes, she grabbed a book and pattered down to the sitting room.



About half an hour later, the door to their rooms opened, and Draco came in, holding his bag close to his side. A flush instantly rising to her cheeks, Hermione smiled at him. ‘’Hey.’’



‘’Hi…erm, I’ll be down in a minute, ok?’’



‘’Ok.’’ She smiled and turned the page in her book, instantly immersing herself back in the story.



Draco immediately hurried up the stairs and chucked his bag in the corner. That had been bloody risky; he hadn’t been expecting her to be downstairs. Rubbing at the Dark Mark on his arm, which was still sore from where he had been summoned, he hid the Deatheater uniform in his cupboard, disguising it as an old towel with a flick of his wand. Pulling on a long-sleeved black t-shirt, and a pair of jeans, he grabbed the bottle of Melange Subtil and put it in his pocket. The meeting hadn’t even seemed that important, he reflected, as he checked his appearance. All he had been required to do was say how far he had got with the plan regarding Hermione and then listen to the others bragging about how many people they had killed. He still couldn’t think about murder without feeling slightly nauseous – probably from that disastrous attempt to finish off Dumbledore. Shaking his head, he wandered downstairs and straight into the kitchenette that he and Hermione shared. ‘’Fancy a hot chocolate?’’



‘’Yeah, that would be nice.’’ She stuck her nose straight back into her book. Perfect. Now she isn’t going to be hanging around asking me what the hell I’m spiking her drink with. Walking back to the sofa, he handed her the steaming drink and watched her take a sip and lick her lips. ‘’That’s really good, thank you.’’



‘’What’s your book about?’’ Draco picked it up from where she had left it sitting on the sofa.



‘’People falling in love despite the circumstances.’’ As soon as she’d said it, Hermione could have kicked herself. She hadn’t meant it to sound like the blatant hint that it had, but thankfully Draco didn’t seem to have picked up on it.



‘’Any good?’’



‘’Really. I love it.’’




‘’Good. So, how was your day?’’




‘’Kinda weird. I woke up and decided that I didn’t like my uniform and changed it, and you would not believe the response that I got from the guys.’’ She took another sip of her drink, and Malfoy smiled slightly.



‘’I noticed that when you were in the Great Hall. When you left, every guy was watching you.’’



Hermione laughed and stared at the fire. ‘’It was weird. But good weird.’’



‘’So, how come you haven’t had a boyfriend before?’’




‘’I went out with Victor Krum!’’



‘’Mione, that was three years ago.’’ He reminded her.




‘’It was just, after the arguments that that caused, I didn’t really see the point of going through all that again, for something that wouldn’t really last that long.’’ She was completely relaxed now, snuggled into the side of the sofa.



‘’So, you’re basically saying that Weasley and Potter stopped you having a boyfriend?’’ Draco felt a small twinge of anger. Ok, so I wouldn’t have looked at her, she’s a Mudblood, but that doesn’t mean other fools wouldn’t have found her attractive. I can’t believe she cares about the Wonderboys so much that she would throw away relationships for them. I mean, she’s bearable. Quite pretty. Fantastic kisser. Draco caught himself before he went too far.




Hermione looked at him seriously, ‘’they didn’t know that I felt like that. I chose to do it.’’



‘’Still. Hermione, don’t you resent them for making you feel like that?’’ As she began to shake her head, Draco corrected himself ‘’I mean, you must resent them for that.’’



‘’I guess…maybe a little.’’



‘’Well, you deserve to have some fun now.’’




‘’I don’t want my grades to go down!’’



Draco couldn’t help grinning. It was so sweet that she was under a sedative and she still cared about her grades. ‘’You don’t have to let your schoolwork go. Just get the balance right, that’s what you haven’t been doing. So do your work, do it well, and then have fun the rest of the time.’’



I wonder if he would flirt with me? Hermione’s dopey brain thought, still thinking about wanting to be more attractive, and now dealing with the idea of having fun. I bet he would.



‘’So is that what you do?’’ 




‘’Of course.’’



‘’How do you unwind?’’ Hermione scooted over from where she had been sitting, so that she was sitting next to Draco. He grinned at her. How the hell has she suddenly got the nerve to do this?



‘’I like back rubs.’’



‘’Like one now?’’



‘’Depends. How good are you with your hands?’’



‘’Fantastic.’’ She moved behind him and placed her palms on his shoulders. Slowly rubbing along his shoulder blades and down his spine, she felt him groan slightly and arch his back.




‘’You are actually quite good.’’



‘’You don’t need to sound surprised.’’



‘’Maybe I should return the favour.’’ He suggested, amazed that Granger – bookworm Granger! – was letting it get this far.



‘’Maybe you should.’’ She smirked and flopped onto the carpet, lying on her front, about to start reading again and clearly not expecting him to touch her. So she was slightly shocked when he suddenly straddled her lower back. 



Oh Merlin! What now? I didn’t think he’d actually do this! Then the drugged part of her mind cut in. Relax, just go with the flow and enjoy it. You’ve been denied this for so long, you deserve this. Harry and Ron aren’t here to stop you after all.



‘’Mmm.’’ Hermione wriggled slightly as Draco’s fingers gently kneaded at her neck. Then he bent down and began kissing her nape instead, occasionally flicking it gently with his tongue. Refusing to let her turn over until he had kissed every inch of her smooth neck, he enjoyed the cool satiny texture of her skin, and the way that her hair smelt of papaya. Finally, he turned her over, at which point she lunged up and pushed him back, pinning him to the floor. Giggling, they rolled across the floor together until he ended up on top again, pinning her down. Kissing each other madly, their hands flying over each other, they only stopped when Hermione caught sight of the clock over his shoulder and pushed him off her.



‘’Shit, Draco! I’ve got Arithmancy first thing tomorrow morning.’’ With one final kiss goodnight, she fled up the stairs to her room, although in the end she might as well have stayed with him, as she only lay awake, thinking of him.


Author's Note: Hey everyone, thanks for reading Chapter Two. I guess you know what's coming...Please Review! I really want to make this story as good as I can, which means I need your feedback. Even if it's only one sentence, to say that you absolutely hated this part, fine. Also, I'm not awfully good with computers, so if someone can make me a banner and tell me how to get it to work, they'll have my eternal love and gratitude! Thanks everyone! petitesorciere


Chapter 3: Chapter Three
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Wandering down to the shared common room, Hermione blushed as she saw Draco lounging on the sofa without his shirt. She smiled weakly and began to move over to the kitchenette. Every time she saw him, a red flush dragged itself from her veins and planted itself firmly on her cheeks, with no chance of going away. He looked up at her and the ugly stain on her cheeks and quirked an eyebrow at her. Without a second thought, she turned her back and fled down the stairs to the Great Hall.


Slipping into her seat, she fanned her cheeks as she reached for the breadbasket. I can’t let it get to me! It was just kissing, and he isn’t bothered by it, so why should I be? I need to stop thinking like this – it isn’t emotional, it’s physical and it’s going to stay that way! Nodding slightly, she split the roll open, spilling crumbs all over her plate.


‘’You alright Mione? You look all hot and bothered.’’ Harry smiled at her, and Hermione lifted her lips back. But her heart wasn’t in it and the smile didn’t reach her eyes. She had practically forgotten the conversation she had had with Malfoy yesterday, and didn’t understand why she felt a sudden flash of resentment against one of her oldest friends, when all she should have been feeling was happiness that he cared enough to ask.

‘’I’m fine.’’ Turning back to her plate, she stuffed a piece of the roll into her mouth, hoping that would be enough to deter further questions.


‘’Seriously, if ferret boy has done anything to you Mione, and I mean anything, I will…’’


‘’You will what Ron? What exactly are you going to do to stop him? Because you always say that and I have yet to hear you finish that sentence. Malfoy isn’t doing anything to me, and right now I just want to eat my breakfast in peace!’’ She snapped and grabbed a peach out of a bowl next to her.


‘’Ron was only saying.’’ Harry reproached her, his eyes wide.


‘’No he wasn’t, he was trying to control my life, as per bloody usual. Don’t talk to him too much, don’t do this, don’t do that. As if I can’t look out for myself.’’


‘’We know you can take care of yourself, we just get worried because you’re so isolated in the Head Chambers. That’s all it is, isn’t it Ron? Isn’t it?’’ Harry dug his elbow into Ron’s ribs. Ron glanced up sulkily and nodded once.


‘’Suppose so. No need to bite my fucking head off.’’


‘’Stop trying to control me, and I’ll stop biting your head off!’’ 


‘’Will the pair of you just SHUT UP?’’ Harry shouted, rolling his eyes. ‘’Honestly, you drive me absolutely mad!’’


Hermione’s eyes flashed angrily and she stood up, knocking her plate forward and spilling crumbs all over the table. ‘’Fine, I’ll go.’’ She spat and marched off towards the door.


Harry stared at the table, glaring at the crumbs and then sweeping them onto the floor with a knock of his hand. ‘’What the hell is wrong with her?’’


‘’That time of the month? She’ll be fine by tomorrow.’’

 

But Hermione’s behaviour didn’t change at all. She was consistently brilliant in her lessons, friendly to the girls in Gryffindor, pleasant to the other houses, running the Prefect meetings as usual, liasing with Professor McGonagall. But she barely spoke to Harry and Ron, apart from the bare minimum, and even that appeared to be laced with hate.


Ron and Harry couldn’t understand. They didn’t see Hermione and Draco sitting in their common room every night, having a drink and chatting away, with Draco dropping choice little nuggets of poison into Hermione’s ears. Under his guidance, her hatred of her two oldest friends was becoming more and more ingrained and obvious. 


As her hatred grew, Draco’s attraction to her grew. He could look at her and admit that she was utterly gorgeous, secure and happy. So what if she was a Mudblood? The Lord that he served was a Halfblood, and he wanted Hermione to work with him, so she couldn’t be that bad. Now that she was separated from the other two, she wasn’t unbearable. She wasn’t a know-it-all, she was just amazingly clever. She wasn’t ugly, she had just been waiting to blossom. She wasn’t naïve, she was innocent. She wasn’t a Gryffindor, she was Hermione. And Merlin, every time I see her, I want her more.

Hermione was finding Draco more and more attractive, giving him the kind of status that young girls give to their moviestar crushes. If she could have plastered her room with posters of him, she would have. Every time she saw him, she wanted to throw herself at him and have him kiss her to within an inch of her life. She still obstinately told herself that the crush was purely physical, with no hint of emotion, and that she still wanted to bring him down. But that only made her think of Harry and Ron. Some part of her knew that she wasn’t being fair to them, and that they had never spitefully tried to pull her away from another guy, but that part was easily overwhelmed by the seething wave of resentment that overcame her whenever she even thought of them. Whereas Draco…


And it was becoming far more emotional. It is impossible to talk to someone for hours at a time and not form some kind of emotional attachment to them. And when Draco wasn’t being a spiteful prick (which he wasn’t around Hermione) he was sweet, and funny and clever. Essentially, he was every teenage girl’s ideal crush. And Hermione, while being the brightest witch of her generation, was still a teenage girl and subject to exactly the same crushes that all other teenage girls got. Regardless of what her logic knew, Hermione’s emotion was telling her that Draco was practically golden, just slightly tarnished from the Deatheater association. If anyone had so much as tried to suggest that Draco was drugging her, they would have found themselves at the receiving end of a particularly venomous curse. Draco was on a pedestal and Hermione had no intention of letting him fall. If it hadn’t been for the fact that she had sworn to the Order to try and break Draco Malfoy, she wouldn’t have had a problem.


That was the other problem. She desperately wanted to speak to someone in the order, aware that she was undergoing a complete personality makeover, and not entirely liking it. If she could speak to Tonks, she just knew that she could sort the entire problem, and go back to hating Draco, and loving Harry and Ron. But the Order had decided that the three recruits should be left entirely alone, so that they acted authentically. If they were receiving orders, it was quite possible that Draco would notice that something was wrong. Contact was only to be made if there was an extreme emergency, and Hermione couldn’t quite convince herself that she was an extreme emergency – a little misguided, yes, a major disaster, definitely not. Neither Harry nor Ron had thought to contact the Order, still believing that Hermione’s mood swings were down to stress or some kind of extended PMS. So Hermione carried on lusting after Draco and ignoring her best friends. 


 

But rejection can only go so far, and Ron and Harry cracked after an incident that Draco had desperately been hoping for since the start of term. It happened on a perfectly normal evening in the Gryffindor common room. Harry and Ron were sitting at a table, working out new Quidditch plays, while Hermione sat in front of the fire reading. The boys began enchanting the diagrams to wriggle around, laughing as they watched their opponents being smashed on the paper.

‘’Mione, come and see!’’ Hermione stood up reluctantly and went and stood behind them, watching the red and gold arrows destroy all comers.


‘’Which one is that?’’ she asked, pointing at an arrow that had been attacked by the entire team.


‘’That’s Malfoy.’’ Ron laughed, looking at her and expecting her to join in with the joke.


‘’Ron! That’s utterly vile!’’ she grabbed the sheet of parchment and tore it in half.


‘’Mione, have you forgotten who Malfoy is?’’ Harry asked her, waving a hand in front of her eyes. She pushed it aside angrily.

‘’You know, if you would just take some time to get to know him, he’s an amazing person!’’ seeing the incredulity on their faces, Hermione forgot the caution with which she had proceeded for the past couple of weeks and continued to give her two friends a complete run down of Draco’s positive aspects. But before she could finish, Ron stood up in front of her and pushed past her towards the stairs to his dormitory. Harry, guessing where his best friend was going, grabbed the remaining parchment sheets and followed him. Hermione suddenly realised that she might have gone too far. ‘’Where are you going?’’


‘’I don’t have to stand there and have my best friend tell me about how wonderful my enemy is.’’ Ron spat at her. ‘’It appears that you’ve forgotten everything that Malfoy’s done to us, but I’m not going to.’’


‘’Ron…it’s not like that.’’


‘’Just fuck off back to him Hermione.’’


Hermione bristled. ‘’How dare you speak to me like that Ronald?’’


‘’I think the question is, how dare you speak to me like that Hermione? You clearly aren’t the girl that I’ve been a friend with for so long, because she had some sense of whom her real friends were, and she wouldn’t do anything to hurt them. By definition, shacking up with the enemy, generally involves hurting friends!’’


‘’Harry? Do you think the same as him?’’ Hermione turned to him, her eyes wide.


‘’Maybe you should go Hermione.’’ Those words could have sounded so caring, but just scorched her ears. Shaking her head slightly, she grabbed her book and moved out of the Common Room. She was back in her quarters before she gave in to the tears and then Draco was there, willing to wipe her tears away, and remind her of how much she hated the boys anyway. Of course, the mug of hot chocolate that he had made her helped a lot as well.


Draco couldn’t help grinning over the top of Hermione’s head as she nestled her head on his shoulder. The Dark Lord had set an extremely demanding schedule, and he had been worried about meeting it, but with this new development it looked as though he would be ok. Cupping Hermione's chin in his hand, he raised her face and lost himself in her lips. Everything was going to plan. 


 

Of course, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and as Draco had identified, there was a major problem with this entire set up. If Hermione failed to take the potion for one night, she would revert to her usual self, with full knowledge of what had been done to her. Tonight would be that night.


 

Draco was having the loveliest dream he had ever had. Hermione had casually savaged Wonderboy and his pet in front of the entire school, leaving them red and gaping as she glided away from them. Walking straight up to Draco, she had kissed him with more conviction than he had ever been kissed, and then rolled up his sleeve to kiss the Dark Mark on his arm. Suddenly, she was a Deatheater and…then she was killing? He frowned in his sleep. Hermione shouldn’t kill – she was far too innocent to have someone else’s blood on her hands. Hell, if he couldn’t manage it, then surely she wouldn’t be able to.


‘’Hermione, don’t!’’ he shouted and ran towards her, hoping that her wand would fall, and as she turned towards him, her arm lowered. 

‘’But why Draco?’’ her face was a picture of complete innocence and confusion. ‘’I thought that was what you wanted me to do. Why else would I be a Deatheater?’’

‘’I don’t know.’’ He ran his hands through his hair. ‘’But you shouldn’t kill. I know that.’’

‘’Well then, why am I here?’’ She cocked her head to one side, the man she was going to kill completely vanished. It was just the pair of them now. 

‘’Because I can’t bear to lose you.’’ Draco blurted, staring into the gorgeous eyes that looked at him with such trust. 

‘’You wouldn’t lose me if I killed someone.’’

‘’I would! You wouldn’t be Hermione anymore, and you’re too precious to be lost.’’

‘’Well why didn’t you tell me before?’’

He stepped towards her and ran his hands up her cold arms. ‘’Before what?’’

‘’Before he came and took me away.’’ Voldemort’s face suddenly loomed over the two young people. ‘’He wants me for his, Draco. I’m going to be lost. You never told me that you needed me, you never told me that you wanted me! I didn’t know what you wanted me to do. I thought this was what I needed to do to keep you!’’ Hermione had tears running down her face now, as Voldemort’s cold fingers closed around her waist and yanked her away, leaving Draco with tears on his face and completely alone.

Suddenly, his eyes snapped open, and he breathed in deeply. I don’t want Hermione to be a murderer. Hell, I barely want her to be a Deatheater. Still, if she does that, I’m sure she could stay safely in the background. But wait… Draco paused as he realised that he was already beginning to build an entire future where he and Hermione were blissfully happy, despite the Lord.


But could he be happy without the Lord? Everything in his family life had indicated that the happiness of the Lord was the most important thing. So, if he kept Voldemort happy then maybe, just maybe, he could keep Hermione?


But he didn’t want Hermione to be a caged animal, made to perform magic and kill on command. He wanted Hermione, just the way she was, completely innocent. So…


I could…I could get her to admit her feelings for me. I know she has them, she quivers whenever I touch her. And then, I could say what I’m doing, and why I want her with me. And then, because she wants me, she’ll do a few things for the Lord, but she’ll stay untouched by the War and then we’ll be happy. Draco lay in his bed, happily building his castles, but painfully aware that the Hermione he wanted, was drugged into her current state. Yes, she fancied him, but everything else was an illusion created by the potion. She would never willingly work with Voldemort, no matter how she felt towards Draco.


Sighing, he thought hard about the problem. Seeing no solution to the problem of Voldemort, he decided that this evening he would tell Hermione how he felt about her. Under the influence of the potion, she would confide her feelings as well – and that would get that problem out of the way at least.

Why does everything have to be so confusing?

 

Later that evening, Hermione sat in front of the fire. She was looking forward more and more to this part of her day. While it was fun chatting with the girls, she also liked having male company, and Draco was fast taking the place of Ron and Harry, with the added benefit of being far more attractive.

However, he seemed to be able to distinguish between the physical and emotional parts of their relationships with far more ease than she was. Before and while they were drinking, they spoke and that was it. After they had finished drinking, however, that was Draco’s cue to tackle her and kiss her so hard that her lips felt tender the next day. But even that small bruising was enough to make her smile blissfully. Even while she was kissing him, she knew that she wanted more, that she wanted to feel every inch of his skin against hers, and the kissing would one day have to give way to more. But, first, she needed more from him than discussion of the latest wizarding scandal, although she knew she was never likely to get it.


Which was why she was so surprised when Draco swept into the common room without any drinks and captured her lips in a kiss tenderer than any of their previous encounters. His hand tangled in her hair as he gently moved his lips against her. Sliding down next to her, he pulled away from her lips and placed tiny butterfly kisses against her cheeks, her eyelids, her forehead, gradually working back down to her mouth. Just as he was losing himself in her mouth, which tasted of the fresh mint of toothpaste, he felt the Dark Mark burning. No matter how much he wanted to stay (Hermione had an extremely intriguing top on, that seemed to require some kind of further investigation, and kissing her was so dizzying that he wanted to drop his heart on her lap at that very minute), there was nothing for it. I have to go…I’d better pretend that I’ve been planning to do this all evening. Oh shit…I need to go but Hermione don’t do that when I’m trying to leave! Oh, one more kiss won’t matter…fuck that hurts, I suppose it does matter! Desperately wrenching himself from her soft mouth, wishing more than anything to lose himself in her again, Draco stared deep into her eyes.


‘’Darling, I have to go out this evening.’’ 


The look on her face was heart breaking. ‘’Oh…really?’’


‘’But I couldn’t leave without doing that. When I get back, we’re going to talk ok? About everything?’’ seeing the panic on her face, he stopped and smiled ‘’it’s a good talk! I have no intention of ending this unless you do.’’ She smiled at him, her eyes wide with adoration. ‘’And keep the top on. I definitely need to examine that closely.’’


Smoothing a final kiss onto her mouth, Draco left the room, running up to his room to grab his uniform and the portkey that would take him to the meeting. His lips tingled with the taste of Hermione and he thought about her dreamily, remembering everything about her, loving everything about her. He completely forgot that he hadn’t given her any of the potion.

 

Hermione woke up the next morning, her head feeling remarkably clear. Draco hadn’t come back by one in the morning, so she had decided to go to bed, leaving the ‘intriguing’ top on her chair. Lifting her head up and smiling at it briefly, she flopped back down onto her pillows and thought about Draco.


But…there was something that wasn’t quite right. She knew that Harry and Ron would never have approved of her feeling this way about the boy that had been so repetitively vile from the very first day of Hogwarts, but that wasn’t it. Why had she been so horrible to them? Was she…resentful? About anything?

Dredging through her thoughts, she couldn’t think of any reason to be horrible to her best friends. I mean, they wouldn’t have approved, and I would have gotten over it, they wouldn’t have dragged me away from him because I would have realised that it was stupid. So what’s wrong?

With a sudden flash of clarity, Hermione knew exactly what had happened. The cosy late night sessions with Draco that had always involved a drink of some kind…apart from last night!

Leaping out of bed, she ran to her desk and rummaged for her potions textbook. Quick…quick! Where the fuck is it? I think I know what it is, but please, please let me be wrong. Please don’t let him have been tricking me all this time, please don’t let everything have been a lie. Oh shit. Hermione let the book fall open.

 

The Melange Subtil is a highly dangerous and powerful potion, not to be attempted by beginners. This brew has the combined effects of Veritaserum and the Imperius curse, causing the taker to not only become extremely truthful, but to become victim to all manner of suggestions. Emotional responses can become much exaggerated while under the influence of this potion, and…

 

Hermione dropped the book. She didn’t need to read any further. She knew exactly what it was going to say (after all, she had already memorised her textbooks); she had just needed the confirmation. Malfoy had been drugging her, turning her against her friends, using her tiny crush to manipulate her entire life. A tear rolled down her face – it didn’t appear that her crush would disappear with the potion. She had trusted him, and he had manoeuvred her shamelessly, with no regard to her feelings. Another tear fell onto the book – had he ever felt anything for her?


Slowly pulling on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, crying the entire time, lamenting the relationship that never was, she recalled the look on Draco’s face as he had spoken to her last night. How could he have done that? Used her for his own ends, with no regard to anything? Because he was a Malfoy, she supposed, although she had thought he was different. Suddenly, she gasped. What about Harry and Ron? Without even stopping to put on a pair of shoes, she ran out of her room, tearing along the corridors, sobbing as she sprinted.

 

The first that Ron knew about Hermione coming out from under the potion was when a small, brunette with bare feet dashed into the common room and looked around desperately. He stood up ‘’Hermione?’’ Letting out another desolate sob, the fragile figure flung herself into his arms and cried madly. Only understanding the occasional phrase, he stroked her back repeatedly and murmured the meaningless platitudes that people do on such occasions. Making eye contact with a first year, he indicated that he wanted him to go to the dormitory and find Harry. With a series of increasingly intricate head movements he told the rest of the room that he wanted them to piss off NOW!

 

Reluctantly, everyone else stood up and moved away, perfectly aware that a huge scandal was taking place under their very noses, and furious that they couldn’t take part in it, or at least find out what it was about. Harry came down the stairs, his hair even more of a mess than usual, wearing a scruffy pair of jeans and t-shirt. Rubbing the top of his head in confusion, his eyes snapped open as he saw the distraught form that Ron was trying to comfort.


Poor Ron was even more ambushed than Harry was. On the few occasions that he had had to comfort Ginny, she had usually stopped crying after a few minutes after he had told her ‘don’t worry everything will be ok’’, even if it was just to snap ‘’Merlin, Ron, you’re so bloody useless! Mum!’’ But Hermione didn’t show any signs of stopping, and he could feel the front of his t-shirt becoming more and more soaked.


In the end, Harry put his arm around Hermione’s shoulders and pulled her away, loosening her hands where they were clutching Ron’s t-shirt. ‘’Darling, darling you have to let go…come on…come on, sit down here.’’ He sat her on a sofa, and he and Ron sat on either side of her, trying to comfort her. Eventually her sobbing stopped enough for her to choke out an apology. ‘’I’m so sorry, so so so so so sorry! He…he…he… drugged me!’’ With that, Hermione dissolved back into tears.


Ron looked over her head at Harry. He had never felt anything like the rage that he was feeling now. His feelings for Hermione were no longer amorous, but he still felt protective towards her – he was practically her brother. Looking at Harry, he knew that he was feeling exactly the same way. Tightening the arm that he had around Mione’s shoulders, letting her cry even more. ‘’Darling, what exactly did he do to you?’’


Hermione jerked in several deep breaths, letting her crying stop, and angrily dashing away tears from her eyes. She rapidly began to filter through her memories. Which ones can I let them have? Which ones should I hide away? Suddenly, she realised what she was doing and clapped her hand to her forehead to stop it. These are my best friends. I can tell them everything…I need to tell them everything. With that in her mind, she grasped their hands, and began.


‘’I haven’t been entirely truthful with you, partly because of the potion he gave me, but I must take some of the blame. Once we got here, and I had been living with Malfoy, I began to have a small crush on him.’’ Tightening her grip on their hands, she continued. ‘’It didn’t mean anything, it was just that we had been living in such close quarters it would have been difficult not to have been attracted to him. There wasn’t anything emotional in it at all, and if it hadn’t been for the potion, it would have disappeared into nothing. Even while I wanted him, I wanted to destroy him, so please don’t hate me?’’ She asked them, turning from one to the other. They shook their heads – what was happening now had gone beyond a crush, and that didn’t matter anymore. Hermione smiled slightly in relief and carried on. ‘’Then Malfoy began giving me Melange Subtil. It has the joined effects of Veritaserum and the Imperius curse. He played on the fact that I had a crush on him and manipulated me, implanting hateful messages in my head – which is why I’ve been so bloody to you recently. Every evening he had been giving me a dose of the potion, but when he didn’t manage to last night, the effects went, and I realised what he’d been doing.’’ She breathed in deeply and looked from one concerned face to the other.


‘’Why was the bastard drugging you Mione?’’ Ron asked, his eyebrows furrowed. ‘’You’re sure that you can remember everything? He didn’t…take advantage of you did he?’’


‘’He didn’t rape me. But we did kiss every evening.’’ Hermione’s hands clenched in the grasp of the boys’.


‘’Because of the potion?’’


‘’I think so. Ron, I still have a crush on him but I’m not in love with him. I can’t love him after what he’s done to me.’’ The spiteful little voice in her head laughed. Oh yeah? Honey, you know that you want to see him more than ever. You know that that potion just took away your inhibitions – it let you do what you wanted to do. Ok, he’s a rat, but you wanted him all along. Hermione amended her statement – ‘’well, I have a crush on him, and I don’t know how quickly it’ll go, but he will never mean as much to me as you two do. Ever.’’


The boys smiled in relief and stroked her hands. ‘’We need to know why he was drugging you Mione. Once we know that we can beat him. You said he didn’t give you the potion last night. Why?’’


‘’I don’t know!’’ Hermione stood up and began pacing, all tears forgotten. ‘‘He came in, and kissed me – don’t grind your teeth Ron, it’s so bad for them – and then he just left, I don’t know where.’’


‘’Let’s go up to your dorm! If he’s up there, maybe we can get something out of him.’’ Ron stood up and checked that he had his wand.


‘’I have a better idea.’’ Hermione turned around and smiled. ‘’We’ll go up to the dorm, but we need to get his memories in pristine condition, not in some garbled form. Harry, do you know where Dumbledore’s pensieve is?

Chapter 4: Chapter four
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Tiptoeing up the stairs to Draco’s room, Hermione looked back at the boys, carrying the pensieve (McGonagall had been keeping it, and had handed it over without question). Nudging the door open, she looked in and saw Draco asleep, one of his arms dangling down to the floor. Stepping towards him, she froze as he moved slightly, but he had only moved his arm so that the Dark Mark was clearly visible. She heard Ron mutter something that sounded like ‘Honestly, Hermione?’’ but ignored him and crept further forward. She hadn’t wanted to stun him in case he woke up, and she was hoping that in a completely relaxed state, he wouldn’t be able to fight against her stealing his memories. Placing her wand against his head, she closed her eyes and focused for a minute, only hearing his gentle breathing. Not daring to look at his face because of the feelings that she was sure would overwhelm her; she drew the wand away, only looking down to check for the silvery strand. Oh thank Merlin, it’s worked. But how do I know what I’m getting?  Chewing on her lip for a minute as she dropped the strand into the waiting pensieve, she smiled slightly and bent closer to his ear and whispered ‘Hermione’.  Working frantically, she pulled out all the strands that she was hoping would correspond with memories of her. Finally, when the basin seemed to be brimming, she began to back away, but Draco’s hand shot out and grabbed her wrist.

Shooting a terrified glance at Ron and Harry, she motioned for them to back away and try to get away. This will have all been in vain if they get caught! They got outside the door and looked in at her, beckoning her madly, but Draco had a firm hold on her. He was mumbling something, of which only her name was audible. Mouthing ‘sorry’ at the boys, Hermione bent down and pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead, determinedly rejecting the familiar scent that floated up to her. It worked, and Draco let go of her, letting her back away, with her aching heart.

Quickly running back along the corridors, they walked back and forth in front of the Room of Requirement, asking for a place where they would not be discovered. Flopping onto the carpet in the room and placing the pensieve between them, Hermione gave the contents a cursory stir with her wand. ‘’Right. Shall we go then?’’ Without waiting for an answer, she plunged straight into the silvery mists. Harry and Ron quickly followed her, and all three found themselves waiting in an enormous, dark cavern. Deatheaters surrounded them and all three instinctively reached for their wands. However all heads snapped towards the back of the cavern as Voldemort walked in, and all the Deatheaters sank to their knees. Harry’s jaw clenched, and Hermione reached out to rub his upper arm. Voldemort began to speak, his sibilant voice proudly giving out details of recent murders. Finally, Draco was called to the front of the cavern.

Unlike the other Deatheaters, he was not wearing the mask and long robes. His silver blonde hair shone in the dark, and he looked nervously at the impassive faces. Falling to his knees and bowing his head, he waited for Voldemort to speak.

Funny, he doesn’t really look like he wants to be here. Hermione quickly stopped herself. Draco was a Deatheater, he had the Mark and he was a bastard, and a scumbag. Enough said. Think bad thoughts about him, and maybe, just maybe, the rest will follow. Oh Merlin, who am I kidding?

‘’Do you know Hermione Granger?’’ Hermione gasped at hearing her name emanate from the cruel mouth.

‘’Yes my lord. She is a worthless Mudblood in my year at Hogwarts.’’

‘’Mudblood, yes. Worthless, no. I plan to have the infamous Miss Granger on my side.’’ Hermione grabbed at Ron’s wrist and breathed in deeply. ‘’Imagine the effects on the Boy-Who-Won’t-Die and the rest of those fools! The wonderful Granger flinging curse after curse at them! They won't be able to fight against her, their dear, precious friend.’’

‘’But my Lord…she is closely affiliated with them’’ Draco spoke as though he were afraid to do so.

‘’That is where you come in boy. You will bring her to me, willing to do my bidding. I have no doubt that she will be able to fight against the Imperius curse because of her relationship with Potter, so you will have to find some other means of bringing her to me.’’

Without another word, the memory dissolved and they found themselves back in the Room of Requirement. Hermione stuck her wand into the mixture and pulled that memory out, thrusting it into a small vial and throwing it to one side. Without saying another word, she jumped back into the mixture, not giving the hurt a second to catch up with her.

When Harry and Ron joined her, she was watching Draco brewing the potion in his bedroom. Watching him add lacewings and stirring anti-clockwise, she wanted to spit on him. Spit on him and his beautiful, gorgeous, sexy face. He poured it into a bottle and they followed him as he went down to the Common Room. Hermione watched herself come into the room in her black shorts, the apprehension clearly written across her face. Ron snorted. ‘’Hermione, what are you wearing?’’

‘’At this point, I was only flirting with him to try and get information.’’ She snapped and watched as she and Draco sat on the sofa and spoke. ‘’This will go on for a while. I think we spoke for about two hours.’’ Secretly, she was surprised that Draco had remembered that much of their conversation, but she hid it and put up with the teasing from Ron and Harry. Clearly, they weren’t that bothered anymore now that everything was out in the open. She smiled back at them, and realised how much she had missed them. Finally, it got to the point where Draco offered her a drink.

‘’Guys, pay attention, this is when he does it!’’

In silence, they watched as Malfoy poured a drink from the bottle that he had brought down with him and gave it to Hermione. Pretending to drink from his glass, he watched as Hermione downed it. Listening to their following conversation, Hermione realised where her desire to change her clothing had come from. Well, that’s not going back to normal, I like it this way. Oh Merlin, I know what’s coming next! Grabbing the guys, she spun them around. ‘’Guys, we don’t need to watch any more of this. All we do is…’’

But Ron had already turned back and seen them deep in a clinch. ‘’Hermione! You’re giving just as good as you’re getting there.’’

‘’Ron, I didn’t have any inhibitions left! Please, I don’t want to remember this, I just want to leave.’’ Leaving the memory, they bottled it, and flicked quickly through the other ones, seeing how Draco had planted his hatred of Harry and Ron into Hermione. Finally they came to the last one.

‘’I think this will be the first one I took, so I don’t know if it will be of any use to us. But I suppose we could have a look anyway.’’ Tumbling into the memory, Hermione landed in a scene she didn’t recognise.

‘’I think this is a dream. I don’t remember it.’’ Running forward, she heard Ron following and Harry shouting after her.

Suddenly, she and Draco sprang up in front of her, in a passionate embrace. Blushing slightly, she forgot everything as Voldemort stood next to her, about twenty times bigger than usual. He watched calmly as Draco entwined his hands in her hair, but then reached down and plucked the dream Hermione away, dangling her far above Draco.

Draco began screaming. ‘’Give her back! Give her back you bastard, she’s mine! She’s not a Deatheater!’’ Hermione stiffened. ‘’She doesn’t belong to the Dark Side! Hermione, Hermione, come back, please come back!’’

Abruptly, the dream was cut off; presumably at this point Hermione had taken the memory. Finding themselves back in the Room of Requirement, they turned to each other, the boys fearing to find some form of love on Hermione’s face.

‘’We have his weakness.’’ She smiled weakly at him. ‘’It’s me. And he’s going to lead us straight to the rest of the Deatheaters.’’ And if I get to stay close to him for just that little while longer, that can’t be a bad thing.

 

Draco woke up and rubbed his arm idly, feeling the Dark Mark as he did. Last night’s meeting had been utterly pointless: more endless bragging, and he didn’t even particularly want to be a part of it. When he had got back, Hermione had been in bed already so he had gone to sleep, only to dream about her. Dreaming about Voldemort stealing her, dreaming about her going back to Potter and Weasley. Well, the latter was never going to happen, what with the potion…

Shit! The potion! She wouldn’t have had any last night! She’s probably with McGonagall right this minute. Fuck, fuck and FUCK!

Just as he was about to go and throw himself into the lake, Hermione opened his door and wandered in, with the sweetest smile that he had ever seen. Sitting next to him, she placed her small hand on his bare chest and pushed him back down onto the pillows.

‘’I missed you last night.’’ She said, kissing his lips gently. ‘’It was horrible not having our little routine of a drink! I hope you don’t mind, I came up here and had a glass of your Fire whisky when I couldn’t sleep.’’

Draco breathed out. ‘’That one?’’ he pointed at the bottle of Melange Subtil on his desk, which did look like it had less potion in it than last night. Hermione had rinsed the bottle out thoroughly and substituted it with coloured water.

‘’Yeah. I was out like a light.’’

Harry and Ron, listening on the other end of some Extendable Ears grinned at each other. Malfoy wasn’t expecting anything now. Hermione kissed him gently again and told him she had to go to the library and do some work and left him.

Thank fuck for that! Was Draco’s only thought, desperate not only to save his own skin but keep Hermione close.

I wish it wasn’t this easy. At least under the potion I didn’t have to accept any blame for feeling this way. Beckoning to Harry and Ron, the three of them ran into Hermione’s bedroom and sat down.

‘’Ok, so he doesn’t think that I know what’s going on, that’s the first stage of the plan sorted.’’

‘’What are you going to do next?’’

‘’Pretend that I’m so pissed off with you that I don’t want to fight for the Order of the Phoenix anymore. Then he will mention that conveniently enough, he happens to be a Deatheater.’’

‘’And takes you to meet Voldemort! Brilliant.’’

‘’What happens if Voldemort wants to brand you with the Dark Mark Mione?’’ Harry asked her.

‘’I was thinking about that. I’m going to try and get hold of some temporary skin – you know, the one that Lavender used when she wanted to pretend she had a tattoo. I’ll just bind it to my skin, and hopefully the Dark Mark will bind to that, rather than to me.’’

‘’And if it doesn’t?’’

‘’Then I’ll find a way to remove it, or cover it up. My arm is not the most important thing here, Harry! Just think, if I know where they’re going to be meeting, you can go there and ambush Voldemort. If he’s caught off guard, then you’ll be able to kill him, and I’ll be there to destroy the Deatheaters from the inside!’’

Harry sighed. He still wasn’t happy with this plan, and he couldn’t shake the feeling that it was entirely his fault – that Voldemort had picked Hermione just to spite him. Of course, he knew that Hermione was amazingly clever and that would have attracted Voldemort, but did the fact that he was friends with her make her more conspicuous, more vulnerable? Shaking his head slightly, he smiled at Hermione. ‘’I’ll be there.’’

‘’I want you both to do me a favour though.’’ Hermione looked at them seriously. ‘‘Every time I come back from a meeting, every time I come away from Malfoy, every time I come back from any kind of interaction with the Deatheaters, I want to be tested with Veritaserum. Just ask me whether I’m in league with Voldemort, or if I’m planning to join the Dark Side. I don’t want anyone to be in the position where they don’t know what I’m thinking, and I want everyone to trust me.’’

The boys grinned and nodded. Typical Hermione thinks of everything.

‘’So now, we need to make sure that he thinks I hate you. Go downstairs and act like you’ve just come through the door.’’

Doing as she said, they went, and came back in. Hermione, listening to check that Draco wasn’t in the shower, pretended to notice them and shrieked with rage. ‘’WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? HOW DID YOU GET IN? GET OUT!’’

Ron and Harry stepped back in shock as Hermione bellowed, to which she narrowed her eyes and waved her hands. Suddenly realising what she expected of them, they began whining at her. ‘’Mione, don’t be like that, we were worried about you…’’

‘’AND WHY EXACTLY WOULD YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT ME?’’

‘’Mione, come on, relax.’’

‘’RELAX? RELAX? I’LL TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR RELAXATION!’’ Just as Hermione was beginning to wonder what exactly they should do with ‘relaxation’, Draco emerged from his room.

‘’What the fuck is going on?’’ Looking around, he noticed Harry and Ron. ‘’What the hell are they doing in here?’’

‘’I was just asking them.’’ Hermione looked at him and smiled but then turned around and glared at the pair stood beneath them.

‘’Well, come on Potty, Weasel Bee, what the fuck are you doing in here? Because I really don’t think that you should be harassing the Head Girl.’’

‘’Fuck off Malfoy! We want to talk to Hermione without you there.’’

‘’Well tough, because I don’t want to talk to you without Draco here!’’

‘’Mione? Did you just call the Ferret by his first name?’’

‘’Fuck off Ron, he isn’t a fucking ferret.’’ Hermione had stopped shouting now and was spitting the words at him. ‘’He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be.’’  Thankfully she had her back to Malfoy, because she was suddenly finding the situation amazingly funny, and it was all she could do not to giggle. She didn’t normally swear, apart from the occasional internal outburst, and the amount of bad language that she was using was sounding so alien, she couldn’t help but think about how abnormal the whole thing was. ‘’Just piss off. I’ve said all I want to say to you.’’

‘’Hermione. Please. Don’t do this.’’ Harry looked up at her and noticed that she was trying not to laugh. He felt the corners of his own mouth jerking around and bit on the inside of his mouth savagely.

‘’No. I won’t listen any more. You’ve been trampling me down, making me feel like shit, stopping me acting in the way I want. I won’t take it any more Potter.’’ She said the last word as venomously as she could and stepped towards Draco (no, Hermione, call him Malfoy). Wrapping an arm around his waist, she smirked down at the boys.

Draco was in heaven. Ok, it wasn’t quite as good as Hermione humiliating the two Wonderboys in front of the entire school but her humiliating them and then picking him had to be a close second. Pulling her closer to him, he lifted her chin and kissed her full on the mouth, just imagining the look on their faces. Hermione kissed him back but then broke the kiss, to stare at the two boys.

Widening her eyes apologetically, she stared them down. ‘’What are you waiting for? Piss off. Don’t speak to me again.’’ Storming past them, she opened the door and waited for them to leave, slamming it behind them. The boys immediately pulled out Extendable Ears and began listening.

Hermione turned around and smiled at Draco. Play it cool. He can’t know anything is out of the ordinary. Just begin talking about how much you hate them, and he’ll think that the potion is working.

‘’Honestly. They annoy me so much.’’

‘’I’ve been trying to make you see that the entire time. Come and sit here.’’ He patted the sofa next to him. Hermione looked at him, lounging in a black t-shirt and boxers, with ruffled hair, and went to him without a second thought. So not over him, so not going to be getting over him anytime soon. But I hate him, I hate him for what he did to me. But it doesn’t stop me wanting him. Come on, Hermione, brightest witch of your generation, try acting like it! But any form of common sense was a long time in coming, and she kissed him as desperately as she had while under the influence of the potion. Harry and Ron looked at each other as they heard the silence and then shrugged. Hermione had to maintain a front. There wasn’t anything personal in it.

Oh Merlin, I’m completely letting Harry and Ron down. They think I’m over him. I know I’m in lust with him, but how can lust possibly overcome all of the disgusting things he’s done? Hermione, you need to wake up! Come on! Wrenching herself away from his beautiful, soft mouth, Hermione didn’t even have to try for a look of regret.

‘’Draco. I don’t want to cause any offence, but do you know Deatheaters? Because I heard the rumours about you last year.’’

She could see him judging the situation, whether it was the right time to tell her. ‘’Because I don’t want to fight alongside Potter and Weasley anymore. I don’t want to put my life in the hands of those who won’t even let me grow up, who want to track my every move.’’ She took in a deep breath and turned his arm over so that she could stroke the Dark Mark. ‘’I want to help the Dark Lord.’’

 

Convinced that her tongue was turning black from all the lies that she was telling, she waited with bated breath to see if Malfoy would take the bait. Come on, you want to believe me, just believe me. Don’t try and make me take Veritaserum, you think that I’m under the influence of Melange Subtil. Come on, please say something!

‘’I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear you say that.’’ Draco’s voice was the trademark Malfoy drawl, but it wasn’t repulsive, it just made Hermione want to lean forward and kiss him again. ‘’Yeah, obviously, I’m a Deatheater.’’ He held up his forearm. ‘’The Dark Lord will definitely want to see you – he has heard of your skill with magic. Next time I’m summoned, I’ll bring you.’’

‘’Thank you.’’ Hermione smiled at him sweetly, and fingered her wand.

‘’Of course, I suppose you could always thank me for what I’m going to do for you.’’

Hermione batted her eyelashes coyly. It’s awful that I don’t really need any encouragement to kiss him. But this can be my reward for my hard work. It’s all going to have to stop soon anyway. Hopefully Harry and Ron will go. Glancing towards the door, she couldn’t see the ends of the Extendable Ears and correctly assumed that they had left.  She leaned forward and pressed her lips to Malfoy’s, the only boy that had been consistently foul to her at Hogwarts, and never wanted to leave him. Opening her mouth so that his tongue could slip into her mouth, she let him push her back and lie on top of her. Running her hands down his back, she felt him do the same, tugging at her shirt. Out of the blue, she felt a rush of fire overcome her, and she pushed him back. He landed on the floor and was about to open his mouth and protest but then Hermione straddled him, pulling her shirt off. Draco smiled up at her – ‘’brave little lioness.’’

The pair kissed a little longer, and gradually Draco was looking down at her again, his hair even more dishevelled. ‘’Are you sure that you want to do this?’’

‘’Draco, I wouldn’t be lying underneath you without my clothes if I wasn’t sure.’’

Kissing her, he slipped inside of her. Gasping slightly at the sudden pain, Hermione soon smiled as he kissed her again. I don’t know I should be doing this but thank Merlin we’ve had this. Thank Merlin I’ve had this time with him. Then all thoughts were forgotten as she focused on the handsome face above her.

Later, Draco woke up and looked down at the beautiful mess that was their entangled limbs. Moving away gently, he kissed Hermione and covered her over with a blanket. He went up to his room, and pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Throwing a pinch of Floo Powder into the fire that he had lit, he stuck his head in and shouted the name of the place where he knew he could contact his master. Giving the password, he waited for a servant to fetch Voldemort. Finally, he arrived.

‘’My lord. Hermione Granger has chosen to join us.’’

‘’Excellent. Boy, you may just have redeemed yourself here. What did you use?’’

‘’Melange Subtil. I ingrained the hatred, but she asked me if I could bring her here.’’

‘’Excellent. Bring her here this evening.’’ With that, Voldemort swept out of Draco’s line of vision. He pulled out of the fire and went back down the stairs to watch Hermione. She was curled up peacefully, her eyelashes resting on her cheeks as she slept. He dropped another kiss on her mouth and sat back to watch. I hadn’t realised that she was still a virgin. I thought she and Weasley would have done the nasty, but apparently not. Merlin, I’m lucky. Draco was finding it easier and easier to admit that he had feelings for Hermione. Now, the idea of calling her Mudblood no longer appealed. Ok, she was Muggleborn, but that was an accident of birth, she was easily the best witch he had ever seen. He didn’t want her to be a Deatheater, but if that was all it took to keep her safe, he would make sure that she followed Voldemort for as long as it took.

Hermione wriggled under the blanket and then her eyes flicked open. Seeing Draco, she sat up, the blanket falling about her waist, leaving her chest completely exposed. She looked down, looked at Draco, gave a saucy wink and then covered herself up again. Resisting the temptation to leap on her again, Draco coughed. ‘’We are meeting the Dark Lord tonight. He’ll send a portkey for us, he doesn’t want the location getting out.’’

‘’Fantastic!’’ Hermione leapt up, genuinely thrilled. This means it worked! We managed to fool him. ‘’I’m gonna go have a shower and get myself cleaned up. No one will be calling me filthy.’’ She laughed and carried on, and then turned around, frowning slightly. ‘’Draco, I’m a muggleborn. Why would Vol…I mean, why would the Dark Lord want to meet me?’’

‘’He’s a half and half Mione. I suppose he can overlook birth in exceptional circumstances, and you are definitely exceptional.’’

Beaming at him, Hermione carried on up the stairs, only stopping once she was in her room. Running to the window, she looked around for Hedwig; Harry had promised she would be there. Seeing the white owl, she let her into the room and scribbled a quick note.

 

It worked! How fantastic is that? I’m meeting Voldemort tonight. I don’t know where which is a bit of a bummer. He’s sending a portkey, but for next time, we can make a tracking device. Then you’ll be able to follow us. As soon as I get back, I’ll send you a message and we can meet and discuss all events. Stay safe while I’m gone. Mione x

 

Harry let the note fall into the fire. ‘’Ron, she’s doing it again. She’s so thrilled to be useful and succeeding that she’s forgotten that she is going to have to meet Voldemort.’’

The redhead tipped his head back against the sofa. ‘’We can’t go and see her, can we? Malfoy’ll twig that something’s wrong.’’

Harry nodded. ‘’How could she have forgotten everything about Voldemort? If she makes a single wrong move, or gives a single thing away, then she’s dead.’’

‘’Harry, she’s amazingly clever, she isn’t going to let anything slip. And Voldemort will think that she’s under the influence of that potion, so he won’t give her Veritaserum. Harry, what’s wrong?’’

Harry had gone as white as a sheet. ‘’Ron. Ron, Voldemort knows legilimency.’’

 

 

Hermione was blissfully unaware of the panic of her friends. She had completely forgotten about Voldemort’s mind reading powers, and while she was scared about meeting him, the thrill of the chase was getting to her. She was on the road to success and she wasn’t going to give in now. Smoothing down the tight black trousers and black t-shirt she had on, she pulled her hair into a ponytail and slipped on a black robe over the top. Carefully drawing on a thick line of black kohl around her eyes, she coated her lashes in mascara and pattered down to the Common Room. Draco stared at her: the way she had outlined her eyes was making them glow like  precious stones. Holding out the portkey (a thick book), he gestured for her to grab hold of it. A minute later, she felt the familiar jerk behind her navel and the next minute had landed in the cavern that she had seen in Draco’s memory.

Draco was already standing up, and she took the hand that he extended and let him pull her to her feet. He had put on his mask, and the eerie features creeped her out so much that she suddenly realised what she had gotten herself into. Her heartbeat picked up so much that she was sure everyone else could hear it. It felt as though it were about to burst out of her chest. A sense of dread enveloped her and caught in her throat as the adrenaline rushed through her body. She noticed the other Deatheaters watching her and straightened her shoulders.

I’ve got this far. I’m damn well not going to fall at the last post. Raising her chin, she felt the reassuring shape of her wand, at easy reach, and looked towards the front of the cavern. At that moment, Voldemort swept out. All the Deatheaters fell to their knees, and Hermione swallowed the bitter feeling in her mouth and joined them, bowing her head to stare at the floor. She saw Voldemort’s robes in front of her, bringing cold air with them and bent her head even further.

‘’Miss Granger’’ the ‘s’ was exaggerated in the ‘miss’. ‘’We are honoured by your presence.’’

‘’Not nearly as much as I am to be here and in your presence my Lord.’’ She instinctively knew what she had to say.

‘’But what brings you from the side of the wondrous Mr Potter.’’

‘’I have been seriously misguided my Lord. Potter holds no charm for me.’’

‘’I doubt that Potter holds much charm for anyone.’’

Hermione remained still, not sure what was expected of her. Should she join in with savaging Potter, or would that mark her out as too keen? ‘’A loser never does hold much charm my Lord.’’

She breathed in relief as he chuckled evilly. ‘’Raise your head Miss Granger.’’

Composing her features, Hermione raised her face. She met the red gaze for a few seconds before letting her gaze hover more meekly in the region of his neck. ‘’What an intriguing face you have Miss Granger.’’

‘’Thank you for your kind consideration of it My Lord.’’

‘’Hypnotizing eyes. Almost similar to those of a vampire.’’

Oh Merlin! Is he planning to turn me into a vampire? I can’t get past that one. Hermione fought down her panic and let a look of adoration play about her face.

‘’So, what do you plan to do for me Miss Granger?’’

‘’My Lord, I have long been referred to as the brightest witch of my generation. I wish to bring my powers to your service, puny though they are in comparison to yours. If I can do anything to assist your rise to power, I will consider myself extremely lucky.’’

‘’Impressive Miss Granger. But I have only ever seen your powers when they are thwarting me. Perhaps you would care to show me what you can do that would aid me.’’ It was not a request but a command. Pulling her wand out of her pocket, Hermione fixed her gaze on a large boulder in front of her.

‘’Briser tranchante!’’ she commanded and let a violent purple light escape her wand. It thudded into the boulder, which promptly shattered into a thousand sharp daggers. Each flung itself through the air to pause at a Deatheater’s chest. She turned to Voldemort. ‘’With one more motion of my wand I could kill all of your followers. Now imagine me turning that power on Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I can perform that spell on anything – even water will turn to ice shards underneath it.’’

Voldemort looked meditatively at his followers. ‘’Where did you hear that spell?’’

‘’I made it up myself my Lord.’’

‘’Once again, Miss Granger, impressive. However, I cannot quite shake the impression that you are holding something back from me.’’

Hermione and Draco both breathed in sharply. ‘’What must I do to convince you my Lord?’’

Please, everything depends on this.

Instead of answering, Voldemort turned his wand on her. ‘’Cruciatus.’’

Hermione writhed in pain, screams echoing around the cavern. Releasing the curse after a minute, the Dark Lord watched her panting. As her defences were down, Voldemort began to slide inside her mind. Feeling his presence, Hermione instinctively filtered off memories of her plots with Harry and Ron and built the strongest wall that she could around them, desperately thinking that she wanted to join Voldemort. Conjuring up the most evil thoughts that she could, she tried to create future impressions of what she would be willing to do.

Voldemort stopped and withdrew. ‘’You were hiding something Miss Granger.’’

Hermione’s eyes widened, and she braced herself for the killing curse. Voldemort turned to his Deatheaters. ‘’she was hiding something. She is…’’ a long pause followed as Hermione lay there, aching and waiting for her death ‘’innocent.’’

What? Innocent?

‘’She has never killed. True, she has evil thoughts, but they have never been implemented.’’ He turned back to Hermione and smiled, his red eyes glinting. ‘’but I do so enjoy a challenge. Corrupting Miss Granger will be highly enjoyable. Welcome to the Deatheaters.’’


hey everyone, thanks for reading Chapter Four of conflict and conspiracy. I hope you're enjoying it. Now, let's get to the point of this message : I have actually finished this story. I hereby promise to get every chapter online as quickly as possible (depending on the submission queues) on the simple condition, that you leave me comments! It only takes a minute, and I will write a response to your comment, so everyone's happy. Come on, you know you want to...kisses, petitesorciere

Chapter 5: Chapter Five
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Hermione flopped back on her bed and massaged her temples. She was still aching from all over from Voldemort’s use of the Cruciatus Curse. Bastard, bastard, bastard! How the hell does Harry put up with that so often without going mad?

Thinking of Harry jolted her. Pulling herself to her feet, she pressed an ear to the door. She couldn’t hear anything from Draco and assumed that he had gone to sleep. When they had got back from the meeting, he had wrapped his arms round her and kissed her, trying to soothe away from the pain. Hermione felt her heart melting as she lost herself in him but when he had offered her a drink, she had felt it harden again. 


Obviously Draco was going to keep on ‘drugging’ her, he wasn’t going to let her slip out of Voldemort’s fingers. Regardless of what she had seen in his dream, Hermione wouldn’t let herself think of Draco having any feelings for her – that would make what she had to do even harder. She would bring him down, no matter what she felt for him. Killing Voldemort was more important than a teenage crush.


Pulling open the door, she crept down the stairs and out into the school hallways. Striding down, she nodded to the ghosts that drifted past, letting them think that she was on patrol. Letting herself into the Gryffindor common room, she saw Harry and Ron, asleep on the comfiest sofa.


Shaking them gently to wake them, she pulled up an armchair and sat in front of them. When they opened their mouths, she shook her head and held up a hand. ‘’Potion first, answers after that.’’


Without another word, they pulled out the vial of Veritaserum that Harry had ‘liberated’ from Slughorn. Hermione took a sip and looked at them expectantly. ‘’You need to test that it’s working.’’


They looked at each other. ‘’How long did you have a crush on Ron for?’’ Harry asked finally.


Hermione went bright red. ‘’About three years, from third year to last year.’’ Immediately, she clapped a hand over her mouth. ‘’You shouldn’t have asked that Harry, it was taking advantage.’’


‘’Well you wouldn’t ever have volunteered that information.’’ Harry pointed out, and then apologised as he saw the looks that his two friends were giving him. ‘’Shall we get on with this? Hermione, have you joined, or do you have any plans to join the Deatheaters?’’


‘’No. Although I am prepared to pretend to be a member if it will result in a positive outcome.’’


‘’Fantastic.’’ Ron and Harry breathed out and then listened intently as Hermione regaled them with the details of her evening, breathing in at all the right places and so on.


Finally, she was done and the two boys began to tick her off for her enthusiasm. ‘’Hermione, please don’t think that we don’t appreciate what you’ve done, you’ve been amazingly brave, but that was so stupid! Walking straight into Voldemort’s clutches! What if he’d seen something out of the ordinary and decided to kidnap you or kill you there and then?’’


‘’I didn’t really have that much of a choice! What was I supposed to say, sorry Draco, can’t make it this evening I’m not in the right frame of mind?’’


‘’No, but…’’


‘’But what? I couldn’t get out of it, it went really well, nothing to complain about.’’


‘’Fine.’’ Ron took a deep breath in. ‘’What are we going to do next time?’’


‘’I can’t take a tracking device in with me. They scour the chamber for devices before Voldemort came in. I asked Malfoy once we got back.’’


‘’Did you recognise the place?’’


‘’No.’’ Hermione shook her head dejectedly. ‘’I think the only person who actually knows where it is, is Voldemort. All the Deatheaters just take a Portkey there. I suppose it stops people getting in by mistake.’’


Harry tipped his head back and breathed in deeply. ‘’We can’t tell the Order that: we’ve managed to infiltrate Voldemort’s ranks but we don’t know where they meet or anything like that.’’


Hermione nodded in agreement. ‘’I suppose I could carry on a little longer and then I’d know about big attacks in advance and we could tell the Order that.’’


Harry nodded. ‘’ But I don’t want to put you in that position.’’


‘’You’re not putting me in that position Harry. I’m putting me in that position. You and Ron are too noticeable, Voldemort wants me there, I’m choosing to go.’’


‘’Hermione…’’


‘’Not another word Harry.’’ Her eyes flashed. ‘’Ron and I are never going to leave you to do this by yourself, whether you like it or not. And you are going to have to accept that help.’’


Ron nodded and grinned at Harry.


‘’So, if I want to go into Voldemort’s ranks and destroy them from the inside, I will damn well do it! Are we clear on that?’’


Harry grinned and shifted to one side, so Hermione could come and sit next to them. Ron slung an arm around her shoulders and squeezed her. ‘’So, three years huh?’’


‘’Quiet Ron.’’ She blushed again and then, looking at the smiles on her two friends’ faces, began to giggle. Before long all three of them were laughing hard, and Hermione’s heart felt like it was expanding with love for the two of them. Honestly, I couldn’t be luckier. I would give anything for these two. And even as she thought it, she knew that they would do exactly the same for her.

 

Draco woke up in the morning, and felt his jaw stiff from where he had been grinding his teeth all night. He couldn’t believe that bastard had tortured Hermione. In fact, he could believe it, he just didn’t want to.

But why can’t I face it? He treats all of his Deatheaters like that, Hermione isn’t going to be any different.

But even as he thought it he knew why he was angry. Hermione wasn’t meant to be treated like the rest of the Deatheaters because she wasn’t really one. She had truly chosen to join them, she didn’t have any longing for any sort of power, and she was ‘innocent’. He didn’t want her killing anyone, regardless of what Voldemort had said.


Standing up, he wandered into his bathroom and got into the shower. Once he had gotten out, he made sure that he put his cologne on, knowing how much Hermione loved it. He hadn’t failed to notice that she breathed in deeply whenever she was snuggled into his neck, sighing quietly in appreciation. And he needed that appreciation more than ever today, needed to make sure that she hadn’t backed out of the venture after her rough treatment.


Running down the stairs, he saw Hermione kneeling at the coffee table, sorting out her books for the day and slotting them neatly into her bag. Her shoes were lined up on the floor next to her, ready for her to step into. He felt a small smile at his mouth as he admired her tiny form, neatly filing away the large books.


She looked up at the sound of his footfall and smiled angelically, a beautiful beam lighting up her whole face. Without another word, he stepped over to her, pulled her to her feet and pressed his lips straight to hers with the kind of urgency that he hadn’t felt since he was fourteen. Now, at the age of eighteen, he would have thought that he had some sense of timing, how to treat a girl so that she would melt, and urgency seemed to remind them of fumbling and awkwardness. But Hermione inspired the kind of feelings in him that didn’t leave him with any chance of delaying his actions. Thinking back to the night when he had had to leave her for a meeting, he realised that he had never told her how he felt.


‘’I absolutely, bloody adore you, you know that, don’t you?’’ he told her, his voice slightly hoarse as he held her in his arms, whispering into her soft hair, wishing with all his heart that he didn’t have to drug her every evening so that he could say this to her honestly. He had managed to make it into a routine that they drank together every evening (or so he thought, not realising that Hermione was drinking without any side effects), and every time he watched the mug rise to her lips, he felt a twinge at his heart.


Hermione couldn’t answer, just kissed him, her lips moving in a silent acknowledgement of what he had said, and (although she didn’t want to admit it to herself) an enthusiastic return of the sentiment. The gorgeous scent he wore, musky and manly enveloped her as she pressed herself against his muscled chest, not wanting to ever leave him. Finally she pulled away, feeling herself enough in control to lie to herself, to tell herself that she didn’t mean it when she said ‘’the feeling is entirely mutual.’’ She flicked her hair back and smiled again, and began to turn back to her books.

Oh Merlin. He does have feelings for me – does that make things better or worse? He could be wanting to keep me safe, if I was a Deatheater, I wouldn’t be at so much risk. Or does he want to please Voldemort more than he wants to be with me? But he said he adores me, he wouldn’t have to say that…oh, Draco, you’re breaking my heart, and I’m letting you do it…stupid, stupid, stupid Hermione.

Draco watched her, and then bent down to press a small kiss on the invisible downy hair next to her delicate ear. Hermione breathed in, ecstatic at the contact.

Tell yourself what you want, justify it how you want, but you know that you adore him right back. The thought popped into her mind, and without thinking any more, she turned around, pushing Draco back onto the sofa, kissing him so ferociously that he could barely catch his breath. Soon, they were a panting, ruffled mess of clothing and sprawled limbs as each showed the other how much they cared, wanting to show their devotion in the only way that they could, without their words and their lies getting in the way of their feelings. As Hermione arched her back and gazed into his beautiful blue eyes, Draco looked right back at her, lush and warm and welcoming and the most utterly gorgeous thing he had ever seen. Their breathing increased as they stared into each other’s eyes and forgot who they were.


Harry and Ron smiled as Hermione trotted into the Room of Requirement, smiling in apology for being so late. ‘’Malfoy and I got caught up, he wanted to make sure that I was ok after last night.’’ She ignored the niggling little voice in her head. It’s not an entire lie, he asked me if I was ok this morning. She tried and tried to justify it, and then realised that she was falling back into her old patterns. I need to tell them. I really do. But now? Can I still turn him in? Yes…but not without pain.

Taking a deep breath she turned to her two friends. ‘’Please don’t get really angry at me, but…’’she took in another gasp of air ‘’I still kiss Malfoy.’’


‘’You have to do that Mione. You’re keeping up a front, remember?’’ Harry jostled her slightly with his elbow.

‘’I think…I think I’m being slightly more enthusiastic than I need to be.’’ Hermione’s head was bowed, and she didn’t dare to look at her two friends. 


Harry looked at her. ‘’Is this your way of telling us that you still have a crush on Malfoy?’’


‘’I guess so…but…’’


‘’Mione, if it’s helping you play the part…I’m not happy about it, but I don’t control you. We can’t tell you who you can and can’t fancy.’’


Hermione breathed out in relief. ‘’You guys are amazing.’’ She turned to Ron, who was nodding as well, although slightly more reluctantly.


‘’Mione, I would like to test you with Veritaserum on that one though.’’ Harry was blushing as he spoke. ‘’I know it’s humiliating, but I have to know. I really do. I can’t let you do this if your…your feelings for Malfoy are going to get in the way of what we’re trying to do.’’

Hermione’s eyes filled with tears, but she breathed in deeply and nodded. It’s better that it comes out this way, that I’ve volunteered the information, rather than it coming up in another way. Reaching for the small vial, she paused before holding it up to her lips. ‘’No intimate questions?’’


‘’Nothing personal.’’ Harry nodded, and Ron rubbed her upper arm comfortingly as she swallowed the potion. ‘’So, you’re…I don’t know…you’re seeing Malfoy?’’


‘’Yes.’’


‘’And you have feelings for him?’’


‘’Yes.’’


‘’Would you betray us to him? If he asked you to lead us to Voldemort would you do it?’’


‘’Never!’’ the vehemence of her answer shocked the boys. ‘’I would come and tell you. I might lie to Draco and tell him that I was going to, but I would never do that to you.’’


‘’Are your feelings for him going to get in the way of what we’re doing? Can you still hand him over to the ministry?’’


Tears rolled out of Hermione’s honey brown eyes. ‘’Yes.’’ She whispered the answer. ‘’What we’re doing is more important than my feelings. I’m going to help you two, no matter what I feel for Draco.’’ With that said, she pulled her knees up to her chest and rested her face on the top of them, crying her eyes out.


Harry and Ron clustered round her, hugging her. Finally, she pulled herself together, picked up her bag, and wiped the tears off of her face. ‘’Please don’t hate me. I’m so sorry.’’ She hugged each of them and left, walking off to her next lesson. 


The boys, not needing to go to a lesson, didn’t feel any need to move. Staring at each other, they both sighed.

‘’Maybe it’s our fault. We should have told her to get out while she still could. If we hadn’t let her use herself as bait for Malfoy, the crush probably would have gone away.’’


Harry nodded, and looked at Ron, both their faces entirely serious. ‘’We can’t hate her Ron.’’


‘’I never would! No matter how much she annoys me at times!’’


Harry smiled slightly, but his face soon fell back to its grave position. ‘’She can’t decide who she has a crush on, but we need to make sure that we know if she changes her mind about handing Draco over. That can be one of the questions that we ask her while she’s under Veritaserum.’’


‘’I feel like complete shit Harry. She’s out there, doing all the work, risking her life, and tearing herself up while we sit here and talk about forcing the truth out of her.’’


‘’I know. I hate it just as much as you, but if she can carry on with what she’s doing then we’ll be able to go in and take over.’’


‘’But what about when it’s over? When we win, and Voldemort’s dead,’’ Harry smiled gratefully at Ron’s optimism, ‘’the Deatheaters are going to be rounded up and put in Azkaban. How’s Hermione going to deal with that? She’s going to have to deal with the idea that she helped to put him there. Because no matter what she says, mate, I have a feeling that this is more than a crush.’’

 

With that in mind, the two boys stayed as close to Hermione as they possibly could. It was impossible for them to stay near to her when Draco was around, but in lessons when he wasn’t near they sat together just as they always had. Hermione reasoned that if anyone did tell Draco, she’d tell him that she was doing it so as not to raise suspicion. She was so grateful that her two friends weren’t alienating her because of circumstances beyond her logical control. She still took Veritaserum every evening and assured them that she had no intention of betraying them, but other than that, her world was perfectly blissful. Voldemort had not called for another meeting, so she was free to indulge her fantasies of being a normal teenage girl, having fun with her friends and her boyfriend. Now that Harry and Ron knew, she didn’t have to justify herself all the time, and could relish Draco’s kisses and caresses for what they truly were. She spent time formulating plans to get out of killing people, to alert Harry, Ron and the Order when a major battle was going to take place, but resolutely determined not to plan what would happen with Draco. She would cross that bridge when she came to it. Until then, she could just adore Draco.

 

*

 

Harry turned to Ron, opened his mouth to speak and was pre-empted. They had been spending so much time together without Hermione that each knew what the other was going to say before it was even said.

‘’I know. I feel bloody useless as well.’’


‘’I was thinking though, what if we went and found the Horcruxes? While Hermione was still in Hogwarts, but busy? We could go through the secret passages to Hogsmeade, apparate out of there, find Horcrux, destroy it, and come back.’’


Ron looked at him thoughtfully, and Harry was relieved to see that he hadn’t dismissed the idea straight away. ‘’Well, I suppose neither of us have the tracer on, so we wouldn’t be noticed by the Ministry.’’


‘’And Mione’s been helping me research Horcruxes. Dumbledore had a few ideas about them: we have to find something of Ravenclaw’s, Hufflepuff’s, the proper locket of Slytherin, and probably the snake.’’


‘’And then…’’


‘’Destroying them?’’ Harry cut across Ron. ‘’A basilisk fang should work. We can fly down to the Chamber of Secrets and get some from there.’’


‘’That’s all good Harry, but what about finding the bloody things?’’


‘’Well, the snake’s nearly always with Voldemort, so we could kill that before we get Voldemort. But the other stuff? I have no idea.’’ Harry sighed and flung himself back across the crimson sofa. The Common Room was deserted at this time. A fire was flickering feebly in the grate, as though trying to decide whether it was worth staying alight. Ron flicked through a copy of the Daily Prophet, sighing gloomily at the announcements of so many murders. As he turned the page, he saw a familiar, simpering, toadlike face blink up at him. The headline read: Dolores Umbridge blames half-breeds for Ministry Troubles. Chucking the article to Harry, he pointed his wand at the fire. Just as the flames flared up, Harry sat bolt upright.


‘’Calm down, it’s not that exciting. Although what it means for Lupin and Hagrid…’’


‘’No! Ron look at her neck!’’ Because dangling from Umbridge’s thick neck was a glittering gold locket with the ‘S’ picked out in emeralds. ‘’That’s Slytherin’s locket!’’


The two boys pored over the article but (somewhat unsurprisingly), the article didn’t say anything about Umbridge’s choice of jewelry.


Finally, Ron looked at Harry. ‘’We’re going to have to steal that locket.’’


His friend nodded glumly. ‘’I don’t know how though. It’s not exactly going to be easy, getting a necklace off her, or even getting near her.’’


Ron leaned back into his seat and stared at the fire. ‘’What if she had to come in to speak to Hagrid? We could drag her off to one side, steal the locket, Obliviate her, and make a copy of the necklace.’’

‘’And then Hagrid loses his job.’’


‘’Ok…what if she came into Hogwarts to give a speech on the dangers of Half-breeds, and we dragged her off to one side, stole the locket, Obliviated her, and made a copy of the necklace?’’


Harry tipped his head to one side. ‘’That could actually work. But how do we ‘get her to one side’?’’


Ron looked at Harry, and a sudden grin lit up his face. ‘’We’ll use Malfoy! You know that he was on her Inquisitorial Squad? Well, we’ll use Polyjuice Potion, and then say that we have something we want to show her, and then I can knock her out from behind!’’


‘’Good! Ron, that’s a plan worthy of Hermione. One flaw though.’’


‘’What?’’


‘’You seem to be assuming that I’m going to be willing to drink something with Ferret’s hair in it.’’ Harry laughed and threw the cushion back that Ron had chucked at him.


‘’Not to worry, we can play a game of chess. Whoever wins doesn’t have to drink Malfoy’s hair.’’ Harry laughed at Ron’s innocent smile, and resigned himself to the Polyjuice Potion. Pulling a quill out of his bag, he dashed off a letter to Umbridge:

 

Dear Ms Umbridge,

 

I am a long term admirer of your hard-line politics, and of your fearless stance in standing up for the rights of true wizards, rather than half-breeds. With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to make a speech at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I have already cleared this with the Headmistress, and can assure you that are guaranteed a warm welcome. Please send a response back with this owl.


With feverish anticipation,

 

An Admirer.

 

Putting that to one side, Harry dashed off a note to Professor McGonagall, explaining that he needed Umbridge to come to the school, and he would be sure to cause no disturbance to the normal school day. Sending Hedwig off with the two letters, he turned to Ron again. ‘’We need Hermione.’’

 

*

 

Hermione crept into Draco’s room that very evening, holding a sharp pair of scissors, and trying to avoid the thought that she must look like a crazy stalker from a Muggle film. Looking at Draco, she saw his eyelids flicker slightly as he dreamt, his mouth relaxed, his quilt pooled around his waist, showing a muscular torso. Smiling at how innocent and peaceful he looked, she turned her attention to his hair. If I muck this up, he’s going to notice so easily – he spends so much time on his hair! Leaning down, she pulled out a tiny strand from behind his hair and snipped it, flinching at the harsh crunch of the scissors. I suppose I could have just pulled it out but imagine if he had woken up. Leaving the room as quietly as possible, she pattered down to her sitting room, where Ron and Harry were sitting, staring anxiously at the fire. Handing them the hair, they put it carefully into a little bottle. 


‘’I miss you guys.’’


‘’We miss you too Mione.’’


‘’I mean, I know we talk in other lessons and stuff, but it’s so weird not being able to speak to you whenever I want. And I miss Gryffindor Tower.’’


‘’Don’t you like it here?’’ Ron asked slyly. He seemed to ignore the fact that it was Draco that Hermione was spending time with, which left him free to be as supportive as possible.


‘’I love it here. But I wish I could have the best of both worlds.’’ 


Harry smiled and hugged her, rubbing her back. ‘’What you are doing is so amazing.’’


‘’Naturally.’’ Hermione smiled, and reached out her arms to Ron, hugging him tightly. ‘’Now, go back to bed, or Draco will hear you and wake up. Or I’ll be forced to be the Head Girl and take away House Points.’’


The boys laughed, house points had never been further from their minds. As soon as they had left, Hermione stood there in her pyjamas, looking into the fire. Walking up the stairs, she turned as though to go into her own bedroom, but then, before she could even register the change, moved into Draco’s.


Draco, drowsy, felt a small body clamber over him and then wrap its arms around his neck, snuggling into his chest. Hooking his arms around the delicate shoulders, he fell asleep again, with Hermione nestled into him.

AN: Hey everyone, thanks for reading chapter five. Not sure that its the best one that I've written, but I needed to get a few things sorted and that was what this chapter was for. However, I hope that you enjoyed it anyway. Obviously, any comments will be appreciated enormously, and obviously, I will write you a response to them, so go on, you know you want to...PetiteSorciere x

p.s. if anyone can make me a banner I will love them forever! In fact, if anyone can just tell me how to make a banner and attach it to my story, I will love them forever. Thanks in advance my lovelies


Chapter 6: Chapter Six
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Dolores Umbridge was not a pretty woman, neither was she remarkably intelligent. She was powerful and she was spiteful, and the two are rarely a good mix. As soon as she had read the letter from ‘Admirer’, she had thought of the hatred that she had from Minerva McGonagall. The temptation to return and lord it over her was simply too much. 



Slipping her new locket over her head (she had barely been parted from it, so rich and so good at showing her importance), she put on the pinkest outfit that she could find, and Apparated to just outside Hogwarts, clutching a sheaf of notes written on perfumed paper.



 



 



Harry and Ron had been keeping an eye on all articles regarding Umbridge, and were pleased to see that she wore the locket frequently. Of course, that was no guarantee that she would be doing so when she came to Hogwarts, so when they saw it glinting around her neck, they smiled in relief. Otherwise all their planning would have been in vain, including the long trek down to the Chamber of Secrets, where they had pulled the fangs out of the incredibly eerie skeleton of the enormous snake.



Professor McGonagall had been amazingly helpful, instantly sensing (with the same instinct that allowed her to judge the miscreant in any situation) that they were planning something on Umbridge. She had offered to draw her away from the crowd, so as not to create a huge scene. The idea was that Umbridge would be so anxious to leave the presence of the Headmistress that she would leap at any opportunity to do so, especially one presented by the wonderful Draco Malfoy.



Harry had already swallowed down the potion, a shade of stormy grey that could have been highly appealing or amazingly dreary. Hidden in the shadows, and tugging at Malfoy’s silvery blond hair, he had watched as Umbridge ascended the stairs after McGonagall.



Waiting a minute, he followed them, and listened as Umbridge panted away: ‘’So, I thought not to bring a photographer. Instead I will write my own report of the speech and use one of the photographs taken with me and my Inquisitorial Squad from two years ago. I believe the caption will read ‘Dolores Umbridge, inspirer of young minds’. Wonderful, don’t you think?’’



Harry heard McGonagall’s non-committal ‘’Mmm’’, and knocked on the door to the room they were in. Stepping in, he smirked at McGonagall and lowered his head respectfully to Umbridge. 




‘’Why, Draco Malfoy, how lovely to see you again!’’




Harry wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to this (after all, he had had ‘’I must not tell lies’’ carved into his hand), so he smiled and muttered something inane. 




‘’Well Malfoy, what exactly did you want?’’ McGonagall was far more brisk.




‘’I wanted to show Professor Umbridge something.’’




‘’No longer Professor Umbridge.’’ McGonagall snapped, and then seeing Umbridge smirk, nodded and forced a smile. ‘’I shall wait for you here Dolores.’’




Umbridge returned an insincere smile and followed Harry to the door. Once they were out, she began babbling about the ‘old days’, how they had bullied students and teachers alike, etc. etc. He settled for smiling and nodding whenever. They had gotten down to the dungeons and she still hadn’t actually asked what they were going to see, and Harry led her deeper into the maze like structure, making sure that no one would see them.  



Eventually, he turned to face her, and she looked at him expectantly. Just as she opened her mouth to ask him what he had to show her, Ron hit her from behind with a stunning curse. They quickly dropped to their knees beside her and pulled the locket off of her. Replicating it, they hung the copy back on her, and then changed her memories.



Checking his watch, Harry quickly got her back to the room where the Headmistress was waiting. She smiled at Harry, and summoned Filch, turning to Umbridge as she began to focus on her surroundings. Harry stepped forward. ‘’Professor, that was an absolutely amazing speech! I have never been so moved – to know that Half-breeds were taking that much away from us.’’



She focused on him and smiled weakly. ‘’Well, I did my best.’’



‘’Oh, that was absolutely brilliant, you must have put so much work into it. Please, allow me to help you up.’’ Harry put his hand under her elbow and pulled her up, feeling the heavy weight of the locket move in his pocket as he did so. ‘’Mr Filch would love to escort you to the gates I’m sure.’’



Filch stood at the door, a look of suspicion on his face until he saw Umbridge. Harry quickly explained that she had been there to give a talk to ‘a very select group of students’, and sent them on their way, Umbridge giving all the details of the fictional talk.



          McGonagall left the room, and Ron sidled in, watching as Harry’s eyes turned from cold blue-grey to vivid green, and his hair darkened and freed itself from the sleek style Malfoy kept it in. ‘’You’ve still got it?’’



‘’I’m hardly going to lose it.’’ Harry flicked his wand at the door to lock it, and pulled the locket out of his pocket. Looking at Ron, he waited until he had pulled the basilisk fang out. ‘’I think we ought to stab it as soon as we can, otherwise it’ll try and trick us.’’



Ron nodded gravely. ‘’You open it, I’ll stab.’’




Without another word, Harry flicked open the locket, and gasped slightly to see the two eyes bulging out of each half of it. Ron’s hand had slowed slightly at Harry’s exclamation, but as soon as the eyes focused on him, he caught hold of his senses and drove the sharp fang down. Poison spurted as the glass covering the eyes shattered, and black smoke oozed out of the destroyed remains of the locket. The boys looked at each other and smiled.



‘’One down.’’



‘’Three to go.’’ Harry laughed, but not too desperate to extinguish the happy glow on Ron’s face. Finally, they were doing something useful.



‘’We should tell Mione.’’



‘’Definitely!’’ Shoving the destroyed locket into his pocket, Harry unlocked the door and began to stroll along the corridor, Ron beside him. Seeing Luna up ahead, they hurried until they caught up with her. Exchanging the usual pleasantries, they looked at each other across her head. Finally, Ron could no longer control himself.



‘’Luna, what exactly is that?’’



          Luna was wearing some kind of bizarre crown, constructed out of what looked like destroyed wire coat hangers, and the radishes that she usually wore as earrings. ‘’It’s a copy of the Lost Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw.’’ She whispered in her dreamy voice. ‘’Daddy’s been making a copy which is far more complex, but I only had wire and radishes so I’ve had to make do.’’ She went on for a little while about how she had made the diadem, but Ron and Harry weren’t paying attention. At the words ‘Rowena Ravenclaw’, their eyes had met again – an old artefact, presumably missing for some time, who was to say that Voldemort hadn’t got hold of it?



Cutting over Luna’s ramblings, Harry asked ‘’Luna, do you have a picture of what this diadem is meant to look like?’’



‘’Of course. You can’t create a copy without looking at the original.’’ She rummaged in her bag and pulled out a library textbook, flicked to the appropriate page and handed it over. A line drawing of an old tiara, jewels gleaming, was in front of their eyes. Harry’s eyes widened and he seized Ron’s elbow. Bidding goodbye to Luna, they turned and retreated to a quieter area. 




‘’Ron, I’ve seen that diadem before, it’s in the Room of Requirement!’’ Quickly, Harry explained how he had placed the diadem on top of a sculpture to mark the place where he had hidden his potions textbook. ‘’It was discoloured but I swear, it was the same thing!’’



Sprinting up to the right corridor, they paced in front of the blank wall, and ran into the huge room, looking through the piles of junk, searching for the sculpture. Finally, Ron found it and snatched it up. Sure enough, in the dusty old jewels, small figures could be seen pacing, their red eyes gleaming out maliciously at the boys. Ron held it up in front of his eyes and watched them. Harry saw his eyes taking on that same malicious gleam and quickly snatched it out of his hands. Ron’s eyes narrowed, but Harry had already snatched the fang away from him and was driving it systematically through the tiara. Ron blinked, and then smiled. ‘’Thanks.’’



‘’What are the odds?’’ Harry laughed. ‘’We’ve certainly made up for lost time.’’



Smiling, the boys carried on up to see Hermione, undeniably pleased with themselves – they had destroyed two Horcruxes in one day. Stopping by Gryffindor Tower first to pick up Harry’s invisibility cloak, they also grabbed some Extendable Ears. Listening at Hermione’s door for a minute, they couldn’t hear anything, so let themselves into the room. Tiptoeing up to her room, they opened her door, only to find it empty. Shrugging at each other they wandered around the room. Casting the Muffliato charm, they sat in a corner talking quietly, wondering where Hermione was.



At last she came into the room, a smile playing around her lips, which were slightly plumper than usual. Walking over to her mirror, she began brushing out her hair and smiled at her reflection. Harry and Ron slipped off the cloak and stood up. Catching sight of them in her mirror, she gave a little scream, and immediately clapped her hand over her mouth. ‘’You…you bastards! You gave me the fright of my life!’’



‘’Come on Mione, you haven’t had that sheltered a life.’’ The boys immediately told her their good news, thrilled at the smile that spread across her pretty features. 



‘’Oh, that’s so brilliant! Well done!’’ she squealed and ran at them, hugging both of them so hard that they had to catch their breath afterwards. ‘’We’ll have Voldemort dead in no time.’’ Harry opened his mouth and instantly shut it. He had heard footsteps on the stairs. Grabbing Ron, he threw the cloak over them and moved away from Hermione, not a moment too soon, as Draco pushed the door open and entered the room. Harry and Ron moved forward, catching the door so that it didn’t shut, and began to slide their way out, but stopped as they saw Hermione. She had clearly forgotten about Harry and Ron, as she smiled at Draco. Her cheeks were flushing prettily, her eyes were sparkling and her smile grew so that a dimple appeared in her cheek. 



She made as though to stand up from her dressing table stool, but Draco leant down and planted a tender kiss on her mouth. Harry immediately prodded Ron – this was none of their business and they needed to leave. Not speaking until they got back to their dormitory, they looked at one another. 



‘’She’s got it bad.’’ Ron said, looking gravely at his best friend.



‘’So has he.’’ Harry looked just as serious. ‘’I hate Malfoy, think he’s a snivelling little ferret, but the way he looked at Hermione is the same way that Bill looks at Fleur.’’



‘’The same way that you look at Ginny.’’ Ron added.



Harry nodded, a lump in his throat at the thought of the girl that filled his dreams. ‘’Maybe he’ll look out for her.’’




‘’He could just be playing her.’’ Ron mused.



‘’I don’t think he is.’’ Harry said slowly. ‘’Remember when we stole his memories, and we managed to get his dream? He was treating Voldemort like his enemy, worried that he would steal Mione away.’’



‘’He isn’t going to be able to protect her all that much if Voldemort decides to kill her.’’




‘’But we know that someone’s got her back now. Someone’s watching her. We owe Ferret-boy for that.’’



Ron nodded grudgingly. ‘’I’m not thanking the slimy little git.’’



‘’Merlin, neither am I. I’m just saying, it might be a slightly mitigating circumstance. I mean, if he hasn’t killed anyone (and he didn’t kill Dumbledore), then he and Hermione are both innocent in this.’’



Ron nodded again. ‘’Doesn’t mean I like him though.’’



‘’Course not. That goes without saying. Course not.’’



 



*



 



Draco smiled into Hermione’s mouth. Kissing her was a revelation, something that made him feel more alive. Every time he pulled her close, he could smell her conditioner wafting around him, and the delicate little spritz of perfume that she always sprayed in the hollow of her neck. Nuzzling into her neck, he kissed her, taking tiny sips of the sweet taste and fragrance of her soft skin. She tipped her head back, enjoying his touch. Eventually drawing herself upright, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. Merlin, I hope Harry and Ron left! She suddenly thought, almost laughing at the thought of them sitting on her couch, utterly traumatized at the sight of her kissing Malfoy.



Suddenly, Draco flinched back from her. Drawing her eyebrows together, she looked at him, but without a single word, he drew up his sleeve and showed her the Dark Mark, vibrant against his pale skin. ‘’Oh.’’ She said, and then remembering herself, smiled slightly.



Draco had noticed her small hesitation. Stroking her hair back from her face, he looked into her beautiful, trusting eyes. She deserves better than to be lied to all the time. She doesn’t belong in the dark, she’s not a Deatheater. He took a deep breath in as the pain in his arm grew. Maybe I’m not meant to be a Deatheater either. Hating himself, he took Hermione’s arm. ‘’You ok?’’



‘’Of course.’’ Her tone was just a fraction too bright, and he knew that she was just as scared as he was – walking into Voldemort’s lair was not something that you did with an easy heart. ‘’I just need to send an owl to, er, Ginny, I promised that I would meet her this evening.’’




Draco nodded, and realised that he would have to give her the potion now – if she realised what was going on in the middle of the Deatheater meeting, her death was the only viable option for Voldemort. Hating himself even more, he ran down to the kitchenette, and quickly made her a drink, pouring the (fake) potion into it. He came back to her room just as she was sealing the letter telling Ron and Harry where she was going and sending it off with a little charm. 



Hermione took the cup off of him and stared at him over the top of it as she drank. As soon as she had finished it, she ran out of the room and down the stairs, shouting an excuse about putting the cup away, and breathed deeply. Don’t dwell on it. Ok, he wants to drug you, but he’ll have a reason, and he adores me, he keeps saying it. He doesn’t need to say that to keep me under his influence, that has to mean something. He’s going to be looking out for me. Hermione smoothed out her robe, and ran back up to Draco. He was waiting for her, holding out his hand as the Portkey waited for them. Hermione couldn’t help smiling at him, the boy who was breaking her heart but making it whole at the same time. Taking his hand, they were jerked from their comfortable home to the cold cave, with the most evil man imaginable standing imperiously in front of his followers.




 



 



AN: Ok, thank you for making it through to the end of Chapter Six – well done you! Please leave a comment, I love reading them. Even if you have something negative to say, I’d like to know. Just a little note: I know that the idea of Harry and Ron finding two Horcruxes in one day is absolutely laughable, but I didn’t want to focus on that too much. That was done absolutely brilliantly by JK Rowling, and the entire point of this story is the relationship between Hermione and Draco, so I didn’t want to spend loads and loads of time on the Golden Trio hunting down Horcruxes. I know some people are going to say that’s a cop out but hey, I’ve done it now! Also, I know there wasn't too much interaction between Draco and Hermione, and I;m sorry about that, but this chapter was actually pretty vital. Thanks so much for reading, kisses to all my readers, and more kisses to people who comment! Petitesorciere x x



 


Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
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Hermione shivered slightly in the cold draught that blew through the cave. She was only wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a thin robe, and the breeze seemed to be cutting through them sharply. Her head was bowed, and her curls were growing increasingly more tangled as they hung around her face. I wonder if it would be an enormous breach of etiquette to use my wand to make a fire? Or is the suffering meant to be good? She looked surreptitiously around the cave, and just saw a host of masks, with no indication of whether all the others were absolutely freezing as well.



Just at that moment, Voldemort swept into the cave, watching his servants bow even lower. Hermione’s head was the only one that wasn’t covered, her glossy curls glinting slightly in the flickering light. She inhaled deeply as she stared at the stony floor, desperately willing her breathing not to become shallow and uneven. But Voldemort didn’t seem at all anxious to pay her any attention.



Listening to him bragging about the murder and tension going on in the community, Hermione was shocked. She had realised that she was living in a sheltered environment at Hogwarts, but she had thought that by reading the Daily Prophet she would be making some kind of effort to keep up with current events. But, when five minutes into his speech, Voldemort was still bragging, she realised just how many murders had gone unreported, how much had been glossed over. Suddenly, a name caught her attention.



‘’And Mad-Eye Moody.’’ An instantaneous cheer rang out through the assembled Deatheaters. Clearly this was something that they had been waiting for, for quite some time. ‘’He was killed yesterday, outnumbered by my noble fighters.’’



Nothing noble about killing an outnumbered man, Hermione thought angrily and then realised she was clenching her jaw. Fixing a mirthless smile to her face, she looked up adoringly at the man that was slowly killing off her friends.



‘’Granger, your thoughts on this.’’ He suddenly snapped at her. Her blood turned to ice in her veins and she looked up at him, willing her fear not to appear in her eyes.



‘’He was a good Auror my lord, but clearly not good enough. As an obstacle to your ascension to power, I can only rejoice that he has been removed.’’



‘’And what of the people who ‘removed’ him?’’



‘’Noble Deatheaters, honoured to do their master’s bidding.’’



‘’And would you be honoured to do your master’s bidding?’’



‘’I would be happy that my lord trusted me enough to allow me to do so.’’ Hermione rattled off the responses, desperately hoping that he didn’t want to burn the Dark Mark into her skin.




‘’With that in mind, I order you to help me destroy Potter.’’




Hermione inhaled so deeply she thought her lungs were going to explode. Quick, quick you stupid girl, pass it off as joy, pretend that you’re honoured! But the words refused to come. Voldemort’s red eyes narrowed, the narrow pupils become more malicious. ‘’Can I assume that you aren’t particularly impressed by this arrangement Granger?’’




Without any prompting, the Deatheaters stood and formed a circle around her as she remained on her knees. She saw one Deatheater who was slightly slower than the others, and assumed that was Draco. Please, you’ve betrayed me for so long, just protect me now, make my faith in you worthwhile, please Draco, please , she pleaded silently. ‘’My Lord…’’



‘’Silence! Despite your assurances, you seem remarkably slow to seize this opportunity. All my Deatheaters would be desperate to receive such a mission.’’ His white hand gestured casually at the impassive masks.



Let them do it then! Hermione exhaled slowly. ‘’My Lord, however much I wish to serve you, I do not…’’




‘’Do not what? Is your shared past with Potter too much?’’ The sneer in his voice was causing all the others to laugh.




‘’My Lord…you yourself said that she was innocent. Maybe it is too much to expect her to kill her former best friend?’’ Hermione heard Draco’s voice and relaxed slightly. Maybe now…



‘’Crucio!’’ The word was shrieked and Draco fell to the floor, writhing in pain. Hermione made as though to move from her knees on the floor, but was instantly held back from a simple flick of Voldemort’s wand. She sat there, mute and powerless, watching the boy that she loved writhing in agony. Finally, after what seemed to be an age, the spell was lifted. ‘’I will not tolerate that kind of insubordination Draco. Ever. Miss Granger appears to be unwilling. Why would that be?’’



Voldemort lifted the tip of his wand, and Hermione’s reluctant body straightened itself and then her feet left the floor. She was dangling in mid air in front of Voldemort, her petite frame lifted so that she could stare at him. Wide brown eye met cruel red one, and Hermione was sure that she was staring at her death.




‘’Allow to make myself perfectly clear Miss Granger. I intend to use you in the final battle, and I intend to use you against Potter. Your feelings in this are entirely immaterial.’’




‘’I…’’ Hermione tried to speak but felt the words choked off in her throat.




‘’I was so good to you.’’ Voldemort emphasized every word in his cold, high voice. ‘’I ignored your filthy Mudblood status.’’ He dropped Hermione to the floor and turned his back on her. Suddenly, rage filled her. 




Pulling herself up to her feet, she stared at his back. ‘’I imagine it wouldn’t take too much for you to overlook my blood status, given that yours is hardly pure.’’ Her voice was icy and disdainful and she felt her spine stiffen. What a time for Gryffindor courage to come in – hardly tactful Mione. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Draco lean forward slightly as though in shock.




Voldemort pivoted slightly, to meet her fierce eyes. ‘’What did you say to me?’’




‘’You heard me. For all your posturing about the purity of wizard blood, you don’t have much to be going on! Your father was a Muggle who never wanted your mother or you! Your mother was practically a squib, and while she might have been descended from Slytherin, her family was hardly a model of sanity!’’ Hermione lifted her chin, resigning herself to the killing curse that would surely be coming her way. I shouldn’t have said that, but for Merlin’s sake, someone had to say it. At least this way I don’t betray Harry and Ron.




Voldemort pointed his wand at her, and she thought about reaching for hers, but what was the point, she’d be dead before she reached it, and surrounded as she was by Deatheaters, she wasn’t going to be getting very far with it. Refusing to cower, she met Voldemort’s eyes as levelly as she could and clenched her fists to hide the trembling.




          ‘’Stupefy!’’ 




Before she could even register the fact that she wasn’t dead, Hermione was crumpled on the floor, her hair spread around her and blood blossoming from a small cut on her forehead where she had smacked it on the floor. Voldemort kicked her side contemptuously. ‘’Pathetic. I take it you gave her the potion Draco.’’ It wasn’t a question, and even as it was asked, Draco felt Voldemort’s presence in his mind, probing through his memories. Satisfied with what he saw, he withdrew and aimed another kick at Hermione. ‘’Lucius, take her back to your manor and put her in the cellar. I will use her, whether she likes it or not.’’



Without another word, Hermione’s limp body was levitated into the air, and she was removed from the scene. All the Deatheaters dispersed, and Voldemort swept away. Draco prepared himself to Apparate, and just before he disappeared, noticed a bright crimson splash on the floor where a bead of blood had rolled away from Hermione.



 



Arriving back at Hogwarts, he kicked a chair savagely, turning it over and breaking its back. I knew that bastard would take her away, I knew it, I bloody well knew it! He muttered to himself as he stormed around the sitting room, turning over furniture as he went. Finally, he looked at the room and realised that there wasn’t any more furniture that he could break. He spun around and saw the mug that Hermione had drunk out of earlier. Snatching it up, he hurled it at the wall as hard as he could, screaming with rage as he did so. 



Why didn’t I just tell her? She was crazy about me, she would have been crazy about me without the potion, and I love her. I fucking love her and I’ve lost her because I’m so fucking stupid! I could have taken her off the potion, I could have stopped being a Deatheater, I could have joined the Order of the Phoenix… His thoughts tailed off and a sob left his throat. She had only been going for ten minutes and already he was missing her more than anyone, more than he had missed his mother when he had first come to Hogwarts. Walking slowly up the stairs, he opened the door to her room.




It was so neat, much neater than his own room. The only sign that she had really been there was the quill left on the desk, ink on its tip. He slumped on her chair, and pushed some parchment aside and rested his head on the desk. It didn’t make wanting her go away. In fact, now that he could smell her perfume in the air, he wanted her more than ever, to hold her, to apologise, to make sure that she was never hurt again, to join the Resistance with her, to keep her safe during the war, to be with her. He lifted his head and thumped it down hard on the desk. The pain was almost overwhelming, but he shot bolt upright again. The desk was hollow.




Scrabbling madly, he pushed everything off of the desk and onto the floor, quills and pots of ink everywhere. Now that it was clear, he could see the hinge of the secret compartment, and with a simple spell, it was open.




There were photos in there, Muggle ones, of a young Hermione and her family. They all looked far happier than the Malfoys ever did in their family snaps. There were ribbons, pressed flowers, scraps of materials and letters – all the paraphernalia that teenage girls tend to hoard, each with a precious memory. And then there was a hard backed notebook, a deep crimson cover, with a gold ribbon tied around it. There was no spell on it, why on earth would it be needed? A spell protected hidden compartment, surely that would be enough?




Draco pulled the ribbon off almost reverently, and opened it gently, all his haste gone. The diary had begun with the school year, and he immediately noticed that she and the boys had been planning to tail him, using Hermione to get close to him. It detailed how irritating Draco was, how Ferret Boy was still gloating, but he would be the one sorry in the end. 




Flicking through to the dates when he had given her the potion, he saw how her writing reflected the ideas that he had given her. Draco was no longer irritating, he was gorgeous, sexy, kind, clever, funny. Smiling slightly, he ran his finger over the words, as though by stroking the elegant script he would bring himself closer to her.




Then, he noticed a change in the structure of the writing. This letter started with an apology…



 



Dear Diary,



 



I’m so sorry I haven’t written for a while, but things have been rather busy. In fact, things have been rather busy and rather awful. Draco was drugging me.



 



Draco blanched. She knew? When did she find out? When was the date? Merlin, that was about a month ago! She…He couldn’t quite believe it and had to carry on reading. She listed what potion he had used and to what effect, and how she had explained it to Harry and Ron. Then how they had stolen his thoughts, and the details of what they had discovered in the pensieve. He blushed slightly at her description of the dream, and then realised what they had been doing – tricking him the entire time. I should be angry. I should be absolutely spitting with rage, he told himself, but realised that he felt absolutely nothing but pride. Merlin, she could practically have been in Slytherin. Lowering his eyes to the page again, he saw a bit that caught his eye.



 



I know I should be angry. I should be absolutely spitting with rage, but I can’t. I looked at him earlier, when I was talking to him, and all I wanted to do was throw myself at him. When I kissed him in front of Harry and Ron, I mean, it was mortifying to do that in front of them, but I never wanted to pull myself away from him. And then, I got him to agree to take me to Voldemort, and I was thinking about how in his dream, he was saying ‘She’s not a Deatheater’, and I couldn’t help thinking that maybe he does care for me, and he doesn’t want to just use me. And before I even knew it, one thing led to another, and we…we had sex. I don’t want to call it making love, because that sounds so corny, and how do you make an emotion? But I felt so close to him.. And all I was thinking was ‘thank Merlin I had this with him, I have this to cling to’. How sad is that, I lose my virginity and I’m already thinking that I’m going to have to leave this guy.




Draco wanted to curse himself. If I had told her what was going on, if I had had the courage to come clean, then she would have known how I felt. Flicking through the pages, he realised that she was plagued by doubt. Even when he had told her that he adored her, she was still worried that she couldn’t trust him. She had told Potter and Weasley but other than that, she tried to content herself with living in her dream world, trying to ignore the fact that Draco thought he was drugging her. Oh my darling, I loved you, I didn’t want to do that to you. I thought I would be keeping you safer that way.




Draco closed the diary softly and put it back in her compartment, and stared at the wall. Suddenly, an idea dawned on him. He kept saying he could have joined the Order of the Phoenix…what if he actually did? Ok, it wouldn’t be easy, but he hadn’t killed or tortured anyone, so they could give him Veritaserum, and then he could go and save Hermione, and they could fight and…




He realised with a jolt that he didn’t want to fight just to save Hermione. My entire life has been utterly pointless. I’ve just wandered around, living on the family name, and doing absolutely bugger all, except doing what my father wanted. And I didn’t even want to be doing that. What if I actually got a spine, and stood up for myself? And stood up for Hermione?




Standing up, he realised that it was nearly morning. The Great Hall would be open for breakfast soon. Potter and Weasley would be there, and he would talk to them.



 



Dashing into the shower, he tried to make himself presentable and smooth away the fact that he hadn’t had any sleep at all. He flicked his wand at the furniture to repair it, and then ran downstairs. Sitting in the Hall before anyone else, he stood up as soon as Harry and Ron came in, ignoring the questions of his housemates. Jogging slightly to make sure that he caught them before they sat down, he realised his heart was pounding with nerves. They looked just as wretched as him, clearly not having slept. He realised, after reading the diary, that they would have been expecting Hermione to come back so they could talk about the meeting. They must be feeling as shitty as I am. 




Reaching out, he placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder, hoping not to cause a scene. Harry had turned with a smile, expecting to see another Gryffindor, but his face immediately dropped when he saw Draco. ‘’What the fuck do you want?’’




Ron stood shoulder to shoulder with Harry, and glared at Draco. Draco swallowed nervously (Oh for Merlin’s sake, you’re eighteen, pull yourself together). ‘’I need to talk to you.’’



‘’About what?’’



‘’It’s private.’’ Draco couldn’t blame them for the suspicion and hatred on their faces. If he were in their position he probably would have cursed himself by now. ‘’It’s about Hermione.’’




Their eyes widened, and now they seemed to take in Draco’s tired eyes. He seized his advantage and pressed on. ‘’I swear I haven’t hurt her. I know that you were playing me, and I need your help. And she needs our help.’’




Ron and Harry looked at each other and then began to walk out of the Hall. Draco followed at a distance, they didn’t need to draw any more attention to themselves than they already had. They walked into a deserted corridor, and as soon as Draco caught up with him, he saw their wands pointed at him. Holding his hands up in a gesture of peace, he nodded at a small alcove where they could go without being immediately seen. 




Harry let his wand slip slightly as he rummaged in his pocket. He pulled out a small bottle and brandished it at Draco. ‘’Drink this’’ he said brusquely. 




‘’What is it?’’ asked Draco, taking the bottle gingerly.




‘’Veritaserum.’’ Snapped Ron, watching to make sure that Draco swallowed all of it. 



‘’We made a huge batch of it with Hermione just before she began pretending that she was still drugged.’’




‘’Oh. I read that she was pretending to be drugged. She was good, I didn’t notice anything different about her behaviour.’’




‘’Stop trying to be cosy Malfoy, why the fuck does Hermione need our help?’’




‘’Voldemort has her.’’ Draco stared Harry in the eye and dared him to try and disagree, but Harry just looked at him, secretly slightly impressed that he had called Voldemort by name rather than by title.




‘’What happened?’’ Ron’s voice cracked slightly in horror. ‘’She isn’t…’’




‘’Dead? No. She was ordered to kill you Potter. She refused. I tried to say that it was too soon to ask her to do something like that, but he just used the Cruciatus curse on me. Then he said something about her being Muggleborn, and she insulted his blood line, and then…then he knocked her out.’’ Draco blinked rapidly, trying not to think about Hermione’s small body crumpled on the floor. 




‘’To kill me?’’ 




‘’Who else Potter? Voldemort’s entire crusade is based around your death? You’re one of the last points of resistance! Once you’re dead, the whole wizarding world will crumble.’’




Ron nodded at Harry. ‘’He’s right.’’ Glaring at Malfoy, he opened his mouth to speak, then paused, and then finally spat out what he had been intending to say. ‘’How come you tried to stand up for her? And don’t try and pass it off as some form of sick love, because you drugged her! You’re the reason that she’s in this mess.’’




Draco didn’t want to answer them, not wanting to reveal one of his only vulnerable points to his long standing enemies, but the Veritaserum was compelling him to do so, and reluctantly, he began to speak. ‘’You’re right. I did start off drugging her – I didn’t have any form of backbone, and the only thought in my mind was to keep myself safe. If Granger had to be sacrificed for that, fine. But then, when she said that she didn’t feel entirely comfortable having boyfriends because she was so close to you two, and you’’ he broke off and pointed at Ron, ‘’kicked up so much shit last time she had a boyfriend, it wasn’t worth the bother. And, in case it had escaped your notice, she’s bloody gorgeous! So, I get to kiss a beautiful girl and keep my self safe at the same time – I couldn’t see a problem. And she had feelings for me, because otherwise she wouldn’t have reacted to me. But then, the more time we spent together, Granger became Hermione, and now I’m in love with her.’’ 




Ron gave a small snort.




Draco’s voice picked up speed. ‘’I am in love with her, whether you like it or not Weasley! I was up in our quarters, and all I can think about her, I want to protect her and fight with her, and I want to join the Order of the Phoenix! Voldemort is scum, an evil bastard, he’s stolen the first girl I’ve ever had feelings for that have gone past lust! I don’t want to have her when she’s drugged, I want her when she’s herself. If you can’t deal with that, fine, but Hermione is stuck in the cellar in my father’s house, and I’m going to rescue her whether or not you help me!’’




Ron stared at him, slightly shocked. ‘’Have you just admitted that you have feelings for someone Malfoy?’’




‘’Were you listening to me at all?’’ Draco asked sarcastically.




‘’Feelings for a…what was it you called Hermione for five years, oh yes, a Mudblood?’’




‘’What the fuck does blood matter? She’s better at magic than I am, and I’m bloody good! For all my parents want to go on about pure blood, our family line must have started in a Muggle family at some point. I love her, and I’m not going to leave her where Voldemort can force her to use her powers for a cause she doesn’t want to fight for.’’




Ron nodded slightly. It matched with the dreams, and the expression on his face when he had looked at Hermione.



Harry butted in. ‘’Swear that this isn’t some elaborate trap. Swear that you aren’t currently on a mission for Voldemort or any of his Deatheaters.’’



‘’I swear that this isn’t a trap, set up by Voldemort or any of his Deatheaters. All I want is to save Hermione. I want to get this filthy mark off of my arm, and I want to help to destroy Voldemort.’’



Harry dragged Ron away from Draco, who remained slouched against the wall. ‘’He has to be telling the truth. Hermione brewed that potion and she wouldn’t have mucked it up.’’



‘’So we fight with the ferret.’’



‘’Maybe permanently, he said he wants to join the Order.’’



Ron sighed heavily. ‘’I suppose we have to trust him. Harry, don’t think I’m weird for saying this, but on some level I respect him. I mean, Malfoys are brought up to look out for themselves, so the fact that he’s going against what he’s been brought up, and going against one of the most evil men ever, really says something.’’




‘’Yeah.’’ Harry nodded. ‘’So, we’re going to work with him?’’



‘’If it’s how we get Mione back.’’



 



They walked back over to Draco, and looked at him. ‘’Double cross us, and we’ll kill you. Slowly and painfully.’’




Draco laughed slightly and smiled at them. ‘’Point taken.’’




‘’Hurt Hermione in any way, shape or form, and we’ll kill you again.’’




‘’I think I’ve already hurt her. Even when I was drugging her, I wanted to stop, but I kept thinking that was the only way to keep her safe. Under Voldemort’s plans, all Muggleborns will be killed. If Hermione was one of his followers, she would have been safer, and then she and I could have faded into the background. But, she thinks that I was drugging her because I want to serve him.’’ He spat the last word out violently.




‘’Tell Mione that, not us.’’ Ron began to walk away, but Draco shouted for him to stop.




‘’I know I’ve treated you like shit. For seven years. I don’t expect either of you to like me, but this is going to be a hell of a lot easier if we aren’t cursing at each other the entire time.’’ Harry and Ron nodded. ‘’We all need each other, and we all want to save her, so…temporary truce?’’ His heart leapt back into his throat as he said it. Could I be any more of a girl? Working out friendships, desperate not to be rejected – utterly pathetic Draco, utterly pathetic. Despite his admonitions to himself, he was still ridiculously pleased when the two boys gave him grim nods. 


Hey everyone, thanks for reading yet another chapter! Just to let you know, there are going to be thirteen chapters to this story (ooh, 13, unlucky for some - how's it going to end?), so we're more than half way through. so tell me what you think while you have the chance to make a difference! Let me know if you liked it, let me know if you thought something was rubbish. Obviously, I prefer to read praise (doesn't everyone?), but I need to know if you think something can be improved. So go on, spare me that minute and review...kisses, petitesorciere

Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
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Hermione woke up in a gloomy room, lit only by a weak shaft of light coming from under the door. Her head ached so much she wondered for a minute if she had been down at the Three Broomsticks and hadn’t been able to find her way back to a proper room, but once she touched her head and flinched she remembered everything. Her hand had come away sticky with blood, and she could feel more streaks of it crusted on the side of her face.


Honestly. I could have carried on being cunning, but no, I had to have been in Gryffindor. Had to be brave and make a stand. Stupid, stupid Mione.


She moved towards the door and wasn’t surprised to find it locked, just as she wasn’t surprised to find her wand missing. Slumping back down against the wall, her thoughts went to the three most important men in her life. I wonder if Harry and Ron have worked out what’s happened yet? I hope they aren’t too worried. But I hope they come and find me. And Draco…


Even remembering his voice when he had tried to stick up for her, she knew that he would have said a whole lot more in her defence had he been able to. Remembering his screams, she pitied him. He was looking out for me. He wasn’t just using me, he wouldn’t have stuck up for me if he was just using me, she told herself again and again, hugging the fact to her for comfort in the cold room. 


I wonder where I am. Why didn’t Voldemort just kill me? Hermione ran through the options and concluded that the most likely was that Voldemort just wanted someone who would be free for torture 24/7. Tipping her head back, she sighed deeply. Nothing looked very appealing. Let’s make a list of why my life is shit, she thought sarcastically.


1.      I have been kidnapped by Voldemort.


2.     I don’t know why I’ve been kidnapped, but I doubt very much that it’s so that I can sit in a library, be fed chocolate and given flowers at regular intervals.


3.     My friends have no idea where I am and have no way of finding me.


4.     The Order of the Phoenix has no idea where I am and has no way of finding me.


5.     The guy that I absolutely adore was drugging me, and even though I suspect he has feelings for me, I keep having to convince myself of this. It can hardly be called a strong relationship.


6.     I have a cut on my head, and blood all over my face.


7.     I’m hungry.


8.     I’m sitting in a dark room, and I don’t know where the room is. I don’t know what time it is and I don’t know how long I’ve been here.


 


Fantastic. Just bloody, fan-fucking-tastic. She sighed again and wondered what exactly she was going to do.


 


Lucius Malfoy was wondering exactly the same thing. It was all very well having the Mudblood down in his cellar, but he had absolutely no idea why the Dark Lord was keeping her. There was no way that Lucius would dare to question his Lord outright, but the few hints that he had dropped had been met with sibilant murmurs about using Granger. In Lucius’ opinion, this was absolutely absurd. There was no way of forcing her to do their bidding really. Of course, Granger was a useful bargaining chip: Potter and Weasley seemed to be disproportionately fond of her. Although that in turn meant that they were going to be turning up at his lovely manor house with wands blazing.


And even worse than that, he had to deal with his son. Draco had stuck up for the Mudblood! He had tried to stop the Dark Lord doing what he wanted. Lucius wondered if he had taught his son anything at all – please the Dark Lord at any cost. Although, thinking about it, he had been expecting something like this. After the disappointments that had been the matchmaking attempts of the summer, he wasn’t surprised that Draco had seem fit to seek something a little less…inbred. Honestly, the women that Voldemort had seen to bring – all simpering, none particularly attractive, and all of them absolute idiots. Although Lucius would never openly admit it, Hermione’s stance against Voldemort (while foolhardy) had caught his admiration – an eighteen year old witch willing to stand up against the humiliation that was so routinely handed out to all of the Deatheaters.


He stared out of his drawing room window, and looked at the immaculate lawn. No doubt it would soon be ruined by Potter and Weasley attempting to fight against Voldemort. Well…any sacrifice he supposed. Sighing irritably, he swished the curtains shut and stalked out of the room.


 


Draco heaved a sigh of relief. He, Harry and Ron had been squatting behind a bush for the past half hour as he watched his father’s tall shadow stomping around in the drawing room. Now that he was gone, they could finally move. Harry and Ron had grudgingly taken the opportunity to tell him about the Horcruxes, swearing him to secrecy several times before they would begin to explain. Draco had nodded and then jolted slightly as they mentioned Hufflepuff’s cup.


‘’We have that!’’


‘’What?’’




‘’We have it! It’s sitting in a glass case in the study – Voldemort gave it to my father just before I went into the fifth year at Hogwarts, before Father lost favour. I don’t think Father will know what it is in that case – he just thinks it’s a pretty trinket.’’


‘’Won’t it be protected all the same?’’


‘’No.’’ Draco blushed slightly. ‘’I used it to drink with last summer. You know, delusions of grandeur and everything.’’


Ron and Harry smiled reluctantly. Draco wasn’t acting like a complete tosser and it was more than a little confusing. Harry frowned slightly in concentration. ‘’We have to get Mione out, that’s our priority. But if we can get that cup…that solves a major problem. Ron, have you still got the basilisk fang?’’


‘’Yes, it’s on my key ring.’’


‘’Shut up.’’ Harry grimaced. ‘’So, we have to get the cup back to Hogwarts, which is risky…’’


‘’We have one.’’




‘’One what?’’


‘’A basilisk fang. You seem to be forgetting that I come from a family that is more than slightly obsessed with the Dark Arts. We collect dangerous things like most people collect family photos. In fact, I think we have more dangerous artefacts than family photos. And even better, it’s in the study with the cup. Father keeps all his things in glass cases, so he can gloat over them easily.’’


‘’Oh. That’s…that’s really good.’’ Harry was slightly shocked that Draco was turning out to be this useful. 


‘’So, how do we do this?’’ Ron asked, his tone slightly less tense now that Draco wasn’t being a complete arse.


‘’Draco, can you get the cup, and destroy it?’’ Harry asked. ‘’You just have to push the fang through the cup, and you’ll probably get a load of black and red smoke coming out. Make sure you don’t listen to it if it says anything.’’


‘’And Hermione?’’ Draco’s face had set slightly mutinously. ‘’You don’t know the way to the cellar, which is where Voldemort said to put her.’’


‘’Well…’’ Harry struggled for an answer. ‘’You could just tell us the way. I’ve got the invisibility cloak, so if you could just tell us the way...’’


‘’You’d get lost. We have a big house.’’ Draco gestured at the house that was towering into the night sky.


‘’We can wait until everyone’s asleep and then go in, and get the cup, destroy it, and then go and get Hermione.’’


‘’I…’’




‘’I don’t want to leave her there either Malfoy. But five extra minutes won't make a big difference, and Hermione would want us to destroy another Horcrux. We’ve got all the things that we need there, so we just need to make sure that we use them.’’


‘’What about Hermione’s wand?’’


‘’We can summon that. As long as we’re ready to run, it shouldn’t matter if anyone notices.’’


‘’You can’t apparate inside the manor.’’


‘’House elves can.’’ Harry burst out. ‘’Do you remember a house elf called Dobby? He used to work here, but he came and warned me that bad things would happen at Hogwarts in my second year. House elves can apparate in and out of Hogwarts, and I bet Dobby can still get into your house!’’


‘’Call him.’’


‘’I…I can’t…oh, wait a minute. Kreacher!’’


With a sudden crack, the wizened old house elf appeared. Harry felt slightly awkward commanding him to immediately go back and get another elf, but quashed it. ‘’Can you go and get Dobby please? And don’t tell anyone that I summoned you.’’


Without a single word the house elf was gone and Dobby appeared, hugging Harry’s knees and squeaking. ‘’Dobby, please be quiet. We’re outside the Malfoy Manor.’’


The house elf’s eyes grew wide, and Harry immediately hurried to tell him what they wanted. ‘’Can you still apparate inside that house?’’


          Dobby confirmed that, for Harry Potter, he could do anything.


‘’Right Dobby, here’s what we need you to do.’’


 


Half an hour later, Draco was walking quietly through the deserted corridors of his house as Harry and Ron shuffled after him underneath the invisibility cloak. He flinched every time a floorboard creaked, imagining the wrath of all the Deatheaters coming down on his head, but they reached the study with no problems at all. True enough, the goblet of Helga Hufflepuff was sitting in a glass case, and a basilisk fang was in another case across the room. Hermione’s wand was lying unguarded on the desk, so Draco quickly snatched it up, and moved towards the cup.


‘’Are you sure there aren’t any protection charms on it? None whatsoever?’’ Harry hissed. ‘’We can’t afford to fuck this up.’’


‘’I’m sure. Now shut up!’’ Draco gingerly opened the door of the cabinet and took out the goblet. As he had said, no piercing shriek rang through the house, and they were able to place the cup on a nearby table. Draco moved straight away to the other dresser and pulled out the sharp tooth. Moving straight back over, he plunged it into the cup without any drama, and black smoke billowed out of it.


‘’It was that simple? I was expecting a little more drama.’’ He whispered and then gestured towards the door. ‘’Let’s go and get Mione.’’


Tiptoeing through the house again, they made their way down to the cellar, the temperature dropping as they reached it. The thick stone walls felt almost damp to the touch, and the carpet gave way to tiles. ‘’I have no idea where she’ll be.’’ Draco muttered, more to himself than the others.


‘’How big is your bloody house?’’ Ron hissed. ‘’How many prisoners do you actually keep down here?’’ 


‘’We just have lots of cellars – we used to use them for storage but then the ministry cleared us out a while ago. Where is she?’’


They turned a corner and immediately froze. Nott was seated in a deep armchair next to a thick door, fast asleep. Malfoy looked to where he assumed Harry and Ron were standing underneath the cloak, and nodded to indicate that they should retreat slightly. ‘’I didn’t think they’d have a guard.’’ He whispered. ‘’Clearly, they think Hermione without her wand is something to be reckoned with.’’


          ‘’He’s asleep, let’s just stupefy him. It doesn’t matter to us if he gets in trouble, and they’re going to know that someone’s been here anyway.’’ Ron muttered. ‘’Harry, you can do it, your stupefying spells are good.’’


Draco nodded, and Harry slid out from underneath the cloak and walked forward. Pulling his wand out, he peered round the corner, and aimed for a moment. ‘’Stupefy.’’ The whisper sounded ridiculously loud in the quiet corridor, and the red flash seemed to have lit up the whole house, but there were no shouts of alarm, no one came running, and Nott sprawled in the armchair. ‘’Come on.’’


The boys crowded around the door, but it wouldn’t open. There wasn’t a key hole, and Alohomora wouldn’t budge it, in the same way that none of the grunted curses would. Finally, Draco pulled up the left sleeve of his jumper and flashed the Dark Mark at the door. Silently, it swung open.


‘’I suppose you do have some uses Malfoy.’’ Ron looked as though it was killing him to say it, as the three of them lit up their wands and stared into the oppressive gloom. A tiny, huddled figure emerged out of the shadow, and opened its eyes.


Without even daring to look at her properly, dreading what he would see, Draco dashed forward and hugged her, raising her to her feet. ‘’Mione, we’re going back to Hogwarts, just stand up, and don’t say anything, ok? Be as quiet as possible.’’ He motioned to Harry, who instantly called for Dobby.


Once again, the crack seemed loud enough to wake the surrounding countryside, but now it didn’t matter. They formed a long chain, with Harry standing on one end holding onto Dobby, and Draco standing at the other supporting a swaying Hermione. Another loud crack snapped through the air, and then they were back at Hogwarts, standing in the deserted kitchen. Harry turned to Dobby.


‘’Thank you so much Dobby, you’ve saved…’’


But he never got to finish his sentence because a thud echoed horribly through the kitchen. He spun around, his wand at the ready. Hermione was crumpled on the kitchen floor, with Draco already kneeling over her. ‘’She’s fainted.’’


Hermione looked absolutely awful. Her skin was ashen, and her hair was a tangled mess. Blood streaked one side of her face, culminating in a livid scab on her temple. 


‘’Let’s take her up to her room. She probably needs a bath, a good sleep and something to eat.’’ Harry pulled out his wand to levitate her body, but Draco had already swept her up and was moving towards the door. He paused, and turned back around. ‘’Thanks Dobby. I owe you a lot.’’


Ron pretended to faint as well. ‘’I do believe you’re do something for other people!’’


Draco smiled properly for the first time that day. Now that the worst seemed to be over, the tension seeped out of his body. ‘’Don’t spread it around – I’ve got a reputation after all.’’ They were climbing up the main staircase now, not even bothering to keep their voices down, just relieved to have Hermione back. Hogwarts seemed to be happy about it as well, seeing as no one challenged them as they walked back, despite the level of their voices. ‘’I mean, if people find out that I occasionally think of people other than myself…in fact, it’s not worth thinking about!’’


Pushing open Hermione’s bedroom door, they lay her on the bed, pulling the covers over her, and leaving a drink of water on her bedside table. Draco kissed her on the forehead without a second thought and moved out of the room. Harry and Ron followed his motions (although slightly less lingeringly), and went downstairs, where he was already sitting in front of the fire.


‘’Drink? I even promise not to spike it.’’ He got up without waiting for an answer and began pulling out cups and making coffee.


‘’You really do love her, don’t you?’’ Harry asked, taking the cup of coffee off Malfoy.


‘’Of course. There isn’t a reason not to. She’s incredible.’’


‘’How are you going to explain everything to her?’’ Ron asked.


‘’No idea. I guess I’ll just tell her what I’ve told you, and hope she understands. If she doesn’t want anything to do with me I’ll completely understand.’’


‘’You aren’t the same person that you were.’’ Harry immediately swore at himself, cursing himself for his idiotic choice of words. ‘’I mean, you’ve really changed.’’


‘’Mmm. Realising that the man you’re sworn to is a homicidal maniac tends to bring up some life questions. You know the sort: Why does he have to die? Why do I want to spend the rest of my life killing innocent people? Will I have to lose my nose as well? But I like my eyes this colour, why do they have to change? That kind of thing.’’


Harry and Ron laughed. ‘’You said you wanted to join the Order.’’


‘’Yes. First I wanted to join for Hermione. Now, I just want to join.’’


‘’I’ll send Hedwig off in the morning.’’ Harry yawned slightly. ‘’Do you mind if we stay here this evening? I want to be here when Mione wakes up.’’


‘’Not a problem, there should be enough room for you and Ron.’’ They turned to look at the latter, but he was already asleep at the far end of the sofa, mouth open as he snored gently. Something suddenly clicked in Harry’s head. 


‘’You called him Ron.’’


‘’That’s his name, isn’t it?’’ Draco’s eyes were cool, challenging him to make a big deal out of it.


‘’You’ve never called him Ron. Ever.’’


‘’People change. I’ve saved someone very dear to both of us with him, and I don’t really feel the need to call him Weasley anymore. Unless you think he would prefer that?’’ 


‘’You being considerate is so amazingly weird.’’ But Harry was smiling as he said it.


‘’I’m not complete scum to everyone – just to you. And seeing as I don’t have to obey my father’s orders any more, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to be civil.’’


‘’You were ordered?’’


‘’Yes.’’ Draco refused to meet Harry’s eyes. ‘’You weren’t in Slytherin, you were definitely the enemy of Voldemort, and therefore I wasn’t allowed to make friends with you. You think that’s weird? You should have seen the logistics of my nursery.’’


‘’And now?’’


‘’Now, I’d rather be friends with you. Merlin, that sounds so fucking pathetic, but I love Hermione. She loves you, and I’m not going to hurt her anymore by mucking things up between her best friends. And after this evening, I may be forced to concede that you aren’t the waste of space I’ve been told to see you as for the past seven years.’’


‘’Thanks.’’ Harry’s eyelids were drooping now. ‘’You might not be the conceited little git that you’ve been for the past seven years.’’


‘’Cheers Harry.’’ Draco’s sleepy eyes rolled in sarcasm. ‘’Will you listen to us? We sound like a pair of girls making up after a huge argument.’’


‘’Whatever Draco.’’ Harry was asleep now, and it didn’t take long for Draco to follow him.


 


 
AN: Hey everyone, hope that you enjoyed chapter eight, chapter nine will be uploaded as soon as this one clears. I know that I say this every time, but please, please, please write me a review! I absolutely love reading them, I love responding to them and I love getting your feedback. Plus, over a thousand reads with only thirty reviews...something isn't right there lol! Please carry on reading, and i hope you enjoy the rest of the story...kisses, petitesorciere.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hermione woke up later and barely trusted her senses. The last I knew, I was huddled on a freezing stone floor, with no light and blood on my face. She could tell that she was in a light room, even with her eyes closed. Quilts were bundled thickly about her and pillows were heaped underneath her head. Tentatively, she raised her hand to her face, keeping her eyes shut, and couldn’t help smiling slightly as she felt that the blood had been sponged off her face. Opening her eyes, she saw that she was in her room in Hogwarts. Oh! It wasn’t a dream! I’m really back here! 


All drowsiness forgotten, she sprang out of the bed and almost danced across the room. The sun was shining, she wasn’t dead or being tortured, she was back at Hogwarts. Catching sight of herself in the mirror, she laughed out loud. The black outfit that she had thrown on so casually was rumpled and covered in feathers from her bed, and her eye make up was smudged everywhere. A shower may be in order before I go downstairs. Washing herself as thoroughly as she could to rid herself of all traces of her ordeal, she dressed in a pale blue wrap over top and a fitted pale grey skirt and brushed her hair, leaving it glossy and curled. Her feet bare, she pattered down the stairs into the sitting room and almost burst out laughing again. It was the most bizarre thing she had ever seen.


Harry, Ron and Draco, three boys who had hated each other since their very first day at Hogwarts, were curled up around each other. They looked like they had all been sitting on the sofa in strict order, with Draco and Ron at opposite ends with Harry in between them, but now they were all sprawled over each other, all deep in sleep. I guess I know who my rescuers were, Hermione thought, and moved through to the kitchenette and started brewing coffee, after picking up the cups from the night before. 


With a response worthy of Pavlov, the boys began to stir as the smell of coffee wafted into the room. Hermione began pouring it into mugs, making sure that each had the right amount of milk and sugar, letting the boys wake themselves up, sure that they would be embarrassed enough without her sitting there and staring at them. Sure enough, it was only a minute until she heard:


‘’Oh Merlin! Who’s got their feet in my face? Get off!’’ followed by a thump. Within a few seconds, all of the boys were standing up red-faced. Each of them opened their mouth, as though seeking an explanation for what had happened, so Hermione took the opportunity to clear her throat quietly. Three heads spun fast enough to give their owners whiplash. ‘’Hermione!’’


Ron and Harry ran forward straight away and hugged her tightly. ‘’Don’t you ever, ever, ever do that to us again!’’


‘’Fine, next time I’ll tell Voldemort that I have to clear it with my friends first before he kidnaps me.’’ Hermione’s voice was muffled between the two strong chests.


‘’Well, as long as you know now, I’m sure you won't do it again.’’ Ron kissed the top of her head and let her go. Harry patted her back and then stepped back as well. 


Hermione wiped her eyes discreetly, not wanting to burst into tears, just happy that she was back. 


‘’I don’t think you have any idea how demeaning it is to have to tiptoe when I hug you now.’’ She said, trying to assert some control on the situation.


‘’But you love us anyway.’’ Ron was already in the kitchen, poking around the cups. Harry looked at Draco and saw him staring at Hermione as though he was starving and she was a particularly nutritious and delicious meal. Going into the kitchen, he shoved Ron, ‘’That one’s mine you idiot’’, and drained the cup as quickly as he could, gasping as it burnt him. ‘’Come on, finish it, we need to go back to our dormitory.’’ Ron looked at him with his eyebrows raised and then realised. ‘’Oh, yeah.’’


He swallowed it, kissed Hermione on the cheek and then walked towards the door, waving casually at Draco. ‘’S’later.’’


‘’Hey, wait a minute! You don’t just get to walk out on me now! I want to know what happened!’’ Hermione shouted, and Ron just stuck his head around the door.


‘’Draco will tell you everything.’’


‘’Draco? You call him Draco now?’’ Hermione’s voice was incredulous, but Draco had observed the slight note of pleasure that had crept in.


Now it was Harry’s tone to stick his head around the door. ‘’Yeah, turns out he might not be the phenomenal wanker that we thought he was.’’


Hermione raised her voice to protest again, but the door had already been shut on her. She turned around and looked at Draco. ‘’You need to explain, because I don’t know how much more fake-casual statements I can take.’’ She looked at him standing in front of her, and felt her heart beat faster. He was so utterly gorgeous.


‘’I owe you an explanation anyway.’’ He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her gently into an armchair.


‘’You owe me more than that.’’ Her voice wasn’t angry though, just sad.


‘’I know. But I’ll end with that bit, so you know exactly what I’m apologising for.’’ He pulled an armchair up in front of hers and sat in it so that their eyes could meet. ‘’When I found out that I was expected back at Hogwarts for another year, it was a major cause for celebration in my family. Not because it meant that I could finish my education but because Voldemort had been plotting away, and this development made it considerably easier for him. He wanted you on his side and I was to get close to you, so that you could be pulled over to his side, or so that I could drug you and get you onto his side. I didn’t have any doubts about doing it. I knew I didn’t want to be a Deatheater, but I couldn’t see anyway out of doing it, and at least this time, I wasn’t being asked to kill someone.’’


‘’Just tear someone’s life apart!’’ Hermione’s voice rose.


‘’I know! But, at that time, my number priority was me. If I got to stay alive, fine. If I wasn’t going to be tortured, fine. So, I began to make friends with you. I drugged you on that first night that we stayed up talking. I didn’t even think about long term effects, I thought that I would get you into the Deatheaters and then drop you. And I knew you fancied me.’’


‘’You did not!’’ Hermione’s voice was scornful.


‘’I did. You might not have meant to when you walked into the room, but you’d been shooting these little glances at me all evening. And then I gave you the potion, and you reacted to me underneath it. Melange subtil only exaggerates normal responses, and I swear I didn’t try to make you think that you fancied me.’’


‘’How can I believe that? After everything you put me through?’’


‘’Because I swear I’m telling the truth. I’ve never made that promise before. Give me Veritaserum and I’ll say exactly the same thing.’’


‘’Fine.’’ Hermione’s voice was flat, and Draco’s heart ached. 


‘’I just thought that if you fancied me, it would be a hell of a lot easier to get you to drink with me every evening. You know how melange subtil works don’t you? How you need a dose every day?’’ The expression on her face told him everything that he needed to know. ‘’Of course you do. Sorry. So anyway, I kissed you, just thinking you might trust me a bit more – I’d been told to do anything to get you where Voldemort wanted you – and I was completely thrown. You were just Granger – you were pretty but not meant to be anything even remotely sexual. But that kiss was amazing. And it went from there, every evening that we talked, every evening that we kissed, the more time we spent together, I fancied you more and more. 


‘’I didn’t stop drugging you, because I was worried about two things. First, I was worried that you would stop seeing me – tell yourself that Harry and Ron were more important, and that was one thing that I couldn’t bear. The second was that I’d begun having dreams about you, dreams where Voldemort stole you from me. I thought that you would never be safe, and I wouldn’t be able to have anything to do with you. My reasoning was that I’d get you to be a Deatheater, you’d do a few things for Voldemort and then the pair of us could just fade into the background. You would have been safe because you were in his group, and not with Harry, and it just got easier and easier to persuade myself that this was the right thing to do.’’


‘’You were worried that I’d be a proper Deatheater.’’


‘’Yeah, about that.’’ Draco’s cheeks flushed slightly. ‘’I read your diary last night.’’


‘’What!’’


‘’I found it by mistake and then I read it – I didn’t think I’d ever see you again! That’s how I knew I could go to Harry and Ron for help.’’ Draco placated her madly, only stopping talking when her nostrils weren’t flared and she was breathing normally. ‘’I saw that you knew about my dreams, and yeah, I was terrified that you would lose the person that you are. But, if I didn’t bring you, you would have been killed on the spot, and that would have been even worse. So, when you said that you wanted to go to Voldemort, I thought that we were on the way to getting one horrible thing out of the way of a happy time. And when he tortured you, I could have killed him, but any attempt would have resulted in both of us dying.’’ Draco paused and thought for a second. ‘’And I’m afraid of him. I hate him, but I’m afraid of him. But after that, we didn’t see him for ages. I thought that you were still drugged, and I hated myself for it. I told you that I adored you, and I do, I absolutely adore you.’’


Hermione sniffed slightly, and nodded so that he could carry on.


‘’Last night, I realised I had to stand up for you, regardless of what happened, because I didn’t want you on those terms any more. I didn’t want you when you were drugged. But then, you were knocked out and gone by the time that I had pulled myself up from the Cruciatus curse. So I came back here, I went slightly mad on the furniture and then I found your diary. I realised that you had known all along. And you can pretend what you want Hermione, because I’ve been atrocious to you, but I know that you had feelings for me, even when you weren’t under the potion. You didn’t want to have to hand me in, you were willing to risk your life for the people that you loved, even when it meant walking a fine line between the Order and the Deatheaters. And that’s when I realised something.’’


‘’What?’’


‘’I love you. You were willing to take a risk, and I needed to do exactly the same thing, so I went and got a spine, and spoke to Harry and Ron. They gave me hell about it, and I’ve told them a far less emotional version of what I’ve just told you, and I did it under Veritaserum. So you can check with them that I’m telling you the same thing. And they trusted me enough to come with me, and we rescued you.’’ He shrugged, as though it had been nothing. ‘’And we destroyed a Horcrux.’’ Hermione’s eyes widened but before she could say anything, he carried on nonchalantly. ‘’And I’m joining the Order of the Phoenix. If they’ll have me.’’


Finally, Hermione’s mouth moved into a small smile. ‘’I should be giving you hell about this. I shouldn’t even be smiling.’’


‘’But you aren’t going to give me hell?’’ Draco asked hopefully. Hermione stood up for an answer, and watched as Draco did exactly the same. He looked at her, standing prettily beneath him and was wondering if he could kiss when her small hand swung up and slapped him hard across the face. 


‘’Of course I’m going to give you hell you idiot! How dare you drug me? How dare you assume that you knew what was best for me? How dare you try and turn me against my friends?’’


‘’Hermione, I…’’


‘’You what? I can’t believe that you would do that to me. You played me for a complete idiot.’’


Draco’s face fell. ‘’I was expecting you to say that. And…I understand. If I was in your position, I would feel the same.’’


‘’It isn’t nice when someone that you love drugs you, and tricks you, makes you think that you love them. In fact, to say it isn’t nice is putting it mildly.’’


‘’I drugged you, and believe me, I can’t possibly regret that any more, but I love you Hermione. I think it’s quite possible that I have since you told me that you’d take pity on my awful pun and have a drink with me, I just haven’t been able to realise it.’’


‘’You love me?’’


‘’Yes, Mione. I really love you, and I know that you’re probably going to throw that back in my face and laugh, but I really do.’’


‘’Think over what I’ve said. Think over the last thing I said to you about trust.’’


‘’I know, you can’t trust me.’’ Draco’s voice was becoming more and more desperate.


‘’No, you idiot, think about the words I used. I said ‘’it isn’t nice when someone you…’’ she tailed off and let Draco work it out.


‘’When someone you love drugs you and tricks you…’’ Draco’s voice tailed off as he realised what he had said. ‘’You love me?’’


‘’I’m sorry I tricked you, but you had it coming.’’ Hermione looked entirely unrepentant. 


‘’You love me?’’ A kind of laugh had entered Draco’s voice, and Hermione smiled.


‘’For my sins. Yes, I love you. I love you even though you drugged me. I love you even though you tried to get me to be a Deatheater. I love you even though you tried to turn me against my friends.’’


‘’But I…’’


Hermione held up an imperious hand. ‘’And I love you for explaining why you did it. I love you because you were misguided enough to think that you were doing that you were doing the right thing. I love you because you tried to stick up for me. I love you because you made it up with your enemies. I love you because you rescued me. I love you because you stood here and explained it to me. I love you because you want to join the Order. I love you because you’re the one person who’s ever seen past the obvious in me. I love you because you’re utterly gorgeous. I love you because you pull that cute face when you’re concentrating. I love you because you know that my hands and feet get cold easily and you bring me a pair of socks and blow on my hands until they get warm. I love you because you know me, and you love me.’’ Her eyes were shining with tears.


‘’So, you love me?’’ Draco smoothed back a strand of her from her face. ‘’Hermione, I adore you, I love you, I want to make you safe, I want to make you happy.’’


‘’I…’’


‘’I’m not proposing marriage or anything, but…’’


‘’Merlin, no! I wouldn’t marry you or anything like that. I’d prefer to marry Devil’s Snare.’’ But she was smiling.


‘’Yeah, I’d rather be celibate.’’ He joked.


‘’That bad huh?’’ She smiled at him again, and raised an eyebrow.


‘’But I’d like to go out with you. Properly. And I promise never to drug you, or hurt you again.’’


‘’That sounds like a pretty good deal.’’ Hermione stepped a little closer to him, so his arms could go around her easily. ‘’I left quite a mark on you there, didn’t I?’’ she reached up and rubbed his cheek gently, where her handprint was only just disappearing.


‘’I deserved it.’’


‘’Too damn right you deserved it. However, you also deserve this.’’ She rose onto her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his mouth, their mouths moving silently together in a pact of agreement and mutual love. He slid his hand under the smooth masses of hair and massaged the back of her neck gently. He tipped her head back and deepened the kiss, pushing her onto the sofa and lying on top of her.


She could feel the length of him pressed against her, his arms tight around her as she twisted his soft hair in her fingers. Gradually their clothes fell to the floor and they joined together, fitting so perfectly that it felt like they should never separate again.


 


Of course, that kind of position isn’t practical to maintain for enormous amounts of time, and they sleepily pulled themselves off of the sofa. Draco pulled on his robes much more quickly than Hermione and turned round to see her trying to find her clothes. Smiling, he located them and made her stand still as he dressed her, pulling up zips and ruffling her hair as he pulled her top over her head. Rewarding him with a kiss and a dazzling smile, she moved to the window and looked out on the sunny grounds. 


‘’We should go and talk to Harry and Ron.’’


He moved behind her, enfolding her in his arms and resting his chin on the top of her head. ‘’I never thought I’d hear myself agreeing to that. Come on.’’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room. It was Sunday morning, and students were standing around in their groups, chatting. Hermione fully expected Draco to drop her hand as soon as they were in the more public areas, but to her surprise he just pulled her closer and swung his arm around her shoulders. The whispers grew louder as they walked down the corridor.


‘’Is that Hermione Granger with Draco Malfoy?’’


‘’Can’t be they’re like, worst enemies.’’


‘’It is, look it is!’’


‘’What the hell is he thinking?’’ This latest one came from Pansy Parkinson. She strutted forward and stared at the pair of them. Hermione looked at her hard, pug-like face and dreaded what was coming. Ok, I don’t care about anything that she has to say, but I don’t want a scene, and Oh Sweet Merlin, a huge crowd is gathering. Is that some kind of telepathy? ‘’Drakie? What the hell has she done to you?’’


‘’I haven’t done anything!’’ Hermione’s angry and indignant voice rang out clearly over the muttering.


‘’Whatever.’’ Parkinson’s scornful voice told her exactly what she thought of that idea, and Draco stepped forward. 


‘’She hasn’t done anything to me. Anything except being a hell of a lot more attractive, more intelligent, kinder and sweeter than you have ever been.’’


‘’Ok, now I know that she’s drugged you!’’ 


Hermione looked at Draco and couldn’t help herself. The pair of them burst out laughing, and Draco pulled her close again, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. ‘’Thanks for that Parkinson.’’ He said. ‘’You’ve honestly made my day just that little bit funnier.’’


Together, they pushed past her, leaving her standing there with her mouth open. Hermione spun around with a mischievous smile on her face. ‘’And Pansy?’’


‘’What?’’


‘’Your village called. They want their idiot back.’’


‘’I am nobody’s idiot!”


‘’Don’t worry, maybe someone will adopt you. Or you could freelance!’’


Smiling sweetly, she snuggled back into Draco’s embrace and the pair of them continued up to Gryffindor Tower. Draco waited a little way down the corridor as she spoke the password, ran in, grabbed her friends and ran out again. ‘’Here they are.’’


‘’Hey.’’ Draco smiled at them. Do I raise a hand as well, or is that going to make me look like a pompous twat? Merlin, it’s difficult having friends. Suddenly he realised that he’d never actually had friends before. There was Zabini, but that was more an acquaintance than a friend. And Crabbe and Goyle? Well, I suppose I can tolerate them, but more in the way that you tolerate a pair of smelly old dogs that keep following you home even though you don’t leave any scraps outside for them.


Ron and Harry nodded shyly at him, and Hermione giggled. They looked at her accusingly. ‘’What?’’


‘’I’m sorry, it’s so sweet. You’re all so nervous around each other, it’s almost like you’re children at nursery school and you aren’t quite sure if the other wants to play with you.’’


Draco smiled. ‘’I don’t blame them.’’


‘’Self deprecation really doesn’t suit you, drop it.’’ Ron told him sternly. ‘’It was much easier without you here Mione.’’


‘’Yeah, we were able to talk about rescuing you and swear at each other in a manly way.’’ Harry joined in.


‘’Maybe I should leave then!’’ Hermione teased, shaking her head so that her fringe fell in front of her honey coloured eyes. ‘’I never thought I’d be dumped for my best friends!’’


‘’Nooo!’’ Draco mock-wailed, wrapping his arms around her. Ron and Harry looked at each other and shrugged. They began to walk, heading towards the Room of Requirement, ignoring the bewildered looks from passers-by. Several ran to see if the sky was falling down and the end of the world was coming. 


Eventually, they were flopped down without curious glances from their peers, and Hermione was filled in on what had happened with the Horcruxes.


‘’Didn’t your father realise that it was Helga Hufflepuff’s cup?’’


‘’He doesn’t really care about antiques, just dark stuff. Obviously he couldn’t get rid of it because Voldemort gave it to him, but it wouldn’t get the same kind of attention as, say, a poisoned necklace would.’’


‘’Suits our purpose, I suppose.’’ Ron muttered. ‘’Well, we’ve only got Voldemort and the snake left to kill then, and they’ll be in the same place at the same time.’’


‘’Maybe we could leave that to the Order.’’ Hermione suggested. ‘’We’ve been through so much, and we’ve managed to destroy three horcruxes without coming into tons and tons of danger. I hate to think of you putting yourself in Voldemort’s hands Harry. I hate to think of any of us doing it.’’


‘’But the prophecy…I have to kill him or he’ll kill me.’’


‘’Well, if we at least go with some kind of support, hopefully it won't be that bad. It doesn’t make any sense to walk in on your own.’’ Draco said, lounging on the floor at Hermione’s feet. ‘’Did you get time to send that letter to the Order?’’


‘’Yeah, Hedwig should be back soon hopefully.’’


‘’So, you really do want to join the Order?’’ Ron asked.


‘’I said it under Veritaserum, didn’t I?’’


‘’You could have changed your mind.’’


‘’No, I still want to join the Order. The sooner the better.’’


‘’Good.’’ Hermione said firmly. ‘’We can tell the Order what he’s done. Although they’ll probably give us all Veritaserum.’’ 


‘’Fine. But I want to get this thing off my arm.’’ Draco rolled his sleeve up and showed them the skull with the snake coiling out of its mouth. ‘’Any ideas?’’


Hermione took his arm gently and ran her finger around the outline of the Mark, her nose wrinkled in distaste. ‘’We could go to the library and see if we can get a book on tattoos. Because that’s all it is, a magical one but still just a tattoo.’’


‘’Mione, we don’t need to go to the library.’’ Ron pointed at the far wall, where a shelf full of books had appeared, all about the art of magical body modification. Skipping through the titles until he found ‘’Tattoos for Trolls’’, Harry passed the book over and let Hermione leaf through it. Finally, she smiled in triumph and looked up. ‘’Tell me how brilliant I am.’’


‘’You’re utterly brilliant.’’ Draco rolled his eyes slightly and smiled at her. 


‘’Give me your arm.’’


‘’You promise not to remove it? I kinda like it there!’’


‘’Do you trust me at all?’’ She held out one hand impatiently, her wand at the ready. Without another word, Draco pushed his forearm at her, waiting for the spell that would free him from all obligations to Voldemort. She paused. ‘’You know that this is going to remove our last chance to know when the Deatheaters are meeting. Sure you don’t want to keep it?’’


‘’Mione, we’ll find him another way. Just take this thing off me.’’ 


Harry and Ron nodded at her, and she murmured ‘’Disparaitre tatouage.’’ A pale blue shimmering light descended from the tip of her wand and landed on Draco’s skin. It began to move up and down the Mark, cleaning it away effortlessly. Draco flinched. ‘’It hurts.’’


‘’I thought it might. Think of it as purifying. Anyway, look, it’s nearly finished.’’ And with that, the light disappeared, leaving Draco’s skin pale and unblemished. He held it up to the light and couldn’t see the faintest stain, or trace of the Dark Mark. He grabbed Hermione and kissed her. ‘’Thank you!’’


Hermione blushed slightly and shot a look at Harry and Ron. They didn’t look completely pissed off – just a little embarrassed. ‘’You’re welcome.’’


The awkward moment was broken slightly as Hedwig tapped at the window. 


‘’Fantastic!’’ Harry leapt up and let her in, snatching the leg off her shoulder. She circled the room once and then landed on Harry’s shoulder, nibbling at his ear affectionately while he read the letter. He turned to Draco with a smile. ‘’It’s from Kingsley Shacklebolt. They want to meet you. In fact, they’d be highly interested to hear from you.’’


AN: So that was chapter Nine my lovely readers. Only four left to go - getting close to the end now! Obviously, you know what I'm going to ask - please review! I love reading them, I will write you a response, and your feedback is invaluable! Obviously, I appreciate all my wonderful readers and people who regularly review so much, and I'm sure you want to add yourself to that list (unless you're already part of that!). So anyway, hopefully be hearing from you soon...petitesorciere.


 


Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hermione, Harry and Ron lounged on sofas in number 12 Grimmauld Place, trying to get comfortable on the antiquated furniture. Draco was in the room next door, being interviewed by the Order, and all of their attempts to listen in with Extendable Ears had been foiled by Tonks standing at the door and keeping watch. So they were resigned to wriggling around as their backsides went numb and the time ticked by. 


‘’So…’’ Harry tailed off into the comfortable silence. 


‘’You really like him, don’t you?’’ Ron asked. 


Hermione nodded shyly. ‘’I mean, he has yet to save me from a mountain troll, but he’s still very, very special.’’ 


‘’Would the word ‘love’ be used around him?’’ 


‘’Definitely. In fact, it already has been. Several times.’’ Hermione blushed. 


‘’He loves you too.’’ Ron was matter-of-fact, as though he was stating something as universally obvious as ‘’ice cream is tasty’’ or ‘’Voldemort is an evil man.’’ 


‘’Do you think?’’ 


‘’Yeah. He’s told us about fifty million times, and the way he looks at you…it’s so sappy it’s practically a tree.’’ Ron laughed slightly and then looked up as the door opened.
Ginny walked in, her red hair streaming down her back. She smiled at all of them, her eyes lingering on Harry. ‘’Hey Mione, how’s Draco doing? Good? Great! Ron, mum wants you.’’ 


Ron sighed and left the room, and Ginny took a breath in. ‘’Good, that’s got rid of him. Sorry Mione, but…Harry, could I speak to you for a minute?’’ Without waiting for an answer, she grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the door. A few seconds later, Hermione heard feet traipsing up the creaky stairs and then a door shutting. Sitting on her own, she stared at one of the family portraits and wondered what was happening in the other room. 


Draco was clinging desperately onto the arms of his chair. His knuckles were going white and every time he saw them, he made a conscious effort to make them relax, only to have them clenching again a minute later. In addition to the obvious tension, he was laughing way too much, and generally coming across as a complete idiot. 


‘’So you were pushed into joining the Deatheaters?’’ Kingsley asked, his eyes scanning the patch of skin where the Dark Mark had been. 


‘’Yeah, yeah, I would never have chosen to join, or maybe I would have but only to try and save my life, but that’s all changed now because I want to save people’s lives instead of taking them, but I’ve really thought about it, it’s not a spur of the moment decision, it happened when Hermione and I…’’ 


‘’Yes Draco, you’ve explained that point several times now, I think we may just have got the general gist.’’ Kingsley pressed his fingertips to his temples and massaged gently. 


You’re being a complete loser – STOP! Draco berated himself, willing himself to calm down and speak coherently. He raised his head to answer the next question, calm and confident and…broke the chair arm off. 


Shit, shit, shit! What the hell do I do? The armrest was obviously broken, dangling limply from his white fingers. In their headquarters for five minutes and I’m already destroying their property. He brought the chair arm up in front of him, wondering if he should get his wand out and repair it, or whether they would think that he had finally gone over the edge and was about to kill them. 


Before he could think about it anymore, a smile began to quirk his lips and within a minute he was grinning and laughing. Fortunately the people interviewing him had joined him so he wasn’t laughing like a complete nutcase. ‘’I’m so sorry. I’m so nervous.’’ He qualified his behaviour, and from that point, everything was ok. He answered their questions as best he could, telling them everything that he remembered from the meetings, the names of Deatheaters, upcoming plans: everything. He held his breath slightly as he explained that he would no longer be able to go back to the Deatheater meetings, having gotten rid of his Dark Mark, and sure that Voldemort would soon work out that Hermione, Harry, Ron and Draco had disappeared at the same time, but no one seemed to mind that. 


Finally, Kingsley nodded towards the door and Draco walked out, looking round for Hermione. Tonks pointed him in the right direction, and he walked in to find Hermione with her nose buried in a book. 


‘’And the world is at rights again.’’ 


She jumped slightly and then smiled as she saw who it was. ‘’Because I’m reading?’’
 

‘’Everything’s back to normal now.’’ 


‘’I hope not everything. Because normality would be us hating each other.’’ She closed the book and put it to one side, and then patted the sofa next to her, with a resounding clunk. 


‘’Merlin, how long have you been sitting on this?’’ Draco asked, wriggling around as he tried to find a comfortable position. 


‘’Too long. I want something comfortable now.’’ Hermione slid onto his lap in one fluid motion, her arms slipping around his neck as she buried her face in his neck, where she could smell his cologne, and then the natural fragrance of his skin. 


‘’So, let me get this straight. I sit here on the uncomfortable sofa while you sit on top of me, nice and comfortable?’’ 


‘’I’ll make it worth your while.’’ A cunning wink was aimed at him, and without a second thought, Draco captured her lips in a kiss. He put his arms around her tiny frame and pulled her closer to him, deeper into his embrace. Time seemed to stand still as their lips pressed against each other, their kisses growing more and more intense as their tongues explored each other’s mouths. Hermione lost herself in the sensations, feeling lust and love taking her over, as a fire built in her. Draco for his part had to catch his breath as he pressed her soft, smooth body into his muscular chest. 


‘’We need to stop.’’ Hermione murmured, but her words seemed to have no meaning as she carried on kissing Draco, unable to pull herself away from him. ‘’We cannot have sex on this sofa.’’ 


‘’We could lock the door.’’ Draco whispered into her mouth, nibbling gently on her plump lower lip. 


‘’No…I mean…this sofa is way too uncomfortable…’’ Hermione’s sentences were punctuated with lengthy gaps as she tasted his mouth and skin, felt his body, their hands flying all over each other. 


‘’Tonight then?’’ Draco made a supreme effort and wrenched himself away from her luscious mouth. ‘’And don’t say no, because I honestly can’t not be with you after this.’’
 

‘’I share a room with Ginny.’’ 


‘’We’ll go out.’’ 


‘’We could get caught. By Deatheaters.’’ 


‘’So, we can’t be in the house, and we can’t go outside the house.’’ Draco dropped a small kiss on her mouth. ‘’We’re screwed. Or not as the case may be.’’ 


‘’I have an idea. Meet me down here at midnight.’’ And before Draco could ask why, Ron had burst into the room, talking about one of Fleur’s cousins who had just turned up and ‘’honestly Mione, she’s prettier than Fleur.’’ 


After dinner that evening where the Weasleys and Draco skirted each other cautiously, trying to forget the enmity between the families, and where Laetitia (Fleur’s cousin) threw coy, flirtatious looks at Ron from under lowered eyelashes, and Ron smiled winningly back at her and paid her as many compliments as he possibly could. Harry and Ginny whispered to each other all evening, paying no attention to anyone else as she leaned into the shelter of his body and his arm slid around her shoulder as frequently as it could. 


As for Draco and Hermione, well, she sat there in an agony of ecstasy, working out the final details of her plan in her head, while he sat there, rubbing his foot up and down Hermione’s smooth leg and making polite conversation. Finally, it was time for everyone to go to bed, although only an hour later, Draco was waiting impatiently in the sitting room for Hermione. 


The door opened quietly and she poked her head around the doorframe. A hand slid in, and a finger beckoned him. He padded after the small figure gliding ahead of him, that opened the back door, pointing a wand to make sure that the rusty hinges didn’t creak. 


Hermione took Draco’s hand and led him down to the end of the garden. Pushing him towards a small tent, she led him in by the hand and then flopped down and smiled at him. ‘’This is why I was late – I was setting up Disillusionment Charms and stuff. And making a fire.’’ 


‘’Now that’s my job.’’ Draco looked at the golden flames and then up at Hermione. The firelight was flickering softly over her delicate features, and her glossy brown hair was gleaming. There was a sparkle in her eyes that Draco never wanted to see disappear, and a soft smile curved her lips. She stood up and shrugged her cloak off, so she was standing there in a floor length, wine-coloured nightdress. The straps holding it onto her slim shoulders were delicate, and the silky material fluttered down to the ground, showing how sylph-like she was as it skimmed every curve of her body. Draco slid a hand around the back of her neck and pulled her close to him. She kissed him back desperately, losing herself in the furnace that was his mouth. Gradually, their clothes slid to the floor, and they clutched each other in the throes of passion. 


Later, Hermione snuggled into his bare chest. ‘’I suppose we should go back to the house.’’ She stifled a yawn. 


‘’In a bit maybe.’’ 


‘’Imagine if they caught us coming back in.’’ She giggled a little. ‘’Us, sitting with our tent.’’ 


‘’I wouldn’t actually care.’’ Draco stretched his arms above his head and dropped a kiss on Hermione’s nose. ‘’I love you, they know that I love you, I haven’t got anything to hide. Not anymore.’’ 


‘’And I love you.’’ 


‘’If someone had told me when we met…’’ 


‘’That we would end up like this? I know, I would have turned them into a slug and then…’’ 


‘’Poured salt on the slug and watched it die.’’ They laughed at the ease with which they finished each other’s sentences. ‘’But I’m so lucky to have you Mione.’’ 


‘’And I you.’’ Hermione propped herself up on one elbow and showered kisses on Draco’s face. ‘’Why, Mr Malfoy, you’re gorgeous!’’ 


Draco knocked her elbow out from underneath her, and caught her as she slid down, rolling on top of her to kiss her neck and chest as she twisted her fingers in his thick, silky hair and sighed in rapture. 


Hermione slid into the kitchen a little later. She and Draco had managed to make their way into the house without being caught but it was still slightly awkward to sit opposite him and act as though she hadn’t been passionately writhing underneath him only a little earlier. 


Don’t think about it. Just act normally. With that thought in mind, Hermione managed to knock over a jug of milk. ‘’Oh shit!’’ she cursed, waving her wand to clean the milk away. Draco was smiling at her indulgently, a mischievous glint in his eye. Hermione blushed and smiled back at him. Don’t think about the way that his body feels when he lies on top of you. Don’t think about the way that his arms circle you and pull you closer. Don’t think about the way his lips can kiss gently or hard, how his tongue explores, how his eyes fill with lust. Hermione took a deep breath in and looked at her cereal, not trusting herself to look at Draco. 


‘’Are you alright Mione? You’re awfully fidgety.’’ Ginny asked, watching as Hermione’s mind gave her a blow-by-blow account of the events of last night. 


‘’Fine. Absolutely fine!’’ Hermione squeaked and shot a look at Draco. From the look on his face, he was having exactly the same thoughts as her, and he casually nodded his head towards the door. 


‘’Thanks for breakfast Mrs Weasley.’’ He flicked his wand at his bowl and watched as it washed itself up. Mrs Weasley smiled politely and stood back to let him walk out of the room. Hermione quickly followed suite. She walked out of the kitchen but Draco had already disappeared. She climbed the stairs and was looking for him when the door to a storage cupboard opened and she was dragged in by her wrist. She gasped, ready to scream, but Draco’s mouth was already pressed against hers as he backed her up against the wall. 


‘’I saw the way that you were looking at me.’’ His whispered words were intimately hot in her ear. 


Hermione placed her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back. Draco’s brow furrowed – she’d never done that before. Hermione got out her wand and pointed it at the door. A simple spell locked it, and muffled any sounds coming from inside the cupboard. Stowing the wand back in her pocket, she leaned forward and grabbed the collar of Draco’s button-down shirt. Pulling until it was taut and Draco was forced to lean forward and into her. 


‘’Kidnap me, would you?’’ 


‘’Do you think I could possibly have resisted? You sit there biting that gorgeous lip and blushing – what’s a guy meant to do?’’ 


Hermione laughed softly. Even though no one could hear them, they were still whispering, hot breaths caressing each other. ‘’I love you.’’ 


‘’I love you more.’’ 


‘’Not possible, I’m afraid.’’ Hermione pulled him down and kissed him hard, trying to satisfy her lust with his lips. 


‘’Oh really?’’ Draco slid his hands around her slim waist and pulled her closer, feeling one of her hands resting on his chest, the other playing with his soft hair. ‘’You know that I’m not planning on letting you go anytime soon, don’t you?’’ 


‘’You’re a sick and twisted guy, Draco Malfoy.’’ Hermione muffled her laugh in his neck, kissing her way along the strong tendons. 


‘’Don’t act like you don’t love it.’’ He sat her up on a shelf, letting her wrap her legs around his waist, kissing along her collarbones and the hollow of her neck, feeling her pulse beating strongly and vibrantly. Hermione’s answer was an incoherent moan. 


‘’Mione?’’ 


‘’Mmm…yes?’’
‘’I think I may have worked out what the hidden side to your personality is.’’ With that, she tipped her head back in bliss and laughed softly. The sound of that laugh, pure but with an unmistakeably saucy note in it made Draco’s nerves thrill almost as much the hand lifting up his shirt and running smooth fingers along his spine. 


‘’We’re making a habit of this.’’ Hermione giggled as they walked swiftly away from the cupboard with ruffled hair and clothes. 


‘’Good.’’ Draco kissed the top of her head. 


‘’Come on.’’ Hermione pulled at his hand and moved towards her bedroom, ‘’you can watch while I brush my hair and tease you mercilessly.’’ 


‘’Goody.’’ Draco followed her in, curious to see what she had made this room look like. Her bed sat under the eaves of the roof, while Ginny’s sat underneath the window. Her bedside table had framed photos on it, and Draco examined them. She noticed his interest and smiled at him in the mirror. ‘’I want a photo of us.’’ 


‘’We could go into Diagon Alley. I’m sure we could get one done there.’’ Draco watched the comb raking through her curls, restoring order and smiled. 


Just as he opened his mouth to tell her how gorgeous she was, the door banged open and Harry and Ginny staggered in, joined at the mouth. Hermione let out a slightly shocked laugh, and they broke apart quickly. ‘’Don’t worry, Draco and I are leaving.’’
They fled the room, and then paused to look at each other. ‘’Clearly we aren’t the only teenagers in thrall to their hormones.’’ 


Walking downstairs, they found Ron and Laetitia sitting close together, Ron’s arm casually slung around her shoulders as she chattered away, Ron smiling at her with an expression of wonder that suggested that she was single-handedly improving the aerodynamic structure of the Firebolt, rather than discussing school life at Beauxbatons. 


‘’And ze ‘alls, ils sont plus beaux, more beautiful, zan any uzzer in France.’’ 


‘’I can well believe it, if they have to house girls as gorgeous as you.’’ Ron told her sincerely, smiling sweetly at her as she blushed. 


Hermione let out a tiny giggle and grabbed Draco’s hand, dashing from the room again. ‘’That’s so sweet!’’ 


They sat down in the kitchen, Draco flicking his wand at the kettle to start it boiling. Just as he was about to pour the water onto tea bags, Kingsley walked into the kitchen. Draco promptly dropped the kettle. 


‘’Oh shit! I mean…Merlin, sorry, let me…’’ He watched in horror as boiling water spread towards the hem of Kingsley’s robes. Grabbing a tea towel, he moved towards Kingsley, and then dropped it as he remembered his wand. Well done, Draco, honestly, it’s like you haven’t been studying magic for the past seven years. Hermione laughed slightly to see the normally suave Draco as flustered as he generally made her. 


Finally, everyone was seated, in a highly uncomfortable silence with steaming drinks in front of them. Hermione drummed her fingernails on the table. ‘’So…’’ 


‘’Draco, does it not bother you that if you join the Order you aren’t going to be able to see your family again?’’ Kingsley asked casually, taking a sip from his cup. 


Draco paused, tea burning his mouth as he swallowed. ‘’Not that much. I’ve had nannies since I was born and as soon as I was old enough, I’ve been a pawn in their plans. I don’t really plan on missing people who’ve manipulated me all my life.’’ 


‘’And yet you manipulated Miss Granger.’’ 


Draco’s cup hit the table with slightly more force than was necessary. ‘’We went through that several times yesterday.’’ His voice was icy and every syllable was clearly enunciated. ‘’I feel shitty for what I did to Mione, and if she lets me, I’m going to spend as long as I possibly can making that up to her! She knows that, I know that, and the only people who seem to be having a problem accepting it are the Order of the Phoenix. I mean, for fuck’s sake, even her best friends have accepted it!’’ 


Hermione’s hand crept into Draco’s underneath the table, and she squeezed gently. ‘’Can he join the Order?’’ 


Kingsley’s face went completely still and he took a leisurely sip from his cup before answering them. Hermione could feel Draco’s blood pounding through his veins. He really wants this, she thought, expecting to feel surprised but then realising that she knew it was what Draco wanted, it was what he wanted to do with his life. There was no doubt about it in her mind, or those of Ron and Harry. 


‘’You really want to join the Order, Mr Malfoy?’’ 


‘’If I haven’t already made myself clear, Mr Shacklebolt, I do apologise. Of course, I would love to join the Order.’’ Draco’s voice had taken on a slightly biting tone as he squeezed Hermione’s hand that little bit tighter. 


‘’Then we would be delighted to welcome you on board.’’ Kingsley held out his hand and Draco took it gratefully, feeling the warmth in the handshake as he smiled. ‘’We wait with bated breath to see how you will prove your worth.’’ 


‘’Me too.’’ 


Kingsley gave them a knowing smile, drained his cup and left the room. Hermione restrained herself until the door was shut firmly and then squealed. ‘’Oh, thank Merlin! I was so worried that they would say no, I mean I didn’t think that they would, but you can never be too sure, can you? And it was just wonderful, and now, we’re truly on the same side!’’ 


Draco laughed slightly and pulled her onto his lap. ‘’I’m so happy.’’ 


‘’Me too.’’ She rested her head on his, watching as strands of her hair mingled with the white blonde of his. ‘’Such a contrast.’’ 


He saw where she was looking and smiled. ‘’Silver and gold. Slytherin and Gryffindor colours.’’ 


‘’And they said that our year group never worked for house harmony.’’ 


‘’Just proving them wrong again, aren’t you Mione Granger?’’ 


‘’As per usual.’’ 


Draco looked up into her eyes and smiled. ‘’If we had a baby, I hope it would have your eyes.’’ As soon as he said it, he almost slapped himself. What the hell did you say that for? Why? Brain, please just engage with the mouth, try and think about things before they’re said! Just this once! 
Hermione’s eyes had widened slightly but she was smiling. ‘’Well, that’s not going to be happening any time soon, I’ve been taking contraceptive potions.’’ 


‘’That wasn’t me trying to hint that I wanted to knock you up.’’ Draco had a small flush in his cheeks. 


‘’I do believe that you’re blushing Draco. Do Malfoys blush? Anyway, I wasn’t taking it as you saying that you wanted me to start having funny cravings and morning sickness.’’ 


‘’You didn’t?’’ 


‘’No. Just as a compliment.’’ Hermione smiled at him and kissed him. ‘’Although I would hope that the baby would have your eyes.’’ 


‘’Nah. I would want a carbon copy of you. Although maybe as a boy.’’ 


‘’So not really a carbon copy? What would this fictional baby be called?’’ 


‘’Scorpius.’’ Draco said proudly, nodding slightly as he unveiled the name. 


Hermione burst out laughing. ‘’Are you serious? Scorpius?’’ 


‘’What’s wrong with that? I’ve gone through life with Draco – and Scorpius was my grandfather’s name, and he was alright.’’ 


‘’Right. Still not sure about that. And if the fictional baby was a girl?’’ 


‘’You can pick.’’ Draco said magnanimously. 


‘’You’re too kind.’’ Hermione laughed and swooped down to kiss his lips. ‘’Honestly, you think Scorpius is a good name?’’ 


‘’What’s wrong with it?’’ 


‘’Nothing. Nothing at all.’’ Hermione laughed slightly and presented herself for a kiss. ‘’But it’s only ok because I love you.’’ 


AN: hey everyone, your favourite petitesorciere here! Thanks for reading chapter 10, we really are getting closer to the end now. I'm actually quite proud of this chapter, it was one of my favourite ones to write, and its good to get back to the actual relationship between Draco and Hermione. So let me know what you thought of it, whether you loved it, hated it, whatever. I want to know, and you know that that review box has got your name written all over it! Come on guys, I get so excited when I get reviews (I'm sad like that!)! Thanks and much love...petitesorciere.

Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Later that same evening, as the Weasleys, Draco, Hermione, Harry and other members of the Order had dinner, a head appeared in the fireplace. 



‘’Arthur!’’ 



‘’Tonks? What’s wrong?’’ Mr Weasley stepped forward, bending down so that his face was on a level with that of Tonks. 



‘’Deatheaters are breaking into the Ministry and we’re pretty sure that You-Know-Who’s with them.’’ Tonks glanced over her shoulder, clearly worried about an attack. ‘’They aren’t in yet but it’s only a matter of time.’’




‘’We’re coming now.’’ Mr Weasley stood up and quickly beckoned the adult members of the Order. Tonk’s head had already vanished, and Floo Powder was thrown into the flickering fire. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco and Ginny stood up. 




‘’We want to come.’’




Mundungus laughed mirthlessly as he was strong armed towards the green flames. ‘’I don’t even want to go.’’




But before they could even protest, Lupin was stepping in front of the fireplace, and looking into Harry’s face seriously. ‘’I want your word that you will not come this evening. Do not follow us, Harry.’’



‘’I can’t give you that!’’ Harry’s voice rose. ‘’I’m not a kid! We went through this two years ago and Sirius ended up dead because we weren’t allowed to help!’’




‘’No one is going to end up dead…’’




‘’You don’t know that.’’ Draco’s voice was quiet compared to Harry’s rage. ‘’People always die where Voldemort’s concerned, and the Order is going to be outnumbered as it is. I’m guessing he’s not going to be attacking the Ministry itself unless he has a pretty substantial army. If you leave us out of this, you’re weakening the Order.’’




Lupin was speechless. ‘’You…you…don’t just generalise like that. Things will turn out ok.’’



‘’They have a chance of turning out ok if, and only if, you support Harry. The prophecy has to come true at some point, and the only way to make sure that Harry is going in with a fighting chance is to make sure that he has proper back up. Voldemort always plays on the fact that Harry is alone when he faces him, that he’s had to sneak away from the people who are meant to be protecting him in order to fight.’’ Draco’s voice was urgent as his eyes flickered towards the green flames. ‘’We’re all good fighters, and we’re all members of the Order. Let us fight.’’



Lupin looked from grim face to grim face. Hermione stared at him and pulled her wand out. ‘’We’re ready to fight, and we are not willing to accept the alternative that you seem intent upon offering us.’’ With that, a bleak smile crossed Lupin’s face and he stepped back to let them step into the flames.



Rolling out onto a plush carpet, Hermione looked at the sooty tracks that she had left behind. ‘’Where are we?’’



The cluster of people in front of them spun around at the sound of her voice. Clearly they had not been expecting five adolescents to enter the office. ‘’What are you doing here?’’



‘’We’re here to fight.’’ Harry jumped up and immediately stepped forward, not wanting yet another argument about whether he was ready or not. ‘’What’s going on? Have they broken through yet?’’



But his own question was answered as he noticed that they were clustered around a bowl filled with water. Someone was holding their hands above it and the water was filled with a shimmering image of the Deatheaters breaking through the doors that led into the atrium. Hermione furrowed her eyebrows. ‘’You’re scrying on them? Isn’t that quite unreliable?’’




Draco’s head turned as he heard a bang come from a little way off. ‘’Clearly not today. Is everyone out of the building except for us?’’




Kingsley turned to him and gave him the look that Hermione gave him whenever Draco assumed that she hadn’t thought of the obvious – one of blistering contempt. ‘’Of course Mr Malfoy. I assure you that I have thought of that rather elementary concept and have managed to evacuate all the workers. Will that be sufficient for you?’’




‘’Is the snake with Voldemort?’’ Ron cut in before Draco could respond. ‘’It’s really important – is Nagini with Voldemort?’’




‘’Yes.’’ The person holding their hands above the scrying bowl nodded. ‘’She’s staying very close to him at the moment.’’




Harry looked at Ron in silent gratitude. ‘’I nearly forgot about that. We need something really strong – like an ancient sword, or a basilisk fang or something.’’ As the members of the Order in front of them opened their mouths to ask why, he interrupted them. ‘’Please don’t ask questions. I wouldn’t say that I needed one unless it was really important.’’ Raising their eyebrows, two members ran off to the Department for the Regulation of Magical Artefacts, their wands ready to fend off any attacks, although Voldemort had yet to hove into view.



Within minutes they were back, clearly having had no problems and clutching a basilisk fang gingerly. They set it delicately on the table, and Harry pointed at it. ‘’The snake needs to be killed with that. Just stab it so that it dies, but normal magic won't kill it.’’




Draco looked at Hermione as Harry listened to the Order. She was watching the scrying bowl, looking as Voldemort made his way further to the centre of the Ministry building where they were huddled. He put his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head.




She took his hand and led him away from the hub of all the activity. ‘’I didn’t want to have to say what I’m going to say here. I didn’t want to say it with all these people around.’’




‘’Say what?’’




‘’Just that I love you. You’ve made me whole. I know we’re only eighteen, but the feelings that I have for you are more intense than I could have hoped to ever feel in my entire life.’’ Her eyes stared into his, and Draco could have sworn that she was blinking back tears. ‘’So whatever happens tonight, I want you to know that I love you. I want you to know that I’ve never been happier than when I was with you.’’




‘’Mione.’’ Draco was speechless for a few seconds, as he hugged her, and then whispered into her hair. ‘’We are going to be ok. I’m not going to let anything hurt you, and I know that you’re going to do the same for me. We’re going to help Harry, we’re going to see Voldemort die and we’re going to live a long and happy life, together. I love you.’’




Hermione nestled slightly into his chest. ‘’At least I can tell you.’’




Draco understood perfectly. Nothing was hidden, nothing couldn’t be told. And they had each other. Ron hadn’t said goodbye to Laetitia, and Harry was refusing to go near Ginny for fear that Voldemort would see the connection between them. ‘’We’re always going to be able to tell each other.’’




Another loud bang came from below, as a door was blown off its hinges. Hermione jumped slightly and then stiffened, making sure that she had her wand. Harry moved over towards them, with Ron and Ginny in tow. Draco smiled at all of them. ‘’I’m glad I’m here with you lot.’’



‘’And it’s going to end tonight.’’ Harry held his wand firmly in his hand. ‘’I’m going to kill him. I don’t have a choice. Failure isn’t an option.’’




Long sentences seemed to be escaping him and at that moment, Mrs Weasley hurried over. ‘’I don’t want you here but if you won't go Ginny, the very least you can do is stay with your family.’’ Without another word, she nodded grimly at the others, took Ginny’s elbow and steered her over to where Fred, George, Bill and Mr Weasley were standing. Harry looked wistfully after her as she tied her shimmering red hair up, and rolled up her sleeves. 




 ‘’So what’s the plan?’’ Draco asked.




‘’The Order are going to focus on taking down the Deatheaters. Anyone who has the opportunity to kill Nagini will summon the basilisk fang. We try and kill Voldemort.’’




‘’No.’’ Ron spoke suddenly, and smiled as Harry stared at him. ‘’We don’t try and kill Voldemort. We just kill him.’’ Harry let out a mirthless snort. ‘’Don’t give up now. We’ve got this far. There’s only one Horcrux remaining, and we’ve got thirty people prepared to kill it. You aren’t alone, and you’re going to kill Voldemort.’’ Finally Harry let out a real smile and hugged Ron, slapping him on the back in that peculiar way that boys do when they want to make sure they aren’t being too touchy feely. Hermione stepped forward as well, and wrapped a small arm around each of their waists. ‘’We’ve made it through seven years, and at least seven attempts on your life Harry. What on earth makes you think that you’re going to die now?’’




Before Harry could respond, Voldemort’s voice echoed through the building, magically magnified. ‘’Harry Potter, you’re too easy to predict. One simple attack on the Ministry and you come running. Did you honestly think I wouldn’t be monitoring who came in and out of the building today, did you think that you would have the element of surprise? Are you sure you want to be here Potter? Don’t you remember how our last meeting here ended?’’




Harry’s jaw clenched and he let Voldemort carry on speaking, trying not to listen too closely to the poisoned words and cold, high voice. ‘’And Draco. My faithful little servant has become a traitor. In love with a Mudblood and pledging your services to the Order of the Phoenix no less. Your poor father. I will take great pleasure in killing you.’’ His voice swept on, unemotional and harsh. ‘’Miss Granger, already fallen to me once. I doubt you will be that lucky this time. And just think, if you had done what I had asked of you, this unpleasantness would not be occurring. You would be on my side, elevated above the dismal condition of your birth. And yet you choose to die. Much as Ronald Weasley, so senselessly throwing your life away on a loser. Unwilling to accept that you could be great, that you could move away from your blood traitor family, away from a boy who survives by fluke.’’ 




Harry looked around at his friends, Hermione, Ron and Draco. He would never have thought that he would be waiting on the approval of Draco – the boy that he had managed to make an enemy of on his first day at Hogwarts. And yet here he was, desperately hoping that they wouldn’t listen to Voldemort…




‘’Will you stop looking like that? Do you honestly think that we’re going to listen to that prick?’’ But the words weren’t coming from Hermione or Ron, they were coming from Draco. Draco who had instantly picked up on Harry’s feelings and was able to reassure him easily. ‘’Merlin, Potter, find a brain cell.’’ But there was a grin on his face, mirrored on Ron’s and Hermione’s that told Harry all he needed to know.




Voldemort’s voice echoed through the room again. ‘’But this does not need to be a senseless massacre. I find no joy in the shedding of magical blood. So I will offer you an excellent deal Mr Potter. You and your little sidekicks – Granger, Weasley and Malfoy. You will meet me down in the atrium. I will be with Nott, Bellatrix and Malfoy Senior. Be there in five minutes.’’ His voice was cut off, and Harry looked at his friends.




‘’I have to go.’’



‘’Then so are we.’’ Without another word, Hermione led the other two boys towards the door. Harry smiled at her, wand at the ready and moved to the front of their group. The Order was clamouring about security, about better options, but Harry didn’t hear them. Sparing a glance for Ginny, he led his little group down the halls and towards the atrium.



Draco looked at Hermione. The enormous eyelashes, the ones that he had admired on the first day back at Hogwarts, when he didn’t think of her as anything other than a Mudblood were standing proudly. Hermione’s shoulders were squared and, as she looked back at Draco, he could see that she was tense but ready for anything.



‘’You’ve made me a decent human being. I love you.’’ He whispered in her ear and then they were at their destination, in front of the sneering eyes of Voldemort and his three Deatheaters, and there was no time for anything else.


AN: Well that was chapter eleven, hopefully you enjoyed it. Of course, i would love to hear what you have to say about it - and the review box has your name all over it, so please please please please please please please write me a review! kisses, petitesorciere.



 



 


Chapter 12: Chapter Twelve
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‘’So Potter. You and your pathetic little friends stand in front of me, Lord Voldemort, thinking that you will be able to defeat me. You honestly believe that you will be able to overwhelm the power that is soon to take over the entire wizarding world?’’ 


‘’I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that.’’ Harry’s face was paler than normal, but just by looking at Voldemort’s pallid complexion, he knew that he was more human than his adversary could ever hope to be. 


‘’Stupid boy.’’ Voldemort’s face screwed up in contempt, and then his eyes flicked to the three people standing behind Harry. ‘’And your three sidekicks are present as well. How pleasant.’’ 


Before Harry could respond, Lucius Malfoy stepped forward slightly, careful not to move in front of his master. ‘’And my son stands next to a Mudblood.’’ 


‘’Don’t call her that!’’ Draco spat the words out from behind gritted teeth. 


‘’My son, how can you possibly stand next to her, and not feel shame?’’ Lucius was desperately trying to make Draco say that it was just a ploy, just a better way to deliver Granger, but his son was showing the obstinacy that Lucius had loved so much at other times. 


‘’I love her! I couldn’t give a flying fuck about her blood status!’’ Draco’s hand was clutching his wand tightly, and his other was clenching into a fist. 


‘’You love her.’’ Voldemort repeated the phrase as scornfully as was possible. ‘’How touching. Tell me Lucius, which one would you like me to kill first?’’ 


‘’My Lord?’’ 


‘’Would you like me to kill the boy that uses your noble family name to ingratiate himself with Mudbloods, or would you like me to kill the girl that turned down my generous offer of life?’’ 


‘’The Mudblood my Lord.’’ There was a murmur of assent from the other two Deatheaters. Lucius seemed slightly jolted by this, he had completely forgotten about them. He just wanted to delay the moment when his son would be taken away from him, but knowing Voldemort, that cold snake would probably make Lucius kill Draco himself, just to twist the knife that further degree. 


‘’Quite right. Business before pleasure.’’ Voldemort let out a cold, high cackle, and grinned. ‘’I will take great pleasure in listening to young Mr Malfoy crying – after all, he loves her.’’ 


Draco glanced quickly at Hermione, trying to tell her telepathically that he wouldn’t let anything happen to her, that he would protect her, but before he could catch her eye, Voldemort was speaking again. ‘’So, let me kill Potter, and then Weasley I think, for his traitorous behaviour, and then the Mudblood and then Malfoy.’’ 


‘’Lovely that you’ve got your running order planned out Riddle, but things rarely work out according to plan.’’ Harry was holding his wand so tightly he was worried that he would break it. Anything to hide his shaking hands, anything to let him retain some kind of nonchalance. 


With perfect timing, Mr Weasley’s voice echoed through the atrium. ‘’The snake’s dead. We stabbed her with the fang.’’ The voice was cut off abruptly. 


Voldemort’s face grew more pinched. ‘’You have killed Nagini? Potter, you know not what you do.’’ 


‘’I know perfectly well what I’ve done. Now there’s only you left to kill.’’ 


‘’My snake did not guarantee my immortality foolish boy. True, she nursed me back from my ill-health but nothing more than that…’’ 


‘’Liar! She was a Horcrux. In exactly the same way that, Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, Slytherin’s Locket, your old diary, and Marvolo Gaunt’s ring. Dumbledore destroyed the ring last year, and I destroyed your diary in second year, but we’ve been hunting down the others all this year. It’s just you Riddle, pure and simple.’’ Harry’s cheeks were slightly flushed, obviously thrilled that he had been able to deliver that revelation. Voldemort’s lips drew back in a silent snarl. 


‘’No matter, I’m going to kill you anyway.’’ 


With that, he aimed his wand at Harry and screamed ‘’Avada Kedavra!’’ Harry quickly threw himself out of the way, and the two of them began a duel around the atrium, lights and sparks flashing off the stone walls as each attempted to get the better of the other, a true battle to the end. Ron, Hermione and Draco had no chance to stand and watch, as the three Deatheaters had immediately thrown themselves forward, each determined to win some praise by trying to kill the three sidekicks. Ron tried to bring down Nott, Hermione fighting Lucius, while Draco had to bring down his aunt.
Various curses were thrown around, and each person screeched epithets, trying to distract their opponent to give them that extra second that would mean the difference between life and death. Finally, Ron threw himself bodily at Nott, toppled him over, jammed his wand in the soft spot beneath the jaw and shouted the killing curse. Pulling himself away from the corpse, he felt his mouth burning from the harsh acidity of the curse that he had promised himself he would never utter. Glancing into the room, he saw Voldemort thrown across the room from one of Harry’s spells, but before he could smile, he heard one terrible shout: 


‘’Sectum sempra!’’ He spun around to see who the curse had been aimed at, hoping to see a Deatheater falling. 


Hermione crumpled to the ground, blood pouring from underneath her slashed robes. The entire chamber went still, as the vibrant red liquid splashed against the grey tiles. A cold smirk curved Bellatrix’s lips as she breathed heavily. 


‘’Sorry Lucius, I know that she was yours but I couldn’t resist. Just the thought of her and Draco…well, I’ve always had a lousy temper.’’ 


Hermione’s eyes were filled with pain and shock as her hand went to the largest cut, trying to stem the bleeding. ‘’Draco…’’ her voice was already getting smaller and weaker, as yet more blood splattered to the floor. 


Draco didn’t even think of where they were, how they were in the middle of a battle. He ran straight to her side, kneeling next to her and pulling her unresisting head into his lap so that he could cradle her. ‘’You’re going to be ok, just let me…just let me get at that and I’ll try and heal it…’’ 


‘’It’s not going to heal with one simple spell, Draco. It’s cursed magic.’’ Ron and Harry stood next to her, and Hermione smiled at them, showing her teeth in a pale imitation of her usual beam. Suddenly, a movement caught the edge of her peripheral vision. Voldemort was staggering to his feet, clearly off guard at the moment, but it would only take a minute for him to notice exactly what was happening. ‘’Harry.’’ She whispered his name urgently, grabbing his collar to pull him close. ‘’You need to kill Voldemort, now!’’ 


‘’But Mione…’’ 


‘’I’m not going to be dying any time soon Harry! And he said that he would use me against you in the final battle, don’t let me distract you, because then he’ll be getting exactly what he wants. Get him now, while he’s disorientated.’’ 


But Voldemort’s eyes were already focusing on Harry as he smiled. ‘’Yet another girl sacrificing herself for you Potter! You do seem to have it lucky – first your mother, and then Granger…stupid, Mudblood bitches the pair of them.’’ 


Clearly Voldemort was expecting some kind of repartee, the kind that had characterized all of his battles with Harry. So he was entirely unprepared when Harry turned around and shouted ‘’Avada Kedavra!’’ 


The green light lit up the entire room, showing everyone up in an eerie green light. Hermione’s spilt blood was a black colour with shimmering highlights, Bellatrix’s hair became a sinister halo, green lights ignited in everyone’s wide eyes, as they watched Voldemort thrown back, killed by the very thing that he had used to destroy so many people, so many hopes and so many dreams. 


And just as he fell back, like a crumpled doll, against the wall, the tension went in Hermione’s neck and she fell loosely back into Draco’s arms. Harry sped over. ‘’Mione! Is she ok?’’ He grabbed one of her hands, and squeezed it. ‘’Come on Mione, you promised that you weren’t going to be going anytime soon!’’ 


Tears streamed down Draco’s face, his grief mirrored in Ron and Harry’s face, as his trembling fingers explored her neck. ‘’She has a pulse but it’s really, really weak. Unless we get her out of here now, she’s going to…to die.’’ His tears splashed onto Hermione’s face as he lifted her body and tried to move her into a position where he could Apparate without hurting her. 


‘’Oh no, you don’t.’’ Bellatrix’s voice was just as cold as her lord’s had been, but its pitch seemed to rise every time she looked at the white body lying on the floor. ‘’You do not get to just waltz out of here, after everything you’ve done Potter! It isn’t that simple!’’ 


Ropes shot out of her wand, and twined themselves around the three boys. Hermione fell to the floor, her unconscious body lolling as yet more blood jolted to the floor. ‘’What makes you think that everything is going to be happy and fine now that the Dark Lord is dead? You’re going to pay for what you’ve done! And I think we can start by watching the Mudblood die.’’ With that, Bellatrix stepped back from the three boys, breathing heavily but smiling as she watched Hermione lying on the cold floor, her face getting paler and paler. She seemed, if it was possible, to have become even more unhinged following the events of the evening. 


Tears poured down Draco’s face and he began trying to move forward, desperate not to leave Hermione lying where she was, cold and alone. Come on Mione, please, please do something! You’ve made me whole, you can’t leave me now! Come on, brightest witch of our generation, please have something up your sleeve, please let this be some plan, I love you too much to let you go. Bellatrix saw what he was trying to do, and immobilised him with one simple flick of her wand. ‘’Oh, get a backbone Draco. Sobbing over this piece of crap?’’ she aimed a sharp kick at Hermione’s ribs. ‘’This torrid little affair ends here. I’m sure Lucius won't have a problem once you admit your mistake and, now that the Dark Lord is dead, you won't even be punished. It doesn’t have to go any further than this evening.’’ 


But the worm was already turning. Lucius was watching the desolation on his son’s face, and something did seem to be rather seriously wrong. This wasn’t the expression of a boy who was watching a favoured pet die, this was the expression of a boy whose heart was being ripped out and systematically shredded. And that simple expression was enough to change Lucius’s mind. 


Because Draco had got what he wanted throughout his entire life, and his father wasn’t about to stop denying him now. He had no interest in having a son returned to him that wasn’t his son, and things could be worse. At least his son had fallen in love with a relatively pretty, and rather intelligent Mudblood. With a deep sigh, he resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to move away from the perfect Pureblood family that he had designed for himself in his mind’s eye. 


‘’Here, Bellatrix, allow me.’’ 


‘’Allow you to do what Lucius?’’ 


‘’I would quite like to kill Draco.’’ The statement was so cold that it stopped all of them in their tracks. All that could be heard was Hermione’s quiet breathing. ‘’I harbour no desire to reconcile with the boy that claims paternity of me. Standing here, watching Draco, I thought that I suddenly didn’t just want to watch Granger die, I wanted my son to join her. At least that way they’ll be together forever.’’ The smirk that curved Bellatrix’s lips was mirrored on her brother-in-law’s. 


‘’Be my guest Lucius.’’ 


Stepping forward, Lucius stepped contemptuously over Hermione, and moved closer, pointing his wand at his son. His own stormy grey eyes stared straight back at him, no more tears falling from them. Instead, Draco raised his chin proudly, gazing back at his father, daring him to speak the words that would end his life. 


He watched, separated entirely from the situation, as one of his father’s eyelids swept lazily down over one eye, and then as his mouth opened. But his wand wasn’t aimed at Draco anymore, it was pointing at Bellatrix, and even as she laughed, anticipating Draco’s death, a green jet of light shot straight into her, knocking her off her feet. She lay on the floor, never to rise up again. 


The ropes had fallen off the three boys as Bellatrix’s spell ended with her death, but it took Harry and Ron a minute to reach for their wands, so shocked were they by Lucius’s actions. Draco had run straight for Hermione, desperately checking her pulse. 


‘’She hasn’t got long.’’ He pulled her close to him and looked at Harry and Ron. ‘’I need your help. I’m not going to let her go!’’ 


Without even thinking about what they were doing, Harry and Ron ran to his side, and helped him hold Hermione up. But before they could Apparate, Lucius threw a small flask to Draco. ‘’It’s Blood-Replenishing potion. It won't heal her, but it’ll give her a little longer.’’ 


Harry uncorked the bottle and tasted it. ‘’Yeah, it’s fine.’’ 


Draco nodded at his father, unsure of how to act. Ron poured the potion down Hermione’s throat, and then, before Lucius could say anything else, they were gone, vanished into thin air. 



Appearing in Hogsmeade, they looked up to the castle, seeing it looming against the night sky in its wonderful familiarity. 


‘’Brooms!’’ Draco hissed, trying not to draw attention to them, ‘’We can’t apparate inside the castle.’’ 


Harry quickly pulled out his wand and summoned his Firebolt, Draco’s Nimbus, and Ron’s Comet. Within seconds, seconds that nonetheless seemed agonizingly long, Draco had pulled Hermione’s body in front of him on his broom, and they were flying off, Ron and Harry flying either side of him, prepared to grab Hermione if she should fall. 


They flew straight into the Great Hall, flying their brooms up the stairs and along the corridors, not even wanting to think about stopping, just zooming past the few puzzled students who were out of their beds. Draco could smell Hermione’s hair as he whizzed along the corridors, trying not to think about what would happen if she was torn away from him. 


Finally, they arrived in front of the doors to the hospital wing, and fell on them, shouting for Madam Pomfrey as they bore Hermione to the nearest bed. Within minutes, the white sheets were stained as Madam Pomfrey came in, ready to shout at them for making such a noise. But as soon as she saw Hermione, pale and bloody, she ushered them out, rolling her sleeves up and summoning potions and herbs to her. 


Draco, Ron and Harry waited outside in the corridor for an excruciatingly long time, pacing up and down the corridor, almost as though Hermione were in labour. 


‘’I can’t lose her, I love her too much.’’ Draco looked awful, his grey eyes huge and worried in his pale face. Over an hour of pacing was beginning to leave its toll on him, and Harry and Ron looked at each other. 


‘’She’s going to be fine, Draco.’’ Ron put a hand on his shoulder. ‘’Sit down.’’ 


‘’How do you know that she’ll be fine?’’ Draco slumped onto the floor, his head bowed. ‘’I’ve been a complete shit my entire life, and she is the only person whose made me think about someone other than myself.’’ 


‘’Mione’s amazing.’’ Harry sat next to him. ‘’She makes everyone feel better, and she’s always trying to do something for other people. First time I met her, she was trying to help Neville find his toad.’’ 


‘’She tried to help me say Wingardium Leviosa right.’’ Ron volunteered. 


Draco smiled. ‘’I just hope…’’ 


At that precise moment, Madam Pomfrey opened the door to the hospital wing. There were huge bags under her tired eyes and Harry thought that he had never seen her look so tired, and after all the time that he had spent in the hospital wing, that was saying something. 


Draco had already leapt to his feet and taken in Madam Pomfrey’s expression. ‘’Oh Merlin, please don’t say, please don’t say she’s…that she’s…’’ 


‘’Do be quiet Mr Malfoy. She’s absolutely fine. Tired and battered but fine.’’ Wearily, Madam Pomfrey opened the door a little wider, and let them push past her.
Hermione was lying, asleep, on a fresh bed, her eyelashes resting on her cheeks. There was a bruise on her left temple, but no other signs of wear and tear. Her chest rose and fell rhythmically as she breathed deeply in sleep. 


‘’I’ve managed to get rid of everything except one long cut on her ribs, but that’s healing. I think that’ll leave a scar though. And there was some very nasty bruising on her ribs. But she’ll be absolutely fine.’’ 


Draco kissed Hermione’s lips gently, and then stood up and looked at the matron. ‘’Madam Pomfrey, you are amazing.’’ He kissed her cheek briefly and then went back to sitting at Hermione’s side. 


‘’What on earth happened to her?’’ The nurse was blushing slightly in the dim light, and began to busy herself with healing the boys’ cuts. 


‘’Bellatrix was kicking her there, wasn’t she?’’ Ron asked Harry. 


‘’Yeah. She got her with a curse and then kicked her.’’ Harry looked at the matron and was surprised to see such an expression of shock. 


‘’Bellatrix Lestrange?’’ 


‘’Yeah, she was with Voldemort.’’ Harry wasn’t even particularly thinking about he was saying, more about how right Hermione and Draco looked together. 


‘’Voldemort?’’ Madam Pomfrey’s pitch was so high that soon only dogs would be able to hear her. 


‘’Oh yeah.’’ Harry looked at Ron and Draco, who looked back at him, grinning. ‘’I killed him. He’s dead. Forever.’’ 


Suddenly, the three boys seemed to realise exactly what they had achieved. They all leapt up and grabbed each other roughly, laughing with pure relief and joy. It’s difficult to convey exactly how you’re feeling when you’ve just destroyed the bane of the wizarding world, come out of it alive and are able to live a normal life. Harry felt as though his heart was going to explode, as though he couldn’t get the joy out of him fast enough. 


Madam Pomfrey was smiling incredulously. ‘’You killed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?’’ 


‘’You’d better believe it.’’ Ron grabbed Draco and hugged him. ‘’And we’re all alive, and Hermione’s going to be ok, and I can go out with Laetitia, and I’ll even let you go out with Ginny, Harry, that’s how good I’m feeling right now.’’ 


They laughed and Madam Pomfrey left the room, all dignity forgotten as she raced along the corridors to alert everyone that she could. Ron and Harry looked at Draco, who was already sitting by Hermione’s bed again. 


‘’Told you she’d be ok.’’ 


‘’Yeah, but now I know its true, and you’re not just trying to stop me going mad.’’ Draco smiled at them, and with a flick of his wand pulled up two more chairs. ‘’I hope everyone else is ok.’’ 


Harry paused, he hadn’t thought about the other members of the Order – what if they weren’t still alive? But Madam Pomfrey was running back into the room: ‘’So many people are here, and they need patching up!’’ 


Following her were the various members of the Order of the Phoenix that the three boys had last seen huddled in an office. Tonks smiled at them as Madam Pomfrey healed a cut on her upper right arm. ‘’It was fine.’’ She paused and smiled again as Ron and Mr Weasley hugged. ‘’The snake came slithering underneath the door, so we all went at it with the fang. After that, all the Deatheaters tried to come through the door, but we just put up shield charms and picked them off one at a time as they tried to burst through. Simple. A few will have got away, but we can round them up soon.’’ Harry grinned back at her in relief and then watched as they all wandered away, listening to the shouts of happiness that were echoing through the school. 


Draco was stroking Hermione’s hair as she slept peacefully, no sense of strain or tension on her smooth face. Without a word, Harry and Ron sat back down on their chairs and each held her hand. Eventually, they began to doze off, all of their breathing rhythms falling into one constant sound. 


Hermione woke them up an hour later, simply by wriggling slightly in her bed. Draco sat bolt upright and tapped her forehead. ‘’Wake up Mione.’’ 


‘’No. Go ‘way, I’m too tired to wake up.’’ She muttered at him. 


‘’No, come on, wake up Mione.’’ He cajoled her as gently as he could, trying to keep the excitement out of his voice. 


‘’Fine.’’ She drew her legs up and sat up, blinking sleepily and yawning. ‘’What’s all the fuss about?’’ As soon as she said it, her eyes and mouth widened into perfect ‘o’s. ‘’Oh, you did it! Oh you excellent, wonderful, amazing guys!’’ She kissed each of their cheeks with each adjective. ‘’Oh, I’m so proud of you! I can’t believe I missed the final bits!’’ 


‘’You didn’t! You made sure that we actually killed Voldemort!’’ Harry hugged her so hard that she whimpered. ‘’Mione, you’re amazing, thank you so, so much for everything, for everything that you’ve ever done!’’ 


Ron grabbed her from the other side. ‘’Ditto. Turns out that saving you from a mountain troll was a pretty good thing to do.’’ Hermione laughed and hit the side of his head. 


‘’Git.’’ 


The boys laughed, and then a whirlwind topped with flaming red hair dashed into the room and threw herself at Harry. ‘’You stupid boy! Don’t you ever dare leave me again!’’ And with that, Harry bent down, and kissed Ginny so hard that Ron blushed slightly. And then flushed even brighter as Laetitia sidled into the room and gave him a coy wave. 


‘’I am so proud of you, Ron.’’ She lowered her eyelashes flirtily and beckoned him. 


Almost bewitched, Ron trotted meekly after her, with a delighted wink at Harry and Draco. Once Ron had left, Harry and Ginny followed, wrapped in each other’s embrace. Draco pushed Hermione over slightly and lay on top of her bedcovers, her head resting on his chest. 


‘’Things worked out ok.’’ she sounded almost surprised. 


‘’And that’s cause for wonder because?’’ 


‘’Well, I’d been preparing myself for worst case scenarios, and now none of them are valid. I can just be happy.’’ Her smile was the most wonderful thing that Draco had ever seen. 


‘’Every time I see you, it’s a revelation. I can’t believe that I’m so lucky to have you.’’ He stroked the side of her face gently, feeling the soft skin and the delicate bone structure beneath. ‘’I want to spend the rest of my life trying to make you as happy as you’ve made me.’’ 


‘’You won't leave once you’ve made me that happy?’’ 


‘’Of course not.’’ 


‘’Thank Merlin for that. If that were the case, you’d be leaving now.’’ 


And with that, Hermione leant forward, pressing her lips against her loved one’s, even though she could feel a smile stretching both of their mouths out. ‘’I love you Draco Malfoy.’’ 


‘’And I love you, Hermione Granger.’’ 


‘’Well kiss me then.’’ Draco laughed, pressed his lips to hers and lost himself in the world that belonged to them alone.


AN: I know it’s a cop out – no one in the Order dies, and yes I know that compromises realism etc, but I cried buckets in the Deathly Hallows when Fred, Remus and Tonks dies, and I couldn’t bear to do that to myself hehe. So I decided to have a happy ending (I’m the author of Conflict and Conspiracy, I can do what I want lol). So anyway, my lovely readers, only one more chapter to go – so leave me a review! Let me know what can be improved and all that shizzle. Go on, you know you want to…love Petitesorciere.

Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen- the epilogue
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Hermione looked at her bedside table and smiled. It had been seven years to the day that she and Draco had gone to Diagon Alley and had their photo taken, only one week after she had recovered in the hospital wing in Hogwarts. The photographer hadn’t even charged them, too thrilled to be able to photograph two of the saviours of the wizarding world. The entire afternoon had been slightly boring, posing for endless photos, that weren’t absolutely amazing, missing that vital spark. The photographer had gone to change something about his camera, and had come back to find Hermione and Draco kissing passionately. Raising his camera, he had taken the picture. Now, whenever anyone looked at the picture, they saw Hermione and Draco lost in each other, then jumping apart in shock. Looking slightly guilty, they would glance at each other, sidle back together, clearly in love, and smile and wave at the viewer.



Now, Hermione blew a kiss at Draco’s photo and stood up, smoothing down her long cream dress. A knock came at the door, and she pulled the veil down over her face.




‘’Are you ready Mione?’’




‘’Yes Dad, I’m coming.’’ She opened the door and took her father’s arm.




‘’My little girl, all grown up.’’




Hermione laughed. ‘’Stop it Dad, or you’ll cry.’’



 



 



Draco watched the girl of his dreams stand at the entrance to the hall. He could see his various friends in the congregation, friends through work, friends through family, but Harry and Ron were particularly noticeable, sitting with Ginny and Laetitia respectively. He had never had friends as good as these, but they were forgotten as Hermione stood, waiting to walk towards him, her long dress pooling around her small feet and a smile clearly visible underneath her veil. The music began, signalling for her to move, and she practically ran to him, a honey-eyed, golden haired angel; eager to begin the rest of her life. The rest of the ceremony passed in a blur, the exchanging of their vows, placing the ring on each other’s fingers. 



Time only slowed when Draco pressed his lips to hers, calming as always, but the passion hadn’t slowed at all in the past seven years. Hermione had stood with him through everything, stood with him through the horrible Deatheater trials, stood with him through the visits that he paid to his father – ‘’after all Draco, he did save my life. Whatever else he’s done, I owe him a debt for my life.’’ They had dated, moved in together, argued, made up, sworn never to argue again, enjoyed each other’s company, each other’s bodies, bathed in their love every day, and never even thought about being separated. One day, Hermione had pushed open the door as she came home from work to find Draco kneeling in the hall in front of her, rose petals scattered around him and a ring in one hand.




‘’You’ve made me the happiest man in the world. Please let me tell the rest of the world.’’



Hermione had fallen to her knees as well, kissing his face over and over again, on the verge of tears as she whispered ‘yes’.




And now, they were walking back down the aisle, seeing their friends smiling at them, but aware only of how utterly complete they were now, how they would be together regardless of anything.



 



Another seven years later, Rose Malfoy looked at Hermione Malfoy. ‘’Mummy, how did you and Daddy fall in love?’’




Hermione smiled at her seven year old daughter. ‘’Well…’’




Scorpius ran into the room, his stubby, five year old legs pounding the floor. ‘’you’re not talking about love again are you? Gross!’’



Hermione laughed. ‘’Your daddy and I didn’t really like each other at all when we were younger but…’’




‘’Mummy saw past the fact that Daddy was an idiot and took pity on him.’’ Draco walked into the room and Hermione felt her heart skip a beat as it always did when she saw him. ‘’And Daddy saw that Mummy was someone that he had been stupid never to notice, despite how annoying she could be. And then the conflict was gone.’’




Draco slipped a hand around Hermione’s shoulders, watched proudly as his son pretended to be sick, and as his daughter smiled and turned back to her dolls. Scorpius had Hermione’s colouring, whereas Rose was a blond-haired, blue-eyed little doll. 



‘’I love you so much.’’ He told her.



‘’You’d have thought I would get tired of hearing that.’’ Hermione smiled at him. ‘’I never will though. I love you too darling.’’



 



 



 



 



AN: Aw, it’s the end of an era hehe! Thank you so, so, so, so, so much for reading all the way to the end. Obviously, I will love you all the more if you leave me a comment to tell me that you loved it (in fact, even if you wanted to say that you didn’t like it, because I’m writing more). The review box is right underneath, it’ll only take a minute, so go for it! Again, thank you for reading, thank you to the wonderful people who have left me lovely reviews (especially those who did it consistently), and obviously thank you to the wonderful JK Rowling, who of course owns all of these characters. I am just a scared teenager hoping not to get sued, not a multi millionaire writer (damn!). Anyway, keep an eye out for any other of my stories – kisses, Petitesorciere x x x



 



 



 



 


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