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A Vagabond's New Home by LivingOutLoud

Format: Novella
Chapters: 26
Word Count: 33,301
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Snape, Draco
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 12/02/2009
Last Chapter: 04/02/2011
Last Updated: 04/02/2011

Summary:







Thanks to Ginny2951 for the great banner.

The timeline is between books six and into seven, after Snape has killed Dumbledore. Draco and Snape run away to the muggle city where Snape grew up, thinking that no one will find them there.

But there is one witch, Hermione, who also resides in this small town. She knows Draco very well and is about to know him even better.

 

And, it's finally complete! Enjoy


Chapter 1: The Arrival
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Disclaimer: I am not JKR, in case you were wondering.

A crack echoes through the air. Two thin frames apperate into the thick forest on the side of a hill. 

“Where are we going, Snape? What is this place?” Draco Malfoy says, flicking his wand about to move branches out of his way. 

“Shut up and follow me.” 

The two make their way down the slope towards a small city nestled in the valley. 

“What is this place? Are we still in England?” 

“This is my home town, Draco. Put your bloody wand away, we’re in hiding.” 

“Wait, this is a mud-blood town?” Draco stops in his tracks, “No, I’m not staying with a bunch of bloody mud-bloods.” 

“The whole wizarding world knows your face and is hunting you. We’re no longer safe there.” 

“But I…” 

“Draco, I have given my word that I would protect you,” Snape stops, pointing his finger in Malfoy’s face, “I have given up my life for you and nearly died. You will grow up and do as I say. You’re not under your father’s wing anymore.” 

Draco shoots a snarling glare at Severus, but says nothing. He places his wand in his cloak pocket. 

They walk through the trees until they reach the edge of the City. Draco’s grey eyes scan the quaint, small houses. Smoke billows from their chimneys and rises into the bright blue sky. He follows Snape through the concrete streets. He gazes at the large metal machines rolling over the road with terror in his eyes. 

Muggles cross to the other side of the road, avoiding Draco’s pale complection and long black cloak. Snape turns a corner and walks down a narrow street, then turns onto a rundown cul-de-sac. He leads Malfoy to the end of this road, and stands in front of a small, rundown hut. 

“This is where we’re living?” Malfoy scowls, “This is even worse than these other mud-blood shacks.” 

Snape walks to the front door and turns the key in the lock. The door swings open to reveal a small entrance way. Draco steps into the cramped space. He follows the narrow hallway down to the first bedroom of the two bedroom hut. He throws his wand and his cloak on the bare mattress and sits. He places his face in his hands and rubs his temples, listening to the creaking walls of his new home.










Hermione sits on her bed, unpacking her trunk from her last year at Hogwarts. She looks out her window as she refolds her sweaters. Her muggle hometown is a world away from Hogwarts, from the nightmare she just escaped from, from death eaters and the murder of Dumbledore, but she cannot help but feel fear. Her heart still beats heavily in her chest. 

As she soaks in the scenery out the window, Hedwig appears and taps on the glass. She opens the window and lets the large snowy owl in, taking the note from around Hedwig’s leg. 

Since leaving Hogwarts, Harry and Ron have been terrified for Hermione’s safety in the muggle world. Malfoy, Snape, and the rest of the death eaters that were at Hogwarts are still at large. Harry has been writing every day to check up on Hermione and beg her to stay at the burrow with him and Ron. 

They are leaving to find the last of the horcruxes in one month’s time, and Hermione wants to spend as much time as she can with her parents. She knows it may be her last chance. 

Hermione finishes unpacking her trunk then spreads out a large pile of books and opens several. She begins to study.


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Chapter 2: The Witch on the Mountain
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 Disclaimer: I am not JKR, in case you were wondering. 


    Hermione wakes up early with the sun. She grabs her wand off of her bedside table, takes a muffin for breakfast, and heads out her front door. Her feet pad quietly down the deserted street. Her shadow stretches far in front of her as the sun rises behind her. 

     She keeps one hand on her back pocket, where her wand is stashed. She feels the smooth wood rubbing against her lower back between her t-shirt and her bare skin. The other hand shoves muffin into her mouth, trying to calm her growling stomach.
Hermione walks through the small town and into the forest. She turns to look down into the valley. She pulls her wand from her back pocket and places a confusion spell on the area to lead the townsfolk away from her. She walks further into the forest, casting silencing spells and more confusion spells. Finally, she makes her way to a rocky part of the mountain that levels out. She stands in the middle of rocky clearing and points her wand, creating a ring of bushes and trees, blocking herself from the view of others.






     Draco rolls out of bed slowly. He stands and cracks his back twice, trying to get the kinks out. He does not bother to put the sheets back onto his mattress, but walks into the kitchen instead. Severus Snape is sitting on a chair in front of the counter. There is no table. He holds a piece of toast in one hand and the local muggle paper in the other. 

     “Can’t we fix this place up?” Draco wines, dropping two slices of bread into the muggle toast machine. “This roof is going to collapse.” 

     “No magic, Draco.” 

     “This is ridiculous! I’m not going to curse anyone, I just want to fix the place up. No one is going to notice a little magic here and there.” 

     “We don’t know who could be watching. We can’t take any chances.” 

     Draco sighs and slumps into a chair, leaning his elbows on the kitchen counter. He spreads butter onto his toast, but does not take a bite. Snape stands and puts his now empty plate in the sink. He picks up his coat and walks from the kitchen. 

     “Where are you going?” Malfoy calls after him. 

     “I have business to attend to, don’t leave the house.” Snape slams the front door behind him. 

     “Screw that,” Malfoy says. 

     He drops his toast on the dirty counter and sulks out of the kitchen. He steps into his shoes and grabs his wand out of habit. He is out the door and half way down the street before he stops suddenly, turns back towards the house, then makes one circle slowly. He continues to walk away from the shack, looking down each road he passes, trying to find his bearings. He grimaces at the smell of the muggle’s cars, as Snape called them. He watches them pass him with a look of pity and disgust on his face. 

     He turns sharply and walks through the town the way they came in. He reaches the forest, and breathes in the scent of the sweet pines and firs. He walks further, trying to escape the putrid smell of exhaust and smog from the city. Suddenly, he feels the need to turn. He heads across the mountain rather than up it. 

     He finds a narrow trail used y animals and follows it. He winds and curves up the mountain and through the trees. The trail doubles back several times while heading up the mountain. Finally, the trail stops. Draco walks out of the trees and onto a rocky cusp. The ground is flat and it leads out, hanging a few metres over the mountain.
Draco walks to the edge of the cliff and looks out over the scenery. He can see the dismal muggle city far below him, pumping out smoke from the chimneys. There is a lake on the other side of the city, and another smaller one next to it. Draco scans the valley and the mountain side. His eyes follow the weaving trail he took up the mountain. Just past where the trail begins, Draco notices a peculiar grove of trees. Right in the middle of the mountain, where the terrain flattens out, is a thick circle of trees. Draco lies down on his stomach against the cold rock to get a better look.
There is someone in the middle of the circle of trees, running this way and that. Draco squints. It is a woman about his age. Draco watches her with enthusiasm. He watches her brown hair blow in the wind. He watches her breasts bounce as she runs from one side of the clearing to another, pointing. 

     A flash of red light erupts from the grove and eight trees surrounding the grove topple to the ground. Draco is taken aback. His jaw hangs open. She is a witch. There is a witch on the mountain. 

     Draco squints, noticing that the witch has been pointing a wand about. She has not been running around wildly, but practicing her dueling techniques, Draco notices. The witches feet lead her in a predictable pattern. Flashes of green and blue fly at the trees each time the witch uses a stronger spell. 

     Draco smiles, wiping the shame of watching a muggle woman out of his mind. He leans further over the cliff, but is unable to see as much of the young witch as he would like. He pulls his wand slowly out of his back pocket. He casts a magnifying spell to see the woman closer. She spins around, feeling his magical presence. Draco gasps and covers his mouth, trying to sink as low to the ground as he can. 


     Hermione granger whirls around, knowing that someone has just cast a spell. She strains her eyes to see someone, but there is nothing. She quickly removes her grove of trees and her other spells around the area before disapperating home.

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Chapter 3: Veritaserum
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     Draco finds himself waiting on the rock cliff the next day. He picks up small rocks to throw at the girl as he walks up the thin trail. If magic is going to frighten her off, he’ll have to annoy her some other way. He spends the morning on the rock ledge, building a makeshift hideaway with leaves and tree bows. He sits cross legged to test it, making sure he is well hidden, but still in throwing range of where Granger’s clearing will appear. 

     Malfoy does not notice how late it is until the sun is high above his head. Granger has not shown up. He waits until the sun is far behind the mountain tops before giving up and going back to the hovel.
 
     Draco tromped around the forest for two more days. There was no sign of Hermione Granger. He would have given up, but each time he was about to head back into town, he would catch a whiff of the awful smog and hear the honking horns and the screeching tires from the bustling muggle streets. 

     On his fifth day in the forest, he gives up on Hermione. He is wondering through the woods, following a set of stag tracks when a twig cracked in the distance. He strains his ears to hear footsteps approaching. Draco runs sideways into the bush and jumps behind a large, bushy shrub. He peers out through the branches to see, only ten feet away, Hermione passing him. Her hiking boots step sturdily on the rocks as she passes Draco’s hiding place. She notices nothing. Draco notices the lack of length to her shorts. He snickered inside himself. Granger isn’t such a prude after all.
Hermione breaks off into the woods towards her regular spot, casting her usual protection spells. As she casts a circle of trees around her, Malfoy sneaks closer to get a better look. 

     Draco hides behind the second layer of Hermione’s trees. At this distance, he can hear the advanced spells Hermione is shooting out. Her curls bob up and down as she shoots beams of green and blue every which way. Draco shifts himself further into the trees, hiding himself in the shadows. 

     “Accio acromantula!” Hermione screams. 

     Draco throws himself behind the tree, clasping a hand over his mouth so not to scream. A huge, fifteen foot spider appears out of nowhere. It is stunned for a moment, then notices Hermione and begins to charge. 

     “Incarcerous!” Hermione screams. Ropes fly out of her wand and wrap around the large spider’s legs. It flexes it’s huge legs and snaps the weak strands easily. 

     “What the hell is she doing?” Draco mumbles, backing up slowly. 

     The spider begins to charge at Hermione, bearing its fangs. 

     “Locomotor mortis!” Hermione screams. 

     The spider falls to the ground, all eight legs useless. It is still snarling and bearing its fangs at Hermione.
 
     Hermione steps closer to the creature, “Avad-“ She stops half-way through and takes a breath in. The spider continues to thrash and bite at the air. Hermione steadies her shaking hand. 

     “Avada Kedavra!” A flash of green light spews from Hermiione’s wand. The acromantula lies lifeless on the ground. “Depulso.” Hermione says quietly. The giant, lifeless spider disappears. 

     Hermione takes in gulping breaths of air. She lowers her head a little and lifts the bottom of her shirt to wipe the sweat from her face. 

     Draco watches the mudblood facing him. Her shirt rises, exposing her milky white stomach. He holds in a breath. He can just see the bottom of her pink bra peeking out from her uplifted shirt. A stick cracks underneath the step he did not know he took.
Hermione drops her shirt and raises her wand in the blink of an eye. She spots Malfoy in the forest. He has stepped between the trees and is in plain view. Draco begins to turn and run. 

     “Sectumsepra! Petrificus totalus!” She runs to the Draco’s limp body lying on the forest floor. His leg has a huge gash in it. The blood is oozing through his grey slacks. 

     “Where are they?” Hermione screams, pointing her wand at his back. 

     “Where are who?” Draco struggles to say though his face is squished against the ground. 

     Hermione grabs his shoulder and turns him over quickly. She points her wand at his throat. “Where are the other death eaters?” 

     “What are you talking about?” 

     Hermione keeps her wand at Malfoy’s throat. She whirls her head around. Her curls bash against her face. She sees no one. 

     Hermione grabs Draco’s throat with her nimble fingers and apparates. 

     She pushes Draco’s head against the hardwood floor of her room, still gripping her nails into his throat. 

     “Let me go, I’ve done nothing!” Draco screams. 

     Hermione quickly performs a silencing spell around her room, then walks to her dresser in the corner of her room. She pulls out a small vial of varitaserum. She walks back to Draco’s limp body lying in the middle of her floor. 

     He tries to lock his jaw, but Hermione points her wand at his throat again and he gives in. She drops three drops onto his tongue. He swallows, watching the anger and hatred in Granger’s brown eyes. 

     “Who sent you?” 

     “No one.” Draco says, still trying to move his arms and legs. It is no use. 

     Hermione steps back and sits on her queen bed. A deep red comforter covers it. “Where are the other death eaters?” 

     “There aren’t any death eaters here, you dimwitted mudblood. There’s only me and Snape.” Draco’s eyes widen and he tries to clamp his mouth shut.
 
     Hermione looks curiously at him. “Did Snape send you to kill me?” 

     “I wasn’t trying to kill you.” 

     “Why are you and Snape here?” 

     “We’re…” 

     “Malfoy,” Hermione laughs, “Even you can’t stop veritaserum.” 

     “We’re hiding.” 

     “From what?” 

     “Everything.” Draco says, his head falling back on the hardwood. “The wizarding world wants us dead. The ministry will put us in Azkaban. I don’t know what the dark lord will do with me.” 

     “Why would Voldemort hurt you, you’re bloody well one of them.” 

     “I’m not.” Draco says matter of factly, “I was supposed to receive the dark mark after killing Dumbledore. I didn’t do it, Snape did.” 

     “But you let the death eaters into the school.” 

     “I don’t know if that’s enough for him.” Fear flickers in Draco Malfoy’s grey eyes, if only for an instant. 

     “Why did you and Snape come to the muggle world?” Granger says. 

     “The whole god damned wizarding world is after us, Hermione! Where else would we go?” 

     Hermione shivers at her name leaving Draco’s lips. She sits in silence for a moment. “But why here? Did you know I lived here?” 

     “No. This is Snape’s home town. It’s the first place he could think of.” 

     Her eyebrows rise with curiosity, but she pushes on. “Why were you spying on me in the forest?” 

     “I was bored.” 

     Hermione blinks. “You weren’t going to hex me, jinx me, mock and ridicule me?” 

     “I was going to throw rocks.” 

     “Why didn’t you?” Hermione keeps her wand trained on Malfoy’s neck. 

     “Well, I was a little distracted by the fifteen foot spider! What the hell were you thinking?” 

     Granger does not answer him. “You were the one doing magic before. Have you been watching me since then?” 

     “You didn’t show up for three days.” Draco tries to shrug but can’t. 

     “How did you know it was me?” 

     “I didn’t.” 

     “What?” 

     “I cast a magnifying spell to see you. That’s what you felt.” Draco says without a hint of emotion. 

     Hermione sits still for a moment thinking. “Why were you watching me in the first place, if you didn’t know it was me?” 

     Draco’s eyes widen. He looks frightened for the first time all afternoon. His eyes dart around the room. His lips wrench themselves open against his control and he mutters out something, too quiet to hear. 

     “Oh, spit it out, you ferret.” Hermione says angrily. 

     Draco closes his eyes and winces, “Your breasts.” 

     Hermione’s eyes widen. She stares blankly at Draco’s thin form lying still on her floor. Draco keeps his eyes closed, refusing to make eye contact. 

     Hermione stands from her bed and walks to Draco’s body. She grabs hold of his shoulder as he twitches from her touch. She apparates to a deserted park in the middle of town. 

     She bends down to his left foot and pushes his slacks up to his knee. 

     “What do you think you’re doing, Granger?” Draco stutters. 

     She looks around quickly check that the coast is clear. Hermione points her want and mutters something quietly and the large gash on Draco’s leg clots and heals. She pulls his pant leg back down. 

     She stands and points her wand at Draco again. 

     “Stay away from me, Malfoy,” She says with force. 

     She undoes her body bind spell and disapparates home, leaving Draco alone in the park.

Chapter 4: Snape’s Truth
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     Hermione sits on her couch in the living room, trying to forget the blonde menace now running about her town. She turns on the television and sits back, trying to slow her breathing. She calms down as show after show pass on the television, setting her into a calmer state.

     
     The doorbell rings. It is the middle of the afternoon now, much too early for her parents to be back from work. Hermione walks to the front door and opens it. Her jaw drops as Snape pushes himself into Hermione’s home. He has awkwardly put himself into a brown jumper, a pair of dark jeans, and loafers. He pushes against Hermione and shoves himself through her front door, shutting it behind him.

     
     “You and I need to have a little chat.”


     Hermione’s wand is drawn, but Snape’s wand is pointed against Hermione’s heart quicker.


     “Don’t push me, girl,” Snape leads her to the dining room table. He pushes her into one seat and sits himself across from her. His wand is never lowered. “Draco has told me of his encounter with veritaserum. I assure you I do not know why he was near you in the first place, but now that you know we are here, we must try to be civil.”


     “Why should I listen to you, you murderer?” Hermione spits.


     “I am on your side, Granger. I am with the Order.”


     “You killed Dumbledore, you’re a traitor. You have always been a traitor.”


     Snape’s eyes burn with fury, “I have been risking my life for the Order. I am our only double agent and I am a crucial piece to the fall of the Dark Lord. If you turn Draco and myself in, your friend Potter is doomed.”


     “You’re lying, you worthless little…”


     “Hermione, please calm yourself.” A voice calls from the adjoining living room.


     Hermione and Snape both turn to see Dumbledore looking at the pair of them through his portrait on the mantle.


     “Hello, Severus.” Dumbledore says calmly, acknowledging the man across from Hermione with his wand in her face.”


     “Albus, I…”


     “I know, Severus. It is alright. Hermione, what Professor Snape tells you is true. It is crucial that he keep pretending to be part of the Dark Lord’s alliance, and it is crucial that no one suspect a thing. Unfortunately, it has lead to my own death. This war is bigger than all of us, Hermione, and we must all risk ourselves for the greater good.”


     “But, Sir, you’re dead because of this man.” She points at Snape, “He’s a murderer.”


     Snape sighs and looks back at Hermione. His wand lowers a little. “I made an unbreakable vow with Narcissa to keep Draco safe. If I had not have done it, she would have assumed something was wrong, and the Dark Lord would no longer confide in me. Draco would have been killed if Dumbledore had not have been, so I did it myself. I had no choice.”


     Hermione sits with her mouth gaping open. Her eyes dart from Snape to Dumbledore in his frame, then back again.


     “You must tell no one about Draco and myself being here. Draco must also know nothing about what I am really doing. He must stay in the dark. If I am to keep protecting and helping Potter, you mustn’t tell a soul.”


     “But, why are you helping Harry now? You’ve never cared before.”


     “I’ve been trying to protect Harry his whole life.” Snape says, his eyes like slits.


     “Why?”


      “He will know soon enough.” Snape says, “Say nothing, Granger. Say nothing, or we may all die.” Snape stands and lets himself out of her house.


     Hermione sits frozen at the dining room table. Slowly, her eyes drift to Dumbledore’s portrait. He is smiling sweetly at her.


     “You must trust him, Hermione. I know it is hard to grasp, but he has told you the truth. Both Severus and Draco need you now. We all need you to be strong.” With that, Dumbledore’s portrait is empty and he heads off somewhere more important than Hermione’s house.

 

Author’s note: I know it’s a little odd for Hermione to have a proper portrait. I figure that if Dumbledore knew what would happen, and he could probably have fathomed a guess, then he would have known where Snape would try to hide and that the three meeting up would be impossible to stop in such a small city. It would have been far too dangerous for Snape to halve a portrait with Draco around, or if they were found. This way, if Hermione was given a portrait he could keep up with Harry and the war and Snape all at once.

PS: PLEASE REVIEW


 

Chapter 5: Draco's World: Upside Down
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     Draco sits on the plastic swing in the deserted park where Hermione left him. His arms wrap around the chains and his long, thin hands sit in his lap. He pushes himself back and forth a little with his feet on the ground. He stares off into the distance. He has not seen Hermione in three days, since she heard the truth. He had no will to go look for her in the forest. Snape was still fuming about Draco getting himself caught and putting them both in such jeopardy. 

     Snape simply didn’t understand. Severus had been heading out somewhere each day, taking a bit of polyjuice with him in case. Snape wasn’t trapped. He had something to take his mind off the situation. Draco has nothing. 

     Malfoy had never been to a muggle village before this, and he was lost with confusion, fear, and disgust. He was depressed and lonely and, for the first time in his life, fearful of the future. Snape was back in his home town, in his old house, and he could whisk himself back to the wizarding world whenever he chose to. The only thing Draco had to remind himself of home was that stupid little mud-blood. 

     “Malfoy,” 

     Draco heard his name on the wind. He heard it in her-I’m upset and don’t give me that look because you are not better than me-voice. He stared down at his thin hands in his lap. His lips couldn’t help but curl into a small smile. He rubbed his fingers with his thumb. It was silly for him to miss such things. It was silly to miss the way she would scream at him and call him names. The way she would cry and fight when he used those terrible words. He missed his childhood enemies. He missed the schoolyard pranks. They should have been there now, fighting and yelling and throwing harmless curses at each other, not trying to evade the end of the world. Not choosing sides. Draco scratched at his hands and pushed himself more on the swing. He was not a murderer, Harry was not a hero, and Hermione was not a soldier. They were all just children. 

     “Oi, Malfoy, you bloody git!” 

     Draco looks up, realizing that her voice was not in his own head. Granger is walking closer to the park, alongside an older woman who must be her mother. They have the same brown curls. 

     “What were you trying to prove, getting Snape to come after me like that?” Anger still burns in her eyes. 

     “What are you talking about?” Draco tries to make his voice strong and loud, but it isn’t quite right. 

     “You told Snape to come and talk to me, scare me.” 

     “What did he talk to you about?” Draco asks, his voice still not as demanding as he would have liked.
 
     Hermione remembered Snape’s words. She stuttered for a minute, then looked down at the pale, boy on the swing, staring at the ground and shuffling his feet in the dirt. “Why aren’t you arguing with me?” 

     Malfoy looks up for a second, then turns back down to his feet. “I’m too hungry to argue. What’s the point to it anyway?” 

     Hermione’s eyes survey the boy in front of her. He is weaker than before. He seems smaller and paler, and she doesn’t think it’s just that she is towering over him as he sits for once. He has gotten thinner. 

     “Why don’t you bloody well eat then, you idiot.” 

     “There’s no food in the house. Snape’s been gone for two and a half days. I’m trying to ration.” Draco says quietly, too tired to lie.
 
     “Why don’t you go to the grocery store?” Hermione puts her hands on her hips. She had wanted to yell at him, tell him he was wrong and mean. This wasn’t turning out. 

     “The what?” Draco looked up at her, sheer confusion plastered on his face. 

     “If he’s hungry, then he must come to dinner.” Hermione’s mother says from behind. 

     Both forgot she was there. Draco looks up to see the woman behind her, looking so much like her daughter, only with a smile on her lips. 

     “But mom, he doesn’t want…” Hermione starts.
 
     “Don’t be rude Hermione,” The woman shifts the bag of groceries in her arm and walks to Malfoy. She places her hand on his shoulder. “Come on, dear, you’ll have a nice warm supper with us, then we’ll get everything straightened out. You’re from Hogwarts aren’t you?” 

     “Uh,” Draco stares up at the woman with such kindness in her eyes. “Yes.” 

     She beckons the boy to stand and she leads him down the street. Hermione catches up quickly; there is no point arguing now. She stands on the opposite side of Malfoy, keeping an eye on him. Hermione’s house is not far from the park. Her mother opens the door and heads to the kitchen to place the groceries on the counter. Draco and Hermione both follow. 

     Hermione’s father is sitting in the living room, reading his muggle paper. He places it down and walks to his wife. 

     “There are my girls.” He stops in the kitchen doorway and looks at the tall blonde boy. “Oh, hello.” 

     Hermione’s mother places a kiss on her husband’s cheek. “Honey, this is, I’m sorry, Dear, I didn’t catch your name.” 

     “Draco” Malfoy says, not sure what to do. 

     “Nice to meet you, Draco, was it?” Hermione’s father has an odd look on his face. 

     “He’s Hermione’s friend from Hogwarts, Dear.” Hermione’s mother explains. 

     “Oh, alright,” Her father extends his hand and Draco shakes it cautiously. 

     “He’ll be staying for dinner. Why don’t you two go to Hermione’s room,” Her mother says, “Supper won’t be too long.” 

     Hermione pulls at Draco’s arm furiously. “Come on.” She leads him down the hall to the room where he had been stuck on the floor earlier that week. 

     She sits on her bed, and Draco sits next to her cautiously. He looks around her room. The walls are a golden-yellow and her blankets and pillows are Griffindor red. Her walls are covered in picture, both muggle and magical. She has pictures of her years at Hogwarts, her time at the Burrow, and a few magical pictures of her family on vacations. The muggle pictures are portraits of couples and families, all looking vaguely like Hermione and her parents. 

     “Malfoy.” Hermione finally breaks the silence. 

     He turns to her, but says nothing. 

     “Could I…see your arm?” 

     “You don’t believe me?” He says, finally finding a bit of an edge in his voice. 

     “You’re hard to trust.” She says, shrugging. 

     Draco rolls up the sleeve of his cotton dress shirt. He pushes the bare, pale skin at Hermione. She rubs her thumb against it, knowing there is no way to remove the Dark Mark, but looking for signs anyway. Draco tenses at the feeling of her hand on his skin. 

     “Why are your parents so nice to me?” Draco asks without thinking. 

     Hermione drops Draco’s arm and looks up. “Why shouldn’t they be?” 

     “I’m…I’m a wizard.” 

     “I’m a witch, remember. They have no reason to believe you’re not my friend at Hogwarts, no different than Ron, or Harry, or Neville.” 

     “But they’re-aren’t they afraid?” 

     “Of what?” Hermione’s eyes narrow. 

     Draco remembers his childhood. He remembers the stories of dangerous muggles. He remembers the fairy tales about wandering too far from home and being caught by a Muggle and burned at the stake. He remembers the stories the Death Eaters told of the stupid, lost, useless animals that muggles are. He says nothing. He averts his eyes to look around Hermione’s room. He looks at all the muggle photos hanging on the walls. 

     “Why do you bother keeping these things. They’re all of muggles.” He says with disgust in his voice. 

     “They’re my family.” Hermione says, a little angry. 

     “But you’re a witch, a mud-blood, yes. But you’re still better than them.” He motions towards the photographs, “Why would you want to remember you’re related to such scum?” 

     Hermione crosses her arms and purses her lips. “I am a Granger,” Hermione’s chin raises. “My parents are both dentists. My aunt is the best neurosurgeon in Britain.” 

     Malfoy notices a gleam in Hermione’s eye. The same gleam he gets when speaking of his family. 

     “My Grandmother was the first woman to get the title of doctor,” Hermione smirks at Draco, “And my Great Grandfather was diagnostician to the Queen.” 

     Draco looks at her with disbelief in his eyes. “Muggles…muggles have pure-blood families.” 

     Hermione laughs, “Status isn’t based on purity here anymore, Malfoy. We haven’t been that barbaric in years. Class is based on job status and how accomplished your family has become.” 
     
     Draco’s brow furrows, trying to understand what Hermione has just said.
“And,” Hermione adds, “We don’t belittle or torture those below us. We have morals.” She looked at Malfoy and smiled curtly, as if to say she was and had always been better than him and his pure-blood nonsense. 

     “I have morals!” Draco shouts. 

     “Like what?” 

     “Hermione,” Her mother knocks on her bedroom door, “Dinner is ready.” 

     Hermione shoots Draco a glare, “Come on, ferret.” She leads him out of her room and into the dining room. 

     They sit with an empty chair between them as Hermione’s mother brings the shepard’s pie out to the table. Hermione’s father grabs a heaping plateful first, followed swiftly by Malfoy. 

     Hermione and Draco eat quickly in silence. Once he is finished, Hermione clears his plate and he heads back to Snape’s empty shack.

Chapter 6: The Deal
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Malfoy trumps through the bush, knocking tree branches out of his way. His sweaty wool slacks have been replaced by loose jeans. His now wrinkled and soiled dress shirt has been shed for a plain black t-shirt. 

His hands are stuffed into his pockets as he weaves amongst Hermione’s circle of trees. He kicks at the rocks and dirt with his feet, trying to keep his eyes glued to the ground. 

“If you’re going to sulk around, following me all day, you might as well come help me.” Hermione yells from the clearing. 

Draco walks through the remaining rows of trees still in front of him. “I’m not sulking, there’s just nothing else to do.” 

Hermione places her hands on her hips and smirks, “You could go to the mall, the movies…” 

“I’m not spending my time with muggles. It’s bad enough being here with you.”
“Shut up and duel me.” 

“I already told you, I can’t do magic. If someone notices…” 

“Is there any way someone could differentiate between my magic and yours?” 

“Well, if they saw me…” 

“If they saw you, they’d know who you were regardless of you doing magic.” 

Draco sulks to Hermione’s side, “Why should I help you, Granger? That’s fraternizing with the enemy.” 

“The rest of the wizarding world is after you, The way I see it, everyone is your enemy but me.” 

Malfoy chuckles, “Potter and Weasel would disown you if they heard you say that.” 

“They’d disown me if they knew you were at my house last night.” 

Draco turns away from her for a moment. “Why do you need my help?” 

“I won’t be fighting trees and rocks in war. I need some real dueling practice.” 

“Death Eaters won’t be lining up neatly to have a fair duel, Granger. They’ll attack you in numbers, they’ll pick you guys off one by one.” 

“This is why I need your help, Malfoy, you can show me what a Death Eater is like.”
Draco’s eyes turn to slivers and his mouth scrunches into a snarl. 

“That’s not what I meant. If I didn’t trust you, I would have called the ministry already. But you’ve been around the Death Eaters your whole life, you can show me how to defend myself.” 

Draco turns away slowly and perches himself on a nearby rock. “Why should I help you win? Why should I help you kill my family, my friends?” 

“What am I supposed to do, Malfoy, just sit here and wait for the war to come?” 

“This isn’t a game, Granger. We’re not talking about a schoolyard brawl. This is war. People will die. You’ll kill people.” 

“You think I don’t understand that?” Hermione yells at the boy, still sitting on the rock. 

“You don’t understand any of this. You’re a mud…” 

“That’s right, Malfoy, I’m a filthy little mudblood.” Granger moves closer to Malfoy, leaning into him. “I’m also the best friend of the boy who lived, which means after Harry, I’m first on Voldemort’s list.” Hermione’s eyes are inches from Draco’s. “I have no choice, Malfoy. I can’t pretend the war won’t come. I can’t just sit here. He will find me. He will kill me. He will kill my family and everyone I’ve ever cared for unless I can stop it. So get off your god damned high horse and help me!” 

Draco’s eyes waver on her big brown orbs. Her teeth are bared and she is snarling at him. He drops his angry exterior and looks down at his shoes. He takes a moment to regain his thoughts then looks up at the girl with a heavy set jaw. “Promise me you won’t hurt my family.” 

Hermione bites her bottom lip and her eyes soften to the boy sitting in front of her. “Deal.” 

She extends her hand and they shake.




Later in the afternoon, Hermione is rummaging through her many book shelves, 
mumbling to herself. “I know I just had it.” 

Draco is laying on her couch with his ankles crossed and his hands clasped behind his head. “Why is your couch so comfortable? I just want to take a nap.” 

“Aha,” Hermione exclaims, flipping through a rather fat book and dropping it open onto Draco’s chest. 

He moans and picks up the book. 

Hermione balances on the arm of the couch and points at a paragraph. “See, they talk about this spell a few times, but they never go into detail or give the incantation.” 

“Hmm, I think my dad told me about this one.” 

“Yeah?” 

“Yeah, it’s a rearrangement spell. People used to use it to clean up and stuff in the turn of the century, before women really had a voice in the ministry and a chance to perfect easier spells.” 

“But, it says in the next chapter that in the beginning, some of Voldemort’s followers used it.” 

“It can be used to rearrange other things, like bones, or organs.” 

“Oh,” Hermione’s face twists into a grimace. 

“I think I can remember it. I can show you tomorrow.” 

“Great. We’re meeting at the swings, right? Just after sunrise.” 

“I’ll see you then. I’ve got to get back before Snape comes after me.” 

“Alright, Malfoy.” Hermione smiles a little. 

Draco passes Hermione her book and stands, letting himself out the front door.
Hermione stays perched on the arm of the couch, smiling as he goes. Draco was a great help today. He only sneered half a dozen times, and he hadn’t tried to call her a mudblood since their quarrel in the forest. She slid down and sat herself on the couch. He had been quite bearable, in fact. Hermione laughed to herself. It’s funny what a little solitude will do to a person.

Chapter 7: The Daily Prophet
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 Hermione gets up at the crack of dawn and takes a quick shower. She wraps herself in her bath robe then heads to the kitchen for breakfast before meeting Draco. She lets the owl carrying the Daily Prophet in lazily and continues eating her toast. 

She sits at the kitchen table with a glass of orange juice to look through the news paper quickly. Her eyes freeze on the front page, her glass half way to her lips. Her hand begins to shake a little as her jaw falls open. She leaves her orange juice on the counter as she runs out the front door, still gripping the paper to her chest. 

“Hey, where are we going today?” Draco looks up from his hands to Hermione’s thin frame running towards him. “What’s wrong?” He stands and walks towards her, noticing the fear in her eyes. 

“Draco,” she finally reaches him. 

He stops short of her at the sound of his name on her lips. 

“Have you seen the Daily Prophet?” 

Draco notices the paper clinging to Hermione’s chest. “No, we don’t get it. What’s wrong?” His breathing begins to speed up, watching Hermione’s eyes waver on his, full of pain. 

She pushes the paper at him slowly and he takes it in his large hand, searching over the front page. His breath hitches and his eyes widen, looking into his father’s angry eyes. Two guards try to pull the older man away from the photographer as he growls and shouts. His platinum blonde hair falls in front of his face, as he tries to wrench away from the guards. Draco reads the headline just below the picture: “Malfoy, wanted Death Eater, caught. To receive Dementor’s Kiss in weeks.” 

Draco’s legs collapse under him as he falls to his knees. The Daily Prophet falls to the ground, stained by hot tears. His body convulses erratically as he sobs. Hermione falls to his side quickly, grabbing hold of his shoulder to calm him. Draco scrambles for her, locking his pale arms around her stomach without a thought. His forehead rests on her shoulder as he gasps for air, tears wetting her t-shirt. Hermione’s arms hold him close. Her hand runs through his blonde hair, trying to calm him. 

“Shh, shh,” She says quietly in his ear. 

He chokes on his breath. He tries to hold back the tears, and begins taking in short, eratic breaths, separated by loud sobs. He feels the familiar sensation of apparation, but does not look up. 

Snape hears a loud crack as someone apparates into the small house. He runs to the living room, wand at the ready, a thousand curses on the tip of his tongue. He sees Draco lying limply on the floor, sobbing loudly. He is clinging desperately to Granger who is trying to calm him and get him to stand. 

“What did you do to him?” Snape yells, rushing to the Slytherin’s side. 

Hermione tosses him the Daily Prophet, now crumpled and tear stained. Snape’s eyes linger on the picture of the accused man, then down to Lucius’ son, cowering at Snape’s feet. 

“Where is his room?” Hermione asks. She pulls Draco slowly to his feet as he crouches and clings to Hermione’s shoulders now. 

Snape rushes down the hall and opens Draco’s bedroom door. Granger holds his heavy body up with one arm under his arms, the other still tangled in his hair, trying to calm the boy. With her help, Draco shuffles down the hall and Hermione lowers him slowly onto the box spring mattress lying in the corner of the room. 

He lets go of her shoulders and neck to grab a pillow from the top of his bed. He holds it tightly to him, sopping up his tears. He pulls his knees to his chest and shakes violently, unable to stop the cascading of tears. 

Hermione rests her small hand on the boy’s shaking back. His face is towards the wall. 

“Draco,” Snape says in a whisper, “Is there anything I can get you?” He is standing stiffly in the door frame. 

Draco opens his mouth, but nothing escapes but another shaking sob. 

“I’ll be just out here. If there’s anything…” Severus’ words trail off and he closes the door quietly. 

Hermione repositions herself on Malfoy’s bed so she can set her calming hand more easily on his shoulder. “Do you need water? Anything?” Hermione says weakly, unsure what to do. 

“Don’t leave.” Draco whispers through shaking sobs.





Draco wakes up slowly, feeling the dried remnants of salty tears on his face and shirt. He pushes a stiff wool blanket off his chest and wipes at his still slightly swollen eyes. The memories of the morning and the Daily Prophet swim quickly back into his mind. He turns away from the wall and his eyes focus on the form of a girl curled up on a kitchen chair moved into the corner of his room, fast asleep. 

“Hermione?” He says. The air is scratchy against his sore throat, tired from sobbing. 

Hermione twitches and opens her eyes slowly. “You’re awake.” 

“You’re still here.” 

“You told me not to leave.” 

Draco wipes at his eyes self-consciously and moves to a sitting position. 

“Are you hungry?” Hermione asks, “I made lunch a while ago. I saved some for you and I can heat it up if you’d like.” 

“Oh…alright. What time is it?” 

“About two.” Hermione pushes herself off of the kitchen chair and walks out of Draco’s room. 

Snape’s voice comes from the small living room.”Is Draco awake?” 

“Yes. I’m just getting him some lunch.” 

She returns quickly with a bowl of soup and a box or crackers. She pulls the stacked milk crates staging as a bedside table closer to Malfoy and placing the bowl on top. Snape makes his way to the door frame of Draco’s room as he sits up and begins eating soup. 

“We’ll fix this Draco, somehow.” Snape says. 

“It’s the dementor’s kiss.” Draco whispers. 

“We’ll get him out, postpone it, something.” 

“He’s dead, Severus. There’s nothing we…” Draco swallows his sobs with a big mouthful of soup. 

“No he isn’t. He won’t be for weeks. He’s your father, Draco. We need to do something about.” 

Malfoy tries to stop himself, but his shaking hand cannot lift soup to his mouth quick enough. A sob breaks past his lips. He drops the spoon to the floor and brings the whole bowl to his lips, trying to mask his tears. 

“You’re upsetting him, Snape.” Hermione sits up and begins pushing the grown man out of the room. 

“He needs to…” Snape starts. 

“We can plan tomorrow. He’s too upset, can’t you see that?” Hermione whispers to her former professor before shutting the door in his face. 

Draco Sniffles and cries into the bowl as he empties the hot liquid into his stomache. 
Hermione sits next to him and places her hand on his shaking shoulder. 

“Go back to sleep?” 

“Will you stay?”





Draco wakes up in the middle of the night, cold sweat dripping through his cotton t-shirt and leaving his platinum hair sticking to his forehead. 

“Her-Hermione?” He whispers quietly to the darkness, still picturing the dementors from his nightmare. 

Draco pushes his wool blanket off of his sweating body and places his bare feet against the cold floor. He stumbles through the darkness, finding the kitchen chair in the corner of his room. No one is there, so he opens the door to his room slowly and pads his way down the hallway. 

In the living room, he finds Hermione’s small frame curled on the couch, fast asleep. 

“Hermione,” Draco stands over her, grasping his wet t-shirt with one hand and fumbling to wipe at his fresh tears with the other. 

Hermione stirs and slowly opens her eyes to focus on the man towering over her, weeping like a boy. 

“What’s wrong?” Hermione slowly rises to her feet. 

“There were dementors. I was trying to save him but they…they…and then I woke up, but you weren’t there.” 

“It’s okay, it was just a bad dream.” 

Draco sits on the couch next to Hermione. His breathing slows as she wipes the stray tears from his cheeks. Draco looks deep into her brown eyes with his steel ones. For the first time today, he realizes that she is Granger, Hogwarts’ biggest book worm, best friend of his arch-nemesis Harry Potter, and the girl he had taunted since he was eleven. His eyes widen and he bites down on his lip hard. 

Hermione sees his eyes widen with worry and confusion as he chews on his lip. She raises her hand to his face once more and brushes the stray hairs from his forehead. 
“Everything is going to be all right, Draco. Snape will come up with a plan and we’ll sort everything out by tomorrow.” 

Draco’s eyes falter for a moment. Maybe he is wrong, maybe she isn’t Granger. Maybe she is just Hermione. 

The two of them sit there together. Hermione’s worried gaze searches Draco’s face for some sign of emotion. It is not a mask as it had been for so many years. Instead, it is full of so many emotions at once; she can’t tell which is which. He sits still, his eyes transfixed on her, only he isn’t looking at her. It is as if he is seeing right through her. Slowly, Draco’s eyelids begin to droop and fall. 

“You need to get to bed,” Hermione says. 

Draco snaps back to the present and lets Hermione lead him into his room. He lays down in his bed. Hermione leans down to pull the covers up over Malfoy once more when he grabs her around the waist and hugs her. She lets her hand fall softly on his shoulder and squeezes a little. 

“Stay,” Draco says quietly. 

“I’m not leaving, it’s okay.” 

“No, stay here.” Draco pulls Hermione closer to his chest. 

“Draco,” Hermione begins to argue, but her arms have already found their way around Draco’s shoulder, embracing him in a hug. 

“Please, I don’t want to be alone tonight.” Draco slides himself closer to the wall, and as he pulls Hermione closer once more she does not resist.





Draco wakes up with a layer of sweat on his brow. He had been running down a long corridor, trying the find his father’s cell but he couldn’t. The dementors were right on his heels. He opens his eyes and the morning light coming through the sheet draped over the window hurts. He reaches for the hand grasping his bicep. 

“Mom, I had the worst dream, I’m so glad you came for me.” He turns towards the older woman sitting on the edge of his bed, grasping his arm. He opens his eyes a little, searching for her soft blue eyes that always looked down on him with such care. Beside him is a mess of brown curls. They rub his cheeks and tickle his nose as he turns towards them. 

Hermione’s small hand tightens around his upper arm as he wrenches himself back quickly in shock. Her arm falls back to the bed as he sits up, his hand on his forehead. Hermione looks up at Draco groggily. 

“I thought I was back at the Mansion.” Draco mumbles, more to himself. 

Hermione touches her hand to Malfoy’s sweat soaked t-shirt, making him flinch. 
“You’ve been having nightmares again.” 

There was a soft knock at the door, but Snape does not wait for an answer before opening the door. “Ms. Granger seems to have left…oh.” He freezes in the door way, finding it hard not to stare. “Should I…Breakfast, will you be staying?” Snape manages to fumble out. 

“Yes. I can help.” Hermione pulls herself out from under Draco’s wool blanket and walks to meet Snape at the door. 

Seeing her adorned fully in her jeans and t-shirt from the night before seems to control Snape’s shocked and frightened glares at Draco.





Hermione swings higher on the swing, trying to beat Draco. A smile grazes his lips as she laughs. 

“It’s not fair, your legs are longer than mine!” Hermione laughs. 

“That’s not my fault.” Draco says, swinging higher. 

“Has Snape thought of anything to do?” Hermione stops pumping her legs and lets herself slow down. 

“He wants to talk about it after dinner. Could you..I mean if you don’t mind.” 

“I’ll be there.” 

“You don’t mind, do you? I know what he is. I know he deserves this, it’s just…” 

“He’s your father. You can’t help it.” 

Draco breathes a sigh of relief and digs his heels into the gravel to stop swinging. 

“If you don’t mind, I’d rather not sit in on the meeting. I’ll stay, but I’d rather sit in your 
room and read or something. I just don’t want to be part of freeing a death eater.” 

“I could talk to him, Hermione. We could help you somehow.” 

“He’s one of Voldemort’s closest followers,” Hermione says. 

Draco flinches at the Dark Lord’s name. 

“If he switches sides, he’ll be dead. So will you.” 

“If I do nothing, he’ll be dead.” Draco sighs. 

“I know.” Hermione sighs. “We’re on opposite sides of this war, Draco. There’s just no getting around it.” 

Draco sighs. “You’ll stay, though?” 

“Yes.” 

“All night?” 

Hermione looks quizzically at Draco. 

“I don’t want to wake up alone after those nightmares.” Draco stares at his fingers. 

“Alright, I’ll stay all night.” 

Draco tries to hold back a smile.





Draco’s door opens quietly and Hermione looks up from her book. Draco manages a small smile and wipes at the sweaty hair on his brow. 

“How did it go?” Hermione asks. 

“We’ve got a plan…” 

“I don’t want to hear it. You’re alright, though?” 

“Yeah, uh, Severus…he wants to talk to you, Hermione.” 

Hermione furrows her brows a little, “Oh.” 

“Should I come?” Draco asks. 

“Just Ms. Granger, Draco.” Snape says from the living room. 

Hermione moves into the living room and sits cautiously next to the grown man. 

“What did you tell Draco about our discussion in your kitchen?” Snape’s eyes pierce holes through her. 

“I didn’t tell him anything.” 

Snape’s eyes narrow. 

“I promise, I didn’t say a word.” Hermione stutters. 

“You said nothing?” Snape’s forehead wrinkles in thought. 

“What happened.” 

“It was just something he said. I thought it was a shot at me, but I must have been 
wrong?” 

“What did Draco say?” 

Snape’s eyebrows rise higher at the sound of the boy’s name on Granger’s lips. “It’s 
not important. You may go.” 

Hermione stands and walks quickly back to Draco’s room. He is lying on his bed, waiting for her to return. 

“What did he want?” he sits up. 

“What did you say to him?” 

“He told you what I said.” 

“No, but I expect you to.” 

“No.” Malfoy’s famous frown appears on his face, if only for a moment. 

“Excuse me?” 

“I don’t have to tell you anything.” 

“Does it concern me?” 

“It might.” 

Hermione slumps into the kitchen chair in the corner of the room. “I thought you had grown up, Draco.” 

“I have.” He argues. 

“No you haven’t. You’re still an arrogant little child. You’re still trying to manipulate people with your power and your knowledge.” 

“I don’t want to tell you and that’s that.” 

“Why won’t you tell me?” 

“You wouldn’t understand.” 

“I’m the smartest witch in our generation and you bloody well know it. What could you possibly be planning that I wouldn’t understand.” 

“No, you won’t understand my motives.” Draco sits up to look at Hermione, fire 
burning in his eyes. 

Hermione’s eyes search the man’s face in front of us. Her features scrunch up with worry and fear. 

“Damn, Granger, why is it every time I do something, you always think it’s something menacing and dangerous.” Draco stands and walks towards Hermione. 

“It’s got to be bad enough you won’t tell me.” 

Draco throws his arms up in defeat, “I’m trying to protect you, alright. Are you happy?” 

“What?” 

Draco rubs his temples. “Snape and I were planning my father’s escape. I know he’s a death eater, but he’s only in it because he has to. I know he doesn’t want to, just like me. I suggested we get a double agent.” 

“Oh,” Hermione says to herself. 

“I love my father and I can’t let him die. But if he’s out, he’ll be helping Voldemort again. I thought that if we had someone watching him, we could find out his plans and relay them to you, so you could stay one step ahead and be safe.” 

Hermione’s brown eyes widen, not looking away from the man towering above her. 

“Potter has to defeat him, I know that. Even I couldn’t survive for long in a world like 
that. You’d be dead in an instant.” Draco sighs. “It doesn’t matter anyway, Snape shot the idea down.” 

Draco turns his face form the brunette as she stares at him, her mouth a little open. 

“You’re trying to protect me?” Hermione whispers. 

Draco grunts and begins turning towards his bed, but Hermione launches herself at him and wraps her arms around his chest in a tight hug. 

Draco holds her shoulders awkwardly. The hug ends and he scratches the back of his head, staring at the ceiling. 

“Are you sleeping on the couch again tonight?” Draco asks. 

“Well,” 

“Cause it’s got to be uncomfortable. You can just sleep in here, if you want I mean. I wouldn’t mind.” 

“Alright, I suppose.” Hermione looks at her feet. “I didn’t think to grab pajamas from 
my house or anything.” 

Without another word, Draco walks to the small closet and the folded stacks of clothes on the floor. He pulls out an old t-shirt and a pair of green pajama pants and 
hands them to Hermione. 

“You can change in the bathroom.” 

When Hermione returns from changing, Draco is already wearing a pair of pajama pants and a red t-shirt. He moves over until his back is against the wall, making room for her. She walks across the cold floor in her bare feet surrounded by pools of green silk. Draco’s pants are too long, but are the same size waits as her. His black t-shirt pulls tightly around her breasts, but hangs loosely around her waist and arms. She climbs slowly under the same wool blanket as Draco. She lies down and looks directly into his grey eyes as they face each other in bed. 

“I’m sorry for trying to keep you safe, if it makes you feel weird or anything.” Draco says quietly. 

“It’s definitely weird,” Hermione whispers, “A good weird.” 

A smile grows on Draco’s pale lips. He flicks his wand and shuts off the light. 

“Good night, Hermione.” 

“Good night, Draco.” 






A/N

I was going to split this into two chapters but I decided I like it long, plus its taken me so long to get things validated anyway, I'd hate to make everyone wait twice as long.

I know it's swaying from the book, but Lucius will play all his major rolls he has in the book, so it's not a huge foul.

Thanks again for all the reads and please keep reviewing I'd love to hear thoughts on this chapter since it's so different from the rest.

Chapter 8: Other Friends
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Draco has nightmares several times in the night. Hermione stirs, hearing his moans and feeling him thrash next to her. She places her warm hand on his cheek, drenched in sweat, and softly speaks to him, telling him everything will be fine.
He wakes up a few times, finding Hermione’s brown eyes staring into his, calming the fear bubbling out of him. The dementors, his father’s death, they were all just a dream.
 

Draco rouses awake when the sunlight shines through the thin sheet of a curtain and lands on his face. The images of azkaban’s dark corridors fade in his mind. He turns over to meet Hermione’s back. He fingers her soft brown curls falling on his pillow in waves. In his memory, they were always rough and frizzy things, but up close, he can make out the delicate twists and loops of her hair. She smells like chai tea and new parchment. She always had. He used to laugh about it. She even smelled like a know-it-all. He breathed in the soft aroma now, bringing himself back to a simpler day when they were still children. 


Draco wraps his arms around Hermione, rustling his face in her soft curls. She moves her back against his chest and wrap her arms around his, intertwining their fingers. 


“Mmm, Draco.” She whispers. 

“Good morning.” He says. 

“Morning,” Hermione’s eyes shoot open. “Harry!” 

“Excuse me?” 

Hermione sits up quickly. “Harry’s visiting today! Shit, I totally forgot. Harry and Ron are coming this morning.” 

Draco leans on one elbow, trying to pull Hermione back down. “So, you’re parents can just tell them…” 

“That I’m sleeping over at my good friend Draco’s house!” 

“Shit!” Draco says, sitting up in his bed. 

“I have to go,” Hermione jumps out of bed and begins collecting her clothing and books from around Draco’s room. 

“Hermione,” Draco swings his legs over the bed and stands up. “Just slow down.” 

“They could be coming any time now.” She throws her sweater over her arm. 

“It’s just past sunrise, they won’t be coming yet. Calm down.” He grabs Hermione 
around the waist and holds her back from collecting her stuff. 


Hermione’s eyes slowly travel up Draco’s chest, covered in a red t-shirt. The sweat from his nightmares has dried. She follows the line of his body up to his neck and chin, where light blonde stubble is beginning to sprout. Her eyes waver on his pale lips before finally rising to his silver eyes. She is suddenly very aware of his hands on her waist, though she was fine with it all last night. “Ron’ll kill you if he finds out.” 

“He won’t find out.” Draco says with a smile. 


Draco’s eyes fall onto Hermione’s plump rosy lips, only for a second, before focusing back on her brown eyes. His grip tightens around her waist and he begins leaning down, tilting his head to face Hermione’s. 

“I really have to go,” Hermione says one last time, stepping out of Draco’s grasp. “I’ll see you later.” With that, she apperates home with the bundle of belongings in her arms. 


Draco is left alone, grasping at the air where Hermione was moments ago. His eyes are half shut and he is leaned down awkwardly to Hermione’s height. He stumbles forward into nothing and swears under her breath. 




Hermione walks to her own bed and drops her clothes on it. She goes to the bathroom to have a shower quickly. She is about to undress and takes hold of the black t-shirt. She is still wearing Draco’s clothes. She looks at herself in the bathroom mirror. Her hair is messed up and flying out in all directions. Her breasts are hardly contained by his t-shirt that hangs down to her mid-thigh, making her look stumpy. 

“God, he must think I’m a train wreck.” She says to herself. She pulls off the clothes neatly and folds them on the counter, rubbing her fingers on the soft green silk. 

“Forget about him,” Hermione says, shaking her head. “I’m just a bookworm to him, just Granger.”




Draco lies on his bed, staring at the ceiling. She said she would come back later. He could wait until later. He didn’t need her there. 

Snape knocks loudly on Draco’s door and waits for an answer this time. 

“Come in.” 

Snape pushes the door open slowly and sees Draco lying on his bed alone, looking at him. “Miss Granger is gone then?” 

Draco sighs loudly and turns back to the ceiling. 

“Did something happen?” Snape asks. 

“No, Potter and Weasley are coming to visit. She forgot until this morning and rushed off.” 

“Ah, the boyfriend is back then?” 

Draco sits up quickly, “What?” 

“Isn’t Miss Granger dating the Weasley?” 

“She is?” Draco’s eyes widen. 

“I don’t know, I always assumed so.” Snape’s eyes meet Draco’s and narrow a little. “Didn’t you ask?” 

“No, I just thought…she didn’t mention anything.” Draco runs his hand through his 
platinum hair, “Damn.” Draco throws on a pair of jeans quickly and heads out the door, still wearing his red t-shirt from the night before. 

Snape leans on the doorframe watching Draco walk down the street, clenching his fists. He sighs, “That boy is way over his head.” He turns back inside and closes the door. 


Draco walks down the street and towards Hermione’s house like he had done for the past week. He stops on the corner and looks down the street. “What am I doing?” He says to himself. “I’m walking in plain daylight down the very muggle street Potter and Weasel will be walking down shortly. Have I lost my mind?” he thinks. 


He turns quickly and walks down a secluded alley way that leads to the back of Hermione’s house. He shuffles quietly between their bushes and their picket fence, casting a camouflaging spell on himself. He sits on the ground behind the tall, bushy junipers and positions himself so he can see the side entrance of her house between the spaces in the fence. 


From there he can also see Hermione’s window. She just entered her room wearing a fluffy bath robe and holding something in her hands. “She can’t be dating the weasel.” he thinks, “She would have told me. She wouldn’t have slept in my bed.” Draco watches Hermione brush out her wet hair. A lump forms in his throat as his thoughts twist. “What if it meant nothing? I was distraught, I was beyond distraught and she was just taking care of me. I asked her to stay - begged her. I’m just Malfoy to her, just a broken version of my former arrogant self. I have to stop thinking about her.” He shakes his head and knows he should get up, that he should leave her be, but at that moment, Hermione stands up. She picks up the thing she had been holding before and walks over to her bed. Draco recognizes his green pajama bottoms as Hermione’s fingers traced over the silk. 


Suddenly, Harry and Ron walk down the path to the side door and knock on the door. Draco sees Hermione’s father let the two boys in. Hermione is still sitting on her bed in her bathrobe. She brings Draco’s clothes to her chest and hugged them tightly before falling back on her bed. There is a knock on her bedroom door and Hermione sits up quickly, shoving the pajamas under her pillow. She answers the door and Harry hugs her tightly. Ron hugs her next. Draco can see Ron’s eyes staring down at Hermione’s housecoat. Hermione pushes the two boys out of her room then closes the curtains. 


Ten minutes later, the trio walks out the side door. Hermione is wearing the pair of shorts she had worn the first time Draco saw her. He watches her walk away with a smile on his face, watching her legs move quickly to keep up with the two boys. Her shorts are simple and khaki, but magnificent. The fabric moves with each step. It rubs against the back of her upper thighs in time with the swaying of her hips and her goergous, round- 

Draco smacks himself. He stands up slowly. He has to follow them. He has to know what’s going on. 


Draco slinks through the bushes and trees, following Hermione’s bouncing brown curls out of town, heading away from Hermione’s circle. They follow the highway then turn off onto a dirt road. Draco slinks behind trees, just close enough to see the group. He follows the dirt road through the trees until the trio stops in front of a lake. Draco finds a comfortable spot in the trees, close enough to hear the conversation. 

“Do you remember last time at this lake, Hermione?” Harry asks. 

“When Ron nearly swallowed a tadpole.” Hermione laughs. 

“We promised not to speak of it.” Ron’s cheeks turn red. 

Harry clapped his hand on Ron’s back. “It’s nice though, I’ve needed time to unwind before the war starts.” 

“Yeah.” Hermione agreed. 

Ron began taking off his shirt. “I’m sorry you haven’t been able to come to the burrow,” Ron said. “You must be terribly bored here.” 

Hermione smiled. “No, it’s been good for me to stay here. I want to spend as much time with mom and dad as I can before they leave.” 

Draco’s brows furrowed at the statement. 

Harry already had his shirt off and was standing on the beach, testing the water. “Are you two coming?” 

“Is it cold?” Hermione asked. 

“No, it’s really nice.” Harry was standing in the water now, turning back to look at Ron and Hermione. 


Draco glared at Ron, whose naked chest was inches from Hermione. She placed her bag down and took off her shirt to reveal a blue bikini top. Draco’s eyes grew hazy with lust as they focused on Hermione’s perfect, modest form. She was well covered by her bathing suit, which only set off Draco’s instincts more. Her stomach was not quite flat, but her muscles were well defined under the flesh ad her legs were strong and sturdy. He watched her slip out of her shorts slowly until he realized Ron was watching her with the same animalistic look in his eyes. 


Draco ground his teeth behind the tree. The weasel was ogling Hermione. She didn’t say a word to him, she just smiled at him patiently as she took sunscreen out from her bag and began rubbing it on her arms. She didn’t even tell Ron to stop. Draco’s face was turning red. 

“Come on, you don’t need that.” Ron said. “Let’s get into the lake.” 

He wanted Hermione to be dripping wet, didn’t he. The blood traitor would love that. 

“You should put some on too, Ronald. You’re going to burn worse than last night’s dinner.” 

“Hermione, Get over here!” Harry yelled from the lake. 

“Boys,” Hermione mumbled to herself, rubbing the sunscreen on her exposed stomach. 

“Right, that’s enough.” Ron grabbed Hermione around the waist and hosted her into the air, dragging her to the lake. 

Hermione dropped her sunscreen, “Ron, stop. Put me down.” She laughed a little. 


Draco’s fists clenched and his face twisted into a sneer. He nearly walked from his hiding place in the woods, but turned instead and stomped back to town. 

“Ron, put me down right now!” Hermione said. 

“Relax, I’m not going to throw you in.” Ron laughed. 

Hermione continued to squirm against Ron’s exposed white chest. “Ronald!” 

“You’d better put her down.” Harry said. 

Ron let go of Hermione who was now standing in a foot and a half of water. 

“What’s your problem, Hermione? I wasn’t going to throw you in.” 

“I just don’t feel comfortable with you grabbing me.” Hermione said, trying to walk away. 

Harry blocked her. “You were fine about it last summer.” 

“That’s different. Things are different now. “ Hermione was beginning to turn red. 

“Who is he?” Harry asked. 

“What?” 

“You wouldn’t get upset unless there was someone. Are you dating him?” 

“No-we, I mean, I” Hermione stuttered. 

“You’re not with Krum again, are you?” Ron said with disgust. 

“No, don’t be ridiculous.” Hermione waved him off. 

“Then who is he?” Ron persisted. 

“He’s no one, I don’t even know if we’re anything. If we’ll ever be…” 

“Is it Neville?” Harry guessed. 

“Of course not,” Hermione stifled a laugh. 

“Well, then who is it?” Ron asked. 

“He’s just a boy in my town. We’re not even together I told you, it’s really nothing.” 
Hermione began to blush again. 

“A muggle!” Ron said, surprised. 

“Can we meet him?” Harry asked. 

“Of course not.” Hermione put her hands on her hips. “I’ve told you, there’s nothing 
even going on.” 

“They why are you blushing?” Ron asked. 

He nudged Hermione and she fell into the water. She sat on the sandy bottom with 
her wet curls sticking to her face. 

“Ronald!” She yelled, splashing water into the red head’s face. 

“Hey,” He laughed, pushing water back at her. 

A water fight breaks out as the three of them laugh and splash in the lake. 





Hermione hugs Harry and Ron as they leave, promising them she will see them in a few short weeks. They wave good bye as they head to a secluded place to disapperate. Hermione closes the door behind them quickly and runs into the kitchen.
She grabs a container of leftovers and throws a few homemade cookies into a bag. It was nearly four o’clock and she had stayed with her friends far later than she expected. Draco probably hadn’t left his room all day and if Snape fed him anything, it probably wasn’t very good. She grabs Draco’s pajamas and says good bye to her mother and runs out the door, stopping only to fix her hair in the hall mirror.
She arrives quickly at Snape’s small house. She stops outside the door to catch her breath and straighten her shirt before knocking loudly. Snape opens the door and his mouth opens a little. 

“Miss Granger, I wasn’t expecting to see you back here.” 

Hermione smiles, “Well, I said I’d be back. Is Draco in his room?” 

Snape pauses for a moment, then turns around. “Draco!” He yells, “You better come out here.” 

Draco opens his door a crack, and his eyes narrow into slits. Snape takes it as a cue to head to his own room for a while. Draco slinks out of his room and covers the ground between himself and Hermione quickly. 

He stops a few paces from her and stuffs his hands in his pockets, “What do you 
want?” 

She takes one step closer to him and hands him the pajamas and the food. “I thought you might not have eaten much.” 

Draco rolls his eyes, but takes the items, “What is this, Granger? Some sort of an apology?” 

“Look, I’m sorry I was so long. Ron was just-“ 

“I’ll bet he was!” Draco shouts. 

Hermione’s hand moves to Draco’s face, touching his swollen red eyes. “You’re 
upset again. Was it more nightmares?” 

Draco swats Hermione’s hand away and growls. 

“I’m sorry, I should have stayed longer. I should have come back sooner.” 

“You should have bloody well told me!” 

Hermione’s eyebrows furrow. “Told you about what?” 

“I’m not one of your little Gryffindor boys you can tease and use then move on to the 
next one.” 

“Draco, what are you talking about?” 

“Don’t call me that, you slut!” Draco yelled. 


Before his mouth even shut and the words registered in his brain, Hermione’s hand collides with his face and she disapperates. Draco is left leaning against the wall, with his pajamas and her food lying around his feet. His hand is clasped to the red welt on his face as he replays the last minutes in his mind again and again.

Chapter 9: Letters
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Hermione; 

I’m sorry about earlier. I’ve been going through some tough things and you were just being nice to me. I know that. I suppose I just panicked when I saw you together at the lake. I didn’t mean the things I said. 

Forgive me? 

Draco 

Draco signs his name at the bottom of the page and heads through the dark, deserted streets to Hermione’s house. He stands on the curb and magically floats the note into her mail box before turning back into the night. 

Not fifteen minutes after he returns home, Hermione’s small grey-brown owl taps lightly on his window. He rushes to the glass and lets the bird in. It drops a small piece of paper for Draco then sits on his window sill, waiting for a reply. 
Draco unfolds the small paper in his shaking hands and reads the five words. 

You were spying on me? 

Draco runs his pale fingers through his platinum hair and throws the note onto his bed. He sits and pulls a blank piece of parchment to him. 

Snape told me you were dating Weasley and I panicked. I just wanted to talk to you. 

Draco stribbles out these lines and throws the paper across the room before grabbing another scrap. 

I wanted to talk to you. I was halfway to your house before I realized how stupid it was for me to do this. I realized that if Potter or Weasley saw me, I’d be dead. I’m a Malfoy 
Draco’s scrawling quill stops as he stares at the last three words. He crumples this paper and throws it towards the first. He falls back on his bed and runs his pale fingers through his hair. Finally he sits up and starts again. 

I did and I was wrong. I was wrong about everything. I’m Malfoy, the son of a Death Eater. You’re the daughter of muggles. I had no right to expect anything. We were naïve to try to be friends. I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused. 
He folded the paper without re-reading it and handed it to Hermione’s owl which flew off quickly.




Hermione was pulled from her book by a tap on the window. She let her owl back in and took the note from Draco out of her beak. She unfolded it and sat on her bed. As she read it, her hands shook. She was upset that she was getting so upset over Draco, which just made the hot tears flow more. She crumpled his note and threw it across the room. 

She left the note on her floor the next morning as she stepped over it. She came home for lunch after an exhausting training session in the forest. When she went to her room to retrieve a book, she left the note on the floor. When she went back to her room after dinner, she stepped on the note. She was still fuming mad. Draco-no, Malfoy-wasn’t worth her time. He hadn’t been before and he wasn’t now. She stormed out of her room, the note still crumpled on the floor.




It is noon and Hermione is too tired to train. She sits on the swings in the park by her house. It was taking all her strength and will power not to think about the blonde. She didn’t have any left to carry her through the day. She sat, thinking about her nights with Draco-Malfoy, he’s Malfoy now- and her parents. She would have to send them away soon. 

Hermione hears footsteps along the street and looks up. Severus Snape is walking causally down the road with an armload of groceries. He notices Hermione and shoots her an evil glare. Hermione snaps. 

“Why the hell are you glaring at me?” She yells. 

Snape slows down a little, then turns towards the playground. “You were supposed to help him! He was beginning to trust you, then you turned your back on him. He hasn’t been able to leave his room since.” Snape shortens the space between them. 

Hermione stands up, “I didn’t turn my back on him, He turned his back on me! He’s the one who ended the friendship!” She is fuming now. 

Snape stops in his tracks. His mouth closes and turns into a narrow slit before he turns on his heel and leaves. 

Hermione goes home for lunch and her father sets a letter next to her plate.

He dropped that off a few minutes ago.” Her father smiles. 

Hermione tears open the envelope, forgetting her sandwich. 

Hermione;
I’m sorry. I’ve over reacted. I miss you. Can we pretend this didn’t happen? Can we start again?
Draco 

Hermione grabs a pen and quickly scribbles on the back of the note, then calls her owl. 

I’m tired of this. What do you want from me? What is all this about? I want the truth. 
Hermione sends Draco’s original note back with hers written on it. 

“Hermione,” Her father says, “Do you think you’re over reacting?” 

Hermione turns and snaps at her father. “He started it.” 

“Hermione, you know your anger can get the better of you. Just try to calm down. Your friend is probably…” 

“He’s not my friend, Dad! He never has been. Do you remember how I told you about Malfoy, who I was always fighting with?” 

“Yes.” Her father walks closer. 

“He’s Malfoy. He’s Draco Malfoy. I was stupid to think he would change. I was stupid to think anything could ever happen with us.” The tears Hermione held back for days finally came out. 

Her dad hugs her and strokes her hair with his hand. “I…I never would have guessed this boy was the same one who had hurt you. I never thought he was like that.” He said quietly, “Maybe that proves something.” 

Hermione looks up at her father who wipes at her tears. She pulls away when he owl lands back on the table with a new note in its beak. 

Two o’clock at the swings



Hermione arrives at the swings, still angry. She finds Draco’s tall form hunched in the seat of a swing, pushing back and forth slowly. He looks up when he hears the sound of her feet against the gravel. 

“Hermione, I’m sorry. I’ve been over reacting all week. First with my father, then-“ 

“What is all this about, Malfoy?” Hermione says. 

Draco shivers at the sound of his last name. “I just over reacted.” 

“About what? I don’t understand any of this. I left and you were sad, but we were fine. I came back hours later and you were screaming at me. You called me a slut, Malfoy! What happened?” 

Draco runs his fingers through his hair, “Will you listen to me and stop yelling?” 

Hermione crosses her arms and rolls her eyes. 

Draco begins. “I was upset over Weasley. I know it’s stupid. But we spent two nights together in my bed and I just…well I guess I didn’t think it meant nothing. You-you should have told me.” Draco stuffs his hands in his pockets, trying his hardest to control his anger. 

“Told you what?” 

“That you were dating Ron.” Draco focuses his narrowed eyes on Hermione. 

“I’m not dating Ron.” Hermione says. 

“You’re not?” Draco’s heart skips a beat and a smile spreads across his face, but it disappears as Hermione’s voice raises. 

“Is that what all of this is about? You’ve been jumping to stupid conclusions for two days, putting me through hell for this? God, you didn’t even think to ask, did you? And what does it matter if I were with Ron or not. Who says it meant anything to me? You didn’t even talk to me, you just blew up.” 

“Hermione, calm down.” 

“No, Malfoy. You haven’t changed a bit. You’re still the stuck up smarmy prat you always were. You don’t care about anyone but yourself!” With that, Hermione turns on her heel and stomps away.




Draco knocks on Hermione’s door around three. He stuffs his hands in his pockets and hardly looks up when Hermione’s father answers the door.
“Is Hermione here?” 

“Oh, Draco.” He steps onto the step and closes the door behind him. “She doesn’t 
want to speak with you right now.” 

“Alright,” Draco turns to leave. 

“Look, I know you two have some rough history between you, but you seem alright to me.” 

Draco looks up at Hermione’s father. 

“I believe you have changed. And you will take care of my Hermione, won’t you?” 

“I…I…” Draco’s face turns scarlet. 

“It’s alright,” Hermione’s father puts his hand on Draco’s shoulder. “I figured it out a while ago. And I’m alright with that, as long as you treat her like she deserves to be treated.” 

“She hates me, Sir.” Draco mumbles, staring at his shoes. 

“Please, call me Gordon. And she doesn’t hate you, she’s just upset. She gets that from her mother. I’ll tell you what you do.” He clasps his hand on Draco’s shoulder and begins walking away from the house. “All you have to do is leave her alone for a bit and give her the night to cool off. Then you need to do something to prove her wrong. Don’t bother apologizing, just prove that you’re not who she thought you were. And tell her the truth. Tell her straight up how you feel and let her do the rest.” 

Fear shines in Draco’s eyes. “But, what if she-“ 

“She’s a smart girl, Draco. She likes you; she just needs a reason to admit it to herself.” 




A/N:I know it's a little rushed sorry. I'm not sure how long the next chapter will take. I'm comign up on a Calculus Midterm. I'll try to come out with something though. 
Please tell me what you think.


Chapter 10: The Clearing
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     Draco knocks on Hermione’s window before the sun rises. He can see her stirring in her bed. He knocks louder. She steps out of bed in blue pajama pants and a pink tanktop. She rubs her eyes as she comes to the window.

     
     “Not you,” She mutters as she opens the window, “What do you want now?”

     
     “Come quick, get dressed. I’ll meet you at the front door.” He says in a panicked voice.

     
     “What is it, Draco?” She asks.

     
     “There’s no time to explain. It’s in your clearing, we have to go now!”

     
     Hermione pulls her curtains closed before shutting the window and rushes to dress. Draco walks to the front door of her house with a smile on his face. Hermione opens the front door and jumps out. Draco goes back to looking worried.

     
     “Draco, what’s happened?”

    
      “There’s no time.” Draco grabs Hermione’s hand in his and begins rushing toward the forest.

     
     They run, puffing and heaving, through the tree line. The sun begins to rise as the two of them burst through the line of magical trees already set up around Hermione’s clearing. Beyond the trees, is a line of oversized magical flowers: gardenias, and pansies, and daisies. The usually hard, rocky ground has been overgrown with bright green, soft grass.

     
     “What happened?” Hermione asks, turning around to look at the clearing.

     
     Draco grabs both of Hermione’s small hands in his shaking ones. “I changed.” He says.

    
      Hermione’s eyes grow wide.

     
     “I know I’m still stupid and childish and angry, and I know I still upset you, Hermione, and I don’t understand what you want. But I’m not doing any of those things out of hatred or prejudice or even boredom anymore. I’m doing them out of confusion and fear.” Draco says, focusing his grey eyes on Hermione’s brown ones.

    
      “Why?” Hermione hardly whispered.

    
      “I’m confused, because I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. And I’m frightened that you won’t feel the same way.” He mumbles. “I’m sorry if-“

     
     His words are cut off when Hermione grabs the back of his neck and pulls him closer. She pushes her lips against his and buries her fingers in his blonde hair. Draco wraps his arms around Hermione’s waist, then pulls away for air.

     
     “What was that for?” He asks, gasping for breath.

     
     “I was worried that after you calmed down from your father’s arrest, you would realize how close you let me get, and you would regret it.” She says, leaning her forehead on his chest.

     
     He pulls her closer with one hand, and strokes her brown locks with the other, “I was worried you were only being close because I was so distraught, and it meant nothing to you.” He says.

    
      Hermione leans up and kisses him again. This time, Draco leans down to her and deepens the kiss. They break apart after a while.

     
     “You feel the way I do, then?” Draco asks.

     
     Hermione nods, laughing. Draco kisses her one more time in the light of the sunrise.

A.N: another chapter! I know it's been a long time and I'm sorry, but my writing contest is done, and my homework is caught up, and my final is next week, but who wants to study anyway? I know it's a short chapter, but I wanted to get something up even if it was small.

 

Chapter 11: Mr. Malfoy
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A/N: I'm sorry it took me so very long to write this chapter. It seems that my computer has overheated and died, thus leaving me far more behind than I would have liked, but I'll try to keep on track from now on. 



Draco got up the next morning, threw on a relatively clean shirt and jeans, and left his room, heading for the front door. 

"Where do you think you're going?" Called Snape from the kitchen. 

"I'm going to see Hermione." Draco said, opening the front door. 

"Not today." 

"What do you mean, not today?" Malfoy asked, storming into the kitchen. 

Snape dropped his fork onto his plate of eggs and met the boy at the doorframe, leaning in and whispering. "Your father is leaving Askaban tonight. You're part of the plan and we need you there." 

Draco smiled, "He's being let out?" 

"We're taking him. We're leaving at noon today, both of us." 

"How long will I be gone?" Draco asked. 

"It depends. I emagine your father will want you with him for some time. But it will be too dangerous for all of us to stay at the Mansion. It shouldn't be more than a week." 

Draco turned and left the kitchen. Snape followed. 

"Where are you going?" 

"I need to go tell Hermione." Draco said without a backward glance. 

"You cannot tell her of our plan, Draco." 

"I won't, but I have to tell her I'm leaving." With that, Draco left and closed the door 
behind him. 

He met Hermione at the old park where they had promised to meet the day before. 
She was sitting in the grass waiting for him and she stood up when he walked closer.
He took her by the shoulders and kissed her before stepping back. “I can’t see you for long, I just had to come for a minute and talk to you.” 

“I have to tell you something too, but you go first.” 

Draco sat on the grass and pulled Hermione down to him. “I’m going to be leaving for a while. I don’t know how long yet, but it shouldn’t be for more than a week.” 

Hermione looked worried, “Where are you going?” 

“I’m going back to the mansion for a while.” Draco said, looking away. 

“Your father?” Hermione asked. 

Draco nodded but said nothing. 

“When are you leaving?” 

“Noon today.” Draco said. 

“Be safe,” Hermione said, leaning over and kissing Draco on the cheek. 

He took this as an opportunity to wrap his arms around her middle and pull her to him. He kissed her for minutes, tasting her slipping lip chap and feeling her hands grasp at his shirt when he sucked on her bottom lip. Eventually, he rolled her off of him and both sat up. 

“You were going to tell me something.” Draco said. 

“It can wait until you’re back.” Hermione tried to smile. 



The corridors were dark and empty as the death eaters steps echoed off the old stone. Draco could see only glimpses of the inner walls of Azkaban through his skull mask. The black robe was long and oversized. His right sleeve was pushed up so he could better grip the broom handle. It was not his Nimbus 3000, but it would do. He walked in the center of the Death Eaters. He stood tall and walked quickly as if he were one of them, though he was not. 

They turned suddenly, following the map that their inside informant had provided them and made their way to the back of the dark hallway where the more dangerous criminals were. Darkened faces stared out at the group as they passed. A few had the audacity to speak to the Death Eaters, but only Draco turned his face toward them. He watched the sickly faces as they passed. He swore he recognized some from parties at the mansion, but could not be sure. He was not sure if he would recognize his own father when they finally came upon him. 

Draco did though. At the end of the hallway, in the very last cell sat his father. His platinum hair was muted by the darkness and the dirt, and he was a little shabbier, but there was no mistaking Lucius Malfoy. When the congregation came to the bars of the cell, Lucius stood, clasped his hands behind his back, and looked around at the group like he were scrutinizing Draco’s potions or papers. 

“There are less than I expected.” Lucius said. 

“We wanted to stay descrete,” the party leader said. “The rest are waiting at the mansion.” 

Lucius nodded. The group stayed quiet. They were waiting for something, but for what, Draco did not know. They had refused to let him in on the plan. Many still saw him as a failure. It was only with Snape’s insistence and the knowledge that Lucius would be more cross were he not there that he was to join the party in the first place. Snape put his hand on Draco’s shoulder now. The six me and Draco stayed quiet until they heard a chime far off in the distance. It was coming from outside. It chimed three times and Draco realized it was the clock on the outside tower of Azkaban, chiming the hours that had passed. 

At that moment, four of the men outside of Mr. Malfoy’s cell drew their wands and shot at the brick outside wall, as Lucius Malfoy stepped back and Snape poured a potion on the metal lock, breaking all bound magic. Then, with a quick unlocking spell. Lucius was free. Of the seven men in total, there were four brooms. Draco mounted his and grabbed hold of his father who mounted quickly and they flew off into the night with Mr. Malfoy’s arms wrapped tightly around his son and his voice in Draco’s ear. 

“It’s good to see you, son.”

Chapter 12: The Malfoy Mansion
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Draco was at odds at the Malfoy Mansion the moment he set foot on the grass. He was home, and his father was safe with him now. But he was dressed as a death eater and surely in danger from the Ministry, as well as the Death Eaters around him who wanted him disposed of.
The adults were downstairs, having a meeting without him, so Draco slunk upstairs to his room. The forest green walls seemed foreign to him now as he lay on his silk sheets and looked up at them. He hadn’t slept on a decent mattress or a fresh set of linens in months, but he couldn’t fall asleep: his mind wouldn’t let him. He kept worrying about Hermione, and worrying about himself without her. She had slept next to him as he worried, keeping him calm. Even when she hadn’t stayed over, he knew that she was only a short walk away. Now, he couldn’t get to her even if he had to. 

He laid there for what felt like hours, focusing on the tall, light green ceiling towering above him. Then, just as he was falling asleep, the door creaked open and his father crept in. The man, now aged well beyond his years, rested on the edge of his son’s bed and placed his hands on his shaking knees. 

Draco placed his hand on his father’s shoulder, feeling it tense under his touch, then slowly relax. 

“Your mother will be home in the morning.” 

Draco smiled, knowing his mother was safe. “How are you holding up?” Draco asked. 

His father sighed, “It’s good to be home.” He turned to see Draco. “It’s good to see you again, even if it’s only for a little while.” 

“Don’t say that,” Draco muttered. 

“Severus spoke to me. He says you’re not ready for the mark, that you still have decisions to make, that you need to tie up loose ends.” 

Draco watched his father’s eyes fall. “You’re disappointed in me.” 

“No.” Lucius tried to smile, but his muscles were too weak now. “We’ll be retreating to a new location soon. The Dark Lord will meet us there shortly after. If you don’t wish to get the mark, Snape and you will need to leave earlier.” 

Draco nearly smiled at the thought of Hermione in his arms soon, then caught a glimpse of his father’s face. 

“I’m disappointed that we couldn’t have more time together. I was hoping we could be a family again, for just a little longer.” 

Draco swallowed and placed his hands on his father’s. “Don’t say that. We’ll be a family again, we always will be.” 

Lucius’ face fell. “If we lose the war and we survive, I’ll be put back in Azkaban. If we win the war, I’ll be one of The Dark Lord’s finest. I may hardly be home.” Lucius sighed. “Besides, you’re a man now, Draco. I’ve noticed the difference in you tonight. You’ll be having your own life and your own family soon enough.” 

“You’ll still be my father.” Draco said, pulling his father into a stiff hug. 

“Get some sleep,” Lucius said to Draco before retiring to bed himself. 


It was some time after the long brunch with his parents, around three o’clock, that Draco began to lose his mind. It wouldn’t stop racing and replaying a thousand scenarios of how Hermione could be hurting right now. He couldn’t even floo her to make sure she was okay, because he would get caught. He kept trying to repeat, “She’ll be alright, she’s a strong, capable woman,” Over and over to himself, but that just made the house elves stare at him.
His mother found him at four, lying face down in the overgrown grass of the back yard. “Are you alright?” 

Draco sat up quickly to face his mother. “I didn’t know anyone was back here.” 

“What’s bothering you, sweetheart?” 

“Nothing.” Draco said coldly. 

“Is it your father? The war?” 

“No.” 

“Why don’t we have some tea and talk.” 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Draco snapped. 

Narcissa withdrew and went back into the house. 

Draco went to turn back to the grass, which is when he noticed Snape leaning in the corner of the chimney, almost out of view. Snape shrugged then walked away. 


It wasn’t long before Draco slunk his way into the vast library. He mentally compared it to the small, stuffed shelves of Hermione’s “Library” at her home, where she knew the plots of every novel, the knowledge of every text book, and the findings of every report. He wondered if his parents had even read all of the books in their library. He made his way through the books to his mother’s chair. He leaned his thin arms on the wings of the chair and waited until his mother looked up from her book. 

“Feeling any better, Draco?” She asked. 

“How did you fall in love with Dad?” 

Narcissa looked up at her son’s far off eyes. “He brought me to a banquet at his father’s house. We danced all night-“ 

“No, mother, how could you fall in love with him.” 

Narcissa pursed her lips. 

Draco looked down with innocence and fear in his eyes. “You knew then that he was a Death Eater. I know your family didn’t disapprove, per say. Still, how did you…” Draco sighed. “How could you cope with the idea of so much death, of sharing such a dark, uncertain future?” 

“This isn’t about your father, this is about you. Isn’t it?” 

Draco sighed again. 

“I loved him, Draco, just like I do now.” 

“That was enough?” He finally came to sit on the coffee table in front of his mother. 

She laughed, “Love isn’t about ignoring the bad parts of a person’s life, Draco. Every one has 
bad parts in their life. Love is about acknowledging those dark places, those shadowed times, and embracing the one you love because of them. I loved him, so I couldn’t leave him when things got hard. I loved him, so I helped him through it, just like he did for me. Just like she’ll do for you, I’m sure. If she really loves you.” Narcissa smiled. 

“What if she doesn’t?” Draco whispered, too quiet to hear. “Mom, what if she doesn’t love me?” 

“You’ll be fine.” 

“What?” Draco’s brow furrowed. “What does that mean?” 

“If she doesn’t love you, then it wasn’t meant to be.” 

Draco ran back to his room and slammed the door. 


It was three days more before Snape and Draco planned to head back. Draco spent his mornings curled up in the library, sleeping in his mother’s presence. He spent the afternoons making small talk and inhaling tobacco smoke from his father and the other death eaters. At night, Draco crept up to the attic of the mansion, where he would wander for hours, feeling the rough wood on his bare feet and breathing in the musty air. It reminded him of the library at Hogwarts, which had always been a favorite place. He used to escape there like he was doing now, hiding himself in books or prodding and teasing Hermione. He breathed in the stale air and pretended he was back at Hogwarts with Hermione. 

The west wing of the attic was full of family heirlooms that were too outdated, too large, or too illegal to keep in the rest of the house and as he traveled more eastward, he reached the newer possessions of his family, including many from his childhood. Draco often spent the night here, among his children’s books, his old drawings, and his fraying clothes. He looked through his own possessions, bringing waves of emotion back to him. And he would look through his parents’ belongings as well, trying to discern how two people, so basically flawed and morals and social beliefs, could be so happy and create such a place of love. 

It was there, searching through his parents’ neglected things that he found it. Hanging on a long, woven silver chain was a locket, just smaller than his palm. It was fairly plain for a Malfoy heirloom, with subtle wisps and stars decorating the otherwise smooth exterior. It was tarnished a little and the clasp stuck when Draco tried to open it. Finally, he did. There inside, just as he had expected, was Hermione. She was smiling and holding Draco in her arms. 

He had spent many long nights with this locket when he was a child. Not entirely like the Mirror of Erised, his mother’s locket had the power to calm and relax the individual. Though rather than showing the looker their most secret desire, it showed the exact opposite of what the looker was afraid of. So, on many nights when Lucius was away on a mission, and Draco feared him dead or worse, Narcissa would hand her son her locket, and Draco would be calmed by the vision of his father slipping in the back door, and already being home. Draco slipped this into his pocket and brought it back with him when Snape and him headed home. 

Chapter 13: Gifts
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Draco’s broom landed just behind Snape’s in the forest near the town. It was the dead of night, but he still couldn’t help splitting off from Snape when they got to the outskirts of town and heading towards Hermione’s. He crept through her back yard and tapped lightly on her open window. When she did not answer, Draco opened her window further and crawled through as quietly as he could.
 

Hermione was nestled under her sheets with the comforter thrown onto the floor because of the heat. Draco leaned down and stroked her curls of hair flowing over her pillow, and her eyes shot open. Hermione’s wand was pointed at Draco’s throat in a second.
 

“I’m back,” Draco coughed out in the dark.
 

“Oh,” Hermione dropped her wand and pulled Draco into a hug. “I’m sorry. But what are you doing here? It’s the middle of the night.”
 

“I just got back. I couldn’t wait to see you.” Draco kissed Hermione, “Can I stay?”
 

Hermione moved over in her bed to make room for Draco. He slid in between the sheets and wrapped his arms around her. Falling asleep with the smell of her hair in his face finally let Draco relax.

 

Draco woke up to Hermione’s father standing over him, clearing his throat.
 

“Sorry, we just…” Draco turned to sit on her bed.
 

“Let her sleep.” Hermione’s father said, grabbing Draco by the arm and hauling himinto the dining room. “Sit.”
 

Draco perches on the edge of the shaky chair. “It’s my fault. I got home very late last night and I just couldn’t wait to see her. I only meant to stay for a while, but we fell asleep accidentally.”
 

“Where are you planning on going with this?”
 

“What do you mean?”
 

“I’m sure Hermione’s told you of our situation. I can’t help wondering what will happen when we are gone and Hermione is in the heat of battle.”
 

“I will hopefully be in the battle as well.”
 

“On what side, though? Hermione has told us of your family’s role in all of this. I can’t say I…” He clears his throat, “approve.”
 

“My heart will always be on her side. Even if I must stay with my family, I will do anything I can to help her.”
 

“And after the war? What will become of you and my daughter then, Draco?”
“I…I don’t know.” Draco lowered his gaze.
 

“I will not let her get hurt by your abandonment. If this is nothing more than a way to pass your time, then…”
 

“I don’t want to abandon her.” Draco pouted. “I love her and I’d do anything to stay with her, only…” Draco looked up from his hands into Hermione’s father’s brown eyes. “You have to understand, the Death Eaters work in families, like the muggle Mafia. The quickest way to get them off the streets after the war would be a sweeping arrest, taking all the members of all the families in custody at once, and then process them after they’re off the streets.”
 

Her father nodded. “That would include you.”
 

Draco nodded. “I’m sorry if I’ve been too straightforward with Hermione, or too reserved. I’m not even sure what’s best anymore.”
 

“I’m sorry for doubting you, Draco. I only want to keep Hermione safe. I just want what’s best for her.”
 

Draco nodded and focused on his fingers. “I wish I could tell you I was sure that was me.”

 

“What’s going to happen after the war?” Hermione asked, her hands in the green grass and her head resting on Draco’s chest.
 

“I don’t know.”
 

Hermione frowned and sat up. “Are you going to ask me to wait for you?”
 

“I don’t know if I should.” Draco mumbled.
 

“My parents are leaving for Australia in two days.” Hermione said, with her hands on her hips. “I’ll be leaving for Charlie’s wedding the day after. I’ll only have a day or two after that to get ready before leaving with Harry and Ron.”
 

Draco said nothing, he only stared at the grass.
 

“Damn it, we’ve got less than a week left together, and you don’t even know what you want yet.”
 

“What am I supposed to say, Hermione? That it would be easier to give up on me? You’ll be safer with Harry and Ron. I’ll be trapped with death eaters throught the war. I won’t even know where you are. I won’t even know if you’re alive. God knows what will happen to me. Besides, Ron would make a better husband than me, anyway.” Draco rolled over on his stomach to avoid Hermione’s glare. “I’ve got nothing to offer you.”
 

Hermione fell back on her heels. “You think about that sort of thing?”
 

“About how useless I am? About how doomed we are?” Draco buried himself in the grass.
 

Hermione leaned over and kissed Draco’s ear. “About being a husband?” She whispered.
 

He looked up at her.
 

“Ron can’t think past lunch, and you’re thinking about marriage. Don’t tell me he would be better.” She kissed him.

 

Hermione’s parents had already left, and Hermione was getting ready to head to the Burrow. Draco cradled her in his arms at the kitchen table, wishing she could stay, knowing she couldn’t.
 

“Listen,” Hermione said, “I’ve been thinking about what you were saying: about not knowing where I was, dead or alive. So, I got you something.”
 

Hermione drops a gold pocket watch on a chain into Draco’s open hand. It is plain on the outside, with a small knob on top to open it with. Inside, there is only one gold hand against the mother of pearl backing. It is resting comfortably at the green scrawling word ‘home’. Around the face, there are other words like ‘safety’, ‘danger’, ‘peril’, ‘mission’, ‘sadness’, ‘battle’, ‘anger’, and ‘contentedness’.
 

“And” Hermione says, “if you really need to find me and you think hard enough about it while holding the watch open, the place I’m at will show up on the back of the cover. There’s also a spell so only those who love me can see the face.” Hermione kissed Draco’s cheek.
 

Draco smiles and pulls at a chain under his shirt. “I was going to wait until you came back from the wedding, but if we’re giving gifts, I’ll give it to you now.” His mother’s locket came out from under his shirt and he pulled the chain off his neck, draping it over Hermione’s hair instead.
 

“What is it?” Hermione asks, opening the locket up.
 

“What do you see?”
 

“Everyone is all together: you, me, mom and dad, Harry, everyone. Does this show the future?”
 

“No,” Draco says, “It shows the opposite of what you’re most afraid of. It’s not perfect, but it always calmed me down as a child. It might help keep your nerves in check. Especially with Harry and Ron.”
 

“Thank you, I love it.” Hermione kissed Draco deeply, only stopping when she heard a knock at the door. “That’s Mr. Weasley in the car. I need to go.”
 

Draco give Hermione one last, deep good bye kiss before handing her her bag and hiding in her room so he wouldn’t be seen.
 

“I’ll be back before you know it, I promise.” Hermione said, heading to the door.
 

“Be safe.” Draco paused before closing Hermione’s bedroom door. “Hermione?”
 

She whirled around to see him one last time.
 

“I love you.” Draco mumbled.
 

Hermione dropped her bag and rushed to him, kissing him one more time as the door bell rang again. “I love you, too.” She said, “I’ve got to go. You be safe too.”
 

With that, Hermione was out the door and pulled by the Weasley twins into the awaiting blue car.

A/N: I'm trying to stick to the basis of the seventh book. but it will be hard since I haven't read it in so long. Hopefully it won't be offendingly wrong.
 


Chapter 14: The Burrow
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The Burrow was especially busy after Harry’s dangerous arrival and the loss of George’s ear. Hermione was placed, as usual, in Ginny’s room on the floor, but even though everything was the same, everything felt different. She was counting down the days until the war would start, but more over, she was counting down the days till the war ended: until she could move on, both her and Draco.
 

“What are you thinking about?” Ginny asked, cutting into Hermione’s day dream.
 

“What do you suppose will happen after?” Hermione sighed.
 

“The three of you will pack. Ron said you had to grab some things from home, then you’ll head out to wherever you think the first horcrux is.”
 

“No,” Hermione rolled over to face her friend, “Not after the wedding, after the war. Do you think the world will really be united? Do you think we’ll really be free, be safe to do what we want?”
 

“That’s what you’re fighting for, isn’t it.”
 

“Yeah,” Hermione turned on her back and looked at the roof. “I guess it’s just nerves. It will be hard leaving someone behind.”
 

“Yeah?” Ginny’s eyes widened, “How so?”
 

“No civilization, little food, running on a whim and a hope to save the world, it will just be hard to leave things.”
 

“No, Hermione, you said someone, not something.” Ginny sat up and grinned, “Who are you talking about?”
 

Hermione turned red.
 

“It isn’t Ron and you, is it? Or is Krum back?”
 

“Now wait a second,”
 

“Oh, it’s Neville isn’t it? I knew it!”
 

“Why does everyone think it’s Neville?”
 

“Well tell me then, who is it?”
 

“He’s no one, just a boy from my town.”
 

“Oh, he’s a muggle-born, or is he a muggle. That would be so cute.”
 

“That isn’t important, Ginny.” Hermione turned redder.
 

“But he must be, the way you’re blushing. Tell me about him. Quietly though, so Ron doesn’t hear.”
 

Hermione gave in and sat up, “He’s blonde and fairly tall. He’s a great kisser.” Hermione laughed, looking at Ginny. “He loves me.” She said quietly.
 

“And you love him too?” Ginny watched as Hermione slowly nodded. “When did it happen?”
 

“This summer, just in the past month.”
 

“You just met him?” Ginny asked.
 

“No, no we’ve known each other for a long time, well we knew of each other. Actually, I used to think he was terrible. But we were sort of forced together by chance and we just,”

Hermione sighed, “We just fell in love, I guess.”
 

“That’s so romantic.” Ginny sighed, laying back down on her bed.
 

“Yeah, I guess.”
 

“Cheer up,” Ginny said. “What’s bothering you?”
 

“I’m just worried I guess. What if something happens to him during the war, or what if we can’t be together afterward?”
 

Ginny smiled, “You’re going to wait for each other?”
 

“I think so, or at least I hope so. We haven’t discussed it, but it’s hard to talk to him some times.” Hermione sighed.
 

“If you’re not talking, what have you been doing?” Ginny whispered.
 

Hermione’s eyes widened, “No,” She giggled, “We haven’t even done that yet!”
 

“Yet?” Ginny slid off her bed and sat cross legged on Hermione’s bed. “What does that mean?”
 

Hermione turned red and sat up to meet Ginny.
 

“Well, are you or aren’t you?” Ginny whispered.
 

“No…”
 

Hermione paused to chew on her lip, looking at her friend who made a motion of zipping her mouth shut in silence.
 

“I was thinking it might be nice as a last farewell, the night before we head off on the mission.”
 

Ginny nodded, “That’s why you didn’t want the two of them coming home with you when you pick up your things.”
 

“Exactly.”
 

“That’s so romantic.”
 
 


Chapter 15: The War Begins
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Draco was ransacking his bedroom as he paced back and forth. He would move from leaning against the window to slouching on his bed over and over, knocking over everything in his path and trying not to look at his enchanted pocket watch every few seconds.


Occasionally, he would give in and flip open the watch to find the single hand –Hermione -still pointed at “danger”. Then, he would growl and go back to pacing.
 

Snape had been traveling back and forth for the Dark Lord, and had been gone for a few days already. Normally Draco would have been happy to be alone. He was ecstatic when Snape said he would be gone, corresponding to the day or two Hermione would be home. He was going to bring her back here, spending time in the room where they first grew together, then perhaps go to their park and finish the night off at Hermione’s now empty house. Only Hermione never came home.
 

He had tried to be calm, patient, and relaxed, but none of these were Draco’s strong suit. It was three days before Draco’s watch finally showed that Hermione was safe. He stalked by her house constantly, but somehow knew she wasn’t coming home. Still, all that mattered was that she was finally safe. He kept telling himself that Hermione was a strong woman, and she could take care of herself. It was harder for him to come to terms with trusting Harry and Ron to take care of her when she couldn’t.
 

As it turned out, Draco’s life was beginning a downward spiral just as Hermione was getting out of peril. When Snape returned from his more recent journey as the Dark Lord’s follower, he brought with him bad news. Voldemort was becoming impatient and neither Snape nor his father could hold him back much longer. It wouldn’t be long before Draco would have to come face to face with the monster himself and become a Death Eater. His only other choice was death.
 

“Draco, kitchen.” Snape said, as his robes billowed around him in post-apparation.
 

“What’s wrong?” Draco snapped back into reality as he stood from the couch.
 

Snape said nothing, but sat at the kitchen table, beckoning Draco to sit next to him. When he did, Snape stared carefully into Draco’s steely eyes for a minute before speaking.
 

“Miss Granger is safe, but she didn’t come home. You’re worried Harry can’t take care of her.”
 

Draco flinched, “Get out of my mind, Snape. I told you not to do that.”
 

“Make me get out.”
 

Draco focused on his occulemency, trying to push Snape out. The harder he pushed, the harder he could feel Snape pushing back. The struggle went on for a few minutes, and Draco was beginning to get exhausted.
 

“I can still feel your love, your fear, and your confusion. I can still hear her name in your head, Draco.”
 

“I’m trying.”
 

“It isn’t good enough. If I can pluck her name from your mind, imagine what the Dark Lord can get? We have one week to make you improve.”
 

Draco was constantly exhausted from all of the blocking and pushing Snape out. Every time Draco slipped up, and let even the smallest thought of Hermione out, Snape would call him on it. Even at night, Snape was listening to his thoughts, trying to break in. Draco woke up two mornings in a row to Snape snickering, commenting on the inappropriateness of Draco’s dreams.
 

Draco was lying on his bed, in his dusty room, trying to take a nap. He was beyond tired, but he was too worried and too busy blocking out Snape to sleep. He had two days to master this, and it wasn’t getting much better. He could block most things of course, memories, specific thoughts, and hopes, but he was having trouble blocking out Hermione herself: the constant and equal love and fear he felt for her and for their future. It was an impossible task. There’s no way the dark lord wouldn’t know. He was doomed, him and Hermione both. As soon as the Lord found out who those feelings were for, he would go after her and destroy her. He couldn’t-
 

“Wait a second,” Draco jumped up from his bed and went to find Snape. “We’ve been doing this all wrong.”
 

“What are you going on about?”
 

“You and I both know I can’t block out all my feelings, I’m just not that good.”
 

“You have to, Draco. Your life depends on it.”
 

But I don’t have to, don’t you see?”
 

Snape’s eyebrows furrowed.
 

“Try it, just try it.”
 

Snape broke into Draco’s mind, but Draco locked everything, everything important up tight. However, he left out his love, and his want for a future together, and his fear of ruining that future for Snape to find. Although Snape tried, he couldn’t get anything more out, but he was still frowning.
 

“You need to block it all out, Draco, I still know that-“
 

“You don’t know anything, Severus, not really.” Draco laughed. “You know I’m in love, Iwant to protect her, and I’m afraid of what will happen to her if I die doing the Lord’s bidding. Anything else?”
 

“No, but…”
 

“The Dark Lord isn’t going to care if I’m in love. Death Eaters get married all the time, and have kids. If anything, he wants it to happen. That’s how he gets more followers. And if I’m in love, there’s nothing surprising about worrying about her. But you still don’t know who she is, where she is, what’s happened between us, or that she’s on the other side. Do

you?”
 

“No.”
 

Draco laughed.
 

“Can you keep this up? You’ll need to be on constant guard of your thoughts Draco, for days at a time, and from everyone, not just the Dark Lord.”
 

“I suppose we’ll just have to see.”

 

The cabin was cramped a stuffy. Draco thought it amazing that with all of their magic and superior power, no one had figured out how to get some clean air into the space. There were at least twenty death eaters crowded around the already magically expanded hut, sipping on glasses of ale or butter beer, and chatting about upcoming plans. The hours were dull as the company waited for the arrival of their Dark Lord. Lucius sat next to Draco, saying nothing, but keeping a protective hand on his only son’s shoulder. Tonight was the night that Draco would either be chosen to receive the dark mark, or would die in the process.
 

Draco knew there was nothing his father would be able to do if the Dark Lord decided to kill him, and so he said nothing to the man either. Instead, he kept reinforcing the hold he had on his own mind, and his own actions. Projecting the air of an arrogant, angry young man he had been before, as if he hadn’t changed over the summer. He was still arrogant, mind you. He still believed he was the best, and he was still angry. Only, his goals, dreams, and the cause for his anger had changed. Never the less, he pushed past this and pretended nothing had changed, putting on his best stone face, and grimacing smile. All the while he repeated in his head what Hermione had once told him.
 

I don’t care if you’re a Death Eater or a Malfoy, so long as your heart is on my side. I’d rather you take the dark mark if they force you, than die.
 

He repeated this over and over, while making sure he kept it locked tightly to himself. He tried not to think that he might die anyway.
 
 


Chapter 16: Grimuald Place
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Hermione stood alone, staring up at the tapestry of the black family history, when Harry found her.


“You alright?” He asked.
 

She looked over her shoulder at him, then turned back to the tapestry. “Of course I am,” She said. But her reddened eyes told another story.
 

Harry moved to stand next to her, and noticed her fingers grasped around a locket hanging from her neck.
 

“You found it?” He asked, excitedly.
 

“What, no.” Hermione said, dropping the locket quickly, so it hang around her neck on its chain. “It isn’t Regulus’”
 

“Oh, I’ve just never seen it before.” Harry tried to hide the sorrow in his voice.
 

“I got it this summer. It was a present.”
 

“From your parents?”
 

“No.” Hermione stood next to Harry silently for quite some time, then, “How could you leave Ginny?”
 

Harry tensed, anger rising to his face. He groweled, and turned to leave, but Harmione grabbed his arm.
 

“I didn’t mean it like that, Harry. I knew you had to. Only, how do you manage?”
 

Harry turned to meet Hermione’s eyes and saw tears welling in them. Her fingers had risen again to stroke the metal locket.
 

“The boy in your town?” Harry said, taking a guess.
 

Hermione smiled and sobbed a little at the same time.
 

“Do you want to talk about it?”
 

“I don’t know if I should tell you.” Hermione whispered, “We decided it would be safest for both of us if we kept it quiet, until after the war.”
 

Harry nodded. That’s why he left Ginny. “He’s a wizard then?”
 

Hermione nodded. She started to cry, turning away from Harry.
 

Harry grasped her arm and pulled her into a hug, patting her bushy hair down as she sobbed.
 

“Harry, have you seen-“ Ron stopped talking as he strode into the room, seeing Hermione wrapped in Harry’s arms. “Sorry,” He said, as Harry looked up. Hermione was too distressed to notice Ron.

 





Ron spent the rest of the day hidden away in his room. He didn’t come down for lunch or dinner. Hermione was worried about him, but Harry told her that he would handle it. Harry thought of going to speak with him several times. He would make it to Ron’s door and nearly knock, then he would change his mind. He was sure he knew the problem and knew he should talk to Ron, before he got the wrong idea, but he had been on the wrong end of Ron’s bad moods enough times not to rush into it. So, Harry decided he would explain himself when Ron felt like talking.
 

Harry had nearly given up confronting Ron for the day. It was late, and Hermione had already gone to bed, tired of Harry’s questions about why she couldn’t even trust him to know who this secret boyfriend was. Harry was about to call it a night and go to bed too, when Ron came down the stairs. He stood with his back to the fire place, and his hands stuffed into his pockets, facing Harry who had just gotten out of his arm chair.
 

“So, you and Hermione, huh?” Ron said quietly, looking up.
 

“No, Ron, she was just sad, that was all. So, I-”
 

“It’s okay, Harry. I’m not mad. I mean, I was before. But I figure if she’s got to be with someone who isn’t me, I’m glad it’s you. At least I know you’ll take care of her. I don’t know what I’d do if it were some strange bloke none of us knew, you know? Least I can trust you with her, eh?”
 

Ron let out a small, forced laugh. Harry’s mouth hung open, before he clamped it shut quickly.
 

“I shouldn’t really be surprised, I guess. You’ve always upset her less than I have. I’m always upsetting her. I guess I just didn’t want to imagine it, you know. But I’m alright now. Sorry I’ve been brooding all day, mate.”
 

“Its fine, Ron.”
 

“It wasn’t even Hermione, not really. I mean when I get down to it, I know she’ll probably be happier with you than me, no matter how much I didn’t want to admit it at first. What I really got hung up on was Ginny.”
 

Harry gulped.
 

“But the more I thought about it, the more I saw you didn’t do anything wrong. I mean you broke it off before starting anything with Hermione, and you were real nice about the split, too. You didn’t even mention someone else. And Ginny, she’s a tough girl. She’ll be fine. She’ll find someone else in no time, right?”
 

Harry’s eyes widened at these words and his throat went dry.
 

“You will take care of Hermione, won’t you? You’ll keep her happy, and give her everything she needs?”
 

“Course.” Harry croaked out, after a pause.
 

Ron smiled stiffly, then turned and went back up the stairs.
 
 

 


Chapter 17: Draco
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“You told him what?” Hermione nearly shouted.
 

“I didn’t tell him, he came up with it on his own.” Harry said.
 

“But you didn’t argue, you didn’t correct him?” Hermione crossed her arms.
 

“I tried, Hermione, only he-well, it was complicated.” Harry shrugged.
 

“Oh, never mind. I’ll do it myself.” Hermione turned on her heel and walked out of the tent.
 

The three had been camping for quite a time now, hiding from the ministry and the death eaters, and trying to think of places a horcrux could be found. Ron had been acting funny since they had left, but until the week before, Hermione had put it off to nerves or missing his family. He gave Hermione and Harry a wide girth. Then, he started talking about Harry. He was upset, Hermione thought, and a little disappointed. She was too, to be honest. Only, any time they spoke of this, whenever Ron muttered something not too nice about their friend, Ron would apologize profusely, saying he was just hungry, or it was the locket around his neck. Hermione wasn’t buying it, and that’s when she went to confront Harry about it.
 

Harry had tried a few times to explain things to Ron, but he always felt that Ron was happier thinking Hermione was with Harry, than he would be knowing Hermione was with some strange boy. He had always been like that about Hermione though. He would have been much happier to see her with Neville rather than Krum as well.
 

“Ron, we need to talk.” Hermione said, standing next to where Ron was lying in the sun.
 

“Sure, what is it?”
 

“I need to tell you the truth about Harry and I.”
 

Ron looked up nervously, “It’s alright, Hermione. Harry and I already talked about it. I’m fine with the two of you.”
 

“But Ron, it’s…”
 

“Really, Hermione, I want you to be happy and safe. I know Harry will take care of you. I trust him more than anyone.”
 

“Harry – you trust him to take care of me? What if you didn’t trust him, Ron?” Hermione asked slowly.
 

“I don’t know.”
 

“But you said you trust him, Ron. Is that important?”
 

“I care about you. I can’t let you be with someone who wouldn’t take care of you. But that’s not important, cause it’s Harry. Really, Hermione, I am happy for you two. I’m fine with it.”
 

“Well, that a relief.” Hermione mumbled, walking back into the tent.
 

“I told you it’s tricky.” Harry mumbled to her.

 

 





Hermione tried not to think about Ron’s answer as she took watch outside of the tent. It was just getting dark. Harry was already asleep when Hermione went outside, and Ron should be asleep but now. He had come out about half an hour ago, asking if Hermione wanted company, but she shooed him back inside, telling him to get some sleep before he took over the next shift.
 

She tried to keep her eyes trained on the surroundings, but she kept getting lost in thought. That was, until something caught her eye. It was something nearly white. Barely visible, deep in the trees, something was circling around, in an unpredictable pattern. A barn owl, Hermione thought first. It was about the right colour. Only, this thing was very low, perhaps only six feet in the air, and it wasn’t moving fast enough to be a flying bird. As the thing moved closer and closer, Hermione made out the silhouette of a man. He was wandering around the forest in circles, looking for something: them. Hermione pulled her wand from her pocket, training it on the figure as he got closer and closer. Hermione instinctively crouched near the tent, even though the man could not see either her or the tent. She waited for the man to leave, hoping he was only a lot muggle, or a wizard looking for something apart from them. Her heart began to race faster and faster as he approached the tent, still lost.
 

Quickly, Hermione grabbed Harry’s invisibility cloak and threw it over herself before she walked outside of her own protection charms. Her wand was still trained on the man as she approached him.
 

Draco was holding his pocket watch out in front of him, reading and re-reading the directions written on the back of the cover. Hermione got close enough to peep over his arms, seeing that it was definitely his watch, and she watched in delight as the hand went spinning from “mission” to “home.”
 

“Draco?” Hermione whispered, slowly pulling the invisibility cloak off of her.
 

Draco’s wand was up in a heartbeat, as he held in a breath. He lowered it as soon as he saw Hermione, but he could hardly believe his eyes. He grabbed her quickly, pulling her into a rough kiss.
 

Hermione grabbed his arm and yanked him further into the woods, trying to get as far from the hidden tent, and Ron and Harry as she could.
 

“You’re actually here,” She said. Placing a hand over her racing heart once she was far enough away.
 

Draco leaned in for another kiss. “I’ve been meaning to get to you for a while, but the dark lord was so close. I had to let you know…”
 

“The –you’re with Vol-?”
 

Draco cut off Hermione’s sentence by covering her mouth. “Don’t say it. That’s what I came to tell you.”
 

“What?”
 

“They’ve cursed the name. They’re tracking people that way, anyone who resists him enough to say it. I know they found you once before that way. I needed to warn you before…” His mouth shook with words he couldn’t say.
 

Hermione covered it quickly with her own lips.
 

“But, you’re with him?” Hermione mumbled, once Draco had dropped his hand.
 

“I took it.” Draco’s gaze dropped to the ground.
 

Hermione lifted his chin slowly, then leant up onto her tiptoes to kiss him gently. “You also took the risk to come see me. That’s what matters.”
 

“I love you,” Draco nearly laughed. “I couldn’t stop thinking about you. I blocked it out though, don’t worry. I’ve been well trained in occlumency. We’re safe.” Draco whispered, kissing Hermione again. “I missed you.”
 

“I missed you too.” Hermione kissed him gently, feeling now thick stubble on his chin tickle her. “Are you growing a beard?”
 

“I was thinking about it. Do you want me to?” Draco smiled, for the first real time in weeks.
 

“It tickles.” Hermione smiled, then looked down. “Can I see it?”
 

Draco rolled up the sleeve of his sweater slowly, showing the still swollen skin, emblazoned with the black mark. He winced when Hermione’s fingers grazed over the skin. She raised his wrist slowly, and kissed the hurtful thing.
 

“I love you,” She mumbled. “I’ll always love you.”
 

She looked back to his grey eye, and he wrapped his arms around her swiftly, holding her close as if he never had to leave.
 

Twigs cracked under running footsteps. “Oi, let her go!” Ron shouted, feet from Draco and Hermione, his wand pointed at the man.
 

“Get behind me.” Draco shoved Hermione behind his body, raising his wand in defence.
 

“Ron, no!”
 

“What’s going on?” Harry asked, running behind Ron.
 

“Let her go, I swear I’ll kill you!”
 

“Don’t be stupid, Weasley. If you miss, you might kill her.”
 

“What’s going on?” Harry shouted again.
 

“Harry, please. It’s not what you think.”
 

“Let her go, Malfoy!” Ron bellowed.
 

Harry had now pointed his wand at Draco as well. “Do what he says, Malfoy. No one needs to get hurt here.”
 

“Harry, Ron, put down your wands, please.” Hermione begged, still trying to get around

Draco, but he would not allow it.
 

“We’ve outnumbered you. You won’t make it out alive, Malfoy.” Ron threated.
 

“Draco, please.” Hermione begged.
 

Draco continued to block her from Ron and Harry, so she had nothing left but to grasp at his waist and beg.”
 

“Draco?” Harry mumbled, “Hermione, what’s going on?”
 

“Harry, don’t hurt him. He’s trying to help us.”
 

“Help, Hermione, are you daft? He’s a ruddy death eater. I can see the mark from here.”
 

Hermione yanked down Draco’s sweater sleeve, covering the mark once again.
 

“Hermione?”
 

“Harry, I’m begging you, put down your wand.” Hermione said, nearly sobbing. She was now gripping Draco’s hand.
 

“Hermione, what’s your middle name?” Harry asked.
 

“I’m not under the god damned imperius, Harry. Just stop this!” She was crying now.
 

Slowly, Harry lowered his wand. Draco’s eyes widened, and he now turned to focus on Ron.
 

“Are you nuts?” Ron yelled.
 

“Ron, put down your wand.” Harry said.
 

“I will not, he’s trying to kidnap her. If we let him, he’ll…”
 

“Ron, I don’t think it’s like that.”
 

“Ron, please. Put it down.” Hermione sobbed.
 

“I think she’s with him.” Harry muttered.
 

“I can see that, Harry, and if we don’t stop him-.”
 

“No, Ron.” Harry said. “She’s with him. They’re together, you know.”
 

Ron’s eyes widened as he finally noticed it. He nearly dropped his wand.
 

“Hermione?” Ron’s voice cracked.
 

“Put you wand down, Ron. Don’t hurt him.” Hermione said.
 

“Hermione?” Ron said louder.
 

“Don’t hurt him, Ron. I love him.”
 

As the last word was leaving Hermione’s lips, there was a loud pop and Ron vanished, scowl and all, into thin air.
 

The forest fell silent, apart from Hermione’s sobs as she nearly fell to the ground before Draco caught her.
 
 

A/N:Thanks to everyone for continuing to read. I think I'm getting close to the end, though I use that term lightly. I think I finally need a banner for this story. I'd appreciate any help, if there is a faithful reader, more technically inclined than me out there.
 


Chapter 18: In the mean time
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Harry didn’t talk to Hermione for days. He felt pangs of guilt in his stomach each night, as he listened to her cry alone in her bunk. He knew it was partly his fault, and he was only making it worse with his silence, but he just couldn’t forget the anger he felt because of her.
He had forced Draco to leave at wand point. Hermione was still crying in his arms, but Harry couldn’t help himself. He was waiting for Draco’s typical sneer to appear when Hermione wasn’t looking, only it never came. Instead, Draco whispered something to Hermione, kissed

her quickly, then threatened that if Harry didn’t do everything in his power to protect Hermione, no magic in the world would be capable of holding Draco back. Then he did what Harry asked, despite Hermione’s pleas, and he disapperated.
 

Hermione hadn’t really stopped crying since. Even if Harry had felt remorse about upsetting her, which he wasn’t sure he did, he didn’t know where to start comforting her. The only time the tears truly did stop was when Hermione and Harry were arguing.
 

“You had better start from the start,” Harry said one day.
 

Hermione looked up from her copy of Beadle and Bard.
 

“If you expect me to ever understand or accept you and Malfoy, you had better explain the whole thing and start from the start.”
 

“I love him, Harry.” Hermione mumbled.
 

“But how? What happened between you two?”
 

“He was staying in my town, him and Snape. I told you that. I guess he was more afraid of the muggles than he was of me, cause he kept tagging along. He agreed to help me train, and practice spells with me so I didn’t turn him in.”
 

“And you became friends?”
 

“No, not exactly. We became associates, really. Study partners. Then his father was sent to prison, remember. He was supposed to get the dementor’s kiss.”
 

“Yeah, until he escaped.”
 

“Well, anyway, Draco and Snape didn’t get the Daily Prophet, so I had to be the one to tell Draco the bad news and he sort of…”
 

“He helped his father escape?” Harry said sardonically.
 

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “He had a breakdown. His father was about to die, after all, and he couldn’t even go see him because he was in hiding himself. I stuck around to make sure he felt better. Snape certainly wasn’t much help in that matter. After that, we just fell for each other.”
 

“Oh.” Harry said.
 

“He has changed, Harry. He told us about the curse on You-Know-Who’s name.”
 

Harry sighed. “That seems a little odd to me too, Hermione.”
 

“What, why?”
 

“Why should Draco Malfoy want to help me win the war? He’s never been a selfless person, not even close. Now I’m supposed to believe in a few months he’s risking his life for me?”
 

“I don’t think that’s it at all, Harry. Draco hasn’t become selfless at all. He’s doing all this for himself. He’s just changed his ideas of what he wants?”
 

“And what does he want?”
 

“He wants to be free. He knows that You-Know-Who will make him follow orders, and do his bidding even if he disagrees, just like he’s done to Draco’s father. That’s not freedom. But if you win, you’ll probably sweep him under the rug and forget about him. He’d have his own life. Besides, there’s me, Harry. I don’t think he came to tell you, to help you. He came to see me and warn me and keep me safe. Which is just another thing for himself. He wants to be with me, but he can’t do that if I’m dead.”
 

“This doesn’t bother you? That he’s still so selfish.”
 

“I think all of us are doing things for ourselves, especially in such hard times. After all, I don’t love him for his sake. I love Draco because I’m happy when I’m with him, and I want to be happy.”
 

“But he isn’t right for you, Hermione?”
 

“And who is? Ron?”
 

“Maybe.”
 

“Ron is more selfish than Draco. He’s childish and vain and he has a terrible temper. Draco may not have been kind to me or anyone else at Hogwarts, but he hardly ever lost his temper. Even with Ron being my friend, I still feared what he would say to me more than what Draco would. Draco is static and constant, Ron is unpredictable, and it’s never in a nice way.”
 

“But he’s Ron.”
 

“He’s a good friend when he’s in the mood to be a good friend. And sure, it would be accepted, even expected for me to end up with him, but I can’t let myself fall for him again. He’s too emotionally unpredictable and it just upsets me too much.”
 

“How do you know Malfoy isn’t just playing you? How can you trust him more than Ron? Ron’s been our friend for years.”
 

“Ron abandoned me as soon as he wasn’t happy, Draco was forced to leave at wand point.”
 

“So, that’s it for your friends, then, Hermione. You’re going to trust Malfoy over us?”
 

“I trust Ron to be Ron, and over react. I trust you to be you, and worry about everyone, even if there’s nothing to worry about. I trust Draco to be Draco and force the world to give him what he wants. I don’t understand why I can’t trust and love all of you in your own ways.”
 
 


Chapter 19: Ron's Acceptance
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Ron was moping around Bill’s house, trying to keep his mind away from Hermione and his slouching silhouette away from Fleur, who was pregnant, and had a mood to match. He was hiding out in Bill’s study, flipping through an old Daily Prophet when Bill came galumphing into the room, grabbed Ron by the elbow, and apparating immediately.
 

“Hey, what’s going on?” Ron jerked his arm away.
 

“We’ve captured an intruder, I need your help.” Bill lead Ron through the twisting corridors of the building they were now in. “Fred and George are holding him down here.”
 

“Fred sand George, but they don’t know I’m back. They’ll…”
 

“Be even more upset if you’re a defector and you’re not helping us.” Bill growled, grabbing ahold of Ron’s arm again.
 

“What can I possibly help you with? You’re all better at charms than me.” Ron groaned.
 

“We need you to prove if he’s the real person or not. You were in his grade, so you’d know best.”
 

“Who is it?”
 

“Draco Malfoy.” Bill said, while swinging open a door.
 

Inside, Fred was holding a tied up Malfoy by his ropes, as George pointed a wand in his face. All three were yelling. At the sight of Bill and Ron, all three stopped yelling. Malfoy seemed to get angrier, but also looked sicker, with a green hue rising up his face.
 

“Any progress?” Bill asked, turning one of the chairs right side up and sitting down near the twins and Draco.
 

“It’s been an hour, and there’s no change, so it’s not polyjuice.” George said.
 

“There’s little Ronnie-kins. There was a rumour you abandoned the golden trio.” Fred said, “Anyway, we can’t think of any way to prove if he’s really Malfoy or not.”
 

All three brothers now turned to Ron, “Can you think of anything only he would know?”
 

“Oh I can think of a few things, alright.” Ron muttered.
 

Fred secured Draco onto a chair and Ron pulled up one near him.
 

“What the hell do you think you were doing with her?” Ron said in a hushed voice.
 

“I imagine I was doing exactly what you never did do.” Draco smirked, despite his swelling lip.
 

Ron lunged before either twins, or Bill could understand what was going on, never mind stop him. Ron grabbed Draco around the throat.
 

“I don’t know what your motives are, Malfoy, but I don’t like them one bit. And you’ll pay for whatever you did to make her think that…that-“
 

“You’re upset she chose me.” Draco said, with diminishing air.
 

“What are you doing here?” Ron yelled. “Off to kill Harry while she still believes you, huh?”
Draco coughed.
 

“Well, spit it out already!”
 

“Ron,” Bill laid a hand on his brother’s extended arm. “I don’t think he can talk with you choking him like that.”
 

Ron released Draco’s throat. “Why are you here?”
 

“I-“ Draco coughed, “I’m going to fix your mistakes. You and Harry both, I imagine.”
 

“What are you talking about?”
 

“She’s upset, she’s beyond upset and it’s your fault. It’s distracting her and putting her in danger. If she can’t clear her mind and fast, she’s going to get killed.”
 

“And how is that my fault?”
 

“You abandoned her!”
 

“Well, I don’t see you there right now?”
 

“That’s because the golden boy forced me away with his wand, despite her crying and pleading. He’s no better than you. Neither of you care what happens to her!”
 

“I love her, for fuck sake!” Ron yelled, whipping out his wand and pointing it at Malfoy.
 

Draco sighed. “Then let her do what she wants. Let her make her own decisions. Let her be happy.”
 

“She was happy with me.” Ron sneered, “Before you came along.”
 

“She was never with you.” Draco retorted.
 

Ron opened his mouth, then closed it again.
 

“Someone want to tell us what’s going on?” George asked from behind Ron.
 

“He’s the real Malfoy.” Ron muttered.
 

“Good, then we can dispose of him.” Fred laughed.
 

“Wait,” Ron said, “It’s complicated. Just let me talk to him for a few more minutes.”
 

“But, what’s been going on?” Bill asked.
 

“How do you know she’s upset if you were forced to leave?”
 

Draco looked around the room at the four men scowling at him, then swallowed. “They’ve confiscated it already. It’s my pocket watch.”
 

“What?” Ron asked, turning to his brothers.
 

“We took everything from him that was enchanted. They’re over here.”
 

Fred lead Ron over to a table, upon which was Draco’s wand, a muggle pocket watch, and a large silver ring of a winding serpent, with a hefty sized diamond in its mouth. Ron picked up the pocket watch and turned it over in his hand. It seemed ordinary enough on the outside.
“We’ve tried to break the spells on it, but whoever did this magic was too strong, I’m betting it wasn’t Draco.” George says.
 

Fred takes the watch and flips it open. “See, brother, there’s some weird scratch marks here, on the cover, but we can’t make it out, and apart from the hands being a little odd, it looks normal.”
 

Ron takes the pocket watch back and looks at the face. Draco watches him with quiet patience. Ron rubs the face with his thumb. His brows are furrowed. “Is this what I think it is?”
 

“It was a parting gift.” Draco says.
 

“What are you talking about, Ron?” George asks.
 

“Here. What do you see?” Ron passes the watch to Bill.
 

Bill turns it over and over, rubs the front like Ron did, then repeats the action a little harder.“It’s like Fred said, it’s just a watch.”
 

“What kind of magic is this, Malfoy?” Ron asks.
 

“You can see it?” Malfoy asked.
 

Ron nodded.
 

“I owe you an apology I guess. I suppose you really do love her.”
 

Ron’s mouth gaped open then closed several times before he turned to his brothers, telling them to leave. When Draco and him were finally alone, Ron turned on him.
 

“What the hell are you talking about? Where did you get this?”
 

“Hermione gave it to me.” Draco shrugged, “She did the incantations on it. Only people who truly love her can see what the watch is really for. The magic is so strong that even your brothers can’t see.”
 

“You love her? Prove it.” Ron tossed him the watch, “What does it say?”
 

“Don’t be ridiculous, Weasley. This was made for me. Of course I can read it.”
 

“Then what does it say?” Ron pushed.
 

“It says she’s in peril, just like it’s been saying for three days, why do you think I was on my way to find her?”
 

“What do you mean?”
 

“Do I have to spell it out to you? Your actions and undoubtedly Potter’s as well have upset her. Since the moment I left, the hand has been at ‘distressed’. Three days ago, it changed to ‘peril’, undoubtedly because she can’t properly protect herself when she’s upset. Hermione can do anything she puts her mind to, but if she can’t put her mind to it, she’s helpless.”
 

“So, you’re going to swoop in there and save the day by cheering her up? Is that what you think?”
 

“Yes.” Draco smirked, though he was still tied to a chair.
 

“You’ll never make her happy.”
 

“I’ve already made her a great deal happier than you ever could.”
 

“Shut up, Malfoy.” Ron grabbed him by his collar. “I don’t care what you say, or what Hermione thinks. You’re nothing but a slimy, lying worm. One day she’ll realize the truth about you, that all of this is just some elaborate hoax.”
 

“You really can’t deal with it, can you, Weasley? That me might want something that you can’t, no, won’t offer her. It’s killing you inside that I’ve got what she wants.”
 

“And what’s that?”
 

“A future.”
 

“You haven’t got a damned future. You’re a Death Eater. Your whole damn family is full of Death Eaters. You’ve got no hope when the war’s over.”
 

“You’re right. I’ve got basically no chance. But I’m still fighting with everything I’ve got to spend my life with her. You’ll have the world on a platter after this, and you still wouldn’t even ask her out, never mind commit yourself.”
 

“You don’t have a clue what Hermione wants!”
 

“She wants stability. She wants someone she can trust and believe in. She wants to know that when it’s all over and the dust is settled, life will still go on. She wants a promise!”
 

“Oh, and how are you going to do all that, Malfoy? Tell her you like her most of all your other slutty girls? Say she’s the prettiest mud-blood you’ve ever seen? Promise to be a good boy in Azkaban so she can come visit?”
 

“I’m going to propose.”
 

Draco’s steely eyes were fixed on Ron’s watery blue ones. Ron’s mouth was off of its hinges.
“I don’t give a fuck what you or scar head think or do. And I’m not lying. The rings on the table.”
 

Ron picked up the large snake ring sitting on the table and turned it in his hands.
“Listen, Weasley, I get that you hate me. You’ve got every right if you really do love her. You should have seen the hissy fit I had in the summer when I thought she was with you. Us bickering isn’t going to help Hermione, so why don’t you untie me and we can both go find them.”
 

Ron slowly let Malfoy’s ropes fall loose, then handed him the ring. Malfoy held it carefully in his fingers. He grabbed his wand off the table and tapped the ring. Suddenly it shrank into a simple gold band with one large square diamond centered on it.
 

“I got it a while ago, just after she left.” Draco chuckled, “I figured she’d want something simple, and new. She wouldn’t like wearing something passed down from my family.”
 

Ron finicked with his jumper as he stared at the floor. “You’re right.”
 

Draco looked up from the ring, confused.
 

“You’re right. I’d never give her what you can. I’m terrified of commitment, of really being with her. No matter how much I love her.”
 

Silence grew between them, until it was broken by a knock at the door.
 

“Oi, Ron, can we come back in?”
 

Ron looked over at Draco, who was sliding the transformed again ring onto his finger. Draco clicked open the watch and showed Ron the inside cover.
 

“That’s where they are.”
 

“Hold on,” Ron said.
 

He grabbed Draco’s arm and disapperared, just as George was opening the door.

 




Ron was lying on the forest floor, soaking wet and shivering. Harry was still recovering from his plunge into the pond. His heart was still racing from the action of the horcrux Ron had just killed.
 

“You’re really back. I can hardly believe it.” Harry muttered after a few more breaths.
 

“Neither can I.” Ron stood up slowly.
 

“Come on, we have to go tell Hermione. She’s been terrible for weeks. I didn’t know what to do.”
 

Uh, maybe we shouldn’t just yet.” Ron said, scratching the back of his neck. “I came here with Malfoy-Uh, Draco. That’s how we found the place. He went to talk to Hermione.”
 

“What?” Harry yelled. “We have to go back there now!”
 

“Listen, I know you’ll never believe this coming from me, but I think we can trust him. He’s serious about Hermione.”
 

“What do you mean he’s serious?”
 

“He’s, uh, he’s gone to propose right now.”
 

“What!”
 
 


Chapter 20: The Proposal
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Hermione was not fast asleep, but only deeply asleep enough that she would wake up the instant she heard something. She hadn’t had a real deep sleep since getting back from Godric’s Hollow. It was because of this mostly asleep, fully aware state that Hermione ended up shuddering awake, sitting bolt upright in her bed, in the middle of the night, wondering what in the devil was going on. She sat there, dazed and confused looking for the source of her quick awakening when a silhouette came out of the shadows.
 

Hermione nearly screamed, reaching for her wand, which she quickly remembered Harry had. That was when the silhouette in that sweet deep voice Hermione heard in her dreams, greeted her.
 

Draco walked out of the shadows and Hermione forgot everything. She didn’t bother about why Harry wasn’t there right now, she forgot to ask how he got into the tent, and she didn’t worry about why he was there. Instead, she launched herself on him, pulling his lips, still cold from outside, onto hers and tried her damndest to smother him.
 

“I missed you,” Draco managed to get out.
 

All Hermione could say over and over again was, “You came back.”
 

It wasn’t long before she had him pinned against the wall, which Draco was happy to oblige. Their lips were colliding with each other in violent, passionate, kisses. Draco’s hands were tangled in Hermione’s hair, and gripping her neck. Hermione’s hands were gripped on his chest, rubbing his smooth skin under his shirt, making sure he really was there. As Draco’s kisses moved to Hermione’s neck, so too did Hermione’s hands move to his belt buckle.
She had the buckle undone and was reaching for the button when Draco raised his head and grabbed Hermione’s wrists.
 

“What are you doing?” He asked. “It’s not that I don’t agree, don’t want you to, but Hermione, this is a one night only visit. There will be other times, when we’re both free from this war and…”
 

Hermione covered Draco’s mouth with her hand. “Stop, just stop there. I don’t make irrational decisions. I don’t do things on a whim. I started thinking about this a few weeks before I left. I planned it for the night after the wedding, when I was supposed to come back for my stuff. I’ve been thinking about it ever since.”
 

Draco’s eyes widened, but he could not say anything because by this time Hermione’s lips had found him again and she was sucking on his bottom lip. His eyes glazed over in bliss. Hermione quickly got at his button, then his fly. His hands were running up her bare back, under her pajama shirt when she shivered at the cold metal ring around Draco’s finger, passing over the small of her back.
 

Suddenly Draco jumped back into his own mind, seemingly as if he were somewhere else before. He broke him and Hermione apart again, quickly buttoning the pants that were barely holding onto his hips, the pants that were now hard to button.
 

“What is it? What’s wrong?” Hermione asked impatiently, holding more needs in than she had ever done before.
 

“No, everything’s perfect Hermione, absolutely everything.” He said, sliding the ring off behind his back and grabbing his wand from his back pocket. “It’s only, I came here for a reason, Hermione. It’s a very important reason which I think I should get to before anything else happens.”
 

“Something is wrong.” Hermione’s eyes fell.
 

“Something was wrong. You were upset. I could tell with my watch. You were worried and angry, and it was distracting you. I nearly had a heart attack when I heard about Nagini finding you two at Godric’s Hollow. So, I decided I should come here and stop you from ever being upset or worried again.”
 

“Oh.” Hermione was staring up at him with such open devotion and confusion.
 

“I want to give you everything I have, Hermione. I want to stop you from ever being upset or worried, or doubtful, or sad. I want to protect you from everything. And I want you to know that I want all those things. That I plan to stick by all those things and everything I’ve said before. I want you to be with me always, and I want you to be my wife.”
 

Hermione was gaping and smiling and nearly crying and it took a moment of staring up at Draco’s face –now turning from petrified bliss, to petrified doubt, to terror- before she noticed that Draco was speaking literally. It was then that she looked down, gaping more, really crying, and trying not to faint, that she noticed the small gold ring that Draco was holding out to her. She looked back up at his horrified face. She was crying hysterically, her mouth gaping like a fish, and could do little more than let out the occasional laughing squeal and wrap her arms so tightly around him he nearly dropped the ring.
 

Both of them were speechless after that. Hermione was shocked that it had actually happened. She had been dreaming so much, and staring longingly into the pictures in the locket so much, she found it hard to quantify that this proposal was real. Draco was running off so much adrenaline that he thought his heart would pop out of his chest. Surprisingly, when Hermione held out her hand and he slid the gold band onto her finger, his heart did not slow down with relief but sped up with inexplicable joy.
 

Hermione held up her hand to stare at the ring, her mouth still open a little. She then moved toward her bed, perching on the edge of the mattress.
 

“I have to sit down.” She muttered.
 

Draco sat next to her, not touching her, but just watching her watch her ring.
 

“It’s so big.” She said at last.
 

“No, it isn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of gold left in my vault, and I couldn’t ask my father. There was another with more than just the one Diamond, but I couldn’t afford it.” Draco said, trying not to frown.
 

It was as if Hermione never heard him. “A diamond.” She said, “I’ve never had a Diamond before.”
 

With this, she looked longingly at Draco, as if he had just told her some grand secret to the world, or opened her up to a whole new one. He wasn’t sure he understood what that look meant, or that what he had done had been so amazing to merit such a look. He had told her time and again he would be there forever. Hell, he had already mentioned being a father to her children on at least one occasion. Still, she gaped as if seeing everything in a new light.
 

“You really do love me.”
 

“Of course I do,” Draco said, leaning in and capturing Hermione’s lips.
 

Hermione pulled Draco onto her, in a deeper, longer kiss. “I love you too.” Hermione muttered, before kissing him again.
 

Soon, the two had undressed each other. Hermione had even taken off the locket, and the only thing she had on under the sheets was her new engagement ring.
 

Draco’s mind was several steps behind his body. He hadn’t expected anything to happen. Of course, he had expected a lot of hugging and crying, and ‘thank you’s, which Hermione was moaning out now, but he hadn’t expected much more than a heated snogging fest. To be honest, he was still wrapping his head around the idea of Hermione thinking about sleeping with him all this time. Yet there she was, underneath of him, panting, and begging, and waiting for him to get caught up with what she wanted.
 

“Are you sure?” Draco kept asking.
 

“Please,” Hermione moaned.
 

“I don’t want to hurt you, if it’s your first time, then-“
 

“Don’t worry about that.” Hermione rushed him.
 

“This is important, Hermione. Sometimes the first time isn’t the best for girls. It’s kind of hit and miss. I don’t want to upset you then have to run back home, without any time to fix it.”
 

“I said don’t worry, this isn’t that sort of situation.” Hermione was rubbing Draco’s back now, and batting her eyelashes to hurry him along.
 

“What do you mean?”
 

“Only that it’s not exactly my first time, but that isn’t important, Draco.”
 

Draco stopped. “What?”
 

Hermione sighed. “Come now, Draco. I’m not expecting this to be your first time, so don’t be upset.”
 

“But…but who? Not Weasley?” Draco’s eyes were getting wider, like a child watching his fairytales go up in smoke.
 

“No, of course not. If you really must know, it was with Neville last year.”
 

Draco’s mouth hung open, though no sound came out, until he eventually croaked out, “Longbottom, how?”
 

“It’s not important. It was just a fling while I was a little upset that’s all. Besides, you’re not telling me who yours was.”
 

“Well, that was years ago, and it wasn’t Longbottom.” Draco scowled.
 

Hermione kissed his forehead, then his lips so he would smile, then said, “Did you come here to talk to me about past flings? I thought you had more important things to attend to.”
 

Then Hermione rubbed her thigh against Draco’s uncovered groin, and his mind stopped working again.
 

“As long as it wasn’t Weasley,” Draco said.
 

He held her neck in his hands while he kissed her lips, then he moved to kissing her collarbone, so he could hear her moan as he moved inside.

 




Harry and Ron were walking in circles around the perimeter of their protective spells, talking about quiddich and pretending they weren’t shivering. Finally, when the sounds from the tent had dissipated for long enough that neither felt embarrassed to go into the tent, they finally entered again.
 

Hermione was facing away from the door, and her bushy hair was falling over the edge of her bed as Draco’s still undressed arms were playing with her hair and rubbing her back. Harry quickly made himself busy with the kettle in the kitchen. Ron tried to look at something else, but couldn’t, not until Draco caught his gaze with his steely grey eyes, then Ron couldn’t look at them at all.
 

Hermione slowly turned over, clutching her blankets to her chest, and trying not to smile so widely. Then she caught the sight of flaming red hair, and her smile turned into one of Draco’s scowls, paired with her customary furrowed brow.
 

“I came back with him,” Ron said, pointing at the blond. “He forgot to mention it, I suppose.” Now Hermione’s scowl was passing onto him.
 

Harry jumped in with a mug of tea he handed to Ron. “Hermione?” He asked, holding up a second mug.
 

“No, we’re fine.” Hermione said.
 

Slowly Hermione sat up with the sheets pulled tight, trying to remember where her shirt had ended up. Draco stayed against Hermione, trying to stay out of the way and avoid a fight.
“Malfoy, is it true what Ron told me?” Harry asked.
 

“Yes,” Draco said, motioning to Hermione’s hand clutching the sheet, still wearing the large diamond.
 

“I’m sure you’re aware by this time, Malfoy, that Hermione means a great deal to both Ron and I. She’s like an only sister to me. And, as is the custom with brothers and sisters, if you ever hurt my Hermione or you are unsuitable in any way, I will hunt you down and slit your throat, like the pig you are. Are we clear?”
 

Harry waited for Draco’s custom sneer, or perhaps for doubt to shine in those grey eyes, but instead, Draco smiled.
 

“It’s perfectly clear,” Draco nodded.
 

With that, Harry forced a smile in Hermione’s direction, then turned on his heel and walked back out the tent. As he reached the front opening, he paused. “I’m going for a walk. I assume Malfoy will be heading back to the Dark Lord to continue his charade before dawn. I’ll be back then.”
 

Ron shrugged to Hermione, told her he’d be back when she was decent, and followed Harry out.
 

A/N: we're nearing the finish. I'm also going to write a one shot about what happened between Neville and Hermione, but that's to come later.


Chapter 21: Pansy
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Draco apperated into his bedroom just before dawn, the taste of Hermione still on his lips. There was already someone knocking on his door. They were tapping quietly, and whispering his name, almost inaudibly through the thick door.
 

Draco quickly threw his traveling cloak and dirty shoes onto a nearby chair, stripped down to his boxers and undershirt as if he had just woken up, and went to answer the door. On the other side of the wood was his mother, hunched over, as if she had been whispering into the key hole.
 

Draco tried to seem drowsy and bored, rather than giddy, as he stepped aside to let his mother in.
 

“What?” He asked in a growl.
 

“I wanted to tell you early, as I don’t know when he’ll be arriving, that we’re going to be entertaining certain guests for a while.” The woman was still whispering.
 

“For how long?”
 

“I’m not sure. A long time, I think.”
 

“How many?”
 

“A few dozen, give or take. They’ll be coming and going. But He’ll be here.”
 

Draco sat on the edge of his bed and rubbed his forehead with his hands.
 

“I beg you, Draco, be careful.” His mother crouched at his side, still whispering.
 

“What do I have to be careful about?” Draco said, putting on his best sneer.
 

“Nothing, Darling,” Narcissa’s eyes traveled to his dirty clothes and shoes lying on the hardwood floor, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
 

“I should hope not.” Draco’s voice ended with a bite, but his eyes had softened, pleading with his mother.
 

“I’ll leave you to get ready for breakfast.” His mother stood. “We’ll be having cocktails tonight in the ballroom. I’ll send one of the elves up shortly to press your robes.”
 

“Alright,” Draco said, “I’ll be down for breakfast in a bit.”
 

Narcissa paused for a moment, then to both of their surprise, she leaned up and kissed her son on the cheek, whipping the still sweaty hair from his eyes. Then, she quickly turned and fled out of his room.
 

Draco quickly grabbed his silk robe, then checked his watch to see the hand still at “happy” before going to take a shower.

 

 

 






“Draco!”
 

The shrill voice carried around the dance floor, and through the crowd of men standing, all the way to the back wall, where Draco was leaning like a teenager on the back wall of a high school. One hand was in the pocket of his dress robes, while the other was flicking his pocket watch opened and closed. He tried to ignore her, but she came over anyway.
 

“I was hoping to see you here, Draco. It’s good to know you’re not out working for once.” Pansy smiled and pulled the neckline of her black dress down a little.
 

“I am working.” Draco turned away from her, like he was waiting for something.
 

“For him, right now?” Pansy was enthralled, rather than upset.
 

Draco was more discouraged.
 

“You’ve grown up, Draco. You’re such a man.” Pansy slid her hand up Draco’s chest.
 

Draco grabbed her wrist. “I’m busy.”
 

“Perhaps later then,” pansy smiled and leaned in to kiss Draco on his still scowling lips. “I know you haven’t forgotten me.”
 

Draco pushed her away, snarling. Though, if it was toward Pansy or his own physical reactions, he wasn’t sure.
 

He skulked out of the ball room, into an empty corridor where he could loiter in peace. He pulled out the pocket watch again, to see where Hermione’s arrow was. But things had changed. Beside Hermione’s large, golden watch hand was a new, smaller one, so that the pair looked like a real set of watch hands. Draco panicked for a second, thinking it was now a normal watch. Only, as Hermione’s hand still pointed at ‘happy,’ the smaller hand was pointed at ‘danger’.
 

Draco checked back at his watch every few minutes, hoping that once some of the blood had drained, he would go back to only Hermione, but it didn’t. He spent the rest of the night in a foul mood, confused. After having several drinks and going back to his room, Draco pulled out an old school album, and stared at a picture in second year where Hermione was in the background, talking to Harry and totally unaware of the camera. Yet still, as he forced his whole body to ache for her, the watch still had two hands. He couldn’t understand what it could mean.
 
 
 
 


Chapter 22: A Narrow Escape
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A/N correlates with book seven chapter 23. No real quotes, but based in that chapter. Only, Dobby doesn’t save them.

 





Draco was sitting uncomfortably in his father’s office, sipping tea, and trying to focus on what the man was saying. Suddenly, there was a ruckus in the hallway, then the door swung open, where his mother lead Greyback the werewolf, along with several other snatchers, into the office, dragging five prisoners. Immediately, Draco saw Hermione’s bushy hair, and nearly called out. The group began to argue with one another, but Draco was hardly there. He only wanted them to turn the group, so he could see Hermione.
 

“Well, Draco, is it?” His father leered. “Is it Potter?”
 

Draco was snapped back into the moment. “I can’t be sure.”
 

Still the questioning went on. Draco, who was trying his hardest to keep his thoughts locked tight with occlumency, kept his answers short, to I don’t know, and it could be. He nearly slipped for a moment, when they turned the group so he could identify the ‘mudblood’. His heart leapt into his throat. Hermione was crying, staring at him like some lost, helpless creature. He wanted to cut her free, wash her tears, and get her out of those muddy, wet clothes. He wanted to have some sort of power over the group he was standing in, but he had none, so instead, he said “Could be.”
 

The group decided without his help that is must be Harry Potter. Draco was still staring at Hermione, trying to say something with his eyes. It seemed she was trying to do the same, only the tears were refracting the message, and he wasn’t sure what she was saying. He was however, painfully aware that Hermione’s ring was not on her finger. He prayed it had just been taken when she was captured, not that she had given up. perhaps even regretted Draco. His thoughts raced back to his own watch, to the two arrows, now both at peril. Hermione saw the flash of his eyes for a moment, when the light glinted off the water forming there.
 

Belatrix ordered them into the cellar, then decided to keep Hermione for questioning. Before Draco could quell his urge to call out, Ron beat him to it.
 

“No, leave her alone. Take me instead!”
 

Draco’s mouth opened, and he felt his heart break a little more. Draco was ushered out of the room by his father, before his aunt and parents closed themselves in the room with his fiancé. He leaned his forehead against the wall, gripping his wand tightly in his pocket. He was weighing out which would be the stupider thing to do, rush in and take Hermione away when he had no plan, no idea how to get Harry or Ron out, and he couldn’t go with them. His dark mark made him trackable by the dark lord at any moment. It would be an instant before he would be dead, just as soon as the news reached him. Then again, he couldn’t do nothing. Belatrix had killed people she was ‘questioning’ before.
 

Draco cringed as Hermione let out her first scream. Draco let go of his wand and sauntered into the room once more, getting a look from both his father and Belatrix. They both knew he was a shoddy excuse for a Death Eater. He still hadn’t killed anyone.
 

He winced each time Hermione did, but he kept his eyes locked onto hers. He was trying to keep her looking at him, keep her focus on something, anything that wasn’t her current predicament. She screamed and sobbed but tried to look at him as well, when her eyes weren’t sealed shut in pain.
 

Then Belatrix yelled crucio, and Hermione began to writhe.
 

Draco found the most arrogant, nonchalant voice he could and said, “You know, you might not want to harm her permanently, Bella.”
 

“What are you on about?” She had stopped the curse and was now looking at him, with her wand in his direction.
 

“Potter wasn’t exactly a genius at school, and god knows Weasley is a sod. I imagine if they’ve planned or are planning anything clever, it’s her doing. The Dark Lord might not want you damaging such a resource.”
 

“If I can’t get the information out of her,” Bellatrix began.
 

“Then the Dark Lord can break it out of her mind in a second.” Then, he had a thought,“Even Snape could. Perhaps we should get him.”
 

“No, no one else is getting involved until we’re sure what to do.” His father said sternly, “But he’s right, Bella, don’t kill the girl.”
 

The woman leered at her nephew before turning back to Hermione, who was looking gratefully at Draco. Draco couldn’t help but smile, half from her safety, half from the locket, which in the struggle of the cruciato, had come out from under her shirt. And hanging on the chain of the locket, like a tiny jeweled bead, was her engagement ring shrunken at least four times smaller, so as to hide.
 

Narcissa saw the two share this look as well, and she also saw the locket around the girl’s neck and remembered it had been hers, a treasure that Draco had once cherished.

 




Harry and Ron had burst into the room, as Bellatrix threatened to kill Hermione again. Ron’s yells covered up Draco’s own. Then, as they battled and lost, and as Bellatrix continued to threaten Hermione, something happened. The Chandelier on the roof began to sway with the rhythm of Draco’s thoughts, just as things had once done when he was a child.
 

“I’ll kill her. I’ll kill her. For Hermione, tonight, I’ll kill her.”
 

Then it came crashing and it fell down on Bellatrix, Ron, Harry, Hermione, and the goblin fled.
 

“After them!” Lucius called.
 

Draco was already out the door.
 

“Which way did they go?” Another lackey called.
 

“I’ll go right, you left.” Draco said, fully knowing they had gone right.
 

It wasn’t long before he caught up to the foursome, who were cornered and lost in the maze of a manor.
 

“Where are you going?” Draco asked.
 

Harry was still pointing a wand at Draco. Ron was trying to, as he held Hermione up. She was weak, and sobbing to herself.
 

Draco quickly took her from Ron. “Only Malfoys can apperate in and out of the Manor. Tell me where you’re going.”
 

“Shell Cottage.” Harry finally gave in, “Bill and Fleur’s.”
 

As the words left his mouth, the group left the ground. When they got to the cottage, Ron helped Draco get Hermione inside, as Harry made sure no one had followed.
 

“I’ve only got a few moments.” Draco said to Hermione, kissing her on the forehead. “But I’m here for now.”
 

She was still weeping, she was nearly hysterical. She wouldn’t stop.
 

Ron was trying too, to no avail. He was looking terrified, and kept touching her stomach, before being swatted away by Hermione.
 

“What’s going on?” Draco said, watching the two.
 

Hermione was still in his arms, but she had crumpled into them and wasn’t paying attention to anything.
 

“Tell me what is going on!” He bellowed, fire in his eyes going from Ron to Harry, who had just entered the room.
 

“Erm,” Ron mumbled, swallowing.
 

He was barely audible over Hermione’s sobs. Bill and Fleur, who were waiting quietly in the kitchen for it all to stop, could barely hear the conversation.
 

“I swear, I’ll-“
 

“You’ll upset her more.” Harry whispered. He pulled on Malfoy’s arm, urging him to leave Hermione with Ron and follow him.
 

They went into the hallway, out of Hermione’s ear shot if she was paying attention.
 

“What’s wrong with her? What’s going on?” Draco pleaded.
 

“She’s terrified, she-“
 

“I can see that!”
 

Harry held up his hand. “I don’t want to be the one telling you this, and I wish it weren’t at a time like this, but something has happened since you’ve left. Something-“
 

“Spit it out, Potter.”
 

“Hermione is-was pregnant.”
 

Draco nearly collapsed. “Me?”
 

Harry watched him turn pale, “Think, did you do any spell to stop it?”
 

Draco opened his mouth, then closed it.
 

“She was doing fine, I promise. Ron was taking care of her like a mother hen. Only, now with the cruciatus, it’s possible that it…”
 

Draco slumped to the floor. “If I had known…”
 

“It’s my fault we ended up there to begin with.”
 

But Draco wasn’t listening. He dug into his pocket, pulling out his watch. He stared at it for a moment though tears, before shakily getting to his feet and making his way over to Hermione. Draco leaned down in front of her, where she was weeping now in Ron’s arms.
 

“Everything’s going to be okay.” Draco said, kissing her on the lips. “It’s still there.” Draco’s hand came close to Hermione’s stomach, but couldn’t will himself to touch it.
 

“You’re lying to me. You don’t want me upset.” She mumbled out.
 

“No, darling.” Draco now took Hermione from Ron, and pulled her into his lap. “Just after I left, a second hand turned up on the watch. I didn’t know what was going on, but now I know it was us. That hand is in the same place it was before you showed up tonight. Look.”
 

Draco showed Hermione the watch, which as he said had another small arrow. While it was pointed at peril, it was not at the ominous heading Hermione had begrudgingly yet decidedly put on the watch all those months ago. ‘Death’ was at the very bottom of the watch, where 6 would usually sit. Hermione hadn’t wanted Draco second guessing anything about her absence these past months, so had put it on. Now, she could see that in fact her own arrow was leaning from peril just slightly in the direction of death, but the much smaller one was still squarely at peril.
 

She laughed a little.
 

“It’s been ten minutes,” Bill whispered from the opening into the kitchen.
 

Draco kissed Hermione firmly and she lead the intwined hands to her stomach, before he broke apart from her and apperated home.
 

Back at the mansion, he made his way to his father’s office.
 

“Where have you been?” His father shouted.
 

His mother looked on the verge of tears.
 

“I was searching everywhere, making sure I didn’t miss them somewhere.”
 

“Alright,” Lucius’ shoulders loosened a bit.

 




Draco was lying on his bed, staring at his pocket watch as slowly both hands began to creep a little away from peril. It was a fraction of a degree, but it still made Draco grin. His mother knocked once before letting herself into the room.
 

She stared at her son for a long time, as he looked up from his bed at her.
She placed a small scrap of paper on his desk, then turned quickly and ran down the hall.
The paper said, “I’ll try to keep your secret. I love you.”
 
 


Chapter 23: The Last Visit
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Draco pulled his traveling cloak hood over his head, like he had on many other nights. He had begun making a series of apparitions with four or five minutes of walking in between each point a few weeks ago. The wind was blowing rain at him sideways and he rushed to get to his next point, though refused to apparate sooner. By the time he made it to shell cottage, he was soaked through to the bone.
 

He knocked twice, then called “I’m here to see the fetus. You, the secret keeper of Shell Cottage told me to bring some real food, so I’ve brought cheese, bread, and some steaks.
Draco had been coming to visit Hermione at Shell Cottage every week or two, depending on where the Dark Lord and his father were at the time.
 

Hermione opened the door, pulled him in, then scowled and said, “Stop calling it that.”
 

“But that’s what it is right now,” Draco laughed, kissing her on the forehead.
 

Bill, who was standing behind Hermione, grabbed the backpack of food from Draco. Neither him nor Fleur were happy about Draco still coming around, but Ron and Harry were both making sure nothing was let slip while Draco was there. Still, Bill couldn’t help notice that Draco didn’t much care to be part of the men’s discussions. In fact, he seemed happier the less he saw of Ron or Harry.
 

He only wished to be with Hermione then. Further, he did not act like Bill had imagined he would. Sure, he was arrogant, pompous, and possessive. He mentioned several times that Hermione didn’t need to be worried about, or taken care of so much by Ron. He didn’t understand why Fleur or Luna couldn’t watch his pregnant fiancé, or Harry even if they were on a mission, but not Ron. Still, Draco didn’t push Hermione or whine about not knowing where she was going or what she was doing. He only whined about her going at all and not staying somewhere safe.
 

“And why shouldn’t I go?” Hermione said haughtily.
 

“Because you’re pregnant.”
 

“It’s not like my legs are broken.”
 

“It’s not like you’re the chosen one, either!”
 

And so it would go on, until Draco would say it was getting late, and he would need to leave in half an hour or so. Then the two would stop arguing and bickering, and just sit together in the back yard, with their fingers entwined and their hands resting on her stomach.
Fleur found Draco both repulsive and endearing. He reminded her of herself when she had just fell in love with Bill and learned of his workings with the Order. She despised the blonde’s superiority complex, bringing food he said was essential to keep a pregnant woman healthy, as if her food and her cooking were not good enough. And he seemed to be always popping in. Still, he risked his life each time he came for an annoying little visit, purely so he could be the one taking care of the woman he loved. And no one could deny that truth now, not even Harry or Dean, who were by far the most skeptical.
 

This night, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Griphook had finalized their plan on how to break into gringott’s. Hermione had told Draco they would be leaving soon, and even though he had listened and nodded along, somewhere in the back of his mind Draco still never connected that she would be gone. Hermione kissed him against the tree in the back yard.
“I promise we’ll be safe, and I won’t be gone for long. You’ll always know where I am and what I’m doing. And you know this is the only way, Draco.”
 

Then, Ron cleared his throat from the other side of the tree. Even though Draco trusted Ron least because of his love for Hermione, Ron seemed to take to Draco, as if his love for Hermione made him understandable to the ginger.
 

“What is it?” Draco asked, pulling himself away from Hermione.
 

“Harry and I thought we should talk to you before we leave.”
 

“So, he designated that you do it?”
 

“That’s not important,” Ron turned red. “Harry and I are just worried about the amount of time you’re spending with Hermione, when the turning point of the war is so close.”
 

“Now wait a minute, I-“
 

“I realize you’re trying your best to keep her safe, but Harry says You Know Who has ways of knowing things. If he even suspects you’re not on his side, we’ll all be dead.”
 

“How can Harry possibly know that?”
 

“And what about your parents, and the other death eaters. Surely they’ve noticed something and if they haven’t it won’t be long until they do.”
 

“They won’t find out, I’m trained in occlumency.”
 

“What about your mother?” Hermione muttered.
 

Draco turned to her. “I won’t leave you to fend for yourself. How will you get information about the Dark…You Know Who? How will you know what he’s up to?”
 

“We have a safer way to find out what he’s up to.” Hermione said. “I can’t tell you know what it is, but please just listen to Ron.”
 

“You want me to stay away too?”
 

“I want us to be safe. What if they know you’re up to something?”
 

“They won’t find you, I won’t let them.”
 

“What if they just kill you instead, or lock you in the dungeon like they did to Luna and Olivander. What would I do then? Raise our child on my own after the war, with no one to take care of me but Ron and Harry?” Hermione looked at Draco with her fiery brown eyes.
 

“Hey,” Ron yelled.
 

She turned her scowl on his and he quieted.
 

“Alright,” Draco said. “But be safe. If you aren’t being, I’ll know and I’ll have something to say to all three of you. You hear?”
 

Hermione smiled and kissed him. “I love you.”

A/N: I’m not doing a last battle chapter. It’s been way over done and I can't write it better than JKR. Basically, nothing changes except Hermione’s a bit bigger and Draco’s a useless death eater and secretly on the trio’s side. That’s not much of a change anyway.

 


Chapter 24: After the War
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Hermione came down from Dumbledore’s office. After hugging Harry good night as he headed toward the Griffindor tower for a rest, Ron and her walked into the great hall again and Hermione searched around for Draco. Ron pulled her sleeve and Hermione followed his gaze to the corner of the room, where Kingsley and several other aurors, now reassigned, were rounding up people, including a couple of platinum blondes. Narcissa was crying into Lucius, who was standing, listening to Kimgsley with a scowl on his face.
 

Hermione turned to look for Draco as he grabbed her by the shoulders and hugged her to him.
 

“I was so worried about you two.” He whispered.
 

“So am I.” Hermione said.
 

“Both arrows have moved to safety on my watch.” Draco kissed Hermione quickly.
 

“I’m sorry,” Hermione was mumbling and crying.
 

“For what?”
 

“I promised not to hurt your family,” Hermione said, looking toward Bellatrix’s body.
 

“Don’t worry about it, she got what was coming to her.”
 

“But I-“
 

“Let’s not squabble about this, I only have a few minutes. We’re going to be moved toAzkaban soon, I suspect.”
 

“What do you mean?” Hermione gawked up at him.
 

“Just a routine questioning, I think.” Draco smiled, but Hermione could tell he was sweating, only faking happiness for her sake. “I’ll be back to you in no time.”
 

“I thought your parents switched sides?” Ron threw in.
 

“It’s complicated.” Draco said.
 

As the two men talked, they noticed Hermione had left and was storming toward Kingsley.
 

“Hermione, what’s going on? Where’s Harry?” Kingsley asked.
 

“This problem does not concern him, it concerns the Malfoys. They’ve switched sides, why are you arresting them?”
 

Draco reached Hermione, placing his hand in hers, and watching his father gasp and reel in disgust.
 

“Just leave it alone.” He whispered.
 

Kingsley stepped back in shock, but tried to remain calm. “It’s only for a short time,

Hermione. We need time to regroup and to check everyones stories. Just as soon as their story is cleared in a hearing, they’ll all be free again.”
 

“I can vouch for him,” Ron said, behind the couple.
 

Lucius’ eyes became even more narrow, if it were possible.
 

“I’ll keep that in mind Ron, but right now they must come with us.”
 

“Please,” Hermione was begging, nearly at tears. “I’m begging you not to.”
 

Two other ministry members grabbed Mr. and Mrs. Malfoy before the full realization of what was going on with his son reached Lucius.
 

After his father was gone, Draco leaned in and kissed Hermione for a long time, regardless of Kingsley pulling at his arm.
 

“I’ll be back for both of you soon, don’t worry.” Draco said, touching Hermione’s belly one last time before Kingsley and him disapperated.

 

 

 

 

 








Hermione sat in a cold stone room, glaring at Percy and waiting for Harry to return. Harry had gone off with Kingsley to not only look over the captured Death Eaters in Azkaban, but also to discuss how trials would be held.
 

“Why can’t I see him?” Hermione asked for the zillionth time.
 

“The Malfoys are under the watch of Azkaban now.”
 

“They’re only awaiting a trial, they haven’t been found guilty. There should be some sort of crime against this.”
 

“Next time, don’t marry a death eater.” Percy said, pursing his lips like his mother.
 

“Thanks to you, Percy, I haven’t married him yet. I’ve hardly seen him, and judging by the backlog in these trials, we might not ever get married.” Hermione began sniffling and moaning.
 

Percy sighed, “You’re over reacting, Hermione. You’re just emotional because you’re pregnant. I understand.”
 

“You understand?” She spat, “You understand! Have you been pregnant before? Has your fiancé been locked up, never to see the light of day without even having a trial? Have you?”
 

Harry walked in at this moment, wishing he hadn’t. Kingsley came in behind him, trying not to focus on Hermione, but she wouldn’t allow that.
 

“I want to see him now!”
 

Harry put his hand on her shoulders, “Now calm down, Hermione.”
 

“Now!”
 

Kingsley led her into a white room, an interrogation room. She sat there alone, placing her hands on her now huge belly. After several minutes, Kingsley came back with a scrawny, wirey blonde in tow. Hermione waited for him to come to her, but he sat patiently in the seat across from her until Kingsley left them alone in the room.
 

As soon as the door closed behind Kingsley, Draco reached his long arms across the table and took Hermione’s neck, pulling her into a kiss. She stroked his cheek and his winced, pulling back. That’s when Hermione noticed the purple bruise starting at Draco’s left eye and skimming down his cheek.
 

“Oh, Draco!”
 

“It’s okay,” Draco said, “Dad and I just had a bit of a scuff.”
 

“About what?”
 

“It’s not important, you’re here now.”
 

“Was it me?”
 

Draco kissed her again. “He’ll get over it. He just needs time to brood.” Draco tried to smile.
 

“I know this is getting to you, being stuck in here. We’ll get you out soon, though. Harry and Ron have both agreed to testify for you in the trial.”
 

“I’m just worried about you.” Draco said, “They’ve taken away my wand and my watch.

Everything. Every time the dementors pass by, I can’t help it. I think something’s happened to you, or the baby.”
 

“Him and I are both fine. Don’t worry.” Hermione kissed Draco again.
 

“Him?”
 

“I found out last week, at my ultrasound.” Hermione smiled, holding his hands. “Draco, you’re going to have a son.”
 

A genuine smile, the first this entire meeting, spread across Draco’s lips.
 
 
 
 
 
 


Chapter 25: The Trial
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Draco is strapped to a chair with his hands bound behind his back. He looks out onto the full Wisengammot, stacked in their black and red robes on the benches in front of him. He looks around the room for Hermione with his eyes. He cannot move his neck.
 

“Is it true that the main witness has not shown?” Kingsley asks.
 

“She’s gone into labour, minister,” Percy says.
 

“Let me go!” Draco shouts.
 

“You will stay quiet, Mr. Malfoy.”
 

“I have to go to her.” Draco mumbled and closed his eyes.
 

“I call the first witness, Ronald Weasley.”
 

Draco saw the red head step forward and sit in a chair near him.
 

“You were a childhood enemy of the defendant, were you not?”
 

“Yes,” Ron fumbled, “But we all had childhood enemies at some point. I doesn’t mean…”
 

“And you were infatuated with the defendant’s fiancé before he came along were you not?”
 

“Well, sort of. We were mostly just friends, really.” Ron was sweating.
 

“But you did love her.”
 

“Well, yeah.”
 

“But you did not stop the defendant or Miss Granger when they chose to be together. Could you be under a spell?”
 

“I did try to stop them. I ran away and everything, only it didn’t do anything. I eventually realized it was for the best and all once he was thinking of proposing.”
 

“Explain further.” One of the Wisengammot said.
 

“Well, I mean, I loved her and all, but not that seriously. I had I couldn’t even ask her out and he was going on, proposing. And she was happy about it, genuinely happy. Hermione’s my friend first and she was happier with him than without. What was I to say?”
 

“Are you suggesting Miss Granger is marrying the defendant out of love?”
 

“What are you suggesting?”
 

“She is pregnant.” A woman next to Percy said, “Perhaps she felt with a child on the way, a husband was…”
 

“You shut up or I’ll make you!” Ron shouted.

 




“Harry Potter, you were also on bad terms with the defendant.”
 

Harry sighed, “Listen, let’s just get this over with quickly. The fact is my best friend is having his child,” He pointed at Draco, “And if he isn’t there for it, I’ll be the one she hates. Can I just talk.”
 

“Go on,” Kingsley said.
 

“Forget the love or the feuding or what happened at Hogwarts. The fact is, Draco was helping Hermione before he became a Death Eater and after, just like Snape. He told us about

Voldemort’s name being cursed. He single handedly helped us, Olivander, Luna Lovegood and the goblin Grindlehook escape from the Malfoy Mansion. When we were staying at Bill Weasley’s, he kept us up to date on what Voldemort was doing. His parents also helped us defeat Voldemort in the final battle.”
 

“We will get to their trial next.” Percy said.
 

“He still knowingly became a Death Eater, though. Are you denying that?”
 

“I did it for her.” Draco mumbled.
 

“What?”
 

“I did it for Hermione.” He spoke up, “She said it was better to be alive and helping her, than dead and helping no one. At least my heart was with her.”
 

“And you believe you would have been killed for not joining?”
 

“You don’t?” Draco laughed.
 

“If that is all, we will deliberate.” Kingsley said.
 

“Wait,” Harry stood up. “Hermione will be giving birth any time now. Let me and Ron take Draco to the hospital. He can stay bound and under magical guard. We can even bring one of your ministers. You can give us the decision there.”
 

“If he’s found guilty…”
 

“If we don’t go, he’ll have missed the birth of his first born son. Hermione will be in tatters. She’ll probably assume the worst. None of us want that.”
 

Kingsley scratched his chin, “Alright, but Percy goes with you. You can apperate upstairs.”
Harry smiled. “We’ll be back after to begin the other Malfoy trials.”
 
 


Chapter 26: Epilogue
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“He’s late.” Hermione said, standing outside of the three broom sticks, gazing up the road to Hogwarts.


“It’s five minutes to, Regulus is not late.” Draco chuckled, besides he didn’t inherit your need for order and timeliness.”
 

Hermione raised her eyebrows at her husband. “I’ve noticed. He’s been at Hogwarts for over a month and we’ve only received three letters. He only owled last night to say he’d meet us on his Hogsmead trip. When I was in my first year,”
 

“When you were a first year, you were wound tighter than a goblin’s pocket watch. Regulus is independent, free spirited,”
 

“Terrified of your nagging discriminations. He still hasn’t told us what house he’s in. I’ve asked Ron and Harry and Ginny, they haven’t heard anything.”
 

“He likes a surprise.”
 

“You shouldn’t have said you’d disown him if he weren’t a Slytherine.”
 

“He knows I was kidding. I already love one Griffindor, I can love another.” Draco leaned down and kissed his wife. “You worry too much.”
 

“No matter what he has to tell us, be respectable.”
 

“When am I not?” Draco smiled inappropriately at Hermione.
 

Sighing, she checked her muggle wrist watch. “Now he’s late.” She mumbled.
 

Draco took out his pocket watch, looking at the smaller of the two hands pointed at safety.

“He’s fine, give him a few minutes.”
 

“He even made Teddy promise not to tell. Said Regulus wanted to be the ones to tell us. He’s up to something.”
 

“Of course he’s up to something, he’s your son.” Draco laughed. “Remember your first year?”
 

“My son? He gets his mischievousness from you.”
 

“That’s just silly.”
 

“What if something’s wrong?” Hermione sighed.
 

“There he is.” Draco patted his wife’s shoulder, “What is he wearing?”
 

Walking down the path was a young boy, attractive for an eleven year old. He had his father’s pointed nose and stone grey eyes. His chocolate brown hair was slicked back to stop it from curling. He was walking with a few girls and laughing in a haughty way. All of them were wearing black and yellow scarves. He waved to his parents and broke off from the girls.
 

“I missed you,” Regulus said, hugging his mother.
 

“You’re in hufflepuff?” Draco’s mouth was hanging in the air.
 

“Dad? You alright?”
 

“He’s in hufflepuff, Hermione.”
 

“Respectable.” She mumbled.
 

“Name one respectable person who was in hufflepuff.”
 

“Cedric Digory.”
 

That shut Draco up.
 

“Professor Longbottom’s daughter is in Hufflepuff.” Regulus smiled. “There are more girls than boys in Hufflepuff, actually.”
 

Draco laughed and pulled his son into a hug. “Always the optimist. That’s good. But be careful around Neville’s daughter. He’s not the kind of man I want mad at me.”
 

Hermione gave both of her boys a stern look, “Try to be respectable, the both of you.”
 

Father and son looked at each other, saying in chorus, “When am I not?”
 

Heremione sighed and put an arm around Regulus, let’s go get some butter beer before you need to go back to Hogwarts.”
 

“Alright, but I want to look in Uncle George’s joke shop too. He said there’s experimental stuff here that isn’t in Diagon Alley.” Regulus said.
 

“I bet he did.” Hermione said, frowning at the thought of George’s ‘experimental jokes’.
 
 


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