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Their Reason To Live by FeltonLewis

Format: Novel
Chapters: 15
Word Count: 50,592
Status: WIP

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

Genres: Drama, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Pansy, Ginny, Blaise (M), Scorpius, Rose, OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, Rose/Scorpius, Ron/OC

First Published: 07/17/2012
Last Chapter: 04/08/2014
Last Updated: 04/08/2014

Summary:


banner by bellatrixx @tda 

She's scared to death. He can't seem to escape the darkness. She can barely smile. He can barely breathe. She's lost her senses. He's lost his wife. She's lost her happiness. He's lost his life. 

What do you do when you lose everything that you've been living for? What happens when you can't escape the nightmare they call reality? 

That's where they are- what, then, will be Their Reason To Live?


Chapter 1: The End In The Beginning
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Their Reason To Live chapter 1

Chapter 1: The End In The Beginning:


Hi Readers :) For those of you who were EHFAR readers, welcome back guys! For those of you who are new to this story, I said that this could be read separately and it can but there are definitely quite a few references to Everything Happens For A Reason, which is the first story I wrote and to which this is the sequel. So it will be confusing at times. A lot of characters are my originals, just a warning. And if you think you're going to be a frequent reader because this is definitely going to be an eventful story, reading EHFAR is a very good idea otherwise this story obviously will spoil EHFAR's plot line for you! For the new readers who are ready to start this story without reading the previous, here is a short intro to the original characters:

Stacey Parkinson- Pansy Parkinson and her late husband William Rankson's daughter.
Drake Zabini- Blaise Zabini and his late wife Violet Zabini's son.
Matilda and Lysander Lovegood- Luna Lovegood's adopted children. She was never married.
Stella Thomas- Dean Thomas and Lavender Brown's daughter.
Violet Zabini- was Blaise's wife in EHFAR.
Will/ William Rankson- Pansy's muggle-born husband in EHFAR.
Leander Parkinson and Estelle Parkinson- Pansy's parents.
Hayley Parkinson- Pansy's younger sister, she's 33 years old- close to Ginny's age.
Draco, Hermione, Ron, Harry, Blaise and Pansy are all around 36 and this takes place about 18 years after the war between Harry and Voldemort. In EHFAR, Rodolphus Lestrange tried to complete the Dark Lord's job by trying to finishing off the Trio but fate had other plans and after a full-on battle, he was killed as was Draco's wife Astoria Greengrass/ Malfoy.
Hermione returned to her family and Draco lives in the Malfoy Manor with his parents.
During the battle against Lestrange, Pansy Parkinson lost her hearing and speaking ability.

Yes, if there's anything else, Ill be inputting it in the A/Ns when necessary :) You all know that Albus, James and Lily are the Potter kids, Scorpius is Draco and Astoria's son and Rose and Hugo are Hermione and Ron's kids.

Without further delay, I present to you Their Reason To Live.

Enjoy xx


--The characters your recognize are all the great J.K Rowling's but the storyline is entirely mine :)

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"Do you know where your love is?
Do you think that you lost it?
You felt it so strong, but
Nothing's turned out how you wanted"

-Say, One Republic.

~

"Do you take Miss Hermione Granger as your lawfully wedded wife?" The Minister asked, following the question up with the usual list of vows- in sickness and in health and so on and so forth. But Hermione wasn't listening.


"I do not."


Her eyes snapped up to meet his, confusion and absolute shock in them. He, though, was absolutely calm- his face, his posture, the air around him. Calm...


"Are you mad?" Was the first thing she blurted out. What the hell was going on? What was he playing at? She shook her head and even went so far as to pinching her arm. Nope, not a dream... but this definitely couldn't be real.


"No, Hermione, Im not mad", He said, even smiling slightly.


"Yes, yes I think you are!" Hermione said, anger mixing with the rest of her emotions. "You just said you don't want me as your wife!"


"I am aware of what I said", He said, his hands in his pockets. He looked into her eyes and refused to break contact.


"Then... But... You said so yourself- "We're meant to be together"! What happened to that? What're you doing? You've waited so long for this... We've waited so long for this", The words just tumbled out of her mouth. This couldn't be happening...


"There was a time when I was waiting for this. But not anymore", He said, finally breaking eye contact and looking away. He had to do this... For both of them.


Hermione spun around to look at Harry and Ginny and Pansy, the only ones who had come for the vows. They weren't surprised... It's like.... It's like they knew. They knew he'd betray her? They still hadn't said anything.


Humiliation suddenly joined the rest of her emotions. Had he really played her like that? After everything...


"You're being stupid", She whispered.


"No, Hermione. Im not being stupid. You are", He said, smirking slightly. Smirking... He bloody smirked at her!


"Why're you doing this?" She asked, just simply unable to fathom why herself.


He chose to ignore the question. Instead, he said, "Im not going to marry you, Hermione."


That was when she felt the edges of her vision begin blurring. Her knees gave out and she collapsed on the cold marble floor.

~


Previously....


-24th February, Friday.-


Her fingers were interlaced with his, their arms swinging slightly in between them as they walked along the banks of the Great Lake, her long red hair flying about messily, giving an amusing impression that her head was on fire. His blonde hair was ruffled up too but it was too windy a day to bother setting it back neatly. It would have just ruffled up again.


"Im sorry Mum's been uncomfortable with you at home at times", Rose Weasley said. "Its not that she doesn't like you... Its just that..."


"I look too much like my father", Scorpius Malfoy said, sighing.


Rose didn't say anything and he took that as a confirmation. It had been five months since the final battle and the students were back in Hogwarts for their third year. They had missed out on most of their work but were given extra time to catch up because of everything they had faced. All the loss, all the pain...


"How is he?" Rose asked, albeit a little reluctantly. If her mother hadn't been so quiet all the time and if she hadn't had an incline on the reason for that, she wouldn't have given a rat's arse about Draco Malfoy.


"Don't act like you care about him, Rosie", Scorpius said, smiling sadly. She pursed her lips, a little ashamed. What was the point in lying? He could read her like an open book.


"Im sorry, I really don't that much. But my mother's miserable", She said quietly.


Silence hung in the air for a few seconds before he tightened his grip on her fingers slightly and said. "So is dad."


"It's been five months..." She said, looking to her right at the students playing around outside in the fields and lounging around, reading or chatting. It was nearing the end of February and everybody was enjoying their Friday evening to their fullest.


"I don't even know what happened between them", Scorpius said, shrugging slightly.


"I dont honestly want to know but if the reason they're like this is each other, it must have been more serious than we thought."


"What if we-"


"No, Scorp! Im not discussing this again! I refuse to talk about them being together if we weren't!" Rose said, stopping and facing him. They had approached this topic a few times but Rose never continued beyond a few words. She really didn't want to discuss her mother and possible new fathers. The thought bothered her to no end.


"Rosie..."


"No, Scorpius. I told you. Im not talking about this!" She said, snatching her hand away from her boyfriend. He took a deep breathe and raised his hands in surrender.


"Okay, we're not. But we can't ignore it forever, thats all Im saying", He said, taking her hand back with his.


"I'd rather wait till its completely unavoidable", She muttered, continuing their walk back towards the castle.


Scorpius didn't say anything. He knew how much the topic bothered Rose and he wouldn't push her.


"How's Stace?" She asked after a few moments of silence.


"You tell me- how do you think she is?" Scorpius asked, sadness in his quiet voice.


Rose looked down at the ground as she walked. Everyone knew how Stacey was... And things were only getting more difficult for her as the days went on...


* * *


Drake Zabini entered the Slytherin common room. He had just been with James Potter when Stella Thomas had joined them and the Harry Potter look alike had demanded him to be gone. Those two were really getting annoying. James should have never told her he loved her. He grumbled to himself as he shut the stone door behind him and looked around the room. His eyes immediately landed on a black haired girl sitting in front of the fireplace, her back against the side of the armchair behind her. She was staring into the fire, her eyebrows furrowed together but no emotion in her eyes. He made his way towards her. There were only a few first years sitting in the corner of the common room, practicing beginner spells.


He purposely coughed as he approached her so that she knew there was someone there. She would jump out of her skin otherwise. Like she did every time someone touched her or spoke to her. She was so lost in her own world of... emptiness...that she was completely unaware of her surroundings. He saw her blink. An indication that she had heard. He sat down beside her, leaning against the side of the armchair just like her.


"Head hurting?" He asked, resting the back of his head against the soft cushioned surface behind him. She nodded.


"Did you write to her?" He tried again. She just needed to speak and her emotions would be released. As long as she kept quiet, they would be left bottled up. But all he got was another nod.


"Did she reply?"


Another one.


"What did she say?"


A shrug. She passed him a piece of parchment. It was the reply. Of course she'd find an alternative to speaking... She always did.


Stacey,
I hope school is treating you alright. Im fine. Everyone's taking care of me well. Including the Weasleys- they really are wonderful, Stace. When you come over, we'll all go to the Burrow. It's a great place- very homey. How are you? How's Drake and Scorp holding up? I have to go somewhere right now so I'll write again soon. Take care of yourself.
I love you, don't you forget that.
Mum.


"Say something, Stace", Drake said softly. She didn't. "Please."


Silence.


"You havent spoken to anybody for a week." She had these phases- she wouldn't say a word for a long time. Then when she couldn't take it, she'd cry it all out. Talk here and there for a bit. Longest she could manage was four days before she would return to her silence. Her solitude.


"Lysander." She choked out. Oh of course... that loony boy. Just like his mother and sister. He didn't have a problem with him, don't take it that way. Luna Lovegood's adopted son and Matilda's fourteen year old brother was fine. He was just... different. Drake just didn't see why Stacey would say even a single word to him when she refused to say anything to anyone else. Lysander had been adopted along with Matilda- their mother could not have kids and so the blonde haired witch went for the alternative.


"You spoke to him?" A nod. "When?" A shrug. "What did you tell him?"


"Bye."


"You said 'bye'? Or are you saying that to me?" She shook her head. "You said 'bye' to him?" A nod. "Thats all?" One more. He couldn't figure out for the life of him why the only thing she said to him was "bye". Perhaps the fellow had bothered her so much that she had to say something.


"What did you speak about?" Drake tried. She didn't respond. She brought her knees up to her chest and hugged them close instead.


"Dammit, Stace, say something", He said, rubbing his face tiredly with his hands. "I need you to talk to me. I need to know how you are! If you-" tried hurting yourself in any way, Id never forgive myself, he was going to say. But he bit it back. She already knew that. "Just please, Stacey... Please."


"Im fine, Drake", Her voice was hoarse, raw, completely defeated.


"Lying isn't going to make me leave. You can't get rid of me so easily." The corner of her mouth quirked upwards but it was gone in a flash. If he hadn't been looking at her intently for any kind of reaction, he would have missed it entirely.


"Im fine", She said again.


"I know you're not." Drake said. "Don't kid yourself. Don't try and lie to me. You know that I know exactly when you are. Why won't you talk to me, Stace? Why don't you try?"


"You won't understand..." She whispered. Blaise curled up his fists and punched the floor angrily.


"What the hell do you mean?!" He said, his voice louder than he thought it would come out. "I won't understand?! What? The loss of a parent?! Dammit, my mother died! Scorp's mother practically killed herself! And you say we won't understand?! Scorp keeps silent about his mother- thinks that no one will see how it's affected him, but do you believe it?" She didn't say anything and he growled, making her jump a little. "Answer me, Stacey! Do you believe that he's okay?"


"No", She choked out.


"Then how dare you say that we won't understand! Don't speak to me, then. Speak to Scorp, speak to James, Albus, Matilda, Stella- hell, even Lysander! Just speak to somebody! Im sick of seeing you wasting away your life like this! We care about you! We want you to heal! But you won't let us help you! Don't be selfish!" He was yelling by now. The first years had fled the common room and it was empty by now.


"Drake..."


"No, Stacey! You're listening to me today! You're being selfish by keeping to yourself!" He said, getting to his feet and looking down at her. "We want to help you when you don't even want to help yourself! You won't let us in! Its driving us mad! You know Scorp was almost in tears the other day because you didnt say a word throughout your potions assignment together? You know why? He's shitting scared! He never shows his emotions and I walked in yesterday and he's sitting on his bed, his head in his hands and tears in his eyes because he was so afraid for you!" Stacey looked up at him, finally some emotion in her eyes. Surprise and concern.


"You won't help yourself and you won't help us by letting us help you!" Drake said, finally lowering his voice again. "Let us in... Let us help you. You can't do this to yourself. You can't do this to Aunt Pansy or your father... They wouldn't want this. Please, Stacey. Just talk to me. I know you want to but you keep it to yourself for some reason."


"Im scared", She said softly, looking down at her knees. Blaise released a breathe... Finally she spoke a full sentence. It was always a start. She was going to break soon. It was routine and he knew it like the back of his hand.


He knelt down in front of her.


"Why're you scared?"


"I don't want to face anything."


"You can't hide from it forever", He whispered.


"I want to."


"Its not an option."


"I want it to be."


"You can't always get what you want."


"I lost my father, my grandfather and my mother lost her senses. She can't speak to me or hear me anymore. I can't wrap my head around that. Everytime I begin to try, I just... lose it."


"Then do it."


"What?"


"Lose it."


"Are you-"


"Just let go. You have to once and for all."


"I don't know if Im ready yet."


"Its been six months."


"Its been too little."


"No, Stacey. You've ignored it long enough."


Tears welled up in the young witch's eyes.


"I need another day."


"Will that make a difference?" Drake was now sitting close to her.


"A day. I promise. Ill face everything tomorrow."


"You'll call me if you need me?" He asked.


She nodded and the tears fell. She covered her face with her hands and her body shook with sobs. Drake moved forward and pulled her into a hug. She sobbed in his arms and he just held her, allowing her to let go without actually doing so. She was letting go of her current emotions but she was still holding in everything else- once she let go of that, he didn't know what would happen to her... But eventually, tomorrow in fact if she stuck to her promise, they would find out.


* * *


"Draco, what's the current situation in our company? I've been gone for a month and I know exactly how much can change even in such little time", Lucius Malfoy said, leaning back in his chair at the dining table.


"Draco?" He tried again. His son was sitting in his seat, twirling his fork around with his fingers and staring absentmindedly at the black marble table with an empty kind of intensity.


"Love?" Narcissa reached forward and touched her son's hand, jerking him back to the present.


"Are you alright?" Lucius asked, knowing what his answer was going to be.


"Yes, I'm fine." Draco said, looking at his father.


Lies. Again.


Lucius sighed. "Why dont you speak with her?"


Draco's eyes widened and Narcissa dropped her knife on to her plate with a clank that echoed around the room. Draco had known that his parents were itching to speak about her but they never did. The fact that his father had actually said it today came as a surprise. To all of them. Draco had expected, if anyone, for it to be his mother who approached the topic finally. Narcissa just hadn't expected her husband to speak about it at all and Lucius, well, Lucius had grown tired of avoiding the topic but had surprised himself all the same by blurting out the words without thinking.


"The company will be needing you to go over some development schemes we have planned out", Draco said, turning to gaze at his plate.


"How long are you going to be like this?" Lucius asked.


"I don't know what you're talking about", Draco shrugged.


"Its been six months and you still get lost in your own bloody world at times".


"Everyone does it. Escaping into your own world is only natural."


"Why do you need to escape?" It was his mother who spoke in her soft, gentle voice this time. He looked up at her.


"Because sometimes it's difficult living my reality", He answered, knowing it was futile to lie to either of his parents.


"Have you spoken to Blaise or met Pansy or Hayley?" She asked, concern laced in her voice.


"I have."


"What did they say?"


"They escape too."


Silence.


"You know, no matter what we've gone through- we all have one thing in common", Draco said, breaking the silence after a total of one minute and forty four seconds.


"What's that?" Narcissa was almost afraid to ask.


"We've all lost our reasons to live."


* * *


----------------------------

So, that's done :D TRTL chapter one is officially out and complete. Im glad that Im finally back with this series but I can't promise that these updates will be as fast as TOR's. TOR is The Other Reality, my other story. I'll try doing alternate chapters but TOR might have more coming out as there are more readers in that one as of now. BUT I won't stop writing :) I hope you enjoyed this one and please please please review! That box down there is hungry for reviews ;)

Love always,
FeltonLewis xx


Chapter 2: Exhausted
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Chapter 2: Exhausted.


Hello Readers :) Welcome back to TRTL and I was quite happy with the reviews I got. I'd like to thank Shelli, Dramione Dreams, granger_ , Harry and Ginny, Amy (both of you) , Dramione_4_ever , Slytherin_badgirlxx for starting off my story with your reviews- really guys, thanks so much :) The story is going to be a little slow at first- working on all heir emotions before actually taking off properly. I'm thinking of changing the format to a songfic but I'm not so sure. For TOR readers- chapter 15 is out ;)

Enjoy this one xx


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"I wish I could rip out a page of my memory
'Cause I put to much energy in him and me
Can't wait till I get through this phase 'cause it's killing me
Too bad we can't rewrite our own history"

-Energy, Keri Hilson.


"Hermione, love, could you pass me the pudding, please?" Molly Weasley asked the 35 year old brunette witch seated a few places down the dining table from her. 


"Hermione", Ginny said, leaning forward and trying to get her best friend's attention but Hermione just stared off into space, an empty look in her eyes.


Pansy reached out from beside Ginny and touched the woman's hand and Hermione jumped, startled.


"Im sorry!" She apologized, her voice hoarse. She cleared it and said, "You were saying?"


Everyone looked either down at the table or at her, concerned expressions on their faces.


"Mum wanted the pudding", Ron said from beside her. 


"Oh, of course, Im sorry, Molly", Hermione said, plastering a smile onto her face and passing the pudding dish to the older woman.


"That's okay, dear", Molly said, waving her hand in dismissal of her apology. She wanted to ask Hermione if she was alright but she knew that she wouldn't appreciate it and so waited for after dinner. Judging by the others' expression, she knew that they wanted to ask her too.


"I think Pansy and I should be heading home, Molly. Thank you for having us over", Hayley said, smiling. "It really is nice to... feel at home somewhere."  Ever since the last battle, the ex-slytherins would come over for dinner every friday with the Weasleys and Potters. All, except, of course, Draco. If he came, Hermione wouldn't and if she did- which was more often than not- he didn't show up, saying that he wished to spend time with his parents. Excuses... everyone saw throughout them. Estelle Parkinson was wasting herself away, almost completely into depression. She was living with the Zabini's, who though distraught over their daughter-in-law's death, could take care of someone better than any of the others could. Pansy lived with her sister in her and Will's apartment and Blaise was living with Draco, refusing to step into the house he shared with Violet any more than completely necessary. Ron and Hermione were living in their old flat, having fixed it after the death-eater raid that had occurred more than six months ago. Neville Longbottom now stayed with Luna Lovegood in her flat above the Three Broomsticks, which she still ran and Neville taught Herbology at Hogwarts. He had been broken after Hannah Abbott's death and Luna had been the one who had helped fix him up. Like the others, he was still healing but Luna, for him, eased the pain greatly. 


"Don't be silly, Hayley- you're all welcome here at any time you want. You know that!" Molly said, returning the black haired witch's smile. 


"I'll drop you home", Ron said, standing up and placing his napkin on the table. "You'll be okay, 'Mione?"


"Of course", Hermione said, forcing herself to smile again. After exchanging hugs and goodbyes, Ron lead the two outside to the apparition point. 


"Blaise, care to join me for a drink outside? I have a few things to discuss with you about work", Harry said, looking at the man sitting opposite him. Blaise nodded and stood up, thanked Molly and stepped out with Harry. Luna and Neville left after them and Arthur, realizing that the three women needed some privacy, left too.


"Let's clean up", Ginny said, beginning to collect the dishes and magicking them to the sink. Hermione gave her a hand with the dishes while Molly cleaned up the food and table.


"Hermione, how are you?" She asked softly.


'"I'm alright", Hermione said, not looking at either of the Weasleys.


"Hermione, really. Please don't lie to us. It's been six months and you're still staring off into nothingness every time we see you. It doesn't take a genius to know that you aren't okay... and we're your family", Ginny said, placing her hand on her best friend's shoulder.


"I really am okay. Just stressed out from work", Hermione said, stepping away and towards the sinks.


"You can talk to us, you know that right?" Molly asked, worried for the woman she considered her daughter. Hermione nodded.


"We know it's because of Draco that-"


Hermione froze and there was a sudden change in the atmosphere. Tension filled the air. 


"I- Hermione, Im-" Ginny started but Hermione shook her head, facing away from them. Nobody had dared mention Draco Malfoy in the house while she was around. It was just not a done thing. The last time it had happened, which was months ago, she stood up from the dinner table, said she was tired and went home, directly going to bed. She didn't speak to anybody for the next day or two. It had become an unspoken agreement between them all after that day to never speak of him in front of Hermione.


"He doesn't matter." She choked out, fighting the pricking at the back of her eyes. It had been six months yet...


She took a deep breathe and said, "Im over it."


"It's understandable if you're not", Ginny said quietly, "What happened between you both is not something you can-"


"I didn't come here to listen to speeches!" Hermine snapped, spinning around and pointing her index finger at her. "Im over it and nothing happened between us, do you hear me? Nothing!"


Ginny took a step behind, knowing she had made a mistake. Taken a wrong step. But it was about bloody time somebody spoke to her about it.


"Im sorry", Hermione said, her voice soft and her shoulders slumping in defeat. "Im just tired and I don't want to discuss- Im just tired." Ginny moved forward and gathered her in her arms and hugged her tightly.


"Im sorry too. Go home and take some rest. We'll finish up here." She said, pulling back and looking at her. 


Hermione collected her purse and went to the apparition point, passing Blaise and Harry on the way and waving to them. She would have preferred flooing home but since the Weasley's floo network was rather inconveniently under repair, she was forced to apparate. She reached home, got ready for bed and lay down almost immediately after. She forced all her thoughts out of her head as she had been doing so for the past six months. It had become routine by now and she did it easily enough. She couldn't afford to think about anything... anyone... She closed her eyes and allowed her exhaustion to overcome her. She was exhausted from keeping emotions bottled up. Exhausted from ignoring things. Ignoring people. Exhausted from trying to hard not give up on things. Exhausted from faking smiles and forcing laughs. 

Just so exhausted.


* * *


"Goognight, Hayley", Ron said, nodding at the younger witch. She smiled at headed upstairs to her room after signaling to Pansy that she was there if she needed her. Ron looked at the tired witch in front of him. Her eyes had dark circles around them and her hair was limp, her shoulders slumped. Her entire pureblood upbringing of always being prim and proper and elegant had gone down the drain the day she woke up in St.Mungo's unable to hear or speak. 


They just stared at each other for forty eight long seconds. Finally, she closed her eyes and rubbed her face tiredly with her hands. He stepped forward and placed his hand on her shoulder lightly. She looked up from her hands and just looked sadly at him. He knew how completely drained she was. Having lost the two things she loved doing- speaking and hearing people speak gave her so much more time to think about life in general. It made her think more about Will, it made her think more about her father and though she couldn't bare to think about what her daughter must be going through, she was forced to. She was just completely exhausted. There was times when she didn't feel like living at all. Her reasons to live had been snatched right away. But then things, people reminded her that she had to keep living. Hayley, Blaise, Draco, Stacey, Ron, Hermione, the children, her mother. And she knew that even though the Weasleys had known her for only six months, they considered her family. They wouldnt let her do anything to herself either.

But she was just so... just so exhausted.


* * *


- 25th February, Saturday-


Pansy's eyes fluttered open, waking up from the little sleep that she had finally gotten at three in the morning. She had resorted to using Sleeping draught but even that didn't seem to work anymore... She got off the bed and brushing past the side table, was about to head to the bathroom when the button on the side of her shorts got caught with the cotton mat on her bedside table, successfully pulling it off the surface, bringing it's entire content crashing to the floor. She swore in her head as the lamp smashed against the floor as did a glass of water, her watch and a book and a photo frame. She closed her eyes, frustrated at herself. She was never so clumsy...


A hand touched her shoulder and she jumped, spinning around. Hayley stood there in her purple nightgown, her eyes sleepy and her hair tied loosely into a braid. Her mouth was open and her eyes held concern for her sister. Her eyes were trained on the mess on the floor.


Of course... Just because she couldn't hear, didn't mean the rest of the world couldn't...


Hayley pointed her wand at the broken and fallen objects and they repaired instantly, coming back to sit on the table on the mat which she had untangled from her sister's shorts and placed back. 


"Are you okay?" She mouthed to Pansy. The fact that the older witch had outright refused to learn sign language had made things all the more difficult. 


Pansy took a deep breathe and nodded, sitting back down on the edge of the bed, her head in her hands. She felt the bed dip beside her and Hayley put her arm around her shoulders. She felt tears prick the back of her eyes and this time, she couldn't hold it in. She only ever cried in front of Ginny surprisingly. The others- Draco, Blaise, Hayley, Hermione, Ron- they all just had too much to deal with on their own. They didn't need the burden of her issues on their shoulders too. 


Hayley pulled her into a hug and held her tightly while her sister sobbed. They were all tired. They had lost so much. But everyone knew for a fact that Pansy had lost something she would never get back. Love could come back, hearts could be mended, lives could be repaired. But her? She had lost something she NEEDED permanently. She could no longer listen to the rain, she could no longer listen to heels click against the sidewalk, she could no longer hear someone tell her that they loved her, she could no longer say it back, she could no longer do anything like a normal person. And she would never be able to either...


* * * 


"Sir, Mister Harry Potter is at the door, Sir, can Dwinkee let him inside?" A house-elf asked, bowing to Draco, who was slightly taken aback- why would Potter be at his house on a Saturday morning?


"Yes, Dwinkee, let him inside- ask him to come here please", Draco said, sitting at the edge of his desk in his study. A few seconds later, hair messy and green eyes shining behind his round glasses, Harry Potter entered his study.


"To what do I owe this pleasure, Potter?" Draco asked in a bored drawl.


"You work under the Department of Mysteries, am I correct? Now that your father is back and will be taking over your company again, you will be required to return?" Harry asked, standing in front of him, a beige file in his hands. Though Draco had a company under his family name, he preferred working in the Ministry with Blaise, only returning to his own when his father was too busy to handle things himself.


"Yes, that is correct", Draco said, his eyebrows raised. "Why? Is there a problem? Am I being fired for being an ex-death-eater?" It had happened before.


"On the contrary, Im here to offer you a job higher up in the Ministry", Harry said, handing him the file. Eyebrows furrowed, the white-blonde haired man opened the file and scanned the first page.


"The Auror Department?" He asked, looking up at the boy-who-lived-several-times.


Harry nodded. "Ive heard that you have wanted to join the department for a while now."


"Who told you-" Draco started to ask but found that he already knew the answer, "-Blaise."


"Yes. Well, after the last battle, there are several people who were quite impressed by your performance and loyalty to our side and so I realized that there was no better chance than now to-"


"Look, Potter, I don't need you to go around job-hunting for me", Draco said bitterly.


"Neither do I want to", Harry said, as calm as the other man was bitter. "I was told that there was a job opening in the third level of the Auror Department and thought I should let you know. I was asked by the Department head if I knew anybody who would be suitable and I gave your name in." Draco was about to interrupt but Harry shook his head, "Im not doing you any favors, Malfoy. Blaise was there with me and he asked me to give your name in." White-lies couldn't hurt, he thought.


"If you want the job, all you have to do is sign your name", He gestured to the file, "and send it back to the Ministry and you've got it, regardless of who else is in line. The pay is higher, it's more field work than the Department of Mysteries and you'll be included in more. So it's your decision. If you don't want to take it, you can thrash the file. Your call." He shrugged.


Draco looked down at the file once more and sighed. "I appreciate the offer."


"But?"


"But I'll have to think about it."


"Fair enough. Just know that it is a very good position and if you agree, they won't reject you."


Draco nodded slowly and looked back up at him. "Thanks." As much as he hated thanking the blithering fool in front of him, he had to. This wasn't an easy job to get at all. Especially not for an ex-death-eater.


Harry nodded and left the study, knowing that Draco would not refuse the job. And knowing that what he had just done would upset the nature of the past six months.


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So that's done (: Thank you for reading and the dates and days are going to keep being there so that things are easier for both me and you all :P 

Please please review, it would be great if you did :) 

Love always,
FeltonLewis xx

Chapter 3: Letting Go
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

TRTL 3: Letting Go


A/N: for those of you who cry during emotional scenes, Id suggest sitting with a box of tissues for this chapter during the letting go part! Enjoy xx

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"I'll be in every beat of your heart when you face the unknown
Wherever you fly this isn't goodbye
My love will follow you, stay with you
Baby, you're never alone."

-Never Alone, Lady Antebellum.


-25th February, Saturday-


Lysander Lovegood walked into the Library at 6:30 and headed straight to the seventh aisle on his left. As he expected, she was already sitting there at their table, her black hair collected over one shoulder and her eyes almost drooping shut while she stared at the textbook in front of her. He went to the table and sat down opposite her. She didn't even look up.


He pulled out his Potions textbook and some parchment and began his essay on Werewolves that was due on monday. They sat in silence, she a little more awake than before. She revised her notes a few times before putting her book into her bag and bringing out a muggle story book that Hermione (who insisted on not being called Aunt) had sent her a few weeks ago. It was called "Pride and Prejudice" and she was yet to start reading it.


Neither said a word for an hour until finally, Lysander opened his mouth to continue his story from before.


"It was only a week later that I found out that there was someone who actually wanted me." Stacey put her book down on the table and rested her chin on her folded arms on the table, her eyes trained on the wooden surface. "She came in. Her blonde hair a shade lighter than mine, her eyes blue while mine were brown. She could have passed off as a relative and I didn't know that she was here to get me. To be completely honest, I had given up hope. I had learnt how to be alone." It had taken Stacey two days of listening to realize that he had been telling her, quite literally, his story. His life. From how his biological mother had tried killing him because he could do things normal people couldn't to how his father had grabbed him and left him at an orphanage to the many families that had attempted taking care of him. Attempted being the key word- they had all left him back at the orphanage. Every single on of them. And he was only nine.


"And then she looked at me, her eyes soft and... and magical. She knelt down in front of me and looked at me and said "You're not alone" and I stood up. For the first time in so long, I moved my tired muscles and rose to my feet. She was smiling at me. And at that point, something surged through my veins that I had not felt in five years since I had been put into that orphanage and probably before that. It was hope. I realized that you can never be alone. That there's always someone who will take care of you and love you. Someone to always give you hope. Because even if you think so, your life isn't over."


And he fell silent once again. It was like this every alternate day. A few minutes of his story after an hour of studying and then either they'd return to their books or return to their common rooms. For the first time in six months, she looked up at him, her eyebrows furrowed. He had never spoken a single positive thing in his stories. Never. Yet today...


He had a knowing look in his eyes. He had never pushed her to speak. Never pushed her to do anything. He had always just wanted her to listen. And today she finally realized why. Somehow his timeline had worked out perfectly- somehow the day he had decided to tell her that there was hope was the very day that she had promised to come to terms with her life. He had known somehow. And she was grateful.


She nodded and placing her book into her bag, she stood up. She was walking away from the table when he stopped her.


"Parkinson". She froze, her eyes wide. He had never called her name. It was just never done. She turned around slowly.


"I usually go to the Astronomy Tower to let go". He had never said anything to her except her story. Never spoken to her other than about his past. The fact that today things had changed... did it mean something? Did they finally "stand" somewhere in terms of knowing each other now? Were they acquaintances? Not friends surely...


She nodded, turned and left. Lysander went back to his work. He would give her some time before calling her friends.


* * *

Drake was pacing the corridor outside the Great Hall, racking his brains as to where Stacey could have gone. She wasn't at dinner, nor was she with any of the others, nor in the library and nor at any of the common rooms or with any professor. He was about to make his way towards Hagrid's hut when he noticed a figure strolling towards the great hall. Dirty blonde hair and brown eyes.


He hurried up to the boy and grabbed him by the collar and shoved him up against the wall.


"Where the hell is she?" He growled.


"I presume you mean Stacey?" Lysander asked calmly.


"Tell me where she is", Drake spat, knowing for a fact that Lysander would be aware of where she was. It was so typical of Stacey to tell the Ravenclaw and not her best friend.


"Astronomy Tower", Lysander said calmly. "Do let go of me." Drake let go of his collar and began sprinting towards the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. Sighing, Lysander followed after him.


* * *


"Scorpius Malfoy!" A voice called from behind them, causing said boy and his best friend, Albus to turn around. A girl their age was running towards them, her blonde hair flying behind her and her blue eyes sparkling. She reached them and leaned over with her hands on her knees, panting.


"Matilda?" Albus asked, a little amused at how flushed she looked after running. Matlida Lovegood wasn't exactly the type who you would see sprinting down the corridor.


"Hello, Albus", She said, straightening out and smoothening out her skirt. "You really must learn to walk a little slowly." The two boys stifled their laughs. "Im serious! Nargles hate people who walk quickly!" And they burst out laughing.


Matilda rolled her eyes and said, "Someday you will learn. Anyway, Scorpius- Stacey is in the Astronomy Tower. If Im not wrong, Drake is already on his way."


"Why is she there?" Scorpius asked, growing tense. Was she-? She wouldn't...


"She's not there to hurt herself, Scorpius", Matilda shook her head, reading his expression and knowing what he was thinking. "I don't know why she's there but Lysander told me to tell you as soon as I could to go up there and that she would need you."


"Thanks, Matilda." Scorpius nodded. He turned to the boy beside him and said, "Ill see you later, okay? I need to be there for Stace."


"Of course", Albus nodded. The young Malfoy hurried away in the direction of the Astronomy tower before Albus turned to the girl standing there. "Thank you for telling us."


"How could I not? Im not cruel, Albus." Matilda said. She looked down at her feet and he looked anywhere but at her. Things had become a little awkward every since a few months ago when Albus had admitted that he liked her and she had said that she didn't feel the same way. The rejection had stung and their friendship had become strained with them speaking only when completely necessary.


"Matilda..." He started but didn't know how to continue. He wanted to speak to her about everything that had happened. He needed to tell her that he hated how they had become. That he still wanted to be friends.


"Albus, Im sorry", Matilda said, looking up at him. His eyes widened.


"Why are you sorry?" He asked.


"I... Things have become so different. I hate how we've become", She said, her eyes sad. "I didn't mean for our friendship to be affected so badly..."


"Neither did I", He shook his head. "Im sorry too."


"Why are you sorry?" She asked, a little confused.


"For-"


"Telling me?" She completed, looking into his blue eyes. He nodded, running a hand through his black hair.


"Albus, you don't have to be sorry for that", Matilda said. "I mean, yes it messed things up a little but it's not your fault. So please don't apologize. In fact, I don't think either of us are at fault here."


"I miss talking to you", Albus admitted softly.


"I miss talking to you too", Matilda said, looking back down at her feet. Before Albus could say something, to tell her that he just wanted to go back to normal where they were before everything, a group of laughing girls came running up to them.


"Matilda, come on! We're planning on having a..." The girl speaking trailed off, looking between two they had just walked in on. "Oh. Sorry, did we- uh- interrupt something?"


"N-no... You were saying?" Matilda asked, looking back at the girl.


"We were having a sleepover with some of the girls from other houses", She said. "You're joining, right?"


"Yes, of course", Matilda said, her mind not at all on her group of friends. She looked at Albus and opened her mouth to speak but he spoke before she could.


"Ill see you later, Mil", He said, using the nickname he used to call her. "Have fun." Hands in his pocket, he turned around and walked away, turning the nearest corner. Matilda stared after him and let her eyes linger on the area he had disappeared for a few seconds before turning back to her friends, who were looking at her quietly.


"Let's go", She said, smiling sadly. Her friend flung her arm around her shoulders and the group walked towards the Ravenclaw common room, oblivious of the fact that Albus had slid down the wall of the corridor he was in, holding his head in his hand. Oblivious that a few storeys higher, a black haired witch was crying her heart and soul out, finally Letting Go.


* * *

She stood there, her hands resting on the banister of the railing circling the Astronomy tower, her hair flying in all directions because of the strong winds blowing her way, her eyes ready for the tears and her mind and heart about to let go.


Stacey closed her eyes. She would do this step by step. One event after the other.


Starting with William Rankson. Her father. Who had died protecting her mother. Who had died protecting their family, though indirectly. He had always been her hero. But... he was gone. He had died bravely, Aunty Hayley had said. He had made sure her mother wasn't forced to resort to her old ways... It wasn't a secret that she, Uncle Draco and Uncle Blaise were the youngest death-eaters during the war. But they had changed. And they had proved themselves. That's all that counted. Her father had accepted her mother and her mother's friends when no one else was. And he was Muggleborn- the people who hated them the most for what they had done to their kind. But he had accepted her. He had loved her. He had given Stacey her life. He was bloody perfect. And he was gone.


He wouldn't be there to see her pass her third year. He wouldn't be there to see her in her first dance dress. He wouldn't be there to punch the boy who hurt her. He wouldn't be there to shout at her if she got detention. He wouldn't be there to-


She choked back a sob, tears rising to her eyes.


He wouldn't be there to celebrate a single Christmas with her again. He wouldn't be there to pick her up and spin her in circles when she graduated. He wouldn't be there when she introduced her first boyfriend to him. He wouldn't be there to threaten him after that and give him a good talk. He wouldn't be there when she told him that she would be getting engaged. He wouldn't be there to hear that she got a job. He wouldn't-


A sob tore through her throat and she clung tightly to the railing, her knuckles turning white and her eyes squeezed shut, tears spilling out beneath her lids and down her cheeks.


He wouldn't be there to walk her down the aisle. He wouldn't be there to hold her tightly and tell her that everything was going to be okay when all she wanted to do was cry. He wouldn't be there to tell her that she'd make a great mother when she was fretting over her pregnancy.


Her body shook and her knees felt like they were going to buck. She opened her mouth and allowed herself to release a pained wail.


He wouldn't be there to hold her first child. He wouldn't be there to tell her how the baby got it's good looks from him. He wouldn't be there to tell her that he and her mother were there for her no matter what happened. He...


She collapsed to the floor, her body shaking with sobs.


He just wasn't going to be there. For anything. He was gone... He wasn't coming back. She never had a chance to tell him that she loved him and she never would have one... She would never be able to hear him tell her that he loved her.


Ever again.


Her mother.... Its not like she'd ever be able to hear her again. No, she would never hear her mother's voice. And her mother would never hear her voice either. Her mother wouldn't hear anybody's voice ever again...


Her mother would write to her once a week, assuring her that everything was alright and that she was doing well.


Lies. Every single letter.


How dense did she think she was?! She KNEW that her mother was crying every night. She KNEW that her mother hated life right now. She KNEW that her mother wanted to bloody give up on life.


Why wouldn't she after all?


Heels clicking against the sidewalk. It was one of her mother's favorite sounds in the world. Where ever they went, she'd put on a pair of heels just so that she could listen to them click. So often that it annoyed Stacey and her father to no end. But now...?


Now her father wouldn't get annoyed. Her mother wouldn't be able to listen to it. And her? What about her?


She opened her eyes and stared out at the outline of the forbidden forest and the blurred shape of Hagrid's Hut and the dark fields illuminated by the full moon through her tears. Her breaths were coming out in gasps.


She felt so useless... Why wouldn't her mother just let her in? Why wouldn't she just let her try to be with her? She was being pushed away and there was nothing she could do about it. Nothing she could say about it because whatever she said would go unheard. Quite literally. She had already lost her father and her mother was losing herself... What was she supposed to do? She had so often tried to write to her, begging to just come see her and just try speaking with her no matter how difficult the process of communication would be.


She just wanted to talk to her mother. Be with her mother, at least. To feel loved again. To feel like she actually had a family again. Because, right then, it was the last thing she felt like she had.


She couldn't go to her mother's parents. Her grandfather was dead. Killed. Murdered. Just like her father.


Her eyes closed again and she hugged her stomach, grasping at the sides of her shirt, her nails coming to dig into her palms through the material.


He had died and she hadn't had a chance to say goodbye. To any of them. Her grandmother was slowly losing her mind because of all the deaths, especially Leander's and nobody was doing anything about it! Why? Because they couldn't. Why? Because everyone was giving up hope.


They had all lost their reasons to live. And there was not a thing anybody could do.


She had lost her father. She was halfway through losing her mother. She had lost her grandfather. She was halfway through losing her grandmother.


She was tired. Weak. Angry. Upset. Scared.


Tired because there was only so much you can take before breaking. Weak because there was only so much you could do before your strength died out. Angry because there was only so much you could face before beginning to think that you're too useless to help. Upset because there was only so much you could experience before you felt like you could no longer go on. Scared because there was only so much you could handle at once while you know that you need to be able to handle more.


And she felt alone because-


She jumped as a hand touched her shoulder. Her eyes flew open but she didn't move. She couldn't. She was too exhausted. Instead, she just moved to the left and slumped against the wall there, resting her forehead against the cool railing in front of her. What was she saying before she was interrupted? Oh yes. She felt alone because no matter how-


A hand tucked her hair behind her ear and she sighed. She turned to her right and stared into dark brown eyes. Of course he would come.


Drake knelt down beside her.


"I let go", She choked out, for the first time speaking before being asked to.


"I know", He whispered.


"They're gone. They're not coming back." Stacey said, her voice shaking and tears streaming down her cheeks.


"They're not", He shook his head. "But they'll always be with you." She looked at him, a little confused and he smiled, taking her hand in his and placing her opened palm over her heart. "In here."


Somebody else sat down next to them and pointed their wand at the star-filled sky.


"Draco Constellateus", His smooth voice said. Stacey watched open mouthed and tears momentarily forgotten as a constellation that she recognized as Draco appeared in the sky, the stars looking brighter than ever.


She turned to the person who had cast the spell and looked into stormy blue eyes.


"Your mother taught it to my dad and he showed it to me a few months ago", Scorpius said, taking her other hand in his. "He told me that everyone whose left us is up there and constellations mean they're not alone. Rather, they're giving us signs on what we should be- together and shining. Did that make sense?" Stacey nodded and the next second she had put her arms around Scorpius and was hugging him.


"I'm sorry for what I put you through. I'm sorry I was so inconsiderate", She said, holding him tight.


"You better be", Scorpius teased and for the first time in months, she cracked a smile.


They felt a third pair of arms around them and Stacey shifted so she could hug both her best friends together.


"I love you both", She said, tears streaming down her cheeks once again.


"We love you too, Stace", Drake said, tightening his grip on her.


"How did you know I was here?" She asked, breaking apart after a few long seconds


Drake looked towards the entrance to the Astronomy Tower and so did Scorpius. She followed their line of vision and her eyes landed on him, leaning against the wall beside the door with his hands in his pockets, his blonde hair ruffled and his eyes trained on the trio.


"We'll see you later in the common room", Scorpius said, sensing that they needed their privacy. He kissed her on the forehead and stood up. Drake followed suit and they left the tower together, Drake brushing past Lysander a little more forcefully than necessary.


Stacey stood up, her legs a little shaky and walked towards him. He met her halfway and they just stood there for a few seconds, facing each other.


And then he spoke. "I realized that you can never be alone. That there's always someone who will take care of you and love you. Someone to always give you hope. Because even if you think so, your life isn't over."


Stacey recognized his words from earlier and just then did she realize how true they were. How they described her feelings perfectly at that moment. She had thought she was alone but Drake and Scorpius refused to let her believe so. Lysander refused to let her believe so- he had brought them to her.


She nodded, tears in her eyes. She whispered, "Thank you."


He nodded curtly and was a little taken aback when she stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek. She then moved past him, a little red in the face, to leave the tower. She froze when a hand caught her wrist lightly. She turned around to see Lysander looking at her.


"It's going to be okay, you know?" He said. She stared into his chocolate brown eyes and found herself nodding, a smile spreading across her face slowly.


She didn't know to what extent it would be okay or how long it took to be okay but she knew for a fact that these people- her friends- would never let her give up hope.


"Yeah, I know", She said. He dropped her hand and buried his hands back into his pockets and turned away from her, facing the night sky. Her gaze lingered on him for a few seconds before she turned and walked out of the tower.


Lysander walked over to the railing and leaned against it, his fingers wrapping around the cold metal. In the eyes of everybody else, he had always been the cool, calm and reserved person who didn't fit in with anybody else and didn't even try, who didn't have friends and didn't want to make any either, who cared only for himself. He didn't bother trying to prove them wrong. Who were they to judge him? They just thought they knew him.


But they didn't. And he didn't want them to either.


* * * * * *


Far away from the unplottable Hogwarts, Blaise Zabini pushed the iron gates of a cemetery he had apparated to open. The smell of fresh flowers wafted to his nose as made his way through the gardens where they had buried Violet, Leander, Will and a short distance away, Astoria. Draco had refused at first to put her with the others but Pansy had firmly shaken her head against his decision and made sure that Astoria was placed with her husband, her best friend and her father. She had been part of their family at one point and though she had made a mistake, she had tried to fix it in the last few moments of her life. And for that, Stacey made sure she was not separated from them.


The cemetery was in a private park that the Malfoys had bought a long time ago and they decided it was a perfect place as it was far from gloomy and thats where they would have wanted to be kept.


Blaise halted when he saw a figure hunched in front of Violet's stone tomb already. The figure's black hair had been tied into a braid and she was dressed in black dress robes. Her body was shaking and her hands were gripping the edge of the stone.


"Why did you have to leave?" The figure choked out as Blaise walked closer to her. "You know how difficult things have become for everybody? I can't take this anymore, Why did you leave me, Violet?!" She began sobbing into her hands and Blaise moved towards her. She seemed to have heard him as she froze where she was. She lifted her head and turned around.


"Hayle", Blaise choked out.


Hayley stood up, wiping at her face hastily with the back of her hand.


"Sorry, I-I didn't know you-you were coming here", She said in a soft, cracked voice.


"It's okay... How are you?" He asked.


"How are you?" She countered.


Blaise didn't answer and she shrugged in a way that said 'Exactly'.


"Take care, Blaise", She said, walking past him. He stood there for a few seconds, his eyes closed, before turning around and calling her name. She stopped and looked over her shoulder.


"You too."


She nodded curtly before pushing the iron gates open and walking away.


Blaise sighed, releasing a shaky breath. He walked up to Violet's stone and knelt down beside it, placing the white rose he had brought at the foot of the stone.


"She's right, you know", He whispered. "You shouldn't have left us. It could have been me... Just not you". He bit down hard on his lower lip and willed his tears not to fall. It was just too much to take... Especially with the knowledge that it was him who was supposed to die, not her...


* * *



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Hey guys :)
I know it's still going slow but trust me, it WILL pick up- I just don't want to take it quickly because then the emotions would be rushed and not that effective and then it would get boring and you would stop reading which would be the last thing i want- no, it wouldn't even be the last!
Okay so, it's going to pick up as i said- it will from the end of the next chapter and then from then onwards you can expect action and adventure and romance and tension and aifnfeiucmeruoin it'll be good i promise ;)
Thank you SO SO much for reading and reviewing and i love you guys :)
A small special mention to Shelli, Dramione_4_ever, granger_ , Arianna21, Lilly Luna, Harry and Ginny, DramioneDreams for the last chapters' reviews ;)

oh and ps- Im going to build Lysander into an AMAZING character ;)
Love always,
FeltonLewis xx


Chapter 4: And Then
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Their Reason To Live chapter 4:



Welcome back to TRTL :) Im so sorry for the late delay but you can read about that in the A/N. Enjoy for now xx


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"And suddenly I become a part of your past
I'm becoming the part that don't last
I'm losing you and it's effortless
Without a sound we lose sight of the ground"

-Over My Head, The Fray


27th February, Monday


Hermione put her plate in the sink and turned towards Ron.


"Are you going to floo with me?" She asked him. "Or will you be meeting Pansy first?"


"I think I'll be meeting Pansy first so you go ahead", Ron answered, draining his coffee and putting the glass down.


"I'll see you later then", She smiled at him. She kissed him on top of his head and headed towards the fireplace, grabbing her bag from the coffee table on the way. Hermione did her best to treat Ron best she could, avoiding any awkward moment possible. The best way she knew how to was by pretending he was just her best friend and treating him as that.


She knew she'd never be able to treat him as more. So she didn't even try. Why fool herself when she knew the inevitable truth?


She threw the floo powder into the grate and disappeared, green flames engulfing her. Ron watched her go before standing up and cleaning up the kitchen. With magic, of course.


He brushed some toast crumbs from his black shirt and slung his Ministry robes over his shoulder before stepping into the fireplace and calling out Pansy's residence.


He stepped out and the first thing he saw was Hayley jumping two feet into the air.


"Ron, you scared me! I was just about to floo to St.Mungo's", She said, straightening her hair out.


"Didnt your work start half an hour ago?" Ron asked, checking his watch.


"They've been allowing me later and later mornings ever since the accident and plus Pansy went for a shower late today so I had to wait a little bit extra", She explained.


"Ah, is she alright?"


"She's the same as ever. You can see that she barely sleeps at night. I think she stays up trying to remember how things and people sound." Hayley's voice was filled with sadness. "Anyway, Ive to go. Thanks for waiting till Blaise get's here." She patted Ron on his arm, stepped around him and flooed away.


Just then, Pansy came walking down the stairs and upon seeing Ron, a smile spread across her face. She waved at him and opened her mouth to say something but she choked on her words before realizing she couldn't say it. It had been six months yet she wasn't used to this... This incapability.


Ron flopped down on the sofa and patted the place beside him. She sat down next to him and both leaned their heads back and just sat there. Obviously in silence. His hand found her's and he held on tightly, giving her his silent support. Because words of comfort would be of no use.


* * *


"I don't know whether what you did will have bad results or good", Ginny said, fixing Harry's collar unnecessarily.


"Only time will tell", Harry said, taking her hands in his.


"Time. Harry, it's been six months and there has been no change since the fight. We're exactly where we were. It's like the very time we're waiting for to come into action has stood still." Ginny said, looking into her husband's eyes sadly. "How much more time will it take?"


"I wish I knew, Gin", He said, leaning his head against her's. "I really wish I knew but I don't. We can only wait and see."


"Hopefully there'll be a change because of what you did", Ginny said, extracting herself from Harry. She kissed him quickly and went to the fireplace. "That is if he accepted."


"It would be impossible for him to accept such an offer. Trust me, he accepted", Harry said.


"Then hopefully there'll be a change. See you after work." Ginny said and then called, "St.Mungo's" with which she disappeared in green flames.


* * *


Ron nodded at Blaise before flooing away. Blaise looked over at Pansy and grinned at her, holding up a DVD. She pointed to her ears and shook her head, a little hurt that Blaise would bring something like a movie to watch with her.


His smile grew wider and he came to stand in front of her. He held out the cover and pointed at a line at the bottom of it. She looked up at him and smiled. It had said "With English Subtitles." And she also saw that it was a movie in a language neither of them knew, meaning that he wouldn't be able to understand the speech either- like her, he would have to read the subtitles.


Blaise inserted the CD into the player and sat beside her as it began playing. He would come over whenever he could and do something with her- either play some game or learn how to cook or anything that she would be able to do without needing her listening or speaking abilities.


Just before the credits began, she patted his arm and he turned to her. She smiled and mouthed "Thank you."


* * *


Stacey slid into the seat beside Scorpius.


"Hello there", He smiled at her.


The others at the table stopped whatever they were doing and unconciously held their breathes.


"Hey", She said, returning his smile. They all released their breathes and smiled even if she wasn't looking at them.


"How are you holding up?" Drake asked, taking her hand from across the table and squeezing it.


"I'm... holding up", She answered softly. But at least she had answered. That, for them, right now, was good enough. They had been worried when she hadn't met them the previous day, preferring to stay cooped up in the Library or in her room.


"How did your little heart-to-heart with Lysander go?" Drake asked and his voice had the usual sharp edge to it every time he spoke about the Ravenclaw.


"Drake", Scorpius said in a warning tone.


"I dont see why you have a problem with him", Stacey said, looking at him, her eyebrows furrowed together.


"I dont."


"Yes you bloody well do", Stacey argued. "And it needs to stop. He's my... friend."


"You don't sound so confident about that."


She huffed in frustration and stood up, grabbing an apple. "Let me know when you decide to be a little mature and act your age. You need to accept that Lysander is my friend and nothing will change that." She smiled at Scorpius and Albus, who were watching their exchange. They smiled back at her, albeit a little weakly, and she left the hall, oblivious to the pair of brown eyes watching her from the end of the Ravenclaw table.



* * * *



"Good morning", Hermione's friend at work, Irene, greeted her, smiling softly. She had black short hair with the front section of it dyed dark blue and a slim figure, only about a few centimeters taller than Hermione. She had bright midnight blue eyes that beautifully matched her streaked hair and she was dressed in a semi-formal white button up shirt with black jeans.


" 'Morning, Irene", Hermione smiled at her. "How's Jack doing?" The fact that Irene hadn't slept properly in a month due to her two month old son was evident in her eyes.


"Being a single mother is far from easy", Irene said, her smile dropping for a few seconds. "It's so difficult. And if it wasn't for mum, I don't know how I'd be able to work enough to earn for the two of us. I hate leaving him every morning but I have to. I still don't know how to thank you enough, Hermione. I know if I was in any other department, I would've been kicked off for the late mornings and early leaving."


"Don't be silly, Irene. You're a phenomenal addition to my team and I wouldn't let you go for anything. You work so hard and I admire you for being so strong right now", Hermione said, being completely honest. Irene was one of the best she had in her team.


"Thank you", The younger lady said, blushing a bit. "I need to get back to my work. Oh, Crane needs you in his office by the way. He told me to tell you ASAP."


Hermione nodded and after a quick goodbye and guarantee that they'd meet for lunch, she headed for the Auror Department Head's office. There were four levels in the Auror Department. She was the head of her level and Harry was the head of his- the Fourth level, the one that dealt with the most extreme and dangerous cases. The danger level and amount of field work decreased as the levels got lower. Sylvester Crane was the head of the entire Auror Department, the man who always had the final say.


She knocked on the office door and a "Come in" sounded from the other side. Hermione pushed open the door and the man at the oak desk in front of her looked up. He had greying hair and and sharp features. His eyes were forever observing and he was sometimes called "Stoneface" because of the lack of emotions he displayed. He was firm and got things done as soon as he asked for it but despite his hard front, Hermione quite liked the man. He had developed a soft spot for her over the years that she worked with him and she knew she could always pull favors from him.


"You asked for me, Sir?" She asked, coming to stand in front of the desk. The sixty-five year old man stood up, nodding.


"I did, Ms. Granger", He said, his voice strong and confident as always. She kept silent, waiting for him to elaborate as to why.


"I hear there is a free position in your department now that Mr. Jescher has left?" Hermione nodded, still amazed at how well Crane could keep track of all the people working under his department. And that was a huge number. Thirty in each department, give or take a few. That made about a hundred and twenty people and he knew all their names.


"That is correct", She confirmed.


"We received several applications for the empty post and I have selected somebody," Crane said, coming around the desk to stand in front of her. "I fear though, it might take a little while for you to get used to him." Hermione's eyebrows came together in confusion.


"I assure you, Sir, whoever it is- I should be alright with it", Hermione said confidently. Crane looked at her through his ever-calculating look.


"You do know that I consider you my daughter, do you not?" He asked and she was a little taken aback at his words. He was barely one to speak of his emotions at all. She was possible one of the only few to have experienced his soft side.


"I do, Sir", She nodded.


"Then you must know that whatever decisions I make, I make them for your department's good. For your good, am I right?" He asked, half-sitting on the edge of the desk.


"Of course but will all due respect, is there a reason for these questions? Are you- " She faltered for a second as a thought crossed her mind, before recovering, "-Sir, are you firing me?"


His eyebrows shot up for the fraction of a second before resuming it's normal place. "I am not daft."


"I- I didn't imply that, Sir!" She quickly said.


"I know you didn't. Ms.Granger, I have discussed this with other departments' heads and they find the candidate I selected quite worthy of the post."


"I'm sure he is if you selected him", Hermione said. "If you dont mind me asking, who is he?"


"I think it would be best if you saw for yourself", Crane turned around and pressed a button at the opposite end of this desk and said, "Send him in please." They waited, staring at the door for a few seconds.


And then it opened.


And then Hermione's eyes widened.


And then she could feel her breathe hitch in her throat.


And then she could feel her heart tighten painfully.


And then Draco Malfoy walked into the office.


* * * *


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Whoopssss. So that's what Harry meant when he thought he would be changing the course of the past six months. DNFIUNFIUEWNVWEIUN Draco's in Hermione's department. This cannot be good. Or can it? -.^ You'll just have to wait and see. So this chapter had relatively light content that was much less depressing and the story is only going to build up from now onwards (:

Id like to apologize for the bloody late chapter. I only just finished typing it out (25th August) and Im uploading it today. Hopefully it'll reach you all soon. Thank you all so so much for your reviews and they really encouraged me so much. I've been going through a hard time, like I said in The Other Reality and it's been taking me time to catch up with my writing again- I had a bad writer's block for a solid one or two weeks so forgive me.

Thank you all again and see you in the next chapter :)
Much Love,
FeltonLewis xx


Chapter 5: Disrupting The Nature
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hey guys :) Welcome back to Their Reason To Live after quite a long time. Im happy to be getting so many reviews already so thank you so much ^^ Without further delay, enjoy xx

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"Is it over yet?
Can I open my eyes?
Is this as hard as it gets?
Is this what it feels like to really cry?"

-Cry, Kelly Clarkson.



"I think it would be best if you saw for yourself", Crane turned around and pressed a button at the opposite end of this desk and said, "Send him in please." They waited, staring at the door for a few seconds.


And then Draco Malfoy walked into the office.


~


Hermione felt like she could no longer breathe. She had not been in the same room as him for weeks. Months.


Draco froze where he was. His mouth had fallen open, his eyes were wide. His breathing was erratic.


She found herself whispering, "No" while Draco spat- "Potter."


That brought Hermione crashing back to reality. "What the hell is going on?!" She asked, her voice almost inaudible.


"Miss Granger, this is our new recruit."


Hermione shook her head, "I don't believe this."


"Mr. Malfoy deserved the post after how he helped the Wizarding World and-" Crane was saying but she held her hand up, silencing him. Crane's eyebrows shot up. She had never shown any kind of rudeness towards him. Potter was right, this was more serious than anybody realized.


"Please, Sir. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the post. I didn't imply that." She said. Her hands had begun shaking and she clenched them together behind her back.


"Are you sure she's the head of my department?" Draco asked without thinking.


Crane raised one eyebrow, as if to ask 'Are you serious?'


He muttered an apology but then his eyes filled up with rage. "I swear I'll kill him."


"Sir, may I use your floo please?" Hermione asked, her knees growing weak. Crane nodded curtly. She stepped into the fireplace, dropped some floo powder into the hearth and called "Harry Potter's office, Auror department."


The last thing she saw before she was engulfed in green flames was Draco Malfoy running his fingers though his hair and yanking at their roots.


And the next thing she saw was Harry Potter sitting at his mahogany desk, sorting through some files. He looked up upon her entry and stood up, smiling. His smile soon disappeared, seeing the state Hermione was in. Walking towards her, his eyebrows furrowed together in worry.


"Hermione, are you-"


She raised her arm and slapped him across the face, knocking his glasses to the floor.


"Hermione-" He straightened up, blinking rapidly. "What-" His head was thrown to the side again as she slapped him once more.


"Why did you do it?" She spat, fire raging in her eyes.


"What are you-"


"Don't play innocent!" Hermione screamed. "Why did you offer him the job?"


"Hermione, I-" Harry stuttered, bending down and retrieving his glasses, "Crane asked me if I had anybody in mind and-"


"Did you or did you not have something to do with the fact that Draco Malfoy happened to walk into Crane's office as the new recruit-"


"Listen to me-"


"I'm not done." Hermione said, her voice low but menacing. "-As the new recruit for MY department? Because if you ask me, that's too much of a bloody coincidence."


"Crane asked me if I had anybody in mind-"


"There were another few posts open in other departments. Why mine? Did you have anything to do with him being sent to MY department amongst all the others?"


"Hermione, I didn't, I-"


"Shut up!" She cried, tears in her eyes. "Just shut up! Look me in the eye and swear to me that it was just all a coincidence!"


Harry looked at her, looked into her red eyes and fell silent. "I'm sorry. It isn't a coincidence. I offered him the job for your department. Hermione, I'm sorry, I-"


A 'crack' resounded through the room and this time, Harry's cheek was left with a dark red hand print on his cheek. He held his burning cheek and looked up at his best friend in shame.


"How dare you!" She screamed, glad that they were on a floor that only consisted of his office and her own and needed permission to enter even the corridor of.


Harry hung his head, knowing how much he had hurt her and knowing he needed to face the consequences.


"How dare you think you could do that to me! Do you know what you've done?!"


"I was only trying to help, I-"


"Help?" Hermione asked, her voice dropping to a whisper. "Who are you trying to help? Just because you're Harry Potter and you helped the Wizarding World, does not mean that you can ALWAYS help! How could you do this to me!"


"Youve been miserable, you've been-"


"Harry, that doesn't give you permission to interfere with my life! Not like this at any rate... You have no idea what you've done... Once someone signs a work bond with the Auror Department, there's barely a chance they can leave." She saw Harry squeezing his eyes shut. "But you knew that... Didn't you?"


He opened his eyes and looked up. Tears were streaming down her cheeks and her hands were clenched at her sides. "I'm sorry. I know what I did was wrong and I'm ready to bear with the consequences, I'm-"


Hermione shook her head slowly. "You're ready to bear with the consequences?" Harry nodded but her next sentence made his heart break. "What about me? Did you stop to think about what I'd have to face? What he'd have to face? That was a dirty, horrible thing you did. I cant believe you could do such a thing. I really can't. I didn't expect this of you."


"You know you can't keep living like this-"


"And who are you to decide that?!"


"I'm your best friend. I only want the best for you."


"And bringing... Bringing Him back into my life would be best for me?" She shut her eyes, taking a deep breath and rubbing her hands over her face tiredly. "What have you done, Harry..."


Harry stepped forward, knowing that his aching cheek was nothing compared to her aching heart. He put her arms around her but she put her palms against his chest and shoved him backwards with the little energy she had left.


"Don't you dare. Don't think a hug is going to do anything. Don't think anything is going to fix this. Just don't. I can't believe you. I just can't." She turned around and left the room and stumbled into her own office, collapsing onto the floor as soon as she shut the door behind her. And for the first time in over four months, she cried. She cried her heart and soul out.


* * *


Crane and Draco stared at each other.


"Potter made sure this happened?" Draco asked. Crane found it useless to lie.


"Potter and Zabini."


Draco clenched his jaw. Of course. So Potter hadn't been lying when he said Blaise was involved as well.


"I didn't agree to it at first. But Potter said you were good for the job."


"Good for the job." Draco repeated. "Even if I wasn't, I'm sure Potter would have convinced you to give it to me."


"I hope you know that you are bound to us by contract?"


Draco nodded. "Can I have permission to go to Potter's office?"


"I don't think I can do that."


"You can. Sir, please, I wish to speak with him urgently."


Crane stared at Draco, a little unnervingly. He had his calculating expression on his face. Draco held his gaze. Finally, Crane nodded.


"You may go in ten minutes." Crane said. That should give Granger enough time to sort out whatever she wishes to with Potter, he thought, sighing. Never in his years of working in the Ministry had he come across a situation as... Absurd as this one.


Draco waited at the door for ten minutes exact before stalking up to the fireplace and flooing to Harry's office. He was just in time to see Harry shut the door and run a hand through his hair.


He turned around and froze, seeing Draco.


"Who gave you permission to- umph", Draco grabbed his collar and shoved him backwards into the wall.


"No, Potter, the question is- who gave you permission to interfere with our lives?" Draco spat.


Harry shut his eyes. "I just got slapped thrice because of this. I think I've heard whatever you need to say already."


"Well hear it again. That was a cheap thing you did and Merlin alone knows why! You were probably trying to play hero! But get this into your damned head, Potter, you can't always be the hero! You can't always help people! And you sure as hell can't always be right! This was wrong! You crossed all the limits! What the hell are you trying to achieve through this? Youve screwed everything up!" He shoved Harry once before letting go of him. Harry coughed, trying to get his throat to work properly again before speaking.


"Listen, Malfoy, I know-"


"Save it", Draco growled before pushing the boy-who-lived aside and yanking the door open.


"Oh and Potter?" Draco said. Harry turned towards him. The blonde raised his fist and it connected with Harry's nose. His face in a sneer, he turned on his heel and walked towards the private elevators. Holding his bleeding and possibly broken nose, Harry fell into the closest chair.


* * *


Pansy and Blaise were more than startled when Hermione fell through the fireplace and collapsed onto the floor in front of it. Both leapt to their feet, abandoning their lunches and ran to her.


"Hermione, what the hell?" Blaise asked as Pansy pulled Hermione to her feet and lead her to the couch.


"How could Harry do such a thing?" Hermione sobbed, covering her face. Blaise's eyes widened, knowing immediately what exactly the brown haired witch was talking about. He looked to Pansy, who was staring at him questioningly and conjured a piece of paper and a pen. He quickly scribbled "Draco joined her department because of Harry" onto it and passed it to her. He then apparated away, with Malfoy Manor in mind.


Pansy wrapped her arms around Hermione and held her tightly while she cried.


"Why would Harry do this to me?! Why?! I cant do this! I can't face him!" She said, gasping for breath. Pansy rubbed her back, not able to hear the other woman but having a strong idea on what she was saying.


"I didn't know who else to go to", Hermione cried, clinging on to Pansy, just needing to talk even though the raven haired lady couldn't hear her. "Ginny obviously knew about this if Harry did it. And Ron is out of the question. Oh, Pansy..." She broke down into a fresh set of tears and Pansy just held her, rocking her back and forth gently. Soothingly.


* * *


"I'd like to see Ginny Potter please", Harry said, leaning against the St.Mungo's reception, a handkerchief covering his nose. After a quick identification check, she nodded.


"Of course, Mr.Potter", The lady said, standing up. "She's in her office, you can follow me." She lead him down a few corridors and stopped outside a door. Harry happened to be checking whether his nose was still bleeding when the lady turned to him.


"Oh my!" She exclaimed, "Would you like me to get a healer to fix that?" Harry almost rolled his eyes. It was a bleeding nose, for Merlin's sake! Just because he was Harry bloody Potter, he didn't need mollycoddling every second of the day. It annoyed him to great extents.


"No, I'm good, thanks. I'm meeting my wife anyway." He said. Nodding curtly at her, he pushed the door open with his free hand and shut it behind him again. Ginny and Hayley were sitting to one side at a round table, eating with chopsticks from boxes. Ginny jumped to her feet as soon as she saw the bloody handkerchief.


"What happened?!" She asked, wiping her mouth and moving to the cupboard there.


"Malfoy joined Hermione's department today", Harry said, removing the handkerchief as Ginny sat Harry down on the edge of the desk.


"Hermione did this?" Ginny asked, though not sounding surprised at all.


"Nope, this was Malfoy", Harry said. He then turned his head to the side, showing her his red, bruising cheek. Ginny gasped. "Hermione resorted to slapping."


"She slapped you? That's it?"


Harry glared at his wife. "Thrice."


"That's more like our Hermione", Ginny said, the corners of her lips twitching upwards. "But to be fair, you deserved it."


Harry allowed Ginny yo fix his nose and apply some foul-smelling cream on to his cheek, a little too roughly. "I know. But somebody had to do something."


"What exactly is going on?" Hayley asked from her place at the round table. Ginny kept the things back where they belonged and returned to her lunch opposite the younger witch.


"A post opened up in Hermione's department and Harry and Blaise spoke to the Auror department head- Crane- and asked him to take Draco. He deserved the job, yes, but also-"


"-It would give Hermione and Draco a chance to... Sort themselves out," Hayley completed, nodding. "Although that was a horrible thing to do, Harry, I understand where you're coming from. I don't support it, but it makes sense to give them a push."


"Thank you, Hayley", Harry said. "I wonder if Malfoy's gotten to Zabini yet. He knows that his best mate was involved."


"If I know them at all, Blaise would go to Draco himself," Hayley said.


"Have lunch with us?" Ginny asked, conjuring a chair beside them. Harry shrugged and joined them. Half way through the lunch, something struck him.


What would happen when Ron found out?


* * *



A few miles away, Blaise burst through the main door of Malfoy Manor. Narcissa hurried over to him, Lucius a few steps behind.


"What is going on, Blaise?! He just came home and went straight to his room, cursing you and Harry. What did you both do?" She cried, worry evident in her eyes.


"We disrupted the nature of the past five months," With that, Blaise sprinted up the marble staircase and made his way to his best mate's room. Touching his wand tip to the door handle and muttering the password that had remained the same since their childhood, he pushed open the door. The first thing he heard was the shattering of a vase against the dressing table mirror, successfully breaking that too.


He stepped into the room, albeit a bit hesitantly. Draco gripped the dressing table and upturned it, knocking it and all it's contents to the floor. Half the room had already been wrecked, he was working on the other half currently.


"Draco, mate, relax!" Blaise said, shutting the door behind him. Silencing wards automatically fixed themselves into place.


Draco spun around, his mouth twisting into a sneer.


"Don't you dare tell me what to do."


"Listen, I know that you're-"


"You don't know shit!" Draco roared, his eyes blazing with anger. "You and Potter planned it didn't you? For me to end up in Her department of all places? Don't lie to me! You did, didnt you?"


"Yes, but with-" Draco slapped him. Blaise stumbled back, his hand on his cheek. Draco had never raised his hand on him except for once- when Blaise had told Draco that he'd become a death-eater so that he could be with Draco and Pansy. He had slapped him hard for even considering it. Yes, he had been turned into one, but only a year later, just before the battle.


That was a serious... Event. And if he had only ever slapped him then, this obviously came pretty damn close.


"Draco-" He choked out.


Draco pointed his finger at Blaise warningly. "Dont 'Draco' me. Remember years ago how we promised each other that we'd never force each other into something if it was wrong? It sounded like a weird promise then. I mean, who would force their best friend into something wrong? But this- right here- is an example of that. You broke our promise and with that, you forced something very wrong onto me, Blaise."


"I know what I did was wrong but-"


Draco raised his hand, silencing him. He pulled open the door and without looking at Blaise, said, "Get out. I can't bear to look at you right now."


"Drake-"


"Just get out!" Draco yelled. Blaise nodded and left without a single word more.


"Blaise, what happened?" Narcissa asked him when he reached the front door.


"Potter and I got Draco a job-"


"He already-"


"-In Hermione's department", Blaise completed, stunning the two elder Malfoys into silence.


With that, he walked out, but not before he heard Lucius mutter, "About bloody time somebody did something."


* * *
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So FINALLY something's happened! Do you guys think Harry was right in what he did or wrong? Im pretty sure most of you think it was absolutely right. How long more could they stay apart right? No 2nd gen in this chapter but I'll probably having a little Stace/Lysander and James/Stella in the next- hope you guys don't mind but id like to develop them as well (: BUT my pain priority IS Dramione and the other 1st gens.
As Lucius said "About bloody time somebody did something."

oh ps: my dad's getting "Everything Happens For A Reason" engraved on to the back of the iPod he's getting me for my birthday ^^

Love always,
FeltonLewis xx

Chapter 6: Letters & Files
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Welcome back to TRTL :) I apologize for the late update but hope you enjoy this xx

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"I see your blue eyes every time I close mine
You make it hard to see
Where I belong to, when I'm not around you
It's like I'm not with me"

-I Never Told You, Colbie Caillat



"I can't believe things are still affecting us so much, you know", James said, walking down the corridor with his girlfriend after Transfiguration.


Stella just nodded, suddenly feeling a lump form in her throat. No, she wouldn't cry.


"I mean, who knew a simple kidnapping would change so much", He continued, oblivious to his girlfriend's emotions.


"It's a kidnapping, James", She said softly, "There's nothing simple about it."


"True enough but still, it's affected our family worse than-"


"Stop." Stella blurted out, unable to stop herself. James turned to her, eyebrows raised. "Why is it that every time we talk, we speak about the same thing- about how bad a state you're in."


James faltered. "I... I just need someone to talk to."


Stella's expression softened. "And I understand that but- but look at me." His eyebrows came together.


"I- I am", He said, confused.


"No, James. Really look at me. Do I look like Ive slept in weeks? Do I look alright to you?" She asked, her eyes stinging.


Before he could answer, Drake and Albus hurried up to them.


"Sorry to interrupt, guys", Albus said, not looking sorry at all. Drake smirked. "James, Mcgonagall just informed us about the Quidditch matches this term." And with that, the two Potters began discussing what the Headmistress had told Albus.


Drake stood by, his hands in his pockets, waiting for Albus. He noticed Stella standing there uncomfortably and looked towards her. His eyes widened at the sight of tears welling up in the Griffindor's eyes. She wiped at her eyes hastily as soon as a tear fell. She turned away from the three boys, unaware that Drake was staring at her and took a few deep, calming breaths. When she turned back around, her eyes met with Drake's. He raised his eyebrows as if to ask her "What's going on?" She shook her head and smiled weakly. It didn't convince him. Not one bit. But he dropped it.


"Albus, we can talk to James later", He said, realizing that they had indeed interrupted something. Albus looked at him, confused and Drake grabbed his arm and pulled him away from the couple. "I have to go get something. We'll see you guys later," He called over his shoulder.


And then James and Stella were alone again.


"Im sorry, you were saying?" He said.


She shook her head, not in the mood to say anything anymore. "I've to go, I'll- I'll talk to you later... or something." She turned on her heel and took a few steps before feeling James grab her wrist.


"Hey", He said softly. "You know I love you, right?" She closed her eyes tightly, tears spilling out beneath her lids. She nodded. He let go of her wrist and she walked away from him, wondering if he truly did care for her anymore.


She headed straight for the great lake and taking a deep breathe, she sank to the ground, pulling her knees close to her chest. She stared out over the lake at nothing in particular- being physically present but mentally absent. And having her mind drift to the things she least wanted to think about brought tears to her eyes. And suddenly, she was sobbing. And she couldn't stop.


She cried her heart out. She just could not hold it in any longer. She couldn't hide it any longer. And James? He was oblivious to her obvious pain. Even his brother's best friend saw it in her eyes before he did! She released a shuddering breathe and put her head in her hands. Classes were going on. No one would miss her...


* * *


"James, mate!" Drake called, running after the black haired boy. James stopped upon hearing her name and turned around as Drake caught up to him.


"What's going on?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.


"You and Stella okay?" Drake said.


James' eyebrows came together. "Yeah, sure, why?" He lied.


"Earlier- she was crying- so I don't know- I just thought-"


"Listen, Zabini", James said, his fingers inching towards his wand, "I appreciate the concern but it's none of your business."


"Well she's your girlfriend. And you didn't seem to realize that she was crying so-"


James shoved Drake behind and the Slytherin raised his hands in the air, palms facing James.


"Calm down! Im only saying! I saw her crying out by the Black Lake some time ago too! I thought I should let you know- go find out what's wrong because clearly there's something that's bothering her!"


"Mind your own business," James said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose and turning and stalking away from the other boy.


Drake huffed and headed for the library. He needed to check on how Stacey was doing. But something in his heart told him that somebody else was already doing that. Somebody named Lysander bloody Lovegood.


* * *


Stacey sat down beside the blonde haired hufflepuff and pulled out her Charms textbook.


"Hey." She said quietly. Lysander was mildly surprised, but didn't show it, that she had initiated a conversation though he should have expected it. After that night in the Astronomy Tower, something had changed. He didn't know what. But something had.


"Hi." He nodded, his eyes moving swiftly over the book on dragons in front of him on the table.


"Is there any bit of the story left?" She asked, taking a roll of parchment out of her book bag.


He shrugged. "There are the good parts. And some parts I don't wish to speak about."


"So nothing for today then?" She asked, looking over at him. He looked up at her through his eyelashes and something about the way he looked just then made Stacey's heart beat faster.


"Not particularly." He said, not removing his gaze from her.


"I was planning on getting a drink from the kitchens before heading back to the Common room for the night- would you- uh- like to join me?" Stacey asked, nervously, unable to tear her eyes away from his.


He nodded curtly. "I don't see the problem with that. Are you sure your friends won't miss you?"


"Doubt it. Drake and Scorp usually play chess till about nine and then head for their dorm so I don't think they'll miss me." She said.


"Okay then. After you're done with your essay," He nodded towards her parchment and book and then finally unlocking their eyes, he looked back down at his book. She was left looking at him for a few seconds before she began her essay, completely unaware that one of her best friends had watched and heard the entire exchange of words and looks.


* * *


Drake jumped to his feet the second the common room door clicked open. "Where have you been?!" He demanded, spinning around to face the shocked raven haired Slytherin.


"What're you doing up so late?" Stacey asked, hunting for an excuse in her head.


"I should be asking you the same question- at least Ive been inside my common room! It's an hour past curfew, Stacey!" Drake said, stepping in front of her- his build towering over her's.


"I had somewhere to be!" Stacey lied, hoping it wasn't too obvious on her face.


"Were you with Lovegood?" He asked, his face in a sneer.


"N-no!" She said and gasped as he grabbed her shoulders and shook her.


"Dont lie to me!" He snapped.


A strong hand gripped Drake's arm and he was pushed away from the young girl.


"Mate, calm down. She isn't lying," Scorpius said, standing between his two best friends.


"Yes she is!" Drake spat.


"No she isn't. She had gone to the Gryffindor tower because I needed her to ask Rose something." Scorpius said, calm and confident. Drake looked between the two in front of him.


"Is that true?" He asked, looking at Stacey.


"You aren't my father." She spat, burning rage in her eyes.


"You didn't even tell anyone before going!" Drake said.


"She told me. In fact, I told her to go", Scorpius said, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Calm down, Drake. She just went to Rose."


Drake grit his teeth together, sent one last glare at Stacey and turned to head up the staircase to the boys' dorm.


"Is this about Lysander?" She called, stopping him at the top of the staircase.


"Stace, dont." Scorpius muttered just loud enough for her to hear.


"Not everything is about him, Parkinson." Drake said, not turning around and missing the expression of hurt that crossed the girl's face.


"But this is." Stacey said, swallowing hard. "I don't believe you. Lysander's my friend, Drake! I'll be with him if I want to and you're no one to stop that! You can't just walk around like you own me. I can be friends with him if I want to."


"He isn't any good." Drake said, his voice shaking with anger.


"And you aren't anyone to decide that. Especially not for me." Stacey bit out, feeling a lump in her throat. "Its ironic how you want me to be happy but won't let me be near the things that make me happy."


"Oh, so he makes you happy now?" Drake asked, acidly.


"I don't believe this." Stacey said, tears welling up in her eyes as she shook her head. "You're impossible. You can't tell me what to do, understand? You're nobody to tell me what to do! You hear me?!" She said, her voice growing louder.


"Loud and freaking clear." Drake said, before entering the dorm and slamming the door shut behind him.


Stacey stood there, her hands folded across her chest and breathing heavily, trying to blink away her tears.


"Stace..." Scorpius said, moving to stand in front of her. He put his hands on her shoulders and she closed her eyes tight, tears spilling out beneath her lids.


"Whats his problem, Scorp? Why can't he just accept Lysander? Its not even like Im going out with him for Merlin's sake!" Stacey cried. Scorpius drew the girl into a tight embrace.


"He just doesn't want you to get hurt..."


"Thats a lie! He's hurting me right now! Lysander was one of the only things that helped me get through the past few months- can't Drake see that?" She said, burying her face into his shoulder.


"He doesn't want to lose you."


"And he won't! I love him, Scorp! You both are my BEST friends. None of you can lose me even if you tried." She said, resting her head against his chest. "I just wish he'd understand..."


"Give him time, Stace. You know how Drake can be." Scorpius said, rubbing her back soothingly as she hiccuped. "He sometimes says things he doesn't mean. He speaks before thinking."


"Will you speak to him?" She asked in a small voice.


"You know I will." Scorpius said.


A thought suddenly hit her and she asked, "You covered for me and said that you sent me to Rose earlier? How come?"


"I heard you and Lysander speaking in the Library, I didn't mean to, I swear. I know you went with him to the kitchens. I also knew Drake was looking for a reason to lash out at Lysander. So I stepped in." Her hold around him got tighter.


"You're the best." She said, hugging him tightly.


"I know." Scropius said, pulling away from her and smiling at her. "Now its way past your bed time. Go to sleep."


"Okay, father." Stacey smiled. She kissed him on the cheek and headed to her dorm, leaving Scorpius standing at the center of the common room.


If his assumptions and predictions turned out right, things between Stacey, Drake and Lysander would only get tougher...


* * *


(27th February, Monday)


Hermione looked up as someone knocked on her door. She was back at work after lunch and refused to talk to anybody. She had said a simple "I apologize for my rude behavior earlier" to Crane before exiting his office and heading to her own.


"Enter."


And enter he did. The door was pushed open and closed again as Draco entered, carrying a file. She clenched her teeth together and gripped her quill tighter. He walked up to her desk till he was standing right in front of her, towering above her.


He then stuck his hand out. "Draco Malfoy, your department's new recruit." She faltered for a second, confused. And then she put herself together and stood up, putting on a make of indifference- similar to one that was plastered on his face.


She refused to show any emotion as she put her hand in his and shook it, ignoring the heart aching feeling coursing through her. "Hermione Granger, your Department head." She immediately dropped his hand and stepped back. "Are you here for a reason?"


He stared at her, expressionless, for a second before nodding and handing her the file he carried in. "Crane asked me to pass you this. Normally it would go to Potter's department but he said it intersected more with this department than his." She nodded and sat down to flip through the file.


She looked up at him when he didn't move. "Is there anything else?"


"Crane wanted you to check out the case immediately and state whether you would like to take it up or whether you want to pass it to Potter. He said that either are fine but it's an urgent case." Draco said, his hands in the pockets of his black slacks.


She nodded and turned back to the file. After reading the briefing and a few details, she looked up. "These are ransom and murder situations. This isn't our department, he's right.


Draco shrugged. "Apparently the case itself- the further investigation and the solving bit involved going undercover- which is our department as well. Its mostly a joint case."


"Right." Hermione said. Her eyebrows furrowed together as she read on. "This is a serious case."


"It is."


She glanced up. "And you know this, how?"


"What?"


"That it's a serious case."


"I was briefed as well."


"But you're a new recruit and I didn't hand out the permission for you to be briefed."


Draco shrugged again, running a hand through his hair. "Don't have a clue why I was, then. Crane just gave me a few details and asked me to pass it on to you."


"We'll take it, obviously. When do I have to get back to him?"


"As soon as possible."


"Could you let him know that I'll come over to his office tomorrow morning? I just have a few cases to clean up." Hermione said, signing on one of the papers which stated that she had read the briefing.


"Yeah, sure." Draco said, taking the file back.


"Oh, and we have an Auror called Irene-"


"-Irene Knight?"


Hermione's eyebrows shot up slightly before returning to their original places. She would be lying if she said she wasn't impressed. He had been here for one day and he already knew people by their full names. "Yes, her. Could you ask her to come to my office when she has the time? If Im going to be cleaning up these cases and filing them, Im going to need her help." She didn't know why she had to explain that to him. She could've left it with him asking her. But she didn't. She refused to even acknowledge why that could be...


"Right. I'll do that. Anything else?" Draco asked, heading to the door.


"No, you may leave. Thank you." Hermione said, returning to the papers she was looking through before he entered.


"Thank you, Ma'am." He said, before leaving. As soon as the door clicked shut, Hermione's shoulders slumped and she leaned back in her chair, pressing her palms against her tired eyes. Why, Merlin?! Why her of all people?! She didn't want to deal with this! She didn't want to deal with him again! It was over! Long gone! Done! Over...


But now...


She leaned forward, her elbows against the table surface and her head in her hands, gripping at her hair.


Now he was back. And so was everything else. All those memories she had kept hidden were flooding into her mind as if the dam that had kept them held back had broken. She couldn't deal with this... She just couldn't...


But did she have a choice?


She swallowed hard. The answer wasn't a "no."


* * *


They were in the great hall for dinner when Drake nudged Scorpius and nodded towards the fuming red head who was making her way to the Slytherin table, a parchment crunched up in her hand. She came to stand in front of the youngest Malfoy and he turned in his seat. She handed him the parchment, her hands shaking. He took it and his eyes went over the words. He looked up and returned it to his girlfriend.


"So?" He asked.


Rose's jaw tensed and she crossed her arms over her chest. "What do you mean 'so'? You're acting as if this isn't news to you at all!" She exclaimed.


"I got a letter an hour ago as well. From Aunt Pansy." Scorpius said. "But I don't get what the big deal is."


"You- you don't get what the big deal is?!" She spluttered. "Our parents are working together again, Scorpius!"


"Yes, so?" He asked, swinging his legs around the bench and resting them on the other side.


"You cannot be serious!" Rose said, her voice rising. "Don't you care at all? Do you KNOW why they've been avoiding each other all this while? Don't you care about us at all?!" By this point,the hall had gone silent and all eyes and ears were on them.


"Lower your voice, Rosie." Scorpius said, calmly, glancing around him.


"Don't tell me what to do! I can't believe you don't care!" She snapped, her eyes blazing with anger. Scorpius stood up and taking her wrist, lead her through the hall doors and outside into the corridor.


"You're making a big deal out of this." He said, shaking his head.


"Don't you see what could happen?!" Rose asked, her teeth gritted together. "If they are working together every day- seeing each other every day- they are going to get closer. They are going to bring up things of the past. They are going to-"


"Dammit, Rose, whats your point?!" Scorpius asked, struggling to keep his anger in check.


"The point is that if old, hidden feelings resurface- we could be over!" She said.


"You need to understand that if they have feelings, they shouldn't put it aside, they should-"


"AND US?" She cried, throwing her hands in the air. "What about us?"


"We're barely fifteen, Rose." He said. "We have our entire lives left for us. So many people to meet. But our parents-"


"What?" Rose said. "You really don't care do you? If they get together- not only will that ruin my parents' relationship but also ours!"


"Ruin your parents' relationship? Who are you you to decide that?!" Scorpius exclaimed. "Let your parents live the lives they want!"


"What about us?!"


"Us? Rose, it's not always about us! It's not always about you! It's about them! Your parents! You have sacrificed so much for you already... Don't you want to see them happy?"


"How dare you suggest that I don't!" Rose screamed. She pointed her index finger at him. "Dont you dare suggest anything like that! Of course I do! That's just it! She won't be happy! That man isn't going to make her happy! He's- he's-"


Scorpius caught her wrist and threw her hand down to her side, his eyes burning with rage. "He's my father. So before you say anything against 'that man' in front of me, do think twice." His voice was bitter and it was obvious he was furious. "And I'm only saying what is obvious. You don't like the idea of having a new father and dont like the idea of breaking up with me. It's justified. But not at the cost of your mother's happiness."


"I don't want my family to fall apart! I don't want my parents to be separated!"


"You'd rather have them together and unhappy?" Scorpius asked. "You know what, now you're just desperately hunting for reasons... Just... Before I get any angrier, I'm leaving. When you've got your head sorted out and are willing to think rationally, we'll talk again." They stared at each other for a second before he nodded curtly and walked away from her.


She was left there, staring at the spot Scorpius had been standing a second earlier.



* * *


Hermione stood up, grabbing the pile of files she needed to leave at Harry's office and went to her door. It was nearing ten and she still had a whole pile of cases left to file. She pulled open the door and came face to face with the one person she had no intention of meeting.


He seemed to have been hesitating at the door when she stepped out.


"Uh, I was just going to knock..." Draco said.


"I sent you to call Irene over two hours ago!" Hermione snapped, tired and feeling overworked.


"I know, I know. I'm sorry! Irene couldn't make it- she had an emergency at home and I asked around some others that were higher up in the department but nobody was available- most we're on cases. I- I thought I could help?"


"Irene had an emergency?" Hermione asked, properly hearing only that part. "What about?"


"Something to do with her baby, I think." Draco said, amazed at how she had so easily dropped any thought about her work because if her concern for her colleague.


"Do you know if she went with anybody?" She asked, entering her office once again and leaving the files on the table. She hurried around her desk and picked her bag off the floor, putting things into it.


"Not that I know of," He answered, shaking his head.


She slung her bag over her shoulder and grabbed her Ministry cloak. She tapped the pile of documents that had been filed already and said, "Do you think you could drop these off at Harry's office?"


"Yeah, sure." Draco nodded, taking them from her desk. "If you need, I could sort through the other files too."


"Thank you but I doubt you'll be familiar with some of the cases. And besides, you did enough for your first day here." She exited the office and shut the door after he followed.


"Are you headed to St. Mungo's?" He asked as they headed to the elevators.


Hermione nodded. "Knowing Irene, she didn't want to worry anybody so she didn't tell anyone who would spread the word. I need to be there for her."


"I did a bit of reading on recent cases- you think I could try sorting the files? I wont mess them up, I promise. And those are only minor cases- if i mess with them, you and the other heads of the Auror Department will be instantly notified." Draco asked as she stepped into the elevator.


"Yeah, I guess. Don't you have to get home? It's pretty late." Hermione said as the rails clamped shut.


He shrugged. "No one to go home to." Stormy blue eyes locked chocolate brown for a second before Hermione looked away and moved to press the ground floor button.


"See you tomorrow." He said, his hands hurried in his pockets. She nodded and the elevator left the floor.


Draco took a deep breathe as he turned and headed for her office once again.


* * *

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And thats done (: I hope you all are alright with me developing the second generation story as well- I didn't want it to be entirely dramione because there are so many potential ships and stories for the second gen characters too! Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that- improvements or developments in each of their stories, including James and Stella's. Do let me know what you thought of this chapter- hope you liked it!
Apologies for the late update by the way, I updated TOR thrice in a row(?) rather than giving TRTL it's chance- I hadn't had a chapter ready as yet as I have a lot of school work and issues I need to deal with right now.
Hope this was up to your expectations! Please please please do review! :)
Love always,
FeltonLewis xx

Chapter 7: Personal and Professional
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TRTL 7: Personal and Professional

Welcome back to TRTL! Thank you all for all your reviews, it meant a lot to me :') Do enjoy this one xx
Ps: Please check out The Hostage Situation, a new short story Ive started and am going to update very soon!

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"I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart"

-The Scientist, Coldplay.


Hermione opened the door of her and Ron's apartment and dumping her coat and bag on the coffee table in the living room, she headed up the stairs. She entered her and Ron's room and saw Ron asleep on his side of the bed. She changed into her pajamas and slid under the covers beside him. Ron was obviously not completely knocked out as turned to face her.


"Hermione, you're back! Im sorry I fell asleep, it was a long day at work..."


"No, that's okay, Ron. I had a lot of work too. After which I had gone to St.Mungo's because Irene's baby was hospitalized." Hermione said, trying to hold herself together. Ron sat up and noticed how tired she looked.


"What happened to him?" He asked as Hermione sat up and leaned against the headboard.


"He's got some breathing issues", Hermione said, closing her eyes. "Irene looked like a complete mess. Rowen means the world to her. She's staying at the hospital tonight, I got her a room. Im going to her tomorrow during lunch or after work. Poor Irene..."


"You look horribly tired, Hermione, why don't you get some rest?" Ron suggested.


"Ive got too much on my mind..."

"Malfoy joined your department, didn't he?" Hermione's eyes flew open and she stared at Ron.


"Yes. He did." She said, releasing a shaky breath. She was grateful to him when he didn't ask any further questions.


"Just try and forget about everything. You need sleep, you've been overworking yourself too much." Ron said, laying back down. She nodded and lay down too. Tomorrow would be a longer day than this one. She could just feel it.


* * *

(28th February, Tuesday)


"Morning," Stacey greeted her friends as she sat down beside Scorpius and across from Drake.


"Slept well?" Scorpius asked.


She shrugged- "I slept okay." Her eyes drifted to the Ravenclaw table where she saw Lysander siting with his sister and a couple of friends. He looked up suddenly, as if he could feel himself being watched. Stacey blushed at being caught and offered him a small smile. He didn't smile back, though. All she received was a nod in response.


"Lovely. Stacey, I never pegged you as the flirting across tables kind of girl." Drake commented, having seen the exchange.


"What did you peg me as then?" She challenged. She shut her eyes and took a deep, calming breath. "I don't have time for your rubbish. You're being immature and stupid and clearly you don't trust my opinion on him." With that, Stacey stood up, grabbed an apple from the table and shouldering her book bag, she strode away from them.


"Drake, mate, what the hell was that?" Scorpius asked as their friend left the Great Hall. "Why do you have to keep insulting Lovegood? He's not a bad person."


"You too?" Drake asked, raising an eyebrow.


"You're thinking irrationally," Scorpius said. "You know how much he means to her. Actually, you don't. Our Stacey would never allow someone into her life without considering it for at least a year but look at those two- he makes her happy."


"Given them your blessings then?" Drake asked through gritted teeth. "All of you are mad! Absolutely mental!"


"Because we're giving someone a chance? Stacey and him are friends and you need to get that into your head because just like she'd never leave us, she'd never leave him either. Its your choice what you want to do." With that, Scorpius stood up and left the great hall, biting into the flesh of a green apple.


* * *


"Come in!" Hermione called out from her seat at her desk.


The door opened and she glanced up. And then proceeded in looking at anything but him.


"Crane wants you in his office immediately. Potter's there too." Draco said.


Hermione nodded. "Are you a part of the case too?"


"Might be, otherwise he wouldnt have asked a new recruit to relay all this information." He shrugged. "I don't know. Im heading to his office now- Ill let him know you're on your way?"


Hermione nodded and just before he left the office, she hesitated for a second before saying, "Malfoy."


He turned around, "Yeah?"


She tapped the pile of documents and files that were neatly stacked at the side of her desk. "I went through the filing of the cases- thank you for helping even when you didn't need to."


"Were they correctly done?" Draco asked.


"Yes, they were perfect." Hermione said. "Ill come down with the files- you go ahead to Crane." He nodded and left the office. She leaned back in her chair for a second and breathed in and out deeply once before getting up, grabbing a notepad and pen and exiting her office. When she entered Crane's office after receiving permission, she saw Draco and Harry sitting in front of his desk, an empty chair in between them.


"Ah, Miss Granger, come in, we were just waiting for you." Crane said, from his seat behind the desk.


Hermione went to the empty seat, cursing Harry for leaving the seat beside Draco empty for her. She placed the pile of files in front of Crane on the desk. "It's the documented cases for the past four months."


"But I only asked you last friday. That's very impressive." Crane nodded, levitating the files to a shelf on his left.


"I- I had a little help..." Hermione mumbled.


"Please, have a seat." Crane gestured to the empty seat behind her. She nodded and sat down at the edge of the seat, as far away from Draco as possible. Draco shifted his seat a little away from her's, sensing her discomfort. Not like it was any easier for him to be in the same room as her.


"Is this about the case you informed me about through Mister Malfoy yesterday, sir?" Hermione asked.


"Indeed it is. This is a rather serious case we've come across and I would like to brief you three about it."


"Three?" Harry asked. "I don't mean to doubt your judgement, Sir, but isn't Malfoy a little too new in this job to be briefed on an important case like this?"


"I understand your uneasiness, Potter," Crane nodded, "But I know what Im doing. Besides, most of the male aurors are not available from Miss Granger's department currently."


"What about my department?" Harry asked.


"Your department isn't trained for undercover purposes, they're more towards the raids and rescuing." The Head Auror said, leaning forward to rest his arms on the desk. "Now would you like a verbal briefing or a written one?"


"I think verbal would be better- if we have questions, we can ask at that moment. It might be more convenient." Hermione said. Crane nodded and began.


"In the past month, women have been found murdered in alleyways near local muggle bars. All these women have been witches and around their thirties. There has been one found every three days and the weapon of murder surprisingly wasn't a wand, it was a knife. The women's necks are slit and they're stabbed once in the heart. The killer leaves something behind everytime- a white handkerchief with the words Memento Mori inscribed on the bottom right corner. It translates to-"


"Remember your mortality." Hermione said, her eyebrows furrowed together. "So this guy- does he have a reason to kill? Do we have any suspects?"


"Yes, it means exactly that. We do have a suspect- we've had people following him and we're quite sure it's him but we have nothing against him as yet. We don't think he has a motive- these are random murders. These women have nothing in common- hair color, eye color, body- everything varies. Our best guess is that he kills for pleasure."


"Is that all we have?" Harry asked.


"Im afraid so. This man is careful."


"How do we know it's a man?" Draco asked.


"We've been following this guy- we're pretty sure it's him. But we just need evidence, is all. His name's Ace Washworth. We have nothing major on him, like I said- that's why we need people on the inside."


"So you want us to go in? That's why our department is involved?" Hermione asked.


"Precisely. We were originally supposed to send in Irene Knight and Malfoy here, but Miss Irene seems to be tied up with family matters so we decided to replace her with you." Crane said, addressing Hermione.


"Is there no other way?" Hermione asked, trying to keep her voice steady. Working with Draco was one thing- working undercover with him on a full-on case? She couldn't do it...


"We wanted the best agents. You seemed to be tied up running your department so we went for Knight but seeing as she's busy..."


"Not that I doubt your decisions, Sir, but why Malfoy?" Hermione asked, making sure she looked directly at Crane. If Draco was surprised by her question or felt anything by it, he didn't show it. His Malfoy mask of indifference was in its place.


"We needed a male Auror to keep a watch over the situation as this man is dangerous. More so than you can imagine. I'm not doubting your skills, my dear, but I think in this situation, it's necessary for strong back-up and from what Ive heard about Malfoy, he's about as suited for the job as any other Auror in your's or Potter's department." Crane explained. Hermione leaned back in her seat and rubbed her face tiredly.


"Why not Harry?" She knew she sounded pathetic, trying to find any replacement for Draco that she could get her hands on.


"Im sorry, Hermione, I'd do the job myself, I would, but I've been piled with work and I have a few more cases I need to sort out this week." Harry said, sincerely.


"This week?" Hermione asked. "We're going in this week?"


"We found the last girl dead on Sunday. It's tuesday, which means one more will go down tomorrow- you will go in on Thursday to the club he meets his women at." Crane said.


"One more will go down tomorrow and you're saying it like its no big deal! Shouldn't we be doing something?"


"You know that if we could, we would. But we really don't know what he does with them or where so we have nowhere to go to look for him and his victims. This is our best hope. But both of you have the choice to back out- this is entirely your choice. It's a dangerous case. You can choose not to be a part of it."


When neither of them said anything, he nodded. "Okay then. I'll see you both in my office- and you too, Harry- on Thursday at six. Is that understood?" The three nodded. "You may return to your work, thank you."


Just before Hermione closed the door behind her, Crane asked her to wait. She stopped and turned towards him.


"Hermione, are you sure you are alright with this?" He asked, his fatherly side showing.


"I appreciate your concern, Sir, but I do not mix my professional and personal lives together."


She knew that the words sounded nowhere near the truth.


* * *


"Yeah, yeah, I know." Albus said, waving his hand in dismissal as he walked away from Hugo, grinning. Hugo laughed and walked away, leaving Albus alone. He turned the corridor, still laughing about the inside joke the two had shared. A figure bumped into him and his arm shot to grab the girl's arm as she stumbled backwards. She straightened up and her dark blue eyes locked with his.


"Matilda..." He said, blinking a few times. "Sorry about that, I wasn't watching where I was going, I guess."


"That's okay, I wasn't either. I was just following a few creatures I thought I saw flying this way." Matilda smiled, pointing to the purple framed glasses sitting perched on her head. They looked at each other for a few seconds, her smile slowly vanishing. "What are we doing?"


Albus averted his eyes to the floor, unsure what to answer.


"Look at us, Albus. We were best friends. I miss that so much. Is it really that hard to go back?" She asked, taking a step closer to him. "Please look at me."


He did. "I want to go back. I do. Before everything but... It isn't easy, you know?"


"Yeah, I understand." Matilda nodded. "But... when you are ready, will you come talk to me? Could we try starting over?"


"We never stopped being friends, Mil." He said. "Things changed, yes, but we never stopped being friends. We won't start over- we'll take off where we left off."


Matilda smiled softly. "You're right. But you'll come back when you're ready, right?"


"You bet." Albus smiled back. They stared at each other for a few long comfortable seconds before she shifted her book bag on her shoulder.


"I'll see you soon then?"


He nodded. "See you around, Mil."


* * *


Hermione entered the hospital, throwing her hair into a bun. Her hair was returning to it's old lighter brown and was curling up at the ends once again. She did not wish to straighten it nor dye it again for obvious reasons...


"Rowen Knight." She told the lady at the main counter.


"And you are?" The lady asked in a uninterested drawl.


"Hermione Granger."


The lady raised an eyebrow and said- "Identification please."


"Oh, for gods' sake!" She scrambled through her purse, looking for her Auror Department identification card. "I don't have my card... Will my wand do?"


"Not this time." The lady shook her head. "Miss Knight specified that anybody who came would have a card and that would be enough to prove their identity. You don't have your card, you don't have entry, ma'am. The Knights are in a special ward that only particular people are allowed entry into."


"I helped them secure that ward!" Hermione said, slamming her palm down against the counter.


"Violence is going to get you nowhere, Ma'am." The lady said. "I'm sorry, I can't let you through."


Hermione took a deep breath and leaned forward across the wooden surface. "Listen. Why would I possibly want to lie about my identity? It's ten thirty, Ive just worked like a insane person in my department and I am too damn tired to argue with anybody. I need to see Irene Knight."


"And I cannot let you do that." The lady said. "I need identification. Your name is in this list but I can't let you through unless you provide something that authenticates your identity."


Hermione closed her eyes and took another deep breath. It would not help to hex this lady. Before she could say anything, a throat was cleared behind her and a very familiar voice spoke up.


"What if Im under her in her department and I have my identity card? It has her specified as my head as well." Hermione spun around to see Draco Malfoy standing there, his white shirt untucked and sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his hands buried in the pockets of his black slacks, his Ministry robes slung through the gap under his right arm.


The lady considered it for a second before nodding. "That should do but Im going to have to ask you to accompany her to Miss Knight's ward just in case she is an impostor."


"I can assure you that nobody would have the guts to polyjuice Hermione Granger." Draco said, stepping forward and withdrawing his hand from his pocket, he took out a thin rectangular piece of metal the size of his thumb.


"Uh... It's okay... I can- I can go back and get my card..." Hermione stuttered, looking anywhere but at the blonde.


"Don't bother, Im sure Knight needs all the support she can get and fast." He said as the lady at the reception tapped her wand against the metal card and then tapped it on a parchment in front of her. A few seconds of awkward silence later, the lady allowed them through.


"And I need to get to Lucius Malfoy too, please." Draco said. The lady nodded and tapped her wand against a register in front of her.


"You may go."


Draco nodded while Hermione didn't say anything, choosing to head straight for where Irene's son's ward was.


They were walking in uncomfortable, tension filled silence when something he said a minute ago finally registered in her head. Before she could stop herself, she found herself asking- "Is your father alright?"


"No, actually. Early this morning someone attacked him in Diagon Alley. He would've been fine since it was just an unexpected hex had his head not collided against a concrete step." Hermione's hand flew to her mouth as she gasped.


"How did you find out?" She asked.


"He was with mother and she apparated him to St. Mungo's." His voice was bitter with he said the next few words, "They kept pushing him to the end of the pateints' line because he was Lucius Malfoy, ex-death eater."


"Thats horrible!" Hermione said as he fell into step beside her rather than following behind her. "Is he okay now?"


"Yeah, but he was bleeding so much I had to contact Ginny who came out from her office and after rather strictly talking to the reception- and you know how scary Ginny can get- she personally attended to father. He had a crack in his skull because of the severity of his fall but she fixed it up, thank Merlin."


"My god..." Hermione shook her head. "I never thought St. mungo's could be like that."


"It probably isn't usually. But you're forgetting that we're the Malfoys, a significant part of the dark side."


"It still shouldn't change anything. Especially in a hospital." Hermione said. "Where's Narcissa now?"


"She's with father." Draco answered.


"Sorry I'm keeping you from them." She said quietly. He shrugged and they fell silent once again until they reached the security ward for Irene. They stopped in front of the glass doors where a dark brown case the size of a shoe box was attached to the right side against the wall. Hermione placed her wand inside, as did Draco and once the case sealed shut, the glass doors slid open.


Irene Knight sat to the left side of the waiting room, her elbows rested on her knees and her head in her hands, her hair pinned and tied messily away from her face.


"Irene?" Hermione said and the other witch looked up. She immediately stood up and the two women met half way, hugging each other tightly. Irene broke down, sobbing into Hermione's arms.


"He's going to be fine, Irene, he will be!" Hermione said, rubbing soothing circles on her back with her hand. The split apart and Irene noticed Draco standing behind Hermione.


"Oh, uh, Irene this is the new recruit from our department-" Hermione started but Irene cut through the introduction.


"Draco Malfoy. I met him today morning in St. Mungo's." She said to Hermione before turning back to Draco. "I can't thank you enough for what you're doing for me, I-"


Draco shook his head. "I have a son too. He means the world to me. I would never want to lose one of the only things left in my life." Irene nodded and Hermione wondered what was going on. What had Draco done for Irene to help Rowen?


"Thank you for coming to visit, Hermione. I know you must have had a long day and-"


"Please, Irene, you know I'm here any time you need me." Hermione said.


"I'll go meet my parents. I'll come to get you in fifteen minutes?"


"You don't have to do that..." Hermione said quietly.


"I actually do. Because you're here under my card." Draco said. He nodded goodbye to Irene and left the room, the glass doors sliding shut behind him.


Hermione slumped down into a seat and Irene sat down beside her.


"Was it just me or did you both have some unresolved tension between you?" The dark haired lady asked, placing her hand on Hermione's.


"We're working a case together... We've had history before this that I pushed away when I left him. I was trying to forget him and he just came back. And he's in our department. We have a case together tomorrow. Gods, Irene, this is so hard." Hermione said, shaking her head.


Irene's hand flew to her mouth. "And... Ron? When was all this?"


"Last September. Ron knows. Everyone knows. We don't talk about it. Ever. But he just- he just came back..." Hermione said, leaning back in her seat and rubbing her tired eyes.


"Oh my..." Irene said. "Wasn't this supposed to be my case?"


Hermione didn't respond.


"Oh god, Hermione! Im so sorry- I had no idea- if-"


"No, Irene, it isn't your fault." Hermione said, turning in her seat to face the other witch. "Your son means more to both of us than anything else right now. This is hard on me, yes, but nothing more's important than Rowen. Okay? It's just another case and Im going to treat it like that. Professionally."


"I know but-"


"No 'buts'. Im not mixing my personal life with my professional." Hermione said, repeating the words that she had said to Crane and sounding more confident than she felt. She had to suck it up and deal with it. If not for herself, for Irene's sake.


Draco returned fifteen minutes later and lead her out of the hospital. Just before she floo'ed away, she looked at him for the first time after their walk from the ward and said, "Thank you, Malfoy."


He stared at her for a second and nodded. "Anytime... Ma'am."

* * *

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So that's done! I apologize for how long it took me to update but thank you for your patience, I've been awfully busy and have been writing whenever Ive had time so hope this was alright of you all! :D
Thank you all so so much for your reviews, do review this one too, it would mean a lot to me! (: Next chapter is day one of the case plus more from Rose/ Scorpius and Blaise, Pansy, Hayley and Ron.
Please please review!
Much Love,
Feltonlewis xx

Chapter 8: Desperate Needs
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Welcome back, you guys! :D Happy New Year and well, belated Merry Christmas. Enjoy this one after a long long wait xx


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"I should've said all the things
That I kept inside of me
And maybe I could've made you believe
That what we had was all we'd ever need"

-All We'd Ever Need, Lady Antebellum.


(1st March, Wednesday)


"Excuse me, Professor Longbottom but may I please have a word with Miss Thomas?" Mcgonagall asked, stepping into the Herbology greenhouse.


Stella turned around and looked at the Headmistress and she was filled with a feeling of dread at the expression on Mcgonagall's face.


"You are excused, Miss Thomas." Neville nodded at Stella and the fourteen year old stood up and walked to the back of the greenhouse, towards the older lady.


"Yes, Headmistress?" She asked, once outside. She really didn't want to know the answer. It didn't look good at all.


"I'm sorry to be the one telling you this, Stella dear, but it's your brother..."


Stella's jaw dropped open and tears rose to her eyes instantly. "No..." She breathed. "Is he-"


Mcgonagall shook her head and placed her hand on the younger girl's shoulder comfortingly. "No, dear. He was found in a classroom thanks to the charms we placed on him. He's in the hospital wing..." Stella released a shuddering breath and brought her hand to her mouth, trying to hold back the sob threatening to escape the premises of her throat.


"He is alright. We got to him in time." Mcgonagall reassured her.


"If you hadn't..." Stella said, shaking her head, not wanting to even think about it.


Inside the greenhouse, two heads were turned in the direction of where the conversation outside was taking place.


"Mister Potter, Mister Zabini- if you could pay attention to the front of the class rather than the back, it would be much appreciated." Neville's voice rang out, causing James and Drake to turn back around.


Stella returned to her seat a minute later, her face pale and fighting tears. The boys once again had their eyes trained on her and Stacey, who was seated beside her, looked at her worriedly. It was a Griffindor- Slytherin class and they had sat next to each other when no other seat was available. Scorpius was sitting beside Drake and James beside Rose.


They were soon given a task and set out completing it immediately. The fifth time Stella got bitten by her plant while she stared into space, Stacey sighed, stood up and went over to Neville. After exchanging a few words with him, she returned to her seat and held her hand out to Stella, who looked up at her puzzled.


"Let's go to the toilet, shall we?" The Slytherin asked in a mumble. Stacey wasn't exactly known to be entirely friendly with Griffindors, choosing to keep with her Slytherins and well, a certain Hufflepuff. Stella hesitated a second before swallowing hard and taking the outstretched hand.


The raven haired girl lead Stella out of the greenhouse, into the castle and straight to the nearest girls' bathroom. She stood Stella in front of the sink and said, "Wash your face, Thomas."


the other girl didn't do what she said. She stared at herself through the mirror for a few long seconds before her face scrunched up and she collapsed to the floor, her head in her hands. Stacey looked around uncomfortably. What was she to do now?


So she stood there, continuing to look around until the sobs coming from Stella Thomas subsided and she stopped shaking as much. Stacey then proceeded in taking out her unused handkerchief from her pocket and handing it to the girl on the floor. Stella accepted it and wiped her eyes and nose, the latter of which made Stacey cringe a bit.


The tearful Griffindor looked up and spoke in a cracked voice. "Will you come with me to the Hospital Wing?" To say that Stacey was taken aback would have been an understatement. She was shocked and did little to hide the fact. Her eyebrows shot up into her fringe and her jaw dropped open slightly.


"Im sorry, what?" She asked.


Stella bit her lower lip and shook her head, standing up shakily. "No, I'm sorry. That was s-silly of me. I just need t-to go and I can't be there alone but it's my- Im sorry, Ill just-"


Stacey rolled her eyes. "Look, if it's that big a deal, I'll come with you." Stella stared at her.


"Really? Just like that?"


"Uh- yeah..." Stacey said. Stella nodded slowly before headed outside and starting towards the Infirmary. Half way through the journey, Stacey asked, "Are you hurt? Why are we going to the Infirmary?"


"I need to meet someone." Stella mumbled and had the corridor not been deserted and pin-drop silent, Stacey wouldnt have heard her.


The rest of the trip was made in silence. When they arrived in front of the Infirmary doors, Stella pushed them open and their eyes landed on Madam Pomfrey, who had just pulled shut the curtain around a bed.


"Ah, Miss Thomas. He was just asking whether you... knew." The old woman asked, gesturing to the bed on her left that was now covered.


"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey." Stella said. Pomfrey nodded and returned to her office while Stella moved forward. She came to a stop in front of the partition and pulled apart the curtains softly.


Tears rose to her eyes instantly and she sat down at the edge of the bed, beside the figure. The boy on the bed was about eleven and had messy brown hair and a pale complexion. He felt the dip of the mattress and opened his eyes, training them on Stella. He smiled weakly.


"Hey, Stell." He said. One of his arms were wrapped in a bandage and he extended his free hand to her. She grasped it tightly, trying to blink back her tears.


"Hey, Troy." Stella said, smiling back sadly. "How do you feel?"


Stacey had inched closer, more because she was curious than because she cared. She wasn't the type to go around telling people what she was seeing but she needed to know what had made the brave Griffindor break down like she did.


"Like shit." The boy, Troy, said. "How did you... find out?"


"Headmistress came and told me."


"So you brought a friend?" Troy gestured towards Stacey, who suddenly grew uncomfortable yet again.


"Why did you do it?" Stella asked, ignoring his question. Troy looked down at his bandaged arm and Stacey did too. What was going on? Stella suddenly grew frantic. Tears that she was holding back broke free and rolled down her cheeks. "Troy, you know how scared I get! Why don't you just stop! What's wrong with you?! What if you had- dammit, Troy! Cant you see how this is hurting me? Hurting mom and dad?!"


"Mom and dad don't give a shit!" Troy cried, his face in a snarl.


"That isn't true! They love you!" Stella said, her shoulders shaking with sobs. Stacey didn't know what to do. Was she to stay? Was she to leave and give them their privacy?


"I don't even know why they took me in!" The young boy said. "I was old enough to know!"


"Clearly you weren't!" Stella shook her head, "Look at how you're taking it!"


"You don't know how it feels!" Troy said, wrenching his hand away from her's. "You have a perfect life with a perfect family and great friends! You don't know what its like to be hurt! You'll never understand! Who knows?! This whole thing about caring might be a pretense!"


Stella stumbled off the bed and straightened herself, shock etched on to her face. It then contorted into anger. "You don't know shit. I can't believe you..." She spun on her heel and sprinted out of the infirmary. Troy moved his gaze to Stacey and they looked at each other.


"What're you looking at?" He spat.


She hesitated for a second before saying, "I don't know whats going on and how you're feeling but her love and care for you is most definitely not a pretense." With that, she nodded at the younger boy and left the hospital wing.


* * *


Hayley bounded down the stairs at full speed and spotted Pansy sitting on the couch, reading a book. She flopped down beside her sister and Pansy put the book aside, amusement on her face. She raised an eyebrow.


Hayley handed her a pamphlet in response. Pansy's attention was immediately drawn to the title of the pamphlet. "Speak without speaking."


She looked up at Hayley, confusion in her eyes. Hayley gestured for her to open it. She did. Her eyes widened as she read on and a lump formed in her throat.


Just then, Blaise entered through the fireplace and as he brushed himself down, he took in the scene in front of him. "What's going on?"


Hayley looked up and smiled slightly. "St. Mungo's has developed this procedure where someone who is incapable of speaking or hearing can do so through their minds. It's kind of like Legillamency and occlumency except much more open. There's a trial next monday and they're looking for volunteers."


"How does it work?" Blaise asked, taking a seat on the armchair adjacent to the sofa.


"It's this potion you take. It goes to your mind and the person you want to speak to, you can project your thoughts into their head and if they want to respond, they can do the same but they don't need to take the potion. It basically brings down the walls of your mind completely to allow you to project your words to others and allow others to project their words to you. You speak without speaking." Hayley explained.


"You said it's a potion?" Blaise asked and she nodded. "Aren't there side effects? And you said its a trial, what if it doesn't work?"


"That's why its a trial. They're not sure about the side effects. It won't cause death, for sure. But they need volunteers to see how effective it is."


"Is it safe to ask your sister?" Blaise asked, glancing at Pansy, who was scanning the pamphlet, a spark of hope ignited in her eyes. "What if it doesn't work? Is it right to bring her hopes up like that?"


"It's her choice..." Hayley said. "Im not going to take this opportunity away from her. And she's intelligent. She'll know she shouldn't keep her hopes up."


They waited for Pansy to finish reading and when she did, she passed it to Blaise, looked at Hayley and then hugged her sister tightly.


When they split apart, Hayley sent her a questioning look as if to ask 'Will you do it?' Pansy nodded, smiling slightly.


"Okay." Hayley nodded. She stood up to go collect her things for work. "Blaise?" The dark eyed man turned to her. "Would you mind staying here for the evening?"


"Getting off work late?" He asked.


"Well... uh, no. Somebody from work asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner with him, so-"


"Ah, it's a him. So a date." He raised an eyebrow.


"It's- well, I didn't mean to be insensitive towards anybody during this time but- I haven't quite been out- I mean-" She stammered, trying to feel less guilty about the situation. Things were difficult and going out to do something fun while the others weren't doing so well seemed insensitive to her on her part. She didn't want Blaise thinking the same...


"Hey, relax. I get it. It's okay." Blaise said, smiling slightly. "It's been five months. You... we... can't keep living like this. It's good that you have a date. Go out and enjoy. I'll stay here."


"Thank you, Blaise. Really." She said, fidgeting with her fingers and looking anywhere but at him. "I've just put my entire life on hold for the past months months and I need a small change..."


"Don't worry about it." Blaise said. "Just have fun." While Hayley collected her coat and robes from the kitchen table where she had left it, he asked, "So who is this guy?"


"Dane Evermare." Hayley said, a smile on her face. "He works in the floor above mine and we've been talking a lot recently and he finally asked me out so I said yes. We're going to Finch's Inn."


"Judging by the smile on your face, you were waiting ages for this, weren't you?" Blaise smirked, turning in his seat. Pansy knew who she was talking about and smiled at her. When Hayley didn't answer and blushed, he turned to her older sister. "She has, hasn't she?" Pansy nodded, her smiling wider.


"You like him?"


"Quite a bit." Hayley said softly, tucking her hair behind her ear and then knotting the rest into a bun.


"How old is he? Is he good looking enough? He must be if you chose him."


"You need to mind your business." Hayley laughed, heading for the sofa. She kissed her sister on the cheek and then went to the fireplace. "I'll see you both later tonight or tomorrow."


"Be home by nine thirty." Blaise joked.


"Yes, father." Hayley rolled her eyes before flooing away.


* * *


"Hermione, are you sure you're okay with this?" Irene asked Hermione as they sat together in the visiting room that morning.


"Yes, Irene, I am." Hermione nodded. "Don't worry, alright? It's just another mission."


"It's not just another mission... Well, it is. But it's with someone who you aren't comfortable with."


"Its not that Im uncomfortable with him, Irene. It's just awkward. But I think we've made progress. It isn't suffocatingly awkward anymore..." Hermione said. "Which really is progress."


Irene sighed. "If you insist. Look, there really isn't anything holding you down here. You can step out- they'll find a replacement."


"When have I ever stepped out of a mission?" The brown haired witch smiled. "Hows Rowen?"


"No improvement yet..." She said, shaking her head. "This is horrid. It's been days! If it wasn't for Draco and what he did-"


"What did he do?" Hermione asked, curious.


"They were asking for a higher payment as they were going on to more expensive procedures. I didn't quite have the cash then so he payed for me."


"Oh, Irene! Why didn't you say anything? We would've helped you!"


"You know I hate asking for help like that, Hermione..." Irene said, looking anywhere but at her. "I said I would pay him back as soon as I could. But this is getting difficult."


"Just ask me anytime you need money, Irene. You know you can."


"I know, Hermione. But Im like you, that way. I don't ask for money."


Hermione nodded at this, understanding what she meant. "But really, if it get's impossible- do ask. I'll be more than willing to help you. How much are they asking for?"


"Right now, a little over 4 thousand." Irene whispered.


"For the entire operation?"


"Per day."


Hermione gasped. "That's an unbelievable amount! Have you spoken to them?"


"They wont listen." Irene said, tears rising to her eyes for the nth time that week. "I've already spent over ten thousand galleons and that's almost fourteen months of pay for me."


"And the recent amount?"


"The hiked it up to 6 thousand which Draco payed for me." She said in a small voice. "I feel terrible."


"That was... amazing of him." Hermione said, feeling a lump in her throat. It was so like Draco... "Don't feel guilty about it, Irene. We all have sons. We wouldn't allow anything to happen to yours." She glanced at her watch. "I'll come to have dinner with you today, alright? It's extremely unhealthy of you to stay in here the entire day and night. I have to leave now, I'm sorry."


"It's good enough that you're coming here everyday for me, Hermione. I can't thank you enough."


"You don't have to, love." She hugged Irene and stood up. "Ill come back soon, okay? Take care."


"You too."


Hermione left and just as she was about to step into the floo, she stopped and returned to the reception.


"I was wondering where Lucius Malfoy is?" She asked. The receptionist asked for her confirmation and proceeded in giving her directions. Hermione headed for the room and upon reaching, she knocked twice and opened it when she heard a soft "come in."


She was met with the sight of Lucius sitting in bed, his head wrapped in a bandage and Narcissa sitting by his side. Their eyebrows shot up in surprise and Narcissa stood up.


"Please, sit down, Mrs. Malfoy." Hermione smiled, stepping into the room.


"Just because we haven't met in half a year, doesn't mean you go back to calling me Mrs.Malfoy, Hermione." Narcissa scolded lightly. "Darling, how've you been?" She sat back down.


"I've been fine." Hermione said but her face eyes spoke otherwise. "D-Draco told me about your incident, Lucius. It was horrible! How do you feel?"


"Im much better, Ms.Granger." Lucius said, sitting up straighter. "I must say, it's rather a pleasant surprise to see you here."


"I was just here to meet my friend-"


"Irene Knight, isn't it?" Narcissa asked.


"Yes, her. I was about to leave when I thought of meeting you both."


"You may have been there for only a few days but the Manor misses you," Narcissa said, smiling sadly. "Will you come to visit us sometime?"


Hermione felt uncomfortable at the prospect of visiting the manor. "I- I'll try. It's just-"


"We understand." Lucius said before she could stammer any further.


"Uh... Anyway, I actually had to get to work- I just dropped in for a minute to see you both." She said. "It was nice seeing you again."


"It was lovely seeing you, my dear. I hope we can see you again soon." Narcissa smiled, standing up to embrace the younger witch.


"Thank you for coming, Miss Granger." Lucius nodded at her. She smiled at them before leaving, finally allowing herself to relax once she was outside. It's not that she felt uncomfortable. It was the memories from the Manor that they reminded her of. Her time as Adriana Malfoy. Her time in Narcissa's gown. Her time dancing with-


No. She shook her head. She couldn't go down that memory lane.


* * *


"I'm sorry."


Stacey looked up and raised an eyebrow at Drake, who was standing in across her on the other side of the common room coffee table. She was seated on the floor and was in the middle of doing her potions essay.


"I didn't quite catch that." She said, her lips in a firm line.


"I said Im sorry. I acted-"


"Irrationally? Stupidly? Illogically?" She suggested.


"Yes. And Im sorry."


"I don't want an apology, Drake." She shook her head. "I want to know that the next time you see me talk to Lysander, you won't go around making comments that are completely unfair."


Drake ran a hand through his dark hair. "Stace-"


She stood up, her hands crossed over her chest. "No, Drake. I'm serious. Im friends with him and if you truly are my best friend, you'll understand that and accept it. For my sake."


He squeezed his eyes shut.


"I dont understand," She said softly. "You're Albus' friend. He's in love with Matilda and you don't have a problem with that."


"You're in love with him?!" Drake asked, his eyes flying open and widening to the size of dinner plates.


"No!" She exclaimed and he relaxed. "Im saying that if you can accept Albus liking Matilda, why can't you accept me being friends with Lysander?"


"Are you guys just friends?" He asked. "Im serious."


"Yes." Stacey nodded.


"You don't like him then?" Drake asked.


She didn't understand why she hesitated for a split second. She didn't understand why while she said a confident "No" she didn't feel as confident inside.


"Okay..." Drake nodded slowly. "Then I will try being more accepting. I will be the best friend that I have failed to be recently." All thoughts of Lysander flew out of her mind momentarily as she threw herself at him, hugging him tightly. He smiled softly and hugged her back.


"Thanks for the invite." A voice spoke up to their left and they turned towards it to see Scorpius leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, smirking. Stacey laughed and held her free arm out, asking him to come over to them. He stepped over and joint in the group hug, holding his friend tightly and hoping nothing changed, though knowing that it was not likely that it wouldnt...


* * *


Blaise stared at the TV screen without registering what was going on. He was sitting on one side of Pansy on her sofa, Theodore Nott on her other side. He had just come in from Italy that evening for a vacation and to meet the few of them.


Blaise's eyes moved to the wall clock on his left beside the bookshelf. 11:30. It was late. Really late. She still hadn't returned from her date. She said she would. It was completely unlike her to go out and not return for the night. She'd never leave Pansy just like that. She would have informed one of them...


"Theo, I need to go check on someone- could you stay here for a bit until I get back?" He asked, getting to his feet. Theo and Pansy looked up at him.


"Sure, mate. Is it Hayley?" Theo asked. Blaise nodded. He bent down and kissed Pansy's cheek before heading outside to apparate.


"I'll see you in a bit. Don't go anywhere," Blaise said before turning and apparating away to near Finch's Inn. He cursed as he realized that it was raining heavily and he squinted through the downpour, making his way to the Restaurant. As he got closer, he noticed a figure sitting on the bench outside the Inn, the figure's knees hugged close to her. He got closer to her and recognized her immediately, her black hair plastered to her cheeks and forehead, her blue dress completely soaked.


"What is wrong with you, Hayley?!" Blaise yelled over the sound of the rain. Her head snapped up and she was about to open her mouth when he strode forward, grabbed her arm and pulled her to the nearest sheltered area, the front porch of the Inn. "Are you freaking mad?! How long have you been there?!" She just stared at him and he took in her appearance. Her make-up was ruined- her eyeliner the most prominent as it was running down her cheeks and smudged around her eyes. She was completely soaked, her dress clinging to her as she shivered.


"What the hell happened?" Blaise asked, angrily. "Do you know what time it is?! This is so irresponsible of you!" She just stared at him before squeezing her eyes shut. Twin tears rolled down her cheeks and his expression softened a bit. "Hayley... Did- did Dane not drop you home?" She shook her head. "He just... left?" She shook her head again. "Then?"


She opened her tear-filled eyes and looked up at him. "I landed up here on t-time. He wasn't there. So I went back to the hospital. Found him talking to a bunch of people about how-how I was probably waiting for him. And then- and then he laughed. The end. That's it. He stood me up. He wasn't even- even going to come in the first place!" She said, looking away from him as she tried desperately to blink away her tears. Blaise didn't know what to say.


"Merlin, Im so stupid!" She exclaimed, running her hand through her hair frustratedly. "I thought it would finally... be something! I thought things were finally going to change! Something different after five months! But... I was so stupid." She shook her head, biting down on her lower lip. "Look at me, Blaise! I've been through war, Ive been through my father's and brother-in-law's death, Ive watched my best friend die right in front of my eyes, Ive watched as my mother lost her mind and- and this is breaking me?" She squeezed her eyes shut and Blaise felt like his heart was clenching uncomfortably in his chest.


"I'm so frustrated." She said softly and he had to strain his ears to hear her over the sound of the pounding rain. "Im so angry and upset and I- I don't even know any more. Im stuck. Im stuck where I was five months ago. And I know that there might be people out there who have it worse than I do- like Pansy- but that doesn't make it any easier for me. I may be selfish, I don't know- but-" She took in a ragged breath and covered her face with her hands. "You know the worst part about today?" She looked up at him, her lower lip trembling. "I actually liked him! I really really liked him!"


"And that's okay, Hayley... It wasn't your fault." Blaise said, crossing his arms over his chest and feeling a tad bit uncomfortable about the situation.


"Isn't it? Dane is THE St.Mungo playboy. He is an A class womanizer! What was I thinking?!" She said, gritting her teeth together. "I actually thought he liked me? Did I really? What's gotten into me? I used to be so careful with who I went around with. Am I really that desperate for a change? Desperate enough to go for Dane freaking Evermare- the guy whose gone out with almost all my female colleagues? I should have KNOWN he'd stand me up! I should have KNOWN this was just a big joke to him. A joke on me. I didn't see it coming..."


"That's not your fault, Hayle!" Blaise said, putting his hand on her shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture. "You didn't see it coming and that's okay. You made a mistake and it's natural. A class womanizer or not, he's definitely an A class jerk."


She managed a watery smile. "I shouldn't have expected anything, is all..."


"Its okay to expect. We've been living the same way for months now. We all have expectations. Sometimes they don't work out but that doesn't mean you stop trying. Hayley, I can't promise you that things are going to be alright any time soon- but they will. I promise you it get's better."


"Has it for you?" She asked and then pursed her lips together, biting down from inside, hoping to keep the tears away.


"Im stuck like you are." She looked at him and he stared back at her. "But that doesn't mean Ive stopped trying. Im taking it day by day- allowing time to heal me. It hasn't as yet but I think it will."


"You do?" Hayley swallowed hard.


"Honestly?" She nodded. "I do."


"Okay..." Hayley choked out.


"Let's get you home. Im sure we have some left overs or else we'll order in something." He held his hand out and after looking at it for a long second, she wiped at her tears and put her hand in his.


* * *


"Are you heading to St.Mungo's?" Draco asked as he separated the large stack in front of him into separate stacks to pass around to the other's. He was in Hermione's office, watching her gather things and place them into her bag.


"Yeah, wanted to check up on Irene and Rowen." She said. "I'm sorry I dumped the task of passing the files around on you, Malfoy."


" 'S okay, ma'am." Draco shrugged, "Most of the others are on missions any way. I'm probably working the least right now."


"You won't be tomorrow." Hermione said, heading for the fireplace. "We have a long case ahead of us."


"Yeah..." Draco said, lifting the first stack of files into his arms. "Oh, the fireplace for St.Mungo's isn't working. Didn't you get their owl?"


Hermione looked confused. "No, I didn't. It isn't working? What about if there's an emergency? You can't even apparate unless you have permission."


"You send them a patronus or call them and they'll apparate to you. They've covered that area very well."


"So I've to apparate to the nearest point and then walk?" Hermione groaned.


"Pretty much. I'm heading over to check on Father, whose getting out today, and Irene too once I'm done with work. If you want, you can come with me then." He asked, keeping his eyes on the files. He couldn't look at her. Not now. Most of him knew that she'd reject the offer but some part of him- some irrational part of him hoped to Merlin that she would accept.


The words kept ringing in her head as she stared at him. 'If you want, you can come with me'. And before she knew what she was saying, she had said "Sure."


His head snapped up and his eyes met her's for a second before they both looked away. "Uh... okay.... I just need to get these files sorted and we can go then?"


"Um... yeah. How about I help you with those? It'll go faster that way." She stepped up to him, shouldering her handbag. He nodded and handed her half the files.


"Just make sure you place the right files on the right tables- they're all together." He said, heading for the door.


"I know what to do, Malfoy." She smiled slightly. "Im not glued to a desk all day and I happened to be the one constantly reminding the department of these things."


He had the decency to blush as they left the room and she locked it behind her. They finished the task faster than Draco would have managed alone and started towards the Ministry exit.


"Have your card, right?" He asked her as they walked. She nodded and they fell silent once again. "Have you thought about what cover you'll be using tomorrow for the case? Or are there already disguises that are ready or something?"


"I'm allowed to choose. They might ask me to produce a unique, original cover though because we don't want to take any risks with polyjuice."


"Isn't that difficult? Producing a completely original look? There's bound to be someone in the Wizarding world who looks like what you've produced." Draco said.


"That's true but I guess we'll just have to take our chances." She shrugged. "But Ill just have to look as different from my real self as possible. That's usually what is asked of us."


"So that they can't track you back in any way." He stated rather than asked.


"That's right." Hermione nodded.


"I... I heard you went to see my parents." He said. She turned to look at him and watched as he shoved his hands deep into his pockets and looked down as they walked. Her heart ached as she realized how familiar this image of him was. It was typical of Draco- hands in his pocket, hair ruffled by the wind.


She swallowed hard and shook her head slightly. "Yeah, I did. Narcissa asked me to... come to the Manor sometime."


He looked up, surprised, at this. "You- you don't have to if you don't want to. There's no compulsion."


"I know," She said.


"When was the last time you met your parents?" He asked suddenly after a few moments of silence.


She furrowed her eyebrows together. "I haven't met them in... a while." Her shoulders slumped and she said more softly, "I haven't met them in months..."


"Haven't they asked?" He inquired, sending her a sideway glance. "Do they... Do they know Weasley's... alive?"


It hurt him as much as it hurt her to speak about anything related to- well, that time.


"Yes, they know." She answered, her throat constricting. "They were shocked obviously. But they got over it I think." They asked about you and asked me whether I was sure about choosing Ron and I hesitated greatly before saying yes, she thought.


Draco nodded just as they reached the apparation point. "See you on the other side." He apparated away and after a taking a deep, ragged breath, she apparated after him.


The sight that met them when they entered Rowen's waiting room threw them into a panic. She was sitting on the floor on her knees, her face in her hands and her body racking with uncontrollable sobs.


"Irene?!" Hermione whispered, fearing the worst. Irene looked up and seeing them, broke down into a fresh set of sobs. Hermione ran up to her and knelt down beside her, putting her arms around her shoulders. "Hey, hey, sshhh, talk to me, love. What happened?"


"The surgeries are failing, Hermione." She choked back a sob. "They say that they can only depend on muggle treatment now." She shook her head, her face contorting before the tears overflowed once again. "My Rowen's going to die, Hermione. My baby's going to d-die." She leaned into Hermione's shoulder and began crying.


"Dont, Irene! Don't say that! So he needs muggle treatment, what are they doing about it?" Hermione asked, pulling the other witch away and holding her face.


"They're bringing in a doctor from muggle Italy. The costs are much more but I really don't care about that- I'll give anything for my baby to survive. Anything! But- but the healers said that there's only a fifteen percent chance that he'll survive... I just- I can't live without him!"


"And you won't!" Hermione shook her head firmly. "You will not. Muggle treatment may not be as great as magical treatment but it doesn't mean it isn't good at all. Trust me, I should know! How good is this doctor they're bringing in?"


"They say she's the best but still..."


"What's her name?" Draco asked, coming to stand beside their figures.


"Evlynn May something, I don't know... Im just so- I can't live without him." Irene cried, burying her face in her hands again.


"Evlynn Mayfair?" Draco inquired and she looked up and nodded.


"Yes, that's it. Mayfair. How- how do you know?"


"How much are they asking?" He asked, ignoring her question, his mind working quickly.


"Some nine or ten thousand." Irene said, her face red and streaked with tears.


"Is she already here?"


"Yes. But they won't let me in- they won't even let me see my baby!" She said, gritting her teeth together.


"I'm going to come back in a few minutes, alright?" Draco said. "I know someone who can help." With that, he sprinted out of the room. Hermione held her friend in her arms and didn't let go even when they heard footsteps headed their way- two pairs of footsteps.


She turned her body and watched Draco enter with another man. He had dark dirty blonde hair, dark brown eyes and was tall and had a gangly build.


"Irene, this is Theodore Nott." Draco said. Hermione stood up and pulled Irene to her feet.


"I dont understand, how is this relevant?" Irene asked, pressing her palms against her eyes tiredly.


"I'm Evlynn Mayfair's son." Theodore said, stepping forward and holding his hand out. She ignored it and stared at him and then Draco.


"I don't see how this will help my son, Draco!" Tears built up in her eyes and Draco spoke quickly.


"He has permission to see his mother in the room as he's a surgeon too- he'll help and get more help from other countries and at the same time, he can get updates for you. He can even try to get permission for you to go in and see Rowen." Draco explained.


"I can even get her to do the surgery free of cost." Theodore said.


Irene's eyes snapped up to meet his. "What do you think I am?! I can pay for my own son's treatment! I don't need your help!"


"Irene, love, you need to calm down first." Hermione said, turning Irene to face her. "Listen to them. Listen to what they're offering. You can see your baby, you can see your Rowen. He's offering to bring in more help. For Rowen." She spoke slowly and allowed Irene to register the words.


Irene turned to Theodore. "You can do that?" She asked softly.


"I can try my best." He answered.


"No, don't try- you have to!" Irene said, panicking once again. "This is my Rowen! He's what I live for! He's my reason to live! Please! You have to help me!" She gripped his arm and despite the tight hold, he didn't flinch nor did he move away.


"I will, Ms. Knight..." He nodded. Irene suddenly realized she was holding on to him and let go and stepped back.


"Irene, you need to go home and sleep..." Hermione said softly.


"Home? I can't... Rowen..."


"You're not doing anything here except sacrificing your health. Please, love, you have to sleep. You haven't slept in days." Hermione pleaded with her. "Come home with me, then."


"Theo's living with me. He has permission to apparate straight into the hospital and he can be contacted faster than owls can contact you. If you like, Irene, you can come stay in the Manor- there's plenty of space." Draco offered and she turned to him.


"I... You've done enough for me already." Irene whispered, wanting desperately to accept his offer.


"It's nothing. Please, Irene. You need to sleep."


"I promise I'll get you if any emergency comes up- even the smallest thing." Theodore said. "I'll take the room next to yours."


Irene turned to Hermione, doubt in her eyes. Could she trust them?


"I think you should." Hermione said, nodding. "It's a good idea. You'll be fine there."


"And you'll call me and apparate me instantly?" Irene asked Theodore.


"I promise I will." He nodded.


"It's settled then." Draco said. "Her-Gran-" He sighed, unsure with what he was allowed to refer to her as- "Ma'am, you can head home. It's late and we have a long case ahead of us."


Hermione nodded and hugged Irene tightly. "Take care and call me if you need anything."


Irene nodded and held her tightly before letting go.


"I'll get help from Italy and other countries and then come over to the Manor, yeah Drake?" Theo said to Draco, who nodded. With that, Theo left the waiting room.


"I'll see you... both... tomorrow." Hermione smiled at Irene before turning her attention to Draco and nodding at him. He stared at her for a second before nodding back. Her heart beating madly for an unfathomable reason, she left.


* * *

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THAT was a reallyyyyyy long chapter wasn't it? :P It's MUCH longer than usual haha :P I enjoyed writing it though. It was more of a push-the-story-forward in one chapter slash filler thing. But I'm quite happy with it (: Okay, so i know its weird that I introduced ONE MORE new character, Theo, but it'll work out. If he doesn't seem like a good character selection, do let me know- I'll change it then!
I hope you enjoyed your christmas slash New years gift, like TOR's latest, I worked hard for days on it ;)

Love always, you guys are the best xx
FeltonLewis :)

Chapter 9: Only More Complicated
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

"Seems only like yesterday, not even gravity
Could keep your feet off the ground when you were with me.
How could two be as one then become so divided now?
There's no use hiding from misery"

-Energy, Keri Hilson


(1st March, Wednesday)


Blaise and Hayley apparated back to her apartment and her eyes widened as soon as they landed on Theo.


"Theo! Nobody told me you were coming!" She cried, a smile appearing on her face. She ran towards him and he stood up and hugged her tight.


"Nobody exactly knew I was coming." He laughed. "Its so good to see you but-" He pulled away and frowned at her tear streaked face. "-what happened and who do I need to beat up?" 


She smiled sadly up at him and then turned to Blaise, who was heading towards the kitchen. Pansy stood up and placed her hand on her sister's arm, a worried expression on her face.


"My date stood me up, is all." She responded and then explained it to Pansy slowly and through actions.


"He did?" Pansy mouthed, her expression sad and angry. 


"It's okay. He wasn't worth it." Hayley said and Theo pulled her into his embrace again.


"Merlin, you're so strong." He said as she pulled away this time. "Are you sure you're okay?"


"I'll be fine." She said, looking down at her dress.


"Go get changed, Hayle. Ive got dinner out in the kitchen for you." Blaise called. 


"I'll be right back." She said and hurried upstairs. Just then, they heard a *pop* and turned to see Draco apparate into their living room.


"Theo- brilliant to see you, mate." He said. "Is your mum in town?"


"She is- she actually has a surgery to perform. She's already in St. Mungo's. Why do you ask?"


"She's performing on a six month old baby whose mother is a colleague of mine. Just come with me- I need your help." Something about the look on Draco's face made Theo agree instantly. Kissing Pansy on the cheek and waving to Blaise, he left with Draco.


* * *


When they arrived outside their rooms, Draco told Irene that if she needed anything, she just had to come and get him and showed her that his room was two doors away from her's. He wished them goodnight and retreated to his room.


"Uh... goodnight then." Theo said, scratching the back of his head. She looked like she was going to say something but then looked away. "Irene?" She looked up, her face showing how scared she was. 


"Im too far away from him." She choked out.


"Hey." He stepped forward and placed his hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him, tears welling up in her eyes. "If anything happens- anything at all- the first thing Im going to do is come and get you, alright? I have the best team apparating to St. Mungo's within the next five minutes- theyre probably already there actually. Rowen's going to be fine. Okay?"


She nodded and closed her eyes, feeling her tears slip out beneath her lids. "Thank you, Theodore."


"Call me Theo. All my friends do." He smiled softly at her when she opened her eyes to look at him. She nodded again. "Night, Irene."


" 'Night... Theo." She managed a weak smile before disappearing into her room.


* * *


Hermione shut the door behind her and hung up her coat on a hook beside the door. She stood where she was, rubbing her hands over her face tiredly. 


"Hermione? Are you alright?" She heard Ron ask and she looked up to see him coming down the stairs. "Did you come from the hospital?" She nodded numbly. "And? How is Rowen?" 


She suddenly felt tears prick the back of her eyes and before she knew it, tears were slipping out beneath her closed eyelids. She felt arms wrap around her and she gladly leaned into him, the tears falling faster.


"Is he-" 


She shook her head. "But it's critical. Magic has f-failed. They're trying muggle ways now. Its the only ch-choice left." She sobbed and he hugged her closer. 


"He'll be fine." Ron whispered, rubbing her back soothingly. 


"She can't lose him, Ron, she just can't!" She cried, putting her arms around his neck. "She can't! He's her reason to live!"


"She won't lose him." He shook his head and pulled away to hold her face in his hands. "You hear me? She will not lose him!"


"We've lost too much already, Ron. No more... We can't lose anybody else. Anything else." She said, her body shaking. "Everything we love, everyone we love is snatched right out of our fingers and there's nothing we can do about it... I can't take it anymore..."


He pulled her back into his chest, holding her as she trembled. "We won't lose anymore. Rowen will be just fine, Hermione. Whose working on him now?"


"Evlynn Mayfair. She's Theodore Nott's mother." Hermione said softly.


"Theodore Nott? From Hogwarts?" He felt her nod. 


"Malfoy got Theodore to get more help and cut down costs completely because Irene's finding it really difficult." Hermione said, calmer now. She pulled away and Ron lead her upstairs as they spoke.


"Malfoy? He did that?" Ron asked, swallowing back any contempt he felt for the man.


"Yes. He's been helping Irene a lot lately." She said.



"That's... that's good." He said, nodding slightly. "When's your case?"


"Tomorrow evening."


"Do you get to come in late?" She nodded. "Good then. You need sleep before it. Sleep in late and you can go in late then, alright?" Another nod. Her mind had left Ron and drifted to tomorrow's case. It was a big case. And it was with Draco Malfoy...


* * * 


Blaise jolted awake and blinked a few times to remember where he was. Pansy and Hayley's guest room. Rubbing his eyes, he remembered how he had decided to stay over incase Hayley or Pansy needed anything considering Hayley wasn't in a very good state after being stood up.


"NO! LEAVE HER ALONE!" Hayley's voice suddenly rang through the house. It couldn't be Pansy, surely. He got off the bed, his wand gripped tightly in his hand and stumbled outside towards her bedroom. He pushed the door open and stopped at the doorway, his wand ready. But there was nobody but her. Her and what seemed like a terrible nightmare. She was thrashing around on the bed, drenched in sweat and tears running down her cheeks. He didnt hesitate for even a second before rushing to her side and grabbing her shoulders and holding her still.


"Hayley, get up! You're fine and so is- she. Just wake up!" Her eyes flew open and she stared blankly up at the ceiling, panting before moving her head and focusing on him. She squeezed her eyes shut and turned to her side, curling up with her hands over her face.


"How long?" He asked quietly, kneeling down on the floor beside her.


"Since that day." Hayley croaked. "Pansy doesn't hear so I deal with it alone."


"Who was it this time?"


"Not just this time- almost every time. Violet." She said, her voice shaking. Blaise froze for a second before shifting closer to Hayley and placing his hand awkwardly on her arm.


"She's gone. Nothing can hurt her anymore..." He choked out, feeling tears prick the back of his eyes.


"They took her away. They took my best friend away, Blaise." She said, breaking down. "And I still haven't gotten over it no matter how much I tried. I miss her, Blaise, I miss her." She moved her hands from her face and hugged herself. "And Im expected to be the pillar of strength in this broken family. Im expected to be the strong one. The one holding things together. How do I do that when I can't h-hold myself together? How?! Im so tired of trying to be the one to hold things together. Im too tired! Im-"


"You're human too." Blaise said, taking her hands and holding them in his. "You're human too and you have all the right to be tired, understand me? You lost your best friend and I lost my wife. Violet meant more to us than she meant to anybody else and that's easy to see. Other's are suffering, yes, but that doesn't mean that we need to be the ones to always be strong. We're human. You're human. I know you're tired. I know you're trying to get over it- just like I am but-"


"I miss her!" Hayley cried and he pulled her closer to him till her forehead was touching his shoulder. "I miss her! I need her! I can't do this, Blaise! I can't!"


"Yes, you can! Violet would never want this! She would not want you to give up like this! You know that, Hayle. You know that as well as I do. The only thing that's keeping me from giving up is my son and knowing that she'd never want me to do that-"


"You have a son. You have a reason to live... "


"And you do too! Pansy, Hayley. She needs you more than she needs anybody else... Look at me." She looked up through wet eyelashes. "You saw Violet die in front of your eyes. I saw Violet die in my arms. You're going through exactly what Im going through- you have the same memories as I do. You're someone who understands what Im facing. Pansy needs you, I need you. Please don't give up. You CANT give up. Okay? Promise me you won't."


"Im tired..."


"As am I. But you need to promise me. You WILL find your true reason to live, I can promise you that."


"And you?"


"I... I may." Blaise said. "Promise me, Hayley."


She nodded against his shoulder and he pulled her to him. She buried her face in the crook of his neck and he remained there, allowing her to cry on him until she fell asleep, after which he settled her on her bed and left. He checked in on Pansy, who was asleep with her bedside light on and a book fallen open on her chest. He closed the book, placed it on the table beside the bed, moved her into a more comfortable position and kissed her cheek before shutting the light off and leaving.


* * *


(2nd March, Thursday)


"Scorpius!" The youngest Malfoy halted in his tracks and turned around. Rose hurried up to him, stuffing her transfiguration books into her bag. "Can I talk to you?"


"I have Potions in five minutes." He answered, his face blank.


"Please, let's just talk..." Scorpius shrugged.


"Go on then."


"I'm sorry. Im sorry about what I said. It was horrid and insensitive of me... I- I was just scared I would lose my mother."


"You insulted my father." He said, shortly. 


"I did and Im sorry. I didn't mean it."


"Didn't you, though?" Scorpius asked, crossing his arms over his chest. "Don't you hate him?"


"I-" She looked down at her hands.


"What has he ever done to you?" He asked, bitterly. "Why do you hate him? Is it because he and your mum are so close?"


"N-no, it's-"


"Don't try and bullshit your way through this, Rose. Just please don't. I don't know what you want. You want to be with me yet you can't find a justified reason to dislike my father. He's my father, Rose! He's the only thing I have in my life! And if you can't like him, then I don't think we're going to work out."


Her jaw dropped open and she shook her head. "No, Scorpius... please. Don't say that."


"Im not going to lie to you. I really can't be with somebody who can't accept my father. It doesn't work for me that way. And unless you understand that and are ready to work accordingly, I can't make things work with you." And for the second time in a week, he turned away and walked away from her.


* * *


She stared at him, studying his features and memorizing every one of them. His blonde hair. His eyes. His sharp nose. The intense expression of concentration on his face as he wrote on a piece of parchment in front of him. She didn't know why he chose to spend his time with her of all people. She didn't know why she felt herself being pulled towards him every time she was near to him. She didn't know what it was about him that made her heart flutter. What it was about him that made her stomachs do flips. What it was about him that made her forget all about giving up. What it was about him that made her keep moving.


Her eyes travelled to his, only to find them trained on her. She blushed at being caught as he raised an eyebrow.


"Something wrong?" Lysander asked and Stacey's throat suddenly felt dry. 


"N-no." She heard her own voice emerging hoarse and cleared it. "No," She repeated. He half-smiled at her and returned to his essay and she felt herself release a ragged breath. 


There was a reason she had hesitated in answering Drake's question the other day...


Scorpius had been right in thinking that everything was only going to get more complicated. 


* * *


"Good evening, Sir." Hermione greeted, entering Crane's office. Draco and Harry were already seated in front of his desk and Crane was seated in his usual position.


"Good evening, Miss Granger." Crane nodded, smiling at the lady he considered his daughter. 


"Is there news about another victim?" She asked, taking a seat in between Draco and Harry like last time except this time she was less nervous and awkward.


"Unfortunately so. We found her today morning- same street as the last time- same procedure. It's definitely him." Crane said. "Are you ready?"


"I am." She said, confidently. She took a deep breath, turned to Draco and said, "You?" He looked taken aback at being spoken to for a second before recovering and nodding.


"Yes, ma'am." 


Harry watched the exchange curiously, a little relieved that they weren't as uncomfortable as before. "Hermione, have you thought of a disguise?"


"Not yet, Harry. I had a horrid evening and morning and I- I'm sorry. Its awfully careless of me but-"


"Actually, I thought of a cover." Draco spoke up and all eyes turned to him. "Could I suggest it?" They nodded and he looked directly at Hermione. "Adriana Malfoy." She visibly froze, her throat tightening. 


"I- Im not sure thats a good idea." She stammered.


He shrugged. "It's a good cover though. She actually exists, though in a remote corner of the world. She's still a Malfoy and that should attract Washworth to an extent. And she looks nothing like you- that's got to be a plus."


Hermione didn't have to think about it to know that it was a good idea. But... Did she have the courage? To go back to being Adriana Malfoy? After everything...


"Im sorry but who is Adriana Malfoy?" Harry asked, his eyebrows furrowed together.


"It's a cover I used when I was hiding in Malfoy Manor." Hermione answered shortly, her heart rate increasing rapidly. 


"Let's do it then." Crane said, but noticed that Hermione had turned a shade paler. "Miss Granger, you're okay with using the cover, aren't you?"


She swallowed hard and stood up. "Yes, Sir."


The others stood up too.


"Shall I, Ma'am?" Draco asked, his wand out. She stared at him for a second before nodding. He waved his wand over her and she felt her appearance change. Once the transformation was complete, she turned to the mirror hanging on the wall beside the window and bit her lip hard, willing the tears to stay back. Her hair had turned jet-black and was completely straight while her eyes were now an emerald green. Memories flooded her mind and it took all that she had to restrain them.


"Are- are you sure this is a good idea?" Harry asked, looking at his best friend. Hermione glanced behind her through the mirror at Draco, who stood there- staring at her, his eyes guarded and his face blank.


"It's fine. I can do this." Hermione said, her voice a pitch higher than normal. She cleared it and turned to Harry. "It's perfect, Harry."


"Okay. So long as you're comfortable." He nodded, his eyes not leaving her's. He knew she wasn't okay. 


"So you know what to do, then." Crane said, handing her a fresh set of purple robes. "Today- you just meet him. Don't approach him. He will approach you. Malfoy, you have a cover ready?" Draco nodded and waved his wand over himself, making his hair turn dark brown and his eyes turn black, his facial features less sharp and his build slightly shorter. "Good. Malfoy will be seated at the bar. He can listen in on your conversation with Washworth through a muggle microchip." He handed Hermione and Draco microchips. Hermione removed her Ministry cloak and swished her wand, changing her robes for the purple ones. They clipped their microchips to the inside of their robes and Draco had a listening piece which he inserted into his ears and covered up with a concealment charm. "Right. So today, Miss Granger- all you do is get to "know" him. Make an impression- make him want to meet you tomorrow. You also need to attach a locating device and a listening device on him. If luck's on our side, we should be able to get more information on his whereabouts and movement. But our main priority is bringing this forward for three days, long enough to get information on him.


"Tomorrow, you do the same and make sure he invites you on Saturday as well and at the same time you tag him with a locating device as well as a sound chip once again. On Saturday, you will have back up and many more devices strapped to you to make sure you're safe but if we don't have enough information on him, you'll be required to go with him to wherever he takes his victims and once you have enough against him, you arrest him."


"It sounds a lot easier than it actually is." Draco commented and the other nodded, agreeing.


"It will be much more difficult but that's why we have our best agents." Crane said. He held out a playing card with an Ace printed on it and Hermione took it from him. "Portkey to the location. We assume nothing will go wrong today. So good luck." The old man stepped back and tapped the card with his wand. "You'll get transported in fifteen seconds." Harry grabbed Hermione into a hug quickly before letting go. Draco held on to the other end of the card and they looked at each other.


"Be safe." They heard Harry say before they felt a tug at their navel and they left the office in a swirl of wind.


* * *


Hugo entered the Hospital wing and dumped his bag at the foot of the bed. Troy Thomas looked up and smirked at the youngest Weasley. "Hey, mate."


"You're mad!" The eleven year old barked, his face red with rage. The smirk on Troy's face disappeared as his best friend continued- "You're absolutely mad! Do you have any idea how difficult it is for me to hear that you've tried to... Damn, Troy!"


Troy looked away, placing his good hand on the bandages of his hurt arm. "You don't understand."


"I've known you for five years, Troy. Since we were six. Im your best friend. If I don't understand, make me understand." The red head said firmly. "You can't keep-" He waved his hand at the boy's condition "-It doesn't work like that. You refuse to speak to any of us about it. You keep saying we won't understand. Try us- try me! Help me understand- let me be here for you."


"It's not easy. You just... won't get it."


"My parents are not in love anymore. He pretended he was dead and during the period, she fell in love with somebody else but she went back to my father when he suddenly reappeared again because she didn't want Rose and me to live with our parents separated. Do you know how much that kills me? Knowing that it's my fault my mum refuses to be happy? I've been through so much shit in the past half year that I can't tell wrong from right- I can't tell the truth from lies. But I understand it all. You've been so caught up with believing that you've had it the worst that you haven't bothered taking a look at the rest of us. Haven't bothered asking me how Ive been. You know how that feels? It feels like crap. But despite that, Im still here. You think I won't understand? Well you won't know until you try." Hands shaking, Hugo picked up his bag and left the Hospital Wing, leaving a stunned Troy behind him.


* * *


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That had a lot of scenes with different people, didn't it? :P I just wanted to bring forward all their stories so they were fresh in your minds once again after that long break- for which Im terrible sorry for. Ive been really busy with my mock examinations and I haven't had a lot of time at all. Then on top of that, the entire confusion with my chapters in THS happened so my updating of TOR and TRTL took a while :/ But here I am once again, continuing to write for you (:

Do review please! Please please please! The box down there is hungry for words!

Much love,
FeltonLewis xx
T

Chapter 10: So Close Yet So Far
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hey readers! Omg, it's been way too long and I'm so so sorryy! I've been insanely busy with studies and my finals coming up gahh I really am sorry! I've been typing more lately the past week and im done with another chapter of this one and She's The Devil so I'll put those up too ASAP! 
I'm sorry again, please don't give up on me.
Enjoy xx


--------------------------------------------------------------


Cause there we are again and I loved you so
Back before you lost the one real thing you've ever known
It was rare, I was there, I remember it all too well

-All Too Well, Taylor Swift.



(2nd March, Thursday)


Hermione entered the bar first, her robes open from the front and her heels clicking against the tiled floors loud enough to have all the few heads present there turn towards her. The place was screaming expensive and she made a mental note to get the Ministry to reimburse the money she'd spend on this mission.


She seated herself at the bar and ordered a light drink. In a few seconds, she saw Draco sitting a little distance away from her and ordering a drink himself. 


"Do you come here often?" A silky voice was suddenly speaking in her ear, cold breath brushing her ear. 


She forced herself to remain calm and composed and looked over her shoulder, a lazy smile playing at her lips. There he was. No doubt about it. Ace Washworth. Dressed in a smart white button up and black slacks, his black hair standing up charmingly in spikes. It was no wonder women went with him wherever he asked them to go. He didn't look even remotely the type who would well, for a lack of better words- slit your throat and stab you in the stomach.


"I don't actually." She said, following his movements with her eyes as he sat down beside her and asked for a drink. "First time here. How about you?"


"No wonder you looked unfamiliar. I'm sure I would have noticed a gorgeous lady like you." He smiled at her and looked her up and down. "I've been here a few times. Ace Washstone." He held his hand out.


She placed her hand in his and smiled back. "Adriana Malfoy." 
 

"Malfoy, you say?" His eyebrows furrowed together. "Interesting." If she hadn't been searching for it, she would have missed the malicious glint that flashed through his eyes for a split second. Draco had been right- he was attracted by the Malfoy name.


He leaned forward and brushed his lips against her knuckles. "Pleasure to meet you, Adriana." He picked up the drink that was placed in front of him and sipped at it. "So what brings a lovely lady like you here?"


"Long day of work." She shrugged, bringing the rim of her glass to her lips. "Needed to unwind." She sipped at it and her eyes almost widened. Wasn't this supposed to be light? Why did it burn her throat? 


He nodded, "I know what you mean. So, are you married? Engaged? In a relationship?"


She smirked. "No normal man can handle this." She motioned to herself with the hand holding her glass. He was impressed, she noticed. 


"I like that." He said. 


I'm sure you do, she thought acidly. 


"So, Ace, what do you do?" Hermione asked, placing her drink down. 


"I run my own business- the Warlhome enterprises- have you heard of it?" He asked. She had because she had done her research. 


"No, I'm not entirely familiar with the business world." She laughed. "My father works with a company connected to the Malfoy enterprises though. Have you ever worked with them?"


"Might have." Ace frowned and Hermione found that had she not known he was a serial killer, she would have honestly found him quite charming. "Too many alliances to keep track." He threw a smile her way and she returned it, nodding. "And what do you do, Miss Malfoy?" 


"I run a small fashion boutique in Paris." She replied, going over her cover-story once more in her head. 


He nodded. "That's sweet." He was about to say something when he paused, looked down at his watch and then sighed. "I must leave now- I still have some work left to do at home. Would you like to meet tomorrow, Adriana?" 


Perfect. "That would be great, I'd love that." Hermione nodded and they stood up together. He took her hand and pressed a kiss against it and smiled. 


"Same place, same time?" 


"Sure." She said, wondering if she could slip the tracking device on to him in any way. He turned to leave and her attention transferred from the device to the figure that had rammed straight into Ace. She watched Draco straighten up and apologize in a slurred voice before frowning and leaving the place. Ace brushed himself down, nodded at Hermione and left after Draco.


She shook her head, returned to the counter, placed a few coins on the counter and left the bar, buttoning up the front of her robes securely. 


"Hello." She jumped in fright, her eyes widening and her hand instinctively grabbing her wand. Draco appeared in front of her, hands in his pockets and smirking. 


"You idiot." She breathed, waiting for her heart to return to its normal pace. "Don't do that again. And what if Ace was still around? It would've blown our cover!" They began walking away from the bar together. 


"I made sure he had left-"


"Before hiding yourself in the shadows? Just waiting to scare the living hell out of me?" She completed, huffing and crossing her arms across her chest.


"Oh, relax. It wouldn't have killed you." He teased lightly and she felt her stomach twist. This was... Closer than they had been in a while. A long while. 


"Or so you think." She said, a smile playing at her lips despite her rational mind protesting madly. 


"I know you well enough." He stated, shrugging. 


"Or so you think." She repeated, the urge to smile growing stronger. 


"Quite the charmer, he was." Draco said, referring to Ace.


"I actually agree." Hermione nodded, giving him a funny look. 


"Don't look at me like that- I'm perfectly straight." He glared at her playfully. 


Too playfully, she thought, her mind screaming at her to back away. 


"You played the role of a drunk man rather well." She smirked and saw him do the same.


"I noticed you struggling to get the device on him so I came to your rescue." He said, sounding entirely too proud of himself.


"I'm your boss, you can't speak to me like that." She said, looking at him with a raised eyebrow. She noticed that they had just passed the apparition point yet neither of them had stopped. 


"Or so you think." He said, repeating her words from earlier. "We- passed the apparation point." 


She looked down at her feet, not understanding why she wished they hadn't passed it or why she wished he hadn't noticed. "I know."


"We should-" He said, staring at her, "-We should go. It's pretty late..."


"I- Yeah... I- Ive to meet Irene anyway..."


"How about I check on her for you since she's staying at the Manor and tell her you'll come see her tomorrow morning?" He offered, noticing how tired she looked. Her eyes met his and something stirred within both of them. 


"That would be nice, thank you." She nodded. "I- I'll see you tomorrow then?"


"Yeah, see you..." He waited till she had apparated away before sighing and apparating to Pansy's apartment.


* * *


Irene took a deep breath before raising her hand and knocking on the door in front of her. The door opened at the contact and she looked inside. 


"Theo?" She called softly. A cupboard door clicked shut and the door was opened but she didn't come face to face with the sandy haired boy. 


"Irene, right?" Blaise asked, smiling at the lady. She had just returned from having dinner in the Manor's kitchen after being at the Hospital. 


"Yes. You must be- Blaise?" She asked, unsurely, her fingers playing with the hem of her shirt. 


"I am." He nodded. "Theo's not back from the hospital yet."


That seemed to surprise her. "But it's ten o clock already. Is he still with- with Rowen?" She asked guiltily. The man had been helping his mother in the hospital since morning. 


"He's bloody bent on helping him, Irene. Your boy's in good hands." Blaise said, stepping out of the room and shutting the door behind him. "How are you holding up?" He asked after a few odd seconds. 


"I'm... Better. Last night was the first night in ages that I got sleep." She smiled weakly. "I can't thank all of you enough." 


He nodded and began moving towards the staircase. He paused, "Have you had dinner?"


"Did Draco ask you to make sure?" She asked. He shrugged, his expression guilty. "I did." 


"I'm going to get some desert- would you like to join me?" He asked.


She considered it. "Maybe some other time." 


"I'll make sure I ask again, then." He smiled and she returned it, watching him head down the stairs. And for some reason, she truly hoped he would.


* * *


"May I join you?" Hayley looked up and smiled at Theo, who was standing in front of her at her St Mungo's cafeteria table.


"You don't even have to ask." She said, gesturing to the seat in front of her. "How come you're still at work?"


"Was helping my mum with Rowen." Theo said, rubbing his face tiredly. 


"Oh... How's he doing?"


"He's slightly better. Muggle technology seems to be working. And we've got four of the world's best doctors working on this. He should be okay." Theo said. 


"That's good." Hayley nodded.


"And how's your work going? How're you holding up after... You know..." 


"After everything?" Hayley asked, smiling sadly. "I'm okay. Surviving. That's good enough for now, right? Im going to Italy tomorrow morning, by the way. I have a training program."


"I just arrived and you leave?! Hayley!" Theo protested playfully.


"Now you're just making me feel bad for accepting!" Hayley cried, reaching out and hitting him lightly on the arm. 


"I'm kidding." He laughed. "Have fun and we'll catch up when you come back."


"When're you leaving?" 


"Actually- I have every intention in staying behind." He said.


A grin spread across her face. "Like, for real? For good? You're coming back?!"


"I plan on. Let's see how this month goes and if I manage to get a job and settle down- then definitely." Theo nodded. 


"That's probably the best news I've heard in a long time, Theo." She smiled softly and he smiled back at her. It was good to be back...


* * *


(3rd March, Friday)


"Did you slip it in?" Draco asked, appearing beside her as soon as they left the bar. 


"Yeah. I managed to pin it to his coat pocket." Hermione said, buttoning up the front of her trench coat. "Why would anybody wear this outfit? I can barely feel it past my waist." She scrunched up her nose in disgust. She was dressed in a short dark red dress with a halter neck and it made her thoroughly uncomfortable. 


"Haven't you worn stuff like this on missions before?"


"Yes but it doesn't make me any more comfortable in them." She said. 


"Ready for tomorrow, then?"


"Honestly? Not exactly." Hermione shook her head. "This is the first time our department is properly dealing with a serial killer. And tomorrow- hell, if anything goes wrong and you have to pull me out- it would blow our entire cover and our mission. Yet if you don't pull me out, I shudder to imagine what could happen."


"Makes sense." Draco nodded. "But nothing will go wrong." 


"Anything can go wrong." 


"Trust me, you'll be fine." He said, sounding confident. "I actually managed to get a bit more information about his whereabouts thanks to the devices. I was tracking him today and I've gotten pretty close. I should have a lot ready by tomorrow evening."


"File it, make sure you-"


"Lock it with a code and then pass it over. I know." He said. "We've got him. You don't have to worry."


She shrugged, still not convinced. Something about the whole situation felt very wrong. It was just a very strong gut feeling.


* * *


(4th March, Saturday)


A knock on the door made Hermione head towards it and open it. It didn't come as a surprise to her that it was Draco on the other side. She stepped to her right and allowed him inside before shutting the door behind him. 


"So I put together the file and I locked it." He said, holding up the file. "I managed to track his exact whereabouts. Now, we just need proof that he actually goes there with the women and the second location I tracked is most probably the murder site."


"Good job." Hermione nodded. "Did you give a copy of the files to Harry? This is just an extra copy, you know."


"I'm aware. He asked me to hand it over to his secretary, Courtney. I gave her the charm and as soon as we head out for the mission, they'll unlock it and head out. I still don't understand why they can't just unlock it now." 


"It's department protocol. Just in case something went wrong with the file and it's somehow being tracked by the killer himself. It's highly unlikely but it's happened once before and in that situation, he knew exactly when the Aurors could see the information and he even managed to change around some of the information."


"That's insane." Draco said, disbelievingly. "I didn't think that was possible."


"Neither did we until it actually happened so its been made a part of protocol ever since and nobody questions it." Hermione said. "So it shall be opened while we're on the mission. Courtney's sure of the charm right?"


"Yes, Ma'am."


"And the charm is very secure? Very unlikely to be guessed?"


"Yes. I created a double charm to be sure."


"Good work." She nodded, impressed. He had created a double charm to lock the file without even being asked to. "See you in half an hour then." 


He nodded and headed for the door but stopped in his tracks. He turned around, determination on his face. "Hermi- Ma'am?" 


She looked up from a file on her desk that she had just picked up to read. "Yes?"


"May I try something?" He asked, something unrecognizable flashing through his eyes.


"Uh- yeah?" She said, a little confused. Her confusion was cleared the next moment when he strode up to her, came to a stand in front of her, took her face in his hands and pressed his lips against her's.


She froze for a second. Her lips moved with his for a second. And then she shoved him away from her, raised her hand and slapped him across the face.


"How dare you?!" She screeched as he rubbed his jaw with his hand. 


"You said I could try."


"I didn't know you were going to try and- and-" She gestured wildly around her.


"Kiss you?" He completed. 


"I am your boss, Draco Malfoy. You cannot do as you please- and you most definitely cannot do it in my office!" 


"Outside then?" He smirked, leaning sideways against the wall.


"I can't believe you!" She cried, feeling her throat constrict. No! She would not cry!


"Why are you panicking? It's not like it meant anything." He shrugged, watching her reactions.


"It- Of course it didn't!" 


"Then stop panicking." He said calmly. 


Her chest heaving, she tried to calm down. "Listen here, Malfoy. If you think you can walk in here and do whatever the hell you please, you are very much mistaken. How DARE you?!"


"Stop panicking." 


"I am not panicking!"


"Its not like it meant anything. Or did it? Scared that old feelings are resurfacing?" He challenged. She walked up to him and raised her hand to slap him again but he caught her wrist and twisted it behind her.


"Tell me, Hermione, how happy are you?"


"Unhand me this instant!" She screamed, her face inches away from his as he pulled her against him. She hit him with her free hand until he caught that and twisted it behind her. 


"I told you you wouldnt be able to forget me or what we had." He said. "How many times a day do you think about me?"


"Let. Me. Go." She enunciated slowly. 


"Look me in the eye and tell me that the past few days havent been- for a lack of better words- nice. Tell me it hasn't been a change from your usual struggles to maintain calm and composed."


"Leave me alone, Malfoy! Or you can say goodbye to your job!"


"Look me in the eye and tell me that you havent been struggling for the past few months. That you haven't been trying and failing to forget me. Go on."


And so she did. She stared him straight in the eye, took a deep breath and said, "I haven't been struggling."


"I'm sure you haven't." He said. "You're the opposite of okay, Hermione-"


"That's Ma'am to you." She spat, rage burning in her eyes. How dare he?! 


"You're such a mess that even Potter wants you to come back to me. That's really saying something, isn't it? How is it at home? You and Weasley doing okay? And Rose and Hugo? Everything alright?" 


She lost all her control and tears rose to her eyes. "LEAVE ME ALONE!" She screamed, thrashing about, her hair whipping across her face. 


"You know you don't want that." He said, his lips close to her ear. 


She froze, tears running down her cheeks and her hair sticking to her face. She stopped moving and closed her eyes, breathing raggedly. She felt his grip on her wrist slacken and he let go of her. She no longer felt his presence near her and she wished the disappointment and coldness that she felt just then hadnt washed over her. 


"I'm not giving up. And I know that a part of you refuses to as well." She heard the door click open.


"Malfoy." He turned his head to look over his shoulder.


"As soon as this mission is over, you will pack your belongings and leave. You're fired." She said, staring at the wall across from her. She didn't hear a response. Just the door clicking shut.


She collapsed to the floor, her face in her hands.


* * *


Hermione smiled at Ace as he came up to her but to her immense surprise, he didn't sit down. 


"Adriana." He kissed her cheek. "I'm so sorry, love, but I won't be able to stay today. I have business to attend to. Perhaps some other day?" 


Hermione was lost for words before she mentally shook her head. "Yeah, sure. Not a problem at all. How about tomorrow?"


"I'll check my schedule and owl you, how about it?" He asked.


"Of course."


"I apologize."


"It's not a problem." She smiled and he kissed her on the cheek once more before leaving. She looked across the bar at Draco with a worried expression. He nodded, stood up and left the bar. 


After a few minutes when she was sure Ace would be gone, she stood up and left the bar and touched the microchip in her ear.


"Courtney?"


"Hermione!"


"Harry! Ace didn't take me anywhere. He just left, saying he had business. This is impossible!"


"Hermione, Courtney's dead."


Hermione kept walking, her guard instantly up. "What the hell are you talking about?" She whispered furiously.


"She was killed half an hour before you left for your mission. We found her body near the Ministry building. This is an absolute mess!"


"You think Ace knew we were undercover? And he was on to us the entire time?


"It's highly possible. Where's Malfoy?"


"He followed Ace out. It was our only back-up, I guess. We hadn't anticipated this." Hermione shook her head as she reached the apparition point. "God, Harry. What are we going to do?"


"We can only hope that Malfoy manages to get something on him or else we'll have to get him to unlock the file and we'll work on that." Harry said. "You go home and stay at home, alright? It's not safe for you to go out if Ace has an idea about who you are."


"Right, Harry. I'll contact you once I'm home." 


"Be careful." 


Hermione looked around once before apparating away from the area and into her house. She shrugged off her coat, placed strong wards and charms around the house and then headed towards the right.


She entered the kitchen. And screamed, her hands flying to her mouth. 


There, on the wall, written in something that looked suspiciously like blood, were the words "Memento Mori." 


* * * * 


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Hmm a lot happened there. I made this chapter quite long to make up for the weeks for no updates :( I'm still feeling horrid for that but I can assure you I'm not abandoning any of these stories. I hope you enjoyed that and do do do review pleaseeee! Tell me which part you liked the best or if you liked it at all which I really hope you did. Now I'm just blabbering because I don't want to disappoint you guys...

See you next chapter? Love you, I don't know what I'd do without you :/
Feltonlewis xx


Chapter 11: Memento Mori
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

TRTL 11:
Heyy readers, here's your update and this time it's on time (hopefully?) I hope you enjoy xx

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"I'm falling through the doors of the emergency room
Can anybody help me with these exit wounds
I don't know how much more love, this heart can lose"

-Exit Wounds, The Script.



(4th March, Saturday, Night)


There, on the wall, written in something that looked suspiciously like blood, were the words "Memento Mori."


Her fingers trembling, she touched her earpiece and Harry was with her in an instant.


"Did you reach home?"


"H-Harry. Are you busy?"


"What's going on?" Harry's voice sounded worried. "Are you alright?"


"I-I'm fine. Are you b-busy?" She couldn't seem to be able to tear her eyes away from the words.


"We're working on Courtney's body. What the hell is going on?"


"Is there anybody around who can make it here? I'm fine, Harry. I just need somebody here."


"There's Jason and Mark and Blaise and-"


"Blaise. G-get Blaise to come here right now. And then as soon as you're done, you come over too. But don't tell anybody else about this, alright? Keep Ron out of it as well."


"You're beginning to worry me, Hermione. What's happening? I'm coming over right now and-"


"If you drop everything and come, people will ask questions. We need to do this very silently, Harry. P-please trust me."


A pause and then- "Fine. I'm sending Blaise over right now." She changed her wards to allow Blaise and Harry through and in a few seconds that seemed to her like hours, she heard the pop or apparation.


"Hermione?" His voice boomed through the house.


"Over here." She choked out. He was beside her in an instant and the second he saw the wall, he swore.


"What the hell. Nobody's in the house right?"


"My wards aren't detecting anyone." She said, her voice robotic.


"We need to get you out of here. Let's-" He was unable to finish his sentence as the phone began ringing. She froze and turned to Blaise.


"Dont answer it." He said.


"I have to. It might give me an explanation." And without waiting to hear Blaise's response, she moved swiftly to the telephone in the living room and picked up the receiver. "Hello?"


"Adriana Malfoy, you say?"


Her throat went dry and she breathed deeply to calm herself. Just treat this like another mission.


Blaise came to stand beside her.


"This is?" She knew perfectly well who it was. "I think you have the wrong house."


"Do I, though? Did you think you were so smart, Adriana? Or should I say- Hermione?"


Her eyes fluttered shut and Blaise's hand found her's.


"What do you want, Ace?" She asked, dropping any act she had left.


"How's Courtney doing, by the way? They found her, didn't they?"


She tightened her grip on Blaise's hand. "What do you want, Washworth?"


"I quite liked the way my name sounded coming from your lips, darling." He purred. "I want the file."


She swallowed hard. "What file?"


"The file your partner made on me." He said and she mouthed the foulest curse she could think of.


"I don't know what you're talking about."


"Whose blood do you think it is on your wall, love?"


She froze. So it was blood, she had been right. But... Whose?


"Why don't you tell me that?" She replied, keeping her voice steady.


"It was nice meeting your partner. I was a bit surprised that he was a Malfoy though."


She froze and all the blood rushed out of her face. Her knees felt weak and she almost collapsed. Her hand flew to her mouth and an image of Draco's face and then the wall covered with blood flashed through her head. Blaise's arm went around her waist and held her tight. She leaned into him.


"What did you do with him?"


"Scared you right there, didn't I? The blood isn't his. But-" She could almost hear him smirk. "I think you should listen to this-"


She heard the phone being transferred from Ace's ear and then- "Hermione."


"No!" She wasn't able to keep it in. She forced the tears away and gripped Blaise tightly. "Draco?!"


"Draco indeed." It was Ace again. "So tell me- do you want the file or the partner? Don't try involving any Ministry department." And with that, the line went dead.


She dropped the receiver and wound her arms around Blaise's waist and just held on to him, refusing to allow herself to cry. She wouldn't cry. She had to be strong.


"What is going on?" A third voice spoke up and she turned her head to see Harry standing in the middle of the room, staring at them.


"Ace has Draco." She said and felt Blaise's arm tighten around her. "He probably got him when Draco followed him out. Oh, god."


Blaise led her over to the sofa and sat her down, still holding her. "What did he want?"


"He wants the file on him. He killed Courtney."


"We didn't think it was him initially because she was missing half her blood content and draining a victim of her blood is not his M.O." Harry said, sitting down on one of the couches.


"I know where her blood went." Hermione said faintly. He raised an eyebrow, questioningly and Blaise gestured to the kitchen. Harry moved there and cursed loudly.


"Shit. We need to call the Auror department." He said, returning to the living room.


Hermione shook her head immediately. "He told me not to contact any Ministry department. We need to listen to him."


"We can't do this by ourselves!"


"Yes we can and we will! He has Draco and we can't let anything happen to him." Hermione said firmly, sitting up straight. "We will tell nobody but our group and we will figure this out ourselves, understand?"


He stared at her before nodding. "Okay. If you think that's what we need to do."


"It is. Now what can we do about this?" Outside, she was calm and composed but inside it was an emotional turmoil.


"We need to unlock that file. We dont have Courtney's but you have the extra copy." Harry said.


"Courtney's is gone?" Hermione asked.


"She was probably carrying it when he got to her." Harry nodded.


"That must mean Ace has it." Hermione said. "He wants the second one so that he can destroy the information obviously. There's no way we can know the charms unless Draco tells us and if Draco DOES tell us, Ace will know too since he's with him and if Ace knows, he can open his copy of the file and erase all the information and therefore, our information because the two files are directly linked."


"So basically there's no way for Draco to tell us the charms without Ace knowing. We've to figure it out ourselves." Harry concluded.


"Which is near impossible." Blaise said.


"We could always try and get Draco to send us a message the next time Ace calls." Hermione said.


"That is, if he does call." Harry said. "Nothing's for certain right now."


"We can't just sit around and wait while Draco's probably being tortured somewhere. What if we just give him the file? We can start our mission from scratch." Hermione said but knew it was a terrible plan. "But he'll know we're on to him and that just won't work. Our only choice is to get unlock the charms and then see where Draco's being held and get him out. There's simply no other choice."


"This is insane." Blaise shook his head. "Can't we inform Crane about it? He may be able to help."


"I was told not to inform the Ministry and Im sticking to that, Blaise. Im not risking Draco's life- I refuse to." She said firmly.


"Hermione, Blaise- you both know Draco the best. You need to try unlocking the file." Harry said. "We'll gather Pansy and Ron and see if they can help. I'll contact Ginny and make sure she remains safe at all times. Blaise, you need to tell Irene to take care and same goes for Theo. If Ace managed to get into this apartment for long enough to paint the walls with- with blood then he probably knows us and our schedules better than we think he does. He's done his research. He's careful and organized and extremely intelligent. He's been two steps ahead of us all this time. We can't let it happen again."


"Im going to go back to the office and begin working on the file." Hermione said, standing up. "Blaise- go for Irene and Theo. Harry- go for Gin and then update Ron and Pansy. Nothing can happen to them. Hayley's in Italy so she should be safe."


The men nodded and stood up, ready to apparate.


"I'll drop Hermione to her office and then go for Ginny. Blaise, take care." Harry said. Blaise nodded and left and Harry put his hand in Hermione's before apparating away.


* * *


The phone rang, making Blaise and Hermione freeze and look up. Pansy looked at the other two and realized what was going on and her eyes flew to the phone.


"Blaise." Hermione said.


"On it." He hurried out of the room and Hermione and Pansy waited, Hermione's hand on the receiver. He returned with Harry and Ron, who were working in Harry's office on possible locations. It had been six hours since Hermione had found the message on her wall and for the past six hours, they had been working on possible charms and anything related to the case that would help. They were yet to hit something useful.


Harry shut the door behind him and Hermione answer the phone, hitting speaker.


"Hermione, how may you be doing?" Ace's voice rang out through the room. "I see that you figured out how I knew where you were."


"You have eyes on us in my house and outside my office." Hermione answered. They had done a thorough check for bugs and devices and realized that they were being watched by little devices but nothing they did could destroy them.


"Smart." He said. "Have you made your decision then? Will you keep the file or the partner?"


"We'd like to speak to Draco. Just to make sure he's actually there." She said.


"As you wish, m'lady." Ace said and the phone was moved around. "You have four words, Malfoy."


Scrambling and then- "Potter, you did this!" And the phone was obviously snatched away from him.


"I'll be calling back soon." And the line went dead.


"What in hell." Hermione said, unable to wrap her head around what had just happened.


" 'Potter, you did this' ." Blaise said and then hit the table with his fist. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?!"


"Calm down, Blaise." Harry said, rubbing his face tiredly with his hands. "He would've chosen his words carefully. They must mean something valuable. We just have to think."


"He could only have been giving us a clue about the file. Im sure of it. He wouldn't waste words on anything else." Hermione said. She conjured two chairs for Harry and Ron and gestured for them to sit. "Now think. "Potter, you did this." He didn't sound like he was accusing Harry- it was more of a matter-of-fact voice he used."


"What has Harry done though?" Ron asked. "I mean, what has Harry done that could be possibly related to a charm Malfoy would use?"


"A charm in this case could be anything." Hermione said, taking out a fresh piece of parchment. "Any word. It could be a spell, a place, a name- anything. This is close to impossible."


"If Draco thought it would help- I'm sure it will." Blaise said. "We just have to think."


The next three hours was spent on that exactly. Thinking.


* * *


(5th March, Sunday)


"I got it." Everybody's tired eyes snapped up to see Harry, whose eyes were wide and quill paused halfway across his parchment. "I know what he meant." Everyone waited. "Sectumsempra."


The others, save for Pansy who was asleep in her chair, processed the information and then looked back at him.


"You may be right, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed. "It makes sense! Draco was stating a fact- you cursed him with Sectumsempra and that's why he said "Potter" and not "Harry" because he wanted to tell you it was a time he hated you."


"And it would make sense to use a spell that only a handful of people know because it's Snape's original." Blaise added, nodding. "You're right, Harry." He threw his quill and parchment onto Hermione's desk and leaned back.


"How do we know for sure?" Ron asked.


They fell silent. "We don't." Hermione said. "We can if it's the first charm placed- in that case we would feel it being unlocked. But if it's the second charm, we won't feel a thing unless the first charm has been used to unlock it first."


"This is insane." Ron said, leaning forward and putting his head in his hands. "You think he's going to go after someone else tonight?"


"I don't see why he has a reason to stop." Hermione said. "He's the type who tries to show people that nothing will stop him. That he's smarter than us. He'll go out tonight as well."


"We need to plant someone." Harry said. They looked at him.


"Are you insane, Harry?!" Hermione exclaimed. "We cannot risk another of our people!"


"No, listen. That's what Ace is going to think too. He's going to think that since one of our people are already... In a situation- we won't risk anymore. He's going to think that we're so busy with trying to get Draco back that we won't have time to get someone in so quickly. If not the latter, the former for sure." Harry said, leaning forward.


"Ace is bloody intelligent." Blaise said. "He's going to have tabs on our department."


"Then we get someone whose not a part of our department." Harry said.


"Even getting someone from the Ministry is risky, Harry." Hermione shook her head. "And he probably has tabs on our group here along with Irene."


"Then we get someone whose not here. Who he most definitely doesn't have tabs on." Harry said, having a strong feeling that his plan would work.


"Hayley's in Italy- do you think she'd agree to be in on this?" Ron asked. "He probably doesn't know she exists."


"It's a good idea." Hermione said. "But do we really want to risk it? Say he takes her to the third day. Then what?"


"It's the same plan minus the tracking devices. We make it look completely normal until the last day. On the last day- we use the plan we had prepared for you, Hermione."


"I don't think putting Hayley under so much risk is a good idea." Hermione shook her head. "This is a dangerous case dealing with a dangerous killer. Killer, Harry! This man has kidnapped and is probably torturing Draco! We cannot risk anybody else! I know we're all trying to get Ace but really! Maybe we should just aim on getting Draco back right now because he's-" She suddenly realized that she was panicking and she was close to tears so she kept quiet, took a deep breath and looked at the others.


"He's what?" Ron asked silently but he didn't look angry.


"He's our main priority. He's our friend." Hermione completed, her hands shaking beneath the table.


"Look, we're all on edge right now." Blaise said. "We're tired and we've worked through the night. Maybe we should head home. Make sure someone's with you at home. Get some sleep. We'll meet at lunch time, okay? We wont get anywhere this way."


She wanted to protest. Tell him that they had to keep working for Draco. They HAD to find him. But she knew he was right. Stress levels were too high and they wouldn't get anywhere without a little sleep. So she nodded and everybody stood up, Blaise waking Pansy up.


"Hermione, coming?" Ron asked from the doorway.


"Give me a few minutes please." She said, forcing a smile. She offered no further explanation. And he accepted that. Nodding, he shut the door behind him, leaving Hermione alone in the room.


She closed her eyes and her smile slipped right off her face. She covered her face with her hands and bent over in her seat, trying to steady her breathing.


They had fought. She had told him to leave her alone. She didn't know that it would actually happen... She didn't mean it. She didn't!


This was so wrong... So wrong. Tears pricked the back of her eyes and when she opened them, her vision was blurred.


"Hermione?" She could handle it no longer and the heart-wrenching sound that had been barred by her constricted throat broke loose and burst through her lips. hadn't even heard the door open. Nobody was supposed to see her like this. Nobody was supposed to know that she cared. That she always had. That she didn't think she would ever stop.


"Oh god, Hermione." Harry was by her side in an instant, kneeling on the floor with his arm awkwardly wrapped around her shoulder.


She leaned into him and ended up moving off the chair and on to the floor. He adjusted his hold on her and pulled her to him tightly.


"Sssshh, he'll be fine, 'Mione." Harry said, rubbing her back as she sobbed into his shoulder. Of course Harry knew what this was about. Actually, everybody probably knew. Harry was the only one who was doing something about it all.


"I told him to leave me alone." She cried, tears soaking his shirt. "We fought, Harry, we fought! I'll never forgive myself if something happens!"


"Nothing's going to happen." Harry said firmly. "Why did you fight?"


If there was one person she could be honest with, it was Harry. "He kissed me. He kissed me." She broke down once again, the taste and feel of his lips fresh in her memory once more.


Harry was silent for a moment before saying, "And?"


She didn't answer, choosing instead to just cry. "He has to be okay."


"He will. He's strong. Just like you are. He'll be fine and so will you." Harry said, hating to see his best friend in such a state. "We'll get him back. You'll get him back."


And for the next half an hour, she sat with him and he let her cry into his shoulder. He knew that she cared for Draco more than she was willing to admit. He knew that her feelings ran as deep as they did a few months back. And she knew that he knew.


But nobody said anything more. There was nothing to be said.


* * *
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Nobody saw Draco being taken away for some reason in the previous chapter so well- surprise?! That was bloody intense to write to be honest. Like actually. I hope this update was perfect for you guys, thank you so much. I can't wait to bring in the next chapter and the ones that follow- trust me, there's so much in store for you all!
Do review please please pleaseeee. That little box down there hasn't had enough lately :/
Much Love,
FeltonLewis xx

Chapter 12: When Built Walls Collapse
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Welcome back to TRTL (:
So this chapter is shorter than the others but it does have a lot of content- a bit being a tad bit more mature than what I usually write so just a warning.
Do enjoy xx

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"So many thoughts that I can't get out of my head
I try to live without you, every time I do I feel dead
I know what's best for me but I want you instead"

-Over And Over, Three Days Grace.

(7th March, Tuesday, Night.)

They had brought Hayley in. She had been asked if she was ready to take the risk and after hearing about Draco's situation, she agreed instantly. It had been two days since Hermione's break down and she hadn't cried once since then. Ace had called twice- once to tell them that they had two days to hand him the file before he "finished" Draco. And once to allow them to hear Draco himself.


He was allowed four words. They were "He created Potter's fault."


They realized that he had meant Severus Snape. Now all they had to do was wait for the right moment, unlock the file and get him.


"Okay, Hayley, remember- as soon as you want out, you give us the signal and we'll pull you out." Hermione said, fixing the younger witch's robes as Harry adjusted the microchip in her ear and Pansy worked on the wires under her shirt.


"I know, Hermione, but I feel like this is our only chance to get Draco back now. I have to do this." Hayley said, swallowing hard.


"I still don't understand why we couldn't get some other experienced lady to do this!" Theo snapped, still thoroughly angry at the situation.


"And risk that lady? Come on, Theo, it's not that bad. I was fine the past two days wasn't I?" Hayley asked as the others stepped away from her. Theo was far from convinced.


"If he even begins to make a move, Hayle, once you're in the location- you get to us and that's it. If you even begin to feel uncomfortable-" The door slammed shut and Theo was gone from the room. Ron sighed and was about to continue when Hayley cut him off.


"I give the signal. I understand."


"Portkey leaves in five minutes." Harry said. Wishing her good luck and giving her tight hugs, they left one by one.


"Take care of yourself- we're right here for you." Blaise said before leaving the room.


"Hayley, darling, do your best. And don't risk yourself for anything, understand?" Narcissa said, placing her hand on Hayley's cheek. "We'll find another way to get Draco back- don't get hurt."


Hayley nodded, refusing to believe Narcissa's words. There would be no second chance at this. They all knew it. This was their one and final shot at getting Draco back and arresting Ace. She couldn't mess this up no matter what.


"One minute." Harry said.


"Okay Hayley. One last time-" Hermione said.


"I go there. He's going to chat me up for a bit and then he's going to take me somewhere. He'll most probably slip me Veritaserum before which I need to bite into the tablet in my mouth so the serum can't take effect."


"Fifty seconds."


"He's going to then take me to some other place and as soon as we reach the destination, I give the signal that we've arrived. You all should be able to crack the file in a minute and find the location and be with us in five minutes following that. If you're not, I send in the second signal which will allow me to activate the emergency portkey under my outfit and that will bring me back to this room."


"Correct." Hermione said. "Be careful and don't take any risks- Ace is dangerous and the last thing we need is you getting hurt."


"Fifteen seconds. Get ready, Hayley." Harry handed her the muggle playing card with an Ace printed on it. "Good luck."


"Thank you. I'm going to do my best and Hermione-" She looked straight into the other woman's eyes "-I'll get him back for you. I- I promise."


Before Hermione could respond, Hayley disappeared in a swirl of colors.


"I hope she'll be okay." Harry said.


"Me too." Hermione looked worriedly at the spot where Hayley had been standing a few seconds ago.


* * *


"Hayley, lovely to see you." Ace said, standing up and kissing her on the cheek.


"Likewise, Ace." Hayley smiled, sitting down beside him. "How was your day?"


"It was good." He nodded. "Very interesting, actually. How about yours?"


"Mine was fine. My mother isn't doing very well to be honest so I've just been taking care of her."


"Oh, Mrs Mayfair is sick?" Ace asked, genuine concern visible on his face.


"I'm afraid so. It's awfully hard to take care of her now days." Hayley shook her head, her tongue running over the tablet attached magically to the inside of her molar.


"You look exhausted. Perhaps I could buy you a drink?" Ace asked and without waiting for a response, he ordered her something. The bartender placed a glass of deep red white foaming drink in front of them. "It's a special."


Hayley smiled. "Thank you." She brought the glass to her lips slowly as her tongue desperately tried to removed the tablet from her tooth. She refused to let her terror show as the tablet refused to budge. "Oh, I almost forgot!" She exclaimed, pretending to take a sip and bringing the glass back down. "Did you make that breakthrough with your new potion?" Buy time, she thought. As Ace spoke about his work, she nodded, working subtly on removing the tablet.


"Drink, Hayley. It'll help you." Ace urged her and she forced a smile before brining the drink back to her lips. No doubt he would be watching for a decrease in the drink's height this time. Just as the drink entered her mouth, the tablet came loose and she bit down on it. A cold, thick liquid oozed out of it and into her mouth like chocolate and spread through her mouth. Trusting Lucius' dark potion making skills, she drank the red liquid and felt it burn it's way down her throat.


"So what is it you're brother does again? What's his name?" Ace asked, watching closely for her reaction.


Hayley almost sighed in relief when she found that she could lie easily. "He works in the American version of St.Mungo's. His name is Theo Mayfair."


"I see. I was wondering if you have any connection with the Auror department or actually, any part of the Ministry or Magic- my company seems to be facing a few problems and I needed some people from the Ministry to help, you see." Ace said.


"Well, my colleague's husband works with Damage control but as far as I can remember, that's about it." Hayley said, hoping she sounded convincing enough. Her heart was thundering madly in her chest and her palms would have been sweaty if she hadn't downed a vial of semi-calming drought before coming.


"That's good. Very good. Say, Hayley, I know this is a bit early to ask but- would you perhaps like to join me- someplace else?"


She smiled and bit her lower lip flirtatiously. "Someplace else to do what?"


"Whatever you want. Whatever we want. Away from everybody else." He leaned closer to her and his hand went to her thigh. She swallowed hard and fought to keep her calm.


"I think that's a great idea." She forced out. His hand wrapped around her's and in a second, he apparated her out. Only then did she realize that there was no one at the bar. Only then did she register the fact that the barman had exchanged smirks with Ace just then.


Hayley was steadied by the arm around her waist as soon as her feet hit the ground again. She looked around. It was a large room with plush sofas and couches in purple and a thick, velvet carpet a shade lighter than the furniture. A fireplace was on one wall and adjacent to that was a huge, larger-than-king-sized purple canopy four poster bed.


"Do you like it?" He purred, his breath tickling her ear. Before she could respond, she was pinned against the wall beside the bed and his lips were against her neck. She swallowed down bile that had made its way past her throat.


"It's perfect." She said, hoping the others were listening. It was the first signal.


"You're perfect." He said, staring into her eyes intensely before leaning forward and pressing his lips against her's.


* * *


"It's been five minutes since they apparated, why they hell hasn't she given the signal yet?!" Theo roared, punching the wall. Pansy placed her hand on his shoulder but worry was evident in her eyes. In all their eyes.


"Theo, calm down, I'm sure-" Irene started, sounding very unsure but Blaise cut her off.


"He's right in worrying. She knew she had to give us a signal. Something's wrong." Blaise said, shaking his head. He turned to Hermione. "Open the files."


"Shall we?" Hermione asked, looking at Harry, who thought for a second before nodding. Hermione placed her wand tip at the center of the file where a thin circle had been drawn and taking a deep breath, she said "Sectumsempra." They gasped in relief when they heard the first lock click open magically.


"Severus Snape." She said clearly and they held their breath. But no sound came. She looked up, panic in her eyes. "It didn't work."


"It's definitely Snape he was talking about." Ron said.


"Half-blood prince! Try half-blood prince! He's the one who told me about the curse, after all."


"How would Draco-" Blaise started but Harry interrupted him.


"Just try it- he was close to Snape, he could've easily known."


Hermione nodded, placed her wand tip back and said- "Half-blood prince." And the file clicked once more. Her fingers steady, Hermione opened the file and everybody gathered around her immediately. Her jaw dropped open, as did the other's, as they saw the extent of the information. "He had everything. Draco found everything about Ace by following his movements." She breathed.


"Guys, we don't have time! We have to get Hayley and Draco back!" Theo said, bringing them back to the current situation.


"Right."


In five minutes, they had pinned down two possible locations for where Hayley could have been taken and two possible locations for where Draco could be. They split up into teams of twos and threes, each taking a location. Lucius and Narcissa; Theo, Pansy and Ron; Blaise and Irene; and Harry and Hermione.


"As soon as you get news, send over a patronus to the others." Harry said before Lucius dropped the wards in the Manor and they apparated away.


* * *


Hayley grabbed her robe, tears in her eyes.


"It was nice knowing you, love." Ace smirked. He sauntered towards the door at the other end of the room, pocketing his wand. "I hope you remember this for the rest of your life." Just as his hand touched the doorknob, the door was blasted open and Blaise and Irene stood there, their wands pointed into the room. Hayley's hands flew to her mouth in shock and relief and Ace scrambled for his wand.


Blaise disarmed him in an instant and lifted him up by his collar and punched him across the face, feeling satisfied when he heard his nose crack. Irene placed him in a full body-bind and said, "I'll tell Harry and the others." Blaise nodded and looked around the room, his eyes landing on Hayley, who was standing pressed against the wall, her robes clutched in front of her.


He was in front of her in an instant, his hands on her shoulders. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?"


Hayley could do nothing but press her face into her hands and break down.


"Hayley!" Blaise said, grabbing her hands and pulling them away from her face. "Did he hurt you?" He asked firmly. Her shoulders shaking madly, she shook her head. "Thank Merlin." He pulled her towards him and hugged her tightly. She fell against him, her face pressed into his shoulder. "Sssh, I'm here now. It's okay. We'll get Draco and we've got Ace. You're okay. I promise, you're okay. I've got you. You're so brave." He whispered, not letting her go for even a second.


Irene shoved Ace to the floor, kicked him hard in the ribs and would have done more had an Auror not entered at that moment. Her eyes met with Blaise's and then fell on Hayley. She would be fine.


They would all be fine.


* * *


"Ready?" Harry asked, his wand pointed at the metal door. Hermione nodded and at the count of three, they shouted "Bombarda!" And the heavy door flew open, slamming into the wall on the inside of the room.


Hermione rushed into the room without waiting for the dust to clear and she scanned it, her heart beating madly. Finally, her eyes fell on the figure standing by the wall. His hands were in the air, tied together above him to a rope attached to the ceiling like a noose. He was sagging, the rope supporting his weight completely. A chair sat a few centimeter across from him, mocking him.


She stepped in front of him and her fingers trembling, she reached up and flicked her wand at the rope to loosen it but there was no effect. She brought out her pocket knife and standing on her toes, she began slicing the rope.



"Hermione..."


The knife still slicing, she brought her eyes down to look at him. His grey, hazy eyes were focused on her face. His face was paler than usual and drawn.


"I'm right here." She said, fighting back tears. The sight of him just... It broke her. It brought down all the defenses and walls she had built up because of him. To keep him out.


"I knew you'd find me." He croaked out, his voice raspy and choked.


The rope finally snapped and with his wrists still loosely bound, his arms fell around her and he stumbled, unable to hold himself up, and fell into the chair. Hermione sucked in a breath when she fell with him on to his lap. But she pushed everything away and without giving it a second thought, she wrapped her arms around his neck.


"Thank god you're okay." She choked out, tears welling up in her eyes. His arms tightened around her waist and he buried his face in her hair, just breathing her in.


"I knew you wouldn't give up on me." He murmured and she gripped the back of his shirt. "I knew you'd come..."


"I would have never forgiven myself if anything happened to you." She choked out, the tears finally falling.


After a few moments, Hermione realized that he was probably very injured and she moved to stand up. "We need to get you to St.Mungo's!"


"Wait. Just-" He didn't let go of her.


"You must be badly injured and devoid of food and-"


"Hermione." He interrupted her, his voice thick with emotion. "I spent three days without food and water and fresh air- that's fine by me. But I spent three days without human contact- just... Just please. Give me a few minutes."


Harry, who was standing outside to give them their privacy, having sent a patronus to the others, couldn't help but think that things were about to get a whole lot more complicated.


* * *

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Wowwww. It's been too damn long since Hermione and Draco hugged or had a legit Dramione moment :O So there we are. I know the mission wrapped up pretty soon but I didn't want to drag it further because I know it would get boring! BUT this isn't the end of Ace completely. You'll see what I mean later. There's a lot I havent explained in this chapter which I will later on :)

ps: the last scene was inspired from BONES' Season 1 episode 15.
I do hope you enjoyed that. Please do review (:

Love always,
FeltonLewis xx


Chapter 13: Family
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Welcome back, readers! Thank you for being patient with me :') Enjoy xx

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"I find myself at your door,
Just like all those times before,
Im not sure how I got there,
All roads they lead me here."
-The Last Time, Taylor Swift ft. Gary Lightbody

Lysander tightened his grip on the broom and closed his eyes as he sped up, the wind rushing through his hair and whipping across his face. He pulled the top of the broom upwards and halted after counting to ten and when he opened his eyes again, he was two inches away from the castle wall. He smirked.


It had taken weeks to get it right. To start at a specific point and move at a specific speed where ten seconds later, he would stop and be only inches away from the wall. He had suffered broken noses and smashed jaws and twisted wrists but it had all been worth it.


The risk, the thrill, the wind rushing through his hair- everything made him feel complete. He backed up on his broom and looked down at the fields, illuminated only by the full moon and the millions of stars set into the dark velvet of the sky.


His next goal would be doing the same but zooming downwards. He would have to achieve it sometime in the next month.


He was just about to head back down when movement in the direction of the Astronomy Tower caught his attention. He squinted, trying to see what it was and when he did, his eyes grew wide as saucers and he spun his broom around to move towards the figure that had just fallen off the edge of the tower top.


He urged his broom to go faster as the figure approached the ground rapidly. He swallowed hard when he saw the boy's head hit a protruding set of bricks in the wall before he began falling again.


Almost there...


And just before the figure hit the ground, Lysander snagged his wrist and pulled him onto the broom in front of him.


He had a feeling he knew who the boy was... Oh, Merlin...


Adjusting his hold on the first year, he flew to the Castle's main doors, hopped off his broom, swept the boy into his arms and began sprinting to the hospital wing.


He burst through the doors yelling, "Madam Pomfrey! Madam Pomfrey!"


"It is ten in the night, what could- Oh dear!" Madam Pomfrey gasped and hurried back into her room to get her wand and a tray of vials.


Lysander placed the boy onto the bed and took a few steps behind.


"Lovegood, I need you to make him drink this potion every minute." She thrust five vials with purple liquid inside into his arms and started working on the boy's head wound.


"Where have I seen him before?" Lysander asked, forcing one of the vials' liquid down the boy's throat.


"Troy Thomas. The Proffesors were asked to keep an eye on him. He's-" Madam Pomfrey fell silent, partially because it was a difficult thing to say and partially because she wasn't supposed to say anything about it.


"He's suicidal." Lysander completed and heard the older lady suck in a breath.


"Where did you find him?" She asked, abandoning her wand to move away Troy's hair and hold his skin apart to assess the wound.


"He jumped off the Astronomy Tower. I caught him while flying just before he hit the ground." Lysander said, opening Troy's mouth and pouring the contents of one of the vials inside. "He isn't swallowing."


"Doesn't need to. It enters his body by absorbing into his mouth and gums." Madam Pomfrey said. "Oh, thank Merlin you got to him in time, Mr. Lovegood."


"Has he been like this the entire year?" Lysander asked as the matron stitched up the slit across the boy's forehead.


"Lately it's become worse. I guess he thought this would be the final time- but it isn't. How will we inform his family and friends?" She shook her head, conjuring a bandage and Lysander helped lift his head while she tied the cloth around it. "The boy needs help."


"Serious help if he's in first year and trying to commit suicide." Lysander shook his head.


Madam Pomfrey cleaned up Troy's remaining wounds by which point he was in a deep sleep and levitated him to a bed with clean sheets. She sighed and Accioed a few vials from her office and placed them on his bedside table.


"You should return to your dorm, Mister Lovegood. It's past ten thirty." She said, placing a charm on him that would alert her to any movement or discomfort before heading to her office and living quarters.


"Would it be alright if I stayed here the night? By his side?" He asked boldly, knowing she never allowed anybody to stay the night away from their dorm in the wing.


She studied him for a moment, her lips pursed in a firm line before nodding and leaving.


Lysander stood shocked for a second before pulling up a chair and sitting down beside the sleeping boy. He stared at his sliced forehead and shook his head. He would make sure he got help. He wouldn't stop trying until Troy Thomas was healed- physically and mentally.


* * *


"I don't know what to say." Crane leaned forward in his seat, his fingers laced together and his elbows resting on the table top. Three of his agents sat in front of him in his office- two being Heads of the department.


"We didn't have a choice, Sir. It was-" Hermione Granger started, looking down at her hands in her lap.


"It was what?" Crane challenged her. "Necessary? Required? Inevitable? It was a hostage situation, Granger! There was an agent's life on the line! It was a serial killer you were dealing with! What made you even THINK you could deal with him alone?" She had never seen him so angry and look so disappointed in them. She flinched and subtly scooted further behind in her seat.


"She wasn't alone, Sir. I was present as were Aurors Zabini, Weasley and Knight." Harry Potter, the second agent said, from Hermione's right. "We had things under control."


Crane laughed humorlessly. "You may be the top Aurors in the Ministry and the Golden Trio, Potter, but you still do NOT go forward without my permission. It was over a span of three days, Potter! How you managed to maneuver around me and all the other agents is beyond me. Granger, you are always the logical, rational one- how could you possibly allow this to happen? Did you not stop and think? Did you not think of telling Potter it was a bad move?"


"Sir, it was entirely my fault." Hermione said in a tiny voice. "Harry wanted to tell you and get help but when Ace said he would find out if we told anyone from the Ministry outside our circle, he would find out and he would kill Dr-Malfoy. We didn't quite have a choice considering her seemed to know our every move and have eyes on us."


Crane sighed and closing his eyes, he pinched the bridge of his nose. "I could have not only lost one agent-" He looked at Draco Malfoy, who was seated silently on Hermione's other side. "-I could have lost more than three if Ace had men we weren't aware of. If he had a plan we hadn't anticipated. You must understand that it's not about my ego and that I needed to know the information before anyone else- It's more than that. It's the fact that you are my top Aurors." He leaned forward further and looked at them in turn and suddenly he looked much older. "I'm fifty-two. I've worked with you both for over ten years now. Youre not only my Aurors, you have become my family."


"Sir, just as you would put your life on the line for us- as we know you would- we had to do the same for Malfoy." Hermione said, staring Crane straight in the eye. "Please try and imagine yourself in our positions. We had to ensure that nothing happened to Malfoy. We had to be completely sure. There wasn't much anybody could do. With all due respect, we are your department Heads- we would have planned what we did with or without other Aurors involved. We had to take the best decision. Just like you would, we had to protect our family."


Just like the other two in the room, Draco couldn't take his eyes of Hermione as she spoke. One word in particular rang through his skull louder than the others-


Family...


* * *


Irene slung her towel over her shoulder, her wet hair cascading down her back, and picked up the letter lying on her bed. A comb sat beside it on the white comforter.


"Irene,
Come over to the hospital whenever you can.
-Theo."


Irene's eyes grew wide and expecting the worst, she dropped the towel onto the bed and grabbed the comb. It immideately acted as a port-key and whisked her away to St.Mungo's. She landed straight inside the waiting room outside Rowen's ward where Theo was seated.


"What's going on? Is he alright? I came as soon as I saw the note!" Irene said in one breath.


"I probably should have mentioned that it was good news in the letter." Theo said, an amused smile playing at his lips. He stood up and came to stand in front of her. "Rowen's going to be fine."


She stared at him, her mouth open in shock. "W-what? Are you serious?"


Theo nodded. "The other doctors and healers returned to their respective hospitals and mum's just packing up. They healed him completely last night while we were on the mission."


"He- he's okay then?" Irene stammered, unable to believe it.


Theo placed his hands on her shoulders and smiled at her. "He's perfect, Irene. I promise."


Tears rose to her eyes and before she knew it, she had thrown her arms around his neck and was hugging him tightly. He stumbled back a little, eyes wide, before putting her arms around her waist and hugging her back.


"Thank you, Theo. Thank you so much."


He didn't know what to say so he remained silent until she pulled away and wiped at her eyes.


"You can go in and see him." He said.


She nodded, a smile on her face before heading towards the doors of the ward. She stopped and turned around, "Would you like to come with me?"


He actually had some important business that he had to attend. It couldn't be missed.


He stared at her. Her eyes were shining with happiness and relief and a soft smile was fixed on her face.

He nodded and followed her inside.


* * *


"Could you please at least lend me your wand?"


Albus' eyebrows came together, recognizing the voice immediately. He quickened his pace and turned the corridor. Matilda stood there, a pair of blue and pink glasses perched on her head and her blonde hair held up in a bun using two sticks. She was calling out to two Slytherin boys who were smirking and heading his way.


He saw Matilda look up to the ceiling and he followed her line of vision to the pair of shoes floating high up. Her pair of shoes.


He was in front of the two boys in an instant, his wand pointed at them. "Bring them down."


One of the boys laughed and mimicked him- "Bring them down!"


"Like hell." The other one smirked. Albus pointed his wand at the boy's throat.


"Bring them down."


"It's okay, Albus." Matilda's soft, musical voice called to him. She was beside him in an instant, her hand on his wand arm. "Leave it be. It happens all the time." Albus continued glaring at them. "Put the wand down." Only because she asked, he did. The two boys hurried away, leaving the younger Potter and the younger Lovegood behind.


They moved to stand beneath the shoes and look up at it.


"Everyone's always hiding my things. I'm used to it." Matilda said, sighing.


"Why were you asking them for a wand?" Albus frowned looking towards her.


"I think I forgot mine back in the dorm. I couldn't find it in my robes or my book bag." She said. He then noticed something and smiled. He reached out behind her and pulled one of the sticks out of her hair. The other one clattered to the floor and her hair came loose. He handed her the stick and she gasped softly. "I must have accidentally put it in my hair. Thank you." She flicked her wand at the shoes and they came flying down. Albus caught them swiftly and placed them on the floor by her feet.


"Thank you." Matilda said again. She bent down and shrinking the shoes, she put them into her book bag. He shook his head, amused. Of course she would choose to walk around in pink socks instead.


"I'll see you around then?" Albus asked, realizing he was going to be late for Potions.


"Yes, of course." She nodded.


He smiled before heading down the corridor. He stopped, turned around and called her name. She looked towards him questioningly.


His smile widened as he winked and said, "Sorry about the hair."


* * *


Crane sighed, slipped off his spectacles and placed them on his desk gently. "Alright. I'm letting this go because I trust you." Harry and Hermione nodded. "I need a detailed account on the case, though. Orally rather than in a file first considering I have no idea about what happened."


"Of course, Sir." Hermione proceeded in giving them the necessary details on the case up until they split up, after which Harry took over.


"As soon as we split up, I had Aurors from my department on red-alert for any sign from one of our teams. Aurors Zabini and Knight found Hayley Parkinson and Washstone and we- Hermione and I- found Malfoy."


"How did you track locations so perfectly?" Crane asked, noting what the Aurors in front of him were saying.


"Malfoy had done some impressive tracking and locating and had it all down in a file. We unlocked the file and found the information." Hermione said, not looking anywhere but at Crane.


"The locks were that easy to open?" Crane asked.


"No, Sir! They were double locked with extremely unique codes. The two times that Ace let us speak to Malfoy, he dropped us hints. We worked our way from there." Hermione said.


"And the rest of your team consisted of who exactly?" Crane asked.


"Aurors Zabini, Knight and Weasley. And- Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson and us." Harry said.


"So you risked not only Miss Hayley Parkinson's life but also four other non-Aurors?" Crane asked, not looking happy at all.


"It's not like that, Sir. They chose to join us. And nobody got hurt." Hermione said softly.


"And Hayley Parkinson- did she give her account of the third day?" Crane asked, dropping the previous accusation.


Harry nodded and said, "Washstone took her to one of his locations and she was supposed to give us a signal but turned out that the location's room removed any kind of possibility to transfer signals and any devices- muggle or magical- switched off immideately. So we went in after a few minutes according to what we felt was right. She said we reached them just before Washstone could do anything to her.She was shaken but she was alright. He didn't have a chance to hurt her."


Cane nodded and put his quill down. "Alright. I should rightfully be suspending you both-" He looked at Hermione and Harry, "-but since nobody got hurt and Washstone was caught and arrested, I will be leaving you with a warning. But rest assured, if anything of this sort happens again without my consent, I will be removing you from your duties and possibly even your positions as Heads for a period of time. This would have had the both of you removed from your duties for half a year, at least."


"Thank you, Sir. We apologize for our actions." Hermione said and Harry nodded, agreeing.


"Malfoy, your work and survival skills only proved to me that choosing you for this department and this mission in particular was not a mistake. We are proud to have you with us in the Auror Department." Crane said. "How are you feeling?"


"Thank you, Sir. I'm proud to be a part of this department." Draco said. "My broken bones and joints were fixed and healed. The internal bleeding has stopped and I should be perfectly fine by tomorrow."


Crane nodded and dismissed the trio.


"I have never seen him so angry before." Hermione whispered, once the door was shut behind him.


"He couldn't possibly remove us from duties or our positions though." Harry said.


"Why? Because you're good at your jobs or because the man quite evidently loves you both?" Malfoy asked, amused. "Family and all that."


"Both." Harry answered and shared a smile with Hermione. "And if the show inside has anything to say about it, you're on that list of people he loves- working your way up slowly but surely. He doesn't take a look at new recruits to be honest."


Draco smirked proudly. "I would expect no less for my brilliance."


"Malfoy?" Hermione said, shaking her head, a smile playing at her lips. He turned to her questioningly. "Do shut up."


* * *

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Sorry for the late update, lovelies! I had this chapter ready but wasn't finding the time to post it! But it's here so I hope you liked it :) Thank you for all your support and being patient with me. Do do do review please! An important chapter awaits in about two chapters' time so do watch out ;)

Thank you so much and reviewwww xx
FeltonLewis.


Chapter 14: A Blessing
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Chapter 14: A Blessing

Hi readers! It has been AGES since I updated, I know! But I've been completely concentrating on Bloodlust and my original fic but I've started writing TRTL again and once I get it started, I should be writing and updating often once again. Enjoy this one xx

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(9th March, Thursday)


"Rowen." Irene breathed, staring at her little boy, who was lying curled up in a fetal position in the small white hospital crib.


"He's okay, Irene." Theo said, placing his hand on her shoulder and squeezing comfortingly. She nodded, tears welling up in her eyes as she walked towards the crib. Theo walked a small distance after her and when she came to stand beside Rowen's head, he stood beside her.


"He's so little. Why would the universe do this to him?" She said, reaching out with a trembling hand and brushing his cheek with her fingers. "He didn't deserve to go through this."


"Would you believe me if I said that everything happens for a reason?" Theo whispered. Irene stiffened beside him. "No, I didn't mean that he deserved this! Nobody deserves this! I'm saying that after all of this, you and Rowen will both emerge as stronger people and you would have become closer to people you never thought possible and even- even people you never met before." She looked up at him and nodded slightly.


Theo finally reached out and held Rowen's tiny hand delicately. Rowen's fingers automatically wrapped around Theo's fingers in his sleep. "He's beautiful."


"He is. He's the best thing that's ever happened to me." She said, running her hands through Rowen's hair.


"Where-" Theo hesitated before asking- "What happened to his father?" He knew that he had asked the wrong question when she tensed up completely for a few moments before visibly forcing herself to relax by taking deep breaths.


"Beautiful things can come from the dark, Theo." She finally answered, not looking at him. "That's what helps you move on. Some day, I hope I will be able to as well."


Theo didn't know what to say, mostly because he could only guess what she meant. So he nodded instead and said, "You will. You're strong enough to move on from anything."


"If you knew the horrors that-" She choked on her words and though Theo could not see her face, her shaking shoulders indicated that she was close to breaking.


"I may not know the horrors that you went through, Irene, but as an ex-death eater, I know the horrors that exist in the world. If you need to talk to anybody- I'll be around." He wasn't sure if she had registered what he said but finally, she nodded.


"Thank you." She said, wiping at her eyes. "Thank you for everything you've done for me and my son."


They stood there, watching the rise and fall of Rowen's chest, until they were asked to leave.


* * *


Stacey knew something was wrong the moment she saw a broom lying in a pool of blood at the entrance. There was a trail of blood leading from there to what she guessed would be the infirmary. It was an hour before breakfast and she had woken up early to sit outside by the lake for a few minutes of solitude before everybody began emerging for breakfast.


"No..." She whispered as she stepped closer to the fallen broom and her eyes fell on the carved name at the end of the broom. "No." She looked between the blood and the name before taking a few steps backwards, spinning on her heel and sprinting towards the hospital wing, following the blood trail. She burst through the infirmary doors and scanned the room for any sign of blonde hair. When she spotted him on a chair and not a bed, tears of relief welled up in her eyes. Lysander stood up from the chair he was sitting in and stared at Stacey, having only a moment to register the expression on her face before she came flying at him. He stumbled back a few steps as she flung her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly, crying silently into his shoulder.


To say that Lysander was shocked would have been a serious understatement. Out of this shock and some worry, his arms slowly went around her back and held her to him.


"I thought something had happened to you when-when I saw your-your broom at the entrance in-in blood and-and I-"


"I'm okay." He said quickly. "I promise."


"I was so worried." She said, calming down enough to take deep breaths. She split away from him and placed her hand on his cheek, still trying to stomach everything. "What happened?"


"What is going on here?" Stacey whipped around to find Drake standing at the main doors, staring at them with unadulterated anger in his eyes.


"Drake-" Stacey started but then she narrowed her eyes in annoyance. "Why do I need to justify myself to you again? What brought you here anyway?"


"I saw your running towards here so I-"


"So you followed me?" She spat, moving away from Lysander. "I'm a big girl, Drake. I can take care of myself."


"I should've known you were coming to meet him." Drake growled.


"I thought he was hurt, Drake! He's my friend!"


"Do you usually sob and cry all over your friends' robes after jumping to conclusions?"


"No, but after losing my parents and grandparents, forgive me for being a little more emotional when I think that I've lost-"


"Your what? Boyfriend?"


Stacey was about to retort when two sets of footsteps sounded from outside. Mcgonagall appeared from behind Drake, followed closely by Stella, who had tears running down her cheeks and eyes bloodshot red. Mcgonagall moved past the three other students and towards the bed Lysander had been sitting in front of. Stella stopped beside Drake, looking afraid to move another step forward.


"What happened this time?" She asked, her hands shaking.


It was Lysander who spoke. "What do you think happened?" Her hand flew to her mouth just as a wail escaped her lips. She would have collapsed to the floor had Drake not lunged towards her in the last moment and caught her around the waist. She sunk into him, sobbing noisily. The other occupants of the room stared.


"Miss Thomas, we will need to inform your parents about this. And if he does not accept help this time, we will have to remove him from the school and force him to take help at Mungo's."


"He's not mad, Headmistress." Stella said, shaking her head. "He's just lost."


"And he refuses all help. This incident has confirmed that this is out of our hands." Mcgonagall argued.


"He'll lose it if you send him to Mungo's! You can't do this to him! He's just a boy!"


"That is correct, Miss Thomas. He is just a boy. He needs help. And you lot- what are you doing here?" The Headmistress asked, turning her gaze to Lysander, Stacey and Drake.


"Mister Lovegood brought the boy into the Infirmary last night, Minerva." Madame Pomfrey said, stepping out of her office, vials in hand. "He saved Mister Thomas' life. He brought him just in time. A minute later and-" She left the sentence open and Stella broke down into a fresh set of tears.


"But I didn't come a minute later and that's all that matters." Lysander finally said, breaking the silence.


"Well said, Mister Lovegood." Madame Pomfrey said, nodding. "Alright, everybody out. This isn't visiting time. You may come after breakfast."


"I'm his sister. Please, Madame Pomfrey." Stella pleaded.


"Miss Thomas, your brother is going to be unconscious for a while. I don't think seeing him in this condition will be very good for you either. Come back after breakfast." Pomfrey said firmly, leaving no room for arguments.


Stacey was the first to leave, glaring at Drake and gesturing to him rudely before running off. Drake made sure Stella was stable on her feet before leaving.


"Stella-" Lysander said, stopping the Gryffindor just before she left the Infirmary. She turned around, cheeks growing steadily more wet. "About Troy-"


"Thank you." She interrupted him. "For saving him. He would've been dead if it wasn't for you."


"I wouldn't have just left him there." Lysander said.


"I know. If there's anyway I could ever repay you-"


"There is." He cut her off. She looked slightly taken aback at the immediate request. "I want to help him."


"What?"


"I want to help your brother recover." Lysander said.


"He's not mad! He's-"


"Just lost." The blonde nodded. "I know. I want to help him."


"There's not much you can do. Thank you for the offer but if there's anything else I can do for you, please let me know."


Lysander allowed her to walk away. He would approach her again soon. And he would convince her.


* * *


The evening found Hermione sitting at her desk at home, approving Irene's return to the office.


"Hermione?" The lady in question replied with a "hmm?"


Ron came to lean against the desk, a nervous expression on his face. He watched her work for a few moments until she looked up at him and smiled, "Yes, Ron?"


"It's- I've meant to ask you for a few days now but I've never managed to find the right time."


"What is it?" She asked, putting her quill down and giving him her full attention.


"When- before the battle- when the Ministry officials came to have our marriage cancelled-" Hermione managed to keep her face neutral but even Ron knew she didn't want to have this conversation anymore, "-the proceedings weren't complete so we're currently in a semi illegal bond because we're only half married. The Ministry wants us to come to a decision, obviously."


"We need to re-do the marriage procession then?" She asked, her mind running through the last time the Ministry officials were getting her to sign papers. In Hogwarts, when... She shook her head. No.


"Yes." He nodded. "It's more of just signing papers."


"Alright." Hermione said, her stomach twisting uncomfortably. She should have seen this coming- it made everything so much more... official. Like there was no turning back anymore. Like there was no longer a choice. But then again, was there ever? "When?"


"I think in a month." Ron said. "We need to fix a date and then they'll send us some documents confirming the date."


"Okay." Hermione said, forcing herself to smile. She picked up her quill and turned back to her work, not really concentrating anymore.


Ron didn't move. After what she counted as seven seconds, he sighed. "Hermione, you know that if-" She didn't want to interrupt him. She wanted to know what he had to say. "-never mind. I'll let you know when the date is confirmed."


He pushed off the desk and left the room and when she heard his footsteps fade away, she squeezed her eyes shut and gripped her quill tightly, trying to control her emotions. Why had she been wishing that he would give her a way out of this? She had been right- there was no turning back anymore.


* * *


"Are you ready?" Hayley asked, placing her hand on Pansy's shoulder. They were in the St.Mungo's experimentation ward for a special appointment with the potion trial since they had missed the actual trial date. Pansy nodded. Hayley leaned forward and picked up the potion vial from the table in front of their sofa. She had explained to Pansy earlier that there was a chance that it wouldn't work- that seventy percent of the people on Monday were unable to project their thoughts. That it was best if Pansy did not keep her hopes up.


Pansy nodded, a brave expression on her face.


"Okay." Hayley said, handing her the vial. After a moment's pause, she tipped it back and swallowed it's contents. Hayley and the healer in the room watched her closely. Waiting.


Pansy head began spinning the moment the potion was inside her body. It burnt it's way down her throat, making her want to throw it all up instantly but she knew that if she did, this would never work. So she forced herself to keep the potion in and once the burning sensation passed, her head was bursting with pain. She squeezed Hayley's hand tightly, praying that the pain would pass- and that it would all be worth it.


"Hayley!" She screamed in her head. Hayley's hand went limp in her own.


"Pansy?"


The older witch's eyes flew open, the pain suddenly reducing to nothing. Her head whipped to the left and the two sisters stared at each other, unable and unwilling to believe it.


"H-Hayley?" Pansy tried and as she did, she knew it would work. The occlumency shields she had built up in her mind all her life fell without her consent.


"Pansy?" Hayley forced her thoughts into her sister's head. She didn't have to even force it. It flew straight through to Pansy's mind.


"Oh my god." Both had tears in their eyes as Pansy flung her arms around Hayley's neck and hugged her tightly, barely giving them room to breathe. Neither could believe what had just happened. After months they had finally heard each other's voices. After months they could finally speak to each other and hear each other. It felt like after all the pain both had endured, it had come down to this. It was impossible for things to be the same as they used to be but anything even remotely close to that- this possibility for Pansy to be at least quarter the person she used to be- felt like a blessing.

* * *

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I hope that was alright? Forgive me for not writing for so long- I can imagine it must have been frustrating but if you're back here, reading, then thank you so so much and for any new readers- welcome to TRTL (:

I know there wasn't much Dramione but there is a lot to come!

Please please review!

Love always,
feltonlewis x

Chapter 15: Choices Made
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Chapter 15: Choices Made

Hi Readers!! Its so good to be writing again- my final exams are starting next week so there's been intense studying going on but I had to finish this chapter because I've barely been writing- Im so so sorry! Do have a good read xx

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I was the one you always dreamed of
You were the one I tried to draw
How dare you say it's nothing to me
You're the only light I ever saw
-Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, John Mayer



(13th March, Monday)


Hermione closed the bathroom door behind her and headed back to her office. She stopped when she noticed Draco standing outside her office, a large-sized envelope in hand. She was surprised to see a despondent expression on his face, a hint of betrayal and frustration in his eyes. As soon as he saw her, she could almost see his walls go up again, leaving his face neutral as usual. When he nodded at her, she was a little taken aback at the coldness with which the action had been delivered.


She nodded at him as she brushed past and opened the door, allowing him to enter after her. She sat on the front edge of her desk and raised her eyebrows in question, gesturing to the file, when he did nothing but stare at her. He stepped forward and held out the envelope and when she reached out to grip it, she froze. On the cover was the usual Ministry seal and beneath it read-


"Department of Legal Affairs.
Ms. Hermione Granger
Confirmation of Marriage Date."


She raised her eyes slowly to meet his but he was staring with a blank face at the envelope cover. She grasped the edge of the envelope, took it from him and went to sit at her desk on the other side.


"Irene is back." Draco said, finally looking up at her. She nodded.


"Yes, I heard." Hermione said.


"Okay." He turned around and headed towards the door but stopped as he reached it. "Why are you doing this?"


"Pardon?" Hermione spoke.


"Why are you doing this? Why are you going through with the marriage?" He turned around to stare at her.


"I don't see why this is your business." She said, looking down at her desk and moving around some papers.


"You- you don't see why this is my business?" He spluttered and when she looked up, she saw a humourless smile on his face. "You know why this is my business."


"I don't know what you're talking about, Malfoy." Hermione said, wishing that the envelope had not landed up in his hands to deliver to her.


"Oh. We're back to Malfoy are we? What happened to Draco? What happened to never forgiving yourself if anything happened to me?" He asked, walking towards her and leaning across the desk, his palms planted on the surface.


"That was... in the moment and I am your boss. It's my duty to have made sure you were alright." She said with straight face, wanting him to just leave before she lost control of her emotions.


"Does a boss turn into a sobbing wreck in the arms of her subordinate?" He practically growled, his face inches away from her's.


"Get out, please." Hermione said softly.


"That's all you've ever told me to do, Hermione." He said, his voice turning soft. "Do you really want to do this?"


"I don't have a choice, Malfoy!" She cried, slamming her palms down on the desk. "And you don't have a single say in my decisions, do you understand me?"


"You do have a choice." Draco said, stepping away from the desk. "You definitely have a choice. I know I don't have a say in your decisions but I'm trying to tell you that YOU do. Do something for yourself for once. Say no to the marriage-"


"Malfoy-"


"It's not like people aren't expecting you to already." With that, he left the room, the door clicking shut behind him. She slumped down in her chair, tugging at her hair. Was he right? Were people really expecting her to change her mind this late?


Closing her eyes, she whispered, "I hate you, Draco Malfoy."


* * *


"You can't avoid me forever!" Stacey stopped in her tracks and gripped the strap of her bookbag tightly. She turned around.


"And you can't throw insults at my face every time you meet me." She responded calmly.


"I'm not insulting you." Drake said. "I'm trying to help you."


Her eyebrows furrowed. "Help me? During which part of any of this have you been helping me, Drake?"


"Lysander isn't-"


She grit her teeth together and snapped "Enough!"


"Listen to me-"


"No, you listen to me, Drake Zabini!" Stacey cried. "Just because you don't like Lysander- does NOT mean I'm going to stop talking to him. I have reached a situation where I am finally mentally stable and he is one of the main reasons that-"


"AND US?" Drake yelled back. "We didn't help you at all when you were going through a tough time?"


"Yes, you did! But you were dealing with a whole load of problems yourself and somewhere then I needed someone who wasn't. Yes, he has his problems too- don't we all- but he used them to help me. He helped in a way that I don't think anybody else could have and I KNOW that you could never fully understand that but the least you could do is be my best friend and try to."


"He's going to hurt you." Drake said, stepping closer to her.


"Like you are right now?" Stacey retorted, stepping away with her arms crossed over her chest in a defensive position. "Like you have been for more days than I can count? Before pointing fingers at anybody else and accusing them for things they haven't done, take a look at what you're doing first." She stared at him harshly before walking away.


* * *


"Thomas!" She didn't stop walking. "Stella!" She sighed and stopped. Lysander came to a halt beside her.


"How's your brother doing?" He asked as they walked down the corridor towards the Great Hall.


"Not very well. Headmistress told my parents what happened but said only Troy could tell them details. They're waiting but he won't say much. Keeps saying he's fine but well, everyone knows that's not the case." She said. He could tell she was struggling to keep her emotions in control.


Lysander stopped and placed his hand on Stella's shoulder, surprising her. The older Lovegood boy wasn't exactly known to be the touching type. "Why won't you let me help him?"


She stopped and turned around and he dropped his hand. "Why would you want to help him?"


"Because he needs it." Lysander answered and she visibly struggled to keep her face stoic for a few moments.


She took a deep breath before asking- "What makes you think you can help him? What makes you so different from everyone else who says they can help?"


"Because I've been in his place before." He said.


She stared at him. "What do you mean?"


"Let me help him." Lysander pushed on.


"He won't let you."


"I just need your permission to let me try."


"If he doesn't want your help?"


"Let me try."


She stared at him for a few more seconds before nodding. "Fine. But if you do anything-" Her wand was in her hand and at his throat in a second, "-to hurt him or make his condition worse- I will not hesitate to hurt you in the worst ways possible."


He didn't flinch. "Noted."


She calmly pocketed her wand and without saying another word, left him standing there. Lysander pushed his hands into his pockets and turned to head back to his dorm. He would speak with Troy soon and he would make sure the young boy allowed him to help.


* * *


"Is Miss Granger in her office?" Irene recognised the voice and looked up.


"Yes, she is but she may be with another department head." Irene's colleague answered as Blaise scanned the office area. His eyes landed on her and widened with surprise. He said thank-you to the man who had answered his inquiry before heading towards her, a smile on his face.


"Hey, I didn't know you were back for work?" He said, leaning against the partition between her cubicle and the next.


"Rowen is close to a full recovery so I thought it was time I came back." Irene smiled at him. "And now I can be less of a pain and move out of Malfoy Manor."


Blaise waved his hand dismissively. "You weren't a pain at all, Irene. Far from it. And it's a huge place- Merlin knows we can do with more company once in a while. Feel free to stay on longer."


Irene laughed- "It's not even your manor!"


"It's as good as." Blaise said, chuckling. "I've known Draco since forever- I've probably stayed at his house as much as I've stayed at...mine." He ended softly, his smile slipping from his face. His home. His empty home.


Irene didn't know what to say. She had heard and read enough to know the basics of what had happened to the group of people she had steadily begun growing closer to and in a situation like this she didn't think it was her place to say anything at all.


"I'm sorry, I just-" Blaise started but Irene cut him off, shaking her head.


"No! You have nothing to be sorry about." She said quickly. "Thank you for everything you've done for me- you, Draco, Theo, Hermione- I don't know what would have happened if-"


"Don't think about it." Blaise said firmly. "Don't think about it. It's not worth thinking over. It's done- Rowen is fine. That'll that matters." They looked at each other for a moment, Irene finding comfort in Blaise's dark eyes. She used to fear dark hair and dark eyes if they were on the same man. She used to fear any man who entered her life in any form. Fear people coming near her. But not anymore. From dark days came beautiful things. From dark days came strength. A strength that not even the toughest forces could break.


* * *


Hayley pinched the bridge of her nose before pushing her food away and standing up. She felt like she shouldn't have come in for work today- she just wasn't feeling up to it. Before she could head to the toilet, someone knocked on the glass door of the lunch room. She turned to see Theo smiling at her from outside.


She smiled back and went to open the door for him as he had access to another lunch room in another wing of St.Mungo's.


"Hey Theo."


"Hey, Hayle. Had lunch already?" He asked, peeking around her at one of the round tables in the small room.


"Yeah, I was just going to the toilet before getting back to work."


Theo frowned at the barely-touched plate of food. "You haven't eaten much at all."


"I'm not really hungry." She said, swallowing hard. He stared at her for a moment before pressing his palm against her forehead.


"Are you feeling alright?" He asked.


"My head's been hurting a bit, is all." She said. "Don't worry about it." She smiled and moved away from his touch and headed to where she left her bag.


"Hayle." She turned around and was surprised to see how much concern was etched on to his face. "Is everything okay?


Her smile almost faltered. Almost. "Everything's fine, Theo."


She picked up her bag, waved her wand at the lunch to transport it to the kitchens, and headed out the door, brushing past Theo with a "I'll catch up with you later." He caught her arm gently, forcing her to stop though she didn't turn around this time. If she did, he would see her eyes swimming with oncoming tears.If she did, he would know that nothing was alright.


"I'm not going to force you to tell me what happened. But if you ever want to talk to anybody- you know I'm here for you. Always." She pursed her lips and nodded, squeezing her eyes shut as the tears fell. Theo released her arm and she walked away from him, all the while not realizing that she had been standing in front of a glass door- that he had seen everything.


* * *


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That was... depressing. I really liked writing all the dynamics there, though ^. I hope you liked reading them! Angst, angst, angst.
Please please please review!

See you once again soon!
FeltonLewis xx

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