Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or his friends, or anything else HP related. I am quite obviously not JK Rowling. I am Em, so sorry to disappoint you xD

Any lyrics used have their artists stated. If there is no artist, then it was written by yours truly.

WARNING: HBP SPOILERS! (If you haven't read the book, don't read the story!) Dark parts, suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation (cutting, etc.), violence, slight language issues, and last, but not least, eventual major character deaths. Phew. 


PART TWO: Discussions

"Aaah, fine, people, don't sing songs and toast things. You guys are boring... Where's Sirius? He likes this stuff... and Mundungus. He'd know what to sing... Where's Sirius, Ron? I don't see him anywhere..." Harry mumbles, his words slurred.

Ron and I exchange glances before gazing nervously at our best friend.

"Erm... Harry? Sirius is dead. He's been dead. He died a year ago," I say softly.

Ron shakes his head. "Forget it," he answers heavily, all traces of his smile gone, "Harry's fallen asleep."

I bite my lip before taking hold of a blanket and tossing it over Harry's limp form. "I'm going to go find Ginny... Don't mention this to the Order... Okay, Ron?"

He nods and leaves the room with a slight frown, muttering something about saving him some brandy. I follow a moment later, glancing nervously at Harry before I shut the door.

"Ginny?" I call softly down the hall. I can hear sobs coming from the bedroom Ginny and I share. With concern reflected in my usually warm brown eyes, I push open the door and step inside.

The youngest Weasley, and only sister, is huddled on the long and broad windowsill. 
Ginny has drawn her knees to her chest and was now hugging them for all she was worth.

"Ginny? Are you all right?" I ask, coming over to the windowsill and taking a seat next to her. I put an arm around Ginny's shaking shoulders.

"What's happening, Hermione? Why is it like this?" Ginny sobs into my shoulder.

"What d'you mean?" I question. With my free hand, I brush a few strands of bushy brown hair behind an ear. Concern still shines brightly in my chocolate-brown eyes as I gaze at my young friend.

"Harry!" Ginny simply cries harder when the name slips past her lips. A silence punctuated by the girl's broken sobs stretches between us until Ginny regains her composure enough to say, "I don't understand what's happening, Hermione. He used to be so strong... He was determined to stop Voldemort, but have fun with us at the same time... Since Dumbledore died, he's distanced himself from everyone. You saw what he did to himself. Harry's become a cutter, and now he's drinking. I'm afraid of what he'll do next." She dissolves into tears again and clings to me, just as the sobs that rack her body grow more violent.

"You still like him, don't you, Ginny?" I ask quietly.

In response, Ginny nods her head. I frown slightly; this problem is getting more and more complicated by the minute.

"We're going to have to say something to him, Gin. I promise we'll make him stop... somehow."

Ginny nods again, this time lifting her face to look me in the eyes. She wipes away her tears and sniffles once, then gets up from the sill.

"I'm going to wait for Harry to wake up... Maybe I can talk to him then," Ginny says quietly. She turns and slips into the hallway.

I heave a sigh before getting to my feet. Why would Harry start drinking? He hasn't shown any interest in alcohol before... And that cutter business. He must've picked that up from the Muggles he lived with. I agree with my own theory, move on to ponder more possible answers.

"He said something about opening a locket. It couldn't be the fake Horcrux; I'm sure of it, unless it somehow sealed itself again. Maybe he figured out who R.A.B. was. I still don't understand it, though... I searched school records, and I couldn't find anyone with the initials 'R.A.B.'..." I mumble to myself, brow furrowed in frustration.

A commotion down the hall makes me look up and abandon my thoughts of the mysterious writer. Someone is hollering in Harry's -- no, Sirius' -- room. I immediately rush down the hall, expecting the worst but hoping for the best. What if Harry has done something beyond reason? Is the time between drunk to sober the same with firewhisky?

I skid to a halt in front of the doorway. As soon as I stop, I can feel the heat rise to my cheeks. "RON! DROP THAT BOTTLE!"

Ginny looks around in relief. "Hermione!" She smiles at me as I take charge of the situation by wrestling the firewhisky from Ron.

"I found that! Hey! Harry said I could have some!" he protests loudly, trying to grab the neck of the glass bottle.

"Ron! Don't go by what he said! He was drunk!" I snap back, successfully retrieving the drink from his irresponsible hands. "Imagine what your mum would say if you tottered into the kitchen, as drunk as Harry was!" That shuts him up. Well, sort of.

"I... Oh come on, Hermione! Only a sip! I was just about to open it when Ginny came along and started yelling..." Ron trails off, apparently guilty.

Yeah, he had better feel guilty. I simply can't believe him. What is it with guys and drinking? I sigh in frustration and flop down onto the bed. "You guys are... urgh! I can't even find a just comparison! You saw how bad Harry was, Ron, and then you go and actually look for a bottle of firewhisky?"

Harry groans in his sleep and shifts positions with a strange expression on his face that I've never seen before. Is it fear? Or absolute fury? For a brief moment, I wonder what he's dreaming and whether I should wake him or not. Ron's voice brings me back from my thoughts as he whines some more.

"Well, yeah! My best friend had some, and sure, I saw the results of drinking too much. Hermione, I wasn't planning on downing the entire bottle and then some, like Harry here," he argues, gesturing at the now-motionless form behind me. Ron's arm falls as he adds thoughtfully, "I wonder what made him do it."

Ginny shrugs next to the bed, where she's drawn up a chair to sit by Harry. "Who knows? I'll be sure to find out when he gets up."

Ron nods and starts for the door. He stares sulkily at the floor after stealing a glance at the bottle in my hands.

"Go see if that meeting's over," I instruct with an edge to my voice. That edge is worn away as I continue. "And, you guys, don't mention this to anyone, okay? I'm not sure what will happen if we say something."

The siblings nod their understanding. Ron disappears from the room, headed in the direction of the meeting room. I set the bottle down on the table, smile sadly at Ginny, and follow him down the hallway.


He turns around and grins at me. "What's up, 'Mione?"

"Er... nothing. I just wanted to... check with your mum about... about the wedding plans," I mumble when I catch up with him.

Ron shrugs and puts an arm around my shoulders as we slow our pace; the gesture is so familiar to me I barely notice. We near the meeting room's door and his light pressure on my shoulder eases to nothing. "What are we supposed to say when we go in there?" he asks me quietly, staring a little worriedly at the door. "I'm a terrible liar, 'Mione... my ears..."

"Don't worry," I say soothingly, smiling a little at Ron. "If anyone asks what Harry's up to, we can just say he's sleeping. It's true enough; they don't need to know the entire story." For simple reassurance, I place a hand on Ron's shoulder and smile again.

He looks a little uncomfortable; his ears are turning a slight red. I swat at his arm playfully and turn to open the door. Honestly, it's been... at least a month and a half since we started going out.

With a searing, burning sadness, I realize it's also been at least a month and half since Dumbledore died. I always respected him, my headmaster, and professor. He was a great man, certainly one to look up to. But I've done my mourning. I'm finished, through with tears. They remind me of what's to come, and I just can't allow myself to be overwhelmed by it all. Yet.

"'Mione? Are you okay?"

My head snaps up. "Huh? Oh, I'm sorry, Ron, I got caught up in my thoughts again." I try to smile, but I just can't... I'm still too far into everything. I guess thinking ahead, expecting the worst, and all is a really stupid idea. I have to live in the present, not in the possible future. In my distracted state, I absentmindedly gather my hair in a bushy ponytail and let it fall back onto my shoulders again.

"All right," I say after a while. "All right, we can go in now."

Ron gives me this worried/confused look as I turn back to the door and open it this time.

"Hermione! Ron! Just the people we wanted to see!" exclaims Tonks in a falsely cheery voice.

We edge into the room, now suddenly nervous. They wanted to see us? What's this all about? I try my best to smile, and when I fail miserably, I bite my lip instead.

"You can take a seat over there, if you like, you two. The meeting's over, we were just discussing a few things while we were together," Remus explains, gesturing to a couple empty chairs farther along the table.

I nod and cross over to the seats with Ron trailing along behind me. Once I'm seated across from Mrs. Weasley, I turn to look at Tonks and ask, "What is it you want to discuss?" As soon as I get the words out, I have this horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. Harry. They want to know if he told us anything.

"I know this is hard for you, Hermione, Ron," Lupin says sadly, "but it's also hard for the rest of the Order. We need to help him, but we don't know where to start. Has Harry told you anything?"

Ron's ears are gaining a pinkish-tint; I kick him under the table to keep him from talking. "Erm... well, when he was... awake this morning, he was shouting about a locket and... a letter of some sort." Tonks and Remus make to get up, so I add hastily, "He's sleeping now, though. Ginny's... er... with him."

"With him?" queries Mrs. Weasley. She dabs at her eyes with a damp handkerchief and sniffles. "Tell me what happened, Hermione... Tell me what he's said to you."

I frown at Ron's mother with sadness in my eyes. I can't tell her what happened... but it hurts not to. Mrs. Weasley's like my second mother or something, a mother that's part of my world-- the Wizarding world. "I'm really sorry, Mrs. Weasley, but Harry hasn't told us anything. Ginny and I went to deliver breakfast in the hopes that he'd eat something, but... he was, um... busy."

She bites her lip and gets that worried-look of hers. "I do hope he's all right. You said Ginny's with him, right?"

I nod slowly. Maybe we'll make a clean getaway... Will they all buy what I said? I highly doubt it, but oh well. I'm not telling.

"What d'you mean, 'busy'?" Tonks asks. "Is Ginny asleep or anything? Harry might have more of those knives..."

"Knives?" Mrs. Weasley says sharply. "What do you mean? I thought you took them away!"

"We... er... we did, Molly, but we're afraid he might have more than just two..." Lupin replies uncomfortably.

"More?" Mrs. Weasley shrieks. "What do you mean, Remus? Why didn't you search his room?"

"Yes, why didn't we?" growls Moody.

"Mad-Eye, you know exactly why we couldn't!" Remus argues with a touch of heat to his voice. "Harry used all manner of curses, charms, jinxes, and hexes on that room's perimeter!"

Mrs. Weasley bursts into tears at this point. I grab her hand from across the table as Mr. Weasley starts patting her shoulder.

"It's okay, Mrs. Weasley," I say, smiling sympathetically, "I'll go check on them now and then search Harry's trunk."

She nods, hiccups, scrubs at her face with a fresh handkerchief. "All, all r-right, Her-Hermio-one."

I push my chair away from the table, completely tuning out Moody's and Lupin's argument over procedures. Ron follows me out into the hallway, frowning.

"I told you my mum was upset over all of this," he mumbles halfway to the bedroom that Harry hijacked.

I return the worried frown and poke my head inside. Harry's leaning against the bedpost, awake and, apparently, sick. Serves him right! I still can't believe him! Although, I have to admit that I'm surprised he's awake... Shouldn't he still be sound asleep? I mean, he did drink an entire bottle of firewhisky, followed by brandy. Strong brandy.

"Hermione," he says hoarsely. "I'm really sorry about earlier... I must've picked up the bottle while I was staring at the letter... I had just found out who R.A.B. was, how to destroy Horcruxes, and what the others are. Celebration, I guess." Harry redirects his gaze to focus on the rumpled sheets.

Ginny nods from her seat on the edge of the bed, to the right of him. I notice that her hand is wrapped around Harry's and smile slightly. She grins back and says, "Yeah, it's Regulus, 'Mione! Regulus Apollo Black! And Harry really is sorry... that firewhisky was a mistake. I'm sure I would've grabbed the nearest bottle to celebrate something like this, too... Even if I'm not of age..."

Harry refuses to look at anyone but the mattress. I sigh in exasperation, beam at his messy hair, and plop down on his left. "Don't worry about it... I'm glad you figured out who the writer was. Besides, Ron here was on the verge of joining you in Too-Much-To-Drink Land..."

At this, our best friend looks up at Ron with something like amusement dancing in his eyes. "Figures," Harry mutters quietly, picking up the real Horcrux, the fake, and the letters. I notice with another frown that the flicker dies. "We've more important things to discuss... And, for future reference, Ron, never drink too much firewhisky. I can't think straight at the moment, and before, it gave me... er... nightmares."

Ginny catches my eye; I nod. We'll talk of what Harry told her later on. "Okay, Harry, what's this all about?" I ask.

He hands me the letter with instructions. My eyes scan it, (Ron's eyes scan as well, over my shoulder) causing me to break out with a grin. "Oh, Harry! This is great! We can start on finding them all now!"

Harry shakes his head. "We can't... I don't know where to start, and I've got to owl McGonagall... Unless... was she at that Order meeting?" he questions excitedly. "We might be able to check the library... I mean... Oh, forget it. I can't discourage you guys." He scowls at us and picks up his wand.

"That's right! I'm glad you finally realize that!" My smile continues to spread across my face. "We were going to help whether you wanted us to or not, as you would've found out. First, I say we find McGonagall, then the twins. There's a lot to be done before the wedding and before term--"

Harry holds up a hand. "I'm not going. I've changed my mind again; I'm only going to reform the D.A. on the weekends, not actually attend. Ron, I'm turning over Captain duties to you."

Ron stared. "You aren't. I'm going with you... You don't honestly think I'm staying at the school, do you? Give them to Ginny, mum won't let her quit school... but the rest of us are of age, so we can make that decision."

"What d'you mean? I'm coming too!" Ginny retorts hotly. "You can't possibly--"

"Gin, no. You stay. Voldemort's after you now, and it'd be best if you stayed at Hogwarts over the course of the year. I heard the Order's going to keep better watch, send in more wizards to protect the school," Harry replies firmly. "I'll check in time and again, I promise I'll explain what we'll be doing... You just can't come."

Angry tears well in Ginny's eyes. "You can't be serious, Harry! I've helped you guys before! Voldemort was in the Ministry when we went to rescue Sirius!"

"Ginny, I said no! I won't put you in anymore danger than you're already in!"

There's something more to this. Way more. I haven't seen that look in Harry's eyes since the Ministry incident. "Ginny, think of what your mum would say if you dropped out like the twins... and Ron," I say quietly. The weight of this entire situation comes crashing down on me as I realize that I'm giving up my education for this... I'm throwing away my shot at a decent career. But careers won't matter if Voldemort wins, if he somehow kills Harry...

The girl sighs and leans against Harry, who, surprisingly, holds her. "I've realized this may be my last year," he murmurs into Ginny's flaming red hair, loud enough for us all to hear, "not only at Hogwarts, but, if my luck runs out, to live. I'm going to make the most of it. I'm sorry for pushing you away."

The tears in Ginny's eyes start to roll down her cheeks as she replies, "I won't let you die, Harry."

I can feel Ron's arm around my shoulders. His face is set strangely, gaze fixed on his younger sister. "Maybe Ginny can help us get started, Harry... You know, before school and all."

Harry looks up at us and smiles; it does wonders for his face. I think this is the first time I've really appreciated that smile being there... after going so long without it. "All right," he states, his tone reminding me of a commanding officer in some Muggle war movie, "we'll all start by seeing Professor McGonagall and explaining everything to her. Then we'll pay a visit to Diagon Alley to get Ginny's school supplies and whatever else we need. I was there this morning, but I didn't--"

"HARRY! COME HERE, PLEASE!" bellows someone (I'm guessing Mrs. Weasley by the tone of voice) half a house away.

Our best friend's head snaps towards the source. "I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

Ron shrugs. "I dunno... we didn't tell them about your... episode, or anything, although they did ask what was going on."

Harry shakes his head and gets up, releasing Ginny in the process. "I'll just go see what they want... Be back soon..." He slips into the hallway and is halfway to the entrance hall when Ginny, Ron, and I race out the bedroom door and down the corridor. Harry simply smiles again.

Next thing I know, I'm staring right into frightening gray eyes. My first thought is that Harry's eyes somehow changed color, since I was looking at him last. After I blink a few times, I realize I'm staring at none-other than Draco Malfoy. His robes are a little frayed, various cuts and bruises cover the exposed skin, his hair isn't in perfect place, and the look in his eyes... Malfoy's eyes are haunted, with a tiny sparkle of pride, hate and the tiniest suggestion of madness.

"Harry, D-Draco just arrived here, said he wanted a word..." Mrs. Weasley manages nervously. I can tell she knows about Harry's history with Malfoy, and is adding it to her existing hate of the Malfoys, sparked from what Lucius Malfoy did to her youngest child.

"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley." Harry keeps his eyes fixed on Malfoy. It seems like he's fighting with himself in his mind or something along--

My mouth drops open in shock. Harry, Harry Potter, the Gryffindor, is sticking out his hand to Malfoy... Draco Malfoy... his arch nemesis! (That sounded really corny, didn't it? Oh well, it's true! I'm making this sound like some silly comic, aren't I?)

"I remember what you did on the tower, Malfoy," Harry conveys calmly, "and I must admit, I've found some respect for you."

Malfoy stares as well. It's actually quite funny... Malfoy shocked. Well, now it's my turn to be shocked again. The Slytherin grasps Harry's hand and they shake.

"We're starting over then, Potter?" Malfoy asks warily, still partially stunned.

Harry nods. "We have to, now that I know you're not a true follower of Voldemort."

"But how d'you know I'm not a spy?" sneers Malfoy. Heh, I knew that shock would wear off.

"Well, you've managed to show up on the Order's doorstep. The only way you could've found it is through Dumbledore." Harry sticks a hand into his robes, extracts yet another pocketknife. I hear a gasp in the background and a few whispers. He hands it to Malfoy, who simply looks at it confusedly.

"What do I do with this?" asks the blonde, still staring.

"I want you to open it... I'm giving you a chance to kill me. If you're a true Death Eater, then you'll take the chance I'm giving you, kill me, and Disapparate."

Ron, Ginny, and I gape at Harry. Has he gone mad! He's trusting Malfoy with a knife... he's telling Malfoy to kill him... Not that Harry hasn't already tried that himself, observes a small voice in the back of my mind. I shake my head. I reach out to touch Harry's shoulder, but what's happening now stops me in my tracks.

Malfoy flicks open the pocketknife, stares at the blade, then thrusts it at Harry's throat.

"No!" Ginny shrieks, getting ready to tackle the battered blonde. Her older brother drags her backwards... but I can't move. I just stand here, with my hand halfway to Harry's shoulder.

"So easy. I could kill you. Plunge this knife into your throat. After several years of hatred, though, I think I will accept your offer." He closes the knife and hands it back to Harry, who's smiling. Smiling! "I could've, would've, but I won't. I need help. I'm sick and tired of it all. Getting on the wrong side of Voldemort isn't my idea of fun. He broke my father out of prison. My father killed my mother. My father tortured me with a smile on his face."

Ginny stares, her mouth wide open. I stare as well, but my jaw seems frozen. Malfoy and Harry... friends? Who'd have thought...? I shake my head again.

Harry jerks his head in the direction of Sirius' bedroom. "Should we go discuss our plans?"

Malfoy shrugs, but follows him down the hallway all the same. The two of them disappear behind a door.

I turn to look at Mrs. Weasley while Ron and Ginny stare at me. "Wow," is all I can manage at the moment. The Weasleys present nod, all except for Ginny, who has silent tears running down her face.

"He could've killed him... Malfoy almost stabbed him..." she mumbles, eyes wide.

Her mother gathers her in a gentle hug. "I'm sure Harry knew what he was doing," Mrs. Weasley says. Even though she's trying to sound reassuring, I can hear the doubt in her voice.

I grab Ron's hand and pull him over to me. "I'm going to find out what's going on. Coming?" I whisper in his ear. He nods, and I start in the direction of the bedroom. "What d'you think Harry's doing?"

Ron shrugs and replies in a whisper, "I have no idea, but there's no way I'm trusting Malfoy. Harry took a real chance in giving him that pocketknife... What if he was wrong?"

I shake my head and snuggle closer to him. "I don't want to think about that." I push open the door, surprised to find Harry and Malfoy bent over the Horcrux, its fake, and the letter.

They don't look up when we enter; their eyes seem glued to parchment as they continue their intense discussion.

Ron tugs me into the room, across the worn wooden boards of the floor to the bed. We plop down together opposite from the two others. Harry glances at us; I can see the warning there, but there's also something like a plead... I squeeze Ron's hand and relay the message with my eyes. He nods and points to the letter, asking, "Discover anything of importance?"

Harry sits up a little straighter as Malfoy continues to peruse the aged parchment. 

"Yeah," he answers, "several important discoveries, actually. It turns out that Lucius murdered Narcissa on Voldemort’s orders. She was interfering with Malfoy's judgment and decisions. Anyway, Malfoy took up a mission from his insane father to get away and fetch help after receiving punishment from Voldemort." Harry grins a little, something completely irrelevant to what he was just talking about. I raise an eyebrow at him, but he doesn't catch the question in my eyes.

Malfoy slides the paper back over to Harry and frowns slightly. "In the long run, I'm supposed to kill the Order members by playing a Snape... But, that fool was right; I'm not a killer... I can't kill these people; hell, I can't kill people in general. I'm simply here accepting your offer of friendship and Dumbledore's offer of safety. I need to go back, though, but I can't empty-handed. They're bound to come for me soon..."

"Well, if I were to be brought straight to Voldemort, then I'm sure the murders you're supposed to commit won't matter anymore."

Once again, I'm left to gape at Harry. "What the hell are you talking about?"

He gives me a small smile and replies, "I don't think I've ever heard you curse, Hermione. Have you heard this side of Hermione, Ron?" Apparently highly amused, he turns his gaze to Ron.

"Nope... D'you think someone locked the real 'Mione in a closet or something? Or maybe she's really in the kitchen, and this person here has taken Polyjuice Potion..." Ron grins wickedly, so I slap his arm a little harder than necessary.

Harry leans to the side, out of my reach, and states, suddenly serious again, "I've got to destroy the Horcruxes before I can go after Voldemort. The last stage of my job would be extremely difficult, seeing as most Death Eaters would simply kill me on sight. With Malfoy's cooperation, he can get me to the Dark Lord himself, and gets protection from now until then..."

"You're going to give yourself up to Voldemort?" I ask blankly. I can't believe what I'm hearing... Has Harry finally cracked? It certainly seems like it... He had a girlfriend, but he broke-up with her. Then, when we showed up to spirit him away the morning after his birthday, we found him sleeping in a tree in the Dursleys' backyard with a big black eye (I fixed that myself when we got back... very nasty bruise, it was) and a number of other Muggle injuries. Who in their right mind would sleep in a tree? Then again, Harry does seem to have something going on between him and trees... Didn't he fall out of one just yesterday? Anyway, back to Hermione's Reasons for Believing Her Best Friend Harry Potter Has Gone Completely Mad... He made friends with our sworn enemy, Draco Malfoy. And after last year, you'd have thought Harry would have cursed him severely, not shaken his hand. He started a fight with his Uncle and not only got beat up, but thrown out of the house. Then there's the drinking bit, and the cutting business...

I shake my head to clear my thoughts.

"I wouldn't say 'give myself up', exactly," he mutters, almost to himself. "More like... present myself... so we can duel..." He shrugs and jabs a finger at Regulus' note. "We should really get started with plans, though. Just to clarify, who here isn't returning to Hogwarts?"

Every one of us present raises our hands. He nods and returns to his talk of plans, begins to outline an exciting escapade. "Okay, so first, I've got to see McGonagall and arrange a few things. We can probably use the Hogwarts library as an information source. Next, we'll have to split up to find the Horcruxes... Fred and George said they owed me for the start-up loan. I'll make sure I mention them before the duel."

"What do you mean? You can always mention them afterwards. We'll have plenty of time to do it," I cut in, fear growing in my chest.

Harry looks at me as if I know what he's talking about. "I'm pretty sure it's either me or the wand that's the last Horcrux. It may not have been intentional, but when Voldemort transferred powers, I think a bit of soul went with them. I might end up dead, so I'll simply mention the twins before everything goes down as history."

"But... Harry, you can't be sure about that! You can't just--"

"Hermione, I'm hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. You should do the same... I think it's the only thing you can do during a time of war. Listen to me, 'Mione," Harry says, giving me a strange look.

I'm left speechless, blinking blankly at my best friend. He can't just accept this. It's so stupid... It's not like he's going to die or anything... The last Horcrux could be, must be, is, Voldemort's wand...

"No way," Ron mumbles, gaping as well.

"Yes way," answers Harry calmly. I want to be mad at him for staying calm. I want to rage and cry at the same time... How can he be calm about this? "Regulus said he didn't know what the last Horcrux was because it hadn't been created yet."

"Then why is You-Know-Who always trying to do you in?" Ron shoots back.

"It wouldn't matter to him... He's got a bunch more; one wouldn't matter since he could make another after he killed me. Besides, it would be a win-win situation on Voldemort's part; 'And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...' means it's me or him."

Malfoy stared at the letter the entire time we were arguing. Now, I round on him to let my rage out. It won't matter if he hates me now. I have to get rid of all of this-- everything’s building up. The hopelessness, the denial, the pointless rage.

"And what about you?" I snap at the blonde. "You haven't said a single word, Malfoy! But, no, of course you wouldn't! You couldn't give a damn about Harry! Sure, you may be 'friends' now, but I don't care if you two become blood brothers because I know you won't change your ways! You could care less if my best friend dies!"

All three guys stare at me in shock. Their gazes only fuel my desperate rage as I continue with my accusations and pointless ranting.

"You scare me, Harry!" I proclaim shrilly, hot tears dripping freely down my cheeks. Now, for the entire house to hear, I start shouting Hermione's Reasons for Believing Her Best Friend Harry Potter Has Gone Completely Mad.

When I reach the drinking and cutter part, take a deep breath to continue, open my mouth wide, Harry unfreezes himself and places a hand on my shoulder. He catches my eye; I shut my mouth very slowly.

"'Mione," he says softly, turning me over to Ron, "don't worry. You shouldn't be scared; I'm fine. I'm in my right mind, as much as I'll ever be."

I brush away my tears and shrink into Ron. "You need more help than we can give."

Harry shakes his head, turns his attention to a dumbfounded Malfoy.

"Is what she said true, Potter?"

For a split second, the look on Harry's face betrays his real feelings on the matter: frustration and discomfort. Reluctantly, he nods. He starts by explaining, "Yes, what Hermione said was true."

"Wow." Malfoy goes on to mutter to himself about 'Saint Potter'.

"Anyway... I've got to see Professor McGonagall. Are you guys coming? Or are you simply going to go over my current state of being?" Harry raises an eyebrow at us and exits the room without waiting for an answer.

Ron and Malfoy look at me blankly. The latter hesitates in following Ron's lead as Ron stands uncertainly.

"Well," I say quietly, looking them both in the eyes, "I suppose we can discuss plans? McGonagall may take a while to find--" POP. "--and it sounds like Harry just left."

A/N: Okay, so I’ve tried my best to edit this chapter grammar-wise. I’d like to leave it alone... plot-wise. Not exactly happy with the early chapters, but I'm too lazy to go through it all now. It'd never get done xD

Anyway, up to chapter 7 is written and ready for upload. Let me know if you want more =)

Happy New Year,

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