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Author's Notes: Thanks to Julie for beta-reading this, and thanks to the wonderful MajiKat for this beautiful banner. It's perfect, isn't it? There's Godric's Hollow, the cemetery and the main characters of my ff (and hopefully this banner will bring me more readers... Thanks to Abigail, who went through this another time. 

“Just tell me what I have to do to keep your hands away from me, Granger,” Draco hissed in her ear, his right hand sliding slowly on her cheek, leaving her mouth free to answer, or rather scream, back at him.

But Hermione didn’t want to scream, nor did she have a clue on what to say to him. She was lost in thought, as Draco’s quick and hot breath echoed in her right ear. She couldn’t take her mind off the fact that he was close to her as he had never been before, unless she considered the previous night. He was on his side, and she had her back against his stomach. She could feel locks of his hair brushing her temple as he bent over her. For some reason, she was fine with his closeness.

“Do you have the Dark Mark on your arm?” she asked, and her voice seemed unrecognisable to herself as much as to him. It was thick with emotion, fear, and excitement.

Draco moved his arm away from her cheek and turned on his back, letting her go. He looked at the ceiling and wondered why Hermione didn’t move away, why she didn’t stand up from the bed or turn to face him. Maybe she was afraid to let him know that she would have been scared if he answered that yes, he had the Dark Mark tattooed on his arm. He smirked, pleased with himself; he loved to scare the little know-it-all.

“Would it make any difference?” he asked sourly. “I tried to kill Dumbledore. Would a bloody tattoo make any difference at all?”

“I don’t know,” admitted Hermione, and it was true. She didn’t know. She had to see it to understand how she would have felt.

“And what if I have it?” he asked, turning back towards her. “Will you kill me? Just like Weasley would love to do.”

“Ron doesn’t want to kill you,” she said, but her voice was unsure. “He simply doesn’t like you. And can you blame him?” she asked sharply.

Draco laughed. “No, how could I? I want him dead.”

“No, you don’t,” she murmured, causing his laughter to stop. “I don’t think you want that at all.”

“And you know everything, don’t you?” he hissed.

“I know enough,” she answered. Her eyes wandered around the bedroom as she still lay on the bed. She didn’t want to stand up; there was something keeping her there. “And if you didn’t have the heart to kill Dumbledore, you would never be able to kill Ron or Harry.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. He turned on his side again; it hurt him a lot, but he would have suffered ten times more than that if he could have the chance to threaten her. He placed his hand on her upper arm and gripped it with a strength that he didn’t know he had and moved towards her. “And what about you?” he hissed. “Do you think that I’d be able to kill you?”

Hermione shivered. His nails were digging in her skin through her shirt, but she didn’t move; she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he was hurting her.

“You wouldn’t,” she answered softly.

“Want me to try?” he asked challengingly, venom in his every word as he gripped her arm tighter.

Now it was Hermione’s turn to laugh. The situation was too strange. An injured boy, who couldn’t even manage to turn fully on the bed he was lying on, was threatening her with death. It was absolutely crazy. She moved her hand up and seized his, tossing it away from her. Then she stood up, smoothed her shirt and glanced down at Draco, who was breathing stiffly, raggedly, from the effort of moving.

“Seriously, Malfoy, we can talk about this when you have your health back,” she teased him. “Can I see your arm now?”

Draco fell on his back again. All of his threatening words and gestures had resulted in excruciating pain in his lower belly. He wasn’t even sure that it was all that effective, since Hermione seemed anything but scared by him. “Go on,” he said softly, offering her his left arm.

Hermione bit her bottom lip and took his wrist in her hand, turning the arm towards her. The dark stain that she had spotted was a bruise. A bruise almost five inches long that ran from his elbow down his arm. It was a dark purple colour with shades of black and violet. It was quite big and stood out on his white skin like a stain of ink on a piece of parchment. “What is it?” she asked hoarsely. She didn’t know if she was relieved or angry.

Draco smirked. “Disappointed?” he asked, jerking away his arm from her.

Hermione raised her eyes on his face. “How did you get that bruise?” she asked.

“I’ve a wound that goes from hip to hip on my stomach, don’t you think that maybe I also received something else with it?” he asked sharply.

“This bruise?”

Draco nodded.

“So there’s no chance that you’ll ever tell me how you got it, is there?”

Draco pretended to think. “No,” he answered, smirking. “Not in a million years.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. How much could a girl hate a boy? If that boy is Draco Malfoy, I can hate him enough to find Voldemort almost pleasant, she thought bitterly. She turned on her heels to leave the bedroom, suddenly boiling with rage.

“Hey, Granger!”

Hermione turned to glance at Draco, an annoyed look on her face. “What?” she demanded rudely.

“There’s still the dirty gauze at the bottom of the bed,” he said, kicking the sheets with his foot and causing the gauze to fall. “Oops, I meant on the floor,” he added mockingly.

Hermione narrowed her eyes, but he was right. That gauze had to be thrown away. Never mind how disgusting it was. It had been there since early that afternoon and it was already starting to smell. She walked towards the bottom of the bed and knelt down to pick up the gauze dyed the colour of his dried blood. As she did so, she noticed something that had been under the bed since two days before. Something that she had almost forgotten, something that she had wanted to give Harry since the very first moment she found it. Lily’s diary. She stretched an arm under the bed and pulled it out, looking at it as if it was as dangerous as the Monster Book of Monsters or Tom Riddle's diary.

“Granger, what are you doing?” asked Draco from the bed. He couldn’t see her or what she was doing. “What’s taking you so long? I need to take a nap, and I won’t be able to sleep if I know that you are crawling under my bed.”

Hermione stood up, the diary clasped against her chest, her eyes flashing dangerously. “First of all, Malfoy,” she answered icily, “it’s my bed. And second, I’ve finished and I’m –”

“What’s that?” he asked, nodding towards the diary.

“Nothing,” she answered, looking down. “None of your business.”

“It’s a book,” he answered for her. “And it’s old. What is it? And why was it under my bed?”

“My bed, Malfoy!” yelled Hermione. “And it’s not a book, it’s a diary. My diary!”

Draco looked a bit taken aback, as if she hadn’t lost her temper before. How could she possibly mind about a diary so much? “Okay, I was just asking,” he said defensively.

“Next time, don’t ask!” she snapped, and walked out of the bedroom with the diary in one hand and the ball of gauze in the other.


Hermione looked carefully from the stairs into the living room. The last thing she wanted was to find Harry in front of her while she was reading his mother’s diary without telling him. She felt like someone that was going to do something completely wrong, knew it perfectly well, but couldn't do otherwise. Like a child who steals some chocolate from the cupboard even if his mother had told him that he could not have any until after dinner. There was something irresistible for her in that diary, and she felt like she should be the one to read it, not Harry. But that was wrong. Terribly wrong.

The first floor of the cottage was empty. Harry and Ron were nowhere in sight. She let out a sigh of relief – that meant that she could read the diary without being disturbed. Hermione wondered briefly where her friends could be. Ron, she knew, had walked out of the cottage for the third time. She wondered where he had gone. But what about Harry? Where could he possibly be?

I’m sure that Harry has gone looking for Ron, she thought as a warm feeling bubbled up. Harry was a good friend, and she knew that. The current situation, however, was perfect for her, because she had the whole house to herself. She walked towards the middle of the living room, and kicking off her shoes, she sat on the couch and curled up with her legs nearly against her chest. She placed the diary on her knees and opened it.

She flipped through the pages slowly; the very first one consisted of the passage she had already read, while the other ten or so were just annotations about bills for water, gas, or the telephone. She was surprised to see that they had a telephone, and from the phone numbers reported, they must have used it a lot. She remembered Ron using a telephone once and wondered if James would have been just like him. Naturally, Lily must have been better than her husband, since she was a Muggle-born, but who she would have called was a mystery. Earlier that summer, she and Ron had spent some time at Little Whinging with Harry’s relatives, and she had finally understood why Lily had cut her sister from her life. Hermione thought that Petunia probably wasn’t the one Lily called, and there were no other living relatives left to Harry other than his aunt.

Hermione shook her head forcefully, trying to understand why she was giving so much importance to some stupid phone calls. She turned some other pages and finally found some entries in a more narrative form.

Hermione looked around herself one last time, before leaning her chin against her palm and starting to read the diary.

Day three.

Nothing new. Dumbledore asked us to meet him in the Muggle pub in this village; he said that he had important news to tell us. Apparently this important news was that You-Know-Who is still looking for us up north, and he’s nearly clueless about where we are. At least that’s some good news. Peter is still missing. It’s already a couple of weeks that we haven’t heard from him, I really hope he’s al lright. Dumbledore is really worried about him, but I don’t think for the same reasons. Dumbledore didn’t seem to trust Peter much. I don’t think he will ever betray us, but he’s not as strong as Sirius or as smart as Remus; at least he’s not as eye-catching as they are. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named can’t even imagine that Peter is the one holding the secret to the place where the prophecy will be fulfilled. I’ve also tried to get some more information about this village. I’m sure it has something to do with Godric Gryffindor. Though why a Muggle village is named after a famous wizard, I can’t tell. Dumbledore seems to know something about this, but he just answered in his usual manner with a wink and a smile that could mean everything and nothing. Anyway, the people in this place don’t seem really keen on making any kind of conversation, and I couldn’t learn much more than what I already knew.

Day four.

I’ve been to the cemetery. It’s beautiful, and it opens on the glen behind the village. I love the church; I would like to see the inside someday. James keeps on telling me that I shouldn’t wander alone in this place, but the Muggle newspapers don’t seem to be reporting anything that could link You-Know-Who to this place. I think that we’ll be safe here. Anyway, back to the cemetery subject, I found something really interesting. The eldest tomb here is more than a thousand years old, which is incredible because the first inhabitants settled in this place only seven hundred years ago. Or at least that’s what the sign says. I can’t remember very well, but I’m pretty sure that some famous wizard used to live here in the fourteenth century. I’ll have a look at the books that I’ve brought with me. Harry is crying, I bet it’s because James can’t change the channel on the TV, and he was watching a horror movie. I better go downstairs and check on them.

Hermione turned the page. There was an ink drawing of a baby with messy black hair. He didn’t wear glasses, nor did he have the lightning bolt-shaped scar, but Hermione recognised him immediately. He looked very much like James, or so she imagined, since she hadn’t actually known him. She let her fingers slide on the drawing; the parchment was rough under her skin and she could feel the lines of ink. She turned the page again.

Day seven.

Not much time for writing these days. James was bored two days ago and he decided to go downstairs to have a look at the cellar. Yes, there’s a cellar in this cottage, but we didn’t know how to get into it until we found that small door on the back lawn. It was well hidden by leaves and roots, but still accessible. Downstairs is a mess and James had decided to tidy it up. And since I’ve not much to do while Harry sleeps, I’m helping him. But this morning we found a door that we haven’t been able to open and James said that he wants to knock it down. It seems quite strong and since we can’t perform magic, I don’t know how he’s going to do it. I don’t think that he knows either, and that’s good because it will keep him busy for a while. At least he has something to do.

Day eight.

Dumbledore called. Apparently he’s well accustomed to using a telephone. I don’t know when he learned that or where he calls from, but he keeps in touch. Although we haven’t had any news about You-Know-Who, his fellow Death Eaters have attacked Stratford-Upon-Avon. Lots of people died. I can’t imagine leaving Harry’s side! If James and I didn’t survive or were permanently injured, Harry would end up with Petunia and her husband. No, I don’t think she would keep him, but she’s the only living relative left. The thought makes my skin itch. And I bet it would have the same effect on Petunia. After all, there’s always Sirius, if Petunia doesn’t want Harry...

Later. Oh my goodness! I’m still laughing so much. It was almost four days ago that I was thinking about the name of that famous wizard that used to live here, and couldn’t find it anywhere. And James knew it! Of course, he did! If it has something to do with Quidditch, he always does. Bowman Wright, who invented the Golden Snitch, was from Godric’s Hollow.

Day twelve.

The door is still in place. I told James to let it alone, but he wouldn’t listen to me. He can be so stubborn sometimes. If Harry turns out to be like him when he is older, I’ll have quite a lot of work to do to keep them quiet. I’ve met one of the neighbours today as well. He seemed nice, and that was
strange, since he’s the first nice person I’ve met here. He is old, with snow white hair that frames his wrinkled face like a mane. I wonder how old he could be, very old indeed, but I couldn’t tell his age. James doesn’t like him, he said that he’s strange. I’m not sure what he meant by that, but I think he’s strange too, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not nice. He lives here on the main street of Godric’s Hollow, in a house that I’ve never seen before. I invited him over for tea one of these days and he accepted. He said that he knows a lot about this place, and he’ll… 

Hermione lifted her eyes from the diary when she heard the back door open. She snapped the book closed and hid it under the closest pillow, trying to wear her most angelic expression over her face while the footsteps neared her.


Harry looked around. The cold afternoon was slowly sliding into an even colder evening, and the sun was setting behind the hills at the far west of the village. He tightened the coat around his waist as he kept walking unhurriedly in front of the houses on the main street. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Maybe Ron, maybe something else. Maybe he just needed to stay away from Hermione. Hermione. Her face was imprinted in his mind like the negative of a picture, and he didn’t know why. He had always thought of her as a friend, a sister. One of his two best friends, she and Ron. And he had always thought that she would end up with Ron. It was so obvious to everyone but them. He had felt the urge to hit his friends during the whole last school year, every time that they proved to be so oblivious of their feeling for one other.

And now the very thought of Hermione with Ron made him feel emotions that he would have never believed possible. He felt angry and sick, as though Hermione was already his, and only his. He hoped that a walk in the fresh air of the evening would help him clear his head, but the farther he got from the cottage, the more he wanted to go back and stay with Hermione.

“Isn’t late for such a young boy to be wandering alone in these streets? Isn’t the lovely milady waiting for you at home?”

Harry stopped. The voice that had spoken – he knew it. He turned to face the old man he had already met twice and that had taken up a part of his mind since that morning. Only a part though, since Hermione occupied the other piece. “I didn’t hear you,” he said flatly. Harry couldn’t find anything else to say.

“Yes, nobody ever does,” murmured the man. “I can be pretty noiseless.”

Harry looked at him, and for the first time noticed that the man had lot of hair. It looked like a mane. The old man was smiling to him, but his smile was strange, as though he held all the mysteries of the world and would never tell them.

“Pretty noiseless, like silent Apparition requires?” asked Harry forcefully. It wouldn’t have been the first time that the man appeared and disappeared, and Harry thought that he had a quite high possibility that he was right. Even if he hadn’t heard the subtle ‘pop’ that usually accompanied an Apparition.

The old man smiled. “I don’t need to Apparate any more,” he replied calmly.

“I can’t remember your name,” snapped Harry, while he was trying to understand what the man’s words meant.

“I haven’t told you.” The man locked his piercing eyes with Harry, and Harry noticed that they were the colour of honey and gold; they were warm and calm. And Harry didn’t even feel the urge to look away, as he thought he would have.

And then, all of a sudden, Harry felt like his brain was split in two and someone was having a close look at his thoughts. He felt the way he felt when he was having lessons from Snape. He knew the man was using Legilimency on him. Harry staggered and stepped back, scared mostly from the fact that he knew he wasn’t able to block the man out.

“You have to forgive me,” said the man, smiling. “I just wanted to see how far you already were.”

Harry brought his hand to his pocket, where his wand lay, but didn’t take it out. The man was strange, but in some way, he didn’t seem dangerous. “Far from what?” he asked suspiciously.

“You are just like I remember,” sighed the man. “You don’t trust me, do you? Your wife. Your wife was much more trusting than you. Wasn’t she?”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “My wife is too trusting,” he answered. Then his hand flew automatically to his mouth and he stood there frozen. My wife? he thought. What…

“Not quite so far, but you are already at a good point, aren’t you?”

“What are you talking about?” asked Harry. His heart beat furiously in his chest. He had the terrible sensation that that man was referring to him as if he were a cake that was baking in the oven. “Who are you?”

“I’ve already told you that you’ll find out everything when the time is right,” thundered the man, and for a moment he seemed ancient and young at the same time, and he stood in front of Harry like a statue. “And believe me, I always keep my promises. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

Harry felt the urge to scream at him, just as he did with Dumbledore back in his fifth year. He didn’t want to be left so clueless, didn’t want to wait for the right time. He was an adult now. He was ready for some shocking news, like he had been ready for most of his life.

“But what –” His voice died in his throat. The man wasn’t there anymore. Had he been lost in his thoughts so deeply that he hadn't noticed that the man had walked away? Walk away? Let’s say disappear, thought Harry bitterly.

He turned towards the direction he had come from. His parents’ cottage was visible at the end of the main street, and he started to walk back home, wondering just when the time would be right.


Ron climbed up the back stairs of the cottage, slowly and unsurely, as if someone was compelling him to do so. His right hand slid into his pocket and he started to play distractedly with the cup that he was still holding. He had had plenty of time to replace it in the cupboard that day, but the idea of separating from it never even crossed his mind.

Ron opened the back door, and the first thing he heard was a hushed noise coming from the living room, as though someone was moving the pillows on the couch. He walked inside, looking around himself like a small animal in the jungle, afraid to find something dangerous in every corner of the house.

When he entered the living room, Hermione looked at him. At first with a smile on her face, then she looked shocked and then she smiled again, an awkward smile, as though she felt guilty about something.

“Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey,” answered Ron, stepping towards her.

“Ron, listen, I’m sorry about before,” she started, looking everywhere but at him. “I didn’t mean to push you away,” she added, lowering her voice.

Ron didn’t move, nor did he give a sign of wanting to talk or stop her from talking. He hoped he was wearing a firm face, but he was afraid that the heat that he was starting to feel on his cheeks would betray his determination.

Hermione lowered her eyes. She had considered the idea of telling him that when he hugged her earlier, her skin was burning, and it wasn’t from the excitement of being so close to him. But she decided against it, finding it not very romantic or useful at the same time.

“You know, I thought you would have…” Ron’s voice trailed away as he looked at her twisting hands in her lap.

Hermione raised her eyes to him, curious to find out why he stopped. But he just didn’t seem able to find the right words to keep on talking.

“Ron?” she called him, snapping him out of his thoughts.


“What were you saying?” she asked hoarsely. “What did you think I would have done?”

Ron shook his head and smiled sadly. “Nothing, evidently I was wrong.”

“No, tell me,” she pleaded with him. “Please.”

Ron snorted. “I don’t know, Hermione. I thought you would have wanted to… never mind.”

She couldn’t help noticing that his cheeks were turning a nice shade of red, matching his flame-coloured hair perfectly. “No, please. It’s important to me,” she murmured.

“Really? I thought you didn’t give a damn about what I think,” hissed Ron, suddenly venomous.

“You are wrong, then,” she answered softly.

“Sure, little know-it-all,” he said maliciously, and Hermione suspected that he had taken some lessons from Draco by his new tone of voice. “Because you are always right. Well, if you are really interested in what I thought let’s just say that I was sure that you felt something for me. Because I’m pretty sure that I feel something for you, and you can’t even imagine how embarrassing this for me, since evidently you are not feeling the same as I do and –”

Hermione jumped up from the couch, trying frantically to hush Ron without touching him. “How can you say that I don’t feel the same for you?” she asked desperately. How long had she waited for that? How long had she waited for Ron to declare his feelings for her? But in her dreams it didn’t happen this way. In her dreams, Ron would be twisting a lock of his hair, and he would be shy, and Hermione would silence his clumsy declaration of love with a kiss.

And in her mind, there was only his face, not like now. Now it was completely different, as though her dream had changed into a nightmare. He was saying that he loved her, but also that she didn’t love him back. She didn’t have the heart to touch him for fear that her skin would start to crack in a thousand blisters just like before. And her mind wasn’t filled only with thoughts about Ron, there were also thoughts pf Harry, and, strangely enough, of Draco.

“Do you feel the same?” asked Ron mockingly. “When I kissed Lavender last year, she kissed me back. You know it’s what people that like each other usually do. Hug back if they are hugged, and kiss back if they are kissed. And not push the other person away.”

“I didn’t mean to,” replied Hermione, her fists closed at her side. “I swear I didn’t.”

Ron took a step towards her, standing at only a couple of inches from her. “Come on, then,” he whispered, smirking.

Hermione gulped. “Come on what?”

“Come on, hug me, kiss me, I swear that I’ll return whatever you give me,” he said, stretching out an arm towards her.

Hermione looked at his hand, scared; she took a step back, tripped over the coffee table, and fell on the floor, letting out a small cry of surprise and pain.

Ron withdrew his arm and shook his head, and then a red light flashed in his eyes. He didn’t give any indication of wanting to help her. “I bet that if it was Potter that offered you a hand, you wouldn’t have thought twice, would you?”

Hermione gripped the armrest of the couch and stood up, rubbing her back as she did so. “Potter?” she asked shocked. When has Ron ever used Harry’s last name? Never. And why was he suggesting that she wouldn't have refused an offer from their best friend? For a moment, the thought that Draco could have told him something hit her, and she felt an anger that she had never felt before. But, she reasoned with herself, Draco had promised. And for what a Slytherin’s promise was worth, she believed him.

“Yeah, Potter,” hissed Ron, placing his hand in the back pocket of his jeans and moving it up and down as if to caress something. “Do you think that I don’t see you two?”

“Ron, what are you talking about?” she asked, trying to sound surprise, but the crimson of her cheeks betrayed her.

“You are not the only intelligent one here, Hermione,” he snapped.

“Harry and I didn’t –”

“No, I know.” Ron smirked. “But you are just so attracted to each other that only someone out of his mind would not notice it. And I’m starting to think that you are out of your mind, Hermione.”

“I’m starting to think it as well,” she murmured. If Ron, the one that hadn’t noticed her for six years, was telling her that she was attracted to Harry and vice versa, and she didn’t even have a clue about it, then she must have been out of her mind. Liar, she thought bitterly. Liar. It’s not true that I don’t have a clue about it. I can’t stop thinking about Harry.
“What’s the time?”

Hermione raised her eyes on him. The banality of the question was so disarming that for a moment she didn’t know what to answer him. She looked at him, bewildered. “I-I don’t know,” she stammered.

“Okay, well, never mind,” he answered, turning and leaving the living room.

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked behind him, her voice hoarse.

Ron stopped, but didn’t turn. He shrugged slightly. “Why do you care?”


“Just go back to whatever you were doing before I came in here,” he answered simply. And he walked out of the cottage.


When Harry opened the front door of the cottage it was already dark outside, and some of the brightest stars were already shining in the sky. He hurried inside as a cold wind, that would surely bring rain in the following days, started to blow.

It had been an eventful day, awfully long and tiring, and all he would have liked to do was to lie down with Hermione and – He shook his head forcefully. Lie down with Hermione? What’s wrong with me?
He stepped into the living room and found it empty. The lights were on, though, and the coffee table wasn’t in its usual place, as if someone had pushed it away. He walked into the middle of the room and stopped. “Hermione?” he called tentatively.

Nobody answered, but Harry was pretty sure that the house wasn’t empty. He heard two distinct noises, one coming from upstairs, and one from under the floor. Mice, he thought, stomping on the wooden floor of the living room. The noise stopped and Harry walked towards the stairs.

He climbed them and walked towards Hermione’s room. Draco’s room, he reminded himself. And without knocking, he entered.

Draco was lying on the bed, awake; his grey eyes seemed almost dark compared to the pallor of his skin, and they were the biggest things on his face. Harry walked towards him. He was alone, and for a moment, he felt relieved that Hermione wasn’t with him, but then he was disappointed that he had not yet found her.

“What?” asked Draco sourly.

Harry turned to look at him, he hadn’t said anything, nor did he have any intention to do or say something to him. “What – what?” asked Harry back.

“There are quite a lot of whats, Potter,” growled Draco. “What are you doing here, what do you want, what are you looking for – wait, maybe it’s who are you looking for? Anyway, you choose to which answer first.”

“I just passed by, Malfoy, is it so hard for you to understand that maybe someone doesn’t have any motive other than to pay you a visit?” Harry lied to him.

Draco nodded. “Indeed, since it’s you, Potter,” her answered simply.

“Do you say these things to Hermione as well?” he asked abruptly. “I don’t know why she keeps on helping you.”

“She’s the one that's taking care of me,” answered Draco, and luckily, he hadn’t much blood left, otherwise he would have flushed from the way he was talking about her. “I’m not so stupid as to tell her off.”

“So, should I say that you are being gentle with her?” asked Harry raising his eyebrows.

“You should say that I’ve not yet killed her because I need her,” hissed Draco.

“Sure,” answered Harry, unconvinced. “Like you would have killed Dumbledore.”

Draco narrowed his eyes. “I was given the task to kill him, and he’s dead.”

“Yes, but not because of you.”

“If I hadn’t let in the Death Eaters, he wouldn’t have been killed.”

“He would,” answered Harry, and he couldn’t understand why he was trying to prove his innocence. “You didn’t let in Snape.”

“If Snape hadn't killed him, I would have done it myself,” said Draco venomously.

“You wouldn’t,” answered Harry, sitting down on the armchair. He felt that a long discussion was awaiting him.

“How do you know, Potter?” he asked annoyed. “And I don’t even know why everybody assumes that it was Snape who killed Dumbledore, maybe it was me and he’s just trying to protect me and –”

“You've got to be kidding me,” Harry cut him off. “You're telling me that you didn’t notice me running after you down the stairs of the Astronomy Tower?”

Draco looked at him confused. “You – what? How would I have noticed? Snape kept on pushing me forward. I didn’t even have the time to recognise who was lying on the floor.”

“And why would you have noticed if there was someone lying on the floor?” asked Harry suspiciously.

Draco looked away from him. “I didn’t notice, in fact,” he murmured.

Harry sighed. “As I’ve already asked you, Malfoy, didn’t you see me running after you down the stairs of the Astronomy Tower? And now that I’m telling you, aren’t you wondering how I got up there?”

“What are you trying to tell me, Potter? Give me a little help understanding your ramblings, I think the venom has made my brain slower,” hissed Draco.

“I don’t think it’s the venom, Malfoy, but if you want, you can tell yourself that,” said Harry, grinning.

“Let’s say that I’ll try to convince myself not to Avada Kedavra you, Potter,” murmured Draco darkly.

“Now, I’m really scared,” Harry mocked him.

“Do you think that if I scream Granger will run in here and tell you not to excite me? I would love to watch her lecturing the Boy-Who-Lived,” he said, smirking.

“Oh, Malfoy, am I exciting you? That’s gross,” answered Harry, pretending to be disgusted.

“I hate you, Potter,” hissed Draco. “I really do.”

“Sure, sure,” answered Harry, waving a hand in front of him. “So, you asked for a little help, didn’t you? I was on the Astronomy Tower, Malfoy. And I saw everything. It was me that let everybody know that it was Snape who killed Dumbledore.” He stopped and looked at him firmly, wanting to see the moment his words sank into Draco’s head.

Draco’s eyebrows rose, and his eyes widened, making him look like a young boy, much younger than he actually was. “You what? That’s impossible; I didn’t see you. You weren’t there,” he spat forcefully.

“You didn’t see me because I was under my Invisibility Cloak,” explained Harry. He looked away from Draco, out of the window, and saw that the night was getting even darker than before, and that the stars were now hidden by clouds.

“Potter,” Draco called him. “Potter, look at me,” he repeated, when Harry didn’t give any signal to have heard him. “You are telling me that you were under that bloody Invisibility Cloak – where?”

“Where?” asked Harry, looking at him confused.

“Where were you?”

“On the Astronomy Tower, Malfoy. You know, maybe that venom really has–”

“I’ve understood that, Potter. I meant, where were you on the Astronomy Tower?” asked Draco, his voice stiff because of his difficult breathing.

“Near the door. Close to you and Snape,” murmured Harry. If Draco would have been a little bit more trained in recognising a larger range of human emotions, instead of just fear and will of vengeance, he would have understood that it was hurting Harry to talk about that night.

“You were there and you didn’t do anything to stop me?” asked Draco. He rose from the bed and leaned against his elbows, a pained expression crossed his face for a second, before turning back to his usual cold Malfoy-ish face.

“I couldn’t, Malfoy,” muttered Harry. “I couldn’t, although I would have done it. Bloody hell, everybody always tells me that I’ve got this save-the-world-thing, and you seriously think that I wouldn’t have tried to stop you or Snape?”

“But you didn’t.”

“I couldn’t, Dumbledore petrified me,” answered Harry, trying to sound calm.

Draco seemed to think about it, then he said, “And the charm wore off when he died, that’s why you were able to run after us.”

Harry nodded. “You believe me.”

“I can’t see why you would lie. And that would explain the screams I heard,” answered Draco, if possibly he seemed even more greenish and paler than before.

“The screams?”

“People calling your name, but I couldn’t see you. And you were right behind us,” answered Draco. “And so you saw me, didn’t you?” he continued contemptuous. “You saw me hesitate, you saw me stagger and shake when Dumbledore offered his protection to me, didn’t you? Now you’ll think that I’m not even able to be a Death Eater, don’t you? It’s incredible how you have not yet made fun of me – but of course you already made fun of me, with your friends, right?”

Harry looked at him bewildered. Was it possible that Draco’s mentality was so far away from his own, that he couldn’t understand that his reaction to his behaviour was completely different from the one that he was describing at that moment? “Malfoy, you are completely wrong,” he said, shaking his head. “I don’t see things like you do.”

Draco snorted. “Really? There’s only one way to see things, Potter.”

“No, where you see a weakness, I see a strength. Where you see vulnerability, I only see human nature, which isn’t flawless and you –”

“Save your discourses for your followers, Saint Potter,” snapped Draco angrily. “I don’t need them; I don’t need anything from you.”

“I was trying to help, Malfoy,” answered Harry, and he wondered how he could have been stayed so calm through all that dialogue.

“I don’t need your help,” hissed Draco. “I don’t need anybody’s help.”

“You just said that Hermione is helping you, and that you need her. Or maybe…” Harry let his words trail off; he didn’t want to say it aloud.

“Maybe…?” asked Draco, narrowing his eyes.

Harry shook his head and stood up. “It’s late, and I need to find Hermione. She looked tired when I left. Maybe this evening I’ll look after you, instead of her.”

Draco bit his bottom lip, and his hands gripped the covers until his knuckles turned white. “I don’t need you to look after me, Potter.”

“But you need Hermione,” answered Harry bitterly. “I wonder if you are starting to –”

“Don’t,” warned Draco. “Don’t even dare to finish that sentence, Potter.”

Harry shrugged slightly. “See you later, Malfoy.”


Hermione looked blankly in front of her. There was something extremely unfair about what she was going through. Something unfair in her life. In her love life, she would have specified, if she wasn’t afraid she'd blush. The light in the bedroom wasn’t dim enough, and he would have surely seen her.

For six years, she had gone on thinking every single moment of her life about Ron. Of course, maybe half of the time she thought that she wanted to kill him, and the other half that he was really annoying. But somewhere in her heart she knew that she felt something for him. And now that Ron had seemed to realise that he felt the same way towards her, she wasn’t even able to touch him.

She shook her head, and for a moment, she felt like she wasn’t paying enough attention to what was happening to her. It wasn’t normal that she couldn’t touch Ron, but she wasn’t even trying to understand why that had happened. And Harry wasn’t helping.

She smiled without noticing. Harry. And it wasn’t normal that she felt something for him as well. For six years, he had been no more than a close friend for her, something like a brother. The brother that she had never had, while she hoped to be the sister that he had never had the chance to have. And now, all of a sudden, she found herself inexplicably attracted to him, and it was something much more intense than just physical attraction and friendship. She knew that it was love, and it was driving her insane.

“What are you smiling for?”

She looked at Draco and blushed. He was looking back at her with narrowed eyes that were shining into the semi-obscurity of the room. On the bedside table near his head, an empty bottle was glowing in the dark from the remains of the potion it had contained; another healing potion that she tried on him and that had the interesting characteristic of glowing in the darkness. Behind it, there was also another thing that was shining: the dead plant in the vase near the bed. But Hermione was sure that it was just mirroring the brightness of the bottle.

She didn’t answer Draco. Draco. Naturally, there was him. She felt so ashamed when she thought about him in a way different from the usual hate that she had felt for the past years, that now she was trying to block him out of her mind. But it wasn’t easy. She had to take care of him, and that was one of the reasons he was always in her thoughts. The other reason was that she was starting to believe that his eyes were looking at her with less hate and contempt than just a day before.

Draco turned his face away from her, muttering a sentence that contained ‘stupid’ and ‘girl’. Hermione sighed. She didn’t know why she had almost fought with Harry for another night on the armchair in Draco’s company, but she had won and now she was there. She sank into the armchair and pillowed her head with her arm, closing her eyes. She could hear Draco’s breathing, soft and stiff, until she fell asleep and no sound reached her ears anymore.


Hermione murmured something in her sleep and moved slightly. Resting her head on the armrest, she could feel a pillow under her cheek. It was strange, since she didn’t remember that she had a pillow when she had laid down. A pale ray of sun reached her closed eyes, and she covered her face with the cover that rested on her chest. She didn’t remember having a cover, either.

She was on her side and when she moved to make herself more comfortable, she understood that she wasn’t on the armchair any more. Now she was lying on something much cosier and longer. And the movement caused her to feel that something was resting on her stomach as well. She slid her hand down and placed it over the thing touching her.

When another hand enlaced its fingers with her own, her eyes flew open and she turned slowly towards the figure that was lying behind her. She let out a strangled cry when she spotted the boy that was lying there with her.

And then she threw herself on the floor, bringing the cover with her and waking up the boy.

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