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A/N: It's been a great ride you know (both in the fanfic life and the real life), but here, in this story, i've reached the 18th chapter in this story. Now before you go on reading, i'd like to request one thing from you. And that is to read this chapter and feel it with all your heart.

i am a bit upset on the outcome of my story...i'm afraid it's not been received well enough here...but anyway, i still won't fail you! I've got nothing better to do but please you dear readers, anyway. So enjoy for me and enjoy for yourselves:) Oh yeah, i was inspired by Playground Love (Air) for the dark stuff in this chapter. They're geniuses.

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It was dark; dust was collecting on the top of the shelves, a myriad of cobwebs forming at the corners of the ceilings. Someone sniffed as he took out an old looking key, unlocking the door with a little grunt. He was alone for a moment, as his eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room.

He eyed the grandfather clock, its pendulum swinging endlessly. Five in the morning, so he had been early….what else was new? Staying at his flat was boring. He preferred the comfort here. The thin looking man with sandy brown hair stepped into the counter, his wand placed within reach as he took care in closing the counter entrance.

Nearby, a table glowed with an old crystal ball, its base was chipped. He stared at it for awhile, willing it to work, since no had bought it in years, well according to the now deceased owner of Borgin and Burkes. He had left a will, contested by many who aspired to own the store, but he had won it in the end, by lady luck and genetics.

His uncle, thrice removed from his mother’s side, yep, Mr. Borgin had proven useful indeed. His death, that was. So there he was, early in the morning and alone, when there was a knock on the door. He walked for the entrance and saw a hooded man outside.

“ Still closed, “ he mouthed.

The man rapped impatiently again, using a gloved hand. The store owner could see through the dusty glass that the glove he wore was made out of dragon-hide.

“ Closed, you bugger! “ he shouted at the man. “ Bloody hell! Can’t you read the sign at the front! It says C-L-O-S-E-! “ He stopped. “ Open! Welcome! Welcome to Borgin and Burkes! What can I do for you? Looking for someone to hex? Place a little something to guard your treasures? “ He gave a ready smile, a nervous one at that.

“ Why, how accommodating, “ the man sneered.

“ Of course, anything for a customer, “ the new owner replied. “ Now, what can I do for you, sir? Got anything precise in mind? “

“ Nothing, nothing in mind…just…just browsing. So what do you have to show off? Last I heard, this place was going to Gringott’s- “ the man began stroking his chin.

“ Gringott’s? No! There’ll be hell to pay! This establishment still lives to serve customers with the likes of you! “

“ Early customers? “

“ Especially early customers! “ he said in a most fervent voice.

“ Really now? “

And he spun around, careful to tuck his wand in the folds of his robe as he searched for objects that might catch his ‘early customer’s’ desires. He blew some dust off something and he blew some more dust as he gave a few coughs here and there. He had assembled a most intriguing array of instruments, ranging from a rolling eyeball inside some weird metal casing (that can find objects in hard to reach places, especially dark places!), to a large scabbard that held a rusty sword (authentic pirate’s sword that keeps in the ghosts of those you kill!), to a pair of earrings (your woman will never be the same after she wears this! A great way to get rid of her!) And to some thing that almost looked like your typical pen (but it actually writes in blood!).

The man eyed the instruments lain before him and he gave a hearty snicker. “ You expect me to purchase any of these childish contraptions? Good god, man! Gringott’s was better off at closing this boutique. “

“ Well, if the good lord may be specific so I may acquiesce- “

“ Just show me everything you have that you think may interest me, “ he said calmly.

“ Well, m’lord, “ he began.

“ What? “

“ Nothing, sir. “ And he shook his head, buried in thoughts of wanting to squish his first customer of the day into a pile of dragon dung, if only he could- the bloody man was as arrogant as arrogant got! He rummaged further into the old drawers, finding a boggart in one, and a few bats in one cabinet. They screeched and flew around the store’s premises before settling into some cabinet in the far corner of the store, away from his reach. He growled, wondering why the hell the man was making him nervous! It was only a customer- only…he frowned and took out some more trinkets that any dark wizard could have liked, but the man snubbed them all completely, and in silence. Was there no contentment to this bastard!

“ Will you be wanting something for your lady love, sir? “ he asked. “ Yes siree! Look at what I’ve got here! A lovely pair of shackles! Bind your lady love to yourself forever-! Well- until you’d want to, that is…No? Well…we’ve got more things here to your delight I’m fecking sure! Ah! Here! We have a- another pen! This time one that writes in the bile of your enemy! Well, you’d have to kill first, of course, but it never goes dry! Not that either, huh? “

He scratched his head, suddenly wondering if he had taken a bath properly; his head was itching a lot this morning. He heard the customer’s footing shift, and he knew the customer was now browsing through his items. He stopped in front of an old cabinet and pointed at something.

“ This one, “ he began. “ I like this. “

He frowned a little, and wanted to say ‘are you sure?’, but shut his mouth instead, still maintaining a quizzical look on his face; though. He opened the cabinet and reached for the item, a mere child’s toy to him!

“ Yes, “ the man murmured. “ I like that. “

“ Well, will you be wanting to have it wrapped sir? “ he asked in a hollow voice.

“ No, “ the customer replied. “ As a matter of a fact, I’ve got something else in mind. Another task- another object I’d like you to find for me, if you don’t mind? “

“ Of course I don’t mind, sir! A good store always caters to the needs of- “

“ Spare me the bullshit. "

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Draco closed the files on his table and turned off his laptop. It had been a long, long day. It was past ten in the evening and there was a knock on the door.

“ Sir? “

He looked up. “ Alice. I thought you went home an hour ago. “

“ Just finished a few files, sir. “ Alice stepped forward. “ Will you be staying late again, sir? “

Draco shrugged. “ I don’t really know. “

“ Coffee then? “

He nodded and sat on his swivel chair as Alice went out. A minute later, she came back in, carrying a mug of coffee.

“ Thank you Alice, you’re a life saver. “

She laughed gaily. “ Ah- is that so? Well being your life saver, I suggest you go home and get a good night’s sleep. “

He smiled.” Will do. Just have to finish a few things- did you plan out my schedule for tomorrow? I don’t have to fly out to Italy, do I? For tomorrow afternoon? “

She shook her head. “ You cancelled this meeting a few days ago. Our Italian investors are getting quite impatient. “

He sighed. “ Fine, is- “

“ Your ticket ready? Done. “

“ Thank you. “

“ Good night, sir. “

He smiled and bid her goodnight. As soon as she was gone, Draco heard the stillness of the room ringing in his ears. He shook his head and finally decided he had enough of reading the reports.

He took a big gulp of his coffee and looked out of the large windows of his office. The city lights glowed and he thought he could almost hear the entire city laughing, like it had some huge party going on.

He wondered what Hermione was doing. And then he heard a sudden roar of fire. He spun around, cursing himself for not bringing along his wand. He stared at the figure standing inside his fireplace.

“ Hello Draco. “

Draco felt his jaw clench. What the bloody hell-?

“ Not happy to see me again, are you? “

Draco didn’t say anything.

“ Well…your mother wasn’t so happy to see me, either. “

And that was when Draco reacted. “ You son-of-a- what the hell did you do to her? “

“ Invited her for a long vacation, of course. I could say she looked shocked when I told her she needed one. “

“ You- “

“ You know that asking me to let her go won’t work. “

“ What do you want? “

The man laughed. “ Damn it Draco. You’re so business-like now, aren’t you? The influences muggles can do- “

“ What do you want? “ His voice was raised this time, more authoritative.

“ You know very well what I want. I want you. “

Draco frowned and tried to keep calm. “ You want me? And in order to release my mother I have to work for you? “ His jaw clenched and so did his palms.

“ Not work for me or us, “ he corrected. “ Work with us. “

Draco said nothing. Instead he went to a cabinet and took out a decanter of burgundy. He poured it into two glasses and handed one to the ‘visitor’.

The man took a sip. “ Ah…France. This was a good year…but it still doesn’t beat elfin ale…the ones they make in- “ he stopped, seeing Draco’s stoic face. “ Come on man, liven up! “

Still Draco said nothing. Instead he took a sip from his own glass and stared at the man across him, seated comfortably and calmly.

“ Your mother’s quite the aggressive one, isn’t she? Her chin’s lifted up all the time- well it reminds me of the Hogwarts days…when your mother kept that perpetually snooty look…mother had said Narcissa Malfoy was not a woman to be messed around with, “ he laughed.

“ What are your terms? “ Draco finally interrupted.

“ We don’t kill your mother, if you work with us. “

Draco raised an eyebrow. “ So what if I work with you? “

“ Well, naturally, Narcissa goes unharmed. The terms are simple. And I’m sure it will be safe to tell you all this. You remember the horcruxes Dumbledore had sought out to find? To destroy? The seven were destroyed, but…we have the last remaining artifact; the last horcrux our Dark Lord had made hidden from those who thought they knew it all, before he suffered his physical death. Dumbledore may have destroyed the seven of them along with Harry, along with you and the rest of the motley crew…but one still exists. And we have it. I have it. The eighth horcrux. Do you know what it is? Well…who, perhaps… “ He looked at Draco’s eyes, and he knew that Draco was listening intently. He had all of Draco’s attention now.

“ Harry Potter. “

Draco felt the word rush into his ears. Harry Potter. Harry Potter. Harry Potter. The man was playing games with him! The bloody arse was twisting him around! The son of a-! Harry Potter was dead! It was the most wretched stratagem to resurrect a dead dark wizard, through some dead-

“ He’s dead, “ Draco snapped. “ What use are your threats when I could just- “

“ He’s in you. “

Draco froze. His eyes narrowed. “ What? I don’t know what you’re- “

“ You perfectly know what I’m talking about. You have the last thing that we want. The last thing that will make him live again. He lives in you now. You have Harry Potter’s heart; therefore, you… are the eighth horcrux. “

And Blaise Zabini smiled.

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Hermione snapped awake. It was past eleven in the evening, and she had gone to bed less than an hour ago. Her heart was pounding for some unknown reason. Did she have a dream? Or… some nightmare? Was it a premonition?

The trouble with having been reared in two different worlds, leading two different lives, was that there was a gap between both, affecting one’s reality perception. Sometimes she couldn’t differentiate fate from her own decisions. Practicality had to rule, but destiny was also a matter she couldn’t avoid. Mysticism entangled in the simplicity of a human belief that you made your own destiny. This was how she lived.

And she couldn’t differentiate her emotions now. Had she only had heightened emotions? Or did she have a dream that was screaming out to tell her something? And a sudden thought came into her head. Draco.

She stood up from her bed and looked at the clock. She shook her head. She couldn’t sleep easily again, she knew it. And by impulse, she reached for her cellular phone and dialed Draco’s cellular phone number.

It kept ringing, until she decided to put the phone down. And that was when a voice came on the other line.

“ Yes, “ Draco said harshly.

“ I- “

“ Hermione? What are you doing awake? Aren’t you supposed to be asleep by now? “ he asked suddenly, his voice changing into a softer tone.

“ I woke up- and- I don’t know. I guess I kind of missed you or something like that. “

She heard Draco breathe and then he gave a short laugh.

“ Hermione, get some rest. You need it. “

“ You’re not mad about that thing that happened earlier today? The whole PMS thing? “ she asked sucking in her breath.

He sighed. “ Hermione, that’s natural. I don’t really mind. “

“ Well…whatever. “ She could feel her face going red, despite the fact that she was alone and that Draco was miles away. She thought she could hear him suppress laughter.

“ Good night, Hermione. “

“ You’re busy? “ she asked.

“ A little, just- just paperwork. Listen, I’m flying out to Italy tomorrow, so….just sleep okay? “

She sucked her breath in. Italy? “ Will you be gone long? “ she asked. She wanted to slap herself for being so inquisitive. What the hell was wrong with her? Italy was kind of far away…wasn’t it? And it’s not like he wasn’t coming back…

“ No, I don’t think so. I’ll call you before I leave. Good night. “

“ Night, “ she finally said resignedly. And she heard a click on the other line and she knew Draco had ended the call. Somehow, it disturbed her.

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Draco placed his phone down and looked again at the person in front of him. The man smiled at him and tapped a finger on his elegant oak table.

“ Ah…the plot thickens. Not only do you have to ensure your mother’s safety… but that of your mudblood flame as well? “

Draco’s eyes flickered. “ She is not your concern. She works as a columnist for a fashion magazine for Merlin’s sake. “

“ But still…” Blaise looked at his eyes. Draco’s eyes showed nothing but arrogance and defiance.

“ Wasn’t…wasn’t this Granger…Harry Potter’s girlfriend, or something like that? “ He gave a morbid laugh. “ Damn, damn, damn. Not only do you have the eight horcrux because you have Potter’s heart, you also have his girl now? Bravo! “ And Blaise applauded him mockingly. “ Draco, Draco! You are by far, the most ambitious wizard to date! “

“ How- how did you know? “ Draco finally found himself asking.

Blaise stood up and paced around, thoughtfully stroking his chin. “ Hmm…let’s see…you and your mother had so tried to keep it a secret…you had a check-up at St. Mungo’s once. They told you it was impossible to do something about it. A field of the Wizard healing that was still imperfect. You and your mother were desperate…rumors circled around that someone from an affluent family was ill. Your last option was to work with muggles. Some hospital off- wherever that was. Harry Potter died in an accident the same day you were dying. Weasley tried to keep it a secret of course but secrets come out one way or another, Harry had become your benefactor. You needed a heart- and what better heart than that of the courageous Harry Potter! “

Draco didn’t utter a thing. Instead he took another sip of his wine. He held the wine glass in one hand and stared at the red liquid dancing inside the glass.

“ Ah…muggles…no wonder muggle doctors feel like they’re gods. They’ve given you a new life, with the help of some of the wizard blood traitors. The Ministry had kept our Dark Lord’s objects under heavy guard, all of it, all of the things he had placed parts of his soul in. But there was one thing the ministry overlooked, the Master had mentioned placing something special inside someone, for he knew death would look at him straight in the eye the night he tried to kill Harry and the night he murdered Harry’s parents. He had implicitly expressed it to Snape- the closest to him from all of his death eaters. Snape took mention of this in his journal- a journal we found when he had been killed in action a few years back, along with the Master, in his old, rickety muggle home. You are the eighth horcrux; you are the key to Lord Voldemort’s resurrection. “ Blaise looked at the very unruffled Draco seated across him. He raised an eyebrow, out of frustration. “ Bloody arse! Say something will you, you arrogant- “

“ Should I be flattered that you need me that much? “ Draco finally interjected.

Blaise raised an eyebrow. “ Well, you should be. This is your chance. Think of it as a form of penitence for betraying Lord Voldemort…and a way to save your mother…and prevent Hermione Granger’s premature demise. “

“ Leave them out of this. You didn’t have to snatch my mother- “

“ Well, we were quite sure you needed more persuasion, and what perfect use your mother is now…perhaps Hermione- “

“ Enough! “ Draco said standing up. “ Get out of my office. “

Blaise stood up and walked for the fireplace again. Before walking into it, he turned to face Draco again. “ I’ll see you maybe tomorrow. I’ll know your response then? Although I know where this is leading…” He took off his tall hat. “ Good evening again, Draco Malfoy. “

Draco had almost felt goose bumps crawl up his skin as Blaise had said his family name with such malice.

Draco stared as a green burst of flame and smoke engulfed Blaise. A few seconds later, the fireplace was empty once more. He sank into his chair again. Twice the offer had been made, twice he had rejected it. And he knew Blaise was right. All that Blaise needed to hear was the approval to actually come out from his mouth; all he needed was Draco’s word of honor. Would he really? Or should he…ask Ron and the rest of the Aurors for help? And Hermione…Damn it! Not her too! Draco knew that they wouldn’t kill his mother just yet, but to be sure…he shook his head. He couldn’t ask for help!

Suddenly his organized mind went all cluttered. He couldn’t think straight, his thoughts kept bouncing. Hermione. His mother. Him being the eight horcrux! Oh god! He was a walking horcrux! A fragment of Lord Voldemort’s soul in him! Harry had been a horcrux and he had no idea! No wonder Harry had suffered greatly after defeating Voldemort, he had been in coma for almost a month, and not a single one had any idea that there was an eighth horcrux! A covert one! Hadn’t he felt any sort of connection to this before? He had seen artifacts held by Lord Voldemort himself, items Voldemort had cherished long after his death, after he had received Harry’s heart, and he hadn’t felt a thing! He didn’t feel the hurt Harry had felt, little pains on his scar, little aches on his chest, nothing! Nothing at all!

Was it fate then? That he should receive Harry’s heart with a horcrux? He was dying back then- he didn’t have a choice! And now-! Now, he was going to suffer because of having it, because of being so desperate to live!

He buried his face in his hands as his elbows rested on his desk. This was it. He didn’t need Ron’s warning not to see Hermione anymore. He would never have to see her again. She had to be safe. Damn it! She had to be!

And Draco felt his chest ache slowly, until the ache was almost excruciating. He clutched his chest and tried to reach for the phone a few inches from his grasp.

He leaned forward and collapsed on the cold marble floor.

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A/N: The term "Horcrux" is used to refer to any "object" in which a person has concealed a part of his or her soul. This has been the turning point of this story. This will still be a long ride (well sort of), and i hope i get more reviews...*rubs hands in evil manner* You can suggest things or flame me constructively if you want. hehe.

and to all the readers out there who still take the time to read, thank you so much! Just a question, are there any males reading this story, or HP fiction for that matter?



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