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Draco stood in the middle of the living room hearing the front door close. It was the loudest echo he had heard in his life. It hurt his heart more than his ears. She was safe then? Safe from the malicious intents of the Deatheaters? Safe from her death? The pain was a blunt ache, a sharp twinge- all at one time.

He had saved her! He had hurt her to save her! And for some reason, his brain screamed that he should be happy, but something in his chest hurt more than he could ever imagine. Hermione was gone. She was never coming back. And she told him those three words…that beautiful declaration he knew would haunt him, for the rest of his existence.

I love you.

Damn it! It was just a phrase that people said when their hormones were raging! Hermione had just said that to make him stay! Hermione needed the human company! Of what comparison was he to the boy who lived anyway! What! She just wanted him to stay!

And Draco felt something slither down his cheek. And he didn’t want to acknowledge it at all. He just didn’t want to. The gauntlet had been thrown, and he would rather hurt Hermione herself than see them do it, he would rather hurt her than see her die.

This was his choice.

This was his fate.

This was his private hell.

I love you, Hermione.

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Ginny was biting her lower lip as she hunched over a piece of empty parchment, wondering what to write. Her four hour deadline to write an article was nearing, and still her parchment remained spotless as ever. She frowned. What was there to say? This was something big, and as a feature writer, she had to choose her words carefully….besides, her mum had warned her…

She thought about Draco and Hermione. And she wondered if they were meant to weather through it all. She loved Hermione, and like Ron and the rest of them, had wanted her happy. Harry’s death had been fairly hard on Hermione’s emotions…and now…to hear this happen to Draco…she had actually thought that this was probably the new guy for Hermione, someone that wasn’t like Harry, someone who didn’t seem like Harry… she thought they would last…

She sighed and bit into her Caramel Quill, Fred and George’s answer to the Sugar Quill that Zonko’s- was it Zonko’s?- had. They came in four flavors as of the moment. Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, being the other three, plus, her brothers added, “they bring out the writer in you!”.

Ginny frowned again, and found a ‘few’ sentences in her head to start.

*
“ A New Generation?”

Ginevra Molly Weasley

In the light of the recent events of ‘dark activity’ all across England, Scotland and Ireland, one has to consider what is behind this- or who?

Could it be some young wizards, plaguing the wizarding populace with their love of larking about; with antics that could hurt and even kill? Perhaps with nothing better left to do and with a lack of supreme unoriginality, they used the name of the Deatheaters- as the quickest way to notoriety?

Or could it be, what the wizarding population has feared to mention freely, could it be what we have all been talking about in whispers? Yes, the rumors spread like wildfire.

A new generation of Deatheaters.

Deatheaters.

The word stirs the beginnings of fear in the wizard populace, much like the mere mentioning of he-who-must-not-be-named. What had begun as a series of little attacks in far flung muggle villages with few wizard inhabitants has now escalated to something considered to be of a greater threat to not only the wizard society, but to the unknowing muggle population as well….
*

Ginny smiled. The Caramel Quill was working perfectly, just as Fred and George said it would.

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“….the resurgence of he-who-must-not-be-named through these so called new generation of Deatheaters is quite promising, and they leave it just as that. “

Blaise finished reading Ginny Weasley’s article and then he threw the Daily Prophet on the floor angrily. His jaw clenched tightly as he stared at the paper in loathing. How dare she say, or rather insinuate that they were copycats to the previous Deatheaters! Nothing was old and nothing was new! They still stuck to the Dark Lord like adhesives! How dare she say that!

That bratty red-headed columnist was in for it… only later. He still had many other things to think about. Like Draco. And he wondered when Draco would come. What had he told Draco back there? No bother. Draco knew where he lived.

And in his fireplace, he saw a flicker of green. A second later, in full color, Draco Malfoy was standing in the middle of his trophy room.

Draco was quiet for a moment, as if culture-shocked by the trophy room that housed the strangest animals. Stuffed heads of….a dragon, something that looked like that hippogriff that bit him…a ten foot in width spider….three muggle heads most likely. Although Draco had seen it all, it had been what? Six years since he had last visited this place? The last husband Blaise’s mother ever had, and the longest that had lived. Blaise’s eighth stepfather, pureblood of course and filthy rich. Old wizard and rich. He had lived comfortably throughout his life. Never had to work a day in his life.

“ Glad you could come, “ Blaise beckoned him to sit across him on a crimson silky chair. “ I was hoping you would…or rather expecting you would. “

“ I couldn’t miss this for the world, “ Draco replied deprecatingly.

Blaise gave a hearty laugh. “ Ah Draco, Draco, Draco. Such passion…all for the resurrection of the Dark- “

“ I’d like to see my mother, “ he interrupted.

Blaise raised an eyebrow. “ See her you shall, “ he said. He called for a house elf that came panting to him and gave the elf an order. A full minute later, Draco finally saw his mother.

Draco stood up as he heard his mother strangle a sob. He looked at her for a moment; searching for physical signs of abuse and neglect…she was well taken care of. Blaise had been true to his word.

Narcissa gasped and stared at her son and in less than a heartbeat, ran to him to embrace him tightly. “ Draco! Oh dear god, Draco! “ She never wanted to be apart from her son again! To see him alright…and she never cared if she died, only for Draco to be alive and alright!

Draco buried his face in his mother’s luxurious golden hair. He smelled a faint scent of lavender in her hair, a complete assurance that she had been taken care of. At that moment, he knew he had never been this eased, this happier. He stepped back form her embrace, holding her shoulders with both of his hands. He looked at her again, and saw distress in her eyes. He wanted it to go away. Certainly she had heard of the news? Of him pathetically collapsing and being whisked away to a different muggle hospital again?

“ Mum, “ he finally breathed out, glad he could say those words to her once more. “ How- how are you? “

She nodded, and Draco saw tears fall down her face. “ Can we- go home? “ she asked holding his hand tightly, wanting protection, wanting his assurance.

Draco nodded. “ We will. “ And Draco gave Blaise a hard stare.

The message was unmistakable in Draco’s eyes, and Blaise knew he would be back to fulfill his word to him and the rest of the Deatheaters. He had yet to meet them anyway. Let him wallow in his mother’s presence for now, you know he won’t go far. Hermione’s still within our reach…

Blaise lifted his chin up to signal a ‘yes’ to him. And he watched wordlessly as Draco stepped into the large fireplace, along with his mother, to return home.

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Narcissa shakily held a cup of strong tea (with a little bit of fire whisky) in her hands, and Draco saw and knew she was still afraid. Some dread had risen in her again, like his father was alive again, like Voldemort was after him again.

“ Mum, “ he held her hands kindly and placed the cup of tea on a table beside her as he half knelt

over her. “ Stop that, please. It’s okay now. You’re safe. “

Narcissa looked up to him and smiled, well tried to smile, courageously. “ Nothing, I’m just- trying to regain my nerves of steel again- nerves of a Black…” And she gave an unsteady laugh as Draco sighed. She eyed Draco as she looked at her blue eyes. His eyes were so painfully like his father’s! Only; warmth was in Draco’s eyes and not frostiness.

“ Mum, it’s okay, “ he said again.

She gulped. “ Did you- did you trade yourself to them to get me out of there? “ she finally asked, afraid her voice would shake too much, like her hands. “ He said you were sent to some muggle hospital? “

Draco sighed and stood up. “ Mum, that’s not really- “

“ Important? Needed? Draco Black Malfoy, you tell me what happened between you and Blaise Zabini right now! “

His mother had used his full name. She meant trouble and would never stop nipping at his heels unless he told her the truth. He sighed again and walked over to the fireplace, willing himself to tell the truth…well could he? Narcissa might….no- he can’t- but this was his mother…she had to be safe…did she have to know!

“ Mum, “ he took a deep breath. “ I wanted you safe. Blaise kept his word, now I have to keep my word to him- “

“ And what was that? “ she interrupted, fearing for the worst.

“ I’m going to work with them again, “ he chose his words cautiously. “ I don’t want them to do that to you again- “

“ Be like your father again? Be under the Dark Lord’s arm again! “ she looked terrified and had gone pale, and Draco was afraid she would faint at any moment. “ Oh Merlin! Draco- why! You didn’t have to! If I had only known- I would’ve- oh Draco! “

“ Mum, “ Draco said, placing a hand on her shoulder. “ Please, what’s done is done. You know I’d do anything to protect you. You’re the only one I have left. “ It’s true. I can’t forgive myself if anything happened to you. They’ll never do that again…and Hermione…if you only knew mum…I can’t see her harmed too…because of me…and the stupid horcrux…I have to find a way…without placing the others in jeopardy…

“ But still! Draco- he almost killed you before! I can’t bear to see that happen again! Why, Draco? Why! Oh, Draco! “ she cried as she stood up and hugged her son tightly, even tighter than when she had seen Draco at the Zabini manor less than an hour ago. “ You know I can’t lose you! Not anymore! Even though- even though your father wasn’t such a kind man- I still loved him Draco, and that even when I heard that he had died- I still cried, I was still hurt, because I loved your father still! And how much more you, Draco? “

Draco sighed and embraced his mother once more. “ Mum, it’ll be fine. You know it will be fine. We’ve gone through worse, you know that. And still you pulled through. Still, we pulled through. “

Narcissa sank into a couch behind her and shook her head tiredly. “ Draco, you were at the hospital, why? What happened there? “

Draco looked down the carpet and sat across her. “ Mum- I had chest pains, that’s all. They kept me at the hospital for observation for a few hours. The doctors said nothing was wrong with my EKG nor were there any other abnormalities or malfunctions with- with my heart. I knew I was tired, I hadn’t been sleeping well anyway, and it was just stress, mum. “

Narcissa shook her head. “ Stress? You’re not lying again, are you? “

“ No, mum. “ Draco sighed again, not looking at her eyes. “ I have been in a hospital. I’ve experienced chest pains. “

“ Was this girl- Hermione Granger, there with you? “

Draco looked at his mother slowly. “ What does she have to do with all this? “ He frowned and looked at the carpet again, and then the roaring fire.

Narcissa smiled a little, for the first time in what seemed like years. “ Maybe it was a heartache out of-? Tell me Draco, did anything happen between you and her that gave you those chest pains? “

Draco’s eyebrows shot up. “ Mum! Please…it’s not like it was a serious relationship or anything. It was because of work, that’s all, alright?“ Draco shifted one foot uncomfortably and cleared his throat. “ Hermione’s the past now, mum. It’s over. “

“ You ended it? “

“ I had to, mum. “

“ Why? “

“ Can we not talk about this, please? “ Draco sighed as he sipped the last of his fire whisky tea. There was the tinkering of china against silverware as he placed his cup down.

Narcissa nodded and said nothing. But there was a hint of some smile on her scarlet lips. Of course, she did not know the happenings between them, but she had never seen her son more enamored of any other girl besides this Hermione Granger…someone she might have seen, but had forgotten. After all, her son was a very private person…but she had to know someday.

“ Darling, “ Narcissa began after a lengthy silence.

“ Hmm? “ Draco looked up to her and gave a strained smile.

“ Don’t let love pass you by, “ she said with a wistful smile.

Draco felt his ears go red. “ Mum! Wait a minute…where have I heard that before? “

Finally, Narcissa eased up and laughed.

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It was past six in the evening.

Hermione wandered alone in the streets of London’s fashionable district, letting her mind float off to avoid the bad things that had happened earlier take the best of her. A good distraction was the best thing to have, a best defense against a painful incident. As she did her walking, Hermione suddenly stopped abruptly.

“ Miss Granger! “

Hermione’s eyebrows shot up in surprise and recognition. “ Alice! Mrs. Alice! “

Alice kissed Hermione’s cheek surprisingly. “ Dear, it’s so good to see you. Have you- have you seen Sir Malfoy lately? “

Hermione took a deep breath and shook her head. “ He- he said he wanted to be alone, Mrs. Alice. “

Alice ‘tsked’ and shook her head. “ He’s a rather stubborn boy. Why, he didn’t last two days in that hospital! He went straight back to work, and it was only because of my insistence that he had gone home today! “

Hermione nodded, the painful words Draco had let go suddenly flooded back to her like a dam that had broken forth. She gulped a little. She tried to find something to say. “ Well…I hope he’s fine now. “

“ Oh he will be. Give him a visit, eh? “ Alice nudged her elbow a little in the air.

Hermione gave a genial smile. “ We’ll see. I- I have to go Mrs. Alice. Excuse me. “

And she said her goodbyes and walked quickly away from the nice lady. Even the mere presence of Alice! Even just someone who worked for Draco! She shook her head and hugged her coat around her body tighter than ever. Ward off everything, the stupid things that had happened, the cold, just everything!

She couldn’t believe she had said those words to Draco. Three words she had only said to one other person before. Three words for Harry…now three words for Draco…. But he had rejected it. And agonizingly at that. And she knew it was true, and that she had been too honest for her own good. If she had only kept it. Then maybe the hurt wouldn’t be so bad…but to actually hear Draco reject her…

Hermione felt a tear escape the corner of her eye.

She had to work.

Work overtime.

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“ Ginevra Molly Weasley! “ Ron bellowed in their pad two days later.

“ What? “ Ginny looked up innocently, skimming through the television channels with a black remote control in one hand.

“ I was busy earlier, so I couldn’t have the pleasure to get a hold of your ears! What the hell is this? “ Ron held up an article from the Daily Prophet. Her article.

“ Oh? That? “ Ginny smiled. “ Fred and George’s Caramel Quill worked wonders! You should really try it you know- “

“ No! Stop playing innocent with me! Mum’s going to have a fit once she reads this!

“ Well, she hasn’t yet, so keep your bloody fingers crossed. “

“ Ginny! “

“ Ron, it’s not like it’s an all out war against them! I didn’t establish them as Deatheaters! It was just a probability! I’m a feature writer, I write to entertain and make people think! Those aren’t straight- laced facts you know. “

“ You should quit this job- your outspokenness will get the better of you soon, “ Ron growled as he tossed the paper on the couch beside Ginny. “ We’re adjusting marvelously well to the muggle life, get a job as a gossip columnist at Hermione’s magazine for crying out loud! “

Ginny grinned. “I have you guys to protect me! “

“ Ginny! “

“ Oh come on, Ron, give it a break! The Daily Prophet’s circulations go off the roof every time we write something about these sorts of unknown Deatheaters. And it’s not like I’m pointing fingers at anyone now, am I? I don’t see any name there like Zabini’s, or Goyle’s- or Malfoy’s!“ Ginny gave a laugh.

“ It’s just that- “ Ron stopped in his tracks. Something had just hit him like a lightning bolt. The possibility couldn’t be ignored now, could it? It was not entirely impossible! It wasn’t! Slim chances were still chances…

“ Ron? “ Ginny looked at him quizzically. “ Something the matter? “

Ron shook his head and gave a smile. “ Nothing. I’ll get back at you later. “

Ginny stared as her brother bolted for their living room.

“ Where’s the floo powder? “ he asked.

“ Aren’t you supposed to be off duty? “ Ginny asked with an incredulous look on her face now. “ I was kidding about the whole thing, you’re not mad are you? “

Ron shook his head distractedly, grabbing a handful of floo powder from a container near a side table. “ No- not at all…Gin…I’ll be gone for awhile- watch over the flat will you? “

“ Ron- “

Just as Ron stepped into the fireplace that had magically expanded, an owl came swooshing through a window from the living room.

Ginny took the letter and read it. Her eyes widened. “ Ron! “ she said in a shocked voice.

Ron’s heart pounded, fearing it was terrible news. “ What? “ he asked, his eyes widening as well. “ What is it? “

“ It’s from mum, “ Ginny’s voice faltered.

Ron stepped away from the fireplace and in two strides, reached Ginny. “ What’s wrong? “

Ginny squealed happily all of a sudden. “ Fleur! Fleur’s in labor! At St. Mungo’s! We have to go, now! “

Ron looked dumbfounded for a moment, and then he laughed and took the jar full of floo powder to Ginny. “ After you! “

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TBC?

A/N: I hope you guys liked this chapter. I thought it best to insert a light moment, Fleur's labor and all. It is quite hard to characterize a lot of characters, you know. I don't think i will be uploading the next chapters soon though, cause i'm a bit upset that no one likes this story much.

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