“No mum, there has been no change,” Hermione said down the phone, “yes I know it’s been two weeks but I can’t do their job for them can I?”

“Well can’t they do some magic thing to make the hallucinations go away?”

“No, nothings worked but they think it might be starting to wear off.”

“Well then there has been a change hasn’t there!” 

“Not since yesterday when you asked, mum seriously I need to go I’m going to be late for work.”

“Call me if you hear anything.” 

“I will mum,” Hermione said, “just like I have said I will every single time we are on the phone.”

“Bye honey.”

“Bye Mum.”

Hermione put the phone down and rolled her eyes. It wasn’t as if her mother understood what the hell was going on with Dean anyway. Two weeks in St Mungos and still he was having to be sedated whenever he had an hallucinogenic attack which luckily had reduced to around two a day. 

Most of them were about people coming to get him or people trying to kill Hermione but she, like the others had learnt to block most of it out and concentrate on being there for him. The past few days Hermione hadn’t been able to do much as they were re-doing some of the tests that had come back inconclusive so she had thrown herself headfirst into her work which after just five days of compassionate leave had piled up on her desk so much she didn’t know where to start. It was bad enough that Emily hadn’t managed to get in touch with one of her flaky clients and now he was in custody because of some incident or other. 

For someone who only had four clients she was swamped and now she would have to spend the day ringing around everyone and writing down meetings with them until her hand was sore. 

She was going to be late if she didn’t get a move on and she still hadn’t done her hair thanks to her mother calling when she was in the middle of drying it. Resigning herself to the idea that she would just have to do it later Hermione clipped it up, grabbed her bag and apparated straight out of her house and into the Ministry Atrium.

She started to walk up to the elevator to her floor when she was stopped by a large crowd of reporters swarmed around the statue. Rolling her eyes she put it down to another celebrity who was coming in to collect this award or another but as she squeezed herself through she found that the cameras were clicking away for none other than Harry and his team. Harry was stood in front of a lectern with Ron, Neville and Blaise behind him. 

“We would like to reassure the public that Mr Thomas’s injuries were caused whilst working for the Auror department and there is absolutely no need to panic. The group in question we have been following for a number of years and are in fact not even in the country. We are focusing our investigation in Europe and are confident that they will not dare to enter the country therefore we ask you to respect Miss Grangers privacy at this hard time and know that your Auror department will do everything in their power to protect you, the public, from harm.” 

Hermione didn’t understand. The public didn’t know about Dean did they? Unless it had been leaked. She found Harry’s eyes and he motioned for her to join him. He didn’t have to explain, she knew what he wanted from her. Slowly she made her way up to the podium and smoothed her shirt down. A great day for a public appearance when your hair is still half wet. The cameras went wild when they saw her. 

“I thank you for any support you have given and I would like to say quickly that Dean is in a stable condition at St Mungos and we are confident he will make a full recovery. However as Harry has said this is a hard time both for me and his family and we would appreciate it if you would respect our privacy whilst we do all we can to help Dean on his road to recovery.” 

As she finished and stepped down the reporters went crazy but Harry and Ron ushered her out of the Atrium quickly and into an Elevator where she was taken, without consent, up to the Auror department and then onto Harry’s office. When the door was closed she rounded on the foursome. 

“What on earth was that?” she cried. 

“That,” Harry said, “was damage control, haven’t you seen the papers this morning?” 

“I…what…no I haven’t,” Hermione replied as Ron chucked her a copy of the Daily Prophet and then Hermione understood. 

The front-page story was about Dean being in hospital thanks to a botched Auror mission in Europe to capture a group that is dangerous to the general public. Everything they had been hiding for years was in this article that spanned ten pages and everything about Dean that they had managed to keep quiet for so long was there too. 

“There is a leak?” Hermione asked. 

“Sort of,” Ron said, “we shouldn’t be telling you this but it concerns you slightly.”


“We need you to play the grieving Fiancé,” Harry said. 

“Dean is not dead!” Hermione snapped. 

“We know,” Ron reassured, “but this ‘leak’ isn’t really a leak. The ministry have planted it to give a false sense of security to the group. If they think we are focusing all our efforts in Europe then they might come into the country where we can get to them easily. In the paper they believe that Bliase has giving us information of all their hideouts…”

“Which I have,” Bliase put in. 

“Yes, but now they know they are not safe so they will come over here,” Ron said. 

“Hopefully,” Neville added. 

“Then Malfoy is going to ‘leak’ some of our secrets to them which will lead them down the wrong path and we can pounce,” Harry said. 

“So Malfoy’s in on this too?” Hermione asked Harry.

“He has to be, they don’t know he’s a spy yet, they think he’s over here spying for them so we can use him to our advantage. He will hide them and tell us.”

“Great,” she mumbled. 

“So we need you to keep the press sweet with tales of how upset you are about Dean and how well he’s doing and how much you wished he had never gone blah blah blah,” Ron smiled, “so then they don’t probe too far into this group we are investigating.”

“I get it,” Hermione sighed, “but it had better not interfere with my work, I have far too much on at the moment.” 

“Honestly Hermione I don’t think that’s going to be an issue,” Bliase grinned. 

“What do you mean?” she snapped back. 

“Nothing,” Bliase replied, “you’ll find out later.” 

Hermione sat down in Harry’s chair and let her head fall into her hands. This was far too much information for eight in the morning. She had to get it straight in her head. 

“Okay, let me get this right,” she started, “this group are in Italy at the moment but you have leaked all the true information about them and Dean into the papers so that they will think you are over there looking for them. Which means they will come over here to evade you were Malfoy will tell you where they are so you can catch them.”

“Pretty much,” Neville said, “and I’m not going to lie to you, I cannot wait until I can get out of here and back to Hogwarts.” 

“So why the speech?”

“To make it look real, we need to act as if this is an awful thing to happen,” Harry explained, “all our secrets have been revealed, if we hadn’t done it it would have been suspicious.” 

“Okay,” Hermione said taking in a deep breath, “I think I’ve got it.”

“Good cause you are going to be in the public eye a lot and we need you to understand what is going on and how crucial this is,” Ron said, “also I need you to look after Lexi on Wednesday…”

 Hermione twisted to face Ron, “what?” she cried. 

“I need you to look after her for an hour or so so I can go to the meeting with Malfoy.”

“What about your sister?”


“Your parents?” 

“Visiting Bill and Fleur. Please Mione.”

Hermione let out a sigh, “I’ll think about it.”

“Thanks,” Ron beamed.

“I haven’t said I would do it yet,” Hermione snapped back, “are we done? Because I really need to get to work.”

“Yep I think that is it,” Harry said.

“Good,” Hermione replied, “and don’t think I’m not still mad at you Harry Potter.” 

“I know,” he said, “this is the first time you’ve spoken to me in two weeks.”

Hermione nodded her head sharply, turned on her heel and walked out of the room, her head banging from all the information that had just been pumped into it. She decided to focus on something else. The fact that Harry wasn’t the only one she hadn’t spoken to for two weeks. In fact the only social interaction she had had was with her mother, Ginny and the Healers at St Mungos. 

She was mad at Harry, she was mad at Ron and she had been too bogged down in work to speak to her work colleges about anything other than work. She hadn’t even spoken to Malfoy since she left to see Dean on that first night. 

That wasn’t her fault though. No, that was the ministries fault. They had sent him back to Italy for a week to start the plan and make them know that Europe wasn’t safe and since he had been back she hadn’t had the time. He had tried to contact her once but she had ignored it. Scared that if she did take up his invitation of seeing him again then she might seek comfort in him and that was definitely not a good idea. 

“Emily,” she called as she walked into her office and found three dozen bunches of flowers waiting for her.”

“Yep?” the chirpy girl called popping her head around the door and looking at her boss.

“What are these?” Hermione asked. 

“From well-wishers, you know because of the Dean thing,” she shrugged. 

“Can you please get them out of here.”

“Where should I put them?”

“Anywhere,” Hermione said, “I have work to get on with…”

“Actually Miss Granger… Gemma wanted to see you in her office as soon as you got in.”

“Why?” Hermione asked. 

“Don’t know, she just told me to tell you as soon as you got in.”

Great. Hermione left her bag by the door and took out her diary and a pen. If her boss wanted to see her it couldn’t be good. Maybe she wanted her to take some more time off? Maybe she was taking her cases away and putting her on something lighter? Either way an uneasy feeling was settling in Hermione’s stomach and she didn’t like it. 

She walked to Gemma’s office, legs shaking slightly, and knocked on the door twice. When she heard her boss grumble a ‘yes’ from the other side Hermione pushed the door open and walked into the room. 

Gemma’s office was bigger than Hermione’s. All mahogany wood and roaring fire. Hermione supposed it came with the fact that she was one of three heading up the department but Hermione was after one of these offices one day and she was only one step away. There were three heads and each of these heads had three people working underneath them. Hermione was Gemma’s progeny thanks to McGonagall who had set up her internship after Hogwarts. 

Gemma herself was sitting behind her big desk, glasses on the end of her nose and hair piled on her head so perfectly that Hermione was sure it was stuck there. When she heard Hermione come in she looked up from her parchment and gave her a weak smile. 

“Please, Hermione, sit down.” 

Hermione sat in one of the two chairs opposite her and placed her diary and pen on the table waiting for the blow she thought was coming and dreading it. If Gemma didn’t let her work she would have nothing to distract her from Dean and she was sure everything she had tried so hard to keep together would crumble. 

“How’s Dean?” was the first thing she asked. 

“Much the same,” Hermione replied, “though they think he is showing small signed of improvement.”

“Good, I’m glad though I am sorry to hear it has got into the papers.”

“Can’t be helped,” Hermione shrugged, “there are plenty of people at St Mungos who have seen me coming and going, it was going to get out eventually.” 

“Well if you need any time off…”

Gemma looked over her glasses and Hermione knew that this was it. 

“No,” she said quickly, “no I’m fine, I need the work to be honest.”

Her boss smiled and took off her glasses, “I’m glad you said that. Hermione I’m taking you off all the cases you have been assigned and I’m giving them to Ben.”

“What?” Hermione cried, “but Gemma, I need to work…”

“I know,” Gemma said, “I’m taking you off those cases so you can work on something much more important.”

“Oh,” was all Hermione could say. Gemma was giving her a big case? She didn’t know whether to be terrified or flattered. Normally all the major cases were handled by the three heads. 

“I wouldn’t normally put someone who has only been with us for such a short time a case like this but my client has asked specifically for you and I know you well enough to say that you can handle it.”

“What is it?” Hermione asked, murder, fraud and abduction all running through her head. 

“Paternity test,” Gemma said with a slight smile, “I know it sounds like something we would give the new ones but this one is going to attract a lot of media attention and he is adamant that you do it. I know you have had plenty of brushes with the papers yourself and I am confident that whatever you need to do will get done.”

“Okay, sounds good,” Hermione said. 

“You will get a pretty sweet bonus if you win this thing, our client has money and is willing to give you anything to get his way.”

“So I am trying to…?”

“You need to get a paternity test for our client. The mother of the child is unwilling to give it and our client is insistent.”

“Can’t be too hard.”

“The child hasn’t been born yet; the Wizarding world has never had anything like this before and the only way we can do it is to use muggle methods. The mother has refused and is asking that our client step up to his duties but he is unwilling until he can find out the truth.”

“Okay, maybe that makes it slightly harder.”

“Especially with all the risks involved to the mother and child,” Gemma put in, “I am a muggle-born Miss Granger but even I am not sure about this one.”

“I’ll see what I can do, I might be able to get him to wait until the child is born.”

“I would sleep easier if you did,” Gemma said handing over a sheet of parchment will all the details on it, “so you will accept the case.”

“Of course,” Hermione smiled. 

“Good, Mr Malfoy will meet you in your office tomorrow at eleven, in the mean time I would like you to look through all the notes and see if you can find some weaknesses in our opposition… Hermione are you alright?”

Hermione’s mouth had dropped to the floor and she was sure she looked like she had just been petrified. Mr Malfoy? Mr Bloody Malfoy? She had to be joking right? It couldn’t be Draco she was talking about. 

“Mr Malfoy?” Hermione said meekly, “no relation to the Draco Malfoy I hope.”

“Actually it is the Draco Malfoy,” Gemma laughed, “now I know you two had your past in the war but my sources tell me you became quite good friends at school before he left to live with his mother abroad.”

“That’s what he told you?”

“Yes, he didn’t want anyone to know because she has been sick but now he’s back. I expect the papers will get wind of it soon enough, they know Astoria’s here but Mr Malfoy has had the good sense to stay out of the public. He only ever comes in late at night through my own fireplace or on the weekend but tomorrow he will be found out and everyone will want to know where he has been.”

“Yeah I bet they will,” Hermione said under her breath but when Gemma asked her what she had said she shook her head, “nothing, yes I shall meet with him tomorrow and go over what he wants to do. I just didn’t realise he was back that’s all.”

“Yes, only Astoria, Oliver and I know he is back, Oliver is representing Astoria by the way,” Gemma said referring to one of the other heads and it clicked in Hermione’s head as to why Astoria had been flirting with him in the doorway. It had to be Astoria didn’t it. 

Then it occurred to her; what if Draco really was the father of Astoria’s unborn child and he was simply trying to get out of it. What if everything Draco had said to her had been lies and the real reason he left was to get away from it?

“How many months is she?” 

“Three I think, maybe four. She’s not showing much so no one has caught on yet.” 

“Okay, thanks Gemma, I’ll see what I can do.”

Hermione rose from the chair and left the office, half dazed by what she had heard and half furious that Draco hadn’t told her this earlier. Gemma had said he had personally asked for her so he knew she would find out in the end. Why not just tell her in the beginning. It made no sense but then again when did anything Draco Malfoy ever do make sense?

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