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Chapter Eight

Hermione and Draco were out for dinner again two nights later, they were meeting with Ginny a little later in the evening than they had planned on, but that’s when her practice ended for the day so they agreed with her. As soon as they were done their meal they would be heading to the back room and awaiting the red headed witch to join them.

“Oh, God, Pansy Parkinson is headed this way,” Hermione groaned before taking another bite of her mediocre beef wellington.

“She’s annoying, but she could be worse. With your track record of friends going barmy, I don’t think you can say much about mine.”

“Prick,” Hermione whispered, taking a delicate sip of her wine and preparing herself for the pain she was about to endure.

“Draco! So wonderful to see you,” Pansy said, approaching their table.

Like Hermione didn’t exist and wasn’t sitting directly across from the man.

“Pansy,” Draco said as a greeting, setting down his fork and reaching for his water glass.

“I tried to drop by the manor last night, but no one was there.”

“I’ve been staying at Hermione’s,” he said, making eye contact with his witch and realizing she was seething silently.

The slight from Pansy obviously didn’t go unnoticed.

“Wonderful,” Pansy said, in a tone that clearly stated she didn’t think it was wonderful at all. “I was hoping we could get together, just like old times.”

Hermione breathed in a little heavier through her nose, and Draco cocked his head at the black-haired witch standing before him.

“Old times? You mean seven years ago when you would paw at me and I would try to deflect your advances in any way possible? No thank you, and you seem to be forgetting that I already have a girlfriend.”

“Having a girlfriend didn’t seem to mean anything to the Draco that I used to know,” Pansy said shortly, more than a little bit offended by the words he had used while Hermione tried to stifle her sniggers.

“Well, seeing as how you really don’t know me anymore I can’t say that I’m surprised by that.”

Pansy looked murderous and she turned to glare heavily at Hermione.

“You think it’s funny, do you? You don’t realize you’re just a conquest to him? So he can finally say that he had a mudblood in his bed? I’m sure he will dispose of you sooner or later, you clingy little bitch.”

Hermione saw Draco tense up the second the word ‘mudblood’ was spoken, but she managed to speak before he could say anything.

“I’m clingy?” Hermione almost laughed, “He’s my boyfriend and I think I’m allowed to have dinner with him. You seriously want to call me clingy when you’re still trying to bed him after not even seeing or speaking to him in five years? You need to get over yourself, Parkinson. By the way, green doesn’t look good on you.”

Pansy opened her mouth to say something, but Draco beat her to the punch.

“You know nothing about me, anymore, Pansy. I would appreciate it if you’d let me and my beautiful girlfriend continue our meal in peace.”

And with that, he turned away from her, picked up his glass of water and casually took another sip.

“What would you like to do after dinner, sweetheart?” Draco asked her, his voice dripping with love.

Hermione tried not to laugh at his obvious displays of affection and answered with, “I think our bed is waiting for us, darling.”

Draco’s eyes dimmed slightly with lust, but Hermione was trying to keep it together because of the offended look on Pansy Parkinson’s face before she turned and stormed away from their table.

Draco leaned forward and kissed her meaningfully and Hermione accepted it eagerly; ignoring a flash going off at their obvious public displays of affection.

“She’s gone,” Hermione said after they broke apart.

“I just wanted to kiss you.”

“What time is it?” she asked, stabbing a piece of her beef wellington viciously before transferring it to her mouth.

“You’re so uncouth.”

“You’re so pompous.”

“You’re so delicious,” Draco’s eyes were humorous.

“You’re so… what?”

He laughed.

She didn’t get to hear that nearly often enough, but she just figured he was one of those people who didn’t laugh at everyday situations like she did.

She probably witnessed his laughter more than anyone else on the planet.

She was honestly okay with that.

“We need to finish this to get to the back room.”

Hermione stabbed a large piece of her food ruthlessly, and staring straight at Draco, shoved it into her mouth.

She chewed and swallowed, smiling sarcastically, and said, “Done!”

He rolled his eyes and cut a tiny square off of his steak, eating it in the most pompous manner she had ever witnessed.

“I don’t know if this meal was worth the gold, to be honest,” Draco said while they were waiting for the bill.

“I agree with you, I could have made something so much tastier at home.”

They both looked at each other when the word “home” slipped from Hermione’s tongue, but neither commented on it, thank Merlin. Draco paid for their meal and took her hand, leading her to the room where they were meeting Ginny Weasley.

They only had to wait three minutes for her to turn up and she looked anxious and slightly afraid as she took her seat.

She looked old, Hermione realized; much older than her 24 years.

“What do you want to know, Hermione?” she asked wearily, not even bothering to say hello.

As far as Hermione and Draco could tell, she wanted to get this meeting over as quickly as possible.

“What happened between you and Harry?”

Ginny didn’t look surprised by the question and Hermione was willing to bet that Ron had told her about the meeting they had a few days prior.

“Well… we were dating when he won the war, as you remember, I’m sure.”

Hermione just nodded. How could she possibly forget that?

Draco just sat there staring at Ginny, waiting for her to get to the point.

“Well once we were both graduated, we moved into the cottage. He was so happy, in the beginning, to have me there. He was lonely growing up, as you know, and was proud to finally have his life on track. He owned his own chunk of land, had a girlfriend he loved who loved him in return, he was finally free from the curse that was attached to him since he was a baby.

“He didn’t need to answer to his aunt and uncle anymore and I think that was very important to him. He wasn’t being treated as a slave or a punching bag and he was finally able to be his own person and didn’t have to deal with the disappointment of being compared to his oaf of a cousin on a daily basis.”

Draco’s eyebrows went up. He hadn’t realized Potter was treated badly as a child. He had assumed he had lived a life of privilege, growing up as the Boy-Who-Lived. There were a few gossip magazine articles about Potter’s childhood while they were growing up, but Draco took them at face value; gossip. This was the first time he had actually heard someone close to Harry Potter talk about him being treated as a slave and used as a punching bag.

“I think they’re an important part of my story though, because he went to see them a month or so after he bought his place. I think he just wanted them to be proud of him, for once. He told me later that he thought they had all come to an understanding with one another when they left before he went searching for horcruxes, but of course he was disappointed by them again.

“I don’t know if that changed his view point on life, or what happened really, but he went into a downward spiral, and quickly. I tried to lift him out of it, but he would lash out at me every single time I tried to be there for him. He got extremely violent, Hermione. He wasn’t the man that I had fallen in love with, and that scared me. I tried, oh, I tried to keep it all together, delude myself that he was just going through a rough patch and everything would be fine.”

Ginny was speaking robotically, almost as though she had rehearsed everything she was going to say ahead of time in a mirror. Her face was decidedly blank and Hermione glanced at Draco, who was looking slightly uncomfortable.

Almost as if he knew what she was going to say next.

“He started to hit me and even then I was trying to brush it off and explain it away, thinking about how much he loved me in the beginning. He was getting worse instead of better though, but I didn’t exactly realize it at the time. He would call me all sorts of horrible things and would sometimes even force himself upon me."

“He broke me. I was unwell for months after I finally got enough courage to walk away, and I was afraid because I thought for sure that he would come for me. I was having nightmares and sometimes I felt like I wasn’t alone in my flat, even though I knew that I was. I was scared enough that I moved back in with my parents for a while, knowing that they would help protect me if anything was to happen. Once I moved in with them the nightmares stopped. I live with roommates now, because I’m too scared to live alone. The nightmares I was having were almost worse than being with him, he was cruel in real life, but he was downright evil in my nightmares.”

Draco was slightly paler than usual, and Hermione realized her hands were shaking.

“What were your nightmares about?” she asked Ginny gently.

“Harry. He was… insane and scary and did worse things to me than he ever would in real life. He was this menacing man who looked a little bit different than he does, but he still looked the same. I couldn’t figure it out, and he always had me in a dark cell; and Hermione I have to tell you this, sometimes you were in my nightmares too. You were usually beside me in the cell but sometimes you’d be in one off in the distance but I could hear your screams before Harry would come to me. Other times you were there trying to help me get out.”

“Why wouldn’t you have told me this?” Hermione asked, her voice unsteady.

“They were just dreams.”

Hermione chanced a glance at Draco and he looked almost sick.

“I thought I knew him, Hermione. Looking back on it I don’t think any of us knew him at all and I think I was lucky to get out when I did, he probably would have ended up killing me.”

Draco was looking at Hermione pointedly but she refused to meet his eyes at that moment.

She knew what he was thinking.

“What happened to him?”

“The Hallows, Hermione,” Ginny said quickly, leaning her body closer to the couple to try and get her urgency across. Hermione felt her stomach clench with those three words, fear filling her body with an unmistakeable dread, “A few weeks before I left for good, it was all he would talk about - trying to find the remaining Hallows. I don’t know if you know this but someone stole his cloak when we were still together. He thought it was me and I was punished severely, but once he realized it wasn’t he went into a rage. He disappeared for a few days in search of it and came back empty handed and blazing mad.

Hermione was staring at Ginny now, fear blatant on her face.

Harry was screaming at her about a stone.

The Resurrection Stone.

“Oh, God. What does he want them for, Ginny?”

“I think you know.”

“We can’t let him get them.”

“There’s no ‘we’, Hermione. I’m staying out of this completely. I walked away from him years ago and I have no desire to ever see him again.”

“So that’s why Dumbledore’s tomb was broken into. How am I such an idiot!? I should have figured this out ages ago.”

Draco was absolutely confused.

“From the looks of the latest papers you’ve been pretty busy trying to bring other things to light.”

“Yes, but still,” Hermione said, waving an impatient hand in the air, “all of the signs were there. I’m such an idiot.”

Ginny shrugged and Hermione was suddenly concerned about her mental state.

“You alright, Weasley?” Draco asked, watching the red head closely.

“I took a calming draught before meeting you, that’s all. I’ve told you what you wanted to know, so if I could leave now I’d appreciate it.

“Wait! Before you leave, do you know if he has any of them?”

“He didn’t when I left, but that was years ago so it’s hard to say. There was a break in at Borgin and Burke’s a few months ago and apparently an invisibility cloak went missing, but I highly doubt it was the cloak. I honestly don’t know, though.”

Ginny stood up and looked at the couple once more before turning and walking out the door. She stopped on the other side of the doorjamb and hesitated before turning back to them. “Good luck,” she said quickly before walking away for good.

Hermione let out a breath and looked at Draco, who still looked confused. They sat in silence for a few moments while Hermione digested everything she had just been told; the meeting Ginny was much more informative than their meeting with Ron.

“I know some things that you need to be made aware of,” she said after standing. Hermione clutched onto Draco's hand tightly as they slowly made their way out of the restaurant.

“I would say so, I haven’t the faintest idea what she was talking about.”

They were walking hand in hand and both stopped at the same time, staring at the sight in front of them.

Harry Potter was standing there gazing at them accusingly, his eyes narrowed in blatant anger.

Hermione shuddered as Harry approached and she unconsciously stepped closer to Draco.

“What the fuck,” Draco said under his breath; this was the first time he had seen Harry since the end of the war and the man looked the same, yet so different at the same time.

“Hermione, I need your help,” Harry said, stopping directly in front of the couple. He decided to just come right out and ask her instead of trying to beat around the bush; Draco raised an elegant eyebrow at the sound of Harry’s voice. It seemed colder than usual and, dare he say it? More high pitched.

“With what, Harry?” Hermione asked, clenching Draco’s hand tighter.

Harry looked at their entwined hands and his eyes narrowed to slits immediately.

Hermione was a little confused by his reaction; he had to of heard about them dating. Everyone in the Wizarding world knew by now, thanks to Witch Weekly.

Although, it was possible he wasn’t following the news.

Probable, more like.

Harry looked up and gave Draco a hard look, forgetting why he had even come to speak to Hermione in the first place and almost making the aristocratic man step back in surprise.

Draco was fairly sure that Harry’s eyes had glowed red for a moment.

Harry lost every ounce of normalcy he had possessed at that moment, rage taking over his features. He had seen them sleeping side by side for weeks, but there was something different about seeing them walking down a crowded street hand in hand.

“Get away from her,” he all but yelled at Draco, making the blond man start in astonishment.

Harry Potter was truly barmy.

“What?”

“Get the hell away from Hermione,” Harry said again, enunciating each word very clearly and loudly, causing passerby on the street to stop and look at them all.

“Harry, it’s okay. Draco and I have been dating for months.”

Instead of diffusing the situation like she was hoping to do, this seemed to spur Harry on even more.

“You’re Imperiused! You’ve got to be Imperiused to be with this Death Eater.”

Draco stiffened and Hermione’s eyes widened.

“Harry, what’re you – “

“Get away from her!” He screamed, causing Draco and Hermione to each take a step back in alarm.

Hermione let go of Draco’s hand for a moment and moved closer to Harry, “Harry, its fine. We’re dating now; he doesn’t need to stay away from me and you don’t need to protect me from him. He cares about me.”

Harry moved quickly.

Quicker than Draco had ever witnessed a human being, wizard or not, move in his entire life.

He grabbed Hermione by her wrist and tugged her away from Draco before gripping her throat and slamming her into the wall behind her hard, her head snapping back into the stone. They were suddenly on the opposite side of the street of Draco, causing him to stand still and blink for a moment at their rapid movement as gasps and shouts were heard all over the street from their audience. No one expected to see their Golden Boy, their hero, treat someone this way; a woman and his old friend, no less.

“Betrayal,” he hissed, tightening his hands around her throat. Hermione cringed at the snake-like sound coming from his mouth, thinking of her dreams. She tried to reach up and pry his hands from her neck despite the stars popping into her vision from how hard he had slammed her into the wall and his tight grip on her neck, but he was holding on too tightly.

Draco fought through the stock-still crowds and was on them moments later, wrenching Harry’s hands from Hermione’s throat which was deep red from the pressure he was putting on it; the chain from her necklace was indented into her neck. Hermione coughed a few times, gasping for air.

Draco pushed Harry away from them but the raven haired man hastily came at the couple again, growls issuing from his throat as his arms swung through the air urgently, trying to grab a hold of Hermione while Draco was almost completely disregarded. His eyes were blazing red and his face was pale under his shock of dark hair, his lips were pressed into a firm line; almost as though he were trying to keep words inside of his mouth even though the growling was still ripping from his throat. Hermione dodged his attempts a few times while Draco kept trying to push him away.

Harry’s attempts at grabbing onto Hermione were not lost on either her or Draco, and the blond found it incredibly strange that Potter hadn’t even tried to fight him in any sense of the word.

The looks he was receiving from the mad-man clearly stated that he wanted nothing but bad things to happen to him.

“Get out of here Hermione,” Draco yelled at her, but she was just as busy dodging Harry’s attempts to grab her as Draco was.

“She’s mine, Malfoy,” Harry screamed, looking murderous.

Hermione was surprised he hadn’t gone for his wand yet.

“I’m not, Harry! I’m not! I’ve been with Draco for months!”

“Get away from my girl, Potter, or I swear I will make you pay,” and with that, Draco whipped out his wand and pointed it directly at Harry Potter’s throat.

Hermione dimly registered the whispers around them, knowing that Harry was proving just how crazy he had been rumoured to be. This would be all over the magazines and newspapers tomorrow, and with that thought Hermione also noticed all of the photographers flocking around them.

Harry backed away for a moment, looking contemplative before he made to leave.

Draco turned back to Hermione and was about to check her neck when she let out a high squeal of fear and Harry was going for her neck again. He accidentally grabbed the necklace she was wearing when she attempted to dodge his latest attack and he turned on the spot, trying to apparate away with Hermione in tow, but Draco reached out his wand with quick instincts at the last moment and snapped the chain in two.

Harry was gone the next second with only a broken chain as a prize and Hermione started crying loudly, fear overwhelming her. Harry had just tried to essentially abduct her, right from underneath her boyfriend’s nose and on a street full of people.

Draco pulled her into his embrace and she was crying into his chest as photographers converged around them, taking pictures while their respective reporters screamed questions at the pair. Draco gave everyone a deep look of scathing and turned with Hermione in his arms; they were gone the next moment.

“What the hell just happened?” Draco asked, as soon as they were in Hermione’s living room. Her tears were subsiding now that she wasn’t in immediate danger, but Draco was furious.

“I have no idea. I don’t even know why he was saying those things, we have never, never, been together.”

“He’s completely mad.”

“He’s terrifying.”

“Are you okay?”

Hermione nodded and collapsed onto her couch, pulling a throw pillow into her lap and hugging it tightly.

“Stay away from him, Hermione. I’m not joking.”

She nodded again and Draco sat on the couch beside her, pulling her into his chest.

“If you even see him coming just apparate away immediately.”

“I will.”

“Why was he trying to take you?”

“I honestly have no idea. That was just… psychotic. Whenever I go to his house he tries to make me leave immediately, and now he’s hunting me down in Diagon Alley and trying to apparate away with me? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“What the bloody hell is a Hallow?” Draco asked suddenly.

Hermione sighed before she launched into the long story of the year she spent with Harry and Ron searching for Horcruxes, the Deathly Hallows, and what happened after the war with the Deathstick and the Resurrection Stone.

“So he wants to become the master of death?”

“It looks like it.”

“He could be worse than Voldemort was, in some ways. You know that, right?”

“We can’t let him get his hands on them, Draco.”

“I’m going to owl Hogwarts about the wand.”

“No!” Hermione yelled, startling him. “People can’t know about the wand, too many souls have been lost over that bloody thing and Harry is technically the master of it, as far as I understand.”

“We don’t have to use it, Hermione, just hide it.”

“We will need to attempt to get it ourselves. Harry has tried, judging by the newspaper article I saw months ago, but Dumbledore’s tomb is warded against dark magic.”

“So why wouldn’t he just use light magic to get it out?”

“Maybe it can sense if the person is trying to get into his tomb for sinister reasons. Voldemort broke into it during the war to get the Elder Wand, so maybe it was warded after the fact.”

“By who?”

Hermione didn’t have an answer to that.

“We just need to get it, Draco, and the stone.”

“What would he want with that?”

“I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Let’s go to bed.”

Draco pulled Hermione from the couch and they walked companionably to the bedroom.

“What a night,” Hermione whispered.

**

The night didn’t end there for Draco, however.

His mind was spinning with everything he had learned and he was stuck thinking about Harry’s psychosis.

He was intelligent enough to understand that if Potter got his hands on all three of the Deathly Hallows the world would be a completely different place, and judging by his complete mental break, it wouldn’t be a good thing.

He was just drifting off when Hermione made a spastic movement followed by a long groan, and he realized that she was beginning to have another nightmare. She had one every single night; the hair on Draco’s arms stood to attention as he thought of Ginny’s story. She had been having nightmares about the monster that was now Harry Potter as well.

Moonlight was shining into the windows and Draco could see, as well as feel, that Hermione was writhing around now, moaning and groaning. He wished he could make the nightmares stop because he had to admit to himself that he had fallen hard for the witch beside him, even though he was a grumpy arsehole most of the time. He really didn’t want her to be suffering the way that she was while she should have been peacefully slumbering. Hermione seemed to care for him as well, despite his shitty attitude, and that consequently made him care for her even more.

He hated seeing her like this.

Draco pulled her body close to his and rubbed her back lightly, trying to calm her down. He knew she wouldn’t wake up, he had tried that the first few nights that he had found out about the dreams and therefore awoke to her distressed sleeping patterns; anything he did she slept through. Apparently Hermione would only wake up when she was scared enough. Draco had come to the conclusion over the nights they had spent together that these weren’t any ordinary dreams; they seemed to be leaning more toward what he could recall about cursed dreams.

He’d have to look that up.

Hermione groaned louder and Draco gripped her body tighter to his, despite the disturbed twitching she was doing. He was watching her face and his heart thumped loudly at the fear that was being blatantly displayed by her. She started to move less, groan less, and Draco knew that she would most likely be waking at any moment; the calm before the storm, so to speak, and in the sudden quiet he heard a noise by the bedroom door, almost a soft creaking, and he looked up, startled.

Directly into Harry Potter’s eyes.

He screamed at the same time Hermione did as she jumped awake in his tight embrace, jarring him. He turned to look at her and took in the fear presented on her face that was most likely mirrored on his before he swung his head around to look at the doorway again.

Harry was gone.

Draco jumped from the bed and lit all the lights in the entire flat at once with his wand, his heart beating a frantic tattoo against his rib cage as he ran through all of the rooms, looking frantically for any sign of Potter.

He was gone.

Draco slammed back into the bedroom and Hermione was sitting awake in bed, eyes wide with confusion and still tinged with fear.

“What are you doing?” she asked, watching Draco wave his wand so that all of their belongings started packing themselves in trunks.

“Packing,” he snarled, walking to the bathroom to get their belongings in there to start packing themselves into their toiletry bags.

“What for?” Hermione asked, stepping from the bed and following him down the hall to the living room, where he repeated his actions.

“We’re leaving. Going to the Manor.”

“What? Why?”

Draco spun around on the spot and Hermione was shocked by the frightened look in his eyes, “Potter was here, just minutes ago.”

“What? Draco, that’s impossible.”

“I saw him, Hermione, and I’m not arguing about this. I’m betting that he's been coming here every single night, which doesn’t explain why he was surprised that we were dating, but he’s deranged, so who knows. We. Are. Leaving.”

Hermione was shocked. Harry? In her house?!

She nodded, “I’ll help!” and ran into the kitchen to start charming the food to stay fresh in their absence.

**

“Draco?” Hermione whispered from the depths of his bed, her body sunken into the mattress and the blankets piled high on her body.

“Hmm?”

“Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Are all the big walls scaring you?” he asked, turning his body so they were facing each other.

“Oh, shush,” Hermione said, scooting closer to him.

He automatically put one arm under her pillow and she snuggled her body into him, her head resting on that arm. “I’m just scared and there’s so much that I don’t understand right now.”

“I don’t understand it all either.”

“Why would Harry have been in my house?”

“I think it has something to do with your dreams, to be completely honest,” Draco hadn’t wanted to voice his suspicions yet, in case he was totally off the mark, but Hermione needed to be pacified at the moment.

“Maybe,” she said, and then surprised him by leaning forward and placing chaste kisses along his collarbone.

He grinned.

This could help get her mind off things as well.

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