Chapter 1

                  Hermione Granger gasped out loud and crumbled the paper in her hand. She angrily threw it across the room and sat down, completely amazed. She had not heard his name for a couple of years now, and his family was no concern for her since the battle at Hogwarts. But now, his name appeared several times in the letter, and she had to read it repeatedly to make sure she was seeing right.

                  But this is absurd.

                  She used her usual manoeuvre to release her anger and paced around the room, thinking thoroughly about the situation. But nothing she could do helped her explain what was happening, who was involved, and what she should do next. She couldn’t help it when her mind swayed towards him, the guy she hadn’t even thought of for years, and the first time she met him.


 



 

                  Of course she had heard of the Malfoy name before she entered Hogwarts. For one who had vigorously studied the wizard school she would be attending it was impossible to not come across one of the most ancient and richest wizarding families. His father’s name appeared throughout the newspapers about business at the ministry (which she did not really understand at the time) and throughout thick textbooks and informational novels about the wizarding world. She went into Hogwarts with the name at the back of her mind as one not to be trifled with, but as she knew she would not end up in Slytherin, she wasn’t concerned about interacting with him much. That was before she became best friends with Harry Potter, who was indeed Draco Malfoy’s target the first time she saw him.

                  She could still remember him walking up the staircase, pushing everyone aside like they meant nothing to him. He turned and faced Harry, proceeding to goad him while asking him to be friends. She could still see everyone’s faces in her mind- Harry’s, Ron’s and Malfoy’s- and her younger self wondered what would become of the greatest wizards of their time. Because for her, that part was already apparent.


                  She had married one of them and he broke her heart, and the other took side and refused to see her if Ron was around, and the last, who she thought she would never meet again, appeared to her now in a letter, demanding for her to meet with him.

 



 

                  She snapped back to reality at this thought, and determined that she wasn’t going to bend to his will and do whatever he told her to do, even if it was approved by the minister of magic. She had the highest seat any woman had ever reached in the ministry, and she wasn’t about to be handed over without her consent.

                  The letter did not contain many details. It told her that her higher-ups had determined a method to protect her from the threat discussed in the previous meeting and they were going to locate her to the safest house in the wizarding world, the Malfoy manor.

                  When she read the letter the first time, she thought it was a joke. The safest house in the wizarding world? They used to be death-eaters for goodness sakes! Who knows what they have in the manor? They could have a dungeon full of dark magic and no one would ever know. As soon as she entered the manor she knew she would never be leaving. They would lock her in some room and torture her and then wipe her memory. She wasn’t escaping from this mysterious ‘threat’, she was entering a worse one. How could the ministry forget everything the Malfoy’s have done this fast? It was ludicrous!

                  She picked up the crumbled paper from the ground and marched to the elevator, thinking through exactly what she was going to say to the head of the Auror department. It was always the department she avoided the most, as Harry and Ron could be present at any time, although they frequently left the ministry to go on their ‘secret missions’. She walked through the department rapidly, keeping her head down and avoiding any eye contact. She didn’t want Harry and Ron’s colleagues knowing about anything that was happening. She didn’t want them to think she needed any saving. She could handle this herself like she always did.

                  “Hello Mr. Dawlish, I received your note, and I’d like to say first hand that I completely refuse.” He glanced up at her from his desk, his grin turning into a frown as he realized who was standing in his office.

                  “Well Ms. Granger, it’s nice to see you too.” He replied, and beckoned her to sit at the chair across from him.   She complied, but continued to glare at him.

                  “We both know this isn’t about my safety. You work closely with Harry and Ron and you believe whatever story Ron told you and you’re trying to get back at me for god knows what. Well, I’m here to tell you that this isn’t a joke. You don’t know what will happen to be in the Malfoy manor, and I don’t think this little petty thing you have with me is worth risking my life.”

                  “Ms. Granger, this has nothing to do with the personal life between you and your ex-husband, and for your information, I am the head of a department that has no time to gossip about trivial matters such as this. My job is to provide safety to as many witches and wizards as I can and this is the best way the Minister and I can ensure your safety. Draco Malfoy is the new head of the Malfoy house, and has never in any instance made us question his loyalty to our policies and laws. Please refrain from calling out false accusations in my office, as they can be dealt with seriously.” He finished calmly and folded his hands across his lap. They sat for a few moments in silence, and Hermione could tell John Dawlish was feeling uneasy by her lack of response.

                  “Very well then,” She stood up and smiled, “I will go speak with Mr. Malfoy and discuss our arrangements.”

                  “Well… alright“, he replied, shocked. “Please make sure no one knows of this matter other than the Minister, the residents of the Malfoy manor, and you and I. This is a very serious matter that concerns with your safety, and we’re not exactly sure which individuals are part of the threat working against you at this moment. You are to be located at the manor in exactly 24 hours, are we clear?”


                  “Yes, sir. Have a nice day.” She replied, and left the office, closing the door behind her.

 



 

                  She acted casually as she hurried her way throughout the offices and cubicles, rushing to pick up everything she needed from her office.

                  As she passed her secretary’s desk, she called back to tell her she wouldn’t be back for a few days and to forward any emails or important calls to her if needed. Hermione’s secretary, Kate, was alarmed but agreed before Hermione rushed off into the floo powder network.

                  She reached her small apartment in London in less than a few seconds, giving her little time to plan everything she was going to take to go off the radar of the magical world. She grabbed her emergency bag and stuffed everything she could think of inside. Clothes, food, books, magical items, all of her muggle and wizard money, and anything she knew she would miss if she left behind. She knew she only had a few minutes before they would figure out she never went to Malfoy’s office and never planned on ever heading to the manor. She was lucky this Dawlish guy didn’t know her very well, or he would’ve seen through her act straight away.

                  She grabbed her last belonging before hearing a loud knocking sound at the door, and voices angrily calling out her name. “Miss Granger, open this door this instance and this doesn’t have to get ugly for the both of us. I don’t want to have to restrain you.” It was Mr. Dawlish, and she wondered how he figured it out so fast. Must be how he got to be the head of Aurors.

                  She appareted off without thinking of where she was going to go, and appeared at a muggle bookstore she visited whenever she needed to get her mind off of things. Hermione regained her composure and ordered a cup of coffee. She needed time to figure out what she was going to do next.

                  She knew she couldn’t ask Harry or Ron for help, she wasn’t in deep enough trouble yet to bring down her pride and ask them for help when they both refused to speak to her. And still, she didn’t even know if they would even be on her side of the matter. Don’t be silly Hermione, Harry hates Malfoy a lot more than you do, of course he would see it your way. But she also didn’t believe he would pick Ron’s side in the fight and look what happened.

                  She could visit her parents and stay with them for a few days until she figured it all out, but that was where they would expect her to go, and if the people who were hunting her found her first, she didn’t want her parents to be put into danger.

                  Hermione never felt more alone than she did, sitting in the coffee shop with all her belongings in her backpack and no one she could turn to to ask for advice or lean on for help. She almost missed the old days, where she was too busy trying to figure out how to defeat Voldemort that she never even had the time to think of her future, and in the back of her mind she always thought her future would be Ron.

                  A figure sitting across the table from her snapped her out of her thoughts, and she had no time to react before he looked up at her and smirked, then ordered some coffee for himself.

                  She was so shocked and amazed that no words would come out, so she watched helplessly as the waitress delivered his coffee and added milk and cream to the mixture.

                  “Are you ever going to say anything?” He said, stirring his drink lazily.

                  “How did you even find me? How could you possibly find a tiny bookstore in the middle of London where I’ve been sitting for only a few moments?”

                  “I have my methods. It wasn’t that difficult really. How long did you think you could possibly hide before they found you? I’m saving you from all the hassle and embarrassment.” He grinned at her, and she turned red with anger.

                  “I could have apparated anywhere I wanted, and I can do the same right now, what makes you think I’m going to sit here and listen to your nonsense?” She spluttered out.

                  “I will find you over and over again until you get tired and we can just go back to the manor.”

                  “But…” She started, and he looked up at her from his drink. “Wait. Why are you even supportive of this ridiculous plan anyways? What’s in it for you? I thought you would hate having a so called ‘mud-blood’ at your precious home.”

                  “These are different times, Hermione.” She gasped as he said her name. “Haven’t you heard? All the wizards and witches are friends now. It’s great. The dark lord is gone, we’re all in peace now!”

                  “You didn’t give me a straight answer.”

                  “It’s none of your business. You’re the one breaking the law and going against the ministry’s business right now, not me. So either you come with me right now compliantly or I force you to come. Your choice.”

                  She bit her lip and tried to think through some kind of plan while Malfoy sat at his chair and sipped at his coffee, watching her.

                  “Take your time.” He shrugged back his hood and leaned backwards against the chair. It was the first time since their encounter that Hermione had time to access how much he had changed over the years. His hair was longer and no longer streaked back, its pale yellow remained the same and rested softly on his head. His eyes were darker now, more serious, and it seemed as if years of wear as an adult made his features hard and less childlike. It didn’t seem like he smiled or laughed much anymore, though she could see hints of smile lines at the corner of his eyes. He wore a dark hooded jacket with a white dress shirt and tie underneath, and she wondered if he had hurried to find her from the office.

                  “Don’t you have work to do or something?” She said, after a long bout of silence.

                  “I’m doing my work right now.” He replied, “Please, take as long as you can, this is much more entertaining than the stack of paperwork I have on my desk right now.”

                  I won’t give him the pleasure then. She stubbornly stood up and paid for the bill, and exited the store, not waiting to see if he was following. As she heard his footsteps catch up next to her she looked back and asked, “Well, where are we going now then?” He took her hand without saying a word and before she could shout at him to let go they appeared at the front of her apartment unit, and she gazed at him quizzically.

                  “Don’t you need to pack or something? Get whatever you need, we don’t know how long you’ll be staying at the manor for.” She nodded and grabbed her key, but before she could turn the handle the door opened slowly, revealing a living room that was in complete shambles. She gasped loudly and ran into the room, and checked around to see the rest of the space. The whole apartment was ransacked and she had no idea what was taken or who had done it. “Blimey Granger, you really have to clean up sometime.”

                  She glared at him, exasperated. “This isn’t a joke, Malfoy. This is my home, and someone destroyed it.” Not only had they destroyed it, they worked very hard to make it completely unliveable. All her plates and cups were shattered on the floor and her cushions were ripped out, and there were feathers everywhere she looked. Her clothes were ripped to pieces and she could not find anything of value, such as the TV or her computer. She tried to control her emotions, and she wiped a tear falling down her cheeks before Malfoy would notice.

                  He gave no sign of noticing her distress and whistled loudly at the mess while trying to avoid the glass pieces on the ground. “Please stop touching my things, it’s rude.”

                  “Doesn’t seem like there’s much of anything to touch anymore.” He replied quickly, “We’re lucky the Manor will have everything you need to feel comfortable. Come, there’s no point in staying here anymore.” He walked towards the front entrance, looking back to see if she was following.

                  “I know someone like you wouldn’t understand something like this but this was a big deal for me. It was the first thing I really paid for by myself and I cared for it with all my heart. I can’t just leave it like this and run off. I need some time.” She started to tidy up the house, grabbing a broom and sweeping up the glass.

                  “You and everyone else think I’ve had everything in my life handed to me, and you think you know everything about me. Well, you don’t. So don’t pretend I’m some monster who’s never cared about anything in my life.” She ignored him and continued sweeping, “Why am I even explaining anything to you anyways? The fact is, you’re in danger, someone who wants you dead came to your house and did this. This should be a sign that we should be leaving ASAP. And you’re a witch, why do you even have a broom in your house?” He grabbed the broom from her and threw it across the room. Before she could react, he grabbed her arm and they apparted in front of the Malfoy Manor.

                  Hermione glanced up at the grand gates that loomed in front of them and wiped the tears from her face, “You have got to stop doing that.” 

-Raven Claw Queen 

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