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    Hermione let out a scream of pain as her vision blurred. Being that this had only happened one other time, she had not yet learned how to control this ability of hers. When her vision finally began to clear, Hermione found herself looking at Lucius Malfoy.

    She remembered that the first time she went into a vision, she had just barely seen Lucius before she pulled out. She had been curious as to what was going to happen at the time and that curiosity had remained with her since then. This time, she was desperate to hold onto the vision and find out what Lucius was doing. Pushing through the pain as best she could, Hermione managed to get a very clear view of her surroundings.

    Lucius was pacing in what she assumed was his study. It was obvious that he was angry about something. She had seen the expression on his face too many times to mistake it. His pacing suddenly stopped when there was a loud knock at the door.

    Lucius strode over and threw the door open in a flash, coming face to face with his sister-in-law, Bellatrix. “What are you doing here at such a late hour, Bellatrix?” he questioned fiercely.

    “I was sent by the Dark Lord,” Bellatrix said.

    Without hesitation, Lucius moved aside and allowed Bellatrix to enter his study. “What is it that he sent you for?” he asked as she moved past him and he shut the door.

    Bellatrix turned at looked at him with her heavily lidded eyes as she said, “The Dark Lord wants to be kept informed of your progress, and being that my sister is your wife, I was a natural choice for the task.”

    “You volunteered for it, you mean.”

    “You honestly didn’t think I would sit by and allow you to mess things up as you always do, did you?”

    Lucius narrowed his eyes and stared harshly at her. “Contrary to what you may think, Bellatrix, I am not going to fail!” he snapped. “I have a plan that is already in motion and it is going to work.”

    “I’ll be the judge of that; what is this plan?”

    Bellatrix stared at him expectantly as he stood there silently, tapping his finger on his chin thoughtfully. After several moments, Lucius finally spoke. “I do not have to discuss my plan with you, nor do I intend to. Everyone that needs to be involved is already aware of what needs to be done and that is all that matters.”

    “How dare you take that insolent tone with me!” Bellatrix exclaimed.

    Lucius took a threatening step forward as he hissed, “How dare you come into my home demanding that I relay private information to you! You know full well that I do not disclose information that is between the Dark Lord and myself; to do so would mean death.”

    “Are you telling me that you are refusing to follow the Dark Lord’s orders by not telling me of your progress?”

    “I am following his orders! Should he want to be informed of my progress on the matter, then he will call me directly to him!”

 

 





 

 

    “Hermione. Hermione!”

    Hermione’s eyes flew open. Draco was sitting on her bed, his hands gripped around her arms, shaking her slightly. His eyes were focused on her with concern as she fixed her stare on him.

    It was obvious that something wasn’t right. Hermione was shaking and pale as a sheet. There was also a slightly wild look in her eyes and a light sheen of sweat dampening her brow. He cautiously touched her cheek and spoke softly. “Hermione, are you all right?”

    She took several calming breaths and nodded as she shoved a bit of hair out of her face. “Yes, yes, I’m okay now.”

    Draco scrutinized her for a moment. “No, you’re not,” he said, “You’re shaking like a leaf.”

    Hermione pulled away from him and went into her bathroom. “I had a bad dream,” she told him after wiping her face with a wet cloth, “Nothing to worry about.”

    When she turned around, Draco was leaning against the frame of her bathroom door, watching her with his perceptive gray eyes. “I thought we agreed not to keep things from each other.”

    She leaned back against the sink and tucked her hair behind her ears. “We did, and I’m not…”

    Draco fixed her with a classic Malfoy glare. “You’re a horrible liar, Hermione.”

    She glared back at him. “I’m not lying! I’m just not ready to discuss it.”

    As much as he wanted to get her to open up, he knew that pushing her would only cause what little progress they had made together to go in reverse. He didn’t want that. He needed her to trust him. He sighed softly. “I’m sorry,” he said, holding his hand out to her, “Come, let’s get you back to bed.”

    She cautiously took his hand and allowed him to lead her back to her bed. “I’m just worried about you,” he said after a moment, “I mean, one moment I’m sound asleep and the next I’m being woken by your screams.”

    “I’m sorry I woke you,” she apologized as Draco pulled her covers back and patted the bed. She climbed in and made herself comfortable.

    Draco tugged the covers over her and sat down on the end of her bed. “It sounded like one hell of a nightmare the way you were screaming. It sounded like you were in pain.”

    Hermione rubbed her temples. She knew exactly why she’d sounded like she was in pain. Her head felt like it was going to explode, especially right behind her eyes. She thought for a moment about whether, or not, she should tell him about that. In the end, she decided that no harm could come of her telling him. “I’ve been getting a sharp pain behind my eyes every now and then,” she confessed, “It’s rather debilitating and not at all pleasant.”

    “And that’s why you were screaming?”

    She nodded. “Mostly.”

    “And you’re sure you don’t want to tell me about your nightmare?”

    Hermione shook her head. “It was just a nightmare, Draco, a childish thing really,” she told him, taking his hand, “Thank you for your concern.”

    Draco squeezed her hand. “Very well. Can I at least get you a cup of tea, or something to help with the pain?”

    “I’ll be fine,” she assured him, “The pain is already going away.”

    He brushed her cheek with a finger. “Well, your color’s coming back so that’s a good sign.” He sighed and kissed her knuckles. “All right, if you’re certain you’re all right, I’ll let you get back to sleep.”

    “Thank you.”

    “But if this pain continues, perhaps you should speak to Professor Dumbledore about it. Or Madame Pomfrey.”

    Hermione snuggled deeper into the bed and pulled her hand from his. “I’ll think about it.”

    “Hermione…”

    “Draco, I’m tired. Can we please drop this for the time being?”

    “Of course,” he said, standing to take his leave. He hesitated for a moment then leaned down and kissed her forehead.

    Hermione was touched by the sweet gesture. She watched as he walked to her door. He was a constant surprise to her. Just when she thought she had some idea of who he was, he would do something so unexpected that she would have to re-evaluate what she knew about him.

    This gentle, caring side of him was something she was sure very few, if any, people were allowed to see. The fact that he was showing it to her was a clear sign that he was starting to let his guard down around her; something she knew she was going to have to do as well if they were going to work as a couple.

    Before he left her bedroom, he turned to look at her. “If you need anything…”

    Hermione nodded. “I’ll let you know.”

    Draco gave her a small smile and turned off her light as he left the room. He closed the door and made his way to his own bedroom. As he walked, his mind replayed what he’d seen when he first walked in to check on her.

    Hermione had been thrashing about, screaming. It was similar to someone being tortured by the Cruciatus curse. Painful to hear, but even more disturbing to see. Certainly not something he wished to see Hermione going through.

    Having seen what he did, Draco was positive that Hermione was holding something back from him. He didn’t blame her, though. They were still learning to trust each other so it was understandable that she wasn’t comfortable disclosing such personal information as what she’d seen in a dream. Or a nightmare as it were, he corrected himself. However, he wasn’t so sure that she’d been having a nightmare. It seemed bigger than that.

    He ran his hands over his face as he sat down on his bed with a loud sigh. Gaining her trust was something that he knew would take time, but time wasn’t something he had a whole lot of. The Dark Lord was not a patient man and if he didn’t gain some ground soon, he was going to end up on the receiving end of the Cruciatus curse…

    Or worse.

 

 





 

 

    As six o’clock rolled around, Draco willed himself out of bed and trudged over to his bathroom. He showered and dressed for lessons then walked down to the common room to wait for Hermione. His wait wasn’t long for she came down just a half hour after he did. “Good morning,” he said sleepily, “did you sleep well?”

    “Not at all,” Hermione replied. “Though, from the looks of it, you didn’t either.”

    Hermione looked him over and noticed that there were dark circles under his eyes that stood out fairly distinctly from his pale skin. “You were up all night, weren’t you?”

    “Hermione, please don’t make a fuss. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep during my free periods so please; just leave it.”

    Hermione narrowed her eyes slightly in contemplation and then nodded. “Well, your grumpiness certainly leaves something to be desired but I think a spot of breakfast will help a bit with that.”

    The two walked down to breakfast together in a comfortable silence and then parted ways once they reached the Great Hall. Hermione, being very hungry, hurried over to the Gryffindor table and joined Harry, Ron, and Ginny. “Morning,” she greeted.

    “Malfoy’s not joining us?” Ginny asked.

    Hermione shook her head. “He’s got his friends, and I have mine,” she replied simply. “Besides, he’s a bit on edge this morning so he’s not the best company.”

    Ron raised an eyebrow and asked, “Is he ever good company?”

    Ginny elbowed him harshly while Hermione gave him a harsh look. “Well he hasn’t really spent any time with any of us so how are we supposed to know?” Ron questioned defensively.

    “Ron’s got a point Hermione,” Harry chimed in. “We haven’t spent the past month and some odd weeks with him.”

    “Nor have I,” Hermione stated. “If I’ve spent the past month or more with anyone, it would be Blaise. I hardly saw Draco.”

    “And you haven’t seen us either,” Ginny said quietly. “We miss you, Hermione.”

    Hermione looked at Ginny apologetically and said, “I’m terribly sorry! I really haven’t been a very good friend lately, have I?”

    “Well, honestly, no,” Ginny replied. “But you have had quite a strange time lately.”

    “That’s no excuse for me not spending time with you,” Hermione retorted, completely ashamed of herself.

    Ginny and Harry looked at each other, nodded, then looked back at Hermione. “You can make it up to us tonight,” Harry told her. “Ron, Luna, Ginny, and I are going to the Room of Requirement for a bit after our last lesson of the day so that we can just spend some alone time… together.”

    “Why don’t you invite Draco and join us?”

    “Oi, I thought it was supposed to be just the five of us!” Ron countered.

    “Ron, if that were the case, then Hermione would be sort of the odd man out,” Ginny explained. “If Draco joins us then she won’t feel so out of place and it’ll give us a chance to get to know him a bit.”

    Ron sat chewing a bit of sausage quietly for a moment before nodding and saying, “Yeah, all right.”

    “What about Blaise?” Harry questioned.

    “Oh yes, I’d really like for you all to get to know him as well,” Hermione said with a bright smile, “he’s rather a fine fellow.”

    “He certainly cares for you, which makes him ok in my book,” Harry said with a nod.

    Hermione gave him a gracious smile and took a large bite out of a biscuit as Ginny asked, “So how are you and Draco getting along?”

    Before answering, Hermione swallowed and took a drink of pumpkin juice. “So far we’re getting along splendidly. In a way, it’s almost as if we never disliked each other at all.”

    “Don’t you find that odd?”

    Hermione furrowed her brow slightly as she said, “I bit, I suppose. I mean; it’s strange seeing a new side of someone I thought I’d known for six years, but I find it more nice than odd, really.”

    “Well, I, for one, am glad that you’re not rushing things with Malfoy,” said Harry, “I think it’s good that you’re taking things slow, really getting to know each other before making any big decisions.”

    Hermione giggled. “Thank you, Harry. Could we talk about something else? What have you all been up to?”

    “Well, Ron and I have been practicing Quidditch quite a bit…”

    “Hold on… Who are you going to be routing for?” Ron asked, looking at Hermione expectantly.

    “What d’ you mean who is she going to route for?” Harry asked incredulously. “She’ll be rooting for Gryffindor, of course!”

    “I’ll be cheering for both Gryffindor and Slytherin,” Hermione stated.

    “What?!” Harry and Ron exclaimed together.

    “Hermione, you can’t cheer on both teams!” Ron exclaimed, “It’s just not right. You have to choose!”

    Hermione rolled her eyes and put her fork down on her plate. “I will not choose between my best friends’ team and my fiancé’s team!” she stated sternly. “That’s like asking me to choose between Arithmancy and Ancient Runes; impossible! I can cheer for both teams and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

    Ginny cleared her throat and said, “Speaking of Slytherins, your brother’s trying to get your attention.”

    She nodded over to where Blaise was standing and Hermione turned to look at him. Blaise smiled weakly at her and then waved his hand in a manner that told her to go over to him. “Would you excuse me for a moment?” Hermione asked, looking at her friends.

    She then stood up and walked over to Blaise with a questioning look on her face. “Is something wrong?” she asked.

    “Oh, no… I just wanted to say ‘hi’,” Blaise replied.

    Hermione shook her head and giggled softly. “And you had to make me walk over here just for that?”

    Blaise bit his bottom lip and said, “I wasn’t sure that I should go over to you. I know your friends don’t like me so…”

    Hermione raised an eyebrow and smirked as she said, “Perhaps you should give them a chance?”

    “Perhaps,” Blaise replied.

    “We’re getting together in the Room of Requirement after final lessons today; join us.”

    “Are you sure I should?”

    Hermione placed a hand on his arm and pleaded with him lightly. “Please join us, Blaise, let my friends get to know the real you.”

    “All right, but only if Draco comes too,” Blaise agreed.

    “I don’t have time to ask him, would you mind?”

    Blaise nodded. “I’ll ask him, but I feel that he’d be much more inclined to accept the invitation if it came from you.”

    Hermione jumped a bit and hugged Blaise around the neck. “Thank you!” she said, “I’ll ask him then. Can you tell him I need to speak with him later? Perhaps after his second lesson?”

    “Sure, I can do that,” Blaise said with a laugh at her excitement, hugging Hermione around the waist. “Um, maybe we should ask your friends to help us figure out my nightmares?”

    “Have you had another one?”

    “Yes, but let’s not talk about it just now. I’ll come find you after we get out time tables and we’ll figure out a time to talk about it, all right?”

    Hermione nodded her head as she said, “I’ve got something to talk to you about too.”

    “Another vision?”

    “Of Lucius Malfoy,” Hermione whispered.

    Blaise glanced over at the Slytherin table where Draco was sitting. “Have you told Draco about any of this?”

    “I told him I’d had a nightmare and that I’ve been having pain behind my eyes,” she answered, “He found me screaming and in pain; I had to tell him something.”

    “And you swear he knows nothing of my nightmares?”

    “Blaise, you have my word that he doesn’t. And he won’t until you’re ready for him to know.”

    Just then, Blaise’s stomach gave a loud rumble. “Very well then, I should go eat before my stomach gets angry with me,” he said with a chuckle.

    He kissed Hermione on the cheek quickly and then hurried off to join Draco and the rest of his friends for breakfast. “You all right, Blaise?” Draco asked as Blaise sat down next to him. “You look like hell.”

    Blaise shrugged as he began pulling food towards him and piling it onto his plate. “I didn’t sleep very well and by the looks of it, neither did you.”

    Draco yawned as he replied, “I didn’t sleep but a few hours last night; Hermione woke me up screaming.”

    “Yeah, she just told me,” Blaise mentioned, “I’m sorry you didn’t sleep.”

    Draco shrugged. “I’ll get some sleep during our free periods. Pansy’s coming,” he whispered with a grimace, “We’ll talk later.”

    Pansy sauntered over and sat down across from them. She smiled flirtatiously at Draco and quickly noticed the dark circles under his eyes. “My goodness, Draco; you look like you haven’t slept in days!” she exclaimed. “Did that blasted twit fiancée of yours keep you up all night lecturing you about some silly thing?”

    Draco snarled at her as he dropped his fork onto his plate loudly. “Did you just call my fiancée a twit?” he asked dangerously.

    Pansy smirked and pulled a fresh bowl of eggs toward her. “Oh Draco, you don’t have to be honorable here,” she said, “Your father’s not here keeping an eye on you; you’re free to show your true feelings about her.”

    Draco’s body went rigid with anger, as did Blaise’s beside him, and his eyes narrowed coolly on Pansy’s smug face. “I think you’re confused, Pansy,” he said through gritted teeth.

    “Please,” Pansy said with a small huff, “you said yourself at Zabini Mansion that you were under orders to respect and honor that prissy harlot.”

    Blaise started to stand up but Draco grabbed him by the arm and yanked him back down. “See, now the only prissy harlot I remember destroyed everything in sight at Hermione and Blaise’s birthday,” he retorted, “Now, I wonder who that could have been… Oh right, it was you.”

    Pansy gasped slightly and poked her bottom lip out. “I’ve apologized for that.”

    “Only because you wanted to get back in my good graces; which will never happen by the way.”

    “Draco, I…”

    “Get over yourself, Pansy,” Draco interrupted. “I’m marrying Hermione and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”

    Pansy took a bite of her breakfast before smugly saying, “Oh but you see, I’m already doing something about it. My father told me yesterday morning that he’s positive that your father has almost changed his mind about your engagement arrangement.”

    Draco was taken aback by those words. “Lucius Malfoy would never change his mind about Draco’s betrothal to Hermione,” Blaise stated angrily.

    Pansy looked at him with a bored expression as she said, “Then apparently you don’t know Lucius as well as you thought you did, Blaise.”

    Suddenly, Draco snapped. “You’re the one who doesn’t know my father, Parkinson! There’s not a chance that your father could convince him to break my betrothal to Hermione and on the very slight chance he does…” he stood up and leaned across the table, nearly getting nose to nose with her, “I would still marry Hermione.”

    Pansy’s face screwed up in anger as she raised her hand to slap him. Before she made contact with his cheek however, Draco grabbed her wrist and gave her a look that dared her to try it again. Pansy knew that look so she yanked her wrist out of his hand and picked up her goblet. Instead of raising it to her lips, she jerked it toward Draco, splashing its entire contents all over him.

    Draco sputtered momentarily before smirking and looking up slightly. “Good morning, Professor McGonagall,” he said.

    “Mr. Malfoy, I suggest you get yourself cleaned up; I’ll leave your timetable with Mr. Zabini,” Professor McGonagall told him. “As for you, Miss Parkinson, five points will be taken from Slytherin and should you behave in such a childish manner again, you shall receive a detention!”

    Professor handed out their course schedule, giving Blaise Draco’s as well as his own, she then gave Draco a stern look and said, “Mr. Malfoy, kindly be on your way, you’re dripping all over the table!”

    “Yes, Professor,” Draco said, picking up his napkin and drying himself off just enough so that he wasn’t dripping any more. He then climbed over the bench and stalked out of the Great Hall.

 

 





 

 

Meanwhile…

 

    As Hermione sat back down to breakfast, Harry looked at her questioningly. “Is Blaise all right? He doesn’t look so good.”

    “He’ll be just fine once he gets a bit of food into his stomach,” she replied. “He didn’t sleep well last night.”

    Ginny giggled. “That seems to be a reoccurring theme today.”

    “Uh-oh, looks like Pansy’s at it again,” Ron said quietly.

    Hermione and Ginny each rolled their eyes. “Honestly, what is it going to take for Pansy Parkinson to realize that Draco is never going to be with her?” Hermione questioned.

    “Knowing how thick she is it would probably take a whole lightning storm for her to understand anything,” Ginny replied with a giggle.

    Just then, Harry and Ron both gasped causing Hermione and Ginny to turn and look at them. “What is it?”

    “Pansy just splashed pumpkin juice all over Malfoy!” Ron exclaimed.

    Hermione turned to look at Draco and saw that he was dripping with the orange liquid and that he was smirking. That look is never good, she thought. She then realized exactly why he was smirking when she saw Professor McGonagall move in just behind Pansy.

    Moments later, Hermione, Ginny, Ron, and Harry were watching Draco storm out of the Great Hall. “Should I go after him?” Hermione asked in a whisper.

    “Probably not the best idea, Hermione,” Harry told her. “Malfoy looked really pissed.”

    “Perhaps just talking to him about it later would be better,” Ginny agreed, “Give him some time to cool off.”

    Hermione nodded in agreement and continued eating her breakfast. I’ll just talk to him when I go up to get my book, she thought. I’ve got to admit, I’m very curious to know what he said to make Pansy so angry.

    “Um, Hermione?”

    Hermione turned and smiled at her brother. “Yes?”

    “Have you gotten your time table yet?” Blaise asked.

    Hermione cleared her throat before taking a drink of her pumpkin juice. “Oh, yes,” she replied. “I’ve got Arithmancy at nine and then I have a free period until lunch.”

    “I’ve got Transfiguration first, then a free period. Can we talk then?”

    “Of course,” Hermione told him. She then looked at Harry, Ron, and Ginny. “I should really go check on Draco now. I’ll see you two in class and Ginny; I’ll see you at lunch.”

    “Hermione, Draco’s really angry,” Blaise told her, “I wouldn’t press him about anything just now.”

    “I’m not going to press him; I just want to make sure he’s okay.”

    Blaise chuckled as Hermione stood up and began walking toward the doors of the Great Hall. “He can handle Pansy any day,” he told her as he fell into step with her. “Lack of sleep just makes him lose his temper with her a bit sooner than normal.”

    “What exactly did she say to him to make him so angry?”

    “The same thing she always does… she insulted you.”

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