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"How'd you managed to talk them into moving you?" Harry asked.

"I pointed out that there are other ways to travel than floo powder." Hermione laughed. "They're sorting out a car. I hope you don't mind, but I've invited myself to stay at Grimmauld Place."

Harry grinned. "That'll be great!"

"Thanks Harry." Hermione sighed.

"Hey, what's wrong?" Harry asked, twirling his wand between his fingers. "You're not really worried about these people finding you, are you? Ron and I have it under control!"

"No, Harry. I'm not worried about that." Hermione said.

"Well then what is it?" Harry pressed. "Is you side hurting?"

"No, Harry." Hermione said, sounding exasperated. "Don't worry about it!"

"You know you can trust me, right?" Harry said softly.

"What makes you think I don't?" Hermione asked, after a moment.

"Because you haven't told me what's going on between you and Malfoy." Harry said, fidgeting with his auror bars.

"What makes you think there's something going on?" Hermione whispered.

"Look, Ron might have the emotional range of a teaspoon," Harry said, "But I don't. When you disappeared, Draco was like a mad man. He didn't sleep, barely ate. He told us about every death eater safe house and possible hideout he could think of, information he could have used to his advantage later on.”

“Well, he is trying to get off probation.” Hermione suggested.

“Yes, but I don’t really see that as his motivation.” Harry explained. “The guy has feelings for you.”

Hermione studied the sleeve of her black robe intently, not wanting to respond.

“Am I wrong?” Harry asked gently.

“No.” Hermione whispered. “No, you’re not wrong.”

“I didn’t think so.” Harry said with a smirk.

“Oh, don’t look at me like that.” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “Tell me what you really want to say.”

“You should be careful.” Harry said, and shrugged. “The guy isn’t exactly… stable.”

“What is that supposed to mean.” Hermione exclaimed.

“It means exactly that.” Harry said seriously. “Hermione, he's a Death Eater.”

“I know that!” Hermione cried.

“Ok, well… how much has he told you about what he did during the war?” Harry asked.

“We haven’t gone into explicit detail.” Hermione admitted, “But I know he regrets the things he did. He’s really struggling with it.”

“People don’t just stop being Death Eaters ‘Mione.” Harry said sadly. “I’m the one handing Malfoy’s probation. It’s part of my training. I know his crimes better than anyone.”

“Harry. There is some good in Draco!” Hermione insisted. “Maybe it’s only a tiny bit, and maybe it’s buried deep down where only I can see it… but it’s there. What if someone had loved Riddle, when he needed it most? The whole world could be different!”

Harry absorbed what Hermione had said. “If someone had loved Riddle? Do you love Malfoy?”

“It’s my business if I do.” Hermione said, clamming up.

“Ok.” Harry said, turning his attention back to the door.

Draco sat staring over the water of the Thames in Muggle London. I’m screwed. Either the ministry catches me and I end up in Azkaban, or I’m a dead man.

“Malfoy.” Came a voice from over Draco’s left shoulder.

“Yaxley.” Draco responded coldly. “What do you want?”

“I’m just working on a few of the contingency plans, and I was wondering why you hadn’t reached out to us.” Yaxley said, leaning against the railing at the edge of the water.

“I’m sure you’re quite aware of the fact that I have the ministry breathing down my neck.” Draco snapped. “If I play their games for the rest of the year I can go about my business without their meddling.”

“A little birdie told me you’ve been playing their games rather well.” Yaxley hissed. “That it was you who let the Aurors into your own home, and lead to the capture of the Lestrange Brothers. What would your Aunt think of that? What would your father?”

“My father is the one who taught me how to watch my own back.” Draco said, his voice dripping with distain. “He wouldn’t expect me to throw away the Malfoy name and fortune because those idiots decided they could trespass on my property. The Aurors agreed to lessen my probation in exchange for information. How else do you think I was able to meet you today?”

"Still, you've made this more challenging for us." Yaxley insisted. "We had Hermione Granger as our prisoner, and now we have nothing."

"So typical of you Yaxley." Draco said dryly. "Going after the small fish. It's Potter we want, and thanks to me, you know exactly where he's going to be for the next few days. Why bother with Granger, when killing Potter will throw the wizarding world into chaos?"

"You Malfoy's always did have monstrous egos." Yaxley drawled.

"Say what you want Yaxley." Draco said, rolling his eyes. "Your opinion means little to me, I'm playing the long game here."

"Then we'll see you at the next meeting?" Yaxley insisted.

"If I can get away without suspicion." Draco said. "They trust me now, and we have no one inside."

"I'll be in touch." Yaxley said, and then chuckled. "Have fun at school."

Draco made a rude gesture to Yaxley as he left, still laughing.

Once he was gone, Draco let out a sigh of relief. I can't believe I made it out of that alive.

He stared out over the water for another hour or so, trying to decide what to do next. He didn't want to return to the hospital and put Hermione at risk. She'd be mad, but hopefully she would understand. He'd violated his probation by meeting with Yaxley, so he'd need to figure out his next step to avoid Azkaban.

He was still trying to decide what to do, when he heard someone else approaching him from behind. "Can't a guy get a little privacy?" He turned around expecting Yaxley again but instead found Ron Weasley and another Auror standing behind him.

"Hey Malfoy." Ron said awkwardly.

“Weasley?" Draco said in response.

"Kingsley wants us to bring you in." Ron explained.

"I'm just minding my own business Weasley." Draco argued.

"Come on Draco.” Ron said, "You're technically in violation of your probation by being out of school anyway."

"Sure, but I've technically been violating my probation all week." Draco shrugged. "It didn't seem to matter then."

"Well, there have been some developments." Ron said. "And Kingsley has some questions."

"Well, I'm trying to get him some information." Draco said, scuffing the toe of his black shoe in the dirt. "That's why I came out here, I needed to meet with Yaxley. You lot need someone on the inside if we're going to finish this thing."

"Ok, well... thanks?" Ron said, uncertainly. "I'm meant to bring you to St. Mungo's, but I think maybe we should go to headquarters."

"Just as long as you're not throwing me in Azkaban, I'll go wherever you want me to." Draco said, sounding relieved.

"Ok, well… let’s just portkey then.” The unnamed Auror said, sounding surprised.

Draco nodded, and the Auror pulled an old length of rope out of his pocket. They all grabbed hold of it and were whisked directly into the Ministry of Magic.

Draco followed Ron into Kingsley’s now familiar office, and Kingsley looked up in surprise. “Weasley, I told you to take him directly to St. Mungo’s!”

“Yes, well… let me explain.” Ron said, filling Kingsley in on Draco’s odd behaviour.

“Very well Weasley, dismissed.” Kingsley said with a sigh. “Have a seat Mr. Malfoy.”

Once Ron was out of the room, Kingsley appraised Draco’s temperament. “Hermione is rather worried about you.”

“She doesn’t need to concern herself.” Draco said, looking at the floor.

“Well, regardless, you know Hermione. That’s easier said than done.” Kingsley pointed out. “I also have some things to discuss with you but, to be frank, I’m concerned that you’re a danger to yourself.”

“Why?” Draco said, being careful to control his tone. “I haven’t done any Dark Magic since we got Hermione back.”

“I’m aware of that.” Kingsley said. “I’m also aware of the fact that you’re suffering withdrawals.”

“I’m fine.” Draco snapped, with a twitch.

“Yeah, that’s not really convincing me.” Kingsley said, shaking his head. “Now I know that your desire to change is largely rooted in your feelings for Hermione.”

Draco’s head shot up, “We were trying to keep that private.”

“I’m aware.” Kingsley said. “But I’m also aware that because of your feelings for her you would never, say, let your father out of Azkaban.” He passed Draco a copy of the Daily Prophet.

Draco’s pale skin turned white as he read the headline. “This… this can’t be true? He hasn’t escaped?!”

“No, he hasn’t.” Kingsley reassured Draco. “However someone out there is toying with us, causing the public to panic, and blaming you for the lot of it. There’s been a threat on Hermione’s life.”

“What? No… there can’t be. You have to stop them!” Draco couldn’t form a coherent thought. “It’s Yaxley, he’s trying to find out who I’m loyal to.”

“Is that what he discussed with you when he met?” Kingsley pressed.

“In so many words.” Draco said, getting up and pacing the room. “Do you have someone watching her? She can’t be moved yet, who is guarding her?”

“It’s ok Draco, she’s being looked after by Potter, until we get her moved.” Kingsley said, looking at his watch. “Which incidentally, is happening in about 10 minutes.”

“You’re moving her now?” Draco hissed. “I don’t care what she’s told you, she is not strong enough to use the floo or apperate yet!”

“Relax Draco, we’re moving her by muggle transport.” Kingsley reassured him. “We’ve gotten a muggle emergency vehicle, she won’t even need to get out of bed.”

“Where are you moving her to, you won’t make it far using muggle transport!” Draco exclaimed.

“We’re taking her to a safe house.” Kingsley said. “Which I can’t tell you about because it’s under a Fidelius charm, and I’m not the secret keeper.”

“Yaxley thinks I’m helping him.” Draco sighed. “I can’t even go help move her, I can’t let them think I know where she’s going.”

“Why did you meet with Yaxley?” Kingsley asked. “It’s a pretty clear violation of your probation.”

“Well, I figured it was my only shot at making him think I’m still on their side.” Draco explained. “Hermione’s kidnapping was my fault, and if I’m going to stop that kind of thing from happening again, I need inside information!”

“Draco, I fail to see how any of this was your fault.” Kingsley said, “That’s just your depression talking.”

“I’m not depressed!” Draco snapped, “I’m angry! I’m stressed! I feel like my skin is crawling! The one person who can make all of that go away is lying in hospital because I let her go and fight a battle that I knew would end in disaster. But I’m not depressed!”

“You know you couldn’t have stopped Hermione from going out there.” Kingsley sighed. “And you know she would hate that you’re blaming yourself.”

“Well Hermione doesn’t seem to comprehend who she’s dating.” Draco mumbled.

“Well, that’s between the two of you,” Kingsley said. “But I’ll just throw it out there, that I wouldn’t try and stop Hermione from doing something and end up on the other end of her wand.”

“Yeah, she can be pretty scary when she wants to be.” Draco admitted, with a small smile.

“Very true.” Kingsley laughed. “I seem to remember a story about her punching you when you were younger, 11 or 12?”

“No, we would’ve been 13.” Draco laughed. “It was third year. She got me right in the nose. She has a good punch too.”

“I don’t think I need to tell you to be careful,” Kingsley said, “But I’m going to say it anyway. She's beloved, by her friends as well as the rest of the Wizarding World. Hurting her… it wouldn’t end well for you.”

“Yes, I know.” Draco sighed. “That’s why I’m going to take myself out of the picture. Put me undercover with Yaxley, and I’ll feed you information. I just want her to be safe, and she won’t be while they’re out there loose.”

“A noble plan.” Kingsley said, rubbing his chin. “But unfortunately, in order for it to work, you would need to finish school and your probation. Keep up appearances. Being a double agent is about meticulous detail, and it’s not something to be taken lightly.”

“Well I can’t just do nothing!” Draco snapped.

“For the moment, you’ll have to.” Kingsley explained. “I want you to get past these withdrawals. You need to get checked out by a healer, and I don’t want you put into any high stress situations.”

“What could a healer possibly tell me.” Draco argued. “Withdrawals aren’t exactly something you can cure with a potion.”

“You’re right.” Kingsley nodded. “But we might be able to do something about the symptoms, the headaches for example.”

Draco sighed. It’s for Hermione, it’s for Hermione. He repeated it in his head like a mantra.

“You need to write to Hermione at the very least.” Kingsley continued. “She’s worried about you, and that won’t help her recovery.”

“How did she take it when you told her about the Death Threat?” Draco asked softly.

“To be perfectly honest, she’s more worried about you.” Kingsley explained. “She seems to think that Death Threats are rather routine.”

“Well, if you’re not going to let me work undercover, I’d rather be protecting her myself.” Draco sighed.

“Well, that will be up to Professor McGonagall.” Kingsley said. “Your probation still requires you to finish school. Why don’t you go see our Healer in the first aid room at the back of the department. If he gives you the all clear, you can go and speak to Minerva and see if she’ll let you out for a bit longer.”

“I still say this is more obvious than just changing my hair color.” Hermione argued, as Harry handed her his invisibility cloak.

“We want anyone staking out the Hospital to think that a wizard is being transferred from a Muggle hospital, not the other way around.” Harry explained.

They were going to have an Auror fake an injury and be brought in by befuddled muggle paramedics. Then they were going to put Hermione on the stretcher, and cover her in the cloak to take her back out.

“Yes, but Polyjuice potion would make it completely unnecessary.” Hermione pointed out.

“Miss Granger, did you forget once again that you have a rather large, newly healed hole in your abdomen?” Healer Murphy chastised. “I was going to allow you one hour a day to be out of bed, but I’ll keep you on total bedrest if you don’t yet comprehend the seriousness of your injury.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. Her side ached all the time, and there was no possibility of her forgetting about it. She just had more pressing concerns at the moment.

“They’re here.” Ron said, coming into the room.

A moment later, two paramedics hurried in with a stretcher, and a rather amused looking Auror Trainee. Harry quickly closed the door, and brought out a flask of polyjuice potion. He and Ron quickly drank the potion, transforming themselves into lookalikes of the paramedics, and swapping clothes with them.

The other Trainee then took them back to Auror headquarters by portkey to have their memories modified.

At that point, Ron lifted Hermione off the hospital bed and onto the stretcher, and they tucked the cloak over her, hiding her from view.

They carefully moved the stretcher out of the hospital, and into the ambulance, where they befuddled the driver to take them to Grimmauld Place. After Ron quickly scooped up Hermione and ducked into the house, Harry sent the driver away to pick up the paramedics.

"Just put me down Ronald." Hermione said, exasperated. "I'll go sit in the living room!"

"You'll do no such thing!" Ron laughed. "Your Healer said specifically that you are to stay in bed!"

"And I'm going to tell Kreacher to make sure you stay there, so no funny business!" Harry said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed, "I've been in bed all week."

"Well, that's kind of the point of being in hospital." Ron said, as he carefully set Hermione down on the bed in her usual room.

"I'm not made of spun glass." She muttered, sitting up, and taking in the room.

"No one is saying that 'Mione." Ron said, sounding exasperated. "But if you don't keep still for a while you're never going to get better."

"Yeah, yeah." Hermione said, fluttering her hand as if to dismiss his comment. "I just want to get my memories back. I don't think that's going to happen sitting around in bed all day."

"Just give it time 'Mione." Ron sighed. "Do you want a book or something?"

"Are you leaving?" Hermione asked, surprised.

"Harry and I have to go Floo Kingsley and report." Ron explained. "And then it'll probably only be one of us here with you at a time."

Hermione nodded, and Ron hesitated before giving her a quick hug, and then slipping out of the room.

Harry had been living at Grimmauld Place for nearly six months, but other than removing the elf heads from their former place on the wall, he hadn't done much in the way of redecorating. Hermione looked around the familiar, dark space. It was odd to be here without Ginny taking up the other side of the room.

She let her thoughts drift to the beginning of the war when they had hidden out at Grimmauld while searching for Horcruxes. They'd been so naïve back then, despite everything they had endured over the years at Hogwarts.

Hermione realized she had tears running down her cheeks, and she pushed the dark thoughts out of her head. She was stressed, and worried about Draco, and in pain.

She dropped back down onto the pillow, and threw her arm over her eyes. Don't be silly, Draco is a strong Wizard. He's fine. But she didn't feel reassured.

Hermione wasn't sure how much time had passed, when there was a knock at the door.

"Come in." She called, her voice sounding a bit rough from crying.

Kingsley came into the room, and sat down in a chair opposite the bed. "How are you feeling? Nothing battered in the move?"

"I'm... I'm fine." Hermione said, sitting up and trying to smooth her hair.

"Excellent." Kingsley said. "Well, first things first. We've located Draco."

"You did!" Hermione cried. "Where is he?!"

Kingsley explained about Draco's meeting with Yaxley. "He was checked out by our department Healer, and I sent him to Hogwarts to check with Minerva about coming to stay here with you."

"You're going to let him stay here?" Hermione said, aghast.

"Yes, I can't spare as many Aurors as I would like to protect you." Kingsley explained. "Draco is technically still deputized as a member of the DMLE, so I can claim that he's here on assignment."

"And you want to be able to keep an eye on him." Hermione accused.

"You're too smart for your own good." Kingsley chuckled. "He's struggling Hermione. I want him somewhere he can't isolate himself."

Hermione nodded thoughtfully. "I'll keep an eye on him."

"I was hoping you'd say that." Kingsley said. "You know him better than anyone else."

"I'm not going to spy on him for you, but I will help him." Hermione said, looking poignantly at Kingsley.

Kingsley grinned. "Your moral compass is absolute Hermione. I'm going to make one last attempt to sway you, you're sure you won't join the department? You could catch up with this training group, no sweat. I know you and Harry taught most of them what they know anyway."

"I'm sorry Kingsley, but that's an option for me anymore." Hermione said quietly, and then explained about her susceptibility to the Cruciatis curse.

"I'm sorry, Hermione, I didn't know." Kingsley said. "Yes, you wouldn't pass the physical to be an Auror. But that doesn't mean there's not a place in the department for you. Have you ever thought of studying law?"

"Law?" Hermione asked, pondering the question. "I hadn't really thought about it."

"Well you should." Kingsley said. "Once we pick up the pieces a bit more, a lot of our laws are going to be rewritten. I can't think of anyone better to work on that project."

"I'll think about it." Hermione said, refusing to commit herself to anything.

"You do that." Kingsley said, seriously. "Now, down to business."

Kingsley carefully explained all the details of the protection detail assigned to Hermione, provided her with a panic button to push if she ever lost her wand and couldn't send a patronus. He explained that Healer Murphy would be escorted over twice a day to check on her, but other than the few people who already had been shown the house, no one else would be allowed inside the fidilious.

"Ugh, I'm going to go crazy here." Hermione sighed.

"I can't do anything to help with that." Kingsley chuckled. "Except remind you that there is a library on the 3rd floor."

"Oh right!" Hermione said, making to get out of bed. Kingsley was about to stop her, but as soon as her feet hit the floor, Kreacher appeared with a crack.

"Miss Hermione is not to get out of bed!" He hissed, "Is there something Kreacher can get for Miss?"

Kingsley chuckled. "Well, I see that you're in good hands Hermione, I'm going to go tie up some loose ends."

Hermione groaned, as Kreacher coaxed her back into bed. "Kreacher, I just wanted to go up to the Library."

"Master said that Miss is not to get out of bed until she is well!" Kreacher insisted. "Kreacher will bring Miss anything she needs."

"Okay. Can you bring me some books?" Hermione asked, softly. "Just a selection of anything, I don't really know what they have up there."

"Yes Miss!" Kreacher said. He snapped his fingers, and a large stack of books appeared on the bedside table. "Kreacher will have dinner ready soon." And with another crack, he disappeared.

Hermione was once again alone. She took a deep breath, and tried not to let the weight of the day drag her down. Looking through the stack of books, she was delighted to see that she had not yet read most of them, and that they were all books on Dark Magic.

She picked one up and settled in to read, realizing that if she was going to help Draco, she would need to know a lot more about Dark Magic than just how to defend against it.

Authors Note:

Sorry about the long wait for this chapter, I had the worst trouble with this one. I just felt like I had written myself into a corner, and I redid it about 3 times. I'm still not thrilled with it, but it got me to the next bit of the story... so I hope you enjoyed!

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