Hermione woke at 6.30 on Monday morning, finally ready for what the day was to dish out to her. Working with Malfoy. If she was going to fail for any reason it would be because of him. She had spent her weekend discovering Manchester. She went shopping for new clothes and shoes and explored the many magical lanes and shops. She often glanced behind her – for some reason she always thought she could see someone following her; she even glimpsed her chequered stalker a couple of times. But there was also others following her. Men dressed in black flowing cloaks but every time she turned to see them they were gone or an old lady suddenly stood where she saw them. She was being followed.
She showered and dressed in her black track pants and a tight navy blue singlet. She put a tee-shirt over the top and was ready to leave. She pulled the small golden key and the chain out from under her shirt and fitted it into the lock of her front door. It unlocked and she stepped into the golden glimmering atrium. The walls shone bright with the early morning sun bouncing off them and the particles in the air floated through the rays of sunlight that illuminated the room. Hermione spotted everyone standing in the middle of the room looking much more hesitant. They weren’t dressed fancily like they were last Friday, but were dressed in exercise clothes. One girl who she remembered to be a third year was dressed in a skirt and a much worn tee-shirt with holes that looked as though they had been burnt into it. Everyone looked very sleepy. Hermione glanced at her watch and read the time to be 8.00 - time for everything to start. Suddenly a large group of people walked into the atrium. The man standing in the front now addressed the group of students. He was tall and bulky with a loud booming voice.
“Third years proceed to room 7, second years to room 3.” he ordered and more than half of the students move off down hidden passage ways as well as four of the people who she assumed to be the teachers. Now only the first years stood in the atrium. They were left with the large man, a short stumpy man with a white sticky-outy beard and moustache and a tall skinny woman with the biggest nose Hermione had ever seen. Hermione now noticed Malfoy at the back of the group standing next to the tall blonde girl again. No matter what he wore he still looked like a million galleons. Plain black trousers with a plain white sweatshirt. It revealed the lean figure that you never can notice when people are wearing robes. Now the tall man ordered their attention just as Constance came to stand next to Hermione.
“First years, welcome to the Manchester Department of Auror Education. I will now call out your partners and I ask you to assemble as I call them out. Stratford and McFie. Grey and Weston. Evans and . . .” Now people were moving in and out of the small group to get to their partners. Constance had moved off already to stand with a man who went by the name of Weston, so obviously her last name was Grey. “Malfoy and Granger.” Hermione decided to move over next to Malfoy who just ignored her. By this time everyone was in pairs and now the woman with the large nose stepped forward. She was very skinny and seemed almost frail. She wore a long flowing silvery dress with a blue crochet shawl over her shoulders. But when she spoke her voice was harsh and demanding.
“Now listen here. For the next week you will all be tested both mentally and physically. This is a process to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Anyone who we feel is not up to standards and has no chance of improving to our standards will be dismissed immediately. You can all call me Professor Lawry. This is Professor Killick (pointing to the large man) and this is Professor Merritt (pointing to the little guy). Now follow me and your training will commence.” and so she turned on her heel and with Killick and Merritt proceeded down a hall way to the right of the hall doors.
**Draco and Hermione’s P.O.V.**
The old bird took them all down some dark hallway which was lit dimly by candles and they stopped in front of a large, wooden, black door. The midget was now talking.
“Inside this room you will have to work together in your partners to defeat whatever problems come your way. Get to the end with your partner. That is the simple task that we ask of you. Don’t come to the finish line without your partner or you won’t have finished the course. Good luck.” Draco huffed. ‘Great. Now I’ve got to work with the Mudblood Granger!’ She was standing beside him, but he hadn’t bothered to take any notice of her yet. He glanced sideways at her. She was shorter than him, only just. Her hair pulled back into a tight pony tail, smooth and sleek where it was pulled back but frizzy onwards from the base of the ponytail. She wore simple black track pants and joggers as well as a blue tee-shirt. Simple and tidy just the way Draco liked it. Not that he cared what she wore . . . after all . . . she was still a Mudblood! Right?
“Come on.” she said as she made her way through the door with the rest of the people. He eventually followed through the door pushing some girl out of the way so he could walk through first – not bumping into anyone. The room was dark - pitch black in fact. He couldn’t see anything – not the walls or the roof or . . . anything. He had to find Granger if he was to complete this thing.
“Granger, where are you?” he hissed into the dark
“I’m here!” came a voice from behind him. he turned around and started to walk towards where he head her voice, when he ran smack bang into her and knocked her down. He couldn’t help but laugh – even though he hadn’t seen it, he imagined that it was funny! She was on the floor. ‘Just where she belongs in front of me!’
“Lumos” he whispered. The light from the tip of his wand illuminated only a small amount of the room in front of him. He could see her on the ground just getting up.
“Don’t help or anything! Where are we? Hang on . . . where’s everyone else?” She had gotten up and also muttered the light charm and began to walk around the room but couldn’t find any walls, just pure darkness. Draco also walked around the room trying to find a door, but none was to be found, not even the one they had come through to begin with. They wandered around in the darkness occasionally looking back to see the other persons light. Draco wandered around a little longer but kept thinking ‘This is pointless!’ - but suddenly he met with some sort of material – soft and thick but suddenly an ear piercing scream lit the air and he turned to see the light from Hermione’s wand on the ground, which meant she had dropped it, but then where is she? The room suddenly came to life with the light from about a hundred balls of fire floating in the air way above their heads. When Draco had seen the balls he looked up. They seemed spectacular with the flames changing colours from red to green to blue but he was pulled away from the dancing flames remembering her scream. He brought his gaze back down from the roof to be met with the material only now he could see it for what it was. It was a black cloak and the one wearing it was hooded with his face shrouded in darkness. Draco stumbled backwards away from the figure and now he could see that they were surrounded by these cloaked figures in a circle of about two dozen, all with their wands at hand. He looked for Granger and found her struggling in one of persons grips – she’d obviously run into one in the dark as well. He let her go all of a sudden and she fell backwards and shuffled across the ground towards Draco. She got up and was now standing beside him. He ‘Accio’d’ her wand and caught it firmly in his grip.
“Will you be needing this?” he held out her wand to her and she tried to snatch it from him but he held it firm, only for a moment then let it go. There was no small talk with the cloaked figures and the curses started flying as the cloaked figures advanced on Draco and Hermione. The stunning curses swept by as they ducked and dodged out of the way – one whisking straight across the end of Hermione’s ponytail, burning and singeing her hair. The room was light enough to see the walls now and over in the corner Draco could see a door, he didn’t care where it went as long as it got them out of this one-sided battle.
“Granger! There!” he pointed to the door and she took notice and started to make her way to it but there was one problem. Them. The advancing figures, but now it was time to fight back. They just needed to clear their path to the door.
“Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy” Hermione shot at some of the people and they fell to the floor unconscious and on her left Draco did the same and two others fell to the floor, but there was still so many of them. One of the figures to Hermione’s right yelled the disarming charm and her wand flew out of her hand into the offender’s hand. She was stuck now. The curses kept flying her way and she was forced to duck from them. She had to get her wand back! She ran full pelt at the person with her wand and before he could get a spell at her she had tackled him to the ground. Draco only just saw this event from the corner of his eye but he was mildly impressed by her guts. While he was looking at her one of the people sent a line of fire at him with the ‘flagrate’ charm and his clothes were caught alight. He was caught off guard at first but put it out with some water from the tip of his wand. He cast the Impediment Jinx at the few oncoming attackers and ran straight for the door. Now he was only waiting on Granger.
Hermione was rolling on the ground with the attacker who was holding her wand just out of reach. She pulled her elbow high and brought it down on his cheek. In his pain he had dropped her wand on the ground beside them, now all she had to do was reach it. She tried to roll off him towards her wand but he grabbed her before she could get off and dug his nails into her face and arm. He had the longest nails she had ever known for a man. She wriggled to get away but as she did his nails dragged along her skin, ripping into it. She used her final weapon and brought her knee down - HARD - into his groin. He cried out in pain and she was able to get away. She grabbed her wand and immediately stunned him. She ran for the door where Draco was already standing firing every spell he could think of at the attackers. She reached the door and they both ran through and she locked it with a flick of her wand, yelling ‘colloportus’, sealing it with a squelching noise. They had done it! They had worked together to get past the attackers. They looked at each other quickly. He was a mess. The left side of his shirt had been burnt back to his neckline and some of his left arm was burnt as well.
“Are you ok?” she asked as she seized the arm and began to examine it. He gasped as she took it but he yanked it out of her reach.
“I’m fine.” he said as he held his arm close. He looked her over. She had something like claw marks down her cheek and down her left arm, cutting into her shirt, but other than that she looked fine. Draco was quite shocked when she proceeded to take her tee-shirt off but was grateful ‘or was it disappointed?’ when it revealed the light blue strap-top underneath. He had never seen her like this, she was . . . lean. The strap-top hugged her form perfectly as it outlined her breasts all the way down her waist to her hips. She tried - but couldn’t - rip up the shirt and she let out a little moan as she revealed a gash on the inside of her palm. He took the shirt from her and began ripping it into strips which he then wrapped around her hand and upper arm. He tried to wrap some around his arm but was unsuccessful. She reached up to help but he pulled away.
“Would you just let me help?” she yelled in frustration. It was amusing to see her angry but he decided he’d rather finish this trial, so he surrendered his arm and the makeshift bandage. She wrapped it up – tight! Just to watch him wince as he tried to remain calm. This was something she enjoyed but it seemed Draco Malfoy had filled out just a little as well. He was still tall and skinny but she could see his muscles tense when he winced from the pain. She made sure she got her share of touching but pulled away not to make it obvious. ‘After all – he’s Malfoy!’ Once his arm was wrapped up tight they decided to go on. Hermione turned around to face the next part of the test and there in front of her lay Harry, her parents, Ron, Ginny and all the Weasley’s – Dead.
Authors Note: Well, it turns out that this testing part was a bit longer to write than I first anticipated – so I’ve split it into two chapters. Please review – I love it when you do!
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