"Oh, no," Hermione said as she turned the snow globe of Buckingham Palace over in her hands.

She frowned around at her father's desk and then locked her eyes onto the wall it was up against. Dreaded realization dawned on her face and she set the snow globe back down from where she'd picked it up beside Gene's ledgers before moving quickly to the door of the study to look around the corner. She glared at the washing machine and dryer that were stationed against the opposite side of the wall where the desk was and then huffed.

"Damn it."


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


A groan escaped Draco as he slowly sat up.

"I am never drinking again," he mumbled, his hands coming up to rub gingerly at his temples. "And I could kill for a pain potion."

He lowered his hands and glanced over to Hermione's side of the bed to find her missing. A note was placed neatly on her pillow. He picked it up and read it.

"I'm in the shower. There are two pills on the nightstand. Take them with the water. They'll help you feel better."

Draco spared a small smile for the tiny heart Hermione had drawn at the end of the missive and then looked to the full glass of water and pills that were indeed upon the nightstand. He set aside the note and then reached for them.

"Muggle potions," he said with a wry smirk, inspecting one of the pills closely before popping both in his mouth. He downed them with a sip of the water and as he set the glass back upon the nightstand his eye caught Hermione's mobile phone sitting there from earlier.

Draco frowned at the device as he picked it up. His frown morphed into a concerned scowl when he read the blinking message that there were four missed calls from Harry.

"Knew it had to be you," Draco muttered. "What is so damned important that you've tried this many times?"

He stared at the phone a moment and then glanced up at the bedroom door. Letting out a long suffering exhale, he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and got up. He shuffled his way to the door, phone still in hand, and tilted his head in the direction of the bathroom. The faint sound of the running shower met his ear and he looked back down at the phone with troubled curiosity.

"What do you want, Potter?" Draco asked out loud to himself as he walked back to the bed and sat. He glanced up once more to the bedroom doorway and then pressed the button with a tiny green phone upon it. He somewhat cautiously lifted the device to his ear and winced at the sound of the shrill ringing coming from within it.

Harry picked up on the second ring.

"Hermione!" came his relieved voice. "Finally. I've been trying you all day. Did you get my messages?"

"You had better have a damn good reason for causing this infernal thing to ring every time I'm trying to sleep, Potter," Draco replied. There was a long silence and he pulled the phone away from his ear to scowl at it. "Potter? Potter? Why isn't this thing working?"

"I can hear you," Harry's voice carried out of the phone. Draco put it back to his ear.

"Then why didn't you say anything?" he demanded.

"I wasn't expecting it to be you," Harry said.

Draco let out a sniff. "You're an auror and you get flustered that easily?"

"Where's Hermione?" Harry asked shortly.

"She's asleep," Draco lied. "I kept her up all night you see."

There was another stretch of silence. "What do you want, Malfoy?" Harry finally said.

"What do you want?" Draco asked back. "You've apparently tried to contact us four times. What is it?"

"I'd rather talk to Hermione," Harry replied.

Draco rolled his eyes. "And you think I want to talk to you?"

"You called me."

"Oh, fuck off," Draco growled, lowering the phone in preparation to hang up. "I don't feel good enough to deal with this."

"Wait, wait, wait," Harry could still be heard pleading through the line. "Don't hang up."

Draco huffed and put the phone back to his ear. "What?"

"I really need to talk to Hermione, Malfoy."

"She tells me everything, Potter," he replied, "so you might as well just be out with it."

Harry was quiet another moment and then sighed. "Fine. Tell her that Celestina Warbeck is rumored to be having an affair with the drummer from the Weird Sisters."

Draco smiled. "So, I take it we're out of the news?"

"Yesterday's fodder," Harry confirmed. "You'll still probably get some looks, but the press has moved on."

"That's good to know," Draco said. "What else?"

When Harry hesitated to respond again, Draco made an irritated noise. "Potter, I know you didn't try this phone four times just to tell us that the gossip has died down. What is it?"

"Your father came into my office," Harry said bluntly. "He made a lot of noise about how he thinks Hermione's bewitched and kidnapped you and stolen his money. He tried to get me to tell him where you were and then accused me of being in on the crime when I wouldn't. He also threatened to 'go beyond the law' if he's not taken seriously."

It was then that Hermione came back into the room, wearing a simple sundress and fluffing a towel through her wet hair. She found Draco with the phone still to his ear and staring at the wall with a look of barely contained rage.

"Draco?" she said with concern. Her eyes fixed on the phone and widened slightly in surprise as she started toward him. "Who are you talking to? Is it Harry?"

Draco ignored her as his hand gripped the phone rather tighter than necessary. "Potter," he said in a tone so serious that Hermione halted midstep, "next time you see my father, you give him a message from me."

"Uh…okay. And what exactly am I to say?" Harry inquired, sarcasm mingling with curiosity.

"Just one thing," Draco answered. "'I'm coming home.'"

"Okay, but-"

Draco hung up without waiting for Harry's response and set the phone none too lightly back onto the nightstand. Hermione gawked at him.

"Um…feeling better?" she asked.

"Decidedly not," Draco said, looking up at her.

Hermione pursed her lips. "Care to tell me what that was all about?"

Draco rubbed at his forehead with a tired moan. "How long before those things I swallowed start making me feel better?"

"About twenty minutes," she answered rather brusquely, crossing her arms, damp towel still dangling from one hand. "What was that about?"

"Oh, nothing," he said, giving her a flat, sarcastic smile, "just a friendly chat with my old mate, Potter…"

One of Hermione's brows tweaked upward. "Draco…"

"Good news, we can go home. There's some new celebrity scandal and we're not interesting anymore."

Hermione's expression became concerned at the way he was talking as if he were trying very hard not to explode. "Draco, what's wrong?"

He let out a noise that was somewhere between a sniff and a snort and shook his head angrily. "I fucking hate him," he said through clenched teeth.

Hermione was rather taken aback by that. "I must say I'm surprised at you. I'd thought that sentiment was in the past," she said, her tone now disapproving. "Especially with how Harry's been helping us."

Draco frowned. "Not Potter," he said, sounding even more annoyed, "I don't hate Potter. I hate my fucking prick of a father."

"No, you don't," Hermione tried to unruffle him. She tossed her towel aside and then moved to the bed and sat down beside him.

"No, I rather think I do," Draco nearly shouted. "Do you know what he did? He went to the aurors! He's told them all that you've kidnapped me. Can you believe it!? Oh, and you've stolen his money too."

Hermione's mouth fell open slightly but didn't have time to fully respond before Draco continued on.

"He kicked me out!" he raged then, hands gesturing angrily. "He kicked me out and then has the bollocks to claim I was kidnapped! He pretends to take everything from me and then has the audacity to accuse you of stealing it!"

"Draco-" she tried to cut in, but he went on loudly.

"The only reason his pathetic arse and mine aren't in prison is because of Potter and he fucking threatens him!?"

"I'm sure Harry doesn't thi-" Hermione tried to interrupt again.

"He nearly destroyed our family! But he tells me I'm sullying our name because I want to be with a mu-" he stopped before he could finish the word and started shaking his head harshly. "No. No, he doesn't get to…no…"

He suddenly looked faint as his eyes rolled and he began to slump forward. Hermione lurched and caught him with both arms around his torso to keep him from falling over.

"You need to lay down," she said calmly, guiding him back. "You're still not well."

He followed her direction without resistance and closed his eyes the moment his head hit his pillow. He let out a distressed groan.

"Why is he always like this?" he muttered. "Why can't he just let me be?"

"I'm sure he's just worried about you," Hermione replied quietly.

Draco scoffed. "He's only ever cared about himself. He's never really cared about me."

Hermione frowned. "Now you're just being dramatic, because I know that's not true."

He cracked open an eye to give her a petulant glare and she let out a small laugh. "It's the withdrawal from the drugs," she said. "As high as you felt last night that's as low as you're going to feel today. That's what the nurse warned anyway."

"My feeling like utter shite has nothing to do with how I feel about my father," he disagreed.

Hermione made a face like she was about tell him he was overreacting again and he lifted his head to fully look at her. "Why do you keep trying to defend him?" he demanded.

"I'm not defending him," she snapped. She stopped at the harshness of her reply and took a deep breath before continuing. "Draco…if the war taught me anything it was the importance of family. There was a time when I feared I might never again see my parents and it was awful. I'd hate for you to let your anger ruin a chance at a reconciliation with yours. No matter how… misguided their actions might currently be."

Draco pursed his lips and let his head fall back again. "If the war taught me anything," he countered, "it's that being 'misguided' can lead to innocent people getting hurt."

Hermione hummed in thought. "Yes, well, I think we both know we aren't exactly innocents," she said, a teasing lilt to her voice.

"Hey," he said, arching a brow, "you're getting dangerously close to breaking rule number one. No discussion about past criminal transgressions, remember?"

Hermione smiled and pushed up to stand. She turned and bent down to put her lips to his cheek. "I wasn't talking about our crimes," she whispered before giving him a peck. With that she stood and grabbed her phone from the night stand.

Draco made a small growl. "Minx," he said. "Trying to distract my mind with sex…"

"How naughty of me," she winked at him and started toward the door.

"And just where do you think you're going?" he asked, lifting his head again to stare at her.

She stopped at the doorway and looked over her shoulder at him. "I'm going to ring Harry back to see about arranging our transport home."

Draco dropped his head once more with his loudest groan yet. "Just Avada me now," he whined.

Hermione shook her head at him with a small chuckle. "Go shower," she suggested, "it will make you feel loads better. I'll be down in the kitchen with some tea for us when you're done. Alright?"

He flopped an arm over his face and made an assenting grunt and Hermione disappeared out into the hall.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Ron glared at chess board set between himself and Harry on the kitchen table. He took a swig of his whiskey and then grabbed for a knight.

"I still can't believe it," he said as he moved his piece. "Malfoy using a phone."

Harry shrugged lightly. "Hermione said she was teaching him how to do Muggle things," he said, pushing a pawn forward, "not so surprising, I'd say."

"I suppose," Ron shook his head. "But Malfoy… It still boggles the mind."

"What I can't figure is why Lucius Malfoy would come in making a fuss about Draco being kidnapped when Draco himself told me his parents cut him off," Harry redirected the conversation. "Something doesn't make sense."

Ron looked up from the board. "You don't mean to say you think Hermione actually bewitched him…"

Harry frowned at him. "No. And I don't think Malfoy did anything wrong either. I just feel like there's something we don't know."

Harry's phone started ringing.

"Well, now you can ask her," Ron said, glancing at it. "Unless it's Malfoy wanting another chat," he added with a snort.

Harry rolled his eyes as he answered the phone. "Hello…" he said somewhat hesitantly. He relaxed the moment he heard Hermione's voice on the other end. "It's Hermione," he mouthed at Ron across the table. "Be nice," he silently warned as he set the phone down between them beside the chess board and turned on the speaker.

Ron frowned back but nodded.

"Harry, I hope I'm not bothering you. It must be late there," Hermione's voice said apologetically.

"No," Harry replied at once. "Well, I mean it's late, but you're no bother. Ron and I were just starting up another round of chess actually."

"Finishing a round rather," Ron piped up with a triumphant grin as he moved his piece and watched it clobber one of Harry's bishops into a dozen tiny pieces. "Checkmate."

Harry frowned at the board, but quickly refocused on his phone. "Malfoy gave you my message did he?" he asked.

There was a brief silence before Hermione's reply came. "Yes, about that…"

"Hi, Hermione!" Ron suddenly shouted at the phone. Harry scowled across the board at him.

"Um…hello, Ronald," Hermione responded quietly. "How…how are you?"

Ron leaned his head down closer to the phone. "I don't know," he said, still speaking louder than necessary, "how should a bloke feel when he learns from the bloody newspaper that his best friend's been married? And to the biggest git in the world no less?"

Hermione's loud sigh could be heard from the phone even as Harry grabbed at it with a scowl at Ron.

"I didn't mean to get married," she said.

"How does one not mean to get fucking married?" Ron started angrily, rising up from his seat to follow after Harry who had already gotten up and was walking into the next room with the phone.

"Now's not the time, Ron," Harry scolded him, pausing to give him a look that obviously meant he should stop.

"I quite agree, Harry," Hermione responded. "This would be much better discussed in person. In fact, that's why I've rung. We need a way home."

Harry's expression shifted to confusion. "What do you mean?" he asked, holding up a hand to keep Ron silent as he continued to hover. "Don't your parents still have their Portkey?"

"Oh, they have it," she answered, "but I'm afraid it's useless. It was put too close to some large appliances and I'm fairly certain that the high level of electricity they use interfered with the magic. The Portkey didn't respond at all when I tried to verify its spell. We're going to need a new one."

There was silence then as Harry simply stood blinking and Ron stood staring at him.

"Harry?" Hermione inquired after a moment. "Did you hear me?"

Harry nodded even as he ran a hand through his untamable hair. "Yeah, I heard you…the thing is…I don't know how you're going to get a new Portkey," he said.

"What?" she said, irritation almost immediately coloring her tone. "What do you mean you don't know how I can get a Portkey? You authorize them every day."

Ron crossed his arms over his chest as he continued to listen and Harry's hand just kept rubbing nervously at his scalp as he explained.

"Hermione, if you were here I could get you a Portkey in a second. But you're in Australia."

"You setup international ones all the time!"

Harry started to pace. "Yeah, I do, but international Portkeys take weeks, sometimes months to get approved. And you of all people should know that. It took you nearly a month to get the current one put in place!"

"Well, yes, but certainly approval can be expedited for emergency situations?" Hermione was beginning to sound frantic.

Harry stopped pacing. "Is this an emergency?" he asked very seriously.

"Well…not exactly," she admitted reluctantly. "But I thought…what with you being…who you are…"

"Hermione." Harry's tone was stern, chastising.

"Harry, you know I'd normally never ask you to use your influence," Hermione nearly cried. "But I can't do the alternative...I can't. You know I can't."

Harry shook his head at the phone. "I'm sorry, Hermione. But unless you want to stay with your parents for another month, then I think you're going to have to."


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


"Are you alright?" Draco asked as he entered the kitchen after his shower to find Hermione pale faced and standing, staring out the window, her knuckles clutched tight around her mobile.

"We're going to need your credit card," was her shaky response.

Draco frowned as he stepped up to her side. "Why? What's wrong?"

She turned to look at him then. "We need to purchase plane tickets," she said.