Paradox Preview

a/n: And now for a brief look at my next WIP, Paradox.

Draco Malfoy woke up at precisely 12:07 a.m. to a set of overlarge brown eyes and tickle of something soft beneath his nose, prompting a sneeze that was immediately followed by a frantic scream (his own, unfortunately).

"Shh," warned the unwelcome intruder, smothering his mouth with her palm. "You'll wake someone."

"Getoiergioffgme," Draco muttered indignantly, glaring up at her. Mudblood legend and Potter-loving idiot Hermione Granger was straddling him in bed, wearing a set of those muggle jeans she apparently loved—tighter than he'd ever seen her wear, but that was an observation that would decidedly have to wait—and a shirt made of soft grey material that drifted unpleasantly above his bare torso. She raised one brow, pursing her lips; a warning.

"Don't scream," she whispered, and he felt something cold slip against the sharply pebbled flesh of his abdomen. "If you do, I promise, I'll leave a mark."

"Whaatuiyifrfuck?" Draco demanded, feeling his eyes widen as he took stock of what, exactly, she'd so casually pressed into his stomach. "Isiyqfwirvbljknyyf?"

"Yes, it is a knife," Granger replied, looking pleased. "Good on you for noticing, Malfoy."

He made a face—Fuck you, he thought furiously, since she didn't seem to be willing to let him say it out loud—and she narrowed her eyes. "Promise not to scream?"

He nodded. She slowly retracted her hand and he jerked up, reaching for his wand.

"Ah-ah-ah, nope," Granger said quickly, shoving him down and then shifting the knife's edge from his stomach to his neck, holding it directly beneath the bone of his jaw. "My fault," she permitted, breathing heavily as she grinned. "I suppose I didn't give you explicit enough instructions."

She leaned forward, her hair tickling his chin as she spoke in his ear. "If you move," she whispered, "if you breathe, if you say anything, if you try anything, I will stab you in the chest, pull apart your ribs, and feed your heart to the peacocks outside." Then she leaned back, satisfied, and spared him an expectant look of finality. "Got it?"

"Fucking hell, Granger," Draco exhaled with difficulty, his heart pounding in his chest. "What on earth happened to you?"

"I need your help," she replied, glancing around, "right now. We need to get out, firstly, and then I'll explain everything—"

"Like hell you will," Draco retorted gruffly. "I'm not going anywhere with you, you—" He paused, flustered. "You intolerable little mudblood—"

"What does that mean?" Granger demanded, and scowled. "Whatever it is," she sniffed decisively, "I certainly don't like your tone."

"Where's Potter?" Draco pressed, ignoring her. "And Weasley? Are they here?" His pulse quickened at that, finally registering what her presence in his house could mean. "Because if they are—"

Granger frowned. "Who?"

"Potter and Wea-" He stopped. "What do you mean who?"

"Potter?" she echoed, blinking. "Wait, do you mean Harry Potter?" She sat back, quietly marveling. "Am I friends with him here?"

Draco gaped at her. "Are you friends with—" He faltered. "Did you just say—"

She sighed impatiently. "I told you I would explain everything," she reminded him, "but we have to get out. There's something we have to find."

"What do we have t- no. No. You know what?" Draco interrupted himself. "I don't know what you're playing at, Granger, but I'm not just going to entertain diabolical guessing games from you all night. In case you've managed to forget, I hate you," he reminded her, "and secondly, the Dark Lord is living in my fucking house, so I really don't think you can afford to—"

"Dark Lord?" Granger repeated vacantly. "Who?"

"What?" Draco asked, and grimaced. "No, I can't—seriously, I mean it, I physically can't," he snapped, as she made a face, obviously skeptical. "Even if I were buying into your little game—which I'm not," he added scornfully, "I can't say his name. There's a taboo."

"Oh, are you talking about Grindelwald?" Granger asked. "And what's a taboo?"

Draco opened his mouth to answer and then, thinking better of it, permitted himself to go limp beneath her blade. "Actually, just stab me," he muttered, exasperated. "Seems easier."

"God, you're difficult," she groaned, redoubling her efforts on the knife at his throat and prompting him to inhale sharply. "And apparently this happens to you often," she added, glancing down at his chest with something he might have flattered himself into thinking was curiosity, had he not known better.

"What?" he asked gruffly. "Being awoken by Gryffindor idiots in the middle of the night? No, frankly, that's new—"

"No, getting stabbed," she corrected, running a hand over the lines of his Sectumsempra scar. He shivered a little at her touch, hoping desperately that she wouldn't notice; luckily, she didn't seem to, or if she had, she clearly didn't care. "This looks bad."

"It was," Draco grunted. "And you know what it's from, Granger, so I don't know why you're—"

"Listen," she cut in, rolling her eyes. "If I explain myself, will you be less annoying?"

"No promises," Draco muttered, though at her menacing lean towards him, he shrank back against his pillows. "Fine, yes," he sighed. "Tell me what's going on and I'll be—I don't know." He offered as close a motion to shrugging as he could manage while pinned beneath her. "Better, I guess."

"Better?" she echoed doubtfully.

"I'll ask fewer questions," he clarified, and she shrugged.

"Close enough. Well," she began, clearing her throat, "I'm Hermione Granger."

He rolled his eyes. "I know that—"

"I'm not that Hermione Granger," she cut in, annoyed. "Whoever she is."

Draco frowned. "So are you—is this Polyjuice, then? Or—"

"I don't know what that is," she informed him bluntly, "because where I come from, I'm not magic. Well, I am," she clarified, "or I should be, anyway, but according to—" She broke off, shaking herself of whatever she'd been about to say. "There's some guy named Grindelwald in charge, apparently, and so I'm not allowed to become a witch."

Draco swallowed cautiously, feeling the edge of her knife once again tease at the arch of his throat. "So where exactly is it that you're from?" he asked, abruptly finding his mouth quite dry.

She tilted her head, considering it. "I think it's technically a parallel universe. It looks like this," she added, gesturing around. "Same world, really. Just—totally different, also."

"So apparently Hermione Granger without magic is a total psychopath, then," Draco noted, gesturing to the knife. "Do I have that part right?"

"I'm not a psychopath," she informed him. "I'm perfectly capable of empathy, I just choose to discard it. Logically," she added, as if she felt he needed the clarification.

"Comforting," he scoffed.

"The thing is, I have to steal something," she said. "And I don't have a lot of time—I made a deal with someone." She shifted slightly, holding up a small silver pocket watch. "This thing," she explained, "is what lets me travel back and forth. Well, it let me go forth," she clarified. "I assume it will work the same way going back, though I haven't exactly tried it yet."

"And what is it you're trying to steal?" Draco asked, the gears in his head not turning quite fast enough to process what was happening.

But then there was a shout from downstairs, and immediately, they both froze.

a/n: Chapter 1 is available for you to follow as of about oh, five minutes ago. Thank you for reading, and hope you enjoy!