Late One Night

Disclaimer: By now, you should know what I do and do not own.

Thank yous: MoonyPadfootJr, orlin, Goddess of Gorgeousness, yoblossom, Mistress Vamp, badboyblondEsgurl, im no muggle, S.c.ou.s.er.4.li.f.e, ryanzraindrop, Azkaban-convict, Marblez, guttergirl11, EsScaper, Evil Elvin Pirates, heavenlyevil, iamtherealmaverick, wiccan-witch88, fennec-fox-rox, bookluva629, Sarahamanda, Zelda Hime, slychick25877, vytiri, blackthornroses, aymanimermaid, Neous, Emerald princess3, Chocolate Martini, Hazel-Buttafly, Gerard Way is Hott, Mynxy, KatanaKira, Furies.

Goddess of Gorgeousness: It does seem OOC for Hermione to slap Trinny, but then she did slap Draco in Book 3, and my Hermione isn't exactly in character anyway. And personally, if I was insulted like she was, I would slap back as well.

Evil Elvin Pirates: Haha, Severus rarely gets along with anyone…he will probably be tolerable if Remus is present but he still dislikes James and Sirius a great deal.

Vytiri: 'Icarus' is only significant in that one of my friends thought it sounded really funny and she started calling me Icarus. And yes, Vicky is short for Victoria; I also go by Vix, Toria, and Vic/Vik.

And yes, everyone, there will be more of Sirius and James, but as this story mainly takes place at Hogwarts and those two are at the Order Headquarters, there hasn't really been much need for them to be present at Hogwarts yet. But yes, they will appear in this chapter, definitely.

If I missed anyone out, I'm sorry but thank for reviewing!

I think you may as well just pretty much ignore the summary from last chapter.

Remember, Severus is a pureblood in this story; so anything in the sixth book about his background does not bare any relation to this story.

Good God, have I really not updated since LAST July? I am SO sorry! I honestly am! Please forgive me and accept this very feeble 23rd chapter.

WARNING: Spoilers for Half-Blood Prince. If you haven't read book six, just stop reading now.

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Chapter 23: Draco's Mission

It was getting late one evening, and Hermione was doing some homework in the library, or at least, she was trying to. She had a lot on her mind at the moment, mostly family things, but also the big change in the relationship she had with Draco. The changed that occurred two days ago, on the night of her eighteenth birthday; she had not really thought about it yesterday because she had been so busy with her classes as well as Severus's potions classes, but now she had some peace and quiet she was thinking it over.

For one thing, it had been a wonderful night; Draco had told the House-elves that he and Hermione were going to be having dinner in their little part of the castle instead of in the Great hall. With dinner, there had been a very expensive bottle of wine (Hermione felt sure that the blond had snuck that into his trunk before leaving for school on September 1st, it was just the kind of thing Lucius would have in his wine cellar). After their lovely dinner, things had progressed, though to Hermione shock Draco had not tried to push her into anything like he had done a couple of times prior to that evening; in fact, it was she that came onto him first.

There was only one thing that wasn't completely perfect though, the next day Draco had been giving her funny looks; in fact he had been doing that today as well. Why? Because it was pretty damn clear to him that she had been no virgin when they went to bed, despite the way she came off to everyone about things like that.

In fact, Draco hadn't even mentioned it to her, despite the fact that she had pretty much lied to him.

While she had been thinking she had started staring off into space, a slightly glazed look to her eyes, and she was completely oblivious to the man standing behind her looking over her shoulder at the doodles on her parchment.

"Aw, my darling niece is in love."

Hermione literally jumped a foot in there at the sound of the voice coming from so close to her; she then hurriedly covered up the parchment she had been doodling on and glared at her uncle, "Shut up."

Romulus laughed quietly and sat down next to Hermione, "And how is young Master Malfoy?"

Hermione pulled her Transfiguration textbook to her so that she could look for the right page, "That is none of your business," she started jotting down notes from the textbook seemingly ignoring her uncle. But she did have something on her mind to ask him, and it didn't seem like he was going to leave her alone anytime soon. "You know that new boy, Aiden?"

Romulus nodded, "Yes, what about him?'

Hermione fiddled with her quill in thought, "Does he… Does he look at all familiar to you?" she glanced at her uncle out the corners of her eyes.

"Familiar, how?" questioned Romulus, his eyebrows rising slightly.

"Well, I've just been noticing little things about him," continued Hermione carefully, so as not to give away exactly what she thought. "He holds quite a likeness to someone, his mannerisms and his appearance in particular… Don't you think?"

Romulus gazed at the brunette blankly; he blinked, "Who, exactly? I can't know if he is similar to someone if I don't know who the someone is."

Hermione smirked slightly and shook her head, "You know what, never mind. I'm probably just imagining it."

Romulus frowned, "You're behaving very strangely, young lady, perhaps you should see a professional."

Hermione rolled her eyes, "I am behaving no differently than I usually do, thank you."

"You are."

"I am not."

"Be like that then," said Romulus before getting to his feet. "But you are acting more strange than usual."

Hermione narrowed her eyes at her uncle's retreating back before shaking her head and going back to her work. Was she really behaving differently? Or was Romulus just trying to wind her up like usual?

………

Three days later, both Severus and Remus were allowed out of the Infirmary under strict orders from Madame Pomfrey to take it easy. Remus was planning on taking Maria back to Twelve Grimmauld Place, it was very safe there at least and he had barely seen his youngest child since the summer. Severus, though he really should take a break and fully recuperate, was determined to go back to teaching if it meant staying away from the Order Headquarters and its two permanent occupants.

Classes had just finished so the two wizards had to fight their way through students leaving the dungeon, and if Severus saw so much as an undone top button he would snap at the student and deduct points; Remus rolling his eyes as they walked. When they finally got to the Potions classroom they found it completely empty, except for the brunette sitting behind the teacher's desk, with her feet on it; she was entirely absorbed in her own work to notice them.

"Get your feet off my desk," snapped Severus almost immediately.

Hermione removed her feet from the desk, and without even bothering to look up she sighed and spoke, "Feeling better then, are we?" in reply she got quiet growl of frustration from Severus. "I've already apologised and begged for forgiveness; I don't know what else it is you want from me."

"Just ignore him," said Remus; he placed a hand between Severus's shoulder blades and pushed him forward to keep him going towards his quarters.

"I do try," Hermione lifted her eyes finally to look at her parents. "Dumbledore left a note here telling me to tell you two that he wishes to speak with you after dinner tonight in his office. And I will be using your classroom to take detention tomorrow night," she continued looking to Severus. "Unless of course you want to do the honours?"

"No, thank you."

"You're enjoying this position of power, aren't you?" asked Remus in amusement.

"Yes. Yes, I am," Hermione smiled and started packing up her things; she was going to go and search out Draco as she had not seen him at lunchtime. In fact, she had not seen him around all day…

……

It was now 8pm and Dumbledore had just called for silence in his office; the room was occupied by himself, Remus, Severus, Sirius, James, Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Minerva McGonagall and Bill Weasley. Apparently they were the only Order members invited to this little gathering.

"I have not called a full Order meeting this evening, as I think the fewer people who know about this the better," started Dumbledore, observing the younger wizards and witch before him. "And I trust those of you here now to keep your cool about what I have to say," he got many curious looks in return. "Earlier today there was a gathering with Lord Voldemort. Lucius reported to me immediately afterwards to tell me of what was said, and he told me that a rather dangerous and important task was handed out to Voldemort's youngest Death Eater, Draco Malfoy. Voldemort has requested that Draco, by his own means, kills me before the year is out."

Minerva choked on her cup of tea, "Albus, you can't be serious."

"I am afraid I am, Minerva," replied Dumbledore solemnly. "I had a feeling this would happen at some point, ever since Voldemort's return-"

"But if you know about it, you can make sure it doesn't happen, can't you?" questioned James; this was truly panicking, especially as Dumbledore did not seem the least bit bothered by this turn of events.

Severus sighed and shook his head and replied before Dumbledore could, "If that is what the Dark Lord has requested of him then Draco has to do the deed, or his family and anyone else he cares about will likely be killed," he glanced at Remus and knew that the werewolf had deduced much the same as himself; Hermione was once again in danger because of her connections.

Tonks frowned, "And if he tries and does not succeed?"

"As Severus said, he and his family will be killed," replied Albus gravely. "I have spoken several times with Draco since his induction into Voldemort's circle, and I know exactly where he stands, and though he is a very determined boy, I do not think for a minute that he will be able to follow through with it."

Sirius was chewing his bottom lip before he spoke, "But what if he does go through with it?"

"That is a chance I am willing to take."

Remus had his eyes downcast as he spoke quietly, "You're going to sacrifice yourself, anyway, aren't you?"

"Perhaps," replied Dumbledore honestly. "Now the full reason I have asked for you all to come here… If Draco does fail in his mission, someone will have to be there to do the deed in his place."

The silence that rang throughout the office after this statement was, to put it simply, deafening; you could hear a pin drop. After what seemed like several minutes, and had in fact only been about two, James spoke up again.

"You want one of…us…to do it?"

"Yes."

Tonks just about fell out of her chair at the mere thought of what Dumbledore was suggesting, "Why doesn't Draco's father do the deed if his son fails? Why should any of us? We don't hate you, we couldn't."

Dumbledore gave a slight smile, "However true that may be, I believe that the need to survive in yourselves would over ride any doubts you would have if Draco does not succeed."

In response to that Dumbledore got many cries of dissent from the people surrounding him.

"I refuse!"

"Think about what you're asking of us, please, Albus!"

"I can't believe what I'm hearing…"

"This is ridiculous!"

The only one who had remained silent was Severus, whose eyes had taken on a rather distant look as though he was thinking very deeply about what he was hearing.

A few more minutes of the others questioning his every motive, Dumbledore shushed them, and he looked to Severus, "What are your thoughts on this, Severus?" his blue eyes practically boring into Severus's head.

Severus slowly raised his head and his eyes locked on Dumbledore's, he opened his mouth to speak, but hastily shut it again; a vast array emotions crossing his face as he stared at the old man. Everyone else in the office watched this odd form of communication, some putting two and two together, some not.

Eventually though, after about two minutes of this, Severus got to his feet and stormed out of the office, slamming the door violently behind him.

After she had left Severus's classroom, Hermione had gone to her dormitory after not being able to find Draco; and in wait she continued with some of her homework, and eventually fell asleep. However she awoke now to the sound of loud voices drifting up from the Common Room; two male voices, one being Draco, the other sounded suspiciously like Lucius.

"I can't! I just… I can't do this!"

"Draco, I know this is difficult-"

"Do you? Do you really?"

"Yes! I have had to do several terrible things in the past in order to keep you and your mother safe from him. Draco, it is not easy, I know it is not easy, but refusing to do the Dark Lord's bidding will result in your death."

By now, Hermione was standing on the bottom step of the stairwell, in full view of both men if they so chose to acknowledge her presence; her mouth parted in shock and her eyes like saucers.

"But Dumbledore?" Draco was practically tearing his hair out as he paced back and forth in front of his father; who had his back to the stairwell and Hermione. "He wants me to kill…Dumbledore? The most… The most powerful wizard in the world? At the rate I'm going I'm barely going to pass my NEWTs let alone kill someone!"

Lucius grabbed Draco by the shoulders to stop his increasingly more hysterical son from pacing, "Draco, listen to me-look at me," Draco did as he was told, though he seemed to be on the verge of collapsing, or crying. "I'm not going to say that everything will be fine, because it won't be. But you cannot back out now, Draco, needs must, you have to go through with this whether you succeed or not. Dumbledore knows and he is in the process of doing something about it," he could feel Draco trembling under his hands. "You need to be strong, Draco. We all need to be. But if you allow this to get to you too much you will not survive, and I do not plan on having to bury my son before his time," with that, he pulled his son to him and hugged him tightly. It wasn't something he had done often through Draco's life, so perhaps now he should make up for it.

Hermione's eyes were brimming with tears as she watched father and son hug; she had never seen Draco so scared before and she had definitely never seen Lucius being so compassionate before particularly toward his own son. On top of that, she was very scared about what she had heard.

……

"Well that went well," said Sirius flatly, as he, James and Remus headed away from Dumbledore's office more than an hour later. "Not entirely unexpected though, I have to admit. But really, asking one of us to do it-"

"Sirius!"

"What?"

"Shut up," snapped Remus; he had barely listened to the rest of the meeting after Severus had stormed out; he felt it was painfully obvious what Dumbledore had been doing. "Don't discuss it in public."

"Sorry."

"He should tell everyone else though," said James, he was more wondering out loud than directing his comments at anyone. "Something could go wrong, we should all know, not just a select few."

Sirius huffed, "Oh that's fair, tell me to shut up and let him talk."

Remus rolled his eyes, "When have you ever been subtle about something, Sirius?"

James snorted, "Ha!"

Lucius had had to leave about twenty minutes ago, and Draco had spent the time since then lying on the couch; his head on his girlfriend's lap. Hermione was running her fingers comfortingly through his hair; she had not spoken a word since witnessing the father-son moment an hour ago, all she had done was silently accept what she was hearing and give some amount of comfort to the blond teenager.

"Why did you leave?" questioned Remus when he had tracked Severus down after bidding farewell to Sirius and James for the evening. "What did he show you?"

"Nothing."

Remus sighed; of course, Severus wasn't going to make this easy, he never did, "There is no point in trying to pull the wool over my eyes, Severus. I know he showed you something, and it is quite clear that you didn't like what you saw. Please, just tell me."

"No."

Remus folded his arms and frowned, as he watched Severus gulp down what was probably his third or fourth glass of Firewhiskey since he had stormed out of Dumbledore's office, "Please don't make this any harder than it has to be, just tell me. I already have a pretty good guess as it is-"

Severus fixed Remus with one of his nastiest glares, "Well then, I guess you do not need me to tell you," his speech was slightly slurred. "Now leave me alone."

"You know you're not going to get rid of me that easily."

"Can't you just leave it?"

"No! This is important! You shouldn't be getting drunk over it, either-"

"He wants me to do it!" shouted Severus; successfully stopping anymore argument that was about to come out of Remus's mouth. "He wants me to kill him!"


Author's Note: I have well and truly, royally screwed this story up... I really shouldn't have taken so long to update (though I really do have good excuses)... I'm sorry. This was a really bad chapter and it went in a direction I had never really considered for this story.

Ok, enough of my excuses. Please review, and if you have questions go ahead and ask them, and I will PM you with the reply.