Late June, 1991
Rain drove downward through the darkness in vast, angry torrents. By the edge of the sea, the windows of a small house glowed with soft, golden light. A lone figure drew closer to the house, his long violet cloak flapping in the relentless wind as he strode down the garden path.
The door burst open as soon as he reached it. An older woman stood framed in the doorway, the golden light of the house illuminating her aged face. She stared at the purple clad figure outside in indulgent concern.
"Albus," she cried almost scoldingly. "My goodness, what are you doing out in this weather?"
"Out to clear my head, dear lady," he responded, smiling.
"Come in, come in," she said, waving her hand frantically and ushering him inside. He thanked her politely and swiftly entered. The old woman took his cloak, which was miraculously dry despite the abysmal weather. So was the rest of him.
"I trust Nicolas is in his study?" said Dumbledore quickly.
"Yes, as always," she replied.
"Ah," said Dumbledore. "Forgive my brusqueness, but there is an urgent matter we must all discuss."
Nicolas Flamel let out a slow breath. The room resonated with the silence left by the end of Dumbledore's story. Flamel set his tea cup back on his saucer with a delicate clink. For a long time, no one spoke.
"You do not believe the Stone is safe at Hogwarts?" Flamel asked finally.
"No, Nicolas," sighed Albus. "Forgive me…if things had gone any farther tonight…perhaps the Stone could be moved again…"
"No, no, Albus." Flamel stood up and began to pace the room. "If the Stone is not safe at Hogwarts, it is not safe anywhere." He sat heavily on the couch, next to his wife.
"That means…" Albus began softly.
"We are both well aware of what that means," said Flamel. He and his wife locked eyes. They were widened in surprise, but at the same time, understanding. "This is not the first time we have had this discussion." They were silent for a moment, then…
"The Stone will have to be destroyed," said his wife, her voice was cracked and worn, but heavy with resolve. She grasped her husband's withered hands reassuringly.
The Philosopher's Stone sat in the middle of the table, glistening and red, swaddled in a nest of white fabric.
"We have enough potion to settle our affairs," said Flamel.
"And then…" Flamel's wife closed her eyes and gently rested her head on her husband's shoulder. "We have lived for a long time, Albus. Our time has passed."
"I am placing the Stone in your care," said Dumbledore. "Nicolas, I…"
"It will be destroyed tonight," said Flamel firmly.
Flamel's wife rose from her spot on the couch. "I will get the proper supplies," she said, exiting swiftly to another part of the house. Albus and Flamel were alone in the room. Flamel folded his hands and pressed them to his lips, deep in thought.
"Albus," he said, after a pregnant pause. "A man as old as I keeps…many secrets." Albus stared intently at him. The reflection of the shimmering flames in the stone fireplace danced and flickered on the surface of his golden spectacles. "Many secrets of great danger, and…power. When I am gone, will you assume my confidences?" Flamel sighed heavily.
"These secrets, like all knowledge—come at a price. Still—there's no one I would trust more for such a task."
"Nicolas, I would be honored," said Dumbledore.
Early July, 1996
Draco Malfoy gasped, choking as he struggled to draw each agonizing breath. He whipped his head around, his gaze sweeping furiously over the darkened landscape around him. His clothes were ripped and he was filthier than he had ever been in his sheltered life. Blood trickled out of the gash on his forehead, flowing down the side of his face in a delicate stream and soaking into his shirt collar.
His pale skin reflected the faint light of the waning moon, creating a bright contrast against his black robes. His school robes. Hogwarts. Dumbledore. It had only been a few days, but it seemed so long ago now. Another lifetime where he was whole and so arrogantly certain of his glorious future.
He ran as fast as he could. He had Apparated here, deep within the woods, but he could hear the sharp cracks that indicated he was already being followed.
"Malfoy!" growled a distant voice. He tripped over a tree root as he whirled around and raced off in the opposite direction. He fell hard, his palms scraping into the dirt. He scrambled to his feet, cursing wildly.
"Draco," snarled a cold voice. Malfoy recognized the voice of his former Professor immediately, his stomach clenching in fear. "Come back here!" Draco ignored the cold command. He continued running. Each breath felt like fire in his lungs.
He couldn't run forever, He had to get out of here soon, Disapperate to somewhere safe. Someone who would help him—but who? He realized with a pang that he had absolutely no one to turn to. His "friends"—he snorted in disgust—were so far out their depth in this situation it was pathetic. His father was gone. Hogwarts was out of the question. And his mother…tears stung in his eyes as he tore through the underbrush, flailing his arms in hysterical circles to prevent the gnarled branches from raking across his face. It wasn't doing much good.
He fell to the blackened earth again, his shoulder slamming onto a dead log. He flipped over on the ground, pain shooting up his arm. His wand skittered away across the forest floor. A fiery ache was humming in his legs. He wasn't sure he could stand again if he wanted to.
He felt a thrill of fear as he heard a branch snap behind him. Time was up. A shadowy figure towered above him, the voice unfamiliar, but horrible.
"The Malfoy brat!" howled the voice. "He's here! I've found him!"
With one last burst of manic energy, he stretched his arm forward and snatched up his wand. He scooped it into his hand, his fingernails biting into the moist dirt as he pulled it frantically towards himself.
He raised his wand above his head.
"He's here! He's here!"
He needed to go somewhere. Anywhere. Somewhere safe. There had to be someone out there who would help him.
Apperating without a sure destination was an act of complete idiocy, pure and simple. He knew this and yet when he clenched his burning eyes shut for a final time, he still had no idea where he would end up.
He slammed his wand down in front of him in a swishing arc.
Somewhere safe. Someone who will help me. Anyone.
And with that, Draco Malfoy disappeared.
Hermione Granger awoke with a start. She was obviously having a dream, though she couldn't properly remember what it was about. The glowing red face of her alarm clock burned the numbers 2:31 into the darkness. She slid out of her bed and padded her way across the silent room pausing at the window and gazing into the starry sky.
Ridiculous as it sounded, she was fairly sure it was something that involved running around in the woods. Why she would dream about running in the woods, she had no idea. Professor Trelawney would probably tell her that her dream was deeply symbolic of her imminent demise. Actually, she had read Unfogging the Future cover to cover, waste of time that it was. Trees were symbolic of nature, the renewal of spirit, and the beginning of a new journey. Darkness on the other hand, symbolized the feminine aspect of the metaphysical virginal state of all things, before they are illuminated by the male presence, symbolized by light. Hermione snorted indignantly. Light. Hah. That was quite ironic, considering how dim most men were.
Then again, dreams were just dreams. According to the books in her father's study—dreams were simply the random firing of neurons cells, as interpreted by the more primitive aspects of the brain. Despite everything she had seen and experienced since a large tawny owl had dropped her Hogwarts letter in her breakfast cereal six years ago, she was still more inclined to believe that her dreams were scientific rather than symbolic.
Hermione smoothed down her bushy brown hair and sighed. Sometimes she wished her brain would just shut up, so she get a decent night's sleep. The door to her room creaked open slightly, and a squash-faced ginger cat pranced in.
"Hello, Crookshanks," she cooed softly. She opened her arms and the cat leapt into them, purring contently. She stroked his head and continued to stare out the window. She was in her parent's home—her home to be accurate, but it hardly felt like it as of late. She returned alone to spend a few days with her family. Harry was staying with Ron at the Burrow. Soon, very soon, they would leave and go to the Dursley's together and after that...she wasn't sure.
Hermione had been charged with the difficult task of explaining to her parents why she was leaving, and where she was going. They had not taken it was well as she hoped, but it was to be expected. She had debated over whether or not to tell them the truth—but had decided to be honest. She couldn't bear the thought of the last thing she ever said to them being a lie.
She wiped her eyes and silently scolded herself for being so melodramatic. Crookshanks meowed at her.
"I have cat hair in my eye," she snapped defensively, but Crookshanks continued to meow. He clawed at the window. Hermione finished wiping her eye and bent forward, pressing her fingertips against the glass. "What is it?" she asked worriedly, her eyes searching the backyard. Crookshanks hissed and backed away from the window, hackles raised.
She spotted a dark shape stumbling around beneath the tree next to her back porch. It was coming closer to the house. She saw a flash of silver, the billow of black wizard's robes. No. Not here. Not her parents. Seizing her wand from her bedside table, she threw a pair of work robes over her bedclothes and raced downstairs, her heart pounding.
Draco stumbled, lost in unfamiliar surroundings. He attempted to steady himself on the trunk of a large tree. At least he hadn't splinched himself.
The scene in front of him swam before his eyes. He toppled face first onto the ground, his shaking legs finally giving out below him.
Hermione wasn't sure what was going on. She was crouched down, peering out carefully through her living room window at the figure in her backyard. Figure. Singular. There was only one person in her back yard. In her experience, Death Eaters usually came in groups.
Quite suddenly, the person simply dropped, collapsing heavily to the ground. She bit her lip uncertainly. The robes obviously gave the person away as a wizard. So there was someone magical passed out in her yard. She squinted. Something dark and was trickling out onto the grass in front of the prone figure, glistening in the moonlight. She gasped. Blood!
Her mind raced. Someone was hurt—badly. Maybe they had been attacked by Death Eaters. They needed help. Maybe they had information. The sooner they were inside, the better—leaving them out in the open would be more dangerous. The sight of blood had brought her to her feet. Throwing caution to the wind, she raced outside.
Draco raised his head slightly and forced his eyes open. The curses were quickly taking their toll on him. His hand was wet. He looked at it and recoiled—it was drenched in his own blood.
Someone was racing towards him, wand raised, robes flowing behind them. The figure halted before him, and stopped in shock. He was roughly kicked over, wand now pointed at his throat.
A pair of narrowed brown eyes were glaring down on him. Malfoy looked up in disbelief.
"Granger?" he whispered hoarsely. Perfect. Just perfect. He ended up on the Mudblood's front lawn, drenched in dirt and his own blood.
"Give me one good reason I shouldn't curse you right here," she said fiercely, her eyes blazing.
Hermione had her wand aimed at the throat of what seemed to be Draco Malfoy—but she had never, never seen Draco Malfoy like this before. His usually immaculate robes were torn and wrinkled, his silvery blond hair was disheveled, and his lily-white skin was caked in blood and dirt. He was staring at her with wide, almost frightened eyes.
"I didn't mean to come here," he choked. "I was running. They—they—" He coughed, gasping for breath. Hermione noticed a thin line of blood leaking out the corner of his mouth. She didn't know what to do. She felt frozen, her wand still aimed at his throat. She wished Harry and Ron were with her, but deep down she knew that they would probably tell her to leave him outside.
"Tell me the truth!" she said, trying to sound as callous as possible. "What the hell are you doing here? What happened to you?" She couldn't help but feel a great swell of pity, seeing him in this state. She tried to steel herself and ignored it.
"I told you, Mudblood," he rasped, anger creeping into his pale face. "I don't…want to be…here. It was…an accident. And…it's none of…your…goddamn…business."
Hermione flushed, furious. She had forgotten herself. Even though he was barely able to speak, he still insisted on insulting her. He would probably continue to insult her, even with his dying breath. This was Draco Malfoy, after all. The most evil, arrogant little bastard ever, and he could fuck off and die for all she cared. He tried to kill Ron. Katie. Dumbledore. She turned away and stomped back towards the house, leaving him alone and bleeding in the grass.
Draco watched her walk away in horror. What the hell was wrong with him? He was going to die, right here on the Mudblood's lawn if she didn't help him right now. Who cares that she's scum? She could be a Blast-Ended Skrewt for all he cared—he just needed someone, anyone to get him inside.
"Granger!" he groaned. "Wait! H—help me."
"Why should I?" she said harshly, turning and glaring at him over her shoulder.
Malfoy opened and closed his mouth hopelessly, but no sound came out. What could he say? This was Granger. Granger, and by association—Potter. She huffed in disgust and stalked away towards the house.
"Granger," he said softly, his voice fading. He struggled upwards, propping himself up on his battered elbows. "Wait. I—I—" He struggled to get the words out, darkness was closing in at the edges of his vision. She turned around.
"What?" she snapped.
"I know where to find one of the…Horcruxes."
He saw the shocked look on her face for a fleeting second, before he collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
AN: Well, what do you guys think? Should I bother to keep this going? I need lots of feedback, or I will be too overwhelmed with apathy and discouragement to continue.
Ah, I love Draco/Hermione. I don't care if it will never be canon.