Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
a/n: Wow. It has a plot. That's absolutely amazing, really. Yuppers.
Summary: Draco Malfoy becomes a Double Agent Squared. Playing both sides (doubly) isn't as easy as it seems. Hermione Granger isn't convinced and the matter of the Horcruxes isn't helping, either. Because they aren't much more than children…and they're only two little microscopic dots on the map, aren't they?
Sometimes people need to forgive (but never forget). Sometimes people keep their promises and cross their hearts (but never hope to die).
When Harry sends them on a quest to find one of the missing Horcruxes to test Draco's loyalty, they'll need all of Draco's guile and Hermione's wit, Draco's dubious charm and Hermione's overenthusiastic sense of justice to help them seek, aim, and destroy it… DMHG
Do you remember when you first uttered that word? That word with meaning equivalent to 'nigger' or 'faggot' or even 'retard'? Do you remember that word…go on, it's only two syllables, say it…Mud. Blood. Mudblood. Remember? You were only trying it out, rolling the letters on your tongue like a piece of chocolate (same color as her eyes) and wondering if it would make you seem bigger.
Do you remember when your palm made contact with pale, pale, aristocratic skin? Because you were standing up for the downtrodden, for those who couldn't quite protect themselves—do you remember the sound it made? Dull smack, not much different than the sound a fish made as it was flung onto the wooden cutting board. Remember the red imprint it left behind? Remember its livid color (angry as his eyes), and the way it made you feel so much smaller?
He remembers watching her descend on the arms of a hulking, ugly, but famous Quidditch star. She remembers smirking down at him because look, look, she can be pretty too. He remembers seeing her run from the beautiful/ugly tattoo that marred the evening sky, and she remembers his taunts that evening as he beratedher two best friends' stupidity for staying there in the open field without cover.
Do you remember that day you stumbled into Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, and heard his sobs and saw his heaving shoulders and his broken whispers and then left without telling anybody what had happened (because even he deserved that)? Do you remember the day you walked in, again, and saw him retching over the toilet because he needed to be light to fly and dinner had been too good last night? Do you remember watching him look up at you with bile still running down the corners of his mouth, features screwed up in pain, and your hurried retreat, and your renewed hatred of Quidditch (because no one deserved to have to do that, not even him)?
She remembers beaming because Professor Slughorn, a Slytherin, had invited her, her, a Mudblood, to one of his parties. He remembers that feeling of inadequacy because he wasn't considered for one of the invitations, and he was pureblood, and he was a Malfoy. He remembers accepting his task and his mark with the pride of a young (so young) boy who wants to be bigger. She remembers thinking how young (so young) she was because she didn't truly believe that a boy who still called her names could be a killer.
The man rocked back and forth in front of the grave, weeping inconsolably. These were the great, gulping sobs of a child, not those of a grown man, and the man tried to muffle them unnecessarily. His only witnesses were an owl and a few bugs crawling to and fro along the grass, and who were they going to tell?
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" the man whispered hoarsely, sometimes muddling the words up so that they were simply, "Sorry, sorry, sorry" or "I…sorry…I'm…sorry, sorry, I, sorry…" The owl wondered what this man with shiny, lank dark hair like the oily feathers of a crow was apologizing for. Owls never felt the need to shed water from their eyes like this man, and owls never needed to apologize.
The man's features screwed up with hatred and loathing so fierce that even the implacable owl was frightened. The crow-man clawed at his hair and at his robes and at his face, as if trying to scrape himself out of existence. "I'm sorry." The man sobbed again. "I'm so sorry."
The owl hooted once, abruptly flying off into the night as another figure slowly made its way down. Surrounded by his grief, the man didn't noticethe figure until itwas only ten meters away, and by then it was too late. There was no chance to flee or to slink away into the shadows.
"Minerva." The words were almost forced out of the man's throat as he bowed his head in defeat, so unused to muttering anything but 'sorry' for so long. "I should have expected that you wouldn't leave Albus's grave alone for long."
The woman's hard features softened, just the tiniest bit, as she saw the tears on the man's face. "Severus."
And again, wearily, the man uttered the word. "I'm sorry."
"Why are you here, Severus?" The woman tried to snap, tried to sound threatening, but the words came out in nothing but a tired, tired murmur. Because God, but she was so tired of it all.
Gone wasthe man'sdefensive sarcasm, his snide remarks, his sneer. "Unbreakable vow." He closed his eyes. "Narcissa and Bellatrix, for Draco…couldn't…hate myself, and the Potter brat has probably convinced you that I enjoyed….it. God, Minerva." He seemed to be holding back another round of gulps, and straightened up in what he hoped was a non-threatening stance. "I tried to make it painless," in a small voice.
The stern-faced woman abruptly turned around, remembering. But remembering what? Severus's professed loyalty, the grudging trust? "If Albus believed you, than so must I. You will tell me everything, no holds barred, and I know that I'm not him but…but I can try."
There was a pause, and the crawling night creatures continued with their business as the man muttered, "…Thank you, Minerva."
The woman wheeled back on him. "So tell me. Tell me, and make me believe you. Tell me what you told Albus, and remember that I do not possess his forgiving nature."
And so the man told her. He gave her everything in his soul, and even the most bitter of enemies had to believe the emotion shaking in his voice, and his fragile grasp on sanity, and his journey on the road to redemption that had started so many, many years ago. By the end, neither of them possessed steady voices.
Minerva offered her hand to her one-time colleague, and one-time friend. "Harry is firmly convinced of your guilt and nothing will ever, ever change that, you know."
"I know. I wouldn't expect anything else—his views are entirely too black and white. Just like his father."
"And you are not to continue with your old game of intrigue. Under no circumstances are you to do that, do you hear me? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is already fully aware of your status as a double agent—I wouldn't doubt it if he set...it...up especially to torment you. Our loss of information will be regrettable, yes, but—"
The older woman gave him a look of incredulity. "I beg your pardon? Surely you cannot be thinking of reentering that…that—"
For the first time in possibly decades, a smile graced the pale face of the man. Granted, it was a rather wolfish, triumphant, vengeful smile, but a smile nonetheless. "No. You will not suffer from lack of information."
"And who, may I ask, is to be the informant?"
"Draco Malfoy, of course."
Six identical gasps of horror emerged from bushes far enough away that the various noises that were emitted when a large group of people were together were muffled, and close enough that Extendable Ears could still reach. The group was overrun by redheads, as over half the family had decided to accompany Harry Potter as he went to spy on Professor McGonagall.
It had originally started out as a team comprised of exactly one person—Harry. It had expanded to include Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley when they complained about his inability to trust them, and expanded yet again when Ginny Weasley refused to release them from her Bat-bogey Hex until she was allowed to accompany her brother and best girl friend and sort-of-ex-boyfriend too. Fred and George Weasley had denied them access to any Extendable Ears until they heard what their product was going to be used for, and then had only given them the Extendable Ears once they were allowed to tag along as well.
Harry was beginning to give up on the whole 'alone' thing.
On the bright side, he reflected, it was one more thing to separate him from Voldemort.
"Did you hear? Did you hear?" Hermione hissed to the five others squashed behind a large bush that, in hindsight, wasn't quite as large as it had seemed when unoccupied by the bodies of six growing teenagers.
"Yes, Hermione, we all heard." Ron hissed back. "But now we know why Dumbledore trusted Snape. Blimey," he added softly. "It's just…"
"We never knew." Ginny whispered.
Harry hadn't said anything throughout the whole exchange between Snape and McGonagall, although the conversation had been peppered with add-ins and comments from almost everybody else, Fred and George in particular. Hermione regarded him with worry, wondering how he was taking it.
She hoped he wouldn't fly off into another rage. It was all very well to express your emotions, but Harry seemed to possess a remarkable talent for expressing them at exactly the wrong time for exactly the wrong reasons.
Still. Perhaps Ginny would be able to handle him. Goodness knows, Hermione was getting rather sick of it all. Conflicts. Fights. Just one time, just for once she wished her friends would sometimes use the logic she knew was buried somewhere in their heads. "But…Professor Snape's considering using Malfoy for spying purposes. That…that low-life, cowardly, house-elf-abusing, spoiled, spineless…Malfoy." She spluttered.
Harry spoke for the first time. "Maybe Snape'll just use that spinelessness to bully him into turning double-agent on Voldemort." Wryly.
"I can see it now." Fred sighed dreamily. "Malfoy quivering in a little pale ball, pissing his pants because he's so scared and yes, yes, he'll do anything as long as Snape won't hurt him…"
Ron snickered. "Miniature Wormtail in the flesh."
"Hey, the only way to get bullies to obey you is bullying them." George shrugged comfortably, before eyeing Hermione with a tint of unease. "What?"
"Even bullies have feelings too." Just...maybe not Malfoy. But other bullies did. She sniffed, before quickly grabbing Harry's shirt as he lunged out of the bushes. "What are you doing?"
"Going to tell them I was listening." Her best friend struggled, eyeglasses crooked. "Going to tell Snape I believe him and that I…that I…I don't know, but they should know that I know about Snape now because it could be crucial in the future. And…it's the right thing to do." He finished lamely.
Hermione was torn between her sense of honor and her sense of self-preservation and just plain sense. "Do you honestly think that Snape will be pleased to know that you, son of his self-professed enemy, have now heard his deepest, darkest secrets?" she finally settled for saying.
"No." Harry looked at her, green eyes softening. "But I'm not his enemy anymore. We've got Voldemort to think about, all five remaining pieces of him." And he strode out to the grassy knoll as Hermione's hands dropped lifeless to her side.
"Don't worry, Hermione." Ron rubbed her back. "You tried to stop him. Idiot," he added for good measure.
She blushed unaccountably, but quickly flicked a tentative smile at her friends, half-joking and half-serious. "You know…I think Harry must've grown up somewhere between two weeks ago and now."
Ginny patted her hand. "It's better."
"I know. It's just that I sometimes miss the boy with broken, cellotaped glasses who thought that there wasn't any difference between Draco Malfoy and all the other bullies out there."
"I had dirt on my nose." Ron offered, a faint undercurrent of jealousy marring his words.
"Yes, you did. As a matter of fact, you have some right between your eyebrows now." George said matter-of-factly.
Hermione stared after Harry as Ron struggled to get Fred and George off of him. Without Dumbledore, who would Harry turn to? And as she watched Snape and Harry regard each other in a sort of stalemate, she wondered if maybe...maybe it could be Snape. Maybe Snape would look at Harry with clearer vision, and maybe he'd learn from his mistake with Malfoy.
What was Malfoy doing now?
She remembers a boy who retched out his meals, retched out his soul into a mildewing toilet simply because he wanted to fly. He remembers a girl who thought that books had all the answers in the world and was so disappointed when she found out that life's mysteries didn't lie ensconced in the pages of a dusty tome.
Do you remember?
To be continued…
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