Author's Note: Oh, thanks for all the reviews! I seriously wasn't expecting more than 1 or 2. I've taken all the constructive criticism to heart and have tried my best to do a better job this time around (although I don't think I succeeded all that admirably). And sorry it took so long!
'just a question' - I understand your concern for how them (Draco and Hermione)being involved in the wedding and then taking off the next day to go join the Death Eaters will work out (I myself am worried ifI'll be able to pull it off convincingly or not), but I mean...Lucius Malfoy isn't exactly going to be standing around eating cake and dancing the macarena and then reporting back to Voldemort, is he? (ha, although that would be totally amusing if he were)
Hermione awoke with a start as she heard a loud crack. She blinked, and heard Ginny mumble sleepily "what was that, 'Mione?" She shushed her, reaching around for her wand, when suddenly the whole room was illuminated.
"Harry! Ron! What are you doing?" she exclaimed as her eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness. They both exchanged looks, and then sat down on the edge of her bed. Ginny rubbed her eyes and sat up.
"We were wondering how lessons with Malfoy went. We haven't gotten to talk to you since dinner."
Hermione noticed the concern etched all over their faces and was touched, but rolled her eyes anyway. "And it was absolutely urgent you discuss this with me at two in the morning instead of waiting a few more hours?"
They exchanged sheepish looks. "Well," said Ron, "…yeah."
She snorted. "What do you want to know? It wasn't much of a less, I decided to take a nap after about five minutes. He talked about getting the Dark Mark, I asked him why he switched sides, he called me a mudblood, and I told him I wanted to sleep. That was about it. If you were hoping for a reason to hate him, I'm afraid I haven't got one."
"But he's evil, 'Mione! How can you defend him? He calls you…you know!"
Hermione exchanged exasperated looks with Ginny. They had already talked about it, and though Ginny acted a little like Ron at first, she had finally been convinced by Hermione that although Malfoy was still obnoxious, he wasn't evil.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows darkly. "I'm not entirely convinced he's switched sides, either."
Hermione looked at her two best friends and wondered how she put up with their pig-headedness sometimes.
"You two are being ridiculous. First off, I've gotten used to him calling me a mudblood. I seriously do not care anymore. Second off-" she said loudly, for Ron started to interrupt "he was under the influence of the strongest Veritaserum possible, no one can lie with that, you two are just completely prejudiced. Granted, he's still an arrogant, condescending, annoying ass, but you two are being completely stubborn. Accept it already: Malfoy is on our side."
Harry looked her straight in the eye. "You always defended Snape like that."
"We never gave Snape Veritaserum, either."
There was a stony silence, broken when Ron let out a moan of impatience. "You can't seriously be convinced that he's actually changed his mind about the Dark Arts in just a few days!"
"Yes," she said, a little coldly, "I can." She softened a little, immediately feeling guilty about her tone. They only had a week left with each other before they would all be seperated for...who knew how long. "Please, can you two just go back to sleep?"
Harry sighed heavily. "I guess…I guess you're right, Hermione."
Ron looked shocked, his mouth hanging open, but he said nothing.
"Goodnight Hermione, Ginny." And Harry disapparated. Ron stood there for a moment longer, still looking taken aback, then with a sigh similar to Harry's, he mumbled a goodnight, and disapparated as well.
Hermione looked over at Ginny. Ginny was staring at the ceiling, a rather sad look on her face, but when she felt Hermione's eyes on her she looked over and smiled. "Those two…"
Hermione smiled, extinguishing the light with her wand.
"You have to do it with some feeling. You can't expect a curse to work if you yourself are hoping it won't."
It was eleven in the morning, and Hermione and Malfoy had been practicing for three hours. Her hair, which at the beginning had been pulled up into a bun, was now a noticeably disheveled mess. She threw him an icy glare.
"Well, the thing is, I don't want it to."
He crossed his arms impatiently. "Oh, that's a lovely attitude to have when you're going to be facing Voldemort in four days and be asked to perform this on a person."
Hermione felt her whole body cringe at the offhand way he tossed in that she would soon be torturing a living, breathing human being. Well, she thought to herself, this is what I've gotten myself into. This is what it's going to take to win the war. I have to suck it up. After our side is victorious, it will all be worth it.
It had taken Malfoy half and hour to get her to even agree to practicing curses on tea cups transfigured into animals, and he was deeply skeptical of how she would perform when it was necessary. Top in the year she may have been, but she was going to have to be a lot more enthusiastic if they were going to pull this off. She gave him sneers he was almost proud of when he had explained the curses she would be learning that day. He frowned, looking thoughtful.
"Maybe you'll do better if you practice them on me…"
Her eyes grew wide and her mouth fell open. "Practice them on you! Are you insane?"
He glared at her. "It's possible. But this way you'll have that extra hate of me channeling into your power. It will make the curse stronger. You know the counter-curse, and this one isn't all that dangerous."
"Not all that dangerous!" she shrieked. "What exactly do you consider dangerous, then?"
He ignored her and went to stand by the window, 10 feet away from her. "On the count of three-"
"I don't think-"
"Well fine, you're asking-"
A dark blue light shot out from the tip of her wand and struck him in the middle of his stomach. He immediately doubled over, moaning loudly, clearly in immense pain-
"Laxo Morsus," she said almost immediately, but weakly, her face white. Malfoy grimaced, stood up, and surveyed her with piercing gray eyes.
"Not bad for your first try on a person. Helps to have hate, doesn't it? Unfortunately, you won't have any animosity for the people you'll be cursing. But that's not important right now. I'm actually surprised you didn't let me go on for a little while longer…but I suppose you're the virtuous, noble one of the group." He scrunched his nose in distaste. Hermione still was a little shaky from having performed her first bit of dark magic on human, but put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes.
"You know, for someone who is on the right side, the virtuous and noble side, you certainly don't like its views very much, do you?"
He ignored her again, and they stood in an awkward silence for a moment, until Ginny popped her head in the door, bright red hair a startling contrast to the otherwise drab room.
"Mum says lunch is ready and you two better come down quick before it's all gone." She gave Malfoy a slightly nasty look, then continued on her way down the stairs.
"Unforgivable Curses after lunch, then?"
Hermione groaned, but nodded. What the hell am I doing?
Author's Note: eh, that was kind of crappy. review anyway, i'll appreciate it, even if you're just telling me how crappy it was.
spoilers for next chapter! expect: Occlumency, overworked! and contemplative!Hermione, and a kiss (but notbetween who you may think...all in good time, my dears!)