If it was you

A/N: So, obviously, NOT DH-compliant, after you guys read THAT piece of crap. Sorry. I'm just totally bitter about the epilogue and the people who died… I totally hate canon…

Thanks to my loyal readers and reviewers. You guys are amazing.

The Plan

Hermione Granger had never had a door slammed in her face. Nor had she had it slammed in her face when she'd been in the act of expressing very personal and affectionate feelings; it was a very rude, and vile thing to do. So of course, she was shocked. Stunned beyond belief at the immensely nasty thing that had been done to her.

So, after gasping in complete and total offense, fuming, she began to knock again. It had never occurred to her that maybe she should just walk away – she'd done what she'd wanted to do (though, she hadn't really known it was what she'd wanted to do until she'd actually done it), and he'd literally slammed the door in her face. Maybe he'd heard her. Maybe he hadn't.

"Malfoy, open your damn door!" she started to shout. "Malfoy!"

He opened it again, but his expression didn't change. To be honest, it looked as if it'd gotten even fouler, though maybe it was just her eyes playing tricks on her.

(It wasn't. It really had gotten fouler.)

"I can't believe you had the absolute nerve to slam the door on me while—"

"While what, Granger?" he snarled. "Because to be honest, I could have left you out here all day. I could have simply cast a silencing spell to conceal your knocks to my ears. I didn't have to answer the door, but I did. Now that was an act of consideration and kindness. And to be quite damn frank with you, Hermione, you're not my most favorite person in this place right now. In fact, Potter's looking pretty good right now from where you are with me."

"I can't bloody believe you," Hermione seethed. "Here I am, trying to be honest for once—"

"Oh yes, well, God help us all if Hermione Granger isn't distributing a bit of truth in the world," he hissed.

"Stop interrupting me!"

"Stop knocking on my door!"

And then he tried to close the door on her again, but she'd wedged her foot in so that he couldn't.

"Granger, your foot, or you're going to be limping for the rest of your life."

"Malfoy, did you even hear what I said?"

He let go of the door, his face emanating with his anger. "Yes, of course I heard you, you stupid bint!" he shouted. "It doesn't take a bloody genius, you know! I already knew it!"

She didn't know why, but she started to cry – and not tears of joy, either. "You already knew?" It was a stupid question, undoubtedly one of the stupidest questions to have ever fled her mouth (or ever had been conjured up in her overcrowded brain), because – of course he knew. It was just one of those things, she reckoned, you would have been daft not to know. So why had she bothered even telling him? In fact, what had been her ultimate goal harassing Draco Malfoy's door and then telling him that she loved him? To publicly humiliate herself, like those men who urinated in the middle of the street with no cover? Or maybe just to wrench the Evil Past of Doom wide open and stick it in his face, asking whether she should throw it out or keep it as some sort of pet?

"Granger, I may be a prick, but I'm not stupid. You're the only one around here who's been snorting up on the dumb drug, so excuse me if I think you're a little too late telling me that you love me."

"Too late?" Hermione echoed, her vision starting to get all blurry. She quickly wiped them away with the back of her hand. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying it doesn't matter," Draco said lowly.

"It doesn't matter?" But she felt her temper creeping up on her again, starting from the backs of her ankles to the nape of her neck, until she could feel it reaching around her throat. Slowly, ever so slowly, she was starting to pick up the pieces in her head. She had a flashback of Hogwarts. The Dark Mark. She looked down at his arm, but it was still unmarked. Unblemished.

"If you're trying to push me away," she said through her teeth, as firmly as she could, "it isn't working."

"I'm afraid you're the expert at pushing people away, Granger, not me."

"Don't say that."

"Don't say what?"

"That I pushed you away. That isn't true."

"Right. What was I thinking?" Draco was shaking his head. "You didn't push me away. Silly me. You harassed me away."

She scowled at him. "That isn't funny."

"I'm not a clown, Granger. It wasn't supposed to be."

She was quiet for a while. "So that's it, then?" she said, dryly laughing a little, even though she didn't really know why. This was funny. Her finally coming around to tell him that she loved him after all of these agonizing weeks and months and she was being blocked off. It was the sad kind of funny, though. But still, a little funny.

"I've done what I've needed to do, and that's it. You're just going to tell me it's too late."

"What were you expecting, Granger?" he asked her. His face was serious.

She wanted to punch him. She didn't have her wand, so when the sudden desire for impulsive violence boiled up she resorted to more primitive actions, like fists, or maybe slapping.

And maybe she really would have, too, if they hadn't heard footsteps and suddenly looked to see Remus, Narcissa, and Tonks standing at the end of the corridor.

"Oy!" shouted Tonks, as they walked towards them. "What the bloody hell is going on up here? We could hear you all the way downstairs!"

Hermione looked down, her cheeks coloring, when she felt the three adults standing next to her and Draco. Suddenly, she felt like she was fourteen again – which was a very loathsome feeling, seeing as how she was not fourteen, she was a grown adult. But these last few months she'd felt as if she'd been catapulted back into her adolescence, the insufferable aspects of it all: the restraints, the roadblocks, the frustrations. It was funny (and painful. Funny in the way that it was painful). The moment she'd seen his face, she'd lost all possible reins on adulthood and maturity she thought she'd had. She'd gone around punching and breaking his nose, for God's sake!

Tonks was smirking. She patted Hermione's head like she was a little child. "Do we need to tell you children to behave?"

"They're not children," said Remus.

"Yet they insist on acting like it," commented Narcissa, her eyebrows raised. "From what I heard, it wasn't a very grown-up conversation—"

"Sorry," blurted Hermione, still uncomfortable meeting their eyes. She thought they could see right through her – see that she'd just confessed her love for Draco Malfoy and that he'd slammed the door in her face. Could rejection be so blatant?

"I promise it won't happen again."

"Why not?" snorted Tonks. "It'd sure liven up this house. No offense, Narcissa. But it's just a bit… dead around here. Ever since you removed those creepy paintings, of course. Just like Sirius' place. But now it's as silent as a grave."

Narcissa gave her son a look. "We just wanted to check up on the noise."

"Surprised you haven't woken up Harry," said Remus.

"Maybe he's dead," muttered Draco under his breath.

"Oh, he's probably not even napping," Tonks said playfully, winking at Hermione. "Probably just brooding, like he always does. That's what heroes always do. They brood."

Then there was silence. An incredibly tense silence. Hermione looked down to the floor, Tonks was beaming at the top of everyone's heads, Narcissa was looking at her son, Draco was scowling, and Remus was where he was at the moment but still thinking about Harry, as always.

"Oh, Dumbledore's coming," Tonks finally said, breaking the awkwardness. "We just got an owl."

Remus tensed. Narcissa's eyes quickly shifted to her, and pursed her lips.

"Nymphadora, I don't think—"

"Don't call me Nymphadora, Remus, how many times have I told you—"

"Yes, well," Narcissa said breezily – but quickly, and rushed. "Good to see you two haven't gotten involved in fisticuffs. We must be off. As she said, Dumbledore's coming."

"Well – is it anything—" started Hermione.

"Don't concern yourself," she said, as they all began to walk back down the hall. "If he needs to see you, you'll be summoned."

Tonks and Lupin were whispering to each other as they disappeared down the hall. When they were gone, Hermione looked up at Draco. He looked grim.

"Dumbledore's here. Does that mean—"

"I don't know, Granger."

She began to get angry. "Why doesn't anyone ever tell me anything around here?"

"Now that's just not true, is it? You've been told plenty," he said annoyingly. "So just mind your own business. Go read a book or something."

"Fine," she huffed angrily, no longer wanting to be around him. She was sickened by him. She turned around and began to walk away, but before she heard the click of his door, she turned around again, her eyes ablaze.

"And as for your previous question," she seethed. "A little reciprocation would be nice."

Draco looked at her, registering what she meant. 'What were you expecting?'

For a moment, Hermione thought she saw his eyes soften. That murky gray – like fog in a harbor, or tainted rain. All she knew was, his pompous ass façade seemed to give way a little.

But when he spoke, his tone was neither nice nor icy. It was perfectly indifferent, and Hermione did not know how to take it.

"Unlike you, I find no need to tell people what they already know."

And then for the second time, he shut his door.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Severus Snape, still displeased with the spectacle (and the failure of it) in the hall with the young Malfoy, was in the dungeon, brewing the potions. He watched the rise of the smoke from the cauldron and counted stirs. He closely checked the texture and the color. But even through this routine, he was deeply enveloped by his thoughts – and none of the pleasant variety – with a pair of gleaming blue eyes leering at him from behind the iron bars.

"Severus. Severussssssss," the old man hissed.

Snape ignored him.

"Oh, now now, Severus. It would be foolish to act as if you don't hear me. Because if you don't hear me, then you most certainly hear the Dark Lord." He let out a grainy, guttural chuckle. "Whispering in your ear. Tapping into your mind." He let out a howl. "You'll never get away with this, Severus! Never! He's coming! He's here!"

He pounded his fists against the bars, shaking his head back like a madman. He was cackling crazily, his eyes rolling back.

"Wait 'til he finds out… oh, and he will… I can't wait," he shouted. "I can't wait for me master to return!"

"You're an idiot," Snape finally snarled at him, with a twisted face. "You're on a side that cannot win."

"You have so little faith, my brother," the old man said. "Is that why you're working for the light side? Because you believe the Dark cannot win?" He began to laugh again. "My, my. A fair-weather fan. One shudders to think what would happen if the Dark did win. And it will. You underestimate the Dark Lord's power."

"And you," snarled Snape, "overestimate."

Suddenly, he let out another howl – a different sort of howl. It was one of extreme pain, shrill to the ears, but just as crazed. Snape watched him closely. He began to shake about, holding his arm out. The veins on his neck began to bulge – blue, purple. When this was all done, the man was breathing heavily, his face warped like a maniac. Blood was trickling out of his nose, drool from his mouth. His eyes were glistening and sweat matted his gray hair to his forehead.

He pressed his face against the bars. An evil smirk sliced itself unto his lips.

"Can't you feel it, Severus? He's looking for you."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

That night, the members of the Order gathered inside the vast living room of the Malfoy Manor. They were served tea, but while some held onto their cups, they barely drank. There was intensity in the air as they waited for Dumbledore to arrive. Molly Weasley was huddled in a corner with her sons – even Ron Weasley was there, on an invitation of pity. They reckoned he deserved to know what was going on, seeing as how he would not be going along on the mission. All of the members of Dumbledore's Army were in attendance; Luna Lovegood asking if there was perhaps any pudding, and Neville quietly nibbling on some biscuits while Ginny whispered to him about something (the younger Weasley had ditched with her Head of House, apparently). Even Cho Chang came, who, to be quite honest, nobody really talked to. Seamus and Dean tried to distract their minds from the matter at hand by discussing Quidditch, though to be honest the subject did not hold the vigor it once held before.

They were all chatting quietly, nervously glancing around from time to time.

When Draco finally came down, his eyes flickered across the crowd. He spotted Granger sitting with Ron on one of the couches, her hand on top of his, talking softly. They hugged from occasionally. It was a perfectly sickening thing to watch – it got his stomach all done up in knots. He hated it how even with so much time gone he still felt jealous of her relationship with Weasley, even more so with Potter. They seemed to be an embodiment of the two people he could never be – not that he wanted to be, of course, but they were the two most important people to her, and that seemed to count as something. Something he really wished it didn't.

It was just that he knew (he wasn't fool) that even if he did mean something to her, he wouldn't mean nearly quite as much as Weasel and Scarface. If it ever came to it, she'd always choose them instead of him. And what did he have to choose between her and someone else for? There was no one else. To be quite frank, there was nobody else that mattered to him as much as she did, and it was a little pathetic.

He stepped down from the stairs and immediately felt out of place, looking around for his mother, but instead he seemed to have caught the eye of that one girl that Potter used to have a thing with. Something Chang. Chit Chang. Chi Chi Chang. It wasn't intentional, but it seemed she thought it was, because once their eyes met she made a straight beeline for him. He looked around, wanting to escape, and his eyes immediately landed on Granger. This time Potter was with them, and seeing their cozy little group didn't make him feel any better, and that didn't help him any at all.

It was obvious, though, the way she was standing there all by herself with her little tea cup that she was kind of a leper around here. Just like he was. Perhaps that was why she wanted to partner up with him, so they could be lepers together.

God. As if he'd want Potter's leftovers.

Seriously, this Chi Chi Chang was not as smart as Ravenclaw House gave out.

"Hi," she said, smiling, appearing next to him.

Draco ignored her.

"I don't know if you remember me, but I'm Cho. I didn't know you were… I mean, I always thought Slytherins were…"

"Yes, it's a common myth, isn't it?" he quipped nastily.

She stammered. "Oh, no, I didn't mean it that way. I'm sorry. I just thought—"

"Say, hear anything from that Cedric fellow?"

She instantly paled.

"You know, vacationing in Peru for this long, I really don't know. A lot of people seem to think he's dead, but I just got a post card from him last week. He's a very recluse fellow. Oh, look. Liquor."

And then he swaggered off, leaving Cho Chang as white as dust, before she burst into silent tears and cried into her tea.

Dean and Seamus, who had been silently eavesdropping, rushed over to help comfort her, glaring at his back. He also failed to notice someone else giving him a right sneer – Hermione Granger, who was over at the couch.

To be honest, there was no liquor – that they were serving, anyway – but Draco had walked off to the kitchen to chug down some of his strongest scotch, anyway. It comforted him. Made him feel sane. Hard liquor always did.

He came back when he heard a loud Pop! and the soft mumbling and chatter instantly die away. He stood over at the archway, spotting the soft gold of Dumbledore's extravagant attire.

"Good evening. I assume all of you—ah, Mister Bell."

Draco's body stiffened. He quickly searched the crowd for his half-brother and finally saw him as he stepped forward. People began to whisper. Potter and Granger, he saw, were glaring at him and not bothering to hide it.

"Albus," he said smugly. "I'm here to help."

"Well," said Dumbledore, obviously not having that in mind. "We shall see." Then he turned to the others again. "It gladdens me to see all of you good and well, and to have returned. I'm sure you were all surprised to have been summoned today, but there's been a change of plans."

People began to whisper again. Dumbledore silenced them.

"It seems the Dark Lord has gained immense confidence. He may have recruited someone – someone we least expected – to aid his cause."

At this, Draco could feel the burning stare of one Severus Snape drilling right into his temple. Too bad he was good at blocking him out. He could feel his former professor trying to sneak into his thoughts, but Draco was too good at keeping him out.

Something to hide, he could almost hear him say. If you're keeping me out, you've got something to hide.

"Do you know who it is?" piped up one of the members.

"No, unfortunately, I do not," answered Dumbledore. "But I advise you to keep your guards up, for it could even be someone in this very room."

Before anyone could look around and spot him, Draco hid behind the archway, closing his eyes, gingerly holding his bottle of scotch held against his chest. His throat burned. Tonight.

He could feel the intensity, though. Radiating through the thick walls, passing over him. He could sense everyone's eyes inspecting every single person, suspicion rising like a high tide, caution being painted all around like alarming red paint. Everyone's breathing had silenced almost so that it was undetectable. You could cut the air with a butter knife; it was that thick.

"Are you suggesting we have a traitor among us?" asked another.

Dumbledore chuckled, but it was not very reassuring. "I highly doubt it. The Order can be trusted, can it not? Every single one here has a pure heart. I am certain of it. We all have reasons we are here, and none of them can be wrong. But it still would not hurt to keep on your toes."

Draco held the glass tighter. It was cold against his sweaty, throbbing palms.

"I have been informed that the Dark Lord has begun. We must be on our guard, but we must stay put."

Everyone gasped. Then everyone began to shout out.

"What? We can't stay here! We must have a plan!" someone said. It sounded like that Irish fellow, one of Potter's friends.

There was a smile in his voice. "That is the plan."

"Albus." Draco recognized the voice to be McGonagall's. She sounded nervous. "I really don't think—"

"Yes, yes, well. Until we know exactly—"

The truth was that Dumbledore did have a plan, but before he could explain any of it, some things still had to be done. Draco knew this, so Draco didn't protest. He opened his eyes and looked at the clock. It was almost time. It was almost midnight. He took one last swig of scotch before he put it away, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, relishing the burn he felt at the pit of his stomach. Then he stood there for a minute, trying to take it all in, before he used one of the secret Manor passageways to get to his room.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Albus Dumbledore turned to Hermione, looking at her.

"Miss Granger, I'd like to speak to you afterwards. Would you mind meeting me in the library?"

Hermione was shocked, but nodded firmly. "No, not at all, sir. I'll be there. Of course."

Ron and Harry were looking at her worriedly as Dumbledore resumed talking to the rest of the people about their duties.

"Oy, Hermione… maybe I should go with you, I mean…" said Ron, trailing off.

"I can handle myself perfectly fine, Ron," she said, intending to snap it at him, but finding her voice sounding slightly (but just slightly) flimsy. "He just wants to talk. Besides," she said, whispering, "I'll be fine."

"Yeah, well, just in case," he said. Then he sounded a little bitter. "You know, I'm still not over the whole me sitting idle and doing needlepoint while you two go traipsing off to fight the Big Fat Baddies."

"Ron."

It was Harry. He had that tone in his voice, and even without looking up Hermione could tell he had that look on his face, too. The one that said, Don't go there. And this time Ron didn't challenge him, because part of him understood (although he still didn't think it was fair), and as rash as he was, he reckoned the last thing everyone needed was him picking a fight. It was the one thing he could do to be helpful: keeping still and shutting up.

So he just sighed, though a bit miserably. "Right, fine. Sorry."

When Dumbledore had finally finished, Hermione got up to head upstairs, but not before she felt someone tug on her hand. She looked down to see Harry looking up at her, his hand on her hand. And then he stood up, letting go, and Ron, seeing what was going on, cleared his throat and said something about hearing Ginny calling him over before disappearing to the other end of the room.

Hermione looked around, tentative. She could see Ginny and Cho sending them looks before Ron grabbed both their shoulders and turned them around to face the curtains. Even Dean, Seamus and Neville found themselves turning away and clearing their throats when Hermione caught their eye, who'd obviously been watching them as well. Luna, however, was picking something out of her teacup.

She was scared to look at Harry's face because she could feel inside that this was supposed to be epic. She was terrified of what he was going to tell her. Suddenly, as she avoided his eyes, she really wanted the easy friendship they'd had back then. Before this whole Absolution potion, True Love business. And it wasn't even because he'd confronted her about Draco just this morning. It wasn't even remotely about that – this whole awkwardness. It was just because she found Harry holding her hand again, in a roomful of people they knew, and it made her more uncomfortable than she could have ever imagined.

"Whatever happens," she heard him say. She glimpsed to his face to their hands, feeling her stomach give out a bothersome lurch. "We're… you're going to be fine." His voice dropped to a meaningful whisper. "I won't let anything happen to you."

She looked into his face then. He really meant it – she could tell, and she felt uneasy all over again. She swallowed hard.

"Thanks, Harry," she said, forcing a smile. She slipped her hand out from his. "But I've got to go."

And then she turned, making her way to the stairs, well aware of his eyes (and everyone else's) following her as she climbed, making her quicken her pace, until she was finally out of sight.

She passed through the corridors, only now noticing the absence of the paintings on the walls, hearing the sound of the quiet chatter slowly fade away. She paused for a moment, feeling the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck stand in anticipation, before she opened the door and stepped into the library.

To her surprise, she found a lone figure she knew rather well standing right in the middle of the library, watching her. She jumped when she heard the door close behind her, feeling her pulse start to quicken.

"Malfoy," she said, a little alarmed. "What are you doing here?"

"This is my library," he answered matter-of-factly. "What are you doing here?"

"Dumbledore asked me to meet him here," she said, giving him a look. "He wanted to talk."

"Oh, right," said Draco, with vacant emotion.

Then there was silence. Hermione watched him closely, anxiously twiddling her fingers at her side.

"Well?" she demanded, after one excruciating minute of quiet. "Aren't you going to leave?"

She was surprised at the hostility and animosity her voice gave out. It was strange. You'd think that after they'd both finally acknowledged they loved each other (he didn't say it directly – but she wasn't a fool), things would be easier. Things would be nicer. They would be nicer. But it wasn't. Somehow, things were just as complicated and tangled up as before. She couldn't understand that, but she didn't think she really could take the time to, seeing as how they were probably on the eve of the great battle. But that was the thing: would things ever get easier between them? She couldn't imagine it. They were either always fighting or hiding.

It would feel strange if they weren't doing one or the other.

He looked at her. His face was expressionless, and she found that it scared her a little. She wasn't used to this – him being indifferent. Not scowling at her, not sneering at her. His face was perfectly unaffected, and blank, and it threw her off.

"Of course," he said.

He started towards her, her eyes traveling to the rich patterns on the floor as he came closer, clenching her fists. But just as he was about to pass her, she spoke up.

"I saw you."

He stopped.

"Talking to Cho."

Her voice was dripping with jealousy. Draco found a smirk playing on his lips.

"Oh, was that her name?"

"Don't be stupid," she said scornfully.

"Honestly, Granger. I would never take Potter's leftovers, no matter how desperate I was. Now, the question is: would he take mine?"

Hermione's entire body tensed. She felt a cold freeze inside the walls of her skull, her lungs tightening until they felt like two rocks sitting in the middle of her chest, furiously whipping her head in his direction. She was infuriated. Her brown eyes were glittering with anger.

"Why, you—"

And then he kissed her. His hands clutched the softness of her neck, digging into her frizzy, untamed curls. She was so surprised that she didn't think to struggle – in fact, in her moment of confusion, she even kissed him back.

Then suddenly, she found something sharp digging into the bottom of her jaw, and before she could react – before she could push him away – she saw a bright white light and a loud noise in her ears, and then there was nothing.

Granger's body fell limp into his arms, catching her, dragging her over to the couch and laying her there. Draco struggled a little, but managed to get her whole body there.

"God, Granger," he grunted. "I think you've been eating a little too luxuriously here."

Just then, Draco heard the door open and looked up to see Albus Dumbledore entering the room.

"Ah, I see you've got Miss Granger all settled in, Mister Malfoy. I expect Severus should be coming up here with the potions shortly. You've got the hairs? And what about your mother? I've got the Order waiting downstairs." He paused, looking down at Hermione in a deep sleep on the couch. "Now, she looks rather different asleep, doesn't she? Peaceful? Like a little lamb?"

"Yes. Her sharp teeth don't show," quipped Draco, looking down at her as well.

Dumbledore cracked a smile. "Yes," he agreed. "They don't show at all."

The door opened again, revealing Snape carrying a caseload of vials with his mother behind him. Draco caught his former Head of House's eye and the man immediately gave him a frosty look that lingered even on his bones. His mother looked from Draco to Dumbledore to Granger on the couch.

"Is she out?"

"Quite much."

"Someone ought to make sure. Draco, if you were the least bit distracted when you enacted the spell, its effects might not last as long as it should."

"Narcissa, time is not a luxury we have," Albus said. "Miss Granger will be fine. Now, the vials? The hairs? Are we all clear on the plan?"

Draco, feeling the fierce momentum of the moment throbbing inside his veins, took out the small cloth holding Granger's hair from earlier today. His mother did the same, holding out her son's, which shone in the light.

"Again, be cautious. We must be cautious. There's no telling with Voldemort." Dumbledore seemed weary as he said this. "Lives will be lost. When it comes down to it, save only those that matter. Protect Potter." Dumbledore gave both Narcissa and Draco firm looks. "Severus, the potion."

Snape handed both Draco and his mother a vial. It was colored scarlet, although thicker than blood – not your ordinary Polyjuice Potion, in the least. It was tougher, durable, but it still only lasted an hour. Somehow Snape, no matter how good of a Potions Master he was, could not find his way around that. There were just some rules you could not break.

They popped open the vials. The scent instantly reached their noses – acrid, strong. They added their hairs in, making sure each one made it in, watching as the potion was activated, violently bubbling, eating up the hairs.

Snape was watching Draco closely, his eyes narrowed.

He heard his ex-professor's voice inside his head.

The Dark Lord spares no one. Remember that.

Draco's eyes glanced up at him, but quickly looked away as both he and Narcissa prepared to drink the potion.

"Bottoms up," said Dumbledore.

"Godspeed," Draco muttered, before he downed the thick liquid. The moment it touched his tongue it seemed to burn – reaching all the way down to his toes. He felt as if every hair on his body had stood up, and then began to wither. His bones began to pop and make grotesque noises, his skin stretching out and then shrinking in. His hands shrunk, and they became softer, daintier, but slightly calloused from writing so much. There was a barrage of sickening crunches and cracks, his body shifting itself, inside-out. This went on for a full minute before it stopped – the churning in his stomach, the burning, and the contortions (he called the process of Polyjuicing a freak show) – and he opened his eyes. He found himself staring at… well, himself.

Which was really his mother.

She smirked at him.

"You're wearing a dress," he remarked, but his voice was coarse, and cracked rather nastily. He cleared his throat. He said it again, and this time it was perfect. Concise, clear. He even got the tone down.

Granger.

Hermione Granger.

"Don't worry, son," his mother said, in his cool drawl. "I'll wear a cloak."

"Well," said Dumbledore. "So who shall summon Potter? Draco or Hermione?"

"Erm, I will," said Draco. "I'll summon the little prick."

Severus sneered. "Draco," he said through his teeth. "Play the part."

"That's right," Narcissa said smugly. "Play the part."

"I'm sorry, I'm not used to having breasts and a vagina. Let me try that again." He cleared his throat. "I'll go. I'll summon the little beefcake." Draco was smiling evilly.

Snape rolled his eyes. "For God's sake."

"Mister Malfoy, there is no time. Throw on a cloak. Take no chances, do you understand? Everything," he emphasized, "can be lost."

"Right," said Draco. "Right. Uh huh." He picked up his cloak, which was a little big, so he traded for his mother's instead, then he headed out. But just as he was walking down the corridor to Potter's room, he stopped. He thought for a minute, staring at the two mounds of flesh he suddenly had placed on his chest.

Well.

He sighed.

This was an opportunity.

To see or not to see?

He couldn't help it. He snuck a peek down her shirt.

Damn. That was a good view. Best view ever, in fact. He wondered if everyone in heaven (if there was a heaven – he'd still never be able to get a look at the place, though) could look down people's shirts like that. Lucky bastards. If he'd known that there were breast-staring perverts living up in heaven then he certainly, by all means, would have been a lot nicer to people when he was younger. Maybe even have given a person a hug or two.

And then, after admiring the general splendor and view (and even a good cup with his hands – what? He'd never been a girl before), he quickly resumed his walking down the hall, never once noticing the man watching him from a dark distant corner.

"Well, well, well," quietly whispered Erick Bell. "What have we got here? Seems you haven't been telling all like you claim you have, Albus. Not at all." He chuckled to himself, before fetching out an iron, rusted key from his pocket.

"Good thing the Ministry's here to set a few things right."

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