Draco blinked once. Twice. He could feel that somewhere a body was pressed tightly against his, but he saw nothing around him but white. The light was nearly blinding the boy, he searched around. He tried to step forward but found he couldn't move.
"Oi!" He tried.
"Draco Malfoy," said a voice behind him. He jerked around, surprised that his feet would move now.
"Who are you?" He raised his hand, but his wand was gone.
"You don't recognize me," the voice answered. A man approached out of thin air. He had messy black hair and bright brown eyes. He smiled warmly at Draco.
"Harry?" Draco asked, confused.
"Close," James answered.
"Mr. Potter," muttered Draco, finding some politeness was needed.
"Very good," James put his hand on Draco's shoulder and ushered him towards a bright white building. Draco felt that it had been there the whole time, but he knew it had just appeared.
"I'm dead then," Draco said, strained. "I died."
"Not yet, actually."
"So, I'm alive?"
"James," a red-haired woman was waiting by the buildings gates. "You're confusing the boy."
"This is the judgment, Draco. You'll go before the Assembly and they'll decide your fate."
"I didn't get to say goodbye," Draco frowned.
"Neither did we," Lily replied.
"What are you doing?" Ron asked Dumbledore.
"You don't expect me to leave them here?"
"Sir, you said that it was out of our hands. What does that mean?" Harry asked, helping Sirius lift Hermione.
"She won't let go of his blasted hand!" Sirius whined.
"Draco faces the next step, what it is I do not know. As I have never died."
"Wow that would have been awful if you hadn't explained yourself." Ron said darkly.
"Draco Malfoy," a white-headed woman looked him over. "You've caused quite a stir among us. First an advocate for the dark, yet here you stand before us. Completely worthy of our forgiveness and even gratitude."
"So I can go back?" Draco asked hopefully.
"Young Malfoy, such haste. The choice is freely yours, but there are rules, of course."
"Rules," James scoffed softly, earning him an elbow from Lily.
"Rules, fine, rules are great. I just want to see Hermione again."
"Ah, and so it comes down to Miss Riddle."
"Granger," Draco corrected automatically.
"You believe she's worth saving then?"
"Hermione?" Draco asked confused. "Why wouldn't she, of all people, be worth saving?"
"Miss Riddle has caused as much chaos as you. Born of darkness, yet raised in the light. Best friend of Harry Potter. But now, a murderer."
"Snape deserved his fate!" Draco yelled.
"Severus Snape has been judged. And it is not the question of Miss Riddle, her time has not yet come. It's you, Mister Malfoy, that are being judged." The woman's clear blue eyes flared black for a moment.
"What are the rules," Draco asked defiantly.
"Sir, can we wake Hermione up soon?" Harry asked.
The group was back at Hogwarts being fixed up by Madame Pomfrey. Hermione and Draco were scrunched into one bed, considering Hermione would not let go of Draco's hand.
"I think not, we've got things to do, Mister Potter."
Everyone was forced out of the infirmary. Hermione opened one eye, checking if the coast was clear. Slowly, she opened the other. She rolled to the side, staring Draco in the face.
"I know you can hear me, Draco."
"Let me talk to her," Draco yelled.
"In good time, the choice must be made." The woman said.
"Give me the ruddy choices!" Draco attempted to move but his feet were glued to the ground again. Lily and James looked worried, but said nothing.
"The choices are…" began the woman. "One or Two."
Draco stared. Lily stared. James stared.
"What?" They asked at once.
"One or Two," the woman repeated.
"What's one?" Draco asked.
"A choice," the woman replied.
"What's two?" James asked.
"The other choice."
"Can you be anymore specific?" Draco asked.
The woman fixed him a glare, "No."
"Draco, I know you were trying to talk to me before we went to the ballroom. I'm really sorry I didn't listen, so whenever you want to open your eyes and tell me everything's okay. That'd be really great." Hermione tried to smile but couldn't hold back the tears.
"Hey, remember second year when you called me a Mudblood? Don't you feel silly now?" Soft tears fell into his pale hair. "And when Moody turned you into a ferret? How about when you gave me buckteeth? When you couldn't stop staring at me…at the Yule Ball? Do you remember?"
His hand squeezed hers briefly.
"LET ME TALK TO HER!" Draco demanded.
"Run, Draco," Lily moved to stand in front of him. The woman's black eyes flared again and she moved closer to Draco.
"We are loosing him."
"Let me talk to her!" Draco tried.
"Listen to Lily. If you want to save yourself, get away. Run, Draco."
"Where the hell was I supposed to go?"
"Exactly!" Lily yelled, as the woman lashed out at Draco. Three bloody gashes were left across his cheek.
Hermione jumped back as Draco's cheek began to tear and bleed.
"Fight it, Draco. Come back to me. You can't leave me like that. Please, come back, Draco."
His grip tightened.
"Run, Draco!" Lily yelled, shielding the boy from the white lady.
Draco ran the opposite direction. His heart was pounding, his face was bloody, yet he ran. Draco Malfoy ran into the waiting arms of the devil. Everything faded to black.
"Draco?" a soft voice was calling to him.
"Hermione?" he asked, just as softly.
"Not quite," the woman laughed.
"You did it, Draco. You passed the test. You turned your back on darkness to fight for the light. You had to run to the dark, to save yourself."
"That doesn't make any sense," Draco said as she smiled at him. "And why you? Why not my parents?"
"You were always jealous of Harry. He had two loving parents, sure we might be dead…but we love him. You, who have never known anything but cruelty, looked for it desperately."
"I found it in Hermione, at least, I think I did."
"Well, I suggest you get your bum into gear and talk to her." James laughed, putting his arm around Lily.
"Oh, and Draco," Lily smiled at him again. "Not everything has to make sense."
"Remember when Ron tried to curse you and ended up hurting himself? Remember when I hit you? That was fun."
Draco coughed. "That was not fun, Granger."
"Oh, Merlin!" She threw her arms around him and pulled him into a tight hug. He pulled away.
"I've got some stuff to say. I'm not a poet so this isn't going to sound right at all. But Hermione, I want to be with you. I want the whole boyfriend thing. I want to go to Hogsmeade and I want to do that stupid grin when we walk by each other in the hallway. I want to have inside jokes and all that junk. I've never made a fool of myself before you came along, Hermione. I want to be your fool."
"Draco, everything's so different." Hermione replied. "A week ago you wouldn't have looked twice at me. You find out I'm Voldemort's daughter, I almost get killed, you almost get killed and now you want to be with me forever?"
She stood up, almost ready to get away from him.
"Yeah, Granger. That's what I want. I just want to be normal for a while."
"Draco, that doesn't make any sense!"
Draco smiled, for once he was ready with a witty comeback to stump bookworm Granger.
"Hermione, not everything makes sense."