Disclaimer: Witty disclaimers are hard to write. HA. I don't own Harry Potter. If I did, book seven of the series would've been called 'Harry Potter and the Mud-Wrestling Match with Sexy Draco.' Now I don't know about you guys, but THAT sounds like some good literature to me.
Thanks for the reviews: You...complete me (Ha...Tom Cruise).
A/N: Okay guys, I've finally finished chapter seven (two people in the world cheer). Sorry it's taken awhile, but my senior year just started and let me tell you...it sucks. Well, it's not as bad as the others, but bleh, it's still school. The gaps between my chapters might start to grow a little larger at this point, what with preparing for college and having to write about ten short stories a week for my creative writing class, but don't worry, I would never abandon Hermione and Draco! So, for all the people who have read this much without going, 'whatever, this chick's dumb, what happens to Malfoy?' and skipping this note, I'd like to thank you for following this story so far and say kindly to enjoy chapter seven!
"Well, he's obviously not telling the truth."
Hermione gaped widely at her old Defense Against the Darks Arts teacher, half-hoping that a small smile would appear on his worn face and reveal the fact that he was joking. Sadly, his mouth remained firmly straight; his eyes the same unaffected blue as before. She shook her head defiantly and cast her gaze towards the ceiling. He was being ridiculous. "You must be joking," she stated, staring at Lupin obliviously.
"I don't joke very much, Hermione. Especially when we're talking about Death Eaters." He shared a meaningful look with his girlfriend, who nodded her pink-hued head vigorously. Moody grunted in the corner and his electric-blue eye swam sickeningly in his socket.
"But...he's made a Vow with me! How can you possibly suggest that he's being untruthful?" She stood up quickly from her chair and paced the cluttered kitchen, dim yellow light dancing in her disbelieving eyes. This is preposterous, she thought frantically as Lupin shifted in his chair, looking furtive. She stopped pacing and pointed a shaking finger at him. "You've got it in for him- you've had it in for him from the start!" She knew she was being unreasonable- making wild statements- but some part of her was unbelievably angry at their skepticism. They had no idea the guilt that still weighed on her from the night before...the way she had taken the life out of those usually lively (be it with malice) silver eyes. And now they were daring enough to question him, and ultimately, question her? Part of her felt almost...betrayed, she thought angrily, defiantly meeting their unwavering stares.
"You heard him yourself, Miss," Moody spoke as he lumbered out of the corner looking thoughtful. "The boy knows a bit or two about Unbreakable Vows. Hell, only a handful of wizards know how to bend the rules of an Unbreakable Vow, most of them havin' learned that trick from You-Know-Who himself." He shook his head. "It's downright dirty, cheating on a Vow. Having the 'intentions' to be truthful while keepin' your jaw shut." His thin mouth was set in a scowl as he cast his eyes upward toward the ceiling where Malfoy undoubtedly was silently snoozing. "I'll be damned if the boy's not keepin' a hell of a lot of information from us."
Hermione could hardly speak. She looked pleadingly at Tonks, who raised her eyebrows suspiciously. All of that work...and they still don't believe me, she thought sadly. She shook her head. "I can't believe that." She couldn't quite describe it, but there was a feeling in the pit of her stomach...a knowing feeling...and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Malfoy hadn't kept anything from her. Nothing at all...
"You have to believe that, Hermione. Did you think things were going to be this simple?" Tonks folded her hands in her lap. "For the long time in which I've known my cousin, I've known one thing for certain: he's tricky."
"Well of course he's tricky! You only need to be in his presence for a couple of minutes to understand that much! But can't you see," Hermione stated, pacing the room once again, her long shadow following her around, "He's told us enough already! Do you understand that he has just told us the location of a horcrux? A horcrux! What else do you need to know? He's brought us one step closer to vanquishing Voldemort!" It was true; they were now equipped with the precious knowledge of where Helga Hufflepuff's old heirloom was...how else would they have gained that information without Malfoy's help?
"Hermione, we were almost one hundred percent assured that that cup was a horcrux already," said Lupin, finally standing up and pacing the room with his chin in his palm. Tonks's eyes followed him around devotedly. "By any means, this is not new information-"
"Aren't you listening?" Hermione felt her voice rising, sounding almost hysteric. She didn't care though- this is outrageous, she thought, face growing hot. "He told us where it is! What good is the knowledge that the cup is a horcrux if we don't know where it is? It's in Bellatrix LeStrange's vault at Gringotts- Draco said so!"
Hermione was a little taken back at the fervor in which she spoke- the way she was so heatedly defending her former nemesis. She was filled with an odd wave of strangeness before she convinced herself that this was only ethical...why wouldn't she defend someone who had risked things beyond imagine to help her? Yes, ethical, of course...logical even...
"Don't you see? This is yet another example of a tricky young man misleading others to his advantage! Yes, Hermione," said Lupin loudly, shaking his head. "He's given you everything to need to figure out his real intentions. First, he states that there are ways around an Unbreakable Vow-"
"But he said he wasn't going to do that!" Hermione shouted while throwing her hands up in the air, blood rushing to her cheeks.
"And now you're just going to take his word for it?" Lupin stated baldly while closing his eyes. After a moment of collecting himself, he continued quietly. "Secondly, he states that Helga Hufflepuff's cup is in Bellatrix LeStrange's vault at Gringotts Bank." At this Lupin laughed lightly. "Of course, the most heavily protected bank in magical history-"
"What are you getting at?" Hermione asked loudly, although she knew exactly what he was getting at, be it completely nonsensical and ludicrous. But in the haze of her disbelief, a part of her wanted to hear him say it, so she could know the full extent of his lunacy...his irrationality...
"What a nice little trap, don't you think?" He was pacing in full stride now, and Hermione was heavily reminded of his days at Hogwarts in which he would pace confidently around the room while speaking of redcaps and hinkypunks. He motioned with his hands as he spoke. "Yes, Malfoy says that the horcrux we need is at Gringotts. So say we believe this and follow suit, coming up with a plan in which to acquire this cup." At this he paused and ceased his pacing to look widely at her. "This is impossible. And, were we crazy enough to attempt it, we'd be killed."
Hermione's brain was racing faster than she thought it could, her temples throbbing painfully. She knew- she knew- that Malfoy had told her the truth. She felt somewhat foolish for believing him so unquestionably, but she found it almost impossible to believe he was lying. As she was thinking frantically through all this, it hit her. She nearly gasped. "Wait- he must be telling the truth!"
Tonks sighed loudly and rolled her eyes. "And we're supposed to believe this why?"
"B-Because," she was almost too excited to speak, "Because there were more terms to the Vow!"
Moody barked out a note of laughter. "Oh, were there?" His eye gave a nauseating roll.
"Yes," uttered Hermione in a pleading sort of tone. "I made Malfoy promise me, after we had cleared the initial terms, that he would do nothing to interfere with the Order...don't you see? He said that he would be on our side! If this was all some well-concocted plan to get us all killed, he would be dead, wouldn't he? Because he would have attempted to fool us into believing the cup was at Gringott's when it really wasn't!" Her eyes darted towards the three adults, who were somehow looking unconvinced. "What? Do you want to go upstairs and check if he's still breathing?"
Moody's eye quickly jumped to the top of his socket. "Ar, he's still alive," he said, almost in a disappointed tone. "And cleaning out his fingernails with your hairbrush at that, giggling and all." Moody shook his head. "Right little bastard..."
Hermione had to admit, the fact that Malfoy was at the moment using her hairbrush for those purposes was somewhat unsettling, but there were more important matters to be tended to, like the fact that Malfoy was not trying to kill them. "Let's not get off topic," she said, looking at Moody, who was gritting his teeth and continuing to watch Malfoy one floor above with murder in both of his eyes. "This means that the horcrux is in that vault at Gringotts right now as we speak. Malfoy wasn't lying." It felt peculiarly relieving to say that aloud, because now it had to be true. She felt a sweeping wave of gratitude for Draco Malfoy that she would have never in her life imagined she could feel. So he's not a total worthless ferret, is he? She thought with a snide smile as Tonks furrowed her eyebrows at her. Hermione studied her face and could not believe the look on it by the single fact that it didn't look convinced...not one bit...
"So now you tell us these terms, Hermione? Did you simply...forget about them earlier?" Her pink hair glowed brightly as she spoke in a muted sort of tone. "You say that you actually got my cousin, a Malfoy, to swear that he was on the side of good? That he wouldn't interfere with us?" At this, a hint of emotion entered her voice that sounded similar to disgust. "And you expect us to believe that?"
Her heart dropped painfully in her chest as her throat suddenly became very, very dry. Breathing shallowly, she turned to look at Lupin and Moody, hoping beyond all hope that they wouldn't share Tonk's overwhelming look of pity and repulsion on their faces. But they did. Hermione could hardly speak. "You think that I...made this up?"
"Hermione," Tonks started, finally standing from her chair and walking towards Lupin. She stopped when she was beside him. "We've seen what you're willing to do to have your way...to fulfill your plans. You brought a Death Eater into this house, a murderer, all the while believing whole-heartedly that it was the right thing to do." She shook her head and wrapped an arm around Lupin's. "And now you want us to follow his words blindly to our death with the last second excuse that he swore to 'be on our side'? Really, Hermione...I'm disappointed." At this she paused, a deep look of dislike overtaking her usually pleasant face. "I figured you cleverer than that, if you wanted to sway us."
Hermione felt nauseous as three pairs of eyes bored into her, distrust and sad sympathy in their painful stares. They really believe this, she thought as her stomach lurched horribly. She could feel her eyes stinging, silent sobs hurting her ribs and she quickly took in breath. Swallowing hard, she willed herself not to cry- not to show weakness. With much effort, she spoke. "Fine. If that's what you want to believe. Truly...I can't believe the three of you have become this misguided. You're willing to throw everything Dumbledore and Harry worked towards away because of your prejudices." She laughed lightly as her cheeks became unbearably hot. "And I suppose you have no suggestions as of what should be done? You're just here to tell me I'm wrong?" She sniffed loudly. "Useless. That's what you are. Useless."
Lupin's face remained stone still as he rubbed Tonk's arm soothingly. She also seemed near tears. "We will not be talked to this way, Hermione. I don't know when you got the idea that Dumbledore left you in charge of the Order or when you'd figured out that you had all of the answers, but you're sadly mistaken, and I truly pity you at this moment." He sighed as his wrinkles seemed to grow deeper in seconds. "The War has really changed you."
It was too much- at this Hermione could no longer hold it in. With shame she felt a hot tear roll down her face, her breath coming in hitches. "I can't believe I ever trusted any of you. Because obviously," she stated, looking at all three of them in disgust, "you never trusted me." At this, she noticed the slight trembling of her hands, and with a new bolt of shame, she quickly folded them. "And I was right, you have no suggestions of what should be done. How can you be upset at me for trying to take matters into my own hands? Nothing has been accomplished since Dumbledore died. Nothing. You are all too hesitant and spineless to actually make a move- to actually do something! So tell me, if we're now to believe that Draco has broken an Unbreakable Vow and that he's trying to kill us all, what do we do now? Wait? All we've done is wait! Three years of it! What do we do now?"
At this, all fours heads turned in alarm towards the doorway in which Harry was standing with his arms crossed, the eerie light from the kitchen playing in his deep, green eyes.
"Harry," gulped Hermione, staring at him pleadingly. None of them had noticed him standing there; he was always so silent. "Harry, you believe me right? You wanted Malfoy to stay here...you told me you thought is was a good idea..."
He ignored her as his gaze was primarily set on Lupin. He spoke in a hauntingly calm voice. "You want the solution? Veritaserum. You say the Vow has come into question...you say he can twist it. Well, give him something...un-twistable. See if Hermione's right. And if she isn't, we'll take action against him." He spoke the last sentence with a swell of greed, and Hermione was wholly convinced that were 'action' to take place, Harry would love nothing more than to be in charge of it. That same murderous light entered his eyes briefly before they settled once more into focused emerald. "We've got stores of it in the drawing room...Snape left it. Let's put it to use, shall we?"
A lurch of refusal went through Hermione. "No," she said loudly, shaking her head. "That's unethical. Veritaserum is a last resort! It's cruel- they don't even use it at trials! It's invasive on the human psyche, forcing people to spill out their deepest secrets without a thought towards their own humanity! We are not giving Malfoy Veritaserum," she finished firmly, mouth set. She could hardly believe it was even a topic of discussion, and brought about by Harry of all people. I don't even know what to think anymore, she thought sadly, looking around the room at a handful of faces she couldn't trust.
"You speak of Draco Malfoy as though we should pity the lad," stated Moody obviously. "That right there is your problem, Hermione. You trust vermin like him too easily...giving him Veritaserum is a sign of mercy...at least we're not throwing him to the Dementors to have their way." He shook his grizzled mane. "That boy is scum. I can't trust that boy as far as I can throw him. Well, actually," he paused, eye rolling, "I take that back. Lad's skinny, I could hurl him pretty far. But all aside, it's a fatal accident to trust a Malfoy." He turned towards Harry. "Potter's got the right idea."
Heart shattering, she looked towards Lupin and Tonks.
"I agree," Lupin spoke quietly. "Harry is right...in fact it would be foolish not to. You were right when you said we had a well of information lying upstairs, Hermione. The thing is we've got to force it out of him. He deserves no sympathy."
Tonks spoke solidly, no emotion on her face. "Yes. You want us to take action, then we will. First thing tomorrow sound good to you?"
Hermione suspected that she would be tempted to cry again, but she was surprised by the total lack of sadness that enveloped her. If anything, she felt disgusted as she looked into each of their eyes, lastly stopping at Harry, who's eyes were swirling behind his glasses. All of them looked resolute- like tyrants. Without answering, she walked out of them room and slammed to door behind her, the sound of dishes shaking following in her wake.
She knew exactly where she was going. Trying her best to control her trembling, she stomped up the stairs and turned sharply when she reached the top of them, marching down the hall and throwing open the door without a second thought. Alarmed, Malfoy looked up at her. He was digging dirt out of his nails with her hairbrush as he sat in the middle of the mattress with his legs folded underneath him. At the sight of her, he smiled ruefully. "I figured this was the best utensil for it, seeing as you've already got enough dirt in your hair to really make a difference."
Hermione's face didn't budge- she stared at him evenly. He seemed to notice this with an odd look on his face.
"Something wrong, Granger? Did a house elf die? Did someone misplace a book?" He stopped speaking as he noted her total lack of response and paused thoughtfully, taking in the wet lines on her face and the shallow way in which she was breathing. "You're scaring me, Granger- what's wrong?"
"They don't believe you, Malfoy." It was all she could say without completely losing it, without falling apart in front of her old enemy. "They don't believe you."
Hermione couldn't believe what she was hearing- he actually laughed. "Is this a joke? Are you telling me your bloody Order thinks I lied? Thinks I broke a Vow? No wonder my parents joined the Dark Lord! Your lot is mad!" He shook his head and laughed loudly. "Really, Dumbledore should've chosen his followers better."
She couldn't possibly express to him how not funny this was. "You don't understand. They think you're trying to mislead us. I can't explain it to you- honestly I don't understand myself- but they've got it in their minds that you are luring us to Gringotts as a ruse to get us all killed." She spoke flatly, gazing into his pale face.
It was a moment before he spoke, looking bemused. "I'm flattered. They think I'm actually that clever. Well, you can't blame them." He looked up at her with a smirk playing the corners of his lips. "So what are they going to do, then? Can't be that serious..."
Hermione spoke evenly. "They are going to give you Veritaserum."
A look of utter shock slapped him in the face as his mouth parted and his gray eyes grew larger than she'd ever seen them. He went even paler than she thought possible. "No...no way...t-they can't..." At this, he gained his composure quickly as his face became flushed. "You won't let them. You can't let them-"
"I have no control over what they do, Malfoy. They've obviously expressed to me that what I have to say means nothing to them anymore. I tried to defend you...I believed you, Malfoy." At this, her heart gave a sickening swoop. "But now they don't believe either of us. There's nothing I can do other than prepare you."
He looked crestfallen- in heart-staggering shock. "They can't do that...that's beyond reason. They can't put me outside my bloody self-control!" Malfoy shouted loudly as his pale face became red. "And I thought your side was good, Granger! You're no better than Him." At this a frightening light overcame his eyes. "You...you can't let them..."
Hermione studied him quietly. He looked afraid, trapped...terrified, she noted in silence. Part of her wished she had something comforting to say, but she drew nothing but a blank. She felt completely hollow and empty.
Malfoy looked at her evenly. "And I thought I had a bit of good news for the day. I'm getting better, Granger." He paused bitterly. "At least I'm not bleeding buckets onto your sheets," he said dryly, looking down at the bed below him. "And you know what? Part of me felt good for helping you. I thought that for the first time in my pathetic life I was actually helping somebody. I wasn't going to tell anyone that, but it's no use keeping things to myself anymore...you'll just force it out of me-"
"Stop including me when you speak of them," she erupted hotly, the feeling of emptiness finally leaving her. "Can't you see I've been trying to defend you? I don't want them to do this! It stands against everything the Order stands for- everything Dumbledore stood for-"
"Oh, the saint. Let's talk about this group of people your bloody saint's put together-"
"Do not talk about Albus Dumbledore in front of me," she uttered with an insane look in her eyes. "He was willing to help you, don't you remember? When you were alone and pathetic on the Astronomy Tower- oh yes, Harry told me. He was there you stupid git. Dumbledore tried to help you...he pitied you. Figured you a lost soul pitted against a horrible upbringing. Was he the only one who ever offered to help you?" Hermione asked him quietly, reading every strike of emotion on his face. At this, he looked murderous. She began to walk closer, hatred dripping from her words. "He was, wasn't he? 'Poor, pathetic Malfoy. No one wants to help me.' You're disgusting," she said loathingly. "And now you're going to sit here and mock the only person in your whole wretched existence that wanted to help you? You make me sick."
"Shut. Your. Mouth." He uttered his words like venom as he looked at her with pure hatred. "You have no idea what you're talking about, you filthy Mudblood."
Without thinking; without even realizing what she was doing, she slapped him hard across the face. His head lashed to the side with the force of it, and when he turned to meet his eyes with her again, he looked oddly...hollow. Nothing seemed to be registered on his face whatsoever other than shock as his cheek glowed red on his pale skin.
Shaking with anger, Hermione shook her head stiffly. "After all I've done for you, you think you can sit here and call me a 'Mudblood'?" Her voice was quiet and dangerous. "If you could've seen the way I defended you down there, you insignificant slime...and you're not even worth it. I can't believe I didn't see that until now." With that, she turned towards the door and began to walk towards it, eyes stinging and heart feeling lower than it had in a long, long time...
She turned to face him and was shocked to see the features on his pale face neither twisted in anger or hatred...if anything, he looked urgent...desperate, she added to herself, tracing the lights in his eyes and the lines of worry on his face. Everything in him seemed to be willing her to stay still- not to turn around and walk out of that door. In fact, he looked sorry for making her even wish to do that, which was more implausible than anything Hermione had ever imagined. Astonished, she gaped at him, waiting.
Malfoy stared at her blankly, eyes shining in a dire sort of way. Finally, he spoke. "Okay, I take it back...the Mudblood comment was unnecessary." For a moment he paused and looked as though he were in pain before he uttered with much effort, "I'm...sorry."
Hermione couldn't help but smirk at him, looking disgusted with himself. "Do you really mean that? If so...I don't know what to think..." It was true- if that brief flash of regret in his eyes was genuinely sincere, then Hermione had just witnessed something she had thought impossible, and it was slightly...unnerving.
He welled up defensively. "Well, find something to think, because I do mean it," he said abashedly as he cast his eyes away and folded his arms. He looked somewhat like a child as he screwed up his face into a scowl and looked down at the bed. "Merlin, this is humiliating."
"And why is acting like a decent human being humiliating?" She snapped hotly, ignoring how funny he looked glowering. It was hard, but she kept her face straight and narrowed her eyes at him, trying to find a trace of something she could follow- something that could tell her why Malfoy was the way he was...why he felt so ashamed to be acting moral. But he made no sign as though he had heard her question, choosing to look down at the mattress below him with a queer look on his face. Hermione considered asking again but found herself once again intrigued as to why Malfoy had stopped her from walking away. She shook her head to herself and sighed. "Alright, I'm here...now what do you want from me, Malfoy?"
"What?" His head snapped back up as he fixed her with a shifty glare. "I can't just tell someone I'm sorry?" Malfoy looked affronted- as though by asking him this question she had offended him on so many levels. "Fine," he uttered haughtily. "Next time I won't apologize when I call you a Mudblood,...Mudblood," he added in a sly afterthought, grinning evilly to himself. She made to dive at him before his eyes went large and he held up his hands in defense. "I was kidding! Goodness, Granger. It's called a bloody joke..."
"Well, it's not funny, and you still haven't answered my question." She rolled her eyes as he once again acted offended. "Come on, I know for a fact you wouldn't have put yourself through the deep shame of apologizing if you didn't want something."
He considered this for a moment before he crumpled in a sign of defeat and sighed heavily. "Fine. Okay. You're right...like you always are, Granger." He paused to sneer at her with a look of contempt overtaking and twisting his narrow face before, at length, he spoke again. "It's starting to get old, this whole know-it-all thing you've got going. Bit annoying as well," he added lowly, grumbling.
"What is it that you want then, Malfoy?" He sat angrily and in silence. "Come on, spit it out you stubborn ferret, you." Hermione suspected by the look on his face that the last thing he wanted to do was tell her why he needed her to stay in the room, and she was duly shocked as he reluctantly opened his mouth to answer.
"If there's anything you can do," he spoke softly, eyes glassily focused on the dusty carpet, "Anything whatsoever...don't let them do this." At this he lifted his gaze, eyes brighter and more intense than she had ever seen them before- it fact the glowing nature of them rattled her a bit and her breath hitched in her throat. He set his jaw and added stiffly, "Please."
Hermione wanted to shake her head in exasperation and tell him that there was nothing she could do (Which by all means is true, she reminded herself sadly), but the look in eyes was so pleading- so completely unprotected and vulnerable- that she could not bring herself to do it. But this is Malfoy, she thought promptly. Why wouldn't I tell him the truth? That would be logical...
Yet at the same time, she would do all she could, wouldn't she? I already have. She bit the inside of her cheek as she thought it through, eventually coming to a conclusion. Hermione looked into his eyes, reminding herself to remember the way in which he was looking at her- she doubted he would ever let his guard down like this again. And that's a shame, she thought with a frown, it's so very human of him. "I'll do what I can." It was all she could say without bending the truth or giving him false hope. "I'll do whatever I can."
His eyes dimmed and his face went utterly blank.
"This is where you would say thank you," she said obviously with large eyes. He remained silent, almost brooding. She remained there, ogling at him for what seemed like hours, before he made to respond.
"I'll thank you when I'm not having my past ripped out of me, okay?" A little flicker of life went through his face again as he mustered a smirk. "Other than that, you can have your hairbrush back." He picked up it up at threw it at her, missing by inches. "Shame...I meant to hit you."
Really, she thought, studying his returned-malice. He is completely impossible to understand. Frowning, she held up her chin and looked down at him as though his nonsense was beneath her, smiling idly. "Goodbye, Malfoy."
Hermione turned to exit the room before he shouted loudly, "I would get the hairbrush if I were you- you sort of need it!"
Fake-calm leaving her, she slammed the door behind her. That prat!
She stood with her back to the door, fuming in anger, before the usual worry swept slowly over her as she remembered yet another of the promises she had made to Malfoy. The problem with this promise, she thought sadly, is that it is virtually un-keepable. Hermione could not imagine what could be said to sway their decision to give him Veritaserum...to have Malfoy's 'past ripped out of him'. Every ounce of her wished there was something she could do, but she had reached a dead end at this point. There was no relying on any of them anymore. Not even Harry, she thought with a pang of dread, remembering the complete remoteness and space between them as he stood in the kitchen, deciding his supposed enemy's fate. She didn't want to give Malfoy false hope, but what else could she give him? If she had told him the truth, he would be destroyed right now- cursing and thrashing and probably declaring to be set loose into a world of evil that wanted payback on him. Most likely a death sentence... At least false hope keeps him alive...
Crookshanks walked bandy-legged down the hall and rubbed his whiskers on her ankle. Distractedly, she bent down and bundled him in her arms as he meowed deeply. Hermione bit her lip as a new thought entered her brain among the usual chaos: what in Malfoy's past is so horrible that he would have to bring himself to plead to a Mudblood? What is he so utterly desperate to keep hidden?
She had no idea what, and as Hermione numbly walked down the hall to her bedroom with Crookshanks in her arms, she could hardly imagine what she would hear tomorrow morning spilling unshielded from his mouth...what truths would be ripped from his soul without a second thought. And part of her was absolutely terrified by that.
A/N: Hooo-ray. Another chapter finished, another chapter to come as they say. Believe me, the next chapter is going to be intense...it's probably one of the chapters I've been looking forward to the most. Now this is the part where I thank my beta Stratagem Blue, that beacon of light in a sea of darkness who oh-so directs me to places of greatness in which I could never fathom to reach without her! Oh how the heart doth quake in fear at the thought of writing without her protective gaze! Methinks I might suffer the woe of heart! But anyway. Yeah. Thanks. Lady.
Now, if you enjoyed this chapter I will so kindly ask you to tell me what you think (please, please, please review me oh dear God)! Thank you oh-so humbly. Can you tell I'm in a weird mood?