Summary: A fight between Draco and Hermione causes them to miss the Hogwarts express. Now, stranded wandless and penniless in muggle London, Hermione finds herself teaching Draco just what it means to be muggle and that things aren't always the way the seem. A mixture of moments of action, adventure, despair, love, lust and humour.
"There are moments of strength and moments of weakness. My moment of strength was deciding to hate you as soon as I met you. My moment of weakness is right now…"
Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.
Chapter One: Here One Moment, Gone The Next
They say in all those songs that time just stops
But all I hear is just the ticking of the clock
When I'm around you there's no wrong or right
My mind feels like it's just seconds away from flight
Your breath on my face, I get shivers down my spine
I can't fall asleep because tomorrow you won't be all mine
It's these moments you wish would just never end
But it's those same damn moments seem to end before they begin
Why can I never see
The things right in front of me
Why can I never see
Before I can no longer breathe
You touch me here and I touch you there
You open up to me but then tell me not to stare
There's an innocence that I've never felt
I ignore the truth, don't wanna fold the hand I've been dealt
Your lips so sweet and your hips so fine
A good morning kiss as the alarm clock starts to chime
This night can never end but it's already done
You whisper the words, the ones I knew were gonna come
It's these moments you wish would just never end
But it's those same damn moments seem to end before they begin
"I knew today was too good to be true"
Hermione Granger paused as she made her way back towards the open entrance of the Hogwarts express. The train was always what first brought back those feelings of comfort and joy she experienced every time a new year started at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry.
However, she felt those feelings ebb away as the familiar sneering voice of Draco Malfoy fell on her unwilling ears. She turned and briskly walked towards the boy that stood, leaning lazily against an empty luggage cart and smirking something awful in her direction.
"Still allowing scum like you to attend Hogwarts are they? Shame, I thought Dumbledore might have had a wake up call over the summer" he added snidely to his previous comment.
"Ah yes. I did hear that daddy dearest had been to visit Professor Dumbledore. By wake up call I presume you mean throwing around idle threats and a couple of dark marks, hmm?"
Hermione was in no mood to be trifled with. This was her last year at Hogwarts, she was head girl and it was going to be perfect at all costs. Draco scowled at the Gryffindor girl, wondering what on earth had pissed her off so much. Oh yes, he thought with a grin, I did.
"Accusations Granger, tut tut. And anyway what makes you think their idle?" Draco replied silkily, causing Hermione to scoff.
"No one in their right mind would dare try to do anything to Dumbledore. I mean even Voldemort's scared of him. What makes you think your dad is any braver?" She retorted then turned on her heel and flounced off back towards the train.
"Mione! You coming?"
Hermione looked up to see Ron Weasley hanging out of the train door, beckoning to her.
"Yeah. Be there in two seconds!" she called back, and then looked over her shoulder at Malfoy.
"I will not let you ruin what is going to be an amazing year Malfoy. Don't bother even attempting to get in the way" she warned, then added, "Now im going to find the new head boy"
Draco allowed her to walk a little further away and then, not being able to hold out any longer, called,
"You won't have to look far will you then Granger!"
Hermione felt the blood rush away from her cheeks, turning her deathly pale. He had to be joking.
One look at Malfoy's gloating and smug expression told her he wasn't.
"No way! You! How- what the hell-?" she stumbled over her words, staring blankly at the Slytherin. She broke her gaze however, when his smug grin had turned into a small "o" of surprise and his eyes widened.
Spinning round, she saw the scarlet steam engine rock into a steady motion and the sound of its engines and whistles sounding.
"No!" she cried, starting to run after it. She could hear Draco's footsteps increasing in speed behind her and gathered he'd broken into a run same as her. She wished she could stop and laugh at the sight of Draco Malfoy, who normally never moved faster then a tauntingly arrogant saunter, running like a man possessed.
The Hogwarts express pulled out of the station and disappeared round the grassy bank and out of sight. Hermione jogged to a standstill, panting and red in the face. She heard Draco come to a halt behind her as well and stared in desperation at the non existent train. It had left without her!
"This is all your fault!" she rounded on Malfoy, who glared at her, in spite of a stitch and trying desperately to catch his breath.
"How… How'd you figure that one out Granger?" he retorted angrily.
"You and your bloody minded taunts! If you had a shred of decency in you and didn't need to insult everyone you saw perhaps we wouldn't have missed the bloody train!" she roared.
"Language mudblood" mocked Draco, still insufferable even now.
"Same to you!" she snapped back, and then stared around her wildly.
"How are we going to get to school? We must contact a teacher!" she cried in frustration.
"Oh very sensible! Dear professor McGonagall, we seem to have missed the train as we were too busy arguing to notice it leaving!" Draco sang in a high pitched and extremely accurate impression of Hermione's shrill voice that she used when worried.
"We'll be in detention before we even step into the castle. I thought you Gryffindor's were meant to have some brains. Although Potter and Weasley are the obvious exceptions" he added, just to infuriate Hermione.
"Oh shut up and let me think" she yelled and he shrugged, flopping elegantly onto the luggage cart he'd previously been leaning upon.
After a minute Hermione's head snapped up and she turned to him.
"We contact the teachers" Draco made to interrupt but she stopped him.
"We contact the teacher's separately, both saying we've missed the train because we were late. That way we don't get into trouble and we both get to be picked up as soon as possible" she finished and glanced at the boy sat on the cart.
"Okay. But how are we going to contact the teachers? Were in the middle of muggle London if you hadn't noticed" he challenged her and Hermione frowned.
"What in Merlin's name is that? What are those?!"
Hermione would have laughed at Draco's amazement at the muggle cash machine, which was now spitting out the last remains of Hermione's muggle money, if she hadn't still been so worried about missing the start of the school year. How was it going to look if they didn't turn up! They were the head boy and girl for Merlin's sake!
"It's a cash machine. These are muggle notes – money" she explained slowly as if to a child.
"Well if your going to be patronising" Draco's arrogant air was back, as was his scowl.
"And if your going to be annoying and childish then you can make your own way to Diagon alley" she retorted, " why don't you just call your father anyway?" she asked and Draco shot her a furious glare.
"He is away on business" he stated simply.
"Okay what about your mother?" Hermione was curious now.
"She doesn't leave Malfoy manor" he replied with such finality in his voice that Hermione was frightened to question him any further.
They walked in silence towards a green bus stop and seated themselves on the plastic bench.
"What about your parents?" Draco asked casually, picking invisible lint off his sweater. Hermione had persuaded him to remove his robes, which were now stuffed under Hermione's arm along with her own.
"They'd only panic if I told them I'd missed the train. They worry enough about this whole magic thing as it is" she replied, her tone refusing to let up on mirroring Draco's cold one.
He didn't reply.
"What is this?" he asked suddenly gesturing at the bus shelter.
"It's a bus shelter. Were waiting for a bus. Like a train but smaller and with wheels. Muggle transport" she explained, in her teaching voice. The same one she used for first years, younger years when in the library and Harry and Ron when they hadn't done their homework.
"Stop using the voice" said Draco through gritted teeth.
"What voice?" asked Hermione, raising an eyebrow.
"The irritating one you use when telling me something I don't know. The one you just used"
"I do not have a voice!" cried Hermione in outrage.
"Yes you do and its more annoying then Pansy Parkinson's bedroom voice!" Draco retorted, and then blushed almost angrily.
"I really did not need to know that!" cried Hermione in horror and jumped up as fast as she could when she saw the bus approach.
"Two singles to lower North Street please" she ordered before dragging Draco to the back of the bus, which he was treating with a fair amount of trepidation.
As the bus trundled through the busy London streets, Hermione couldn't help but become more and more bemused by Draco's obvious fascination for everything muggle he saw.
At first he had tried to ignore the cars and the box of light bulbs in a woman's carrier bag and the post boxes, but after a while had given up the attitude and had begun to exclaim at everything, asking Hermione to explain it to him. And she did so, trying not to use what he called her "bossy" voice.
Eventually they pulled up in the street that hid the concealed entrance to Diagon Alley and hurried along it, spotting the Leaky Cauldron immediately and diving inside.
"Hello Tom" Hermione greeted the elderly barman warmly.
"Ah, Miss Hermione. Why's you not in school?" he croaked and Hermione rolled her eyes, and resting them on Draco who was looking around the bar in disdain. Hermione guessed that he'd only flitted through here before, not pausing to get a good look at the cobwebs. Tom's gaze followed Hermione's and he nodded in understanding.
"Bit of an argument was there lass?" he said, not so much a question but a statement. Hermione smiled grimly.
"Can we buy two owl posts to Hogwarts and a room for the night?" she asked.
"We're not staying here!"
Draco had finally spoken up, after processing the inside of the bar thoroughly. Hermione glared at him.
"Don't be so rude!" she hissed but Draco just raised an eyebrow at her non-plussed.
"Well lad, you could try the other bars but this time of year their all full – beginning of school and such. Muggle parents like to stay up here instead of journeying all the way home in the same day - Can't just floo like the rest of us" tom said, wheezily.
"I, however, have one spare room left. Miss Hermione, would you care to take it? I could escort the young man out" he offered, grinning evilly at Draco, baring his missing tooth. Draco gulped. Hermione grinned wickedly.
Draco took one look at Hermione's calculating smile and frowned.
"Granger. Don't even think about it-"he warned, and Hermione could see that the thought of him being left to fend for himself in muggle London actually worried him more then he cared to admit.
"It's alright Tom. I think we'll allow Mr. Malfoy to stay. We'll share the room." She replied, turning to smile at the barman, who shot Draco a reproachful look.
"I'll make up the room accordingly then Miss. I'll fetch you your owls"
After they had eaten bowls of soup quickly made up fro them by Tom and washed it down with mugs of butter beer, Hermione announced she was going to bed. Draco didn't reply and felt her leave in a rush of annoyance and hatred for him.
He didn't know how long he had sat staring out over muggle London, which he could watch with fascination from within the safe confines of the bar, but it obviously couldn't have been as long as he'd first suspected as when he reached the room which they were sharing, he found Hermione sitting crossed legged on one of the beds pushed up against the far wall. She had removed her tie and school sweater and shirt, leaving just a white camisole top and her skirt on for bedclothes. Their robes were slung over the back of a rickety wooden chair that stood in one corner.
"Tom left us some toothpaste and soap in the bathroom" she said, indicating to a door on her right. Draco nodded and disappeared into the adjoining room.
"I've got Dumbledore's replies to our letters. He says he'll pick me up at platform 9 ¾ tomorrow afternoon at four pm. I guess your's will say the same."
"Four? What will we do in the mean time? Why can't they come earlier?!" he sounded outraged.
"Malfoy it's the begging of the school year – their probably really busy with timetables and first years. And of course all the new security changes. Four o'clock is fine" she replied bossily.
"But this is me! Head boy! Ive got a right to demand to be picked up earlier!" he cried.
"Get over yourself Malfoy! Who died and made you king of the world?!" Hermione snapped.
"Jealous of my pureblood statue hmm Granger"
"As if. Ron's a pureblood and you don't see him demanding attention left right and centre because of it. You're an insufferable git! Pure blooded or not!"
And without another word Hermione put the letter aside and climbed under her covers, fuming at the blond boy.
Draco stomped around the room for a couple more minutes until Hermione lobbed the alarm clock at him from her bedside table and he crept quietly into his own bed.
Hermione rolled over and slowly opened her eyes. She didn't remember Hogwarts being so uncomfortable. Or the bed being quite so small. Or sharing a dorm with Malfoy.
"Holy crap!" she yelled and in her haste to get out of bed, fell straight over the bed sheets in a tangled mess.
"Granger? Granger! You alive?"
Hermione heard Draco's highly amused voice from where she lay on the wooden floor.
"Yeah" she called back. A pause.
"Oh go to hell Malfoy" she retorted angrily, at being awoken in such a manner. Clambering to her feet she grabbed her clothes from the chair and stalked past his bed into the bathroom.
She heard the door of the room open and shut as she immersed herself under the steamy hot water of the shower.
After showering and drying, Hermione pulled on her shirt and sweater and smoothed out the creases in her skirt, wishing she had her wand on her. She re-entered the bedroom to find Malfoy hidden behind the daily prophet.
"Anything interesting?" she asked, attempting to reconcile the argument from earlier.
"Get your own paper Granger" was his only response. Hermione glared at him through the paper, wondering whether she could get away with murdering him.
"Glaring at me won't help your cause" Draco snapped, then finished reading the article he'd been scouring and handed the paper to her, causing her to emit a small "o" of surprise.
"Don't get it dirty" he said maliciously as he pulled on his robes.
Hermione didn't bother to reply, but instead scanned the first few pages of the magical newspaper. There were the usual stories of break-ins, sightings of death eaters and the one about a dark mark. Hermione sighed at the overall negative tone of the news and flicked to the last pages. The Chudley canons had been relegated again, Ron wouldn't be happy and…
She paused, reading the small article on page seven of the paper.
"Unspeakable's Speak! "
"A report was leaked from the department of mysteries yesterday, containing the information stating the intent of searching the homes of the major wizarding families in search of missing pieces of a historical article which is claimed to be of great magical power; although this was only claimed by Mr. Lovegood of Quibbler magazine and is not being treated as significant. The more pressing problem is the break of silence by the unspeakable, Mr. Hubert Jones, who started his career….."
Hermione stopped reading as the article went on to describe the Unspeakable's life, and flicked back to the front page and reread the article about the dark mark being seen.
"Ministry officials were called to the home of a Mrs. Gertrud Jones, who was the victim of death eaters early yesterday morning."
Hermione made sure Draco wasn't looking in her direction, then quickly ripped out the two coinciding articles and pocketed them to show Harry and Ron later.
"Granger! Hello – Earth to Granger!"
Hermione snapped back from her conspiracy theories to see Malfoy waving his arms in front of her face.
"Im going to Gringotts and then to get lunch"
"Oh right. Ill come too" she said quickly.
"It wasn't an invitation Granger" Draco drawled, but Hermione was already half way along the corridor. Draco shook his head and then resigned himself to following her.
Lunch had been a strained affair, with Draco trying to look uninterested and disgusted at being seen with a muggleborn and Hermione desperately trying to join the two articles she had found causing her to be clumsier then usual and completely distracted.
"Granger! For Merlin's sake, stop knocking the bloody water over!" Draco exploded finally, as Hermione sent the jug flying for the third time, and he mopped up the spillage with his napkin.
"Sorry… im just… distracted" she muttered, up righting the jug. But Draco was no longer listening. Hermione followed his eye line and saw it land on a figure, dressed in a long blue robe, hurrying towards Knock turn alley. She couldn't quite decide who the figure looked like, but she was sure he was familiar.
"What on earth is Rufus Delaney up to?" murmured Draco and Hermione racked her memories for face to fit the name.
"Fifth year Slytherin!" she exclaimed, finding her recollection of the particularly nasty Slytherin boy.
"Why's he not at school?" she asked, more to herself then Draco.
"Exactly what I intend to find out" Draco replied, standing up abruptly and marching towards Knock turn alley.
"Malfoy! What are you doing!?" Hermione cried, hurrying after him. "You cant go down there! It's…its dangerous…."
She trailed off as Draco raised his eyebrows at her.
"Yeah alright – I guess it suits you fine" she said remembering that this was Draco Malfoy after all. He probably attended birthday parties with Satan.
"You don't have to come you know" Draco snapped as he skulked into the alley. Hermione dithered at the entrance for a few more seconds then stepped in after him.
"Im not going to hang around outside waiting for you am I" she muttered furiously.
"Fine. Just shut up and try not to make a scene"
Hermione pouted but fell silent. Knock turn alley was possibly the most depressing place she'd ever experienced. The sunlight seemed to skip over it as if it feared to come inside. There were low stone arches over the cobbled street, which cast gloomy shadows on the path and occasionally Hermione stepped round what looked like patches of blood on the cobbles.
They halted opposite a dreary looking shop, whose sign swung I nthe chilly breeze.
Borgin and Burkes.
"Stay here, im going to have a word with Delaney" Draco instructed then stalked towards the shop. Hermione shivered and flattened herself against the wall behind her, attempting to hide herself from the passer-by's who grew stranger and more dangerous looking by the minute.
"Morning Mr. Borgin. Nice day isn't it?" Draco greeted the shopkeeper with an smirk, then turned to Rufus, who had frozen at the sound of Draco's voice.
"Good morning Rufus – Skipping school? Tut tut" he turned to the fifth year boy, treating him to his most evil of smiles. Rufus gulped despite himself.
"I was just leaving" he stammered and dived towards the exit of the shop.
"Im sure you were!" called Draco over his shoulder at the boy, before turning to the shopkeeper.
"Now then Mr. Borgin. What exactly was Mr. Delaney buying?" he asked, danger glinting like shards of glass in his grey eyes.
"he wasn't buying anything Master Draco, sir"
Draco raised an eyebrow and crossed his arms.
"Oh really" he drawled. "Then why is the till open?" he indicated to a dusty till, whose money tray lay wide open.
Borgin's eyes flashed to the till and then widened in fear as Draco smirked again and dipped his hand into the pocket of his robes. Borgin wasn't to know that his and was safely stored at the bottom of his trunk which was sat in his dormitory in the Slytherin dungeons.
"Okay Master Draco sir. Mr. Delaney was selling, not buying if you must know"
"Selling? What did he sell you?" Draco's eyes flashed, his smirk gone.
"Well to be honest im not sure what it's from, but it was radiating magical power so I though I might as well…" The balding shop keeper trailed off as he produced a parcel about the size of a matchbox from beneath the counter and showed Draco the contents.
A small shiny metal object, coated in elaborate designs lay in the tissue paper. It was rounded at the top and spread out into a wide triangle at the base, looking very much like a key hole.
Draco picked it up and scrutinized it. Why would Rufus be selling this? It was obviously dark magic and with the ministry on the look out for dark objects in the homes of those families connected with the dark lord, Rufus must be getting scared.
"How much?" Draco asked. Borgin stared at him, calculating how much he thought Draco would pay and the profit he could make. Then paused.
"I can't sell it to you" he muttered darkly.
"How much?" repeated Draco, so coldly Borgin shivered.
"Sixty galleons" he said at last.
"I'll give one hundred. Forty for your silence Borgin" and he wrote a wizarding cheque for the sum and stamped it with the Malfoy crest ring that he wore on his right hand, using the emerald wax Borgin offered him. The binding magical payment complete, Draco pocketed his purchase and made to look at a selection of cursed brooches, when he heard the scream.
What was taking Malfoy so long! Hermione thought as the wizards passing shot her malevolent leers. She shrunk back towards the wall, turning to see if she could spot the exit to Diagon alley anywhere, and came face to face with a wizard baring his missing teeth at her.
Hermione screamed in her fright, falling backwards over a discarded owl cage, and attempted to grab a hold of the window ledge beside her, screaming again when she felt the soft flesh of her palm tear as it scraped a nail sticking out of the wood.
"Granger! What the hell!" Draco had dashed out of Borgin and burkes at the sound of her scream.
"Leave her!" he commanded of the toothless wizard was eyeing Hermione Hogwarts robes with malice, but who skulked away when he caught sight of Draco's family crest ring.
"You alright?" Draco asked and Hermione slowly clambered to her feet. She nodded.
"Let's get out of here" she whispered clutching at her hand. Draco's eyes fell on the covered palm and gently prised her fingers away from it and watched as a dark stream of blood seeped out of the deep wound and pooled in the contours of her hand. She winced as he prodded the area around the wound, pushing the dark blood out of the opening.
"Cursed doorways" he muttered as he allowed the blood to seep out until it turned the usual bright colour. Hermione instantly felt the pain lessen a little bit and sighed with relief.
"Come" Draco pulled her towards one of the shops along the cobbled street and strode inside and up the stairs to the living quarters of the shop owners.
"Lucille, im just using the sink a minute" he called to the large lady who seemed to be asleep behind the counter, but who muttered her acceptance of them as they passed her.
Up in the tiny bathroom, Draco washed the wound out and after rummaging through the cabinets above the sink he covered it with a foul smelling gel and then bandaged it tightly.
"Sit still" he commanded as Hermione flinched.
Hermione watched him closely as he washed his hands in the sink and placed the items he'd borrowed back in the cabinets.
"Thank you" she said, as he turned back to face her. He gave her a curt nod and then indicated that they should leave.
"Thank you Lucile. I'll see you at Christmas?" the woman nodded but still didn't open her eyes.
"So what was Rufus up to?" Hermione asked. "Did he buy anything?" her mind was working overtime as it often did when she, Harry and Ron discovered a mystery. Draco said nothing for a minute, then;
"He was selling" he said in hushed tones. He had been about to pull out the parcel but paused and shoved it deeper into his pocket.
"Don't know what" he added, lying easily to the Gryffindor who looked faintly disappointed.
"He left in quite a hurry. Dropped all his folders" she commented and Draco stopped walking.
"Papers?" he asked. Hermione nodded.
"A big folder of them. He had them under his arm"
And under his cloak, Draco thought. Damn him! He cursed mentally. What had he missed.
"Did he leave any of them?" Draco asked casually and Hermione made a strangled noise, which she turned into a cough.
"No. No he didn't. Picked them all up" she lied, clasping the fragment of paper he'd left, inside her pocket.
Draco accepted her answer and they moved out into the bright sunlight of Diagon alley, both blinking furiously and neither noticing Rufus watching them from across the street.
At four o'clock that afternoon, Hermione and Draco waited separately on the platform for their transport back to Hogwarts. It came exactly on the hour in the form of one of the horseless carriages, which Hermione now knew to be pulled by thestral's and not horses at all. She watched as Draco eyes did not stop at the end of the carriage as her's did, but followed the line of what Hermione could only suppose s the invisible thestral. The hollow look in his eyes made her wonder who he had seen die, then decided she didn't want to know.
The door of the carriage opened and professor Flitwick toppled out.
"Good afternoon students!" he cried, his top hat wobbling precariously. "aren't you naughty, missing the train! Well climb in, climb in!" he squeaked and Draco and Hermione clambered into the carriage and spread out over its spacious seats. The carriage trundled out of the station and soared slowly upwards as the thestral took flight.
After a couple of hours, and long after Flitwick had fallen asleep, Hermione stooped staring out over the countryside below and turned to face Draco, whose eyes were shut, although he was not asleep.
"Thank you for helping me back there" she said.
"You've already said that" Draco replied, his eyes still closed.
"I know, but it... I just… it was nice of you" she said meekly. Draco opened one eye.
"Unexpected you mean" he corrected and Hermione nodded dumbly.
"My dad used to tell me to sit still as well when he was trying to clean up cuts and scrapes" Hermione twittered, breaking the silence. "Then he'd always feel guilty and buy me ice cream and kiss the wound better" she laughed at the memory, then turned to face the window again.
Draco didn't shut his eyes this time, but focused on the girl opposite him. He found her muggle stories infuriating and curious a the same time. His childhood had been so different. He shook this line of thought to the back of his mind and stared down at his hands instead for the remainder of the journey.
Dark had fallen by the time they reached the Hogwarts grounds and leaving Hermione to wake professor Flitwick, Draco strode on ahead towards Dumbledore's office, where they had a meting scheduled.
"Malfoy – wait up! Ive got the password"
Draco paused at the top of the steps as Hermione dashed up them after him.
"Flitwick said Dumbledore will be there in a few minutes and we should just wait inside. The password is "candy broomsticks"" she explained and made to pass him.
Hermione looked over at the blond boy.
"Hope this gets better" he said indicating to her palm, then in a flash he'd brought her hand to his lips, brushing them across the bandage hiding the wound and strode off down the corridor, leaving Hermione floundering in the entrance hall.
READ AND REVIEW!