Disclaimer: I do not own a single thing. It's actually rather sad.
A/N: I wrote this story earlier this year, and it was completed this summer. It has not been submitted to any archives, though, and I figured it was about time it did. So I hope you'll like this; my very first D/Hr fanfic.
Prologue ; Stay Safe
"Ginny, they didn't have your shampoo," Hermione called through the dark apartment just as she dumped the grocery bags on the kitchen table. She looked around for her house mate, peeking around the corner by the entrance to the kitchen, but she was nowhere to be seen. Hermione shrugged and started putting the groceries in the fridge.
She got wrapped up in her own mind as she so often did, letting the small details roam free and the bigger issues hide deep down where she couldn't find them. It had become quite a defense mechanism over the years. There was always too much in her mind to handle at once, and Ginny often laughed at how she worried over silly little details.
A sudden misplaced squeak made her straighten up in alarm. The darkness outside the kitchen revealed nothing, but she knew what she had heard. The war might be over, but she still had her instincts quite intact.
"Ginny?" she tried worryingly, moving cautiously out towards their living room.
The sight of a tall, hooded stranger standing in the eerie glow from the street light outside the window made her come to an abrupt halt. He stood with his arms crossed over his chest on the small patch of yellow flickering over their wooden floors. She instantly fell numb. Her wand was, stupidly enough, lying on the kitchen table, and she could have hit her head in exasperation at her own stupidity.
"Who are you?" she said sternly, way more confident than she really felt in all her wandless glory.
"That is of less importance," he replied coolly.
"I don't think it is," she bit back. "You're standing in my living room, and I sure didn't invite you in."
"I come with warnings," he said, ignoring her complaint. "That's all you need to know."
Her eyes shot up in alarm at his words. A stranger who refused to reveal his face bringing warnings. It was certainly not a good sign. Definitely not good at all. She tried to keep the worry off her face, but it must have shown. The figure before her began stirring slightly, as if unnerved by what he saw.
"What the bloody hell is going on?" Ginny cried from the hallway of their apartment, giving Hermione a horrified look. To Hermione's relief, her friend held a wand tightly in her right hand, pointing it straight at the hooded man by the window.
"I'm here to warn you," he said dully, still keeping his hands enclosed over his chest.
"Then give your warnings and leave," Ginny commanded, still keeping him in the aim of her wand.
The both of them watched him in unease as he began pacing back and forth in the sickening glow from the outside. Hermione felt her throat close up, dreading what was to come.
"The Dark Lord fell 3 years ago, but his followers did not," he proclaimed, stopping abruptly to look at them where they stood eyeing him cautiously. "They are rallying around a new leader."
"Who?" Ginny asked quickly, but Hermione already knew the answer.
"Lucius Malfoy," she nearly squeaked, feeling sick to her stomach.
"I'm afraid so," the man said, bowing his head in something that resembled shame. But that didn't even make sense. She shook her head in confusion. "He is gathering followers. But I am taking this to Potter right after I've been here. The Order will need to take this on, without Lucius Malfoy finding out that you know."
Ginny and Hermione exchanged frightened looks, realising how long it had been since the doom of war had hung over their heads. She swallowed quickly, trying with all her might to forget the losses from the war. However miraculously small they were, they were more than heavy enough to keep them from moving on with their lives. They had lost a best friend and brother, along with other friends and acquaintances, and not to mention her parents. The thought of it alone made her feel rushed with panic and stricken with grief again, as if it had happened yesterday.
"If you're taking this to Harry anyway, then why are you here?" Ginny demanded, making Hermione realise just how little sense that made. Her eyes flickered slightly over to the tall man, still covered in black from head to toe. Every part of his face lay in the shadows of his hood, making it impossible to make an educated guess on who it might be. But somehow Hermione knew all too well who it was. She just refused to believe it, refused to let the thought even surface at all, because it was just too painful.
"Because it is important that you know who is at the top of his wanted list," he said finally, the opening in his hood facing her way now. She felt coldness take over from within, knowing deep down that what she had anticipated for so long had happened.
"That's Harry, we know that," Ginny said impatiently.
"It's not Potter," he said impatiently. "Lucius Malfoy happens to be driven by more personal issues on this point."
"No…" Hermione groaned, hiding her face in her hands. "I...no."
"Hermione, what are you on about? Don't be silly, he's not coming for you," Ginny reassured quickly, giving the tall man a quick glance, waiting for him to confirm her words.
"I'm afraid he is," he said coldly, every emotion drained from his voice. "You need to watch your back very carefully. I presume the Orders have some sort of headquarter or safe house? You should hide there. Don't show yourself in public from now on."
"But why would he want Hermione?!" Ginny yelled in despair, throwing her worried looks.
Hermione felt herself pale, struggling to keep the memories from surfacing. She had hidden them so deep within her years ago, knowing she couldn't deal with them . Her tactic had been to forget, and it had been working out well. Until now.
"Like I said; Personal reasons," he replied shortly.
"What personal reasons?" Ginny cried, throwing her hands up in the air. "She hasn't done him anything. Sure, she was a part of the battle like the rest of us, but there were people who ended up doing more damage than her!"
"They're called personal for a reason, Ms. Weasley," he said coldly. "She knows what I'm referring to, and she's the only one who needs to know."
Ginny's head snapped towards her pale face, giving her a look of utter shock.
"Is that true?" she whispered.
"Yes," Hermione admitted, looking at the floor. She could no longer ignore who was standing in front of her, and it was throwing her more off balance than she thought it would. Her hands trembled uncomfortably, but it wasn't out of fright.
"I don't understand how he found out," she whispered in pain, feeling the tears break free from the corner of her eyes. "I tried so hard.
"Sadly, I can't give you an answer to that," he said quietly, his tone completely changed. "I don't know either."
Ginny looked completely taken aback for a second, before she rushed over to Hermione and wrapped her hand around her shoulders, holding her close. "It's okey."
"No, it's not," Hermione muttered, feeling the cold dread in the pit of her stomach. And even with the threat of death hanging above her head, she was still painfully aware of his presence. It couldn't be anyone else. The pain of the memories flushed over her, making her sway slightly.
"Are you okey?" Ginny asked in concern, holding her tighter, but Hermione broke gently free from her touch. She moved as though in a trance, watching the distance between them falter away by each step she took. Her heart caught in her throat, and she watched as his chest contracted in a deep breath when she got too close. When she raised her head she looked straight into the hood, which could no longer hide him from her. She caught his steel grey eyes with hers, finding herself caught in a whirl of emotions she had buried ages ago.
"Why did you warn me?" she whispered, fighting the urge to reach out to him.
"Why do you think?" he replied, but not in the tone of voice you would expect.
She didn't reply, feeling suddenly numbed by the emotions that struggled for space in her mind. This was all too bizarre. It was too much after all this time keeping it closed in.
"Stay safe," he said intensely, and before she could reply, or even move, he had disapparated out of their apartment, leaving behind nothing but a shaken Hermione and her horrified house mate.
"Hermione," she breathed heavily. "You are going to tell me everything. Right now."
"I can't," Hermione said in a pained voice.
"You can and you will."
"It's been kept secret for so long, and it'll just end up with you hating me."
"Stop being silly, I won't hate you."
"You don't know the story."
"Then tell me," Ginny said fiercely, running over to grab her shoulders.
"No. I can't."
"Your life is on the line, Hermione. I need to know so that I can help protect you. Someone will need to know, and to be honest, I think you'd rather want it to be me."
Hermione gaped at that, realising with a sudden dread that Ginny was right. She was the one person Lucius Malfoy wanted to kill the very most, she would need to hide at the Headquarters. Someone would need to know, and she was very sure that Harry was not the one to tell.
Silently acknowledging defeat, she led Ginny to the couch by the fire in their still dark living room. They sat down in each end of it, curled up against their fluffy pillows. Ginny lit a fire quickly with her outstretched wand.
"Start from the beginning," she urged, resting her head against the back of the couch.
"I think it would suit to start with the beginning of our 7th year, then," Hermione said slowly, completely baffled by the fact that she was actually telling someone. Letting the memories out of their secure hiding place wasn't going to be easy, she knew that all too well. But this was her life on the line.
I have gotten questions and comments on this, so I decided to give a warning:
Ginny will not be getting just a brief summary of the story. I intend to give the full story of what happened at Hogwarts, and then continue on in the 'prologue era' and tell the story of the fight for her life.
I just wanted to say this, cause there seemed to be some who thought I would just give a summary of what happened earlier. However, about half the fic centers on the past, so if you think that'll be boring, etc, I'd like to give you the oportunity to not waist your time. hehehehe.
Thanks for reading and I hope you'll stay with me. :D