Hermione felt the warmth of the sun on her face, but she didn't want to open her eyes just yet. Opening them would mean having to face the day. A day in a beautiful place with the one person she truly knew being the one person who detested her the most. As she lay there, gradually becoming more conscious, she remembered transfiguring a shell into the hammock upon which she was now resting. That's when realization began to creep into her mind. Her head was resting on something softer than the ropes of the hammock. She was, in fact, on her side and her cheek was definitely not on a rope at all. She opened her right eye to check her surroundings, but didn't lift her head at all.
"Morning, Granger." Malfoy drawled from beneath her head.
She gasped and bolted upright so quickly that it disturbed the balance of the hammock and she nearly fell out, but before hitting the ground, she felt herself levitated back to the safety of the hammock.
"I didn't realize you were so clumsy in the morning, Granger." He raised his brow as he brought his wand back to his side.
"You just startled me, Draco." She smoothed her hair with her right hand.
"Did you call me by my name, Hermione?" Draco smirked.
"It just slipped, hey-" She realized that he had done the same.
"It slipped." His gray eyes bore into her brown ones.
"Why are you on the hammock with me?" She returned his stare.
"I couldn't sleep." He dropped his gaze non-challantly.
"My aunt was awake and suggested I take a walk. She even said she often just slept beneath the stars when she needed peace." He turned his eyes back to her.
"She told me to take a walk out here when I couldn't sleep." Hermione's brows furrowed.
"You know she has some talents, right?"
"I know she is talented."
"She can do legillemency without the spell – non-verbal and wandless. It's kind of creepy until you get used to it." He twirled his wand in his hand.
"So that's why she's always finishing sentences for people." Hermione found herself nodding.
"Yes. So, I guess –" Draco looked at the sand again.
"You guess what, Draco?"
"I guess she's been digging in my mind." He kept his eyes down.
"And what has she seen there?"
"The fact that I've wanted to snog you senseless since the Yule Ball in fourth year."
"That's not funny." Hermione pulled her lips tightly together.
"I don't mean to be." He looked her deep in the eye.
"But you hate me and think I'm a – "
"Hermione, I have said and done many things for which I'm not proud. I don't think that about you at all. I may be in a prison here on this island, but for the first time I feel like I'm free. At least I'm free to think what I want for once."
"Look, I know that you are disgusted by me, but I hope that if this all ends we can try to start –"
Draco couldn't finish speaking because Hermione's lips prevented his own from moving. He pulled her closer to him and lost himself, for just a moment in her curls, until she pulled away.
"I'm not disgusted by you in the least." Hermione rose and walked back to the house, leaving Draco in the hammock.
As she entered the kitchen, her hosts were sitting in conference with Professor Dumbledore. She planned to go straight to Heather's room until she heard her worst fear uttered from the Headmaster's mouth, "Harry is a horcrux."
"NO!" Hermione screamed as she ran over to the table. "No, no, no! He cannot be! That just isn't fair!"
Richelle stood first and pulled the girl into a hug. Tears were streaming down both women's faces. "No, dear Hermione, it isn't fair at all."
"You're upset? Harry is more than just a weapon. He's the nicest, kindest, person and he doesn't deserve this."
"I know that, dear, I do. Neither did his mum. She was like a big sister to me, and I loved her so much. I see so much of her in Harry."
"You've seen Harry?"
"I've been around Hogwarts, yes. And Hermione, I promise that I will do everything in my power, Albus will do everything in his, and Severus everything in his to ensure Harry's safety. We will do what we can to destroy Voldemort and save Harry."
"We are just disagreeing about how to do it." Snape answered succinctly.
"You two are just being idiotic. I'm the only one who can go to him. If you two are seen, then it will ruin everything. I can do my spell on you, but it won't work as well as if I do it myself." Richelle shook her head.
"Richelle, you are in no condition to travel and be under such stress." Snape looked fiercely at her.
"I agree with your husband, dear." Dumbledore smiled defeatedly.
"And it won't stress me out to be worried about his safety?" Richelle turned to him.
"Chelle." Snape protested.
"How are you going to destroy it?" The others were surprised by Hermione's question, as if they had forgotten her presence.
"Well, Severus, thinks he can brew a potion." Richelle started.
"The problem is that Potter can't be told of the potion. The horcrux will not want to be destroyed." Severus added.
"This is easy." Hermione offered.
"Excuse me?" Her former professor hardened.
"Obviously, I will give Harry the potion. He trusts me. I can get him to drink it." Hermione smiled.
"She's right. I feel stupid now." Richelle smiled in relief.
"Yes, that will work." Albus stated.
"So when will the potion be ready?" Hermione asked.
"It will take a couple of days to brew. I think it will be ready before you are to meet with Potter and Weasley." Snape stood.
"Maybe I should bring them here. I mean, that way if something goes wrong."
"Maybe, let's think on the details and discuss them this afternoon." Albus suggested.
"Good idea. Hermione, why don't you borrow one of Heather's suits and enjoy a morning on the beach."
Hermione looked at her host and noticed the knowing smile on her face. She felt the heat start to rise to her cheeks, but plucked up her courage and smiled. "I think I will."