Disclaimer: Not mine.

Notes: Being as I have up to chapter 17 written, I am going to start getting this posted. I've just had a lot to deal with as of late. Getting a promotion. Manager on medical leave and not enough employees and then my daughters...we live in a small country town and things like this just don't happen here...but a friend they have had since they were 5 and 6 (they are 13 and 14 now) was shot in the head by another friend of theirs. This has been devastating. I will never forget that phone call or the sound of the horror, heartbreak and confusion in my baby's voice.

Chapter 4

Theo and Draco were already in their seats in the Potions classroom when Hermione stepped in with her two closest friends. It was like it had always appeared to be. Hermione walked in either smiling or looking like she was scolding one of them. Today it was a smile. For that split second it looked like the old Hermione if you ignored how pale she still was and how thin her face was. Harry had whispered something down to her that had her in fits of giggles until her eyes landed on the table she was to sit at.

Harry followed her line of vision. Seeing the table with the empty seat between the two Slytherins was enough to dampen the best of moods. What was Slughorn thinking by separating them? What had it proven except that one class period could not pass by without Draco and Hermione looking about ready to kill each other? Her hard glare turned to Harry and Ron where it softened into an almost apologetic appeal to understand. Harry smiled reassuringly and turned to sit in his own seat. Ron reluctantly followed.

The class was thrilled when Slughorn told them there would be no practical lesson today, but to simply take notes in preparation for the practical part of the lesson on Monday. Hermione got her quill and parchment out, trying to ignore the rising anger. Theo leaned slightly against the lab table, twirling his quill between his fingers, watching Draco's behavior. It was as if Draco knew what his mere presence did to Hermione. He would lean slightly, just a tad closer, into Hermione's space, just enough for her to notice. Theo shook his head. True, this little game of Draco's was fascinating to watch, but he kept waiting for it to backfire and he knew it would. If you keep putting your hand into the fire, eventually you get burned.

"Which one of you can tell me about the Alternus Potion?"

Slughorn's beady eyes looked over the classroom, smiling like a large toad when his eyes landed on Hermione's raised hand. He nodded for her to go ahead. Draco rolled his eyes as she began to speak in her usual tone of one giving a lecture.

"Alternus or Alternate Potion is a Potion created in the Eighteenth Century by several so called Seers. Originally, the potion was meant to show the every day witch and wizard the future, but due to one of the seers mixing the dandelion roots in before the unicorn hair, the potion instead shows the drinker glimpses of an alternate reality that some muggle scientists and wizard researchers believe to co-exist with the one we know. These alternate realities are often total opposite realities from the one which we know, with various aspects that may very much mirror the reality which we know."

"Thank you, Miss Granger!"

Slughorn seemed thrilled with her response and continued on with his lesson while Hermione wrote more notes than what was probably necessary for her, fighting the urge to stab Draco with her quill. It was all his fault she had detention on a Friday night. All his fault.

Hermione closed her Potions text book where she had been reading about the Alternus Potion, again. She slipped it into her bag and stood up. Harry and Ron both looked up from the chess table as one of Ron's knights slaughtered one of Harry's. They both knew where she was heading.

"Good luck with your detention," Ron said as he pumped his fist in the air at his coming victory.

Harry rolled his eyes, pushed his glasses up and instructed one of his pieces where to go. As the piece made its move, Harry looked back up at Hermione moving through the common room toward the portrait hole.

"Hermione," he called to her. "Don't let that ferret get to you."

She paused at the portrait hole and nodded with a small smile.

Hermione walked swiftly through the corridors ignoring the looks she received by those students still roaming about the castle. She hated the sideways glances as if they expected her to melt down at any moment. She hated the pity on some of their faces. She didn't need their pity; she didn't want it.

The students she saw in the corridors dwindled in number the closer she got to Professor Snape's office. Not many wished to loiter about near his office for fear of him finding something to punish them for, even it was simply breathing too loud. Despite her distaste for the looks the students she ran across graced her with, as the number of students dwindled and she found herself alone in the corridor, she felt a panic rising in her. Her feet moved faster, almost running until she reached the door to his office. When Hermione lifted her fist to knock on the door, she saw how it shook.


Snape looked up from his desk and through his strands of dark hair as the girl entered his office. She looked as pale as she had all summer. She looked shaken though; he had no doubt her trek down to his dungeon office was riddled with panic and anxiety. He watched her fidget; hovering near the door as if that alone would give her an easy quick escape if one became necessary. His eyes shifted back down to the parchment he was writing on.

"Are you ready to talk about what happened?"

He asked as if he really didn't care in hopes that perhaps his indifference would help her open her mouth and talk, knowing she would get no pity from him. There would be no mollycoddling from Professor Snape. She was quick to answer though.


Immediately following her answer, the second knock he was expecting sounded, causing Hermione to nearly jump out of her skin. Snape watched how she pushed herself against the wall as he told Draco to enter.

The blond Slytherin entered Snape's office, tossing his hair out of his eyes and glancing sideways at the clearly fear stricken Hermione. Draco's lips turned up into a slightly crooked smirk. Snape cleared his throat, his only attempt to stop anything Draco was about to do to make things worse.

"Both of you," Snape said rising from his seat and stepping around his desk. "I will escort the both of you to an area around the lake that needs weeding."

On the way to the lake, Hermione bit her bottom lip, fighting the desire to pull her wand and hex the nasty little Death Eater to oblivion. Snape stood on the side of the lake, looking between the two students, noticing the rising anger on Hermione's face. He held out both his hands.

"Wands," he said curtly.

Hermione, accustomed to having Snape take her wand, pulled it out and slapped it into his hand harder than necessary. Draco looked thoroughly put out. Why was he being punished for Granger's lack of self-control?

"I shall return," Snape said, pocketing both wands and heading back for the castle.

As Snape disappeared, Hermione looked down at the overgrown area he had taken them to. It was on a slight cliff above the lake, not so far above as to be dangerous. In the summer times you could find students jumping from it into the lake. The weeds were over grown however and Hermione worried for a moment about what could possibly be living and breeding in that mess.

She said not a word to Draco as she knelt down and began pulling at the weeds with her hands. Why was it always punishment to not use magic? Simply being forced anywhere near Malfoy without a wand to hex him was punishment enough. Still, each weed she pulled she imagined to be Draco's head. Looking at the ground and the weeds in disgust, Draco knelt down. This was so beneath him.

An hour later found Darco and Hermione both filthy from the ground and the weeds that fought against being pulled from the ground. Draco pushed his hair, damp with sweat out of his eyes and glared at Hermione.

"This is all your fault, Mudblood. If you'd just control yourself once in a while!"

Hermione shot up out of her crouching position on the ground, ignoring the way her back screamed in pain. Her fists were clenched at her sides.

"I'm not the Death Eater here! It's all your fault." As she said the words "Death Eater" her lips turned up in a disgusted snarl and her eyes danced with so much anger and hate that Draco could not help but to stand up and fight with her.

"Don't talk about things you know nothing about!"

Hermione nodded and stepped closer to the Slytherin. Who did he think he was?

"I know enough, Malfoy. I know enough to know that you are one of them. You were raised to be one of them!"

Malfoy's anger was beginning to rise to a dangerous point. They had fought for years. She always angered him, but this was taking it too far. What did she know? Absolutely nothing.

"You would just love it if you were right, wouldn't you, Granger?" Draco snarled at her. "You want the truth, Granger? Want to see for yourself?" Draco's voice was rising and Hermione's anger was growing. Her chest heaved in barely restrained anger, her eyes dancing with fire. In his anger, Draco nearly ripped his shirt in his effort to pull his sleeve up. He shoved his forearm right under Hermione's nose.

"There, Mudblood! Happy? Do you see it? Does it mock you and remind you?"

Hermione stared down at the offending mark upon Draco's arm. She knew it was there, but somehow such a victory wasn't something to be celebrated. Her eyes were wide.

"I knew you were one of them," she hissed.

"You know nothing, Mudblood! You honestly believe this was the choice I made?"

Their voices were rising and no one was around to see or hear. Then Hermione simply could not take the sight of that horrid mark in her face, so close to her on the arm of a Death Eater. She felt sick…she felt poisoned by the hate that flooded her system.

The Headmistress stood in front of the two students, dumbfounded and appalled at their appearances. Hermione and Draco both stood in front of her, dripping wet from head to toe. It was simply unfathomable how a detention for them could turn into this. She first looked over Draco. There was no bodily damage that she could tell. His hair was plastered to his head, dripping water. His school uniform, top few buttons undone, was plastered to his form, melding to the shape of the contours of his lean upper body. Then, she looked over Hermione. It was just indecent for this student to be wet like this in a white shirt in front of a hormonal young man. It didn't matter that they hated each other. This needed to be dealt with quickly. She almost felt bad doing so. Hermione hadn't been the same. She would be one day, but not right now. They still didn't know what horrors the girl witnessed that sent her into that closet instead of standing and fighting to the death like any Gryffindor who often runs head first into things. She would tell no one though.

"How did the two of you manage to come to this soaking wet state?"

"Easy," Draco said with a strained voice. "We were serving our detention….weeding the area around the lake. She tried to push me into the lake, so naturally I grabbed the first thing I could reach."

"And what would that be, Mr. Malfoy?" McGonagall was sounding very annoyed with this story.

"Granger, of course."

Hermione turned toward Draco and was ready to verbally attack.

"Why you little cretin! You're not going to tell her what you said to me are you?"

Their voices were so loud that any portraits that were usually early to bed were awake now and listening. McGonagall had enough.

"Alright! That is enough!"

Her voice boomed in the office causing Draco and Hermione to both shut up and turn to look at her with wide eyes and worry of what was to come.

"I have had it! You are the Heads and are supposed to be setting an example! One more fight….just one…and both of you will be stripped of your Heads titles. Am I clear?"

They both nodded silently, afraid to say anything else.

"I will decide your punishment at a later time," she said. "Now go back to your dorms. I don't want to see you back in my office this weekend either."

Draco and Hermione left the office in a strained silence, both wanting to blame the other. When she stepped off the stairs leading up to the Headmistresses office, she was relieved to see Harry and Ron waiting on her. Harry rushed forward when he saw her appearance and quickly handed his robe to her. Nott was leaning against the stone wall shaking his head at Draco when he looked Hermione over one good time, noting how Harry and Ron seemed to be taking good care of their broken pet.

"Not a word, Nott," Draco said in an obvious bad mood by the use of his closest friend's last name instead of his first. Nott continued to chuckle as he walked with Draco back to the common room in the dungeons, glancing over his shoulder once at the Gryffindors moving in the opposite direction.

Theo's deep dark hazel eyes moved from Hermione to Draco and back again as they continued to argue. It was ridiculous. How long was Draco going to continue this game? Was there really that much entertainment value in angering Granger to the point of near insanity? From across the room he could see Harry and Ron shooting surreptitious looks their way. Even from where the Gryffindors sat with Blaise they could see the tension and arguing at his table.

Hermione peered into the cauldron. The potion sat completely docile in a shade of puce green.

"It's not supposed to be that color, Malfoy."

Her anger had lessened some in the days following the lake incident. She was still angry, she just wasn't quite so violent toward Draco anymore, but their arguing was as loud and passionate as ever. The urge would suddenly fill her, but no longer was it so uncontrollable that she had to dive over tables to reach the Slytherin.

Draco leaned over the cauldron to look in real quick and then looked back at Hermione.

"What did you do to it, Granger?"

From the other side of Hermione, Theo looked up, eyebrows slightly raised in annoyance and trying desperately to get Draco to just cut it out. It was exhausting watching Draco play this little game, but every time he mentioned it to Draco, Draco asked if he wanted to join in.

"What did I do to it? Why you…" She moved to step forward, but found she could go nowhere. She turned at the surprise of not moving and saw Nott had a hold of the back of her robes with one hand.

"This is my grade too," was all Nott said as he let go of her, confident she would do nothing to Draco.

She turned back to Draco.

"I did not do this, Malfoy. You don't know how to follow directions. It says right here," she said pointing to the book. "To stir the potion three times clock-wise after adding the dragon scale to prevent this coloring."

Draco turned to Hermione rather quickly and bent down to be eye level with her. His icy eyes seemed to have trapped hers in their glare.

"Let me explain something to you," he said with no hidden amount of contempt.

"Unlike your idiot Gryffindor friends, I do not make it a habit to allow little Mudbloods to push me around."

She was so angry, tears were forming in her eyes, welling up and screaming to be released, but she refused. Not in front of Draco. Anyone but him. That word still hurt to hear it used. He tore open wounds Draco couldn't possibly know, but she doubted he cared either.

"You're awful," she whispered barely keeping control of her voice.

At the sound of her almost broken voice, Theo looked up from his notes on how to fix the potion. His grey eyes lingered on the tear that was starting to slowly slide down her cheek. Draco looked at her with a smirk.

"I got news for you, Mudblood. You're not exactly the sweetest rose in the garden yourself."

With those words, Draco grabbed the unicorn hair, not just one, but about five and threw them down into the cauldron with a smirk as if daring her to say anything to him. He had no doubt he could afford one bad grade if it meant knocking this Gryffindor off her pedestal. He might could even put the blame on her obvious insanity and talk Slughorn into allowing him to remake the potion without her.

But those thoughts were washed away when he threw the unicorn hair into the potion. Theo knew what was coming and was backing away, trying to pull Hermione with him, but she was quickly knocked out of his grip by the explosion that followed.

Hermione felt herself being knocked to the ground by an unforeseen force. She felt the gooey coverings of a potion gone awry and felt Draco Malfoy's long hard body land on top of hers. She felt the anger boiling up, threatening to over take her again. She wouldn't let it. That would be like letting this ferret win. She pushed and kicked at him, trying to ignore the way his blond hair brushed across her cheek.

"Get OFF me!"