The Secret Diary of Hermione Granger

'You look good first thing in the morning, Hermione,' Blaise Zabini told her with a dazzling smile.

Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed.

'You never stop, do you, Zabini?' she observed as they crunched their way up the long gravel drive towards the huge and impressive bulk of Malfoy Manor.

Zabini leered and opened his mouth to speak.

Hermione immediately realised what she'd said, and how he would misinterpret it.

'Don't,' she warned. 'Say nothing, or else.' Her hand moved towards her wand pocket and he closed his mouth with a snap.

Their long shadows preceded them as they strode forwards, it was early on a bright and warm July morning and the rising sun was behind them. Hermione looked around the grounds and gardens curiously; the once ornate gardens needed tending and the yew hedges were badly in need of a trim. Through a gap in one of the hedges she saw a cracked and moss covered fountain.

The mismatched couple continued their walk up the long drive. The manor house loomed dark and imposing ahead of them.

He was a tall young black man with high cheekbones. His brown eyes were not interested in his surroundings, concentrating instead on her legs. He wore bottle green robes of the latest and most fashionable cut, robes which marked him out as a traditional young wizard.

She was a slim brown-haired young woman with well-tanned skin, the result of a recent holiday in Portugal. Her arms and legs were bare. She wore a white short-sleeved blouse and a powder blue, not quite knee length skirt. She also carried a black briefcase and would not have looked out of place in a merchant bank in the City of London. Her Muggle attire marked her out as one of those witches and wizards that the Daily Prophet was calling the "new breed," someone for whom traditional wizarding fashion meant nothing. She would still wear robes when appropriate, but today she was making a statement.

'I was only going to say…'

'Your conversations are either smarmy or full of innuendo,' Zabini, I don't like either. You're as oily as Malfoy's hair and completely insincere; you'd do well to remember who will be writing your staff appraisal for your new boss.'

'Sorry, Miss Granger,' apologised Zabini.

He ingratiatingly flashed his bright white teeth at her. Hermione sighed; Blaise Zabini appeared to be completely immune to criticism. He always assumed that she was joking; or worse, that she found his preening egoism attractive.

When he'd started at the Ministry, Hermione had felt rather sorry for Blaise. His extremely wealthy, and frequently widowed, mother had fled the country during the second war. She had married yet again, this time to a Spanish wizard many years her junior, but she had died suddenly soon after the wedding. Blaise had been horrified to discover that his mother had not left a will. As a consequence, his mother's new husband, who was less than ten years older than Blaise, had inherited everything.

Hermione soon discovered that Blaise's laziness, which had been based on the assumption that he'd never have to work, could not be corrected. His work-shy nature and blatantly appraising leers wore quickly through any sympathy.

'Can I just congratulate you on your forthcoming promotion, everyone in the Department is very happy that you'll be taking over from Mr Postlethwaite when he retires in September.' Zabini tried again.

'Don't lie, Zabini, I'm well aware that several people think that I'm much too young to head even our small division. I know that Adrian Jenkins is far from happy; in fact, apoplectic would be a much better description of his reaction. I also know that very few people think it's a good idea to move Angelina Johnson from Magical Games and Sports as my replacement,' she replied.

'Johnson is currently under investigation, Miss Granger,' said Zabini smugly.

'You squeezed her bum when she came to look around the office, she knocked you unconscious! My report on the incident is already on the Minister's desk and I can't foresee any problems with her appointment. You, however, should expect a formal reprimand. You aren't the only wizard in the Sentient Entity Rights Division who'll benefit from Angelina's forthright management style. You need to learn to keep your hands to yourself, Zabini.'

You don't grab me of course, not after that first attempt. She thought gratefully, transfiguring you into a slug and keeping you in a jar for a week taught you that lesson.

They finally reached the large black oak doors of the manor. Hermione, her heart now beating at an edgy gallop, clasped her briefcase tightly in an attempt to control her nervously shaking hands. She looked pointedly at her junior clerk; he stepped forwards and rang the bell. It opened instantly and a young female house elf bowed low to them.

'Good Morning, Sir and Madam, how may Tolly help you?'

'Good Morning, Tolly, are you well?' asked Hermione politely.

'Well?' the house elf asked, startled. 'Tolly is happy to serve Sir and Madam. Is you here to see the Master, or the Mistress?'

'We are here to see you, Tolly, and any other house-elves employed at this property. Are you the sole servant of this house?'

'No, Madam, it is the honour and privilege of my sister, Tilly, to also work for the noble House of Malfoy,' the elf replied nervously.

'Then please inform the heads of "the Noble House of Malfoy", that Hermione Granger wishes to discuss the implementation of the Sentient Entities Rights Act with them, and that I, and my assistant Mr Zabini, will wish to meet with all house-elves employed by this house. Here is my card.' Hermione pulled a printed card from her purse. It read: "Miss Hermione J. Granger (Order of Merlin, First Class), Deputy Head, Sentient Entity Rights Division, (Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures)" and handed it to Tolly.

'Please inform your employers that S.E.R.D. investigators have the right to inspect all properties employing house-elves in order to ensure that all house-elves are being well treated and are aware of their rights under the Act.'

'Employ! Rights?' Tolly sounded worried. The house-elf held the card at arms length, as though worried that it might explode. She ushered them into the hall, closed the front door and scurried rapidly away.

Hermione tried to remain calm as she gazed around the thickly carpeted hall. She had not seen Draco Malfoy for – two years – probably, and the last time she'd been in this room, more than four years ago, she'd been dragged roughly and rapidly through it and into the drawing room.

She looked to her left. There it was. The door looked ordinary enough, yet beyond it was a room of fear, death and torture. Despite the warmth of the day and the stuffy, stultifying atmosphere pervading the hall, she shivered.

The portraits hanging in the hall were hissing and whispering. Hermione glanced from one to another with interest. Many of them glared back at her, Zabini was looking worried; the hate emanating from some of the paintings helped Hermione regain some of her composure.

'It's me they don't like, not you, Zabini,' Hermione told him. 'They can probably sense that I'm a filthy Mudblood.'

She smiled at the paintings. Each portrait was of a wizard, all were blond, all were unhealthily (almost deathly) pale, all had the distinctively pointed Malfoy features and that instantly recognisable sneer.

'Mudblood!' one of the Malfoy ancestors screeched as she moved closer towards his picture, 'Death to Mudbloods, death to Muggles.' Hermione drew her wand and conjured a gag over his mouth.

'Shut up, you old fool; this is the twenty-first century, not the tenth,' she told the portrait.

'Granger,' a male voice drawled dismissively from a doorway, 'please don't vandalise my paintings, that is a priceless family heirloom.'

'Surely you mean worthless,' she replied evenly. Draco Malfoy bristled, but clenched his jaw and said nothing.

Hermione examined Draco carefully. His pale and pointed face was drawn and rather tired looking. At only twenty two his fine blond hair was already thinning. His robes were of the finest quality, but not of the most fashionable cut.

The Malfoys, despite Narcissa's best efforts, were still a family on the outside of society. They had few visitors and, as Lucius Malfoy was still under house arrest, the Ministry monitored everyone who arrived at the manor. Even the old families no longer visited them. The only exceptions were the Greengrasses and, very occasionally, Theodore and Pansy Nott. The Malfoys were never invited to ministry functions or balls. But then, as Draco and Lucius Malfoy were the only Death Eaters to escape imprisonment in Azkaban, this was understandable.

Draco scowled; his natural inclination, to insult her, was held back by his desperate need to improve his family's name and standing. Hermione decided to make her move immediately. She began conversationally.

'I saw your Aunt and her grandson yesterday, Mr Malfoy; they were at the Burrow for their Sunday dinner. Little Teddy is growing up very quickly, isn't he? He's quite the little chatterbox. Teddy was rather surprised to discover that I was coming here today.'

Draco grunted non-commitally.

Do you know what Teddy calls you?' Hermione continued. She hesitated and watched as Draco glanced at Zabini. Draco did know, and he knew that if she said it in front of a gossip like Zabini it would be everywhere within hours.

'Yes, I'm sure that you find it very amusing, Miss Granger,' said Malfoy hastily, glancing at a now curious Zabini. 'But surely you're not here to discuss my mother's family. This is an official visit isn't it?'

Hermione noted Malfoy's desperate struggle to be polite to her with some amusement.

'Actually, Mr Malfoy, before we get down to business, I would like to ask you a favour,' said Hermione breathlessly. The pent up emotion she now felt was making her heart beat as though she'd been sprinting.

'Anything to assist the Ministry, Miss Granger,' offered Malfoy. He was wearing a supercilious smirk. He'd obviously noticed her emotional state and was curious.

'This has nothing to do with the Ministry, it is rather more personal,' Hermione admitted, trying to smile at Draco.

Both Zabini and Malfoy looked at her in amazement; she could see various bizarre and probably distasteful thoughts flashing across their faces.

'Anything at all,' Malfoy assured her with a lascivious look.

'I'd like to spend ten minutes in your drawing room, Mr Malfoy. Ten minutes alone, unwatched, unrecorded and uninterrupted,' she announced.

'But…' said Malfoy, he was surprised and rather worried by her request.

'You said anything at all. Now would be a good time.' She reminded him. He nodded grudgingly.

'Thank you, I expect your family and your house-elves to be ready for me when I am finished. Ten minutes.'

Gathering every ounce of her courage, she placed her briefcase on a table, turned on her heels and marched determinedly across the hall. With fumbling fingers she opened the door, stepped inside, and after a final, contemptuous glance at Malfoy she closed herself in the room and looked around.

Summer sunlight streamed through the diamond paned windows. The room was brighter than she remembered and warm; despite this, she shivered.

There was an air of dereliction about the place. The carpet was threadbare, curse-torn and stained. The furniture had all been removed. It was obvious that the room was unused. The chandelier had long since been repaired but it had been some years since a fire had burned beneath the ornate mantelpiece. The gilt mirror above it was tarnished. The room was desolate, dank and decaying.

Hermione walked resolutely to the centre of the drawing room, closed her eyes, and remembered. She recalled pain and hatred and voices, though the exact words were thankfully forgotten, the sentiments still rattled around inside her head. She shivered and shook with the memory of the pain and fear.

"Blood traitors are no better than Mudblood scum."

"Crucio!"

"D'you think that they'll let me have a piece, when they're done with her?"

She summoned up their faces.

Bellatrix had been wild eyed; rabid, insane and so full of hatred. How was it possible that smiling grey-haired Grandmother 'Dromeda Tonks, the woman who (according to Harry, who visited Andromeda and Teddy regularly) baked the finest Victoria sponge cake in the world, was the sister of a sadistic madwoman?

Grayback had been – lustful – there was no other word for it. He would be in Azkaban for the rest of his life, thank Merlin.

Lucius had been desperate to get back into his Masters favour. He'd worked hard to ingratiate himself with Tom Riddle and had discovered the hard way that when you got into bed with a snake, you'd likely get bitten. Hermione wondered if she'd be allowed to meet him. According to the rumours Lucius was a crippled, drunken, half-crazed wreck, kept locked in his room whenever guests arrived.

Narcissa had been calculating; she still was. If anyone could restore the name of Malfoy, it would be Narcissa. She was as single minded as Bellatrix and as passionate about her family as Andromeda. It was a fearsome combination. Narcissa would be a vocal supporter of the new regime, of Minister Shacklebolt, for as long as it took for her to regain some status for her son.

Draco had, as usual, been a craven quivering wreck. He'd been too weak to act, either for good or evil. "I'm Draco Malfoy, don't hurt me, I'm on your side!" he'd say that to anyone, on either side. She remembered a conversation with Harry and Ron from a couple of years ago. Harry had come close to defending Draco. "He's not a killer; he's never been able to take a life." Ron had given his usual blunt reply. "He's still a git."

It was difficult to argue with either point of view. But it was equally impossible for her to hate Draco; he was simply too feeble for that. A bully who relied on the backing of powerful friends and parents, he'd proved to be a pusillanimous coward whose first reaction in any crisis was to save himself. Draco was so different to her brave and funny fiancé. Thinking about him brought something else into her mind.

From the darkest recesses of her memory, she heard her fiancé's voice. Instantly, she knew that coming back here had, as he'd suggested, been the right thing to do.

Only Ron had witnessed her nightmares. Only Ron could have comforted her as she sweated and shook in the middle of the night. Only Ron, who had faced his own demons when he destroyed Slytherin's locket, who had faced them again, she realised, in the cellar below this room, could tell her that what she needed to do was to face the truth.

She opened her eyes and looked up at the ceiling, the same ceiling that she'd seen while writhing in pain on this floor. Spreading her arms wide, she stared up at the chandelier and remembered. She looked beyond the pain, behind the hate-filled faces, above her own screams of agony and finally found what she had almost forgotten; the voice of hope, the despairing voice of desperate love.

"Take me, not her! No! No! Hermione!"

When she'd been in this room four years ago, she had heard her fiancé's shouts. Over her pain, and over the shouts of her captors and torturer, she had heard Ron's anguished cries. Despite her agony, despite her fear, despite everything, somewhere deep inside her Ron's voice had registered; she had known from that moment that Ron Weasley loved her, that he would die to protect her. And Ron, she realised, had known that, too. He'd faced his own nightmares and emerged as the brave, annoying, argumentative, caring, compassionate idiot she would soon marry.

She opened her eyes, blinked away a few tears, and re-examined the room. The room of terror was nothing of the sort to her reopened eyes. It was really rather nondescript and very shabby; clean, certainly, but badly in need of redecoration. It was neglected and forgotten; a room, she realised, which held bad memories for the Malfoys, too. They had simply shut out the memories, emptied the room and left it to decay. Thanks to Ron, she had confronted them.

Ron had been right, once again. Those events needed to be remembered; she'd been burying them, ignoring them when she should have been facing them. Now, thanks to him and with his help, she could put it behind her. Ron was right more often than she ever admitted to him (because he was always insufferably smug about it if she told him). But tonight she'd tell him, tonight she'd thank him, tonight she'd give him a night to remember.

Harry had been right, too, this room needed something else, and she'd come prepared. She reached into the tiny pocket in her skirt and pulled out the gold galleon she'd had hidden in there. She would probably get into trouble for what she was about to do, but she didn't care.

Pulling out her wand from its concealed pocket she carefully created a galleon sized hole in the centre of the ornate mantelpiece. She pushed the galleon into the hole, attached it with a permanent sticking charm and activated the photo-charm. Gently stroking the galleon, she smiled sadly as a happily waving Dobby burst out from the photograph, the large collection of hats and tea-cosies on his head wobbling alarmingly. Then the words appeared.

"In this room, Dobby (Order of Merlin, first class), a free house-elf, gave his life to save others."

Her ten minutes were probably up. She listened, and realised that there were several odd noises coming from the hall. At the Burrow yesterday evening, Ron had persuaded her to come here. As soon as she'd agreed George and Ginny demanded to be allowed to trap her briefcase.

Angelina had told George about the Zabini incident, they had all laughed at Angelina's description of the single punch with which she'd floored Zabini, but George wanted a proper, Weasley, revenge. Hermione had refused to take part in any pranks until Ron added his voice to the argument. She wondered whether it had been Zabini or Malfoy who had taken the bait.

When she opened the door into the hall, she discovered that it was both.

Her briefcase was still on the table where she'd left it, but it was open.

Draco Malfoy was cursing and swearing and desperately trying to prevent the yellow rubber mallet he was holding from hitting him about the head. Two hands protruded from the mallet handle and were gripping Draco's hand, making it impossible for him to release it. The remainder of the handle had become a long spring. The head whipped around rapidly and regularly, but softly, hit the blond young man on head and face, emitting an annoying squeak every time it did so.

There was no sign of Zabini, but his robes lay in a pile on the floor. From the angry female voice coming from through the door opposite, it appeared that the Portbook had sent Zabini into the same room as Narcissa Malfoy. Hermione's guess was proved correct as Blaise Zabini, wearing nothing but socks and rather baggy underpants dashed out from what appeared to be the library.

Mister Zabini, Mister Malfoy,' Hermione said sharply, desperately trying to keep a straight face and hoping that the Auror issue miniature camera hidden in her briefcase was working. 'One of you has opened my briefcase. How dare you! There may have been important, or even secret, documents in there.'

Zabini was followed from the library by Narcissa Malfoy, who was white-faced and absolutely furious.

'What on earth is going on?' Narcissa demanded. 'Draco, put that ridiculous thing down!'

'I can't, mother,' Draco whimpered.

Hermione, somehow successfully suppressing a fit of the giggles, tried to explain.

'I must apologise for Mr Zabini, Mrs Malfoy. It appears that either he, or your son, opened my briefcase while I was otherwise engaged. I'll sort this out for you.'

Draco danced and cursed as the mallet continued to beat him about the head. Hermione walked over to the thin faced young man and, with a tap of her wand, deactivated the mallet and took it from him. Zabini meanwhile, was struggling back into his robes.

'A thank you would be nice,' Hermione suggested to Draco. He simply swore. She glared at him and he lapsed into a surly, embarrassed silence. Hermione waved the mallet in front of his face.

'Mister Malfoy, this belongs to your first cousin once removed, Teddy Lupin. It was a present from George, who found dozens of them in the basement of his shop.' She hit the back of her hand with the mallet, it squeaked feebly.

'It's rather unfortunate that it was you who picked it up. George and Fred Weasley were working on a Death Eater detector before the Battle. This, in typical Fred and George style, is it.' She thrust the bright yellow rubber toy under his nose.

'I can hold it safely; almost anyone can hold it safely. If you bear the Dark Mark, however, then – well, you've seen what happens. Of course, the Weasley Death-Eater Detectors were never needed, as you and your father cooperated with the Ministry and gave up the hiding places of almost all of your former friends and allies. George gave this to Teddy as a toy. But I think that he hoped that it would end up here. It will be rather comforting for him to know that the spells still work after all these years.'

Hermione waited for a few seconds before continuing, revelling in Malfoy's silent fury before continuing. 'Oh, and you ought to know that the mallet contains an additional jinx, something Fred invented. He called it "the blue-bum." It – well – you can probably guess what it does. So far as I know, Fred was the only one who knew how to remove it so you may have a problem.'

Hermione ignored Draco's look of horror and his mother's angry hissing. She turned on Zabini.

'The book, please, Mr Zabini.' She held out a hand.

'Book?' Zabini stammered.

'I recognise the hallmarks of another Weasley product, Zabini; after all, my fiancé is now half owner and co-Director of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. You found the Portbook, a book which acts as a Portkey when opened. It's one of a kind. It moves you about fifty feet, but leaves most of your clothes behind. The twins were quite brilliant at extending magical fields in unusual ways; you probably remember their Headless Hats.'

Rather reluctantly, Zabini handed over the book. Hermione smiled wryly. The cover had been changed. Usually, it purported to be a book called "Witches Wearing Nothing," most boys would open it, activating the Portkey, only to discover that the pages were blank and they were standing somewhere else, in their underwear. However, George, or Ron, had altered the cover. The words "The Secret Diary of Hermione Granger" were written on the pink and flowery cover.

'It's a fake, Zabini. I don't keep a diary,' she told him. 'And if I did, it certainly wouldn't be pink and flowery, or anywhere you could find it.' She looked at the two foolish young men.

Draco was fondling his backside through his robes, as though that might tell him whether or not he had a blue bum. Zabini, in his haste to get dressed, had put his robes on backwards. Hermione had so far managed to keep her face straight but the sight of Draco scuttling out of the room with his hands tightly clasped to his backside was too much for her. She snorted with laughter.

'I can see that you're busy Mr Malfoy,' she called. 'I'll take the mallet back for Teddy, and I'll tell him to keep it away from his Uncle Dodo in future. You do iknow/i that's what he calls you, don't you?'

She was rewarded by a hate-filled glare from Malfoy.

Zabini's eyes gleamed at that information. Poor Dodo Malfoy Hermione thought, everyone in the Ministry would know that name by the end of the day. When Teddy Lupin had first mispronounced Draco's name George had laughed so much that he'd promised the little boy anything he wanted from the shop. The name had stuck. At the Burrow Draco was always referred to as "Uncle Dodo." Hermione turned to Narcissa Malfoy, who was looking at her with ill disguised hatred.

'Mrs Malfoy,' she stifled a giggle. 'I must apologise, perhaps we should reschedule this visit for another day. I will go and speak to my fiancé and his brother; they had no right to plant joke items in my briefcase. Zabini, go and find somewhere private to put your robes straight and then report back to the office. Goodbye, Mrs Malfoy.'

She threw both mallet and book into her briefcase, closed it, and hurried from the house. As soon as she had shut the front door behind her she collapsed against the wall laughing helplessly. She had not done the job she'd come to do, but it had been worth it. She'd laid one ghost to rest and she'd seen two self important and humourless young men make fools of themselves.

Wiping tears from her eyes she strolled down the drive to the gates. As she walked she noticed a pale, horsey-faced girl with light brown hair walking towards her. The girl was staring at her. She wore pale green robes and a scowl.

'Good morning, Miss Greengrass, it's a lovely day and you're going to visit your boyfriend, you should be smiling.' Hermione nodded politely at the young woman, who did not reply.

'If Zabini is still there, tell him that George Weasley said; "Never mess with a Weasley's woman", you might want to tell Teddy's "Uncle Dodo" that, too,' Hermione called back over her shoulder as the horsey-faced girl marched silently and determinedly past her.

'You should probably also tell him that there was a camera hidden in my briefcase,' Hermione added. The girls back stiffened, but still she said nothing.

Hermione stepped through the gates, Harry was waiting for her.

'Is everything okay?' he asked her.

'I said that I didn't need any help, Harry, there is absolutely no need for you to be here.' she scolded. Harry grinned.

'There is, I'm afraid, I'm on official Auror Office business. We forgot what would happen about the Portbook. The Portkey Office detected two unauthorised Portkey uses inside Malfoy Manor, a departure and a simultaneous arrival. They immediately called an "all available Aurors" alert. I only just managed to stop the alert before twenty combat-ready Aurors arrived inside the manor. I'll admit that I was tempted to let them go. Aurors like a laugh as much as the next person. Who was it?' he asked.

'Blaise,' Hermione supplied, laughing.

Harry chuckled. 'Seeing Blaise in his underpants would have been a traumatising experience for some of our younger trainees. I'll just go in and arrest him for unauthorised Portkey use. Lavender arrested a Banshee last night. I'll put Blaise in the next cell for a few hours. Listening to her wailing will be good for him. I'd better go, duty calls, and for once it's not really unpleasant. Ginny and I will see you and Ron at the restaurant on Wednesday; we'll want to see those photographs. Bye, Hermione, take care.'

Hermione watched her friend walk up the drive. When the gates to the manor closed behind him she prepared to Apparate back to work.

There was nothing for her here, not any more.