A/N: Hi. So, um, I haven't updated in, what? A year? I don't even know. I lost access to the computer I had the previous story saved on and, well, life, I guess. But I was actually going through my stories, for once, and noticed it still gets the occasional hit sometimes. I've been wanting to write a story lately, but couldn't think of anything, but I think I'll continue with this. I've forgotten much of the original plot, but still have a vague memory of what I was thinking. That's why this chapter is so short. But, things permitting, I'll be able to get more written soon.
"How did you find me?" The shock of the student he felt the most responsibility for showing up unannounced had abated slightly, allowing his mind to focus on the more relevant issues.
"Well, for me, it was simple. Other than his friends, I know Potter better than any one else at Hogwarts. I simply figured that when you didn't turn up… there… and when you hadn't been arrested, he must have intervened. I knew I couldn't go to the Black house looking for you, and you most likely wouldn't have been at the Weasel den, so I looked up Granger's address… In the phonebook."
"You looked up her address in the phone book?" Snape asked, amazed. When had Draco ever taken to using muggle sources and objects for anything. Truly he must have been desperate.
Draco averted his eyes and brought his tea cup to his face, portraying his embarrassment at the situation. It was the next morning after his sudden appearance. Despite his bravado the night before, he had obviously been exhausted and had allowed Snape to point him at Hermione's bedroom without protest. Snape had felt slightly hesitant at the arrangement, wondering if he should have taken the girl's bedroom to prevent inappropriate snooping and eventual anger on Granger's part, but the idea of sleeping in his student's room had been abhorrent. These arrangements would have been much easier if their had been any furniture left in the parent's room, but that unfortunately was not the case.
Observing Draco carefully for a moment, Snape noticed things about him that attested to his state of mind being much worse than he let on. Already pale, his face had taken on the color of paper; he held his mug with shaking hands, hunched over to take in the heat wafting from the tea. He looked sick and distant, his eyes glazed over an unseeing.
"Why are you really here?" Snape asked, fortifying himself for the process of whittling down the lies of an evasive teenager to get to the truth.
"Why are you?" Draco asked derisively, an attempt at a sneer flickering and dying on his face.
Snape ignored this, simply staring until he received an answer. Draco closed his eyes for a brief moment, making a soft wheezing noise as he breathed.
"Like I told you, things have gone crazy with my parents. I needed to get away from it, and I honestly thought I was safer here than any where else."
Still feeling as though he wasn't getting a truthful answer, Snape opened his mouth to reprimand him but was interrupted from the noise of some one entering the sitting room.
"Who's that?" Draco asked, his voice squeaking in panic.
"Most likely one of the dynamic duo." Snape said dully, his day already going worse than planned. He wanted out of this house, out of this strange custody, away from teenagers. This had not been what he'd had in mind when he had prepared himself for an easy surrender.
"Duo?" Draco whispered to himself as the door to the kitchen banged open. There was a sudden shriek and a bang. Half expecting to find himself cursed, Snape was slightly amused to find himself facing a gasping Granger, her arm outstretched and her face panicked.
"What – what is he doing here?" She asked shrilly. Slowly, she lowered her arm, and Snape discovered that the jinx had not, in fact , been aimed at himself, but Draco. Freshly paralyzed, Draco glared at her with a mixture of anger and fear.
"That is what I have been attempting to uncover myself."
"Oh." Glancing at Draco, Hermione squinted her eyes for a moment before turning her attention to the news paper clutched in her left hand. Returning her gaze to Draco once more, she raised her arm and quickly muttered the anti-jinx.
"So, what are you doing here, Malfoy?"
Looking between the two, Snape was slightly surprised to see Draco's face turn red and his lips clench together stubbornly. Hermione waited briefly, sighed, took another look at her paper, then strode to the cupboard and pulled out a mug. Snape noticed Draco looking at the paper with apparent anxiety, and determined there must be something in it that explained, at least partially, Draco's sudden appearance.
Pouring herself tea, she hardly paid any more attention to Malfoy, instead addressing Snape as if the boy was not in the room.
"Could you come with me, please? I want to talk to you." Not waiting for an answer, she left the room.
He entered the sitting room to find Granger already perched, straight backed, on an armchair, glowering at the floor.
"I think we made a mistake." She said hurriedly.
"I was the one who came up with the idea of finding your, especially before the ministry could administer their, um, swift justice." She said the last part with disgust, obviously not fond of how the ministry conducted its affairs.
"Is that so?"
"Yes," She snapped, looking irritated with herself. "But now I think Harry agreed to it for the wrong reasons, whether he realizes it or not." She narrowed her eyes at him while considering her next words. "I thought we could learn something from you, but I'm not quite sure what to ask. Most of the things I've been searching the answers for have already revealed themselves without your help, such as your involvement in the war, who was really on what sides. But I think Harry has other questions for you. I think he has a vendetta against…" She stopped herself here, taking a flustered breath.
"Even if that's what you may believe, there's a wealth of information you haven't the faintest clue of. There are so many things you'll never know about what was happening during all these years." Snape told her sadly, imagining her, an insufferable know-it-all, growing frustrated as she began to realize this; realizing that despite her extreme diligence and care there would always be pieces of the puzzle she would never find.
"Are you trying to give me a reason for changing my mind? Make me more accepting of the fact that you're here, in my parent's home, even as I change my mind about it? Because you're not making a very good case for yourself. I know I convinced Harry, but I'm not so sure now."
"No, miss Granger, I'm merely stating fact. At this point I really could care less what happens to me. I still very much expect to be handed over to the ministry at any time, by any one of you."
Hermione shifted in her seat. Despite her strong words, the actual idea of giving him up seemed to bother her.
"Why is Malfoy here?" As she asked, Snape noticed her hand quickly go to the paper tucked away at her side.
"What's in the Prophet today, miss Granger? You seem to know something I don't know."
"Oh, um, nothing," She said shakily, "What is he doing here, sir?"
"He told me he was here because the ministry had taken all his family's belongings, and, as he put it, his parents are crazy at the moment." Hermione blanched slightly at this, "Granger, what's in the newspaper?" He asked again, convinced there was something in there he needed to know.
"I'm afraid it's rather bad news. For Draco. I don't know if he knows this yet or not." Sighing, she fished the Prophet out from between her thigh and the chair and handed it to him.
Reading through the first two pages quickly, he frowned. His first impulse was to point out how stupid the whole thing was, but he held his tongue, knowing full well that Hermione would, at best, find the comment in poor taste. Most likely she would fly into an indignant rant on respect and courtesy, and so on.
It wasn't that he was insensitive or cruel, it was just the strangeness and the timing of the events that had him feeling it was so stupid. But, he admitted to himself, he didn't know the full story.
"So, they're dead." He stated, hoping she would have some embellishment to add the rather brief article.
"Yes," She looked to her feet, "The ministry was looking to punish them. There were rumors of life imprisonment, that sort of thing. I don't know why, exactly, he did it. Perhaps out of shame, or fear, but it was a murder-suicide. They think it happened only yesterday. I thought- well, um, I thought that Malfoy was there. Every one seems to think that. It was very, uh, surprising to find him sitting in my kitchen." Snape noticed she had omitted guilt in her list of reasons, and found that he didn't disagree with that. What ever reason Lucius Malfoy would have for murdering his wife then turning his wand to himself, it would not have been guilt.
"So, the real question is, does Draco know?" Snape muttered to himself.
Hermione looked up in alarm, just as Snape cocked his head to the side. Very faintly, in only more than a whisper, they heard it through the kitchen door:
"Yes, Draco knows."
Overwhelmed by the moment's stress added to the stress of the last several days, Hermione buried her face in her hands and began sobbing.
Sighing softly, Snape wondered what he was getting himself into, and resigned himself to sit there and watch another one of his former students cry.