Discovered in Hiding

Ch. 1: At the Muggle Hospital of Oxford, England

The war had barely ended. The Death Eaters were still running around and wreaking havoc. At least they no longer crossed into the muggle world so much and kept to tormenting people in the wizarding world. They were scattered. Their leader, Lord Voldemort, had finally been killed, for good this time. Their ranks fought internally for order as the some aimed to take control and be the new dark Lord. At least this would keep them somewhat busy, while everyone else rebuilt their lives and healed from the terrible wounds and traumas they incurred.

Hearts hurt from the losses of dear friends and close family. Minds were haunted by the bloody battles that tore through homes, institutions, and even Hogwarts School. Bodies pained from the wounds, stitched and bandaged. Harry and Ginny and Hermione sat quiet in the hospital waiting room, a muggle hospital. Hermione stared down at her hands as if she could still see the blood there. Ron's blood had mixed with Draco's on her hands only a couple weeks ago. Ginny still cried on Harry's shoulder for her brother, Ron. One of the great heroes who did not make it. His funeral was last week.

Draco, lay in the hospital room with a few doctors and a police officer who served both the muggle and wizarding world. Some heroes survived. Draco's survival was thread thin, though. He had to be moved as many of six times as Lucius made several attempts to wipe the taint from his family. In a muggle hospital, relative safety was found for Draco. He never would have thought himself a hero. But for his secret keeper, for a chance at her happiness in this terrible war, he took the ultimate risk. Now he lay, paying the price for it.

Ginny could stand it no longer and stood up wiping her eyes. "He did everything he could to save Ron and all they are doing is staring at him!" She stormed towards the room where doctors and the officer spoke quietly over Draco's bed.

"Gin! Ginny, no!" Harry bounced to his feet and caught her before she made yet another scene.

Hermione took in a shaking breath. Ron and her had a silly yet loving chat about getting married after they finished school, after the war. Now he was gone. "Sit down, Ginny. They are discussing how to keep him safe, probably working on some kind of witness protection program or something. Change his identity and make it harder for them to find him." She was his secret keeper, a secret she wasn't sure she should keep any longer though. Why bother? They all know now he was a Death Eater, and that he never wanted to be. But that was only half the secret she kept. The other half gnawed inside her.

… … …

They stood screaming at each other in their private lounge room for Head boy and Head girl. Hermione demanded he get more involved with the students as is right for the role of Head Boy. He snarled back that he would not. She screamed her frustrations as he yelled that she didn't understand a thing about purebloods, especially HIS family.

"Then educate this poor mudblood," she growled back threatening to throw a spell at him with her wand.

"Then I would need a secret keeper." His whole expression suddenly changed as he realized the opportunity. "You have no idea how badly I want to tell someone. But I can't. They would kill me. They would kill anyone I told. He would kill me personally. But… you… you can keep a secret. Because if it would risk hurting Potter or Weasley, you would keep it." It was a huge risk. He had held the façade of enemy for so long, clinging to calling her mudblood to maintain her hate. "Granger," He rephrased his thoughts, "Hermione, will you be my secret keeper?"

His secret keeper! Hermione could not believe this. But he was right, if he asked anyone else, they might blab it or hold things against him, use whatever his secrets were to climb the ladder of popularity over him. This would give her the power over him she might need when the time came. "Fine." She dug out a book and looked up the proper vow and spell to be that. The spell put up a pure silencing about the room so no one could overhear or witness the secret.

After swearing to be this, she looked at him with her arms crossed, expectantly. He pushed up his sleeve and exposed the dark Mark upon his forearm. "That is it? Hell, everyone knows you are a Death Eater, Malfoy."

"No one knows that I don't want to be. That I had no choice. That I would do anything to protect my mother from … from everything, and have. I am just not strong enough to free her, or myself."

She stared shocked at what she heard. Now she understood. If Harry and Ron knew Draco was on their side, they would treat Draco differently. That would give away the secret and get them all killed, certainly get Draco killed. He looked away from her almost ashamed, cheeks slightly red.

"I can't not do what my father tells me to. I just… can't. And I can't tell anyone else why. I want to tell, I needed to tell… someone." He swallowed. On the roll of exposure, he needed to show her why he feared so much, for his fear was now plain on his face and he could see she knew. He undid his shirt and dropped it onto the floor, then pulled his undershirt over his head to let it also fall to the floor. She started to protest to his stripping before her, but he ignored her. He undid his belt and shoved his pants down to pool around his ankles. He stood only in his boxers.

Hermione's eyes looked from all the perfectly well placed bruises in locations you would never see or suspect because clothing hid it so well. The beatings plain in the bruises old and new on his upper arms, shoulders, back, torso, thighs and hips. The hip bruises showed where fingers had grabbed him and held him by force. He could not find the words to explain what did this, but she knew. She had seen this before. She had treated these kinds of hurts before, right down to the violations. Dumbledore must have known. He had once told her that Draco and Harry had more in common than she could ever expect. "Who raped you, Draco. Who did this?"

"How do you… know?"

Harry did not make her keep his experiences a secret, "Because Harry often had the same from his cousin Dudley. Who is doing this to you?" She felt a wellspring of self-righteous anger at Dumbledore. How could he have known this and not done anything to stop it? Draco could have been a very different person, even an ally, or maybe even a friend.

"My father." He pulled on his clothes, cheeks burning in complete humiliations.

"Draco…"

He stepped away from her attempt at comfort that came far too late for his need. "If I ever find the courage, if I ever get the chance, if ever my mother will not pay for my deceit… I'll not take a life if I can help it. But I will not hold back otherwise. We are enemies. But if I get the chance, I'll turn… If you can help me. Will you, " he swallowed, hating that he sounded like he was begging, but it tore from his soul to his mouth and out anyways, "Will you please, help me?"

For the first time, Draco was truly naked before her, fragile, and deeply scared and lonely. She took courage and embraced him. He melted into her arms and wept on her shoulder.

The next day, you would never have known he had unmasked himself and gave up his deepest secrets to her.

… … …

Hermione stared back down at her hands again. Draco had begged for her help. He gave up everything for that one chance he thought he had to turn sides and protect them, save their lives.

… … …

Hermione struggled against Bellatrix in the upper room. A Death eater bolted out the room and down the stairs. She could hear Ron screaming for her, not knowing where she was. She dared not respond despite Bellatrix trying to coax her to. It was a trap. Three other death Eaters waited to kill Ron when he entered.

"I am one of you!" Draco yelled at the running Death Eater, exposing to the man his Dark Mark on his arm. The Death Eater seemed stalled just briefly. Wand poised as he debated blasting the student before him as he had several others.

Ron's spell streaked over Draco's shoulder and hit the man. "That's twice I've saved you, Malfoy," sneered Ron.

"Hermione is up there, but it is a trap." Draco hoped Ron was figuring this out. Draco had just learned of his mother's own death and had no reason now to try to do anything to protect her. But he could save Hermione. "Protect the stairs, Ron. I think I can get her. I'll bring her back to you."

"You had better, or we'll kill you."

"If I don't, come back with a lot more help, then I hope you do kill us all." Draco took the stairs two at a time and rounded the corner. He ducked at the oncoming spells. "Dammit! I just had that argument! Bellatrix! I am on YOUR side! They are coming up the stairs!" Bellatrix rolled her eyes. Draco entered the room holding Hermione's eyes. He was glad for all the fighting with Harry, it made him faster at attacking and defending. His shots aimed true. Bellatrix dodged out of sight. He grabbed her arm, "Run! Ron's down the stairs!" Bellatrix was summoning more Death eaters to get them. "RUN!"

They ran down the stairs, but only got halfway. Draco grabbed her and slammed her against the wall out of the way, "DOWN RON! DOWN!" But it was too late, the blasts hit him and he crashed into a broken and bleeding heap at the bottom of the long staircase.

"You traitor, Draco!" Bellatrix threw a spell at Hermione and he shielded her, but lost his wand when his hand got hit.

Draco's weighed held Hermione to the wall. She could see his wand skittering and bounding and breaking with the impact of the spell till it lay in many pieces in Ron's blood. "When I say run," he whispered, "don't stop till you get to Harry. I couldn't save you both, but I will save you." She nodded, not yet gripping the reality of Ron's death. She needed to get away and warn Harry of the Death Eaters arrive through here. Draco was going to give her as much chance as possible. His body jerked as Bellatrix's face appeared over his shoulder. His body jerked again as she stepped away raising a small three pronged spike, like a hand held trident. Blood coated it and she licked it seductively. Hermione pressed her wand into Draco's hand and nodded to him. "Run." His word threw her into action. This was war, and she was the last chance at a warning.

She slid in Ron's blood with a shriek. Harry's hands caught her. Ten other's on their side backed Harry. She turned swiftly to look up the stairs to Draco. Bellatrix had a fistful of his hair, the other fist held the three-pronged weapon embedded in Draco's throat. Hermione's scream never registered. His last act was to pour what he had left in him, the scraps of emotion and need and will through Hermione's wand, lit bright and white in a flash as it connected with Bellatrix when she released his hair to fire a spell with her own wand at Hermione.

Harry knew this scene. He had seen it through former memories of his mother with all her love poured into a last desperate act to save his life, let it out in such a similar flash. It left him wondered what secret emotions Draco held for Hermione. Bellatrix was destroyed by it. Had harry not thrown a levitation spell to catch Draco, he might have tumbled down the stairs to his death next to Ron.

Everyone else rushed up the stairs like a sea of wizards and witched of varying ages to swarm the Death Eaters emerging from the room. Harry levitated Draco to the safety of the bottom of the stairs. He wanted to shed more for Ron or hug Hermione, scream his losses for sure, but the fight was still on and if he did not join in now, more would die.

Hermione sank down. Her wand was somewhere up the stairs where Draco had dropped it. Ron lay dead beside her. Draco at her feet. They both died to protect her, to save her. Tears well up and poured down her cheeks. She leaned down and kissed Ron goodbye. Her hand hesitated over Draco and she choked out a thank you for her life. When his body shuddered in his sudden struggle to breathe around the blood and metal in his throat, she gasped in surprise. Muggle first aid training kicked in as she prevented him from pulling the weapon out of his throat. He might bleed to death more swiftly otherwise. For now, though, he could not breathe. She fumbled through her robes and pulled out a pen. A curt apology and she stabbed it into the lower part of his throat, into his windpipe. Air rushed through the makeshift tube into his lungs in desperate repetitions. His eyes locked onto hers till the world vanished into the terrifying darkness of unconsciousness for Draco.

Wizarding hospitals and doctors treated him. Lucius, somehow informed of his son's deceit, made effort after effort to attack the hospital and kill his son. They had moved Draco from location to location. Finally he was moved to a muggle hospital. No attack came for a whole week. Draco remained hooked to life support with tubes for breathing, nourishment, and blood.

... ... ...

Hermione sat thinking. If everyone was quiet, they could hear the conversation within the room. The doctors discussed removing the tubes since Draco was finally stabilized. The officer discussed possible ways to place Draco in hiding. She stood and calmly walked into the room. She owed it to Draco who risked his life to save her. "Officer. He can't just go into hiding. He needs protection, active magical protection. At least until he can speak again and cast his own magic to protect himself."

A doctor stepped forward, she already knew he was a muggle, but his son was in Ginny's classes at Hogwarts. She could be candid with him. He chose to be equally candid in return. "I don't think he will ever be capable of that. He'll heal, but speak? I doubt it. Maybe years from now. Maybe."

"How about," She was going to do it, hate herself for betraying Ron, but too many still hated Draco and would not agree to this assistance. He was here after all because no one would shelter him. "How about that new identity. Jake Granger, newly married to Melanie Granger. Attacked while on a research expedition. Moved back to England to recuperate and re-evaluate their young lives... He saved my life. I owe it to him to try to save his."

The officer had similar ideas in mind but no one he could think of that he could trust with Draco. "Understand Miss Granger, this is for possibly a very long time. You are only maybe seventeen years old."

She cut him off before he went on, "War steals one's childhood, so don't give me that crap about being too young to consider the consequences of my actions."

"Very well, Miss… Mrs. Granger. I will have the proper papers drawn up and your new home established. It is such a good thing you are so well connected in the muggle world." He left to do just as he planned.

She looked at the wraith under the sheets on the hospital bed, oblivious to the decisions being made about his life without his input. She suspected he would not take it well when he figured it all out. He can make other suggestions himself later. This would get him protected now.

She turned and left the room, running right into Harry who wrapped his arms around her, anticipating her next actions. Her knees weakened as she wept finally. Ginny and he had overheard her offer. "We'll help. We won't ever be too far."


A/N – This fic might be very slow coming with chapters. I am bogged with much homework. I just needed to get the initial idea out of my head as a prologue before it got lost.