Authors Note - I know, I know. I'm awful. I don't even want to think about how long it's been since I updated this. I do hope this chapter is okay, it's been a while since I've written and I'm sure this story's *flow* will seem a bit choppy when compared to the previously written chapters. Please do message me with any obvious errors that I've missed, and yell at me about my run-on sentences and horrid dialogue as much as your heart desires. I'm back, and ready to finish up this story that's been a part of me for so long. As always, all characters and locations belong to Queen Rowling. I'm just a kid in her sandbox. Try to enjoy! Draco perspective chapter coming soon, I promise. Thanks so much for the support! I hope you don't all hate me!
Harry and Ron met Hermione's questioning gaze. Harry, wild black hair falling in his face, looked as though someone had just asked him to kiss a dementor. Ron's neck was turning crimson with irritation. The colour grew steadily up his face until he resembled a red-haired tomato.
You're absolutely mad. Why would you bring Draco here? Do you really think that because he snogged you once in a fit of rage he could become a member of the Order of the Phoenix? Daft girl.
Hermione winced. Harry and Ron were still speechless, while Draco looked at the Weasley boy's cherry-red and angry face with a disgusted sneer. Luna, Fleur, and Bill all seemed to be mulling over the idea of including Malfoy, and none of them seemed overly dismayed by the thought.
"You know, he probably does have a lot of information about the Death Eaters' plans," began Bill, breaking the tense silence, "I'd be open to including him."
"CLEARLY BEING AROUND A HALF-VEELA HAS BOGGLED YOUR MIND IF YOU THINK-" Ron roared, his apparent rage finally coming to surface. He never got to finish his thought, however, as he was interrupted by a loud scoff from Fleur, who disappeared from the room in a flash of silvery-blonde hair. Hermione snorted as she noticed Ron's poorly-masked wistful gaze follow her out.
Harry stirred in his seat at the table. His green eyes focused on table as he thought, clearly battling several different thoughts at once. He took a deep breath, and avoiding Draco's piercing eyes, nodded.
"Bill's got a point. We haven't got enough time to argue about this. If the ferret agrees to tell us everything he knows about Voldemort's operation and plans, I will think about letting him in on some of our ideas. There's no bloody way he's joining the Order, though." Harry said, his wavering voice illustrating his attempt to restrain himself from yelling, "Merlin, Hermione, it would have been so much simpler to come here alone."
"I'm so honoured that the chosen one has given me a second chance!" Draco spat, his hair falling wildly across his angled face, "Will you sign my robes? My arm? My shirt? Please?"
"On second thought Hermione, I've changed my mind," Harry yelled, losing all patience while his hand slid over his wand, "let's just torture the information out of him and leave him to die." He raised his wand with an unsettling look of hatred stirring deep inside of his emerald eyes, and opened his mouth to cast a spell. His wand flew swiftly out of his fingers, and he grunted loudly in confusion.
"Expelliarmus!" Hermione disarmed Harry with a groan. Draco smirked.
Draco is acting like we're first-years again, Harry's rage goes from zero to a hundred in about three seconds, and I'm not entirely convinced that Ronald is not a five-year old boy trapped in the body of a young adult. Bill and Fleur agree with me, though. I'm going to guess Luna's toothy grin is agreement as well. That's 4 to 3, or 5 to 2 if we count Draco. Do we count Draco? Why did I bring a Death Eater that has devoted his wizarding life to hating myself and my friends to an Order safe-house?
She looked firmly at Harry and Ron, her eyebrows raised in a very 'Molly Weasley-esque' fashion. The pair immediately straightened up in their chairs, outwardly dreading her wrath.
"Harry. Ron. You're finished with this infantile behavior. I feel like I'm in fourth-year again. How dense are you two? He's been included in the other side's plans for the better part of a year. Think of all the information. Draco, I saved your life. We're not at Hogwarts anymore. You can drop the arsehole act. Luna, Bill and Fleur all agree that working with you is in the Order's best interest. I want you to tell us everything, and I want you to do it now." Her tone was dry and bossy. Harry and Ron regarded her, wide-eyed, their mouths open in awe.
"'Mione, is that really you? The last time I've been talked to that way was at the Burrow-"
"Will-you-be-quiet-before-I-hex-you?" Hermione spat at Ron, "Draco, start with your initiation into the Death Eaters, and don't stop until we reach that night at the Malfoy Manor when I was left behind."
Luna and Bill watched Draco expectantly. Ron, who looked like he was about to burst, stared at the table in an attempt to avoid eye contact with Draco or Hermione. Harry looked resignedly at Draco. Hermione smiled as she saw from the corner of her eye that Fleur was hovering in the doorway, watching the exchange with an uncharacteristically impish face. She finally returned her look to Malfoy. He was sat back in his chair at the table, looking as though he was battling sleep in a particularly boring History of Magic lesson. Realizing that he was expected to speak, he cleared his throat, rolled his eyes, and with a quick glance at Hermione before speaking, he started.
"I guess I haven't anything to lose. It's not like I'll be leaving here anytime soon, as much as I'd jump at the chance to get away from you barmy fools. The world's gone to shite. I was initiated into The Dark Lord's circle late in the summer before my sixth year at school. I was sixteen when I got branded with the Dark Mark at Borgin and Burkes. I suppose it must have hurt, but at the time I was so eager to be a part of the group that my father had given his lifelong support to that I didn't notice. Shortly after I was initiated, The Dark Lord spared no time in making a mockery of my family because of my father's failure to retrieve the prophecy, which I'm sure you all know about at this point, at the end of our fifth year. He commanded me to kill Dumbledore. If I didn't, he promised that he'd kill my entire family while I watched, and then kill me too…"
Hermione winced as Draco told the story of his sixth year's trials and tribulations. She, Ron and Harry had already a general idea of what he was going to say, but it was awful to hear and verify it. He continued on drearily; covering the night at Hogwarts that had changed everything, through Fenrir Greyback's attack on Bill Weasley, and through the Death Eaters' takeover of the Ministry of Magic. He spoke with an enormous level of detail, as though every part of this ordeal had been so scarring that he'd been reliving it constantly since. Her heart couldn't help but hurt at imagining what he'd been through. She wasn't sure how long she'd been lost in her pity for Draco, but when she returned to the present he'd already reached the penultimate part of his tale.
"…the Carrows and Snape at Hogwarts, and we all met at the Malfoy Manor whenever called by the Dark Lord. At this point we'd completely infiltrated the Ministry, controlled Hogwarts, and had almost complete reign over the media- "
"Not the Quibbler!" Luna interrupted, smiling dreamily at the Slytherin boy, who glared at her before continuing.
"-Not the Quibbler. Probably because no one reads that rubbish. We learned that Potter would be moved from his house to a safe house. We then coordinated an attack, in attempt to capture Potter, which admittedly went rather horribly. Still, we turned the entire wizarding world against Potter and Mudbl- I suppose you'll want me to call them Muggle-borns. The Muggle-Born Registration Commission was a particularly brilliant idea of Thicknesse's. They must be arresting hundreds of them a day. The amount of them in Azkaban right now is unbelievable. It wasn't long before you lot were snatched up and delivered to us," he said, motioning at the golden trio, "by Greyback, of all people. Fenrir is as thick as Crabbe and Goyle, by the way. You daft idiots could've evaded him. Now that I'm thinking of it, your disguise was pathetic, Potter. Anyway, I had a fleeting moment of madness and didn't identify you as soon as I should've, and that lead to my father's.. m-my f-father's d-"
"I think that about sums it up." Hermione interjected, noticing Draco's growing uncomfortableness and saving him from having to describe Lucius' demise. Ending the story here, in a happy coincidence, left out the few confusing days at the manor that they had spent together. Draco shot her a thankful glance.
"We'd already guessed at all that, but I suppose that your information wouldn't have been that quickly given up if you were truly committed to Voldemort's plans." Harry said, with a shrug. Draco's eyes flamed at the use of The Dark Lord's name.
"Honestly, how dim are you, Potter? Haven't you realized by now that he's tracking people when they say his name? I don't know how you've made it this far, you and Ron, Granger must've used her mudblood brain to save you so many times-"
"Enough, Draco.." Hermione warned sternly, "I'd guessed as much about the name. Harry is just exceedingly stubborn. He'll stop using it. Harry is right though- you aren't fully committed to that cause. It's plain to see. We can continue to work together to defeat him, I hope."
"All of this cooperation doesn't mean we have to give the fowl git the time of day. I say we dig a big hole out back and bury him ali-"
"RONALD." Hermione yelled authoritatively. Ron shut his mouth and turned an even deeper shade of red.
Bill Weasley stirred and stretched in his seat and nodded, "Cheers, Draco, there was quite a bit of new information in there that we didn't know."
"It's almost dusk." Luna had risen and was gazing happily out the window, as if she hadn't a care in the world.
"Yes eet is late, 'Ermione Luna and I will prepare 'ze dinner." Fleur chimed in her horrible French accent. She was standing behind Bill, resting on his shoulders with her arms. Hermione nodded. It was probably for the best. Harry and Ron clearly needed to unwind, and Draco looked as though he was suffering through some incredible inner conflict. "You all need to get out of 'ere and rest."
No sooner had Fleur finished speaking than Ron's chair screeched backwards and he stormed out of the cottage door, followed quickly by Harry. Bill cleared his throat and whispered in Fleur's ear something inaudible that brought an overly-dramatic giggle from her mouth. He brushed her neck with his lips and retreated upstairs, towards their make-shift study. Hermione assumed he'd gone upstairs to try and contact the rest of the Order. Draco, too, got up hastily and walked outdoors. Hermione watched through the door as he sat moodily down on a hill of sand, and stared out at the ocean. She was tempted to run after him, but her mind stopped her.
He wants to be alone. He needs time. He needs to think about what he's just done. Don't run after him like a pathetic school-girl following the teacher she's been lusting after for months. Wait, what? I don't have a crush on Draco Malfoy.
Hermione's cheeks turned a pale shade of pink as she wrestled with her inner thoughts. Choosing not to confront the feelings brewing inside of her, she joined Fleur and Luna in the kitchen, where they were chopping vegetables for what seemed like a stew.
"I 'ope zey will not be too disapointeed wiz' a veggie stew. The French, you know, we are used to eating fine cuisine.. normally I would never settle for 'zis, eet is 'orrib-"
"I quite love simple food, actually, I find that overly done meals tend to attract Nargles. Hermione, you look pink, are you worried that Harry and Ron will find out that you like Draco Malfoy?" Luna interrupted Fleur. Her simple-yet-loaded question rang out and Hermione dropped her knife and the potato she'd been peeling. She turned to Luna with wide eyes. She was about to speak, when Fleur chimed in with her thoughts.
"Of course 'ze Weasley boy is mad, he yells at me for 'aving a grandmuzzer who is a Veela. I think he is scared that 'ze Malfoy one is more appealing 'zen he is to you. Of course 'zat is an obvious thing. Draco is far more 'andsome than he is. I don't blame you, 'Ermione. If Bill didn't exist, I would-"
"Are you two mad?!" Hermione shrieked, hastily looking through the window to make sure Draco hadn't turned his head or shown signs of listening. "How can you suggest that I think of a DEATH EATER in any way other than disgust?! HE IS ON VOLDEMORT'S SIDE!" She tossed the potatoes that she'd been working on haphazardly into the pot on the stove, inducing a huge splash of scalding water that hit an unsuspecting Fleur on the arm. Hermione smiled apologetically, and as she felt her neck growing pink in embarrassment, and her hands start to shake with nervousness, she pounced out of the kitchen and upstairs to the girls' bedroom. Lowering herself onto a bed, she laid back and stared at the ceiling, lacing her hands together underneath her mane of curly hair.
Is the way I treat Draco really that obvious? How do I treat Draco? I know that I don't have feelings for Draco of any sort. HE HIT ME. HIS FAMILY TORTURED ME. It must have been some kind of insane Stockholm-syndrome reaction that led me to lay next to him that night. That led me to kiss his vile lips back. He hates my best friends, and they return the revulsion enthusiastically. Why did I bring him here? Why did I save him? Why am I sympathizing with him instead of with Harry and Ron?
She mulled over the same questions she'd been asking herself all day, dreading the moment that dinner would be completed and everyone would reunite again. As she lay there in silence, she could swear she heard Luna and Fleur muttering between themselves and giggling knowingly while they finished preparing the food.