A/N - This follows the Half Blood Prince and follows most of the essential story lines with the story weaved around it to some extent. For the principle of the story I've made it that sixth years could rise to Head Boy and Girl. It's unrealistic but allow me artistic license if you can. Reviews are love.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing of Harry Potter, never have, never will, and profit absolutely nothing from this story (I'm beyond broke, believe me and this is actually escapism from that fact) J.K Rowling is my idol and a genius. And I will always be grateful to her for giving the world Harry Potter.
Draco straightened his collar and inspected himself in the full length mirror. Dressed in his black suit, he would look, to most, as if he were about to attend a funeral. In a sense he was, because over the course of the summer break, his childhood was well and truly laid to rest.
It had finally happened. He had been summoned before the Dark Lord two weeks ago. They had met at a secret location, which was where Draco saw with his own eyes for the very first time, the figure that had changed the very fabrics of the magical world forever. His snake-like appearance was something that Draco had never seen; with his red eyes, the vacancy of a nose and not a hair on his body. His limbs went heavy and he felt incapable of moving. It was as though he had become paralyzed through terror.
His aunt Bellatrix and mother Narcissa were there to witness the ceremony where Voldemort announced that Draco would be a reciprocate of the Dark Mark. He announced to his followers, whom the room was full of, that Draco would receive his badge, only when he had completed an important task to prove his worth to the cause...
Draco shut his eyes as the thought of what Voldemort had requested of him came back to him. He could still hear the words ringing in his ears as if he were back there in front of the terrifying, all-powerful wizard.
Opening his eyes again, he looked at himself. He'd changed physically over the summer too. His grey-blue eyes were bright and his facial features had softened. He no longer looked pointy in his features, just defined in his cheekbones. His shoulders had broadened and his body looked like that of a man, with his defined muscles in his arms and toned chest. Draco had always been secretly self-conscious of his looks. Years of being called Ferret Boy by Potter and Weasly had left more of a mark on him than he'd like to admit. However at this moment in time, he honestly didn't care if he looked like a model or an animal. It all seemed rather trivial now.
The Malfoy manor was empty of a kind of bright colour or light. It was as though it was void of any sort of warmth, which was appropriate, for he had never honestly felt the warmth that should come from a family home in the Manor. It was a symbol of their status in the wizarding world: regal, aristocratic, cold. It was bathed in green, blue and grey. It seemed that happy colours were undignified. Happiness was undignified.
Draco didn't have to put up with the lack of any kind of warmth for long though. Next weekend, he would return to Hogwarts for his sixth year and to put his mission into action. He inhaled deeply.
He grew tired of taking in his reflection and turned away, sitting himself down in the armchair opposite the fireplace. He pointed his wand at the fireplace and flames sprung up from the logs. His bedroom was eliminated with a warm glow which was had been desperately lacking in the manor.
Above the fireplace, was a portrait of Draco, Lucius and Narcissa. It had been painted when he had been eleven and just about to enter Hogwarts. He chuckled at the image of his eleven-year-old self. He had been slightly chubby and with his white blond hair gelled back. He looked so cocky and proud of himself. He remembered that day when they had it painted. He was dressed in his best and felt like such a grown-up. It was rather laughable now. His mother had changed a great deal too. In the portrait, she looked a lot like him: self-assured and happy. He very rarely saw that in her now. She was a lot thinner now and the spark from her eyes was gone.
His eyes then looked into the face of his father. His father had not changed at all. The last time he had seen him, he was still the cruel, cold man in the portrait. Unfeeling and unemotional. Whether this was still the case he highly doubted. The last time he had seen his father was at his trial. He had been given life in Azkaban for his crimes with the death eaters. He had turned to look at his wife and son before he was led away. There was no remorse or shame. Just stone-cold blue eyes staring back at Draco.
Narcissa and Draco never said it aloud, but they both knew what the other was thinking. Now with Lucius gone, they could lead something of a normal life. Sadly Voldemort and Bellatrix had other ideas.
He looked from the portrait back to the mirror. He loathed how much like his father he looked. People automatically assumed they were exactly alike in every way. Draco could be cruel, even he knew that, but he wasn't completely evil. He would like to think he took after his mother a lot more than his father.
He sunk back into the seat. For, no matter what he would like to think, by this time next year he would be like his father in more ways than he could imagine.
He fished into his jacket pocket and pulled out the letter he had received about two weeks ago. It was from Dumbledore telling him, with great delight apparently, that he had been selected for Head Boy. It was a great honour and testiment to his grades that he should be selected as normally seventh years were selected for the duty, according to McGonagall. Draco looked at the writing on the parchment before crumpling it up and tossing it onto the flames of the fire, watching as it dissolved and turned to ash.
Hermione sat herself down at the kitchen table with her cup of tea and sighed. She had been at The Burrow now for nearly two weeks and, adore Mrs. Weasley like she did for a kinder woman she couldn't wish to meet, she couldn't help but feel rather eager to make a move back to Hogwarts. The Burrow seemed to be more claustrophobic than she had previously remembered and noisier from the sounds of Mrs. Weasley constantly cleaning or shouting at one of her offsprings, George and Fred experimenting on their latest creation around the house (and the subsequent explosion that never failed to follow) and the ever constant sexual tension of Ginny and Harry eyeing each other up across the breakfast table before promptly looking away again. It had been sweet and endearing at first, but now it was starting to put her off her toast and frustrating her beyond belief.
This was Hermione's favourite time in The Burrow. Night time. Everyone had been fast asleep for hours and now it was safe to sit in the kitchen and listen to the sound of stillness in the house.
So much would be happening when she returned to Hogwarts. She had received a letter via owl post that confirmed what Harry and Ron had already predicted months ago despite her protests that it was impossible: she was the new Head Girl of Hogwarts. She smiled just thinking about it. It was such a massive honour to be selected a year earlier and she had even gotten a little emotional. Head girl was one of such wonderful perks and responsible duties. Only the most intelligent students receive such honours, which made Ron and Harry wonder why she was so shocked as she had been top of the class for five consecutive years! Apparently because she'd been selected for the fact her grades beat all the girls in seventh year meant the Head Boy was sixth year too, though she would have to wait until she got back to find out who it was.
Hermione felt so much more adult this year. She felt like she was a woman at last, instead of just a young girl. The changes in her body may have had something to do with that of course. Although still slim, she had developed curves. Her hips looked more curvatious and her breasts were at least a cup size bigger. She'd noticed to her amusement that Harry and Ron had noticed too and sometimes had trouble keeping their eyes from slipping downwards when talking to her. She kept to her baggy clothes nonetheless. She didn't like flaunting her body.
Her trunk was packed and she was ready to take on her new duties. Along with becoming Head Girl, she was also going to become a student of Madame Pomfrey's. She had long been interested in medical witchcraft and, although being able to cast a few healing spells for the odd cut and bruise, she was interested in trying more advanced magic. Years of hanging round Ron and Harry had meant numerous trips to the hospital wing and it would just save time if she could perhaps treat injuries herself. Also now that Voldemort was back, she felt that a nurse in the Order wouldn't exactly hurt the cause.
Dumbledore was less willing to catch on to this idea. Although he admired her ambition, he had wrote to her shortly after receiving her request. Wouldn't this, on top of her new Head duties, be a little over-whelming? Hermione wrote back immediately stating that she thrived on having a full schedule and, if she should be a little late with her tasks, that was what the time-turner was for. Eventually, Dumbledore admitted defeat and informed Madame Pomfrey she would be receiving a new student very shortly.
Hermione drank down the last of her tea and started to climb the stairs back to the room she shared with Ginny. Hard times were ahead so she may as well be well-rested in order to face them.
The red steam engine stood proudly in the station of Platform 9 and 3/4 as the students of Hogwarts hurriedly unloaded their trunks and animals onto the train. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny had been a little late arriving at King's Cross due to Mr. Weasley's insistence on driving them in his new Muggle car. He'd bought another one after Harry and Ron crushed his last with the Whomping Willow. Sadly, Mr. Weasley hadn't quite got the hang of driving or the concepts of speed limits or which side of the road to drive on. This caused a lot of swerving to dodge oncoming cars at 60mph in built up areas and Mr. Weasley effectively blowing up a speed camera after it flashed with a flick of his wand. Hermione nearly kissed the concrete when they arrived at the station, grey but in one-piece.
Ginny, Mrs. Weasley and Ron all hopped out of the car, oblivious.
"That was fun. We should drive more often." Ron had smiled, without a trace of irony.
Harry held onto Hermione's shoulder to steady himself. He was feeling a little queasy. "Remind me never to accept a ride in a car with Mr. Weasley again."
"Agreed." Hermione answered, swaying slightly.
The heavy trunks were loaded into the compartments and the four teenagers bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley who, even now after six years at Hogwarts, still struggled to say goodbye. Luckily Fred and George would be home more this year, so that was a mild consolation for Mrs. Weasley, knowing that despite her twin boys being successful business men, due to their variety of pranks making big money now, they would never object to her fussing over them and cooking them one of her enormous dinners. Even at 6''2 each, they both argued that they were still growing boys.
Finally wiggling his way out of his mother's bear hug, Ron joined the other three on the train. Ginny walked towards a group of girls in her year to catch up on all the gossip of the summer. Hermione couldn't help but catch Ginny glancing over her shoulder and holding Harry's gaze for a moment before looking away. Hermione smiled to herself. It was obvious to possibly everyone except Ron that Ginny and Harry had a thing for one another. As of yet though, they'd failed to do more or less anything about it. The girl in her wanted to interfere and bang their heads together and tell them to just get on with it, but her rational side told her it was best to let it take its natural course. She also made a mental note to be well out of the way when it all came out to Ron. As amusing as watching Ron's face turn maroon with rage would be, she didn't particularly want to be in the line of fire.
Sitting herself down in the carriage and placing Crookshanks on the seat next to her (he hated being stuffed in a cage), she took in the two boys in front of her. They'd both changed over the summer too. Harry's scruffy hair was still as unruly as ever but it was cut so it didn't look out of control. His shoulders had broadened considerably so he didn't look quite so skinny anymore and all his practice as the Quiddich seeker seemed to have paid off as his arms and chest had developed some muscle. Ron was considerably broader and stockier. His chest was much larger and his shoulders broader. This may have had something to do with his considerable food habits but either way it suited him. His hair was longer, having refused to let his mother cut it with a kitchen bowl anymore. The summer had been a bit of a strange one for her and Ron. They'd tried to have a relationship after years of tension but despite a few kisses and hand-holding, it just felt too weird for the both. Hermione ended it a week later and despite the hurt that caused Ron, even he had to admit it was just too awkward for them to work. There seemed to be an unspoken deal that they would try again later on in life if their feelings were still there.
Ron looked out at the trolley full of treats passing the compartment and a look of longing was on his face. Giggling, Hermione stood up and walked out to get him a chocolate frog. The man thought with his stomach!
While paying for the treat from the lady with the trolley, she noticed Luna Lovegood wandering down the aisle of the train with a bizarre pair of glasses. She obviously was having a little trouble seeing with them as she was stretching her hand out and feeling her way down the aisle. Hermione stifled a giggle. There was something about Luna that was utterly heart-warming. She had such an innocent, calm, good-natured charm. Yes she was eccentric; in fact eccentric might be a little too mild a word. But she was a sweet girl.
Hermione reached out and picked the glasses off her face. Luna looked unfazed by this.
"Oh, hello Hermione." She said in her serene voice.
"Hi Luna. Um... what are you doing?"
"Looking for fire pixies. They're invisible and fly up your nose, causing your brain to itch."
Hermione just nodded politely. She was so used to this from Luna, she found it easier to play along.
"When does Madame Pomfrey want to see us?" Luna asked.
"Me and you. She's teaching me magic medicine too." Luna answered.
"Oh." Hermione was surprised. She never saw Luna as the medical type. Luna seemed to be able to read her thoughts.
"I don't know much, but I've stopped Neville's nose bleeds a few times and that was fun. So, why not learn the rest."
Hermione felt a little happy. Luna was pleasant company and she had a patient nature that Healers needed. Maybe she would flourish at this.
Suddenly, Crookshanks dashed out of the compartment and passed Hermione and jumped out of the open train door and onto the platform. Hermione immediately shot after him.
"Crookshanks! Come back here now!"
Luna watched her run off and then placed her special glasses back on her face and continued searching for the naughty pixies.
The train hadn't pulled off so Hermione managed to get back onto the platform. Crookshanks was sitting opposite the train, lazily cleaning his fur.
"Crookshanks! Naughty kitty!" Hermione scolded as she picked him back up. Hermione went to turn back and step back onto the train but something caught her attention.
Down the platform, he spotted Draco Malfoy with an older looking woman. She recognized her as his mother Narcissa Malfoy, whom he was standing next to in the newspaper photo when his father was sent to Azkaban. The picture didn't do her justice. Even at a distance and despite having a sixteen year old son, in the flesh she was very beautiful and dressed smartly and elegant. Hermione stood behind a pillar and secretly observed. She had never seen either of Malfoy's parents bid him farewell at the platform.
Narcissa looked like she was struggling to let her son leave, with her hands tightly gripping his upper arms as she looked at him. Hermione saw something in Malfoy's face that she'd never seen before: a softness. He looked at his mother as she said something to him that Hermione couldn't hear and nodded lightly. When she stopped, he gently leant forward and kissed her forehead before turning and quickly getting on the train. Narcissa looked on as her son boarded the train, her eyes shining dangerously with tears before slowly turning away.
Hermione nearly forgot to get on the train herself, so intently was she watching Mrs. Malfoy. The screech of the train powering up shook her from her senses and she quickly dashed on board. She felt confused. She'd just seen Malfoy... vulnerable? It was a sight she never thought she would see and as much as she didn't want to admit her, it had touched her.
Peering into the window of the carriage door, she spotted Draco sitting with his friends looking mindlessly out of the window. He had changed too, it appeared. Her white blond hair was shorter than it had previously been and his fringe rested gently about his eyes. His eyes were still grey blue, almost bordering on silver. He was wearing his black suit. His shoulders looked strong and broad and his arms were well defined. Hermione could deny it till she was blue in the face to Harry and Ron, who would never forgive her for thinking such a thing but she couldn't deny it herself: Draco Malfoy was an extremely handsome man.
Realizing that she was still holding Ron's Chocolate Frog and a rather irritable Crookshanks, she forced herself to look away and walk back towards her compartment where Harry and Ron were waiting.
"You took your time." Harry announced.
"Yes sorry. Crookshanks decided to try to make a run for it." Hermione said, telling herself that wasn't a lie. Simply a half truth. She absent-mindedly handed over the Chocolate Frog to Ron, whose eyes lit up at the sight.
Sitting herself down, she took out her book The Healer's Handbook: Top Tricks to Mend Cuts, Wounds and Curses. She needed to go back over things in preparation for tomorrow.
"For Godric sake, Hermione, put down that book. You've read it back-to-back and you're not even being tested." Harry exclaimed, half chuckling.
"It doesn't hurt to brush up on a few things." Hermione replied not bothering to look up from her book. "Besides I have competition now."
"Competition?" Ron asked, his brow furrowing in confusion.
"Looks like I'm not the only student training to be a healer. Luna's joining me too."
"Luna? Luna Lovegood?" Harry asked in bafflement.
"Yes, that's the one." Hermione replied.
"Oh, Merlin!" Ron exclaimed, "If I break a leg or something, you're looking after me. Knowing her, she'll try summoning leprechauns to kiss it better!"
Hermione couldn't help but chuckle. "Oh, come on now. She might be very talented at treating injuries. Luna may be a little... out there but she'd never deliberately cause anyone any pain."
Harry laughed and looked out of the train window at the countryside they were passing in their travels. Harry didn't want to trouble them with his worries. He felt uneasy, like something was coming or rising. He knew now that Voldemort was loose and public, everything was going to change. It had been splashed all over the papers when the Ministry had finally stopped living in denial. The news that the Dark Lord was rising and Harry Potter was the Chosen One had been splashed on every front page of the newspapers and his life was going to get a whole lot harder as a result. He'd received many looks on the platform and heard the tail ends of whispers as he walked down the aisle of the train. Now people knew what he was, he was in much more danger as he had ever been.
Narcissa paced the dining room of the Manor in a daze. The house was eerily quiet. She was not used to it. There was always Lucius talking about his business with the Ministry or Bellatrix laughing manically or Draco...
Draco. There had always been him. Narcissa shut her eyes to stop them filling. Her child was now nearly seventeen years of age and, yet every time they came face to face, he seemed so much older. She remembered him as a young teenager. He'd always been so cheeky and cunning and clever. He was a little arrogant but Narcissa expected no less. He was a Malfoy after all. But since... the summer, it was almost as if the light had gone out in his eyes. He had barely spoken in the last few days of his holiday. He had just looked at his mother and smiled very weakly.
Narcissa didn't care what the Dark Lord wanted. She didn't care if her husband rotted in jail for the rest of his miserable existence. It wasn't as though it was any kind of marriage. Her son was her greatest achievement.
She remembered the day he was born. Her labour had been long and hard and Lucius wasn't present, finding this sort of stuff down to the woman. She'd never felt pain like it and she honestly didn't know how she would get through it. Desperately wanting the agony to stop, she forced herself to keep pushing and she finally heard a cry. The midwife handed her this little bundle and told her soothingly that she had a son. He was perfect. He was tiny, beautiful and he was hers. She never knew love like it.
Lucius came in, delighted to hear he had a son. An heir to the Malfoy title. He didn't seem preoccupied with the parenting aspect of it. He would leave that down to Narcissa, he had dismissed.
Narcissa walked out of the dining room and up the stairs. She found herself wandering aimlessly before coming to Draco's room. Pushing it open, she looked around at the furniture. His king-size bed stood proudly in the middle, with his leather armchair seated beside the fire. His matching leather desk stood in front of the window overlooking the fields that surrounded the secluded grand house. She sat herself down at his desk and looked out over the landscape. She closed her eyes and preyed with all her soul that the one good thing left in her life would be safe.