Of clockwork and mirrors

Lost, are you?

It's a voice that once reminded her of her friends- once was, once were- but now she finds herself shrinking away. No. Hermione Granger doesn't recede. She whirls and faces him. Glares. Tries no to choke when she sees him. He reminded her of her future.

Blood. Blood, staining his robes and his hands, matted in his hair, oozing from a long gash in his arm. He stretches that very hand out. Hermione. Please.

If Hermione blinks his image will be branded into her eyelids: gold-white hair, dark, shifting eyes, the curve of his throat, the gait of his stance. The soft set of his shoulders, the hard angle of his muscle, the planes of his face. If she squeezes them tightly shut, so hard that it hurts, she can graft a knife in his hand.

"Harry! HARRY!"

And Harry slips away, into a room that Hermione can't access, off this battlefield and hopefully into a pretty place. A castle. That's what Harry Potter deserves. His glasses are askew. She fixes them and stands, tears blurring her vision.

Ron's already gone by now, bled to death. Hermione doesn't fight when she feels arms encircle from her behind. Him.

"Harry's gone," his whispers into her ear. His breath blows on her cheek, warm and familiar. "This is what you did. Your entire fault."

He's pressed up against her, warmth against dwindling heat, like a candle about to whisper out. In her ear is all of her secrets, dirty and throbbing, and she doesn't want them. Doesn't want him. And they are both looking for answers.

"No," she hisses between clenched teeth. "This is because of you."

A hard, brutal laugh. "No- this is a game. Hermione, try as you might, you're not stupid. Neither am I. You knew…took the chances."

Quietly: "You killed her."

A confirmation: "I did."

Not him, not them, but her. Yes- even this is a spawn of something else in their tangled history. It was born…sometime around seventh year- Hermione can't remember the details.

"Head Girl. Yes. I did see this coming." Professor McGonagall looks at her, sounding extremely pleased. Hermione colors with pleasure. "Thank you, thank you," she says. The words tumble out- too fast for her to control, and she doesn't hold them back, doesn't call after them. This, she feels, is an accomplishment. An accomplishment she did see coming, and yet, here it is. Not a surprise, but surely welcome.

The next few words blow Hermione away like Professor is a hurricane.

"And…look at that! Draco is Head Boy…"

Hermione pales. Wait. No. She opens her mouth. "Yes, I did read it correctly, and yes, you are going to get along with him. Hermione, you are a Gryffindor with the brains of Ravenclaw. And you are brave, and you are smart." McGonagall snapped the words out.

She sighed and sank into a chair. "You'll be sharing a dorm with him as well. Not bathrooms, thank heavens, but do try to get along with him. This is an amazing opportunity, and I won't let you throw it away with both hands."

Hermione gathered her parchment and quills, tries not to cry. No. She won't cry. After all, Malfoy isn't that insufferable…

Or so she thought until she headed to her dorm to gather her trunk and save Crookshanks. He streaks out from behind her trunk and nearly assaults her, nearly knocking her down.

"Oi!" Ron thunders at the bottom of the stairs. "Malfoy? Are you bloody kidding?"

"No," snaps Hermione, running through her head to see if there's anything she missed. "You're sharing a dorm with that miserable bastard? Can't you…I don't know…resign?"

"This is a good oppoutunity, Harry. I'm not going to pass it up."

They fall silent for all of three second.

"But, 'Mione, you can't!"

"I can," she says, nearly falling down the stairs with her trunk, "and I will. Oh, why am I doing this? I have a wand. I'm a bloody witch."

The trunk lifts into the air and parades in front of she and Crookshanks, and they watch with open mouths. "Hermione," Ron whines in a last ditch effort. "You can't. He called you a Mudblood!"

"He did and chances are will again. I'm not bothered. I've been waiting for this."

She strides over and climbs out into the hallway. The Fat Lady waves goodbye. She smiles back.

"And you guys will visit me. You will, won't you?"

"Well," says Harry. "Of course."

"Then problem solved. Oh, and Ron, I have a feeling you'll have trouble with Snape's homework- try to do it ahead of time. Harry, you too."

She ignores their barely-suppressed mutters and starts down the empty hallway, ignoring their pleas the whole way.

"Why should I help you?" she says, and is relieved when he shrinks back. The blood is a disconcerting sight, and she wants nothing more then to look away, but no. She won't.

Because at this angle, he can see all the pain- the scars he'd inked onto her skin.

"There's no valid reason."

"Okay, then."

He waits for her to walk away, but she doesn't.

"You have nerve," she spits. "Coming here, and asking for help- it's like you forgot."

Draco looks pained, maybe even a little annoyed (if that's what his eye roll indicates) but then he sighs. "No. No, I didn't forget- couldn't forget. Hermione, I-"

"YOU TOOK HIM!" she suddenly screeches. It's what she's been holding back for the past five years, planned out and held inside, and now it's time has come. There's no stopping it. Thankfully, they're in an alley in a dirty part of London- gritty, where things like this happen all the time. No difference that he's covered in blood and her clothes are tattered and cheeks sunken in.

"You took him! You took him and you tortured him- and you killed her. And-"

"Say their names," Draco says softly. "Say them. It's like you're afraid."

"I'm not afraid. I should be, but I'm not. Get out of my sight." She's irritated. Her speech has been yanked out from under her feet.

She really does turn to go at this point, but he catches her arm. His touch makes her flesh crawl. "Stop. I'll go. Say their names."

"Don't- Don't you dare order me!"

"Say it," and now he's whispering, "say their names. Once."

Something about his voice is alluring and intimate. She opens her mouth.


His voice is amused. "If it isn't Hermione Granger."

"Go polish your nails, Malfoy."

"Shut up, Mudblood." His voice has changed from amused to annoyed in the space of exactly one second. Hermione isn't even shaken: she continues to unpack, sorting her stuff into the appropriate drawers.

"Are you done unpacking already? Do you need help? Is that why you're here?"

"I don't need help. Especially from someone dirty like you." His eyes are alight with spite. "You'd soil all my clothes and then I'd have to burnthem."

"Maybe I should help you."

"I'd be forced to walk naked- ah! Is that why?" He looks at her, slow and hard. Then slowly smiles. "Of course it is."

He's beginning to get under her skin. She focuses on her clothes again, folding.

"Never thought you'd be Head Girl. They usually pick someone pretty. Not with buck teeth."

Hermione doesn't bother to correct, instead a scathing response on her tongue.

"At least my father didn't buy my way in. They usually pick someone intelligent."

In the course of a second Hermione finds herself pressed up against the wall, Malfoy's face inches from her own. "Take that back," he hisses.

She stares at him, anger roiling in her chest. "No."

He stares at her for a few more seconds, then pulls away, grinning.

"Don't talk about my father," he says in what usually is read in an affable tone, if it weren't for the deadly meaning underneath. Try as hard as she doesn't, Hermione shivers. Malfoy catches it and smirks. Then saunters out the door.