"Call me Hermione, eh?" was Hermione's suggestion.
At this, Draco let out an incredulous laugh. "I think I'll stick to Granger", he stated plainly.
"Weren't you trying to make amends just a few seconds ago?"
"Not at all", answered Draco. "That was my way of trying to make sure that we don't kill each other over the next few weeks. I don't think it'll be helpful to the cause if the two of us are dead and lying in coffins."
"I really don't get you", murmured Hermione, her eyebrows furrowing together. "Isn't that the same as making amends?"
"You see, Granger, for quite a smart person, it's awfully difficult for things to get into that thick skull of yours", he said as an explanation. "We've always had our fights but they've never been that bad, have they? I mean, I detested the time you slapped me, the time when you fed me Amortenia in favour of Pansy and uh-"
"The list goes on", finished Hermione. "Just get on with what you're trying to say. I really want to head back inside and get a bite to eat."
"Sure, sure. Now, to the main point at hand: as Malfoy and Granger, we're alright. We have our routine, our pranks, arguments and everything and by that I really do mean 'everything' is in the safe zone."
"Safe zone? Care to elaborate on that?"
"I'm getting there", huffed Draco. "Have a little patience, woman. Now, as Malfoy and Granger, we know what to do and how to act... whereas when it comes to Draco and Hermione, we really aren't anything and in all honesty, I don't think we should become anything and how that happens in the future... I really don't know."
"You're talking rubbish, Malfoy", a smile of amusement appeared on Hermione's face. "Absolute rubbish."
Draco threw his hands up in frustration. "In these trying times, I'd like to have an ounce of normalcy if you don't mind. Everything's on the brink of change as it is and there are some things that are in our hands and I'd like them to say that way, if only for my own personal well-being. You may not understand the dynamics of this but ugh, it's crystal to me and I'd bloody appreciate it if you go along with this, Granger."
"Good", replied Draco in satisfaction. "Oh and remember this, this is the first and last time I'll ask you to do something for me in polite tones."
Hermione entered Grimmauld Place out of breath and with a worried expression on her face. Making a dash towards the dining room turned meeting room, she burst open the door an entered. "Is everything okay?" she asked, frantically looking around the room. "What happened?"
"Everything's alright", answered Harry almost guiltily. Suddenly he wished that he didn't caused his friend to drop everything and come to his house as soon as possible; it looked as though she'd just popped out of the bathroom, having taken a shower. "Uh, sorry for the short notice."
"It's fine", the witch brushed it off. "Really. Now tell me what happened."
"Malfoy will be here soon", added Harry, taking a seat at the end of the long table. "I'll explain once he's here"
Foot steps could distinctly be heard from down the hall and a moment later, a sullen Draco entered, with Scorpius by his side."I got your message Potter. I brought the Versitauem from Snape", he said. "Now what is that we're doing this fine afternoon?"
Harry nodded, ignoring the sarcasm in the other man's tone. "Alright then, here we go. Last night, I had vision or whatever it was, in which a cloaked man was making a dealing with Burke in Knocturn Alley. I told Ginny that I'd been called to work and I had to go. Using my father's invisibility cloak, I arrived there without anyone noticing me."
"Isn't this what Weasley's family specifically told you not to do?" Draco's voice rose drastically. "I thought we were in this together, Potter. All of us. How can this be classified as teamwork when you single handedly went to deal with a situation that could have been dangerous? Were the rest of us dead last night? Or do you, O glorious Chosen One, think that we're not capable enough?"
Scorpius stepped in. "It's started", he muttered almost to himself. "The timing's off but then again..." his voice trailed off, leaving room for discussion.
Hermione turned to her best friend. Slapping the back of his shoulder, she glared at him. "This isn't the time to act like a hero, Harry. Trust me when I say that it'll get you killed. Like Malfoy said, we are a team and whether you like it or not, you're obligated to keep us in the loop."
"Who was it?" asked Scorpius. "Who?"
"By the time I reached Burke's shop, the cloaked man was leaving. Following him, I appreh-"
"You apprehended a man in Knocturn Alley?" Hermione looked aghast.
"Not knowing who this was", said Draco angrily, "you attacked him. What if he'd stupefied you or worse? You didn't know anything about this fellow and yet, you ignored all our auror training to proceed with an attack! In case you haven't forgotten, rule number one is 'Think before you attack'."
Harry shook his head. "It had to be done", he said defensively.
"Who was it?" shouted Scorpius, forcing all the adults to focus their attention on him.
"Flint", said Harry dryly. "Marcus Flint."
"I disarmed him and brought him here but he hasn't said a single word", said Harry. "I didn't know where else to take him and... er, Ginny isn't pleased. In fact, shedding light on the incident where Flint tried assaulting her a few years prior, she was quite upset, so upset that she packed a bag, grabbed James and head over to her parents' for the night."
The group of four exited the room and made their way to up the stairs, following Harry as he walked down the hall. When he stopped in front of a room, recognition flashed in Scorpius and Hermione's eyes. "Regulus's room?" asked Scorpius.
"There was no other option and besides that, the only other room not in use is Sirius's and….I Just couldn't go in there", answered Harry, his heart clenching at the memory of how his godfather had been brutally murdered by some rebel death eaters, almost six years back. The memory pained him immensely and although he'd initially been wary of his father's closest friend's intentions after being released from prison, Harry came to learn that Sirius was indeed an innocent man suffering punishment for a crime that he hadn't done (or couldn't even think of doing for that matter)
As soon as Harry had snatched Scabbers from Ron's possession, he had hurtled over to Dumbledore and within days, Sirius Black's name had been cleared and Peter had had the Dementor's Kiss performed on him.
Brushing his thoughts to one side, Harry really didn't want to think of his trying relationship with Sirius, how they evolved in their relationship, how they progressed from a stage of unbearable awkwardness and snide remarks from people to become two people who were as close as possibly could be. In fact, Harry'd often thought that Sirius viewed him as a sort of replacement for his father, James.
Feeling as though a scalding hot brick had been shoved down his throat, Harry paused outside the door, wishing the worst on those unknown people who had killed his pseudo father figure.
"Malfoy, you blood traitor, you're a part of this too?" shouted Marcus Flint, his face contorting with rage. "How dare you? We were friends, weren't we? You owe me!"
"You don't know what you're talking about, Flint. You and I were never friends. You were just a deceitful little git who happened to be the captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team", replied Draco, his stance defensive as he wanted to aim a kick in the direction of his ex-Quidditch team captain.
"Is this how you're going to treat me? I haven't done anything", insisted Flint. "You're holding me here for nothing." Then he noticed the presence of another person, that person being Hermione (Scorpius had stayed outside on his future mother's orders as she believed it would be better if Flint didn't get wind of who he was). "Oh, your Mud-blood whore is with you too? I've heard so much about her and now that I'm seeing her in person, I think she'd be fully worth getting my dick dirty in someone... so filthy."
"I'd suggest that you shut the mouth of yours", said Draco, his voice low but filled with unmasked fury. "If you say another word against her, if you insult her again, if you do or say anything that I deem to be inappropriate, I will have you lying dead on Potter's floor." He took a few steps closer to Flint, his shoe stepping on the bulky man's leg as he came face to face with the prat. Within seconds, Draco had his wand out and placed on the tip of Flint's nose. "You really shouldn't try to cross me... You don't know me, Marcus and you certainly aren't aware of what I can do."
"Lower your wand Malfoy", commanded Harry, while Hermione removed the small vial of Versitaeum from Draco's grasp. "Leave this room right now."
Draco had no inclination at all to leave as he wanted nothing more than to stay to make sure Flint behaved himself. For some unfathomable reason, he wasn't concerned with what Flint might have to say under the influence of the truth potion but in fact, with Hermione's safety. He mentally wanted to punch himself for thinking that way, for wanting to protect her from the piece of filth that was tied up in the corner but he convinced himself that he was doing it because his mother had taught him to respect and defend women.
As true as it was, there was something different when it came to Granger.
She just wasn't some woman; she was his constant supply of amusement, wasn't she? As much as she annoyed him and challenged him and often made him think that she'd be the reason why he got his first grey hair, he didn't hate her or want her to be disgraced by the likes of Flint. What perturbed him even more was that his fist ached to make contact with Flint's face for the mere usage of the derogative word that he, Draco, had used for her on numerous occasions in the past.
TInstead of arguing with the Boy-Who-Lived, Draco walked out of the room, slamming the door as loudly as possible and heading over the where Scorpius was seating on the stairs.
Twenty five minutes later, Hermione walked out with an unreadable face."Hello", she said quietly, not wanting to make eye-contact with Draco. It was just so strange how he'd been acting and she really didn't want to speak to him on that matter because... it wasn't of importance, was it?
"You done in there?" Draco and Scorpius both got to their feet.
"Not yet", replied Hermione, looking over her shoulder. "Harry just asked me to keep you updated."
"What did he say?" questioned Scorpius, awaiting to be told about something that he was ninety-nine percent sure he already knew.
Just as Hermione was about to reply, Harry came to them.
"What's wrong?" asked Draco in alarm, taking in the Chosen One's pale face.
"The Ministry's ball", was the raven-haired man's answer. "Flint just confessed that he's joined the death eaters. They're back and planning to strike there first. Voldemort's back."
"Told you", said Scorpius, "really should have listened to me when I said that they were going to start work from the ball."
"We can't cancel this, can we?" Harry thought this over- the idea seemed to appeal him. "If I spoke to Kingsley-:
"No", answered the other three.
"Not at all", said Hermione, "we can't do that."
"This is our chance", said Draco, a small smirk appearing on his face. "They don't know that we're aware of their plans and this knowledge gives us an advantage to fight back. We'll just have to be careful."
"Really careful", echoed Scorpius.
"We'll be prepared", added Hermione."We'll pretend we don't know anything. We'll go listen to speeches, dance, dine and be ready for whatever they throw at us."
Ginny couldn't believe what she was hearing. They were going to a ball where there was a huge chance that the love of her life could be rushed back home with her parents to find Harry making plans with her brothers and friends. They were all dividing in to pairs and were going to be attending the event.
"Look I know that all of you were looking forward for a chance to enjoy the night", said Harry apologetically. "I'm also sure that all of you might have dates but I have to do this. I'm dividing you in to pairs that I think will be strategically best. Please bear with me, listen to what I have to say and don't make a fuss."
"Potter, any idea when Lupin and his family are returning from their trip?" asked Blaise, looking around the room, hoping to see the face of the werewolf and his auror wife.
"What about Dumbledore and Snape? When are they coming back from wherever they are off to?" added Lee Jordan, referring to the fact the two professors had gone AWOL.
Remus and Nymphadora Lupin, along with their two year old son, Teddy had been sent to the United States of America on Dumbledore's commands. Dumbledore had urged an older member of the original Order to go to the U.S and gather support from the American Wizard Community.
Lupin was the only one who fitted that category and he'd readily agreed to drop everything to go abroad and although it hadn't been long since he'd been gone, no one knew his exact whereabouts because they had not received a single owl from them referring to the Lupin family's current location.
Unlike Remus, Dumbledore constantly kept in touch with Harry, but he too, didn't reveal where he was and what he was doing.
"I wish I knew", said Harry dejectedly. "It would make a hell of a difference if we have them with us."
Harry shook his head and then said,"Okay then. Here are our pairs: Lavender and Blaise, Padma and Seamus, Neville and Luna, Fred and Angelina, George and Katie, Molly and Arthur, Pansy and Ron. Ginny will be with me. As Audrey is sick and isn't coming, Percy, I want you to keep guard with Bill as Fleur won't be going as well."
Audrey was Percy's girlfriend.
"Stop 'Arry!", interrupted Fleur in her French accented English."What do you mean; I can't be with Bill? Of course, I am going with him. I am 'is wife!"
"No, Fleur, you aren't going", said Bill, " and that isn't Harry's decision. It's mine. You're staying home. You're eight months pregnant and it isn't safe for you to be around in case things get dangerous. You don't want anything to happen to our baby do you? Or for me to get hurt while trying to protect you? Just stay at Percy's place with Aud. You can help her get well and be safe at the same."
The part Veela opened her mouth to put up a fight but was silenced when her husband passed her a look.
Harry nodded at Fleur and continued. "Lee and Hannah, Dean and Penelope. Well, that's about everyone. Oh. I almost forgot, Hermione and Malfoy, you'll have to be together as well."
"What?" yelled Ron.
"You can't be serious Potter", complained Draco.
"But Harry….", whined Hermione.
"Have you lost your mind Harry?" exclaimed Ron. "HERMIONE AND MALFOY! What will people think?"
"I don't care what people think," replied Harry coolly. "I had to make pairs and no one gets to change them. Remember to act natural throughout the evening and don't let it slip that you're on the look out for a disturbance but please keep a close eye on things. In Moody's words: maintain constant vigilance. Meeting adjourned."
A couple of hours later:
"I don't understand why I have to go to Hogsmeade with you", grumbled Draco.
"Stop complaining", said Hermione, walking up head, with Draco right behind her at a slower pace though. "Harry wanted us to be here today because he wanted someone to supervise the village while the students from Hogwarts are out here. Today is their Hogsmeade Trip and since Dumbledore isn't around to keep an eye on things, it's our duty to follow Harry's instructions."
"We've been patrolling the streets for almost 3 hours now", stated Draco, wanting to wring Potter's neck for the duties that he'd bestowed on them, as well as for the pairings he'd made for the ball. Oh and it was pointless to forget the Chosen One's single man action the previous night. All in all, the blonde was unbelievably bitter with Harry. " Let's take a break." He pointed towards The Three Broomsticks. "We can sit in the bar and monitor things from the glass window."
Hermione took a glance around the village. Everything seems alright, she thought to herself. "Alright", she conceded. "I could really use a Butterbeer." Or something stronger like Firewhiskey.
Walking over to the bar, Draco ordered a drink for himself while the brunette witch by his side pounded her head against the counter. "I'm so tired", she said to herself.
Hermione took a large swig of her drink, taking a sigh and internally cursing Harry for pairing her up with Draco.
Zacharias Smith, a former Hufflepuff, walked in to the bar and could not believe what he was seeing. His eyes widened as he locked sight on Gryffindor's golden girl, Hermione Granger who happened to be seated by her arch-enemy, Draco Malfoy. As uncomfortable and tired as the duo looked, Zacharias couldn't help but wonder why his ex-girlfriend was with the Slytherin.
Walking over to them, he tapped Hermione on her shoulder and smiled. "Hermione, love, it's been such a long time since I last saw you", he greeted warmly
"Oh my goodness, Zach!" exclaimed Hermione, her frown instantly being replaced by a small grin. "What are you doing here? I thought you were in Australia."
Having dated the Hufflepuff during her days at school, Hermione was glad to see him. Sure, they'd ended things when he accepted an internship at the Australian Ministry of Magic, but that didn't mean they weren't on speaking terms. They'd dated throughout sixth and seventh year, quickly becoming a solid couple and for a certain period of time, Hermione had been sure that Zach was the one for her. After all, they'd shared so much together but as they left Hogwarts, things changed.
Their relationship changed and both knew that they wouldn't be able to survive over a long distance so they chose to end things on amicable terms. It hurt to finish things, Hermione remembered with a pang, but ultimately it was for the best, wasn't it?
"I just got here last night", he replied, moving closer to get a better look at his ex. " And right on time for the ball too."
"That's fantastic", Hermione said. "I'm honestly glad to see you."
Meanwhile, Draco watched the exchange with disinterest. Hermione seemed so lively and friendly with Zacharias Smith. The infuriating witch hadn't said a single word to him in the last twenty minutes, and now, here she was, happily chatting away with Smith but then again, hadn't the two been intimate in their teen years?
He couldn't recall.
"I have an amazing surprise for you lot", said Zach, throwing a wink in Hermione's direction. "Anyway, love, who's the lucky man who has the honour of taking you to this fancy Ministry gala?"
"Uh, Zach", said Hermione. "I'm going with Draco here." She gestured towards her companion.
"Oh", said the Hufflepuff blankly. Whoa, so much had changed in his absence. "Wow. That's- that's nice, I suppose. Well, I gotta make a move seeing as I'm getting late for something. I'll catch you later, is that okay?"
Zach nodded towards Draco and gave Hermione a tight hug. With that, he made his exit with a signature wave.
Draco lay sprawled across the bed in his flat, reading the evening addition of the Prophet. It was finally the evening of the ball and he was on edge; he was filled with worry as to what would happen and how it'd happen. Sipping his wine, he threw his head back against a pillow and tossed the newspaper to the floor.
Bracing himself for an eventful evening ahead, he placed his liquid on the side-table and decided to get changed. It was already six and he planned to leave at six thirty so that he could stop by at Granger's in order to get her.
Suddenly he could hear someone knock at the door which made him head it.
Surprised to see a teary Pansy, he held the door open for her to come in.
"Pans", he asked gently."Are you alright?"
"I went to my parents' today", she cried, throwing herself at Draco.
"What happened?" asked the blonde, awkwardly patting the witch's back.
"I told them that it's high time for them to accept my husband", she cried. "I want them to know their grandson. I want them to be a part of my life again and shit, Mum didn't even look at me. Daddy told me to leave Ron. He told me to grab my child, divorce my husband and come back home! That was his condition. Oh Merlin, it's been years now. I thought they'd changed their minds but-"
"I'm so sorry, Pansy", said Draco, holding her in an embrace. "You'll be fine. I know it hurts you and no matter what happens, you'll miss them but you're okay. You're happy with Ron, Hugo and the rest of the Weasels."
Pansy moved away from her fellow Slytherin."Look at me, Draco", she said shakily. "Look at what I've become. I'm crying. I've never cried in front of someone before and now I'm breaking into pieces."
"You aren't crying in front of someone", said Draco. "I thought you consider Blaise and me as your brothers. We're here for you no matter what matter, Pans."
"I know Draco. I know", came the young woman's reply. "But it hurts so so much. Instead of my own mother, Molly Weasley planned my wedding. Instead of Daddy, you walked me down the aisle and it just hurts so much."
"You, me and Blaise, we're a family", Draco's voice was fierce. "As sappy as it sounds, the three of us are a family. We always have been and always will be."
Pansy wiped away her tears and attempted to smile."Thank you Draco", she said. "You have no idea how much this means to me. Thank you."
Draco handed Pansy a glass filled with water. Handing it to her, he said, "I know what you're thinking and just so you know, you made the right choice. Even if Ron Weasely isn't my most favourite person, I'm glad that you have someone who loves you. Like truly loves you."
Fixing his bow-tie, Draco rapped his knuckles against Hermione's door a few times. "Granger!" he called out. "It's been fifteen minutes. Get your ass out here already."
The door jerked open and Draco's breath hitched and he felt taken a back. What sorcery is this? he thought, shaking his head.
Is anyone up for being my beta-reader? If you are, lemme know.