A/N: Did you ever wonder what role Malfoy really played in the fight Potter against Voldemort? Being as smart as he is why he never questioned the (well, with hindsight) very stupid teachings of the Dark Lord? Why he didn't just kill Dumbledore and be done with it? Why he refused to identify the three in Malfoy Manor in Deathly Hallows and why he averted Crabbe and Goyle from killing Harry in the Room of Requirements? Did you pay attention to these details while reading the books? I believe Draco Malfoy is not as one-dimensional as he was made out to be. And Hermione is more than a sidekick and brainiac next to Harry. She is in Gryffindor for a reason, isn't she? If she was only the brain of the trio, she would have been in Ravenclaw.

Here is my take on the story behind Harry's story.

It is canon pretty much until shortly after the end of Deathly Hallows. EWE (Epilogue-what epilogue?)

Oh, WARNING: I don't want to offend any sensibilities, so I put it in the M category. There will definitely be stuff for only mature readers in later chapters. But even in the beginning, if you are offended by people being TORTURED and in PAIN and actually BLEEDING from injuries and SWEARING, DON'T READ THIS.

But in any case, let me know what you think.

Let it begin

Disclaimer: You know it, I know it, it's making me depressed, so let's not talk about it. Do I need to say it? Alright, alright: characters do not belong to me, blablabla, JK Rowling and associates, blablabla, only the plot. There, now I'm really depressed. You happy now?

Give me your pain

Chapter 1: Face Off

There they went again. Hermione Granger left the lift in the Ministry of Magic and could see the crowd by the Fountain, surrounding the excitement of the day: Potter and Malfoy facing off. Or Weasley and Malfoy. Again. She could see them from here in the middle of the gaggle, a red head moving, flanked by a dark, almost black head, across from the platinum blond. Other than when they had been at school, the blond head was not flanked anymore.

'When will they ever stop?' she wondered. It was so immature. And ridiculous like a Yo momma contest.

"So, how does it feel to be You-know-who's lap dog, hm?" The entire body of people flinched. Hermione rolled her eyes. Really, now. Wasn't it done and over with? When would he start using the late Dark Wizards name?

"I wouldn't know, Weasley. I was never his lap dog," the blond head responded. You could only sense his intense anger through the way he spoke very quietly and with glass cutting sharpness.

Ron snorted. "Yeah, right."

Harry laid his hand on Ron's arm to hold him back. Malfoy continued.

"I would have liked to see you in my position, Weasel. Would you have stood up to him, if he threatened to torture your mother? Or your sister? And if you had stood up and he killed you, who would have protected your mother then? Or your sister?"

Ron blanched. "Don't you dare talk about my sister. What do you know about family ties?"

Malfoy's anger faltered, and he sounded simply tired; the kind of tiredness that seeps into the bones. "I know enough that I couldn't bear seeing my mother hurt. And I did what was required to prevent that."

By now, Hermione had reached the crowd and made her way through the group of people surrounding the opponents curiously. Some were leaning into the verbal battle, waiting for it to escalate, hoping for a good fight; others were waiting anxiously for more information about the life of a supposed former Death Eater and why he was allowed to walk in their midst and not rot in Azkaban. Hermione's approach was from behind Malfoy, so he couldn't have seen her coming. But even Harry and Ron hadn't noticed her yet, focused as they were on the confrontation. She slowly made her way through the crowd and when she came close to Malfoy's back she squeezed by, passing the persons next to him without hesitation. She just reached out her magical field the tiniest bit, tendrils of energy stroking like fingers over a neck, touching Draco's. She could feel rather than see the shimmer of vibrations gliding over each other, like heat through a window. It felt like a slow stroke down the back with a very brief rest of a hand on the lower back, like a light caress for the fraction of a second. Malfoy's back straightened the tiniest bit for nobody else to see but her; and then he exhaled and she could feel his magic field expanding like fingers intertwining, touching hers. She continued onwards, without hesitation, until she reached Ron's side, indicating her alignment. There, she stopped and turned to face the other side of the stand-off.

"Malfoy" she greeted.

"Granger" he replied with a short jerk of the head.

"What's going on?" she questioned, turning to Harry.

Harry shook his head. "Oh, the usual. It started with him wanting to know where you were, and Ron flying of the handle telling him it was none of his concern; and he gave back saying that you could decide on your own with whom you kept company, and Ron talking back that it certainly wouldn't be a former Death Eater, if he had anything to say about it; and Malfoy saying that he didn't, and so on."

Hermione turned to face Malfoy again, raising her eyebrow in his direction. He stared back and just shrugged to answer her questioning look.

She hrmpfed and shook her head, to keep a smile from her face. Then she raised her hands and voice. "Okay, folks, nothing to see here. Go, wherever you need to go. There is plenty of work to be done. Shoo." She waved her hands in a shooing motion. The curious people groaned and slowly dispersed toward their own areas of work. Even Malfoy had turned with a last look and shrug at her.

Hermione slipped her arm under Harry's and dragged him toward the exits. "Come on, Harry, Ron, I could use a cuppa."

With a queer look and admiration in his voice, Harry questioned: "How did you do that?"

Hermione tried to ignore his question. It would still not do to go into detail about the power she had over Malfoy.

Harry, however, was not to be diverted. Sometimes he was just too sharp. "Hermione?"

"Hm?" Hermione replied distractedly. Harry stopped and pulled her with him to a standstill. She startled and looked up at him: "What?"

Harry's green eyes bored into her. "Answer me!"

She gulped and tried to stall. "Erm, what was the question?" Think, Hermione, quick.

Harry narrowed his eyes. "How come Malfoy listens to you, of all people?"

Hermione faked a nervous laugh. "I don't know, Harry. Maybe because we work together and do it well and he respects my natural authority?" She shrugged and grinned. She felt like a maniac grinning; it tucked on her face.

Harry still scrutinized her, when Ron burst out laughing. "Ha, Hermione, that's a good one."

Hermione put her grin up a notch, until Harry started grinning as well: "You think?"

Hermione chuckled. "How in Merlin's name should I know, why Malfoy all of a sudden starts listening to me?" Harry shrugged but she could see that his laugh had not reached his eyes. "You're right, who knows." His emerald green eyes bored into hers as if to say, I'll let you off this time, but I want a satisfying explanation soon.

"Right." Hermione mentally exhaled in relief. Situation averted for now. Until the next time. Harry was not to be put off much longer. He would have to know what happened to her and Malfoy in sixth year. She took both her friends arms and dragged them toward the stairs. "Okay, can we go get something to eat now? I'm starving, and I still have tons of things to do."

Now both young men seriously laughed. This was the Hermione they knew.

While they left the Ministry in search of a coffee place, the young men filled her in blow by blow, on exactly what Malfoy had said and how they had replied. Hermione listened only with one ear, taking care to chuckle at the appropriate places, while the other half of her brain reflected on the wonder of how her magical field had "stroked" his in such an intimate way and how he had responded and how good it had felt. Who would have thought that they had forged such a connection? Not her. And she was fairly certain that Malfoy had not expected it either.

A/N: Good? Let me know. Cheers

2nd A/N (2/12/12): In light of many well-meaning fellow readers and writers who are telling me that my comments within the text are very annoying, I have started editing my chapters to take them out or to put them at the end of the chapter if I still deem them important. They stem from my initial insecurity as a writer, of course, trying to explain myself, but many are by now resolved.

Please, I am working on it. But between work (crazy) and my never ending creativity that drives me to come up with new snippets of stories that then badger my brain and want out, time to go over my completed monstrum is very limited.

You could help me, if you want to comment on my comments, where exactly you see them. They'll be quicker removed that way.

Thank you for all your feedback. I do appreciate it