A/N: I couldn't let Halloween pass without writing something for it! I actually got halfway through this and then got stuck, but then I woke up with the perfect answer. I love it when that happens.

I hope you guys like the story. Happy Halloween!

~Frosty

7:32pm October 31, 1999

Any party thrown by Luna Scamander nee Lovegood was bound to be a touch strange, but her Halloween parties were known to get downright weird.

There were no traditional Halloween decorations in the room, just vases of what appeared to be cherry jell-o spaced sporadically around the room. Luna claimed they were to repel Umgubular Slashkilters, a dangerous creature attracted to large gatherings of magical people, and no one questioned it further. Luna's oddities were well-known and fit in perfectly with the spirit of the holiday.

There were huge spider webs hanging from the ceilings and stretching across the walls, but Hermione had a feeling that those were always there, probably to keep some sort of imaginary creature at bay.

As an Auror, Hermione worked strange hours and rarely took holidays. She hadn't been expecting to get the day off, but she'd been sent home because of the complete lack of crime. Kingsley himself had come to her office in order to tell her to "go ahead and take the time off, have some fun for once".

Unfortunately, Cormac McLaggen had been there as well, and had overheard that her night was suddenly free. He'd asked her out earlier in the week, and Hermione had declined, citing that she was needed at work. Just so he wouldn't think she was turning him down because he annoyed her (she was), Hermione had expressed her regrets that they wouldn't be able to spend some time getting to know him again after school.

That one small kindness had blown up in her face when Cormac had triumphantly proclaimed that he was about to head off to Luna's party and was still miraculously date-free if she wanted to join him.

Berating herself, Hermione had pasted on a fake smile and agreed.

After rushing home to scavenge for some sort of costume, Hermione had met him back at her office. She reluctantly hooked her arm into McLaggen's waiting elbow and allowed him to Apparate her to the party.

Spotting Harry and Ginny across the room, Hermione had immediately escaped her irritating date and slipped into the crowd to get to her friends.

"Hermione," Ginny said excitedly when she caught sight of the brunette. "I thought you weren't going to be able to make it!"

Without waiting for a response, Ginny tugged on one of the charmed cat ears that made up most of Hermione's costume. She'd quickly thrown on a black dress and drawn some whiskers and a black spot of a nose on her face. Paired with a headband she'd charmed a headband with some fuzzy black ears to complete the costume, she made a passable cat.

In contrast, Ginny's costume was a work of art. She'd somehow managed to make herself look sexy and a realistic spider. Harry had just shoved a pirate hat on top of his head and called it a costume.

"Kingsley let me off work early, and McLaggen overheard, ruining my excuse for not going out with him." Hermione glanced around the room. "Where's Ron and Lavender?"

Ginny grinned evilly. "For some reason, brother dearest can't look at me tonight."

"She was feeling spiteful because Ron let it slip that she was looking fat last month," Harry explained. When he caught sight of the look his wife directed his way, he was quick to reassure her, "You're not fat, you're radiantly pregnant and irresistible."

Hermione snickered while Ginny only looked smug. She'd trained her husband well.

When she caught sight of Cormac on the other side of the room, Hermione quickly ducked behind Harry. "Did he see me?" she whispered fearfully. Suddenly, nothing seemed more important than avoiding her date. The man was so hands-y she was sometimes surprised that he only had two of them, and she knew that from working with him, she'd hate to see what he was like on an actual date.

"I think you're safe," Harry said, amused.

At first, Hermione thought the large baron owl swooping into the room on eerily silent wings was part of the decorations, but it swooped onto the ground at her feet and held out a leg to her, revealing a message. It looked at her expectantly until she bent down and untied the piece of parchment from its outstretched limb.

It was with a sigh of relief that she read the first few lines. "I have to go, work calls," she said with a smile. A smile that dropped off of her face as she got to the end of the message. "It seems there's been a distress call from Malfoy Manor."

Harry and Ginny looked concerned, but didn't voice any of them, knowing Hermione was capable of taking care of herself.

"Tell Cormac and Luna I got called away?" Hermione asked them, turning on the spot.

8:01pm

Malfoy Manor was a big, ominous building sitting on a slight hill and surrounded by tall, forbidding hedges. Having grown up somewhere so... dark, it wasn't surprising that Malfoy had turned out so foul.

The crisp smell of leaves and smoke met Hermione's nose as she stared up at the building, reminding her it was autumn. The familiar scents almost made her forget her unwelcoming surroundings – almost.

With a sigh, Hermione walked up to the intimidating gates and rang the little bell that was there for guests. She knew that she wasn't going to get through the wards without someone from inside allowing her entry.

The gates creaked open ominously, revealing the cobbled path leading up to large double doors. It was such a long walk from the gate to the Manor that Hermione jogged a little, not wanting to make Malfoy wait if he was really in trouble. She'd rather be able to save him if it was possible, even if he was a git.

On the off chance he only wanted her there as some strange new form of bullying, she could always hex him once she was sure he wasn't in danger. If she was feeling really spiteful, she could even arrest him and keep him in a holding cell overnight.

The thought cheered her a little.

Not even breathing hard from her little jog, Hermione knocked on the door. She paused a moment, breath making puffy clouds in the cold air while she waited for someone to answer.

It was policy to knock first for propriety's sake and then burst in should no one answer the door.

No one answered.

After a glance around the grounds, Hermione blasted the door open with her wand. The rush of satisfaction she got from the action was completely guilt-free because it had been completely necessary.

Sometimes she loved her job.

"I ask for help and they send me a Mudblood in a cat suit," drawled a voice from the shadows inside the house.

Hermione would know that voice anywhere. It was much deeper than it had been when they were young, but it was still the voice that had tormented her through her years at school.

"And you're paying for that door," he continued, stepping into the moonlight coming in through the door. He frowned distastefully at the charred pieces of wood that his expensive shoes crunched.

And sometimes she hated her job.

"You sent for help, I'm here to help," Hermione snipped.

Wand raised in case of an attack, Hermione slowly moved inside the Manor, mindful of Malfoy's position in case he was the one to attack.

Her eyes raked over his form, looking for signs that he'd actually been in danger or anything that would warrant his distress call. There was a small smudge of something black showing on one of his wrists and a tiny tear in the sleeve of his black jacket, but everything else about him appeared composed.

He seemed perfectly calm, but the rapid pulse beating at the base of his throat revealed the truth; he wasn't as unaffected as he wanted her to believe.

"What is it I'm here for, Malfoy?" Hermione had a feeling her "visit" to Malfoy Manor was going to be almost as unpleasant as her previous one.

"It just had to be you they sent," he growled, glaring at her like the entire thing was her fault. "Always the questions with you."

His anger was fast to fade, Hermione had a feeling he was just making a cursory effort to keep up appearances. For the first time since the end of the war, Malfoy looked nervous and out of his element. He was a git, but he was usually a put-together git.

"Ever since the war, I've been having a... small problem every Halloween. It's been getting progressively worse as time goes on." He spoke as if she was dragging answers from him with the threat of torture.

"What's this 'small problem'?" Hermione asked, looking around as if expecting something to jump out at her.

Her answer came in the form of a keening wail from somewhere in the depths of the huge house. Hermione turned to face the sound, wand trained down the dark corridor, and Malfoy paled considerably. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end as the sound started again, slightly closer. Her fight or flight response was fully engaged and pushing strongly towards flight.

"What was that?" she whispered, not wanting to draw the attention of whatever it was that had made such a disturbing sound.

Malfoy looked fearfully down the dark corridor. "She's coming," he muttered.

Before Hermione could respond, he had grabbed her wrist and was off running in the opposite direction, away from the sound. Hermione stared after him in disbelief for a moment before tearing off after him.

8:23pm

Malfoy was fast.

Hermione spent all kinds of time keeping herself in shape so she could do well at her job, and she was still gasping for breath by the time the blond stopped his flight.

Bracing her hands on her knees, she took in deep gulps of air, trying to restore her breathing to normal.

Also short on air and slightly pink in the cheeks, Malfoy slammed the door behind him and cast several complicated spells on the thick wood to keep whatever had been after them out of the room.

"Can it get through those spells?" Hermione asked, worried that they were going to have to start running again soon.

Malfoy shook his blond head. "Every time I use a new spell to keep her out, she takes a while to get through, but once she's learned them, she can pass through them instantly, as if they weren't there in the first place.

Whatever charms Malfoy cast on the door seemed to have included a silencing charm, because Hermione could no longer hear that frightful wailing. It was easier to think when she didn't have chills of terror running up and down her spine.

"I think I deserve a proper explanation now," Hermione said. If she was going to risk her life to save someone she hated from an unknown dark entity, she was going to need all the information she could get. Hermione didn't fancy dying at all, but particularly not for Malfoy.

"I've told you almost everything I know. Whoever she is, she appeared shortly after the war ended. It started out as almost harmless things like glasses shattering and a sound like the wind howling through the corridors, but every year the incidents escalate and she seems to get stronger. Last year she managed to lock me in the dungeons and push me down the stairs, nearly broke my neck."

Hermione tapped her wand thoughtfully against her bottom lip. "So you thought if you were going to die anyway, you may as well take someone down with you?"

His eyes flashed with anger. "No, I thought my pride wasn't worth my death and that I should ask for help before she manages to kill me," he hissed, his teeth clenched so tightly that Hermione could see the tension in his jaw clearly.

Hermione nodded, accepting his reasoning. This seemed to relax him slightly, easing most of the tension in his jaw. That was good; grinding his teeth like that wasn't good for the enamel.

"Why not just leave the Manor for Halloween?" she asked. It made sense and fit in with his habit of fleeing. Hermione wouldn't call him a coward precisely; just very adept at knowing when it would be smarter to flee than trying to fight a losing battle.

He looked slightly embarrassed, but hid it quickly. "I lost track of the date and wasn't prepared for her this year. She snuck up on me while I was reading in the library and knocked over a candle. The spells to guard against flames seemed to fail at the same time the door locked. Centuries of literature went up in flames and I was forced to jump out a window."

That explained the soot smudges on him and the tears in his clothes. It seemed Malfoy had been having an eventful night before he'd called for help.

"Why don't you just leave?" she asked.

The blond shot her an incredulous look. "You don't think I've tried that? She's put up some kind of barrier around the property. We're stuck here."

Just to see if he was right, Hermione turned on the spot, thinking of her flat. No luck.

Malfoy turned his back on her, shaking his head at her complete unwillingness to believe him. As Hermione watched, he started pulling books out from one of the shelves lining the walls.

Taking the chance to examine the room they occupied, Hermione noted a stately desk, a sideboard with tumblers and brandy, and many shelves of books. They were in some sort of study with no fireplace, windows, or any other sort of escape. Malfoy had effectively barred their only escape route.

9:17pm

Hermione slumped back into the squishy chair behind the desk and stretched her legs out in front of her. The whole waiting-on-the-edge-of-her-seat-for-her-imminent-demise thing was getting old quickly.

She'd spent some time going through every magical creature and spell she could remember that would create a monster like Malfoy had described, but hadn't been able to come up with anything.

When she'd exhausted her knowledge, she'd tried looking at a few of the books, but they were all on Malfoy family history and were completely useless.

Yes, Hermione admitted that some books could be useless. Those books about Purebloods six centuries dead were particularly pointless. What would be helpful was a nice book on dark creatures and ways to fight against them.

Out of sheer boredom, she'd tried talking more to Malfoy about their problem, but he was completely focused on systematically pulling out and then shoving the books back onto the shelves.

Quietly at first, and then louder, Hermione started to hear the wailing of the creature filtering through the silencing charms on the door.

Malfoy immediately paused in his searching. "She's starting to get through the locking charms on the door," he muttered, more to himself than Hermione. He started pulling out books even faster, not bothering to make sure they went back onto the shelves, merely ripping them out of their places and letting them fall to the floor.

Had she not suspected that those books were the secret to getting out of the study alive, Hermione would have objected to the poor treatment of the ancient tomes. Useless they may be, but they were still books and deserved some respect.

Standing from her chair, she moved to help him in his book-ruining mission, but it turned out that he didn't need her assistance. He'd found what he'd been looking for. Instead of coming off of the shelf, one of the books clicked and stayed there, tilted at an angle that would be impossible if it wasn't being held there by something. The sound of gears turning reached her ears just as the bookcase creaked open, revealing a dark stone passageway beyond.

"Of course there's a secret passageway," Hermione muttered, following Malfoy into the darkness beyond.

10:06pm

Hermione shivered against the cold stone, tightening her arms around her knees in hopes of retaining what little warmth she still had. She'd tried to cast a warming charm, but Malfoy had warned her magic seemed to be what attracted the creature.

The air was damp and musty, only enhancing the cold.

"You're sure she can't find us in here?" she asked the pacing blond in an attempt to distract herself from the pervading coldness.

Malfoy glanced at her and then shook his head. "She follows, but she's not intelligent. She won't be able to connect the fallen books with a secret passageway. We'll be safe here for a time, but when she sees that we're not in that room up there, she'll start searching the house. We're safe for the moment."

"Until she finds us and tries to kill us again," Hermione muttered. The cold and the constant running for her life were starting to get to her, making her grumpy and irritable. She'd thought she would be the one doing the chasing once she'd become an Auror; she'd done more than enough running when she was attending Hogwarts.

Without telling Malfoy, Hermione resolved to face the thing instead of running the net time the creature appeared. He could run; she was the Auror in the situation and it was her job to keep him safe.

"It doesn't make sense that this creature appears every year on Halloween," Hermione said, speaking her thoughts aloud.

"What better day to be haunted than during the festival of the dead?" was his cryptic answer. The bitterness in Malfoy's words actually surprised Hermione. She'd been haunted by things – memories, thoughts, worries – but never had those things actively tried to take her life.

10:48pm

When her teeth started chattering, Hermione stood up, seeing the wisdom in Malfoy's pacing. Unfortunately, the walls and floor had already leeched most of the warmth from her body, leaving her freezing.

She shuffled her feet and rubbed her arms, hoping to regain some of the heat she'd lost.

Malfoy sighed, but Hermione was too focused on shifting from foot to foot to bother paying any attention to him.

Suddenly, she found herself wrapped in warmth. Hermione tensed, feeling the hard planes of Malfoy at her back while he held the sides of his robes shut around her body.

"Malfoy, what are you doing?" she asked, her voice squeakier than she would have liked.

She was close enough that she heard the breath he took before explaining, and his chest brushed against her back as he prepared to speak. "I don't want the Ministry to think I killed one of their Aurors."

His robes smelled like him; expensive soaps, smoke from the fire, and the slightest salty tang of fear. How was it possible that she liked the way he smelled, but objected to him as a person? She had a feeling it was one of those moments where her body and mind were completely out of synch; she was drawn to him on a physical level.

Hermione knew she should pull away, but he was so warm and she'd been so cold. Gradually, her muscles relaxed as she allowed herself to lean back against him slightly, wanting to be as close to his warmth as possible. She told herself very firmly that it had nothing to do with wanting to be closer to him.

They stood like that awkwardly for a few minutes as Hermione slowly regained the warmth she'd lost and then some.

"Better?" Malfoy eventually asked, sounding uncomfortable.

Hermione jumped at the sound of his voice, startled that she could feel it as well as hear it. She'd somehow tilted her head back to rest it against him, and for some reason, he'd allowed it.

Awkwardly, she cleared her throat and took a tiny step away from him. She was still within his robes, but they weren't leaning against each other anymore.

"Much, thank you."

A sound from down the passageway made them spring apart like a pair of guilty teenagers caught snogging by a teacher.

She found herself regretful to be away from him for more reasons than just the loss of warmth, but now really wasn't the time to wade into those reasons. There was something coming down the passageway towards them, and it would be best to have her mind focused on the danger at hand.

"Run, Granger!" Malfoy hissed from behind her, the scuff of shoes on stone telling her that he'd already taken his own advice.

Hermione however, stood her ground. She shifted her stance and stood on the balls of her feet, wand out and ready for whatever wanted them dead.

A quick check over her shoulder revealed that Malfoy had already disappeared down a different passageway. Good, she wouldn't have to make sure to protect him as well as keep herself safe.

Vaguely, Hermione wondered why the creature wasn't making that horrible wailing she'd been making before.

As the sound of approaching footsteps got louder, Hermione started to see a slight glow coming down the dark corridor. She was expecting some sort of horrible monster, but it was actually something much less threatening.

Hermione's jaw dropped and her eyes widened almost comically when the creature finally came into view. It was her.

Well, her from several years ago. A thirteen year old Hermione Granger stood there, blinking doe eyes at her older counterpart and emitting a slight glow.

While Hermione may have been completely floored at the strange shape of the threat, she didn't for a moment lower her guard. Just because it didn't look threatening didn't mean it wasn't capable of killing her – that was one of the first things she'd learned about magic.

They just stood there staring at one another, each waiting for the other to make the first move.

So entranced was she that she didn't hear the rapid footfalls behind her until Malfoy had grabbed her around the waist and threw her over his shoulder, probably bruising her poor stomach. With every one of his steps, she bounced painfully against his hard shoulder as he jogged down the passageway.

"Put me down!" Hermione gasped out after a particularly hard jostle knocked the wind right out of her. She may as well have not wasted the efforts for all the effect it had.

Malfoy continued his jog, not stopping until they had navigated several passageways and a staircase, coming out in a ballroom.

Hermione was dropped unceremoniously on the floor the moment the passageway was once again sealed and hidden behind the wooden panelling on the wall. Rubbing her stomach, Hermione glared at Malfoy, who had collapsed into a heap against the wood the moment the panel had safely closed on the passage.

"Why does your monster look just like me?" she asked. There would be plenty of time later to berate him for manhandling her like she was a sack of potatoes if they survived. She was burning with curiosity about this monster of his.

It didn't make any sense. Why would something set on killing Malfoy look just like her?

He was looking away from her, avoiding eye contact. There was something he wanted to keep from her. Something she really wanted to know.

"I have theories, but nothing concrete," he muttered, still looking in the other direction.

"I was pretty terrifying in third year," Hermione mused.

Rubbing his nose, Draco nodded, a small smirk playing on his lips. "Tell me about it."

11:14pm

The only plus to waiting in the ballroom instead of the stone passage was that the ballroom was warm.

"You're awfully good at escaping," Hermione commented idly, having finished examining every nook and cranny of the large but featureless room. The ballroom was meant to be filled with people, so there was almost no furniture in it besides the piano in the far corner, covered in a sheet.

Malfoy glared from where he was still seated against the panel. "I came back for you, didn't I?"

Tilting her head slightly, Hermione considered this. Malfoy was not a brave person, this fact was common knowledge. Yet he'd come back and faced the monster that wanted him dead for her.

"You did," she said, regarding him questioningly. "It seems your heart was in the right place, even if I could have discovered something about the monster had you not dragged me away. For instance, she hasn't done anything but follow us around. Not one attempt on my life has been made while I've been here."

Malfoy considered this observation. "Maybe it's just me she wants dead," he said quietly.

Sensing that he was distressed, Hermione crossed the room and sat beside him, placing a gentle hand on his knee. A kind person by nature, it was normal for Hermione to feel a push to help someone in need, but that she felt that pull towards Malfoy was strange. They weren't friends and he was more likely to push her away than accept her help.

Except he didn't push her away.

In fact, he looked a little more relaxed than before. Apparently her touch didn't repulse him as much as he had always insisted it would.

Malfoy was turning out to be a completely different person than she had initially thought him to be.

11:58pm

"I think I'll go and hunt her down, see if I can banish her or something," Hermione said for what felt like the hundredth time.

Malfoy groaned slightly in annoyance. He'd been insisting that she would get lost in the Manor, and that the creature would come after him once she left him alone for the past half hour. They were both valid points, but Hermione still felt that she should be off doing her job instead of hiding.

Sighing, Hermione turned to face him fully. It was a slightly awkward position because they were still seated side by side on the floor, but she needed to see his face. The reasoning he used to keep her there was solid and logical, but she had a feeling there was more to it that he didn't want her to see.

The blond wasn't looking at her; he was staring at something over her shoulder. Hermione turned to look, but Malfoy grabbed her chin and brought her face around back to him. They were almost nose to nose and Hermione found her eyes darting down to his lips before she could stop them. Traitorous eyes.

Ever observant, Malfoy noticed the movement and smirked.

Hermione found herself facing the horrifying thought that his smirk no longer made her want to hit him. In fact, it seemed to enhance her desire to kiss the prat.

She would have been more upset that he'd noticed her less than subtle glance to his lips if she hadn't caught him doing the exact same thing. Strangely though, his eyes kept darting over her shoulder to look at something. Her curiosity was demanding that she look for herself, but her hormones were just as insistent that she not look away from Malfoy.

He murmured something that Hermione didn't quite catch, but she thought it may have been "If I'm going to die anyway..."

Immediately after that, she stopped caring about what he'd said because she found his lips on hers.

12:00am November 1, 1999

The moment their mouths overlapped, it was like something ignited inside Hermione. She'd never felt so connected to someone in her entire life. It was like she'd been searching for something all along without even realizing it, but now that she'd found it she wasn't sure she ever wanted to be without it again.

It wasn't something she was supposed to be feeling about Malfoy, but she couldn't stop herself. Reconciling her heart with her logical mind had long been a problem for Hermione.

When Malfoy pulled away, his eyes darted once again over her shoulder before they widened.

Confused, Hermione followed the direction of his gaze, wondering what it was that kept taking his attention. This time, Malfoy didn't try to stop her from looking.

Standing behind them, in the middle of the room was the very creature that they were supposed to be hiding from. The creature was still glowing softly, but there were holes in her form radiating beams of light.

As they watched, the creature smiled as the holes widened to consume her in a blinding light.

The light faded, leaving only the spots temporarily burned into their vision as proof that they'd witnessed anything unusual.

Hermione glanced at Malfoy, who looked shaken but not all that surprised with what they'd just witnessed.

"Why do I get the feeling you know more about what just happened than you're letting on?" she asked, standing and moving slightly away from him. She wanted distance; it was easier to think if he was farther away.

Malfoy stood as well, ruining her efforts to distance them when he took a step towards her. "I said I had theories, nothing more."

With a glance towards the place where the creature had disappeared, Hermione put space between them once again.

"Listen, Malfoy," Hermione said, trying to retain what little professional attitude remained with her. "It looks to me like the threat is over, so I'm going to go back to the office. This case is going to take mountains of paperwork to ex- mmmph"

Midsentence, Malfoy grabbed her and stopped her nonsense with his lips.

"You're not going anywhere," he said between kisses.

1:02am

Whether from relief that she wasn't going to die or some sort of Halloween miracle, Hermione found herself in Malfoy's bed. It was a soft bed, probably ridiculously expensive, and yet it couldn't distract her from its blond occupant.

He was leaning over her, placing kisses along her collarbone with a reverence she would never have thought him capable of.

"Malfoy, what happened tonight?" she asked, feeling like she'd missed something important. When she showed up, he'd called her a Mudblood, yet had no problems practically carrying her to his bed and smothering her in kisses.

"Doesn't matter what's happened, it's what going to happen that's important."

She had a feeling he wasn't talking about sex. His words implied that he intended to have a real relationship with her. The order was a little off with their courtship, but she had the strange suspicion that they could work if she could let go of the past. They were hardly the conventional couple, so why should anything else be conventional for them?

10:46am

Harry stood at the gates in front of Malfoy Manor, peeking through them nervously. Hermione hadn't reported back to the office last night, and he was beyond worried about her.

The gates opened when he rang the bell, allowing him inside to stride purposefully up the cobbled path.

When he saw that there was a pile of splinters instead of a front door, he whipped out his wand and rushed inside. Something horrible must have happened to Hermione.

As he charged through the Manor in his usual reckless fashion, Harry tried not to picture all the horrible things that could have happened to his friend while she was at the mercy of Malfoy and whatever had made the prideful ferret call for help.

Maybe the whole thing was an act to lure an Auror to his house just to get revenge against the Ministry... or something. Harry was so worried he couldn't even come up with a proper nefarious plot to pin on Malfoy!

"What the hell are you doing in my home Potter?" drawled an irritated voice behind him.

Harry whipped around, ready to hex Malfoy until he revealed where Hermione was, but he stopped just as a spell was about to leave his lips.

Malfoy had whiskers. Not real whiskers, but faded black smudges across his cheeks, as if someone with whiskers drawn onto their face had pressed both of her cheeks against his at sometime in the night.

"Looking for Hermione," Harry said. He still had his wand raised, but he was much less suspicious of the blond. Those whiskers implied that something disturbing beyond comprehension had happened, but that Hermione was fine.

"She's sleeping."

Harry waited, expecting some more information. When Malfoy didn't seem forthcoming with that information, Harry started to get irritated. "I'm not leaving until I see that Hermione's safe. So take me to her, or risk being charged with abducting an Auror."

Rolling his eyes, Malfoy turned and stalked away. He stopped in front of a door, glaring fiercely at Harry before opening it just a crack.

With a glare back at Malfoy, Harry peeked inside the room. Hermione was in there, tangled in sheets and looking like she was peacefully asleep, but that didn't mean she was alive. He knew from experience that the dead almost always looked peaceful.

Shoving Malfoy to the side, Harry pushed into the room, ignore the hissed protests of the blond.

"Hermione?" Harry asked, reaching out to touch his friend's hand.

Her eyes popped open and she immediately reached for the sheet, dragging it up to her chin. "Harry! What are you doing in here?" she screeched. Hearing a sound from the door, her gaze darted over to the blond standing by the door. "Malfoy, why did you let Harry in here?"

To Harry's shock, Malfoy looked apologetic. "He was going to charge me with abducting an Auror," the blond mumbled.

His attitude startled an uncharacteristic giggle from Hermione. She smiled radiantly at the blond. "You're welcome to abduct me again anytime."

Harry looked between the two and shuddered. "I'll see you at work, Hermione." He left the Manor as fast as he could, confident that his delicate psyche couldn't take any more trauma.

6:30pm October 31, 2000

"I figured out what that monster was," Hermione said, coming up behind Draco and wrapping her arms around him as he stood in the newly-renovated library. They hadn't been able to replace the ancient and priceless books that had been destroyed in the fire, but with Hermione's help, Draco had managed to acquire an impressive array of books.

Smiling, Draco turned in her arms and pressed a quick kiss against her grinning mouth. "And what would that be, love?"

Hermione released him to grab a book from her bedside table, opening it to a marked page and thrusting it under his nose.

When someone willingly denies their soul its other half, their magic may lash out. As Samhain approaches and magic grows stronger, these manifestations of magic will grow stronger as well. In extreme cases, injury can occur as a result of the uncontrolled magic, sometimes even death.

Setting the book down, Draco took Hermione back into his arms. "It's a good thing we cleared up my denial before someone died – namely me."

"Still upset that they sent me last year? I doubt Harry could have literally kissed your monster away."

He shuddered at the mention of Harry and kissing in the same sentence. They got on for Hermione's sake, but their rivalry was alive and well.

With Hermione in his arms, he had a lot to distract him from disturbing thoughts about Potter. Leaning down, Draco kissed her again.

"Just in case that monster starts to think I'm 'denying my soul its other half'," he explained.

"We can't have that," Hermione said with a smile, leaning against him affectionately.