Hello everyone. I would like to apologize for the long delay of this chapter. There was a serious illness in my family that unfortunately resulted in a death. I thank you for your continued patience.

-SarahQuinn

Chapter 9: Details

"You have a hunch?" Albus asked. He sat at his desk and peered over his half-moon glasses with a watchful gaze.

"Yes," answered Sirius simply. A lax smile played with his lips.

"And you can't tell me?"

"Actually, I think the less people who know about it the better. It's best to have fewer witnesses, if you know what I mean," he said, his smile growing broader. His knee bounced up and down quickly from excitement. "Besides, I want to make sure the lead pans out before I get anyone else involved. It came from one of my more unsavory sources."

"I understand, but I advise you to not go alone. I believe Bill Weasley is available. Please take him with you and check in regularly," said Albus his voice was tight with reserve.

Sirius nodded and stood to make his exit.

"Sirius?"

"Yes, sir?" Sirius turned his blank face back to the older man.

"Be careful," pronounced Albus pointedly.

Sirius broke into a large grin. "I always am." He walked through the Headmaster's office and through the door.


Hermione sat across from the old woman in her living room. Her arm was out-stretched, palm up.

"Please," Hermione began. "Give it to me."

The old woman just sat on her couch, smiling and staring at her. She held a cup of steaming tea in her hands. Hermione watched as the woman brought the cup to her lips, sipping it gingerly.

"Why do you want it?" The woman asked when she was done swallowing. She set the cup down on the coffee table between them.

Hermione lowered her arm. Her gaze rested on the coffee table. It was littered with books that were tattered and beaten. Some were falling apart from the spine, others had no front or back covers. She recognized the language they were printed in was Latin.

The books were distracting her. The answer was in one of them. She knew it but she couldn't think. Why did she want it and what was it that she was asking for?

"Silly girl. You don't know, do you?" A sly smile lit up the woman's face. "You're not ready to know."

"I am!" Hermione yelled as she stood. Anger rushed through her veins. "Give it to me, now!"

The woman's smile widened as if she was pleased by Hermione's reaction. She stood slowly, facing Hermione, undaunted by her.

"No."

The woman reached into her robe, pulling from it her wand. She pointed it straight at Hermione. "You don't deserve it."

"It's mine," Hermione whispered, the word just spilling from her mouth. She knew nothing about what she was asking for but she felt in her soul that the words were true. Hermione was nearly crying from frustration.

"Not anymore," the woman answered. She moved her wand in a large arch, shouting a curse and aiming it at Hermione.

Hermione jerked awake from her dream, her body screaming in protest.

A bright stream of sunlight shined across her face as a buzzing filled her ears. As the moments passed Hermione realized it wasn't a buzzing but someone humming. Opening her eyes slowly to adjust to the incoming sun, she found a familiar sleeping figure in a chair next to her bedside.

"Parker?"

Hermione's voice was hoarse and barely audible, but even that was not soft enough for Madam Pomfrey to hear. The humming stopped as the relieved looking nurse walked around a large partition.

"Oh my. Dr. Granger, if you keep this up you'll soon beat Harry's record. And mind you, he almost put me in my grave in his seventh year." Madam Pomfrey quickly smiled at her but Hermione didn't return it. Bitterness crept into her mind as she thought about her first year of exile. Her former friends were here, learning and defending themselves. Madam Pomfrey, taking in her stony silence, busied herself by performing a few charms that checked Hermione's condition.

"Madam Pomfrey?" Hermione ventured after a moment.

"Oh please, call me Poppy, dear. We are colleagues now," she answered smiling at the younger woman.

"Poppy," Hermione began hesitantly. "What is Parker doing here?"

Parker stirred as if aware that she was mentioned. Hermione wondered if she had been asleep or only pretending.

Madam Pomfrey strolled across the infirmary to busy herself with more work.

"I'm here because I was worried sick about you," her voice was raspy with sleep. She cleared her throat as she stood and grasped Hermione's hand tightly. "You made a promise to stay in one piece. I'm afraid that I should have been more specific in my demands. You are not allowed to be hit, maimed, strangled, severely cursed, or shot. And yes I know the likelihood of guns being used in the Wizarding world is slim but I need to cover all the bases because apparently when I don't, this happens. Any means that can cause death or permanent injury that I did not mention are also off limits. Understood?"

Hermione nodded with trouble, her neck stiff. "I understand you but I don't understand what happened..."

Hermione began to sit up but her muscles protested with every movement. There was a dull throbbing pain on her abdomen and a not so dull pain in her lower back. Parker released her death grip of Hermione's hand and learned over to help but Hermione waved her away. Parker sat back down watching her friend's struggle with mild amusement. Finally she managed to get herself into a sitting position.

"Well, we were all hoping you would be able to tell us," replied the nurse. She had ambled back over to Hermione's bedside, arching a curious eyebrow.

Hermione's memories of that morning rushed to the forefront. Lucius Malfoy was alive, not killed by Snape, as Harry had told her. She remembered his threats and the shape he had cut into her. Her hand drifted to her stomach and gently rested it there. He had told her about a Death Eater meeting.

"I remember I just woke up and I was getting up to bathe. Someone grabbed me from behind, covering my mouth and I felt a sharp pain in my back. After that, I don't remember anything," lied Hermione.

"All right, dear. Please don't strain yourself. It will come back in time. I shall inform the Headmaster you are awake," said Madam Pomfrey. She left, pulling the partition so that Hermione and Parker had some privacy.

"What really happened?" Parker had her 'don't-you-dare-lie-to-me-Hermione-Granger-because-I-know-when-you-lie-to-me' look.

Hermione paused and looked at her friend. Parker had dark circles under her bloodshot eyes and her hair was a mess from sleeping in the chair.

"That's all I remember." A sick feeling filled her stomach. She looked away.

"Hermione...?" Parker said softly. Hermione risked a glance at her and saw a hurt look flash briefly over her face. Hermione couldn't look at the other woman. Instead, she pretended to examine her fingernails. She hated to lie to her, but she knew it would be best to keep this from her. Not getting her involved would protect her.

She's already involved just by knowing you! Hermione thought bitterly. It wasn't intentional but Parker was in danger because of who she associated with. Hermione understood how it felt to be in Parker's position. All those years ago, being in danger because of who her best friend was.

Parker stood suddenly and spoke. "Fine. Don't tell me. But if you get beat up again, which you aren't allowed to, but if you do, you will tell me the whole story. Hermione, I mean it. I will bake a truth potion into those muffins I make that you can't resist. Got it?" She pointed her finger straight at Hermione emphasizing her message.

Hermione just nodded her head, too scared to speak.

"So... How are you doing? I mean besides nearly bleeding to death," asked Parker, her usual smile, albeit a little tight around the corners, in place. Her eyes were not holding her smile's joy.

"I'm fine," she answered tentatively. Hermione took a calming breath and pretended the previous tension had never happened. "I've seen a few old friends. Harry, Ron, Neville. Oh, guess what. Neville doesn't hate me. So that takes the total up to five."

"Wow. Five. Better than anticipated. But really, Hermione, you haven't been here a week and you are already drawing negative attention. I know it's not your people skills. Maybe it's the accent. It's not as thick as it used to be. Unless you've been into the tequila again. I don't think I need to mention Halloween three years ago," said Parker a glint of humor sparkling in her eyes.

"No! That won't be necessary." Hermione quickly exclaimed nearly jumping off the bed. Her body protested immediately.

Parker hugged Hermione as gently as possible then sat down on the bed beside her friend. "I'm glad you are okay," she whispered. "You don't know how scared I was when I saw Sirius in the kitchen."

"Sirius?"

"Yeah. He was leaning against the kitchen counter in that sexy leisurely way of his. I knew it was bad so I offered to make him dinner to keep him from talking. Then I threatened his life with salami when he persisted," Parker added sheepishly. "It would have been funny if the situation wasn't so serious."

"I can imagine," answered Hermione, smiling at the image.

The infirmary's double doors opened. Hermione and Parker both turned as Sirius entered, as if summoned by what Parker had said. Draco followed and they made their way to Hermione's bedside. They both smiled down at her, though Hermione noticed, Draco's was hesitant.

"I see you are all right," observed Sirius.

"No thanks to you." Parker leaned across Hermione and punched Sirius in the shoulder.

"Ow!" Sirius howled dramatically. He rubbed his shoulder where she hit him.

"Where the hell were you when she was bleeding to death?" Parker asked in her no nonsense tone.

"I was doing my job. I'm not her keeper, you know. Hogwarts is perfectly safe... Most of the time. I came and told you, didn't I? I brought you here too, and you punch me in gratitude!" Sirius's indignant voice filled the infirmary.

"Women have punched you for less. Does this really surprise you?" Draco asked, a bemused expression gracing his sharp features.

Sirius just stared at Draco. "I begged my dear cousin not to procreate with your father..."

"And I always wanted a pony but unfortunately my father had a passion for torture," remarked Draco, his expression unchanged. "It took a couple pets to figure that one out."

Hermione watched the exchange nervously. She couldn't read Sirius and even though Draco's expression seem light, she felt as though it was only on the surface. She wondered if Draco knew his father was still alive.

He couldn't.

"So... I'm Parker by the way. Hermione's friend and former roommate," Parker interceded, a note in her voice indicated to Hermione that she picked up on the underlying tension. She offered her hand to the younger man.

He took the offered hand. "It's good to meet you. I'm Draco. Old school enemy turned ally."

"Ally? Huh... I could make a naughty joke right now but I shall refrain." Parker smiled unabashedly. Her eyes raked over his body. Hermione knew Parker was imagining it was her hands and not her eyes.

Hermione remained in silence, unsure how her friends forwardness would be taken.

"On that note, I take my leave. I have business, other than looking after you, dear." Sirius gave Hermione a light pat on the head. "If you need to talk to anyone about being ostracized or whatever, Remus is available." His voice cheerful as if he was telling her to have a nice day. "He works at the Ministry, in the Dark Arts Antiquities Department."

"I will keep that in mind," Hermione answered hesitantly.

Sirius left without any further conversation. As he exited the infirmary, Albus entered.

"I'm glad to see you awake," Albus stated. "I was hoping to have a word with you. Alone that is, if you can allow that Miss Jensen. I promise Hermione will not come to any further harm today."

Hermione observed her friend's cautious gaze flit between her and the older man. After her third circuit she gave a brusque nod.

"I was only able to take one day off. You spent nearly the whole time sleeping so I have to get going. The Moreland wedding is this weekend. Remember what you promised, okay?" Parker leaned in for another hug.

"Okay," Hermione whispered, getting choked up. She released her friend.

Draco caught Parker's attention and nodded towards the door, indicating for her to precede him.

Albus continued as the door breezed shut. "I cannot explain what happened. Nor can I apologize enough. It has been a long time since these walls have been breached. I know nearly every inch of this castle. I have lived here for more than half of my very long life. It is my home and the home of so many good people. You like to think nothing can touch you while you're home but..." His voice trailed off. Hermione could see his disheartened face, understanding what he was going to say.

"There is a saying Parker says all the time. It's sort of her motto," Hermione started, a glint of a smile tugging at her lips. "Shit happens and then comes the fun part. It wasn't the first time I've been stabbed. Albeit this was the worst by far but we would get some agitated patients in the ER from time to time. I was stabbed and I'm alive."

"And I am glad for that. Losing you when we have just gotten you back would have been a tragedy."

Hermione remained quiet, not sure as to how to respond. Would it have been a tragedy because of the loss of her life or the loss of what she could do for them?

"I do need to discuss another matter with you. I apologize for the abruptness of it. The attack you and Neville witnessed in Diagon Alley resulted in the deaths of five people. One of those deaths was May Tobbletop, our Charms professor. I know this is too much of you to ask but I must. Instead of being an assistant Charms teacher, would you become the Charms Professor?"

"Sir..." Hermione tried to grasp the words from her surprised mind. "I know we went over this but I'm not qualified. I can't teach if I never even graduated. Being an assistant is one thing but being the main teacher is..."

"May was a good teacher. She always took extensive notes. You follow her lesson plan and you shall be fine. As for not graduating, I have a plan, with the exception of Charms, I have asked the other teachers to pitch in several hours a week to tutor you in an expedited seventh year lesson. They have all agreed. Yes, even Harry. Along with several good books that I have found, Draco and I will assist you with Charms. It will be rigorous but you are exceptional." Albus smiled, a glint in his eyes that made him look younger.

Hermione took a steadying breath. This was all coming at her too fast. "What if I say no?"

"You will continue your role as assistant and I will have to find a mediocre teacher, fully trained, whom you can surpass easily," responded Albus, same twinkle in his eye.

Hermione thought this out. I can do this and finally graduate or I can just sit and do nothing.

"Fine," she answered quickly. "I'll do it. But you get to deal with all the howlers I'll get from the parents."

"I was already planning to do so, my dear." Albus retrieved his wand from his robes. He muttered a quick phrase, aiming it at the nightstand. A stack of books appeared. Hermione had to quickly reach out to stop the books from falling into her lap. Her arm muscles screaming yet again. "You should get started. You have a lot of reading to do."

With a swish of his robes, he was out the infirmary door.


"So you've known Hermione for a while?" Draco asked politely, making conversation.

"Seven years last June." Was the short reply. "And you? When did you meet her?"

"Uh... We were eleven, our first year here. She came by my compartment on the train to Hogwarts asking whether I had seen Neville's toad. As I recall, I sneered at her and told her to bugger off." Malfoy mused.

"Wow. Charming," said Parker in a monotone.

"As all Malfoys are..." Draco's coy smile turned down. His eyes became distant as if he was seeing something else. "She put me in my place in our third year. Smacked me clear across my face. Afterwards my jaw hurt for days."

"Were you there when she was banished?"

The question hung in the air for a minute. The hall was silent save for distant murmurs of the occupants in the castle paintings.

Draco finally faced Parker and responded. "My father forced me to go. He told me it would be a good experience to see how every aspect of our government works. I didn't find it that thrilling..."

"What didn't you find thrilling?" Ron asked as he walked up to the pair. Neville followed soundlessly. The misunderstanding of the other day obviously forgotten.

"Bondage," Parker answered promptly.

Ron's gaze turned to Draco, his expression uncomfortable. "Neville, can you obliviate me?"

"That wouldn't be the first time you've asked." Neville answered his friend, his tone was unmarked with any emotion.

"What?" Ron whined turning to Neville, his face was drawn with concern.

"How is Hermione?" Neville crossed his arms waiting for an answer.

"She's doing fine. A little sore but she will live despite someone's attempts to the contrary," stated Parker stiffly. She mirrored Neville's stance.

Draco saw that Parker was eyeing Ron suspiciously.

Ron apparently noticed, too. He offered his hand. "Hi. I'm Ron. You know, you look really-"

"Save your attempts at flattery. I knew who you were without the introduction," said Parker, attitude infusing every word.

"Whoa there. No need to attack a stranger." Ron put his hands up in surrender. "I'm guessing you are a friend of Hermione's. If you didn't know, Draco has done a lot worse to her than I have."

Draco eyed his friend seemly not surprised to be thrown under the broomstick.

"Yes but Draco was never Hermione's friend to start with. And Neville here isn't acting like an ass. They both are more welcoming than you. You need to take a time out and smell what you are shoveling. Because I think eight years is a long time to be shoveling the same old crap." Parker was gesturing with her hands, indicating when she spoke about each person.

"I'm not shoveling anything. I don't even own a shovel."

Parker took a step forward. "Yes you do. All men like you own shovels because they eventually need to dig out of the hole they've dug themselves into. You did much worse to her than Draco ever could. She trusted you. Obviously it was misplaced. I hope she learned from it."

She brushed passed him, huffing loudly.

"Parker, wait," Draco called, trying to hide a smile. "I'll walk you out. These halls can be tricky sometimes."

Ron and Neville stood in the hall. Ron baffled and Neville pensive.

"Do you own a shovel?" Ron asked, confused still.

"Ron... I think the last obliviate was one too many." Neville shook his head, bemused. "Think for a second... What do I teach?"

Albus appeared from the infirmary, his eyes alight. "I would refrain from a visit just now, boys. Hermione has a lot of work to do. She is fine."

"She agreed?" Neville asked the Headmaster, excited.

"We have a Charms teacher."


"I wanted to talk to you," said Sirius, as he stepped through the portrait of the common room. He motioned with his head to Harry's bedroom door, indicating that it was a private sort of conversation.

Harry looked around his completely empty common room. "I think we can talk in here."

His godfather gave him a stern look as he walked passed Harry and through his door. He made his way to the mantle of the fireplace. It was covered with pictures of friends and family, smiling and laughing to the camera. Sirius picked up one picture in particular. It was of James and him the summer after their third year.

In the picture James had Sirius in a chokehold and Sirius was bending back a couple of James' fingers on his free hand. Both were laughing so hard they had to let go of each other. They fell to the ground holding their sides. In the background was James' parents' house. A tall, sturdy looking Victorian, that had been with the family for a few generations. You could see James' mother on the porch leaning against one of the poles then backing out of the frame just to reappear moments later.

Harry entered his room and closed the door silently behind him. "Now that we're alone..."

"It was a shame you never met your grandparents. They were great people. They gave me a place to stay when I didn't want to go home. By our third year I was almost living with them over the summer. You know your grandfather actually made me a bed. Not conjured it but built it with his bare hands. He was a good carpenter. He told me once that it was like magic. He could create anything he wanted. Anything he could dream of but with carpentry he got more satisfaction with working the wood and paying attention to the details. He said 'you can see someone's soul in the details'." Sirius leaned against the mantle, staring off, lost in memory.

"You wanted to talk to me in private to discuss my grandfather's hobby of carpentry?" Harry asked confused.

"No," Sirius answered coming back to the present. "It's about Hermione."

"Sirius, I don't want to talk-" Harry started.

"Then you will listen!" Sirius responded forcefully as he pushed away from the mantle to stand in front of his godson. He took out his wand and uttered some words under his breath. The room glowed red for a moment, after which he continued. "Do you remember what you believed when you first found out about me? I was a traitor and a murderer. But you learned the truth. That it was Peter and not me that betrayed your parents. I wasn't a traitor anymore. I was your godfather. It didn't take long for you to warm up to me.

"Hermione's situation is different, I know. You knew her before you thought she betrayed you. I know it hurts when someone you care about betrays you like that. Believe me, I know better than most. What she is doing now is dangerous. She needs understanding from you."

Harry just stared at his godfather, mildly annoyed that he had decided to talk about it for the first time in eight years. Sirius hadn't been there when Hermione was banished. He had still been on the run and by the time he had returned Harry had formed an iron wall around his memories of her.

Harry loved Sirius. He was the only real parental figure Harry had ever known. But that didn't make him a candidate for best father of the year. Of course he could talk to him about anything. Except the subject of her.

"I didn't know research was so dangerous... Then again parchment cuts can be quite painful," Harry said, his irritation sewn into his voice. "I can give her civility but not understanding."

Sirius hung his head for a moment. When he spoke again, his gaze was unwavering on Harry's. "I know I'm not supposed to tell you this, but unlike Albus, I don't enjoy keeping secrets from everyone. There are only three people other than myself who know this and, Harry, you need to be the last. Not Ron or Neville or Draco can hear this," explained Sirius. His voice was strong with the importance of his words. "I want you to know because sometimes all of Albus and Arthur's good intentions get people hurt."

Harry's annoyance was gone. The way Sirius was speaking kept his tongue still. His witty retorts were forgotten.

"I have the utmost respect for them but Albus knows the game and how to play it. That is what he is using her for." Sirius paused, taking a breath. "They asked Hermione to become a spy."

Harry swallowed and his breathing stilled. He nodded for Sirius to continue.

"She already has a Dark Mark and ever since Snape has been out of the picture, we've been drowning. He was the best source we had," admitted Sirius through gritted teeth. "You know what Voldemort is capable of. We need someone to get close and Hermione has an opportunity to do so. Albus would be a fool to not seize this chance but I still have concerns. I know you may not care like you once did but I would feel better if there was at least one person that doesn't only think about the war in this situation. The day we stop caring about what happens to those that are risking their lives for a better world, is the day we turn into him."

"Why are you telling me this?" Harry asked. His anger was now an afterthought. Fear began to rise in him. It felt like Sirius was saying good-bye.

Sirius took a moment before he answered. "You have the biggest heart of anyone I know. You stopped me from killing Peter, even after you knew he betrayed your parents. You didn't want me become a killer because of him. Now, I know you're not that boy anymore, but if you could find a piece of him. If you could look at Hermione through his eyes, I would feel better leaving."

He continued, answering Harry's unasked question. "I'm going to follow a lead I have. Don't worry, Bill is coming with me. I wanted you to know all of this because I've wished many times that you weren't in the middle of it. But I have finally learned the inevitable. I've learned that keeping secrets will only hurt you, not protect you. I swore to your parents I would always protect you. I need you to not push her and if she needs help, help her." Sirius held up a hand as Harry began to protest. "Harry, I don't know what I would be now if you hadn't been here. You've kept me as sane as I am after everything I've lost. I keep thinking about that when I think of Hermione's situation. I need you to do this for me. If she doesn't have someone here to keep the focus, he will destroy her and you will have truly lost her. If you don't care about her that is fine, I'm not asking you to do that. I am asking you to watch. You lose her, we are all dead!"

Silence filled the room as Sirius' words sunk in. Harry was unsure, though, which he Sirius was referring to.

"Why her? Why did it have to be her?" Harry questioned when he could find the words.

"I don't know," answered Sirius gently shaking his head. "I wasn't told the why. In fact, I probably wouldn't even know if it wasn't for Hermione. She talked to me the day Arthur told her the plan. I put my two knuts in, so to speak." He gave a suggestive look and barked a peal of laughter.

Harry looked at the other man, horrified. "That, I think, is the worst thing that has ever escaped your mouth."

"Harry! Have you looked at her? Or has this war blinded you to the sight of attractive women? She has changed into a striking young woman. She's confident, intelligent, and quiet brazen when the occasion calls for it."

"Are we done? I mean if you want to follow that lead, you may want to start now," Harry said quickly, making his way to the door.

"I'm sorry," Sirius voiced still chuckling to himself, seemingly not at all repentant. He pulled Harry into a hug, patting him hard on the back. "I only stated the obvious."

He released Harry only to grab his face in his hands. "I'll be back soon. Don't get into too much trouble while I'm gone. Relay that message to the boys. I don't want to go off having to save your sorry bums."

"Ha. You need to say that to a mirror," taunted Harry. He paused, his stomach churning as he realized this was a good-bye. "I will tell them."

"Good man," said Sirius, playfully slapping his cheek. He took out his wand, muttering something else under his breath and the room glowed again for a brief second. He lit the fireplace with another flick of his wand and grabbed some powder from a stand next to it. He tossed the powder in and turned back to his godson. "Please Harry, see the details. I couldn't see them last time. I regret it every day."

Sirius stepped into the fire, shouted his destination and was gone.

Harry sank onto his bed, Sirius' last words hitting him in the chest. Sirius knew exactly what it was like to be betrayed by a friend and the consequences that followed.

Harry knew everything his godfather had told him was true. During wars, those in charge strategized to come out victorious; some didn't care what it took. Voldemort was like that. Harry knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he had to stoop that low. It wouldn't make him any different from the creature that had taken so much from him.

"I promise, Sirius," he uttered to the empty room.


Draco sat stalk-still in the common room, in his favorite chair. The lively fire cast dancing shadows in the corners of the room. He stared gloomily at the flickering flames, lost in his thoughts.

It's too soon, thought Draco, still unmoving from his position. It's too soon. Everything is going to go wrong now.

"Draco?"

Draco jumped up off his chair and turned around to face Harry, who was leaning against the wall. He was very disturbed by the fact that he had not heard Harry's approach.

"Draco? Are you all right?" Harry asked with concern, taking a step towards him.

"Yes...yes," answered Draco, running a hand nervously through his hair. He continued, "I'm perfectly fine. Why do you ask?"

"Well, you don't seem like yourself lately. Ever since Hermione got hurt you've been... twitchy," said Harry. He plopped down in the chair Draco had just vacated, and gave him a penetrating stare.

"I'm not twitchy," Draco protested quickly, shifting his weight and looking away from his sharp green eyes.

"Then why are your hands shaking?" Harry threw back at him gently.

Draco slowly brought his hands up in front of his face. He saw that Harry was right. His hands were trembling slightly. Draco looked up at Harry and began to explain, "I... well, I am just concerned. About Hermione and her safety. About ours, in our own home. If Vol...Voldemort did this to Hermione, then he will probably try to do it again."

"Maybe. Or maybe she did it herself to make us think the Voldemort wants her dead," answered Harry promptly and nonchalantly, now gazing into the fire, his eyes unreadable.

Harry didn't believe Hermione attacked herself. He had become guarded over the years and very seldom, even with his closest friends, did he express his true suspicions. Harry had felt the sting of betrayal many more times than he cared to admit. He had learned that keeping suspicion in the back of his mind could keep him alive.

"She didn't do that to herself!" Draco exclaimed. Realizing he said this aloud, he swiftly turned his back to Harry.

Harry shifted noisily in the chair. He looked up and stared at Draco, focusing on his involuntary movements. He continued on the whim, wanting to know why Draco was acting so strange. "Draco, she's an intelligent person. She's also dangerous. One thing I have learned through this war is anyone is capable of anything," said Harry seriously. He forced a chuckle then, and continued, "You know, it's funny that you, of everyone in this castle, is defending her. It's the opposite of what I thought you would have done. It's strange really. Why are you doing it? Defending her?"

Draco thought for a moment before answering. He frowned. "You and Ron gave me another chance. Even after everything that I had done and said to you. You still gave me a second chance. I guess I just don't understand why you wouldn't give that to Hermione."

Draco turned back to stare at Harry. In turn, Harry shifted his gaze to the ground.

"The situation with Hermione is different," Harry answered. "You proved yourself trustworthy. She hasn't."

"You gave me another chance when I didn't deserve one. I want that for Hermione," said Draco kindly. He started walking towards his room, but as he passed Harry, he paused and rested a hand on the other man's shoulder. "Give her a chance. You won't regret it."

Why did I do that? Do I really feel that way? Draco asked himself when he got to his room.

Draco, they are making you soft, answered his cold and familiar voice. Play the part you were given. Nothing more.

Draco picked up a book off his night stand. He lowered himself onto his bed. He lounged on the bed, leisurely flipping through the book with a familiar smirk on his face.