Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters or story line affiliated with either the books or the movies. All rights are reserved for its creator J.K. Rowling.
A/N: I know well how all the Harry Potter movies and books went, but considering this is fanfiction I don't actually have to follow any of them and that's what makes writing for this sight so awesome. This is set in Year 6 of Hogwarts so during the "Half-Blood Prince" story. Parts in this story will be along the same lines as the original story whereas some parts I have twisted to my own needs to make this story work. It's a love story in the end, but there will be hardships and interference all along the way so it won't be easy for our lovebirds. Anyway I hope you enjoy this.
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi
I show not your face but your heart's desire
Reflections of rivals are their truest desires…
While they come to realize the love that they could have
they must fight to keep it as others see fit to destroy it.
Hermione wiped the tears trailing down her face as she ran from the sight of Ron with Lavender. Her heart just couldn't take the pain that held it grasped so tightly in its hold. She ran blindly through the corridors of Hogwarts not seeing where she was going until she hit a dead end and stopped staring at the blank space of wall before her. She began to furiously pace before the expanse of wall her thoughts echoing her heart.
I need a place to hide, a place where I can shelter myself, where I can cry for my broken heart, a place where I can mend my heart, a place where my heart can heal and become whole once again.
She stopped as a door formed in the wall. The Room of Requirement was now open to her as she threw open the door and stepped inside. There was nothing in the room but a standing mirror frame in glittering gold. Closing the door behind her she slowly, cautiously walked towards the window smart enough not to trust anything magical. Words were etched into the gold gilt about the reflecting gold.
Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi
Recognition dawned on Hermione as she stared at the Mirror of Erised. "I show not your face but your heart's true desire." She mumbled the phrase as she stepped closer to it, standing before it she gazed at her reflection for a moment before her image began to shimmer and change. "What is my heart's true desire?"
She expected the mirror to show her Ron's image, but instead another began to take form, one of a blonde haired, steely eyed boy. As Draco Malfoy's face came fully into focus Hermione stepped away from the mirror shattering the image of the boy who hated her because of her muggle-born heritage. There was no way that he was her heart's truest desire, the mirror had to be wrong, but Hermione knew deep down that the mirror was right. She had read about the mirror once before and she knew that the mirror only showed what was truest in one's heart.
Stepping back to stand before the mirror she watched as Malfoy's face smiled back at her and she was amazed at the innocence in his smile. It was warm, friendly so unlike the cold sneers he always aimed her way. It was as if the mirror reflected a completely different person than the cold heartless boy she knew, it was as if it gave face to some inner sight into the boy that was her complete and total opposite.
A loud click registered from behind her and she turned in time to see Malfoy closing the door to the Room of Requirement. He turned and looked right at her his face registering nothing as their gazes locked and then his usual cold sneer curled his lips. "Fancy meeting you here Granger."
The coldness in his tone was not as biting as it normally was and Hermione wondered what had brought Malfoy to the same room as she. She watched as his gaze darted from her to the mirror and her curiosity reared. "You're here to look into the Mirror of Erised."
It wasn't a question and Malfoy debated whether or not to answer her. It wasn't as if he had to answer to the Mudblood girl. "It would be pointless to point out that the only thing in the room save for us is the mirror so it would be safe to assume that I am indeed in fact here to look into the mirror Granger."
She chose to ignore the sarcasm behind his words as she studied him. There was something different about the Malfoy standing before her and the one that he usually portrayed. It was as if alone, without his friends, he was someone else entirely even if he still tried to hide behind the cold sneering façade that she knew so well. If one looked closely enough they would see that the hardness of his body had softened, that he didn't seem to hold any barriers around his person, but Hermione wondered if Malfoy even knew of the changes in his self.
Hermione looked over her shoulder at the Mirror of Erised and saw again Malfoy's smiling face staring back at her. Feeling bolder than she normally would in the face of Malfoy she turned back to him and pinned him with a questioning look. "Tell me Malfoy what it is that you see when you look into the mirror."
She noticed his eyes darting from the mirror to her and then back again. Something flickered in the depths of his grey eyes. What was it? Embarrassment? No she didn't think that was it. It went far deeper than that. Longing? Yes. Hermione could see it, the longing for something that he thought he could never obtain. She knew the feeling, understood it, it was what had brought her to this room, to the mirror, in the first place.
"What do you see when you look into the mirror?"
Stepping up to the mirror Draco looked into the glass and at first all that showed was his and Hermione's reflections, only he darted a glance at her to see that she had moved from in front of the mirror and he knew that it was not her reflection that showed, but his heart's reflection. She was who he desired above all else, but he was not going to admit as much to the girl. It would do him no good to admit anything of the kind to her. Gazing back into the mirror he watched as the Hermione there reached over and gently took his hand in hers and he could almost feel the warm touch of her hand grasping his in reality.
He wanted what was reflected, wanted it, but could never have it. It went against everything that he had always stood for, but standing in front of the mirror now, as he so often did, seeing her reflection beside his he felt less alone in the darkness that had veiled his life. There were things that were expected of him, things that his family, as the pureblood wizards that they were, would stop at nothing to see him accomplish. It was not what he wanted. He did not want to join the ranks of Death Eaters, didn't want to become another mindless follower of the Dark Lord. He wanted to be free to be his own person, to love without prejudice, to be welcome in the arms of the girl reflected before him, but he knew after all the things he had said to her and to her friends, because of everything that he had had a hand in, that she would never be with him. It was only in the Mirror of Erised that he could find some solace in her reflection alone.
Turning away from the mirror he looked into dark chocolate colored eyes of Hermione. Hiding the longing feelings inside him he masked his face with a cold angry sneer. "What's it to you Granger?"
Hermione was undaunted by the anger behind his words because she had seen for only a moment the emotion he kept hidden from the rest of the world. She saw the shadows that darkened the light of his soul and she wondered how anyone could have missed it. How could anyone miss the tortured soul he kept hidden? She assumed he hid it well because until this night she had thought him completely spoiled, pampered, given anything and everything he could have ever wanted. He seemed so happy in the dark life he led, but now Hermione wondered if maybe he wasn't as happy with it as he wanted everyone to think.
Squaring her shoulders she looked him right in the eye, brown meeting grey, she didn't break her gaze. "You don't want the life that you have do you?'
Draco jerked his gaze from hers his body tightening with tension as her question hit the nail on the head. Howisthatsheknowseverything?It'sinsufferable! But Draco wanted someone to know, wanted someone to understand that he wasn't as evil as he portrayed. He wanted people to know that he wanted to be one of the good guys that he wanted to fight against the evil that plagued his life. Turning cold eyes back to her he said, "You don't know anything about you filthy little Mudblood. You don't know what it's like to be me, to have to live the life that I do when it's not…"
He stopped himself before he revealed the truth, but Hermione knew the truth, she could sense it. He wanted to hide it from her, but it was there in his body language, in the way that he tried to cover his words and actions with iciness. Hermione found herself wanting to understand. She found her heart reaching out to him wanting to heal the wounds scarring his heart, to bring light back to his soul. She stepped towards him her eyes catching his image reflected in the mirror as she moved to stand beside him before it. She reached out and gently touched his arm. "Let me understand. Talk to me Draco."
He took comfort in her warm touch, but the sound of his name on her lips sounded wrong as it echoed in his ears and yet it felt so right coming from her. For once she didn't refer to him by his surname nor did she spit out his name like a curse. No for the first time she had called him 'Draco' and he wanted to hear her say it again, but she was waiting for him to answer her and he didn't know if he could. Never before had he ever spilled his emotions to anyone, but to do so now, to one he had always been forced to view as the enemy, was something he didn't know if he was prepared to do.
He looked into her eyes and he found warmth there, compassion, the need to understand and help and he wanted to let himself be helped. He wanted to allow her to bare witness to the horrors that plagued him. Beneath her touch the tension in his body drained away and he felt warmth spread through him like fire reaching into all of the darkest corners of his being.
She felt his tension release its hold on his body and she saw the steely glint in his eyes soften to a smoky grey that swirled with the inner emotions that warred within in. She could see indecision in those troubled depths and she wanted to erase whatever caused him such pain. She didn't understand why she felt the sudden compassion towards the stuck up Slytherin boy, but it didn't matter. "Tell me. Let me help you."
"Why do you even care Granger?"
"Because you're human. Everyone needs someone to talk to at some point or another."
He studied her trying to gauge her own emotions, but they were all displayed in the warmth of her eyes. "Why do you want to help me?"
"Honestly I don't know, but I do. That's all that matters, isn't it? Talk to me. Let me understand."
Draco wanted to tell her. He wanted someone to understand him and make the darkness recede into nothing but a distant memory, but he found that he was unable to do it. He stepped away from her touch instantly feeling the cold seep back into his body at the loss of her warmth. Draco turned away from her and faced the Mirror of Erised. Her image smiled back at him once again taking the hand of his reflection. He wanted what he saw reflected back at him, but he was too afraid to grasp, too afraid to believe in it only to have it snatched away from him. "I can't."
Hermione watched as he gave the mirror one last long look before turning and making his way to the door. As he opened it he looked over his shoulder right at her and the sadness, the indecision, the hope for something more shining in his eyes made her heart ache for him. Before she could call him back he left the soft click of the door latching as it closed resonating throughout the almost empty room as the only reminder that he had been there.
Sighing in silent frustration Hermione turned back to the magical mirror of desire and peered into its glassy surface. She could still see Draco smiling back at her from the depths of the mirror. She watched as his reflection moved to stand behind her and she could almost swear that she felt him as he placed his arms around her reflection and gently laid his chin on her should all the while still smiling. As wrong as the portrait of them together seemed Hermione wanted what the mirror showed. It was then that she made the vow to herself…and to Draco.
I promise that I will be there for him, that I will chase away whatever darkness is in his soul and bring light back to his life.
Turning on her heel she left the Room of Requirement and the Mirror of Erised behind. She knew she would never return to view the contents of the mirror and speculate to the meaning behind it because she knew deep in her heart what it all meant. The mirror was there to show the user's truest desire and she had seen for herself what her heart truly wanted and she could either fight against what she had seen or she could embrace it and finally find the solace her own heart needed. Hermione choose to embrace it. She knew it was going to be a long road, that people were going to interfere, but in the end she would have what her heart wanted and her heart wanted Draco Malfoy.
Draco watched her from his place up against the castle wall as she made her way down towards the giant oaf's hut with Potter and Weasley. He had taken to watching her since that day in the Room of Requirement, her words echoing in his mind.
Tell me. Let me help you.
Because you're human. Everyone needs someone to talk to at some point or another.
Ever since that day he had warred with himself trying in vain to prevent himself from spilling his heart out to her. He had avoided her at all costs, keeping his eyes trained ahead in class when they were forced to work in close quarters, reverting to his cold sneering nature and insulting her, but she it didn't bother her or else she was good actor because she showed no sighs of it affecting her. She never said another word to him, but not once since then had she been her normal hostile self towards him. Her eyes seemed to plead with him, but as she ignored his insults and cruelty he ignored the calling abyss of her eyes.
Her presence called to him on a level like no other and he wanted to embrace the possibility that he could have more than he deserved, but he was afraid to grasp it, afraid that if he opened up to her, told her the truth that he was sure she had already deduced for herself in that know-it-all way of hers, that she would turn away from him. He had spent many a night locked away in the Room of Requirement gazing upon the images hidden away in his heart and it didn't want to give it the chance to shatter into a million fragmented pieces.
Shaking his head Draco cleared his mind of those melancholy thoughts as he realized that Hermione and her companions had disappeared inside of Hagrid's hut. He made quick work of covering the ground between where he had been and the closest window of the hut. He wanted to hear her voice if nothing else. Slipping silently up to the hut he crouched beneath a window and listened as the creaks of bodies settling into chairs ceased and voices filtered out through the partially open window.
"Hermione what has yeh all bothered? Yeh're unusually quiet."
"Oh it's nothing Hagrid. I just have a lot on my mind."
Silence filtered out and Draco strained his ears to hear more. Hagrid's chuckled boomed loudly rattling the glass of the window above his head.
"Seems to me as if yeh have a boy on yeh mind."
"What boy? Hermione you didn't tell us about any boy?" Ron sounded shocked and a hint of jealousy tinted his voice.
"What's it to you anyway Ron. You're so wrapped up in Lavender these days that even had I told you about anyone you wouldn't have heard me."
"She has a point you know."
Draco was silently enjoying the verbal gang up on the Weasley git. He had to agree with Hermione and Potter. Weasley was so wrapped up in that Brown girl that he wouldn't even notice if his own face was on fire.
"So Hermione yeh goin' to tell us who he is?"
Draco heard Hermione's sigh. "He's just a boy. It doesn't matter."
"Doesn' matter eh? I'd say that it does to have yeh all quiet and bothered like yeh are. I'd say that he was more than jus' some boy."
"You're right Hagrid. He isn't just some boy. He has a darkness about him, but I don't think that it's any of his doing. It's as if he fights it."
"When a wizard goes over to the dark side there's nothin', and no one matters to 'em anymore."
Draco winced at the truth in Hagrid's words, but what Hermione said next gave him hope.
"Are you saying that just because he seems dark that there isn't any hope for him? Hagrid we're all human and every single one of us has something or will have something dark to hide at some point. It's an imperfection, but it only proves that much more that we're human. No one is truly good just as no one is truly evil. There's always a spark of one or the other, whether it be darkness of light, in a person whether they want it there or not. Sometimes circumstances in a person's life are the very cause for the darkness that resides in their hearts."
Draco's thought of her words and in her tone he found nothing but truth and certainty. He wanted to believe what she had said; he wanted to believe it so badly that it made his heart ache.
"And jus' what do yeh plan on doin' Hermione?"
"When he's ready I'm going to be there for him."
"Hermione are you going to tell us who this guy is or not?"
Draco heard the shuffling of someone walking towards the window. He ducked down as low as could pressing his body up against the wall to keep from being seen. The creaking of the window alerted Draco to the fact that whoever was there had just flung the window wide open. It was then that he heard her voice directly above him, a hint of humor in her tone.
"Harry, I'm pretty certain that you'll have the answer to your question before too long." He had no warning before a flowering pot crashed atop his head. He bit back a shout of pain. "Oops sorry about your flower pot Hagrid. Anyway Harry until then you'll just have to trust that I know what I'm doing. I wouldn't have my heart so full of hope if he were to be a lost cause. Everyone deserves a second chance."
With her last words Draco heard the window shut overhead. His head smarting from the blow he took from the flowering pot he staggered a moment before silently slipping away back towards the castle. Despite the pain in his head he could help the thoughts that whirled with the maddening force of a hurricane within mind. Iwouldn'thavemyheartsofullofhopeifheweretobealostcause.Everyonedeservesasecondchance. She didn't see him as a lost cause and that made him rethink opening up to her. What could it possibly hurt in the end? The worst she could do was turn him away because even if she knew the truth, spread the words that he told her, not many people would believe her and even if they did they wouldn't speak out against the son of Lucius Malfoy out of fear that his father would make their lives hell.
Deciding on a course of action Draco hurried inside the castle he had just enough time to do what he needed to do before it was time for dinner. After the course was set in motion only time would be able to tell whether or not he would be able to let his heart reflect that which he had seen in the Mirror of Erised.
Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall with Harry and Ron listening to them go on and on about the up coming Quidditch match with Slytherin the next day. She could barely taste her food as she shoveled tiny bite of mince pie into her mouth. Her mind was on the fact that Draco had been listening outside Hagrid's hut while she, Harry and Ron had been down visiting. Whatwashedoingthere?Hadhefollowedme?
Her thoughts were interrupted by the screech of an owl. Looking up she saw a magnificent eagle own soaring gently towards her. Swooping down over her head it dropped a letter in front of her before making a swooping circle and flying out through one of the high windows of the Great Hall. Harry and Ron stopped their inane Quidditch chatter to gaze at the letter as she picked it up.
"Who's sending you post this late in the day Hermione?"
She cast Ron an annoyed look. "Well I wouldn't know that seeing as how I haven't opened the letter yet."
"Bloody hell Hermione there's no reason to go and bite my head off."
Hermione ignored him as she opened the letter and gazed at the sprawling handwritting. Angling the letter away from the nosy bending head of Ron she read the short to the point letter.
Midnight. Room of Requirement.
Think of me and the room will open to you.
There was no signature, but Hermione didn't need one to know who it was that had sent to owl. The meeting place was answer enough. Folding the letter she placed it in her bag that she had sat beside her before looking up to see Draco gazing at her. Giving a quick nod of her head to let him know that she would meet him she turned away.
"So who sent the letter?"
Hermione looked at Ron and she could see the ugly green monster of jealousy rearing its head in his eyes. Anger sparkled to life in her as she stood and glared down at him her voice booming through the Great Hall as everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at the spectacle. "It's none of business Ronald Weasley, but if you must know it was from him."
Frustration and annoyance were warring for dominance within her as she answered. "My man, that's who!"
With that she turned on her heel and left the Great Hall, but not before seeing the shocked and almost hopeful expression on Draco's face. Storming up the stairs Hermione fumed. WhodoeshethinkheisbeingjealousoversomeoneelsewhenhehasLavender?Stupidbloodygit!HechoseherandyetheactslikethiswhenIdecidetostopmooningoverhim.Hecan'tbewithherandstringmealong.I'vealreadydecidedwheremyheartliesandifhe'llhaveitit'sallhis. That brought her up short. Give Draco her heart? It was a foreign concept, but not one she found unwelcome. Smiling to herself she continued on towards the Gryffindor common room. Yes…ifhewantsit,thanmyheartishis.
It was nearing midnight and Hermione was growing anxious. The consequences, should she get caught out of bed after hours, could be dire, but she refused to miss this chance to see Draco. She had no idea why he had summoned her, but for whatever reason she would be there to meet him. Storming out of the girls' dormitory she raced down the steps to the common room and much to her relief she saw Harry sitting alone by the fire reading that wretched Potions book belonging to the as of then unknown Half-Blood Prince.
Harry turned at the sound of her approach and waited for her to speak too afraid to say anything to set her off as she had down at dinner. He was smart enough to know to stay off the receiving end of her temper, something Ron had yet to learn. When Hermione stood there nervously scuffing her toe against the stone flooring Harry raised a questioning brow. "What is it Hermione?"
Hermione knew she was fidgeting, but it was unlike her to want to break school rules without the aid of Harry and Ron. However this was something she had to do on her own, but the fear of getting caught was still warring within her. "I was wondering…"
Harry knew her well enough to know what was bothering her. "You want to borrow the invisibility cloak don't you?"
She let out a breath of relief as Harry spoke that which she had found too difficult to ask. "And the Marauder's Map too if it isn't too much trouble."
Her nerves were stretching thin and it wasn't helping that Harry just sat there staring at her. "You know Hermione it isn't like you to break school rules like this. Not without a good cause."
"But he is a good cause…at least to me he is. Harry he needs someone to be there for him…he needs me. Can't you just leave it at that for now?"
Harry reached behind him and pulled out the items of request. He had known all along that she would ask to use them. Handing them over, he gave her another questioning look before shaking his head. "I hope you now what you're doing Hermione."
Nodding her head she smiled. "I do don't worry about me so much. All will be revealed in good time. Trust in me Harry."
"I do trust you. It's this unknown guy with the dark secret that I have no trust in."
"Goodness can be found even in the darkest of hearts if one only remembers to look for it." Throwing the invisibility cloak around her she headed out of the portrait hole throwing a "Goodnight Harry" over her shoulder as she went.
Stepping lightly as to not wake the Fat Lady in the portrait that guarded Gryffindor tower Hermione made her way around a corner before she stopped and pulled out her want. Muttering Lumos she lit the tip of her wand and after unfolding the Marauder's Map she held her wand tip to its center. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Padfoot & Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
THE MARAUDER'S MAP
The map came to life as trails of ink spread across the parchment and began taking shape. Corridors and classroom came into view and Hermione quickly scanned it to make sure that there were no teachers out and about or any students with the sudden urge for a late night jaunt about the castle. Satisfied that everyone was where they should be she tapped the wand again and muttered, "Mischief managed."
The map went blank as the ink receded back into the voids of the parchment. Deciding that it would be best to make her way through the castle corridors by the light of the torches lining the walls she muttered, "Nox," and watched the lighted tip of her wand dim to darkness. Folding the map she stuffed it into the back pocket of the jeans she had changed into after dinner and pulled her shirt down to cover it.
Silently, stepping slowly to ease the sound of her foot falls, she made her way down several corridors before she made it to the blank expanse of wall that served to hide the Room of Requirement. She began pacing before her thoughts turning to Draco as she repeated the same thing over and over again.
I need the place where Draco waits. I need the place where Draco waits. I need the place where Draco waits.
After walking past the wall for the third time a door appeared. Glancing up and down the torch lit corridor, to make sure no one was close by, Hermione removed the invisibility cloak and stored it invisible sight up next to the door before she pushed her way into the room. The inside of the room was set differently from the last time she had been there, but the Mirror of Erised was still there reflecting the flickering flames from the fireplace on the opposite side of the room. She noticed Draco sitting in one of the two black leather chairs before the fire so she made her way over and took the other chair and waited nervously for him to acknowledge her.
Draco smothered the sigh of relief that threatened to force its way from him when Hermione had stepped through the door. Now that she was seated across from him he wondered if this had been a good idea after all. Regardless of her outburst at dinner and her sentiments at Hagrid's he still wasn't sure what she thought of him now and didn't want to give her any more reason to despise more than he knew she already did. No he had come this far and he wasn't going to be a coward and back out now. Bracing himself he lifted his eyes to hers. "You asked me what I saw in the mirror. What I saw in the Mirror of Erised was my one chance at redemption." He grew silent a minute as he studied her. Her focus was solely on him so he continued. "Maybe even my one chance at happiness."
His words were cryptic at best, but Hermione wasn't going to push him. She would let him talk and tell her what he would at his own pace. Nodding she let him know that she was listening.
"I don't know why you even care, but the fact that you do…well I guess I just need to talk to someone…anyone."
"What is it that troubles you Draco?"
Again the sound of his name spilling from her lips was a sound that to Draco seemed right. "I don't want the life my parents have mapped out for me. I don't want to have to be what they want me to be…what they expect me to be."
Hermione instantly understood. "You don't want to follow in their footsteps."
"No." Draco grew quiet again steeling his resolve. This was going to be the hardest thing to have to tell her. "After my father failed to retrieve the prophecy last year from the Department of Mysteries and landed himself in Azkaban the Dark Lord was furious. My father was…is one of highest ranking followers and once he was imprisoned the Dark Lord set his sights on me. He infiltrated our home and set up Headquarters there and it was then that I was given my task and…" He gazed at her and saw that her eyes were wide, but there wasn't shock in those warm brown depths. He knew that she had known something of the like had occurred. "I received the mark."
Hermione watched as Draco pulled his forest green sweater over his head and rolled up the sleeve of his white button down shirt. There upon the pale flesh of his forearm was the Dark Mark. She didn't think as she reached out and ran her hand across the evil etching of evil on his arm. "Oh no!" She looked away from the mark to gaze back up into his eyes. "And your task?"
"To circumvent the school's security and kill Dumbledore. If I fail in my task he will force me to watch as he kills my entire family."
It finally all made sense to Hermione, all the weird events that had been happening, Draco's disappearances, everything. "You've been behind everything."
Shame filtered into his gaze as he looked at her. "Yes. Fortunately nothing seems to be going right. I don't want to be doing this. I don't want any part of the Dark Lord's schemes to kill Potter. I just want to live happily, normally like everyone else. I don't want to have to fear my every waking moment and even my nightmares are completely consumed by the Dark Lord."
Hermione felt icy fingers of dread skate down her spine at what Draco was confessing to. Even though she and the other had deduced something of the like hearing it come from straight from the source was terrifying. She had mentally prepared herself all night for the possibility that he would tell her this, but still she found herself unprepared for the magnitude of his confession. "Does Dumbledore know?" Draco shook his head. "You have to tell him. He can offer you sanctuary. Under his protection Voldemort can't harm you."
"What good does telling him do? Did you not hear me when I said that if I fail he will kill my family?"
"I'm certain that Dumbledore would find a way to keep them safe as well. Have faith in him."
Draco studied her. She seemed so certain of Dumbledore, but she had always held the Headmaster in high regard as did everyone else. "You have too much faith in the goodness of people. After everything that I have done I don't see a reason for Dumbledore to give quarter to me or my parents."
She felt annoyance flicker to life as he sat there so convinced that he was not helpable. "You put too much stock in the bad," she retorted. "You've made mistakes, but you're only human. We all make them. Dumbledore will look past them in the face of what you tell him."
Draco stood and wandered towards one of the tall floor to ceiling windows adorning one wall of the room. Snow was gently falling coating the grounds in a blanket of white. The pureness of it was in complete contrast to the taint he felt of his person. He heard Hermione step up to stand beside him. With his gaze still on the falling snow he asked, "Did you mean what you told Hagrid? That you think that everyone deserves a second chance? Do you really feel as if I'm not a lost cause?"
She had known that it was him who had eavesdropped outside Hagrid's window that afternoon. "I wouldn't be here if I thought otherwise." She gazed up at him, but he didn't turn away from the window. "Will you at least think about telling the Headmaster?"
Draco nodded. Another thought occurred to him. "What did you mean when you told Weasley that the letter was from your man?"
Hermione felt her face grow warm as a blush stained her cheeks. "Oh you heard that?"
"I think everyone in the Great Hall heard you yelling it."
She gave an unladylike snort. "I didn't yell it and besides it was really none of his business. I can receive post from whomever I want."
She turned away from him and walked over to the mirror. Standing before it she welcomed the sight of Draco's reflection as he stared back at her with that happy smile she wished so desperately to help give him. She felt warmth at her back as Draco came to stand behind her to gaze into the mirror. She wondered about his cryptic words from when he told her what he saw in its glassy surface. "You and he are having it out over that obnoxious Brown girl I take it."
Snapping her head back to look at him over her shoulder she pinned him with a look. "How did you know that?"
"It's pretty obvious and if people didn't see it before then after your outburst today it'll register."
Hermione felt her cheeks heat further and she was pretty sure that she was giving the Gryffindor color of crimson a good run for its money. "Be that as it may it doesn't matter now."
"You sure about that?"
She gave him a glare that could have melted the ice forming outside the windows of the Room of Requirement. "Positive. I know now that he isn't what my heart truly desires."
"Than I suppose someone else is? I take it the Mirror of Erised showed you the one your heart sought most?"
Turning back to the mirror Hermione stared at both Draco and his mirrored reflection. "Yes."
Draco put a hand on Hermione's shoulder and she shivered beneath his touch. "Cold?"
Hermione knew Draco was aware that her shiver wasn't from being cold, but she wasn't going to confess that he made her nervous…in a good way. Despite everything he had told her she still wanted to give her heart away to him. "Y-yes."
Draco moved away from her only long enough to grab the sweater he had discarded earlier. Standing behind her once again he handed his sweater passed it to her over her shoulder. "Did you not think to bring a cloak?"
Pulling the sweater over her head and tugging it into place she shook her head. She couldn't tell him about Harry's invisibility cloak without fear of Harry finding out she had revealed one of his most treasured secrets. "No. I wasn't really thinking about it to be honest."
Silence fell over them like a veil as they both stared into the mirror each lost in their own thoughts. Hermione was grateful that he didn't press her about what she had seen in the mirror. It wasn't that she didn't want to tell him, but she knew that now was not the time to reveal the truth. She would wait until the moment was right before she told him. In the distance Hermione heard the chiming of a clock striking the late hour of three in the morning. "It's getting late. We should head back to our rooms. You have your last Quidditch match tomorrow so you should probably get some sleep."
Hermione waited, but Draco didn't say anything. He just continued to look into as if he saw his entire life reflected there. Turning she touched his arm lightly and his eyes moved to hers. "What?"
"I said we should probably go and get some sleep. You have to be rest for the Quidditch Match tomorrow."
His eyes looked far away and she wondered where in his mind he was, what thoughts were plaguing him in that moment. Figuring that he had revealed enough for one night Hermione left it alone. Looking away from him she glanced down and sighed quietly. As much as she hated to do it she would need to give him his sweater back. Inhaling deep she let his scent tease her nose. A mix of sandalwood and something spicy that was wholly Draco assaulted her senses and a wave of comfort through her. Sighing again she crossed her arms down at the hem of his and made to pull it off when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Glancing up she saw Draco shaking his head.
"Keep it. It's cold in the corridors so you'll need it."
She nodded and took a step as if to leave. Stopping she glanced at him again and her twisted at the sight of the loneliness in his face. Before she could stop herself she faced him again and without a seconds hesitation she wrapped her arms around him. Draco stiffened for a minute before his body relaxed in her embrace. After a short moment Hermione felt his arms encircle her. Laying her head against his chest she could hear his heart beating fast and erratic as if whatever his thoughts were frightened him. But as she continued to hold him its rhythm turned calm and steady. Smiling to herself she let herself enjoy the feel of another's body so near to hers.
He could feel her warmth filling him, wrapping around him and chasing the chill of his dark and desolate thoughts away. It was if in her embrace everything else didn't matter. Never would he had thought that he would find such comfort in the arms of the one girl he had despised for the first five years of his time at Hogwarts, but here he was holding on to her as if she were his lifeline. He didn't want to let her go, didn't want to watch her walk away, but instead wanted to keep her here with him. However he knew that he had to release her. He could hear her breathing calm and growing deeper by the second. Draco knew it wouldn't do good to let her succumb to slumber standing there. Reluctantly he eased away from her and gazed into her eyes.
Hermione hated that Draco was pulling away, but she knew it wasn't emotionally, that it didn't mean that he was done with her. No he was simply letting her go so she could return to her room to sleep. Smiling at him she moved around him and walked towards the door. Turning back with her hand on the knob she said, "Goodnight Draco."
She watched as a small smile teased at the corners of his lips and her heart fluttered at the innocence of it. Her smile beamed brighter at the sight and she nodded once before opening the door. She as she was closing it behind her she heard him whisper, "Goodnight…Hermione."
Her name was filled with warmth and longing as it reached her ears and smiling to herself she let it light a flame within her that she knew would flicker and grow as they continued to learn each other, but even considering the long road ahead for them she didn't care anymore than she cared what any others would think. Her smiling growing she grabbed the invisibility cloak from where she had stashed it and wrapped herself in it. Not caring whether or not anyone else was around she headed off to bed with thoughts of Draco swirling in her head.
When Hermione emerged from the castle it was to find Harry and Ron waiting for her outside the Quidditch Pitch. She gave them a brilliant smile as she closed the distance between them. "Beautiful morning isn't it?"
Ron gave her a look that stated plainly that he thought she was crazy mad. "Hermione it's cold and snowing. There's nothing beautiful about it."
"Maybe not to you Ron, but to me it's magnificent."
Ron was about to retort, but Harry, seeing Hermione's happy expression, elbowed Ron to keep him quiet. "Did everything go okay last night?"
"Oh yes! I had a nice time. I learned more about him than I thought I would and at first I didn't think I'd be able to handle the truth, but after spending some times with him I think that everything will be okay now." She beamed a smile at Harry. "Thank you for letting me use your cloak and the map. I took the liberty of stowing them in your trunk before I came down."
Harry nodded as the sound of a whistle shrilled through the cold winter air. "We better get going. The match is about to begin."
A sudden gust of wind whipped Hermione's cloak away from her body and Ron got a good look at the green sweater with the elaborate embroidered 'M' on the upper right side of her chest that she wore underneath. "Where did you get that sweater Hermione? People are going to think your cheering for Slytherin in that thing."
She looked down at Draco's sweater and smiled as the wind sent his scent up to tease her nose. She didn't have to answer to Ron and so as to not cause another argument she simply smiled and motioned her head towards the pitch were players in crimson and green could be seen filing in. "You two better hurry along."
Harry noticed that Hermione avoided the Ron's question, but for now he had to get his head in the game and beat Slytherin at the patch. If he caught the Snitch then he would win Gryffindor the Quidditch Cup. Sparing Hermione one last look he ushered Ron through the arched tunnel and out onto the field.
Hermione watched them go and when they disappeared from sight she made her way up into the stands. Scanning the pitch she spotted Draco among the players and when he turned and caught her eye her breath caught in a puff of air visible in the coldness of the day. He gave her a brief nod before turning back to face Madame Hooch as she exclaimed that she wanted and 'nice clean game' as was usual for her pregame talk.
At the sound of the whistle the players mounted their brooms and kicked up into the sky. Once Madame Hooch tossed the Quaffle up the game began. Hermione ignored the game keeping her eyes solely on Draco as he weaved in and out of players looking for Snitch. She nearly shrieked when one of the Gryffindor Beaters sent a Bludger directly at Malfoy. He dodged it and Hermione let out a sigh of relief.
She looked up towards the posts to see Ron keeping guard as the Gryffindor Seeker. Even as he kept one eye on the game he kept another on her and Ron knew that she saw him watching her. Giving him a wave she turned her eyes away to search out Draco again amongst the throng of players. After several sweeps along the pitch she spotted him and Harry flying side by side in a race to capture the golden Snitch that hovered above the Slytherin goal posts. Just as Draco reached out to grasp the fluttering inches from his fingertips Harry gave a small burst of speed and captured the tiny gold ball just as Draco's hand closed around empty air.
The Gryffindors and all others there supporting them erupted in cheers that mixed with the moans and boos of the Slytherin supporters from across the pitch. Hermione stayed silent as she watched Draco land and dismount. She followed the others out onto the pitch, but Draco was nowhere in sight when she stepped out onto the snow covered playing field. She whirled around intending to begin her search for him when she ran right into the broad chest of Ron.
His face wasn't a happy one when he looked down at her. "Do you want to tell me just why it was you were watching Malfoy throughout the game?"
Hermione glared at him anger evident in her eyes. "Who I watch is none of your business Ron."
"What has gotten into you Hermione? Consorting with the enemy/"
"Consorting with the enemy?"
"It's Malfoy and he's…"
"Human. Just like you and me." She pointed an accusing finger at him. "You would do well to look beyond a person's cover before you start judging them Ronald Weasley."
With that Hermione turned on her heel and walked away leaving a gaping Ron staring after her as Harry approached him. "What has gotten into her Harry?"
Harry watched Hermione's treating back, but didn't reply. He had too noticed Hermione watching Malfoy throughout the game, but he didn't understand what she was on about. Knowing Hermione as he did he knew she probably had her reasons, but it was those unknown reasons that bothered him. Something niggled in the back of his mind, something that he should know, but couldn't place just what that was. Shaking his head he grasped Ron's shoulder in a friendly gesture. "I don't know mate, but whatever it is I'm sure there's a reason behind it. Hermione never does anything without a good reason behind it. Give it time and she'll tell us. Until then I think it best if you just left her alone for a bit." Turning to Ron he grinned. "I don't think you want to be on the receiving in of her ire. Remember what happened to Malfoy in our Third Year? Hermione may be gentle in nature, but when you raise her anger she has one wicked punch."
Ron mutely nodded as Hermione disappeared from view. He didn't know what was going on, but what he did know was that it all had to do with Malfoy. Hermione and Mallfoy? The thought made Ron shudder. Shaking his head in disgust as the thought took root and refused to leave he followed a now retreating Harry from the Quidditch pitch.
Several days later Hermione sat, in the Great Hall, talking with Harry and Ron when Katie Bell came bounding in. In all of the confusion with Draco she had completely forgotten the attack on the Gryffindor girl during their last trip to Hogsmeade. Her thoughts wandered back to the afternoon when she, Harry and Ron had been heading back to the school to see Katie suddenly fly into the sky. A curse…that's what had caused it. She had been given a necklace while in the village and somehow along the way back to the school she had touched it and the curse hit her. Since then Katie had been in the hospital wing recovering. Now it looked as if she was well and recovered.
Harry stood up and chased after her and Hermione watched. She couldn't hear their conversation from her place over the chatter of the other students, but she did hear the halting footsteps that stopped right in front of table. Turning away from Katie and Harry she gazed at Draco as he stared at the still talking pair. Then it clicked. Draco was the one who had given Katie the cursed necklace.
Hermione turned her eyes back to Harry just in time to see him face Draco. Whipping her head back to him she made to call out to him as he turned and quickly left the Great Hall. Harry rushed after him not even giving her time to stop him. All she could do was sit there watching as he stormed after Draco. Deciding she had to stop Harry before he got to Draco she got up and followed leaving Ron alone shaking his head.
Harry followed Malfoy into the girls' bathroom keeping well into the shadows of the entrance as he watched Malfoy pull off his vest and stare into the mirror. He could hear sounds coming from him and after several moments it registered that Malfoy was crying. Stepping out of the shadows he slowly approached him and when Malfoy turned around, eyes wide and nostrils flaring, Harry leveled his stare to his and accused, "I know what you did Malfoy. You handed it to her didn't you?"
Draco didn't answer him, didn't even think as he whipped out his wand and sent a jinx flying towards Potter. He didn't want to dual him, he didn't even want to see him as the guilt pulsed through him over hurting a fellow classmate and fear warred with the guilt over the fact that he had failed in his first attempt to kill the Headmaster. He was only thankful that Katie Bell didn't remember anything. He had overheard her telling Potter as much.
He dove out of the way as Potter sent a counter-jinx at him and it crashed into the sink where he had been standing a second before. Water jutted out from the shattered sink and began flooding the bathroom floor. He waited for Potter to make another move.
Harry glanced around the wall he had been hiding behind and didn't see Malfoy. Cautiously he went to his knees and peered under the stalls just in time for Malfoy to send another attack at him. He dove just in time to miss it as scrambled to his feet to chase after Malfoy.
Draco didn't have time to counter Potter's next attack as he bellowed "Sectumsempra." White hot pain erupted in his chest as he went crashing to the floor blood pouring from the wounds. He lay there in the flooding bathroom thinking surely he was going to die when he heard footsteps rushing towards him. With his eyes closed against the pain he didn't see who it was, but Snape's voice filtered through the cloudy dimness of his mind.
Harry could only stare at the ruined chest of Malfoy. Snape was bent over him muttering something as he ran the tip of his wand against the lacerations adorning Malfoy's tattered bloody shirt. Horrified at the carnage he had caused hair turned on his heel and quickly left the bathroom and the terrifying sight behind. As he passed through the doorway he collided with a warm solid body.
"Harry what did you do?"
Harry heard the panic in Hermione's voice, but he was spared from answering when Snape emerged carrying Malfoy in his arms. Hermione took one look at damaged boy and turned hurt, angry eyes on him. Harry turned his gaze away from hers to look at the professor he hated above all others. Snape curled his lip at him. "Potter, Granger I would suggest that you returned to your common room." When neither of them made a move he narrowed his eyes. "Now!"
Hermione had returned her gaze to Draco and her temper died down in the face of the mess that Harry had made of him. It looked as if Snape had patched him up, but he still looked pale. Coming to a decision she turned her eyes to Snape and leveled him with a look. "I'm coming with you."
"Granger I hardly see the point…"
Hermione held up a hand to interrupt him. "I assume you're taking him to the hospital wing professor?"
Snape didn't answer her. Instead he strolled past them and headed towards the hospital wing. Hermione spared Harry a look before following after Snape. Harry watched as they made their way and deciding that he finally needed to get some answers from Hermione he too followed.
After seeing that Draco was properly tended to Hermione rounded on Harry who had stood silently back from the happenings. "Just what possessed you to attack him Harry?"
"Now hold on Hermione! He started the dual."
"Be that as it may you shouldn't have done what you did. Look at him!"
Harry didn't need to look at the Draco to know that he still looked bad. "Hermione he was the one who gave the necklace to Katie. He's the enemy or have you forgotten?"
Herimone leveled a glare at her best friend. "He is no more the enemy than you or I. Did you ever stop to think that he's just another person caught up in this whole mess, that Voldemort has just as much control over him as he does anyone else?"
She was defending Malfoy? "Hold on…he's the boy you went to see the other night isn't he?"
"As it so happens he was and I can tell you Harry that things are not what you think they are. There's a reason for everything that he's had to do."
The shock of it all ran through Harry, but he now had the evidence he needed to convince the Headmaster that it really was Malfoy who had been causing all the trouble. "We need to go see Dumbledore. We need to tell him that it was Malfoy."
Hermione shook her head sadly at her friend. "No Harry. I can't let you do that. Can you honestly condemn an innocent person for the acts he was forced to commit by Voldemort? He's just another victim!"
She turned on her heel and made to leave, but Harry rushed forward and grabbed her arm. "Wait! Where are you going?"
"I'm going to go speak to Dumbledore on his behalf. I'm going to do what Draco is too frightened to do. If Dumbledore believes me then I can make sure that Draco and his parents are protected."
"But Hermione they're Death Eaters!"
Hermione gave him an impatient look. "Harry it's out of fear. Every single one of those Death Eaters believe they're safe from Voldemort's wrath as long as they serve him. Not everyone can be like you and stand tall in the face of danger."
"So you're telling me Bellatrix Lestrange is scared of her percious Dark Lord?"
Hermione shrugged. "Well there are always exceptions as you well know."
When she eased out of his grasp and turned to leave Harry didn't stop her. He watched her leave and giving Malfoy one last long look he followed suit. He had a lot to think about. Maybe Hermione was right or maybe she was placing faith in the wrong person. Either way Harry knew he'd watch out for her.
Hermione sat in front of the large ornate desk as Dumbledore studied her. He hadn't said anything since she had told him everything that she knew, everything that Draco had said and she was fearing that perhaps this hadn't been such a smart idea. Finally the Headmaster smiled at her, his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon glasses.
"Miss Granger, am I to assume correctly that you believe our young Mister Malfoy? That there is no doubt whatsoever in your mind that what he says is nothing but the truth?"
"Yes sir. I believe Draco completely."
Dumbledore studied her and Hermione had the sudden urge to squirm under his scrutiny. "Might I inquiry as to what brought on your change of heart? If I am not mistaken Draco has been a rival to yourself as well as to Harry and Mister Weasley."
"The Mirror of Erised." Hermione was certain that he knew this already. There wasn't anything that happened at Hogwarts that Dumbledore wasn't aware of. "I saw myself happy with Draco."
"And so you wished to embrace the image projected there, is that correct Miss Granger?"
"Well yes sir, but…"
Dumbledore held up a hand to stop her. "Do not fear that I doubt you. I am quite glad that someone has taken a positive interest in Draco. I have been aware of his activities from the very beginning so you bring me no surprises." His eyes twinkled even more. "You would do well to be cautioned Miss Granger that many a man had come to ruin sitting before that mirror. The Mirror of Erised shows us not what we want the most, but what our hearts truly desire. It's nothing more than a mirror image of our inner most dreams."
"I understand professor, but I also know that dreams mean nothing unless you are brave enough to reach out and grasp them."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Very well spoken. I would expect you to be wise enough to understand."
"Thank you, but that aside, are you going to help Draco and his parents?"
He studied her for several long minutes before he folded his hands and placed them on his desk. "Miss Granger there are events in the making that are not avoidable…however I will make certain that Mister Malfoy and his parents are well guarded. I will personally go and retrieve Lucius Malfoy and his wife and bring them here to see their son before I place them in a safe house."
Hermione stood and beamed a relieved smile at the Headmaster. "Thank you sir!"
Dumbledore chuckled again before waving his hand towards the door. "I expect that you will be wanting to return to Mister Malfoy's side if I'm not mistaken." At Hermione's nod and he smiled. "Then return Miss Granger knowing that the Malfoys will be safe. I suspect that Draco would like a spot of good news when he awakens."
Hermione nodded her agreement and left the Headmaster beaming after her. Dumbledore turned to the phoenix perched next to his desk. "Fawkes it is an amazing thing indeed if someone like Miss Granger can forgive the wrong doings of someone who she had only ever seen as an enemy. It gives me hope that others might one day do the same."
His only was the phoenix's soft trill as he inclined his head. Dumbledore stood and in an instant vanished in ways only he, as Headmaster, knew how.
Truthful to his word, when Hermione returned to Draco's side Dumbledore had already arrived with his parents. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy paid her no mind as she approached Draco's bedside and settled into a vacant seat. Narcissa held one of her son's pale hands while Lucius whispered in urgent tones with Dumbledore, his eyes darting all around most likely expecting to be caught outside of Azkaban.
Hermione studied Lucius Malfoy closely. It was the first time that she had really paid him any mind since seeing him last at the Quidditch World Cup two years prior. He was a cold hard looking man, his entire demeanor screaming of his Aristocratic nature despite having been locked away in prison. Draco resembled him almost exactly, but where she had always seen an icy exterior as well as a matching interior she knew that Draco held a innocent warmth that his father did not possess.
A quiet sniff drew her attention to Draco's mother and Hermione noticed that like his father there was an air of iciness that surrounded her, but unlike Lucius she could tell that Narcissa Malfoy held a spark of warmth, she could see it in her eyes as she gazed worriedly at her son. Mrs. Malfoy was a beautiful woman in her own right and even though stress and worry had marred her pretty face with lines and wrinkles she still possessed the beautiful quiet strength of a high bred woman.
Hearing hear name spoken in a strangled whisper made tears pool in her eyes as she gazed upon the pale boy. "I'm here Draco. Everything is going to be okay now."
Lucius snapped his head towards the softly spoken words and set eyes on the Mudblood girl. "Headmaster what is the meaning of this? Why is this…girl here?"
Dumbledore leveled an even stare at Lucius. "Miss Granger has brought to my attention the events that have been going on here at Hogwarts. Although I was quite aware for some time as to Draco's activities I nonetheless turned a blind eye until Miss Granger came to me today and asked that I give the three of you sanctuary."
Mr. Malfoy drew himself up proud and arrogant. "We do not need the assistance of Mudbloods."
"I will not have the use of such a derogatory word in my presence Lucius." Dumbledore's tone was calm, but firm in its standing. "Furthermore if not for Miss Granger here you, yourself, would still be locked inside Azkaban prison awaiting the aid of Lord Voldemort. Be thankful to her that you no longer have to fear the Dark Lord's interference in the life of your family."
Hermione wanted to smile at the Headmaster as she gazed at Lucius Malfoy. She could see the disgust in his eyes when he looked at her and strangely she found that she didn't care what she thought. A hand grasped hers tightly and she looked down to find Draco holding on to her. She gave him a small smile and he mustered up a smile of his own before he cleared his throat and turned to his father. "You will not speak about Hermione like some filthy breed Father."
"Draco surely you can not mean to like this Mud-" He stopped himself when Dumbledore gave a distracting cough. "I mean muggle-born girl."
Lucius remembered well the first time he met the muggle-born girl. It had been in Diagon Alley fours years before when he had slipped that cursed diary into the Weasley girl's cauldron. Miss Granger had had a certain fire about her that he couldn't help but to respect even if it was rather grudgingly. Draco had talked about the girl all the break before and it had made him rather curious as to what sort of girl could have captured his son's attention so raptly. Back then he had thought it merely disgust at her filthy blood status, but not seeing Draco holding the muggle-born's hands he was forced to rethink that theory.
Draco kept his eyes trained solely on his father as Lucius stood there studying him. "Yes Father I do like Hermione." Then, to the surprise of everyone in the room, he said, "There's more to her than the status of her blood."
"Draco! I will not tolerate—"
"Father if not for her you would still be under lock and key! She went above and beyond what anyone else would have down. Considering who her friends are and where her loyalty lays, you should consider yourself luckily that she a forgiving heart. Need you be reminded that she knows what you are, that she knows who it is that you have followed for years? By all rights she should despise all of us!"
Lucius could only stare at his son. Never had Draco spoken so out of turn with him. His son had always been a whiney conniving boy, but he was now defending that which he was taught to despise. Sometime during the last several months away from home his son had grown a backbone and it seemed as if…and he hated to admit it…that Draco had fallen in love. He could see it clearly spoken in his eyes, in the tightening of his hand grasping hers.
"No son of mine will be seen consorting with the likes of someone with filthy blood! I will not allow it!"
Draco glared at his father, his eyes full of anger. "Then I denounce you as my father. I will not be dictated to as to whom I am allowed to see."
Lucius was about to retort when his wife stepped away from Draco's side and clutched his arm. "Lucius stop this. He is our son and thanks to this girl we have been given a second chance. Let us not waste it by losing our son! If this is the path that he has chosen then there is nothing that we can say to deter him. He has grown into a fine man who is old enough to make his own choices. Let it lie."
"Wiser words have never been spoken Narcissa." Dumbledore gave Mrs. Malfoy a grateful twinkle of his eyes. "Now let us be off so young Draco here can rest. I suspect that he is in good hands with Miss Granger here." Turning to Hermione he said, "Tell Mister Potter that he is to meet me in my office after dinner. He will understand the importance of this request."
The knowing look in his eyes told Hermione all she needed to know. Nodding her head in understanding she breathed a sigh of relief when he took hold of Draco's parents and vanished from sight. Turning to Draco she saw the questioning looking he gave her. She decided then that she would tell him what she knew. It was only fair in the face of everything he had told her.
"Dumbledore has been searching for what is known as a horcrux."
"And just what is a horcrux?"
"It's some of the darkest magic there is. It's an item that holds a fraction of a person's soul. Dumbledore thinks that Voldemort has fractured his soul into pieces and hidden them away into items that he deemed important. Already he has found two of them. One was the diary that your father gave to Ginny and the second being a ring that Harry said belonged to an ancestor of Voldemorts. Harry destroyed the diary back when he fought the memory of Tom Riddle in the Chamber of Secrets and Dumbledore found a way to destroy the ring. It was cursed and that curse caused him harm. Didn't you see the way his hand was shriveled?"
Draco nodded. "So Dumbledore thinks he has found another and plans to take Potter with him this time?"
"Yes." Draco looked frightened. "What is it?"
"The Vanishing Cabinet…"
Hermione knew about the one in Borgin and Burkes and had like all the others suspected that there was a twin cabinet. "There's a Vanishing Cabinet here in the castle isn't there? That's what you've been doing all this year."
"I found a way to bring the Death Eater's into the castle. Tonight is the night that they were supposed to enter the castle. You have to let Potter know."
Hermione felt panic rise at what Draco had just admitted. He was right she had to let Harry know immediately. The sound of a door opening pulled her from her thoughts and when she turned to see who had entered she was relieved to see that it was Harry. His arrival sure made things interesting. However, behind him stood Ron and that could complicate matters a bit.
Harry strolled over to Malfoy's bedside and studied him. His eyes didn't miss the sight of the Slytherin holding the hand of his best friend and by the gasp he heard beside him he knew Ron hadn't missed it either. Ron took a step forward hatred evident in his eyes as he glared at Malfoy. "Let go of her Malfoy."
"Ron stop it! He's on side."
"How can you say that Hermione? This is Malfoy we're talking about here. The same Malfoy that calls you a Mudblood."
Harry stepped between his warring friends. "This is not the time to be fighting amongst ourselves."
"Harry's right Ron." Turning to Harry Hermione said, "Dumbledore wants you to meet him in his office after dinner."
Harry understood immediately. "Right then."
He turned to leave but Hermione grabbed his arm. "Harry that's not all."
"What do you mean?"
Harry grew impatient as Hermione looked back at Draco who nodded and sat up. "Potter everything you have discovered this year has been true. Yes I gave that Bell girl the necklace and it was I who laced the mead that Slughorn had."
"What are you getting at Malfoy?"
Draco gave him an impatient look. "Tonight the Death Eaters will be coming through the Vanishing Cabinet in Borgin and Burkes to the one that I fixed here in the castle."
Ron stepped up close to the bed. "Why are you telling us this Malfoy? What's in it for you?"
"Honestly Ronald can't you just accept that he's trying to help?"
"I will not Hermione. I don't trust him."
Hermione sighed loudly in frustration. "Well I do." Turning to Harry she said, "You need to prepare as many people as you can before you leave with Dumbledore. We can not leave the castle undefended while the Headmaster is away."
"What are you going to do Hermione?"
"I'm going to stay here with Draco. Leave me your cloak. I won't let the Death Eater's take him."
Ron reached out and grabbed her arm trying to pull her away from Draco. "Hermione—"
"No Ron. Don't! I'm staying here."
"But why? Why Malfoy?"
"Just because it took you years to realize I was a girl doesn't mean it was the same for everyone else. No matter what you say I'm not leaving his side. I found what my heart desires and I'm going to protect it."
Hermione turned away effectively putting an end to the conversation. Without another word Ron left. Harry studied Malfoy trying to find some reason to believe he was lying, but in his eyes, for once, Harry saw only truth there. Giving a nod he followed Ron leaving Hermione and Draco alone.
"They don't like me."
Hermione laughed, she couldn't help it. Draco stated that so matter-of-factly that for some reason she found it funny. "Give them time Draco. If anything they are forgiving people. It may take time, but when they see the same truth in you as I do then they will forgive you."
Draco lay back down against his pillow and fell silent. Hermione took his hand once again and sat on the bed beside him lost in thought. Finally Draco tugged against her hold and she pulled her thoughts back to him. "What is it?"
He swallowed. He knew he needed to apologize to her for everything in the past. Now was the perfect time. Draco didn't know if, after tonight, he would get another chance. "I'm sorry about everything Hermione."
"It doesn't matter. It's all in the past. Let's just leave it there and focus on getting through tonight so we can think about what comes tomorrow."
"Will you tell me what you saw in the mirror?"
"Only if you tell me what it was that you saw?"
Draco smiled at her. "I don't have to tell you Hermione. You already know."
"Just as you should know. I'm looking at the reality of the image I saw."
Both fell silent as the contemplated the miracle that had occurred all because of a reflecting glass. The Mirror of Erised had done what none other had ever achieved. It had brought together a Gryffindor and a Slytherin, something that in the long years of the past was unheard of. It was the dawning of a new beginning…or it would be if they could get through the coming night.
Invisible beneath the cloak Hermione and Draco listened as the screams reached fevered pitch about the castle. They echoed off the stone wall and mingled with the triumphant cheers of the Death Eater's as the announced the death of Albus Dumbledore. Even as tears streaked down her face Hermione kept quiet as Draco held her hand and tried to soothe her.
All at once the noise ceased and silence descended around the castle. Hermione could feel panic rise as she heard the door to the hospital wing open and a shaft of light appeared. Her and Draco held their breath as Bellatrix Lestrange bounced into the room. "Draco dear where are? Come out come out where ever you are."
Her laughter echoed in the silent room maniacal and frightening as she drew closer and closer to their hiding spot. Breaths held they kept as still as possible as she stopped right in front of them. Just then Hermione's hair tickled her nose and she sneezed. Bellatrix whipped her head around and stared in their direction. "I know you're hear Draco. Severus was so nice as to tell me of your injury. You can't hide from your dear auntie Bella."
Draco leaned in close and whispered into Hermione's ear. "When I toss the cloak run. I'll hold her off until you escape. I'll meet you beneath the tower where Dumbledore fell."
"Trust me Hermione."
Hermione nodded and held her breath. Draco reached beneath him and pulled out his wand. Giving her one last look his pulled the cloak and revealed them to the vile woman who was his aunt. "NOW! Hermione run!"
She did as Draco commanded. She didn't stop to look back, but continued to run. The castle was silent and the shadows cast by the torches adorning the wall twisted into grotesque shapes. There was no one else around and the only sounds Hermione could hear was her rapid footfalls and the wild beating of her heart as she raced down the staircases and out the door into the night.
She spotted Harry amongst the throng of people gathered around the tower. Pushing through them she knelt at his side as her eyes took in the sight of Dumbledore's lifeless body before her. Tears fell anew as she let the impact of his death seep into her mind and take root. Dumbledore, the strongest wizard known, had been slain. Turning her eyes away from the sad sight she turned to Harry. "Who did it Harry?"
He looked at her and she could see the pain that the Headmaster's death had caused him. "It was Snape. Dumbledore pleaded with him and Snape killed him. He trusted him Hermione."
"Oh Harry I know he did. You knew all along that Snape couldn't be trusted."
Hermione felt arms enclose around her and she glanced over her shoulder at Draco. He lifted his hands long enough to wipe away her tears before he pulled her against his chest where she held on willing the horrors of the night away. She didn't care that everyone saw the two of them together, didn't care about the whispers circulating amongst her classmates nor did she care about the surprised looks from the surrounding teachers. All she did care about was the comfort she found in his arms.
The day was clear and sunny as they laid Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore to rest in a magnificent white stone tomb upon the school grounds. Every student and teacher was in attendance as they gathered around to say their final goodbyes to the much loved and respected Headmaster. In the back, far from the eyes of the other's, stood four people looking on at the scene before them.
Harry turned to the three beside him and his two best friends could see the determination in his eyes. "I'm going to finish what Dumbledore started. I'm going to find the other Horcruxes."
Hermione smiled a sad smile as Ron took a hold of Harry's shoulder. "I'm with you mate. You won't have to do it alone."
"I can't ask you to put yourselves in danger because of me."
"Don't be so thick Harry. You need us."
"Ron's right Harry. We won't let you do this alone." Hermione saw Draco nod. "We'll be with you until the very end."
Harry looked at the three before him. He knew nothing that he would say would stop Ron and Hermione and he knew, though he was loathed to admit it, that Malfoy would protect Hermione in the dangers to come. Finally he nodded and the three of them left the gathering and didn't look back.
For now they would enjoy what little time they had left at Hogwarts before the break began because when the new school term started they would not be among those getting off the Hogwarts Express to venture to the school. No they would be beginning their journey to find the remaining horcruxes and putting an end to the Dark Lord once and for all. They had a long road ahead of them. One that would test the trials of trust and friendship as they grew together as a team and for two of them, who had found their hearts' desires in the Mirror of Erised, it would be a quest not only to find the horcruxes, but to love one another as the dangers mounted and fate became a twisted master.
Alright here we go; another Harry Potter fic complete. I don't know whether there will be a sequel or not, but until that decision is made I hope you enjoyed this story of love between two very unlikely people. Thank you for reading. Please review.