~ In Another Life ~
Chapter 1 – Fairy Dust
Quick Note: I do not own anything from the wonderful world of Harry Potter by JK Rowling.
Hogwart's Grounds – 11/13/1998
"This is all your bloody fault, you know that?"
"My fault?!" Hermione Granger growled, "You're the one who started the taunts in the first place and threw the first hex!"
"It's always your fault, Granger!" sneered Draco Malfoy. "If you hadn't sent those stupid, loud, twittering birds of yours towards me, Vector wouldn't have heard us quarreling and we wouldn't be in this fucking mess!"
"I wasn't just going to let you make fun of my friends, Malfoy. I can't believe that after everything we've all been through, you and your friends continue to choose to be cruel," she snapped, her brown eyes fiery as she glared at him. "Grow up."
Merlin, Hermione was so sick of it. She'd only been in Hogwarts for a few months now, but was already tired of fighting with Malfoy and his pure-blood friends. She thought the end of the War would mark the end of all these stupid prejudices, but she was wrong. It seemed the War only exacerbated things.
The pure-blood families associated with the Dark Lord became outcasts and the heroic families on the side of the Light, such as the Weasleys, became huge celebrities after the War. Naturally, the pure-bloods were completely out of their element. Some had been fired from their jobs thanks to crimes committed during the War, and were forced to turn to their Gringotts accounts to survive. Even though they had more than enough money to feed themselves for the next couple hundred years, the pure-bloods were still furious at the circumstances.
On top of this, the general animosity towards the Slytherins was heightened this year. After all that had occurred during the War, the other students no longer simply disliked Slytherin – the House was hated. Their attendance was so low – only three people were brave enough to come back this year – that McGonagall had to force most students to return. There were a few exceptions, of course. Returning was not mandatory for those who were heavily involved with the War, had extenuating circumstances, or had completed most of their education. Harry and Ron's absences were the two that stood out the most to Hermione. They decided to go on to become Aurors despite her nagging. No matter how many times she stressed the importance of finishing their last year and completing their schooling, the two still decided to pass.
Unfortunately for the brunette, the people that she prayed wouldn't return, did. Draco Malfoy, Parkinson, and Goyle were made to come back as well as many others to show they were cooperating with the Ministry and Hogwarts in an effort to make reparations.
Although they cut back on their insults – Parkinson entirely, which was a nice relief – they still continued to throw jibes at those around them. Hermione supposed it was their own way of coping with the fact they lost the War. Regardless, they should be making amends, not fighting at every turn. With tensions so high this year, it was like the Slytherins were purposefully trying to cause trouble.
To Hermione, it was honestly only a matter of time until an all out war started between the Houses. She already couldn't control herself just this past hour with Malfoy, and she had been enduring their ridicule – his in particular – for almost seven years. It was clear that the War had changed them all. Even though he started it, she knew she should have just walked away. She was Head Girl! She was supposed to set an example.
By forcing everyone back, it seemed McGonagall hoped they would get over past issues. Hermione was sure her favorite professor had only the best of intentions, but she wasn't sure if everyone would see it her way.
Glancing at Malfoy only confirmed her suspicions. He looked absolutely furious.
"Oh shut up!" Draco snarled, rounding on her as they left the castle, "I laid back on the mud-blood insults, didn't I? It doesn't mean I'm going to automatically start sitting next to you and your stupid house mates every morning. Thank Merlin your bloody boyfriends aren't here, too."
"Excuse me?" shot back Hermione hotly, "Ron and Harry are not my boyfriends! Ron–"
"Do I look like I give a fuck, Granger?" spat Malfoy, crossing his arms as they stormed towards the Forbidden Forest. "Either way, they're both complete idiots. Especially my dearest Weaselbee."
"You are such a horrible, cruel–"
"–cockroach?" he ended, a vile smirk on his face.
After another twenty minutes of bickering over which direction to take at the edge of the Forbidden Forest, the two finally decided on going Hermione's way.
"I swear to Merlin," she snapped, storming up to Draco until they were nose to nose, having had enough of him. "I will punch you so hard, you won't be able to see through your right eye for days. I know this forest better than you do, so stop being antagonistic for no reason!"
He swallowed visibly, obviously remembering their wonderful encounter back in third year when she slapped him.
"Pomfrey can just reduce the swelling," he bit back.
Her eyes narrowed.
"But, we can go your way," he added quickly.
She gave him a sardonic little smile.
"I say we call a truce."
Malfoy stared at her as if she just grew three heads.
"A truce," she repeated meaningfully.
Malfoy raised an eyebrow.
"I'd rather not."
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Sorry, Malfoy, but I don't want to be killed because of our bickering."
She stared at him in disbelief.
"What?" she said, her voice acerbic, "You can't manage to stop yourself from being an arse for a few hours?"
"No," he snapped coldly, "I just don't want to have anything to do with being amicable to you."
Clenching her hands, Hermione glared at him.
"I don't care about what you think or what you want. We have to stick together otherwise one of us will get killed. I should think you'd know that considering how quick you were to abandon Harry to Voldemort in our first year–"
His face darkened as anger flashed through his eyes.
"As if you would have stayed with your enemy," he spat, "If it were you and I in that position, would you have abandoned me?" he continued, an eyebrow arched, as if daring her to disagree.
"Of course I wouldn't have, Malfoy!" she replied defiantly. "I wouldn't have abandoned you. I would have tried to help."
His lip curled into a nasty sneer.
"Of course you would have. Noble, muggle Granger–"
"Dishonorable, pure-blood Malfoy."
They glowered at each other for a long while.
"Now that we've gotten your childishness out of the way, I'll ask again. Truce?" she finally bit out.
"You honestly expect me to fucking–"
"TRUCE?" she bellowed, cutting him off.
Silence. Hermione closed her eyes, her right hand outstretched, to keep herself from hexing him. She just needed patience. He knew that working together was their best bet for finding what they needed and leaving unharmed. After all, he wasn't second-best in school for nothing.
When she was sure she was in control of her anger, she opened her eyes to see him leaning against a tree and watching her.
She raised her eyebrows, waiting. In two strides, he was in front of her and grasped her hand tentatively before giving it a quick shake.
"Damn," he muttered, "Now I have to Scourgify your germs off my hands."
"Damn," she imitated him, "Now I have to Scourgify Death Eater germs off my hands. Disgus–"
Before Hermione knew what happened, she was shoved against a tree roughly. Shrinking back when she saw the intensity in Draco's eyes, her hand immediately tightened around the wand in her pocket. She was not expecting him to lash out so violently. It looked like she'd hit a sore spot.
"I am not a fucking Death Eater anymore and I never was by choice," he growled coldly, his eyes full of hate, "And don't you dare call me one ever again. You have no idea what the fuck I've been through."
She opened her mouth, but he silenced her.
"No, Granger," he snarled viciously, "You think you and your precious little Potter and Weasley have been through hell? Well, try living under my roof with an insane aunt and the Dark Lord breathing down your back every day and let's see how far you'd go to save your own skin and your family's."
Hermione doubted she'd ever resort to what he did. She would have found another way. There were always options. Always. However, she was smart enough not to voice her thoughts. Placating Malfoy was now number one on her list of things to do. She had seen him angry, but never to this extent. It scared her. On top of this, she had this eerie feeling they were being watched. Since they were both in the Forbidden Forest, she was positive they actually were being watched by something. She needed to get him to stop so they could move on.
"I know what you guys think," he continued, "All of us in Slytherin do. You and everyone else think that we could have gone to the Order or refused the Dark Lord – well too fucking bad. We were forced to comply or be killed. So stop looking at us like we had a choice. Because guess what, Granger?" he leaned in, sneering venomously, "None of us did. Have we ever pretended like we were proud of what we had to do?"
Hermione kept her mouth shut, knowing it was a rhetorical question. The feeling of being watched intensified and goosebumps broke out on her flesh.
"Maybe in the beginning we gloated," he continued coldly, unaware, "But the novelty always wore off rather quickly. Seeing your arm bleed the first few times the Mark burns tends to do that to a person. Imagine, Granger," he leaned in, his lips by her ear.
She shivered, trying to move away. Her wand was still clenched tightly in her hand, but she was too fascinated by Malfoy's tirade to bring herself to threaten him with it, despite of the fact that he was dangerously close to her.
"Imagine seeing your arm bleed around the Dark Mark. Imagine feeling it burn in complete agony. Then, of course, it barely heals before the wound reopens again the next time he calls. As for the pain, you can only wait until it subsides. Imagine feeling that," he whispered, "Oh wait," he drew back, "you can't. You can't even imagine."
"And that doesn't even cover it," he continued vehemently, "You have the emotional stress, the threat of failure looming over your head, the realization that your family could die if you don't do what the Dark Lord says."
There was a moment of silence. Hermione held her breath.
"You all have the audacity to say you 'understand' to our faces and in the Prophet and at ceremonies, but behind closed doors, chide us and mock us and hate us for surviving the only way we knew how." His eyes were full of wild emotion, "Well, mud-blood," she winced, "in my opinion, doing something you hate… enduring pain the way we have since Voldemort came back… now that's real strength. And you call us heartless…" he let out a cold laugh. "If only you knew the shit we've all had to go through. But, of course," he finally backed away, his hands raised in defeat; Hermione released a breath she didn't even know she'd been holding, "you don't. You only recognize your pain. Apparently, it's easier to believe we all just don't exist, rather than acknowledge we may have been in a situation just as difficult – even more so, actually – than all of you."
Unsure what to say, the brunette rested with watching him warily.
There was another moment of silence.
"It's always about all of you," Malfoy said with resentment, his grey eyes flashing, "What about us? Sure, Potter gave my mother and father his word and exempted them from Azkaban, but what about everyone else? Don't worry," he spat bitterly when she didn't respond, "I wouldn't expect you to care. You're all hypocrites. You say you care for the welfare of the entire Wizarding world, yet you've outcasted us and haven't given a damn. So, please excuse me," he added sarcastically, his grey eyes flashing, "when I, and the rest of my house, don't fall over ourselves to greet you and your fucking shitty friends every morning. We're still picking ourselves back up, and by the looks of it, it will take awhile, if ever. The Dark Lord may have started this mess, but you all added to it after the War. There will never be peace unless you all accept the fact that we had no choice and no way of changing anything, even if we wanted to. Not unless we wanted to die. Our lives were fucking hell. Every single day. You think the Dark Lord terrorized you? Try living and working under him!" he snarled.
Draco's chest was heaving by the time he was through, his hands in fists at his side. Hermione was still watching him, her wand clenched in her hand and her eyes wide.
She had never heard Malfoy, or any other Slytherin for that matter, speak about such personal things and so passionately as well. They were all extremely tight-lipped about their lives.
Sure, the Ministry had been a bit shady while she was growing up, but Hermione would like to think they were all getting past that – that the Wizarding world as a whole was creating a newer and better government. One that wasn't corrupt.
"Well, Granger? Has your ugly little cat got your tongue?" he asked cruelly.
"You're not the only ones who suffered through hell, Malfoy," she said quietly.
He threw his hands up in the air.
"Oh sure. Start your little speech. I'm sure it's been building for awhile now. You probably don't even believe me, and you know what?" he snapped, "That's one of the reasons why we will never settle into a quiet post-war life. You'll continue to outcast us, much like you're doing now, and mark my words, another fucking Dark Lord will pop up and spread destruction and ruin and no one will be able to stop him this time. Not even your bloody precious Potter–"
"I was tortured in your house!" Hermione cried, her anger building. How dare he assume they didn't have their own share of problems! "I know what it's like, Malfoy. I know! I had to Obliviate..."
She swallowed the lump in her throat.
"I had to Obliviate my parents," she finally whispered, her voice cracking, "I spent the past few months searching after the War and I can't find them…"
She took in a huge breath, her eyes fixed firmly on a tree to the right of Malfoy. She didn't want to look at him.
"… I think they're…"
She stopped talking as moisture gathered in her eyes. Hermione shook her head, unable to allow herself to think about the fate of her parents. They were still alive. They had to be. She did everything she could to keep them safe.
"I watched as people died. My classmates, friends, and people I thought of as family. Your aunt carved…"
Malfoy flinched visibly before looking away, uncomfortable at the mention of Bellatrix.
Hermione paused, one of her hands slowly finding its way under the arm of her shirt. She had done this so many times and each and every time she hoped she wouldn't feel the same raised skin spelling out her heritage. It was no different now. As her fingers slowly caressed the scar, she swallowed thickly and wiped her tears. No matter how much she wished she could get over it, and no matter how much she told people she had, it was still incredibly difficult to keep it from affecting her. She had been judged for the past seven years on that alone – the fact that she was a muggle-born witch, a mud-blood. Everyone expected her to fail right from the start. She'd proved them wrong of course, but still. What she wouldn't give to just have her blood status not matter or to change it sometimes – to see how different life would be as a pure-blood or even a half-blood…
"You're not the only one, Granger," Malfoy said after awhile, his voice almost gentle, "I just wish you all would see how much worse it was for us–"
She looked at him then, her anger coming back full force.
"For you?" she whispered incredulously, her brown eyes filling with fire, "We were the ones who had our families killed! Us. Mud-bloods and muggles and half-bloods and blood-traitors. So, do excuse me, when I say that we had it worse off. We, the famous Golden Trio, were on the run for a year. No food, no permanent shelter, no safety, no allies, nothing but a few clues and a book of fairytales. We could only rely upon ourselves and, even then, we couldn't really trust that."
Hermione thought back to Ron's lapse in judgment and the big fight with Harry that made him leave during their search for the horcruxes. She took a deep breath as she watched as Malfoy's face harden instantly.
"Walk a fucking mile in my shoes, Granger. You wouldn't last a bloody day, I promise you."
She walked up to him boldly, "Same goes for you, Malfoy. I promise you."
There was a moment of silence as the two glowered at each other, before an odd feeling washed over the pair and they staggered away, dazed. Hermione's eyes fluttered as she placed a hand on her head and closed her eyes to get a hold of her surroundings. She felt like she was going to faint. Stumbling, the brunette tripped and fell to her knees with a gasp, her wand rolling away. It seemed Malfoy had the same problem because he was breathing deeply and holding on to the nearest tree, his head in his hands.
"Is that an agreement I hear?" said a whimsical, female voice.
Hermione blinked and turned, trying to find the voice's owner as she fought to clear her head. She grew dizzy as she saw a light over by a pond maybe twenty or thirty feet away.
"Who's there?" asked Malfoy wearily, his back against the tree trunk and his wand up and pointed at the pond.
A light, tinkling laugh rang out and Hermione shivered.
"You should know, shouldn't you, Draco? After all, you and Hermione have been searching for one of us…"
Hermione's eyes widened. How did she know?
"You needed fairy dust, am I correct?"
Hermione's mouth dropped as the light by the pond grew until it was bright, like a large Patronus. She shielded her eyes, as did Malfoy.
After a few moments, the light died and she looked over at the pond once more to see a beautiful fairy with long, blue hair, white skin and bright, cerulean eyes. She was floating in the air, her blinding wings fluttering.
"How did you know?" asked Malfoy, amazed.
"Isn't that your punishment? Collecting ingredients for potions for the next week every night?"
Hermione was at a loss for words as another tinkling laugh echoed through the forest.
"See… I would help… but I actually have another idea."
The brunette didn't like the sound of this. The fairy's blue eyes were glittering knowingly between the two. It reminded her a lot of Dumbledore and she felt a painful pang of sadness in her chest.
"I hope you find what you're looking for, and once you have fulfilled your promises, all will be well."
Hermione looked over at Draco who grew pale.
"W-What do you mean?" she asked, her fear mounting as the fairy's words replayed in her head.
The fairy winked at her and slowly faded. Panic gripped Hermione, and she got up and ran towards her.
Just as she thought she could reach out and touch her, the light faded altogether and darkness flooded the forest once more. Confused, she turned and looked back at Draco, who was paler than ever.
A warm, unnatural breeze caressed her, and the hair on the back of Hermione's neck stood on end. Her breath came light and fast as her knees buckled and eyes swam. Everything spun and she frowned deeply, her hand flying to her head, as if trying to assuage the uncomfortable feeling. Gasping for air as black spots popped up in her vision, she tried hard to call out for help, but it was hopeless.
Just as Hermione was about to go under, she heard the same whimsical voice of the fairy whisper to her one last time, her voice soothing and melodic.
"Trust in me…"
This plot bunny has literally been on my mind for a year. I first came to fanfiction July 6th, 2011 and this idea popped into my mind a few weeks after. I wasn't sure if a plot like this ever came up, where Draco and Hermione go back in time and assume the other's life (not body-swapping). I've been meaning to write this out for the longest time, if only to get it out there. If you don't understand what exactly I mean with the whole life switcheroo, stick around. The next chapter is the actual switch... that is... if you all review enough to get me to write it :)
Question: What time period do you think the two will warp back to?
Please do favorite/alert/review!