Chapter 26 – The Event Horizon

Quick Note: I do not own anything from the wonderful world of Harry Potter by JK Rowling. That includes any scenes I may have derived or paraphrased from the original text.

Hogwarts – 11/15/1994

"The Yule Ball?"

"Yes! Isn't it perfect?" Hermione replied in excitement, "It's the best time! Dumbledore will be otherwise occupied for most of the night and we can slip away unnoticed–"

"What about our clothing?" asked Draco skeptically, "You'll be wearing a dress and I'll be wearing robes… that'll be a little restricting, Hermione."

"They can always be transformed into something more comfortable," she replied in a dismissive manner.

"What about–"

"Draco, I have everything worked out. You don't have to–"

"Yes, actually I do," he snapped, "In case you haven't realized, this will be one of the most important things we've had yet to do. I'm not going to automatically assume you've got everything covered–"

"Give me some more credit, would you?" she shot back, her eyes narrowing angrily. "I have all the angles worked out–"

"Oh yeah?" he leaned closer to her in the narrow alcove they were currently discussing this in. "Do enlighten me then, Granger. How the fuck will we even leave the castle? I'm not sure if you remember, but there are anti-apparition wards–"

"I have a house-elf, in case you've forgotten, Malfoy," she replied hotly, "I had planned on asking Fay if she could Apparate us out and in."

"What about Dumbledore?" he fired off, unfazed by her explanation. "He'll surely notice we've taken things from his office."

Hermione frowned.

"I planned on duplicating Secrets of the Darkest Art after obtaining it so he wouldn't–"

He raised an eyebrow, a smirk curling his lips.

"There's one thing you forgot," he nearly sang.

Hermione took a deep breath.

"Stop looking so gleeful and bloody spit it out, would you?" she replied in irritation. How could she have forgotten something? She made sure to cover all her bases…

Draco leaned in even more.

"The portraits," he whispered.

A grimace appeared on her face as he pulled away, smirking arrogantly. Flying through spells, potions, and enchantments quickly in her head, the Slytherin felt her frustration increase. Draco was right. The portraits would be a serious problem.

Cursing under her breath, she slammed her head back on the wall forcefully.

"You're right," Hermione mumbled. "How could that have slipped my mind?! The portraits of all of Dumbledore's predecessors are mounted on the walls! There's no way to elude all of them at one time and surely they'd find Dumbledore and tell him someone's breaking in…" Trailing off, she met Draco's eyes as she realized this would be more difficult than she initially thought. "I… I think we might have to forgo the book and the memory in the pensieve. Perhaps we'll just Apparate to Little Hangleton and search for the Gaunt Shack on our own–"

"Are you mental?!"

"Does it look like we have any other choice?" she spat bitterly. "Dumbledore's office is obviously a big fat bloody no. On top of that, he's probably more suspicious of us now than he ever was before since you're a Triwizard Champion. We can't risk getting caught. We'll just go to the Chamber and get more of the Basilisk fangs and–"

"You know what?" cut in Draco loudly, "You figure it out, Hermione! I could give less of a fuck right now–"

"What the hell is wrong with you?!"

"YOU!" he roared.

Silence. The tension in the alcove was thick and Hermione swallowed, suddenly feeling very small. Perhaps she'd just been imagining everything. She'd been positive something had changed between them the night Draco's name was called from the goblet. In fact, things had changed long before for them, she just hadn't really come to terms with it until recently. They'd become closer.

Clearly, she was wrong. Nothing had changed at all. Swallowing her insecurities, she glared at him.

"And what," she asked coldly, "did I do this time?"

Time came to a pause as his eyes locked with hers. He looked as if he was struggling to say or do something.

"Everything," he snapped, before glancing to his right at the empty hallway. "I need to get out of here."

He spun around and walked out. Her heart sank. He was incredibly moody today for no reason and as much as she didn't want it to, it hurt. Taking another deep breath, Hermione called out to him.

"I didn't call you in here just to talk to you about the horcrux plan, Draco."

He paused and she took it as an invitation. Walking towards him, she opened her bag and pulled out the Daily Prophet. Hermione had intercepted Draco at the perfect time: after breakfast. He had skipped out – choosing to sleep in – and thinking about it now, that was the best thing he could have done. The uproar over the article had been intense. Everyone was shocked, including Hermione. She'd expected a few things from Skeeter, but never would it have been anything like this. The article had been undoubtedly hilarious until she caught sight of Harry's extremely pale face. His expression had morphed into disgust and then fury and she'd spent quite awhile consoling him in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom. After Hermione was positive he wouldn't go on a rampage, she left him in the Gryffindor Common Room and sought out Draco.

"I don't know what prompted her to do this," she began quietly, preparing herself for his anger, "But I think she's targeting you."

Her eyes locked onto his as she slowly took hold of his hand and gently placed the Prophet on it. Once again, Hermione felt as if something had changed between the two, but she swiftly pushed that thought to the back of her mind. It wasn't important right now.

"If you're angry, do not take it out on me," she warned, watching his face carefully as he unraveled the rolled up parchment. "I had nothing to do with this."

The blonde grimaced as his eyes widened and he stiffened. His face turned ghostly pale as his hands clenched the paper tightly, his eyes moving rapidly over the parchment.

"I thought," he said, his voice dangerously soft, "I made it clear to her that she had no business writing about me or Harry."

"I thought you made that abundantly clear as well," she whispered. Concern washed over her when he just glared at the paper, a murderous look on his face.

"Draco?" she murmured, frowning deeply. "Draco, are you–"

"Shut up, Hermione," he snarled, drawing his wand and incinerating the newspaper.

Ignoring him, she continued.

"We can fix this, you know," she said gently. "I just need to catch Rita–"

"Good fucking luck," he cut in acidly. "My reputation has been officially screwed up."

"I'll blackmail her. She'll change this. I'll get her to release an article formally apologizing to you and to Harry, since he's as much a victim in this as you, and everything will be just fine," she replied curtly, her eyes locking onto his. "We'll look back at this and laugh–"

"It doesn't matter how much Rita apologizes," he snapped, his grey eyes filling with intense hatred. "Either way, some people will still believe I'm…" The brunet trailed off, disgust written on his features. He rubbed his face with his hands. "Gods, I am not…" He took in a deep breath, before nearly choking on the word. "I… I am not… gay. And certainly not for fucking Harry Potter, damn it!"

Hermione tried exceptionally hard not to laugh.

"I know that, Harry knows that, and Rita knows that. We just have to blackmail her. Maybe…" she trailed off, "maybe we can find you a bunch of women to snog or something and… and somehow get that in… in the papers…" The suggestion nearly hurt coming out of her mouth. A serious realization hit her at that moment – she didn't like the thought of him going around and snogging random women. Everything seemed to click into place, and she covered up a grimace. Really? Did it have to be Draco bloody Malfoy? She must have some sort of psychological problem if she was actually thinking this way. Her eyes flickered over to his, childishly afraid that he'd somehow know. He looked to be in deep concentration before his face cleared.

"That's it! Brilliant!" he exclaimed as relief flashed across his features. "That will solve everything!"

Hermione's throat seemed to constrict of its own volition as she plastered a smile on her face, disappointment settling like a dead weight in the pit of her stomach. She'd hoped he'd decide against that idea. Once again, she mentally berated herself. This was Malfoy. The way she felt right now was completely unfounded. He hated her before they had been sent on this stupid journey, and without it, they would have never become friends… or whatever the hell they were right now. Hermione was honestly confused. There was a shift in their relationship. It was subtle, but she could feel it. And right now, she knew exactly what it was. The only thing she didn't know was why. Never before had she so deeply wanted to sink into the ground and have the earth swallow her up. Just saying it out loud to another person would be the epitome of embarrassing. Not only this, but it would only be a matter of time. Malfoy was intuitive. He was much smarter than she or anyone else gave him credit for. He would figure it out soon enough, and when he did, he'd never let her live it down. For the first time in awhile, Hermione truly hated herself. Her taste in men… it was horrible. First Harry, who she should have known would have never wanted her, then Ron, who had broken her heart so many times over the course of a few years, and then bloody Draco Malfoy. Bigoted, pure-blood, ferret extraordinaire. Why hadn't she chosen Krum? He'd been so loving. He accepted her the way she was; he loved her bookish habits and her plain features. He'd never broken her heart – in actuality, it was the other way around. She'd broken his. He had been the better choice. The right choice, if she were to look at it from a third person's point of view. Regardless, she'd still chosen Ron and now… now she was experiencing the same feelings she'd felt for him in her original fourth year for the idiot in front of her. The irony wasn't lost on her.

Thankfully, Draco was so caught up in her suggestion that he barely seemed aware of her existence.

Making up her mind quickly, the blonde decided that she'd just push everything to the back of her mind. Draco Malfoy was a friend and she would only think of him in a friendly way – in an appropriate way. If Hermione caught herself doing anything else, she'd just fixate on his bad qualities – the things that had always bothered and annoyed her. She'd surely get on the right track in no time. Draco Malfoy was a bloody arse. Did she really want him? No. He made her life a living hell. She wanted someone like Ron, right?

When her mind didn't immediately agree, she realized she didn't want to want either of them.

But wanting someone wasn't necessarily a choice, now was it?

Thinking back to her sixth year, she knew the answer immediately.

Her mind wasn't involved at all. She had felt an ache deep in her chest – in her soul – whenever Ron was with Lavender. It was a betrayal that cut deep for her. Yet, after everything he'd put her through, she'd still decided to be with him. After he left her and Harry alone, she still forgave him. They'd been on a break since the summer after the War, and she hadn't looked at another man, hadn't really even entertained any thought of being properly attracted to anyone other than him... until now.

No, her mind definitely wasn't in charge. Her heart was, and that was the problem.

This wasn't some random schoolmate from Hogwarts. This was Malfoy. Making a snap second decision, the Slytherin decided she'd bury her feelings. If she had her way, they'd never ever see the light of day.

The Three Broomsticks – 11/20/1994

"I can't believe he's acting like this," muttered Hermione as the three of them slid into a booth at the Three Broomsticks.

Draco's eyes flickered over to Ron, who was seated with Fred, George, and Lee. The redhead was eyeing them speculatively before he leaned over and whispered to one of the twins. His lips curled into a sneer.

"Who the fuck cares anymore? I sure as hell don't. I'm sick of you trying to tell Weasley that we didn't do anything wrong. Just because he has fucking jealousy issues–"

"You know what, Hermione?" cut in Harry, his green eyes narrowing as they looked over at the group. "I think Draco is right. If Ron can't even believe us, then maybe that shows he wasn't a good friend at all–"

"Have you even tried talking to him?" retorted the blonde, an eyebrow raised.

The Boy-Who-Lived remained silent.

"Exactly," she pointed out. "Why don't you both actually try–"

"I have," cut in Draco impatiently.

Their eyes locked and whatever she was going to say seemed to die on the tip of her tongue. Hermione became unnaturally reticent and for a moment, he found himself concerned. He quickly pushed it away. There was nothing to be concerned about in regards to her. What he should be concerned about was himself. He couldn't fucking stop thinking about her – unwillingly, might he add – whenever she wasn't near him. It was the complete opposite when he was in her presence. She irritated him more than she ever had.

In truth, he hated himself right now.

He felt out-of-control and stupid. Whenever he wasn't with her, he'd be crabby or irritable. Whenever he was with her, he'd become even more crabby or irritable and would take it out on her. It was unnecessary and he knew she could sense something was wrong with him, but he wasn't sure what to do. This was Hermione. How did one go about feeling attracted to someone they spent years bullying? To someone they'd watched get tortured in their own house?

He'd begun to notice little things about her – he'd begun to watch her.

Like a bloody fucking stalker.

He'd come to recognize her little mannerisms – biting her lip when thinking, the ever-present bossy edge to her voice, how completely engrossed she'd become during a lecture (regardless of the fact that she'd clearly heard all this before), the way her body would tense whenever Zabini made an unwelcome appearance, the way she never seemed to give him any thought whatsoever, the fact that she obviously wasn't being as creepy as he was being since she wasn't watching him all the time. In fact, it seemed like she couldn't give less of a fuck. She barely ever looked at him, and when she did, it was only to respond to something he'd said.

She didn't care.

And it made him hate her even more.

Why the hell was he saddled with these possessive, jealous, bitter feelings? It wasn't fair. They fought all the time, it was mental even to consider...


Hermione Granger was the bane of his existence and it would forever be that way.

Why was he feeling concerned, then? Why was it that his heart would pump a little faster when she initiated conversation with him? She wasn't snapping at him anymore when he got moody with her – hadn't for awhile – and it made him wonder if there was something bothering her. Shaking his head lightly, he decided ignorance would be the best option. He'd just ignore her. Everything would be much easier that way. Besides, he had too much on his plate already to spend time fawning over her. Gulping down his butterbeer and mentally wishing it was Firewhiskey, he tore his eyes away from Hermione's and quickly scanned the inn and pub.

According to Harry's letters, Sirius would be coming to keep an eye on things. For the entire year. That was an interesting set of circumstances, and Draco hoped it would help in some way, shape, or form. Thankfully, Black was a free man in this timeline, and that meant he could help so much more.

It was then that the brunet noticed a man in a black traveling cloak – the hood was up, and his face shadowed – making his way over.

The previously tension-filled atmosphere seemed to melt away as the man quickly took the open seat next to Hermione and threw off the cover.

Sitting in front of the trio was a noticeably healthier-looking Sirius Black. His hair was much tidier, his face younger, and eyes not as haunted as before.

"Sirius," said Harry in relief, his face automatically splitting into a smile. "How are you? How long will you be here?"

"As long as needed," he replied. His voice was devoid of any amusement and his grey eyes – so similar to Draco's – were gleaming with determination. "Are you all alright? I read your letters and came as soon as possible, Harry. Tell me everything," he continued seriously. "I'll try my best to help you all in any way possible."

Near the Forbidden Forest – 11/24/1994

Granger was hugging him again.

In just a little while, Draco's fate would be decided. He would die, or he would survive. His hands were shaking, and his head felt like it was going to explode. Regardless of how deep he sucked in air, it was never enough. He wasn't thinking rationally, and once again, he longed to run away – he longed to dash away and hide… He longed to die in this alternate timeline in some foreign corner of the world. Never to be seen by anyone ever again… Merlin, the thought was so tempting. Thinking rationally seemed like a wonderful idea, but it was one that he couldn't seem to master at this moment.

"You'll be fine."

Was it just him or was her voice shaking?

"You'll get through this. Your plan is virtually fool-proof, I mean, you came up with it, right? My plans are obviously rubbish – you always point out the flaws in them and if I had come up with this plan maybe there would have been a miniscule chance of any sort of complication–"

All he could think about was the fact that she initiated this hug. Not him. Never would he initiate a hug. Never. His arms had automatically swung around her when she'd snuck into the tent and nearly threw herself at him. She'd been mumbling under her breath ever since then, and it was only now that he'd finally focused on her verbose, half-mad monologue.

"–I mean, blindfolding the dragon? Who would have thought of that? It's so simple really, yet brilliant at the same time. Just make sure you don't forget to dodge–"

Her hair was smooth against his neck and the side of his face and Draco idly wondered what it would be like to touch it. Not the blonde hair she had now, but her true hair. Her actual hair. The wild brown locks that he'd always thought seemed to reflect her outrageous personality. Of course, back then, Draco had thought of it in a negative way. Now, however, he had grown accustomed to it… he'd grown accustomed to her.

Quite suddenly the image of her with long, curly brown hair invaded his thoughts. He hadn't seen her look like that in almost four and a half years. If they ever got out of this mess, would he? Would it be just as soft as his own? He'd always thought it was coarse before, but after having lived with hair like hers for four years – albeit a much shorter version – he could admit he'd been wrong. It was soft and voluminous, but tangled easily. What would it be like to touch hers? It would be different from his. Much different. There was just so much of it. What would it be like to run his hands through it? To entangle his fingers and pull

He flung himself away from her immediately. His breathing had grown heavy as his thoughts ventured in a decidedly darker direction. Draco only had a moment to register Hermione's frown as he tried to banish the thought of her from his mind, before a flash of light and a loud hiss filled the air. Turning quickly, he caught sight of a gleeful Rita Skeeter.

"Dabbling in experimental relationships with both genders are we, Mr. Granger?" she asked coyly. "No doubt this will make the front page once again…"

Draco swore he saw red. His hands clenched as rage contorted his features into something ugly.

"How dare you?!" interjected Hermione, storming up to the witch, "You have no right to say anything of the sort! Especially since–"

"Of course," Rita sighed dramatically as her Quick-Quotes quill worked at a blinding pace beside her, its tip scratching rapidly across the parchment. "The girl he's seen sneaking around with will definitely stand up for him. Unless, perhaps, his affair with the Boy-Who-Lived was all just a ruse to become famous? Or maybe Draco's so ashamed of his orientation that he's desperate to date a girl – any girl – even someone as prissy as this one?"

"You know what's fucking unfortunate?" said Draco frigidly, the last thread of his sanity snapping as his eyes narrowed and his face turned red. "You. You must be so desperate to comment on everyone's love life because yours is virtually nonexistent! Or, perhaps, all this talk of gay relationships and sex has you turned on, Skeeter. Maybe you're a freak and masturbate to your dirty, pornographic thoughts–"

"Draco!" exclaimed Hermione. Although she looked absolutely horrified, he didn't miss the involuntary upwards curve of the corners of her mouth. She was trying hard not to laugh despite her incredulous look. Her alarm was nothing in comparison to how Rita looked. Her face had gone ashen, and her eyes widened with shock. Even though Granger tried hard to cover up his mouth to stop him from saying incredulous things, he continued his verbal assault, merely encircling her wrist with his hand and moving it away to speak clearly.

"–put that in your damn Prophet and–"

"Silencio!" Hermione shouted, her face flushed from embarrassment.

Draco spun around and looked at her. She merely raised an eyebrow and pocketed her wand before her gaze flashed multiple times to the side. Following her lead, he turned to his left to see the judges, the other champions, and the headmasters of each school staring at him in disgust and astonishment. Harry was there too, and he looked completely stunned.

At that exact moment, the cannon went off and everyone within the tent jumped.

"Sorry, sorry!" cried out Filch, wheezing as he wobbled into the tent seconds later. "Just testing it to make sure it works!"

"Of course, Argus," nodded Dumbledore kindly, the first one to recover from the argument, "No need to inform us."

The caretaker nodded appreciatively before wobbling out again. Dumbledore turned to eye Draco and Hermione. He swore he saw a flash of momentary distrust in his eyes. He blinked, and it was gone.

"Fifty points from Gryffindor for horrendous language," began the former-professor, his voice surprisingly calm. "And another fifty points for lewd and dirty connotations. Do learn when and when not to bring out the inner-most traits of your house, Mr. Granger." His penetrating blue eyes flickered between the two – Hermione looked like she wanted the ground to swallow her up – before he turned to address Skeeter. She'd fainted sometime during Draco's crass shouting and was being held haphazardly by her photographer. "She will come-to soon; if you could kindly take her to the stands and lay her down there." The man nodded quickly before casting a levitating charm on the journalist and practically sprinting out of the tent.

There was a long moment of tense and awkward silence before Dumbledore sent them all a genial smile.

"Well… let the tournament begin!"

Hermione felt nauseated and sweaty as she left Draco and Harry. The three of them – along with Sirius – had spent so much time working on a plan to acquire the golden egg that she was positive Draco and Harry knew what they needed to do as well as they knew their names. None of it really mattered, though. However much she'd like to believe differently, it was a well-known fact that plans weren't necessarily guaranteed to work out. She knew that from prior experience. Almost every plan she, Harry, and Ron had concocted during her original time at Hogwarts had gone to hell towards the end – usually with them running for their lives or making dangerous and drastic decisions. They'd almost died on so many occasions

Shaking the thought away quickly, Hermione refused to dwell on it. Harry and Draco would make it out alive. Thinking anything else was absurd and more pessimistic and paranoid than anything.

Steeling herself, she trudged over to the stands. Because Ron was avoiding Harry and Draco, she no longer had anyone to sit with. Being a Malfoy, Ron had refused to even listen to her – he automatically lumped her in with the other two, deciding she wasn't worth the time. His behavior had incensed her, and she stopped acknowledging his existence. She'd put up with Ron's jealousy and bitter personality for far too long – he let his emotions rule him, and as they'd gotten older, he'd allowed them to completely pollute his mind. She refused to put herself through that emotional roller coaster again. She had enough things to worry about. Ron's frivolous attitude was much further down on her long list of priorities.

Sitting towards the end of the stands – as far away from any specific house as possible – she thought of how elated she'd be after this entire tournament finally came to a close.

"Hello, Hermione Malfoy."

Jumping violently into the air, her momentary calm disappeared. She hadn't expected anyone to sit next to her. Truth be told, she barely had friends – most of the student body seemed to regard her with indifference, dislike, or extreme hatred. Turning to see who'd sat down next to her, she was shocked and delighted to find a girl wearing a large, noticeable lion hat. Her silvery eyes were wide, the dreamy look on her face familiar, and her interesting sense of style as strange as ever. Hermione felt immense relief surge through her veins.

"Luna," she greeted, a genuine smile on her face, "You scared me."

"So I've been told a few times," she replied, her voice light.

"Why are you sitting next to me? And why are you wearing the Gryffindor hat?" Hermione questioned. Never before had she found a chance to talk to Luna in the past four years. They barely saw each other. Her sudden behavior was odd, but then again… it was Luna. Everything she did or said was odd in a charming way.

Luna shrugged, "I thought Draco and Harry could use a little support. Being in their position isn't easy, especially since most of the school is against them. And I saw you sitting by yourself. You looked quite lonely–"

"Not lonely, necessarily," she rebuked quickly, "I'm just very concerned."

"For Draco? Because you like him?" she asked, a private smile curving her lips.

Her heart pounded loudly in her chest as her face heated noticeably.

Merlin, I'd forgotten how straightforward Luna is.

"N-No," Hermione stuttered, her brown eyes widening. "Both Harry and Draco… as friends. Only friends."

"Are you sure?" frowned Luna. "Most of the school seems to think otherwise."

"Really?" squeaked Hermione, her throat constricting.

Most of the school? Have I been that obvious?

She could swear she hadn't. She'd spent so much time avoiding Draco at all costs until her feelings – or whatever they were – dissipated. If anything, they probably appeared more antagonistic than ever.

"You've been unnaturally distant to him lately," added Luna softly, her large, silvery eyes locking with hers, "but you were seen together a lot before this year. Did he do something mean? He has a lot of Wrackspurts flying around near his ears…"

Hermione smiled at the mention of the imaginary creature. Although Luna viewed life in an entirely different way, Hermione had grown to like her eccentricities and kind nature. She was truly one of the most interesting people she'd ever met.

Just as Hermione was about to respond, the cannon sounded. Her conversation with the odd Ravenclaw had been a wonderful distraction, but now that the first task was underway, her anxiety came back painfully. She swallowed and stared at the tent entrance, waiting with bated breath for the first champion to emerge and the tournament to start.

Awhile Later…

Krum was evading the dragon, using his expert skills as a seeker. Hermione was so involved in the match that she barely registered Luna's absence. In fact, it wasn't until a hand closed around her upper arm and yanked her roughly to her feet did she realize she'd left. Tearing her hand away, she looked around blindly until her eyes locked with a pair that was familiar and dark. Immediately, anger and hurt filled her.

"We need to talk," said Blaise coldly.

"Really?" she mocked, crossing her arms over her chest. "I was under the impression we weren't talking."

Blaise merely rolled his eyes before grabbing her arm once again and nearly dragging her out of the stands despite her protests. It wasn't too long before Hermione had her wand drawn and pointed at him.

"Let go of me!" she hissed, trying in vain to rip herself out of his vice-like grip as her wand dug into the skin of his neck. "If you don't, I won't hesitate to hex–"

"Let's not begin to make promises we can't keep," interrupted Blaise. "I know for a fact you won't–"

"How would you kn–"

"Because you don't hate me, Hermione," he stated, as if it were obvious, before releasing her. The duo was standing in a secluded place under the stands. She was on-guard for a few moments, eyeing the place and eyeing him, before finally putting away her wand.

"Yes," she finally replied, "I don't hate you. Why? Because I don't go around hating people for no good reason!"

"I'm tired of fighting."

The blunt statement caught Hermione off-guard, and it took her a moment to process.

"You're… you're tired of fighting," she stated skeptically.

"Yes," he gritted out, as if it were emotionally taxing to say.

"Then don't go around starting rifts and arguments, then!" she retorted hotly.

"Can't you just accept my apology?"

"Apology?" she asked disbelievingly. "You call that an apology?"

"You know what, Hermione?" he glowered, his dark eyes blazing with a sudden fury that made her stomach flip. "Fuck you and fuck your stupid friends–"

"I don't have time for this!" she yelled, her brown eyes turning fiery as anger swept through her. She could hear the crowd cheering now, which meant Krum had successfully retrieved the dragon's egg. It was either Draco or Harry's turn, and she couldn't afford to stand by and have a pointless conversation with a man who was so blinded by hatred.

He grabbed her by the arm once again, and she looked up immediately, ready to yank herself out of his grip. There was an ugly sneer curling his lips as he glared down at her, and it contorted his handsome face into something unrecognizable and cruel. She hated how commonplace that look had become. He'd been so happy, so carefree when they were younger. She missed that Blaise. The one who was kinder, sweeter… Abruptly her eyes began to water, but she forced the tears backward. She refused to cry in front of him.

"You're not going anywhere," he whispered. Hermione had just enough time to frown in confusion before he uttered one word. "Incarcerous."

Her eyes widened in astonishment as ropes wound their way around her body. She lost her balance and fell into his waiting arms. Shock froze her as he began to haul her away from the entrance to the stands.

"What are you doing?!" she gasped as he dug his hand into the pocket of her thick, woolen sweater and grabbed her wand, throwing it off to the side. "BLAISE!"

He said nothing as he dragged her – kicking and screaming – across to one of the wooden posts holding up the sitting area for the tournament. It was pushed into the ground right behind a tree. It did not fail to cross her mind that, if he placed her here, no one would see her. The noise from the arena was deafening and rendered her cries for help useless. Leaving her lying against the post, he walked backwards, eyeing her with cold speculation in his eyes.

"What has gotten into you?!" she yelled just as gasps rang out through the arena. Her eyes widened and her head swiveled towards it as she tried to figure out what was going on.

He shrugged carelessly.

"You brought this upon yourself, Hermione," he replied smoothly.

"Are you fucking insane?" she snarled.

His blank expression cracked slightly at her words.

"You can't leave me lying here!"

An unforgiving smirk curled his lips as his eyes hardened.

"Watch me."

Her breathing hitched when she realized he was being serious.

"Blaise, please," she breathed, panic washing over her features. "You can't do this to me. We used to be friends–"

"But then you started hanging around those fucking Gryffindor idiots and LEFT ME!" he spat vehemently. "No…" he shook his head before his dark eyes locked onto hers once more, "You deserve this."

Her throat burned as betrayal shot through her body. Never, never would she have thought Blaise was capable of something like this. Especially not to her.

"How could you?"

The question came out half-strangled and caused him to freeze in his tracks. His back was turned to her, so she couldn't see his face. Regardless, she felt his indecision. Hermione's hope was fleeting, and when Blaise relaxed and spoke once more, all she felt was sadness and a treachery so deep it hurt.

"How could you."

Merrr... sorry for the wait! As always, a HUGE thank you to all of those amazing people who reviewed. OVER 60 REVIEWS, GUYS. Wow. I wonder if I'll break 1,000? Since you can't see me right now, just know that I'm melting into a puddle of happiness. Seriously. You people are just brilliant: dogluver99 (x4), Kathy376fun, Black snake eyes (x2), Dr. Kevorkian, silverflight8, Katy, kei, junealondra (x2), Not logged in, chocolatebrownie12, aaronlisa, Liveera, roardraco, Dreaming while awake, Aislynn-chan, Directioner1987, Hermione's conscience, Mutsuko Kuga, kittyhawk09, lasaints2015, LittleMissHugALot, SideshowJazz1, Guest, LackingPATIENCE, JuliaLestrange, Lupinara, Somnus Verus, Calimocho, RingoHime, The Last Poison Apple, Laura-Ella, Loveable Leo, Atlantean Diva, Artemis Of The Golden Distaff, rae1706, pipitoo, Weirdawesomechick, Gruffard, CaribbeanTrinidadian, ShadowKissedGallagherGirlLexia, TiramisuChu, LR Earl, Daninicole86, SashaStorm97, iceflight12787, smartypants trip4, LilyLewisFlame, Kat-Knife, VampireHuntress72095, Moossey, Guest, Teen Idling, flaming-twilight, SoSonia85, princesspay10, Ms. Louis Cordice Zabini, anidot90, Jilianthompson24. Here's a quick shout-out to those of you who guest review: please do get an account. It makes everything so much more convenient and easier for you, AND I get the lovely bonus of review replying and letting you know how much I adore your input :)

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