Chapter 33 – Darkest Night


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.


Malfoy Manor

Severus Snape had hoped his duties as a double agent would have remained with Voldemort, but all things considered, he shouldn't have been too surprised. This time, however, he was quite unhappy being chosen to cover his goddaughter's ridiculous mistakes.

Why couldn't she have just stuck to her idiotic friends in Slytherin? That was a question he found himself asking frequently... even more so now, seeing as it involved lying to her cunning, manipulative parents.

He took in a deep breath before walking towards the black gates and assuming an air of boredom instead of worry. He'd known the Dark Lord would come back – Albus had always reminded him of that fact, and with the events of the past few years, it seemed inevitable. He'd just hoped Hermione wouldn't be in the crossfire. However, with the choices she'd made ever since coming to Hogwarts, that was something else he should have foreseen.

He pushed aside the image of her sleeping peacefully with that wretched muggle-born, Draco Granger, and instead focused on what to tell Narcissa and Lucius when he arrived.

After passing through the gate, entering the house with the help of an elf, and being seated in one of the sitting rooms, he waited for the Malfoys to arrive. It was only a few minutes before they did, and he rose to kiss Narcissa's hand and give Lucius a firm handshake.

Seating themselves, he returned to his spot and surreptitiously eyed the blond-haired man. He looked immaculate despite being under rounds of the Cruciatus – his hair smooth and pinned back, and his clothes dark and oozing money and power. The slight shake of his hands from the after-effects of the curse were nearly unnoticeable, but Severus was sharp and picked up on it as the man moved to place his cane against his chair.

"What is the update on my daughter?" inquired Narcissa after calling upon tea for the three of them.

Lucius showed no outward sign of anger at her chosen words, he simply sat regally upon his chair, his eyes cold and expectant.

"Hermione recovered quickly from the Dragon Pox," Severus answered as the elf popped back in with tea and biscuits. "She is still weak, but her strength is returning."

"Then why hasn't she sent me a letter at all to inform me?" she demanded, despite the slight relief over her improving health.

"She didn't want to worry you, Narcissa," he replied, setting the tea on the table in front of him before his black eyes shifted to Lucius. "She knows you're both angry with her."

A sneer curled Lucius's lips before he scoffed lightly.

"Angry is quite an understatement," he said, his tone dangerously soft. "The last I saw of her, I believed she'd be ready for when he returns... but she chose to lie–"

"Severus, tell her to owl me," Narcissa's blue eyes bored into his own. "I want to read it in her own words."

Lucius shot her an irritated look, which she completely ignored.

Snape gave her a curt nod before addressing Lucius, whose face was now deceptively blank.

"Lucius, if I may," he began, his voice silky, "I do believe you shouldn't be too harsh on her."

His grey eyes caught his quickly in almost imperceptible surprise.

"Do explain, Severus," he raised an eyebrow as his lips curled downwards, voice deceptively light. "Why shouldn't I be... disappointed... in my daughter's obsession with blood-traitors and mud-bloods?" The words were spat with a venom that only made it easier for Snape to say what was required of him to help his goddaughter... even if it meant she'd hate him for it.

"As far as I can see, Lucius," he sent him a look, his voice wry, "it quite seems like the boy, Draco Granger, is infatuated with her, and not the other way around... She avoids him like the plague. If anyone should be blamed, perhaps... blame him, as he is the one making untoward advances."

A strange, dark glint formed in Lucius' eyes as Narcissa asked him questions – her voice was filled with a quiet, deadly sort of outrage at the news – and Severus almost felt guilty for his insinuations.

Almost.


Hogwarts

"Hermione?"

Harry nudged her and she snapped out of it, her eyes glancing up and catching his before noticing his changed clothes. She was currently seated in the Gryffindor Common Room. After the events of the past hour, she and Harry had decided to convene with Draco and Ron – who were seated across from her – and discuss what had occurred. The sun had been slowly dipping below the horizon when she'd sat down, and her eyes had focused on it blankly as she processed what her role would be in the steadily growing mess that was her life.

Following Voldemort was inconceivable to her, but would she survive this next year if she didn't? More importantly, would Lucius, Narcissa, or Oberon? Her mind had flashed to Snape, and she found an answer to her problems that she didn't want to accept, but one she'd have to settle with if Lucius and Narcissa refused to seek shelter with the Order. Even bigger was the problem that Lucius might refuse while Narcissa might accept, and in that event, she wasn't sure if she could willingly walk away. It would tear them apart, and seeing Lucius ruin his life for a mad man would crush her, too.

Ever since Draco had mentioned they could quite literally be stuck here forever, it became easier and easier for her to focus on the present time instead of looking to the future and believing she'd be back home before certain things occurred. In the event that this was her life, she wanted to make it right, and make it right for everyone. She wanted to end this war before it even began. If that involved grey areas and sacrificing her strict morals for something much more flexible and questionable... then so be it.

Her eyes shifted from Harry's to Draco's; he had been watching her ever since she found him and Ron. A deep seed of understanding for the position he had been thrust into during their sixth year was beginning to grow inside her, and it had only been an hour. She felt an overwhelming urge to hug him, but she stopped herself, instead casting a Muffliato as the Boy-Who-Lived sat down beside her.

Ron's eyes shifted between the two, with a knowing expression on his face.

"It's bloody bad, isn't it? You both wouldn't look like this if it wasn't."

Hermione opened her mouth to speak before deciding against it as a rather large lump formed in her throat.

"Did someone die?" asked Draco bluntly, his eyes still fixed on her.

She became pale as the sudden realization that yes, Lucius could have died because of you, crossed her mind and tears began to cloud her vision. It somehow managed to become even quieter, and Draco's face drained of color as Ron looked uncomfortable and concerned.

"No one died," sighed Harry, taking off his glasses and rubbing his face with one hand as he awkwardly patted her on the back with the other. Putting them back on, he glanced at her. "Are you–"

"I'm fine," she gritted out, sitting back on the sofa and looking out the window again. She blinked rapidly against the moisture in her eyes. "Just tell them."

"I had a vision about Hermione's father being tortured by Voldemort," he said quietly.

Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Draco stiffen with shock.

"That was why you passed out in Divination?" asked Ron slowly, his blue eyes landing on Hermione. "You had a dream about Lucius Malfoy?"

Harry nodded and there was a tense silence. She watched as twilight took over – the last rays of light leaving the sky and turning it beautiful shades of violent and magenta – as Harry explained what he'd seen of Karkaroff, Bagman, and Crouch Jr.'s trials from Dumbledore's memories.

"Have either of you heard anything about Winky?" she finally interjected, turning to face them as an idea formed in her mind. They glanced up in surprise when she spoke. "I know you've visited Dobby in the kitchens, Harry... Has he mentioned anything about a new elf?"

The man in question shook his head, confusion on his features.

"Winky? There was nothing mentioned about a new elf, Hermione... Why do you ask?"

"If anyone knows anything about who Imperiused Crouch Sr. and what happened with his son, it would be her," she answered, straightening up a bit on the couch and looking between the three of them. "She was his only elf."

"How do you...?"

"We'd visited his mansion once when I was little," she glanced at Draco for a moment and understanding flashed through his eyes.

"It's in bloody ruins now," muttered Ron. Everyone turned to him and he looked between them meaningfully. "Remember what they said in the Daily Prophet? When the Aurors captured Crouch, his bedroom was nearly blasted to pieces along with the rest of the house. The only thing they could detect was remains of dark magic as a result of him being under the Imperius. No one else was found. If the elf wasn't there and isn't working here... then where else could she be?"

There was a sinking feeling in the pit of Hermione's stomach as one possibility flashed through her mind – Winky could be dead.


Slytherin Common Room

Blaise had seated himself on one of the sofas in the middle of the room rather serenely as he waited for the resilient bitch who also happened to be the object of his affections. He'd promised to send Lucius information about his daughter, and all things considered, it was more of a gift than anything else. He could hold this over her head for months – have her spend time with him, have her ditch her blood-traitor friends and that fucking mud-blood or else threaten to tell her father what she'd truly been doing with her time. They'd been in correspondence for a good portion of the year discussing things unrelated to Hermione... until now. Lucius had mentioned Hermione being Granger's chosen person for the Second Task before asking him how she was doing. That simple question had made him realize just how much sway he could have over her, especially with the Dark Lord's imminent return...

That thought made him feel light – his mood was remarkably good today.

Hermione's father knew he'd spent the past few years helping his mother with her crimes. That knowledge had garnered him a certain... interest.

Blaise had truthfully never wanted to be a part of it. In fact, all he had wanted was his mother's attention. It put quite a damper on their relationship once he realized the only way he could get it was by indulging and helping her continue her macabre habits. Ultimately, she was all he had left. She'd spent year after year moving from man to man – each one dying "suspiciously" and therefore giving her access to their rich bank accounts and mansions throughout Britain and other parts of Europe.

He'd witnessed her kill her second husband, killed her third for her because he'd been abusive, and from then on had decided to help her... almost as if it were a side project.

He was demented, he knew that. But Hermione had created a dark, raging jealousy inside him which he found a wonderful outlet for every time his mother decided that her newest husband just wasn't up to par anymore.

His father's death had truly broken her just as deeply as it had broken Blaise and his relationship with her. Conspiring with her was the only way they connected anymore. Other than that, she never saw him. His father's mansion was as good as his own, with how little she resided in it. More often than not, she was in Italy or France.

This past Christmas, however, had been different. She'd mentioned Germany, and since she was recently single thanks to his efforts, he assumed she was on the hunt for her sixth husband and subsequent victim.

His thoughts were interrupted when Hermione entered the common room. Even though she looked worse for wear, he still eyed her appreciatively – she was truly everything he wanted. It took her a moment to see him, but when she did, she stopped mid-step before glancing around the room and noticing how empty it was. That was his doing, of course. He wanted privacy with her, and she was rather hard to catch alone.

"Hermione," he purred, a smirk gracing his lips when her eyes flickered back to him. He could sense her unease and found he quite liked it.

"What do you want, Blaise?" she asked, an eyebrow raised as her hand clenched around what he assumed to be her wand in the pocket of her robes.

"Sit?" he asked, being bold and patting his lap.

Shock mingled with revulsion crossed her features, and his anger suddenly roared to life as she moved around his sofa and to the girls' dormitories without a word.

He clenched his hands to reign his emotions in before moving in front of her. Her eyes widened and her wand was up and pressed against his throat in an instant.

"Move."

Dropping his kindness, a sneer curled his lips as he regarded her. He wanted nothing more than to wrap his hands around her throat and squeeze until she begged for his mercy, until she fucking respected him, wanted him and looked at her stupid, Gryffindor friends with revulsion. She'd left him just like his mother, but he'd be damned if he let her go easily. No, she would be his.

He took a deep breath in and breathed out his violent thoughts. It had been awhile since he'd interacted with Hermione, and although he obsessed about her and kept an eye on what she did to the best of his abilities, confronting her took every inch of his restraint. He'd personally killed his mother's last husband over Easter, and it made him realize just how wonderfully powerful it felt to have someone beg, and Merlin, did he want her to beg.

"Your father contacted me," he said casually, "He asked me about you... about your friends."

Her eyes narrowed and she took a step forward into his personal bubble.

"What did you tell him?"

His anger gave way to annoyance when he realized she wasn't going to drop her wand any time soon.

"That depends on what you're willing to give me in return."

Her lips curled as she regarded him with anger, "Excuse me?"

"I could be willing to fudge the truth," he smirked when her wand dug even further into his throat. It didn't matter what she said or did anymore. He had the upper hand, and despite being at the other side of her wand, he knew she wouldn't jeopardize her position with him now.

"At what cost?" she asked coldly.

Victory.

"Since we're engaged, I do believe it's high time you started treating me like your other half... in every way."

Her face froze as realization dawned on her. He couldn't help but smile as she grimaced.

"Don't do this, please," she pleaded, and the sound was like music to his ears.

He shrugged indifferently.

"It's your call, darling. Nothing you say will change my mind."

She stared at him for a few moments and he could almost hear her brain whirring as she tried to find some way to get out of it. They were quite close, and he took that time to study her perfect face. Getting him contracted to her was probably the best thing his mother had ever done.

After awhile, her eyes focused on his once again, but she was at a loss for words. She was shocked still, as if she couldn't quite believe he had so readily given her this ultimatum.

"I hate you," Hermione finally hissed, her brown eyes spitting fire at him. Those words were said with so much venom that he nearly flinched. "And nothing you say or do will ever change my mind."


Room of Requirement

Today had been, quite possibly, one of the most draining days she'd had in awhile. Her emotions were reaching their climax with the stress she found herself under.

Sitting in the Room of Requirement, Hermione's stomach flipped nervously. She knew what was to come. She knew how Draco would react, but she really, truly hoped he'd stay calm. Whenever she so much as mentioned Blaise, he lost it, and the last thing she wanted to do with him was fight.

As soon as Blaise left her, she'd sent Draco a message to meet her here immediately. There was no doubt in her mind that the Slytherin would rub in their arrangement first thing tomorrow, and as she thought about it, revulsion began to creep up her throat. She swallowed roughly and tried to shove that out of her head. Draco needed to know it wasn't real – nothing she had with Blaise would ever be real. She was beginning to hate him with a vigor she thought was only reserved for Voldemort and Bellatrix.

Taking in deep breaths, Hermione focused on clearing her mind until Draco showed up. So lost was she, that when the sofa dipped right next to her and he placed a hand on her back, she screamed in fright.

"Fuck!" he hissed, moving away from her immediately and clapping his hands over his ears, "Did you not hear me enter?"

Her nerves and blooming anxiety came back in a rush as she surveyed his slightly annoyed face. There was concern in his eyes as he looked her up and down.

"Hermione?" he eventually said, frowning deeply, "Are you alright?"

That snapped her out of it and she blinked rapidly as moisture entered her eyes.

No, she bloody well was not!

"We need to talk," she managed to say, turning to stare at the floor.

"Alright..." he said slowly, clearly confused by her behavior.

"Promise me you won't blow your top," she turned towards him now and looked him dead in the eye.

The confusion and concern on his face dissipated at her words and she watched with dread as his face began to harden.

"Hermione..."

"Promise me."

"I'm not promising that bullshit," he snapped, his grey eyes meeting hers. "Spit it out, what did you do?"

"I did nothing," she retorted, becoming irritated with him, "And I want you to know that I don't want this, I didn't ask for this–"

"Spit. It. Out."

"Lucius contacted Blaise," she began, pausing as he froze. The room somehow became colder, and she took a deep breath and prayed for patience as his eyes hardened. "He wanted him to report about who I'm associating with. He clearly doesn't trust Snape, otherwise he would have believed whatever it was he told him when they met earlier today."

A cruel smile formed on Draco's face.

"He's holding it over your head isn't he?"

She grimaced at the fury in his voice.

At least he isn't breaking things, she thought, with some measure of positivity.

"I... agreed."

His eyes snapped back to hers in disbelief.

"What the fuck, Hermione? Are you bloody serious?"

"I have no other choice!" she replied indignantly, her hands clenching. "Do you think I want to be at his mercy?! If I say no, he'll expose me and Snape. It would have been different if it was just me, but I don't want to jeopardize Snape's position as a double agent. I could try to get Blaise expelled, but that won't stop him from sending Lucius an owl. I could have blackmailed him back, but I have absolutely nothing to hold over his head. An Imperius is out of the question since I'd have to hold him under one for months to keep him from exposing us. Please tell me, Draco, what the fuck could I have done?"

"You could have Obliviated him," he replied curtly.

"Ah yes," she replied sarcastically, "And then when Lucius sends him another letter asking about me, it'll be the same thing again, but even messier!"

There was a short pause as Draco just stared at her, his eyes narrowing.

"What did you agree to?"

She looked away, wishing she didn't have to tell him this.

"He wants me to play the part of his fiancée properly."

There was another short pause.

"How 'properly'?" his voice had become deadly quiet now.

"As in everything," she bit out, knowing exactly what he meant and what he was asking. "Eating together at meals... going out on dates..." she trailed off, not wanting to say it. Saying it out loud meant that it was real, and that whatever she and Draco had right now would be broken.

As much as she hadn't wanted to give in, as much as she'd bloody fought his advances for the past few months, she knew with a tinge of desperation that she wanted it – wanted him. It was why she was here, telling him and him alone, and why she wanted him to understand just how much she hated this.

"Go on," his voice was frigid. "What else?"

"You know exactly what else he wants from me! Don't try to force me to say it when you know I find it abhorrent!" she retorted angrily, her eyes flickering back to him. He was staring at her as if he couldn't quite believe he was hearing this. "Look," she began slowly, trying to calm down, "this is the last thing I wanted to tell you–"

"What's the first thing, then?" he interrupted.

"First thing?" she repeated, faltering.

"You said this was the last thing you wanted to tell me. So, what's the first?"

Her previous thoughts came back to her as she continued to stare at him, warring with herself. A large part of her wanted to just tell him the truth about how she felt and let the chips fall where they may. The other, anxious part of her began going through the list in her head – as it always did when she was confronted with this dilemma – of reasons why she shouldn't say anything at all... but as she began, those reasons seemed to fade away into nothingness. If she wanted to live in the present and stop agonizing over the future, which she firmly told herself she'd start to do, that meant dropping all of these concerns she had – all of these excuses.

That left her with a great deal of fear, but an even greater deal of anticipation. It felt freeing to finally make up her mind... and after the past few hours of emotional hell, she felt light.

"Close your eyes."

He shot her an odd look, but she just motioned for him to listen to her.

"Go on."

Raising an eyebrow, he did as she asked.

Pushing any and every reservation she had aside, in one swift move, Hermione threw one of her legs over his lap so she was straddling him. Idly, she registered the silky feel of his pajama pants against her bare legs – she was still in her Hogwart's school uniform – before bracing her hands on either side of his face and curling her fingers through his brown hair. She had just enough time to register his shocked, grey eyes and the smell of his cologne before closing the distance between them and pressing her lips against his. He stiffened at the contact, and almost immediately any confidence Hermione had began to disappear. She started to pull back, feeling hot pricks of embarrassment all over her body, before Draco suddenly jolted to life. One of his arms slipped around her waist tightly as the other slid over her neck and brought her right back to his face. She was pressed against him completely now, the lines of his torso against hers.

Hermione's eyes opened to see him staring at her with a ferocious intensity that revealed more than words could. Her stomach flipped, and her heart rate sped up and beat like a drum in her chest.

"What are you doing?" he asked, his voice deep and gravely.

She whispered, trying not to focus on how their lips brushed as she spoke, "I came here and told you this because I want you, and... and I should have said it sooner since the timing is complete shit right now–"

He cut her off with his lips, and this time the kiss was nothing like her soft, careful one. It was intense and dizzying. Her fingers automatically tightened around his hair in an effort to keep her grounded as she melted into him. He was even better than what she'd imagined whenever she'd fantasized about him. He was softer, wetter, and smoother, his lips sliding against hers before nipping at her playfully. That was when she relaxed fully, a smile curling her lips as her hands moved lightly over his jaw and to his neck. The temperature in the room increased as he teased open her mouth hotly and slid his tongue in to taste her. She let out a shaky breath as he slowly stroked hers, almost as if he were coaxing her, before becoming more insistent and devouring her as if he'd been starved and she was the only thing that could sustain him.

Whimpering, Hermione's hands slid down and under his shirt to his bare skin. She caressed him appreciatively before gently running her nails down his chest. A low groan rumbled in his throat that shot straight to her core as his hands moved to grab her arse and pull her flush against him. That was when she felt a tell-tale hardness against her thigh and her breathing hitched. His scent – both comforting and intoxicating – was everywhere, and she immediately ground against him, yearning for friction where she needed it most. His lips detached from hers and he kissed a line down her jaw and to her neck, his ragged breathing causing goosebumps to raise on her skin.

"Hermione," he groaned against her, hands moving and tightening on her hips to stop her from pressing against him again, "Merlin knows I want this... but we need to stop... now... if you intend on sleeping alone tonight."

She paused, not wanting to stop in the slightest, before pulling away slightly and looking at him. Surprise was the first emotion she felt along with a small amount of rejection which she knew was ridiculous. If she were being honest, she'd thought it would have to be her that stopped it from going any further, not him. His hair was thoroughly mussed and his lips red, but it was his eyes – as always – that made her weak. They were dark and filled with promises that she sure as hell wanted to be fulfilled.

Despite how she was quite literally aching for him, she didn't want to sleep with him this quickly and she certainly didn't want to when Blaise was hanging over their head like a sword. She gave him a quick nod, but was reluctant to move away.

He seemed to tell and a small smile lit his features.

"What brought this on?"

She shrugged, giving him a slightly embarrassed, answering smile of her own.

"I'm trying to live in the present and let go."

"Well..." his arms wrapped snugly around her hips before he moved in to give her a quick kiss. Butterflies erupted in her stomach. "It's about bloody time you did."


Great Hall – 06/01/1995

"Is this some kind of joke?" asked Ron, his eyebrows furrowing. He'd stopped eating to watch something that was going on behind them, which was worrying. Weasel never stopped eating.

Draco exchanged a glance with Harry, who was sitting next to him, before they both turned to see what the red-head was looking at.

Hermione had just taken a seat next to Blaise, who was ostentatiously holding her hand on top of the Slytherin table and talking to her as if they hadn't been engaged in a cold war for the past year. Draco's eyes flickered between them before resting on their hands once more as anger brewed inside him.

"He's mental, Ron," muttered Harry, turning back around and focusing on his breakfast. "It's a shame Hermione has to deal with him."

"There's a room in St. Mungo's waiting for him," stated Draco coldly, "I can't say whether he'll end up there thanks to my wand or because he's lost his mind, however."

"She alright?" asked a new voice.

The trio turned to see Fred and George looking at them along with Dean, Neville, and Seamus.

"She never talks about Zabini, but everyone knows she wants nothing to do with him," said Neville, confusion on his features. "Hermione has always been nice to us–"

"Keep an eye on her, then," interrupted Draco, his eyes flickering meaningfully between them. "Blaise is a bloody nutter, and a Slytherin on top of that. Extra pairs of eyes watching them would be useful–"

"But why is she–"

"Honestly, Dean... knowing what family she comes from... do you really want to know?" said Harry, picking at his eggs.

"Don't worry, Granger–" Fred began, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"–we'll keep an eye on your girlfriend," finished George, grinning.

The twins guffawed as Neville spat his drink out all over Seamus, and Draco choked on his toast.

"Girlfriend?!"

"Bloody hell, Neville, really?!" moaned Seamus, grimacing at his wet clothing and food.

"Are you really that shocked, Longbottom?" asked Dean, a bewildered expression on his face. "Those two practically snog each other with their eyes every time I see them–"

Ron burst into laughter now, nodding his head in agreement, and to Draco's immense displeasure, he felt a blush begin to form on his cheeks.

"Shut up," he snapped, glaring icily at them even as an image of Hermione from last night popped into his head. He fought down a smug smirk, knowing that it would only make it worse. Normally, he would have loved to fuel the rumors with a sly comment, but in this case, it would do Hermione no favors when it came to Blaise or Lucius.


She itched to take her hand out from under Blaise's on the table, but she resisted, knowing it would piss him off. So far, he hadn't tried doing anything out of line, and she could only hope he'd keep it that way.

Daphne and Pansy were sitting across from them and gossiping, both pretending she was invisible. A strange satisfaction filled her, however, when she noticed both of the girls glancing with barely concealed irritation at Blaise's hand over hers on the table from time to time. She might abhor being around Blaise, but at least he was good for pissing off Parkinson and Greengrass.

Nott was on her right quietly reading the Daily Prophet, and Oberon was a few seats down, talking to a few Slytherins she didn't know but recognized.

All in all, it was weird and uncomfortable sitting here once again after spending so much time at the Gryffindor table. She'd become a nobody in her own house because of her Gryffindor affiliation, and after awhile, people had forgotten she'd really existed.

Or perhaps they just forced themselves to pretend she didn't.

Blaise had turned to speak to Goyle about something – the two laughing like idiots – and once again she itched to take her hand out from under his.

Loud, familiar laughter echoed from the Gryffindor table and her head snapped up, a small smile automatically curving her lips.

"Look at Longbottom," she heard Blaise sneer, "A bloody disgrace..."

Her uncovered hand clenched automatically as anger started to boil inside her. Taking a deep breath in and out, she focused on her food and grabbed a book to read.

Hexing him on the first day would be quite counterproductive.

She glanced up once again at the Gryffindor table as she pushed her plate to the side. A familiar, intense pair of grey eyes was staring at her now, and her breath caught in her throat. Dropping her eyes immediately to her book, she pretended to read, acutely aware of the hand Blaise was holding on top of the table.

"Still can't help but make moon-eyes at the mud-blood, Malfoy?" Pansy's annoying drawl cut through her thoughts, and Hermione froze. Blaise's hand tightened around her own, and he shifted in his seat, but continued talking to Goyle.

Her eyes flickered upwards to see Daphne buttering a piece of toast, and Parkinson eyeing her like she was a particularly ugly bug.

She shrugged, a smirk materializing on her face as her eyes flickered back to her book, "I'd be careful if I were you, Pansy. It almost sounds like you're jealous. I could only imagine how disappointed your father would be if he found out you wanted a mud-blood to get in your pants before marriage. He quite prefers you keep it restricted to pure-bloods, right?"

Blaise and – to her immense surprise – Nott burst into laughter as she turned bright red.

"How dare you!" she hissed venomously, her eyes narrowing into slits, "At least I'm not a whore for most of Gryffindor!"

"So it's true, then?" she continued, canting her head to the side, "You are letting everyone with pure-blood into your pants? I suppose if I spread my legs like that too, it would get old after awhile. No wonder Granger caught your eye. Ready to go to class, Blaise?" She turned to look at him with a fake, sweet smile, feeling a horrible sense of satisfaction when Pansy spluttered incomprehensibly and began to curse her. Daphne made no move to say anything, instead engaging Tracey Davis in conversation as if she hadn't heard any of it.

Blaise smirked at her and made a grand gesture, "Lead the way, Hermione."


Hogsmeade – 06/20/1995

It had been a slow few weeks, and in just two more, the school year would finally come to a close. A sense of dread was beginning to fill her as the Third Task drew nearer and nearer, but she couldn't quite pinpoint why. Despite all she and Draco had done, it felt almost like part of it was in vain. As such, she'd created a back-up plan, and although her strategy wasn't the best, she felt this one was nearly fool-proof.

In the event that Voldemort was creating plans to come back with the intention of obtaining Harry's blood – which, she knew, was necessary – then that meant the only suitable time to get to him would be a portkey, much like before. The best way would be during the Third Task, as well. So what was the only other option? Forcing him and Draco to not touch the trophy, no matter what.

She'd had much time to herself to think now that Blaise kept a tight watch over what she did. It was incredibly annoying, but she would let it go... for now. Thankfully, he hadn't done anything untoward, and although she had no idea why he hadn't, she was begrudgingly grateful.

Meeting Harry, Ron, and Draco was a mission nowadays, but they managed to accomplish it, and when she couldn't, Draco was more than competent in DADA to help train for the final task.

Currently, they were standing close to the Shrieking Shack and away from the bustle of the village. Sadly enough, this was the only time they'd actually had to themselves, and she wanted to cherish it. She'd found a moment to slip away from Blaise – to her horror, he'd taken her to Madam Puddifoots,of all bloody places – find Draco, and hide.

"Do you truly think he's going to come back this year?"

Their arms were touching as they both leaned against the fence and stared at the beautiful landscape.

"I want to say he won't... but logic says yes," she replied, a sad smile on her face. "He's going to be desperate now that we've screwed with his original plan, whatever it may have been."

"So no touching the trophy?" he repeated, turning to look at her now.

"Just to be on the safe side, it's best if you don't. As for the coins," she nodded towards the two coins she'd charmed to help them find each other in the maze, "they vibrate at steadily increasing intervals the closer you get to each other."

"Honestly, I think you've thought of most everything... and yet–"

"–and yet we still have a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs that it'll all go to shit," she sighed, turning to look at him.

"If it does," he began slowly, "I'll get Harry and myself out of there as quickly as possible."

"After that, you'll flee to America?" she teased, arching an eyebrow.

Draco stared at her for a few moments in silence, and the atmosphere around them became more serious.

"Only if you'll come with me," he finally answered, an almost challenging tone to his voice.

She shot him a look to cover her surprise. She'd only been joking with him, and on top of that, never had he once proposed in the past, when he was serious about being a cowardly git, that she join him. "You know I won't. Besides, the only way we can get out of this mess we're in is if we do what the fairy asks."

"Exactly," he retorted, rolling his eyes, "So I suppose I'll stay here with you until this mess is sorted out..." His grey eyes flickered to their hands against the rail and with a tenderness she didn't know he had, he slowly moved to hold her hand. Her eyes looked from him to their entwined fingers and she cleared her throat, feeling blood rush to her face at the uncharacteristic sweetness of it. Glancing down at her watch, she frowned.

"How much more time do you have?" he asked, an edge to his voice.

"I told Blaise I'd be back in a half hour from Tomes and Scrolls. I only have another ten minutes, which should be more than enough for me to go and buy a few things and then–"

She was cut off by Draco's lips, which descended on hers with a fierce intensity that she truly hadn't been expecting. Her hands immediately went to where his were placed on her jaw to hold her to him, as his tongue coaxed her mouth open. It only took her a few seconds before her hands moved to his coat, fisted the material, and brought him as close to her as possible. The distressing thought that she might not have a chance to talk to him before the Third Task began flashed through her mind, and she wanted to make the most of it.

Hermione's mouth opened for him, and desire coursed through her body as their tongues clashed again and again and again. She realized now, with the way her hands trembled and her body heated as his hands pressed against her body and made their way under her winter cloak, that the desire she felt for Ron paled in comparison to her desire for Draco. Her breathing hitched as his hand clenched around her dress and wrenched it up, and she found herself happy to have a wardrobe filled with only that item of clothing for entirely lascivious reasons.

He moved them until her back was pressed against the railing as his hand made its slow descent up her bare back. He pulled away from her lips and pressed his face against the crook of her neck, letting out a groan that went straight to her core and gave her goosebumps.

"You have no idea how long I've wanted to touch you like this," he murmured as his fingers slid back down her spine. A shiver ran through her and her arms tightened around his neck.

Just as he began to kiss his way back up to her lips, a loud beeping sound rang out and they both froze. She groaned inwardly as he sighed against her neck and she removed her arms from around him. Glancing at her watch again, she only had five minutes.

"You have to bloody go back to that asshole, don't you?" Draco's voice was tight and filled with venom, and it was her turn to sigh now.

"It's not forever, only until Lucius stops corresponding with him about Merlin knows what," she replied, not bothering to hide her distaste, "Then I can figure something out."

He replied with a soft kiss to her neck before slowly releasing her. She instantly missed his warmth as he gave her room to right her clothing and cloak.

Once she was finished, she glanced back up at him to find him staring at the Shrieking Shack again. Moving forward automatically, she moved into him and gave him a tight hug. His smell enveloped her once again, and she basked in the feeling of safety as his arms moved around her.

"Be safe," she whispered, once again feeling dread creep over her at the thought of the Third Task.

"You too," he replied, his arms tightening around her for a split second, before letting her go.

Hermione moved away and up the hill before turning to glance at him again – he was staring back at her with an unreadable expression on his face – before she quickly made her way to the book store. Grabbing a few books that seemed interesting, she quickly paid for them and ran to find Blaise in front of The Three Broomsticks, as planned.

He eyed her red cheeks with slight suspicion as she came into view, but to her immense relief said nothing.

"Sorry," she said quietly, out of breath from running across the town. She prayed she'd look convincing enough. "I lost track of time."

He rolled his eyes and nodded before easily slipping a hand around her waist as they made towards the castle. As always, she repressed her instinct to move away from him and tried to relax.

"What did you buy?" he asked, sounding as polite as ever. Over the past few weeks, she'd come to realize that as long as she listened to him, he'd be on his best behavior. As much as it pained her, she tried to hold her tongue as much as possible and let him believe he'd truly succeeded in his stupid, barbaric notion of 'owning' her.

She decided awhile back that she would entertain him until his correspondence with Lucius ended. Once that happened, she'd find some way to modify his memory and ensure he never felt the need to pick up a quill and write about her friends or activities.

A genuine smile curled her lips at the thought of finally being free of him, and she looked up at him. He seemed surprised at her happiness, but sent her an answering smirk in response, nonetheless.

"Nothing really," she began, "Just DADA-related books and one on magical creatures." Her eyes flickered to the wrapped package that Blaise was holding for her as the castle loomed over them. "I know we have them in our library, but I'd rather own them for myself."

He stopped them in front of the castle doors in the courtyard and stared at her.

"So what were you actually doing for the half hour I gave you?" his tone was still polite, but there was an underlying hardness to it that immediately made her uneasy.

Deciding to feign ignorance, she frowned.

"What do you mean?"

His hand tightened painfully on her waist, and he dropped the books with a loud crash. She could feel the eyes of a few other students on them as he stared at her. There was a dangerous glint to his eyes now, but he said nothing until they were out of earshot.

"I'm not an idiot, you know," he began, an odd smile on his lips. "I sent Daphne after you, since I was curious..." he trailed off before moving closer to her. "You can just imagine what she told me, right?" He moved until it looked like they were hugging, his mouth by her ear. "I'll give you this one last chance to tell me what the fuck you were doing."

Anger and embarrassment at what Daphne could have possibly seen surged through her, and she pushed him away. Her brain flooded with possible ways she could avoid this spiraling confrontation, but they were either too complicated or weren't fool-proof enough for her. Instead, she dropped to the ground and picked up the books – Really, why punish the books, she thought with irritation – before promptly turning and walking quickly to get away from him. His footsteps followed quickly behind her, and she sped up, placing the books in her bag.

A plan was forming in her head that was completely mental, but it was the only chance she had to try to rectify this situation.

Just as she turned a corner, his hand shot out and grabbed her forearm and she relented, looking around to make sure no one was near them. She'd purposefully led him to a more deserted part of the castle.

Blaise roughly pulled her into a nearby alcove and her hand clenched around her wand automatically. She could feel the anger radiating off him as he glared at her, a crazed look in his eyes.

"So despite everything we talked about, you're still interested in that fucking mud-blood," he spat, his arms coming up to trap her against the wall. "I've been fairly patient, Hermione," he continued, his voice cooling as he stared at her, "I've been nothing but polite because we're fucking engaged–"

She winced.

"–but you still make the wrong decisions."

"Are you going to tell Lucius?" she asked simply, her hand still clenched around her wand under her robes. No matter his response, she resolved to Obliviate this memory from him, right here, right now.

A chilling grin materialized on his face.

"I suppose that depends on how you react, doesn't it?"

Before her mouth could even form the words to ask a question, he pressed his lips against hers punishingly. Hermione froze for a split second, shocked that he'd been thinking of anything like that at all, before revulsion coursed through her body as his hands moved under her cloak. She sucked her lips in to prevent his from touching hers as she elbowed him away, gasping. His hands shot out immediately to grab her and she screamed, ducking under him and nearly tripping out of the alcove.

"Don't touch me!" she screeched, pointing her wand in his face as his hands held onto her arms tightly.

There was a dark look in his eyes as he glared at her.

"The deal is off," he hissed.

"Stupefy!"

He ducked, the spell just narrowly missing the top of his head, before attempting to wrench the wand out of her hands. Her back hit the wall in their struggle as she tried to get him off her, adrenaline pounding through her veins as she realized the severity of the situation. She thought it depressing that a part of her was truly shocked that he'd stoop this low. She knew he was horrible, cruel, and obsessive, but never would she have thought he'd attempt to force her. His lips descended once again on hers and she screamed against him before biting down on his tongue, hard. He made a pained sound and backed off, but not enough. His grip was still tight on her wand as he tried to pry it out of her hands. Without thinking, she immediately brought her knee up and crushed him right where it hurt.

He gasped and let go of her just enough so she could turn her wand back on him and recast the spell. This time it hit, and he went flying back into the opposite wall, unconscious.

She breathed heavily and let out a sob as relief-filled tears flooded her vision. She felt the wetness on her cheeks as she looked around the hall to make sure no one had seen them. Positive they were truly alone, she levitated him into a nearby empty classroom, wiping away the tears with shaky hands and taking deep breaths. She needed to relax if this was going to work, but a substantial amount of adrenaline was still coursing through her veins. Deciding to take a few minutes to herself, she walked over to one of the cabinets in the room and pulled out a random container.

"Aguamenti," she croaked, watching as it filled with cold water before splashing it on her face. It chilled and calmed her down, and she dropped into one of the chairs and willed herself to rest for a moment and get her heart rate back to normal. It wouldn't be long now until he woke up, so she needed to be quick. Swallowing her outrage at his actions, she focused on the task at hand. Getting riled up again would only make it harder for her to Obliviate him properly, and the last thing she needed right now was a botched memory job.

Standing, she walked over to him and gazed down at him. He looked carefree while unconscious and as she raised her wand, her heart twisted just a little.

If things were different, perhaps our friendship wouldn't have come down to this, she thought bitterly, sadness over what could have been weighing down on her.

Taking another deep breath, she closed her eyes and focused on the events of today with Blaise before pointing her wand properly at him. She'd do a memory altering charm later and fabricate a story once she got him into the Slytherin dorms.

"Obliviate."


Slytherin Dorms

After implanting the right memories, Hermione dug into her beaded bag and found a few of Fred and George's candies from their Skiving Snackboxes. She'd thrown some in there as a precautionary measure right before the war, and she was glad they were finally coming to good use. Grabbing a Fainting Fancy, she discarded the candy and shoved the wrapper in Blaise's pocket.

Grabbing her wand, she pointed it at him. After she ensured the memory charms worked on him, Daphne would be her next target. A strong Obliviate and a few implanted memories would do the trick.

"Ennervate."

He jolted awake immediately before looking around and groaning, squeezing his eyes shut.

"Blaise?" she said slowly, watching as he placed a hand on his head and laid back down on his bed.

"What the fuck happened?" he asked, opening his eyes slowly once again and wincing. "Why am I–"

"Fred Weasley goaded you into eating one of his candies as we were leaving Hogsmeade, and you stupidly ingested it and it caused you to faint," she answered, glaring at him. "I had to levitate you back here myself and waited for it to wear off since they wouldn't give me a bloody antidote."

He groaned once again and closed his eyes.

"I remember now. That's why I have this bloody colossal headache, I'm guessing?"

She relaxed infinitesimally before nodding.

"Just sleep it off," she rose from his bed and grabbed her wand, tucking it back in the pocket of her robes. "You weren't waking up, so I Ennervated you to make sure there weren't any adverse side effects. Is it fine if I... go?" she prodded, feeling the same jab of annoyance she always felt at having to ask as if she needed his permission.

He waved her off, his features relaxing as sleep began to claim him. She bit her lip to stop an accomplished smirk from forming on her face as she moved towards the door and left.


*Laughs nervously* Oh hi, yeah, I'm still alive. This update is only HALF of what I had intended to fit into this chapter but I clearly didn't plan the end of fourth year correctly and for that I'm sorry. I feel like the past few updates (sporadic as they have been) have had an A/N with me announcing that we'll get the Third Task in the next update every time xD This time, however, I swear it's true. The entire next chapter is just the tournament and a little bit of a build-up to it. I wanted to post this without the Third Task because A) This is almost 10,000 words and can function on its own, B) honestly, who knows how long the Third Task will be for me to write and a 20,000 word chapter with all the crazy shit that's happening INCLUDING the conclusion of fourth year will just be too much, and C) it's been so long and a lot of things happen in this, I might as well post it so you guys don't have to wait even longer. Long story short: Nursing school is kicking my ass lmao T_T

Anyway, go on and tell me how much you hate Blaise. I can't wait to read those comments because I hate him, too, but I think we all saw something of this sort coming and Hermione is playing along... for now. As soon as she's in the clear, she's gonna book it. And as for Draco and Hermione... :))))))) If there are mistakes, I'm sorry, I'll fix them when I wake up tomorrow. I can't believe I'm still awake lmao it's almost 6am. Anyway, as per usual, I'm nervous for all of your thoughts on this chapter and the next so please drop a nice review if you enjoyed it and ease my worries~

Please do favorite/alert/review!


Tumblr: potterston