Chapter 37 – Little Lies

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.

Grimmauld Place

"I can't be here long," Hermione began as soon as they appeared in Grimmauld. "If anyone finds out I'm not in my bed, I'm going to have it," a tinge of fear suffused her voice. "Suffice to say that Voldemort has a plan, but I don't know how or when he's planning on doing any of it. It has to do with the Department of Mysteries." She held Draco's eyes for a fraction longer. He gave her a short nod. "He's also planning an Azkaban breakout, likely for Bellatrix Lestrange and his other followers."

"Lestrange…" Harry trailed off, trying to place the name before stiffening. "She's related to the ones who broke out last year, isn't she?" Harry inquired, his eyes focused on Hermione. "The two Lestrange brothers."

"There's only one now," said Draco morbidly.

She nodded before swallowing against the knot in her throat, "She's insane, Harry… She's… she's also my aunt." The words nearly choked her on their way out.

She could feel her scars itch once again, as if waking up from a long slumber at just the mention of the person responsible for putting them there in the first place.

He stared at her for a moment, concern in his eyes.

"You alright, Hermione?"

"You're shaking," murmured Draco quietly before placing a hand on her shoulder and moving her to sit on one of the twin beds just behind her.

"I'm fine," she managed, placing her head in her hands to try and clear her mind of the horrid memories associated with that woman. Her heart rate slowed as her eyes focused on the wooden floor of the room, and she calmed. "I just hate her."

She felt the bed dip next to her as Harry sat down. He awkwardly placed a hand on her shoulder in comfort.

"How did you find this out?"

"I was eavesdropping."

There was a long silence.

"There's more," she hesitated, gradually sitting up to glance at them both, "but it might…"

She trailed off, observing the expressions on both of their faces.

"What is it?"

Draco looked irritated, and at her gaze, began to flush. Harry seemed at war with himself.

"Draco?" she frowned.

He nudged his chin towards the raven-haired man.

"Spit it out, Potter. Might as well get it over with."

Nervous fear began to take root in the pit of her stomach.

"You're scaring me."

"Maybe we should… er… wait?" it was posed as a question as Harry ran a hand through his hair.

"I'm sitting right here," she cut in, arching a brow. Whatever it is, it wasn't going to wait. Not anymore. "What is it?"

Harry glanced at Draco again. He shot him a sarcastic smile, gesturing for him to go on, before falling backwards onto the other twin bed with his arms crossed. The springs groaned with his weight.

There was a short moment of contemplation on Harry's end before he seemed to make up his mind and turned to her.

"Do you remember the day we met?"

She frowned.

"Of course," she responded slowly, trying to figure out where he was going with this. "We were on the train. I was helping Neville find his toad."

"Yes, and you recognized Draco."

She opened her mouth to protest, but he continued.

"The day we all were in the Chamber of Secrets, you and Draco were fighting and talking about things none of us knew of," he was giving her a knowing look, "I didn't care at the time. I chalked it up to the fact that you two constantly have explosive fights."

Her eyes shot to Draco, who was laying on the bed. His entire body was tense as he listened. She could feel her heart beginning to pick up speed. She knew where this was going.

"You're in Slytherin, you're the daughter of one of the most famous and notorious families in the wizarding world, but you don't seem to care. At all."

"Harry–" she breathed, her mouth going dry.

"I didn't think much of any of it until this year. You two are always one step ahead and none of us have really understood why or how, but I refuse to believe it's a coincidence, and Draco confirmed it."

Hermione froze, feeling as if all the air had been sucked out of her lungs. Her plan had been to deny or evade if possible, up until then. She took in a deep, shuddering breath before looking at Draco.

"What did you tell him?" she demanded in a deceptively smooth voice.

He sat up unhurriedly, leaning on an elbow to observe her. His face was unreadable, but his eyes were sharp.

"Nothing," he replied, his voice controlled. His eyes stared deeply into hers, as if trying to communicate something. She merely arched a brow and pursed her lips. "He just knows there's something going on. He bloody tricked me into saying so. I just didn't want to reveal that you were a Seer without your presence."

Hermione nearly choked on her own spit as Harry's jaw dropped next to her. She shot Draco a glare, and he sent her a wicked smile back before flopping back down onto the bed.

"You're a Seer, Hermione? Like that old bat, Trelawney?"

She ground her teeth in anger.

"Exactly like that," interjected Draco.

Hermione's hands twitched, the urge to hit him overwhelming. She could feel him grinning even though she couldn't see his face.

"Not like her!" she snarled, causing Harry to jump. "Not!"

She stopped herself before she could say anymore. Taking in a breath, she closed her eyes for a moment, attempting to allow the anger to leave her body.

"I can't stay for much longer, but yes, I am a…" her mouth faltered even forming the word. She grimaced, "I'm a Seer."

"Why didn't you tell us?" he pushed forward, frowning. The implications were beginning to set in for him, and he slowly started to appear angry. "You knew things and didn't–"

"It's not like giving a prophecy," cut in Draco once again. The glare she bore into the side of his skull was frigid. "It's just been random images for her. Right?" He turned and met her gaze, as if daring her to say something.

"Right," she fumed internally, going along with it. "I only see vague images… sometimes words or feelings."

"She usually doesn't know what they mean half the time, and they're very sporadic and rare," Draco shrugged, "Believe me, mate, she'd have woken you up in the middle of the night if it meant telling you something important."

Harry deflated a little at his words, and somewhere in back of the blonde's mind, she was grateful Draco was there.

"You're right. I'm… sorry, Hermione. I shouldn't have said that."

Some of her anger dissipated and she gave him a quick upward quirk of her lips and a nod.

"We can tell you more at a later date," she said quietly, "For now, can we please keep this between us?" His green eyes landed on hers for a moment and he nodded.

"I won't say anything."

She let out a small sigh of relief.

"Send your letters to me with Fay. I have to go now," she stood up and called for her elf, who appeared in a crack that caught Harry off-guard. "I've been gone long enough."

She gave Harry a hug, which he returned just as strongly.

"Stay safe," he whispered.

"I will."

Going over to Draco, she left him with a hug and a promise of retribution.

"You better hope and pray I don't get you alone anytime soon," she hissed under her breath, moving out of his arms before he could respond.

He just gave her a suggestive smirk, which made her traitorous insides flip, before she took hold of Fay's hand, shot him a parting glare, and left.

Draco honestly thought he deserved a bloody medal for thinking up such a fantastic excuse, but clearly Hermione wasn't having it. It made him giddy to see her so enraged; she was truly so much fun to rile up after all this time.

Even if she did try to yell at him, he could think of a couple of utterly satisfying ways to shut her up. His lips widened into a lascivious smile at the thought.

The brunet snapped out of it when he heard the mattress next to his creak with Harry's movement. The Boy-Who-Lived pulled the blankets over him, becoming comfortable once more on the bed.

"Hermione hates Divination."

Sliding the covers over himself, Draco contemplated that statement.

"I don't think it's just the subject," he turned to glance at Harry. He was far more intuitive than anyone gave him credit for. "She hates Trelawney as a teacher."

"I suppose," he replied, still sounding unconvinced.

"Hermione barely even believes in her own, uh… Seer magic, let alone that of a mad woman who spouts off prophecies while appearing possessed," scoffed Draco, rolling his eyes and laying on his back. He stared up at the ceiling, noticing a large crack. The Black house was really only held together by its old, ancestral magic – it was a testament to how powerful the Black family was. "Is it so surprising she'd prefer a more logical subject? She isn't even a proper Seer."

"Is that how you two knew each other? She had a vision?"

He hesitated for just a moment.

"That's what she told me."

Draco knew he was beginning to walk on thin ice with these explanations. The less they had to lie, the better.

"Has she had visions of me?"

Yup, definitely thin ice.


Harry eventually turned to survey him, his green eyes glowing in the darkness. The only light in the room came from the half-moon.

"Then why didn't she say anything?"

"Hermione didn't, and still doesn't, want anyone to know. She…" he trailed off, wracking his brain for a good enough excuse, "She didn't want to be treated differently or used. She just wants to be normal." He was struck by how true those words were, both now and years ago when he was a Malfoy and she was just the annoying Muggle-born Gryffindor. He glanced over at Harry and saw that he was mulling it over. If anyone could understand that sentiment, it would be Potter, which is one of the reasons he verbalized it.

To Draco's relief, he seemed to accept that answer.

"And how long have you known?"

He cleared his throat.

"I've suspected for a long time, but she told me fairly recently."

"Well, I'm happy to have been finally let in on the secret," Harry said. "D'you think she'd have ever told me on her own?"

"Of course," he replied automatically, his mind elsewhere as he tried to think of ways to steer the conversation away from this topic. "You're her closest friend."

Harry snorted, "I think that title, along with a few others, is reserved solely for you, mate."

Draco's mind came to a shuddering halt as a feeling of elation set in along with the childish happiness that came with beating Harry at something. That momentary joy was stamped out, however, as his mind shifted to Blaise, and his mood soured once again.

"Not for long. Soon she'll have Zabini," he retorted flatly, "and she can't break that engagement."

There was a painful moment of silence. He'd been avoiding that topic for a while, and uttering the truth out loud felt like a prison sentence.

"Then what are you two doing?" asked Harry in disbelief.

His mind shifted to his predicament with Astoria, nearly forgotten in the face of Hermione's much larger and more pressing issue with the Italian wizard.

"I don't know."

That morning, Draco woke up in an utterly foul mood. Harry seemed to sense it and seeing as the Boy-Who-Lived had started to become even more broody this year, left him well alone. It was a relief.

Despite the mood, Draco reluctantly penned a short, very vague letter to Dumbledore informing him that Harry knew Hermione was a Seer and left it at that. The less detail, the better, in the event that it was intercepted. Besides, the old coot would be smart enough to pick up the underlying message.

It was high time they all had another chat.

Malfoy Manor – 07/14/1995

Hermione awoke that morning to Fay trying to wake her as gently as possible. It took barely a second for her to realize there as a short letter in the small elf's hands before she quickly accepted it, trying to rub the sleep from her eyes. Sitting up so suddenly caused her body to protest, but she ignored the desire to fall back into bed and swiftly unfolded the note.

9:45 pm: room with the family tree. – D

Relieved that she'd received a letter, even if it was irritatingly late, she got up and threw it into the fireplace before muttering an Incendio and plopping down in front of it to ensure it burned to ash.

"Does Miss Hermione want to reply?" Fay whispered softly, moving to stand next to her.

Hermione glanced at the elf before placing a hasty Muffliato around them.

"I don't, Fay. However, I have to leave tonight for a short time. When I do, do not let anyone in my room. Tell them I'm taking a long bath and don't want to be disturbed. Can you do that for me?"

"Anything for Miss Hermione," she declared with reverence.

The blonde shot her a smile before getting up and giving her an affectionate pat on the head. Not for the first time did she thank her lucky stars to have Fay, even if she hadn't wanted her in the first place.

"Thank you, Fay. Please be careful."

"Miss should not worry about me! Miss should be more careful and worry about herself!" she warned, giving her a stern look, before Disapparating.

Hermione sighed and sat down on her bed.

"Don't I know it," she mumbled under her breath.

Grimmauld Place

Draco was staring at the family tree solemnly, which is exactly how Hermione found him when she appeared in the room at 9:45 on the dot.

He said nothing as he heard Fay leave with a crack, and as Hermione came up behind him, he simply pointed.

There, right under his finger, was her picture on the Black family tapestry. She was sneering at them haughtily, the expression eerily similar to that of Bellatrix's just above her.

"Is this the first time you're seeing the tapestry?" she asked, her hand coming up to caress the scorched area where Sirius's head would have been had it not been burned off decades ago.

"Yes," he answered, the word coming out bitter on his tongue. It burned him to realize this was the first and only time he'd seen a full tree of his mother's side of the family.

It was irrational, he knew.

"Is that why we're here?"


"Then why?"

"You're going to be upset I didn't tell you in the letter," he stated, turning to face her with an unpleasant smile on his face.

Her expression instantly darkened.

"We're meeting with Dumbledore at 10," he revealed casually, moving away from her and to a small sofa on the opposite end of the room. "I took it upon myself to inform him of what happened with Harry."

She just stared at him for a moment.

"And you didn't think I needed to know this, why?" she asked in a relatively even tone.

"I didn't want to say anything too specific… just in case."

"Well, I can't fault you for that," she mumbled, walking over to the sofa and sitting next to him. "So…" she continued in a light tone, "What's the plan?"

"You trust me enough to come up with one on my own?" he teased, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Yes," she retorted curtly. A smirk formed on his face. She was feisty tonight. He rather preferred her that way. "Now, back to your plan."

"Not here. We're meeting Dumbledore elsewhere," he got up from the sofa before extending a hand to her.

She arched a brow skeptically and eyed him.

"Where are we going?"

"You'll see," he smirked, extending the hand further.

She rolled her eyes, looking supremely irritated, before grabbing it. He pulled her up – much closer to his body than necessary – before they left the room and walked downstairs and out onto the top step of Grimmauld Place. As soon as the front door shut behind them, he Apparated them away.

Granger House

They landed inside the living room, which was silent and dark. Moonlight filtered in through the windows of the patio and kitchen, casting parts of the house in a bright, but eerie, glow. His parents wouldn't be back until tomorrow, which had given Dumbledore just enough time to ward the house before their return.

Since Harry was not living alone with muggles in this timeline, that made Draco the most obvious target, especially considering just how deeply Lucius's hatred of him ran.

Hermione gasped as she recognized her house immediately, detaching herself from him to walk over to the kitchen area, her wand out and lit. He watched as she touched nearly everything with reverence – the countertops, the pictures, the backs of the dining table chairs. Although there had been times they'd transfigured the Room of Requirement into her house, he supposed it was a different experience for her to actually be in it, altogether.

"Why are we here?" she whispered, turning to him. He could see the emotion on her face as she re-familiarized herself with her childhood home, and it instantly made him uncomfortable. He should have brought her here years ago. "Where are my… your…"

"Our parents?" he supplied, grimacing. They both cringed at the wording. He resolved to never say it like that ever again. "They're at a convention. Won't be back until tomorrow." He sat down on the couch and watched as she made her way back to him, her eyes instantly taking in the frames on the walls. "Dumbledore's warded the place heavily. He claimed he's planning on stationing Order members here on rotation once they get back."

She nodded before finally sitting down opposite him, her eyes still glancing around the home. At long last, they landed on him and there was a glint of determination in their depths.

"The plan?"

"We need the locket, right?" he prompted, leaning forward and placing his elbows on his knees, "But we need Kreacher to do that, and there's only one person who can get Kreacher to give up something that precious."

"Yes, Sirius," she murmured, frowning, "Are you suggesting we tell him that I'm a… Seer?" she spat the word out like acid, and he grinned.

"I was wondering when you'd finally bring that up. Quite a brilliant save, wasn't it?"

She pressed her lips together as her eyes flashed angrily.

"Draco, I cannot believe–"

"I saved our sorry arses," he interrupted, effectively cutting her off. "In case you've forgotten, it's not even true–"

"Yes, you did," she snapped, "But you didn't have to be such a damn prick about it! You know I hate Divination! It's utter trash!"

"Does it matter in the long run?" he sat back and looked at the ceiling, praying for patience. This was hilarious for all of two seconds before Hermione went and lost it on him. "Does it truly matter if Harry thinks you're–"

"It does if that means I have to keep up this charade for the rest of my life," she hissed. Her voice was quickly becoming shrill. She jabbed a finger at him. "In case you've forgotten, we may be stuck here! Forever!"

They were both glaring at each other now. A small pop signaled Dumbledore's arrival and startled them out of their staring match.

"Miss Malfoy, Mister Granger," Dumbledore greeted. He glanced between the two of them before his eyes sparkled knowingly. It made Draco want to hit him. "I hope I'm not interrupting something."

"Not at all, Professor," said Hermione. Draco rolled his eyes as he watched her cross her arms and sit primly on top of one of the armchairs.

"I trust you've both been well?" he queried, his eyes landing on Hermione for a beat longer than necessary. Draco watched as her jaw clenched. They both nodded in agreement.

"Then let's get right to it," he continued cheerily.

Gathering his robes – a fluorescent orange that was so bright it nearly glowed – the older wizard sat near Hermione on the only other chair in the living room.

"Sir," she cleared her throat as he regarded her expectantly, "Draco told me you're watching this house to protect the Grangers."

"I am," he agreed, waiting for her to continue.

"I wanted to know, will Mundungus Fletcher be stationed here? He can't be trusted."

Draco frowned, unable to place the name. It was vaguely familiar…

Curiosity flashed in Dumbledore's eyes.

"Why is that, Miss Malfoy?"

"He's too preoccupied with selling stolen items for galleons than protecting others," her tone conveyed just how much she disapproved of the man. "He's made grave… errors… before, and I don't want the Grangers or the rest of the Order to pay for his mistakes."

There was a beat of silence as Dumbledore seemed to think on it for a moment.

"Very well," he eventually spoke, a contemplative look forming on his face. "Perhaps we can come up with another solution."

Draco watched as Hermione relaxed.

"Thank you, Professor."

He sent her a small smile.

"Now, I've heard that you, Miss Malfoy, are a Seer?" his eyes twinkled over his half-moon spectacles.

"It wasn't quite my idea, sir," she countered tersely, her brown eyes flashing to Draco's.

"It was mine," he clarified, leaning back on the sofa, chin up. "Harry knew something was wrong, and it seemed like the best option to go with at the time."

"Quick thinking on your part, Mister Granger," approved Dumbledore, his hand stroking his beard. "I take it only Harry knows?"

"Yes," he acknowledged, keeping his face impassive and throwing up his rather impeccable Occlumency shields, "But Sirius needs to know. In fact, he and Harry should know everything. Particularly about the horcruxes."

"And why is that?" his blue eyes locked onto his sharply.

"Other than the fact that one of the horcruxes is in Grimmauld Place and can only be retrieved by Sirius?" he stated casually, "Harry's scar. I suspect–we suspect," he amended, glancing at Hermione, "that you've known for awhile, Professor. That's not just a regular scar. Harry's dreams aren't normal."

Dumbledore sighed, looking weary and very much his age.

"I had my suspicions…" he remarked softly, "but I had hoped against it. Placing that particular burden onto Harry's shoulders is not something I would, however, prefer to do at this time."

The message was quite clear. If they told Harry anyway, there would likely be hell to pay for foiling Dumbledore's plans for the two of them, whatever they may be. Draco felt torn. It would be easier to stay quiet, and he had but a shadow of a doubt in his mind that he could do it, but he was unsure how long Hermione could. If he knew her, which he believed at this point he did – remarkably well, actually – she would ultimately snap.

"I understand," Hermione finally conceded, meeting Dumbledore's gaze steadily. Her expression was almost pained. "But they need to at least know about the horcruxes, if nothing else."

"Very well," he stood up, glancing between the two of them over his glasses. "Is there anything else you both wish to tell me?"

"No, Professor," they both answered simultaneously, sparing each other a quick glance.

"Then I bid you both a goodnight."

He turned around, ready to Disapparate, before pausing and looking back at Hermione.

"Be safe, the both of you," his voice was grave. "I'll be in touch."

With that, he twirled on the spot and disappeared.

There was a moment of awkward silence after he left.

"This isn't going to end well, Hermione," Draco broke the quiet first, unease settling in the pit of his stomach.

"You had every opportunity to enlighten him about Voldemort's plans if you wanted, but you chose not to."

It was true that he didn't, but he'd also never liked Dumbledore anyway.

"That's your information to tell. Besides, have you seen that man?" he scoffed, his lip curling. "He looks at both of us like we're pawns in his little game, and I suppose we bloody well are whether we want to be or not."

"Not me," she replied sharply, her head laying against the back of the armchair. "We'll find a way around him."

"Let me guess," he began sarcastically, "your plan involves telling Harry about the scar somehow and putting both of us at the end of that manipulating prick's wand."

She released a long-suffering sigh.

"I'll take that as a yes."

Hermione stared at him, annoyance on her face.

"Then tell me, Oh Great Master Slytherin, what is your fantastic plan?" she challenged, eyes flashing.

"Oh, I have none at all," he shot her a mocking smile before leaning back into the couch, both of his hands behind his head. "That doesn't mean I can't critique yours."

"I won't just 'tell him'," she rolled her eyes, "I'll steer him in the right direction, is all. It would be better if he figures it out on his own without my, uh, abilities." She sent him an accusing glare.

A shit-eating grin formed on Draco's face. With immense satisfaction, he watched as Hermione's gaze lingered just a moment too long on his mouth before flying back up to his eyes again. She cleared her throat and focused on something just behind him before pushing herself out of her seat and walking over.

"What is it?" he turned around, seeing only old picture frames hanging on the wall.

"Is this how you looked as an infant?" she asked.

He moved behind her, knowing immediately which picture she was inspecting. The first year they'd woken in this world, he hadn't had much to do except inspect Hermione's childhood home. He had initially done it to use against her at some stage, and he'd hoped there would be something incriminating to find out about her life. Instead, he'd found memories upon memories that were supposed to belong to him. Snooping around her home – his home, now – had felt far more intimate and unnerving after that. Most of the pictures along the walls were solitary portraits featuring just himself in different ways at various stages of childhood. Others included older pictures of the Grangers and group photos with extended members of the family.

"Yes," he confirmed, unsure where this was going. He'd much rather go back to her staring at his lips in poorly concealed desire. "Not that we had many pictures of me that young in the manor."

"This is the exact same picture of my parents holding me right after my mother gave birth," she said it nonchalantly, but he could hear the curiosity underlying each word. "The only difference is that my head has been replaced with yours, which is cute and bald. I had a head full of hair and was screaming at the top of my lungs."

"That doesn't surprise me at all," he smirked, glancing down at her and catching a glimpse of her smile.

"Me either."

They moved through the living room observing the multitude of pictures on the walls before Hermione dragged him upstairs and to his – previously, her – room. She opened the door and became rigid as her eyes roved throughout it. It was relatively plain aside from a massive bookcase, desk, bed, and an obnoxiously large tapestry that said Gryffindor on it.

Just like he knew she would, she laughed incredulously.

"Well, well, well," her voice was triumphant, and he rolled his eyes, "What do we have here?"

"It was a gift from my parents," he supplied when she turned around expectantly.

The tapestry was enchanted – the lion roaring and prowling around as they eyed it. The magical gold threadwork shimmered, catching the eye beautifully.

"I don't hate it…" he continued, bringing a hand up to rub his neck sheepishly. "It's nice."

"'It's nice'?" she echoed, giving him a sly look.

He stepped closer. The lion was sunning itself on the ground in the tapestry now, its head tilted towards them curiously. It was a stunning piece, but he'd never tell her that. If it was up to him, he'd take that one to the grave.

"Well, it's no Slytherin green, but it'll suffice."

"Well, I certainly never thought I'd see the day," she murmured as she sat down on his bed, grinning like a cat that got the cream.

"Merlin," he groaned, parking himself next to her, "you look far too happy. You're never going to let this go, are you?"

She laughed, falling back on the bed, and the sound of it made him smile.

"Not at all."

He fell back too, his grey eyes shifting to the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of his bedroom. They hadn't bothered to turn on the lights. The light from the moon was bright enough.

"It's comforting to talk about something as minor as house loyalties," she said softly, her eyes also fixated on the stars. "This room brings back good memories. I wish it could always be like this."

Hermione slowly twined their hands together and warmth flooded through him. He glanced over at her as he brought her hand to his mouth and gave it a soft kiss. He marveled at how quickly they could fight and move on now, as if it had always been this way and would always be this way.

Their eyes locked and in response, she rolled over to him and placed her head on his chest. Draco moved them back until they were lying properly on his bed, over the covers. She snuggled next to him, placing a leg over his as they laid back properly.

He continued staring at the ceiling, mind blank, until she broke the peace again. He'd been drifting off unknowingly, and her voice woke him back up with a jolt.

"Don't let me fall asleep," she mumbled against his chest.



"No," he reiterated simply.

"Draco!" the chastising tone of hers was greatly diminished by just how sleepy she sounded. "I have to go back."

"Yeah? Well I'd rather you slept here with me."

"Coming from the boy who barely knew how to hug someone four years ago," she snickered.

"I knew how to hug people," he muttered defensively, giving the back of her blonde head a glare. "You just happen to hug people on a level no sane person does or ever should."

There was a long pause where Draco closed his eyes and started drifting off once more.

"Wake me up in five minutes," she demanded groggily, waking him again.

He groaned, mumbling a few expletives under his breath.

"I'll be out like a light in five minutes, Hermione," he answered, kicking off his shoes as he became a bit more comfortable against the pillow. "If you want to leave, go."

She grumbled something unintelligible.

Draco woke to shaking. Groggily, he opened his eyes and winced against the sunlight streaming in through his room. As he turned away, he came face-to-face with Fay. Letting out an unnaturally high-pitched shriek, he moved back on the bed as she jumped away from him, thoroughly displacing Hermione who had been asleep on his chest. She opened her eyes blearily.

His heart was racing, and he let out a sigh of relief, managing to calm it down for just a moment before it kicked into overdrive again.

It was morning.

Hermione was still here.

She seemed to realize that at the exact same time he did because she accidentally rolled off the bed and onto the floor in her haste, sheets tangled around her body and legs. One of her hands felt for her wand, ensuring it was still on her person. Her eyes were wide with panic.

"Why didn't you wake me up?!" her voice was gravelly and made his stomach twist pleasurably.

Not the time.

"Don't blame this shit on me," he barked back, moving off the bed and righting his clothes. His eyes burned and watered at all the light and movement, and he blinked multiple times to try and dispel it. "I told you to go home!"

At that moment, the front door opened downstairs.

"Draco! We're back!" Jean's voice echoed through the house.

He froze, and they caught each other's eyes for a split second.

"Go," he whispered furiously, shooing her.

Instead of listening, she came over and smacked him on the chest.

"That's for being rude."

He tried to shift away from her so she couldn't do any more damage since, for fucks sake, it was too early for this, but he tripped over one of the sheets, causing him to nearly hit his hip on the nightstand, before almost falling onto her.

"You're an arse," she said coolly before grabbing him by the collar and giving him a hard kiss that he felt to the tips of his toes. He nearly lost his balance again. "Bye."

And then she was gone.

He fell back on the bed feeling both relieved and bereft.

"Draco?!" called Jean again.

The boy in question let out a long sigh.


West Wing of Malfoy Manor

Fay had, thankfully, kept everyone out of her room by claiming she was in the shower, had accidentally slept in, and would be down shortly. Having no time to properly clean herself, Hermione ran a comb through her hair urgently and pulled it up and away from her shoulders. It was times like these she felt grateful it wasn't a horror to deal with. Spelling herself clean, she quickly refreshed her face with some water and dried it roughly with a towel as Fay grabbed a dress out of her closet.

After brushing her teeth, she threw off the old dress – which smelled delightfully of Draco – before hurriedly putting the new one on. The only thing she could think about or hear was the loud, insistent thumping of her heart in her rib cage.

Her entire body felt sluggish and pushing it into overdrive so soon after waking was taking its toll. Her breathing was labored.

Taking one last look in the mirror and deciding that was the best she would be able to look in such a short period of time, she left her room.

She breathed quickly as she nearly ran down the hallway and to the dining table. She had no idea what to expect, but Fay hadn't appeared particularly worried, so she assumed her parents – Lucius, in particular – didn't suspect anything.

They don't know, she thought over and over again, hoping that would tamp down on the queasiness she still felt.

Wracking her mind for an acceptable excuse, she finally settled on an embarrassing one. She knew it would effectively shut Lucius up.

Narcissa, however, was another problem entirely. She was far too shrewd.

Finally making it, she entered the dining room and tried to flash everyone a smile that didn't come off as exceedingly guilty.

"Good morning!" she exclaimed cheerily, sitting down on the last empty seat. The tension in the room was palpable, but she pretended it didn't exist, instead opting to heap food onto her plate.

To her relief, Voldemort was nowhere to be seen, and she was extremely grateful.

"You're late," Lucius glared at her, his voice tight. It seemed he was growing more and more paranoid. "Why?"

"I'm sorry," she caught his gaze, which was cold. "I wasn't feeling good and overslept."

"You weren't 'feeling good'?" he mimicked, "What could possibly–"

"I just got my period," she announced.

He turned bright red before appearing at a loss for words, his mouth slightly open. Oberon nearly laughed, covering it with a cough when both parents turned to look at him severely.

"Close your mouth, Lucius," admonished Narcissa while cutting a pancake into pieces with an abundance of decorum. "That's crass."

His eyes flickered to her before he shut his open mouth with a sharp snap.

"Very well," Lucius's voice sounded strangled.

The rest of breakfast passed by quietly.

Grimmauld Place – 07/18/1995

It had been a few days before her presence was requested once again. This time, however, she knew the conversation to be had would be far more trying than the innocuous piece of parchment Draco sent with Fay, which simply detailed the time. This time, it would involve Harry, Sirius, and the horcruxes.

It was late – close to 11 at night – when Hermione finally came to Grimmauld. Fay brought her into the room with the Black tapestry since she knew it was always empty. Her eyes automatically shifted to her own face on the tree before flickering to Bellatrix's. She repressed a shudder. It wouldn't be long before that lunatic was out of Azkaban once more and terrorizing everyone around her.

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and looked around the stairwell for any sign of life. There was a warm glow coming from the bottom-most level of the house along with hushed murmurs. The room Harry was in – likely Draco, too – was further up.

She climbed the stairs, wincing as they creaked ominously. Finally making it to the appropriate door, she rapped on it quietly.

To her surprise, Ron opened. He had been mid-laugh and, upon catching sight of her, stopped. Seeing as their room had been quiet beforehand, they'd clearly placed a silencing charm upon it.

"Hermione?" he blinked multiple times at her, as if the more he did, the sooner she'd disappear. "You're here early."

"Early?" she parroted, frowning.

Just as Ron opened his mouth to reply, Draco pushed him out of the way – "Oi!" – and closed the door, forcing her to back up and nearly trip on a step.

"Draco, what the hell?" she hissed, trying to maneuver around him to the door once more, but he blocked her path. She glared, "I haven't even said hello to Harry–"

"You'll have plenty of time for that later."

"Why am I early?" she crossed her arms over her chest.

"I just wanted some alone time with you," he shrugged innocently.

She bit her lip to stop herself from bursting into laughter but found she couldn't fully contain it. He was a fantastic liar, but she knew him well enough by now to know he'd never do that.

"That was pathetic, Draco. What's the real reason?"

Her half-smile disappeared as she watched his eyes flicker behind her, all expression on his face disappearing.

She turned around to see Snape standing a few feet away, an eyebrow raised as he watched them grimly.

"It's comforting to know you're not utterly useless, Mister Granger," he broke the uncomfortable quiet between the three of them. "Hermione," his black eyes flashed to her, and she could see the anger there, below the surface. "Follow me." He swept around, following the winding steps back down.

The girl in question looked at Draco with wide eyes. He shot her a grimace and helpless shrug, mouthing a quiet apology before turning around. She sighed and made to follow Snape, but a hand shot out to pull her back and before she could say anything, Draco was holding her tightly, his lips pressed firmly against hers. As quickly as he initiated the contact, he let her go and disappeared behind the door.

Hermione sat down stiffly in the kitchen, awaiting the lecture Snape was, no doubt, ready to give her. Sirius had been the only one there, nursing a firewhiskey and staring at the wall unseeingly. When the two of them entered, he gave her a quick wink and got up from his place at the head of the table.

"I'll see you shortly," he said reassuringly, his hand patting her shoulder. He eyed Snape, who was watching the two of them with an unimpressed look on his face, before leaving.

Hermione clenched her hands under the table when her eyes finally flickered to those of her godfather's. She'd known this was coming, but what she didn't anticipate or appreciate was that he'd gone through Draco, of all people, to get to her.

"Why didn't you just send me a letter yourself?" she bit out.

"Belligerent, are we? That attitude of yours won't get you far in this conversation."

"I thought you didn't like Draco," she tried approaching from a not-so-oppositional angle. At his arched brow, she could tell she failed in that endeavor.

"I don't. Your choice in peers is disgraceful," he stated bluntly, causing her to bristle. Even as her godfather, he was a terror to deal with. "Your mother knows more than she lets on, but I can only imagine she would be so utterly… disappointed in the company you choose to keep behind her back."

Your mother knows more than she lets on.

Words took a minute to form in her mind as she processed what that meant.

"And yet here you are with that same company," she pointed out.

"Some things," he spoke as if talking to a child, "are worth the sacrifice."

"I know," she said evenly, "That's why I'm here."

"You're fifteen," he snapped, glaring at her now. She tried not to shrink back at the fury in his gaze. "I have covered for you time and time again, but I have more important things to do than supervise the atrocious decisions of my goddaughter."

"So, you'd rather I become a pawn for Voldemort, like you? Like my father?" she retorted petulantly.

His voice was low and cruel, "I'd rather you practiced some self-preservation instead of trying at every opportunity to compromise your life and mine for a bunch of fools!"

"They're my friends!"

"Is that all Mister Granger is to you, then?" he stared at her knowingly.

When she didn't reply, he continued.

"Need I remind you that you're engaged?" he said coldly, frustration evident in his eyes.

"To a psychopath who thinks of me as a possession instead of an actual human being!" she spat.

Snape just watched her, his eyes slowly moving from the chair to her face. Realizing she'd leaped up in anger, she jerked back into her seat. Just the mention of Blaise was enough to piss her off.

"Your engagement is a binding magical contract," he said icily. "Unless Blaise Zabini dies, you will be forced to marry him."

"Maybe he will die," she said boldly, a small, foul part of her praying that he would, so she'd finally be free of him.

Snape merely raised an eyebrow.

"Besides, what does that have to do with this?"

"Your engagement should serve as a reminder that while you may be cavorting with people in the Order of the Phoenix, your family, fiancé, and House never will, nor will they ever condone it." He shot her a look. "You will be making a choice–"

"You made that choice," Hermione interjected quickly, not wanting to hear it. She knew where this conversation was going, but no matter what Snape said, she would come up with a workaround for Narcissa and Oberon if it came down to it. She would.

"Not at fifteen," he sneered, "I had no loved ones left, so I had nothing to lose. You have absolutely everything to lose."

The anger left her as she began feeling slightly panicked. The weight of what she was attempting to do was finally bearing down upon her shoulders, and it was staggering. She fought to keep in control and closed her eyes to focus. It no longer mattered what Snape said because she knew her choice had been made, no matter how daunting a choice it was.

A few ostentatiously loud knocks on the door caused her to jump. Before Snape could say anything, Sirius swung the door open and barged in, sitting down next to Hermione. Harry filed in behind him, his eyes flashing to her immediately. She wondered how clearly her inner distress showed on her face.

"Sorry, Snivellus," Sirius said snidely, "Your time with my darling cousin is over. You can slither back into your hole now."

Snape looked nearly apoplectic, but instead of saying anything, he swept his robes to the side and blew out of the room. Before he made it out of the kitchen door, he paused.

"This conversation is not over," he warned.

She could feel his eyes boring a hole through her back. Not waiting for a response, he left, slamming the door shut behind him.

Weeeeeelllllll this chapter is filled with a bunch of angst, a smattering of humor, and the tiniest drop of fluff. Next chapter will be fun though since we head on over to the Ministry. I truly enjoyed writing most of it, so I think y'all will enjoy reading it ;) To all of my old readers and to my new ones: thank you all so much for your amazing reviews! Holy smokes! You guys are amazing and always give me so much support. Thank you so much, I truly cannot say thank you enough. Reading what you guys have to say always gives me motivation to write. Also, happy new year! Things in the world have not gotten off to a good start at all in 2020, but I truly hope it will get better. Sending you all my love.

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