Alright, so I am so sorry about the late update, but my life has been one continuous hell after the other lately. You all have been so awesome, and I love you for your support, it really does help. I'll do my best to get back into updating more regularly, but things here still aren't real stable so you'll have to bear with me. Once again, apologies and one thousand respect points to anyone who's still reading this.

Disclaimer: I make no profit from this.

Hermione was not running from the room. Most definitely, not running. She was, however, leaving as quickly as possible. Her thoughts on Draco were beyond complicated, and her feelings for him were just as muddled. That morning, as she'd gone to get Draco and inform him of their plan, she had resolved to ignore their previous night entirely. It had been going relatively well, apart from some difficulty meeting his eyes. Once they had started explaining their plan and the importance of the horcruxes (about which he was surprisingly knowledgeable) she had all but forgotten her discomfort towards him. The only issues came as a result of Ron's stubborn prejudice, egging Draco into a response.

Hermione had been relieved when Ron left, whatever uncertainty Draco presented didn't change the fact that he was an asset that they couldn't afford not to use. But when Harry had gone after him, she'd suddenly been doused in the cold reality of her situation. She had done her best to make a quick and painless exit but then he had spoken. He'd thanked her saying it had been the most peaceful night he'd had in months.

How did one respond to such a statement? About such a situation? From a former rival? Hermione had no idea, which is what led to the Gryffindor not running from the room. She stepped out into the garden and came across Ron and Harry having a heated talk a few feet away. She took a deep breath before going to join them.

"I don't trust him either Ron! But we need him to get into the vault." Harry said in a voice of controlled anger.

"Then let's just get him to talk and leave him here!" Ron shouted back.

"You know we can't do that." Harry growled.

"Look what happened to Hermione!" Ron yelled in response, pointing to Hermione as she joined them. "How many more times does that have to happen before we stop giving him chances?"

"Draco wasn't the one who did this to me Ronald-"she began heatedly.

"Draco?!" Ron interrupted "When did he become Draco?!" Ron turned on Hermione with blazing eyes. When had he become so frightening? There was a brief moment when Hermione had to fight the instinct to step back.

"That's his name Ron." She said, this time in a softer tone. "I don't trust him. I don't even like him," it was true, whatever she felt for the blond 'like' wasn't a part of it. "But he could be useful to us." Ron stared at her as though she'd grown a second head, and for as much sense as she could make of her thoughts, maybe she had.

"He was the worst to you, always has been. I understand wanting information, but why would you agree with him coming along?" he asked almost desperately.

"Because, ultimately, it's not our decision. I made the suggestion because of practicality, and in spite of my own feelings towards him. I am going along with Harrys' choice because, in the end, I don't matter, neither of us do. I stand by Harry." She said. Ron seemed to be struggling to control his temper enough to see the logic in her statement. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Harrys' shocked face and silently reached back to squeeze his hand, which he returned at once.

Eventually Ron agreed, as she was sure he would, though he did so grudgingly before stalking off to find Dean. As Hermione watched him leave, she couldn't help but feel that this fracture between them could shatter their relationship if they weren't careful. Ever since they had found the locket, the two of them had been growing apart, she had thought it was getting better after they destroyed it, but this newest show of Ron's temper made her doubt that.

"Thank you." Harry interrupted her thoughts.

"For what?" she said confusedly, but she didn't give him a chance to answer before rolling her eyes in understanding. "Harry, if you haven't figured out where my loyalties lie by now, then you need to pay more attention."

"I know you're loyal to me," he smiled, "but I also know how you feel about Ron…" he let the sentence drop off.

"Right." She said as she looked over the beach. For a reason Hermione didn't want to explore, she suddenly felt a crushing sense of guilt at the mention of her almost-romance with Ronald. Picking up on her discomfort, Harry changed the subject.

"We have to get into Gringotts, but we won't make it past the alley with the two of them at each other's throats."

"I don't see that changing anytime soon though," she said "do you?"

"No." he sighed. He looked so overwhelmed and weighed down as he said it, but the worst of all was the crushing look of deep, intense sadness that made him look at once both ancient and childlike. Hermione's heart broke, as it so often had, for her childhood companion and brother, for the weight that he shouldn't have to carry but never questioned. He was so determined to take the martyrs path and bear it all alone, that Hermione often had to fight to get him to accept her help. She wasn't naïve enough to think that he would share the whole load, but it saddened her that he thought he couldn't seek her aid.

"Have faith, Harry." She said gently, laying a hand on his shoulder. He gave a tired smile and squeezed her hand before turning to look once more at the sea. "It's getting harder and harder to do." He whispered.

Hermione didn't know what to say, it hadn't sounded as though he were talking to her. But before she could open her mouth or wrap him in her arms, he too was walking back toward the house. She watched him go before sinking to the ground to stare blankly out at nothing. She thought of Harry, and his obsession with the deathly hallows. She thought of Ron, and how much closer he seemed to leaving than he had when they'd had the locket. Of Draco, and the many challenges he could pose, and finally she thought of her parents. It had been weeks, possibly months, since she had allowed herself to think on them, and as she felt the first of many tears begin to fall, she remembered why. She remembered her father sticking his tongue out at her under his mustache, and her mother singing horribly off-key with her to their favorite Christmas carols.

She saw all her birthdays, and special occasions, and knew that if she were standing in front of them now, they'd smile sympathetically and ask if there was anyone they could call for her. For the first time since she'd cast the spell she allowed herself to cry, to sob, over what she'd lost. She cried herself hoarse and pulled at her hair. She beat the ground and screamed questions at the sky, and when she had no more energy she hugged her knees to her chest and just let the tears fall. That was how Luna found her. She didn't say anything, she just sat down and put her arms around her. Hermione sagged against the other girl and cried herself out.

When she had been silent for a few minutes Luna brushed some hair out of her face and looked her in the eye. "No one is as alone in this as they think, Hermione." She said, echoing Hermione's earlier thoughts. "I know," she responded, "Thank you." Luna just smiled and stroked her hair a few more times before helping her to her feet. "Come on, dinners ready."

"No, no, no!" Draco yelled, "Are you trying to get yourself killed?" Draco had been coaching Ron and Hermione in how to act like a deatheater. While he had very little criticism for Hermione, she suspected that Ron was purposely not taking his instructions just to rile him up. Hermione had just stumbled over a rock and Ron, being who he was, caught her. "You don't touch her, you don't show concern! Damn it, Weasley! You're a deatheater, forget all the chivalry your mum taught you, no deatheater who wants to live touches Bellatrix Lastrange!"

Draco's lesson was cut off as Ron roared in frustration, Hermione felt herself flinch at the sound. "Enough! Two days we've been at this and you've yet to tell us anything useful!"

"On the contrary," came Griphook's rough voice from Hermione's left elbow. "Young Malfoy's instruction is all very useful, you simply refuse to learn."

"You dirty little-""Ron!" Hermione admonished. No one, including herself, much liked Griphook. Draco was visibly uncomfortable with his praise. But being who she was, she would not abide verbal abuse of the goblin.

"If you make the slightest miss-step," Draco started again "if they doubt you for even a second, then you're going to get everyone killed."

"And that's just what you're counting on isn't it, Malfoy." Ron sneered

"Ron," Harry interjected tiredly, but he was cut off by Draco. "For Slytherin's sake! Your brother looked through my mind, I lied for Potter, I saved Granger! What is it going to take to convince you that this isn't some big murder plot!?"

"You can't!" Ron screamed.

"Well then, how about this," he yelled back. "I'm going in there with you. If you die, I die! If you don't believe that I'm actually trying to keep you alive then at least believe that I have a sense of self-preservation!"

Ron stalked forward until he was toe to toe with Draco and Hermione felt her breath hitch in her throat. "Malfoy," he growled, "I wouldn't believe you if you told me the sky was blue." Draco sighed and shook his head with a clenched jaw, his eyes locked on Ron's.

"Ron, please." She started tentatively. "We have to-"

"NO! No Hermione, we don't!" Ron was suddenly in her face screaming. "We don't have to listen to him, we don't have to trust him!" He grabbed her shoulders, lifting her almost off her feet. "You're choosing to trust him, and nothing you've ever done has ever been so stupid!" He shook her then. Not a small shake, designed to wake someone up, but violently. So much so that she felt a pain in her neck and for a split second her vision went white.

Then everything was yelling and movement. Harry crowded in between them and checked Ron to the ground, with his shoulder and pinned him. At the same time she felt one of Draco's arms encircle her waist and the other move to cradle her head and neck, as all at once he lifted her up and away. They landed a few feet away, Draco kneeling on the ground and Hermione sprawled across his lap, locked to his chest. Harry and Draco, both, were yelling at Ron but he didn't seem to hear them. Through the noise he caught Hermione's gaze, and she saw that his eyes were wide with shock and horror at what he'd done. "Hermione." She saw more than heard the word leave his mouth before he was moving again.

With some difficulty he threw Harry off, and started crawling to her. "Hermione. Hermione, I'm so sorry! Please-"Out of shear reaction she flinched away from Ron and further into Draco, who drew her tighter to his chest. The movement was miniscule at best, but he saw it and as Ron allowed Harry to pull him back by his shoulder, his face went from confusion, to hurt, to anger with startling speed. "Him?" he whispered hoarsely "You trust him that much?" She didn't get a chance to respond before, with a shouted "Fine!" he had apparated away. She was out of Draco's arms and running past Harry before she knew what she was doing. "Ron! Ron!" she screamed. She looked to Harry for help but he only shook his head with a sad disappointed look on his face and turned away. Her entire body went cold, it didn't make any sense, it just didn't. No matter how Ron felt about her, he wouldn't abandon Harry now, would he?

"He's gone 'Mione." Harry whispered before she heard his footsteps retreating. But Hermione couldn't believe it. Ron had, at least felt something close to love for her, and she for him, those feelings couldn't be worth nothing. They could if he thought you had betrayed him. Said her mind, showing her exactly how she must have looked to Ron, cringing into Draco's arms.

"Oh, god! " The words tore from her throat as she fell to her knees. There were no tears, like she'd shed for her parents, there was no sound. Only the bone deep pain of something vital lost, and the violent shaking of her limbs. She could have sat there for hours or days, it was all the same, it wasn't until she felt a gentle hand on her back that she realized Draco was still there. She turned to look at him over her shoulder, in a distant part of her brain she registered how uncomfortable he looked. He obviously had zero experience consoling people.

"Hermione, I-uh…" he started. She turned away, back to the ground to suffer on her own. But that, it seemed Draco had decided, was not an option, as Hermione suddenly found herself face to face with him, drowning in the silver of his eyes. He cupped his hands around the back of her head and forced their eyes together. He opened his mouth then and said three words, three words that sent Hermione into a tailspin. "Come on, then."

Hermione couldn't have said why, but she bristled. He hadn't said it with any particular force or gentleness, but there was a challenge in his voice that made her blood boil. She pulled back and slapped him across the face, but he didn't react, he didn't look angry or shocked. "Come on." He said again, and again she struck him. "Come on, Hermione!" she punched him in the chest and then again and again. "Come on!" She beat him, and pounded him with her fists until her hands were numb and she had to gasp for breath. When she finally collapsed he caught her against his chest and held her so tight it neared the point of pain, but she didn't care. She needed the force, needed not feel like she was made of porcelain, and somehow Draco seemed to know that.

She didn't cry, she didn't talk, and he didn't make her. They just sat there in the dust of Bill and Fluer's back garden, Hermione half sitting in his lap as he held her, both breathing heavy. Both broken and in pain and taking comfort the only place they could find, in each other.

I'msorryI'msorryI'msorry! I am so sorry I haven't updated, I'm going to try to get back into it but just stay with me here.

In Chapter Six I explored how broken Draco was in this situation, so in this chapter I wanted explore exactly how much Hermione was too. So let me know what you thought, I love reviews! Like I said, I'm sorry haven't updated, I will try to be better. So until then REVIEW! ::::DDDD