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Old 08-27-2011, 03:40 PM   #126 (permalink)
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Hogwarts RPG Name:
Melina Morninglory- "Glory"
Second Year

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Chapter 35: Teenage Troubles



Draco wasn’t ready for breakfast just yet. He excused himself and headed upstairs. He smelled. And Draco did not ever smell.

He counted in his head: thirty-six hours since he last showered. Nearly a personal record. And a lot had happened in those thirty-six hours. He stripped off his filthy clothes and drew himself a glorious bath. Easing into the hot water, Draco felt his muscles instantly relax. He sunk in, right up to his chin, and closed his eyes. How easy it would be to just fall asleep right then and there. But he wanted to get back to Hermione and make sure she was all right.

He stayed for a time, stretching each one of his grateful muscles and relishing the peace and quiet. Lying there, he had time to process all that had happened in the past thirty-six hours. He wanted so much to believe that the people here would give him a chance, but he was doubtful as to whether they could, or even should.

But they didn’t matter anyway. All that mattered was Hermione. Hermione. Not Granger, not Mudblood. Just her beautiful name, as it should have been all along. He cursed himself for all the pain he’d caused her over the years. Why would she even want to be with him? The only thing he knew for sure is that he wanted to be with her, and that he’d spend his whole life making up for his actions.

Did he love her? No, it was too soon and too chaotic for that. But someday…

Love was something he wasn’t sure he believed in. Perhaps his mother’s love. Suddenly thinking of her was a stunner to the heart. His mother. He loved her as best he could. He knew she loved him. The last thing he ever said to her was a scathing insult. What if he never got the chance to say anything else? Guilt and grief racked him as he thought of how scared she must be right now. How he wished there was any way possible to tell her he was all right. He was a horrible son. How had he expected her to react any differently about Hermione? She hadn’t had the epiphany that he did. How could he have said what he said to her? Tears worked their way down his cheeks. Crying was becoming a habit.

Shaking himself from his thoughts (for the insistent rumbling of his stomach told him that food was now a necessity), he found an adequate bar of soap and a bottle of shampoo, and went at cleaning the last thirty-six hours off of him. In the end, he didn’t smell as good as he normally did, but at least he was clean.

He dried off and slung his towel low on his hips. It was at that point that he realized he had no toiletries whatsoever. He chuckled wryly. It’s not as if I was thinking about hygiene while I was running for my life. Surely someone had things he could borrow. Professor Lupin was here; he wouldn’t mind, would he?

Draco began tiptoeing through the hallway, peeking his head into the bedrooms to sort out which may belong to Lupin. He pulled the door open on the far bedroom and jumped back with a yelp at the sound of a girl’s scream.

Ginny had Apparated over with her brothers only moments before. She was in her room, unloading the things she’d brought from home when her door was opened. She screamed at the sight of a man in a towel at her door. It took a moment to realize who he was.

Merlin’s pants!” She instinctively went to cover herself but realized she wasn’t the one half-naked. Draco Malfoy was standing half-naked in her room, his face a mixture of surprise and mortification.

“I was just looking for…a toothbrush, and I…I’m just going to go now,” he stammered. He made for the hallway quickly.

Ginny snapped out of her shock. “Wait!” she called after him. “We have toothbrushes here!”

“No-no-no, I’m sure I’ll find one elsewhere,” floated a voice from down the hall.

“You won’t. We keep the extras in here.”

Ginny heard him sigh heavily and trod back over to her room. She headed swiftly to the bathroom to fetch a new toothbrush and, when she came back, there he was, still in that towel. She made sure to look at his face when she handed him the toothbrush. “Here.”

He snatched the toothbrush from her hand. “Um, yeah, okay.” He gave her a nod of his head and disappeared back into the hall.

Ginny sat down on her bed, trying not to think about Draco’s body and failing miserably. She always thought of him as lean and sort of lanky. Probably all that black he wears. But he was surprising muscular. His chest and abs were well-defined, his arms and shoulders lean and subtly sculpted. She wondered how muscular the rest of him was. A blush as red as her hair blossomed on her cheeks, and she chastised herself for even thinking such things. She had a feeling, though, that the image would be burned in her brain forever.

“Um,” called the voice. “You wouldn’t happen to have any extra clothes in there too, would you?”

Oh Merlin.

****

Molly was cleaning up the breakfast dishes when Harry popped his head into the kitchen.

“Mrs. Weasley, have you seen Ron anywhere?”

She stopped washing dishes at once. “What? He’s not still asleep upstairs?”

“No,” replied Harry. “He didn’t sleep upstairs at all. He was going to sleep on the floor next to Hermione.”

Oh dear. What had happened last night? Draco was there in the morning, but not her son. This couldn’t mean anything good. “I’m afraid…Ron may have left the house upset. Or, perhaps he went home. Go ask one of the children.”

“Sure,” he said, then paused. “Why would Ron have left the house upset?”

Molly’s voice was nervous. “Oh-well, it’s just that Dra-well, let’s not worry about that right now. Please ask if he was at home, and come and tell me right away.”

Harry returned a moment later with a concerned look on his face. “He didn’t go home, Mrs. Weasley.”

Molly’s anxiety mounted. “Harry, is there anywhere Ron would go if he was angry, upset? If he wanted to be alone?”

Harry shook his head. “When he’s upset at school, he just walks around the grounds or gets something to eat. Maybe he went to a pub? Or maybe The Leaky Cauldron? That’s not too far from here.”

“I’ll have Arthur go and check there,” said Molly, now more troubled than ever.

“You think he’s okay though, don’t you?” asked Harry uneasily.

“I-I’m sure he is,” replied Molly, trying to convince herself that he was.

****

Harry’s instincts had been spot-on. Ron had been in the Leaky Cauldron, but had left a few hours before. Well, was kicked out, more accurately.

He’d walked all the way there in the middle of the night in the freezing cold. But the cold didn’t even bother him, given how much he burned with hatred. He’d finally needed warmth and food, and found his way to the restaurant.

A couple of firewhiskeys and a bar fight later, Ron found himself stumbling home with a busted lip and a serious headache.

****

“Your mother is going to have your hide for this.”

Arthur had met Ron halfway home. At first, he thought the boy was just incredibly tired. But when he got within half a metre of his son, the smell of firewhiskey assaulted him.

“Have you been drinking?”

Ron’s head was throbbing, and the very last thing he wanted right now was his father’s angry voice in his ear.

“…scaring your mother and I like this, not knowing where you were- what if something had happened to you?”

Ron’s eyes were downcast. “I’m sorry, Dad. I was just angry.”

“Just angry?” his father exclaimed incredulously. “You get some fresh air when you’re ‘just angry’ and no, your trek all the way to the Leaky Cauldron does not qualify as getting fresh air. You don’t drink until you’re stumbling drunk, and you certainly don’t get into a pub brawl! What is the matter with you, Ron?”

Ron sighed, but his senses cleared slightly when the reason for his anger resurfaced. “It’s Malfoy,” he spat. “In Headquarters like a bloody hero. Acting like he cares about Hermione. What a bunch of dragon dung!” His father didn’t bother to correct his language.

“Last night, I slept on the bloody floor next to her while he slept in some fluffy bed upstairs. She woke up with a nightmare, and who do you think she wanted? Not me. Not me! How is that even remotely fair?! She was in his arms, Dad, and she was happy!” Frustrated tears formed in the corners of his eyes.

Arthur sighed heavily. Now he understood. He put his arm around his son. “Ron, Hermione’s been through a terrible time. I can understand why you’re angry. I’m angry too, if you want to know the truth. I’m not ready to just welcome Draco in and forget everything he’s done to you and to our family. But I’m sure things will go back to normal very soon. Just trust in Hermione.”

“They’d better,” Ron grumbled under his breath as he and his father reached Grimmauld Place.

Arthur reached for the door and turned to his son. “I’ll try to hold off Mum for you.”

****

She was not to be held off.

“Ronald! Merlin’s beard, what happened to you?!”

Molly rushed to her son, squeezing him in a bear hug and taking his face in her hands. “Oh my stars, just look at you!” His face was pale, his flushed cheeks chapped from the cold. Dried blood remained in the place where his lip was split. “What happened?”

“Well, I-”

“Well, he-”

“Ronald Weasley! You’ve been drinking!! Arthur, you can smell it on him, I’m sure!”

Well, yes-”

“How could you have done such a thing?! And were you fighting as well?!”

“Well, I-”

“That’s enough! You get up those stairs and clean yourself up. Then you get in that bed and sleep it off. And when you wake up, I’ll deal with you. You are in more trouble than you can imagine, young man!”

“Yes, Mum.”

Knowing it was best not to say another word, Ron trudged up the stairs to do as he was ordered.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:15 AM   #127 (permalink)
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Claws do it BETTER! | | Language NERD!

Sorry I thought I commented already!


Awwwwwwwwwwww i'm sorry for Ron though the Dramione romance is cute anyway brilliant chapter my dear really nice... I liked the part where Draco went into Ginny's room Draco has really grew on me though not as much as my Freddie Keep it up PAMS!!!!!

+ =
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Old 08-30-2011, 01:33 PM   #128 (permalink)
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x10 x10
Default
½ EagleBrain ♥ Creeperdoodle ♥ Raven Dor ♥ Berry ♥ ½ Team House Elf

*plays catch up*

And WOW... AMAZING...

I honestly don't know what to say, I loved every second of it.
It's just so captivating!

*sigh*

Stef!! you are such an incredible writer,I love it and I love you! And Ginny likes Draco huh? I don't blame her... he is rather handsome. Lol.

Look forward to your next post sweetie!! --> PAMS! when you can of course.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:08 PM   #129 (permalink)
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Hogwarts RPG Name:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orla View Post
Sorry I thought I commented already!


Awwwwwwwwwwww i'm sorry for Ron though the Dramione romance is cute anyway brilliant chapter my dear really nice... I liked the part where Draco went into Ginny's room Draco has really grew on me though not as much as my Freddie Keep it up PAMS!!!!!

+ =
Thanks, Orla!!!

I had such a laugh writing the Ginny/Draco stuff! I am soooo glad that Draco's grown on you- that's what I wanted, for my readers to give him a chance!

You are such a sweetheart!
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:11 PM   #130 (permalink)
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Hogwarts RPG Name:
Melina Morninglory- "Glory"
Second Year

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hera View Post
*plays catch up*

And WOW... AMAZING...

I honestly don't know what to say, I loved every second of it.
It's just so captivating!

*sigh*

Stef!! you are such an incredible writer,I love it and I love you! And Ginny likes Draco huh? I don't blame her... he is rather handsome. Lol.

Look forward to your next post sweetie!! --> PAMS! when you can of course.
I love you I love you I love you I love you!!!!

You inspire me to be a better writer every day- I can't thank you enough for all the wonderful things you say. And I LOVE that you love my story!!

I couldn't resist the Draco/Ginny part. I mean, who wouldn't like Draco Malfoy standing in a towel in their room?!

Only three more chapters to go...thanks for taking the journey with me, mama.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:50 PM   #131 (permalink)
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Chapter 36: The Rise and Fall of Relationships Part II


Hermione and her mother looked up at the sound of Molly’s voice. “Oh Ronald,” said Hermione, “what’s he done now?” She realized she had barely seen him since she arrived at the house. She thought she heard his voice last night, perhaps in a dream. But then she shuddered as she remembered her nightmare. Which brought her to another question. Hadn’t Draco been there? Where was he now? As strange as it seemed, she felt vulnerable without him next to her.

Sensing her daughter’s thoughts, Jean said, “Are you looking for Draco, sweetie?” Hermione nodded, looking just a tad bit nervous. “He’s gone up to shower, I think. Would you like me to tell him to come in?”

Hermione thought for a moment. Though so much had happened to them, and between them, he was still Draco. Her sworn enemy. He wasn’t an enemy anymore, that was for sure, but what was he now? A friend? More than a friend? Why hadn’t she asked for Ron, or Harry, or even Ginny? Why did seeing Draco seem like the best idea in the world?

A few moments later, she sighed with relief as she heard his footsteps coming down the hall. However, when the footsteps became a body and a face, it wasn’t Draco. It was Harry.

“Harry!” she cried, “oh it’s so good to see you!!”

Harry strode right to her and pulled up a chair. “Hermione, how are you? We were so worried about you. If anything had happened to you…I’m just so glad you’re safe!”

Hermione frowned on the inside. If anything had happened to me? Where does he think I was, on a holiday by the sea? She knew she was feeling overly defensive, but Harry just couldn’t understand, not completely. Just like no one would ever understand the daily struggle Harry dealt with.

She put a smile on her face. “I’m glad too. There were moments when I feared I’d never see you or Ron again. Or anyone, for that matter. If it wasn’t for Draco, I probably wouldn’t have.”

It didn’t occur to her that those words would be the last ones Harry wanted to hear. He stiffened and looked away from her. “Yeah, that’s…great, Hermione. We’re all glad you’re safe.”

Hermione gave herself a mental smack in the forehead. Oh, why hadn’t she thought before she spoke? Just because things had changed between her and Draco, nothing had changed for her friends. “I mean that the thought of seeing you and Ron again, and my parents-everybody-kept me strong while I was there.” Just the mention of that horrible place, still painfully fresh, made her want to see Draco immediately.

Harry smiled and relaxed at her words. “Is there anything I can do? Or Ron? Please, we’re your best friends. There’s nothing we wouldn’t do for you, you know that. Ron wants to see you very badly. He’s asleep upstairs, but I know he’s been missing you terribly.”

Her heart warmed at hearing that. Her Ronald. Even though she never knew quite where they stood in their relationship, she still got shivery when he looked at her a certain way, or when he put his arm around her. She had missed him terribly as well. “I can’t wait to see him,” she smiled.

Harry hugged his friend, warmth spreading through him that she was back, and everything was returning to normal. His warmth was short-lived. He felt her straighten up, and when he pulled away, relief and happiness were coloring her face. He turned, expecting to see Ron, or maybe Ginny. Instead, he saw the last person he wanted to see.

Draco stood in the doorway, looking right past him and directly at Hermione. “How are you feeling, love?” His expression was a mixture of concern and tenderness, a look Harry had never seen on the boy’s face in all the years he’d known him. His insides boiled at the endearment Draco had used.

Draco walked right past him without so much as a glance and knelt down in front of Hermione. She was practically beaming. Harry was practically fuming.

He held her hand and drank in her face. Her eyes were so pretty. He’d never even allowed himself to see that before. “Do you need anything? Is there anything I can get you? I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you woke up. I, uh, had a little business to take care of with the One-Eyed Ogre.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in apprehension. “What happened? Are you okay?”

Draco smiled and ran his thumb over the back of her hand. “Everything’s fine, I promise. Don’t worry about me. Now, can I get you anything?”

She shook her head. “No, just stay here, okay?”

Harry bristled. The affection between them made him want to vomit. Then a thought occurred to him. A love potion! That slimy prat slipped her a love potion! Of course; now it made complete sense. He stood up angrily and glared at Draco.

Draco stood and faced him. Eyebrow raised, he returned the stare evenly. “Is there something that you need, Potter?”

Harry’s cheeks flamed red. “Yes, Malfoy, I need for you get out of here and crawl back under the rock you came from.”

“Harry-” began Hermione.

“No, no,” said Draco. “Don’t get yourself worked up, Hermione. Potter’s just voicing his opinion. It’s your opinion that matters to me.” He gave her a calming smile.

Harry’s hands balled into fists. “Nobody wants you here, Malfoy, can’t you get that? Why don’t you just leave?”

“But that’s where you’re wrong, Potter. I believe Hermione wants me here.” Draco smirked at him.

“Oh, cut the bull, Malfoy!” Harry thrust his face inches from Draco. “What did you do to her, huh? What kind of love potion did you slip her? Because nobody’s buying this lovey-dovey crap between you!”

“Harry!” Hermione retorted. “Now that’s enough. He did no such thing! You weren’t there, you don’t know what he did for me!”

“It’s alright, Hermione. Yeah, Potter” he snapped, “I had a lot of time to slip her a love potion while she was being tortured and we were running for our lives. Are you really that obtuse?”

“Harry please,” Hermione begged, tears forming in her eyes. “It’s not that way, I swear!”

“Oh come off it, Hermione!” he retorted. “He spends one day posing as a hero, and you’re ready to forget all the years he’s treated you like dirt? He and that word on your arm are well-acquainted, if you’ll remember.” He pointed to her forearm and she started to cry.

Draco took a threatening step forward. “Don’t you dare upset her, Potter, because I’ll serve you your own heart on a platter.”

“That’s enough, both of you!” Hermione panted. She was starting to go pale again. “Harry, I want you to be here but if you can’t stop this, I’m going to need to…ask you to leave.” The words were daggers in her heart, but she couldn’t have them fighting. She couldn’t take any more pain.

Draco took a step back and placed a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. She was breathing heavily, and her forehead was breaking out in a sweat. “Listen, Potter. You are not going to upset her again. Why don’t you run along until you can behave yourself?” And then, just to show his confidence in the situation, Draco simply turned his back on Harry and knelt back down with Hermione.

Harry, beyond furious and wounded by Hermione’s words, stormed out of the room.

****

“Are you all right?”

Draco smoothed the hair from her forehead and took her hand in his. He’d been enjoying the sparring match he was having with Potter until she got upset. Then it wasn’t funny anymore. A fiercely protective streak had shot through him, and he would have beaten Potter to a bloody pulp if he ever made her upset again.

Hermione began to cry afresh. “I can’t…take that. Not now. I just can’t, please.” Tears streamed down the sides of her face as she lay back on her pillow.

Draco felt a stab of guilt in his heart. “I’m sorry, Hermione. I shouldn’t have kept it going. I never wanted to cause you more pain.” He rested his head on her shoulder. “He was right, though. I treated you like dirt for years; I have no excuse for that.”

She rested her hand on the top of his head. “And I already forgave you for that. I don’t want to dredge up the past. I want to make a new start. And I know you do too.”

He kissed the top of her shoulder, and rested his forehead on it again. “That’s all I want. I want to make everything better for you. I know that everything is disorderly right now, but…I want to be with you, Hermione.” He couldn’t look her in the eyes, afraid of what he might see there.

She brought her arm up and cradled his head. “Everything’s so confusing right now. But I will say,” she chose her words carefully, “that I feel completely at peace when I’m with you.” Beyond that, she wasn’t sure what she wanted yet.

Now he did look at her. “You will always be safe with me, that I promise you.” Determination sparked in the steel of his eyes.

She sighed and closed her eyes. “I do believe that, Draco. And it means more than I can even tell you.”

****

Harry slammed the door to the room he shared with Ron. “That filthy, miserable son of a banshee! I’m gonna kill him!” He walked over to the wall by the bathroom and punched it hard, guaranteeing a bruise on his hand.

“Wha-?” Ron managed a single syllable in his hung-over state. He winced at the volume of Harry’s voice.

“Malfoy, that’s what! He's turning Hermione against us! She just kicked me out of the room where they are!”

Ron sat straight up, his foggy brain clearing at a miraculous rate. “He what? She what?”

Harry paced across the floor at the foot of the bed. “I was with Hermione and Malfoy showed up. He went to her as if I wasn’t even in the room! We got into an argument- no surprise there- and then Hermione started to cry. I was about to take his head off for it when she asked me to leave the room!” He sat down on the edge of the bed and slammed his palms on the mattress.

Something inside Ron snapped at that moment. Adrenaline coursed through his veins and gave him enough power to stand up. He quickly donned clothes and marched to the door.

“What are you going to do?” Harry asked nervously. He didn’t like seeing Ron in his act-before-thinking state. “Maybe we should-”

“No!” he hollered. “I’m going to end this now. I’ve had enough of him- he’s done for.” He threw open the door and made for the stairs.

“Wait! Don’t upset Hermione! She isn’t well!” But Ron was already nearing the bottom of the staircase. Harry hurried after him and followed him into the parlor.

Ron nearly lost it right there. Draco’s head was on her shoulder; she was resting hers on top of it. He stood there, seething, and the two at the couch looked up. Hermione’s eyes widened in fright. “R-Ron! Please! I want to talk to you! Don’t do anything!”

Ron never took his eyes from Draco, who stood up, guarding Hermione. “We’ll talk, Hermione. But first I have to take out the trash.” He advanced on Draco, who looked positively vicious.

Draco closed the gap between them in seconds and planted the side of his fist into Ron’s chest. He could already hear Hermione crying, and it infuriated him. “Not here, you ignorant fool. Not in front of Hermione, or don’t you give a damn about her feelings in this?”

“Don’t I give a damn about her feelings…” Ron repeated incredulously. “You bloody mother-”

“Stop it! Stop it all of you!” screamed Hermione with more strength than she should have exerted. “Stop hosing down this room with testosterone! Doesn’t anyone care what I think?”

Draco answered, though his eyes never left Ron. “Of course, Hermione, we all care. I’m sorry. We’re going to take this conversation outside.” And he put some force behind his fist to push Ron backward.

“Don’t take it anywhere!” she pleaded, though she knew they were all past the point of no return.

“They have to sort it out, Hermione,” Harry replied.

“No they don’t!” argued Hermione, but her voice was getting weaker as she quickly tired out. “Please, please boys. Don’t be stupid.” But her words held no more strength. She fell back against her pillow and closed her eyes, fatigued tears dripping from them.

Draco’s voice was deadly. “Turn around. Outside. Now.” For once, Ron didn’t argue. He wheeled himself around and headed for the back door in the kitchen.

The three incensed teens blew through the kitchen where Arthur and Kingsley had sat down for a game of wizard chess. The men looked up from their game, and each drew an uneasy breath as they caught the look on the boys’ faces.

“What exactly are you boys doing?” Kingsley’s deeply resonant voice filled the room. None of the boys wanted to stop and explain.

Finally, Harry replied, “Just sorting some things out, that’s all,” and continued out the door. The men looked at each other and decided to keep an eye on the “sorting out”, in case it got out of hand.

Fan-bloody-tastic. Draco swore silently as he stormed down the three steps that led to the house’s backyard. Mad-Eye hadn’t given him his wand back yet. This was one fight in which he really needed to be armed. Well, too late for that- he’d have to rely on speed and quick thinking. Otherwise, he’s going to clean up the backyard with my face.

He and Ron squared off, Harry remaining slightly off to the side. Ron drew his wand and waited for Draco to do the same. When Draco just stood there, he began to get irritated.

“Take out your wand, Malfoy! Unless you’re afraid of getting killed in a duel.”

Draco let out a short laugh. “It astounds me that you always think so highly of yourself. I hate to disappoint, but my wand is currently in Mad-Eye’s possession. So there wouldn’t be much of a duel, would there? Now I myself don’t mind taking you on with my bare hands. But if you’d feel more comfortable with your wand…” It was so easily predictable to push a Gryffindor’s buttons.

“I don’t need a wand to beat you, Malfoy,” barked Ron as he tossed his wand to Harry. “My fists can more than handle the job. And I’ve been waiting for this for years.” And without another word, Ron launched himself at Draco.

The first move was easy to dodge. Draco simply moved to the side and almost chuckled as his attacker fell and cracked his shins on the steps. But Ron sprang up like nothing had happened and tackled Draco at the waist, bringing both of them down hard on the frozen ground. Draco felt the side of his face connect with the unforgiving earth, and pain exploded across his cheekbone. He couldn’t pull away from Ron’s strong grip, so he threw his head back as hard as he could into Ron’s face, feeling the crunch of Ron’s nose behind him.

Ron let go and roared in pain, blood streaming out of his broken nose. Draco took the opportunity to scramble away and get back on his feet. No sooner had he did this than Ron was on him again, shoving him back to the ground. He moved his head to the side, dodging Ron’s fist as it came crashing down where his face had been mere seconds before. He responded with a knee to Ron’s stomach, which did little harm but afforded him the chance to roll out from under Ron’s grasp.

But he wasn’t fast enough. Ron grabbed him by the hair and slammed his head into the ground, causing Draco to momentarily see stars. He felt Ron’s knee in his back and knew the boy was grabbing for his arm. I am so close to being completely screwed, he thought as his mind searched for a countermove.

He pulled his arms under him and used them to push up as hard as he could, while rolling his body toward Ron, causing the redhead’s knee to slide off and knocking him off balance. Ron landed on the other side of him, and Draco got to his feet fast. He planted a swift kick to Ron’s ribs. Ron cried out and grabbed his side, rolling onto his back. Draco lifted his foot to bring it down hard on Ron’s stomach, but Ron reached up and grabbed his leg, twisting it and sending him crashing back to the earth again.

The two were fairly evenly matched. Where Ron used force, Draco used quick thinking. Where Draco had speed, Ron had brute strength. They continued to spar, throwing punches and landing kicks, wrestling each other to the ground. Draco was actually surprised that Potter wasn’t joining in.

It barely registered to them that they were attracting a crowd. Fred and George had come outside, remaining on the perimeter but ready to spring should the need arise. Ginny had run out too, and was screaming for someone to stop them. Arthur and Kingsley came slowly down the stairs; they were once boys, and both remembered that sometimes the only way to settle a dispute was to duke it out.

Draco was getting tired. He still wasn’t fully recovered from the ordeal at his home, and he needed more rest than he’d gotten thus far. He was starting to worry that his endurance wouldn’t hold up. And, Merlin’s beard, Ron was strong! He’d underestimated the Weasel’s capabilities. He threw an elbow into Ron’s sternum, and launched himself backward. He landed solidly on his feet and leapt to the side to come at Ron from a better angle. He pounced on Ron, using both arms to pin his enemy in a strong headlock.

Ron struggled against his grip- he found that he’d also underestimated Draco’s ability- but being the youngest of six brothers gave him more than enough experience. He grabbed Draco around the chest and threw them both sideways down to the ground. Draco momentarily lost his grip when he landed, and that was all Ron needed. He pinned Draco’s shoulders to the ground with his knees and proceeded to pummel him in the head.

There was nothing Draco could do to stop the assault. Ron had bested him, and now he was going to pay for it. He felt his own nose break as a result of a well-placed punch and spat out a great glob of blood from his mouth. He could hear Ron screaming at him.

“Don’t you touch her! Don’t you ever come near her! I’ll kill you! Call her what you really think of her! Call her a Mudblood! Go ahead, call her a Mudblood, I dare you!” Ron landed several punches into Draco’s stomach and began pounding on his ribs. Draco heard the sickening crack of the bones in his ribcage before he felt the searing pain. Unconsciousness was threatening to steal him from the world.

“All right, we should step in,” said Kingsley. He took a step forward and was halted by Arthur’s arm.

“Not yet, wait just a moment.” Kingsley noticed that Arthur seemed to be watching the fight with a tad more enthusiasm than called for. “Let him finish.”

“You mean, let them finish, don’t you?” Kingsley eyed Arthur warily. It was true. Arthur was enjoying this fight. Kingsley had just put his hand on Arthur’s arm when a shrill voice pierced the air.

Ginny was livid. “Somebody stop this!! What is wrong with all of you?! STOP THIS!!” She’d had enough of the males around her just letting Ron beat the absolute tar out of Draco. What if he actually killed him? She whipped out her wand, pointed it and, using all her strength, bellowed, “STUPEFY!!”

Ron flew back with such force that he hit the tree in the yard 4 metres back. He was out cold. Ginny raced over to Draco, more to check for a pulse than anything else. Harry watched her, distress and anger in his face.

“How could you all stand around and let this happen?!” she yelled at those around her. Her father and Kingsley were gently lifting Draco off the ground and carrying him into the house. Ginny glared at her brothers, and at Harry, that they could be reduced to such heartless barbarism. She marched into the house behind her father, tears replacing anger. Harry went to Ron and revived him; Fred and George came over to check on their brother.

“What happened?” Ron asked, still feeling a little disoriented.

“You won,” Harry told him firmly, his heart still stinging from Ginny’s reaction.
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Old 09-18-2011, 07:56 PM   #133 (permalink)
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Chapter 37: Repercussions



[Jean found her daughter crying in the parlor. “What’s the matter, sweetie? Is something hurting you?”

“They’re f-fighting,” sobbed Hermione. “Ron and Draco, and Harry. Over me.” She buried her face in her hands and curled up in a ball on the couch. Jean knelt down beside her, alarmed, and tried to comfort her. This was the last thing her daughter needed right now. She stayed next to Hermione and held her as she cried, just as she did when Hermione was young, after she’d accidentally knocked an egg out of a bird’s nest in their tree.

She only left Hermione’s side when she heard voices coming in from the back door. Hurrying to meet them, she clapped her hands to her mouth when she saw Draco. “Oh my God, what happened to him?” she whisper-yelled, not wanting Hermione to overhear. Kingsley’s face was somber, Arthur looked more than a little guilty, and Ginny was crying. Jean rushed to Ginny’s side as the two men began taking Draco to the parlor. She stopped them in their tracks. “Are you mad? Don’t take him in there! Do you know what that would do to Hermione?”

“Sorry, Jean,” replied Arthur contritely as he and Kingsley turned to levitate Draco up the stairs instead. Ginny put her arms around Jean and simply let it all out. She cried out all her fear and frustration at having watched the horrific fight while Jean stood and mothered her.

“Where are Harry and Ron?” she asked, terrified at the thought that they looked as bad as Draco, or worse.

“I-in the backyard,” Ginny hiccupped, and began to dry her tears on the sleeve of her shirt. Jean sat her down at the kitchen table and went to look outside. She noted that Ron looked a bit worse for wear, but Harry was in perfect condition. She felt a mother’s anger welling up inside her over what had happened to Draco. As the boys traipsed back into the house, she and Ginny glared at them. Jean didn’t trust herself to speak, so she remained silent. The boys, to their credit, looked sufficiently remorseful.

Hermione heard footsteps outside the parlor door. “Ron? Draco? Harry?” she called out, frightened to see what they all looked like. Harry and Ron stepped into the parlor. Hermione quickly looked them over. Harry didn’t have a scratch on him. Ron’ lip was split in more places than before, and the dried blood on his face complimented his broken nose. The rest of him seemed fine, but she couldn’t tell for sure. “Oh God, Ron! What happened?”

“You know what happened,” Ron replied, sounding quite apologetic.

“Where’s Draco?” she asked. She didn’t care if they liked him or not, they were going to send him into see her. She swallowed hard as Harry and Ron looked nervously at each other. When they didn’t answer, her nerves began fraying. “Where is Draco?” she asked again, fear and anger in her voice.

Ron just looked down at his feet. Harry rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, and tried to find the right words. “He’s, uh, he’s just taking care of uh, a few, minor things…”

She wasn’t buying it. “No, Harry Potter, you tell me the truth! Where is Draco? What did you do to him?” Her voice was wavering now, barely holding back a sob.

Neither boy knew how to answer her. No matter what they said, she’d be upset, and they already felt more than terrible for upsetting her in the first place.

“Ron beat the living hell out of him, that’s what he did!” The accusation came loud and sharp from Ginny’s mouth. She looked at the two boys furiously, a few tears still dribbling down her cheeks.

“Ginny!” gasped Ron. “Don’t get her upset!”

“UPSET?” cried Hermione. “Ginny, don’t get her upset?! YOU have me upset! Both of you!! How could you? How could you hurt him? He’s the reason I’m alive, you heartless idiots!” She broke down completely and Ginny rushed to her side.

“Hermione,” Harry said softly.

“NO!” she cut him off. “Get out! Get out the both of you! I can’t believe you, I can’t believe you would…oh, just get out!”

The boys left with their heads hung low.

“Ginny, is he going to be alright? I need to see him, I need to be with him!” Hermione was going into hysterics. She gripped Ginny’s arms and tried to raise herself off the couch.

Ginny held her back. “No, please, Hermione, not yet. He’s upstairs. I’ll take you myself to see him, I promise, but let him get patched up first, okay?” She held onto her best friend’s arms and gently but firmly laid her back down on the couch. Hermione simply pulled her knees up to her chest and cried.
Jean was at her side a moment later. She rubbed Hermione’s head with one hand, and Ginny’s back with the other. She would be the strong one for these girls. She’d watch over Ginny until Molly came back later in the afternoon. She kissed her daughter’s temple and whispered, “It’s going to be all right,” and hoped she was telling the truth.

****

The rest of the day was anxious and tense. Fred and George Apparated home to tell Molly what happened, and decided to stay there rather than witness what would occur when their mother got her hands on Ron. Kingsley headed back to the Ministry. Remus and Tonks had arrived, and both were enraged to hear what had occurred. Tonks rushed her cousin’s side. Molly Apparated into the Black home the moment her sons finished filling her in.

A pop was heard in the kitchen, and Molly came rushing into the parlor. Her heart sank as she saw Jean comforting two very upset young ladies. She walked over to them and Ginny stood up, throwing her arms around her mother and starting to cry again.

“It was so awful, Mummy,” she whimpered into Molly’s shoulder. Molly just held her.

“There, now, we’ll fix it, sweetheart. Where is he?” she asked.

Jean looked at her. “Ron or Draco?”

Molly’s face hardened. “I’ll deal with my son later.” Then it softened. “Right now I want to see Draco.” Jean told her where to go and she exited the parlor, her large purse clinking with potion bottles.

Hermione had fallen asleep, completely done in by the stress of the day. Ginny looked back at her, pondering what to do now.

“Go Ginny,” Jean said softly. “She’s resting now anyway. I’m going to stay here. I’ll let you know when she’s up.” Ginny nodded her head and left, plodding slowly up the stairs.

As she reached the top, she could already hear her mother saying, “Oh for Merlin’s sake, just look at the boy!” She sighed and headed for her room to lie down and shove a pillow over her head.

****

Everything hurt.

It hurt to move, it hurt to open his eyes. It hurt to breathe. He winced at the sharp pain that accompanied Molly’s mending of each bone. Every muscle in his body ached. Damn it, didn’t he just get them relaxed earlier today? His face was swollen, and he couldn’t get the coppery taste of blood out of his mouth.

Even if he could have opened his eyes, he wouldn’t have. He didn’t want to see the troubled faces of those attending to him. He didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to answer their questions. He just wanted to be left alone.

The only thing he thought about was Hermione. His heart sank that she must be distraught over what had happened. They really were stupid boys, just like she said. He added another apology to the already lengthy list of apologies he owed her.

He pretended to be unconscious when his cousin rubbed healing balm on his cheeks and chest. He could hear her speaking in low whispers with Molly and Remus.

“And they just let this happen?”

“Believe me, my husband has as much explaining to do as my son!”

“His body will mend, but I’m worried about the blow to his spirit. He won’t admit it, but he’s as fragile as Hermione right now. He’s been through hell and back. Mad-Eye told me everything he saw.”

A surge of anger and humiliation shot through Draco. So now Lupin knew his most private memories too? He was affronted that he couldn’t even choose to keep his own secrets. He didn’t want them knowing what it was like for him at home. His ordeal with Ron had reminded him of a time in his parlor when he was eight, and he’d lied to his dad about breaking a vase. Pinned to floor and having his face beaten. The recollection hit him, brutal and unmerciful, and his stomach lurched. He fought hard against the impulse to vomit. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was fragile right now.

Tonks’s lips were on his forehead, and she was stroking his hair. He fought with all his will not to cry in front of her. But he was so tired, and in so much pain, that he couldn’t hold back. Tears of shame and sorrow leaked from behind his closed eyelids.

“Oh! Oh, sweetheart,” she said, and gently wiped the tears from the sides of his face.

“Is he coming to?” asked Molly, returning to the bed and leaning over him. “Draco, dear, can you hear me?”

There was no point in pretending now. He squinted at the light as he opened his eyes and immediately looked away from them. He’d salvage whatever scrap of dignity he had left. “I just want to be alone,” he whispered, the strain of talking hurting his head.

The women fussed over him, insisting that they stay and help him. But Remus, from a man’s perspective, understood. “Let’s just give him a bit of time to himself; he’s earned it.” He ushered Molly and his wife out of the room and quietly closed the door behind them. Draco’s tears were now of gratefulness.

****

Shouting could be heard in some of the bedrooms upstairs during the afternoon. Ginny and Harry, Molly, Ron and Arthur were having it out over the events of the day. Harry was furious with Ginny for sticking up for Malfoy; Ginny was enraged that Harry could be so insensitive. Molly was reading the riot act to her son and husband, who knew from experience to just shut their mouths and take their punishment.

Hermione was blissfully asleep through it all. Tom had returned from work, and he and Jean sat in the parlor, drinking tea and listening to the row upstairs. They stared at their baby girl, feeling only tenderness and love and, above all, thankfulness that she was with them again. Jean couldn’t stop thanking God; she prayed over and over, pouring out her gratitude and love for the Creator who protected her little girl from death. Tom fretted over Hermione’s delicate state, but couldn’t help but be proud of how strong she was through it all. They turned to the doorway and welcomed Tonks and Remus to join them.

It was already evening when Hermione awakened. Jean fixed her a plate of chicken and potatoes and brought her some hot chamomile tea. Hermione sipped it slowly, letting the herbed liquid soothe her. After she’d eaten, she turned to her parents. “I want to see Draco now.”

Her parents looked at Remus and Tonks. Remus answered. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Hermione. He took a few serious blows out there. He needs his rest and you do not need to be more upset.”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” she replied. “But I’m only going to be more upset imagining what happened to him than if I saw him with my own eyes. I won’t disturb him, I promise. I just need to see him.” The adults gave her a cautious nod of approval, and Tom helped her up the stairs.

She wasn’t prepared for what she saw when the door opened. A cry caught in her throat as she looked at him. He looked worse than terrible. His bare chest was wrapped tightly with bandages around his ribcage, and his lip was cut and badly swollen. His head was bandaged as well, and bruises covered every inch of what she could see of him. She was…there were no words for how she felt.

She rushed to the side of his bed and climbed in, wrapping her arms around him carefully and letting her tears fall on his shoulder. “I’m staying right here,” she announced.

Tom began to protest, but Jean placed her hand on his arm. “They need each other right now.” The adults quietly left them alone.

In the end, Hermione did leave him but only briefly. She hadn’t had a chance to bathe since she arrived the day before. Once she was clean, she snuggled back next to him. He felt her there, smelled her, and hoped to heaven he wasn’t dreaming. He slowly opened his eyes and his pain dissolved at the sight of her. “You’re really here,” he said simply.

She nodded into his shoulder. “Yes, I’m right here.” She kissed his collarbone and squeezed him just a tiny bit tighter.

He kissed the top of her head, not caring that the action shot pain through his lips. Just to spite the pain, he kissed her again and again.
“Stay with me,” he whispered.

“I will,” she whispered back.
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Old 10-04-2011, 03:59 AM   #134 (permalink)
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I'll be defying gravity April 29th!!!

Hey! New reader!!
I've only read through ch 34, but.... so far it's really good.
Now I can honestly say that I usually really don't like Hermione/Malfoy romance. It takes the right writer to even partially convince me of it, since I LOVE Ron/Hermione stuff. And oddly, you have convinced me. I don't know how, but for your story you have convinced me on their relationship... for now. I cannot deny that I will still hope for Ron and Hermione. But, for now, I suppose I will have to be content. *sigh*
Great job!!!!
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:41 PM   #135 (permalink)
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I'll be defying gravity April 29th!!!

Finally got through it all!
Very good job!!
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Old 10-06-2011, 01:52 AM   #136 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narnia_potter View Post
Finally got through it all!
Very good job!!
-Rachel
Oh my gosh, thank you sooooo much!!!

I was really blown away by your comment that I actually convinced you of a believable Hermione/Draco romance!!! That is huge for me- I'm really touched. Hope you enjoyed the fact that Ron got to beat the *!@(#% out of Draco!

I had written a hilarious scene about Ron at the Leaky Cauldron getting into the pub fight, but it was a little out of SnitchSeeker bounds. Shoot!

There's only ONE MORE CHAPTER... and I'm putting it up tonight! I'd love to hear what you think of the ending, so please comment if you can.

Again, thank you so much for reading my humble story and writing your lovely compliments!!!!
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:37 AM   #137 (permalink)
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Chapter 38: Endings and Beginnings



8 Jan.

The morning routine was busier than usual. Trunks were packed in haste, animals collected into their cages, tickets placed safely in coat pockets. Leaving time for King’s Cross Station was in little over an hour. The kitchen was frenzied, full of teens and adults alike reaching over each other to grab the orange juice and pass the butter. The only noticeable difference was the uncomfortable silence between Harry and Ginny, who were still refusing to speak to one another.

Upstairs, Hermione stirred in her place next to Draco. She heard the level of activity and did a mental calculation of the date. Merlin’s beard! It was the day they were all returning to school. She sprang out of bed too fast and sat back down quickly, trying to stop the spinning of the room. Her motions woke Draco.

“What is it? Is something wrong?” he asked in a tired whisper.

“Today we go back to school! I haven’t packed anything!” she cried, steadying herself on the post of the bed as she attempted to stand again.

Draco regarded her with surprise. “Hermione, you don’t actually think they’re going to let us go back to school today,” he said.

“Well, of course they are! We can’t just stay here and miss class. We can rest there and still be able to keep up with homework. We can help each other.”

Draco sat up in bed with a great deal of effort. “Hermione, slow down. We can’t go back to school,” he said quietly.

She stopped moving. “What do you mean, we can’t?”

He sighed and looked her in the eyes. She didn’t understand. But then again, how much experience did she have understanding the ways of dark wizards, other than the past few days?

“Hermione, it’s not safe for us there right now,” he said with some difficulty, his newly-mended ribs making it painful to speak. “Even though Hogwarts is one of the safest places, there are too many possibilities for trouble. My father’s not going to rest until he finds us. The Dark Lord may have dispatched a great number of Death Eaters with the sole command of bringing us to him. That is something you never want to experience,” he said darkly.

“But-we have to sit for our N.E.W.T.’s, and we’re learning Apparation, and I have so much to accomplish there,” she protested, pushing away the new reality she was faced with.

It hurt him to see her so distraught, and know that his words would only cause her more pain. Why is it that I still keep causing her pain? “Hermione, please come here. Just for a moment.”

She turned back reluctantly and sat on the edge of the bed. He took her hands in his. “Hermione,” he began,” we’ll figure something out about school. Nothing will get in the way of you learning whatever you wish to learn. But, right now, our very presence could bring danger to everyone at Hogwarts, and we can’t risk that.”

Frustrated tears formed in her eyes as Draco poked holes in every argument she could think of. He was right. There would be no Hogwarts for them. Not now, and perhaps not ever. The latter was something she couldn’t bring herself to consider. She sat on the edge of the bed with her head down, and let her future fall away from her in the form of defeated tears.

Jean entered the room and found her daughter crying and Draco rubbing her back, regret painted on his face. “What is it, sweetie?”

“We can’t g-go, can we?” she hiccupped, hoping to heaven that her mother would contradict her.

Jean’s face fell, and she joined Hermione on the side of the bed. She knew what a terrible blow this would be. “No, baby, not right now. It’s just not safe.”

“B-but it’s my sixth year, and I was preparing for… I had so many dreams…and they’ve ruined everything!” she cried out.

Draco hung his head in the bed. That’s what my family does best. Ruin everything.

“We’ll find a way,” Jean soothed her, “you’ll still learn everything you need, I promise.”

Hermione stood up. “I need to be alone for a moment.”

Draco looked anxious at the thought, but Jean knew her daughter’s way of dealing with bad news. “Of course, sweetie. We’ll just be here if you need us.”

Hermione left the room without another word and slammed the door behind her. Jean turned to Draco; he looked so distressed. She placed her hand on his arm. “She’ll be all right. This is her way of dealing with things.”

He shook his head. “She shouldn’t have to deal with any of this. This is crueler than nearly everything she went through at the Manor.” He refused to call it his home.

Jean cringed at the mention of it. She squeezed his arm and replied, “She’s going to need all of us to help her get through this.”

He looked up into her eyes. “She will always have me.”

Jean leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on the temple. “And you will be most important to her.”

****

Hermione ran into Ginny in the hallway. Ginny already knew; she flung her arms around her best friend and cried with her. “I’m going to miss you so much!” she whimpered. “This isn’t fair!”

Hermione looked at her friend. “Life isn’t fair, Ginny.” She stroked Ginny’s hair, soft and shiny from its recent cleansing. She could smell the citrusy scent of her friend’s shampoo. How much she was going to miss that smell in the early morning of the common room. The thoughts of everything she was losing were hurtling at her, one after another. She squeezed Ginny’s arm. “I have to go now. I’ll see you off.” And with that, she made her way quickly to the hall bathroom and wept.

****

In an instant, it seemed, it was time to leave. Harry, Ron, and Ginny stood in the hallway leading to the front door of the house. They were each carrying knapsacks and levitating their trunks behind them. Arthur was starting the car and Molly was flitting about, making last-minute checks in case anyone forgot something. Jean had come down to help, and was carrying Arnold, Ginny’s pygmy puff and Pigwidgeon, Ron’s owl, in their cages. They heard Hermione come timidly down the stairs. Holding her head high, she blinked back her tears and exhaled. She could do it; she could see them off.

She gave Ginny another huge hug. “You’d better owl me every day!” she ordered. Ginny remained stoic as well; she wasn’t going to let her tears set Hermione off again.

Hermione took a deep breath and looked toward Harry and Ron. She was still furious with them, but she knew she’d never forgive herself if, God forbid, something happened and she never saw them again. She couldn’t let their last words be in anger.

“Goodbye, Harry,” she said simply, giving him a hug. “Be safe, alright? And please owl me.”

Harry choked up a bit. “Of course, Hermione. I’m so sorry.” She nodded her head and moved over to Ron
.
This was ten times harder. She was ten times more angry with him. She stood on tiptoe and gave him a hug, but there was barely any feeling in it. It was the best she could do right now. “Study hard and don’t wait until the last minute to start your assignments. Be careful on the Quidditch pitch, too. Have a good term,” she managed.

He hugged her back, his eyes filled with sadness. “I’m really sorry, Hermione.”

She nodded her head and closed her eyes to keep her emotions at bay. “I know.”

Arthur came in from the cold. “Everyone ready? It’s time to go.”

Hermione stepped back and let them all pass through the door, with Molly following. Molly paused and took Hermione’s face in her hands. “We’ll fix it, we will.” She patted her cheek and followed her brood out of the house. Hermione was left alone in the hall with her mother.

Jean put her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze. “I’m so very sorry, honey.” Hermione said nothing as she watched her life leave without her as the door closed.

****

Jean spent the rest of the day taking turns checking on Hermione and Draco. At first, Hermione had donned her coat and scarf, and sat by herself on the backyard steps with a cup of hot cocoa. She didn’t cry; she simply stared off into space, contemplating what her new future would hold. A future without Hogwarts.

When it became too cold to stay outside, she had moved into the parlor, choosing the couch Jean and Tom had slept on rather than the one that reminded her of how she arrived. She held a book in her hand and absentmindedly turned the pages without absorbing any words. What would she do now? What would her purpose be? These were the thoughts that filled her mind as she sat in the parlor.

Jean brought her some grilled cheese and tomato soup, and sat there to make sure Hermione at least took a few bites. Then she took an identical tray upstairs. She knocked on Draco’s door and waited to see if he was asleep. He called her in.

“Herm-?” His face fell a bit. “Oh, hello Mrs. Granger,” he said politely.

“She’s down in the parlor, having lunch. I brought you some as well.” She helped him to sit up and placed the tray on his lap. He immediately picked up his spoon and slid it into the soup. It was creamy and spiced with basil, and it warmed him all the way down to his toes. It caused him to do something quite uncharacteristic: he said thank-you.

“Well, you’re very welcome, dear,” she answered and smiled at him. For all the arrogance and bravado she’d heard about him, he seemed more soft-spoken and shy. She realized that she had an awful lot to learn about the young man who took on the job of Hermione’s guardian angel.

“We’ve been quite preoccupied with Hermione’s well-being; how are you faring, darling?”

Draco winced. His mother called him darling. She felt a million miles away from him right now. He swallowed down the lump in his throat and sighed. “I’m fine. No one needs to worry about me.”

Jean gently rubbed his arm. “Well, we do. I do. And Hermione does too. You are a hero, sweetheart. I owe you everything. You brought my child back to me! Do you know how much it hurts a mother to be separated from her child?”

At once, Draco’s whole body tensed and his face went deathly pale. Alarmed, Jean reached for him and he pulled away from her. He was shaking. Jean thought back through the last things that were said and could have killed herself for the blunder she’d made.

“Oh! Oh, Draco, how thoughtless of me! I’m so sorry! Your mother- I’m sure this has to be so hard on the both of you. You must miss her so much. And she doesn’t even know that you’re safe, does she?”

He shook his head. His breaths came whistling through gritted teeth as both the physical pain and the emotional anguish overtook him. “We fought. The last thing we ever did was fight with each other.” He buried his face in his hands. “I want my mother,” he whispered almost inaudibly.

Jean slid a tentative hand around his shoulders. “When Hermione gained her family back, you lost your own.” She closed her eyes as tears cascaded down her cheeks. She wanted to gather up this boy and hold him in her lap and make everything better. “We will find a way to bring your mother to you somehow; that will be my personal mission. But, until then, I will always be here for you. I’m a poor substitute, I know, but I’ll always be here." She scooted closer to him on the bed and gently wrapped her arms around him.

He allowed her to hold him, partly because he was too weak to push her away and partly because he needed to be held. His tears burned hot on his face and dripped from his chin to her arm, and she held him tighter. It struck him that he was being comforted by a Muggle mother, the polar opposite of his own. And it didn’t matter- the arms of a mother always feel loving to the child held within them. I love you, Mum. Someday I’ll make all of this up to you, I swear. Someday we’ll be free and safe, and I’ll love you the way I meant to, the way you deserve.

She waited until he was ready to let go, then sat back and smoothed the hair from his forehead. He looked so young. She kissed him on his head and stood up from the bed. “Eat up, or your soup will get cold,” she said as normally as she could manage. “I’ll be back soon.” She closed the door behind her and headed to the very same bathroom in the hall that her daughter had used just a few hours before. And, just like her daughter, she had a good cry there, too.

****

That evening, as the sun set over London, the members of the Order of the Phoenix met at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. There were important matters to discuss.

Dumbledore called the meeting to order. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are here to decide the best possible course of action to take regarding Hermione and Draco. Certainly, our number one priority is to keep them safe. But what shall we do beyond that?”

Ideas were offered, discussed, rejected. But slowly, a consensus began to build. Each member voted, and the ayes heavily outweighed the nays. The group made their way up the stairs to the room Hermione and Draco were in.

The two looked up in surprise as the entire group of adults crowded into the room. Dumbledore spoke first. “I know that the two of you are aware of the danger you’re facing. It will not be safe for either of you to be seen for quite a while. I’m sure that this is discouraging and frustrating, but it is necessary. Now Hermione, I know that missing school is devastating to you, so I’ve arranged to Apparate you both once a week to Hogwarts to be given your lessons in private. No one except the teachers will know you are there.”

Hermione perked up at the news. “May I have all of the textbooks here?”

Dumbledore smiled. “Yes, and I’ll throw in a few of my favorite books too.”

Hermione closed her eyes and smiled. It was something, at least. “Thank you so much, Professor. It means the world to me.”

The old wizard grinned at her, then turned to Draco. “You have had a lifetime of experience with the Dark side of magic, and I am sure you have been privy to some of the plans of Voldemort and his regime.”

Draco shuddered. “If you knew half of what I know, what I’ve seen…”

“That’s exactly what we want to know,” replied Dumbledore. “Which is why we are prepared to offer you membership into the Order of the Phoenix.”

Draco looked confused. “The what?”

Dumbledore smiled. Aha. So Hermione didn’t tell him about the Order. Smart girl, as always. “The Order of the Phoenix. We are a special society of wizards and witches who are dedicated to stopping Voldemort’s advances and to defeat him once and for all. This isn’t just a regular house we stand in- it is the Headquarters of the Order. I am the founder of this allegiance, and everyone you see before you are brave and dedicated members. If you have truly turned your back on the ways of Dark Magic, and the plans of Voldemort, you could be of great help to us.”

Draco shook his head. “But how could you trust me with something like this?”

“You will of course begin with a probationary period of time, where you will be mentored and monitored to ensure your heart is in the right place,” Dumbledore replied. “I know it won’t be easy for you, but nothing worthwhile comes easily. We believe in you, Draco, and we want to help you. Will you accept this offer and help us as well?”

Draco looked at the faces in the room. Some were beaming with encouragement. A few were somber and uncertain. He turned and looked at Hermione for her reaction.

She tenderly held his hand and smiled at him. “I think this is where you belong. I want you here. Accept the offer and be protected. And then help us like you helped me. Can you do that?”

Draco took a deep breath. Accepting meant his decision was final, that he was turning his back on his family and the only way of life he knew. It meant fighting against everything he was taught to fight for. But one look at Hermione convinced him that there was no other life he wanted than the one with her by his side.

“Yes- I want to help,” he replied, his heart hammering in his chest. He was choosing again- it was an amazing and terrifying feeling. He took another deep breath. “I want to join and help in any way I can,” he said, new-found conviction strengthening his voice. Hermione squeezed his hand and put her head on his shoulder. He could scarcely breathe. Is this what doing the right thing feels like?

A stream of affirmations rippled through the adults, and Kingsley had just taken a step toward Draco when there was a knock at the door.

“Sorry I’m late.”

Draco turned toward the voice and saw the very last person he expected to see. Severus Snape stood in the doorway, his usual apathetic expression altered slightly by the hint of a smile. Draco’s mouth fell open and he gaped at the man, confused beyond reason. “But you- but I thought- wait, I don’t understand-”

“Severus has been working for us for many years,” explained Dumbledore. “He has taken great personal risk to act as a spy on the inside of Voldemort’s army, supplying us with vital and timely information.”

Severus looked at his nephew (for that is what he felt for Draco) and smirked at the boy’s comical expression of disbelief. “Surprise,” he said flatly.

Dumbledore beckoned him into the room. “Severus, will you do the honors?” The black-cloaked man nodded and stood before Draco, who was still reeling at the revelation.

“Come here,” he instructed, and Draco obeyed. Severus brought up his wand and placed the point of it on Draco's chest, just above his heart. As he spoke, the wand's point began to glow a soft red, illuminating Draco's skin.

“Will you, Draco Malfoy, provide to the best of your ability, aid and support to the Order of the Phoenix? Do you turn your back on the ways of Dark Magic? Will you, to the best of your ability, work to rid the Wizarding World of any evil that threatens it? Will you give your very life for this cause?”

Draco hesitated a moment, pondering everything that was asked of him. His very life? But then again, he’d give his life for Hermione in an instant. Why wouldn’t he give his life for a cause that would keep her safe from harm? He met Severus’s eyes and held them fast.

“I will.”

Again, there bloomed a hint of a smile from his uncle’s face. The soft red light disappeared and Severus placed his wand back in his cloak. Draco felt almost light-headed, taking in the full measure of what he’d just agreed to.

Tonks was the first to give him a hug, followed by a warm handshake from Remus. Mad-Eye gave him a pat on the shoulder that made his whole body hurt, and Molly kissed the top of his head. He’d never seen so many people smile at him. It felt so good he couldn’t even speak.

He looked at Hermione. She had tears in her eyes, but they were joyful. She leaned forward, unabashed, and kissed him. Draco knew in that moment he had made the right decision.

He was proud of himself, really proud of himself. Maybe, just maybe he could begin to believe that he had something worthwhile to offer the world. For the first time, he felt no fear that his actions would harm him. He had chosen what was right, and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Fin



So here I am, getting teary-eyed as I copy the last few words of my story. It has been such a journey for me, and I'm so grateful for all of you that took the journey with me. Your words of encouragement have meant the world.

I am currently in the very basic stages of writing the sequal (don't we want to know if Draco and Hermione truly fall in love? And what about his mother- will they see each other again? What will Draco's life be like within the Order? And what will happen as Lucius's rage fuels him on a tireless hunt for his traitor son?) All that and more are coming in Part II!

So thank you again, my lovely lovely readers- it has been an honor and a privilege to write for you. Love, Stefanie
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:29 AM   #138 (permalink)
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Oh My gosh I'm so sad Draco's so sweet I thought it was so cute the way you ended it *tears up*

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Old 10-07-2011, 01:46 AM   #139 (permalink)
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I'll be defying gravity April 29th!!!

Steph!!!!! OMG it was soooooo good! The ending was really good, but I'm sad since I just started it!

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Hope you enjoyed the fact that Ron got to beat the *!@(#% out of Draco!
Yes, I enjoyed Ron beating the crap out of Malfoy, although he shouldn't have gone so far.

Steph!! This story was AMAZING!!! And I have LOVED it!!! And I will miss it, especially since I just started reading it. So I will say bye-bye...
For now.....................................

-Rachel
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Old 10-08-2011, 05:15 AM   #140 (permalink)

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OMG! The story was great!
I read it all in one go! Its surely amazing!
Keep it up!!!
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:46 PM   #141 (permalink)
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Omg, that's it?

What a great way to end! I was in tears reading the end! Poor Draco, and Narcissa.

(Yay, Sev popped up [oo-er] again!)

I wait eagerly for Part II

Do I pop up again as a super Ninja Hawk?

Sarah-Jane xx
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:08 AM   #142 (permalink)
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Naaaww that was so sweet and touching! Such a fantastic end to your story!! I still can't believe its over. But now I'm curious to see what's in store for them next. So I do hope you continue to write... and soon!

Thank you soooooooooo much for sharing this with us, I loved it immensely.



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Old 11-21-2011, 09:30 PM   #143 (permalink)
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Hey Stef,
I read this whole fic in the last 2 days and I couldn't stop myself from commenting. I absolutely loved it! LOVE LOVE LOVE! Everyone was so in-character and I love your writing style. I usually don't enjoy reading Dramione centred fics but gaaah I loved this one so much. I'm starting to ship them now I cannot wait for sequel. And congrats on the Golden Goblin!
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