Hermione sat at the kitchen table, wondering when it would all end. The war was at its peak and soon it would be over, one way or the other. Dozens of Death Eaters were dead or captured, and there were a few that had actually revealed what they knew. The rest were crazed and devoted to Voldemort and were sure to be sentenced to death. With the Dementors no longer working for the Ministry, no one wanted to risk imprisoning the Death Eaters, who would almost certainly try to escape. They knew better now because of the previous large breakouts. Everyone in the Order was assigned jobs, including the recently graduated students from Hogwarts. Harry and Ron were out searching for the second to last Horcrux; they were just one step away from the last one, Voldemort.
Hermione’s job was to investigate tips that the Order received, hoping to find a real one, to help capture the remaining Death Eaters and find the hideout of their “Dark Lord”. Just as Hermione was about to take a nap, Hedwig flew in the window of the hidden Order headquarters and landed on the table. Hermione opened the envelope and saw that the letter was from Tom, the bar man from the Leaky Cauldron. It read…
“I received Intel, that the younger Malfoy, is possibly hiding just outside of Little Hangleton, in a small rundown house. It is important to get there soon; he may be of help if he is captured, and made to talk. Health and luck be with you, Tom.”
Hermione put the letter in the box that was hidden in the wall and left the kitchen only pausing to grab her things. She picked up her wand, invisibility cloak and mirror that was connected to another that one of the senior members carried, and walked out of the door. Once she was outside and under the cloak, she Apparated instantly into the woods a slight way away from the house. She knew where she was because she remembered Harry’s description of the Pensieve visit he had taken with Dumbledore. She crept slowly out of the trees and saw the rundown house and people’s shadows inside. Taking slow breaths, she quietly walked to the window to see who was there; sure enough, Draco Malfoy was there, and so was Bellatrix Lestrange, and to Hermione’s surprise, he was crying. She watched him closely, he didn’t look the same. He looked broken.
She saw he held the Daily Prophet, and knew at once that he was reading about his mother’s murder. Bellatrix Lestrange was laughing at him, and Hermione heard her say, “The Dark Lord told you not to betray him, and now you know the cost of your cowardice.” Smirking, she told him, “You have one last chance to prove yourself. The Dark Lord has a job for you. You are to locate Arthur Weasley and kill him!” Draco looked pale but said he would do it. Hermione gasped loudly and turned to run, but it was too late: Bellatrix heard her. Bellatrix yelled, “Bombarda!” knocking Hermione to the ground, glass and wood from the window falling down all around her.
As Bellatrix came out the door, Hermione was trying to get up, but Bellatrix Stupefied her, having seen her shoes sticking out from the invisibility cloak. Hermione was scared; she knew she was as good as dead. She watched as Bellatrix approached her. Bellatrix pulled the cloak to reveal who she had found, laughing at the tears that were streaming silently down Hermione’s face. It happened just as Bellatrix was lifting her wand that Hermione heard a voice shout, “Avada Kedavra!" Bellatrix fell face down, dead instantly, and Hermione was free to move. As she got up, she carefully watched Draco as he lowered his wand and faced her.
Surprised at his actions, Hermione stared at Draco, who stared back with tears still falling silently down his face. When Draco spoke, it was ever so quiet: “She killed my mother, she killed her. I know it was her.”
Hermione asked nervously, “Are you going to kill me, too?”
Draco looked at her. “No. I’m done with all of them, and now they are going to kill me.”
Hermione replied “Not if you come with me. We can protect you. We know you could be good, Draco; we know you couldn’t bring yourself to kill Dumbledore. We could help you if you help us. You could try to earn our trust.”
Draco looked at her, about to say something in reply, when suddenly he screamed, “Get down!” He aimed his wand to kill the Death Eater that had appeared behind her, and he was hit with a Blasting Curse. He went down as Hermione rolled over and shouted, “Avada Kedavra!” Having killed the Death Eater, she ran to Draco and grabbed his arm, and raised her hand to her neck, and instantly activating the Portkey pendant on her necklace which pulled them by the navel, and moments later they landed in the hall of the Order’s head quarters.
Dazed from the spell and the trip there, Draco sat up slowly and looked around. “Where are we?” he asked her.
“I’ll answer questions later. I need you to hand over your wand and any other weapons you have,” she said, pointing her wand at him. “You have a long way to go before you will be trusted and you cannot be armed when the other members of the Order arrive”. Draco slowly handed her his wand, and turned out his pockets to show he had nothing else. “Follow me. You can eat something as you write down every bit of information that could redeem you.”
He followed her into the kitchen and was handed a simple corn beef sandwich, some pumpkin juice, and the quill and parchment. He ate while Hermione spoke into her two way mirror, summoning one of the senior members. As she waited for Tonks to arrive, she watched Draco take small bites in between writing sentences. Suddenly they heard a noise in the hall, and then they watched as Tonks walked into the kitchen, complaining about rugs and a sore toe from tripping on them. Tonks smiled as she saw Hermione watching over Draco, knowing that they finally had a break.
“Wotcher Hermione, is he unarmed? Does he have any helpful information?”
“Yes Tonks. This is Draco Malfoy. I captured him after receiving a tip. I put the tip note in the box by the way. Draco wants to prove he has changed; it seems his mother’s death turned him in the right direction.”
Draco looked at Hermione and quietly said, “Please. Don’t talk about my mother ever again.”
Hermione smiled lightly, saying, “I’m sorry about her”. Draco glanced at Hermione as she pulled Tonks into the corner of the room, still in sight, with her wand ready just in case. He wondered how she could be so nice to filth like him. Hermione whispered to Tonks, “We need to spread the word to as many as possible so that no one reacts and hurts him when they show up.”
Tonks agreed and walked out of the room to alert the others. Draco motioned to Hermione, lifted the parchment, handed it over, and then proceeded to eat his sandwich. Hermione was reading the information when Draco spoke up. “I’m sorry for everything, you know back at school all those years. And for everything else that’s happened since then.” Hanging his head and looking at the table he went on, “It wasn’t easy with my father breathing down my neck, trying to prepare me for the life he chose for me. I guess that’s why I was so nasty: to vent, you know? Deep down I knew I didn’t want that life, and I was too weak to walk away from him, too scared, and now my mother is…” He stopped talking, and just sipped at his pumpkin juice for a bit. Hermione was stunned to hear Draco say those things. He had always been her enemy; he was hated for his evil taunts, calling her ‘Mudblood’ and such. Hermione looked at him and knew that he was different and that he meant it. She could see the pain and regret in his eyes.
She told him, “It will be awhile before you’re really trusted. You did a lot of horrible things, and people will hate you; most of them will not be so forgiving. I will probably be assigned to watch you constantly, since I was the one that captured you.”
Draco looked at her. “I don’t blame anyone for not believing me, for hating me. I let my father turn me into one of the monsters like Bellatrix who killed my mother. I will do anything I can to help the Order kill every last one of those monsters. I swear on my mother’s grave!”
Hermione was at a loss for words, not knowing what she could possibly say after that declaration. They shared a look for a moment, each one looking for some understanding. Hermione briefly squeezed his shoulder. She looked away and motioned for him to follow her and led him to a room upstairs for him to sleep in. After locking him in with several spells, she thought of the pity she felt for him and surprisingly also felt a little compassion. She decided then and there not to judge him for his past, but for what he would do in the present and in future, because if he was sincere, he deserved his chance to change. Everyone deserved that chance.
Draco sat in the room, feeling disgusted with himself, empty. His mind wandered to Hermione, and he was still surprised that she had practically comforted him, after all that he had done to her and her friends. <I>How can she forgive me? </I> He wondered to himself. He remembered the look in her eyes when she was Stupefied, thinking she was going to die. Her face had been frozen and fearful. He had felt the hate stir up in him and he had killed Bellatrix without hesitation. And as he lowered his wand, he remembered the feeling he had got when the other appeared and looked to Hermione, and pointed their wands to kill her. He felt protective, and that surprised him most of all. It was like he didn’t know himself. He didn’t have his father breathing down his neck anymore. He wasn’t used to listening to his own feelings instead of thinking about what his father would expect of him.
For the first time in years, he felt a little happy with himself. He was free, free to be himself, whoever that was. And he owed it to his mother, and he also felt he owed it to Hermione, who was overlooking his past. He promised himself right then, that he would do anything to repay that kindness she had showed him: forgiveness and a glimpse of what freedom of mind could be like. He could be good, and he would prove it.
Downstairs members of the Order were arriving for the nightly meeting. And as soon as everyone was gathered and quiet, Hermione raised her hand, and announced she had good news. Everyone looked on as she picked up the parchment, and read off all of the tips and secrets that Draco had written. Everyone stared, and it was Mr. Weasley that asked, “Where did you get all this information?” She smiled and explained about the tip from Tom, her trip to Little Hangleton, and her captured reformer. Mrs. Weasley was the one who asked “Where is he, and how can you be so sure he really wants to change and that he isn’t tricking us?”
“It’s a hunch,” explained Hermione, “I could see his pain over what he has done, which indirectly led to his mother’s death. He says he really does want to change, and I believe him. I know some of you don’t and think I’m being careless, but I promise to take full responsibility for him. I will watch him night and day; I’ll cast spells to help me do those things. I’ll get Tiny and Lucky to help me watch over him: constant surveillance. And I promise if I feel the least bit nervous about any action or comment of his, I will alert one of you immediately.”
Mr. Weasley looked at everyone, and asked them if they all agreed. Every one replied affirmatively. Hermione nodded to them and said, “I’ll go cast those protective spells right now and explain things to Tiny and Lucky.” Everyone was shocked by the night’s events, but they didn’t let that stop the meeting. They went over the revealing information, divided up the tasks of seeing if the information really was helpful, and left with high hopes. They knew Hermione had good senses. This was the best thing to happen to any of them in quite a while.
A/N: THIS IS A NEWLY EDITED VERSION. I NOW HAVE TWO WONDERFUL BETAS... AND I WILL BE UPDATEDING ALL OF MY CHAPTERS AS I GET THEM BACK FROM MY SECOND BETA. A SPEACIAL THANKS GOES TO ANNA AND LAUREN MY BETAS ;) PLEASE REVEIW, AND REMEMBER YOU CAN EMAIL ME YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS IF YOU WISH TO BE EMAILED EVERY TIME MY STORY IS UPDATED!
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