A whistle sounded, and smoke enveloped Kings Cross Station so thickly, it was like drifting through a grey cloud. Hermione, out of experience, managed to find a way to one of the Hogwarts Express’s many doors, Harry and Ron close behind. Hermione still hadn’t told the boys what she had seen at Borgin and Burkes. She knew that if Harry found out, he was sure to report Malfoy to Dumbledore. Something inside of Hermione told her to properly investigate this before she did something she might regret. What if Malfoy went to Azkaban? What if he died there? Hermione certainly didn’t want to be responsible for that.“Come on.” Harry said, motioning towards the back of the train.
“We can’t Harry remember?” Hermione sighed.
“We’ve got to go to the prefect carriage mate.” Ron said apologetically.
“Oh- right. Well… okay then, see you.” Harry said; his voice calm but his eyes coated with disappointment.
“Poor Harry,” Hermione said as she and Ron turned away from their friend. “As if life isn’t already tough enough for him. Do you think he’ll be alright?”
“He’ll be fine Hermione, he always is.” Ron said, but a little irritably.
“What’s got your owl ruffled?” Hermione asked.
“Nothing it’s just- sometimes I… never mind. It’s stupid really, you’ll laugh.”
“Ron, you’re my best guy friend, well one of my two best guy friends. You can tell me anything.”
“I don’t know…”
“Alright, calm down!” Ron cried, holding his hands up in surrender. “Sometimes I think you’d rather be spending your time with Harry instead of me. Like I’m not as good as him.” He blushed and turned away.
Hermione hadn’t expected that. “Ron, I care about you just as much as I care about Harry. But Harry needs support more than you sometimes. I mean with his parents dead, there aren’t many people he can talk t-"
“And here we go again! His parents died fifteen years ago Hermione! He should’ve moved on by now!”
“Ron! How dare you? It doesn’t matter how long ago it was it’s still affecting him! Besides that’s not the worst of his probl-”
“Is it my birthday? Because watching his Royal Highness King of Weasel’s and the know-it-all mudblood fight was first on my wish list.” A drawling bored voice spoke, interrupting Hermione for the second time that day. “Shove off Malfoy, this doesn’t concern you!” Ron shouted. Malfoy laughed.
“You’d rather spend time with a filthy little mudblood like her than a first rate pureblood? Or do you already realise that I would never befriend a poor bloodtraitor like you?” Malfoy smirked evilly.
The words were hurtful, and yet Hermione barely heard them. She was too busy staring at Malfoy’s left arm. She knew what was underneath his sleeve and it frightened her. She stood still, not daring to make eye contact with the young deatheater. Malfoy sneered at the damage he’d done, turned and walked away, Crabbe and Goyle lumbering along behind him.
After attending the prefect meeting and doing their rounds of the Hogwarts Express, Ron and Hermione made their way through the carriages in search of Harry; ignoring the curious stares they got from the first and second years, the amazed gazes from the older years, and the hateful glares from the Slytherins. They found Harry sitting in a compartment by himself. “Hey mate.” Ron said, sliding the compartment door open. “Why are you alone?”
“I was in here with Neville and Luna, but Luna went off to find some of her Ravenclaw friends, and Neville got hungry and went to find the lunch trolley. He should be back soon.”
They sat in silence for a few moments. Hermione at the window, staring out at the countryside slowly beginning to hide under a blanket of darkness as night snuck up behind it. Harry suddenly spoke.
“While we’re alone, there is something I should tell you guys. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I have a theory.” Ron and Hermione lent in, as Harry continued. “While we were in Fred and George’s shop, at Diagon alley, right after Hermione left to get her book, I saw Malfoy. He was on his own, he looked suspicious. Ron, you remember when I went to go and get some owl treats for Hedwig?”
“Well, I actually followed Malfoy. He went down Knockturn alley and into Borgin and Burkes. I snuck in behind him and hid behind a shelf. Malfoy wanted Borgin to fix something for him. And then, after Borgin refused, he showed him something, I don’t know what, I didn’t get around in time to see. But whatever it was, I think Malfoy is up to something.”
Hermione looked back outside the window to hide her confusion. Harry- at Borgin and Burkes? She hadn’t seen him. “But how?” Hermione asked Harry. “How did you pull that off without anyone seeing you?”
“I was under my invisibility cloak.” Harry shrugged.
The invisibility cloak! Duh!
“You said you had a theory mate.” Ron said. “Let’s hear it.”
“Well,” Harry suddenly looked excited, as though what he was about to say could bring down Voldemort altogether. “Borgin got really scared when Malfoy showed whatever it was to him. Lucius Malfoy is in prison… what if Malfoy has replaced his Dad as a Deatheater?”
Hermione’s head snapped in Harry’s direction. The same voice that had told her not to tell Harry about Malfoy was now screaming at her to make certain Harry didn’t find out the truth for himself.
Ron stared at Harry for a few seconds, and then exploded in furious fits of laughter. “Malfoy? Come on mate! I know he’s pretty mean and all but he’s definitely not Deatheater material!”
“Yeah Harry.” Hermione mentally thanked Ron and promised to apologise to him later. “Recruiting Malfoy as a Deatheater wouldn’t be very good. Like, he’s only sixteen! What could he do?”
“Okay fine!” Harry huffed; looking a little disappointed that no-one seemed to share his enthusiasm. Awkward silence, then, “Whatever, I’m going to go find Neville.” Harry said, clearly annoyed. He fiddled around in his bag a little, and then walked out the door, keeping his back to Hermione and Ron. Hermione sighed, dug out her book, and began to read.