I am so so so so sorry about the delay….
*runs and hides*
The past three weeks have been really hectic…
Two years of hard work had boiled down to those three weeks…
And on top of all the work I had to do, my uncle met with a pretty bad accident and
had multiple fractures, so its been pretty crazy :(
He’s fine now though, and is healing well…
I had promised myself that I wouldn’t touch the computer to write till it’s done, and now I’m proud to say that what ever I wanted has happened :)
I’m incredibly happy right now, and what’s made it even better was the reviews I received for the last chapter!
Thank you so very much :)
You guys are awesome! *hugs*
Now I’m going to stop this very long A/N and let you read the chapter =P
This is the longest yet :) and I hope it makes up for me being AWOL for so long…
When Draco had first entered the Manor gate, he felt the wards press against his skin – flickering and popping against his flesh. It was at that moment that his suspicions were confirmed. The wards had two purposes – they would ensure that only Death Eaters could enter, and the inhabitants of the Manor would be instantly informed about the identities of whoever enters. Now, Draco found himself caught in a dilemma. He knew that if they caught him on the side of the Aurors, then he would be killed instantly, branded a traitor, and Peter and Harry would have no way to escape. He would have to pretend to betray Harry so he could help him later. However, the temptation to join the side of the Dark Lord was strong. The power that he would be given was seductive, and its siren call was hard to ignore. After all, he had been branded a Death Eater by the Lord and society, and if he joined the Dark Lords side, wouldn’t he be fulfilling his destiny?
However, it was at that moment that Peter changed into Hermione. This was like a blow to Draco. He had expected her to be sleeping in the safety of her home, not deceiving them and coming. In a small corner of his mind, he admired her resourcefulness. He did not know how she had gotten here, but realized it did not matter any more – the only thing that was important was that she was here, and that he had to protect her. Her appearance had angered him greatly, but had also strengthened his resolve. He deeply cared for this girl – and her safety was paramount to him. He instantly knew that his love for her would ensure that he would never again tread on the path of the Dark side. He would do whatever it takes to get her out safely, and would not give in to the temptation of betraying them for real.
He took a deep breath to prepare himself for the mental strain his deception would cause to him, and built a strong cage around his heart to shut off his feelings. This was the moment to act. Indecision would play no part in his mind anymore.
He remembered an old maxim his father had drilled into his mind when he was small.
Appearances are everything.
Even though this was something his father had taught him so he could play the role of a Malfoy, it was an adage that he would have to follow perfectly to fool everyone. If he pretended to betray them well enough, everyone would believe he had really done that. His deception could not be discovered at any cost. As Harry and Hermione were arguing, he quietly strode to the gate, and shut it with a loud clang. As they spun around to see him, he rearranged his features into the coldest sneer he could manage, and pointed his wand at them. In the distance, he could see two cloaked figures approach. Their timing was perfect for his plan.
However, the shocked and heartbroken expression on Hermione’s face nearly destroyed him. He wished he could run to her and enclose her in his arms and never let go. He wanted to reassure her, but that would ruin his plan. He needed the both of them fully alert and fighting – there was always a chance he would fail, and if that happened, they would have to fend for themselves. He let out a cold laugh to mask his feelings.
In the meantime, the cloaked figures had arrived. When one of the figures lowered its hood, he bit back a cry of alarm. The shock of seeing his dead aunt standing there, orchestrating the plan sent fear shooting through him. The whole operation had just gotten more dangerous, and he was glad that he had pretended to switch sides - this way he had a better chance of rescuing the others.
With this in mind, he whispered a stunning spell in Hermione's direction, suppressing his wince when she hit the ground hard. He could show no sympathy.
Appearances were everything.
He lifted his head to greet his aunt.
A long time later, Draco crept down to the dungeons to check on the others. He thanked his stars that his aunt had taught him Occlumency, as the minute she saw him, she tried to read his mind. Bellatrix’s plan to bring back Lord Voldemort had shaken him. He knew this was something he had to stop at any cost. Even in his wildest dreams he did not think that she could have been planning this. At most, he had thought what she wanted was revenge. His mission had gotten that much more risky – it was no loner about the safety of Hermione, Harry and his family, but the fate of the wizarding world and the Muggle world. Failure was not an option.
This brought him to another problem. Pansy. Now that he was “back” on the dark side, she followed him everywhere. She even surprised him in the bathroom today, just as he was about to lower his trousers. At one time, his ego would have been stoked by her attention, but all he felt now was irritation and loathing. He had given her the slip because that girl was getting on his last nerves. If she tried to kiss him again, he would not be responsible for the consequences. As he approached the cell where they were kept, his pulse began to quicken. He did not know what to expect, and hoped she was okay.
In the almost non existent light he could make out that they were tied to a pole. Hermione seemed conscious, though the way she moved her head showed that she was disoriented. As he turned to leave, Hermione suddenly called out, startling him. Her voice sounded brave and clear, and masked the fear he was sure she was feeling. He froze as she whipped her head around, trying to spot the intruder.
When she stopped looking, he hurried out to join Bellatrix, hoping his absence hadn’t been detected.
When Bellatrix had asked him to torture Hermione, he couldn’t do it. It as bad enough he had to pretend to betray them – he would never willingly cause her to suffer. When Bellatrix turned on him instead, he almost welcomed the pain. He would rather endure a thousand curses before having to torture Hermione.
While escorting her to the room, he tried to be as gentle as possible without blowing his cover. However, the venomous glances Hermione kept shooting him felt like painful blows. He wished he could make her understand that he was not a traitor, but there was no way. Pansy was hanging off his arm; he would not be able to tell her without Pansy hearing.
When Pansy backhanded Hermione's head, it took all his willpower not to kill the petty vicious girl on the spot. He felt intense anger filling his system, and tried to control his expression
Appearances were everything.
He could exact his slow and painful revenge on her later. For now, the most important thing was to make sure Bellatrix’s plan failed. He pretended to grin at Pansy’s antics, but let his rage simmer inside.
However, when Bellatrix started to torture Hermione, he was nearly undone again. It took everything he had to not fire the killing curse at her instantly. But he knew that if he did, Pansy would capture him and continue the sacrifice. And everything he had done so far would have been for nothing. So, reigning himself, he waited for the perfect moment to strike.
Time slowed down around him. Everything seemed to happen in exaggerated motion. He could see Bellatrix raise her wand, and her mouth begin to form the words that would end Harry’s life – words that would change the face of the world as they knew it. This was it.
He felt himself point his wand at her, and it was a relief to utter the incantation that would rid the world of Bellatrix. Blood thundered in his veins, and heart seemed to be beating so fast it seemed like it would jump out of his chest. As he watched her stiffen, and fall to the ground, his every cell felt alive. His actions were a blur to himself as he spun on his heel and shot a stunner at Pansy. Instantly, the large girl fell, and he turned to free Harry and the others. He could feel Hermione's gaze on him, but ignored it – busying himself with summoning their wands. He did not want to see the reproach that would surely be etched on her face. What if she thought that he had switched sides for real, and then chickened out later? He would not be able to handle her censure and rejection. He watched as Harry sent a patronus to the ministry. Instantly, hundreds of Aurors surrounded the place. Draco made no resistance as one of them captured him and tied him up. He knew he would have time to explain later. He felt himself being manhandled and taken to the Ministry.
It had been three days. Three days since Draco had saved the world. In the Manor, the minute she gave her statement, she had gone straight to her apartment, and went to bed. For three days she shut herself inside, ignoring owls and visitors. People kept banging on her door daily, and only stopped when she sent terse letters to Harry and the Ministry saying she wanted to be left alone. She felt hurt, confused and wrong footed – three emotions that were not familiar to the brightest witch of the age. In the beginning, she had been very upset at Malfoy, and was hurt that he hadn’t trusted her with his plan. Then slowly, her feelings of hurt morphed into something else – gratitude. Draco had pretended to switch sides so he could save them all. His actions were very risky, and with great danger to himself, he managed to save the world. He was a hero, and she felt ashamed of ever doubting him. She was about to rush off and apologize to him when a sudden thought struck her. What if he did not want to talk to her?
If he didn’t, he would be justified. In the past few days, she had not contacted him or anyone. She had shut herself in because her pride was wounded, and her childish behavior could have hurt their friendship irreparably.
A few hours later…
She still hadn’t spoken to him. She wasn’t sure if he would even want to speak to her. After all, she had not trusted him. She had truly believed that he had betrayed them, and she knew that this lack of trust would have destroyed their friendship. Further, she had ignored him because her pride was wounded. Her actions seemed stupider and stupider to herself. When she contemplated upon the chance that she would never meet him again, never laugh with him or talk to him, she felt unexpected pain shooting through her heart.
In the short month that she had known him, he had quickly become one of her dearest friends. He had been for her during a time when she was lonely and depressed. And yet, here she was hiding herself in her apartment for a week because she was scared to confront him and have him reject her. She straightened her shoulders, and summoned her courage. She would venture out and find him, and if he never wanted to talk to her again, he would have to tell her himself.
As she entered the Ministry, she was surrounded by colleagues and strangers both, all congratulating her on her success in stopping Bellatrix and saving Harry, Ginny and James. They seemed awed by her actions and thronged around her, threatening to suffocate her. Their actions conveyed a deep sense of gratitude and Hermione felt ashamed of her petty actions.
“It was nothing. I didn’t do much.” She called out, hoping to disperse the crowd.
“Hermione, don’t be so modest, we know it was because of you that You Know Who was stopped. In fact, the Minister is awarding you an Order of the Merlin, first class for your courage and bravery.”
Hermione was shocked. “Me?” she asked.
“I didn’t do anything. We survived because of Draco, Draco Malfoy. He saved us!”
The crowd froze, shocked. Confusion was clear on every face. Hermione looked around, trying to understand their reactions. Surely it was public knowledge that Draco was a hero. It was evident from the expressions of the people surrounding her that this was not so. One man called out to her “Are you sure Draco Malfoy saved you? His trial will be conducted tomorrow. He is to be tried for his crimes against Harry Potter and his attempts to bring You Know Who back.”
“WHAT?” Hermione spat out, her voice colored with anger. “Where is Harry Potter?”
The lady next to her answered “He’s in Mungos right now.”
Hermione instantly disapperated to find him.
The minute she entered the reception at St. Mungos, the kindly lady behind the desk recognized her and directed her towards Harry’s room.
As she entered, she was greeted by a cheerful yellow room with bouquets on every surface. The smell of a thousand flowers assailed her nose. She saw Harry, Ginny and James on three beds near the window. When Ginny saw her, a wide smile broke out on her face.
“Hermione!” she cried out, “You‘re all right!” Relief was evident in her friend’s voice.
Hermione walked up to her and gave her a hug. “Of course I’m fine. There’s no need to worry about me. How is my favorite godson?” she looked at James’ sleeping form. The child looked much better, the color evident in his cheeks.
“He’s fine now,” Harry replied. “Thank god there’s nothing seriously wrong with them, except malnutrition.” He was sitting upright on his bed, with his shoulder heavily bandaged. Hermione raised her eyebrows. His cut should have been healed by now.
Harry replied defensively “Bellatrix’s dagger had been treated with poison. The Healers didn’t know what it was, but they’ve deduced that it’s illegal and dangerous. It’s spread through my system and has been hampering the healing process. Do you think that if I had been allowed to leave this room, I wouldn’t have come straight to your apartment?”
Hermione blushed with shame. She then remembered the reason she had hurried down here so fast. The smile on her face disappeared.
“Harry! What’s going on? They told me that the Ministry thinks Draco is responsible for the whole kidnapping!!”
Harry’s face instantly darkened and his cheery mood vanished. The Ministry was a mess. The public had lost faith in the Ministry, and no one knew what had actually happened in the Manor. There had been wild accusations and rumors flying in the past few days. The abduction of the Minister had created panic and pandemonium. The Minister now had a battalion of bodyguards surrounding him, and had demoted several key officials. With all this confusion, they were looking for a fall guy, and they had found him. Draco Malfoy. The Ministry knew that the public would never accept him as a hero. His last name was too infamous a one for anyone to believe that he was a good guy. Therefore, instead of doing what’s right, they were choosing the easy way out, and protecting themselves.
They were accusing him of being a traitor, and had scheduled a farce of a trial for the day after. He had repeatedly tried to contact the minister, but could not reach him. The Ministry was being bull headed and stubborn – like they had been in his 5th year. William Fudge was behaving no better than his father had. And everyone knew what had happened to his father.
He replied, his voice embittered “Malfoy is the Ministry’s fall guy. They are accusing him so that the public’s faith in them is restored. If it seems like the ministry has found a culprit, no one will demand the removal of Fudge. In order not to spread panic, the Ministry has kept the role of Bellatrix quiet. As far as everyone is concerned, she is still dead. I’ve been writing letters to the minister everyday, but the only thing I received was a letter from his secretary saying that he has taken a vacation in light of the ordeal he has suffered recently. In order to placate me, they sent me an Order of the Merlin as a bribe.”
Hermione was disgusted. This was almost as bad as when the Ministry tried to hush up Voldemort rebirth. And now because of them, an innocent man is going to Azkaban.
“We have to do something,” Hermione said. “Draco saved our lives in the Manor.”
Harry nodded. “I agree, but what do we do? I don’t know where the trial will be held, and even if I did, the Wizengamot will not listen to us. They are in the palm of Fudge’s hands.”
Hermione’s mind whirred. She had to come up with a perfect plan to save Draco’s life and make sure the Ministry could do nothing about it. It looked like it was time to track down old acquaintances.
I’m so sorry that after making you wait for so long I’m only giving you a filler chapter :(
The next chapter is being written as you read this…
But please tell me what you think about the story so far
Who do you think she’s going to track down?
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I’ve almost crossed 1,500 reads!
Thank you so much guys!
I never expected this kind of response from you!
And now that I’m back, expect faster updates :)
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