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Better Than I Know Myself by rj_sunshine
Chapter 25 : Secrets And Lies
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 8


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     For the second night in a row, Draco and Hermione slept in the Room of Requirement together and almost treated it as if it were their own dormitory. After staying up for most of the night and having a deep sleep because of this, Hermione felt as though she never wanted to wake. Staying in Draco’s arms forever would suit her just fine if it were the only thing she could ever do, but alas, the school bell beckoned them once more.

 Draco rolled over and sat up. Hermione faced him.

 “Morning, beautiful,” he said.

She smiled. “Morning.”

   Draco stood up and stretched and then flung his hands over his ears as the bell sounded again. “That’s the third time this morning,” he muttered angrily.

 Hermione froze. “The … the third time?”

 “Yes…”

  “And what day is it?”
 

  “Monday.”

“WE’VE MISSED OUR FIRST CLASS! WE’VE MISSED POTIONS!” Hermione scrambled off the bed and it immediately disappeared.

“And why are you complaining about that? Who cares if we have one less hour with Snape?”

“I care because I want to pass my Potions O.W.L this year and I also care that we’re missing Transfiguration as we speak!”

Draco shook his head and tried not to laugh at her as she ran to the door and pulled it open.

“I’ll see you there then,” he muttered as she disappeared.

Hermione ran to the Gryffindor Common Room and found Ginny and other fourth years in the common room, milling about as though they had nothing to do.

“Hermione,” Ginny called from the fireplace. “Where were you -?”

“Later,” Hermione called as she ran to her room. She quickly showered, brushed her teeth, changed into her uniform, grabbed her books, homework, parchment, ink, quills, wand, brushed her hair, pulled on her shoes and ran back down into the common room.

“Hermione, why are you -?” Ginny began.

“I’ll tell you later,” Hermione retorted agitatedly. She jumped out of the common room portrait hole and ran all the way down to Professor McGonagall’s classroom.

After tapping on the door quietly, she strode in saying, “Sorry, I’m late Professor McGonagall.’

  Her professor looked over her spectacles at her and said, “And your reason for that is…?”

“Erm … I had to return some books to the library and there was a lot of people in there.”

“And that couldn’t wait until after my class?”

“Sorry, I thought there would be time.”

McGonagall raised an eyebrow and said, “Don’t let it happen again.”

“Yes, Professor.” Hermione joined Harry and Ron who were practising a spell on a pile of school books.

“It’s very unlike you to be late to class, Hermione,” Ron said with a grin.

“Is it?” she said as she pulled out her textbook and her wand and pulled off her cloak.

“You know it is.”

Hermione shrugged.

“Where were you?” Harry asked as he stared annoyed at his wand which seemed to be failing him yet again.

“Nowhere,” she muttered.

Suddenly Ron’s face showed a sordid realisation. “You were with him, weren’t you?” he asked, mouth ready to fall open.

“That’s none of your business,” Hermione replied.

    Harry looked between Ron and Hermione wondering whether it was his fault that Ron had lost his chance with Hermione. He sighed and then cast his thoughts towards Ginny and Parvati and every other girl who seemed to like him at Hogwarts …

“He’s not good for you, Hermione,” Ron said while shaking his head. “I’m telling you.”

“Tell me something else, then. Something that makes sense.”

“It does make sense!” Ron lowered his tone. “He’s evil.”

Hermione slammed her wand down and in the process knocked over their stack of books. Professor McGonagall looked over at them sternly.

Harry went to collect the books from the floor to take himself out of their argument.

“Evil? Evil? Who was it sitting at my bedside when I was Petrified? Who looked for me during that mess at the World Cup? Because it certainly wasn’t you!”

  On that note, even Harry had to wince at the look on Ron’s face; he was upset, but even more than that, he was angry. Most people in the class were listening, Harry could tell, they just pretended to be practising spells.

“No it wasn’t me, Hermione. But who was it calling you a Mudblood? Who was it ruining your relationship with Cedric? Not me - him.”

  When Hermione was ready to retort, the door to the classroom fell open and Draco slipped in with his wand in his hand and a book under his arm.

“Mr Malfoy,” Professor McGonagall said after looking briefly at Ron and Hermione.

“Nice of you to join us just ten minutes before class concludes.”

“Sorry, Professor. It shan’t happen again.”

  Draco looked over to Hermione who had folded her arms angrily at sat down in Harry’s seat - the one furthest away from Ron. Harry sat between them and did not say another word until the class ended.

Upon the bell ringing, Hermione packed up her books and rushed out of the classroom. Harry caught up with her. “He didn’t meant it, Hermione.”

“Whatever, Harry. See you later.” He fell back to wait for Ron. Hermione continued down the busy corridor only for Draco to follow and put his arm over her shoulder.

“What are you doing?” she whispered to him as they weaved through the other students who fell out of nearby classrooms. She pushed him arm away stealthily.

“Asking you what’s wrong. So … what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she muttered with a hint of a lie as she strutted past a group of first years.

“You look upset. Was it Weasley?”

“It’s always Weasley,” Hermione said sternly. “You should go.”

“Yeah … go and show him the underside of my foot. I’ll kill him.”

“No,” Hermione turned around to stop him in his tracks. Over his shoulder, she made out Harry and Ron walking in their direction towards the Gryffindor Common Room.

“Go to your common room. They don’t know we’re together.”

“So?”

“So … they’re my friends and it might make them uncomfortable.”

“I’m your best friend, though,” Draco said raising an eyebrow, annoyed at her completely forgetting about that fact. “They know that.”

“Recently you haven’t given them much reason to think you’re a nice person.”

“Who cares what they think?”

“I do, Draco.” Hermione smiled at him. “I’ll see you at dinner.”

“Will you?” he asked stubbornly.

She laughed. “I better. I love you,” she added quietly.

“I love you too.”

Biting her lip, she breathed. “You know, it gives me butterflies whenever you say - Umbridge!”

“Huh?”

Umbridge! Hermione ducked and disappeared into the crowd of students and Draco turned to see the pink-clad, black-hearted Professor marching down the corridor. She caught his eye and made her way over, a fake smile plastered across her cheeks.

“Mr Malfoy, good to see you.”

“Likewise,” he forced out bitterly. “Considering …”

“Considering what?” she said with a touch of anger.

“Professor, don’t make me remind you what you did to Hermione Granger during her latest detention.”

“Mind your tongue, Mr Malfoy,” she said, her hand touching on her wand. “You wouldn’t want me to take away your Prefect status as well as your place in the Inquisitorial Squad.”

“So take them. Haven’t done me any good since I got here.”

“That’s just what you want, isn’t it? That precisely being the reason that I will keep you in my Squad. Why, I hear you ask. Because I know you know who is fronting the illegal student group.”

“What’s so illegal about study groups?” Draco said boldly as Harry and Ron passed him.

“You and I both know that this is no study group,” Umbridge said through gritted teeth.

“And you and I both know that what you do in detentions is illegal.”

“Don’t test me, Mr Malfoy,” she said softly.

“We both know it’s something to do with Potter. Why don’t you just torture him instead?” Draco turned on his heel and made his way to his common room leaving Professor Umbridge as pink in the face as her outfit.
 

    Hermione collapsed onto her bed as Ginny settled herself on the window sill. The dormitory was empty besides the two of them and Ginny eagerly awaited news from Hermione.

“So?”

“So,” Hermione muttered. “So …”

“Stop playing with me, Hermione,” Ginny begged. “Did he or did he not -?”

“What?”

“You know …” Ginny trailed off.

Hermione squinted her eyes at her friend. “If you mean him declaring his undying feelings for me … then … yes.”

Ginny leapt from the window and hugged Hermione tight, both squealing and both laughing. A tear fell from Ginny’s eye.

“Why are you crying?” Hermione asked.

“It’s taken so bloody long … I’m so happy for you …”

Hermione stopped smiling. “But … what about Harry?”

Ginny shrugged. “He’s got Parvati now.” She looked over to Parvati’s bed in the corner of the room.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Ginny. He … he just needs time …”

“Time to choose her. They’ve been friends since they were eleven.”

“So? He knows you better. Your Ron’s sister.”

Ginny frowned. “I noticed there you had a particularly bitter look on your face when you mentioned my brother’s name.”

“Because I hate him sometimes, Ginny! He has no room in his heart for compromise. He hates Draco and I don’t think I can be his friend while he still does. I mean, even Harry has come to terms with Draco. He doesn’t like him but he gets that I love him and that he loves me. And that’s all I’m asking for! A little bit of respect for my wishes. Is that too much to ask?!”

Hermione sat down and ran her fingers through her hair.

“Breathe, Hermione.” Ginny sat beside her. “It’s obvious, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“Ron still likes you. He always has, Hermione. He’s protective over you because he likes you. Even after you kissed last year, he hasn’t been able to get over you.”

“But I don’t …”

“I know,” Ginny said. “Sometimes people just don’t like the person who likes them.”

“Harry does like you, Ginny,” Hermione reassured. “He just needs to realise it himself. He enjoyed the time you shared in the DA meetings, didn’t he?”

“Yeah … that was until -”

Parvati and Lavender strolled into the dormitory hands laden with books and the temperature in the room fell by a few degrees as soon as Ginny and Parvati laid eyes on one another.

“Come on, Lavender,” Parvati said.

“I’m not leaving,” Lavender replied as she balanced six books.

“Excuse me,” Ginny muttered to Hermione before she exited. Hermione grabbed a pink cardigan and followed Ginny out.

“Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Like you said, I just need to give him time to realise and hope he doesn’t choose her.”

“Positive thinking,” Hermione said with a smile. They linked arms and passed through the common room and made their way down to the Great Hall for their evening meal.

As they passed Peeves on the second floor, Ginny asked Hermione a question: “So do Harry and Ron know that you and Draco are official?”

“I don’t even know if we are. Relationships are banned by Umbridge now, aren’t they? I’m keeping everything quiet.”

“So if Harry and Ron ask me anything …?”

“You say no.”

“I can’t lie to my own brother.”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t done it before.” Hermione smirked.
 

   Draco exited the Slytherin Common Room alone in his uniform contemplating the so-called student conspiracy group with plans to overthrow the Ministry of Magic. Potter and his friends were part of it, which meant that Hermione was too and he didn’t want her to get into any trouble. But why would they want to overthrow the Ministry? He knew Fudge was bad, but what could students do? He couldn’t imagine that a bunch of teenagers had any control over that kind of thing.

    After passing through the Bloody Baron, Draco shook his blond hair from his eyes and spotted a certain bushy haired witch walking towards the Great Hall.

“Hermione!”

Her eyes went wide and she and Ginny Weasley stopped in their tracks.

“What are you doing?” She hissed across the hall at him. Hermione was becoming paranoid. Too paranoid.

“I mean … erm … Granger!”

“I’ll save you a seat,” Ginny said as she went into the Hall and joined the Gryffindor Table.

Hermione folded her arms and looked around. “Make it quick.”

“I ... erm … what do you know about a student group …?” Hermione raised her eyebrows. “A secret one that certain Professors don’t know about …?”

“How do you know about that?”

He shrugged. “Gossip.”

“Harry and the rest of us use the Room of Requirement to practise our magic. I should have told you sooner.”

“No worries,” he smiled. “Do I get a kiss?”

“And why would I do that, Slytherin?” she smirked.

He laughed. “You’ve been hanging around me too long, Gryffindor.”

Hermione looked down at her shoes. “About earlier … Umbridge is out to get couples at Hogwarts … and she already hates me … I just don’t want another detention …”

“I understand, Hermione. Blaise and his girlfriend Astoria had one this week. She found them kissing each other in an empty classroom.”

“Hence the reason why we use the Come-And-Go Room,” Hermione said smartly. “But whenever we aren’t there … maybe we could keep this quiet?”

“Fine,” Draco said unwillingly.

“Hungry?” Hermione asked after looking around.

“Starving.” Draco walked into the Great Hall after Hermione and strode left to the Slytherin Table while she found her seat beside Ginny.

    She grabbed a plate and as she ate a slice of quiche, Hermione suddenly had an epiphany. After waiting for Ginny to finish her conversation with Dean and Seamus, Hermione asked quietly, “Do you think I should ask him to join? Draco? We do need another member.”

“The DA?” Ginny asked. Hermione nodded. “I’m not sure many people would be happy. He’s a Slytherin.”

“And my best friend.”

“I don’t know …”

Hermione dropped her point when Harry and Ron joined them at the table for pudding.

“Hi, Harry,” Ginny said smiling.

“Hey, you two,” Harry said. Hermione smiled at him. “Ready for another DA meeting tomorrow evening?”

“As ever,” Ginny replied enthusiastically.

   As much as Hermione liked to bask in their cuteness, she excused herself from the table to save herself from the evil glare from Ron and also to catch Draco as he was leaving. Even if Ginny was against her ideas, she could ask.

“Couldn’t stand to be away from me for too long?” he asked as he kissed her cheek and pushed her to the corner of the corridor. Hermione rolled her eyes and grinned involuntarily.

“Draco …”

“I was thinking that we go to the Room tomorrow night … it’s been too long.”

“We were there this morning and the day before that. Besides, I can’t. We have a meeting there.”

“Right,” Draco said as he made his way into the dungeons. Hermione followed him.

“And I want you to come along.”

“Wait, what?” Draco stopped walking and stared at Hermione as though she was mad.

“I want you to come. Join the DA.”

“And what the hell does that stand for?”

“Dumbledore’s Army.”

“I thought you said Potter started this.”

“It’s just a name, Draco. So will you?”

He rubbed his chin nervously. “I … I don’t know. I’ll be the only Slytherin, won’t I?”

She nodded. “But I’ll be there.”

“And you’ll save me from the dozen curses sent at me, will you?” he asked sceptically. “I don’t think so.”

“Please. For me.”

“I’ll think about it,” he said. “Will you stop pestering me now?”

“Of course. See you later.” Hermione skipped off to her common room with a smile on her face. Everything was getting better. As soon as Harry and Ron learned to like Draco and Umbridge left Hogwarts, everything would be perfect.
 

     Draco paced the seventh floor common room the next day, knowing that Hermione and a dozen or so others were on the other side of the wall doing God knows what. He should have asked more questions. What were they specifically doing in there? Just casting spells? Hermione didn’t really give him any details … What if the things they were doing was dangerous? Did Umbridge have a point? But Hermione wasn’t so stupid as to contest the Ministry … But then again, she was breaking the school rules and she would never ordinarily do that …

    Umbridge had pestered him again that day asking him about what he knew and he denied everything. Even though he knew the location of the meeting, he did not budge. If he was ever going to give up the location, it wouldn’t be while Hermione was inside. He wasn’t that stupid. He didn’t want to lose her again because that’s happened enough times.

    The door materialised onto the wall for one moment and as soon Draco thought about Umbridge, it disappeared again. How could he walk in there anyway? Everybody hated him. Everyone except Hermione and possibly the Weasley girl. He was afraid that he wouldn’t be accepted. People thought that Draco was fearless but he was terrified. Staring up at the wall, his stomach turned and his legs felt like jelly. Closing his eyes, he turned and walked away from the seventh floor.
 

    Hermione sat with Ginny while she flicked through a Defence book in the Room. Hermione was slightly agitated with Draco not being there.

“Is he coming?”

“I told you, he is. He said so earlier today.”

“Hermione, I thought you said you found us some more members,” Harry called from the other side of the room. “The meeting’s nearly over.”

“They’ll be here,” she yelled, getting quite annoyed at everybody questioning her. She had refrained from mentioning that the ‘member’ was Draco to save the arguments.

“Sure,” Ginny muttered.

“And what does that mean?”

“It means Draco might not turn up. And I don’t blame him. This is quite intimidating.”

“Draco Malfoy does not get intimidated,” Hermione stated surely.

Ginny raised her eyebrows. “Okay …” She got up to practice the Reductor Curse with Neville in the corner of the room, bypassing Harry - who was in the middle of a conversation with Parvati.

“What Padma said was true, Harry,” Parvati said shyly.

“I … erm … gathered that much …” Harry cast his Patronus to keep him busy as well as distract him.

“That’s a gorgeous Patronus,” she said. Ginny moved a fraction closer to practise with Luna.

“Thanks. Have you practised yours?”

“Not really.” The Stag stopped beside them and disappeared as Harry put his hand through it. “Do you like Ginny Weasley?”

  Harry sighed and finally looked at Parvati. “I think so.”

  She looked very unhappy. “Just like you liked Cho Chang?”

 He smiled. “No … it’s different to that, Parvati.”

“Oh …”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, Harry. I tried. And most girls never tell the boys they like how they feel. Ever.”

“Really?” Harry muttered hoping for the conversation to end soon.

“Do you want to know a secret?”

“Go on,” Harry said, unsure.

“Lavender is in love with Ron. But you didn’t hear it from me.”

“Of course not.” Harry glanced over to Ron who was sitting grumpily by the bookshelf looking over at Hermione while Lavender watched him from the corner of her eye. It was quite obvious.

“I’m not going to say that I’m happy that you don’t like me, but there’s no changing your mind … is there?”

 Harry laughed and she joined in. “I’m afraid not. Friends?”

“Definitely,” Parvati said. “You weren’t going to wriggle out of that one too.” She gave him a friendly hug - which he reciprocated, much to the dismay of Ginny. She forgot to block the Stun Charm Luna fired at her and went flying across the room and onto the floor.

  Harry rushed over as Ginny lay silently. She had a cut on her forehead that was bleeding and he used his shirt to clean it up.

“What the hell happened?” Ron asked.

“She forgot to block the spell,” Luna said quietly, eyes wide with fear.

“It had to be you …” Ron muttered.

“Leave her alone, Ron,” Hermione defended. “It was an accident.”

“Yes,” Luna clarified. “She wasn’t paying attention. She was watching Harry with Parvati.”

“So you shoot a spell at her while she’s not focused?” Ron yelled back. “I thought you were supposed to be a Ravenclaw!”

“Just because Hermione doesn’t like you, it doesn’t mean that you have to take it out on me,” Luna retorted angrily.

 Ron fell silent and Hermione looked away.

“Ginny,” Harry whispered as she opened her eyes.

“Harry.” She sat up, embarrassed, but fell back down again as her vision blurred and she swayed. Harry caught her and lifted her back up again slowly. “I should really work on my Shield Charm.”

“You couldn’t help it that you were watching me,” Harry said.

  Hermione took this as her cue to leave and glanced at Ron and Luna so that they would leave too. No matter how annoyed Ron was at Harry serenading his baby sister, he left them alone anyway.

“I wasn’t -” Ginny began.

“I rejected her, just in case you wanted to know.”

“Good for you,” she replied nonchalantly.

Harry frowned slightly. “I thought you’d be happy.”

“Really?”

“Do you want to … be my girlfriend?” Harry held his breath and closed one eye as he asked her. He wasn’t very good at relationship things anyway. Especially not since his relationship with Cho went up in flames.

Ginny nodded. “Yes.”

She moved forward and gave him a warm hug, his fingers stroking her hair. Seeing as a Room full of students was not the perfect place to start up their relationship, Harry helped her up and moved away slowly to continue his teaching of the other students.

“Did that just happen?” Ginny said airily to Ron, Hermione and Luna.

“He asked you out,” Hermione confirmed with a smile.

“What?” Ron said.

“You knew it was coming,” Hermione muttered.

“Yeah, but … he didn’t tell me …”

“These things aren’t planned you know,” Hermione replied. “He must have felt it was the right time.”

“Sorry, Ginny,” Luna said.

“It was my fault. I’m glad it happened. If it wasn’t for your spell I wouldn’t be going out with the most desirable wizard in the castle.”

“So you’re going out with him because other people want him?” Ron asked, wanting to find a flaw in their relationship.

“I’m going out with him because I want him. Happy?”

“Not particularly.”

“You don’t have to be,” Ginny shot back.

George joined their conversation to ask his sister about what had happened. “You okay?”

“I’ll live.”

“You took quite a fall,” he said.

“She’s going out with Harry,” Ron told his brother.

“At least one of us is happy …” George said moodily.

“What?” Ron asked while Ginny and Hermione looked at each other.

“Nothing,” George said. “Now Ginny’s happy with Harry, and Fred … Well, it’s just you and me little bro.” He put his arm around Ron. “Got your eye on anyone?”

Ron gulped. “No.”

“Why don’t you go out with Luna? She’s single.”

Ron turned beetroot red as Luna said, “I’m not his type.”

“How do you know?” George asked. “Has he said so?”

“He doesn’t have to,” Luna replied promptly. “I think I’ll go and read now.” She drifted away to the bookcase and sat with the first book she laid her hands on.

“If I didn’t know better,” George began. “I’d say she liked you.”

“I agree,” Hermione and Ginny said.

“What have you got to lose?” George asked while grasping Ron’s shoulders.

“Would you stop trying to match-make and sort out your own problems?”

“They don’t seem to want to be sorted, Ron. And so I’ll just nose around your love life seeing as mine stinks.”

Ron frowned. “This seems serious. What’s happened? Never seen you this weird in years.”

“What’s weird about me wanting to know about my brother’s life?” George asked.

“Just that. Since I’ve come to Hogwarts we never usually chat about this kind of stuff.”

“You mean love?”

“Yeah. And since when were you in love?”

“I-I’m not,” George stuttered.

“Sure. And why don’t you just talk to Fred?”

“Because Fred’s a -” George began angrily through gritted teeth.

“OKAY …!” Ginny interrupted. “Why don’t we all get back to practising?” She dragged George away and they began casting spells together.

“What was all that about?” Ron asked Hermione, forgetting that he was mad at her.

“Short story? Fred’s dating Angelina but George loves her.”

“Wow.”

“I know.” Hermione looked down at her watch. Draco should have been there an hour ago.

“Do you have somewhere to be?” Ron asked rudely.

Hermione shook her head at him and sighed angrily. “No, Ronald, I don’t. But if you have a problem with Draco being my best friend then -”

“So he’s not your boyfriend?” he asked, confused.

“No …” she lied. “He and I -”

“EVERYBODY STOP!” Harry yelled.

The entire room went quiet. No spells were fired. No one moved.

   After a moment, Hermione ran over to Harry and Luna who were looking over the Marauders Map. Umbridge was heading to the seventh floor with members of the Inquisitorial Squad.

“We don’t know that they’re coming here,” Ron said.

“Don’t be stupid, of course they are,” Hermione said. “EVERYBODY LEAVE!” she yelled.

“No, WAIT!” Harry said as people ran out of the doors. “Go to toilets, or the library if you can’t get to your common rooms. Hurry!”

“Do you have your cloak?” Ron asked Harry.

“No.”

“Great!” he replied sarcastically.

“Let’s just get out of here,” Ginny spluttered.

  They went over to the door, but Hermione said, “She won’t know how to get in unless she knows what we’re in here for. Why don’t we just stay?”

“Because she’ll just ask the Room for where the students are hiding! Move, Hermione!” Harry ordered.

   They slipped out of the door after Ron, Ginny, Luna, Neville and Parvati. Harry, Ron and Hermione huddled into a small group and went to the left while the others went right, where eventually Luna would exit down the staircase.

“Are we clear?” Ron asked as Harry looked at the map.

“Not quite.” Umbridge stood at the end of the corridor and with a whip of her wand, they were all rendered silent. Harry shoved the map into his pocket. “Follow me.”
Umbridge walked extremely slowly to her office, a smile on her face. From behind them, Filch and Mrs Norris caught up with them and he handed her the parchment Hermione had stuck to the wall of the Room of Requirement.

“Dumbledore’s Army?” Umbridge smiled. “Not for long.”

  Upon entering the office, Hermione saw Draco sitting at the desk. When he saw her, he closed his eyes and he slumped in the chair. He rubbed his face with his hands solemnly.

“I hope you don’t mind, Mr Malfoy,” Umbridge said while members of the Inquisitorial Squad led Ginny, Luna, Neville and Parvati into the room. Umbridge sat at her desk while the number of students squeezed into the room.

“Not at all, Professor,” Draco said.

Hermione frowned at him. He was unbelievable. What was he doing?

“I was asked to resign this afternoon by the Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt,” Umbridge revealed to the group of teenagers. “Apparently somebody had let slip about my modes of punishment.” Hermione looked at Ginny. “I refused. I will not move from the very spot until I uncover this whole thing, this … army of Dumbledore’s …”

“There is no army,” Harry said.

“Be quiet, boy. I am not blind. This parchment says that such a group exists.” She held in between her fingers then looked down at the names. “Quite a group you’ve gathered. I will give you all one chance to - what - what’s wrong with him?”

 Harry had fallen to the ground, eyes closed, a sweat forming on his brow, muttering about Sirius …

Hermione fell to his side. “Harry …”

“What is he saying?” Umbridge called.

“Nothing,” Hermione replied.

“Don’t lie to me,” Umbridge ordered.

“I’m not lying.”

Eventually Harry came around and whispered to Hermione, “We need to leave.”

“What was that, Mr Potter?” Umbridge asked politely. Nobody said anything. “Take their wands from them,” Umbridge said to her Squad. “You too, Mr Malfoy. Now.”

  Draco had been silently thinking throughout the entire exchange. Slowly, he stood from his seat and took away Ron’s and Hermione’s wands.

“What the hell are you doing?” Hermione spat at him as she finally surrendered her wand.

“Restrain them,” Umbridge said as she placed the wands on the desk.

 Draco stood behind Hermione and placed his arm across her shoulders and grasped her wrist. She tried to shake him off but he was too strong.

“Get off me,” she said struggling. “What are you doing?”

“I told you, you can’t trust him,” Ron said from beside the window.

“Quiet,” Umbridge announced. “Now come here, Mr Potter.”

She grinned a sickly sweet smile while she held out her hand.

  Harry hobbled over to the chair while Umbridge circled him in a vulture-like fashion.

 When she finally spoke, it was only to say, “Professor Snape should have some Veritaserum in his store-cupboard.”

Ron and Ginny stared at each other and then at Harry.

“You can’t do that!” Ginny shouted. “Professor Dumbledore won’t allow it.”

“Did I fail to mention that your precious Professor Dumbledore is off school premises tonight?” Umbridge said. “And if all goes to plan, he shall never be returning.”

“What?” Harry spluttered.

Umbridge turned to the door. “I am going to find Professor Snape. Keep them quiet while I’m gone,” she said to the seven members of the Inquisitorial Squad.

   And then she left, locking the door behind her.

 Harry stared menacingly at Goyle, who was standing beside him, pointing his wand.

Ron instantly turned on Draco.

“I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing, but -”

“Well why don’t you ask instead of - ?” Draco retorted.

“Hermione deserves better than you,” Ron spat.

“We’re not even together,” Hermione tried desperately.

“Maybe she does,” Draco said. “But this is me. Deal with it.”

Hermione shook her head while he held her still, choosing not to say a word.

Ron scoffed.

“Padfoot’s in trouble,” Harry said to his friends. “We need to go. Now.”

“Well, we can’t,” Ron said with the tone of a pessimist. “No thanks to him.” He motioned towards Draco.

“Contrary to popular belief, I did not tell Umbridge anything.”

“I didn’t think you did,” Ron said. “Until now.”

“Did you?” Hermione asked Draco quietly.

“No,” he said honestly into her ear. “She seemed to have an idea about it anyway.”

“So why were you here when I asked you to come to the Room?”

“You told him, Hermione?” Ron shouted.

“I came to find out what she knew. She told me she was having you all followed for weeks.”

“By you,” Ron gathered.

“No.”

“So why were you asking me about the DA? Just before dinner,” Hermione said, the possibility of his betrayal dawning on her.

“Because I was curious. It had nothing to do with Umbridge.”

“Can you please stop arguing?” Harry shouted. Goyle shoved his wand further into Harry’s face.

“Umbridge will be back soon,” Parvati stressed.

Neville nodded. “If we’re going to leave, we need to go now.”

“You aren’t going anywhere,” Millicent Bulstrode boomed from behind Luna.

  Gathering her courage, Luna lifted her foot and stamped it onto Millicent’s. Everyone turned towards her as she howled, while Draco let go of Hermione.

“Get down,” he told her.

  He pointed his wand at the pink chandelier hanging from the ceiling and within the next second the whole room was in darkness.

  Hermione heard the clatter of wands on the ground as she hid her face. Someone stood on her arm as she withdrew it into her body. All Hermione could see was flashing lights coming from what she guessed as Draco’s wand. She reached out and grabbed one of the wands on the ground beside her and hissed, “Lumos” but the light flickered; it must not have been her wand. But as she looked up, she glimpsed bodies on the ground, Draco stunning Crabbe and as the light from the wand disappeared, she witnessed Ginny shoot a spell at Goyle as Harry dived out of the way.

 There was a cough from the corner of the room and lights from three wands illuminated the room; it was Neville, Parvati and Draco.

Draco helped Hermione up.

“Is this yours Ron?” Hermione asked holding out the wand.

“No.” Ron was already holding his and so Luna came forward to take it.

  Hermione stared at the Stunned bodies of the Slytherins. And then she looked at Draco. “Was this part of your plan?”

Draco shrugged and held out her wand. “I just winged it.”

She took the wand. “Thanks.”

“Why don’t you check the fireplace?” Ginny suggested and while the others gathered themselves, Harry was kneeling before the bright green flames of the fire.

Draco looked at Ron. “Believe me now?”

“No,” Ron said.

Neville and Luna were working on opening the door.

 Hermione marched over and opened her mouth to speak, but before she could, Neville said, “Before you ask, we’ve already tried Alohomora.”

She sighed. “Now what?” she asked Harry as he stood up from the grate.

“Sirius isn’t at Grimmauld Place.”

Ginny whispered, “We could go out of the window.”

They all went over to look at the drop.

“That’s got to be at least four hundred feet,” Harry estimated.

“Not if we go across, and then …” Neville shared his idea about how to get down. “… and then we drop onto the Greenhouse wall.”

“That’s excellent, in theory, Neville,” Harry muttered nervously as he gazed at the black sky. “It is pitch black out there and then we have no idea how to get to London.”

And that was when Luna’s genius idea of using thestrals came into play.

“No way,” Draco said. “Over my dead body.”

“Who said you were coming?” Ron said vehemently.

“Hermione’s not jumping out of a window to her death and then onto a thestrals to the other side of the country.”

“You don’t have a say,” Hermione whispered.

“And you’re going to trust Longbottom?”

“I’m going to trust my friends.”

“I’m your friend,” Draco pleaded. “I just -” He looked at the other five people in the room. He turned his back on them and whispered, “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I won’t,” she promised. “Sirius needs our help.”

“He’s actually part of my family,” Draco said.

“And he’s Harry’s godfather. We have to go. Now.” Hermione watched as Harry, Ron, Ginny, Luna, Neville and Parvati lit their wands.

Suddenly, the door handle rattled. Umbridge was back.

Draco held out his wand and pushed the door closed on Umbridge. She banged on the door. “What’s going on?!” she yelled continuously.

Draco closed his eyes as he held out wand against Umbridge. “Go.”

Harry held his wand between his teeth and climbed out. The others did the same and began scaling the castle wall.

Hermione was to be the last one out, but as she held onto the edge of the window, she turned back to Draco, who was looking hopeless.

She ran across the room and gave him a tight and loving hug, his arm still out.

“I’ll be fine,” she told him. Instantly, she kissed him, throwing her arms around his neck, leaving him breathless.

“Yeah? So why did you kiss me like that?” Hermione smiled weakly. “Go into my pocket.”

“What?” she asked.

“My back pocket. There’s a hand …”

Hermione withdrew her fingers. “A hand?”

“My Hand of Glory. Take it.”

 Hermione pulled out the shrivelled Hand - it looked so withdrawn and lifeless in a tiny fist shape.

“It will -” Draco tried to explain.

“Give me light,” Hermione finished. “This is Dark Magic, Draco …” She fingered it nervously.

  He looked at the door. “Take it. Please. Just in case.” Draco let his hair fall over his eyes. “You better go.” She put it into her pocket.

  The door blew open as Umbridge’s Bombardment Charm hit it. Draco rushed Hermione over to the window as bits of chipped wood and smoke blew everywhere and she climbed out, the Hand guiding her through the darkness.

  Instantly, Draco laid on the ground as though Stunned because there was no way that he was taking the blame for this; he would rather reserve that place for his dear friend Weasley.




 

A/N: I hope you liked the long-awaited chapter. I always try to miss out the main events in this fic which the reader can obviously pick up from JKR’s books. The next chapter will resume after the Battle in the Department of Mysteries and will be entitled ‘Summer With The Grangers’ where Draco will be meeting some of Hermione’s family. Thanks to all who have reviewed and favourited this story xxx


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