Hermione woke up completely buried under Harry and Ron. She laughed to herself and began poking the both of them in the sides in order to wake them. Ron didn’t move, naturally, but Harry slowly stirred to a wake and rubbed his eyes.
“Wha’ timeisit?” Harry mumbled, and Hermione rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know, but would you mind getting her elbow out of my chest? Bit of a sensitive area, you know.”
“Oh! Sorry, ‘Mione,”
Harry shifted his body so that Hermione could have a bit more space. With the room she sat up in bed, looked over at Ron and scoffed. Half off the bed as he was during the night… It was definitely his favorite sleeping position. Bad for his back, absolutely, but his favorite nonetheless.
“How are you feeling?”
Hermione turned to Harry and shrugged her shoulders. “Incredibly stupid,”
“Oh come on. You were just following your instincts-”
“Instincts that blew the lid off of a Ministry operation that could’ve put Ethan Iverson in Azkaban.” Hermione sighed and pulled her feet up to her chest. “The Ministry will never get an opportunity like that again.”
“…Maybe not… But they will find him. Sooner or later they will.” Harry reassured her and Hermione took his word for it. It wasn’t like she had a choice anyway.
Fifteen minutes later Ron woke up and joined the conversation. A half an hour after that Aurors entered the hospital room and said that Hermione had to go with them immediately. She exchanged looks with Harry and Ron before heading over to them and asking if her friends could come along. Unfortunately they said that they couldn’t and Hermione produced a frowned.
“I’ll Owl you.” She said to them, and Harry and Ron nodded before she was apparated away. Where Hermione had been taken was not exactly where she had been expecting. In fact she didn’t know where she was at all. As she was being led down a corridor with beige walls and brown carpeting, she turned to one of the Aurors and asked where they were.
“You’ll find out soon enough.” He answered her, his expression grim. All of a sudden horrible thoughts began to run through Hermione’s head. She was bringing up the possibility that the Aurors who were walking alongside her weren’t really Aurors at all. What if they were really two of Iverson’s followers taking her right to him? It wouldn’t have been too hard for them to find her, now would it? It would be obvious that the first place she would be taken to was St. Mungo’s. How hard would it be, really, to take her from a hospital with them looking so professional?
However, Hermione’s paranoid though justified rant was halted when one of the Aurors pushed open a door. Inside of the office was a man with very strong and defined facial features sitting in a large chair behind a large mahogany desk. In front of that desk were two chairs, one already occupied by Draco who wasn’t even bothering to hide his revulsion of her.
“Ah, there you are.” The man behind the desk smiled. “Have a seat. That’ll be all gentlemen, thank you.”
Hermione stepped inside of the office as the two Aurors retreated back down the hallway they had just come from. She closed the door behind her and hesitantly made her way to the only free chair left in the room.
“Have a good rest then after that whole ordeal, Miss Granger?”
“…Somewhat. St. Mungo’s beds aren’t really all that comfortable.”
“No, they aren’t are they?” The man laughed and nodded. “I should know, having spent a few unwanted nights there myself. But enough about that… My name is Samuel Hinds. I’m sure the two of you don’t need to introduce yourselves.”
Hinds had gestured to Hermione and Draco. They gave each other brief eye contact and then looked away. No, introductions between the two of them were highly unnecessary.
“Well, as you can imagine, your escape from Iverson the evening before thoroughly infuriated him. He has a bit of an…ego, if you will, and won’t forget about either one of you so easily. Especially you, Mr. Malfoy,”
Draco nodded in understanding and Hermione sunk deeper into her chair, guilt filling her up incredibly.
“The Minister’s informed me that you’ve been undercover for the past six months.” Hinds addressed Draco. “That’s quite impressive.”
“’Wasn’t that hard.” Draco said in what anyone would consider a smug fashion. He gave Hermione a quick look over and produced a small scowl. “Being who I am, Iverson came to trust me easily. Would’ve taken him in yesterday if we hadn’t been…disrupted,”
“Yes well, because you were, Iverson will do anything to find you.” Hinds frowned and began rummaging through his desk drawers and pulled out a folder. “You’ve learned a lot about Iverson these past few months Mr. Malfoy. You’re a walking treasure and you must be hidden. The both of you will be placed into witness protection until your safety can be guaranteed.”
Hermione, who had been trying to look as small as she felt, suddenly perked up. She rose in her chair and produced a confused face. “I’m sorry Mr. Hinds, but the both of us? I don’t understand why I have to be hidden as well.”
“Mr. Malfoy saved you from Iverson, Miss Granger. Iverson will assume that the two of you were in on this together, meaning that whatever Mr. Malfoy has seen and encountered, it’s possible that he told you as well. Because of that your life is in danger too.”
So that’s why Harry and Ron couldn’t come with me… Hermione thought in her head and then became incredibly sorrowful because this meant that she wouldn’t be able to see or contact them for only Merlin knew how long. Weeks? Months? Years? She shuddered at the thought and watched as Mr. Hinds open the folder he had previously taken out and something to write with.
“Once you leave here, you’ll both be relocated into your new, but of course temporary, lives. From this day forward until further notice you’ll both be sharing a small house in the countryside, Delamere; very few neighbors with a few quiet towns that aren’t too far away. Your new names are Nicolette and Ian Groves and you’re-”
“Married,” Hermione finished for him. She quietly squirmed in her chair and could see Draco doing the same. “You’re going to say that we’re married, aren’t you?”
“It’s better than trying to explain why two grown siblings are still sharing a home.” Hinds chuckled and fished out from inside of the folder two wedding bands that were to be worn by them. Draco outwardly groaned. And though Hermione had wanted to do the same, she took her ring from Hinds’ hand and slipped it onto her finger, subsequently keeping her left hand out of sight so she wouldn’t have to look at it.
“Wait a minute. The house is in Delamere you said?” Draco asked Hinds. He nodded and then Draco began shaking his head in protest. “You’ve got to be kidding. Delamere of all places..? I can’t survive there.”
Hermione stared between Draco and Hinds, trying to figure out what the big deal was. “What’s wrong with Delamere?” Draco glanced at her and huffed.
“Muggles… That’s what’s wrong with it. Delamere is a muggle town as well as the towns surrounding it.”
At hearing that Hermione laughed. Both Draco and Hinds stared at her and continued to do so until she calmed down to a fit of giggles. “What’s the matter, Malfoy? Going to die without using magic, are you?”
“Sod off, Granger.” Draco scowled. “Unlike you, I didn’t grow up with the bloody lot. I’m going to go mad. Delamere’s not even a city for Merlin’s sake.”
“You’ll be fine.” Hermione turned to Hinds and reiterated. “We’ll be fine, Mr. Hinds. Please, where do we go from here?”
“You take these and you drink those.”
Hinds pulled out two more folders and two vials from his desk drawer. He handed the files to Hermione and Draco who casually looked them over. They were summaries of the lives of Nicolette and Ian Groves and meant to be read then and there. Hermione gently grimaced at the idea that this alias was a few years older than her, namely four, but this wasn’t a time to be picky. Once the summaries were read, the vials needed to be drunk. It wasn’t enough to be given new identities on paper and moved to some remote location. They needed to change their physical appearance as well.
The Illusion Potion tasted awful, as was expected. There were no mirrors within the office, so neither she nor Draco could see how they had changed. Well, they could look at each other, and Hermione wondered what Draco meant by the little smirk and low chuckle he gave as he looked at her. Hermione on the other hand held in her thoughts and feelings of his transformation.
Hinds rose to his feet and motioned for them to follow him. Hermione was right on his heels while Draco sluggishly followed after them. They walked down a long hall and down two flights of stairs before being led out of a door with a sign above it saying “exit.” On the other side of it Hermione was surprised to find a car parked near the door.
“The directions to your home are in the glove compartment.” Hinds smiled as he handed Hermione the keys. “Good luck to you, Mr. and Mrs. Groves.”