Author's notes: I hope you have fun while reading this, because I had so much fun writing it. :) It will be quite long and I will update somewhat regularly.
Disclaimer: I love J.K. Rowling's work and this is my tribute to her. She is one of my inspirations of becoming a writer someday. I do not own the characters, except the ones I have created. All credit belongs to her. The story is mine though.
Hate, Prejudice and Secret Intentions
Their final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry started in the shadow of the Great War.
Both sides were gathering their strengths, both sides were almost ready, but the time had yet to come. And then there was the middle ground; magic users who belonged to neither side. They were the lone wolves, walkers of the old paths, who answered to no one. Dark and Light were both trying to contact these strangers, because their efforts might tip the balance; they might be the crucial advantage.
The upcoming war was on everyone’s lips and every single one of them was terrified at the prospect, the change that was inevitably coming to their lives. No questions asked.
Hermione, Ron and Harry were no exceptions.
There had been so much violence, fear and hatred in their lives over the past few years that they had become too cautious, too suspicious, and they had grown up too fast, taking responsibilities they shouldn’t have taken at the age of seventeen.
They were standing in front of a huge notice board with at least half the school’s students standing around them. There was a set of school rules pinned to the board for everyone to memorize.
The air was full of disappointed cries like: ”What, no Quidditch this year?” and ”We can't go to Hogsmeade?” or ”What does it mean that we have to be in pairs at all times?”
Hermione knew these rules by heart, because Dumbledore had sent them to her with the Head Girl badge and the list of 'things to acquire before the beginning of term'. Actually she had added one rule by herself:
10. You are expected to participate in the war drills.
She didn’t like to admit it, but she was scared to the bone. She had asked Dumbledore to take care of her family, take them to the safe haven his army had created. At least they were safe now, even if she wasn’t. She just wished she could ensure Harry and Ron were safe too.
Hermione knew quite well that the Dark Lord wanted to capture Harry more than ever. The Death Eaters had become less shadowy and a great deal more open and willing to take risks. They had tried to kidnap Harry several times and now he was under strict orders not to go anywhere without a bodyguard. That is why he had stayed with the Weasleys for the summer and was now guarded by an Auror he hadn’t even seen himself. He just knew that the person was there, watching him.
It annoyed him a lot more than he was willing to admit.
”This is bloody brilliant, we aren’t allowed to do anything except study. Where’s the fun in that?” Ron grumbled unhappily while eyeing the rules in disbelief.
Hermione smiled pointedly at him, making him groan and shake his head at her. ”You are impossible; there is not a single person in this school who would disagree with me but you. You are a freak of nature.” He grabbed her in a bear hug and whirled her around and around. She screamed loudly, but soon her screams turned into laughter and giggles.
He always made things better; he made her feel happy, free. Things weren’t so dreadful when he was around.
Ron set her down and kissed her forehead before letting go of her completely. Hermione was still smiling when she heard a familiar voice behind her.
”Move aside, Mudblood. Other people want to see that fascist set of rules, too.”
Her smile died, when she turned to face her old foe. He was taller than before and his now almost white hair had grown over the summer and reached his shoulders, framing his face.
If he hadn’t had that superior, disgusted look permanently etched on his face, he might have been handsome.
”You of all people want to know the rules? Hah, that’s a first. Oh yes, you have to know them to be able to break them.” She smiled at him and was about to walk away with Ron and Harry when he grabbed her arm. He leaned closer, almost touching her ear and whispered, ”You are not going to survive this war.”
She looked shocked and reacted instinctively by trying to slap him with her free hand, but he grabbed that too and held her captured. For a few seconds they just glared at each other and then she spat in his face.
If Ron hadn’t come between them just then and pushed Malfoy away from her, she might have gotten hurt. He looked like he could kill and maybe, just maybe, he really could.
”Leave her alone, troll’s ass. If you touch her ever again, I’m going to beat you to a bloody pulp. Do you understand?”
Malfoy wiped his face and watched Hermione intensely, ignoring Ron completely. He pointed at her with his forefinger.
”You are as good as gone, Mudblood. The whole lot of you.” He could see how his words sank deeply into her, affecting her, hurting her. She bit her lower lip so hard a small drop of blood emerged on her delicate skin. She couldn’t keep herself calm, not now, not after he had pushed all the right buttons, making every muscle in her body tense and ready.
Her eyes were shooting daggers at him and just as she was about to retaliate, Professor Snape walked into the scene.
He had been watching them from further away, seeing their barely restrained hatred burst out into the open. He wasn’t a great supporter of inter-house relationships, but the war was everywhere and he didn’t want it on his doorstep. This kind of behaviour wasn’t helping anyone.
And besides that, he was having a very bad day, a very, very bad day, including several visits to the hospital wing. What was gastric ulcer anyhow?
The air around him went still.
”What is going on here?” He said with as much loathing in his voice as possible. He looked everyone, truly everyone, in the eye, making them feel small and unworthy the way only he could. It was his special skill.
He didn’t give them time to respond to his question, but dragged both Draco and Hermione away like it was the most natural thing to do.
The others felt extremely relieved just to be able to breathe again after his withering eyes had left them.
Hermione tried to object to their violent hauling, but Professor Snape wasn’t listening. Finally it dawned on her that he was beyond furious, and that he was dragging them into the dungeons.
Hermione didn’t like the idea of being alone in the dungeons with the two most hateful Slytherins she knew, but it was hard to come up with a getaway plan when both her hands were in the tight grip of a very powerful wizard.
”Now, listen to me, children,” Snape said after pushing them inside one of the ordinary looking classrooms. ”Do you have any idea what is going on in the world, in this castle, everywhere? You cannot fight openly, not while you are the Heads, not while your behaviour must set an example to the other students. You two are going to act like model citizens from now on, do I make myself clear? If I ever see you fighting again, I’m going to make sure that both of you lose your badges.”
”Professor…” Hermione began, but Snape interrupted her coldly.
”No buts, no what ifs and definitely no ’I didn’t start it’ nonsense. If I see you, you are responsible. Simple as that.”
He then walked to the teacher’s desk, unlocked the top drawer and took out a piece of paper. The scroll looked older than Merlin’s socks, as if it had seen more rain and thunderstorms than the pyramids and Stonehenge combined. He opened the scroll theatrically and gave them a meaningful look.
”Sit down, side by side." Both Hermione and Malfoy looked horrified at the order. "Today would be nice.”
They looked at each other for the first time since Snape’s interference and decided to sit as far from each other as possible while still sitting next to one another. It wasn’t easy.
”This is the first of your many tasks as Head Boy and Girl. Write down every idea you can come up with on uniting the Houses.” They both looked shocked.
”Really Professor, you can’t expect me to work with that…that girl.” Draco said while eyeing her dismissively.
”You have something against girls?”
Draco didn’t say anything, just stared down at the desk in front of him.
”Good. You can start now. I will come back in two hours.”
Immediately after Professor Snape had closed the door behind him, Draco got up, walked to the teacher’s desk and sat on top of it. He wasn’t in a mood to cooperate. He took a coin out of his pocket and started tossing it in the air.
Hermione concentrated on the scroll. It was, in a weird way, eye-catching and beautiful. It made her want to touch it. It made her yearn for the feel of history on her fingertips.
She poked it with her forefinger.
The scroll started to hum quietly, but quite soon the humming changed into an unbearable shrieking that filled the whole room. Hermione could see Draco shouting something, but couldn’t hear a word he was saying. He came to her, grabbed her hands and pushed them to the scroll. The shrieking stopped instantly.
”You idiot, now we can’t let go, unless we want to become deaf. Don’t you fucking know what you are doing? How stupid can you be,” he continued to lash at her, but she wasn’t listening. She was trying to remember.
”Oh my god, this is a Peace Treaty. Isn’t it? They are extremely rare, priceless. How did he get his hands on one of these?” She said, eyes wide with excitement.
Draco snatched his hands away from hers and slapped her in the face. The shrieking started again, but this time it was louder than before, as if it didn’t like hatred or violence at all. It seemed to get restless.
He put his hands on top of hers again.
His ears were ringing and for a second he couldn’t see clearly. The noise was that loud. It went crawling inside your skull, swelling your brain to the point it felt like your head would explode. Not a nice way to go.
Draco was gritting his teeth, so that he wouldn’t do something much worse, something that would hurt him as much as her. He looked at her with utter disgust. He had thought that she actually knew these things.
She was shocked. Nobody had ever hit her, not a boy anyway. In her world, it wasn’t right. You argued, you yelled, you screamed, you got annoyed, but…she was shocked. And then she got angry. She stood up.
”Don’t you ever do that again or I’m going to…” she spat the words out of her mouth.
”You are going to what?” he interrupted rudely. ”You are not in a position to make any threats.”
He didn’t have time to react, before Hermione was at his throat. She bit him hard, never once lifting her hands from the scroll. She wasn’t thinking, she was feeling pitch black.
No person had ever bitten him and he was quite glad of that. Her teeth sank deeply into his soft skin, making him growl with pain. His skin felt like it was ripping apart, burning under her hungry mouth. If he couldn’t get her off him, she would make him scream. He grabbed her throat with one hand and strangled her until, finally, she let go of him.
”What are you? A dog? A bitch, maybe,” he snapped, but regretted it instantly. She hit him hard with her head and now he had a burst lip too.
He glared at her under his brows, his eyes gleaming.
She didn’t look like her usual self at all. There was a wild light in her eyes and her lips and teeth had traces of blood in them. Even her hair was a mess. Who was she? Who was this girl, acting like a beast? Right now, even Hermione couldn’t have given you the answer, she felt so out of herself.
”I hope I’m there to gloat when they kill you…slowly and painfully,” Draco hissed and turned his gaze to the wall.
He had been beaten by a girl and it wasn’t an easy thing to bear.
His hands felt weird on hers, heavy and uncomfortable, like the air around them. They had been standing opposite one another in silence for at least twenty minutes now and she was getting tired. All the anger had gone from her and had been replaced with embarrassment. She had actually bitten him. It might have been funny, if he hadn’t been standing in front of her, clearly getting more furious by the second.
She noticed how he was tapping one of his fingers on the back of her hand.
”Much as it pains me to admit, we’re going to have to try working together if we want to get out of here,” Hermione said finally, unable to stand being in such close proximity to him any longer. ”This is a Peace Treaty, right? If it is, we have to leave here with some kind of agreement. We cannot continue like this, you know it and I know it.”
Silence was her only answer.
She tried again. ”I’m sorry I bit you…and hit you, okay?”
He didn’t say a thing, nor did he look at her.
”What can I say, you bring out the worst in me,” she sighed and lowered her head.
”What do you know, the Gryffindor queen apologising,” he said with a wicked grin, which made Hermione extremely worried. There was also something new in his posture. He was turning his head from side to side, measuring her like she was his prey. And suddenly he was too close.
What happened next was something she wasn’t ready for. He locked her eyes into his, licked his lips and said a word she didn’t understand nor did she recognize the language.
He had hexed her, just like that.
”What did you do?” she screamed. Something was going to happen and she knew she wasn’t going to like it. Something was happening. She felt something weird on her head, her hair felt…alive. And then it stared at her, right in the eye. A snake, lots of them. Her hair was full of snakes, her hair was snakes.
”Oh, my god. Take them off. Take it off! TAKE IT OFF!”
He was laughing out loud.
”And what if I don’t?” he managed to say between bursts of laughter.
She jumped away from him and rammed hard against a table behind her. She was screaming incoherently, trying to push the snakes out of her face.
The scroll reminded them of its presence yet again with a stunning wail and for some reason, Hermione’s screams urged it to get higher notes into its repertoire.
Draco was still laughing even though his nose had started to bleed. Soon after that he found it extremely hard to stand upright, but still he wasn’t worried. This was his revenge, childish maybe, but revenge anyhow. She should consider herself lucky that he hadn’t done something nastier.
She didn’t notice him anymore, or anything else for that matter. There was not a single clear thought in her head; she was out of her mind with sheer panic. Her body lay in the corner, shivering, and her mind was wandering around repeating one thing over and over again: ”This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening.” She was seconds away from unconsciousness.
And then suddenly she felt hands on her hair, on her real hair. Somebody lifted her up and carried her to where the scroll was. And then the hellish noise was gone again. What a beautiful silence surrounded them.
”You really are stubborn,” that somebody said.
Her eyes weren’t working, her mind was numb, and she wasn’t sure if she was really there, wherever ‘there’ was.
”I leave you here for thirty minutes and you almost kill each other. How wonderfully cooperative.” Professor Snape was watching his two top students with what looked almost like despair. ”What should I do with you? I can’t break this spell. Nobody can but you. It’s ancient magic.” He sighed. ”I should have been more careful, but ... Maybe I should just glue your hands to the scroll.”
He might as well have been talking to himself; the boy and the girl were in another world.
”I’ll have to watch over you. Try to behave until I return.” He walked away leaving them, feeling quite lost.
”This is all your fault.”
It was the first thing they said to each other after what felt like hours of recovery. They were now sitting opposite one another, their hands on the scroll, his on top of hers.
”This is crazy. We’re never going to get out of here,” she said.
”Speak for yourself.” He said it as if there was a way for him to escape from the situation. Of course he was bluffing.
”Do you want to spend the rest of your miserable life sitting here with me?” she asked, hoping against hope for the millionth time that this was only a dream.
”What do you think? This is a nightmare come true. What the hell was that traitor thinking?” He was getting angry again and that she didn’t want. His last words also worried her; did he know that Professor Snape was actually one of Dumbledore’s agents? Did his father know about it?
”What?” he snapped. Her worries must have been clear on her face.
”Nothing,” she said haughtily.
He watched her carefully for a while as if trying to see what she was hiding. After a minute or two he must have decided that it wasn’t worth it, because he blinked and turned his gaze to their united hands.
She breathed out loudly, realizing that she had been holding her breath under his searching eyes. She was scared of him, more than before. She knew now that he could hurt her just with his words. He didn’t need a wand for that. It worried her that his magic was different from hers. But their current situation worried her even more.
”Could we talk about this situation? Call a truce just for a moment? We wouldn’t have to tell anybody about it.” Hermione was almost pleading. She didn’t like the idea of spending the night with him in this cold classroom. Sleeping was out of the question in that scenario.
”Talk,” he said coldly.
”Okay. Well I think we should do as Snape told us and try to come up with at least two ideas on uniting the Houses.”
”Don't you know anything? That’s not nearly enough. We have to reveal secrets, which we promise to keep forever,” his smile was full of mockery. "Are you willing to trust me?"
”What? This parchment needs an agreement, not secrets.” She was certain he was trying to lead her on.
”Are you sure? Well we can try that. Give me an idea and I will work with you.” He was having fun again. At her expense.
”Hmm … how about if we change the House colours into Hogwarts colours as we all are Hogwarts’ students. And then we could also rearrange the tables in the Great Hall, so that people would sit at mixed tables. And maybe we should consider opening up the common rooms so that students from the other houses can enter them if they want. What do you think?”
You are a childish idiot and a dreamer of the worst kind, he thought but said: ”We could try that. And maybe we could also have discussion rings where everybody could discuss how they feel about the upcoming war and the break between Mu…Muggle-borns and Purebloods. How about that?”
”You're mocking me.”
”Oh Miss Granger, what makes you say that? I have only good intentions in my heart. Promise.” He almost looked like a boy scout (if boy scouts would wear robes and had a long white hair).
”I hate you,” she said plainly.
”The feeling is mutual.”
And once again they were back at square one.
”Can’t we do something?” Professor Snape asked the Headmaster.
Dumbledore watched his old friend appreciatively. He had changed over the years, more than anyone he had had the pleasure of knowing. Today, he was a good man.
”I'm afraid it is their ordeal. And for that matter, it might be the best thing that has ever happened to Slytherin and Gryffindor.”
”Hmm, I’m not sure if I agree,” Snape said, but then added: ”It’s just that I’m afraid that they won’t or can’t see through their differences. As you know, they have been enemies from day one.”
”But they also represent what this whole war is about. Their truce might change the future. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
In Snape’s opinion, Dumbledore had too much faith in his pupils, but he had to admit that these two could make a difference. They were so popular and powerful.
And he wanted to see Draco Malfoy’s arms clean, no marks, no blood. So he backed up Dumbledore’s plan, if a little reluctantly.
”Are you happy now? We have to spend the night in here. You are impossible.” She had had enough; his attitude was getting on her nerves. She wanted to get out and for that she needed him. It was the worst kind of situation.
”Sleep well, Mudblood,” he responded.
”Why do you have to be such an arse?”
”Do you really want to know the answer? Maybe you need to know it?” He let the words come out of him with all the hatred and frustration he felt. ”I have to touch you, I have to be near you while you taint me with your blood. I have to tolerate your stupidity and utter ugliness. And worst of all, you won’t shut your fucking mouth.” The last part he said with a warning tone.
Her whole body stiffened and she leaned as far away from him as possible. Apparently his words could hurt her this way too. She didn’t like it at all, the power he had over her. She wanted to get rid of him, now.
”I’m unclean and ugly, am I? Well, you are the most insufferable loser I’ve ever met. Always picking on people smaller than you. Loser in Quidditch, loser in popularity, loser in love and loser in strength. You’re never going to be as good as Harry. Never! You are going to crawl into the ground when he finally gets to show you his true power. Actually, I think you would lose to Neville, if there ever were a duel between the two of you. You are the worst of the worst, because you are all threats and no power. You idiot, wannabe Death Eater.”
He was taken aback. Her outburst had surprised him, because he was quite sure she was afraid of him. She had some backbone after all.
”Loser in love, what’s that all about?” He smiled almost genuinely.
She confronted his gaze, but wasn’t sure how to answer. That had just come out of her mouth. Maybe because Harry was so happy with Ginny and it made her feel…well, it made her feel like a loser. She couldn’t find anybody to love her. She was too freakish for everybody.
”Forget it. Just anger talking,” she said.
”Yeah, right. And pigs fly.”
Hermione couldn’t understand the sudden change in Malfoy’s tone. He seemed almost civil. She walked on thin ice, she knew, but she wanted to get out, so she tried her luck.
”Malfoy, could we help each other out of here?” she asked quietly.
He didn’t say anything for a long while and she was starting to believe that he was giving her the silent treatment. It was making her agitated, but then finally, he spoke.
”Okay, let’s get out of here.” He watched her carefully. ”Here’s the thing, we both need to reveal two secrets and on top of that we have to write our names on the Peace Treaty under several points on which we agree. Can you do that?”
She nodded, unable to speak.
”Good. We can lift our hands from the scroll. It won’t scream now that we are willing to cooperate.”
He was right. It only hummed quietly.
”Now, tell me your secrets,” he commanded.
She hesitated. ”Um, maybe we could reveal them in turns?”
She was making him mad again and the scroll didn’t know how to react to their weird cooperation, which was full of distrust. It wailed a bit and then fell silent.
”What kind of secrets should they be?” she asked, not knowing what to say.
”The kind you haven’t told to anyone, those you hold dear to yourself, personal ones.”
”Okay, this is my first.” Her voice staggered a bit. ”I have a mad brother, who couldn’t deal with the fact that he had magic in his blood. I’m afraid of losing my mind like he did.” She rested her head to her hands, scared that he might say something cruel or degrading, but he only gave her his secret.
”I don’t want to tell you this, but…I have no memory of last summer. My father says I will remember, when the time comes. But I’m not sure if I want to.” Every word came out of his mouth reluctantly. He didn’t want her to know how fucked up his life really was.
She didn’t know what to say to him, so she continued her own revelations.
”I was almost raped by a Death Eater, but one of our teachers was able to save me.” She was always grateful to Snape, always. At the risk of blowing his cover, he had stunned her attacker and had taken her to safety. From that moment on, she had trusted him completely even though he was still truly annoying and mean spirited, and lacked any kind of decency towards Harry. But he was a good person and it meant the world to her. Of course, the boys had never understood the sudden change in her attitude towards Snape, but they didn’t know. Now, Malfoy was the only one to know. She really hoped that he would keep it to himself.
He didn’t like this subject at all. It made him feel like his skin wanted to crawl off of him.
”I can’t do this.” He said and grabbed her hands before the scroll started to shriek again. Hermione looked betrayed and hurt, and anger was clearly under everything else she was feeling. She was stunned by his lack of character.
”What do you mean, you can’t do this? Continue, you bastard. Tell me your secret. I want to get out of here. I told you, you have to tell me. Malfoy, you retard. I truly hate you. I hate you. I hate you! I HATE YOU!!” She tried to get her hands from under his, but he held her tight.
”Let go of me, stupidhead. I’m not going to stay here with you for another minute. Let go, damn it.”
He looked at her with a veiled expression on his face and said: ”Sit down. I’m not telling you anything. We’ll wait for Professor Snape. He will get us out of here.”
”You know quite well he can’t. Oh my god, you are the stupid one here. Can’t you see how close we are to being freed? I won’t tell anyone, I won’t even listen carefully if you don’t want me to. I won’t say anything. Please, Malfoy. Please, Draco. Please,” she begged, her eyes only inches away from his.
He pushed her away, but something was different, because the scroll didn’t start its brain deadening show. It made her hopeful and after a few moments, her efforts were rewarded.
”I don’t want to be here with you. It has to count something.” He crouched over the table and bowed his head to his hands. ”There is nothing in me but my father; I’m a copy of him. And he wants me to follow his footsteps, he expects me to… He didn’t even ask…” He then pulled his right sleeve up and showed her the mark his father had burned into his skin. It was similar to the Dark Mark, but it hadn’t been done magically. There had been only metal and a lot of heat.
She brushed her thumb over the troubled skin, sadness in her eyes. There was no years of torment, no ill-behaviour, no verbal abuse. There was only an act of human compassion.
The moment held no hatred between them. She gave him something nobody had ever given him. Her touch made his heart jump and only for a second, he let her stay in his world. Then he pulled his hand away and sat down on the table next to the scroll.
An awkward silence fell upon them.
”Let’s write down our ideas.” Hermione said finally. She didn’t want to break the silence, but it was really late and she wanted to go to bed. The day had been too eventful; she needed to be alone.
She sat down, took a quill and a small bottle of ink out of her pocket and started to write 'How to unite the Houses?' on the parchment.
”What now?” she asked, frustrated.
He sat down beside her and took her hand to his own.
”We have to write it together.” He didn’t know what to think anymore. His mind was as tired as his body. He didn’t have much resistance left in him. He just wanted to leave the whole incident behind him. This really wasn’t his usual world.
”Oh…” Hermione was too aware of him, sitting there so close to her, holding her hand. It felt wrong. She didn’t like him. At all.
They wrote down all the ideas they had come up with earlier. Then they thought of a few more, like the mixed House masquerade and the storyboard where people could write nice things about their inter-house relationships.
In the end, their list had ten items in it. Hermione was quite pleased with it, although it was too short and didn’t have any brilliant ideas in it, only good ones. Draco couldn’t have cared less, he just wanted to get out of the situation, which he couldn’t control, and was willing to agree on almost anything.
Now they had to write down only their names. It was the first time she wrote his name, Draco Bellator Malfoy. Hers was so much simpler, Hermione Jean Granger. And then it was over.
The scroll closed itself.
He let go of her hand, stood up and walked away without a word.
”Bellator…” she said. It was a funny name, his whole name was funny, Dragon Warrior. It made her smile.
It hadn’t been a bad day after all. She knew some of his secrets, so maybe hers were safe too. And Bellator, that she wouldn’t forget. He would hear about it later, if he continued to harass her.
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