MS. MCGONAGALL POV:
My wand is held out high, casting taut shadows from the ‘Lumos’ charm I cast soon after leaving my quarters. Portraits along the walls grumble incoherently as I move past.
A heavy feeling settles in my stomach. It's just after 3am in the morning, but something tugged me awake and out of bed. It's unusual for me to have these notions, but sometimes I have a sort of 6th sense. From my experience the sense was uncanny in it's ability to detect things.
I hurry with increasing worry - something is amiss, but I don't know what, yet. I find myself walking towards the Astronomy Tower. Each time I try to turn away, it's like fish-hooks under my skin, painfully tight, and I have no choice but to follow.
As I get closer to the Astronomy Tower, I can hear faint notes of elegant ballroom music wheezing down the silent corridors. It was baffling to say in the least. I could understand a group of students having a party, it has happened and will happen many times. However, ballroom music? They usually listen to more popular, up-to date music. Unless there was a secret ball?
But it doesn't make sense, unless it's a very small group of students, the teachers would have heard rumours or gossip. But there's not even a trace of a party in the Astronomy Tower. Tomorrow night there's meant to be a boozy Slytherin party with some Ravenclaws, even a few Hufflepuffs. But apart from that, the weekend is clear.
I start the descent to the tower. Pausing halfway up the weathered steps, I cast a Disillusionment Charm on myself. The stone walls blend in with my skin seamlessly. I continue upwards, and the music gets louder. I'm careful not to let my footsteps echo in the acoustic space, placing each foot gently.
I was nearing the landing that lead into the tower itself, the door is slightly ajar.
I freeze, peering at the glimmer of moonlight-washed space. Most of the desk and chairs are cleared to one side of the room. A small table is made by two desks pushed together. On the makeshift table is a half-empty bottle of fire-whisky, a small half eaten cake, and a pair of black cloaks. A large, old-style gramophone wheezed out the strains of elegant music that I had heard.
I saw a flurry of movement from the corner of my eye. A tall boy and a more petite girl twirl in the silver moonlight, their steps fluid and flexible and their movements in perfect synchrony.
The boy's hair glints in the soft light, and even with his head bowed I recognise him instantly: Draco Malfoy. Thanks to Severus, I know that the boy is getting ever closer to joining Voldemort. I'm worried, as hateful and prejudiced as he is, he is still only a child. Not even adults should have to do such heinous crimes, let alone a child be forced into it.
What quizzes me the most is his companion. I don't recognise her, I rack my brain, trying to think. Draco spins her round, and the moonlight falls upon her face. I feel as if someone has drained the air from my lungs.
Hermione Granger: a Muggle-Born Gryffindor, part of the Golden Trio, sworn enemy of the Slytherin house and the Dark side.
Draco Malfoy: a Pureblood, Slytherin, Blood supremacist, soon-to-be-Death Eater.
And they're dancing together.
In the middle of the night.
I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.
To say I'm confused - no, no, shocked, would be the understatement of the century. It makes no sense! I rummage through my memories of this past year, looking for any signs of this relationship.
The oblivious couple dance to the music, without a clue as to who's watching them. As the last sounds from the gramophone fade, I remember several events that seemed strange at the time, but I didn't connect the dots.
A normal Monday morning about midway though the year. It was breakfast and I was watching the Slytherin table. Well, a few people in particular, especially Draco Malfoy.
I had been wondering what was going to happen to the group as all the parents were heavily involved with He-who-must-not-be-named.
The post had just arrived. Before Draco's owl could leave after dropping off the Daily Prophet, he called it back. Glancing up at the Gryffindor table, he took a piece of parchment and a quill from his pocket and scribbled a note. Notably covering the message with his face and arms. Folding the parchment he let the bird pluck it out of his fingers, whispering something in the process. It took off. I followed it's flying path with my eyes.
"Minerva?" A voice distracted me from my mission.
I whipped my head around, furious at being distracted. "Yes!" I glared at the person disrupting me, Headmaster Dumbledore. "Oh!" I covered my mouth with my hands. "Sorry, Albus, You...gave me a fright."
"I was just offering some orange juice." Albus chuckled.
"Oh... No thank you." I turned back to my search for the owl, but it was too late. It had most likely gone outside, but there was a similar bird sitting high up on the rafters. Could it be the same bird? After waiting for a few minutes a swarm of late owls came back from hunting or delivering a package. Draco's possible owl swooped among them, sailing over the Gryffindor table, dropping the letter into the lap of none other than Hermione Granger.
I had a free period and I needed a potion from Severus to turn some Teapots back to Ferrets. A class was lining up outside, but I still had 5 minutes and no one seemed to be making trouble. I stepped inside the Potions classroom, grabbing the potion from Severus without a hitch. I walked past the two classes again. This time things were not so peaceful. Ron Weasley was currently jabbing his wand against Draco's Malfoy's throat.
"DON'T CALL HER THAT!" An enraged Mr. Weasley was blocking the corridor, flailing his hand at the female portion of the Golden Trio.
"I will call her whatever I want to, Weasel." His unapologetic and uncaring facade was shattered by the movement of his steely eyes. They flick from Ron's red face to Hermione, standing next to Harry. He didn't smile but there was an imperceptible change in his grey orbs, it was almost as if he was apologizing. She bobbed her head slightly in recognition. Then the act was on again. No mention in either of the student's faces that anything had happened.
Ronald stabbed his wand harder into the boy's Adam apple. "YOU ARE SUCH A PRICK! HOW DO YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF?!" Draco Malfoy tilted his head back and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath.
He laughed dryly, tilting his head back down he said: "That's the trick, Weasley, I don't." there was no humor in his voice and there was something else too- barely concealed regret. That’s when I stepped in. I had let it go on long enough anyway.
"What's going on here?" I threatened, storming up to the Weasley boy and retracting the wand from Draco's neck. I took away 30 points each from each house, sending them back to their lines just as Severus opened the doors to let the students in.
The last sounds fade from the ancient gramophone. A giddy laugh rings out and a tipsy Hermione walks back to the desks. Well, her companion walks, Hermione nearly stumbles and falls, if not for Draco who catches her arm and steers her to a chair.
My eyes flick back to the bottle of fire-whiskey on the table. It looks like amber in the silver shadows from the moon. A jolt of anger runs through my veins, he's taking advantage of her! He doesn't appear drunk at all, yet she's staggering. Why? Is he going to blackmail her? Perhaps a trophy for the Slytherin common room? Or... I shudder at the thought, something to do with You-Know-Who's followers?
Caught by a burst of daring fueled by my rage, I move forward. Scuttling across the landing into the tower and slipping inside, I move closer to the couple. Draco takes the other chair, smiling as Hermione laughs suddenly.
As I get closer I can hear them speak.
"What are you laughing about?" The Slytherin asks, voice husky - if not for the glimmer of curious worry that gives him away. He leans back in his chair and looks at her languidly.
"It's nice, that's all" Hermione's voice is slurred from the drink. Now that I think about it, Draco is certainly not sober either, he just has a higher tolerance. He is around alcohol a lot at the Slytherin parties, and he does look a little inebriated now that I've gotten closer. He lacks his usual grace, the posture that most posh, old money, pureblood families have.
"What is?" he asks again, still leaning back.
"Being with you, and I don't mean throwing insults or glaring at you at school. But...now, when were alone and we can talk, and dance, and laugh and…" Hermione stands from her chair. Her movements are wobbly but she still makes her way to the other side of the table. I step forward quickly, intrigued by what Hermione is doing.
"And kiss." She finishes suggestively, nearing the Malfoy heir, breath mingling with his.
At any moment I fully expect him to shove her away and insult her lineage, but he doesn't. He just kisses her back, chuckling a little. She leans up again, intending to leave, but before she can a voice interrupts her.
"Is that all Miss Granger?" He mocks, stifling a laugh. She bends down again, cupping the back of his silver-blonde head with her hands, and kissing him deeper.
I'm frozen in a state of numb shock, a faint buzzing rings in my ears. In all my years at Hogwarts nothing even close to this has ever transpired. Not to my knowledge anyway. Slytherin and a Gryffindor, never mind that her best friends are trying to kill the wizard his father and most of his social circle follows.
"That's all you get" she's heading back to her chair now.
"Aww" he whines, pouting heavily. The pout disappears as soon as her hand goes to grab the bottle. He grabs it before her hand can even get close.
"I think you've had enough." He plunks the bottle down on his side of the table.
"Damn Seeker reflexes" she hisses from between her teeth. "Why should you get ownership? You're just as drunk."
"Aha, that's where you're wrong." he smirks, "higher tolerance, my dear." He drawls lazily, still leaning back in his chair, one hand on the table to steady himself.
"That's not fair, you drank more than me!"
"That I did," he takes a long swig out of the bottle, laughing at the expression on her face.
She rises from her chair again, this time straddling him with a familiarity that I couldn't - and wouldn't - place. Her arms sling around his neck, his hands snaking around her hips, pressing her closer. One of Hermione's arms drop from twisting in the blonde's hair to creep to the desk, snatching the bottle. She leaps of his lap, laughing victoriously.
"Really?" Is all he says, smile creeping up his own face watching her. She swaggers towards the windows, all the while taking swigs from the bottle. It's less than a quarter full now. She stands and watches the night's sky. Draco slips from his seat, walking up to the girl. He takes his place next to her silently. Their shadowy silhouettes stretch across the moonlit floor. She passes the bottle wordlessly. The once joyful meeting taking a sober tone.
"I'll miss you" Miss Granger says thickly.
"And I you." The boy returns, his voice devoid of any emotion, it's enough to make her turn.
"Draco, let go, please." She pleaded with him. "Look, if you're going to shut off now, I'm leaving." She turns away from the window, stalking towards the door, where I'm standing, still unbeknown to the two. She makes it two steps before he whirls around, catching her wrist.
"I'm scared, okay? I'm about to join the bloody Death-Eaters for Merlin's sake." He hisses, eyes wild with stormy emotion. "And now, the only girl I've ever cared about will be taking a very prominent place on the other side. It's as good as sticking a target on your back. What they would like to do to you..." He trailed off for a moment before returned to his angry speech. "It makes me sick, but I have to sit there and pretend I want to kill you, that I want to rape you, that I want to torture you. So maybe I'm trying to make it easier on myself okay? Or maybe it's not even me, it's you I'm trying to make it easier for."
His rant leaves the room in absolute silence. I'm even more shocked (if that's even possible at this point) and my brain's turning to figure out a way to avoid this. I need to know more, it seems this is a goodbye meeting?
"Draco..." Hermione's voice is soft. She reaches up to touch his cheek, fingers stroking the lines and angles of his handsomely sculpted face. He leans into her hand, a glimmering tear falls from his pale lashes. The tear takes an age to fall, shimmering, shining like a suspended diamond.
"We've been over the plan, remember, if my side wins." She whispers, it's lucky I'm able to hear it.
"When." His voice is hard and firm.
"When." She corrects, to his orders. "Then we go for the fact that you are underage, right now at least, I'll back you up, and we have letters to prove it. We've been over the plans so many times." She urges, voice calm on the outer layers but in turmoil underneath.
I need to know when and where Draco is getting the Dark-Mark.
"So when your father owls, you owl me with all the letters and evidence you can find about us. Remember the timestamps and proof that I'm not under an Imperius curse. Then you walk down to the gates and leave the envelope with all the information that you have about Death Eaters and any headquarters. That way if the owl to me gets intercepted not everything will be lost. Then you aparrate once you're outside the gates, and do it." Her voice fell silent for a moment. "Now, you know that I'd rather you go to Dumbledore, but if you think the best thing would to play it out and act as an unauthorised spy. Well…. I won't stop you. God knows I'll do something just as stupid with the Order of the Phoenix."
Draco is silent for a moment,thinking. "Any thought on Australia?" He asks hopefully, but knowing the answer in his heart.
"Yeah," His face brightens for a moment, before Hermione continues. "That I'm not going." He expels a laden breath "You know I can't, I've spent so much of my life fighting this war, now it's important-"
Dangerous, I can't leave." She finally finishes.
"I know" he's finally resigned.
She takes a shaky breath, stumbling over to the table, collapsing in Draco's seat. She reaches for the small cake, only about a quarter eaten. It reads, 'Don't go entirely evil' in swirly blue icing. Sliding it across the table towards her, she's interrupted by Draco's voice.
"I love you." he says from the window, looking at the curly-haired teen.
"I know," she says simply, as if there's no explanation needed. "Have you done the bank accounts yet?" She breezes by the 'I love you' like it's not important. Maybe it's not, when either could be killed so quickly, I guess it's important to get those feelings out there.
"Yes," Draco pulls Hermione's old chair from the other side of the table around. "I did them last week, forgot to tell you."
"It's fine, are you sure your father can't get into them?"
"Nearly positive. To get into them it will take significant bribing, and he won't for that much money. Unless he thinks - or knows something is going on. But I'm siphoning the money from that one out into a secret one under a different name anyway."
"Why can't you put it all into the account at once?"
"Too suspicious, the Bank will tell Father if I transfer 20 million in Muggle money at once."
'Is it that much!" Hermione looks as shocked as I feel.
"No," Draco chuckles.
"Oh." Hermione almost looks relieved.
"Only 19." He whispers in her ear, cackling. She hits him on the shoulder.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"Should we go shoot my Father?"
"If we're going around hitting rich people, we need to kill my father."
They laugh, and almost sound like a normal couple. Almost.
"Draco?" He looks up from fiddling with his cloak.
"Uh... Nothing. Do you want a slice?"
"No, I had some before." He watches her.
She was twisting her fingers around and around in her hands, I had noticed, she only did that when she was nervous. Like before exams, or during exams, or after exams. Anything to do with exams.
"Who made the cake anyway? I mean 'Don't go entirely evil' isn't exactly inconspicuous." He laughs, testing her reaction. Hermione doesn't laugh back, he glances at her worriedly. She's chewing on her lower lip, eyes big and doe-like.
"Dobby made the cake, I asked him to, no questions asked." Her voice is still anxious.
"Okay... That's good, but what's wrong?" He swivells his body to look at her fully.
"If...if, we are in a fight, not you and me, but the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, I might, we might…."
"Kill each other." Draco takes the grim words from her mouth. "I know, I've thought about it. And I kinda have a plan: I'll try to take off my hood as soon as I can, so then at least it won't be an accident. The Order of the Phoenix doesn't have a uniform, so..."
"You'll know it's me."
"Yeah…" He let the thought drift off in uncomfortable silence.
"But what if were in a situation where we have to?" Her question is sudden, like she needed for it to burst out of her mouth and into the air.
"Kill me." His voice is a blank canvas again.
"What!" Hermione shouts. The noise echoes in the airy space. She rises, she's barely taller than the Slytherin Prince if he's sitting and she's standing.
"What do you mean?" she asks desperately.
"I mean," he continues slowly, as if speaking to a child. "Aim your wand at me" He picks her discarded wand from the table, and places it in her hand, the tip pointing towards him. He stands up, the sudden height difference intimidating. "And whisper the words to the killing curse," stepping forward so the wand prods his chest. "A-Va-Da, Ke-Va-Dra" he whispers, his molten eyes never leaving Hermione's.
"Easy really." His voice is no longer a blank canvas, it's painted red and gold with flames that light his vocal chords in plumes of color, red, orange, gold.
She takes a deep breath. Staring straight at him, she reaches up on her tiptoes, face tilted to his. He closes his eyes, knowing what's coming. His lips move in words so quiet I'm not sure if Hermione hears them, but her face tightens momentarily, so I suppose she does.
She kissed him harder this time, linking her arms around his head and hooking her legs around his slim waist. He stumbles backward, hands coming to rest on her back and hips. Hermione's own hands twist in his platinum hair. She kisses him more fiercely than I've ever seen, nipping his bottom lip and pushing to gain entry to his mouth. He sighs and allows it. He kisses his frustrations out on him, and she kisses hers.
Nipping and biting, licking and sucking Draco makes his way down Hermione's neck. Finding a smooth junction by her neck and shoulder, he latches onto the patch of creamy skin. She whispers something though pants and gasps.
"What?" He mumbles, face still lingering by her neck. She yanks his head up to hers again by his hair.
"I" She kisses him again, this one just as hard as the first.
"Love" This kiss softens a little bit.
"You" this one is almost sweet if not for the way her eyes glimmer as she pulls her head back yet again.
"Draco Malfoy." She gasps, kissing him once more. He lowers her to the floor as she loosens her legs around his waist. She sighs, and he captures her chin with his hand. She looks at him and knows.
"Okay, okay..." She whispers, mostly to herself.
She tore herself out of his grasp, hurrying towards the table. In the time it takes for her to take a 'calming' swig of the remaining firewhiskey he is behind her, bracing both hands on the table.
"I'm sorry." His voice is dark.
"So am I." She turns to face him.
"Goodbye, Hermione." He's retracting again, his voice emotionless.
"Goodbye Draco." She says, voice thick with an unknown emotion. He grabs his cloak wordlessly. She doesn't turn to see him leave, just listens to his feet on the stairs. Hermione sinks to the floor, fat crystal tears dripping down her cheeks. Draco pauses.
"Si les choses étaient différentes. Si nous avions une seconde chance. Je suis vraiment désolé. Je ne te mérite pas." He states quietly, voice puncturing the silence like popping a balloon.
I didn't know he was bilingual. I think it was French, it makes sense, the Malfoys are an old French family.
"Je le ferais à nouveau, si je pouvais avoir une seconde avec vous. Ne pas oublier, s'il vous plaît." Hermione replies in French. Since when has she learnt?!
"You're doing well. Your pronunciation has improved." He stops at the door again, eyes wavering. She is turned away, facing the wall of giant glass windows and the pearlescent moonlight. She snuffles quietly, sniffing back tears.
I step to the side as Draco rushes down the stairs, feet echoing on the stone. I go to follow him, but hesitate glancing back at the distraught girl on the floor.
By the time I make it down to the rest of the castle Draco is nowhere to be seen.
A feral noise echoes down the dark and drafty corridor. I see the faint light of a Lumos, it's low to the floor and stationary. I draw closer. Wand discarded on the floor, glowing with white light, cloak half shrugged on, silver eyes staring blankly at the wall, he sucks in a shuddering breath. He looked dead, a man with nothing to lose. He drags himself to his feet, grabbing his wand in the process. Stumbling down the corridor, posture slumped, he looks more drunk than I've ever seen him at any party.
He's losing everything to a war he didn't sign up to. The irony isn't lost on me.
He staggers down the hall, pushing an empty classroom door open and disappearing inside. I manage to catch the door before it closes. I push it open, thankfully Draco's lean figure is facing away from me - into the dark classroom.
I let the door click shut as he turns. He breaks, that's the only way to describe it. The proud boy I've taught for 6 years is broken, broken in one night. Or maybe it's more than one night, it's his entire life. He braces himself on the door, sliding down it until he's on the floor, back to the door, arms wrapped around himself. His head low, he stifled a sob.
Light footsteps patter past, and Draco raises his head in recognition. The footstep move past then dry racking sobs shake his body. He lifts his head to rest against the door, even now the moon peeks from a window and illuminates his silver hair.
He cries for a long time. Deep sobs that shake his body, sniffles and hiccups, wet tears cascading down the hard planes of his face. Maybe he isn't crying for Hermione, this is more. I feel like I'm intruding in a private moment, I've been intruding all night. But this...this is different, this is far more personal.
When he finished it's nearly 5am, and the sun is starting to trace a glowing line across the horizon. He picks himself up and starts the trudge back to the common rooms, a hollow look in his eyes.
The night is over. It seems a lot longer than 3 hours.
Shaking, I hurry to my room. It all hits me as I unlock the door. I've just witnessed something that can change the course of this war, the course of history, muggle and magic alike. I swing my legs over the side of the bed and put my head in my hands. I sit there, unsure of what to do, I can't process this new correlation. My hands are shaking, my heart fluttering.
Again and again until I am calm. The sun is a blazing ball of light and heat inching up the sky when I regain my motor functions enough to think.
Would they want me to expose them? Even if it could save Draco? Probably not, as it seemed, they're pretty secretive. They did a flawless job. I didn't suspect a single thing until this night.
Does Draco even want salvation? From a young age, he's been taught never to trust anyone, especially someone from the opposite side of the war. Will he accept help from Dumbledore now that his icy heart has somehow softened?
I don't know any real details anyway. I'd barley be any help, I'd only expose a terrible secret.
If the information becomes relevant, then I'll spill, until then, my lips are sealed.
It would never become relevant. Or at least, Mrs. Mcgonagall would never admit it.