Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Not a thing.
Quick A/N: This is a Dramione story with a plot. I normally don't even enjoy this pairing, but the story wouldn't get out of my head. Cheers!
Chapter One - Professor Peverell
Hermione Granger was awoken on the morning of her nineteenth birthday by a silvery white Jack Russell Terrier licking her forehead. Rubbing her eyes blearily, she sat up in shock when she saw its swirling eyes and recoiled. It was not until the fog of sleep had lifted from her mind that she realized it was a Patronus.
“Hello there,” she whispered, offering the creature her hand. Though she had seen it but seldom, she recognized it at once as Ron’s. The friendly dog sat back and spoke in Ron’s voice.
“Go to the library,” it said before licking her hand affectionately once more and bounding away through a wall.
Go to the library? To Hermione’s immense annoyance she had found the library closed for renovations the previous day, and she did not entirely fancy a stroll through the castle at the break of dawn simply to be turned away at the door. But her curiosity was piqued, and after a moment’s consideration she dressed in silence so as not to wake the three other girls still sound asleep in the dormitory. She passed Emilia Cadwallader and Katrice Burbage on tiptoe, wrinkling her nose a little at the sight of the gleaming Head Girl’s badge on Burbage’s bedside table, and stopped in front of Ginny’s bed.
“Ginny,” she breathed. “Can I borrow the Marauder’s Map?”
Ginny muttered something unintelligible and placed a pillow over her head.
“All right, all right,” Ginny grumbled, reaching under her mattress and extracting the familiar piece of yellowed parchment without lifting her head. “If I give it to you now will you let me sleep the rest of the year?”
“Not a chance,” Hermione replied, grinning and taking the map.
As it was early morning and she was not really out of bounds, Hermione did not bother to disillusion herself as she left Gryffindor tower and headed for the library. She did, however, employ the map to navigate a Peeves-free route, noting that a large number of ghosts appeared to be congregating on the third floor. Once she had made it to the library Hermione saw to her relief that its doors were open once more, though not a living soul appeared to be up and about within. She strode past the section of basic textbooks reserved for first and second years, and then, she saw it.
“Oh, Ron!” she exclaimed, awestruck.
An entire new wing had been added to the library. An entire hallway lined with bookshelves, packed from floor to ceiling with new, unexplored volumes. Hermione did not think she had ever come so close to swooning in her life. Mastering herself, she walked to a small table surrounded by plush purple armchairs, where a familiar grey screech owl was waiting for her.
“Hello Moony,” she greeted Harry’s new owl, stroking its feathers briefly and taking the two letters attached to its leg. She opened the one bearing Ron’s untidy scrawl first, her heart beating a little faster, her cheeks flushed.
Happy birthday! I was looking through the Ministry Archives when I popped in on Harry the other day and I noticed an entire section on Hogwarts. It took some convincing—Harry had to sit through an entire lunch with that old codger Callaghan—but we managed to talk them into donating all these books to Hogwarts in support of the reconstruction effort. I hope you like them. Especially the ones in the far left corner.
It’s only been a week since we last saw each other but I’m completely useless without you, of course. Speaking of which, sorry about the mustard stain in the corner. Long story short, George is a prat.
Let me know when your first Hogsmead weekend is announced so we can meet up. Unless of course you’ve decided to abandon this whole Hogwarts business at last, in which case let me know when to pick you up.
PS: I was only joking about leaving Hogwarts. Don’t be angry with me.
Hermioned laughed at this last, remembering the incredulous looks on the boys’ faces when she had announced her intention to return to Hogwarts to complete her education. In the end neither of them had been able to say that they were quite so shocked by her decision. In fact, Ron had surprised her afterwards by pulling her aside and suggesting that he put his aspirations to join the Auror Office on hold.
“George has asked me if I’d like to manage the Hogsmead branch of Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes,” he had said. “Just for the first few months, you know. I can always join the Auror Office later on. This way we could see each other every time you have a weekend off.”
Sitting in front of a roaring fire at Grimmauld Place, she had felt a curious warmth spread from her fingers to her toes at his words. They had been staying in London with Harry, both because they did not want to impose upon Mr and Mrs Weasley at the Burrow as they mourned their son, and because Hermione could not imagine trying to share a bedroom with Ron if she were to visit him at home right under his mother’s nose. Things had gotten a little uncomfortable when it had become clear that Harry also intended for himself and Ginny to share a room at Grimmauld Place, but in the end the house was large enough to afford privacy for all, and Ron had raised only a token protest.
“You don’t have to put off your plans for me,” she had told Ron.
Taking her hand, he had replied, “I want to.”
Hermione smiled, too, at the subtle way which Ron had found to signal that George’s spirits might finally be returning. But above all she was incredibly touched by Ron and Harry’s gesture. Already she was itching to pick out one of the new books and settle down into an armchair with it. Instead she opened Harry’s letter and began to read.
Happy Birthday! I expect Ron’s explained to you about the books. I don’t think the Ministry was too keen on parting with them, but we got there in the end. It was all Ron’s idea, and he was very excited for you to see them. Be sure to take a look at the ones he set aside in the far left, by Lady Cedrella of Derbyshire.
I’m sorry to have to include this in your birthday wishes, Hermione, but I’m also writing you with a warning, something I overheard at the office earlier. You’ll remember when we testified against Lucius Malfoy, how we decided to give testimony to help exonerate Draco. Well, the Malfoy trials are over now and as you’ll see in the Prophet, Lucius was freed. Don’t believe what you read though, it had nothing to do with contributions to the wizarding community. He named names, plain and simple. But what I really want to warn you about is Draco: they’re letting him return to Hogwarts. He was being held in Azkaban pending a final decision and they released him today. I hear McGonagall wasn’t convinced about letting him back in at first, but apparently Dubmledore’s portrait talked her into it. I expect Draco will arrive there at any time. I haven’t told Ron yet because he’ll go mental when he hears, but I’ll have to eventually, so you can expect a letter from him about it. Be sure to let us know if Draco gives you a hard time, because he’s on strict probation and one word from you will have him chucked out. They’re even forcing him to take Muggle Studies, if you’ll believe it.
Anyhow, sorry to burden you with all that, but I thought you should know. I’ll try to make a trip to Hogsmead for your next visit, but don’t worry, I’ll give you and Ron plenty of time to spend alone.
PS: I was only joking about you and Ron. Please don’t be angry with me.
Hermione folded up the letters and placed them in her pocket, comparing the sentiments accompanying each boy’s signature with a slight frown. Harry’s was signed with love in the same way he might have addressed a letter to Mrs. Weasley. Ron’s, on the other hand, was signed Best. She had to stop herself from rolling her eyes at the thought that his old insecurities might remain even after everything they had been through in the war. As for the arrival of Draco Malfoy, Hermione had anticipated it, though it was still less than desirable news. What with the extended curfews and Hogsmead privileges afforded older students returning after the war to take their NEWT’s, however, she did not think that she would have much difficulty avoiding him outside of classes.
Squashing her ungenerous thoughts, Hermione beamed up at the bookshelves laid out before her and made for the corner both Harry and Ron had mentioned. There, to her everlasting delight, she found a highly detailed, first edition of Hogwarts, A History, written in three volumes with full historical appendices.
All other concerns banished from her mind, Hermione settled down with the first volume and scanned the table of contents. She saw with a thrill that an entire chapter had been dedicated to house elves. With a contented sigh at the thought that she still had four hours until her first class, she opened the book to Chapter One: Legends in the Hogwarts Halls.
Professor Ignotus Peverell heard a knock at his office door and looked up to see Elderic Gryffindor, one of his youngest and brightest students, standing in the doorway and clutching something tightly in his hand.
“Come in,” Ignotus invited, gesturing to the chair across his desk. The boy took a seat and began at once to fidget, apparently unable to stay still. “What can I do for you?”
“It’s just this toy mouth organ my brother gave me, sir,” Elderic confessed, opening his hand to reveal the tiny silver instrument within, which immediately began to spew a high-pitched, dissonant tune. “He was angry with me for breaking his model ship, so he charmed the mouth organ never to stop playing. It won’t stop following me around, either. I haven’t slept in three days. And I’ve tried everything I know, but I can’t get it to stop.”
Ignotus took the offending mouth organ and examined it from every angle, nodding pensively.
“Yes,” he said at last, “this toy bears the mark of powerful magic. Luckily, I know how you can be rid of it permanently.”
“Really?” Elderic looked almost desperately thankful; there were dark circles under his eyes.
Chuckling, Ignotus reached under his desk and produced a small steel box. He then placed the mouth organ in the box, pointed his wand at it, and muttered “Incendio horribilis.” Elderic made to lean in and observe the effects of the spell, but before he could do so Ignotus had snapped the top of the box shut and closed the latch.
“My brother Cadmus invented this spell before he was killed,” Ignotus informed his curious student. “Fiendfyre is one of the most powerful substances known to wizardkind, and you are never to attempt summoning it on your own. Left unchecked, it could consume this entire castle in less than an hour. Unlike regular fire, which thrives on oxygen, Fiendfyre feeds on magical power. Once the curse placed upon your mouth organ is consumed—and the toy along with it, I’m afraid—it will move to devour the next source of magic it can find. However I, knowing the counter-curse, have enchanted this box to contain the Fiendfyre within it. With nothing to feed upon, it will burn itself out.”
Even as Ignotus spoke a deep orange glow emanated from the box and Elderic could hear the crackling within. As the effects of the Fiendfyre died out, Ignotus opened the box to reveal a charred wreckage of twisted metal which, to Elderic’s obvious delight, remained quite silent.
“Thank you, sir!” the boy exclaimed, rising to leave. He turned, however, before he could exit the room, and added, “I’m sorry about your brother, sir. The one who died.”
Ignotus inclined his head. “Both of my brothers have passed through the veil. And I thank you, Elderic, for saying so. I am sorry as well.”
Draco Malfoy burst through the grate in the Slytherin common room while the premises were still empty, coughing out a little soot and setting his trunk down by a leather sofa. With his name having been in and out of the Daily Prophet all summer long he found the prospect of remaining in the common room as his fellow Slytherins appeared en masse a daunting one. So instead of lingering he withdrew his Hand of Glory from an inner pocket and headed for the library, where he knew no Slytherins would appear on a Friday morning.
His mistake, of course, was a lack of foresight regarding students from other houses who might be found this early in the library. No sooner had he passed Madame Pince’s desk did he spot Granger sitting in what looked like a new history wing, her expression serious and unguarded as she leafed through an enormous dusty tome. It was almost as though nothing since their early schooldays had changed, what with Granger’s nose being perpetually stuck between the pages of a book, and her presence irking him everywhere he went.
Yet he could not lie to himself: everything had changed. He had dreaded returning to school ever since his father had put forward the idea in his typical demanding fashion, appealing to the family’s need to rehabilitate its image. Draco might have refused if not for the fact that deep down, he had no desire to spend another year in the house where he had seen so many people tortured at the hands of the Dark Lord.
His own mother and father. Charity Burbage and Ollivander. Dolohov, Rowle, Wormtail. Ted Tonks and Xenophilius Lovegood. The Lovegood girl, the goblin.
Granger, too, for that matter.
(“You are lying, filthy mudblood, and I know it! You have been inside my vault at Gringotts! Tell the truth, tell the truth!”)
His mother had assured him that he was making the right decision, that completing his education was an important step. Now that he was here, he felt greater dread at the prospect of walking these halls again than of remaining at Malfoy Manor. What had been the purpose of everything his father had put him through under the assurance that they would emerge from the war victorious? Draco could not help but feel as though he had been rudely cheated of the world he was promised, and that it had all been his father’s doing.
The fog of dread born out of his time in Azkaban was beginning to descend, and for a time Draco was lost to the world. He did not notice Granger’s eyes drift in his direction, wary of his movements, though in any case she could not have identified him in the early morning gloom. But when he came back to himself and looked in her direction once more, she was gone.
The first class of the day for returning NEWT students was Charms, which had been passed along from Filius Flitwick to Bill Weasley when the former entered into a long-deserved retirement. Hermione had been pleased to discover that Bill was an excellent teacher, though it felt a little odd to call him Professor Weasley after having danced at his wedding. She arrived ten minutes early with her new book tucked under her arm, eager to sort through her notes on magical methods of conveyance before the lesson could begin. Only a handful of chairs filled the spacious room due to the small number of older students in the school, whom the staff had been unwilling to place with regular seventh years.
At the front of the room sat Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil, the only Ravenclaws in their year who had opted to continue attending school rather than taking on Ministry jobs. Behind them the three remaining Hufflepuffs were grouped together, with Ernie Macmillan chatting to a bored looking Hannah Abbot about the various advantages of the Cleansweep over the Comet broomstick. Zacharias Smith observed them with his arms crossed. Neville, for his part, arrived at the same time as Hermione, leaving Slytherin as the only house which was not represented. With Crabbe and Nott dead, the Greengrass family having moved to France, Malfoy imprisoned, and Zabini and Goyle apparently unwilling to show their faces, Pansy Parkinson had been the only Slytherin who had attempted to return to school.
She had not lasted two weeks. Faced with constant taunts and curses, the brunt of which came from Ginny and her friends, Pansy had left school in the dead of night, never to return. Hermione had considered speaking to Ginny about her behavior, but every time she had been about to do so Fred’s face had popped into her head, and she had thought better of it.
“Morning Class,” Bill called out, entering the classroom with a briefcase in hand. Hermione and Neville waved at him happily, though Neville’s smile faltered when he saw the extensive question sheet Bill was passing out.
“Everyone here?” Bill asked. “Excellent. So we’re going to continue on with safe magical travel practices today. If—Oh good morning, Malfoy.”
There was a collective gasp from the students who turned as one to face the back of the room, where Draco Malfoy was leaning against the doorway, somehow looking uncomfortable and haughty and apprehensive all at once. Apart from a slightly raised eyebrow, Bill gave no indication that Malfoy’s presence was an abnormality, gesturing at him to take a seat. Hermione saw Zacharias Smith snicker and whisper something in Ernie Macmillan’s ear, smirking in Malfoy’s direction all the while. For his part, Malfoy was acting as though the other students did not even exist. Neville caught Hermione’s eye and tilted his head, as if to ask whether she had been aware of this new development. Hermione nodded discreetly before returning her attention to Bill, who had finished handing out his Apparition questionnaires.
“As I was saying,” Bill continued, “moving on from Wednesday’s lesson on the Floo network, we will now be reviewing ideally combined Floo and Apparition transport. Who among you can tell me what would be the fastest way to travel from Hogwarts to Hogsmead village, and subsequently to East Dufftown?
Before Hermione could raise her hand, Zacharias Smith had let out a derisive chuckle and said, “By Apparition, as it’s less than thirty miles away. I would have thought that would be more in the realm of OWL’s rather than NEWT’s.”
Hermione threw him an aggravated glance, ready with her retort, and then—
“You can’t Apparate anywhere on Hogwarts grounds, you dolt,” Malfoy snapped at Smith.
A surprised chuckle bubbled to Hermione’s lips and she struggled to remain quiet, wondering all the while at Ron’s expression if he could hear Malfoy echoing her frequent refrain.
“Correct,” Bill agreed, frowning a little at Malfoy’s insulting Smith. “The Hogwarts grounds are protected from Apparition by ancient magic, making Floo powder a more practical method...”
The remainder of the lesson passed uneventfully, though Hermione found her mind wandering to Malfoy several times, puzzling at his subdued behavior. He did not speak again after his initial outburst, sitting hollow-eyed and sallow-skinned at the back of the room. Hermione knew that in the wake of such overwhelming numbers of dangerous criminals as were currently being rounded up, Kingsley Shacklebolt had been unable as yet to pass a bill disbanding the Dementors as Azkaban’s guards. Apparently his time in prison had affected Malfoy rather strongly.
Their next class was Muggle Studies, which Hermione had rejoined with special permission from McGonagall after learning the identity of the new Professor. Rolf Scammander was an odd, energetic sort of man with a weather-worn face which, combined with his eyepatch and dragonskin boots, gave him a rather piratical appearance. Hermione had hung back after their first lesson to speak with him privately.
“I wanted to thank you for acknowledging Professor Burbage, sir,” Hermione had said. “She was a wonderful teacher.”
“You studied under Mrs Burbage?” Scammander had asked.
“Only in third year, sir.”
He had looked at her with some amusement. “Your chocolate frog card lists you as muggleborn. Yet you’ve taken on Muggle Studies.”
Hermione had not been certain whether he was asking a question or not, so she had shrugged and said, “Well, thank you for a great lesson. I’ve read your books, and I’ll be glad for the opportunity to learn from you firsthand.”
“You mean my grandfather’s books, I think,” Scammander had replied a little cynically, and she had known without having to ask that he was referring to his great-grandfather Newt Scammander, author of the seminal Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
“No sir, your books,” Hermione had insisted. “I especially enjoyed the way you outlined a clear case for werewolf rights in Beast, Spirit, Being: The Case For Empathy. I didn’t know that you were interested in Muggle culture as well.”
“Oho!” Scammnder had exclaimed, suddenly much more jovial. “I can see that the reports are true, Miss Granger. Ravenclaw house lost out on a force to be reckoned with the day you were sorted into Gryffindor. Well, well, I shall look forward to our next lesson.”
From this point on, to Hermione’s embarrassment, Professor Scammander had called upon her in class disproportionately often in comparison with the other students, sometimes going so far as to hold entire conversations with her on subjects too advanced for the other pupils while the class simply looked on, waiting to carry on with their lesson.
Presently, the subject of discussion was the effect of the International Statute of Secrecy upon wizard-Muggle relations, a topic which seemed to arouse interest in exactly no one apart from Hermione. Determined for once not to be the only student who spoke for the duration of the class, she kept her hands clasped firmly in her lap for the first five minutes, an exercise which proved almost physically painful.
“Now, now,” Professor Scammander was saying, “surely someone can tell me about Muggle dependence upon magical neighbors prior to 1692. I see we have a new addition to our class today. What say you, Mr—”
“Malfoy, sir,” said Malfoy in a voice that was barely above a whisper. Hermione found herself wondering whether the Dementors had actually robbed him of his will to express his superiority in public.
“Yes, an old name, Malfoy,” Professor Scammander went on. “Surely your family must have had ties to the Muggle community prior to the introduction of the Statute. What if anything can you tell us about that?”
Hermione saw Malfoy’s knuckles grow white as he clenched the sides of his desk in anger at the insinuation that his family had once associated with Muggles. There was no doubt that he felt participation in the class was beneath him.
“Actually sir,” Malfoy replied slowly, as though he were choosing his words with great care, “the Malfoy family tree consists of wizards in its entirety. I can’t speak much beyond that fact.”
Hermione’s blood boiled at his attitude, and, throwing her resolution to stay silent out the window, she raised her hand.
“Ah, but of course Miss Granger can enlighten us!” Professor Scammander declared with a grin.
“Well, sir, as concerns the Malfoys, the family’s earliest known ancestor Armand Malfoy traveled to Britain with William the Conqueror and continued to provide magical services to King William thereafter. In return the King annexed a number of Muggle land holdings which were given to the Malfoys. The majority of these are still intact in Wiltshire, I think. A male heir of the Malfoy line was also a known suitor of Queen Elizabeth the First. There is hardly a single wizarding family today that doesn’t have strong ties within the Muggle community, both predating the Statute and after it.”
“That is precisely so, Miss Granger, ten points to Gryffindor,” Professor Scammander agreed enthusiastically, going on to quiz her at great length about her knowledge of the Malfoys’ dealings with Muggle Renaissance art dealers. Hermione could feel Malfoy’s eyes burning holes in the back of her neck all the while, but she refused to turn around and acknowledge him, and so did not see the fierce war between anger and something more like incredulity being waged behind his eyes.
It was not until class was dismissed that Hermione allowed herself to observe Malfoy again, which happened to coincide with the moment he ran into Luna Lovegood in the middle of the corridor. Hermione, who knew that Luna had no classes anywhere in this part of the castle, could only assume that Luna was undertaking one of her frequent ventures into idle daydreaming, and could not resist watching to see what unfolded.
“Draco Malfoy,” Luna said, gazing at him with wide eyes. “You’re back at Hogwarts now.”
Malfoy gave a stiff, infinitesimal nod and attempted to leave, but Luna was not ready to release him just yet.
“Your father wasn’t very nice to me when he imprisoned me in your cellar, you know,” she pointed out, which was unusually blunt even for Luna. Malfoy’s nostrils flared, and Hermione poised herself to interfere. “But you always brought me food when the others weren’t paying attention.”
Hermione’s mouth fell open in surprise just as Malfoy’s eyes flickered over to her. The look on her face appeared to be the last straw, because he ceased even attempting to feign politeness and sidestepped Luna to flee the corridor. Hermione watched him go, a thousand thoughts crowding their way into her mind.
(“What else did you take, what else? ANSWER ME! CRUCIO!”)
A distraction from her dark reflections arrived over lunch in the form of Ginny, who handed Hermione a box wrapped in bright red gift paper.
“Thanks, Ginny!” Hermione exclaimed as she opened the box, which turned out to contain a beautiful new set of self-inking eagle feather quills. She was about to ask if Ginny had heard about Malfoy’s return when the latter interrupted her.
“Oh, Hermione, did you hear about the Grey Lady?”
“No, why?” Hermione frowned. “The ghosts were acting a bit odd on the map this morning. What happened?”
“She’s vanished,” Ginny replied. When Hermione looked sceptical she added, “No really, the Bloody Baron was all up in arms about it. Supposedly she claimed she no longer wanted to exist as a spirit and she knew a way to find the veil, whatever that means. And she tried to lure the Baron into some sort of trap with her, but he wouldn’t go. She’s gone, obliterated. What do you imagine could do that to a ghost?”
“I don’t know,” said Hermione with serious concern. “There are so few substances that can harm a ghost—Hang on. Did the Baron say where this all happened?”
Ginny shook her head. “He won’t talk about it. Peeves has been hounding him all morning and he won’t even raise a finger against him. Bit worrying, actually.”
A sneaking suspicion was working its way into Hermione’s head, and she rose to leave with her roast beef sandwich untouched.
“Listen, I might need to hold onto the Marauder’s Map a little longer,” she told Ginny, hoisting her bag over her shoulder and all but sprinting out of the Great Hall.
Five minutes later Hermione was entering the Headmistress’ office, panting and greeting a surprised Professor McGonagall.
“Sorry to bother you at mealtime, Professor, but I have a rather important question,” said Hermione, noticing that while nearly all of the previous Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ portraits were either waving or winking at her, Snape’s was conspicuously empty.
“No need to apologize,” Professor McGonagall waved her off. “Tell me what this is about.”
“I was wondering if the Room of Requirement was ever assessed for reparations during the rebuilding of the castle this summer.”
Professor McGonagall looked taken aback. “I’m afraid this is the first I am hearing of that room’s continued existence. You are referring to the room which was used by Dumbledore’s army to transport members of the Order into the castle last May, am I correct?”
“In that case, Miss Granger, I must tell you that it did not figure into any of the staff’s searches of the premises. The room was believed to have been damaged beyond repair.”
“I see.” Hermione’s brow furrowed as she went over the possibilities. She knew for a fact that Ginny had used the Room of Requirement’s passageway to Hogsmead to sneak out after hours on at least one occasion. And Ginny had reported the room as seeming roughed up but generally in working order.
“Is there anything you wish to report?” Professor McGonagall asked shrewdly.
“I just have a hunch at the moment,” Hermione replied. “If I find any solid facts I’ll come straight to you.” She turned to leave. As she was about to step onto the revolving spiral staircase that would take her back down to the main corridor, Professor McGonagall cleared her throat, stopping Hermione in her tracks.
“You should know, Miss Granger,” she said, “that it is a steadfast rule at Hogwarts that the Head Boy and Girl be chosen from among seventh year students. Had circumstances allowed your career at this school to carry out normally—Well, sufficed to say that from your very first term here at Hogwarts, it had always been my intention that you should become Head Girl.”
Hermione could feel her cheeks blushing crimson, and she beamed at McGonagall as she left the office, absorbed all the way down by much happier thoughts than she had been having all day. It was for this reason, perhaps, that she failed to notice the strange shimmer surrounding the door at the end of the corridor which she believe would lead her back into the entrance hall. Once she had stepped through it she found herself, curiously enough, in a small broom cupboard filled with lemon scented cleaning products.
Shaking her head in disbelief, Hermione pushed open the cupboard door to leave and found herself standing, to her horror, on a window ledge in the owlery.
“Merlin’s pants!” she shrieked, suddenly struck with vertigo. Though her instincts were good, her hands were unable to find purchase on the window frame fast enough to prevent her from overbalancing. She was tumbling backwards, desperately reaching for her wand as the world moved in slow motion and her feet slid into open air. But her wand was in her bag, which was swinging precariously over her shoulder, slipping, slipping...
A hand grasped Hermione’s arm tightly and pulled her up through the window. It happened in a heartbeat, so that by the time she landed on her knees on the owlery floor she was completely disoriented.
“Not the best way to send an owl,” a cold voice drawled above her, and Hermione froze.
Malfoy. She forced herself to look up and sure enough there he was, towering above her and wearing a look of mild disgust so customary that she felt certain his face must simply be frozen that was permanently by this point. But he had saved her.
“Funny, I always thought that was how it was done,” Hermione shot back sarcastically, standing up and glowering at him. It was then that she realized she was still holding onto his arm—his left arm. She let go of it at once as though she had been burned, and Malfoy’s expression wavered briefly from annoyance to frustration, though the change was gone so quickly that she could not be sure it had really taken place. For a moment Hermione almost felt guilty: it was not as though the dark mark on his arm was not an ugly symbol, representative of every twisted ideal she hated most in the world; yet she could not bring herself entirely to blame him for having been branded at the age of sixteen as a result of the ideals of a horrifically misguided family. Though Ron had disagreed, and refused to participate, this was the reason she and Harry had testified on Malfoy’s behalf.
(“Look, Draco, isn’t it the Granger girl?”
“Thank you,” Hermione said. Though the words tasted strange when spoken to him, she meant them.
He nodded awkwardly before turning his back on her and busying himself with attaching a letter to a large tawny owl’s talon, not bothering to ask what she had been doing on the window ledge to begin with. Hermione puzzled at the incident which had just taken place. It could very easily have been a fatal one, had Malfoy not happened to be present. She could no longer count on both hands her brushes with death, however the prospect of danger lurking so secretively in the very walls of Hogwarts was frightening in an altogether different way. Unless she was mistaken, something had gone very much awry with the Room of Requirement.
“That was really something,” Hermione said aloud to herself, thinking of the way she had been transported seamlessly from the entrance hall to the owlery.
Mistaking her meaning, Malfoy turned to face her, flushed and angry.
“That was nothing, Granger,” he growled. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking it was. You and your perfect Potter and your precious Weasley saved my skin once, and now we’re square. That’s all.”
Hermione experienced a momentary stab of pity as she took in his distress. So no one had told him, she mused, that he owed his release from Azkaban to her and to Harry. Given his obvious aversion to being in her debt, she decided at once not to enlighten him. She merely nodded and left him alone with the owls. She was very careful to double check each door she walked through on her way back.
The feedback thread.
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Read my fanfic, Enough Trouble For A Lifetime. Chapter 25 is up!
Chapter Two - All Hallow's Eve
Potions with Malfoy later that afternoon was a tense affair. Professor Slughorn had set them the particularly difficult task of brewing Skele-Gro. Hermione busied herself with working from the notes she had made over the summer after finding Snape’s copy of Advanced Potion Making in a pile of Harry’s old things at the Burrow. She had already added in phoenix tears, and was rummaging through the store cupboard for Ashwinder scales when Zacharias Smith nudged her shoulder and leaned down to speak in her ear.
“Listen, Hermione, you’ll want to clear out your things in a minute,” Smith said. “You’re sitting too close. We’ve put something in Malfoy’s cauldron and you don’t want to get hit when it blows up.”
“What?” Hermione cried. “Who’s we?”
“Anthony and me. He lost his brother because of the Malfoys,” Smith began defensively, but Hermione seized him by the collar.
“What did you put in his cauldron?” she hissed.
“Just— just Doxy eggs,” Smith stammered.
“And did you forget that chapter seventeen of Advanced Potion Making specifically states that Doxy eggs react badly with Ashwinder scales?” she snapped, already striding past him to the back of the dungeon where Malfoy was about to drop the offending ingredient into his cauldron.
Malfoy had pointedly ignored her and avoided her gaze throughout the lesson, which Hermione had attributed to his likely questioning her sanity after having found her on a window ledge. She had not tried to explain herself, hoping that he would assume the incident had been a prank gone wrong. The result, unfortunately, was that he did not notice her shouting and waving her arms frantically at him until it was too late.
The potion exploded. Hermione had just enough time to cast a shield charm around herself, Malfoy, and Hannah Abbot, who was also nearby, before a tremendous bang resounded through the dungeon and the stone walls around Malfoy’s station were coated in a dark, venomous looking sludge. Hermione saw Anthony Goldstein vanish the Doxy eggs sitting at the bottom of Malfoy’s cauldron surreptitiously before Slughorn could make his way over in a spluttering attempt to restore order. Ernie rushed over to check that Hannah was all right, leaving Hermione and Malfoy to exchange a dark look. This was rapidly becoming a habit for them, Hermione reflected, and not one she was entirely fond of.
Unable to assess a culprit, Slughorn dismissed the class early after warning them that further disruptions would not be tolerated, and would be met with a week-long detention. Hermione could see Malfoy itching to stalk after Smith, his hand already reaching for his wand, when Slughorn called out, “Granger, Malfoy, will you stay for a moment, please?”
Malfoy looked so disappointed that Hermione wondered why he had not simply ratted out Goldstein and Smith, as had always been his style. Then it occurred to her that it was likely no one would have believed him.
“Yes, sir?” Hermioned asked, approaching Slughorn’s desk.
“Miss Granger, some quick thinking on your part there,” Slughorn commended her. “I would have expected nothing less from you, of course. Now, I was hoping I could prevail upon you to rejoin the Slug Club this year. I intend to throw together a small dinner party this Halloween. Can I count on you to attend?”
It was as though Malfoy was nonexistent. Slughorn looked right through him, beaming at Hermione. She tried to think of some excuse, but after all she had occasionally found the Slug Club enjoyable, and Ron had already announced that he would be unable to join her for the Halloween feast owing to the need to keep the store open late.
“I’d be delighted, sir,” she replied.
“Wonderful, wonderful,” Slughorn exclaimed. “Do pass my invitation on to Longbottom if you see him, will you?”
As Hermione turned to leave she heard Slughorn add, “Ah, and Malfoy. You shall need to clean up this mess before you go.”
I hope that your first day at Hogwarts has gone well and that you are taking Potions and Transfiguration as your father has instructed. I am writing to inform you that another Ministry raid was performed on the Manor this week and that several Muggle location devices originating from Borgin and Burke’s were found in your bedroom. Your father was most disappointed that your carelessness should reflect poorly upon the family, and trusts that you will be more cautious from now on.
I have included your favourite sugar mice and plum cookies.
Draco stared at his mother’s letter, delivered by an unknown barn owl over dinner, and felt numb with disbelief. His hands were still sore and covered with grime from the potions explosion in the dungeon, which had stubbornly refused removal from the walls by magical means. He was still seething from the incident, and the letter from home was doing nothing to raise his spirits. He could clearly remember his father buying him a number of the artifacts in his room in third year. He felt as though he were living in a topsy-turvy, nightmare world. Since when had the Ministry cared about Muggles? Mudbloods and half-bloods, certainly. Draco understood very well that the days when blood status counted in wizarding society were over. Yet this was a far cry from everyone losing their minds entirely and bending over backwards to accommodate Muggles. He thought back to Granger’s assessment of his family earlier that day, wondering if any of it was true.
He dared not imagine his father’s reaction if Lucius were to find out that he had saved Granger’s life in the owlery. But that debt had been his own business and no one else’s. It was done with, now, and he was not about to go looking out for her again, no matter what mad attention-seeking scheme Granger hatched next.
He looked up and there she was, staring at him from across the Great Hall, surrounded by war heroes and admirers and all sorts of riff-raff. He needed to stop being caught looking at Granger. Crumpling the letter in his fist, he stood and left the Hall without looking back.
The first Hogsmead weekend of the year took place in the middle of October, and though Harry regretfully declined to attend due to overwork, Ron owled Hermione to schedule a meeting in the Three Broomsticks.
“You look nice,” was the first thing he said when Hermione arrived and saw him standing at the bar. Hermioned beamed and kissed him before ordering two butterbeers. When Ron dove into his pocket to pay Madame Rosemerta waved him off.
“Don’t be silly, dears, your gold’s no good here,” she told them fondly. They had encountered this behaviour in nearly every shop they had visited in Diagon Alley over the summer, and while Hermione found it faintly embarrassing, Ron seemed rather pleased with himself.
“Malfoy’s not giving you any trouble, is he?” Ron asked the moment they sat down, eyeing her with much concern.
“I can take care of myself, Ron,” Hermione reminded him softly. “But as a matter of fact, no. He’s been very quiet.”
“Because you can tell me, you know—”
“I’m fine, Ron.”
She silenced him with a kiss, and the morning passed amicably between them as they visited every shop in the village from a new pub called The Pumpkin Seed to Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, which Ron displayed with great pride. Several hours later found them ambling down the main road towards Hogsmead station, unwilling to part, when they ran into Andromeda Tonks and Teddy Lupin on a visit to a local friend.
“He’s grown so much already!” Hermione remarked after greeting Andromeda, noticing the increased alertness in Teddy’s eyes. She smiled as Ron tickled the young boy, and Andromeda nodded.
“Metamorphmagi grow in leaps and bursts,” she explained. “His hair is so long already, almost to his shoulders. Dora was the same way.”
“What does it mean?” asked Ron as he continued to make Teddy giggle.
“A side effect of their ability,” Andromeda said thoughtfully. “A metamorphmagus’ abilities are not biological. They are innately connected to the witch or wizard’s magic. A particularly talented wizard who happened to be a metamorphmagus would grow to have a capacity for greater alteration to his appearance. Perhaps Teddy is simply a powerful boy.”
“The first known metamorphmagus was a Headmaster of Hogwarts in the Middle Ages,” Hermione remembered, withdrawing the first edition Hogwarts, A History from her bag a thumbing through the pages until she found what she was looking for. Ron appeared caught between joy at the success of his gift and a strong desire to roll his eyes.
“Here it is!” said Hermione excitedly, pointing to the twelfth chapter. “Barnabus Selwyn, best known for...” she trailed off, looking up in shock. “He was the creator of the Room of Requirement.”
Hyperion Malfoy sat in the dimly lit office of Headmaster Barnabus Selwyn, gazing idly at the shapes and shadows cast against the wall by the dying embers in the fireplace.
“You are certain of this?” Selwyn asked, coming to stand behind Hyperion, his long-fingered hands curling around the back of Hyperion’s chair.
“Yes,” Hyperion assured him. “I overheard Professor Elsley speaking to Elizabeth about it. Ignotus Peverell’s lost box was found in the Gryffindor common room last night.”
Selwyn’s face shone with triumph in the gloom. “Well, done, Malfoy, well done. Tell me, would you like to become a prefect some day?”
Hyperion nodded fervently.
“Then I shall need one more thing from you,” Selwyn said, opening a compartment of his desk and removing a handsomely embroidered cloak of some heavy material. “This is a very rare, very valuable cloak woven from Demiguise hair. It will conceal the wearer’s presence from prying eyes. The Gryffindor password is Antipodes. You know what you must do.”
Hyperion took the cloak and held it with reverence. “And you intend to use Peverell’s box to...”
“Never mind, Malfoy,” Selwyn dismissed him. “Just fetch the box.”
With the boy gone, Selwyn turned to the portrait of a slumbering Headmaster hung near his desk. Its occupant opened his eyes, no longer feigning sleep, and fixed a keen gaze on Selwyn.
“You heard?” Selwyn asked.
The man in the portrait inclined his head and said, “The boy is not to fail. This is an important task.”
“Malfoy will not fail,” Selwyn replied. “The box will be used to locate the Chamber of Secrets, once and for all. And your legacy, Professor Gaunt, along with mine, will be intact.”
“You realize, of course, that you will be opposed?” said Gaunt. “Your resignation will likely be demanded by the board.”
“Not to worry,” Selwyn said, “no one will know that I partake in these events. I will be well concealed. I have a plan.”
“Paris?” Hermione repeated. “What do you mean, Paris?”
It was night, and she had long since bade goodbye to Ron and returned to Hogwarts. Shaken by her discoveries of the day, she had entered the common room still muttering to herself and joined Ginny by the fire. Ginny must have misunderstood Hermione’s stricken expression, for she had pulled a sympathetic grimace and said, “Ron told you about Paris then, did he?”
“What do you mean, Paris?”
“Oh!” Ginny paled and immediately began to backtrack. “It’s nothing. I mean, I just thought for sure that he would have said something today seeing as- It’s really none of my business...”
“Ginny,” said Hermione in her most Molly-ish voice. “What do you mean, Paris?”
“My brother is such a prat,” Ginny complained, throwing her hands up in surrender. “I’m really sorry, Hermione, I shouldn’t have said anything. But Ron’s been doing so well with the Hogsmead shop that George has asked him to head the new location in Paris until Christmas holiday.”
“And?” Hermione’s voice was rising dangerously in pitch and volume, and Ginny looked a little frightened. “He’s not going, is he?”
Ginny cringed. “He is. I s’pose he didn’t want to ruin your day in Hogsmead. I’m sure he would have told you sooner or later.”
“Right,” Hermione scoffed, seizing a handful of Floo powder from the fireside and sticking her head into the emerald flames.
The ensuing shouting match between herself and Ron lasted nearly an hour. She had not fought with Ron since the previous year, since he had come back to her and Harry in the Forest of Dean. Foolishly, she had thought that their constant arguments and bickering sessions might finally be behind them. What a load of rubbish, she thought, pulling her head back into Gryffindor Tower and wiping away angry tears. Ginny appeared to have cleared out the common room to give Hermione some space, for which she was grateful. Yet the moment she tried to curl up in an armchair and sleep she found that she might be too restless ever to sleep again. She stayed up most of the night studying Advanced Potion Making, trying to come up with some way to circumvent the need for Ashwinder scales, which made the concoction taste so vile. It was a poor distraction.
“Neville,” Hermione called over breakfast the next morning, determined not to let Ron reduce her to a sobbing mess in front of the whole school as he had done in sixth year, “I was meant to tell you that Slughorn’s having a dinner party on Halloween. I was wondering if you’d accompany me, as a friend, as Ron won’t be able to go.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Hermione,” Neville muttered, staring resolutely down at his fingernails. “That sounds lovely. But Ginny already told me about the dinner. I’ll be going with Hannah.”
“That’s great, Neville!” Hermione replied, doing her best to hide her disappointment. “No need to apologize. Really, I’m very happy for you. I’ll just see you there, then.”
Three seats down, Ginny was eyeing Hermione with undue pity, the way one might have looked at Moaning Myrtle during one of her particularly aggravating fits.
“If you’re not going back to Hogsmead today you can come down to the Quidditch pitch with us, Hermione,” Ginny suggested. “First practice of the season. We’ve got to get trained up if we’re going to properly flatten Slytherin.”
For a moment Hermione was transported back to her first year, in the days when Ron had mocked her at every turn and The Standard Book of Spells: Grade One had been her only friend. Hogwarts was no longer the same without Harry and Ron.
Hermione looked up and gaped uncomprehendingly at Draco Malfoy, who was actually standing by the Gryffindor table, looking at her.
“Yes?” she asked, keeping the animosity in her voice to a minimum because Ginny was already looking tense.
“Slughorn asked me to give you this,” Malfoy said curtly, handing her a small scroll of parchment. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly when he took in the dark circles under her eyes. “Haven’t been throwing yourself out more windows, have you, Granger?”
His question blindsided her; it was too much like concern. Wary of the suspicious look on Ginny’s face, she shrugged and said, “Why so curious, Malfoy? You wouldn’t happen to have set up my little fall in the owlery yourself, would you?”
It was a low blow, given that he was the one who had saved her. But Malfoy only gave her his usual haughty glower.
“Shows what you know,” he snapped, and walked away. Everyone at the Gryffindor table began firing questions at Hermione the moment he was gone, but she was hard-pressed to pay attention to them.
She had not interacted much with Malfoy since the incident in their potions class. She had been too preoccupied with reading up on the Room of Requirement to pay him much attention at first. But as the days had worn on and no further incidents like the one on her birthday had occurred, Hermione had begun to notice his eyes one her increasingly often. She had thought, once, of asking him whether her presence was really so offensive that he could not leave her be. But an article vilifying the Malfoy family had appeared in the Daily Prophet that day, and she had not had the heart to do it. In time her conviction that he was looking at her out of some twisted pureblood contempt had dissipated, and she had come to the startling conclusion that out of all the changes at Hogwarts, the only ones that did not bother her were the ones she saw in Malfoy.
(“I’m going to ask you again. Where did you get this sword? WHERE?”
“We found it—We found it—PLEASE!”)
The night of Slughorn’s dinner arrived faster than Hermione had expected, and she found herself, quite suddenly, standing in front of a mirror on Halloween night wishing that she had refused her invitation. Her reconciliatory letter to Ron sat on her pillow, demanding attention. She had not yet been able to bring herself to send it, but knew she would do so soon. However the amount of time she had spent on her appearance seemed a little frivolous by comparison, though she thought humbly that the effect was rather nice. She had managed, after some effort, to subdue her frivolous hair into a tidy knot at the nape of her neck, and she had matched the moss green ribbon that tied it back to the color of her dress. Checking the Marauder’s Map one last time for congregations of ghosts or any other suspicious activity, she made her way to Slughorn’s office.
The expansive room had been filled to the brim with hovering pumpkins and candles which dripped blood-colored wax on the floor. Black and silver hangings covered the walls and tables, which groaned under the weight of sumptuous sweets and confections. The general effect was very impressive, and Hermione’s ears were filled with the sounds of raucous laughter and music from the moment she arrived.
“Miss Granger!” exclaimed Professor Scammander, spotting her within an alarmingly short time of her arrival and bowing extravagantly. He was wearing dress robes of outlandish red and purple, and with a flick of his wand conjured a glass of pumpkin juice, which he offered to Hermione. She declined politely and cast around for some excuse to leave, and was lucky enough to see Luna drifting in their direction with a flute of champagne in hand.
“Sir, have you met my friend Luna Lovegood?” Hermione asked, dragging Luna over to effectuate introductions.
“Indeed, I have seen Miss Lovegood’s portrait on the third floor corridor canvas depicting members of Dumbledore’s Army! Though the likeness certainly does not do her justice,” he exclaimed, bending down to kiss Luna’s hand.
“You’re very handsome,” Luna commented. Hermione gaped at her, both stunned and entertained by Luna’s frankness. Professor Scammander let out a hearty, unabashed laugh, and Hermione seized the opportunity to slip away. No sooner had she left Luna behind did she run into Ginny, who pulled her aside with a meaningful look.
“Don’t drink the champagne,” Ginny told her. “It’s spiked with veritaserum.”
“What? Who spiked it?”
“I did. Just a drop!” Ginny added quickly, seeing the look on Hermione’s face. “Listen, I’d be the last person to wish for last year’s reign of terror back. But things around here have gotten a little dull. Just let me have my fun this once.”
“I always let you have your fun,” Hermione scolded her. Suddenly Luna’s actions towards Professor Scammander made sense.
“Oi, Hermione,” exclaimed Smith, appearing at her side, “care to dance?”
“What?” Hermione asked a little more rudely than she had intended. “I—I’m a little busy at the moment.”
“Ah, come on,” Smith insisted. “Just one dance.”
“It’s already starting,” Ginny whispered, winking.
“I don’t think so,” Hermione said more forcefully. “Sorry. I, er, I just had a dance and I’m quite tired.”
Smith wrinkled his nose in annoyance, a look which did not suit him, and he attempted to take her by the hand. “What’s the matter, too good to have a little fun?”
“Funny, I don’t remember Slughorn asking you here to harass his guests, Smith,” said a cold voice, and Malfoy stepped into view. Ginny, who had been halfway to hexing Smith, visibly tightened her grip on her wand. “In fact, I don’t remember him inviting you at all.”
“What would you know about it, Malfoy?” Smith retorted. “Don’t tell me you’re one of the wait staff?”
“One of the conditions of my acceptance into Slughorn’s class,” Malfoy muttered, flushing furiously. His dress robes did indeed match the color of the wall hangings. Hermione could not understand why he was admitting to it until she saw the half empty champagne flute in his hand. Ginny’s prank was achieving widespread results.
“A waiter?” Ginny piped up. “That’s interesting, Malfoy, because none of us here appear to have drinks.”
For a moment Hermione was sure that Malfoy was about to snap. His lips tightened and his face grew, if possible, even paler than usual. Then the moment passed and with a flick of his wand he summoned a set of glasses from a nearby table, which zoomed over to the party without spilling a drop. He proceeded to stalk away into a dark corner, but not before throwing a dark look over at his shoulder at Smith, who dropped Hermione’s hand at last.
All through the room disturbances were breaking out as Ginny’s veritaserum took effect. Diluted as the truth serum was, it appeared to be affecting the guests just strongly enough so that they voiced their thoughts indiscriminately, without realizing what was happening to them. Over by the largest pumpkin in the room Slughorn was singing a song about a wizard named Odo at the top of his voice, joined by Professor Scammander and Luna. Hagrid, too, had joined the party, regaling a startled Katrice Burbage with the tale of how he had brought his brother Grawp to live in the Forbidden Forest.
“I THINK YOU’RE REALLY BRAVE AND KIND!” Hannah was shouting at Neville by the refreshments table, her hands waving through the air in frustration.
“I FEEL THE SAME WAY ABOUT YOU!” Neville shouted back, stamping his foot. “AND—Whoops! Sorry, Hermione.”
In his distress Neville had brandished his champagne a little too wildly, and a great deal of it had hit Hermione in the face.
“Never mind, Neville, it’s alright,” Hermione sighed, casting a nonverbal Aguamentia to clean her hair and return it to its bushy state, and transfiguring her stained dress back into her regular robes. “Listen, make my excuses to Slughorn if you see him, will you? I’ve had enough partying for one night.”
Neville nodded, though Hermione was not entirely sure he had heard her over Hannah’s wailing. She left Slughorn’s office in all haste, intending to head straight back to her dormitory, and caught a glimpse of black and silver dress robes trailing around the corner in the direction of the third floor corridor. Hermione had no doubt to whom they belonged, and where he was headed.
“Damn you, Malfoy,” she whispered, biting her lip. She had no desire whatsoever to go chasing after him, yet if he had entered the Room of Requirement he was almost certainly in danger. Hermione had told all previous members of the DA not to seek out the room, but had not thought to extend her warning to anyone in Slytherin.
Grudgingly, Hermione followed Malfoy down the corridor and stopped in front of the blank stretch of wall she knew well, closing her eyes and pacing.
I need to find Malfoy; I need the place where Malfoy is; I need to talk to Draco Malfoy... And if he lands me in the owlery again I’ll kill him.
She opened her eyes and there was the door, complete with the slight shimmer she had learned to recognize. Pulling it open, she took and deep breath and entered the cavernous space that had once been the Room of Hidden Things. It was almost unrecognizable. The Fiendfyre had damaged everything from the endless towers of mismatched objects to the walls themselves, leaving only ash and soot and twisted hunks of metal behind. Malfoy stood at the center of one such heap of wreckage, tracing patterns in the dust with the point of his shoe.
“I used to come here last year to escape detention with the Carrows, when Longbottom and his band of louts weren’t using it,” Malfoy said without turning around, speaking in the expressionless tone of someone under the influence of veritaserum. “Thought I might be left alone here after that pathetic excuse for a party. Guess I was wrong.”
“You... knew how the DA were meeting last year?” Hermione said incredulously.
Malfoy shrugged, still facing away from her. “How else would they have been getting around?”
“And you didn’t tell the Carrows?”
“Snape knew, I think. He kept dropping hints about how Longbottom and Weasley might be resisting us. I figured if he wasn’t going to do anything about it, the Carrows didn’t need to know.” Malfoy turned to look at her at last, taking in her disheveled appearance. “I prefer you this way.”
“You—you what?” Hermione stammered, sure she had heard him wrong.
“All that,” he gestured in the direction of the party to indicate her hair and dress from earlier in the night, “was nice. But it had nothing to do with you.”
All at once Hermione decided that she would rather the effects of the veritaserum wore off as soon as possible. Malfoy shook his head, appearing nonplussed by his own sincerity, and made to leave.
“Wait,” Hermione said, following him to the door. “Wait, you have to be careful. You can’t come in here anymore, this room isn’t stable. That’s—that’s why I was in the window at the owlery that time. It sent me there.”
“Merlin’s sake, Granger, I know this room, all right?” Malfoy snapped, throwing the door open and stepping through. Cursing, Hermione followed him and found herself in...
“The Slytherin common room?” she said, looking around in distaste at the dark, unwelcoming upholstery.
“How...” Malfoy breathed, looking back at the door to the Room of Requirement, which had now turned into a regular dormitory door. “What the hell? How do you know this is our common room, Granger?”
“Harry described it to me,” Hermione replied. “I gave him and Ron polyjuice to break in here and interrogate you about the Chamber of Secrets in second year. So now do you believe me? Don’t go waltzing into the Room of Requirement anymore, or don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
And she left, secure in the knowledge that she had had the last word.
Staff edit: max size allowed 300x300
Read my fanfic, Enough Trouble For A Lifetime. Chapter 25 is up!
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