Let's Make A Deal
Hermione was absent-mindedly walking down Fleet Street in London, her mind hundreds of miles away. She had just left a Muggle publishing company where she had started taking a correspondence course on creative writing for the summer. She couldn't seem to get the images of the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament out of her head; Cedric lying there dead and Harry sobbing, refusing to let go of his body while screaming that Voldemort was back.
Was he really back? She had to trust Harry for he was her very best mate. She wanted to write Harry and ask him questions that burned within her however, Professor Dumbledore had strictly forbade her from having any contact with Harry. Furthermore, Professor Dumbledore had sent word that a witch would be round to fetch her for the rest of the summer holiday, as it was safest for both her and her family.
She was very tired, bags were forming under her eyes and her eyelids were dark from lack of sleep. Her dreams were too intense, keeping her up all night with visions that were unwanted... or were they. Hermione spotted the tiny café which served her favourite cappuccino then briskly headed over to it. She ordered a large cappuccino and scone, taking a seat at one of the outdoor tables, her shoulders were noticeably lighter as she sat her heavy backpack down in the chair next to her. Taking a long sip she pondered whether she should see about obtaining a sleeping draft from Diagon Alley. She had tried to suffer through the last dream, only waking up in contortions. They were so intense... so vivid... so real. Why was this happening to her? If she had imagined having such dreams, wouldn't they be about Victor, or Ron, but surely not Harry! They were friends; the very best of friends, so why was her dreams filled with nothing but him... and her... alone.
Sweat was beading on her forehead, chest, and back that had nothing to do with the weather. The day was warm and sunny, perfect weather in fact. The chimes rang out from the bells of a nearby church signalling it was twelve o'clock. Hermione picked up her backpack and swung it onto her shoulders, thinking she might want to bring a few less books with her tomorrow. As she looked up the street to see which bus was in route, she noticed a tall man by a news stand staring at her. He had long blond hair and had just paid the cashier at the news stand for a couple of magazines which he tucked under his arm. He looked just like a typical Muggle, but that was the key word, looked. Something about him made Hermione's heart freeze, a nasty chill shot up her spine. Hermione kept glancing at the man who in turn, seemed as though he wouldn't tear his gaze away from her, it was almost indecent.
The bus she was waiting for had finally arrived, not nearly soon enough for her. She boarded the bus along with several other people, all bustling to get to their destinations. Hermione took a seat near a window, looking down at the corner where the tall blond haired man had been staring at her. He watched the bus as it passed by the news stand then rounded the next corner. Her concern shadowed her face as she thought what this might mean.
This must be why Dumbledore forbid her from communicating with Harry, thought Hermione. He must have suspected that she would be watched and any mail confiscated, looking for ways to get to Harry. She folded her arms about her, another chill crept up her spine as she thought of possibly how long she may have been followed before now.
When the bus reached the corner of Lintchfield and Meadow, Hermione hoisted her backpack onto her shoulder and departed the bus, looking to the left then to the right eying for suspicious characters, though none was in sight. She tried to walk normal as she made her way to number 27 Spencer Chase however, her shoulders refused to yield and remained rigid. When Hermione arrived home, she noticed her parent's car was in the garage and she wondered why they were home so early.
She proceeded round back and entered through the kitchen. Her backpack hit the floor with an almighty crash. Hermione stood there, transfixed on the smashed Sneakoscope that laid on the kitchen table. It was the one that Ron had given her at the end of term. Her heart sank as she withdrew her wand from her jean pants front pocket.
"MUM? DAD?" shouted Hermione's trembling voice.
No one answered. The house was completely silent, Crookshanks did not come running to greet her as he usually did, there was no sign of life. Hermione took a trembling step forward, scared of what she might find. Suddenly, there was a creaking noise from the sitting room.
"MUM! DAD!" shouted Hermione again as her voice squeaked.
"Ah, Miss Granger, you're home at last." said a long, sneering voice.
She jerked her wand up and pointed towards the sitting room as Lucius Malfoy stepped casually into view. He had both hands raised in a gesture of surrender, though the curved sneer on his face told otherwise.
"WHERE'S MY PARENTS!" shouted Hermione, her wand hand shaking as she pointed it at his chest.
"Safe... for now." replied Lucius calmly.
"I said, where are they!" hissed Hermione through her gritted teeth.
"Like I said before, they are safe. Now put your wand away you silly little girl." sneered Lucius, walking into the kitchen.
Hermione stood resolute, refusing to lower her wand. She was quickly weighing her options in her mind. She could give Malfoy the upper hand and lower her wand, or she could try and force him to tell her where her parents were.
"I can see you're weighing your options however, you have none, unless you wish to sacrifice your dear parents." said Lucius with a smile. "If something happens to me, your parents will be dead before you can leave this house. Of course, you'll be dead before you reach the front gate." continued Lucius as he strolled round the table.
Hermione slowly lowered her wand then looked at the floor, still seething inside. She knew that the first chance she got she would kill Lucius for this.
"That's better." said Lucius, taking her wand from her hand and pushing it back into her pocket. "Now, do not be so sad, for we have a proposition for you. The Dark Lord requests your services."
There it was, at last. Proof, undeniable proof, that Voldemort has returned. No more need to question her best mate, wondering whether or not the maze did something to him. Now, anger flooded her as this Death Eater stood before her, his great master the reason Cedric Diggery was dead.
Hermione looked up at him, "What does Voldemort want from a mud-blood?"
"How dare you speak his name you filthy little..." shouted Lucius as he struck Hermione across the face.
Hermione's face burned where he struck her and she grasped her cheeks with both hands. Tears welled up in her eyes from the pain but anger prevented her from crying.
"Now, like I was saying," said Lucius, smoothing his hair "the Dark Lord would like for you to be his informer, reporting everything you know about Harry Potter to me. Get as close to him as you can, not letting him out of your sight."
"Why not just imperious me?" asked Hermione defiantly.
"They will be looking for signs that someone has been imperiused however, you will be above suspicion, as you are a busy body and insatiable know-it-all mud-blood." replied Lucius with a smile.
"And how will I be able to contact you without raising suspicion?" asked Hermione, full of contempt.
"It's quite simple, my son is whom you will tell." replied Lucius. "He will report everything you tell him to me."
Hermione's eyes shown with hatred and disgust. She would not betray her best mate to his greatest enemies, no matter the cost. From the moment Harry said that Voldemort had returned, she wondered how long it would be before she faced the danger of death.
Then, a little voice from the back of her mind spoke inside her head, "Play along. Let them believe that you are betraying Harry to preserve mum and dad. We're smart enough to make it sound convincing, at least until we can figure out a way to rescue them. Besides, it will be the perfect excuse for why you were so close to Harry after it's over, that is, if you still need one."
Hermione closed her eyes, "If I do this; if I betray Harry, my parents will be safe, even though their Muggles?"
"Of course, the Dark Lord give you his word." replied Lucius.
"How do I know that they are still alive now?" asked Hermione, breathing hard for she dreaded asking such.
"See for yourself." replied Lucius.
Hermione opened her eyes to see Lucius pointing his wand at a mirror in the kitchen. At once, fog began to swirl within the mirror, then cleared to reveal her parents.
"MUM! DAD!" shouted Hermione as she ran to the mirror.
Hermione could see them look around oddly and heard her dad shout, "Hermione! Is that you? Where are you? We cannot see you!"
"I'm okay dad! You'll be okay! I promise!" shouted Hermione, tears flowing down her face.
"So we have a deal then." said Lucius as the vision of her parents faded from the mirror.
Hermione rounded on Lucius, hatred in her eyes. Lucius pointed his wand at her chest this time. Instinctively, Hermione had withdrawn her wand and was holding it at her side. She wanted to hex Lucius, wipe the smirk from his face. However, she knew she couldn't, not yet. She pocketed her wand and Lucius lowered his.
"Now, in the morning go to Harry and tell him how much you miss him." sneered Lucius. "I would send you now but, you look like hell and even thick headed Harry Potter would suspect something."
"Can't." replied Hermione. "Dumbledore has forbid us from even contacting Harry until he's ready for us to."
Lucius leaned in closer, so close that she could feel his breath on her face, "Well then, you'd better come up with something clever, shouldn't you." hissed Lucius. "For if I do not receive word that you are keeping your promise, then you will never see your parents alive again. Understand, Granger?"
Hermione swallowed hard then nodded in agreement. Lucius smiled sickly then pushed past her and out the back door, slamming it behind him. Hermione immediately dropped to her knees and began to sob wildly, clutching her face. She was completely unable to control herself as fear, anger, and sadness overwhelmed her. What would she do? Would she ever see her parents again? Where was the witch Dumbledore promised? Why hadn't anyone protected them? Didn't they know that surely she and Ron would be in danger too?
She stopped crying, her chest still heaving violently. Ron, of course he would be safe, surrounded by wizards and from a Pureblood family. Hatred rose again within her at the thought of that selfish, jealous git being safe and cozy, probably complaining this very moment over something stupid. Harry, however, even though he was safe from Voldemort, had to suffer living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin and was sure he would be hurt thinking that his best mates had abandoned him.
Several hours later, after three more episodes of violent sobbing, Hermione finally was able to turn off her mind for a moment and rest. She laid down on her bed, unable to think any longer of what she should do, and closed her eyes, drifting off to sleep.
She was back at Hogwarts, sitting in front of the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. She heard the portrait of the fat lady open then swing shut. Hermione turned to see whom had entered the common room which, aside from her, was completely empty. She jumped up excited to see that it was Harry, with his untidy hair, bright green eyes, wearing crooked glasses and an awkward smile. He walked over to her in front of the fireplace and chuckled softly.
She reached up and removed his glasses to repair them but he grabbed them from her then chucked them away. He swept her up into his arms and began to passionately kiss her, pulling her body close to his. She returned his passion, holding him tight, never wanting to let go. The next moment, they were bare, pressed body to fleshy body. She felt her hands going places they shouldn't and felt his doing the same.
Hermione sat up so fast her head swam, nearly getting sick. She was breathing hard, sweat pouring off of her skin, soaking the sheets. Daylight was fading away outside, soon it would be night. Without thinking, without conscious thought, Hermione knew what she must do; she had to see Harry. She knew that if she called him, he would come to her. What would she tell him, she thought.
That little voice in her head spoke again, "Tell him the truth, or at least most of it. Tell him your parents have been abducted so that you will turn on him. Tell him that Voldemort wants him to be isolated and alone. Tell him how much you care for him and that is why you cannot turn away from him. Tell him you need his help. He will not forsake you."
'What about Malfoy and her parents', thought Hermione.
"He told you to be clever, right? How clever is it then to play the part of helpless, needy, loving, Hermione. Harry will never leave someone he cares for nor let them suffer. He will strive to help and protect you. Do it now, send the Patronus to fetch him, he will come." said the voice.
Hermione had been working on casting a Patronus ever since she witnessed Harry fend off all those Dementors in their third year, however, her otter was barely visible at the best of times. 'Besides, if she cast a spell like such, the Ministry would be all over her for breaking the under-age wizarding law', she thought.
"You were ready to break the law against Lucius and besides, you've never even received a warning before. In addition, a brilliant young witch as us wouldn't be punished nearly as bad as others." said the tiny voice, then in a more mischievous tone continued, "You know you can, all you need to do is focus on him."
Hermione swallowed hard again, withdrew her wand then pointed it towards her bedroom window, concentrated on Harry's face and shouted, "Expecto Patronum!"
Something silvery shout out of the end of her wand like a cannon blast then soared out the window. Hoping she had done it right, she winced as she waited for a howler like the one Harry said he received before his second year. When twenty minutes had passed, Hermione relaxed realizing that for some strange reason, nothing was coming from the Ministry. Now she just needed to fear what Dumbledore might do.
Harry was sitting on a park swing in a little playground near his aunt and uncle's house in Little Whinging, Surrey, watching children play with their mothers and friends. It had been weeks since he had left school on the Hogwarts Express; since he had bid farewell to his friends; since Ron and Mrs. Weasley had sworn they would send for him as soon as they could. Where were all those that cared for he, Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, now? He brooded to himself as the last family left the playground, heading home to a hot meal, warm bath, and soothing bed. He had thirty chores to do before he could even think about bed.
Just as he stood to leave he saw something bright, like a tiny firefly swirling in the distance. The longer he watched it the larger it became until he realized, with a pang of fear, that whatever it was was headed in his direction. Harry began to back away as the Patronus otter landed in front of him. He stared as it opened it's mouth and spoke to him in Hermione's voice, "Harry, I need you. Come to 27 Spencer Chase, London, and hurry. PLEASE!"
Harry watched as the Patronus vanished into a puff of silvery smoke, blowing away with the wind. Was it really Hermione or was this a trap, thought Harry. That was her address but would she be there or would someone else; someone with snake-like features and scarlet eyes be there? This was no time to be a coward, he thought. If Voldemort was there, well, he'd beat him before and anything was better than just sitting around Little Whinging.
Reckless abandonment filled Harry and it felt great. He raced to his aunt and uncle's house to fetch his invisibility cloak just in case he needed it. He snuck inside, careful not to slam the front door, crept up the stairs, grabbed his cloak, then scooted out of the house before anyone was the wiser.
Walking to the corner of Privet Drive, Harry took one last calming breath then held out his wand. With a bang, a large triple decker bus appeared out of nowhere. A tall, greasy faced boy stood at the steps to the Knight Bus and tipping his cap back declared with a smile, "Look Ern, it be ou' ol' frin' Neville!"
Harry greeted Stan Shunpike and made his way onto the bus.
"Where to Ary?" asked Stan with a grin.
"Spencer Chase, London." replied Harry, taking a seat on a sofa, feeling it sink lower and lower.
"Bu' tha' be Muggle dwellin' Ary. You don' wanna go dare do ya?" asked Stan in disbelief.
Harry did not argue but just stared at Stan while biting his lower lip.
"Spence' Chase it is t'en." replied Stan. "Take id away Ern!"
With that the triple decker Knight Bus roared away, cutting through alleys and round busy streets until it came to a halt with a thud.
"Spence' Chase, London Ary." said Stan, peering cautiously out the window as though he might see something he didn't wish to.
Harry nodded then exited to the back of the bus. Once he had cleared the over-sized bus, it leapt off down the street and away, disappearing from view. Harry looked round thoroughly before tossing the invisibility cloak over him, then proceeded down the street towards number 27.
Hermione jumped when she heard an audible crack coming from down the street. She jumped to her feet in time to see out her window the triple decker Knight Bus disappear, speeding away. Her heart began to beat faster when she thought of how this could only mean that Harry had gotten her message and was now, this very moment, making his way to her home. She gazed out her window but saw nothing, as expected. If this was Harry, he would be concealed beneath his invisibility cloak, prepared to face a potential trap.
The sound of the back door opening echoed in the quiet house, reaching up to her bedroom. Hermione slowly made her way down the stairs, towards the kitchen, but saw nothing.
"Harry?" she whispered. "Is that you?"
"It's not the Bloody Baron." said Harry ripping off the invisibility cloak and stuffing it into travelling cloak.
Hermione squealed before running forward and embracing Harry round the neck then, thinking of her dream, immediately let go.
"Hermione, what's wrong?" asked Harry as he studied her face. "Great Patronus, by-the-way, but what's going on?"
Hermione broke down sobbing, Harry immediately running forward to comfort her. After a few minutes, Harry was able to calm her down, sit her at the kitchen table, then fetch her some tea which he brought to a quick boil on the stove before serving.
"Now," started Harry "can you please tell me what's going on?"
Hermione grimaced then said, "Mum and dad are gone." before breaking down again.
"Where's your mum and dad, Hermione?" asked Harry. "What do you mean gone?"
Gathering herself she said, "Abducted by Death Eaters."
"WHAT!" shouted Harry, standing up.
"PLEASE HARRY! SIT DOWN!" squealed Hermione.
Harry immediately sat back down, mouth still open in shock. Hermione gathered herself again then, told Harry almost all that had happened.
"That bastard!" seethed Harry, for Hermione had begged him not to shout. "So Lucius is holding your parents prisoner so that you'll turn on me and make me feel more alone by trying to convince me to stay quiet about Voldemort's return, aye?" Harry reached over and patted Hermione's knee. "We'll get him and Draco for this; Voldemort too."
Hermione shuddered, more at Harry touching her knee than at Voldemort's name. She felt horrible not telling him everything but, she had to do this for her parent's sake.
"Remember Harry, you cannot know any of this or they'll kill them both!" stressed Hermione.
"Don't worry Hermione, I'm good at keeping secrets... too good." replied Harry standing up again. "Tell me something Hermione," started Harry as he studied Hermione's face "why risk telling me? Why chance me not being able to keep quiet and not running to Dumbledore the moment we get back to school?"
Hermione rose to her feet, "Because I couldn't turn on you. I trust you, now more than ever. I could never hurt you. I... I..."
The last part of what she was about to say was lost as she threw her arms around Harry's neck and began to kiss him passionately. She was delighted beyond belief when he, in turn, responded the same way. For what seemed like days they stood there, wrapped in each other's embrace. She felt all her walls collapsing, all her barriers breaking, she felt free. Harry was more than just the wizarding world's savior, he was hers.
When they finally broke apart, Hermione took Harry by the hand and lead him upstairs to her bedroom. There, they sat down on the side of her bed and began to snog again. The world could take a moment, her parents were safe for she was doing as they wished, for now it was just the two of them. Harry pulled back when he felt her playing with his shirt buttons.
"I've never done this before." he stammered as she removed his glasses and sat them on her night stand.
"Neither have I." replied Hermione smiling.
With that, Harry began snogging her with excitement and passion, she could feel his desire. As he worked his way down her neck while unbuttoning her blouse, she lightly pinched herself on the arm as she pushed open his shirt, making sure this wasn't another dream.
"What the HELL is she playing at!" shouted Professor Dumbledore as he threw an ink quill across his office, smashing into the door.
"ALBUS!" shouted Professor McGonagall. "Control yourself!"
"How dare she disobey my direct orders!" shouted Dumbledore. "Did I not say to have absolutely zero contact with Harry until I said so?"
"Yes Albus, but she's not a member of the Order, she's a fifteen year old girl." replied McGonagall. "A fifteen year old girl who has suppressed a lot of feelings, apparently, for Harry."
"Couldn't she have suppressed them a little longer?" asked Dumbledore almost quizzically.
McGonagall chuckled, "Well, according to Mundungus, the way she was kissing him, if she'd kept it in any longer, she'd have broken Harry's nose."
"This isn't funny Minerva." said Dumbledore seriously. "Harry is going to need a clear mind this year."
"I cannot see Miss Granger being a negative influence on Harry. Matter of fact, it was you that said once she was his reasoning when he needed it." said McGonagall stiffly. "Are you afraid that a sense of love would make him listen to her more or less?"
"Who are we talking about again, Minerva?" asked Dumbledore, eyebrows raised.
"We are talking about Miss Granger and Mr. Potter." replied McGonagall. "NOT US!"
Without another word, Professor McGonagall stormed from the office.
Dumbledore sat and thought for a while, his hands folded as if in prayer. He must find a way to maintain control of Harry, no matter what; no matter who stood in his way.