1. The Safehouse
Her hair looked like it had experienced some form of electric shock, as it stood on end and messily strewed down her blood-stained cheeks, giving her some kind of warrior-woman look. Hermione felt the way McGonagall looked. Tired. Wrecked. Sore.
How could Malfoy have pulled out at the last minute? He let Death Eaters into the castle, then, at the final second when Dumbledore offered him help, after he'd drawn cuts across the school that would leave scars, he took the offer. Was Dumbledore a fool? The Death Eaters still managed to get inside the castle and cause far worse damage than if Malfoy alone had of just blown some shit up and got on with assassinating the Headmaster.
"Well its the only place for you. I suspect by now the Death Eaters would have told You-Know-Who of Draco's betrayal. Malfoy is now at-risk of being caught along with all three of you. I've discussed it with Moody, you're leaving now," she stated.
"What? What safehouse?," Harry demanded.
Hermione looked over at him, a distraught look wrinkled his face. Though he was only 16, he looked so much older due to the stresses of having to stay alive when Voldemort was constantly after him, that and the fact he'd just returned from a battle.
"Dumbledore has one in Ireland. I will not discuss it further Potter. He has taken Malfoy there now, you will meet the boy and take care of him," McGonagall said firmly to Harry, but as she finished her sentence, her eyes strayed over towards Ron, then Hermione. 'Take care of him', McGonagalls eyes bled to Hermione.
What was she going to do? Bottle feed him and change his diaper every two hours? She would already be busy taking care of Harry and Ron, and now McGonagall was dumping a 16 year-old (now) former Death Eater into her arms as well.
"Well, will there be anyone else there?," Hermione asked desperately.
"No, only you five. Dumbledore created his own Portkey under the eye of the Ministry to go to this location. Even i do not know where it is as my knowing could compromise it. Only Dumbledore knows, and he insisted you all should not know either as it could be breached in the future, and he insists he needs it to kept hidden as its one of the most safest houses in all of Europe," McGonagall explained. Her voice seemed fluctuated- scared.
The fear of letting these mere children go was overwhelming, yet, Dumbledore's orders were that that she could not disobey. McGonagall swept her eyes towards poor Hermione. She looked like she was going to vomit in her seat. Her face was pale, streaked with blood from herself and others. She store into abyss- into oblivion. It was one thing for McGonagall to fear for others, but when Hermione was the one that was entering the unknown, it felt like she was signing her Death Certificate.
"That pencil cup is the portkey," McGonagall added quietly, fiddling with her fingers in her lap, "it is due to leave in three minutes."
And there it was. The certainty of death that radiated around the four of them. Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny. All of them would soon go somewhere they'd never been before, to live for an uncertain amount of time.
It was a daunting thought, and Hermione hated it. She would have to tell her parents that there was a chance she wouldn't come home. She looked at Ginny and Ron. They wouldn't even have time to say goodbye to their families. Was this really the cost of war? It felt like a iron sword that was on fire was being scolded down Hermione's throat. She didn't want them to have to say goodbye to their family. Ginny was only 15. She needed her mother. She was too strong to show the bitter feelings hat she held deep down, though Hermione knew as soon as they arrived at the safehouse she would disappear into a room and let her feelings loose.
"What about Dumbledore?," Harry asked, looking at McGonagall. He looked furious. Hermione knew he hated being in hiding. Dumbledore forced him to do it every holidays at the Dursleys, then the past year when they had been forced to stay in Grimmauld Place. He wanted action. He wanted to do some good. The guilt he felt was too overriding, and Hermione knew that it could potentially be the thing that ruined him. He didn't think, he just fought.
"Dumbledore's plans are confidential to himself and Moody, Potter. Even I know nothing," she said. Her voice was soft. Hermione presumed she was tired and distraught to the fact that she was about to say goodbye to students she'd treated like her own children, especially Harry.
"Why can't we know where we're going? What if something happens and we get stuck there?," Ron asked. His face was the only one that was bleeding scarlet from the blush that inhabited his freckled cheeks. He store at McGonagall, chin out and furious as he always did when he was angry.
"Like I said, Weasley, Dumbledore knows where it is, and we must trust him," McGonagall reminded.
"And what if he gets killed! What if we're stuck there without any information!," Ron shouted.
"Then you'll stay!," McGonagall said firmly, glaring at Ron, staring with a look that told him to not dare speak any further. "I need to trust that you'll all follow orders. Malfoy's betrayal will no doubt anger Voldemort. He'll be more ruthless than ever, and that means he'll want to come after you four, not just Harry. You think if he manages to capture one of you that he won't use you like bait to lure out Harry! He'll take you with greed! He'll keep you alive until he either has the Order secrets or Harry, then he'll kill you without a second thought! You must stay there and do whats told, Ron! That house is the absolute safest place for you. You'll be given information when it is necessary. Other than that, you'll stay. You won't stray past the boundary and you'll stay hidden, and most importantly, alive," McGonagall yelled.
Ron didn't say anything else. No one did. Ginny held his hand so tightly her knuckles were growing white. Harry store at the ground. Hermione felt the color drain from her face. She felt queasy and weak. The thought of leaving everything cut deep like she was a fish being gutted. She knew that this was something that would happen eventually. She knew that Dumbledore would want them to hide away from Voldemort and protect Harry, and she, along with Ginny and Ron had vowed to die for him if it came to it. She wondered whether Dumbledore would ask the same of Draco. Was Malfoy even worthy of trust? Afterall, it could be a taboo that Voldemort created so that Malfoy could gather information and report back to Voldemort.
But it was Dumbledore's trust. He was right about Snape, who ended up stunning Bellatrix Lestrange and curing Neville during the battle, even in front of his Death Eater comrades. She had trusted Dumbledore all throughout her life at Hogwarts, even pushed Harry and Ron to confide in him, she couldn't betray him now. Hermione knew that Dumbledore's choice was wise. While Voldemort would indeed be mad with the Malfoy's, and more than likely kill Narcissa and Lucius, they now had Draco, who could tell Dumbledore and the Order the inner-workings of the Death Eaters.
"Thirty seconds to go," McGonagall said. Her voice was cold and scared.
"Tell mum we love her," Ron said after a few seconds. He store at McGonagall. Maybe she should ask for a message to be sent to her parents too?
"Professor. I- I need you to do something," Hermione said quietly. She knew that doing what she planned to do was something she vowed to herself after Sirius had died, and now she was unable to complete the action herself, she needed someone else to do it for her.
"Anything, Hermione," McGonagall said in a low voice.
"Obliviate my parents. The Death Eaters could catch them and kill them. I don't want them harmed. Obliviate them so they forget that they ever had a daughter. I don't want them freaking out over why I didn't come home. Please, Professor," Hermione said.
"Of course, Hermione. I'll visit them tomorrow," McGonagall reassured, "Now please, everyone put their hands on the cup," she said. With her words, Hermione felt a wave of both relieve and fear strike through her. She took a breath in, possibly the only movement she could have made from that point, then slowly moved her hand towards the cup.
She wrapped her hand tightly, forcing her eyes tightly shut. She felt the fingers of Ginny, Ron and Harry, though she couldn't distinguish whose was who.
"Good luck," McGonagall said.
Suddenly, Hermione felt herself being thrown downwards, as though she was being sucked into a black hole. She kept her eyes shut tight as the world around her spun like a spinning wheel. Then suddenly, the motion stopped, and she fell against the ground.
Hermione threw her eyes open to find herself in some kind of sitting room. There were quaint looking couches, and a wide window that gave the view of a muggle car highway far past a long field. She looked around and saw Harry, Ron and Ginny getting up roughly from the floor. Ginny, who was beside her, helped her stand up.
She looked around the room. The walls were white, and everything was clean and tidy. Hermione glanced towards an archway that led to a different room. Standing in front of it was Malfoy.
His face was more pale than it had ever been before, extenuating the purple that shone from underneath his eyes. He looked up at them, expressionless. Hermione couldn't read him. He looked relieved, yet weakened and terrified.
"Malfoy," Harry said. It wasn't the usual bitter spite that he normal spat, but a more sincere surprise.
"Harry," Draco said. Hermione was shocked. It was the first time she'd ever heard them speak so civilly, even if there was still had stifling sense of what Malfoy had done lingering in the air. "I'm-".
"Save it, Malfoy," Harry said quickly. He wasn't fighting, but in a more telling voice. Malfoy closed his mouth immediately. "Why now, huh? You taunt us for all those years, join the Death Eaters but all of a sudden when Dumbledore offers you salvation at the last moment you suddenly decide to take it?"
Draco paused. Hermione could tell he knew the answer, it was just so hard to admit that he had been wrong. "I... It was so hard, Potter. It was something that you cannot understand nor imagine. I was bound so tightly. People watched my every move. My parents begged me to stay- to not destroy the family name."
"I think its a bit late for that," Ginny said bitterly.
Draco ignored her. "You don't have to like me, Potter and frankly i don't expect it. I'm not here to play nice and make friends."
"Then why are you here?," Harry pushed, "all your family are on that side, all you've ever known is there, so why did you leave?"
Draco paused, breathing deeply. His eyes cast upon Hermione. They didn't look away.
"Harry, I think you're tired. We all need to sleep," she said, looking away from Draco to say to Harry. There was a somewhat dirty look now appheaving his face. He looked down at Hermione a drew a breath, calming his face and withdrawing the anger.
Hermione could tell that there was still a great urgency of brutality between the boys. Harry hated Malfoy, but not as much as Ron did. The ginger boy stood jaw-clenched, knuckles white and fuming at Malfoy. Hermione understood their anger. He put them through hell, so why should they give Malfoy for one grateful action after so many terrible ones?
Hermione couldn't bring herself to hate Malfoy. She resented him and was angered by his past, but something about the bravery and courage it took to accept Dumbledore's help said something to her. He was no longer afraid of being the boy who stood under his fathers shadow, or the boy too cool to admit he needed help. He had taken Dumbledore's offer. Dumbledore. A man Hermione trusted. She wasn't going to break that trust, not anytime soon.
Hermione could see Harry wanted to budge, but was struggling it with presence of Malfoy, as he usual tried to out-do or offend the blond as much as humanly possible in his surrounding. Harry had always been on his guard around Draco. Hermione figured he wasn't going to be any different now.
"What did Dumbledore tell you about this place?," Hermione asked Draco, using the question to pressure Harry away from his prejudice.
"It belongs to Aberforth. He said the boundary runs far. He's used a Fidelius Charm to keep it under wraps," Draco said.
"Who is the Secret Keeper?," Harry asked. His voice was sharp. Hermione knew that the Fidelius Charm had led to the deaths of his parents, as James had put his trust in the wrong person. Hermione knew Dumbledore would never put his faith in the wrong hands, but also couldn't blame Harry for his abruptness, it was afterall how Lily and James had died.
"Moody," Malfoy said. Harry didn't say anything- a sign of approval. "Its roughly around a hundred acres and it goes into the ocean. He said that someone from the Order would check up on us in about a week."
"So you've got a week to gather all our secrets and intelligence and run," Ron hissed. Hermione store daggers at him. He was still glaring at Draco, even more red-faced than ever. She knew that if they were going to be stuck here for an uncertain amount of time that they needed to cooperate and get along. Ron was going to make it his mission to make sure that didn't happen.
"Ron, he's on our side now. Dumbledore trusts him-," Hermione said calmly.
"Dumbledore might, but i sure dont!," Ron lathered. Malfoy store coolly at him, as though every insult that Ron spat simply hit him and slid down his chest, like he was wear a thick iron suit that protected him from the meaning of words.
"Ron!-," Hermione snapped.
"Don't bother, Granger," Draco put out his hand to wave off Hermione. Her jaw was slacked open, but quickly shut as Draco took a step towards Ron. "I've never been good. I've never been nice. But I don't want to be evil. You can either accept it or don't, Weasley. I won't dictate your life, but you can't expect to dictate mine," his words were like a fine silver dagger that stabbed Ron straight in the chest.
"Whatever," Ron mumbled, "I'm going to find a room, i'm bloody tired," he said, whomping off towards the archway. The room felt like the walls were pouring with blood from the tensity that laid within. Harry sighed, saying that he'd better be off with Ron, then Ginny after him.
Then, Hermione and Draco were the only ones left in the room. She watched as Ginny left, and took a deep breath out, turning and facing Draco. He still held the fierce barrier of his underlying emotions close, effectively turning off his feelings. Hermione suddenly wanted to cry.
Today, her childhood had died. Hogwarts was now nothing but a school she used to attend. The battle and aftermath was like a ceremony, leading her from kid-hood into the adult world, where things like death and finance existed. The outer shell that hid her away from it all had been stripped away in the battle. Every spell she fired, every curse she sent with force, it all refracted and killed the child Hermione had once been.
She'd watched people get hurt. She'd seen blood and gore beyond what any human should have seen. And it was that sight that locked her outside of the gates of childhood. A kingdom that ran free and wild, that played in dirt and liked to joke around like the Weasley twins.
Everything she'd ever known. Everything she'd ever been was now gone. She was no one. She was nothing. She'd been thrown into the deep endless ocean of adulthood. And she hated it.
"I'm sorry," Draco said. Hermione gazed at him, stunned.
"Wh- What?," she sniffled.
"For what its worth, i'm sorry," he repeated. Draco didn't hover. He swept quickly from the room, leaving Hermione in a confused trance. God, she hated adulthood.
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