Chapter 1 - Prima
Sitting alone in her train compartment, Hermione stared out the window at the Scottish landscape absentmindedly while she dragged her thumb across the fore-edge of the book in her hands. Truthfully, she hadn’t read the book the entire ride or in the two weeks prior to her trip when she picked it up from Flourish and Blotts. If someone were to ask her what it was about, she wouldn’t be able to tell them. She hadn’t even read the blurb on the back before she purchased it, but the sound the pages had made when she dragged her thumb across them, had produced the first ounce of genuine comfort she had felt since the day after the final battle.
A soft knock on her compartment door brought her out of her thoughts and she took a deep breath as the door rolled open to reveal a young boy -who looked to be probably in his third year- nervously bouncing on his toes as he informed her the Head’s meeting was happening now before the train was to arrive in half an hour.
With a quick thank you and a forced smile, she dismissed the boy and turned away as he left running down the narrow hall to go tell his friends about how he met war heroine Hermione Granger and it was SO fun she’s SO nice. Once the door to her compartment was safely shut and locked, she shucked off her woolen Weasley jumper and tucked it into her trunk with her denims before she donned her uniform and of Hogwarts robes. Fastening her tie and pinning her head girl badge to the front, she downed a numbing potion and chased it with a few generous sips from the small flask she kept tucked into her bra before braving the world beyond the compartment door.
“Ah Miss Granger, punctual as always” greeted professor McGonagall when she slipped into the Headmistress’ office in the first train car. “So nice to see you’ve chosen to return this year, it is a shame Mister Weasley and Mister Potter did not choose to return with you”. The professor offered Hermione a warm but tight smile and gestured with the slightest of nods for her to take her seat in one of the two chairs opposite her at her desk.
“You as well Headmistress, Harry and Ron send their regards” was all she gave in response, conversation was tedious for her nowadays since she knows everything everybody says before the words come out of their mouth.
“Of course” the headmistress nodded in acknowledgement, pursing her lips in at her short reply which really wasn’t necessary since her disappointment was rolling off her in waves. “Well the head boy should be arriving momentarily and then we can begin our portion of the meeting before we call in the prefects”. As the words left McGonagall’s lips, the door to the compartment slid open with an obnoxious squeak that grated on every one of Hermione’s remaining nerves.
She instantly confused when Ernie didn’t immediately commence his usually babbling, so she turned herself in her chair to see if he had actually walked into the compartment or if someone had just opened the door in passing. She barely managed to keep her jaw from falling open in confusion when her gaze met a pair of cold steel coloured eyes instead of the warm chocolate ones she had anticipated.
“Mister Malfoy thank you for joining us to promptly, as I’m sure Mister Weedly informed you our previous candidate for head boy Mister Macmillan last minute decided to withdraw himself from the Head position for personal reasons.” The headmistress surprisingly greeted Malfoy just as warmly as she had greeted the Golden Girl herself moments earlier, at which Hermione’s jaw did fall open in shock. The professor didn’t even like Malfoy before he almost killed Dumbledore and let death eaters into the school -not that she held it against him- so seeing the headmistress be so nice was flooring.
Trying her best to reign in her emotions and put an end to what she is confident was a very impressive impersonation of a goldfish, she turned back to face the headmistress as Malfoy took the seat next to her without a word. As he sat, Malfoy nodded once to Hermione in greeting meeting her eyes so briefly it might have not even happened, then turned his attention to the headmistress.
Malfoy came back to Hogwarts? He’s head boy? How? Why did Ernie drop out last minute? Why is Malfoy acting so calm? They’re being so pleasant to one another? Her internal monologue was running rampant with a million questions as she listened to the Headmistress ramble on about the head duties and expectations and such. Out of her peripheral vision, she watched Malfoy sit and listen to McGonagall talk. He seemed different but she couldn’t figure out why. He still had that same aristocratic air about him that only someone born with more money than they could possibly spend in 4 lifetimes had but he seemed less arrogant and more sullen, if she were the type to believe in divination and auras she would think his had gotten significantly duller since she’d last seen him at his trial.
Summer 1998 – Trial of D.L. Malfoy
“Miss Granger, I must express my shock to yourself and the wizengamot in regards to seeing your name on the list of character witnesses. You are a recipient of an Order of Merlin First class, why are you vouching for Mr. Malfoy’s innocence when he bears the dark mark?” The prosecution’s attorney was in front of the podium looking up at Hermione where she stood in her Ministry appropriate pencil skirt and blouse. She wobbled a bit on the blasted heels Ginny had forced her to wear and non-verbally cast another stabilizing charm before turning her attention to the prosecution.
“Well, sir, if you had listened to the introduction that the defense presented a few moments ago you would know that I am in fact not here to vouch for Mr. Malfoy’sinnocence.” Hermione could not help but give a stern glare to the prosecuting attorney, he really was quite terrible, he hadn’t even introduced himself to the court by name and he had spent the last 10 minutes thinking solely about his blasted shoes. “If you had been paying attention to something other than the scuff on your left shoe that nobody would have noticed had you not been staring so intently, you would have heard that I am in fact here to vouch that Mr. Malfoy should not be punished for the crimes he committed as a minor who was suffering under emotional duress and the threat of death.” Fixing him with another glare, -who had the decency to look sufficiently scolded- she began collecting her blazer jacket and briefcase before she turned to nod respectfully at the Wizengamot and then to Malfoy where he sat in the cage in the middle of the courtroom before she walked out of the room.
Present – September 1, 1998
The train arrived at Hogwarts as the sun was setting on the horizon. Hermione took the liberty to take another numbing potion and a calming draught in the thestral carriage. So many more people can see them now than before the war she thought absently, absorbing all the thoughts of students around her who’s opinions on the creatures ranged fromscary and ugly to ethereal. With a snort to herself, she wagered a guess that that last opinion came from a Hufflepuff as she made sure her flask was safely tucked into the cup of her bra when the carriage came to a halt. Taking one last deep breath and preparing herself for what awaited her outside of the carriage, she swing the door open and stepped out.
“Mione! There you are!” In a flash of red hair and freckles Ginny came running up and looped their arms together, leaning dramatically on her shoulder as she whined “Why didn’t you sit with Luna, Neville and I for the carriage ride? Neville got all sad about it being our last first day and then Luna started on about how his negative attitude was going to attract Narglesof all things and then she tried to give me one of those bloody butterbeer cork necklace things! I mean you know I love Luna with my whole heart but I just cannot-”
“Ginny” she cut her off, knowing she would go on the entire walk to the great hall if she didn’t stop her. “If I promise to give you the password to my head’s dorm so you can use the Floo to secretly visit whichever famous quidditch player you’re currently shagging on weekends, will you stop whining?” At the mention of secret rendezvous with her latest rebound, Ginny snapped her mouth shut and walked silently. When Hermione risked a glance to her fiery-haired friend she stopped walking at the sight of her self-satisfied smirk.
“That was your plan all along wasn’t it?” she stated more than asked. At Ginny’s laugh, she shook her head with a sigh. Resuming their walk to the great she glanced over at her friend again, she looked so happy, the two made eye contact.
Looking at Ginny was a mistake, such a bloody mistake. Does she ever think about anything other than shagging? Do people actually shag bent out of sorts like that? It can’t be comfortable. There isn’t enough numbing potion and alcohol in all of Wizarding London to rid me of that memory. Merlin have mercy somebody obliviate me.
Draco walked into the great hall feeling nothing but indifference. His classmates wore a variety of expressions including nostalgia, sadness, reminiscence and the likes but all he felt was blank and occaisonally angry. The feeling of danger that had swept into his life with the Dark Lord had never gone away even after his death, and so neither did Draco’s occlumency safety net. Taking his seat across from Blaise and Theo between Goyle and Pansy, he offered his friends a nod of acknowledgement before turning his eyes down to his empty plate and resuming his thoughts.
He would have bet all the money in his vaults that he had felt the probing of legilimency earlier if he didn’t know that was impossible. He knew for a fact that McGonagall wasn’t a legilimens, and Granger was a talented witch -he’d never tell her that of course - but legillemency didn’t agree with those who weren’t naturally inclined to the charm. Maybe it’s just paranoia he reasoned with himself, there’s no more Dark Lord nobody wants to read your sodding mind anymore. After his internal scolding, Draco turned his attention back to his friends where they were talking about the school year.
“Aye Malfoy are you going out for quidditch this year?” Blaise brought him into the conversation when he realized he had pulled himself from his thoughts. When he just gave a noncommittal shrug in response, Blaise continued “I overheard a bunch of 5thand 6thyears on the train that were on the team before take bets that you were gonna be captain.”
“Well I suppose I can’t disappoint the kiddos now can I?” Draco plastered on a smirk as he spun his wand between his fingers. The thought of getting on a broom for no reason other than fun for the first time in two years should have sent a jolt of excitement through him, but all he felt was not-angry. “Plus-” he continued to his friends, his smirk growing as he spoke “with no more boy-who-lived-then-died-then-broke-his-glasses-then-lived playing for the Gryffindorks, we’ll take the quidditch cup for Slytherin before the rest of those dopes have even mounted their brooms.”
The three boys sitting with him all clapped him on the shoulder and cheered for their soon-to-be captain, drawing the attention of other tables in the hall. When his gaze roamed from his friends to the others sitting at the various tables, they immediately met a pair of honey-brown eyes at the Gryffindor table. He would recognize those eyes anywhere, they starred in almost every one of his nightmares. Burned into the back of his eyelids since he saw them staring up at him from the floor of his drawing room that day.
Something about Hermione’s eyes set the hairs on the back of his neck standing up, they looked tired and pained, red rimmed with the glossy finish that he recognized from when he used to use Firewhiskey to numb the pain of one too many cruico’s in a row. When theirs eyes met, Draco was certain he felt the prodding of legilimency against his occlumency walls again at the base of his skull. Narrowing his eyes and lifting his lip into a sneer, he broke their eye contact and turned his attention to removing Pansy from where she had latched herself to his side like a barnacle.
With an exasperated grunt he managed to dislodge her nails from his bicep and take his leave from the table to make his way to the Head’s dorm for some reprieve. Today has been bloody long and I don’t intend to experience anymore of it, well at least definitely not with my wits about me.With the thought of getting lost in the bottom of a very deep bottle, he sauntered through the halls, not caring in the slightest that he was missing the sorting or McGonagall’s welcome speech.
“Georgia Plumbly” A small blonde girl with oversized robes took her seat on the stool, her wide eyes scanning the room anxiously as the Sorting hat was placed on her head. The hat didn’t cover her eyes soon enough, and Hermione was unfortunate to make eye contact in time to witness the young girl beg to be put in Hufflepuff because all the other houses are way too scary. The hat obliged and the girl made her way to her new table sporting her newly yellow tie.
About four students later – 2 Ravenclaws, a Slytherin, and a Gryffindor- Hermione completely zoned out of the sorting, clapping absently when Ginny did next to her. Instead she opted to let her mind and eyes wander to all the students around her.
Another bloody Slytherin great.
I wonder if I’ll get in trouble if I transfigure my skirt shorter.
What if I can’t figure out the riddle to get in the common room?
How do the elves always make the pumpkin pasties so good?
I wish Seamus would notice me, I learned new glamour charms so he would.
Maybe Daphne would be down for a first-day-at-Hogwarts shag.
Hermione snorted aloud at that thought which was practically projecting itself at her from Theodore Nott at the Slytherin table. Her outburst earned her a confused look from Ginny and a dreamy absent smile from Luna, both of whom she smiled apologetically at before continuing her scan of the room. There were more of the same thoughts. Blaise was wondering if he could hustle some more galleons out of Goyle at exploding snap before the git caught on, and Pansy was wondering if Drakey-poo had noticed that she changed her perfume. That last one earned an eye roll from Hermione. When she made eye contact with Malfoy however, there was nothing, not even a whisper of a thought it was just quiet. He broke their eye contact with a sneer in her direction before he left the Great Hall completely.
Turning her attention back to her friends that sat around her, she tried her very best to focus on the words coming out of Neville’s mouth and ignore that he was absently singing the bloody sorting hat song in his head. Lovely that’s definitely going to be the soundtrack to my dreams tonight thanks Nev.
The walk back to her Head’s dorm immediately after dinner was hell, her numbing potion had worn off a good 20 minutes ago and the effort to not pass out or scream was causing sweat to pour down her back and bead on her forehead. With the numbing potions, reading everyone’s minds isn’t so bad; mostly annoying and a little uncomfortable when you learn things you don’t want to. Without the numbing potions however it was agonizing, the pressure of being bombarded by the complete consciousness of everyone she made eye contact with was enough to make her consider turning her wand on herself.
Praying Malfoy was in the Slytherin common room or literally anywhere but their shared dorm, she quickly whispered the password primrose to the portrait and practically threw herself into the common room before she rushed to the three doors on the left side of the room to find the one with her name on it.
Falling into her dorm in her haste to get behind the safety of closed doors, Hermione threw her sweat-soaked robes off into a pile on the floor and rummaged through her trunk to find a potion, any potion. Grasping the vial of lavender coloured dreamless sleep she downed it, not caring that it was barely 8 in the evening. Climbing into her bed still in her skirt and camisole, she barely had time to kick her shoes off before falling into a state of blissful unconsciousness.
She’s finally gone barmy Draco thought to himself as he sat on one of the sofas in their shared common room. He’d been peacefully watching the bluebell flames in the fireplace nursing a very old bottle of Dragon Barrel Brandy he had swiped from the Manor’s cellar when the crazy bint had come running in all sweaty and looking like she’d been chased by a group of Hags.
Whatever, sooner she goes as Looney as Lovegood the sooner I never have to hear her swotty little voice and I’ll get the whole head’s dorm to myself. The thought of Granger wandering the halls barefoot with Loony brought a sardonic smirk to his lips. He took another swig of brandy from the bottle as he imagined the two talking utter nonsense ”why Luna I don’t believe the nargles are nearly as bad as the wrackspurts this time of year, wouldn’t you agree?” The thought of Granger uttering any of those words made him snort as he continued to drink himself into a stupor in front of the fire.
It was still dark out when Draco woke up, no surprise there. What was a surprise was that it wasn’t a nightmare that woke him up this time. The copious amounts of alcohol he’d had before retiring to his room had ensured the nightmares wouldn’t wake him, meaning he was extra confused as to why he’d abruptly gone from dead asleep to wide awake in less than a heartbeat. His question was answered quickly as an ear-piercing scream broke the silence of the nighttime.
“No, please, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never been to your vault. Please, please ,PLEASE, NO!” he seriously considered casting a silencing charm over her room and leaving her to her nightmare, but he knew what she was dreaming about and since he couldn’t change his actions -or lack thereof- of that day, he might as well save her from her nightmare seems only fair.
Picking up his wand and making his way out into the hall, Draco opened her bedroom door and stood at the threshold. He uttered a quiet augmenti and angled his wand towards her so the cold water hit her square on the face and chest. Immediately Granger stopped screaming and sat up, looking confused and fairly pathetic with tear-stained cheeks. It was enough that he almost wanted to comfort her, almost.
“W-what the fuck Malfoy?” She stuttered, clearly not putting the pieces together in her head very quickly.
Leaning against her door frame, he smirked. “Next time you decide to have a nightmare Granger, try casting a silencing spell first so that the rest of the world can get to sleep instead of listening to you screech like a banshee.” He wasn’t sure why he said what he did, he of all people knew what it was like to have nightmares about the war. She’s just so bloody annoying its impossible to be nice; with her stupid frizzy hair and those stupid giant teeth and her nipples showing through her wet t-shirt -wait-
Cutting himself off and shoving that thought very far to the back of his mind, he turned on his heel to return to his room, leaving a very wet, very confused Hermione staring at the space in her doorway he had occupied.
When she woke up the next morning, Hermione was still wet as her sleep potion had knocked her out again not too long after Malfoy had woken her from her nightmare. Her teeth chattered together as she reached for her wand to check the time 5:18 great I only have 3 hours to kill before classes today she thought with a roll of her eyes.
With a heavy sigh and a mental curse at Malfoy for probably giving her a cold now that she had slept in wet blankets, she rolled out of bed and made her way to the bathroom to warm up with a shower. When the scalding water rolled over her shoulders and down her body, she felt the ache and tension in her muscles melt away. Hermione had never liked the mornings but lately she couldn’t help but love the quiet, nobody else was ever awake as early as she was and it gave her psyche a reprieve from the daily assault.
Standing in the shower, she allowed her mind to wander to her latest dilemma that was her uncontrolled ability to read every single person’s thoughts without discretion. It had been entertaining for all of 5 minutes until it turned to the months-long headache it now was. She had broken up with Ron after accidentally viewing a sex dream he had about Pansy bloody Parkinson of all people and had promptly dumped him the next morning. She wanted nothing to do romantically with Ronald I-have-sex-dreams-about-Pugface-Parkinson Weasley, so she ended the relationship with an agreement to still be friends and moved out of the Burrow and into Grimmauld Place with Harry. That peace had lasted all of one day before Hermione had caught a preview of Harry’s daydream that made it difficult for her to look him in the eye even now. However, his breakup with Ginny had made a lot more sense afterwards.
Letting out a frustrated groan she leaned her forehead against the shower wall as she thought about all the things she had learned about people that she wished could be obliviate’d from her brain. There were days when she actually considered lobotomizing herself with her wand, especially the day she had made the mistake of making eye contact with Hagrid when Harry asked him about Madame Maxime. The memory made her shudder in horror.
The problem wasn’t that she didn’t want to be a legilimens, but that she literally could not turn it off, one millisecond of accidental eye contact and Hermione had a glance at every internal thought the person had for an uncontrollable amount of time even after she looked away. Not only was it exhausting using this much magic accidentally all the time, but the onslaught of multiple people’s conscious thoughts at once was enough to give any witch a killer headache. Numbing potions only lasted so long and she’d had to start brewing her own because the healers at St.Mungos accused her of being an addict weeks ago.
She hadn’t disclosed her issue with anybody, scared they would be offended or angry that she was reading their minds without consent or worse that they would think her incapable of handling a legilimens charm. All in all, Hermione was fucked and there weren’t enough substances in the world to make that better, but damn if she wasn’t going to try.
Getting out of the shower, she checked her wand for the time -6:02 fantastic- before she went about fixing her hair with a drying charm and a quick crinus muto to semi straighten her hair into a manageable wave texture. Making her way back to her room meant walking past Malfoy’s door which was very much closed and silent, suggesting he was still fast asleeplucky prat gets to wake up warm and dry unlike I did.
Once she was dressed in her skirt and blouse, she figured with over an hour until classes, she had time to brew another batch of numbing potion before she was expected to make an appearance at breakfast. Another glance at the clock when she was about done brewing gave Hermione an idea that brought a wicked smile to her lips.