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Eighth Year



Draco Malfoy was not doing anything to help himself. It was all Hermione could think about from her bench in the Wizengamot chamber. He was slouching in the spike lined cage, eyes heavy lidded, like his own court proceedings were boring him to death. Kingsley would ask a question and his eyes would flick over the newly appointed minister with disinterest only to utter a curt answer and return to looking at the back wall of the room. 

Hermione’s hands clenched and unclenched in her lap. She couldn’t tell if he simply didn’t care what happened to him or if it was his own Malfoy arrogance that kept him from improving his chances at freedom. Probably the latter. Because in what universe would Draco Malfoy beg and grovel for anything?

He was wearing Azkaban prison clothing, shadows under his eyes and a gauntness to his face that made him look sharper, colder. Which was impressive, because he always looked sharp and cold to her. Like she could slice her hands on him.

She hadn’t seen him since the final battle, where he was arrested by Aurors despite the fact that he defected and fought on their side at the end. When Voldemort was dead and all was said and done, he went willingly. Hadn’t apparated away like nearly all the other death eaters. 

And so Hermione and Harry were here at his trial. They had given their testimonies as to what he did for them at Malfoy manor and how they witnessed him turn on the death eaters at Hogwarts. Hermione hadn’t forgiven him, still hated him really. But she had enough of watching lives be ruined. And she didn’t think him evil. Awful and cruel, but not evil.

Kingsley's voice boomed through the chamber to deliver the final verdict. Her breath stuttered. “Draco Malfoy, due to your unwilling participation in death eater affairs, you will be placed on one year of probation in lieu of prison time. You will instead, return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to complete your education. Your wand will be returned to you upon arrival at the school and its activity monitored by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Any violence directed towards students or faculty alike will be brought up as violations of your probation and could result in your immediate imprisonment. Are these terms clear?”

Hermione tried not to look at him for what felt like the thousandth time and failed. But this time he was looking back at her. His eyes were unreadable and she felt speared to the spot, unable to look away.

“Yes.”

 


 

“Golden Trio Returns to Hogwarts!”; “Lucius Malfoy’s Son Escapes Dementor’s Kiss”; “Death eater Student Allowed Back to School !” 

Hermione folded up the daily prophet until the headlines were no longer visible and moved her gaze to the Scottish countryside, currently speeding by her train compartment window. She always loved the train ride to Hogwarts. The anticipation, the coziness of settling into a compartment with her two best friends. But this time, the excitement wasn’t enough to ease the ever-present knot of anxiety in her chest. It had taken up residence there the night of Bill and Fleur’s wedding and hadn’t let up since. Not even after Tom Riddle fell and the world went safe again.

“It’s mental is what it is,” Ron grumbled. “Allowing him back.” 

Hermione didn’t have the energy to argue the point with Ron anymore. She had explained to him the need for forgiveness, for normalcy, many times over the Summer, but like with a lot things, they fundamentally disagreed with each other and she was too tired, too anxious, to make her case again.

Instead, she gave him a small shrug of her shoulders and returned to looking out the window. Harry, seemingly relieved to not have to play mediator today, patted Ron on the shoulder and returned to whispering with Ginny. She supposed she and Ron were supposed to be whispering to each other as well, wrapped up in their own little world, but her and Ron didn’t survive the Summer and neither of them were quite sure where to go from there. 

The train whistle sounded, loud and shrill as she caught sight of Hogsmeade in the distance. “We’re here,” she whispered, but she wasn’t sure if anyone heard her.

 


 


“Just ignore her. I do.” 

Malfoy’s voice was lazy and arrogant, so fitting of his personality. Hermione could hear Astoria Greengrass’ tittering laughter respond to the head boy as she closed the portrait behind her. It had been a week since the school year started and a week since she had first been forced to shack up with Malfoy of all people. McGonagall’s offer of the head girl position came as no surprise to her but she never expected Malfoy to be her counterpart. Something about the ministry wanting him to prove himself reformed. She had almost handed the badge right back when she found out. But that would mean she, Hermione Granger, was backing out of something she had always coveted because of one vile man. And she just couldn’t do it.

But the new head boy definitely left something to be desired. Hermione was tired of doing more than her fair share of the work, putting up with his barbed comments, and his constant, endless, stream of female guests in their shared dorm. Apparently, it was Astoria tonight. 

She stepped into the small, round common room to be greeted by the sight of Malfoy lounging on the sofa, tie undone with Astoria straddling his lap. She balled her fists at her sides and tried not to let the scene fluster her. No matter how inappropriate. 

“Malfoy, this is a shared space, could you please entertain your guests in your own room?” 

“You have your friends in our shared space all the time Granger. Am I not allowed to do the same?” She fought the urge to put her hands on her hips, not wanting to look like a schoolmarm, as he taunted many times before. 

“You know that’s not the same thing, Malfoy.” He arched one groomed brow in response. A challenge. And a warning. Astoria smirked, clearly entertained with the whole exchange.

“How is it not the same Granger?” He wanted her to embarrass herself. Wanted her to fumble her words trying to imply him and Astoria were clearly about to have sex without saying anything crude.

“I don’t do this-” she waved an arm at the interlocked couple on the sofa-”with my friends in our common room.” 

“So you’ve fucked Potter and Weasley in other rooms, just not this one. Is that what you’re saying?”

His voice was like acid and she could feel hot frustration bubbling up inside her, the way it always did when he was around. Astoria’s shrill laugh echoed in the room, but Malfoy didn’t even glance at her. No, this exchange wasn’t to impress her. He was already getting what he wanted from the blonde witch. This was purely for Hermione. Because he loved to get a rise out of her.

“You’re disgusting. You know what I meant. Just go do whatever you want to do somewhere else.”

He scoffed out a laugh and shook his head slightly. The fingers of his right hand were wrapped around Astoria’s waste, the fingers of his left sliding up her thigh, brushing just under the hem of her skirt. Astoria didn’t seem to care that Hermione was there, and Hermione promised herself she wouldn’t look at his hands. Her eyes stayed locked with his, with those cool, grey eyes that took everything in and gave nothing away. She felt hot and off balance, the way she always did when they got into a staring match, which was more frequently than she wanted. His head tilted slightly and something like cruel amusement softened his mouth.

 “Come on. Looks like the Gryffindor princess wants to ruin our fun,” he said finally, helping Astoria swing her leg off his lap and stand. She looked confused at his concession but grabbed his hand readily anyway.

Hermione watched the two Slytherins make their way to the spiral staircase leading up to Malfoy’s bedroom for a moment before settling in at the desk in the corner, feeling victorious. It wasn’t always that she walked away from a confrontation with Malfoy having gotten her way.  Why he sometimes gave in and other times fought her tooth and nail she had no idea.

About two seconds after she heard his door slam closed, she cast a silencing spell at the edges of the common room. Over the past week alone, she had learned the hard way that she shouldn’t assume he would cast one himself. And she had no desire to hear Astoria scream her brains out while Malfoy fucked her into the mattress.

With the room properly warded, she settled in to scheduling the prefect rounds for the week, and looked over the possible student morale events Headmistress McGonagall was considering. With the war so fresh in everyone’s minds, the student body, especially the older students, were in desperate need of something to ease the tension. Hermione scanned the options list McGonagall put together and felt the knot of anxiety tighten further the farther she read on. Formal balls, magical competitions, support group sessions. 

Maybe some students would find enjoyment in these activities but she could only see the complications they would bring up for her. Anything resembling the triwizard tournament would only ratchet up the stress already in her life, so a magical competition was out. She had no desire to help Harry narrowly avoid disaster yet again thank you very much. Although the thought of her friend brought nothing but feelings of intense fondness. A support group wouldn’t be a bad idea but that would mean talking about her feelings and she was really no good at that. Nor did she want to hash out her personal demons in front of a crowd. Not when she barely understood them herself. That would be like showing up to an exam with no grasp on the material.

That left a ball. In which she would be expected to attend with Ron. Because while they weren’t exactly dating, everyone knew they walked away from the final battle with an unspoken promise between them. That they would make a go of it. As soon as she was ready. That was what she had told him. Only now, she wasn’t sure if she would ever be ready.

It was a mistake, what they had done over the summer. Maybe if they had waited a little longer it would have been better. But Hermione hadn’t been able to find her voice then. Hadn’t been able to break it to him that it didn’t feel good for her, not in the slightest. Suddenly overwhelmed with memories, Hermione abandoned all her work at the desk and headed straight for her bedroom, trying to make it to her four poster before the dark wave of hurt and fear closed over her head. This is what she had to do when the memories became too much. Pull the covers up over her head and wait to feel okay again. 

It was the events of Malfoy Manor that haunted her the most. She wished she had nightmares more often about the final battle, about her classmates and order members being struck down. At least then she wouldn’t feel so selfish. Because her nightmares were always about what was done to her and Hermione was so uncomfortable with worrying about herself in lieu of others.

Her bed sheets were soft and warm, but she sank into them feeling ice cold and filled with lead anyway. She drew the duvet over her head quickly and let her breath warm up the air around her face. Rain pelted the windows, drowning out the world until she was lost to flashbacks.

They had evaded the snatchers for longer than she hoped, covering quite a bit of ground sprinting through the woods. But they were half starved and exhausted and capture, at that point, was inevitable. She got Harry good with a stinging jinx to face, a measly attempt at disguising their identities, but hey, it worked well enough. On the way to the manor, she was passed off to Greyback and as soon as his rough hand gripped her around the bicep, her blood went cold. 

All the women in the order knew what would happen to them if they were caught by Fenrir Greyback. He was a sadistic monster with a heartbreakingly long list of confirmed casualties. His depraved acts were whispered of, not the kind of things people wanted to talk about. He represented the ugliest parts war. Because while they all knew and understood the fight between good and evil, it was harder to wrap your head around the foot soldiers who simply enjoyed war. Who relished in pain and violence and used war as an excuse to unleash the worst in themselves. 

Greyback had pulled her away from Harry and Ron, away from the other snatchers. And in a moment of absolute stupidity, she had looked to the snatchers for salvation, like they might see the pleading in her eyes and step in. But they were death eaters, and they would never intervene for a mudblood. Harry and Ron had screamed for her and the sound broke her heart. But there was nothing they could do. Nothing she could do. 

She couldn’t stop Greyback from dragging her so far from them that she could no longer hear their cries. Couldn’t stop him from tearing through her clothes with his claws. Couldn’t stop him from forcing his way inside her again and again until she cried, bled. Couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t stop it. Couldn’t control the situation at all. She had stayed in that terrifying, helpless state for what felt like years. Dragged into the manor, thrown to the floor still half dressed. Crucio’d to the limits of her sanity and carved up under a madwoman’s knife. And now, the only thing that could make her feel normal again was maintaining tight control of everything in her life. 

Head girl duties, top marks, micromanaging her friends to ensure they were doing alright, interning with Madame Pomfrey in the infirmary, that was how she coped. Of course, she had always been this person. This type A personality who domineered her way through life, but now it was ten times more intense. And Merlin, was it exhausting being in control all the time.

Crookshanks hopped onto the bed suddenly, startling her out of her own head. She wiped a few stray tears she didn’t remember crying onto the back of her hand and lowered the covers. The room was darker than she expected and it only took a glance out the window to realize that the dreary day had turned into a stormy, dark, night. Her orange kneazle head butted her chin and she stroked a hand down his back. The familiar was highly attuned to her moods and she was grateful for his companionship in moments like this. 

With a flick of her wrist, the candelabras mounted to her walls blazed to life, illuminating the small room, swathed in Gryffindor colors and crammed with her book collection. It was cozy, a mirror image of Malfoy’s albeit a different color scheme, but she couldn’t help but miss having dorm mates. It would have been nice to curl up on Ginny’s bed or even just to hear Lavender gossip to Parvati. Of course, Lavender was dead. Greyback killed her. Not for the first time, Hermione prayed that was all he had done to the blonde witch and climbed off the four poster bed, slipping her feet into warm slippers. 

Her silencing charm would have worn off by now, but there was no noise coming from beyond her door. The common room was empty when she ventured down the stairs, no Malfoy to be found. She turned to the desk to gather up the scrolls she had left there, fully prepared to finish the prefect schedules as there were only a few more spots to fill, but the desktop was bare. Malfoy must have snatched them while she was gone. 

She should have been glad, considering he was supposed to fill out half of it before the prefect meeting tomorrow. This would be the first time he had shown the initiative to do his share of the work without her prodding. But the thought just brought her more anxiety. What if he put Neville and Hannah together? They would likely slip away from their duties for some alone time. Or what if he forgot that the astronomy tower was still off limits, and sent a poor fifth year there only to be hurt by debris still left from the battle? It would be better if she just did it herself. 

Hardening her resolve, she stomped up the stairs to his dorm and raised her fist to knock, but the door was already ajar. She could see into his room, similar to her own in layout, the Slytherin green comforter rucked up at the end of the bed, pillows strewn about. She looked away from the sight, her cheeks warming slightly. She would have to wait until he returned from wherever it was he had gone to get the prefect schedule back from him. Great.

It was now nearing nine in the evening and she had no desire to venture out of her dorm and socialize. Her friends were all in Gryffindor tower and probably having just as much fun without her as they would if she was there. The only real plans she had for the night was finishing the schedule and trying to lose herself in the book she bought at King’s Cross for the train ride to Scotland. With all the excitement and demands of the first week of N.E.W.T level classes, the novel was still page marked half way through on her nightstand. 

Hermione gathered up her shower things and a pair of clean pajamas and swung open the portrait to reveal the quiet, torch lined corridors of Hogwarts at night. The usual head dormitories had a small, attached bathroom, but it was repurposed as a professor’s quarters since parts of Hogwarts were still being restored. That left her and Malfoy relegated to a random castle turret turned dormitory without its own bathroom. 

She closed the portrait, a likeness of Eve in the Garden of Eden from the Renaissance, and started for the nearby prefect's bathroom that McGonagall promised only her and Malfoy had access to. The bathroom was huge, way too big for two people, with a pool sized sunken tub under its wall of stained glass windows, a circle of sinks and mirrors, and separate antechamber lined with shower cubicles.

Opening the heavy, wood door to the bathroom, she immediately realized she wasn’t alone. Steam from a recent shower was already frizzing her hair. She set down her things and peered into the shadows to see Malfoy appear from the shower room, only wearing a pair of low sweatpants, his hair and skin still wet. The water made his hair curl into glossy strands pushed back from his face, his eyelashes were dark and stuck together into little points. It never was fair, how boys always got the prettiest eyelashes. 

His skin was pale and flawless like marble and it didn’t take a genius like herself to see years of quidditch had done wonderful things for his body. They didn’t call it seeker fit for no reason. The only imperfection was a silvery, faded scar slashed across his torso. Sectum sempra. She had almost forgotten. In a ridiculous and completely unfair twist of fate, it somehow made him even more interesting to look at. She dragged her eyes away from his smooth, leanly muscled frame before he noticed her looking (she hoped). 

“Are you done staring, Granger?” 

(fuck) 

“Please, like I would be interested in anything you have to offer, Malfoy.”

The corner of his mouth tugged up. In some men, that expression may have come across as flirtatious, but somehow, Malfoy never failed to convey cruelty and cunning in every one of his looks. She didn’t wait for his next verbal blow to land.

“What did you do with prefect rounding schedule I left on the desk? I need to finish it by tomorrow.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Malfoy, don’t play games with me right now. I left it on the desk and now it’s gone. You obviously have it so why don’t you just give it back.” She couldn’t resist the urge to put her hands on her hips any longer and gave in. His eyes rolled over her slowly and returned to her face. The steam was making her feel sweaty and overheated. She knew she was flushed and had no idea how his complexion was still flawless. The only other person she knew that was as pale as him was Ron, who always had a good natured ruddiness to his cheeks.

“Oh, that prefect schedule. Yeah, I have it.”

“Great, then give it back.”

“No.”

He grabbed a towel from a chaise lounge conveniently located near the sinks and started drying his hair. Hermione took the moment to count to five and regain control of her breathing before speaking again. 

“Why? I need to finish it. We have deadlines you kn-”

“Granger, you do realize that I’m supposed to work on prefect schedules as well, yes? Why would I not take it?” He dropped the towel and turned suddenly, and for the first time, she caught sight of the dark mark on his forearm. It was slightly faded, but it would always be there. Dark, swirling lines on his marble skin. Such a hateful symbol. Panic swelled in her chest until she looked away, back up into his face. His words finally registered and she would have laughed if she wasn’t so annoyed. 

“Wha- Malfoy, you never do the work you’re supposed to do. I always have to do it. Why, all of sudden, do you care enough to finish the prefect’s schedule?”  Her voice was getting louder with each word that left her mouth until it sounded too harsh against the tiles and she dropped it back to something of a normal tone. He narrowed his eyes at her. 

“Well have you ever considered, Granger, that it’s not me who won’t do my share of the work, but you who won’t let anyone else touch your precious assignments? Nothing will ever be up to the perfect little golden girl’s standards isn’t that right? You would just have to redo it anyway.” His tone was biting now and he took two steps towards her. She refused to be cowed. 

“Are you-,” she sputtered “you can’t be-”

“Spit it out, Granger”

“There is no way you just said that. There is absolutely no way you just insinuated that I’m the reason you don’t take your head boy duties seriously.” She threw her hands up in frustration. “If it weren’t for me, nothing would get done. All you do outside of class is whore your way through our entire year and antagonize me and my friends, Malfoy!”

His head tipped back to let out a harsh laugh. He pulled a slytherin quidditch T-shirt over his head before continuing. 

“Let it go Granger. The schedule is taken care of, okay? I’m not Potter or the weasel, I don’t need you to revise my essay.” 

She was still breathing hard when he moved to pass her on his way out. He stopped for a moment and stroked a finger down the folded pair of Gryffindor sleep shorts she left on the counter and tossed his scathing parting statement over his shoulder.

“And if you’re a good girl, I might just let you see it before the prefect’s meeting.

The door slammed behind him before she could come up with a reply to that so she just kicked the door instead. And immediately regretted it because ouch, the door was harder than expected. She collapsed onto the lounge and cradled her foot. 

She was going into tomorrow’s meeting blind, the first real prefect’s meeting of the semester. All because her and stupid, arrogant Malfoy couldn’t see eye to eye. No, he refused to see eye to eye with her. She considered going over his head to the headmistress and telling her he was being uncooperative but she knew she couldn’t do it. McGonagall was under enough stress as it was, with the restoration program, an antsy governor’s board, and a student body coping with a collective case of post traumatic stress disorder. She had to be strong for her. She had to be strong for everyone. She was the golden girl and she would not lose control now. 

In the shower, she traced over the slur etched into her arm as thoughts of burning knives and cold floors circled around and around the drain with her shampoo. The irony wasn’t lost on her, that Malfoy’s dark mark was in nearly the same location. She knew the cruciatus curse would hurt, badly. But the pain of it shocked her nonetheless. She didn’t think anyone could accurately imagine that level of pain. She had laid there and waited for her mind to break from it all. Because the length of time she was tortured surely should have left the lasting effects of madness she saw in other victims.  In the Longbottoms for instance. But she never lost her sanity. Not then and not in the days after. The healers she saw after the war to help with the aftershocks that still plagued her argued with her about the duration. They insisted that her mind must have confabulated how many times the curse was cast. It was just a trauma memory. Because it just wasn’t possible for her to have escaped with her sanity after that much torture. 

Eventually she agreed with them because she was tired of being looked at with pity, or worse, with suspicion, but she knew she wasn’t confabulating anything. She didn’t have chunks of memory missing. She couldn’t forget anything about that day, as much as she tried. She remembered the pain, the awful things said about her, to her. She remembers looking at the glimmering chandelier over her head and she remembered looking at Malfoy’s face. 

About half way through, she locked eyes with him without meaning to and she found she couldn’t look away. His face was expressionless the entire time. No concern, no remorse on his features. His eyes were sharp and cold as always. But still, his presence, looking at him, brought her some comfort. Why, she didn’t know. Maybe because they knew each other. Maybe because he reminded her of Hogwarts, a place that was a safe haven to her for so long. 

And for the second time that day in April, there was a moment where she was just a stupid, stupid, naive girl. Because just like when she looked to the snatcher for salvation, she hoped for a moment that her suffering would convince Draco Malfoy to help her. To stop it. To do something. But he was a death eater... and he would never intervene for a mudblood.