Chapter beta: Olivia
Chapter translator: Aivy
After he had returned, Draco had greeted me enthusiastically, but also very curiously in the beautiful, steemed library. I hadn't known what appointments he would have that day, so I had browsed the books a little after Severus had dropped me off safely.
The dark man himself had disappeared very quickly because, as he had disgustedly said, Lucius would be expecting his report.
Yes, Lucius was quite a nuisance. He was so terribly appropriating!
His son followed in his footsteps and so he pressed me for information with huge stamina and an unbelievable stoic patience and equanimity. That was really gruelling for the poor victim, my annoyed self, hence I finally told him how everything had turned out for me in order to preserve my peace of mind.
He showed an incredibly arrogant expression when I had to admit with a heavy heart that Draco had been right and Sirius had written in his will that he loved me.
"You see! What did I tell you? You constantly underestimate the effect you have on others," he lectured me arrogantly and I wasn't even upset, only thoughtful.
He was right, I had to learn to recognize how others perceived me and take advantage of it. That would be an incredible advantage for me both in the battles with Lucius and Severus and in the public world. It wouldn't be nice of me to play so unfairly. But hasn't it been that way for a long time?
Therefore, I pulled my lower lip through my teeth and nodded hesitantly.
"Yes, you were really and truly right about Sirius. Satisfied? And yes, you're also right that I should learn to see the effect I have on others," my assent came slowly, somewhat reluctantly and he nodded contentedly.
"I am glad that I could help! He left you quite a bit."
Then, I remembered something I wanted to know from him.
"Oh, Draco, say, why did you want to get to know Rangok?" I investigated with interest now. I didn't let him out of my sight for a second, witnessing how a steep crease formed between his eyes.
"Well, I want to know with whom you do your banking business. You should only get the best," he opened up suddenly.
"Oh, that's nice... but completely unnecessary. I can do that myself. But tell me, how did you like him?" I was very curious about his assessment and generously passed over his inappropriate interference in my private affairs because I didn't want a quarrel.
"I liked him. The little guy didn't let me intimidate him, although we Malfoys are highly regarded by the goblins. They love nothing more than money and property and we have plenty of both! The little guy impressed me, defending you valiantly by the standards of a goblin. I think you were lucky. Ran... Sorry, I don't remember. Their names are so similar. Well, he seems very competent," he said impudently, generously waving his hand through the air.
"I'm glad you like him because I refuse to transfer my account. I trust Rangok very much! Oh... I showed him the mark, so that in the future he will tell you what you want to know," I enlightened him from above but omitted to tell him that I had done it mainly because of Lucius.
"You showed it to him? ... Good, it is good that they know. Father would probably have reacted differently to a refusal to cooperate," he echoed my thoughts and grinned insidiously.
"Do you know that he is now addressing me with Miss Malfoy? I thought I hadn't heard correctly," I giggled, shaking my head in disbelief.
"Why? It's a logical consequence in itself. My family, my name! Don't say you don't like it," he said snobbishly, looking at me intensively with his sparkling, slate grey eyes.
"No. I'm just not used to it, that's all! ... Um, what about Lucius? Did you talk to him?" I asked him directly, as this was very important for my further planning.
"Yes. He thinks we are going to Blaise for the night. Everything is fine. I'm looking forward to teasing the Twins with their new wealth. Do you think they can count that far? I mean, these are numbers they probably haven't known before," he mocked the two agents of chaos, sitting in his armchair with a smirk on his face.
"Haha... very funny. But I think the two of them will get more enjoyment out of your humour," I predicted, looking at him affably.
"Yes, I believe that too. I'll think about a few taunts right away... All in good humour, of course!" Draco was visibly looking forward to the two and I was, as always, really happy that he got on so well with them.
"I don't want to hear them at all. They deserve every Knut," I retorted and got a different reaction than expected.
"Huh... what? Me too! Then they will be able to run the business as widespread as in their elaborate business plan, that's good," Draco said surprisingly seriously.
"Excuse me? Business plan?" I asked with great confusion, once more marvelling at the Twins' capabilities.
"Sure. After I rented them the house for the next fifty years at a fixed, annual rate with the option of purchasing the property afterwards at a market price, they presented me with a financial plan and asked me for advice as to whether the plan was realistic and it was. It was really well thought out. I wanted to give them a loan but they didn't want that and said they would start slowly with the resources they have. With Black's 10,000 Galleons, they can now get off to a full start," Draco explained to me about things that had gone right past me.
"Well, then I already know what you will talk about in the garden. The poor others will die of boredom," I showed a pitiful face and he only looked at me indignantly.
I knew there was almost nothing better for Draco than to talk business with the Twins and nothing less important for me.
"Come on, it's already late. We should change; or do you want to go to the merry lot looking like that?" he pointed slightly disparagingly to my hooded dress. I shook my head and willingly followed him to our rooms.
Draco accepted my silence. I think he knew I was nervous. Even if I would never admit it openly, but I was. When I put on a pair of short jeans that ended up high on my thighs, almost hotpants, Draco got huge eyes. Fortunately for him, he kept his comments to himself. I chose a short-sleeved, tight-fitting red shirt with a skull on the front and a V-neckline that beautifully accentuated my cleavage. I left my hair open. Light, open sandals completed my casual outfit.
Draco chose a light beige linen pant and a darker beige-brown polo shirt. It looked great, but I felt more casual today.
When I tried to walk out the door, I felt his hand on my arm and I turned around surprised. He held out a big, long, silky, black pashmina to me, while he let his eyes wander provocatively slowly over my tight outfit that would be regarded as quite normal by Muggle girls.
"You shouldn't walk around in Manor like that, not that one of the portraits gets a heart attack," he whispered hoarsely, smiling charmingly. I took the scarf and wrapped it obediently around me.
When we silently left the wide driveway of the Manor behind us, I felt a queasy feeling rising inside me.Thoughts of Harry lay heavy in my stomach, though not how I would get him out; I would manage. But afterwards? Oh man, that wouldn't be easy when he saw Draco and that I had left Sirius for the Slytherin, his archenemy. I didn't know if Harry was able to understand me and my choice.
Most people would not. Alas, most people knew the real Hermione and had a clue as to what I truly was like. They didn't know how perfect not only Draco was for me, but I for him as well. I never felt repelled by him when he was evil or did something bad. Most of the time I didn't care or liked it. As I had said, almost nobody would understand that. Sometimes I didn't either!
Shortly before we reached the apparition point, I asked something I had noticed for some time and couldn't let go of.
"Say, what about your mother? Has she noticed anything? Like me being here?"
"No, but that doesn't mean anything as she's been with Bellatrix for the last few days. She'll come back, I think, um... tomorrow, but if she spots you, we'll be there to keep her away from you. We will also put your spell on her, don't worry," Draco explained succinctly.
"Who says that I care?" I said piqued. Please, as if she were an opponent for me! This fashion doll, Narcissa Malfoy, couldn't compete with me!
"Don't underestimate Narcissa! She's just as crazy and evil as Bella, just different," he warned me and snarled demandingly, "Come on if you want to get to your Potter on time! Where to?" He clearly had that from Severus.
"I'll apparate us," I said, grabbed his arm and transported us gently, safely and very quietly to Surrey. I was very proud that I was getting better and better, apparating almost silently.
We arrived near a roundabout and found ourselves surrounded by a simple, typical London suburb. The sign at the entrance welcomed us boastfully and pointed out that we had arrived in Little Whinging.
At the same time, not having arranged it beforehand, we spelled ourselves invisible. I added a Sonus Ex to turn our footsteps soundless as well. He then grabbed my hand so we wouldn't lose track of one another.
We moved on and looked at everything with interest. Everything really looked the same here, an archetypal stuffy, boring suburb: Impersonal, block-like houses with clinical front gardens and garages. Everything appeared tidy and orderly and also lifeless and loveless. The surroundings seemed very quiet and inconspicuous. From time to time, we saw a lonely car driving down the road.
I carefully read the road signs so as not to miss Harry's turn-off, but unfortunately all paths and streets here had a shrub or tree name. Very imaginative and quite confusing.
"This is terrible! And this is how our hero lives? How pathetic. What is Dumbledore thinking? That's unworthy, Muggle-y," Draco's disembodied, disgruntled voice said, sounding sincerely confused and repulsed.
I agreed. I had grown up in the city in quite a contrast to this petit bourgeois environment of a housing estate full of identical-looking single-family homes.
It seemed as if Harry had been sent into exile from the very beginning!
"Draco, you know nothing about Harry and if... it will be up to him to tell you one day. He was never a hero for his family. You will have to say goodbye to the biased picture! He never had it easy... Give him a chance, please," I asked whisperingly and could hear his snide snort, but also feel him squeezing my hand firmly and I gratefully returned the pressure.
Finally I stopped under the sign stating 'Privet Drive'.
"Here, this is the road and there is number four," I whispered into the air and heard another snide snort and I could only agree with his disdain for the area. On the surface, it looked like a safe environment, but so boring and normal that it was almost obvious from the outside that no wizards, nothing freaky would be allowed to exist here and that's exactly how his family had treated Harry.
The street was... Well, it was dead. Yes, I think that described the impression I had of it quite well. All the houses were two stories high, with austere, well-trimmed front gardens, a garage attached to the house and a car in front of each house. Individuality was probably frowned upon.
"It looks awful here. I wouldn't want to live here even if you gave me a lot of money for it," I said, shuddering.
"What are you planning to do now?" Draco enquired.
"Well, there must be members of the Order here, concealed under invisibility cloaks, but nobody can see me. I will break in, as usual. You stay here. You do see the house, don't you?" I asked and waved my hand uselessly in the direction of the house.
"Sure, the street isn't that big and my eyes are good," Draco replied cynically.
"Very well. So when I'm outside - I don't know yet if we're going to leave from the back yard - so when I'm back outside, I'll activate the coin. It's going to get hot and you will disapparate. What do you think?" I explained my more-than-simple plan. The simpler you kept it, the less could go wrong.
"All right. Should something happen and you need my help, then speak a Vermillious. When I see red sparks, I'll hurry to your rescue." Draco sounded pompous and only minimally reluctant to come to the rescue of Harry Potter.
"Dream on! I must go," I gently detached my hand from him and did not hesitate, hurriedly walking across the seemingly deserted street, keeping a watchful eye on my surroundings and feeling Draco's attentive gaze on my back.
I walked forward relentlessly until I could see a blue tuft of hair in the bushes on my right. The shrub was planted in front of the living room window. Well, that must be Tonks. How uncomfortable it must be to sit in such a stooped posture the whole time. Well, thanks to me that will soon be superfluous, I thought meanly.
Thank God it wasn't Moody with his all-seeing eye because he wouldn't have let himself be deceived by my spell.
I walked resolutely towards the building made of different shades of brown natural stone. Using the dark brown front door would have been a bad idea. I pondered briefly so how would I get in. Finally, I stepped onto the accurately truncated lawn and skilfully moved to the side of the house.
I struggled my way to the back, silently climbing over the garden fence, when I almost dropped on top of Mundungus Fletcher who was crouching on the ground, the invisibility cloak having slipped halfway from his shoulders. Just barely and quite inelegantly, I managed to avoid him, rolling off on the floor so that a quiet "Ufff" escaped me performing that acrobatic feat.
Of course, Dung startled and I reacted quickly and sent him to sleep. He fell back on his ass, hit by my spell, and his head rolled to the side. Perfect. The Order had left the two most easily outwitted people here. Heroically, I bit off a snicker and turned away hurriedly. I still had things to accomplish here.
I approached the wide open patio door and stepped into the meticulously and clinically clean kitchen with an open view into the large, representative living room with a fireplace. I saw a fat boy our age lying on the flower-patterned couch and worshiping the television, which made so much noise that I wouldn’t have needed to put a spell on my feet because you couldn't even hear your own word over the clamour.
During the contemplation, I stood next to a tall, skinny, blonde woman with a floral apron who happily made sandwiches and I heard her hum quietly, despite the noise, because I stood right next to her. I then walked purposefully past the dining table and through the open door that led into the narrow and cramped hallway.
I didn't have to worry about exposing myself anymore, because the TV made enough noise that the creaking steps, which groaned loudly under my feet every now and then, were drowned out. I hurried up the stairs to the first floor and noticed the four doors branching off from the corridor. I thought about which one to take. Finally, I instinctively decided on the first door to my right and opened it carefully.
It was a simple, not to say minimalist room. A worn, ancient, dark blue carpet covered the floor. A narrow bed, a sloping desk, a chair and a crooked little wardrobe were the unadorned, miserable dwelling that called itself Harry's room. At the sight, my heart clenched again. It really hurt when I thought about what Harry had had to do without since his youngest childhood. Even this sorry excuse for a room had been his only for a short time.
Ron didn't need to be jealous of this. He had many beautiful memories of a childhood worth living and above all, a loving childhood and Draco, too, didn't need to be jealous of the attention Harry had received from the magical population for five years, 'cause if you saw this, all you could do was pity Harry. Once again, I decided to do everything I could to make him feel better from now on. I despised Dumbledore for allowing this to happen.
There would have been other possibilities. As I always said: everything was possible! Especially in the world of magic there was very little limit to what you could do. You just had to search long enough, then there were always ways and means.
Dumbledore didn't deserve Harry's loyalty!
A completely different Harry could have come out of this abusive home than the one we had today. An evil, broken Harry, set on revenge and full of hate because the community he had saved had made him grow up, forgotten by all. He could have been as aggressive and ruthless as I was.
But no, Harry had entered this new world unprejudiced, naive, lovable and cheerful. In return, the wizarding world, from his second year onward, had constantly insulted, slandered and offended him. I had already noticed at the will-reading that they had finally accomplished it and that we had another, a new Harry in front of us. One to be taken seriously. Someone who who no longer trusting and open-minded and would let no one tell him what to do.
Thanks to the Aurors, Umbridge, Fudge and Dumbledore, they had finally managed to forge him the way I wanted and needed him. I should send them all a thank-you card!
Harry sat in his chair and looked at me, or rather the open door, suspiciously. He had already pointed his wand and cold, dark green, piercing eyes at the nothing in front of him.
I was so proud of him that he didn't hesitate a second and was vigilant. I entered and wanted to close the door when an uncertain "Hermione" sounded quietly and I closed the door quietly in my back.
"Of course, who else, Harry?" I admitted soberly and lifted the spells with a swipe of my white wand and he watched me suspiciously with narrowed eyes.
"Hermione, you can do an Invisibility Charm?" he asked very disbelievingly. Wide-eyed, he had still aimed his wand at me and apparently wasn't ready to let me off the hook so easily.
"Sure, since the beginning of the year. Otherwise, you would have noticed it when I snuck out of the tower," I laughed amusedly. "Do you want to hex me, or why do you threaten me?" I pointed to his raised wand.
"I shall always be vigilant! According to fake, but also real Moody. And well, I am a new Harry! So say something that no one else could know," he demanded urgently.
"Mhm... we saved Buckbeak, on which Sirus fled!" I offered in a hurry. "The orchids were for Daphne," I alluded to the bouquet of flowers that the Aurors had conjured from Harry's wand when they had spoken the Priori Incantatem and investigated Umbridge's disappearance.
"Okay... and no, sorry, I don't want to hex you. However, one thing I don't understand: I would have always noticed it if you had snuck out of the tower. I have the Marauders' Map after all," he said warily and shrugged his shoulders. Then he put the wand away.
"I'm glad that you believe me that I am me! However, your caution is good, very good. Yes, you have the map but I enchanted my name and some other people's names so that you only have to create a magical doppelganger who will then be monitored by the map instead of the real person," I whispered to him and noticed the shock flashing over his features.
"Why?" he asked, appalled by what I had done.
"More about that later, or do you want to stay here?" I spoke derogatorily and waved my hand despicably at the measly room. Who said that the Malfoys didn't rub off?
"No, no! I am coming with you. Something else... Are you allowed to do magic?!" That understandably left him bewildered. After all, he had made enough acquaintance with this stupid Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery. I looked at my wand with a gentle smile. He would certainly like the suggestion I would make in a moment, and perhaps it would calm him down a little, but first I had to explain it to him.
"No, I'm not allowed to do it, but I'm doing it anyway," I explained with a sneaky grin.
"Are you crazy? What about the Ministry?" he said absolutely stunned.
"What about it? I am foresighted. I got myself a new, a second wand last summer, which is not registered - so not made by Ollivander - and with this I can do magic at any time and as much as I want and the ministerial authority won't be any wiser," I replied. Harry had sat down again, this information apparently flooring him. He seemed slightly apathetic.
"That means, that means..." he stuttered after long silence, "... that means I could have always performed magic if someone had given me an unregistered wand and I would never have gotten into trouble?" He seemed terribly hurt, his face showing a painful grimace.
"Yes, that's right! But that's what I'm here for now. The first thing we will do is to get you a second wand as soon as possible. I thought you might like that." I smiled conspiratorially at him.
"You are serious?" he breathed with emotion and frowned.
"Of course. Now come. What do you want to take with you? I will shrink it... Where is Hedwig?" I looked around searching for the snowy owl.
"What? Oh, I sent her to the Twins yesterday so she could hunt there... Here, her cage and the trunk, that's all," he said, pointing to the two more than puny objects that represented all his belongings and I just swished my wand nonverbally. As I had said, no more secrets. Well, almost none!
Harry still looked at me as if I was from another planet, but he pulled himself together so far that he grabbed the things I had shrunk and stuffed them into his jeans pocket.
"Do you have everything? Then say goodbye! We'll... What? Don't look at me so disapprovingly," I complained indignantly.
"Believe me, I won't shed a tear for anything here," came the very harsh truth from him.
"Well, hold my hand tight so that we don't lose each other. As soon as we leave the garden behind us, I'll be taking you by side-by-side apparition. Don't be scared, just hold on to my hand, that's all," I briefly explained my plan and he nodded at everything while holding my hand firmly.
"Should I say something about me being shocked that you can do that already, too," he said through his teeth while a somewhat distorted grin scurried across his face.
"Very funny," I retorted, spelling first him and then myself silently invisible. Still holding his hand, we approached the stairs.
"The second, fifth and tenth steps creak, overstep them," an invisible Harry whispered to me.
I did as I was told, counting and then climbing over them, so we arrived at the bottom without having made a sound and went the same way I had come before. Only this time, his aunt lay relaxed in the garden chair, leafing through a magazine listlessly. She was still humming very unmelodically and didn't notice us.
I took the lead and headed for Dung lying unconscious in the flower beds. I wordlessly directed Harry to climb over the fence with me, which was an easy exercise for both of us, despite holding hands. On the other side, I quickly activated the coin so Draco got a head start and pulled Harry towards the neighbours. I felt that there was no anti-apparition ward active this far from the house, so we could get out and finally leave this snobby suburb, this dump, behind us.
I grabbed Harry's hand even harder. Focusing on my destination with determination, I apparated us deliberately and skilfully. Seconds later, we materialized under the big oak tree. In front of us we could see the quiet and idyllic cottage in the picturesque evening sunlight. Alright, only I could because Harry, thanks to the protective magic, didn't see the house, yet.
"Where are we here, Hermione? Here is... nothing?" my hot-tempered, still invisible best friend asked impatiently.
"Take it easy," I requested, fishing for the little note in my trouser pocket and once I had found it, I handed it to him after dissolving the Invisibility Charm on him. He read it and a surprised exclamation followed.
"Beautiful," he breathed with emotion and I understood what he meant.
The small, dulcet cottage was submerged in a sea of flowers. Even I gazed enraptured. With the soft light of the sinking sun, it looked as if it had been painted. It was truly a dream and would perhaps help Harry to heal his soul after the shocks I would have to give him, so that he would find new strength and new courage. If he wasn't able to do that here in this idyll, he wouldn't be able to get over it anywhere, I thought, resigned to our fate.
"I inherited that from my grandmother and aunt on my father's side. Are you coming? You'll still have to put your hand on the front door as there is also a blood protection on the house. After that, you will be completely tied into the wards and can go in and out as you like, Harry! This is not a prison," I explained and now intoned the formula to include him and his excitement and nervousness were almost tangible.
I took a deep breath again because the following conversation wouldn't be easy and I didn't really know how to start. I would like it best if he would just listen and not interrupt me, but that would certainly not happen.
Thusly prepared, I opened the door and walked into the house, aiming for the living room and sitting down slightly unsteadily on the large, comfortable sofa. I noticed that a jug of iced tea was already on the coffee table, with two glasses. An amused smile on my lips, I thanked the Twins mentally and tried to ignore the feeling of collywobbles.
Harry stared around the cosy room with an almost overwhelmed but attentive expression. He pulled his belongings out of his jeans pocket and put it on the floor where I enlarged it.
He didn't pay attention to this, instead walking up and down before stepping to the dining table. From there, he looked to the open kitchen door, but then turned back to me. I didn't think to stop him, then I wouldn't be better than all the others who always told him what to do. If he wanted to look at the house or go into the garden, where the others were sitting quite hidden in the back inside the pavilion, it was fate and I would have to deal with it. Besides, I had to honestly admit that I would be happy if I could postpone the conversation for a few more moments.
"Would you like to see the house first?" I offered.
"No, don't think so. What happened to Dung?" he asked as a sideline.
"He will sleep for a little while longer. His breath smelled of alcohol so it shouldn't attract much attention. Sorry, but I thought sending him to sleep was the most humane thing I could do," I explained calmly, at least on the outside. On the inside, I was very nervous. Would Harry reject me if he knew everything - well, almost everything? If he knew everything, then surely...
"Mhmhm. Well... What now, Hermione?" Harry wanted to know uncertainly, while he nervously paced up and down in front of the fireplace.
"I don't know. I'll take my cue from you, Harry," I said, shrugging my shoulders and following his sweeping steps with my gaze.
"Start at the beginning! What was that about Sirius? I don't know... Where does it start?" he asked impatiently, seemingly rushed somehow.
"Hahaha... that's good. 'Where does it start?' It starts there that I'm out of sorts with both the Ministry and Hogwarts. Do you know, Harry? Thanks to the trust you put in me, I know probably better than anyone else how bad your childhood was.
"Then... I may have had parents unlike you, but as a Muggle-born I had to struggle with the inexplicable for ten years, and so did my parents. Unlike your relatives, they didn't even have an inkling of an idea that magic existed. How could they? Add to that my intelligence, which is extraordinary even among the Muggles! I told you that I skipped more than one class. Well, where did that lead to? My childhood wasn't really great either. My parents were afraid of me and for me. It was not a nice time," I sounded slightly melancholic, remembering how difficult this time had been for my parents. I even understood them and therefore it was good that they had left this world behind.
"Seriously? That's not pretty. Did your parents treat you like a stranger? A freak?" he showed great, compassionate understanding. That's what he had always been for his relatives, a freak! But he also seemed affected by my confession.
"Yes, you could say so. We lived very secluded. Until, yes... until finally this stupid letter came from Hogwarts and a burden was taken from my soul, but also from my parents, because there was finally an explanation for what I was! But you see, Harry... If any of them had gone to the trouble earlier, everything could have developed quite differently, but like this, the relationship was no longer mendable. They were glad that I was away for most of the year... grateful. Even though they now had an explanation that frightened them less, the prospect of me being a witch was a dividing wall that couldn't be torn down. It was too thick...
"You know, I bear a grudge against the highly acclaimed magical world... 'We'll inform everyone no earlier than their eleventh birthday.' Really great! But I digress... I wanted to explain to you why it was so wonderful for me that you became my first real friend, together with Ron. It was something very special for me! You two were the first, the very first friends for me, Harry," I justified myself excessively, while I smiled at him shyly. He was so kind and looked at me openly.
"I know that feeling, as you know. We're very much alike and that's why Hogwarts was so great for me at first. I loved it. It was my home, my family. But go on, please," he said, behaving quite reservedly.
"I see you want more. Well, you know me. When can I resist knowledge? I don't know any restraint when it comes to that and I mean it, Harry. I was and am a permanent guest in the Restricted Section of the library. Thanks to the Time Turner in our third year, I made good use of the time given and worked through the section. I am a good black magician, Harry," I admitted hesitantly.
After my confession, he watched me very carefully, again looking as if I was from another planet. I fell silent and watched him swallow with difficulty and his Adam's apple move slowly up and down his throat, so I took the break to continue.
"Because I think it's not the magic that's bad, but the intention behind it. Most blood magic rituals are considered black magic and that's hokum. It's not magic that's bad, it's the witch or wizard who uses it for evil, you know? Dumbledore's black-and-white thinking restricts us quite a bit... But you'll be able to think about that enough later... Do you want some?" I asked quite busily, pouring a drink, and lifted the glass up to give it to him.
He gratefully accepted the glass, then thoughtfully interjected:
"Hm, you are right most of the time and the point of view somehow makes sense to me, but it is strange to hear that from you! I thought you loved the rules..."
I'm sure he was right, but I had to keep talking before the courage left me to reveal that which would be really shocking.
"... Well, but let's move on, otherwise there won't be enough time... In the same year, I started a... oh, that's embarrassing... Well, Cedric got involved with me; he was my first boyfriend. We were together for about two months," I hurriedly rushed out, glancing at him from below through lowered eyelids and anxiously awaiting his verdict.
"What, the Cedric Diggory? Mine? Well, I don't believe it! Sirius wasn't the... the... He wasn't your first... Oh my, oh my, I can't believe it, you were thirteen, a child! I wouldn't have expected that from Cedric," he was already getting worked up. That made me a little afraid of what was yet to come, because he seemed to be outraged.
"I was already fourteen, almost fifteen," I interrupted him very soberly which didn't stop his nagging.
"That doesn't matter. Cedric was older than you, two years older than us!"
"He was one year older than me then, but whatever," I said, shaking my head.
Harry nodded and glared angrily.
"Don't interrupt me all the time. What were you thinking, Hermione? Why did you never say anything? What happened after the Triwizard Tournament? Didn't you grieve for him? Did you love him? Why didn't you come to me? Do you always have to do everything on your own?" he accused me furiously.
Yes, he was angry, I understood that, but I didn't expect so many questions at once. I saw how he clasped his glass tightly, the liquid in it sloshing around precariously.
"Harry, if you behave like that, I won't say anything more. Because one thing is clear, it will get even worse. This is only the beginning of my confession! So, my offer, let me talk and you listen and then you just freak out once, okay? I mean, that's fair, isn't it?" I asked uncertainly at the end, while his green eyes looked piercingly at me.
"No, it's not, but I'll try to listen only, even if I don't want to imagine what's still to come. I have thought a lot, especially after today, but that still surprised me. I thought I knew a lot about you and now that. When were you in the library? And then that with Cedric, way back then. You see, I am shocked, but well, I'll listen! So, please, how was that with Cedric?" he babbled slightly confusedly. When his questions had run dry, he drank greedily.
I started slowly. Actually, I didn't really want to go into the details, but well, I had said to myself that he would decide what he wanted to hear and I would stick to that.
"He was very intelligent, you know that surely, and very talented. We got to know each other in the library and at some point it just happened. I liked him very much, but didn't love him and of course I was horrified and sad when he died. What do you think of me? I'm not an ice cube," I defended myself decisively. Even if I had to admit that I was often cold, I wasn't that detached from my emotions.
"Ok, that reassures me a bit. Go on," Harry replied shortly and nodded curtly.
"Thank you. Where was I? ... Ah yes. Viktor shouldn't come as a surprise. I was a regular guest on the ship... Don't look at me with such big eyes! Yes, I was on the ship - it was beautiful there - and this mostly at night. In such nights, the Twins and I also became close friends. We had been running into each other since our second year.
"Why I didn't tell you? Ron would never have had understanding for it. You remember how he reacted to Viktor? And you, Harry? There was something new every year. You were too busy with yourself, which was and is completely okay. But I didn't want to burden you, honestly not. Hopefully I don't have to enumerate what you have experienced in these years," I explained further. Afterwards, I raised my glass and drank hastily, moistening my dry throat.
Harry used the time to move and sat down in the armchair next to me. I sat on the couch and really didn't know how to start, because now came the exciting part.
"After the tournament, I decided it couldn't go on like this. I was horrified at Dumbledore's weakness that a broken out Death Eater was hiding right under his nose. - It's sweet of you to agree, Harry! - I had already made that decision in the infirmary. You know, Rita fell into my clutches there, or rather into my glass. I used the time sensibly. When I arrived home, I first went into Knockturn Alley and got this new wand. I love it, but its affinity is dark... But others can tell you more about that!
"Yes, close your mouth, I was all alone in the forbidden alley and should I tell you something? I enjoyed it; I like it there," I summed up the first days of my summer holiday in a deliberately neutral way and he had gotten huge eyes behind his glasses. Nevertheless, he stuck to his word and said nothing. At least for a short time, because then he couldn't stand it.
"I will not say: 'that was dangerous,' because it was and you know that. I'm downright shocked that you weren't afraid. I will never forget what it was like for me to end up in the alley when I was twelve. So many shady characters! And you went there alone, a girl? Do you have taken leave of your senses?" he asked hesitantly and looked at me reproachfully and disapprovingly.
"Soon you will have the opportunity to possibly revise your opinion as my offer to get a second, unregistered wand still stands. Then you could always perform magic as you wish!" I said. He tilted his head back and forth, because he seemed to consider taking me up on my offer. "But that's your decision. In times like this, it's sensible to have a second wand available. You never know what might happen."
"Go on," he growled impatiently and I just nodded hastily.
"Then I started with the martial arts lessons. I can send a lot of people to the ground, Harry. I'm pretty good now! And I wouldn't be sitting here today without my preparations," I confessed in a whisper at the end, because the experiences in the alley were not the most beautiful ones in my life.
His eyes widened in horror. I noticed and spoke quickly.
"One evening, when I wanted to apparate back to Grimmauld Place after going to a sport session, I got incredibly lucky and ran into Bole and Derrick. I don't know if you read the article about the two... Ah, you remember, that's good! So Bole was my first! Yes, Harry, not the toad, or Jugson, no, Bole was the first! I see your shock, so I didn't say anything, but it was his life or mine. I just defended myself.
"My experience in this alleyway, that was stretching my boundaries! I almost died. He tried to strangle me. Today, if someone comes too close to my throat, I still see red. That was not a pleasant feeling." I grabbed my neck in an unconscious gesture and thought of how squashed it had been and how painful swallowing had been and then shrugged my shoulders. The past couldn't be changed. "It was not an easy and pretty fight. And above all it was close... terribly close!
"You may remember what brawny guys they were, Harry? Well, you know, thanks to the article, how he died. I cut his throat, messy, but effective. Only I didn't come out of this story unscathed. With my last strength I dragged myself back to the Black townhouse and sent my patronus to Sirius!
"Ah, I see understanding in your eyes. Yes, exactly, I am the magpie! You've become good at deducing, Harry," I praised when I saw how the recognition and understanding flashed in his eyes, the shock slowly receding. I spoke quickly because many things were very unpleasant for me and I wanted to get them over with swiftly. "Well, Se- Snape... he saved my life that day together with Sirius. I had a knife stuck in me up to the hilt, ... here," I explained, showing it to him and grabbing the side where I still had the scar.
I watched as Harry's eyes threatened to fall out of their sockets and his eyes fixed me motionlessly while his mouth moved in horror without words coming out of him at first.
"No, I can't be. Isn't that life-threatening? I've almost lost you too? Hence your familiarity with Snape. He saved you," the conclusions came falteringly from the deeply shaken Harry. He seemed very dumbfounded, but at the same time he believed me immediately, for he knew that Death Eaters made short work.
"Yes, Harry, if I hadn't trained, if I hadn't had my daggers, if I hadn't had my second wand and if I hadn't had the presence of mind to leave the knife alone and wait, which required great discipline from me... Yes, then I wouldn't be sitting here today," I professed seriously and honestly. "And if Snape and Sirius hadn't been there..." I agreed with him quite casually that that was the reason for our familiarity, among other things.
We remained silent until Harry caught himself and nodded at me.
"I'm telling you all this so ruthlessly because I want you to see that without my initiative I would be... we'd be screwed! Let's continue with my confession. This changed a lot in the relationship between Sirius and me. My near-death experience might have had something to do with it. Who knows? However, we got even closer, our affair became even more intense. Yes, that's what it was for me: A temporary, beautiful, fun time that I enjoyed very much," I said wistfully.
Beneath his appraising gaze, I wrung my hands and licked my dry lips.
"Please don't look at me like I'm dirt! I told him from the beginning that I didn't love him and told him about Cedric and Viktor, for whom I didn't feel any love either. Never! Is that supposed to make me feel bad? Please, I, too, need some happy moments from time to time," I protested, hoping for his understanding. When he just sat there and listened, I continued. "Okay, so he knew! Sirius knew that. He was so sweet... but not the right one for me! He didn't want to tell you or the others, because he, like me, knew how everyone would react because of our age difference, which is what happened. Unfortunately Molly got ahold of me today. It was unbearable, but forget it.
"Well, you want to know what happened?" I said uneasily, nibbling on my lower lip and nervously stroking my hair out of my eyes. I looked into these angry lakes, in which the waves seemed to rage, but he controlled himself bravely, while I breathed deeply again. "He was not the right one because he was too good, too nice... and he deserved better than me. I could not have made him happy. For that I am probably much too depraved, if you want to say so," I whispered hoarsely, in deep conviction, these last words to Harry.
He frowned in confusion.
"First: I have already murdered. Sirius never did that, despite his age, which was a good thing. Secondly: he came from an old, dark family, but I am the dark witch, not him! So, shortly after school started, I had some meetings. Yes, I have the means to get in and out of Hogwarts; a secret passage that's not on the map... The Marauders didn't seem to have taken a closer look at the dungeons of Hogwarts!
"I wanted to say goodbye to Sirius that night, as would have been proper... Much had changed in my life in those few days, which made this decision indispensable and I never wanted to be unfair to Sirius. Thus, I wanted to break up," I explained. Taking a moment to drink the iced tea, I paused, fervently wishing it was fire whiskey. Harry wouldn't like what came now. "He was in the kitchen when I arrived. I sat down next to him and thanks to him being a dog, he unfortunately smelled something he shouldn't have smelled and that set him off. He hit me, I hit him, we broke up and I left," I said, the words coming quick like a spell shot from a wand. I slumped in exhaustion. I was curious what Harry would say now and, as expected, he hit the nail on the head.
"What did he smell?" he asked purposefully. Ouch! To have to admit this openly would not be easy for me and so I avoided his piercing gaze.
"Sex, Harry! Sex. That I was with someone else," I confessed coldly. That it had been with Snape and that I had been Minna, well, I wouldn't say that, because there were things that were nobody's business.
"You, what...?! You cheated on Sirius?" His temper flared and he roared angrily.
"No, not really. For me it was more or less over when I stepped onto the Express and after that I just wanted to let him know. So I wouldn't say that I cheated on him, although he must have seen it the way you do. For that, he hit me pretty hard," I acknowledged unhappily and Harry grimaced painfully at the statement.
"You don't beat women," he spat out in indignation. I laughed bitterly at Harry's noble statement.
"Harry, there are women like me who attract that kind of violence! I downright provoke it. In retrospect, Sirius was really sorry that he lost control. I was able to forgive him, so you should too. But in principle you're right, you shouldn’t beat women," I said resignedly and came heroically to Sirius' defence.
"He must have meant something to you, otherwise you wouldn't always defend him," said Harry, who visibly forced himself to remain calm, his posture tense.
"Of course, Harry. I really liked him," I declared softly, but Harry meant even more to me and I wanted him to honour the memory of Sirius.
"Who? Who replaced Sirius?" he pressed relentlessly into me. Ouch, now the great moment would come. I opened my mouth and was about to summon up all my courage and say the name when -
"I did," a voice suddenly chimed in from the patio door.
I spotted Draco leaning casually against the door frame, his arms crossed in front of his chest. He seemed to have eavesdropped on us. His light hair fell cheekily into his forehead.
At the declaration, both Harry's and my head had spun around, but mine immediately went back to Harry, who stared at Draco as if hypnotized, as if he were a fata morgana.
"That... that... I can't believe it... No, that must be a joke. That can't be true! What is he doing here?" Harry mumbled, as if far away, but he didn't take the eyes off the blonde Slytherin, whose face was decorated with a nasty, wicked grin at Harry's breakdown. I looked anxiously back and forth between my best friend and my boyfriend.
All of a sudden, Harry reached out and smashed his fist with full force down on the small wooden table. The glasses clanked alarmingly and I grimaced in sympathy. That had to hurt. Despite that, Harry's face didn't show any pain, it had just distorted it into a rage-stricken grimace. His fist was bright red. Then Harry jumped up as if stung by an adder.
"Hermione, you liar! You fuck around with him all the time?!" he yelled accusingly in a terribly vulgar language.
It seemed as if he was completely freaking out. His green eyes glittered dangerously; he had clenched his hands into fists as if to attack, and his magic gathered around him, he was so upset. Only a little more, and he would again unleash a powerful whirlwind as he had in Dumbledore's office. And I knew how much Draco was enjoying that right now. A dream came true for him!
"Harry, please calm down! I will-" I wanted to calm him down, but he snapped at me like I never expected him to. I had expected a lot, but not all that came now.
"Shut your lying mouth. What do you think you are doing, you slut?" He raged unreservedly and his words hit me very hard. I pressed my lips firmly together and took a deep breath. Harry had turned to me aggressively and looked as if he also wanted to strike at me. Please, there we had it. The next man who wanted to beat me up. I always said it, I drove the male population to white hot rage.
I hope you enjoyed part one of this two-parter.
Updates might slow down from here on. Both work and private life are busy and I haven't found much time to translate in the last week.