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Something Worth Fighting For

Chapter Text

Hermione hadn't meant for the kiss to happen. Gryffindor had just won the first quidditch game of the year against Ravenclaw, and the party was big and loud (thank god for silencing spells). Some seventh years had snuck in a bunch of firewhiskey from Hogsmeade, and everyone was drunk. Hermione didn't usually drink, but she had a few sips of a nasty tasting beer just because she'd been miserable all day. First, Harry had brewed a better potion than her, which never happened. Then she'd cried at lucnh about a slice of bread even though she was supposed to be better now. To top it all off, Ron had kissed Lavender half an hour ago, and she really didn't want to think about it. She put a jinx on herself to make her feel a little tipsy. 

She didn't know where Ron and Lavender had gone, but she didn't want to know. Maybe she should just head up to her room and study. The silencing spell would make it nice and quiet in there. 

Hermione started towards the girls' room and ran straight into Draco Malfoy.

 "Merlin, sorry," she said. "I didn't see you."

"Me neither," Draco said.

"I've, uh, never seen you at a Gryffindor party before," Hermione said.

"I'm not really a big party person, honestly. I hardly go to Slytherin parties but I just figured..."

"What?"

"Nothing."

They were silent for a few moments, avoiding eye contact.

"Ron kissed Lavender," Hermione blurted.

"I saw that. Are you mad?"

"No. I want to be happy for him."

"But you're not."

"Not really. I just... I thought he liked me, you know? Not that I cared, but I thought that someone actually liked me for once and it turns out I was just imagining it."

"I'm sure a lot of people like you," Draco laughed. "Remember fourth year? Even Viktor freaking Krum was in love with you."

"That was two years ago, Draco."

"And?"

"I've been through hell and back since then, I doubt that anyone would like me now."

And then he kissed her.

To her own surprise, she kissed him back.

They broke apart a few seconds later, and Hermione realized what had happened.

"Oh my god," she said. "We just-"

"I'm sorry," Draco said. "I'm drunk. I shouldn't have-"

She shut him up by kissing him again.

"Hermione, we don't even like each other. This isn't right," Draco said.

"I'm sorry." Hermione realized she was crying. "I don't know what I'm doing."

Draco was still holding her in his arms. "I should go," he said, but didn't move. 

"Yeah."

"Can I kiss you one more time?"

Hermione leaned back in, and her salty tears mixed with the taste of firewhiskey on Draco's lips, and she knew she was only kissing him because she was upset about Ron and didn't know what else to do, but it felt good. It felt like it was the right thing to do.

The kiss ended and Draco left. Hermione hoped that everyone had been too distracted by the party to have noticed what she'd done. She started up the stairs to her room.

"Hermione!"

She turned around. Harry was standing at the bottom of the steps. 

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Going up to study," she said.

"No, I meant... I saw you with Draco."

Crap, she thought. "What are you talking about?"

"Let's go up to the boy's room and talk about it," he said.

Hermione shook her head and backed up a few steps. "I'm going to study, Harry."

Harry leaned forward, holding on to the railing. "I will climb up the railing to get up there," he said. "So if you want to avoid that awkward situation, I'd suggest coming with me."

"Is Ron going to be there?"

"No."

Hermione slowly came down the steps. "Please don't be mad at me."

"Come on."

She followed Harry up to the boys' room, which was thankfully empty of anyone (specifically Ron). Harry sat down on his bed and Hermione stood next to it, crossing her arms.

"Hermione."

"What?"

"You kissed Malfoy."

She sighed. "Well to be fair, he kissed me."

"You kissed him back. Three times."

"Can we just forget about this?" Hermione started towards the door but Harry sprang up and caught her by the arm.

"What were you thinking?"

"I... I wasn't."

"You're fraternizing with the enemy."

"The enemy? The whole point of the competition is international magical cooperation. To make friends."

"The enemy?" Hermione asked. "Just because he's in Slytherin doesn't mean we can't get along. I know you hate him, but people do things like this with random people all the time! We were drunk! It could have been anyone."

"If you'd bumped into me would you have kissed me?" 

"No."

"See?"

"But that's because I know you like Ginny."

"And you like Ron, so what's your point?"

"You saw him kissing Lavender, didn't you?"

"Is that what this is about?"

Hermione started crying and Harry pulled her to his bed. They sat down and he wrapped his arms around her. She cried into his shoulder. 

"I thought Ron liked me," she whispered.

"I thought he did too," Harry said. "I'm sorry."

"Do you think..."

"Hmm?"

"Do you think Draco likes me?" Hermione asked.

"I don't know. He did kiss you."

"I'm not sure if I want him to like me, but I want to know."

"He was drunk. It could have been anyone," Harry said. "But I don't know."

"Are you still mad at me?"

"I was never mad, 'Mione," Harry said.

"You seemed kind of mad."

"It's just that it's Draco Malfoy, of all people."

"I know he's been a jerk to you and that Slytherin and Gryffindor are kind of rivals, but can't you at least try to get along? Maybe you could give him a second chance this year. It might make things less stressful, at least."

"It's not just that, Hermione, I think Draco is a Death Eater."

"What?"

"I've had dreams."

"Harry you know you can't always believe them. Remember what happened last year?"

"Don't bring up Sirius."

"I'm sorry."

Hermione got up. "I'm going to study now. Can you, uh, not tell Ron what happened?"

"He'll probably find out."

"Just don't tell him."

"Okay," Harry said. 

Hermione started out the door.

"Hermione?"

"Yeah?"

"Get some sleep, okay?"

"Okay. I love you."
"I love you too."

Chapter Text

Hermione read her History of Magic textbook during breakfast to distract herself. She wasn't sure whether she needed more distraction from her eggs and toast or from Ron and Lavender sitting across the table practically attached at the hip. Harry was half asleep next to her, and she had to keep prodding him with her elbow whenever he started to slump towards the table.

"Didn't you get any sleep last night?" Ron asked him.

"Not much. I kept having nightmares."

"Like, regular nightmares or weird Voldemort ones?" Hermione asked, looking up from her book.

"Weird ones."

"Harry, you took Occlumency for a reason last year," she said.

Harry shrugged. "I was never good at it."

"Because you didn't try."

"Well it was Snape teaching it and I don't really want to try with him."

"You're impossible, Harry."

"Well what about you, Ron? You didn't come in 'till late last night," Harry said.

Hermione intensely read her book and took another bite of toast. 

Ron laughed. "It wasn't that late."

Hermione gnawed on her lip.

"I'm going to go," Lavender said. She got up and flounced off.

"It was like four in the morning," Harry said.

Hermione read even more intensely, although she wasn't really reading. The words swam on the page and she could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

"I was getting to know her," Ron said quietly.

"Ha. In what way?" Hermione snapped her book shut. "Did you find out what her favorite potion is and what kind of movies she likes to watch, or just what size bra she wears?"

"Hermione," Harry said.

"Well, which was it?" Hermione demanded.

"Uh, a little bit of both," Ron said. His face was turning pink.

"Great." Hermione pushed her plate away. "I'm done."

"'Mione, you have to eat more than that," Ron said.

"Don't tell me what to do."

"Hermione, please."

"I'll eat more at lunch. I lost my appetite."

Dean and Seamus sat down beside Ron and of course, Seamus said, "I heard you got it on with Malfoy last night, Hermione."

Hermione's cheeks went hot. "Where did you hear that?"

"From Dean," he said, nudging the boy beside him. 

"I, uh, heard it from Colin," Dean said.

"What happened?" Ron asked.

"Nothing," Hermione said, too fast.

"Hermione."

She blinked hard, praying that the tears would stay where they were. "I, uh, might have kissed Draco a few times. We were drunk. It's nothing."

"Bloody hell, 'Mione, Draco Malfoy? Of all people, Draco Malfoy?" 

"Look, I don't get why it's such a big deal," Hermione said. "Just let it go!"

"But it's Malfoy!" Ron cried.

"Why is that so bad?"

"Do you not remember when he called you a mudblood in second year?" Harry asked. "Or when he tried to rat us out for Dumbledore's Army last year?"

"Or when he made me puke up slugs?" Ron added.

"Technically, that was your fault," Hermione said. "And I get that he's done some bad things but people can change."

"You think Draco Malfoy can become a good person?" Seamus laughed.

"Yes, with a little bit of help. Wouldn't you want a second chance if you were him?"

Blank stares from all of the boys. 

"So I guess I'm on my own."

"Why are you defending him?" Ron asked.

"I don't know, why do you care?"

"Because you're one of my best friends and you're acting weird."

"Well you're acting weird too. Lavender Brown?"

"Hey," Harry said. "We don't need to-"

"You have a problem with me and Lavender?" Ron asked.

"Yes, I do. It came out of nowhere and now you two are being annoying and she's hardly even a competent person. Have you seen her in Potions?"

"Hermione," Harry said.

"Whatever you think about her, at least I'm not the one making out with Draco Malfoy!" Ron said.

"Guys, stop!" Harry yelled. "Just shut up! If you can't stand who the other person is kissing then just leave each other alone."

"Fine." Hermione picked up her book and got up. "I'm going to go study."

"Although I did have another dream about Draco," Harry said.

"Will you stop?" Hemione cried. "I don't want to hear about it."

"I'm telling you, he's a death eater. I've dreamed it more than once so it has got to be true."

"Your dreams aren't always right, Harry."

"They usually are."

"What about Sirius?" She regretted it as soon as she said it.

Harry wouldn't look at her. Ron was staring at her, and that was almost worse. If looks could kill, Hermione would have dropped dead right then and there.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I shouldn't have said that. That was awful of me."

"Yeah," Harry said.

"I'm sorry."

Before she caused any further damage, she left. She thought maybe she'd go study in the library during her open period that morning, or go find Ginny and see if she was mad at her too. Hopefully she didn't ruin anything else. 

On the way out of the Great Hall, she ran into Draco.

Such great luck she was having this morning.

"Uh, morning, Hermione."

"Good morning," Hermione said, trying to avoid making eye contact. What were you supposed to say to your sworn enemy that you'd just made out with?

"So about last night," Draco said.

"We were drunk. It doesn't mean anything."

Draco was quiet. "Yeah," he said after a moment. "That what I was thinking too."

"People are gonna keep talking about it," Hermione said. "But as far as we're concerned, it never happened."

"Exactly," Draco sighed.

"I'll see you around, then." Hermione stepped past him and started towards the stairs.

"Wait, Hermione," Draco called after her.

She turned around on the first step. "Yes?"

"I'm...sorry if your friends are mad at you," he said.

"Oh. Thanks. I hope your friends are taking it better than mine."

Draco let out a little laugh. "Yeah, I hope so too. See you in Potions, I guess."

"Bye." She watched Draco disappear into the Great Hall, then hurried up to the library. That had been the right thing to do, hadn't it? She didn't like Draco and he didn't like her. Draco hated muggleborns and Hermione probably topped that list. Harry and Ron hated Draco with a burning passion, and Hermione didn't want to make her friends any more mad than they already were. But something made her feel like she hadn't made the right decision. Maybe she should have given Draco a chance like she'd been telling Harry and Ron. 

But she didn't even like him, or at least she didn't think she did. She'd had a crush on Ron since fourth year, but now that he was occupied with Lavender, she kind of wanted that to go away. But she couldn't possibly like Draco. Sure, he was attractive, but he was Draco Malfoy and that was enough to turn any logical muggleborn Gryffindor like herself away. But maybe she wasn't so logical after all.

Hermione reached the library and found a spot at an empty table. She put her books and then her head down. Don't cry, she told herself. You have no reason to cry right now. And then, of course, she started crying. It would help if Ron and Harry weren't mad at her.

Someone sat down next to Hermione and put their arm around her. She looked up, and it was Ginny.

"I thought I'd find you here," Ginny said. "Are you okay?"

Hermione shrugged. "I don't know why I'm crying."

"That's okay."

"Did you hear?" Hermione asked, almost not wanting to know the answer.

"About you and Draco? Yeah."

Hermione put her head back down.

"I don't care, Hermione," Ginny said. "You can kiss whoever you want."

"We were drunk." 

"Yeah."

"So you're not mad at me?" Hermione asked, sitting back up.

"Not at all. I am mad at Ron though, because Lavender? Do you have any idea how many guys she's-"

"Four. Five if you want to count Ron," Hermione said. "Everyone makes it out like she's constantly sleeping around but she's not. I don't like her either but we don't need to slut shame her."

"Still, I can't believe he went for her. I did not see that one coming," Ginny laughed.

Hermione started crying again.

"Oh honey," Ginny said. She pulled Hermione closer into a hug. "I know."

"I don't know what to do," Hermione said. "I liked Ron but now he's mad at me and I'm mad at him and I'm just not feeling it anymore. And Draco...I don't even know where to start with that."

"I'm gonna support you no matter what you do, okay? So don't worry about people being mad at you. If they really care about you they'll support you."

"Thanks, Ginny."

Ginny stood up and offered Hermione her hand. She took it and Ginny helped her up. They walked to the Gryffindor common room hand in hand. Hermione hoped she didn't look too much like she'd been crying, especially in case they ran into Draco. Or Ron. Or anyone who knew anything, for that matter. She didn't know what they'd think. How could she blame them, though? She wasn't even sure what to think herself.

Chapter Text

Harry didn't even try to pay attention during History of Magic. The professor was a ghost and the lectures were drier than bones. Besides, Hermione always took thorough notes and Harry could just use those if he bothered to study. 

Honestly, Hermione was too good to Ron and him. She rarely complained about taking notes and checking their homework for them, although Harry was sure it was bothersome at the least. 

Ron was sitting next to Harry and passing notes back and forth with Lavender, who sat across the aisle and one row up. Hermione was up at the front of the classroom. Usually she sat right across from Ron, but she was understandably upset with him and Harry at the moment. And Harry and Ron were understandably upset in return.

Draco Malfoy? Harry tried to come to terms with it, but he couldn't believe Hermione would ever go for Draco Malfoy. He'd assumed that she liked Ron, and of course she did, or she wouldn't be so upset about him dating Lavender. But Malfoy had come out of nowhere.

And on top of all of that, Hermione shouldn't have brought up Sirius when they were all fighting at breakfast that morning. She should have known better than that. The wound was still too fresh. It had been only a few months ago that Harry had watched his godfather die, and he would regularly wake up from the same horrible dream of Sirius falling through the curtain. 

Harry couldn't get the image out of his head. It kept replaying, replaying, replaying. It just wasn't fair. From the moment he'd met Sirius nothing had been fair. And long before that, Sirius being locked up in Azkaban for twelve years hadn't been fair. Harry had hoped that one day, maybe after the war with Voldemort was over and he'd graduated from Hogwarts, he'd be able to live with Sirius for a while before really setting off on his own. Besides the Weasleys, Sirius was the closest thing Harry had to a family. And then just like that, he was gone. 

Hermione was right, of course. Harry should have tried harder with occlumency, and then he could have prevented Sirius's death. That was the worst part of the whole thing--it was Harry's fault, and he knew it. He hated to admit it, even to himself; but he knew that it was the truth. 

They'd all said some things they shouldn't have said that morning. Harry shouldn't have talked about Ron and Lavender; he knew Hermione was bothered by it. And again, if he was being honest, Hermione had a point. Lavender Brown? Harry had also assumed that Ron liked Hermione, but apparently he'd been wrong about that one.

After class, Lavender attatched herself to Ron and they hurried off to find some hidden corner where they could attack each other's faces. Hermione speedwalked in the direction of the library, and Harry had to run to catch up with her.

"Hermione," he called. "Wait up!"

Hermione put her head down and walked even faster. 

"Merlin, 'Mione, I just want to talk to you, I'm not mad!" 

Hermione stopped abruptly and spun around. "Well I am, okay?" 

Harry slowed down and stopped beside her. "I'm sorry."

"Do you even know what you're supposed to be sorry for?"

"Uh, not really," Harry said.

Hermione shook her head. "You are impossible, Harry. Absolutely impossible."

"Are you going to tell me, or-"

"About Ron and Lavender. You really weren't helping this morning. Wow, Ron, you were sure out late last night!" she said, mocking Harry.

"I'm sorry about that," Harry said. "I shouldn't have said that. I knew you were upset."

"It's okay," Hermione said. "I, uh, I said some things I shouldn't have said either. I'm sorry. I know you don't like it when people bring up Sirius."

"I forgive you," Harry said. "You're right, anyway. It was all my fault that Sirius died."

"Don't say that," Hermione said. "It was an accident. What if Sirius had really been there and we hadn't gone to save him? A lot of your dreams were real."

"So my dream about Draco could be real."

"Oh quit it with that!" Hermione cried. "I thought that conversation was over."

"Sorry. I should drop that too."

"I mean, we don't know. He could be. But I just don't think we should jump to conclusions, okay? And I think maybe there's more to Draco than we think there is. I just... I don't know."

"You're just still full of emotions from kissing him," Harry said.

"But what if I'm not? What if people really do deserve second chances?"

"You can do what you want," Harry said. "I'm not going to stop you, partially just because I know I can't. If you think Draco needs a second chance or whatever, go right ahead. I trust your judgment."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Thanks, Harry. I'm just scared Ron won't feel the same way."

Harry knew he probably wouldn't. "It doesn't matter what Ron thinks. He's not in charge of you. Besides, he's probably too busy right now to care."

Hermione laughed, although it was a little forced. "Yeah. Let's not talk about this anymore, okay? Not right now, at least."

"I agree," Harry said. "Do you need help finding any books?"

Hermione started towards the library and Harry followed her.

"No," she said, "Although I would like to tell you about this amazing new policy they're enacting in France. I read about it in a book last week and I wrote to Fleur about it..."

Harry wasn't listening. There were more important things in his mind at the moment, like the fact that Ginny was sitting in the corner of the library at that moment, locking lips with Dean.

Chapter Text

It's because she's Ron's sister, Harry told himself. Why else would he care who Ginny was kissing? Why would he care that she was kissing anyone, for that matter. Because she was Ron's sister, of course. He cared a lot about Ron and his family. The Weasleys had become like a family to Harry, and he loved them all fiercely. He didn't want anything bad to happen to any of them. He didn't want someone to go break Ginny's heart. Ginny didn't deserve that, and she'd already gone through enough rough times. In her very first year at Hogwarts, she'd been possessed by Voldemort and opened the Chamber of Secrets, only to almost die there at the end of the year.

That was enough hardship to last a lifetime. 

And then just the last spring, she'd volunteered to help save Sirius at the Ministry of Magic. They all nearly died, and couldn't even save Sirius, and Harry never forgave himself for any of that. It was his fault that Sirius died. It was his fault that he put his friends in danger.

It was just because she was Ron's sister, and it made him uncomfortable, and he didn't want her to be hurt.

At least that's what Harry tried to convince himself.

It would help if he could talk to anyone about it. But Ron was Ginny's brother, and that would be an awkward conversation. Besides, Ron was usually too busy snogging Lavender in some empty classroom. And Hermione was best friends with Ginny, and Harry couldn't be sure that Hermione wouldn't say something. 

...

At the end of October was the first meeting of the Slug Club, an elite club chosen by Professor Slughorn. It was the best of the best: anyone that Slughorn thought was worth something. Harry was in it of course, because he was Harry. Hermione was in for being the most brilliant person in the school. Neville was in it, for some reason or another. Draco was there, probably because his father would have thrown a fit if he weren't.

The meeting wasn't really a meeting, it was more of a dinner party. All the members of the club sat around a large round table, talking and getting to know each other. (Although most of the people there already knew each other far too well.)

Harry couldn't stop watching Draco from across the table. He couldn't seem to sit still, and kept pulling at his sleeves.

Hermione nudged Harry's arm. "What are you doing?" she whispered.

"Nothing," Harry replied.

"You're staring at Draco. Stop it."

"I'm just staring into space."

The Hufflepuff Quidditch captain was telling a story about a game, which would usually interest Harry, but he tuned it out and kept puzzling over Draco. 

"Have you noticed that he always wears long sleeves?" Harry asked Hermione.

"Who?"

"Draco."

"For God's sake Harry, give it up."

"Have you seen him wearing short sleeves lately?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I see him in class when he's in his uniform. And sometimes I see him in the halls in regular clothes and I guess I don't really pay attention to his sleeve length."

"They're always long."

"You sound like a stalker, Harry."

"But don't you get what that means? He could be hiding a Dark Mark."

Hermione stirred her bowl of mostly melted ice cream. "Or he's just cold."

"I know you hate it when I bring up the dreams-"

"I do," Hermione said. She put her spoon down. "Just drop it, Harry."

"But what if I'm right?" he asked.

"That would mean I was wrong, which doesn't happen much."

After the meeting, Hermione, Neville, and Harry walked back to the Gryffindor tower together. On the way there, Harry spotted Ginny and Dean kissing next to a painting. The painting was of a dozen people at a table, most of whom were looking the other way and pretending not to notice Ginny and Dean. Harry certainly noticed them, though, and it felt like he'd just taken a bludger to the gut. 

Chapter Text

Hermione stepped out of the Honeydukes sweets shop at Hogsmeade into the cold, crisp morning air, closely followed by Ron and Harry. 

“It’s not too bad after all that Lavender wasn’t feeling well,” Ron said to Harry. “I mean, if she was here I’d have to treat her to something.”

”Why do you even go out with her then?” Hermione called over her shoulder. “You obviously don’t like her that much.”

“I...We...Blimey, I don’t know, ‘Mione,” Ron said. “We have fun together.”

”Glad to bear that.”

”We never really talk about anything substantial but it doesn’t really matter.”

Hermione picked up the pace. “That seems a little superficial if you ask me.”

”Glad you two are getting along so well,” Harry said sarcastically. “Can you go one day without fighting?”

”No,” Ron and Hermione said in unison.

Hermione stopped abruptly and Ron ran into her.

”A little warning, maybe?” he groaned.

”Look,” Hermione said, gesturing up the hill ahead of them.

Floating in the air, about ten feet off the ground, was Katie Bell. Her arms were outstretched and her hair whipped around in the wind about her face, which was frozen in a silent scream. 

Standing below her was Cho Chang, crying and actually screaming.

Hermione ran over. “What happened?”

”She picked up this necklace...” Cho said, pointing to a jeweled necklace lying on the ground on top of some brown paper. 

Katie suddenly plummeted to the ground and laid there, twitching, unconscious.

Cho started towards her but Hermione caught her by the arm. 

“Wait,” she said, “I don’t know if it’s safe. Tell me what happened.”

Ron and Harry stood awkwardly to the side while Cho explained what had happened.

”We were in the Three Broomsticks and she started acting weird...almost spaced out. She got up to use the restroom and when she came back, she had that necklace. I don’t know what it is, so I told her not to touch it but—” She started crying.

”It’s going to be alright,” Hermione said, wrapping her arms around Cho. “Ron, why don’t you go find a professor?”

Ron turned and jogged back towards the buildings as well as he could through the snow that was accumulating on the ground.

”What’s Draco doing over there?” Harry asked. 

Hermione looked up just in time to see Draco’s blond head ducking around the corner of a building. “I don’t know,” she said. “I can go find out. Will you stay with Cho?”

Harry probably would have refused, since things between him and Cho had been strained since their breakup several months ago, but just then Ron came running back down the path, followed by Hagrid. Hermione didn’t wait for an answer, but instead started towards the building Draco had just disappeared behind.

Lucky for her, he was still there, intently studying a scrap of parchment.

”What are you doing?” Hermione asked him.

He startled and quickly shoved the piece of parchment into his pocket.

”Nothing, you?” he said, much too quickly.

”I was just, uh, wondering if you might know anything about what happened to Katie Bell?” she asked.

Draco glanced side to side, as if checking that no one else was nearby.

”She was cursed, obviously. I don’t know how.”

”I don’t believe you.”

”You don’t believe that she was cursed?” Draco laughed nervously.

”I don’t believe that you don’t know anything,” Hermione said. She tucked her hands into her coat pockets. “I’m going to stand here until you tell me.”

”You’ll be here for a while,” Draco said. “You might get frostbite.”

Hermione shifted her weight. “So you do know something.”

”Nothing that I’ll tell you.”

”I’ll tell you my deepest darkest secret,” Hermione said. 

“Okay, go.”

”I was anorexic.”

”I know.”

Silence.

”Your turn,” Hermione said finally.

”I...can we do this somewhere else?”

”What? Sure.”

Draco turned and walked away, not bothering to see if Hermione was following him. She was. 

They didn’t speak for the whole walk back to Hogwarts, not while they treversed the moving staircases, not while they walked through the dungeons to the Slytherin common rooms. 

“Put your hood up,” Draco ordered.

”What?” Hermione asked.

”I don’t want anyone in there to see who you are. Put your hood up.”

Hermione didn’t ask any more questions. She pulled the hood of her coat over her head and tucked all of her bushy brown hair inside the best she could. “Ready?”

”Yeah.” Draco tapped a brick on the wall and mumbled, “purebloods rule.” The wall opened.

”I’m offended,” Hermione said lightly.

”Shut up. I don’t make the passwords.”

The two of them entered the common room, and Hermione followed Draco down a gloomy hall to a bedroom with just one bed.

”You have a personal room?” Hermione asked, baffled.

”My father basically threw a fit until Dumbledore let me have one.” Draco closed the door behind him. “Just like he threw a fit until I swore to curse a necklace.”

”So it was you?” Hermione said.

”Yeah. It wasn’t meant for Katie but things got messed up. She was supposed to bring it to Dumbledore but then she touched it.”

”Why?” Hermione asked.

Draco sat gingerly on the edge of his bed. “I had to. My parents made some stupid promise with...and then another one with...ugh, I don’t know.”

“You can tell me.”

Instead, Draco took off his jacket and pulled up his sleeve to reveal a Dark Mark.

Hermione reeled back. 

“I don’t want this,” Draco said, pulling his sleeve back down. “My parents made me join, and now Voldemort wants me to kill Dumbledore and if I don’t do it then someone else will and it’s all a mess and I don’t know how to stop helping them because my parents keep checking up on me.”

”Merlin’s beard,” Hermione breathed. Feeling faint, she grabbed onto the bed frame.

”I don’t want to be a Death Eater, Hermione,” Draco said. It sounded like he was nearly in tears. “But I don’t know what to do.”