Category: Harry Potter
Warning(s): Language, Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Spoilers
Summary: Draco Malfoy is killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Before crossing into the afterlife, he is faced with a choice: Go forward into eternal damnation, or return to the world and right his wrongs. In order to fix his many mistakes, he is made a Guardian. His task? Serve and protect Hermione Granger at all costs.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and I am making no profit in the creation of this story.
AN: Thank you to my wonderful beta for this chapter EnigmaticEyes16!
Chapter One: The Illusion of Safety
It was already a few minutes after nine o'clock in the morning when Hermione felt a prickle at the base of her skull, causing her head to shoot up in a panic. Before she could even look at the old-fashioned grandfather clock across her flat, she knew she was late. She only had twenty-two minutes to get to the conference room or there'd be no hope of the amendment going through.
She'd stayed up all night working on the final revisions of her new project, knowing it had to be perfect when she presented it at work today. All of her trouble would be for nothing if she didn't make it to the meeting on time; yet, she'd somehow fallen asleep at her desk. It was possibly the worst day for such a un-Hermione-like occurrence to happen. The pretentious dullards that made up the committee overseeing her would find any reason to stall the progress she and her colleagues were trying to make, and she'd rather eat her own eye than give them the satisfaction.
Jumping up, she raced down the hall towards her bedroom. Just as she made it through the doorway, her foot caught on the corner edge of the rug. She felt her breath leave her as she tipped forward. But before she could even brace herself for the crash, her body had righted itself completely, allowing her enough time to get her legs underneath her. Hermione only permitted herself a moment of confusion before she brushed it off as yet another example of her heightened reflexes since the war.
The mirror of her vanity set proved there was a lot of work to be done before she was presentable enough to face the committee. She winced at her reflection before grabbing her wand from the top of her dresser and beginning to cast a few charms to get rid of the dark circles under her eyes. Then she grabbed an antique comb with a dragonfly handle that she'd inherited from her grandmother and ferociously set about taming her hair until it could be tied back in a neat bun.
When she was sure she'd hidden all the evidence of her all-nighter from the scrutinizing gazes of those she'd be presenting to, she placed her grandmother's comb back where she always left it on her bedside table and made for her wardrobe. She was positive she could still beat the others to the conference.
"How'd it go?" Harry asked, stepping into her office and shutting the door. "Did you give 'em hell?"
Hermione looked up from her paperwork and smiled. "I don't think they could say no to the amendment despite how much they want to. I've got the natural human right to freedom from discrimination on my side, as well as people in high places. I let Kingsley give my closing statement just to wave that part in their faces a bit. I can't imagine a scenario where it doesn't go through to the public vote."
"You're brilliant," he stated, leaning over to give her a kiss on the cheek before sitting on the edge of her desk.
She gave a mischievous grin in return. "I am, aren't I?"
Harry absentmindedly picked up a piece of parchment on which she'd written today's "To-Do List" and raised his eyebrows at her. The number one item listed was: Kick some bigoted arse. "I see you've really reigned in your ego over the years," he commented with a chuckle.
"I find that confidence gets results," she replied crisply, flushing. She ripped the offending list from his hands. "Which it did, as I've already said."
He laughed and sent her a wink. "No worries, 'Mione. If anyone has the right to confidence, it's you. I don't think you've failed at anything since you started up here at the Ministry after the war. You've got the angels on your side."
A chill ran up her spine at his words. Not a bad chill, just a keen sense of awareness that seemed to be occurring more often lately. It was true that since the war she'd been lucky. She found that even when the odds were pitted against her she managed to somehow pull through in the end. It was as if she was being looked after. When someone said something rude to her, they'd immediately be on the receiving end of bad karma. When she tripped like she'd done this morning, she'd catch herself in the nick of time. It was uncanny.
"Don't be silly," she said flippantly, despite her inner turmoil. She rose from behind her desk to swat at his shoulder as she moved to return a book she'd been using to its proper shelf. "All I've got on my side is stubborn persistence and friends in high places. It helps that the savior of the wizarding world has been going out of his way to support my amendment in the public eye. The people adore you, Harry. You could nominate a goat as the next Minister and people would vote for it just because you said so."
"That'd be a brilliant social experiment actually," he said matter-of-factly, smiling widely when she turned a playful glare on him. "I'd try it out if I weren't so keen on Kingsley remaining in office. Anyway, I was talking to Ron about the publicity your case has been gaining recently."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, it's actually something I've been wanting to discuss with you. We think this political campaign may start to get rough. There's been a lot of public outcry since this amendment. You're starting to step on some toes, to say the least."
Hermione had been expecting this for a while now. It was a chance she'd willingly took for the sake of the future of those like her. After the war, she'd only wanted one thing: to fix the laws that were segregating underprivileged people and creatures in their world based on their blood status. There'd been so many legislative wrongs in place prior to the Second Wizarding War, and they still existed today.
Hermione wanted change. She wanted equality for all magical folk and an end to the preferential treatment of purebloods. There were laws banning werewolves from employment, laws allowing for the abuse and degradation of house-elves, and many laws which clearly stated that muggle-borns and half-bloods were inferior and should be looked upon as such. It was utterly barbaric. The fact the no one had stepped up to make the reforms beforehand proved how much prejudice still existed, despite the end of the Dark Lord's reign of terror.
Her presentation this morning had only been the second amendment she'd placed before the board since she started working at the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures five years ago after the war. The first allowed centaurs the right to formally and rightfully own the land they lived on. In the past it was said that the land was owned by the Ministry of Magic and the centaurs were permitted to colonize there. Such laws allowed the Ministry to do whatever they wanted with the land the centaurs called home, which included up and moving the colonies if they so wanted. Hermione had passed an amendment allowing the leaders of the centaur herds to have ownership of their land, a legislative victory that had dulled much of the tension the creatures had toward wizarding-kind.
The current reform she was working on involved dispelling the anti-werewolf legislation put forth by Dolores Umbridge. Werewolves had been mistreated for decades, often left unemployed due to their incurable lycanthropy. This frequently resulted in poverty and starvation. Werewolves were even still listed as half-breeds under the Ministry's registry, which irked Hermione to no end. She was pushing for all werewolves to be categorized as the witches and wizards they were. Her long-term goal was to abolish the term werewolf all together in favor of people with lycanthropy.
In memory of Remus Lupin.
"Most of the public didn't really bat an eye when you started working for the centaurs," Harry continued now, absently fiddling with his glasses. "The centaurs remove themselves from the wizarding population, so they're rarely given a second thought. You know: out of sight, out of mind. Werewolves, on the other hand, are very much a part of our world. They pose an immediate threat, or so they say."
Hermione pursed her lips in annoyance. She was well aware of the situation and the arguments against those she was trying to help. "People are still afraid of them. They don't want them in their workplaces or around their children."
"Yes, and it makes it worse that many werewolves supported Voldemort in the war," Harry remarked with a frown. "The public associates all werewolves with the dark times. It angers them that you, a war hero, are standing up for what they consider the enemy."
Hermione raised her hands in the air, using motions to accent her argument. "As I told the committee earlier, people suffering lycanthropy had nowhere else to go. They were mistreated and forced from society like outcasts. The Death Eaters offered them a community to be a part of, something never before obtainable. They can't be blamed for making the choice to live instead of starve."
She took a deep breath, realizing she had gotten herself very much riled up.
"I know that and you know that," Harry argued gently, casting a finger back and forth between them. "But they don't know that. Honestly, I don't think the overall legislation will go through once it's in the public's hands. At least not now."
"You're saying that even if the committee passes it through to the public vote, it won't end in our favor," she surmised sadly, dropping into her seat with a heavy sigh. "I can't say I'd be surprised. I knew this would be more difficult than the work with the centaurs."
"No," Harry objected, reaching forward to clasp both of her hands. "I'm just saying that we've got work to do. For now, congratulations. The first part is over, so let's go celebrate with dinner. Ron will be along shortly. I told him we'd meet him at that little Italian place that opened in muggle London just a block from the Leaky Cauldron."
"Fine," Hermione murmured, still cranky from the wake-up call. "But you both owe me a drink."
Hours later, the trio apparated back to Hermione's flat with the intention of watching a film on her telly. Ron was fascinated by the device, which led to many jokes at his expense by the others who were well-versed in technology. It'd remained a novelty over the years to the redhead, especially as advancements were made in media in the muggle world. It was an endless source of amusement.
"What film shall we watch?" Hermione asked, reaching into her fridge for a bottle of white wine once realizing the boys had cleaned her out of beer the last time they'd stopped over. She grabbed a few glasses from her cabinet and filled one for each of them.
"Give us a chance to look," Ron replied, smiling his gratitude as she handed them their drinks. Harry and he squatted on the floor to look over her collection.
She laughed as she watched them bicker over which film to choose, before deciding to change into her pyjamas and get comfortable. She strolled off down the hall, happier after having dinner with her boys. They always made her feel better and see more clearly. She once again felt proud of the work she'd done that day instead of focusing on the long way left to go. If the amendment passed to a public vote it was quite an accomplishment in itself. It was important to keep sight of that through the rough roads ahead.
As Hermione stepped into her bedroom, she froze, suddenly sensing something was amiss. She felt her hair stand up at the nape of her neck and her wine slip from her fingers in surprise. Her wand was out in a moment, aimed ahead of her as she muttered a quick charm that lit up her room and dispelled the eerie shadows that were unwelcome when her nerves were so frayed. She hollered for Harry and Ron, sidestepping quickly to look behind her doors and start a sweep of her room.
Both men had their wands drawn as they quickly and quietly burst into her line of sight. They exchanged glances with each other before moving to separate sides of the room. Harry dropped to the floor and checked under the bed while Ron flicked his wrist to open her wardrobe and flick aside any clothes that could be hiding an unwanted presence. Harry jumped back up and made for the loo.
"Clear," all three of them said.
"You think someone's been here?" Ron asked, though he already knew the answer. He dropped his wand arm and glanced over at her with a look of unconcealed panic. When Harry staggered back into the room with his jaw clenched she saw a similar emotion playing across his features. She knew this was their worst nightmare. The boys cared so deeply about her well-being, and it was surely killing them to know her home had been broken into.
She nodded in reply, still feeling the uncomfortable sensation at the base of her skull that assured her someone unwelcome had breached her wards. Truth be told, she'd often felt a presence in her home other than herself. She'd never voiced the unnerving thought, because she'd never felt violated by it. This presence had been different though. She felt eyes on her, lurking dangerously as if still in the room. This was not protection; it was hunting.
"Someone's definitely been here," she whispered, eyes falling to her empty bedside table. Her blood ran cold.
Harry reached over to rub her arms, no doubt trying to ward off the goose-pimples that now covered her skin. "How do you know?"
Hermione leaned against him, concerned for the first time in a very long while about her safety. "My comb. It's gone."
Anger coursed through him, spreading through his veins like wildfire. He didn't know how the fiend had managed it. No one should have been capable of crossing his wards. He'd spent days creating the invisible wall of protection around her, enhancing it every so often as time went by. In the five years he'd stood guard as her living, breathing shadow, this had never happened. This incident meant it was beginning; his very reason for being was about to be tested.
Draco watched intently from the corner of Hermione's bedroom as Potter and Weasley pulled her protectively between them. He felt the safety of their touch melt over her as if the feeling was his own. He felt the tension leave his shoulders as her fear slowly ebbed. He hated when she was afraid, hated when she experienced any negative emotions whatsoever.
"I'll be right back," Potter announced, giving her a quick kiss on her forehead before running off, surely to alert the authorities.
Weasley gave her shoulder a squeeze. "I'm going to get a towel to help you clean up the spill."
Hermione's answering smile was small but thankful.
The moment Weasley was out the door, Draco took a step closer to her. The magnetic pull he detected when he was around her was infuriating, a constant tug that he'd been able to feel between his shoulder blades since the moment he'd Tagged her five years ago. He hesitated when he was close enough to touch her, hating the temptation he felt to reach out. Instead, he raised his hand and let a gentle breeze flow from his fingers, propelling her curls lightly away from her neck so that he could see her mark. His mark.
Her emotions flared up again, sending him a wave of confusion. She'd felt him. Draco scrutinized her carefully as she turned towards him, eyes wide and alert. For a second, he thought she'd seen him, but then those piercing brown eyes moved right over him as usual. He was hit with a sudden sense of longing. He didn't know if the emotion was hers or his; either way, he felt relief knowing his life of hiding from her was almost over.
It was time.
AN: There's chapter one for your reading pleasure! The next chapter will start picking up. It'll also have some more Draco in it, which I personally am very excited for. As always, let me know what you think by reviewing! And if you have an opinion, please go to my profile here and take my poll for my next pairing. Sirius/Hermione is currently in the lead!