Chapter Eleven: Of Magids and Mirrors
"Whatever you say, Malfoy," said Harry, and, with surprising gentleness, laid Salazar Slytherin's sword in the crook of Draco's arm.
Draco closed his hand around it. "Thanks, Potter," he said, with visible effort.
Sirius, Harry and Hermione exchanged worried looks. Leaving Harry and Hermione sitting on either side of Draco, Sirius got up and walked over to the flying car. The Weasley brothers had just finished stuffing the unconscious Lucius Malfoy headfirst into the boot, and were looking at each other in a satisfied manner.
"Hallo, Sirius," said Ron as he approached. "We put Lucius in the back, like you said."
"Thanks," said Sirius. "But he isn't the Malfoy I'm concerned about at the moment."
Fred shook his head. "I never thought I'd feel sorry for Draco Malfoy," he said. "But I kind of do now. Mind, I still don't like him. But his own father trying to kill him like that..." Fred shuddered. "Makes me feel lucky by comparison."
"You are lucky," said Sirius shortly.
Ron was biting his lower lip. "Was Lucius really trying to kill him?" he asked.
"Oh, yes," said Sirius. "Nearly succeeded, too. And might still, if we don't get Draco back to Hogwarts soon. He's dying."
George dropped the car keys. "Dying?" he echoed, staring at Sirius in shock.
"Get the car ready," said Sirius shortly, and walked back to Draco. He knelt down next to him and said, "Can you walk?"
Draco seemed to be giving this consideration. Then he said, with a faint look of surprise, "Actually. No."
Hermione looked as if she were going to burst into tears, but didn't.
"Never mind," said Sirius roughly, bent down, and picked Draco up as if he weighed no more than a child might, not a nearly full-grown adult. As he lifted him, the sword fell out of Draco's grasp and thudded to the ground.
Harry picked it up and held it out to Sirius, who reached out his free hand and took it by the hilt.
And dropped it again, immediately, as if he had been burned.
When he spoke again, it was in an oddly constrained voice. "Harry. You take the sword."
"Okay," said Harry, looking surprised.
"And don't let anyone else touch it," said Sirius, and started walking with Draco back to the car.
"What was that about?" asked Hermione wonderingly.
But Harry wasn't paying attention. Looking after Sirius and Draco, he said, in an tight voice, "I had forgotten how strong Sirius is."
She turned and looked at Harry, and he looked back. It was the first time he had looked her in the eye since their conversation on top of the cliff earlier. She couldn't help feeling like there was something different about the way he was looking at her. Something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Do you think he's going to die?" she asked.
Harry shook his head. "I hope not," he said, and stood up, picking up the sword as he did so. "But Sirius seems to think he's pretty weak. I really don't know."
As she followed Harry back to the car, Hermione glanced down at the Epicyclical Charm in her hand. It was a nastily beautiful thing - white gold outlining a pendant of glass, inside which was a single one of Draco's baby teeth. She could see where Lucius' nails had dented the soft, pure gold, where his hand had bent the glass until it curved like the lens of a telescope.
Sirius had put Draco in the back of the car, where he slumped against the window, his arms around himself as if he were cold. He gave Hermione a faint smile as she climbed in next to him, then shut his eyes. Sirius got in next to her.
Harry was sitting up front, with the Weasleys.
Hermione watched Draco breathing as George backed the car up, then drove it up into the air and swooped out over the cliff. Over her shoulder, she had a feeling Sirius was watching him breathe as well. Not that she had the faintest idea what she would do if he suddenly stopped.
She glanced down as they sailed out over the Pit, inky black and infinite under the lightening night sky. She was still holding the charm in her fist, and something occurred to her. Wherever the Charm was it would always be a danger to Draco, vulnerable as it was to damage and breakage. But if she flung it into the Pit - it would fall, and fall forever, untouched by any force other than wind. She had been wondering what could possibly be done with it, now...
She turned toward the back of the car, gripping the charm, wondering if she should throw it. Then she felt a light touch on her wrist.
She glanced down and saw, to her surprise, that it was Draco. He was very pale, the skin under his eyes almost translucent, but he was awake. He whispered, "Don't."
She stared at him. Did he know what it was?
"I think I do know what it is," he said. "I've always sort of known. But I want you to keep it."
"Keep it?" Hermione was horrified. "I don't want -"
"Please," he said, and shut his eyes.
Slowly, Hermione drew her hand back. With a feeling of grave reluctance, she undid the chain, placed it around her neck, and fastened the clasp. She felt the cold of it against her skin as the pendant dropped down inside her shirt. It was heavy. Much heavier than she would have thought. Like an anchor around her neck.
The sky had lightened to slate blue by the time they landed on the Hogwarts grounds, and Draco was now quite unconscious and could not be shaken awake. As soon as they touched down, Sirius jumped out of the car. "I'm going for Dumbledore," he said, dropped to all fours in his canine form, and bolted for the castle.
Nobody could think of anything to say. The Weasleys went to make sure that Lucius was still unconscious in the trunk. Hermione and Harry sat, watching Draco breathe. Hermione wanted to ask him whether he was still angry with her, but it seemed somehow rude to have such a conversation with Draco there, even if he was unconscious. At last, she said,
"Harry, are you all right?"
He glanced up at her. "I'm fine," he said. His voice was devoid of expression, and he still had that odd look on his face that she couldn't quite identify.
"Your wrists are still bleeding," she said in a small voice. "Do you want-"
He got out of the car without looking at her, and went over to the Weasleys. Hermione sat where she was, trying not to cry.
And then Sirius was back, with Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey, and everything was a blur. Madam Pomfrey ordered them all away from Draco, magicked up a stretcher, lifted him onto it, and they hurried away with it without a backward glance. They all watched her go with various degrees of misigiving.
"Professor," said Hermione in a small voice, "Did she say whether he was going to be all right?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "As to that," he said heavily, "I cannot, at the moment, say." He turned to the Weasleys. "I know you must be tired, boys," he said, and added, with a slight twinkle, "And I know your father must want his car back. But I would like to ask you if you would do one more favor for us."
They nodded agreement.
"We need you to take Lucius to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and turn him over to the Aurors there," said Dumbledore. "I have spoken to them. They will be expecting you." He turned to Sirius. "Sirius, give them the details. I need to go to the hospital wing and see if I can be of assistance to Madam Pomfrey. Harry and Hermione...come with me, please."
"There is one thing, Professor," said Sirius quickly. "The sword I told you about -Harry has it."
Dumbledore looked at Harry. "May I see it?"
Harry handed it to him, and Dumbledore looked at it consideringly. "I see," he said, after a long pause, and then handed it back to Harry. "Don't let anyone else touch this," he said, just as Sirius had. He turned and headed back towards the castle, and Harry and Hermione hurried after him.
"How is he?" asked Dumbledore, staring down at the pale boy in the bed. Harry and Hermione, on either side of him, looked on with unhappy expressions.
"He'll live," said Madam Pomfrey, who looked tired but much less worried. "I gave him several Strengthening Draughts and an Energy Potion. There's no lasting damage, and he may well wake up soon. The boy is actually quite strong, although he doesn't look it."
"I want to be notified the moment he is awake," said Dumbledore.
The door to the ward opened, and Sirius came in. 'They've gone," he said to Dumbledore.
Madam Pomfrey was looking irritable. "This is a hospital wing, not a train station," she snapped. "This boy needs to rest."
Hermione wanted to smile at Harry. She was so used to hearing Madam Pomfrey speak those words when Harry was under her care, as he often was after some strange adventure he'd gotten himself mixed up in. But Harry wouldn't look at her.
"You're right, Poppy," said Dumbledore equably. "Harry, come back to my office with me, I'd like to talk to you. Sirius and Miss Granger, you may remain here with Draco if you like."
Dumbledore left with Harry, and Sirius and Hermione took seats on either side of Draco's bed. It was true that he did look better. Some color had come back into his face.
Hermione was glad to be alone with Sirius. She had wanted to ask him something. Reaching into her blouse, she pulled out the Epicyclical Charm and showed it to him. "Draco wanted me to keep this, but I don't know what I should do with it," she said. "I was going to toss it into the Bottomless Pit, but.."
"Good thing you didn't," said Sirius. "If Lucius ever goes to trial, we'll need that as evidence. It's ten years in Azkaban for making one of those things, and probably a further ten years for trying to kill someone with it. And when that person is your own son...."
"Good," said Hermione, with finality. "Sirius..."
"Why won't you let anyone but Harry touch that sword?" she asked.
In answer, Sirius held up his hand and she saw what looked like an angry red burn across his palm. "That's why," he said. "If I'd held it longer it would have charred away my hand."
"But Draco touched it, and he's all right," she said.
"Yes he is," said Sirius, turning to look at Draco again. "Which opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities."
"You're not going to tell me, are you?" she said crankily. "You're just going to be cryptic."
"That's me," agreed Sirius. "Cryptic Man. Cryptic Dog Man, to be precise."
"Actually, there was something I wanted to tell you," said Sirius.
She raised her eyebrows inquiringly.
"Don't be too hard on Harry," he said calmly. "The people he's really loved in his life, well, they tend to die. Makes him jumpy about expressing emotion."
"Maybe we could do a little less of the advice-giving," said Draco, "and a little more of the taking care of the patient? I am the focus of attention here, am I not?"
They both jumped and stared at him. He was awake and looking at them, not smiling, but with amusement in his clear grey eyes.
"Draco!" cried Hermione happily, and threw her arms around him.
"Ow," he said, but he was smiling now.
"Sorry," she said, pulling back, "Did I hurt you?"
"Getting stomped on by ten Death Eaters hurt me," said Draco. "You just...reminded me."
Sirius was looking at him hard. "How long have you been awake?" he said. "Did you hear us talking about the Epicyclical Charm?"
"Yeah," said Draco, not smiling any more.
Sirius opened his mouth, but Draco shook his head. "It's all right," he said. "I get it. I get as much as I want to. Don't explain."
Sirius shut his mouth and stood up, still looking worried. "I'm going for Dumbledore," he said. "I'll be right back."
"Harry," said Dumbledore, after a long pause.
Harry had just finished telling Dumbledore his version of the past week's events. They were sitting in the Headmaster's office, a beautiful circular room of which Harry was very fond. This was lucky, since he seemed to end up there quite a lot.
Dumbledore was obviously thinking much the same thing. "I had been hoping this would be the term that did not end with you sitting in my office looking as if you had just survived a goblin rebellion. Alas, this appears to have been too much to hope for," he lamented. "In addition, we have Aurors scrambling all over England at the moment, trying to put Memory Charms on all the Muggles who have reported seeing wizards drop out of the sky, thanks to your friend Miss Granger's extremely effective Whirlwind Charm. As for Lord Voldemort-" Dumbledore sighed. "We have no idea where he may be."
"I'm really sorry about all this, Professor," said Harry listlessly.
Dumbledore's eyebrows lifted. "Come, Harry," he said. "You must know that I don't blame you. Any more than I blamed you for having your name put in the Goblet of Fire."
"Yeah," said Harry in the same listless voice, "Everything happens to me, doesn't it?"
"You are special," said Dumbledore. "Even you do not know how special."
"So tell me," said Harry.
"I plan to," said Dumbledore unexpectedly. "But I am waiting for young Malfoy to wake up first, as it concerns him as well," he added, even more unexpectedly.
Harry stared. "What's it got to do with Malfoy?"
Now Dumbledore was looking at him consideringly. "You don't like him, do you?"
"Not much," said Harry, staring at the floor.
"And yet you offered your own life for his, by your account and Sirius'," said Dumbledore. "And he for you. Why is that?"
"I-don't know," said Harry, looking startled. "Professor -"
"Lucius Malfoy said his family were descended from Slytherin. And this sword, here, was his. But you told me there were no descendents of Slytherin left besides Voldemort."
"I was wrong," said Dumbledore cheerfully. "It happens. Salazar Slytherin lived many hundreds of years ago. Certainly there are some descendants of his still living. None with a really significant concentration of Slytherin blood, though. Or so I thought. It's rather like you, having Gryffindor blood-"
Harry upset the ink-bottle he had been toying with. "I've got Gryffindor blood?"
"Oh, dear," said Dumbledore cheerfully. "That was meant to be a secret."
"Well, no wonder Malfoy and I don't like each other, then," said Harry. "Gryffindor and Slytherin, they didn't like each other, either."
"You and Malfoy put me in mind of two other boys I knew once," said Dumbledore. "I had them in my office more times than I could count. How they detested each other! And yet. By the end of their acquaintance, they would have died for each other. That I know."
Harry looked at Dumbledore curiously.
"James Potter and Sirius Black," said Dumbledore.
Astonished, Harry was about to protest, when the door opened and Sirius stuck his head in. "Professor," he said. "Draco Malfoy's awake. I think you should see him."
'It's too bad Dad couldn't be here," said George Weasley, using his wand to direct an unconscious Lucius Malfoy's progress up the stairs of the Magical Law Enforcement building. (Ron had been left at the curb with the unenviable task of preventing passers-by from bumping into the invisible car.) "He's always wanted to see the Malfoys get it in the neck."
"Quit bashing Lucius into the pillars, George," said Fred.
"Sorry," said George unrepentantly. "My wand hand's a little shaky."
A small crowd of Law Enforcement Wizards was waiting for them inside the building. Among them was Mad-Eye Moody, standing next to a tall witch whose hood was pulled down. He winked at them with his magical eye as they came in.
George took his wand off Lucius, who fell to the ground in the center of the circle of wizards and lay there, snoring slightly. "Here you go," he said cheerfully. "Lucius Malfoy. He's all yours, gentlemen."
The wizards goggled at him.
Mad-Eye Moody took the lead, "Dumbledore said you caught Malfoy with an illegal Epicyclical Charm," he growled. "Is that true?"
Fred and George began talking at once.
"He kidnapped Sirius Black--"
"Used the Cruciatus Curse on Hermione Granger -- she's a Hogwarts student--"
"Loads of Black Arts stuff in his house --"
"Tried to kill his own son with that Epicyclical thing-- we saw him--"
"He's a criminal!" said George in conclusion. " Throw the book at him."
"Or," added Fred hopefully, "You could throw larger, heavier things."
"Like rocks," suggested George.
"Witnesses?" asked one of the wizards, sounding irritable.
"What?" said Fred, caught off guard.
"Witnesses," rumbled Mad-Eye Moody. "It's not that we don't know Lucius Malfoy is a bad lot. We've known that for years. But there's never been anyone who'd testify against him."
Fred and George looked at each other. "Well," said George uncertainly. "Us. We're witnesses."
The wizards looked dubious.
"And Sirius Black," added George.
The wizards still looked dubious. Although Sirius had been cleared the year before of the murder charge against him (aided by Dumbledore and the fact that it had become evident that Peter Pettigrew was still alive and a cohort of Voldemort's) he was still far from being considered an upstanding member of the magical community.
"And Harry Potter," said Fred desperately.
There was some muttering at this. Most of the magical world considered Harry a hero, but there were plenty who distrusted his still-mysterious history and powers. George caught the words "Parselmouth" and "Always full of some mad story, isn't he?"
Fred and George looked at each other with dawning anxiety.
"I'll testify," said a voice.
Everyone turned to see who had spoken. It was the slender witch standing next to Mad-Eye Moody, who until now had been silent. The witch raised her hands and pushed her hood back.
It was Narcissa.
Mad-Eye was grinning. He had obviously been expecting this. Fred and George, however, were floored.
"I'll testify," she said again. "I am Narcissa Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy was my husband. I can confirm that he is indeed guilty of all the charges laid at his door. In addition, I will open Malfoy Mansion to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement and allow your Aurors free rein over all its passages. There should be enough Dark Magic material there to keep them busy for a year. I will also," she went on, now speaking directly to Mad-Eye Moody, who was looking as if Christmas had come early, "give you all of Lucius' papers. There is much in there regarding Lord Voldemort and what he and my husband termed The Plan. It should make for interesting reading."
"But--but why?" stuttered one of the wizards.
"Because I want something from you in return," Narcissa replied.
"Indeed?" said Mad-Eye Moody, looking as if he already knew. "And what is that?"
"I don't want Lucius sent to Azkaban," said Narcissa.
George and Fred were horrified.
"Why not?" cried Fred.
"You can't mean they should let him go?" protested George.
Narcissa looked at the prone figure of her husband for a long moment. "I do not ask for myself," she said. "I would be happy to see him in Azkaban for life. But we have a child. Draco. My son." She looked up at Moody. "I don't want him thinking about his father in Azkaban. Thinking of him suffering, going mad." She turned to the rest of the wizards. "I ask that you send him to St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies instead. To the section for the criminally insane."
"I think we can agree on that," said Mad-Eye quickly.
There was a long silence. Then the other wizards nodded agreement.
"Is it really horrible there?" asked George hopefully.
Mad-Eye grinned at him, but the other wizards were busy talking amongst themselves and ignored the Weasleys. One of the wizards magicked up a stretcher and levitated Lucius onto it. Several of the other wizards broke off from the group to escort Lucius away, presumably to a holding cell of some sort.
The rest of the wizards seemed interested only in talking to Narcissa, but she stepped away from them and walked over to Fred and George.
"I wanted to thank you," she said. "Dumbledore sent Mad-Eye to me and he told me what happened. I wanted to thank you for everything you did for Draco."
George blushed. Narcissa might be a good deal older than he was, and Draco Malfoy's mother to boot, but she was still very beautiful. "It was nothing," he said.
"Would you do me a favor?" she went on, and held out an envelope to them. "I wrote Draco a letter, since I can't be with him right now. Will you give it to him?"
"Sure. Of course," said George, taking the letter.
"Thank you," she said again, bent down, kissed each of them on the cheek, and walked back to the wizards, who escorted her out of the room. Fred and George, now both beet red under their red hair, headed back to the car.
When Harry, Dumbledore and Sirius walked into the room, Hermione and Draco were talking. She was leaning forward with her elbows on his pillow, and he had his head turned towards her. They were chatting animatedly, and only broke off when Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Feeling better. Mr Malfoy?" he said, twinkling. He took a seat next to Draco, and Harry and Sirius sat down opposite him. Harry was holding Salazar Slytherin's sword across his lap. It looked incongruous in the hospital room.
"Harry," said Dumbledore. "And Draco." Dumbledore looked from one to the other over the rim of his gold spectacles. "Do either of you," he said, "know what a Magid is?"
Harry and Draco looked at him blankly.
Dumbledore turned to Hermione, who had the expression she usually got in class when she knew the answer to a question and nobody else did. "Miss Granger?"
"Well, Professor Binns told me that a Magid is a rare kind of wizard, born with special talents," said Hermione promptly. "Salazar Slytherin was one. So was Rowena Ravenclaw. You are, Professor. And-" She hesitated. "The Dark Lord is one."
"A Magid is indeed a rare kind of wizard or witch," Dumbledore agreed. "Rare and very powerful. A Magid can perform magic without the use of a wand, can resist many curses and hexes, and can survive spells that would easily kill any other wizard." He turned to Harry. "Do you remember, Harry, when you asked me why Voldemort wanted to kill you when you were a baby?"
Harry nodded, looking unhappy. "You said I couldn't know then, but you would tell me eventually."
"I'm telling you now," said Dumbledore. "You are a Magid, Harry."
Both Draco and Hermione whipped around to look at Harry, who was pale with surprise. Sirius didn't look surprised at all - it was obvious he had already known.
"I am?" Harry said, sounding shocked.
"Yes, you are," said Dumbledore. "You are a very powerful Magid indeed."
"Oh, typical," said Draco, sounding irritated. "Now Potter's a Magid, on top of everything else?"
Dumbledore turned to Draco, who blanched for a moment, thinking the Headmaster was about to tell him off. Instead, Dumbledore said, "You are a Magid as well, Mr Malfoy. And, if I am not mistaken, a far more powerful one than Harry."
Draco turned even paler than Harry had. "Are you sure?" he asked, sounding very dubious indeed.
"I wasn't," said Dumbledore. "I have always known it about you," he said, turning back to Harry. "We knew it when you were born. It was why Voldemort wanted to kill you, why your parents had to go into hiding with you. He did not want a Magid child born to two of his greatest enemies, two of my greatest supporters. He knew that when you become old enough, you would become a weapon with which we could strike at him."
'What about me?" interrupted Draco. "Why didn't he try to kill me?"
"Why should he?" said Dumbledore reasonably. "You are the child of his closest supporter. Think what a weapon you could have been in his arsenal! You could have been the greatest Death Eater of them all." Dumbledore shook his head. "Your father kept it very quiet, Draco. Parents with Magid children are supposed to register them with the Ministry at birth; he never registered you. I doubt anyone knew about you besides Lucius and Voldemort himself. Various tools of divination that I myself employ indicated to me that there was another Magid at Hogwarts, but I never knew who it was."
Draco was quiet, remembering something his father had said to him that morning; The Dark Lord had such high hopes for you, Draco.
"How do you know?" he asked Dumbledore. "How do you know I am one?"
"That sword, for instance," said Dumbledore, pointing at it where it lay across Draco's lap. "That is a very powerful magical object, Draco. Only a Magid could touch that sword. Then there is the fact that Lucius made an Epicyclical Charm from your teeth when you were a baby. He used it to control you and your mother, that's true, but it also allowed him to draw on some of your Magid powers. It made him a much stronger wizard than he would have been otherwise."
Draco and Harry were both goggling at the Headmaster. Hermione said, "Professor Dumbledore?"
"Is the reason the Polyjuice Potion affected Harry and Draco in the way it did...is that because they're Magids?"
"A good guess, Miss Granger. In some ways, an accurate guess. The Polyjuice spell lasted the way it did, in fact, because Mr Malfoy caused it to."
"Lucius did what?" said Harry blankly.
"He means me, idiot," said Draco. "And I did nothing of the sort!" he added, glaring at Dumbledore.
"Oh, yes you did," said Dumbledore, twinkling. "If I might be so bold as to make the statement that you and Harry have always had, shall we say, a rivalry of sorts..."
"He's jealous of me, if that's what you mean," interrupted Draco.
Harry rolled his eyes.
"Indeed," said Dumbledore. "Well, I posit this theory. When you took the Polyjuice Potion, Mr Malfoy, and it turned you into Harry, you immediately saw the advantage in the situation to yourself. To be Harry. To live his life. See as he saw. Learn his secrets. You father has taught you to find weakness and exploit it as a matter of course, has he not?"
Draco looked ashen. "I..."
"Professor," protested Sirius.
Dumbledore ignored them both. "He has taught you other such things," he went on in the same measured tone. "To see evil when good is offered, to slight those beneath you and fawn on those above you. To favor nothing over immediate personal gain."
"I never..." said Draco weakly. "Not on purpose..."
"I said he taught you," said Dumbledore. "I did not say you learned. I think there were other advantages to you in becoming Harry. You have always thought of Harry as someone to whom goodness comes easily. In Harry's skin, you could allow yourself to follow the natural, better inclinations which as yourself, you stifled. You could be good. Brave. Heroic." He looked at Draco, very hard, over the top of his spectacles. "I am not saying that you consciously affected the Polyjuice spell," he went on. "I am saying that you willed it to continue, no ordinary wizard could have done that. You made the charm last as long as it did. You used your own energy, Magid energy, to keep the spell from expiring. And, as I understand, it took another Magid to take the spell off you."
Draco was staring at the Headmaster, mouth open.
"I have one more question, Professor," said Hermione in a small voice.
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"If Draco and Harry are Magids...why hasn't Harry shown any sign of it? And why didn't Draco show any sign of it until now?"
"It is a trait that does not usually show itself until late adolescence. It can be random, or it can take various stimuli to activate it."
"Like what?" asked Harry, curiously.
Harry wasn't completely sure but it seemed to him that Dumbledore looked faintly embarrassed. "Strong emotion of a particular sort," Dumbledore said. "Danger works, too. In fact, in the old days, if a Magid child hadn't shown any sign of ability by the time they were eighteen or so, the Ministry would usually send them up against a dragon or some other such monster."
Harry looked anxious. "I've already faced a dragon, and I haven't shown any signs of being a Magid, Professor..."
"That's all right, Harry," said Dumbledore cheerfully. "We'll give you another two years, then we'll feed you to a basilisk."
Harry squinted at him. He was fairly sure Dumbledore was joking. Wasn't he?
"I'll talk to the two of you at length about this later," said Dumbledore. "I fear that if we overstay our welcome any longer, Madam Pomfrey will have strong words for me."
Hermione smiled at Draco as she got up. "I'll come back tomorrow," she said.
Harry laid the sword down on Draco's bed, where he could put his hand on it if he wanted to. "Later, Malfoy," he said.
Is there any chance, Professor," asked Harry, as they left the room, "that my Magid blood comes from Godric Gryffindor?"
"Old Godric the Grouchy, as my partner Nicholas Flamel used to call him?" said Dumbledore, looking cheerful. "Oh, I doubt it, Harry. He wasn't a Magid. Not at all. Great warrior, of course. Very brave. Always shouting. That was how he terrified the enemy, you know, with his dreadful battle cries."
"I thought it was his courage and tactical brilliance," said Harry.
"Oh, no," said Dumbledore. "All down to shouting, really."
Sirius and Dumbledore headed back to his office to talk, and Hermione and Harry, both of whom were exhausted, walked slowly back to Gryffindor Tower. They paused at the portrait hole, and Hermione turned to Harry.
"Are you pleased?" she said, in a small voice. "About being a Magid?"
"Sure," said Harry. He looked peaked and drawn with exhaustion, there were black smudges of tiredness under his green eyes. "You bet I am."
She stared at him, and understood suddenly what it was that seemed different about his expression. It was flat, unreadable - and she had never been unable to read Harry's expressions before. She had thought she knew every tone and shade of emotion in his voice, on his face, but now...whatever it was he was feeling, he was hiding it from her.
"Harry, about before -"
"No," he said fiercely.
She stopped. "No what?"
"No, I don't want to talk to you right now," he said in a flat voice.
"Let me guess," he said, turning to face her and looking as angry as she had ever seen him, "you thought of something else really hurtful to say, but you didn't want to wait until tomorrow, because the really fun part is that look on my face."
Hermione was shocked. "Harry, I'm sorry--"
"I don't want to talk to you about this," he said. "I don't know why you're bringing it up again. Maybe you want to tell me again how much I've hurt you, how my behavior has ruined any chance I might have had with you. And then you'll go off and flirt with Malfoy, just like you did before. Because apparently everything he's done hasn't ruined his chances with you."
She opened her mouth to protest, then closed it. He was right. She had flirted with Draco in front of him. And maybe she had done it to hurt him. If she had, it had obviously worked. Which was small consolation.
Harry turned around. "Boomslang," he said to the portrait, and it swung open.
"Harry, I'm sorry," she said again, desperately. "Whatever you want me to say -"
"Right now there's only one thing I want," he said. "I want out of this conversation."
He stepped through the portrait hole. After a moment, Hermione followed him.
Ron, Fred and George were grouped around the fire, and greeted their entry with happy cries. Harry walked over to them and flung himself down in a chair. Hermione, feeling herself on the verge of tears, turned the other way and ran up the steps to the girls' dorm.
Halfway up the stairs, she heard someone calling her, and turned around.
It was Ron. "Hermione, wait," he said.
She came down a few steps until she was standing just above him and he had to tilt his head back to look at her (a rare experience for Ron, who was one of the tallest boys in school.) "What is it?" she asked.
"Are you in love with Malfoy?" he said sharply.
"You heard me," he said, sounding very stern. "Because Harry thinks you are. I told him you weren't, but he doesn't believe it."
"If Harry wants to know, why doesn't he ask me?" she said angrily.
"Oh, I dunno," said Ron, irritably, "maybe because last time he asked you anything you nearly took his head off."
"Oh, so everyone knows about that, now?"
"Hermione," said Ron, sounding a bit desperate now, "You can't honestly be thinking of taking up with Draco Malfoy can you? I mean, it's completely mad. He'll never make you happy, he'll just lead you a dance while he goes larking off with other girls behind your back, and he'll probably join a rock band and dye his hair blue and you'll have to wait at home with the kids while he swans around and eventually he'll leave you with nothing but memories and weedy little blond children."
"Ron," said Hermione respectfully, "sod off, will you? You have no idea what you're talking about, you sound completely mad."
"At least I'm not talking about dating Draco Malfoy!"
"That's because he'd never have you, you're not his type. And you're wrong about him."
"Oh?" said Ron, looking furious, "and how is that?"
"He'd never dye his hair blue, he's far too vain," said Hermione, turned around, and walked into the girls' dormitory. Ron stood on the stairs, feeling extraordinarily irritated as the realization dawned on him that he hadn't gotten any sort of answer to his question.
As soon as the others had gone, Madam Pomfrey set to work healing the last of Draco's cuts and bruises. Half-asleep, eyes shut, he could feel light touches on his face, his neck and shoulders, as she healed the grazes and gashes there, the black eye and cut lip the Death Eaters had given him. She moved down to his sprained wrist and fixed that, too. Then she reached for his cut-open hand.
"No," said Draco, pulling it back. "Leave it alone."
Madam Pomfrey was startled to see that his eyes were open, but didn't show it. "Don't be ridiculous," she said. "That's quite a deep cut, you'll have a scar there."
"I said leave it alone," said Draco, giving her what he hoped was a threatening look.
"You want the scar?" she asked in disbelief.
He brought his hand up to his chest and curled it into a fist. "Just leave it," he said again.
"Fine," said Madam Pomfrey, shaking her head. As she moved on to the scratches and cuts on his legs and feet, Draco brought his hand up to his face and squinted at it. Harry had cut a deep and jagged line across his palm, slashing side-to-side. It was hard to say in the dim light, but if he squinted at it, it looked a little like a bolt of lightning.
Exhausted as she was, Hermione found that there was little chance she would be able to get any sleep before telling the entire story of what had happened to Lavender and Parvati, who greeted her arrival with screams of happiness. Not, Hermione thought dourly as she sat in bed in her pyjamas (Narcissa's beautiful but now quite destroyed satin dress was folded neatly on her dresser) because they were so happy to see her, but because they were looking forward to some really good gossip.
"You kissed Draco Malfoy in a WARDROBE?" Lavender demanded, when Hermione was finally finished.
"Well, that wasn't really the point of the story," said Hermione, "but yes."
"But he's so...evil," said Parvati, her mouth open.
"Yet oddly attractive," said Lavender, beginning to giggle. "Come on, Parvati...he is cute...I've never seen anyone else with hair that color. Like Christmas tinsel."
"I guess," said Parvati, looking unconvinced.
"Did he get all sweaty?" asked Lavender. "Did he take off any of his clothes?"
"LAVENDER," howled Hermione. "I'M NOT TELLING YOU THAT."
"Well, how about Harry?" asked Lavender unrepentantly. "How about kissing him? Was it great?"
Hermione pondered whether kissing Harry could be called 'great'. It had been shattering, heart-breaking, wonderful and awful at the same time. Was that 'great'?
"It was okay," she said.
Lavender rolled her eyes. "That's exciting," she said.
Parvati said, curiously, "So are you going out with Draco now?"
Hermione considered this. "I don't know," she said.
"But you aren't going out with Harry," said Lavender, in an offhand tone.
"He's not speaking to me," said Hermione. "So that would be a no. We're not going out, and," she added, with a pang, "I doubt we ever will be."
"Well," Lavender said, with slight hesitation, "since it didn't work out with you and Harry, I was wondering...if you'd mind...if I asked him out."
Hermione stared at Lavender with her mouth open. "Lavender! Honestly!"
Lavender didn't seem abashed. "I recognize you haven't done a lot of dating, Hermione," she said coolly, "so you might not know how this works. I can't speak for everyone, but I've stayed away from Harry for the past few years because we knew you liked him and we thought he liked you. Now, though..."
"What'd you think, Hermione?" snorted Parvati. "Harry's famous, he's rich, he's good-looking and he's nice, too. Plus he's saved the world, oh, five or six times now. Of course, he's a terrible dancer," said added thoughtfully, "but most people don't know that."
"And our last year is coming up," said Lavender. "We're going to need partners for the Yule Ball, for the Seventh Years' Dance, and Harry'll be Quidditch Captain by then..."
"And whoever goes with Harry'll probably get their picture in Witch Weekly," chimed in Parvati.
Hermione looked at them both as if they had suddenly turned into werewolves. ""Are you telling me," said Hermione, "that from now on it's open season on Harry?"
"Well," said Parvati, "pretty much, yes."
Hermione realized that after six years of hanging out almost exclusively with Harry and Ron, she obviously didn't know the first thing about other girls. She gazed at Lavender in mute horror, and Lavender gazed back, looking sympathetic but firm. "I'm sorry, Hermione," she said. "But you really shouldn't care...should you?"
Hermione slept through that day and most of the next. When she finally got up and went down to lunch on wobbly legs, she found that the world she had known had changed overnight.
There was never any point trying to keep secrets at Hogwarts. Especially when they had to do with Harry. Everyone knew what had happened, where Harry and Hermione and Ron had gone, that Draco Malfoy's father was in jail, that Draco had nearly died, and that he and Hermione were now rumored to be, if not going out, at least seeing each other.
When she walked into the Great Hall, everyone turned and stared at her. She looked, out of habit, immediately for Ron and Harry. She found them, sitting at the Gryffindor table with Fred and George. When they saw her, Ron gave her a nervous smile.
But Harry looked away.
Hermione bit her lip hard. She would not cry. She looked away from them -and saw Draco. He was sitting at the Slytherin table, taking up three seats with his long legs as usual. When he caught sight of her, he smiled.
That decided it. Without even thinking about it, she walked across the hall and sat down next to him.
She heard the hissing buzz of voices that raced around the room like wildfire, but she didn't care. She was just happy to see Draco. His left hand was wrapped in white bandages but other than that he looked as healthy as he ever had.
"Hey," he said, as she sat down next to him, and he folded up the Daily Prophet he had been reading. "Do you know what I've been thinking?"
"No," she said, smiling.
"What to name our first child," he said. "I suppose that depends on whether it's a boy or a girl. If it's a boy, I was thinking Draco Junior. Or we could always name it Harry, just to confuse old Four-Eyes. He'd never know what to make of it."
"Draco..." she spluttered, then saw that he was grinning, and threw a waffle at him.
He ducked it. "Sorry," he said. "But you should hear the way everyone's talking. They seem to think we've had the Romance of the Century, not just a few kisses in a musty wardrobe."
"Oh..." Hermione put her hands over her face. "How does everyone find out about these things?"
Draco shrugged. "I have no idea. But I will tell you that it got rid of Pansy Parkinson for me, for which I will be eternally grateful. She came up to me this morning in hysterics and demanded to know if it was true. Of course I told her it was, figuring that anything that got her so upset had to be good. So she told me she was never speaking to me again."
He grinned and flipped open the Daily Prophet again. Hermione caught sight of the front page of the paper, and gazed at it in shock. LUCIUS MALFOY ARRESTED; CHARGED. She caught sight of some of the words in the smaller text: "Illegal use of Epicyclical Charms", "kidnap and torture", "testimony by Narcissa Malfoy," "sentencing to follow."
Draco followed her gaze, and put the paper down.
"Sorry," she said, looking up at him. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he said, and he looked it. "I got a letter from my mother yesterday. She pretty much told me everything that was going to happen. So I'm not surprised. And," he added, "he's not going to Azakaban."
"Good," said Hermione, although privately she thought Lucius deserved Azkaban more than anyone she'd ever met. Glancing up and down the Slytherin table, she saw people looking quickly away. "Everyone's staring at me," she said under her breath to Draco.
"That's because you're the girl who dumped Harry Potter for Draco Malfoy," he said cheerfully. "Whether you knew it or not."
"Great," she said. "Now I've had two imaginary boyfriends. All the trouble, none of the benefits."
"You want benefits?" said Draco, looking at her with a curious smile.
Hermione went as red as if she had been dipped in boiling water. "Um," she said.
"Come on," he said, and held out a hand to her. "Let's take a walk down to the lake. I want to show you something."
"Um," she said again.
"Not that kind of thing," he grinned.
"Okay," she said, put down her plate, and followed him out of the hall.
Harry and Ron watched her go, Ron with bemusement, Harry with quite a different expression.
"So," he said, " I guess this makes me Just Stood Back Like A Prat And Watched Her Go Off With Malfoy Guy, after all."
"Oh, no," said Ron cheerfully. "I'm proud to say you didn't stand back. You went bravely forward, and made a huge idiot out of yourself, and she still went off with Malfoy."
"Thank you, Ron," said Harry.
"But at least you took action," Ron said.
"That's me. Action Guy."
"Actually," pointed out George, "strictly speaking, it would be Malfoy who's getting the action here."
Harry dropped his fork. "Would you NOT say things like that around me?" he said accusingly to George.
"Sorry," said George, but his mouth was twitching with laughter. He held his plate up over his face to cover his expression. So did Fred.
"Why is my suffering so amusing?" Harry wondered out loud.
"That should be obvious," said Ron.
Harry turned and looked at him. "Yes?"
"Because it's unnecessary," said Ron. "She does love you, you stupid idiot. You're just being bloody-minded, and not speaking to her, so what d'you expect her to do? Especially with Malfoy oozing the old Harry Potter charm all over her, you know, whatever it was he picked up from you when you were under the Potion."
"I don't know," said Harry thoughtfully, "I think it's all him now, actually."
"You mean you think he really loves her?" asked Ron, looking astonished.
"Yeah," said Harry. "I do."
"In that case," announced George, "you really are in trouble, Harry."
Fred was grinning again. "Think of that time Malfoy asked you if you'd kill him. Bet you wish you had that moment to live over again, don't you?"
"With you two for friends, who needs misery and self-loathing?" asked Harry rhetorically, glaring at them.
"And when did you get so sarcastic?" said George, giving Harry a hard look. "You sound like-"
"Malfoy," said Fred.
They all looked at Harry consideringly.
"So it looks like Malfoy's been left with the aftereffects of your nice-guy personality," said Fred, after a pause. "And you-"
"Have been left with an extremely bad temper," finished George.
"I think we can say that Malfoy is the clear winner in this scenario," said Fred.
"Yeah," said Harry, looking towards the door through which Draco and Hermione had gone. "Tell me something I don't know."
It was a beautiful sunny day. Draco and Hermione skirted the lake and headed for a small copse of trees. They were walking near where the second task had taken place their fourth year. Hermione wondered if Draco knew it.
He stopped under on of the trees, and said, "Come here."
She came and stood next to him, so close her arm was touching his.
"Watch this," he said, and pointed his left hand at the base of the tree.
Nothing happened. "Oops," he said. "I forgot. The bandages interfere."
He pointed his other hand at the base of the tree, and this time something happened. There was a noise like a guitar string being plucked, and the earth at the base of the tree moved. As Hermione watched in astonishment, a green shoot poked its way out of the ground, rocketed upward, and in seconds was putting forth petals. Within moments, it had become a black rose. The only black rose Hermione had ever seen.
She looked at Draco with her mouth open. "Is that...how did you...?"
He grinned at her. "It's a Magid thing," he said. "I practiced all morning. You like?"
"I've never even seen a black rose before," she said, bending to examine it.
"I don't seem to be able to get flowers in any other color," he said, shrugging. "I guess it's because I'm not a flowers kind of guy. I seem to be pretty good at growing Venus Flytraps, and I managed to make it hail, but flowers...not so much."
"You made it hail?"
"Well, just in a very small area. And the hail was black, too."
"Don't you think it's dangerous using your Magid skills when you haven't had any training?" said Hermione, knowing she sounded bossy, but, as usual, not being able to help it.
"Probably," said Draco. "I suppose it could have hailed anvils. But I'm not too worried. Don't you like your flower?" he added, sounding anxious.
Hermione plucked it out of the ground, and stood up, holding it between her fingers gingerly. It had quite a lot of big, sharp thorns. "I do like it," she said, looking up at him. "It's all thorny and prickly. Kind of like you."
He bent and kissed the side of her mouth, and his silver hair brushed her cheek like butterfly wings. She inhaled the scent of him - coffee and limes and pepper and maple syrup from breakfast.
Then she pulled away. "I can't," she said.
"Why NOT?" said Draco, for one moment sounding less like a supremely self-possessed Malfoy and more like an irritable sixteen-year-old boy.
"I don't know what's going on with me and Harry."
"A big lot of nothing," said Draco, "that seems to be what's going on with you and Harry. Or am I wrong?"
"No," she said slowly. "No. You're not wrong. But I can't do anything with you while he's not speaking to me, because... because..."
"Because you want his blessing?" said Draco.
She was surprised to realize that this might be true. "I think so," she said.
"In that case," said Draco, "we'll be dating when you're thirty."
"Just give me some time," she said, looking up at him pleadingly.
He threw up his hands. "Okay," he said. "Time."
Hermione had never realized that the simple fact that she was always with Harry had convinced most of the school that they were, in truth, an item. (The frequent Witch Weekly articles claiming that she and Harry were together hadn't hurt, either.) Now that there were rumors about her and Draco, and she and Harry were no longer friends, girls started oozing out of the woodwork at an incredible rate.
Oozing all over Harry.
Suddenly there were girls at Quidditch practice, girls at the Gryffindor table, girls waiting outside classes in the hallway. It seemed like every time she saw Harry he was surrounded by girls. Tall girls, short girls, she even saw Moaning Myrtle trying to get his attention near the bathroom one day. It began to seem like she was the only girl at Hogwarts who wasn't constantly talking to Harry.
It was like walking around in a nightmare for Hermione. Everywhere she went she saw Harry - after all, they were in the same house, and had most classes together - but he wouldn't speak to her or even look at her, and he was always surrounded by girls.
If it hadn't been for Draco, Hermione would have been completely miserable. He always seemed happy to see her, and was remarkably easy to be around. He introduced her to his Slytherin friends, which was...interesting. Crabbe was so shocked to be introduced to Hermione that he spit crackers all over her, and Goyle simply stood and looked at her with his mouth wide open. Pansy Parkinson burst into tears every time Hermione walked by her, and Hermione flatly refused to be introduced to Milicent Bulstrode, as the memory of the headlock Milicent had put her into first year still stung. Some of the other Slytherins weren't so bad, but Hermione didn't feel comfortable around them.
"Whenever they look at me," she said to Parvati - she would have preferred to talk to Ron, but since he was always with Harry, that was nearly impossible -- "I feel like they're mentally sharpening knives in my direction."
"They're not the nicest people, that's true," agreed Parvati, who was applying an eyelash-lengthening charm in front of the mirror in their dormitory room. "But surely they can't all be worthless, can they?"
"Aside from Draco, you mean?" said Hermione, who was lying on the bed watching Parvati.
"Well, obviously, since you're dating him."
"We are NOT dating," protested Hermione.
"You're not?" Parvati was so astonished she accidentally elongated her eyelashes to nearly a foot in length, and Hermione had to help her shrink them back. When this process was finished, Parvati repeated her question, and Hermione sighed.
"We're not," she said. "We're just friends."
"You want to know something, Hermione?" said Parvati earnestly. "You being friends with Draco Malfoy...that's even weirder than you dating him."
"Why?" asked Hermione curiously.
"Well, if you were dating him, I could put it down to uncontrollable physical attraction. I mean, he is cute. That's a fact. But if you're just friends with him..." Parvati shrugged. "You must actually like him."
Hermione rolled over on her bed and looked up at the ceiling. "I do like him," she said.
"Despite the fact that he's spoiled, selfish, had a bad temper and a mean sense of humor, likes to pick on people who are weaker than him and.." Parvati trailed off at the look on Hermione's face. "Well, he does," she said.
"I know," said Hermione. "Not so much as before, but he's a good person really, Parvati."
Parvati turned around and looked at Hermione, hard. "Then why aren't you dating him?"
"Because he's not Harry," said Parvati, showing a rare amount of insight.
Hermione turned over on the bed restlessly. "Not any more," she said.
"Oh, go on, Ron," said Harry crossly. "Just do it."
"I will NOT," replied Ron, sounding equally cross. He was hovering in midair on his broomstick over the Quidditch field, facing Harry, who was sitting astride his Firebolt with his arms crossed and looking furious. They'd been engaged in flying practice for about an hour before Harry had made his rather peculiar request of Ron, and both boys were flushed and irritable. Harry's white shirt was sticking to his back with sweat.
"Why not?" Harry snapped. "Just knock me off my broomstick. Come on, have a go!"
"Why not?" echoed Ron in disbelief. "How about because I don't want to spend the rest of term explaining to Dumbledore why I murdered you in cold blood for no apparent reason?"
"Dumbledore said the Magid power would manifest itself if I faced danger," said Harry. "It won't work if I just jump off my broom. I have to be scared. And if you won't help, I'll just go into the Forbidden Forest and feed myself to Aragog."
"Harry," said Ron desperately, "Dumbledore also said that the power manifests itself between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. You're only sixteen. Give it a rest already!"
"Malfoy's only sixteen, too-"
"Oh, shut up about Malfoy!" yelled Ron in a rage. "I'm sick of hearing about him! Just because he's dating Hermione doesn't mean I'm going to help you kill yourself!"
Harry's eyes narrowed to angry green slits. He seized his wand, and before Ron knew what was happening, Harry had pointed the wand at him and shouted "Rapido!"
Ron's broom shot forward uncontrollably, Ron barely hanging onto it, and plowed into Harry, knocking him sideways off his Firebolt. Ron, hardly managing to steady his own broomstick, saw Harry plummeting to the ground. He grabbed for his wand, aimed it at the rapidly falling Harry, and hissed, "Wingardium leviosa!"
Harry, who hadn't made a sound while he was falling, yelped as his flight was arrested ten feet from the ground. He hung there in midair, looking reproachfully at Ron. "Idiot," muttered Ron, and moved his wand so that it was no longer pointing at Harry.
Harry fell the remaining ten feet and landed on the bare ground of the Quidditch field.
Ron sighed, pointed his broomstick downward, and came to a swooshing halt next to Harry, who was lying spread-eagled on the ground, staring up at the sky and looking as if he never intended to get up.
"Zero," said Harry glumly. "Zip. Nada. I have NO Magid powers. At least, not at the moment."
"Harry," said Ron, getting off his broom, "has it occurred to you that wanting to be able to turn Draco Malfoy into a slug and step on him is not a good enough reason for your Magid powers to start working?"
Harry put his hands over his face and said something that sounded like "Urgh."
"There must some other way to get your powers working." said Ron, "Some way that doesn't involve you risking your life."
"I've been reading up on it," said Harry. "Salazar Slytherin's powers kicked in when he had to face a dragon that was threatening his village. But that was a zillion years ago, when there were still lots of dragon roaming around. The dark wizard Grindelwald, his powers kicked in during some kind of battle, which is also no go, and Rowena Ravenclaw's started when she was struck by lightning. Which is hard to arrange."
"Harry..." said Ron slowly. "You need to talk to Hermione, that's what you need to do."
Harry parted his fingers and looked up at Ron with suspicious green eyes. "Why?"
"Because she's your best friend, dolt," said Ron. "Because you miss her and it's making you nuts."
"Whenever I see Hermione," said Harry, taking his hands away from his face, "I want to be sick."
"Now that's romantic," said Ron.
"Whenever I see her with Malfoy, I want to be sick," Harry clarified.
"Well, you'll have to get used to it eventually," said Ron.
"I don't want to get used to it," said Harry, sitting up abruptly. "I want my Magid powers to start working, that's what I want."
"That's magic," said Ron, not without sympathy. "What you've got is heartbreak. Magic won't fix that."
"I was thinking about this summer, Hermione," said Draco.
It was breakfast time. They were sitting together at the Slytherin table. (It was Hermione's fourth breakfast with the Slytherins. She was even beginning to get used to the sound of Goyle slurping and spitting at every mealtime.) Draco was eating toast with shocking rapidity - Hermione had already found out that he was one of those boys who could eat anything and everything and remain skinny - and Hermione, who didn't have much appetite, was nibbling on some pumpkin seeds.
"What about it?' she asked.
"Well, I know we were talking about me visiting you at your parents' house. And I do still want to, but my mum wrote and reminded me that my Uncle Vlad was saying he was hoping I'd come see him this summer, he's got a massive castle in Romania, and I thought, if you wanted..."
Surreptitiously, Hermione squinted across the room at the Gryffindor table. She could see Harry, sitting with Ron; Lavender was on one side of him, and Parvati was sitting next to Ron. As Hermione watched, Lavender speared a piece of toast on her fork and offered it to Harry.
Harry ate it.
"Meanwhile," continued Draco, "I've dropped out of Hogwarts and become a hired assassin for the Ministry of Magic."
"Wha-what?" spluttered Hermione, turning to look at him.
He was smiling, but the smile didn't reach his gray eyes. "Hermione, love," he said, pointing. "Are you really going to eat all of those?"
She looked where he indicated, and jumped. Somehow she had managed to shell a pile of at least a hundred pumpkin seeds. The seeds themselves lay in one neat pile, the shells in another. She couldn't remember having shelled even one seed.
"Oh," she said sheepishly. "I'll, um, save them for later, I think."
"Okay, that does it," said Draco, and stood up.
Alarmed, Hermione stood up too. "I'm sorry," she said. "I'm a bit easily distracted these days -"
"I've noticed that," said Draco. "It's all right. I just remembered something I've been meaning to do. I've been putting it off, but now seems like a good time to get it over with."
"Can I help?" she asked, feeling guilty.
"Definitely not," he said.
He reached out and touched her very lightly on the cheek. Then he dropped his hand.
"I've got Quidditch practice this afternoon," he said. "I'll see you at dinner."
Harry had arranged to be sitting alone in the Gryffindor common room that afternoon. He was therefore astonished when the portrait hole opened and Draco Malfoy stepped through it. He straightened up and surveyed the shocked Harry serenely.
"Fashion tip, Potter," he said. "Mouth looks better closed." He flopped down in an armchair and stretched his long legs out towards the fire. "I can't believe the password is still 'boomslang'," he said. "You Gryffindors are a trusting lot."
Harry lowered the book he was holding and looked anxiously around. "You want to be a bit more careful, Malfoy," he said. "If other people knew you had the password..."
"I don't want to be a bit more careful," said Draco. "I want to beat you around the head with a broomstick. But I won't, of course."
"Why not?" said Harry, returning to his book. "You can borrow my Firebolt 5000." He glanced over at Draco. "Incidentally, why the sudden outbreak of hostility? Shouldn't I be the one who's currently hating you?"
"No," said Draco. "I should be hating you, for the simple reason that you're making Hermione very unhappy."
Harry dropped his book again, and glared at Draco. His cheeks were flushed with anger. "You came to talk me about her?"
"That's right," said Draco.
"I've got a better idea," said Harry. "Why don't you just get the hell out of here?"
"See, I know this girl, Hermione, " said Draco, as if Harry hadn't spoken. "And she's a wonderful girl to be around. Smart-really smart-pretty, too. One of the bravest people I've ever met." He was gazing off over Harry's head now. "Only thing is, I have this feeling she's really unhappy about something. She cries when she thinks I'm not looking. She stares off into space a lot. And whenever you're around..." Draco looked directly at Harry now. "She watches you."
The flush was beginning to recede from Harry's face. Now he looked startled. "She won't even talk to me," he said.
"No," said Draco. "You won't talk to her."
Harry looked at him wonderingly. "Why are you telling me this?"
"I don't know," said Draco thoughtfully. "The only way I can do this sort of thing is to tell myself I'm not doing it. Right now I'm telling myself I've come here to talk to you about what an annoying git you are. It's working so far."
"Is she really unhappy?" asked Harry in a hushed voice.
"Miserable," said Draco. "Look, Potter. I'm asking you. Talk to her. You're her best friend. Or you were."
The flush was quite gone from Harry's face and now he looked pale and unhappy. "I can't," he said.
"Oh, yes you can," said Draco, whose temper was beginning to fray. "What are you afraid of, anyway?"
"That she was right," said Harry. "I took her for granted, all these years I took her for granted completely. She should make me pay. And pay. There's just not enough pay--"
"Look," interrupted Draco, "you want to wallow in guilt, I'm all for that. Knock yourself out. But," and now he leaned forward and glared at Harry, "I won't be second-best. I won't be with her because she can't be with you."
"Harry?" said a voice that sounded like it was coming from behind the chair.
Harry spun around, looking startled. "Sirius!" he said. "I nearly forgot I arranged to talk him now."
He got out of the chair he was sitting in and went to kneel by the fireplace. Draco followed him and saw that Sirius' head was floating in the fire. Sirius' wild dark hair had been clipped, he was clean-shaven, and he looked neater and more groomed than either of them had ever seen him.
"Sirius," said Harry in pleasure, reaching out a hand as if he could shake Sirius'. As he did, Draco saw the scar on Harry's palm, the twin of his own. Apparently he hadn't gotten it healed either.
"Lookin' sharp, Sirius," said Draco cordially, dropping to his knees next to Harry.
An expression of pleasure at seeing Draco flitted quickly across Sirius' face, to be replaced by something that looked like alarm. "I didn't know both of you would be here," he said to Harry.
"Sorry," said Harry. "I put a Barring Charm on the doors to discourage anyone from coming in, but it didn't work on Malfoy. Typical," he added, glaring at Draco.
"You'll just have to take my being a Magid-- and therefore way better than you-- into account from now on, Potter," said Draco.
"I'm a Magid as well as you, git," said Harry, sounding vexed.
"So you say," said Draco with a tone of great superiority. "But what have you done?"
"Stop that!" said Sirius irritably. "You two bicker like an old married couple." Harry and Draco let out identical yells of horror. "Right, then," said Sirius. "Never mind what I was going to say. I'm clearing off. Harry, I'll send you an owl."
And he vanished.
"Sirius?" said Harry, in blank astonishment. Then he turned on Draco, "Thanks a lot, Malfoy."
But Draco was looking thoughtful. "I wonder what it was he had to tell you?"
Harry sat back against the legs of an overstuffed armchair and shook his head. "Well, I'll have to wait for his owl now," he said irritably. "Why don't you get out of here, Malfoy? You're giving me a headache."
"Fine," said Draco, standing up. "Oh. One thing, Potter."
"It's not in my nature to be self-sacrificing," said Draco matter-of-factly. "I don't know if this is just some lingering vestige of that Polyjuice spell or what. But if it is, and this generous phase that I am in passes, and you are still making Hermione miserable, then I will come back here and I will yank out your ribcage and wear it as a hat. Understood?"
"Understood," said Harry, grinning despite himself. "And a big gold star for imagery."
"Thanks," said Draco, and went out through the portrait hole.
The next day, it rained, complete with thunder, lightning and a sky that looked like wet black iron. Which went well with Hermione's mood. She sat in the common room, curled in an armchair, staring moodily at the spluttering fire. She wondered vaguely where Crookshanks was. It would have been nice to have a cat to curl up on her lap right about now.
The portrait door opened and Ron stepped into the room, shaking water from his robes. "Hey, Ron," said Hermione, glad to see him without Harry. Then she saw how anxious and worried he looked, and paused. "Ron, is everything all right?"
"I'm not sure," he said.
She gave him a hard look. "Where's Harry?"
"I went with Harry to Quidditch practice," said Ron slowly, "But they cut it short because of the weather. You don't want to play Quidditch in a lightning storm."
"Obviously," said Hermione.
"Anyway, we were halfway back - I was talking to Fred and George - and I turned around and Harry was ...well, gone."
"Gone?" repeated Hermione in disbelief. "He vanished?"
"Not vanished. Alicia Spinnet said she saw him racing off towards the Forbidden Forest."
"Well..." said Hermione, unhappily, "He must have had a reason..."
"That's what worries me," said Ron. "His reason."
Hermione was about to ask what he meant, when the portrait swung open again and Draco stepped through.
Ron did not look happy to see him. "Speak of the incredibly annoying person," he said. Despite all that had happened, Hermione knew, Ron and his brothers still did not like Draco and never would. "You can't just keep waltzing in and out of our common room, you know, you'll get caught."
"Were you talking about me?" said Draco, unruffled. "Because I heard a bit of your conversation, and it rather sounded as if you were talking about Harry. Gone and done something stupid again, has he?"
"Yes, and it's all your fault," said Ron, rather unreasonably.
"My fault? How is it my fault?"
"It's this whole..." Ron made a sweeping gesture, "Magid thing. He can't bear it that your powers work and his don't yet, okay? He's been doing everything he possibly can to try to jump-start them. He asked me to knock him off his broom..."
"He did what?" demanded Hermione.
"You heard me," said Ron. "And he's been reading up on Magids and their history, and it was talking about how various Magids got their powers, and one of them, I think it was Rowena Ravenclaw, was out in a storm and she got hit by lightning and -- "
Hermione bolted out of her seat. "You think he's gone off to try to get himself struck by lightning?"
"Even Harry isn't that big of a git," said Draco.
"Not usually," agreed Ron, "but he hasn't been at all himself lately. It's your fault," he said, turning on Hermione, "going around with Malfoy, all kissy-kissy-"
"There has been no kissy," said Hermione, strung by this injustice. "Has there?" she said, turning to Draco.
"Most unfortunately not," he agreed.
Ron looked unconvinced.
"Are you saying that Harry's gone off in the middle of a thunderstorm to try to activate his Magid powers in order to make some kind of point about Draco and me?" demanded Hermione incredulously.
"He misses you, Hermione," said Ron.
"And nothing says 'I love you' like reducing yourself to a smoldering pile of ashes," added Draco.
Hermione turned on him in a fury. "You are not helping!" she shouted.
"Look," said Draco, surprised by her vehemence, "we don't KNOW that that's what he's gone off to do, do we?"
"Well, what else would it be?" said Hermione, now nearly in tears. She stood up and began checking her pockets for her wand. "I'm going after him," she said. "You two do what you like."
She found her wand, and headed for the portrait. Draco followed her. "I'll come with you," he said.
Ron shook his head. "I'm staying here in case he comes back," he said.
"Fine," said Hermione to both of them, and commenced running down the hall. Draco, having much longer legs than she did, barely had to run to keep up with her.
"Hermione," he said, as they skidded around a corner, "calm down, would you?"
"You don't understand," she said. "This is all my fault."
They raced down the wide staircase and out the front doors of the castle.
And ran smack into Harry.
He was soaking wet, his shirt and pants were plastered to him, and his hair hung in dripping black swatches over his forehead, but he seemed otherwise completely healthy. He was wearing his school robes over his Quidditch clothes. And he was carrying a wet Crookshanks in his arms.
"Harry," said Hermione, half in tears, "Are you all right? Are you all right?"
Harry looked at them both blankly. "I'm fine," he said to her. "Your cat managed to get himself wedged up a drainpipe. I heard him yowling on the way back from practice, so I went and got him out."
Crookshanks wiggled in Harry's arms, making a drenched sort of purring noise.
"He's too fat," said Harry dispassionately. "You ought to stop feeding him so much."
Thunder rumbled overhead, and a fresh downpour threatened to empty itself over them. Crookshanks looked anxious.
"We should get inside," said Draco, and started backing up the steps. Hermione followed, and more slowly, Harry.
Once they were inside, Crookshanks squirmed out of Harry's grasp, landed on the floor, and scampered off to dry out. Hermione and Draco, neither of whom were as wet as Harry, shivered. And Harry just stood there, a widening pool of water spreading out from his drenched robes and shoes.
"Why did you two come haring after me like that?" he said, in a colorless sort of voice. "And why were you asking if I was all right?"
"Um," said Hermione, now feeling very stupid indeed. "We should get you back to Gryffindor Tower, Harry...you're all wet..."
Harry narrowed his eyes at her, but commenced walking up the stairs. They followed. "That's not an answer," he said, turning a corner.
"Hermione thought you were going off to get yourself struck by lightning," said Draco drily. "To get your Magid powers working. I said, let him, but she would go after you."
Harry stopped and stared at her. "Struck by lightning?" he said. "What kind of idiot do you think I am?"
Her temper flared. "I don't know, Harry," she snapped. "The kind of idiot who tries to get Ron to knock him off his broomstick?"
"Ron has a big mouth," said Harry shortly, then stopped and stared. Hermione turned to see what he was staring at, and saw him looking through a half-open doorway into a darkened room, through which she could see the faint glimmering of glass.
"It isn't.." said Harry. "It can't be..."
"What?" asked Hermione, bewildered, but Harry had already squelched past her and pushed the door open. He walked in, and Hermione and Draco, casting each other anxious glances, followed.
It was a room Hermione didn't remember ever seeing before. Large and dimly-lit, one whole wall was windows, now showing the stormy half-darkness outside. On the other wall hung the object that had given off the flash of light Hermione had seen. It was a mirror. Round, with a dark wood border. It was very plain, yet seemed to cast a glow in the half-light.
Harry walked up to it, and gazed up at it as if it held all the secrets of the universe. Water was pattering steadily from his hair, his trousers, the drenched hem of his robes, but he took no notice.
"Harry?" said Hermione uncertainly, and walked up behind him. He didn't turn, didn't even seem to hear her approaching. "Harry," she said, "What are you looking at?"
"Us," he said. "I see you and me."
Hermione looked up into the mirror and saw herself and Harry looking back. "So do I," she said. "Big deal, Harry. It's just a mirror."
"It's not -" he began indignantly, then turned to look at her. His eyes were wide. "What did you say you saw?"
"You and me," she said, wonderingly. "There we are," she said, pointing up at the mirror. Then she squinted. There was something about the reflection of her and Harry - something strange.
"What about now?" said Harry, backing away from her by about ten feet. "What do you see?"
She glanced back up at the mirror. And her heart turned over. "Still you and me," she said, her voice catching. "Only Harry - in the mirror, you're dry. And you've got -" She broke off, turning to him. "What kind of mirror is this?"
"Read the inscription," said Harry, who was looking astonished, although not as unhappy as he had been.
Hermione read it. Erised stra eh ruoyt ubsi tahwt onuoy wohsi.
Since Hermione was a deal brighter than Harry, it took her only a moment to realize the inscription was written backwards.
I show you not what is but your heart's desire.
"You told me about this mirror," she said slowly, "years ago...it shows you your family, Harry..."
"It used to," he said. "I still see them. Only I see us in the foreground. I guess," he said, "a person's heart's desire can change."
He was very pale, but he was looking at her, really looking at her, as he hadn't looked at her in days.
Behind him, she saw Draco cross the room to the door, and walk out. Her heart contracted. But she couldn't leave. This was her life, right here in this room.
The door shut behind him, and she turned to Harry.
"The mirror shows you what you want," she said slowly.
"But didn't Dumbledore tell you that most people want what's worst for them?"
"Most people," said Harry. "Not everybody." He looked at her steadily. "Do you love me?" he said.
"Of course I love you," she said. "My whole life I've never loved anyone like I love you. But you scare me, Harry. You can hurt me so easily. That's why I like being with Draco. He wouldn't hurt me, and anyway, he can't."
Harry spun around, walked a few paces away from her, then turned to face her. "It's funny," he said, "but I was talking to Malfoy yesterday, and I actually realized something. I realized I owe you an apology."
She stared at him. He was so pale that his eyes seemed the only color in his white face. He said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I never told you I loved you. I'm sorry I waited until it looked like I might lose you before I did anything. I'm sorry I lied to you when you asked me if I loved you. I just never thought of it like that. You've always been like a part of me. Like my own eyes. Or my own hands. You don't go around thinking 'I love my eyes, I love my hands', do you? But think what it would be like to live without them." His voice shook. "I'm not like Malfoy. I don't make fancy speeches. But I know what I want."
Hermione just stared at him. She couldn't say a word. Couldn't even think a word.
"I want you to be happy," he said slowly. "And if I don't make you happy, then you should be with the person who does."
He looked at her. Harry. Who she had always loved, not because he was brave, although he was, or clever, although he was that too, or a good dancer (which he wasn't) - but because he was kind, with the sort of kindness so rare among most people, and teenage boys in particular - kindness that not only gives, but gives up.
"He really does love you," he said. "Not like I do, but -"
He broke off, turned, and walked towards the door. He was going to leave, she knew, because once Harry made up his mind to do something he did it. And when he said something, he meant it. And then she thought about what he had said, and what it would be like to live the rest of her life without him in it.
"Harry," she said, pushing herself off the wall and taking a step towards him. "Please come back."
He turned around. She couldn't see his face, he was standing in a patch of shadow. She could see only the ghostly whiteness of his shirt and the pallor of his skin.
"Please come back," she said again.
He came back. And stood in front of her, looking at her.
And then there were hands on her shoulders, Harry's hands, and he was kissing her. And when she put her arms around him, he was soaking wet and the water chilled her through her clothes and his skin was cold as ice but his hands when he touched her burned. He tasted like rainwater and tears.
She fell back against the wall, still kissing him. Her hands were shaking and there was a humming in her ears that slowly intensified in pitch until it became music - the most beautiful music she had ever heard.
She broke away from Harry, astonished, and saw by the expression on his face that he heard it too.
"What is that?" she said in wonder.
"Phoenix song," he said, looking equally amazed.
"Where's it coming from?" she asked, half turning to look around her. It was hard to see anything through the falling snow.
"Um," said Harry, looking sheepish now. "Me, I think."
"Harry," she said then, in a deadly quiet voice, "it's snowing."
"I know," he said, looking even more sheepish.
"Inside? In June?"
"Well," said Harry, now rather pink around the ears, "Dumbledore did say 'strong emotion' would activate my Magid powers."
"Yeah," he said, looking bewildered but happy, "I felt it. Like a light switch turning on. I guess I just don't know exactly how to..."
"Control them yet?" she said, grinning, as several baby owls fell, hooting, from the ceiling.
"Yeah," he said, grinning back.
"I didn't know you liked owls so much," she said, as several more hurtled out of the sky.
"Kiss me again," he suggested. "Maybe we'll get canaries."
"Harry," she said, kissing him again, "Did you know it's snowing blue snow?"
"I like blue," said Harry. "It's my favorite color."
"Why not blue snow?"
'You always did say you thought snow was romantic," said Hermione, giggling.
"Just be glad I'm not Hagrid," said Harry, pulling her in for another kiss. "It'd be raining Blast-Ended Skrewts."
"I need to go talk to Draco," she said, some timeless time later when they had left the mirror room and were walking back along the corridor. Harry's wet shoes were squelching with every step, but he was still looking enormously pleased with the world and everything in it.
"I know," he said. "I should talk to him, too."
"But I should go first," she said.
"All right," he said, letting go of her hand. "But no suddenly deciding you're really in love with him after all," he added, warningly. "I can't take any more of that."
"If I have any doubts I can always go back to the mirror," she said teasingly, backing along the corridor. "If I can find it again, of course."
"Don't test me, Hermione," he said. "I've got blue snow all down the back of my shirt and owl feathers in my hair. I'm already cranky."
But he was smiling. She blew a kiss at him and dashed off down the hall. As soon as she was out of Harry's sight, she slowed to a walk and took the Epicyclical Charm out of her shirt. This, she knew, was cheating, but she really wanted to find Draco and couldn't imagine where he might be.
She concentrated, thinking very hard of Draco, picturing him as clearly as she could...his familiar face, light eyes and silver hair, funny sideways smile...and the charm gave a gentle little tug. She took a step forward, and it tugged again.
Following the gentle tugging, Hermione made her way out of the castle and down to the lake. It had stopped raining, but everything was still very wet. She followed the tugging around to the small grove of trees where Draco had grown her the black rose two days before.
Draco was there, standing with his back to a tree, staring out at the lake. Raindrops, caught in the leaves and branches, made a shimmering silver cage around him.
She came up behind him and put her hand lightly on his arm. "Hey," she said.
He didn't turn around.
"You don't have to tell me," he said. "I already know."
"Draco," she said.
Now he turned, and looked at her. His expression was unreadable. If she hadn't come to know him well, she wouldn't even have thought he was upset. "It turns out," he said in measured tones, "that I can still feel a little of what Harry feels, if he's feeling something strongly."
"Oh," she said, feeling herself go red. "I'm sorry..."
"Don't be," he said. "I've always known this would happen. I've been ignoring it, but I've always known it." He tried to grin at her, failed, and shrugged. "Remember that time in the wardrobe back at the Mansion?"
"Of course I do," said Hermione.
"Well, you kept saying 'Harry, Harry, Harry' the whole time."
"I did what?" She could feel her face burning. "Why didn't you say something?"
Draco shrugged again. "I'm sixteen," he said. "I'm not going to cut short a perfectly good make-out session on account of a little thing like that now, am I?"
Hermione covered her face with her hands. "I am so embarrassed," she said.
"Don't be," he said. "You've always been honest. You've never said you didn't love Harry. If I was you, I'd be in love with him instead of me as well." He grimaced. "What am I talking about? No, I wouldn't. I'm miles better than him. You're mad, Hermione."
"I do love you," she said.
He was quiet for a second. Then he said, "Yeah. I know. Just...like you love Ron."
She shook her head. "It's different. I I've never felt about anyone the way I feel about you. I can't explain it. But you're important to me. Whether or not I'm with Harry, I don't want to not know you any more. I want to still see you. Have you come visit me this summer." She smiled tremulously. "Get jealous about the masses of girlfriends you're going to have as soon as everyone finds out about you and me not being together after all."
"Won't Harry mind?"
"No. He's sort of fond of you, in a weird way," she said, knowing it to be true. "I think he'd miss you if you just disappeared."
"I'd miss him as well, I think," said Draco. "I'd miss all the 'Shut up, Malfoy!'s. I've gotten used to it. Crabbe and Goyle never tell me to shut up. It's refreshing."
"I think we can count on Harry to tell you to shut up on a regular basis," said Hermione.
Draco was looking at her with a funny little smile on his face. "So," he said. "Are you and Potter...official now?"
"Official?" said Hermione, bewildered. "We didn't talk about it, not really, but..."
He took her hand and turned it over so he could see her watch. "It's one minute to three," he said. "Let's say your relationship with Harry becomes official at 3pm sharp, shall we?"
"Which gives us a minute to what, exactly?" she asked, but he shook his head at her and said,
"Hermione. You're wasting time."
Then, still leaning against the tree, he pulled her towards him by the hand holding her wrist-surprised, she stumbled forward, and fell against him. And he kissed her.
Later, Hermione would think that he had obviously put everything he had, every ounce of feeling for her, every last vestige of passion and every shred of frustrated love, into that kiss. As if he were trying to burn whatever it was he felt out of him, exorcise it, wring it dry. At the time though, she was only aware that her knees were buckling and there was a roaring sound in her ears as if someone were holding seashells over them. She shut her eyes and saw lightning dance across her inner lids.
She wondered if she might be the only girl ever to kiss two Magids in one day. Then she wondered if it might possibly be fatal.
He let go of her, and the world swam back into focus.
"Three o'clock, Granger," he said, and dropped her hand.
"Wow," she said weakly, and looked up at him. He was looking at her again with that funny little smile, half amusement, half regret. She knew he had just shown her how he really felt. And knew he would never, ever do it again.
He half-grinned at her. "So?"
"That was...amazing," she said faintly.
"And if you ever try it again, I'll slap you."
His smile widened, became a real grin. "You love hitting me, don't you, Granger?" he said. "You might want to look into that."
She grinned back.
"Shut up, Malfoy," she said.
"What'd Ron say?" said Hermione, curiously.
"He said it was about time, then he made a rude remark which I am not going to repeat. Then he said he told me so."
"And what'd you say then?" asked Hermione, giggling.
"I turned his broomstick into a snail by pointing at it."
"Did you really?"
"I was going for turning it into a frog, actually," admitted Harry. "And Pigwidgeon ate the snail, so now I owe Ron a broomstick. This Magid stuff is a lot of trouble, really."
Hermione laughed, and reached for an apple. What a difference twenty-four hours makes, she thought. Yesterday it was raining and miserable, and now...They had brought their lunch down to the lake, as the sky had cleared completely and it was a beautiful June day. Harry was sitting with his back to a rock, and she was leaning against his knees.
"But you wouldn't want to not be one, would you?" she asked.
"I don't think so," said Harry. He was lazily playing with a lock of her hair, pulling the curl straight and then letting it bounce back. "I was talking to Dumbledore, and he said that he runs this sort of education program for untrained Magids over the summers in Ireland, and if I want to go this summer, I can."
"Do you?" she asked, turning around to look at him.
"Well, it isn't the Dursleys. And it's only two months. So I could come and see you in August."
"You know Draco's still coming to visit me, right?"
"I know," said Harry. "We can all hang out. Go to the beach. Watch Malfoy not get tan."
"Hey!" They both turned, and saw Draco running towards the around the perimeter of the lake. He came to a skidding halt in front of them, and stood there, leaning his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. "Harry-" he panted.
Hermione looked at him curiously. "Did you run all the way here?"
"I had to talk to you," he panted, looking at Harry. If the sight of Harry and Hermione together bothered him, he didn't show it. It was a talent he had. "Potter-" And Draco held out a white piece of paper to him. "I just got this-by owl post."
Hermione and Harry both stood up, and Harry took the paper from Draco. He unfolded it, read it, and went suddenly very white.
"Harry?" said Hermione, alarmed. "Is it bad news?"
Worldlessly, he handed her the letter. It was from Sirius.
Harry and Draco,
I decided to address this letter to both of you as this matter concerns you equally. I wanted to write to tell you two things. One, my motion to be allowed to legally adopt Harry has been accepted, and should be finalized within the next few months. I'm very pleased about this, and I hope you, Harry, are as well. Secondly, as, Draco probably already knows, Narcissa and I have been talking, and we're planning to be married in August, as soon as her divorce from Lucius comes through. I'm very pleased about this as well, and hope you will be too-
"What does he mean, as you already know, Draco?" she asked, bewildered, lowering the letter.
"That letter came with one from my mother, that was just addressed to me," said Draco, who was looking stunned. "It basically said the same thing. I can't believe it," he added, shaking his head. "I can't believe it!"
"So that's what he wanted to tell me that time in the common room," said Harry, looking equally thunderstruck.
"Sirius!" exclaimed Draco. "That sly dog! And literally, too!"
"Well, I figured this would happen," said Hermione, who was now pink with the effort of not laughing at their poleaxed expressions. "Didn't you?"
"No," said Harry and Draco in unison, shaking their heads.
"You do know what this means, don't you?" she said, pointing at the paper. "If they get married, and Sirius adopts Harry. You two will be..."
"Brothers," said Harry, staring at Draco in horror.
Draco stared back with his mouth open.
Hermione couldn't restrain herself any longer. "Brothers! The two of you!" She burst out into a peal of laughter. "The looks on your faces!" she gurgled. "Oh! The looks on your faces!"
Harry glared at her. "Hermione!"
"I can't help it!" she giggled. "It's too funny!"
And now Draco had started laughing, too. Harry had never seen him laugh like that before -- not just snickering, but really laughing. He actually sat down on the ground, put his face in his hands, and shouted with laughter. Slowly, Harry started to smile, and then, looking at Hermione bent over and clutching her stomach with mirth, he began to laugh as well.
The sound of their laughter, rising in pitch, drifted out over the lake and the lawns and up to the castle beyond.