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Chapter Six: The Boy Who Sulked

Hermione and Draco dived for the wardrobe and hurled themselves inside, slamming the door behind them. Harry pointed his wand feverishly at the window and whispered Reparo! and the smashed glass flew up and rearranged itself in the frame. Then he flung himself down on the bed and grabbed one of the bedposts just as the bedroom door, finally strained to the breaking point, burst inward and Lucius Malfoy hurtled into the room, looking livid with fury.

"Boy!" he shouted at Harry. He looked like Draco when Draco got angry: very pale with two burning red spots of color high on his cheekbones. Harry had the feeling that Lucius could have opened the door via sorcery, but had chosen to vent his ire on it instead. "Why didn't you open the door?"

"I don't know," said Harry flatly. "Maybe because you tied me to the bed?"

Lucius had the grace to look embarrassed. "I'd forgotten about that," he admitted, pointed his wand at Harry, and snapped, "Finite incantatum!"

Harry let his hands drop into his lap. "Thanks," he said. "How is Nar -- my mother?"

"She's fine," said Lucius curtly.

"Can I see her?"

"No," said Lucius shortly. "I need you to help me with something. I’ve got to go down into the dungeons and I need you to come with me."

Harry stared. This was just the invitation he had been hoping for---to be able to go and see where they were keeping Sirius–only he wasn’t wild about leaving Draco and Hermione shut into the wardrobe. On the other hand, refusing Lucius Malfoy wasn’t an option either. Lucius looked made enough to spit nails already.

"Okay," he said, got up, and thinking hang in there at the wardrobe, followed Lucius out the door.

***

It was pitch black in the wardrobe. One side of Hermione's face was squashed up against rough fabric, her knee was jammed against Draco's and her arm, which was pinned under Harry's bag, was going numb. She could hear Draco breathing softly next to her, and, faintly through the wardrobe door, she could hear Lucius and Harry talking. She heard Lucius tell Harry he was taking him to the dungeons, heard Harry agree; then she heard them leave the bedroom, the door closing behind them.

Draco spoke first. Actually, he didn't really speak so much as begin swearing, with great fluency and creativity, covering a wide range of topics. Both his vocabulary and his imagery impressed Hermione. It would never have occurred to her that you could do that with a broomstick.

"Right," she said finally. "Sorry to interrupt, I was kind of enjoying all that, but I think we should get out of the wardrobe now. My arm is killing me."

"We can't get out of the wardrobe," said Draco flatly. "It locks from the outside."

Hermione gaped at him. "What do you mean?"

Draco's voice was sharp. "What part of 'it locks from the outside' didn't you understand? Honestly. I thought you were meant to be clever."

"A simple Opening Charm--"

"No," said Draco, "this wardrobe's proof against that sort of thing. My father used to lock me in here when I misbehaved as a kid, so I should know."

"Your father sounds horrible."

"Leave my family out of this, Granger," said Draco shortly.

"Granger?" Hermione made a noise of exasperation. "First Harry, now you! Why are both of you acting like you hate me all of a sudden? All I did to Harry was try to save his life, and as for you, I don't know what your grievance is, but--"

"You really don't know?" Draco's voice, cold and distant, now sounded like the voice Hermione remembered from innumerable unpleasant hallway encounters at Hogwarts.

"No," she said coldly.

"Lumos," said Draco, and light blossomed from the tip of his wand, illuminating the interior of the wardrobe. Hermione gave a start. Talking to Draco in the dark, she had been imagining his face as she remembered it from school. And now she was face to face with Harry again. The wandlight made his green eyes glow like dark malachite. But he had Draco's angry smile.

"Potter," said Draco shortly, "is being a git for two reasons. One: he hates the idea of being rescued by me. I understand that. I would feel the same way in his position."

"And the second reason?" Hermione said curiously.

"He's jealous," said Draco.

Hermione felt as if her heart had dropped down into her stomach, then rocketed back up and lodged in her throat. "Jealous?" she said faintly. "About what?"

"Don’t be dense, Hermione."

Hermione reached out and caught Draco’s hand, squeezing it tightly. "What are you saying?"

Draco's hand just lay in hers, not moving. "I know what you want to hear," he said. "But is this how you want to hear it?"

Hermione paused. Was this how she wanted to hear that Harry maybe-possibly had feelings for her (or even a feeling -- any feeling)? From Draco's unwilling spying into the contents of Harry's head? It was a violation, even if an involuntary one. And then there was the possibility that Draco might be wrong.

She shook her head, and drew her hand out of his. "No," she said.

"Just because I can feel what Harry feels," said Draco unexpectedly, "doesn't mean I've stopped feeling what I feel."

Hermione stared at him. "What do you feel?" she asked -- and to her very great surprise, she was as interested in the answer to this question as she had been in the answer to her previous question.

But Draco had lowered his head and she couldn't see his eyes any more, just the light reflecting off Harry's glasses.

"Right now I'm feeling hungry," he said. "Very, very hungry. I haven't eaten since yesterday lunch."

"Oh," said Hermione, obscurely disappointed. She dragged Harry’s bag around to where she could get at the zipper. She was now sitting next to Draco. "I brought a little food....I’ve got Chocolate Frogs, butterbeer, and pickles."

Draco made a face. "I said I was hungry, not pregnant."

Hermione stifled a giggle. "Well, it’s all we’ve got."

"All right. Well, hand me a butterbeer. Maybe if I drink enough of them I won’t mind being shut up in this wardrobe so much."

***

Harry followed Lucius Malfoy down the increasingly familiar twisted corridors of the mansion until they reached the drawing-room, where Lucius pulled the trapdoor open and gestured for Harry to come after him. Harry went, being careful not to touch anything. He didn’t want his lack of Malfoy blood setting off any more alarms.

The gray stone steps led down into a cold damp darkness illuminated only by the light from Lucius’ wand. It was like a maze down here: narrow passageways writhed in every direction like a bed of snakes. Harry tried to keep track of where they were going by muttering left, right, right, sharp left, to himself as they turned but he knew this was most likely futile.

Lucius Malfoy spoke only once, as they were passing from one narrow corridor into another, this one decorated with a mosaic of broken marble. "This will be good for your education, boy," he said.

At last they reached the entrance to the dungeon, a huge stone archway sealed off by a rusty iron gate locked by an enormous lock in the shape of two twining serpents. Lucius Malfoy put his hand on it and it popped open, allowing the gate to swing inward. Harry followed Lucius inside.

Lucius walked along the rows of barrel cells that lined the walls of the dungeon, and stopped in front of one, gazing in. Harry stopped behind him, already knowing what he would see.

The cell was a narrow room with drippy-looking stone walls and a straw-covered stone floor. On the far side of the cell was a low stone bench, on which a man was lying.

It was Sirius.

"Hallo, Black," said Lucius, and Sirius sat up. Harry was relieved to see they had taken the Body-Bind curse off him. "Comfortable?"

Sirius growled, long and low, like a dog.

"Right," said Lucius. "It's nice to see that you're proud of the fact you've been an Animagus so long you can no longer speak like a human being."

Sirius turned his head away.

Lucius shook his head in disgust, glanced down, and pulled up the left sleeve of his robe, baring his arm, on which the black skull-and-serpent design of the Dark Mark stood out as clearly as a tattoo. Then he raised it to his face as spoke into it, rather as if it had been a walkie-talkie. "McNair," he barked. "Peter. Where are you?"

The skull on Lucius' arm moved its jaws, and a tinny voice emerged. "We cannot get into the dungeons without you," it said. "We need someone to open the trap door."

"Damn," snapped Lucius. He glanced down at Harry. "Have you got your wand, boy?"

"Yes," said Harry, taking it out and showing it to Lucius.

"Very good, Draco," said Lucius, showing his pointed teeth in a smile. " I'd like you to watch Black until I return with Peter and McNair. If he moves, put the Leg-Locker curse on him. You are old enough to take some responsibility now," he added. "It's time for us to see what you're made of."

Harry suspected this had less to do with giving Draco an opportunity to show what he was made of than the fact that Lucius needed some help and Narcissa was in no shape to pitch in. He was not about to complain, however. "Right, Father," he said. "I’ll be here."

Lucius left, leaving Harry standing there in the dark, twitching with impatience. As soon as he heard the gate shut behind Lucius in the distance, he darted up to the bars and called, "Sirius! Sirius, don't be scared, it's me—"

Sirius raised his head. "Harry," he said. "What have you done to your hair? It looks awful."

Harry choked in surprise. "You recognize me?"

Sirius chuckled. "I'm a dog, Harry," he said. "I can recognize your scent faster than your appearance. I've known you were here since I got here."

Harry rested his head against the bars of the cell. It was a relief to have someone recognize him, even if it was because of the way he smelled.

"Disguising yourself as Lucius Malfoy's son was awfully risky, though," said Sirius disapprovingly. "What did you use? Polyjuice Potion?"

"Sort of," said Harry, and in a rush, he filled Sirius in as quickly as he possibly could on everything that had occurred in the past few days. Sirius listened in silence, occasionally nodding or making an exclamation of surprise, until Harry got to the part where Wormtail and McNair had brought Sirius into Draco's bedroom and Narcissa had promptly fainted.

"Narcissa," said Sirius meditatively. "Now there's a mystery."

"What?"

"Narcissa Hardesty," said Sirius, "was the most beautiful girl in her year at Hogwarts. She was two years older than James and Lily and the rest of us, she was a very good student, and she was very popular. And then, in her last year, she got engaged to the slimy git, Lucius Malfoy. No one could understand it. It was the mystery of the year, she'd never been able to stand him before, or any of his Slytherin pals. Narcissa," he added, "was in Ravenclaw."

Harry gave Sirius a hard look. It was difficult to tell under all the mud and blood and grime, but he thought Sirius was looking a mite shifty.

"Did you fancy her, Sirius?" he demanded.

"I might have," Sirius admitted. "I knew her quite well, Harry. She was a good person, I would have bet anything on that -- but then I would have said the same about Peter, and look what happened with him."

"So are you saying I should --" Harry began, but Sirius interrupted him.

"Just keep an eye on her, Harry, that's all I'm saying."

"Forget her, Sirius," said Harry, "the whole point is that we need to get you out of here."

Sirius shook his head. "Not now," he said. "Malfoy will be back any second."

"I know that," said Harry. "I was thinking of coming back down here later tonight. I've got my dad's cloak in my bag upstairs. It'll fit over all of us. I'd leave Draco behind," he added darkly, "but I need him to open the doors. They only open for Malfoys."

Sirius raised his right hand to run it through his hair then, and Harry saw that his left wrist was shackled to the bench on which he sat. "Harry," he said. "I know you don't like the Malfoy boy, but be sure he wears the invisibility cloak, okay? Because if they catch him, they'll think he's you. And that'll be the end of him."

Harry's throat was dry. "They're planning on killing me, aren't they, Sirius?"

"Worse," Sirius said grimly. "I heard McNair and Wormtail talking about it on the way here. Their plan was to try to use me to lure you to Malfoy Mansion, and when they trapped you, to summon Voldemort. He wants to use the Lacertus Curse on you--"

Sirius broke off. The unmistakable sound of the dungeon gate creaking open was plainly audible through the walls. Harry backed away from the bars, and stood with his wand out as Lucius, McNair, and Wormtail came into the dungeon.

They ignored Sirius. Lucius nodded once, curtly, at Draco. "Stay here, boy," he said. "I want you to watch this."

Harry tightened his hands into fists. He knew they weren't going to hurt Sirius -- a dead hostage was no hostage -- but he didn't like the sound of this.

Lucius had taken out his wand and was holding it in front of him. McNair took out his own wand, and touched the tip to Lucius'; then Wormtail raised his hand and put it on top of both wands. "Dominus vocare," he said in his hissing, squeaky voice.

A jet of green light flowed from the wands' tips, and from Wormtail's hand. It coalesced into the shape of a head and a pair of shoulders. The face was blurred and indistinct, but Harry knew it at once--there was no other face like it, flat and evil, with slitted cat eyes.

Voldemort.

"Master," said Lucius in an unctuous, ingratiating voice.

"Why have you summoned me?" said the image of Voldemort in a harsh, smoky voice.

"We wished to show you that we have succeeded in capturing Sirius Black," said Wormtail, grinning all over his fat little face. "Do you see him there?"

The image of Voldemort turned its head towards the cell that held Sirius. As it did so, its gaze swept over Harry and he felt the familiar stabbing pain in his forehead. He dug his nails into his palms, but didn't move.

"I see him," said the Voldemort-image. "And the boy Harry Potter? Has he been notified?"

"I sent an owl to his school, Master," said McNair.

"Well then," said Voldemort. "You have done good work. You shall be rewarded," and, as they all smiled, he added sharply, "when you have the boy in your custody, that is."

Their smiles faded slightly. "That will be soon, Master," said Lucius.

But Voldemort was looking at Harry again, and the pain in Harry's forehead was increasing. "Is that your son, Lucius?"

"Yes, it is."

Voldemort's gaze did not waver. "He has the look of you, Lucius," he said finally. "When he is old enough, you will bring him to me?"

"Of course, Master."

At that, the image of Voldemort vanished. Apparently he was not one for extended good-byes. Which was just as well in Harry's opinion--in another second, he was sure, the pain in his scar would have driven him to his knees.

And yet, he was glad of the pain. At least it meant he was still himself -- underneath the disguise, he was still Harry Potter.

Lucius, however, seemed pleased, or as pleased as he ever seemed. He even put a hand on Harry's shoulder as they left the dungeon. Harry twisted around to try to get a glimpse of Sirius as they went through the gate -- but Sirius had turned to face the wall, and didn't see him.

***

Draco had now drunk four butterbeers and Hermione had had four. A short and very giggly fight had broken out over who got to drink the last one. Draco had won. The alcohol content in a single butterbeer was quite low, but having drunk four of them on an empty stomach had made Hermione feel drowsy and lightheaded.

"What if your speccy little boyfriend never comes back?" said Draco gloomily. "It would be very embarrassing for me to die trapped in my own closet."

"He’s not my boyfriend," said Hermione automatically. "And he’ll come back."

Draco looked at her hard over his butterbeer. "Why?" he said.

"Because Harry wouldn’t leave us here to die," said Hermione, startled. "He might be annoyed at me, but he isn’t homicidal, now is he?"

"No," said Draco, "I meant, why isn’t he your boyfriend?"

Hermione discovered she was having a bit of trouble focusing her eyes on Draco. Of course, it was about four in the morning and she hadn’t slept in twenty hours. "Because," she said glumly, "he doesn’t like me that way. He said so."

"Stupid git," said Draco, matter-of-factly, "I don’t think he knows what he wants."

"What’s he feeling now?" asked Hermione, despite herself.

Draco thought for a moment. "Sad," he said.

"You know what I’m really going to miss?" said Hermione, who was feeling an odd drifting sensation now, rather as if she were falling asleep without being tired.

"Being surrounded by all this Armani?" suggested Draco.

"No," said Hermione, "You. Being like this. When we take the spell off you and Harry, you’ll go right back to being nasty and horrible, won’t you?"

"On the plus side," said Draco, trying to sound light, "Harry will probably stop being such a jerk."

"Don’t call him that," said Hermione, but her protest was more automatic than truly felt.

"You know what I’m going to miss?" said Draco, and now he wasn’t looking at her, but staring fixedly at a spot above her head.

"What?"

"Having you for a friend," he said, very quickly. "I mean, even back when you thought I was Harry, it was pretty good... I’ve got friends, you know, like Crabbe and Goyle, but I never get the feeling that they’d die for me. Well, they might die of me, like if I told them to eat poison they probably would, but that’s more stupidity than loyalty, in my opinion." He sighed. "But you’d die for Harry, wouldn’t you?"

"Yeah," said Hermione. "Although I think I might die of him as well," she added, and Draco grinned crookedly. Hermione leaned sideways so that she was now resting the back of her head on his shoulder. He was sitting very still; she could see the line of his profile, looking very serious and familiar in the light from the wand. "I’ll be sorry when you start shaving," she said dreamily (she was quite lightheaded now), "I love that translucent quality your skin has, I always have. And when you rip that first razor through your stubble, that’ll go with it forever."

She tilted her head up and kissed him on the cheek.

He looked down at her. His eyes were inches from hers. "Hermione," he said, "Who are you talking to?"

"I don’t know," she said, and this time she kissed him on the mouth.

Whatever misgivings he might have had, they didn’t show. He caught her by the shoulders and kissed her back fiercely, and any half-thought she might have had that it was Harry she was kissing vanished, she had never kissed Harry but she knew that if she did it wouldn’t be like this. This was kissing a stranger, or a near-stranger; every touch of his lips on hers sent bolts of fearful excitement zinging through her nerve endings. He didn’t smell like Harry either, he smelled like Draco: lime juice, pepper, cold night air.

But when he said her name, it was in Harry’s voice.

She didn’t care. They rolled over and over, kissing in the cramped confines of the wardrobe, banging off the sides, so preoccupied that neither of them noticed that someone was opening the wardrobe door and letting in the light from outside, so preoccupied they didn’t stop until a voice spoke and shattered their absorption with a sharp and furious finality:

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" said Harry.

---

Hermione was quite miserable. Harry wasn’t speaking to her, and it looked like he might well have decided never to speak to her again. Oddly enough, he was still talking to Draco, although not with what could be termed great enthusiasm.

Draco and Hermione had sprung apart violently the moment they had recognized Harry’s presence, but it had been way too late. Hermione had stumbled out of the wardrobe, half-hysterical and very sticky from butterbeer and kissing, and tried to take Harry’s arm, but he had only looked down at her hand as if it was a Blast-Ended Skrewt that had landed on his sleeve, and said : "Don’t. Touch. Me." in a very flat, very cold, and very final voice. Then he said, "Come on out of the closet, Malfoy. I need to talk to you."

Draco had crawled out of the closet looking apprehensive, apparently certain that Harry was going to throw a punch at him, but Harry hadn’t. Harry seemed convinced that the person who was at fault here was Hermione, who was now perched miserably on the end of Draco’s bed, watching the two boys craft a plan to get Sirius out of the dungeons.

"We’ll both have to go," Harry was saying flatly. He had explained Sirius’ situation, now he and Draco had their heads bent over a sketchy map Harry had drawn of the mansion and its underground passages. "You have to let me in down there, because I need someone with Malfoy blood to open the doors. We could both fit under the invisibility cloak, but it’s probably easier if you wear it and I go a little after you. If doors start popping open all over the place with no one operating them, questions might be asked. And stay under the cloak--you're Public Enemy Number One around here, the way you look."

Draco nodded. "It’s better if we go soon," he said, "pretty soon they’ll be expecting Harry Potter to show up and if you don't..."

"Yeah," said Harry shortly. "I was thinking we’d go right now."

"Good plan," said Draco. "What about Hermione?"

Harry gave Hermione a long, cold, unfriendly look. "Let’s lock her in the wardrobe," he suggested.

"I’m not staying in the wardrobe," said Hermione flatly. "I’m coming with you."

"No, you aren’t," said Harry, not looking at her. "It’s going to be risky, and I can’t be constantly worried that you’re going to do something stupid and jeopardize your safety."

"You know perfectly well that I don’t do stupid things," said Hermione, furious

"I think you’ve just proved that you do," said Harry, taking no trouble to conceal his contempt.

Without pausing to consider what she was doing, Hermione took five quick steps towards Harry and hit him hard across the face. The map fell out of his hands and he stared at her, looking as astonished as if his wand had jumped out of his pocket and started singing the national anthem.

Draco was grinning. "You might want to sit down, Harry," he said. "The last time she did that to me I saw stars for days."

Harry and Hermione turned on Draco simultaneously. "Shut up, Malfoy!"

"Fine, then," said Draco. "I’ll just go sit over here." And he stalked off towards the far end of the room. He sounded resentful, but Hermione had a feeling he was eager to get away and let them go on with their argument in peace.

"I’m not going to apologize," she said to Harry in an icy tone. "You deserved it."

"Yeah." Harry, still looking quite shocked, took Draco’s advice and sat down on the end of the bed. "I guess it isn’t any of my business."

He looked so miserable, Hermione felt guilty. "Harry....I know what you must be thinking....."

"Oh, no you don’t."

"I know you don’t like Draco–"

"Don’t like him?" Harry sounded as though she had just told him she was going out to dinner with Voldemort. "This is Draco Malfoy, Hermione, you do realize this is Draco Malfoy we’re talking about here? The one who tried to get Hagrid sent to Azkaban about a million times? The one who calls you a Mudblood? The one whose father got Ron’s dad fired from the Ministry of Magic?"

"I didn’t know about that!" said Draco’s voice from across the room.

"Shut up!" said Harry, not taking his eyes off Hermione’s face. "The Draco Malfoy who said he wished you were dead? Do you remember that, Hermione?"

"He’s different now," she protested, knowing how stupid this sounded. "He’s changed."

"Changed?" repeated Harry, now sounding as if she had just told him she was going out to dinner with Voldemort and bringing a nice bottle of wine. "What would Ron say, if he knew you were making out in a closet with the guy whose father took his dad’s job away and practically bankrupted his whole family? If it wasn’t for Fred and George’s joke shop they’d be out on the street and you know it!"

"That’s not fair," said Hermione, stung by this mention of Ron. "That was Lucius, not Draco. I don’t blame you for what the Dursleys do, now do I?" She dropped her voice to a whisper. "Harry..." she said again, "he’s different now. When we were trying to get into the house from outside, he jumped in front of an arrow that was aimed at me. He saved my life. Doesn’t that mean anything?"

Harry looked at her. Her brown eyes were huge in her white face and her lips were trembling. "It’s the Polyjuice spell, Hermione," he said. "You know that. You sound like Hagrid, adopting some horrible monster and insisting it's well-behaved. One of these days, he’ll bite your hand off. Either when we take the spell off him or before."

"How do you know it’s the spell, Harry?" said Hermione, casting an anxious glance across the room at Draco.

"Because," he said, paused, and looked up at her. She could tell he was trying to decide whether or not to tell her something. "Because I can feel the opposite happening in me, all right?"

"You mean....you can hear what he’s thinking?"

He shook his head. "No. Something else." He took his wand out of his pocket and beckoned her to come closer to him. "Watch this, Hermione," he said, and pointed the wand at a pair of spiders who were scuttling across a gap in the flagstones.

"Cruoris!" he hissed.

A jet of black light shot out of his wand tip and hit one of the spiders. Instantly, it turned and savagely attacked its companion, biting off its head and proceeding to devour it. Harry watched the carnage with a grim look on his face.

Hermione felt her eyes widen. "Harry," she said, dismayed, "that was....Dark magic, wasn’t it?"

"That wasn’t even that nasty of a spell," said Harry woodenly, watching the remaining spider, which was now much fatter than it had been, scurry away across the floor. "Most of them are loads nastier."

"But you’ve never done Dark magic in your life," said Hermione, shocked. "And it needs masses of practice..."

"I haven’t," said Harry, "but he has," and he jerked his head toward Draco. "Now do you see?"

"Oh, Harry...." she said, and sat down next to him on the bed. She could see how miserable he was and she felt like her own heart was being shredded. She had promised herself she wouldn’t feel guilty about kissing Draco in the wardrobe, but now she did. It didn’t make sense, she owed Harry nothing, he probably didn’t even like her that way, but there it was and nothing to be done about it. Silently promising herself she would never kiss Draco again, she said fiercely, "We will get out of this, Harry. We will get Sirius out of the dungeon, and we’ll get the spell off you, and everything will be back like it was before."

"What good am I going to be to Sirius like this?" said Harry bleakly. "What if I suddenly go all mad and evil? And what if the spell won’t ever come off?"

"Then we can take it up with the Ministry when this is all over," said Draco, who had come back over to their aside of the room and was gazing at Harry in irritation. "Would you stop with the self-pity, Potter? You're not going to go all mad and evil, you've got a bit of me in you, not a bit of Voldemort."

"Same difference," said Harry, staring at the floor.

"Right," said Draco. "Tell me: when did the Boy Who Lived become The Boy Who Sulked?"

"Oh, very funny," said Harry. "Too bad none of the Slytherins are here to appreciate you, Malfoy."

" I didn’t choose to have Wonder Twin powers with you, either, but I’m not lying about whinging on and on," said Draco shortly.

"No," said Harry, with heavy sarcasm, "your method of solving the problem by snogging Hermione every chance you get is working wonders. You deal with crises in your way, Malfoy, I’ll deal with them in mine."

"My way is more fun," Draco pointed out.

"Your way," said Harry, "is going to get your head kicked in."

"Now that’s me talking, that is," said Draco, sounding pleased. "I recognize the bad temper."

Harry didn’t look like he even had the energy to tell Draco, who was smiling to himself, to shut up. He glared at him, stood up, grabbed the map, and said, "If we’re going to go, we should go now."

They went, Draco grabbing up the invisibility cloak and Hermione taking her wand, which had fallen inside the wardrobe during all the confusion. As they walked toward the door, Harry passed Draco and hissed under his breath, so Hermione wouldn’t hear him, "She only likes you because you look like me."

Draco stopped smiling.

***

The first part of the plan went remarkably well. Draco, in his invisibility cloak, went into the drawing room, checked that no one was around, and opened up the trap door for Harry and Hermione. They scrambled down the stairs and Draco followed after them.

Using a combination of Draco's memories of the underground passages and Harry's incomplete map, they made their way slowly downward through the tunnels. Hermione was amazed at how huge they were. The passed underground rooms the size of tennis courts, some with sparkling jewelry-like stalactites hanging down from the ceiling.

"There are more rooms under your house than in your house, Draco," she said.

"I know," said Draco's disembodied voice off to her left, "The Mansion is only about six hundred years old, but these passages have been here for a millennium at least. My mother says she reckons it once was some sort of underground city."

"Did you know your mother went to school with my parents?" said Harry, who still wasn't looking very friendly, but seemed resigned to the situation.

"I knew she went to Hogwarts, yeah."

"She used to be friends with Sirius," said Harry.

Draco's voice was flat. He didn't sound like he wanted to talk about his mother. "She's never mentioned him."

Hermione trailed along after them. She was brooding on what had transpired between her and Draco in the wardrobe. She wondered if Draco was thinking about it as well. It was a bit hard to tell, due to his current invisible state.

It wasn't the first time she had ever kissed anyone. She had kissed Ron a couple times during fifth year, but nothing had ever come of it, every time their lips had met Ron had panicked and run away, then ignored her for several days thereafter. This had swiftly begun to grate on Hermione's nerves and she had announced that they would just be friends from then on, which was a huge relief to both of them.

Then there had been Viktor. Hermione grinned to herself. Poor Viktor. She had never really liked him all that much, although she had allowed him to kiss her on several unmemorable occasions. She had mostly paid attention to him in hopes that it would make Harry jealous, which it hadn't. Harry, as usual, seemed to be able to see right through her and could tell without trying that she wasn't really interested in Viktor at all.

She remembered how happy she had been right before the second task of the Triwizard Tournament, when they had told her she was going to be a hostage for one of the champions -- the "thing the champion would most miss." She'd assumed it would be Harry whose hostage she would be. The memory of how disappointed she'd been when it had turned out to be Viktor wiped the grin off her face.

"We're here," said Draco, somewhere off to her right. "Hold on."

They were at the dungeon entrance, now tightly barred and locked with the snake-shaped lock. There was some rustling as Draco went up and presumably did whatever it was he had to do to get the lock open. It fell to the side, and the gate squeaked open.

Harry took her hand as they went through the gate and she gripped it tightly. It was creepy down here, and the dungeon itself was very dark. Harry pulled her forward, and behind her, faintly, she could hear Draco following them.

Harry dropped to his knees before a row of bars, and Hermione dropped down next to him. "Sirius," said Harry in a whisper. "Sirius, are you awake?"

There was no answer. "Sirius," repeated Harry, more urgently now.

A tiny light blossomed like a firefly in the pitch darkness of the cell. As it bloomed outward, Hermione realized it was the light from a wand. It expanded to illuminate the cell, showing the bare, straw-covered floor, the dank walls, and Lucius Malfoy and Wormtail, sitting together on the stone bench on which Sirius had been lying an hour before. Lucius, holding the glowing wand in his right hand, was staring at Harry with an expression of dawning rage.

"Draco," he said through his teeth. "What are you doing here?"

Behind her Hermione heard the real Draco gasp in audible shock. But Harry was too stunned to speak. His eyes darted wildly from Lucius, to the bare stone bench where he had last seen Sirius, and back again to Draco's father.

Hermione realized that if anyone was going to do anything, it would have to be her. She stood up suddenly, letting go of Harry's hand as she did so. "Mister Malfoy," she said. "This is all my fault."

Lucius' gaze flicked to her and she saw disbelief written across his face. "And who," he said, with some difficulty, "are you?"

"I'm Draco's girlfriend," she said. "I'm…Lavender Brown."

She bit her lip and sent out a silent apology to Lavender, whose name she had picked because the Browns were an old and well-respected wizarding family, a fact Lucius Malfoy would be sure to know.

Harry, who was goggling at her in the manner of a stuffed frog, tried to grab her ankle warningly. She stomped on his hand.

"Draco and I were having an argument," she said, batting her eyelashes at Lucius. "He said your family had the biggest dungeons in Britian, and I said that the Rookwoods did, and, well…." She glanced down. "I made him take me down here. It’s all my fault!"

And she burst into tears, which was not hard to do since the situation was already so stressful. As she had expected, Lucius Malfoy, while perfectly at ease with all sorts of torture and nasty Dark magic, was unprepared for the spectacle of a crying teenage girl. He looked deeply shaken.

"Stop that," he said to Hermione. "How did you get here, anyway?"

"Floo Powder," said Hermione, and cried harder than ever. "I just missed Draco so much when he wasn't at school….And I wanted to see Sirius Black, because he's one of the most feared wizards in England, and I just couldn't believe you had captured him, Mister Malfoy….oh, I never knew Draco's father was such a great wizard…."

This perked Lucius up. "Well," he said. "No harm done, I suppose, especially as Black is no longer even here. We have moved him to another cell."

Hermione peeked at him through her fingers, hoping he might drop a bit more information, but he seemed disinclined to do so.

"I must say," Lucius added, looking at Harry now, "I'm relieved to see you have a girlfriend, Draco. I was beginning to think you were going to turn out to be gay."

There was a stifled sound from behind Hermione as the real Draco spluttered indignantly.

"Um," said Harry. "Right. Well, I'm not. Although I can see why you thought so," he added. "All those frilly clothes…"

He broke off as Draco stomped an invisible foot down on his ankle.

"And she's quite pretty, too," said Lucius, who was now looking at Hermione again. It was not a look she liked. "Why don't we all go back upstairs and get…. a little better acquainted?" He turned to Wormtail. "Peter, you stay with the prisoner in the other room until he gets here."

Wormtail nodded. He was looking at Hermione with a confused expression on his face. With a sick swoop in her stomach, Hermione realized that he was probably wondering where he had seen her before. Because the truth was, he had seen her before --with Harry. Of course, she had been thirteen then and she was sixteen now, and there are no greater changes that take place in a girl's appearance that those which take place between thirteen and sixteen -- she was at least a foot taller now, had long straight silky hair instead of the bushy short hair she had once had, and of course her teeth were different, and her figure….yuck, she hoped Wormtail wasn't looking at her figure.

"In the meantime," said Lucius, "Lavender and I will go upstairs and talk. Draco, get up off the floor. You may come with us if you wish."

And he swept out of the cell, taking Hermione's arm as he did so and propelling her forcefully upstairs. A very upset-looking Harry followed behind them.




Chapter 7 >>>