Isolation

He can't leave the room. Her room. And it's all the Order's fault. Confined to a small space with only the Mudblood for company, something's going to give. Maybe his sanity. Maybe not. "There," she spat. "Now your Blood's filthy too!" DM/HG. PostHBP.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6291747/1/Isolation

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2. Punch

"She's improved," Snape commented, eyeing the door with a pensive look.

"You have no idea," McGonagall sighed, frowning as Hermione's protests only grew louder, ringing around her office and making her cringe. "She's been practising a lot with Horace and myself."

"I can see that," he nodded, glancing over to Draco. "Perhaps she will be able to manage him."

"She is capable," the headmistress assured him. "Severus, the anti-Apparition wards will kick in again shortly, and I think it will be easier to explain this to her if you aren't here-

"I've been here too long anyway," he agreed, taking some long strides to the young wizard hunched in his seat. "Remember what we discussed, Draco-

"You're actually leaving me here?" he questioned, hissing out the words through his teeth. "With these people? Thanks a bunch-

"Try to remember that you are in danger," his old professor advised, his voice thick and condescending. "And these people are the only ones that are willing to provide you with somewhere to stay-

"Well, more fool then," Draco shrugged dismissively, giving McGonagall a long and bored look. "Were you expecting some sort of gratitude for this?"

"I have no expectations of you at all, Mr Malfoy," she told him with genuine disappointment. "Your constant failure to do anything worthwhile has destroyed any confidence I may have had in you."

His cocky façade flinched at her words. Not because he was bothered about upsetting the wrinkly wench; he really didn't give a shit. No, it was that she had called him a failure. And the truth hurt. In the last seven years, he couldn't recall one thing that he had managed to successfully achieve. Not one. And his last cock-up had proved fatal; fatal enough to warrant a death-wish and an indefinite stay in this shithole.

Failure.

"Would you like me to pretend I care?" he muttered casually, looking back to Snape. "I thought you were leaving."

The blond growled when he received another harsh slap to the back of his skull. "You should learn to control that tongue of yours, Draco," the older man scolded sharply. "I apologise for this, Minerva."

"There is no need," she insisted. "I can handle it from here. You have my word that I will do everything I can to ensure his safety. You really should go, Severus. It will be getting light soon."

"Right," he mumbled, giving the witch a sullen nod. "I'm not sure if I will be able to contact you any time soon."

"You know where we are if you need us," she said, her voice softer and bordering on sombre. "Good luck, Severus."

Draco released a disgusted snort that was drowned out by the loud snap of Apparition. He felt his jaw twitch and fought the embers of apprehension that settled in his gut. Snape may have turned out to be a blood traitor, but at least the creepy guy had been bound by a Vow to protect him, whereas as these blood traitors would probably smother him in his sleep. Another one of Granger's shrill howls ruptured his eardrums, and he turned to McGonagall with a weary and half-shut stare.

"This will be fun," he muttered dryly, folding his arms over his chest.

"You will not say anything to make this more difficult," the witch commanded with an agitated finger pointed in his direction. "And you will certainly not use that awful word."

"You mean Mudblood?" he questioned, drawing out the derogatory term. "You seem awfully confident with that assumption-

"I'm warning you, Mr Malfoy," she persisted. "You are only making things more difficult for yourself if you continue to act this way-

"Just get it over with," he groaned, rubbing his eyes. The Mudblood's screeches had made his painful heartbeats thud against his temple, and the warmth was lulling his lids to fall. He really wanted some sleep. "It's nearly three in the morning and I would like to get some rest-

"And I'm sure you'd like to do it in a bed," she said slowly, staring him down. "I know you haven't had a bed for a while, Mr Malfoy-

"What's your point?"

"If you insist on making this harder than it should be," she started, taking a couple of steps towards the screaming closet. "Then I might decide not to let you sleep in the bed, or use the shower, or perhaps you would-

"I get your point," he scowled, firing her a foul glare. "Just get on with it-

"It would also do you good to learn some manners," she advised, finishing her short distance to the closet's door.

With an overdue calming breath, the headmistress tugged open the door and frowned when she saw the mess. Hermione's struggles had knocked some of the shelves, and the younger witch had gained a few bruises from some raining books. She paused her thrashing when she noticed McGonagall's presence in the doorframe, her chest heaving against the ropes. The greying witch angled her wand to levitate Hermione into her office and sighed when her student recommenced her attempts to get free.

Draco resisted the taunting words that teased his tongue for the sake of a comfortable night. Granger looked like hell had gargled her and then spat her back out; her chaotic hair swarming around her face like Autumn leaves, and her eyes red-stained with what looked like a sleep-deprived month. Good. He was glad she was suffering. Glad that somebody else was.

"Let me out of these things!" she shouted, her eyes swollen with tears as she hovered a few inches off the ground.

"I need you to calm down, Miss Granger-

"I will not calm down!" she refused, her voice quaking and scared. "What the hell-

"I promise I will explain everything," the professor attempted to soothe her. "I need you to calm down, Hermione. Please."

She stole six long breaths and swallowed back the anguish wedged in her throat. She still hadn't noticed him. "Okay," she murmured. "Okay, just please get these things off me."

With a moment of hesitation, McGonagall released the spell, and Hermione's feet landed on the floorboards with a small thump. She brushed her palms over the raw lines left by the ropes and studied the older woman like a stranger. She coughed away a confused sob and took a wary step towards the centre of the room, oblivious that she'd moved closer to Malfoy.

"Why was Snape here?" she questioned finally, deciding that the silence was far too vexing.

"Before I tell you anything," McGonagall started. "You need to understand that you can't reveal this to anyone. Not even Mr Potter or Mr Weasley."

Hermione shifted her weight and pursed her lips, analysing the situation in her head. McGonagall's words did not bode well with her; she told Harry and Ron everything, and her professor's odd behaviour in the last few minutes had completely baffled her. Her fawny eyes darted away, needing to focus on something else, and that's when she saw him.

Him.

She locked on to his icy-cool glare and felt something in her soul snap.

She didn't remember sprinting over to him, everything was blurry and fast. When she was close enough, she drew back her balled fist and rammed into his face, hard enough to scorch her knuckles. She felt a feral growl vibrate in her throat, and drew her fist back again, the blood slithering down his chin and across her fingers no where near satisfying enough. She wanted to pound his face until it was unrecognisable, until it stopped reminding her of what he'd done.

But McGonagall's spell dragged her to the other side of the room. And she was screaming again.

She fought the magic so hard her limbs burned, but it wouldn't give. "What the hell is that bastard-

"Stop it!" the other witch shouted, keeping her wand trained on Hermione's writhing body. There were no tears now; just a rage that simmered and practically caused the girl to glow. "Hermione, you must listen-

"You spineless twat!" she snapped, ignoring McGonagall and curling her lip as she eyed Malfoy. He was thumbing away the trickle of blood that was leaking from his lip with an expression that was far too aloof for her to handle. He caught her eyes again, and her hatred was blinding. He was slimmer than she recalled, and he looked a little worn, but everything else about him was exactly how she remembered. The creamy hair, the china skin, the rain-cloud eyes. It was awful, and she roared with outrage.

"Control yourself," McGonagall attempted again, stepping into Hermione's line of sight. "I'm trying to explain-

"How could you?" Hermione hissed at the ageing witch, fresh tears springing to her fiery glare. "They killed Dumbledore! How the fuck could you do this to-

"That is quite enough!" she replied, her tone that familiar strict bite. "I'm trying to tell you-

"Nothing you could say would-

"Severus Snape is a spy for the Order," she said bluntly, satisfied when Hermione seized up with shock and released a dulcet gasp. "He is on our side-

"Th-that's impossible," the brunette stuttered, ceasing her struggles to gape at her professor with disbelief. "No. No there's no way-

"It's true-

"You're lying!" Hermione blurted, her cheeks flushed like ripe peaches dotted with dew. She twisted her neck so she could look at Malfoy again, and she felt bile singe the back of her tongue. She felt sick. "They killed him...They-they killed Dumbledore-

"It's okay, Hermione," McGonagall attempted to console the girl, before she glanced over her shoulder to the silent wizard; still sat in his chair and trying to nurse the gash in his lip. "Mr Malfoy, I need to talk with Miss Granger alone."

"Good for you," he grumbled, flinching when it hurt to move his mouth.

"Mr Malfoy," she sighed, suddenly realising how tired she was. "I need to discus some things privately-

"Why?" he shot back quickly. "Snape told me he was a spy, so I know all this-

"You don't know everything," the witch told him. "And you don't have any right to all the information-

"Well, I'm comfortable here-

"Don't force me to move you," she warned, gesturing with her free hand to a door on the other side of her office. "There's a kitchen through there. Help yourself to some food and I will call you when

we are finished."

A retort lingered behind his teeth but a spasm in his stomach reminded him that he hadn't eaten in the last twenty-four hours. His curiosity was loud, but the rumbles of starvation were louder. He slowly rose from his seat and gave both the witches a bored look before he headed to the kitchen, muttering a vibrant list of obscenities under his breath.

McGonagall turned back to Hermione once they were alone and tilted her head thoughtfully. "Will you listen to what I have to say if I release the spell?"

"Snape's really a spy?" she asked with a meek tone.

"I swear to you on my life," she said clearly. "Will you listen to me?"

With a confused and pathetic sob, she nodded her head and felt her arms and legs regain control. She wiped away the evidence of her weakness on her sleeve and observed the witch she looked up to with wild and desperate eyes. "Snape," she murmured hesitantly. "He can't be a spy. He killed-

"Albus left me one of his memories before he died," the headmistress started, her voice wavering a little with emotion. "And it was of a discussion between him and Severus-

"But-

"Albus knew about Draco Malfoy's mission," she continued. "And he asked Severus to complete...the task, so that Mr Malfoy would not. He wanted to save him-

"He is not worth saving," she frowned, shooting an agitated look to the kitchen door. "He is-

"You must understand that Mr Malfoy was forced into his mission, Hermione," she offered, but the argument was weak. It was hard to defend someone who had put so many lives in danger all before his seventeenth birthday. "Albus knew that Severus had agreed to an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco so he asked Severus to do it instead-

"Does Malfoy know all this?" she questioned, spitting out his name like poison.

"I don't think so," McGonagall shook her head. "He knows that Severus is a spy for the Order, and that makes you the fourth person to know this information. No one else knows and I intend to keep it that way-

"So why was Snape here? Surely coming here would be dangerous?"

She sighed. "He's asked me to protect Mr Malfoy from now on-

"What?" Hermione barked, her brow wrinkling with distaste. "Why the hell should we?"

"Because if we don't," she answered carefully, making sure her student would understand the importance of her words. "Then Voldemort might find Mr Malfoy and kill him-

"That's no real loss-

"And then the Vow would kill Severus," she carried on, ignoring the harsh words from the girl. "Also, if Mr Malfoy left here, then he could reveal Severus' secret and he would be killed."

Hermione faltered.

Snape is a spy. One of us...

"And above anything else," McGonagall brought her back to the damning present. "If we don't protect Draco Malfoy from harm, then Albus' sacrifice will be for nothing."

The female fraction of the Golden Trio felt something in her chest drop. None of this made sense, and yet everything seemed to slide into place in her head. She would swear to Merlin's grave that every second of this haunting night was draining away her energy. There was just too much too handle; too much to take in. Snape. A spy. Dumbledore had known...And then a troubling thought popped into her head.

"Why did you call me here?"

"Because he will be staying with you," McGonagall told her steadily. "You are my most trustworthy student and your skills as a witch are-

"How can you do this to me?" she moaned, scrunching her face with stress. "I hate him. He's evil-

"I know that this is a lot to ask," the other witch said with genuine sympathy. "But there is nobody else I can trust with this. You have a spare room-

"We'll kill each other-

"No you won't," she argued, taking some steps towards the witch to place a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I am keeping his wand and I will ward your dorm so he can't leave and you have a password for your bedroom-

"There must be someone else," Hermione pleaded. "Anyone else. One of the professors-

"You are the only person who I trust to handle this," McGonagall breathed sadly. "The other professors have too much on their plates as it is. I need you to do this-

"For how long?"

"For as long as it takes," she answered cryptically, offering the girl another apologetic frown. "I am really sorry for this, Miss Granger. If things are really that bad then I will do my best to make other arrangements, but I honestly believe that you can do this."

She wanted to protest; to tell McGonagall to let Malfoy rot in the grave he had dug himself. She wanted to point out that he would probably try to kill her in her sleep, or that she wouldn't last a day without hexing the twat until he was a pointless mess smeared against her wall. But images of Dumbledore fluttered in her brain.

If we don't protect Draco Malfoy from harm, then Albus' sacrifice will be for nothing...

"Okay," she found herself mumbling absently. "Okay, I-I will try."

McGonagall's face instantly relaxed. "Thank you," she gave the young witch a forced smile as she handed her back her wand. "I know this will be difficult for you, and I promise that I will do what I can to make it easier for you."

Hermione released a loud and lonely breath. "I'm tired," she whispered, her body and mind overworked and desiring sleep.

"I think we all need some rest," the headmistress agreed. "I will escort you both back to your dorm and set up the wards."

"Alright," she shrugged, too exhausted too argue any more. "Let's get this over with."

McGonagall gave the girl's shoulder a reassuring pat before she headed to her kitchen and pushed open the door. "Come now, Mr Malfoy," she called, eyeing the wizard closely as he came back into the office, his hands pushed arrogantly in his pockets as he gave Hermione a bitter and intolerant look.

"Get over your little bitch-fit?" he sneered, purposefully keeping his distance.

The urge to scream at him until his ears wept blood swamped her, but she shoved it aside. Something twigged in her head, and she realised then that she had a massive advantage over him. She had her wand. She was in control.

"You still have some blood on your chin," she told him, her words drawn out and sharp.

He hid his irritation with an amused snort as he slowly wiped the back on his hand across his mouth again, keeping his stare locked onto hers. He realised then that her eyes weren't brown; they were more like gold. How repulsively Gryffindor. So, the little Mudblood thought she was in charge did she? His smirk stretched a little. Fine, let her believe that; at least he would have a little entertainment if he was going to be locked away in her room.

"Not happy to see me, Granger?" he goaded. "You look a little tense-

"And you look like shit," she retorted, trailing her tempestuous glare over his tattered robes. "I'm warning you, Malfoy. Don't wind me up-

"Or what?" he growled, bring his face too close to hers. She held her ground and cringed when she realised his breath smelled of the blood she had coaxed with her fist.

"You don't get it, do you?" she whispered, narrowing her eyes. "You have nothing. You are nothing. And now you're stuck here; forced to accept our help like some pathetic child."

Something flickered in his eyes; something between shame and spite. That look ignited a small and fickle flame in her stomach that made her feel powerful; cocky. It didn't last long, just enough to inject a little more boldness into her backbone.

"I hope this is killing you," she whispered with harsh honesty. "I hope that this is tearing you apart-

"Fuck off, Mud-

"That's enough," McGonagall interrupted, and he arched an eyebrow when she aimed her wand at him. "Let's go, Mr Malfoy. It's late."

His eyes flickered between the old bint and her wand. He could honestly say that he'd never planned to attempt a runner on the way to Granger's dorm. There would be no point with two armed witches watching him like he was an overfed cauldron; volatile and hazardous. He rolled his eyes at her and started to follow Granger out of the room, McGonagall behind him keeping her wand trained on the back of his neck.

The walk was silent, and the two witches glanced nervously around constantly to ensure the corridors were empty of wandering souls. They were, of course, and the three sets of footfalls mingled with the tittering echoes of rain. Draco eyed the back of Granger's head as they walked, noting the strained muscles in her shoulders and the too-tight grip on her wand. At least she wasn't waving it in his face though, unlike a certain headmistress who found it necessary to prod his spine every few steps.

The younger witch quickened her steps a little to pull aside a set of heavy drapes and reveal a portrait of a pride of lions, purring and basking in their painted sunlight. He didn't hear the password Granger muttered, but then he probably wasn't supposed to.

She disappeared inside and he barged in after her, as though he already owned the room. He took a slow and revolted look around the sitting room and Hermione watched him closely as he heeled away his shoes and headed towards the bathroom, shoving his way past her with more force than necessary. She was about to shout after him, but he simply slammed the toilet door behind him with a shuddering smack that made her flinch.

"Wanker," she hissed under her breath, twisting her neck to give McGonagall a weary look. "Will setting up the wards take long? I'd like to go to bed."

"Just a few minutes," the professor assured her, twitching her wrist and gliding her wand around the door.

The complicated incantation sounded more like lullaby to Hermione, and her lids felt like stone. She heard the shower turn on, and the running water hummed alongside McGonagall's words. She was so exhausted, and the night had done damaging things to her mind. She just wanted to lie down in a dark room and accept the dreams; the nightmares. She snapped out of her trance when the headmistress moved into her vision, her mouth moving with unheard words.

"Sorry?"

"I'm finished," McGonagall told her softly, her face grim. "I must remind you again, Miss Granger, that this has to remain between us."

"I know," she replied.

And she really did know. She had become too acquainted with secrets in the last six years, and most had taken their toll, but she knew instantly that this one would haunt her the most. For the sole reason that she couldn't tell Harry and Ron; this one would stretch the limits of her tolerance. She rolled the word secret over in her head, and noticed it even sounded harsh; like a snake's hiss.

"Do I need to remind you to keep a close eye on your wand?"

"I always do," the brunette sighed, and the other woman mirrored her unease.

"I know this will be hard for you," McGonagall admitted. "But you have yet to disappoint me, Hermione."

She watched the older witch disappear from the room and suddenly felt ridiculously claustrophobic. She turned her head to eye the bathroom door and chewed her lip nervously. Clawing her agitated fingers through her mussed hair, she dragged her feet to her bedroom, keeping her anxious eyes on the bathroom door until she mumbled her password, Lutra lutra, and ducked inside.

She didn't bother shedding her clothes, just collapsed with an ungraceful fall onto her bed and cocooned herself amongst the sheets and blankets. She glanced out of her window and the sky was still black, but then winter had that effect on the colours and moods of the mornings. The distant calls of early birds were the give away, and a quick look at her clock confirmed that it was almost four in the morning.

She thanked Merlin that it was Friday and that she had no classes tomorrow, although she wondered if she really should be thanking anything or anyone considering the events of tonight.

The trickling droplets of Malfoy's wash were loud and clear in her room, and served as a taunting reminder to her new and unwelcome roommate. Her temple was throbbing with the beginnings of a stress-induced headache, and she knew that despite her fatigue, she would have a hard time finding sleep.

Half an hour passed before the water died, and she could hear Malfoy's crass movements as he headed into his own room. She groaned into her pillow when those sounds carried too; skimming across the bathroom tiles and leaking through the thin walls. She grabbed her wand to hurriedly mumble a silencing charm on her room, and hoped that it would last until morning.

.

.

Draco combed his fingers through his damp hair and fiddled with the hem of the towel. He couldn't begin to describe how good it felt to have a decent shower; to feel clean again. His eyes roamed the bedroom and noted the Gryffindor colours with a repulsed grumble that simmered against his tongue. And this was where he would be staying; amongst the gold and red mess.

He heard a distant noise and realised it must have been Granger shifting in her sleep. He could hear that? Great.

Still, at least the bed was comfortable.

He discarded the towel and opted for sleeping in the nude, deciding blemishing his freshly-cleaned skin with his scruffy clothes would just irritate him. His eyes fell to the Dark Mark staining his ashen flesh, and he traced the outline with the tip of his finger; scowling into the darkness before he fell back into the inviting fabrics and stared up at the ceiling.

The sky had turned a nasty shade of indigo when he finally managed steal that elusive slumber that he'd been craving for weeks.

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