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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36. Wands

Hermione twirled the strand of black hair between her thumb and forefinger, and watched it spin like a miniature tornado.

After waking up some ten minutes ago and taking her potion, she had slipped out of Draco's arms and tested her legs. Still numb from the waist down, she had half-hobbled and half-crawled to the chest of drawers where Tonks had told her she would find her bag. She'd started to remove the contents — mainly her potions and books — checking that nothing had been damaged during their encounter with the Snatchers and the incidents that had followed in Malfoy Manor, and when she'd found her bloodstained clothes, she'd shuddered to the onslaught of flashbacks they'd stirred.

And then she'd found the strand of hair, tucked between the threads of her jumper; definitely not hers, and almost certainly Bellatrix's.

She twirled it again, focussing on the black, coiled wisp and analysing it so intently, her eyes began to feel dry and sore.

"Granger, what the hell are you doing?"

His voice startled her and she whipped her head around to meet his inquiring stare, quickly hiding the hair in the pocket of her bag. "Nothing," she said. "I was just making sure the Snatchers hadn't taken anything, or broken something."

"Were you even paying attention when Tonks said that you should take it slow? Or are you just intent on injuring yourself further-

"Draco, I have some temporary nerve damage," she frowned. "I am not made of glass."

"Well, forgive me for trying to be sensible," he drawled slowly. "But I think it would be a wise idea for you to wait until I am awake before you try to walk around-

"Yes, because there are so many hazardous objects in our room."

"I guarantee you'd manage to find one."

She scoffed but didn't respond, instead smiling appreciatively as he raised his arms above his head to stretch, watching the muscles in his arms distend, flex, and strain against the short sleeves of his t-shirt. She thought he was his most beautiful in the morning; his hair slightly ruffled, his features relaxed, and his musky signature scent overpowering everything in the room. She mused it might be because all of his defences were down, or maybe it was because she was the only one who really had a chance to observe him like this, but either way, it was a temporary state, which made it all the more captivating to her.

"What time is it?" he asked. "It's still looks dark outside."

"Quite early," she replied. "About eight, I think."

"Come back to bed," he mumbled over a yawn. "I would offer you a hand, but I know you'll refuse."

She nodded stubbornly. "I can do it myself."

Crawling her way closer to the bed, she gripped the nightstand and heaved herself up, grunting with the effort. She managed to keep her footing for a few seconds, but when she went to take a step she stumbled, and landed on the bed in a graceless heap.

"Well, that was dignified," said Draco drolly.

"Oh, hush. I got up, didn't I?"

"Yes, and it only took an hour."

"Don't exaggerate, it's not attractive."

"Everything I do is attractive," he quipped, and his brow furrowed as Hermione burst into a fit of giggles. She futilely attempted to smother her laughter into her hand, as she often did; her body shaking and causing her tousled curls to spill around her shoulders. "Would you like me to leave and come back when you're finished?" he asked flatly.

"Sorry," she breathed between chuckles. "It's just…I've missed this. Just bickering with you. I know that sounds odd, but I feel like things are getting back to normal."

"Normal?"

"Well…as close to normal as we'll ever be, I guess."

"Except now we're surrounded by nosy buggers who insist on being so bloody intrusive."

She eyed him curiously. "Would you have preferred we stayed in my room in Hogwarts forever?"

"No, I was bloody sick of that room," he frowned. "But at least we had some privacy. At least we were left alone."

"Well, we're alone n…" But, as if to prove Draco's point, she was cut off by three solid knocks at the door.

"For Merlin's sake," he hissed. "Fuck off!"

"Draco, stop it," she scolded. "Answer the door."

"Sodding idiots," he grumbled as he got to his feet, his movements rigid with agitation as he roughly flung open the door to glower at Tonks and the baby in her arms, clicking his tongue impatiently. "What the hell do you want?"

"Such a morning person," said Tonks sarcastically. "And would you mind watching your language in my house? Especially around Teddy."

"There's a simple solution to that; don't bother me, and you won't have to hear me saying fu-

"Draco," warned Hermione from behind him. "Tonks, is everything okay?"

"Everything's fine, I just have a couple of visitors for you," she grinned, holding Teddy up so Hermione could see. "This little guy, and this little guy."

Tonks stepped to the side and Crookshanks bounded into the room, a flash of ginger fur that darted across the floor and hopped up on to the bed, straight into Hermione's lap.

"Crooks!" she exclaimed, smiling as her faithful pet nudged his nose into her palm. "I missed you, boy."

"Brilliant," mumbled Draco. "Do you have any flea repellent?"

"No," said Tonks, stepping into the room. "But I do have some irritating tosser repellent."

"Ah, that explains why I haven't seen Potter and Weasley this morning."

Both witches shot him harsh glances, which he casually ignored. "I would just like to point out that you made that extremely easy for me."

"Prat," Tonks mumbled, approaching Hermione. "Would you like to hold Teddy?"

"Yes, please," she practically beamed, gently removing Crookshanks from her lap and adjusting herself so Teddy would settle comfortably in her arms, his small frame cradled against her and secure between her elbows. "God, he looks like you, Tonks."

"You reckon? Everyone says he looks like Remus."

"He has Lupin's eyes, but he has your nose and mouth," she mumbled thoughtfully. "Have you told Harry he's his godfather yet?"

"Remus told him last night," Tonks nodded. "Apparently he was chuffed-

"Wait a minute," Draco interrupted brashly. "Potter's the godfather? Bloody hell, Tonks, you could've given the kid some hope."

Hermione tutted and pursed her lips. "Harry will make a wonderful godfather-

"Yes, because he has such a knack for staying out of trouble. Is Weasel-bee the godmother?"

Tonks extended her arm and flicked her wrist to slap Draco's shoulder, not particularly hard, but enough to make him wince. "Do you mind keeping your eye on Teddy for a bit, Hermione?" she asked. "I have a couple of things to do, and Remus has gone to meet Kingsley."

"I'd be glad to."

"Thank you," she said, giving Draco a stern look as she turned to leave. "And you mind your language in front of the baby."

Muttering a steady string of complaints under his breath as his cousin left, his quiet words fizzled into silence when his attention was drawn back to the sobering sight of Hermione, and the small bundle in her arms. He shifted his stance, instantly feeling uncomfortable, like the gravity in their bedroom had increased and had hooked onto his stomach. His eyes flickered between her and the baby, scrutinising Hermione's awed expression and contemplating excusing himself, but she glanced up at him and grinned knowingly before he could.

"Is there a particular reason you're standing over there, shuffling your feet?"

"I was not shuffling my-

"Draco, this isn't making me broody," she assured him, her mouth almost bent in a smirk now. "I am just holding my friend's baby, so you needn't be so nervous."

He huffed indignantly and cleared the distance to the bed, dropping to sit opposite her with such force that she bounced a little. "I was not nervous," he disputed, frowning down at Crookshanks when the cat nuzzled his hand affectionately. "I was just-

"Okay fine, you weren't nervous-

"Granger, I was not ner-

"He's sweet though," she mumbled thoughtfully, running her index finger across Teddy's tiny knuckles. "Isn't he?"

Draco cleared the scratch in his throat. "If you say so."

"You don't like children?"

"What's to like? All they do is shit-

"Language, Draco-

"And eat," he went on. "And they require help to do it. Your cat has more independence and appeal."

"We were all babies once, you know," she replied. "I like them. I like that they remind you what innocence looks like."

That comment caught him off guard, and he watched her from under his lashes as she sighed and stroked the small collection of thin hairs on Teddy's crown. "I think innocence is subjective," he told her hesitantly. "To me, you are innocent."

"I don't think I am," she said after a slight pause, blinking at him, somewhere between confused and moved. "Perhaps…comparatively to other people you know."

"Perhaps," he agreed noncommittally.

"So, you don't want children?" she asked, and he couldn't tell if she rushed the question out to beat an awkward silence, or if she was anxious about asking.

"Wanting them was never really an issue," he confessed. "It was just always assumed and necessary that I have them; carry on the Malfoy line and all that." He paused and clicked his jaw. "I don't have that responsibility anymore."

Hermione's heart plunged down to her stomach as she watched the change in Draco's demeanour. Perhaps if she had not come to learn the telling subtleties of his expression and stance, she wouldn't have noticed, but she could see his disappointment and dejection in the lowering of his eyelids and the tightening of his fists. Even Crookshanks seemed to sense it, resting his front paws against Draco's knee and meowing quietly.

"Do you miss them?" she blurted clumsily. "Your parents, I mean."

Draco averted his gaze. "Granger-

"I'm not asking to use it against you, Draco-

"I know that."

"I'm asking because…well, I'll admit I am a bit curious, but also because I care," she explained gently. "You never talk about them."

He sighed and lifted his hand to comb his fingers through his hair, licking his teeth with thought as he regarded her. "'Miss' isn't the right word," he started reluctantly. "I'm used to spending long periods of time away from them. Well, we all are-

"But you haven't seen them in over a year, Draco."

"A few months and a year don't feel that different really," he shrugged. "No, I don't miss them. I am more…concerned for my mother's well-being than anything else. I know she seems cold and hard, but she's not designed for the life she's being forced into now. She's not a killer. And you did say she tried to help you."

"She did."

"You see, she's not one of them really. She just…she's doing what she has to in order to survive."

Hermione hesitantly parted her lips. "And…your father?"

"My father," he echoed tiredly, releasing a short, humourless chuckle as he rubbed his chin. "I have no idea. To be honest, it varies everyday, but it's irrelevant. He won't want anything to do with me once he finds out about us, and when I think of all the shit he's put my mother and I through…Let's just say I'm prepared for whatever. I doubt he could surprise me with anything anymore."

"You know, your parents might not disown you, Draco-

"My mother might not, but my father definitely will," he stated confidently.

She worried her bottom lip between her teeth. "Do you resent me for that?"

"What?" he frowned, his eyebrows knitting together. "Granger-

"No, just hear me out on this," she interrupted. "I know you don't think how you used to, and that's a good thing, but…I know it's difficult for you. I mean, no matter how much I might not understand, you did have certain expectations of your life before all this, and…well, I assume they're different now?"

"Of course they are," he snapped. "Why would I resent you for that?"

"Because I-

"Do you resent me for anything?" he questioned quickly. "For putting a strain on your relationship with Potter and Weasley? And your other friends for that matter. Or for Bellatrix torturing you? Or for-

"No, of course not," she hushed him. "You know I don't."

"Why not?"

"Well," she started uncertainly. "Because I was aware that these things would happen, but I made the decision to be with you anyway. I knew that certain members of your family hate me and might hurt me in this war, and I knew that Ron and Harry would have trouble accepting us. I wouldn't resent you for a choice that I made."

He nodded his head once. "Exactly."

"But they're your parents, Draco," she stressed. "It's a little different. They're your family. Your blood."

"Blood has caused us enough problems," he muttered behind his teeth, but he could tell she'd heard him. "Granger, just rest assured that my decision has been made, and I have no desire or intention to change it. We will deal with my parents when we have to. Can we change the subject now?"

She pulled in a long breath like she intended to argue, but her shoulders relaxed as she exhaled, and she tilted her head with acceptance. "Okay," she said, her attention diverted as Teddy made a small noise. She looked back to Draco with the ghost of a mischievous smile tugging at her lips. "Would you like to hold the baby?"

He choked on his indignation. "Absolutely not."

"Why not? He is your cousin, and-

"Second cousin."

"Technically, he's your first cousin once removed," she corrected. "And that still has 'cousin' in the title."

"That's beside the point, I'm not holding him," he shook his head firmly. "Aside from the fact that Tonks would beat me to death with a rusty shovel if I dropped him, I don't want to."

"You're not going to drop him. And even if you did, we're on the bed-

"Granger-

"If you hold him, I'll make you a hot chocolate," she offered with a grin. "With cream."

"That's a weak bribe," he scoffed. "I am perfectly capable of making my own drinks-

"Oh, come on, you know you love the hot chocolates I make."

"I know no such thing," he retorted, eyeing her inquisitively. "Why are you so determined to get me to hold him?"

Hermione's smile fell for a moment, and she contemplated telling him that it was because she thought family was important; that even if his parents had disowned him, he still had other blood relatives that he could turn to. She thought about telling him that she had a feeling Andromeda, Tonks, and Teddy might become more significant to him than he could possibly foresee at this point in time, and that she wanted him to have more than her and his friends on the Light side. That even though blood might not be thicker than their water, it helped to keep the heart beating.

"My arms are getting a bit tired," she told him instead. "And plus, I…I guess it would be interesting to watch."

He hummed under his breath, evidently unconvinced by her reasoning. "If you let me take the piss out of Weasel-bee and Potter for a day without making faces or complaining, then you have a deal."

"There's no chance I would agree to that-

"Half a day."

"Draco-

"Fine, fine," he groused. "Honestly, you have no sense of humour. Fine, one hot chocolate-

"Okay-

"Every morning, until I get sick of them," he finished with a smug tilt of his chin. "Deal?"

"Deal," she echoed, quicker than he'd expected. "Right, settle your arms in your lap like mine."

Releasing a perturbed breath that disturbed his fringe and already regretting this, he mimicked the angles of her arms. "Like this?"

"That's fine," she said, leaning forward to carefully transfer the baby into his hold. "That's good, just mind his head. There you go."

Draco adjusted his elbows and hands to accommodate Teddy's small frame, alternating his position until he managed to find a semi-comfortable spot with the baby's head nestled into the curve of his arm. Teddy made a few quiet sounds of discomfort and fidgeted a little before he calmed, staring up at Draco with a wide gaze for one long moment, but then they fell shut, and Draco felt some of his qualms dissipate as the baby yawned with what seemed to be contentment.

"See," said Hermione as Crookshanks crawled into her lap. "It's not so bad, is it?"

He raised his cynical eyes to her and grunted. "If he gives any indication that he's going to shit or vomit, I'm pointing him in your direction."

"And they say chivalry's dead."

He regretted his next question before it even found him. "I presume you want children then?"

"Not for a while," she replied, more for his benefit than hers. "But someday. Maybe two, I think. I always wanted a sibling, so I think I'd like more than one."

He frowned with unease, intending to change the topic to something a little less profound, but Teddy's small fingers coiled around his thumb with a grip that felt very real, and he looked back down at the slumbering child with a peculiar sense of incredulity.

"He has no idea there's a war going on," said Draco vacantly. "Does he?"

When his eyes returned to Hermione, he couldn't decide if she looked hopeful or hopeless.

"No, he has no idea."

"Lucky him."

"Yes," she nodded blankly. "Lucky him."

.

.

Draco managed to stifle the telling look of affection that almost stole his features. The way Hermione's nose wrinkled as she laughed at something Blaise had said was undeniably charming, but he was too aware of the others in the room; Blaise, Lovegood, and Theo. Instead, he rested his arm against the back of her chair, giving her shoulders a secret stroke as he did so.

"It was simply a cooking experiment," Luna said passively. "I wasn't aware that mixing Lavender root and Valerian would react with the cake ingredients in such an…interesting way."

"Oh fuck, I remember those cakes," Theo nodded. "Yeah, they made the room spin, and all I saw was bright colours for five hours."

"At least you weren't sick on the carpet," Blaise muttered, rising from his seat. "Do you want another coffee, Luna?"

"I'll have a herbal tea please."

"Blaise," said Draco. "Make me a coffee while you're up."

"Do I look like your House-elf? Make it yourself."

"Prick," he mumbled half-heartedly, also getting to his feet. "Do you want anything, Granger?"

"No, I'm fine, thank you. I haven't finished this."

Theo sniggered and rolled his eyes. "I might have another tea. Do you want…Oh wait, no. I don't have anyone to ask."

Luna moved her lazy eyes over to him. "Was that a hint that you're uncomfortable with being the metaphorical fifth wheel, Theo?"

"On the contrary, Lovegood," he said quickly. Hermione thought perhaps too quickly. "I prefer being by myself. Although, if I was going to burden myself with a girlfriend-

"Burden yourself?" Hermione repeated, taking a slow sip of her tea. "Isn't that a tad pessimistic?"

"Yeah, hello, my name is Theo and I'm a Slytherin," he quipped. "As I was saying, if I was going to have a girlfriend, apparently goody girls from the boring Houses are in fashion-

"Goody girls from the boring Houses? Excuse me, but-

"You know, you interrupt people a lot," he remarked drolly. "Yes, goody girls from the boring Houses. I stand by that description. Which brings me to my point actually. I don't suppose you know if the Patil twins are currently single and partial to some kinky shit, Granger?"

Hermione coughed mid-swallow, sputtering and choking up her tea and trying to shield it behind her hands. Through the haze of her watering eyes, she saw Draco come up behind Theo and smack the upside of his head with the flat of his palm, and the urge to laugh only made her choking worse, especially when Theo flinched like a reprimanded child. She felt Draco's hand on her back then, rubbing slow and soothing circles between her shoulder blades and easing away the stress in her throat.

"You alright?"

"I'm okay, I'm okay," she breathed once it had diminished, giving Draco a grateful smile. "Sorry, that just caught me off guard."

Draco grinned down at her, his eyes almost soft with amusement, and Hermione lost herself in the surreality of his calm expression for a moment. She wondered if he was even aware how different his features acted when he was in the company of people he evidently felt quite comfortable with, and she thought she felt something as she studied him; a little spark of heat in the numb spot beneath her stomach, but before she could give it any mind, the kitchen door opened, and in walked Harry.

The change in the room's atmosphere was immediate, and her smile faded as she watched her best friend hesitate by the doorframe, his face uncertain and perhaps even a bit nervous. His eyes narrowed behind his spectacles, warily shifting between Theo, Blaise and Draco, and Hermione felt Draco's hand press firmer against her back.

"Hello, Harry," Luna broke the silence, seemingly oblivious to the tension between the four young wizards. "Would you like something to eat? I can warm up the soup Tonks made?"

"I'm fine, Luna, thank you," he replied, turning to Hermione. "I need to talk to you. In private."

"Yes, of course," she said. "You'll have to help me walk though."

He nodded and made his way towards her, and she noticed he kept his eyes down, refusing to acknowledge the Slytherin boys as he helped her to her feet and began to carefully lead her out the room. Draco kept his eyes fixed on the pair of retreating forms, noting absently that Hermione's balance had definitely improved, and waiting until Potter had closed the door behind him until he dropped into a chair and grunted with distaste.

"I guess you'd better get used to Potter and Weasley pissing on your parade," commented Theo.

"He's such a dickhead," mumbled Draco. "Honestly, he probably wants Granger to help tie his shoelaces, or it's something just as insignificant and he asked her to go with him just to prove a point."

"I think their friendship is lovely," Luna said suddenly, and her three companions shot her baffled looks. "They're like brother and sister and they've been through a lot together. You rarely see friendships like that really, when you think about it." She rose from her seat and brushed away the toast crumbs in her lap. "I think I'll go and help Tonks with the laundry."

Blaise made to follow her. "I'll give you a hand."

"You know," said Draco, after the door had clicked shut behind Blaise, leaving Theo and himself alone in the kitchen. "I never thought Blaise would become so…attached to a girl. He's like a clingy pet."

"And you're so much better?"

"I'm not that bloody bad."

"You're not far off," he muttered, but then Theo's features seemed to wilt, and he almost appeared upset. "It must be pretty…decent for you two though; to have someone like that."

Draco couldn't help but gawp at his friend. "What the hell are you on about?"

"You know what I mean," he sighed. "If You-Know-Who wins this war, then we'll all be killed anyway, and it won't matter. But if we win, then people are hardly just going to accept us straight away with our Death Eater parents and the things we did before. At least you and Blaise and have someone who will give a shit about you. At least you won't be alone."

Draco's brow furrowed as he rolled those words around in his head, watching Theo's shoulders slump and hands clasp tightly together.

"You won't be alone," he offered, somewhat uncomfortably. "You know, I might need you around to help me come up with new names for Potter and Weasley."

Theo smirked. "You mean one-wank-Weasley and pity-whore-Potter?"

"Exactly."

.

.

In the rare moments Hermione stopped fretting about the war, it always seemed to sneak up on her with a new threat, and she wondered if she should feel guilty for letting it occasionally slip into the dormant part of her brain.

She sat on her bed, testing the wand's weight in her hands and trying to ignore the uneasy twitch in her gut. She could practically feel it resisting her; the residual Dark magic scalding her fingertips as she timidly fiddled with it and ran her thumb along its edge. Ollivander's earlier words for it rang in her ears.

Unyielding.

She couldn't help but think of all the people who had suffered or been killed by the will of this wand; Sirius, Frank and Alice Longbottom, Dobby, herself, and Merlin knew how many others. She hated the thought of using it, but it had been the most logical option, and she'd opted herself to become its new owner. Both Harry and Ollivander had agreed that with her magical capabilities and proficiency in spells, she was the most likely candidate who would be able to harness its powers effectively. And if Harry could use Pettigrew's wand, the man who had betrayed his parents, then she could certainly learn to adapt to using Bellatrix's 12¾ inches of walnut with a dragon heartstring core.

According to Harry, Ron had managed to disarm Fenir at the Manor, and presumed he still had that wand, assuring Hermione he'd ask once Ron was willing to speak to him again. They'd tried knocking on his door and found it locked, which had at least confirmed Ron was using someone's wand.

After sitting in a room for an hour with the fragile and frail wandmaker, and listening to him describe the properties of Pettigrew's and Belletraix's wands and possible methods that might make handling them easier, Hermione had assumed little else would be discussed. But then Harry had raised the topic of the Elder Wand; had revealed that he'd had a vision, in which Voldemort had acquired it, and Hermione's head still felt a little dizzy from that revelation.

Harry had then helped her back to her bedroom and they'd spent a few more hours discussing the ramifications of Voldemort possessing the Elder Wand, sorting through Hermione's eighty or so books and trying to separate the ones that were likely to include any details about the elusive artefact.

With a pile of thirteen books set aside, which Hermione had organised in order of relevance and reliability, she'd promised Harry she would read through them and see what she could find, but had warned him not get his hopes up, fearing that the majority of the context would be based on rumours and folklore. Having already read up on the Deathly Hallows during their stay in the Forest of Dean, she knew that there was little to work with, and almost all of her findings would consist of hearsay. After searching three books for anything significant and finding nothing, she'd decided it might be more beneficial to try some simple spells with Bellatrix's wand, just to ease her into the habit of using it.

That was where she found herself now; anxiously twisting it between her thumbs and fingers and considering an Accio to get started, but the bedroom door opened before she could begin, and she literally felt Draco's outrage as he took her in, toying with a wand he would easily recognise.

"What the fuck are you doing with that?" he demanded harshly. "That'd better not be-

"Bellatrix's wand," she finished for him. "Yes, it is."

"Why the hell do you have that thing?"

"Harry and Ron disarmed Bellatrix," she explained, exhaling slowly before she went on. "And I'm going to be using it now."

Draco felt his eyes bulge of their own accord, and a vein in his throat throbbed as his anger rose into his mouth. "You are NOT using that wand!"

Her features creased up with offence. "I wasn't asking for your bloody permission-

"Do you have any fucking idea how many people have been killed and tortured by that thing?" he ranted. "Probably hundreds between this war and the last!"

"I'm aware of that!" she retorted. "But wands don't kill and torture, Draco, people do,"

"It's not that simple and you know it! Wands chose their owners, remember? That thing is evil and you will not be able to control it-

"Yes, I will!"

"Aside from the fact that you're a Muggle-born and the wand will sense that, you are too good for it!" he shouted furiously. "It will do everything it can to work against you-

"There is no other option!" she yelled back at him. "Our wands were taken by the Snatchers and Tonks doesn't have any spares. We have to work with what is available to us-

"So this was Potter's idea?"

"No, it was mine!"

"And whose wand is he using?" he asked curtly. "Rudolfus' I suppose? Or my father's?"

"No, he's using Pettigrew's wand," she replied steadily. "And I can assure you that it is far more difficult for him than it is for me. But, as I said, we have to work with what is available to us-

"This is fucking ridiculous," he mumbled, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands, and raking his fingers back through his hair. "Why aren't you listening to me? You are completely underestimating how evil that thing is-

"Or perhaps you're underestimating me and my abilities," she fired back. "I know I can do this, so stop it! I have already made up my mind-

"For Merlin's sake, Granger, why do you have to be so sodding stubborn?"

"I'm being stubborn?" she repeated incredulously. "You're the one who won't let this drop-

"You can use my wand," he blurted, and it was almost a plea. "Just use mine."

Hermione stilled, momentarily struck speechless by how easily he offered his most precious item as a wizard to her. "You know that's not a suitable option," she murmured.

"Why not?"

"Because then you wouldn't have a wand-

"We could share-

"But why should we share when there is this wand to use? And you know, I felt your wand resist me when I used it yesterday," she told him, noticing his expression turned slightly troubled with that comment. "If you would be using it too, then it would take even longer for it to become accustomed to me. It makes more sense that I use this wand, and you know it."

Draco clenched his eyes shut, grinding his teeth. "I'm not going to be able to talk you out of this, am I?"

"No."

"You can be such a pain in the arse sometimes, Granger," he grumbled, but the irritation in his tone had simmered. "You really can."

She smiled a little. "I know."

Suddenly feeling quite exhausted, Draco sat himself on the bed, hunching forward and perching his elbows atop his knees. He was just considering listing several more reasons why his suggestion might be appropriate, but he felt her fingers reach out and absently stroke across the dents of his wrist, and his objection withered before he had a chance to voice it.

"I know it's hardly convenient," she spoke softly. "But nothing is ever convenient during times of war."

Draco's lips twitched. "Then I guess...Well, at least let me help you with it," he said reluctantly. "I've seen her use it, and I know its character. I might be able to give you some advice on it, or something."

"I would appreciate that," she agreed quickly, leaning forward so she could peck the barely-there dimple at the corner of his mouth. "Thank you, Draco."

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