Fanfic: A Raven In King’s Cross Station by daydreamstory (Free to read, 564,411Clicks)

Description:

There was an echo in Diagon Alley.A raven in King’s Cross Station.A leaky pipe in the girl’s lavatory.A hole in her favorite sweater.

Characters:

Creator Chose Not To Use Archive WarningsHermione Granger/Draco MalfoyHermione Granger Draco Malfoy Harry Potter Ron Weasley Ginny Weasley Blaise Zabini Theodore Nott Pansy Parkinson Luna Lovegood Neville Longbottom Remus Lupin Narcissa Black MalfoyHogwarts Sixth Year Canon Divergence Alternative Timeline Hogwarts Era Slow Burn Like Actually Super Slow

Summary:

Summary:

There was an echo in Diagon Alley.A raven in King’s Cross Station.A leaky pipe in the girl’s lavatory.A hole in her favorite sweater. There was an apple in the vanishing cabinet.A book at her bedside.A portkey in his handkerchief.A falling star in the sky. There was a price to be paid.A soul torn to pieces.There was a boy who loved a girl.There was a girl who loved him too.

Chapter 1: An Echo in Diagon Alley

Chapter Text
There was an echo in Diagon Alley.  Hermione noticed it from the moment she arrived in the Floo at the Leaky, how even the smallest sounds were amplified in the eerie silence of the nearly deserted street, no bustling crowds of families and first years to drown them out.Lazy steps sent scuffs across the cobblestone. Hearts beat hard and heavy. Breaths ran short and shallow. And she could hear it all.Alone in a place she could hardly recognize, she whispered to herself ––  I’m alright. I’m alright. I’m alright –– and the hard sounds of her words ricocheted off of the crumbling brick around her as if spoken by a stranger. Her chest ached, full of worry and doubt and fear. Her throat burned, full of questions that had no answers, of whats and whens and whos and hows. Because she’d read the articles in the Prophet, heard the stories from the people who had been there that day –– of Death Eaters appearing in clouds of black smoke and firing blind into a crowd of innocents –– but still she couldn’t seem to understand.Diagon Alley was only a shell of what it once had been, shops left broken and boarded up and mottled with evidence of dark magic. Fortescue’s, the Magical Menagerie, even Flourish and Blotts were all abandoned, their windows covered in cheap Ministry posters, black ink practically invisible against deep purple parchment.  
WANTED: INFORMATION RELATED TO THE RESURGENCE OF INTERNATIONAL BLOOD SUPREMACY GROUPS.
 
BE WARNED, KNOWN CRIMINAL BELLATRIX LESTRANGE STILL AT LARGE!
 
PROTECT YOU AND YOURS –– CHECK YOUR WARDS.
 
STAY ALERT, STAY ALIVE. 
 The last poster had a particularly infuriating image of Fudge on it, smiling and winking and brandishing his wand over and over again as if things were really so simple. As if a single spell could protect them from what was to come. As if they weren’t reliving history, on the brink of another war. Hermione scoffed and turned up her chin. It was all she could do not to cry. Tears sparked by anger at the incompetence of the Ministry and fueled by sadness as she stood in front of Olivander’s –– glass blown out of the windows and door torn from its hinges. The old shop looked an awful lot like she felt. The shelves were bare, hundreds of wands crafted over generations with care and intention taken and redistributed and destroyed. Black spidery marks covered the walls from unforgivables long since cast, dried blood speckled across the floor from defensive spells fallen short. Hermione had been home and safe and blissfully unaware at the time of the attacks, but the evidence left behind was so telling, so true , that it felt like she’d been there all the same. She felt their shock, their pain, their desperation and hopelessness and fear.She felt their loss. Because the Death Eaters had managed to take something from her that day too, despite her absence –– her fondest memory torn from her hands and turned it to dust beneath the rubble of the old wand shop. A memory of the first time she’d conjured real magic, standing only as tall as the countertop in brand new robes, her father and mother watching as a galaxy full of stars lept from the tip of the first wand she’d ever held. A memory of the first time she’d known who she was with absolute certainty. A witch. A powerful one, Olivander had whispered to her as if it were a secret for only the two of them to share. She wondered what kind of dark magic it took to do something like that to a place –– not only to shatter glass and splinter wood but to strip it of the memories and feelings and history it held until it was truly empty .
Vine wood with a dragon heartstring core. 
Hermione gripped her wand tightly inside of her robes, running her fingers over the carved leaves and vines as if those black clouds of smoke would show up at any moment to take that from her too.  I’m alright. She whispered, scuffed her boots against the ground, counted two heartbeats, took a deep breath. I’m alright. “Sad, isn’t it?” Ginny spoke softly behind her, coming to rest her head on Hermione’s shoulder with a heavy exhale. “Yes,” Hermione swallowed the stone that seemed to have settled in her throat, suddenly aware that sad was nowhere near enough to describe the way she was feeling. “Do you reckon he’s alright, Olivander?”  Injured. Captured. Killed. The possibilities flickered across her mind like old film negatives, shadows where light should have been, and she wondered why she’d asked the question at all. “I hope so.” Ginny answered earnestly, but doubt bled through all the same. It seemed like that was all that anyone had to offer anymore, poorly disguised lies and placating tones. “Mum says he might have made it out in time, you know? That he’s just in hiding. I’d like to believe that’s true.” Hermione would have liked to believe it too, but she was hesitant to allow herself such hope. She’d heard the whispers amongst the Order, most members speaking vaguely of their concerns about the old wandmaker. Professor Lupin, on the other hand, had always spoken quite candidly with her.  Sometimes it’s better Hermione, he warned, to be confirmed dead than presumed missing.  And she hated the idea of it, that in any world certain death was considered better, but then she remembered that Remus had lived through this before, had thought the people he loved lost, had watched them die. She couldn’t imagine what she would do, how she would feel if she lost someone so precious. Her parents. Molly and Arthur. Ginny. Ron. Harry. “You coming, ‘mione?” A voice from across the street interrupted her spiraling thoughts, anchoring her in reality as she turned to find Ron and Harry standing a few meters away with slouched shoulders and messy hair.The red haired boy spoke again, “We’re headed to Madame Malkin’s to look at robes. Unfortunate turn of events, really, but Mum’s insisting I get new ones.”“That’s because the ones you’re wearing are showing your ankles, Ron.” Ginny pointed out, a small smile on her face. “I’m willing to bet those belonged to Percy during his first year.”Ron’s face twisted up at the insinuation and Hermione bit back a grin. It felt wrong on her face, like laughter at a funeral. Only, Harry had never been one for time and place . He laughed without a moment’s hesitation. “You know I do think I saw Percy’s initials on the tags the other day, mate. Let me just ––” Ron ducked quickly out of Harry’s reach, and the look of genuine offense on his face forced a laugh from her throat, the rusty sound combining with that of her friends to light the dreary street. “Oh yeah, have a laugh why don’t you.” Ron mumbled, straightening out his collar with uncharacteristic precision. “In the meantime, me and my ankles will be on our way.” “My ankles and I…” Hermione mumbled compulsively as he stormed off toward the faded facade of Madam Malkin’s.“S’pose you both should go after him,” Ginny nodded in Ron’s direction as he snatched the tag from the seam of his robes and crumpled it in his hand. “Fragile ego, that one.”“No doubt,” Harry murmured, a familiar sort of affection in his tone, at the same time Hermione grabbed her friends hand –– “You won’t come with us?” Ginny threaded her fingers through Hermione’s, squeezing twice. “I’ve promised Dean I’d meet him at the Leaky for lunch, remember? You know, just to catch up.”Of course she remembered. It’d been a summer full of sleepovers at the Burrow, and any moment she hadn’t spent eavesdropping on Order meetings had been reserved for hushed voices and hand woven blankets and piles of letters in Dean’s slanted scrawl scattered across the floor of Ginny’s room. She could see the flush on her friend’s freckled cheeks, the smile in her eyes. And Hermione supposed people deserved things like this, little bits of happiness, even when everything else was uncertain. Especially then. Her heart warmed, then clenched in her chest. “Of course, Gin. Have a good time, okay?” Hermione placed a quick kiss her on her cheek, moving to stand beside a notably quiet Harry instead. She jabbed her elbow into his side when he failed to offer up a single word in response to Ginny, widening her eyes at him in a way that was neither discreet nor up for interpretation. “Erm –– yeah, yeah have a nice time. With Dean, that is. A nice time with Dean.” “Well then,” Hermione couldn’t tell who was blushing more, Ginny or Harry. “We’ll just be off. Tell Dean I said hello, would you?”And Harry tripped over his feet as she dragged him by his sleeve, far enough away from Ginny’s retreating form before she turned to face him, grabbing both of his shoulders and shaking. “Really, Harry? You’re so –– could you be more obvious?” She watched as the flush in his cheeks faded, a tiny smirk growing across his face. “Yes, I suppose I could be.” He deadpanned, no evidence of the stuttering and stumbling in his speech that had been there before. Hermione rolled her eyes at him, unable to stop herself from launching into a lecture. “Well I’d advise against it. It only makes you look bitter. She really likes him, you know? So you’ve got to get over it before we all go back to school… Especially in front of Ron. He’ll hate it, if he figures out.” “Hermione, I hardly think he’s observant enough to––” “What about me?” The red haired boy appeared from a small alcove just beside Madam Malkin’s, looking chuffed to have heard his name amongst their private conversation.Hermione blanched. Harry took over with ease.“Still discussing your robes, mate.” He said with a straight face, eyeing Ron’s frowning figure. “Tragic, really.” “Oh, are they?” Ron’s annoyance turned to laughter, wrapping an arm around Harry’s head and dragging it down to muss up his hair with a clenched fist, “I’ll show you tragic.” And as her two best friends pushed and shoved and threw fake punches in the street, Hermione watched on with a smile on her face. Because this was her own little bit of happiness, despite all the rest. Because this was the one thing, she knew, that no amount of dark magic could ever take from her.  *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-* A few moments later, Hermione stood alone in the dimly lit robes shop, surrounded by silence and the musty smell of steamed fabric. Harry and Ron had wandered off on their own under strict supervision of Madam Malkin herself, who had taken personal offense to the state of the boys’ current robes. She smiled to herself at the sound of them in the back of the shop, grumbling about the occasional needle stick while having their inseams measured.  Wool, linen, cashmere, silk. She ran and absentminded hand along a rack full of robes far too nice for a school-aged girl, gawking at the price tag of one set before moving on to the next. One hundred galleons. Five hundred. One thousand. Hermione fingered over the coins in her pocket, looked at her reflection in the mirror. She’d do best to stick with her robes from last year anyway. Because even though she’d managed to gain a few inches in height over the last year, everything else about her was rather the same. No evidence of the curves she thought would come with sixteen, prayed would come with seventeen. No, her figure was as straight up and down as it’d ever been, as plain and as boxy. Even the charmed mirror in front of her couldn’t refute that. As she stared into it, spinning a rogue curl around her finger and back into place, a message began to appear just above her head one letter at a time. Part of her wanted to scream as it finished. The other part wanted to cry. 
An imbalance of beauty and brains. 
“As if they’re mutually exclusive.” She grumbled, pulling her clothing tighter around her hips, her bust. She turned to face one side, the other, “I’d rather be the ugliest witch alive than ––” “Be careful what you wish for, Granger.” Her heart stuttered in her chest at the sudden sound behind her, her neck and ears burning as she placed the voice. She dropped her hands from her chest in a panic. Smoothing down the fabric frantically as a shadowy figure appeared in the mirror behind her, body profiled by the light pouring in from the windows of the shop.The hair, the robes, the regal posture. It was unmistakably him . Hermione whipped around to face the sudden arrival and found the woman to his right only confirmed her suspicions, the stark contrast of black and platinum hair so uniquely Malfoy.  And it was a long, silent moment before the boy acknowledged her again, frozen in place and staring. Draco sneered, “The ugliest witch alive and a mudblood? How unfortunate that would be for you.” Hermione let out a sardonic sort of laugh, remembering a time where that word would have cut and bled and burned. How unoriginal he was. Mudblood.  Really, it was ‘ugly’ that managed to seep through the cracks in her time toughened armor. Because she already knew her blood status didn’t make her any less a witch. She’d proved that when she beat him for top marks second year. And third. And fourth. What she didn’t know was if the mirror was right, if she would ever be noticed the way that girls like Fleur and Cho and Pansy Parkinson were. If she even wanted that in the first place. A little part of her hurt, but she was determined not to show it. And she watched as her passive expression was mirrored on Draco’s mother’s face, despite her son’s crude words. Observant, looking Hermione up and down with silvery gray eyes that were nothing like the crazed ones of her sister, Bellatrix. She opened the silver clasp at the top of her robes, revealing a sleek set of emerald and black underneath.
One hundred galleons. Five hundred. One thousand. 
No one had ever called Narcissa Malfoy ‘ugly’ , Hermione was certain. Not ever. “A friend from school, Draco?” Narcissa asked, her words as smooth as her perfectly styled hair. She wrapped her arm through her son’s, unbothered by his lack of response. “Be a gentleman then and introduce us.” He whipped his head toward his mother as if to judge her intentions, but she simply looked back at him, expectation clear in the way her perfectly manicured fingers gripped his sleeve. And it was such a strange thing, watching the pair interact. Oddly humanizing in its simplicity. Hermione could see the way they spoke through some invisible bond. His eyes questioning, hers challenging. His lip drew up before he finally spoke, tone icy.“Mother this is Hermione Granger,” he mumbled, eyes downcast again. “Granger this is my mother, Narcissa Malfoy.” Hermione fought to school her expression, grateful he hadn’t had the decency to meet her eyes as he spoke. She thought that might have been the first time Malfoy had ever said her name, her real name, and it was strange to hear the way it sounded coming from him. His voice was deeper than she remembered, vowels molded differently in his posh accent as if he were speaking a foreign language.  “Oh yes, Miss Granger.” Narcissa held out her left hand, adorned with an emerald on her pointer finger, an enormous diamond on her ring finger. “It’s lovely to meet you.”Hermione froze.“You don’t want to touch her, mother.” Draco spat under his breath as if Hermione couldn’t hear him, but Narcissa left her hand extended all the same. Hermione took it carefully in her own, her voice shaking. “Yes –– yes, it’s lovely to meet you too.” The way Narcissa squeezed her hand was almost motherly in it’s warmth, her skin contrasting sharply with Hermione’s own, white against warm brown. Hermione fought to hide the way her hand shook as she lowered it back to her side. “I’ve heard quite a lot about you over the years, you know?” The older witch hummed, “My Draco says you’re quite sharp. Always beating him for highest marks.”Hermione saw Draco widen his eyes at this, silently berating his mother for betraying a secret or embellishing a truth. She wasn’t sure which it was.“Oh, I don’t know about that…” Hermione could feel the way her cheeks burned at the insinuation. Not that her marks were better than his, she knew that was true, but that Draco had ever admitted it aloud. It was a ridiculous thing to consider, that Malfoy would ever speak about her to his mother… And if he did, how many horrible comments had he made to make up for that single decent one?About Hermione’s frizzy hair and buck teeth and short temper, the punch she’d thrown at him on school grounds, her dirty blood… “And humble too.” Narcissa smiled down at her, something genuine in her features. “May I offer you some advice? From one witch to another.”Hermione nodded, unable to find her words.“Mother…” Draco hissed, a silent stop it right now , in his glare. Narcissa swatted him away like he was no more than a pixie buzzing by her ear.“Humility is a poison, Miss Granger, that men have so conveniently disguised as a virtue. Spit it out. Pride will suit you much better, I should think.”Hermione fought hard to keep her jaw from dropping to the floor. Narcissa Malfoy, a feminist? She wondered if the pureblood witch even knew of the non-magical movement, if she’d read the works of Virginia Woolf or Simone de Beauvoir. Surely not, but then again…“And don’t believe a thing that mirror says. Understand?” The older witch left a trail of patchouli and lavender behind as she brushed past Hermione to stand in front of her own enchanted reflection, running a spindly finger across the dusty mirror’s frame. “It’s an outdated piece of magic designed to insult anyone not wearing Ms. Malkin’s robes.” Her face remained unchanged as the letters and words rearranged to read ––  Familial ties become puppet strings. Behind her, Hermione could have sworn she saw Draco wince, his hands fisting, then slowly opening at his side. “Terribly unoriginal.” Narcissa muttered, lips pursed. “Yes well I believe that’s enough of your charity work for one day, mother.” Draco cleared his throat, “If you don’t mind Granger , we’ll carry on with our mudblood-free afternoon.” Still silenced by shock, she moved to step out of their way, stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder, heard a familiar voice behind her back. “Showing off your big boy words in front of your mother, Malfoy?” Harry sneered, stepping past her as if he were some sort of human shield, as if she needed shielding. “At least I’ve got a mother, Potter .” Draco spat, raising a brow as Harry instinctively grabbed for his wand. “Oh for Merlin’s sake…” She whispered, pushing his wand arm back down to his side. Lay low , that’s what Lupin had told them before they left the Burrow. “It’s not worth a fight Harry, really. Let’s just go. Please.”Harry roughly pried Hermione’s hand off of his own, her knuckles rolling over one another under his grip. “No, Hermione. He can’t just go around calling people mudbloods. You of all people should ––”“Dumbledore’s favorite student has a temper, I see.” Narcissa cut in suddenly from beside her son, her voice colder than it had been before but no less certain. “Perhaps you should be more careful, Mister Potter, where you put your hands and where you point your wand.”Harry loosened his grip on her hand as if he’d only just realized he was still holding it, both of their fingers filling with color again. His eyes went wide, seeking out hers in a silent apology. “Mummy to the rescue, Malfoy?” Ron spoke up, clearly having missed (read: ignored) Hermione’s glare that warned him to stay out of it. “What’s she going to do, huh? Send your Death Eater daddy after us too? I’m sure you could find a way to break him out of Azkaban for the occasion.”There was a horrible sort of silence in the room then, his words ringing and ringing and ringing. “Ron, you can’t just say things like that ––” Hermione scolded, her face flushing before her own voice was overtaken by Draco’s. “Don’t ever speak to my mother that way, Weasley.” He spat, “Just because you’ve no respect for your own ––” “Oh, enough. ” Hermione said, a bit louder than she’d intended, her chest rising and falling with quick breaths. She thought she might have seen Narcissa smile at that, the tiniest tip at the corner of the older witch’s painted lips. “You both need to leave, now.” She spoke to Ron and Harry with a voice that rivaled even Molly Weasley’s scolding. “And you ,” She turned back to Draco, “You insist upon respect? Then maybe you shouldn’t use such foul language in front of your own mother.” Harry and Ron left. Draco paled. Hermione turned on her heel before he could even respond, jostling the bell over the door as she hurried down the steps, her steps quick and angry against the paved road.  The boys waited for her a few paces away with arms crossed and wands still in hand.“Don’t––” she held up a hand to cut Harry off as she got closer, noticing his mouth open in preparation for what was surely a lecture. “I don’t want to hear it.” “Well don’t be angry,” Harry sighed, scuffing the heel of his shoes on the ground, hesitation showing through his aggravation. “We were just looking out for you, ‘mione.”“That doesn’t mean you can just pull out your wand. With the way things are right now… Especially not with the Malfoys. Honestly Harry, I don’t know what you were thinking…“And you too, for Merlin’s sake.” She looked to Ron, his face growing more and more red. “Neither of you know when to keep your mouths shut . Things were perfectly civil before…” “Perfectly civil? Really, ‘mione?” Ron scoffed, “He was stood there proud as ever calling you a… calling you that . Explain to me how ––” “Oh he is harmless and you know it,” Hermione spat back, indignant. “Like father like son,” Harry mumbled under his breath.Hermione turned on him, anger sparking gold at the ends of her hair. “Speak up then, if you’ve something to say.”He hesitated, opening his mouth and closing it again. “He’s probably a Death Eater himself now, you know? Draco. It wouldn’t be such a surprise.” Hermione sucked in a breath. Even Ron looked surprised to hear the accusation, his defensive stance melting away into a confused one instead.“Oh, Harry really? You can’t be serious.” She hissed, voice low. “You’re defending him now? Must’ve been that civil conversation that changed your mind then. What’d he only call you a Mudblood once, twice?” His eyes burned, darting back and forth between Hermione’s as he waited for the answer she would not give. You’re no better . She wanted to say. You’ve said it just as many times as he did, Harry. Only it’s worse from you.  “He wants you dead . His mother wants you dead . And you’re standing here trying to convince me that he means you no harm? For someone so smart, you can be bloody daft sometimes Hermione.”Another horrible silence. Ringing. She could feel the tears she’d held back earlier in the day resurfacing, the backs of her eyes burning with a saline mixture of anger and frustration and hurt. And she couldn’t quite see them yet, but they were surrounding her on every side. Those black shadows. Taunting. Proving that they could. They could take this from her too. Harry noticed the way her eyes watered and reached out to hold the top of her arm, his voice softening. “Hermione, I didn’t mean ––”“I know.” She’d heard enough of Harry’s apologies to predict what was coming. The regret, the excuses, the eventual ‘but’ . It’d been too long a day to let this drag on, especially when she knew she’d forgive him in the end anyway. “Let’s just forget it, okay?”“Yeah. Yeah, okay.” Harry wrapped his arms around her, a hand cupping the back of her head. Holding tight, the way she had held her wand. As if he had the same fear she did, that those black shadows would come and take .“I’m sorry ‘mione.” He mumbled, echoed by Ron a moment later. “Let’s go home, yeah?”Home. To the Burrow. To a room full of people and food and noise. She wasn’t ready for that, not yet. “Yeah. You two go on, though. I just need a minute.” The two boys exchanged a look. She could tell they wanted to disagree, but held back, making her promise she’d hurry back to Fred and George’s as soon as she was ready. And the moment they turned away she felt a heavy tear fall, warm as it rolled down her cheek to the corner of her mouth, a choked sob, the only one she allowed herself. Hermione noticed it right away, how the noise traveled up and down the nearly deserted street, betraying her despair. And though her best friends hadn’t heard her, someone else had. He stood just outside of the old robes shop with his hands in his pockets, watching her. She was practically unrecognizable, only a shell of what she once had been. He’d heard the way they spoke to her. Making it seem like she’d done something wrong, like she was stupid, their words turning one of the most stubborn witches he knew into someone small, meek. Her boots scuffing across cobblestone. Her heart beating in her ears. Her breaths, short and shallow. He could hear it all.She whispered to herself in a tight voice –– I’m alright. I’m alright. I’m alright –– and the hard sounds of her words ricocheted off of the crumbling brick. Alone in a place he hardly recognized, Draco listened.  There was an echo in Diagon Alley.

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