Author: John Sexton
Genre: Harry Potter Slash
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Chapter Fourteen -- Summoned by the Dark Lord

Draco was wondering how he could contact Sals before the beginning of term, when an owl landed on his first floor bedroom balcony.

It was the most stunning European Eagle Owl that Draco had ever seen. It stood at least three feet, from head to talon.

"Its wingspan must rival a hippogriff's," thought Draco.

He was almost afraid to open the French doors, but the bird did have a letter attached to its leg, and it did seem eager to deliver it.

To Draco's utter surprise, when he flicked his wand at the candle on his bedside table, and opened the glass doors, the owl hopped into his bedroom in a single bound. It hooted loudly, ruffled its feathers rather noisily, then fixed Draco with its huge eyes.

The owl's horns now stood erect, significantly increasing its height and Draco's anxiety, in equal measure.

Draco stepped back, slightly startled by the bird's behaviour. Then it amazed him by retracting its horns and bowing to him, before it raised its huge leg, and proffered the letter.

Draco retrieved the envelope with some caution.

"I'm sorry I don't have a small fox to give you, as a reward," said Draco dryly, uncertain if the creature was capable of discerning sarcasm.

He fished a Sickle from his pocket and offered it to the bird.

The creature fixed Draco with two of the biggest eyes he had ever seen; they were not the yellow irises of your common barn owl, but the deepest, most vivid pools of amber-brown imaginable.

The owl hooted amiably, then took the silver coin in its powerful black beak.

Draco was almost transfixed by the magnificent creature. But it made no attempt to leave, which snapped Draco out of his reverie.

"Oh... you waiting for a reply?" Draco asked the owl, which hooted indignantly. "Sorry," he replied.

He opened the envelope with some urgency, and almost squealed with delight as he caught the signature at the bottom of the parchment. He returned to the top, and read:

"Dear Draco, I hope this letter finds you well, and I hope that Sinbad did not startle you. He can be a bit of a show-off at times!"



"So, you're Sinbad, are you?"

Draco squinted at the huge owl. It simply ruffled its feathers, and hooted agreeably.



"Father and I would like to extend an invitation to you, to join us at our summer retreat, for the next four weeks  the remainder of the hols.
My sincere apologies for this sudden and rather presumptuous approach, but Father and I are under some pressure to conclude our final preparations and we must leave tonight.

"There is only one other catch, from your perspective: it is my intention to invite Hermione Granger to join us, for the last five days of your stay. I do hope that you will not be put off by that, as I am hoping that we can all benefit from this unique opportunity.

"Sinbad will wait for your reply. Father and I look forward to seeing you later tonight. Cheers, Sals.

"P.S. Sinbad has a Portkey for you, should you choose to accept our rather pressing invitation. It will activate, upon your command, at precisely midnight, tonight. Hope you can make it.

"P.P.S. If you want, you can Portkey directly from our retreat to King's Cross, on September the first."



Draco looked at the letter in awe, and with some degree of confusion. He was stunned by the invitation, but even more startled by the inclusion of the... of Granger... in the mix.

It made sense, of course, in light of what had transpired earlier that day. He was, none-the-less, quite apprehensive about it; but he was in no position to debate the issue. To do so would be the epitome of bad taste.

In any case, he had already decided that Sals' wishes on the Granger issue would be his wishes.



"Well, Sinbad," Draco addressed the bird amicably, "I'll have an answer for you, presently. Why don't you go and grab a bite to eat. I'll be finished when you return."

Sinbad hooted his approval of the suggestion.

Before Draco could blink, the giant owl hopped out of the bedroom and onto the balcony wall, in two enormous bounds. From there he spread his massive wings and glided off into the black night sky without a sound.



Draco scanned Sals' invitation again, and focussed on the post scripts. He wondered where the retreat was... in Britain?

He sat at his desk and prepared to pen his reply. He could not believe the timing of the invitation: it provided the perfect means of distancing himself from his mother, and his responsibilities as the head of the house.

He wrote, nervously...

"Dear Sals, Thank you for the invitation. It was a most welcome surprise.
I accept with pleasure.

"I must admit that Miss Granger would not have been my first choice as a holiday companion, but I am sure we will both enjoy your hospitality.

"This year at Hogwarts promises to be a challenge, in many ways, and I am already starting to appreciate the value of your concept of school unity and inter-house co-operation. If Granger and I can help to bring that about, I am sure that we will all benefit from the changes.

"Please pass on my thanks to your father. I look forward to joining you later tonight. Cheers, Draco."



Draco had only just dropped his quill onto his desk, and sealed his reply, when the sound of Sinbad ruffling his feathers caught his attention.

He jumped slightly in surprise; he had not heard the silent predator winging its way across the grounds, nor its even more stealthy landing.

The owl had the good grace not to enter the room; it was perched on the edge of the marble balcony, with a young hare's carcass in its huge black beak.

Draco was mortified that the rodent was almost the size of the fox, to which he had referred so smugly upon the bird's arrival. Sinbad was, indeed, a show-off.

The crushed and bloodied hind quarters were still dangling from the owl's beak, until, with one undignified gulp, the bird shook and shimmied its prey down into its gullet. Sinbad then stretched his neck, and ruffled his feathers imperiously. He hooted at Draco, and fixed him with another mesmerising stare.

"I promise never to get on your bad side, Sinbad," Draco cooed.

He approached the bird with his reply, then he held up the letter.

Sinbad merely hooted, then blinked several times.

"Here's my reply for your master," Draco said pleasantly. "He wrote that you had a Portkey for me," he added.

The owl lifted up its enormous, brown and black, dappled wing, and ferreted out a small gold medallion from its downy underside. He then dropped the Portkey into Draco's outstretched hand, and obligingly held out his right leg.

Draco attached his reply to the bird's lethal talon.

Sinbad bowed his head to Draco, in a most dignified manner, then turned, stretched his monstrous wings, and glided silently into the blackness of the frosty summer night.



Draco turned the Portkey over in his hand. On one side was a dragon and, encircling it, was his own name, the Latin word for dragon.

He had initially assumed that the Portkey had been fashioned specifically for him. But the other side of the medallion put that in doubt.

Around the reverse side image was the word, "Dragonera."

The image itself remained a mystery to Draco, until he realised it was an island. Then he flipped back to the dragon's image, and realised that it was not his own name that encircled the medallion, but "Drago," a more ancient form of the word, and the root of the island's own name.

The island was soon located, on an ancient chart in Draco's personal library; it was the legendary  Isle of the Sleeping Dragon."

Draco flipped the coin between the island and the dragon, and his mind's eye recognized the land's shape as its epithet, a sleeping dragon. As he ran his finger over the embossed image of the isle, he was startled by the portkey's response.

At first Draco panicked, thinking that he had accidently activated the portkey. But he was relieved to discover that he had merely triggered the image to morph into the obverse side of the coin, the dragon.

When Draco flipped the coin over, he was surprised to discover that the obverse was now the reverse, the isle. Running his finger over that image, again produced the dragon and the reverse effect on the other side. He found it all quite fascinating.



Draco referred back to the chart. Dragonera was tiny, no bigger than Hogwarts, and located off the far western tip of Majorca. It was unpopulated, and difficult to reach, for Muggles. It appeared that this was where he was going.



The next two hours threatened to pass painfully slowly for Draco. He stayed in his room, to ensure that he avoided Mother and Aunt Bella.

Draco removed the counterfeit Dark Mark from his forearm, showered, dressed, packed his personal necessities. He checked that his trunk was all ready for Hogwarts.

Then he wrote a brief and rather abrupt note, which he left on his desk for his mother to find after he had gone. He could not abide another encounter with either woman; he had no intention of descending into yet another petty argument over his decision to leave.

That done, Draco found himself fantasising about Sals again, in a variety of scenarios. He was unable to resist the urge to bring himself to another mind-blowing orgasm, before he panicked with the realisation that he had less than four minutes before the Portkey was due to activate.

Another quick cleaning charm, then Draco had redressed, gathered his personal items, and shrunk them into his trouser pocket, with a flick of his wand.

He immediately thought of Sals' incredible power; he wondered if any of Sals' abilities could be taught, and whether Sals would be prepared to teach him. He speculated, briefly, that it might be on Sals' agenda, over the next four weeks.



This Wiltshire summer was the coldest on record, so Draco donned his travelling cloak, then retrieved the Portkey from his bedside table. He studied the medallion, and turned it over again.

Draco held the coin firmly in his right hand and gripped the handle of his trunk with the other, just as the clock in the hallway struck the Midnight Hour.

"Moveo Clavisportus," Draco intoned the command, with his eyes closed.

He didn't know why he did that, exactly; he always had, as far back as he could remember. He guessed it was because, as a child -- though he would never admit it -- Portkeying frightened him. It felt like diving into water, except for that nauseating tugging at his navel that always...

With a pop, he was gone!

===============================================

Draco struggled to find his feet, as he emerged through the portkey into a dark chamber. When he finally managed to take in his surroundings, he panicked, as he realised that they were terribly familiar.

Above him, on the dais in his reception chamber, in Riddle House, sat that vile creature, Voldemort!

Draco swung his head around frantically. How had this happened? What had gone wrong? But what he saw struck a dagger of despair at his heart; he desperately wanted to refuse to believe what he saw, but it was sadly undeniable.

Severus Snape stood before his fell master, having just removed his Death Eater mask. On Draco's right, dressed also in black, but not robes, was Salazar Snape, tall, erect and fit.

Between them, looking pale and nervous, but feeling considerably worse, was Draco.



Voldemort eyed the two boys, and the look in those grotesque red slits sent a shiver down Draco's spine; he felt nauseous and weak at the knees. Then he felt even worse, with the realisation that he had absolutely no defence against the master Legilimens, Lord Voldemort.

Draco had so vainly and foolishly convinced himself that he had occluded the Dark Lord, at their first meeting, and he had persisted with the delusion for nearly six weeks, until earlier that day.

"Today," Draco thought painfully, "a boy wizard, no older than me, brought me crashing down to reality, with a thud!... and now?..."



"Master," Severus Snape knelt before Voldemort, then he kissed the hem of The Dark Lord's robe, "I have brought my son, as you ordered."

Voldemort looked down at Severus, from his throne, in the middle of the former downstairs library of his family's home. Then the monster smiled.

When The Dark Lord spoke, Draco flinched; he could not suppress the thought that Voldemort not only looked like a snake 

"You may rise, Severus, and present your son to Us," the madman hissed.

Draco looked around the chamber instinctively, and was surprised that no one else was present.

"Since when did he start using the royal plural?" he asked himself.

The Dark Lord sneered lasciviously at Salazar Snape, when the strapping youth was led towards him.

"My Lord," Severus bowed his head, as they approached the dais, "this is my son, Salazar Snape."



Draco felt an enormous wave of relief, when he realised that Voldemort's attention was on Salazar and not him.

But his relief was gone in a flash, when he recalled that he'd dared to use The Dark Lord's name and called him a monster, at least twice!

He felt his pulse race, and the sudden heat that flashed across his usually pale cheeks told him that his face must be glowing, like the red slits that the foul creature passed off as eyes.

The Dark Lord flicked those fiery orbs in Draco's direction and secreted a wicked sneer.

Draco froze in terror when he heard the monster's voice.

"We shall deal with you soon, very soon, Draco Malfoy!"

However, Voldemort had not uttered even one of those words; instead he was speaking to Sals... neither did he but glance at Draco. It had all been in the blond's head!

A shiver ran down Draco's spine, and an involuntary jerk that he could not suppress rounded out his humiliation. Then he almost screamed aloud, startled by the sound of The Dark Lord laughing... again in his head!

All-the-while that monster was conversing in platitudes with the boy who had betrayed Draco... or had he?... And if Sals hadn't?...

"We have heard many good things about you, young Salazar," The Dark Lord crooned.

He licked his lips salaciously at the stunning young specimen, who was now kneeling before him.

"We know that you will do your father proud," The Dark Lord continued, "you are a remarkably handsome young man."

Voldemort smiled at the younger Snape, as the youth imitated his father's homage: kissing the hem of The Dark Lord's cloak.

Draco could not understand how Salazar did not flinch, when that monster reached out with his scaly hand and stroked the boy's smooth cheek with the back of his fingers. He was even more astounded by the boy's reply...

"Thank you, My Lord, I am honoured to be in your service. I cannot wait for the day that I prove myself worthy of the honour of wearing your mark."



Draco's heart thumped with those words, and he surreptitiously ran his thumb over his forearm, where his recently erased forgery had once stood; then he cringed, in dread of the Dark Lord's reaction.

However, no vengeance came, because, at that very moment, Voldemort had looked deep into Salazar Snape's eyes; he held the youth's gaze for some considerable time. Not a word was spoken; the chamber became so quiet that Draco could hear his own heartbeat.



"You please Us young Snape," The Dark Lord eventually spoke, "and We find your plans invigorating, they are bold, resolute and original... they may even prove rather amusing. Your use of the cabinets is a master stroke, and your cunning, in appropriating the idea from a lesser wit, Slytherin at its best!"

Draco reeled with that painful revelation. His last hope -- that he was mistaken: that he had not been duped and betrayed -- crumbled to dust, in a flash of profound despair.

But even worse than that was the realisation that he'd been used... he thought back to the loo at Edburg's... like a whore!

Voldemort smiled at Salazar Snape, but the monster's face was so utterly grotesque that Draco could not bear to look; he turned away in disgust.

"We regret that your plans require deferment of the honour of wearing Our mark," Voldemort tilted his head slightly, in acknowledgement of his decision, "but We agree," he continued in his cold high voice. "You would not be able to undertake this task if you were marked.

"But know this, Salazar Snape: We have faith in you; when you bring your inspired plans to fruition, you shall be marked and stand at Our right hand, such will be your reward."



Draco shrank back in abject terror, cowering beneath The Dark Lord's penetrating gaze, as the foul creature turned his attention towards him.

"While you, Draco Malfoy, have betrayed Us!"

Voldemort's voice grew colder than Draco could ever have imagined.

"At the first opportunity, you dared to side with one whom you thought would oppose Us! You shall never bear the Dark Mark, because you dishonour the pure blood of your ancestors. You are unworthy, We no longer have any use for you!"

A spark of liberation flared for a second, in Draco's heart, with the faint hope that he might have found a way out of this madness. But, before this burst of relief took its first breath, it was extinguished by the expression on that vile monster's face.

The Dark Lord sneered at Draco, then he licked his scaly lips, which bore a sick, salacious leer.

"No, that is not quite true," Voldemort grinned menacingly. "We have very specific tastes," he gave his lips another lascivious caress with his serpentine tongue, "and you will slake Our passions quite adequately... before you die."

Voldemort's eyes seemed to glow a more violent shade of scarlet with that threat.

"And you shall die, Draco, Our sweet... very soon," The Dark Lord sighed facetiously. "But first We must teach you a lesson, before We quench Our excitement in your blood."

Then the bastard looked hard at Draco, probing him for signs of panic and terror. But the young blonde surprised himself with his sudden surge of self-righteous indignation and bravado.

Voldemort's eyes flared in rage.

"So, you hope that Potter kills Us, do you, pet?"

The Dark Lord roared furiously, and his voice took on a sinister tone that might have caused Draco to quake, under any other circumstances.

However, on this singular occasion, in the face of imminent death, the blonde stood defiant and resolute.

Then The Dark Lord smirked, and a high pitched laugh escaped his sibilant lips.

"Well, Draco, Our sweet pet," Voldemort toyed with him, "We have sad tidings to announce... sad for us both," he sighed.

But it was facetious, for his mood was antagonistic, and progressively becoming more vengeful.

"You will, no doubt, be disappointed to learn that your new-found ally, and former adversary, is dead." Voldemort smiled cynically, then added, "We too are angry, My pet, for We have been deprived of the pleasure of dispatching him in person."

Potter was dead? Draco was reeling.

"How do We know?" Voldemort taunted the traumatised young blond, then answered his own query. "We shared a connection with Potter, didn't you know!..." he trailed off, as if in a potions-induced stupor... "We were there, in his head, the night that he died. It was a delightfully brutal death, We only wish that We could have been there, in the flesh, so to speak.

"But never mind, We shall provide you with a practical demonstration, and slake Our carnal passions in your pain and suffering, not to mention the utter humiliation of it all...  which We shall enjoy immensely."

The Dark Lord sneered viciously, then taunted Draco further...

"We shall not enjoy it as much as We would have with Potter, but We shall enjoy it."

Voldemort seemed to swoon back into the recollection. When the foul creature came out of his reverie, Draco could swear that those disgusting red eyes were flaring, actually glowing!

"So, Our sweet, sweet boy..." the monster taunted Draco facetiously, and his terrifying voice seemed to echo from the gates of Hades... "Potter cannot help you... nobody can. Time to pay your dues, traitorous dog!"



The Dark Lord raised his right arm, and pointed his wand directly at Draco.

"Cru--" he cried, but stopped short of uttering the Unforgivable curse.

He turned to Salazar Snape, gazed into his eyes for a few seconds, until a wicked grin magnified his crazed demeanour.

Voldemort nodded to the youth.

"Be Our guest," he cried with unvarnished delight.

"Thank you, My Lord," the youth bowed graciously.



Draco stared at Snape's son in utter disbelief and horror. The boy bore a look of utter delight and unbridled lust, sinister and cruel, as he turned his head to face the terrified blonde.

"It will be my pleasure!" Snape declared haughtily, then he leered at Draco with utter contempt.

Draco doubted that the physical pain, which was sure to be terrible, could eclipse the pain that he felt at that very moment of the youth's betrayal.

"Crucio!" the erstwhile beguiling boy cried with a vindictive intonation.

Draco fell to the floor, then screamed until he thought his lungs were bleeding. He thrashed about violently, the pain eclipsing anything that he had ever endured at the hands of his father.

But, just as quickly as it had begun, it ceased; Draco collapsed in a semi-conscious heap at the foot of Voldemort's dais. The fact that he had soiled himself was the least of his concerns. Because, sadly, he was right: as excruciating as the curse had been, his shattered psyche still hurt more.

But why had his tormentor stopped? Draco tried to look up at the youth, but he was still convulsing from the trauma and pain; he could barely see, let alone focus on anything. But he was pretty certain that Snape was looking at Voldemort.

Draco imagined that The Dark Lord was again staring hard into the eyes of Salazar Snape.

"We sense your reluctance to continue, young Salazar," Voldemort quipped, confirming Draco's suspicions. But, oddly enough, the monster's voice seemed devoid of anger.

Even in his disoriented, agonised state, Draco's heart leapt with a flicker of hope at the words.

"Yet, there is no compassion in you," the vile creature hissed with delight, "for this useless cur at your feet."



Draco could only imagine the wicked grin that must have twisted the dark monster's mouth with that utterance.

Voldemort's tone had become so steeped in the overtones of Parseltongue that the foul creature's sibilant rant was more terrifying than ever, as he lavished praise on Draco's tormentor.

"You merely consider such treatment of this unworthy cur the waste of a valuable resource," Voldemort cried with delight. "You were revelling in inflicting this traitor's pain; We could feel your excitement, your hunger. Yet your control of your passions eclipses what most of Our followers would find impossible. Such discipline... such mastery!" the foul creature hissed in admiration... "in one so young... and all simply to achieve a strategic advantage."

Voldemort turned to Severus Snape, then cooed, "you must be very proud, Severus!"

"Never more so than at this very moment, My Lord," came Snape's reply.



Draco's faint hope plummeted in that moment... his betrayal and his worst fears were a reality. His despair was now complete, with The Dark Lord's final, delighted appraisal of Salazar Snape, the boy who had stolen and shattered Draco's heart in a matter of hours.

"You are a quite ruthless pragmatist," Voldemort lavished more praise on Severus Snape's son, "and Slytherin to the core... you are indeed worthy of your namesake! Mighty Slytherin would be proud."

It was then that Draco's sight began to return, enough that he could just make out the monster's red eyes, as they flared with another insight, that clearly tantalised his sick mind.

Voldemort's tone became darker, as he leaned down towards the tall, dark-haired youth

"But We see through your actions to your real motive, Salazar Snape!"

Draco's ears pricked up with that statement, and he became suddenly so anxious that his sight began to falter once more. He could not see the youth's face, but he sensed the awkward silence, and imagined that Sals had a look of terror on his beautiful face.

The blonde Slytherin's heart leapt with the realisation that he had not been betrayed by the beautiful boy who had won his heart in a matter of minutes, earlier that day.

"You are ruled by passion, after all!" Voldemort cackled with delight. "Your dark carnal urges for this creature almost do justice to Our own!" Voldemort laughed heartily.

Draco's body leapt with the shock of the monster's sharp appraisal.

"Take him then!" The Dark Lord declared excitedly, "you deserve a play-thing... a reward for your bold plans. Do with him what you will ... We give him to you, Salazar Snape. Use him as you see fit: abuse him, punish him, enact your most depraved and violent fantasies upon him, make him scream; only do so wantonly, and do so often!"

Voldemort's delight was palpable.

"You have a worthy progeny, Severus," The Dark Lord praised his Potions Master. Then he turned back to the son.

"Such a wickedly-brutal sexual appetite," The Dark Lord mused, "for such a tender age, and for one so handsome," he added, as he leaned forward and peered into the boy's dark orbs, more deeply than before.

A filthy sneer twisted Voldemort's mouth; lasciviously he caressed his thin lips with his serpentine tongue.

"Such a sick, sinister past you possess, Salazar Snape," The Dark Lord hissed with unbridled lust, amplified by the contrived alliteration, to the point of being grotesque. "So depraved, and still only a boy!"

His sibilant tones made Draco tremble in fear and shiver with disgust.

"And yet..." Voldemort paused with theatrical ineptitude... "I swear... not even the finest chocolate would melt in your delicious mouth... you do Us proud."

The Dark Lord turned back to Severus, "you both do!" he chortled.

"My Lord," was all Severus said in reply; he bowed low and backed away from his fell master.

Voldemort leered at Snape's son, as he turned to him one more time.

"Keep Us abreast of your progress, Salazar," the vile creature smiled more broadly, "We especially look forward to your handling of Slytherin House, under your father's watchful eye."

"Yes, I will... thank you, My Lord," the youth replied humbly.

"Now We know why you requested a private audience, Severus," The Dark Lord smiled, "very astute."

"That too was at Salazar's bidding, My Lord," Severus answered proudly.

"You are even more Slytherin than your father, Salazar Snape," Voldemort beamed at the boy, "you shall bear watching."



Then Voldemort snapped his gaze back onto Draco in a flash, and the terrified youth knew he was being probed, but he was beyond care.

Voldemort licked his thin wispy lips slowly, with his flickering tongue, then turned to Snape's son, as the leering smirk widened!

"Tell Us, Young Salazar," Voldemort enquired in a playful lilt, "do you think your precious plaything has any idea what delightful depravities, what excruciating pain, what cruel humiliation you have in store for him?"

"It matters not, My Lord," came the slick youth's arrogant reply, "he will comply and submit, forewarned or not. Every day from this shall be his last, Master, or so he will come to hope.

"But he will survive the ordeals, My Lord, until You are victorious, and have no further use for him. He will live every one of those last days of his miserable life regretting this day, when he betrayed you, Master."

Voldemort's laughter filled the chamber, and Draco plummeted into the depths of a despair, beyond anything he had ever imagined. His betrayal was complete, his future... a hell on earth. He was lost.

The Dark Lord waved his arm dismissively.

"You have Our leave to go. Take that pathetic excuse for a wizard out of Our presence, he offends Us."



Salazar Snape gripped Draco's arm and pulled the traumatised blonde to his feet none too gently. The tall, dark youth bowed deferentially to his fell master, then Apparated out of the Riddle House, with a devastated Draco Malfoy in tow.

===============================================

Hermione was dreading going down to breakfast. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the food at the Leaky Cauldron, it was just that she knew that Ronald Weasley would be down there, waiting for her. He'd probably eaten three full helpings of everything by now.

When Hermione reached the head of the stairs, she could see that everyone was there; fortunately Ginny seemed to have kept Hermione a place next to her.

Mr and Mrs Weasley greeted Hermione cheerfully enough; she presumed that Ginny had squared everything away, by telling them what had really happened between Sals and Ron at Edburg's.

She didn't look at Ron, who was sitting at the opposite corner of the long table, almost on his own.



Breakfast turned out to be a quiet affair, albeit a little strained.

Hermione chatted with Ginny and her parents, throughout the meal; but not once was the subject of Ron's altercation raised. That was... until Hermione stood and excused herself.

"Herm, we need to talk," Ron called, very timidly, from his corner.

Everyone else took that as a cue to leave, allowing Ron and Hermione some privacy. Hermione sat back down, not directly opposite but closer to the volatile redhead.

"About yesterday, Herm..." he baulked, "I just don't know what got into you--"

"Stop right there, Ronald Weasley!" she cut him off impatiently. "Let's get one thing very clear: nothing got into me, yesterday. Your behaviour was appalling! I've never been so embarrassed."

"Look, Hermione, they've got you under some jinx or they're using Dark Magic--"

"Ronald, STOP!" cried Hermione in desperation, "we're too old to be playing these silly games; we're not children any more, Ron!"

"Hermione! They're Slytherins, for Merlin's sake," Ron bellowed, and his face now matched his hair. "It's a trap, Hermione, a ploy to suck you in. It's Snape's son and Malfoy! What more do you want? You can't trust a Slytherin, and especially not those two."

"I'm not stupid, Ron!" Hermione snapped, "and I wouldn't trust Malfoy as far as I could throw him."

"And what about Snape?" Ron hit back, "you're just goin' all girly on him, I s'pose?"

"Well, Ronald Weasley, if I am, it's certainly none of your business; not when you act like this! Your behaviour is positively medieval. I do not have to answer to you: I'll talk to whomever I like, when I like, and I'll socialise with whomever I fancy. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to pack... to return home."

"I thought you were s'posed to be comin' home with us, to The Burrow!" Ron whined.

"I think," said Hermione, calmly and coolly, but she could not look him in the eye, "that, under the circumstances, it would be best if I went home for the rest of the hols. Besides, I haven't really done near enough study so far, and I've only got four weeks left to get everything done. So, I think it really is best, all round, if I go back home, today."

===============================================
If you are enjoying this, you might like my other two Nifty stories...

http://www.nifty.org/nifty/gay/celebrity/of-pride-and-prejudice/
This is a two-chapter Potterverse short story [complete].

http://www.nifty.org/nifty/gay/adult-youth/shattered-ceiling-falling-sky/
This is on-going and I'm updating it as I write each new chapter.

All feedback is appreciated via: sexton1980@yahoo.com.au