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The Hero Within by Jemione
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
A/N: Before you go to the chapter, here's a little recap from the previous one. I plan to do this in the beginning of every new chapter, that should make it easier for you to remember what was relevant in the previous one.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot.
! Warning: An act of S t r o n g V i o l e n c e is mentioned in this chapter. !
The end of Chapter One:
”Look, Granger... You're not the only one who feels like a captive here. The least I can do is make you feel a bit better.”
She looked at him straight in the eye for a moment before lowering her head. He sighed and turned to leave, closing the door behind him. He was locking the door when he heard her quiet voice.
”Hey Malfoy... Thanks.”
She watched him go, feeling a bit puzzled. Maybe he wasn't that bad after all.
After the dinner with Hermione, Draco took the habit of visiting her every day in the dungeons. They didn't talk much, but it seemed to him that she was almost waiting for him to come see her. He even smuggled her an apple once and she didn't make him taste it first. That made him feel oddly content.
On the fourth day after the dinner, he was once again on his way to the dungeons when he heard a set of loud, cheerful noises coming from one of the Manor's many sitting rooms. He decided to see what the fuss was about, and a moment later he was standing at the doorway. A big bunch of Death Eaters was gathered in the room, evidently preparing for something. Roars of laughter could be heard from every corner of the room.
”Oh, come on in, Draco!” welcomed one of the men.
”What's going on? Are you having a party?”
”You could say that,” he grinned in an evil way. ”We had a little chat and decided to have some fun with the Mudblood.”
”That little bitch is going to be begging for mercy,” someone cheered in the background.
”She sure is... Can you imagine Potter's face when he finds out what we did to his little girlfriend?”
Draco glanced at the table in the middle of the room, fear building inside of him. There were handcuffs, whips and ropes on the table. It was quite obvious what kind of ”fun” they were planning on having with poor Granger.
”Care to take part in the action, Draco?”
”Thanks, but I think I'll pass,” he replied, feeling nauseous.
He quickly left the room with a great amount of thoughts buzzing in his head. He knew he had to help her, but how? Surely they wouldn't agree to not going through with their plan. There was no point in hiding her, either – they would find her. He couldn't get her out of the house, because it was impossible to apparate out of the Manor. Someone would see them if he tried to smuggle her out. There was no one he could ask for help... Or was there?
”Tinky,” he said to himself. Apparition rules didn't apply to house-elfs.
But where was the she? In the kitchen, maybe? He started towards the kitchen, but realised it was only taking him further away from the dungeons. How could he get to Granger in time if he was running around the house looking for Tinky?
Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. Was he stupid or something? Why didn't he just call her? ”Tinky!”
There was a crack and the house-elf appeared right in front of him. ”Yes, Master Draco?”
”I need your help,” he told her in a hushed voice. ”In the dungeons, now!”
Draco could feel the adrenaline rush through him as they hurried towards the dungeons. The clock was ticking. He had seen enough and knew he only had one choice – he couldn't let them do that to her. He wouldn't let them do that to her.
”We need to get her out of here, they're going to hurt her really badly,” Draco informed Tinky as they ran down the stairs that led to the dungeons. Finally they reached their destination. Draco went straight to Hermione's cell. ”Granger, come here!”
”What is it? What's going on?” She was surprised to see him look so serious and desperate.
”There's no time to explain, we need to go,” he panted and turned to address the house-elf. ”Tinky, I need you to take us somewhere safe. They can't find us!”
The house-elf nodded, her huge eyes wide as plates. Hermione seemed scared and she was still too far away from the bars.
”Granger, come on!”
She took the last steps and stuck her arms outside the bars. Draco and Tinky both took a firm grip of her. They were gone in a second.
A moment later their feet met solid ground, or floor to be precise.
”Hogwarts!” Draco breathed as he took in his surroundings. ”Tinky, you're a genious!”
Tinky gave a bow so low her nose nearly touched the floor of the Entrance Hall. ”Master Draco has always been good to Tinky, it is an honor for Tinky to fulfill his wishes!”
”That's good,” he said. ”Because I have another task for you.”
”Tinky is ready to serve her Master!”
”Go straight to my room. There's a black bag in my closet – get it and bring it here. If you can find Granger's wand, bring that too. No one can see you. Understand?”
”Yes, Master Draco,” Tinky squeaked and disappeared with a pop. Draco finally had a moment to catch his breath.
”Malfoy, what's going on?”
Draco slowly looked at Hermione. She looked so innocent with her big chocolate eyes wide open. With great effort he managed to utter, ”They were going to rape you.”
She gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth. Her eyes were full of complete horror. Suddenly the doors to the Great Hall opened, and Draco instinctively pulled Hermione closer to him. They both turned to look at none other than Albus Dumbledore.
The Headmaster only needed a brief look at them. ”My office. Now.”
He pointed his wand towards Hermione and Vanished the chains. She was baffled from suddenly being free from all restrains and Draco had to pull her arm to get her going. They followed the Headmaster to his office, and had barely sat down when Tinky appeared in front of them. She was carrying a black bag and Hermione's wand.
”Tinky brings Master Draco's bag and the Miss' wand! No one saw Tinky!”
”Good,” Draco nodded approvingly. ”Thank you, Tinky. I'll always be grateful for what you've done. But when you go home...you don't know were we are. You haven't seen or heard anything. You've been doing your chores all day. Alright?”
”Yes, Master Draco, Tinky knows nothing!”
”Great,” Draco sighed. ”You can go back now. It was good to know you.”
The elf nodded firmly and dissappeared for the last time. Once the commotion had subsided, Draco and Hermione found that the Headmaster's eyes were on them.
”Care to explain what this is all about?”
Seeing that Hermione was still too shocked to say anything, Draco decided to do the talking. He told Dumbledore about Hermione being captured by Death Eaters and brought to the Malfoy Manor. He told him how they'd Crucio'd her in the yard, making her writhe in agony in a pool of mud. After the torturing session they'd put her in the dungeons that were situated in the basement of Malfoy Manor. She had been there for nearly three weeks, with barely enough food to keep her going, Draco revised.
”I know I should have done something earlier, but I didn't know how I could help her. At least she was alive,” he said, his head held down in an ashamed manner.
”What made you decide to save her today?” Dumbledore didn't sound like he was judging Draco at all – his tone was more like an interested one.
From the corner of his eye Draco saw Hermione stiffen. He knew it was hard for her to hear, but it had to be said. ”They, um... They were going to rape her. All of them.”
Dumbledore stayed silent for a while, watching them. ”I see,” he finally said. With that, he stood up, went to the door and sent a Patronus down the stairs. A few minutes later Professor McGonagall joined them.
”Minerva, would you be kind and escort Miss Granger to the Hospital Wing and have Poppy look at her?” Dumbledore asked. ”I will have a chat with Mr. Malfoy here and we will join you a bit later. And please make sure that no one sees you.”
”Yes, Albus, of course,” McGonagall replied. If she was surprised to see the unlikely duo of her former students, she hid it well.
Hermione stood up and followed Professor McGonagall out of the Headmaster's office.
* * *
”I cannot believe it,” Madam Pomfrey murmured angrily a bit later while fussing around Hermione. ”How dare they treat people like – like they were scum! Did you even get to wash yourself?”
”I was given a sponge bath once,” she replied quietly.
”You were? By whom?”
”I don't know if I'm aloud to tell,” she hesitated, looking at professor McGonagall. ”It was, um, the one in Headmaster's office.”
McGonagall nodded. ”I see. Poppy, if you don't mind, we have to wait for professor Dumbledore's permission before we talk about these things – there might be lives at stake if the information gets into wrong hands.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded and carried on with her rant. She muttered mostly to herself and Hermione tuned out the voice. She felt really overwhelmed. It was hard to believe she was at Hogwarts, surrounded by people she knew and trusted. A mere hour ago she'd been held captive in the dungeons of the Malfoy Manor. Everything had happened so fast it almost made her feel dizzy.
And then, of course, there was Malfoy. He had helped her out, saving her from something so cruel it hurt to even think about it. While doing it, he'd also put his own safety on the line. Saving a Mudblood meant there was no way he could go back home. From now on the Death Eaters would be after him, too. Malfoy had known it and yet he'd decided to give up everything he had in order to save her. He'd even covered the tracks by giving the house-elf some carefully selected commands.
What would he do now? Where would he go? Even though she was immensely relieved to be free, she felt sorry for him. In times of war, one act could be the cause of losing everything. She didn't think it was fair. He had done something incredibly noble and would be forced to hide Merlin knew where because of that. It was wrong.
The sound of the infirmary door opening interrupted Hermione's thoughts, and she watched Professor Dumbledore and Draco walk in. Madam Pomfrey's eyebrows shot up in surprise at the sight of the young blond, but she didn't say anything. Dumbledore nodded at her and briskly walked over to Hermione's bedside.
”Miss Granger, I have informed your parents, Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley and Miss Weasley that you are no longer missing. I am afraid I cannot arrange a visit from your parents yet, but the rest will be here first thing tomorrow morning,” Dumbledore told Hermione. ”Mr. Malfoy will also be staying here in the Hospital Wing as it is not safe for him to wonder around the castle. Now if you will excuse me, I have some things I need to take care of. I will see you tomorrow morning. Good night.”
”Good night, Professor,” Hermione and Draco both replied.
* * *
It was finally quiet in the infirmary. Professor McGonagall had left a while ago, followed by Madam Pomfrey. After mulling it over in her mind for quite some time, Hermione decided to question Draco about something that had been bothering her. Feeling rather nervous, she took a deep breath and called him over. Soon he was sitting in a chair next to her bed.
”When we were in Dumbledore's office, you said 'all of them' were going to rape me.” She kept nibbling her blanket as she spoke. ”I assume you were talking about the Death Eaters, but I'm not quite sure how many all of them is.”
Draco couldn't look at her. It was enough to hear you could have been raped by a bunch of Death Eaters, telling her how many there had been would be too cruel.
”I don't know.”
”Would you look at me?” Hermione asked in a calm but commanding tone. He lifted his gaze and met her eyes. ”How many?”
”I'm not sure... Ten, maybe twenty.” He gave her an apologetic look. ”I'm sorry.”
Hermione shut her eyes tightly, biting her lip. It was obvious she was holding back tears, and Draco was horrified. He didn't know what to do when people cried, he'd never really dealt with situations like that. He chose to give it a go nevertheless.
”Hey, it's alright,” he said, tentatively placing his hand on hers. ”Nothing happened, you're here and you're safe.”
”I know,” she replied quietly. ”But where will you go? You can't go home because you got me out of there...”
”Oh, didn't you know?” he asked, his tone surprised. ”Dumbledore's arranging some kind of a safe house with the Order, we'll both be going there.” Hermione's eyes widened at the news and her jaw dropped slightly. Draco gave her a lopsided smirk. ”Looks like you're still stuck with me.”
A/N: Oooh, a safe house! Isn't that exciting? I wonder what will happen when they get there... Just kidding – I know that already :D You guys will have to wait for a while, though.
And yes – Dumbledore is alive, since this story isn't HBP or DH compliant. So no trying to kill Dumbledore on Draco's part, no Horcrux business, no free years, nothing like that. They graduated normally and had other adventures in the last two years of Hogwarts. :D
By the way, what do you think of the lovely banner? A big thank you goes to the amazing hannah17. You rock! :)
Last but not least: If you read it, please leave me a review. I'd love to hear your comments. Like it? Hate it? Why so? I appreciate all the feedback I get, it helps me improve my work.