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Chapter 3: Chapter Two
Draco staggered as his feet hit the hard marble floors of his manor, gripping the girl in his arms more tightly to his body in fear of dropping her. “Snidget!” he called. There was no response. Speaking louder, he shouted, “Snidget!”
A house-elf came skittering into the room, trembling from head to foot. “Mr. Malfoy,” the elf squeaked, “shall I take your outer cloak? Sir? You have been gone a long time, sir, if you don’t mind the-”
Draco interrupted the elf’s speech, staring at the mudblood in his arms. “I need a bottle of dittany. Bring it up to my parents bedroom.” Pausing, he added a mumbled, “please.” Draco then climbed up elaborate staircase, his footsteps echoing in the large foyer behind him. When he reached the second landing, he walked towards a set of double doors at the end of a long hallway. The doors were closed and Draco hesitated before turning the handle one of the doors. When he peered in, as if expecting his parents to snap at him for coming into their private space, Draco felt a shiver pass over his body.
His parents were dead and Draco held a girl of impure blood to his body like she was his lover or something.
This was not right.
Turning around, he shut the door quietly, not wanting to disturb the peace left in the wake of his parents death, and stepped towards his bedroom, which was, realistically, his own wing in the gargantuan house.
“Sir?” Snidget appeared at the top of the staircase, holding a small bottle in his hands. The expression on the elf’s face made it apparent he was slightly confused.
“I decided just to use my bedroom instead.” Draco walked the rest of the way down the hallway, Snidget trailing behind him. After the blond young man opened the door, he walked over the threshold, feeling immediately at ease in his own space.
The spacious room was decorated in the colors of Draco’s house, Slytherin, the furniture dark, masculine and consisting mostly of leather. The space had an arrangement of leather sofas, arm chairs, and loveseats stationed around a fireplace in one corner; another, a heavy wooden desk with a book chest; and on Draco’s immediate right was a canopied, king-size bed with a night table on both sides. A door approximately twenty feet from the foot of Draco’s bed led to his bathroom.
Draco lay Hermione on the bed and took the bottle from Snidget, gently rolling up her sleeves of her robes before pouring the liquid over the scrapes. The bloody slices in her skin disintegrated under the foaming liquid so that her hands were clean of any markings. The gash on her arm, the worst of the obvious physical injuries, healed as well, so that only a soft scar was left behind. Draco then took her head in his bottle-free hand and poured a few drops of the substance over her face and neck.
The absence of cuts on her skin did not make her look much better. She was still dirty, blood remained where the cuts were no longer, and her position on the forest floor had left leaves in her bushy mane.
Feeling a bit awkward at what he knew should be done, Draco stared at the girl a bit longer, like he was wishing she would spring back to life. Her wide, staring eyes were still open, and her lips were spread wide and unclosed, causing Draco the sudden and unexplainable urge to shut them.
A cough behind him alerted him to the presence of his house-elf, whom he had forgotten momentarily. Relieved, Draco asked, “Snidget, could you clean her up? Please? A bath would do her good. Make sure her hair is washed, too, okay? And…” Draco hesitated, glancing over her torn and dirty robes. “She can wear some of my mum’s clothes. Just… make sure they have tags on them, alright?” Draco didn’t like the thought of this soulless Hermione wearing clothing that his mother had worn once before.
Snidget immediately answered, “Yes, sir.”
Draco looked at Hermione, still speaking to his elf. “You can use my bathroom.” He paused. “You won’t need my help, will you?”
“No, no of course not, Mr. Malfoy. I can do it myself, sir.”
Draco let out an intake of breath, calmed once more, and watched as his elf snapped his fingers, causing Hermione to float in the air. Snidget followed her as she disappeared within Draco’s bathroom.
Draco walked silently out of his bedroom - his movements, his words had seemed to be more subdued since the battle; Snidget must be wondering what had happened to his heartless master over the course of his absence.
Draco had brought the girl to his home without thinking so many things through. What was he going to do with a soulless body? Surely, he couldn’t leave her like this; the only reason Draco had brought her to his house was because he wanted to convince himself that she would not be eternally stuck like this. And if she was stuck like that…. The kindest thing would be to kill her. But he could not… After all his years emotionally torturing her, he could not kill her. But it wasn’t about what he could or couldn’t do; it was what was most human to do. If she was to die, Draco could not live with himself. He would not live with himself; he could sooner kill himself that kill Hermione.
It seemed like he was already linked to Hermione Granger, though he had only been aware of her cursed existence for a mere half hour. Her bonds to life were also his; if he could save her, he would allow himself to continue waking up in the morning. If he could not… They were both dead, gone to the place that he had envied the deceased for.
But what would he do with her?
Was that all he could do: kill her?
Was there another option? Another option that had seemed impossible before? But now…now that he had seen what a Dementor did to a person, surely there was a way to reverse it. Shouldn’t there be?
Draco took the steps two at a time as he headed back downstairs.
He had to know.
For someone like Hermione, there had to be another option.