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Chapter 1: What Should Have Been an Ordinary Day
Note: This story doesn't follow the way things play out in the book; be aware that it is of my own unique construction. The few things that are canon are out of order, and that is what I intended. And as always, everything else besides the plot belongs to J.K. Rowling's brilliant mind.
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Hermione walked down the hallway briskly, ripping the clip from her hair and letting her tresses fall upon her shoulders. She had had enough of that awful party, and was ready to get away from that dreadful piece of filth she had brought as her date. Honestly, could he not leave her alone for a single minute? And seeing him, standing under the mistletoe, his eyes twinkling with that piggish grin on his face... Simply disgusting.
She walked faster, hoping to put as much distance between them as possible. The last thing she wanted was for him to find her.
It was when she was just passing by the girl’s bathroom in the western corridor that she heard the noise. Pausing her frantic walking, she leaned in to listen.
Merlin, someone in there was crying. She carefully scaled the wall and peered around the corner, the shadows of the entrance keeping her mostly out of sight. A tall, slender wizard was leaned over the sink. His knuckles turned white as they squeezed the marble and another strangled sob escaped from his mouth. He looked up into the mirror and when Hermione got a proper view of his reflection, her eyebrows shot up in surprise.
Draco Malfoy stared into the glass, his eyes red and his face contorted as he continued to let out great sobs that shook his shoulders roughly. Hermione stepped back into the hallway, leaning against the wall to sort out her thoughts.
She hadn’t wanted to believe it, but it looked like Harry was right. Draco was a Death Eater. That could be the only explanation. She may not like Draco, but she did understand a few things about him. He wouldn’t be crying unless it was about something serious.... Like a matter of life or death.
For Merlin’s sake, he was still only a boy! Why were they already shouldering him with this kind of responsibility? The last thing they needed was Malfoy working to kill them, too.
More sobs met her ears and she peered back into the bathroom. He had ripped off his tie, and was now repeatedly punching the sink.
Even after all that Draco had put her through, Hermione couldn’t help feeling a sliver of sympathy for him. After all, if he had been born to different parents, it’s very possible he could have turned out differently. The belief that Muggleborns were inferior to Purebloods had certainly not started with him. He had grown up with such a belief, and taken it as truth.
But that was really no excuse, she argued. He could have chosen to believe something different. He was just too damn impressionable, and for that, she deeply pitied him.
Hermione sighed and looked at the stone ground, trying to figure out if she should attempt talking to him when she heard a noise. She looked back to see Draco staring in the mirror in horror, before twisting around. She followed his gaze and was shocked to find Harry, standing in the bathroom and glaring at Draco.
Hermione was glued to the spot as she watched the scene unfold. Draco, instinctively drawing his wand, fired a spell at Harry, which missed him by mere inches. Harry recovered quickly, flicking a jinx back at Draco, which he blocked before running to the other side of the bathroom stalls. Harry followed at lightning speed, firing spell after spell.
Hermione, now sensible enough to spring into action, ran into the bathroom to attempt to stop the fighting. However, looking around, she found that she was alone. Puzzled, she stopped in the middle of a puddle of water and listened.
Hermione whipped around to see green light illuminate a hallway she hadn’t noticed before. Her stomach jolted as she heard a body hit the ground.
Before she even realized her feet were moving she was flying down the corridor, her heart pumping fearfully loud in her ears. After what seemed like an eternity, she reached the end of the hall and came to a horrified halt as she took in the scene before her.
Harry was staring with wide eyes at the floor, his wand slowly lowering to his side. Hermione followed his gaze and her hand flew up to her mouth as she saw Draco. He was lying in a large puddle of water, twitching in agony as blood from multiple wounds all over his body seeped through the fabric of his clothes.
Hermione ran to him instantly, frantically trying to think of a counter-curse but being hopelessly unaware of what the spell was that had caused the damage.
“Harry!” she shrieked, whirling on him. “Where did you find this spell?”
“I... I found it in the book. His book,” he whispered, his face growing paler as Draco began to moan. Hermione turned back to Draco and met his eyes. They were begging for help, for mercy, for relief. Frightened tears spilled down her face as she ripped off his shirt, attempting to get a better look at the wounds forming.
“Harry, stop standing there like a bloody idiot and go find some help!” she screamed, not even bothering to turn around to face him.
She heard him running down the hallway and out of the bathroom, but no relief came to Hermione. This was bad. By the time Harry found someone, it could be too late.
She examined the wounds forming on his chest. It seemed with every few seconds they grew deeper. Her heart was beating fast as she wracked her brain for a spell. There had to be a healing spell that would work... She tried five basic spells, but they did nothing. Blood was starting to slip out of Draco’s mouth, and tears were pouring from his terrified eyes. A pale white hand latched onto her arm as he cried and convulsed in pain.
“I’m sorry! I don’t know how to fix this!” she whispered hysterically. The blood from his mouth was nearly choking him. Hermione pulled him to her, holding him gently like a small child, tipping his head down to allow the blood to pour out without restricting his air. He coughed and moaned and cried as the blood continued to spill to the floor. Hermione could barely breathe witnessing him in so much pain.
Suddenly, a spell came to her mind. “Vulnera Sanetur,” she whispered, and practically cried in relief as she saw the blood stop spilling from his mouth. She whispered it again, and watched as the wounds on his chest knit themselves together. Repeating it one last time, nearly all traces of the gashes were gone.
Hermione released her tight hold on Draco and fell back onto her hands in relief, but he remained where he was, leaning against her. He didn’t move to stand, and he continued to softly sob. His eyes were shut tight and he gently let his hand fall from Hermione’s arm.
She tentatively reached out a hand to place on his shoulder. “You’re okay. The spell worked,” she murmured softly. He shook his head and kept crying.
“Why couldn’t you just let me die?” Draco’s comment was barely audible, but Hermione was close enough to him that she heard it.
“Because I don’t believe in letting someone die when you have the chance to save them.”
Draco’s sobs quieted at her remark, and Hermione’s eyes widened in surprise as he moved his hand slightly so that it was touching hers. She was relieved when his breathing began returning to normal, but then she began thinking. Why wasn’t he moving away from her? She knew he was weak, but that probably wouldn’t be an issue for him if he really wanted to get away.
“I can’t believe that you, out of all people, end up being the one who saves my life. What the hell is wrong with you, Granger,” he muttered.
And there was the infamous Malfoy rancor, back for yet another round.
Hermione’s lips pursed and she was opening her mouth to fire back a nasty comment, but paused when she heard two soft words leave Draco’s lips.
“... Thank you.”
“Oh, Miss Granger!” Hermione turned around to see Professor McGonagall hurrying towards her, Harry close behind. At the sound of another voice, Draco tried to get up from Hermione’s lap, but was too weak and ended up falling back down. McGonagall leaned down onto the watery floor to examine Draco.
“Mr. Malfoy, are you all right?” McGonagall asked in concern, examining his bloody shirt with wide eyes.
“Why don’t you ask Potter? He’s the one that tried to KILL me,” Draco said icily, his blue eyes glaring at Harry.
McGonagall’s lips pursed and she nodded. “I will deal with disciplining Mr. Potter later. You’re very lucky that Miss Granger was here to help you. Now, let’s get you to the Hospital Wing.”
Draco grimaced in pain as Hermione gently helped him up to a sitting position. “I don’t think he’ll be able to walk,” she murmured to Professor McGonagall.
“Don’t tell her what I can and can’t do, Mudblood,” Draco hissed through gritted teeth. Hermione glared at him and McGonagall’s eyes flashed with anger.
“Mr. Malfoy, injuries or not, such language is NEVER tolerated here at Hogwarts, especially to the student responsible for saving your life. I suggest you apologize,” she said sternly.
He murmured a lame, “Sorry, Granger.” Hermione nodded curtly and got up, trying to keep the hurt from intruding upon her angry expression.
“Like I said, I think he’s too weak to walk. Could you find someone to help him?” Hermione requested a bit too politely, trying to hide how truly bothered she was by Draco's spiteful comment. McGonagall nodded.
“Of course. Mr. Potter, I’ll have you come with me. We can have a little talk about your punishment on the way.” Harry sighed miserably and followed the Professor out of the room.
Hermione and Draco were alone again. She turned to leave but a soft “Wait,” stopped her.
“What?” she asked, whirling around to face him, her arms crossed across her chest, “Want to call me a Mudblood one last time before I leave?”
He looked to the floor and shook his head. “Just... don’t go yet. Wait until they come back,” Draco murmured, looking up at her tentatively.
She glared into his icy blue eyes, but she did recognize a genuine need for her to stay. She sighed and plopped back onto the floor.
“You may want to try being grateful to me for saving you, even when people are around,” she murmured, still upset by his earlier comment. Draco sighed.
“Yeah, okay Granger. I’ll give that a try,” he said sarcastically. Hermione rolled her eyes but didn't bother to fire back a retort.
“Harry didn’t understand what that spell was. I hope you know that,” she said after a long silence, turning to look at Draco. He nodded.
“Potter isn’t exactly someone I'd imagine using Dark Magic like that,” he replied. Hermione nodded in agreement, pulling her knees up to her chest.
“Are you feeling okay? Did the spell work well enough?” she asked, unable to stand the awkward silence.
“I think so. I just... All my strength is gone. I really just want to stand up, my legs feel numb.”
Hermione pursed her lips for a moment in thought, then stood up and extended a hand to Draco.
His eyes turned up to look at her and her heart stopped for a second as she viewed the expression in his eyes. Surprise. And... Could that possibly be the tiniest bit of appreciation?
He slowly but surely extended a slender white hand and grasped hers. She put her free arm around his back and with a great deal of effort helped him stand. He wobbled against her, but somehow found his balance. They locked gazes, holding one another, not sure what to do next.
Draco was opening his mouth to say something before McGonagall came back in with Professor Winters. Harry was gone.
“Professor Winters will help you up to the Hospital Wing, Mr. Malfoy.” The burly professor gently took Draco from Hermione’s hold and lifted him into his arms. Draco hung like a rag doll, too weak to even lift his head. McGonagall put a hand on Professor Winters’ back and walked alongside him until she reached the end of the hallway. Waiting for the Professor and Draco to be out of ear-shot, she turned back to face Hermione.
“Miss Granger... That was a very noble thing for you to do.”
“He needed help. It didn’t matter who he was, or what side he was on. I wasn't about to let him die.”
McGonagall smiled and nodded. “Yes, of course.” She paused before she continued, “Miss Granger?”
Hermione looked up and blinked a few times at the odd expression the Professor wore on her face.
“Forgive me if I’m stepping out of bounds... but I’m sure Mr. Malfoy would appreciate it if you would be there in the Hospital Wing... In case he wants to give you a proper thank-you.”
Smiling, she nodded to Hermione before stepping out of view. The sound of her footsteps soon faded completely, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she gazed at the bloody water slowly beginning to slip down a nearby drain.
“Professor... What exactly do you mean?” she asked the empty room, staring down at her reflection in the water.
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A/N Author's Note: This story was inspired by Tom Felton's brilliant portrayal of this scene in the movie.
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