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Ronald Weasley wasn’t sure if he should’ve come here in the first place. The meet was supposed to have happened by now. It worried him. Had she gotten in trouble because of him? Frowning, he looked around the place. Maybe he should’ve asked Harry to come along. At least, he would have had someone to talk to. She was probably just late.
A small smile played across his face at the thought of meeting her. He hoped there wasn’t any bad news from her side, though she’d already assured him that everyone was fine during their recent conversation. The familiarity of her voice made him want to cry with ecstasy. His family was something he was holding on to.
Sighing, he ran a hand through his unkempt hair. With every passing minute, dread filled his veins. Was she going to turn up at all? Jumping to his feet, Ron studied his surroundings once more. He wished he could’ve gone past the gates. That, of course, wasn’t an option.
She’s not coming. I should leave. Maybe I’ll inform someone. Dad, probably.
Just as he was about to apparate, he saw him.
“What are you doing in here?”
“I wish you good day.”
It was illogical. Unthinkable, even. How was it even possible for two people who detested one another to fall in love? Hermione rolled her eyes, shaking her head as Lavender went on about the story line of yet another book she’d gotten hold of, a very close relative of Mills and Boons of the Muggle world. They had the same old clichéd story line – beautiful girl meets rough/wonderful/handsome guy, falls in love, fights, makes up, lives happily ever after.
Like that was even possible.
Not her bowl of soup. Sure, those stories were all entertaining, but they were fictitious. Enjoy the book; don't live by it, Hermione wanted to say. Living in a dreamland built up by falsified illusions would do no one any good. How many young girls would come to realize that there wasn’t a Prince Charming? Not many, she thought wryly as she heard another exclamation of sheer joy.
“I totally love the book! It’s absolutely delectable!”
Who would claim a book to be delectable? They were in their seventh year, yet Lavender hadn’t let the fact stop her from squealing in an immature manner.
Hermione let out a noisy, exasperated breath that stopped Lavender just a bit. She looked up from the book. With a small tilt of her head, she raised her perfectly done eyebrow to give Hermione a withering look. “Um, what is it?” Lavender asked, looking confused.
Without a word, Hermione pointedly looked at the clock. Bemused still, Lavender followed her line of vision, and her eyes widened dramatically. She giggled hysterically.
“Merlin! I swear it was, like, twelve o’ clock just seconds ago! Hermione! You aren’t meaning to pull any dirty tricks, right? I mean…” She trailed off with another set of giggles.
It was moments such as these that made Hermione wish she were elsewhere. She mentally cursed the boys who'd deserted her. How had she managed to let them go alone?
Pulling herself out of the battles of her own mind, Hermione answered Lavender with a slight yawn and shake of head. Her tired eyes begged to shut down for the day, but Lavender had accompanied her and begun this ‘important conversation’ hours ago and still showed no indication of stopping. Even after Parvati had fallen asleep, Lavender had continued.
It was another fifteen minutes before Lavender’s one-sided rant died down. Lavender was nice enough, but lately she was having these giggling fits which, in Hermione's opinion, weren’t all that healthy. With another pat of her pillow and comfortable silence in the dorm, Hermione’s chocolate eyes closed for a scheduled four-hour sleep.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. The four hour sleep went just beyond seven hours, and Hermione literally awakened as she fell out of her bed. She rushed to get a quick bite of breakfast with tangled hair, bloodshot eyes, and a hassled expression. With the last slice of bread still in her hand, she hurried out of the Great Hall, breaking into a run. She tried to gather her thoughts and recollect where she should be heading to.
Was it Potions? No. She couldn’t see any fellow classmates on the way to dungeon.
Still preoccupied with her musings, she stopped the running only to check her timetable. Her brain drew a blank, and the neat columns of her detailed timetable didn't help. Placing a hand on the top of her head, she let her bag drop to the floor.
Which day of the week was this? Slightly puzzled by her peculiar predicament, Hermione looked around. There wasn't a single being in sight.
She blinked a couple of times, hoping the scene would change. When nothing happened, Hermione felt unease creep in.
This isn't normal!
Slowly, her brows furrowed. A sinking feeling began to fill her as she finally began to notice the missing din of students, the sound of the hurried footsteps of last minute rushers, and, for that matter, the clinking of spoons way back in the Great Hall. She looked down at the bread she still held in her hand and narrowed her eyes. Was it poisoned?
What was happening in here?
“Ouch,” she swore from the pain caused by a self-inflicted pinch. It stung and left an angry red patch on her arm. Eyes closed, she leaned back against the wall, feeling exhausted, and not just from the run. Perhaps this is one of those ‘vivid’ dreams, she thought. It felt all too real
Ten minutes later, she was still standing alone with no indication of any waking up from a dream. Determined to get through this nightmare, or whatever this was, Hermione jogged back to her dorm to see if anyone was there, just in case. As she’d predicted, there wasn’t, and Hermione hurried out out. At the very end of the portrait hole, she tripped and hurt her toe. It was only then that she noticed that, despite her cries of pain, even the fat lady seemed to be fast asleep and unresponsive.
With a cluck of annoyance, Hermione moved on, trying as much as she could to mask her growing panic. She darted forward searching for someone, anyone. The deserted nature of the castle was threatening to choke her. The stone hallways seemed to mock her. As she climbed down the narrow, rickety stairs, her heart sped up furiously. A shiver ran down her body at the sight of the suit of armour, which glinted eerily.
She hurried downwards, trying to concentrate on the path ahead. There was an empty corridor, at the end of which a stone gargoyle stood guard. She knew it lead to the Headmaster’s quarters. Even so, the unmoving gargoyle seemed to threaten her. Legs shivering and palms slippery, she was sure she wouldn’t find anyone.
Before she even reached the ground floor, she found someone. In that instant, all the thoughts of impending doom were buried in the back of her mind. Relief washed through her senses as she rushed forward to greet the person. Her relief, however, was short lived.
For there he stood, a very familiar blond, obstructing the light of early morning.
Hesitantly, Hermione spoke. “Is that you, Malfoy?”
Not far from the castle, two men clad in black looked at each other and smiled.
It had begun.
Author's Note: And thus begins my yet another story! Sit back and try to enjoy the ride! (Hopefully) And as always, PLEASE REVIEW! Criticisms and all!
EDITED!! Thanks to my lovely beta reader Jessie aka JLHufflepuff ^_^
He did not move, but his body stiffened visibly. A small frown was taking its place on his handsome face. Draco Malfoy, for the umpteenth time that day, was nonplussed.
The approaching footsteps seemed like the only sound in the vicinity. Malfoy cringed and slowly turned around.
He wished he hadn’t.
It was as though his worst fear was coming true. Stuck with a mudblood! Could there be something more horrific? Just one look at her face made him want to bash her against something. Hard. But he did the one thing which he knew would get to her.
He smirked, that smug smile and it got on her nerves. Just like predicted. Ms. Know-it-all faltered with her face a mask of loathing and fury.
“My, didn’t expect that you’d approach me to confess your inferiority. I still won’t let you replace my house elf, Granger. So there still isn’t a vacancy for you.”
With a roll of her eyes, she stood with her hands crossed over her chest, “When did I ever give you the impression that I’d be begging you for vacancy, Malfoy?” she spat.
“Pity. I thought you updated yourself, Granger. Haven’t you been subscribing to The Daily Prophet lately?” He gave her a once over before leaning comfortably against the wall, enjoying the humiliation he was causing her.
“That’s a whole lot of rubbish, Malfoy, you know it as well as I do.”
“I do not think so. Muggle-borns like you are the first victims of the Dark Lord. No one wishes to keep you in employment as you practically attract the Death Eaters abode. So, when you complete your seventh year of Hogwarts, you’ll probably starve, that is if you wish to still stay in this world of us wizards. I must say, it has been infected by the likes of you for far too long.”
“Or maybe you’re just trying to rub it in since it’s you who is insecure of your standing, Malfoy? After all, you weren’t declared as the Head Boy, were you? Or is it because you’ve never ever managed to beat me in anything? Or has your Dark Lord not accepted you?” she snickered with a sense of satisfaction as she witnessed the change in his composure. “Or was it the punch way back in the third year? What is it, Malfoy? What is it that has made you hate yourself?”
“Nice try, mudblood, but as you can see, all those aren’t going to change the future. Your future. Future of filthy vermin like you.” He spread his hand in mock defeat. “I admit that I do not posses the ability to cram and reproduce bookish knowledge unlike you, but may I remind you that should there be a duel between the two of us, you wouldn’t stand a chance?”
Hermione bristled, her eyes blazing with anger, her face taunt, and her hands clenched into a fist.
“Tsk. Did I just hit a nerve?”
“What are you doing here? Where is everybody?” she snapped, no longer keen in this verbal sparring with him.
He shrugged, with an air of indifference. “How am I to know? I am not you, Granger. In fact, I am surprised you haven’t figured it out yet. You always have solutions ready, so solve it.” The sentence was so overdone with sarcasm and Hermione knew it. Gritting her teeth, Hermione started the counting of numbers in reverse order starting from 100 to ease her nerves.
He’s just trying to irk you. Relax.
It took twenty counts before the fake smile was finally back in place. Malfoy watched it all with curiosity, but said nothing. He was awaiting her comeback which would provide him an opportunity to insult her with his own response, again.
“I’m flattered, Malfoy. Sometimes I wish there was something I could do to bring you out of your depression of being a loser.”
Malfoy sneered. “Not working, Granger,” he said, inching forward a little threateningly.
Unfazed, Hermione went on, folding her arms. “Admit it, Malfoy. You’re a loser, a wizard who turned into a ferret and has absolutely no self esteem whatsoever. I think you need to meet a healer and undergo some therapy.”
His face twisted with distaste. “Shrinks? You must know about them. Frequent visitor?”
“Not at all.” she replied coolly, giving him a hard stare.
“Thanks for the concern and all that, Granger," he waved his hand in dismissal, "but I think you’re just voicing aloud your own fears about yourself. And don’t thank me for helping you figure that out,” he said with a melodramatic gesture, avoiding any appreciation.
Her smile was icy and her glare the likes of a dagger.
“Cut the crap, Malfoy and get to the point. Why are we the only two inhabitants here?”
She could feel a slow headache forming behind her temple. Thanks to Malfoy, they seem ready to explode with the passage of every minute.
Malfoy shrugged. “I don’t know, but let me assure you I am not enjoying your company.”
Malfoy looked around thoughtfully, pondering over her question before shaking his head. If only he could send a message to his father. But Lucius Malfoy was still locked up in Azkaban.
“Where’s Potter? Missing too?” he asked just for the sake of it.
Hermione frowned. “He did not come back to school, if you remember.”
Exasperated now, Hermione rolled her eyes. “Quit the attitude, Malfoy. You sound like you're five.”
“Do I even need to say that I don’t have to necessarily do what you command me to, Granger?”
Hermione stared at him before giving up all together. With a glare she began walking in his direction. Malfoy backed away from her. Just when he thought she’d punch him, Hermione moved right past him. Breathing a sigh of relief, Draco Malfoy followed her outside, but didn’t peruse her further. There were far more important things at hand which needed to be figured out. Thus irking Granger wasn't an option, however entertaining it may seem.
Had he followed her, he too would have witnessed the spectacular event that followed.
Author's Note: Yes! Not much I admit! But I was just so overwhelmed that I posted the next chapter quickly! ^_^ As always a BIG FAT THANKS with loads of NICETIES to all those reviewers for their words of encouragement! I'll forever be indebted to you! And please, I want to be indebted to many, so REVIEW!
She was fuming still, her hair astray and her cheeks flushed. Draco Malfoy was a prick! He had a knack of making every nerve in her body throb in pure unadulterated anger. The pace of her heart beat was rather erratic from the encounter. She’d let him manipulate her, hadn’t she? Every point he’d put through had felt like a stab, but on the contrary none of her pathetic statements managed to ruffle him. Save for a couple.
Good biting comebacks. That’s what she should have come up with. But that necessitated her to be calm and not let her emotions override the common sense. She knew her anger was justified. Nightmare or not, it was too much to be in the presence of Malfoy.
Thinking back, she felt that perhaps she should have let the emotions supersede her after all…and readily given into the urge of punching him.
It'd have helped rid her frustration. ‘Beat the bloody pulp’ like Ron would’ve said.
Somehow the thought of Ron stung. It brought her back to the reality. They weren't here with her. How was she to find them, to inform them? She broke into cold sweat as she was again harshly made to realize that she was unaided. Her walking had almost slowed to a mere dragging of the feet. Tears filled her eyes as she looked around at the empty surroundings.
Vision blurred and overcome by the feeling of loneliness, she almost missed the change in the air around her. Slowly her body sensed the sudden chill which bit at her warm body. Hermione shivered and wiped her eyes, looking around, puzzled. Was she hallucinating?
Get a grip. You're being paranoid.
She could hear the roar of waves which brought a frown. Inching towards the lake, she witnessed its transformation from a mere line of blue-green to angry ocean-like water. A tiny gasp escaped her mouth at what she witnessed. Her mind was screaming to her, to run, to move away for lakes ordinarily didn’t have waves so ferocious.
Something was terribly wrong, and yet she found her legs move on their own accord towards the source of what she thought was danger.
At the very center she could see the water turning into a glacier. Her legs froze before buckling and throwing her to the ground. Crawling closer, she watched in amazement as the water rose upwards before freezing into a statue.
A human form.
And just as fast as it had begun, the lake stilled into an innocent river bed, with only the circle of glacier in the very centre, an evidence to what had happened before. Lost for words, she sat there for what seemed like hours, but in reality was merely a few seconds.
A loud clap of lightning raked the ground and struck the ice. The sound made her jump. Slowly, the glass broke and something fell forward on the hard water which remained still.
Or rather someone.
The ‘someone’ had red hair and a lanky body, which was now frozen to the roots.
He didn't move, he wasn’t even breathing. Hermione's breath hitched, and she felt like a ton of bricks had hit her chest. It suddenly seemed too much to even look.
A distant sound of sobbing could now be heard - clear and sorrowful cry of a troubled soul. It felt like someone was persistently stabbing her heart. Her eyes moved while her legs betrayed her. There...she saw him. Another shock rippled through her body when she found the person who sat weeping.
Dragging herself now, she moved closer to him. If there was one person who needed some consolation more than herself, it was him.
“It was all my fault,” she heard him whisper. She wanted to reach forward, to pull him into a hug, to tell him he couldn't blame himself, but words failed her as he looked up at her.
His eyes were tormented, his spectacles broken; dry blood remained on his robes and his face was slashed. The scar on his forehead was outlined in red and blood seeped down.
“Harry, Harry,” she began when she found her voice. She tried to touch him, wanting to reassure him, but her fingers found thin air. He was transparent strangely, reminding her of a projected image.
He watched her as a bitter smile crossed his lips. “No Hermione, I killed him, if it hadn’t been for me-”
“Sssh, Harry. Please, it wasn’t your fault.”
His eyes turned distant though, and he didn't try to hide the tears that fell. And she realized she was crying too. There was another clap of thunder before their tears mixed with the pouring rain.
Ronald Weasley. Her best friend. A person she’d loved, now lay motionless. The cutting breeze no longer seemed cold enough.
Had it been just few hours ago that everything around her seemed so normal and merry? It seemed like ages ago. The tears had slowly resided until she was left with hiccoughs and dry throat. Harry, still transparent, sat beside her, silent and distant.
“Hermione?” he asked, his voice determined.
She turned to look at him and attempted a smile, failed terribly, and nodded asking him to proceed.
“This battle, without Dumbledore, is lost.”
“Don’t say that Harry,” she chided her voice sharp. “I told you…I should’ve come with you…”
“No. I would’ve just lost both of you. No thanks, Hermione. I’m happy with one dead friend, I don’t want to perform an encore.”
“What happened? How did he…” She trailed off, looking back into the lake. Strange as it was, Ron still remained where he was, with the base of frozen water supporting him.
Harry shook his head. “Malfoy.”
“Lucius Malfoy along with dozens of other Death Eaters are at their work. I do not know why the students of Hogwarts are missing.” He stopped and looked at Hermione. “They are, aren’t they?” Hermione nodded mutely, and Harry’s face tightened before he looked away.
“What does it all mean, Harry? I heard you say that you’ve found a horcrux and everything was going according to plan, even Ron seemed cheery. What happened?”
“I found one horcrux, but somehow, in the process I seem to have alerted the Death Eaters, they’re everywhere. Ron and I have been hiding. I’ve been in contact with Mr. Weasley, who wasn’t all that happy that I was going all by myself, right? But he helped me get back into Grimmauld place. I’ll explain all that later. But at the moment, there is one threat, Hermione. I don’t know how you survived, but I’m very sure that Draco Malfoy is still here for a purpose. Maybe he already knows about it. Maybe he doesn’t.” He stopped for a minute, allowing her to absorb all that he'd said.
Realization dawned. “You think Malfoy might be used against me?”
“Not just you, he could be the main tool. I don’t think you’re the only two people here, there might be others also. I wish I knew what they were all planning. But I have one request to put forth-”
“Ginny! Oh God!”
Confused, Harry questioned, “What?”
"Ginny has been missing! I just realized. I didn’t spot her around since…a long time now. I thought maybe she wanted to be left alone after you guys..." She trailed off, "but come to think of it, none of us had any clue about her whereabouts! Oh God, Harry…”
It was as if someone suddenly enlightened him before Harry realized that it was Ginny who was missing.
“Oh…” he said a little…baffled?
“I’m sorry, Harry. I know you two…”
That’s when it happened. A realization hit and he almost fell back. “Merlin…” he breathed.
“Maybe we’ll find her, Harry. Just…what were you about to say?”
There was a silence which followed before Harry gathered himself and his voice turned emotionless. “I can’t physically be here, Hermione. It’s complicated. But one thing is for sure, I need you to do me a favour,” he said, looking straight at her.
Something stirred inside her and a chill ran down her spine. Harry…it was as if he’d transformed into a cold distant animal with the fire ignited within, the flames of which she could see churning in his eyes.
“What?” she whispered croakily.
“I want Draco Malfoy dead.”
Author's Note: Yes, I know you probably find it to be a little confusing, or more, but I promise it'll all fill in perfectly by the end of it. And! Just like some of you requested, this chapter has been lengthened! By almost twice the first chapter! ^_^ Yes, so now, please me by REVIEWING! I love you all for your awesome feedbacks! As always, criticisms and appreciations if any are WELCOMED! I hope you liked the chapter too ^_^ Thus begins the unfurling of the plot ^_^
It was still raining. She felt the cold seep deep into her skin. Her tears over Ron would probably never end. Why did it have to be this way? Memories of the past spent with him were traumatizing her. It was killing as her mind replayed the last moments she’d been in his presence. He had seemed so brave when he smiled one last time, after giving her sound advice which she’d disapproved, before leaving. It hurt.
And then there was Harry. As sorrowed as she was by the death of Ron she couldn’t ignore those last words uttered by Harry which continued to resonate in her mind. She’d tried to reason with herself that it would do the world a good. Almost convinced herself that the wizarding world would be better off without the likes of Malfoy. But the fact remained.
Draco Malfoy – an ugly git, famous ferret of their age, the most obnoxious moron, someone who deserved more than anyone to die – was all but a human being. A life. The image of his blood splashed against her palm was sickening.
And yet. She’d do it. With all her might, even if it meant her ultimate death. What had Malfoy said? Yes. She probably didn’t stand a chance.
No. I can’t do this!
Thunder resounded, the raging rain an imagery of the turmoil in her mind. It was the toughest battle she’d face – the battle with her mind, the one which would go on forever, until it all ended.
Hours later, the rain had mellowed to a mere drizzle. Hermione lay curled up like a ball with her teeth chattering in the cold. Slowly, the bodily pain and cold brought her out of the reverie. Alone and helpless, she let her eyes close down for just a moment. Her tears over the lost friend could wait. Hell! Draco Malfoy could wait too. The exhausting and biting pain wouldn’t.
By dawn, Hermione had pulled herself together. Returning to the dormitory seemed a lot tougher than ever. Yet, she moved on with determined strides. It took her another hour to shower and refresh herself. After grabbing some food to gobble onto (which, miraculously still appeared without any prompting at the Great Hall) she began her mission.
For the next one hour she was busied in the search of Malfoy. It puzzled her to know she didn’t find him at any of the common locations. The Slytherin Dormitory seemed as a likely place but she didn’t find him there either. It was fortunate that her Head Girl status permitted her access to almost all the passwords and thus allowed her the advantage of thorough search.
Discouraged but not defeated, Hermione tried the room of requirement but it was still open which meant that there wasn’t anyone inside. In the haste she didn’t realize that she could probably use the room to spot Draco if she so needed.
Thankfully, she’d reached only two steps downstairs when she heard an amused and irksome voice of the devil himself.
“That’s a lot of searching you’re doing there Granger,”
Just listening to him annoyed her. Her clasp on the wand tightened as she turned around to face him. Had he been watching her all the while–
“Yes of course I was Granger,” he replied answering her silent musings as he strolled over, his long cloak gliding behind, giving him the look of a Dracula. Hermione smirked at the thought of him being buried inside a coffin in the near future. With him standing right in front of her, the moral reasoning flew right out of her mind. All of a sudden, killing him didn’t feel all that bad a prospect. In fact, she was looking forward to it.
“Malfoy,” she said nodding at him as though addressing him for the first time.
His eyebrows rose and he gave her a curt nod.
With a flicker of a movement Hermione swished her wand out and with not so much as a warning uttered the first spell, “Avada Kedavra,”
Shock registered his face as the spell hit him squarely in the chest. With a dull thud his body fell down, lifeless.
Hermione sat up, cold sweat dripping down her forehead. The hammering of her heart was all she heard. A look around, made her realize she was still on the ground. Bright sunshine caressed her face and yet she shivered re-living the dream.
Just a dream. Just a dream. Just a Dream.
Alien moans were emitted by her unconsciously. She tried to stop the shivering but her attempts were wasted. Pulling her leg close to her chest she did the one thing she could.
She cried every tear she could shed. She cried over Ron, whom she would never see. She cried for those she knew wouldn’t survive. She cried for herself, for the murderer she had to turn.
Because deep down there still remained the nagging feeling of something not being right. She would probably never know about it. It must be the loss of Ron, she thought. That must be the only reason for her indecision, or was it indifference? Whatever may it be, the fact would remain that Hermione Granger, a girl of knowledge in the past would now turn into a warrior.
If only she could convince her heart that it was all worthwhile and just.
Somehow she’d managed to twist her ankle and her lack of wand (which, she realized she’d left it in the dormitory) made her unable to do anything about it. Blotchy eyes looked around as she finally managed to drag herself inside the hallway. Silence reined, with her laboured breath the only sound around.
Like the blind, she resolved to seek the help of the walls.
Drag. Drag. Drag. Stop. Breathe. Drag. Drag. Drag. Stop. Breathe deeply. Drag. Drag-
Her pattern was shattered as she collided into an unseen obstacle and tripped.
Draco Malfoy watched in glee as she lost her balance and fell face first onto the floor. He heard her moan and his joy showed by the full throttled laughter which echoed. Regaining his composure a moment later he moved till he stood right in front of her. Hermione looked up at him as he smirked.
“It amazes me that you would resort to falling at my feet to worship me Granger,”
Steel gray eyes looked back at her, “Can't swear Granger?”
Hermione tried to stand up and succeeded too. With a glare, she attempted to bring her fist forward for a punch but the sudden moment caused her to lose her poise and pulled her back down all over again.
“Piteous,” Malfoy commented with a snicker before he moved away, “I wish you good day Granger,” he continued before turning around to leave. The sound of his high heeled shoes echoed and finally there was the silence.
“Draco…” she panted as she stood, “…Malfoy. Await your death for there is no stopping me anymore,”
Just the thought of it allowed her to make it all the way back to the dormitory.
Author's Note: Hmmm. Just the annoying pig, isn't he? Well can't change that! XD Hope you did however enjoy the chapter. Itz not a filler or anything. This chapter was to show just how bad a person Malfoy is (though we already know that, yeah?) and to prove am not changing it at all! As always, thanks to all your lovely reviews! And continue the same ^_^ With much love. Jan.
P.S. My internet is being an ass, so had a little bit of problem loading this, so pardon me if you find me gone for a few days, I'll be back FOR SURE! And lot many of my lovely reviewers were found missing, I shall award an E-HUG/KISS/CHOCOLATE/ICE-CREAM for anyone who finds them! Or if they find themselves without other's help XD
The ticking of the clock felt like a hammer pounding into her head. With every passing minute, Hermione’s frustration grew. Another piece of parchment fell ungraciously into the fire before it disappeared with a hiss. Distractedly, Hermione toyed with a lose curl, as her brain was bombarded with hundreds of self formulated ideas, none logical.
And it wasn't helping that her mind was assaulted by the image of a red head. Too many thoughts, too many memories, too many fears.
What had happened to everybody? Will she ever find out? Was there even a chance of making through all of this, alive? Not that she wanted to live anyway.
The sight of the flames licking hungrily at the air was mesmerizing. Her eyes felt heavy as she continued to stare at the orange of fire, before shaking her head. A dull headache was settling in the back of her head. Sitting up, Hermione rubbed her head trying to rid the pain.
So far, the only plausible plan she’d gotten was hexing Malfoy into oblivion while he slept. But there was just one small problem with that one, Draco Malfoy didn’t just fall asleep in her presence. Maybe she’d drug him…
Ugh, this is insane!
Who knew it took so much of planning to do away with the irksome blokes who always wore a pathetic smirk and had a heart, the like of venomous snakes.
With another cluck of annoyance, Hermione stood up. It wasn’t long before she exited the company of the genial common room to the cold grounds. A smile touched her lips as she witnessed the serenity of her surroundings, with the setting sun being replaced by the milk white moon. In leisurely pace, she continued to stroll down the grounds before stopping all together.
How in the name of God did she always find him? Thankfully, she hadn’t made the fatal mistake of approaching him. With quiet footsteps, she moved unnoticed, standing just a few feet away from him. A frown formed on her face as she looked at him.
As the moon light cascaded, every feature of Malfoy became highlighted. Maybe it was the moonlight which deceived her eyes. Because he stood there with an alien look on his face. It was a kind of melancholic wistful expression instead of the familiar pompous sneer that he always wore. Arching her eyebrows slightly bemused, she watched as he sighed and kicked a stone and watched till it drowned into the water.
“I’m messed up,” she heard him say, “Messed up sad fucking worthless excuse for a wizard,”
Now that definitely caught her attention. Fighting the urge to get away from her hiding with a delighted ‘ha ha I won!’ exclamation, she watched him silently.
Nearly fifteen minutes later, Malfoy was still stood where he was staring off into space, unfocused. The initial pump of adrenaline had vanished. The anxiety of stumbling into some unexpected clue to…to…what, she wasn’t sure, had rooted her foot to the ground. But she finally gave up. Nothing would come out of this.
Deciding that it was time she moved out she turned around to leave, only to have a twig of the tree, whose shelter she’d chosen, tug forcefully at her. With a gasp, she slammed against the tree letting out a small quiet cry due to the unexpectedness.
“Who’s there?” she heard Malfoy’s wary voice.
Shocked now, she tried to stay put. Her hands shivered as she clasped them over her mouth to stop the sound of her ragged breathing.
She heard footsteps approach in her direction. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead. The thought of him catching her hiding behind a tree was appalling. Deep down she knew the reason why she felt this fear. Because deep down, she knew she’d stepped into his personal moment.
A moment of silence followed as Malfoy stood scanning around. Hermione was quite sure she was well hidden (thanks to the departure of sun) and wouldn’t be found unless he undertook a thorough search for any intruders.
To her greatest relief he moved away a minute later, his tread quick. After making absolutely sure that he was gone well away from her, Hermione came out of her little hiding.
Looking around with great stealth, she made her way back to the castle. The thumping of her heart had not quite reached the normal levels, when she heard a whisper of ‘lumos’ followed by a flicker of light. Every part of her body except for her eyes stopped functioning, as she stood stunned under the penetrating gaze of Malfoy, who was about a foot away.
His lips were set in a thin line. There was a cracking sound which she was sure were from his fists clenching together.
“So,” he said his voice colder than ever before.
Silence was the only response he received.
“How long have you been eavesdropping?”
Her palms were sweating as she turned away to avoid the ferocious glare. Wetting her lips, she concentrated on the wall to her side with sudden fascination.
“What is with you people? The Potter-clans! It’s driving me nuts, all right? I don’t need any extra serving of botheration. Can you people just…leave me fucking alone?”
It was sheer valiantness on her part when she turned back to meet his gaze. But he seemed disgusted to even see her. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was mildly surprised and puzzled.
She was surprised to find that her voice hadn’t wavered. On the contrary, she was proud of the fact that she sounded pretty confident and undisturbed. Now if only she could convince her body to follow suite…
A bark of laughter startled her into stumbling backwards slightly. Frowning she tucked a strand of lose curl behind her ear looking at him nervously. This didn’t feel very comfortable. The unexpected laughter stopped abruptly before he savagely pushed her against the wall. Little stars formed in front of her eyes as her head hit the wall.
“Maalfoy!” she cried in a week attempt of protest as her voice cracked.
There was a glint in his eyes as he looked at her, amused now.
“Tell me Granger,” he began using his wand to tilt her chin upwards, “How does it feel to be manhandled?”
The pressure of the wand grinding into her chin increased to painful levels. She tried to pry herself away from him by hitting him, but he captured both of her hands in his powerful ones.
“Let go!” she hissed as tears formed from the pain he was causing.
“Doesn’t feel good, eh?”
She could feel his breath on her face as he moved closer to her. Afraid about what would happen, her struggles increased, “MALFOY!”
And he let her go, stepping away. He sneered at her, “That’s what I feel when you invade my personal space and manhandle my emotions. Stay away from me!”
Too stunned to speak, she watched as he turned around and left. She looked down at her wrists which had turned a shade of red. With great delicacy, she touched her chin and winced as she felt a tiny drop of sticky liquid. Leaning back against the wall, she slowly slid down and pulled her knees close to her as tears threatened to pour down.
Breathing heavily she managed to calm herself down before collecting her pitiful self together and walking back to her room. Slowly, she sunk into a restless stupor.
Author's Note: Yes! Am back! w00t! Exams done! So, the first thing I do you ask? Update my story! Thanks for all your wonderful support! Eh, I was feeling positively negative while writing this story. Oooh! Oxymoron! Anyway, I hope my foul mood isn't reflected in here. Hm, the foul mood was later made all betta by mah darling sister, nonetheless! I still wonder if you've enjoyed the chapter. Let me know won't you? *cough*REVIEW*cough*
Hermione's mind was a rollercoaster of emotions.
How long will I keep crying over everything? Worrying about things over which I have absolutely no control?
She had a mission, a goal to achieve. It wasn’t any consolation that the war was now in full force, but it could at least be useful if she pushed herself into action.
With the amount of crying I am doing right now, I’m sure as hell not going to accomplish anything.
It had been two days since she'd met Malfoy. After the incidence during her last meet, Malfoy seemed to be avoiding her. Every time he noticed her presence, he would abruptly turn his direction and walk away. It was strange and…unnerving.
Hermione sighed, prodding the ground vigorously, drawing illegible patterns with a small twig, as she sat in the grounds. It was aggravating, the fact that she was here sitting all by herself doing absolutely nothing while Harry was fighting away, God knew what dangers. She looked skywards making a small prayer for the well being of her dear friend.
Unbeknown to her, a pair of grey eyes followed her every movements with a silent frown. All this would have been far less complicating had he been left to figure out to get the hell away all by himself. Or would it? It was making him irksome, the fact that it had been almost a week since he had been here and yet he couldn’t find a way out.
The silence around him was getting to him. Not to mention the fact that the last conversation he had had with his mother was creating unease in his mind. She had been behaving strangely, with a lot of puzzles and hint of hidden tears as she'd spoke to him. And it didn’t help that he found everybody gone the following day.
He decided it was time he stopped avoiding Granger. After all, given the situation, however blood curling prospect it was, he could help with a little bit of help, even if from a mudblood. Everything about Granger screamed danger sign in big block red letters, but it had to be done.
It took a lot of convincing on his part to actually move away from his comfortable position against the wall, where he stood leaning nonchalantly. He still wasn’t happy with the fact that she had been eavesdropping; more so that she might have heard things he didn’t want anyone to hear. There was tumult in his mind which he needed to figure out himself.
With one last resolute nod Draco approached her with quick steps, “Granger,” he said trying to sound less cold, but failing miserably.
Startled, Hermione turned around to look up at him. Her eyebrows rose as she saw the majesty himself standing with his hands buried deep into his pocket and his face…she wasn’t sure what his expression meant. But it wasn’t the usual sneer. Puzzled, she nodded her head in acknowledgement, “Malfoy,” she returned before looking away, not really interested in another round of abuse.
Malfoy rolled his eyes, “Get up,” he commanded.
“No, I’m very comfortable here, thank you,” Hermione replied pulling her legs close to her chest and sighing wistfully.
“If this is your idea of pissing me off Granger, then-”
“I didn’t invite you here Malfoy. So, I sure as hell can do whatever I please,”
“Fuck you Granger.”
She looked up this time and gave him a cold smile, “Sod off Malfoy,” she replied evenly.
Drawing in a sharp breath, he glared at her, “Like its not hard enough Granger. In spite of everything, I come down to speak to you and you won’t even appreciate it,”
Hermione scowled and stood up facing him, “Malfoy, let me make this absolutely clear to you: I do not feel the need to celebrate when the great ferret graces me with a visit. Or didn’t you already know that I’m not among those who sign in to join your fan club? As much as it might be a blow to your ego, I’m very sorry to announce, it still remains to be the absolute fact. So, with that clear, I hope you will not bother me again or expect me to squeal with delight on spotting you. Now if you will,” she moved to walk past him, only to be stopped.
“You think I forgave you for what you did? Prying into my personal matters? Because if you did-”
Hermione laughed, “Malfoy? Shut up. The world doesn’t revolve around you. If you’re blind enough to perceive that I’m in here trying to beg your Highness’s clemency, I would, yet again, love to put forth another fact into your thick head. In all honesty, I do not care about you in the least bit. Or to put it more bluntly,” she stopped to give him a hard stare, “I don’t give a damn,”
The furiousness exhibited on his face made Hermione soar with sheer delight. Maybe she did need to give herself some credit and stop beating herself up. Sure it wasn’t going like she wanted it to, and maybe she shouldn’t have said all those things and ruined her chances of befriending him and finishing him off, but who cared? It felt good and it was a feeling she needed to savour at the moment. Having had the last say, Hermione braced herself against the wind and moved back towards the castle, with a saintly smile plastered across her face.
Draco Malfoy was still standing in the very spot, as the wind claimed his cloak leaving him at the mercy of the cold, “Granger, it’s just the beginning,” he muttered smirking to himself.
Hermione was lost. The castle, which had for so long been a familiar place, suddenly seemed like an alien territory. Though the basic locations were the same, there were places she had never seen before. If only there was Harry and Ron with her, they’d know. After all, who else would you turn to for best guidance other than the ones who did a lot of sneaking business at Hogwarts?
The astronomy tower looked a little too small from where she stood, but it reassured her. Everything was all right. She just hadn’t explored this part of the castle. Calmed now, she moved on trying to figure out if there was any way out of here.
As she proceeded, ducking into rooms and escaping the wrath of a few old antiques which seemed eager to fall atop her, she heard someone speak – swear rather.
Hermione stopped feeling a tad jittery. Slowing her pace to baby steps, she tip toed towards the direction of the voice. A sigh of exasperation escaped her lips as she came face to face with Malfoy, nearly avoiding the fatal bump.
“Malfoy?” she asked feeling goaded.
“What are you doing here?”
“Just what you are, finding a way out,”
With a roll of her eyes she moved away, putting a good one foot distance between them. It was claustrophobic being so close to the prat. Hermione straightened her skirt as she proceeded further in her journey to ‘Seek the Treasure’, er, way out. Chuckling at her own childishness, she moved on.
“Spot something funny Granger?” Malfoy asked moving past her to get something.
Hermione ignored him as she tried to open a new found door to her right with an ‘Alahomora’ which didn’t work. Malfoy had the audacity to laugh at her, “What?” she asked whirling around to look at him, her wand pointed directly at him.
Malfoy snickered, “Hold on there Granger, you don’t want to kill me,”
“Wouldn’t you be surprised to know?” she said with an air of enigma before turning back to scrutinize the door.
“Hm, maybe so. But, you sure as hell can’t,” he grinned.
She studied him through the corners of her eye, “Why the flippant attitude towards me Malfoy? You have been a lot chirpier than usual today,”
“I just found out something. Of course I am chirpy,”
“That’s so not like you,”
“I don’t think you even qualify the standard to judge people so easily Granger,”
“Now that is more Malfoy-ish,” she mumbled.
Malfoy sighed, “You never let me speak civilly Granger.”
“Civil? You and me?” Hermione laughed, “Don’t kid me Malfoy. You know that’s impossible,”
“Under normal circumstances, yes it is. But if you ever plan to get out of here, then team work would be more useful than figuring it out all alone,”
“What are you getting at Malfoy? I smell something fishy,”
“Get your sense organs checked Granger. I assure you it’s just as embarrassing to seek your company,”
“You have finally realized the importance of brains over brawns?”
“Did I claim you had any? I just thought it would be better,” he shrugged, “I might as well go on without the layman’s assistance,”
Hermione growled at him tugging forcefully at the lock. With a click, the lock came off letting the door slide open. Following the routine of checking every room, Hermione peeped inside the dark room. The stench was unbearable. Instantly nauseated, Hermione covered her mouth and nose before carefully entering the room.
Rats scurried past her making her let out a small cry.
“Lumos,” she muttered and the entire room was brightened.
Malfoy followed her inside looking around, “Smells positively disgusting,” his eyes traveled around before it stopped at where Granger stood motionless.
“Granger?” he asked moving towards her and looking where she was.
“My God,” she whispered finally as her legs gave out and she fell to the ground in an ungraceful pile.
Lying on the ground, unconscious and pest infested was the Weasley girl who’s name Malfoy couldn’t remember.
Author's Note: I AM EXTRMELY SORRY! I know, I know. But I was buried in academic work! Not to mention eligibility exams this sunday :( Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Thanks to all the support/criticisms/appreciation! I luff them all! Ta for now. OH! I made the chapter LONGER didya see? Please excuse any errors cuz I wrote this all in a span of 2 hours...PUHLEASE! Heh. But do point them out!
It took her another fifteen minutes to cajole Malfoy into carry Ginny back to their dormitories. Malfoy was disgusted at the sight of Ginny. But there wasn’t anything to be done. He suggested her that she should levitate the filthy rag herself before leaving her alone to handle the problem. Hermione was fuming at him as she tried single handedly to lift Ginny and fell down with a small howl.
“Merlin,” she muttered to herself. Hoping that it would do some good, she performed some charm to remove the basic stench and infection around before attempting to lift her up once more.
Hermione almost managed to reach the door when she tripped and fell all over again, the heavy weight of Ginny atop her. With a gasp she tried to regain the breath that was knocked out of her when she felt the weight lift off her.
“Bloody hell Granger, you and your stubbornness,” Malfoy muttered eyeing her new bruise on the head.
Looking up, Hermione saw Ginny in air like some estranged spirit. Her legs shivered as she attempted to stay up. The shock had still not resided at the ghastly sight. Mumbling a brief thank you, Hermione moved ahead of them avoiding looking back.
Draco almost dropped the red head in anger.
“Oi! What the do you mean leaving like that?! Please do not even for a moment presume I’m going to bring this rag wherever your highness commands me to. Do what you want with her, I am leaving,”
Draco stopped, turning around to look at her. What had she said? It was far too low a voice for him to hear, “Sorry?”
The brown haired turned around to look at him, “Malfoy, please, I haven’t any reason to hope you will help me. But could you please just drop her at the Gryffindor common room. I…I can’t bear to do it.”
“I don’t think–”
“Just this once Malfoy. We can go back to being enemies in a bit,”
He hesitated before flash of white hair invaded his mind and a spasm of guilt swept him, “Fine,” he snapped.
Breathing a sigh of relief Hermione allowed a grim smile before walking ahead in unsteady footsteps.
The wounds and infections were healed. Thanks to the healing books Hermione kept, Ginny was yet again breathing normally, but was still just as unconscious. Like a fanatic who seeks to empower his beliefs, Hermione ransacked the library and her closet, pouring over every spell, healing or otherwise, which might help the recovery of Ginny.
Malfoy had briefly come inside the library to ask her how the ‘weasel’ was doing and threw in a few insults her way. But she sensed he wasn’t enjoying the pain he caused her all that much. There was something about his demeanor that was disturbing Hermione. It wasn’t any consolation that she hadn’t gotten much far in her mission to kill Malfoy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be all that difficult anymore, considering the fact that he had not only insulted her but also physically attempted abusing her. But it also dawned on her that there was something he was holding back. Merlin save her if it was anything to do with the ongoing war.
It was this thought that rudely brought her back to the weight of the situation. She accidentally dropped the huge book that she carried which nearly missed hitting her leg.
“YOU UNGRATEFUL DOLT! HOW COULD YOU DROP ME SO CALLOUSLY! I SHA-”
Hermione quickly shut the book breathing heavily. God, not so many shocks please, she thought, as she straightened herself. Gathering all the books (making sure she left the book which she had so unceremoniously dropped) she left the library, marching back to the common room.
“None of those books will work out Granger,” she heard Malfoy drawl.
“Thanks for your assistance,” she said offhandedly before continuing down the stairs.
“She has been stunned,”
“No. That wasn’t a stunning spell they used. I tried the counter curse,” she replied, distracted.
Malfoy chuckled, “There isn’t a counter spell Granger. She’s going to die soon if you don’t hurry with your findings. I think she would love that – dying I mean. You have no idea what her mind is screaming at you right now – kill me,” he said in a high pitched girly voice.
With one quick motion Hermione had cornered Malfoy, her wand on his throat, her eyes glaring at him, “Another word…just one more Malfoy, and I’ll send you to Merlin. Just...shut up,”
Malfoy gaped at her. The feeling of dé‧jà vu overwhelmed him as he remembered the occurrence of similar incident way back in his third year. But he wasn’t that shocked this time. Slowly he pried her hands off him even as she struggled to keep it tight. She let out a small cry as he twisted her arms behind her in one fluid motion.
“Careful Granger or I might kill you,”
“No you ferret boy, I am going to kill you,”
“I don’t think the killing will happen anytime soon. Have you even tried killing someone Granger?” he asked twisting her arms further eliciting tears of pain from Hermione’s eyes. She gasped flailing her arms to get away from him. But he was stronger than her and taller.
“Let go Malfoy, or you’ll regret it,”
“No, really, have you even tried killing Granger? Because let me tell you, it isn’t easy. But I could, because I’m trained to be a killer. I killed Dumbledore, remember Granger?”
“Stuff it Malfoy. I bet it was – ow – Snape, you don’t have the guts for the like,” she screamed as she felt a final twist before it numbed. Frantically, she tried to move away afraid that she would never feel her arms again. She eyed her wand, which had fallen from her grasp, helplessly.
“I am a Malfoy Granger. I’m born assassin. Bringing the Death Eater on the old man’s tow was enough!”
He was yelling now, his face contorted with anger. With a final twist, he let her go as he backed away, “I am a Death Eater, you…you are filthy vermin…you…you…deserve to die!”
Hermione looked up at him, watching the raging battle in his eyes. With a frown she grabbed her wand just as Malfoy was vigorously shaking his head. Was he disillusioned?
“The Dark Lord will take me…I shall be his best disciple…you will see!”
“Malfoy?” Hermione asked unsure.
He stopped as he looked at her, “What am I doing?” he whispered before turning around and gliding away, his cloak following his strides.
Befuddled, Hermione watched as his cloak disappeared with a final swish.
Author's Note:I know a shorter chapter, but quicker update! I am not sure when the next one will come up. Maybe later on Sunday, after I finish writing my exams! Or I just might have a sudden inspirating, like today, and write it! (1 and half hour!) Thanks to all my lovely reviewers as always! You rock guys! And please continue rocking by dropping a REVIEW!!!
It seemed to her a vain attempt to try and decipher the strange happenings of the previous evening. Hermione wanted to ponder over the bizarre behaviour of Malfoy but she knew that her musings needed to wait, for Ginny wouldn’t last that long.
The girl was still looking very much like a pale ragged doll and her breathing was slowly becoming frayed. Hermione had tried her hand with any spell she could come across, but somehow it seemed not to work.
Yes, she most definitely knew it was.
It was frustrating to know that the library had betrayed her. It always was her source for all solutions and now with no aid, she felt very much deserted.
At least Malfoy was keeping away. That should definitely be counted to be a blessing. Eyeing another book she tied her grisly hair in a bun determined to not let herself accept defeat. With a resolute nod, Hermione dug in to the book looking for answers she knew the book wouldn’t give her.
She was looking for miracle here and she believed in miracles as much as she expected Malfoy to run around naked sporting an ‘I love muggles’ message on his rear.
How is it that Malfoy had now become the butt of her metaphors?
Snickering to herself for the first time, she moved on knowing that she was slowly losing her mind.
Yeah, she just had to wait for it.
The pacing around wasn’t helping any. So why wouldn’t he just sit down?
So much for wanting to be civil with Granger!
It just wasn’t possible!
Well…there goes a saying…rather, it was one of his latest inventions, caused from the exposure to filth:
Mudbloods will always remain Mud-fricking-bloods!
Groaning to himself, with his hand balled in a tight fist, Draco looked around. His previous day’s actions had gnawed at him.
Oh, not because he felt guilty for manhandling Granger.
On the contrary, that was the only part which had left him feeling a little satisfied with his actions. The display of passing emotions through her…she'd looked so helpless, furious and terrified all at once. Oh it was one fantastic scene which was worth watching! He was sure he'd savour it for the rest of his life.
And it helped to know that he could overpower her. She wasn’t the one who was punching now, was she? Ha!
He sobered a little when he realized that he’d not only witnessed her emotions but had also let himself exhibit his own array of distraught and confusion. That couldn’t be good, for deep down he knew Granger was smart, as much as he loathed admitting that.
What had he been thinking? Acting like that!
There were a lot of things which was running through his mind these past few days. It was a grave situation; his father would probably strike him with a spear if he heard of the words that escaped his mouth the previous day. It wouldn't take Lucius to understand what his ramblings meant.
Weakness, he'd sneer.
The knowledge that the topics which he hadn’t discussed with his own parents had wrung out of him in the presence of an enemy worried him.
An enemy who was a mudblood.
Sharing his fears and passions with Granger was a real bad thing to do.
And then there was the Weasley girl. He frowned trying to remember. Joy was it? Jen? He was sure it was J something. Ah, whatever crap name that was, nothing could change the fact of what fate awaits her. It didn’t worry him that she was going to die; it just worried him that she’d been found in here. If an immobile and cursed Weasley girl was found in the vicinity of the school, or whatever place this was, it could mean only one thing.
They weren’t alone.
The probability that all this was an excellent set up had been in his mind since the first day he found himself alone. He remembered how it had all begun.
Draco shared a room with Crabbe and Goyle. That day, he'd woken up to the silence around him. When it wasn’t the snores of Goyle or a whining Crabbe that jolted him awake, he knew something was terribly wrong.
Draco frowned. If it was, just for the heck of thinking, a plan of the Dark Lord, why oh why was he alone with a mudblood?
And there was this wretched feeling that he wasn’t alone, that there was someone who was watching his every move. He constantly felt the prickly feeling as the hair on the back of his neck stood upright and an unreasonable tension engulfed him.
It was disconcerting. And it was all the more a reason to work with Granger. The synergy effect?
Right, this called for a round of walk out in grounds. Merlin knew how many times he found himself at the ground and sadly every time he did decided to take a stroll, the aftermath of had always been heartrending.
The worst one outcome of his stroll, as of now, was the meeting with Granger. A growl arose from him at the memory. Like the Malfoy saying goes:
He just knew this was going to happen, didn’t he? Disaster was always at his tow, waiting to overthrow him. It was karma that he had to have his moment of peace shattered. Not a day seemed to pass without a round of verbal sparring with Granger.
There was a look of surprise on her face when he addressed her. Frowning she nodded towards him. To Hermione, looking at him was a painful reminder that she had still no plans to kill him. The very thought made her wince. But of course, she had to first tend to Ginny. Saving life was more important than taking one, wasn’t it?
But she knew deep down that it all came down to one thing – she wasn’t prepared. Every reason of hers was just that – reasons. Excuses.
“Malfoy, fancy seeing you here,” she said coolly edging away from the place.
“Mm, yeah well, I actually didn’t fancy it all that much. But sadly, you did,”
“Grow up ferret boy. That was such an elementary retort,”
A feral grin rose up, “This is kinda becoming a tradition, isn’t it?”
“A very boring one too,” she said faking a yawn.
“So," he began, "have you thought much about being civil and working together?”
“You mean after your polite display of affection the other evening? Most certainly not,”
The grin died on his lips, “Yeah, I wanted to tell you, I didn’t mean that to happen. Just–”
“Is that your way of apologizing, Malfoy?” she asked coyly.
His eyebrows rose a degree, “Of course it wasn’t,”
“You almost fooled me there.”
“I could fool you any day. Considering the fact that I am speaking to an imbecile.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, “My actions speak louder than your words.”
“You mean, your grades speak louder? More like shriek.”
“Jealous much, Malfoy?” she said looking amused.
“I’m sorry, but I saw you turn green, so was making sure,” a lopsided grin appeared on Hermione's lips.
“Granger, don’t test my patience.”
“How in the name of Merlin am I supposed to be civil with you when you are always so...impossible!”
“I never asked you to,” she pointed out folding her arms across her chest and giving him a challenging look.
“I suppose it was an act of insanity to even propose such an idea to you,”
She was silent watching him with a calculated coldness. Was he calling it off at last?
“So are you even going to join forces?”
Hermione tilted her neck slightly to observe him, “Fishy,”
“What?” He edged forward.
“I feel there is a master plan to overpower me behind your facade of wanting to work together. Why are you so bent upon to be pals with me?”
“Team with you, Granger, not be pals with you,”
“Have you ever heard about personal space? You always seem to crowd mine,”
Malfoy blinked before he realized that he had indeed cornered her. With a roll of his eyes he moved away. Hermione looked satisfied. It irked Malfoy to see that serene look of triumph on her face. He opened his mouth to argue when she held her hand up.
“I’m willing to speak terms here, Malfoy,”
Inadvertently his brows rose an inch, “Name them and I promise to consider them with an open mind,” he said with an exaggerated show of civility.
“You help me save Ginny,”
It was G huh? Not J. Dang, almost close though.
“Save who?!” he spat.
“Ginny Weasley. I know you have an idea about what happened to her. Help me heal her Malfoy, and we can work together,”
“This is fucking crazy! It isn’t like am the only one who’s benefiting by these terms of mine Granger. I see no reason to oblige,”
She shrugged, “Suit yourself, you save, we work as a team and get out of this hell hole. You decline,” another shrug, “I don’t mind spending my time here much longer,”
This time he didn’t even bother when she tried to protest his coming any closer.
“Granger, we aren’t alone here, and if we don’t figure a way out, chances are that you’ll soon end up like the Weasley girl did,” he hovered over her.
“Like I said, Malfoy, I don’t, oh how do I put this, ah, yes. I don’t fucking care,” she imitated him as her chocolate eyes glared into his searing ones. The look of intimidation didn’t affect her. If anything, she looked nonchalant even at such close proximity.
Her mind was screaming for her to run.
Malfoy moved away groaning, “Fuck you, Granger,”
Hermione nodded trying not to look too relieved. Her heart was thumping painfully against her ribs as she breathed. However, when she spoke, she knew she sounded calm and collected. “I knew you wouldn’t agree. See you around. Oh if you by chance do get around-”
“Alright,” he said softly.
“– then you – what? What did you say?”
“I said fuck you, Granger,”
She waved her hand impatiently, “No, what did you say after that?”
He took a deep sigh, his hands balling up a fist and his face contorting into a rage field, “I said alright,”
“You mean, alright 'I’ll save Ginny' kinda alright?”
“You look like a dumb golden fish, Granger; I’d close my mouth if I were you,”
She shut her mouth, “At least I resemble gold somewhere, unlike some trash I know,”
“And we’re back to the tradition,” he said dryly. How annoying.
“Alright, I agree to team with you,”
And there was only one word that crossed Malfoy’s mind with a sardonic pinch to the word.
Author's Note: I am TERRIBLY sorry. I'm having my big exams now. It'll go on until the November 7th. This would be my career turning point so I was preparing for them. But my updates would return to normal once am done with it. I was just struck with inspiration to work on this today and here it is!! The next chapter wil be after November 7th I think. Hang on til then! I'll try to supersize the next chapter!! Thanks a lot for your patience :)
“Granger!” Malfoy snapped. He felt jaded in her unceasing presence and wasn’t sure how he was to deal with her.
Hermione paused, her hand still reaching for the book. Slowly, she turned around to look at him through narrowed eyes, which had a strange sparkle in them.
Malfoy rolled his eyes and glared at her, “Stop looking like you’re about to cry,”
“I am not–” she began defensively and her cheeks flushed in indignation.
“Just don’t. I detest tears,” Draco said with an emphatic shake of his head as he slammed the book he was reading on the table.
Hermione winced. A finger jabbed accusingly at him, “You…” and the words just poured out in an outburst, “You know what Malfoy? I think this was a very bad idea. There isn’t a minute where you’ve treated me like a human. All you’ve done is insulted me, looked down upon me and bad mouthed me. I am–”
“Backing off?” he asked, his voice holding a dare, “Aren’t you going to comply with our agreement?”
There was a rustle as Hermione moved from where she stood to reach for the door.
“To hell with you Granger! I am trying to help you despite the fact that the very proposition is blood curling. And what do you do? You whine.”
“I’d probably accept the fact that you are indeed willing to help…if only you wouldn’t snap at me with every passing second and call me ‘mudblood’ like it was my last name.”
The force of her words stunned Malfoy. He could feel the wave of emotions emitting from her and it threw him off balance. The tears in her eyes were all too prominent and all he could do at that moment was gape. He’d always known would hurt to be called a mudblood but Granger hadn’t ever openly rebuked him for such name calling…not until now.
“You look like you’re really gonna start crying,” he said, for the lack of any other retort.
She knocked over a couple of books while she stalked out of the library with her head held high, her gait proud and stubborn.
Draco scowled. It hadn’t exactly been a great start. He hadn’t expected it to be. But he hadn’t expected it to be a disaster either. It wasn’t that he wasn’t trying. No. It was just a tad alien…almost too difficult to treat Granger his team mate, his equal, for that was what she expected. He hadn’t been taught to be that way; he hadn’t wanted to learn such etiquette anyways.
His upbringing had convinced him of one thing. Pure bloods were the regal ones. Muggle borns though, needed to be burnt or cut into varying pieces and exhibited like a slaughtered prey. Or so he was taught. The graphical image portrayed by his father did not scare him. He hadn’t questioned the reasons behind such a theory either. It was what people called blind faith. He had believed every word his father had uttered. Not that a three year old would question the words of his role model. Such a notion had been instilled in his mind at a very tender age and it was hard to change it.
Now how was he supposed to change it all overnight? Given that the person who required him to change was the haughty know-it-all Hermione Granger.
Draco sighed shifting his position. He eyed the scrolls of writing which seemed to mock him. Pushing them aside in one fluid motion, he stood to stretch. The muscles of his body met their blissful freedom. A satisfied moan escaped his mouth before he inched out of the library.
He had to try, hadn’t he?
Her eyes stung from the unshed tears. Crying over Ron was justified. Crying because of her fears was really fine. But Malfoy…he just wasn’t worth her tears. Hermione Granger was many things, but she definitely wasn’t a whiny coward. If it was fight that Malfoy wanted, she wasn’t going to lose.
The sound of the night crawlers reached her ears and soothed her uptight nerves. As she sat on the window sill, the grounds looked innocent and breathtaking. It was hard not to remember all those happy times she’d spent in the very place on countless occasions, albeit, they had been shared with her friends. How many daring feats? The sneaking, the visits to Hagrid’s…
She sighed wistfully as her eyes closed in disgruntlement. The soft breeze washed her senses and the sounds of the night soaked her in nostalgia. A sudden image of a sneering Malfoy invaded her. She felt panicked since she knew she hadn’t planned or done anything to do away with him. It was strange to think that way and she had opted to comfortably forget about it.
It wasn’t long before the breeze turned cold and brought Goosebumps up her arms. Sighing, she was about to move away when she noticed something shift in the grounds.
A slight frown creased her forehead as she turned to observe with care. There was someone there…she could make that out. Still frowning, she observed her thundering heart and sweating palms which made her realize that it bothered her. Quickly, she thought of what she would do. Maybe if she could find out who it was, she might get some answers. Hermione nodded deciding she would have to take a risk. With her wands outstretched, she marched out to investigate.
She wondered if it was a wise decision to saunter outside when her mind incessantly screamed danger. Hermione jogged the rest of the distance to rid all the confusions of her mind.
There was an ominous air in the grounds. She slowly edged forward her eyes looking around wildly for any signs of threat. It was the minute she spotted the figure on the ground that she realized she had been crazy to have ventured here all by herself. She was sure that whoever it was hadn’t noticed her. A part of her wanted to turn around and run while the other mocked her stupidity to not take this opportunity to learn some answers. Thinking fast, she decided she’d hide and look to see the person and leave before they could notice her presence.
It was the huge oak which sheltered her petite body. She watched as a lanky form moved in her direction. Squinting, she tried to figure out if it was someone she knew. It was obvious that it wasn’t Malfoy since the physique was quite different. The little light of the moon cast an ill-omened outline to the figure. Hermione’s breath hitched as the person seemed to approach her. Swiftly, she turned around trying to make herself smaller though she had been sure of her cover. Clapping a hand over her mouth to stop the sound of her breathing, Hermione waited for the person to pass.
A few minutes elapsed but she didn’t notice anyone walk past her. Slowly, Hermione turned to peek. The place was deserted. Widening her eyes she looked around her carefully. All seemed quiet. Gathering all her courage, she moved out of where she hid and searched. It was scary to have someone walk the grounds so mysteriously but scarier to have them disappear. Disappointed, Hermione lowered her wand and turned to leave.
Before she could take a stand something attacked her skin. Hermione let out a scream as she fell onto the ground, her wand disappearing into the darkness. She edged away trying to distance herself from the attacker whose yellow eyes glinted in the night. Was it...was it a werewolf? Dread filled her veins as she looked around frantically for some help. She wanted to scream, but her throat seemed too dry.
Even as the thought of running away entered her mind, she heard a howl from the creature. Her screams deafened the howl as it struck again. Hermione tried to shield her face even as she felt its tooth sink deep into her thigh. The excruciating pain made her feel dizzy. The soil was bathed in the blood.
She needed to call someone...help.
In her search for someone, she found another pair of eyes and felt her clothes rip. The other monster was now dragging her. Her head hit the ground as she began to lose her consciousness.
Her last lucid thought was that Draco Malfoy had been right about her fate.
Author's Note: Um...I wasn't very happy with this chapter as i wanted it to be more horrific. >_< I think I could've done better. But I hope it didn't suck :D oh my, I cannot thank my reviewers enough for all their awesome comments and criticisms! Thank you SO much guys!! This chapter is dedicated to all of you wonderful people :)
Hermione was moving in and out of consciousness. When she was awake for long enough, she was thirsty. It hurt to open her eyes. Her legs were immobile. The pain in her body was far too excruciating. She didn’t recognize the surroundings. It was all blurred.
Nearly fifteen hours later, she still lay helpless. She knew she was going to die. There was no doubt about it. But dying in a swamp of dirt wasn’t what she’d dreamt of. Heck, she hadn’t dreamt of dying at all! Not so early…Her eyes seemed not to have enough fluid in them to form tears. One look at her hand made her vomit all over. The sight of blood made her sick.
She tried to crawl, but her body did not cooperate. An attempt to scream made her realize that her neck was deeply cut and even speaking wasn’t a possibility. She tried to remember how she had ended up like this.
Angry paws and beastly hair flashed in front of her eyes and she let out a silent cry shutting her eyes tightly. She almost expected to feel the blow again. It did not come.
Slowly she remembered the events. She wanted someone to help her up. Wasn’t there anyone who could help her move away from the blood and vomit? She felt nauseated as her body floated in the filth. Like a struggling toddler, her wounded brown eyes looked up hoping to find someone.
Water…please, give me water…
She tasted blood.
She tried to move her hand to swim across and reach the cleaner ground. Her hands shook a little while her legs didn’t budge.
Three hours passed by and she still hadn’t moved more than an inch. Slowly, she lost consciousness.
Was it the godly whisper? Had she in fact died?
Bleary eyes opened to find a pair of emerald ones looking down at her, concerned.
Harry? Why was he dripping wet? It wasn’t raining.
Hermione…I told you to be careful! Look what he has done to you! You must’ve killed him when I asked you to!
Were they tears which shimmered in his eyes?
He looked at her sadly, I’m sorry Hermione. I can’t do anything. But you have to pull through. You can do it. The monsters are gone. You have to move before they return. You can do it Hermione. Please…you need do this. Recover Hermione…get up and kill him.
Her eyes closed as darkness engulfed her all over again.
Miles away, amongst the rubble, a lone figure hurried inside a dilapidated and ancient looking dwelling. The skies showed no hint of stoppage of the downpour. Casting nervous glances around the boy disappeared inside.
It was a strange night and something about it made the place eerier than normal. The patter of small drops of water could be heard. Slow whispers reached the ears of this black haired youth. He looked around to find the source of the said whispers, but found none. Thinking himself to be paranoid, he moved on. The surroundings were murky with an ominous scent in the air.
Something wasn’t right about this place. He checked the scroll of writing to ensure that he had arrived at the right destination. All seemed right. Shrugging, he put the scroll back and let it disappear into his deep pockets.
He shivered slightly; due to the cold or the surroundings, he wasn’t sure. Deciding it to be the best thing to do, he lit his wand. It helped him avoid any unexpected splash of water which was collected in the dented ground. Little rats scattered by. Trickles of water escaped through the holes of the roof and constantly hit his hooded head. Thoroughly irked, he finally reached the backyard, mumbling about inappropriate location.
“Well, I’m here now,” he said to himself. The place seemed deserted.
Slowly, his hands grazed up to his forehead to feel the strange shaped scar. With a sigh he looked around trying to locate a place where he could rest his sore feet. Finally he noticed a fine looking rock resting in the dark corner. With his tired legs begging him for respite, it seemed to be beckoning him. Exerting the same amount of caution, he moved to sit down. In his eagerness to be seated, he failed to notice the snake curled around the rock. No sooner had he sat down, it slithered away into the darkness.
Silence reigned, and it was hard not to notice the sounds from around. There was the hoot of the bat, the rhythm of the rain and also the stench of decaying flesh. All he wanted to do was to leave the place as soon as possible. His sharp eyes scanned around carefully, wand clutched tight.
It wasn’t long before he heard a new sound of echoing boots, as they marched through the damp ground. Looking up he saw a band of men approaching him. He rose to his feet and watched their arrival. A look of uncertainty crossed his eyes as he tilted his head to look at the way he had come. He had chosen this path and yet, he was hesitant. Turning around, he glared at them with renewed anger.
When he spoke, his voice held a note of authority which made the others bristle, “You’re late.”
“Cocky, isn’t he?” mumbled an irritated feminine voice. She seemed like she would say more before someone beat her to it, “Not now Bella.”
The boy looked between them, “Where next?” he asked trying to mask the nervousness he felt. He knew exactly where they were headed. Shouting at these men made him gain false security.
“Anxious to meet the Dark Lord?” cooed Bella.
He rolled his eyes, “Just curious.”
“Right," snapped one of the men from the group as the others looked at him, "no more small talks here, please. Young man go straight ahead. I’ll give you instructions and we’ll follow you.” The man then turned to Bella and said, “Blindfold the kid. And,” he glared at the now shivering youth, “don’t try to memorize the route, you’ll regret it,”
With all the arrangements made and the piece of cloth tightly secured around the boy's eyes, the clan moved on. Amid the spots of black, dark violet and blood red which flashed in the insides of his eyes, the youngster noted the subtle change of atmosphere around. No longer was there the sound of rain or wetness to the ground. It was hard not to try and remember the path but as they progressed, it became a futile effort. The many turns and twist on the way made him see stars. Giving up, he let their leader give him directions, which now sounded like a dull monotone. When he had almost given up the hope of reaching there in the near future, he heard the strict command to stop.
“Is that it?” he asked unsurely and felt the cloth around his eyes being yanked away unceremoniously. Taking a minute to steady himself, he watched as the group of darkly clad men came into focus. They had a quick communication amongst them before turning to him.
“The door ahead of you, open it and get in.”
Frightened, he did as he was told and pushed the ancient looking door. The loud screech it emitted made him wince and stop. He felt a hand shove him and he was forced to move inside. Something about the room made him shudder.
“Harry Potter!” said a delighted voice from inside and he jumped in surprise at the coldness they held. A huge throne like seat could be seen in the end of the room. Knowing his manners, he bowed low. A circle of men surrounded him
A chuckle brimming with amusement could be heard, “My, I must say, you have been trained well.”
Hiding the smug smirk, the emerald eyed boy looked up to see the Dark Lord looking at someone in the circle. It wasn’t a difficult task to guess who he was looking at.
“Has it begun?” questioned the quaint figure in front of him.
“Yes m’lord. I’ve done all that is needed.” Finding confidence with ever word he uttered he went on with no hint of remorse as he said, “Malfoy must be dead soon as you wished him to be. The mudblood is still afraid to carry her deeds, but it has been taken care of. The Weasley though…”
“Ah, worry not. Everything will fall in synch. Chaos will ensue. Not even Weasley can stand them. They will all perish soon.”
The circle around the duo exchanged gleeful glances.
“Yes my dear Death Eaters,” said the lord, “this fight will soon come to an end. Victory will be ours! Our dear little boy, my simplest creation, my masterplan to destroy. Celebrate! For our Harry Potter has made it all possible!”
Thunderous cheers reverberated around the small room as the dark haired boy bowed to accept the appreciations.
Author's Note: I think the first part of this chapter could've been made better. But since I can't update for another week if I didn't do it today, I just let it be. Seriously, this was the toughest chapter to write. So far. Sigh. I'm sure I'm going to get more thorns for this one. Dang. No euphoria of finishing the next chapter this time :( Anyways. On a happier note...I UPDATED!!! w00t! XD Thank you so much guys If it wasn't for those words of encouragement, I couldn't have moved on :)
My apologies for the wait! But I have a valid reason...we had a national level play (which we won!) and two more plays are in progress now :( Which means I'm hard pressed for time! But I promise not to take so long with my next update :) Sorry!!
EDIT. If you know me...and my motto with my main characters so far...you should've gotten a hint in this chapter. If itz too subtle, just hang on a bit. For all the mysteries will be solved in the immediate chapters to come.
Draco Malfoy was never worried. Not for his friends, not about his family, no one, except maybe his mother. It just wasn’t in his veins to care about anybody. The emotion didn’t come to him. It must have been in the Malfoy family blood.
The mudblood had been missing.
No he didn’t give a damn. Not in the least. But then again, wouldn’t it be better, if there was someone who could assist him? Trying to find a way out all by himself wasn’t happening. Not that being with the stupid know-it-all improved the situations.
Still…facing the unknown dangers with another person was nicer than having to do so all alone.
She must be about somewhere, for there was no exit from here. She had to be either in the castle or the grounds. It wasn’t like she could walk to Hogsmeade. How can you walk to a place which was probably thousands of kilometers away? He had figured that out. Long ago. But had she?
The worst possibility was that she’d found a way out. Maybe she’d cracked something he hadn’t and had forsaken him. That was very much possible. But the fact that the Weasley girl was still around here was a relief.
His search hadn’t quite started. No, he wasn’t looking for her. But he did scan the obvious locations, thoroughly. But she couldn’t be found. It was sometime then he’d heard the sound. It was guttural, as though some troubled soul was beckoning him. He was disturbed. Someone was dying. The ‘someone’ sounded familiar. It made him want to run amuck.
It was with little surprise that he noted the slight tremble in his voice. With his wand lit, he walked in the direction of cry. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as he cautiously stepped forward. With every step he took, the reality struck him. He knew who he was going to find. How she’d landed up in here, he didn’t know. But he did know that she would soon be gone…
With a growing sense of panic he ran down the aisle. Wet grounds met him. A ringing filled his ears as he moved on. His legs weakened as he looked between three living beings.
There was Hermione. A livid looking wolf which looked far too familiar and then…a black clad woman who looked frail and pale looked up at him from beside Hermione.
Gray eyes looked up to the boy who stood clasping the wand. His knuckles were white as was his face. Relief flooded Narcissa’s mind as she looked at him. Shaken perhaps, but he seemed to be well.
She couldn’t proceed. A flood of emotions overtook her. She’d expected him to be dead, but here he was, alive…Images of Draco lying on the floor, his eyes unseeing or him being thrown off some cliff or him being tortured or finding his mangled body at her doorsteps or…Every such nightmare had tormented her.
But now wasn’t the time. She had to tell him before her time was over. Draco was peering at her with a bemused and frightened expression on his face. She knew that he’d known…
“Draco…’m sorry. I…you must flee. Find a way out. Stay…danger…”
“Mother…calm down. You’re hyperventilating. Relax.”
Narcissa shook her head vehemently as she shot a look at the auburn haired girl who lay as though in sleep. Following her line of vision, Draco frowned, “Is she…?”
End was nearing. Trying hard to keep control, Narcissa leaned against the wall. The wolf-like creature let out a low howl at its mistress’s state and lay curled at her feet.
"She…Alive. Draco…flee,” her eyes began to fill up with water. Her throat was growing dry. Numbness filled her legs slowing traveling upwards. Time was running out. Taking a sharp breath which caused a shooting pain through her body she continued, “Stay away her. Tried to kill. Father…Dark Lord…revenge,”
Her eyes were shutting down on their own accord. It was painful. She wished it would be over, but she hadn’t told him. No…she wouldn’t die. Not before…
“Mother…mother!! Aguamenti. Here…drink this. Mother!”
Her eyes were rolling in, “Vow. Run. Danger.”
Alarmed, Draco poured the water over Narcissa’s face. Her eyes opened momentarily. Grief filled her as tears leaked down her eyes. She hadn’t done it…
Her voice was so feeble that he had to inch closer to her. But he needn’t have, for those were the last words she uttered before her body went still. The howl of the animal filled the place and Draco sat frozen. A pain like he'd never known before filled his heart threatening to suffocate him. She was...gone...
Never would he see her eyes brighten when he shared his achievements. There would be noone who'd fuss over him. No soul to shower him with love and care. He felt quite alone. And he knew the feeling wouldn't leave him.
Her tortured eyes as she'd uttered those last words flashed before him...For the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy cried.
It was the sobs that woke Hermione from her deep slumber. A strange sight met her eyes. With a frown on her face Hermione looked around and her eyes widened when she spotted the very familiar wolf looking down at her with menace. Jumping up in fear she edged away as fast as possible.
“M-Malfoy?” she called, her eyes on the creature. Tears welled up her eyes at the memory of their ruthless attack.
After the passage of few tense moments in which Hermione had been sure that he would turn around and leave her at the mercy of the creature, Draco turned to regard her vaguely. His eyes were rimmed with red. There was a deathly pallor to his face.
He looked away and down at the body and with a jolt Hermione recognized the blond woman. Narcissa Malfoy.
“Is…is that your mother?”
There was still no reply from him. With great effort Hermione stood, her body being supported by the wall. She tried to move towards him but the creature let out a growl. Wincing, she backed away.
“Can you…can you ask this creature to move away?”
“Zorro,” Malfoy said.
Hermione looked at him, perplexed. “Pardon?”
He looked up and met her eyes. “His name is Zorro.”
“Zorro guards the Manor. Will you please shut up?”
“But…but…they tried to kill me…I…” she frowned. How had she revived? Hadn’t she been so sure she’d be dead?
Malfoy studied her. “Granger, have you lost it?”
“I…are you unwell? You look like you’re going to faint,”
Malfoy straightened. “Answer my question Granger,”
Her eyes found the prone figure of Narcissa Malfoy and she suddenly knew.
Draco frowned and then saw the sympathy in her eyes. He hated it.
“Look Granger. You said Zorro tried to kill you. So could we perhaps continue on it?”
It was her cue to shut up but she rushed on to ask him about his mother. Malfoy gave her a cold glare before he turned around to leave and she screeched for him to stop.
“Alright! A…a herd of them attacked me. After…” she stopped to think, “After I walked away from the library…they attacked me. I don’t know how I managed to survive for I was sure to be dead,”
Malfoy glowered as he looked at her. “A likely tale Granger. No one survives their bite. And they don’t stop until you’ve satisfied their hungry stomachs. They rip every part of your…”
Hermione shuddered and closed her ears. “Don’t…”
With a shrug he bent down to pick the lifeless body. A sudden burst of flame erupted and threw Draco a foot away. He watched in horror as the body burnt into ashes. Hermione’s scream filled the air.
“Malfoy! Malfoy! Listen to me…”
Hermione was running to catch up with him. The creature walked obediently beside Draco like a lap dog as Hermione rushed to catch up.
“Where are you going?”
Draco halted and turned around to find her panting for breath, “Granger…just leave me alone. Don’t force me to let lose Zorro on you,”
“But why are you leaving? Where are you going?”
“Away from you. You want to kill me, don’t you?”
Hermione blanched. “I…what are you talking about?”
Draco let out a devious laugh. “You and your friend can go to hell. Am leaving!”
With an air of urgency, Draco walked away with Hermione at his wake.
“But where will you go? We’re trapped in Hogwarts!”
“You still haven’t figured it out, have you? We aren’t at Hogwarts at all. This place looks like Hogwarts,”
Hermione stopped dead on her tracks. “That’s…that’s…I-I can’t believe…”
“Trust me Granger, there are things far more unbelievable than that. This is just the beginning,”
“Are you saying we were smuggled out of Hogwarts?”
“Wow Granger, you’re mightily bright,”
“Aren’t you feeling remorseful?”
Draco didn’t reply.
“Your mother is dead.”
He moved on.
“I thought it’d tear you apart.”
There still wasn’t any response from the blonde haired boy.
Slowly, Draco turned around to look at her. The pain in his eyes made her flinch.
“What do you expect Granger? That I’d cry on your shoulders? That I’ll forget myself over the grief? I don’t show Granger. It isn’t in me. So I’d hugely appreciate if you shut your damned mouth and leave me alone!”
Hermione watched with tears in her eyes as Malfoy turned around the corner and disappeared.
Author's Note: Grief stricken, I went absconding from HPFF. One of my close friends passed away. So I wasn't able to update. My writing in here is quite rusty and I would urge you to find as many errors as possible for am sure there are many. This was my most anticipated chapter, but somehow I haven't gotten what I originally planned. I will now enter the re-editing while being saved from the guilt of non-updating. I'm eternally thankful to all of you guys who've helped me so much with your reviews. Thank you so much guys :)
Wow. That sounded like a speech. Anyways, enjoy :) I don't think I'm gonna edit now anyway. I think I should've...but the need to update was far more than the editing. I hope it isn't too substandard.
It wasn’t in Hermione to just poke at someone who was obviously hurting. A couple of weeks ago, the thought of being nice to Malfoy would have earned a laugh. But the past few days had changed it all. She saw the unheard side of Malfoy. It didn’t alter her opinion of him being a spoilt brat. But she understood him better. Hermione was far from offering to be friends with him, but the sight of a lost and grieving Malfoy had made her want to comfort him. She’d, by slip of tongue of course, offered to listen to him if he wanted to talk. Soon after the words had escaped her mouth, she amended it with excuses of how she didn’t think it would help their cause if he kept brooding over something and that he needed to clear his mind if he intended to get out of this place. Malfoy gave her a puzzled look before promptly declining the said proposal.
In the days that followed, Malfoy had been civil. But the coldness in his voice hadn’t quite disappeared. There wasn’t a moment when Hermione assumed that he’d start pouring his heart out to her. Despite the knowledge, the cold shoulder from Malfoy miffed her. How can any human being be that rude? She was trying to be nice and he retaliated with an indifferent attitude. Of course, he’d stopped his name calling. That was a plus.
It’s entirely my fault, Hermione thought irritably.
She snapped out of her reverie to look a pair of gray eyes staring at her. Blinking rapidly, she straightened herself. Yet again, he seemed amused at the sight of her.
“Deep thoughts?” he asked with a small smirk.
Hermione shook her head, “Just…thinking.”
Hermione was sat alone in a tower that resembled the Astronomy tower. The breeze soothed her mind and distracted her. Ginny hadn’t looked any better before she’d left her side. The girl seemed to breathe, but there was nothing more to her. To Hermione’s credit, she’d tried everything possible. At least Ginny hadn’t gotten worse. She looked like she was asleep. Did she feel any pain? Hermione didn’t know. But she could feel her own sorrow at the sight of the girl. The scene of gently swaying trees and the feel of the cold breeze with the sounds of tiny creatures turned out to be her escape. Was she a coward, if she wanted to run away from all of it?
“I’m sure you have been. I have something that I need to discuss with you,”
“What is, pray tell me, the 'topic' of our discussion?”
Fear gripped her at the mere mention of the creature. A flash of its cruel paw and unforgiving claws swept before her and she shuddered, taking in a deep breath she tried to stop her quivering. And then she remembered how Malfoy had rebuked her the first time she’d told him. Was he going to mock her again? Looking at his cold face, she knew.
“You don’t believe me, do you?” she said, aggravated.
Malfoy rubbed his stubble thoughtfully, “I’ve been thinking about it. It doesn’t seem to make sense to me.”
She shrugged, “Make what you want of it. But it is the truth.”
“That’s a possibility.”
Hermione shot him a dirty glare before standing up, ready to leave. The blonde looked up at her, “Don’t leave on my account. I’ll move. But I need to talk to you,”
“Well, I don’t. Sorry,”
“You will talk to me.”
She opened her mouth to refuse before she caught him giving her a challenging look, “Fine,” she snapped turning her back to him and pretending as if she was studying the sky outside. Hermione wasn’t in any mood to get into another argument. At least, if she let him talk, it’d be over soon. She hoped.
“I’m surprised Granger,” he began. Hermione didn’t reply and he went on. “I told you Zorro guarded the Manor and you still offered to help me get over my…grief,” he said the last part as though it was a foul taste in his mouth.
Curious as to what he was trying to imply, she turned to regard him, her gaze steady and bemused, “What are you talking about?”
She watched him lean on the wall with a casual shrug.
“By Manor, I meant the Malfoy Manor. So I thought you’d…” he trailed off watching her, trying to gauge her reaction.
Hermione’s eyes widened before she understood his implication.
“You thought I’d suspect you.”
He shrugged before giving her a slight nod, “I would if I were you.”
Furrowing her brows, Hermione considered him. How had she not thought about it? The normal Hermione Granger would have suspected. But of course, she’d been too busy trying to get him out of the suppressed depression. Disgusted, Hermione looked away.
Hermione didn’t turn around. After a few minutes, she heard him sigh. He moved towards her and said in a quiet voice, “Granger, I’m a dangerous person to be with. I wouldn’t let my guard down if the roles were reversed.”
“You’re not me! So stop telling me what you would have done!” she jeered, her eyes blazing with anger.
Malfoy smirked. When her glare hardened he burst out laughing, shocking Hermione.
“What’s so funny?”
“Har, har. Someone seems to be up for fun and frolic,” she all but yelled.
“It’s just that…you’re so predictable Granger. All I need to do is to make you look insignificant and you go snapping left right and centre,” he grinned.
Feeling anything but amused, she walked past him, making sure to slam hard against him. She heard him let out a curse and smiled to herself before she felt his hand pull her. So shocked she was at the sudden yank that she lost her balance and crashed into him with a yelp of surprise. They fell back on the ground. She heard a dull thud as Malfoy’s head made a contact with the floor. He let out an audible groan and lay still.
“Malfoy?” Hermione called as she struggled to stand without tripping over him. Heat rose to her cheeks as she looked at him and called him again. She tried to shake him awake.
He didn’t move. Panicky, Hermione looked around for her wand.
“Where did it go?” she muttered feverishly casting worried look in his direction. She kept calling him in the hope to wake him but he didn’t stir.
“Oh, god please…please, please, please…let me find the wand…”
Had she killed him? No, no. He’d merely passed out. If only she could find her wand and…she stopped. There was a prickly feeling in the back of her neck. Someone was watching her. Slowly, she turned around.
Malfoy was looking at her with confusion evident all over his face. When had he recovered? Wasn’t he…
“You faked it?” she asked, her voice mirroring disbelief coupled with annoyance.
“What happened to you?”
“If you keep that up…I’d start thinking that you actually care,”
“Of course not! I thought I’d killed you.”
“Wouldn’t you love to have me dead?”
“I don’t like you.”
“Merci. I don’t fancy you either.”
“That’s very much evident Malfoy.”
“You on the other hand…you worry me. I prefer the steamy arguments than the anxious looks you keep shooting me.”
“It’s just that…you…your mother…”
“See? You’re closing yourself. Loss of a mother would severely affect a person. Malfoy or not.”
“I don’t like pity, Granger. So I suggest you shove it up your…” fist clenched he looked away from her.
“It’s not pity Malfoy. It’s called empathy,”
“Well, I don’t need any!”
Hermione gave him a wry smile. “Look who called me predictable.”
Malfoy smirked at her. As their eyes met, it was with a jolt that Draco realized that he had been conversing with Hermione Granger.
Maybe she’s right, Malfoy thought as he looked away warily, maybe I really have been badly affected by my mother’s death.
“You didn’t…you didn’t send Zorro and his clan, did you?”
“I don’t know.” He scowled at her. “I wouldn’t suggest that you consider the possibility, if I did send him, would I?”
She was taken back by the sudden change of his demeanor. It seemed to her that one more word and he’d strangle her, “Um…”
“Maybe you are trying to play innocent?” she said haltingly.
His jaw was set as he looked at her with narrowed eyes. Suddenly, it came to her that the cold and vicious Malfoy was back, “Never mind,” she said quickly, eager to move away from him.
“So you’re quite sure that you were attacked by them?”
“Yes, I am.”
She was trying to keep her cool and he could see. There was a slight hesitation before he spoke again, choosing his words very carefully.
“I think we’re trapped in some very complicated mess here. And there is a possibility that my mother sent them after you.”
Hermione didn’t reply. Arms folded across her chest, she waited for him to talk.
“Is there anything else you remember?”
Thinking about it now, Hermione did remember something. Harry. He’d come again. But was it her hallucination or had he in fact come to her? Her brows furrowed when she remembered his warning about Malfoy. Should she tell him about it? A single glance at him made her realize she couldn’t. Harry had wanted her to kill him. She couldn’t tell Malfoy. Not when he was on the Dark side.
“Granger?” he prompted.
She forced a smile, “No. Nothing significant.”
“Granger, I want you to think hard. What you say could be very favourable,”
Favourable for whom? You? Me? Or Voldemort?
“I’m sure. There was nothing else.”
She knew she could never trust Malfoy. Maybe she didn’t dislike him enough to gather courage and kill him. But he sure wasn’t trustworthy. He was dangerous. Her concealing of the information was the right thing to do. Right?
As Draco Malfoy moved away, Hermione wished she could read his thoughts. Was this some evil scheme? Or was he just another victim caught up in this strange puzzle?
Yet, minutes ago, when she’d spoken to him, there seemed an air of companionship…a companionship which seemed to have suddenly grown. Did he plan it? Or had he, like her, grown accustomed to her presence? So accustomed that he could regard her as an ally?
She seemed to be swirling in an endless pool of questions but at the moment, she hadn’t a single answer. So, with a sigh of defeat, Hermione strutted back to seek the comfort of her mattress. Sleep would help.
Author's Note: Quick update? There wasn't internet at home till now. So soon as I got back my net, I update ^_^ I hope you enjoyed this one :) Oh...and I have a one shot, if you'd want to read. I'm unsure as to how to title it, so just check for a Lily/Snape one shot in my page. It won't be that difficult, I promise ^_^
Hermione wandered around the castle, desolately. Harried looking, she wanted to rest. But sleep wouldn’t come. Terrifying dreams kept her awake. More than ever, she wished to see her friends. She needed them. Of course, the most needed friend would never come. He was…gone. She could feel the familiar burning in the back of her throat, but refused to shed a tear. With every step, she seemed to sink into the endless memories, which tormented her.
Terrified, lonely and most of all buried in confusion, Hermione wondered if she had done anything that was perhaps useful. Guilt and shame attacked her viciously reminding her of the fact that she’d been spending her days doing nothing. Not since the day she was ‘smuggled’ out of Hogwarts.
Smuggled. Now that was puzzling. Why would they kidnap her and Malfoy? Oh, and there was Ginny. Three teenagers caught under one roof, one of whom was blissfully obvious to it all. And above all came…Draco Malfoy.
She was still trying to figure him out. It was obvious that he had loved his mother dearly. Narcissa Malfoy was the second causality and it sent chills down her spine. Who would it be next? Thinking about it now…what if Narcissa Malfoy hadn’t died? What if it was…a show?
An image of a pale and trembling Malfoy came to her. His emotions and pain seemed far too real to have been a sham. What if he intended to trap her by invoking sympathy? Well, he wasn’t. He had made it way too clear just what he thought of her empathy. No.
Could he possibly be attempting to catch her off guard? By God, he’d tried to keep her vigil around him! Was he trying to warn her? Did he have a similar task to execute? Did he have to kill her? A shiver raided her body and she suddenly whipped around, expecting to see a murderous looking Malfoy approach her, holding a butcher knife aloft and smirking triumphantly.
Paranoia! Calm yourself! There is nobody in here. Malfoy could’ve killed you a million times now, if that was what he had wanted. But he hasn’t!
Being alive was a testament to it. She let a few minutes pass as the unreasonable fear quelled. If she carried herself this way for long enough, she’d soon end up in St. Mungos. She giggled at the incredulity. But of course, she didn’t have a way out of here, did she?
As she looked around her current surrounding, she realized, with some surprise, that she didn't know where she was. The familiar Hogwarts castle had slowly disappeared. As she moved further, she looked around, vaguely recognizing the subtle change of temperature. There were cob webs, enveloping darkness, sounds of night crawlers, a damp stench…
With every step she took, she knew it was no good. But her curiosity was peaked. Heart thumping, she continued to walk, all her senses tense and alert.
The sound made her jump a foot. She stepped backwards, squinting. And then…she saw.
A frail and bloody Harry lay on the ground. With growing sense of horror she watched his body rise. She stood frozen. He was floating towards her! Every inch of her screamed.
She was paralyzed. The movement of Harry hadn't stopped. He was closing in on her. Dully, she noted the hollow and dead looking eyes. His robes were slashed. His body was bruised. Strange liquid oozed out of the gashes. It wasn’t blood. The very sight of him made a bile rise in her throat.
His hands outstretched and head rolling in, he rushed in her direction. As he moved, she had the blinding revelation.
And that was when she ran. He was rapidly approaching. Faster she ran…quicker he reached. Cold arms touched her. She felt him yank her hair. Her leg buckled. She toppled with a sickening crack. Her head hit the hard floor. Raising herself, she looked up into his face. There was a dagger crease on his upper lip, which had pulled his mouth up into an ugly leer. She felt faint. His fingers assaulted her. Cold lips licked her tears.
“No…no, no, no…”
She choked. He was strangling her. There wouldn’t be much struggle. She had no strength. He seemed stronger than her. Had he died because of her? They had found him…they had killed him and turned him into an…
Colours swam. Black spots invaded. Death…would come.
She vaguely comprehended that Harry had moved away from her. There was another crack.
One more crack resounded and then…there was silence.
Hermione found a pair of grey orbs peering down at her, uncertainty written all over his face. Hot tears trickled down her face, as he helped her sit up.
The wide brown eyes that looked at him could’ve belonged to a terrified child. He frowned as she clutched at his robes.
“Granger! Calm yourself! It was just a boggart!”
Hermione shuddered and shook her head.
Draco nodded, “I won’t,” he said quietly and it seemed to calm her. How could this grown witch not defend herself from a boggart? He wanted to slap her. But one look at those petrified brown pools and he held himself back. He tried to say something soothing. Not because he felt the concern. No. At least if she was back to normal, she’d let him go! He didn’t fancy being touched by the likes of her. Not the mud-
“Malfoy…” her voice was croaky.
“Right here, Granger.”
She nodded. With her head on his shoulder and mouth mumbling incoherent words, she closed her eyes.
There wasn’t a reply. Her breathing had eased into slow and deep ones. Malfoy scowled. The stupid woman had fallen asleep! Gritting his teeth, he tried to wake her once more. Her eyes opened briefly and before he could utter another word, they promptly closed.
Annoyed, he was about to stir her awake, when he felt her tremble and tighten her hold on him. She resembled a fragile doll. His brow rose, and he grumbled before looking around. If they remained in here for longer than an hour, he was sure they’d freeze. With a grunt, he lifted her off the ground, tucking his wand inside the long robes of his. She didn’t seem to weigh a lot. But he sure wasn’t keen on carrying her.
Even as he mused about levitating her, she mumbled a low ‘Harry’. He rolled his eyes, and looked around to find her wand, fallen about a foot away. Securing it, he began to walk, intending to reach the castle and dump the female. He looked down at her as she rested her head against his chest and seemed to smile peacefully.
A stream of curses flew out of his mouth but his gentle grip on her strengthened.
Darkness had fallen. Flicker of lights created a shadow as the blonde walked back to the comforts of his room. There was one thing that Draco hadn't been in the last few moments. He hadn't been himself. How else could he be carrying Hermione Granger?
Also, he hadn't the normal shrewdness about him that night. It would be days before Draco had realized this. Because, had Draco Malfoy not thought of the frostiness of the place and well being of the two of them, but concentrated on the surroundings, he would have noted a slight opening on the other end. And if he had observed it, things would probably have been different.
Author's Note: Hm, so here goes. They were almost near the end of all mysteries. But of course, I'm going to tease you guys for a bit, ain't I? :P I hope this didn't sound like a filler. This was supposed to have come with more content, but since the resultant chapter exceed 2600 words, I decided to break it. And I had to put a pause in here. I hope you guys did enjoy. As always, please leave me a review. Thanks a bunch to all those who've been supportive and critical of my work! Your feedbacks help me so much!
Hermione woke up to the sound of an old song. Rubbing her eyes tiredly, she looked around. The place looked unfamiliar.
Someone was singing.
She frowned and sat up. The blanket seemed to have kept her warm, for the room in itself was anything but warm. As she looked around, she began to note some similarities between this room and her normal dwelling quarters. It was only then that she realized that it was another dormitory. But the colour on the walls was different.
Slytherin! The Dungeons!
That explained the coldness. Who was singing?
Clutching the blanket, she got off the bed. The floor was atrociously cold. Ignoring the chill, she padded off in the direction of the voice. It came directly from the slightly opened door ahead. She knew it had to be the bath.
Unsure, she stopped outside.
The singing ended. There was a sound of shuffling. Hermione jumped when the door banged shut.
“Knock before you walk in!”
“I was just…”
She could hear a cord of curses, a few of which made her flush. At least, he had creativity.
Suddenly, the door flew open, to reveal a clean and shaved Malfoy. He stood glaring at her, his porcelain face a mask of annoyance. With a finger pointed accusingly in her direction, he spoke, “You are being a troublesome, messy little–”
“How did I get here?”
His brows knit together.
“You mean, you don’t recollect what happened last night?”
She shook her head. His words caused unease.
Malfoy’s eyes widened dramatically, “You don’t remember what you did last night?”
She paled visibly, as her mouth grew dry. Something was off key here. “What do you mean?”
He stood there gaping at her before whistling slowly. “One wild night Granger!”
The resultant distress on her face was…priceless! Draco Malfoy decided that this was the best way to get back at here for all the trouble she’d put him through the previous night.
“I didn’t. You did. I wondered how and why, but…there it is.” He let out a sigh and grinned wolfishly, “It wasn’t all that bad! Unique…Never before have I…You refused to let go of me! Oh my, my, my, the way we–”
“STOP! Stop, stop, STOP!”
He paused. “But you…”
“Stuff it Malfoy!”
“So…we are back to addressing each other by our last name, then?” he asked cheerfully.
Her eyes narrowed. “I didn’t call you ‘Draco’, did I?”
Malfoy burst out laughing. She watched horrified as he clutched at his stomach and his cheeks turned a shade of pink, a shade unfamiliar on him. Tears of laughter formed on the corners of his eyes as he laughed harder on spotting her uncertain expression.
“Granger…oh my! Having called me by my first name worries you more than the hanging possibility of losing your virginity?” he gasped still chuckling.
Had she…? She looked down at herself. She was fully clothed.
“What a pay back!” she heard him say.
“Pay back, Malfoy?” she echoed.
“Yeah. For falling asleep on me.”
“I fell…? You mean…”
“Don’t look so stricken. Nothing happened. You came across a boggart and began to screech for help. I, by chance, came by. So I stood there wondering if I should save you, when I realized that if I didn’t, you’d either scream yourself to death or bring the roof down with your banshee-like shriek. Now, that would mean killing me as well!”
She suddenly remembered. The ground seemed to reel and she groped for something to balance herself.
“I think…maybe I might…”
“Merlin’s Beard! Granger!”
She blinked as she felt steady arms supporting her. Flushing with embarrassment, she tried pushing him away.
He’s going to taunt me for the rest of my life! She paused before thinking sardonically, well, at least I don’t think I’ll live long.
“Granger!” he snapped impatiently.
“You sure you won’t fall face first if I let you go then? Because, that wouldn’t be a pretty sight.” He sneered.
She glared. “Shut up before I decide to curse you into oblivion.”
“I’m afraid I’m not all that perturbed by your ‘threat’, Ms. Granger. You see, wand-less magic is something even you can’t perform. Sure you can crib…but magic without a wand? Impossible.”
Amused, he watched her frantic search for her wand. Her hands didn’t seem to have met the slender wood.
He smiled. “See what I mean, Granger?”
“Hand it over!”
“What? You think I’m daft? Someone once told me – ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ sorry mademoiselle. I’m definitely not suicidal.”
He nodded. “Ask nicely.”
“Give me my wand.”
“I said nicely. I don’t think it includes ‘demand’. Sorry.”
He gave her a lopsided grin before reaching for her wand.
“Don’t even think about an attack, lady.”
She was gritting her teeth. “I’ll try.”
Smirking, he obliged. With a scowl, Hermione tucked it away.
“Does it hurt?”
Caught off guard, she gaped. “I’m sorry?”
“Your head…was bleeding. That’s why you passed out. And, that’s when you became a troublesome hag.”
“Oh, Malfoy! You should’ve left me there! Why did you bother? You thought I’d be grateful to you, did you? Thought I’d fall at your feet and–”
“–kiss the very ground you walk on? Wear an ‘I love Master Malfoy’ tattoo and run around naked? Oh I assure you Malfoy that it wouldn’t happen unless hell freezes over! I swear I’ve never seen a vile cretin like–”
“GRANGER!” he hollered.
Hermione took a deep breath.
“Thank you.” His voice was frosty. “I wish I had let you bleed to death. I’m sure your Inferi Potter would’ve loved it!”
“Just because I felt a shred of pity at the sight–”
“Well, I hate pity. You can shove it up your…” she trailed off teasingly, as her brows rose mockingly. "Familiar words, Malfoy?"
Malfoy gave her a scowl.
“How elegant, Malfoy.”
“Don’t test my patience, Granger. Because–”
“–I don’t. What?”
She held up her hand in surrender. “I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t have jumped at you–”
“–It’s just that you are such an arrogant prick–”
“What? It’s true. Anyways, my apologies. I forgot my manners.”
He shook his head. “I’ll try to consider your apology. Don’t be too sure.”
Hermione’s eyes reduced to thin slits and he gave a mock shudder.
“Okay, okay. You’re forgiven. Sometimes, I forget my manners too.”
“You? Manners? Ha!”
“Malfoy,” she said, pointing his face. “You keep doing that stuff, I’d start thinking it’s a one of your facial feature. The pretty little scowl, I mean.”
Malfoy edged forward dangerously. “You’re crossing your limits. Patience is out of stock.”
“Buy more,” she said airily and watched him through her lashes before rushing on to say, “Alright, alright. Can I ask you something though?”
He nodded for her to continue.
“How did you land up there? I mean…I was very much alone. Yesterday night?”
A strange smile touched his lips, as he studied her.
“You weren’t…following me, were you?”
“Not really. But yes. I was keeping an eye out for you.”
He gave her a casual shrug. “I felt I needed to.”
“I don’t suppose you’d respect the other person’s privacy?”
His eyes flashed. “I can see through a lie, Granger. And, I can see through you. You’re holding back something. And, I have a feeling it isn’t something unimportant. Like I’ve told you before, I don’t have faith in you. And, I value my life more than your said privacy.”
An uncomfortable silence followed.
“I need to go.”
She trotted back to set the bed. After a few minutes, with the blankets neatly piled, she nodded, satisfied.
“Ever heard of using a wand, Granger?”
She looked at him and shrugged, “I like it this way.” There was a snort and she heard him mutter something that sounded distinctly like ‘freak’. “I must be off now.” She hesitated and looked away. “Thank you.”
Draco didn’t reply. She had almost reached out when she heard him call her name. Pausing, she cast him a half glance, “Yes?”
“I’m curious. But, what happens when hell freezes over Granger?”
“Something about tattoo and…” he trailed off mischievously.
Was Draco Malfoy teasing her? She blushed and smacked her head. As she walked out, she made sure that the door was shut with a loud bang.
The sound of his chuckles still reached her. Hermione growled and quickened her steps.
Unbeknown to the two, a lone man watched them. Annoyance was written all over his face. Things...weren't going as planned.
Author's Note: Yep yep. So this was the part which was supposed to come with the previous chapter :D Anyways, hope you guys enjoyed ^_^ Sugesstions, comments...anything and everything encouraged and loved. So...REVIEW!
Blaise Zabini wasn’t someone who could be easily persuaded. But, there was one thing that could always put him on his toes: power. When the Dark Lord had assigned him the special task, he had been overjoyed. There hadn’t been a doubt in his mind that everything would go on well. The Draco Malfoy he knew could never stand the company of a Muggle-born.
Unfortunately for him, things were looking very bleak. It wasn’t bothering the Dark Lord, but it was stifling him.
It wasn’t his fault, of course. He had been executing his task perfectly. There had been the right number of appearances in front of the girl. He’d spoken to her the way he was expected to speak. Despite many shocking revelations, he’d acted his part well, recovering quickly from the shock. Also, no one would’ve doubted him, not even for a second. His father had always told him that he was a brilliant actor.
The information he’d gotten about Harry Potter, had enraged the Dark Lord. But, the fact remained that he’d earned his points. Everything had been going perfectly until Narcissa Malfoy turned up. It hadn’t been an easy feat saving Granger. He had been so sure that she would be dead. But, it was the fear for his own life that he’d save her. Thus, Granger lived.
Unfortunately, so did Draco Malfoy.
Had he been asked a few years ago as to how long can Granger and Draco stay without ripping each other, he’d have given them an estimate of few seconds. Those few seconds, being a credit to the Granger wisdom and her lack of cheek.
Something had changed, though.
He wondered if he had to make another appearance. Maybe that would bring things back to normal. The teenagers had forgotten the rivalry. Well, with a few plantations of evil scheme, he would've put them back on track. But for that, he had to work out a plan. What news was he going to carry to Hermione Granger?
Could it be the sad demise of Ginny Weasley?
With great difficulty, Hermione found herself back in the familiar Gryffindor common room. She eased a slight crick on her neck, as she hung her robes. Yawning, she stretched. The sleep seemed to have refreshed her. With a lazy half smile on her face, she went in to check on Ginny.
“Hey, dear. I hope you didn’t feel too alone. Apparently, Malfoy found me passed out in the corridors.” She paused and then frowned. “The ass claimed I was screeching. But I know I wasn’t. He’s a total jerk, Ginny. Of course, all of us know that he is. He isn’t a Malfoy for no reason.”
Hermione looked at the immobile girl and proceeded to give her something to drink. As the other girl lay on her lap Hermione felt her good mood disperse. She wished at least Ginny would survive.
With a mild sigh of despair, Hermione got off the bed. Casting another wary glance in her direction, Hermione sprinted away. Just as she was about to move along, she heard her name being called.
Frowning, Hermione looked around. “Who’s there?”
“Wow, Hermione. Have you even forgotten the sound of my voice?”
With a whirl, Hermione came face to face with a bespectacled boy. Harry Potter. Not for the first time, Hermione felt shock at seeing the familiar face. Pleasant chills ran down her body as she saw him. He seemed so real…yet, unreal.
His face softened a little. “Hermione. I’m glad you’ve pulled through. I was very worried about you.”
Hermione smiled, wanting to hug him. But, that wasn’t possible. “Of course I’m fine. Harry! I’m so glad to see you. How are you? Where are you? What have you been doing? I have so much to ask you…but,” she said with a pause, as she eyed him warily.
She shook her head. “Everything is so confusing off late. This place…it isn’t Hogwarts. Malfoy…I-I don’t know.”
“Malfoy is still alive,” Harry said with a note of accusation in his voice.
“I’m sorry Harry. I-Is it possible that you might be mistaken? About Malfoy?”
Harry’s eyes flashed, “You doubt me over Malfoy? Honestly, Hermione, are you alright?”
She flushed avoiding his eyes. Suddenly, the place seemed too small to accommodate the two of them.
“Hermione? Answer me.”
"I’m sorry, Harry. It…It hasn’t been easy. I know I’m probably making excuses. But, things have been rapidly deteriorating. Ginny…you haven’t seen her, have you? Or maybe you have. You found me. It wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve already seen her.”
Hermione mistook his cold eyes to be that of suppressed emotions. “Harry?”
“Look, Hermione. There is a reason why I asked you to do away with Malfoy. Won’t you trust me?” There was desperation in his voice. Something about him wasn’t right.
“Harry what’s eating you? I can see you’re bothered about something. What has Malfoy done?”
Stricken, Harry shook his head. “Nothing is moving like planned. I haven’t gotten the slightest of clue as to what I am to do next.”
“How do you manage to come here? I can’t get out of here.”
“It’s a tricky magic, Hermione. I…” He blushed before continuing. “All I have to do is, imagine talking to you, and I am transported here. It’s as though I am traveling through my dreams. I…I can’t explain it. It’s complicated.”
Hermione was amazed at the knowledge.
“Hermione, will you promise me that you will at least try?”
He let out a sigh and let his hands rake through the messy black hair of his. Eyes cold, he was shaking his head. “I would’ve never guessed. You’ve started to go easy on Malfoy. I don’t know what to expect of you. Join forces with him.”
“Harry!” Hermione’s eyes widened. Never had he been this rude to her. Tears formed on the corners, but she held back desperately. “How could you, Harry? After all these years…you insult me by enunciating that I’d join Voldemort!”
Harry shrugged nonchalantly. “You’ve been queer.”
“You wouldn’t know how I have been until you spoke to me for longer than five minutes. You appear and disappear. I don’t know what to think of you. You think I am queer? My apologies, Harry, I beg to differ. The Harry Potter I knew told me everything. You’ve been far too secretive. Now, I agree you have your reasons…but, please, don’t insult me.”
As soon as those words left her mouth, she felt awful. She had no right to speak the way she had. Harry was right. There wasn’t more to Malfoy. She was being queer. When she dared to meet his eyes, Hermione found him looking elsewhere.
“I want to see Ginny.”
“I-sure. She’s inside. Come along.”
The walk to the dorm was awkward and uncomfortable. Hermione wished she could reach out and remove the palpitating silence between them. But, she was lost for words. How could she have been so stupid? Harry was her best friend for the past seven years and she had been crude enough to doubt him. Guilt filled and desperate for a talk, Hermione spoke, “Harry…I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t have spoken that way.”
He regarded her with a calculating cold look. “I understand,” he said, with no trace of understanding in his tone.
“Are you going to help me get out of this place? Ginny needs help…”
“I’ve been trying. Honestly, I could be doing a better job with your company.”
“There’s got to be a way out, Harry. Can you guess why we’re stuck here?”
“I don’t know, Hermione. I can only guess. Maybe this is all a part of some complicated trap being cleverly laid out.”
“I couldn’t have said it better.”
They stopped outside the door and looked at each other with understanding. Hermione nodded for Harry to move on inside. Smiling, Harry floated into the room. She wasn’t sure if she should stay or move. Silently, she tiptoed away hoping to catch some fresh air, when an alarmed Harry’s voice reached her.
“Hermione! Where’s Ginny?”
Author's Note: Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews guys :) Hope you enjoy the chapter. Somethings have been cleared, haven't they? ^_^
Harry sighed frustrated. As the glow of the sky turned from rich orange to icy blue, he wondered, for the umpteenth time, what was keeping Ron for so long. Ron had promised to return soon after he met with his sister. The look of joy on Ron’s face at the prospect of meeting his family had been so vivid that Harry had told himself that he was just spending some time with them. Of course, his heart had nearly popped out at the mention of the vivacious Weasley girl. The picture of her mischievous smile and wide eyes kept haunting his mind…
It was with great difficulty that Harry kept those feelings at bay.
After nearly three weeks since Ron’s departure, Harry began to wonder if everything was alright. It was by sheer exercise of control that Harry hadn’t abandoned his exploration and run amok in search of his best friend.
The progress towards the ultimate destruction of Voldemort had been slow, but steady. Harry had, with the help of many other unsuspecting members, found almost all of the Horcruxes. The time to fight Voldemort was nearing and Harry waited for the moment with all eagerness. Rage filled his heart, and finishing off Voldemort would provide him the much deserved respite.
Sighing, Harry rose, dusting away the mud. The place was cold and eerie. Many-a time, Harry had to face uninvited company of fiery beasts. But, thankfully, nothing had gone out of control up till the present. The hopes of Ron’s call for him that evening had died. Surely, after the dusk had settled, Ron wouldn’t come in search of him. It was moments such as these that Harry wished that he hadn’t let Hermione back at Hogwarts. Though his reasons had been noble, he couldn’t help but wonder if the mission would have been completed if Hermione were there with him. Not to mention the fact that she’d ease many of Ron’s mood swings.
Of course…Ron wasn’t here now.
Running a hand through his messy black hair, Harry let his eyes close. His body felt heavy as did his weary eyes. The search had been tiring. It had taken him weeks of travel to finally come across the fifth Horcrux, which now lay securely behind his invisibility cloak.
Just as his eyes shut, there was an explosion somewhere nearby. Harry sat up with a start. As his eyes adjusted to the surroundings, he felt another such explosion. It was pouring outside.
A mere thunder…
Was it an indication of something?
Time froze for Hermione. The sound of Harry’s urgent voice had made her rush past him and into the empty room. Everything around her was reeling.
She had been here…just moments ago. Harry was talking something, but she couldn’t hear. She couldn’t bring herself to hear any of it.
Hazily Hermione looked at him. “Harry…she-she was…she was just here…”
“Who else knows about Ginny being here?”
“Hermione, sit down. Relax. Tell me. Who knows about her being in your dormitory?”
“Draco…I mean, Malfoy.”
Harry stared at her. “You told Malfoy?”
“He-I-Harry, he helped me…helped me bring her here. It was because of…oh Merlin! Ginny is gone!”
“Exactly,” snapped Harry, fixing her with a murderous look. “I am sure Malfoy was behind this. Who else is here? Nobody! Who could have made her disappear? I…we don’t even know if he’s kept her alive or-”
“Stop it,” Hermione said feebly.
“-or killed her. I told you Hermione-”
“-but, you never listen to me. If only you’d-”
“STOP IT! Harry! If it weren’t for Malfoy, I’d probably be dead by now! He’s saved me more than once! Stop accusing him! I know we haven’t been at the best terms with Malfoy, but he isn’t the same Malfoy when you get to know him!”
Catching her breath, Hermione shot him a reproachful look. Harry clapped.
“Look at you! Angel is he? ‘When you get to know him’! Wow! He sure seems to have charmed you. In a matter of few minutes, you’ve spoken for him and against me quite willfully. How easy it is to hoodwink you, my dear Granger.”
“Harry Potter is dead. Or as good as dead.”
A loud knock at the door made the two of them veer around.
The smile hadn’t quite died down on Draco’s lips as he walked down the corridor, lazily. It had been days since a genuine smile had flittered across his face. With new found dose of mysterious zeal, Draco paced around enjoying the quiet atmosphere. He let his feet carry him wherever they wanted to. As he crossed the corridor which led to the Gryffindor’s liar, he wondered why he was here. Rolling his eyes, he moved on. It was some distance away that Draco saw him for the first time.
What was Blaise Zabini doing in here? He seemed to be alone, but, he moved around as though he was speaking to someone.
Frowning, Draco quelled the urge to shout in joy at the familiar face and walked closer. Blaise didn’t notice his arrival.
Before him was a transparent frame, which seemed to hold liquid glass. Mirror? The contents in them were unclear, but Draco instantly recognized the familiar bushy hair. After close observation, Draco recognized Hermione Granger and…
But, that was impossible! Blaise wouldn’t be standing there and watching Hermione converse with Potter. Such situation would be a feast to the fellow Slytherin, who’d have seized the opportunity and handed Potter. It was a common knowledge among the Slytherins that, apart from Draco Malfoy there existed one other boy, who wished to serve the Dark Lord with utmost devotion. People had wondered who among the two best friends would win the shield with the Lord. For Draco, the competition would’ve ended had he successfully killed Dumbledore.
Well, that was the thing of the past. But now, as he studied the other boy, who seemed to absorbed in his silent talks and brisk moments, Draco wondered if there was more to it than mere craziness.
Something didn’t add up in here.
And then, he saw.
The Harry Potter, who spoke to Granger, seemed to move and talk exactly like Blaise Zabini did. Suddenly, Draco knew. He moved as fast as his feet could carry him.
As he pounded on the Gryffindor’s portrait hole, Draco hoped that he wasn’t too late.
The blessed voice was like a blanket of calm which stole upon his body. Hermione Granger was still alive.
“Granger! Get away from him! This instant! That isn’t Potter…”
Hermione nearly crashed against Draco as he strode past her. A smile touched her lips as he stood before her, protectively. He turned to look at her. “You alright there, Granger?” She managed a nod.
“Well, well, well. So, we have some company. That’s wonderful,” drawled Blaise as he moved by the fireplace and sat down on the couch. Lazily, he put his legs on the table and gazed at the two. Honestly, he had made some miscalculation. But, it didn’t matter now.
“Let me begin with some niceties. I hope that you find yourself quite comfortable in here? It would be a shame if I heard from you that you did not like my…arrangements.”
“Cut the nonsense Blaise. What’s happening in here?”
“I admire your enthusiasm, Draco. But, you see, I am not at the liberty to reveal much in here. I thought, that maybe, she would execute the task given to her. Unfortunately, I was wrong.” Blaise paused, frowning. His violet eyes stared at the two and he shook his head. “I wouldn’t have seen this coming. Excuse me. But, with the change in plans, I have other business to attend to.”
Draco leapt forward. His fingers found the wisp of thin air. There was a smirk on Harry’s face, before the image disappeared.
Draco turned around so fast that Hermione was taken aback. The anger and ferociousness on his face scared her. She edged back and away from him.
“So! This is what you refused to tell me. Blaise Zabini! Granger, you’re out of your Merlin damn mind. Are you freaking nuts? How did you believe him?”
Flushed with embarrassment and annoyance, Hermione said defensively, “Look, I had no reason to suspect. He acted like…Harry. There hadn’t been many instances where I had to suspect him. How was I to know that there was a prowling Slytherin in the guise of Harry?”
“How did you not suspect? We were kidnapped in here, Granger! Even after knowing that it didn’t occur to you that something like this could happen? What did he tell you to be so convinced? Huh?”
The snappy comments enraged her like no other. She had defended this moron and he was on about her stupidity! Clutching her fists tightly, Hermione turned away, ready to leave. It was only when Draco grabbed her wrist that Hermione stopped to glare at him.
His next words were spoken in a much calmer disposition. “Quit it, Granger. I am right this time. Accept it. You have been extremely foolish.”
In an equally calm voice, Hermione spoke, “Let go of my hand, Malfoy.” There were many things that Hermione could be. One of them was being stubborn.
Draco studied her, quietly. It probably wasn’t the right time to shove the facts; he was aware of it. Of course, that hadn’t stopped him. The girl had been crowned a ‘know-it-all’. But, it was because of the same girl, that the chances of his dying in here had doubled. He swore then that, if he were to die, he’d take Granger down with him. But, first, he had to find out something.
“What task did he give you?”
She looked up sharply. “What is it to you?”
“Everything, Granger.” With a sigh he let go of her wrist and opted to shove his hands into the mysterious depth of his cloak pockets. When he looked up, he fixated his vision somewhere above her shoulders, avoiding meeting her eyes. With another huge gulp of air into his lungs, he spoke, “Did he ask you to kill me?” It had been a soft whisper. But, Hermione heard him.
Her shrug was evasive. The hands fidgeted. And with certainty, Draco knew. Gnashing his teeth, Draco kicked the nearest object and let out a howl of pain before moving past her.
“Malfoy…Malfoy! Listen to me!”
“You have to!”
“I have no reason to.”
When he was a few steps away from the Portrait hole, he heard her slight trembling whisper.
“I would…I couldn’t have done that, Draco. You know it as well as I do.”
It was probably the way she addressed him. Or maybe it was the velvety softness of her voice. As he regarded her, he wondered if it could possibly have been the glistening tears in her voice. Perhaps it was just the pleading behind them. Or was it the way she pronounced his name? Draco couldn’t explain why he had walked back and let his hands snake around her slender waist. Why did he crave the nearness?
As she looked up at him with startled brown eyes, he wondered what was wrong with him. He had always thought that there was nothing extraordinary about her looks. And it wasn’t because she tried to groom herself and failed. It was because she tried not to and succeeded. But now, as he held her so close, he couldn’t help but admire those long lashes, the rosy flush which made her look desirable, the confusion and fear... Her breath was laboured. A waft of flowery fragrance invaded his senses.
“Dr-Draco,” she breathed.
He placed his fingers on her quivering lips. With maddening urgency, he felt a longing to...
The world around them seemed quiet, except for her ragged breathing. As he drew her close to him, she took in another sharp breath. Bewildered and terrified, she stood frozen in his arms. He could feel her shivering and he pulled her closer to him.
Draco’s mouth moved barely to form the words, “Why are you doing this to me?” The curls framed her face and he pushed back a stray curl. “Why?”
His gentle voice was alien to Hermione. Strangely, it seemed like a melody she wished to hear more often. This was wrong. The nearness, the touch, the dizziness…
Hermione placed her hand on his chest, intending to push him away, but they rested there, helpless. As he gently caressed her cheeks, the touch felt heavenly. Her eyes shut involuntarily.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
With great resolve, Hermione gave him a light push. For a minute, she was sure he wouldn’t leave her. But, slowly, with a shake of head, he moved away. When she dared to look at him again, he was nervously studying the back of his hands.
His gaze held no emotions and Hermione realized he was closing off.
“Draco…Malfoy…listen to me!”
“You wanted me dead, Granger. What would I want to listen?”
She was appalled at the layered coldness in his voice. Moments ago he had been so close to…
“This isn’t about my murder mission, Malfoy. You know it as well as I do.”
“There are a lot things I don’t know” And he was looking at her.
“It isn’t about what Harry asked me to do.”
Draco’s voice was raised in un-explained anger. “Tell me then, what it is about then? Is it about some kind of game you’re at? In all honesty, I told you it was important for me to know all the facts. But, you were being a total retard and thought…you thought I was the bad guy.”
“And why wouldn’t I?” Hermione screamed. “You have been nothing but a pain for the last seven years. You’ve made the lives of my friends miserable. You’ve insulted me! Did you think I would trust you even for a minute after knowing that you were preparing to kill Dumbledore just a year ago? Give me one reason why I should rest my trust in you, Malfoy. Just one good reason.”
The two of them stood glaring at the other, face flushed and menacing.
“I could just…”
Hermione touched her wand involuntarily. Unfortunately, Draco noticed. Hermione frowned when an unfamiliar emotion flittered across his face right before he looked away.
“Don’t…trust me. Well, this goes to prove my father right. You Mudbloods are ungracious.”
He just heard a sickening crack and Draco stumbled before a rush of pain invaded his jaw. Letting out a hoarse cry, Draco looked back to find Hermione in front of him, with her fist still raised. She’d punched him! The look of loathing on her face was daunting.
“You filthy little piece of scum! Just moments ago you were about to…and now…Malfoy, stay away from me!” Massaging her fist, she pushed him out of her way.
“No, no, no…wait! Granger!”
But she was already running as fast as her feet could carry her. Draco weighed the idea of following her but decided against it.
Well, he’d screwed it all up wonderfully.
A circle of cloaked men stood around the dim lit room. Their heads were bowed down respectfully. In the center was a gigantic, throne-like furniture which was occupied by a thin creature. A snake was curled on his right, hissing appreciatively at his caress. The pleasant smell in the room could’ve put them to sleep, but the men stood alert.
Blaise was among the clan. Nervous and fidgety, he didn’t want to be noticed. It hadn’t been his intention to let the Dark Lord know of his miscalculations. But, he’d realized too late that nothing escaped the Lord. As he stood among the circle of men called the Death Eaters, he wished he could just disappear.
One of the Death Eaters stepped forward, and spoke, their voice like that of a lover, “Master! It would have been so much better if we’d just killed the boy ourselves. The girl doesn’t seem to be ready to kill him.”
Blaise wished the woman would shut up.
“That’s enough, Bella.”
He could feel the droplets of sweat trickle down his back. Beads of sweat fell down the side of his face and he stood unmoving, waiting for the flood of pain. The Cruciatus Curse was something he was expecting, but, what else was in store for him?
“I admit it was a brilliant idea, an insult to the Pure Blood family. Killed by a Mudblood! The prospect had been amusing and cruel. However,”
Bracing himself, he waited.
“Things didn’t go like planned.” The Dark Lord looked directly at him. “Blaise, why didn’t it?” It could’ve been mistaken for a fatherly conversation, but the boy knew it was far from it.
“My Lord…I beg your pardon. I didn’t expect them to grow fond of each other. The Malfoy I knew hated Granger and the same applied to the Mudblood. But-”
Voldemort chuckled, the sound scarier than the wildest nightmare.
“Indeed. Love. The old fool who believed that lays dead. Hm. Interesting development.”
“My Lord, I never thought that-”
Blaise could feel the anger emanting from the chastised woman. He returned his attention and watched mesmerized as the Dark Lord hissed calling for the snake. Blaise assumed the worst. He was going to be fed to the snake! It was hard for him to stay standing, but Blaise Zabini would not give himself away. There was a flash of light and the next thing he knew was blinding pain like nothing else. Everything around him was a dull screech. Pain and agony like no other filled every cell in his body. Just when he thought it stopped, the pain began, all over again.
As he lay there panting and bruised, he shivered in terror. Voldemort sniffed. “I smell fear…” Another ugly chuckle before his gaze became fixed on the lone boy who stood a foot away from him. “Blaise, do you still want to finish him off?”
The words were slurred. His eyes unfocused. “My…Lord. Oh, yes! Yes, yes, yes…please...”
“That’s done then. Nott, what is this I hear about–”
And that was that. His matter was dismissed. For Blaise, the rest of the words became incomprehensible rumble of sound. Each and every part of him was aching, but, he relaxed. It almost felt like he was re-born. He let of the breath, which he had held unknowingly. Slowly, he smirked.
Draco Malfoy…here I come.
Draco let out a long suffering sigh at the sight of a glaring Hermione. It had been a great feat – persuading her into listening to what he had to say. But, unfortunately, now that he’d convinced her to listen, he wasn’t sure what he was about to say. Rubbing his palm together, he shivered slightly. The evening was mercilessly cold.
“Chilly, isn’t it?”
Her brows rose, but she didn’t reply.
“Granger, look. I know you think I am the villain here. But, there are certain things you’ve to understand. I want you to listen to me with an open mind and kindly do not judge me.”
With a roll of her eyes, she nodded. He wanted to smile at the haughty air of indifference she was trying to project. Even Draco Malfoy wasn’t fooled. The truth was that she was curious as to what he had to say.
Curiosity…strange emotion it was.
He took in a deep breath and stared at the wall opposite to him. The lack of patterns in them suddenly interested him. “I was told that if I did not kill Dumbledore, my parents will suffer.” His breath hitched as he continued. “He’d sworn to kill them slowly and once I’d watched their death, he’d kill me too.” There was a pause as he looked at her with pleading eyes. “I couldn’t kill him, Hermione. I tried. My plans were in full force. I was so sure of my victory. But, everything collapsed around me.” He looked away from her with a pitiful shrug. “I, the planner, couldn’t execute the plan.”
Hermione gave a sardonic chuckle. Surprised, Draco turned around haltingly. “You don’t believe me?” Draco asked frowning.
With a shake of her head, Hermione clapped. “Bravo!” She walked towards him. It was hard for Draco to stand still as she circled him with deep contempt in her eyes. Oddly, he couldn’t move.
“Master of deceit, aren’t you? What a touching tale! You know it as well as I do that it wasn’t the only reason you had readied yourself to kill Dumbledore.” He watched warily as she whirled around and pointed an accusing finger at him. “It was power you sought.”
Hermione waited for him to open his mouth before cutting him off, “What is the other side of the story, Malfoy? He must’ve made you promises. What did he promise to gift you?”
Draco stiffened visibly. With a cool glance, he shrugged. “Dark Lord never promises anything.”
Hermione sighed and shook her head. “Oh, let me rephrase it then. What did you anticipate in return, Malfoy?”
Without even knowing he was doing it, Draco was edging away from Hermione.
“I…alright, Granger.” He averted his attention away from her in an helpless manner. At that moment, he looked like a man, who had accepted his defeat. Hermione knew what was to come next. Folding her arms across her chest, she listened. “I’d be called the Dark Lord’s best servant. The amount of power I would have had was tantalizing. I still dream about being the best man of the Lord. But, I…” His voice shook with awe. There was a shine in his eyes, which revolted Hermione.
“Look at you! You make me sick!” Draco’s eyes snapped. “Do you have the slightest idea as to how many people have died because of your amazing arse of a Dark Lord? Pardon the language, but he’s a blood thirsty lunatic! He needs to be locked in an asylum. For years now he’s been mercilessly destroying families. How many kids like Harry have ended up parentless? All because of that vice man! You want to join his ranks?” Gritting her teeth, she glared at him. “You Malfoys are either totally daft or unbelievably inhuman!”
Draco smirked. “Malfoys are inhuman, Granger. Deal with it. Why has it gotten you so worked up anyway? It is an established fact, isn’t it? It is the talk of the town! Malfoy and their cruelty!” Draco said lightly.
The look he received was murderous. “Mockery is not going to save you, Malfoy!”
He bowed before her and mocked her with a scared stutter response, “You p-p-plan on ex-executing your ‘kill’ plan?” After an act of shivering, he smirked at her.
“Stop saying that!”
“What?” It was his turn to walk around her with the high and mighty attitude she’d thrown at him moments ago. “It makes you feel sorry for ever having wanted to kill my wonderful self?”
Eyes ablaze, palms in tight first, Hermione was trying to keep her cool. Draco sighed and kicked the wall in frustration.
“Look, Granger. I was trying to explain a few facts to you…but, you were bent on shoving me with rot. I am sorry for being a jerk.”
“Rot? You let out the most important parts and you expect me to hug you and proclaim you to be my knight in the shining armour? You’re a vile and selfish Malfoy. What makes you think I’d want to stay in your company?”
Draco remained silent for a while. When Hermione grew sure that he wouldn’t talk, he spoke, “I am sorry for what happened yesterday. It wasn’t my intention to invade your ‘personal space’ and…” he trailed off, his eyes locking with hers.
Heat rose in her cheeks and she felt unsettled. There wasn’t a single insult coming her way. Her weapon was gone. The resultant was her stutters. Somehow, that brought a smile on his lips. There was a new perspective to Granger and Draco wasn’t sure just how pleased he was to discover it. Old family directive was put to shame. It was a weird feeling. He knew there was something about them that was disturbing. There was electrifying anger between them, true. But, that wasn’t all. There was more. Draco chuckled.
“There was a time when I was mad at you, Granger. I still am.” He paused as she looked up at him. Slowly, he bent forwards making Hermione inch away. His voice was soft as he continued, “But, only, it’s transforming and making me mad about you.” Her head shot up to meet his eyes. There was a mirroring confusion in her eyes. “I admit it hasn’t been a very pleasant discovery. But, it won’t go away.” The distance between them was reducing with every step he took. “However, I assure you, it is only temporary. It is normal to feel that way under the given circumstances.”
A foot away from her, he stopped.
“Malfoy…look. There are more important things that we–” She was cut off when he covered her mouth with his hand.
“I’m a very impatient person, Granger. I just have one question for you at the moment: Do you feel the same way?”
He waited for a reply which never came. The battle in her eyes told him everything. She was just as nonplussed as him. Without another explanation, Draco lowered his lips to meet hers. For a minute he was sure she was going to push him away. But, the moment passed and she relaxed. Thousands of facts jumbled in her mind, but, at the moment, none of them seemed important. As he pulled her closer and deepened the kiss, tiny butterflies were invading her stomach. It felt surreal and blissful in the doomed atmosphere of fear and hopelessness. The moment was spell-bounding and neither of them wished to let go.
When they finally broke off to breathe, Draco smirked. “I hope you aren’t going to punch me this time, Granger.”
Hermione giggled as she rested her head on his shoulders. “Merlin knows, I probably should punch you. That’s what an honourable Gryffindor would have done.”
“Goes to show you aren’t all that honourable as you present yourself to be, Granger.”
She didn’t reply. There wasn’t a need for one. The anger was still there. But, for the moment, all of them seemed unimportant. It was true they didn’t understand each other nor had they ever been pals. But, the moment gave them hope. They would survive…they would win. The new found feeling would suffice.
The Dementors were impatient for their feast. Patronus marching around were keeping them away from the cheerful atmosphere inside the Hogwarts castle. Arrays of Muggles were huddled in a corner, fearful of what awaited them. Few lower rank Death Eaters guarded them, while the others were in the Great Hall, participating in the feast. The hall buzzed with an amiable chatter.
Within the very same castle, hundreds of students and few of the teachers were forced to stay in their respective rooms. Any trespasser would be severely punished. The once vibrant Hogwarts cast a pale aura of doom. Students, who rebelled, were never to be seen. The few of them who remained at the castle knew not to cross their limits.
A darkly clad man patrolled the castle ensuring that everyone was safely kept away from the blood thirsty killers. Once he was sure that his students wouldn’t be hurt, he entered the hall. His entrance was quiet among the loud boisterous chatter. His shrewd eyes whirred around the hall until they found the person they searched. With a sigh he walked towards the man, who seemed lost in his own world.
He man bowed low until the Dark Lord acknowledged his presence.
“Severus! Indeed. It is very kind of you to grace me with your presence.” The high pitched voice could’ve frozen the hottest of meal. Snape wasn’t fazed.
“I am always at your service, My Lord,”
There was a harsh chuckle. “That’s what you say. The boy is still alive, Severus. I hope you remember that.”
Snape, who was now knelt before him, nodded. “I am aware of it, m’lord. I heard Blaise was doing a good job.”
The Dark Lord stroked his little pet thoughtfully. “He is just a child.”
“You liked his plan.”
“I have my own.”
Silence followed, both men dwelling on their own ideologies. For Snape, it had been a hard time tracking the Potter boy. By now the he was sure that Harry would’ve received his message. It wouldn’t be long before he heard from him. Of course, he couldn’t let the Dark Lord know of it.
“Everyone seems to be ecstatic in here, don’t they?” observed the Lord in a strange tone akin to fondness.
“Your presence is to be given all the credit, My Lord,”
A humourless chortle followed. With a flick of his hand he called upon another darkly clad man to his side. With a nod, the man clapped to grab the attention of the people in the hall. Silence followed as the Dark Lord stood. “Let the feast begin!”
His command was followed by cries of fear and protest from somewhere as the Muggles were pushed towards the Dementors. The sight of their struggle evoked cheers inside the hall. Snape felt sick.
“By the way, Severus, flattery isn’t going to help you. I suggest you find Potter.” With a nod, Snape stood. “The place wouldn’t be the same without you around, Snape, would it? Bring me Potter. Time is running out.”
Snape felt a sudden chill.
Author's Note: Am so sorry for the long wait! I actually had this chapter on the first of last month. But, there is something terribly wrong with my PC. I'm using my friend's PC at the moment :( I haven't even gotten to reading the updates of my favourite stories :( I also promised to read one of your stories, am sorry for not coming in there yet. I'll do it asap. ^_^
Am actually a tad nervous about this chapter. Please let me know what you think ^_^ Thank you so much for all the reviews. I love you all :)
Everything around them seemed pleasantly peaceful. The tension which had existed between them moments ago seemed to have dispersed leaving behind a few nervous smiles in its wake. It seemed like they had tread into a whole new world.
“So, what was with the ‘I’m mad about you’ stuff you threw at me?” Hermione began in a teasing voice. Even as she spoke, she was surprised for having quickly adapted to this new territory that she had stepped into. Admittedly, she knew that this could be dangerous, but something made her believe that there was more to Malfoy than pure malice.
For once in her life, she doubted that very instinct which trusted him.
Pushing the thoughts away, she brought back her attention to study the guy in question with a mischievous smile. She knew it had been a rather leading question. Strangely, she didn’t mind the fact that she could be mistaken to be flirting.
Was it even a mistake to think so?
Draco regarded her with a lazy smile. “It was just a spur of moment thing. Seems like I caught you off guard, eh?”
It was something she had been expecting and she shoved him aside with a glare. He must have found it funny for he laughed at her. “Ouch. Touché. Did I just hit a sore spot?”
“You never quit being a jerk, do you?”
He grinned. “It’s a part of the whole Malfoy charm, my dear. Most girls go ga ga over it.”
With a roll of her eyes, she stood. “Well, what are we going to do? Are we just going to sit and pretend we aren’t caught up in a stupid castle?” She was silent for a minute, tapping her foot restlessly. “And to think, there are people who think it’s a wonderful tale to hear,” she mumbled.
Draco looked up at her with an incredulous expression. “Who thinks it’s a wonderful tale?” he asked quizzically.
Shaking her head she shrugged. “Those fairy tales where the Princess is stuck in the tower awaiting her Noble Knight…” Hermione trailed off and rolled her eyes when she saw Draco giving her a clueless stare. “Fairy tales, Malfoy!”
“There are tales of Princess stuck in castle?” he asked with wide eyes.
“Yes,” she replied patiently. “Many Princess have a terrible curse and to lift them off the curse, they need a Knight on the steed.”
Unconsciously, Draco rubbed the back of his ear, with the quizzical expression fixated on his face. The look was too comical on him to contain her laugh.
“You’re hopeless when it comes to Muggle things.”
The defensiveness shot up as he snapped, “I don’t find the Muggles worthy of my attention.”
Hermione let out a sigh. “And here I was hoping for a happily ever after.”
“Beg your pardon?”
Waving her hand dismissively, she paced the length of the room. Draco’s eyes followed her as she moved. “You are tense.”
“Of course I am,” she snapped.
Draco leaned back and shut his eyes as he whispered, “Tsk, fiery temper you’ve got, Granger.”
“Want a sample of how much of a temper I really have?” she ground out.
The smirk appeared, but his eyes remained closed. “I’ve had a fair doze of it way back in third year. Thank you very much.”
Hermione couldn’t help but mirror his smirk as she stopped in front of him with folded hands. “I remember. It was my favourite memory. I even used it for my Patronus.”
Inadvertently, Draco scowled. “Very amusing, Granger,”
“But it is! It must have been hard on you.” Her voice lowered to a purr. “Getting beaten up by me in third year, being thrown off the high horse as Harry was named the Triwizard champion…”
He snorted in response. “Diggory was the champion. Unfortunately, he was too dead to claim his trophy.”
Hermione blinked. “He was dead.”
“Well, yeah, that’s what I meant.” Draco’s posture looked very comfortable and nonchalant. But, Hermione knew she was irking him. The knowledge brought a smile.
“Harry faced all the hurdles and would have come out of the maze victoriously if it wasn’t for your forsaken Lord.” She was unsuccessful at hiding the bitterness behind her words. Malfoy’s eyes locked with hers and it almost seemed like it was a competition. It was Draco who looked away first.
“I wouldn’t say I wasn’t surprised to find him alive. Most of me was hoping that he’d accept defeat and send the red spark shooting up the sky.” He shrugged. “Guess he got lucky.”
“You call that luck?” Hermione looked heavenwards trying to contain her annoyance before she continued. “Every turn must have had an obstruction. Despite it all…he won!” The note of brimming pride in her voice was very much evident. Draco guffawed before covering his eyes as if he was going to take a nap. He was mumbling a few unintelligible words, most of which Hermione was sure were obscene.
She threw up her hand in frustration. “Unbelievable!”
The pacing continued.
Hermione jumped and looked around at Malfoy who’d suddenly sat up, eyes ablaze with new found energy. Slowly, her brows rose at him in question. When he didn’t speak but continued to have the strange look in his eyes, Hermione flipped.
“You better give me an explanation for-”
“Hurdles! That’s it!” He slapped his head in dismay. “How could I have been so stupid?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I might have an answer. It comes with the whole ‘Malfoy charm’”
Surprisingly, it didn’t snap Draco out of his trance. Now that was something Hermione hadn’t expected. She frowned. “Alright, spit it out. You’re starting to unnerve me.”
His legs seemed to have found springs as he jumped up and grabbed Hermione into a hug. “Hermione! You’re truly a genius for mentioning Triwizard tournament!”
“Gerrof!” Hermione pushed him for good measure. “I’m going to curse you if you kept screwing my brain. What the devil is on with you?” When he grinned at her she let out a growl. “I’m very serious!”
He threw up his hand in surrender. “Okay. Here’s the thing. Do you remember saying that there were hurdles just moments ago?”
Hermione gave him a heated look. “Get to the facts. I am not forgetful.”
“Alright, alright! You remember the Inferi Potter-”
“I’m getting there, Granger!” Hermione was beginning to reply but resisted the urge when she read the seriousness on his face. She let him continue. “There was a boggart in there. Maybe that was one of the ‘hurdles’”
Hermione’s brows knit together in concentration. “You mean to say we were almost close to our freedom and we didn’t realize?” Draco answered her with a nod. “But, that doesn’t make sense. A boggart? That’s too simple a trap. Even a kid could get past it.”
Draco coughed hiding his face. Confused, Hermione looked up to find him smirking at her. Comprehension dawned on her and she rolled her eyes. “That was because I wasn’t in the right state of mind.”
Hermione grit her teeth and looked away.
“Not meaning to break the fun, but I’d rather talk about the topic at hand rather than fight. Though, the prospect of banter is rather interesting. Did you know that your cheeks turn a really odd tinge of pink every time we-“”
“Quit it. Just…quit.”
Draco proceeded. “Granger, boggart is just a starter for us. It’ll get messier as we move.”
“How can you be sure?”
He shrugged. “I’m not. I just have a strong feeling about this. Why not give it a shot?”
Hermione gave him a genuine smile. “You’re not all that bad.”
“So, what are you waiting for ferret boy? Let’s do this!”
It was hard not to glare at her. “Stop calling me that,” he said as he proceeded outside.
“I can call you whatever I please,” Hermione continued with a grin.
Their verbal battle could be heard even as they walked away in unison. Behind all the laughter and smirk, Draco felt coldness spread all over. If his hunch was wrong, tonight could turn out to be uneventful. But, if he was right…terrified wasn’t quite the word to describe his feelings. Hermione, on the other hand, wasn’t sure if she felt anything at all. Everything seemed blurred.
Harry was forcing the food down his throat. The meat didn’t taste well, but it would help him survive. He briefly wondered if this was what his Godfather had been through. But, there were more pressing matters.
He was going to go in search of Ron.
After nearly a month of his absence, Harry knew that something was terribly wrong. It wasn’t the fact that Ron hadn’t returned. It was the lack of communication. Harry had told Ron to leave him a message. Of course he understood that Ron might want to stay back with his family. Despite the fact that it made him lonesome, it was something he was ready to accept. But, that couldn’t possibly explain the absence of the smallest of contact. He had told himself that Ron was safe. That was the only way he could calm himself.
Of course Ron was alright.
Shaking his head at his own childishness, Harry proceeded to pack what little of his belongings remained. Finally, when he was sure that the coast was clear, he stretched. It was time to remove the protection he’d cast around. As he proceeded with the removal, he heard a faint voice. Alert and ready, Harry edged away in the direction of the voice.
With a jump, Harry turned around. The darkness danced around casting a silhouette of the person who’d spoken. But, even as he saw him approach, Harry knew who it was.
“Dobby?” Harry asked apprehensively. The little elf bowed low until his bat like ears touched the ground. “What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“Harry Potter sir! The professor sent Dobby to warn Harry Potter.”
Harry frowned. “Professor McGonnagal?”
Dobby, with a shake of his head, took Harry’s hand in desperation. “Dark times, Harry Potter sir! Dobby is here to protect Harry Potter.”
Harry laughed. “I already told you to never get into the whole ‘protection’ business, Dobby.” Dobby pulled Harry closer. His eyes were round with fear as he looked around. “He-who-must-not-be-named do-es evil.”
With a sigh, Harry kneeled down before the elf. It occurred to him that he should’ve probably checked to see if it was indeed Dobby, but he did not.
“Dobby…who sent you to me? Is…did Ron send you? Is he alright?”
Shimmers of hope began to fill his heart. Maybe Ron hadn’t tried to return or contact him for the fear of being detected. He was fine. But, even as he convinced himself he saw Dobby’s eyes glistening with tears. “Dobby! Answer me. Is he fine? What message did he send you?”
Dobby began to sob. The words that left him was unclear, but Harry was sure he heard ‘dead’.
“Who’s dead?” Harry asked tensing all over.
“You friend, Harry Potter.”
It was like thousands of bricks were being slammed against his chest. Harry fell backwards. Numbness took over. The first thing that came to him was denial. Dobby was probably just kidding. Ron was here, hiding behind.
“Ron! This is very funny. But, come out now. We need to talk.” He let out a laugh. “This is crazy, mate. Did you have to pull a joke now?” It began with a chuckle and then grew into a spasm of laughter before he couldn’t stop himself. Dobby watched in dismay as he doubled over with laughter. This had to be the funniest thing Harry’d witnessed for sometime now.
“I am not fooled, Ron!”
The roaring laughter continued. Dobby tried to pull him out of it, but Harry shrugged him away. Finally, Dobby spoke.
“They is planning to kill Hermione miss. Professor sent Dobby to tell Harry Potter – Harry Potter return fast! Time is running out!”
Author's Note: After the long delay, here it is! I'm extremely sorry for the delay. I've had a...bad result which drove me away from computer. I haven't even checked my reviews. To all those who've reviewed and not gotten a response, I'll get to in a week's time. Thank you so much all the same! If it weren't for ya guys...I would've been despaired :D Thanks a lot for the amazing reviews with criticisms and compliments ^_^ I hope you liked this chapter :)