Chapter 3 : Chapter 3
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October 12th edition of “The Daily Prophet”:
GOLDEN TRIO DAMSEL AND DEATH EATER BAD BOY FOUND ALIVE… AND TOGETHER!!!
By Rita Skeeter
During the Final Battle in which the Dark Lord was ultimately overthrown, two very famous figures fell. Or so we thought! When last we saw them, Hermione Granger, the Brains of the Golden Trio, and Draco Malfoy, the Slytherin Romeo, were dueling each other to the death. Struggling desperately for control and survival, one final curse ended them both… And the magical world mourned the loss!
It now appears that this was a premature assumption on the Wizarding community’s part. The Daily Prophet has just learned that Ms. Granger and Mr Malfoy were recently discovered living together in Muggle Hammersmith. The circumstances of how they were found, and how they came to be in the first place are still unclear. All we know is that they definitely don’t despise each other anymore. It makes one wonder whether this wartime fable wasn’t just a big ruse so that these two “mortal enemies” could be together! What must poor Harry Potter think?
Once we find out more, this devoted reporter will bring you the truth. The truth you deserve to know!!!
Although Hermione was staring out the window, her eyes remained unfocused as her inner thoughts consumed her vision. She had curled herself tightly into the armchair, and was now allowing her mind to travel to the possible future, and what may come to pass as a result of the decision made last night.
She was exhausted. Lavender had supplied them with a plethora of reading material on the new treatment, and much of the previous night had been spent dissecting the pros and cons of these potions. After a lengthy debate, she had grudgingly agreed to support Draco in his choice.
Coming out of her thoughts briefly, she looked across the room to Draco and Lavender sitting at the table. They were discussing the finer points of the paperwork needed to get the treatment plan in place.
She sighed heavily, shook her head, and looked back out the window. She had a gnawing feeling in her gut. Something felt wrong about the whole thing, and the woman at the table had a very large hand in it. Hermione couldn’t put her finger on it, but she knew she would come to regret the events of this day for a very long time to come.
She was so caught up in her mind’s journey that she didn’t notice Lavender leave the room. A voice drew her out of her deep ruminations.
She blinked rapidly trying to bring herself back to the present. Looking down, she realized that Draco was kneeling next to her chair.
“Sorry. Guess I had a little trip to LaLa-land there.” Looking around, she realized they were alone.
“Where did Lavender go?”
“You really were off in another world, weren’t you? She left a few minutes ago to get something from her office.”
Hermione nodded, and directed her gaze back out the window.
“Penny for your thoughts,” he asked as he took her hand, and gave it a light shake.
Startled by the contact, she jumped, whipped her head around, and pulled her hand away. It hurt him that she was still having that reaction to him, and he looked down to avoid her gaze.
‘Damnit. I have to stop doing that,’ she thought to herself.
“Nothing really. I’m just daydreaming a bit,” she supplied lamely.
He brought his head up, and found a stressed, pensive expression marring her features. Choosing to ignore her obvious falsehood, he looked back down. Several tense seconds passed while they both searched for something to say.
Breaking the silence, Hermione finally asked sadly, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
He met her gaze, and with no measure of uncertainty in his voice, he answered. “Yes.”
She looked into his face and saw the grim determination set firmly in his features. She reached down, and patted his cheek gently.
Suddenly, the door swung open admitting a scrawny, tired looking man. Once spotted, the stranger made a beeline straight for Draco, who in turn stood to greet the man. The stranger, however, grabbed his collar roughly with his left hand, wound up with his right, and punched Draco squarely in the jaw sending him sprawling to the floor.
Hermione jumped from her chair, and with everything she had in her, shoved the man across the room.
“Get the hell away from him!” She screamed at the stranger.
She hunched over Draco protectively, and helped him to his feet. Tasting the blood in his mouth, Draco lightly fingered his jaw and looked down to take in the blood on his hand.
As they stood up, the man pulled a wand from his cloak and aimed it directly at Draco. Seeing this, Hermione instinctively pulled Draco behind her.
For several precarious moments the two opposing factions eyed each other warily. The only sound in the room was their laboured breathing. Deciding he’d had enough of this stand off, the man started to advance,
“You take one more step closer, and I’ll scream bloody murder.” Hermione threatened.
Shock and bewilderment rolled over the stranger’s face like a wave.
Finally collecting himself, the man breathed heavily through his anger, and barked, “How can you stand there, and defend him? You of all people should want him dead after what he’s done to you.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Hermione answered.
“What the hell! Have you completely forgotten the Great Muggle Attacks? Those bastards took everything that ever mattered to me… and you!”
Not understanding, her brow creased in confusion as she shook her head.
“Hermione, just get out of the way!” The man growled.
“No!” She countered finding her voice. “And how do you know my name?”
“What do you mean ‘how do I know your name’?”
“It’s a relatively simple question. What about it don’t you understand?”
He shook his head baffled by her behaviour, and screamed, “Move it!!!”
This made both Hermione, and Draco jump, and retreat further toward the window.
“Hermione, please move. This man is dangerous. Please, he might hurt you.” Draco pleaded from behind her.
“No!” She repeated to Draco standing her ground.
The man shot Draco a disbelieving stare. He looked thoroughly confused. “What did you just say?” The man asked him in a hushed voice.
“Really now, who are you?” Hermione cut in pinning the man with a glare.
The man looked from Hermione to Draco utterly floored.
“Hermione, it’s me, Colin,” he said as he searched her eyes for recognition.
“Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
“Hermione, what is wrong with you? What’s wrong with him for that matter?” He said motioning to Draco.
“They were obliviated five years ago Colin,” came a voice from behind him.
He spun around to find Lavender watching him cautiously from the door. Keeping his wand arm trained on Draco and Hermione, he turned his attention more fully to Lavender.
“What do you mean they were obliviated?” Still not believing what he saw before him.
She began to creep slowly into the room as she spoke. “Just that, Colin.”
She paused to choose her words carefully. Hermione, and Draco had still not remembered that they were trying to kill each other when the curse was leveled. She didn’t want them discovering that fact now.
“They were both hit with the Obliviate curse during the Final Battle. Confused by the fighting around them, they managed to get away together.”
Lavender had made her way into the room by this point, and was now standing between Colin, and Draco and Hermione.
“Colin, they don’t know who you are. They don’t even really know who they are yet,” she said as she started to walk toward him forcing him to back up in small degrees.
Not liking how she’d taken over the situation, Colin grew angry and agitated.
“I don’t give a flying fuck if he remembers me or not. He’s going to pay for what he did to my family!” He screamed as he extended his wand arm more fully.
“Colin, you don’t know that it was him.”
“I do know. It was him, and his lot. Now Lavender, if you don’t move, I’ll just curse you first.”
Shocked by Colin’s threat, Lavender scuttled backwards. When she bumped into Draco and Hermione, he threw his arm protectively around her middle, and drew her to him causing her to gasp.
“Lavender,” he whispered, “get behind me.”
“No,” she said definitively.
His face scrunched up at her answer in frustration. Now he had both women standing directly in front of him like a wall. This wasn’t right. He was supposed to be defending them.
“What is with you two today? Do you have a death wish or something?” He asked getting irritated.
“I’d like to know the answer to that too!” Colin piped in aggravated by both Lavender, and Hermione’s protectiveness.
As he was asking this, Lavender’s eyes shifted slightly to just over his left shoulder for a split second. It was long enough, however, to draw Colin’s attention. Realizing someone was behind him, he turned quickly but before he could react, Harry and Ron were on him.
There was a brief struggle, but Ron and Harry disarmed him, and had him restrained.
“Ron, can you get him out of here? I’ll stay and make sure everything’s alright.” Harry asked slightly winded.
Without a word, Ron nodded, took a hold of Colin, and escorted him from the room. As he did so, Hermione followed slightly keeping him in her sight a little longer, and bringing her closer to the door.
“What the hell was that about?” Draco asked shakily.
Lavender led Draco easily to the armchair, and sat him down.
“I suspect it has to do with that article published in The Daily Prophet today.” Harry answered.
“What article?” Hermione questioned.
Lavender shot Harry a look of warning, which he understood immediately. There was no way she would allow them to find out the truth from an article in that rag.
“It’s nothing,” she answered quickly. “Just some gossip magazine.”
Hermione eyed Lavender suspiciously not buying that answer for a second.
Sensing Hermione’s building mistrust, Harry said, “Alrighty then. Let’s start from the beginning. What exactly happened?”
Lavender picked up on his cue, and started by explaining how she’d been with them talking through the paperwork, and the description of the events unfolded from there with Draco as the main storyteller.
For her part, Hermione only added to his recounting of the situation with one or two words of support here and there. Having heard the light strains of a conversation held by two men in the hallway, Hermione grew curious about what was going on out there, and wandered inconspicuously closer to the door to take in the conversation already in progress.
“I just don’t get it. They don’t remember anything?” Colin asked.
“Listen Colin, I know it’s a little hard to understand. But the truth is… “
Here, Ron paused. He looked around trying to find the right words, and then, looked back to Colin.
“The truth is that they have no memory of their past. Draco was so badly cursed at the beginning that Hermione had to teach him to speak.”
“But why would she?”
Now he understood how Hermione must feel with him sometimes. Getting slightly frustrated with Colin’s refusal to accept the fact, he answered him.
“For five years they had no one but each other to rely on, Colin. They lived on the street together. They survived in shelters together. It’s taken some getting used to, but I had to try to look at it from their perspective. They’ve spent nearly as much time being friends… family almost… as they did hating each other.”
Colin had tears in his eyes. He felt so frustrated. He finally had his chance to make that git pay, and the stupid prat didn’t remember any of it.
Ron reached out, and placed his hand on Colin’s shoulder in support.
“I know this is probably the last thing you want to hear right now, but Draco has become a better person because of Hermione.”
Colin tensed, and his jaw clenched. Ron squeezed his shoulder a bit to sooth him before continuing on.
“He really isn’t the same bloke he was all those years ago in school. Thanks to Hermione, he’s actually tolerable.”
Colin started to laugh despite himself. The tension flowed out of him, and he slouched back against the wall. He shook his head, and sighed.
Sobering, he said, “That still doesn’t bring them back Ron.”
“I know, mate, I know. Listen, get yourself out of here before I have to report you, and take you in. We’ll go for a butterbeer later?”
Colin nodded, and pushed himself off the wall.
“I’ll see you later.”
Ron watched the dejected man walk slowly down the hall. He couldn’t blame him for his anger. The poor bloke had lost his entire family to a Death Eater attack. Ron could only hope that Colin hadn’t revealed too much to Hermione. He took one last look at Colin’s retreating form, and headed back in to the room.
A myriad of emotions coursed through Hermione making it nearly impossible for her to think straight. He was letting go of his own old preconceived notions, and learning to accept the new man Draco had become. The excitement of hearing him speak those words bubbled through her. ‘Did he really feel that way?’ She thought to herself.
As she stood contemplating the conversation, something solid slammed into her nearly knocking her to the floor. She felt two large hands grip her forearms to keep her from falling, but they didn’t release their hold once she was solidly on her feet.
She looked up from the chest in front her, and her eyes connected with cobalt blue ones. They stood there motionless for what seemed like an eternity, but in truth was probably only a few seconds. His eyes flicked down to her mouth, and her breath hitched. In response, he moaned lightly, released her arms, and took a step back.
Jamming his hands into his pockets, Ron awkwardly focused his eyes downward. He cleared his throat, and unwittingly snapped Hermione out of the daze his close proximity had momentarily put her in.
“Hi,” he began shyly.
She felt her face grow hot, and a quiet “Hello,” was all she could manage in return.
“So, how are you doing?” He asked still not looking up at her.
“That’s good,” he mumbled. “You’re sure you’re okay?” He asked.
“Yes, yes. Listen Ron, about before…”
His gaze quickly slid up to her face, but immediately lowered back down to a spot on the floor.
“You were right. I was being a prat, but if you want me to leave, I can just…”
He started to turn back out the door.
“No,” she called out urgently grabbing his arm, and stopping his departure. “No,” she said a little more quietly.
He looked at her small hand on his arm, and then raised his eyes to meet hers.
Without letting go, she took a deep breath, and continued on, “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I just heard what you said to that man in the hall.”
His ears grew red, and he had to look away. “Hermione… I…” he stuttered.
“Did you mean it?”
He studied her, and considered his words carefully.
“I’ve really been trying to understand, and I almost do.”
She nodded, and released his arm opting to wring her hands instead.
She looked down, and said almost inaudibly, “Thank you.”
Throughout this entire conversation, they had slowly been moving closer, and closer together.
As they stood mere inches apart, both realized how the space between them had shrunk, and a charged moment of silence invaded their company. Her clasped hands brushed inadvertently against his taut stomach causing his breathing to increase and deepen. In turn, each heavy exhale he made gently warmed her ever nearing brow.
And yet, through all of this, they refused to allow their eyes to meet. Perhaps it was in the misguided hope that if they didn’t make eye contact, they could fool their minds into believing they weren’t getting as close physically as they were. His body taking control from his mind, Ron’s hands moved up to lightly caress her forearms. But before he could even make contact, a voice came charging into this euphoria to break up the moment.
“What do you think we should do, Hermione?”
They both turned toward the source of the comment, but unfortunately, Hermione was just as distracted as Ron.
“Hmm… what?” She responded.
Draco, Lavender, and Harry just stared at them wide eyed before breaking into a fit of laughter.
“You two are hopeless.” Draco managed through his chuckles. “Can’t even be in the same room together for more than a minute before trying to climb all over each other.”
“Oh, they’ve always been like that. Just normally, they’re screaming at each other at the same time.” Harry joined in.
Hermione and Ron blushed madly.
Giving them a slight reprieve, Harry continued on, “But seriously, Ron and I were sent here by the Ministry as an additional security measure. And after what happened here this morning, I’d say it’s absolutely necessary.”
“What exactly did happen this morning?” Asked Hermione.
Harry, and Lavender shared a look until she finally conceded with a low breath, and a slight nod.
“It’s a long story, and I think that maybe you two should have a seat.” Harry said referring to Draco, and Hermione.
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