Chapter 6: He's Gone
Hermione woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Then she remembered that she was pregnant. Suddenly her relaxation turned to stress. Just then she was startled by a tapping on her window. She looked and saw Hedwig perched on the windowsill outside. “Hedwig, how nice to see you again.”
Hermione opened the window and Hedwig flew in, landing on her bedpost. Hermione quickly untied the letter from her leg; she had been expecting a letter from Harry. She opened the letter with trembling fingers as she remembered the feeling of dread she had gotten as Hedwig flew away last time.
It’s good to hear that you’re all right. I hope school is going well. However, I am writing today under much graver circumstances. Last night as Ron and I were searching for the next Horcrux, we were ambushed by Death Eaters, Lucius Malfoy was among them. We put up a good fight, but Ron was injured in the fight. I apperated us out, and back to the Headquarters of the Order, but it was too late. Ron passed away in the early hours of this morning due to the extent of his injuries. There was nothing we could do to save him. I’m sorry that you had to hear this terrible news in a letter but I am unable to leave Headquarters right now. I’m doing as much as I can for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, but I understand their grief. I’m organizing the funeral, it will be held at Hogwarts on the 30th of September. Dumbledore has kindly offered lodgings for everyone, and to have Ron buried behind the Quidditch Pitch. It’s where he would’ve wanted to be buried. Once again, I’m extremely sorry to have to tell you this in a letter, but I am still here for you, as well as Ginny is. Please look after her for me.
“No…no.” Hermione raised a hand to her mouth and dropped to the floor in shock. “No! It can’t be true…no! This can’t be happening!” She began to sob uncontrollably.
Draco heard Hermione screaming, and frowned. ‘I wonder what’s wrong.’ He left his room, wrapping his bathrobe around him as he went. He knocked on the door softly. “Hermione, are you alright?” Draco could hear her crying and so he opened the door to find her lying on the floor sobbing. “Hermione…what’s wrong?”
“Ron…he’s…he’s gone.” She cried as Draco lifted her into his arms. Hermione locked her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder.
“Well, yes. He’s not at school this year. But that’s nothing to cry about.” Draco rubbed her back gently.
“No, he’s gone. He died. He was killed last…night…in an attack.” Hermione cried.
“Oh.” Draco whispered. He held Hermione for a while, until her sobs died down, and then he looked down at her. “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine.” Hermione nodded while wiping her eyes. She stood and wiped them again. “I have to be strong. It’s what he would have wanted.” Draco marveled at her strength. She had been through so much already, and now another burden had been placed upon her shoulders and she was still standing tall, and strong as ever.
“Hermione, you don’t have to go to class today if you don’t want. I’m sure the professors will excuse you, if I tell them of your situation.” Draco offered. “Take the day to relax and calm down.”
Hermione set her face. “No. I’m going to class. I can’t just take a day to calm down whenever something in my life goes wrong.”
Draco nodded and turned to leave the room. “Let me know if you need anything, okay?” Then he was gone. Hermione stood there for a minute, surprised by sudden Draco’s offer.
‘What has gotten into him? He’s being…nice. This is a little creepy. Then again, I spilled all my secrets to him. That was probably the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. Apart from letting Harry and Ron leave school this year.’ Hermione sighed and started getting ready for her first classes of the day, History of Magic and Arithmancy. She pulled her hair into a ponytail and headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
When Hermione reached the Great Hall she could feel every eye on her and she could hear everyone whispering. Hermione sat down at the Gryffindor table and looked around at everyone sitting there with a frown. “What’s going on? What are you looking at?”
“Umm…Hermione, haven’t you seen the Daily Prophet?” Neville Longbottom asked nervously.
“No. I don’t feel the need to read that rubbish anymore.” Hermione shook her head angrily. “Even if Rita Skeeter did quit. Where’s Ginny by the way?”
“Hermione, you might want to look at this.” Neville said as he handed Hermione the paper. Hermione snatched the paper from his hands and scanned the front page. The headline read:
Young Teen Slain in Death Eater Attack
“No. Not in here too. No…I can’t…I can’t deal with this. All of this is too much right now. I just…I just can’t.” Hermione stood up quickly and rushed from the Great Hall.
Draco saw Hermione leave the Great Hall and sighed. “Poor girl.” He muttered under his breath as he read the headline on the front page of the Daily Prophet. He threw the paper back down onto the table and left the room.
He followed Hermione to the Portrait leading to the Head Common Room. Draco watched Hermione walk up to the portrait and suddenly stop. Hermione moved to the side of the portrait and pressed her forehead against the cool stone wall. “Hermione…are you okay?” Draco asked as he walked up beside her.
Hermione sniffed and glanced at him. “Honestly?” Draco nodded sympathetically. “No, I’m not okay. I’m terrible. I’m scared to death about this pregnancy, I just lost one of my best friends, my parents are divorced and my father’s an abusive drunk. My life is perfect.” Hermione felt her eyes sting with tears and she turned around so she was leaning with her back against the wall. She slid down until she was sitting on the floor. “I can’t do this.” She whispered as she buried her face in her arms and cried.
“Yes you can. You’re Hermione Granger. You can do anything. In third year, you punched ME. This is me, we’re talking about.” Draco chuckled lightly. He tucked some of her hair behind her ear and hooked his finger under her chin, lifting her face to meet his gaze. “Hermione, life isn’t perfect. You can’t let it get you down. You’re an incredibly strong person. Trust me, I know, I was on the receiving end of one of your punches, remember?” Hermione choked out a laugh. “Even if you think you can’t deal with it all by yourself, there are other people around to help you. I’m here to help you through all of this too, and so is Ginny. She really needs you right now; she just lost her brother. If you need me, let me know. But for today I think you should rest. Take the time to deal with and process everything that’s happened lately. You need it. I’ll tell your teachers where you are, and I’ll even pick up your homework for you.”
“Thank you Draco. I really appreciate it.” Hermione smiled softly. She stood up and turned to the portrait. “Memories.” The portrait swung open, and Hermione held it’s frame and looked back at Draco. “Who knew that you could be so kind?” With that she left him standing alone in the corridor.
“Not me.” Draco whispered to himself. He turned and headed off to his first class, Ancient Runes. However, he couldn’t concentrate on anything the teacher was saying. His mind kept wandering back to Hermione, and the look of absolute horror on her face when she saw the front page of the Daily Prophet. ‘Why can’t I stop thinking about her? Am I falling for her? No, absolutely not. I can’t fall for Hermione. Father would kill both of us in an instant. I can’t do that.’ Draco sighed and Pansy frowned. She could see from the look on his face that he was thinking.
‘What could Draco be thinking about? What is so important that he isn’t paying attention in class? This isn’t like Draco. Something’s not right, and I’m going to find out what.’ Pansy glanced at Draco again before returning her attention to the front of the class.
At lunch Pansy sat right next to Draco and smiled. “Hello Draco.”
“Hello Pansy.” Draco answered hollowly.
“What’s the matter? I didn’t see you at all yesterday, and now today you didn’t even bother paying attention in class.” Pansy asked as innocently as she could.
“Pansy, there are more important things in life than you. I was dealing with some extremely difficult situations yesterday, and today I was distracted by something that doesn’t concern you at all.” Draco snarled. He stood up and then spoke again. “By the way, I don’t like you, so quit trying to force yourself on me. It’s not going to happen.”
“Why not?” Pansy growled angrily.
“Because there’s someone else. Someone better than you.” Draco snapped. With that he picked up his book bag, turned and left the room. ‘What the hell did I say that for? There’s no one else. Now I’ve just pissed off Pansy, father warned me not to do that. Damn it. Why the bloody hell do I have to say whatever the hell pops into my head? I’m such an idiot. Well, I guess I’ll just have to deal with whatever she’s going to do now.’ Draco found himself standing outside the portrait of the Hogwarts crest. “Pure.” Draco walked through the Portrait Hole and over to Hermione’s bedroom door. He knocked and waited for her response. “Hermione, it’s me. I brought you your homework from this morning. I got your homework from your afternoon classes as well.”
The door opened slightly and Draco furrowed his brow. “Hermione…are you alright?” Draco pushed the door open slightly more and poked his head into the room. “Hermione…?”
“Malfoy! What the bloody hell are you doing in Hermione’s room? Get out! Now!” Ginny shouted from Hermione’s bed in the middle of the room.
“Oh shut it Weasley. I came to see how Hermione was doing.” Draco snapped.
Just then Hermione walked into the room from the bathroom. She looked pale and tired. “What are you two on about now?” She asked in an exhausted tone.
“Nothing. Weasley was just telling me that I shouldn’t be here.” Draco said non-cha. He smirked at Ginny and then looked back at Hermione. “Hermione, are you alright?” Draco asked, suddenly serious. Hermione blinked, and nodded.
“Yes, I’m fine. Could you please excuse us?” She gestured towards Ginny.
“Sure, it’s just that you look really pale. I’ll be in my room. Let me know if you need anything.” Draco said, concern in his eyes. Hermione nodded, and watched as Draco left the room.
Once he was gone Ginny turned to Hermione. “What the bloody hell was that all about?” She asked, obviously surprised by Draco’s actions.
“Hmm…” Hermione murmured. “Sorry Ginny, what was that?”
“I asked you, what the bloody hell that was all about. Since when does Malfoy call you Hermione, and not one of the many foul names he has for you? And since when does he even care how you’re feeling, or if you’re okay?” Ginny snapped angrily.
“Don’t worry about it Ginny.” Hermione scoffed. “He’s just trying to get to you. Just ignore him.”
“I suppose. Listen Hermione, the reason I came here today was because I wanted to see how you were taking the…the news…about R…Ron.” Ginny stuttered.
“Oh. I’m better since this morning. I mean, I miss him, don’t get me wrong. But I’m trying to stay strong, for both of our sakes.” Hermione drew a shaky breath. “It’s just…so…hard Ginny. I miss him…so much. I ca…can’t believe…he…he’s gone…” Tears stung Hermione’s eyes and she sat down on the bed. “It’s…just so…so ha…so hard.”
“I know. I miss him too.” Ginny also began to cry. Her shoulders started to shake violently, and she clutched onto Hermione, still sobbing. The two of them slung to each other desperately and cried. “I…we…we never really got along…but…he was…he was my…my brother. I miss him so much. Who’s…who am I…going to…fight with over…the boys I date now?” They both choked out a laugh. “He always…looked out…for me. Now…who’s…going…to?” Ginny bawled.
“I’m still here for you though Gin. I’ll look out for you, and hopefully there won’t be any other guys you date. You’re with Harry, remember?” Hermione sniffled. She let go of the younger Gryffindor and wiped her eyes.
“Yeah, I remember. I guess it’s just hard to accept that Ron’s gone.” Ginny sighed. “He’s really gone. He’s not coming back.”
Hermione looked out her window towards the Quidditch Pitch. ‘I miss you Ron. Why did this have to happen now? I need you now more than ever. And…I love you.’ Hermione got a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach as she realized this fact. ‘But it doesn’t matter now. I can’t tell you, you’re gone.’