Chapter 20 : Disaster...
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“Hermione, go and get some rest. You can’t sit here all night,” he said gently, and she shook her head. “We would have been alerted if something went wrong,” Ron added, dropping Lavender’s hand and stepping closer to Hermione. “Please, Mione. Go to bed.”
“I’m fine, Ron,” Hermoine said wearily, rubbing at her temples. “I’m going to wait.”
“At least come into the living room with us then,” Lavender offered gently. “It’s freezing out here.”
Hermione gave the blonde woman a slight smile. “No, it’s okay, Lavender. Really. You two go ahead,” she said firmly, closing her eyes with finality. She heard Ron sigh again, before he and Lavender moved off down the hall. Hermione heard the click of the living room door opening, followed by the soft sound of it closing, and she opened her eyes, fixing them firmly on the front door. Hermione chewed her bottom lip, resisting the urge to look at her watch again. The Polyjuice Potion would have worn off half an hour ago, as well as Harry’s Disillusionment Charm, and yet they were still not back. Hermione sat back with a sigh, settling down to wait. She knew she should probably do as Ron suggested and go to bed, but she would not sleep until Draco was back and she could hold him in her arms again. Hermione closed her eyes and shivered. Lavender was right. The hall was freezing. Hermione pulled her coat closer to her body, trying to shut out the cold, but it stole through her clothes, sinking into her bones. Shivering, she climbed to her feet, rubbing her arms, and, scowling darkly, slunk off towards the living room.
Lavender was curled into an armchair by the roaring fire, Ron sitting on the floor at her feet, his head resting against her legs. She looked up when Hermione entered, giving her a tentative smile. Ever since Draco and Harry left, Hermione had sensed Lavender wanting to talk to her, probably about Ron, but Hermione had ignored the other woman. She did so again, sinking into a chair and pointedly closing her eyes. She did not want to talk to Lavender about Ron, not now. Not because she was jealous or upset; on the contrary. Perhaps now Ron would truly relax about her relationship with Draco. Hermione knew, regardless of what the redhead told her, he was still uncomfortable seeing them together.
A touch on her cheek startled Hermione, and her eyes flew open, her hand automatically plunging into her coat pocket, withdrawing her wand at lightening speed. A strong hand grabbed her wrist gently, lowering her hand and her wand, and Hermione sighed in relief as long fingers found their way into her hair. She smiled.
“I told you I’d be fine,” Draco whispered, smiling at her, although Hermione thought his smile rather forced. His skin was milk pale and icy cold, and his eyes dark and troubled. She flashed him a questioning look, and he shook his head, sighing deeply. Draco bent down and scooped her into his arms, lifting her out of the chair. He sat down in her seat, drawing her with him, and she settled into his lap, tucking her head against his neck. Draco’s arms went around her body, and he hugged her tightly, trembling slightly. Hermione placed a gentle kiss on the soft skin of his neck.
“Where’s Harry?” she whispered.
“Getting us a drink,” Draco replied, his voice tight and strained.
“What happened, Malfoy?” Ron asked softly, shifting away from Lavender’s legs, a small frown on his face. Draco sighed and rubbed at his temples, his face creased with worry.
“I’ll wait for Potter,” he said firmly, bending his head to catch Hermione’s lips with his own, kissing her softly and lovingly. Hermione sighed against his mouth, feeling her body melt into his. She could feel Ron’s eyes on her back, watching them and irritated, she broke away from Draco’s kiss, turning to throw her ex-lover a dirty look. Understanding, Ron muttered something under his breath and looked away into the fire. The living room door swung open to admit Harry, looking pale and ruffled, follwed closely by Ginny. Hermione gave a little gasp, disentangling herself from Draco and rushing to enfold her friend in a warm hug. She looked at Ginny questioningly.
“I hate waiting,” Ginny shrugged, and Hermione nodded, knowing exactly how she felt. Harry sank into a chair by the fire, Ginny moving to his side, running her fingers through his tangled hair before sitting beside him, her face worried. Ron sat up, batting Lavender’s hand away from his head, his eyes moving between Harry and Draco. Hermione fell back into Draco’s lap, his strong arms circling her body immediately. Harry tossed the blonde a pointed look, and Hermione felt dread clamp in her stomach.
“So?” Ron asked, trying to keep the irritation out of his tone. He had been peeved that Harry would not let him be in on the mission, and had ranted and scowled for a good twenty minutes after Harry and Draco had left, until Hermione and Lavender had both told him to shut up.
“I met with Zabini, as arranged,” Draco began, his voice tight. “He told me he had found a spell, some Dark magic that would allow him to access Voldemort’s powers, even though the Dark Lord is dead. I don’t know what this spell is, and he didn’t tell me. I couldn’t exactly ask, Weasley,” he snapped, interpreting Ron’s dark look as criticism, which Hermione guessed it probably was. “If I did, I’d have blown it. Snape obviously knows about this spell. Anyway, he didn’t give me much more than that, just the usual tripe about being a loyal follower of the Dark Lord; pretty standard Death Eater philosophy really.”
Silence reigned in the room as everyone took in Draco’s words.
“What could this spell be?” Lavender wondered, and Harry shook his head.
“I have no idea. Someone will need to go to Hogwarts, check the library, ask around, whatever needs to be done. I’ll ask Moody tomorrow, if I can find him. Lupin mentioned he’s moved again,” Harry sighed, pulling at his hair. He looked across at Draco, his expression intense. “Tell them everything, Malfoy.”
Draco scowled, throwing Harry a dark, brooding look. “Pansy showed up,” he said simply, his comment met with a gasp of horror from Lavender and Hermione. Ginny had her hands over her mouth, and Ron was frowning.
“I thought you said …”
“I know what I said, Weasley. I fucked up, didn’t I?” Draco snapped. “She showed up in the alley, relating my visit to her house to Zabini, who looked like Christmas had come early. I had no idea she hated me so much. If I suspected anything, I would have …”
“What, Malfoy? Killed her? That’s what Death Eaters do, isn’t it?”
“Ron!” Hermione and Ginny both yelled, and Ron had the grace to look slightly ashamed of himself. Draco shook his head sadly, his eyes dark and cold. He fixed Ron in an icy stare that made Hermione shiver.
“I would have brought her in,” Draco said calmly, although his face was like stone. “By force if I had to, but she would not have been able to run to Zabini. I am well and truly screwed now.”
“No, you’re not,” Harry replied softly. “She didn’t say anything about the Order knowing their plans, because how could she know. You’re still safe with us, Malfoy.”
“It will not take Blaise long to work it out though. He knows Draco is with us,” Hermione muttered, and Draco nodded in agreement, pulling her closer to him. She turned and buried her head against his neck, breathing in the delicious scent of him. “Can we go home now?” she asked, and felt him nod and plant a kiss on the side of her head.
“There is nothing I want more at the moment,” he whispered in her ear, squeezing her tightly. “Well, perhaps there is something I want more …”
Hermione giggled and pinched his arm playfully, her mind and body screaming out in agreement. Draco stood up, the sudden movement taking her by surprise and she squealed, throwing her arms around his neck tightly. He held her firmly against him, cradled in his arms.
“Potter, thanks for tonight,” Draco said softly. “Now, if you don’t mind, we’re going home.”
“I don’t advise that, Malfoy,” Harry said quickly. “You should stay here. The Manor won’t be safe, now that Pansy …”
“Well, we’ll go to Hermione’s flat, then,” Draco huffed, annoyed.
Harry sighed. “I don’t think …”
“We’ll be fine, Harry. Don’t worry, please. I’ll put security jinxes all over the house,” Hermione said gently, turning to look at her friend. “I just want to go home.”
Harry ran a hand through his hair, his face clearly troubled. “I don’t like it, Mione. I’ll call Fred and Angelina. They can be stationed outside, just in case.”
“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Potter!” Draco snapped, letting Hermione down gently, glowering at Harry. “I’m sick of being baby-sat by you lot.”
“Actually, Malfoy, it’s Hermione I’m concerned about. I couldn’t give a toss about you at the moment,” Harry fumed, standing up, his face slowly going red. Ginny reached up and laid a hand on his arm, but he shoved her off. “If you’d only done your job properly with Pansy then none of this would be happening right now!”
“Oh, so it’s my fault Zabini is running around playing dress-up in the Dark Lord’s robes, is it?” Draco yelled, stepping closer to Harry, his face twisted in anger. Ron jumped to his feet, his fingers brushing the wand in his pocket, his face hard and determined. Hermione put her head in her hands, feeling close to tears again. Ginny was yelling at Harry to shut up, and Harry was yelling at Draco. Hermione heard Laveneder pleading with Ron to sit down, and she knew it was only a matter of seconds before the men started throwing their fists around, or hexed one another. Stamping her foot in frustration, Hermione pulled out her wand, screaming “Silencio”. The room fell silent instantly, Harry, Ron and Draco’s mouths still opening, yelling soundlessly at one another. One by one, they turned to look at Hermione.
“That’s better,” she said serenly, walking into the center of the room. “I know we are all tense and on edge, but seriously boys, this is ridiculous! There is so much testosterone in the room at the moment I’m surprised I haven’t grown a beard. Stop acting so stupid! Harry,” she turned angry eyes on Harry, who met her glare for glare. “Stop accusing Draco of stuffing up. It was not his fault. Ron … just stop,” she pleaded, looking into his eyes. Ron gave a great huff and turned away, putting his back to Hermione. She took Draco’s hand. “And you. They just want to keep me safe, that’s all. This is not about who can protect me better, you or them. Honestly, at the moment, I’d probably be better off without any of you around me.”
Draco glared at her for a minute, before she saw his face and body relax, his shoulders dropping a little, his spine easing its tension. He nodded, and she smiled. “Good boys.” Hermione waved her wand, and the spell lifted. Draco reached out and pulled her to him, growling deep in his throat.
“You’re right,” he admitted. “Sorry, Potter,” he said harshly and Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes as Harry muttered a ‘sorry, Malfoy’ back. Ron would not speak to anyone. Lavender was hissing in his ear, but he ignored her.
“Can we go now?” Draco snapped at no one in particular, before grabbing Hermione’s hand and dragging her from the room.
“You really didn’t need to do that, Hermione,” Draco grumbled as they stood outside the front door of her flat. “Potter was out of line.”
She sighed, searching through her pockets for the key. “Please, Draco, don’t start,” she begged, her voice tired and strained. Draco crossed his arms over his chest, feeling insulted. He was angrier than he had been in long time. Potter and Weasely, especially Potter, had made him mad enough to want to curse them with Dark spells he had not thought about using in years. He knew how wrongly he had misjudged Pansy; he knew it the moment she appeared in Knockturn Alley with a smile of sickening triumph on her red lips. Yet, when he was at her forelorn little house in Wales, she gave the impression that her anger at him arose simply from rejection. He had no idea she was still closely connected to Zabini. If anything, he thought, feeling affronted, Potter should be screeching at Angelina. It was her source that told them Pansy and Zabini had not seen each other for years.
He looked back to Hermione. She was still fumbling through her pockets, muttering to herself.
“I can’t find it,” she cursed, stamping her foot, and Draco raised his eyebrows.
“Not meaning to sound condescending my love, but aren’t you a witch? Use your wand,” he said in a bored tone. She turned angry eyes on him and he smirked, feeling in the mood for a fight. He didn’t want to fight with her, he loved her, but Potter had severely ticked him off. The whole night had ticked him off. Draco felt his skin was crawling from his body he was so restless. Pansy’s appearance had thrown him way off course, and he knew he had wasted valuable time being shocked when he could have been dragging more information out of Zabini.
Hermione took out her wand, throwing Draco a furious glance as she did so, unlocking the door instantly. He felt immediately guilty for stirring her up. He didn’t want to make her mad, well, not so mad that wouldn’t sleep with him. He mumbled a contrite, “sorry”, before tugging playfully on a piece of her hair. She batted his hand away with an irritated sigh.
“Draco,” she began, turning around, her face flushed. She was keeping her temper under control, and he knew beneath the surface she was probably fuming at him. “I’m not in the mood for games.”
“What a pity, Mudblood, because I am.”
Draco felt his blood turn to ice, a cold voice echoing in his ears. He heard Hermione gasp in shock, looking over his shoulder. Slowly, he turned, finding a wand tip pressed into his face. Zabini, in his full Death Eater glory, was standing directly behind Draco. His lips curled into a smile as several soft ‘pops’ reverberated in the air around them, no less than six Death Eaters dropping to the ground at Zabini’s rear. They stood, their wands raised, pointed at Draco and Hermione. Damn Potter, Draco thought in annoyance, always has to be right.
Zabini’s smile widened as Draco took an involuntary step backwards. His first thought was to push Hermione inside, but his heart sank as she stepped out beside him, her own wand raised, her face pale and determined. Inwardly, he sighed. Once a Gryffindor …
“Good to see you again, Draco,” Pansy’s voice rang out, and he watched with silent terror as she lifted her hood, pulling it back from her face. Her hands moved to take down the mask she wore, but Zabini barked out a curt order, forestalling her action.
“You can reminisce later, Parkinson. Right now, though, you,” he said coldly, turning his eyes on Hermione, “and I need to have a little chat, Mudblood.”
“Leave her alone, Blaise,” Draco cut in warningly, his grip on his wand tightening. “Whatever you want, I’ll do it, but leave her out of this.”
“No,” Hermione gasped. “Draco, don’t.”
The Death Eaters laughed, and Draco shivered as their mocking laughter danced along his spine.
“No, Malfoy. You don’t interest us anymore,” Zabini said, raising his wand. “Avada …”
“No!” Hermione cried, shooting a Stunner straight at Blaise’s heart. It hit him square in the chest and he crumbled like a deck of cards, falling to the ground in a heap of flesh and black robes. Pansy screeched and a torrent of spells shot from the end of her wand. Draco pushed Hermione to the ground, before throwing himself sideways. He turned to look for her, watching with horror as two Death Eaters advanced on her. She Stunned one and jinxed another, before a third joined them, lifting his fist menacingly and smashing it into her skull. Draco gave a howl of rage and flew to his feet, his own wand forgotten, tearing across the short expanse of well-kept lawn, and slamming his body into the Death Eater, bringing them both tumbling to the ground. He narrowly avoided a curse flung at his head by Pansy, flipping over onto his back and using the Death Eater as a shield. The man fell on top of him, crushing the breath from his body. Draco threw him off with a snarl.
Winded, he lay clutching his ribs, panting heavily. Dimly, he saw Hermione sit up groggily, and his heart lept to see she was not seriously hurt. A trickle of blood ran slowly down her cheek, and she held her wrist against her chest, a pained expressin on her face. Hermione’s wand shot from her hand, and she looked up in surprise to see Pansy bearing down on her, her wand raised with determination, pointed at Hermione’s heart.
“Don’t you dare, Pansy!” Draco yelled, sitting up and searching frantically for his own wand. Pansy laughed shrilly, sounding like a maniac, and Draco cringed. What the hell had happened to her? He wondered briefly whether Zabini had her under the Imperius Curse. Pansy shouted over her shoulder for the others to leave before the Order showed up, and they disapparated quickly, grabbing Blaise and there Stunned collegues as they went. Pansy lifted her wand, Stunning Hermione, who fell back onto the grass looking like she was merely asleep.
“Pansy, why are you doing this?” Draco asked, his voice a whispered plea. His heart beat a million miles in his chest. He struggled to his feet, wanting to get to Hermione’s side. Pansy turned to look at him regretfully, her face pale and her eyes sad.
“I’m sorry it has to be this way, Draco,” she said in a low voice, before pointing her wand at him.
I’m dead, Draco thought. As the world exploded, he saw Pansy grasp Hermione’s arm, before shooting a spell straight at his heart. She vanished into the darkness, dragging Hermione with her. With a groan, Draco let his head fall back, Hermione’s name escaping from his lips, Pansy’s laughter ringing in his ears.
A/N: Hee hee. Sorry!! Hope you liked it and please remember, if you read, review!!
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