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Chapter 7 : Entry Seven
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Not really. I could care less, but disclaimers are fun, anyway.
December 28th, 1997 She’s gone. I can’t believe it. She’s in the Dark Lord’s hands now.
Before I delve into that, I’ll start where the last entry left off; I could do with a bit of mind distraction, anyway:
The weekend following my punishment was a blur. I don’t remember doing my homework, yet it sat completed in my bag on Monday morning. I can’t remember eating, either, but, according to my growling stomach, I’m not so sure I did, anyway. I was vaguely aware of talking with Granger while completing our Head duties, but I can’t recall a word we said to each other. I guess my mind was too full of worry and anxiety to have room to remember such things.
However, once lessons started back up again, I had no choice but to pay attention. Since it was the end of term, the teachers were giving us extra in-class assignments and piles of homework to complete before the holiday. Also, lessons distracted me from my task, which, needless to say, I welcomed graciously.
Granger seemed to understand that I was not going to tell her where I had been that night, the night my master tortured me. She’s quite smart; I wouldn’t put it past her if she guessed right on her own accord.
Zabini has changed as I have, only in the opposite way. He thinks he’s the big boy now. He is disturbingly and dangerously obsessed with working for the Dark Lord, possibly even more noticeably so than Bellatrix Lestrange, and that’s saying something. I swear, if I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s in love with him. His grades have gone down considerably, and he hasn’t been taking care of himself very well. He has developed bags under his eyes, his hair is considerably unkempt, and professors constantly have to remind him to tie his tie properly instead of flinging it on carelessly. Though some would be this way even if they were not involved in dark activities, this is completely out of character for Blaise. He had always had an obsession with organization and cleanliness. He was not known to leave the dorm without his hair combed neatly, and he showered at least twice a day. He went from a perfectionist to quite the contrary. No, it was not like him at all.
With all the stress of the end of term that I held within me, I needed fresh air. I needed it. I literally hyperventilated during Transfiguration two weeks ago, after being weighted with the burden of a double load of homework along with a difficult and energy-draining lesson that involved transfiguring our partners into ferrets. I in particular was not fond of demoting myself to that particular rodent, for reasons Potter and Weasley have so kindly reminded me about over the last three years.
I had been nervous since the beginning of class, for my heart always beat faster than ever when reminded of ferrets. I was paired with Potter, of course—McGonagall never had been known for her mercy. Potter smirked the whole time when it was his turn to transfigure me. I can’t remember more than a second of being a ferret, for my whole world turned black almost immediately after Potter muttered the incantation.
I woke up a quarter of an hour later to the oh-so-welcoming jeers and laughter of the rest of the class. According to McGonagall, I had fainted from an episode due to my heart beating far too fast. The professor assured me that I must have been overly stressed and hadn’t had enough breakfast that morning before sending me off to Madam Pomphrey with a note. Though she may have convinced herself that I had fainted due to pure exhaustion, I did not believe my sudden episode had anything to do with that; I had a sneaking suspicion that Potter had uttered more than just the appropriate transfiguration spell under his breath.
Speaking of Potter: I have been tempted many times to speak with him about what I know about what’s going on with the Dark Lord. The fact that the Minister of Magic is a death eater is really disconcerting. Most of the magical population will do everything the Minister says and believe whatever he tells them. They may end up joining the Dark Lord without their knowing since he’s in power. Thankfully, everyone knows who the death eaters are; otherwise, Scrimgeour could employ them in the Ministry, also.
Despite the temptation, I still haven’t and do not intend to tell Potter anything about the Minister or anything that I've found out that could be a threat. This is not because I have anything against him—which I most certainly do—but due to the fact that I would be sent to Azkaban if I told him anything. I’ve trusted Granger enough not to turn me in for being a death eater, but, if Potter got a hold of direct proof that I am one, I’d be sent to the prison straight away. In telling Potter about the Minister, I’d have to tell him about my allegiance to the Dark Lord. Therefore, I will not tell Potter anything, for risk of being sent to the living hell that Azkaban holds dear.
I’ve considered telling Granger, though. She wouldn’t turn me in like Potter would, would she?
Speaking of her: She’s been making my life so much easier to deal with by simply being there. That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true; by being a friend to me, my problems have seemed almost simple. I doubt that she knows how much of an impact she has on me, nor do I wish to tell her. I would not want her to think that I’m inferior.
I don’t know what she’s told Potter, Weasley, and Weaslette, but whatever it was, they seemed to have hated me more than usual during the past few weeks. Every time I see them in the corridors, their eyes never leave me until I’m out of sight. It’s awfully disconcerting. I’ve asked Granger what this was all about uncountable times since I’ve observed this occurring. She didn’t seemed too pleased about me bringing up that topic the last time I did a few days ago on Christmas Eve. We were completing our Head patrol duties (only the Heads had to patrol during the holidays) for the evening and were currently checking the Astronomy Tower for any naughty students—most often, couples out for a romantic, moonlit snog.
“For the last time, I don’t know, Malfoy! Ask them yourself, why don’t you.”
It wasn’t often that she heated up like that with me, but I knew that, this rare time, it would be wise for me not to pursue the subject. However, I did, anyway. I could tell that she was hiding something from me; she never looked me straight in the eye when we discussed this.
We finished our long journey up the tower staircase and exited out into the frozen, snowy night. Shivering, I doubted that any snoggers would be too keen on breaking curfew on such a cold night.
Granger noticed my teeth chattering in the cold; we only had our school robes on. “Here,” she pulled out her wand and performed a warming spell on my head, then her own. I felt the spell spread throughout the rest of my body and immediately stopped shivering.
I thanked her and, with the outdoors more welcoming, strode to the edge of the tower. Granger followed and peered over the stone wall.
“It’s beautiful!” she gasped when she saw the scene below her. I observed what she was gapping at and couldn’t help but agree. What normally would have been obscured by the darkness of the night, the castle and grounds were illuminated by the glow of the full moon upon the newly fallen snow. The towers and turrets made elegant, monstrous shadows upon the snowy grounds. What really touched the scene was the moon’s gleam upon the frozen lake. It looked like something from a dream.
“I love Hogwarts,” Granger whispered meaningfully.
For the first time, I silently agreed. I had never felt at home in the castle. I had always been in love with Malfoy Manor. However, seeing Hogwarts from that angle on that beautiful, starry night, I couldn’t help but smile. Hogwarts really did have something to love.
My mind wandered back to our previous conversation. “You know something, Granger. There’s something you’re hiding, isn’t there?”
She turned her gaze to me, revealing to me her puzzled expression.
I continued, turning back to the gorgeous view, “Have you told them anything?” I heard her scowl into the night. I knew she was annoyed with me for bringing the conversation back, but I couldn’t avoid doing so.
She answered calmly, obviously trying not to snap at me again, “Would you please just drop it, Malfoy?”
I was determined. “No.” Her head snapped in my direction, and I could tell that, if she did as her temper willed her to, she would have strangled me right then and there.
I attempted to sound sincere. “Please, just tell me, and I swear I won’t pester you again.”
“Oh, that’s likely.”
I sighed. I wasn’t in the mood for sarcasm. If Potter and the others knew something…well, I definitely didn’t want to go to Azkaban. I needed to know why they suddenly seemed to hate me more.
“Please,” I asked in barely above a whisper, looking her in the eye the whole time. “Please…Hermione.”
That definitely got her attention.
She refused to look at me. “A-alright…” she cleared her throat and sighed in reluctance. “I…I-I didn’t tell them anything—”
I scowled, “What? But—”
“—But they do know something,” she finished, then revealed, “The Order found out that you…that you’re definitely involved in something for, for V-Voldemort.”
Once again, I cringed at her mention of the Dark Lord’s name, but, fortunately, a pain in my arm did not follow it.
She went on, “But Harry’s suspected that for ages. That’s not new news.” I looked at her, confused.
She still made a point not to return my gaze. “It’s that…well, let’s just say he doesn’t like the fact that I’m a Head with you.” When I didn’t respond, she elaborated, “A-and he thinks that…well, he suspects that we’re…on better terms, per-say.”
I wiped a bit of snow off of my forehead, saying, “So, he knows we’re friends?”
“He suspects we are.”
I scowled. How did he know?
“But,” I asked, “How? Why does he think that? We’ve always acted like archenemies whenever we’re round him and—”
“I know,” she interrupted, “But…well, maybe I’ve unintentionally leaked a bit.”
I rounded on her. “What’ve you said to him? Why did—” To my surprise, she smiled; that’s why I cut off in mid-sentence.
“Well,” she said softly, “I suppose I accidentally defended you at one point.” Despite my anger, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lightened. I didn’t just have a friend—I had one who stood up for me.
I asked in a much more pleasant tone, “What did Potter say to provoke you?”
She pursed her lips, recalling, “Actually, it was Ron. He…well, he said, and I quote…” Her voice got louder, “He said that you were a dumb bastard who only excelled in school because of your damn filthy father’s money being in the right place.”
I snorted with laughter. Even though she was quoting Weasley’s foul mouth, it sounded quite comical coming from her.
I chuckled, “And what did you say to him?”
It may’ve been my imagination, but I could have sworn a malicious smirk formed across her face, along with a slight blush. “I told him that you ranked second in the class, and that he could shove himself up my arse until he ranked higher than sixteenth.”
I broke down into a fit of laughter, guffawing so loudly that Granger had to perform Silencio on me until I settled down. It was so unlike her that I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I had ever laughed so hard in my lifetime.
Once I stopped laughing and the silencing charm was lifted, I was still smiling, asking before I could stop myself, “And how did he like you offering him a place up your bum, eh?”
She seemed serious now, having been irritated by my childish laughing fit, which made her answer even more laughable. “He seemed keen on the idea—”
I felt another wave of laughter itching to burst through my mouth, but I gulped it back down.
“—Until Harry pointed out the true meaning behind what I said.” We both were frowning at this point.
“So,” I said. “You sort of blew it, then.”
She considered it. “Well, not precisely…it’s more like they believe I have…I have a soft spot for you, or something.”
“They think you fancy me?”
“Well, maybe not fancy, but…” She gave up. “Oh, alright…they think I do.”
I chuckled, “That’s ridiculous.”
Though she wasn’t looking at me, I could sense her smile. “That’s what I told them—I said it was the most absurd idea they had ever come up with.” She heard me start to hold back a laugh. “And hush up. It’s not funny.”
And then, she looked at me and I at her. I couldn’t speak, and that wasn’t because she told me to shut my mouth. It was because of what I saw, who I saw. I saw Hermione. I didn’t see Granger—I saw Hermione. Maybe it was because of the breath-taking scenery behind her, or perhaps it was the way the snow-filled wind blew her tamed, curly hair. Whatever it was, I was tongue-tied—she was beautiful. She wasn’t a goddess kind of beautiful. But the way she held herself, the way her hair brushed against her smooth, rosy cheeks and her fiery, chestnut eyes glowed through the darkness…No, she had an innocent kind of beauty, the kind that she wasn’t aware of, but also the kind that made men melt if they got a good look at her. And this was the first time I had really gotten a good look at her.
I shook my head, trying to break myself away from her spell. She puzzled expression spoke volumes—she was completely and utterly confused, possibly even alarmed.
“Huh?” I managed to grunt through the lump in my throat.
She smiled. “Are you there?” I thought this was an odd question, but I must have appeared glossy-eyed.
I tore my eyes away from her. “Yeah…” I had a sudden urge to run as far away from her as I could, but that wouldn’t have been appropriate. “Er…no one’s up here. Let’s finish rounds, shall we?” I didn’t even give her a chance to respond before walking briskly toward the door that led back into the castle.
Once we were back inside the castle, I trotted quickly down the winding tower stairs, not even bothering to see if she kept up with me. My mind was in a whir—when had my mind ever been in a whir?
I only slowed when I felt a hand on my shoulder stop me from sustaining my marathon.
“What is it?” Granger asked, stepping into my stride. “You’re acting rather strangely—”
“I’m just tired,” I cut her off. “It’s getting late, and we’d better get rest before tomorrow—”
“Tomorrow’s Christmas D—”
“I know,” I interrupted her again as we neared the corridor adjacent to the one containing the portrait of Newt Scammander. “But it wouldn’t hurt to get some rest, anyhow, would it?”
She didn’t argue, but I could tell that she wanted to. She knew I wasn’t in my right mind, but so did I…and I didn’t want to say anything stupid that I would regret saying…what was on my mind would not be appropriate to discuss with her, a mere friend…
“Dutifully defecated dragon dung,” I recited once we had reached the portrait (we decided to keep the password dragon-related after Draco, the dragon bully had been used). Newt yawned and opened up for us. Granger hesitated before climbing in through the hole. I followed.
Once in the common room, I felt strangely restless, not at all fulfilling the lie I had used as an excuse to go to bed, to get away from Granger.
“Malfoy, what’s wrong with you?”
I was already halfway up the staircase to my dorm.
“Goodnight, Her—Granger.” I didn’t even wait to see her reaction before shutting myself in the safety of my room.
I didn’t sleep well that Christmas Eve night. My heart didn’t cease from beating too fast until at least an hour after completing rounds. What was wrong with me? Why had I acted so immature about it all? Sure, I had suddenly found my friend irresistibly attractive, but what did that matter? I didn’t fancy her. We were only friends, friends.
Despite how many times I told myself that, I couldn’t help myself from dreaming about her. That was one thing I couldn’t control. The dream simply consisted of her the way I’d seen hers on the tower. That’s all. No movement, no conversation…just her standing there. This didn’t surprise me, that I’d dreamed about her. I’d dreamed about plenty of girls in my lifetime, some simply because I had checked them out earlier that day in the corridor and found them appealing. Often times, I didn’t even know their name or what house they were in. And it was the same with Granger, wasn’t it? I had seen her in a different light and found her beautiful. It was only natural for a teenaged male to dream of someone beautiful, despite who they were, wasn’t it?
I was pleased the next morning to note that I did not act awkward around her in the slightest. I made up a stupid excuse that I had, indeed, simply been tired and hadn’t been myself because of that. She hadn’t believed me, I knew, but she also had not pursued the subject. Things went back to normal. I didn’t get tongue-tied again, nor did my thoughts ever stray to the night before. I suppose that I was correct in assuming that my strange, new attraction to her was purely hormone-driven. We were just friends, and I was content with that and always will be.
Even if things had turned out differently with that whole mess, I would have been distracted from it throughout the remainder of the next few days. The day after the astronomy tower incident, I had a task for the Dark Lord to look forward to—unfortunately.
The fact that it was Christmas Day didn’t help matters, either. I couldn’t fully enjoy the holiday as I normally did, though it turned out to be much better than those of the past, simply because I wasn’t under the intimidating, watchful eye of my father while eating Christmas pudding at Malfoy Manor. It was the first time I had ever stayed at school over the holidays, save for second year. I thought that everyone would have to stay because of the risk of being blown up on the Hogwarts Express ride back home by death eaters, or something of the like, but, apparently, parents had protested and got their way. The school was almost completely empty. I was the only Slytherin left, and I wasn’t complaining. Even Slughorn, the Slytherin head of house, didn’t stay at school, so I was the only green and silver snake slithering about the castle, so to speak.
In fact, there were so few students left that I could name them all. From Hufflepuff, only Ernie McMillan and little Rose Zeller were left. Terry Boot, Michael Corner, and Anthony Goldstein were the three from Ravenclaw. Gryffindor had the most, but even they were many numbers short with only Granger, Potter, Weasley, Weasleyette, Longbottom, Romilda Vane, and Jimmy Peakes staying behind.
I had only bought four gifts for people this year, but only two would be given (I had already given Crabbe and Goyle a bag of sweets each from Honeydukes before they left for the holidays). The bag of edible Dark Marks for Zabini, I had already chucked out in the trash, and the one that was meant for Mum…well, I kept that necklace as a keepsake. The only two that remained were for my father (he would never forgive me if I didn’t get him something) and Granger. If I gave Aunt Bella a gift, I would have had to give the rest of the death eaters gifts, as well, and one to the Dark Lord. Giving my master a Christmas gift was a comical, laughing matter, not reality.
I woke up on Christmas morning to my eagle owl, Dragon, tapping hard on my dorm window. After I managed to force my sleep-deprived self up from the four poster bed, I glanced down and noticed a rather small pile of presents at my feet. I hopped over the meager pile and unlatched the window, letting the old bird in.
The letter was the reason why my day was spent with several twinges of paranoia:
That’s all the letter contained. Two days. I knew immediately what the letter meant. I assumed that Snape had sent the pleasant reminder on Christmas morning just to lower my spirits, though he wouldn’t have known of my reluctance to carry out the plan, would he?
With a sudden surge of anger at the world, I crumpled up the letter and hurled it at my bedroom door. Unfortunately, the parchment did not make contact with the wooden surface. Instead, its contact was followed by a yelp before it hit the floor.
“I was coming to say Happy Christmas, but it seems as if the situation has changed…”
Though Granger hadn’t been the target, she had walked into the room at the wrong time.
“Sorry,” I quickly apologized. “You walked in just as I was throwing it at the door…”
She laughed; at least she wasn’t angry with me. However, she picked up the letter before I had time to stop her.
She raised her eyebrows. “Two days? What’s in two days, Malfoy?”
I shrugged, lying feebly, “Beats me.” She did her famous hip thing again, as always, indicating that my explanation hadn’t sufficed.
And it never would. “Sorry, but it’s none of your business what I’m doing in two days unless it concerns you, which it doesn’t.” Not really.
She still wasn’t convinced.
I sighed, saying, “Look…just forget it.” I tried to think of an excuse. “It’s Christmas! Let’s open presents, shall we?”
She took a quick intake of breath, as if she was about to retort, but she let it out, giving in. “Oh, have it your way, then. Meet you down in the common room?”
I smiled, relieved. “Alright.” As soon as she left and shut the door behind her, I picked up the parchment again, this time chucking it onto my unmade bed. I picked up my wand from my bedside table and pointed it at the paper, muttering, “Evanesco.” When the parchment vanished, I was pleased. I didn’t much like a written reminder of the vial deed I was soon to carry out.
Granger deeply appreciated my gift as I did hers. I had given her a muggle mystery novel called Case Closed.
“Ooh! I love this!” she gasped after she tore away the wrapping paper. We were seated on the rug in front of the warm fire.
I frowned. “You’ve read it already?”
“Oh, no,” she shook her head while reading the summary on the back cover. “My mother has, though. She read it a few years ago while we were on holiday in France.”
“Then how come you said you love it if you haven’t read it yet?”
She flicked through the pages absentmindedly. “Everything Mum suggests to me is quite a good read. We have the same taste. She couldn’t stop gushing how shocking the ending was.”
“It was quite a surprise,” I agreed.
She raised her eyebrows, turning to me. “You read it?” I was almost as surprised that I had as she was. I had never read a muggle book before, nor had I read many fictional wizard novels, either. I thought I should try a taste of it by reading the book before I gave it to her.
“Yes,” I replied, beginning to unwrap her gift in my lap. “I’d never read anything like it before…it was quite confusing, too. How was I supposed to know what an intranet was?”
She laughed, which confused me even more—I guess it was a muggle thing. “The Internet isn’t a thing…it’s a network. It’s a computer search engine that is used widely amongst the muggle population for all sorts of—”
“Spare me the explanation, will you?” I stopped her, knowing it wouldn’t hurt her feelings too much. “You sound as if you’re speaking a foreign language.” I had finished unwrapping her gift to me as I spoke. “Ah, this is brilliant!” I had received a handsome silver wizard’s wristwatch, complete with the time, a compass that points wherever one wishes to go, and a moon chart. The background was emerald green, matching the silver band in a Slytherin-ish way. As I checked out the watch’s features, I saw Granger looked down at the current watch I owned on my left wrist out of the corner of my eye.
She frowned in disappointment. “You already own a watch…I’m sorry.”
I looked at my wrist. “What—this thing?” The watch I currently owned was dark and black with a fiery background. “I hate wearing this. It was a gift from my parents for when I come of age…I’m not yet, but they didn’t know when they’d next see me, so…” I cut off, my mother’s face coming into my mind. She had been the one who had given the watch to me—on behalf of my father.
Granger sensed that I was a bit saddened, so she tried to sway the subject. “If you’re not of age, when is your birthday, then?”
I always hated that my birthday fell during exams. “The fifth of June. You?”
“On the nineteenth of September.”
“Barely missed the cut-off, did you?” At the moment, I was adjusting my watch to the correct time.
“Yes, narrowly. Only nineteen days, and I would have already taken my N.E.W.T.s—that’s a scary thought,” she said while nibbling on one of her many chocolate frogs from Lavender Brown. “Ginny would have been two years below us if she’d been born half a month later than she had. Oh, and get this: the twins were born on April Fool’s; it’s as if they were destined for trouble. And Harry and Neville were born merely a day apart…”
But I didn’t listen to the rest. She had mentioned Ginny Weasley, and my mind hadn’t gotten past that. In two days time, Granger would have much more concern for the girl than where her birthday fell.
The remainder of the day whizzed by faster than anything, as did the following day. The 27th of December did not creep upon me as it had been doing for the last few months—it pounced. Before I knew it, I woke up to the prospect that I would be sending a girl to her death before sundown. What a delightful, waking thought.
I knew that this day would be the perfect opportunity to get the job done, for it was a Hogsmeade weekend—not that there would be many students at school to attend the outing since the majority were at home with their families. I had everything planned out, and, unlike last year with my risky attempts to kill Dumbledore, I knew this was foolproof. However, I almost wish it wasn’t.
I was unable to eat even a crumb of breakfast. I sensed from the Gryffindor table Granger’s eye on me a few times; she clearly wondered why I had completely lost my appetite. I could imagine that I probably looked paler than usual, too, which was almost impossible; I had always hated being so pale. I was too focused on keeping myself from throwing up to worry about filling up the plate in front of me.
Though I hadn’t eaten a scrap, I wanted anything but to leave from my place at the Slytherin table. I knew that my next destination would be Hogsmeade, where I would be forced to do what I had dreaded to accomplish for months upon end.
Filch poked me a few extra times than usual with his security sensor, but, otherwise, I was clean. “Ha,” I had thought bitterly to myself, “If he only knew.”
Once out of the castle, I quickly snuck over to the bushes that bordered the castle walls and pulled out my wand; I had hidden it there the night before, knowing full well that no student was allowed a wand in Hogsmeade anymore. I hid it within my robes and continued down the path to the gates, hoping I hadn’t been spotted.
Unfortunately, I had. “Brilliant idea, Malfoy.”
I cringed—it was Potter. I slowly turned around and found myself inches away from his face. I backed away out of reflex. Without Potter’s face in the way, I noted that Weasley, (I gulped) Weaslette, and Granger were behind him. Granger cast a “sorry about this, but…” glance in my direction, unnoticed by the others.
“What do you want?” I asked, keeping my voice under control. I did not want to have an argument with Potter just now. I had the urge to throw up again, this time, in his face, but I refrained from doing so.
He sneered, “I want to know what you intend to do with that wand, of course. Gone to Imperius someone else, have you?”
He didn’t know it, but that was precisely what I planned to do, whether I wanted to or not.
Weasley joined in, shrugging off his sister’s and Granger’s grips on his arms that held him back. “You’re up to something, and we want to know what it is, git.”
“I’d hold your tongue, Potty.”
All five of us jerked around—it was Zabini!
“And you, too, Weasel.”
I gripped him on the arm, hissing, “What are you doing here? Where did you come from?” He didn’t answer, but slapped my hand away, smirking.
Weaslette teased, “Has Blaise come to save your neck, Malfoy? Come to take you home to Daddy?”
Before I had a chance to react, Blaise stepped in front of me and rounded on her, “Shut your arse, blood traitor. I swear I’ll—”
“That’s enough, Zabini,” I shoved him away. “She was talking to me, not you.”
I sighed, turning back to Potter. “I do this every Hogsmeade, Potter. I don’t feel safe without carrying my wand with me at all times.” I noticed Ginny Weasley take a hold of his hand absentmindedly. I didn’t want to tear them apart…but what choice did I have?
Before I knew what was happening, Weasley had shoved me back a few feet, spitting, “You could care less about staying safe, Malfoy, when the only people out there to stay safe from are people like you.” I couldn’t believe how true his statement was. It was creepy.
I decided to leave him thinking. “You’re right, Weasley. That’s precisely what I’m trying to stay safe from.” I caught eyes with Granger for a brief moment before leading Zabini down the hilly lane to Hogsmeade. I didn’t look back, for I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep going if I had.
I heard shuffling from behind us from the group, than Granger’s voice saying, “No, Harry. I don’t think he’s up to something, anyway. It’s not worth it.” I could tell she was unsure whether her words were true.
Once out of earshot of the four, I turned to Zabini. “What the hell are you doing here?”
He scowled, “I’ve been here this whole time, Draco. I was assigned to keep an eye on you, remember?”
I gulped. “You were spying on me? For the whole holiday?”
He said irritably once we’d passed the gates. “Yes. And it’s taken everything I’ve got not to smash your pathetic face into the wall.”
I didn’t answer.
He elaborated, his voice getting more venomous by the second, “You’ve been hiding something from the Dark Lord. You’ve been fraternizing with the enemy, Draco.”
“Yes, fraternizing,” he spat, blowing up at me, “You’re friends with that filth! That mudblood, Granger! What the bloody hell is wrong with you?!?”
I sighed, “Nothing’s wrong with me, Blaise.”
He cackled that sickening cackle that made me believe him insane. “Ha! Nothing’s wrong with me...you’re a disgrace! It’s a wonder the Dark Lord hasn’t seen it yet!”
I narrowed my eyes. “Seen what?”
“That it’s you! You’re the traitor! You’re the spy for the other side! You’ve betrayed your name, the Malfoy name! You aren’t worthy.”
I laughed, trying to sound convincing, “Then what am I doing now? Bringing my wand for safety as I told Weasleby back there?” I pretended to be calm. “I’ve set out to do it, you bloody idiot. By afternoon tea, Weaslette will vanish from Potter’s clutches…tight clutches, one might observe.” I hated, detested hearing the words from my mouth. They seemed to spew out like a fountain of acid.
My words seemed to help the situation, however, for Zabini’s eyes narrowed less than before. “I can’t figure you out. What the hell are your motives, Malfoy?”
We were now in the heart of Hogsmeade. I glanced behind me; Potter and the others were nowhere in sight.
I ignored his question. “We’ve lost them.” I added with venom, “What use are you? All you’ve been is a distraction. The Dark Lord won’t be pleased, Blaise.” I didn’t recognize the voice that came out of my mouth…I felt separate from my body.
Out of the blue, I was shoved off of the street and into an alleyway. Zabini kept walking, unaware that I had left his side. I punched the air all around me out of instinct, trying to make contact with whoever had pushed me. Who would be attacking me now?
“Malfoy," I could recognize that voice for miles. “It’s Hermione.”
I stood up and rubbed the back of my head, asking irritably, “What do you want? What are you doing?”
She suddenly grabbed my shoulders and forced me to look her in the eye. “You don’t have to do this.”
I tried to pull away. “Wh-what are you talking about?”
“You’re going to do something today…I just know it,” she whispered. Her eyes softened, and she said warmly, “You don’t have to. You can get help…the Order—”
“I know about the Order, alright?” I hissed. “They’ve already offered me—”
“A place to hide, a place to be welcome, accepted,” she finished, adding desperately, “A place where V-Voldemort can’t reach you.”
I cringed in pain as I always did. “Don’t say his name, for Merlin’s sake!”
Her eyes began to tear up—oh, great.
Her grip lessened; I took advantage of it and wrenched myself away from her grasp before she could react. I backed away to the front of the alley.
“I’ve got no choice, Granger,” I whispered. “I’ve got to go.”
“No, you don’t!”
“Yes, I do. He never fails to kill his disappointments,” I said airily. “This isn’t—”
She grabbed my hand this time, whispering in desperation, “Please, don’t do it. You’re a good person!”
And, to my surprise, she let go—she let me go and do as I pleased.
Before I turned my back on her, she whispered in my ear, getting close, “You’ve got a heart. Listen to it, Draco.”
Draco. She said my name, my first name, my real name. It sounded so different coming from her lips than my mother’s or father’s or Zabini’s. It sounded wonderful for reasons I could never explain even if I tried.
I uttered before racing away, “I’m sorry…Hermione.” I caught up to Zabini in no time, and, to my bitter relief, Weaslette and Potter were straight ahead of us.
“Where were you, Draco?” demanded Zabini once I’d stepped back into his stride.
“It’s no matter…look, they’ve stopped moving,” I whispered, ordering him, “Get behind that barrel in front of Honeydukes. I’ll hide behind the elephant-shaped shrub over there and Imperius her. Got it?” Zabini nodded, knowing that arguing at this stage in the plans would be out of the question.
Once behind the elephant shrub (It’s trunk kept spewing out water on my head), I groped for my wand in my robes and pulled it out. Potter and Ginny were still standing as they had before, admiring some objects in the Zonko’s shop window. I pointed my wand through the hind legs of the elephant and prepared for what I was about to do.
I took a deep breath, attempting to calm down. This was it. This was what I had been dreading to do for the whole semester. This was the one window of opportunity to get this thing over with. Everything was going according to plan. All I had to do was utter the curse.
“Imper—” I began, stopping midway through the spell. You can do this, Draco, you’ve done it before.
“Alright…” I cleared my throat and pointed my wand back through the legs. “Here goes…Imper…Imperi…Imper…I-Imper…ugh!” My wand slipped from my grasp and clattered onto the stone steps on which I crouched upon. I peered down at my hands and noticed how covered in sweat they were. No wonder the wand slipped.
After thoroughly wiping my clammy hands on my robes, I tried once more, “Imperi…Imp…Imperion…Imperi…Imp…I-Imp…”
I dropped my wand again. This time, my hands weren’t sweaty in the slightest.
“I can’t do this,” I told myself in defeat.
Yes, you can.
I can’t send her to her death.
Yes, you can. It’s all for the greater good, Draco. She stands in the way of the Dark Lord’s plans.
Yes, you can. You’ve done it before with Rosmerta, with Katie Belle. You can do it again.
I heard a different voice clash with the other.
You don’t have to do this.
You will die if you don’t complete the task. Do it, Draco. Prove yourself.
I raised my wand once more, ready for anything.
You’re a good person.
I lowered my wand a few inches.
There is no good and evil—there is only power and those too weak to seek it.
I am weak.
You are not weak. Prove it to the world, Draco, prove you are not weak.
You’re a good person.
Listen to your master, Draco, the most mighty. He will give you everything in return.
You have a heart.
Love is weak. You are not weak. Prove you are not weak.
Yes, listen to your master.
You have a heart. Listen to it…
I can’t do it.
Listen to your master, Draco, not your weakness. Weakness brings no gain. Prove yourself.
Listen to it…Draco.
I jumped to my feet, determined. I wasn’t going to do it. I would die knowing that I had a heart, a mind, a soul…that I wasn’t weak, but merely a good person.
I gasped and jerked my eyes to the voice—Zabini had taken over the job!
The girl’s eyes flicked toward Zabini as the spell took immediate effect. Potter didn’t notice his girlfriend leave his side at first as she began her robotic journey toward the center of the square where Zabini stood. I thrust myself forward and tackled Blaise to the ground, knocking his wand from his hands and breaking it in two. However, apparently, he was using his mind to control her, not his wand. She continued zombie-like toward us.
“Wha…?” Potter had finally noticed once he heard the commotion of the fight.
“Weaslette! G-ginny! Don’t listen to him!”
“What the hell are you doing!!!!!!!!!” Potter’s voice echoed throughout the square as I continued to pummel Blaise, knowing it wasn’t doing any good. The girl was only feet away at this point, mere steps away from being taken away to the Dark Lord, to her eventual death.
And I couldn’t let it happen.
I let go of Zabini and shoved Weaslette to the ground, trying anything to separate her from Blaise. Being under the spell, she rounded on me and planted a painful punch on the side of my jaw. I grabbed her by the ankles and tried to pull her away, but to not avail.
“Get off of her!” I felt another fist in my jaw and keeled over onto my side. Potter was here to save the day…or he thought he was.
I choked, “Can’t you see?!? She’s being Imperiused! Zabini’s going to—”
Slam. That one really hurt. I painfully scooted into a position facing Zabini—Ginny was almost in his grasp!
“Hit him, you idiot! Potter, hit him!”
However, as soon as Potter looked away to see whom I was pointed at, a small crack echoed through the courtyard.
Zabini was gone—and so was Ginny Weasley.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed, unaware of anything else around me. She was gone. He did it. He did it.
Because I prepared him for it.
Potter pulled me up from the ground roughly and shook me, yelling, “Where is she? WHERE IS SHE?!?!?!?!?!?!”
I managed, “She’s gone! He’s taken her! TO HIM!!!”
And the next few minutes were a blur. Potter beat me to a pulp, but I didn’t fight back. I deserved every blow. I deserved to die. I didn’t feel the kicks, the punches, the bones breaking. I didn’t feel any pain other than the pain in my heart.
I sent her to her death.
I was vaguely aware of Potter being pulled off of me by someone, vaguely aware of the students who stood around the scene. Everything was blurred through my one eye that wasn’t shut and bruised.
Potter’s voice chanted through my mind, “I hate you! I HATE YOU!!! LET ME KILL HIM!!! LET ME GO!!!”
And then, a different voice broke through my barely-conscious mind, a voice so soft, so sweet that I stayed conscious long enough to hear its words, “No…you didn’t…you couldn’t…no…she can’t be…she c-can’t be…gone…”. But the sobs were what broke me in two. The sobs that followed were so heartbreaking that I cried, also, I cried my heart away to them.
And then, I knew no more.
I woke up only a few minutes ago, aching all over. For one fleeting moment, I believed that I was lying in the comfort of my four poster bed in the Heads’ dorm. For one wonderful moment, I believed that it had all been my imagination, only a nightmare. However, once I saw the familiar cots beside me with the small bedside tables and the cup and vial with puke green liquid standing on the table beside my bed, I knew it had been a nightmare, after all, a living one.
I summoned this journal to me. It had taken me forever to find my wand, even though it was just beside the potion on my bedside table. I always hated the hospital wing, for I could never sleep through a whole night without waking up and feeling the pain from my injuries. However, this time, I could care less about my mending bones and bruised ribs. I was more concerned with the pain in my heart.
I had backed out too late from the wrong path.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Oooh...tsk, tsk, Draco. If only you'd joined the Order! Well, how was it, my friends? Good, bad? Sad? Just too terrible to describe how you feel about it? Well, describe it, anyway, please...I love feedback, despite the form of criticism, so please, PLEASE REVIEW after reading this. Stay tuned for the next entry!
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