Chapter 3 : Darkness
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The infirmary was completely quiet. The door opened slightly making the lights in the chandelier on Madam Pomfrey’s desk flicker from the motion. Draco soundlessly stepped in and closed the door behind him. He looked around warily - didn’t want to be seen.
He had waited until after curfew to make this visit. After talking to Dumbledore, he had carried on as if this was a normal day, doing his usual routines though there were not many of them any longer.
Then when the Slytherin common room was finally completely deserted, and the last few third years who were behind with their homework had left, he had left too. The halls outside were quite except for a few prefects doing their rounds, but seven years at Hogwarts had taught him how to avoid them without trouble.
When he got nearer the hospital wing there were almost no prefect patrols and he dared light the end of his wand with a hushed Lumos.
Inside the infirmary he tiptoed across the room, constantly watching his back to see if madam Pomfrey should suddenly appear. Not that he thought she would mind him being there, but he wasn’t comfortable with the fact that anyone should know he was. It felt almost forbidden to walk up to Hermione’s bed, but he did it anyway.
He had to.
At the sound of a noise behind him he jumped to see if anyone was coming. No one was there and only the gentle sound of a branch brushing against the windows was heard.
He was annoyed at himself for being this jumpy though he couldn’t help but feel like someone was following him, watching his every move. And he knew there was no one.
The nurse had to be asleep at this hour, he thought as he cast a glance towards the clock on the back wall and saw that it was well past eleven.
Actually he should be asleep now too, but something had driven him to stay up all night in the common room, just waiting for the students to slowly disappear into their dorms and leave him alone in the room.
It probably helped a lot that most of his old friends had chosen not to return to Hogwarts to finish their education, but stayed away to lick their wounds in the aftermath of the destruction of Voldemort.
With one last look around the room he stepped up to Hermione’s bed. The light from the chandelier on the desk didn’t reach all the way down to this end of the infirmary. Shadows surrounded the sleeping form of the girl in the bed; sometimes they moved as the lights flickered, but the girl remained still. It was difficult to see if her face had gained more colour since he had brought her to the nurse, but he guessed it had.
The blood that had been covering some of her cheek and her temple had been washed away, but he could still see faint traces of it in Hermione’s hair - he guessed it wouldn’t disappear completely before she had taken a real shower.
Draco knew that the nurse had washed the blood away with a spell, but it had only been a mild one, because it was difficult to remove blood from a wound without hurting the person. The last thing Hermione needed at the moment was a rough washing. She probably didn’t care if the blood was still there anyway in the state she was in at the moment. Some things were more important than sticky strands of hair covered in dried blood.
He looked around again to check that he was still alone. The room was as deserted as it had been when he entered a few minutes earlier.
The candles at the desk were halfway burned down, so he picked up one of the spare ones from the top drawer and lighted it by sticking it into the already burning candles. With the candle placed on the nightstand next to Hermione’s bed he was able to get a closer look at her.
In the candlelight she seemed somehow softer than she had appeared in the bright sunlight earlier that day. Her features seemed to soften and her face was calmer.
The pain struck expression was gone and had been replaced by a strange peacefulness that made her look both a lot younger, but at the same time more mature. He rolled his eyes at himself for thinking that, it made no sense at all!
She lay on her one side sleeping with a hand under her face, almost like it was a pillow. Under the relatively thin cover he could easily make out where her waistline was as it curved down compared to her hip. She had more shapes than he would have thought, but they were difficult to see when she was standing – and her face always led the attention away from her body.
Another look around the room revealed that it was still empty, no other beds were occupied, and the door that led to madam Pomfrey’s quarters was still firmly closed.
His steps were almost soundless as he walked across the carpet-covered floor to the window at the other side of the room. The curtains were drawn, but he lifted one of them a bit and looked out. Outside everything was dark, only little pieces of silver sparkles showed on the surface of the Lake, and a thick layer of clouds that seemed ominous and held a threat that it would rain sometimes soon covered most of the night sky.
He closed his eyes for a second and let the curtain fall back in its place. The wooden back of the chair felt solid between his hands as he grabbed it and lifted it from the carpet. It made only a small sound as he placed it on the floor next to the girl’s bed and sat down.
Somehow it felt like the darkness was closing in on him as he sat still on the chair and watched the girl sleep.
Sometimes her eyes moved behind her eyelids, and he was afraid she might open them completely, but it never happened. He wondered what she saw behind those closed eyes. Did she see the accident? Did she relive the pain of falling to the ground?
Perhaps her dreams were happy and filled with sunshine, or dark memories from the previous year that still lingered in her sub conscience. He didn’t know.
A half empty bottle with a soft pink substance on her nightstand made him guess that madam Pomfrey might have given her a sleeping potion to make her sleep through the entire night. He picked it up and held it close to the candle’s flame. It held instructions for use and the name of the potion. He had been right – it was a sleeping potion. He put the bottle back on the table in the exact spot from which he had taken it, didn’t want to leave any signs that someone had moved it.
Inside his head he thought through all the information he had ever learned about someone who had hit their head. It wasn’t much he knew about head injuries, and it annoyed him that he wasn’t able to tell in what state she would be when she woke. He did know that sometimes people would forget pieces of what had happened in their past after a serious blow to their heads.
It bothered him that he didn’t know more about the subject. They could have taught the students at Hogwarts something about those things, couldn’t they? Just a simple after class lesson in how to handle different injuries.
But they hadn’t.
He contemplated whether they had a book about it at the library or not, and decided that they had to have books about injuries. No one would probably ask questions if he borrowed it, and if they did he would tell them to mind their own business. He smirked. No one liked to ask him questions when he had told them not to.
Hermione moved in her sleep and brought all Draco’s attention back to her. Her head was in a different position now, making some of her hair fall down over her face. He bent in over her to see better but only managed to make the shadows around her deeper. With his eyes still focused on her face he gently pushed the candle on the table so the small circle of light hit her again. He didn’t mind being in the shadows, but he wanted the light to shine on her.
The strand that had fallen across the girls face followed the line from her temple across her eye tangling with her dark eyelashes, further down her nose, and ended in a curl at the fullest place on the opposite cheek. His grey eyes followed that line again and again like a line from a song repeating in his head.
She didn’t seem like it annoyed her that it was there.
For a crazy second he thought he could feel the curl between his fingers.
Then he abruptly stood up and turned his back on her. In few steps he was at the window again lifting the curtain to look out at the darkness surrounding him. It was even more black than it had been before, and he could almost feel the tension of the thick clouds, though the rain hadn’t started yet.
His hand seemed blue as he lifted it and put it on the cold glass that separated him from the darkness outside. Blue like the blood in his veins.
When he removed the hand, the outline of where it had been remained on the glass for a while. He stretched his fingers and curled them again. Carefully he watched them fold and unfold again and again like a rhythm. It didn’t feel like his hand – it felt disconnected.
He heard a noise behind him.
All his nerves were alert, but again it was only Hermione rearranging her legs under the cover. He returned to her side.
“I should go now,” he said out loud, but he didn’t recognise the voice uttering the words. She sighed in her sleep, like she knew what he was saying and didn’t want him to leave. He smiled sarcastically at his own naivety. She didn’t know he was there. She didn’t care.
Soundlessly, he sat down again and straightened out his black robes. The green Slytherin chest on his cloak seemed to stand out from the rest of his clothes. He shook his head to shake away the thought.
You need to get away now, he told himself and looked at Hermione’s peaceful face again. The curl still covered her eye making her eyelid flutter. He stayed seated and moved the chair closer to the bed.
The candle on the nightstand flickered disturbing the shadows, making them dance across her face.
What am I doing here?, he asked himself with an ironic smile. He knew perfectly well why he was there.
His hand moved, and he was almost unaware that it had reached out to push away the strand of hair from Hermione’s face before he saw it do so with a gentleness he didn’t know he possessed. In the process his finger brushed against her skin. It was warm and soft – unexpected.
He pulled away like it had burnt him and looked at the hand. It had no burns or scars other than those he had always had.
But it felt a bit like there was a mark anyway. A mark he couldn’t wash off or remove by magic. A mark as strong as the one Voldemort has printed on his follower’s arms.
He hurried towards the door, eager to get away from that girl. But he couldn’t resist throwing one last look at her before he stepped out of it. She lay as quiet as she had been doing all the time, with one hand under her face to support it, her features soft. She looked peaceful, and the contrast between her peacefulness and the state of mind he was in struck him.
I shouldn’t have come tonight, he told himself, and he knew it was true.
But he also knew that it didn’t matter.
A/N: Thank you Quiddichref for beta-ing.
I hope you all enjoy reading this story and that you will review it and tell me what you think or give any constructive critisism you might have.
Thank you! :)
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