Chapter 4: Awake
He awoke early even though he didn’t have to as it was a Saturday and there were no classes. The only thing, which awaited him, was a newly given assignment in transfiguration and an empty Slytherin common room.
And of course, her.
The thought of the girl in the infirmary made him swing his legs out of bed and sit up. He looked around in the room for his robes. They were placed at the end of his bed, carefully folded by the house elves. Looking around he also saw the other Slytherins with who he shared a dormitory.
He didn’t know any of them, as they were all several years younger than he was. The headmaster had just placed him in the only dormitory which had an unused bed when he came back to re-do his seventh year at Hogwarts. It wasn’t how he’d preferred it to be, but he managed.
There wasn’t much else to do.
With hurried but quiet movements he put on the dark robes and left the room. As expected the common room was completely deserted at this time. The Slytherins liked to sleep in on weekends. And he preferred being alone anyway. People here seemed so much younger and so strangely inexperienced.
His footsteps echoed softly as he walked across the stone common room floor, around the green couches, and ducked under the large Slytherin Banner, which hung from the ceiling near the door.
The hallway outside the common room was also empty. In more than one way. Nowhere else in the castle were there this few paintings on the walls and statues between them. Those few paintings, which had expressed a desire to hang, near the Slytherin entrance were darker than the portraits and landscapes that decorated the halls of the rest of the school.
Draco shook his head. It was a strange thing to be puzzled about, but it had never occurred to him before now that the whole atmosphere in the dungeons was heavier than the general air of the castle.
As he ran up the stairs from the dungeons and into the hallway that led to the infirmary he noticed how the air around him changed as if years of bad wishes had corrupted the air in the dungeons and made it stick to the ones moving there like invisible cobwebs clinging to their skin. Again he shook his head at the silly thought, but his steps nonetheless felt a lot lighter as he proceeded down the hall.
He passed a huge portrait of a medi-witch on his way, who tipped her hat and said good morning to him. She said good morning like he was any normal student. Strange… Yet, somehow it managed to bring a faint smile to his face, he nodded in return to her greeting, but didn’t stop.
Outside the door to the hospital wing he came to a halt. Carefully he pushed the door open just a little bit to check if anyone was inside. No sounds erupted. He opened the door a bit more and a streak of light from the windows crept out and illuminated the red carpet pattern under his feet. It had flowers on it.
Then after yet another careful look around he entered.
Inside the infirmary the light was even brighter, even though the curtains had been drawn, but the white fabric stood no chance against the early morning sunlight. He immediately turned his head to check on Hermione.
She was lying in the same bed as last night. Her bushy hair spread around her face in frizzed ringlets and blood-smothered locks. Her eyes were closed.
The chair in which he had sat during the night was still by her bed and he approached it careful not to make a sound. He didn’t know where Madam Pomfrey stayed, but he suspected the door behind the desk led to her quarters and he didn’t wish to wake her up at this early hour. Or that she saw him there.
Draco sat down and arranged his robes around him before carefully examining the girl’s face again.
She looked peaceful.
She looked like a young woman should be looking when she slept. Her face carried no traces of the past couple of year’s darkness, no signs that she had been a warrior and seen so much more than a girl her age should have.
He hoped his own features looked this peaceful when he slept, but he doubted they did. He had also seen his share of darkness and sometimes he had trouble adjusting to the light, like a man stumbling from complete darkness into bright sunlight.
It took me almost six months, he thought as he reached out to smooth the duvet coating the girl in front of him.
He looked at her closed eyes again. Her lashes were a shade darker than her hair. The two could easily be compared as a lock of her hair had fallen down across her face again and almost touched her thick lashes. He pushed the lock away. Wondered what colour her eyes were. He had probably seen them a million times before and even stared into them a couple of times. But he had never seen them.
They could be grey as a rainy afternoon when the fog lay thick over the Lake and the Forbidden Forest was almost invisible from the raindrops.
They could be blue as the sky when the sun shone brightly making it hard to see without squeezing one’s eyes together.
Or they could be dark brown like her hair.
You’re becoming more and more silly by the moment, he told himself and shook his head again. He turned his attention towards the book he had brought with him. Hogwarts: A History.
Draco found his bookmark and opened the book to the page he had gotten to last time. When he had first begun reading the book it surprised him how interesting he actually found the history of the school, but today the book was only a cover. Today, he knew he could read the same sentence a million times and still not be able to remember what it was about seconds after.
Today was different.
Inside his head he constructed several excuses as to why he was there if Madam Pomfrey should appear. He could always say he wanted to ask her a question about some illness. Or that she had told him to meet him there, even though she hadn’t.
He smirked. He could always pretend it was she who had forgotten something and not him being out of place.
But there was something he didn’t have an excuse prepared for.
Hermione stirred a bit in her sleep and then suddenly opened her eyes.
It startled him enough to make him lose grip of the book in his lap – it slid down and landed on the floor with a hollow ‘dunk’. But he wasn’t startled enough not to notice that her eyes were brown.
She closed those brown eyes and opened them again, as if she thought the image of him sitting by her bedside would disappear if she blinked.
“Malfoy?” she said in a shaky voice and quickly sat up. An expression of pain rippled across her face and she made sure to get up a lot slower.
She turned her head to see where she was and her face again became twisted with pain.
“It’s light in here.” The words came out sort of detached like it wasn’t what she meant to say at all.
He nodded. He didn’t have any words either.
His first impulse had been to disappear as quickly as possible, but she seemed to have already noticed his presence, so it wouldn’t make a difference if he bolted or not. She would still know that he had been there. And she’d still want to know why.
He watched her brown eyes as she returned her gaze to his face, as if to make sure that it was really him, but it didn’t seem like she could get her eyes to focus properly.
She sighed and very slowly lowered her head onto the pillow again. He waited for her to say something again. She blinked. He sensed that she waited for the same thing. Waited for a reaction. Or perhaps for an explanation.
“Do you want me to get Madam Pomfrey?” he asked gently. The words sounded stupid in his ears, but he had nothing else he dared say at the moment. What was he supposed to say?
She tried to focus her eyes on his face again and sighed deeply. It took her a while before she answered, like she needed time before she understood his question.
“Can she make the pain go away?” her voice sounded distant, and he felt the urge to reach out and touch her cheek to make sure she was really there and not drifting of to some world filled with agony.
“I’ll get her!” he said and quickly rose from his seat. He didn’t think that with that sentence he had just reduced himself to something resembling a houseelf. He didn’t think at all.
Everything happened rather quickly, he knocked on the nurse’s door. She came out, asked him a quick question, turned to Hermione, found a bottle of medicine. He left while Madam Pomfrey’s back was still turned.
Draco could feel the warmth in his hand as he stood panting before the Slytherin common room entrance. As he felt the warmth, he thought of Hermione, and her eyes focusing solely on his own.
The memory of his fingers against her cheek played in his mind over and over again.
Like disconnected notes from a song.
A/N: Finally! After two months of writers block on this story I managed to write chapter four.
I wrote it earlier today after I finished the English essay for my exam and found out I still had two and a half hour to spend before I could leave. Then I wrote this so I hope you enjoyed it and that you'll review:)
This chapter has now been beta'ed by my newfound beta KryptoniteWriter, a round of applause for her!