Chapter 24 : Finale
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“That happened to me once in third year. When I woke up in the infirmary, I remember you guys telling me about how Dumbledore had slowed my fall in midair so that I didn’t hit the ground like a sack of troll dung.”
“That’s where I got the idea from, Harry. I just hope that it helped…he doesn’t seem to be moving at all!”
That voice sounded quite familiar, Draco thought. It might just be enough to get me to decide to actually move and maybe even open my eyes…although I never realized how much my body form-fitted to the ground before.
“Is he dead?”
“He is not dead! He’s just been knocked out! Oh, where is Madame Pomfrey?” That voice again…and boy, was it neurotic, too.
“Madame Hooch went to go get her. They should be back in a minute or so…calm down...”
“I can’t believe he took those Bludgers for you, Ginny.”
“I know; if he doesn’t wake up soon, I’m going to feel guilty for the rest of my life.”
“You? We’re the ones who should have been there, we’re the ones with the clubs!”
Yeah, you sub-par excuses for Beaters, Draco thought as he heard himself groan.
“Hey, he’s alive!”
Draco felt two hands on his chest and a voice blared in his ear, “Draco! Draco! Are you all right? Say something!!” Although the neurotic voice was magnified a hundredfold due to the excessive pounding that was going on in his head, it was music to his ears.
“Granger,” he gasped, keeping his eyes closed just until his head stopped spinning. “Stop yelling. I think my head’s going to explode.” She clutched his hand in hers and her other hand flew to his head. “Oh, thank Merlin,” she breathed, relief positively oozing out of her voice. Slowly, he opened his eyes to see Hermione’s face close to his, compassion radiating from her every pore. He instantly felt considerably better and tilted his head slightly so that it leaned into her touch. She began to gently stroke his hair.
“Oh, Draco…Draco…you beautiful, infuriating, vexing, wonderful prat! I could just kill you if you hadn’t very nearly done it yourself!” Hermione scolded him as she leaned down and tenderly kissed him on the temple. Ah. I’m sure that if I didn’t feel like my spleen was in my throat at the moment, I would have enjoyed that. “Why would you do such a crazy thing?” she whispered, her voice catching with emotion.
He closed his eyes once again. “You know why, Granger,” he murmured, stroking the back of her hand once or twice with his thumb.
Hermione touched her forehead to his and whispered back softly, “I do, Draco, I do.”
“Aww…what a tender moment!”
Wolf-whistles and catcalls abounded and Hermione self-consciously sat up, although she didn’t relinquish her hold on his hand and continued to stroke his hair gently. Draco managed to let go of the Snitch with his other hand (he had caught it, which meant that they had won…all right) and lift it to make a rude hand gesture to the other voices, a few of whom hooted in response.
“Yep, he’s going to live, all right.”
“Malfoy,” Ginny Weasley’s voice pulled his focus upward. He opened his eyes to encounter a veritable ring of Silver Stag faces staring down at him from above, their expressions awash with concern and relief. “If this is what you’ll go through to win a game, I don’t know if you’re going to last the entire season,” she joked unsteadily. Ginny was attempting to look calm, but not quite pulling it off—she was visibly shaken. He must have taken one hell of a fall.
Some of the other Stags chimed in, “Good job, Malfoy!”, “Yeah, wicked flying!”, “Great win for the Silver Stags!”
Then there was a hesitation as the ring of Gryffindors parted to reveal a new face that tentatively peeked down at him. It was a face that Draco never would have expected to see—Blaise Zabini, who looked more than a bit startled himself. “Malfoy,” he said hesitatingly, “are you all right?”
Bemused, Draco slowly nodded his head at Blaise, which made his vision swim. “Yeah…I’m just peachy,” Draco groaned with a shadow of his characteristic smirk. Blaise let out a slow breath and backed up to the edge of the small crowd. Well, well…guess Zabini’s not as much of a total berk as I thought he was. They had gotten along rather well at one time, Draco reflected. Mainly because Zabini actually had more of a brain than most of the people that Draco used to hang around with.
As Draco’s vision finally began to clear, he looked around at the odd assortment of students who had congregated around him. Hermione, of course, was right there holding his hand, but Ginny Weasley, the Silver Stags, and even Saint Scarhead looked even more concerned than he had initially realized. Hmmm…surprising… The Weasel King (who had seemed worried at first, but now that it looked like Draco hadn’t suffered any irreparable damage) was trying to hold back a snicker at the sight of Draco lying spread-eagled on the ground. And not surprising. Blasted git. Blaise Zabini was still milling around off to the side rather awkwardly, and he even seemed to be checking out Morag MacDougal, who was flanked by Tweedledum and Tweedledee Patil. Both Morag and Padma looked alarmed, but Parvati had an expression on her face that appeared to be a little disappointed that the fall hadn’t killed him. Harpy from hell. When I manage to peel myself off of this field…
“All right everyone, all right,” came a new, rather authoritative voice from above. “Give the poor boy some breathing room.” It was Madame Pomfrey, followed by a floating stretcher. The ring of students that had clustered themselves around Draco began to back away as Madame Pomfrey waved her wand and Draco felt his body lift and begin to levitate towards the stretcher. His head swam again with the movement and he heard himself groan, but luckily Hermione hadn’t surrendered her grip on his hand. He chose to focus on the feel of her hand in his instead of the dipping and diving sensation that was going on in his head that felt like a broom ride from hell. Urgh…
“It’s to the infirmary for you, Mr. Malfoy, as I’m sure you know,” Madame Pomfrey said to Draco as soon as he was settled on the stretcher. He nodded his head in response, then groaned again as his vision blurred and his head pounded. Bugger. That was really, really stupid… He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together so that he wouldn’t vomit.
“I’m going too,” he heard Hermione say.
“Miss Granger, you can visit Mr. Malfoy after I’ve seen to him. For now, I’ve got this under control.” Madame Pomfrey said briskly.
“Madame Pomfrey, I said that I’m going too. I’m afraid I’ll have to insist.” Hermione’s voice had taken on that obstinate quality Draco knew so well. Stubborn, stubborn Gryffindor, he thought with a smirk as he gave her hand a little squeeze.
There was a moment of silence. Madame Pomfrey and Hermione must have had a bit of a stare-down, of which Hermione apparently won because then he heard Madame Pomfrey say, “Very well, Miss Granger, if you must. But no one else,” she added to the rest of the students that were still in the vicinity.
Draco then felt the stretcher begin to move again, most certainly towards the infirmary. Oh, bloody hell… The movement was doing horrible things to his equilibrium. As he felt himself begin to lapse into the blessed blackness of unconsciousness, he heard the rest of his…team shouting, “Great game, Malfoy! Hip, hip…” And then there was nothing.
Draco spent a couple of days in the infirmary, of which Hermione spent practically every moment that she wasn’t in class right there with him. She even ate her meals with Draco, and of course she brought textbooks from all of his classes to ensure that his days in the infirmary wouldn’t cause him to fall behind in his schoolwork (perish forbid!). As much as Draco enjoyed having her there, he was less than enthusiastic about having Hermione cram schoolwork down his throat, so he got her to stop by either falling asleep or pulling her in for the occasional snog. On his last night there, he also managed to get Hermione to agree to make something for him that he needed, and she headed off to the library in order to get the information required in order to complete it.
The next morning, Draco was once again lounging at the foot of the Slytherin table for breakfast (Old habits die hard, he reflected) with Hermione at his side. The other Slytherins, all squashed at the other end of the table as far away from the two of them as possible, were pointedly ignoring both him and Hermione. Smirking at Hermione as he watched her cut up her waffle into bite-sized pieces, he leaned in and muttered, “You’re sure it’s going to work?”
“Yes,” she whispered back. “I followed the instructions exactly. Now how do you plan on getting it into their—” she stopped as Ginny strolled up to the table with a satisfied grin on her face.
Draco sneered at her. “I still don’t see my Quidditch magazine, Weasley.”
“Oh, pipe down, Malfoy. If I give it back, you may never show up to practice again. It’s in my best interests to keep it.”
Draco glared at her and sighed in exasperation. “Well, what about the ‘mission’?” he demanded.
“Oh, it’s all set. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch,” Ginny said smugly.
Hermione looked at Draco questioningly. He shrugged. “Hey, she owed me a favor,” he said as he took a swig of his pumpkin juice. Speaking of pumpkin juice, he thought, as he, Hermione and Ginny all leaned forward to avidly watch the Patil twins, who were sitting over at a nearby table.
Parvati and Padma Patil were simultaneously taking sips of their pumpkin juice. In perfect unison, they slowly set down their glasses as their expressions became vague for a moment, and then turned unabashedly giddy. As one, they jumped up from their table and started to squeal, “Harper!” “Nott!!”
As the Patils pointed and shrieked, Draco looked over at Harper and Nott, who had stood up at the Slytherin table and were looking both horrified and revolted.
“HARPER, I LOVE YOU!!”
“NOTT, IF YOU WON’T BE MINE, I’LL DIE!!”
Both girls started to charge full speed towards them, and the Slytherin boys grew wide-eyed and made a break for the exit. As the Patils ran past Draco’s end of the table screaming, “HARPER!” “NOTT!” “WAIT FOR US!!” Draco, chuckling, leaned in to Hermione and whispered in her ear, “Granger, have I told you that I love you?”
Hermione gave him a tart little smile, but her eyes were shining. “No, you right foul git. And it’s about time!”
He grinned back and leaned in even further to give her a kiss. All was right with the world…
Yes, so sad to see it finally come to an end, but you know me...of course there is a sequel! Look for Hogwarts Ramshackle, a humorous one-shot that is dedicated to all of you who have read and reviewed this story (and Hogwarts Revisited) so faithfully. There is also a novella-length sequel which comes after Ramshackle that I am currently working on called Hogwarts Respite. I'd love it if you'd check them all out and let me know what you think!
And thanks again for giving my stories a try!
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