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Chapter 13 : Agony
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16 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds later; Draco had not moved. It was the longest sixteen hours in my life. He was breathing, yes, but other than that – he didn't show any sign of being alive. A Healer from St. Mungos had been and checked on Draco and she decided so stay at Hogwarts just in case she was needed. McGonagall had been furious when she had visited.
Nothing had happened with Draco, he was just as lifeless as before, but in the hospital wing it had happened a lot, I discovered after I realized that I must have dozed off with my head on Draco's stomach and still holding his hand tight.
It was dark outside but the wing was lit up with a dim light. I ran my fingers through my hair and then put my chin in my hand and leaned on Draco's bed. I stared at him as if trying to wake him up by doing so.
“She's awake, Lucius.” I heard a faint whisper behind me and slowly turned around. Lucius Malfoy, with his hair hanging loosely around his face was standing next to a woman which I remembered to be Narcissa. She wasn't wearing any fancy pureblood clothes; she looked as if she had thrown on whatever.
“You received my letter.” I said and my voice was tired, exhausted, broken. It felt ages ago since I scrabbled down the words on a letter and sent it to Mr and Mrs Malfoy, but they were here. My eyes were sore from crying, I felt as if I had run out of them. Mrs Malfoy nodded her head sadly.
“Yes...” said Mr Malfoy, his voice seemed as exhausted as mine. I then noticed that I were probably in their way to their son.
“I'm sorry... Should I move?” Honestly I didn't think I would manage to stand up so it was a good thing when they shook their heads no and walked to the other side of his bed and pulled out a chair each. “Have I been out of it for long?”
“No, about half an hour.” Lucius was again the one who spoke before he put his hand on Narcissa's. The small show of affection was something I did not expect from him and something else that surprised me was the fact that he didn't tell me to leave, or verbally assault me. Maybe Draco was right, in that moment it did not seem to matter that Lucius had once beaten Draco... To think his name brought back the intense worry. The feeling came back so sudden – it made me gasp.
They both looked at me surprised and when they did; I hung my head to avoid eyecontact. Instantly I started chanting in my head : Wake up, Draco. Wake up, Draco. Wake up, Draco... Please, . He didn't but I kept it up. Please, please – Oh, gods... please... please. Wake up...
The Healer had said that there was a small chance that he would never wake up, but believed that the fact that he got help so fast was a good sign; if we hadn't reacted as soon as we did then he would be dead by now.
I think his parents knew that. I think they knew that if it were not for me then he wouldn't be breathing. I glanced away from Draco to look at his parents. Narcissas chest rose and fell rapidly and her breaths came out short and fast.
Lucius held her hand in his and his thumb was stroking her hand as if to calm her down. I don't know if it worked.
“Cissy, love, I am going to talk to the Healer once more. Will you be okay?” He asked ever so gently and she nodded without letting her eyes leave her son. Lucius stood up and pressed his lips against her forehead – just like Draco used to do to me when he wanted to calm me down.
When he had left Narcissa looked away from her son and straight at me. To look in to her eyes was like looking in to a mirror; the worry and desperation I felt was shown in her eyes.
“Miss Granger...” She said with a voice so light, not even a whisper. “Hermione. I...”
“You don't need to feel as if you have to talk to me.” I replied, not at all rudely, before she could say anything else. I had been surprised to hear her speak my name. But the words that Lucius had spoken to Draco was still fresh: This will break your mothers heart. She fell in to a forced silence while still looking at me.
Her mouth was a thin line, as if she was angry with me... or herself for all I knew. Then she cleared her voice.
“I heard what Lucius had said. I am, however, not heartbroken. I am glad that Draco finally... Finally has been able to put the awful, awful memories of the war behind him, and if you are the reason for this... Well, then I welcome you with open arms. I hope you know that I only want what is best for my son, what makes him happy. If you make him happy, then so be it. I just want him to be happy...”
Her voice broke down and she started to cry, letting out one heartbreaking sob after another.
Before I realized what I was doing, I had walked over to the other side of the bed and put my hand on her back. Tears rolling down my cheeks as well. Narcissa was a pureblood racist, yes, but she was also a mother. Draco's mother.
She turned to face me, and there was a moment when time stood still, a moment where we looked in to each others eyes and seemed to see all the way in to each others souls. Then the moment was over as she embraced me. Her comforting, motherly hug made me bury my head in her neck and let it all out. She cried too, I could feel her tears rolling down my back.
“I'm sorry.” She whispered shakily while holding me. “I am so sorry for what happened... For what my sister did to you.”
I nodded the best I could. Knowing that it was probably hard for her to admit that she was sorry... Just like her son. And most likely just like her husband.
It felt nice to have a the arms of a mother around me, though it made me miss my own mother so damn much. But this was not about me, or what I missed. It was about Draco and his whole existance.
Slowly she let go of me but she still held a hand on my face, and wiped away my tears.
I heard footsteps behind me and shot a quick glance over my shoulder to find Lucius coming back.
He looked slightly shocked to find us sitting in the way we were, but he accepted it nonetheless and went to sit on the other side.
“Mr Malfoy, here.” I said standing up offering him the seat back. If anything I needed to sit so that I could hold his hand. He looked at me for a second, probably thinking that I was crazy. “I insist.”
He nodded and walked to sit next to to his wife and I to sit by Draco's side. He stopped when we were right next to each other.
“Thank you for making sure he got here in time. I cannot thank you enough.” He struggled with the words and did not look in to my eyes. He seemed to be forcing the words out. It was unnatural for him to say such thing and it did not sound quite right. It did, however, sound honest.
“Of course.” was all I could reply and he looked me in the eye then. He gave a short nod before he brushed past me.
I sat down next to Draco and gripped his hand in mine. I gave it a squeeze to let him know I was back by his side. My eyes once again rested on his face. One small movement. One small, feather light movement made my heart stop. My breathing to cease. That small movement gave me hope.
Draco squeezed back, it was not much or even hard. It was barely a squeeze but I was sure that I felt it.
“He squeezed my hand!” I breathed out and Narcissa cried out and Lucius stood up looking from me to Draco and back again. “I swear he did!”
Lucius called for the Healer and Pomfrey and I told them about the feather light squeeze.
A huge amount of things happened at once.
They examined him again, opening his eyes, taking his pulse... Rushed past me, but after a while they slowed down and looked at each other with sad eyes.
“We do not wish for you to get your hopes up I'm afraid. This doesn't necessarily mean that he is getting better, and of course not that he is getting worse either. But it could just be a muscle contraction of some sort. As of now, we can not see that he has been getting better.” The Healer finally said. But my new found hope did not go away, I had felt that squeeze and I knew that he was fighting. I lifted his hand and brought it to my lips. “Come on, Draco.” I whispered before I pressed my lips against it. It was so cold, but I thought it was a little bit warmer than before. I could just have imagined it.
Suddenly an idea came to mind, something I could do to be able to think more straight, and maybe win his parents over a bit...
“I'm going to the kitchen, is there anything I can get you?” I asked, still my voice sounded unnatural. They both looked up in shock. Really, I didn't want to leave his side, but we all needed to eat.
“Bring anything you like.” Lucius said, obviously grateful and obviously shocked. I nodded. Before I walked away, I leaned down and pressed my lips on Draco's. The fact that he made no response at all made my heart break just a bit more.
I hurried out of there before more tears could escape. I ran my fingers through my hair before I walked towards the kitchen.
As I was walking a thought struck me like a lightning bolt. Where had Matthew gone?
I didn't remember seeing him or Slughorn in the hospital wing when I walked out...
It was way past curfew, it was around midnight I guessed. So hopefully I wouldn't run in to someone.
I turned a corner and was glad to find that the castle seemed to be empty. It cleared my head to get away from there, even though I wanted nothing but to be back by his side; what it something happened when I was away?
The thought made me pick up my phase and in no time I was in the kitchen. Instantly they noticed that something was not right, Scrappy rushed to my side and asked me more than twenty questions without taking a breath in between them. I had to hold my hand up to make her shut up.
“It's Draco, he is in the hospital wing.”
The small elf's eyes widened and they got blank with tears. She put her little hand on my knee as if to comfort me. I gave her a quick update on what had happened and then I gave her a faint smile as I asked to get some food to take with me.
It did not take them long to get me the food I needed, they but it in a bag for me to take.
I felt that they wanted me to stay longer and talk more, but I just couldn't bring myself to stay away from Draco any longer, even if he was unconscious.
I thanked them so very much and then I left.
It was cold in the castle as I walked back up, I felt more alone than ever... A sudden shadow at the end of the hall made me stop walking. I blinked several times but the shadow didn't go away. It, if anything, came closer. Who could possibly be out after curfew if it was not a teacher?
All of the sudden the air got even more cold and I dropped the bag and drew my wand. I prayed that it wasn't... But it was. Matthew Raven became more than just a shadow as the light fell on his arrogant features.
“Didn't think I'd run in to you, Mudblood. Thought you'd be up in the wing holding little Malfoy's hand. Tell me, is he dead yet?” Matthews cold drawled made me take a firmer grip on my wand and I raised it just a little bit more.
“Shut up, Matthew.” I spat and he growled.
“Who ever gave you permission to use my first name?”
I shrugged and he seemed to want to lash out and killed me, but one glance at my wand and he stepped back. I smirked at him when I realised that he had left his wand in the hospital wing.
“Do you feel like a powerful wizard now, Matt? Do you? Or does the little Mudblood scare you now?”
I poked my wand straight in his chest and he hissed as a golden spark shot out of the tip of it and burned a hole in his robe. “When are you gonna realise that blood does not matter? It's the magic you can do, not the blood that runs in your veins that matter.” I poked him in the chest again. “When are you gonna get that through your thick head?” every word was followed by a poke.
“You wouldn't dare.” he spoke in a hiss. “You wouldn't hurt me, you are too much of a Gryffindor.”
“Oh I am a brave Gryffindor all right, so why wouldn't I?”
He took a step closer to me, my wand digging in his chest. “You just wouldn't”
Without thinking I lowered my wand and kicked him as hard as I could, and that was hard. He dropped to his knee's with a gasp and then he started whimpering.
“I warned you about calling me a Mudblood.” without one more glance on him, I picked the bag up and walked away.
How dare he? How dare he speak like that?
I hated Matthew more and more with every step I took. Why was he still on the grounds? I thought furiously as I opened the door to the hospital wing. But the very same moment I opened the door all the anger vanished. I was again struck with the overwhelming worry.
“Sorry I took to long.” I whispered; I didn't really want to break the silence that hung in the room. “ I ran in to Raven.” I placed the bag at the end of Draco's bed.
“Oh, that Raven kid, what is his name... Matthew?” Narcissa looked at her husband and he gave a short nod. He looked at me with the same piercing eyes that Draco had when he knew that something wasn't right. “He is a nice boy. His father is a friend of ours...” Narcissa continued, I think it helped for her to think of something else for a second. Lucius eyes were, however, locked on mine.
“You don't know?” I breathed while staring right in to Lucius eyes. Narcissa asked what I meant, Lucius did not move. “It was him who did this! It was Matthew who did this to Draco!”
Lucius' jaw clenched and he took a tight grip of his cane. He looked awfully alike Draco, when he had found out that Ron had hit me.
“Are you sure?” Narcissa breathed.
“Yes.” I said offended. “I saw it, Mrs Malfoy, actually I think that every student in the class saw it.”
“May someone please help me understand...” Hissed Lucius. “Why that son of a bitch is still on the grounds?”
“I wonder the same thing.”
“Well, did you ask him?” Narcissa asked in a hurry and suddenly I had two Malfoys full attention.
“I was actually far to busy keeping him away from me. He is hopefully still whimpering on the floor.” I added through gritted teeth. “I kicked him in... Well... Let's just say that I hope he won't be able to have children.” I explained as they looked at me with a confused look on their faces.
Lucius' mouth actually curved up to a faint smile. I put the bag down on the bed as I sat down on the chair that was placed on the left side of the bed and took his hand. It was definitely not an imagination that his hand was warmer now. I took his hand in both of mine and was surprised as he once again squeezed. “Draco?” I whispered and stood up; while still holding his hand. “Draco?”
One light squeeze more and I felt a smile on my lips mixed with a salty tear.
“What?” Asked Lucius who stood up as well. “What is going on, Miss Granger?”
“ He did it again!” I couldn't help but to sound like a little child. “He squeezed my hand again! Twice.”
I heard Pomfrey and the Healer mutter something in a sad voice that sounded like imagination, tragic...
But I was one hundred percent that he had done it. “Come over here and feel” I said to Lucius who strode over fast. I let go with one of my hands and we stood and held his hand both of us. When Lucius and my hand came in contact he flinched but kept his hand there.
“Draco, son, can you hear me?” Lucius asked. I waited for the squeeze that never came. Lucius sighed sadly and was about to take his hand away.
“Draco, can you hear me?” I asked just as loud as Lucius had. Another light squeeze made Lucius freeze beside me.
“He squeezed, Cissy...”
Narcissa let out a sob of a new found hope. “Healer! Check him again” She ordered and the Healer at first glared at her, but then she obliged.
We were asked to step back as they examined him yet again. “Extraordinary...” Mumbled Pomfrey and the Healer agreed.
“What?” demanded Lucius. They both looked over at us at the same time with wide eyes.
“It looks as if he is getting better, Mr Malfoy.” the Healer spoke. “But I want to warn you again to not get your hopes up, it could just be temporarily.” She looked at us all as she spoke. We gave a short nod each. No matter what they said, they could not take this feeling away from me. He could actually survive.
I sunk down in the chair again and took his hand. All the things I had not told him yet, like the fact that I was in love with him... What I wouldn't give to be able to tell him that. To be able to tell him again how glad I was that he was in my life. To thank him for being there for me when I needed him. But I needed him now. I leaned my head on his bed and felt my lids go heavy. In a matter of seconds I let myself fall asleep.
“Miss Granger? Miss...? Oh, for crying out loud... Hermione?” I groaned as I heard a male voice waking me up. It took me a while to realise that it was Lucius. I sat up quickly; too quickly. My head started spinning and I shook it a bit to make sense of things.
“What happened?” I asked when the spinning had stopped. “What'd I miss?”
“Oh, nothing. I just wanted to ask if you want a bed of your own?”
Lucius was asking me...? I couldn't see through my shock. My mouth hung open. “Er...”
He waited patiently for my answer. I licked my lips before I could answer. “No, I've slept enough now. How long was I out for it this time, Mr Malfoy?”
“About two hours.” he gave me a faint smile so uncharacteristic for a wizard like him. “Narcissa fell asleep just after you.” He nodded towards a bed to the left where Narcissa was sleeping heavilyy. “I carried her there, but I guessed that you would have been... shocked if you woke up while I carried you. A witch in shock is not a good combination, so I let you sleep there.”
Witch, not Mudblood. I stared at him. What else could I do?
“You saved my son, the least I can do is act civilized towards you.” He continued and I gave a sceptic nod. Maybe I was just dreaming, but not even in my dreams did Lucius act that nice. I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming, but no. Apparently I wasn't.
“Nothing new on Draco?” I asked as I looked back on to him, I had never seen him look so fragile. His usually pale cheeks were flushed and I saw his pulse beat furiously on his neck. Slowly I leaned in and put my hand on his forehead. “Merlin! He is burning up!” I breathed as I let my hand slide down to the side of his face. He had been so damn cold; I couldn't understand how he could have gotten that hot in only two hours. “Mr Malfoy, we need to cool him down... He is far too warm.” Panic started to set in as he felt warmer every second.
“What are you talking about?” asked Lucius as he walked to stand beside me, he slapped my hand away from his son as he replaced it with his own. “Bloody hell..” He whispered as he rushed to get the Healer again; it seemed as if he trusted the Healer more than Pomfrey.
I spoke soothing words as I caressed his cheek. He moved ever so slightly, softly pressed his face in to my hand. Was he waking up? My heart was beating painfully fast.
Lucius appeared by my side again, he stood as close as he could without touching me.
“How could you not notice, Malfoy?” I hissed at him furiously as the Healer checked his pulse and shook her head.
“Do not blame this on me.”
“Then who should I blame? I was asleep for crying out loud, you should have checked on him!” I kept my voice at a low hiss, the edge to my voice was clear.
“Then maybe you should not have fallen asleep!” He snapped back, he too with a low voice. I flinched.
“He is your son, you should have checked on him!”
“I know!” He shouted at last, and his face was close to mine and we looked furiously at each other; neither of us wanted to be the first to look away. “I know!” he repeated. The rage that poured out of his eyes was unlike anything I had ever seen before and it made me want to back away, shield myself, protect myself against him. But I stood up with my head held high and met his glare, refusing to let him get to me. He opened his mouth to speak again but was interrupted as we heard a soft moan from behind us, all of the anger was washed away as we both turned around to look at Draco; from who's lips the moan had escaped.
Agony. His face expression held only agony, he seemed unable to open his eyes but there was no doubt that he was awake. Instantly I grabbed his hand and brought it to my lips as I kissed it, another moan escaped his partly open lips. His hair had become sweaty and laid plastered against his forehead.
“Draco?” I whispered against his fingers and his head moved slowly my direction as if he searched my voice. “I'm here, Draco. It's okay...”
His lips parted more and it seemed as if he wanted to say something, but he couldn't get the smallest word out. Slowly he managed to lick his, by then, very dry lips. Once he had done that he took a deep breath. I had stopped breathing all together.
“H...It...” another deep breath. “It h-hurts...” It pained me to hear those words, but he didn't seem finished as he took another deep breath. “I-It hurts, Hermio- Hermione.” He choked out with difficulties.
“Where does it hurt, Draco?”
Panic took over me completely as he begun to drift back in to the lifeless state he had just awoken from. “Draco, you need to stay awake... You need to tell me where it hurts.” My panic was heard in my voice even though I tried so hard to stay calm for him. He didn't need to hear the panic, perhaps it would even make him worried. I tried to calm myself down by taking long deep breaths. No, it didn't work.
He seemed to fight to stay awake. “All over... I...” another moan. “Make the pain go away... Please.”
“Out of my way!” called Pomfrey as she pushed me aside so that my hand lost contact with his but he managed to open his eyes the tiniest bit and search for me. His eyes found mine and he locked them on me. Pomfrey opened his mouth and poured a potion down his throat. He gave a small cough but swallowed it. When she moved out of the way I hurried back and grabbed his hand once more. He gave a few more coughs before he managed to open his eyes fully and glanced over at Pomfrey who smiled. “I think it's safe to say that you'll be just fine. Your strength should be returning already and the fever will go away in seconds.”
Relief rushed through me and a tear of joy rolled down my cheek just before he looked back at me. He already seemed better. I thanked Merlin for potions and magic.
“Hey...” He gave me a faint smile, and squeezed my hand.
“Are you still hurting?” I asked before he could say anything else and he closed his mouth before he shook his head slowly. “Gods, I was so worried!”
“I told you not to worry...” He mumbled lightly and stroke with his thumb on the back of my hand to calm me down. “Didn't I?” He made an attempt to sit up, but let out a pained moan and laid back down again.
“You need to sleep, Draco.” said Lucius behind me; who stood with his wife who's face was absolutely glowing with happiness. I had not noticed when she had woken up but I gave her a small smile and then looked back at Draco who gave a short nod. He looked suspiciously between his family and me before he shook his head as if wondering what had happened when he had been out of it.
I sat down on the chair beside his bed and held his hand while he looked at me. He didn't seem as if he ever wanted to go back to sleep again.
“Where is he?” Draco whispered and I knew he was referring to Matthew but he said it so that only I could hear it.
“He is still on the grounds, I would guess that he is just wandering around. Why?”
“Just needed to know.” he said through gritted teeth. “I heard you. When I was... Well, I heard you, but not clearly. It was as if you were speaking to me under water but I could make out the words. ”
“You heard everything?”
“No.. Just in the beginning I think, and I heard you shouting at Raven, and disarming him.”
“Indeed I did.”
“I also heard him talking to you. If I would be able to stand up, he would be dead by now.”
“Wait...” I said suddenly remembering that Matthew had left his wand in the wing. I smirk appeared on my lips as I came up with a plan. “You're right. I did disarm him!” I reached for my wand. “Accio Matthews wand!”
Within seconds I held the wand in my hand; it felt strange and cold. Without any further thought I snapped it in two pieces and put it in my pocket.
“Well, well, Hermione.” mused Draco with a sly smile on his lips. “I think its time you returned the wand to him, don't you?”
“I... He would be furious!” That was part of the reason that I didn't want to leave, the other reason was that he was finally awake... Though, I thought, he would be able to sleep if I wasn't there to ask him all the things I wanted to know. I wouldn't be able to stay away from him now that he was awake.
“Yes, but then again he can't do wandless magic and you would be able to defend yourself.”
“Well, I did defend myself earlier. I'll tell you later.” I added at his confused yet amused expression. “You get some sleep then, and I go give Matthew the pieces of his wand back.” I stood up and kissed his forehead, I mumbled to him that he better get some sleep while I was away, I didn't turn to walk away until he agreed.
“Oh, and Hermione?”
I turned around and was swept away with the intensity in his eyes, I was prepared for weakness but was met by the eyes of a person who was anything but weak. The depth of the eyes made me forget time and space, I took a trembling breath.
“Would you be a sweetheart and send a letter to Blaise?” He took a deep breath and grimaced in pain. “My owl knows his address.” his voice had that irresistible tone to it; the one he used when he tried to charm people in to getting what he wanted. I wouldn't be able to deny him anything at that moment.
“Ofcourse. Just an update on everything, or is it something special you want me to write?”
“An update would do fine... You could tell him...” then he mumbled something that I couldn't hear.
“I'm sorry, what?”
“That it's not the same without him here.” I could hear that he was exhausted already, he really needed to sleep.
“All right, I'll write that. I'll be back as soon as possible.”
He closed his eyes while smiling faintly. His hair was still wet and his cheeks flushed but he wasn't as still as he had been when he was unconscious. His chest moved to the rhythm of his breaths and I kissed him on his forehead before I stood up and told the two blond persons on the other side of the bed that I was going to find Raven; seeing as they had heard parts of our conversation they both smirked while nodding and I walked out to find the little bastard.
[Love all the reviews, you guys! Thanks a lot. I hope you like this chapter. What did you think of it, was it good? was it bad? Oh, and how do you like Narcissa? I know that it might seem a bit strange that Lucius changed in such short time, but he hasn't really changed, has he? if you think about it he is simply giving her the smallest chance,(because he has now seen that both his son AND his wife accepts her.) But then again that is a lot coming from someone like Lucius... Well. I do hope you like Lucius a little less cruel. And about Cruel, what do you think of Matthew? Love to hear what you think! - Cathyyy]
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