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Lady Malfoy by cherrypie3601
Chapter 24 : Battle of the Minds
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 67


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The dark crevices at the foot of the South Tower were enough to scare anyone witless. But the thought of all her friends still stuck in the flames terrified Hermione so much that the darkness and cold air were almost welcomed.

Unable to sit still, she had quickly taken a detour to the master bedroom and gathered a set of clothes for each person and put them in an enchanted bag that was sized to fit a lot more than it looked like it could. After that, she had draped a black set of robes over her head to avoid being seen and then headed straight for the South tower where she had been waiting for the last ten minutes.

It was killing her. She could do nothing except walk around restlessly with nothing but the worst on her mind. What if something happened to any one of them? She would never be able to forgive herself for it. There was a soft shuffle beside Hermione and she shot up suddenly, tightening the grasp around her wand.

“Are you going to kill me, Hermione?” Cassius asked, as he limped in from behind the corner.

“What’re you doing here?” she asked, exhaling deeply. She didn’t understand this wave of relief that swept over her when she saw that it was him and no one else.

He removed his hand from his chest and Hermione felt sick when she saw the blood seeping through his white shirt. He looked at her.

She gulped and prayed that she was doing the right thing. “Sit down,” she said, ushering to a huge rectangular stone on the other side of the small room. He took off his shirt and handed it to Hermione which she used, due to a lack of any other clean material, to clean up the blood surrounding his burnt flesh. She produced her wand and performed various spells.

“Does it ever heal?” he asked her.

She nodded solemnly, not looking up. “It will, in due time.”

As she began to clear up the excess skin around the wound with a spell, she asked him something that had been bugging her for a while: “Why didn’t you tell your father who I really am?”

Cassius smiled, despite the pain that she was sure he was in. He shrugged. “I’m not one to follow orders,” he said. “He sent me on a stupid, pathetic mission to find out who you really are and it angered me that he did. So I didn’t give him what he wanted.”

Hermione furrowed her sweaty brow, still not looking at him. “Does that bother you?” he asked her. “Knowing that I saved you out of spite and not out of goodness?”

“No,” she replied truthfully. “But it does make me feel like a fool to help you knowing that you could just as easily produce a wand and kill me.”

“I won’t,” he replied. She was taken aback by the sincerity in his voice and she looked up.

“Why not?”

“I told you: I don’t kill for fun. It’s pathetic and primal; there is no logic in judging somebody’s skill to inspire fear by their body count.”

Hermione continued cleaning up the blood and replied: “So what makes you the most dangerous death eater in the world?”

Cassius smiled as though he had just been paid a huge compliment. “I have an unfair advantage, unfortunately. But I’ll tell you about that some other time.”

He stood up as Hermione finished sealing the large gash on his chest and she handed him his bloody shirt. “You saved me and now I saved you,” she said, standing up as well. “Do we call it even?”

He put his shirt on and buttoned it up, shaking his head. “I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“Calling it even means that you no longer owe me anything and I no longer am in debt to you. We will have no reason to ever see each other again in the future and that I cannot bear to think.”

With that passing sentiment, he smiled at her and headed back into the dark tower. “Good luck,” he said.
---

Draco appeared ten minutes later, with a broken arm and a bloody head, with Pansy by his side. She was nursing a broken rib judging by the way she held her torso, a cut lip and black eye. Hermione jumped up instantly at the sight of the disfigured two but the real horror came after Eli apparated behind them a few seconds later holding a limp body.

“RON!” Hermione screamed, running over to him.

He was laying perfectly still and were it not for the faint heart beat that Hermione heard when she pressed her wet cheek against his chest, she would have thought him dead. He had a series of cuts on his face and arms and a severe burn that ran down most of his back.

“He got caught in the crossfire,” Draco explained. “One of Lestrange’s men got to him after he got burnt by Adria.”

She couldn’t handle this all at once and felt herself fall against the wall. “Ron…” she said weakly. “Why in bloody sodding hell did he have to come back?!”

Draco helped Pansy into a seating position on the huge rock and then turned to Hermione with a guilty and worried expression. “We need to go.”

Hermione’s eyes suddenly shot up. “Alright. But we’ll need a carriage to transport Ron and Pansy.”

Draco sighed, bit his lip and shook his head. “You and I need to go.”

“What?” She looked from Draco to Eli to Pansy who all carried the same expression of fear.

“The exits are sealed off, we can’t take a carriage,” Draco explained. “Weasley and Pansy need some serious medical attention right now and no one can apparate out of the mansion – not even me. They won’t be able to get out without drawing attention.”

“So we’re just going to abandon them?” Hermione cried.

“It’s the right thing to do, Hermione,” Pansy said, with great difficulty.

“I will stay with them here,” Eli said.

“Excellent,” Hermione shot back sarcastically. “Now three of you can die.”

“When we leave, Lestrange won’t have any more reason to stay here. Things will clear up, and Eli will take them both to St. Mungo’s.”

Hermione threw her arms in the air and stormed past Draco, cursing loudly. “Do you hear what you’re saying?! Pansy can barely move, Ron’s… Merlin knows how close to death and you just want to leave them?”

“If we take them with us, they won’t survive… none of us will,” Draco explained.
Hermione didn’t bother to even stop the tears this time, letting them moisten her dirty face. She saw Draco slowly raise his arm up but then, apparently deciding against it, put it back down.

“Please,” was all he uttered.

Hermione didn’t respond to him, turning red with anger and shame. She had done this to Ron… to all of them. She had half the mind right now to run up and kill Lestrange – a sort of animal instinct had taken over her usually rational mind and it took Draco’s soft hand against her arm to bring her back to reality.

“Let’s go,” he said, hoisting the bag onto his shoulder.

Hermione walked over to Ron and bent down beside him, hating him for coming back and hating herself for letting this happen. She placed a kiss on his forehead and ran her hand down his cheek, hoping that whatever bad was coming in the future would affect her and no one else. She turned to Pansy who smiled at her, flinching slightly as Hermione placed a hand on her shoulder. Eli just grinned weakly as he bent down to kiss her hand and without allowing Hermione to say anything, said: “Be strong.”

Draco turned to say something to Pansy but she stopped him and blew him a gentle kiss. Without another word, Hermione and Draco pushed the large stone door ajar, glancing at the threesome one last time before heading out into the cold night.
---
Number 12, Grimmauld place hadn’t changed significantly since Sirius had owned it. After inheriting it, Harry had fixed up the creaking staircases, and moulded walls but for the most part, the corridors were still dark, the doors were still scathed and the floors were still cold to the touch. Harry made a point of coming here every summer with Ron, Ginny and Hermione but for the rest of the year, it was empty and silent, echoing the secrets of the extinct Black family name.

Draco and Hermione had not spoken a word to each other ever since they left the Manor and mounted their broomsticks, Draco on his Windblade 4000 and Hermione on her cheap Viktor Krum knock off. The two hour ride had ended on the deserted London street where Hermione, being one of the three secret keepers to the residence, had let herself and Draco in.

He placed the small bag by the entrance with the two brooms as she walked past the kitchen and into the small living room, darkened by the night sky but illuminated faintly by the candles in various portraits.

“Who it is?” one of the paintings whispered, sounding excited.

“It’s the mudblood,” another one shot back. “Calm down.”

A wave of murmurs echoed for a few seconds and then died out slowly as Draco entered. He stared at all of them before turning to Hermione with a quizzical expression, “These are…”

“Your ancestors,” she said, nodding.

“But why did Potter leave these portraits up here?” he asked. 

Hermione sat down on the sofa and rested her head against the back. “For Sirius – he didn’t want to change anything about this place other than some of the very broken bits.”
 
Draco nodded as he acknowledged her comment and then watched her get up and remove the necklace from around her neck. She looked at it for a moment and he didn’t fail to note the sadness in her eyes as she returned it to him with a weak smile.

“Thank you,” she said.

She pulled the dress up an inch so that it didn’t scrape against the ground and then walked into one of the nearing rooms to change out of it, leaving Draco alone.

He lay down on the sofa and held the necklace up so that it shimmered in the dull orange light. It was a magnificently crafted piece of jewellery, custom made from Bolivia, which his mother had worn. A deep weight settled itself on his chest when he thought about his life, as it presently stood.

News of his mother’s death was imminent. She had neither the physical strength nor mental control to survive in Azkaban and had it not been for his father’s inane and failed attempt to escape which resulted in him getting an early kiss from the dementors, she would not have outlived him. He wanted to go see her.

Glancing out the window, he saw the early onset of dawn brimming against the horizon. As the gold and red colours of the sun began to streak the dark sky, he thought about making his visit soon. The world had taken its toll on him and now, all he wanted to do was sleep.
---
Hermione felt a cathartic release after emerging from the shower in a baggy t-shirt and loose jeans. Compared to the fitted clothes she’d been wearing recently, she enjoyed the lack of clinginess and the ability to breathe. She inhaled the air around her which was tainted by the scent of rusted paint, lavender shampoo and wet wood. The sun had risen fully when she drew the drapes in the small stretch of corridor between the bathroom and one of the bedrooms. The windows allowed gentle gusts of cold wind to blow in and caper through the curtains, giving the once dead house a sense of life again.

The water had washed away not only the dirt but also the sick feeling that was harbouring in the pit of her stomach and the anger that was festering in her mind. She had to gather herself and figure out how to destroy Adria – enough was enough. The lives of many people were now depending on this – innocent people serving penance for Lestrange’s crime.

As Hermione entered the living room to draw the curtains, she saw Draco lying on the sofa, his eyes closed and his face at peace. She felt odd as a smile forced itself onto her face against her will. He looked like a child. Unable to resist the urge, she sat down on the floor beside him, leaning her chin by his arm and looked at his pale face.

She was beginning to understand the real reasons behind her guilt at Ron’s injuries. She wasn’t just upset that he had come here for her but that her feelings were beginning to change. She had made it clear that their relationship could go no further than friendship but the amount of electricity she felt pulsing through her veins right now was more than she had ever experienced with Ron and she was ashamed about it.

Draco opened his eyes as some light flooded through the curtains. He looked around for a second and when he saw Hermione by his side, a small smile surfaced.

“Is it morning already?” he said.

“Yes,” she nodded.

He turned on his side so that he could face her better. The two sat in silence for a while, before Hermione opened her mouth again. “I should go and do some more research.”

“No, you should stay here and talk to me,” he said, holding onto her arm and pulling her back down.

“What do you want to talk about?”

“I want you to tell me what I did was right.”

His ash grey eyes looked at her with a deep sadness as he continued. “I want you to tell me that allowing Pansy and you and even Weasley to be involved in this whole ordeal was the right thing to do.”

Hermione placed her hand on Draco’s cheek and moved in a little closer, almost on instinct. “Why do you feel so guilty all the time?” she asked.

“Because whenever I set out to do harm, I do harm and whenever I set out to do good, I do harm. There’s no escaping it. Maybe I’m just not meant to be good.”

This angered Hermione and she withdrew her hand from his face. “That’s a very cowardly thing to say.”

“You’re upset with me for saying that?” he asked, roughly.

“Stop worrying about the past, Draco. What’s done is done. We should learn from the past but we don’t need to fester away thinking about it. You’re barely twenty five for heaven’s sakes!”

Draco sat up irritably and glared out the window. “Did Pansy tell you? Did she tell you why Adria really died?”

“Yes, she did,” Hermione replied sharply. “It was because you left the Manor. It was an accident – like everything else in life, accidents happen.”

“You don’t know what it’s like… every time I see her, I wish I had died and not even because that would have spared her life, but because that would have spared me this guilt.”

He then turned to see Hermione’s reaction and laughed bitterly. “Have I repulsed you yet?” he asked. “Now that you know that I’m no valiant, redeemed hero?”

“Draco-”

“I’m tired,” he said, with a heavy undertone of sadness which then elevated into anger.

“I’m bloody tired of this sodding life. The more good I try to do, the worse things seem to play out. I just…”

“You’re just trying to find an excuse,” Hermione shot back angrily, standing up. “You stupid little prick.”

“Are you out of your goddamn mind?!” Draco asked, also standing and towering over Hermione. “I am in this for everything I’ve got and I’ve lost most of it! I’ve lost more than you can ever imagine. To hell with being good and righteous! I regret every bloody thing I’ve done ever since.”

Hermione’s face was frozen with a peculiar expression on her face. Draco turned his head away from her to look out the window but the bright sunlight and green neighbourhood angered him even more so he turned to walk into the kitchen.

“Does that mean you regret saving me?” she asked suddenly in a low voice.

He paused and turned around. “What?”

“Do you regret saving me from the dungeons? Pulling me out of the fountain? Pretending to be married to me so that I could stay alive?”

He gazed at her with a blank expression and without waiting for a response, Hermione pushed past him, shoving him as hard as she could. “Where’re you going?” he asked her as she ran upstairs.

“Out,” she snapped, reappearing at the head of the stairs with an owl in her hand a tattered piece of parchment.

“Are you out of your mind? Lestrange will kill you,” he said, grabbing her by the arm.

“Well then I’ll be doing you a favour,” she said, breaking free from his grasp and slamming the door on the way out.
---
Hermione walked four blocks straight without turning back before she stopped. She took the parchment and pressed it against a large tree trunk, ignoring the indentations that it made against the thin material.

Four o’clock, Three Broomsticks

She attached the message to the owl in such a hurry that it pecked her twice before allowing her to fasten it on safely. She watched it eagerly swoop out of her hands and into the blue sky.
---
Draco moved his arm with a huge amount of pain as he opened the door to one of the rooms upstairs. This one was a very sombre room with taupe walls, a low ceiling with a broken chandelier and a huge tapestry on the south side with the Black family motto: ‘Toujours pur’. He walked towards the barred windows and looked out onto the deserted, dark street.

He hadn’t been able to stop worrying for the last however many hours it had been; he’d lost track of time after the first two. Hermione had been gone for most of the day and he was terrified, down to his very core, that she would be harmed. Those working for Lestrange were all over the place and the most unlikely of characters; anyone of them could have seen Hermione and snitched on her for a few galleons.

“You’re Cissy’s boy, aren’t you?”

Draco jumped at the sound, causing himself pain in the chest as he turned around and saw one of the portraits looking at him with a curious expression. The man in the portrait was very young – younger than Draco was right now – with dark, long black hair, a clean shaven face and beady black eyes.

He nodded to the question, suspiciously. “Yes,” the portrait continued, slightly dazed.

“They told me she had a son with… what’s his name? Lucien?”

“Lucius,” Draco corrected. “Lucius Malfoy.”

The boy nodded. “What’s your name?”

“Draco,” he answered.

A small laugh escaped the boy’s mouth at which point, Draco raised his eyebrow, perplexed. “What?” he asked.

“It’s a good name,” the boy said. “Very suiting – a snake, a nasty creature that can do a lot more harm than it looks capable of.”

Draco looked around the room and noticed that this portrait was the only one hanging here; all the other ones were downstairs in the corridor and living room. He moved in a little closer to read the inscription below the frame and saw the same was scratched out.

“My brother’s handiwork,” he explained. “When the Order of the Phoenix took over this house, he scratched out my name in a fit of rage, calling me a fool.”

“What’s your name?” Draco asked.

“Regulus Black,” the portrait responded, slowly and painfully. “I see you’ve heard of me,” he added, seeing the knowing look on Draco’s face.

“You were a death eater,” he said. “Sirius Black was your brother.”

“I was,” he agreed.

Draco gazed intently at the portrait. “You died very young.”

“A year and a half after this painting was done of me, in fact,” Regulus said. There was a pause and then he added, as an afterthought: “I’m glad you came in here. I rarely have anyone to talk to. My ancestors don’t take too kindly on my abandonment of the Dark Lord.”

Draco pursed his lips and turned back towards the window. Hermione still hadn’t returned and he wasn’t in the mood to chat it up with some lonely portrait. He gazed out onto the long stretch of concrete outside in hopes of seeing a figure walking up to the house or some form of life that would indicate that she was still alive and well.

“The mudblood isn’t back yet?” he asked.

Draco turned instantly and glared at the portrait. “Do not refer to her like that,” he said tersely. “Or I may not be as generous as Potter was.”

“You’ve become a do-gooder then, have you?” Regulus asked. “Oh yes, I can see it in your eyes. It’s the same thing I had harboured within me for years.”

“See what?”

“Fear – the fear of failure.”

Draco snarled and then let out a twisted laugh. “I’ve already failed,” he said. “I’ve already lost everything. There’s no fear left within me.”

Regulus fondled his black hair and shook his head. “No, you’re still afraid. Perhaps, you’re afraid of losing whatever you have left – perhaps, the mudblood herself.”

Draco could no longer stand the word, and he whipped out his wand and placed it two inches within Regulus’ face. “I can do whatever I want to you,” he warned. “And I will.”

“I’m dead,” he replied, sadly. “And a lot more like you than I originally thought.”

Draco did not release the tight grip on his wand as Regulus continued. “I did what my family asked of me… in fact, I did more: I joined the ranks of the death eaters, I followed the Dark Lord’s orders like a religion and I gave myself over to him, body, mind and soul.”

“But…” Draco said quietly, expecting the next word.

“But I got in way over my head. I didn’t lose anyone per se, but I became isolated. I could only do certain things, initiate conversation with certain people at certain times of the day and it drove me to madness.”

Unable to listen to him anymore, Draco turned away and began to do the one thing he knew would lead to more pain: think. He thought about Hermione and realized that he may very well never see her again. It was completely possible that she had gone back to Potter to go find Weasley or maybe she had returned to St. Mungo’s to work. And then there was the other possibility that Lestrange… no, he wouldn’t think about that. However, just like any other sensation, the only way to dull the thoughts of his broken past, present and future, he thought about her. It had been so long since he had imagined her fading face in his mind, so long since he had dreamt about her. Today he would think of her again and maybe, he would be happy.
---

“You never cease to surprise me,” he said, smiling.

“And why is that?” she asked slowly.

“Well, I fully admitted to being a death eater and not a good soul in disguise, and yet you still wanted to meet me?”

“You’re a pretty unpredictable person yourself,” Hermione replied. “You haven’t killed me yet and you’ve had more than enough chances.”

“Touché,” he nodded and placed his hand on her back, ushering to a small table by the flowered left wall. “Shall we eat?”

Though she had come to talk to Cassius, Hermione realized that she was indeed very hungry. She nodded and went towards the table to sit down. It was during the weekend so the tiny pub was packed with Hogwarts students and the room smelt like raw parchment and emu ink.

Shuffling between the crowds and elbowing some people in the process, Hermione made her way over to the table with two oak chairs. She put her coat on the backrest and sat down without hesitation, allowing her legs to rest which she hadn’t been able to do for a while. Cassius examined her with a curious expression before removing his dark navy overcoat and did the same thing, sitting down.

A floating tray with peppermint tea circled the table slowly and waited as Cassius removed two cups from it, one of which he placed in front of Hermione and the other which he sipped.

“And to what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked.

The first response that came to Hermione’s head was that Draco was being a complete self-pitying ass who was too busy wallowing in regrets and guilt to care about the real mystery. But that didn’t seem like a good idea to say.

“I need a favour,” she said.

Two plates of chicken pot pie, a tray of crackers and a bag of fudge brownies later, Hermione had explained what she wanted from Cassius. The pudgy little waitress wobbled her way over to gather their empty plates as he still pondered over her request with an amused expression.

“When I said that you and I owed each other, this isn’t what I had in mind.”
Hermione smiled slyly herself. “I promise I will make it worthwhile if you do this for me,” she said.

He contemplated her proposal. “What can you give me that I don’t already have?”

“I promise you, it’ll be worth your while,” she urged him. “Just meet me back here tomorrow at seven.”

While she sipped her last few drops of tea, he nodded. “I don’t like doing menial tasks, you know.” 

“I know,” she agreed. “But I do appreciate this very much.” 

“I don’t need you to appreciate me,” he replied. “I need you to fear me.”

“Oh yes, I fear you as well… very much so,” she said, without the least bit of terror. She held out her steady arms. “Look, I’m trembling!”

Cassius’ eyes narrowed very slightly at the faded burn marks on her arm and he put his fingers around her wrist, holding it up and moved his chair in to examine them closer. Hermione felt the warm touch of his hands and didn’t understand why his expression had changed so dramatically at the sign of the fire.

“They don’t look so bad,” he remarked. “Not as bad as mine.”

“They’ve healed and I was saved before the exposure could get worse.”
The last of the cups were cleared away from their table by the waitress and she left a small tray with a bill on it.

“Draco saved you?” he said.

Hermione suddenly looked down. “Yes,” she replied after a brief pause.

Without inquiring any further, he reached into his pockets and placed two galleons on the small, red tray. They both got up and headed outside and since it was nearing dusk, most of the students had cleared out. Hermione felt a shiver pass through her as the door opened and a cold gust of wind encircled her; she hastily put her coat on.

They walked to the edge of street, now only illuminated by bright orange lamps. Hogsmeade was quite sketchy at night time with the dark corners, and shady characters wandering the nights. As they approached the train station, she turned to Cassius and asked him something that had been bugging her.

“Are you still at the Manor?”

“No,” he replied. “I left right after I saw you in the South Tower.”

A wave of relief swept over Hermione’s face but then he added: “But I believe my father and his men are still there.”

The fleeting happiness vanished immediately. “I don’t know when they’re going to leave,” he said, answering her next question. “My father is far too ignorant in these matters – he finds killing a sort of relaxant when he’s stressed.”

The thought disturbed Hermione greatly and she nodded distractedly and began to turn towards the Floo station. “Tomorrow, then?” she asked.

“Seven o’clock,” he agreed.
---
About an hour after Hermione had left, Cassius still remained at the corner of the street of Hogsmeade, unaffected by the cold and undisturbed by the darkness. He took a seat on a nearby bench and rested his elbow on the edge.

Hermione Granger proved to be far more… something, whatever that something was. She was a mudblood, the woman who had killed his mother and the woman who was set out to seek revenge on his father. Cassius understood why he wasn’t worried about his father – he had never cared for the man. The lewd, foolishly blind man only ever did what he did, for the glory and so there was no real reason to protect him. His mother, as well, fell into the same category. She never cared for him, but for what he symbolized - a sick little seedling. And the irony of it was that he had done both of them very proud. He had accomplished everything that was expected of him and even more.

Yes, he understood all that.

And then there was Hermione Granger, the slightly short, bushy haired mudblood who was asking him to help her. He wasn’t going to kill her – he never really had wanted to, but the thought was now out of the question. She interested him in a way that no one ever had. She put her curiosity over everything else, apparently even her safety.
He thought about what she had asked him to do and stood up. He would return to Malfoy Manor tomorrow and do what she wanted. He smiled; at least he wouldn’t be bored anymore.
---
Hermione slowly pushed the front door open. It was almost nine thirty at night and there was no one around. Feeling slightly intrusive, she walked up the stairs and into Draco’s small bedroom using of the slight illumination from her wand to guide her. The room that she was in right now was fairly empty with the exception of a small single bed, a wooden chest, an empty portrait frame and a twisted staircase that led up to the roof.

Draco was asleep but by the heavy and strained movements of his body as he breathed – or tried to breathe- Hermione could tell that the antidote was wearing off fast. She quietly moved past the wooden chest and knelt down beside his shaking body, bringing the light near his face. She observed the sweat beads on his forehead and the redness all over his cheeks.

“Draco…” she said, fearfully. “Draco, wake up.”

She put her hand on his cheek, hoping that her cold fingers would trigger a response but the heat from his skin overwhelmed her and she withdrew her hand sharply.

“Draco,” she said, this time with a little more force. “Can you hear me?”

His facial structure didn’t change even the slightest bit and Hermione knew that he had fallen into a relapse. Without a single thought of hesitation, she ran back outside and manoeuvred her way down the stairs and to the entrance of the destitute house. Shuffling through a few things, she found the large bag that she had brought with her when they left the Manor. She cursed as she hit her knee against the banister but found what she was looking for – the Fiendfyre antidote. The portraits around her muttered inaudible cries of irritation as Hermione pushed the bag back noisily and ran back upstairs.

The small flood of light from the hallway illuminated Draco’s room better, so Hermione left the door open as she entered. Kneeling down beside the bed again, she popped open the bottle cover and held it close to Draco’s pale lips. Like the few times that she had done this before, the first few drops were the hardest to get in. His body began to resist the antidote and the thick liquid fell against the sides of his mouth.

Hermione put her hand on his cheek and used her thumb to keep his mouth open as she forcefully poured the potion into his mouth; this time, more of it got through.

“Draco?” she asked again. “Open your eyes.”

She tipped the bottle even further while keeping her left hand tight around his wrist, keeping track of his pulse. It was still far too fast which could only mean the potion’s effects hadn’t set in.

There was a still silence that lasted for hours in Hermione’s mind before there was a mild shaking in Draco’s chest. It rose and fell more steadily, as if his body was trying to hold on to dear life. He began to cough, regurgitating some of the original potion but Hermione’s hand on his face felt the sudden cooling of his skin. His seizing body had begun to settle down and his heavy set eyelids opened a fraction, unveiling the grazed gray colour of his irises.

Hermione expelled a sigh of relief and took a spare cloth from the floor to wipe away the excess potion falling out of his mouth. She didn’t speak to him. The last few times he had relapsed, it had taken him well over a few hours to finally regain consciousness during which she assumed his body was recuperating and repairing itself. But this sudden burst of wakefulness meant that he would probably need a couple of minutes to just recollect his memories and realize where he was.

Rolling up the sleeves of her flannel pyjamas, she whipped out her wand and began to use a cooling spell across Draco’s forehead. She noticed that his eyes had begun to move around very slowly but his pupils were still dilated. Regardless, as long as his mind had regained consciousness, he was in no terminal danger. When she was sure that his temperature had been lowered significantly, her hands moved over his heart where she felt the slowing beats.

The opening under his eyelids had gotten larger and Hermione saw the dilation in his pupils as it began to lessen. “Draco?” she said, very slowly.

He nodded, taking in a deep breath of the cold night air. “Did I…” he began. “Again?”

“Yeah, you did,” Hermione said. “But you recovered much faster this time, that’s good.”

Draco pursed his lips and closed his eyes again, sighing. He looked at Hermione who gently placed her hand on his cheek, smiling. “You came back,” he said, with great difficulty.

Hermione nodded fervently, pursing her lips to hold back the tears. “Of course I did. I’ll always come back.”

He began to cough. At first it was light but then the congestion built up and the fit got more violent.

And then it came.

Spewing out of his mouth like mucus, the blood stained the sheets and contrasted greatly with the paleness in Draco’s face as he fell back onto the bed and stopped breathing.




---

a/n:
Terribly sorry about the delay! Also, to keep you guys entertained while you wait for my updates very patiently, I will post a quote from the next chapter to keep you all guessing =)

Keep those encouraging reviews coming! I read them all and you have no idea how much they motivate me!

Chapter 25 - Alone
Harry's face stiffened. "They're starting to kill."


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Lady Malfoy: Battle of the Minds

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