Chapter 25 : Figuring Things Out
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“No, oh no, Draco don’t you do this to me… don’t you dare,” Hermione murmured, scrambling down to his side as he lay on the floor next to the bed. She could feel tears instantly start running down her cheeks as she unconsciously began to cry. He was wearing the same thing he’d had on in the dream, and his shoulder was a mass of blood. His eyes were closed, and his skin had a terrible blue tint to it. Focus, Hermione! She yelled at herself. You’ve got to keep him with you! She lifted his wrist and put her fingers against it. There was barely enough blood left in his body to give him a pulse.
“Ok, I need to close those wounds,” she told herself, sniffling her tears away and taking hold of the situation and her fears. Now’s not the time to panic, she knew, biting her bottom lip anxiously. It’s the time to be rational and to save Draco’s life. Looking around, she realized that she had no idea where her wand was. His, however, happened to be right there in his hand, so she snatched it quickly and took aim at his shoulder.
“Episkey!” she said sternly, then again after ripping his shirt open and pulling the tattered sleeve away, to more clearly see what she was dealing with. It was then that Hermione noticed the series of cuts on his chest as well. Frowning in an almost motherly way, she pointed his wand at his chest, murmuring the healing spell under her breath.
As Draco’s many wounds began to steadily seam themselves up, Hermione leaned forward to examine them. Across the flesh of his shoulder were four very deep gashes; they appeared to have been made by something like a hot knife. She couldn’t believe how deep they were; his entire deltoid muscle had been shredded, and it nearly went to the bone. The cuts on his chest were made by something just as sharp, but they were considerably more shallow, and hadn’t caused too much blood loss. What’s going on, Draco? She gazed into his face, willing his mind to answer, even as her own remained oddly fuzzy.
His face was abysmally pale; it’s pale enough on a good day, she thought, choking back a sob of hysteria. It relieved her a bit to see his shoulder in one piece, but the loss of blood that he’d suffered was severe. Even with his wounds closed, Hermione knew they weren’t yet out of the woods. I don’t know how fast he’ll heal, she thought. I don’t think I can take him to St. Mungoes; they’d ask too many questions. I’d almost like to take him to a muggle hospital just so he could get a blood transfusion, but they would really ask too many questions… not that there’d be too many willing werewolf blood-donors hanging around, anyway. Her brow furrowed subconsciously in indecision.
As she weighed her options, Hermione levitated him swiftly and placed him onto the bed, adjusting his tattered shirt around him as well as she could. If he hadn’t looked so very dead, he would’ve appeared to be sleeping. She told herself repeatedly that he looked nothing like a corpse at all, and that the blue smudges under his eyes could be merely from exhaustion. “Get it together, Hermione,” she muttered. “Don’t let your mind dwell on such things.” She smoothed a hand across his forehead and sighed, trying to piece together the broken fragments of memory that were all she had to go on.
“Once you wake up, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do,” she told him, conjuring a chair to her side to sit by the bed. She closed her eyes and tried to gather her thoughts.
She remembered that he was a werewolf, and that they were soul mates. She remembered getting attacked by the clan, and Harry and Ginny and Lyulf… she remembered marrying Draco. A small thrill went through her as she pictured that particular event. Something happened to Ginny, Hermione knew, but what? And Agilolf… he did something to me… something bad… How did my memory get so foggy? She groaned in frustration. When did Draco reappear? What happened to Agilolf… and where is everyone else? She had absolutely no answers. All that she could be sure of, was that she was glad she and Draco were alive.
She took his hand in hers and gave it a quick squeeze, instantly noticing how cold he was. Looking at his face with concern, Hermione yelped in surprise as his body abruptly convulsed. She jumped to her feet, sending the chair at her back skidding across the floor to ultimately fall over onto it’s side. Hermione didn’t even hear it as she put her ear instead just above Draco’s barely parted lips. No air puffed against her cheek; he’d stopped breathing.
“No,” she gasped. She put a hand over his heart and felt it’s slow, labored beating. As long as the organ was still working on it’s own, she couldn’t attempt to revive him… doing so could’ve actually caused his heart to stop all the sooner. Frantic, Hermione clambered onto the bed and leaned over him, straddling him with her knees. She grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled her face down to his, looking straight at him even as he remained unconscious.
“You listen here, Draco!” she yelled fiercely. “Get that ass of yours in gear and live, damn you! If you die on me now, I’ll have nothing left! Don’t you dare act like you can make me fall in love with you just so I can experience a load of atrociousness before having you up and leave me!” Tears openly streamed down her face, falling from her cheeks to his. They landed on his alabaster skin like tiny diamonds, leaving trails of crystal in their wake. Hermione grit her teeth as she stared at him, simultaneously hating and loving him more than ever.
“You knew you were in for it when you found out I was your soul mate,” she went on. “Nothing can make me give up on you, and nothing can tear us apart! You can’t get rid of me that easily, Draco Malfoy!”
Alongside the violent tremors of fear and anger that wracked her body, Hermione could feel something inexplicable gathering in her chest. She had a sudden flickering image of being a magnet surrounded by tiny specks of iron. With each breath she took, she felt the attracted shards zoom toward her, twirling together within her core to fill her with something she didn’t recognize. It grew within her chest until it hurt, mingling with the waves of despair she was desperately trying to keep at bay. A terrible whining sound filled her head and she winced. It wasn’t until the mirror just to the right of the bed cracked that she realized the noise wasn’t just an illusion.
I can’t take this… oh Merlin, whatever’s happening, I can’t take it…not now, not like this... Hermione’s tremors had progressed into full-blown shakes, and tiny wisps of steam rose from her arms. Raw heat flooded through her body, turning the iron-like mass of power within her into a searing wash of molten silver. Something to her right nudged her consciousness, and she glanced over toward the wall. Sitting on the windowsill was a large and leafy plant; under Hermione’s frenzied gaze, it withered instantly and fell to the ground. Her eyes widened in fear; she couldn’t understand what was happening, and she was powerless to stop it. She was afraid she’d explode from the rush.
Feverishly, she returned her eyes to the man before her. Gripping the paltry remnants of his collar, Hermione wrenched Draco up from the bed, touching him nose to nose. “All right, love,” she breathed dangerously, “I’ve experienced enough abnormality in my life because of you to no longer be surprised at anything. Whatever this is that’s happening to me, we’re both going to live through it. I refuse to sit by and watch you die, even if I’m about to do the same,” She pulled their faces even closer together as the whining around her roared into a screaming wail. “Do you hear me, Draco?” Hermione asked, her voice barely a whisper, “live.”
The word left her lips on the tiniest of breaths. It hovered between them, halting the shriek of power in the air and leaving her body cold. She pulled him instinctively to her, suddenly feeling like he was her anchor and the only thing preventing her from being dragged out to sea. Her body felt like it was being plucked at from the inside out, and as she clutched his form up against her own, he gave a violent, slamming shudder. His skin flared like fire and to her shock he grabbed her suddenly by the shoulders and tossed her across the bed.
“Draco!” Hermione gasped, scrambling up to get her bearings while staring at him with wide eyes. “You’re alive…?”
He sat rigidly with his back against the headboard, his chest heaving and his skin a scalded red. He didn’t blink as he looked at her, almost as though she scared him. “Was I… dead?” he asked, his words halting in his total confusion and shock.
The sound of his voice cut her like a knife, and before she could think about what she was doing, Hermione was on top of him. Draco’s surprise doubled when she dove at him, literally thrusting him into the headboard and pinning him there. She sobbed freely into his chest; her shoulders quivered within the circle of his arms and he blinked, bowled over by her presence. Exhaling slowly, Draco smoothed a hand over the back of her head, taming for mere seconds at a time the raucous waves of curls there. Unbidden, a random chuckle burst from his chest.
“I really died, huh?” his tone was one of disbelief, but as he stared at the pearly grey walls of Hermione’s room, Draco knew that it was true. He glanced down to the top of her chestnut locks and smiled at the slight hint of caramel that shimmered between the curls, seemingly just for him. He felt her body suddenly tense against his own and he waited, knowing she was about to speak. What Draco did not know was coming, however, was her sudden onslaught of wrath.
“Yes! Yes, you died! You died, damn you!!” Hermione hollered in her fury, glaring up at him with eyes that flashed… eyes that were-
“Silver…” Draco gasped; the word barely registering in his brain through his state of awe. “Mi… your eyes…”
“What about my eyes?” she snapped, her bottom lip involuntarily protruding in a cutely impatient way.
“They’re… they’re…” Draco stared at her, mesmerized. In the span of a moment, her eyes lost their starry color and darkened smoothly back to their original, deep espresso hue. In that instant, Hermione went from looking like some sort of wicked pixie, back to the warm and brilliant girl Draco had fallen for. He smiled at her and tucked a rogue curl behind her ear. “They’re fine,” he said. “They were silver for a moment, though… just like mine. I’m not sure what could’ve caused it; maybe you were just mad enough that you caused that werewolf blood of mine to spike in your veins.”
“My eyes turned silver?” Hermione was incredulous, “But… they’re brown again? Oh… I wish I could’ve seen them.”
Draco laughed. “Well, it was a little unsettling, actually,” he admitted. “I suppose I now know how people feel when I turn such a fierce stare on them.”
“Oh, I doubt it,” she smirked. “You’ve got much more behind that stare than I do.” She waited for him to respond, but to her intrigue, he didn’t. Draco merely sat quietly and studied her as she kneeled in front of him. A strange mixture of goosebumps and vulnerability washed along her spine as his silence went on. Hermione opened her mouth to break the awkward haze of dead air, but Draco stopped her with a hand across her lips. Without saying a word, he just shook his head.
Butterflies began to fill her stomach under his meaningful gaze. He moved his hand from her mouth to her cheek, gently brushing his fingers across her skin. She closed her eyes, swept away by an unimaginable tenderness.
All that Draco cared to think about at that moment was his overwhelming relief that she was alive and virtually unharmed. Even though his own life had been in danger, he’d literally died; still he focused on her. He remembered seeking her out in the realm of her subconscious while she’d dreamed. Just as he’d known she would, she saved him… again. His throat constricted oddly at the thought, and he attempted to swallow the foreign sensation away. In front of him, Hermione opened her eyes once more, and he felt his heartbeat pick up speed.
“Draco?” she asked in a whisper, “is… is it all over?”
Yes, he wanted to say, carefully shielding his mind from her awareness. With all my heart, yes. It was such an innocent and simple question, but Draco couldn’t bring himself to answer it… at least not until he was completely certain of his reply. He knew that he still had to figure out what to do about the clan; Lyulf was right, he couldn’t just leave them unled. Chaos and anarchy on a higher level than ever before would take over, and he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because of it all. I might as well turn a rhino loose on a ruddy playground, he thought aggravatedly. He wasn’t ready to become some “all-powerful leader,” and he didn’t know if he ever would be. Draco unknowingly furrowed his brow as turmoil flowed through his mind. I don’t have much of a choice about it anymore…
Hermione knew that something was going through his head, and that he didn’t want her to know what it was. Strangely, it didn’t bother her as much as it maybe should’ve. She continued to gaze at him and sighed, deciding to chalk her feelings of unconcern up to the fact that she was happy they were together and not fighting for their lives. She brought a hand up to his face and succeeded in bringing him back to the present.
“Hey,” she said, “I’m going to take a shower.”
Draco’s eyebrows flew up. “A shower?” he asked, as though that were the most bizarre thing in the world to do.
“Yep,” she nodded simply, “this is my apartment, isn’t it? I finally recognize it.” Hermione laughed lightly at the look on his handsome face. “We’ve just been through hell, Draco and frankly, I’d like to wash it off.”
“I… hm, well yes,” he stuttered, his eyebrows still raised quizzically, “that sounds good… of course. So, you know where everything is?” He frowned at the cute expression she made in response. “Right,” Draco said, clearing his throat obviously, “your apartment.”
“Yes,” Hermione agreed softly with a smile. She got off the bed and approached the door, turning back to look at him. He looked somewhat out of place and almost lonely on her large, fluffy bed. Widening her smile, she said, “I’ll be right back… love you, Draco.”
If his heart had literally been on his sleeve, she’d have seen it melt. His expression of unease fell from his face as he smiled back at her. “Love you, Mi.”
Hermione had forgotten how small and simple her flat was since living with Draco in his vastly opulent manor. As she entered her ever so minimalistic bathroom and turned on the shower, she sighed. His house is totally destroyed, she knew. We’ll have to do some serious wand-waving to get it back to normal. Hermione assumed that the state of his home was the reason behind Draco’s bringing them to her tiny place. In the back of her mind she felt like there may be more to it than that, but she couldn’t pinpoint anything in particular. I still feel so out of it, she thought while raking her fingers back through her curls. After ensuring that the water was steaming hot, she stepped under it’s roaring cascade.
Hermione exhaled slowly, feeling her head clear and her strained muscles instantly begin to relax. She closed her eyes and pushed her brain, trying to drag forward any memories of what had happened. Agilolf… she thought. He did… what? We were in the foyer; there were so many of them against us. I fought Lovella, yes… that’s right… and Agilolf came after me… he grabbed me-
Hermione’s eyes flew open and were consequently hit by a spray of water. She grabbed for her towel, all the while coughing in surprise. Draco? Her mind reached him, perfectly communicating her total surprise.
Who else? He asked. She could actually feel his smirk as though it’d been transferred through his brain waves.
Funny, she thought to him after restoring her vision and reaching for the shampoo. It occurred to her that he’d struck up a conversation with her while she was in the shower. Blushing automatically, Hermione gathered up her mental toughness and, as calmly as she could, asked: what is it?
How are you?
Her eyebrows lifted. How am I? She replied, marveling at his gall. Draco! I’m in the blasted shower! Was that all you had to say?
What, I can’t see how you’re doing?
He sounded so sincerely curious that she burst out laughing. Err… can’t that wait?
No, Draco replied instantly. I’m done waiting. I’m done letting anything keep me from reaching you… in any way.
Her blush deepened at his words and their serious double entendre. Well, if you’ll just let me finish I’ll be out in a moment or two.
In her bedroom, Draco laughed. He could picture her frowning in exasperation at him. You know, I’d like to shower too, he replied casually.
Even though he’d put no inflection in his ‘voice’ whatsoever, Hermione knew that there was more meaning to his words than what he’d let on. Sure, she replied lightheartedly. Like I said, I’ll be right out.
Either you’ll be right out, or I’ll come right in; take your pick. He grinned as he sensed her sudden bewilderment and flustered shyness. Just a moment later, however, the roguish smile fell from his lips as she strolled through the door wrapped up like a mummy in a bathrobe. It covered her body from neck to ankle, to his dismay.
“That’s got to be the fastest shower in history,” Draco stated, the beginnings of a glower hovering around his expression.
“Draco,” Hermione put her hands on her hips and smirked, “you’re not… pouting, are you?”
“And what if I am?” he asked, leaning forward on the bed toward her. She walked further into the room and stood beside him, her smirk increasing.
“If you are, then I’ll-”
Draco didn’t find out what exactly Hermione would do, as he chose that moment to grab her by the waist and swing her down onto the bed beside him. She screeched in surprise and he laughed, holding her close so she couldn’t get away. The cool apple scent from her slightly damp hair flooded into him and he sighed, feeling his head reel with longing. He rubbed his nose into the pale yellow fluffiness of her robe’s collar, enjoying the fabric while simultaneously wishing it weren’t between himself and her skin.
“I’ve missed you,” he murmured, laying his cheek against her shoulder as they remained sprawled across the bed. Her arms were wrapped around him and she squeezed briefly, intent on holding him tight.
“I’ve missed you, too,” she closed her eyes and ran her fingers through his pale hair. She wanted to lay like that forever with him, ignoring everything else in the world. Her brain buzzed around the edges, reminding her that that wasn’t possible, and she sighed. “Draco,” she began, “I know you’re trying not to talk to me about what happened.”
His body stilled in her arms. Damn, he thought. I suppose it was stupid of me to even think I could keep anything from her. As much as he loved ‘harassing’ her mentally while she’d been in the shower, his main reason had been to occupy her mind and prevent her memories from returning; he’d felt them stir to the surface. His methods had worked for the time being, but she was just too clever. Either he would have to explain it to her, or she’d just remember it herself in a potentially disturbing way.
“I’m always kicking myself for underestimating your brain, did you know that?” Draco asked, rubbing a hand across his face almost wearily. He lifted his head just a bit to look at her, taking the opportunity to inch his face closer to hers. She smiled at him and raised her eyebrows expectantly. Draco knew that she was expecting his answers to her questions, not for him to snog her breath away. That’s just how Hermione’s mind worked.
“All right,” Draco said, as though it pained him greatly, “so… what’s the last thing you remember?”
“Agilolf grabbed me,” she stated matter-of-factly, “at your place.”
“What about anything after that?”
“Nothing… yet, anyway.”
That’s the part I’m worried about, he thought to himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t think she could handle her own memories, Draco just hated knowing that she had such viscious images in her head. He wished beyond all reason that they’d stay forgotten forever, so she’d never have to relive them. It couldn’t last, though, not even for a moment; he’d never really thought that it could. Maybe if I just run through it as fast as possible…
“Agilolf disapparated with you-”
“What!?” Hermione sat up in shock, nearly bowling him over.
So much for getting through it fast, he thought with a wry sense of defeat.
“Where did he take me?”
“To a meeting house of his, on the coast of the Bering Sea.”
“The Bering Sea?!”
“Mi, please don’t repeat everything in a scream,” Draco hung his head as he fought off a gathering feeling of vexation. Just remembering what had happened to her made him want to kill Agilolf all over again. Hermione could tell that relaying the past events was bothering him very much. She put her hand on his arm gently, and he turned to look at her.
“Ok,” she said quietly, “this isn’t easy for either of us. I promise to try not to interrupt again.”
He smirked at her. “You’ll try?” he asked.
“That’s asking a lot, you know,” she affected a mock-pompous air.
“I suppose it is,” Draco agreed, smiling at her disarmingly. “All right, I’m only going to say this once; I don’t ever want to go over it again, okay?” She nodded her head firmly and held his gaze, mentally prepared for the worst. “I’ll… I’ll just spit it out, then…” Draco cleared his throat and looked away, before feeling her squeeze his hand in encouragement. It was exactly what he’d needed.
“Agilolf kidnapped you to separate us,” he began. “I don’t know what happened while you were gone, but I obviously had no intention of leaving it at that. Lyulf came up with the idea of questioning Faolan to find out where he’d taken you,” Draco saw Hermione raise her eyebrows in surprise, but she remained silent. “So,” he continued, “I tracked the wench down. She was of no help, though,” Draco chuckled at the memory. “Anyway, you were actually the one who figured that part out.”
“What do you mean?” Hermione blurted before clapping a hand over her mouth. Draco couldn’t help but laugh at her cute, apologetic expression.
“Oh, you know… just another one of those ‘soul mate’ things,” he replied mysteriously. “You actually pulled me to you; it wasn’t like disapparating… it was like my cells literally deconstructed and put themselves back together… where you needed me to be. Agilolf… he… he was hurting you…” Draco grit his teeth and fought the surge of anger back. Hermione put her hand upon his cheek, bringing his attention back to the present.
“It’s okay,” she whispered, “I’m right here; he’s not going to hurt me again.” As Draco spoke, she tried fervently to put together mental images of his words. I was hurt? How…?
“No, he’s not,” Draco repeated. He stared off into a middle distance with subtly silver eyes. “He’s not going to be hurting anyone ever again.”
He didn’t say any more. Hermione waited for several moments, assuming that he’d finish, or look at her… or something. Draco just sat there, however, perfectly content to bore a hole through the wall with his fiery stare. “Draco…?” she murmured, “what happened next?”
“Lyulf appeared,” he said, as though he didn’t realize he’d paused for so long. “with Faolan, and a veritable load of other werewolves. You were unconscious. You fainted after calling me to you; it must’ve required a ton of strength. I’m willing to bet that’s why you don’t remember anything. As for Agilolf,” Draco paused again, focusing on a stray thread attached to his destroyed shirt. It seemed funny for him to pick out a single string, when his whole shirt was in tatters. Hermione cleared her throat calmly and he brought his face back up to hers. His gaze pierced her through to her soul, and she gulped.
“I killed him,” Draco stated calmly. “I ended his life, right there in front of his own bloody clan. I’m their leader, now.”
“Ohh, Merlin,” she breathed. “Draco… I-”
“After that, I disapparated with you to Femme, where I found out your address,” he cut her off, going back the particularly pesky thread. “I brought you here and lay you on the bed, only to pass out, myself, it seems.”
“Yes, you… you were all cut up… I know why, now…” Hermione blinked rapidly as she tried to keep up with the rush of information. “I healed your wounds, but you’d already lost so much blood. Why didn’t you close them yourself?”
“Like I had time for that!” he snorted.
“But you’d already taken me away, I was safe enough. I’m not always the most important thing in the world-”
“Yes, you are,” Draco replied instantly. “You are; to me.”
She swallowed thickly, trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall down her cheeks. “How do you think I feel, then? You were lying on my floor bleeding to death, while I was off in a dream-clouded coma!”
“And how were those dreams of yours?” he asked enigmatically.
“They were-” she stopped short, studying his meaningful expression, “they were of you. It was you; you came into my dream and woke me up-”
“Technically, you had to wake yourself up. There wasn’t that much I could do about it-”
“But I did, because of you.”
“Yes…” Hermione ran out of words. She simply stared at him; this man in front of her who’d died to save her, yet had miraculously come back to life. Her fingers traced the outline of his face and she inhaled, feeling like she hadn’t had oxygen in a very long time.
Draco was mesmerized by her. Her expression, her tenderness… her very life. “How did you do it?” he whispered against her hand. “How did you bring me back?”
“I don’t know,” she replied honestly. “Somehow, I killed a plant.”
“And shattered a mirror,” he noted, smiling impishly.
“It was some kind of magic; I could feel it, boiling inside of me. It felt like something was gathering in my chest, so much that it hurt,” she closed her eyes at the unique memory. “Something inside me was pulling at everything in this room there was to pull at. I was so angry; I couldn’t believe you were dead… I wouldn’t accept it.”
“Are you telling me that you brought me back to life by sheer will-power alone?” Draco stared at her, incredulous.
“No,” Hermione replied thoughtfully, “I think... I think I actually drained everything around here of energy and literally shoved it all into you. You were only dying from loss of blood… I just had nothing else to replace it with.”
He couldn’t believe it. She seemed fairly certain of what she’d done, almost as though it weren’t something hugely remarkable… like she saved people that way every day. She was so amazingly logical.
“I was ‘only dying from loss of blood’?” he repeated in awe. “So what, if all my bones were broken, do you think the same thing would’ve worked?”
“Oh, don’t be silly!” she pushed him on the chest playfully. “If your bones had been broken, I’d have figured something out.”
Draco couldn’t stop staring at her in wonder. She’d have figured something out… her words cycled in his brain. Of course she would’ve, he knew. She’s Hermione… my Hermione. My one and only. My wife. My soul mate.
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