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Chapter 23 : Chapter Twenty-Two
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Four days later…
Blaise sat bolt upright and gasped loudly, taking in a deep gulp of air. Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden movement and noise. She looked around briefly to get her bearings and when she saw Blaise sitting up, she gasped. “Blaise!” she said, getting up and moving to him as fast as she could, books falling to the floor in the process.
Blaise didn’t respond. He was sitting as stiff as a board and breathing raggedly, his eyes unfocused. “Blaise, talk to me!” Hermione said, grabbing his arm and squeezing it tightly.
When she squeezed his arm, Hermione felt a jolt of energy go through her. She looked at Blaise curiously for a moment and then found her vision going blurry. When it cleared, there was a dark room around her. What the…?
There was a whimpering sound to her left. She turned her head and saw a young girl with dark red hair huddled in the corner. The girl looked like she had been through the wringer and back. Bruises covered her fair skin and she looked like she had been unconscious.
Hermione walked over to the girl and knelt down beside her. She knew that the girl wouldn’t be able to hear or see her, but she leaned close to her anyway. “Don’t worry,” she said, “everything’s going to be all right.”
The girl jumped slightly and looked around. “Wha… Who’s there?” she whimpered.
Hermione blinked as she stared at the girl. “You… You can hear me?” she asked.
“Yes,” she replied, “Who, who are you?”
Something in Hermione’s heart was telling her that she shouldn’t give the girl her real name; not because she felt the girl wasn’t trust worthy, but because she felt the girl would be in even more danger if she knew her real name. “My name is Jean,” she said softly, “What’s yours?”
“Do you know where you are, Lillian?”
“N… not really,” she replied, “It’s some place old.”
Hermione smiled. “That’s good, it narrows things down a bit,” she said softly, “Is there anything else you can tell me about where you are?”
Lillian bit her bottom lip in thought before saying, “I hear a lot of voices above me sometimes. I can’t tell what they’re saying, but they sound angry.”
Hermione could feel her vision starting to blur again just then so she quickly said, “Listen, Lillian, I have to go but I promise that everything’s going to be all right, okay?”
Lillian’s eyes widened in fear. “Please don’t leave me,” she begged, “I’m scared.”
“I’ll come back, I promise,” Hermione told her.
Lillian became more and more blurred as Hermione felt herself going back to the hospital wing of Hogwarts where she was still holding onto Blaise’s arm. When her vision became clear again, Blaise was looking at her with wide blue eyes that were filled with fright. “Whoa,” he breathed hoarsely.
Hermione furrowed her brow at him as she let go of him and sat back slightly. “Did… did you see all of that?”
Blaise nodded. “I’ve been seeing it for the past… how long was I out?” he asked quietly.
“What exactly happened?”
Hermione shook her head. “I’m not sure exactly,” she told him as she leaned forward again, “We were at the Three Broom Sticks and you went ridged… and then you fainted. You’ve been out since then.”
“Hermione, we’ve got to talk to Dumbledore,” he said with urgency, “None of what I saw has happened yet, but it will; I feel it.”
She could sense Blaise’s anxiety and gave him a calming smile. “We’ll talk to him later, Blaise,” she assured him, “Right now; you need to concentrate on getting well.”
“But I feel fine,” Blaise argued.
“Regardless of that, you’ve been unconscious for five days; you need to rest.”
“Damn it, Hermione, you saw that girl,” Blaise said quickly, “We can’t let that happen!”
“Okay, okay, Blaise, calm down,” Hermione said as she smoothed his hair back and pushed him gently back down to his pillow, “I’ll go and see if I can find him; you rest.”
“What’s all this… Oh my; Mr. Zabini, you’re awake!”
Blaise and Hermione looked up at Madame Pomfrey as she walked through the curtain that surrounded Blaise’s bed. Madame Pomfrey immediately began bustling around, administering potions to Blaise so that she could be certain that he would stay conscious and well. “Miss Zabini, the Headmaster is out at the moment; Would you please send an owl letting him know that your brother is awake?” she asked, “I’m sure he’ll want to speak with him.”
Hermione stood up and kissed Blaise on the forehead briefly before sweeping from the room. As she made her way through the castle to send an owl as Madame Pomfrey had asked, Hermione bumped into Draco. She grinned widely and hugged him tightly as they reached each other. “Well, that’s a nice ‘hello’,” Draco said with a chuckle, “I was just on my way to visit Blaise; would you like to join me?”
“Oh, I’ve just come from the hospital wing;” Hermione told him cheerily, “Blaise woke up about ten minutes ago.”
Draco’s eyes widened as he allowed a smile to spread across his face. “That’s great! Were you coming to tell me, or…?”
“I’m actually headed to send an owl off to Professor Dumbledore for Madame Pomfrey.”
“Oh, okay, would you like me to join you?”
Hermione bit her lip in thought and finally shook her head. “I’d rather you sat with Blaise,” she told him, “He was having a vision which is why he passed out; he’s really upset by it.”
Concern immediately washed over Draco’s face at those words. “All right, I’ll see you when you get back there, okay?”
Hermione nodded and kissed his cheek lightly before heading off again. Draco watched for a moment as Hermione disappeared around the corner and sighed softly. He then turned and made his way to the hospital wing. When he walked into the hospital wing, he noticed that the curtain around Blaise’s bed was completely open and he was sitting up, propped against his pillow.
Blaise looked over when he caught sight of Draco in his peripheral vision and smiled. “Draco, come to visit?”
“Well, you didn’t think I’d be kept away when my best mate is in the hospital did you?” Draco questioned, “Your parents were here the other day; they’re real worried about you.”
“Yeah, Madame Pomfrey said that they wanted me moved to St. Mungos but Dumbledore wouldn’t allow it.”
Draco chuckled as he sat down. “Yeah, they weren’t too happy about that, but they trust Dumbledore so they left you here under the excellent care of Madame Pomfrey,” he said, “They’ve come to visit every day since Dumbledore told them what had happened.”
“I think they want me to get cavities because they’ve left me a mountain of sweets,” Blaise said, pointing to a fairly large pile of candies and chocolates sitting on the table at the end of his bed.
“Well, I’ll be happy to help you eat it all,” Draco told him.
Blaise grinned. “I bet.”
Draco cleared his throat and leaned forward. “Blaise, I ran into Hermione on my way here; she said that you’d had a vision and that’s why you… um… fainted.”
“Did she tell you what she saw?”
“No, she just said you’d had a vision and that Madame Pomfrey had asked her to send an owl to Dumbledore,” Draco replied, “What happened?”
Blaise furrowed his brow and pursed his lips in thought. “Well, I remember we were sitting in the Three Broom Sticks chatting, and then suddenly, my mind went blank,” he said, remembering, “Everything was dark and I could hear voices over my head, like they were coming through the ceiling.”
Draco listened intently as Blaise continued his account of what had happened. He was astounded that Blaise had such an ability as to see the future. He’d known Blaise practically his entire life and not once had he ever shown that he had such an ability.
“And then I heard Hermione’s voice in the darkness, but I couldn’t see her,” Blaise was now saying, “I tried talking to her but I couldn’t; I was trapped inside the girl’s body… Lillian.”
“So, let me get this straight; when you have a vision, you become the person whose future you’re seeing?”
“I’m not really sure,” Blaise confessed, “When I first started having these visions, I just thought they were dreams; but then I realized that they seemed too real to be dreams.”
“I have theory about that.”
Draco and Blaise each whipped their head around to face Albus Dumbledore. He had just walked into the room and was being followed by Hermione. “Before I divulge my theory, however,” he said, focusing his gaze on Blaise, “How are you feeling?”
“I feel fine, sir,” he replied.
Dumbledore scrutinized him carefully before brandishing his wand and drawing the curtains around the bed. He then drew two extra chairs; one for Hermione and one for himself. He gestured for Hermione to sit before sitting himself and pressed his finger tips together in thought. “Blaise, would you mind telling me everything that happened from the time you went into your coma to the time you woke from it?”
Blaise quickly launched into the details of what he had seen and heard while he’d been in a coma. When he came to the part where he’d heard Hermione’s voice, Dumbledore stopped him. “Hermione, can you tell me what you saw?” he asked.
“I honestly didn’t really see much,” Hermione began, “As Blaise said; it was very dark, but there was enough light in the room for me to see once my eyes adjusted a bit.”
Blaise furrowed his brow. “That’s funny; I couldn’t see a thing.”
Dumbledore silenced him with a glance and turned his attention back to Hermione. “What did you see when your eyes became adjusted?” he prompted.
“Well, I heard first; a whimper,” Hermione said, “It came from the far corner of the room and when I turned to see what it was, I saw a girl. She was very frightened and it looked like she had been tortured.”
“She was tortured,” Blaise interjected, “I felt every second of it.”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said, “You mentioned that her abductors wanted information about a friend of hers?”
“Yes, sir; someone named Aeryn.”
Dumbledore tilted his head forward and looked at Hermione over the top of his spectacles. “Hermione, please continue.”
Hermione cleared her throat. “I walked over and knelt down next to her. I didn’t think that she would be able to hear me, but when I told her that everything was going to be okay, she looked around and asked who was there.”
“Was she able to tell you anything about where she was being held?”
“Only that it was some place old,” Hermione replied.
Dumbledore furrowed his brow curiously. “How is it that you came to be in Blaise’s vision?”
“I… I don’t really know, sir. I was sitting where Draco is now when Blaise suddenly sat up gasping for air. I thought he’d completely woken but he was ridged and he was unfocused so I got up and went to him. I touched his arm and then my vision blurred like it does when I’m having a vision.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Hmm, it is as I suspected.”
“Sir?” Blaise said.
“Hermione, would you mind telling me more about the visions you have?”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean, sir.”
“Do your visions feel as though they are going to happen, or that they are happening when you see them?” Dumbledore clarified.
“I can’t be certain, but it feels as if they’re happening at the time I’m seeing them.”
Draco cleared his throat. “I can confirm that, sir,” he said softly.
Dumbledore stared at him silently for a moment. Draco understood his look to mean that he wanted an explanation. “You see, I sent an owl to my mum after Hermione told me that she had seen my father talking to my Aunt Bellatrix,” he explained, “I asked if Bellatrix had been by to visit and my mum said that she had; the exact night that Hermione saw my father talking to her.”
Hermione looked puzzled. “But, if what I saw when I touched Blaise hasn’t happened yet, then how…?”
“It is my theory that when you came into direct, physical contact with Blaise while he was having a vision, you saw what he was seeing at the time,” Dumbledore interrupted, “I think the same would happen to Blaise if he were to come into contact with you while you were having a vision.”
“But, sir, how do we know that what Blaise saw isn’t happening right now?” Draco questioned.
Dumbledore turned his gaze to Blaise. “Was this the first time you had seen this girl, Blaise?”
Blaise shook his head. “I’ve never actually seen her,” he stated, “I become her.”
“And when did you first become this young woman?”
“Over the summer holiday; not long after our birthday,” he said, inclining his head toward Hermione.
“Can you describe this young woman, Hermione?”
Hermione closed her eyes for a moment and then opened them again once she had a clear picture of Lillian in her mind. “I couldn’t really tell what her face looked like, she was too bruised up, but she looked to be around our age; maybe a little younger, with dark red hair,” she recalled, “Sir, she was wearing a Hogwarts uniform.”
“We have no red-headed students by the name of Lillian at this school at present,” Dumbledore assured her, “Which leads me to believe that there is no significant need to worry about her just now.”
“Blaise, please do not take that statement to mean that we will not worry about Lillian at all; we will. I would like you to keep me informed of any and all visions you have involving this young lady.”
“Sir, you haven’t finished telling us your theory,” Hermione said.
“Oh yes,” Dumbledore said with a soft chuckle, “It is my belief that the two of you are connected by more than just your blood.”
“Sir, we’ve established that,” Draco said.
Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, we have; however we have not established the ways in which they are connected.”
“Their powers, sir.”
“That is quite right, Draco, but to what extent do those powers connect them?” Dumbledore questioned, “Is it merely the fact that they are twins that causes their powers to act as they do; or is it something deeper, more powerful?”
“We’ve searched through hundreds of books, sir but nothing has been helpful,” Draco said.
Dumbledore smiled. “Perhaps you have not been looking in the right book,” he said, “Might I suggest looking a little closer to home?”
With that, Dumbledore stood and parted the curtain, leaving the three of them behind in complete confusion.
The next day, Blaise was released from the hospital wing. Before he was released however, he had to take a series of potions. He groaned and whined the entire time because he hated being babied. Draco, of course, laughed at him a bit
Blaise glared at him causing Draco to laugh even harder. “You’re such a baby,” Draco said.
“Those potions are disgusting,” Blaise countered.
“I’m sure they are but there’s no need to whine about it.”
“I’d like to see how you’d fair if you had to drink those awful things.”
“Will you two stop your bickering?” Hermione said in exasperation, “I’m trying to read.”
Blaise and Draco turned to look at her with sheepish smiles. “Sorry,” they said in unison.
Hermione smirked as she looked back down at her book. “Honestly, you two are worse than a toddler that’s just gotten its favorite toy taken away.”
Draco walked over to her and peeked over her shoulder at the book she was reading. He raised an eyebrow as she looked up at him with pink cheeks. “Reading huh?”
“Your mum sent it for me to look at,” Hermione said in mild defiance as she shut the book.
Blaise picked the book up and looked at the cover. “Bridal Dresses Through the Ages; you’re really getting into this whole engagement thing, aren’t you?”
“Well, I certainly don’t see any harm in considering it,” Hermione answered, “but that doesn’t mean that…”
“Hermione, don’t try to lie; you’re rubbish at it,” Draco said with a smirk.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting something,” Hermione whispered.
Draco smiled softly and knelt down next to Hermione’s chair. “Are you saying that you want to marry me?”
Blaise cleared his throat and stood up. “I’m just going to leave you two alone for a bit,” he said, “I’m hungry anyway. I’ll see you down in the Great Hall.”
Hermione and Draco nodded at him and then turned their attention back to each other. “Do you?” Draco prodded.
“I do, but I feel like everything’s happening so fast,” she said, “I mean; just a few months ago I found out that I’ve been living a lie my whole life, that I have a brother, and that I’m betrothed? How is one person supposed to cope with all of that in such a short amount of time?”
Draco touched her cheek gently. “No one’s asking you to cope with all of that in a short amount of time, love,” he told her, “You can take all the time you need to come to terms with everything.”
Hermione bit her lip as she continued looking at Draco. “When my parents were here… while Blaise was in the hospital wing… my mother asked me why I still wasn’t wearing my engagement ring.”
“And what did you tell her?”
“Well, I told her that we were still getting to know each other and that we weren’t ready to be married so soon.”
Draco gave her a small smile. “Hermione, we’ve given our parents our terms and they’re respecting them, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t at least wear your ring.”
“Are, are you sure?” Hermione asked, “I mean; you want to marry me?”
“Hermione, you’re the most amazing creature I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and I think these past few months have gone quite well; don’t you?”
“Then why shouldn’t you wear this?” Draco questioned, pulling the engagement ring out of his pocket.
Hermione stared at it for several moments before finally saying, “I… I guess I don’t really see a reason for me not to.”
Draco took her left hand and kissed it softly. “Hermione, will you please do me the great honor of becoming my wife? Will you marry me?”
Hermione smiled as a tear slid down her cheek. “Yes… Yes I will.”
Draco slid the ring onto Hermione’s finger and smiled at her. “You’ve just made me the happiest man alive,” he told her.
“It’s a little big,” Hermione said.
As the words came out of her mouth, she felt the band of the ring tighten around her finger until it was a perfect fit. She stared down at her hand in shock. Draco chuckled. “You were saying?”
“H… how did that happen?”
“When I made it, I put a Fitting Charm on it so that when it was on your finger it would fit perfectly.”
Hermione looked at him in amazement. “That’s a tricky bit of magic, Draco.”
“Well, I’m not a dunce, you know,” he said with a laugh.
Hermione touched his cheek and kissed his lips gently. “I never said you were,” she whispered, “I only meant that I was impressed; I’ve never done the Fitting Charm and I never actually understood how it was supposed to be performed.”
Draco chuckled softly as he traced her bottom lip with his thumb. “You’re the top of our year and you didn’t understand a little spell like the Fitting Charm? I find that hard to believe.”
“All right, well, I understand it, but I’ve never tried it before,” Hermione admitted with a smirk.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Hermione slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “Well, we had better write to our parents to let them know what we’ve decided,” she said.
“Yeah, I’m sure my mother will be pleased as punch; father too.”
“And we’d better find Blaise to tell him; and Ginny, Luna, Harry, and Ron,” Hermione added thoughtfully.
Without another word, Hermione and Draco left the library, hand in hand.
“Ginny!” Hermione called when she saw her flame-haired friend sitting about halfway down the Gryffindor table.
Ginny smiled as Hermione hurried up to her and sat down. “You look like you’ve just found out you’ve gotten the highest grade on your Potions exam or something,” she said, “What’s up?”
“Draco and I have come to a decision about our betrothal,” Hermione said, beaming.
Hermione smiled even wider and held up her left hand for Ginny to see. “We’ve decided to go through with it.”
Ginny smiled brightly and hugged her. “That’s wonderful, Hermione,” she said, “Let me get a good look at this ring of yours.”
Ginny took Hermione’s hand and held it closer to her face so that she could properly inspect the ring on her finger. “Oh my, that’s got to be the most splendid ring I’ve ever seen in my life,” she breathed, “Where did Malfoy get it?”
“He made it.”
Ginny’s eyes widened in shock. “You’re kidding.”
“No, I’ve seen him make jewelry right in front of me; he’s remarkable at it.”
“Wow, who would’ve known?”
“What’s up with you two? You look like you’ve just take a dose of a giddy potion or something.”
Ginny looked up at Ron. “Hermione and Malfoy are going through with their betrothal,” she answered, “Look at this ring!”
Ron glanced at the ring and shrugged. “It’s nice I guess.”
“Ron, quit being such an arse,” Harry snapped as he came up and sat across from Ginny. He then looked at Hermione’s ring and said, “It’s beautiful, Hermione; congratulations.”
Hermione scrutinized him for a moment and found that he was being genuine. “Thank you, Harry.”
“So, have you decided on a date?”
Hermione shook her head. “No, we’ve only just decided to go through with the betrothal. We’ve been getting on pretty well over the past few months and neither of us could find a reason not to get married so… there it is.”
“Do you love him, Hermione?” Ron questioned.
Hermione thought that it was a fair question and thought on it for a few moments. “I wouldn’t say that I love him, no; but I do have feelings for him and I’m sure that I could love him, given a little more time.”
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