Chapter 1 : A Scared Little Boy
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He had watched Snape kill Dumbledore, who he had never really thought would die, just moments ago. As Snape fled the scene, Malfoy remembered the task that Voldemort had given him.
“After you kill Dumbledore, Draco,” he had drawled, “do not neglect to kill the Weasley boy and the mudblood Granger before you leave. They are the largest support for Potter, and he – so weak, so foolish – relies on and confides in them. Do not forget, Draco, that much depends on this.” He ran his long white fingers across his wand, caressing it carelessly, as his snakelike red eyes flicked up toward Malfoy, who flinched unwillingly at the insinuation.
Now Hermione Granger, disarmed, stood in an empty classroom facing Draco, who held her wand slackly in his left hand, and clutched at his tightly in his right. She could see that he was trying not to look scared, but she could see the fear, the hesitance in his eyes, and she was grateful for it. But she still trembled as he tried to force out a curse that wouldn’t come.
“Avad – av – ava –” he murmured, forehead furrowed with the strenuous effort.
Her eyes widened as his voice gained a little strength. Though she didn’t think Malfoy was much of a killer, the fact was that she was disarmed, he had his wand pointed at her, and she knew he had orders from Voldemort to kill her. She couldn’t even hear the distant voices and shouts from outside anymore. She couldn’t tell if they had traveled away or if the sound of her heart beating desperately simply blocked out the other noise.
Desperately, she racked her brains for a way to save her life. She tried recalled all that her teachers had said about wandless magic, and every Defense against the Dark Arts class that she had been in, but all she could remember was Dumbledore’s persistent faith in love. What was it that he had said? Something about how Harry’s mother had protected him from Voldemort with her love. Under the pressure, she couldn’t remember the exact wording, but she decided to try this, though she felt she was grasping at straws.
“There,” she gulped, “there are other options, Mal- Draco. You don’t need to follow in your father’s footsteps, or follow Vol- Voldemort. You can be protected by people who will care about you, not just use you as an unwilling pawn in their schemes.” She sounded uncertain but she saw his wand hand slip down an inch or two. Gaining strength from this, she took a tiny step. Malfoy’s eyes widened but he did not step away.
Not knowing what she was doing, Hermione kept moving toward him. She looked at his eyes, which were shiny and seemed to be full of unshed tears and unvoiced fears. She suddenly realized how close she stood to him, and stopped. Her face was less than a foot from his, and since he was slightly taller, he looked down at her. He looked petrified, surprised by her actions and not knowing at all what to do.
Trying to focus on the thought of how his mother’s love saved Harry from the killing curse, she reached a trembling hand forward, and hesitantly touched Malfoy’s shaking wand hand. It had been clutching his wand tightly, but as her hand nervously closed over his, his grip slackened and his wand clattered to the floor. In his shock he did nothing to pick it up, but instead stood there, looking in shock at Hermione’s hand around his.
Unsure of what to make of this occurrence, she fought back the part of her that wanted to dive to the floor to grab his wand, and instead looked back up at Malfoy.
“You don’t have to be like him, Draco,” she whispered.
There was a moment of silence and then she saw the tears that he had held back for so long spill out of his eyes. As the tears streaked lines down his pale cheeks, his face lost all its attempted stoniness, and looked at her, full of fear.
For the first time, Hermione saw Malfoy for what he was. She had always hated him and his racist, arrogant, superior ways, but now she saw that he was no more than a scared little boy, unable to show his fear to anyone, and covering it up with obnoxiousness and an air of superiority. She was filled with pity for him, the little boy
she now looked at, scared, helpless, and alone.
She wanted to help him. She wanted to comfort this little boy, and tell him that he wasn’t alone in the world, that he had nothing to be scared of. She took a step forward, closing the gap between them, and wrapped her arms around him. He stood unmoving, like a statue, and made no gesture to return the hug, but she could feel him release some tenseness in her arms.
As she stood with her arms around him, she felt him shudder and make a noise like a soft whimper, and she knew he was letting go of some of the sadness, loneliness, and fear that he had held onto his whole life. She was about to back away, to let go, but as she moved to release him from her embrace, he wrapped his arms around her waist, holding tightly, like a child holds onto their teddy bear when they’re scared, and she knew he needed her now.
She didn’t know how long this would last, or if he would go back to being the boy she hated, but for now, he needed her. And she wasn’t about to leave a scared little boy crying to himself in the darkness.
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