Chapter 3 : A Place To Stay
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Hermione looked down and realized that her chest was positively heaving as she stood in the girl’s dormitory. It was just the shock, she reminded herself. The shock of having that Death Eater’s hands on her face. But she couldn’t suppress the thoughts that had drifted through her mind at that moment.
What she was really concerned about was the fact that when she was looking up at him from the desk, and he was, Merlin, caressing her cheek, she was sitting there like an oaf, thinking vaguely of how gentle his cool hands were, and how that weirdly determined expression on his face was…
Ugh! she thought loudly in an effort to drown out the unwanted, twisted thoughts that had emerged for half a moment. To think that she, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter’s best friend and a Gryffindor, had for a moment thought that Draco Malfoy was… she couldn’t bear to think it.
Besides, shouldn’t she be upset about something? Yes, of course, the tiny issue of Dumbledore’s death. Her sarcastic thoughts silenced themselves at the solemn thought. She started out of the dormitory to the common room to find Harry and Ron. They were probably in the Great Hall or something, but she would try to find them. It was them she should be hanging around, not… Malfoy.
Shuddering, she walked down the stairs into the common room. It was completely empty. She hadn’t really expected otherwise, but was suddenly creepily aware of how alone she was. There was no one around, and she felt extremely vulnerable all alone in the Gryffindor common room. She gripped her wand tightly before making her way out of the Fat Lady’s porthole.
No one was in the corridor, either, but she could hear voices from – where, downstairs? Yes, everybody was probably in the Great Hall, making arrangements to close the school, she realized with a shock. Hogwarts, without Dumbledore, would probably have to close, though Professor McGonagall was more than qualified to run the school.
She made her way quickly to the Great Hall, so eager to get through the tall wooden doors that she didn’t even stop until she crashed into a body that was turned towards the doors.
“Shit,” he cursed under his breath when he turned around and saw her.
“What are you doing, now, Malfoy?” she hissed angrily. What, was he stalking her now? Or had she caught him in the process of attacking innocent students and teachers behind their backs?
“I- I- I was about to go in. Into the Great Hall,” he stuttered stupidly.
“But what for, Malfoy? You know you’re not welcome here.” She was still furious about his callous treatment of her.
Though, a tiny, unwanted voice said in her head, he wasn’t being callous, really. He was actually being sort of sensitive, wasn’t he?
No. It was obviously some sort of ploy. She was, if nothing else, clever enough to know that Draco Malfoy would not suddenly be offering solace to the kind of people he called “mudblood.”
“Actually,” Malfoy finally replied, with a trace of his old haughtiness in his voice, “I’m perfectly capable of handling myself, Granger. Besides,” he rolled his eyes, “It’s not you I came to talk to.”
Back to his old prideful self, he promptly turned and strode confidently towards the doors, flicking his wand so that they opened wide in front of him. Hermione rolled her eyes at his obnoxious behavior, but was still curious as to why he was even there, and what had gotten over him over the past few hours.
Eager to find her friends and discover what Malfoy was doing, Hermione hurried into the Great Hall in his wake. It didn’t take her long to find Harry and Ron sitting at their usual spot on the bench at the Gryffindor table, and she quickly joined them. Harry looked stricken, and Ron was paler than Malfoy. Hermione hugged them both before sitting in silence with them.
After a moment of staring off into space, lost in her thoughts, Hermione realized that Malfoy was talking to Professor McGonagall. Harry, who was even now too numbed by Dumbledore’s death to muster any feelings against Malfoy, barely looked up as Hermione left the bench to inch discreetly toward the professor and student, who were talking in voices that had already attracted unwanted attention.
“How dare you show your face here after what you’ve done?” McGonagall shrieked uncharacteristically. Her body trembled with barely suppressed anger.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he replied insolently but with a trace of pleading, “but I haven’t come to try to finish anyone off or anything. I just…” he trailed off a bit nervously.
“Yes?” asked McGonagall, now with her usual dignity. She seemed to have composed herself at the rather unthreatening sight of Malfoy fidgeting under her gaze.
“…I need a place to stay,” he finished quietly and reluctantly. McGonagall raised her eyebrows, surprised, but said nothing. “I know your Order or whatever hates me, but I didn’t even kill anyone, and that’s sort of the reason the Death Eater’s wouldn’t be too pleased to see me either.” By now his voice could barely be heard.
“Have you decided to fight for a new side, then, Malfoy?” inquired McGonagall suspiciously. Obviously she held the belief that he was trying to become a spy or something of the like, which Hermione mentally agreed with.
“Well, it seems I don’t have much choice,” he replied with a small sneer. “I don’t see the need to waste my time trying to kill Order members or Potter’s friends, and my father seems to have no more use for me…” he faltered a bit in saying this.
It seemed McGonagall could see the same scared little boy that Hermione had glimpsed hours earlier. Her features softened with what seemed to be pity, but the nod she gave was curt and businesslike.
“Very well.” McGonagall paused, coming to a decision. “We will, of course, have to keep a strict eye on you, possibly with Aurors to monitor your behavior, but I suppose you’ll have to stay with the others in the new headquarters, once we arrange a location.”
Lupin, who had been standing behind McGonagall, consoling Mrs. Weasley, whipped around at her words. McGonagall noticed this and cut in sharply before he could say anything.
“Yes, we’re protecting him. He has come to us, offering his services and asking for help, and we have no place to deny him. It’s what Albus would have wanted.” The conversation was over before it had begun.
“But,” Lupin insisted, “How do you know we can trust him? He could very likely be a spy, Minerva.”
“I am very well aware of this, thank you, Remus,” she responded. “But I know he is not a spy. He-who-must-not-be-named would not send a sixteen-year-old boy who had just failed to kill his target to spy amongst the most capable wizards and witches in the Order of the Phoenix, and risk the possibility of Draco sharing valuable information against both their wills. He has come of his own accord, of this I am sure. But,” she said, turning to Malfoy once more, “Do not think that you will not be watched. Remember that you are surrounded by wizards and witches with a considerable amount of magical ability that can easily be used to detain you.”
Malfoy nodded his thanks before turning on his heel to leave. As he strode away, he paused, unsure of where to go. He turned back awkwardly before sitting at the completely empty Slytherin table, looking down at his feet, lost in thought.
Hermione watched him for a moment before walking quietly back to the Gryffindor table where Harry and Ron still sat. She opened her mouth, about to tell them about this new development, before realizing that they were still stricken and numb from the loss of Professor Dumbledore.
With this realization came the melancholy, hopeless feeling that had been creeping over her for hours. With no more distractions, she allowed the feeling to take over her body and mind, like a dementor gliding toward her with its rattling breath, and slumped onto the bench. The same thought repeated itself in her mind like a chant.
Our greatest protection is gone.
Hello, lovely readers! Thanks for having come this far :)
Hopefully you like the story, and I hope I've been able to keep true to the characters.
If you've read this far, thanks, because I know not a whole lot is going on in the story yet (well, emotionally, yes, but not physically). But I can tell you now that it's about to get a lot juicier!
I'd love some reviews because I'd love to know what you guys think!
Oh, and this is my first fanfiction, so take that into consideration... :)
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