Chapter 12 : Come Together
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November, Hogwarts, Scotland. 1997 A.D.
“Miss Granger, are you alright?”
Hermione’s eyes flickered upward quickly, finding Madam Pomfrey hovering over her with her brows furrowed in concern. She was vaguely aware that her chest was heaving under the hand that rested against it, and that her eyes were completely bugged.
She could not get the image out of her head. A flash of white blonde hair…
The second time her name was called did the trick, and Hermione closed her eyes, shaking her head as she brought herself back to the present. “Yes, ‘m fine,” she told her, which wasn’t a total lie, “D’you know where I can find Colin?”
Madam Pomfrey eyed her for a moment before beginning to walk away.
“Mr. Creevey is resting over there,” she gestured straight ahead, to one of the beds that had its white curtain drawn about it, before going to tend to another student.
Hermione inhaled deeply as she approached her friends, whose backs were to her, trying to calm her nerves enough so that they wouldn’t interrogate her. She would tell them about everything sooner or later. Neville leaned over to tell Ginny something, his eye flickering in Hermione’s direction as he did so, being the first to notice that she’d finally decided to join them.
He twisted his body round in his chair to look at her directly. “Nice to see you’ve finally decided to grace us with your company,” said Neville.
Exhaling, Hermione rolled her eyes as she walked round the bed to the other side. Ginny leaned over Colin and put a hand on his gently. He began to stir, lifting his eyelids slowly, as if they were made of lead.
Colin blinked a few times, pushing himself up straighter, and wincing slightly before slumping against the pillows again. She looked down at the same time he did, noticing the bandages on his hands had been changed. He was still rather pale, with prominent circles under his eyes, but he looked a lot less ethereal than he had earlier.
“What happened to you?” Hermione asked softly, unable to tear her eyes away from his hands.
He was quiet a long moment.
Colin licked his lips, swallowing hard as he stared at his lap. Ginny took a step back, perching herself on the arm of Neville’s chair as Colin looked over at them. Neville nodded.
“Go ahead, tell her,” he encouraged.
“Well,” began Colin hesitantly, “I – I… remember what I told you about that person… w-who paid me off t-to follow you round and t-take photos?” Hermione exhaled, nodding. He fumbled with the white linen sheet that covered him. “Well…” he repeated, “I don’t remember exactly what happened, but one minute, I’m in the library doing an essay for Snape, a-and the next I’m… I’m lying on the floor in your dormitory with bad cuts on my hands.”
He raised them up a few inches from the bed on either side of his legs to emphasize his point. As if on cue, Hermione’s eyes widened and she looked across the bed to her friends. They were looking right back.
She had a feeling that they were all thinking the same thing.
“You don’t have any idea how you got there, though?” asked Ginny then, her gaze focused on him intently, her eyebrows pulled together.
He shook his head, “Not in the slightest.”
“Or what you were doing?”
“No. I told you,” he said, almost impatiently, “I was in the library, and then I just woke up in there.”
It was Hermione’s turn to shake her head now, rubbing her temples. “But I didn’t see you when I went into my bedroom. As far as I could tell, it was completely empty, except for… well, you know.”
He stared at her blankly.
“Or not,” Neville decided.
Ginny leaned forward. “So what happened after you woke up?”
“Merlin, I did the only thing I could think of – I hauled tail out of there! I knew that someone would be bound t-to find me, and blame me for what had become of the room. Plus, I was covered in blood, too, which didn’t do much for my image of innocence.”
“‘Image of innocence’?” Neville repeated, raising an eyebrow skeptically. Colin turned his attention to him, shrugging.
“Well, I wasn’t guilty.”
Neville’s brows furrowed and he pointed to him in thought. “I thought you said that when you woke up again, you couldn’t remember anything that had happened to you? How can you know if you did it or not, if you can’t remember what happened?”
“Better yet, how do we know if he’s even telling us the truth?”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Hermione then, who was looking rather suspicious of the fifth year on the bed before her. Colin frowned.
“He’s right, Hermione,” Ginny pointed out. “We’ve known Colin for years, so what makes you suddenly think that he would lie to us now? He’s our friend.”
Hermione folded her arms. “Well, he could’ve been put up to lying, didn’t you ever think of that?”
“He’s a good kid!” Ginny reasoned.
“Well, we were all good kids, once! He could be protecting someone!”
Ginny rolled her eyes and barked out a laugh of disbelief. “You’re just being paranoid again! This is just another of your schemes to make the ends justify the means. You can’t just point fingers when and wherever you want, Hermione!”
“But he was there, Ginny! He said it himself!” Hermione reminded her. “Isn’t that even the least bit dodgy to you –?”
“Just stop with all the accusations!” Ginny was on her feet now. She ran her hands through her hair, half-turning away from them. Colin’s eyes, which had been flickering back and forth between the two bickering girls, rested on Ginny now. Then Ginny clenched her teeth. Her cheeks were red. “OK, you know what? I need to get some air.”
Neville stood up then, reaching out to stop her but she was already out of his reach. “Ginny – wait.”
But she was already far on the other side of the hospital wing, and then slipping out of the towering doors into the corridor. With a disgruntled huff, Hermione dropped down into the chair on the opposite side of Colin’s bed. No one spoke for a long moment.
There, there, Hermione, said Chione in mock sympathy, Ginny’s just angry because she knows you’re right.
Hermione shut her eyes tight, trying to ignore the smirk in her voice as it rang out in her ears and bounced round in her mind. She was wrong. Maybe… Ginny had been right. Maybe she was going a bit overboard – maybe she was paranoid. But she still had to know…
She let her eyes fall on Colin again.
He was fidgeting even more now, his gaze focused intently on a loose thread in his sheet. Colin would twist it round and round his forefinger till it turned purple then undid it and repeated the process. His eyes had an undertone of worry in them, dread. His pallid complexion was chalkier, and sweat had accumulated on his brow.
What was he so afraid of?
Go on, ask. Chione prompted fiercely. We both know you want to.
Hermione considered it for a brief moment, but she already knew what her decision would be. She couldn’t just ask, because he wouldn’t just tell her.
Chione groaned. Oh, must I do everything myself? Before Hermione could figure out what she’d meant by that, her mouth opened and she heard herself say, “What’s got you so troubled, Colin? If you’re so innocent, you shouldn’t have a thing to worry about.”
Well, it had been her voice, but it hadn’t been her, exactly.
She heard Chione chuckle in the back of her mind, and her eyes narrowed in a mixture of disbelief and irritation. How the hell did you manage to do that? Hermione thought demandingly. Chione laughed again.
I suppose that’s for me to know, she replied, and you to find out. And perhaps you might, if you play your cards right.
What the hell was that supposed to mean?
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
Hermione blinked, her gaze refocusing on Colin in front of her. He wasn’t looking at her, but she had a good feeling that he had been speaking to her, as Neville had suddenly disappeared. She frowned.
“I said,” Colin looked over then, speaking quietly, “that even if did I tell you the truth, you wouldn’t believe a word of it.”
Hermione scooted to the edge of her seat, looking him firmly in the eyes, before saying evenly, “Try me.”
Colin stared back for second, pressing his lips together in thought as he searched her face. He knew he could trust her, but he’d promised not to say anything to anyone. What if He was watching them at that very moment? It was highly possible, and he surely wasn’t about to doubt it.
After the second had passed, he leaned toward her until his mouth was right beside her ear, as close as worldly possible without touching.
“Draco Malfoy is not who he claims to be.” Hermione’s eyes widened, and she began to straighten up, but Colin caught her hand suddenly, holding it between both of his as their eyes locked. He nodded once, before pulling away.
Hermione looked down at her palm.
In it was a small glass vial, with a bit of silvery, hair-like substance floating about inside. She closed her hand around it and looked back at Colin. “What –”
“Don’t ask questions, just go,” he instructed. “I’ll be fine.” Colin glanced down at her hand. “As for that, don’t let on to anyone that you have it – other than Ginny and Neville, of course – or where you got it.”
She immediately put it into the side pocket of her bag and nodded, before standing up and swiftly hurrying out of the hospital ward. Madam Pomfrey watched her rush past, but said nothing and Colin lay back against his pillows, shutting his eyes and trying not to think about the feeling that he was now getting that someone, somewhere was watching him. He shut his eyelids tighter, as a bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face and dripped onto his pillow.
He really hoped that he was wrong.
With nowhere else to go, Hermione went straight to the Head Tower, where she hoped that Draco would not be waiting for her. Upon crawling through the portrait hole and out into the common room, there was no sign of moment, except for the flickering of a feeble flame in the hearth. Hermione’s body relaxed a little as she let the strap of her bag slide off her shoulder and into her hand.
She headed for the stairs at a much more leisurely pace now, rubbing the back of her neck tiredly.
Hermione stopped in her tracks as the familiar voice sent a chill down her spine. Through parted lips, she exhaled slowly. “Draco,” she said in surprise without turning round, “I didn’t hear you come in.”
There’s a reason for that, darling, Chione pointed out. He’s clearly been here the whole time.
“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he admonished, running his hands from her shoulders, down the length of her arms, to her hands. “What’s got you so on edge?” Draco brushed her hair from her shoulder, exposing her neck before kissing her skin gently.
His touch set her skin alight.
Her eyes fluttered shut, and suddenly, she couldn’t even remember her own name. “I – I don’t… remember.”
“Hm,” replied Draco as she turned to face him. “I wonder why that is.” Hermione’s eyes set on his, and she noticed as his expression changed to playful guilt. She blinked and shook her head.
“Draco… we really shouldn’t –”
He pressed his finger to her lips and tucked her hair behind her ear in one swift movement, urging her to stop talking. She obliged subconsciously, before he leaned down and met her lips with his. Within seconds she was kissing him back urgently, not realizing until that moment how much she’d missed kissing him.
Draco’s fingers trailed up her thighs, before picking her up. She wrapped her legs round his waist as he carried her across the common room. It did not even occur to her that he could not see where he was going, because she trusted him. For what reason, she did not know.
Something inside of her told her that he wouldn’t hurt her.
And she believed that something.
His feet found the stairs a few moments (or minutes, she couldn’t really be sure) later, and Draco carried her upstairs. Their lips moved in sync, responding to eachother as smoothly as if they’d known eachother for years, not weeks.
And it felt so right.
But maybe that was just her lack of experience talking.
Eventually, her back found a mattress, and her hands began to swiftly work at the buttons of his shirt as he unzipped her skirt. Her heart was beating loudly in her chest, and her breath was coming in short bursts as she finally pushed the shirt from his shoulders. Her fingertips moved across his taut chest blindly, feeling out every curve and muscle like she was blind as she let him do the rest.
June, Hogwarts, Scotland. 1012 A.D.
I awake to the sound of thunder crashing outside. It is dark, with only the faint flickering of a fading flame piercing it. My skin is beaded with sweat, but I cannot remember what I had dreamed moments before. All I know is that something is wrong here.
Very, very wrong.
The sound of fabric rustling makes my eyes dart to the window. It’s been left open, and the curtains are whipping restlessly in the mix of wind and rain. With an exhale, I climb out of bed, and head over to close it. The floor is wet beneath my feet, so I step lightly, careful not to slip as I wrap my arms around myself. It’s been storming a lot lately, ever since Rowena’s passing.
I touch the time turner around my neck, thinking of her, and of Helena, who’d endured so much pain because of me. Now there are three founders, all very bitter and resentful of one another. Even Helga, who has always seemed so bright, is starting to lose faith in the things she loves. Godric and Salazar’s fighting has taken a toll on her, emotionally as well as physically. Every day she begins to look a bit older.
Once I shut the window, the room grows eerily silent. Suddenly, I wish I had taken Godric’s offer and slept in his dormitory tonight, but seeing that I’ve caused so much trouble already, and Salazar does not seem to think too highly of me, I’d decided that I had better not push it.
I turn back to my bed, but before I can take a step, I notice someone sitting there suddenly. It is a man, drenched in rain and sitting on the edge of my bed. The candle light on the bedside table next to him licks his face and accentuates his features as he slowly looks up at me. When I can see it properly I gasp and jump back.
My back hits the wall.
“Mark?” I hiss, my eyes narrowing.
“Yes, Chione it is really me.”
I shake my head.
“But… you’re supposed to be…”
“Dead?” He smirks, standing up gradually, spreading his arms wide as if to show his new self off. “I thought so, too.” Mark Antony eyes me up and down as he takes a step forward. I press myself to the wall behind me, cringing away. “If I recall correctly, you’re supposed to be dead as well, but you’re just as alive as I am. Why is that, Chione?”
He looks suspicious, but not without good reason.
I decide to change the subject.
“How did you find me, Mark?”
He chuckles, merely two or three feet away from me as he reaches out to touch my cheek. I turn my head away in disgust. “Oh, Chione. You should know that you can never hide from the past for long, because it always catches up with you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I say, sidestepping to avoid him touching me further.
“Spare me the little white lie that you’ve been preparing for the past five minutes, Chione,” Mark tells me, suddenly looming over me like a dark cloud. I look over my shoulder, trying to figure out how he had managed to move so quickly. He puts a finger under my chin, turning my head to face him once more. His smirk is more prominent now, and his eyes are dark behind the blonde hair hanging limply over them.
I try to conceal my fear. “Why are you here?”
His face falls, as though he’d been expecting a different response.
“Why do you think I’m here, Chione?” replies Mark. “I want you,” he put his hands into the pockets of his trousers and shrugs indifferently, “Dead, that is.” I gasp, stumbling away from him. “Oh, don’t look so surprised, love. We’ve all got to die sometime,”
“Who put you up to this?”
He smiles slightly. “You see… I would tell you, but I, you know, can’t.” His eyes flicker with electricity.
Lightning flashes outside.
I close my eyes, shaking my head.
“Y-You can’t kill me.”
Mark chuckles and the sound comes from behind me. I spin round, my eyes wide with horror as I find that he has, yet again, managed to move at the speed of light. My mouth is open slightly, but I can’t move.
He’s got a knife in one hand, and my arm in the other.
“Osiris begs to differ,” he replies pointedly, before slicing open my skin. Pain like none I’ve ever felt before surges through me, setting my skin afire. I scream as the scarlet blood runs down to my elbow, and he starts to smile, examining his weapon.
I look round at the same time Mark does, only his expression changes to rage. Godric comes running in, wearing nothing but his pajama bottoms and robe. He runs over to us, but before he can close in, Mark disappears again.
We both turn and stare at the spot where he had once stood as Godric cradles me to his chest and I clutch my wounded arm. “Couldn’t you have arrived a bit sooner?” I ask bitterly.
“Well, maybe we should come up with some sort of signal, then,” replies Godric with a laugh, though it seems distracted. He glances down and notices my arm. “Merlin, that looks bad. Are you alright?”
“I’ll be fine,” I assure him.
Godric tenses, clenching his teeth. “Who was that bloke?”
I lift my hand from the wound while he’s distracted, finding only a faint scar where the cut had been. I sigh, shaking my head.
“I don’t know,” I reply.
When Hermione woke up again, she gasped, her eyes snapping open, but the rest of her body was otherwise still. She was all too aware of the sleeping figure of Draco Malfoy lying just beyond her, in her bed, but that wasn’t the thing that scared her the most.
She exhaled sharply, tracing the faint scar on the inside of her forearm; a scar she’d been told that she had gotten from falling out of a tree when she was a little girl. But she’d always known that that story had been a bit dodgy. She didn’t have any other scars, as far as she could tell, and it was highly unlikely that she could have walked away from a fall from a tree with just one.
Hermione thought of her dream, and suddenly she realized what she had been so oblivious to over the past month or so. The changing appearance, the sudden bursts of involuntary magic, Chione’s voice in her head…
With her dream bringing her scar into focus, the pieces were finally beginning to fall into place.
AN Finally managed to pull together a twelfth chapter for this story! What did you think of it all? It's a bit longer, because I wanted to add in the dream/memory bit. I've added quite a few twists and sparked a number of questions, I'm sure, so let me have them! I'll be happy to answer anything you ask, but some things you'll just have to wait and find out about, but I promise everything will be cleared up eventually! :)
General feedback/comments/questions/concerns/critiques are welcome and appreciated as always! Thanks for taking the time to read and/or keep up with the story!
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