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Chapter 10 : Better Than I Know Myself
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The four students stared at each other in the echoing silence, waiting for the other to speak though none succeeded to much avail. Lupin blinked patiently and then finally said, “You four are far from forgiven and will not evade punishment. Just get back to the castle now before your Headmaster and the Minister get back.”
The five of them turned towards the castle with bowed heads. Hermione walked behind Professor Lupin, the other boys taking up the rear. She knew this would happen and was happy to wallow in her self-righteousness when she was stopped with a sudden yelp and a scuffle behind her. Harry, Ron and Draco were on the ground frozen.
Hermione screamed and vaulted behind Professor Lupin, who pulled his wand out as fast as he could. “Hermione, I want you to go back to the castle right now,” Lupin ordered.
“I can’t,” she whispered. “They’re hurt.”
“No…they’re not. Just immobilised.”
“But Sir -”
“Yes, Sir, why not stay here?” Snape had emerged from the bridge and having followed Lupin across the grounds, had found the spot where he and Hermione stood shivering in the cold. “Well well well, what have we here? Not enough that you have an entire castle full of prey, you have to get them alone and deal with them without turning, Remus?”
“What are you -? I didn’t do this,” Lupin uttered.
“No? All I see is your wand out and three helpless boys on the ground. If that doesn’t deserve the Kiss, I don’t know what does.” He smirked. “No worry. The minister will be up here soon and then we’ll see who hasn’t got a job anymore. The headmaster may be blinded by your lies, but Fudge will not. Oh, how happy I will be when your post is vacant…”
“Severus, I am not responsible for this.”
“He isn’t, Professor,” Hermione interjected. “Professor Lupin just told us to go back up to the castle and we turned around and found them like this.”
“A likely story. One the Minster would delight from hearing first hand. Ah, here they come.” He smiled and watched as the executioner completed his deed and started up the hill with the Minister while Dumbledore stayed with Hagrid.
A shot of silver light shot straight into Snape’s back, causing him to topple over and fall facedown into the grass. Sirius had crawled out of the shrubbery holding what seemed to be Draco’s wand between his fingertips.
“I am sorry about this,” he muttered.
Hermione stared at him as he lifted the wand and then everything went black.
She awoke tangled in a thorny and very uncomfortable rosebush, scratches and bruises scattered across her body and her clothes torn in awkward places.
“Hello?” It was very dark, pitch black in fact, and the moon was round and full in the sky. In the distance, she heard an elongated howl and then was savagely pulled out of the bushes by two hands gripping her on her wrists.
“Are you alright?” Harry sat Hermione down and looked over her wounds.
“I’m fine,” she lied while her scratches stung like hell. “What happened?”
“Sirius Black happened.” Harry explained the entire story of how Scabbers was in fact Peter Pettigrew and had betrayed his parents. He also mentioned how he had flung her out of harms way as she had still been unconscious.
“Where are the others?” she asked.
“Pettigrew’s gone and Ron and Malfoy went for help.”
“Why were you still out here?”
“Professor Lupin.” He helped Hermione up and looked into the distance at an oncoming figure. It was darting through the forestry ferociously, snout dribbling and teeth bared.
Harry did not have to shout ‘Run’ for them to dart across the grass hand in hand. They dodged stones and pools of rain, running until their chests hurt.
“Harry….” Hermione breathed. She had to stop. She could not keep running.
“No. Keep going.” He pulled on her arm, but her legs failed her.
“Harry… I can’t…” As she collapsed on the ground, Harry was surprised to find that the werewolf - Lupin - was not following them anymore. There was nothing but the good green earth behind them.
“Is it….gone…?” Hermione asked while clutching her chest.
“Yes. But I don’t understand -” Harry could not say anything. His breath had been sucked out of him as dementor preyed on him easily. The cold of the night air was almost equal to the dementors’ chill so it was no wonder that they were not noticeable. Hermione tried to pull Harry away from it, but around her more and more gathered around them predatorily with long clawed fingers outstretched.
The Hospital Wing smelt of various medicines and magical remedies when the victims awoke. In the row of neat beds, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco opened their eyes within the same few minutes and gathered their thoughts, taking in their surroundings.
Harry had only cuts and bruises. Ron, however, was in a bad way: half of his face was swollen so that his features beneath his red hair could barely be distinguished and his leg was in a cast. Hermione’s left arm was in a sling, while Draco only had a bit of a headache.
To their surprise, Professor Dumbledore was sat before them on a spindly wooden stool.
“Good evening,” he greeted.
“Good Evening?” Ron mumbled through swollen lips. “Good even -?”
“Shut it, Weasley,” Draco shouted.
Hermione ground her teeth together. She was furious at a certain Slytherin, but pushing aside her anger, she turned to her Headmaster and asked, “What’s going on?”
“Thanks to Mr Black, Miss Granger, you and Mr Potter were saved from the dementor attack. Thankfully, I saw this from Hagrid’s cabin and as we speak Professor McGonagall and other members of staff are removing those vile creatures from the premises.”
“Thank God,” Hermione said, relieved.
“What about Sirius?” Harry asked.
“Unfortunately, the last task the dementors will see to is his death.”
Harry punched the bed he was lying on and then vaulted off it in a mad rage. “Professor, we’ve got to do something!”
“I think you mean, Miss Granger must do something. To save two lives, exonerate an innocent man and reveal the real perpetrator.”
Professor Dumbledore smiled and left the room with his hands folded behind his back. He thought the task he had left behind was not too much for a few fourteen year olds contrary to what others may believe.
“And that means…?” Ron began, with a confused look on the non-swollen side of his face.
“I don’t know,” Hermione said.
“Are you all thick?” Draco exclaimed. “These two I understand, but not you Hermione…”
“Watch what you’re saying, Malfoy,” Harry threatened.
“Or what?” Draco grinned while Harry stood speechless. He turned to Hermione. “He wants you to use the time turner.”
A light in Hermione’s brain flickered on. “Of course.” She pulled it out while explaining to Harry what was going to happen. Draco got out of the bed. He and Harry stood next to Hermione while Ron looked on from where he lay. She pulled the chain over Harry’s head and stared intently at the hourglass.
“What? You and him?” Draco questioned. He was confused. Why would Hermione choose Harry? Why not all three of them? “You two weren’t even smart enough to realise to use that thing!”
“The less people go the better. Besides, he’s Harry godfather,” Hermione explained as sympathetically as she could manage given the current situation.
“Black and I share the same blood! And that means nothing, does it?”
“It doesn’t mean a damn thing,” Ron commented from the bed.
“I didn’t have to help you Weasley!” Draco shouted.
“I didn’t ask you to!”
“Shut up,” Harry ordered. “We need to go quickly and I don’t care if you have a problem with it Malfoy. Lives are at stake here.”
Draco stared at Hermione as she flicked the dial back three times. The last thing she and Harry saw was Draco storm out of the Hospital Wing, leaving the doors wide open.
The clock began to chime.
Harry and Hermione stole Buckbeak quietly and swiftly and soon looked down on the scene where the truth came out. The two of them braced themselves for the moment when Sirius would save them from the dementors, Hermione not baring to watch herself get attacked again.
“Come on.” Harry mounted Buckbeak and pulled Hermione up behind him. They swept up to retrieve Sirius on the castle tower before Fudge arrived, leading him to the edge of the castle gates. Hermione thought that he looked like one of the most frightful wizards she had ever encountered, the wanted posters accurately depicting him. However, the posters failed to note his soft sincere voice and his gentle blue eyes.
“I couldn’t thank you enough, Harry,” Sirius said as they flew. “Knowing that you know the truth means the world to me.”
“Soon everyone else will too,” Harry reassured.
“Harry!” Hermione squealed. “Pettigrew!” She - and evidently Harry - had completely forgotten to retrieve Pettigrew after he had transformed. Harry threw them all into a nosedive and even before Buckbeak could land, Harry had jumped from his back and was darting through the forest in search of the traitor.
Sirius and Hermione knew that Harry would not find him, but left him to it and made their way to the gates.
“I’m so sorry,” Hermione whispered.
“That’s alright. I’m used to being treated like scum by the Ministry. My fate could have been much worse had you not come for me.”
Hermione refrained from mentioning the Dementor’s Kiss. “You have somewhere to go?”
“Yes. But don’t you worry about me. Get back up to the castle.” Hermione smiled and turned back to the path. “That cousin of mine isn’t bad, you know!” Sirius called.
Hermione turned to face him. “Excuse me?”
“Draco. All I’m saying is, we all deserve a second chance. I’m living proof of that.” Sirius swung his leg over Buckbeak and gained both speed and flight until they were nothing but a faded dot moving in the sky.
Not completely understanding him, Hermione dashed back up to the castle and was caught up by Harry who was running beside her to get back when they needed to.
“Did you find him?” Hermione asked, knowing the answer before he shook his head regretfully. They landed outside the Hospital Wing just in time to see Draco storm out of the doors.
“Draco…” Hermione began.
“You done?” he sneered.
“Yeah…we…we saved them.”
Draco shrugged and walked away. Hermione followed. “Hang on! Don’t I deserve an explanation?!”
Harry excused himself and slid into the Hospital Wing with Ron to fill him in. He closed the doors behind him.
“The Teashop. Or have you forgotten what you did to me?”
“You make it seem like I hurt you in some way,” Draco analysed. He jumped down the stairs, almost power-walking through the corridors while Hermione followed trying to catch up with him.
“Wait!” She almost lost him in the dungeons, but asked another Slytherin to call Draco out of the common room.
Disappointed and generally tired, Hermione retreated to her dorm after waiting for two hours for him to face her.
This time, it was Draco’s turn to ignore Hermione. He was embarrassed beyond anything he had ever felt before. Why was he so stupid? She obviously didn’t like him the way he did her. Even when a fourth year boy told him that she was waiting for him just beyond the entrance to the Slytherin common room, he did not want to see her. She was probably there to laugh at him or tell him that is was fine because it must have been a mistake…
He tossed his clothes into his trunk on the last day of term savagely and dragged it outside, sitting on it with his arms folded until the carriages arrived.
Other students gathered behind him, some blatantly talking about what had happened in Hogsmeade Village weeks ago. Evidently, the gossip had spread like wildfire.
“…I thought she kissed him and he hit her.”
“What a pretentious idiot! And I used to like him.”
“Madam Puddifoot had to tear them apart when they were kissing and that was how the fight broke out.”
“Nasty. What happened then?”
“They got thrown out and argued on the street.”
Draco could not be bothered to tell them to shut up about things they didn’t know about and jumped into a carriage and then onto the train in silence.
Crabbe, Goyle and the other Slytherins joined him but began their conversations around him and never made an effort to speak to him directly.
Hermione sat with Harry, Ron and Ginny on the train. Behind a magazine, Hermione and Ginny whispered discreetly while Harry and Ron chatted loudly about the Firebolt.
“Have you seen him yet?”
“No,” Hermione replied. “I haven’t bothered to look for him. He’s too good at hiding.”
Ginny grunted. “You wait until the World Cup. He’ll be begging for you to speak to him again. If you give it a month, he’ll be desperate to be on speaking terms with you. And what a better place than on a huge fire lit field with the sun going down in the distance?”
“What are you two talking about?” Ron pulled the magazine from between them and looked at the page and saw cooking recipes.
“Planning a romantic break?” Harry asked grinning.
“What we speak about is nothing to do with you two,” Ginny spat at her brother.
“I hope you’re not planning to trap Harry in a tent at the World Cup,” Ron commented and then he smirked when Ginny’s face turned red. Harry stared out of the window.
“Of course she won’t. She was talking about me,” Hermione recovered easily. “I suppose you’ve heard about what happened in Hogsmeade. If you haven’t, I’d be very surprised.”
“We haven’t heard anything other than the Famous Teashop Incident,” Harry said while cleaning his glasses with the edge of his shirt.
“It’s taken the heat off Harry for a while. People have all but forgotten about the dementor thing. Did he really hit you?” Ron asked dipping his hand in a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.
“Can you see any marks on my face?” Hermione retorted defensively. No one said anything. “I hit him.”
“Go Hermione,” Ron said amazed.
“So he didn’t kiss you?” Harry asked.
“He did,” Ginny said grabbing her magazine back. “That’s why she hit him.”
Hermione recounted the whole event to Harry and Ron. She hadn’t planned on it, but she would rather people knew the truth rather than spreading nasty gossip. This explained to the boys the funny behaviour they had encountered on the night they freed Sirius. Ginny had been told the entire story of what happened that night when Ron and Hermione could not think of a good excuse to explain their injuries and Mr Weasley had given them permission. Harry and Ron made Hermione feel a lot better by promising never to try anything on with her without her wanting them to. She laughed weakly and scurried off the train, with Ginny behind her.
She gave her a hug, finalised the details for the summer and went to meet her parents on the platform.
“Had a good year?” Narcissa asked her son once they arrived home and he threw down his trunk.
Draco shrugged and walked away. He could not believe that he had been dragged into all of the Sirius Black nonsense. But still, he wasn’t about to tell his parents that he was stunned by a notorious murderer. He also wasn’t about to tell them about Hermione and how much of a idiot he’d made out of himself.
“Is this anything to do with…?” She purposely did not finish her sentence but he knew who she was talking about. His best friend.
Meeting his mother’s eye and positive she would see through him anyway, he said, “No,” and locked himself in his room.
On the morning of leaving for the Quidditch World Cup, Draco had been tempted to contact Hermione. He wrote her name on a piece of parchment intending to complete the letter. All he could do was continue to strike the H and loop the E. Writing her name hundreds of times seemed to be the only thing remotely consolable. He didn’t want to see her and he told himself that he wouldn’t. There would be thousands, possibly millions at the event. But he knew…no matter how much he didn’t want to see her again, he would always be looking for her. He knew her better than he knew himself. And because of this, he knew she would be looking for him too.
He had wanted to apologise and say that he wanted to meet up with her before the Final began. He hadn’t seen or heard from her in nearly a month and he was already getting withdrawal symptoms! Sleepless nights, achy muscles and general non-stopping thinking came part and parcel with Hermione. He could not have stopped himself from kissing her if he tried. He had wanted to do it so many other times before and that was as good an opportunity as ever. Heck, he’d wanted to ravish her when they were alone in her common room last year and especially on her birthday! It was like she was oblivious to all the signs he had thrown at her. At least, he thought he was being obvious. Maybe young witches didn’t see what was right in front of their eyes. He knew that practically everyone else in their year - in the school - knew how quickly their friendship was advancing.
Draco just wished he hadn’t made a fool of himself like that. Why didn’t he do it when they were alone? Why in such a crowded place? He wasn’t going to lie: he knew he was good-looking and that other girls drooled at him left, right and centre. And that was precisely why he liked Hermione. She just wanted to be his friend and that was her most admirable quality, placing her higher than all of the other girls he knew.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading my fiction. Please review!!! I thought I'd miss out all of the detailed stuff as you'll already know about Sirius etc and I hope that's fine. After this chapter is where it gets good, but I'll leave that for you to decide.
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