Chapter 14 : Revelations.
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“Are you sure it’s true?”
“Of course I’m sure. I overheard that blood-traitor Weasley talking to him myself.” Her voice was laced with venom at the disbelief in the figure’s words. “I don’t lie to you Blaise.”
He laughed softly into the rim of his glass as he stared into the fire. “But you lie to everyone else. And trust is not something I bestow lightly.” He shook his hair out of his eyes and placed the empty glass onto the end table on his left.
Pansy smiled as she walked behind his chair; her manicured hands reaching down to delicately brush the hairs at the back of Blaise’s neck. She leant down so her lips grazed his ear as her hands slipped around his body and the nails gently clawed at his chest. Her whisper was soft and sultry in the darkening room. “I know you trust me.”
He leant back into her; breathing her in as her teeth pulled at his ear. “And how do you know that?” His hands slipped round to her waist and pulled her on top of him in the chair; her legs straddling him as her mouth explored his neck. Blaise moaned as she bit down on his collar bone and her hands clutched him to her.
Without warning she drew back.
Blaise instinctively leant forwards to grab her back but she sidestepped and grinned wickedly. With a smirk she slumped into the opposite armchair. “Because I’m the only girl you let do that.” She reached forwards and picked up the full glass from the oak end-table. “So...what are we going to do now?”
“I have no idea. We said we’d hurt her. We did. He still hasn’t paid up.” He refilled his glass from the dwindling amount of firewhiskey in the bottle. “Either; he hasn’t figured out it was you, or he thinks we’ve done our worst and are now beaten.”
The pair drank the burning liquid in silence, each nursing their own concerns in the bottom of their glass. Pansy sighed and rubbed her forehead absentmindedly. “I’ve been thinking; Draco has always been good to us and I think he’s serious about her.”
Blaise’s head snapped up. His eyes narrowed. His voice venomous, he turned to Pansy. “What? You want that ring, I want the money and when he’s gone I will finally be the one in charge. No more playing second wand to someone who isn’t even the cold, heartless bastard he should be. The Slytherin Prince is meant to be arrogant, awe-inspiring, powerful and without weakness. He should be the embodiment of Salazar Slytherin himself. Draco has been the ‘Prince’ ever since he arrived here – his wealth and status and appearance making him the candidate. He doesn’t deserve the respect.”
Pansy shook her head slowly at his words, her expression thoughtful. She seemed unperturbed by the anger that radiated from the figure across from her. “Just because he has a heart underneath the ice doesn’t make him less worthy of the title. He might spend evenings in the library and work hard but that is just his determination not to fail. Draco is everything the Slytherin Prince should be – Merlin knows he was groomed for it. He defends his own and he will not betray those he once called friend. But all Princes need a Princess and she is it; he always needed a battle to win and she is his equal in all.” Pansy shook her head as Blaise reddened. “Listen to me, he stood by us through the War and he saved our skins with the Ministry. I wanted him back Blaise, but now I see he was changed by the Dark Lord and he was strong enough to win himself back. He’s still the arrogant bastard underneath it all; he’s just grown up as well.”
Pansy stood and knelt before the angered Slytherin before her. Her hands cupped his face and her eyes softened his own. “Let the past go Blaise. He has paid a million times over for his mistakes. You made sure of that before the end of fifth year. You ensured he would be given the order to kill Dumbledore and you are responsible for all the evil in Draco’s life. He knows that and he has still stood by you. And now we bait him for our own gain? I saw his face as he ran to her in the hospital wing – I will not force a man to be with me when he loves another so ardently. It’s too cruel, even for a Slytherin.”
She pressed her lips to his forehead as the fire began to die. “Get some rest. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Blaise simply nodded as she sauntered off to her bed, his mind consumed with revenge. The glass in his palm splintered as his hand contracted. As the shards rained to the floor he whispered into the growing darkness.
“He never paid. I will make him watch her face grow pale and the life die in her eyes. Only then will we be close to even.”
She was sat upright in her bed, the white sheets in swathes around her body. She was leant against the pillows, her freshly washed hair drying slowly as she read the book Draco had left for her. She silently absorbed each page, her fingers curling the edges of the paper as she raced through the words.
“Miss Granger?” Hermione looked up and smiled at the matron as she approached from her office laden with a dinner tray. “I see you sent Mr Malfoy to bed at last.”
Hermione laughed as she put the book on the bedside table after dog-earing the page. “He needed to eat and relax.” She rearranged herself as the matron placed the tray on her lap. “Thank you; I love leek and potato soup.”
Madam Pomfrey smoothed the sheets out as Hermione began to eat the thick liquid and butter the hunks of homemade bread. “Mr Malfoy said as much. He knows you well.” Hermione nodded and stirred the soup. The matron paused. “Would you mind if I sat down for a while?”
“Of course not. It will be nice to have some company whilst I eat. This is delicious by the way.” Hermione smiled as Madam Pomfrey sat down in the chair that Draco had recently vacated. She watched as the older woman looked at the floor and became absorbed by her hands. “Are you okay?”
The woman looked up, a cautious expression on her face. She hesitated before she spoke in a level voice. “Miss Granger I need to tell you something. I don’t really want to but the law states that you legally must be informed.”
Hermione put her tray to one side and turned to face the woman in the chair. “What do you need to tell me?” Her stomach began to quiver with nerves, trepidation lacing her veins. Her arms began to fold in around her body once again, her own limbs straining to comfort her under stress.
The matron observed this with sharp eyes. “I would have spoken to you before, but I had to wait until Master Malfoy had left. No one else has been informed and it is your choice over who is privy to the information.” Hermione’s features betrayed her confusion to the nurse. “Miss Granger, have you been intimate in the past few weeks?”
Hermione’s eyes widened in shock and a flush of embarrassment rose in her cheeks. “Excuse me?”
“Miss Granger, when I examined your body you had lost a lot of blood and your body had undergone severe impact and stress. Some of your organs had shut down. Whilst conducting the original examination to determine how to help you, it came to my attention that your hormone levels were rectifying an imbalance so I checked your reproductive organs. I am sorry to have to inform you that you miscarried. The foetus was no more than a week old, you wouldn’t have known but as I said, I must legally inform patients when situations like this have arisen. Healing with magic is both a blessing and a curse. We wouldn’t have been able to tell otherwise.”
The words swam around Hermione, cocooning her in a web of confusion, guilt and pain. She nodded slowly and reached for the water. “Thank you for telling me.” Her voice, like her face, was void of emotion. She was blank on the surface; her eyes glazed and her motions rehearsed.
Madam Pomfrey stood and reached for the girl before hesitating and leaving without a word. She looked back at the empty Hermione as she reached the door to her office. “I’m sorry.” Her words were quiet but made it to Hermione’s ears, causing her to look up as the door slid shut.
Hermione drew her knees up to her chest and let her forehead fall forwards onto them. Her hands clawed at her hair as she began to shake; her body convulsing as tears began to slip from her eyes. This is madness; how can I cry over something I never knew I had? Her mind battled with the concept and she sunk into darkness as the lights in the Hospital Wing vanished.
“I don’t want to do this.”
“Well suck it up. You faced Voldermort, you can face this.” Ginny grinned at Ron’s words as they made their way to the Hospital Wing. Harry trailed behind the siblings, his feet dragging on the floor.
“Ron...” The sound of Harry’s feet stopped, his pause causing the red-heads to sigh and pause with him.
“Yes Harry?” Ron’s eyes narrowed and his voice became strained.
“Look, I thought about what you said and I know I shouldn’t have reacted as I did. I have a lot to thank Hermione for but frankly, I’m not happy with this. I don’t trust him and she’s already hurt. How do we know he didn’t push her down the stairs?”
Ginny snorted. “He was in Muggle Studies. If that fact alone doesn’t make you believe he’s changed then I don’t know what will.”
“But maybe this is all an elegant deception.” The Weasley’s rolled their eyes in unison and made to continue on their way. “No, listen.” They paused and turned once more to face the desperate Harry. “What if he’s trying to convince her he loves her and then he’s going to hurt her by making a fool of her? Malfoy has stooped lower before.”
Ginny’s blood boiled as she watched the man she loved begin to doubt one of his best friends. She stepped forwards and looked him in the eye, a wild expression on her face. “You don’t know the half of it, so I suggest you offer your best friend your support. She needs you Harry. And you said it yourself at the end of last year; you are forever in her debt. Maybe you need to start showing you understand the gravity of that promise.” She sighed and pulled him alongside her. “Now let’s go see her. Malfoy said she woke yesterday so she should be brighter today.”
“Come on mate, it will be okay.” Ron smiled gently and walked on the other side of the boy-who-lived; marching him towards Madam Pomfrey’s domain.
After a few minutes of walking they arrived at the Hospital Wing. Each of them drew a breath deep into their lungs as the doors opened before them. In the bright light of the room, in the bed she had been in since her arrival, lay Hermione. She was curled up tightly on her side, staring blankly at the whitewashed wall with her arms holding herself together. Desperation hung in the air and the room was eerily quiet. The only sound was the incessant ticking of time from the grandfather clock in the corner.
Despite her posture she looked more alive than before to her friends’ relief. Her hair was washed and her skin, though pale, had the faint blush of life beneath the surface. Her breathing was even, unhurried, and controlled as she battled to maintain composure beneath the fragile surface of her outward appearance. Clutched in one hand to her chest, lay a book with an aged olive-green cover and decaying edges.
As her visitors moved closer she stirred. She pushed herself up into a sitting position and subtly moved the book from view, hiding it underneath the pillows. Carefully she pulled on a jumper that lay on the end of her bed to provide her with warmth and a little more modesty than the hospital gown she wore provided. The soft brown of the wool gave warmth to her skin and managed to mask that the smile she conjured did not reach the depths of her eyes.
The two siblings reached for her at the same time. Their embrace was tight and they held together for a time as each clung to the other in relief. Ron laid his head on Hermione’s shoulder, one arm around her waist and the other holding Ginny close. Hermione let the tears of her loss slide down her cheeks; inside knowing that she could pass them off as tears that signified her relief at living. She wept into Ginny’s shoulder as the girl clutched her in return.
She pulled back after a while and offered a weak smile at both of the Weasley’s, a fierce love for them burning inside. She held at one hand of each, her thumbs rubbing circles on their skin. Her voice broke as she spoke, tears still silently slipping from her eyes. “I missed you guys.”
Ginny nodded and pulled her in tight for another embrace before fussing over her checking the damage. Hermione laughed at her actions as a memory of Mrs. Weasley came into her mind unbidden. Ginny smiled, “We missed you too. Never do that again okay? Too close a call.” She sat on the bed next to her best friend. “We can’t lose you.”
Ron sat next to his sister. “Not just because of some stupid steps anyway. You need to die in an impressive or at least memorable way.” Hermione laughed again.
“I’m not planning on going anywhere. I’ve been through too much to die now.” The red-heads nodded in agreement. Hermione looked past them to where Harry stood at the end of her bed with a troubled expression on his face. “Not pleased to see me Potter?” She teased.
Harry shook his head with a smile but the light didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m glad you’re okay.” He spoke with earnest but Hermione caught the hesitation.
“What’s up with you?” Somehow she knew the answer, the guilt already lining her veins and trepidation flooding her heart. She managed to keep her tone light however and her smile intact as he answered.
“We met your lover.” His voice was cold and detached. The other two looked down at their hands as Hermione stared back at Harry.
“I see.” Her tone had turned brittle to match his. “I don’t care what you have to say Harry. I can’t deal with a petty grudge right now, I have too much going on and I’ve only just returned to the world of the living.”
He snorted. “It’s far from petty Hermione. Think of all the times he’s hurt you, hurt us. Just a couple of weeks ago you recoiled from him as he called you a mudblood. He’s a filthy death eater with a masochistic, arrogant, evil arse of a father who shapes his every move.”
Hermione’s eye’s flashed dangerously. “You have no idea what you are talking about. He has paid for his mistakes and you have no right to judge him.”
“Harry...I don’t think this is the time or place for this.” Ginny spoke quietly but it was enough to make Harry bite back his next remark and silence. She looked back to Hermione. “Harry is struggling with the news as you can see.”
“Do they know everything?”
Ginny shook her head. “It wasn’t my place.”
“What don’t we know?” Ron asked as Hermione nodded in thanks to his sister. His look was concerned, but no anger lied beneath the surface. “You don’t have to tell us right now. You need to get your strength up so you can get back to helping us with our homework okay?” Hermione smiled at his words. “I’m glad you’re okay. I truly am.” He looked at her sincerely, his heart wishing she could sense the strength of his love for her beating away in his heart. “And I’m happy for you and Malfoy. If he is what you want, then that’s fine with me. Just as long as I get to curse him first if he hurts you.”
Hermione laughed and reached out to hug Ron tightly. She could feel the emotion in his voice as he spoke and her heart ached in sympathy and guilt for the feelings she would never reciprocate. “You bet you will. You’re still my top man right?”
Ron nodded against her, breathing her in as she held him close. Harry cleared his throat and the pair broke away.
“I need to go.” Ron stood to accompany Harry back to the common room but paused as Harry’s next words came flying out laced with venom. “Say hello to your filthy boyfriend for me.”
They all watched Harry stalk from the room in disbelief. Ron went to follow him. “I’m sorry about his reaction. I’ll see you soon okay?”
Hermione waved him goodbye and turned to Ginny who remained. “I can’t tell them everything.”
“I know.” Ginny sighed and repositioned herself. “But Harry will come round, eventually. He still needs to hate someone after last year. So many people died and I think he just wants to hold someone responsible in his mind. He needs to fixate his hatred on someone and it’s always been the Malfoy’s. He says he can’t hate Narcissa because she saved him, but Draco looks too much like his father for Harry.”
“At least Ron’s coping.” Hermione shrugged and reached for a glass of water. As she drank Ginny regarded her closely.
“Are you okay? Like, really alright?”
Hermione paused and looked down at her hands. She could feel the tears forming behind her eyes once more; guilt and pain burning her from the inside out. She shook her head slowly. “No.” Her whisper was hoarse in the emptiness of the Hospital Wing. “I’m nowhere near being okay.”
She looked up at Ginny, her eyes shining with fresh droplets and her expression tormented. The sadness etched upon her face was so deep that Ginny almost looked away, frightened by the lost expression on her friend’s face.
But Hermione just bit her lip and shook her head; once more turning her gaze downwards. “It’s nothing. Go, be with the boys. They need someone to keep them in line.”
“Hermione...” Ginny was at a loss for words.
The brunette just took a deep breath and forced a smile to grace her features. “I was just being silly, go on. I’m fine.”
Ginny leant forwards and enveloped her in a final hug. “I’m always here. Day or night.”
Hermione watched as the girl left quietly before pulling the photo album from underneath the pillow. She began to go through the photos once more, smiling as memories of her childhood were captured on the pages. She stroked the faces of her parents as they smiled from the page, the ache in her heart feeling heavier by the moment. She sighed.
The door to the hospital wing creaked open as the rest of the castle fled to the Great Hall for lunch. A cloaked figure crept through the gap and made his way to Hermione’s bed. Next to the sleeping girl lay her won lunch; more soup with crusty rolls and cheese.
The figure slipped a hand into his cloak and pulled out a vial of a vivid purple liquid. As he pulled the stopper from the vial, spirals of red smoke sputtered from the potion. With another glance around the empty Hospital Wing the figure emptied the contents into the thick soup and stirred the mixture until the spirals stopped.
With a chuckle the figure stood to leave but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder.
“I think you forget Mr. Zabini that I have my own means of becoming invisible and when a head student is in the Hospital Wing, it is only natural I should come and see them.”
Blaise’s cloak slipped from his head as he turned to face the wrath of Albus Dumbledore, towering above him as he dropped the vial to the floor. He gulped as the glass shattered and Hermione blinked awake to survey the scene before her.
Authors Note: Hope you enjoy, things are getting to the main plot now so I hope you continue to like it. Please R&R as it makes my day!