Two days had passed since Hermione had agreed to assist Draco to the manor. He had insisted it didn’t matter when they went, “It’s completely up to you.” he would often repeat, however Hermione knew that Draco was slowly becoming impatient. He never told her this, but Hermione put herself in his position; not being able to talk to anyone, not being able to sleep, eat or drink… she was certain that she’d want to move on as soon as possible, and become intolerant with anyone who postponed her departure. She admired Draco for his tolerance, Hermione was beginning to lose count of all the times she’d doubted the idea, yet whenever she did talk to Draco about it, his response was the same, “I understand, I’m not forcing you to come with me.”. Nevertheless, Hermione was still accompanying him to the manor and she knew this, regardless of all the times she had challenged the plan.
Ignoring the deafening alarm bells that were screaming inside her head every time she thought of the manor, Hermione was most worried of how she was to get the cloak off Harry. Her initial idea of summoning it with the simple spell of “accio”, which even Ron has successfully mastered, was soon eliminated as she realised that she had no idea where Harry kept it. Obviously she could ask him, but the suspicion that would arise was too risky. Her thoughts then pondered over to Ron who was so eager to impress her these days that, if he knew, he was sure to tell her, but not without telling Harry soon afterwards. Raid their room! Her inner voice suggested.
“Too risky.” She whispered back in reply. Draco was relying on her to be able to get her hands on the invisibility cloak, she couldn’t let him down.
Why? Her inner voice questioned again. Why can’t you let Draco down? Only a few weeks ago you hated him, so why are you so keen to impress him now? Impress him? Was that what Hermione was trying to do? No. She was merely helping him. Yes, that was it. Merely helping him find peace after his untimely death. But Hermione’s mind did raise a good question; why couldn’t she let him down? This question was proving difficult to answer. There was no denying the chemistry they had, despite her efforts on fighting it, Hermione knew for certain it was there, and she was certain Draco felt it too. She was confident that the only reason they both had not admitted to their true feelings was because of Draco’s living state. Lack of living state, that is. Then again, even if he was alive, there was even less of a chance of anything happening between the two. The two of them together would be like a serpent dating a lioness. Minus the desire to eat each other, obviously.
Hermione thought back to all the times she had had an encounter with either one of the Ghosts that haunted Hogwarts and roamed it’s hallways, she had never noticed either one of them showing a particular interest in another, with the exception of Nearly Headless Nick, who thought the Grey Lady was notably attractive and had a nice pair of ‘buns’. Were ghosts able to date? She had never heard of a dead man dating before. After speculating all the possible outcomes of numerous conversations centring on the topic of ghosts dating, Hermione finally came to the conclusion that this was a topic that was best suited for Ginny, and not Draco.
“Hermione! There you are! Hungry?” Ron asked as he approached with a rather exhausted looking Neville. Hermione nodded before looking questioningly towards Neville. “Neville’s just been telling me about his weekend with Luna!” He exclaimed, beaming. Hermione immediately felt sorry for Neville, to Ron, despite his lack of experience, a weekend a way with a female only meant one thing; sex.
“Yeah, he never runs out of questions.” Neville complained, “Half the words, I never knew even existed!” Hermione grimaced as Ron’s smile turned devilish. She shook her head before marching inbetween the two boys, linking her arms through theirs and trudging through the portrait hole in the direction of the main hall.
“Hey stranger!” Ginny greeted Hermione as she slid herself in the gap between the redhead and Dean. She had considered ordering Harry to budge up, however she knew that both Harry and Ginny would moan separately at her later on. So instead, she decided she’d sit tight and throw smug looks at Harry when necessary.
“Hi, Ginny! Sorry I’ve not been around lately, what news?” She asked whilst spooning some chicken curry onto her plate.
“Major goss regarding our two dear friends.” Ginny whispered, her eyes darting from Neville to Luna.
“Oh?” Hermione asked inbetween mouthfuls. She pitied Draco for not being able to share the experience of a good chicken curry with her as this meal was simply divine, she made a mental note to visit the kitchens to applaud the house elves for their impressive work.
“Not a dinner time discussion, Hermione!” She grinned, waggling her eye brows frantically. Hermione watched her best friend almost choke on her ham as she burst into giggles as Hermiones eyes widened in shock. She looked over to Luna, who was laughing to herself as she watched the steam from the food spiral up, changing its shape as it rose to the ceiling, and then looked back to Ginny.
“You cannot be serious?” She scoffed.
“Oh yes! The deal has been sealed!” She squealed.
The rest of the evening passed quite quickly. Hermione and Ginny stayed up in front of the blazing fire exchanging gossip until the clock chimed midnight, and then rushed to bed hurriedly as they realised neither of them had a free period the next morning. As Hermione lay tucked in her snug bed, she reminisced over the events of the day and noticed that Draco had made not one appearance.
Minutes later, Hermione was asleep, her gentle snores joining in with the choir of deep breathing and faint whispers that came from the sleep talkers. Draco had often found himself watching Hermione sleep, he knew it was a stalkerish thing to do, but watching her sleep was like watching the perfect scene of innocence. He crept over to her side, making sure to avoid all the creaking floorboards, and kissed her forehead gently. She stirred slightly, but remained asleep. He smiled sadly before turning and exiting the dorm, he’d miss her when he passed.
Draco leisurely followed the corridor leading to the library, loitering as he passed a mirror, foolishly hoping he’d see his double staring back at him through the glass. Despite finding the library the most boring room in Hogwarts, with the exception of the Muggle Studies classroom, he had realised that he was spending an awful lot of time in there recently. Was it because it reminded him of Hermione? Partially. If that was the full reason, he wouldn’t have spent the whole day in the library and instead would have hunted Hermione down to discuss their plan. As Draco mulled over his own thoughts, he realised that Hermione had actually gone a day without visiting the library, he would remind himself to mock her whenever he saw her next.
Scanning the bookshelves, he eventually came to the one he was searching for; “Black Eden: Ghosts, Ghouls and all things dead - volume 3” He hoped it contained some information about his current physical state, about why no one but Hermione could see him. As much as he loved her company, it still made no sense to him why she, out of all people, could see him. Before his death, they had no connection, they loathed each other with a passion but now she was the only one that could help him. Why? Draco glanced around to see if anyone was about, only a couple of Ravenclaw students playing a bit of tonsil tennis, clearly too busy to notice a floating book fly off the shelf. He carried the book over to his usual table at the far corner whilst flicking through its pages. He set himself down on the rather uncomfortable looking crooked chair and examined its pages until he found a rather interesting passage;
“...sometimes, a ghost may present itself to you if it has unfinished business to do with you as an individual. In most circumstances, the ghost itself will not be aware of it’s visibility until you make it clear. It is then up to you to decipher what the unfinished business could be. No matter how hard it may be to find the real reason it is crucial for it to be found so the recently deceased can continue on to the afterlife…”
“Great, just great.” Draco sighed, closing the book. What he had read only confirmed that for him to move on, he had to return to the manor with Hermione. Didn’t it? Of course it did, there was no other reason he could think of for him to be only visible to her. After all, it was her idea, so maybe that’s why she could see him; she was the only one smart enough to come up with the idea of returning to the manor. Draco knew for a fact that if he was visible to someone other than Hermione, he’d still be pondering over what to do.
“So this is where you’ve been hiding.” A melodic voice laughed.
“Hermione! You scared the life out of me!” Draco gasped. Hermione raised an eye brow at him.
“Can you actually say that? I mean, you’re kind of dead, so...” She trailed. She had raised a good point, Draco only laughed and pulled over a chair for her to occupy.
“I can say anything I want… but some things will just be ironic from now on.” She nodded in agreement, “What are you doing up anyway?”
“Just woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep,” she shrugged, “That looks intimidating.” She said, pointing at the book Draco had just flicked through. He placed it on the table, took a deep breath and faced her.
“It’s about me.” He started.
“Since when did you publish an autobiography?” She smirked. Draco chuckled before carrying on.
“I mean, about my physical state… you know, why I’m here and only you can see me?”
“Am I that bad?” She frowned, looking quite hurt.
“Shit, no! I just found it curious, that’s all.” He smiled, “And according to the book, only you can see me because only you can help me.”
“We’re going to the manor, aren’t we?”
“Yes, but the book says we have to go to the manor, I believe it’s why I’m visible to you, because only you would know how to help me.”
“No pressure, Hermione.” She laughed. Draco reached over to squeeze her hand.
“You know I really appreciate you doing this, don’t you?”
“I do now.” She said softly. After a short silence, Draco asked;
“Do you have the cloak yet?”
“No… I’m still unsure as to how I’m going to get it off Harry.” She sighed.
“And when he asks why, what will I say?”
“Point made.” He nodded, pursing his lips in thought. “Maybe I could get it for you?”
“Well it makes sense… I’m a ghost, they won’t be able to see me, so I could get it, you could hide and we’ll take it when we need it.”
“When will we need it, Draco?” She whispered. He could tell she was scared, truthfully he was too, but he knew that this was something they had to do together.
“Tomorrow evening.” He said after a moments pause. Hermione had considered protesting, but the sooner this was over with, the better. Right?