A/N: From hereon out, this is past events as they occurred before Hermione goes back in time. This is just to avoid any confusion.
* 3rd May 1998
There’s simply no other way to say this. I froze. What was I supposed to do, really? People thought I was a death eater - well, I was, am, and the proof is on my left arm - and her…she was one of the three who saved the day. I’d be blamed for this for sure. But although my head told me to stop, another voice told me to do what my heart said.
“What are you waiting for, Master Malfoy?” I jumped, thinking I’d heard a ghost. I had. Professor Dumbledore slid into a vacant - and considering the circumstances - very orderly and clean portrait, in which he pushed aside an old wooden rocking horse.
“Professor Dumbledore.” I gulped. Hard. This was the man I was supposed to kill. How could he speak with me now?
“But you didn’t kill me though, did you, Draco?” He chuckled. Of all things, he chuckled! He was optimistic even when he was dead. “But let’s not remain in such an insignificant and irreversible past. Here, in the present, is where you need to act. You want to help her, but…”
I held onto the table for support, still in disbelief. “But…people will think I did something to her.”
“Well, then, you’ll just have to tell the truth.”
“The truth? Some of these people are so self-righteous that they wouldn’t believe the truth even if it came from their own mouths.”
“Miss Granger will tell them the truth.”
“Miss…Granger…” I repeated stupidly. I looked down at her and rushed to check her pulse. I sighed in relief. “She’s alive.”
“And will remain so, but only if you get help.”
“Right.” I pulled her up onto my shoulder. “Thank you Professor. And…sorry.”
All he did was nod and smile at me. I almost smiled back, but then leaned down to pick up her wand and apparated to St Mungo’s.
Pacing was supposed to help people think, not drive them mad with longing. I traced and retraced my steps outside the ward Granger was in, scared. I was terrified that she was hurt. Not because I cared…because, I didn’t…care about her … her safety…no…I was afraid that I would be blamed for this. I mean, what would I say when her friends realised that we were in the Great Hall alone? Did I tell the truth? My hand closed upon the list of names we had accumulated in my pocket…
The door to Granger’s ward flapped open and a Healer exited with her nose in a piece of parchment. I nearly flattened her, the pace I charged at her.
“Excuse me? Could you tell me if -” Great, I’d have to say her name. “ - Hermione Granger is okay?”
The witch smiled broadly. “Oh yes, she’s doing well. Go on straight in.” She left before I could tell her that I didn’t want to see her, but somehow found my feet entering the ward anxiously.
Thank goodness that she was asleep. I sat at her bedside and stared at her for a moment just to check that she was still breathing and then placed the list of names on the bedside table.
“Ah, yes, she’s a sleeping beauty,” said a crazy old man sat across the room with an arm which looked like he’d borrowed it from the giant squid.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Like the muggle tale, Sleeping Beauty.” I should have known that this guy was a half-blood or less. “I can tell you want to kiss her.”
“I’m sorry?” My eyes widened and I stood from the chair, both fists clenched tight.
He chuckled. “The way you were staring at her. You can’t deny it son.”
“Do not call me that,” I snarled.
He held one hand and a tentacle up defensively and smiled. “I just say what I see.”
“Well, next time don’t. Nobody asked for your opinion.”
“No one ever does. And nobody shares theirs with me.”
“I wonder why,” I muttered as I walked to the door.
“Being a reporter for the Daily Prophet never helps much.”
Shit. I hoped that he did not know who was I there to visit and I hoped he had no idea who I was.
“Listen -” I began. But I could not say anymore as the swinging door smashed into my face and in came, Potter and Weasley. They rushed over to Granger’s beside, scanning her from top to bottom.
“More men to redeem the young lady?” the man chuckled.
“What?” Potter asked, confused.
“Oh Merlin! Harry Potter! A friend of mine has just told me the good news. Thank you dear boy. Thank you for getting rid of that terrible man. I must say, in my day -”
“What the hell are you doing here?” Weasley shouted at me.
“So is it not enough that you nearly broke my nose? Have to shout at me too?” I said while tapping my nose with my wand and healing it. I groaned as the bone slipped into place.
“I thought we’d heard the last of you up at the castle,” Potter said.
“So did I,” I replied. “But the circumstances permitted me to bring Granger here.” I wanted to be seen in a good light should the reporter decide to print a story.
“You did this to her?” Weasley shouted.
“By ‘this’ are you implying that I forced her to fight a huge battle and then pass out from fatigue and grief?”
He said nothing and grumpily sat down on the chair muttering Granger’s name over and over, trying to get her to wake up.
The reporter discreetly tapped his wand on his quill and notepad which began to write. I just had not noticed this at the time.
“Shouldn’t you be going now?” Potter asked.
I sneered at him. “It would be my pleasure.” I turned to the door when we all heard -
“Wait.” Granger had woken up - if she really had been asleep - and evidently, she wanted me to stay.
I paused and turned towards her, although staring hard at the ground.
“Are you out of your mind?” Weasley whispered to her.
“Quite rightly so, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost my manners,” she replied equally as quietly. “I’d like to say thank you,” she said to me. “Thank you for getting me here.”
I nodded. There was nothing I could say and if I did say something, what would the other two think? Heart hammering insanely in my chest, I rushed out of the ward and onto the street, the cool breeze pouring away all of my stress.
When I apparated home, my mother was nowhere to be found. The house was empty, there was no mess and no disturbances. The house looked as if it did in my childhood; light poured through the windows and the air smelt of roses and spice.
After searching around the entire manor and finding nothing, I sat alone in my bedroom - that was until I started to pace. Up and down the room I went, trying to figure out where she was, why she would leave me and what had happened before she had left.
I told myself not to panic although it was the first thing that I did. Who could I talk to? Who could I tell? My mother was missing. She had left no note, not a trace or a whisper of a clue as to where she was headed. Unless she was taken by force…
My plan was not to worry. If she was not there in the morning, only then was I entitled to panic.
Opening the Daily Prophet the next morning could not have brought me more surprise. I was angry and I would have kicked myself if it were humanely possibly for taking my sorry arse to see Granger in St Mungo’s.
While drinking a glass of water, my eyes anxiously read:
BERNIE’S DAILY BRIEF
ROMANTIC RENDEVOUS IN MUNGO’S FOR POTTER’S PALS
By Bernie Swattle (the UK’s number fifty two wizarding gossip columnist)
While I sat in my itchy bed in St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, I had never imagined what a delight my afternoon would be. I had been waiting for a small operation on a slightly mutated arm of mine after a fiasco with an exploding potion when I was joined by a young lady. She was not particularly hurt and did not belong in this ward but was placed here due to the filling numbers in other beds because of other perilous injuries gained during the war.
I had overheard the other Healers name her as Miss Hermione Granger, 18, and whisper about her being best friend to the famous Harry Potter and being one of the few who had a direct hand in saving our butts from Lord Voldemort.
All the same, when a mysterious young blonde man came to visit her, I noticed a look in his eye. One that said nothing more or less than absolute adoration. In retrospect, I wished that I had not interrupted, in light of the fact that I could have sworn that I had ruined a tender moment. While she slept, he gave her a look only a lover could give and placed a note on her beside table - probably a love letter - before holding her hand gently.
Their lips were just centimetres apart when none other than Mr Potter himself, 17, and his best friend, Ronald Weasley, 18, burst in to see her. Obviously, this got a tad awkward when they found them in this predicament and the Weasley boy punched the blonde wizard named Draco Malfoy - also 17 - breaking his nose. Draco Malfoy is also the son of known death eater, Lucius Malfoy who apparently has not followed in his father’s footprints. I speculated that Ronald was in a relationship with the young girl by the way he threw Malfoy out. She, however had wanted him to stay.
Then the arguments began. Potter was seemingly calm while Weasley ranted at Miss Granger for ‘cavorting’ with the worst thing to come out of Hogwarts (except He-Who-Can-Now-Be-Named). After calling Draco Malfoy a ‘rotten posh idiot’, Mr Weasley stormed out while Harry Potter chatted with the girl. She had silently denied that anything had been going on which we can take as YES, SOMETHING WAS GOING ON. I assume so because she subsequently called this Draco fellow ‘a nice wizard who was far better than people expect’ by which Potter replied ‘Are you sure we are both talking about the same person?’
It would seem that Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were alone in Hogwarts school moments after the world’s darkest wizard was killed and doing what we can only guess. But what we do know is that it is goodbye to Weasley and Granger and hello to a brand new Granger-Malfoy relationship.
Will their scandalous relationship survive?
Find out more in coming articles.
That lying bastard. There were a number if blatant lies in that article which set my blood boiling red hot. There was absolutely, positively no tenderness between the two of us. I had nearly ripped the newspaper in two when I had read that but that was nothing compared to the rest of it. I never held her hand. I had not even touched her. This was all a load of rubbish and he knew it. Anything to upgrade his meagre number fifty two rating in the paper. Me…kiss Granger? That was a joke. I think standing over her bedside was hardly going in for a kiss. He was the one insinuating that at the time. I wondered how he kept up with his own lies. It was clever of him to make it seem as though Weasley had purposely broken my nose to add to the hostility. On the other hand, the latter part of the article was a mystery because I had no idea whether this was the truth or whether it was dragged out of context; for all I knew Granger could have asked Potter whether he thought she believed that I was nice in a rather sarcastic way, showing that in fact she did hate me as much as I hated her. You never knew with reporters.
While I threw the paper into the bin, a heard a light scratching on the window pane and turned to see a tiny barn owl trying to get in. I opened the window and took the letter from its leg.
Hi. I guess you’ve seen the article? Harry and Ron are furious at me at the moment because of it. You’re lucky you are so far away from them right now. I am writing to ask for you to send my wand back with Pig.
Also, I thought that you would like to know that Kingsley Shacklebolt has received the list of names, which is currently on page 2 of the Prophet and will be for the next week or so. The bodies have been moved and taken care of.
I hope you and your mother are coping well without your father and I hope you will have a greater life without You-Know-Who.
I had completely forgotten that her wand was lying in my pocket and that I had not already returned it. Running up to my room, I found a piece of parchment and a quill to write my response:
I have never seen such nonsense in my life. The article was utter rubbish and if I ever see Bernie Swattle again I will hurt him. I hope you don’t believe what he wrote.
I’m glad that they are looking for the family members of those people we identified. I never got to thank you for helping me.
My mother and I are doing well here. Nothing could be better.
I hope you have a great life with Weasley.
I wasn’t sure whether the ending was a little bitter, but shrugged, attached her wand and sent the owl back anyway, perfectly happy with my lies.
It wasn’t until a week later that I realised that I couldn’t shake Granger off so easily. She sent another reply to my letter with the same tiny owl. Sitting in my room, I read:
I hope you didn’t think that Mr Swattle lied about what I said about you. I really did try to convince Harry that you are better than people give you credit for albeit slightly stubborn. Therefore, I am inclined to believe his entire article; hence the reason why I have fallen out with Ron. I am currently still at the Burrow for Fred’s funeral.
I would like to see you. Would you be able to meet me in the Leaky Cauldron this evening at 6?
Send your reply as soon as you can.
I checked my watch. The clock said that I had forty five minutes to get clean and dressed if I wanted to make it in time. If anything, I wanted to straighten out the events that occurred in the hospital. I scribbled down ‘Yes’ on the bottom of her own letter, sent it with the owl and then dashed back upstairs to get dressed.
As I entered the Leaky Cauldron, I looked left and right to see if she had arrived yet. I was ten minutes early, so I grabbed a firewhisky from the bar and sat in a shady corner, waiting. A year ago, I would never have dreamed of even replying to a letter from Granger and now it seemed that had changed. We had turned into bloody pen pals over night. I cringed slightly.
After four more firewhiskies, I was starting to wonder whether this was all a joke, whether she was not really going to turn up. I hated to say it this way but, she had stood me up. Just when I thought that she was not that bad, she proved the point that I could never trust mudbloods. She was something. She believed the article! Meaning, she believed that I was going to kiss her. There was nothing worse that leaving that thought in her mind to fester and grow and give her ideas, so I sat alone until eight in the evening, waiting for her bushy-haired face to appear through the darkness.