The corridor was empty and unlit as Draco limped through it. Blood was slowly soaking his tattered robes. His leg was numb with pain, and his arm felt as if had been ripped open. White spots began to dance across his vision. When he could go no further, he sank down against a wall, clutching his arm and panting.
He peeled back his blood-stained sleeve to examine the wound.
“Dammit,” he muttered. There was a long, bloody gash near his elbow that was oozing yellowish goo and had small pieces of wood stuck in it. The same went for the wound on his leg; there was a slash that stretched from his ankle to just under his knee that was extremely deep. Too deep, he thought. Much too deep.
Suddenly, he heard footsteps, and a faint light appeared at the end of the corridor.
“Who’s there?” a female voice called out.
Draco froze. If he was seen like this…
“Is there anyone there?” the voice repeated. The footsteps were becoming louder and louder.
Draco held his breath, trying to stay as still as possible, but to no avail. The person was coming closer, and it was only a matter of seconds until he was caught. He closed his eyes, waiting.
“Mr. Malfoy? What are you doing out of bed at this hour?”
He opened his eyes. Standing above him was Madame Pomfrey, the nurse, looking pale and ghostlike in the glow of the lantern she was holding.
“Oh, my,” she whispered, taking in his ragged appearance with wide eyes. “Mr. Malfoy, I think you’d better come with me.”
Shit, he thought.
He let himself be dragged into the dark, empty hospital wing, and plopped down into a chair to be examined. He was exhausted, and it took all the energy he had to stay conscious. The glaring white lights made him uneasy. Last night’s dinner seemed to be coming back up again.
“Mr. Malfoy,” Madame Pomfrey said firmly, peering at the wounds on his arms and legs after she had tried a variety of spells on them, “you’re going to have to tell me exactly how this happened. I don’t recognize this yellow substance coming out of the wounds, and you’re losing quite a bit of blood. I’m afraid the regular remedies just aren’t working on this… It’s almost as if you’ve caught something from the Forbidden Forest. There are only a few creatures that could’ve left a mark like this… although how on earth would you have…” she trailed off, glancing up at Malfoy, whose face remained stony and unreadable.
“How exactly… did this happen?” she repeated. There was a look in her eyes that Malfoy often saw in his own features. She was afraid. She spoke slowly to him, as if she believed him to be in a half-drugged state where he was unable to comprehend what she was saying.
He might as well have been. He looked terrible; his eyes were sunken and bloodshot, his face was a sickening pale yellow, and he was trembling as if he had just come out of some fatal accident.
“Well?” Madame Pomfrey asked expectantly.
“I – I was…” he stuttered. What had happened? He was coming back from a rather late Quidditch practice in which he had…
He had gotten distracted and fallen. No one else had been around. It was nothing serious.
“Quidditch,” he mumbled. “I fell.”
Madame Pomfrey had never seen the boy in such a state before. He looked as though he could collapse any moment.
“I’m going to alert the headmaster,” she said.
“No,” Draco croaked. “I’m fine.”
She looked at him worriedly and then proceeded to clean and wrap the wounds. “There,” she said, “that’s all I can do for now. Come and see me if it starts hurting.”
“Thank you,” he said stiffly, standing up from his chair. Then, he limped out of the room without another word.
* * *
Ron was pacing nervously around the Gryffindor common room, contemplating his next move. In the unlikely case that he said the wrong thing, everything would fall apart. His plan would definitely work. It had to. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by a shrill, high-pitched scream.
Romilda Vane, the girl he was currently “dating” – or pretending to – came up behind him and threw her arms around his neck. He turned to face her, guilt written all over his face.
“Happy birthday, Romilda,” he mumbled.
She beamed at him, twirling her curly black hair with one finger and trying to look coy. “Aw, you remembered! Aren’t you the sweetest!?”
An awkward silence followed before Romilda spoke again.
“So,” she said, looking down at his empty hands, “where’s my present?”
Ron shifted uncomfortably. “Well, actually Romilda… I didn’t, er, get you anything. Sorry, it’s just that I’ve been really busy with Quidditch practice and –”
She pretended to pout. “You don’t have to make up excuses, Ron… but, you know, that’s alright. Just having you here is enough. ” She smiled at him, taking his hand in hers and swinging it back and forth. “Come on, let’s go down to the Great Hall.”
Ron sighed and let himself be dragged along by Romilda.
When they arrived at the Great Hall, Ron spotted Harry, Ginny and Hermione sitting together at the Gryffindor table. He had a sudden urge leave Romilda behind and go join them.
“I’m just going to talk to Harry and the others for a second,” he told Romilda.
“Okay,” she said, trailing behind him, still clasping his hand tightly.
“Hey, guys,” he said to his friends. They looked up at him, surprised, and mumbled their hellos. Romilda, meanwhile, was glaring at Hermione with a look of pure hatred. She moved closer to Ron in an attempt to show that he was her property.
“Hermione,” Ron said loudly, glancing nervously in Romilda’s direction, “d’you want to go to Hogsmeade with me?”
Romilda immediately took her gaze away from Hermione and turned to Ron with a hurt expression on her face.
“You know, I’d like to, Ron,” Hermione said, looking amused, “but didn’t we just have a Hogsmeade trip?”
He flushed slightly. He had overlooked that. “I meant the next one.”
“Ron, what are you doing?” Romilda trilled, fire burning in her eyes.
He glanced at her. “If you don’t mind, I’m trying to talk to –”
Before he could finish his sentence, Romilda slapped him across the face and stalked off.
Ginny burst into laughter. “All right, sit down,” Ginny said, moving over to make room. “What was that all about?”
“I’ve been wanting to get rid of her for a while now,” Ron admitted, looking down.“Look, mate,” he said, turning to Harry, “I’m sorry about… what I did before. But you were going out with Ginny behind my back, and she’s my little sister, so –”
“Oh, don’t be such a sap,” Ginny interrupted, taking a bite of toast.
Harry grinned. “It’s alright. And I’m sorry, too… but are you really okay with… this?” He gestured to himself and Ginny.
“I s’pose, as long as you don’t go snogging in public. Or in front of me. Or ever,” Ron said darkly, grimacing at the thought of it.
“I can’t promise anything,” Ginny told him, glancing suggestively at Harry, who winked back.
They all laughed while Ron mimed puking into his pumpkin juice.
“So Ron, how did you end up with Romilda Vane anyways?” Harry said, finally asking the question they all wanted to know the answer to.
Ron shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable. “Well, after I, um, saw you two, I was walking ’round the castle to cool off, and I went into the library, right, and she just pops out at me and starts spouting some rubbish about how her mum mailed her some butterbeer or something, and she asks me if I want some. So, I said yes… I mean, who wouldn’t? And it turns out she had, like, poisoned it with some magical enhancer. So, after I drink some, I get this urge to… like…” he blushed and continued hastily, “you know. Do things I wouldn’t normally want to do around Romilda. And then… one thing led to another and suddenly we’re snogging and I actually like it…” he broke off, shuddering at the thought of it.
“That’s kind of scary,” Ginny said, looking concerned. “Should I be worried?”
“I told you, it was the magical enhancers!” Ron said defensively.
Harry snorted, accidentally getting some pumpkin juice up his nose, which caused the rest of them to burst into laughter and attract the attention of the rest of the Gryffindor table.
Suddenly, Hermione remembered that she was supposed to be at her first tutoring session with Neville.
“Oh, I have to go,” Hermione said suddenly. “Neville’s probably waiting.”
“Neville?” Ron asked curiously.
“Hermione’s tutoring him in Potions,” Harry said, grinning.
Ron just shook his head. “Weird.”
Hermione said goodbye to her friends, slung her bag over her shoulder and hurried out of the Great Hall. She had gotten special permission from McGonagall to use one of the Charms classrooms on the third floor.
She walked through the empty corridor, thinking about what she was going to do with Neville during the lesson. She had already selected a few pages that they would cover in her textbook. Suddenly, she heard a faint moan and stopped in her tracks. After listening carefully for a few more seconds, she heard nothing more than the irritated muttering of the paintings on the walls.
Deciding that she was simply hearing things, Hermione shrugged continued walking.
When she finally found the classroom, she opened the door to see Neville sitting there, awaiting her arrival. When he saw her come in, he greeted her enthusiastically and told her he was ready to begin.
“I’m really sorry I’m late,” she told him, “I just got a little sidetracked.” Which was hardly true.
The lesson that followed went considerably well. Hermione and Neville went through the material together, and Neville managed to successfully concoct a potion without making something explode – with Hermione’s help, of course. He was so excited afterwards, however, that he knocked over his own cauldron, spilling the contents all over the floor and causing the floorboards to sizzle menacingly.
“Thanks a lot, Hermione,” he said after an hour’s work. “For helping me, I mean. I feel a lot better already.”
“Well, that’s good,” Hermione replied. She was glad he had found her lesson satisfactory. “Same time next week, then?”
“Yeah, if it’s alright with you.”
“Yes, of course. Well, I should probably be going…”
“Right… um, see you later, then! And thanks again for helping me!” Neville said, shoving his book back into his bag as Hermione got up to leave.
As Hermione headed out into the empty corridor, she looked out the window and saw that the sky was already pitch black. She was surprised at how late it had gotten. She also had a painful headache. Neville’s enthusiasm could sometimes be a bit… exhausting.
* * *
“Draco, what the hell happened to you, mate?” Blaise Zabini, one of Draco’s fellow Slytherins, was staring at him with a horrified expression. “You look like crap. No offense.”
Draco had woken up late the next day, and when he had, his friends Blaise and Pansy had been sitting in his dormitory, talking, like it was the most normal thing in the world. When they noticed his appearance, they had started asking questions immediately.
“Drakey, are you all right? What’s wrong?” Pansy joined in, grabbing his arm.
Draco yelped in pain. His arm had started to bruise around the wound. “Get off, Pansy. I’m fine, okay? Let’s just go down to breakfast already.”
They both stared at him apprehensively.
“What?” he said, looking irritated.
“Breakfast was five hours ago. You weren’t there. We’ve got Defense Against the Dark Arts now, remember?” Blaise said, looking at him unsurely.
“Whatever,” Draco muttered, pushing past them to get his books. Blaise and Pansy noticed that he was walking with a limp, but they knew better than to ask him what had happened.
Even though the classroom was fairly close to the Slytherin common room, they were still late when they arrived.
“Sit down,” Snape snapped as they walked in, “and next time don’t be late.” He seemed to be looking directly at Draco, who avoided his gaze and sat down in his seat behind Hermione.
The lesson was long and tedious. Draco fiddled with his quill, running his fingers over the soft strands of the feather. He was scratching his initials into the bottom corner of his desk when Snape noticed him, obviously annoyed.
“Malfoy, pay attention,” Snape said sharply, glaring at him.
Draco looked up. There was a strange gleam in his eyes that made him look like a man possessed.
Suddenly, he stood up, gripping the side of his desk for support. He wanted to get out of this useless class.
“Sir, can I… can I go to the hospital wing? Please?” he said with a sort of desperation.
Snape looked suspicious. “What seems to be the problem?”
Malfoy grimaced and showed him his arm. He had taken off the cast, and his skin around the wound looked pink and raw. He didn’t bother to show Snape the injury on his leg, thinking that the gash in his arm would be enough to get him out of class.
Snape narrowed his eyes at him. “Go,” he said. Then, he paused. “Miss Granger, see that he gets to the hospital wing and then comes back immediately after Madame Pomfrey has attended to him.”
“M-me?” Hermione squeaked.
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
“No, Professor.” She scraped back her chair and stood up, not looking at Draco.
“Run along, then.”
The class snickered, eyeing them as they left.
As they walked through the castle in silence, Hermione made every effort not to look at Draco, although he seemed completely at ease. Finally, she spoke up.
“What happened to your arm?”
Draco seemed tired. His complexion appeared almost yellow, and his eyes were sunken and bloodshot. He seemed to be walking with a slight limp, and when he spoke, his voice sounded dry and raspy, as if he had a sore throat.
“I told you to… stop asking stupid questions,” he said, looking straight ahead.
They continued walking in silence until Draco suddenly stopped in front of a statue of a hippogriff.
“Look, I’m not going to the hospital wing,” he told her flatly. “That nosy old bag probably has enough on her hands, anyway. You can go wherever, but I really –,” he yawned, “need a nap.”
“You’re skipping class for a nap?” Hermione asked incredulously.
“Yeah, Granger, I am. And unless you want to get in trouble with Snape for coming back without me, you should probably… go do whatever it is you Mudbloods do for fun. See you later.” He started to walk away, but Hermione quickly grabbed his arm to stop him.
He howled in pain, clutching his arm.
“Oh,” Hermione mumbled, “sorry, are you alright?”
He glared at her. “I’m leaving,” he muttered, still cradling his injured arm.
That stupid Mudblood, he thought, walking away. Why is she always interfering?
He made sure he had gotten as far away from her as he could before he relaxed again. Then, his thoughts were interrupted by a sharp burst of pain in his chest.
“Ow,” he croaked, putting his hand over his heart. It had started to beat twice as fast as it usually did.
There was more pain. Every time he tried to take a breath, it felt as if a thousand needles were piercing his chest.
He ambled through the castle blindly, trying to get to his common room.
Was that a… Flitterbloom plant?
“Living death!” he shouted the Slytherin password, banging on the wall like a crazy person.
The door opened and he stumbled inside. He was going in and out of consciousness, and he barely see an inch in front of him.
Shit, he thought. What’s happening to me?
* * *
It was mid-December at Hogwarts and a thick layer of snow was slowly settling on the castle. Students spent the majority of their time huddled around the fire, playing cards or drinking hot cocoa. On one particularly chilly afternoon, Harry, Ron and Hermione were trudging across the courtyard with their bags in hand, discussing the upcoming winter holidays.
“Are you staying at Hogwarts, Harry? Or are you going to the Burrow?” Hermione asked Harry.
He hardly looked up. He was engrossed in his copy of Advanced Potion Making and only grunted in reply.
“Harry’s staying with us, of course,” Ron said happily, glancing at his friend. “What about you, Hermione?”
“I’ll be at my parents’ house,” she told him, “Apparently they have some “big news” they need to share with me. I’ve no idea what it is, though,” she added as an afterthought.
“Well… if you change your mind, you’d always be welcome at the Burrow,” Ron offered.
“Sure,” Hermione said, although she knew she wouldn’t be taking him up on his offer.
“Hermione,” Harry suddenly said without looking up, “d’you know the spell pyrokinesis?”
“No,” she replied, furrowing her eyebrows, “and if it’s that half-blood prince business again, then I’d suggest that you don’t use it.”
The “half-blood prince” was the supposed last owner of Harry’s Potions book. His personal methods of making each potion were written on almost every page.
Hermione continued. “I still think you should get rid of it.”
“Oh, come on, Hermione,” Ron said, “how many times have you found a book that tells you more about Potions than ol’ Slughorn ever will?”
Hermione sighed and didn’t reply. She had a bad feeling about the book that she couldn’t quite put her finger on.
For the rest of the week, she found herself constantly distracted by the Christmas holidays, her parents, and Malfoy. When would she ever get the time to buy her Christmas presents? Why did her parents keep writing to her, hinting about the importance of the news they were going to share with her? And what was Malfoy doing sending cursed necklaces to innocent students?
Malfoy had definitely been acting strangely lately. He was rarely seen in class, and when he occasionally did come, he always looked terrible, as if he hadn’t slept for days. Hermione hadn’t spoken to him since the incident a few days ago when he had deserted her to take a nap instead of going to the hospital wing. She was as close to getting any information from him as she was to convincing Harry to get rid of his Potions book. She needed a new strategy, and fast.
For the time being, though, she needed to finish packing her trunk for the Christmas holidays. The train returning to King’s Cross station was leaving tomorrow, and until now she had been too preoccupied to pack. Her parents would be waiting at the station to take her home. She couldn’t wait to see them and finally hear their news. Her father had mentioned that he had a job interview before, and Hermione thought that maybe the news had something to do with it.
* * *
After the long train ride the next day, Hermione and her friends finally arrived at Platform 9¾. Hermione quickly said goodbye to her friends and hauled her baggage off of the train. Once she made sure she had all her belongings, she turned towards the barrier leading into King’s Cross and ran through with her eyes squeezed shut. She still had a slight fear of crashing into it and breaking something after all these years. When she opened her eyes again, she was in the train station, surrounded by people hurrying to catch their trains and tourists asking for directions, all of them oblivious to the fact that she had just come out of a brick wall. She scanned the crowd for her parents. Suddenly, she heard her name being called and turned around.
Her parents were standing in the crowd behind her, both of them looking overjoyed to see her. Her mother was wearing an extremely baggy sweatshirt and jeans with her wildly frizzy hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her father was looking smart in a suit and tie; Hermione guessed that he had come straight from the job interview he had talked about in his letters.
She hurried over to them and gave them both a hug. When she hugged her mother, Hermione noticed that her stomach seemed… bigger. Hermione brushed the thought aside, remembering that her mother had said something about eating too much during the last few months.
They all got into the car, and as they drove home, Hermione told them about her classes, her friends, and the recent happenings at Hogwarts. She was much too excited to remember that they, too, had something to tell her.
It wasn’t until she had settled back into her room at home that her mother approached her again.
“Hello, darling… is your room alright? I tried to fix it up a bit before you came,” she chuckled, looking nervous.
If there was any place that Hermione loved more than the library, it was probably her room. The walls were painted a light pink color from when she was a little girl, and they were decorated with all sorts of wall hangings and maps. There were books piled everywhere, books that she had probably read more than ten times each. It was small, but cozy, and Hermione loved it.
“Of course it is. It’s great,” Hermione said, smiling.
“Well, that’s good. I’ll let you freshen up a bit before dinner. Just come on down when you’re ready.”
Hermione nodded and watched as her mother left the room. She seemed anxious about something, and she wasn’t her usual lively self. In fact, there had been a strange tension in the air ever since Hermione had gotten back.
When she sat down at the dinner table with her parents, they entertained her with small talk for a while before Hermione finally brought up the topic of the news they had been hinting about for so long. When she did, her parents looked at each other across the table and smiled. This only piqued Hermione’s curiosity further.
“Well, Hermione,” her father began, “how would you feel about being an older sister?”
Hermione swallowed the food in her mouth too quickly and began to choke. She gulped down some water and blinked a few times, trying to comprehend what her father had just said.
“You mean you’re…” she said, staring at her mother’s stomach. So it hadn’t just been weight that she had put on. She was…
“Pregnant.” Her mother beamed. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
Hermione stared at them in disbelief. “When did you decide that you were going to – how long have you known?”
Her mother glanced at her father, looking unsure. “I’m about five months along right now.”
“Five months? And you never thought to… tell me before now?”
Her mother looked hurt. “We only wanted to tell you in person, Hermione. That’s why we invited you here...” She offered her a small smile and tried reaching for her hand, but Hermione pulled away. She could see how much she wanted, no, needed Hermione to be happy for her. But she couldn’t do it.
“Of course, why else would you have invited me,” Hermione mumbled, getting up from her seat and starting to leave the room.
“Hermione…” her father called. “Hermione, please come back. Let’s just talk about this.”
She turned around with a wounded look on her face and sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m fine with it, okay? Just, when you have the baby… maybe you should actually tell me, instead of 5 months after!”
She knew she sounded harsh, and it was so unlike her, but she couldn’t believe that they thought she would just be okay with it. Her mother was already five months along. She was already showing, which meant that the whole neighborhood had probably known before her. She would be an older sister in little more than four months, and she was less than prepared for it.
A/N: So Hermione finally found out the news... you'll find out how this ties in with everything later. I've already started writing the next chapter, and it's probably the best one yet. I'll give you a hint: Draco's secret is only a chapter away! There's going to be a lot of Dramione action - just not in the way that you think.. ;D I <3 REVIEWS, so please leave one, even if it's short. It'd make me reallly realllyyyy happy! :D
Write a Review Darkest Night: Unexpected Surprises