Chapter 6 : Monster
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After having spent most of the seemingly never-ending Christmas holidays with her parents, Hermione was relieved to finally be back at Hogwarts. She had returned early, and the castle was almost completely empty. The rest of the students were due back later that day, and Hermione was eagerly anticipating their arrival. Being alone in the castle for the Christmas holidays wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was either that or staying at her parents’ house, and that was horribly awkward thanks to the bombshell they had dropped a few days before. She still recalled how they had told her about the baby they were expecting. She pushed the thought away; it was too confusing to think about it now.
Nowadays, Hermione spent most of her time studying in the library. It was nice to have the whole library to herself. She would read for hours at a time, and would only stop when it got too late. She also did some research on Harry’s “half-blood prince.” She didn’t find much, but she wouldn’t give up so easily.
Currently, she was sitting in a corner of the library with her Arithmancy textbook in her lap. She sighed, wondering when the other students would be arriving. She didn’t know any of the other students in the castle, and she wasn’t going to try to befriend them. Especially not Malfoy.
She had seen him a few times, but of course they never acknowledged one another. He seemed more distracted than ever these days.
Not that it mattered much to Hermione.
* * *
Harry, Ron and the others had finally arrived back at Hogwarts, and since classes would be starting again the following day, they decided to pay Hagrid a visit. They spent the better part of an hour there, and once they had eaten their share of rock cakes and told him about their holidays, they decided to head back to the castle. It had become very dark outside, and Hermione looked to the sky. There was the moon, glowing brightly among the darkness.
“Look, there’s a full moon tonight…” Ron commented, glancing at Hermione. He wasn’t really one to say such things, but perhaps he was just trying to lighten the mood. Ever since they had returned, Harry had been impatient and unfocused. He was constantly checking his Marauder’s Map, and whenever someone spoke to him he would hardly look up.
The rest of the students had returned earlier that day, all with happy smiles and stories to tell.
Neither Ron nor Harry seemed to notice that Hermione hadn’t yet spoken a word about her Christmas holidays with her parents. She decided that she would tell them later, if ever. They didn’t need to know about her silly problems, anyway.
“It is quite nice,” Hermione said to Ron in response to his comment about the moon.
Ron nodded, still peering nervously at Hermione. Her face looked pale in the moonlight, and she had a determined look in her eyes. She had never been one to take leisurely strolls near the Forbidden Forest, and as a result she was walking as quickly as she could to get inside the castle safely. Ron was trying to keep up with her; Harry, meanwhile, was trailing behind them with his map.
“Hermione, I was wondering –” Ron began.
“I can’t believe it,” Harry interrupted. He was gazing intently at the Marauder’s Map.
“What is it, Harry?” Hermione asked, while Ron turned away, looking irritated.
“I’ve got him this time,” Harry muttered. “I’ll be back,” he said to Ron and Hermione. Then, without another word, he ran ahead of them. They watched as he disappeared inside the castle.
“What was that all about?” Ron wondered aloud.
Hermione said nothing; she thought she knew exactly what Harry was talking about.
“Malfoy,” she said.
“Huh?” Ron looked confused.
Hermione blushed. “I think he’s looking for Malfoy again.”
“Oh, right. It’s a waste of time, if you ask me.”
“Mm hmm…” Hermione said, trying not to think about how wrong he was.
They walked in silence for a few moments before Ron spoke again.
“So, er… you know how I asked you to go to Hogsmeade with me before? I mean, obviously that was a joke, but Harry and Ginny are going together, and it’s a bit awkward going with them, you know what I mean… So, do you want to just go together, then?”
Hermione paused for a second and then smiled at him. “Of course. I mean, we should let them have some time alone together, shouldn’t we?”
Ron laughed nervously. “Yeah, that’s right.”
They had reached the entrance to the castle. Hermione laughed as Ron made a show of stepping aside to let her go in before him. Once they were inside, Hermione said goodbye to him and made her way up to the third floor. It was time to tutor Neville again.
When she stepped inside the classroom, it seemed that Neville had already started without her. He was looking keenly at the Potions book in front of him, and had laid out all the ingredients on the table. He was sitting at a desk in the corner of the room, and there was another chair pulled up next to him, presumably for Hermione.
“Hi, Neville,” Hermione said quietly as she slipped into the seat beside him and put her bag down.
“Oh, hi, Hermione,” Neville said cheerfully, looking up from his book. “Sorry, I was just, er, getting a head start, you know?”
“It’s fine,” Hermione smiled. “I’m glad, actually.”
Neville beamed at her. For the next hour, they worked tirelessly to make the “Draught of Happiness and Eternal Life,” and in the end, the potion turned out almost as good as it would have been if Hermione had made it herself.
“You did very well today, Neville,” Hermione praised him as they both stood up and slung their bags over their shoulders. “I think you’re really improving.”
“Thanks, Hermione. You’ve, um, helped a lot. But… there is something else I need to ask you,” he admitted, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Oh no… Hermione thought. Is he going to…?
Harry and Ron had teased her endlessly about the possibility that Neville had a crush on her. She disagreed, however. He genuinely seemed to want help in Potions.
“I need your help…” he said in a small voice, looking down and blushing, “asking Ginny out.”
“W-what?” Hermione asked. She definitely hadn’t been expecting that.
“I mean, I really want to… ask her to go to H-Hogsmeade with me, but I… I just thought, since you’re her friend, maybe you could, talk to her or something like that…” He looked up at her apprehensively.
“Well, Neville, I… don’t really know what to say, I mean –”
“Please, Hermione,” he said with a wide-eyed expression. “You’re the only person I could ask…”
“But, you see, Ginny is actually… I’m sorry, Neville, but Ginny’s, well… Harry and Ginny are together at the moment.”
Neville’s face turned bright red as he took in this information.
“R-really? I didn’t, er, know…”
“I’m sorry, Neville,” Hermione said, placing a hand on his shoulder and giving him an apologetic look.
He stayed silent, but tried to smile. He looked so pitiful that Hermione couldn’t help but say, “Look, I’ll make it up to you. The Hogsmeade trip is about two weeks from now. Meet me there, okay? I’ll see you next week!”
With that, she dashed out of the classroom and into the hallway. She had just had an idea, and she wanted to go tell Ginny so she could help.
As she was rushing through the empty, unlit halls, she heard a noise from behind her. She turned around saw the secret entrance to Dumbledore’s office. It appeared that someone was coming out. Perhaps it had become an instinct of hers from sneaking around so much, but she quickly hid behind the bend of the wall.
However, her curiosity got the better of her, so she peeked around the corner to see if it was safe to continue on her way. She tried to make out who figure was through the darkness, but they had their back towards her. It looked like they had just put something in their pocket. It looked like a chain, or a necklace or some sort.
Suddenly, the person turned around. Hermione hastily ducked behind the wall again, but not before she saw their face. She recognized them immediately. It was none other than Draco Malfoy.
What business did he have in Dumbledore’s office? Could the necklace that Malfoy had put in his pocket possibly be the cursed locket that he had sent to Katie?
Hermione peered at him from behind the wall again. He had started walking in the opposite direction, so Hermione took her initiative and followed him, tiptoeing behind him as stealthily as she could.
He moved quickly and quietly; if it hadn’t been for the moonlight pouring in through the windows, Hermione wouldn’t have been able to see him at all.
Malfoy glanced out the window for a moment. The full moon looked especially beautiful tonight. In fact, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it, and the more he stared at it, the more enticing it became.
He grunted softly, hunching over slightly. This strange sensation… it seemed like he had felt it before. His limbs were screaming in pain as they stretched longer, and his nails were rapidly growing into long, pointed instruments of torture. He looked at the faint reflection of himself in the window, and saw that there were thick, dark tufts of hair sprouting from all over his body. He backed away from his reflection in horror.
This can’t be happening, he thought. It was… only a scratch…
But he couldn’t deny the truth any longer. He was becoming a werewolf.
Hermione had witnessed it all. She watched as dirty white fur covered Malfoy’s body, which was also changing shape. His arms and legs were stretching so that she could see the outline of his bones. When he moved to the side, she noticed that his torso was now completely bare, and his ribcage was protruding abnormally from his chest. She stood extremely still behind the wall, paralyzed with fear.
Malfoy stumbled down the hallway, feeling his way along the walls, when a thought suddenly occurred to him. If he transformed in the middle of the castle, a lot of students could get hurt. And it would be blatantly obvious that he was the one who did it after the full moon’s light faded away and he turned back into his human form.
I need a place to transform, he thought.
Currently, he was somewhere on the fourth floor. That was all he knew. The only place that came to mind when he thought of “safe” on the fourth floor was… the Room of Requirement. It couldn’t be too far away. All he had to do was find the door.
He lifted his head with a wild look in his eyes, slowly limping forward. Where was the entrance to the Room of Requirement? He was slowly losing the ability to control his thoughts, to even hear them. The transformation was taking effect.
Suddenly, he saw it. There was an elaborately decorated door right in front of him which was giving off an aura that called to him, and invited him to open it and come inside. He placed one furry hand on the handle and went inside, but as soon as he did, the room began to change shape. It was turning into a steel cage, and the door became a small, barred entrance. Malfoy clawed at the walls, trying to find a way to get out, but his efforts eventually exhausted him and he gave up. He was trapped inside.
Hermione had seen the whole thing. She had followed him out of curiosity, and now she had finally come to know what was happening. Now she watched as he tried to get out of the cage that had formed around him as soon as he had stepped inside. She suspected that the Room of Requirement had immediately sensed that he was a danger and had locked him inside, despite its usual catering to people’s needs.
She cautiously inched closer to the Room of Requirement. Why could she see it? Why was she able to see him inside the room? Usually, it didn’t work that way. But now, she could see everything; the steel cage in the wall, Malfoy rattling the bars, and the edge of the full moon through the small, rectangular window.
She was now standing directly in front of the cage that Malfoy was entrapped in. He caught sight of her and began thrashing wildly against the bars of the cage once again, only to find that it wouldn’t budge. He stepped back into the shadows and howled. Hermione watched, fascinated, despite how scared she was. She could almost hear her heart pounding as she gently placed her hands on the bars of the cage.
“Malfoy?” she whispered.
The werewolf inside howled again and struggled to let himself out. He only glanced momentarily at Hermione before continuing to try to break out of the cage. He scratched at the steel bars, scraping the side of Hermione’s wrist in the process. She gasped and backed away, clutching her hand. Large, dark beads of blood began to form and drip down her arm onto the floor. She bit her lip, trying not to cry out in pain as the cut stung and throbbed. She felt queasy at the sight of so much of her own blood, so she squeezed her eyes shut and tried not to vomit, leaning against the wall behind her.
When she opened her eyes a few seconds later, she saw an empty cage. The bars were bent, and it looked as though Malfoy had suddenly escaped. Hermione looked around but saw no clues as to where he had gone.
Her wrist was still bleeding profoundly; she fumbled for her wand in the pocket of her robes. Once she had located it, she unsteadily aimed it at the gash in her wrist and managed to stop the bleeding. Then, she sank down against the wall behind her and wondered what had just happened.
She sat there for a few moments, panting and trying to ignore the aching pain in her head. Was this what Malfoy had been hiding all along? Now that she thought about it, he had showed a lot of obvious symptoms that she had somehow overlooked. She wondered if this was the first time it had happened. The first time he had transformed.
All of a sudden, a piercing scream echoed through the hallway. Hermione closed her eyes and covered her ears, but not before she realized something. Malfoy, the werewolf, was loose in the castle. There were students inside, and if he caught sight of them, he would probably attack. Had he come across an unsuspecting student and slashed them into oblivion?
Even though Hermione knew it wasn’t her problem to deal with, she felt that she was responsible in some way, and she quickly forced herself up and started to run in the direction of the scream. Not far from where Malfoy had transformed, a small crowd of students had formed around what appeared to be an unconscious student’s body.
“What happened here?” Hermione asked a group of fifth-years huddled together at the edge of the crowd.
They all turned to look at her before one girl with a long, blonde braid down her back spoke up. Her voice shook as she said, “There was a… a werewolf here, and M-Marie was just standing there talking to Tomas before it… it –”
The girl burst into tears, and one of the other fifth-years put his arm around her, whispering words of comfort.
So Malfoy had been here. “Did you… see which way the, er, werewolf went?” she asked hurriedly.
The girl shook her head. “I don’t know. It might’ve gone to the F-Forbidden Forest,” she said through her tears. “But… why? Y-you aren’t thinking of going after it, are you?”
But Hermione was already gone. She had walked away from the crowd as fast as she could, and had started sprinting towards the exit that led straight to the Whomping Willow. She didn’t know exactly where Malfoy was, but for some reason she felt she needed to.
As she neared the exit, she saw that the door had been broken down. She cautiously stepped over it and then stopped short at what she saw. The tree stood as tall and daunting as ever, and Malfoy was lying next to it, moaning quietly. There was blood seeping from a large gash on the underside of his stomach. Hermione hesitantly walked towards him. He didn’t seem like he would attack her in the state he was in, so she bent down next to him and placed a gentle hand on his fur-covered back.
He whimpered and looked up at her. Hermione noticed how his eyes were still the clear blue they had always been, even though his pupils had grown larger and darker. His fur was a dirty white color, and it felt soft between Hermione’s fingers. She started to stroke him, and he grunted in approval.
Then, Hermione took out her wand and pointed it the gash in his stomach. It was still bleeding, and Malfoy was curled up in pain. She used a spell which had never failed her in the past, and the wound stitched itself up in a zigzag pattern. Satisfied with her handiwork, Hermione sat back and examined the werewolf in front of her.
Malfoy had rolled onto his back. Hermione could hear his heavy breathing as he cautiously tried to lift himself up. He placed both paws firmly on the ground and pushed, but to no avail. He fell back down and let out a low, wounded howl.
“So this is why you’re so angry all the time,” Hermione muttered, slowly running her hand over his fur. He looked at her with wide eyes. She was taken aback by the sorrow she saw in them. It was almost as if he knew what had just happened to him. She wondered how he had gotten the injury on his stomach, and then realized that he must have been trying to get past the Whomping Willow.
She stood up and searched the grass for a long branch. Once she had located one, she picked it up and cautiously moved towards the small button on the trunk of the tree that stopped it from moving. Malfoy lifted his head and looked up at her curiously as she used the branch to push the button. Then, she sat back down on the ground, leaning against the tree and taking a few deep breaths.
To Hermione’s surprise, Malfoy dragged himself over to her, being cautious of his injury. Then, he slumped against her knee and closed his eyes, resting his paws on her leg.
Hermione let out a small gasp. It was a strange feeling, having a werewolf sleep on one’s knee. But when she tried to inch away, he only dug his claws into her leg, which was painful enough.
She sighed and then studied Malfoy for a few seconds before closing her own eyes. She was exhausted after all that had just happened, and it felt good to finally give in to sleep. Just as she was about to drift off, there was a loud crack some twenty feet away.
She squinted at the dark figure that seemed to be approaching. Was it just her imagination? She attempted to sit up, but Malfoy protested, growling and digging his claws deeper into her leg. So she stayed where she was. The figure was coming closer, but she still could not make out who it was.
Then, all of a sudden, the figure turned into a black cloud of smoke and vanished into thin air. Hermione sat there for a few seconds, wondering if she had really seen someone approaching. Then, she decided she had just dozed off for a second, and after a few moments she drifted off to sleep with Malfoy still snoring softly by her side.
A/N: Did you guys like it? I'm actually really proud of it, hehe. Well, a lot of work went into this chapter, so I'd be really happy if you reviewed! <3 Go on... review! ;D Btw, was the "Dramione" stuff up to your expectations? I hope it was, teehee. There'll be more in next chapter so ...I'll post it soon, and if you want to check for updates, just look at my author's page. thank you!<3