They awoke in the same position that they had fallen asleep in; Draco was holding onto Hermione’s waist and she held his hand between her fingers. For a moment, Hermione had forgotten what had happened the previous evening but as soon as she opened her eyes, it all came back to her like echoes from a forgotten dream.
“Draco?” she whispered. “Are you awake?”
She rolled over and faced him. “I slept surprisingly well last night. Considering there are death eaters looking for us.”
“I completely forgot about that,” he said honestly. He kissed her.
Laughing, Hermione pushed him away. “We can’t just kiss all day.” She crawled over him and off the bed to the table. She took two apples and a bowl of nuts from the cupboard and decided to call it breakfast. “We have to get back into the castle.”
Draco moaned. “Can’t we stay here instead?”
“If we stay, they’ll find us for sure.”
“Okay,” he said as he sat opposite her. “But not yet. Maybe in a few hours? It may be best under the cover of nightfall.”
She gave in and they sat bathed in the joy of their attraction. Draco watched her as she nibbled on her apple.
She looked up at him. “I still don’t believe it,” she said incredulously.
“Believe what?” he asked as he threw his apple core into the bin.
“I thought the same thing for a moment, then I got over it when I was kissing you.”
She laughed. “I’m serious, Draco. This time last week I would have never ever -”
“Don’t mind my feelings,” he joked.
“I just never would have imagined this.”
“You mean you never imagined that I would be likeable enough to be in a relationship with. But yeah, I understand. You annoyed the hell out of me in class, but that was probably because I liked you so much and I couldn’t tell you.”
“Be in a relationship with?” Hermione asked timidly.
“Well, what else would you call this? You don’t think this is a one-off, do you?”
“No, of course not,” she replied. “I just wasn’t sure that you would want me.”
He sighed. “Trust me, I would not have kissed you like that if I didn’t want you.”
She blushed. “Really?” He nodded, defeated. “And you won’t take it back once we’re out of here?”
“No, I won’t. But what about you? Will you still have me once Weasley’s back in the picture?” He looked at her intently as the realisation spread onto her face.
“Oh my god. I completely forgot -”
“That you two -?”
“I don’t think I like him anymore. I know it seems strange, but I think when I was with you, I realised that I never really felt that strongly for him. It was just a silly crush.”
“You mean once you found someone better…?” he asked with a smirk.
“To put it bluntly, yes. I just hope that he and Harry will understand.”
“Are you mad? They’ll be pissed. I’ll be surprised if they ever speak to you again.”
Hermione looked shocked for a moment and then held her head in her hands. “I really hope not.” She looked over at him and he could tell that an important question was building up in her mind. “So did you not mean it? Any of the things you said to Harry and Ron?”
“Of course I meant it. I hate those two.”
“But you said you didn’t mean the things you said to me. You said you didn’t hate me.”
“No, I really hate them. Absolutely detest them.”
“But - why?”
“Everybody thought that the sun shone out of Potter’s backside and well, Weasley’s Weasley, isn’t he? A blood traitor.”
Hermione scoffed. “You are such a hypocrite. Just because the Weasley’s like Muggleborns…and-and muggles? You like me, so in effect, that makes you a blood traitor too!” She folded her arms and stared at the many things Hagrid had tied to the ceiling.
“You got me there, Hermione.” Draco moved around the table and pulled her up. “I guess I am a blood traitor.”
He pressed his lips to hers, but she turned away. He saw her smile.
“Don’t think all’s forgiven,” she muttered.
“I had the impression that everything was forgiven since yesterday.”
“Oh gosh if Harry and Ron ever found out…” Draco wound his arm around her waist from behind.
“You mean, when they find out.”
The thought had not passed Hermione’s mind that she would have to tell Harry and Ron about her relationship with Draco until this moment. Last night, she had felt as if nothing in the world had existed besides Hagrid’s hut and the things that resided within it. She wondered how she would start, or whether she would just approach them, holding Draco’s hand and let them figure it all out for themselves. No doubt there would be endless questions and angry expressions on their faces, but Hermione would just have to deal with it. Not alone, but with Draco.
But she could not help but wonder whether the whole thing was a good idea, whether or not she was just a hormone-rampant teenage girl. Any other witch her age would do that same thing, right? If someone else was trapped in a life-threatening situation with a good-looking boy, they would develop feelings too, wouldn’t they? She could not continue with this, surely. It was Draco Malfoy! For as long as they were alone she could, but as soon as they were rescued she had to find a way to tell him that no meant no and that they would never ever speak of this event again.
At nightfall that evening, Hermione and Draco prepared to leave Hagrid’s cabin and make their way back into the castle to the highest level of the castle they could get to. In order to avoid the front door and the Great Hall, they planned to go into the greenhouses and inside the castle through one of the windows on the lower perimeter of the castle.
Both barefoot, tired, dirty and afraid, the pair exited the stone house with their wands in their hands and their eyes fast and alert. Their shadows danced across the grey stone walls as they ran briskly across the grass. They stopped briefly when they passed the greenhouses to catch their breath, but then continued around the castle until they reached a low window that lead to the dungeons.
Hermione pushed it open and water gushed out at their feet, sending a chill right to her face.
“You flooded the entire dungeon!” she accused.
“It got us out alive, didn’t it?” Draco retorted. He got on his hands and knees and looked inside. The water filled most of the corridor, but there was enough air space for them to get through safely. “I’ll go in first then.”
He pushed his legs through and slid in, the water splashing around him. He shivered as he treaded the water. “Granger,” he whispered.
“Coming,” she muttered nervously. She pushed her wand behind her ear and went in after him, nearly exclaiming in fright at the low temperature of the water.
“Lumos.” Draco held out his wand ahead of them and it glowed a bright blue. “This way.” He pointed towards the path up to the Entrance Hall and Great Hall as they waded through quietly, ready for any hint of company, ready for any surprise.
Hermione watched Draco as they swam. He had a fierce ambition in his expression. It was as though they had never been enemies. They were being civil, friends, partners and it troubled Hermione to think of how long it could last. Hours, months, years?
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” she whispered.
“To be honest it’s the stupidest thing I’ve done in my life. Walking right to the enemy …”
“So that’s what you think I am?” Hermione said, deeply offended.
“What?” he frowned.
“Well, if you think I’m the enemy you can just -”
“I meant You-Know-Who.”
Hermione looked at him nervously. “Oh.”
“What were you talking about?”
“Oh - erm … nothing …”
Draco raised an eyebrow knowingly. “Sure … listen, Granger, I know you don’t trust me and think I’m using you, but when bad things happen it makes you re-evaluate your life. I’ve was a real idiot before and this situation has … let’s just say, I’ve have an epiphany, a revelation. I can’t be a stereotype anymore. I refuse to be. Typical bullying Slytherin. It’s boring. Sure, I’m never going to be a Saint, but take it or leave it.”
She said nothing as the water began to lower. Anything she was prepared to say would surely offend him, so she chose to say nothing for the time being.
Draco watched her as she stayed silent and held his arm out as they came out of the water and onto the staircase. He knelt down and she followed. “We don’t know what’s up there. He could have death eaters patrolling outside the Great Hall.”
“Doesn’t make a difference. The quicker we’re out of the dungeons the better.”
“What?! You’re just going to go up there without looking?”
“You’ll have my back,” he said smiling.
“Nox.” He put the light out on his wand and felt his way up the staircase, following the distant candlelight from ahead. Hermione hurried up, tripping over multiple times and trying to grasp onto his ankle to stop him before they were caught.
“Malfoy,” she whispered over and over again.
Ignorance was a thing he was good at, so he persisted and reached the top of the staircase. He peered out to see two death eaters stood outside the Great Hall. They were silent, with their wands out, pacing.
“They must still know we’re here,” Hermione whispered over Draco’s shoulder.
“On three,” he replied. “One …”
“Two …” Draco stepped out and said, “Stupefy!”The shot cut through the air and hit the first death eater square in his back and he fell forward onto the other. “Run!”
Draco grabbed Hermione’s hand and darted across the Entrance Hall and headed for the staircase. Beside them, crumbling rock from the stairs flew up to their faces and all around them; spells were being fired from behind. Instantly, Hermione felt Draco take off faster and felt him pull at her arm harder. Hermione turned around for a split second to fire a spell non-verbally. The purple streak hit the remaining death eater and he or she fell into the doors of the Great Hall with a high-pitched yell as more death eaters came into view. Hermione would have celebrated her third official use of non-verbal magic had to not been for the multiple hooded figures firing spells at them.
Feet aching, they sprinted down the corridor, nothing but wind in their ears until they got to the staircase. Ribs sore and lungs tight, Hermione followed Draco as he took the stairs four at a time, launching high like a feline.
“Get them!” came a distant yell. Hermione heard at least four pairs of feet follow them, but daren’t look. She was glad that the anti-apparition jinxes in the castle were used to their advantage; the death eaters couldn’t apparate here and must have been at least double their age so they were slower than they were. Then again, Hermione doubted her fitness mattered in a situation like this. She was running for her life. Yet Draco was still at least a few metres ahead of her and her heart felt like it was being squeezed between an iron vice.
“Impedimenta!” The spell shot from Draco’s wand, causing a death eater to stop in time, but four others ambled on, shooting spells and sending brickwork and pieces of marble flying in every direction. The witches and wizards who occupied the photograph frames scattered about and hid to avoid the spell-fire and various tapestries and curtains had started to burn, the fire and smoke polluting the air, making it difficult to breathe.
“Hurry up, Granger!” Draco shouted. He held out his hand as the staircase he was on began to swing to the right. Hermione sprinted up to the edge of the stairs she was on, bracing herself for the jump. Just as she reached the final step, when she was confident that she would make it, a spell hit the banister and sent clouds of dust into the atmosphere as well as a reverberating burst of air that pushed her off centre and off her target. She had lost her balance. Heart jerking, Draco leapt forward and grasped Hermione’s hands as she began to fall.
“Don’t you dare let me go!” she told him. Her legs dangled from the edge of the staircase as Draco grasped her arms. She screamed. A spell had grazed her leg and split the skin; she bled. “Pull me up!”
He leaned backwards, pushed the bases of his feet into the stone step and used all of his might to get her up before the staircase joined with another and squashed her completely. She fell onto his heaving chest and hugged him tight. He guessed that was her thank you. But then she pressed her lips to his quickly and if his face wasn’t already red, she would have been able to notice his blush.
Too worried to reciprocate, Draco gripped his wand with his sweaty hand and crawled up the staircase while the death eaters kept shooting at them. Looking back, he waited for Hermione to go first at a slight limp because of her ailing leg.
They were losing them … the death eaters were getting further and further away …
Once they reached the third floor, Hermione took a sharp left down a corridor and planned to go to a secret passageway Harry had mentioned to her years before, but as she turned the corner, she heard Draco scream out in pain and fall to the ground.
“No,” she muttered. He could not be hurt. She couldn’t do this all alone. She sprinted down to get him and looked at the damage. It looked like the contents of his chest had exploded onto him, his shirt soaked with dark red blood. His arm and side of his chest had been slashed and he shook as he held himself.
“Draco …” Hermione was on her knees trying to see what she could do. But there was no way to stall the bleeding …
A flash of light entered her eyesight and she raised her wand, yelling “Expelliarmus!” sending the spell back out into the staircase where the death eaters were bound to have caught up.
Hermione pushed her arms under Draco’s from behind him in order to drag him, but he moaned and writhed. He was in pain …
“Come on, Draco.” Hermione whispered gently into his ear to calm him down. “I need to move you … or we’ll die.”
He closed his eyes, breathing heavily and then nodded. She braced herself and dragged him, her bare little feet shuffling across the rock-covered ground as fast as she could while he tried his best to stall him moans of agony. Her eyes looked for a tapestry, she couldn’t remember which one … Was it a giant? … then she saw it. Just as she could hear the death eaters advancing, she leaned backwards and slipped behind a tapestry depicting a house elf riot. There was instant darkness as they fell onto their backs - and definitely some cobwebs.
Upon their fall, Draco moaned in pain and Hermione gently put her hand over his mouth. Still from behind him and below him, she whispered into his ear, “Just a little longer, Draco, you can do it.”
Her ear turned towards the corridor as she heard the death eaters pass. She held her breath.
“I know,” he said, stroking his hair soothingly and rocking gently from side to side. “I know.” A tear fell from her eye. “I wish Harry and Ron were here.”
Draco nodded. He knew she did. He knew she’d rather be with them than with him. “Anyone but me, right?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Although … I did have doubts. I still do …”
“A-about?” Draco said after wincing. He looked up and all he could see was darkness, yet he still felt Hermione holding onto him tightly - that was probably her fear.
She bit her lip and sniffed. “N-no matter how much you say you don’t care that I’m me and that -”
“WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY?!” A voice yelled from outside the room. It was Bellatrix, there was no mistaking the shrill tone of desperation and hysteria.
Hermione and Draco froze. It was as if she were right beside them.
“Just leave it,” she ordered from the other side of the tapestry. “They’ll come out eventually. They have nowhere to run. Tell the Dark Lord that we wounded them.”
Footsteps faded and eventually Bellatrix moved away from where they hid.
Hermione caught her breath and continued at a controlled whisper. “No matter how much you say you don’t care that I’m muggleborn, I know you’re lying.”
Draco tried to face her but the pain in his torso caused him to collapse on top of her again. He stayed still. “Y-you’re right. It does m-matter to me … It matters because … it’s the reason my p-parents will hate me. It matters because it’s the reason I’ll be d-disowned and removed from the family tree and … any thoughts of an inheritance will go out of the window.” He licked his parched lips. “It matters because it’s the reason I’ll have to change who I am to be with you.”
Hermione raised a suspicious eyebrow and smiled sceptically. “Get real, Malfoy. You don’t plan to stay with me once we get out of here.”
“I’ll sure as hell try, Granger.”
“But why? Why would you give up everything to be my boyfriend? Surely I’m nothing compared to the cosy lifestyle you have!”
“Of course you’re not. But this - us … it’s enough for me to realise that there’s m-more to life than money.”
Draco sighed. “And blood.”
Hermione lit her wand. The gash on his arm and chest bled out continuously and Hermione felt around for something, anything around them. She felt a cloth, a curtain maybe, gave it a pull and it fell onto them. She severed off a huge patch with her wand and held it over his wound, pressing hard. He groaned but she put her hand over his mouth so that he would be quiet.
Draco looked down at his wound. “Y-you see,” he breathed as she slowly removed her fingers. “My blood is the same colour as yours. Only … there’s more of it leaking onto the ground.” He gave a light chuckle.
“Oh be quiet,” Hermione said with a smile. “We need to get you to the Hospital Wing before they realise where we are.”
“M-madam Pomfrey’s not here, Granger.”
“I know,” she muttered as she hauled him up. “But you need to rest and hopefully we’ll find something for your arm. Can you stand?”
“Yeah.” Draco leaned against the wall, swear words, curse words, many many bad words pouring from his lips.
“Are you okay?” Hermione rushed.
“Peachy.” Draco put his arm over her shoulder with the wounded half of him on the outer side. Hermione tried to carry most of his weight as she led him down the dark corridor with her lit wand before them. All sorts of things were piled up in the passage, disused books, chairs, even some old Weasley Wizard Wheezes products that had either been used or failed Fred and George’s testing procedures. After climbing over a few crates with great difficulty, the pair emerged on the floor above, just left of the Hospital Wing.
Looking around, Hermione dragged a hobbling Draco across the corridor and pulled on the handle. It was locked. “Alohomora.” The latch pulled across from the inside and they slid inside, locking the door behind them.
Draco collapsed onto the nearest bed, holding in his screams.
Hermione put her arms up towards the door. “Muffliato.” She turned to him. “You can yell all you want now.”
“OH MY GOD!!! OWWW! JEEZ … Ahhhh … ” Draco let out all of his frustrations while Hermione searched in the Matron’s office and store cupboards for supplies. She never before appreciated how resourceful Madam Pomfrey was; there were remedies for most conditions in her stocks, from treatments to the common cold, to lotions for dragon pox. After getting lots of bandages and antiseptics, Hermione grabbed a book named ‘1001 ways to Heal: The Basics’from the shelf and ran to Draco’s bedside while he moaned.
“Ssshhh,” she soothed. “Just one more minute, Draco …”
“One m-more minute? I-I’m bleeding onto the floor.” And he was right. The blood slipped off the bed and was creating a thick pool beside her feet.
Hermione was terrified, but ripped off his shirt nonetheless.
“Okay, this is going to sting.” She poured a green liquid onto a cloth and pressed it to Draco’s wound.
He yelled out and it even brought a tear to her eye to see him clutch onto the sides of the bed. His whole body went red as his body tensed up. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry.”
He settled a little when she took it away. Pulling out her wand, she copied an incantation from the book she sped through to stitch up his wound.
“Did you not notice that I must have lost pints of blood?” he muttered weakly.
“That’s was this is for.” She unscrewed a bottle of a blood-rejuvenating potion. It was white and thick. She held it to his lips and he sipped.
“Not bad,” he whispered. Hermione smiled.
Once he had finished taking the allotted dose, she wiped his face down. There was sweat, tears and blood on his cheeks, in his hair … he looked a real mess.
“Thank you,” he said. “You’d make a great Healer.”
She shrugged and turned to her own leg, treating it in almost the same way, gritting her teeth as she cleaned it.
Gazing down, she said, “ Look at the state of me.”
Her shirt was covered in Draco’s blood, nearly all red and damp. The skirt was just a little bit torn. She pulled the shirt off and put it in a sink in the office. She put both of their shirts to soak while they laid on beds, wrapped in blankets; there was no heating. Hermione conjured her famous floating bluebell flames in a tall glass that she found on the windowsill and they both huddled around it.
“I was going to tell you we couldn’t continue our … relationship, but … I am glad you’re here with me,” Hermione admitted. “No matter how ungrateful I sounded earlier.”
“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be alive,” Draco replied. “Moan all you like.”
She let herself smile.
“You see … I’m not that bad, am I?” he joked.
“No, you’re not …”
“So being locked in a castle with Draco Malfoy and a dozen psycho death eaters has it’s perks?” he asked cheekily while he held her hand.
“Definitely … this is …” Hermione’s voice drifted off, afraid of where it would lead.
“You can say it,” Draco prompted.
“Well, I think no matter how bad things could go … this is easily one of the best moments of my life.”
“Don’t …” Hermione was beginning to cry and turned her face away to hide it from him.
He reached out and gently pushed her face back towards him, but she lowered her chin as if embarrassed.
“It’s okay,” he said.
She hugged him sadly as he kissed her forehead. “This is one of the best moments of my life too,” she whispered. And the words came from her heart. She knew that they were right because she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else if she were to die soon. Hermione was with someone who cared about her and that was more than enough. Draco was her comfort, their unsaid love for each other like cement holding them in place. She was in paradise - even if she was bruised, bleeding and scared to death.
It was after midnight and nearly three days since the Hogwarts evacuation and Ron was pacing the Weasley’s living room, going over the plans he had made with Harry and Ginny to get back into the castle for Hermione. Everyone else was asleep besides them because they planned to leave that evening.
“Right, so we take the floo powder to Hogsmeade …” he said.
“Yeah,” Harry said. “Then we get to the castle as quickly as possible -”
“On foot?” Ron questioned.
“I doubt there’d be any brooms nearby,” Harry said. “But if there is, we’ll take them.”
“Okay, then we go through the front gate -”
“Have you two not listened to a word I’ve said?” Ginny interrupted. “The enchantments are probably still around the castle.”
“You sound just like -” Harry began.
“Hermione.” Ron sat down and put his head in his hands hopelessly.
“Where do you think I got this information from?” Ginny continued. “All I ever heard from Hermione in my first year was the entire contents of Hogwarts: A History. My point is we won’t be able to get in.”
Harry spoke up. “The death eaters got in somehow. They must have broken the enchantments.”
“Yeah,” Ron said, the words giving him hope.
“But what if Snape put them back up?” Ginny’s words brought the boys back down again.
“Thanks for that Ginny,” Ron said gloomily.
“Every time we’ve had an idea, you tell us we’ll fail!”
“Sorry for thinking logically. I’ll let you go all the way to the castle and be disappointed next time.”
The siblings looked away from each other and Harry looked into the fireplace as it glowed for a second. “Guys …”
The three of them crowded around the grate as the face of Albus Dumbledore came into view, half-moon spectacles, silver beard and all.
“Dumbledore!” Harry said.
“Harry, Ronald, Ginny.”
“Evening, Professor,” Ron said.
“Morning, you mean,” Ginny said to annoy her brother. It was after midnight.
Ron rolled his eyes. “What’s happened? Have you been to the castle?”
“I haven’t I’m afraid, Mr Weasley. I was strongly advised by the Minster of Magic not to step foot in or even set eyes upon my castle while it was under threat but while I caught the news of Miss Granger’s disappearance I couldn’t resist.” Harry, Ron and Ginny smiled and listened eagerly. “So I used the floo network, as I am now, to take a little peek into my office to see if the death eaters have broken in yet. They haven’t.”
“Thank God,” Ginny muttered.
“Indeed,” Dumbledore agreed. “Everything was in order except that there was quite possibly more than one hundred extra faces looking down on me. Each portrait that hung in my office had at least a dozen more people cramming in trying to occupy it also. I was astounded, so I asked what they were doing. They said they didn’t want to be in the corridors any more because a duel was occurring on the staircase and people’s frames, their homes were being burnt to dust. Awful. After checking that they were all alright - even if they are all dead - someone came forward to give me details of this duel, a young witch. I wondered how there could be a duel if there were only death eaters in the castle.”
“Hermione,” Ron said.
“Is she okay?” Harry asked.
“I think so, Harry. The witch from the portrait told me that two young students were in a duel. One being Miss Granger, I am sure. The fight started from the entrance hall and went up to the third floor. Half of the castle is destroyed and even the Slytherin Common Room is flooded. Miss Granger would have died had it not been for the young man who helped her.”
“Who was it?” Ginny asked.
Dumbledore looked sternly at Harry and Ron. “Draco Malfoy.”
Ron was silent for a second. Calmly, he asked, “Are you telling me that Hermione is trapped in Hogwarts with death eaters, possibly You-Know-Who and … Draco Malfoy?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore said.
Ron’s face steadily became red.
“You say that as if Malfoy’s worse than You-Know-Who,” Ginny said, thoroughly not impressed with her big brother’s reaction.
“He is,” Ron spluttered.
“Be quiet,” Harry said. “Dumbledore said he saved her life.”
“Yes,” the Headmaster said smiling.” It seems they have struck up a friendship.”
Harry and Ron looked at each other.
“Well, that complicates things,” Harry said.
“No, it doesn’t,” Ron replied.
“It does,” Harry insisted. “Because it means we’ll have to save him too.”
“He doesn’t need saving. Half of his family are in there with You-Know-Who!”
“Ron, shut up!” Ginny ordered. She turned to Harry. “Are we still going tonight?”
Harry nodded and Ginny went to get their jackets from the coat stand.
Ron turned to Professor Dumbledore. “Are you not going to try to stop us?”
“How can I? I’m in the fireplace.” He smiled and watched as they got ready to go.
“Sir, do you know if the enchantments will be up?” Harry asked.
“I’m sure they will be at the gate, but access can be granted from the Black Lake. I‘ll open it up for you as soon as we’re done chatting.”
Ginny muttered something about getting another change of clothes and went off upstairs.
“Can you give us permission to use magic outside of school, Sir?” Ron asked.
“By all means,” Dumbledore replied. “This is a life or death situation. Human lives are at risk. But be warned. Voldemort is inside the castle with reinforcements. Remember what I have taught you Harry. You cannot face him. Not yet. Get in and get out. The Ministry of Magic intends to storm the castle tomorrow evening and I want you out by that time.”
“Yes, Sir,” Harry agreed.
Ginny came down the stairs and Ron began enchanting her bag of fresh clothes to stay dry - a spell he had learnt from Hermione.
“Good luck.” Dumbledore’s face disappeared from the bright green flames.
“Ready to go?” Ginny said.
“We’ve got to wait for Luna,” Harry said. He had written to her last night, as she had asked, telling her the day and time they were going back to Hogwarts.
“What?!” Ron and Ginny exclaimed.
“Listen, we need as many people as we can get and Luna said she’d help.” Indeed her reply said that she would be at the Burrow when they needed her.
“Okay …” Although uneasy about it, Ron marched out into the yard to wait for Luna to arrive, which, according to Harry, would be any time now.
A/N: Well it has been a while since I updated this, but this has gone through so much editing plus I had some writer's block. Finally I have a chapter that's half-decent with some fluffy bits and some action bits. I hope you all enjoy what I have written - so please let me know what you think in that box below x