Chapter 12 : Trials and Truths of the Enemy
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“We need food,” Hermione stated, her stomach growling in agreement.
“Well we can’t just stroll on into any old town and get some. The lady in the Owl Post nearly recognized you last time,” Malfoy replied, bored with the conversation.
“Don’t pretend you’re not hungry too,” Hermione growled back. She was hungry and frustrated and the sight of only two mangled Horcruxes was not enough to lift her spirits.
“Well, what did you do last time? This is supposed to be your area of expertise,” Malfoy gave her an expectant look, his arms crossed over his chest.
Images of fish and mushrooms danced in Hermione’s head. She didn’t much like reverting back to that style of eating but concluded that they had no other option.
“Come on,” she said, heading for the tent opening.
“And where are we going?” Malfoy asked strolling lazily behind her.
“Fishing,” Hermione replied, smirking slightly at the inevitable look of dissatisfaction that would soon plaster itself to Malfoy’s face.
After about twenty minutes of walking, Hermione heard the rush of flowing water. Thank God for tracking spells she thought gratefully.
“This way,” Hermione said, pushing through a small patch of bushes. A furiously rushing river that dropped off at a beautiful waterfall a little ways downstream greeted her. Hermione smiled. It was bound to be full of fish, swimming with the current.
She spotted a slightly grassier patch of land and little further down the river.“If we follow the shoreline downstream just a bit the ground won’t be so rocky and we can sit,” Hermione said over her shoulder. Malfoy responded with a mere grunt but followed her nonetheless.
Hermione had only been walking for about a minute when she stepped on some foreign object. Before she even had time to register what it was, she felt it snap on her ankle causing a terrible and debilitating pain. She screamed hopping violently on the other leg, trying desperately to shake off the cage-like contraption. She lost her footing and before she knew it she had tumbled into the rushing river.
Water filled Hermione’s lungs as she fought to push herself to the surface. She struggled against the powerful force of the current and tried to find her wand. The water had full control over her, sending her spiraling in ever which direction. Her head spun with dizziness from lack of air. Her eyes burned from the water and her body whipped against the rocky river floor. Her arms flailed uselessly as darkness began to close in on her. Suddenly, strong arms wrapped around her and forced her up to the surface. She welcomed the air in a brief moment of bliss before realizing that both she and Malfoy, who still had hold of her, were headed straight for the dangerously high waterfall.
“MALFOY! THE FALL!” Hermione screamed her voice raw from the water.
Malfoy’s eyes went wide as he registered the danger ahead. The both desperately tried to swim to shore but to no avail. The current was too powerful. Hermione drew herself closer to Malfoy, finding strange comfort in not being alone.
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?” Hermione yelled at him while she tried to think of any solution.
“I---“ Malfoy couldn’t finish his sentence. Fear gripped every bone in their bodies.
Exhaustion began to take hold. Hermione fought to keep her head above the water. It was hopeless. The worst part was she had time to think of all those she would miss before she reached the fall. She’d never even had the chance to say goodbye, to anybody. She wondered how the school would react. They certainly wouldn’t be doing this little project again. Professor Noires would probably be fired. And it would all be because she couldn’t fight her way past a waterfall. Death Eaters? No problem, but a waterfall? No way.
Suddenly, the current hit Hermione with a surge of force pushing her even closer to Malfoy. Her hands hit something protruding from his back pocket. His wand! She thought thankfully Of course!
She latched onto Malfoy’s neck and pulled the wand from his back pocket and pointed it to the sky.
“ASCENSIO!” she screamed closing her eyes tight. With incredible force she and Malfoy were heaved from the river. They shot through the air and towards the shore. They landed hard against the slightly grassy ground.
She began to cough heavily as water expelling itself fro her lungs. She rolled onto her back and stared up at the sky dizzy from such an exertion.
She heard Malfoy’s heavy breaths next to her. She turned her head and saw his dripping wet figure collapsed on the ground next to her.
“Are you alright?” she asked, her voice barley more than a whisper.
“Yeah,” He replied with equal exhaustion.
Hermione gingerly removed the metal cage, which she deduced was a hunter’s trap, from her ankle. Her ankle throbbed but thankfully no bones were broken.
They long trek back to the tent seemed even longer than before, especially on an injured ankle. She could barely believe that she’d escaped. Luck seemed to be on her side, it just enjoyed watching her suffer first.
When they finally reached the tent, Hermione only just managed to get a little dittany on her ankle before she collapsed on her bed.
A million thoughts were rushing through Hermione’s mind. When suddenly a pressing question struck her. Why would Malfoy try and save me again? He owes me nothing at this point…
They spent many hours in silence just thinking to themselves. The sun began to set and though they were both hungry, neither dared mention food again.
Hermione faded in and out of sleep. Her mind was troubled and she just couldn’t seem to get any rest.
She sat up in her bed and looked over to where Malfoy was sitting, writing in that strange green journal again.
“What are you doing?” Hermione asked, honestly curious.
“Writing,” Malfoy replied not taking his eyes off his journal.
“About what?’ she pressed beginning to descend from her bunk.
“None of your business,” he said, clearly annoyed, “Why do you care anyway?”
Hermione couldn’t push away the question that had been haunting her. “Why did you try to save me again?”
Malfoy paused still not looking at her, “What kind of question is that, Granger? Did you want me to let you drown?”
“Of course not,” Hermione said keeping calm, “But, it’s not like you were indebted to me in anyway, I figured that’s way you saved me the first time. It doesn’t seem like you’re the kind of person who can let debts go unpaid…”
“I’m not,” Malfoy confirmed.
“Then why?” Hermione asked again as she took a step closer to him.
Malfoy looked up at her. His eyes were filled with confliction and what seemed like sadness. He let out a breath and closed his journal. “Look Granger, I don’t like you. I think you’re arrogant, annoying, stuck up, and a goody goody, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you die in front of me.”
His statement angered Hermione. “Well,” she said loftily, “you seemed perfectly content to let it happen last year. Along with countless other I’m sure,”
Malfoy shot up in a fit of anger, “YOU THINK I LIKED THAT!” he yelled at her, “YOU DON’T KNOW ME GRANGER!”
Hermione stepped closer, her hands on her hips. “You’re right, Malfoy, I don’t know you. It’s kind of hard to figure somebody out when one minute they’re hunting you down and the next minute they’re saving your life!”
Hermione spun on her heel in a huff and climbed back up into her bed. She was finished trying to figure Malfoy out. He was evil and always would be, despite the good things he’d done.
By now, Hermione’s nightly Silencing Charm had become a habit. A habit, that except on the sparsest occasion, she completed without fail. However, in all of her frustration and angry, Hermione had left her wand untouched under her pillow as she drifted off to sleep.
Bellatrix lifted the spell and Hermione collapsed with exhaustion and relief. She opened her eyes and looked at the faces of those surrounding her. Lucius Malfoy looked murderous glaring at Hermione. Narcissa looked at bit scared and Draco looked sad. It was an emotion Hermione had rarely seen on his face. Suddenly, the pain was on her again. Her bones felt like they were melting and she screamed louder than ever. This was it. She was going to die. She felt blackness closing in on her and her scream intensified. It would never end. It would never end…
“GRANGER!” a thunderous voice yelled. Hermione’s eyes snapped open and she pulled out of the same nightmare that plagued her every night. Her eyes scanned the room for the source of the yelling. Malfoy stood at the side of her bunk.
“What’s the matter, Malfoy?” she asked steading her voice.
“What’s the matter? You’re screaming in your sleep! You would have thought we were under attack for God’s sake! What is the matter with you?” His voice was angry and annoyed.
The images of the dream poured through Hermione’s mind. Before she could stop it, a hot tear rolled down her cheek, followed by another and another. Before long, a steady stream of silent tears was running down her face.
Malfoy’s expression morphed. He looked surprised at Hermione’s display of emotion.
“I’m sorry,” Hermione whispered clambering over the ledge of her bunk. Malfoy stepped back and let her land in front of him.
She walked towards the kitchen sink, grabbing the kettle off of the stove on her way.
“Granger…” Malfoy said tentatively.
“Yes?” Hermione replied quietly filling the kettle with water.
“Was—Was I in your dream?” He asked his voice held an uncharacteristic gentleness.
Hermione dropped the kettle in shock. It hit the tile floor and water ran everywhere. Hermione looked at Malfoy who was waiting patiently for her to answer.
“Why do you ask?” Hermione snapped, her attempts at indifference failing miserably.
“You—you said my name, when you were screaming. Y—you asked me to help you. To save you,” he replied nervously. His demeanor was strange. Hermione had never seen Malfoy act this way.
She decided to tell him the truth. She didn’t know why, but something about the way he was looking at her made it impossible to lie. “Yes, you were in my dream,” she started while cleaning up the water on the floor.
Hermione nearly collapsed with shock when Malfoy bent down to help her clean up. They were silent for a few minutes before Malfoy spoke again, with the same nervously curious tone.
“What were you asking me the save you from, Granger?” he asked.
Hermione looked away. There was a part of her that was telling her she could trust him. Trust him with something she hadn’t even told Ginny about. Something that few people knew, something that she never talked about. Another part of her was reminding her that this was Draco Malfoy! A Death Eater! Former Death Eater, the other side countered. Still, A Death Eater! The other side argued. Hermione closed off the internal battle raging in her head. Besides he already know about it she told herself.
Hermione took a deep breath, “I was…a-asking f-for y-you…” Hermione began to choke up. No, she couldn’t tell him. She shook her head. It was too hard.
Malfoy’s eyes were pleading, ”Please, Granger?” he practically begged.
Hermione was startled. He’d said please. Realizing that the information was for some reason extremely important she pulled herself together and continued.
“I...I was asking for you to save me…. to save me from your aunt, Bellatrix,” Hermione finally managed to squeak out.
Malfoy’s reaction was instantaneous. Hermione saw his eyes flash angrily and his lip curling around his teeth. Suddenly, all the anger was gone and it was replaced with utter despair. He sank into one of the armchairs with his head in his hands.
Hermione stood motionless, not completely sure what to do. She took a small step towards him leaving the remains of the water on the floor.
“Malfoy…” she started, her voice wavering between confusion and sympathy.
“Just don’t, Granger,” Malfoy snapped.
Hermione was taken aback. She had just revealed one of her deepest secrets to Malfoy and he had the nerve snap at her. It was unacceptable.
“NO, you don’t, Malfoy!” Hermione retorted with conviction, “You don’t get to act like this! I was the one she was torturing, NOT you! You just got to hang around your little mansion and be a good little rich boy! So if anyone is going to sulk and be angry it’s me, do you understand!” she practically yelled.
Malfoy’s head snapped up. The anger in his eyes burned deeply. “You don’t know me, Granger,” his words echoing their previous conversation, “You don’t know what it was like. None of your kind does. You assume that it was all fun and games for me, right? YOU’RE WRONG, GRANGER! I know you’re not used to being wrong but this time you are!” Malfoy was teeming. His fists were clenched in balls of rage. His breathing was labored and his face was contorted.
Hermione opened her mouth to retort but Malfoy cut her off, “You’re lucky,” he said, his voice suddenly quiet, “You had a choice, good or evil, me? I had no choice,”
Hermione looked at him seriously, “We always have a choice.”
Malfoy matched her gaze, “It’s easy for you to say that. You didn’t have the constant presence of evil breathing down your neck, watching your every move. It’s easy to say I could have chosen to be good but in reality I couldn’t. I was born into evil and whether I liked it or not it was my birthright and I couldn’t walk away from it.”
Hermione was consumed by an unfamiliar passion, “You can change now, Malfoy. Stop acting like a victim. It’s up to you, no one else can make you be something you’re not, and you know what Malfoy? I don’t think you’re evil.”
Hermione barely recognized her words. Harry and Ron would probably take her to St. Mungo’s if they heard what she had been saying. Hermione herself couldn’t even explain it, it just felt right.
Malfoy, too, was shocked, “How can you say that? After everything?”
Hermione folded her arms across her chest, “I’ve been seeing your face in my nightmare for months. You were never smiling like you wanted it to happen. I could never read the emotion you felt, until tonight. Tonight, I saw the sadness in your eyes and you only confirmed it after I told you about my dream. You’re not evil, Malfoy. Sure, you may be one hell of a prat but you’re not evil.”
Malfoy regarded her carefully, “I never wanted to be a Death Eater, you know. I actually wanted to be an Auror but my father extinguished that dream the second I brought it up. I hate him. I hate my father for all he’s done. I hated what he turned me into. Everyday, I saw you, Potter and Weasley and I couldn’t repress all the jealousy I felt. You are so lucky to have them, to have a family.” Malfoy finished his sentence, a deep longing creeping into his voice.
Hermione had always thought that jealousy was the root of Malfoy’s hatred towards them but she had never known how truly lonely he was. It saddened her and she couldn’t help but let herself give partial justification to Malfoy’s actions towards them over the years. Perhaps life as a Death Eater wasn’t as easy as she’d imagined.
“Look,” Malfoy continued, “I’m not going to give you my whole sad life story but I’m not my father. You and I have hated each other for years and on the night of the battle you still saved my life. Twice. At first it was just a matter of repaying a debt but I realized how good it could feel, being the hero. Being a Slytherin has its perks but all that ambition can be extremely overwhelming.”
Hermione paused taking in all his words then suddenly burst out laughing.
Malfoy looked at her as if she had gone insane. “What?” he asked slightly agitated.
Hermione giggled, “You Slytherin’s are always humble aren’t you?” she said sarcastically, “Oh, we’re so ambitious it can give us headaches” she mocked in her version of a Slytherin voice, still laughing.
Malfoy raised his eyebrows, “At least we don’t have the Gryffindor ‘we’re so brave and awesome’ demeanor! You lot strut around the school eager to sneak into anything you’re not supposed to!”
Hermione gave him a questioning look, “I though you liked the Gryffindor ‘way of life’? Being the hero?”
Malfoy bent down towards Hermione’s ear. His nose brushed by her cheek sending electric shocks up her spine. Se felt his hot breath against her ear.
His voice was barely more than a whisper, “And if you ever tell anybody I might just have to bring out the Slytherin side of me,”
The threat was intended to be frightening but Hermione just laughed, “Oh, I’ve seen the Slytherin side of you, Malfoy, and trust me there’s nothing you can do that Professor Moody didn’t teach me how to fix,” her lips curled into a wicked smile as she saw Malfoy’s agitated grimace.
After a moment of silence, they both agreed to go to bed. Their emotions were running high and they would need to start their Horcrux search again in the morning.
Malfoy was just climbing into his bed when Hermione spoke again. “Oh and Malfoy…?”
“Yes,” he answered pulling up his covers.
“Thanks, you know for the whole saving me thing.” She replied genuinely gratefully.
“You’re welcome,” he replied before the tent fell silent once more.
Hermione resolved to clean up the kitchen before going to sleep knowing that she would not feel like doing it in the morning.
She quickly finished cleaning up the water off the floor then put away the kettle. Behind her she heard Malfoy’s steady breathing, he was already deep in sleep.
A cold breeze suddenly filled the tent. Shivering, Hermione walked over to the armchair to fetch an extra blanket. Her eyes caught sight of Malfoy’s green journal lying on the side table. A small clear bottle sat next to it. Its contents were strangely colourless. That can’t be ink Hermione thought as she moved closer to investigate.
It took Hermione less than a minute to identify the substance. Veritaserum she concluded. She had packed a small amount for their ‘trip’ as a “just in case” item. But why is it out? She wondered.
Suddenly, the pieces of the puzzle came together in her mind. She had found it odd that Malfoy had shared so much personal information with her but she hadn’t suspected this. He had literally forced himself to tell her. But why? She pondered Why was it so important to tell me? I mean he said it himself he doesn’t even like me! She looked over to Malfoy’s sleeping figure. His face was peaceful and his chest was rising and falling in sequence to his breaths. Why, Malfoy? Why did you need to tell me? She silently asked again.
The question burned in Hermione’s mind making sleep difficult. She had known Malfoy for over 7 years and only now saw what an enigma he was. His every word or action seemed to contradict the last. But Hermione was resolved. There had never been a mystery she couldn't solve, and Malfoy was no exception.
A/N: Hey everyone! I'm soooooooooooo sorry for the super long update time. I was having a little bit of writer's block. Anyway, I had a bit of a hard time figuring out how I wanted to portray Draco's character in the chapter and I would really appreciate if you could tell me how I did....Oh! and how awesome is my new banner! I was so excited to get one...finally!....Thanks for reading!!!!
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