Chapter 15 : Safe and Sound
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He found me curled up on the loveseat in the common room, trembling. I'd already accepted that my body couldn't produce tears, but that didn't stop dry sobs from shaking me, making me gasp for air that I didn't need. My eyes were clenched and I was holding onto my arms that were wrapped around my knees as if my life depended on it.
I barely registered his silent swear as he scooped me up into his strong arms, stroking my hair and whispering things that even my super hearing couldn't catch. I ignored it, letting the silent hysterics overtake me.
It was all too much.
For the past few months, I'd been a vampire. For the past few months, I hadn't been myself. For the past few months, I hadn't been Hermione, the sweet, strong Golden Girl of Hogwarts. I'd been a blood-sucking monster, one that messed with people's minds, one that shared minds with wild animals, one that had too many love interests in her life. That wasn't Hermione. That wasn't me.
It had taken the incident with Lupin and seeing Harry and Ron again to see that.
"Granger, you're ok."
Hawthorne's whisper was hushed, not a question but a statement of fact. I shook my head, still shaking and trembling. I wasn't ok. I wasn't even Granger anymore.
"I'm not," my whisper was cracked, betraying the depth of my pain that tears should have done. His hold tightened on me, if momentarily, then he pulled me up to him and really embraced me. The hammering of his heart was pressed against my ear, pounding through his skin and clothing like a drum. The sound of it both soothed and disgusted me; the sound was calming, but the fact that I could hear it with such clarity disgusted me. "I'm not Hermione Granger anymore."
He snorted, startling me enough for me to pull away. I looked into his silvery eyes, sympathetic, yet mocking. Kind, yet cruel. Hidden, yet open.
Deceitful, yet honest.
"If anyone's allowed to have an identity crisis around here, that would be me," he said mockingly, smirking to hide the life-long pain that flashed in those silvery eyes. I swallowed, looking away.
"It's different for you," I murmured, still not meeting those silver eyes. "You've always been you, no matter what other's thought of you. The Hermione I've been all of my life is gone, replaced by this."
"And what is this?" He asked, matching my tone of emphasis on that last word. I finally glanced up, noticing how intently he was staring at me, and whispered, almost fearfully, "A monster."
"Oh sweet Angel," he said, throwing his eyes up to the heavens as if whoever was up there was sharing in his exasperation. "Hermione, I have seen monsters. You're not a monster."
"I drink blood."
"And I eat medium rare steaks."
"That's not the same," I said painfully, frowning. He rolled his eyes and said "Yes, because you're so misunderstood. Nobody's ever been turned into a vampire before."
I glared at him, although mentally admitting that he was right. I was being immature.
He sighed and let go of me, letting me slide into place beside him. I quickly noticed how his arm remained around me, as if it were the most natural thing in that world.
I breathed in deeply to calm myself, mildly surprised when I smelled that pine-mint-moonlight scent of Draco Hawthorne. For the first time in what felt like years, my body was physically tired and exhausted, though my mind was very, very awake.
"You know you're safe with me, right Hermione?" he whispered, tightening his arm around me. I nodded, turning back into his chest and cuddling up to him. It was insane, so insane it wasn't even amusing, but I felt safe and sound with Draco Hawthorne.
"If you're tired, go to sleep," he said after a few minutes, sounding sleepy himself. I briefly considered going to bed, but decided against it.
"Vampires don't get tired," I breathed, loving the burning feeling his skin caused wherever our skin touched. There was no way I could feel anything for this Shadowhunter, I whispered to myself in the deepest corners of my mind.
"Bull shit," he muttered, and then moved quickly, startling me. He grabbed my waist and pushed me up with his knees while simultaneously laying out on the loveseat and settling me on top of him. Before I could protest, he'd yanked up a blanket I hadn't noticed before and throwning it over us.
"Sleep," he commanded blurrily, despite his hammering heartbeat. I breathed in evenly and cautiously laid my head on his chest. He said quietly, "Can't let my Charge sleep too far away..."
"Will you tell me a story?" I asked his chest in a small voice, ignoring his last comment. He was so quiet that, for a split second, I thought he'd already fallen asleep. However, he began whispering, and his words pulled me into a different world.
"Once upon a time, there was a young boy that everyone called Little Drakkon - everyone being his parents and older sister. Little Drakkon had a wealthy family that loved him, but he'd been born in the middle of a war, so his parents were always more occupied with that instead of him. It didn't help that his parents had to pretend to be the villains and it definitely didn't help that their home had been chosen as the unoffical headquarters for the Evil Snakeman."
His voice had taken on a pained, husky sound, as if he had a sore throat.
"However, his older sister, Leigha, always played with him. They would go on adventures in the castle that their family owned, playing hide-and-seek with the servants. Leigha would always tell Little Drakkon bedtime stories to keep his mind off of the war that his family was involved in. She would hold him as he cried when the Evil Snakeman and his minions would hurt their mum and dad, and she'd rock him back and forth, telling how everything would be alright. When morning came, their mum and dad would find him in her room, cuddled up to her like a puppy to a cat."
I could feel his heartbeat mounting, acting as a background beat to his words.
"The thing that stayed with Little Drakkon was, every night, over the screams that would tear through the bottom floors of the castle, Leigha would hold him and whisper, over and over, 'We'll be alright, my Little Drakkon. Safe and Sound. We'll be alright.' It became the mantra of their lives, said even on the nights that the Evil Snakeman wasn't there for."
His voice rose in pitch slightly, but remained slow, though his heart slammed against his chest.
"One night, as Leigha whispered to him their secret mantra, something Terrible and Awful happened. 'We'll be alright, my Little Drakkon,' she whispered brokenly, trying not to cry, and before she could tell him they'd be safe and sound, the door to her room was blown open and the Evil Snakeman strode in, laughing with Little Drakkon's mum behind him, screaming and crying. Before Little Drakkon could react, the Evil Snakeman had reached over the bed and grabbed Leigha by her hair, still laughing."
He stopped right here, trying to catch his breath. I looked up at him and saw his eyes shut tight with tears, real tears streaming down his face. His voice lowered, becoming no more than a strained breath.
"She screamed. One heart-shattering, wordless scream as he dragged her out of the bed. Our mum tried to stop him, but with one arm, he flung her against the wall and knocked her out. I tried to stop him too, but he just laughed and flung me too, though I landed on the bed. Leigha was sobbing and, as he dragged her out, she screamed one last time. But it was words this time."
His breath caught and he swallowed hard before continuing.
"Safe and sound," he whispered faintly. "Her last words to me had been safe and sound. She was probably being dragged to her death and the only thing she thought to scream was that."
He began shaking and I acted instinctively. I pulled myself up to where we were face to face and I brushed his platinum blonde hair out of his grey-silver eyes. They were rimmed with red and filled with so much pain that I immediately felt terrible for my earlier mundane, dry sobs.
"I never saw her again," he whispered roughly, fresh tears spilling out of his eyes. "We had a funeral for her, but we didn't even know if she was dead. We still don't know. Voldemort never said anything on it, and my parents decided that the case was more important than their daughter."
He took a staggering breath and I watched as the vulnerability left his eyes, going from stormy clouds to cold diamonds.
"It was then that I dedicated my life to the downfall of Tom Riddle."
I tried to decipher this. Was he explaining that he wasn't going to let anyone, especially a vampire such as myself, distract him in any way from his mission? As if sensing my thoughts, the diamonds softened and he tucked a loose lock of bronze hair behind my ear.
"You're not a monster, Hermione."
And he kissed me on the forehead.
That meant so much more than if he would've kissed me on the lips.
"Nor are you, Draco," I murmured shakily, tracing a line down the side of his cheek. This felt so new to me, looking into those grey eyes and not seeing an enemy. I felt closer to him than anyone else, even Harry and Ron.
He wrapped his arms securely around my waist and pressed my cold body to his warm one, pulling his lips to mine. I kept calm on the outside, leaning in, though my mind was screaming at me frantically. I didn't know if this was what I wanted!
"Hey, Hermione I was wondering-"
Cece pranced through the portrait hole, stopping dead when she saw Draco and I on the loveseat. I jerked back and fell off the side of the loveseat in a blur of movement, flinching as she nearly shouted, "Mother of Merlin, I am so sorry! I-I, uh-"
"It's alright," I said shakily, standing up as Draco tucked his face into the crook of his arm. "You weren't interrupting anything."
"I-I-I-I'm really sorry," Cece said, swallowing nervously. She glanced at her naked wrist, muttering, "Oh, look at the time. I have to go talk to Styx about that-that thing I forgot to talk to him about."
Before I could deny anything else, she'd whipped around and all but fled out of the common room, causing the painting of Herondale to ask cheekily, "Where's the fire, oh Dark One?" after her.
I groaned as the portrait swung closed. Yeah, I'm sure that thing involved Dracp and I laying together on the loveseat. Just great.
"You know, Granger, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea," Draco said coolly from the loveseat, still laying on it with his face in the crook of his elbow. Oh, so we were back to last names?
"What?" I asked just as coolly, closing my eyes to gather my strength. I heard his heart calm to a steady beat, then he said, "Us. Pretending to be together. It'd keep your nerd herd away from you and it would explain why we'd be spending so much time together."
No. "Sounds like a plan."
"What?" he asked in a shocked tone, dropping his arm and looking over at me in barely concealed shock. I took a deep breath, trying to contain my sudden anger, and said as evenly as I could, "It sounds like a plan."
"Really?" he asked sarcastically, covering up his small blunder with a sneer. I felt my lips lift up slightly, revealing the tips of my fangs. "Really, Malfoy."
He winced and looked at me with open hurt in his eyes. I immediately felt ashamed and hurriedly walked over to the staircase leading to my room. I made the mistake of looking over my shoulder, seeing him sitting with his face in his hands and I said, ever so softly, "Safe and sound, Little Drakkon."
Then I walked into my room, shut the door and locked it, whispering to myself, "What am I going to do about you?"
I didn't know if I was talking about myself, him, or both.
A/N: So, not the longest chapter, but I'm confident that it was a strong one because I cried while writing it. I dunno, maybe Draco's past is more concrete to me because I see it? Was this chapter as moving for you as it was for me?
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