Chapter 10 : Chapter 10
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Hermione met Harry and Ron in a busy corridor. She said a polite hello which only Harry responded to. “Harry, could I ask you to give me a minute with Ron? I just want a quick word. Harry looked at his friends.
“Sure Hermione,” he made a point of getting Ron’s attention, “You behave yourself Ron, okay.” He moved away. Not bothering with any further niceties Hermione began,
“Ron, I need, no… I mean I want to talk to you. We have to sort things out.”
“Not here and not now. Listen, skip dinner this evening; you and I can have something at the Three Broomsticks this evening.”
“That would be a date, wouldn’t it? What would your boyfriend have to say about that?”
“I suppose in a way, it is a kind of date but I don’t need his permission, I can do what I want.”
“And who you want, obviously.”
“Ron, stop that. It’s uncalled for and spiteful. Please stop it. I’ll see you at seven in the pub.”
He entered the pub on time. Hermione was sitting at a table in the most secluded corner alcove of the bar. She was sipping a glass of wine. Ron got himself a Butterbeer, there would be time for something stronger later.
He sat down at the table. “So where do you want to start?” No ‘hello’, no greeting of any sort, he had just jumped in with both feet.
“A change of attitude might help.”
“That’s not going to happen so get on with it.” Rosmerta’s waitress approached, a short dumpy, dark haired girl.
“Good evening, my name is Andrea and I’ll be your server this evening…” Ron was abrupt,
“Well I’d like… I’d like you to shut up and go away. Talk Hermione.” Hermione saw the tears in the girl’s eyes as she hurried away.
“Ron! That was disgusting, inexcusable. Why did you come tonight if you weren’t prepared to talk or more importantly, listen.”
“I’m listening…” They were interrupted by Rosmerta. An unhappy Rosmerta. A very unhappy Rosmerta.
“My waitress is in the kitchen, crying, Mr Weasley. I will not tolerate rudeness towards my staff, finish your Butterbeer and leave. Don’t bother coming back, you’re barred. Not you, of course, Hermione, you are always welcome.”
“Thank you Rosmerta, but please, may we have just a few minutes? It’s very important.” As she spoke she slipped her right hand into her pocket and gripped the small item there. She hadn’t wanted to do this but, dammit, he had asked for it.
“Certainly Hermione. Your wine is on the house.” Hermione thanked her again and Rosmerta left them alone.
“Ron, I had hoped that we could come here tonight and have a quiet snack and talk like reasonable people, like adults. Like you said, that’s not going to happen so I’ll just say what I have to. I’m not going to give you the speech I had planned. I was going to talk about me and Draco. Instead I’ll talk about me and you.” Was that a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes?
“Shut up, Ron, and listen.” She brought her right hand back into view. “There is no ‘me and you’ Ron, not now, not ever, because… because of this.” She held out her left hand and slipped her engagement ring onto the third finger. “Draco and I are engaged to be married. It won’t be anytime soon but it will happen.”
“Marry… him? So you were shagging him, like I said.”
“Why is that always the first thing you think about, Ron?” she said in exasperation, “When you said that before we weren’t, but now, yes, we’re lovers. I know you’ll take great delight in spreading that little tidbit all over the school, but I don’t care. I’m in love with Draco Malfoy. I’m going to be his wife and I don’t give a damn who knows it, so do your worst. Knock yourself out. In fact if you could arrange for me to be there when you tell Pansy Parkinson, I’d really like to see that. Right, I’ve said all I want to. If you have anything to say I’ll listen… if not, I’ll be off.”
“Is he a good shag?” What is the bloody point; she thought and deeply saddened, sighed and stood up.
“Grow up Ron, for goodness sake. But since you asked; yes he is, and d’you know what? According to him, I am too!” She turned away from the hurt look on his face. She was angry that she had allowed him to drag her down to this level.
“Hermione!” she turned back. “I’m… I’m sorry.”
She responded softly and sadly, “So am I, Ron, so am I. That’s not going to stop you though, is it?”
“Like I said, knock yourself out. I really don’t care.” She left the pub and headed back to Hogwarts.
In the apartment Draco was waiting. Concerned that she looked down, he embraced her. “How did it go?” he asked softly.
“Oh, okay. I hope he got the message. What is it with him, Draco? Why is he being like this?”
“Because, like me, he cares about you and he lost you. The fact that he lost you to me…”
“He never had me completely. Emotionally or physically. The only time he showed any sort of affection was when he was trying to get me out of my clothes. That’s probably why he never succeeded. You remember the fantasies I told you I used to have, well Ginny was a better fantasy than he was.”
“Hmm, you’ll have to tell me that one in detail. It sounds horny.”
She laughed, “Shut up you pervert.” She started to cheer up. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow, Draco.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be that bad. I bet you’ll find that there are more people for us than against us. The day after is the first rehearsal, so that’s going to be busy. Fancy an early night?”
Hermione smiled up at him, “Yeah, why not.”
“Come on then, you can tell me all about what you and Red got up to.”
They took their seats at the top table for breakfast. Looking out over the hall, Hermione could see Harry and Ginny talking earnestly to Ron. It seemed as though they were on the verge of an argument. Ron ended the discussion by standing and walking away. Instead of leaving the hall he walked to the Slytherin table where he stopped to talk to Pansy Parkinson. Hermione took her ring out of her pocket, slipped it on her finger, and, keeping it hidden, waited. She vowed silently that once everybody knew, she would never take the ring off again. Ron bent down and spoke to Pansy.
“This should be interesting.” Draco’s dry comment made Hermione smile.
Parkinson’s voice was loud. “What! You’re a lying git Weasley. You’re just jealous because instead of you humping her, he is.” Hermione cringed at that, but when she saw Pansy’s head turn to follow Ron’s pointing finger she ran her ring finger down the side of her nose, clearly displaying the ring. A smile split her face from ear to ear as she showed the back of her hand and wiggled her fingers. Suck it up, Parkinson, she thought. Pansy’s face was scarlet and her mouth was open.
“Pansy seems upset this morning, Hermione, I wonder why?”
“I couldn’t begin to imagine, Draco, no doubt we’ll hear about it soon enough.”
“Indeed we will, Hermione darling, indeed we will.” I know we will, she thought, looking at Ginny.
Later that day they were walking back to their rooms, when they were stopped in their tracks by a loud shout. “Hermione Granger, you stop right there!” Hermione turned to face Ginny Weasley, face as red as her hair, striding purposefully toward her. “I want a word with you! Why didn’t you tell me? I’m supposed to be your best friend, why didn’t you tell me on the train? I would have kept your secret.”
“I know you would have Ginny. I’m sorry. My plan was to tell you and Harry in a couple of weeks, but last night in the pub with Ron changed all that. Ginny you are my best friend, please be happy for me?”
“Happy? You want me to be happy? Hermione, I’m bloody ecstatic. I think it’s fantastic.” They threw their arms around each other. “Congratulations ‘Ne, I love you. You too, Ferret; oh sorry I suppose I should stop calling you that. You’re the closest I’m going to get to a brother-in-law. Draco grinned,
“No problem Red, don’t worry about it.”
“Now then Hermione will you be needing a bridesmaid?”
“Yes I will, Ginny, don’t worry, I’ll keep you in mind.”
“Keep me in mind! Keep me in… You’ll do more than that, Hermione Granger, if you want to live long enough to make it to your own wedding! Don’t rush to confirm it now, anytime in the next thirty sec…” A flash of orange light flew over Hermione’s left shoulder and hit Ginny in the right temple. Ginny collapsed to the floor without making a sound. Hermione and Draco were stunned into a momentary silence. Hermione was struggling to understand what had just happened. Draco knelt beside Ginny and checked for a pulse.
“Draco, what happened… she isn’t…” she couldn’t bring herself to say the word ‘dead’.
“She’s alive, Hermione, but she was hit by a curse, we need to get her to Pomfrey, right now.” He easily lifted Ginny in his arms and set off at a trot for the infirmary. Hermione jogged along behind, still unable to comprehend the events of the last few minutes.
Draco did not stand on ceremony. Reaching the hospital ward he kicked his way through the double doors. Madame Pomfrey came out of her office with a face that looked as though it would kill rather than cure. “What on earth…” seeing Draco with Ginny’s inert form in his arms, she guided him to the nearest bed. “ What’s happened to her?” she asked as he gently lay down his load.
“She’s been hit by some sort of curse,” he pointed to her temple where a bruise was already visible.
“Thank you, Draco. Turn your back please.” Draco went and put his arms around Hermione; the nurse vanished Ginny’s clothes and covered her naked form with a blanket, and began to examine her. Releasing Hermione, Draco said loudly,
“Gabby.” The little elf appeared instantly.
“Yes, Mr Draco, you is needing something?”
“Find Harry Potter. Tell him to come here immediately. It concerns Ginny Weasley. Then find the headmaster and ask him to come as well.” Without responding the elf disappeared.
Hermione was standing quietly, she was bewildered, “Draco, why would anyone want to hurt Ginny?”
“I don’t know, Hermione, but I promise you, I’m going to find out. And when I do…” Harry burst through the door, he had been close by.
“What…” he saw Ginny on the bed, “Ginny, what… oh God, what’s happened to her?”
“She was…” that was as far as Hermione got before her composure broke and she burst into tears.
“She was hit by a curse as we were talking in the corridor, Harry, that’s as much as we know.” said Draco embracing Hermione once again. The doors opened and Dumbledore entered. He walked to Ginny’s bed and looked sadly upon her.
“What’s her condition Poppy?” he asked the nurse.
“Serious. She’s unconscious, but her vital signs are good. I’ve asked St. Mungo’s to send a couple of healers, they are on their way.” Dumbledore turned away to face the others.
“Who can tell me what happened?” Draco passed a still sobbing Hermione into Harry’s arms.
“I can sir.” He walked a short distance down the ward, followed by the Headmaster. Before they could begin to speak the two healers arrived each carrying a large bag and one of them wearing a huge backpack. They conferred immediately with the school medic. Draco started to explain, “Well sir, Ginny, Hermione and I were in the third floor corridor talking. Ginny was congratulating us on our engagement, when she was hit by a curse.”
“Did you hear the curse being cast?”
“No sir, nothing. There was just an orange flash of light. We were the only people there.”
“I see, then we have to find the caster of the spell. Nobody can leave the castle so the person is in this building.” Using a method of communication known only to a very few, he instructed the teaching staff to assemble all the students in the Great Hall immediately. Harry and Hermione joined them.
“Professor, Who would want to hurt her, and why?” Harry was pale and obviously shaken. Hermione was not crying now but her expression was as distraught as anybody had ever seen her. Before the conversation could continue, a high pitched whine filled the room. One of the healers yelled,
“CARDIAC ARREST, get the defib, quickly give me the paddles.” The students watched bewildered and uncomprehending. They knew what ‘cardiac arrest’ meant, but this was Ginny. this couldn’t possibly be happening to Ginny. She was only just seventeen, this could not be happening to her. She was young, lively, vibrant. This was NOT happening. Except that it was.
The healer peeled the blanket down to Ginny’s waist, Draco averted his gaze and Dumbledore placed himself in front of the three, with his back to Ginny and the healers. The healer spoke again,
“Charging three hundred, come on damn machine.” Then, “CLEAR!” Poppy and the other healer repeated the word, indicating that they were not touching Ginny or the bed. The powerful machine overcame any magical interference. Ginny’s body arched as a jolt of electricity passed through it. The whine continued.
“Charging three twenty, CLEAR.” Again the body on the bed went into a contorted spasm. This time the whine changed to a regular pulse. “She’s back.” He monitored the situation for a few minutes before advising Dumbledore. “I was going to treat her here, sir, but now with this development, I must get her to St. Mungo’s. Can you de-activate the apparition ban? We have to leave immediately.”
“Consider it done.” Said Dumbledore, “Which it will be by the time you’ve packed up. Harry, go with them. I’ll inform Molly and Arthur to meet you there. Her brother will be in the Great Hall by now. I’ll speak to him there, and then he can join you.”
Draco exclaimed, “Damn, I should have called him here as well. Sorry, Professor, I didn’t think.” Dumbledore closed his eyes and muttered a brief incantation.
“Ready!” said the healer, and they and Ginny disappeared. Hermione collapsed into Draco’s arms in a dead faint. Draco laid her on a bed and Poppy began to tend her.
“She is fine, leave her here with me. She should be back on her feet in an hour.” Satisfied that Hermione was okay, Draco spoke with Harry before he left for St. Mungo’s.
“If you come back here tonight, come and stay in our apartment. It will give you some privacy. I’m sure you know by now that we have a spare bed. I’ll get it made up and instruct Edmund that you are to be admitted, no matter what the hour. Go on now, go be with Ginny, tell her that Hermione and I are thinking of her. Good Luck Harry” Harry departed.
Having informed Ron and sent him to St. Mungo’s, Dumbledore addressed the assembled school. “This morning one of our students, Ginevra Weasley, was attacked and struck by a curse.” He knew he was about to mislead his charges assembled before him. “She was taken to the hospital wing where… she died.” The shock tactic seemed to work. The whole school gave a collective gasp, several of her classmates started crying bitterly. “Two healers from St. Mungo’s were fortunately in attendance and managed to revive her. She has been moved to the hospital. I will keep you informed of her condition. Whoever cast the curse is fortunate not to be the subject of a murder enquiry.” His lie had had the desired effect. The student body was shocked beyond belief.
“It is a sad fact that the assailant is here, in this room. So I send that person a message. We will find you, be in no doubt of that. We will make every effort and no stone will be left unturned. We will find you. I urge you most strongly to surrender yourself to me. My office door will be open at anytime and no password will be required. I do not believe it was your intention to kill Ginevra, but it is most urgent that we know which curse was used in order to help her. Do the right thing and come and see me as soon as possible.
“Classes are cancelled for the rest of the day, you are to return to your dormitories under curfew. I want you all to reflect on the events of today. If you have any information, however trivial, that you think may help us, please speak to a member of staff. Finally, I know that some of you have religious faith. If you have, I would ask that you pray for Ginevra and her recovery. I will address you all at 9am tomorrow. That is all.”
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