Chapter 9 : A Hero
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Hermione woke up that morning having slept better than she had in what felt like ages. Draco though, she realized upon entering the kitchen, had definitely not. He was sitting at the table, dozing with his head against his arms that were folded against the table.
She smiled and walked around his seat to the cabinets above the sink. As quietly as she could, she brought down two mugs and began making hot chocolate. He had probably never had the muggle type but it was either this or her throwing up over coffee and she was pretty sure he would go with the former amd reject the latter immideately.
She placed one of the mugs in front of him and silently sat down across him, sipping at her own. As she drank, she studied him. This new Daco... The one that came out yesterday... Had he always been there? Just hidden? Had her future self found the good in him that nobody else had? Would this new Draco stay or would he turn into that same mean, insensitive Draco that they all knew and hated? The one that hated them. Hated her, mostly.
He looked so peaceful as he slept, breathing deeply, his mouth parted slightly. Ever since her discovery of his fear last night, she had begun seeing him under a different light. She had begun seeing him as more of a human.
She was so lost in her thoughts she hadn't noticed that her son was calling her from the kitchen doorway.
"Mom!" He said, shaking her slightly. She jerked back into reality and looked down at him.
She shook her head and said, "Sorry, hun- I was lost in my own mind. 'Morning, love. Come, sit." She lifted him up on to her lap and he smiled as he looked at his father sleeping in front of him.
"Are you both alright again then?" He asked his mother.
"Honestly, love- I think we are", Hermione responded, nodding, "I really think we are."
Just then, Draco jerked awake and looked around, in a daze. He finally focused on the two in front of him who were looking at him with amused expressions on their faces.
He gave them a lopsided half-grin half-smirk and said, "It's rather unsettling knowing that there have been people watching me while I was asleep."
"You look terrible", Hermione said, ignoring his comment. Draco raised a perfectly done eyebrow at her and she smirked and said, "Nothing new of course, but you look extra bad today." She had thrown his words right back at him.
He sat up straight and leaned forward across the table until his face was only a few centimeters away from her's. "Don't", he breathed, "Steal my lines".
She was not frazzled at the slightest. She simply leaned forward herself until her face was closer to his and said, "Or what?" This scarily reminded both of the scene in the penseive that both had seen earlier.
Draco leaned back in to his chair and she stood up, considering herself the winner.
"You think you've won, eh Granger?" He asked, smirking. She placed her mug in the sink and lifted Aaron to take him outside.
"I don't THINK I've won, Malfoy. I KNOW.", She said, leaving the kitchen. He could imagine the smirk on her face. He allowed himself a small smile before sipping at the amazing drink in front of him that his lovely wife had made.
* * * *
"Why didn't you tell me?" Draco demanded.
"Because I-I don't know! I don't know what I was thinking, okay? I was nervous-or-!" Hermione stammered.
"Dammit, Granger!" Draco snarled, kicking the door and making it slam shut. Aaron was at school, Ginny said that she would pick him up, allowing them to have time for themselves. Hermione had told Ginny that Draco had accepted her finally but she'd give her details later.
"I thought we were working together on this!" He continued, facing her, " I thought I could trust you to include me in things!"
When she didn't respond, he continued, "We need to get through this together, do you understand me? You could have told me!"
"Shut up, Malfoy!" Hermione said, raising her voice, "Just shut up for a second! You think this is easy for me? You've just turned from calling me a know it all mudblood to someone who you trust? That's not how it works! You cant just barge in to my life and think that I'll open up my heart allow you a place in it! I can't just trust you!"
"It was just a bloody appointment!" Draco growled, "You couldn't even tell me that you were going to St.Mungos to find out more about our baby!" He didn't know what provoked him to do so, but he did it- he grabbed her shoulders and slammed her against the wall on his left, "It's OUR baby! Not yours alone! We're in this together! You need to trust me! How do I know that you're not hiding more from me? It's OUR baby! It's-"
"I KNOW!" Hermione yelled.
Her eyes were beginning to fill up with tears because her shoulders were hurting and her back had been slammed hard against the wall. Draco noticed and released her immideately, taking a few steps behind
"I know", She said softly, "I know this is our baby. I know we're both supposed to be in this together and I know that I'm... Supposed to... Trust you. But this-what just happened", She massaged her left shoulder with her right hand to indicate that she had been hurt, " This is why Im finding it tough."
Draco looked down at his feet, a feeling of guilt washing over him.
"This, Malfoy, is why I can't seem to be able to. Dammit, I'm allowed to lash out at times- I'm SUPPOSED to lash out- I'm pregnant and I'm expected to have mood swings- but how often do you see me lash out to such extremes? But you? God, Malfoy, you're a whole different case! Even if you're just a little angry, you end up shoving me hard against the bloody wall. You forget everything- that I'm not supposed to have sudden movements like that, I'm not supposed to get hurt, I'm vulnerable- you forget it and you hurt me, physically and... Dammit, in a way emotionally. You don't understand..."
"I'm trying..." Draco said, quietly, "I'm sorry... But... This is me and I cant change myself so suddenly. Even one side of me turning so nice is difficult for me to cope with... "
"I get that", Hermione said, leaning against the wall, "You being nice to the mudblood all of a sudden and all. But... Try to keep your temper in check. Please. I know things that you don't and I'm scared about our future."
"What do you mean?" Draco asked, puzzled, "What do you know? Why're you scared?"
"I'm... Can we not talk about this. I'm not ready to discuss it. Especially with you."
"Can I do anything for you right now?" Draco asked, a part of him hoping that she says no so he could leave and a part of him wanting to prove to her that he would be able to help her if she said yes.
"Can I have some time alone please?" She asked, quietly, going up to sit on the bed. Draco nodded and with one last look at her, left the room.
She lay down on her back and sighed. She could tell Draco about the miscarriage that she had had in the future which Ginny told her about... But would he understand? Would it make a difference? She was scared... Scared as hell that it would happen again if she wasn't careful... If he wasn't careful with his anger. Everything was already so messed up, she didn't think that she could possibly cope with something more.
* * * *
Ritch was outraged. She was angry. She was infuriated. She was upset. She was... She was... She just wanted to slam the man infront of her in the face with a metal pan.
"How can you just break up with me?!" She screeched.
"Ritch... It's complicated but the bottom line is that I can't be with you anymore. Things have really changed in the past few days and...Im not going to hurt Gran-Hermione anymore."
"Draco, what could have possible changed so much to have made you break up with me?!" Ritch demanded, her pitch increasing with every word. Draco winced with each word. Merlin, this woman was worse than what Pansy was in their first years at Hogwarts.
"A lot", Draco answered simply. Ritch glared at him so he tried explaining further, "Um... I told you already... Its complicated. Im not having it any other way than being with her again."
"I thought you loved me", Ritch said, her voice soft suddenly and her eyes beginning to brim with tears.
"I... Im sorry, Ritch. I thought I did too", Draco said, extremely uncomfortable.
"I dont understand... you played with my feelings! I hate you! i absolutely hate you, Draco Malfoy!" Ritch screamed, her volume increasing again, "I hate YOU! And I hate myself! I hate myself for ever having loved you! I hate myself for ever giving you a chance! And I hate myself because even after this, my heart is filled with feelings for you. I LOVE you!"
"Im... there's nothing I can do", Draco said, "Hermione needs me now and I should be getting back to her... Im sorry again and... I hope you find someone who treats you right." He stepped forward and kissed her cheek.
As he stepped out of her office and was about to shut the door behind him, he heard her whisper, "But I love you..." He sighed and shut the door. As he turned away front he door, he noticed a lot of people outside staring at him. He narrowed his eyes at them and snapped, "Show's over- back to work everyone!"
Immediately they all turned away and went back to their work. Draco had come back to work after talking to Hermione in the afternoon. She had had a St.Mungo's appointment in the morning which she didn't tell him about and he had returned home to an empty house and had gotten extremely worried for some reason. She had returned shortly after that and that was when he had lost control and pinned her against the wall.
It was getting dark and he realized it was time he went back home. He couldn't stay away from her forever and she had probably cooled down.
He didn't know what to think of their current "arrangement" anymore. Ever since Wednesday night, he had been staying at her room, watching over her and calming her down if she had nightmares. He would help her around the house and spend more time with Aaron. Things were changing... he was changing. You had to be blind to not notice that. He had realized ever since Wednesday night that there was much more to Hermione Granger than he had thought. She wasn't just a know-it-all bookworm and Potter's sidekick friend, the brains of the trio. No, she was kind, caring and respected you if thats what you deserved. They weren't friends but he didn't hate her. Not anymore. The question was, though, did she still hate him?
- - -
He apparated away from his office back to the front gates of their home. Just as he shut the gate behind him, the muggle contraption that Granger called a "mobile phone" began ringing. He withdrew it from his pocket and pressed the green button just like she had taught him.
"Uh... hello?" He said, still unsure of how to work the thing properly. Was he talking loud enough? Was he talking into the right side at all?
"Draco, listen!" Ginny Weasley's voice rang out. They had still not told him that Ginny knew about their lack of knowledge about the future.
"Weas- Ginny?" Draco said.
"Yes, me!" She said, "Listen to me carefully!-"
The line went dead soon after she had rattled out a speech and Draco wanted to break the stupid thing in his hand because she cut it without waiting for a response. She had spoken so quickly that all he managed to hear was, "Listen to me carefully! Hermione just found...died during....shaken up....made me leave.... she needs a release....not able to cry it all.... Help her.... extremely fragile." Then something about Potter and then she cut it. Stupid phone! Stupid Weasley! Stupid Potter! Would it have KILLED her to speak a little slowly? And what about Granger? Who died? Why does she need a release to cry?
Pocketing the useless device, he hurried to the main door and opened the door quietly. The house, he noticed, was pitch dark and the windows had been opened, cold air rushing inside. A chill ran up Draco's spine as he stepped inside and shut the door behind him. Feeling the wall to his right, he located the light switch and snapped it on. The entire living room filled up with light and he blinked a few times to adjust to it. As soon as he did, the first thing he saw was a curled up Hermione at one end of the sofa, her knees hugged close to her chest and her hair tied loosely in a bun, a few strands loose and framing her face. He didn't have to look very closely to know that she was broken.
He stepped towards her and said, "Granger?"
She didn't respond. She simply stared ahead into the empty fireplace.
"Granger!" He said, snapping his fingers in front of her face. Still no reaction. Fine then.
"You know this is why I get so easily annoyed at you!" He snapped, "You're so bloody stupid. You refuse to talk to anyone when somethings happened and you bloody pester us until you know what it is when something bothers us! Youre weak you know. Bloody weak! Crying at every damn thing!" He hated how rude he sounded. And she did too. Her head snapped up and she stood up, angrily.
"You fucking arsehole!" She screamed, "Im not weak! This is all your fault! Im not upset for no reason! This- the reason we're here- it's all your fault! ITS ALL YOUR FREAKING FAULT, MALFOY!" She began hitting his chest with her fists. He didn't fight back though. He just stood there.
"You're weak. You're blaming people for your own faults!", He said.
"If I wasn't stuck here, I would have had more time with him! I wouldn't be stuck here with you instead! This is YOUR fault! Its YOUR fault he's dead! I HATE YOU! I FUCKING HATE YOU!"
"Im not weak!" She screamed, taking a step closer to him.
"Then prove it! Prove that you're not weak! That you can fight back!" He said, raising his voice and yelling in her face. He knew what he was saying made no sense but he also knew that she wasn't paying attention to context. He knew that she would try and prove him wrong, "Prove it, dammit!"
Then it came. A hard slap across his face. His head snapped to the right and her right hand was in the air where his cheek had been.
"Im not weak!" She screamed, hitting him wherever she could reach. Her fists collided with his chest and before they both knew it, tears were running down her cheeks. He let her hit him. She needed a release, he gave her one. He would allow her to take out all her anger and emotion onto him, "I hate you!"
She began sobbing but never stopped hitting him and he moved not once. He could feel her little punches getting weaker as her sobs grew louder and more tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped to the ground. Just before she could collapse, he moved for the first time and grabbed both her wrists with one hand and encircled her waist with his other arm, holding her up and against him.
"Im not weak", She cried, giving in after trying to fight him off for a few seconds.
"I know you're not", He whispered. He let her wrap her arms around his neck and he lifted her into his arms and off the floor. He began moving to the staircase.
She moved closer to his firm chest and held on to his shirt with everything she had.
"Don't let me fall", She whispered, holding him tightly.
"Never", He said, the words a surprise to both of them. He entered her room and took her to the bathroom first. He sat her down beside the sink and released her, taking a few steps behind.
"You need to clear up your mind a little. Just wash your face... do you want me to wait here?" He asked quietly. Tears were still running down her cheeks. She shook her head.
"Call me if you need anything", He said and left the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He sat down on the bed outside and waited till she was done.
She wasn't out for ten minutes, then fifteen, then twenty yet he could hear the water running. There was a knot in his stomach... something didn't feel right.
He stood up and knocked on the door. "Granger?" He called and when there was no response, he cleared his throat and said, "Im coming in so if you need to... cover yourself up... now would be a good time." He waited for a few seconds and then turned the handle. She hadn't even the locked the door. He swallowed hard and pushed open the door, hoping she hadn't done anything rash.
The sight in front of him made his stomach twist. She was alive, yes.
There she sat, under the thundering shower, fully clothed, hugging her knees tightly and rocking back and forth.
He pulled open the glass shower door and stepped inside, receiving a full blast of the shower. He quickly turned it off and crouched in front of her.
"Granger, look at me", He said softly. She didn't look up. She continued staring down at the floor in front of her. Her hair was plastered to her face, the bun had come loose.
"I need you to get up-we'll put you to bed okay?" He said. The tenderness in his voice was thoroughly surprising and confusing him. She still didn't respond.
He sighed and did the only thing left. He put one arm around her back and slipped one arm below her knees and lifted her up for the second time that hour. She was shivering in his arms by the time they reached the bed. He made her stand for a few seconds and cast a quick drying spell over her.He did the same for himself with the drying spell. He helped her lie down and placed the warm covers over her.
"Do you want me to stay beside you?" He asked. Merlin, this being nice thing was seriously starting to confuse him. She still didn't respond. He sighed and went over to the other side and taking a deep, deep breathe, slid under the covers beside her. Not too far but not too close either- enough for her to know that he was there for her.
Things were quiet for around ten minutes and Draco had begun to think that she had fallen asleep when she suddenly spoke in a strangled whisper.
It didn't hit Draco yet and he asked, "What about him?"
"He died in our seventh year", She responded, turning to her side to face him. He was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.
Ofcourse! He scolded himself, Thats what the girl Weasley was talking about!
"Im sorry..." He said the only thing he could think of.
"Im sorry I hit you", She said softly, "I just needed a release."
"I know, thats why I said all that I did", He said, still staring at the ceiling.
"You didn't actually mean it?" She asked, staring at his face.
"Definitely not", He said and turned his face to look at her.
"I remember when I was little and I used to think there were monsters under my bed, he used to come into my room and-" She choked on her words and blinked rapidly, trying to fight away tears, "- and he used to ask me to crouch beside him... and- and he would hold my hand t-tightly while we both looked under the bed and then- then he would assure me that he would be m-my hero and-and save me if anything happened at night." A tear escaped and fell down her cheek, only to be brushed off by her immediately. Draco turned to his side to face her.
"At night, if I got nightmares, he would", She swallowed hard, "He would sit beside me and hold my hand and- and it worked like magic and I would be calm again. Even after I joined Hogwarts and even after I turned thirteen, he never stopped taking care of me. He never stopped being my hero. He would still come check on me at night and calm me down if I had a nightmare and- and if I had sudden breakdowns, he would just-just hold me in his arms and not ask questions and-and-"
And the tears fell freely. There were too many to wipe away and so she just let them fall.
"How did you find out that... he was gone?" Draco asked.
"Ginny came over and I told her that I wanted to speak to my mum so she told me that she would sit beside me incase my mum mentioned something I didn't know about. And i called her and she answered and-and I asked her how she and my dad were and at that point Ginny gasped and I didn't know anything and my mum answered asking me if I was talking to her and then Ginny took the phone from me and told my mum that I had to go and that Id call back and she hung up. I- I asked her what was going on and she told me that he-he had died in our seventh year because of a muggle disease called Cancer and- dammit, I didn't know what to think. I told Ginny to leave me alone and after a lot of protesting, she took Aaron to her house and left and then you came..."
"You're lucky", Draco said softly. She looked up at him, questioningly, "You had a father who cared about you. Didn't push you to try and get rid of your fears. Didn't lock you in a dark room thinking it would help you get over the darkness. Didn't shove you to the floor or hurt you just because you shed a tear. Didn't call you weak because you showed some kind of emotion. Didn't constantly tell you that you disappoint him. You're so lucky, Granger."
This was the first time Draco had ever told somebody other than Pansy or Blaise about his dad. First time he had ever mentioned his father to anybody but them.
"Where is he now?" She asked.
"Last time in our seventh he was in Azkaban but I don't know about now and frankly, I hope he's still rotting there", Draco answered.
"Do you...do you mind if we go to my father's grave tomorrow?" She asked quietly.
"We?" Draco asked.
"Oh... I mean, I- I don't know if I'll be- I-" She stammered. What was she thinking? Of course Draco Malfoy would not come to visit her muggle father's grave with her!
"I think you should get some sleep. It's been a long day and... We're both too tired to think about anything else", He said. He needed to think over her request.
"Yeah...yeah, okay", Hermione said, nodding slightly. She whiped away the remains of her tears. She suddenly felt a hand around her left and she looked up to see that Draco was holding it with his right.
She slowly removed her hand from his grasp, shaking her head.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to... I just wanted you to know that..." He stuttered, embarrassed. What had made him hold her hand, he had no idea but now he felt plain stupid. Of course Hermione Granger wouldn't allow him, arrogant bloody Malfoy, to hold her hand.
"No, it's okay. I just... I already lost one hero. He left me and now I'm alone and...I don't want to get used to you and then-"
"You're not alone, Granger", Draco interrupted her, "And you're sure as hell not getting rid of me any time soon." She saw him half-smirk half-smile at her and she managed a watery smile back.
She moved her hand closer to his, unsure if she was allowed to hold his hand again. He got the hint and wrapped his right hand around the her left. His grip on her hand tightened and so did her's when he felt her shaking with sobs again.
She wanted to move closer to him and she wanted to be held while she cried. But she knew that was wanting to much. They were not friends, they were not even acquaintances yet. She would be asking too much of him. So she simply kept silent and held on to the comfort he was providing her with through his hold on her hand.
Draco didn't feel uncomfortable for some reason. He had never ever thought that he would get this... Close - physically or emotionally- to Hermione Granger. Perhaps the very thought that he WANTED to help her was what was eliminating the feeling of discomfort the he thought he would have felt. He wanted her to know that he was there for her, that he wasn't a monster.
Suddenly, a thought crossed him. Something she had said.
'I already lost one hero. He left me and now I'm alone and...I don't want to get used to you and then-'
Did that mean that she thought he would be her hero? That she trusted him to be there like her father had been? 'I already lost one hero'... He repeated the same sentence over and over in his head.
He had never been a hero. It was always Potter's job. He was a coward. And he tried to cover that up through arrogance. He tried to show he was strong through fighting and bullying. He tried to show he wasn't weak by making others look weak. That's who he was. A monster, not a hero. He could never be a hero... Especially not to a girl like the one beside him.
Yet the way she was holding his hand, as if her life depended on it. As if she was depending on him to save her from this current state of misery. Could he actually?
Could he actually be a hero?
"Malfoy?" Her sleepy voice cut through his thoughts.
"Yeah?" He said but realized how strangled and cracked his voice sounded. He cleared his throat and repeated, "Yeah?"
"Stop thinking so much, I can practically hear the wheels in your head working", She said.
"Sorry", He said and they fell silent again. He felt his eyes drooping shut when she spoke again.
"I don't hate you", She said.
Those four words. Those simple four words. "I don't hate you". She didn't hate him. She didn't hate him.
He held her hand tighter than before and she let him, knowing that this was... Different for him. Not receiving hate. She felt like she understood him better than she thought she did.
She knew what she had said earlier- the hero thing. She was well aware. And she had meant it. His acts of kindness and the way he cared for her and even gave her a release and let her cry and hit him and everything else he had done for her- they couldn't have been too easy for him. They wouldve been confusing and perhaps uncomfortable.
But if he was trying so hard to prove himself, who was she to stop him?
She would sure as hell give him a chance.
A chance to prove himself and a chance to... Be a hero.
Perhaps, if the future was indeed going to be like this then, be Her Hero.
Hey you guys :) Yay! Draco and Hermione OFFICIALLY went past the hate-stage! I know that I'm taking it pretty slowly and many of you want more intense action but unfortunately I don't want to rush things because it would be slightly unrealistic.
Im so so sorry for the delay in this chapter but I was faced with a few issues which was making it difficult to think straight, but Im better now so I wrote best i could :D And I have a two week break so hopefully a lot will get completed over that time for these stories. I was kinda disappointed with my EHFAR reviews but my god, this story is doing really great! Almost 100 reviews for this one alone- PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE continue reviewing for this one and the other if you want (: But I hope to cross 105 reviews for this chapter- please make it happen!
Anyway, I love you guys so so much, thanks for reading! :)
Until next time,
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