“Hey,” Draco replied, smiling at Hermione who still stood dumbstruck in the middle of the Entrance Hall. “I’m sorry it took so long for me to get back.”
“Draco,” Hermione repeated, hurrying towards him and throwing her arms around him. She was so relieved to see him alive that she couldn’t seem to think completely straight. Questions tumbled from her mouth: “What happened? Why are you covered in blood?” Her voice was urgent as she held tight to her friend.
Draco winced and put his left arm around her, keeping the right one limp at his side.
“I’ll explain everything as soon as I can,” he murmured, holding her against him with his good arm and breathing deeply, inhaling the sweet scent of her shampoo. “Can we get to the Hospital Wing, though? I think my arm is broken…”
Hermione finally stepped back. There were tears swimming in her eyes. She couldn’t believe how nonchalant Draco was being. He looked like he’d been tortured, for Merlin’s sake, and he was so calm!
“I’m so sorry I didn’t come to look for you,” Hermione choked out, looking up at him. Part of her knew that it wouldn’t have made sense for her to go after Draco, but she was more concerned for the situation at hand. Her vision was blurred from her tears, but she could see the concerned look on Draco’s face. “I’m so sorry…” she repeated.
“Oh, Hermione,” Draco whispered, pulling her back into his one-armed embrace. As Hermione’s concentration on her spell wavered, the light at the end of her wand flickered out, and she and Draco were plunged into darkness. The Entrance Hall was silent except for Hermione’s soft sobs and Draco’s whispered reassurances.
“Come on,” Draco murmured at last. “We’ll get me to the Hospital Wing and we can talk more there, I promise.”
Hermione nodded shakily and pulled out of Draco’s embrace, keeping a firm grip on his hand, all the same. Draco smiled sadly to himself, and squeezed the Head Girl’s hand in response as she relit her wand. Hand-in-hand, they walked up the marble staircase and towards the Hospital Wing on the third floor.
“Madam Pomfrey?” Hermione called out as they entered the darkened hospital. There was no response, so Hermione dropped Draco’s hand and ventured further into the room. Lamps flickered on at the end of the ward, and the matron immerged from her quarters. Her gray hair was held under a night bonnet, and she wore a floral dressing gown.
“Miss Granger?” she asked curiously, blinking as her eyes adjusted to the light in the Hospital Wing. “What are you doing here? What’s going on?”
“I’m sorry to be here so late, Madam Pomfrey,” Hermione replied quickly, leading Draco forward, “but…we need a Healer.”
Draco stepped up and smiled sheepishly.
“I got myself into a bit of trouble,” he said vaguely, gesturing down at his broken arm. Madam Pomfrey didn’t ask any more questions. She lit the lamps around the ward and ordered Draco to sit on the closest bed.
“Take your shirt off, Mr. Malfoy,” she said firmly. “I’ll be right back.” She turned and headed into her office to gather supplies while Draco sat on the bed and tried to do as he was told. He began pulling his blood-soaked gray shirt up his stomach, but immediately winced in pain.
“My arm…” he murmured.
“Draco, don’t,” Hermione said immediately, stepping forward. “You’ll hurt yourself worse. Just…don’t move. I’ll cut it off.”
Draco nodded as Hermione pulled out her wand and used a careful severing charm to slice the shirt away from his skin. As she finished, she reached forward slowly and slid the tattered remnants from his arms. Draco’s eyes never left hers.
“Thank you…” he murmured. Hermione nodded carefully, and tried to avoid looking at his bare chest. It was covered in blood, and she could see gashes running across his torso. She kept her eyes averted and sat on the bed across from him. A moment later, Madam Pomfrey returned, holding several large bottles of various colored liquids. She set them down on the bedside table and waved her wand over Draco, causing the dried and caked-on blood to disappear. It took several tries before the nurse could see the real damage from the aftermath.
“What happened to you, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked absentmindedly, sitting next to him on the bed and uncorking one of the bottles. Draco simply shrugged, so Madam Pomfrey did not push the issue. She held a wad of cotton in one hand and dripped the purple liquid from the first bottle on it. Waving her wand, she sent the cotton swab to clean the wounds on Draco’s chest, while she pointed her wand at Draco’s arm. “This may hurt,” she warned. “I’m going to reset your arm and mend the broken bones.”
Draco nodded and clenched his teeth. Hermione leaned across the distance between them and took his good hand, holding it tightly as Madam Pomfrey began murmuring a spell. Draco groaned as the bones in his arm shifted and reset under the nurse’s capable wand.
“All done with that,” she announced only a few moments later. “It will be tender for a few days, so I’ll give you a sling for it, but if you take things easy, it shouldn’t break again.”
Draco nodded slowly, rotating his arm to check if everything was in the correct place.
“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey,” he said quietly. The nurse nodded tersely in reply and waved her wand at the remaining bottles on the nightstand. While she had been mending Draco’s arm, the cotton swab with the purple liquid had finished cleaning Draco’s wounds. At the wave of her wand, a second bottle tipped onto a new cloth.
“This will sting, Mr. Malfoy. Don’t flinch away from it, though. It will seal the gashes in your chest and back. Let it do its job.”
Draco clenched his teeth again and met Hermione’s eyes. She was looking at him with concern, and didn’t break eye-contact when Draco began to flinch from the pain of whatever potion was sealing his wounds.
“I guess I should be more careful,” he said sarcastically.
Madam Pomfrey snorted audibly, but Hermione smiled. The fact that Draco was still joking about things, even in his current situation, made her more confident that he would be okay. She glanced towards his chest, where the cloth was carefully gliding over his wounds. She could see them mending before her eyes.
“This last one is for the pain,” Madam Pomfrey said, waving her wand at the final bottle. A glass appeared in midair and held itself steady while the bottle poured a foul-looking orange liquid into it. “It’s not going to taste like pumpkin-juice, but you’ll be glad you drank it. You may return to your dormitory tonight, but I would like to see you first thing tomorrow.”
Draco took the glass to indicate that he understood.
“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Madam Pomfrey,” he said, looking at her sincerely. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it…”
Madam Pomfrey looked surprised at Draco’s courtesy, but only shook her head.
“I hope you’ll tell the headmistress what happened to you, Mr. Malfoy. It’s not my job to ask those questions, but I hope you’ll let someone help you. You’re lucky to have Miss Granger, here. I don’t know how many other people would have done the right thing by you.”
Draco sat where he was, opening and closing his mouth. He wasn’t sure how to respond to that at all. The cloth had stopped swishing through the air and settled itself lightly on the bed beside him.
“Drink that, Mr. Malfoy,” Madam Pomfrey said as she waved her wand once more, “and then let Miss Granger help you into your sling.” A sling appeared on the bed beside him, and the nurse stood and levitated her healing supplies back towards her office. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” The door closed behind her, and Draco and Hermione were alone.
For a few moments, neither of them spoke. Draco drank his potion, forcing himself to swallow against the bitter taste. If magic could heal broken bones in seconds, why couldn’t it make a potion that tasted halfway decent? He scowled at the glass as he placed it on the bedside table, but he couldn’t really complain. Already, the pain was fading.
“Are you going to tell me what happened?” Hermione asked at last, looking down at her hands that were clenched in her lap. The lights in Madam Pomfrey’s office flickered off and she and Draco were in the dark once more.
“What do you think happened?” Draco asked quietly, a hard edge to his voice.
Hermione sighed, glad that the darkness hid the tears that were forming in her eyes again. She felt so helpless against everything going on outside the castle.
“I think you were attacked by Death Eaters,” she whispered, her voice sounding strangled.
“Ten points to Gryffindor,” Draco replied in a falsely congratulatory tone. “That’s exactly what happened.”
“Because of who I am. And because of who my parents are. And because they were done with all of this…”
Hermione tried to process what he was saying, but his words didn’t make sense. Draco seemed to know that she couldn’t understand him, though, so he sighed and began to explain:
“My parents wanted out…” he murmured. The sound was swallowed up by the darkened hospital wing. “My father, though I think he agrees with some of what the Dark Lord says, was afraid of the impact this war has been having on my mother. She’s been ill a lot, and this time…I’m not sure she’ll recover. Father understands that, though, and he’s doing what’s best by her. They’re in hiding now…I think the Order of the Phoenix is helping. But the Death Eaters don’t exactly take resignation forms, and they came by the Manor when neither Father nor I answered our summons to the Dark Lord…I was alone there, it was the night after Father had taken Mother into hiding. She really is ill, Hermione. I don’t know how much longer she’ll be able to hang on, and I hate that I’m not with her…”
Hermione reached across the space between them, groping in the dark for Draco’s hand. When she found it, she held it tightly, surprised by how hard he grasped onto her for support. Outside the tall windows, the clouds shifted to reveal the moon, which bathed them in a very soft light, barely illuminating Draco’s face across the distance between the beds.
“They came by the Manor…and I had no excuse for being there. I couldn’t tell them that Mother was sick. I couldn’t tell them my parents had abandoned their cause and had gone into hiding. So I stood my ground, and I lied to them…and even without Legilimency, they know when they’re being lied to…” his voice trailed off, a haunted expression crossing his face. Hermione wanted nothing more than to make things okay for him. No one deserved the pain that he had clearly been through. “That was three days ago. I couldn’t apparate at first, I was too injured. I don’t know if they thought I was dead when they left, or if they were called away…all I know is that I healed what injuries I could, and I headed back here…to you.”
Hermione took a shaky breath. Draco was hurting so terribly…her heart ached for him. They stayed silent for a long time; the only sound in the Hospital Wing was that of the wind blowing against the windows.
“Come on,” Hermione finally murmured. “We’ll get your sling on and get you to the Room of Requirement.”
Draco watched her carefully for a moment, the moonlight shining off her brunette locks, and then nodded. He let her help him get his arm into the sling, smiling a bit at her blush when her hands brushed his bare chest.
“I have clothes in the Room of Requirement,” he said offhandedly when Hermione’s eyes lingered on him for a moment too long. “And by tomorrow, this arm won’t hurt as badly. Don’t worry.”
Hermione blushed deeper.
“If you need help…”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“I can dress myself, Hermione,” he groaned. “Let’s go.” They stood and left the Hospital Wing slowly, Hermione not meeting his eyes as she tried to calm her racing heart.
“I’m sorry this happened to you, Draco,” Hermione murmured after a while as they walked towards the seventh floor and the Room of Requirement. Draco laughed bitterly.
“I’ve seen worse,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “At least my parents are safe.”
“Will the Death Eaters be coming after you more severely now?”
Draco didn’t respond right away as they climbed one of Hogwarts’ many staircases, but as they stepped onto the seventh floor, he finally nodded.
“Yes, they will,” he conceded as he paced quickly across the stretch of wall until the door to the Room of Requirement appeared, “but I don’t care. I escaped them. They know I’m not on their side anymore…but I’m done with everything to do with the Dark Lord. If my father, my father, can walk away from the Death Eaters, I sure as hell can.”
Hermione smiled widely and stepped forward to hug Draco as they stood outside the door that had appeared in the wall.
“I’m really glad you’re safe, Draco,” she whispered, holding onto him carefully, trying not to bump his injured arm. “I was afraid that…”
Draco shushed her and hugged her back with his good arm.
“I’m fine, Hermione,” he murmured. “Have…have you thought about us?” he asked uncertainly. The vulnerability in his voice made Hermione step back and look into his eyes. Despite the fact that she’d chosen Theo, she still felt terrible that it would mean that Draco would be hurt.
“I…” she swallowed hard. How was she supposed to break her friend’s heart? “Theo came back the same day that you left…and he asked me to be his girlfriend,” she whispered, “and…I said yes.”
Draco’s eyes widened and his breath hitched in his throat, but he didn’t yell at her. Instead, his gray eyes locked onto Hermione’s brown ones and held them. His gaze was intense, but whatever he was searching for in her eyes, he didn’t find. Frowning, he nodded sadly and turned away. The door to the Room of Requirement stood ready and he opened it slowly. As he stood with his hand on the doorknob, he turned back for only a moment:
“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” he said quietly, before stepping inside and closing the door behind him. It faded into the wall, and Hermione couldn’t understand why at that exact moment, she felt tears well in her eyes.
Author's Note: Well, I'm sorry for the slight wait when it came to this chapter. I really hope you all enjoy it and I would love if you reviewed and let me know what you think. I'm a bit worried about how this chapter will come across. Let me know, dears!
Also: If you have additional questions that you would like answered, please feel free to go to my "Meet the Author" page on the forums. There's a link on my author's page!
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