Chapter 2 : The Start Of Their Friendship Part 2
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Hermione was sitting on the couch the next evening, her legs propped up on the coffee table and her eyes focused on the flames in the fireplace infront of her. There was a letter in her hand and tears streaming down her cheeks uncontrollably.
"Grnager? Fancy a game of exploding snap with us?" She vaguely registered Blaise asking her as he passed the back of the couch. He went and sat on one of the chairs of the dining table and emptied his packet of cards on to it.
"Granger?" He asked again as Draco joined him at the table.
"Ah leave her be, she's probably engrossed in some book", Draco smirked playfully. Blaise grinned at him but when silence followed, their smiles disappeared and their expressions turned serious.
"Granger?" Draco called, turning in his seat to look at the back of the couch where he could see her still figure.
Blaise stood up and went to the couch and Draco did the same.
As soon as they saw her, both froze in front of the sofa. Her eyes were red and she was sniffing, tears rollind down her cheeks. She made no attempt to wipe them away like she did when they would come into her room to play some card or board game with her.
"What's going on?" Blaise asked her, kneeling down on the floor in between the coffee table and the sofa infront of her. Draco stood near them, his hands in his pockets, unsure of what to do.
"Hermione, what happened?" Blaise asked, his hand coming to hold her's. She crumpled the letter in her hand and her feet withdrew themselves from the table and onto the floor beside Blaise. She leaned over and with her elbows on her knees, she began sobbing into her hands.
Draco and Blaise looked at eachother nervously. What were they supposed to do? Both moved from where they were and sat down on either side of the broken girl. They just sat there in silence, Blaise's right hand rubbing her back comfortingly.
She finally leaned back on the sofa, her eyes shut. Her hands were on her lap and were clenched into fists tightly, her nails digging into her palms. The mental pain was just too much...
Draco took her right hand in his left and held it tightly. Blaise did the same with her left hand. They had dealt with a crying Pansy in the exact same way when Pansy refused to say anything and just sobbed.
Her hold on their hands soon went limp and her breathing became even. The two boys moved off the couch and gently lay her down on the full length of the soft sofa, a pillow under her head. The letter Hermione had in her hand fell to the floor and Draco picked it up and was about to open it when he decided otherwise. He folded it up and left it on the coffee table.
"Arent you going to read it?" Blaise asked in a whisper.
"She wouldn't want us to. It would be invading her privacy", Draco replied. Blaise nodded, impressed at Draco's respect for the privacy of a Grifindor he hated for so many years. The war had indeed changed everyone.
* * * *
The next two days passed slowly. It became Draco and Blaise's daily routine to wake Hermione up at night when she was tortured with her nightmares and when she would sit and just cry, they would sit beside her and hold her hand, no questions asked, until she fell asleep.
Hogwarts reopened and on Monday morning all the students were back in their respective towers, unpacking. They were still a little confused as to why Dumbledore had allowed students to return to their homes every alternate weekend but they guessed it had something to do with the rebuilding left for Hogwarts.
Draco and Blaise, even though they barely came across Hermione anymore, kept their eyes open for her. Everyday she just looked thinner, paler and her hair got messier everyday. What angered them the most was that nobody asked her what happened.
They didn't ask because they didn't know, they didn't know because they didn't realize, they didn't realize because she covered up bloody well.
They noticed the smallest changes because they were looking out for her, but if they hadn't been there that weekend with her, they wouldn't have noticed any change in her either.
On Friday evening, Draco was walking down the corridor after a Transfiguration extra class with Mcgonagall when he heard gruff voices from a room to his left and what sounded like a girl crying.
He took his wand out and in one swift movement, threw open the door and said "Expelliarmus!" About eight wands came flying out of the darkness and into Draco's hand. He felt along the wall to his right and he switched on the lights.
The sight that met his eyes shocked and angered him beyond belief. Eight Slytherin boys were towering over and surrounding a girl on the floor. Judging by the blood pooled around her stomach, they had beaten her till she bled.
Draco pointed his wand at the eight boys and bound them together wordlessly. He then sent his patronus to go and get Mcgonagall. He shoved them, rather forcefully against the wall beside the door and hurried up to the girl. As soon as he saw her face, he looked away for a few seconds, his heart beating faster than normal. He tossed the eight wands to the corner of the room, far from the eight boys' reach.
He knelt down beside her and touched her shoulder and she cringed, moving away from his touch.
"Granger, it's okay", Draco said, "It's me- Draco." Her eyes fluttered open and she turned her head, wincing, to look at him.
"I'm going to have to carry you to the hospital wing alright?" He asked quietly.
"Just... Leave... Me... Here", She said in a strangled voice.
"I can't do that", He said. He put one arm under her knees and another behind her back and lifted her up into his arms. She whimpered.
Draco looked down and watched as blood seeped from her stomach area on to his blue sweater vest. He guessed it would seep through it and on to his white shirt but really, that wasn't his main concern right now.
He moved out of the room just as Macgonagall arrived there.
"Mister Malfoy?" She asked, as he rushed past her.
"Keep the slytherin boys in the Headmaster's office!" He called back to her, while sprinting away.
Hermione's grip on Draco's vest got weaker and weaker as he picked up pace.
"Don't let me fall please", She whimpered.
"Never", He said, holding her tight and close to him.
The crowd of students parted into two halves as he ran through, yelling at them to get the hell out of the way.
"Malfoy, what the hell do you think you're-" He heard Harry say while sprinting past him.
"Saving your best friend's life!" He called back, not once slowing down.
He burst through the doors of the Hospital Wing.
"What in the name of-" He heard Madam Pomfrey say before gasping.
Draco put her gently down on the closest bed and Madam Pomfrey hurried up to them. Thankfully there was nobody in the wing at that time and she could give all her attention to the wounded girl.
"Mister Malfoy, keep her awake. Make sure she doesn't pass out or it's going to be difficult to get her back", Madam Pomfrey instructed, hurrying to her medical supplies.
Draco kneeled on the floor beside the bed and held Hermione's hand tightly. Her eyes began fluttering shut and he squeezed her hand.
"Don't you dare pass out, Granger!" He said, moving her hair out of her face with his free hand, "Stay with me."
Hermione whimpered and forced her eyes to stay open but they began closing a second later.
"No, Granger! Look at me!" Her eyes found his and he said, "That's it. Just keep looking at me. You're going to be fine, you understand?"
She shook her head, "I d-don't wanna be..." Draco's mouth parted in surprise at her words.
"You need to be", He said firmly. Madam Pomfrey hurried up to him.
"I need your help, Mister Malfoy", The woman said, "She's lost so much blood, Merlin..."
"What can I do?" He asked, not removing his eyes from Hermione's.
"Lift her shirt up and keep saying rennervate with your wand pointed at her stomach", Madam Pomfrey said. She knew Draco wouldn't take advantage even if he could of the situation of holding her shirt up because no matter what he was, he was a Malfoy and she knew that if Narcissa had taught him anything, it was to respect girls.
Draco moved the hand holding Hermione's to the hem of her shirt but before he was able to remove the clothing, she held his hand tighter, making him stop.
"I'm not going to do anything wrong, Granger, I promise", Draco said, not taking his eyes off her's.
Thats not what she was afraid of...
"Mister Malfoy, remove it now!" Madam Pomfrey said firmly. Draco removed the clothing, despite Hermione's grip and pulled the shirt up as high as he could without making the young girl uncomfortable.
He heard Madam Pomfrey gasp and for a second he looked at where Madam Pomfrey's eyes were trained and felt sudden need to retch. Her stomach was covered with blood, more leaking out of uncountable cuts.
"They sliced her up", Draco said through gritted teeth, turning back to look at her. Her eyes closed and he squeezed her hand.
"Keep your eyes open, Granger!" Draco said. He heard Madam Pomfrey casting healing spell after healing spell with her wand trained on Hermione's wounds.
Hermione opened her eyes slowly and Draco's stomach twisted because of how weak she looked. How broken she looked.
"Expecto Patronum", Draco said, his wand in his free right hand. A silvery opaque wolf burst out of the tip, "Get Blaise Zabini."
"Mister Malfoy, Rennervate please!" Madam Pomfrey said.
Draco pointed his wand at her bloody stomach and said "Rennervate" over and over again. The blood reduced for a few seconds before a fresh flow seeped out of the open cuts once again.
The doors of the hospital wing burst open and someone joined the three.
"Bloody hell", Draco heard Blaise say.
"Keep her awake, Blaise", Draco said, extracting his hand from Hermione's and standing up. Madam Pomfrey locked the hospital wing's doors and went back to try and healing the bleeding girl.
"Mister Malfoy, we need to close up the cuts so I need you to hold her skin together while I stitch them up. There's no time to numb her senses. She's lost too much blood already. Mister Zabini, make SURE she doesn't pass out- keep her awake!" The old woman instructed the two panicking boys. Blaise took Draco's place and held tightly to Hermione's hand, muttering words of comfort to her.
Draco pulled his blue vest off and threw it on the ground by the bed before bending over. He took a deep breathe and used the sides of his thumbs to hold together the biggest cut in his vision. Blood leaked out onto his thumbs and he once again fought the urge to retch.
"Hang in there, Granger", Blaise said, stroking her hair. Madam Pomfrey began stitching together the wound with her wand. Hermione's back arched and a wail escaped her throat.
"It... hurts", She cried, tears running down her cheeks.
"Just hang on, we need to do this", Blaise said, holding her face.
Draco moved to the next cut and Madam Pomfrey put it together quickly. Everytime they stitched together, Hermione would cry out with pain.
"Stop.. It... God...stop!" Hermione cried, tears unable to stop flowing.
"Miss Granger, we're sorry but we have no choice!" Madam Pomfrey said, working with the cuts as quickly as she could. Beads of sweat were dripping from Draco's forehead down the side of his cheek and he moved his head to the side to wipe it with his sleeve.
"We're almost done", Madam Pomfrey said, fixing up the second last cut.
Hermione was sobbing silently, holding on to Blaise's hand tighter than ever, the pain overwhelming her to such an extent that she felt her eyes suddenly drooping shut.
"No! Granger, stay with me", Blaise said, slapping her cheek gently but firmly enough for her to register in her state. Her eyes fluttered open again.
"Thats it, we're almost done", Blaise said.
Draco held together the final cut and Madam Pomfrey stitched it together. She told Draco to step away and she waved her wand over Hermione's body, fixing up bruises and sprains. The side of her forehead had been cut and that received a bandaid while her split lip was easily fixed in comparison to the other injuries.
They thought they were done when suddenly Hermione whimpered and raised her left arm to come rest on her stomach. All three of the other gasped. Someone had re-carved "mudblood" on to her arm on top of Bellatrix's carving.
"I got this", Draco said, moving to the other side of the bed. Hermione's eyes followed Draco's movements as he kneeled down on the floor and cradled her arm against his chest, blood gushing out of the carved cuts and on to his bloodied up white shirt. He pointed his wand at the letters and repeated what Madam Pomfrey was intstructing him to say.
The wounds stitched themselves back and Draco did it in a way that the letters were blurred out and unclear compared to the distinct letters as it was before. As soon as he was done, he ran his blood-covered thumb over the wounds, placed her arm gently beside her on the bed and sat down on the floor more comfortably, leaning against the side of the bed behind him. Everybody visibly relaxed wherever they were.
"Miss Granger", Madam Pomfrey said, looking much older than before, "Those cuts- they were not new. They were old cuts reopened."
Hermione swallowed hard and looked anywhere but at the three of them.
"Did somebody do that to you? You must tell us, dear, we can help you", Madam Pomfrey said. Draco and Blaise were now sitting straighter.
Hermione shook her head, "I don't need help."
"Dear, there's no need to be afraid! We can get you help, get the person who did this. We'll ask the Headmaster to call your mother this-"
"No!" Hermione cried, sitting up and wincing visibly with pain, "There's... There's no reason to do that... Can I just... Can I just rest?" The old matron nodded, worry evident in her eyes.
She pointed her wand at Hermione and a bandage appeared around her torso and left forearm. The old witch levitated the young girl on to the next bed, the one Draco was leaning his back against and changed the blood covered sheets off the bed she had been on.
Madam Pomfrey covered Hermione with a new blanket and helped her tie her hair out of her face.
"Call me if you need anything", She said, smiling down at her. She walked back to her cabin, only to stop and tell the two boys that they had fifteen minutes to leave.
Hermione turned to her side, her back to the boys. Though her body was still and she tried to keep her breathing even so it looked like she was asleep, her eyed were wide open, tears rapidly filling her them.
She felt someone come up behind her and stroke her hair comfortingly.
"Please be okay", She heard Blaise say and she had to hold her breathe so the sob threatening to escape her throat remained where it was. The hand left her head and she heard footsteps heading towards the doors.
"Aren't you coming?" She heard Blaise ask.
"Give me a few minutes", Draco said. The door opened and closed after a few seconds.
She heard, who she assumed was Draco, walk around her bed and sit down on the edge of the bed she was facing. She shut her eyes quickly.
"I know you're awake, Granger", Draco said softly. She opened her eyes, tears spilling out and down her face sideways on to the mattress.
"What do you want?" She asked, but not rudely.
"Are they self-inflicted?" He asked, looking into her eyes. Hermione knew exactly what he was talking about. She looked away from him.
"What happened?" Draco asked, "What happened with your mother? What did it say in that letter? What's going on, Granger?"
"Didn't you read the letter?" She asked quietly.
"I did not", He responded. She brought her eyes back to his, surprised.
She was silent for a second before she said, "My father died." She choked back a sob.
"You can cry, I'm not going to make fun of you", Draco said softly. And for some reason Hermione believed him. She closed her eyes and tears flowed down her cheeks. Her hands came up to cover her face, her knees folded towards her so she was in a fetal position and she just cried. Draco sat where he was. He looked up once and nodded to the girl standing a few feet away firm them. She came up beside the bed infront of Hermione and knelt down on the floor. She took Hermione's hands in her own and pulled the crying girl towards herself.
Hermione thought at first it was Draco and was extemely shocked but as she realized it was a girl by the size and slenderness of her hand, she looked up to meet a pair of green eyes.
"Pansy?"She croaked out.
"It's okay, I'm not going to tell anybody", Pansy said quietly. She pulled Hermione towards her and Hermione buried her face into the raven haired girl's neck and let herself cry, something she had not thought she'd be doing in front of people for a long time. Especially not in front two Slytherins. Two people who tormented her for years before this.
* * * *
Blaise knocked on Hermione's room door. They had already moved into Jawsten's Academy of Withcraft and Wizardry for their exchange program. They were three days in and Hermione seemed to be getting better. She hadn't told anybody but she was not going for her father's funeral that day. She was going to see his grave alone that weekend... she couldn't face her mother alone. Harry, Ron and Ginny still didn't know about her father and though she wanted to tell them, she couldn't figure out for some strange reason how to.
Hermione pulled on a thin jumper and opened the door. Blaise was standing there in only a towel.
"Zabini, we spoke about this!" Hermione said, looking anywhere but at the boy in front of her.
"I know, I know- I wanted to give you this", Blaise smirked, handing her a packet.
"Whats in this?" She asked, taking the packet.
"It's an outfit you need to wear right now", Blaise said, "You'll wear it right?"
"Uh... why exactly have you bought me an outfit? You could just tell me i have a bad dressing sense you know", She smiled at him.
"No, thats not what I meant", Blaise chuckled, "Its for now. Wear it right now. Please?"
"Why though?" Hermione asked.
"Just please? I can't quite say right now", Blaise said, a pleading expression on his face.
"Fine", Hermione smiled, "Now go wear clothes!" Laughing, she shut the door on the smirking face on the other side.
She opened the packet and a soft white fabric fell out. She opened out the fabric and her eyes widened. Blaise Zabini had got her a pretty white formal dress?
She had said she'd wear it though. He better have a good explanation, she thought, undressing and slipping the soft, comfortable material on. It fit perfectly and she wondered if he had gotten help from one of her friends with picking it out. She fastened the neat belt around her waist and put on a pair of white pumps. She tied her hair into a high ponytail and once she was pleased with how she looked, she grabbed an off-white trench coat and stepped out of her room. The sight that met her eyes made her mouth drop open in shock.
Pansy was standing at the foot of the stairs, dressed in a semi-formal white dress with matching heels and a matching coat. Blaise and Draco were on either side of her in, weirdly enough, muggle tuxedos.
"Whats going on, you guys?" Hermione asked, walking down the steps.
"Do you trust us?" Pansy asked.
"I- what is this about?" Hermione asked, completely confused.
"Do you?" Pansy asked. Hermione nodded after a second. Pansy held out her arm and descending the last few steps, Hermione took a deep breathe and held on to her arm. They apparated right out of the place, Draco and Blaise apparating separately.
As soon as they arrived and Hermione opened her eyes, she took a few steps behind in surprise.
"Why... Why am I- How did you-" She stammered.
"Ginny found the letter in your room that you left on your bed", Blaise said quietly. Hermione closed her eyes for a few seconds, trying to calm herself.
They had brought her to the field next to Hermione's father's funeral location... Her aunt had sent her a letter about it a few days ago... Ginny... did she know then?
"Hermione..." She opened her eyes and saw the girl on her mind.
"Ginny..." The red head ran up at full speed and hugged her best friend with everything she had.
"You should have told me", Ginny said, holding Hermione tightly. Hermione couldn't respond. Tears welled up in her eyes and she held on tightly, her eyes shut tightly. When she opened them, her mouth parted with shock.
Harry and Ron both stood in muggle tuxedos, hands in their pockets and sad expressions on their faces. She let go of Ginny and walked slowly towards the two boys.
Both boys strode forward and pulled Hermione into their arms. She hugged them both, her face buried in Ron's shoulder.
"We love you, 'Mione", Harry said quietly in her ear.
"I love you guys too", She said, trying to blink back tears.
"Who told you?" She asked, pulling away.
"Ginny and Pansy", Harry said.
"I wasn't planning on coming today..." Hermione said softly, looking down at her feet.
"And we weren't planning on letting you not come", Ginny said, taking the brown haired girl's hand in her own, "Your father would have wanted you here."
"Thank you so much", Hermione said softly, "You're the best friends anybody could ask for..." She turned around and smiled at the three Slytherins standing there awkwardly, "You guys too."
Blaise and Pansy smiled back, albeit a little embarrassed. Hermione looked at Pansy first, then Blaise and then finally Draco. Their eyes met and neither looked away this time. Despite who he was, ironically enough, he was the first one to have known about her father being dead... She had told Draco Malfoy of all people. The odd part? She didn't mind at all. She was actually quite glad. Despite everything, she knew for a fact that he had changed. A lot. She walked slowly towards him and Blaise and standing in front of them, she took Blaise's left hand in her right and Draco's right hand in her left. Both gently squeezed her hand and she smiled at them.
They had been the two people who had looked out for her ever since that weekend. They were Slytherins, yes. One had tormented her for years, yes. They were on the Dark Lord's side during the war, yes. But none of that seemed to matter anymore. She considered them her friends now...
And she wanted it to remain that way for a long, long, long time.
That's done :D Thank you so so much for reading and sorry to the EHFAR readers again, I just want the last two chapters to be really good (: I hope you enjoyed this and just to clarify the time frame, this happens a little after Draco, Pansy and Blaise are saved by Hermione and Ginny from the Slytherins like explained in Memories of TOR. It will be properly done at the end of TOR and then you'll realize why Draco and Blaise are being nice and not nasty, like in the beginning of TOR. Thanks for reading AND PLEASE REVIEW, It'll only take a few seconds ;)
Until next time,
FeltonLewis xx :)