Chapter 8 : Chapter 8~ More Improvements
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Chapter 8~ More Improvements
Hermione woke up bright and early and then realized it was Saturday. Why was she up this early? Oh right, because she hadn’t been able to sleep again due to nightmares. They always had to do with the war and Bellatrix. She shuddered as she thought of the name. She lay there trying to distract herself of the images in her mind. Changing the subject in her mind she thought about how, if she had liked flying, she would be out on a broom right now to forget everything. But she hated flying on brooms, so that wasn’t really an option.
After lying in her bed and staring at the top of her bed for another ten minutes she decided to go for a walk. She was too lazy for once to change so she just pulled her school cloak over her purple cotton pajamas. She made her way down the silent corridors and shivered, but it wasn’t cold. Her blood seemed to turn to ice as memories of everything that had happened at Hogwarts during the war and how the walls around her suddenly reminded her of Malfoy Manor where Bellatrix had tortured her. The feelings became too much for her and she ducked into an open classroom before she let the tears spill out of her eyes. Hermione slid down the wall in the farthest corner from door and curled up into the tightest ball she could. The pain in her arm, through her body and her chest was too much. She just wanted to lay here and sleep forever but the tears streaming down her faces kept her awake. Her whole body shook with the sobs that tore through her. She was blind to the world and stayed like that for a long time just letting herself cry her heart out.
Draco had been up early and didn’t know what to do with himself so he decided to start walking out to the Quiddich field. He was just wandering aimlessly when he heard a sound. At first he thought it was Peeves, who had been causing a lot of trouble lately, but then he recognized the sounds of someone crying. Isn’t it a little early? He thought to himself. He walked until he found the door that the sound was coming from and saw it was ajar. He peered in and saw a sight that made him freeze.
Hermione Granger was curled up in a far away corner crying harder than he had seen anyone cry in a long time. He remembered crying that hard a couple times, but no one knew that and no one ever would. He stood there and was trying to decide what to do. He didn’t want to leave her here alone, but he was pretty sure he wasn’t the one she would want to see. Especially when she was like this. He hesitated, but then took his life into his hands and walked over to her. He saw that she was so far off in her own thoughts that she didn’t notice him, but he noticed what she kept muttering in between sobs.
“No… She’ll hurt me… no… Fred… Lupin… No!”
His heart froze. He knew exactly what she was thinking about, for it had dwelt on his mind frequently as well; all the people who had died in the war, all of her friends and her being tortured by his aunt. He was about the turn and leave, knowing that all he would do is remind her more of the pain and he didn’t want to do that to her. He was just turning around when he heard a hoarse whisper.
Not only had she spoken his name, she’d used his first name. He would have preferred hearing her say it for the first time in a better situation, but either way, he liked the way she said it. He turned to look at her unsure of what to say or do.
“Why are you here?” She asked wiping tears away.
“I heard you crying and I thought someone might have been hurt.” He said hesitantly.
He then did something that he knew was insane. He walked over and sat down beside her, close enough to hopefully be a comfort but far enough away that she could stay away if she didn’t want him around. To his surprise she shifted and leaned over laying her head against his shoulder. He didn’t move in fear of upsetting her. Who would have thought that he, Draco Malfoy, would be sitting next to Hermione Granger and consoling her. He glanced at her and noticed more tears escaping from her eyes and landing on his sleeve. He didn’t mind. He summoned a handkerchief with his wand and handed it to her. She took and dabbed her eyes. He just sat there as her breathing became more normal and she stopped sniffling. Finally she looked at him.
“Uh, you’re welcome.” He said awkwardly. He suddenly wanted to leave, but another part of him knew that wasn’t a smart choice. She needed him.
“This is funny isn’t it?”
He looked over at her confused.
“This,” She said gesturing to him and then herself. “Who would have thought that you would be the one to find me and actually sit with me.”
“Oh, well people change I guess.” He said lamely.
“Yeah.” She said.
He noticed she had a far off look in her eyes. Then she looked at him and shifted. He read her expression and got up offering her a hand. She took it gently and Draco pulled her up. She seemed a little awkward and looked at the floor.
“We don’t have to talk about this if you don’t want to.” She said. “I know most people who know either of us would pretty much freak out and not in a good way.”
“Right. Well this will just be between you and I, sound good?”
He started to walk towards the door and then stopped and glanced back at her. She was watching him.
“See you around Granger.” He said with a small smile and then smirked.
She smiled a little. Just as he got to the door he heard the sweetest thing he had ever heard in his entire life.
“Um Draco? Thank you again.” She said quietly.
He nodded to her but a huge smile light his face up as he turned around and walked away. Maybe we can heal together he thought, maybe that’s what the sorting hat put us together. He practically floated to breakfast, he hadn’t been in this good of a mood in a long time.
Hermione watched Malfoy leave, smiling. He was so attractive when he smile. What was she thinking? Her enemy from her entire life at school had just sat with her as she cried. I don’t know what I’m thinking… However, she was also still smiling. He had just sat there and said nothing. He let her know he was there but didn’t touch her or force her to talk. It had been just right, just what she had needed. She composed herself and then headed down to breakfast, still in her pajama pants. Most of the students were in the hall by now and she slipped through and sat down beside Ginny. Ginny looked at her and immediately noticed something had happened, but she was smart enough not to say anything in front of Harry and Ron. Hermione just smiled at her a little in thanks. She snuck a glance at where she knew Malfoy was sitting saw him writing something. She wondered what it was but knew that she wouldn’t find out so it wasn’t worth her time thinking about it. She turned back to her friends and tried to forget her morning, all of it except one person.
That evening Ginny and Hermione were finally able to get rid of the boys and sit in the empty dorm room together. Ginny turned to look at Hermione, Hermione wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk about it but she knew Ginny was safe to tell. She motioned for Ginny to come sit on her bed and then explained what had happened.
“… and he just sat there. So as he left I thanked him. I feel like he really has changed and is a better person, just don’t tell Ron.”
“Wow, who would have thought that dreaded Malfoy would be the one to sit and console you. But I’m glad he helped you and didn’t do anything bad.”
“Ginny, he keeps surprising me like on the train, the first night, our partner meeting and now this. He’s just so different it’s almost unnerving sometimes.”
“Yeah, but I think it’s a good thing. We always figured he was too cowardly to actually be a killer. But maybe it’s just that he really does have a heart and was forced into all of it.”
Hermione smiled at her friend.
“I’m so glad I can talk to you. I can’t really talk to anyone else about him, but you seem to understand.”
“Oh don’t worry, you can tell me anything, but if he ever hurts you it’ll be the end of his days.” She said with a death glare.
Hermione giggled. NEVER get on Ginny’s bad side because it would be the last day you ever saw the sun come up properly. The girls talked for a little while longer and then Hermione said she needed to go to bed. All the crying she had done earlier had drained her. She lay back and fell into a deep sleep.
Sunday morning dawned bright and early but Hermione was still sleeping for once. Around ten she finally stretched and sat up. She saw that Ginny was already gone but had left a note hanging on the edge of Hermione’s bed. She grabbed it and read it,
I thought you could use the sleep so I left. I’m out with Harry and Ron got dragged off by a group of girls. *vomits* Anyway, I hope you feel better this morning and I’ll see you at dinner if you need anything.
Have a wonderful day
Ginny (and Harry)
Hermione sighed. Ginny was so perceptive sometimes. She realized she really had needed sleep and now she felt much better. She decided she was going to go have some breakfast and then explore the unused corridors. She felt she could handle it today and wanted to be away from people. She ate breakfast quicker than usual and strode off to go look around a little. She didn’t notice Malfoy watching her.
She wondered off and went to every door to see if they were open. If they were she would stick her head in and check it out but if it wasn’t and Alohamora didn’t work then she would move on. She was now near an end of a corridor and there was a bigger wood door than most of the others, and it was open. She pushed the door open enough to get through and then walked in. The room was huge; it had bookshelves, a few desks, a larger desk, and a large cupboard or wardrobe. She went over to the books looking at them and noticed she’d never seen some of them before. Excitedly she flipped through a couple and then shrunk them too fit in her pocket. She was moving through the books one at a time, and making a decision if she wanted to read them, when she heard a noise. Hermione looked around but didn’t see anyone. She looked back at the book she was holding but heard the noise again. When she looked up she saw the wardrobe shake a little. What could possibly be in there? She stepped closer pulling out her wand. She flicked her wand and the door opened. She gasped. Bellatrix was walking toward her.
He had seen Hermione come down to breakfast late, but she was also alone. He watched her eat and then leave, still alone. He was curious as to what she could be doing. Probably going to the library He thought. He waited a few seconds and then got up and followed. When he caught sight of her he noticed that she was going in the opposite direction of the library. His curiosity getting the better of him, he slid against the wall and continued to pursue her. He watched her wonder around the unused corridors and after a long time she found a wood door that was bigger than the others. He could see that she was curious and he watched as she disappeared inside. She had been in there awhile and he was beginning to get irritated. I followed her He reminded himself. He sighed. Creeping towards the door he was almost to its edge when he heard a voice that chilled every bone in his body.
“You filthy mudblood! I’m going to make you wish you’d never been born.”
The bone chilling words were followed by an even worse cackle. He darted into the room and saw his aunt Bellatrix leaning over Hermione and gripping her wrist. He didn’t even think of how it was possible his first thought was to get Hermione away, to get her safe. As he stepped forward the figure in front of them started to shift. He realized what it was and shouted,
It turned into a fluffy teddy bear and he kicked it into the wardrobe that had an open door. He slammed it shut, put a sticking charm on it and locked it. Then he turned to Hermione who was curled up on the floor in a tight ball. His heart ached to see her like this, two days in a row. He went and knelt down beside her and gently took hold of both her arms just below the shoulders. She flinched at his touch. He knew she wasn’t ok so he did what he thought he needed to, he picked her up and carried her out of the room.
He took her to an old lounge room they had passed. He set her down on the couch and sat next to her. He could feel her shaking and saw that she was gripping her one forearm. He had to snap her out of this.
“Hermione?” He said softly.
It was the first time he had said her name like this out loud. It felt strange to say, but that didn’t matter right now.
“Hermione, look at me.” He said gently.
This time she seemed to notice him and looked up into his face. His heart gave a nasty throb as he saw how much pain was in her face.
“Do you want me to take you to the hospital wing?” He said while searching her face.
He waited. She finally shook her head and mumbled something about “being stupid.” He stared at her. How could she think that she’s being stupid? My aunt tortured her! She has all the right in the world to fear that woman! Before he could think or say anything else she spoke softly.
“Did you follow me?” She half whispered.
“Uh…” He started to reply.
“It’s ok. Thank you.”
It was as simple as that. No awkwardness about him creeping behind her, no lecture, no getting smacked for following her, just a thank you. He looked at her and he knew that his face showed concern.
“Are you ok?” He said and then wanted to smack himself.
Of course she wasn’t ok, she had just seen the woman who had tortured her. But he saw that she was looking at him. He looked down at his hands.
“I think I’ll just go back to Gryffindor Tower. I need to sit down and not move.” She said.
He looked up and nodded.
“Do you want me…” He paused. “Do you want me to accompany you?” he finished quietly.
Hermione, although still numb from what had happened, felt a little surprised. He was STILL surprising her. What did it mean? It didn’t matter right now. She felt herself nodding in response to his question.
“Yes, if you don’t mind. You don’t have to though.” She said hastily.
She saw him smile a little and relax. He nodded and stood up and once again offered her his hand. She took it and let him pull her up. Before he let go of her hand she felt him squeeze it slightly. For some reason this spread a little warmth through her. As they started walking she realized how exhausted she felt. She let her mind wander and didn’t really pay attention to where they were walking. Is Dra--Malfoy really going to be the one to find me every time I collapse? He has been the one to find me every single time. Why did he follow me today? I hadn’t even noticed him. Oh well… I guess I don’t mind. Her thoughts trailed off as she noticed where they were, which was not anywhere near the Gryffindor Tower.
“Uh, why are we down here? I said Gryffindor Tower. If you don’t know where that is you could have asked.” She said.
She saw him smirk a little.
“I thought you might want something to eat or something warm to drink so I brought you to the kitchens.” He said.
Hermione noticed he was trying not to smile. She rolled her eyes and couldn’t help but be thankful to him and acknowledge he was right. To simplify it she nodded and made a sort reply.
He smirked again but tickled the little green pear and stood back to let her in. She entered and as soon as she did half a dozen house elves made their way over to them. She felt Malfoy behind her but didn’t feel uncomfortable. They all greeted her and asked what they could get “Master Malfoy” and “Miss Granger.” She smiled at them all and realized she was already feeling better.
“I’ll have a hot chocolate and a raspberry scone.” Said Malfoy behind her.
“Make that two raspberry scones and hot chocolates, but I would also like a small turkey sandwich please.”
They beamed and quickly went about making what she and Malfoy had asked for. Two of the elves had already brought up and set of chairs and a small table. They sat down and both remained silent. Hermione was unsure of what to say. She had already said thank you. She was still racking her brains on what to talk about that didn’t involve yesterday or today’s incident when Malfoy spoke.
“So, thought anymore about our project?” He asked.
She sighed. He saved the situation… again.
“No, not really but I actually found some books today that might be helpful. I’ve never seen them before!”
She couldn’t help but be excited. She remembered the books in her pocket and pulled them out. She set them down and enlarged them to their normal size. Malfoy smirked a little. She found the one that she had started reading earlier and handed it to him. It was a large, rather dusty book with a bright red leather cover and inlaid black letters. She watched him as he flicked through the pages then look up.
“Do you think I could borrow this when you’re done with it?”
“Of course. I noticed it had some stuff on what I’m doing, but there is a lot more information in there concerning invisibility. Actually, you can just take it now if you want.”
She was about to say something else, but the elves had brought over their food. She thanked the elves around her and was surprised to hear a mumbled “thank you” from Malfoy as well. She smiled to herself.
As they ate they manage to start talking again and pretty soon were talking easily. They discussed what classes they had and what had been happening in them. Since they were the same year, most of the classes were the same, but of course, the people were different. Then they moved on to talk about books and she found that he was almost as much of a book person as she was. But as he put it, “I know how to balance books and fun things.” He had smiled when he said it so she hadn’t taken offense. They had long since finished eating and were now just sipping their third glass of hot chocolate and talking. Suddenly they became aware of how busy the elves were and realized it must be about dinner time. Wow, we’ve been here a long time. So much for going back to the Common Room. Malfoy seemed to have read her thoughts.
“Sorry you didn’t get back to your tower.”
“It’s fine. I… I enjoyed talking.” She said and knew that she blushed a little.
“Yeah, me too. I’ve got some good ideas for what I want to do with my project”
She watched him shrink the book she had given him and slip it in his pocket. Then they both climbed out of the door to the kitchens and made their way up to the Great Hall. Almost everyone was there. They quickly mumbled goodbyes to each other and went to sit with their own houses. Ginny was looking frantically for her and when she spotted Hermione she just about tackled her to the ground.
“Where have you been?! We couldn’t find you and no one had seen you at all today.”
“I was… out walking around and then I went and grabbed something in the kitchens.”
There she thought, that’s not a complete lie. She glanced at Malfoy and noticed he was writing again. She sat down and listened to Ginny and Harry talk about visiting Hagrid and then what happened when they found Ron. It was a hilarious story. She had almost forgotten about earlier that morning, but somewhere in the back of her mind she knew that it would come back to her as she slept. She still wasn’t sure if she wanted to tell Ginny about today either. She’d figure it out later.
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