Chapter 23 : Insight
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The room was a dull blur. People were sweeping across the halls and a droning buzz resounded over everything. A warm hand broke through the haze and Hermione closed her eyes from the feel on her arm.
“Are you even listening to me, or should I save my breath and just send you both out?” Hermione blinked back to life and felt herself fall treacherously back into her body. Remus Lupin was standing hard, arms crossed, eyes flaring in anger. “At least that is an option for you Hermione. I haven’t the foggiest where you would end up, Malfoy.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” Draco said softly and let his hand fall from Hermione’s arm. He knew she was drifting; just the thing he was fighting against. “She was scared for her parents. You can’t expect a daughter to be blind to potential danger when it involves her parents.” Draco had used the line before. McGonagall. Kingsley. Molly Weasley. Countless others that had been hunting them down for a good screaming the past two days.
“This is the safest place for you lot right now. I cannot express that enough.” Lupin’s tone softened dramatically and with a sigh he simply walked away.
“I didn’t mean to get you into so much trouble.” Hermione apologized for the thousandth time, unable to meet his eyes. Looking into his face caused shivers to cross her skin at the thought of his hands trailing, and his lips against hers.
“Come with me,” Draco said in a low growl and grabbed her hand tightly. He trailed her roughly behind him up the stairs towards his room. She tugged against his locked grip a few times, but kept quiet thankfully.
“Malfoy…” Hermione warned as they closed in on his bedroom. He swung the door open and hauled her inside, quickly shutting the door behind them.
“What the hell, Granger?” Draco asked harshly turning around on her. “You can’t even look me in the eye any longer?” Her eyes bounced around the room from the dresser to his tossed away shoes, anything but him. With another growl he hooked under her chin with his smooth fingers and forced her to meet him. Their eyes locked and heat smoldered in the room. Her hands slid around his fingers and pulled him away from her face, but with a quick motion his other hand was around her back yanking her flush to his chest.
“A few months ago that hand was around my throat, threatening the breath out of me.” She breathed heavy, fumbling with her own thoughts. Draco recoiled from her and his arms fell.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together. It’s an infatuation I suppose.” Draco repeated her excuses from before making her frown. “I saw your dream.” He admitted quietly.
“You were watching my dreams?” Hermione gasped. A deep blush flooded her cheeks and she felt mortified by the thought.
“I was curious if I could get images and not just thoughts,” Draco lied, “and then when you dreamed about that night we almost kissed in your room, and we did, I knew that you were lying. It’s not just an infatuation, Hermione. You feel exactly what I feel.” He swept a curl behind her ear and held her face. “The tingle, that fire, I’m not the only one it’s hitting.”
“Lusting is not a caring emotion. It’s nothing other than overdriven hormones and too much time together.” Hermione argued and batted his hand away. She couldn’t believe in the simple truth that Draco Malfoy was suffering from deep emotions for her. It was an impossibility. He hated her since day one. It was easier to admit he simply was attracted to her, so that’s what she believed.
“Hermione,” Draco had a pleading tone in his voice, “you said that I could do something good and proper, and fought everyone that disagreed. There is this amazing calm and comfort that you bring into every day of my life here. We’re at war, and it’s only now scaring the hell out of me, but you remain so strong. I’m alone, truly alone physically and emotionally, for the first time in my life. There is no one left in my life. And here you are, being my friend and trying to get me through the hell that is this jail.”
“Anyone could have done that.” Hermione whispered.
“But they didn’t, you did.” Draco said sharply. “There is just something inside you,” He paused and found his words delicately. “You make me want to be good. Above all, I truly like you being around. I can’t explain it. The dark emptiness inside of me doesn’t feel so heavy.” Hermione stayed quiet and let everything settle in her mind. In a slow pace, she wandered over to his bed and sat on the edge. There had been so many moments in her life where she pulled Harry or Ron from the shadows of their minds. It felt different with Draco Malfoy. She felt as if she wasn’t meant to. But, why? At best, Hermione was the reason he was still here.
“Madness,” She said with a meek smile and stared up at him as he approached her.
“That’s the best response I could have hoped for,” He teased and leaned forward, placing a hand on both sides of her. With a laugh, she laid flat on the bed, falling away from his approaching face.
“Perhaps, if this is even remotely possible, I’ve come to realize that I somewhat like you being around too.” Hermione said and closed her eyes softly. She was afraid her own eyes would deceive her fight against the butterflies flying rampant inside of her.
“Open your eyes,” Draco whispered with surprising command. A small gasp trapped in her throat with how close he was. Bright blue eyes had her caught up in a cloud of nothing but him.
“What are you doing, Draco?”
“That’s a silly question to ask,” His fingertips danced from the sheets, to her hip, slowly up to her neck. Heat burned deep inside them both. He slipped his hand under her neck, gently pulling her hair as he lifted her head from the blankets. “You are the only thought on my mind.”
“That isn’t fair, you can read mine. I haven’t a clue if you’re being honest.” Such enormous emotions come out of her small smile that it amazed him.
“I have the thought that I want to kiss you, but I’m afraid how you’ll react.” With slight trepidation, Hermione allowed her hands to wrap around his biceps and squeeze. There was no hesitation for him. Draco had her locked underneath of him in a moment, lips frenzied against the others. He pushed tight against her making her dig fingertips hard into his arms. Suddenly, he pulled away and groaned.
“I’m sorry,” Hermione sat up, not knowing what shifted.
“Harry is coming.” Draco said just as the door creaked open.
“There is -” Harry blinked a few times and frowned, seeing Hermione on Draco’s bed and him towering above her. “Hermione, what are you doing in here?”
“There is what?” Draco cut in seeing the blush fill her cheeks.
“A meeting is happening right now. There are rumors of a raid happening in a muggle town south of London.” Harry said quickly and immediately turned his attention to Hermione. “I really wish I would stop seeing you on his bed.”
“What town?” Hermione asked quickly standing up, Draco now to the shadows of her mind.
“I don’t know, we’re missing the meeting.” Harry said with a tone of aggravation. He followed Hermione closely out, purposefully cutting Draco off as they hurried to the meeting.
Harry pulled open the double doors of the study and a bustling commotion roared inside. Only a few members were actually seated like meetings used to be conducted. It was difficult to keep emotions low with tension and anxiety doubling each day.
“Harry will tell you! We need to help that town, no matter how small!” Marlene Presto, a beautiful witch said with fierce confidence the moment Harry came through the doors.
“We’ll never come to a decision, the group will split.” Hermione whispered to Draco with worry lines creasing her face.
“Everyone, please, we need to calm ourselves and think rationally!” Tonks shouted over everyone, but the mass grew louder. A piercing whistling resounded through the room and McGonagall straightened herself as the crowd looked to her in silence.
“I’ve had better behavior from first years!” She reprimanded with a look of annoyed disappointment. “This is not up for discussion any longer. We will send a group of volunteers to protect the people of that town, and capture the Deatheaters responsible. Now, who is willing to come?” McGonagall said with authority.
“The town is remote and inconsequential, why are we risking important lives for such a mission?” An older wizard asked.
“And the most likely circumstance puts us in a raid of nameless Deatheaters that are meaningless to You-Know-Who.” Another worried member interjected.
“I’ll go.” Hermione was the first to volunteer and the entire room went silent. McGonagall fought to tell her ‘no’, that she was far too young, but she knew Hermione had talent that many of the other members didn’t. Harry wrapped his fingers in hers and raised his hand with confidence.
“Just because the town is far, and the people are unimportant doesn’t mean our help isn’t needed. The greater our numbers the more chance we have at making this a safe and successful mission. Don’t leave those muggles to die. It’ll be a massacre and we all know it. They have no idea what is coming to them, what exists in their world.” Harry said calmly. Hands began rising in the room. Draco was confused by the need for speeches and arguing. It was just a small raid, no one important would be there, and the town was on the fringe away from anything else. Just let it happen, why risk your life? No one in the room knew a single muggle that would be there. Raids happened on a daily basis, so what did it matter? He watched as Harry wrapped his arms around Hermione and whispered into her ear. She had her eyes closed gently and her hands were balled around his sweater. She was terrified. Draco couldn’t even hear the preparations being made and the names called off as volunteers. He was focused on the girl a few feet from him and he couldn’t stand it. Before instructions were finished, Draco was out of the room. Ron was walking slowly down the stairs.
“Why weren’t you in the meeting?” Draco asked harsher than he meant.
“I’m sick, remember.” Ron shot back angrily.
“They’re leaving. Harry and Hermione.” Draco mentioned staring at the wall instead.
“The raid is happening?” Ron asked with shock. “I was hoping it was just a rumor. They can’t go on that mission.” He added with hurried concern.
“Exactly! They could get hurt for such a stupid reason.” Draco said, happy someone else agreed. The doors opened and people filled the hall. Ron disappeared in the crowd and quickly found Harry. Hermione quietly walked up to Draco.
“You’re terrified of this war. I can see it so plainly in your face, and yet you still fight. Why do you do this to yourself?” Draco asked feeling the tightness in his chest growing.
“When you finally find something to fight for, you’ll understand.” Hermione said in a low voice. She knew he would only tell her not to go, but she had to. It was her duty. She had to protect those people and he clearly didn’t understand that need. “I will see you and Ron when we get back.” She said and turned from him, not wanting a response.
“What if you don’t come back?” Draco asked after her, but she didn’t stop. He couldn’t let her leave; not now, not after he felt what she could give to him. The members dispersed around the house and some back to their own homes. Altogether ten witches and wizards were going, Hermione and Harry included among them. They were quick to prep and head out to a safe apparation point. Ron was left cussing to himself in the now empty hall.
“I should be with them.” Ron groaned and punched the door they walked through. Draco winced at the thud and imagined the fire fight that could happen.
“You’re sick, that’s why they wouldn’t let you?” Draco asked and Ron turned, red faced and angry.
“I don’t care if I’m on my death bed. Those two are my family and I have to be there to make sure they get back alright.” Ron said and it struck Draco with a force he wasn’t used to. It was the unknown that scared Hermione, but at the same time it is what drove her. To let another, even a stranger, fight against the unknown when she was able to intervene was out of the question. He couldn’t let her get hurt. The thought of Hermione not coming back overtook his senses and all thought. A surge of static rolled over his body and he grabbed Ron’s forearm.
“How desperately do you want to help them?” Draco asked with electricity in his voice.
“More than anything,” Ron replied with new strength. A tightness pulled across his entire body and before he could realize it, Draco had them apparated through the containment spells and enchantments after the others.
Author's Note: It's been forever, I know I promised to update, but life has come up and I was pulled away :( Let me know what you think please! I need the encouragement after so long.
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