AN: Ok, I'm really sorry for the long wait, but I've been very sick!.anyway here is chapter 5!
"Hermione, Blaise and Pansy would like to come and visit you when we're done with your bath. Would that be alright?" Draco said as he carried Hermione into the bathroom. He could feel her body shaking, but she nodded once. "I will be there. I won't leave. Promise." He said gently, burying his face in Hermione's hair for a moment before lowering her into the steaming water.
"You have visitors, Draco." Arrianna's voice called as Draco was carrying Hermione downstairs to the common room.
"Let them in please, and thank you very much Arrianna." Draco said as Blaise and Pansy came into view. "Hello you two. I hope you haven't eaten yet." Draco smiled and sat Hermione gently on the couch.
"No, we're both starving. Hello Hermione. I'm very sorry about what happened. How are you?" Blaise said, crouching down before the couch so that Hermione could see him. Pansy did as well.
"I know that I've never been nice to you, Hermione, and I want to apologize for everything. I want...I want to help you, if you'll let me." Pansy said quietly.
Hermione looked up at Draco, a small smile on her lips. Draco nodded and turned to his fellow Slytherins."I believe Hermione is trying to say thank you. Is that right?" Hermione nodded. "Right, well would you like to eat while I brush your hair?" Nothing. "Alright, let's eat first then. Would you like to show Blaise and Pansy the banner the house elves made for you?" Silence. "Alright then." Draco said, smiling and summoning the banner from Hermione's room while calling for Twilly.
"It's so beautiful, Hermione. I bet you keep it in your room so you can see it all the time. It's...what's the word I'm looking for...soothing, that's it!" Pansy said, admiring the banner as they waited for Twilly to bring their food.
"Twilly is so sorry sir, but there's be a...problem in the kitchens! I's be bringing your dinner in's twenty minutes, if that's being ok with you's, sir." Twilly said, twisting her ears as she popped back into the room.
"That's perfectly fine Twilly, there's no rush. Thank you, and please, call me Draco." Draco replied, smiling at the house elf. "That gives me time to brush Hermione's hair before we eat."
Hermione reached for the elf, tears in her eyes. Twilly took Hermione's hand in her own, tears falling freely down her face as she looked up at Hermione."You's must be getting better, Miss! We's all be worried for you!" The elf said eagerly before lowering her voice and hugging Hermione tightly about the neck. "We's all love you, Miss. You's has to get better. You just has to." Hermione nodded and hugged the elf tightly before letting go and smiling weakly at the elf, who just curtsied and vanished. Pansy and Blaise were grinning, but Draco was beaming as he watched Hermione. Tears had fallen from her eyes and were slowly making their way down her face.
Draco cupped her face in his hands, wiping away the tears with his thumbs. "Would you like me to braid your hair again?" Blaise and Pansy watched quietly. A second later Draco spoke again. "Alright then." And then he wordlessly summoned Hermione's brush and moved to stand behind the couch to brush Hermione's hair.
While they waited for Twilly to return with their food, they chatted about inconsequential things, merely making small talk until Blaise cleared his throat, looking apologetic. "Hermione, I don't want to be rude, or insensitive, but I have a question." Two soft raps.
"That means yes." Draco replied to Blaise and Pansy's curious expressions. Blaise nodded.
"Well, I was wondering...why are you so...I mean..."
Pansy smiled gently at him and turned to Hermione. "He wants to know why you're so weak, body wise." She said, hoping that it was not too sensitive a subject.
"I wondered the same thing." Draco said as he finished braiding Hermione's hair and sat down beside her. Hermione turned to him. "Hermione doesn't exactly know why either."
"I could explain, if you would like. Later, if you'd prefer. I don't want to upset you." Pansy said softly.
Silence for a moment, then two soft, hesitant raps on the coffee table.
Pansy nodded quickly. "You're body is weak because...when...when the baby's magic...died...it had no where to go, so it imploded, in a sense, within you. Your body can't take that kind of power, and all your strength was used to contain the magic, and to keep it from killing you." Pansy's voice was a whisper. Three slow raps.
"I've just had an idea. Hermione, do you think you could write?" Silence. Then Pansy and Blaise saw it. The breifest flare of life in Hermione's eyes. "Would you like to try?" Life again. Pansy smiled and nodded along with Blaise.
A few minutes later, Hermione was scribbling away on a piece of parchment slowly, as if each letter she wrote took extreme concentration. And finally, she handed the parchment to Pansy.
'You don't need to apologize about the past, but thank you. Thank you, Pansy, for telling me about the magic, and for being here. Blaise too.'
Pansy read it with tears in her eyes, then passed it to Blaise, who smiled and laughed. "You wouldn't have been able to keep us away if you wanted to." He said, laughing. Just then Twilly popped back in with their food. "Perfect, I'm starving!" Blaise exclaimed.
"Well, I'd say we should head back, but I think it's past even our curfew." Pansy said after they finished eating.
"How about a slumber party then? We could all crash down here, there's enough space for four beds." Draco said, looking down at Hermione, who was already writing a response.
'I'd like that. Been ages since I had a slumber party. Will you still read to me? Please?'
"Of course I will. How about 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan?" Hermione nodded and smiled.
"You'll do what Draco?" Pansy asked at the same time as Blaise asked what he was attoning for.
Draco laughed and shook his head. "I read to Hermione before bed, and I was asking if she would like me to read 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan. We just finished Romeo and Juliet last night." Pansy raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Blaise just shook his head and conjured four beds, complete with silk sheets and heavy comforters and fluffy pillows.
"Let's get you into bed then. Would you like to try walking or are you too tired?" Draco asked softly, Hermione's eyes were already drooping. Nothing. "Come on honey, into bed with you. It's been a long day for you, and you need your rest. Is it alright if I go get the book from my room? I'll be right back." Hermione nodded and snuggled under the covers. Draco smiled.
Pansy followed him to his room. "You care for her." It wasn't a question.
"Yes." Draco said, meeting Pansy's eyes.
"I'm happy for you, Draco." Pansy smiled and hugged him. "Can I just ask one question?" Draco pulled away and nodded. "When did you start caring for her?"
Draco sighed and pulled away. "Honestly?"
"When I saw her right after the final battle. She was just standing there, her hair a mess and with blood all over her, watching the sun rise. She was so...full of life and happiness, even when she saw me standing there, she just turned back to the sunrise. I didn't know that she could be like that, craving something as simple as the sunrise. It..."
"It made you take notice. Of everything." Pansy said softly.
Draco nodded. "She was beautiful, Pans, and so proud and confident. She was...brighter than the sun that day."
When they returned to the common room, they found Hermione where Draco had left her on her bed, with the covers pulled down and waiting on Draco. Draco smiled and climbed in next to Hermione, pulling her to him so that her head could rest on his chest while she read along as Draco read aloud. Blaise and Pansy shared a smile. They had never known Draco to let anyone that close to him, much less for him to willingly cuddle.
The morning sun filtering through the glass doors leading to the balcony woke the two Slytherin visitors, who took one look at the Head Boy and Girl, and quickly left for their own common room. Twenty minutes later, Draco woke up, only to find himself wrapped around Hermione. They were facing each other, their legs tangled together, with Draco's arms around Hermione, her's resting on his chest. It was comforting, natural, intimate. Draco watched Hermione sleep for a few minutes before he heard Arrianna's soft whisper.
"Draco, the Headmistress is outside, should I let her in?"
Draco sighed and slipped from the bed, tucking the covers around Hermione gently. "Of course. Thank you, Arrianna."
"I see you had a sleepover." Professor McGonagall said when she entered the common room.
"Blaise and Pansy wanted to check on Hermione, and to apologize." Draco replied in a whisper. Hermione was moving restlessly in her sleep, her hands reaching out and her eyebrows furrowed. McGonagall saw.
But Draco had already moved, sitting next to Hermione and pulling her head into his lap gently, running his fingers through her hair to soothe her. "I'm here. Shhh, sleep Hermione. I'm not going anywhere."
McGonagall watched silently as Hermione settled back into a peaceful sleep, her hand clutching one of Draco's tightly. "It's good, that they would check on Hermione. How did she react?"
"She was fine, she even found out she has the strength to write now, but it's a little slow, like she has to concentrate to form the letters. She's getting better. It's slow going, but she's getting there." Draco said quietly, not looking up from Hermione's sleeping face.
"The Daily Prophet has had a field day with your... ahem...speech, last night. Thankfully, they have backed off Miss Granger, for now at least. I thought you would like to know who they are demanding to interview now." McGonagall said softly.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, and Miss Weasley."
"Good, serves them right, though I don't know how they could... You're letting them in, aren't you, Professor?"
"I see no reason not to, Mr. Malfoy." The Headmistress said with a smile.
Just then, Hermione woke, her eyes fluttering for a moment before opening. "Hermione, the Headmistress is here to see you, ok?" Draco said softly. He could feel her tense for a moment before relaxing and sitting up slowly.
"Hermione, I just wanted to check on you and see how you're doing. I will leave if you'd like." McGonagall said gently. Her heart broke for Hermione. The girl had been through so much in her short life. Hermione reached slowly for a piece of parchment and a quill.
'I'm ok. I'm weak, but Pansy explained why, and that it should pass. Thank you for checking on me, Professor.'
Hermione held the note out to the Headmistress, flinching slightly when the older woman reached toward her for it. McGonagall read the note quickly, nodding to herself. "Very well. I'm glad to know that you are on the mend, Hermione. I'll leave you two to it now, I can see that I make you uncomfortable. I wish you the best, Hermione. Draco, take care of her." McGonagall said, sweeping from the room.
Ten minutes later Arrianna spoke again while Draco was getting ready to give Hermione a bath. She was running a slight fever and sweating as the fever broke. "Blaise and Pansy are here, Draco."
"Thank you Arrianna." Draco called distractedly as he tried to brush the knots from Hermione's hair. "I don't know how your hair got so tangled Hermione. I'm sorry if I'm hurting you." Hermione turned her face to his for a moment, giving him a small smile before closing her eyes and turning back to face the fire.
"Hello you two! We brought breakfast!" Pansy called as she came into the common room, smiling brightly.
"Lots of it too." Blaise said as he came to stand in front of Hermione. "Good morning Hermione. Draco." He said, kneeling down so that he was level with Hermione. "Hermione, do you get the Daily Prophet?" He asked gently. Hermione opened her eyes and gave him a questioning look as she nodded yes. "Will you do me a favor and not look at today's edition? Please?" Hermione turned to the window, which had opened to admit the owl carrying her copy of the Prophet. Blaise's face paled. Hermione smiled, took the paper and paid the owl, sending it on it's way before throwing the paper into the fire without glancing at it once. She smiled at Blaise. "Thank you." He said breathlessly. He knew she would be upset at the article that had been printed about Draco's little speech.
'Thank you, I know it probably had something about me. I appreciate that.' Hermione handed Blaise the note, smiling at Pansy in place of a hello.
"So, what are we doing today? McGonagall gave me and Blaise the day off today, though I have no idea why." Pansy said, plopping down on the sofa next to Hermione.
"Well, Hermione's had a bit of a fever, so she needs a warm bath, and then I was thinking on taking her to the Library, if she wanted to go." Draco said. Hermione's eyes flew open. "Everyone will be in class, and I can cast an invisibility charm so that only we can see you, if you want." Draco continued, gesturing to Pansy, Blaise, and himself. "You can't stay cooped up in here forever Hermione. It's not good for you."
Pansy placed a hand hesitantly to Hermione's forehead, relieved when the girl only flinched slightly but did not pull away. "I think her fever has broken. Hermione, I can help you with your bath if you'd like. I'll leave my wand down here if it makes you feel better." Hermione nodded slowly, causing Pansy to smile.
"I'll carry you up." Draco said as he finished untangling Hermione's hair. "Blaise, kitchen." He said, drawing his wand.
Blaise looked confused for a moment, then nodded and went to the kitchen while Draco charmed the bathing suit onto Hermione. Pansy looked over Hermione quickly and nodded. "Just so you know Hermione, if he'd have put you in anything other than that bathing suit to bathe you, I'd castrate him. Luckily, Draco knows where to draw the line." Hermione's eyes widened as Draco gathered her in his arms, grinning at Pansy.
"I may be a guy Pans, but I'm not a perv. Most of the time." He said cheekily. Pansy rolled her eyes and followed him upstairs. "Let me know when you're done and I'll come get you." He said, kissing Hermione gently on top of her head as he lowered her into the hot water. Pansy watched as Hermione watched Draco leave, her eyes following his every movement.
"Let's get you good and clean. Is it ok if I get rid of this bathing suit now, Hermione? I think it would help you get cleaner....um...you know." Pansy said, blushing. Hermione blushed and nodded, signaling Pansy to turn around for a moment. "Right, you can wash...and then I'll help with the rest." Hermione tapped twice on the side of the tub and Pansy laughed. "Was it this awkward the first time Draco had to give you a bath?" One tap, then two a moment later. Pansy laughed. "Yes and no. Figures. I'll bet Draco was beside himself trying to be polite and a gentleman." Pansy said, turning back around when Hermione touched her arm. Hermione nodded. Pansy laughed again and helped Hermione wash her hair.
"Hermione, I want to tell you something, but...well, it's not my place to say anything..." Hermione gave her a concerned, questioning look. Pansy sighed. "I'll just say that in all the years I've known Draco, and I've known him our whole lives, I've never once seen him like this." Pansy sighed again. "Draco would kill me if I said anything else. You won't tell him, will you?" Hermione shook her head, a ghost of a smile on her lips as she pointed to her throat, opening her mouth repeatedly like a fish gasping. Pansy laughed and shook her head. "Let's get this suit back on so Draco can get you out, and then I'll help you get dressed." Pansy said, still laughing.
Five minutes later Hermione was sitting on the edge of her bed, wrapped up in a large fluffy towel. "Draco, out. Hermione needs to get dressed."
"I can do that Pansy." Draco said.
"I'm sure you can, but if I know both you and Hermione like I think I do, then neither of you wants to have you here to pick out her under garments. Now out." Pansy said, smirking at the horrified look on Draco's face. Hermione was smirking too, a sight that warmed Pansy's heart. Hermione waved him out when Draco looked at her breifly, his face red.
"Just...call me when you're done." He said before bolting for the door, closing it behind him softly. Pansy burst out laughing and Hermione giggled.
'Never let me forget the look on his face just then.' She wrote quickly, handing the note to Pansy, who just nodded and laughed harder.
"Not in a million years. Now, let's get you out of that bathing suit and into some real clothes. You can't go to the library in pjs, now can you?" And with that, Pansy was off, looking through Hermione's closet for a pair of comfortable jeans and a nice green tank top with a lightweight black zip up jacket over it. She even put socks and Hermione's black tennis shoes on Hermione before calling Draco.
"I thought you were helping Hermione get dressed." He said as he saw Hermione sitting where he left her, the towel still wrapped around her.
Pansy shook her head and smiled at Hermione. "She is dressed, you dunce. Her hair is wet and she didn't want me to brush it, so I made her keep the towel on so her clothes wouldn't get wet from her hair. The last thing she needs is to go around in half wet clothes and get sick. She just got over a fever! Honestly." Pansy said, turning to Hermione. "Men." Hermione grinned and rolled her eyes as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"What is this, pick on Draco day?" Draco said as he bent to gather Hermione in his arms so he could carry her downstairs. Hermione giggled and nodded, rolling her eyes as if he should have already have figured that out. "You wound me!" He said playfully, his heart skipping a beat as Hermione immediately laid her head on his chest as he picked her up. Draco smiled to himself, catching Pansy's tearful look. Pansy shook her head and smiled when he gave her a concerned look.
"Bout time! I'm starving! Why do you girls always have to take forever to do anything?' Blaise said as Draco settled Hermione on a fluffy cushion on the floor in front of the sofa before sitting behind her with her hairbrush in hand.
"Don't be so dramatic Blaise." Pansy said as she watched Draco and Hermione. She could see how gentle Draco was with Hermione, as if she were made of the most precious, fragile glass. And Hermione relaxed immediately, her eyes drooping nearly closed, a small smile on her face as she watched the fire.
"So you said McGonagall gave you two the day off?" Draco said after a moment, not looking up from Hermione's hair.
"Yeah, it was weird, she caught us on the way here, we were bringing you guys breakfast from the kitchens and she just smiled and told us to take a day off. It was weird, not that I'm complaining, mind you." Blaise said, smiling.
"I think that was her way of thanking you two, for last night. She came to check on Hermione this morning and I told her you two slept over last night and all." Draco said smiling, looking up just as the fire turned green and a figured emmerged from within the flames.
"Hermione?! Oh Hermione, dear! I've only just heard, oh dear-"
"No! I hate you! I hate you! Get out! Out! I hate you!" Hermione screamed, suddenly on her feet. Draco jumped up immediately, grabbing Hermione's shoulders and spinning her around to face him.
"It's not him, Hermione! It's not him!" He yelled over her. She threw herself at him, her nails raking down his arms, leaving bloody welts in their wake.
"I hate you!" She continued yelling, her eyes dead yet wild. And then she turned her nails on herself, her fingers pulling clumps of hair and scalp from her head and scratching her face.
"Blaise! The dreamless sleep potion! Now! She's going to make her heart explode! She's too weak for this!" Draco yelled over his shoulder as he grabbed Hermione's hands and pinned them behind her back. Blaise was beside him a moment later. "Please Hermione, don't make me force you to take it." He pleaded as she thrashed in his arms. He looked at Blaise for a moment and nodded. Taking both of her wrists in one hand he forced her mouth open, wincing as she bit his finger, making him loosen his grip on her wrists as Blaise tried to force the potion into her mouth. Hermione managed to get one hand free from his grasp, her nails gouging long, deep scratches on his face. Blood welled instantly.
"Hermione Jean Granger!" Molly shouted from her place by the fire just as the potion touched Hermione's tongue. Hermione's eyes flew to Mrs. Weasley in shock before turning back to Draco, his face inches from hers as her body began to relax. Tears welled in her eyes as she raised her hand to cup the cheek she had injured just a moment ago.
"Don't you cry for me, Hermione. I know you didn't mean it." Draco whispered as Hermione's eyes fluttered closed, her body going limp in his arms. Draco lifted her easily into his arms, holding her for a moment as he made sure her heart had indeed slowed before he placed her on the bed. He shot past Mrs. Weasley blindly, returning a moment later with the first aid kit from the bathroom.
"Oh, dear, let's-" Mrs. Weasley began when she saw the box in his hands. Draco walked right past her as if she weren't there.
"Excuse me, Mrs. Weasley, but there's no point trying to talk to him right now. He's focused on Hermione. He'll come back to us once she's taken care of." Pansy said, sitting down heavily on the sofa.
Mrs. Weasley moved toward the bed and Hermione. "Don't. Please, don't try to help. Draco....he...he's the only one Hermione trusts. Please, sit and wait a while. I'm sure it won't take long, and then you can talk." Blaise said, moving to stand in front of her. Molly nodded silently, tears in her eyes.
Ten minutes later Draco sighed heavily and stood up from the side of the bed, tucking the covers around Hermione gently before turning to Mrs. Weasley. "Mrs. Weasley, I'm so sorry for what happened. Hermione didn't mean what she said." He said heavily, running a hand through his hair.
"I know she didn't. She saw the red hair and thought I was Ronald, I assume." She said sadly. "Let me clean you up dear." Draco nodded and sat beside her as she tended quickly to his arms. Pansy and Blaise silently went into the kitchen.
"I want to apologize to you, Mrs. Weasley. For everything I ever said or did that hurt you and your family. And I truly hope that you can forgive me for not extending that apology to your youngest son and daughter." Draco said quietly, holding the woman's gaze evenly. She nodded.
"I don't blame you Draco. I've already forgiven you for anything you may have done." Molly smiled at his surprised look. "You have more than made up for your past hurts, dear. You've taken care of my daughter." Molly's eyes lingered on Hermione's sleeping body a few feet away. "Ever since I first met Hermione, she has been like a daughter to me, and after she and Harry and Ron came back from Australia with the news that Hermione's parents were dead, well, I insisted she stay with us, and I helped her cope as best as I could. Hermione is my daughter in all but blood, and I want to thank you for being here for her." Molly said, tears in her eyes.
"I read in the Prophet what you did last night, and I'm very proud of you, and I know that your mother would be too." She whispered gently. "I'm sorry for bursting in here like this, I didn't even think how Hermione would react. I was just so worried about her."
Draco nodded and smiled. "She knew, right before she fell asleep, who you were. I think...I can't be sure, but, I think, she'll be glad that you're here when she wakes. If you would like to stay, we would be glad to have you for the day."
Molly smiled and nodded, her tears escaping and rolling silently down her face. "I would like that very much." She said as she finished healing his cheek. "Are you hungry, dear? I can whip something up while we wait for Hermione."
"There's no need, thanks! We brought plenty of food already!" Blaise said, grinning as he carried five plates into the room from the kitchen.
"Hermione hasn't eaten yet, so I think I'll give her the antidote and see if she will eat. Mrs. Weasley-"
"Molly, if you wouldn't mind waiting in the kitchen for a moment, so that I can prepare Hermione..."
"Of course, dear." Molly said, retreating to the kitchen.
"Blaise, please go with her. Hermione might be agitated if she sees you right off." Draco said, nodding his thanks as Blaise followed Mrs. Weasley.
"Hermione, wake up honey. You have a visitor." Draco said as Hermione's eyes fluttered and then opened. Her hand immediately flew to his cheek. "I'm ok. Didn't even leave a mark." He said gently, smiling at her. "Do you remember who was here earlier?" Hermione's eyes grew round but she nodded. "She's not mad, I promise. But Mrs. Weasley wants to see you. If you don't want to then you don't have to."
"Hermione, dear? It's Molly...I've changed my hair to brown...do you want me to go?" Molly said from the doorway of the kitchen.
Hermione stood up from the bed slowly on shaky legs. Draco moved to her side instantly, and she gripped his hand tightly as she slowly took the few steps to close the distance between her and the crying woman before her. Mrs. Weasley smiled weakly and opened her arms. "Molly." Hermione croaked, flinging herself into Molly's arms, sobbing.
AN: OK, this is my fav chapter so far. I think I actually did a pretty good job on this one, plus it's super long! Yay! Don't forget to r/r!
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