“Harry, mate, what’s up?” Ron asked as the three of us approached him, Seamus and Dean still at the table trying to figure a way to beat Ron.
“I-,” Harry began before choking up.
“Whatever it is Harry, it can’t be that bad,” I told him, and placed my hand on his shoulder only to have him shrug it off.
“But it is,” he responded, “I’ve done something horrible.”
“What do you mean Harry?” I asked him.
“Not here,” he whispered, then turned and walked out the portrait.
The three of us stood there for a moment, confusion clearly written on each of our faces. We were only brought out of our reverie when Seamus triumphantly yelled out, “Check.” That easily broke Ron out of his thoughts and he quickly made his way over to the table, took a quick moment to look at the board, then easily captured the rook that had previously had his King in check. Seamus then made a quick move, which brought a smile to Ron’s face as he pushed his Bishop in place and pronounced, “Check Mate.”
Ron began to make his way back over to the two of us, but before he could make it all the way, Harry poked his head back into the common room and waved for us to follow him. I was nervous about the way Harry was acting, it was very unusual for him to be this upset about something so I knew that it had to be something huge, I just wasn’t sure what it was. The three of us followed him down the deserted corridors, everyone else already inside their own common rooms for the evening, and only stopped when he did in front of the infirmary.
“So maybe you guys were right about that book after,” Harry admitted as he paced back and forth in front of the entrance to the infirmary.
“What do you mean Harry?” Ginny asked him as she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“I mean that I did something horrible tonight, something that I got from that Potions book. Everything else in that book was harmless magic, how was I supposed to know that this would happen?” He began to get frantic and paced faster.
“Harry, why don’t you tell us what happened?” I suggested.
“I followed Malfoy tonight,” he started and I couldn’t help the gasp that escaped my lips. “I followed him into a bathroom where I caught him crying. He seemed a bit freaked out that he had been caught crying, and well, I might have provoked him a bit, but he pulled his wand out on me first, and well, I had just seen the spell in the book, and it was the first thing that came to mind. Here, take a look.” He then pushed open the door to the infirmary slightly just enough so that we could catch a glance of what laid beyond it.
“Harry, what did you do?” I yelled as I caught sight of Draco Malfoy lying pale on the nearest bed.
“I didn’t mean for it to happen Hermione,” he yelled back as he closed the door, not wanting anyone inside to overhear our conversation. “Like I said I didn’t think the spell would do any real harm, none of the other ones had, but when I used this one, I don’t know, it was like a bunch of knives were slashing at his body. If Professor Snape hadn’t come in, I probably would have killed him.” Harry whispered the last part as he slid down the rough wall behind him.
He looked defeated and upset with himself but I just couldn’t get rid of my own anger that was boiling through me. This whole time I thought that Draco had purposefully stood me up because of what I had said to him yesterday, but instead the only reason he didn’t come was because my own friend had put him into the infirmary. My heart broke for the two boys, the one who didn’t realize what he was doing when playing with spells he didn’t know and the other who was now pale and seemed to be fighting for his very life.
“Harry, you know what you have to do,” I told him. “You have to get rid of that book. Put it somewhere nobody will find it, where it can’t be used again.”
“I know just the place,” Ginny told Harry as she grabbed ahold of his hand and began to drag him away.
I turned to Ron and just started at him for a moment, neither of us saying anything to the other. This was one of the first times that we had been alone together since he had started dating Lavender and my heart wasn’t aching, at least not for him. I opened my mouth to say something to him, to say how sorry I was for how I had been acting to both him and Lavender, but nothing came out. I tried a second time, and still nothing. Finally, I gave up and walked past him and began the long lone walk back to the common room. I could hear his heavy footsteps following behind me but did not slow down to allow him to catch up to me, preferring to be alone with my thoughts. I had to figure out a way to sneak out of the tower and back to Draco without my friends discovering where I was going or what I was up to.
Ron and I spent several quiet hours on the couch, waiting for Harry and Ginny to come back from wherever it was that she had dragged him off to. They came in just before curfew, a secret smile being shared between the two, which made me believe that they had finally admitted their mutual interest for each other. I sighed and wondered what it would be like, to like someone and be liked back in the same way. The closest I had ever come to that feeling was with Krum in fourth year, though it was only him who was interested in something more than a friendship. I guess this year it had been my turn to feel what he must have felt, the longing for someone who didn’t want what you wanted, except now I’m getting it twice fold. Not only was I getting this feeling from Ron, but I realized as I sat there on the couch worrying about Draco, that maybe it wasn’t just companionship that I wanted in Draco. I had gotten to see a whole new side to him that I was sure no one else had ever seen before, and I liked it. He was a surprisingly compassionate person, though he was not without his own downfalls, in particular, he believed that he could handle everything on his own and did not need to confide in anyone else.
I sighed as I got up from my spot on the couch and feigned tiredness before making my way up to bed. I wasn’t exactly tired, and as a matter of fact, I planned on sneaking back down later this evening after everyone was already asleep, but I wanted to be alone. Each step I took seemed to accentuate the pale pallor of Draco’s face as he lay there on the infirmary bed and it took all my effort just to make it up the few steps and into my bed. I hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but the moment my head hit the pillow, I was out for the evening.
The next morning, I woke up a bit groggy and only just in time to get ready for classes. My head was pounding against my skull, protesting against the stress that I had been putting it through with tests and worrying about Draco. Draco! I completely forgot to go check on him last night and now I wouldn’t have time until after classes this evening to be able to pull myself away from Harry and Ron without them wondering what I was doing. My hand flew to my mouth and I began nervously chewing on each nail, a horrid habit that I had picked up from my father and had been unable to break.
Thoughts exploded in my head, which didn’t help my headache at all, about whether Draco was still alive or if Harry’s spell had done him in, and if he was alive, was he even awake? Was he spending listless hours hoping that I would show up and keep him company, or was he rather glad he didn’t have to see me? Maybe he had never planned on coming to the library in the first place and ending up in the infirmary only gave him a proper excuse for not coming. But then again, what if he had been trying to come when Harry ran into him in that bathroom and Harry was the only reason he hadn’t come? It was all so confusing and I wasn’t really sure what to think any more.
Why did my feelings have to come in and complicate things? I had been doing just fine before they came in and messed things up and now here I was a total wreck over some guy who probably didn’t even care. Was my heart just trying to get in the most damage it could in one year, because I could think of plenty of other ways to make that happen than to chase after guys who didn’t even care.
Suffice it to say, sitting through classes had been excruciating. I had hoped that maybe Draco would already be doing well enough to join us for classes but after sitting through the first class I had with Slytherins, which was half way through the day, and he had not shown up, I knew it was a lost cause. My nerves were a complete wreck and I couldn’t eat, which would be an absolute horror to both Crabbe and Goyle who despite their friend being in the hospital wing still managed to eat more than their fair share of the food. I gave up halfway through dinner and decided to make my way to the hospital wing, leaving both Harry and Ron behind me, both still chatting away and eating as if Harry was not the reason Draco was in the hospital wing in the first place.
There he was, in the same place he was yesterday and looking just as pale. From my place in the doorway, I couldn’t tell if he was sleeping or lying awake, and I was almost afraid to go over and find out, but when I heard him moan out in pain, I rushed to his side. His eyes were screwed shut, pain lacing his features heavily, and when he moaned out once more, I placed my hand upon his forehead, trying to calm him down. Madame Promfrey came bursting out of her office at that moment and I quickly snatched my hand away from him. I could see in her eyes that my presence there confused her but she didn’t say anything to me, instead she just worked around me as she forced Draco to take some potion out of a blue bottle. It must have been something similar to the calming draught as within minutes, his moaning stopped and his eyes began to flutter open.
I smiled at him, a bit hesitantly at first, unsure if he even wanted me here, but as a small smirk made its way to his lips, I knew I had made the right decision to come. We didn’t say anything for a while, the pain still affecting him internally though not to the same extent that it had when I had first come in, and honestly now that I was here in front of him, I wasn’t sure what to say. Should I say sorry for Harry’s actions? Tell him how I feel? No,
I decided that that last thought was not at all the right thing to say. It turned out though that I didn’t have to worry about what to say as he was the one to begin the conversation.
“What are you doing here?” He asked, his voice gruff from non-use the past day.
“Well, I came to see you, make sure you’re alright. I couldn’t believe it when Harry told me,” I began, but he cut me off much too quickly.
“That’s right; your wonderful Potter boy isn’t so wonderful after all is he?” Draco demanded, and I knew that I had already managed to say something wrong just by mentioning Harry’s name.
“He didn’t mean to Draco,” I said trying to defend Harry. “He didn’t know what that spell could do.”
“Of course that’s what he wants you to believe. I was the one threatened, but yet he’s the one who gets all the sympathy.”
“No, it’s not like that,” I told him, wishing that I had never mentioned Harry’s name so that none of this would have come up. “Listen, I know your upset right now, and I know that you’re afraid, but let me help you. I know that this isn’t like you Draco.”
“You know me, you know me,” Draco spat. “You don’t know me Hermione.”
“I do,” I whispered.
“If you know me so well, than what am I doing every night? Where do I go every night after we study together?”
“I, I don’t know, but I do know that it doesn’t matter where you are going or what you are doing. Nothing you do could make me believe that there isn’t some good in you.”
“Are you so sure about that?” He asked, his voice rising each time he spoke and I was afraid that Madame Profrey would come out. “Every night I’m doing everything I can to plan Dumbledore’s demise. My earlier plans may not have worked out, the necklace, the mead.”
I cut him off before he could say anything more, “That was you! You’re the one who put Katie Bell in the hospital?”
“I told you, you don’t know me Hermione. I will do whatever it takes to keep myself safe. My family is already in enough trouble with the Dark Lord with the mess my father made at the Ministry last year. He entrusted this to me.”
“Because he thinks you’ll fail,” I screeched at him. “And you will, you will fail if you continue this Draco. Why don’t you just talk to Dumbledore, he’ll help you.”
“He can’t help me Hermione, there’s nothing either of you can do to help me so stop trying.”
“I won’t stop trying to help you just because you’re telling me to,” I told him and made my way out of the infirmary, leaving him to think about everything I had said this evening.
My words were true though, I wasn’t going to stop trying to help him just because he said he wanted me to. As a matter of fact his words only made it that much more important that I did help him. I just had to figure out exactly how I could help and I think I know exactly where to start.
AN: I want to thank everyone who has read this story so far, I can't believe that I'm almost to 200 reviews! Please note that I'm currently looking for a new beta so this chapter has not been beta read yet! If anyone is interested in being my beta for this story please head over to the forums and let me know in my topic in the beta needed section. As always I look forward to any reviews you all leave me, even the simple liked it's always make my day! I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter!