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Chapter 21 : Chapter 21
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A week later, neither Draco or Pansy had returned to Hogwarts. Hermione was finding it easier to get out of bed in the morning, easier to be around people and to be sociable. The pain of Draco's actions had by no means lessened though. It still hurt to think of him, to hear his name. She dreamt of him every night, always the same dream.
She and Draco were standing in the room of requirement, the set up was the same as it was on their Valentines date. Draco had just presented her with the ruby and emerald necklace. As soon as he had fastened it around her neck it had transfigured, became an acid green snake, growing and wrapping itself tightly around her, starting with her neck and eventually binding her arms and legs. Draco simply stood and laughed, a cold, harsh laugh. A wave of his wand and Pansy entered, striding straight over to Draco and wrapping her arms around him. Hermione, paralysed, could do nothing but watch them embrace until her own cries woke her up, sweating and tangled in her bed sheets.
The first night she had suffered from the nightmare, the day after hers and Draco's public break up, she had woken up with the necklace still around her neck, having forgotten she was still wearing it. She had immediately removed it and returned it to the box it had been in and put it at the bottom of her trunk, along with, reluctantly, her copy of Hogwarts:A History that Draco had given her and a few other items that had reminded her of them. It didn't stop the dream though, every night she would close her eyes knowing that the same nightmare was waiting for her when she finally fell asleep.
Hermione spent as little time as possible with her peers, Ginny being the only exception. She would sit alone in classes, spend spare time in the library or walk the grounds with Ginny. At mealtimes, as she was again avoiding the Great Hall, dreading Draco's return, Minnie would bring her meals and Hermione would pick at them and move the food around her plate, her appetite still hadn't quite returned.
The weather had began to change, Spring was in the air at Hogwarts and Hermione was thankful for it. Ginny kept insisting that Hermione walk the grounds with her or sit by the lake, promising Hermione that the fresh air would do her good. The Saturday that marked two weeks since her break up with Draco was a particularly warm day for the time of year. Ginny had dragged Hermione out again, a stack of toast in her hand to make sure she at least ate something that day.
"So..." Ginny glanced at Hermione out of the corner of her eye, monitoring her reaction, "how are you? It's been two weeks Hermione, you need to talk about him, it will make you feel better."
"I'm fine, Gin, honestly. I won't let a boy get to me, Gryffindor bravery and all that." Hermione replied, attempting nonchalance.
Ginny raised her eyebrows. "Hermione Granger do you think I was born yesterday? I get it, really I do. It's okay to admit to people that you're hurting, that's what friends are for." She said kindly and then added, "and I suspect your 'Gryffindor bravery' is nothing more than a brave face."
Hermione gave a long sigh. "So, what Ginny? What do you expect from me? Do you want me to cry? Say that I miss him? Say that every minute of every day something reminds me of him, reminds me of what he did and said? Tell you that I've been having the same dream about him, that I can't get his voice out of my head? All I hear is 'mudblood, mudblood, mudblood'! That one word that says I'm not good enough for him and never will be! What good does it do to say it all out loud? It doesn't make it any less true..." with that Hermione crumpled on to the hard ground beneath her, hugging her knees to her chest, sobbing. She felt Ginny's arm around her shoulders, silently comforting her.
For what felt like hours, the two friends sat this way. Hermione's sobs subsiding slowly until the tears were falling down her face with no sound coming from her. Ginny opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by a voice shouting Hermione's name. She quickly stood up and wiped away the last of her tears. Both girls looked toward the castle to see Dennis Creevey running across the grass so quickly that he was stumbling, tripping over his own feet.
"Her...mi...nee" he panted once he had reached them. "Professor McGonagall...she wants to see you...said it's urgent." He was now doubled over clutching his side.
"Thanks Dennis, next time you have a message for someone try not to injure yourself delivering it. Ginny? Sit with him until he's caught his breath will you?" Ginny nodded and Hermione left the pair and headed to the Headmistresses office.
McGonagall was at her desk when Hermione arrived, engrossed in a letter on her desk. Hermione cleared her throat, not wanting to startle her.
"Ah, Miss Granger, please have a seat. I have some important news for you." She gestured to the chair opposite her and folded the letter she had been reading.
"I've just received a letter from St. Mungos regarding Mr Malfoy." She began once Hermione had sat down. "He has been rather ill this last week, the healers were unable to run any testing or healing spells on him due to his mental state. He was in and out of consciousness for a few days and then was very confused when he woke up, alternating between extreme aggression and confusion. He has improved and the healers have finally been able to determine the problem."
"Determine the problem?" Hermione interrupted. "He was punched by two rather idiotic boys and banged his head, that's all."
"Actually, Miss Granger, it seems there was more to it than that. Mr Malfoy was placed under the imperious curse two weeks ago. Your friends, honourable and chivalrous as their intentions were, caused a fair bit of damage when they caused him to bang his head. The concussion and the imperious curse combined caused the lack of consciousness. When he woke he was in between two states; the effects of the curse, which was the aggressive side, and himself prior to the curse, which caused the confusion."
Hermione stared blankly at Professor McGonagall trying to absorb the new information. "But...I don't...who...how?" She stammered.
"Miss Parkinson. According to Draco, she hit him with the spell the morning of the last Hogsmeade visit, as he was leaving his dormitory. This explains why she has fled the school. Currently Harry, Ron and their team are looking for her."
Hermione couldn't speak. She imperiurised him before the last Hogsmeade visit, the morning after Valentines Day, the day Draco broke up with her. That meant...
"Professor, I have to see him! Now!" Hermione stood up, looking frantically around the room as if she expected Draco to simply appear there.
McGonagall smiled. "Ah, you have realised the extent of Miss Parkison's damage, of course..."
"Can I see him then? Can I go now?" Hermione was getting impatient.
"Absolutely, he's..." Professor McGonagall began.
Hermione wasn't listening to the Headmistress, she ran to the lit fireplace and grabbed a handful of floo powder, throwing it clumsily into the fire and stepping in.
"Miss Granger! What are you...wait!"
McGonagall yelled at the same time as Hermione shouted, "St. Mungos!"
Just as Hermione had disappeared out of sight the door to the Headmistresses office burst open.
"Professor! Is she here? Ginny said she came to see you."
"I'm sorry, she used to floo system to travel to St Mungos before I could explain. She left in a hurry, I'm sure she'll come back equally as fast when she realised you are no longer there Mr Malfoy..."
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