Chapter 26 : End of Fifth Year
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Hermione woke up in the hospital ward at Hogwarts. Draco sat beside her and squeezed her hand. Looking at the blonde boy, memories came back to her. The fight in the department of mysteries. Sirius’ death. Voldemort’s return. Lucius Malfoy, who had begun the attack.
She turned to look at Draco Malfoy, grasping his hand with both of hers. The same platinum hair, the same thin lips, the same grey eyes. And yet, completely different than his father.
“Potter’s still unconscious, so is Lovegood.” Draco said, “Weasley’s been prowling about you like a lion,” Draco swallowed, “All of your friends have, really. So I haven’t had much chance to slip in and see you.”
“Where are they now?”
“It’s one in the morning.” Draco smiled a little.
Hermione looked around at the ward. Everything was dark. The curtain around her was mostly drawn, and through the crack she could see Harry’s glasses on a bedside table, reflected in the moonlight.
“I suppose you know what happened.” Hermione sat up and let his hand go.
“It’s all over the papers.”
Hermione looked away. Her throat was dry, but there wasn’t a glass of water to be found. She turned back to Draco. “Your father was there.”
Draco looked away. Hermione took his hand again but he snatched it back.
“You should rest.” He leaned in and hugged Hermione for a long moment, but still refused to look at her. “I’m glad you’re alright.”
Snape kicked Draco’s chair, nearly knocking the sleeping boy right out of it. He jolted up and dropped Hermione’s hand. She opened her eyes from all the ruckus. Draco stared up at Snape from his chair. He was too afraid to glance at Hermione, in bed not six inches from him.
“Get back to bed, it’s nearly six.” Snape said.
“I fell asleep,” Draco whispered. He slipped out of the hospital room, hardly glancing at Hermione as he left.
Snape took his place in the chair. “When did you wake up?”
“Late last night.” Hermione said, she took her dad’s hand and squeezed it.
“He’s been here since then?”
“He really did just fall asleep, daddy. It was already past one when I woke up, and we were just exhausted.”
“Hermione, be careful.”
“He said everyone else was here until lights out. Isn’t that why you’re here so early?”
“Yeah.” Snape said. He leaned over and brushed the hair from Hermione’s eyes. “Are you ever going to stop doing this to me?”
“Your mother is furious with me. She says I should have been watching you better, not let you get these crazy ideas in your head.”
“She’s right.” Snape hung his head. “I’m supposed to protect you, no matter what. Harry told me where you were going and I did nothing.”
“You sent the order after us.”
“I shouldn’t have let you go in the first place.” Snape was trying not to shout now. “I should have made you all stay here and send the order. At the very least, I should have come and got you myself.”
“You couldn’t have come though, could you?” Hermione whispered.
Snape stayed silent and stared at Hermione.
“I know you used to be a death eater, Dad. But they all still know you, you talk to Lucius Malfoy all the time. You’re still connected to them somehow, aren’t you? That’s why you’re always so worried about people knowing about me.”
“My smart girl.” Snape swallowed. “This is never to come out to anyone, not Harry, especially not Draco.”
“Dumbledore has asked me to keep working with the death eaters and keep him informed on their plans. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last fifteen years.”
Hermione’s eyes grew wider as they talked. “But...what about them?”
“They think I’m spying on Dumbledore.” Snape chuckled. “I bring them back bits of news every so often. Things Dumbledore doesn’t mind if they know.”
“And you’re mad at me for doing dangerous things? What if someone catches you, what if they do find out about me?”
Snape laughed. “Now you know how I’m feeling, always worrying.” Snape moved to the edge of the bed and hugged Hermione to him. “Don’t worry, I’ve been doing this for a very long time. I’ve got a knack for it.”
They stayed like that for a long time, then Hermione looked up. “Dad?”
Will you promise me something? Look after Draco.” Hermione buried her face back in his chest and hugged him harder. “With everything that happened, especially with his Dad gone, he’s going to have a hard time.”
“I promise.” Snape said.
It was the last weekend of school. Everyone was packing up their trunks, fumbling around, looking for things they hadn’t seen since September.
“We should do something tomorrow.” Hermione wrote onto her parchment. “Mom is still pretty mad about Dad, and I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to make it to the locke.”
“What are you thinking of.”
“I don’t know, just something.”
“Meet me at the edge of the forest at noon. Grab some sandwiches, I’ll do the rest.”
Draco was standing just behind the tree line, waiting for her when she came trumping through the grass with her bag. He stepped out to meet her, holding his broom in one hand. She stopped.
“What’s that for?”
What’s the matter, Granger, scared?” Draco teased her, like he used to.
“Yes, actually, I don’t like flying.”
“Oh.” Draco said, softening, “How afraid, cause I was going to bring you somewhere you can’t get to any other way.”
Hermione sighed. “Is it worth it, like really worth it?”
“Definitely. And I’ll do all the flying, you can just shut your eyes and hold onto me.”
Draco mounted his broom and waited for Hermione to climb on behind him. She slung her bag across her chest and wrapped her arms around Draco’s torso to prepare.
“Try not to do any sudden turns and jerks.” Hermione asked.
“Why would I if you’re scared?” Draco asked over his shoulder.
“I don’t know, anytime I’m with Harry, he thinks it’s funny to freak me out.”
“It will be smooth sailing the whole way, I promise.”
He kicked his feet off and they soared through the air. Hermione shut her eyes tight and pressed her whole body into Draco. He kept his promise, flying fairly straight and slow. Hermione pretended they were only a few feet from the ground. She focussed instead on the feel of Draco’s sweater, the way his ribs stretched in and out to breathe, the way he always smelled of pine, cedar, fresh rain.
They touched down again and Hermione opened her eyes, slowly letting go of Draco. Hermione stood dumbstruck, staring around. They were in some quiet mountain village, surrounded by ruins of an ancient place built upon the rocks. There were brick walls and roads still standing, and you could see where the thatched houses used to stand.
“Where are we?” Hermione said, spinning around and smiling.
Draco took his broom in one hand and Hermione’s hand in his other. He lead her over to a cliff edge. Below them and just to the west, Hogwarts castle stood. She could see the turrets of the astronomy and divination towers from here. The quidditch pitch looked like a toy, and the black lake looked like a piece of glass from up here.
“It was a village of witches and wizards way back, back when the castle was still occupied. The Lord who owned it was a wizard, so magical folk from all over England flocked to live on his land. He protected them from persecution, and they were free to use their magic to farm, which means he got twice as much from them as he would have. At one point, this whole area was filled with Witches and Wizards.”
“I read something like that in Hogwarts, A History.” Hermione said, “But I didn’t think there were any ruins actually left.”
“Come over here, part of the Hall is still standing.” Draco grabbed Hermione’s hand again and pulled her along.”
They explored the ruins all day. Hermione made some rubbings of a few interesting seals still set into the stone. They tried to decode words they found carved into stone, and ended up making a joke of it. The sun began to sink in the sky. Hermione stood balancing on the top of a stone wall, watching the sky turn pink and orange.
“I wish you’d come down from there.” Draco said.
“Why, afraid I’ll fall and crack my head open?” Hermione giggled, balanced and walked a bit further.
“Come on, Hermione. If you get broken just out of the hospital, your dad will kill me.”
“Alright. Help me down.”
Draco held his arms out to Hermione and lifted her slowly to the ground. Her feet touched back onto the ground, but her hands stayed on Draco’s shoulders. He tightened his hands around her hips, leaning in a little.
“Draco.” Hermione asked, “Why did you bring me here today?”
“You didn’t like it?”
“I loved it,” Hermione smiled, “It’s a bit grand for you, though. I’d have been happy with lunch somewhere in the castle.”
Draco shrugged, “I just wanted something really happy to remember.”
“What do you mean?” Hermione’s eyes searched his face.
“It’s just been a hard year, is all. Now at least we can think about this and not everything else that’s happened.”
“Thank you,” Hermione smiled, “I’ll still see you this summer, won’t I?”
“We’ll see.” Draco forced a smile.
“I know my Mom said I can’t come, but she’ll loosen up, I know it. It’ll be like last summer again, okay?”
“I’d like that.” Draco said. He looked up at the sky instead of Hermione. “We should be getting back soon, or we’ll miss dinner.”
Neither of them moved. Hermione played with Draco’s sweater at his neck. Draco’s hands slid from her hips around to hold her.
“We really should go.” Hermione said, almost a whisper.
Draco felt Hermione pull at his neck, rise up on her toes, and he moved in to kiss her. His lips were softer this time, almost afraid to do anything, which made Hermione pull him in closer to her. They stood like this for a long time, Hermione doing most of the kissing, and Draco holding her tight, too afraid to let her go. They stopped when Hermione’s legs got sore, still on tip-toe. She smiled into his chest and giggled. Draco held her to him, his pale hand tangled in her hair. He was trying to remember her exact smell, her exact height, the feel of her lips on his.
“We really should get going now.”
Draco collected his broom stick and the two mounted. Hermione held tight to Draco’s back as they flew, but she kept her eyes open this time, looking down on the castle as they got closer. They landed and Draco began to walk away from her immediately, his boom in hand.
“Draco?” Hermione said.
He turned around and took a few steps closer.
Hermione chewed on her lip. “Do you promise we’ll see each other this Summer?”
Draco chewed on his lip, checked over his shoulder as he stepped closer to her. He swooped and lifted her to him, kissed her like he had been meaning to all year. He poured his entire life into holding her up, placed his whole future into that kiss. It was a good thing he held her tight, because Hermione’s ankles would have collapsed. As he set her back down, her knees nearly buckled for a second, before she caught herself.
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