Chapter 13 : Protection
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Hermione dropped to her knees in front of Draco, looking into his watery eyes. His eyes were lost, gazing blankly at the floor. His cheeks were stained with tears as if he had been crying for days. Draco refused to move and he was still as ever. He let out another sob and Hermione’s heart dropped. She was scared for him. What was hurting him?
“Malfoy,” she whispered sweetly.
But it didn’t seem like he knew if she even existed.
“Malfoy,” she said more clearly, firmly and louder.
“Come on.” Hermione hoisted Draco to the best of her ability and was lucky when he blindly obeyed, following her. She laid him down on the bed, searching in his eyes of what was possibly happening to him. “Malfoy,” she repeated. Still no visible sign of reactions. “Cherry!” she cried shrilly.
And as always, Cherry appeared with a pop. “Yes, Miss—What is wrong with the Young Master?”
“I’m trying to figure it out,” croaked Hermione with fear. “Please, a warm wet towel.”
Cherry left as Hermione repeatedly called for Malfoy, but he looked completely lost in an abyss. Has he—? No, please no. Please! He can’t lose his mind. Her mind wandered to Neville’s parents. Could it be the Cruciatus curse? She began whimpering in terror. Please, Malfoy, no.
The adorable little elf appeared again and Hermione hurriedly grabbed it from her, shouting thanks. She was unable to control the tone of her voice. She placed it on his forehead. Still no response. Hermione cupped his face, begging, “Please!” The cloudiness disappeared and the iris of his eyes looked more focused.
She heaved a sigh of relief.
“Get off of me!” he mumbled.
“Malfoy!” she squeaked with delight, knowing he was coming back to his normal self. She leaned in for a hug, squeezing me tightly. He felt awkward under her embrace and patted her back slowly, but yet still liking the warmth of her. She pulled back, her sad eyes looking into his. “What happened?”
“Don’t worry about it, Granger,” he growled lowly.
“Don’t give me that shit, Malfoy,” she spat.
He first cocked his eyebrow in slight surprise then a smirk formed shortly afterwards. “Cursing again, huh?”
“Stop it already. You’re always getting angry or deflecting important things. I can’t understand why you can’t just share it with me! I’m your friend, you know. There is no reason to act that way.”
Friend? He turned the word over and over in his head as if it was a foreign word that he barely heard. Was she really his friend? He was hesitant to answer his own question, but after some time, he had to admit she was. She’d done so much for him to prove her friendship and he willingly accepted it in his head. Did she need to know what happened?—
“You sent me a Patronus saying you were okay. Obviously, you weren’t.”
“I had to lie,” he admitted.
“My father was there. He told me to lie to you. When I was lettered, it was a fake. They didn’t need me. They baited me as punishment. My father…” his voice faltered, but his eyes were intensely staring into Hermione’s eyes. He could see her eyes already blazing. She was clever and already knew the rest of the story. Despite this, he continued, “My father tortured me, Granger. Yes, he used the Cruciatus curse on me.”
“Is he here?” whispered Hermione so quietly, but deadly.
“He came back with me.” Draco eyed her carefully.
Hermione paused a moment, staring at Draco as he looked at her confused. She was making sure he was okay before she left. When she turned to leave, he called, “Where are you going?”
She immediately turned around and shot a Body-Binding curse and Draco felt his limbs slap to his sides and his body go completely frozen. No matter how much he attempted to move, there was a pressured force keeping him still. His eyes darted everywhere in a panic and he saw Hermione leave hurriedly out of the room.
Hermione’s head was throbbing with anger and she couldn’t help but to feel the impulsiveness roar in her like a wild fire. Unable to contain it she found herself in the other corridor, hearing low arguing.
“Where were you, Lucius?” hearing Narcissa’s hiss.
“It is not any of your concern,” he replied coldly.
“And how about Draco?”
“Draco, was where he was needed to be.”
“And where was that?”
Hermione took a peek through the crack of their bedroom door, watching Lucius’ eyes dull and harden with cold fury. “You ask too many questions, Narcissa,” he hissed.
“Tell me this instant!” she cried shrilly.
Lucius shuffled, aiming his wand at his wife. “Shut. It—”
Hermione rushed into the bedroom with her wand drawn at Lucius, shielding Narcissa who was cowering behind her. Her heart was thundering against her chest as Hermione could not believe that she was doing this, but she knew she had to protect Narcissa. She has been a victim of the Cruciatus curse by Lucius before and Hermione would be damned if he used it on her again. She had to defend her, even if it would mean she would be in the crossfire.
Lucius slightly cocked his head and let his arms fall to the side. He began studying her, his eyes slowly moving up and down at Hermione. “Girl,” he said coldly.
“Do not ‘girl’ me!” snapped Hermione.
“You should leave this dealing between me and my wife, between me and her. It is none of your concern,” he replied icily.
“It is my concern!” Hermione decided to choose her words carefully for what she was about to say. “She is my mother-in-law. I don’t want to see her hurt. I don’t want to see anyone hurt.”
The last sentence held the most truth for Hermione. She couldn’t consider Narcissa her mother-in-law in this loveless, although, agreed upon marriage. But one thing was for sure: Hermione did not want to see anyone hurt even if it was someone who she barely liked.
Hermione continued, “Especially…Draco. I am warning you, if you ever hurt him like that again, I can promise you will regret it.”
She couldn’t believe she was threatening Lucius Malfoy, new leader of the Deatheaters, but she was exhausted by the way Lucius cruelly handled things especially his own son. During the silence, Hermione vividly remember a blond boy who always depended on his father, but slowly distanced himself away over the years. What happened? asked Hermione. She knew the answer. The war.
Lucius finally spoke in an icy whisper, “I can promise you, you will regret this.” He briskly strode out.
“What happened to my Draco?” whispered Narcissa with silent tears racing down her flushed cheeks.
Hermione turned to her. “He used…” An overwhelming feeling was stuck in her throat. She couldn’t speak. This was too much for her.
“Cruciatus Curse.” It wasn’t even a question. She knew.
Draco shuffled in, heaving hard with fire almost breathing out of his nose. But his mother threw herself at him, embracing him and sobbing. “I’m so sorry, Draco. So sorry.” He felt awkward under her embrace, but patted her on the back. His stormy eyes bore into Hermione with such intensity she had to look down at her feet.
“You can’t hide things from your mother anymore,” Hermione said firmly, looking back into his eyes.
“What I do—”
“Listen!” she yelled. “You are so inconsiderate! Do you ever stop and think how your mother must feel? She is worried about you, but you seem to think no one cares! She cares! I care! I've had enough…” Narcissa timidly looked at Hermione. “You’re not going anywhere anymore.”
“And who are you to tell me this!” he bellowed back.
“She's going to be your wife,” whispered Narcissa sadly. “You should respect what she says. Please, Draco, do not be like your father.”
At this, Draco was still, watching Hermione carefully. He didn’t want to be like his father. Never ever. Not even to his fake future wife.
“Okay,” he agreed.
Narcissa watched him, patiently and waiting for something that Hermione wasn’t entirely sure of what. Then it hit her. Oh. Hermione moved cautiously to Draco, leaning in to peck him on the lips. Before she pulled back, Draco laced his fingers through her hair, bringing her forward to feel the supple lips. He pressed hard against her. He couldn’t help it. He hadn’t had sex for a couple of weeks and he was dying inside, craving and hungry. He finally pulled back, shooting Hermione his infamous smirk.
“Excuse us, mother. We need some alone time.”
A pink blush fell over Narcissa’s cheeks and she nodded, embarrassed.
“No, no. We need to discuss a few things.” He gave a chuckle in which caused Hermione to examine him as if he was ill. He looked back at her and gave a slight smile. “Come.”
Finally at the privacy of their…or Draco’s room, Hermione turned to him. “What is it we need to talk about?”
“Tomorrow. The interview?”
“Oh. Malfoy, don’t you think it’s better that you rest.”
“I’m fine,” he growled. “Granger, please. I understand you’re worried about me, but you need to trust me. I’m fine.”
“Trust?” she thought aloud. Trust, yes…friends have trust. “Okay,” she said finally.
Draco moved to the couch with Hermione following after them and they both took a seat. He heaved a heavy sigh. “We need to decide what our story is.”
“Like how we met.”
“That I know, Granger, but a solid story. Everyone knew you were with the Weasel so how did we end up together?”
Hermione bit down on her bottom lip which for some reason aroused Draco, a flame burning intensely within him. “Well, I was obviously cheating on him…”
“What if I always had a crush on you and the same for you. And at Hogwarts…our seventh year, we developed something. We can add what happened with Caine Joss and instead of you cursing at me, you were thankful—”
“Then I sent you roses as my gratitude—”
Hermione’s laugh rang in the room. “That sounds nothing like you!”
“What are you trying to say? That I can’t be romantic?”
“Absolutely not!” she snorted, laughing.
“Well, I can.”
Nodding to agree with him sarcastically, she said, “Sure you can. But if you think that is believable.”
“You’re insulting me again,” he growled.
Hermione gave him a slight nudge. “Only teasing you. Okay, so you sent me roses. And then I met up with you to thank you and tell you how much you’ve changed.”
“And how sexy I am.”
Hermione rolled her eyes playfully. “And after that, everything fell right into place. We met secretly because of the prejudices we would face from my friends and your family.”
“That was sweet and to the point.”
“Malfoy, I really don’t think the details are much needed. Have you ever read the interview me and Ron did? The section of how we fell in love was sweet and to the point. Details drag it on.”
“I never read the interview between you and the Weasel. I never understood why you were with him.”
“What do you mean?” she snapped. “He’s a great person!”
“Granger, I don’t mean to offend you,” he replied solemnly. “I’m not arguing he isn’t a great person. But he isn’t attractive, he doesn't have money, nor is he on the same level with you. I just thought the Gryffindor princess deserved better.”
“And what’s wrong with Ron?”
“It’s like you settled for him.”
“Settled for him?”
“How many guys have honestly liked you?”
“I am a well-liked woman.”
He gave a humorously snort. “The only people who liked you were the Weasel and Krum. But we both know it would have never worked with Krum because of distance. So who were you left with? The ugly red-head git.”
“Ron treats me well, Malfoy. He is brave, sweet, funny, and loyal and…” She faded out thinking of other words to describe Ron or any qualities that were remotely good about him other than what she mentioned.
“And what? He isn’t on the same intellectual level as you. Nor can the man give you a life to live like you should. I’ve heard most people say that you were too pretty for him. And considering what you’ve done? You deserve it all.”
Hermione flushed at this and Draco felt his cheeks tingling with heat.
“I love him,” she whispered
“Love. Not in love,” he pointed out.
“And what do you know, Malfoy?”
“I guess I don’t. Never been in love or even come close to loving someone,” he admitted.
“Not Pansy or Astoria?” she asked timidly. She was surprised at how honest Malfoy was being with her. How he was opening up.
“Don’t you want to love someone?”
He shrugged. “If it happens, it happens. I won’t force it. Nor will I settle.” His stormy eyes met her beautiful brown ones as he wanted nothing more to lean in and kiss her. He couldn’t explain why. She was a friend. In the end, he decided it was because he was craving any kind of sexual interaction and that's why he wanted to kiss her.
“Maybe we should get to know each other a little bit more?” she suggested.
“Share favorites and childhood memories.”
“I really prefer not to talk about childhood memories.”
Hermione bit down on her bottom lip, nodding. There goes the wall again. He put it up. But patience was the key with him. She wouldn't rush it. Their friendship just blossomed. She was satisfied of how much he opened up already. Be grateful.
“That’s okay. I’ll go then.” She rummaged her head for a memory and smiled slightly at one. “One day, I was at my parents practice. They’re dentists, they fix teeth,” she explained. “And my father had to step out, leaving a patient under anesthesia.” When Draco gave her a puzzled look when she said the word, “anesthesia,” she quickly explained what it was. “The patient was almost out cold. I wanted to be funny and snuck in. With a permanent marker, it’s like a quill, but permanent, I drew all over the man’s face. My parents didn’t have the heart to tell him so he left the office with swirls and a drawn in mustache and beard. He was the only person that ever left a complaint.” She grinned at the memory.
And Merlin, was her face beautiful when it shone so bright. There it goes. The urge to kiss her. He had to go. Get himself away from her as far as he possibly could. “I’m going to get something to eat, Granger.”
“Oh.” Her smile flattered. “You want me to make you something?”
“No. It’s fine.” He walked out of the room and made sure, he avoided Hermione entirely the rest of the day.
His screams echoed in the room, “NO!” he cried with a pain-filled voice. Hermione buried her face into the one hand she had left, the other one was laced with Draco’s. Nothing at this point was calming him. This is the worst she had ever seen him before. She knew why. The curse was fresh in his mind, the pain embedded into his skin and the ache squeezing his heart. Her singing wouldn't work. Holding his hand wouldn't work. And Merlin, how she hated to see him in such a nightmare. She thought long and hard. There was that one night, he didn’t thrash like he did. She heaved a sigh and crawled in bed with him. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling herself close to his cold body. Immediately, Draco attached to her. She felt the heavy weight of his muscles embrace her protectively and his body slowly warming. The cries died down to whimpers then eventually ceased. But by the time they ceased, she was already sleeping peacefully.
Draco felt hot breath on his chest and shifted slightly to feel a small amount of weight on him. He opened his eyes quickly and looked down at the sprawled out golden-brown hair and Hermione’s face sleeping soundly beneath all the hair. How did she end up here? He watched as her eyes fluttered open and looked up at him. Panicked, she pushed herself away from him and sat up.
“Listen I can explain…”
He hoisted himself up on his elbow, cocking an eyebrow. “Yeah, I would really like to know, Granger.”
“You—er—you were having a nightmare. And usually I would be able to calm you down, singing to you or hold your hand. But last night was bad and I couldn’t get you to calm down. So I just…”
“You’ve been the one!?” he almost bellowed out of shock, but refrained himself as much as possible. “How long?”
“Every night that you’ve spent here.”
“Well, DON’T FUCKING DO THAT!” he roared.
She jerked back at his reaction, unable to comprehend. “I was trying to help! But it’s fine. Draco Malfoy doesn’t need help from a mudblood, right?” She removed herself from the sheets and stormed off into the bathroom.
He threw himself back into the bed, running his hands through his hair. Once again, she had proven herself to be a friend. What did he prove? That he was the biggest ass hole to have ever waved a wand. He didn’t know why he screamed at her for that. Hell, he wanted her to continue doing whatever it took. He hated the nightmares. And he doesn’t mind her sleeping next to him if it meant stopping them. So why the hell did he say that for? He didn’t want to seem vulnerable. But she knew he was vulnerable if she saw him like that. Could you be vulnerable in front of friends? He had so much trouble working the “friend” thing out. His friends? He was the leader and he never trusted them to show his own weakness. It seemed Hermione on the other hand was used to seeing weakness. Had Potter or the Weasel shown her their weakness? Is that what friends do? Show each other weakness?
“Weakness,” he mumbled to himself.
“You’re not weak, Malfoy.”
He shot up to find her at the doorway of the bathroom.
“You’re not weak,” she repeated. “People go through things and sometimes they can’t handle it by themselves. They need someone to depend on, support. You think Harry did it alone? No, he always had me and Ron. You don’t need to go through it alone.”
There she had answered it. But could he shallow his pride and ask her what he really wanted from her? No. He didn’t have the courage to do it. He just nodded.
She moved toward him gracefully as he became fixated with her swaying hips. “Malfoy, you know if you need anything you can always ask. We’re friends.”
The door abruptly open as Narcissa had an urgent look etched on her face. “Come, dear. We need to get you ready. It’s going to be a long day.”
“Engagement party,” Draco said firmly.
Hermione peered at Draco, thinking of Ron. Ron would have asked stupidly, “What’s today?” But with Draco, it always seemed that he was on point with everything. Is this what Draco meant by being at her level? Draco was certainly at her level…of intellectual and confidence.
Hermione left with Narcissa with Draco suddenly echoing in the back of her mind. But he was not in the back of her mind for long. As she was in a suite on the guest corridor, Cherry entered hours later with a dozen roses, handing them to Hermione. She set them down at the class table, noticing Narcissa beaming at her. Hermione couldn’t help but to furrow her eyebrows in confusion. Narcissa smiling at her like that. There was a note, attached to the vase. She opened it and in beautiful handwriting it said:
For a friend. And I told you I could be romantic.
She giggled heartedly. That was thoughtful… No one had ever sent her roses. Not even Ron. She took the note and placed it in her bra and continued to go through the motions of the “hard work” of getting ready.
Finally, after all the hair tugging, makeup application and putting the dress, she was able to walk down the staircase. Draco was at the bottom of it, waiting like a gentleman as she came down, he smirked at her. He held out his arm and she wrapped herself around it loosely.
“Ready?” he asked.
“The interview can’t be that bad, right?”
He led her into the grand living room. The interview would be bad. It wasn't a question anymore. She knew.
Nothing ever good ever came from Rita Skeeter.
Thank you so much SassySlytherinGirl for editting this chapter XOXO. So much thanks.
A/N: =O we are seeing their relationship slowly build up. Do I hear wedding bells in the distance? WHO KNOWS! <3
AND THANKS SO SO MUCH for the reviews. It means so much to me and I literally get excited when I log on and see them. Make me so happy! ^__^ <3 you guys
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