Chapter 15 : The Truth
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“Right Malfoy, spit it out. What’s going on here? Why is Hermione living with you?” Harry asked. He hadn’t yet spoken to Malfoy and was trying to keep his temper for Hermione’s sake but enough was enough. He wanted answers.
“I’m not telling you anything until Hermione wakes up. It really isn’t my place,” Draco said.
“Well there really isn’t much point you being here then is there?” Ron added, standing up. “I’ll escort you out.”
“Hermione wants me here. I will not leave her.”
Ginny, Ron and Harry exchanged glances. What the hell had gotten into Malfoy? Was he actually being nice to another human being? It was unheard of to the three across the table from him. Nonetheless, after a nod from Ginny, Ron sat back down in his seat with a scowl. Molly as of yet hadn’t said anything at all; she was sick of all the arguing, she knew that much, but she just wanted Hermione to wake up and give them some answers. Although the death of her husband and son played constantly on her mind, she knew Draco Malfoy wasn’t at fault. Percy had told her all about the questioning that had gone on at the Ministry following the Battle and it was certain that Draco was coerced into doing those awful things.
Harry and Ron continued to sit and stare daggers at Draco, who kept his composure, staring straight back at them. A few moments later, they heard the creak of the old staircase and all turned towards the doorway. There Hermione stood, ashen faced and red-eyed, betraying the tears she must have been crying.
“Hermione,” Draco said, and hurried over to her before anybody else even got chance to get up from their seats. He placed his hands on her shoulders until she looked at him, and his heart was torn in two. He could see the pain behind her eyes and he wanted to take it on for himself. She didn’t deserve any more of this hurt in her life. She crumbled beneath his touch and collapsed against his chest, her sobs making her shoulders shudder as he held her.
The rest of the room was silence as they watched the scene in front of them with awe, confusion etched across their faces. Still, saying nothing, they let Hermione cry and she finally pulled away from Draco.
She looked him straight in the eye. “It’s him, Draco. It has to be him.”
He nodded back at her and steered her towards a chair at the table, where her friends still sat; it seemed they hadn’t heard their exchange. Hermione held tightly onto Draco for fear of falling. She was so exhausted and was afraid that her legs wouldn’t hold her up were she to let go.
Once again she continued to stare straight ahead of her, salty tears running down her blank face.
“We know for sure that there was wizard involvement. You know that’s the only reason I’m ever informed of Muggle deaths,” he said, choking on the last word and hating himself for how blunt he had sounded.
“I know who did this and I know why,” Hermione started. Draco searched for her hand under the table and held onto it tightly, letting her know he was there. Nobody else spoke, urging her to continue.
“At the Battle of Hogwarts, I was abused by Thorfinn Rowle. Draco saw everything, and for years I hated him, completely despised him for not helping me,” she started in a monotone, and Ron was halfway out of his chair about to jump at Malfoy when Hermione held up her hand. “Wait, Ron. You have to listen to me. Rowle put a body-binding curse on Draco to get revenge on his father who was intending to flee from Voldemort. He had no choice but to just watch what happened. Ever since, he has been trying to make up for it and together we’ve been trying to work out a way to find him. The reason I’m living at Malfoy Manor and had to leave work is because Avery and Rookwood were at my apartment the night Neville saw us in the Leaky Cauldron,” she said, looking at Harry. “It seems they’re working for Rowle and he’s looking for me. It was him who murdered my parents, I’m sure of it.”
Molly and Ginny were sobbing quietly, looking at Hermione with such sorrow. Harry was staring, open mouthed at Hermione and Ron was still scowling at Malfoy. Everybody in the room was silent for a while.
“I understand what you all must think of me. I know we hated each other to begin with and this must make things a million times worse, but please. Hermione trusts me. I have done everything in my power to protect her since that day and I will continue to do so until the day I die,” Draco said sincerely.
Molly and Ginny had stopped sobbing by this point but tears still cascaded silently down their cheeks. Ginny stood up and came over to hug Hermione.
“I’m so sorry Hermione. I should have noticed, I should have done something. We all knew you hadn’t been right since the war but we thought it was just Ron leaving and dad and Fred and – “
“Gin, it’s okay. I didn’t want anyone to know, it seemed easier that way. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me,” Hermione said, regaining some of her composure and smoothing down her hair. “Right, who’s for a cup of tea?” she asked.
“Hermione, go in to the living room and sit down. Everyone else too. I’ll make the tea,” Molly said, suddenly snapping into her usual behaviour and fussing over everyone else. It was the only thing she knew she could do. With Hermione’s parents gone, she was intent on looking after her now.
Hermione nodded and they all stood from their chairs, heading towards the living room. Harry caught up with Ginny and held her hand in his gently.
Ron hung back as the others left. “Hermione,” he called before she could leave. “Why didn’t you tell me? I would never have left,” he said, a pained look on his face.
“Ron, I couldn’t tell anyone. Back then I was a complete wreck and I wanted to deal with it on my own. You’d just lost your father and Fred, I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my problems. These last few weeks I just got sick of having to lie to everyone, I thought it was about time I reached out and asked for help.”
Ron was helpless, had no idea what he could say to her to make things any better. He had been a coward when he ran away and now it was being proven to him that it was a mistake. Hermione left the room to join the others.
As if his mother knew exactly what he was thinking, she said “Don’t regret leaving Ron. You will gain nothing if you question decisions you made and can’t change. Moving away changed you for the better and it gave you time to grieve, in your own way. Think about it, if you’d never left you would have never met Elena,” she smiled.
This made him think. His mum was right, as usual. He loved Elena, something he never thought possible because he had been so hung up on Hermione. What she’d told them somewhat explained why everything between them seemed to just disappear as if it was never there in the first place, and in a way this had been the best for Ron. He had met someone he wanted to spend his life with and although he was far away from his family, he really did love his work in Romania. If he’d stayed here then he never would have had those things in his life, things he couldn’t imagine being without.
“Thanks, Mum,” he said, and went over to hug Molly. She finished the tea and levitated the tray, walking behind it into the living room where she lowered it to the centre of the table.
Ginny was curled up on the sofa next to Harry with his arm draped around her shoulders and Hermione was sat on the floor in front of Draco’s feet by the fire. Everyone said their thanks to Molly for the tea and each reached for a cup.
Hermione held her cup in both hands, still not warm even though the fire was roaring. She turned to Draco.
“I don’t understand this. I thought Blaise said he’d ensured the best protection for my parents?”
Draco ran a hand through his hair. “Yes, he had the best Aurors in Australia safeguarding them. We’ll go over there later and find out what happened. Although if Rowle is behind this then nobody would have been able to stop him, Aurors or otherwise,” he mused.
“Wait, Blaise Zabini? Why are you having anything to do with him?” Ron asked.
“He’s helping. Draco isn’t at work right now and Blaise is the next best thing. Him and Pansy are doing all they can for us,” Hermione said.
“Hermione, I’m not happy about this. It’s one thing for you to be anywhere near Malfoy but Zabini and Parkinson as well? This isn’t right,” Harry said and shook his head.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake! I’ve already told you once: if it wasn’t for Draco I would probably be dead and Blaise and Pansy are being great so will you please all stop being so judgemental? If you want to live in the past then that’s fine, but don’t expect me to be hanging around for long if that’s the way it’s going to be,” Hermione said angrily, her hair frizzing slightly as she got more and more worked up. She slammed her cup on the table, shattering it into pieces and left the room.
Harry and Ron looked at each other guiltily, knowing they should have kept their mouths shut. Nobody liked to see Hermione in this mood and quite frankly Ron was scared of her when she got like this. Molly took it upon herself to go and join Hermione in the kitchen whilst the others sat in icy silence.
Molly tottered over to where Hermione was sat, her head resting on the table in front of her. She sat down next to her slowly, her aching bones protesting at all the movement, and patted Hermione’s back softly. She lifted her head from the table and smiled sadly, tears in her eyes.
“What am I going to do without them, Molly?” she asked, craving guidance from the older woman beside her.
“You’re going to carry on, sweetheart,” Molly smiled. “When Arthur and Fred were taken, I thought I would never be able to get up the next morning. I spent days and nights crying and wishing for them to come back, but we all know that can’t happen. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think about the people I’ve lost and it will be the same for you, but you have more pressing matters to deal with. By all means grieve, but I think the most important thing at the moment is your safety.”
“Does it get any easier?” Hermione asked.
“I could never lie to you, Hermione. The ache in your heart will never leave, but it will certainly fade. Your parents will always be with you, that’s one thing I can promise,” Molly said. Hermione’s face crumbled and she turned to face Molly who held her tightly, letting the young woman cry.
Moments passed until Hermione’s tears had subsided and she released herself from Molly.
“Thank you, Molly,” she looked at her watch, “I suppose we’d better be going, it’s late.”
“Nonsense, I don’t want you going home at this hour. You and Draco can stay here tonight,” Molly said kindly.
“Oh no, I don’t think that would be a good idea. Ron and Harry-“
“I don’t give a flying hippogriff what Ron and Harry say, this is my house and I will have whoever I want stay in it,” Molly said.
Hermione laughed lightly and they both got up from the table just as Ginny came in. She hugged Hermione closely, saying all she needed to.
“Mum, the boys are starving,” Ginny said.
“Oh Merlin, we still haven’t had dinner!” Molly exclaimed, jumping into action and preparing numerous pots and pans on the stove, already chopping carrots with her wand. It was just past nine o’clock and Hermione didn’t much feel like eating but the empty feeling in her stomach told her she probably had to.
Ginny and Hermione busied themselves with setting the table for six and preparing goblets of pumpkin juice. After ten minutes, the table was brimming with delicious looking foods including Molly’s famous treacle tart. She really was an excellent cook, Hermione thought.
Harry, Ron and Draco joined them in the kitchen and sat at the table. Needless to say, Harry and Ron sat as far away from Draco as the table allowed and it was clear from all of their faces that they hadn’t been pleased to be left alone together for so long. Hermione sat beside Draco with Ginny taking up the seat next to her and they all tucked into the onion soup, chicken and ham pie and superfluous amounts of vegetables on the platters in front of them.
“This is great, thanks Mrs Weasley,” Draco said politely, prompting Harry to snort and Ron to almost choke on the soup he was wolfing down greedily.
“Alright Malfoy, no need to kiss her ar-“ Ron began, before
his mother gave a flick of her wand and Ron he was rendered unable to speak.
“That’s better. Now we can enjoy dinner in peace without any obscenities coming from my dear son’s mouth,” Molly said, casting Ron an angry look.
Everyone else at the table chuckled at this, Draco looking most amused. Ron spent the rest of dinner frowning so much he could have had a permanent crease on his brow. When they had all finished, Harry and Ron cleared away the plates, washing them magically which earned them a disapproving look from Hermione.
“Right, I think it’s time for bed,” Molly said, stifling a yawn as she leaned against the counter to ease the pain in her joints. “Hermione, you can have Bill’s old room and Draco, I’m afraid you’ll have to sleep in the living room, I hope you don’t mind.”
Looks of confusion swept the room as everyone looked at each other. “He’s not staying here,” Ron said, Molly having lifted the Silencio charm after dinner.
“Yes Ronald, he is. No arguments. Now off to bed, all of you,” Molly said, turning to walk up the creaky stairs to her bedroom. After shooting Draco a disgusted look, Ron, Harry and Ginny followed suit and climbed the stairs, leaving Hermione and Draco alone in the kitchen. Neither said anything but Hermione fell into his arms and released everything she’d been holding back since she had heard the news of her parents’ murders. There was only one time Draco had ever felt so helpless and that was the reason he was here with Hermione in the first place. He stroked her hair
as she cried on his chest, soaking the shirt he was wearing.
He had no idea how much time had elapsed by the time Hermione stopped crying but when she looked up at him with her red eyes she looked exhausted.
“Time for bed,” he said, steering her towards the stairs.
“Will you stay with me? Until I fall asleep?” she asked timidly with wide eyes.
He nodded and they both ascended to the first floor and Hermione opened the door to the room on the left. The room was quite large inside, which Draco hadn’t anticipated, with a large double bed in the middle of it. Hermione paced over to it and got straight under the covers and motioned for Draco to come and sit next to her. As he did so, Hermione closed her eyes and sighed lightly.
“Thank you,” she murmured quietly.
“For what?” Draco asked, but received no answer as her breathing deepened and her chest rose and fell slowly in sleep. He stroked the hair gently from her face and stared down at her, emotions raging in his mind and in his heart. If there was one woman in the world who didn’t deserve any of this heartache, it was the one in front of him, Draco thought. He stayed staring at her for a long time before standing slowly so as not to stir her and walked over to the other side of the bed where she slept, nearest the door. He planted a soft kiss on her forehead and left her to sleep.
Careful not to make a noise, Draco tiptoed back down the stairs into the living room, where a thick blanket and pillows lay waiting for him on the sofa; Mrs Weasley must have sent them down before she went to sleep. He walked over and sat down, wide awake. He was angry with Blaise. Surely he would have been told about Hermione’s parents? If that was the case and he hadn’t gotten in touch with him, there would be hell to pay when Draco saw him.
He sighed and lay his head against the feather pillows and pulled the patchwork blanket over him. If anything was certain now it was that Hermione would want to avenge her parents’ deaths and that meant finding Rowle, quickly, before he found them. Draco wondered whether he knew she was living with him now. Knowing his ways he probably would, but surely he would have made some kind of attempt to get into the Manor if that were true?
“Slinky,” he whispered and his tiny house elf appeared in front of him with a loud snap. “Shit,” Draco muttered, hoping he hadn’t woken the whole house up by summoning Slinky.
“Master called?” Slinky said.
“Yes. I need you and the others to put as many more
defensive spells around the Manor as you can think of. And while you’re at it, search the whole house and make sure there is no one there please,” he asked quietly.
“Of course, sir. Is there anything else sir wants Slinky to do?” she said, her squeaky voice echoing through the room.
“Just report back to me if you should find anyone. Please, quickly,” he said. Slinky nodded and with another loud snap she was gone.
Ginny woke with a start and sat bolt upright in bed, cradling her tummy as she did so. What was that noise? She thought. She looked to the left and saw Harry still fast asleep, snoring like an ogre. Ginny sighed. Obviously it was going to be her who got up for the night feeds when the baby was born.
She crawled from the bed, trying not to wake Harry, and pulled on her gown from the back of the door. It was a burgundy colour, one she’d had the first year she started at Hogwarts. It showed how little she had grown since as it still fit her fine, only a little strained in the stomach area.
She opened the door and crept out silently, her wand held in her hand. Creeping down the stairs, she peered into the kitchen before going into the living room where she found Draco still awake.
“What was that noise?” she asked.
“Sorry, I needed to speak to my house elf,” he said embarrassedly, “I didn’t mean to wake anyone.”
She sighed and went to sit on the armchair next to the sofa that he was lying on.
“What are your intentions with Hermione?” she asked him out of the blue.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked, sitting up to face the redhead.
“Oh come on, Malfoy. I’ve seen the way you look at her,” Ginny said sternly, not failing to hold his gaze.
Draco bowed his blonde head, looking at a loose thread in the carpet. He didn’t really know what to say. He’d never had much to do with Ginny apart from the odd snide remark in passing at Hogwarts relating to her family. It was clear she was very important to Hermione so he didn’t want to be rude to her.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, looking up at her once more.
He laughed a little, surprised that such a young woman knew such foul language. Then again, she was Ron Weasley’s sister, he thought. His laughter faded abruptly under her gaze.
“I’m trying to help her. I want the best for her, just as I’m sure you do,” he said.
“Funnily enough, I do believe that and I believe that you’re sorry for what happened. But there’s more,” Ginny said, curling her legs underneath herself. It didn’t look like Draco was going to get out of this interrogation anytime soon as she made herself comfortable, putting a cushion on her lap and leaning on it.
“You have no idea how sorry I am. The number of nights I’ve spent trying to figure out which way is best to end my own life I’ve lost count of,” he said, closing his eyes. Ginny noticed the pained look on his face and felt a wave of guilt. Even so, she wanted answers.
“That may be, but you still haven’t answered the question,” she said.
“I intend to help her find the man that fucked up her entire life,” he began, not caring for the way he was speaking to her now. She was the one pushing this, he thought. “I intend to do everything I can to make sure she avenges her parents’ murders. I intend to protect her from every curse thrown at her, whatever that may mean for me.”
Ginny looked at him and the anger now burning in his pale eyes. She wished she hadn’t said anything at all but she was sure something else was going on. However, for fear of their discussion become more heated and waking up everyone in the house, she simply nodded at Draco and stood to leave.
She was halfway out the door when Draco spoke. “Weas- Ginny. I owe her everything. I will not turn my back on her, please believe that. My life is dedicated to her no matter what.”
Without saying another word, Ginny fled back up the stairs as Draco sat alone again. He pulled the blanket back over him but knew sleep could not befall him now. There was one question he wanted the answer to so he stood quickly, pulled on his cloak and left the house in a hurry.
Pansy and Blaise were sleeping soundly in their lightly painted bedroom scattered when a pounding at the front door caused them both to sit straight up and look at each other, then at the clock which told them it was one in the morning.
“Who the hell would be calling at this time?” Blaise said.
He jumped out of bed quickly, warning Pansy to stay exactly where she was, before pulling on a pair of shorts and running out of the room, wand gripped before him. He made his way agilely through the living room towards the door. He opened it carefully, just enough to peek through the gap, and visibly relaxed.
Opening the door fully, he let Draco in. He was absolutely soaking and one look outside told Blaise why; a storm was coming and the rain was hammering down on the ocean, turning the sand a rather unattractive sludge colour.
“Don’t you own a watch?” he asked Draco, who gave him a sarcastic look in return. “Pans, you can come out, it’s just Draco.”
A moment later Pansy emerged from the bedroom, scantily clad in a very short silk nightdress which Draco vaguely recalled from the nights they’d spent together years ago. Remembering why he was there, he flung his cloak over the sofa and said
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Pansy and Blaise exchanged puzzled looks. “Tell you what?” Blaise asked.
Draco reached back over to his cloak and pulled out a piece of parchment that Harry had left on the table at the Burrow after showing them earlier. He thrust the letter into Blaise’s hands and bored his eyes into him as he read it.
Dear Mr Potter,
We are obliged to inform you that at 16.26 hours (GMT) on the date of Thursday 26th April 2003, the deaths of two muggles occurred at Number 14 Avalon Drive, Australia. There is known to be magical involvement in these deaths, hence your forewarning before the information is released to the public. Please find information of the deceased below:
John David Granger
Date of birth: 23rd October 1948
Date of death: 26th April 2003
Cause of Death: Avada Kedavra (Killing Curse)
Susan Amelia Granger
Date of birth: 12th March 1950
Date of death: 26th April 2003
Cause of Death: Avada Kedavra (Killing Curse)
No damage to the property in which the deceased were found has been recorded but evidence of torture by means of the Cruciatus Curse was found. All photographs of their daughter, Hermione Jean Granger, were found to be slashed using powerful dark magic yet to be identified. Aurors providing security to the Grangers at the request of a Ministry Official were unaware of the deaths until they searched the property having not seen the occupants for several hours. We are currently unaware of the identity/identities of the wizard(s) or witch(es) responsible for the murders.
Any information found upon sending this letter will be directed straight to you.
Mr David Fleetwood
Australian Minister for Magic
Blaise was speechless after reading the letter and looked open-mouthed at Draco, hands shaking. He passed the letter to Pansy who scanned through, tears filling her eyes as she did so.
“Mate, I had no idea! They were supposed to keep me informed of anything that happened, how could the Aurors not have noticed?”
“Merlin, I ask you to do one thing for me and you can’t even get that right,” Draco growled, eyes aflame. His hands were balled into fists; he didn’t care for his wand right now, he just wanted to beat his friend to a bloody pulp.
“Draco, don’t talk to him like that. He just said he didn’t know,” Pansy said, stepping between the two men. “What was he supposed to do about it?”
“You should have tried harder! Hermione’s parents are dead because you’re so useless!” Draco screamed and lunged at Blaise, throwing him to the floor. They tussled for a while, Blaise now fuming at the way Draco was treating him.
Pansy was screaming the place down and trying to separate them amid the punches they were throwing, and eventually she managed to grab Draco under the arms and haul him off her boyfriend. She all but threw him over to the other side of the room and rushed back to Blaise who was nursing a bloody nose and a swollen black eye.
“What the fuck, Draco?” he asked, leaning on his elbows to try and get himself up from the floor.
Blaise and Pansy looked over to their friend, expecting him to still be shaking with anger but he sat curled on the floor, his shoulders shaking violently. Blood-curdling sobs erupted from his body so loudly that it was as though he was in physical pain and for a second Pansy thought he’d been injured in the scuffle. She dashed over to him, reminded of the night they’d found him at the Manor after the battle. Only this time he was in a far worse state and nothing could calm him.
“DRACO!” Blaise boomed, his voice echoing off each of the walls of the house. Draco quietened slightly but the crying didn’t stop.
“I just wanted you to protect her family,” he sobbed, “why did this have to happen to her?”
Blaise walked over to him and ushered Pansy out of the way. He slung an arm round the shoulders of his oldest friend.
“I’m so sorry,” he muttered. “I should have done more.”
“No. No, I should have done more. I vowed to protect her with everything I had and I failed. I’m worthless, I’m no better than I was all those years ago,” Draco cried, nothing able to curb his tears now.
Pansy sat and watched the pair, cogs in her brain whirring and churning. She knew Draco was distraught about Rowle and what had happened to Hermione, but this was something else. There was something Draco Malfoy was not telling his friends, something she’d been afraid of for a long time. She had noticed it the night they came for dinner but hadn’t mentioned it to Draco or anybody else; the way he looked at Hermione was the same way Blaise looked at her.
Author's Note: Hi everyone! I hope I didn't upset too many people with the last chapter, I know it might seem cruel but it was essential for everyone to find out for definite that Rowle was after Hermione and also for her to tell her friends about what happened. I hope you're enjoying reading, and please keep reviewing :) Hannah x
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