Chapter 18 : Tears and Torture
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DISCLAIMER - If you recognise it from anywhere other than this fic, it ain't mine.
Draco had paused, turning back as he heard Ginny scream, but kept one eye on the snitch, hovering thirty feet to his right; it was almost within reach.
‘Get the snitch!’ a unanimous scream echoed from the Slytherin stands and players alike, urging him to take advantage of Ginny’s fall.
‘FOUL! FOUL! FOUL!’ the Hufflepuff commentator screamed.
Meanwhile, Ron looked on in horror from the opposite end of the pitch as his baby sister freefell through the air, arms flailing. Deserting his post, he hurtled across the pitch at full speed, knowing in his heart it would be impossible for him to make it.
‘GINNY!’ his scream could be heard echoing through the entire pitch as the redhead neared the ground; fifty feet, forty feet, thirty feet, twenty feet –
Hermione saw it all in slow motion; Harry almost jumping over the side of the stand, Ron screaming his sister’s name, Ginny nearing the ground, and Draco’s arms outstretched, reaching to grab …
His fist closed around the golden snitch just as Ginny bounced off the ground. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief as she turned to see Madam Hooch’s wand pointed at the ground, making it soft and bouncy, like a giant cushion, under Ginny. On the ground, Ron skidded to a halt and picked up his sister’s limp body in his arms.
Harry was already fighting his way out of the stands, and Hermione followed in his path. By the time they ran out onto the grass, Ron was cradling Ginny on his knee, as Madam Hooch and Madam Pomfrey rushed over from the opposite end of the pitch. Harry reached them first, closely followed by Hermione.
‘Oh my god, is she –‘
‘She’s okay, she just passed out.’ Ron cut Hermione off.
‘Miss Weasley?’ Madam Hooch knelt over the pair of red heads, ‘That arm does not look good.’
Hermione looked down to see that Ginny’s arm was bent at an unnatural angle under her.
‘No no, it doesn’t.’ Madam Pomfrey had reached them, ‘Mr Weasley, please bring her to the medical wing immediately.’
Ron stood, carefully lifting Ginny with him, and was about to head off after the nurse when Harry cried, ‘Wait! Let me. I want to go with her.’
Nodding understandingly, Ron handed his sister’s limp form over to his best friend, ‘Take care of her.’
Harry nodded his head in reply, before setting off to the school building.
Hearing a slight thud behind her, Hermione turned to see Draco climbing off his broom a few feet away.
‘How is she?’ he asked.
Hermione gritted her teeth, How is she? How is she? You selfish git! You could easily have caught her! You let her fall! But all she said was, ‘She’s been better.’ She could actually see Draco flinch at the icy tone of her voice, but she wasn’t about to argue with him right now; that could wait for later. She was too sick to stand the sight of him never mind talk to him at the moment. Ron, however, clearly did not feel the same.
‘You bastard!’ he screamed, closing in on Draco, ‘Why didn’t you catch her?’
Draco gulped, ‘Come on, Ron, I knew with all the teachers around nobody was honestly going to let anything serious happen to her. You know that.’
‘Do I? All I know is that my baby sister is unconscious in the hospital wing and it’s your fault! You make me sick!’ Ron’s voice was echoing around the pitch now, drawing the attention of the other students.
‘She’s okay. Calm down.’ Draco tried to pacify Ron.
‘Calm down? Calm down? You have some nerve Malfoy! And after you’ve been getting along so well with us all, especially Ginny! Then you turn around and do this to her! You’re just like your father; an evil, manipulative bastard!’ Ron screamed, inches from the Slytherin’s face.
‘I am not like my father.’ Draco growled in a low voice, ‘Tell him, Hermione; you don’t think I’m like my father, do you?’
She looked up at him, the man who had been there for her these past few weeks, who had protected her and cared for, given up all his friends for her. ‘I don’t know what to think anymore.’
Draco looked truly hurt, ‘Hermione…’
‘No! Don’t speak to me. I can’t even look at you right now.’ A tear slipped down her cheek. He made to brush it away, but she turned her face from him.
‘Come on Ron, we better go and see how Ginny is.’ With that, she dragged Ron, who looked ready to kill something, away from the tall blonde and up to the hospital wing.
‘So she’s okay?’
‘Yes dear, she’ll be fine,’ Madam Pomfrey reassured Ron, ‘But that arm’s broken pretty badly, and I’d like to keep her in here over night, just to keep an eye on her.’
Ginny sighed, ‘Great.’
Madam Pomfrey merely rolled her eyes, before tottering out of the medical ward.
‘Gin? How are you feeling?’ Hermione asked gently, perching on the edge of the redhead’s bed.
‘How do you think?’ Ginny growled, before turning away from her.
Hermione frowned in confusion, ‘Gin? I-‘
‘Just leave it.’ Harry snapped at her.
‘Why is everybody mad at me?’
Ron rounded on Hermione, ‘You said we could trust him, you said he wouldn’t hurt us, you let him get close to her!’
‘Fine.’ Hermione stood up, ‘If anyone wants me, I’ll be in my room.’
She gave a last look at her friends, hoping that one of them would urge her to stay, but when they all stared at the ground she stalked out of the room. She was halfway along the corridor when she heard footsteps behind her. Turning, she saw Ron.
‘Why did you let him away with it?’
‘Malfoy. Why did you let him away with it.’ Ron looked her straight in the eyes.
Hermione sighed. ‘I didn’t.’
‘Yes you did. You didn’t call him on letting her fall. I thought she was your best friend.’
‘She is! You don’t know what you’re talking about Ron.’ She tried to walk away, but her grabbed her wrist.
‘All I know is my little sister is spending the night in the hospital ward with a broken arm and possible head injury because of your boyfriend, and you couldn’t seem to care less!’
Hermione shook her wrist free ferociously, ‘Look, Ginny was lying unconscious on the ground, I had more important things to worry about at that particular moment. That does not mean I’m going to ignore his actions.’
‘No, I’m not. If you really must know, I’m on my way back up to the common room right now to cut him down to size.’ Hermione’s tone gave Ron no reason to doubt her.
‘Oh.’ Ron looked down at his feet, ‘I didn’t know.’
‘Well now you do.’ With that she strode off, leaving Ron standing alone in the hallway.
The door slammed off the cold stone as Hermione flung it open, making the portraits on the wall run for cover.
Draco shot up from his sitting position on the couch, ‘Good evening to you too.’
‘What the hell are you playing at?’ She slammed the door shut behind her, causing one of the portraits to fall to the ground, and thundered across the room to stop in front of him, her hands on her hips.
‘Why didn’t you catch her? You were only five feet from her!’
Understanding crossed his face, ‘She’s okay. I mean, nobody has ever died in a quidditch game, not with all those teachers around. I knew one of them would help her.’
‘No you didn’t! What if Madam Hooch hadn’t reacted so quickly? Would you still be so cocky if Ginny was dead?’
‘I’m telling you, that wouldn’t have happened. Why are you getting so worked up about this anyway?’ He reached out a hand to her face, but she turned away.
‘It’s not about Ginny being hurt. You had a choice to make. And I’m not sure I can handle the one you picked.’ She said softly.
‘What? What choice?’ He was really confused now, ‘Mione, I really don’t know what you’re trying to say.’
‘You picked winning a stupid quidditch match over helping my best friend when she was really in trouble. That says a lot about you.’
He gulped, ‘And that would be?’
Her deep brown eyes met his sharp grey ones, ‘Maybe Ron was right. Maybe you are more like your father than I realised.’
An awkward silence filled the room, and she looked away from him again. After what seemed like an eternity, his icy tone replied, ‘Fine. If that’s how you feel I guess we shouldn’t be together any more.’
‘That’s how I feel,’ she replied, keeping her eyes to the ground to hide the tears which were filling them.
He didn’t say anything else, and after a moment she heard him climb the stairs and slam his bedroom door. Collapsing onto the couch, she allowed the tears to stream down her cheeks.
‘Hey Mio – oh my god what’s wrong? You look terrible!’ Ginny slid into a seat beside Hermione at breakfast the next morning, a worried look on her face.
Hermione looked up from her plate of cereal. Yesterday’s mascara was smudged under her eyes, which were red and puffy from a night of crying, her hair was bushier than ever, scraped back into a tangled ponytail, and she had pulled on the first clothes she could find; a wrinkled grey shirt and crumpled yellow skirt, and she was still wearing her pink pig slippers.
‘He – he –‘ she stuttered, trying desperately not to break down into tears.
‘Aw, honey!’ Ginny understood immediately, and wrapped her right arm around Hermione; her left was still broken and therefore in a sling.
Ron and Harry looked at each other, ‘Did we miss something? What’s going on?’
‘Malfoy broke up with her.’ Ginny hissed, motioning for them to sit down.
‘How do you know that?’ Ron asked. Ginny just rolled her eyes in return.
‘N-no, it was m-mutual,’ Hermione forced out, releasing the other girl, and prodding at her cereal with a spoon.
‘What happened?’ Harry asked, concern on his face.
She took a deep breath, ‘I confronted him about Gin-‘
‘Oh no! Don’t break up because of me!’
‘No, that’s not why. It’s the fact that he chose to catch the snitch rather than catch you. It just shows what sort of person he really is.’ Hermione explained, ‘I told him I thought that Ron was right, he is like his father, and he said if that’s how I felt we should stop seeing each other, and I agreed.’
‘Well, if he’s willing to let you go without putting up a fight he doesn’t deserve you.’ Ginny reassured her friend.
‘Not that he deserved her in the first place.’ Ron muttered under his breath to Harry, but the girls heard.
‘Now is not the time, Ron.’ Ginny shot daggers at her brother, before wrapping an arm around Hermione’s shoulders, ‘Come on, honey, let’s get you cleaned up.’
As she led Hermione out of the hall, Ron turned to Harry, ‘So, what are we going to do about this?’
‘I don’t know yet, but Malfoy’s going to be sorry he even looked at our Mione.’ Harry replied in a low growl, his eyes narrowed as he glared across the Great Hall to where Draco sat at the Slytherin table, watching Hermione leave.
The weekend passed slowly for Hermione. She spent most of it in her bedroom, venturing out of the dorm only for meals, usually in those same pig slippers. So far, she had seen Draco just twice, once when she ran into him in their kitchen, and again when she headed into the bathroom in only a towel for a shower to find him brushing his teeth. Both times, one of them had quickly scampered out of the room. However, as Monday rolled around a feeling of dread filled her stomach; she didn’t have any classes with the Slytherins on a Monday, but she did have detention with Ginny, Ron, Harry, Seamus, Crabbe, Goyle and Draco at night.
So, at ten to seven she headed for the Great Hall to find that everyone else was already there. She took a seat beside Ron, who wrapped his arm protectively around her shoulder, all the while glaring at Draco. He sat alone at the end of the table; although he had been reaccepted by most Slytherins, thanks to his amazing ability to not only win the quidditch match for them but also hurt a Weasley Gryfifndor at the same time, Crabbe and Goyle had not forgiven him.
‘Well, glad to see you’re all on time tonight. Let’s just get this over with shall we?’ Snape’s snide voice rang through the hall as he entered, ‘I don’t want to be here any more than you do. Less, probably.’
‘Um, where’s Professor McGonagal?’ asked Ginny timidly, looking over Snape’s shoulder.
He smirked, ‘Professor McGonagal couldn’t make it tonight, so I will be handling Gryffindor detention also.’ He sniggered at the expression of dread which passed over the Gryffindor faces, ‘I understand Professor McGonagal has been making you Gryffindors clean cauldrons and stuff of that sort?’
‘Yes, sir,’ Seamus replied.
‘Well, I propose something rather different.’ The glint in his eye as he said this almost made Hermione sick to her stomach, ‘I’m going to be conducting a group detention, a bonding exercise if you will.’
Every one of the eight students let out a groan, making Snape’s smirk grow. ‘If you’ll all put on your cloaks and follow me out to the forest.’ He didn’t even wait for them to comprehend what he had just said before heading out of the Hall.
The students hurried after him as he led the way down to the forbidden forest. He stopped on the borders, ‘Now, I’m going to split you into pairs of opposing houses. First, Mr Finnegan and Mr Goyle, then Mr Potter and Mr Crabbe.’ The four boys groaned and slowly joined their partners.
‘Seeing as the forest is dangerous and only seventh years have adequate knowledge of protection charms, and with her recent injury, I will allow Miss Weasley to partner her brother. So that leaves Mr Malfoy and Miss Granger.’ Snape watched as the Head students moved awkwardly to stand beside each other.
‘So what exactly are we supposed to be doing out here?’ Harry asked.
‘If you’d let me finish Mr Potter, I will give each of you a list of potions ingredients which I want you collect for me. This is not a group task, so each pair will work on their own, is that understood? We will meet back here in three hours, and I suggest you all keep your wands at the ready,’ With a flick of his cloak he disappeared into the blackness of the forest, as a small piece of parchment appeared in one half of each pairs’ hands.
Without a word, Seamus and Goyle headed off to the right. Harry turned to the remaining students, glancing at the parchment in his hand, ‘Well, here goes nothing.’ He strode into the forest, turning to the left, with Crabbe following him.
Ron and Ginny exchanged glances. ‘Be careful Hermione,’ Ron said in a meaningful tone, shooting a dark look at Draco, before taking Ginny’s hand and leading her into the trees to the right, not far from where Seamus and Goyle had gone.
Hermione looked down at the parchment she was holding. Three plants were listed on it. ‘Which way?’ she asked, avoiding his eyes.
‘Well, there’s only one way left.’ he replied, nodding at the trees directly in front of them, the darkest path yet. Hermione shuddered and reached for her wand, ‘Lum-‘
‘No!’ Draco grabbed her wand, ‘That only makes it easier for them to see you.’
‘Who is them exactly?’
‘Just… them.’ He returned her wand.
She kept it in her hand, ‘So how are we supposed to stay together then? It’s pitch black in there.’
‘Don’t let go of my hand,’ he replied, reaching out his arm to her.
She sighed as she grasped his hand, feeling her pulse increase as his fingers intertwined with hers. This isn’t going to be hard at all, she thought to herself as he led the way into the trees.
(A/N - please R/R and if you really enjoy it recommend me to others! So what did you think? Let me know! I have a feeling a lot of you are going to hate me for making him not catch her - I had already written it and hoped that at least half of you would want her to fall, but then I got all your reviews saying 'he has to catch her' and now I'm worried!)
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