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Chapter 39 : The Collision of Time and Place
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Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Collision of Time and Place
Hermione rolled over groggily, flinching against the violently bright sun. Immediately, she was stricken by the pain in her neck and couldn't recall where it had come from. Gathering herself slightly, and recognizing the throbbing against her temples, she wrenched an arm free from the blankets and took stock of her surroundings. It was a hovel of sorts, dim and dank with old newspapers and litter scattered everywhere. It reminded her vaguely of the shrieking shack of her childhood, but the room had a more violent, brutish tinge to it.
As some of the foggy veils of sleep fell away, reason made its way to the forefront of her mind. She recalled the early evening hours with Draco and losing her nerve to tell him about the child. She vaguely recalled his heavy drinking and his touches becoming more frequent and demanding. Flashes of the dark mark pressing and rubbing into her bare flesh as Draco’s body moved against hers caused a bile to rise in her stomach. She glanced around again to calm herself, but the sight of the bra she had been wearing the night before strewn carelessly across a table so dirty she would never have touched it under normal circumstances made her squeeze her eyes shut again. The pain in her neck lifted suddenly, causing her to jump and, with an overwhelming urge to vomit she realized he was still beside her…his naked body serving as undeniable proof of her stupidity the night before.
Slipping out from underneath his arm, the dark mark mocking her with each trepid move, she tried to locate the most obvious clothing so she could get out as quickly as possible. Spying her shirt across the room, she tiptoed toward it, anxiously glancing back as she heard him toss across the bed. She tugged on her shirt quickly, her eyes roaming the room to try and locate her panties. An edge of pink lace peeked from underneath Draco’s shoulder and she grimaced. Deciding it best to leave them be, she pulled on her jeans hastily, unsure exactly how long he might remain unconscious.
She considered summoning Sirius to pick her up--he might be angry but he would rescue her nonetheless-- then the pounding in her head dissipated enough for her to think better of it. Had she listened to him, she would have brought her wand with her and could have quickly fashioned a portkey to get herself home. She tapped her foot, wondering if she should risk apparating, knowing she hadn’t done in it nearly a decade. Visions of splinched classmates during their apparating class caused her to dismiss the thought.
She stood still, turning in a slow circle to try and fathom what on earth would have made him bring her here. Then she recognized it…the deep brownish circle in the corner, the litter of newspapers having been painstakingly brushed aside to remind her of her past.
She dropped to her knees, her fingers trembling as she reached a hand toward the spot. Flashes of moments streaked across her memory…her own body lying in this very spot; blood from a small wound in her side mixing with that of Harry’s, or was it Ginny’s? She couldn’t recall and withdrew her hand hastily, her movements jerky and uncontrolled.
Draco’s arms around her…comforting her and tending to her injuries…her cries and desperate pleas for him to go after Harry…his refusal…the single golden phoenix feather landing in her lap…the scroll of parchment that announced the war was over…
It all happened here, in this horrid filthy place that she never dreamed she’d see again. Her throat constricted, her stomach lurched and she bent at the waist spewing the remnants of whatever she had eaten last across the floor.
He was at her side immediately, tugging on his boxers and striding to her in one move. He slid to his knees, grabbing her hair to keep it out of her face. He wiped her mouth with a dirty rag, streaks of black soot now hiding the flush in her face. She glanced up, his look of worry and concern making her feel ill once again.
“Why,” she tried to breath but couldn’t seem to manage it. “Why would you bring me here?”
He looked at her in perplexity as if he wasn’t following a thing she said. “Hermione, I…” he seemed to think better of whatever he was going to say. He reached out to her, his hand icy on her warm flesh. “This is where we began.”
“Began?” she hissed. “This is where my world ended, Draco! Don’t you understand that? Everything, everyone, it all ended here in mere moments!” She tried to struggle to her feet but couldn’t summon the strength to lift herself. She scooted across the floor, away from his attempts to console her. “Don’t you understand anything?”
Draco’s face fell, his heart tumbling out of control. “It’s where we began,” he tried again, more softly. “Our life --mine, yours, Juliette’s--it’s where we were granted a new start...together.”
Hermione’s tears fell in torrents, unable to understand anything he was telling her. Could he possibly be so self-centered? So arrogant that he didn’t realize what he had done to her? Her body shook with convulsions, emotions causing her to feel faint. She could see him moving toward her but she couldn’t move, barely managing to pull herself into a tight ball to avoid him. “I don’t want a new start,” she screamed through uncontrollable tears, “I want---”
But she had no more in her. She fell silent, unable to stop her trembles or his advancements or even her breathing. He was within inches of her, her vision fuzzy but she could sense his nearness. But in the space of a heart beat something changed…he stopped mid-stride, a wand jabbing into his throat from somewhere high above her head. He wasn’t moving--his head tilted slightly up to avoid the tip of the wand, his body caught somewhere between sitting and standing.
“Don’t touch her.”
Using his leg as leverage, Hermione pulled herself behind him, blocking Draco from her view.
“You can’t be serious!” Draco growled. “We’re engaged, you foul moronic prat!” He attempted to move again, causing Hermione to flinch visibly. It was her, more than the wand at his throat, that caused him to stop. As if he had sudden understanding of how much he had hurt her, his eyes drifted to Sirius’.
Sirius’ voice was calm, resigned, a tinge of his own hurt at finding them together shining through. “Do you love her, Draco?”
“I-” he paused, an infinitesimal pause but one that echoed through the room. But he quickly straightened himself, his voice defiant. “I want to marry her, don’t I?”
Sirius couldn’t hide the look of disgust on his face and his wand flicked dangerously along the blueish vein in Draco’s neck. Hermione shuffled beside him, though, her clenched fists tightening on his cloak and tugging heavily on his shoulders. He dropped to his knees, wrapping an arm around her waist to help steady her. He lifted her up easily, her fingers digging into the flesh of his back as her arms circled around him. She titled her head towards him and he met her eyes, briefly, the deep wounds of her past visible to him in all their horror. His hand caressed her cheek lovingly before he realized where they were.
With sudden recollection of place and time, he tucked her head into his chest, his arm wrapping protectively around her. He turned a fleeting look Draco’s direction, choosing his words with extraordinary care. “Touch her again without her consent and you’ll have no need to worry about your father’s whereabouts,” he hissed. “Have no doubt, Draco, I will kill you myself.”
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