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Chapter 17 : Of Harry's Overreaction and An Unconventional Tango
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“Shh, Ginny. Be quiet. He’s still asleep.”
Ginny reached back and pulled her long red hair into a tight ponytail as she leaned against the counter. She had come downstairs this morning to find Hermione asleep on the floor next to the couch Draco was asleep on. She had shaken her friend awake and dragged her into the kitchen. Now Hermione was scrambling around the room trying to put together something for breakfast.
“Why can’t we just go down to the Great Hall?” Ginny asked.
“Does he look like he can make it up to his room, never mind the Great Hall?” Hermione asked as she scavenged for a bowl.
Ginny’s eyebrow quirked. “Actually, he looks like if you try to feed him your definition of food he may be worse off then he already is.” A retching sound met their ears and Ginny grimaced. “Point proven.”
Hermione scowled at her friend as she poured some dry oatmeal into a bowl and whipped her wand towards the small stove where a pan began to fill itself with water and then set to boil. “I’ll be right back,” she said as she left the room.
Ginny moved towards the stove and looked into the pot, water splashing up into her face as the it started to boil. She mumbled to herself as she accioed a hand towel to wipe off the pan‘s regurgitation.
“Good morning,” Hermione smiled at him as she knelt next to the couch.
Draco’s only response was to groan, his eyes closing. The blanket he had on him was pulled up to the juncture of his arms and shoulders, his arms laying on top of it. His hair was sticky and hung in his eyes. He groaned again.
Hermione muttered ‘evanesco’ as she pointed her wand towards the pot at the side of the couch and the result of the retching sound they had heard disappeared. She put a hand above his brow, wiping his hair from his forehead. “You’re not as warm as you were last night,” she said. “We should move you up to your room though. This couch can’t be comfortable at all.”
“You shouldn’t be around me,” he mumbled. “You get sick.”
“I have a fantastic immune system,” Hermione laughed. “I hardly ever get sick. In fact, I haven’t had the slightest trace of even a cold in the past three or four years.”
Draco’s eyes drifted shut and he shook his head. “Should go away,” he said.
“Ginny! Bring me a glass of water!” Hermione called to the kitchen. “We need to get you some fluids or you’ll dehydrate,” she told Draco as she reached for his shoulders. “Help me sit you up.”
Draco was absolutely no help at all, however. Hermione managed to get him into a sitting position, his head falling back against the couch. She frowned as Ginny appeared with a tall glass of water. “Do we have any straws?”
Ginny shrugged. “Since when do I live here?” she asked. “Accio Straw!” she cried. Nothing happened.
Hermione sighed. “Will you help him hold his head up?”
Ginny looked as if she was herself going to vomit. “Look, Hermione. I know he saved me and all… but I’m still having trouble with this whole ‘help Draco’ thing.”
“Hold his head!” Hermione yelled.
Ginny shook her head but did as she was asked.
After Hermione had forced the water down his throat she turned to Ginny again. “Now grab onto his right side and help me get him upstairs.”
“Ginevra Weasley, you heard me!” Hermione cried.
As Ginny slung one of Draco’s arms over her shoulder and they began to make their way to the staircase she grumbled discontentedly under her breath. “First she tries to poison me with mud in a mug and now she’s having me help Draco Malfoy - the poor sick boy- up to his bedroom and-”
“I can hear you,” Draco’s hoarse voice caused Ginny to jump.
They topped the stairs and Hermione pushed on Draco’s door and it swung open. His room was the same size as her‘s, but far less- ‘homey’. Everything was wrought in black iron; the bedposts, mirror, and wall hangings. There was a dresser, a large bed, mirror, desk, and bookcase in the room; that was all. Even his bed linens were black as night. Hermione and Ginny led him to the bed and he fell onto it, rolling onto his side and curling into a ball.
“Have you ever brewed a headache reliever?” Hermione asked Ginny, sitting on the edge of his bed.
“Does a headache reliever for hangovers count?” Ginny smiled. “The twins used that one often.”
“I guess it would have the same effect,” Hermione shrugged. “I don’t know one off the top of my head, but I do know it exists. I don’t want to leave him here alone to go scour the library for the recipe.”
Ginny smiled. “I’ll take care of it,” she said. “I guess I owe him that much.”
As Ginny exited the room Hermione fell back onto the far side of the bed from him when she suddenly remembered the food she had left in the kitchen. “Ginny!” she yelled. “The boiling-”
“-I got it! Don’t worry!”
Hermione settled back down, sleep claiming her before she had realized her eyes were closing on her.
Darkness is a creature all in itself. Maybe children weren’t so foolish; being afraid of the dark. Adults assumed it was the child’s imagination, that the child was picturing ghoulies and ghosties in the dark that weren’t there, the truth of it being that children do not fear imaginary creatures. They fear the actual darkness itself. Dark can change shapes, can morph from one thing to the next before your eyes can focus. It has a mind entirely of its own. Draco found himself standing in a room filled with such a foe: darkness. There was no apparent boundaries to the space he was standing in. It was just blackness.
The bed sheets had been kicked to the floor; the occupants of the bed both tossing so viciously in their own dream worlds.
Light is not just the absence of dark. It emanates from within. It is good intentions and morals echoed into the visual spectrum. Most people do not fear anything in the light, but that makes absolutely no sense. You see, if there is a time one should be truly frightened of things coming after one’s self; tis when one stands in the light. The dark can be used as a shield, but where can a person hide when they are bathed in light? Hermione’s eyes ached from the blaring brilliance of the long hall she was standing in; a hall that seemed to stretch on forever to eternity.
Ginny was kneeling on the common room floor, an entire floor away from the victims of sleep. She could neither see nor hear their torment as she leaned over the contents of her cauldron. She pulled out her wand and stoked the flames in the fireplace higher, completely oblivious.
Draco was cold. He could hear his father’s voice.
‘You see that vial there? Take it, son.”
A round glass tube suddenly appeared in his hand. He looked down at the small object with peaked curiosity. It’s contents were an odd color, and moved about the tube as if alive. He tipped the vial upside down and watched as the liquid crept its way down the sides of the bottle, and dripped onto his wrist. He dropped the vial, surprised at the sudden cold on his skin. The contents of the vial had now taken on a goop consistency and was expanding, engulfing his entire arm and making its way up to his shoulder.
Draco groaned. He was shaking again. Next to him, Hermione was also turning fitfully.
Hermione was sitting in front of the Gryffindor fire place. She had her legs pulled up to her chin and was leaning against the couch. Above her Ginny was sprawled across Harry’s lap.
“I told you he was nothing but trouble, Hermione,” Ginny was cooing in Harry’s ear.
Hermione didn’t turn to either of them. She had just noticed the edge of the room were blurring; as if she was in the midst of a water color painting. Black was creeping into the corners. She turned to her side, only to find the floor was no longer there.
“Have you seen my brother?” Ginny asked Harry.
Harry smiled. “Ask Hermione.”
Ginny turned to Hermione and her face was suddenly not there any longer. Her skin was all intact, but it was smooth and creaseless. Hermione jumped back.
“Have you seen Ron?” she heard Ginny’s voice.
Wordlessly she shook her head. There was a sudden thumping and the three of them turned to find Ron coming down the boy’s staircase. He was a milky blue color, his skin flaking off in some areas. One of his eyes was scarred over and shut.
Hermione scampered to her feet as he limped towards them.
“Hey, Ron!” Ginny’s empty face called to him.
“How are you feeling, Mate?” Harry asked in a jovial voice.
Ron’s mouth opened to respond, but no sound came out. Harry and Ginny nodded as if they had heard words and understood them. Hermione continued to back away in horror as she realized that Harry had no hands attached to the ends of his arms. She suddenly found herself falling backwards. She landed with a definite thump into the fireplace she had been staring at only moments ago.
She screamed in agony as the flames kissed her skin, but not one of the other occupants of the room turned to look at her. She continued to scream.
Draco awoke with a start. It took him a moment to realize he was in his own room. He forced himself into a sitting position, a hand going to his forehead. His skin was warm, but not abnormally so. His head was still spinning a bit. A sharp knock on his door caused him to reach instinctively for his wand.
His door swung open at the same time he looked to his right and found a brunette girl clutching one of his pillows, tears on her face.
“I have a headache potion for you,” Ginny Weasley stepped into the room with a steaming cup. “Actually, it’s a hangover potion but Hermione and I think it will do the same thing.”
Draco downed the cup in one sip as Ginny’s eyes roved to Hermione. “She looks dreadful,” she raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing awake anyway?”
“How long have I been asleep?” he rasped, his throat was dry.
Ginny took back his cup and, using her wand, refilled it with water, handing it back to him. “You’ve been asleep about twenty one or twenty two hours. I’m surprised she’s been out as long as she has been.”
“How long has she been here?” he turned to look at her.
“Just about as long as you have,” Ginny’s voice was obviously disapproving.
Draco reached over and brushed hair from Hermione’s face and she groaned. “I think she’s having a nightmare,” he said.
“Don’t wake her!” Ginny cried. “Mum says its bad to wake someone when they are dreaming. She says its how our mind works through our problems. Especially through our nightmares.” Draco cocked an eyebrow at the redhead but moved closer to the edge of the bed. “How are you feeling now?” she asked.
Draco shrugged. “A bit stiff, but thanks to that potion my headache has cleared. I feel a little groggy but the overwhelming desire to retch has passed.”
Ginny sat on the edge of the bed. “Hey, by the way, thanks for coming after me,” she said uncomfortably.
“You’re her friend. I wouldn’t have left you there.”
“Even though you did get deathly ill,” Ginny smiled.
“Maybe not deathly but Hermione was right. It was a bad case of the flu. Most flus only last twenty four hours or so,” he shrugged.
Hermione thrashed violently, interrupting their conversation. She was crying.
Draco turned to Ginny but she shook her head. “You can’t wake her! Its not a good idea!”
“She’s in pain,” Draco protested.
“She’s not really in pain,” Ginny said. “Its just a dream.”
Draco thought back to the dream he had just had and the echo of the memory and knew she was wrong. Dreams could hurt you. He grabbed her arms as she sat bolt upright and screamed.
Ginny was so startled she slipped off the edge of the bed. Draco wrapped his arms around the sleeping girl. “Wake up, Hermione, come on,” he lightly shook her.
It took a few seconds, but finally her eyes opened. She pushed away from him and violently ran her hands over her arms and face, as if there was something on her she was trying to wipe off. She was gaping in air.
“It was just a dream,” he assured her. “Its alright.”
She suddenly realized he was sitting up in bed and talking coherently and stopped moving. “You’re okay?”
He smiled. “I’m fine. You were right, just a little bout of the flu.”
“Of course she was right,” Ginny snorted. “She’s ‘Hermione’. When is that girl ever not right?”
At Ginny’s words Draco threw back his head and laughed. It was a rich velvety sound that reminded Hermione of chocolate, and before she knew it she was laughing too, and then Ginny joined in and the air in the room seemed to lift infinitesimally.
The week wound up within the next few days and students began to drift back into the school. The place came back to life quickly. Draco regained his strength within two days of his bout of the flu and was soon escaping the common room every night to visit the dance studios once again. Ginny had moved back into the Gryffindor tower. The three of them had decided it would be most wise to not explain to Ron and Harry when they returned what had happened in their week of vacation, however, the boys were still suspicious.
“How was your week?” Harry asked Ginny at breakfast the day before classes resumed.
Ginny swallowed the lump of food in her mouth too quickly and coughed. “It was uneventful,” she said. Next to her, Hermione became very interested in her toast.
“Have you got your robes for the ball yet?” Ron asked her.
Hermione kept her eyes on her toast. “Yes,” she said.
Ron, frustrated that he was getting the cold shoulder, tried again. “Did you have a nice Christmas? Get anything good?”
Hermione sighed, picking up her fork and pushing her eggs from one side of the plate to the next. “Ginny and I opened our presents together. It was nothing special. Tell your mother I appreciate the sweater.”
Ron went to open his mouth again, but Harry shook his head, dissuading him from continuing. Ron violently speared a sausage with his fork.
After breakfast Harry grabbed Ginny’s arm, keeping her from following after her brother. “I’m not as dense as Ron,” he frowned. “What happened while we were away. The two of you can’t even meet Ron and I’s eyes while speaking to us.”
Ginny wrenched her arm from Harry’s grasp. “I told you, nothing happened.”
“Ginevra Weasley, don’t lie to me,” Harry followed her as she stormed down the hallway.
Ginny, ever the temperamental red head whirled on him. “Draco took care of me. So stop asking questions. I was fine. Hermione was fine. The only time I was in danger was when she tried to feed me some mud she insisted was ‘hot cocoa’.”
Harry froze. “Malfoy took care of you? What the bloody hell does that mean, Ginny?”
Ginny stopped, her face paling as she realized what she had let slip. She turned to face him. “You can’t tell Ron. He’ll overreact.”
“I’m about to overreact. Worry about my reaction right now and we will deal with your brother later,” Harry’s face was stone.
Ginny looked about the hallway to ensure they were not within ear shot of anyone else before pulling Harry into a dark corner. “Over the Christmas Holidays I was abducted by the Malfoy house elf and taken to the Malfoy Manor where Lucius Malfoy murdered the poor creature and then locked me in his basement and then Draco appeared a matter of moments later and flew me back to Hogwarts but it was during a blizzard so he got the flu but now we are all fine and peachy. Nothing to worry about.”
Harry’s hands were in fists. “WHAT?!”
Ginny sighed. “You’re overreacting,” she said meekly.
Harry sputtered for a moment. “Hermione is living with that creature and his father abducted you?”
“Well, no. He was actually trying to abduct Hermione,” Ginny stopped. “Merlin I need to tell Draco. I don’t think he knows!” Ginny tried to run down the hall, but Harry followed her.
“Ginny, don’t run off on me!”
“Harry I’m sorry but I have to go tell-” she was stopped by Harry’s hand on her arm.
“Are you trying to tell me that you -of all people- are now calling Malfoy by his first name and are concerned about things that involve him?” Harry’s face was riddled with disbelief.
Ginny stalled. “Dear Merlin, I suppose so. I owe him, Harry. He saved my life. Merlin knows what Lucius would have done to me. He killed the house elf who brought me instead of Hermione to him. Draco stormed through that house and threw me on his broom, even gave me his cloak so I wouldn’t freeze, all because I’m Hermione’s friend.”
Harry though this over for a moment. “Gin, it doesn’t feel right… but if you trust him-”
“Maybe Hermione is right. Maybe there is something about Draco that we can’t see.” The words sounded absolutely pulled out of her.
Harry shook his head. “I don’t think so, Gin. I think he has some sort of ulterior motive for seeming to become so close to Hermione. He’s a Malfoy. He doesn’t care about anyone. He would sell out his own mother if the opportunity arose to save his own rear.”
Ginny bit her lip. “I don’t know, Harry. Perhaps you are right.”
“I’m glad you told me. I’m going to be keeping a closer eye on Malfoy from now on. I think it’s best we don’t tell Ron though.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Ginny nodded.
“How are you feeling?” Hermione sank on to the couch next to Draco later that evening.
Draco groaned and allowed his head to fall back against the couch’s arm. “Stiff.”
“That’s your own fault, you know,” she scolded. “You’ve been in the dance studio for at least four hours. I told you you are moving too fast after just recovering from such a nasty flu.”
“How come you haven’t gotten sick yet? You were there with me the whole time,” his eyes were closed and Hermione smiled.
“I told you, I never get sick.”
He snorted. “I’m choreographing a new dance,” he admitted.
“For pointe class?” she gulped. That class was painful enough as it was. She hated being in the small advanced class when she clearly wasn’t advanced.
He opened his eyes, his head still resting on the arm of the couch. “No,” he said. “For us.”
“For us?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said, pushing himself up into a sitting position. “I’m going to teach it to you and then you will perform it at your jury and pass and show everyone that you really can dance.”
Hermione’s limbs went cold. She shook her head adamantly. “I appreciate the effort, but please, no.”
“You have no choice,” he resumed his relaxed position.
“Of course I have a choice!” she replied indignantly. “I have every choice! You can not make me dance!”
“Don’t throw a temper tantrum,” he said. “You’re above throwing tantrums.”
She huffed. “I don’t want to do it. I can’t do it.”
“You will do it. We’ll do it in tutoring.”
Hermione, realizing this may mean she was getting out of pointe, asked; “What style?”
Draco did not answer.
“What style is the dance, Draco?”
“It’s a tango,” he said finally. She sighed in relief. “It’s a tango done in pointe shoes.”
“You heard me.” It was infuriating how cool his tone was and how he kept his eyes shut the entire conversation.
“The tango does not have anything to do with pointe shoes!” Hermione cried.
“It does when I choreograph it,” Draco smirked. Hermione fell silent for a moment, her eyes focused on the flames that leapt before them. “We need to rehearse for the ball first,” he said, one eye peeking open to look at her.
She stiffened. “The ball you are taking Pansy Parkinson to.”
“No,” he growled. “The ball you are taking Ronald Weasley to.”
“It’s your own fault I have to go with him, remember?” she scolded, arms crossed against her chest.
Draco sat up, taking her arms and forcing her to look at him. “You don’t seem to understand, Hermione,” he said in a low voice. “You don’t seem to have the foresight you usually exhibit. What do you think people would say, thinking we were together? Don’t you understand what your ‘friends’ would do to you if you let me take you to that damned ball?”
Hermione cast her eyes downwards. “They’d never speak to me again.”
He released her. “Exactly,” his voice cracked. “Pansy Parkinson will raise no suspicions. I have no choice but to take her.”
Hermione’s chest was tight. It hurt. “I love Ron. I really do,” she said. “But I love him like a brother. Its not for lack of trying. I’ve known forever how he feels. I’m not an idiot, I just ignore it. I’ve even tried to imagine kissing him, but it just feels wrong.”
Draco did not meet her eyes. “All we have to do is prance around the hall a few times together and then we can resume pretending to despise each other.” He turned to find Hermione staring vacantly ahead, her eyes not focusing on anything directly. He too allowed himself to stare vacantly before him, catching her hand in his. “I don’t like Pansy. I did for awhile, but then, well things changed.” He squeezed her hand. “If Weasley even breathes too close to you…” Draco trailed off but Hermione knew what he was saying despite his unfinished sentence, and she was calmed slightly.
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