Chapter 34: Lost Scenes and Memories:
Harry Potter could not believe that Hermione Granger was his sister. None of that made any sense to him, and given that Theo Nott killed Remus Lupin, he could no longer ask the older man if the story was true. Of course, it had to be true. Why else would Hermione say it, if it were not true?
Harry and Draco took Hermione home to Potter’s Hall. It truly was her home now. The back wing was burned so badly and there was too much damaged to her old bedchamber, so Harry had his mother’s old bedroom, the one across from his, made up for her. It was her mother’s room as well, after all. It was nicer than her old rooms anyway.
Draco carried her into the mansion as Harry barked orders right and left to his staff. Draco took her to the lounge to wait for the room to get ready, placed her on a sofa and knelt down beside her. The calming draught Remus had given her was still having an effect on her, so she was still sleeping. However, she opened her eyes briefly, put her hand to Draco’s cheek, and said, “I know you are real this time.”
He was real. She was real. This was real.
When the room was ready for her, Draco carried her up the long flight of stairs, down the long hallway, to the west wing. He entered a big room, which faced the front of the house. It had two sets of bay windows in the front, and window seats in each. It had a large sitting room that was connected to bedchamber off to the side. He placed her gently on the bed. Harry told Malfoy to go home and get some rest.
“I am afraid to tell you that I shall never leave her again,” he said to Potter.
Harry merely nodded, relieved that at least one thing had a happy conclusion. He was resigned with the fact that he may never find that type of love and happiness. He left the pair alone. Draco sat in a red wingback chair in the corner of the bedchamber to watch her sleep. This reminded him of the day she fell in the ravine and hurt her ankle and he brought her back to Potter’s Hall.
On that day, right after he carried her home, he sat in the corner of her bedchamber, much as he sat now, with his eyes opened, his attention paid directly to her. Yet on that day, she was not even aware he was there.
Was she aware now?
(Flashback to the Day of the Picnic:)
Draco carried her out of the ravine and then Disapparated with her back to Potter’s Hall. He had just told her that despite their obvious difference, he was going to ask Harry if he might court her. She slapped him. She apologized a moment later, but she still said that she did not feel remorse for the slap, because he deserved it. She thought he had told her she was no better than the mud outside his door, yet he wanted to pursue a relationship. He had told her that he would be the laughing stock of his friends, but he could not help his feelings. She told him that he might not be able to help his feelings, but he did not seem to embrace them either.
Therefore, she said she was sorry that she slapped him. She should not have done so, but she did and she could not take it back. Harry’s butler, Manning, came back to open the front door and helped her in the house. He sent one of the household staff members to fetch a healer. He had another one carry her to the lounge, placing her on the sofa, with a footstool under her injured foot.
Draco stood outside Potter’s Hall for the longest time, feeling ashamed. Not for her, because she had every right to slap him, but for his own actions. He should never have told her that she was beneath him. He Apparated back to his home, and as he walked in the door of Malfoy Manor, he knew he had to make it up to her somehow. He had to make her see that he was a product of his upbringing, which could not change in one day, but if she had the patience and the resilience, perhaps she could teach him to change for the better. They could teach each other so much.
She told him that his words broke her heart. She apologized for striking him, and in the next breath, said that there was nothing she would like more than to be friends with him, or even more than friends, but that she did not want to have to prove her worth to him.
Damnation! She was right. Why was she right? Why did it take a mere slip of a girl to teach him a lesson in comportment, especially a girl whose own manners were so lacking? He smiled at that thought. She was unconventional in many ways: the manner in which she spoke, the way she voiced her opinions, the way she dressed, the way she would forgo all that was seemly, the way she often forgot her gloves, hats, and parasol when she was out among the crowd. Even the way she often wore her hair long and wild, was unconventional, and even when she wore it up, it always found its way back down to her shoulders.
He admired more things about her then he admonished. He decided to go back to Potter’s Hall. He would not apologize, nor would he let her apologize. He merely wanted to go back and make sure she was well. He told Potter he would call a healer for her ankle, and look after her, and he meant to do so.
He Apparated back just as the healer was walking up the walk. “Lord Malfoy,” the man said in greeting.
“Are you here for the viscount’s cousin?” Draco asked.
“It would appear so. She injured her ankle, so one of the servants has told me,” the man explained. He rang the bell, and then was escorted inside. Draco followed.
“The young lady was taken up to her bedchamber,” Manning said. He gave Lord Malfoy an inquiring look as he started up the stairs behind the healer.
Draco said not a word as he entered the room behind the man. Miss Granger had her eyes shut, with a cold compress on her brow. The curtains in the room were drawn, and the only light came from a lantern on the wall. It flickered gold and yellow shimmers across the darkened room.
Manning explained, “She now has a headache. My guess would be that she got too much sun today. She did not have a hat or a parasol, and the sun was bright and warm. Young ladies cannot take such extreme heat, you know.”
Draco wanted to snicker. If Miss Granger were in her right state, she would probably slap the old butler for his assumptions. The healer merely nodded. Draco sat quietly and unassumingly in the far corner of the room, in a hard, ladder-back chair by the fireplace and watched.
“Miss, my name is Healer Browning. Do I have your permission to ascertain if your ankle is broken?”
She nodded without removing the cloth from her eyes.
He lifted her dress slightly. Draco leaned forward in the seat. He watched with much interest as the older man reached up under her skirt, thinking, ‘Oh to be that healer.’ He watched closely as the older man rolled down her long white stocking. She already had removed her shoes. The healer put the stocking across the end of the bed and felt her ankle. He said, “I do believe it might be broken. A simple spell will tell me.” He raised his wand and said a spell, then proclaimed, “Yes, a small fracture. I can heal it quickly.”
He healed her ankle and then placed it on top of two throw pillows. Hermione was still quite unaware that Draco was in the room. The healer said, “May I give you something for your headache? If the sun induced it, you might have a mild case of heat exhaustion. I shall give you something to take away the pain and help you to sleep.”
“Thank you,” was her answer. He looked inside his bag, pulled out a vile, and put it to her lips. Draco watched her mouth with much interest, as her lips went around the top of the small bottle as she took a drink. She fell back down on her pillows and placed the cloth back on her eyes.
The healer turned to Manning and said, “She should rest now. Tell Lord Potter she will be fine, but to call me if she needs my services again. I shall leave some more potions for her head, as well as pain potion for the ankle. Someone should watch her for a couple of hours to be sure she does not try to walk on her ankle, or try to get out of bed while under the influence of the medicine.”
Manning said, “I shall send up one of the upstairs maids. The young miss does not have a lady’s maid. Her cousin tried to assign one to her, but she would not hear of it.” Manning placed several gold coins into the man’s hand and escorted him out the door.
Draco went to the bedchamber’s door and said softly to the butler, “I shall take up the first watch, until at least her cousin returns.”
“That would not be prudent,” the butler said. “She is a single woman, you are a single man. That would be most unwise.”
“Do you not trust me?” Draco accused. He wanted to see the man squirm. “Her cousin knew I was coming to watch after her. He trusted me with her care. Why do you not offer the same courtesy?”
“Very well, Lord Malfoy, but just until her cousin returns,” he said resigned.
Draco slipped back inside the room. With her eyes still closed, and the room still dark, she said, “Whoever that is, will you please take away one of the pillows from beneath my ankle?”
Draco did not know what to do. He expected her to sleep, but now he had to interact with her. He went to the foot of her bed, and with an intake of breath, he gingerly lifted her swollen, mostly healed, ankle. His fingers on her bare skin caused him pain and discomfort of a different sort.
He removed one of the pillows and placed her foot back on the remaining one. His hand lingered longer than it should have on her bare skin. He lifted his hand, and with a soft voice so she might not recognize him, he said, “Is there anything else, Miss?”
“Will you blow out the lantern and open one of the windows? Keep the blinds shut; it is just that I am warm.” To emphasize, she threw the cover that the housekeeper had placed over her down so that it was off her upper body, but still covered her legs.
Draco turned around and extinguished the lantern, then he licked his lips, and in a true act of bravery, he removed the lightweight throw from her legs. There was still a small trace of light coming in the room from the bright light of the afternoon. He could see her bare skin, and the contrast of her skin next to her beautiful muslin gown made his heart skip a beat. She turned her head away from him as he walked over to the window. He opened the slash, and pulled the blind so it covered all but the small opening.
He walked back over to her and said, “Anything else, my lady?”
Her eyes were still closed and for the longest time she said not a word, so he assumed she slept. He walked up to her and stroked her cheek. He took the cloth off her head, dipped it in the basin on the bedside table, rewet the rag, and before he placed it back on her brow, he smoothed her hair away from her forehead, where it was wet and sticking to her skin. He rubbed her forehead slightly with his thumb, and then placed the wet compress back to her warm skin. He started to walk back over to the chair, when she reached for him. In her temporary blindness, she grabbed the sleeve of his jacket.
“Please, do not go far. I feel quite ill, even a bit dizzy. It must be the potion the healer gave me for my headache,” she said. She held his sleeve. He held his breath.
“I will stay close, never fear.” In a very quiet voice, he stood over her, placed his hand over hers on his arm, and said, “Did you not have a nice time at the picnic?”
“No, I did not. All of the purebloods there made me feel inferior,” she explained.
She let go of his sleeve. He said, “All of them?”
“Yes, all of them,” she reiterated. “Well, there was one that was kind.”
Draco assumed she meant him, but she continued, “A Mr. Theodore Nott was kind to me, but he always is.”
“Lord Malfoy was not kind?” he asked.
“He hurt my feelings the most,” she said. “He will never think we are equal. I will never be good enough for him.”
“I am not sure that is true,” he said in the softest tone possible. He reached for her again, hesitated, brought his hand back to his chest, but then reached for her a second time, and touched the side of her face. He leaned over her and said, “People often say things they do not mean, to cover for a faux pas they might have done, or the like. Give the man another chance to prove that his is worthy of you.”
“It is I who is not worthy of him, or so he thinks,” she said.
“You are worth ten thousand Lord Malfoy’s,” he said truly. “Do you not know that?”
“Who are you?” she asked before she answered.
Draco took a few seconds to think. Had she met all of Potter’s servants yet? He finally said, “Your cousin’s personal valet.” He assumed that she would not have met that man, since he probably never left Harry’s quarters.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
Damn. Why would she want to know that? He didn’t know if he knew the man’s name. Finally he said, “Donnelly.”
“Will you read to me, Donnelly?” she asked.
Draco was in a real pickle now. The more he talked, the more likely he was to expose himself. He lied, “I cannot read.”
“That is sad. I shall teach you if I have time. I have my own lessons to attend, first. Mr. Lupin and Mr. Snape mean to teach me more about magic. Lord Malfoy was to teach me as well, although, now that I offended him, he probably will never talk to me again,” she said sadly.
Draco did not know how to respond to that. He really could not say much, because he did not want his ruse to end and he was certain she would recognized his voice if he asked her why she felt that way, so he remained quiet. Perhaps she would merely volunteer the information.
That was not to be. He stood by her bed, for perhaps ten minutes, and by the steady rise and fall of her chest, which he knew he should not be watching, he could tell she had fallen back to sleep.
He went back over to the chair and fell asleep himself. He only woke when Harry entered the room some two hours later. He nudged Lord Malfoy’s arm, thanked him for his attendance to his cousin, and bade him farewell. Draco had no choice but to leave her.
He walked over to the bed, looked down on her sleeping form once more, and more to himself than to her, said, “I will prove my worth to you, my lady. I promise you that.”
(End of Flashback)
Draco recalled that scene fondly as he once again watched her sleep. He had not gotten much sleep himself in the last two days. He felt mentally and physically exhausted. He found he could no longer remain awake. He found it increasingly hard and soon, very soon, his eyes closed and sleep overcame him.
Hermione awoke and opened her eyes, which went immediately to the man sitting in the chair in the corner of the room. She decided to watch him. He looked sad, even in his sleep. She was sad as well. She knew that Remus had died. She did not want that. She was also afraid if Theo and the Militia found Marcus Flint, he too would die, and for some reason, she found that she also did not want that.
She heard Harry and Draco discussing their theories earlier when they thought she slept. They thought Marcus was the son of Andromeda. Draco also told Harry what the old fortuneteller told him in the village. If two men went to visit the old woman that day and she told one of them he was the son of Andromeda, might Flint had been the second man? Might he have been working to protect her along with Remus? She had a hard time believing Remus would have had anything to do with someone who would want to harm her.
She looked back over at Draco. He had taken his black cutaway jacket off and it hung on the bedpost. His boots were crossed at the ankles, and his hands clasped in his lap. One would have thought he was deep in prayer, or was in silent contemplation, rather than sleeping.
Hermione’s mind wandered to the day she and Remus were accosted by those three men, while in Lord Malfoy’s carriage. After Harry, Theo and Draco came to their aid, he rode in the back of the carriage with her back to Potter’s Hall. She knew she was silly that day to insist they still have their lesson. While she claimed it was because she had to learn to at least Apparate, the real reason was that she had looked forward to spending time alone with him that day, and no one, not even three bad men, were going to take that away from her.
The way he sat beside her on the ride back to Potter’s Hall gave her hope. Hope that he would someday think of her as his equal, hope that he would someday look beyond her blood status, and hope that he might one day want to call her his wife. She wondered that day if it was it wrong to hope for such things.
When he took his handkerchief from her hand, and pressed it to the wound on her neck, she was no longer cognizant of fear or pain. She was only aware of the gentle pressure of his hand on her neck, the feel of his strong chest as she leaned against it, and the way his arm went around her shoulder and held her tightly.
She found herself leaning against him in a most familiar way, with his left arm holding her shoulders. It was as if it always was and always would be. She started to cry, though she fought hard to hold the tears back. He could sense her tears, and he handed the cloth to her, so that she held it next to her wound, and then with the hand that was previously holding the cloth to her neck, he placed that arm across the front of her, and clasped his two hands together, trapping her in his eternal embrace.
She remembered looking over at Lupin, who had his eyes shut. She glanced at the man who held her encompassed in his arms, and said one word, “Draco.” She meant so much with that one word. She meant, ‘I love you’ in that word. She meant, ‘I owe you a debt’, with that one word. She meant, ‘I want to be yours’, in that one word. One word spoken… no other word was needed because that one word meant so much to her.
Little did she know that it meant just as much to him.
Remembering that incident, she longed to say his name again. She brought her head up from the pillow, and with her stare still on his sleeping form, she said, “Draco.”
He opened his eyes slowly, stood up, and walked over to her. He sat beside her on the bed, brought her hand up to his mouth and kissed the top of it in an act of familiarity, which signified his love and admiration for her. Leaning over her, he placed his head on her chest. She brought her arms around his body, holding him in comfort, the same as he held her that day in the carriage.
He said, “Hermione.”
It was enough said for them both.