Hermione wrenched away from Draco the second his lips touched hers. She looked at him in absolute shock, trying to find the words, any words, to convey what she was feeling.
“What the bloody hell was that?” she finally sputtered.
“I kissed you, Granger.”
“Why would you do such a thing? What does that prove, besides the fact that you’ve finally gone off the deep end?” she screamed hysterically, moving away from him as if afraid he'd go for round two.
“Hermione, I was trying to prove to you that I’m not who you think I am. Not anymore.”
“Just because you kiss me doesn’t mean you’ve changed.”
“Then tell me, Granger - Would the Draco Malfoy you’ve assembled in your head over the years ever kiss you? Would he ever even touch you?”
“No, he wouldn’t.”
“So what does that tell you?”
She set her mouth in a determined line, still unswayed. “It tells me that Voldemort sent you to try to get inside my head. This is your real task. To get in my head, and get the information we have so he can stop us from destroying him. No matter what you say, Draco, I won’t believe you’ve changed. I will never trust you.”
Hermione began to walk away, and Draco knew that this was his last chance to convince her.
“He’s worried, you know.”
She stopped, though she desperately wanted to keep walking.
“About what?” she asked icily.
“He’s worried that Harry’s going to find the rest of his Horcruxes. He never planned for him to find out about them. They were his last hope. He knows that he’s in danger. He’s scared, Hermione.”
She turned around, her eyes wide. “He told you… about the Horcruxes?”
“He only told my father and Snape. They’re the only ones he trusts. I overheard them speaking of it together late at night. I know where some of them are, and I could probably figure out the rest with some help.”
“You’re… You’re actually serious?”
“I’ve been telling you that from the very beginning, Hermione.”
“But… Draco, if he finds out that you did anything to help us, he’ll kill you.”
Draco sighed, looking out at the forest in the distance. “Granger, here’s how I see it. Even if he finds out eventually and kills me, it won’t be before I bring you information. And because you’ll have that information, Potter will hopefully be able to end him once and for all. That would at least make my death worth it. As long as he is finally destroyed... for good.”
Hermione looked at him for a moment, stunned silent. His eyes looked so tired, as if he had given up on living a long time ago. He was willing to sacrifice himself to defeat Voldemort. He was willing to help them, even if it meant his death. He was on their side.
Draco Malfoy was on their side.
She suddenly wished that Harry and Ron were here to hear this. They would never believe her. She could put the memory of this talk into a Pensieve to show them, and they still wouldn’t believe her.
“Harry and Ron aren’t going to be easy to sway. I hope you know that. It’s going to take a lot for them to believe you.”
“I’m aware. I’ll take care of it.” He began to walk away, his heart feeling a little lighter than before. Even if he died in the effort, he trusted Hermione. He even trusted Potter and Weasley. He knew they could do it. With the right help, it would be simple.
They could defeat him.
He had just opened the door when she shouted his name. He turned back around to see her with an open mouth and a confused look on her face, as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t find the right words.
“I… I just want you to know that… That if something happens, or something goes wrong, I would… I would do my best to save you.”
They stared at each other, letting her sentence hang heavily in the air.
After a few moments of nearly suffocating silence, Draco spoke. Out of his mouth came five simple words.
But though they were simple, they were five words Hermione would never forget, so long as she lived.
“Weasley is a lucky man.”
* * * *
He was here.
Voldemort walked slowly across the stone ground, and Hermione watched as Harry gripped his wand tighter. This was it. It all ended here.
They walked towards each other, and Hermione's stomach filled with cold dread.
But then she realized that something had changed. She looked around in confusion, trying to pinpoint what had shifted. The air was heavier. Something was about to happen. Something terrible.
And suddenly, everyone began moving. It was as if someone had seized a remote and pressed fast-forward. Everything blurred together, and Hermione watched in horror as Harry and Voldemort both lifted their wands to begin the battle. Before she could even blink, Harry’s wand was shot out of his hand.
Harry didn’t have his wand.
She watched as it rolled across the stone. She tried to reach for it, but her feet were nailed to the spot. She tried to scream, but nothing came out.
Everything had slowed now, and she watched as a sickening smile spread across Voldemort’s face. He raised his wand, ready to deliver the final, crushing blow.
It was over. It was all over. Harry didn’t stand a chance. Hermione closed her eyes, not wanting to see what was about to happen. She couldn’t bear it.
A voice sounded from nearby, and her eyes flew open to see someone running towards Harry’s fallen wand. A pale hand scooped it from the ground and threw it to Harry, who caught it in less than a second. Wasting no time, he pointed his wand at his opponent and screamed “AVADA KEDAVRA!”
Voldemort, completely caught off guard, was hit squarely in the chest. Everyone watched in shock as his body flew high over the crowd, landing on a pile of stone. The corpse slowly came apart like ash and flew into the wind, leaving behind absolutely no trace of the once powerful Dark Lord.
It was dead silent as everyone turned to the person who had just saved Harry Potter’s life.
Draco Malfoy looked around at the crowd, unsure of what to do. Harry’s eyes were wide and his wand slipped from his hands, landing with a crash much too loud for its weight.
Unable to bear the silence, Draco turned to Hermione, as if hoping she would say something to him.
She said nothing. Her feet suddenly able to move, she walked towards him. He looked at her with fear, almost as if she was going to strike him. Almost as if he had done something wrong.
The crowd was fading away, leaving only Hermione and Draco in the battlefield. Tears ran down her face as she reached for him, pulling him into her arms and holding him.
“I knew you were good,” she whispered. “I knew it.”
He wrapped his arms tightly around her and let out a shaky breath.
“Because of you,” he whispered, “Only you.”
* * * *
Hermione's opened her eyes slowly, almost expecting to see the misty battlefield before her.
It was all so real. She could still feel his arms around her, and she could still hear his shaky breathing.
This dream was different. It felt less like a dream, and more like a memory. She had never had a dream so vivid and tangible. Never.
She snatched a piece of parchment from her bedside table and began hurriedly recording every detail of the dream. It felt so important, so urgent, as if she must remember every piece of it. After she had finished, she went on to write out the details of the other dreams. Maybe she could look at them objectively once they were written down. Maybe they would finally make some sense.
But much to her frustration, the meanings were just as abstract to her on paper as they were in her head.
It was time to talk to someone about this. Hermione had tried to talk to Ron, but he just hadn’t understood. She would go to Harry. Harry understood the importance of the goings-on of the mind. Maybe he could help her.
She pulled on some clothes and brushed through her knotted mess of hair, her mind racing. These dreams wouldn’t stop. They wouldn’t stop until she did something about them.
As she ran down the stairs to the Common Room, she prayed that Harry would be easy to find. It felt as if the entire world was sitting upon her shoulders, and she needed to unload some of the weight before she collapsed. Before she went absolutely mad from all of the unanswered questions.
She looked up and her gaze met a familiar pair of emerald eyes. Relief washed over her as she sat onto the couch beside Harry, putting her hands in his.
“Oh thank Merlin you’re here, Harry.” She realized that she truly hadn’t talked to Harry in days, and his presence now was so comforting that she almost felt as if she’d burst into tears.
“Hermione, what’s wrong?” Harry asked, sitting up in concern and gently squeezing her hands. “Your hands are like ice.”
She gently slipped them from his grasp, nodding her head slowly as she kneeled before the fireplace and held her hands to the flames to warm them.
“I have to tell you something. I’m afraid that a lot has happened since we last talked. I… I should have told you about it all from the very beginning.”
“I thought you were avoiding me, to be honest,” he murmured, sitting down next to her beside the fire.
It broke her heart to hear the hurt in his voice; mostly because what he said was true. She had been avoiding him. She’d been going to bed extremely early and getting up extremely early, to lessen the chances of bumping into him in the Common Room. The few classes they had together, she had pretended to be thoroughly engrossed in her notes and hadn’t spoken a word to either him or Ron.
Hermione had spent more time with Draco Malfoy in one day than she had with her friends in a week. That knowledge shamed her, and for a moment she could barely speak.
“I’m so sorry, Harry. You’re so right, I was avoiding you. I just… Some things happened, and I didn’t know how to handle them. I didn’t even know how to talk to you about them. It was wrong of me to ignore you, I’m so sorry.”
Tears were welling up in her eyes and she wiped at them hastily. Harry’s expression softened and he put his arm around her, trying to catch her gaze.
“It’s all right, Hermione. Maybe if you tell me what happened, I’ll understand why you couldn’t tell me before.”
“Harry… I’ve been talking with Malfoy.”
His arm unwound itself from her shoulders and he stared at her in shock. “What? Hermione, are you serious?”
“I’m completely serious, Harry. But before you say anything else, I have to tell you… I’ve been having these strange dreams.”
With a deep breath, Hermione launched into a detailed description of each of her dreams, beginning with the various grotesque visions of Draco’s death that had been plaguing her for the past few nights. Harry’s eyes did not leave her face as she talked. She told him about their meetings together, and how she had found Draco about to jump off the Astronomy Tower. She decided not to tell him about the dream she had just had, or anything about her and Draco’s most recent meeting – not yet, anyway. There would be a time and place to tell him, and now and here wasn’t right. She could feel it.
As she finished, Harry exhaled a long breath, staring at the fire with an emotionless expression.
“Hermione… Something about these dreams isn’t sitting well with me.”
“Of course not, Harry, they’re horrible!”
“No, it’s not that… I’m worried about their origin.”
“Their origin?” Hermione stopped short. She had never even begun to think about where the dreams could be coming from. She had been far too concerned with the why and the what - why she was having them and what they could possibly mean. She had never even considered how she was having them.
“Yes, their origin. Hermione, do you remember last year, when Voldemort was able to get into my mind?”
“Of course I do.”
“Do you remember… How he was able to send me visions? How he could basically plant anything in my mind that he wanted?”
Hermione’s breath caught in her throat.
“Hermione… I think someone has gotten into your mind. I think someone is sending you these dreams.”
* * * *
A/N Author's Note:
Hello my lovelies! First of all, just wanted to say BWAHAHA CLIFFHANGER.
But second of all, I want to give a HUGE thank-you to all of the wonderful reviewers whose messages have kept a smile on my face for the past few days. The amount of support for this story is overwhelming, and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to continue writing!