The first dream had started out simply enough.
He was walking along the Black Lake on a beautiful summer’s day. The water was a striking sapphire blue from the clear sky. The wind was blowing, birds were chirping, and not a thing was on his mind.
Draco closed his eyes to inhale the wonderful scent of the air, but when he opened them again… The happy picture was gone. No more clear sky. No more sapphire water. No more birds chirping. And in their wake… Chaos.
The sky had filled with menacing grey clouds, and the lake water had turned as black as tar. The air was filled with the sound of thunder and… screams! Draco looked around to see millions of figures in black robes swarming the Grounds, firing spells. He tore his gaze from them to see their targets, and his heart dropped as he realized that the Death Eaters were aiming at an enormous crowd that was steadily pouring from the main doors of Hogwarts. Students, teachers… Each fell, one by one, until the ground was littered with corpses.
He tried to shout, but no sound came out. He couldn’t even so much as move from where he stood. All he could do was watch the horror and carnage unfold before him.
But then he felt it. Something was behind him. Draco turned around in dread to see the black water of the lake rising up before him, assuming the shape of Lord Voldemort. He opened his mouth to deliver a silent scream as the dreadful illusion reached out a black hand to grab him. Before he could even blink, he was being pulled under.
The thick water filled his lungs in less than a second. He struggled to swim to the surface, but he sank faster the harder he tried. Finally, he gave up struggling, and the last thing he saw were a pair of red eyes glinting in the water before everything went black.
But it seemed fate didn’t want him dead just yet. Suddenly, he felt himself being yanked to the surface, and then he could feel fresh air on his face. He sputtered and coughed as he was pulled to shore, and he managed to open one curious eye to see the blurry outline of his rescuer collapse to the ground nearby.
Draco lay there coughing up water for some time, until he finally had the energy to open his eyes and solve the mystery of just who had saved him.
Sitting next to him, soaking wet, was a girl with all-too-familiar wavy brown hair.
He had woken up in a cold sweat with his heart beating loudly in his ears. But Draco hadn’t given the dream a second thought. He had shoved it to the back of his mind, figuring that it was just a result of Hermione’s role in saving him from Potter’s spell.
The next dream, however, was a bit harder to forget.
He was walking along a dimly-lit path in the Forbidden Forest. It was night, and the moon was nearly eclipsed by grey clouds. He was all alone, and it was dead silent.
It was too silent. His skin grew cold as he waited. For what, he didn’t know.
He was on the ground before he could even blink. Then the pain came. His entire body was on fire, and all he could do was scream.
The Cruciatus Curse. There was no mistaking it. And he knew who was delivering it. Any time pain was involved, he knew who it was.
The pain was steadily getting worse. His back was arching so much from the agony that he felt as if his spine may break in half. Somewhere far back in his mind, he wondered if it was possible for bones to explode.
But then, in the midst of the blinding anguish, he felt something soft touch his cheek. And just like magic, all of the pain disappeared.
He inhaled a shaky breath as the relieving coolness of the night air washed over his skin. When he finally opened his eyes, what he saw shocked him.
Hermione Granger stood near him, looking out at the forest. She turned her head back, and his jaw dropped in horror as he saw that her face was covered in dried blood. Multiple wounds were all over her face, and her lip was split and bleeding profusely. Her hair was in tangles and her clothes were ripped and stained.
“He did it,” she whispered.
He sat up, unable to take his eyes off her wounded face. “What?”
“He did it. Harry killed him. He’s gone.”
Hermione bent down before him and looked into his eyes. “Of course. You can’t see it. Here,” and she briefly touched his eyelids.
Once she removed her hands from his face and he opened his eyes, he fell back in astonishment.
Everything looked brighter. It was like he had been seeing in black and white until this very moment. The Forbidden Forest was completely illuminated by the sun, which was shining brilliantly up in the sky. And even though he couldn’t see it for himself, he knew Voldemort was gone. He also knew that Harry Potter was somewhere close by, very much alive.
But then his stunned gaze fell on Hermione, and all other thoughts flew from his mind.
In any other dream, it would have been cheesy. In any other dream, he would have scoffed at what he saw. But this dream was different.
Hermione was wearing a long white dress, like the kind you’d see in perfume commercials. Her hair fell softly around her shoulders, and her skin looked like the purest, most exquisite porcelain.
And for a moment, Draco Malfoy forgot how to breathe… because he had never seen anything more beautiful.
Hermione smiled at him. “Now you’re seeing things for what they are. This is what the world looks like, outside of the darkness that holds you prisoner.”
He wanted nothing more than to touch her. He wanted to touch her beautiful face and convince himself that she was real. But when he reached for her… she disappeared.
Draco had opened his eyes to see one hand outstretched, still reaching for her. He had never felt so disappointed.
That is, until the final dream.
It was the most realistic of them all… which made it the most frightening.
He was in his family’s manor.
“DRACO? WHERE ARE YOU?”
His father’s voice boomed through the house, and chilled Draco to the bones.
He was angry. And Draco knew all too well what happened when his father was angry.
The door burst open and Lucius stepped through it, a wild look in his eyes.
“STOP COWERING AND COME AND FACE ME LIKE A MAN!” he shouted, brandishing his wand. Before Draco could even think of a spell, he was hitting the wall from a curse thrown viciously at him by his own father.
He fell to the ground with a sickening thud and gasped as his right side exploded in pain.
“You little coward!” Lucius hissed through clenched teeth, grabbing a vase from nearby and throwing it with all of his strength. Draco flinched as the vase hit him full-force on the side of the head. He saw blood dripping on the floor and felt the explosion of pain in his skull. But instead of fighting back, he simply closed his eyes and prayed to just disappear.
He felt something grasp his hand, and suddenly he was twisting through the air. When he opened his eyes, he was in a dingy alleyway… with Hermione Granger.
“You’ve really gotten yourself into quite a mess,” she murmured as she carefully examined his wounds.
He was so relieved. She was here. His father couldn’t hurt him anymore. He was safe.
She began healing his wounds and he sighed in relief as the pain began to ebb. “Thank you,” he whispered softly as she gently dabbed away some leftover blood on his face with her jacket sleeve.
Hermione paused, looking down at him with a suddenly very serious expression.
“I can’t keep doing this for you, Draco.”
He mustered enough energy to sit up and looked at her in confusion. “What do you mean?”
Her mouth was set in a grim line as she slipped her wand back into her pocket.
“I can’t keep helping you until you choose.”
“Which side you’re on.”
The moment the words left her mouth, the alley grew dark and she Disapparated. He tried to reach for her, but then recoiled as he saw who had taken her place.
Voldemort was rising out of the stone ground, smiling devilishly at him.
Draco’s mouth opened and he screamed at the top of his lungs.
He had woken up actually screaming, and his dormitory mates had rushed to his bedside to ensure that he was all right. He had assured them that he was fine, but it was the biggest lie that he had ever told.
He wasn’t all right. Draco Malfoy was many things, but he wasn’t all right. Not in the least.
Every dream pointed to her. But would she do it? In the end, would she really choose to save him?
His flashback of dreams was interrupted by Hermione’s concerned voice. He turned to her and looked at her in surprise, as if he had forgotten she was even there.
“I asked you to tell me what happened in your dreams,” she said slowly, thinking that he hadn’t understood or even heard her question.
Draco looked down at his hands, wondering how he could possibly dilute the incredibly detailed dreams into a few simple statements.
When it came down to it… They were about him being saved by her. They were about her being some sort of light in the darkness. And they were all telling him that he needed her if he wanted to survive.
“To be honest, Hermione… My dreams were all about you... saving my life.”
Her eyebrows went up and she nodded in deep thought, staring at the ground.
“What were yours about?” he asked, admittedly curious about her answer.
Hermione looked at her feet and tried to think. Until this point, the meanings of her dreams had been eluding her, with the exception of the last one. The last one was obviously trying to show her that Draco had the capacity for good in his heart.
His heart. Suddenly, it all made sense. The previous dreams had showed Draco dying and leaving behind a glowing, red heart that still beat. It was symbolism, in its most beautiful form! It meant that underneath his exterior was a true human heart that had capacity for love and good just like anyone else’s. That part she had understood, but now she saw the significance of his heart still beating after his death. That signified that his time wasn’t up yet. His heart still beat. That meant that he still had time to be saved. And because he was good, he was completely worthy of saving.
Hermione wondered how she hadn’t understood it before.
“My dreams were about your heart,” she admitted honestly.
“My heart?” he asked, a slightly amused expression spreading across his face.
“Yes, your heart. And its capacity to be good.”
“So, your dreams were telling you that I’m a good person?”
“In a way, yes,” she answered, looking up at him to see how he reacted. “That’s why I thought that you may have been the one who was sending them to me. But now that I think about it, they were far too creative.”
Draco put a hand to his chest as if offended. “Oh, I see, I’m not creative enough to be the architect of these dreams?”
“No, definitely not.” Hermione laughed at the fake expression of hurt that crossed his face.
“Well, I suppose you’re right. Mine were rather original as well,” he replied, staring at his shoes thoughtfully.
They both fell silent, remembering the serious and very real issue at hand.
“Do you have any idea who could be behind this?” Hermione whispered, as if afraid whoever it was could somehow hear her.
“No bloody clue,” Draco sighed, leaning his head back against the wall.
There was another extended moment of silence. Somehow, silence between them was becoming less and less uncomfortable. It was if they were both so skilled at immersing themselves in deep thought that they hardly noticed no words were being spoken. It was beautiful, somehow, how the silence could just exist between them with absolutely no uneasiness.
But soon, Hermione surfaced from her thoughts and out of her lips came a single question.
“Why did you kiss me? I don’t really believe that you were just trying to prove to me that you had changed. The old Draco Malfoy could have kissed me on a bet. So why did you do it?”
Draco turned to her in surprise. He hadn’t expected this from her. He was used to her questioning his motives, but this felt like more than that. It felt like she was asking much more than just one question.
Why had he done it? He had asked himself that same question many times after it had happened. And after a long period of self-reflection, he thought he maybe knew why.
“To be honest, Granger… I wanted to know what it was like to kiss a girl that actually gave a damn about me. Because so far, you’ve been the only one.”
Hermione’s heart skipped a beat as a line from her latest dream floated through her mind.
“Because of you…
* * * *
A/N Author's Note:
You know what? I think I have seriously lost my mind. IT IS SEVEN IN THE MORNING HERE. I STAYED UP UNTIL SEVEN IN THE MORNING WRITING THIS CHAPTER. MY FATHER HAS BEEN UP FOR TWO HOURS ALREADY, AND I HAVE YET TO SLEEP.
Yes, this is my life.
This chapter was hard. It was really hard. I rewrote it so many times. My brain is just fried. But I wanted so badly to post it for you wonderful people!!!
I really, really, really hope you enjoy it.
May I reiterate... IT'S SEVEN IN THE MORNING. I HAVE NOT SLEPT.
So you had better review... because I'm losing sleep for you guys.