Chapter 20 : Chapter 20
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We had been battling the death-eaters (well, Hermione did anyway) for a few minutes when the aurors finally turned up. Unfortunately some of them apparated right behind Hermione and I making us jump. In shock I lost concentration and my shield dropped. I had it back up in an instant but the death-eaters were quicker and knocked Hermione unconscious. No longer needing the shield to defend Hermione I dropped it once more and proceeded to hex the death-eaters.
“Malfoy what are you doing?! Put your shield back up until I can reach Hermione!” Weasley yelled from across the room.
“She’s fine on her own!” I yelled back.
“She’s bloody unconscious!”
“And your point is?”
“She can’t protect herself if she’s unconscious!”
“Yes she can. Look at her closely.” I couldn’t see when Weasley had seen Hermione but I certainly heard him.
“How in Merlin’s name is she doing that?!”
“We’ll explain later. Right now you need to get your ass in gear and help fight some of these gits!” Weasley rejoined the fight and eventually the death-eaters had all been caught and sent to Azkaban.
The aurors began to clear up the scene as I dragged myself across the room to Hermione who was still unconscious on the floor. “Hermione? Hermione can you hear me?” She stirred but did not wake however her shield did drop allowing me to pull her into my arms. That’s new; she wouldn’t drop the shield before.
“Mr Malfoy?” I looked up to see the auror who had hired me but I was still too dazed to remember his name.
“I know this is a bad time but we need to get you cleaned up and then ask you some questions.” I looked back at Hermione then at the healers who were waiting to be given permission to start their work on us. I gently laid Hermione on the floor and let them heal me. They worked quickly and soon I was as good as new. They moved on to Hermione as I was pulled away so that I could be questioned.
“We were ambushed. I was stunned from behind and brought here.” I was asked another question but I didn’t quite hear it as when I looked at Hermione, the healers tried to wake her up but her shield reappeared instead. “Well?”
“I’m sorry, what was that?”
“What happened when they brought you here? Why didn’t they just kill you?”
“They wanted me to join them. When I refused Lucius tortured me.”
“Lucius? As in Lucius Malfoy? I thought he was dead? What did he want?”
“He was dead but he had a horcrux. He was leading them and wanted me to join him. Look, can this wait? Hermione needs me.”
“I’m afraid this is a little more important. She’s not at risk so she’ll still be there when we’re finished. Just let the healers do their job.”
“This is more important?! Hermione is the most important thing in my life and always will be! The healers can’t do anything as they can’t get anywhere near her. I’m the only one who can help so excuse me or so help me you won’t be able to ask me any questions when I’m done with you!” He simply nodded at me and I strode back over to Hermione. They healers had heard my outburst and cleared the way for me as I went to kneel beside Hermione.
“Hermione, love, it’s me. Please lower the shield.” Although still unconscious she dropped the shield and I scooped her up into my arms despite the healers’ protests. “This has happened before; she has to wake up on her own.” Without warning I apparated back to the Manor.
I took Hermione straight to her room and tucked her into her bed. I kissed her forehead and left the room. After instructing the house-elves to alert me as soon as Hermione awoke, I went to find Mother. She was walking about the garden when I found her.
“Draco, there you are! Where’s Hermione? Where did you go?-”
“Mother.” I interrupted but she carried on talking.
“What took you so long? You were gone for hours. The house-elves wouldn’t tell me where you went-”
“Sorry.” She mumbled.
“I can’t tell you where we went or what we did because it’s classified. Hermione is in bed asleep.”
“It’s not even dinner time yet; why would she go to sleep now?”
“It wasn’t her choice.”
“You’re not making sense.”
“Hermione was knocked unconscious.”
“Why didn’t you just use enervate?”
“The healers tried that but her shield went back up and blocked it so now we have to wait for her to wake up on her own.”
“Oh. Do you mean the shield she’s been researching; the one that you saw in the woods?”
“I thought you couldn’t move her when the shield was up?”
“Um, yeah, so did I but when I spoke to her it dropped. She must be able to recognise my voice even when unconscious. I think it’s linked to her feeling safe.” I paused, trying to think of a way to tell Mother about Lucius. “I um... I have some bad news... I don’t really know how to say this but... Lucius is alive.” Mother’s face drained of all colour.
“He’s on his way to Azkaban as we speak and I don’t think that they’re ever going to let him out so we are safe for now.” Mother looked doubtful.
“Um, excuse us Master, Miss Hermione is awake.” A house-elf had appeared without us noticing but it was welcome news.
“Thank you. Mother we’ll talk later.” I apparated outside Hermione’s room and knocked on the door.
“Come in.” Hermione’s weak voice called. I walked in and crouched beside her bed.
“How are you feeling?”
“Exhausted but I’ll live. What happened after the aurors arrived? I heard them arrive but I don’t remember anything after that.”
“We won against the death-eaters and then I brought you here. You don’t remember because you were unconscious.” Hermione frowned in confusion. “I’m sorry Hermione, it was my fault. I lost concentration when the other aurors arrived and I dropped the shield. By the time it was back up you were knocked out. I’m sorry Hermione, please forgive me.” I bowed my head in shame but Hermione was having none of it. When I refused to look her in the eyes she cupped my face in her hands and forced me to look at her.
“Listen to me. It’s not your fault. You couldn’t help it and the death-eaters were the ones who cast the spell not you. I’m fine, I’m not hurt and there is nothing for you to feel sorry about. I’m more worried about you; I thought I had lost you.”
“But you didn’t; I’m still here although I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Why did you come for me on your own? You could have been killed.” I scolded Hermione which made her frown in annoyance.
“I came on my own because I love you and I wasn’t going to just sit back and let you die. The only way I could get in unnoticed was to go on my own and so that’s what I did. The original plan was to have the aurors as back up if I called for them but when Harry and Ron heard that I was coming to get you they refused to let me come on my own.-”
“Well at least someone was seeing sense.”
“I can look after myself you know. Anyway, we compromised and they along with the aurors were waiting outside until ten minutes after I had gone in. They would either help me fight or cause a distraction to help us get away, whichever was needed.”
“It sounds like a good plan. Thank you.”
“Saving me.” Hermione smiled at me but had a look which told me she understood that I meant more than just from the death-eaters.
“I’m going to let you sleep now; we’ve both been through a lot today.” I kissed her softly and stood up to leave.
“Stay with me.” I walked around to the other side of the bed and crawled in. I wrapped my arms protectively around her as she snuggled into my chest and gradually fell asleep.
For the next couple of days after the mission Draco and I had to go into the ministry to report to our superiors and to fill in the paperwork that follows every mission. It was tedious but it needed doing. We also had to show up at court to make sure that Lucius wouldn’t be leaving Azkaban. Once everything was done, the ministry agreed to let us keep the rest of our holiday instead of carrying on with work. As the days passed I noticed that Draco had begun acting strangely but when I questioned him about it he would just shrug it off. Despite my better judgement I decided not to push him, to let him tell me in his own time. One night I couldn’t find him anywhere and I began to panic as I knew that there were still some death-eaters out there. Whilst rushing around the manor trying to find him, I ran into Narcissa...literally.
“Oops. Sorry Cissy. Have you seen Draco?”
“That’s alright Hermione. I haven’t seen him in a few hours.”
“Oh. Where could he have gone?” I muttered to myself.
“He did however leave me this to give to you.” She gave me a letter and smiled at me. I looked at her suspiciously as she seemed to be a bit too happy.
“What do you know?”
“I’m not telling you anything Hermione, just read the letter and hurry.” She walked away before I could ask her anything else. I looked at the letter in my hands and tossed it about a little before opening it and reading it.
By now you’ve probably noticed that I’m gone. Don’t worry I’m safe. I know I’ve been acting a little strange recently but I have a good reason, I promise. I’m starting to ramble a bit now so I’ll just get on with why I wrote this letter: meet me in the garden when you get this letter, I have a surprise for you.
Ok so he’s safe and he said ‘surprise’ so it’s nothing bad... what could he possibly surprise me with?
I pocketed the letter and walked quickly to the garden. I was tempted to run but I saw no need to rush as Draco was safe. When I reached the garden I realised that Draco had neglected to tell me where in the garden to meet him.
This place is huge! It could take me forever to find him.
“Draco?” I listened out for any indication that he had heard me. “Draco, where are you?” Suddenly a voice right behind me spoke, making me jump.
“I’m right here.”
“Draco, you scared me!”
“Sorry.” He tried to sound sincere but the fact he was grinning and failing to suppress a chuckle suggested otherwise. I hit him on the arm playfully. “Ok I deserved that. Ready for your surprise?” I nodded.
“What is it?”
“It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you.” I pouted in response and he just laughed. “Come on, we’ve got the whole night ahead of us.” We walked around the garden until we came to a huge water fountain that I hadn’t known existed. The sun had almost set causing the fountain to be lit by small floating orbs of light.
“It’s beautiful.” I whispered.
“I’m glad you like it.”
“How did I not know this was here?”
“It’s well hidden. Come on, it’s around the other side.” On the other side was a romantic dinner for two complete with candles.
“Oh Draco, you didn’t have to.”
“I know; I wanted to. What can I say? I love to spoil you.” We smiled at each other as he helped me into my seat and then took his place at the table. We enjoyed the romantic three course meal and then lay together watching the stars on a blanket that Draco had conjured.
“I’ve something important to say and I want you to let me finish before you say anything.”
“Ok.” Draco stood up and put his hand in his pocket. I sat up and watched him curiously; he looked... nervous. He pulled something out of his pocket but I couldn’t see what. Slowly he turned to face me and then got down on one knee, taking my hand in his. I gasped in surprise and beamed at him which seemed to give him the confidence to speak.
“Hermione, I know we haven’t been together long but as you know I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. Over this past year I’ve realised just how much you mean to me. When I thought that I would never see you again it tore me apart but only one thought ran through my mind: protect Hermione. If you’ll let me, I’ll try to protect you for as long as we both live. I can’t live without you by my side. What I’m trying to say is... Hermione Jean Granger, will you marry me?”
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