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Chapter Nine: Back into the Fire


A couple of hours later, the group of members were all congregated and preparing themselves for the task at hand. Tonight was not about war, not about attacking the Death Eaters. Tonight’s mission’s main goal was simply to get the book and get out of there. They all knew that they would be fighting because, well, that was common sense…they were going straight into the heart of Voldemort’s new lair which would undoubtedly be swarming with his followers and more than likely, Voldemort himself would be there, but honestly, Hermione was wishing and praying with everything she had that Voldemort would not be. She was no where near ready to see him again after what happened the last time.

The group launched into another tactics argument and Hermione zoned herself out of the conversation. She had so much fluttering around in her mind it was making her dizzy. She stood up and excused herself for a moment, walking into the sitting room. She sat herself down in her favorite love seat facing backwards towards the window and took a deep breath.

Her mind spun rapidly around in circles, thoughts mulling themselves into a violent array of images. She thought about the fight that she had with Draco the night before, the dream she had that seemed so real, the mission that she was about to go on, Harry death at the same place she was going to just a few months before, the baby that she was carrying and how uncertain she still felt about it. It was all just too much for her, the normally level-headed, had an answer for everything, girl that she had always been. Suddenly she felt her stomach lurch and felt nauseous. She jumped from her seat and darted towards the bathroom which unfortunately was not only up stairs a bit but the only path was straight through the dining room where the other members were still congregated. Hermione didn’t want to rush through that room in the state she was in but right at the moment she sure didn’t want to get sick in the middle of the sitting room either.

She darted as quickly as possible, hoping that she would make it to the bathroom before she lost it, through the dining room causing the entire table to take notice of her and follow her with their eyes. Most of the members simply thought it was her nerves getting the best of her and went back to their conversation but Draco was immediately worried, as was Ron who also knew of her condition. Viktor also watched her concernedly because she was his friend and that’s what friends did, they worried about each other’s well being. Draco cast a look at Ron who understood and immediately followed his friend up the stairs.

Ron knew that Hermione was pregnant and also that there was some massive tension between her and Draco so he understood why Draco was not rushing after her. He climbed the stairs briskly and stopped at the first landing where the closest bathroom was located. Approaching the door, he heard the unmistakable sound of someone being sick and knocked softly on the door.

“ ‘Mione? You okay?” He asked through the door, trying to keep as quiet as he could so the others downstairs could not overhear.

“Yea, Ron, I’m fine. Just nerves I think.” Hermione’s quivering voice came through the door.

Ron stayed quite for a moment before continuing. “Hermione, it’s alright. You don’t have to lie.” He said.

“I’m not lying Ronald. Wouldn’t you be a little nervous in my position right now?” She said back sternly.

“ ‘Mione, you are lying. But it’s alright, I understand.” He paused, pondering if he should let her know that he knew. “I know.”

There was a deafening silence on the other side of the door as Hermione’s eyes widened.

He couldn’t know….could he? Not unless someone told him…….Hermione thought to herself. I’ll kill Draco!

Ron heard the sink running for a split moment and then suddenly the door opened revealing a shocked looking Hermione. They stood completely still for a moment, staring at each other. Suddenly Hermione surprised Ron by throwing herself into his arms. Ron just wrapped his arms around her in understanding as Hermione started crying on his shoulder.

“Oh Ron. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you!” She said through her sobs. “I’m just so scared about all this. It’s too much for me to handle.”

“It’s alright ‘Mione.” He told her, stroking her hair comfortingly. “Are you sure you should go along with this tonight?”

Draco walked onto the landing at that moment, to come check on Hermione. He wanted Ron to go first and talk to her in hopes that when he came along, she would be calmed down enough to talk to him. He looked down the miniature hallway and saw Hermione and Ron talking animatedly about the mission.

“Yes Ron,” She answered almost angrily, stepping out of the embrace. “I am not backing out. This is my job. People, lots and lots of people, are counting on me and I wont, I cant, let them down.”

Draco stopped at the landing and watched the two friends for a moment, noticing that neither had noticed his presence yet.

“But Hermione, what about the…” Ron started to ask.

“No, Ron. I don’t want to think about that right now. I don’t even know how I feel about it yet. With Draco and I splitting up, it’s just, I don’t know….strange and awkward to know that I have our child growing inside me during all this.” Hermione said, choking back the sobs that were starting again as she thought of Draco.

Draco stayed watching them, a look of complete shock and heartbreak on his features as he heard Hermione say they were ‘splitting up’. He knew that they were having some problems lately but he never would have even fathomed a thought that this really could be the end of their relationship. He felt his heart shattering at her words and it began to enrage him that she could throw everything away over a couple misunderstanding arguments and not only that…but that she didn’t even have the audacity to talk to him about it first!

Ron looked at Hermione in shock at her words as well. He had never really liked Draco nor did he really like the fact that Hermione was with him but he knew that Draco loved her, no matter what happened between them in the past and he had always believed that Hermione loved Draco as well.

“What do you mean ‘splitting up’ ‘Mione? I thought you two were happy together? What happened between the two of you?” Ron asked, voicing his confusion.

Draco jumped in before Hermione could answer her friend. He was completely livid at what he had just heard.

“Yes Granger, please do tell us what happened because I for one am completely lost here.” Draco said, walking over angrily to where Ron and Hermione were standing, Hermione’s eyes wide open in shock at seeing Draco had overheard them.

Hermione looked back and forth between her best friend and her lover. She didn’t really know what to say or why she said that what she did. She didn’t really want things to be over between them but lately it felt like they had been slipping farther and farther away from each other and after her dream last night, she was terribly frightened of what might happen either way. She glanced back at Draco and found him staring directly at her, anger, hurt and confusion etched into his usually gorgeous blue eyes.

Ron watched his friend in confusion. It was more than apparent that Draco did not seem to have any clue about them splitting up as she had just said. Which in itself seemed peculiar because, well, if they were splitting wouldn’t both parties have known so? Apparently whatever was going on through Hermione’s mind, Draco was clueless about it.

“Hermione, may I have a word with you…” Draco said through his clenched teeth, and nodding towards a confused looking Ron, added, “…alone?”

Ron took his cue and quickly began walking away, heading back downstairs while Hermione looked after him, pleading in her mind for him to come back. She wasn’t ready to have this conversation with Draco. She had been avoiding him since he got there and really wasn’t all that sure what she wanted to do.

“Draco…” Hermione began, turning her face away from Draco’s piercing glare.

“No, Hermione. I don’t want to hear it.” Draco told her angrily. “What do you mean we’re splitting up? Just because of a couple stupid arguments?! Do I really mean that little to you to just throw away the last year of our lives?”

“I…I don’t know Draco.” Hermione stuttered, her back still to him. “And they weren’t ‘stupid’ arguments either! They were fights about your trying to control my life!” She turned back to face him.

“That’s rubbish and you know it! I wasn’t trying to control your life Hermione! I was trying to protect my family or did you conveniently forget the part that you are pregnant with MY child!?” Draco yelled at her, not caring anymore if the whole house heard him.

“Malfoy! Keep your bloody voice down will you?! I told you I don’t want anyone to know yet! It’s bad enough you told Ron of all people but if the rest of them find out they’ll never let me do what needs to be done.” Hermione said in a harsh whisper, her body trembling in anger.

“No, I will not! You shouldn’t be going on this bloody mission anyway Hermione and you bloody well know it! Its dangerous and in your condition you should want to protect yourself but obviously after your previous comments I can safely assume that it means absolutely nothing to you!” Draco yelled back once again, defying her request to keep it down.

“You have no clue what you are talking about as always, Malfoy!” Hermione yelled back, defying her own request. “For your information it happens to mean everything to me! But whether I go or not tonight, the fact of the matter is that he will still be hunting for me and you know it as well as I do that Voldemort always gets what he wants and he wont stop until he has me!”

“And tell me what in the bloody hell does that have to do with us?!” Draco replied, lowering his voice but keeping the tone of anger in it. “I know about what he’ll do and it hasn’t stopped you from being with me before so what’s the difference now, Hermione? And please, gods help me, don’t give me some bullshit about my being overprotective and trying to control your life because you and I both know that it’s not true!”

Hermione opened her mouth to retort but no sound came out. She stared at him, deep into his eyes that were usually so full of love but were filled with hurt and anguish now. While she stared at him, she started thinking about his question and she found that she really didn’t have an answer.

Maybe I’m just scared. She thought to herself. Scared of being a mother, scared of what will happen if Voldemort finds out I’m pregnant or worse yet what happens if Voldemort gets to me while I’m pregnant and does something that causes harm to come to my baby.

“I’m scared…” She whispered, lowering her head and breaking her gaze. Draco looked at her questionably but then his expression changed to understanding as he watched her façade break.

Draco took the opportunity to step forward to meet her. He wrapped his arms protectively around her shoulders, pressing her closer to him and leaning over to rest his head on hers. He stroked her hair comfortingly and whispered his understanding.

“Baby, it’s alright to be scared. I’m sorry if I seemed overprotective and controlling but I’m scared too.” Draco murmured to her. “I’m terrified of what could happen to you if I’m not there to protect you and our daughter.”

He tilted her chin up to look into her eyes. He found them filled with tears and fear. Draco stroked her tearstained cheek lovingly.

“Please, Mia.” He said gently, piercing her honey eyes with his own. “Please don’t leave me. Let me protect you, let me take care of you. I would die if anything ever happened to you and you know I would give my life in a heartbeat to keep you safe.”

Hermione searched his ice blue eyes with her own and found that they were once again filled with love and understanding. She reached her hand up slowly and caressed his cheek which she found was also tearstained as well. Not breaking her gaze she softly whispered to him.

“I’m sorry I doubted you, Draco. You’re right, I do know that you would do anything for me and that’s what scares me. I’m so terrified that something will happen to you when Voldemort tries to get to me. Just promise me something, please?” Hermione asked timidly, her eyes never leaving his.

“Anything, Mia.” He replied without hesitation.

“Promise me that you’ll always be here. That’ll you always be there to help me and protect me, no matter what happens?” She said quietly.

Draco took the moment to lean down and press a tender kiss on her lips. Hermione melted into his arms as his lips met her own in an unspoken promise. She knew at that moment that she had known his answer all along--he would always be there, no matter what. Hermione ran her hands up and entertwined them behind his head, pulling him closer to her and deepening the kiss. After what felt like an eternity, the two broke apart and Hermione allowed a small smile to graze her lips.

“Well, what do you say we get this over with?” Hermione asked, still smiling, no longer effected by her fear. As long as Draco was always waiting for her with his arms wide open, she knew she’d never be afraid again.

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Thirty minutes later, the members gathered outside Grimmauld Place under a huge oak tree that sat in the backyard. Since the house itself held massive anti-Apparating spells, the group had to go outside to apparate. Holding onto Hermione’s hand tightly, he glanced down at her and gave her a supportive smile and then the group apparated away.

They landed in front of Malfoy Manor, the sight glaring back at Hermione like it had so many times before in her nightmares. This was definitely the last place in the entire world she ever wanted to be again and the one place she knew she had to return to. Before the group set off for the concealed dungeon entrance that Draco had informed them about before leaving, Hermione took a deep breath to try and calm her nerves once again. The other members began to make their way towards the hidden entrance but Hermione stood almost frozen in place as she stared up at the unwelcoming look of the Manor. She felt her legs grow weak and her heart felt as if it would beat straight out of her chest. Just as she felt like she was about to collapse, she felt a tight squeeze on her hand and looked up to see Draco staring down at her, a reassuring smile on his lips even though his own fear was showing in his eyes. She squeezed his hand back and, tightening her grip on her wand, they two made their way along with the others back into the fires of hell.

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