" Ow, ow ow, bloody ow!" screamed Ginny, as Pompfrey set her shoulder and Blaise winced. After wrapping her shoulder and placing a magical sling on her, Pompfrey left Ginny's side to attend to the other girls. Ginny, with the help of Blaise, weakly walked over to Pansy's bedside. Ron sat on her left side, softly running his fingers through her hair as Pompfrey finished wrapping her ankle up and placing it carefully on top on some pillows.
" Now, your going to need to stay off of it for a few days." The medi-witch advised.
Pansy's face lit up, " does that mean, I'm excused from classes for the rest of the week?" she asked hopefully.
" Don't worry Pans, if your unable to limp your skinny butt to class, I'll be sure to bring you your homework." Ginny laughed as Pansy stuck her tongue out at the redhead.
" Is it your goal in life to kill any and all fun Gin?"
Ginny beamed, " anytime there's a hint of a possibility to ruin your fun Pansy, there I'll be," she tilted her head back and laughed.
" Thanks Weasley, love you too!" Pansy mumbled, while she flopped her head back on her pillow, whispering to Ron, who starting blushing immediatly.
Ginny looked over at Harry, who sat beside Luna, who was presently being drowned with potion after potion by Pompfrey.
" How is she Harry?" Ginny asked, rounding up behind him and placing her good hand on his shoulder.
Harry sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. " She's got a mild concussion, though it's hard to tell, her being so, well you know. Anyways, just a few bumps and bruises, but overall, fine."
" Glad to hear it Potter, " Blaise sighed and patted Harry's shoulder in comfort.
Harry looked up at Blaise, tears in his eyes, " any word about Hermione?"
Blaise sighed and hugged Ginny into his chest, when she suddenly broke into sobs. " Nothing yet, just wish I knew what was happening behind that white screen.
Draco sat in between two beds. To his right lay Hermione, her breathing extremly shallow and her skin a pale white. On his other side, lay his father, in the same condition as Hermione, only with less bruising and cuts. Dumbledore was pacing a good ten feet from the foot of their beds, his hands folded behind his back, and a hard look on his face. Every so often, he would stop pacing, causing Draco to look up, and stroke his beard, before sighing and continue to pace. Draco swore the old man was going to wear the floor thin by the time he was done pondering.
All of a sudden, Pompfrey appeared from behind the screen and made her way to Lucius. She waved her wand over his unconcious form a few times, before her eyes went wide in horror, and she rushed to Dumbledore's side. She whispered something in his ear that made him stop pacing.
" Are you absoleutly sure Poppy? There couldn't be room for mistake?" He asked quietly.
The Medi-witch shook her head, " No, Albus, I ran the test four times. Now unless your doubting me, and in the slim chance I am wrong, I will hang up my wand forever and will not practice medicine again as long as I live, however I know for a fact I am right!"
" Then I must hurry. Stay here and tend to the children and Lucius, I must owl his wife at once."
" Please send Minerva, Albus, I'm afraid I'm a bit overrun at the moment." The Medi-witch asked and scooted off to tend to Snape.
Dumbledore merely nodded his head and made his way out of the hospital wing, towards his office.
Draco smoothed his hand over his father's and gave it a light pat, before crawling into bed beside Hermione. She had lost alot of blood and was very weak. He could barely feel her inside him, and it tore him apart. There was no way that fate could be this cruel. He had just found his mate, his beautiful Hermione. Had mated and marked her and had barely begun to live their lives together, there was no way she could be ripped from him that easily. He buried his head in the crook of her neck and breathed in deep. A tear fell from his eyes when he failed to grasp her scent.
" Please, don't leave me love, I can't face this world without you," he cried softly into her cheek.
A rustle was heard from behine the screen and Draco wiped the wetness from his eyes, cleared is throat and sat up straight.
" May I see her?" came a whispered plea.
" Of course Potter."
Harry shuffled in slowly and came to stop beside the bed. He glanced sadly down at Hermione and back up at Draco. He sighed a defeated sigh and plopped himself on the edge of the bed, taking her petite hand in his.
" She's cold, she never liked the cold." Harry said, laughing a bit.
Draco raised a questioning eyebrow at Harry and encouraged him to continue.
" Every winter, she would complain the castle was to drafty, and it was like ripping a band aid from a wound to get her to come outside. The few times she did, she was always bundled up with layers upon layers of clothing, to the point of sweating and still complaining about the cold. In the common room she would blare the heat, and wouldn't allow anyone to turn the fire down. I remember one time, Ron attempted to and she hexed him within an inch of his life." He chuckled fondly at the memory, " to this day, Ron refuses to go anywhere near the fire during the winter, in fear he would lose a limb."
Draco laughed lightly, and stared down at his bright witch.
" She spoke often of working somewhere where there wasn't any winter. Warm all the time. You think she'll get that chance now?" Harry asked, his voice breaking.
" Your not going soft on me now, are you Potter? You fought Dementors and Death Eaters, and defeated the Dark Lord, and you pick this time to give up?" Draco snarled.
" Shove off Malfoy, I'm not made of stone. When one of my best friends is laid up in the hospital wing, I'm allowed to get emotional!" Harry exclaimed, glaring daggers at Draco.
" Awwww, who would have ever guessed that Potter has a soft under belly? Sometimes, your just too adorable for words."
Harry sighed in frustration, " I don't think now is the right time to be joking around Malfoy."
" On the contrary, now's the perfect time. We're alone, with the privacy of the screen. Just the two of us, surrounded by the sick and injured, with the lovely smell of antiseptic to set the mood."
A groan was heard from below the bickering boys and a quiet voice faintly laughed, " romance, thy name is Draco Malfoy!"
" AHHHH," Harry yelped and jumped off the bed, while Draco just looked shocked and immediatly wrapped his arms around Hermione, completely smothering her into the thin mattress.
" Draco....oxygen becoming an issue." Hermione breathed.
Draco pulled away slowly, but still remained wrapped around her.
" Oh, my dear, your awake. Mister Malfoy, I must ask you give me and Ms. Granger some room. She needs attending to." Madame Pompfrey appeared from tending to Snape.
Draco only shook his head and began growling. How dare this medi-witch demand he leave his mate? He crawled over top of Hermione, sheilding her with his body, and turned and glared at the older woman. A deep, booming growl erupted from his throat, causing Pompfrey to take a few steps back.
" Uhhh Blaise, we seem to have a situation!" Harry yelled, his eyes never leaving Draco.
Blaise and Ginny both appeared from behind the screen.
Blaise shook his head and sighed, " of all the bloody times to go all protective Veela, you choose this time Draco?" Blaise took a step forwards, his left arm reaching up to touch Draco's soulders.
Draco's head whipped around, his lip curled back and snarled at Blaise. He swipped for the boys shirt, missing by inches.
" Hey man, what the bloody hell is your problem?" Blaise yelled, his eyes blackening over and slow, soft pants began emerging.
Harry stepped away from Hermione's bed, afraid he was going to bear witness to two fully mature Veela's battle it out in the hospital wing. He had survived the war against Voldemort, and came out relatively unscathed. He'd be damned if his demise was going to be caused by Malfoy and his inability to control his Veela emotions.
Blaise bowed his head and growled at Draco. Draco slipped from the bed and growled at Blaise, his left hand swipping at the boy, catching the front of the boy's shirt, slicing four holes across it.
" ENOUGH!" roared Ginny. She came around infront of Blaise, grabbed the side of his head with her good arm and pulled it forward towards her face. " Blaise, look at me. It's me, Ginny. Calm down."
Blaise chanced a glance at his mate, and instantly his growling stopped. He bowed his head, close to her neck and breathed in deep. He nuzzled her neck for a minute, before snapping his head back up, his eyes clear.
" What happened?" he asked groggily.
Ginny didn't answer, instead she whipped her head around to face Draco. His eyes still black, his fangs glistening and growls sounding from deep in his throat. " That's quite enough Draco, do you hear me?" Ginny took a small step forward.
Draco turned his head from Blaise and focused his gaze upon Ginny. He growled lightly and bared his fangs at her.
" Ginny, I don't think you should be doing that." Harry whispered, trying to reach for her arm to stop her.
" Oh nonsense Harry, he won't hurt me. Draco, calm down." Ginny kneeled down on the floor and placed her good hand on top of her legs, palm facing up. Hermione had read somewhere, that when dealing with angered Veela's, the best case scenerio is to show surrender and hope you walked away with your life.
Draco began sniffing the air and looked down at the kneeling girl. He tilted his head to the side, before slowly kneeling down infront of her and placed his hand on top of hers. He took a few deep calming breaths and looked back up, his cheeks tinting pink with embarrassment.
" What?... Weasley, why are we on the floor holding hands?" Draco asked, standing up straight and bushing off his robes. The floor really was an undignified place for a Malfoy. Suddenly, images of his fight with Blaise came rushing back and Draco cleared his throat.
" Uh, yeah, uh sorry mate. About the whole, you know, thing and..." he trailed off. He really never was one for apologies.
Blaise only raised an eyebrow in shock, " your sorry? This shirt cost me over a hundred galleons, you git, and all you can say is sorry? Your lucky I didn't tear you limb from limb!"
" As if you could!"
" I could and you know it"
" Oh I hardly doubt it....."
" Boys!" Ginny shouted, " This is neither the time, nor the place. The fact remains Hermione needs attention and your standing here arguing strength."
Draco's eyes went wide as he rushed to Hermione's side, she was breathing lightly, having fallen back asleep. " She needs help," Draco whispered.
" Yes, she does!" agreed Ginny, and the medi-witch slowly began walking towards Hermione again, when Draco snapped his head around and growled again at her.
" Madame Pompfrey, I don't think Draco's going to allow you to see to Hermione. With your permission Draco, would you allow me to adminster the potions? You know I would never hurt Hermione."
Draco nodded, and moved away from his mate. He watched closely as Ginny fed Hermione a few different colored potions, and she rested more peacefully. He let out a breath he wasn't aware he was holding. He nodded his thanks, and Ginny walked back to stand beside Blaise.
" Now, all of you who are not in need of medical attention, please leave. My patients need their rest. You may all return tomorrow. Now out, all of you."
Draco sighed and kissed the top of Hermione's head and walked out behind Blaise and Ginny. Harry said his goodbyes to Luna and waited till Ron caught up with the rest. Harry glanced back one last time at Hermione, sleeping soundly on her bed before the doors silently closed behind him.
The Head Dorms didn't seem so full of life anymore. Draco was off somewhere, wallowing in self pity over his mate being in the hospital wing, while Ginny was catching some sleep on the couch. Blaise was sitting, opposite the couch, tumbler of firewhiskey in one hand, his other stroking his chin. He thanked Merlin for his Slytherin ability to sneak forbidden items into school. He wasn't sure he would have gotten through the night without some liquor in his system. He swirled his drink around in his glass and looked back at his mate.
She was so beautiful, so sweet, everything he had ever imagined ever wanting in another, and he had nearly lost her today. All because he hadn't been able to train his senses. He should have known she was in trouble, he should have felt it. Hell, he should have been able to smell that disgusting werewolf a mile away. He sighed, and lowered his head. If only he had been stronger, faster, better, they never would have been in that mess in the first place. A single tear escaped and he allowed it to roll down his cheek. He heard Ginny shift in her sleep and glanced up at her, only to find her sitting up and staring oddly at him.
" Blaise, what's the matter?"
Blaise laughed softly, " nothing love, go back to sleep. You need your rest."
Ginny sighed and sat up straighter. " Now I may not claim to know much in the way of boys, or Veela's for that matter, but I do know, when one tends to shed tears, there's usually a reason for it." Ginny watched as Blaise stood up, placed his tumbler down on the coffe table and sat beside her. She waited until he was comfortable, before grabbing a pillow, placing it in his lap and laying her head in it on her back, able to glance up at him.
" It's nothing really, just today was a huge eye opener for me, that's all!"
Ginny furrowed her brow in confusion. " I don't know what you mean."
" It all of a suddenly just occured to me, that you are not immortal, and at any given moment, if I'm not careful, I could lose you forever. If I had be training my senses, been better, stronger, you never would have been hurt and the others wouldn't be laying in the hospital wing, my Godfather wouldn't be fighting for his life. All of this could have been avoided."
Ginny laughed, while Blaise gave her a disapproving look, " I'm sorry Blaise, but you can't honestly believe that can you? No matter how hard you work at it, something, sooner or later, is gonna seperate us. Weither it be from sickness, a person, or old age. And no matter how hard you try to stop it from happening, I'm going to get hurt. Trip and fall, a spell fired wrong, fall off my broom playing Quidditch. From the day I first drew breath on this planet, it was one less I'll breathe in my life!"
Blaise sighed in defeat. He didn't want to argue with his mate. All he wanted to do was curl up behind her on the couch, wrap his arms around her, and fall asleep in front of a roaring fire, knowing she was safe in his arms. Unfortunatly for him, his mate, it seemed, had other plans in mind. She climbed off the couch and stood in front of him.
" If your really that worried about my health and well-being Blaise, there is something we can do about it."
Blaise snickered, " what, put you under house arrest, wrap you up in bubble-wrap and have you escorted by minimum of four Auror's whenever you have to leave the Manor?"
" Now that's a tad extreme, don't you think?" Ginny exclaimed, eyes wide in mock shock.
" Not for me, but for arguments sake, what are you imposing?"
" Mark me!"
Narcissa walked regally into the Headmaster's office in a swirl of green flames, dusted off her robes, and took a look around the room. The somber faces of Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape, who was sporting a rather nasty bruise, halted her in her steps immediatly.
" What's going on?"
Dumbledore walked from behind his desk and pulled out a chair for Narcissa. " Perhaps you should take a seat Narcissa."
" Thank you Albus, I'd rather stand! Now would someone kindly explain to me what in Merlin's name is going on?"
" Narcissa, it's your husband!"
Narcissa's face went pale as she fell into the chair offered to her, her eyes gleaming with tears.
Hermione shrugged her t-shirt on, silently moaning from the pain in her muscles. She had been cleared for release after downing a few disgusting potions, and with a promise to Pompfrey to take it easy for the next couple of days. The medi-witch had even tried to keep her from classes for the rest of the week.
Hermione chuckled silently to herself, it's like she didn't know who the medi-witch was speaking to. Missing classes would be like a death sentence.
She finished slipping on her shoes and took one last look around to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. She was looking forward to seeing everyone again, they were serving lunch right about now, and as she turned to leave, her eyes caught a glimpse of white hair. She inched her way closer to the bed opposite hers. She came and stood beside the bed and stared down a the pale face of Lucius. Hermione sighed and took a seat on the edge of the bed.
" I never got to properly thank you, for saving my life. If you hadn't have stepped in front of me, I might have died." She sighed and took his hand into hers. " You never should have done that." A tiny trickle of tears escaped the confines of her eyes as she bowed her head and silently cried for the man, barely hanging on to his life because of her. She allowed herself a few more minutes, before she straightened up, wiped the wetness from her cheeks and stood back up. She rubbed her thumb over the back of Lucius' hand and smiled a half smile before making her way out of the hospital wing.
She made her way down to The Great Hall, passing a few students who welcomed the Head Girl back. She smiled politely and thanked them and continued to her destination. She paused for a minute outside the doors and took a deep breath. She pulled heavily on the doors. Instantly the smell of food and the chatter of the students reached her and warmth flooded her heart. She was home, and Merlin did it feel good.
As she began her walk down the rows of tables, the chatter slowly died down. She glanced down the Gryffindor table, and watched as Pansy, Luna and Ginny stopped eating. Ginny pointed her finger towards Hermione and the four boys looked in her direction. Harry and Ron were the first to stand and ran toward her, engulfing her in bear hug. Tears of joy ran down her cheeks as she hugged her boys back. Blaise soon joined in, as Draco stood off to the side, awaiting his turn.
" Potter, if you don't mind, I would like to hug my mate as well before the day ends." Draco laughed, and wrapped his arms around Hermione's waist when Harry stepped out of the way.
" I missed you," he whispered, as he lowered his head and breathed in her scent.
Hermione blushed and whispered back, " I missed you too."
" Alright, enough of this sentimental nonsense. I'm sure Hermione would like to sit down and have something to eat, wouldn't you Granger?" Pansy asked.
Draco sneered at her and helped Hermione to her seat. As soon as she started piling food on her plate, conversation picked back up. The boys began a boring argument about Quidditch, while Luna and Ginny began discussing the latest issue of The Quibbler.
" How you feeling Granger?" Pansy asked, taking a bite from her sandwich.
" You know Pans, I've gotta say, I've felt better. How's your leg?" Hermione laughed lightly.
" It's alright, still hurts, but Madame Pompfrey has me on pain potions. So your alright then?"
" I said yes, Pans, why?"
" So I can do this," Pansy leaned across the table and hit Hermione over the head with her charms book. Hermione yelped and Harry laughed as Draco rubbed the top of his head, a confused look on his face as he turned around and faced the girls.
" What the bloody hell was that for?" Hermione yelled, as she glared at Pansy.
" If you so much as offer a toe as a sacrifice for us again, I will personally see to it you never see graduation. What in Merlin's name were you thinking? You could have been killed, and leaving the rest of us worrying ourselves sick."
" Okay Pansy, I'm sorry. I was only trying to save you three. I wasn't thinking and it won't ever hapen again." Hermione explained, and held her hands up in mock defeat, trying her hardest to hold in her laughter.
" As long as my point got across." Pansy answered and went back to her sandwich.
Hermione shook her head in disbelief and took ahold of Draco's hand under the table and squeezed lightly. He turned around and flashed her a heartbreaking smile that would have most girls swooning and continued talking to Harry. Hermione picked up a muffin and began devouring it. Suddenly the Great Hall doors slammed open and in limped Snape, his cape billowing out around him as he decended down the Gryffindor table. He paused in front of the group and he looked down at them.
" The Headmaster would like to see the eight of you in his office immediatly following lunch. I suggest you don't keep him waiting." And with that, he whisked off out of Great Hall.
Harry stood and motioned for everyone else to follow him. Ron helped Pansy stand as the group made their way out of the Great Hall and towards Dumbledore's office. They stopped in front of the Gargoyle protecting the entrance.
Hermione walked forward, whispered, " Accid Pops," in the Gargoyle's ear and scratched it's chin as it moved aside and allowed the group to stand on the stairs as they accended towards Dumbledore's office. Harry went to knock, but the door opened up by itself. The group trudged in, but Blaise and Draco sprinted past the group and came to kneel at Narcissa's feet.
" Mother, what's wrong? What's happened Professor?" Draco asked, wiping his mother's tears away from her cheeks.
" Please, all will be revealed, but I must ask for everyone to take a seat." Dumbledore suggested, gesturing to the extra chairs as they magically appeared.
Everyone took their seats, however Hermione and Ginny sood on either side of Narcissa, each holding a hand.
" What's happened Professor, why is my mother here?"
" It's about your father, mister Malfoy." McGonagall explained, and at the mention of her husband, Narcissa let out a soft wail and began crying again. Hermione and Ginny leaned over and embraced the woman, soothing her.
" What do you mean? What's wrong with my Godfather? He's being looked after by Madame Pompfrey, isn't he?" Blaise asked, his voice breaking a little.
" Yes he is, however, his condition has been updated, and we seem to have hit a little snag." Dumbledore answered, his brow sloping a bit in frustration.
" What do you mean 'snag' Professor?" Harry asked.
" It would seem, the spell that Bellatrix hit him with, is quite an ancient one. It causes the victim to fall into a deep state of unconsciousness. Similar to what Muggle's call a coma." Hermione gasped, " However, while not much is known of this curse, what we do know is causing somewhat of a problem."
" And that would be?" Harry asked again.
" It would seem, the spell takes a little piece of the victims soul and binds it to the caster. Now I know what your thinking, and no, it's not like making a Horcrux. But the fact remains, that because of the binding, the only way to lift this curse is to have the caster lift it, or by the death of them."
" Merlin!" Ginny exclaimed, but then she gasped, " But sir, Hermione killed Bellatrix. By your meaning, the spell shouldn't be effecting him any longer. How is it still?"
" Yes Ms. Weasley, but all accounts, with Bellatrix's death, the spell should have been lifted, and Lucius on the mend. Yet it seems to still be affecting him. There's only one logical explanation to this whole situation."
" You can't surely mean Albus......" McGonagall began, but Dumbledore stopped her.
" Yes Minerva. It seems Bellatrix took a page from Voldemort's book and appeared to make a Horcrux herself. It appears she was just as afraid of death as Voldemort was. This is the only explanation to why the spell is still taking effect on Lucius. Bellatrix still lives!"
Harry stood up, " so what must we do?"
While Ron walked Pansy to her next class and Harry escorted Luna back to Ravenclaw tower, Ginny, Hermione, Blaise and Draco slauntered towards the Head's tower.
" Destined," Ginny mumbled, and the four walked inside. Draco and Blaise took a seat on the couch, while Hermione sat in one of the armchairs and Ginny perched on the arm.
" I cannot believe this. Draco, I'm so sorry. It should have been me!" Hermione whispered, saddness evident in her voice.
Draco's head snapped up, fury written clearly across his face. " Are you daft?"
" Excuse me?"
" I asked if you were daft, although I should have asked if you were deaf as well. Why would I ever wish for my mate to be where my father is right now?"
" Well, there was no need to get mean about it!" Hermione huffed.
" Forgive me love, but you really do have to be the dumbest smart person I have ever met! Yes, I am upset about my father, and yes I am angry, but it would be a million times worse if it were you."
Hermione's eyes softened again and fresh tears of anger sparkled in her brown orbs. " Yes, but he's in this condition because of me, and I, for one am not going to sit idley by and wait for the solution to fall into our laps."
" Mione, what are you saying?" Ginny asked, worried her friend hadn't fully recovered from being on the receiving end of one too many crucio's.
" What I'm saying Gin, is go round up the girls, Blaise and Draco, the boys. We're going to find that Horcrux and save your father."
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