Hermione and Remus arrived at Grimmauld Place in the early hours of the morning and yet the house was full of activity. Various witches and wizards were rushing from room to room and in the middle of heated conversations and even though they had arrived right in the middle of it all, no one had noticed them arrive. Hermione was too dizzy from the apparition and swayed, but Remus held on to her tightly. Suddenly someone screamed and rushed over to them both enveloping Hermione in a giant hug. When the bulky woman pulled away she made the connection that it was Mrs Weasley.
“Come now Molly, she’s fine, just needs a look over. Where’s Dumbledore? No doubt he’ll want to see me!” stated Remus to an out of control Mrs Weasley.
“Study Remus. Come now dear, you come with me. EVERYONE GET OUT OF OUR WAY, SHE’S INJURED!” shouted Molly to the curious crowd of onlooking witches and wizards – most of whom Hermione didn’t know. She felt rather humiliated from Mrs Weasley’s fussing but her mind still lingered on Draco. He said he’d come back for her. She had to believe him . . . she had to. She would wait if she had to.
Mrs Weasley walked Hermione into a bottom bedroom and laid her down on the bed. She rushed out of the room for a few moments and then returned muttering to an elderly looking grey wizard.
“. . . Remus says that she’s had her lungs sealed, poor thing.” said a very sorrowful Mrs Weasley.
“Don’t worry Molly, I’ll look her over properly.” said the grey aging wizard and then Molly left the room. “Hope you don’t mind my checking you over?” said the kind old wizard. Hermione shook her head to signal that she didn’t mind. “Just to make this a little easier for you, I’ll put you to sleep for a few moments.”
“I don’t mind.” she croaked. The old man said a simple spell with his wand pointing at her and then it all went black.
“Mum, let us in . . . its Hermione, we have to see her!” came a whinging voice from the other side of the door. Hermione felt groggy and the first but then everything came right and then she felt better than she had in the past few days. She felt happy and energetic. She looked at the old medic for his diagnosis, but once again the sounds from outside the door overtook.
“Please Mrs Weasley, let us in. It’s important!!!” yelled the voice she knew she recognised.
“I’m sorry Harry not until the healer is finished.” said the soft yet forceful voice of Mrs Weasley. The healer motioned for Hermione’s attention.
“You’re fine. I just gave you a potion for healing your body a bit quicker than normal. Best I let those young men in now before the break down the door, huh?” said the old man with a smile.
“Thankyou.” said Hermione to the kind old man who then walked to the door, opened and then was nearly knocked over by Harry and Ron barraging into the room. They rushed straight to her bedside. The old man exited and closed the door again, giving them complete privacy.
Harry enveloped her in a hug and she could feel the pressure of another hug from her other side as Ron squeezed her too. The hug lasted so long and she was happy to feel loved by someone again. Her mind quickly struck back to Draco, but she shook that thought from her head. The two burly men pulled away and surveyed her.
“Hermione, are you ok?” asked a nervous Ron
“Yes, Ron I’m fine. Actually I feel better than ever!” she beamed. “How have you both been, I haven’t seen you in over a year, can you believe it?”
“Hermione, there’s something I’ve got to tell you but-” Harry’s sentence was cut short as Ron hit his arm gently.
“Harry . . . what? What’s wrong?” she asked because she knew now that something was up.
“Hermione, I had another one of my dreams – where I see what Voldemort is doing. It . . .” his sentence trailed off and he looked as though he were trying to come to terms with what was happening.
“Harry, what?” she demanded.
“He wants to . . . to kill you.” Her breath caught in her throat. She wasn’t expecting this.
“Why? Why would he want me?” she asked, fear unmistakeable in her voice.
“I don’t know; something about what he’s seen and that you can ‘change things’. I don’t understand it. I’ve told Dumbledore and he’s working on it with the others.” Harry continued. Hermione was struck by fear. Surprisingly, Ron was the voice of reason and calm.
“There’s nothing we can do so there’s no point worrying too much. Dumbledore is working on it now, he’ll figure something out.” he finished. Hermione was baffled at Ron’s first shown maturity. Where did this come from?
“Ron, when did you get smart?” she asked. It sounded so hurtful, but that wasn’t the point. Ron went red at this comment and began to take a real interest in the wardrobe. Harry laughed.
“Ron, is in love.” said Harry simply. Hermione laughed out loud.
“I never said I was in love!!! Just that . . . Sarah . . .” he trailed off, not knowing how to finish his sentence and Harry and Hermione laughed some more. Harry and Ron began to bicker over each others love lives. It made Hermione remember Draco once again and how she longed to see him again. With the contempt of her two best friends bickering away like they were back in Hogwarts again and the man she wanted back in her life again, she fell into a pleasant peaceful sleep.
Hermione woke later in the morning as the first rays of sunlight started to creep through the window. Harry and Ron were gone from her bedside and her blankets were pulled up to her chin. She smiled and got up out of the bed, noticing that she was still dressed in her old musty clothes from yesterday. Her work clothes were totally ruined from the attack and her all morning training for . . .
“Oh no!!!” she yelled. She bolted for the door and rushed out into the kitchen of Grimmauld Place where a very small group of familiar witches and wizards sat. Dumbledore was at the head of the table, nibbling on a piece of bacon. On his left was Remus Lupin and on his right was Allastor Moody. There was also Tonks, Mr Weasley, Elphias Doge and Dung. As soon as she ran through the door, all conversations halted and all attention was directed at her. Remus stood up immediately.
“Hermione, what’s wrong?” he asked, rather alarmed at her strange and startling entrance.
“My first exam is today, I have to leave!” she said and then made to rush out the door.
“Hermione no wait!” he said then rushed out the door after her and caught her in the hallway before she had run out the front to apparate. “I’m sure Dumbledore can organise for you to take it at a safer time.”
“You don’t understand! I’ve been training for this day for the past three months; I’m not going to give it up that easily!”
“Hermione, we won’t allow it. It’s not safe at the moment. You’ll just have to stay here.” said Remus with a final note.
“You can’t tell me what to do Remus! You think you can but you can’t!!! You tried to separate me and Draco and now you think you can order me around?! I’m not a mindless child anymore – I run my own life!” she screamed at him, and then there was complete silence. The silence was broken by a very groggy looking Ron at the top of the staircase.
“Separate you and Draco . . . what?!” he seemed very confused but then realisation came over his face. “Hermione . . . you’re not . . . ?” What could she say to that? She was seeing the one man he had always hated – how could he understand?
“I . . . I have to go.” and she made for the door.
“Hermione . . .”
“Don’t talk to me Remus!” she spat.
“Hermione! Wait, I’m coming!” shouted Ron. Hermione spun around to look at him.
“Ron you can’t come! You’re in your pyjamas!” she said incredulously. He ran down the stairs to the coat rack, chucked on his overcoat and sneakers then turned around to look at her.
“Now I’m ready . . . come on, or you’ll be late – we have to talk!” and he grabbed her hand and led her out the door.
“But . . . I . . .”
“Come on!” and so he dragged her out the door into the early morning sun on the doorstep and then they both dissapparated.
**Later That Night**
Hermione lay exhausted on her couch – her clothes ripped and torn, cuts and bruises all over her body. She was mentally exhausted from her trials and the trial of explaining everything to Ron. Ron was pacing back and forth in front of her – anger and confusion boiling inside him. She felt tired already from her all day trials at the department but now Ron was making her dizzy as well.
“Ron can you please stop pacing – I’m not feeling too good.” she asked. He stopped his pacing and turned to face her where she lye on the couch.
“You’re not feeling too good. I’m feeling . . . I’m . . . I . . .” he gave up and plopped down on her sofa chair with his head in his hands.
“Ron . . .” she started but still couldn’t string together her words.
“Let me get this straight . . . you and Malfoy . . . together? Why? . . . How?” he asked, lifting his head to look at her. His explosion from his initial discovery over and now he wanted answers.
“We were together at the department and it just . . . worked, somehow. Ron I really can’t believe it myself but it just happened and I . . . want to see how it goes.” She sighed and rolled her head back to look at the ceiling feeling as though she were ready to doze off. Her eyes began to close and her mind began to drift into sleep.
“Do you love him?” asked Ron and her eyes shot open – instantly awake.
“What?” she shot up into a sitting position on the couch and stared straight at him, her aches and pains instantly hurting again. “What did you say?”
“Do you love him?” he asked a little more straightforward this time. Hermione was dumbfounded. Of course she didn’t – it was preposterous.
“Of course I . . . I . . .” she couldn’t finish it, she didn’t love him – it was impossible – too soon.
“That answers everything.” he said finally. She was hurt and confused and feeling the pain of it all. She closed her eyes to maybe help collect her thoughts but then it all just faded away.
She really was very tired. She just fell asleep, instantly. He was so confused. He’d given up on his feelings for Hermione a long time ago in Hogwarts when she had made it clear that it wasn’t mutual. Still, how was he supposed to react to this . . . It was Malfoy . . . how was he supposed to react to his best friend seeing his worst enemy? ‘I suppose I’ll have to accept it . . . but-’ his thoughts were suddenly cut short when a small pop sounded in the room.
“Harry!” Ron whispered loudly, just quiet enough not to wake Hermione.
“Ron, I’m sorry it took so long to get here. Why did you leave so quickly? You could have woken me. Remus is acting really strangely and Sarah . . . you’d better go!”
“What about Sarah? Oh damn, that party . . . I better go, I have some explaining to do!” Ron whispered, and started to rush around the room collecting his few things that were scattered. “Hermione . . . she’s just fallen asleep and . . .” Harry nodded.
“Yeah, don’t worry I’ll fix it all. You go!” and with a quick smile and a thankyou, Ron dissaparated. Harry looked at a very battered Hermione laying on the lounge. He very carefully picked her up and walked into her room, placing her on the bed. After a lot of hunting around, he finally found some first aid stuff and began work on her many cuts and bruises, treating them with complete care until she was as good as new. He completed his treatment and then wrapped her up in her blankets, closed her bedroom door and retreated to the couch in the living area to watch some bad re-runs.
“Hermione, wake up . . .” someone was whispering her awake. She opened her eyes to complete darkness. She shot up in bed and tried desperately to get away from the mysterious voice. She had made it to the edge of her bed when two strong hands grabbed her shoulders and held her motionless. “Shhhhh, it’s ok, it’s me, Draco” the voice whispered.
“Draco?” and she brought her hands up to caress his face and around the back of his neck where she moved her hands up into his hair which validated that it was him. He brought his arms around her in the dark and held her close, making her feel safe for the first time in these terrible past days. “Draco . . .” she whispered and tears fell down her cheeks.
“Shhh, its ok . . . I’m here, shhh . . .” he soothed, stroking her hair and comforting her. She pulled away and tried to see him through the dark. Her bedside alarm clock illuminated her room only just enough to see the glint on his hair and the soft glow on his skin. He saw the tears fall down her cheeks. “Please don’t cry . . . don’t cry Hermione . . .” he asked as he wiped the tears away from her cheeks with his thumb.
“Draco . . . I . . . I, its just . . . Ron and . . . Lupin, I . . .” and more tears fell from her eyes as all the confusion from the past few days rushed back. He pulled her close again and continued to stroke her hair.
“Shhh . . . you’re exhausted, you need sleep . . . come on . . . lye down . . .” He lied her down on the bed and then lied down beside her, holding her close. “I’ll be gone when you wake up – can’t let Potter find me here even though Weasley already knows.” She looked into his eyes with confusion in her own.
“How do you . . . ?” she asked but he cut her off.
“Hermione, as long as you’re in danger, I’ll be with you everywhere you go. You’re safe with me, Hermione.” he finished and then moved in and kissed her gently on the lips. She smiled and then snuggled closer to him so that their two hearts were one against the other.
Hermione woke the next morning feeling much better and refreshed, not only because all her cuts and wounds had been treated sometime during the night but mainly because he was here. There was no evidence left now of his presence here during the night except for her memories of his visit and promise.
You’re safe with me, Hermione.
Surprisingly she felt better knowing that he or one of his men would be with her everywhere she went. Shouldn’t she feel as though her privacy were violated? She didn’t. She felt safe and secure again – much like she did when she was in Hogwarts – under Dumbledore’s watchful eye. Only now she felt something more . . . love. It was true what Ron said . . . she did love him. It was so obvious to her now. Her stomach stirred when he was near or fluttered with butterflies at his gentle touch. She’d never been in love before, so this is what she imagined it to be.
Authors Note: Woo hoo! I’m approaching the end now! Yay! Tell me what you think. I still can’t get over the fact that I missed a chapter . . . stupid Stacey!!!
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