The forest was pitch-black. I had to utter a Lumos to find the stone, so I could get rid of it with a Dissendium and a Wingardium Leviosa. Standing in the tunnel, I put it back in it's place, moving as if I was under a trance. I still couldn't believe what had happened in the past few hours. I had wild, harsh sex with Professor Snape as his paid hooker and had been beaten by Sirius, my as of now ex-boyfriend! Well, if that wasn't an eventful night, I didn't know what was. There was also the matter of Rita, who I had once again scared to death after I had told her that what had happened to the Death Eaters was on my account.
I needed a strengthening potion. I was so fed up with the world! I never would’ve thought that a day would come where I would fight against my friends and not my enemies. But one never did stop learning...
Was that a comfort for me? Not likely! I pulled my cap further over my throbbing and swollen face. I didn't know what I was looking like, but I guessed I wasn’t looking pretty, so I huddled myself deeper into my coat. It was twenty minutes to one o'clock and I felt absolutely exhausted. I ran along the secret passage until I reached the stone witch and went behind it. Once I made it into Hogwarts, I quickly scurried to the entrance of the Slytherin common room. I needed Draco, that was the only thing I could think of.
"Snake pit," I whispered breathlessly at the stone wall, and it gave me access. I confidently entered the room, and could see from under my hood that the room was occupied by the higher classes despite the late hour. All in all, nine to ten students were present! Was I mad to face all these snakes? Most likely, but I just didn't care at the moment and Draco had said I should come, though I’m sure he wouldn't have expected me to come so early. On the island by the fireplace Draco's classmates Nott, Pansy, Crabbe, and Goyle were seated, and about five other students were standing around the rest of the room. I think it was three seventh-graders and two from the sixth. Only Draco wasn't there, to my chagrin. Had I ever mentioned how unreasonably lucky I always was? Unbearably so.
"Who are you?" came unfriendly voices from several corners.
"What are you doing here?" someone else said, particularly aggressive.
"Show your face! Strangers aren't allowed here!" another hissed suspiciously. The air had become tense. Some were nervous, some suspicious, others openly hostile. A few of the snakes were already pulling out their wands. I quickly used a nonverbal Protego Horribilis, a long-lasting protection spell that was also helpful against dark-magical attacks. One never knew when it would be required and I was in enemy land here.
I was a few seconds too slow, because I already felt a spell impact. I hadn't said a word so far, standing quietly in the middle of the common room, when I recognized a white-blond head from the corner of my eye. It was Draco, coming into the room with the dark-skinned Zabini in tow.
At that moment a painful stab made me turn around. A Diffindo had hit my thigh and not only cut through the fabric of my coat, but also my skin. This is what happens if one isn't always careful enough. Damn, wasn't my face enough already? The cut stung as it bled freely.
"Oww, Draco.." I exclaimed indignantly, reaching for my bleeding leg. Hadn't I bled enough already? Why always me? Oh yes, I had forgotten... I loved the danger!
"What is going on here?" Draco snapped, impressing with his aristocratic demeanour when he stepped confidently into the room, registering me surrounded by belligerent Slytherins.
"She doesn't want to show us her face!" said a stupid goose in a squeaky voice. I'll show you something else in a second. Goddess, I was in a bad temper! I bared my teeth, only no one saw it from under my hood. I held my thigh and pulled away my bleeding hand. Now I could see something very vicious reflected in the liquid silver the colour of his eyes transformed into when he noticed my injury.
"Who. Was. That?" he hissed coldly. When he was like this, he was really frightening. So economical in his movements... He looked around, his gaze ice cold, and only raised an eyebrow threateningly.
"Higgs!" backstabbed the black-haired Pansy from the couch .
"Terence Higgs, step forward," Draco ordered, his tone cold yet velvety at the same time. That was something that gave you goosebumps all over. A tall, red-haired seventh-grader stepped forward before he flew backwards ungracefully, no doubt a nonverbal charm courtesy of Draco. He hit the stone floor hard and remained there, groaning. Draco walked slowly and elegantly toward him, enjoying the horrified looks of the other snakes. Once he had approached Higgs, he used his right foot and kicked him hard and ruthlessly in the side, where I would say his kidneys were. His shoe slammed brutally into Higgs as he lay hunched over on the ground. He looked down at him scornfully, as if Higgs were garbage. Then Draco turned to face the room at large and smiled a cold, calculating smile, wiping an imaginary strand from his beautiful, cold face.
"So... I want to clarify: whoever is stupid enough to attack my dear guest here also volunteers to be admitted to the hospital wing. Is that clear?"
He sounded so amiable and sweet but it sent shivers down my spine. I was really baffled by his demonstrated power over this group. I could see their frightened faces, as they nodded to him meekly, keeping their heads down. Their whole attitude towards him was absolutely subservient and submissive.
"Now leave. I don't want to see you anymore tonight," he breathed silkily to the group of older students who immediately started to leave. A few of them grabbed the unconscious Higgs, not at all gentle as they began pulling him with them. They had barely left the room when Draco lost his indifferent attitude and hurried towards me with his arms open.
"Mu... darling, you're early. Did something happen?" he exclaimed, unusually anxious. The snakes’ eyes threatened to fall out as they gaped at us, as they hadn't fully left the room yet.
But even I was confused. Darling? Since when did he call me that? Well, it would've been suspicious if he'd call me Mudblood. After all, he always addressed Hermione Granger so deprecatingly, but how I had earned ‘darling’ wasn't quite clear to me. I hadn't the muse to figure that out right now, for I was in too much pain. I couldn't even answer that quickly, as he tugged me to his chest.
"What's going on? Say something."
I couldn't say a word and he didn’t wait for me to. He pulled my robes back curiously and caught sight of the cut from Higgs. The cut was quite deep and still bleeding freely, but I barely felt it. I was startled when, before I could blink, he lifted me up in his arms, as if I weighed nothing and carried me carefully to the couch. He pressed me against his strong chest and I gratefully accepted the solace it gave me. Like hell I would protest.
"Draco, what are you doing...?" Pansy asked shocked, still standing on the stairs. When he didn't answer at once, another spoke.
"Yes, I mean, you never make your hands dirty! Who's that?" Zabini asked, terrifyingly brave.
The surreality of the situation before me made me falter, not the pain, as the latter was not as bad anymore. I looked between Draco, who was nearly too close for comfort, and the students of his class back and forth, confused. He carried me skillfully and didn't pay attention to the questions of the others, arrogant as he was, still slowly walking to the fireplace. Then he attempted to lower me on the couch, waving his hand to scare away Pansy, which proved to be effective as she disappeared with a reluctant squeal. The courage seemed to have left her because she was not worth an answer.
After he had put me down carefully, he exposed the wound again and pointed his wand at it, uttering an Episkey. The wound closed before my eyes while prickling and twinging uncomfortably, a side effect of the healing. But I didn't allow myself to let out any sound and remained silent, and a cleaning spell later the cut had disappeared entirely. Draco was really a powerful wizard. Behind his spells was genuine power, but then he had a white hawthorn wand. As I said before, we were very much alike.
"Thank you Draco!" I breathed hoarsely. Then I immediately reeled from surprise when Pansy dashed back from the dormitories and grabbed Draco’s arm out of the blue.
"Draco, who is that? Who is she? What's going on here?" she asked inquisitively. Apparently, she couldn't curb her curiosity. She was just as bad as Lav and Pav.
"Leave," Draco ordered coldly.
"But... but Draco," she whined unhappily, looking at him pleadingly. It seemed as if she was dying of curiosity.
"I said leave and don't touch me! You know I hate that!" he snarled at her impatiently. She restrained herself after that but didn't leave the room.
"Do you need something, Mu.. darling?"
If we were alone, I would probably be called Mudblood, I thought ironically.
"A whiskey!" I asked gently, ignoring the obnoxious girl, and sat up carefully, which he was observing with eagle eyes.
"Blaise, the drink! Who hurt you?" he demanded from Zabini, who was standing behind the petulant girl as if to prevent a dispute, before speaking to me. Why did Draco always see so damn much?! Was that normal for a Malfoy, I thought sarcastically. I put my hand over my face in despair, a subconscious movement, before letting my hand drop again. I had a little blood on my fingers, nothing severe, but I had forgotten I was in the presence of Dramaqueen Draco.
"What? You're bleeding on your face too, what happened, was it Se..?" he growled angrily, looking wild with his expressive eyes as I quickly reached for his arm.
"No.. no Draco, it was the last meeting! It ran out of control," I whispered quietly, embarrassed. All the noises had stopped, no one in this room even breathed anymore, they all watched us curiously.
"How dare he lay a hand on you!" His tone was heated and angry, but his expression remained impassive. As expected of a Malfoy.
"You didn't sleep with the mutt, did you?" he asked immediately, and I heard our spectators drawing in sharp breaths. Draco wasn't willing to acknowledge it. Such willful ignorance was not easy to obtain - but I forgot, he was a Malfoy.
"What do you take me for? Today I wanted to tell him that it's over and not because you told me to stop sleeping with him! But unfortunately his nose is too good and he smelled meeting number two, which went really well, and freaked out! He started to... to beat me..."
The confession wasn't easy for me, so I gratefully accepted the drink from the hands of a horrified Zabini.
"Are you seriously hurt?" Draco said, his tone worried as he swept his hand over my body in an intimate gesture. His classmates followed the movement with a hawk-like gaze, but he didn't seem to care.
"No, hell, I beat the shit out of him," I said, leaning my head back as began to laugh despite my exhaustion. "Oh man, it was so funny. I could've ended this all so much earlier, but I didn't want to hurt him. He really freaked out today.”
"And then you let him hit you and didn't stop him immediately?" he sounded disbelieving.
"He hits like a girl. He slapped me, I punched him a few times, and when it was enough, I threatened to castrate or kill him," I said icily, giggling again. "You should've seen his face, it was hilarious!"
"You know you're crazy right? You got beaten up and you're laughing” He explained, somewhat bewildered, but then asked urgently: “But now tell me, how badly hurt are you?" I waved it away, casually.
"Oh Draco, all is well, as long as I can still laugh! In the last months I've been beaten more severely nearly every day. Believe me, a lot has to happen to make me scream," I explained resignedly I took another sip of the burning amber-colored liquid, letting it trickle slowly down my throat, and enjoyed the tart and peated flavour on my tongue.
"You horrify and amaze me again and again. And I'm the one to decide how badly you're injured," he determined regally, raising his chin commandingly.
"All of you, immediately go to your dormitories, and if you should have the insolence to break my order, the Cruciatus is an appropriate punishment for sure. Take care of the other Slytherins, I don't want to see them down here," he ordered. And oh wonder, or maybe not such a great wonder, they obeyed now without any resistance and slunked off like whipped dogs. They left me and Draco on the couch in front of the cozy fireplace.
"Draco, why do they all listen to you, even the older ones?" I asked uncomprehendingly.
"Well, why not? We Malfoys are powerful, really powerful, have always been and very influential and rich, immeasurably rich, too! And now, since the Dark Lord is back, Father is again the right hand of the Dark Lord and Uncle Severus is the left, so we are the first league!" he explained their power emotionlessly and surprisingly openly, which left me with my mouth open because I hadn't been aware of it.
"Take off your coat," he demanded, his lips pressed together firmly. Because of his stubborn expression, I obediently did what he wanted. I had really no more strength to argue with a pissed off Malfoy. But I quickly directed my wand to the room and spoke a protective spell. And so I opened the clasp, let it slip off my shoulders and pulled of my hood, while I was able to experience how he breathed in air, hissing.
"This fucking mutt, the cruciatus is still too nice for him. Who'd beat a woman?" he yelled, mad as hell and almost appalled when he saw my battered face, which he held incredibly tender in his hands.
"Hermione, you look horrible!" He drew his crushing résumé. Haha.. where is a calendar when one needs it. He had called me by my first name. I had to look really terrible when he deigned to use it.
"That bad? I don't really feel much pain," I whispered to him uncertainly.
"Yes, that bad! You have a cracked lip, a cut on the right cheek, and a bruised eye. The blood in your face is dry and your dress looks... torn to shreds," he counted down with suppressed rage in his trembling voice. "If you couldn't fight back like you can, what else might he have done to you?" he hissed angrily, his eyes flashing aggressively. Then suddenly he held his wand towards my face and began to heal, which he did very well. It was taxing work even for him and his forehead shone with sweat, but he was very good at it. A little cleaning spell later, he held a mirror to my face, and I took it, smiling gratefully, and looked into my swollen, quite colorful face. Mh-hm. I breathed in with a sigh. He had really confused me with a punch bag. Resignedly I had reached into the pocket of my robes and fished out three potions, when an elegant, pale hand quickly closed itself around the potions and took them off me.
"What kind of potions are these?" He looked at the vials with interest.
"An anti-pain; a healing; and an anti-swell-potion," I informed him.
"You're well equipped. Here, drink," he said, and I got already poured the evil-tasting stuff inside me, could feel how they did their work and began to take effect from the inside.
"Well, if you get injured as often as I do, you will quickly get used to it, otherwise it can hurt quite horribly," I revealed a wisdom of my own.
"What do we do with him? He can't get away with it like that," Draco said vengefully, slamming his fist into his hand, making a loud slapping noise. Wow, he was really angry, because Sirius had done that to me.
"Draco, I've hit back and believe me, compared to him I look good, I've got a hard punch," I played it down resolutely as I couldn't do anything about my guilty conscience towards Sirius. Draco rubbed his chin in thought and suddenly laughed loudly and deeply.
"I know, I can remember and at that time you weren't trained, or were you?" He gave me a devious smile. I knew what he was remembering and laughed as well like he did, when I thought about our third year when I had hit him with a punch to the jaw.
"Yeah, you're right, but that wasn't a hard punch, you wimp!" I said embarrassed, which only made him laugh louder. He now mockingly raised his glass and we chinked glasses. At this late hour, he only wore black, perfectly-fitting cloth pants and a green shirt, which he had pulled out of his pants casually. Now he leaned back in the couch relaxed and looked at me almost tenderly, not to say affectionately, something that confused me, because I just found nothing in me that deserved this.
"Well, but if he should cross my path, I'll give him my 'regards' and you won't stop me! Nobody raises his hand against... against anyone... against you," and as he said it, goose bumps formed on my skin, as I was absolutely sure that he wouldn't let it rest. His look so determined, so unyielding, so dark and serious, I worried about Sirius. I believed Draco wouldn't listen to my request and forget it, but what should I do now? At first nothing, he seemed to be too angry in this respect.
"What did you really want to say? What am I for you?" I continued to ask and began a new topic which was on my mind, as he had just stammered in his explanation.
"That doesn't matter now. Are you really feeling okay again? How will you get the bruises out of your face, you'll begin to shimmer in all colors until classes tomorrow. Even magic can't change that," he said, worried, avoiding my question.
"You're right, but you haven't seen my resourcefulness yet," I gave him a very mischievous and penetrating look.
"Tell me?" he showed himself very curious and leaned closer to me.
"I've mixed dittany with a drop of unicorn blood, if you put it on, everything will disappear, even scars, for at least five hours, if not longer! This is still the trial period, though," I told him conspiratorially.
"Where did you get the idea from, that's awesome," it came impressed from him and I squirmed around under the admiring glances he gave me.
"Thank you for the compliment, I don't know, that's how my brain works, it was just there out of the blue," I stopped his enthusiasm.
"You're good, but I just can't calm down right now. What else would the madman have done to you?" he asked anxiously and ran his hand over his eyes.
"Where are your thoughts going? You mean, he might have raped me?" I shrugged. "No clue, but I wasn't afraid, because I never felt really threatened at any time! If you understand. I think he just wanted to beat me," it came very sparingly from me, and I surprised myself of how calmly I took all of this.
"You have no idea how bad that would've been for you," it came quietly from him and seemed very moved.
"But Draco, don't think about it so negatively. How do you want to know that.. oh my goddess?" I exclaimed understandingly, while I slammed my hand in front of my mouth, that wasn't true, was it? No, that couldn't be true, that would be too terrible, for him! He had lowered his head and looked keenly interested at his hands, so completely unmalfoylike.
"Unfortunately," he confessed, whispering.
"Oh Draco, was it very bad... for you?" I showed myself very worried and carefully put my hand around his arm.
"Well, not really for me, but the poor women", he said softly, looking away ashamed, his bright-blonde fringe covered his eyes.
"How... can you tell me?" I asked him confidentially, stroking his back gently.
"The revels! Lucius, Severus and I, we don't like them! But to celebrate the return of the Dark Lord, the Death Eaters have captured some pretty Muggle girls... they have to serve at the revels, for the amusement of the crowd, and we three had to do them too! The two were able to cop out after doing it once, but I, as the youngest of the crowd, had to prove myself and was 'allowed' to rape a second girl..." he breathed, his voice full of horror, biting his perfect lips until I stopped him from harming them, put my fingers on his lips, and gently stroked them.
"Don't! What happens to the girls after that?" I inquired softly.
"What do you think? They'll be brought back to their prison, it's alright there. They're cared for there! What do you think, he orders his people to get some fresh meat every time? They're really pretty, appealing girls, so you can't find them so easily," he said coldly, suddenly very uninvolved.
"And how was it for you?" My voice sounded worried.
"That's the same if I'd ask you how it was for you to kill Bole," he spat out harshly.
"Sorry, didn't want to offend you," I lifted my hands apologetically and defensively.
"No, it's alright, I.. I find it disgusting. I don't have to rape a woman if I want one! If, then she will come to my bed voluntarily," he said quietly and calmly again. "Their eyes, the look in their eyes, it's the worst, and because of my high rank I have the honor of being the first, they aren't already broken then.. it haunts me, but just like you, I have learned to live with what I do and what I have to do!" he breathed out with a groan, then shrugged. I put my head exhausted in his lap and he started playing with my hair and stroking my head.
"We've got a shit life, right?" I asked him, disillusioned, in a melancholic voice.
"Well, it could be worse, but you're right, it's far from perfect.." he agreed almost sadly.
"I always say, we're too young for this shit," I said, discouraged. "You have to rape and watch others do the same, and I murder and whore around the world. We're such an awesome pair!" I said resignedly and with malicious mockery, that didn't sound nice at all. Draco began to laugh.
"Are you always so optimistic?" he chuckled slightly.
"Arrgh, I just think I'm having a personal low, sorry! That much alcohol probably makes me depressed," and slapped my hands over my face.
"How much did you have and how did the rest of the meetings go?" he wanted to know now.
"The one with Rita went great, the article will be in the Prophet tomorrow. I'm curious as to what you'll say," I grinned up to him, my head still in his lap.
"How did she react?" he asked.
"In the end she was scared to death of me. Can you imagine a Rita leaving with wobbly knees? It was hilarious," I now giggled spitefully.
"I'm glad your depravity amuses you that much," he chuckled no less devilishly and gave me a loving smile while he stroked my hair relentlessly.
"Haha, you must know I hate that beetle," I confessed, venomously.
"Beetle?!” he frowned, but I thought I read in his eyes that he knew more about beetles than he wanted to admit, but we weren't ready yet to tell each other everything.
"We'll talk about it on Saturday, it would take too long now," I explained and he nodded, but I saw how he stored it in his mind, reminding himself not to forget it.
"Good, then tell me about Severus," he demanded, and I wriggled around, trying to avoid answering until he held me by my shoulders.
"What is it?" he stopped me, looking at me insistently.
"Do I have to tell you, isn't it enough if I say the mission was completed successfully?", I wriggled uncomfortably next to him.
"Not all the details, but a little more, yes..." he didn't give in.
"You can be pretty relentless," I whinged, incensed.
"What do you expect, I'm a Malfoy!" he declared snobbishly. I groaned in frustration, one didn’t encounter that much narcissism every day.
"Draco, you're killing me... I just went into the room, he was already there and then he did.." I paused. I licked my dry lips. I had never talked about anything like this and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that. "He.. oh, Draco do I really need to?" I whispered slightly annoyed but also exhausted.
"Yes, tell me!" he remained adamant, showing a unyielding expression and handed me my glass, which I instantly drank in one go.
"He took me from behind, it was fast, we were finished soon and he paid me with this..." I rummaged for the leather pouch and threw it into Draco’s hand with a scornful snort, "... and then he said goodbye until the next time," I let myself fall into his lap again, embarrassed, I didn't need to tell everything too detailed.
"And he really didn't realize you are Hermione..?" he asked incredulously, weighing the pouch in his hand.
"Would I sit here if he did?" I asked cynically.
"No, but it's unbelievable that you're so good at Occlumency. It's hard even for me to keep him out of my head and I've been learning for years," he said openly, showing that I impressed him.
"I've been learning since this summer, apparently I'm a natural," I began to laugh and he joined with me. Man, it felt good to be able to laugh with someone.
"Oh, I remember, I saw your father in the ‘Hangman', with a woman and two other men," I announced, when I remembered today's encounter. He frowned.
"He hates this place! I'm sure it had something to do with the Death Eaters. What time is it? What, already after three o'clock, you must go to bed. Come, I'll bring you and what shall I do with that?" He asked appraisingly, while he smoothly arose. I stood up as well, though much more awkwardly than him, However, he was right, it was already late. I again wrapped myself into my coat, as my dress looked terribly shredded. I could throw it into the garbage.
"That isn't necessary Draco, the way ‘s too far. Thank you for your offer; and keep it, I don't want it", I refused the pouch, which he held out to me again. He only tilted his head questioningly, while he seemed to think. I could see a flash of sudden inspiration in his eyes, and he put the money in his pocket, but the nice thing was that he accepted my decision and didn't force the gold on me.
"No buts, Mudblood, if you can survive this night, I can take you up these few stairs, and I'll show you a Slytherin in-house secret passageway. Do you really think we always run up all these stairs from the dungeons to the astronomy tower, or to Divination?" He winked at me mischievously and slyly. Thus we left the common room together. Draco stopped again after only one corridor in front of a wall carpet that showed a battle scene between magical creatures in the Forbidden Forest, pulling the carpet away from the wall.
"Come," he said invitingly, taking my hand. And so we walked along holding hands, walking up around ten steps and already standing in front of a next wall carpet, which he once again held up gallantly.
"Tada, just like magic, the seventh floor!" he said with heavy irony, and I was really impressed and wondered how the Marauders had missed this path. But perhaps the Slytherins kept their secret passageway close to their hearts just like their wands? There were probably several secret passages in the dungeons the Marauders hadn't discovered as these passages were on Slytherin territory.
"That's handy, thank you Draco! Come on. Should something happen, it's better if you know our accessway," I dragged him with me. At last I stopped with him in front of the sleeping, fat lady. I was about to turn to her when I was pulled to his broad, amazingly strong chest. Why did it still surprise me that he was no longer the little boy he used to be? Perhaps because Harry and Ron were still childish? Or, even if it was hard to believe, our arrangement, or whatever that was, was fairly new, and was still at the beginning. Yes, that were the reasons. He was as grown up as I was. Oh, I enjoyed that! I inhaled this delicious scent of sandalwood, which I could do all the time.
"Thanks for patching me up, that was very nice of you. Sleep well, my Pureblood," I said goodbye.
"For you always, go to sleep now, my Mudblood!" he whispered, and as I was still leaning on his chest, he just lowered his mouth and kissed me, as he always did, since this had begun with us, on my forehead. Oh, it was so beautiful, much nicer than a plain kiss!
I groaned. "I don't want to go in there now, I don't belong there anymore," I whispered desperately, while I buried my face in his chest and refused to let go of him.
"Finally, I thought I was talking to an ice block," he said relieved, and began to stroke my hair soothingly, after my little emotional outburst.
"You know, Mudblood, we will never really belong anywhere, we have already experienced and seen too much and it will get more, but you know that well enough. Though the beauty of it is, that we aren't alone," he whispered in my ear, comforting me.
"You know, it's shocking that you're so close to my heart and that you understand me so well, but it's so nice not to have to explain everything down to the smallest detail. You just understand, thank you, Draco!" it came fervently from me and I leaned back in his arms so that I could see his face, then I rose and kissed him lightly and tenderly on his cheek.
"Anytime. And don't forget Saturday, I want all the details!" he now utter a laugh more relaxed and freely than before. I escaped his embrace playfully and lightly hit him on the shoulder.
"Banana Ice Cream! Don't ask.." I put it off, as I noticed his disbelieving look at this embarrassing password, whereupon he burst into a loud, mocking laughter.
"Are you guys serious?" he asked disdainfully.
"Yes, unfortunately. She always picks it herself!" I made a suffering grimace and pointed to the opening portrait of the fat lady clad in pink, who, luckily, slept deeply. He still shook his head in disbelief. "No one would guess that word... You'd have to be a Gryffindor." I climbed through the round opening and waved him goodbye and he soon blended in with the shadows, became a part of the darkness and disappeared quietly into the night.