In Times of Trouble
Summary: In Times of Trouble, magic has a way of working things out. Unfortunately for Hermione, magic has decided that she needs to save the very last person she ever expected. 6th/7th year Dramione Bond
Disclaimer: I am not profiting from this story.
Anything you recognize belongs to the great and mighty JKR.
Beta Love: Thank you to the wonderful DragonsandOtters for volunteering to back beta this story and work on it with me! You should all be very appreciative of her because I get lazy and stop caring about commas and things like making sure my phone doesn't auto correct Snape to Shape (this really happened).
Chapter One: Sectumsempra
Hermione was sure that she had made a mistake on her last Arithmancy essay. It struck her as she was walking down to dinner with Harry and Ron. Ron had thrown his hand over his mouth as if he was going to be sick again, darted down the hall ahead of them and into the bathroom, and it hit her. She stopped walking immediately.
"Oh no," she said, her voice quiet as Harry turned to look at her with confusion.
"He'll be fine," he assured her, obviously thinking that she was worried about Ron, when this was entirely not the truth. Ron was being a bit silly honestly. It was a Quidditch match, not something actually important like her essay, and she was still a bit sore about his treatment of her over the Gryffindor and Slytherin match months ago. Ron had thought Harry had given him the Felix also, but she had been the one to be blamed for thinking that had been why everything had gone right that day.
"No," Hermione corrected him. "It's not that. I've messed up my Arithmancy essay. I just know it." She had. She could see it in her head now. She had gotten the date wrong when mentioning the Chaldeans of Arabia. The whole thing would be a disaster now.
"It's almost time for dinner. Surely it can wait until tomorrow?" Harry asked, as if this was a perfectly acceptable thing for her to do.
She scoffed and shook her head. They would never understand. She would be up all night staring at the ceiling of her bed if she didn't get it straightened out now. "I'll just go see Professor Vector now. I'll catch you at dinner."
Harry looked at her,]\\ incredulous. She knew he thought she was crazy, but that didn't much matter. "Okay. See you there," he said, but she was already turning away from him, her feet carrying her quickly down the hall.
She hoped Professor Vector was in her office. She was already worried about too many things these days and adding a horrible Arithmancy mark to the things she needed to fret about wasn't something she was interested in. Hopefully, the Professor would allow her to change the mistake, or maybe rewrite the essay. She could do that. She would find a way to fit it in, surely. She had lessons, and the extra time she was spending on Potions to keep up with Harry, and the research she was still doing about the Prince, and research about anything that might help Harry defeat Voldemort, but she could rewrite the essay as well. She could fit that in somewhere. Maybe she would just not go to the stupid Quidditch Match. That would give her time to do it.
Hermione reached Professor Vector's office fifteen minutes later, her hair starting to fall out of the tie that had been holding it, and her breath coming in quick unsteady bursts. She had run back to the Gryffindor Tower to grab her bag and then to the Arithmancy classroom. She knocked insistently on the door and waited as she began to rifle through the text in her arms. She knew it was wrong. She just needed to find the right annotation.
"Hermione? Shouldn't you be down to dinner?" Professor Vector asked after she had opened the door.
"Oh, yes, I suppose, it's just that …" Hermione breathed heavily between the words, clutching at her chest as she spoke. She had really winded herself. She should exercise more. Make Ron and Harry take fewer shortcuts to avoid the stairs.
"Are you all right, dear?" The woman touched her fingers to Hermione's elbow as if she was worried her student might collapse. Hermione waved her hand to excuse her appearance and heavy breathing.
"Just ran here. I'm fine. I'm afraid I've made a terrible mistake." She continued to turn pages, but it was getting harder to breathe instead of easier. Small white spots were beginning to dance before her eyes.
"Why don't you come in and sit down?" Professor Vector asked, her hand firmly wrapped around Hermione's forearm now, pulling her in.
Hermione let her lead her into the room, trying to focus her eyes. "I'm really fine," she said and then the spots grew rapidly, taking over her vision, and she was falling.
As Hermione regained consciousness, she heard voices she was not expecting. "What are you going to tell them?" Professor Snape hissed. His voice was low, and she wasn't quite sure that she had even heard him correctly, but she was quite sure that she was not supposed to be listening. She kept her body still and her eyes closed.
"Nothing," Professor Dumbledore replied.
"They deserve to know the truth," Professor Snape insisted, and Hermione wondered who they were talking about. Harry? But, who else? Her and Ron maybe?
"They deserve a world free of Voldemort," Professor Dumbledore replied. That could be anyone really. They all deserved that, but Harry in particular. He didn't deserve to have his life stripped from him, his choices all but stolen. This impossible task given to him. She and Ron didn't deserve it either. They would help him. She already knew it, was planning for it, but it wasn't a choice really. Harry was her brother, and he needed her.
"I don't understand how this changes that," Professor Snape told the Headmaster.
"This would change everything. It would put his entire family in danger." Not Harry then. Unless it was the Dursley's, but she wasn't sure that made any sense. It could be Ron, but why would they be whispering about Ron wherever she was? Probably the Hospital Wing. She seemed to have fainted in Professor Vector's office, and that seemed the logical place to take her.
"You're putting them both in danger if you don't tell them," Snape said, and he sounded more human than Hermione had ever imagined he could sound. It was unnerving to hear him so desperately concerned for anyone, and she began to consider opening her eyes.
"Better to risk a possibility than a certainty." There was a slam of a hand against something, perhaps the wall.
"Do you listen to yourself when you speak?" Professor Snape asked, furious.
"Right now, they need to be protected," Professor Dumbledore told him. He remained calm and soft spoken. "You are protecting him, and I will protect her."
"Protecting him? He will hardly speak to me," Professor Snape hissed.
"This is my final word on the subject, Severus. We will not tell them." There came the quick approach of footsteps.
"What are you two doing?" Madame Pomfrey demanded. "How are these children supposed to rest with you slamming things in my wing?"
"Our apologies Poppy," Dumbledore said. "We'll be going. Let me know when they wake please." They. Someone else was here. Could that be who they were talking about? She would be the her then, and Dumbledore was protecting her somehow? But who was the him? Someone that Snape was protecting who wouldn't speak to him …
No. What could they possibly have to relate the two of them? It couldn't be.
"Yes, I will. Now, good night to you both," the witch said with finality, and the three of them seemed to move toward the door. Hermione waited a full minute before she opened her eyes. The hospital wing was dark, but soft light poured in through the large windows, and her sight adjusted quickly. She looked around the room until she spotted him two beds down from hers, still asleep, or unconscious. It was him. It was Draco Malfoy.
They deserve to know the truth. What truth could they possibly have to learn? Why was he here? Had something happened to him? What had happened to her? She had been winded, but surely she wouldn't have fainted just from walking quickly through the castle. She did it all the time.
"You're awake," Madame Pomfrey said from across the room. Hermione had missed her return. The older witch moved quickly over to Hermione as she drew her wand. "I don't know how you couldn't be with the racket they were making. This is a hospital. How are you feeling?"
Hermione blinked, trying to take stock of her body. She felt inexplicably sore. "Fine. Tired," she croaked.
Madame Pomfrey waved her wand at the pitcher next to the bed, and it began to pour into the glass beside it as she went to work examining Hermione with her wand. "We aren't sure what happened dear. Professor Vector said you seemed to have run to her office and just fainted."
"Yes," Hermione agreed, grabbing the glass in front of her from the air. She sipped at the water, and the cool liquid soothed her sore throat as it traveled down.
"Well, you still need to rest." The witch put her wand away and felt Hermione's forehead with the back of her palm. "I'll check on you in the morning, and you should be able to go tomorrow evening if you're continuing to improve."
"Okay," Hermione responded. Her eyes slipped over to Draco. "What happened?" she asked.
"He, well" — Madame Pomfrey looked over at the other bed — "He'll be here a little while." She waved her hand and handed Hermione a bottle that appeared inside of it. "Drink this. It will help you sleep some more." Hermione wanted to ask for clarification, to know what had happened to Malfoy, but it was clear that she would get none. Instead, she swallowed the liquid under the sharp watch of Madame Pomfrey and laid back against her pillows. She faced away from Malfoy, but she heard Madame Pomfrey move a screen between them right before her eyes fluttered shut once more.
"You did what?" Hermione asked.
"I didn't know!" Harry insisted. He at least had the sense to look ashamed as he told her what he had done to Malfoy the next day. He had cut Malfoy open with one of those stupid Prince spells. He had described the incident as his face grew pale, his eyes downcast.
"I told you there was something wrong with that Prince person," Hermione said, unable to stop herself in her anger. "And I was right, wasn't I?"
"No, I don't think you were," Harry said, and her jaw dropped open.
"Are you serious? How can you still stick up for that book when that spell —"
"Will you stop harping on about the book!" Harry snapped. "The Prince only copied it out. It's not like he was advising anyone to use it! For all we know, he was making a note of something that had been used against him!"
"I don't believe this," Hermione said. "You're actually defending —"
"I'm not defending what I did," Harry said. "You know I wouldn't use a spell like that, not even on Malfoy, but you can't blame the Prince."
"You better not go back and get that book, Harry," she demanded. "It deserves to rot in that room."
"I am going to get it," Harry countered. "Without the Prince, I'd never have won the Felix Felicis. I'd never have saved Ron from poisoning. I'd never have —"
"— got a reputation for Potions brilliance you don't deserve." She knew she was being nasty, but she didn't care. Harry was being ridiculous. He had nearly killed Malfoy, and he was still going to go back and get that stupid book.
"Give it a rest, Hermione!" Ginny said. "By the sound of it, Malfoy was trying to use an Unforgivable. You should be glad Harry had something good up his sleeve."
"Of course I'm glad Harry wasn't cursed!" Hermione said, indignant. "But, you can't call that Sectumsempra spell good, Ginny! Look where it's landed him! And I'd have thought, seeing what this has done to your chances in the match —"
"Oh, don't start acting as though you understand Quidditch," Ginny snapped, "you'll only embarrass yourself." Hermione huffed, turning away from Ginny in her chair to fold her arms over one another as Ron and Harry stared at them, bewildered. She would have thought, of anyone, Ginny would be on her side. She had been against the stupid book in the beginning as well. Hermione was sure that if the other girl didn't still have lingering feelings for Harry, Ginny wouldn't be as quick to dismiss Hermione's misgivings.
"How are you feeling, Hermione?" Ron asked slowly, and she shook her head.
"I'm fine. I just fainted," she told him.
"That's a bit odd though," Harry added, no doubt glad for the change of subject.
"I hadn't eaten, and I ran back to the tower and to Professor Vector's office," Hermione explained, though she herself wasn't sure what had happened and wasn't pleased with this explanation.
"You do that all the time," Ron argued. "You go off to talk to a Professor and run across half the castle to get there. You go days on less food than a mouse when you're in one of your strides. You've never fainted before."
She knew this was true. She had never felt the way she had the day before as she stood in that doorway. The timing of her fall had not escaped her notice. She had fainted at precisely the same time Draco Malfoy was being attacked by her best friend. Now that she had these missing pieces of what had happened to Malfoy from Harry, she was almost certain that the Headmaster and the Potions Professor had been talking about them. What exactly could they have been referring to? They were keeping something from them that tied them together somehow. Hermione hated not knowing things. It was simply unacceptable to be aware that there was something about herself that she did not know.
And to be linked with Malfoy? How did that make any sense at all? She and Malfoy rarely even acknowledged each other these days. It didn't add up.
Professor Dumbledore had claimed that he would protect her, that she needed protection, but if Harry ended up going off to look for horcruxes as she expected, would the Headmaster be going with? That seemed unlikely. She wasn't sure that the Headmaster had ever had any particular interest in her. If she needed protecting, she would prefer to handle it herself. She was quite capable and not in need of being treated like a child.
And Professor Snape had said himself that Malfoy wasn't speaking to him, which was corroborated by what Harry had overheard after Slughorn's Christmas party. Something was going on. Something that had to do with her. Something that had possibly made her faint when Malfoy had been near to dying. It seemed ridiculous and quite impossible, but she was learning that nearly nothing was impossible when it came to magic if you were just willing to work hard enough. You could split your soul or create an elixir to live forever. You could save someone you loved from a killing curse by sacrificing yourself. You could make someone fall in love with you. Was it really so crazy to imagine that something had happened to her at precisely the same moment as Draco Malfoy had been hit with that curse? It was a terrifying prospect really, but one that she knew she needed to research more.
"I'm going to the library," she said suddenly, pushing up from the armchair. She needed to do something. She was obviously serving no purpose here arguing with Harry about a book. She would be much better off in the library looking into what could have caused this.
"Now?" Ron asked.
"Shouldn't you rest?" Harry stared at her, wide eyed.
"I just fainted. I'm not dying," Hermione told them. She grabbed her bag from the floor beside her chair and started toward the portrait hole. "See you all later."
"She's barmy," Ron said quietly behind her, and she chose to ignore him.
A/N: Obviously a large part of the dialogue in the final section was taken directly from HBP and has been adapted for my purposes.
Anyway, welcome to a new fic ! I hope that you enjoyed this first chapter! I wasn't going to write anymore Dramione right now because I'm deep in Reformed, but then this bit me, and I drafted out fourteen chapters last night, and it's happening. Oh well!