Within the Smoke
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. Their J.K. Rowling's.
Summary: "Alright then, go. Apparate away and get yourself killed." Hermione fumed. She wouldn't beg for his companionship. But Draco surprised her and remained rooted where he was. He let out a partial laugh that almost sounded cruel to her.
The story begins at a somewhat random moment without much explanation. This is because I was originally going to make this a one shot. After four pages of writing however, I realized it was going to take much longer to tell the story. So, I'll try for a novel. Hopefully I have the patience to finish this one =)
Within the Smoke
Chapter 1: She Wished for a Protector
It was dark by the time Hermione realized she was lost on the battlefield. Smoke from curses interfered with her vision and caused her to stumble blindly over the fallen that littered the ground. This was the end, she knew. This was what the Ministry had prepared for and she had trained for. This was to be the final battle which decided who would dominate. If they lost, the consequences were endless. Hermione was yet to be born when Voldemort first rose. She could never say she fully understood what life would be like under evil. But she had been told numerous stories by the experienced.
The Ministry had prepared the best they could. They felt assured that the battle would be quick, that the casualties would be minimal. Hermione shook her head and felt foolish to have believed it all. The Ministry was wrong; nothing had prepared her for this. She was only able to peer a few feet in front of her, but in that short distance she saw so many dead. None of the victims were marked or bloody. Each had been killed without thought or fuss by a single cruel curse.
Hermione was beginning to feel frightened now. She wandered aimlessly in no particular direction. She was lost and didn't know how to return to her side. Hermione wrapped her arms around herself and shuddered to imagine the result of accidentally stumbling right into a group of Deatheaters. How was she to find her way back?
Something moved behind her. Hermione turned and gasped but saw nothing. A cloak brushed past her and she let out a scream. Hurriedly, she drew her wand and spun around to locate the enemy. It shocked her to see silvery hair shining out of the smoke. But she soon sighed when she realized it was only Malfoy.
True, Malfoy's presence was unappreciated. But Hermione knew where his loyalties lay. It had come as an unexpected shock to all when Malfoy had defied his father's wishes and refused to join the Dark Lord. And although he was now a widely accept member of the Ministry, Hermione never could discard the grudge she had held against him since Hogwarts.
"Malfoy, don't scare me like that!" She shrieked at him
He smirked at her. It was most infuriating. "An inexperienced little witch like you shouldn't wander around alone."
Hermione refused to admit to him she was lost. She couldn't stand the way he was teasing her. "I'm perfectly capable of handling myself Malfoy." Her voice shook slightly. She didn't want him to apparate away and leave her alone and afraid once again. Even his company was better than none. And although she would never admit it, she wasn't entirely sure she could prevail over a Deatheater one on one.
Draco shook his head. "Granger, sometimes you have more pride than what's good for you." He raised his wand to make himself disappear and was caught off guard as she stopped him.
"Wait!" Hermione had grabbed his wand hand and pulled it back down to his side. She tried to cover her action. "It's dangerous to be by yourself on the battlefield. I think it would be safer to cover each other, in case we are attacked by a group." Even to her, the argument sounded pathetic. Hermione expected him to mock her further now, and waited to receive a response. She waited in vain however as Draco just stared and finally raised an eyebrow. Hermione found this to cause her to feel more humiliation than if he spoke aloud.
"Alright then, go. Apparate away and get yourself killed." Hermione fumed. She wouldn't beg for his companionship. But Draco surprised her and remained rooted where he was. He let out a partial laugh that almost sounded cruel to her.
"Really now Granger, if you're frightened of wandering around by yourself all you needed to do was admit it." His sneer was mocking. Hermione wasn't quite sure if she wanted his presence anymore. Perhaps it would be better for her sanity if he vanished.
Draco chuckled quietly. "No worries love, I'm here to keep you safe. The Deatheaters are nothing to me." Somehow, Hermione didn't doubt it. Her only concern was if she chose the less dangerous of the two to accompany her. Malfoy was a mystery and she could never be sure if he was capable of turning on them.
"Well, let's go see whose left." Hermione said quietly. She wished she hadn't spoken the words aloud. It made it seem all the more likely that her friends were dead. She pushed past Malfoy and trudged along, not turning back to see if he was following. She was soon reassured by the sound of his footsteps behind her.
"You know, you're behaving rather coldly toward someone doing you a favor." He remarked offhand. Hermione clenched her jaw and refused to respond. He was acting just as he did at school. He was treating the situation as a game. And it was beginning to frustrate her to the point of screaming.
Something moved within the smoke. Cloth brushed past her and she jumped, falling back. Malfoy caught her with ease and stopped her decent to the ground. He pulled her upright roughly and peered ahead into the darkness.
"Don't move." He commanded. Hermione began some protest but quieted when he yelled at her, his voice urgent. "For once, shut it. Do you want to live to see the end of this or don't you!" Hermione backed down. Instead of arguing she focused her concentration on locating the enemy. Someone was definitely there. She heard a cloak drag on the ground and tensed. She shuddered involuntarily as she heard a low hiss emit from the smoke.
"It's him." Malfoy said tensely. He held his wand ready and slowly turned in circles attempting to find the source of the sound.
Nothing could be seen at first. But a gasp escaped Hermione when she at last saw his eyes, blood red and glowing. She took a step back and bumped into Malfoy. He saw the enemy too at this point. He stepped in front of her, wand at ready.
Voldemort emerged fully from the smoke now. It was obvious he had strengthened much since he was last sighted. There was a cruel grin on his skeletal face. He advanced toward them, laughing almost insanely as he drew closer.
His voice was a hiss when he spoke. "Look what we have here, traitorous fool who thought his father's profession below him. And what's this? A Malfoy protecting a mudblood? You're a disgrace! You don't deserve your name. You deserve death!" He screamed the last part as he drew his wand and yelled a curse.
Hermione came back to life after being frozen from fear. She heard a scream and it took a moment for her to realize it came from her own lips. She jumped forward without thinking and pushed Malfoy from the path of the curse. She landed on top of him on the ground breathing heavily and lost her wand in her haste. Before she could make another move to retrieve it, Malfoy rolled her until he was above and free from her weight. He scrambled up quickly and shouted a curse. Voldemort flew back as it hit him. Without further hesitation, Malfoy grabbed Hermione and pulled her up roughly. He began to run, dragging her behind him.
"What are you doing!" She screamed shrilly. "You should have finished him! Then this would all be over!" Malfoy didn't respond for some moments as he saved his energy to move. When he believed they had retreated a safe distance, he halted abruptly and turned on her.
"What did you think you were doing!? You could have been hit! I was handling the situation!" Malfoy sounded truly furious, it terrified her.
"You would have died! Don't be a fool, you can't do this by yourself." Hermione was near hysterics now. She was on the verge of tears and wasn't certain if she wanted to cry on his shoulder of beat him to death for being such an egotistical idiot.
Malfoy calmed. He spoke tensely through his teeth. "You underestimate me Granger. Why don't you run off and find Potter while I end this war." He was mocking her again. Hermione despised the way he was treating her, as if she was a child. Fool that he was, she didn't intend to let him die in search of glory or whatever it was that he was after.
"Just apparate away to find your glorious protector why don't you?" Malfoy sneered.
Hermione felt a fool then. Her voice became panicky. "I can't, I lost my wand. I dropped it when we fell."
Draco let out a shout in frustration. "You expect to survive this war without being armed? Are you mad!? How could you let that wand fall from your hand?" He had grabbed her by the shoulders. He was shaking her. "That is the only thing between yourself and death here. Do you realize that!?"
Hermione felt like a small child again. It was the same feeling she had whenever she displeased a parent. She was afraid to look up and see the anger in his eyes.
Malfoy sighed. It was useless. He wanted to pity her, so inexperienced and naïve and trapped in this nightmare called war. He himself was new to the situation but had found that he adjusted quite easily.
When at last her gaze rose back to his face, Hermione found his anger diminished and replaced by a calm unfeeling coolness. Just as well, she thought, better he show nothing than continue his scolding. He was so close. His hands still rested on her shoulders but he stood quite still now. Hermione wished he would say something. She wished he would comfort her and tell her it would all soon be over.
Draco shook his head and suppressed his displeasure of the situation. It seemed so easy to remain where they were, sheltered and hidden by the fog and smoke. But he knew his duty. And already he felt a slight shame for when he grabbed her and ran just moments before. But that didn't matter now, for Draco had already convinced himself it was only for her protection that he had taken such an action.
"I'm going to find him now. Stay here, I think you'll be safe enough if you don't make a sound." His voice was commanding but Hermione didn't want to obey. What was left to be done though? She had no wand. She was completely vulnerable and lost in the middle of battle. Hermione considered begging him to remain with her but pride prevailed once again.
Draco turned from her when he got no response. He drew his wand at ready and took a few confident steps forward into the smoke. Hermione stared after him, willing him to retreat back to her side. Her prayers went unanswered however, because Draco soon disappeared into the dark unknown.
This chapter was fairly easy to write and I hope to get going on the next one soon. Hopefully I won't get another bad case of writers' block. I'd love some reviews to tell me how I'm doing so far. All comments and flames are much appreciated. =)