With You

Chapter 9

I'm too weak to do anything like that. What makes you think my blood made the difference? Had he really fucking said that? There they were, wandless and who knew how far underground by now, and he was admitting weakness. If his father could only see him now.

Draco walked with Hermione in silence for the longest time before finally asking her, "What are you going to tell them about the spell if it did work? Weasley and Potter? Assuming we make it that bloody far."

She seemed to consider this for a moment, staring ahead at the dark corridor with that annoyingly thoughtful look on her face. He could see it in the way she stared at the shadows, eyes darting to any slight movement, that while she was on edge she was still very much considering his words carefully before answering. "I'm not going to," Hermione finally commented. There was a finality to her tone, but Draco had never been one to follow spoken orders let alone unspoken commands.

"You're not going to tell them?" he asked, scoffing in disbelief. "Gr-Hermione, you realize that they'll kill us, right? They won't hesitate to destroy me, and if they don't know it'll destroy you then-"

She stopped walking and turned to look at him, reaching up to attempt to brush some drying hair away from her tear-filled eyes as she looked at him. But the hair had dried against her forehead, and eventually she simply gave up on it and let her hand fall at her side. "I know," Hermione assured Draco quietly. "But at this point, do you really believe there's any other possible outcome?"

He watched her, looking into her eyes, and then-very carefully as it was a completely unusual move for him-he raised one of his slender hands and brushed the hair aside that she hadn't been able to get. The connection of his fingertips to the cold skin of her face sent an almost electrical jolt through his arm, but Draco ignored it and kept his hand there, fingertips resting against the side of her face. He wanted to put his entire hand against her skin, but he was afraid.

Afraid of what it might mean.

But now, studying her eyes, he realized something that made him even more fearful. "You want to die," he whispered.

"Don't be silly," Hermione insisted, moving her face away from his touch. His arm fell to his side, and Draco continued to look into her eyes in a way that made her both uncomfortable and hopeful.

She was trying to hide it, but he saw it. It was very much there. It was there and it startled him that she-Hermione bloody Granger, the best witch of their age who defied all prejudices with her ability to become so strong despite her lacking heritage-wanted death, nay truly longed for it. She was supposed to be the epitome of strength. Even before this, before their fall and uneasy friendship-or whatever it was-Draco had always seen her as the strongest of the lot of them.

And yet here she was, hoping for an end.

"Hermione-"

"Can we just not do this?" she asked, laughing as if it weren't a big deal. There was a hollowness to her laughter now though, a hesitance to show how she truly felt. And Draco was no stranger to the art of denial.

"Sure," he replied as he started walking again, assuming she would follow.

She did. In silence, no less, eyes ever watchful, hand at her side trying to grasp the phantom wand she no longer had out of habit. "We should be directly beneath the Slytherin common rooms by now," she commented eventually, staring up at the broken ceiling.

Draco looked around and realized she was right. He recognized this area a bit-not that he'd been here before, but the architecture (which differentiated between house common rooms as much as their founders) gave itself away as Slytherin. There was a coldness to the stone walls around them, an unwelcoming indifference. Draco had often wondered if all of the common rooms were like this, gave off this air, but the more he thought about it the more he realized this probably wasn't the case. It had been home to him for years now, but that was simply because his family's mansion wasn't much different.

"We need a plan," he commented, once more pausing in his walking to take a seat on a nearby fallen pillar. He was tired, not just physically but mentally, and honestly he wanted nothing more than to lie down on his side and sleep right there. But they really did need a plan, and the way Hermione was looking at him now showed she wasn't quite following his train of thought.

"We can't just prance out into the school corridors and pretend nothing happened," Draco explained. "If the spell worked-"

"It might not have."

"-it'll mean we're connected now," he reminded her, ignoring her argument. "So we need something to tell them, no matter which side we run into first."

Hermione slumped down to take a seat beside him, favoring her injured arm now. It was aching, probably beginning to become infected, and there was nothing they could do about it down here.

"First things first, we find the hospital wing," she commented quietly. "I need to put this in a sling," she commented, pointing to her arm, "and you could use some stitches on that." She motioned to the cut on his forehead.

"Some what?" he asked.

"Stitches," Hermione replied, glancing at him. And then she realized that the wizarding world had never had use for stitches. They could fix most everything with a potion or magic. "It means we're going to have to sew the cut closed if we can't find something else that'll help," she explained.

Draco thought about that for a moment, then reached up to brush his fingers against the cut gently. It had long since scabbed over, but the touch sent a jolt of pain through his face.

"It's going to scar," he realized, and his tone was casual despite what he was saying. Of all the wounds Lucius had ever inflicted, none had scarred. Magic was useful that way, when you wanted to hide your abusive habits from the rest of the wizarding world so that no one questioned how you ran things at home. The irony of the nickname 'Scarhead' becoming fitting for him as well did not escape Draco, and he frowned at the thought of it.

"If we run into the Order, I'll simply explain that you're a prisoner, and you'll be treated well," Hermione announced, unaware of his worries. "We've taken a few prisoners already," she continued, "and while the prisoners themselves haven't been to pleasant to us, we've treated them decently. Worst case scenario you're locked up for the rest of your life."

Draco considered that and decided that it couldn't be any worse than staying at Malfoy Manor over the summers. His expression darkened considerably, however, when he realized that it was his turn to tell her what would happen if they ran into Death Eaters first.

"Voldemort isn't as kind to his prisoners," Draco said, knowing that he wasn't telling her anything she didn't already know, but needing to voice it anyway so that she understood. "He lets us…he lets them torture and toy with anyone taken prisoner. Most he'll even let them kill, but you…next to Potter, you're his most desired victim." Draco had yet to realize he was vocally setting himself apart from the other Death Eaters, but Hermione caught on to it and decided it best not to mention.

Instead, she nodded, sighing quietly as she looked at him and waited for him to continue. It bothered Draco that she didn't seem surprised to learn any of this, because she had no idea what was in store for her if the Death Eaters found them. No bleeding idea at all.

"It isn't just wounding violence that you have to worry about either," he added, glancing at her. For a moment Hermione looked confused, and then she followed his gaze to her neckline where her dirtied and torn shirt hung low, revealing cleavage that had only recently developed over the last couple of years. Draco had to wonder if she realized how beautifully her chest moved as she breathed.

"You mean they'll-" Hermione couldn't even finish that thought. She knew Death Eaters were cruel, but she'd assumed they would hate a 'Mudblood' too much to ever even consider rape.

"Our best bet if the Death Eaters find us first is to kill each other," he told her.

"You can't be serious," she spat, glaring at him in disgust. "I won't give in that easily!"

"It's not giving in," he assured her quickly, his blue eyes locking with her gaze. "If you let them take you alive, we'll both be begging for death within moments. I'm not exaggerating here, Hermione. They will do things to you that you haven't even considered, things no human being should ever even think to do let alone to another living person, and they will keep you alive as long as they can to prolong the agony."

She became quiet, a thoughtful look on her face as she mentally went over what he'd told her. "What will they do to you for breaking your connection with Voldemort?" she asked, glancing down at her cut hand. She realized suddenly that the Death Eaters were all probably informed by now that Draco had tainted his blood to keep Voldemort out. That made him an enemy to them, possibly even higher on the list than Harry.

When she looked up at him, Draco was smiling the sad smile of a man who had accepted his fate.

"It's best we find your friends first," he told her. "At least they'll kill us quickly."