H O L Y N A M E S
Disclaimer: Own Harry Potter? Not I.
Summary: Bedlam ensues! After a surprise attack in Hogsmeade, Harry runs away, Ron's comatose, and Hermione is determined to go on an adventure in hot pursuit to find the Death Eaters. A wary Dumbledore hands Draco Malfoy the obligation of protecting her… in return of a future. Starring: the Sacred Moon Tribe, wood nymphs, Voldemort's birthday, "True Love," and magical wounds, things will never be the same again.
A/N: I wrote this in complete disregard of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and so: Dumbledore is still quite alive and well, Draco has not cried, there are no horcruxes, and Ginny is still nothing to Harry. Also, not your ordinary Draco&Hermione fic. So don't say I didn't warn you!
Hero Boy Gone
Fawkes was perched nearby, stoic and unmoving on his stand. The bird's beady opaque eyes were inky black stones in its flame of golden feathers. He was tense and so still that he looked as if he'd been petrified in time, save for the fact that his gaze moved all around the room from one head to another, flickering from brown eyes of agony to silver eyes of seriousness, then to a wrinkled, stern face of a once jovial man to an ashen face of an exhausted Potions professor.
"Miss Granger, it is of utmost importance that I ask you to stay here with the rest of your peers. I know that you are set on finding Mr. Potter, but for your safety and his, you must refrain from taking it to drastic measures – and dangerous soil. Such a thing could only make things worse."
"But, Headmaster, please—" objected Hermione.
Her words disintegrated into thin air, mid-sentence, as Albus Dumbledore gestured for her to stop speaking. His face was grim and grave, the deep-set lines of age on his withering features appearing much more definite and depressed than ever before. Woe lingered on his lips.
"Miss Granger," he said firmly. "I'm afraid you must do what I ask – no questions. Our time is waning."
"But how can I just sit here while Harry's out there all by himself? He hasn't even finished his eight weeks of training yet!" Hermione suddenly exploded, getting to her feet. Her brown eyes were creased with anger, her face aglow with vexation. "He's going to be killed! We have to do something!"
The other occupants in the room: her Head of House, Minerva McGonagall, Draco Malfoy, and Severus Snape, all stared at her with wide eyes, startled at her enraged outburst. Their headmaster's once twinkling and joyful sapphire eyes descended into a stormy blue. His mouth was pressed into a tight, rigid line.
"You have to understand," she said, lowering her voice. Her tone was fierce but shaky. Her hands had balled into fists and were trembling violently at her sides. "I cannot just sit here and act as if everything is normal while my best friend has run away to kill the Dark Lord unprepared, and-and my other best friend, Ron, still in the hospital from the attack during Hogsmeade because he tried to protect Harry with his life… and I, I should have been there, but I wasn't!" she said, the decibels she was giving out multiplying again, her eyes fiery but glazed with hurt and self-blame. Her intense agony made her quiver, infecting her limbs, her bones, her knees. "I've got to do something, Headmaster! I can't let Harry fight him alone!"
"You must," he boomed, making their silent audience flinch in their seats. Hermione wasn't deterred by his threatening tone as she stood still and motionless, glaring at him. "You read the prophecy, Miss Granger. You cannot fight Voldemort with Mr. Potter. He has to fight him alone. And I'm certain Harry wouldn't allow you to, either. Please, calm down. I assure you that we are doing everything in our power to help and locate him in any way that we can. But there are a dozen places he could be headed for—"
"The Death Eaters!" said Hermione, her eyes wild. "He's after the Death Eaters! Surely you must know where they are! Harry's there – I know it!"
His eyes darkened. "Unfortunately, we do not know where the Death Eaters are hiding, and it will be some time before we do."
Hermione felt something inside her collapse and shatter into a million thousand pieces. She felt revolving confusion eat away at her brain, the intense pain inside her chest, the desperation and urgency for action pounding in her ears, in her wrists, in her legs. She needed to do something. Had to. She had not been raised to just wait for things to happen – she'd been raised to make things happen. And if someone was holding back the concept of action, suspending her of the possibility of saving her best friend's life, then she was to break free from those same chains and go off on her own. Even if it meant disobeying the orders of a noble man.
Her eyes burned from the symptoms of oncoming tears. The rapid shrinking of her lungs had now affected her breathing, causing her breaths to surface clipped and ragged. She wanted to cry. She could feel the ache of suppressing the sobs that threatened to wreak havoc on her body, to rattle her bones, to melt away her wits. She felt so frighteningly small, so helpless and restricted.
Never in her life had she felt so infuriated by authority.
"I could never forgive myself if he dies," she whispered shakily, feeling the excruciating burn of her throat and lungs that made her want just to shrivel down into the ground and hold herself to try and convince herself that she was just reliving a very, very bad dream. "I could never forgive myself if he thinks that I'm not fighting."
She saw his dim, serious eyes soften behind the harsh glare of his half-moon spectacles.
"I assure you that no such thought would ever cross Mr. Potter's mind. And," he sighed heavily, Hermione feeling another heavy layer of frost ice the room, "as for your first statement… the same weight lies on our shoulders. On all of us."
Hermione felt a bigger, gaping defeat graze the surface of her tender, purple heart. This was torture. Her knees felt weak. Her muscles had lost their strength and now she felt as if she was as unstable as a nightly pub resident. There was a tart and hot growth in the back of her mouth that made her want to scream at the man sitting before her with such vindictive loudness – loudness that she knew she could never rub away from her thoughts and rage, no matter what she did or how much she tried to tell herself that their headmaster was right.
But he wasn't.
His words meant nothing. Everything meant nothing now. How could he spend this time trying to comfort her and give surety that everything was going to be fine? How could he when the time they needed was depleting faster and faster?
She was too angry to nod. Too angry to look him in the eye without the stars of ire smoldering brightly inside her own. Here she was, asking him just to grant her the permission to look for him on her own – she wasn't asking for any supplies, or even any back up! She wasn't even asking him to step out of the school. She was just asking for a chance to save her best friend, the Hero, and now: the Runaway.
"I apologize for our lack of preparation, Miss Granger," he told her. Regret shook his voice and guilt minimized it into the husky volume of a mouse. "But you must know that we are all in the same boat. The feeling is no stranger to any of us."
Hermione looked down, her tangled mess of curls attempting to hide her crumpled face as she couldn't help but feel the fever of her body start to escalate. Through her toes, through her legs and hips, through her ribs and escalating to her heart, the blood-pumping organ, and now it was working five times as hard, rushing her blood through her veins so fast that she felt lightheaded and blotches of colors danced inside her unfocused and blurry vision. Her limbs pulsed with numbness; her muscles tensed so hard that she could feel it slowly consume her bones.
She felt a soft hand on her shoulder, gently squeezing for reassurance that now ceased to exist. Hermione knew that it was her Head of House, Minerva McGonagall.
"Please do accept my deepest and most sincere apologies… and I know that you want to help Mr. Potter, but please reconsider your actions. Sometimes what we think will help only ends up increasing our loss." He turned his steady gaze to the elderly woman behind her. "Professor, could you please escort Miss Granger back to her quarters?"
"Absolutely, Albus," she nodded as she quietly and fragilely led Hermione out of the room, talking in soothing tones and rubbing her shoulder.
"Severus," he said as the Potions professor met his eyes. "Remus arrived shortly after you were summoned here. He and the other members of the Order are waiting in the hospital wing. Join them, please, be of any assistance if you can, and tell them I will be there momentarily. That is all."
The professor, entirely draped in midnight robes, nodded and stealthily made his way out of his office, leaving his student alone with the headmaster. The door firmly closed behind him.
"As for you, Mr. Malfoy," he said calmly, regarding him in a serious but polite manner. "You are a prefect, are you not?"
"I am," Draco replied, before hesitantly adding, "sir."
Dumbledore nodded, looking at him intently. He had a contemplative expression on his face that made Draco uneasy.
"You are well-acquainted with this castle – do you know where the Gryffindors remain?"
Draco looked at him perplexedly, confused at why he was asking him such a question. However, clever bloke that he was, there was a knot of dread firmly forming in the midst of his stomach. He had the faintest idea of why this question had been brought up, an assumption, but he hoped insistently that he was wrong.
Draco nodded uncertainly, but immediately regretted it as he caught that twinkle in Dumbledore's azure eyes.
"Very well then. I am now going to appoint to you a duty, and for Miss Granger's and all of our sakes, including yours, I will be looking to you to fulfill it. It is important that all of us stick together in these troubling and trying times to prevent anything else from becoming disarray. I will need your full cooperation, Mr. Malfoy."
He swallowed hard, looking straight into his headmaster's dark but ambitious eyes. He felt the bind in his stomach tug forcefully, but he simply tried to ignore it and said nothing.
"I will be needing you to keep an eye on Miss Granger."
Draco opened his mouth to object, but Dumbledore sternly continued, leaving no room for any of Draco's immediate objections.
"I may be absent for a little while to try to get a lead to where the Death Eaters are hiding, as well as to make sure the Ministry does not catch on at the happenings here at Hogwarts to alarm the public. I know that though Miss Granger is a very respectful and wonderful young woman, when an unfortunate occasion such as this occurs, her loyalty to her friends is enough reason for her to step over and breach instructions – even though it may be out of her usual daily routine.
"Now, I am not fully certain that she will try to escape from Hogwarts to find Mr. Potter, but it is likely she will. This is where your help is required. You must, above anything else, keep a close eye on her. And if she does, in fact, venture out, you must accompany her."
The look on Draco's face was one of disbelief, bother and puzzlement. His headmaster's words hadn't added up to him at all.
"Me looking after loony Granger?" he said incredulously, not believing what he had just heard. "Certainly there's someone else out there better suited for the job!" he exclaimed. Him protecting her? He'd wanted to hex her! "Granger and I aren't necessarily fond of each other," (quite the opposite, actually, he thought), "and I know that she would not, under any circumstance, allow me to follow her if she was to pursue her little joke of an adventure."
And neither would he.
Dumbledore shook his head and Draco felt his annoyance start to trickle out across the ivory plains of his face.
"Certainly, Mr. Malfoy, if you merely show to her that your intentions are pure, she would permit you to. Miss Granger could not be so cold."
Draco scowled. He wanted to shout at him, make him understand that there was no way he was going to handle and follow an emotionally imbalanced and psychologically unsteady Hermione Granger. Did he ever care to ponder that there were times when Hermione Granger, Hogwart's Very Annoying Golden Girl, was not so holy or golden at all? Quite the contrary, really. He had been the victim of her vicious rage one too many times and he didn't care to reenact any of those moments at all. She was worse than those hardnosed, bloodthirsty banshees that Lucius had once religiously bred in their dungeons.
She had a quick mouth, biting wit, a poisonous tongue like a lasso whip – they would kill each other, and then whom would that benefit?
In an effort to get himself out of his "obligation" and "debt to their school" (his stint as a Junior Death Eater had gained him a permanent place in the doghouse until the time came to so-called "prove himself") and make Dumbledore see – more specifically – from his shoes, he spoke the blunt, hardcore truth.
"I'm afraid you've got it all wrong," said Draco, a bit of his natural venom flicking from his tongue. "She thinks I'm the one who tipped off the attack in Hogsmeade – which you see, will clearly cause a few problems. And with all due respect, sir, she's a stubborn girl and I don't think—"
"With all due respect, Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore interrupted, "I agree with you on her stubbornness, which is an admirable trait and at times inconvenient, but although it seems that she has already made up her mind about you, it is not too late to change it. It is never too late, Mr. Malfoy. The difficulty is whether you are willing to put in some effort to do so."
Draco began to grit his teeth. He hated it when they spoke in all of their wise age and elderly rubbish of riddles and morals. He glowered very irately at the old man sitting before him, who was unflinching to his physical clues of aggravation.
Draco was clenching and unclenching his fists on his lap in a consistent, routinely manner. His veins bulged out from his forearms, his knuckles white.
"My quarters are much too far to constantly run back and forth to Gryffindor Tower. Why not give the job to a Gryffindor, one in her house? It would be much easier that way." He tried to sound convincing.
Dumbledore shook his head. "I am afraid that cannot be. It has been decided that you are the best candidate for this duty."
Disturbed, Draco raised one of his blond brows. "By who?" he asked, suspicious and curious at who he had to hex from behind and give a serious beat-down to.
"Why, by Professor Snape and myself. Your Head of House speaks highly of you and believes with an impressive amount of confidence that you will be able to carry it out perfectly."
Draco was silent, clamping his jaw together and gnashing his teeth.
So it was Snape who had single-handedly prodded him to his doom.
Dumbledore continued on. His voice was husky and low, his eyes peering expectedly at Draco through his spectacles. "And, might I say, Mr. Malfoy, if you fulfill this task, it will guarantee you a future."
Draco's entire body tensed. He looked up to meet his eyes and felt a chill creep down his spine and then explode into supernova of violent shivers that made him shudder both outwardly and inwardly.
He knew exactly what he meant. A future. Something that he was without if he didn't agree.
A new, profound swell of bitterness rooted inside him, stretching to the very depths of his black and cursed soul.
"What about it, then, Mr. Malfoy?" asked Dumbledore, though Draco already knew that it was not intended to be a question at all. He knew that he could not refuse his orders and he knew that his headmaster knew it just as well.
"If it is required of me, then it is done," Draco said stiffly, trying not to seethe. Even if it's as painful as hell, he scornfully added on inside his head.
He had a terrible feeling that he had just done something that further certified his death, and glared at the floor while he wished that they had sent Granger off to St. Mungo's when they had first had the chance.
Dumbledore smiled. "Very well, then. I am counting on you, Mr. Malfoy. Do make us proud."
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Classes resumed even without Potter and even with the knowledge that the Dark Lord was now closer than ever before.
For Care of Magical Creatures, their group had ventured out by the Forbidden Forest and each of his peers had squished together in tight knit groups, each sporting squared shoulders and anxiety-wreaked eyes that darted from every tree, every branch, and every bush that shook in the breeze.
As the dithering giant, Hagrid the Hogwarts Hazard, stuttered and rambled on and even nervously stumbled out into unrelated topics every now and then, Draco, standing with his posse of scowling and brazen Slytherins, was watching the only bushy head in the crowd. Now that he looked upon it, the sight felt strange to be witnessing. She was alone, isolated. Their peers stood more than a foot away from her, creating a bubble of physical space around her. They hadn't spoken a word to her all morning. She hadn't gone down to breakfast. And Granger, once jovial and spunky and insufferable in every way (just like Gryffindors were specially made), hadn't even moved from her spot. She was motionless and still like a perfect statuette. Her back was straight, her dainty chin angled up, her eyes to the front. And nothing had changed about her for the last hour.
With his gaze steady on her, he only realized how peculiar it was. Looking at her without spotting that unruly head of Potter, and then that trademark ginger fuzz of Weasley. She was always sandwiched in the middle, as if they had wanted to keep her protected from everyone else even though Draco knew that the positioning of the trio was never based on feeling, or protectiveness. Because the trio was just the trio – famed, hated, liked. At the end of the day, they were just three Gryffindors with a knack for doing annoyingly righteous and dangerous deeds and angering Dark people with Dark powers.
But she was alone. It was so apparent that it seemed shocking. There was a gap all around her, like she had some sort of terrible disease that everyone knew about and nobody wanted to contract – like they had set her off into a secluded island. As if she was some sort of leper. Were it indifferent circumstances it would have undoubtedly brought a smirk to Draco's face, but he could not help but look on with a sour taste in his mouth, knowing that things had definitely changed. There were two spots beside her, one for Potter, one for Weasley, as if she was expecting them to drop by any time soon and stand next to her like they always did.
His gray eyes held a knife-like sharpness to them: from the harsh glare, the icy touch of the metal to the razor-sharp edge, his lips pressed into an expression birthed from a glower and a serious look mashed together.
He could see the stiffness of her posture, the way her shoulders were eternally taut and unyielding as if she was bound to a chair. He could sense her anticipation and determination a mile away. It was all around her – her aura was glowing with fire, her eyes were those of a warrior out on the battlefront, and she did not waste time to answer any questions that the excuse of a giant attempted to ask.
Because Draco knew that she had somewhere to go after their last class.
One look at her, and he had known what she was going to do. And that she was going to do it soon. Today. When she thought no one was watching.
Unfortunately for Draco, he was to be the one to break it to her that she had thought wrong.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dumbledore looked up to see someone standing in front of his desk. She seemed taller than usual – her heels gave her height, her pointed hat made her seem older than she really was. Even when, from his view, it seemed to be drooping from worn age. He then made a mental note to purchase her a new one from Madam Malkin's on her birthday. He knew she had a fetish for pointed hats like no one else. It had even been so when she was younger.
Her lips were pursed. She raised her hand silently to seize her hat and lowered her arms, the dense light making her topknot shine. The lines entrenched beside her mouth, scarred on her forehead, the crow's feet alongside her eyes were deeper and darker. Even her face had seemed to dull into a pasty color in the last twenty-four hours. But Albus understood. Ill luck had that effect on people sometimes. It could wither even the youngest, strongest being in the world. He knew so because he'd seen it happen right before his eyes every time a Dark Mark was found floating ominously and menacingly in the dark, star-speckled sky.
No one could age gracefully while Voldemort was still out playing cat and mouse. It was a concreted fact.
"Minerva, my dear old friend," he greeted her. "Are your students not treating you well?"
"My students aren't well. But can you blame them?" she twittered nervously. "How do you think they are going to feel when you announce you are stepping off the school grounds? You've seen them, Albus. They're using the buddy system. They can't go anywhere alone. They're deathly—"
"Afraid," Dumbledore finished off for her, nodding. "I understand, Minerva. I do, more than anything else. But my leave is necessary; I ask you to trust me on this."
"But Albus, do you think it is wise to leave at such a time like this? With Potter missing and you stepping even one foot out of Hogwarts, let alone two—"
"Minerva," said Dumbledore. "It is my duty as headmaster of this school to attend. Attendance is mandatory. If I do not go… they will suspect something. And we do not want to send off a red siren to the Ministry or the media. Merlin knows they're not a quiet lot." He stayed silent. "Besides, I rather think everything will be just fine. Doom is quite overrated."
McGonagall looked disbelieving and incredulous.
"Overrated?" she echoed. "Doom-doom is-is not—" she began to wildly stammer, looking like she couldn't quite digest what he had just said.
"Due to contrary belief, it is," he firmly said to her. "You don't have to believe me, but over time you will. You and I, Minerva – we've seen a lot. More than we could have ever dreamed. The making of a murderer, the making of a hero. We've seen dark days, the darkest days, and days that would make even Argus feel contented to be alive. I know there isn't much hope anymore, but the one thing that helps me on my feet is the idea that I will live to see it end and live to see the happier times begin. Sometimes just trying to believe something everyone holds great doubt for is the push we need to defeat anything. Even doom."
The other professor in the room looked mortified, confused, and as if he had just been talking in another completely different language the whole time.
"Eat something," he advised her. "Skipping meals during these circumstances will devastate you. You're going to need your energy."
Mouth still open, her brows furrowed before she nodded, clasping her lips together again.
"I do hope you consider what I said."
"I will." Her voice was raspy.
"I will be trusting you to keep things orderly when I am away. You are an old friend, Minerva. I hold no worry that you will handle things wonderfully."
And then stiffly, robotically, she turned to leave his room. Her deep emerald robes made a faint noise like a spring waft through velvet as she walked to his door.
"Oh, and Minerva?"
She stopped. She looked over her shoulder. "Yes?"
"If Miss Granger and Mr. Malfoy do not appear at their classes over the next few weeks, excuse their absences. I've entrusted a task to Mr. Malfoy, and Miss Granger… well, let's just say she, too, strongly believes doom is not what will come to be."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Slipping through the back doors, a pair of silver eyes discretely scanned the green and lush area. The Forbidden Forest was looming, the skies were fairly overcast with the exception of a few rays of grateful sunlight flashing through every now and then. But it appeared God seemed to be especially chary with the sunshine today, perhaps to let the current state of their lives reflect upon their surroundings or to try and clue them in that sunshine was indeed going to be rare the next few months.
There was the occasional breeze that still lingered with a trace of their harsh winter that would normally make one shake in one's boots despite the early arrival of a flowery spring, but refreshed Draco, who had always had a liking for coldness and frigid things. He assumed it was a trait he had inherited from both his father and mother – his father a dastardly being with an iceberg as a heart, and his mother a beautiful ice queen whose fingers were intricately toughed with magic, turning everything she touched into perfect crystalline ice that glittered like diamonds and stayed perfectly cold even in the presence of heat. Except she had never touched Draco. Yet somehow he still suffered from the same affects of her icicle-forming fingertips.
He felt his robes billow behind him as a strong wind swept by. It softly rustled and licked his ankles, his sharp eyes looking hard and determinedly across the grounds.
Draco froze in place, catching a dark blur rush by at the corner of his eye. He quickly turned around to see a head of thick curls disappear behind Hagrid's hut. Draco, an air of curiosity and duty about him, walked over to where he had last seen her.
He crept around, silent like a feline positioning to pounce on its prey, watching her as she dropped off a bulky bag of things behind his rutty, shanty excuse of a house.
He was leaning against the wall, sneering.
Hermione looked up and slightly flinched, stopping in her step, before puffing out her chest and tilting up her chin, trying to look valiant and bold. He saw anger darken her brown orbs and her brows moved downwards at him in a threatening manner.
Hermione tightly gripped her wand. "Malfoy," she said. There was a substantial amount of edginess to her voice.
"I wonder what it is you're doing here without Pothead and Weasel, hmm?"
Her spine stiffened. A glimmer of rage glittered in her eyes. "I wonder if you know you're going to get hexed if you don't get out of my way."
"Oh, drop the act, Granger," he scoffed. "You aren't nearly as strong as you make yourself out to be. You're like a puffer fish. You're really sickly and skinny in nature, but when you're threatened you blow up like Crabbe and Goyle on roast beef Fridays."
Suddenly, he found something to be rather pointy stabbing into the flesh of his neck. She had a fierce look on her face. Almost murderous.
Her face was so close to his that the next thing he knew, he was looking straight into her unblinking lioness eyes, her rampant breaths grazing his face.
"Get out of the way," she hissed. "Or you can be certain I'll make you."
"You certainly talk tough for your size, don't you?"
"This is all your doing," she ranted, heated. "You're the one who tipped them off, weren't you? You told them Harry and Ron would be—"
"I'd check your sources if I were you," he retaliated, annoyed by her subjective finger pointing. "Because it just happens to be that they're liars."
Draco then realized that it hurt to talk when the point of her wand was digging right into his throat. He felt his chest burn with annoyance.
"You're the liar," she growled. "Dumbledore thinks you're just a sheep in wolf's clothing, but I happen to know you're just a snake in the grass."
"Don't get all fancy on me, Granger," he snarled. "And, if you haven't cared to notice, you've been wrong before—"
"If Harry's killed and the Dark Lord—"
"Now, I thought you Gryffindors were optimists."
"Shut up!" she roared, deepening her wand into his throat until Draco almost winched. It felt as if she was going to dislodge something if she pushed it in any further. He could already almost feel a bruise forming right where she was stabbing him with the sharp point.
"You get out of my way."
"You're out of luck, Granger," he spat at her. "I know what you're going to do. You Gryffindors just can't ever refuse the chance to be heroes, can you?" he scoffed. "Predictable. Your sickening gallantry is going to get you killed one day."
"And your bigotry is going to get you killed," she snapped. "So just step away before I am no longer able to hold in the urge to violently blast you away."
Just then, instead of hexing him like she had warned, like he expected her to, her eyes darkening like an oncoming and promising squall, she withdrew her wand and instead pushed him very, very hard. So hard that he lost his balance and fell backwards onto the grass. Startled, he blinked up at her for a second, feeling the blades of the lawn beneath him prickling his wrists and fingers, catching one last glimpse at her scowling down at him with her hands on her waist, her wand protruding from her right hand, before she turned on her heel and hurried away.
Draco, quickly gathering up his wits, gathered himself and scrambled up, angrily staring at her retreating back as she left.
"You're leaving tonight," Draco called out to her. "And I'm going to be right here waiting for you, whether you like it or not."
She froze. Then she whirled around, her thick tresses catching the wind and making her seem as if she was a very angry lion ravaged in a melting Safari breeze. "And what makes you think I'm going to let you?"
"Because, if you haven't noticed, Beaver, you need me," he told her, giving her a smug look. "There's a million places the Death Eaters could be hiding out and you'd only be guessing if you were on your own. You'd never find them even if time weren't an issue. You need me. Because at least I have an idea and I know just how their minds work."
She was silent. Her nostrils flared as her eyes shot him the equivalent of death glares. Wisps of her brown curls fluttered about her face, looking ruffled and disoriented. She was tightly gripping her wand – and if Draco looked closely, very closely, he could almost see her trembling against the intricate backdrop of Hogwart's ancient castle.
"You on your own," he continued, "you have a negative surplus chance of survival. But with me…" he smirked. "Well, I can guarantee you it'll up your chances a bit." He then sighed, looking bored. "It's a live Potter or a dead one, Granger," he told her. "Your choice."
In response, she sent him the most furious of looks, looking as if she was to hex him again – but she didn't. Instead she rapidly turned around again, swiftly walking back to the doors with such incensed and fierce momentum, each step shaking her frame, her hair bouncing against her neck and tangling up into another one of Mother Nature's occasional breezes.
And then she raised her hand and showed him a Muggle gesture without turning around, one that he was quite familiar with. One that looked like a peace sign, minus one finger.
Draco glared ahead, watching her strutting figure, her midnight robes sashaying across her hips and shoulders on her fairly petite form, watching as she became smaller and smaller, vague and indistinct, until she disappeared behind the big black doors.
Moments later, after cursing at Dumbledore and his sudden up-surging need to have an un-doomed future, he followed suit, mentally preparing himself for an excursion with the last insufferable Mudblood on earth he would ever want to spend time with, let alone travel with through deserted, sinful places alone and try to help. Even protect.
The thought alone made quivers crawl up his skin.
He shuddered, feeling a rising gust kiss his cheeks.
Even Draco knew he normally would have had to have at least twenty-eight drinks to agree to something as nutty as that. But then he figured that a school obligation and a strict order from their headmaster was a crateful of vodka all on its own.