A/N: Just a note: I wanted to apologize for not updating for a very long while. First off, I honestly didn't know how to get Hermione and Draco out of their situation. And then my adapter/charger thing for my laptop had to be replaced and that took almost four weeks! So, there were my problems that I had to face, but now that summer's going on, I promise to be more on top of things, OK?
"There has to be a spell," Hermione whispered to herself. She held out her glowing wand in front of her, staring at the tip, like the spell was going to jump from it at any moment to rescue her. But it remained glowing white, like the shaft of light against Draco's hair.
He sat in front of her, rocking back and forth. Hermione stared him, slightly irritated.
"Could anyone be more useless?" She muttered, hoping he could feel her gaze.
Draco raised his chin, looking at her. His eyes were buried under a scowl. "What was that, Granger? Care to get yourself eaten?" He lifted his wand and pointed it at her. "I can be as loud as I want."
Hermione shook her head and glared at him. "Of course you can be, ferret! You can make as much noise as you want as long as you want to be eaten right alongside of me!"
Draco had gone back to staring at the floor. Hermione muttered under her breath, "Daft ferret; contradicting fool."
He had stopped rocking, at least. Now all they had to do was have an epiphany. If he kept up with his pettiness she wouldn't share hers with him, if she ever got one. She squinted her eyes shut and pointed the wand tip to the side of her head, wanting, wanting for an epiphany to come. A second later, none did.
She was suddenly angry with her luck to be stuck with Draco Malfoy. "The stupid git," she thought to herself. She twisted the wand tip harder onto her head, through the curly mess of her hair, directed at her lobes. "Come on, Hermione. Come on." She dared to glance through the opening into the nest again. The Acromantulas were still there, mostly hatched from their eggs. The nest was disgusting looking. She didn't know why Hagrid cared for them so much. The floor that they were hatching on was a little ways below their own on the other side. The light, a hazy blue, lit the area, but there was no opening that was the cause for it. It was an eerie light, too. If she saw it in a photograph, she would say that it was generated by something—unreal, like a scene in a film that was obviously made on a computer. Eerie. Magical. It was light and yet heavy. She turned away, her eyes hurting from its stench. It smelled like blood to her.
"Granger!" Malfoy snapped at her. "What are you doing? Stop pushing your face through that hole! They will see and smell you, and then I will hold you responsible for my death." He pointed to the wall. "I'll burn it into words right there: Hermione Granger, Muggle-born, murderer of Draco Malfoy. And then the world will hate that name as much as I do."
Hermione had never felt so murderous. If she had claws, she would pierce his tongue with them and then pull it out, relishing his screams. But instead she planned on turning him into a maggot when they got back to school. Because they would get out, even it meant sacrificing Malfoy to the babies in the process.
Ah. She couldn't help herself. She threw some dirt and rocks at him. "Wanker!"
He growled at her and then began to shout at her. She kept quiet for fear of being noticed and instead began to throw handfuls of dirt and rock from the removed wall at him. He kept jerking his head away, and moved closer in between each slug. "Mudblood…bloody fu—" he began to scream.
And then they heard it, the small scream of legs. They were moving, and both enemy heads bent through the hole warily, witnessing the baby Acromantulas scuttling under the wall beneath their hole.
"They can't climb a wall this high!" Draco cried out, as though reassuring only himself.
They couldn't. But meat was close, so they began to climb on top of each other, climbing the backs of ones above them, rising higher, a pyramid of writhing, small-backed Acromantulas. Their hairs seemed to Hermione millions of teeth. She backed away as quickly as Draco.
Draco clamped his clammy fingers onto the hair in his eyes. "You should kiss me, Granger, that way you'll know what a real man can do to you before you die." He was trembling slightly.
Hermione stared at him, wanting to roll her eyes, but the shock of scuttling legs made her widen her eyes even more.
Then there was no more eerie light, only darkness of jumping bodies. She screamed, hearing Malfoy's next her ear. She thrust her wand at a spider on her leg, and then it was gone, so she began to thrust it into the cloud that was attempting to crawl into her clothes.
"Hermione!" Draco yelled.
She looked over at him, blinking at the oncoming surge of legs and tiny hairs.
He mouthed something, but managed no voice. She watched as his wand went through the tiny bodies, making them dissipate like burning tissue paper. She looked over at those her own wand touched. She thrust at them even harder, watching in amazement as they curled up into the air around them. They weren't just running off to other sides of her. They were disappearing, because they weren't real. They were biting her though. They were solid, yet they were like vapors. Vapors with teeth.
With renewed hope, she stood up, batting her wand around without aim. Draco had joined her, and they moved around in the fury around them, leaning against walls, and running towards blank floor spaces. She felt like she was having bits of her melting off as she was bit on the legs over and over again. Draco had stumbled beside her, one latched onto his arm. He had lost his wand. She gritted her teeth to reach through the oncoming surge to retrieve it. She realized she might have lost a finger, but all five were wrapped around the handle when she pulled it to her face. She angrily stabbed at the one biting off his arm and he whisked it from her grasp, managing a "thanks" before resuming his battling. They were backed up against a wall again, swatting furiously, stabbing, jabbing, breathing when they could, trying to stay…upright at least. Something gave way behind her. She suddenly felt her heart go faint: they were climbing behind her legs now, to reach her face. But instead the rock crackled and she was falling, looking up at endless ceiling, and then at the waterfall of little brown hands. Draco landed on top of her. She managed not to get any legs in her mouth as she screamed. Her leg had fallen off; she was sure of it.
As the waterfall plummeted, the little bodies curled up and screeched, becoming nothing as handfuls and handfuls slammed onto the floor. Those that hadn't made it up through the wall were ripping at her jeans and shirt. Draco rolled off of her finally and began stabbing those that had been left on the floor. She tried to muster a few jabs, but in her pain, she missed all but one. Draco's wand kept flashing in front of her and over her ears, until the screeching and the legs had stopped, and she closed her eyes to wonder if she was still alive or maybe half-dead.
Draco could feel the shreds of his shirt arm sink into the gash on his right arm. He looked up at the huge opening that had delivered him and Hermione onto the floor below, and to their salvation. Another brown body gamboled over the edge and fell with a final screech to the floor in front of his face. It hit the floor and then curled into oblivion, like the rest. He lay on the floor for the next few moments. He didn't think he was actually alive in every moment that came to him from there. All he focused on then were his breaths.
Hermione exhaled next to him. The cold stone under his ear he realized was pushing back against his head, hard. He felt her still form lying next to him, a body resonating beside him. The two of them clung to the stone ground, silent as the breaths coming from their half-open mouths. She whimpered, bringing him to a crawl beside her. She was lying on her back, her head turned away from him. One leg was bloodying her pant leg. He softly touched the other one, on her thigh.
She saved my life, was all he thought. I said that I hated her name.
"My leg is broken," she managed with a thick voice. Hermione squinted, tears making her lids feel hot. She sucked in breath as Draco touched the bloodied pant above her severed leg. She murmured at the pain she felt. "Malfoy, Malfoy…"
His tone of voice betrayed his uncertainty of what to do, but it was also oddly comforting. So comforting…she wanted him to speak again, and it didn't seem wrong to just ask.
"Talk to me, Malfoy—Draco, talk. Give me some words, please?" She still felt as though she should be dead. She still wasn't sure if she was almost there, or what.
"Granger—," no, he should say something more comforting, "Hermione," he liked the feel her name gave his tongue, "we're in a predicament of startling proportions."
She moved her head to the side. She was beginning to feel better.
His fingers touched the back of her hand. "We could still die, especially you, but we'll come up with something, and we'll be back for a hero's dinner. And I'll—I'll give you your plate first,
and we'll toast some—something, and your Weasel will be there," he suddenly felt sick, "and your leg will be repaired with a simple flick of the wand, and we'll get baths and bandages…" he looked at his arm that he had across his bent knees. It had been gnawed on by one of the babies, and all he could see was red, red.
Red jeans, red arm sleeve…
Brown eyes, living eyes, a breath, a tendril…
He reached out to her, like he never wanted to pull back. She was looking at him, and suddenly he wanted to say something to her, but he didn't know what.
She was feeling strange as he touched her hair. It was as if it was right in some other universe, but here it felt—out of place, but so right…
They should have died together…
She swallowed. "Go get help. See if the wall can be," she inhaled sharply, "broken in any other spot. Harry and Ron could still be out there."
He stared at her for a moment, whether it was her voice that entranced him or the loss of blood, she wasn't sure. But suddenly his mouth moved, and then he cleared his throat, and began again, "Abandon…no." He shook his head. "No. You're hurt. I'm not leaving you when this hellish spell could conjure a new nest while you're lying here in the middle of the floor. I'm not doing it, Granger!" His voice was getting louder. "I'm not leaving you to find some incompetent blockheads to take even longer to get help. No!" He realized he was loud. Softer, "No. I'm not."
He was stroking her hair. She felt sleepy now.
"We must. You must, Dra—" she suddenly realized she was using his first name. So she swallowed. "You must find help. It hurts…"
At her words Draco's eyes changed. And he felt their shift in his heart. "Granger—Hermione, I'll get us out of here." A moment later, "I'm sorry it hurts so much. If I knew a spell…"
She shook her head slowly. "No spells for this one. Try the walls, Draco. Malfoy." She didn't know which name to use. "Look for our way out. You found the last hole, after all."
She meant it as an encouragement, but he felt pangs in his gut and strangely in his heart area when she said those words. Yeah, he found the last hole. He hoped he could redeem himself with another. He moved away from her and stood up slowly, trying not to grunt as he moved his injured arm. He walked to the far wall, the bluish light that lit the room felt cursed, like it had fangs, and it wanted to bite and bite and grin and laugh…it felt thirsty, cumbersome. He moved his hands across the wall. He did it across the whole wall until he was on another one, and he moved his hands around that one until he came to the next one, and then the last one, and then he cursed so sharply that Hermione responded with a sound that made him turn to her, desperate, and eyes glazed.
He got to his knees when he came to her and took her hand. He was hoarse when he spoke next, "There is no way out. There is no way out." Her eyes turned away from his and closed. There was sweat glistening on her brow. The beads were singing in their scream-song, the melodies of her pain, of her broken bone. He touched her cheek with the back of his good hand, and then stood up and walked to the far wall, grabbing a rock that had formed the wall they fell through and threw it at the cold stone. The stone slabs that fell from the wall he didn't notice until he was done yelling, his face red, his neck veins strained and slowly receding back under his skin. He was panting when he stumbled to the new indent, moving his hands over the miracle. He turned around and took the now smaller rock and threw it against the blessed blemish. More fell away. The rock was so soft, so wonderful.
Hermione could hear him throwing rock against rock for what seemed like ages, but she was in her half-sleep at that point, and couldn't muster from it to check on him until a while later. When she opened her eyes finally, there he was, sweating in darker circles on his half-bloodied shirt, working on the indent that was now deep, and just so wonderful, so wonderful. She let out a breath and struggled to sit herself up.
She took in a breath and then exhaled. "Draco."
He turned around quickly, smiling at her, showing her his unbuttoned shirt that revealed a torn undershirt sticking wetly to his torso. Her pain lessened at the sight of him. He looked...delicious.
He wiped his forehead. "Lay back down, Gra—Hermione," he breathed in deeply. "I think we're almost through." He turned back around to his deepening notch and picked up another chunk of soft rock. "Almost though," he said again in a strained voice as he threw the rock into the tiny mouth. It broke through to the other side. He turned, panting, towards Hermione. She was smiling tiredly at him, her head against the floor, her arm bent and laying next to her hair. She was lovely and he wanted to lay next to her and touch…
He did the logical thing instead and looked out the hole to peer out. The hole opened to a slight incline that led to a stream. It was opposite the cave's opening. Blasted cave opening. He wished he had never walked past it today. But he turned to Hermione lying there still. He walked over to her and began to bend down to pick her up, bearing hard on his teeth to greet the imminent pain.
"No, get help. Harry and Ron…" she began, worriedly.
He ignored her and picked her up anyway. He was glad she was light, because he could hardly ignore how his arm felt: like it was breaking off.
"No, no—your arm, Draco. Your arm…you're injured, you don't need…"
"I don't need you to talk to me right now, that's what I don't need," he said, annoyed with the pain and her reprimanding. "I could just drop you here and leave you for the night." He shook his head at those words. "I don't mean that." He bent over to situate her on the edge of the hole, reaching around her to claw for a bigger opening. He slid out, onto the rocky incline with a grunt. His arm hurt like it was slowly being burned open. He reached out for her when he made sure that his footing was secure, and she moved her good leg out, and then bent down. It was awkward moving, but he moved her through the hole and then put her in front of him, in his outstretched arms. He inhaled the scent of her hair, for motivation, before making his way over a large rock and onto the ground beside the stream. He couldn't carry her anymore and so he put her down. She was so pale.
"You look pale, Draco," she reached out and he went to his knees to catch his breath. Her skin felt good, so he sat down and rested his head in the crook of his arm that lay across a raised knee. She continued stroking the hair around his ear until he didn't know if he was dreaming or still breathing to the rhythm of her fingers through his hair.