Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I'm just playing with characters and events.
AN: One of my favorite scenes is missing from the GoF film so I decided rather than simply inserting it in, I'd add a bit more.
Owed and Paid
They'd lost Harry, she was sure of it. Ron's hand gripped hers tight while George kept close to her back, leaving only an inch or two of space between them and that only when they were jostled by the crowd. She caught occasional glimpses of Fred with Ginny. Harry, she hadn't seen since she'd come out of the tent.
Every so often there would be a flicker of light, like a lightning strike behind them, followed swiftly by a scream. She tried to block it out, to not think about the danger advancing on them and instead keep focused on surviving the danger around them, on not being crushed or trampled or separated from the others.
A fat woman in a nightdress stumbled into Hermione's path and Ron's hand was ripped from hers. She cried out but felt George immediately press against her back. He kept her moving, wrapped his arms loosely around her waist.
"See Fred and Gin?" he asked in her ear.
She scanned the crowd moving constantly around them, felt George's hands on her hips turning her in the right direction even as he propelled her ever forward. Catching sight of two redheads moving through the crowd, she nodded. They were on a slight decline now and she could keep them in her sights. She watched as they fought to move to the left, through the flow of bodies around them.
"They're heading for the woods. Ron doesn't know." George's voice was tight, filled with fear, though he tried hard to hide it. Hermione understood. He had to find Ron before the crowd put too much distance between them but he also couldn't leave her. She turned her head and her cheek hit George's, he was so close behind her.
"Go! I can make it to them!"
George gave her a squeeze and disappeared. She hadn't realized how much he was protecting her from the press until now. If the people hadn't been packed tight in front of her she would have gone sprawling in the dirt and been trampled to death. She pushed with all her might, trying to get to the woods, while craning her neck to see Fred and Ginny. Her toes were completely numb to being stepped on by now and her every rib ached from elbows trying to force their way past.
The screams were getting closer. People behind her were veering off, giving the Death Eaters a clearer path. More and more people were beginning to realize and moving away from the path, to the woods or deeper into the camp. Hermione tried to push her way left but found herself in a mass of people heading for the tents. She'd completely lost sight of Fred and Ginny. She considered giving up, heading into the camp with those around her. Would it be at least as safe as the woods? Even if it was would she be endangering her friends by going that way? Would George and Ron find Fred and Ginny without her and immediately put themselves back in harm's way to come searching for her?
Light flashed to Hermione's right, the woman that had been standing there screamed and fell. Hermione turned her head, there was nothing but open ground and smoke-filled air separating her from the Death Eaters. People around her scrambled with renewed fervor, not caring where they went, only that they went away. Hermione scrambled with them. She ran between two tents, felt fire as one was set on fire as she passed. There was no one else anymore, only flashes of feet and heads and bodies running for cover. She heard laughter behind her, the sting of a spell flying past her head. Hard-packed dirt became grass and mud beneath her feet. She slipped and ran on her hands and knees, searching desperately for purchase so that she could run, escape. A shadow moved in the darkness of a tent beside her, instinct told her to get away but the shadow caught her under the arms, pulled her kicking and screaming into the dark.
She used her own weight, little as it was, to fight, falling down and forcing her captor to the ground with her. He grunted but didn't let up. One arm wrapped tight around her waist and he shifted so that his body alone was touching the ground, robbing her of any chance of holding back. Her heels found his shins, the tops of his feet. Her elbows found ribs and the tender space above his hips. Her own hips she twisted, digging her bones into his. As the tent flap fell shut, blocking out the sight of Death Eaters running past, she threw her head back and connected.
He knew who she was? She didn't bother to think on it. She twisted her body, breaking free while he was preoccupied with whatever damage she'd done to his face, and raced for the door.
"Compris!" The spell flew by her and she watched in horror as the tent flap firmly stuck itself to the edge of the opening, sealing her in. She whirled, grabbing for her wand.
A light flickered on, illuminating only a small sitting area in what looked to be a very large space. A bookshelf stood to one side, against the cloth wall. The floor was one large rug made to look like the forest floor, complete with forest creatures scurrying to escape the light. A spinet piano sat beyond a loose cluster of chairs. In the grey beyond the circle of light she could even see stairs leading to a second story. Her captor leaned heavily on a low table, on which sat what looked to be an antique gas lamp but was in all probability magical. His back to her, he managed to stumble the short distance to an ornate couch. He pulled himself up on its arm, enough to half-sit on it, exposing his profile to her.
"Malfoy?" she demanded in a mix of shock and horror.
"Believe me, I'm no less surprised than you are." He pulled a handkerchief from his nose and scowled at whatever he saw.
She kept her wand leveled at him. "What are you playing at, Malfoy?" A chill went through her as she considered possible reasons for him bringing her here. None of them were good.
"I'm not playing at anything," he snapped, "and put that thing down! Mother's gone out of her way to make this place feel like home while we're here and if you leave scorch marks on any of the furniture she'll hex us both." He flopped onto the couch and let his head fall back and his eyes slip shut.
Hermione watched him for several seconds. When he made no sign that he cared about her any longer she half turned towards the entrance, keeping him in her sights.
"Aperis!" When that did nothing to unseal the flap she tried Alohomora and Finite Incantatum. Neither had any effect.
"Let me out!" she snapped, whirling to face Malfoy fully.
"Will you just sit down, Granger?" he moaned. He hadn't moved at all.
She huffed and moved to take a seat as far from him as possible. His only reaction was a slight wince when she passed between him and the lantern. At the last second she thought better of the small, decorative chair directly across from Malfoy. Not only would it be exactly where he'd expect her to sit but the bright floral pattern of the cushions was made sinister by the curving basilisk arms. Instead she sat on the edge of a plush chair upholstered with a pale green fabric.
She held her wand loosely between her hands, ready to use it at any second if need be. Either the tent walls blocked out all sound or things had died down out there while Hermione was preoccupied. There wasn't even the sound of a clock to mark each passing second.
"Where are your parents?" She immediately regretted the question, there were so many other, better questions to ask.
Malfoy cracked one eye open. Apparently that was all he needed to look at her like she were a bug beneath the shadow of his boot. "You know very well where my father is, Granger, don't act dumb."
"And your mother?" she asked, curiosity peaked when he didn't include her.
He ran a hand over his face and his whole body winced when he touched his nose. She smirked and, catching sight of it, he scowled darkly.
"Her sister's attending the match. Mother left the second she was sure father and his friends were out of sight."
Hermione had only heard of one of Malfoy's aunts, and her only by connecting the dots between a footnote in Dark Wizards of the Twentieth Century and an off-hand comment in one of the many articles in the Prophet after Sirius' escape. Since that aunt was in Azkaban, she imagined this was one she'd never heard of.
"Wouldn't she be safe on her own, being family and all?" Hermione said, mimicking Malfoy's characteristic drawl.
He regarded her behind shuddered eyes for several moments before saying, "She's a blood traitor."
Hermione blinked in surprise. "And your mother still-?"
"Oh." Her eyes fell away from his. His chuckle had her gaze flying right back up and her cheeks flaming in embarrassment and rage. He was the last person she wanted laughing at her.
"We're not monsters, Granger," he said.
She rolled her eyes and tried to appear casual in the chair. "Could've fooled me," she muttered.
"Really?" he asked, his voice dripping with venom. "And what do you think you're doing here? I've as good as brought you into my home to protect you."
"'Protect me'?" she echoed, as shocked as she had been when she first saw him.
"Yes," he grumbled, his eyes cutting away from her.
He heaved a heavy sigh. "Last year, when that menace hippogriff nearly killed me-"
"He was perfectly nice when people weren't antagonizing him and he did not!"
"-you were the one who told that oaf to stop piddling around with his pet and take me to Pomfrey. And it was serious," he added, the need to be right warring with pride in his eyes. "The damn bird nicked an artery, I could've bled out and all the blood replenishing potions in the world wouldn't have been enough to save me if I hadn't gotten there fast enough."
Hermione felt the blood leave her face. Everyone had just assumed Malfoy was playing up his injury for a bit of sympathy and hero worship, it had never occurred to her that he might have been telling more truth than lies.
"You saved my life," he said, sounding like the words left a foul taste in his mouth. "That's not a debt I take lightly."
She opened her mouth to argue that she hadn't, that he didn't owe her a thing even if she had, but the glare he shot her way silenced her. When he decided he'd really shut her up he closed his eyes and let his head rest on the back of the couch again. She worried her lip and gripped her wand tightly. She remembered that day in Care of Magical Creatures, it was burned into her brain. She'd been so afraid Hagrid would lose his job and, if she was perfectly honest, afraid Buckbeak really had hurt Malfoy. She was so relieved that night at dinner when she heard he was doing fine. She'd never thought she had anything to do with his recovery, of course she hadn't known how bad it was before. And then a few months later she'd moved on and forgotten enough to punch him. She wondered how he'd felt about that when he was no doubt brooding about owing her a life debt.
Her head fell forward until it touched her knees and she put a hand to her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter. This was just strange. Half an hour ago she'd been laughing with Ginny, twenty minutes ago she'd been running for her life, and now she was in Draco Malfoy's home away from home, under his protection.
"What, Granger?" Malfoy asked. She peeked up at him through her hair. He was looking at her with one eye again. She laughed outright. He frowned but only for a few seconds before chuckling himself.
When her giggles subsided Hermione threw back her hair and took a deep, calming breath. "I have to find my friends," she said. "They're probably worried about me and putting themselves in danger to look for me."
Malfoy scoffed. "Typical Gryffindors. And no, you're not leaving until it's safe."
She stood and put her hands on her hips. She just managed not to stamp her foot. "Malfoy, I have to find them."
He met her determined gaze with one of his own. "I don't care about your friends. It's you I owe a debt to."
"You saved me! Debt repaid! Now let me leave!"
He ignored her.
"Malfoy!" This time she did stomp her foot. When this still didn't gain his attention she huffed in annoyance and wracked her brain for some way out of this. "You say I saved your life, doesn't that mean you should respect my wishes?"
"You'd think that."
She closed her eyes and counted to ten. She was beginning to realize how lucky she was that she and Malfoy never spent any time together. If this lasted much longer she was going to hex him.
"I punched you," she tried. "Doesn't that negate at least some of the debt?"
He actually seemed to mull that over, only to shake his head firmly. "No. It only forbids me from seeking out revenge." He gave her a look that clearly said she was lucky to have been saved from such a fate.
She huffed and fell back into the chair. "This is insane, Malfoy! Hagrid had more to do with saving your life than I did! Why don't you owe him a debt?"
Malfoy looked like she'd just set off one of the twins' stink bombs. "Because he's the one who put me in danger in the first place. Besides, you're better than him."
A faint blush rose in Hermione's cheeks even as she clenched her fists in rage. "Malfoy… please."
He looked her over, from the muddy Muggle shoes she'd only half-tied in her haste to the oversized sweater of her father's she always liked to wear on chilly nights away from home.
"Fine," he said.
She jumped to her feet.
"But I'm coming with you."
Her smile fell. "If you think I'm in danger from your people…"
"I'll be fine," he said. He strode to the tent flap, casting a spell on the way. He glanced out, taking his time to look around, then nodded at her. "Looks all right." He pulled a dark cloak from a coat rack beside the opening and followed her out. She held her wand at the ready and kept to the shadows, not willing to risk a Death Eater spotting her. She ignored Malfoy, refusing to even look back at him when he occasionally pulled her back into the cover of a tent's shadow when he heard or saw something. Mostly she was annoyed with his interference, he was keeping her from getting to her friends, but once he actually did save her from being spotted and she couldn't fault him after that.
"Ron," Hermione gasped. She looked around for Malfoy and nearly screamed in surprise. The cloak he wore blended seamlessly with the shadows, leaving only his face visible like a moon in the darkness.
"Go," he said. "I'll be watching." Were he anyone else that might have been reassuring, but coming from him it sounded like a warning. She nodded and ran in the direction of Ron's voice.
He hugged her tight when they met up. She could feel Malfoy's eyes boring into her back as they embraced and quickly ended it, uncomfortable with being watched.
"Where have you been?" Ron asked. "When we caught up with Fred and Ginny and you weren't there-"
"I got caught up in the crowd. I'm fine. Have you seen Harry?" She said all this quickly, hoping to distract him from asking any more.
She needn't have worried. Less than a minute later the sky was lit up by the Dark Mark. She and Ron ran for the source of the spell, both knowing that Harry was sure to be wherever trouble was. Neither heard the muted curse or the footsteps following close behind them, keeping watch.