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Draco sat straight up. He looked around nervously, trying to get his bearings. He was still at Hogwarts, in his bed. That much brought him some form of relief. He dropped his head into his hands.
It had been another nightmare. The same one that had plagued him since the train ride to Hogwarts. It woke him up numerous times each night, and he was afraid to tell anyone about it. He didn't want to be teased about having nightmares, even though he was pretty sure everyone was having them by now. He just didn't want to have to admit that he was having nightmares.
A knock on his door pulled him from his thoughts.
"Malfoy," Hermione's voice called. "Get up. It's almost time for breakfast." He groaned and rose to his feet. He swiftly put his school clothes on and exited the room. He saw Hermione sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace.
"You're still hanging around," he inquired. She looked up and smiled.
"Wanted to make sure you're still alive," she answered. "Sleep well?" He shook his head.
"Bad dreams," he answered vaguely. "Let's go eat." She hopped up and walked beside him through the halls. He carried on a civil conversation, letting the fears from the nightmare fade away.
It wasn't until they reached the Great Hall that he found something else to fear.
He knew Hermione would go sit at the Gryffindor table with Ginny and Luna, like she had for the past two years. The only difference was, he would not be welcome at any of the tables. He would have to avoid hexes and murderous glares. He couldn't go in there alone. He couldn't deal with the death threats again. He needed a reason to survive the day, and if she was it, then so be it.
He grabbed her arm, hoping she would see the desperation that he was feeling.
"Granger, don't make me sit in there alone; please," he pleaded. "I can't deal with it again. I can't deal with the glares again." He could see the shock in her face, and silently begged for her to understand. He felt her hand caress his cheek comfortingly, and he let his emotions, mostly fear, take over. He felt tears forming in his eyes and falling down his cheeks.
"Please, Hermione... Don't make me deal with it alone..."
"Shh, just calm down, Malfoy, it's okay," she soothed. "You don't have to go in there alone. You can sit with me. No one is going to kill you." He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. He was trembling, and there were still tears falling from his eyes. "Don't cry, Malfoy. It'll all be just fine."
"I know," he choked out, opening his eyes. "What about Weasley?"
"You mean Ginny," she inquired. He nodded. "She'll get over it. She doesn't blame you, Malfoy." She grabbed his hand and lead him into the hall. "Just don't think about it too much." He nodded and followed her silently, keeping his head down so as not to be indentified. He could hear hexes being thrown, but for every hew thrown, Hermione tossed up a protective charm.
Why was she being so nice? Cause it was the right thing to do? Even after how he had treated her, she still wanted to protect him. He couldn't figure out how she could have the endless supply of kindness in her, but she did, and he would be eternally grateful.
He glanced up just in time to see Ginny glaring at him. He averted his gaze back to the floor. He wondered if he was the first Malfoy to feel this worthless.
"What is he doing here," Ginny questioned as he sat down next to Hermione.
"Ginny, try to be nice," Hermione instructed. "Did you not count the number of hexes being thrown at him?"
"About twenty before everyone gave up," Luna piped in, her voice still dreamy and innocent. He refused to lift his gaze. He could tell Ginny blamed him for Fred's death.
"Twenty," Ginny screeched. "Are they serious?"
"Yes, Ginny, they are," Hermione answered. "Each one meant to knock his head off!" He stuffed a bite of scrambled eggs into his mouth.
"You'd think people would try to be nicer to each other," Luna stated.
"I know," Ginny agreed. "Draco, no matter what anyone says, they have no right to try and kill you." He met her gaze, his jaw hanging.
"She hung out with the twins way too much," Hermione laughed. Ginny smiled at him.
"It's true," the red-head confirmed. "Plus, it wasn't your fault anyway." He smiled, awe-struck by her sudden change in behavior.
"Welcome to the group," Luna intoned. "You'll always have us."