Harry took over pacing when Draco left, If one of the Healers didn't come out and give them an update soon, he would end up wearing a hole though the floor. His mind was so clouded with worry and confusion. He was worried about Hermione and Draco's confession of love? That had really thrown him for a loop. He had known about Hermione's feelings for Draco, for years. She had confided in him many years ago that she was falling for Draco. She had told him and only him, because she was scared of what he would say. The animosity for Draco ran deep within their circle of friends and she was terrified of how they would take it.
It was mostly Ron's reaction that she was scared of. She knew Harry would be understanding, no matter how much he had hated Draco, he loved Hermione more. If Draco had been the one to make her happy, he would have accepted it. That was what he had told her. She had hugged him and told him she was going to talk to Draco about it. When next he heard, she had told him Draco had laughed at her and wanted nothing to do with her. It was also around the time she had told him that she was marrying Zabini. Harry's confusion grew as he paced back and forth. Harry was left with Malfoy's deceleration, Hermione's words 5 years ago and a nagging in his brain telling him something was amiss.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley," a Healer harry didn't know approached them as harry stopped his pacing and watched Ron jump up. The Healers face was somber and worn.
"She's awake and asking for you, but she's sore, very sore, and not all of the bruising has gone away. She took on hell of a beating, I'm afraid."
"Can you tell us what you did for her?" Ron asked speaking for the first time since learning about what happened.
"We gave her a blood replenishing potion, mended the internal trauma, and cleaned and healed the cuts on her skin. It's the healing of the internal trauma that's making her sore, had Mr. Malfoy not been there to place her in stasis, she would have died. Her injuries were vast and extensive. Her ribs were broken and one of them punctured her lung." the doc finished, sagging slightly under the weight of his exhaustion.
Harry felt the wind knock out of him at the doctor's words. Draco Malfoy had saved Hermione's life. The Draco Malfoy, the man that had tormented, ridiculed and teased Hermione, had also been the one to save her life. He really did love her. He had known Draco had changed and left the dark side mid war, but that didn't mean it wasn't weird to consider him an ally. They had fought against each other for far too long.
When Harry and Ron arrived at Hermione's room she was lying in the bed curled into a ball crying. The sight broke Harry's heart. Ron sat in the seat next to the bed while Harry curled up behind her and pulled her to his chest.
"Hermione?" Harry whispered into her hair, he wasn't about to asked how she was, it was stupid and insensitive. He had considered telling her it would be ok, because it was. If Draco didn't kill the bastard, Auror or not, he would. But he didn't want her to know that he was considering murder.
"What happened?" Was what came out instead. Closing his eyes, he could have kicked himself, thankfully Ron had done it for him.
'I...I fell down the stairs," came her weak reply. It was weak in both voice and reasoning.
"Come off it Hermione, the ferret and his elf told us the truth." came Ron's voice. Ever the compassionate one. Hermione shot up from Harry's arms, clutching her head in pain as her vision swam before her.
"Dra...Malfoy? You've seen him? Her voice sounded scared.
"Yes Mione, Malfoy brought you here after his elf found you. They told us what Blaise has been doing. Why didn't you come to us mione? You know we would have handled Blaise." Harry had a hard time keeping his voice even. He wanted to yell and tell her how stupid she was. He was so mad at her for staying in a situation like this.
He knew it wasn't her fault but that didn't stop him from being mad. She was the victim, it wasn't her fault that a man, her husband had decided to use her as a bunching bag, but that didn't change the fact that she had been unwilling for 5 years to do or say anything to change it. She stayed and pretended like nothing was wrong. And Malfoy with his confession of love, what a crock of shit. If he had loved her he'd have done more to save her then give her a house elf and heal her wounds. Somewhere in the back of Harry's mind, a little voice was trying to reason with him, trying to tell him that Malfoy was helping, that because he gave her that elf, her life had been saved. That he was following her request and yet still taking precautions. Harry wanted so badly to be mad at Malfoy, and Hermione for that matter, but he wasn't. He was mad yes, at the situations but not at his best friend and the idiot she loved.
Tears were falling down Hermione's cheeks, how had he not noticed the dead look in her eyes for the last five years? How could he call himself a friend if he hadn't even noticed what was right in front of his face?
"You don't understand, Harry." she said burying her face in his shirt. "Its not what you think." she hiccuped.
"Then explain it, Hermione." Harry said, his voice softer, smoothing down her hair.
Hermione took a deep breath, "where's Draco?"
Ron shrugged "He brought you in two days ago, after his elf had made him promise to kill..."
Hermione's sudden yell stopped the statement.
"WHAT! No, no he can't." her voice was full of panic.
"Give it up Hermione; you can't still love Zabini after he almost killed you!"
"I never loved him Ron!" she snapped, "oh my god Blaise is going to kill him." Hermione was positively terrified. She had abandoned Harry's hold on her and sat head in hands.
She knew that if Draco had gone to confront Blaise, then at least one of them was dead. She hoped with all her heart that it was Blaise, but she Didn't believe herself to be that lucky. She truly believed Blaise could best Draco, simply because the amount of hate Blaise had in his heart, was so much stronger then the hate in Draco's heart. He cared about people too much. Draco was her friend, yes, and he had wanted to protect her, but Blaise had a hatred fueled by the death of love to spur him into murder.
Hermione knew that if Draco were dead, she didn't want to continue living, dramatic, yes but completely true. She had lived five years without her true love; she wasn't going to do it anymore. Unless it was his wish. So she was going to tell Ron and Harry exactly why she was with Blaise. Why she had allowed him to touch her the way he had, consequences be damned.
Ron was standing pacing back and forth, saying something but in Hermione's panic, she missed it, and uncharacteristicly had to ask him to repeat it.
"Hermione," he sighed, "this is Malfoy we are talking about. Seasoned death eater turned traitor, I'm sure he can handle Zabini. And anyway," Ron added, "who cares if Malfoy dies?" Harry smacked him around the head and Hermione looked horror struck. "OI!" he screeched at Harry rubbing his head.
"I do Ron, I love him." Ron stood there, dumbstruck, frozen mid message.
"Ron drop it," harry sighed, "Why did you marry Blaise, if you didn't love him? How did all of this happen?"
"I did it to save his life."
Hermione stood, arm raised about knock on the door in front of her, when the door flew open.
"Well, if it isn't Draco's mud-blood. You aren't who I was expecting," came the cold voice of Blaise Zabini. "Come in, Draco's not here, we can wait for him together." Hermione hesitated on the threshold; something in the back of her mind told her it was a bad idea to be alone with Blaise. However, her foolish Gryffindor pride told her not to back down in the face of fear.
Holding her head high, she march in past Blaise, like she owned the place. Draco's flat was nice and cozy, she wasn't too shocked to see the dark greens but instead of being mixed with black or silver like she had expected the Slytherin prince to have, the room was filled with soft neutral colors and pops of dark green to brighten up the room. The place was warm and inviting. It gave Hermione hope.
"Finally going to tell Draco how you feel?" Blaise sneered. Hermione froze in her appraisal of the room. "You know he's just going to laugh at you right?"
"What?" Hermione whispered, trying to keep the tears out of her voice. She knew she was taking a huge risk telling Draco about her feelings, but she had to do it. She needed to know if he could maybe feel the same way.
"Draco will never love a mud-blood like you." He said, a light laugh to his voice, "I wonder though, how much do you love him? Would you do anything for him? Save his life perhaps?"
"Yes, I would save his life. He's worth it." she said strongly.
"Interesting," he said, tapping his wand on his chin. "You see, I came here tonight, to kill Draco, but I'm thinking I was a little hasty in my decision."
"Why would you kill Draco? I though you and he were best mates."
"Were, being the key word there. You see, when your best mate, kills the woman you love, you tend to stop being friends."
"Draco never killed anyone!" Hermione shouted, turning to face Blaise.
"Oh but he did Mud-blood; does that change how you feel about him?" Blaise cooed, "he killed Pansy when he turned traitor to the dark lord and sold us out! IT'S HIS FAULT SHE'S GONE!" he roared. "And I'm going to kill him." he said, his voice returning to a eerie calm.
"You can't!" she shouted; fear lacing her words and taking hold of her gut. "It's not his fault Pansy died; she was on the losing side. We all took a risk fighting for what we believed it. It's not his fault she was on the wrong side. I won't let you kill him."
"And what pray tell, would you do, in order to stop me? Kill me? Could the proud and just Gryffindor princess really kill someone?" Blaise simpered. In an instant he had her wand and she was tied to a chair in the living room. "There is only one thing that you could give me that would save Draco." Blaise said a crazed glint in his eye.
"And what it that?" She asked, head held as high as she could, knowing what a dangerous situation she had gotten herself in.
"Why YOU of course," he said in a sweet chirpy voice, "Oh, it's PERFECT!" He said, thinking out loud more than talking to her. "I marry Draco's mud-blood and get to see the pain and suffering on both of their faces every day." Looking back at Hermione, he began, "So tell me mud-blood, do you love Draco enough to give yourself, as a sacrifice, to keep him alive?"
"That was the night I told Draco that Blaise and I were getting married, instead of telling him, that I loved him."
Harry and Ron sat dumbstruck after Hermione's story. They wanted to be mad, they really did, but the truth was, if they had been in her position, and had to choose between their life and the life of a loved one, they'd make the same decision she did.
"Foolish Gryffindor bravery," came the smooth silky drawl of Draco Malfoy. "Always looking out for everyone but themselves," he said, standing in the door, ice in his gaze. Hermione knew that look; it was one of anger and disappointment.
"Umm, we'll just..." Harry said standing abruptly as if he'd sat of a sticker bush.
"Yeah," said Ron following Harry, "Glad you're feeling better, we're going to..."
Draco moved out of the door way and Harry and Ron sped past him, leaving Hermione and him alone. He was mad but not at her.
Hermione played with the hem of her blanket, refusing to look at him. Her hair was sleek and smooth with a hint of mess because of the hospital bed. To Draco, she the most beautiful person alive.
"Are you mad?" she asked, her voice small, not taking her eyes off the blanket in front of her.
"Not at you," he shrugged, not daring to move from the wall he had come to rest on.
"Blaise is dead then." It wasn't a question.
"Yes," the admission, barely reaching above a whisper. He didn't want her to be mad at him, but he would never lie to her either.
"The body?" Draco shrugged again, "I'm not sure what Pixie did with it."
Hermione's head snapped up, dark brown eyes met silver for the first time, "You had Pixie dispose of a body?" Hermione was a person that confused Draco. She always had, and probably always would. The murder of her husband, doesn't faze her, but the involvement of a house-elf to cover it up, that got to her.
"Relax, Hermione, I certainly didn't ask her to deal with the body. It takes a lot out of you, ya know, murder. I'm ashamed to admit it, but my energy was sapped and I passed out. When I came to, Pixie was there, the mess was gone and so was the body. I don't know what she did with it, nor do I want to."
"Can they trace it back to you?"
"Nope, didn't use magic."
"How?" she asked curiosity in her voice.
"I'd rather not talk about this. Blaise was a bastard, and I hate him, but he was my best friend for many years. If you must know, with my bare hands." Hermione nodded.
"How muggle of you," she said, a hint of a smile in her voice. She knew she should be sad that a life was lost, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bring herself to care. Blaise Zabini was gone, he was never coming back. He could never hurt her or Draco again. Hermione was free. The loss of his life meant the renewal of hers.
"Thank you," she said, grabbing his hand. This man that she loved, had risked his life for her. She loved him more then she had ever thought possible. The love had grown steadily stronger through the years, but in that moment, she felt like her heart was going to burst. She wanted him to know just how much she loved him. And she hoped that maybe he loved her the same. That maybe Blaise was wrong and that Draco could love a Muggleborn.
He placed his free hand on her cheek, "I will always, protect you, Hermione Jean Granger. You showed me how wrong my parent's ways were. You gave me hope when I defied them, betrayed everything I knew. You became my reason to live. You are the reason I switched sides. I have loved you since I was 16 and will never stop loving you." Moving his hand to the nap of her neck, he slowly pulled her closer to him, his head moving agonizingly slow to meet her in the middle.
Hermione held her breath, trying to grasp everything he had just said to her. She was his reason for the switching sides, just as he was her reason for marrying Blaise.
Merlin they really were dumb. Draco's soft smooth lips gently touched her dry chapped ones, her body felt like it had exploded into tiny flames. Shocks of heat cascaded down, settling in her belly. She poured her passion and love into the kiss, trying to tell him what he meant to her. In his embrace, she was safe and comfortable. She felt like she was waking from a nightmare, one that had lasted far too long. Draco's kiss held promises of love and passion and a life of happiness and joy and she desperately wanted that.
They broke apart, needing air to breath, but not wanting to loose contact, their foreheads came to rest together.
"I love you, Draco." Hermione whispered.
"I love you too, Hermione, Always."