Chapter 1: Day One: Morning
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters from it. I make no money from the writing/publishing of this story.
Rated M for language.
Blanket Story Warning: includes claustrophobic conditions and graphic depictions of injury and illness.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Every second he breathed, the smell of the grass, the cool air on his face, was so precious:
To think that people had years and years, time to waste, so much time it dragged, and he was clinging to each second.”
- JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Day One: Morning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Granger, get the fuck off me,” Draco snarled as he blinked through the dim light and settling dirt and dust. Hermione merely coughed at the airborne debris.
“And for fuck’s sake, cover your mouth,” he said.
“I…I can’t,” Hermione grunted back as she attempted to wriggle her arms that were trapped at awkward angles, her right somewhat between them and the left smashed between her side and a jagged outcropping of stone wall. Draco’s eyes widened as she tried to move.
“And get your hand away from my cock,” he demanded. Hermione stopped moving and glared at the man pressed directly before her.
“I don’t want to touch your precious cock,” she snipped back. “I’m trying to free my arm.”
“Well, try a different way, because I’d prefer not to be fondled just now.”
Hermione continued to glare as she tried to crane her neck to look between them. She gave an annoyed sigh when she saw that her hand was indeed rubbing directly against his crotch. She looked back up at him.
“Can you move your arms?” she asked. Draco growled irritably but wiggled his body in the tight space and tried to dislodge his right arm that was stuck somewhat behind him and his left arm that was caught up and wedged beside them, his bent elbow lodged against the wall opposite him, so his hand and forearm were slightly above the level of their faces hanging awkwardly.
His sleeve was rolled up and the angle of his arm clearly exposed his Dark Mark.
Hermione turned her face away from it. “Will you please move that?” she snapped.
“I’m bloody well trying,” Draco said through gritted teeth, as he tried to pull the arm free by shifting his weight.
“Aaahh!” Hermione cried out as his right shoulder pressed into her painfully when he tried to turn. “Stop! You’re hurting me.”
Draco only wriggled harder. “Just shut up! I’m…trying to…aaahh! Goddamn it!” he roared in frustration as he shook himself violently.
“STOP! STOP!” Hermione begged as she was jostled by his movements against the hard, dusty stone.
“We have to get out of here!” Draco shouted at her, panic rising in his voice.
“Calm down!” Hermione ordered. “Panicking is not going to help us.”
“Fuck you!” he yelled back as he tried to turn forcefully again. Hermione cried out again and then punched her right hand forward to hit him square in the jewels. He finally stopped moving.
“Aaah! Granger…” he ground out, “…what the fuck!?”
“You need to calm down,” she insisted again as Draco bowed his head as far as it could go without touching her and breathed raggedly.
“So…so you hit me?” he panted.
“Worked,” was all she said.
Draco snapped his head back up and scowled at her. “Bitch,” he said as he kneed her hard in the thigh.
“Prick!” she shouted, kicking her feet at his shins. They both proceeded then to wrestle their wedged bodies angrily against each other, hitting and kicking whatever they could manage.
The physical fight lasted a whole thirty seconds but ended with both of them red-faced and out of breath.
“We can’t…keep on…like this…” Hermione panted, wincing as Draco delivered a final kick. He didn’t say anything but nodded reluctantly before letting his head fall back against the stone and closing his eyes as he tried to catch his breath.
“This didn’t happen,” he said pleadingly. “This is not happening. This cannot really be happening.”
Hermione rested her own head back and watched him for a moment before roaming her gaze about to finally ascertain just how bad their situation was.
It was bad.
The fissure they were stuck in was wide, extending far beyond them on either side of their wedged bodies, but the walls only got further apart. It appeared they were ‘lucky’ not to have dropped completely to the bottom by falling in right at the narrowest point.
“We’re at least…ten meters down, by the look of it,” she said after a time, squinting her eyes up at the opening high above them. “Though I can’t tilt my head back far enough to tell for sure.”
Draco opened his eyes to look up at the crack they’d fallen into and the sheer walls leading up to it.
“So no climbing out,” he muttered. He gave another tentative wriggle and added, “If we can ever manage to get unstuck.”
He tried to look down but found his view blocked by their bodies and his range of head motion limited by his own arm. “What about down?” he asked Hermione who was able to move her head just enough to see past their feet. She looked down.
“It’s too dark to tell,” she answered, “it’s just blackness.”
Draco groaned. “How good is your wandless magic?” he asked. At her raised eyebrow he huffed.
“See if you can summon our wands,” he said. Hermione looked doubtful but nodded in agreement and focused her mind onto the spell.
“Accio Malfoy’s wand!” she called out. They both looked up expectantly and, when a small stick came rolling over the side of the ledge above them, they both gasped excitedly. They watched the wand tumble down to them and quickly jerked their heads back as it fell between them to just barely rest where their chests were pressed together on Hermione’s left and Draco’s right. It balanced precariously there and both Draco and Hermione stared at it in fearful anticipation.
“Can you reach it?” Hermione whispered. Draco glared at her.
"Does it bloody look like I can reach it?" he asked, tilting his head at his trapped arm. “See if you can get it in your teeth,” he suggested instead.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "That seems even less likely than you getting it with your hand." She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Maybe…maybe it will still work because it’s touching us,” she said. “Try and cast something.”
Draco frowned slightly but looked down at his wand between them. “Um…Lumos,” he tried. Nothing happened.
“Lumos!” Hermione shouted. There was still no reaction and they both sighed disappointedly.
“Well, there goes that theory. Got anymore brilliant suggestions?” Draco drawled.
“Try and Accio it to your hand,” she said. “But be careful not to be-“
“-too forceful…” Hermione finished dismally as they both watched the wand zoom like a shot from where it lay to slam into his palm and then somersault down into the abyss when he was unable to grab it quickly enough.
“FUCK!” Draco roared. Hermione shushed him forcefully and then tilted her ear downward.
“Damn it,” she said a moment later, raising her head.
“What?” Draco glowered at her.
“I was listening,” she explained, “to see if I could hear it hit the bottom so I could gauge how deep this goes.”
“And I couldn’t hear anything.”
Draco let his head fall back. “Lovely.” He sighed heavily. “What about your wand?”
“It’s locked in my specimen trunk,” Hermione answered regrettably. “So, unless you want a heavy, wooden box full of glass jars tumbling down here with us, my wand’s not an option.”
Draco frowned and they remained in silence for a moment until he spoke again. “Who knows that you’re here?”
Hermione exhaled a troubled breath. “No one,” she answered quietly. “I…I talked to my mum on the telephone just before I left the house…told her I was going out, but I didn’t say where.”
“What about Weasley?” Draco inquired. “Or Potter?”
Hermione shook her head. “They’re out on week-long field ops…the final phase of their Auror training. They left two days ago to destinations unknown,” she said miserably. “What about you?”
“No one knows that I’m out here,” Draco answered. “My parents are still on house arrest and I regularly stay elsewhere. It’ll be too late by the time they start to worry…”
He closed his eyes then and also shook his head against the rocky wall.
“We’re going to die in here,” he sighed. “That’s it…the Malfoy line ends with me rotting away in a hole next to a Mudblood.”
Hermione glared at the Mark on his arm and wrinkled her nose. “I’m not entirely thrilled about the prospect of remaining stuck beside you either, you know.”
“Well, maybe if you had simply done as I said, we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
“You’re the one that encroached on my find,” Hermione threw back. “If this is anyone’s fault it’s yours.”
“My fault!?” he said indignantly, snapping his eyes open. “If you’d have only listened to me-”
“I’m not your bloody house elf that will just take orders, Malfoy!” Hermione interrupted angrily.
Draco sneered at her. “It was a simple request to move, you insufferable bint,” he seethed, “not an order to shine my fucking shoes…not that I’d ever trust your clumsy hands to touch my shoes.”
Hermione glared at him, lips pursed into a thin line. “Clumsy? You couldn’t even properly summon your wand a few inches,” she jabbed. “Just let it fall. It’s a wonder you ever made Seeker with such poor reflexes.”
He narrowed his eyes. “I was a damn good Seeker.”
Hermione snorted derisively. “Harry beat you every time.”
“Potter’s a cheating bastard,” Draco grumbled and Hermione laughed.
“Sour grapes,” she said. “You always were jealous of him.”
“Yeah, fucking right,” he snarled. He screwed up his face then as he tried again to twist his body within the tight space.
“Stop,” Hermione grunted in pain again as his right shoulder and hip shoved her harder into the stone around them.
“No,” Draco said, “I’m getting the hell out of this hole.” He tapped his feet around the small ledges about the walls below them and, when he felt a foothold, tried to push himself up with his legs. The action managed to move them both upwards slightly but forced his wedged left arm against a sharp facet. He cursed and immediately let them lower back to their previous position as blood began to trickle down his arm.
“Damn it,” he said, turning the forearm as far as he could to see the long gash the stone had cut into his skin.
“That was brilliant,” Hermione said dryly with a wince. “Now that you’ve managed to cut yourself and scrape my back all to hell against these rocks, do you think you could stop being stupid?”
“I’m trying to save our arses,” Draco snapped at her. “Can’t do that by doing nothing.”
Hermione exhaled deeply and turned her attention back up to the opening. She squinted her eyes into the small amount of light that was filtering down to them and then shouted.
“For Merlin’s sake,” Draco cringed as her voice echoed loudly around them, but Hermione kept on.
“HELP! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME!? HELP US!”
“STOP!” Draco hollered over her. “You sound like a dying animal. You’re going to attract predators.”
Hermione stopped and raised an eyebrow at him. “We currently are dying animals.”
Draco blinked at her and then turned his face upwards. “HELP!! HELP US!”
Hermione rolled her eyes at him once before calling out again as well. Crumbs of dirt from above and loose, dusty earth from the walls rained down on them as their combined shouts carried up the fissure and vibrated against them. They went on for several minutes until the dust became too much and Hermione started coughing again.
Draco tilted his head away from her when she did and a piece of dirt fell directly into his right eye.
“Fuck!” he cried, slamming his eyelid shut against the foreign material. He attempted to reach his hand over to rub at it, but couldn’t manage it. He opened the eye only to immediately squeeze it closed again when the pain proved too much. Involuntary tears leaked down his cheeks as Hermione continued to cough and wheeze. It was another several minutes before the air cleared, Hermione’s hacking stopped, and Draco’s tears dislodged the dirt.
Hermione tried to calm her rate of breathing as she blinked at Draco through watery eyes. He blinked back with an equally watery set and let his head fall back into the stone again.
“No more yelling,” he sniffed quietly. They both fell silent then and alternated between closing their eyes and looking up at the light that they had no hope of reaching.
Chapter 2: Day One: Afternoon
Day One: Afternoon
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione cracked an eye open at the sound of pained hissing to see Draco examining his injured arm again with a grimace.
“Does it hurt?” she asked, opening her eyes all the way. He shot her a scathing glare.
“No,” he spat sarcastically, “it feels wonderful.”
Hermione pursed her lips. “How bad is it?”
Draco didn’t answer and simply turned his face away from hers.
“How deep is it?” she tried again. Draco sighed and tilted his forearm to look at the gash.
“Deep,” was all he said before relaxing the arm and looking despondently upward.
“Is it still bleeding?” Hermione asked, trying to stretch her neck to look at the other side of his arm.
“No,” he answered curtly. “It barely bled at all actually. I don’t know that a whole lot of blood is getting to it at this high of an angle.”
“And it still hurts?”
Draco snapped an annoyed face to her. “Yes, Granger. My arm fucking hurts. It’s gouged all to hell and it’s full of dirt and it’d help if you stopped asking about it!”
Hermione furrowed her brow at the limb. “There’s dirt in it?”
Draco snorted irritably and shook his head as he tried to ignore her again.
“If there’s dirt in it it’s going to get infected,” she said.
“Brightest witch of our age,” Draco muttered mockingly, “knows that dirt in a wound causes infection. How utterly brilliant you are.”
Hermione glared at him. “I’m only trying to help.”
“And how precisely is that helping?” Draco barked back. “Do you have a way of cleaning it for me?”
“No,” she admitted reluctantly, “I don’t.”
“Then there’s no reason to harp on the fact is there?”
Hermione turned her face away from him and frowned at the wall.
“Don’t know why you care, anyway,” she heard Draco grumble quietly. She glanced back at him to see him glowering at nothing.
“Why do you hate me?” she asked. Draco’s eyes shuttered closed.
“Currently…?” he said with a tone that clearly conveyed that he was losing patience, “because you won’t shut your trap. Can’t you just let a man die in peace?”
“I doubt there’ll be anything peaceful about the way we die in here,” Hermione sighed. Draco opened his eyes and arched an eyebrow at her.
“No resilient and foolish Gryffindor notion of hope for our rescue?”
Hermione shook her head sadly and gazed longingly back up toward the light. “Nothing short of a miracle will save us from this.”
Draco watched her for a minute before asking, “So…how…how long do you figure we have, then?”
“We might be okay for a bit since we can at least move our legs around. If we couldn’t we’d faint within the hour from our blood pooling in our feet and then die from hypoxia,” she answered matter-of-factly.
“Cheerful,” Draco hummed sardonically.
“Yeah…make sure you move your legs vigorously every ten minutes or so…or if you begin to feel faint.”
“And assuming we don’t get too exhausted to keep doing that…how long will we have?” Draco asked.
“Well,” she replied, “given that we don’t have any acute trauma… I’d say we have a week at most. But we’ll be delirious from dehydration well before then.”
Draco frowned. “How wonderful.”
Hermione lolled her head toward him and gave him a look. “Oh, yes. First there’ll be headaches and then muscle cramps. Then our vision will go blurry and confusion will set in…That’s if we don’t suffer hypothermia or slowly suffocate from not being able to take in full breaths with the way we’re smashed in here together. And if all that’s not enough…it’s likely you’ll succumb to sepsis from that,” she added with a nod to his arm.
Draco stared at her. “A know-it-all swot to the end,” he said.
“You asked,” she shrugged.
“I asked how long we had,” he said rolling his eyes, “not for the unpleasant particulars on how we’re actually going to die.”
Hermione simply shrugged again and shut her eyes as she rested her head back. Draco scowled at her.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he demanded.
“Hmm?” she hummed in inquiry, eyes still closed.
Draco shook his head at her slightly. “You can spout off how we’re going to meet a horrific end and then just shrug it off like it’s nothing? You’re just fine with the fact that we’ll both be dead in less than a week?”
“This isn’t exactly my first time,” she answered idly.
“What?” Draco asked impatiently.
“Death,” Hermione said, finally looking at him, “I’ve faced it so many times already…I suppose I’m conditioned at this point to just accept it.”
“So you don’t care that we’re going to die?”
“Of course I care,” she frowned at him. “I’d really prefer not to die just yet…but I’m not going to get all bothered over the fact that it’s an inevitability.”
Draco merely shook his head again. “Unbelievable,” he said as he turned his attention back to his arm and flexed his fist several times with a cringe. Hermione watched him do so and furrowed her brow at his expression and then at his Dark Mark.
“Why what?” he asked, eyes still on his hand.
“Why do you hate me?”
Draco groaned. “You’re not going to stop are you?”
“Probably not,” Hermione smiled. He made a longsuffering huff and then gave her an obvious once over of what he could see.
“Okay, then…The reasons I hate you,” he started conversationally. “Well, for starters, your attitude.”
Draco nodded. “Yeah…you’re bossy and pushy and generally unpleasant. You grate on the nerves, Granger. I’m sure I’m not the first to say so either.”
Hermione simply ticked an eyebrow up at him and he narrowed his eyes back.
“Reason two,” he said, glaring up at her hair, “that fucking rat’s nest.”
“What is so bad about my hair?” she asked lightly, apparently undisturbed by his commentary.
Draco scoffed a laugh. “You’re joking, right? Do you even own a brush? You know…you needn’t worry about me dying from any infection or my legs filling with blood because I fully expect to suffocate on those ratty locks in my sleep…assuming of course we’re able to fall asleep in this godforsaken pit.”
Hermione exhaled a tired breath but otherwise still didn’t react other than to ask, “Anything else?”
Draco shrugged, looking back at the wall. “Your name is kind of annoying.”
“My name is annoying?”
“It’s difficult to pronounce and sounds like some sort of intestinal disorder,” he said.
Hermione laughed and he looked sideways at her. “I’m glad you find this topic amusing,” he said wryly.
She grinned at him. “I’ve never gotten that one before,” she said. “Over the years I’ve heard various complaints about my name but ‘intestinal disorder’ is definitely a first.”
Draco merely rolled his eyes and went back to staring at his wound.
There was another stretch of silence until Hermione said quietly, “I’m surprised.”
“By?” Draco asked without looking at her.
“The fact that my blood status was not on the list of things you hate me for.”
Draco’s brows knitted together as he glared at his arm. “No…it’s not.”
Hermione tilted her head at him. “So you called me a Mudblood earlier just for grins?”
“I was upset,” he said defensively. “If I recall I also called you a bitch and an insufferable bint…people tend to say nasty things when they’re upset.”
“So you aren’t a blood purist anymore?”
Draco took several deep breaths before he answered a short, “No.”
“So…you really don’t think of me as a filthy Mu-”
“What the fuck do you want from me!?” Draco snapped angrily, whipping his face back to her. “What do you want me to fucking say? No. No, I don’t think of you as a goddamn Muggle. I don’t look at you and automatically think ‘Mudblood’. No. No, I fucking don’t. Alright? Are we done then? Will you kindly shut the fuck up now?”
Hermione blinked at him and, at an apparent loss for what to say, simply answered with a light nod.
“Good,” Draco said, settling his head into the groove of the stone wall and closing his eyes.
Hermione stared at him for a few minutes and then followed his lead to rest her eyes. They remained in undisturbed silence for a full hour, the occasional shifting of their legs their only movement, until Hermione finally raised her head and looked down to where they were pressed together.
She tentatively tried to shift her torso to her left and then stopped when Draco made a low, annoyed rumble in his throat. She glared back at him briefly before leaning her head as far over as she could to try and peer further down at their legs as she tried to brace herself with a foot on a ledge. She carefully tried to pull her right arm and then sighed loudly in defeat when it didn’t budge.
“What is it?” Draco suddenly growled.
“Nothing,” Hermione answered, her head still craned to the side.
Draco huffed and opened his eyes to cast her a withering look. “There’s obviously something. Be out with it.”
Hermione relaxed her head back and gave him an apologetic grimace. “I can’t hold my hand back any longer.”
Draco furrowed his brow. “What?”
“My hand,” she repeated, “it’s starting to cramp from holding onto my shorts. I was trying to see if I could move it.”
“Why not just let go of your shorts?” he suggested and Hermione sighed again.
“Because…if I do then it’ll touch you,” she said, letting the hand down to demonstrate how it would rest back against his crotch. Draco flinched at the touch and Hermione moved her hand away again. “See?” she said quietly.
Draco closed his eyes again and gave a resigned sigh as he shook his head against the stone. “Just…just put it there,” he said. Hermione carefully relaxed her wrist and hand to rest against him once more.
“Sorry,” she said.
He shrugged. “Your hand is the least of my worries at the moment.”
“Meaning?” Hermione creased her brow slightly.
“Besides the fact that we’re stuck in the ground?” he said lamentably. “I need a piss.”
Hermione relaxed her face. “Oh,” she said quietly. “Do…do you want me to help you to go?”
Draco looked at her with wide eyes. “Please tell me I didn’t just hear you suggest what I think you did.”
“What?” she frowned at him, “We can’t exactly just use a toilet down here, now can we?”
“You will keep your hand on the outside of my trousers,” he cautioned her.
Hermione shrugged. “Fine…if you want to wet yourself and be even more uncomfortable…”
“I’ll just hold it,” Draco grumbled, looking away from her. She rolled her eyes and then scrunched up her face in concentration as she moved her hand away from him again to pull at the leg of her shorts.
“What are you doing?” Draco asked as he watched her apparently struggle to grasp at herself.
“You,” Hermione grunted slightly as she strained to maneuver her hand, “may not mind being wet and smelly, but I do.”
The blood drained from Draco’s face. “What are you doing?” he repeated in alarm.
“What do you think I’m doing?” she snapped back at him as she tugged the leg of her shorts and the edge of her knickers to one side.
“You are so not taking a piss right now,” he said indignantly.
“You’ll want to move your feet,” was all she said in response, bowing her head. Draco hastily held his feet as far to the sides as he could manage as she indeed proceeded to relieve herself.
“Much better,” she sighed, relaxing her hand a moment later and shimmying slightly to readjust her shorts.
“I cannot believe you just did that,” Draco said with a disgusted pout. Hermione leveled her gaze at him.
“The coming days are going to be hellish, Malfoy,” she said, sadness tinging her otherwise serious voice, “and I don’t intend to cause myself any amount of additional suffering just because you don’t want to acknowledge the fact that we will have to urinate...while we still have extra water to expel that is.”
Draco blinked at her and then scowled. “You better not take a shit in here.”
Hermione gave a tired laugh. “We probably won’t have to worry about that.” He rose an inquiring brow and she elaborated. “The human body tends to shut down the digestive tract in times of extreme stress as an evolutionary survival tactic. We’ll likely both be constipated until we die.”
Draco seemed to relax a tad at that news. “Thank Merlin for small favors,” he muttered. They hung there in silence again until he cocked his head at her. “How is it that you know all of this stuff, anyway?”
“I’ve read a lot of books,” she shrugged, letting her eyes travel sadly around at the barren, rocky walls.
“Of course you have,” Draco said, a small teasing smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “So tell me something else I’m not likely to know.”
Hermione looked back at him and quirked an eyebrow at his sudden change in mood. “What?”
“Tell me something interesting.”
“Why?” she asked suspiciously and Draco rolled his eyes.
“I’m bloody bored, that’s why. So, unless you have a better idea of how to pass our time, make with the trivia.”
Hermione frowned at him for a moment but then squinted her eyes and looked up in thought. “Alright,” she said, turning a smug look to him, “Did you know that ferrets can only see in shades of red and blue?”
Draco narrowed his eyes at her.
“And that albino ferrets are cross-eyed?” she added.
“You are such a bitch,” he said. Hermione simply grinned.
“Female ferrets will die if they don’t have enough sex,” she went on. Draco looked surprised at that in spite of himself.
“Really?” he asked curiously. Hermione nodded and he leaned his head back and looked at her thoughtfully. “What else do you know about ferrets?”
“Ferrets will dance both when threatened and when happy,” she said, “and they’re in the same family as weasels and otters.”
Draco’s brow furrowed slightly at that last tid bit. “Otters, really?”
Hermione nodded again, then rested her head back carefully. “Two very different animals…that are in many ways the same.”
Draco eyed her for a moment and then said, “Tell me about otters.”
Chapter 3: Day One: Night
Day One: Night
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"I can't hold it anymore," Draco said.
Hermione startled out of the uneasy rest she’d fallen into after their hours-long trivia session and looked at him.
"What?" she asked sleepily.
"I can't hold it anymore!" he said urgently. "Fuck, I waited too long. Hurry!"
Hermione blinked to attention and gawked at him. "What do you-"
"Hurry!" he repeated desperately, "I don't want to piss myself!"
"You...you actually want me to help you go?" she asked hesitantly, "As in..."
Draco's face was screwed-up in pain, "Yes, goddamn it! Now, right now!"
Spurred on by his frantic tone, Hermione quickly felt around for the zipper of his trousers.
"Shite, you have like two seconds!" Draco warned right as she tugged the zipper open. She bit her lip and turned an uncomfortable expression to the wall as she slipped her fingers into his pants and gently grasped his penis.
Draco sucked in a breath at the touch but said nothing as Hermione rather deftly pulled him free and then held him slightly downward.
"Go," she instructed and Draco bowed his head and let out a loud moan of relief as he finally emptied his bladder into the blackness beneath them.
“Are you done?” Hermine asked awkwardly a minute later. Draco bobbed his still bowed head up and down in a nod.
“Yeah,” he said in a hoarse whisper. Hermione lightly shook him and then tucked him back into his pants and carefully rezipped his trousers. Draco made a snorting noise and shook his head as he lifted it.
“Leave it to you, Granger,” he said, “to even be a know-it-all when it comes to how men put themselves away after a leak.”
Hermione looked uncomfortable again. “I only put it back where it belonged.”
“You shook it off first,” Draco said. “What bloody book told you to do that?”
“I lived outdoors with two men for the better part of a year, Malfoy,” she said somewhat defensively, “there isn’t much about the functions of the male body that I don’t know about.”
Draco made a face. “Weasley always was rather crude.”
Hermione simply frowned at him before tilting her head away from him to stare at the wall.
“How are they anyway?” Draco asked after a minute of tense silence. “Weasel and Potter? Still off saving the world by the sound of it.”
“What do you care?” Hermione replied tersely.
Draco shrugged and rested his head back. “I suppose I don’t.”
Hermione glared at the wall for several more minutes until she finally, quietly said, “Ginny’s pregnant and Gabrielle wants Ron to move to France.”
Draco looked surprised by her sudden disclosure. “Weasley’s pregnant?”
“They haven’t announced it yet,” Hermione nodded lightly, “Only Ron and I know and that’s only because…”
She choked-up and closed her eyes. Draco shook his torso against hers. “Granger?”
Hermione suddenly burst into tears. “He…Harry asked us to be the godparents,” she blubbered miserably, trying to hide her face to the side. “Instead now…I get to spend an eternity stuck in a hole.”
Draco frowned at her. “So much for not getting bothered,” he said. She shot him a watery glare that ended up looking squinty as she tried to see him through the rapidly increasing darkness of the approaching night.
“Fuck you,” she snapped at him. Draco simply stared at her.
“Your hand’s in the right place whenever you’re ready, Granger,” he said flatly. Hermione’s lip pulled up in disgust.
“Pig,” she muttered, looking away from him again.
“Oh, get over yourself,” Draco said. Hermione glowered disapprovingly as she turned her face back to him.
“You know wha- aahh! What the hell was that!?” she jerked her head to the side, her retort instantly forgotten, when something suddenly flew past them.
Draco blinked up furiously to the dusk darkening sky above to try and see what had come up from the abyss below them.
“I…I think that was a bat,” he said. If it had been lighter, he would’ve seen the blood drain from Hermione’s face.
“A bat?” she whispered fearfully, leaning her head even further away from where the thing had come up. Another bat flapped past just then and she shrieked.
“This must be an opening to a bat cave,” Draco cringed as several more black blurs brushed by his bad arm.
“Cave?” Hermione whimpered. “But bats live in colonies of thousands.”
No sooner had the words left her lips than a steady torrent of wings unleashed around them in the tight cavern as the bats rose towards the freedom of the skies.
Hermione’s screams joined the shrill, screechy chirping of the innumerable flying mammals as she and Draco instinctively shut their eyes and bowed their heads together.
Bats upon bats upon bats flew in seemingly endless swirls about them. Several minutes passed and Hermione’s screams had ebbed into sobs as she pressed her face into Draco’s neck. Draco had his face pressed equally hard against hers as he grimaced.
“Fucking stop already!” Draco yelled desperately at the bats that continued assaulting them. “Fuck!”
It was another half hour before the last stragglers made their way out.
Neither Hermione nor Draco dared lifting their heads as they trembled against each other.
“How long until they come back?” Draco mumbled into her shoulder.
“I….I don’t… know,” Hermione sniffled miserably.
“Calm down,” Draco said softly. Hermione’s breath stuttered with the left-over spasms of her sobbing, but she nodded against him as she willed herself to calm.
When she was finally quiet a few minutes later, Draco tentatively blinked open his eyes.
“Whoa,” he breathed out.
“What?” Hermione asked anxiously.
“It’s so dark,” he answered as he stared around at the total darkness that had fallen. Hermione opened her eyes and quickly closed them again with a whimper.
“So dark,” Draco repeated in awe at the absolute blackness.
“And cold,” Hermione added, shivering against the hard body pressed in with her.
Draco groaned. “This just keeps getting better and better.”
“And it’s only day one,” Hermione whispered grimly. Draco nestled his cheek more comfortably on her shoulder.
“We’ll only have to worry about day one if it gets much colder,” he said.
“As deep as we are, I doubt the temperature’s fluctuated much, actually,” Hermione replied. Draco rolled his eyes in the dark.
“Do tell, All-Knowing One,” he drawled snidely, “just how much you know about ground temperatures.”
It was Hermione’s turn to roll her eyes. “Temperatures remain fairly constant underground… until you really start getting closer to the core, of course. It could be snowing or sweltering up top-side and it’d still be the same temperature in here.”
“Which is?” Draco inquired impatiently.
“I’m your personal thermometer now?” she spit back. “I don’t know exactly.”
He practically growled. “Merlin…is everything so fucking difficult with you? Is it cold enough for us to get hypothermia or not? ‘Cause it certainly feels like it is!”
Hermione audibly harrumphed. “I don’t know. Maybe? We’ve gone the better part of a day so far without going into shock so…”
“Well, either way it’s terribly uncomfortable,” he groused. “Are we just going to shrug and hope we don’t freeze to death?”
Hermione thought for a moment. “We…we could try warming charms, I suppose,” she said quietly. “I think they’d be enough to get us through the night more comfortably at least.”
Draco sniffed. “Warming charms? Done with the wands we have no access to?”
“It’s a simple enough spell,” Hermine went on, “and I once read that the strength of wandless spells can be intensified if done in tandem between two or more witches or wizards.”
Draco was quiet as he considered the idea. “I’ve never tried casting a warming charm wandlessly,” he admitted.
“Worth a try?”
Draco shrugged to himself. “How do we go about tandem casting, then?”
“Well,” she started, looking to where she knew his face was, “it requires skin to skin contact and supposedly works best when hands are linked, but as that’s not possible in our current state I think if we touch our foreheads together it might be sufficient.”
“Cheek to cheek would allow more touching surface area,” Draco suggested.
“Yeah…I, uh…didn’t think you’d be comfortable with that,” Hermione said quietly.
Draco shrugged again. “You’ve already had your hand on my dick and bawled all over my neck…I think I can handle your face touching mine.”
Hermione made a hmming noise. “I just thought it was a little more intimate than you’d be-”
“Are we going to do this or not?” Draco interrupted. “I’m freezing.”
Hermione frowned at him in the dark. “You’re not freezing, you’re just cold.”
“Same fucking difference,” he said irritably. “Can we do this now?”
“Put your cheek to mine then,” Hermione ordered. Draco pushed his face forward in search of hers in the blackness and their noses met. They both stilled for the briefest of moments before Draco ran his nose along the side of her face as a guide to rest his cheek in the right place against hers.
“Now what?” he asked awkwardly.
“Just…just concentrate and try to project the same energy you’d normally send through your wand for the spell through where we’re touching instead,” she instructed. “And it will probably be easier if we speak the incantation out loud in unison.”
“Alright,” Draco sighed, “simple warming charm with standard pronunciation?”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “We give it a go on three?”
Draco nodded his head slightly and Hermione did the quick countdown.
“Facietus calor,” each heard the other whisper near their ear after ‘three’. A tiny pulse of hot air emitted from between their cheeks but faded almost immediately.
“It worked!” Draco said excitedly.
“Yeah, but not well enough. We’ve got to put more into it,” Hermione said, trying to press more of her skin to his.
“Let’s just keep saying it and see if it builds,” Draco suggested. Hermione nodded against him in agreement and they each took a deep breath.
“Facietus calor,” they both said again, slightly louder than before. Another wave of heat spread over their faces and, encouraged by the small success, they kept at it.
Their voices rose with each repetition of the incantation and they were soon chanting steadily in time, eyes closed, faces pressed together, as a blanket of warmth surrounded them.
When the temperature reached a nearly uncomfortable level they trailed off together and let their heads sag against each other.
“Holy shit,” Draco panted, “we did it.”
“Yeah,” Hermione breathed back, “who would have thought…”
Draco let his head fall down to rest on her shoulder. “Ugh, though… I feel like I just sprinted to London and back.”
“We used too much energy,” Hermione replied, dropping her own head down exhaustedly. “This heat will have to last. I doubt we’ll be strong enough to repeat that more than once a day….especially with having to keep moving our legs…and without sustenance.”
“You know,” Draco said, blowing blindly at several stray strands of Hermione’s hair that were tickling his nose, “if it weren’t for the throbbing pain and thirst and hunger and bats and looming threat of death…this just might be cozy.”
Hermione chuckled tiredly. “Yes, Malfoy…that’s about it in a nutshell. If everything was different….we might be cozy.”
“If everything was different,” Draco echoed so quietly she barely heard him. Hermione sighed and shifted her head against him in an attempt to get more comfortable.
“We should probably try to get some sleep while it’s still warm and the bats are gone,” she suggested. “Do you want the first watch or shall I take it?”
Draco looked confused. “Watch?”
“One of us always has to be awake to rouse the other. We have to wake each other every fifteen minutes to move our legs.”
“Remind me why we have to do that again?” he asked, his voice clearly relaying the dread of the prospect of nights with only quarter hour intervals of sleep.
Hermione sighed. “Because…we are suspended vertically. Gravity is pulling our blood into our feet and our hearts are not strong enough to pull it all up on their own. We have to move our legs to help pump it back into circulation.”
“And if we don’t, then…”
“Then we’d eventually pass out and die,” she said matter-of-factly. “It’s imperative that we do not lose consciousness.”
“How long would we last if we did?” he asked.
Hermione was quiet a moment. “If we weren’t magical,” she finally replied, “we’d probably be dead already. The extra energy afforded to us by our magical cores is the only thing giving us enough strength to keep moving our legs as often as we are in this position. So…I don’t really know how long exactly. Fifteen minutes is probably pushing it, but we must sleep to recharge our cores…otherwise we die anyway.”
Draco raised his head back up. “For once, Granger, I’m glad that you’re a know-it-all,” he said.
Hermione made another sad, tired chuckle but merely said, “So, are you taking first watch then?”
He glanced down to where he knew her face was in the dark. “Yeah,” he said, “get some sleep.”
Chapter 4: Day Two: Morning
Day Two: Morning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Draco jerked awake at Hermione’s kick and then cried out as his head slammed painfully back into the rock wall behind him.
“Are you okay?” Hermione asked quietly. Draco didn’t answer as he blinked against the pain until it faded and then squinted at her in the dark.
“Move your legs,” she reminded, watching him glance groggily around to gain his bearings.
“Oh, gods,” he groaned miserably as he tried to stretch his muscles.
“I know,” Hermione said softly, “my body aches too.”
“This is a bit more than an ache,” Draco said with a grimace. He squinted his eyes harder to see through the eerie dark grey shadow they were bathed in. “How….how long was I out? What time is it?”
Hermione shook her head. “You were out nearly thirty minutes. I had to kick you about ten times to get you to wake up,” she said, her tone accusatory.
Draco frowned at her. “Like I can help it? I’m tired. I lost two of my turns when those damn bats came back.”
Hermione sneered at him. “I didn’t exactly get to snooze peacefully through that either.”
Draco furrowed his brow slightly as he ignored her and continued to look blearily around. “Why is it still so dark? It has to be close to morning.”
A soft rumble of thunder answered him and they both looked at each other with wide eyes.
“Rain,” Hermione said anxiously, her brow knitted in worry. “The forecast did call for storms.”
“But that means we’ll have water,” Draco noted. “It’ll help us survive longer.”
“Yes, but we’ll be wet,” she said seriously, “and that means we’ll get colder. You thought last night’s spellcasting took a toll… imagine having to dry AND warm ourselves AND kick our legs.”
Draco gave her a troubled look and tilted his face upward again. “Maybe we’ll be shielded from the worst it,” he proposed lamely.
Hermione didn’t look convinced as she too glanced up. “We’ll see I suppose.”
“Think it’ll be enough to wash this out at least?” Draco asked, leaning his head over to inspect his wound. He wrinkled his nose at it.
“What’s the matter?” Hermione asked in concern.
Draco shook his head slightly. “It looks worse.” He flexed his fingers and winced. “Hurts worse too.”
Hermione frowned at his arm. “I doubt a bit of rain water will be enough to combat whatever infection is almost surely already proliferating in there.”
“A morning full of happy news,” Draco drawled.
“At least you didn’t suffocate on my rat’s nest,” Hermione offered.
He looked back at her at that and let his eyes roam over her disheveled hair before meeting her gaze. “A small victory,” was all he said before sighing and cracking his neck to one side. “But I suppose I’ll take it.”
Hermione hummed and laid her head down on his shoulder. “I’m hungry,” she whispered after a minute of silence between them. Draco rested his head back and sighed again.
“Yeah,” he said.
“If you could eat anything right now, what would you choose?” she asked softly.
Draco turned his face toward her and closed his eyes as he inhaled deeply. “Apples,” he answered. Hermione sniffed in amusement.
“Really? Of everything in the whole world to choose from you go with apples?”
“Apples,” he merely repeated, resting his cheek against the top of her head. Hermione looked slightly stunned at the intimate gesture, but didn’t pull away.
“You…you know what I would choose?” she asked. Draco hummed inquiringly and she smiled. “I’d want a large, buttery bacon sarnie.”
Draco moaned. “I thought you were against intensifying our suffering,” he teased.
“Imagine it,” she went on, “all piled high and greasy and terrible for you but…mmm.”
Draco smiled at the thought of such a sandwich. “You are evil.”
Hermione chuckled. “No…I’m hungry.”
There was suddenly another loud clap of thunder.
“Sounds like the storm’s getting closer,” Draco noted, glancing up again.
“Yeah,” Hermione agreed dismally. They simply listened to the steadily increasing sounds of wind and thunder for a bit until Draco lifted his head again and cleared his throat.
“I, uh…I need to relieve myself again,” he said awkwardly.
Hermione raised her head as well and tried to give him an encouraging smile. “Yeah, I figured you would. I went already too, just before I woke you.”
She reached her hand up to his zipper but he flinched.
“What’s wrong?” she frowned at him. “It’s a little late to be shy.”
Draco frowned right back at her before turning his face away uncomfortably.
“Fine…hold it again,” Hermione shrugged impatiently.
“No,” Draco puffed in resignation, “I need to go. I…I just…I thought it would’ve gone down by now, but…”
He popped his hips at her as an explanation for his hesitancy and she cocked her head at him.
“Really?” she asked half-amused at the feel of his morning erection against her hand. “You’re embarrassed about a bit of morning wood?”
“Jesus,” Draco looked at her with something akin to surprise, “are you always this blunt?”
Hermione scowled at him. “I do believe I mentioned that I’m familiar with the workings of the male body, yes? Besides…it’s perfectly natural. Why bother being embarrassed about it?”
Draco simply glared at her for a moment. “I’m not embarrassed,” he sneered. “I’m just a bit uncomfortable with the idea of you fondling my cock, thanks.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Because that’s right at the top of my list of things to do just now,” she said sarcastically, “fondle your pureblood prick in this oh so erotic setting.”
“Well, you did offer to fuck me once already,” he snipped back. Hermione shook her head at him and stared off at the wall.
“Well…?” Draco said after a minute.
“Well what?” Hermione asked without looking at him.
“I still need to go.”
“Good for you.”
Draco glowered. “I can’t hold it much longer.”
“Then just go.”
“I’m not wetting myself,” he frowned.
“Why not?” Hermione said, trailing her eyes up to the sky. “If this rain ever actually comes we’re both going to be soaked anyway.”
Draco’s expression shifted to one of reluctant desperation. “Please, Granger… I’m already going to die miserably in this pit. I’d like to save what little dignity I’ve left to me.”
“You consider my helping you urinate a way to maintain your dignity?” she scoffed.
“It’s better than messing myself, yes,” he answered sourly.
Hermione looked back at him and studied his pleading eyes. “Fine,” she relented, drawing-out the word with a huff. She quickly undid his trousers and felt inside his pants for him.
Draco scrunched-up his face slightly as he tried not to react to her touch again as she pulled his still hard length free. “You’re, uh…you’re gonna have to sort of angle him downward, but not too far or it’ll cut-off the flow,” he tried to instruct.
Hermione shot him a glare. “I do understand the laws of physics,” she snapped as she followed his order. But Draco didn’t bother responding as he closed his eyes and started to go.
“You know,” Hermione said as she held him, “I’m impressed you managed a REM sleep cycle. Humans only have morning erections when they-“
“Please stop talking,” Draco interrupted crossly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I really don’t know why you’re embarrasse-“
“I’m not fucking embarrassed!” he spat, opening his eyes. “I’m trying to block out the reality of who is handling me!”
“You asked me to!” she snarled back, letting go of him instantly to grip her shorts.
“I know I fucking asked you to!”
“Then what is your problem, you arsehole!?”
“You!” he snapped. “It’s not going to go down with your shrill voice reminding me of the fact that it’s your hand on it!”
Hermione’s brows rose into her scalp. “What?”
“Goddamn it!” Draco roared, turning his face upward to curse the heavens. “Get me out of this fucking hole!”
Hermione stared at him wide eyed. “Malfoy-”
“This is all your fault! You stupid, stubborn…you, you…gah!”
“My fault!?” Hermione yelled back.
“You grabbed me!” he shot back with a glare.
“I was falling! Because of you!” she countered.
“So you thought you’d take me down with you!? Smart. Real fucking smart,” he sneered. “If you’d have fallen by yourself I could’ve gotten help. But noooo. Had to drag me into hell with you!”
“You wouldn’t have helped me,” Hermione spit venomously. “You would’ve watched me disappear and then collected the plants and been on your merry way!”
Draco’s glare was molten. “You know nothing about what I would or wouldn’t do,” he seethed.
“Oh, I think I have a very good idea of the lengths you’re willing to go to for your own benefit,” she said, casting a pointed glance to his Dark Mark. Draco looked at the faded black stain himself and suddenly looked like he’d swallowed a fly.
“Yeah,” he said, his voice dripping with bitterness, “yeah, I suppose you would.”
It was clear from Hermione’s immediate change of expression that she regretted the words she’d just said. “Malfoy, I –“
“Just shut up,” he said quietly, looking off at the wall.
“Just shut up!” he snapped. “Shut the fuck up. Shut. Up.” He closed his eyes and his bottom lip trembled fiercely. “Please,” he whispered, “just…be quiet.”
Hermione watched him silently for a few minutes and, when he finally appeared to calm some, she let go of her shorts. Without a word, she reached forward. Draco’s eyes snapped open when she took hold of him, but Hermione was looking away as she simply put the notably soft bit of him back into his pants.
When she was done, she lowered her head onto his shoulder and closed her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said very quietly. There was a long tense silence until she spoke again. “We, uh…we should probably just keep taking turns sleeping today, at least until the rain comes, to keep up our strength,” she said very softly. “Please wake me in fifteen.”
Draco leaned his head back as some of Hermione’s curls tickled at his face. He blew at one and then stared down at the mess of hair. Spring tight curls and frizzing, loose strands were tangled together in a mass of brown color ranging from near blonde to near black and every shade in between.
He stared at the rainbow of brunette curls for several minutes before he leaned his face down. He hesitated for only a moment and then lightly pushed his nose into her hair and drew in a long, slow breath. Hermione shifted her head on his shoulder and he jerked his face back again and leaned it against the rock.
Tears welled up in his grey eyes but he forcibly blinked them away after looking ruefully at his Mark and then focused his attention up at the untouchable sky above.
“I’m sorry too,” he whispered so quietly the words came out in more of a breath. “Every day of my life.”
He watched the grasses at the edge of the crevice dance in the wind of the coming storm and then sighed as he began to silently count to himself.
“One, two, three, four…”
Chapter 5: Day Two: Afternoon
Day Two: Afternoon
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Gah!” Draco lifted his head and shook it.
“What’s the matter?” Hermione asked in alarm, lifting her head as well.
“Rain’s finally here,” he said, scrunching up his cheek where the water had landed on him. “A raindrop just hit me.”
They both looked up and then quickly bowed their heads when they were lightly sprinkled on with the beginnings of the shower.
“Ugh,” Hermione groaned at the feel of the cold moisture, “this is going to be miserable.”
“We’re already miserable,” Draco said before sticking out his tongue to try and catch one of the sparsely falling drops on it. “But at least we won’t be thirsty anymore,” he added after pulling his tongue back and licking his lips.
“This isn’t enough to quench a thirst, though,” she said after briefly sticking out her own tongue. “It’s just enough to be annoying.”
Draco tilted his face upward and squinted into the dark grey clouds high above just as they decided to open up. “You were saying!?” he shouted, blinking the water furiously from his eyes as they were suddenly deluged upon.
Hermione grimaced as the water pelted them hard but Draco simply turned his face up again and opened his mouth wide. He gulped down a huge mouthful of the rain.
“Oh, fuck yeah,” he gasped satisfactorily, opening up for more. Hermione watched him drink greedily for a moment and then opened her own mouth and tried to tilt her head back to get a good angle to collect the falling water. The stone ledge just behind her neck, however, prevented her from leaning it back far enough to get any substantial amount of rain into her mouth.
“I…I can’t get my head back far enough,” she said frantically, trying to twist her neck in any direction she could. “I can tilt it down, but not back! Damn it!” she cursed with a whimper.
She jutted out her chin and spit her tongue out as far as it would go to try and gather a drink but ended up spluttering and choking out what she managed to collect as the speeding, fat raindrops hit the flattened muscle and splattered haphazardly to send water shooting up her nose and down her windpipe.
“Mmm mmmm mmm.”
Hermione stifled her coughing to squint at Draco through the steady sheet of rain. He was looking at her with wide eyes, his cheeks puffed out, mouth obviously filled with water.
“What?” she asked in a panicky voice.
“Mmm mmmm mmm mmmm,” Draco mumbled hummed at her again and she made a desperate whinging sound.
“Malfoy, I can’t understand you with your mouth full of water!”
Draco rolled his eyes and swallowed the large gulp. “I said take some from me.”
Hermione gaped at him. “What…out of your mouth?”
“Yeah,” he answered, already turning his head up again to collect more. He lowered his face with another mouthful to see her still staring at him in disbelief.
“Mmm mmmm,” he sounded, stretching his neck toward her and nodding his head slightly to gesture that she should come forward to meet him. She still didn’t move and he rolled his eyes again and swallowed.
“Damn it, Granger,” he said, “You’re wasting time that you could be drinking. We have no idea how long this will last.”
“But…” she started and he furrowed his brow at her.
“Would you prefer to try and lick enough off my neck?”
Hermione pulled an appalled face at that suggestion and Draco snorted at her.
“I thought so,” he said before starting to collect more rain. A few seconds later his cheeks were filled again and he leaned forward. Hermione hesitated a moment, her eyes on his pursed lips, but finally brought her face forward. She pressed her lips to his and he carefully opened them slightly to allow the water to flow to her.
Hermione’s eyes shuttered closed at the feel of the life-giving liquid wetting her parched throat as she swallowed. She quickly opened them again when Draco pulled back and opened his mouth to the sky for more.
“Mmm,” he offered her the newest mouthful. She quickly leaned in and drank from him again. She moaned appreciatively as she gulped down the larger amount he gave her.
Draco smirked at her when he released his mouth from hers. “That was kinda hot,” he said tauntingly, smacking his lips.
“Arsehole,” she said, scrunching her nose in distaste. Draco merely smirked wider before gathering more rain and swallowing it down.
He gave her a nasty grin through the torrent. “Care for more?”
Hermione scowled at him and Draco shrugged and then helped himself to another drink. And then another.
“Mmm mmmm?” he ‘asked’, offering her another mouthful after a third of his own.
Hermione stared at him and then his mouth, looking very much at war with herself. Draco's one brow ticked up in quiet amusement as he watched her face clearly shift with the emotions of her inner conflict.
"Mm mmm," he said after a moment with a shrug that suggested he was about to give-up on her and keep drinking for himself.
"Wait," Hermione said just as he went to swallow. She said nothing else, but simply leaned her face toward him. Draco slowly closed the tiny distance and very deliberately set his lips to hers as they made eye contact.
Grey eyes and brown eyes locked in a silent war, barely blinking despite the rain dripping from their lashes, as the water passed from one to the other. When the last of the mouthful was transferred… neither moved.
It was Draco that pulled away first. He licked his bottom lip once and then without a word tipped his head back for more rain. Hermione cast a pensive glare to his shoulder as she waited for him to take his drink and then refill with an ‘mmm’ for her attention.
They took turns drinking then, their eyes carefully averted from each other until Hermione finally shook her head.
“I…I can’t do anymore,” she said, turning her face away from him. Draco watched her rest her cheek against the slick stone wall and then close her eyes. He travelled his own eyes around the crevice.
“It’s too bad no one will be out in this rain,” he said, tossing his head slightly, flinging his soaked fringe from his forehead.
“Why?” Hermione asked.
Draco furrowed his brow at a line of mud that was trickling down from the wall and over one of her shoulders in a thick stream to seep between them.
“Because,” he answered, “with the dirt and dust all wet, we would’ve been able to yell for help again without the vibrations making a cloud.”
“Doubt it would’ve mattered,” she said quietly. “We’re in the middle of nowhere.”
Draco’s mouth twisted in thought as he squinted up into the still steadily falling rain. “We ran into each other all the way out here at the same time without meaning to.”
Hermione blinked open her eyes at that and slowly turned her face back to him. “How did you learn about this place?”
“Mundungus Fletcher,” he said, shaking the dripping water from his face again. “He tipped me off that this area was rumored to contain potion-grade plants.”
“You’re friendly with Dung?” she asked incredulously.
Draco snorted. “If by friendly you mean I pay him as an informant then yes.”
Hermione frowned slightly.
“And you?” Draco asked. “How did you know to come out here?”
“Ron told me,” she answered, her frown deepening as she noticed the mud spreading over herself. “The Auror department’s been tasked with locating and eradicating invasive magical species here. They’re supposed to clear the whole area next month. He let me in on the secret…he knows how hard I work to keep my home potion business profitable and figured I’d appreciate the free ingredients.”
“More like it’d be less work for him later if you cleared it all away first,” Draco said with an eye roll.
Hermione smiled sadly as she released an amused sniff. “Probably true,” she sighed.
“I still can’t believe that tosser married a veela.”
“Quarter veela,” Hermione corrected him. “And her name’s Gabrielle.”
“Yeah,” Draco scowled slightly, “I remember the incessant newspaper headlines and magazine covers, thanks.”
Hermione hummed and closed her eyes against the rain. Draco studied her for a moment.
“I always figured you’d have ended up with the Weasel,” he said casually.
“No,” Hermione said quietly, “apparently I ‘grate on the nerves’.”
Draco’s face went blank. “He said that?”
She sighed audibly through the sounds of the storm. “No… he didn’t. He was surprisingly tactful when he ended it.”
“He ended it? He left you for her?”
Hermione didn’t bother answering and Draco watched her for a moment.
“He always was a moron,” he said casually. Hermione opened her eyes and blinked in an attempt to clear her lashes of water.
"Look...” she said with huff, “if you're trying to provoke me into some woe-is-me-because-my boyfriend-dumped-me-two-years-ago-for-another-woman confession to try and make me feel small, don't bother. Ron and I are still very good friends, and I am happy for him. And not that it's really any of your business, but he met Gabby after we broke up. So, just stop, okay?"
Draco simply stared back at her until she frowned uncomfortably and closed her eyes again with a small shake of her head. The motion caused one of her soggy curls to plaster across her face.
“Ugh,” she groaned, shaking her head harder to try and dislodge the hair. She only succeeded in causing more hair to stick to her cheeks and whip Draco in the face with the longer tendrils.
“Stop!” he demanded, attempting to hold his head far enough away from her to avoid being hit again.
Hermione halted her movements. “Help?” she whimpered, one of her eyes peering pleadingly at him through the crisscrossing strands of hair covering her face. Draco snorted in amusement as he took in the sight of her.
“Told you that hair’s a menace,” he said smugly. Hermione made a whinging noise as she wrinkled her nose under her hair.
“Could you please stop being awful for just one moment and help me?” she begged.
Draco smirked, flicking his own short fringe off of his forehead effortless again. “Oh, I’m awful, am I?” he said. “Well, you are always right. I must be awful. Much too awful to help y-”
“I’m sorry I said you were awful,” Hermione interrupted desperately. “Just…Please, Malfoy…this feels horrible!”
He grinned at her sorry state for another few moments and then sighed. “Come here,” he relented, tilting his face to her. Hermione brought her head forward at once and then held still as Draco used his nose to nudge and push her hair off of her face.
“This is impossible,” he griped as individual strands stubbornly resisted his movements and remained stuck to her cheeks. “Why do you have to have so much blasted hair!?”
Hermione didn’t respond and simply kept still, her only movement being her eyes occasionally blinking away the rain that accumulated on her lids. It took several minutes before the last of her unruly, wet mane was successfully pushed aside.
“Thank you,” Hermione breathed in genuine relief when Draco finally pulled up. He looked her over and made a humming sound. “What?” Hermione asked as he continued to scrutinize her head and face.
“You know,” he said in an admiring tone, “with your hair like this, you all wet…you really look like shit.”
Hermione gaped at him for a moment and then let a small grin take over her mouth. She made a point of giving him an equally assessing once over. The rain was causing the dirt that had settled into his hair to streak down his forehead in little brown rivulets and his pale skin accentuated the tired bags under his eyes.
“Yeah,” she laughed, “you do too.”
Draco grinned right back and echoed her amusement. What started as quiet laughter from both of them quickly erupted into full blown guffaws as they stared at one another, each looking like a drowned rat as the rain kept on. Their laughter reverberated with a strange timbre as it joined the sounds of the storm, but filled the space around them as they smiled in the rain.
Chapter 6: Day Two: Night
Day Two: Night
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It was still raining.
Hermione’s teeth chattered as she burrowed her face harder into Draco’s neck. He bent his own head over the top of hers, shielding her from the bulk of the persistent, icy drops.
“C-can-can we d-do…the warm-warming charm n-now?” Draco gritted out through his own clacking teeth.
“Soo-soon,” came her muffled reply. “We-we should w-w-wait un-until it’s comple-completely d-d-dark.”
“S-s-so-so c-cold,” Draco stuttered out miserably. “P-p-pl-please-please…G-granger.”
Hermione didn’t even bother trying to argue as she simply smushed her cheek to his. It took three tries before they successfully managed to speak the spell clearly enough through their blue lips for it to work.
The heat from their casting hung around them, but they both continued to trembled and shiver against each other in silence, their cheeks still pressed firmly together as the darkness of night snuffed out all remaining light.
“I’ve never…been so cold…in my entire life,” Draco said hoarsely when they’d finally absorbed enough warmth to stop shaking. Hermione slid her face down his neck to rest her head on his shoulder again.
“I have,” she said quietly. Draco waited for her to elaborate, but she remained silent.
“Gods, this sucks,” he grumbled after a few minutes, shaking the rain from his face.
“Dreadfully,” she agreed. “But at least we won’t have to deal with the bats tonight.”
Draco’s perplexed expression was hidden by the darkness. “Why not?”
Hermione licked at the water trickling over her lips. “The rain…it disrupts their echolocation. They won’t come out in this.”
“I would have preferred the bats over this,” Draco commented as he lifted his knees to circulate his blood. He grunted with the effort and then let his legs hang limp with a wince. “My trousers are so wet they feel like they’re chafing my skin off every time I move.”
“They probably are,” Hermione said quietly.
Draco groaned and let his head fall to her shoulder. “This is fucking absurd. Of all the ways to die…”
“There are worse ways.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” he retorted.
Hermione didn’t bother responding and Draco simply settled his cheek against her soggy shoulder with a huff.
“It’s your turn to sleep,” Hermione said then. “Shall I start counting?”
Draco shook his head lightly against her. “Don’t bother. I won’t be sleeping... You want my turn?”
Hermione also shook her head. “I’m too tired to sleep,” she said. Draco gave a fatigued chuckle.
“Yeah,” was all he said.
They hung there in the total blackness with only the muted sounds of the pelting rain, the subtle movement of soaked clothing, and Draco’s increasingly strained breathing to break the silence between them.
“Are you alright?” Hermione finally asked him after she felt his chest shudder for the tenth time.
“What a stupid question,” he muttered.
Hermione lifted her head. “You’re breathing funny,” she noted.
Draco took in a deliberately steady breath. “There’s nothing wrong with my breathing,” he replied. “I’m merely trying to focus on it.”
Hermione furrowed her brows in his direction in the dark. “Why?”
A weary sigh answered her as Draco lifted his head. “Pain management,” he said. “My arm is killing me.”
“Is the breathing helping?”
Hermione carefully rested her head back against the wall. “Would you like to talk to keep your mind occupied?” she offered sincerely.
Draco hummed. “About what? Trivia? I’m not sure I can take much more.”
“It doesn’t have to be trivia,” she replied casually. “We could talk about anything. We could play a game.”
“A game?” he sniffed sarcastically. “A rousing round of chess? Exploding Snap, perhaps?”
Hermione laughed. “We could do ‘Would You Rather’…if you’d rather,” she said.
Draco hesitated. “That sounds like an invitation into dangerous territory.”
“’Yes, perhaps you’re right,” she agreed. “I imagine you’d just end up asking me obnoxiously crude questions like, say…would I rather have sex with a troll or a centaur or something.”
Draco laughed. “I’d never ask such a ridiculous question,” he said surely. “Not when the answer is so obviously troll.”
Hermione made a disgruntled noise of objection. “What!? Why would you say that?”
“You dated Weasley,” he said as if that were explanation enough.
She spluttered incoherently in indignation and Draco laughed again. “Damn,” he sighed, “I’d forgotten how much fun it is to rile you. I wish I could see your face right now.”
Hermione huffed. “You know what,” she said haughtily, “I rescind my offer to distract you. In fact… How’s that arm feeling exactly? Aching? Burning? Does the pain come in bursts or remain constant?”
“Well, look at you,” he replied proudly, “still knows how to fight dirty. I like it, Granger.”
“I do not fight dirty,” she said petulantly.
“Insufferable,” Hermione said.
“Yes,” he agreed readily, “and I’m all yours for eternity. So, how shall we get to know one another better, hmm?”
“I already made a suggestion,” she said.
“So, you can distract yourself since you didn’t like my idea.”
Hermione was quiet then and Draco wriggled himself obnoxiously against her.
“Ugh, stop it,” she snapped.
“I’m distracting myself since you won’t. This is fun.” He ground his hips into her.
She growled irritably at him. “Fine. Pick a game and I’ll play it with you. Just stop moving!”
Draco hummed victoriously before answering. “I think I’d like to play ‘Two Truths, One Lie’.”
“That sounds more dangerous than the ‘Would You Rather’ option,” Hermione opined.
“It’s just you and me forever, Granger,” he replied. “No one’ll ever know our truths but us.”
“No one but us,” she echoed hopelessly. She was quiet a moment and then, “Okay, fine. Tell me two truths and one lie, Malfoy.”
Draco shut his eyes against the dark and the rain as he began the game. “Two truths and one lie: I can draw; I own an island; I can touch my tongue to my nose.”
“Oh, god,” Hermione cringed, “you only chose this game so you could brag about yourself, didn’t you?”
“Is being able to touch my tongue to my nose a braggable trait?” he asked suggestively.
Hermione ignored the question. “So, then you don’t own an island.”
Draco tilted his head. “How do you know the drawing one isn’t the lie?”
“Well, I’ve seen you draw, so I know that’s true,” she replied at once.
“When have you seen me draw?” Draco questioned with genuine surprise.
“Fifth year,” she said, “I doubt you remember, but…in Care of Magical Creatures we had to draw bowtruckles one class. I caught a glimpse of yours and it was so realistic. I still remember how jealous it made me. Mine just looked like a stick.”
Draco smiled in her direction. “I do remember that, actually. I was so excited that I was going to get to show off my skills. It’s satisfying to learn all these years later that my artistry was able to spur jealousy.”
Hermione merely laughed.
“So,” said Draco, “you guessed correctly. I, regrettably, did not yet get around to purchasing an island.”
Hermione huffed a little but sounded rather more amused than anything and Draco went on. “Your turn. Give me two truths and a lie, Granger.”
Hermione thought for a moment. “Okay, well…Let’s see…I’ve never had Firewhiskey. I’m allergic to cats. I’ve helped Viktor Krum shave his legs.”
“Jesus,” Draco awed.
“Why in the hell did you shave Krum’s legs?”
“How do you know that’s not the lie?”
Draco snorted. “Because you’re definitely not the Firewhiskey type and I know you’re not allergic to cats. You used to nuzzle that orange monstrosity of a familiar in the halls back in the day.”
“Crookshanks wasn’t a monstrosity,” she pouted. “He was beautiful.”
“Either way, he was a damn cat. Now, make with the kinky shit on Krum.”
Hermione’s jaw fell open. “It wasn’t kinky,” she asserted. “He said it made him more aerodynamic for his Seeking and what not.”
Draco howled a laugh that echoed eerily with the rain patter. “He wears trousers during games!” he reminded her merrily. “How exactly did hairless legs make him aerodynamic!?”
“It wasn’t sexual!” she snapped at him. He merely continued to chuckle.
“Whatever you need to tell yourself,” he said.
Hermione harrumphed loudly. “It’s your turn,” she said tersely.
Draco bit his lip trying to hold back another round of laughter. “Did…did you shave Potter’s legs too?” he asked, letting out the guffaw he couldn’t keep in.
“Are we done playing the game, then?” she asked sourly.
“Oh, come on. I’m just having a bit of fun,” he said, then began to splutter and cough when he accidentally inhaled some rain with his laughing.
Hermione grinned to herself. “I believe that’s called getting smote,” she said smugly at the sounds of his wheezing.
“Yes, because being trapped in a hole in the freezing rain with you wasn’t enough,” he said when he’d cleared his throat.
“Two truths and a lie…?” she prodded impatiently. “Perhaps something a bit less egocentric this time?”
“How am I supposed to talk about myself without being egocentric?”
“Try and tell me something that’s actually interesting,” she replied.
Draco shook his head to himself as he lifted his legs again to circulate his blood. “You are such a bitch sometimes.”
“Only sometimes?” Hermione asked in a sugary voice, lifting her own legs when he stopped moving. “Well, that’s an improvement.”
“You have your moments,” he said and then was quiet.
“Malf-” Hermione started when the silence began to stretch.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a dragon tamer when I grew up,” he interrupted.
Hermione blinked against the rain and went quiet at his suddenly more serious tone as he continued the game.
“When I was twelve, my father backhanded me when I said I wished you were a pureblood,” he said.
Hermione tensed and Draco swallowed hard, the noise audible, just before he finished his turn with, “I’ve performed all three Unforgivable curses.”
Hermione said nothing and the sound of the rain seemed to grow louder in the void.
“Are those interesting enough?” Draco asked quietly.
“You never killed anyone,” Hermione said surely, though her voice was tight.
“You’re sure of that?”
She hesitated at his taunting tone. “You were found innocent,” she said uncomfortably.
“I’ve never killed another human,” Draco conceded flatly.
“The Dark Lord made me demonstrate Avadas,” he cut-in, “…on my father’s dogs.”
There was another long silence.
“Care to guess which of the other two is the lie?” Draco said snidely. “I’ll give you a hint,” he went on when Hermione still didn’t respond, “I still have a faint scar from where his ring split my cheek.”
“Your turn,” he said much louder than necessary.
Hermione stared in his direction. “Why did you wish I was a pureblood?”
“Are we changing the game?” he snipped.
“I was only curious.”
“Yeah, well…You’re not following the rules.”
“Since when have you been one to follow rules?” she tried to provoke.
Draco made a scoffing noise. “That was the problem, Granger. I always followed the fucking rules. I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice that we Malfoys had certain rules about who was worthy and who wasn’t,” he added with no small amount of bitterness.
Hermione hesitated again. “Had rules?”
“No man will ever tell me how to live my life again,” Draco said surely and then gave a mirthless chuckle as he blinked around at the dark of where they were trapped. “Literally, apparently.”
The rain pelted them as they each went quiet again.
“Shall I continue the game?” Hermione whispered after a minute.
“Two truths and one lie,” Hermione finally said. “I once obliviated my own parents. Sixth year, I saw you make a mistake in Potions and, when you weren’t looking, I fixed it for you. My favorite flower is an orchid.”
Draco was perfectly still against her. “That was you?” he said guardedly, his mood shifting at once. “The Deflating Draught.”
“You remember?” Hermione asked timidly.
“Yeah, I remember. I thought I was doomed to another detention when I saw I’d forgotten to add my plimpy gills,” Draco explained. “But it came out perfect. I assumed Theo had done it. I even bought him a bottle of Ogden’s as a thank you. That bastard just took it… It really was you that did it?”
Draco shook his head. “I’m so going to haunt Theo’s arse for that.” He paused and then, “Why did you do that?”
Hermione shrugged lightly. “I don’t know. I just…”
“You just what?” he demanded when she trailed off.
“You looked bad,” she admitted. “That year. You looked sick and stressed and I…I could see you were struggling to focus and I …I just…before I knew what I was doing, I was scraping Ron’s gills into your cauldron when you were-”
Draco cut her off. “You put Weasley’s ingredients into my cauldron?”
Hermione’s brow furrowed. “Well, he’d already bungled his potion and I’d used mine and, anyway, he never even noti-”
“You stole your best friend’s potion ingredients to help me,” he interrupted again. It wasn’t a question, but Hermione shrugged shyly again.
Lightning suddenly struck across the sky high above, briefly illuminating the crevice, allowing Draco and Hermione to each catch a glimpse of the other. The eerie purple light flashed over their stricken faces giving them both a ghostly appearance that made their breaths catch. Another series of bolts streaked across overhead and they blinked at one another in the fleeting light.
“We’re really going to die in here,” Draco whispered bleakly when the darkness engulfed them again.
“It seems that way,” Hermione agreed dismally.
The thunder rolled loud and deep while they hung there. Draco gave an exhausted sigh and carefully tilted his head back and opened his mouth to collect a drink of rain. He swallowed and then nudged Hermione lightly with his shoulder.
“Do you need a drink?”
“Don’t suppose you’ve got any wine?” she joked sadly.
Draco sniffed in amusement. “I’m afraid I’m out of wine,” he humored her, “but I can offer you the finest rain water. It’s a good vintage: four billion B.C.”
Hermione laughed. “Well, I suppose if that’s the best you can offer…”
Draco smirked to himself at that and then tilted his head back for more rain. When his mouth was full he carefully put his face forward until his nose found hers. Hermione met his movements and set her lips to his and drank as Draco let the water transfer. She swallowed it down, removing her mouth from his, but neither pulled their face away. Their breaths were warm on each other as they held their noses side by side with lips barely ghosting over the skin of the other’s cheek.
“What do you think they’ll say, Granger,” Draco whispered, “when they find our bodies like this?”
Hermione closed her eyes as she kept her face pressed close to his. “I don’t know. But I’m sure Rita Skeeter will come up with something ridiculous and rife with scandal.”
“War heroine lured by Death Eater to her untimely demise?” Draco suggested cynically.
“You are no Death Eater,” she replied seriously.
He made a sad hum. “If only that were true.”
“A Death Eater wouldn’t have cared if someone like me were thirsty and offer me water,” said Hermione. “And he certainly wouldn’t have helped me to drink it like you have. You’re much more than that mark on your arm, Draco Malfoy.”
Draco went quiet and still. Hermione waited for him to reply, but when he didn’t she simply pulled back to rest her head against the wall behind her. The minutes passed without words as the storm continued on around them.
“Malfoy…?” Hermione said a time later.
“Yeah?” came his quiet reply.
“What did you want to be when you grew-up?” she asked gently.
There was a short silence as Draco swallowed thickly. “I, um… all I really ever wanted to be was a father.”
Hermione closed her eyes at that. “I’m sorry,” she offered.
He shrugged. “I probably would’ve been a shite parent anyway…”
When Hermione didn’t respond to that, Draco lowered his head to her shoulder. “I, uh…I think I’d like to attempt to take my turn to sleep now if you don’t mind,” he said.
“Of course,” Hermione replied. She waited until he nestled his cheek more comfortably on her shoulder and then began to count.
“Granger?” Draco said suddenly just as she got to ‘ninety-one’.
“I’m…I’m sorry you won’t get to be a godmother.”
Hermione blinked against the tears that threatened to join the rain on her lashes and gently settled her head over his to shield his face from the downpour.
“Thank you,” she whispered. She placed a gentle kiss to his cheek. “Good night, Malfoy.”
Draco simply closed his eyes.
Chapter 7: Day Three: Morning
Day Three: Morning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The ground was still wet, but the rain had mercifully petered out over the course of the night. The slick walls of the crevice shone when the morning sun finally rose high enough to spill down and light up the space.
“…eight-hundred-ninety-eight, eight-hundred-ninety-nine, nine-hundred,” Draco counted out loud in a tired drone. He lightly headbutted Hermione’s sleeping face. “Rise and shine, Granger.”
Hermione groaned in her sleep and rolled her head away from his. Draco rolled his eyes.
“Get up,” he said louder, turning his shoulder into her. “Time to kick those pretty legs.”
“Stop,” she whinged, “still tired.”
“Yeah, you and me both,” he said. “Now get up. I need to pee and then I think we should start yelling.”
Hermione slowly lolled her head back around and scowled at him through sleep-heavy lids. “What?”
“Legs first,” he said, cocking an eyebrow at her reproachfully.
Hermione groaned again and shook her head slightly as she blinked the sleep from her eyes. “I wish I’d worked-out more before this,” she grumbled as she struggled to pull each leg up as high as she could several times. She relaxed her screaming thigh muscles with a pained gasp. Draco merely stared at her.
“Are you done?” he asked. She shook her head.
“Hold on,” she said as she tugged at her damp shorts. She relieved herself quickly and then went through the motions of allowing Draco to as well. When they’d finished, Hermione yawned and then looked at him expectantly.
“Now, what’s this about yelling?” she asked.
Draco scanned his eyes around at the still moist walls. “We should try yelling for help again. The rain’s gone and the dirt’s still damp so it won’t cloud up from our voices echoing.”
Hermione frowned at the idea. “No one is going to be out here just after those storms,” she said, “especially not this early in the morning.”
Draco furrowed his brow back at her. “How is it you were sorted into Gryffindor?” he asked. “Weren’t you lot all about being brave and never giving up or some shit?”
“Not wanting to waste what precious little energy we have left to us by screaming to no one doesn’t equate to a lack of will or bravery,” she answered. “It’s simple logic.”
“Here’s some logic: If someone heard us we’d be rescued and our energy level wouldn’t matter,” he snapped back.
Hermione sighed. “Scream like a banshee then,” she said. “Wake me up in fifteen.”
She laid her head back down and closed her eyes. Draco shook his shoulder roughly, jarring her.
“No,” he said firmly, “we slept most of the day yesterday. Today we need to figure out how to get the hell out of here.”
Hermione lifted her head with a heavy sigh. “Just what do you suggest? Screaming until we pass-out and die?”
Draco squinted his eyes. “We could alternate the yelling between attempts at freeing ourselves.”
“Do you have any practical ideas?” she asked in a defeated drawl.
“Actually, yes,” he answered seriously, causing Hermione’s brows to raise in interest.
“Like what?” she demanded.
“We could try Apparating.”
Hermione’s forehead scrunched up at that suggestion. “We’d almost certainly splinch ourselves, and badly. In our state, I doubt we’d survive the reassembly...that’s if we could even manage Apparating at all. First, we’d have to do it wandlessly which, even with rested cores, is difficult. And second, we have poor footing to focus our turns on. Do you honestly feel confident enough to try it?”
Draco pouted disappointedly. “No, I suppose not. But I have another idea.”
“Like?” she prompted.
Draco scanned his vision up and around the crevice as he answered. “The tandem casting. Instead of a warming charm…we could levitate ourselves.”
Hermione’s shoulders slumped. “That won’t work,” she muttered.
Draco looked back at her. “Yes, it could,” he insisted. “It’s an easy spell.”
“Malfoy,” Hermione said in an exasperated tone, “we’re much too heavy. Again…it’d be difficult to lift ourselves that height with wands and full strength. As it is…we’d maybe make it a few inches before we gave under the strain.”
“We could do it a few inches at a time,” he tried to convince her. “We’d raise ourselves a bit, then stop and brace ourselves with our freed arms. Then move a bit more when our cores built back up. Or we could even try and climb.”
Hermione looked at him sadly. “It was a nice idea,” she said.
“You won’t even try?” Draco asked angrily. Hermione twisted her lips as she considered him a moment.
“What’s with this new determination to get out? Last night you were resigned to the idea that we’re doomed.”
Draco made an impatient face. “Well, maybe I’ve just decided I don’t want to die in a hole anymore, okay? At the very least, I need to know that we actually made an effort to try and live.”
Hermione’s eyes searched his and she sighed again at the sincerity in them. “Okay,” she agreed, shrugging. “Let’s give it a go.”
Draco had opened his mouth, apparently in preparation to argue with her, but snapped it shut at her acquiescence. His eyes narrowed at her suspiciously.
“You…you’ll try it with me?” he asked.
“My hopes are not high for success,” she said honestly, “but you’re right about trying…if it means a chance of surviving, we should do it.”
Draco blinked at her a moment and then scrutinized the walls just above them. “Yeah, yeah. This could work,” he said as if to convince himself. He looked her in the eyes again. “This will work.”
Hermione simply stared back at him and he made a determined face.
“Okay, to start, we need to raise just enough to free our arms. As soon as we brace ourselves with out hands, we stop chanting. Then we can rest and then go a bit more,” he said, his eyes hopeful and desperate at once as he explained the plan.
“Whenever you’re ready then,” Hermione said anxiously, leaning her head toward his. Draco did the same and pressed their cheeks together.
“This will work, Granger,” he tried to assure her. He closed his eyes. “It has to work.”
“Wingardium then?” Hermione asked softly. Draco nodded against her without opening his eyes and she closed her own.
“On three,” she said and he nodded again. Hermione took a giant breath and then counted. When she reached ‘three’ they both began to chant. They immediately felt the pull of the spell as it worked to try and lift them, but they went nowhere.
“Damn it!” Draco cursed and Hermione started to pull her head back. “No, no, no,” he shouted, “we’re trying again!”
He forced his head against hers and shouted the spell.
“Wingardium leviosa! Wingardium leviosa! Say it, damn it!”
Hermione cringed, but complied and her voice joined his as they tried again. This time they started to slowly lift. Draco’s chanting became frantic as he wiggled at his right arm when the pressure of his body against it lessened. He yanked it free.
“FUCK!” he screamed in agony as blood rushed into the limb. With the spell broken, they both dropped the few inches they’d risen…and then kept going.
“Aaah!!!” Hermione’s frightened shrieks joined Draco’s expletives as they slid further down into the crevice. Their feet kicked desperately at the walls until Hermione’s caught on an outcropping, jolting them harshly to a stop.
Hermione trembled terribly as she tried to calm herself while Draco continued to swear.
“Motherfucker!” he cried out, bowing his head in pain. “Holy fuck!”
“Stop,” Hermione practically begged. “Calm down.”
“It hurts,” he ground out, “Merlin’s fucking balls, it hurts!”
“What hurts?” she sniffed at her running nose from the involuntary tears the fall had brought on.
Draco looked up, his face contorted. “My arms,” he said. He tried to lift his right arm and then dropped it immediately as his eyes rolled back in pain.
“It’s been wedged behind you for two days,” Hermione noted, “it’ll take a bit to feel normal again.”
“Fuck normal,” he gasped out, looking down, “I just want it not to feel like a chunk of burning lead.”
Hermione looked down at the arm that now hung limply beside her own left arm that had also come free.
“How is yours not hurting?” he asked when he noticed her arm.
“Mine wasn’t caught in a way that restricted my blood flow,” she explained. “You’re lucky your arm’s not dead.”
Draco flexed his right hand and winced. Hermione reached her free hand up and grabbed his arm.
“What are you doing?” he asked fearfully.
“Calm down,” she said quietly as she began to gently massage his tingling limb. “You just need the blood to get flowing evenly again.”
Draco shut his eyes and bit his lip as he let her squeeze and knead her hand up and down his arm until the painful prickling faded into a dull ache. He opened his eyes and looked at her repentantly, but she kept her eyes down at his arm.
“Thank you,” he said when she finally released him and dropped her hand. She lifted her face and nodded lightly but suddenly scowled in pain.
“What’s wrong,” Draco asked her urgently. Hermione lifted her hand and reached behind her head.
“My head slammed against the wall while we were falling,” she said, cringing as she felt at the back of her skull. She brought her hand back out. It was covered in blood.
“Shit,” Draco said worriedly, noticing the blood that was now seeping down the sides of her neck to add bright red streaks to her mud stained shirt, “let me see.”
She stretched her neck forward to rest her face on his shoulder and he lifted his hand to her head. He flexed his fingers several times and then began parting her blood soaked curls to try and see her wound.
“Oh, gods,” he whispered when he saw the deep gash down the back of her head.
“Is it bad?” Hermione muffled into his shirt. He didn’t answer as his fingers continued to paw her hair aside. “Malfoy…?”
“It…” his voice cracked.
“Malfoy, how bad is it!?” she demanded. Draco swallowed hard as he blinked at the wound.
“I, uh…I think I can see the bone,” he said shakily. “And…it’s, uh, bleeding a lot.”
Hermione didn’t say anything and Draco shook himself against her gently.
“I…I’m okay,” she said quietly, “I…I just. You’re going to have to help me.”
“Yeah,” Draco said, nodding, “yeah, just…tell me what to do. Granger, you gotta tell me what to do.”
“Grab as much of my hair as you can and press it into the wound,” she directed calmly.
“O…okay,” he said anxiously. His eyes darted over her head as he tried to collect her wild curls into his fist. He pushed the handful against the gash.
“Like…like this?” he asked.
“You have to press harder,” she said. “Press as hard as you can and don’t let up for at least fifteen minutes. Do a count like you do when I sleep.”
Draco pressed his hand harder into her hair.
“Harder,” she said.
“I don’t want to hurt you more,” he said warily.
“It won’t do any good if I pass out from blood loss, Malfoy. Press harder,” she ordered, bringing her own hand up to push down over his.
Draco also added pressure at her prompting and made a guilty pout when she whimpered. “Gods, I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I really hoped…really thought it’d work.”
“It’s my fault,” Hermione offered. “I should’ve realized it would be painful to free your arms.”
“Well, only one managed to…”
He trailed off as he finally looked over at his left arm. He gagged.
“Malfoy?” Hermione asked alarmed. “Malfoy, are you okay?”
He shook his head as he gagged again and tried to force back the bile working its way up his throat.
“Why are you gagging?” she asked him when she heard him make the retching noise again.
“My…glagh…my…arm. Oh, gods,” he answered.
Hermione’s face screwed-up with pain and concern as she felt Draco shaking while he continued to apply the hard pressure to the back of her scalp. “What about your arm?”
“It’s, oh fuck, it’s…it’s wedged again and…” He quickly turned his head and heaved again.
“Don’t vomit!” Hermione warned him. “Don’t look at it if it’s bad. Focus on something else. Focus on the counting.”
Draco closed his eyes and took several calming breaths before beginning to count.
“One, two, three…”
Hermione joined him in counting out loud. When they finally reached nine-hundred, Draco very carefully lifted his hand from the back of her head and poked between her curls to check her wound.
“Well?” Hermione asked anxiously.
“It looks like most of the bleeding has stopped,” he said, grimacing slightly at her blood-matted hair, “still looks nasty, though.”
Hermione very slowly lifted her head and gingerly placed her hand to the back of it to keep holding her sticky hair over the gash. “Feels nasty,” she agreed with a pout. She glanced over at his left arm. “Oh, my god.”
“Yeah,” was all Draco managed to say in response as he chanced a look back at his arm. Hermione made a repulsed face as she studied his limb. His arm was caught in the same position as before, but turned at a slightly more severe angle and the skin had split dramatically at his elbow from the force and friction of grinding against the rock during their fall. It was now actual bone on rock.
“Malfoy…” she breathed as she gaped at the exposed sinew and muscle, obviously unsure of how to comfort him.
“Don’t,” he said, closing his eyes and resting his head back, “just…just help me keep my mind off of it so I don’t pass-out.”
“Right,” she said, tearing her eyes away from the gore, “uh…um…”
“This is the point where you say ‘I told you so’,” he huffed.
Hermione frowned slightly. “I’m not going to say that.”
Draco cracked an eye open at her. “Why not? You were right…as usual,” he drawled reluctantly. “And now, because of me, we’re twenty feet deeper with our fucking bones showing.”
“I don’t want to row,” Hermione nearly whispered. “And it wasn’t your fault.”
Draco didn’t respond and the two fell into an uneasy silence until Hermione opened her mouth again.
“Do…do you want to try yelling now?” she asked, her hand still pressing hard at the back of her head. Draco looked despairingly up at the crevice’s opening and shook his head.
“There’s no point, Granger. No one will hear us now,” he said softly with utter defeat in his voice. They stared at each other then through the considerably dimmer light, reading the regret and repentance in the other’s eyes until Draco looked away.
“I’m sorry you got hurt,” he said. Hermione watched him try to school away the pain present in his face and then nudged his leg with hers.
“Tell me about Quidditch,” she said when he looked up with a quizzical expression. He let out a small laugh.
“You must’ve hit your head harder than we thought,” he said. She smiled.
“I’m trying to distract us from our injuries,” she acknowledged. “Now, tell me about all of your best Seeker moments unless you want me to start telling you about my views on house elves.”
Draco smirked at her. A genuine, pleased smirk. “Bossy,” he said. Hermione merely smiled wider and he began to talk.
Chapter 8: Day Three: Afternoon
Day Three: Afternoon
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione blinked her eyes open at the sensation of Draco stirring. She raised her head from where she’d rested it again on his shoulder. She groaned slightly at the throbbing in the back of her scalp.
“Malfoy?” she said gently at the sight of him breathing strangely while he looked dismally at his left arm.
“Hey,” he said, turning his face to her, “you’re supposed to be resting. You’ve still got four hundred seconds.”
“I’m still afraid to sleep,” she sighed.
Draco’s mouth twisted in concern. “Your head?”
“I don’t feel like I have a concussion, but the pain’s enough to make me wary,” she expounded.
He made an unhappy hum.
She shrugged and turned her attention to his bad arm. “How’s yours feeling?”
“Terrible,” he sighed. He pursed his lips lightly. “Any chance I can get you to let me piss real quick? I tried myself, but I can’t fit my hand between us.”
Hermione turned a guilty pout up to him. “I can’t,” she told him as she moved her trapped right hand against his lower abdomen where it’d gotten re-wedged after their fall, “I can’t reach anymore.”
Draco’s eyes closed in defeated misery. “Great,” he muttered.
“We just won’t talk about it,” Hermione proposed. “We’ll just relieve ourselves as needed and not draw attention to it.”
Draco gave a small nod in agreement but then made a loud, exaggerated moan. Hermione puffed out a breath.
“Stop fretting about your dignity. It’s just me here,” she said.
“No…it’s not that. It’s my arm,” he said, his eyes still shut. “It’s really killing me.”
Hermione glanced over at the offending limb but didn’t say anything.
“You were right,” Draco whispered. Hermione frowned slightly.
Draco cracked open his lids and looked over at her. “I’m fairly certain that it’s infected.”
Hermione’s eyes widened slightly in alarm. “Why?” she asked, stretching her neck in an attempt to see it better.
“I feel ill,” he informed her. Hermione swallowed hard at that.
He merely nodded, his eyes closing again as if the action had hurt.
Hermione pursed her lips as she assessed first his face and then his arm again. Her brow furrowed sadly at the marbled appearance of his exposed muscle. “What…what does the initial wound look like?” she inquired. “I can’t see the other side.”
Draco returned his attention to it. “It’s all red and swollen and…it’s draining pus. Fuck me,” he said, resting his head back. “And it feels like my heart’s going to beat right out of my bloody chest.”
“Lean your forehead to mine,” she said somewhat urgently. Draco complied at once and Hermione pursed her lips again. “You’re burning up,” she said at the heat radiating from his skin to hers.
“Fantastic,” Draco drawled, leaning his head back from her and closing his eyes once more.
"Describe the redness in more detail to me," Hermione requested then with a serious look to his arm. Draco opened his eyes with a huff and glared at the oozing gash as he lifted his free arm over to poke gingerly at it.
"It's all blotchy, and it covers the whole top of my forearm from what I can see. The color ranges from pink to dark purple. Almost like deep bruises that are sort of puffy."
"Puffy?" Hermione confirmed hesitantly. “Like blisters?”
"Yeah, why? What does it mean?" Draco asked, lowering his right arm while not bothering to mask his fear at her obvious apprehension.
"It...it means it's infected alright," Hermione answered, refusing to meet his gaze. Draco looked back and forth between his torn flesh and her downcast, worried face.
"Granger...." his voice was pleading and Hermione slowly raised her eyes to his. “What is it?"
Hermione searched his wide eyes for a moment and then looked sadly back at his arm. "It’s gangrenous,” she informed bleakly. “It’s going to start to smell in here.”
“What does that mean, gangrenous?” he asked anxiously. “Why is it going to smell?”
“Gangrene,” Hermione said, “is a type of fast-spreading, necrotizing infection. You’ve got almost no blood-flow to that arm and so the bacteria are able to flourish within it. It’s going to start to smell because your arm is literally rotting away as we speak.”
Draco stared back at her in horror. “Rotting?” he whispered almost inaudibly.
Hermione merely nodded reluctantly.
“And it’s going to spread,” he said. It wasn’t a question.
“The toxins from the dead tissue will soon cause your blood pressure to drop…which will cause organ failure,” she explained.
Draco swallowed hard. “How long?”
Hermione bit at her lip. “I don’t know… maybe a day.”
Draco inhaled sharply and looked back at his arm. “Is…is this contagious?” he asked very seriously.
“No,” Hermione replied. “Though it doesn’t really matter. I doubt I’ll be far behind anyway with this gash in my head and… without you to wake me, I’ll succumb to exhaustion regardless.”
Draco continued to consider his arm as if deep in thought. “So, we only have a day left?”
“Maybe two days, maybe six hours, I don’t know,” she said uncomfortably. “I’m not exactly a Healer.”
He didn’t respond and stared almost catatonically at his arm for several minutes.
“Malfoy?” Hermione said worriedly, trying to snap him from his trance. “Malf-”
Draco suddenly turned his face back to her and she nearly gasped at the intensity behind his gaze.
"I'm likely going to die today, right?" he said.
Hermione didn't respond and merely blinked back at him. Draco’s eyes darted over her face rapidly before falling to her mouth. "Fuck it," he said and then abruptly pushed his face forward to capture her lips with his own.
Hermione’s eyes shot wide and she went stock-still. When she didn’t reciprocate the kiss, Draco slowly pulled back and looked down.
“Well… that went about as well as I’d always imagined,” he said dryly.
“I…” Hermione started then stopped as he turned his head away from her and simply stared at his arm. She watched his jaw muscles tighten as he let his head fall against the wall and then took a deep breath.
“Malfoy…” she said gently.
He shook his head slightly. “Leave it, Granger,” he said in a tight voice.
Hermione worried her bottom lip in her teeth again and then, “But...I’m sorry, I ju-”
Draco closed his eyes. “Don’t,” came his biting response.
Again, Hermione watched the muscles tick in his jaw. Her eyes traced over every line of his angular features as he obviously attempted to hide his emotions. “Draco…?” she said tentatively.
“What!?” he snapped, opening his eyes to look back at her. The moment their gazes locked, his expression shifted to one of guarded shock as the sound of his given name finally registered.
Hermione licked her lips and then went to raise her hand to his face. He flinched and she hesitated fleetingly before ignoring his movement to set her palm to his cheek. “I’m sorry,” she repeated. “You caught me off guard is all.”
“You shouldn’t apologize,” Draco said. “I shouldn’t have done it.”
“I’m glad you did.”
Draco’s eyes widened and his chest stilled at her quiet admission. His Adam’s apple bobbed with the force of his swallow when Hermione’s gaze finally traveled downward to focus on his mouth and she began to tilt her face toward his. “What’re you-” Draco started to ask, his tone nearly frantic. But he was silenced as Hermione pressed their mouths together.
This time, it was Draco that didn’t reciprocate as he stared back at her in surprise. Hermione pulled back and looked at him.
Brown eyes met with grey. Neither moved or took a breath. A second passed. Then another before they both abruptly pushed their faces together. They inhaled deeply through their noses as their lips sealed together and their free hands flew up - Hermione’s grabbing at the back of his scalp, Draco’s clutching at her cheek.
Lips moved. Tongues darted. Hearts raced.
Their actions quickly synced and every move one made the other copied as the session stretched on. The seconds turned to minutes as the two became lost in one another, until the strain of their heavy breathing on their compressed chests finally forced them to pull apart. Each gasped for full breaths, but kept their hands and faces close.
“I can’t…believe…we just did that,” Hermione panted.
Draco leaned his forehead to hers. “You…you wanted to know why I wished you were a pureblood…” he said quietly once his breathing slowed.
Hermione ran the pads of her fingers against his disheveled, yet still soft hair. “You wanted to know why I fixed your potion…” she whispered back.
A keening moan echoed in Draco’s chest as he returned to snogging her with a force that made her grip at him. She tilted her face upward and let out a small moan of her own when Draco began trailing a line of kisses from her mouth down her jaw. He slowed to a stop when his eyes came upon the dried blood and mud coating the side of her neck.
Draco held his head there, unmoving for several moments as he stared at the sad mess.
He set his cheek to hers and closed his eyes. Hermione made a worried face and rubbed the back of his scalp. “Are you okay?”” she asked. He opened his eyes and frowned at the state of her skin before nodding against her.
“I’m ok-” he started to say, but his words were cut short when Hermione jerked back abruptly and made a screechy giggling noise. Draco moved his head back and scowled lightly. “Granger, what the hell was that?”
Hermione rapidly rubbed her hand over her cheek. “Your stubble is like sandpaper,” she said.
Draco twitched his nose a bit as if trying to move a mustache and then smiled. “Oh…sorry,” he said, sounding not the least bit apologetic but rather more amused, “I’m not used to being so, uh…unkempt.”
Hermione let out a small laugh. “No, I imagine you’re not.”
“And just what is that supposed to mean?” he challenged, tweaking a brow. Hermione smiled and gave a pointed look down toward their legs.
“You wore nice trousers and Italian leather shoes to trek into an overgrown field to collect plants,” she pointed out drolly. “I somehow doubt you make a habit of letting yourself go.”
Draco tried to look down as well. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best at all times,” he said.
Hermione chuckled again. “I didn’t say there was.”
“Anyway, at least I can take comfort in knowing that, even as a corpse, I’ll be decently attired,” Draco joked darkly. Hermione’s smile faded.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “If only we’d tried sooner…”
Draco gave her a slightly confused look. “What’re y-”
“I should’ve thought to try Apparating the moment we fell in here,” she interrupted, “I should’ve thought of the tandem casting sooner. When we weren’t already too tired…when your arm wouldn’t have hurt as bad. If only I had-”
“Stop,” Draco halted her. When she opened her mouth to keep at it, he shook his head. “Just stop,” he said more forcefully. “It’s done. There’s no going back.”
“But I should’ve tried harder from the start,” Hermione kept on miserably.
“I wasn’t exactly full of ideas on how to get out the first two days either,” Draco reminded her.
Hermione cast her gaze downward. “I can’t believe I was so careless to have locked my wand in my trunk. Or if only I’d told someone where I was going. Why didn’t I? How could I be so…”
Draco reached up and cupped her face in his hand. “Granger,” he said, making her look at him, “stop.” He kissed her. Hermione closed her eyes and let out a sad whimper.
“It didn’t need to be like this,” she lamented, her lips still brushing over his. Draco pulled back and shrugged.
“I won’t lie and say I don’t wish this had played out differently,” he said, “but it is what is.”
Hermione’s brow knitted in deep thought. “What if…we might have one more chance. How ill do you feel? Do you have enough energy to tandem cast right now?”
Draco took on a much more attentive look. “What did you have in mind?”
“Your wand,” she said. “We each have a free hand now to try and grab it. If we tandem cast to strengthen the spell, we might be able to summon it from wherever it fell.”
Draco blinked at her a second as his mouth spread into a smile. “Well, what are you waiting for!?” he asked loudly, presenting his cheek in an exaggerated fashion. Hermione bit her lip in hopeful anticipation and carefully set her cheek against his rough skin.
“Accio Draco’s wand on three,” she instructed.
“On three,” he agreed. “One.”
Hermione took in a deep breath. “Two.”
They both held their hands out, ready to grab as Draco finished, “Three!”
“Accio Draco’s wand!” they both shouted together. “Accio –“
Before they could complete the second casting, Draco’s wand came zooming up from the darkness below and straight past their outstretched hands.
“Get it!” Hermione cried frantically as they watched it stall in momentum above them and then begin to plummet back downward.
“I got it!” Draco yelled out, his eyes locked onto the wand with focused concentration. “I got it!”
“Get it, get it, get it!” Hermione chanted as it rapidly approached. Draco’s hand swiped at the falling stick.
“GOT IT!” he shouted in triumph as his fingers clasped around his wand. He let out a crazed laugh of relief as Hermione cheered.
“You got it. You got it,” she smacked her hand at him ecstatically.
Draco smiled so wide, all of his teeth were visible. “I got it,” he sighed. “I go-”
The happiness drained from his face in an instant when he finally looked at the wand in his grip. Hermione watched his expression change and darted her own gaze to the wand.
“NO!” she cried at the sight of it. The tip was splintered off, exposing the core.
They both gaped in horror at the broken stick.
“May…maybe it will still work,” Draco said pleadingly. He flicked it. “Lumos.”
Nothing but a few dim sparks fizzled out the damaged end. Tears started leaking down Hermione’s face as she watched him try several more simple spells with no success before he finally hurled the useless wand up at the crevice’s opening with an angry roar.
Draco glared up at where it had disappeared over the ledge and then slumped his head back against the stone wall.
“Well…that’s that,” he said quietly.
Hermione closed her wet eyes and laid her cheek on his shoulder. “That’s that,” she whispered sorrowfully.
Draco looked down at her and carefully brushed at her still damp hair to push it back off of her face. “There are worse ways to die,” he echoed her words from earlier, before placing a kiss to the side of her head. She felt for his hand with her own and entwined their fingers.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Yes, there are.”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Day Three: Night
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione jerked awake at the feeling of something brushing against her arm and blinked rapidly. She lifted her head and her eyes crossed at the blackness that met them.
“Shite,” she said woozily as she quickly re-lowered her head and started to lift her knees to bend her legs. “Draco…how long did you let me sleep for?”
There was no answer.
“Draco?” she said, turning her head towards where his lay on her shoulder. Something brushed by her arm again and she whimpered. “The bats are coming.”
Draco still didn’t respond.
“Draco! Malfoy, wake-up!” she screamed in panic, shrugging her shoulder harshly. “Malfoy!”
When he still didn’t wake, she kneed and punched at him frantically, ignoring the flapping and screeching of the increasing number of bats coming up around them. “Oh, gods…wake up! Wake-up!”
“Ugh…” came Draco’s hoarse moan as he rolled his head back. “Granger…what the fuck?”
Hermione burst into relieved tears. Draco blinked furiously to try and understand what was happening.
“Granger? What…what’s-” a bat hit him in the side of the face and he jerked his head away from it and then quickly hid his nose into Hermione’s neck. “You woke me up for the bats!?” he yelled angrily to her.
“No!” she cried, pressing her face into the side of his neck as well. “We…we both…”
“I can’t hear you!” Draco shouted back as the noise from the bats rose in volume. Hermione’s hand fumbled around at their sides until it found his hand and she gripped it. His fingers tightened around hers as the swarm grew.
“Nasty little bastards,” Draco grumbled when the bats had finally dispersed. He lifted his head but quickly lowered it again with a pained groan. “Holy fuck...I feel like shit.”
“Pump your legs and go back to sleep,” Hermione said in a detached voice.
Draco groaned again as he complied with her order to move his legs. “How much time do I have left on my turn?” he asked.
“Just sleep. I’ll wake you every so often to kick.”
“Every so often?” he inquired even as he closed his eyes.
Hermione released his hand and rubbed at her face. “I won’t be sleeping anymore,” she replied. “Go to sleep.”
Draco opened his eyes and rolled his head to the side on her shoulder. “What’re you on about? We take turns.”
“Just go to sleep,” she commanded again. Draco slowly lifted his head and glared in her direction.
“You need to sleep,” he insisted angrily.
Hermione shook her head even though he couldn’t see the action. “I can’t take the risk. You’re only going to get weaker.”
Draco made an annoyed noise. “I’m still -”
“You fell asleep on your watch,” she interrupted him flatly. “The bats woke me up and you were asleep. You’re getting weaker and I can’t… If we’re going to live longer than tonight, I need to stay awake…and you need to rest.”
A short silence followed as Draco let his head drop back down with a puff of strained breath.
“I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” he started apologetically.
Hermione exhaled deeply. “I know you didn’t. And that’s exactly why I’ll be staying awake until someone finds us.”
Draco made a sad hum. “We’ll be beyond The Veil long before someone finds us,” he whispered.
“Maybe,” she acceded. “Or maybe Mundungus will come out here today looking for plants to sell for himself and see our stuff and alert someone. Or maybe hikers will pass by…or hunters. Maybe the Aurors will decide to screen the area early.”
“It’s a nice thought, Granger…but we both know it won’t happen.”
Hermione sighed as she began stroking his hair. “Yeah…”
She bent her neck to place a kiss to his temple and then closed her eyes at the way his skin nearly seared her lips. “Your temperature’s gone up,” she noted quietly.
“Hopefully it’s enough to keep you warm tonight,” came Draco’s reply, his hand sliding up under her shirt to splay against her skin at her waist, “I don’t think I can manage a spell anymore.”
Hermione hummed appreciatively at the heat from his palm and then maneuvered her head to rest her cheek against his clammy forehead. “You should sleep,” she suggested once more. Draco shook his head lightly under hers.
“I should…” he puffed out a loud breath and nudged his head at hers to indicate he wanted to lift it. She pulled back and he raised his head. He kissed her cheek and then tilted his face up to the sky. “That’s too bad,” he said.
“What?” Hermione inquired, her hand still in his hair.
Draco squinted into the vast darkness above. “It would’ve been nice to see the stars one last time.”
Hermione looked up as well to see the strip of matte black that was the overcast night sky. “Perhaps it’ll be clear tomorrow night,” she said.
Draco snorted. “That’d be my luck…it’ll clear up once I’m dead.”
Hermione lowered her hand and rubbed comfortingly at his upper arm. “You’ll still be alive tomorrow night.”
“Doesn’t feel like it,” he replied with a pained grunt as he lowered his head once more. The grunt turned into a low growl that increased in volume as he gritted his teeth and pressed his forehead to her shoulder.
“Draco…?” Hermione started in a concerned voice. Draco merely growled louder and pulled his free hand away from her to slap it harshly against the rough, stone wall.
“FUCK!” he suddenly shouted, slamming his palm again repeatedly into the rock. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
“The pain…” he choked, his nails clawing at the wall just beside her head. “Fucking hell, it…fuck, I just want it to stop already.”
Hermione cringed to herself at his desperate tone. “Maybe if you try and go back to slee-”
“You gotta pull my arm down,” he nearly begged.
“Wha- pull your arm down?” she inquired warily.
“My stuck arm,” he ground out, nodding his head into her shoulder, “just…you have to yank it free or something. I…I can barely stand it anymore.”
Hermione turned her head in the direction of his trapped arm and stared at the dark. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Freeing it might make it hurt worse…”
Draco began taking in huge, puffing breaths in what appeared to be an attempt to overcome the pain.
“You’re going to make yourself hyperventilate, stop,” warned Hermione sternly. He shook his head again.
“I’m going to be sick,” he moaned.
“Just relax….you need to calm down.”
Draco let out another long, shaky breath. “Yeah…”
Hermione ran her hand in soothing circles over his tense shoulder. “You’re okay,” she tried to comfort.
“I’m not,” he disagreed at once. “I’m fucking dying, Granger…” Another pained groan echoed in his chest before he added, “and it’s hell.”
Silence followed his statement for several minutes, Hermione continuing to rub at him, until she finally spoke again.
“Someone will find us,” she whispered. “Someone will come and get us out…we’ll get you better…”
Draco replied with a sad, raspy chuckle. “That’s not going to come true just because you keep saying it.”
“I know...” she said, “but it hurts too much to think of the alternative.”
Draco was quiet a moment. “I always wondered when it’d happen,” he said then. Hermione tilted her curious face down toward his.
“When what would happen?” she inquired softly.
“When I’d get what was coming to me,” he answered shakily.
Hermione’s hand stilled on his upper arm. “You don’t deserve this.”
Draco let his hand fall away from the wall to rest it on her hip again. “How many times have I called you ‘mudblood’? A hundred times? A thousand?” he challenged her, his fingers gripping at her side.
She shook her head. “That doesn’t ma-“
“How many lives did I endanger leading up to the war?” he cut her off. “How many times was I a witness to evil and did nothing?”
The questions hung in the stale air and Hermione dropped her hand from his arm.
“You don’t deserve this,” she simply repeated.
Draco began to lift his head to retort again, but quickly lowered it with another moan. “I think…I think I’m really going to be sick,” he said before gagging.
“No, no, no,” Hermione pleaded frantically, their conversation immediately abandoned. “You’ll dehydrate too quickly. Draco, you have to try and keep it down.”
The sound of Draco’s erratic breathing was loud in the crevice as he tried to calm himself through the bout of nausea. Hermione brought her hand up once again and lightly massaged at the back of his neck.
“You’re okay,” she cooed, “you’ve got this. You’re okay…”
He continued to lean on her and focus on his breathing for several minutes until he finally relaxed and slowly lifted his head. “Well, that was unpleasant,” he said wryly, tricking a soft laugh out of Hermione.
“You’re not supposed to be making me laugh,” she mock-scolded him, setting her hand to his waist.
“I like the sound of your laugh,” he admitted, resting his head back on the wall.
Hermione couldn’t help the smile that resulted at the comment. “Laughter is good medicine,” she said.
Draco hummed as he closed his eyes. “It’ll take a bit more than laughter to rid me of this, I’m afraid. Fuck…I’ve never felt so bloody awful in all my life.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Hermione, her smile fading.
“How can a person feel starved and nauseous at the same time?” he grumbled. “How can a head feel like it’s full of lead and hot air at the same time?” He tried to flex his left hand and let out a pained gasp. “And…and how in the fuck can an arm be numb and excruciatingly painful at the same fucking ti-”
His short rant was halted when he suddenly gagged again. Hermione grimaced to herself as she listened to him fight off the urge to vomit and when he finally settled again a minute later, she felt for his hand at her hip and squeezed it.
“I’m sorry you feel so wretched,” she stated sincerely. “I wish I could do something for you,”
“Maybe…could you just try distracting me?” he requested.
“What would you like to talk about?” she offered right away. “I’d suggest snogging, but given your current state…”
Draco chuckled that time. “No…snogging’s out…” He was quiet as he thought a moment. “Sing me something?”
Hermione hesitated. “Umm…I’m really not all that good at singing,” she admitted quietly. Draco opened his eyes and gave her a sad smirk in the darkness.
“I won’t tell anyone,” he said.
Hermione smiled weakly at that, but shook her head. “I…I don’t know…”
“Please?” His tone was rather pleading and she sighed.
“You’ll only poke fun at me.”
“I won’t,” he assured seriously, “never again.”
Hermione took a deep breath at that. She closed her eyes and bowed her head.
“There…there is one song that I used to sing with my mum," she said after a few moments. “It's rather a sad song, though..."
"Then it will be very fitting," Draco said with a gloomy yet teasing lilt. Hermione nodded.
"It's an old song too. And I remember hearing Mrs. Weasley humming it once, so I don’t think it’s exclusive to Muggles, so you might know it..."
"You're stalling," he said.
"Am not," she denied lamely. "I...I just don't remember the whole beginning."
Draco gripped at her hand encouragingly. "So start from where you do remember," he said.
Hermione was silent as she thought of how to begin. "Go on then," Draco prodded.
“I’m going,” she said, her voice a little tight. She took in a deep breath, closed her eyes and cleared her throat several times, and then finally began softly.
“So slowly, slowly she came up,” she sang, “And slowly she came nigh him, but all she said when she saw him there, ‘Young man I think you’re dyin’.’”
She paused for breath for the next verse but was taken by surprise when Draco beat her to it and he began to sing.
“He turned his face unto her straight with deadly sorrow sighin’, ‘Oh lovely maid, come pity me; I’m on my deathbed lyin’.’”
Draco’s rich tenor hung in the air as a tear tracked down Hermione’s cheek.
“You know it?” she gasped.
“Keep going before my nausea comes back,” he ordered. She managed a small smile to herself as she took another breath and sang the next verse. They took turns then singing the entirety of the song until they came to the last two verses and then sang together, free hands locked tightly together at their sides.
“They buried her in the old churchyard. They buried him beside her. And from his grave grew a red, red rose. And out of hers a briar.
“They grew and grew up the old church wall, ‘til they could grow no higher. And at the top twined in a lovers’ knot, the rose wrapped ‘round the briar.”
Draco’s bottom lip trembled when they finished. “You…you have a beautiful voice,” he said, tears welling in his eyes.
“You do too,” Hermione said, her voice quavering. There was a brief silence before…
“I don’t want to die, Hermione,” Draco suddenly confessed brokenly.
Hermione’s face contorted with grief at that and she released a sob. Draco finally let go as well and they pressed their foreheads together as their sorrowful cries carried into the night.
A/N: The song they sing: Barbara Allen – traditional folk song, author unknown. I’ll note that there is more than one version of this song, but, for the story, we’ll assume that Draco and Hermione just happen to know the same version.
Chapter 10: Day Four
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione gently shushed into Draco’s ear as he retched. He sobbed on her shoulder after forcing himself to swallow the bitter bile that came up.
“It…it…hurts,” he cried, “so….much…”
“Sshhh,” she tried to soothe him as she’d done all morning and for the better part of the afternoon, stroking her hand over his sweat-matted hair. “I know…I know it hurts. You just have to stick it out a little while longer.”
“No-no one’s…coming,” he said through chattering teeth. “Gonna…gonna die here.”
“No,” Hermione said, attempting to rock herself against him to quell his near constant trembling, “someone will come. Someone will find us. Draco….Draco, someone will help us. Just hold on.”
He shook his head.
“We found each other out here, remember?” she tried again lamely.
“F-f-fate’s…a cruel…b-bitch,” he stuttered.
Hermione pursed her lips. “Why do you say that?”
Draco gave a tired, mirthless chuckle. “She gives…gives me what…what I’ve always wanted….shows me…what could’ve been…then…then kills me.”
“You’ve always wanted to be stuck in a hole?” Hermione joked darkly. The question coaxed a real laugh out of the ailing blond.
“Daft,” he said. “You…daft woman.”
“I thought I was a know-it-all?” she teased.
“You,” he repeated, “I’ve wanted you forever.”
Hermione lifted her head. “You wanted me fore-”
“Ssshhh!” Draco shushed her dramatically, “that’s supposed…to be a…a secret...can’t tell…”
“It’s official,” Hermione sighed, “your delirium has set in.”
“Not allowed,” Draco rambled on, “not allowed…to have what…what I want. Had to…had to hate. Taught to hate… Wanted… not allowed.”
“Draco…” Hermione said, her voice desperate as he lifted his head to look at her.
“Never happy,” he gasped, his bloodshot eyes filled with pain and remorse, “not allowed. I couldn’t…I was…did bad…bad things…didn’t want…”
Draco looked over at his Dark Mark, now obscured beneath the dark pustules of the gangrene ravaging his arm, and gagged again. He bowed his head as far down as he could and vomited violently between them.
Hermione turned her head away and cringed as she felt the runny sick seep between them and trickle down her trapped arm.
“I’m sorry,” Draco blubbered miserably, head still down. “So sorry…so….so fucking sorry.” He pressed his head forward against her shoulder. “Don’t…don’t want you to die…never wanted you to die…”
“Someone will come,” Hermione said, her lips quivering as she stared disconsolately at the wall, “someone has to come. Someone has to come.”
Hermione blinked away the tears blurring her vision. “What?”
“Fucking Potter…brought her to the World Cup…”
Hermione’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I tried…tried to keep her safe, goddamn it…wha-what the fuck else could I do…?”
“’She’s not worthy, son’…’she’s filthy’. That’s…that’s what they all…they always sa-said,” Draco went on, slurring slightly. He shook his head against her. “I don’t believe…can’t. I don’t…I don’t want it, mum. Mum, don’t let them…please don’t let him.”
Hermione burst into sobs.
“It hurts!” Draco screamed into her chest. “It hurt so much…. so much. He hurt me.”
“I know,” Hermione wept in his ear, “I know, Draco. I know.”
“And you…you all hate me,” he said.
She shook her head. “No. No, I never did. I never hated you,” she insisted.
“Hate me,” he repeated. “Bad things…hated….just wanted you….just wanted…to be happy.”
“You’ve got me,” Hermione whimpered as he shivered fiercely, “I’m here. I’m here for you.”
“Gonna die,” he gasped. “Never have you…never happy.”
“Oh, gods,” Hermione cried, looking up to the heavens. “WHY!?” she suddenly shouted. “Why did you do this to us!?”
Draco started crying harder.
“I’M SORRY!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”
Hermione turned her attention back down at him. “Don’t be sorry,” she said, tears dripping from her nose, “don’t be sorry.”
“I’m dying,” he whimpered. “I can…can feel it. Tingly. Death…death is tingly.”
“It’s just the fever,” Hermione tried to calm him, rubbing her hand over his arm and shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “that…that I’m going to leave you…leave you alone.”
“Draco, you’re not going to die,” she protested vehemently. “Do you hear me, Draco Malfoy? You are NOT going to die in here.”
He lifted his head and blinked at her strangely. “Don wan weave oo,” he said, the words severely garbled, his eyes rolling back, “I sowy…so sor- aaaa….”
“Draco!” Hermione shrieked when he began seizing. She instinctively thrust her hand up and placed it behind his head to cushion it from slamming into the rock wall as he spasmed violently. She cried out in pain as she was kneed by his jerking legs. She blinked furiously to try and see through the freely flowing tears the pain from her knuckles being smashed between the stone and Draco’s skull was causing.
“Draco…” she sobbed loudly, “Draco…”
His seizing managed to yank his wedged arm free. It hit Hermione in the side of the face before flopping down directly between them. She took one look at it and gagged. She took one breath and vomited.
The tattered, emesis soaked limb mercifully slipped away and down to dangle at Draco’s side with his continued movements and Hermione sniveled as she tried to get control of herself.
“Please, no more,” she pleaded to the powers that be. As if they’d listened, Draco twitched to a stop.
Hermione, shaking so badly she might’ve been having her own seizure, carefully removed her bloodied, trembling hand from behind his head and placed it to his cheek. His eyes were open, but still rolled back and a thick line of blood and drool was leaking from his lax mouth.
He didn’t respond.
“Draco,” she said louder, pushing at him, “Draco, wake-up. You have to wake-up.”
She pushed at him harder but he still didn’t stir.
“Draco!” she screamed at him as she fumbled her fingers at his neck to feel for a pulse. A fresh round of tears began flowing when she felt the rapid, if faint, palpitation at his jugular.
“You’re alive,” she cried in relief that quickly turned back into panic, “…but you’re unconscious. Oh, shit. Oh, no, oh, no, oh, no…”
Hermione looked about wildly as if some external force would suddenly come and offer assistance, then closed her eyes. “Think, think, think,” she chanted desperately, swiping the back of her hand over her mouth to wipe away the residue of sick.
Her eyes snapped open.
“Hang on, Draco,” she growled.
She took several enormous breaths to steady herself and then smoothed her hair calmly away from her face before leaning her forehead against his. She placed her hand back to his scruffy cheek and inhaled deeply again.
“This will work,” she said determinedly to herself as she closed her eyes again. Her face scrunched up then in pure concentration as she focused every ounce of her energy into the force of the spell as it roared from her lips.
A blinding red light erupted from where their skin was touching and illuminated the crevice in all directions. The light was almost immediately joined with the echo of a loud, shuddering gasp that erupted from Draco’s throat as his eyes shot forward and he jerked to attention.
Hermione’s arm and head fell with exhaustion as the light quickly dissipated and Draco gaped with huge gulping, frantic breaths.
"Wha-" he started, his hand coming up to gingerly palm his mouth. He coughed several times and then pulled his hand away and blinked at the blood and saliva covering it. "What the hell happened?" he asked with a wince as he spoke around his bitten tongue.
When Hermione didn't answer, he looked down to see her with her eyes closed.
She rolled her head to the side so he could see her face and opened her eyes. She smiled weakly. “Prick,” she breathed at him.
Draco’s feverish eyes rolled slightly when he blinked again. “Wha…what? What happened?” he asked stupidly. “And why do I suddenly feel like I took a Pepper-up potion?”
Hermione took in a strained breath as her lids slid shut again.
“Granger?” Draco said in an urgent tone. “Granger, what’s wrong!?”
“Need… rest,” she managed to get out.
“What happened?” he asked again.
“You…had a…seizure,” she answered very quietly. “I… had to…revive you.”
Draco stared at her. “Revive?”
She took several breaths before whispering, “Rennervate spell.”
“You cast a Rennervate on me, without a wand, without help?”
She merely hummed in the affirmative and Draco suddenly looked angry.
“Why would you do that?” he demanded to know.
Hermione cracked one eye open to peer up at him. “Had to…you were…uncon-“
Draco cut her off sharply, “You should’ve left me that way. Damn it, Granger. Why would you waste your energy like that?”
“I had to save you,” she said.
He shook his head and then set it back on the wall as his strength started to fade again as the effects of the spell wore off. “Granger, I’m done for. You know it. I know it. There’s no use to-” He stopped when he noticed the open space beside his head where his left arm used to be. He tilted his face down to look at it hanging limply at his side.
Hermione watched him blink at it a moment. “It came free… when you were seizing,” she explained. Draco returned his attention to her.
“Stop wasting your strength,” he said seriously.
“It’s not wasting it to save-” she tried to disagree, but he cut her off with an intense glare.
“Don’t try to save me anymore,” he snarled. “I’m not worth it. If I go out again, you leave me be.”
Hermione shook her head lightly on his shoulder. “No.”
Draco shook his head right back. “You’re still strong enough. You can…you can keep surviving without me until…look at me,” he ordered when she closed her eyes and went to shake her head again. He wiped his hand off on his shirt and then placed his palm to her cheek to make her look up at him.
“Mer...Merlin knows I don’t want to go,” his hoarse voice was suddenly softer, “that I don’t…I don’t want to leave you. But I’m…fuck, I’m barely keepin’ it together…”
Hermione started crying and Draco’s face screwed-up as he tried to keep from copying her. His hand gripped at the side of her head.
“Now, you… you fucking listen to me,” he grit out. “You let me die. You got it? Let me die. Save your energy, save yourself and use your brilliant mind to figure a way out of here and go…go live and do good things and be…” his voice cracked, “…be the best goddamn, pushiest godmother Potter ever could’ve possibly wished for. Do you understand me?”
Draco’s features contorted with emotion at her quiet dissent and he pulled her head forward. He planted a hard kiss to her forehead. “Goddamn you,” he cursed her, his words muffled with the way his lips were still smashed against her skin.
Hermione’s body trembled as she raised her hand up to his face. “I won’t…” she whispered, setting her palm to his jaw. Draco pulled back then when, with obvious effort, she slowly lifted her head to look at him. “I won’t give up on you,” she finished.
Draco blinked at her, his eyes going slightly unfocused before he furrowed his brow and dropped his hand to his side. “Granger?”
Hermione rubbed her thumb over his short, blond whiskers in a soothing manner at his suddenly frightened tone. “Yeah…?”
He blinked again and looked about. “What’s going on?”
Her thumb stilled. “What?”
Draco’s eyes rolled and he rocked his head back and forth against the rock wall. “I don’t know where I am,” he said in a strangely detached voice. Hermione’s face fell with despair at the fact that the brief lucidity he’d gained from the spell was suddenly gone.
“Draco…” she called to him gently, her hand still pressed to his cheek as he continued to roll his head side to side.
“I can’t breathe,” he said, slightly panicked. “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
“You can,” she assured him firmly, steeling herself against her own exhaustion. “Draco, calm-”
His hand came up again and he swatted hers away from his face before he began pushing at her shoulder. “Get off!” he bellowed desperately. “I can’t breathe. Get off me!”
“You CAN breathe. If you can shout, you can breathe,” she tried to reason with him, grimacing as he shoved at her.
Draco suddenly stopped pushing and gripped his fingers into her. “Oh, no,” he wheezed. “Oh, no, no, no…”
“Draco, what is-”
He made a loud, pained groan and then dropped his forehead to rest on his hand on her shoulder and started crying again. Hermione immediately began petting at his head again and had opened her mouth to say something soothing, but he spoke up first.
“You were wrong about being constipated until I died,” he blubbered. Hermione closed her eyes at that.
“It’s okay,” she shushed, resting her head on top of his. Her nose scrunched up at the new smell infusing the air, but she kept on comforting him. “It’s okay, Draco. It’s okay.”
They carried on that way for several minutes until Draco’s sobs finally subsided to hiccoughing sniffles.
“I-I-I…I did…y-you kn-kn-know…” he stuttered hoarsely then, his body taken to shivering again.
Hermione opened her eyes and stared miserably at the opposite wall as she felt him struggle to breathe. “Did what?” she asked in a whimper.
“I m-made…the team…myself.”
Hermione lifted her head to look down at him, but he raised his as well and cast his wild eyes about at the walls.
“I made the team myself,” he repeated. “All by myself.”
“I’m sure you did,” she said back sadly.
Draco moved his gaze to stare at her a moment and then blinked slowly several times. Hermione held her breath when she saw clarity and recognition finally settle back into his eyes. “Draco?”
His expression became grief-stricken. “Gods, Granger, I’m so sorry.”
Hermione grabbed for his hand and interlocked their fingers. “Don’t be sorry,” she said fiercely, “just don’t give up. Don’t give up.”
Draco stared at her for another short moment and then gave her a nod. He set his forehead to hers and he returned the squeeze when Hermione tightened her hold on his hand.
“Don’t give up,” she begged him again. “Don’t you dare give up.”
Chapter 11: Day Five: Morning
Before I say this, please take into consideration that I'm not a total monster, and try not to freak until you finish the story....
Warning: Main Character Death
Day Five: Morning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Move your legs,” Hermione said, kicking her own legs at Draco’s despite her exhaustion from having been awake for more than twenty-four hours.
“C...an’t,” Draco replied quietly, “...any......m...ore.”
“Draco, you have to move them,” she pleaded. “You can’t give-up, remember?”
“I’m...... not gon...... make it,” he said, his eyes rolling as he fought to maintain consciousness.
“No, no, no,” Hermione begged, “please... Draco, please stay with me. You’ve made it this far. Stay with me.”
“Can’t... feel...” he started to close his eyes, “...bo...dy...”
“Draco, no! Listen. You...you have to stay awake. I don’t have the strength to revive you again. Draco..."
He blinked tiredly and simply made a raspy droning noise.
“Draco,” she said, tilting her head down to speak in his ear, “talk…talk to me.”
Hermione could practically feel his body shutting down and she jostled him with her own when he fell silent. “Draco!”
“Hmm?” he hummed dazedly.
“Tell me something.”
There was a long pause and Hermione was on the verge of kicking him again when she heard his very quiet, “What?”
“Anything,” she said, her voice cracking. “Tell me…tell me why you hate me.”
Draco tried to shake his head but in his weakened state it merely rolled a fraction in one direction. “Don’t......hate,” he whispered, his quick, shallow breaths warm on her neck. “Love......you.”
“Draco,” Hermione whispered back brokenly.
“Reasons......love you,” he went on, “....your...atti......tude.”
Hermione released a hoarse chuckle as a tear trailed down her cheek.
“You’re... pushy......... don’t take... shit...”
“Nope,” she sniffled back with a weak smile.
“Your...... hair,” he breathed. “Four days... in a hole......... still smells like.........apples.”
“You’re delirious again,” she teased sadly.
“No,” he said, the word nearly inaudible as he really started to fade. “Your............ name...”
Hermione’s body shivered against his as she attempted to stifle the dread of what she knew was imminent. "My name," she prompted when he merely panted queerly. "Draco? Draco, what about my name?"
“Most........” he managed to gasp out before his head lolled back with a finality that made Hermione slam her eyes shut. Her lips trembled in the sudden silence and she eased a lid open to peer down at him. His eyes were closed. His face was lax, his mouth open slightly. He didn’t move.
“Draco?” she whispered, though the sound seemed to echo around them. “Draco. Draco!”
There was no response and Hermione released a gut-wrenching sob. Her face screwed-up as she looked miserably down at her lifeless hole-mate. She raised her shaking hand and set it tenderly against his neck.
“Draco…” she whispered pitifully when she felt no pulse. She bowed her head and placed their cheeks together as they’d done for their tandem casting and closed her eyes. “Draco,” she repeated before breaking down to sob soundly.
She pulled back and roamed her puffy eyes over his motionless face for a moment and then looked around at the walls. “I’m…get-getting you ou-out of here,” she stuttered through her tears. “Draco…I’m gonna get us out.”
She placed a kiss to his cheek and then turned her head upward to the opening high above. She made a determined face and then slammed her eyes shut tight as she gathered her strength.
“HELP!” she then screamed as loud as she could. The sound echoed intensely up and down the fissure. “HELP! SOMEONE!” She looked back at Draco’s blank face as dust from the walls sprinkled over him. “Anybody…”
Hermione’s eyes darted around then as the reality of her situation became clear and she began to panic. “Fuck!” she cried out. “Fuck! FUCK!”
She proceeded then to simply scream at the top of her lungs and wrench herself as hard as she could back and forth against Draco’s body and the stone. She thrashed desperately until her head slammed back into the wall behind her, resplitting her wound with a sickening crack. Her vision went black with the impact as unconsciousness consumed her and her head dropped forward to rest beside Draco’s.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“SIR!?” Ron Weasley shouted back attentively, shooting to his feet from his quiet watch as his team leader stalked up to him.
“Break down your camp. You and Marshall are to rendezvous with Potter and Longbottom over that next ridge before noon,” the man directed, pointing to a rocky cliff face in the distance.
“Yes, sir,” Ron acknowledged. The man nodded approvingly.
“Make special consideration for the terrain,” he said seriously, “this area is riddled with fissures and caverns. And make sure to follow your previous directive to scan for and collect any invasive magical plant species you come across on the way.”
“Yes, sir,” Ron said again.
“Get on with it then!” the man said before doing an about face and stomping off toward the next camp.
Ron glared at the man’s back and then jogged over to his tent.
“John!” he shouted, poking his face inside, “John, get the fuck up! We’ve got orders to move out.”
John Marshall groaned and flipped over in his camp bed to blink at his training partner.
“But it’s like five in the morning,” he grumbled. Ron stepped into the tent and immediately snatched up his rucksack and began levitating their rations and supplies into it.
“Just get up. We’ve got to meet Harry and Neville on the other side of the ridge by noon,” he explained as he worked. John groaned again, but finally pushed himself out of the low bed and stepped up to assist Ron.
“You finish up in here,” Ron said, hefting his pack over his shoulder, “I’ll start lowering the wards.”
John nodded at him and Ron ducked back out into the air and immediately halted in his tracks and dropped his pack when he heard a faint scream. He tilted his head outward listening for the sound again. When another came a few seconds later, he turned back to the tent opening.
“John! John! Get out here, quick!”
“What is it!?” John asked in alarm, rushing out.
“I…I think I heard a woman screaming.”
John frowned at him. “Out here? We’re in the middle of nowhere-”
“There it is again!” Ron said, taking off in the direction of the sound, wand at the ready. John ran after him.
“This is probably a surprise exercise,” he said, “a test to see how we handle emergencies on the go.”
“I don’t think so,” Ron said, slowing to a stop when the screaming suddenly died off. He squinted his eyes through the early morning light over the formidable landscape as John came up beside him. “It sounded…it sounded real.”
John too scanned the area with narrowed eyes. “I don’t hear anything.”
Ron pursed his lips and started tromping through and over the rocks and grasses around them as he continued to search about. He pointed his wand out before him. “Hominem revelio!” he shouted.
At once, a glowing orange orb burst forth from the tip of his wand and sped across the expanse of field. Ron and John both watched it travel and then suddenly stop a little ways in the distance, hover for a second and then plunge and disappear into the grasses.
“There!” Ron declared, pointing in the direction that the orb had gone. They both took off running to the area.
“There’s no one here,” John announced in frustration when they reached where they’d thought the orb had led them. Ron furrowed his brow deeply and cast his gaze about at the many plants obscuring the ground.
“The spell said there is,” he said surely. “Start looking!” He began scouring the area. John started in the opposite direction to cover more ground and suddenly called out.
“Hey, Ron! Look what I found!” he shouted, holding up a leather-bound journal. Ron hurried over to him and took the book in hand.
“Holy shit,” he said, looking down at it. “This…this is Hermione’s.”
“Granger?” John asked.
“Yeah,” Ron said, frowning at the still slightly soggy and water-damaged pages of the book. “Fuck, it rained two days ago!” He dropped the journal and swiveled his head around quickly. “HERMIONE!?”
“Why the hell would she be all the way out here?” John said, furrowing his brow.
Ron didn’t bother answering as he began searching again. “HERMIONE! HERMIONE, CAN YOU HEAR ME!?”
“This has to be a test,” John insisted, though his voice cracked with nerves.
“HERMI-” Ron stopped yelling when his foot collided with something. He bent quickly and snatched up a small trunk. He cast a hasty Alohomora to unlock and open its latch to find it contained a variety of vials and jars…and Hermione’s wand. The blood drained from his face.
“She was out here collecting potion ingredients,” he said, setting it down hastily and spreading the grass with his hands to scan the ground.
“There’s another pack here,” John said, holding up a large, mud-splattered, grey saddle bag. “It’s got an ‘M’ on it.”
Ron looked perplexed at the unfamiliar bag and then went back to searching. “HERMIONE!”
“GRANGER!” John started as well, following Ron’s lead. “GRANG- aaah!”
“Whoa!” Ron exclaimed, thrusting out a hand to grab his partner’s shoulder as the man suddenly teetered forward, beginning to fall. John fell backwards instead at Ron’s action and landed in the grass on his backside.
“You alright?” Ron asked him, helping him back up. John nodded.
“Yeah…I…I think so,” he said, straightening his robes. “Thanks, mate. That would’ve been a nasty tumble. There’s a deep crevice just there.”
Ron looked uneasily at the man and then turned to inspect the opening. He squinted down into it and then pointed his wand downward.
The deep fissure was at once illuminated with a bright light.
“Shit!” Ron cried out. “She’s there!”
“Who’s that with her?” John asked, peering down as well. Ron ignored him as he knelt down and shouted into the hole.
“Hermione! Hermione, we’re here! We’re gonna get you out!”
He stood then and jabbed his wand skyward. A stream of red sparks shot high into the air. Almost immediately the area was echoing with the cracks of the superior Auror officers Apparating in.
“Weasley! Marshall!” the head trainer shouted, coming hurriedly to their side. “What’s the emergency!?”
“Civilians down, sir!” Ron relayed straightaway, pointing to the opening in the ground. “We heard screaming. Did a quick search. Found them here. It’s Hermione Granger and an unknown individual.”
The man looked cautiously down into the crevice and then snapped his head up and began barking orders at the others. The Aurors, Ron and John included, all went to work at once to begin the delicate work of extricating the trapped couple.
“Here comes the male!” one of them yelled out five minutes later as Draco’s limp form was finally levitated up and out. “Keep him vertical!” someone ordered harshly.
“Bloody hell, that’s Draco Malfoy,” another noted as a Healer-Auror stepped up and began performing diagnostics on him.
“Is he dead?” John asked with a grimace at the grisly sight of Draco’s mangled left arm.
The Healer-Auror didn’t answer him and instead looked grimly to his superior. “I need to Port out,” he said. The head Auror nodded and the man pulled a biro Portkey from his pocket at once and clicked it open to activate it and swirled from sight with Draco in tow.
“We’ve got her too!”
“It is her,” someone murmured in disbelief. “It’s really Hermione Granger.”
“Hermione!” Ron cried out at the sight of his unconscious, mud, blood, and vomit covered friend floating over to another Healer-Auror. He shoved his way through the other stunned Aurors over to them. “Is…is she alright!?”
“No,” the Auror said sternly. She pulled a pen from her robe pocket as well and with another nod from the superior went to click it.
“Wait!” Ron shouted in a panic. He looked to the man in charge. “Permission to accompany her, sir. I’m listed as her next of kin.”
The head Auror regarded him a moment and then looked over at John. “Marshall!” he called out to him. “You go with Weasley. I expect a full report on this incident from both of you after their conditions are determined.”
“Yes, sir,” John said, hurrying over to Ron and the Auror that was still levitating Hermione upright.
“Thank you, sir,” Ron said, and the man nodded gravely as the small group disappeared with the click of the pen.
Chapter 12: Day Five: Afternoon
Day Five: Afternoon
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione blinked her heavy lids open and immediately shut them tight against the glaring white light. She raised her hand to her head and then shot her eyes open again when she realized it was her right arm.
“Draco!” she yelped, bolting upright in what turned out to be a hospital bed. She swiveled her head around frantically, darting her eyes in every direction. She was definitely in a hospital room - a brightly lit, otherwise unoccupied hospital room. Only her bed and a bedside table, atop which sat a bouquet of flowers and her wand, were present.
She looked down and tore aside the sheet that was over her bottom half to reveal her bare legs extending out from beneath the plain, white hospital gown that someone had apparently changed her into. She reached her trembling hand back up to her head and winced slightly at the feel of the tight bandages encircling it.
“Draco…” she whispered.
The door to her room suddenly cracked open and she snapped her attention up to see Ron stepping inside with a cup of something in his hand. His eyes bugged out when he noticed her awake.
“Hermione!” he cried, hurrying to her side and setting the drink on her bedside table. He turned to her and rapidly scanned his eyes over her in relieved but careful appraisal. “Hermione,” he repeated, “you’re…you’re awake.”
Hermione’s mouth opened and closed several times as she gaped at the impossibility that he was standing beside her.
“Are you okay?” he asked worriedly as she continued to silently stare at him. “Is it your head? Are you in pain?”
“Ho…how?” she managed to breathe out.
Ron gave her a wide, tremulous smile. “We found you stuck in that fissure. We got you out, brought you here to St. Mungo's. You’re safe now. You’re okay.”
“Draco,” she said, her voice cracking, “Draco…where…where is he…?”
“You need to lie down,” Ron said, gently grasping her upper arms to try and push her back. She only resisted against his touch at the evasive response.
“Tell me he’s okay!” she nearly growled.
"Hermione, you've hurt your head. You need to rest and shouldn't be worrying about Malfoy right now."
"You tell me where he is!" Hermione demanded so fiercely that Ron recoiled. Surprise and hesitation both mingled over his freckled face as he blinked at her.
“You shouldn’t be worried about him,” he said. She leaned forward and grasped at his arms.
“Where is he?” she demanded again. “Why won’t you tell me he’s okay!?”
Ron still looked reluctant to answer. “He’s, uh…” he trailed off when Hermione’s fingers tightened around his arms. “He…he’s on the floor below.”
When Hermione began to look panicked, Ron rushed on in an effort to assuage her agitation. “They’re still working on him,” he said. “John’s down there waiting on a report about his condition, okay?”
She calmed slightly at that and closed her eyes. Ron took the opportunity to ease her down again and she laid her head back carefully. “He’s alive,” she whispered in mild relief. Ron made a noise like he was about to contradict her statement but quickly decided against it. Hermione still noticed.
“Ron…?” she quietly pleaded, her eyes snapping open. “What is it?”
Ron’s eyes searched her face for a moment and he took a deep breath and pulled his wand. He quickly conjured a chair and sat down before leaning forward. Hermione immediately grabbed his hand.
She sat up again and gripped her fingers into his. “Ronald…?”
“Hermione…Malfoy was already dead when we got him out,” he said apologetically. Hermione’s lips quivered as she clutched her other hand to her chest with a pained gasp. She shook her head slightly.
“But…but you said…you said they're working on him,” she stammered desperately, unwilling to accept his statement. “There must be a chance to…” She stopped when Ron shook his head regretfully.
“The only reason the Healers are still trying to revive him is because Lucius Malfoy won’t let them stop,” he said.
“Lucius?” Hermione inquired, brow furrowed in confusion and despair. “He’s on house arrest…”
“The hospital contacted him the moment we brought you two in. He and Narcissa are both here under Auror supervision until…”
Hermione swallowed hard, tears welling. “Until what?”
Ron gave her a sad smile. “Until they finally call it all off and stop trying.”
Hermione slumped back in the bed and cast her gaze downward. She noticed the flawlessly healed skin of her left hand in Ron’s. “How long have we been here?” she asked hesitantly.
Ron released her hand and sat back himself. “Eight hours,” he answered quietly.
Hermione covered her face with her hands and started crying behind them. Ron watched her uncomfortably for a moment. “Hermione…?”
“Eight hours,” she muffled miserably. “And he’s still not…”
Her torso shook with her quiet sobs and Ron ran his hands through his hair looking unsure of how to proceed.
“I…I need you to tell me what happened,” he notified gently after a minute. Hermione didn’t answer right away as she sniffled behind her hands. Ron simply waited in silence, his hands still at the back of his scalp.
“We-we fell in,” she finally started a minute later through hiccoughing breaths. “It-it was an ac-accident.”
“I gathered that much,” he said.
Hermione lowered her hands and gave him an annoyed look. “Well, that’s what happened,” she said with another sniffle.
Ron dropped his own hands and scootched forward in his chair. “Why were you with Malfoy?” he redefined his question. She merely shook her head and he looked at her with brotherly concern before picking up the cup he’d set down earlier.
“Here,” he said, offering it to her. “It’s water. It’s dry as hell in this place.”
Hermione swiped at the tears on her cheeks and then reached out for it. “Thank you,” she whispered as she took it. She drank a small sip and then just held the cup at her bottom lip and stared down at her feet.
“He…he heard about the plants out there. He came out to collect them like I did,” she began to explain. “I’d found a patch of Thugwart and was preparing to harvest when he showed up and…”
She started to cry again and Ron produced a handkerchief that he held out to her. Hermione swapped the cup for it and dabbed at her face.
“What happened when he showed up?” Ron prompted her to continue, setting her cup on the table.
Hermione sniffled. “He…he claimed he’d already found that patch and wanted me to move to a smaller one he’d discovered further south. I refused, of course, and we…we got into a shouting match and we weren’t paying any attention to where we were stepping and…”
“And you fell into the fissure,” Ron finished for her. She nodded.
“I started to fall first,” she said, “I reflexively grabbed for him to try and stop myself, but…he was too close and the ground was pebbly and…”
“You both went in,” he completed her sentence again. She merely gave another nod as she blew her nose. Ron watched her wipe her face for a moment and then asked, “How long were the two of you in there?”
Hermione swallowed around the lump in her throat. “Four days.”
Ron gaped at her. “Four days,” he echoed in disbelief. He slumped back in his chair. “Four days,” he repeated in morbid awe.
“We survived off of the rain water,” she explained in monotone. “And by tandem casting for warmth.”
“Tandem casting?” Ron’s curious voice interjected.
Hermione looked back up at him. “Our arms were trapped and we had no wands. So we pressed our faces together and combined our magic to cast warming charms.”
“You and Malfoy pressed your faces together?” he asked incredulously.
“We did what we had to,” she said, averting her eyes again. “We helped each other survive.”
Ron’s brow furrowed. “Yeah, I suppose that git would do anything he needed to to save his ar-”
“Don’t,” she cut him off angrily. “Don’t you dare speak ill of him.”
“What happened in there, Hermione?” he asked, sounding frustrated when she buried her face into the handkerchief and started to cry again.
Hermione shook her head slightly, but she was spared from answering when there was a knock at the door. Ron got up at once and went to it, and Hermione looked up and watched anxiously as he opened the door to reveal John just beyond.
The Aurors-in-training exchanged a hurried whisper and then Ron glanced back over his shoulder at Hermione.
“I need to have a quick word with John. I’ll be just out here in the hall and I’ll be right back, okay?” he said with a forced smile that looked far from reassuring. Hermione said nothing, but Ron still slipped into the hall and pulled the door shut behind himself.
When she heard the click of the door, Hermione grabbed her wand from the table beside her bed and flicked it at the door. At once, the image of what looked like a projected screen appeared on the wall beside it. Hermione squinted at it as a transcript of the conversation that was happening just beyond in the hall magically formed on the wall.
…but stable. She seems strangely concerned about Malfoy.”
“Understandable, I’d suppose. Being stuck together like that…I imagine you form a bond.”
“I don’t even want to think about it.”
"And him? Did they finally give it up then?”
"Nah, they got him back.”
Hermione audibly gasped at that, but read on as the words kept coming.
“No fucking way.”
“Took a dozen Healers and ol’ Lucius owes the hospital a new wing, but yeah, mate, they fucking did it.”
“Yeah, but he’s still a mess. They moved him up here to room 114. He’s breathing on his own finally, but he’s still out. And they couldn’t save the arm.”
“When will he wake up?”
“They, uh…they don’t know if he will. There’s brain activity since they gave him the nerve restorative potions when he first came in, but he’s not responding to any stimuli. He could wake up in five minutes or two weeks… or never.”
Hermione clutched at her wand and the sheet at her side as she stared at the wall waiting for more words.
“Shite, I’m not looking forward to telling her,” the conversation picked back up.
“You want me to?”
“No. You’re gonna have your hands full with the report on Malfoy.”
“You’re sure? I’ll do it.”
“No, it should be me. I’ll, uh, I’ll see you back at headquarters later. Thanks, mate.”
“Sure… Hell of a first rescue, huh?”
“Not exactly my first.”
“Right. Well, um, good luck. See you when you get done.”
Hermione flicked her wand when the door handle began to turn and the words on the wall immediately disappeared. When Ron walked back in, Hermione sat up in the bed.
"I want to see him," she said. Ron stilled in the doorway and then frowned at the wand in her hand.
"You did that eavesdropping spell you invented, didn't you?" He didn't wait for an answer as he shook his head and clicked the door shut. "I've been tellin' George to try and recruit you for years to help develop new sneaky stuff like tha-"
"I want to see him," Hermione repeated forcefully.
Ron sighed and put one hand on his hip and pinched the bridge of his nose with the other. "You can't," he replied apologetically.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "He's alive and I want to be there when he wakes up."
He shook his head again as he came forward and retook his seat at her bedside. "You're not his family, Hermione," he reminded her, "so they won't let you in without his consent."
"He'd want me there," she countered surely.
Ron gave her a pitying look. "Lucius Malfoy wants you arrested for attempted murder,” he said bluntly.
Hermione’s eyes went wide. “What!? That’s…that’s preposterous! It was an accident! We BOTH fell in. You, you can’t-”
“Hermione, we know,” he tried to placate her, “we know. No one believes that you were out to kill Malfoy. It was pretty obvious from the circumstances that it was an accident. But you know how Lucius is; he’s got to blame someone.”
“Am I under arrest then?” she snapped.
Ron shook his head. “No one is going to arrest you. But until Malfoy wakes up and specifically asks to see you, there is no way anyone’s going to let you near him.”
Hermione said nothing to that and simply cast a despondent look down at her legs. Ron frowned in concern again as he watched her begin to look catatonic. He set his wand on the table and then reached forward to gently pry Hermione’s wand and used handkerchief from her curled fingers. She made no effort to resist the action and Ron sighed as he set the items aside with his own wand.
“You should lie back down,” he ordered lightly, standing to coax her down in the bed with his hands on her upper arms. Again, she complied without resistance and then curled up into a fetal position once she was down. Ron sat back down again and roamed his eyes over her sullen face. A tear trailed down her cheek and he shifted awkwardly in his chair.
“I, uh…I called your parents,” he said, sounding desperate for something to cheer her up. “Your mum said that she and your dad will be on the first flight out of Australia.”
Hermione simply closed her eyes.
“Harry, Gin, and Gabby will be in to see you tomorrow…and Mum sent over these already,” Ron continued, glancing at the bouquet. “Hermione…”
When she still didn’t respond beyond clutching tighter at her middle, Ron ran a hand through his hair again and let out an exhausted huff.
“Look, I…I know you’ve been through a lot,” he started awkwardly, “I…I can’t even imagine…but you’re okay now, Hermione. You’re alright and you don’t have to be sa-”
“He’s not alright,” Hermione interrupted with a sad whisper.
Ron’s mouth twisted as he regarded her. “Hermione,” he said, his tone managing to come across as apologetic and condescending at once, “I know you always had a bit of a weird soft-spot for Malfoy, but you think you’d be -”
“I love him.”
A thick silence fell between them after her quiet admission. Ron just stared down at her in bemused shock.
“You think I’m barmey,” Hermione said, her face pulling into a miserable grimace.
Ron opened and closed his mouth several times before saying, “I think this is just some sort of bizarre traumatic coping syndrome or something or other. You being single and then getting trapped with him for days, thinking you’re gonna…” He trailed off when Hermione began hugging at herself even more tightly.
“Hermione,” he tried again after a moment, “I don’t know what happened between the two of you in there, and I don’t think I want to…but, trust me. You’re not in love with Malfoy. You just need time to get yourself right again.”
Hermione swallowed hard and finally glanced up at her long-time friend. “Will…will you at least let me know when he wakes up?”
Ron frowned slightly. “Hermione, he might not ev-”
“Just, please?” she cut him off. “Please tell me when he’s awake.”
“Yeah…yeah, okay,” he agreed reluctantly.
Hermione closed her eyes again and tugged the sheet up to cuddle under. “Thank you,” she said. Ron merely nodded and then held a silent watch over her then until she quietly drifted back to sleep.
Day Five: Night
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hermione silently took up the dressing gown that she’d found folded at the foot of her hospital bed when she’d woken from her long kip. A glance around the room told her that she was still alone since Ron’s departure several hours prior – with still no word on any improvement in Draco’s condition.
She furrowed her brow slightly at the conjured chair her friend had left behind as she slipped her arms into the sleeves and then snatched up her wand from the bedside table. Tugging the dressing gown more snugly around herself and gripping her wand tightly, she tiptoed somewhat shakily to the door and carefully placed her ear to it.
She pulled back and bit her bottom lip in her teeth as she set her hand to the door and tried to ease it open without a sound. The hinge creaked and she held her breath as she waited to hear a reaction from the hall outside. When nothing happened, she slowly opened the door the rest of the way and peeked out. Her eyes darted up and down the long, seemingly deserted corridor before she slunk out into it.
Her bare feet padded silently over the cold floor as she rapidly scanned the room numbers that she passed. There was a flash of movement in her peripheral vision and she flattened herself against the wall and cast a hasty yet effective disillusionment charm.
A Healer, face in a file, walked by without noticing her and then disappeared around a corner.
Hermione puffed out a relieved breath and then dropped the charm and continued to scurry down the hall until she saw it.
She let her eyes shut as she steeled herself and then opened them again and placed her fingers to the room’s door handle. The door made a clicking noise as it opened and she again stilled in anticipation of being caught. When again nothing happened, she poked her head inside the dark room to see Draco, apparently asleep, reclined against the raised head of his hospital bed.
With as much stealth as her tired limbs would allow, Hermione slipped into the room and quietly clicked the door closed. She stood there for a moment, unmoving as she scanned the room to find it empty but for Draco. Her breath caught when her eyes fell on him. His chest rose and fell steadily as he slept, his clean, smooth hair shining brightly with the moonlight filtering in through the window.
Hermione’s gaze moved to two bedside tables that were cluttered with a multitude of potion bottles and clean dressings and she pursed her lips sadly as she went to them and scanned the labels.
There were at least two dozen different potions.
“You didn’t give-up,” she whispered proudly as she picked up a vial labeled ‘for acute kidney failure’.
There was a sudden rustling of fabric as Draco stirred in his sleep and Hermione quickly set down the empty vial and her wand and tiptoed over to his side. She carefully sat beside him on the edge of the bed and looked him over again.
Aside from the bandages covering the stump where his left arm had been amputated from the elbow down, he looked entirely unharmed. Hermione’s eyes lingered forlornly on the bandages for a moment before traveling up to his peaceful face as she gingerly picked up his right hand between hers.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Draco, I’m so sorry this happened.”
She raised his hand to her mouth and kissed his knuckles and then startled when his fingers tightened around hers.
“I’m not,” Draco’s groggy voice croaked. Hermione sucked in a breath and lowered his hand. She stared at him with wide eyes as he slowly blinked open his to look at her.
He squeezed her fingers again. “Hey,” he whispered tiredly.
“Hey,” she laughed lightly, giving him a watery smile.
Draco’s half-lidded eyes searched over her. “Are we dead then?” he asked.
Hermione shook her head. “No.”
He looked her over again, taking in the way the moonlight made her white dressing gown appear to glow and the strip of white bandage over her forehead and made a confused humming noise. “But you look like an angel.”
Hermione continued to smile as she shook her head again. “Not dead,” she said, “you made it. We made it.”
“Miracle?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she whispered back, rubbing her one hand over the top of his. “More than one, apparently.”
“Angel,” he repeated, closing his eyes. Hermione remained quiet as she watched him rest. He opened his eyes a bit wider a few minutes later and roamed them around the dark room.
“How long have we been here?” he asked, beginning to look much more awake.
Hermione continued to rub at his hand. “Less than a day. The potions seem to have worked fairly quickly.”
Draco eyed the tables full of empty bottles and then closed his eyes again. “How did we get here?”
“Do you remember me telling you about Harry and Ron being gone for Auror training to locations unknown?” she asked.
“I remember everything,” he said significantly.
Hermione’s fingers clutched his tighter. “Well,” she said, “one of the locations happened to be where we were. They set up camp near our crevice late last night. They heard me screaming after…after you…”
She choked-up and bowed her head. Draco cracked his eyes back open to look at her.
“After I what?” he asked.
Hermione raised her head to meet his eyes. “You died. And I sort of went a bit hysterical.”
Draco frowned. “I guess I don’t remember everything.”
“I don’t remember much after that either,” she confessed. “I remember screaming and then the next thing I know I’m waking up here.”
“Wait…” Draco said with a confused look, “how is it I’m here if I died?”
Hermione took in a deep breath. “Your parents refused to let them stop trying to resuscitate you. It took a team of Healers, eight hours, and all of this to get you back,” she answered, nodding toward the potion bottles.
Draco’s eyes went wider. “My parents are here?”
“They were,” she replied with a small shake of her head. “The Aurors brought them back home when you stabilized.” She paused and took another deep breath before adding, “Your father wants me arrested for attempting to murder you.”
Draco puffed out a breath of his own. “Yeah…that sounds like something he’d do.”
He then simply pursed his lips and stared around at the room. When his eyes settled back on Hermione beside him, he furrowed his brow slightly and then looked down to her hands holding his, then around the room again, and back to her.
“This…this is weird,” he said. Hermione’s expression fell even further at that and her mouth flattened into an awkward line.
“Sorry,” she said, setting down his hand, “I, uh…I shouldn’t have just let myself in here. It’s just…I…I wanted to see-”
“It’s weird that you’re so far away,” Draco went on as if she’d said nothing.
“What?” she asked, taken aback.
Draco merely regrasped her hand and tugged. “You’re not close enough,” he said. “Get up here with me.”
Hermione bit her lip but knelt up onto the mattress beside him and let him use her to support himself as he started to shift over to give her room to lay down. The remaining portion of his left arm rose up as he went to try and use it and he grunted in pain.
“Well, that kind of sucks,” he said, looking down at the missing limb.
“I’m so sorry,” Hermione offered with a sad look to his bandages again.
Draco frowned again. “Are you the infection that ate it away?”
“Well…no,” she answered.
“Then you have no reason to be sorry,” he said.
Hermione sighed and cast her gaze abashedly to the floor. “It’s my fault we got stuck down there in the first place,” she muttered.
Draco shook his head as he pulled at her with his right arm to lie down. Hermione carefully snuggled up next to him and slid her arm over his middle. His right arm tightened around her back as she nestled her face against his chest.
“Much better,” he sighed, resting his cheek on the top of her head. “Is this okay? I’m not hurting your head am I?” he asked.
“It’s okay,” she said. “It’s mostly healed already but they refuse to let me take the bandages off until tomorrow.”
Draco hummed sympathetically and then went quiet until he heard Hermione sniffle. “What’s wrong?”
Hermione smiled through her tears. “I’m just so glad you’re okay.”
“I’m glad you’re okay,” he replied sincerely. They simply held each other then in the dark, taking comfort in the bodies that had become so familiar.
“You were there first,” Draco said seemingly out of nowhere, breaking the silence a time later. Hermione merely hugged him harder and he went on. “I shouldn’t have tried to bully you into moving.”
“I shouldn’t have gotten in your face either,” Hermione replied.
Draco smiled. “You don’t take shit from anybody,” he teased lightly.
“My attitude,” she agreed, “the one you hate me for.”
Hermione felt his chest still for the briefest of moments. His arm relaxed its hold on her slightly as he pulled his head back to look down at her. She tilted her face up to meet his stormy gaze.
“I never got to finish,” he said. Hermione’s brow creased.
Draco lifted his hand and brought it to her hair. He watched his own fingers tenderly tuck a curly strand that was sticking out from her bandages behind her ear before looking her back in the eyes.
“The reasons that I love you,” he answered. It was Hermione’s turn to hold her breath as she saw the honesty in his expression.
Draco’s fingers twirled into her hair at her neck as he spoke. “Your name,” he said softly, “is beautiful. Unique. And it tastes like caramel when you say it.”
He leaned forward and pressed their foreheads together. “Hermione,” he said slowly.
Hermione’s fingers clutched at Draco’s side as he hummed appreciatively at the sound of her name on his lips. She lifted her head from his and their eyes met again.
“Draco,” she said reverently. He smiled at her and then, his hand still in her hair, gently pulled her head forward and placed a soft kiss to her lips.
“I find I enjoy that much more without the looming sense of doom,” he sighed after they pulled apart. Hermione laughed lightly.
“Yes,” she agreed. “And with fresh breath."
Draco chuckled but then looked serious again.
“I’m sorry I got sick on you,” he said, his face pulling into a slightly embarrassed scowl.
Hermione shrugged where she lay. “I got sick on you too. Besides, you already apologized when you did it,” she said.
Draco shook his head slightly. “That’s not what I was apologizing for at the time,” he said softly.
Hermione rubbed her fingers up and down his side. “I know,” she whispered back, “and I forgave you for all that too.”
Draco nuzzled his face against the top of her head and held her tighter.
“Still think fate’s a cruel bitch?” Hermione asked.
Draco glanced over at what remained of his left arm and then back down at the witch huddled with him. “Maybe not entirely cruel,” he said, “but she’s got a fucking wicked sense of humor.”
She nodded lightly in agreement and then snuggled into him harder.
“I’m not hurting you am I?”
Draco shook his head. “Not at all.”
“This is cozy,” she said, closing her eyes contentedly. Draco looked down at her.
“Well, everything is different,” he said. Hermione pressed her ear to his chest and smiled at the strong, steady sound of his heart beating within.
“Everything is different,” she agreed.
“But don’t you even bother asking me, because the answer will forever be no,” he said abruptly. Hermione pulled a confused face.
“Ask you what?”
Draco smiled up at the ceiling as he stroked his hand over her shoulder. “Permission to shave my legs.”
Hermione shook her head against him. “Insufferable,” she sighed. He smiled wider.
“And all yours for eternity,” he said.
Just the Epilogue left! :)
Day Four-thousand-fifteen: Morning
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Draco turned to his daughter as he adjusted the magical prosthetic of his left arm and smiled. “Yes, lil’ Snitch?”
Four-year-old Rose Malfoy dimpled up at her father. “Why do you wear the pretend arm? What happened to your real one?”
“A troll bit it off, kneazle breath,” nine-year-old Scorpius Malfoy answered tauntingly as he seated himself at the breakfast table.
“Scor,” Hermione admonished him with a stern look, “what have I told you about referring to your sister as kneazle breath?”
The preteen rolled his eyes. “To not to,” he muttered, reaching for a piece of toast from the plate in the center of the table.
Hermione and Draco shifted their matching frowns at their son’s cheek back into smiles at their daughter. Rose’s tiny mouth was pulled into a scared pout.
“Did a troll really eat Daddy’s arm?” she asked, honey eyes wide and welling with tears.
“Of course not, Rosie,” Hermione assured her gently.
Rose furrowed her little brow at Draco’s prosthetic. “Then why doesn’t he have it anymore?”
Draco glanced up at Hermione who smiled nostalgically before looking back at their daughter.
“A long time ago,” she answered, “Daddy’s arm got hurt in an accident. And it got hurt so badly that the Healers couldn’t fix it and they had to take it off.”
Young Rose contemplated her mother’s explanation for a moment and then looked back at her father.
“Daddy, are you sad that the Healers had to take off your arm?”
Draco blinked at her and then turned to Hermione again. “No,” he said surely, reaching his right hand over to squeeze Hermione’s, “I’m not sad at all.”
A thousand emotions and memories passed silently between husband and wife in that moment before Draco returned his attention to the youngest Malfoy.
“And do you know why I’m not sad, lil’ Snitch?” he asked her.
Rose’s eyes twinkled with innocent anticipation. “Why?” she asked eagerly.
Draco released Hermione’s hand and grinned mischievously at his daughter. “Because I can still catch you!” he shouted as he shot up from his chair.
Rose shrieked gleefully as she darted from her seat. She laughed as she ran down the hallway, Draco at her heels. Scorpius bolted from his chair as well.
“Make way for the Bludger!” he announced, taking off after his father and sister, his toast forgotten on the table.
Hermione watched her family play, her hand at her heart, and then turned to smile out her favorite of their many kitchen windows. It was the one shadowed by the plants growing up over its panes.
Red roses twined with green briar.
Wow…This piece was difficult for me to complete, because when I write I really put myself into the story, and so I want to thank each and every reader who helped encourage me along the way. Your recs, comments and kudos have really meant so much, and I hope you enjoyed this story…well, as much as someone can enjoy an angsty survival fic, LOL.
Also, I’ve probably done more research for this fic than all of my others combined as I wanted to make sure that the medical aspects were as accurate as possible. I took some liberties, obviously, with the amount of brain damage Draco probably would’ve sustained in real life, however, since he technically was only without oxygen for ten minutes or less and they gave him nerve restorative potions right away, I figured in that magical circumstance I could be forgiven. ;)
And I had contemplated writing a very tragic alternate ending, but wasn’t sure if anyone would care for it. Is that something anyone would be interested in? Let me know.
Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you all for taking the time to read and review.