Chapter Two: The Serendipitous Slytherin
As she marched through the streets of wizarding London trying to clear her head she realised with a curse that she hadn't even noticed where her feet were carrying her, nor had she thought about where she would go. She couldn't go home, putting her emotions aside, she realised Ron would get off with a slap of the wrist and maybe a few-nights detainment to keep him sober. Domestics were hardly the ministry's priority and he was a member of The Golden Trio. Sill, tonight, for all intents and purposes her home was a crime scene.
She knew she could go to Grimmauld Place, but she couldn't bear to be around the Order, with the Weasley's and with Harry. She knew there would come a time when she would have to explain not just the evening but the past months to everyone and she couldn't do it tonight. She just couldn't.
With a heart wrenching sob, she dropped to her knees in the alley and let out a scream of fury as she realised how much of herself had been well and truly drained. The scream felt good, so she did it again and again, she let out all the pain Ron had brought her, all the love between them that suffocated and died out before it had a chance to live, her heartbreak for the Weasley's that their family may never be the same and that she would never be a part of them as she had always planned. She screamed out her fears for Ginny's health and for everything that her, Harry and Ron had been through together before all of this. She let it all out, until an interruption forced her to bring her very public grieving session to a halt.
"Granger?!" someone exclaimed In surprise "What the fuck?" she recognised the all too familiar voice and her suspicion was confirmed as she looked up to see a blonde mop of hair and stormy eyes glaring down at her.
"Malfoy?" she jumped up both embarrassed and instantly defensive.
"Care to explain what you're doing outside my house screaming at 2am Granger? And while you're at it, how the fuck did you get past my wards?" he asked, his tone was more incredulous than hostile.
"Your what?" Hermione muttered and then feeling incredibly stupid she realised that behind her now stood a tall London town house that had obviously been concealed when she arrived. Holy shit! She covered her mouth with one hand and the other snapped to her wand as the unwelcome memories of Malfoy Manor invaded her mind.
"Expelliarmus" he whispered, too quick for her in her current state. "I'm not going to hurt you Granger" he said harshly, handing her wand back to her and sounding somewhat irritated at the notion. It was then that he really took in the sight of her. Her pallid skin looked like she hadn't seen daylight in months and the previously bushy hair that he was so secretly fond of was plastered stickily against her face. She had been crying, Draco realised with surprise and felt suddenly uncomfortable. He was never good with female emotions and something bad must have happened to make the great Hermione Granger shed tears. So, he said the only solution that came to his mind at this time of night.
"Come in if you like Granger, you look in dire need of a Fire whiskey" he offered curtly and spun on his heel before he could take it back, he knew he didn't need to persuade her and he was too proud to do so, but if he were right then the bookworm's curiosity always got the best of her. Still, what the hell was he doing sharing a drink with Granger and in his home? "Salazar himself could not have predicted this chain of events" he muttered. Grabbing a bottle of his fathers most prized Fire whiskey and thinking with a hint of pleasure what Lucius's face might look like if he knew that while he rotted away in Azkaban Draco was preparing to share one of his most treasured possessions with the Gryffindor Princess.
Hermione hesitated at the doorway to Malfoy's residence, her brain warring between her acute war instincts and her insatiable curiosity. She knew that she shouldn't linger on the street any longer than she already had. Slowly, she extended one hand over the doorway, her wand ready in the other. To her surprise she heard a warm, throaty chuckle.
"Honestly Granger aren't you supposed to be a Gryffindor? I won't bite you know". Hermione rounded the corner expecting to see his snide arrogant smirk but it was missing. In its place was a hint of a smile and something she couldn't quite put her finger on. It was shy, no…that was the wrong word, wary maybe?
Her eyes fell on the glass of brown liquid he had poured for her and for the first time that she could remember, Hermione Granger decided to act without thinking. Glaring at the glass and thinking of how Ron had loved this stupid stuff more than he had loved her, she downed it in one.
"Whoa!" exclaimed Malfoy, grabbing the glass off her, "easy Granger this isn't The Three Broomsticks, this is the strongest stuff money can buy!" It was then that he noticed the darkness in her eyes and realised he was not speaking to the Granger he knew, school perfectionist and sensible war hero.
"Granger, what the HELL happened to you tonight" he asked her fiercely. Hermione looked at him, prepared to bite back with a spiteful retort but as she met his stormy grey eyes she saw something in them she hadn't expected. They were surprised definitely but understanding, he wasn't judging her for wanting to drink away her thoughts tonight. He almost looked like he had been in her position before and there was something else brewing in the storm behind his pupils. The eyes were concerned, full of concern in fact…was he worried about her? Taking a deep breath, she pondered, not for the first time, if it were possible that there was still a good man in Draco Malfoy?
"Granger, hello?" Draco was getting irritated with her non-responsiveness and he felt helpless, why had he thought she would talk to him anyway, she hated him. "Look Granger I really don't want to do this but If you need me to call Weasley then…"
It was the trigger her subconscious had been waiting for, she felt her legs give up and slid off the chair to her knees, Draco caught her wrists and held her upright and for a moment he wasn't Malfoy, despicable racist and arrogant prat, he was someone who would be as angry at Ron as she was. So, even though she knew her current circumstances made absolutely no sense, she let her head drop into Malfoy's lap, took a deep shuddering breath and poised herself to tell him everything.
Draco had leant out to catch her without thinking and now he couldn't get his head around the fact that Granger was willingly staying in his arms. He couldn't understand why she hadn't recoiled instantly. When she let her head rest on his leg, he tensed in surprise. He tried not to think about the fact that this woman had saved his life in more ways than one, if this was what she needed then he would swallow his pride for one night and let her have it. Stroking her hair unconsciously he whispered to her as his mother used to do to him before…everything.
"It'll be ok" he continued to whisper on repeat until he realised she had fallen asleep. He couldn't understand how she had managed it in such a position but he supposed that seven years of falling asleep on a stack of books had prepared her.
With a deep sigh he realised he couldn't send her home in this condition. "Trixie" he called, with a pop an elderly house elf appeared and immediately squawked, averting her eyes.
"Trixie is sorry master, Trixie did not realise you hads lady company sir, Trixie should have knocked!" the elf turned her back, cringing visibly. Only then did it occur to Draco what having Granger's head in his lap whilst she was on her knees must look like from the poor elf's position. "Merlin!" he cursed and pushed the image from his mind before something happened that he could not control.
"Trixie our guest just had a little too much to drink and fell asleep. Can you please prepare the guest room?" he ordered in a somewhat strained voice. Having Grangers warm heavy head in his lap was starting to cause an involuntary reaction and he really didn't want to have to explain that to her if she woke up.
"Wingardium Leviosa" he whispered, levitating her gently up the stairs and turned towards his own quarters, trying very hard not to think about what tomorrow would bring.
Authors Note: Poor little Trixie! haha, I just find grown up Draco to be adorable when he's embarrassed. So I know this was a very short chapter but I wanted it to reflect the abruptness of this change in their relationship. What do you think? Why did Draco help Hermione? How will she feel about him when tomorrow comes?
Please review, I really appreciate any feedback :)