Hermes' secret

Chapter 23

A/N: I am absolutely enjoying writing this fanfiction ,but as a side story I was wondering whether I should start another one. I was thinking that it'd be an AU featuring Hermione in Slytherin. Would any of you be interested in reading it or do you want me to finish this story first?

Please PM me or add it into your reviews. Thanks a lot.

'Go on' Pansy whispered hurriedly ,pushing Draco lightly in the back.

'Why me?' Draco complained ,looking anxiously at the brunette they were all spying on 'Theo knows the most about the connection. It should be him'

'Not again' Theo moaned ,absolutely annoyed at having Draco bring up the same argument again and again.

'It's true ,though and you never have anything other to say than the fact that she's known me for longer' Draco snapped ,highly impatient 'Just go there and finish it off with'

'Impatience isn't going to work' Blaise tutted in a sing-song voice. 'You've tried that too many time on us in first-year'

'We've decided it's you ,so it's going to be you' Pansy said sharply ,ignoring the boys' outburst.

'Well, I never agreed' Draco said. 'And what about Weaselette? She has known Hermione for longer.'

'Yes you did agree. You were nodding your head like some kind of deranged psychopath not more than twenty-four hours ago' Theo reminded him. 'Ginny' He stressed the girl's name ,'is still in class remember

Draco frowned. 'I'd forgotten that you'd memories her timetable and it was different yesterday'

'Like nerves difference' Blaise chuckled and Draco glared at him.

'I'm not nervous. I just don't want to blow our chance. We only get one' Draco pointed out ,trying to resist the urge to wring his hands together nervously.

'You're nervous ,Draco, so stop denying it' Pansy condoled softly 'Just go out there and ask her' She pushed him again and this time he fell forward ,his hands the only thing keeping his nose from smashing into the rough, carpeted library floor.

Hermione's head snapped around.

Her eyes connected with Draco's for a fraction of a second before she turned back around as if nothing had happened.

Glaring at Pansy ,who was holding out his schoolbag ,Draco snatched it from her roughly before turning back to Hermione and marching up to the desk. Unsure what to do, Draco ,seeing that she was doing her transfiguration homework took his out as well.

Blaise rolled his eyes at his way of getting her attention from behind the bookcase and Draco glared at him. Blaise smirked.

'Ummm, about the homework,' Draco began anxiously ,unsure what to ask Hermione. Pansy made encouraging hand gestures behind her back ,while Blaise seemed to be trying to mime something. He frowned ,confused.

Hermione looked up at him. 'Homework?' she asked ,there was a sad tint to her voice and she looked down at the table. 'You wanted to ask me about homework' Her voice almost cracked. Almost.

Draco looked surprised at her reaction ,wanting to reach out to her ,but thinking better of it at the last moment ,remembering how Hermione had reacted to Ginny's touch. Why wasn't that wretched girl here?

'No...I mean, yes ,' He stuttered unconvincingly ,trying to please her with his answer but unsure what to say. Theo slapped his hand to his forehead and Pansy rolled her eyes knowingly.

'It's all right' She sighed ,but her eyes didn't match her words as she got up to get books from a bookshelf behind Draco muttering 'It's all you find useful in me ,anyway'

Draco scrunched up his forehead. What was that supposed to mean? It was her that was avoiding them ,not the other way round. He would have approached her for a load more other things than just homework ,but she'd always seemed so distressed.

Hermione came back with two books. 'Read chapter twelve in the first and chapter thirteen in the second. They should tell you al you need to know to write the essay. If you have any questions...' She trailed off. Her words were light ,but her voice was dull and heavy and Draco found himself being dragged down with it. Pansy was looking perplexed at his change of mood and when he looked up gave him a questioning thumbs-up ,as if to ask whether everything was all right. Even Blaise looked partially sombre ,adjusting to the atmosphere.

Hermione sat down in front of him to continue with her homework ,but when Draco didn't even attempt to open to the books, she looked back up 'Do you not understand something?' Even if she believed that Draco was't friends with her, she couldn't seem to bring herself to shun him.

'I didn't come to you for homework' Draco began ,pushing away the textbooks and ignoring Pansy's silent screaming issuing as a mute siren from behind Hermione ,just as Ginny joined her and looked in apprehension at the scene before her ,Theo whispering updates in her ear. 'I came to ask you something'

Hermione looked marginally hopeful ,but her mouth was still a thin, straight line and Draco didn't dare get his hopes up.

'We figured something out. Something about those instances' Draco said. Hermione looked up startled.

'You mean during those sessions?' she asked.

'Yeah, Theo found it last time ,while you were searching in a different section' He didn't mention the fact that she'd been searching in a different section to theirs rather frequently and Hermione was grateful for it.

'What did you find?' she asked.

'You're seeing things ,aren't you?' Draco asked before explaining himself 'When you collapse ,you see visions ,right? Visions that-'

He didn't continue ,though ,because at that moment there was a small scuffle from behind the bookshelf ,causing a small avalanche of books to tumble off the shelves ,revealing Pansy and Ginny looking angrier as ever as they glared at the other two Slytherin boys who were not-so-silently arguing with each other.

Hermione stood up from her feet to face them. Her face didn't show anger ,per se ,instead she looked disappointed and annoyed. Blaise and Theo froze mid-action and turned to stare guiltily at her. Pansy and Ginny looked ready to launch into explanation just as Hermione spoke.

'You were spying on me?' she asked ,her voice level ,but there was an ominous tilt to her voice that warned them of an upcoming argument.

'We didn't want to bombard you' Pansy corrected ,in a feeble attempt to console her. She'd seen the girl's temper and wasn't looking forward to being on the receiving end of it.

'We thought that if it was only Draco you'd open up to him' Theo nodded ,believing that honesty was the best way forward.

'About what?' Hermione snapped ,keeping her voice low in case Madam Pince came along 'Open up to him about what?'

'I was just going to ask you,' Draco explained ,getting up also and looking Hermione straight in the eye ,as if in an attempt to open up to her. He took a deep breath before starting again. 'We believe you're seeing visions from Bellatrix when you collapse. Visions that are making you act all distant. We just wanted to know what they were and if we could help you'

'We had no bad intentions. Promise' Blaise nodded.

Hermione looked down at her feet. They had figured out what was going on all by themselves ,not troubling or alerting her one but in the process ,in an attempt to give her time to heal. A warm spread over her body and Hermione almost smiled at her friends ,when she realised what they'd just done and forced a glare back onto her face. She wasn't letting them off easily.

'So you just thought that you'd sneak up on me while doing my Transfiguration homework and see what I say?' Hermione asked ,disappointment woven expertly into her tone. Her voice was just above a whisper but they could hear her as clear as glass. 'You never thought what I'd think of it?'

'You haven't talked to us at all ,though and whenever we try, you just shun us' Draco defended ,matter-of-factly. 'You are our friend and we had to at least try and help you ,whether you wanted our help or not'

Hermione felt tears prick her eyes and she suddenly felt the lack of her bushy curls ,as she found nothing to hide her face behind. How could those visions have clouded her mind so densely? How could she ever have tried to second guess her friends when they had done nothing but be nice to her?

She was a foul friend.

'I'm sorry' she sobbed ,collapsing into the chair behind her and feeling the weight of the tension enveloping her the past few days collapse over her like newly sprung waterfall ,as a hand was placed on her arm comfortingly and another on her back. 'I'm really sorry. I've been an awful friend to you all'

'It's not your fault' Ginny soothed ,calmly rubbing her back.

'Just tell us what happened' Blaise added impatiently and Hermione laughed shortly. It was the first laugh she had uttered in days and felt better than firewhisky ,not that she had tried any of course.

'Could you be more tactless?' Pansy whispered harshly ,glaring at Blaise who looked falsely guilty at Pansy before shooting Hermione a grin.

'It was Bellatrix' Hermione admitted eventually.

'We thought so' Theo nodded and Ginny shushed him hurriedly.

'She entered my mind and...' Hermione paused uncertainly, 'told me stuff'

Draco nodded encouragingly ,his hand still on her arm 'Go on'

Hermione told them everything ,every little detail she could remember about her dream and they listened ,captivated ,with baited breath.

When Hermione eventually finished there was a short-lived silence before Ginny spoke breathlessly ,as if she had just ran a marathon.

'You thought we were lying to you' It wasn't a question ,but Hermione nodded never the less. She had an urge to defend herself ,but didn't know what to say. What could you say in your defense when you doubted your only friends of lying to you? She was saved having to say anything ,though ,as Draco spoke for her.

'She was manipulated. It wasn't her fault' Draco said reassuringly ,as if more to himself than anyone else.

'I'm not blaming her' Blaise said ,holding up his arms in defense. 'I was on her side the whole time'

'Who said there were any sides?' Pansy asked him resolutely 'and even if there are, we're all on Hermione's side ,no questions raised'

'Here, here' Theo grinned ,raising an imaginary glass ,causing Ginny to hit his playfully on the arm.

'This isn't a time for jokes' Her voice was harsh ,but her light-hearted smile gave her away.

'Oh you guys are the best' she flung her arms over their shoulders ,tears running silently down her cheeks.

'You're crying?' Blaise asked in disbelief as they broke apart. Hermione grinned sheepishly wiping them away.

'They're happy tears ,Zabini' Pansy said ,shaking her head

'You cry when you're happy?' Theo asked ,looking like he supposed someone would suddenly cry 'not' and burst out laughing ,but no one seemed to be doing so.

'Yes, Nott. It's a very natural instinct' Ginny said ,talking as if she were explaining something to a two-year-old.

Draco simply smiled at Hermione. Tears were glistening prettily on her eyelashes and her cheeks were flushed ,tear tracks still visible across the tanned skin. He felt a sudden instinct to wipe them away ,but restrained himself quickly. What would she think of him?

Hermione simply smiled back at Draco ,watching his brow furrow slightly before letting her eyes stray to the rest of their group.

She really had an amazing set of friends. She wondered what would happen when she left ,though. Would they still keep in touch and meet on the weekends or would they part ways ,acting like they'd never known one another? It pained her to believe that the latter was still an option ,but you cannot ignore the truth.

Not forever ,at lest

A/N: That last line. Can anyone guess the double meaning? i'm not going to tell you ,obviously ,but maybe you can guess what might be uncovered. I've hinted to it rather explicitly earlier on in the story. Write it in your review and I'll tell you whether you got it or not.

This week ,as part of my next chapter is already finished ,if you review ,then I'll send you a short extract of what I've written. Make it interesting for you.

Btw, I'm still looking for a beta. Anyone interested?