Life Debt

Struggling

-Draco-

After being rushed out of the room, the others left. I stayed behind, unwilling to be far from Hermione and agreeing to update the others on what happened. It seemed like hours before Lovegood emerged from the room, with a somber look on her face.

"How is she?" I'd been sitting against the wall beside the door, rushing to my feet as I spoke. Panic coursed through me, as I realized this was the first time I'd ever seen an expression on Lovegood's face that wasn't dazed.

"We managed to dull the pain, but she needs constant attention. Mrs. Weasley is currently tending to her. It seems the manticore did something to her. When we treated her wounds before, we only focused on the blatant ones, where the manticore bit or clawed. Unfortunately, we didn't realize it had done more than that. We found a stinger in her inner thigh."

"But it didn't shoot her… I removed its tail… And if it had, she would have died on the spot…" How was that even possible?

"It would seem the tail shot the stinger anyway. We have no way to tell why or how she survived, but she did. Now she's just fighting the pain. The pain is progressing slowly, and my theory is that it's due to the tail having been severed from the rest of the body. Perhaps you punctured the gland, and the dart alone simply cripples a victim. Whatever the case, there isn't much we can do but wait…"

"Dammit!" For a moment, I lost my composure further, turning to punch the wall beside me. Was I supposed to just wait for her to get better?

"Draco…" She placed a hand on my arm, pulling it back down. "We need to move forward. Worrying about Hermione right now will not help anyone." It was all I could do not to lash out at Lovegood. It wasn't her fault Hermione was like this, it was mine. It seems, the closer I get to Hermione, the closer she gets to danger. Without even realizing it, a plan was already forming. The other women exited Hermione's room, allowing me back inside. She was still lying down, but she was awake, her body tense.

-Hermione-

Everyone left the room, and I could hear Draco walking in. I couldn't do anything but just lie there, gripping the sheets in an attempt to fight the pain. They'd done what they could, and I was immensely grateful, but it wasn't enough to kill the pain. I didn't know if I would survive, or if the condition would ever improve. I had to hope, though.

"Draco…" My voice was weak, and I could hardly bear appearing this feeble in front of him.

"Shh…don't strain yourself, Hermione." He sat beside me and took my hand again. "Luna told me what they found…"

"Yea… I didn't even feel it…sting." It was difficult to speak.

"You have to focus on getting better now. More than likely, Potter is going to mount an attack. This will all be over soon. I promise…" He bent down and kissed me softly, before sitting up again. "When this is all over, you'll finally be safe." I didn't like how he was talking. It sounded too much like a good-bye, too much like that time in the library.

"You…mean we. We'll…be safe…" He was about to get up, but I held onto his hand. Where was he going? Why would he leave me behind? He simply smiled at my correction, kissed me again, and left.

-Draco-

I wanted nothing more than to stay with her. I promised her I would never leave again, and this was the second time since I'd promised. This time, I wasn't entirely sure I'd come back. Potter's plan wasn't so much a plan as a general outline, and the chance of survival for any of us was slim.

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