Soooo I meant to post this before now and got distracted by the next round of LDWS lol...

This was my first attempt at the Protea inspiration round and I chickened out on going horror. Maybe it would have done better or maybe not, but now I'll never know! I'm trying to be braver on the next comp :)

Speaking of, Constellations comp has started! If you are interested in voting or even just reading, look for DramioneLDWS over on AO3 or find more info on Tumblr or in various Dramione FB groups. The entries have been stellar! pun intended ;)

"Holy fuck, Granger, what have you done?" Draco is staring at the place where the dead were once interred. Hallowed ground now corrupted, the dead transformed from corpses to inferi are reaching clawed hands through the dirt, shifting soil and decay to reach open air.

"I… It was a cleansing spell."

"Did you cleanse the fucking protection wards?!" He's backing away, shifts when a hand reaches for his boot. The bodies are digging themselves out, grey skin hanging, sloughing off the bone.

Draco breaks first, yelling, "Run!" and takes off through the forest. Hermione now understands why it is forbidden.

She thought to heal the land of Riddle's corruption, to put to rest the dozens of souls felled at the battle months before. But it seems this land was already corrupt.

She isn't sure why Draco followed her tonight, but is grateful for it.

"Faster, Granger; move it!"

She chases after him and is startled when he reaches blindly to take her hand, dragging her along.

"We have to...get back…," he pants out. "Wards will… slow... them down."

Hermione feels her side burn and calves ache. Behind them, lumbering forms crash through underbrush, gutteral noises swallowed in the thud of footsteps and smacks of flesh against trees.

The moonlit Hogwarts grounds have never looked more welcome. When they cross the treeline, they do not slow, racing toward the castle, until, at the entrance, they finally look back.

A breeze rustles short grass, leaves swaying gently. It's silent, and no horrors have followed.

Draco braces his hands on his knees, panting, and Hermione can't seem to form words.

Eventually, their breathing slows, and they both stare toward the forest. "I can't leave them like that," she says softly, knowing she wasn't imagining one of the corpses with bright pink hair.

She looks over at Draco to find him scowling. "I'm not one of your Gryffindor sycophants, Granger."

"And I didn't ask you to come with me."

They stare at each other for a long time, before he throws up his arms. "Fine! Dammit to fuck, fine… Let's get Theo, though. He knows a lot about inferi." Draco's through the doors before she can react.

"And Longbottom, loathe as I am to admit. Give him a sword, he can probably save us all. But do not tell, Potter," he adds. "Last thing I need is Aurors involved while I'm on probation." He keeps walking, continuing to comment on those allowed to join them and those (Harry) that are not.

He looks back. "Well? Come on."

Her eyes track him and her feet start to move. At the staircase, he waits for her. When she approaches, he runs his thumb gently along a scratch on her cheek. "You'll have to be more careful when we go back."

"Right… I will," she agrees softly, drawn in by sincere concern of his gaze.

This time, when he threads his fingers through hers, there is less urgency, but she clings back just the same.

Thanks for reading! Your follows, faves, and reviews have been as always the highlights of my day