Hello! This idea has been knocking around in my head for a long time! Hope you like it—and if you do, leave a review so that I have the strength to keep going! :D This story is dedicated to hptrio on youtube, for making a vid called "The Hammer Holds," which has greatly inspired this fic. Thanks so much, and enjoy!
"I just need a little more time…" Hermione is the one who finds Draco weeping in the bathroom. He flees from her. She chases him into the Room of Requirement, where time means nothing—and the room forces them to face their greatest fears, together, in order to find the door.
What the Room Requires
I sensed him come in. He carries a kind of chill with him, Draco Malfoy. At least for me. The look of ice, the aspect of snow.
I was sitting in the great hall, suspended in awkward silence between me and Ron as we craned our necks to watch Harry chase after Katie Bell—the girl we had seen thrown into the air and then tossed down by an invisible force—a terrible curse. But Malfoy's entrance stopped my memories, and I glanced up.
Malfoy stopped right in front of me and Ron. He wasn't wearing school robes—just trousers, a white shirt and plaid sweater-vest and tie. He looked pale, shadows under his eyes. And he froze where he stood, staring straight ahead of him. At Harry. And Katie.
For a moment, the noise all around me faded into the background, and a cold stone settled down in my gut. I was right before, when I had talked to Harry—Malfoy really did look ill. But right in that moment, I didn't even recognize him. Usually, he entered with a swagger and a smirk, no matter how weak nowadays, that I tried to ignore. But now…? Now, his confidence was gone. His pale blue eyes looked tired—afraid. My brow furrowed. How had a change like that happened, and why? I swallowed. When had I actually cared enough to find out?
His body tensed—leaned back. I glanced down the aisle…
To see that he and Harry's gazes had locked. My fists closed.
And then Malfoy looked at me. For just a second, he turned his head, met my eyes with a stark, trapped gaze, then retreated out of the noisy hall. I froze.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of Harry breaking away from Katie, and he strode back toward us—no, toward Malfoy.
"Stop!" I gasped to Harry, throwing off my shock and jumping to my feet. Harry disregarded me and kept going. I lunged over the table, knocking our drinks over, and grabbed Harry's arm.
"Hermione!" Ron yelped as pumpkin juice spilled all over his lap. "What are you—"
"Harry, don't," I hissed, ignoring the uproar I'd caused at the table. Harry's head whipped around and he pulled in close to my face, to avoid being heard.
"I have to." His gaze burned. "He cursed Katie—I saw it in his face."
"I know," I nodded, clamping down on his arm so he couldn't move. "That's why you can't do what you're planning to do."
Harry faltered, then his eyes narrowed.
"What did you think I was going to do?"
"Something unhelpful," I muttered, letting go of him, hopping over the bench and heading toward the door.
"Where are you going?" both Ron and Harry chorused.
"I'll meet you in the common room," I answered, not looking back. "Don't follow me!"
I darted out of the hall, pushing through a group of people coming in, trying not to be rude while straining to see over their heads.
There. I caught sight of a solitary form striding down the long hall past the stairs. I gritted my teeth and hopped up the steps two at a time, then made myself walk as fast as I could. I couldn't lose him around some corner—and I really hoped he wouldn't make it back to the door of his common room. I'd never hear the end of it from Harry.
Ahead of me, Malfoy lifted a hand and jerked on his tie, like it was choking him. I hurried faster, keeping my shoes quiet. He didn't know I was following him yet.
I drew in a deep breath through my nose, then another, my heart pounding. I knew I had been right in stopping Harry—he had been about to go off half-cocked and do something stupid, and probably violent, that wouldn't get us anywhere. It would probably get him expelled.
But what was I going to do? I had no experience talking to Draco Malfoy. Plus, I was so furious with him at the moment that I feltlike punching him again. And I would, except it wouldn't help the situation. I had no choice butto try to get him to talk.
But how would he react to being cornered, especially when he had that wild, unfamiliar look to him? I bit my lip. I was about to find out.
Malfoy's steps lurched, and he turned a corner and ducked into the boy's lavatory. I trotted after, then slowed and paused by the doorframe. I winced. No matter how many rules I'd already broken in my career at Hogwarts, I still felt weird about just marching into the boys' toilet.
But then, my gut relaxed, and I went still—as I watched Malfoy stagger forward, gasping, and brace his hands on the sink, as if he was about to be sick. His breathing heaved, and then he reached up and tore off his sweater vest and threw it down. His white-blonde hair mussed, he leaned over the sink again, turned the cold water on and splashed his gaunt face. The tumbling water echoed through the marble room. He lifted his head and stared at his reflection, his shoulders shivering. My lips parted, and my breathing slowed. Strange. It was like he didn't recognize himself, either. His eyes went wide, he made a thick choking sound, dropped his head…
And began to sob. Short, strangled, wrenching cries—hitched, panicked gasps, like he'd been stabbed in the chest.
Something inside of me collapsed. I wrapped my arms around myself, feeling my brow go tight. Draco was crying. I'd never seen him cry. He was always so aloof, so superior and cruel—I actually hadn't thought he was capable of it.
I stood rooted to the floor as he wept, and his sobs grew deeper. He clamped a hand over his mouth to stifle them, but his body shuddered.
"I can't," he whispered. "I can't, I can't…"
I took a step forward. Then another. My hands clenched to fists and I held my arms against me, forcing myself to keep going.
I halted about ten feet away, It was like I'd hit a wall. I swallowed. I knew, instinctively, that I was now dealing with a cornered wild animal. Well, if there was anything I'd learned from owning a cat, it was that in these situations, caution, logic, and courtesy were best. I took a breath.
"Shall I get the nurse?" My voice came out weak and shaky but it carried. Malfoy jerked around, hit his hip on the edge of the sink and struck his ring against the faucet. He gaped at me, his cheeks tear-stained. He glanced to the door, his brow twisted, and then he met my eyes again.
"What?" he stammered. I made my mouth and voice work, and kept myself from backing up.
"It's just…It looked as if you were ill," I said. "And I wondered if you wanted someone to…to get Madam Pomphrey."
His eyebrows went up and his mouth fell open, then he barked out a laugh and swiped at his face with his sleeve, scrambling to compose himself.
"Pomphrey?" he spat. "What could that old bat possibly know?"
I frowned. His hands were shaking. I opened my mouth, hesitated, then hazarded the next question.
"Are you all right?"
He sent me a razor glance.
"Am I all right?" he snapped. He shook his head, incredulous. "Why would you care anyway, Mudblood?"
That insult entered me like poison, as it always did when he said it. He bent down and snatched up his vest from the floor, then turned and headed toward the exit.
"Draco, what's wrong?" I called. He slowed, then stopped. I held my breath.
"Whatever you think you're going to get me to say, you won't succeed," Malfoy warned. But the venom was gone from his tones. In fact, his voice trembled and he was having a hard time catching his breath. "Leave me alone, and stop following me." Then, he strode out of there, his hands in white-knuckled fists.
I set my jaw. I've grown up with boys, and I know how they think. Good boys, anyway. I couldn't pretend to understand everything about Malfoy's twisted mind—but what he had said just then was clear enough to me. He would never confess it, but in the undertones of his voice, he had practically screamed, "I'm not all right. I wish someone did care. And I might tell you, if you push me hard enough. Especially if you follow me."
"Draco!" I yelled, and raced after him. I swerved around the corner just in time to see him pelt down the hall. He was faster than I was—I could never keep up with him.
Oh, please, please! I gasped as torches and pillars flew by and my feet hammered on the stones. I just need a little more time! Just a little more—
A door materialized in the blank wall in front of Malfoy—a tall, double door. I almost tripped. The Room of Requirement!
Malfoy glanced back at me, his eyes went wide, and he pulled on the handle. The door swung open. He plunged inside and tried to heave it shut.
"Wait!" I cried, grabbed the edge of the door with both hands and wrenched it open, then leaped in after him. I stepped on his foot. My hand slapped down on his shoulder. The door slammed behind us.
A great clock, somewhere overhead, ticked twice. Then it silenced—and everything went black.