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Thunderstorms

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Thunderstorms.

It was silly, really.

Like a fear of the dark.

Oh, but this was so much worse.

Hermione Granger simply didn't do thunderstorms. In a big way.

Some of the worst things had happened to her during thunderstorms.

Every time thunder rumbled, Hermione heard screams. And every time lightning flashed, she was forced to relive her worst memories.

Over the summer, when a storm struck, she would simply go downstairs to sit in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. Sooner or later, there would be someone else there too, reliving the war. And she would take comfort in their existence. Oftentimes, if the said person was Ron or Harry, she would end up shivering in their lap, vainly trying to get some sleep. And towards the end of the night, she would.

But now Hermione had returned to Hogwarts to retake her seventh year. Almost every student that should have been the last year's graduating class had returned. They were called the "eighth years." Headmistress McGonagall wanted to provide a complete seventh year experience for the eighth years, so she wanted to have a Head Girl and Boy. She also didn't want to take away the Head Girl/Boy experience from the actual seventh years, so she compromised. There was a Head Boy and a Head Girl as usual, and a High Head Boy and High Head Girl for the eighth years. Also as usual, the Head Boy and Girl had their own set of rooms with a private common room.

Hermione, of course, was High Head Girl. A certain Draco Malfoy had guffawed heartily over the title "High Head," but had quickly shut up when he discovered that he was High Head Boy.

It came as a shock to everyone.

An even bigger shock was the fact that he had actually been rather cooperative regarding Head duties.

He had been rather quiet overall, actually.

Which was why Hermione Granger was desperately trying to keep her jittery body in bed, and not seek comfort from any life form.

Lightning flashed from beyond her window, thunder quickly following.

Bellatrix.

Hermione cried out and buried her head in her pillow.

More lightning.

"Tell me where it is!"

Hermione's body shook harder.

A roll of thunder.

Mudblood, dripping from her arm.

Red, red blood.

Too much of it.

With a gasp, Hermione flew from her bed to her chamber door. She tugged it open and ran recklessly toward the High Head Boy's room. Before she had a chance to hesitate, lightning and thunder again split the sky.

Eyes squeezed shut tightly, Hermione slammed open the door in front of her and skittered across the floor.

She landed with an audible "thump" in the bed of her colleague, her head pressed against his back.

Draco Malfoy sat straight up.

"What the bloody-" he seemed to see Hermione. "Granger? What are you doing?"

Just then, she heard more thunder, and she couldn't take any more.

A tremendous sob racked her frame, and she burst into tears.

Malfoy's eyes grew as large as sand dollars. "Granger, what-"

He stopped himself and reached across the bed, pulling her to him.

Gently, he wrapped his arms around her violently quivering body. Hermione simply cried harder into his chest, her fists clenched tightly as she remembered.

Phantom pains raced through her forearm and she gripped it tightly, a loud gasp erupting through her tears.

"What is it?" Malfoy said quickly. He pulled away slightly and saw her gripping her arm.

Instantly he understood everything.

Slowly and gently, Malfoy pried her tight fingers off her arm. She gasped again as her last finger let go. She jumped to clench her arm again, but he beat her to it, wrapping his cool and slender fingers around the scarred limb. Making soft crooning noises in the back of his throat, and using his free hand, his took the wide-eyed girl's body into his arms.

When he was sure that she'd stay leaning against his chest, he lifted his other hand to her hurting arm. One hand held her forearm gently but firmly, while the other softly caressed the letters spelled out into it.

He repeated the action over and over, whispering into her ear as he did so. "Shh, Granger. It's okay now. She can't hurt you. I won't hurt you. Shh, now, Hermione. Shh, shh."

Eventually, her sobs subsided.

When all she had left was hiccups, Malfoy slowly pulled her arm up to his mouth. Hermione watched as he lowered his face to her scar. She nearly flinched, but something stopped her.

Then, she felt the soothing, soft lips of Draco Malfoy touch the "M" on her arm.

Not knowing why, she stayed unmoving as he ministered to her ugly scar.

When he had kissed the last "D", he ran a soothing hand over her arm again.

Then he straightened a little, and let go of Hermione's arm. Fear briefly flashed through Hermione's eyes at the thought of him kicking her out now, with the storm still raging outside. Draco seemed to see the fear, and swiftly tucked her head under his chin and gathered the rest of her into his arms.

Draco began stroking her hair.

For whatever odd reason, Hermione felt herself relaxing.

When she was on the brink of sleep, a voice interrupted her.

It was soft and low - very unlike the usual cutting tone - but it was still definitely Draco's voice.

"Does your arm still hurt?"

After a moment, she realized it didn't. She shook her head slowly.

There was a long silence, and the two drifted towards sleep.

Hermione couldn't be sure if she was still awake or if she was already dreaming, but she could've sworn she heard Draco whisper sweetly, "Good night, love."