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Chapter 32: Inner Turmoil
Ginny was going to be a very good friend. She had made some ginger snaps and was bringing them to Hermione. She felt as if she had hardly spoken to her since all of this began. Perhaps that was slightly her fault. Maybe if she hadn’t pushed so heavily to get Ron and Hermione back together she wouldn’t feel this distance that had grown between them lately.
She rang the bell and stepped lightly into the front hall when Twinkles answered the door. The elf asked to carry the tray of cookies, but Ginny refused. She wanted to bring this to Hermione herself. She wanted to apologize, and having a cookie while she did it would make it that much easier.
“The mistress is not in, but she should be back soon. If you is wanting you can sit in the mistress’s room.” The elf pointed towards the back parlor that Hermione loved so much.
Twinkles was about the lead her back there, but Ginny hated feeling like a guest in her best friend’s home, so she waved the elf to continue what it was doing and headed back there herself.
She had just passed the rather large ballroom when she heard a muffled sniffling sound coming from what she knew to be Draco’s study. Slowly she crept forward and peered into the room. The shock of what she saw caused her to drop her tray of cookies, and the plate clattered to the floor, creating an echoing clamor that coincided with the hammering of her heart.
Draco looked up, his eyes red and puffy, but even through the moisture that pooled under his lids Ginny could see the rage swarming.
“I’m sorry…” She willed her feet to move, to run.
“Get. Out.” His voice was hoarse, but stern.
Still Ginny could not seem to find her legs. Oh, no, I have no legs! He’s cursed them off.
“GET! OUT!” He screamed as he rose from his seated position, placing both hands upon the desk and glaring at her with a fire in his eyes from which she could not look away.
A small wrinkled hand pulled at her skirt. Ginny looked down to see the elf tugging at her fiercely; trying to help her get away. Her body finally responded and though her belly was bulging slightly, and she hadn’t really had a run since she found out that she was pregnant, she found her feet moved as fast as ever.
She hurled herself into Hermione’s study and didn’t wait to listen for the sound of echoing footsteps in the hall. She threw the floo powder into the flames that were flickering in the fireplace and called out the first thing that she could think of.
“The Burrow” reverberated throughout the empty room, only heard by rather large bat-like ears.
He had just sat in the worn out chair by the fire, an ice-cold bottle of Scales Pale Ale opened, when the flames in the grate turned a startling shade of green. A second later, a flustered and frantic Ginny popped out of the fireplace.
“Gin?!” Ron spit some of the cool liquid that he had just imbibed.
“Ron. Oh, crap! I’m at The Burrow.” She looked around the room as if his presence wasn’t confirmation enough of the fact.
“Of course you’re at The Burrow. How else would you have gotten here unless you called it in the floo?” Ginny’s obvious state of disarray unnerved him.
“I meant to go home. I need to talk to Harry.” She looked around once more, probably hoping that by saying his name he would just appear.
“What’s going on? You look awful.”
“Gee, thanks,” she said as she moved to get more floo powder.
“No, really Gin. What’s going on?” Ron stood and grabbed her hand mid grasp.
“It’s nothing. I just need to be with Harry.”
“What are you keeping from me now? Merlin, Ginny. I’m a grown man. Stop hiding things from me!” He hadn’t meant to shout, but at her evasiveness, something in him just snapped. He was sick of being kept out of the loop, only to stumble on the truth at the worst times.
“Really Ron, it’s nothing to do with you. I just have to see Harry!” Ginny’s color was up as well.
“Yeah, right. I’ve heard that one before. You’re hiding something from me Gin, and I want to know what it is.” He looked down at her sweaty face and saw the fear in her eyes. He backed away from her. He hadn’t meant to scare her.
“Gin, I wasn’t going to hurt you.” He said weakly.
The fear vanished immediately and was replaced with concern. “I didn’t think you were. Ron, really, I’m telling the truth. This has nothing to do with you. Please understand, I just want to be with Harry right now.”
It was then that he did understand. Ginny wasn’t afraid of him, she was afraid of whatever, or whomever, was in her previous location.
“Did someone threaten you?” It was the first though that occurred to him. After what he had gone through with his kidnapping, Ron would never think any of them were truly safe.
She shook her head, but tears started to form behind her eyes.
“Who is it? Who hurt you?” He pressed.
“N-no one, Ron. No one hurt me. Now please. Let me go.”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t think you should be going anywhere.”
“I’ll go get Harry. You just sit and rest for a minute okay?” He gave her a look of concern before turning towards the floo and throwing some powder in.
Ron knelt on the floor, his head stuck in the fire as green flames lapped around his neck and shoulders.
“Harry!” Ron called out into the empty room. No answer. “HARRY!” Louder, his voice slashed through the silence of the house. Still no answer. He inhaled deeply and bellowed out as loud as he could, “HARRY!”
There was a shuffle from up above and then the pounding of footsteps could be heard from the hallway. Next moment he saw Harry in only a towel, hair wet and dripping down is face. “What is it Ron?”
“It’s Ginny. She came to The Burrow just now. She’s real upset, mate. I think you should come over. I didn’t want her traveling alone in the state she’s in.”
“What’s wrong? Is she is okay?” His irritation morphed quickly into panic.
“I don’t know, she won’t say anything other than that she needs to see you. She looks okay, just scared.”
Harry moved towards the fireplace.
“Er, perhaps you should throw some clothes on, yeah?”
Harry flushed and then turned heel and flew back up the stairs. Ron popped back into the sitting room at The Burrow and saw Ginny looking at him expectantly.
“He’ll be in shortly. Caught him a bit unawares.” He started to chuckle, but broke off at the look of discomfort on Ginny’s face.
When she arrived home from Linus’s, Hermione was greeted by what appeared to be a frazzled Twinkles.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
The elf nodded her head emphatically. “Yes miss. I is okay.”
There was the sound of footsteps shortly after, and the elf shot a worried look over her shoulder.
“I is better be getting tomorrows menu ready,” and with a loud crack the elf was gone from the entryway.
Just after the pop of apparition, Draco entered the hall. His hair was disheveled and his eyes were a bit puffy.
“Draco?” Hermione questioned. She hadn’t ever seen him this upset.
“Yeah?’ He looked up at her distractedly, as if he hadn’t even noticed she was standing there.
“What’s going on?” Hermione stepped towards him in an attempt to look closer at his face.
He turned his head away and headed towards the stairs. “Nothing,” he muttered as he climbed away from her.
She followed him, her foot taking the first step, when he whirled around. The intensity and sadness in his eyes scared her. He pulled her in and kissed her, harder than he had ever kissed her before. It was filled with sadness, with need. It was filled with a thousand good-byes. As abruptly as it started, Draco pulled away. His face blank now, he headed further up the stairs.
She made to go after him, but his voice rang out, “Really, it’s nothing, Hermione. I’ve had a long day and need to be alone right now.” He hadn’t even turned around, and continued up towards their bedroom.
Confused, but not wanting to fight with him again, Hermione decided to curl up by the fire and enjoy a nice book. It was something that she hadn’t had the chance to do in a while. A half an hour later found her staring blankly at the same page on which she had started.
No matter how hard she tried to focus on the words, she wasn’t able to prevent all of the weird encounters from playing repeatedly in her mind. They ranged from her first meeting with Ron to those confrontations with Draco. She especially focused on his behavior tonight. She had never seen Draco break, not in all the times that she had known him, either as an enemy, a friend or a lover. The only time she even knew about him showing such emotion was from Harry’s version of their run-in in sixth year.
What could have caused Draco to become so upset? She worried her lip as she considered the possibilities. It could be a business transaction gone wrong, but that didn’t sound like something that would upset Draco. Perhaps something was wrong with his father? Or maybe his mother? However, part of her didn’t think either of those things would be so bad.
The only thing that could possibly get him so worked up would be something to do with her. But what? What could cause him to be so upset? She had chosen him; he needn’t worry anymore. Hermione was determined to stick to her word.
After another half an hour, Hermione couldn’t take it anymore. She had to know what was going on. She rushed up the stairs, but she opened the door to her bedroom and saw Draco already curled up and apparently sound asleep. She could barely make out the sound of his light snoring over the wind that came through the opened window.
She went to shut the window and looked over at Draco’s sleeping form. His face seemed tense, even in sleep, and she brushed aside the hair that had fallen onto his eyelids. He didn’t stir. She shut out the cold night air, and when she turned back, she noticed a small vial on the nightstand by Draco’s side of the bed.
He must have taken something to get to sleep. That was also very unlike him. Usually he was able to fall asleep easily at anytime. It was something of which she had often been jealous. Her mind rarely shut down at lights out. She highly doubted that she would get any sleep tonight, in fact.
At that thought, she decided that she might as well take a sleeping potion, too. It had been a while since she had had a good night’s rest. Normally she eschewed taking anything to help her sleep, afraid that she might become addicted, but once in a while wouldn’t cause any harm.
So she went into the bathroom cabinet grabbed one of ten vials of pale green liquid, slipped on her pajama’s, crawled into bed and then downed the elixir. Not five minutes later, she was peacefully asleep.
Again, Hermione awoke to an empty bed. It was much later in the morning than she normally rose. Through bleary, sleep-filled eyes, Hermione looked around the room and noticed that there was something decidedly off.
She couldn’t determine right away what unsettled her, but there was definitely something wrong. Brushing the odd feeling aside, she went to take a shower. It was when she got into the large stall that she figured out what was bothering her.
None of Draco’s things were there. There was a red soapy ring next to her bluebell-scented shampoo where his Viper Shampoo, usually stood. His razor was gone, along with his soap and his toothbrush.
She rushed out of the shower, her hair only partially wet, and went to the cabinet. His aftershave, his other toothbrush, and the entire supply of sleeping potion were gone.
Panic settled in her chest as she swept the rest of their bedroom. His silver comb, his robes, everything of Draco’s was missing. She was about to pull on her dressing gown and head downstairs to question Twinkles when she noticed a crisp white envelope sealed with Draco’s family crest in green wax.
Her fingers shook as she opened the letter, and she was clumsy enough to get a paper cut. Hermione sucked on the offending slice as she more carefully opened out the letter.
I’m afraid I can no longer pretend that you love me. Seeing the look of determination instead of passion in your eyes has haunted me long enough. I know that you still love Weasley, and I know now that you always will. There was a time when I thought I could convince you otherwise, but I am able to admit now the impossibility of that.
I thank you for the chance that you gave me. For the love that you tried so hard to give. I am a better man because of you. Which is why I am able to do the most unselfish thing I have ever done, and let you go. You will always have a place in my heart, and I will forever be…
She didn’t even feel the tears that were now rolling down her cheeks. She was almost as pained by her feeling of relief as she was by her feeling of failure. It hurt her to realize that he was right, that she had never loved him the way that he deserved, that she probably never would have.
She was a horrible person. She took advantage of his protectiveness. Of the way that he loved her. His love had come so unexpectedly, they had to fight so hard to be accepted, that she lost sight of what she truly wanted amid all the tumult that their relationship had created.
No matter how hard she tried, she had never, not for one minute forgotten about Ron, though she had tried. Oh, how she had tried. Her analytical minded yearned to move on, because that what was normal, what was healthy, so Hermione had blocked all of her feelings. Had told herself that it was unnatural what she still felt for him.
All those repressed emotions came flooding back, and she suffocated in them once more. She pulled the ring out from her robes pockets, unable to leave it behind since having it back last night, and her tears spilled onto the cool metal surface. The salt water flowed into the tiny etchings that lined the outside of the band.
Just when Hermione thought that she wasn’t able to cry anymore, a new wave of remorse, regret, and worst of all, shame would pull them from the depths. There were no trails down her face, as they came down in torrents instead of mere drops.
She cried for Draco, she cried for Ron, but most of all she cried for herself and for how stupid she had been and how many people she had hurt in the process.
It was well into the evening when Twinkles found her naked form, curled up on the bedroom floor, fingers wrapped once again around the ring, holding onto it for dear life.
A/N: I am ducking from all Dramione fans. Please don't throw things at me please! Anyway... what did you think? How was the letter? What do you think is going to happen next? My muse has been here full force so I have a few chapters forward together, but my postings will stay at once a week for now since I don't know hhow long it will last.
Thanks so much to all for reading and reviewing and especially to Georgia Weasley my wonderful beta.
On a personal note, my house closed this week and I am now completely sore from all the work I have been putting in.