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Chapter 12: Revelations- Part 2
My tears were flowing faster as the sobs that were escaping rocked through my entire body. All the emotions that I had been bottling up over the last week were finally getting out. Feelings of anger, failure and loneliness that had been slowly bubbling away and getting stronger and stronger finally just burst out and now that the defences that I had so carefully put up were down, I wasn’t sure that I could close them again.
A small noise to me left brought my attention back to the person who was person standing beside me and so I quickly lifted my hands to my face to hide my tear- stained cheeks. Of all the people I would want to see me have a breakdown, Malfoy was the very last. He was the one person who would never let me forget it and he was the one person that I was sure would use my moment of weakness against me. I had completely exposed myself to him. I had let him know what was going on inside my head- shown him exactly how I was feeling and let him know my biggest secret and it scared me that he knew the truth.
I continued to sob quietly into my hands, only stopping briefly when I felt a person sitting down beside me. Not close enough to touch, but close enough so that I was very aware that they were there. I waited, sitting perfectly still, to see what he would do. To see what was coming, but when after a moment, he neither moved nor spoke, my tears began to flow freely again.
I don’t know how long we sat there for, completely unmoving. The only sounds breaking the eerie quiet of the library being my muffled sobs. When my tears had finally dried, I slowly slid my hands down from face, resting them on my bent knees in front of me. I could still feel his presence beside me; something which both calmed and unsettled me. It took all of the effort that I possessed to not look at him. If I turned around and saw that sneering face then it could quite possibly be enough to send me over the edge again. However despite my best intentions, my eyes were inevitably drawn to my left. He was so quiet that I wasn’t even completely sure that he was still there and curiosity got the better of me and I decided that I could probably take a quick glance just to make sure.
I took a deep breath and turned my head slowly to the left, my eyes sliding to side, trying to remain unnoticed. However what I didn’t count on was the fact that he was looking right at me, watching me very closely and that instead of the look of complete disdain that his face usually displayed, it showed one of such concern that I couldn’t look away. I hadn’t ever seen his face so sad and full of such emotion before. It was so unusual that my eyes traced over every inch of it, by brain finding it hard to compute that it was Malfoy beside me who seemed genuinely concerned for my well- being. But what I found even harder to understand were the words that came out of his mouth when he started speaking to me.
‘Are you okay?’ Malfoy asked uncertainly, his eyes never leaving my face.
I don’t know why but his concern annoyed me. I knew he couldn’t actually be sincere in his sympathy and I was not going to fall for his tricks and so I responded in the only way that I could. The only way that I knew how. The way that I had been speaking to him for years- with complete and utter loathing.
‘What the hell does it look like Malfoy? Just because you’re an emotionless prick, doesn’t mean that everyone else is.’ His face recoiled in slight shock and I immediately felt a little bit guilty and mean that I was being so horrible when he seemed to be genuinely concerned, but I had started now and I couldn’t stop.
‘I’ve told you before Granger, you know absolutely nothing about me, so stop making assumptions and pretending that you know what I’m like,’ Malfoy retorted, trying to keep calm, but unable to stop the anger and annoyance creeping back into his voice.
‘You forget Malfoy,’ I spat, ‘I do know you. I’ve been on the receiving end of half of the cruel jibes you’ve ever made, so excuse me if I’m not buying the whole concerned act that you’ve got going on. I know you don’t give a damn, so stop pretending.’
I watched as a number of emotions flitted across Malfoy’s face in a matter of seconds. First anger, then guilt, then finally confusion as if he was debating what he should say next. It took a few moments for him to finally formulate his response and answer me.
‘Maybe I’m not pretending, Granger,’ he said in a slow and steady voice, not quite meeting my eye as he spoke.
‘Oh so you’re expecting me to believe that you care about me,’ I scoffed, not believing a single word that he was saying.
‘No I don’t expect you to believe it,’ he said, pausing slightly, ‘but that doesn’t mean that it’s not true.’
Raising my eyebrow in disbelief was the only action that I was able to perform. My brain seemed to be temporarily stunned, leaving me completely unable to come up with a comeback. I had absolutely nothing that I could say back to him. I knew he couldn’t be telling the truth. Of course he wasn’t telling the truth. And yet something about the way that he shuffled from side to side as if he was nervous and the way that he couldn’t meet my eyes, as well as the slight pinkish tinge that had appeared on his pale cheeks made me question myself. Made me doubt my instincts and think that he may, possibly actually be telling the truth.
My silence seemed to indicate to him that it was okay for him to continue, as when I didn’t respond he lifted his gaze to my face as if to assess my reaction, only this time he didn’t look away. Taking a deep breath and holding my gaze he continued.
‘Look I don’t know why, but I do care about what happens to you. I’ve known you for eight years now and I know that something’s wrong, that something’s not right with you.’
‘You know nothing about me,’ I said determinedly back at him, turning away from him, not wanting to hear any more. I didn’t want to listen to any more of his lies.
‘I know lot’s about you,’ he retorted quickly, moving around so that he was crouching in front of me and looking me straight in the eyes. ‘I know that you hate being back here. I know that you’re feeling lonely and that you’re scared of being left alone while all your friends move on. I know that you’re having problems with your parents and that they have barely written to you all year, that you hardly pay any attention in classes, that you just stare at books, pretending to read them, hoping that no one will come up and speak to you, I know that you still have that scar on your arm that you’re ashamed of and you want no one to see and I know that you are so close to breaking point that you’re on edge all the time, scared that you’re about to crack.’
All the while he was speaking, he leaned in slowly towards me, looking deep into my eyes the entire time, stopping when he was mere inches away from me. ‘Don’t think that I know nothing about you Granger, because I do. Right now I’m probably the person that knows you the best. I would bet that even Potter and Weasley don’t know any of that.’
As I looked up at him, unable to breathe, I examined his face and saw not a trace of amusement or mocking in his features or in his eyes. He looked so genuine and the words that he spoke were so accurate that it was if he was reading my mind. I couldn’t help but wonder that when he looked into my eyes, he had read the contents of my soul and found out exactly how I was feeling. I couldn’t help but wonder how he knew all of that. I mean yes I had told him some of it, but how had he known the rest. How did he know about the books and the scar? I was pretty sure I hadn’t told him any of that. And most if all, how did he know exactly how was I feeling? How was it that he knew me so well?
‘How do you know all of that?’ I asked quietly, ‘How do you know so much about me?’ I added lifting my eyes to meet his.
‘Because I’ve been watching you. I’ve noticed these things,’ he answered in a matter of fact voice; not a hint of shame or embarrassment.
‘Is there any particular reason that you’ve been watching me?’ I asked questioningly, trying not to sound too accusing and creeped out. I wanted answers and I was pretty sure that shouting or calling him a weirdo wasn’t going to help me out any.
‘I was curious,’ he said shrugging slightly, ‘you just seemed different this year and then after the potions incident, I couldn’t help but watch you. And then there’s also the fact that you seem to be feeling pretty much the same things that I am.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked surprised at his response.
At this he sighed and moved back away from me, so he was resting against the bookcase opposite from me. He was biting his lip slightly, as if assessing what he should say next. ‘Look, it’s not just you that finds it difficult to be back here. I saw things I’d rather forget too,’ he said simply as a dark look crossed his face. A look that I was only too familiar with. The same look that crossed Harry’s face and Ron’s face as they talked about the war.
‘Oh, right,’ I muttered, unable to think of any other response and feeling stupid that I had only just realised that he had been through a lot in the war as well.
‘You know the war wasn’t easy on us either,’ he continued, ‘I know you think that I was on some sort of killing spree with him, but it really wasn’t like that. I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to be doing those things.’
‘Then why didn’t you leave, stand up against him.’
‘You don’t understand. I didn’t have a choice,’ he said breaking his gaze and running his fingers through his hair, ‘none of us did. When I was younger, yeah I wanted to be a death eater, but I didn’t have a clue what it actually meant. I just thought that it would mean a few harmless pranks, nothing serious, but having the respect and some sort of power.’
I found that as much as I wanted to tear myself away, I couldn’t. I was engrossed in his words. I couldn’t take my eyes from his pale face, watching as his eyes darkened as he gazed off into the distance, looking once again out of the window.
‘I had no idea what it actually meant. My parents didn’t want me to do it either. They didn’t want to be a part of it themselves; they had too much to lose. But you just don’t say no to him and live. You can’t walk away or say no and if you don’t do what he asks, well then he punishes you. He finds the way to hurt you the most and he uses it.
‘And what did he do to you then?’ I asked unthinkingly, completely drawn in by his story, unable to stop listening.
Malfoy’s expression darkened as he turned to look at me as anger once again filled his eyes.
‘Sorry,’ I said quickly, ‘I didn’t mean to pry that was rude. I shouldn’t have asked that.’
‘No it’s fine, I don’t mind. I’m not mad at you,’ he said as the anger slipped from his face, being replaced by a look of sadness and pain, that immediately made me feel sorry for Malfoy, something which made me feel extremely disconcerted.
‘For some it was their money or just plain good old fashioned torture, but for most of us, for me, it was my family. When my father failed in the Department of Mysteries, he hurt him through me. He set me an impossible mission. He set me up to fail, so they could all watch as I crumbled to pieces. He wanted to break me completely and then destroy me for failing. I was so stupid and so naïve not to see it. At first I thought it was because I was special, because I was being trusted. I was an idiot not to see that it was all just a way of making my father pay for his failure.’ A bitter look crossed his face as continued, ‘After that I realised what he could do and what he would do. If any of us failed him in any way, it would be our families that paid. That’s why we couldn’t just walk away and say no. No matter how much we wanted to. That’s why what my mum did was brave. She risked everything and I know you think she was being selfish, but she took a major risk.’
I was silent for a moment, all my anger at him having disappeared. I sat silently digesting his words, thinking through what it must have been like. What it must have felt like to have your family held ransom. Every day we worried about what would happen to our families, but as least we didn’t have to torture people in order to keep them safe. In that moment, I knew that he was being sincere. That he was speaking from his heart. I knew that he had let his barriers down, just like I had let mine down and that I was getting a rare glimpse at the real Draco Malfoy.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said weakly, unable to think of anything better. ‘I’m sorry for what I said. I guess I just, I didn’t realise what you had been through. You just always seemed so together and like nothing ever bothered you and well I know I’ve been, well like you said a bitch to you and I am sorry. I guess you do know me better than I know you,’ I said with a small smile.
‘Well Granger, I’m pretty sure I’ve told you before that I am smarter,’ he said jokingly, his all too familiar smirk appearing on his lips. ‘Now I guess we really should get back to work’, he said standing up in one swift movement. ‘If Madame Pince finds us skiving, she’ll have our heads.’
As he finished talking, he stood up, stretching out his long limbs before turning around to face me once again, holding out one of his hand for me to take. I surveyed his hand for a moment, wondering whether or not to take it, but seeing his face and eyes so sincere, I found that I couldn’t help but trust him and so I slowly put my hand into his. As his large hand gripped my small one, I couldn’t help but feel surprised at how warm his hands were. As the warmth from his hand spread to mine, he tightened his grip around my hand and pulled me to my feet in one swift movement, bringing us mere inches apart.
I watched with wary eyes as Malfoy made a small move forward, slowly closing the distance between us and I held my breath in anticipation wondering what he was about to do, when the sound of laughter filled the library, breaking the silence. We both immediately jumped back a step and I let out a shaky breath, feeling both relieved and disappointed at the interruption.
In that split second, it seemed that the moment had ended, as an awkwardness descended between us, as we looked at each other, embarrassed at how much we had revealed to each other.
‘I guess the match must have ended,’ I said, stating the complete obvious.
In that moment, Malfoy’s face changed completely. The openness and sincerity that his face had displayed a mere moment ago had been replaced with the usual stony, hard mask that I was so used to seeing.
‘We should probably get back to work,’ he said turning away from me and resuming his task.
My eyes lingered on him for a moment longer wondering if I had just seen a rare glimpse at the real Malfoy, or if the honesty was all just an act. Some cruel way of luring me in. Whatever he was doing and whatever he was doing it for, it was working. I reluctantly turned away from him and back to the large pile of books that were waiting, trying to keep my eyes from frequently sliding in his direction and trying not to relive the feel of his warm hands gripping mine.
When the detention had ended, I quickly gathered together my belongings and rushed out of the library, briefly giving Malfoy a small and awkward smile as I rushed passed, something which I immediately regretted. He was probably regretting the whole thing and would want to forget about it.
I rushed through the corridors, as quickly as I could, manoeuvring through the crowds of people who were still making their way back from the quidditch pitch. I was desperate to be back in the safety of the common room, desperate to be away from the library, where I wouldn’t have to be near him. However my journey was hindered by the crowds who seemed to be making it their mission to get in my way. I lost count of the number of people that I bumped into, which could have been because I was in such a hurry, but could also have been because my head was somewhat pre- occupied.
As much as I tried not to think about the events of the last few hours, I found that my head wouldn’t let me think of anything else. When I eventually reached the safety of the common room, the door swung open to reveal what seemed to be a very large party. The common room was full of people laughing and cheering. Someone had put posters and banners up around the walls and there was even gold and red confetti falling from the ceiling. I had just a sneaking suspicion that Gryffindor had one their match.
I looked around for Harry and the others, which didn’t take me too long, as they were the ones who were surrounded by the largest crowd. I pushed my way through, getting out my rather pointy elbows to nudge a few people out of the way, before eventually reaching the three people that I was searching for.
‘Hermione,’ Harry called over a few heads, when he eventually saw me, making his way through the last few people.
‘Hey, I guess I should be congratulating you. I take it from all the banners that you won,’ I said moving in for a hug, although regretting it immediately when I saw that he hadn’t changed out of his quidditch robes and they were filthy.
‘Yep, we did. It was a good game,’ Harry replied, whilst I gave a quick congratulations to Ron and Ginny.
‘So what was the score?’ I asked, trying to at least pretend that I was knowledgeable about the game, although as soon as the question was out of my lips, I couldn’t help but feel that I had asked precisely the wrong question. Harry and Ginny immediately shot Ron a quick look, before looking at each other, with concerned expressions.
‘Em, I think it was about 190- 70,’ Harry replied awkwardly, once again shooting Ron a quick look.
I was feeling a bit confused about the weird expressions and little glances, but just as I was about to reply that they had done well, Ron scoffed rather loudly before storming away.
‘What’s his problem?’ I asked totally confused as to what was going on.
‘The score was actually 190- 90. Harry was just trying to spare Ron’s feelings,’ Ginny explained, although I was still a little slow on the uptake.
‘Well that’s not too bad, is it? I mean you still won, although… oh.’ I said, the penny finally dropping. Although Gryffindor had won, they had only managed to score four goals, whereas Hufflepuff had scored nine. That meant that if Harry hadn’t caught the snitch, we would have lost. That meant that Ron, had let in nine goals. No wonder he didn’t look happy. In fact now that I looked more closely, that was a bit of an understatement. He had a face like thunder. He was standing slightly apart from everyone else and was glaring at them with hard eyes, as if he hated them for daring to have such a good time.
‘Ron let in nine goals,’ I said as Harry and Ginny both winced. ‘So what happened?’
‘I dunno, he just seemed to crumble completely,’ Harry shrugged. ‘He just seemed to completely lose it. If it hadn’t been for Ginny, we would have been in real trouble,’ he said, looking down at her with pride. ‘She was amazing.’
Ginny turned to face him and immediately leaned in to kiss him. Although the quick kiss soon turned into something more and I felt decidedly more awkward standing in front of them.
‘So, I’m em, just going to…’ I trailed off awkwardly, as it became increasingly apparent that neither of them was even aware that I was there never mind listening to what I was saying. I wandered away from the kissing couple, looking around the common room, my eyes falling on Ron once again. He was standing over at the other side of the common room talking with Lavender, although neither of them looked happy. I couldn’t hear what they were saying over the loud music, but if the angry faces and the arm waving was anything to go by, they were having an argument. Ron eventually turned and walked out of the common room, grabbing a bottle of firewhiskey off the table on his way. Lavender watched him leave with a dark look on her face, before she turned and stormed off in the opposite direction.
Despite the fact that we had grown apart in the last few months, he really looked so miserable that I couldn’t help but follow him out of the common room.
I exited the common room, to find the corridor empty. I had no idea which way he had gone and so had to make a decision. I chose left, hoping that I had chosen correctly. It wasn’t long before I knew that my gamble had paid off and I had picked the right one.
I walked up behind Ron, who was sitting at the top of the staircase, bottle of firewhiskey still in his hand. I sat down beside him, saying ‘hey’ as I did, but he barely even acknowledged my presence. The only indication that he had heard me was the clenching of his jaw and a very slight, nearly imperceptible nod of the head. I knew immediately that this would probably not go well, but it was too late to back out now. Ron had always had a temper and it was always ignited further when he had been humiliated. If there was anything Ron hated more than anything in the world it was people laughing at him.
‘So…’ I began, unsure of what to say next. Unsure of how I should play the conversation. Ignore the match completely; try and make a joke out of it, although that probably wasn’t the best plan as he would no doubt think that I was laughing at him. ‘How are things?’ I ended lamely.
Ron was silent for a moment, before he lifted the bottle in his hand to his lips and downed over half the contents of the bottle in one large swig. He sighed dramatically as he swallowed. Brilliant! Not only an angry Ron, but an increasingly drunk Ron. I had really walked head first into that one.
‘Well, Hermione, let me see. I have just made a complete and utter fool of myself in front of the entire school, had a huge fight with Lavender, my sister is all loved up with my best friend, my brothers dead and I am pretty much failing every class that I have this year, so I would say that things are just peachy,’ he said sarcastically, sulking even more.
‘Oh come on Ron, things can’t be that bad,’ I said taking his hand, trying to comfort in the only small way that I could. ‘You want to talk about it? I mean school can’t be that bad,’ I said, choosing the easiest topic, not quite wanting to go into the quidditch match or Fred issue.
‘Don’t want to talk about it,’ he muttered and we both fell into silence again. Okay so that didn’t go so well. Time for plan B and I knew that this topic wouldn’t be as easy to talk about.
‘Well, what about you and Lavender? What happened?’ I asked really not wanting to know the answer, but feeling strangely curious at the same time.
It only took a few moments of silence for Ron to start speaking. ‘Apparently I embarrassed her today with my, now what did she say ‘idiotic and brainless quidditch playing’. Apparently, I’m good enough for her when I’m Harry’s friend and part of the bloody ‘golden trio’ but when I screw up a quidditch match, she doesn’t want to know,’ Ron said, trying to keep his tone light, but failing towards the end when the hurt crept into his voice.
What did he want me to say? That yes Lavender is shallow and always has been and he is a complete idiot for going out with her again when he knew what she was like or basically lie to him and tell him how wonderful she is? Hmm, what a dilemma.
‘Well, I’m sure she didn’t mean it Ron,’ I said unable to quite believe the words that were coming out of my mouth.
‘Yes, she did Hermione. I could tell she meant every word,’ Ron replied in a hurt tone.
Hearing the hurt in his voice, made me suddenly realise how much he cared about her. How much he seemed to need her. It hurt me slightly to realise that he had never seemed to need me like that; that he had never cared that much about me, but at the same time I was glad that he did have someone in his life that he cared for and that most of the time, seemed to care for him and make him happy. He needed and deserved someone like that in his life. Even if it did have to be Lavender Brown.
I took in a deep breath, unable to quite believe the words that I was about to say.
‘Look Ron, people say stupid things in arguments all the time. I’m sure you said things that you regret now and I’m sure that she regrets saying the things that she said too. If you really care about her and want to be with her…’
‘I do. I really do,’ Ron interrupted. Yep that definitely stung- like being punched in the gut.
‘Well then what does a stupid argument matter? Just go back in and find her.’
‘Thanks Hermione. How come you always know what to say?’ Ron said leaning over to give me a hug.
‘Well I have been called the brightest witch of my age, just the once or twice,’ I said jokingly, moving back slightly to look him the face.
As we sat hugging, a movement out of the corner of my eye drew my attention to the bottom of the staircase. I started slightly when I realised that at the bottom of the staircase, staring at us with a look of surprise and shock was Draco Malfoy. His gaze drifted briefly from me to Ron and then back to me. Something about his gaze made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. It almost looked as if was hurt and angry, but then I was sure that I must have imagined it, for his face quickly returned to his usual blank, stony expression and he walked quickly on.
I sat perfectly still watching him go, my eyes still lingering on the place where he just disappeared out of sight, trying not to think about what his piercing look had meant.
‘Nice to see some things never change,’ Ron said beside me, pulling my gaze back to him.
‘Meaning what?’ I asked confused as to what he was talking about.
‘What about him?’ I asked, unable to stop myself.
‘Well apart from being a git, he’s still strutting about the castle like he owns it, looking down at everyone else like they’re beneath him. I mean did you see the look he gave us; like we we’re total scum. Maybe someone should tell him that his side actually lost in the war. Fucking arsehole!’ Ron practically yelled, before downing the rest of the firewhiskey.
I can’t help but look back for one last glance at where Draco was standing. Was Ron really right, I wondered. Was Malfoy looking down his nose at us, thinking that we’re nothing but dirt on his shoe? A pain shot through me at the thought that he might think that about me. That he might still hate me, but before I even had the time to wonder why, Ron stood up rather abruptly beside me.
‘Right, let’s get back to this party then,’ Ron said swaying slightly and reaching his hand out to me to help me up, which is a bit rich considering he’s the one who’s swaying kind of dangerously at the top of the stairs. I reluctantly let him pull me to my feet, hoping that he didn’t topple and take me with him.
‘We’ve got some celebrating to do,’ Ron says, pulling me back towards the common room with a new found enthusiasm. I couldn’t help but smile as he started dancing his way back into the common room, quickly re-joining the party. I caught Harry’s eye as we entered back through the portrait hole and he gave me a thumbs up, mouthing ‘thank you’. I gave him a quick nod back and as I make my through the crowds, I push Ron’s words about Malfoy out of my head, put a smile on my face and got ready to enjoy the party.
A/N- So once again a major thank you to everyone that is reading and an even bigger thanks to everyone who is reviewing. I can't believe I have nearly 50 reviews and what I can't believe even more is that people are actually really liking this story. It's a major confidence boost for when I'm writing to know that people are actually reading it and liking it.
So just a quick warning. I really hope this chapter gets uploaded before the summer cut off date, but if not then I won't be updating for a while as I am lucky enough to be going on two wonderful summer holidays. So please whilst I'm sunning myself in Cyprus or visiting Hogwarts in Florida please leave me a review. It will be an amazing present to come back to and might just give me the motivation to upload the next chapter when I am severely jet- lagged. So please enjoy this chapter and hopefully you won't have to wait too much longer before things finally start to happen.