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Chapter 29: Frustration and Forgiveness
Chapter 29- Frustration and Forgiveness
The castle was quiet without Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Theo. Hermione spent the next two days studying alone in the Heads’ Dormitory. She was finding it hard to concentrate, though. Frequently, her would gaze would slide away from her textbooks to focus instead on staring out the window at the sprawling grounds as she wondered what was happening at the Burrow. She would never admit it to Harry and Ron, but she felt left out being so far away from them.
Right now, her friends were relaxing at the Weasley family home while she was alone at Hogwarts. Very few students had stayed for the Easter holiday. After the train had departed, Hermione had spoken to Professor McGonagall about anything she could help with during the next two weeks. The Headmistress was appreciative of her enthusiasm, but kindly told Hermione that there wasn’t much to be done. The suspected Death Eaters at Hogwarts had gone home for the holiday and now all Hermione should do was focus on her studies.
She didn’t say it aloud, but Hermione had felt patronized by the Headmistress’s reassurances. Don’t worry about things, Hermione, she thought bitterly. The adults have it taken care of, Hermione. She sighed. She was finally beginning to understand how Harry felt when no one would listen to him about his suspicions throughout the years. It was like everyone was telling her to stop being silly and go back to the things she was “supposed” to be doing, like she was just a child and everyone else knew better than her. It was a terrible feeling.
She hated being alone at Hogwarts. While she knew she could spend her time studying, it wasn’t what she wanted to be doing. For the first time in a long time, Hermione didn’t even want to open her books. She had incomplete study schedules and half-written essays strewn across the tables in the common room, but she didn’t want to finish anything. Part of her wished she hadn’t been so noble as to stay at school when Draco was clearly not speaking to her. The larger part of her simply felt lonely.
You chose this, Hermione, she scolded herself late on Monday afternoon, the third day after her friends had left for the holiday. You wanted to stay behind. It’s no one’s fault but your own.
She sighed grumpily and stood from the table where she was sitting to pace the room, wondering what she was missing at the Burrow. From the couch, Crookshanks watched her wearily, used to his master’s turns of moods, but not feeling inclined to handle her ranting. He, for one, was fine staying at Hogwarts and seemed to think of it as time to catch up on sleep.
“I’m so frustrated,” Hermione muttered, running her hands through her bushy hair. “I’m just so frustrated…”
She looked at her pet in hopes that he would acknowledge her annoyance and cheer her up, but Crookshanks only fastened her with a cat’s version of an exasperated look and closed his eyes, settling in for another nap. Hermione’s human-concerns didn’t faze him in the slightest.
“Thanks a lot,” Hermione drawled sarcastically, narrowing her eyes at her cat. Crookshanks continued to ignore her and Hermione went back to pacing.
Harry and Ron would let me know if they had made any progress with the Horcruxes, she thought confidently. They know I can help. They wouldn’t do anything without me.
The war had been looming closer and closer every day that their search for the Horcruxes continued. Hermione was constantly wondering when the actual battles would begin and whether or not she was even ready to participate in them. She couldn’t seem to sleep at night, spending hours lying awake instead wondering how she could best train herself for what was to come. Did she know enough spells? Was she ready to kill someone if it came down to that? Could she really defend herself against Death Eaters? Death Eaters—of course, the immediate problem was the Death Eaters within Hogwarts. Before any fighting began outside the school, Hermione had to find a way to deal with Morag McDougal and his unknown cohort.
Again, Hermione thought of how maddening her situation was—why wasn’t the Order of the Phoenix doing anything about the Death Eaters right inside Hogwarts? Why wasn’t anyone doing anything? They were right there within the castle! She knew they were. They were trying to kill Draco and do Heaven only knew what else. They had to be dealt with and no one seemed to be doing anything but her. In fact, no one else even seemed to remember they were there. Angrily, she kicked the side of the couch, startling Crookshanks into consciousness. He leapt off the furniture and slunk towards the door to her bedroom, obviously fed up with Hermione’s moodiness.
Hermione sighed and slumped onto the couch, reaching down to rub her foot. Now it hurt and she was no closer to any solutions. She needed to study for her NEWTs, but she couldn’t focus. She wanted to help Harry and Ron find the Horcruxes, but she was stuck at school trying to solve other mysteries. She wanted to stop McDougal and the other Death Eater, but she couldn’t even figure out who the second boy was or how she could help. She knew she needed to stop them before any harm came to Draco…and that’s where the heart of her frustration lay—most of all, she wanted to fix her relationship with Draco. She couldn’t stop thinking about their last conversation and wondering if she could have handled it differently. She frowned and twisted her hands in her lap. All of this boiled down to the fact that she was simply frustrated, aggravated with life, and desperately wanting things to get better.
As it usually did when she was upset and wanted to talk to someone, Hermione’s mind drifted to Draco. She thought back to when they had spent so much time talking to each other, bonding over their concerns about the world. She wished she could talk to him about everything that was on her mind, but they hadn’t spoken in over a month.
What’s he doing now? Hermione thought, biting her lip and laying down on the couch with a sigh. Does he miss me as much as I miss him?
Tears pooled in her eyes when she thought about her friendship with Draco and the very real possibility that it was completely ruined. They hadn’t been friends for long, but she relied on him in a way she hadn’t relied on anyone else in the last year. Harry and Ron were so busy with the Horcruxes, and she so busy with Head Girl’s duties that they hadn’t had as much time to talk. Theo was wonderful to her, but she was still concerned about how much she could tell him. In the end, it was Draco who she spoke to, Draco who she turned to when she was hurt, Draco who she asked for help when she didn’t understand things, Draco who loved her unconditionally despite how she had treated him…
A sob built suddenly in Hermione’s chest and erupted in a pitiful wail as she curled tightly into a ball on the couch, rocking back and forth as tears streamed down her face. She had avoided thinking about Draco’s profession of love as much as she could until now. When he had told her of his feelings, she hadn’t wanted to hear it. She was afraid of what his love meant. He had been right about that. She was scared and she didn’t want to ruin the friendship that they had been trying so hard to start and nourish into something meaningful. Draco had been her sworn enemy for six years. She was barely ready to deal with a friendship with him, let alone more. And most importantly, she had spent the last six weeks trying desperately to remind herself that she was with Theo and he loved her and she loved him and that was supposed to be enough. Remembering that Draco had told her of his love came like a stab to the heart.
He loves me and I was so terrible to him, she thought, trying to stem the flow of tears rolling down her cheeks. He’s been so good to me. He’s helped me through so much, and I was awful.
Another sob wrenched its way from her chest and Hermione buried her face in a throw-pillow, reaching up to pull the blanket off the back of the couch and hide herself beneath it. She needed to block out the world and avoid everything that was hurting her. She knew it was a pathetic way to handle the situation, but her heart hurt and she didn’t want to face that quite yet. A while later, she drifted to sleep, exhausted by her crying and by everything happening in her jumbled world.
Persistent knocking on the portrait outside woke her hours later. The fire had died down and the sun had set. It was pitch black in the common room. Groggily, Hermione stood from the couch and stumbled towards the portrait, feeling her way in the dark and bumping into several things along the way. She yawned widely as she tried to regain consciousness quickly. She felt unsteady and confused.
The knocking continued until she reached the portrait hole. Who on earth would be coming to see her so late at night? Was it late? Hermione wasn’t sure. All she knew was that it was dark and all her friends had gone home. The visitor couldn’t be someone she would expect. An absent-minded thought compelled her to draw her wand from the pocket of her sweatshirt before she opened the door, but as the door swung inwards, her wand abruptly slid through her fingers and clattered onto the stone floor. Draco stood before her, his hair disheveled and his robes untidy. His gray eyes bore into hers and Hermione knew her mouth was hanging open.
“I’m sorry that it’s so late…” he said by way of greeting. Hermione felt the blood drain from her face. “May I come in?”
She stepped aside to admit him to the dark room, still shocked that he was here at all. Draco waved his wand and lit the candles around the room before turning back to face Hermione who still stood beside the open door.
“Hermione…I…have you been crying?” Again, Draco focused on her eyes which Hermione knew were red and puffy from her earlier breakdown. Unexpectedly, the concern in Draco’s voice made her eyes well up once more. She swiped angrily at the tears sliding down her cheeks as she closed the portrait hole. She had cried enough for one day. However, Draco noticed her tears and quickly approached her, stopping only a foot away and watching her intently.
“Hermione, I’m so sorry,” he finally said, his voice barely more than a whisper. “I have been such an idiot.”
A hysterical laugh bubbled from her throat and Hermione shook her head rapidly. Draco was here. He was here and he was apologizing to her. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.
“No,” she said hoarsely, “I’ve been the idiot. I never should have treated you the way that I did. I shouldn’t have let you walk away. I shouldn’t have taken so long to come talk to you…even now, it’s you coming to see me. I have been a horrific friend, Draco, and if you ever find it in yourself to forgive me, I will be utterly astonished.” Her voice shook as she spoke. She wasn’t ready to talk to him. She hadn’t thought of her apologies. She needed more time. After her speech, Hermione focused her eyes on the ground, breathing heavily. She couldn’t even bring herself to look at Draco. She felt so guilty for what had transpired between them. She knew her words were true—she had been an awful friend. She didn’t deserve his loyalty.
“Hermione,” Draco sighed, “you did nothing wrong.”
Hermione finally looked up at him. His eyes showed how sad he was, even in the shadowy common room. She wanted to apologize again.
“Don’t,” Draco said, cutting her off before she began, as if he knew what she had planned to say. “Don’t say you’re sorry. You have no reason to be. I let my feelings get in the way of our friendship. I never should have let that happen and it won’t happen again. I can’t possibly explain to you how hard it’s been not talking to you. I’ve spent the last month and a half wondering how to apologize and knowing that I don’t deserve your forgiveness after the way I acted. I said some horrible things. I know that. I hate myself for hurting you.”
Hermione shook her head again.
“You’re forgiven,” she said immediately. “Of course you’re forgiven.”
“I’ve missed you,” Draco murmured, glancing away from his friend and running a hand through his messy blond hair.
“I’ve missed you too,” Hermione replied just as quietly, tentatively approaching him and wrapping her arms around his waist. Draco stiffened for only a moment before encircling her in his embrace and resting his chin on top of her head.
“I’m not leaving again, I promise,” he whispered. Hermione squeezed him tighter and didn’t reply. There was nothing else to be said.
Author's Note: Here's the next chapter! I'm sorry it's been such a long time coming...I hope you like this, though! They've finally reconciled! Yay! Let me know what you think!
Also: If you have additional questions that you would like answered, please feel free to go to my "Meet the Author" page on the forums. There's a link on my author's page!