Chapter 7 : Fragile as a Leaf in Autumn Just Falling to the Ground
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Draco woke up tired from tossing and turning half the night, but he still tried to gain the strength to go down to the Dining Hall for breakfast. As he made his way towards his normal spot at the table he noticed that people were starting to whisper – “word must have gotten around,” he mumbled to himself. About halfway into his meal Johanna came with Dillon by her side.
Bending down, she whispered into his ear “Hermione told me to tell you to meet her in the back of the school – she needs to talk to you about tonight.”
Dillon, who had a worried look on his face, said, “Yeah, she said it was important, and you better go now. She said that she wanted to talk to you in private, so she’s by herself near the temple…”
Without another word Draco got up and headed towards the back of the school. The walk through the long corridors seemed to have taken forever, but once he was there he easily spotted Hermione’s brown wavy hair. As he walked up to her, Draco saw her body tense up – but who could blame her for being scared? The temple ruins were the most dangerous place in the school, especially when no one was there to help you.
“It’s okay Moine’ it’s only me…” he whispered. Hermione’s body relaxed as soon as she heard his voice.
Turning around, she replied sarcastically, “It took you long enough, I thought you wouldn’t show.” The smile on her face was there only for display, and Draco could tell that she was just trying to look positive in front of him so that he wouldn’t be too frightened of the night’s events. Little did she know that not even her beautiful smile could bring him relief – Draco had gotten into trouble before, but this time he was in way too deep – this time he dug his own grave and Nick would be the one to place him in it.
“So what’s the important news?” Draco said as he looked into her teary eyes. Hermione didn’t even respond, she just threw herself onto him and cried into his chest. Draco didn’t know what to do so he just sat there holding her close as he stroked her back telling her that everything was okay. After she had calmed down a bit he tilted her head up so that he could look into those beautiful brown eyes that he had fallen so in love with. He took in every feature of her face trying desperately to create a picture that would stay in his mind forever. He saw every perfection and every imperfection that made her all the more stunning, and all he could say was, “how could I have been so lucky?”
“Draco Malfoy don’t you dare talk like this is the last conversation we’ll ever have…” Draco couldn’t do anything but smile a small smile at the girl in front of him – she was so full of hope for everything. For Him, for her, for them, it seemed like when one thing brought her down she would do anything and everything to pick herself back up – even if it meant that she had to convince herself with lies.
“Hermione, I’m only being realistic…”
“Then just stop for a second, Draco, life is already full of sorrowful reality…take a break from living too much in it and at least try to lose yourself in a better dream …”
“Hermione…” without even letting him finish, Hermione pressed her mouth into his trying to savor the moment as if it were their first, last, and only. Draco snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her closer as she ran her fingers through his hair. The kiss lasted only a minute, but both felt more intensity and emotion in it than any other kiss they shared with others.
“Convince me that everything is going to be alright, Draco…”
“How can I do that when I can’t even convince myself, Hermione?”
“Please try,” she whispered gently into his ear.
“But what if everything isn’t going to be alright, what then?” He pressed his lips into her forehead until he heard her answer.
“Then promise me that you’ll wait for me wherever you go.” Her eyes were closed as she said the words that Draco felt he would never forget.
“Forever. I Promise.”
The couple walked around the back of the school for a little while until Hermione led him to a small bench where they sat in silence. Draco took her and in his as she laid her head down on his shoulder. Hermione was the first to break the silence when she said, “I remember the first time that someone told me the story of this place, it was my first year here and I somehow ended up going through the wrong door. Ethan found me and told me about it before we headed back in.”
“There’s a story to this place?” Draco asked curiously.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of it” she replied, “I thought everyone knew it.”
“Well I am the new guy after all” he said with a smirk on his face
Hermione closed her eyes as if trying to remember exactly how she had heard it so many years ago. “It used to be called the “Ruin of the King”, but I guess someone changed it because now it’s called the “Temple.” Draco stared at the maze of broken walls in front of him, he could tell that it was once a beautiful place before some obvious tragedy came upon it.
After a moment of silence she continued her story. “Of course, Hogwarts has its little story about being built by its four founders, but Salem has a different story. It’s said that “Once upon a time” a king lived in this castle with his queen and ten children, but one day the Queen died and the king was left to mope.” Draco gave her an interested look and urged her to continue, Hermione just smiled a small smile and obliged, “Five of the king’s children were cruel hearted, and when the king left, they ruled the kingdom through fear. Trying to escape, the other children fled the kingdom and settled on an island far away…” she looked Draco in the eye and held her gaze, “One day, the kingdom was totally destroyed, and all that was left were the ruins of the castle. All who were victims of the ghastly empire united, and once the other five children returned, they rebuilt the city in a different location, but started a school right where the unspeakable event took place. It’s supposed to remind us that after every bad, there can come a good, and after regression there can come growth.”
“Kind of like the story of our lives, huh?” Draco stated. Hermione smiled a little, she hadn’t ever thought of that before, but it did make sense, after all the two had both overcome terrible things in life only to get back up and learn from them.
“I guess so,” she replied. “C’mon, let’s go inside, it’s starting to get a little windy.”
Hermione had to leave Draco at about 6:30 because Mrs. DuPont had wanted her to practice before the recital. Draco had no idea what to do for the rest of the time he had left to await his suffering, but he made sure to spend the time wisely – he took Hermione’s advice and lived in a dream where everything was perfect. To his surprise, it worked, for when you spend a great deal of time in the cold darkness people call sorrow a nice break from the world always brings much hope and tranquility. Unfortunately, the time he had to enjoy himself ended quickly because as soon as he woke up from his day-dream he saw that it was already 6:50.
Draco wasn’t surprised to already see Nick at the temple ruins; in fact it comforted him to know that he was away from Hermione. Nevertheless, his gut churned with nervousness for the game.
“Well, well, well… It’s good to see that I was right in trusting you not to bail…”
“I said I would be here didn’t I, White?”
“Oh sob, we’re not on a first name basis anymore?”
“Cry me a river --- let’s get this over with…”
“So you’re not scared, Draco? I was certain that you would at least be a little bit nervous,” the smirk on his face was visible in the pale moonlight. “Before we start, just remember that the only rule is to get in and out alive…oh, and you have to retrieve a gold coin too… other than that there are no rules…got it?”
“I already know how the game goes, Nick.”
“Fine… on your marks….get set….”
Draco was dreading the pause before he put before the final word, but within seconds which seemed like hours he finally heard it…”Go”
“Johanna I can’t do this…”
“Hermione of course you can!” Johanna tried to soothe her worried friend. Hermione was not scared for herself, she was scared for Draco – what would happen to him in the temple with no one there to know he’s hurt?
“How can you say that? Draco is playing the most stupid, dangerous game a person has ever invented and I’m here twirling around for people…” Hermione’s eyes were filled with tears, but she knew that she couldn’t risk them falling.
“You’ll do just fine, I know you will, all you have to do is convince yourself that you will.”
“What if I screw up anyways? I just changed my dance last night, and what if I forget?”
“Hermione, these people don’t know you, they don’t know what you’re capable of and half of them probably can’t even do a thing that you can… you have nothing to prove to them, and they have no expectations – you have nowhere to go in their perspective but up.” Hermione felt so lucky to have a friend like Johanna to comfort her through the small and big things that went wrong. And with a smile she left her friend when Mrs. DuPont stated that she had two minutes till she was up.
Hermione stared nervously into the crowd, she couldn’t see any familiar nor unfamiliar faces – the entire room was black with the exception of the stage. She felt their eyes boring into her skin and judging her starting position as she waited for the music to start.
Hermione heard the soft melody drift through the air as she started her small leaps and twirls. As the song continued her movements became more and more advanced.
Spinning, laughing, dancing to
her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
Is all alone
The song spoke so many words to Hermione – words of beauty and hope as well as words of sorrow and loneliness… four things she could relate to at that very moment.
She danced around the stage in perfect form, one twirl after another, one leap into the next. Her Fouettes were skillfully done and her Glissade was even better. Little did she know that as she danced, Draco had already started to play the game…
It only took a short while for Draco to get lost, but he was persistent in his goal to make it to the gold coins.
“The sooner I get through this, the sooner I get out of here” he said to himself out loud. He had no idea where he was going… blindly making turns was his only way of getting somewhere, but after every three or so turns he always felt as if he was back at where he started. Frustrated after thirty minutes of playing the stupid game and getting nowhere he sat down to think, but in the pure silence of it all the only thing is brain could register was the noise coming from the open windows of the school. Though he was lost, cold, and a little hopeless about the whole situation, he was able to smile for a small moment because he knew that it was Hermione who was dancing, and the song was a song that she picked out especially for him.
Suddenly, something sparked in Draco’s mind that told him to keep going, so he got up from the floor and started again.
Eyes wide open
Always hoping for the sun
And she'll sing her song to anyone
that comes along
The crowd was mesmerized by Hermione’s skill and passion. Her arms flowed as if they drifted with the wind and her body moved as gracefully as the ocean on a calm summer’s day. But through it all – the intensity of her leaps, the elegance of her pirouettes – the audience saw the hint of sadness that she interpreted into every move.
Draco was now running. Sweat dripped down his face as he breathed heavily. His steps echoed throughout the ruin and he could have sworn he had taken almost every turn he could have. And then, when he almost gave up, he saw it….
To his left there was a twinkling… as if light were hitting a metallic object. Draco made a sprint for it, but with every step it seemed to be getting further and further away as if it were taunting him with all of its sparkle and glory. When he finally got there he stopped in his tracks… standing right in front of him was Nick.
Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin' to the ground
Without a sound
Tears were now falling slowly down Hermione’s eyes as she danced to the beautifully sad song. The thought of what could be happening outside scared her so much that she just wanted to run off stage and cry, the only thing that kept her going was her determination not to let Mrs. DuPont and Johanna down.
“It’s a short song, Hermione, keep going, it will be over soon…” those were the words she would whisper to herself when she felt like leaving… but every time the song seemed closer to the end, a long interlude would come up and she never knew was even there.
Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace
That's all her own
Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
And she's all alone
“Well, well, well, Mr. Malfoy, we meet again – only a little sooner than I thought…” said Nick as he taunted Draco with mischievous eyes.
“What the Hell is that supposed to mean, White” murmured Draco angrily.
“I just meant that I underestimated you, everyone before you who wasn’t apart of my family took at least two hours… and you, well you took a little over thirty minutes… well done, my friend, well done.”
Draco didn’t like the tone of his voice, nor the look in his eye – he knew that look, in fact he used that look all the time – it meant that Nick had something up his sleeve, he was just waiting for the right moment, and Draco was not going to give it to him.
Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin' to the ground
A huge bang was heard echoing throughout the room which made Hermione stumble and trip, luckily for her everyone’s heads were turned to the duo at the door – Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley.
the wonderful song is entitled "Seven Years" and is sung by Norah Jones...=)
I know some of you all are mad at me for leavin u hangin for such a long time...but please don't hesitate to leave a review...they help me feel better after such a crappy week
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