Aristo awoke the next morning to find the love of his life suddenly gone. His thoughts reflected on last night as he swung his feet over the side of the bed. She had been a virgin; he realized this slowly as he thought of how much he had enjoyed it. She was fresh and pure, untouched, and now completely gone with no trace left behind. She was young too, he thought. He shouldíve regretted what happened, but he couldnít, it had felt so right in those moments, it still felt right now. Shaking himself from his own thoughts, Aristo got up and walked into the bathroom where he quickly showered and brushed his teeth. He walked back into the room while drying his hair with a hand towel and noticed the small brown owl perched on the dresser. He walked over and took hold of the letter in its beak. It read:
Sorry for the abrupt departure, I was actually supposed to be home last night and I didnít want to wake you. I scratched out words miserably while looking for the right one to describe last night. It was indescribable and beautiful, thank you. Iím not exactly sure where we stand now seeing as I myself am a bit confused. I failed to mention last night that I had a boyfriend. Yes I can imagine the shocked look on your face now, but I thought you deserved to know. Iím pretty sure youíll never want to talk with me again after the way I left you so I simply wanted to say thank you again, and I hope you know I donít regret last night at all.
He read it over and over again, constantly stopping when he reached the notification of her current occupation. He had been stupid, of course she had a boyfriend, she was too beautiful not to. The question now was simply whether or not he was going to try and win her over or let her be. He already knew the answer. For one of the first times in his life he felt complete, and now she was gone. He would not allow himself to feel that emptiness again. Grabbing his coat on the chair and his bags, Aristo apparated back to his home in Manhattan.
* * * *
Hermione sat staring out her window waiting for her owl Rupert to return. Her father was still asleep, growing paler with each passing minute. She knew he was going to die, there was no way he could survive it. Tears once again threatened to fall from her eyes. No, she thought, I have to be strong; I have to be strong for him. Her eyes sprang back to life as she saw Rupert soaring towards her bedroom window. She was saddened however when no letter appeared in the owlís beak. She hadnít expected anything more though. It all happened in the heat of the moment, it was a way to forget hardships for her, and a quick one-night stand for him. Hermione didnít understand why she suddenly felt so empty; he had only been a quick one-night stand. There was no reason for her to get so worked up over this stranger; over a Malfoy nonetheless. He was different though he had been special. Aristo didnít have the same cold heart his father and brother shared; he was softer, which seemed to only make him more handsome. Stop it! Hermione scolded herself. She had Ron, she loved Ron, or did she? Of course she did, she told herself, if she didnít she never wouldíve even mentioned his name. But why was he the furthest thing from her mind right now. Hermione didnít even feel as if she had been unfaithful to him. It was just a one-night stand, she reminded herself, it was just a one-night stand. She looked at the clock, 12:53 am. He was back in America by now.
Her motherís loud scream quickly snapped Hermione from her daydreams. Hermione ran downstairs to her fatherís room. Her mother sat by him holding his lifeless hand. ďCall the doctor!Ē she screamed. Hermione stood there too stunned to move for a moment. When her motherís words finally sunk in, Hermione dashed to the kitchen phone and quickly dialed the number of the doctor. After telling them to hurry down, she ran back into the room and took hold of her fatherís other hand. She was surprised by its coldness at first, but held on in hopes of maybe passing some of her warmth unto him. ďCome back daddy,Ē she whispered against his ice-cold skin, ďdonít leave meĒ.
By the time the doctor arrived, he said there would have been nothing he could do anyway. It was simply Mr. Grangerís time to go. Hermione ran to her room immediately and began to pack up her overnight clothes. She couldnít stay there any longer; she needed to leave. Hermione felt her tears and began to choke her as she cried. She wanted to die, she wanted to just go and leave this terrible world but she knew she couldnít. Instead she just continued to gather her things and went straight down to the fireplace. Her mother grabbed hold of her arm asking where she was going, begging her to stay. Hermione however just shook herself free and grabbed a hand full of floo powder. ďI canít mum,Ē she screamed through the tears in her eyes, ďI just canítĒ. Her mother nodded and Hermione threw the powder into the fireplace. ďHogwarts,Ē she yelled, and in a matter of seconds she was engulfed in the bright emerald flames.
She told no one at school of her fatherís passing, not even Harry and Ron. In fact, they did not even know that her father was ill so really there was no point. Dumbledore had said he would allow her to go to the funeral, but Hermione just shook her head. ďI canít see him lay there like that professorĒ. Dumbledore nodded his head and sent her on back to the common room. Hermione barely got an hour of sleep that night.
The next morning Hermione sat in the Great Hall playing with her food, she wasnít in the mood to eat. Ron was talking to Seamus about the latest Quidditch stats, and Harry was sitting next to Ginny smiling at her through pleasant conversation. Hermione looked at the scene around her, it was beautiful. There were cheery looks on the sun stained faces of all the Hogwarts students, except her. She was glum and anyone looking at her could see it. Hermione was so busy staring at her food and avoiding eye contact, she didnít notice the small snow-white owl flying directly towards her. It landed near her tray; an envelope perched in its beak. She took the letter from it and looked at her name written on the envelope. She opened it, eager to know who would be sending her mail.
It was good to hear from you. When I first awoke I thought you had left me completely. That night was the same for me Hermione, it was beautiful and Iíve never felt more complete than when I held you in my arms. You are beautiful in so many ways and I feel as if youíre my better half. I think I managed to fall in love with you that night Hermione, and Iím not judging you, but I think you fell for me too. I understand you although the words between us were short, and I want to get to know you better. I do not care if you are taken, I will fight for you until the end. I need you and I love you. If it seems like Iím coming on a little strong Iím sorry, but after all I am a Malfoy and I go after what I want when I want it. You are much more to me than a notch on my belt, much more than even I can comprehend. You donít have to love me back, even though I believe you do, but I just wanted you to know how I feel. I canít wait to see you again, if youíll let me, and Iíll be missing you all the time in-between. Until then my love,
Hermione felt a tear come to her eye, but one of joy for the first time. He loved her, and he was right. That deep feeling she had felt for him inside was love and she gladly accepted it. ďWhatís wrong?Ē Ron asked wrapping his arm around her. She hoped sheíd feel a spark to tell her it wasnít Aristo she loved, but there was none. She smiled to herself once again. ďNothing,Ē she replied while taking a sip of her pumpkin juice, ďabsolutely nothingĒ.
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