Two weeks had passed since Hermione’s encounter with Aristo. In that time more letters were sent between the two, little questions about how their day was going and such. Hermione found herself becoming withdrawn from Harry, Ron, and Ginny, the friends she once held so dear. Even Draco’s insults could not diminish the happiness she finally had. At nights however, Hermione found herself not only dreaming of the wonderful man that had managed to sweep her of her feet, but of the boy she was leaving behind. Ron loved her so much but she knew that after meeting Aristo she could never love in the same way. He was like a brother to her really, but still the days went by and she couldn’t bring herself to tell him it was over. So instead Hermione and Aristo’s newfound relationship became a dark secret that no one but them knew.
Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table early Saturday morning. Today was the last Hogsmeade trip of the year, and Hermione had agreed to meet Aristo in the Leaky Cauldron at 1:30. Finishing her breakfast, Hermione went back up to the Gryffindor tower to get ready. She pulled on a pair of studded hip-hugger jeans and a cream of the shoulder top. She hastily cast a straightening spell on her hair and ventured down to the common where Harry, Ron, and Ginny were waiting for her.
“Wow! Hermione, you look…” Ron stuttered as she walked down the stairs. She smiled in his direction and walked over to Harry. She was completely foolish to forget that the three of them always went into Hogmeade with her, I mean after all they were her best friends. Hermione looked at her watch, it was already 1:00 and she would not be able to lose Ron quickly.
“Thank you Ron, but we should really get going,” Hermione said gently pushing them out the door.
“Geez Hermione what’s the rush?” Ron replied placing his arm around her shoulder and walking out onto the Hogwarts grounds quite leisurely. They reached Hogsmeade twenty-five minutes later and Hermione had n time to spare.
Quickly making up a lie, Hermione said, “Well why don’t you guys go ahead to Honeydukes I just want to look at some new books I’ll be there in a moment”. She lifted Ron’s arm from around her and went off towards the bookstore conveniently right next to the Leaky Cauldron. Hermione noticed the disappointment that had flickered across Ron’s face but decided to ignore it. For once she was doing something for herself and not thinking about the others around her.
She looked back to make sure the others had already left before walking into the Leaky Cauldron. Once inside Hermione looked around for Aristo, whose ice blue eyes she easily spotted at a secluded table in the back of the room. He wore a pair of loose black jeans and a white button down shirt. As she walked over to him she smiled and went over to give him a hug. However he pulled her onto his lap and gently kissed her. She kissed him back and as it deepened, she couldn’t help but think about how right it felt to have his lips pressed against hers. She smiled against his lips and pulled back.
“We have to make this meeting quick,” she reminded him while sliding into the chair sitting next to him.
He heaved a heavy sigh. “Oh right can’t forget about Weasley and Potter waiting for you!” he sarcastically replied. Hermione giggled and he laughed in return. “I’m just joking,” he added. A waitress came over and took their order for two butterbeers.
Once she left Hermione turned back to Aristo. “So dear,” she began, “tell me how you, a Malfoy turned out to be so…sweet?”
He looked at her, the laughter now gone from his eyes and sighed once again. He took her hand and began playing with her fingers and interlocking them with his. “I was wondering when you would ask that,” he commented. His large hand seemed to completely swallow her small one, but he handled it gently almost fearing she was a crystal figurine that would break with his touch. “It’s a long story,” he told her.
“I have all the time in the world to hear it”. She gave him an encouraging smile and he began.
“Well, you know I was about seven when Harry Potter ‘defeated’ Voldemort. I had lived a good portion of my life when he was at the height of his power. Lucius, being his right hand man, was barely around. But when he was he was always drilling me. Infusing those stupid ‘pureblood codes’ into my mind. He even had this huge book, filled with nothing but dark spells, worst than Unforgivable Curses. They were of the old majick, the dark ancient stuff. You know Draco only grew up with stories about the Dark Lord; I had to sit through dinners with him when I was young. And it was always implied naturally that when I came of age I would join them in torturing those inferior to us. And you know I never really believed in all the things my father told me about blood superiority, but I felt it was my duty as a Malfoy and a pureblood to at least attempt to follow in my father’s footsteps. Well when I was about six, I stumbled upon some old articles Lucius had in his study. I really wasn’t even allowed in there, but I was quite a curious boy. Anyway, as I was reading a few of them, I noticed certain things. First off I saw that the deatheaters tortured and killed muggles, which really surprised me. Lucius always told me about how dirty blood was inferior, and that I understood but muggles themselves were innocent in my mind. And then finding out the Voldemort was half-blood! That just put the icing on the cake for me. So naturally I confronted my father when he came home that night. I told him that he and all Voldemort’s other followers were idiots. And not only was Voldemort completely insane, but that he was nothing but a cold blooded murderer”.
Hermione gasped. “So what did he do?” she asked although she had a pretty good idea what the answer was.
“Well, he looked at me with a look of pure disgust. And the grabbed my arm and apparated me to this cold, dead, house. He dragged me towards the door the whole time saying to me ‘you will respect your master. You will answer to the Dark Lord’. We entered the house and he bowed in front of Voldemort telling him of everything I had said. And Voldemort asked me if it was true, I looked him dead the eye and told him yes. The next thing I knew, I was in Voldemort’s dungeon being tortured with the Cruciatus curse over and over again. He kept telling me to beg for his forgiveness, that he wanted to hear my screams for mercy. But I couldn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to be so weak that I let a madman make me cry out and beg for my life. It went on like that all night, until I almost died. And the hole time, Lucius just sat there watching me twist in agony with a sick crooked smile glued on his face. I guess I just sort of rebelled after that. I purposely tried to piss off Lucius as much as possible, and along the way I figured out I wasn’t meant to be a Malfoy”.
Hermione rushed over to him and quickly flung her arms around him in a hug. She held him tight, the whole time whispering to him it would be okay. “I’m so sor…” she began to say. All of a sudden she felt the urge to throw up. She quickly rushed to the bathroom where she stayed for about two minutes releasing all the day’s food. When she returned Aristo quickly jumped up and wrapped him arms around her asking if she was all right. Hermione nodded her head assuring him that she was perfectly fine. “I guess I’m just coming down with something. I should head back to the castle”.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to walk with you?” Aristo asked truly concerned. She reassured him she’d be fine and back to the castle on her own, after promising him she’d write if it was anything serious. She walked back to the Gryffindor tower where she quickly fell asleep on the couch in the common room.