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Chapter 14 : Morbid Regrets
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Ryan didn’t leave, but the fact that he completely ignored her made Hermione all the more miserable. Having to see him the next morning, appearing tired with eyes just as red and swollen as hers was tragic, and she longed more than anything to go up to him and pull him into the firmness of her kiss. But she couldn’t - he was still seething, and she had cut him too deep with her betrayal.
Instead of approaching him, she watched him from afar. When she woke up the morning after her break-up and showered, pulling on her clothes with stiff, aching bones, she didn’t bother to put any make-up on - she just let the old Hermione grow through. She felt she deserved the shocked looks people passed her as she walked through the corridors, her eyelids heavy and her hands shaking.
Reaching the Great Hall appeared to be a mistake. Ryan bumped into her in the doorway, and after not looking up with a murmured apology, he shuffled away not even realising it was her , his cheeks still drenched with tears that blurred his sight. She wondered why he was even still here in the first place. Perhaps Dumbledore had talked to him, settled him down with some Gryffindors and suggested he’d rest a while before going back to America. She didn’t know, but she knew she disliked the hungry looks other girls were passing him, despite the fact that he didn’t pay them an ounce of attention.
Because Ryan was sat silently near Harry and Ron, Hermione decided to go and sit with the Slytherins.
“You look a state,” Blaise informed her bluntly, running his eyes up and down as he chewed absently on the crust of a piece of cindered toast. “Have you been crying?”
“She’s split up with her boyfriend,” Draco filled him in quietly, passing Hermione a sympathetic smile.
“You mean he found out about -?”
“ - I told him,” Hermione interrupted sharply. Draco was dealing them both with suspicious glares. She hadn’t informed him yet of her “fling” with Blaise, the very thing that had caused her and Ryan to split up in the first place. From the look of disgust on Draco’s face though, he had latched on. He passed Hermione an “I-told-you-so” stare before turning his attention back to his breakfast.
“Oh,” said Blaise, and wisely went back to chewing his toast in a careless manner.
Hermione sat down slowly and felt the pounding of her head with each movement. She hadn’t slept at all last night - the bed seeming too empty when she knew that if she hadn’t been so stupid, she could still have Ryan in it, and then the atmosphere seemed to swell with depression as her tears caused the pillow to go soggy.
Ryan seemed to be picking at his food without an appetite from afar, and when Hermione’s eyes were glued to him with his ruffled hair and sweet demure, he lifted his head and looked straight across as her. He held the stare for a long time before biting his lip and seeming to squeeze back the tears as he hastily stood up and left the room.
Hermione took the chance to go over and question Harry and Ron. Without speaking, she emptied her pockets of sweets she had bought for Ron earlier and sank into the bench opposite.
“I heard about what happened,” Harry muttered in a low voice, the tension faded between them. “I’m sorry.”
“How many other people know?” enquired Hermione rather weakly.
“Just about everyone,” answered Ron, picking up the sweets and grinning at her. “Thanks.”
She glowered at him and he quickly changed his expression.
“Listen Hermione, I’m sorry for being such an arse.”
She narrowed her eyes, but then blinked and rubbed them hard. There was too much going on in her life to linger over petty arguments. “It’s ok,” she resolved quietly. “I just hope we can be friends again.”
“Did you really sleep with Blaise Zabini?” Lavender Brown squealed from further on up the table, her blue eyes wide with interest as she peered at Hermione. “Is that why you split up with Ryan? You’re mad! He’s gorgeous! I have a good mind to have a go at him myself.”
Hermione closed her mind against the spitefulness and ignorance of the girl who knew nothing upon the concept of love, and focussed herself instead on Harry.
“She’s gone to lesson,” he replied swiftly, “Defence Against the Dark Arts. I’ve got a free now.”
Hermione nodded. “Me too.”
“Yeah,” Ron added though a mouthful of porridge. “So ‘ave I.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smile at him. He hadn’t changed one bit. She was glad that perhaps they had a chance to go back to how everything was, even if it meant the rest of her life was in turmoil.
“So,” Harry asked awkwardly, “you and Zabini . . .”
Hermione forced herself to nod. “It was a mistake. I’ve never regretted anything more in my life.”
Ron scowled disgustedly at her before remembering the sweets, then smiled quickly.
“I told Ryan and now we’ve split up,” Hermione whined, taking a sip of the tea that was in front of her. “And there was me, thinking it was the honourable thing to do.”
“What?” spat Ron with disdain. “Sleep with Zabini?”
“No,” Hermione snapped irritably. “Confessing my sins. But it just made things worse.”
The boys weren’t exactly helpful in things like this, so Hermione decided that she’d ask them to find out more from Ryan.
“Dumbledore’s put him in our dormitory,” admitted Harry with a frown. “He seemed pretty upset last night. He doesn’t seem to want to say a word to us - or anyone, for that matter.”
“I hope he stays long enough for me to heal things, although I don’t exactly know how that’s going to work,” she confessed, placing her cup shakily back down on the table and getting to her feet. “I’d better go do some studying. I’ll see you two later.”
They nodded and she left them to their talking, her eyes flickering angrily over to Lavender and Parvati, who were obviously gossiping about Ryan. Scowling, she headed back up to her dormitory, cleaning her teeth before bringing out a pile of books and dropping to the sofa. Draco smiling rather stiffly at her from his place alongside her.
“So?” he enquired when the silence stretched out too long.
“Why did you do it?”
Hermione frowned. “It’s hardly got anything to do with you.”
“Did he force you?”
“What? No, of course not.” She blushed and dropped her eyes to the floor. “In fact, it was me who made the first move - it’s entirely my fault. I wasn’t even drunk or anything and . . . I just feel so ashamed.”
Draco offered no sympathy. He simply stared at her rather darkly. “You’ve got to apologise to him.”
“Don’t you think I have?” she sneered.
“He’ll be going home soon. He’s a Muggle. Hogwarts is hardly a place for him.”
Hermione sighed and held her hands to her face, massaging her temples to try and sooth her swollen eyes. “I know that. I just feel so terrible . . . He’s in a place full of magic, something that he doesn’t understand, and what’s more he doesn’t know anyone. He must be feeling so vulnerable at the moment. I’ve asked Harry and Ron to speak to him for me but -”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“Weasley taking to Ryan. I mean, from what you’ve told me, Weasley doesn’t exactly think very highly of him. It could end up in a fight.”
Hermione closed her eyes and nodded. “Yes. I suppose you’re right.”
Draco shifted and chewed the end of his thumbnail. “Do you want me to speak to him?”
Hermione looked up in shock, her mouth hanging open. “Would you?”
“Only if you want me to.”
“Oh, Draco,” she grinned for the first time that morning, flinging her arms around him and pulling back to beam across at him. “Thank you so much! That would be wonderful!”
He stood up and walked over to the kitchen, beginning to make two coffees. “It’s not a problem. Just tell me what you want to hear from him.”
Hermione bit her lip and thought for a while, her gaze focussed on the table in front of her, struggling to make sense of her situation and what she needed to assure herself that everything would be ok. She looked up and took the mug of coffee that Draco handed her, and he sprawled down alongside her, pulling out a packet of Chocolate Frogs from his pocket, handing it to her with a grin.
“I’ve heard chocolate is the best friend for a girl who’s distraught. Here, I stole this from Goyle’s pocket earlier.”
Hermione found herself laughing and placed the chocolate down on the table. “Thank you. You’re great Draco, you know that?”
He smiled mockingly and stretched out his arms. “Of course I am. Everyone knows it.”
She punched him lightly in the stomach and exploded into a fit of giggles. Draco’s soft grey eyes went serious suddenly and he held her gaze steadily.
“Honestly Hermione, tell me what you want me to say and I’ll speak to him. I can’t stand to see you like this. It’s not good, even if I did warn you about Blaise.” He shook his head and sighed. “I’m going to get that bastard. I knew he’d take advantage of you.”
“No Draco, it wasn’t his fault - it was mine.”
“He’s been leading you on, though.”
“Oh, fuck it, never mind. Come on, tell me before you send me to sleep with your excuses for that pathetic waste of space.”
“Blaise is your best friend!” she exclaimed with shock and disbelief.
“Well, he acts like a prick sometimes.”
Hermione nodded but let the subject drop, returning to her thoughts of Ryan. She shifted uncomfortably as she tried to think of the best questions for Draco to get answered. She wanted to know if it was definitely over between them, if Ryan was really going back to America just to try and forget about their beautiful relationship like it had never existed. She wanted to know if he could forgive her, if he could carrying on loving her knowing what she had done. But how to put all of that into words? She didn’t want Ryan to get suspicious, as if she had sent Draco to do her dirty work for her, because she was too scared - because she wasn’t. She just knew that if she approached him he would hasten away. The way he had held her gaze until the tears began to fall this morning had pierced her with guilt for his deep, intense hurt. Ryan really loved her, and she had done the worst thing she could possibly do to him. She sighed and offered Draco a shrug.
“I just want to know if he still loves me.”
Draco smiled and got to his feet, clamping her shoulder reassuringly. “I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it. Really.”
He nodded and disappeared from the room.
Hermione heaved out a long breath and leant back in the warm sofa, picking up the chocolate and eating it as she washed it down with coffee. The food tasted good and sweet against her tongue and sent a pleasant rushing heat inside of her. She remembered what Lupin had said back in third year about chocolate being the best thing to help a person to recover. She knew immediately that the only way to recover was to go back to the way things had been before.
It was then that Hermione realised that Ryan was the meaning of her life, and that without him, it just wasn’t worth living.
Author's Note: Ok, it was slightly short and likely boring, but I thought you all deserved to have an update immediatly, as you've been so generous to me with your reviews. Thank you!! They have all been responded to - it took me over two hours, that's how amazing and great you people are!! *hugs* Thanks for reading and please do not hesitate to review. I love feedback.
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