Hermione stood gazing at the door for what seemed like at least a few years until she finally seemed to accept that she wasn’t hallucinating. In full body and mind, as arrogant as ever and as…blonde…as ever, Draco Malfoy leaned on the doorway with a sneer curling up on the side of his mouth. His hair had grown a little longer than she last remembered but it seemed to glow against the sunlight coming from behind, creating a glowing halo and making him seem as angelic as a new born baby. His pale grey eyes and malicious sneer on the other hand, destroyed that innocent appearance and showed him for what he truly was – the devil.
His smile – or rather his smirk – personified everything that Hermione could possibly hate about him and even more. His arrogant posture that framed him in the doorway gave him an air of superiority and insolence that made Hermione want to punch him right in the face. And of course, suppressing that urge was taking her a lot of effort.
“Malfoy?” Hermione said after a while of staring.
“No it’s Viktor Krum,” Malfoy snapped back. “I just wanted to dye my hair.”
Hermione threw him a nasty look and huffed slightly. “That’s not funny.”
“I think it is,” Malfoy replied, his smirk still visible at the left side of his lip. Hermione had the severe urge to just put a huge piece of tape against his mouth and slam the door in his face.
“You know Granger,” Malfoy began. “I’ve been standing at your door for…quite a while. Are these the kind of manners mudbloods have?”
Hermione matched Malfoy’s irritatingly perfect smirk with a clumsy grimace. “I think they’re better manners than arrogant little pricks have.”
“Clever retort, Granger, have you been practicing?”
Malfoy seemed quite content with arguing for the entire day but Hermione had had enough. “Why are you here, Malfoy?” she sneered.
“I’m here for the same reason you think I’m here,” Malfoy replied.
“And what reason is that?” Hermione shot back.
“Would you like me to discuss that in public so that Uncle Ralphie can hear about it too?” Malfoy said casually.
“I don’t know what to be shocked at more,” Hermione snapped. “The fact that you can talk about this so casually or that Rodolphus is actually your uncle in reality.”
“Neither surprises me,” Malfoy said casually.
Hermione reached over to the door and grabbed the brass handle, controlling every urge within her to stop her from shutting it right in his proud face. Malfoy was now matching Hermione’s stern gaze and they seemed to be competing to see who could hold their gaze for the longest without looking away.
Hermione was sure this childish competition could go on forever and it probably would have if Ginny hadn’t come barging from behind.
“Hermione who is i- Malfoy!” Ginny gasped as she stared at the blonde man before her.
“Oh great, it’s you,” Malfoy said unenthusiastically.
“It’s nice to see you too, Malfoy,” Ginny retorted sarcastically. “Glad you could come.”
“Me too,” Malfoy sneered. “I’ve been standing at this bloody doorway for ten minutes now and no one has asked me to come in.”
Ginny looked at Hermione sourly who rolled her eyes and nodded after a few seconds. “Come in,” Hermione said shortly.
She didn’t bother to allow Malfoy to go in first, even though he was the guest, and as her parents had taught her – guests always went first. She turned on her heel and marched into the living room with a heated expression on her face, red enough to match Ginny’s fiery hair. Ginny on the other hand, let Malfoy pass her and ushered him roughly into the cramped living room where his proud stature seemed out of place.
Hermione walked over to one of the faded old couches and sat herself down, grabbing one of Mrs. Weasley’s hand knitted pillows and placing it in her lap. Malfoy on the other hand looked utterly confused and disgusted as he stared around the room and finally, after a resolved look from Hermione, took a seat on one of the wooden chairs opposite the couch.
“Do you want something to eat?” Ginny asked, as she took a seat beside Hermione.
Malfoy looked around sceptically. “No.” he said bluntly.
“Good,” Ginny replied coldly.
“But I would like something to drink,” Malfoy said maliciously, sneering once again.
“We don’t keep alcohol here,” Ginny said.
“Well I suppose tea would do, or do you not have that either?”
Ginny glared at Malfoy and jetted up from her seat, threw him a nasty look and turned her heel into the kitchen. Hermione meanwhile had resorted to fidgeting with the tiny beads dangling off the cushion to distract herself from Malfoy’s insolence. Malfoy, on the other hand, seemed to be looking around the room with an expression of utter disgust. Hermione noticed he didn’t take his coat off or place his arm on the seat.
“So why are you here?” Hermione asked.
“I told you,” Malfoy said. “I’m here for the exact reason you think I am.”
“Enough with these games. I thought you weren’t coming until tomorrow afternoon!” Hermione said.
“Yes, well, unfortunately I don’t run a chauffeur service here – transporting stupid muggles from the city to the countryside.”
“You know what Malfoy?” Hermione snapped. “I can’t believe after all that crap you pulled about being innocent and turning to the good side that you haven’t changed the slightest bit.”
“Oh don’t pull that psychoanalytical look on me, Granger,” Malfoy retorted. “I don’t need you to discover the inner reason for the denial of my feels and then somehow connect to my desire of being a ballerina. Alright?”
Hermione took a brief second to imagine Malfoy as a ballerina, laughed her head off internally and then went back to glaring at him. “This is ridiculous!” she burst out. “You just can’t show up here and just start being your stupid old asinine self.”
“Listen, Granger, I’d love nothing more than to sit here and talk with you all day – actually, I’d rather die than do that – but we need to get going.”
Ginny returned with three cups of tea on a tarnished silver tray that she hastily slammed down on the coffee table between the three of them. “Enjoy,” she sneered at Malfoy who gave her an equally blunt look.
Hermione reached over and grabbed the tea quickly – it seemed to have made her afternoon a little more bearable and a little less painful. She placed her lips against the smooth rim of the cup and tilted the cup ever so slightly so that the warm tea poured effortlessly into her mouth. Malfoy too took one of the cups and after examining it to make sure there were no crawling bugs on the handle, he too placed it against his mouth and took a sip.
“So are you going to tell us why you’re here?” Ginny asked.
“Well as I already mentioned to Gran- oh god! What is this sweetness in the tea?” Malfoy asked with a disgusted expression on his face.
“It’s sugar,” Hermione said incredulously.
“There is such a thing as moderation,” Malfoy said, with a sour expression on his face as he placed the cup back on the table.
“Enough with this,” Hermione said. “I’m not leaving now.”
“Well then good luck finding your way to a manor which even the Dark Lord himself had trouble locating,” Malfoy sneered proudly.
“That’s nothing to be pleased with,” Hermione snapped.
“Look, Granger,” Malfoy said. “The train to the outer city leaves in exactly –” Malfoy paused to check his watch. “44 minutes. It will take us at least twenty minutes to get to Diagon Alley where we will have to take the fireplace to the station which will take about ten minutes to get to the train. That gives you the next 14 minutes to pack your things and leave with me or stay here and rot with Rodolphus Lestrange’s wand up your nose.”
Hermione looked at Ginny and rolled her eyes. “I’ll go get my things,” she said and stood up.
“Fourteen minutes,” Malfoy said, tapping his watch. “Oh no wait- thirteen minutes.”
Malfoy stopped talking as he heard footsteps coming from the second story that began to descend.
“I think the bigger trunk was better,” one of voices came.
“It’s so heavy!” the second voice complained. “It’s not like she’s moving – it’s just temporary.”
Harry and Ron came into view as they descended the staircase, each step creaking against the floorboard beneath their feet. They stopped talking as they saw Draco Malfoy sitting on the couch with their respective girlfriends.
“Malfoy?” Harry blurted out.
“Oh great,” Malfoy muttered to himself. “It’s the Potter posse.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” Ron asked.
“Relax Weasley,” Malfoy scoffed. “I’ll be gone in a few minutes.”
“You’re not supposed to be here until tomorrow!” Harry said.
Hermione stood up and looked at Ron and Harry. “It’s alright,” she said. “There was a misunderstanding with the timings –”
“So you’re leaving now?” Ron said.
“Yes,” Hermione replied solemnly. “Don’t worry about me, Ron. I’ll be fine.”
“It’s not you I’m worried about,” Ron said, shooting Malfoy a nasty look, who seemed rather amused by the whole situation.
“Ten minutes,” he said, checking his watch again.
“Don’t talk to her like that!” Ron burst out, reaching into his pocket.
Harry darted forward and stepped between Ron and Malfoy and mouthed a few words to Ginny who got up from her seat immediately. “Let’s go pack, Ron!” she said as she grabbed Hermione’s arm and Ron’s arm and went with them upstairs, with Harry following them close behind.
“What the hell was that?!” Ron exploded as the four of them entered Hermione’s room on the second floor.
Ginny rolled her eyes and went over to help Harry pull out a large brown trunk from underneath the bed. “I told you I’d be leaving, Ron,” Hermione replied.
“Yes, but you didn’t tell me it was NOW!”
“Whether I left today or tomorrow, I’m still going to be gone,” Hermione said, tiredly. She was in no mood to argue with Ron but he just wouldn’t listen.
Harry and Ginny had managed to pull out the trunk and pretended with a lot of effort not to hear the arguing going on between Ron and Hermione. Harry thrust the trunk open while Ginny effortlessly waved her wand and all of Hermione’s possessions fell into it.
“And look at the way he was talking to you,” Ron bellowed. “It’s like you’re his bloody slave!”
“It’s Malfoy, Ron!” Hermione cried. “What else can you expect from him?”
“This is absolutely absurd,” Ron said. “I don’t see why you need to be going in the first place.”
“Are we going to have this conversation again?” Hermione asked angrily.
“Alright you two!” Ginny burst out. “Just stop this fighting!”
She placed herself between Ron and Hermione and looked at the both of them with a very annoyed expression. “Ron, Hermione’s leaving today and the last thing she needs is for you to be your stupid childish self. Why don’t you just say goodbye and do all that other crap couples do?”
“Hermione,” Harry began. “You guys shouldn’t be fighting at this time.”
“I can’t deal with this!” Hermione said. “If Ron doesn’t want to understand that I need to leave then maybe he doesn’t need to.”
“I can’t believe you’re acting like this!” Ron protested. “I understand why you need to leave!”
“Well then! Why are you so angry?”
“I just don’t….I just don’t want you to leave!” Ron burst out and then shut himself up in anguish. Hermione’s expression immediately softened as Harry and Ginny looked at each other with slight smiles appearing on their faces.
“I have to,” Hermione said slowly, gently placing her hand on Ron’s arm.
“I know,” Ron grunted.
“You can come anytime you want to visit me,” Hermione said.
“Well not anytime,” someone said from behind with a harsh tone. All four of them turned to see Malfoy standing at the doorway, leaning against the frame with an amused expression on his face.
“Granger,” he said, brandishing his watch in front of her. “Seven minutes.”
“Wait,” Hermione said harshly. “Why can’t Ron come anytime he wants?”
“Because it’s a protected house. And it won’t be very hard to find if Weasley here keeps bobbing in and out,” Malfoy sneered.
“What do you mean it’s protected?” Ginny asked.
“The Ministry’s placed a whole load of curses and spells and charms onto it. It’d take a pretty smart wizard with a lot of skill,” Malfoy paused to look at Ron and smirked, “to navigate his way through all of them to make it to the front door.”
“Well then this random death eater who killed your parents won’t be able to make it past the front gates, Hermione,” Ron said comfortingly. Malfoy’s expression faltered for a second and he looked at the both of them with a confused expression.
“Random?” he repeated. “Weasley, don’t underestimate him.”
“What are you talking about Malfoy?” Ron spat.
“It’s getting really late!” Ginny said suddenly.
“Yes,” Harry agreed immediately. “Ron, help me move Hermione’s trunk downstairs.”
Ron stared at the both of them blankly with a perplexed expression on his face. He didn’t have time to question what any of them had said as Harry shoved one handle of the trunk into his hands and began to navigate it down the stairs.
As the both of them left the room, Malfoy turned back to Hermione and Ginny and checked his watch for the fourth time. “Five minutes,” he said. “Coming or not?”
Hermione rolled her eyes at his unpleasant nature and then turned to Ginny. Ginny had been scribbling something on a piece of paper when she turned to face Hermione. “I’ll keep in contact,” she said gently.
“You better,” Ginny replied and hugged Hermione tightly. She still had the piece of scrap paper in her hand and as Hermione began to get slightly teary, she handed it to her.
“This is a safer address to send us owls to,” she said, indicating the writing on the paper. Hermione scanned her eyes over the sheet and read, Number 12, Grimmauld Place.
“Grimmauld place?” Hermione repeated with a puzzled expression.
“Yeah,” Ginny said, beginning to feel a little sad herself. “Since no one really lives there and it’s protected, we thought it’d be the safest place for you to send the owls in case Rodolphus is trying to intercept them or something.”
“Alright,” Hermione said and folded the piece of paper very carefully, placing it in her left pocket.
“I guess this is it,” Ginny said. “You take care.”
“You too,” Hermione said.
“And don’t you dare forget to keep in contact with us,” Ginny warned jokingly. “I think Ron may resort to becoming a hermit if you don’t.”
“Bye,” Hermione said wistfully and turned slowly, as though taking a longer time to leave would dull the pain.
Malfoy rolled his eyes and went down before her, his expensive dragon hide shoes making a thud against the wooden floors. The walk down the stairs for Hermione seemed to be one that caused her a lot of pain. It seemed that every step she took reminded her of another cherished memory that she’s spent with her friends.
The Quidditch World Cup.
Ron kissing her in the middle of the final battle.
Ron and Hermione dancing together for the first time.
She couldn’t take it anymore. She wiped her eyes quickly with her other sleeve this time, and continued walking down the stairs at a faster pace, with the memories of so many years lingering at the back of her mind.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she turned to see Harry and Ron waiting for her, with a disgruntled Malfoy standing in the back. Hermione tried to pull herself together as she turned the corner and walked up to Harry and Ron.
“Did Ginny give you the address?” Harry asked gently and Hermione nodded solemnly. “Don’t you forget to write to us,” Harry said.
“I won’t,” Hermione replied and hugged Harry tightly.
“Don’t worry,” Harry said softly, so that only Hermione could hear him. “If you need anything, just write to us.”
“Of course,” Hermione said, trying to smile but failing miserably.
“If he causes you any trouble – any at all, or you get lost or something happens, just remember, Grimmauld Place is the safest place you can go. Only Ron, you and I can get in there by ourselves- not even Ginny.”
“Alright,” Hermione nodded and then turned to Ron. She had been dreading saying goodbye because she wasn’t sure what she’d say or how she’d fit all she wanted to say. However, as the moment neared she realized she didn’t have to say that much to him – just goodbye.
“Ron,” she whispered softly as Ron quickly averted his gaze. “You knew we’d have to say goodbye.”
“I don’t want to,” Ron said childishly, fiddling with his finger nails.
“We’ll see each other very soon,” Hermione assured him. “No matter what Malfoy says, the Ministry will still allow you to visit me.”
“Do you promise to write to me?” Ron asked.
“Of course,” Hermione said, trying to keep her expression and voice happy. “Don’t worry about me,” she added.
“I never worry about you,” Ron said.
“Good, because I worry about you all the time.”
“Well, you shouldn’t,” Ron said seriously.
“I’ll try. It’s going to be very hard not to keep thinking about you.”
Ron nodded. “I don’t think I’ll be able to stop thinking about you.”
Hermione smiled very weakly and put her hand on Ron’s face. “This will all be over before you know it.”
Ron nodded and then turned away for a few seconds. “What’s wrong?” Hermione asked.
“Oh it’s nothing,” Ron said chokingly. “I…I’ve just got something in my eye.”
Hermione couldn’t help but smile as she turned Ron back around and gave him a kiss. Their embrace was only broken when Malfoy rudely cleared his throat and scoffed ever so slightly. Ron and Hermione broke apart and turned to see Ginny coming down the stairs too.
“I’ve got to go,” Hermione said softly and wiped her eyes quickly as Malfoy tapped his watch impatiently. “I’ve got to go.”
“About time,” Malfoy sneered as reached into his robes and drew out his wand. He aimed the wooden stick very carefully at Hermione’s large trunk and whispered a few words, causing the trunk to levitate itself and move with Malfoy’s wand.
“Can we go now?” he asked impatiently.
“Yes,” Hermione nodded and turned to the three of them. “Bye,’ she whispered gravely.
Harry, Ginny and Ron just looked at Hermione as she put on her coat and stepped out into the garden. Malfoy had gone in front of her and was waiting outside. Hermione didn’t turn around again, the pain she would feel would have been too overwhelming for her. She took a deep breath and shut the door behind her, leaving all she knew behind.
A/N: Another chapter! Please review to let me know what you think of it. Trust me, a lot of ideas or comments/critique that reviewers leave me affect the way I write my next chapters. :)