Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Author's Note: In response to my Ignorance challenge! Do enjoy.
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Tears dripped off her nose and cheeks into the palms of her hands. Her body shook and her head throbbed in pain; it felt as if someone had slapped her consistently on the top of the head and the pain was only now affecting her.
She sat huddled in the corner of the dormitory, glad that nobody would be coming up anytime soon. She tilted her head towards the window, sniffling and listening to the screams as Gryffindor scored another ten points in the Quidditch game. It was Gryffindor versus Slytherin, one of the most anticipated games of the year. Nobody would come and find her, nobody would even think of her, and therefore she was safe for the time being.
She scrunched up the bottom of her shirt in a ball and squeezed it with her hands, trying to take her frustration and hurt out on her clothing. Her robes were already bunched up in anger and thrown across the room, and the picture of them lay on the floor, the glass shattered into millions of pieces across their smiling faces.
Dropping her shirt and pushing her fingers through her hair, she bit her lips as a new wave of tears went down her cheeks. She hadn’t cried this openly and this much in a long time. She tried in vain to recall a time when she had felt this ripped apart, this pained, and no time came to her.
Perhaps when her grandmother went into the hospital and the doctors told her family that there was no hope? She shook her head. That was a different type of hurt; her grandmother hadn’t intentionally done anything to cause her pain.
He had known what he was doing, he had known what risk she took in trusting him and he had intentionally hurt her. Did he want to see her crumble? Did he enjoy seeing her die slowly inside? Did he want to see her reaction when she saw him with her? Was it worth it to him? Did all those nights mean nothing, did all those words sound good at the time? Was everything scripted and Hermione Granger had forgotten to read the play the night before?
The crowd outside screamed again, and the announcer, a fifth year she didn’t know, announced Slytherin’s ten point scoring along with an ‘exceptional manipulative dive by the impressive seventh year Seeker, Draco Malfoy.’ She moaned and struggled to get up, feeling as though she’d vomit. If you had told Hermione that this time last year she would be feeling close to collapsing because of a boy, and that she had loved that boy, she would have laughed in your face.
She wouldn’t ever stoop that low; she would never let a boy toy with her heart that way. She always evaluated everyone and would know their every action. Hermione knew everything. Why would she give her heart away to someone who she knew would break it?
“Ignorance is bliss,” The words escaped her mouth before she knew what she was saying. She clutched her stomach as the crowd outside screamed again. She was going to vomit if they mentioned his name, she knew it. Why didn’t the announcer just announce everything he had done to her? She whispered again, “Ignorance is bliss.”
It’s funny, she thought as she splashed water across her face, I never thought knowledge could kill you.
As she stared at her swollen red eyes, she wondered how she got herself into this mess.
It started with Potions class, she decided. Harry and Ron had taken a lower level class then herself, after failing six potions in a row (Harry wasn’t so great without his book from the Prince, which he had discarded long ago) and he was in her class. How he ever managed to get into a higher level Potions class was a mystery to her. Sure, he was smart, but he had always been so preoccupied the year before that she didn’t think he had retained anything.
And of course, the good old Professor thought it amusing to pair up a Gryffindor and Slytherin. Oh, how Merlin funny was that! Hermione remembered her grimace, her disgust as he walked over and sat down besides her. Everything about him she hated, and she hated how he was let back in the school. Oh, the poor boy made a mistake! He didn’t know what he was doing, he’s not evil. Yeah, right, Hermione remembered thinking.
Her skin had prickled and she shivered every time those eyes had looked at her. They mocked her in her fear, but she stood tall. She dealt with everything she had to do in order to pass those first few months of school – she stayed after class to help him work, she went after all the classes were over to finish the potion (he continually would screw up, leaving her to fix everything), and then the professor suggested she tutor him.
Oh, what a grand idea. Hermione shook her head as she looked in the mirror – she had only said yes because Professor McGonagall told her it would look good. The Ministry of Magic would like that she had tutored students, taken time out of her studies to help others. And with the way the magical world was going right now, with mudbloods being diminished in their social scale by the day as Voldemort grew more powerful, she needed all the help she could get in receiving a job at the Ministry.
Now, she wished she could recall the next part of the story and make it seem hopelessly romantic. That they fell in love over tutoring, that he realized she would help him with anything. But it didn’t happen like that. Life sometimes does, for the lucky ones, but not for her.
They had started it off purely physical, and Hermione wondered why she’d ever even let herself do that with him. She supposed it was because there was nobody else in her life at that moment and she was tired of being alone. But she wasn’t really sure. Sometimes people just want something, even if the reason for that want isn’t completely clear to them.
The moonlight danced across their pale bodies, his hair seeming to sparkle as the leaves above them moved, letting the moonlight dance across them. A light breeze blew, the night exceptionally warm for that time of year. They were hidden by spells, and a mattress from one of the dorms was on the ground with only snow white sheets covering them. The rustling of the leaves from the Forbidden Forest became their music as they lay together, content.
“Granger,” Draco said softly, twirling her curls in his fingers as she lay beside him. She murmured something back, her eyes fighting to keep open. He chuckled softly and she could feel him shake his head. “I didn’t know you would be someone who’d…do this sort of thing without loving the person.”
“Yeah, well,” Hermione murmured back. She didn’t really have an answer for that. She’d like to love someone, true, but sometimes love hurt too much. She’d spent too many years not being good enough for Ron, and then having Krum only stay for one year and leave her hurt too. Sometimes it felt good to envelope herself in Draco, something purely physical, so it wouldn’t mean anything when he walked away from her.
She didn’t say any of this out loud. Draco’s fingers left her curls and trailed lightly down her back and she wondered if he understood. Why would he be doing this either if he didn’t?
“It’s nice, sometimes, just us.” Draco said quietly. “I kind of forget where we come from. It’s a nice escape.”
“Draco Malfoy,” Hermione murmured. “Being honest - I never thought I’d see the day.” Draco chuckled at these words and muttered something that sounded awfully like, ‘don’t count on it happening frequently,’ before he began kissing her neck again. She turned over and kissed him full on the lips, submerging herself in him again.
The game was over suddenly, jarring Hermione from her reverie. The crowd was roaring, and she couldn’t make out who had won. She found herself not really caring, and turned back to look at herself in the mirror. She supposed it was around December, when their partnership-with-benefits became more frequent, and she began to fall for him.
And how she hated herself for it.
She’d never really loved anyone, not the way she loved Draco anyway. They had gone about their business, pretending to hate each other (at least on her part) and indulging in one another whenever they had the chance. She had become possessive, hating any girl that touched him, and wondering if they did it better than she did.
“Granger, we really should be working on the potion,” Draco drawled, drumming his fingers against the library tables. His other hand was on her knee, and he was kneading it, distracting her from reading the instructions they had to look up.
It was snowing outside, late January, and she felt warm and cosy with him by her side. They hadn’t spent time together in a good week and a half, which had been eating away at her. Draco usually wanted them to meet daily, or every other day, and suddenly his interest seemed elsewhere. She glanced up at his comment and quirked her eyebrow – this was old news, Draco acting as though she was the one distracting the pair when in reality it was the other way around.
“I’m sorry I’m too much to handle,” Hermione whispered, and he smirked. He leaned over and flipped the page of the book she was reading, slowly pulling back after kissing her forehead quickly in the process. She glared and fought off a smile at the same time, Draco chuckling softly. This was usually how their evenings started off, it was nothing new.
“That was a really bad line, Granger.” And they both snickered at the same time, Draco beginning to lean closer to her when suddenly someone whipped around the corner, making them both jump back from each other.
“Draco! I’ve been looking for you everywhere. Even Crabbe and Goyle didn’t know where you were. What are you doing?” Pansy asked her hands on her hips. She pouted, ignoring Hermione’s presence. “I wanted to spend the evening with you.”
It was clearly meant that she wanted them together in a different sense than hanging out, and Hermione bristled. Draco raised his eyebrows at her movement before turning back to Pansy.
“I’m working on Potions, Pansy. I’m in a high level class. I can’t fail.” Draco said logically, pointing to the books in front of him. “I’ll see you some other time.”
“But Draco, I haven’t seen you in a long time…Why would you want to hang out with this filthy mudblood when you can be with me?” Pansy leaned over, showing off rather obvious parts of her body as she tried to get closer to Draco. Hermione clenched her fist and she felt her face getting redder. She tried to calm down, to pretend this wasn’t bothering her, but it most certainly was.
“I’m sorry, Pansy. I’ve got to work. I can’t do what I did last year. Why don’t you go find Blaise? I’m sure he’d be up for…hanging out.” Draco finished, and Pansy was flushed suddenly before glaring at Hermione.
“If that’s the way you see me, Draco…” Pansy said quietly. She glanced at Hermione suddenly and said. “Watch out, Mudblood.” Hermione glanced at her in surprise, not understanding why Pansy was threatening her. Unless, of course, she had an inkling of what Draco and Hermione really did on those Thursdays they studied.
“Let’s get back to what we were, er, discussing before, Granger.” Draco said as they heard Pansy stalk off and shut the library door. “I’ve got to leave slightly early tonight, if you don’t mind.”
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, trying to focus on what he was saying as his lips reached her neck. She shook her head slightly, wondering what Draco could possibly have to do. Thursday nights were theirs; he even cancelled Quidditch practices so he could spend time with her. “You’ve never had to go early before.”
“I know. I’m expecting a letter.” Draco said quickly, now applying more pressure to his shower of kisses, and Hermione pulled away slowly.
“What…type of letter?” Hermione asked. “From your parents?” Draco raised his right eyebrow at her questions and nodded. She narrowed her eyes. “I thought your parents wrote in the mornings only.”
“Not tonight. C’mon, Granger, what’s with all the questions? Why are you so on guard? I haven’t seen you in a week, I’ve missed you…”
“Maybe that’s why I’m on guard, Draco! I haven’t seen you, and you cancelled last Thursday, and now you can’t stay tonight. Is something going on? Did I do something wrong?” Hermione asked, and Draco chuckled, much to Hermione’s annoyance.
“You didn’t do anything, Granger. Believe me.” Draco kissed her lips extra softly and she didn’t pull back. He was telling the truth, she decided, and if he wasn’t, she’d rather remain ignorant for the time being if that meant she could spend more time with the boy she was slowly falling in love with.
“And Slytherin has won!” The commentator screamed, and tears leaked from Hermione’s eyes. She walked back from the bathroom into the dormitory, stepping over the picture on the ground of them.
One Thursday, they had snuck out to Hogsmeade, and an old man sitting outside Hog’s Head had offered ‘to take a picture of the lovely couple.’ Each had gotten a copy of it, Hermione making sure she kept it safe. The picture made it real, something she could see.
She loved him, and in the picture it was showing. She didn’t have to badger herself every night wondering if she had really felt that about him and then wait until the next time she saw him. She had known. The photo had been a safeguard, a reminder, and something she held dear. Now it was something she scorned.
It was the end of February, and a Thursday. The past two weeks Draco hadn’t been able to make their usual meetings, and Hermione had to badger him because, besides the fact that she wanted to spend time with him, they did have work to do. In class, he was a sweet talker and he would kiss her in the shadows. Everything felt right when he was there, but once he was gone, it was as if someone had shut off the radio playing sweet tunes in her head and the fuzziness was gone. He was breaking plans and something was going on.
Part of her didn’t want to know. It was nice, living in this quiet world of happiness and longing. He made her feel special in a way nobody else did. Ron never did, Krum never did this to her. He made her alive, he made her on fire, and he made her feel wanted. So, he was using her, she knew that. But sometimes being used and taken advantage of was the closest thing to being wanted and needed. Sometimes, when that’s all you have, you love it anyway. It became a daily part of her life so much that she couldn’t imagine possibly living without it.
She turned down the corridors quickly, trying to get to the library when someone grabbed her shoulder. She swung around suddenly, expecting it to be Draco, and all of her books tumbled to the ground.
“Sorry, Hermione - where are you going? Potions again?” Harry asked. Something in his voice telling her he was tired of the old charade. She blushed and grabbed the books from the floor. Harry didn’t bother to help. “Hermione, are you meeting Malfoy again?”
“Yes, of course, Harry. You know we work on our homework every Thursday. We’re partners. We’ve been doing this all year. What’s wrong?” Hermione asked, the words spilling out of her lips insanely fast. Harry stared at her, his green eyes piercing her own.
“I saw you, Hermione. I’ve known for about two months. I’ve been waiting for you to say something, I’ve been trying to be a good friend and respect your privacy.” Harry said softly. Hermione’s stomach clenched. “I know you’re dating Malfoy.”
“I’m not dating him—”
“Don’t lie to me, Hermione, I saw you with him on the grounds—”
“We just … enjoy each other.” Hermione whispered. Harry stopped mid-sentence and stared. She didn’t like it at all. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Hermione, what happened to you? Are you serious?” Harry looked at her as if he’d never seen her in his life. “What’s wrong with you? I thought you were better than that!”
Hermione shook her head, her curls spilling across her shoulders rapidly. Harry’s look of disgust hurt her; she had known this moment would have to come. Over the weeks and months she’d forgotten she’d ever have to tell them, lying had suddenly become a part of her. She was Hermione Granger- professional liar and manipulator, if only that meant she could spend time with the boy she loved.
“Apparently not. I’ve got to go, Harry, please,” Hermione shoved past him, a look of shock on his face at her rudeness. “I’ve got to talk to Draco.”
“Fine, whatever, Hermione. I’m sure he knows you better than I do at this point.” Harry glared, her stomach plummeting as he said this. She and Harry never really fought. They were always close. And now this? She shook her head as he stalked off, and threw her bag over her shoulder before quickly walking down the corridors again.
Just as she reached the library, she realized the darkness was suddenly thicker than usual. The lights inside weren’t lit, and as she tugged at the door she realized it was closed. Sighing and shaking her head, she leaned against the wall and slid to the cold ground. A flash of lightening suddenly lit up the corridor from the window on her right, and she closed her eyes.
Thunder and tears erupted at the same time. How stupid could she be? She was still chasing after him, and obviously he didn’t want her anymore. That’s why they never got together. And now Harry was going to hate her, and she didn’t blame him. She couldn’t even imagine Ron’s response, or Ginny’s, or anyone else in the school for that matter.
The rain and thunder created so much noise; Hermione didn’t hear the giggling at first. The moment she did, she froze. Did she want to know? Deep down, she already knew what was going to happen. She had probably known it for a long time. But if she didn’t walk over there, maybe she could live in this perfect little bubble she was living in for a little longer. Maybe she would get a fairytale ending, even if that meant she was ignorant to what was really going on. But as the giggling got louder, something was set off inside her.
She had to know.
Leaving her bag behind, she slowly got up to a standing position. She walked gingerly over to the side corridor that led off of the library. Hermione’s feet echoed, but she didn’t bother quieting them. As she approached she heard the giggling fall silent, as if the person doing the laughing realized they might have been too loud. The echoing of Hermione’s shoes was the only sound, except for the occasional eruptions of thunder. Tears fell silently and Hermione did not even realize they were falling as quickly as they were.
The corner was dark but she knew they were there. She stopped walking and stood, quietly, waiting and watching. A gulp came from the darkness, and a snicker that was higher pitched.
Draco’s face emerged from the complete darkness, his hair standing out as another flash of lightening lit up the corridor.
“Hey, Hermione,” He said easily. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I don’t know, Draco. It’s just Thursday, that’s all.” Hermione said coldly. She looked over his shoulder. “So who’s there? Pansy? Mackenzie?”
A girl with blonde straight hair emerged behind Draco, her eyes gleaming with pride. Hermione’s stomach clenched—it was the fifth year, Marissa Wayne. The girl had a reputation almost as bad as Pansy’s, maybe worse because she had a tendency to go after older boys.
Hermione had heard about Marissa and Blaise getting together in the beginning of the year, and was almost calmed by it. Draco and Blaise didn’t really share the girls they were with; at least, Draco made sure Blaise never got anywhere near Hermione. And although Pansy was with both of them every other month, Hermione always assumed she was an exception. Both boys didn’t care for her. Not the way Draco was with Hermione, and not the way Blaise had been with Marissa.
“Doing Blaise’s leftovers, Draco?” The words came out before Hermione even realized she was the one saying them. Draco’s face became guarded and he sneered.
“Shut up, Granger, why do you care?” Draco asked, and Hermione’s heart felt like it was ripped in two. Marissa snickered again, running her fingers through her already mussed hair.
“Mudblood, honestly, I know what you and Draco’ve been up to, but really…he’s not yours, you know that right? He belongs to Slytherin, not Gryffindor. And you’re a mudblood, sure, you might be pretty, but you really have nothing other than that. Why don’t you just scurry off and have fun with the two boys you seem to always be with? Potter and Weasley - I’m sure they’ll give you what you want.”
Marissa’s words were echoed into her ears, and although Draco looked angered still by Hermione’s previous jab, she noticed the jealousy in his eyes. He was probably wondering if she had done anything with those boys when they had been together. He was probably seeing the hurt on Hermione’s face, and suddenly realizing she might have developed feelings for him. Stupid prat.
“Marissa, leave.” Draco ordered. Marissa glared and put her hands on her hips.
“What is with you and Blaise and orders—” She began, but his one look of pure anger shook her enough to nod and walk off. She looked over her shoulder a few times before turning the corridor and leaving. Once her footsteps were no longer heard, Draco cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry, Hermione, it’s just that’s the way I am.” He said softly. He touched her arm, and tears fell onto his. He gave her a quizzical look and then whispered, “I didn’t think you would care, we never really talked about it just being us, and I never knew if you were doing stuff with Weasley…”
“That’s bullshit, Draco. You know I’m not like you. I was only with you. I love you. But you don’t know how to love. I forgot that snakes are cold-blooded.” Hermione’s words didn’t slash across him like she hoped, his emotions not wavering. Or maybe they were and he was just better at hiding them.
His arms went around her, and she let him hold her as she inhaled his scent. She loved him, she did, and it hurt so badly. She wanted to fall into his arms, one last time, just one more time…she opened her eyes, and saw marks on his neck from Marissa. Shaking, she pulled away. Draco’s lips lightly caressed hers, but she pulled away again.
“I can’t anymore, Draco. It’s killing me. I love you. I love you.” She repeated. She stared into his cold eyes, wanting him to repeat it. If he said it back, she’d be in his arms again, and she stayed there waiting. Draco sighed and she felt like reeling. He didn’t love her. She thought he had, she had convinced herself he had, and now she knew. She knew the truth.
Draco Malfoy did not love her back.
“Goodbye, Draco,” She whispered. She touched his cheek lightly and then hugged herself as she walked off. “Goodbye.”
She finally stood up and wiped her eyes. The tears stopped flowing, and she threw her hair into a bun. Hermione knew she looked like hell, but today she did not care. She got up and walked down slowly to the grounds. Everyone was coming back from the game, so she walked away from the Quidditch pitch towards the lake.
She sat down, alone, on a rock once she arrived. Her left hand made ripples in the water and she looked up into the grey sky. Last night the rain eventually stopped around eight, and she hadn’t gone to any classes today. She wasn’t ready. She missed her bubble, and she forgot how much she cherished it until it was gone. As these thoughts ran through her mind, and her body was being numbed from the chill in the air, she saw a shadow appear over her.
“You weren’t in any classes today.” The voice said, and Hermione bit her lip. Don’t cry, she said to herself, don’t cry. Not in front of him.
“Please leave me alone.” The words came out pathetically. “I really don’t need this right now. Just give me a few days before I can look at you again and accept the fact that I made a fool out of myself. At least a few days.”
“I’m sorry, Hermione. I am. I didn’t realize you cared about me that much. We’re too different, you know? I didn’t think that it was possible for someone like you to fall for someone like me. It’s almost impossible.”
Hermione let out a shaky laugh. “Anything’s possible, Draco. Don’t you believe in magic?”
He didn’t respond, and she knew that question didn’t really make sense to him. He was never a Muggle, magic was always real in his life. She folded her arms across herself and whispered, “If you love someone, Draco, someday, sometimes it’s better to not know if they feel the same way about you. Because if they don’t, and you never ask, you can at least pretend for awhile. That’s the nice part. So don’t do what I did. Be ignorant. Sometimes it’s the safest thing you can be. Cherish your ignorance.”
“Please leave. Nothing you can say will make it better.” He began to turn, she could feel him moving behind her, and then leaned over to kiss the top of her head. A single tear rolled down her cheek as he did this, and after squeezing her shoulder, he turned and walked away.
“I love you,” She whispered.