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Chapter 1 : Introduction :: Once More, With Feeling
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difference n 1. unlikeliness 2. point of unlikeliness 3. disagreement 4. remainder left after subtraction different adj differently adv
—quoted from the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus
“… it took me too long to realise that i don’t take good pictures cuz i have the kind of beauty that moves”
—Ani DiFranco, Evolve
Dedicated to my one and only Lynn (Jacqueline_Noir, author of Stained Masquerade), for her support, friendship, help and patience with me. Being on the other side of the world, she is the proof friendship holds no boundaries, the absolute proof that there is such a thing as a true friend. My time on HPFF would not have even been mentionable if I hadn’t met her. This is for you and you only, Lynn. I can only prey that you’ll like it.
With all my love and unconditional gratitude for all you’ve done,
DISCLAIMER:: This story is based on Stevie Nicks’ outstanding and breathtaking song, Leather and Lace and Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (you’ll definitely see this inspiration further on). All characters and places belong to J. K. Rowling and will remain that way throughout the rest of this novel. Basically, I own nothing but the plot ;)
Introduction :: Once More, With Feeling
Ginny’s reflection the mirror had scared her, causing her to jump and veer off-course slightly with her lipstick. A red line runs across the side of her cheek now, stopping abruptly where she realised her mistake. It looks slightly comical, and she thinks for a fleeting second to leave it there, go out with this cut-like mark across her face. She marvels at this little rebellion of hers, then reaches over the sink and grabs a bit of toilet paper, wiping it off cleanly.
The stain on the paper looks like blood—the moments before it dries and sets. She stares at it for a while, before throwing it in the toilet with a shaking breath to calm her beating heart. She’s being ridiculous.
All the while, Ginny just stands and watches. It’s unnerving, but Hermione says nothing, closing the lipstick and reaching for her eyeliner. This is all something that can easily be done with magic, but she feels the need to stall and waste time, just so she can play the feeling over in her mind; wonder at its splendour and cry at its meaning.
The eyeliner looks beautiful on her, as always. Bringing out the amber in her eyes and giving off an aura of confidence she doubts she really possesses. Ginny notices something missing, reaching into her pocket and retrieving her wand. Hermione catches her doing it and says with a rush, “No. No magic.”
Ginny frowns, pocketing the wand. “I’m afraid to ask, but I will anyway. Why?”
“Because …” Hermione searches her mind for a logical excuse. There is none, and she admits with a slight blush, “I want this to be special. To last as long as it can.”
In those few seconds after Hermione has spoken, Ginny’s eyes flicker downward. She can see the sadness, the pain, and Hermione feels her heart drop instantly for her. Ron would tell her not to feel so much for others. Ginny would tell her she was being too kind. Hermione’s telling herself it’s because she loves her.
“You should be with Harry,” she finds herself saying. Is that supposed to be comforting? She cringes away from her own words.
“No.” Ginny looks away, and for a few seconds collects herself. Then she turns back; Hermione has to hold herself back from moaning out loud. A fake, plastic smile is in place, and though they both know it’s a futile attempt at peace, Ginny continues to keep it there. “How can I straighten your hair then, if I can’t use magic?”
Hermione looks at the reflection of her best friend. “In the top drawer of my dresser. There should be this funny, flat thing … Like a …” She frowns. What the hell does a straightener look like? She doubted any other twenty-year-old girl would have to describe a straightener. “It’s like a really big clip, with a cord coming off it.” Wow. She blinks. That’s really bad.
After another second of thought, she snaps with finality, angry and annoyed at herself for not getting something so simple, “It’s a big out-of-place thing in my top drawer.”
Ginny leaves, and as Hermione starts applying a thin layer of sliver eye shadow on her eyelids, she hears laughter coming from her bedroom. “What the hell is this thing doing in your underwear drawer?!”
Hermione smiles, breathing under her breath, “Having the time of its life …”
“You have to promise me it’ll go okay,” Astoria says, walking ahead of her boyfriend down the little Muggle street. “The last time—”
“Aw, come on, you can’t still hold a grudge against me for that.” Draco’s a step beside her now, watching with a smile as the girl by his side struggles to hold all the shopping bags by herself. “Are you sure you don’t …?”
She sighs, dropping them down on the path with a loud clatter. For a moment Draco thinks she’s broken whatever it was inside, but just as soon as the thought crosses his mind, the bags disappear.
Astoria pockets her wand and says, “Please, just promise me, Draco?”
Her eyes are studying him carefully, no doubt taking in his features to see his expression change, as if he might lie. How can he promise something he doesn’t even know is going to happen and not lie? That’s a bit pointless, isn’t it? Her gaze is so sharp and aware that he finds himself shifting away—this is not going as planned. He can feel the small box in the side of his pocket, and he starts searching his mind for the little speech he had premeditated.
Somehow his eyes are back on Astoria. “Okay,” he sighs, disappointed with himself. “You’ve just got to—”
He stops, smiling down at her. Her expression flickers and eyes narrow. For a moment nothing is said, just an easy silence for him, a suspicious one for her. It’s twilight, and behind the little girl Draco can see the silhouette of Malfoy Manor, tall and gorgeously placed in its splendour. For a moment he is lost in the beauty of the scene before him—the beautiful, blue-eyed, petite little darling ahead of him, and her palace behind. The smells are beautiful, and in the air comes the premonition of rain—that sweet, indescribable smell. Actually, now that he thinks on it, how do you describe a smell like that? Hadn’t someone told him when he was younger that that was the only sense you could never fully describe? Wait … or had that been taste?
Suddenly aware he was staring, Draco’s eyes flicker, his only sign of embarrassment. Astoria knows that flicker all too well, but before she has time to comment on it, Draco has leant forward and connected his lips with hers.
It’s so sudden it takes a moment for Astoria to find herself. He is soft and slow at first, nibbling and searching to the point where she wants to grab him by the ears and make him kiss her like he means it already. And then he does, all hungry, as if the inside of her mouth and the whole of her tongue are made of strawberries or ice-cream or something equally as sweet and delicious. Her head swims and she is grateful that his arms are wrapped around her. If she had been on her own she would’ve swooned like a heroine from a Muggle romance novel.
After a while, he pulls away and touches her lips with his fingers. “Forgive me, mon chérie?”
“Uh-uh,” says Astoria sharply, coming to. “That’s not allowed. No French. You know it makes me giddy.”
“Then why are you smiling?”
She’s smiling now. “You’re an idiot.”
She unwraps herself from his embrace and walks up towards Malfoy Manor, knowing it would be safe to Apparate now, but not wanting to. Instead she starts walking a pace slower, wishing upon everything that Draco will catch up to her, whisper in her ear again. Even if it is in French.
He overtakes her and she tries to hide her happiness. She pokes her tongue out at him and he laughs, a short bark of surprise.
“I knew you would come running back to me,” she says, a slight swing in her hips.
He looks down, then grabs her shoulders, stopping her. “I promise I won’t ruin the Farewell party.”
She raises her eyebrows.
He sighs. “I promise, Mrs Malfoy, I will not get drunk, shout, or sneer—I still don’t understand why you hate tha—”
Her expression stops him. “What did you just say?” she shrieks.
“Um …” He racks his brain. “I won’t sneer?”
“No, what did you call me?!”
“Mrs—Oh, shit, Astoria! Fuck it, it was supposed to be a sur—”
“Oh my gosh! Draco!”
Astoria’s suddenly in tears, barely containing herself and squeaking. Draco looks at her, completely bemused at this sudden mental breakdown. Merlin, if she didn’t want to marry him that much, then why the hell—?
She throws herself on him, sobbing into his neck and saying, “Did you just … ?”
Then it hits him. She isn’t upset; she’s overcome with happiness. “Yes.” He laughs, relieved. Merlin, he hadn’t ever put himself in that position before. But Astoria always did that to him—pulled out something in him he never thought he had. “Will you marry me, Astoria Greengrass?”
For a moment there is silence, where his heart takes its cue and starts to beat loudly and unevenly in his chest. Then she reluctantly untangles herself from him, taking a small step back. “Yes, yes, I will. Oh, my … I will.” She’s trying her hardest not to bound around the street, not to start screaming and crying and—
“After we leave college?” She nods. He smiles, suddenly overcome with a bombardment of emotions. “What’s that Muggle thing you once told me about? The moving photographs they have on those big things, and when the Muggles don’t get it right, they have to do it again? What was that thing you said they say?”
She thought for a minute, then, “‘Once more, with feeling’?”
“That’s it,” he says. In one smooth motion he has her back in his arms, Astoria settling into him like a puzzle piece. He kisses her again with so much feeling it would bring even the dead back to life.
On the dance floor the noise is deafening.
The ecstasy beat, someone once called it. A driving, thumping presence, as regular as technology can create it but just about impossible to dance to without some chemical assistance …
Unless the energy is already wound up inside you like a tight spring. Craving some kind of release.
Something in him feels the music, the muscle-memory takes over and the rhythm is everything.
Ginny moves like she was born dancing. No self-conscious glances at the other dancers, no fear. Dark eyes hold his gaze, and she dances for him, her hips fluid, her motions sensual, as her arms rise high above her head and she allows her gaze to follow the delicate movements of her fingers.
The light reflects from smooth skin, and he remembers the warmth of her touch.
She lowers her arms and passes them down the sides of her body, past her hips, caressing the movement and bending her knees, swaying always with the rhythm. And those eyes return to his, fixing on him as she straightens again, running the tip of her tongue across moist lips.
She turns slowly around, her eyes holding his, her body living the beat.
“If this is our last night together,” she had said to him earlier, “I want to see you love me.”
Then her arms reach out to draw him into the dance and he is lost in the movement.
The heat of the close-packed crowd and the all-enveloping sound from the huge speakers banish all thought.
Harry is the dance, and Ginny owns the dance, moving around him, touching, retreating, holding, releasing. Her eyes on his, then spinning from him, to lose themselves in the crowd and the lights. But always in control.
On the edge of the dance floor Ron is holding Hermione’s hand. He’s not comfortable here, never was, and he is thinking now he never will be. All too familiar faces are passing by, people he thought—or hoped—he’d never see again. Graduating from Hogwarts, he had rejoiced in the fact that he wouldn’t be seeing these people again. But this was just one night … And he shouldn’t be worrying about something so mundane … This was the last time he was going to see her …
Or, at least, the last time he’d see her this year. Which reminds him … “Mum asked if you’ll be coming home for Christmas.”
Hermione, who is still annoyed Ron won’t kiss her, snaps, “That’s half a year away.”
“You’ll be coming home, though, right?” His ears colour, but he tries his hardest to maintain eye-contact. He lets go of her hand.
“I’m only in Glasgow—”
“Hermione.” There’s a wry tone to his voice, and now its Hermione’s turn to colour. She does, and for those few seconds he cherishes it. She’s so graceful at it, like everything else she does, and it has taken his breath away, as always. “You’ll come home?”
She nods, her eyes holding his. “Every six months. I promise.”
Something in the back of his mind stirs, like a distant memory, like the movement of dust in the breeze. He knew it’d be too long. He tells himself it’s not because he can’t trust himself—looking around, he thinks there’s no one here anyway—, but Hermione’s his worry. Leaving to a ‘magic’ college has always been her dream, her life’s goal. It would be wrong for him to ruin it by staying with her. All those possibilities, nights out when she’d feel guilty because he’s not there with her or she had looked at another guy the wrong way … He couldn’t enslave her like that. And it’s not like they were making lifelong plans, anyway. It’s not like they were planning to marry.
“What are you thinking?”
Suddenly aware that her eyes are still on his, he blushes deeply. In the neon of blue, green and purple lights that have only recently descended, she can barely notice it though, much to his relief.
“About … about you,” he mutters truthfully.
Hermione smiles, opening her mouth to say something to calm his nerves, but a cry rings out over the dance floor. They both turn.
“That’s you!” A beautiful blonde girl is standing in the midst of a quickly gathering crowd, her body bent double in the heat of her anger. Neither Ron nor Hermione can see who the young witch is fighting with, but Ron has the sudden premonition of familiarity. He sees her take a deep breath, then step forward. “You dick! You promised me! Do you even care for me anymore?! Do you realise what you do?!”
There’s silence for a moment, except for the steady beating of the music. Ron wishes it would shut up, wondering if the other accomplice of the blue is talking. They weren’t. In a flurry of movement the gathering crowd suddenly parts, and Hermione beside him gasps.
Draco Malfoy’s eyes flash at the young blonde. “You should know promises are almost always broken by now, ma chérie.”
The girl takes another breath, either to keep her building anger in check or to keep those tears from falling. Then, in one swift movement, she has ripped a small ring off her finger, throwing it right at him. “Go find someone else, my dearest.” Each word drips with ice and sarcasm, and she repeats with finality, “Someone else. I’ve had enough.”
She turns and leaves, so dramatic Hermione gets the sudden impression that this is all rehearsed for show. After all, that’d be just like Malfoy. But as soon as the blonde witch has reached the door of the nightclub, she suddenly starts to shake. Violently. Her whole frame is convulsing, heartrending sobs tearing at her throat and breaking the silence that the music is. Hermione can’t see her face, but she can just imagine the pain it might hold.
“Oh, my God …” she whispers.
Ron has the urge to go up to Malfoy and start smashing his face in right then and there. Looking around the dance floor, he spots Harry, who is obviously having the same thoughts as himself. In fact, it looks like Harry has already tried to get to Malfoy, but Ginny is holding him back, whispering low in his ear.
“That’s Astoria Greengrass,” Hermione says suddenly, confirming Ron’s suspicions of familiarity.
She’s on the ground now, huddled into herself. Everyone is so shocked from her breakdown that no one has made a move to comfort her. Except for Malfoy. Moving forward quickly like a wild cat towards its prey, he passes Ron and Hermione without a second glance at the couple or his usual snide comments. He’s at Astoria in seconds, scooping her up into his arms and rocking her back and forth, whispering words of apology in her ear.
For a moment Ron thinks Draco’s about to cry himself, but that quickly passes and he confirms he must’ve imagined it.
The crowd parts, the fight the only thing coming from their lips. Soon they’ll forget it, move on, find something new to gossip about. Hermione is for some reason disgusted by this, though she knows she’s going to do exactly the same. But as she turns back to Ron, ready to say something witty about Malfoy’s strange behaviour, a small glint on the floor catches her eye.
Without a word she walks to it, Ron asking loudly over the music where she’s heading. She doesn’t answer, bending down to pick up the tiny, delicate silver circle. So beautiful. So real. A diamond glints in the centre of the ring, and the lights on the ceiling catch the shining silver, so at random moments Hermione can see her own reflection.
Something about it is so …
She gasps, turning around to see where she had seen the couple last. They’re still there, though Astoria seems to have calmed down a little, just kneeling in front of the exit, hugging Draco tightly as though letting go of him would mean death. She can’t see Malfoy, as his back is towards her, but Astoria’s face is visible. She’s so peaceful in his grasp. So delicate. Yet her knuckles are white from the grip she holds on his black robes. This almost brings tears to Hermione’s eyes.
Hermione looks down at the wedding ring in her hand again. Then, without a second thought, she walks over the couple, stopping behind them hesitantly.
Malfoy has not yet recognised her presence, but Astoria hears her footsteps and looks up. For a moment there is silence as the two girls regard each other, Astoria lost for words at this strange setting. Then Hermione reaches out, opening her palm to reveal the tiny ring.
More silence as Astoria tries to catch up with her surroundings. Oh, she’s so tired, so, so tired … Hermione feels sorry for her, almost reaching out to touch her hair. Is it as soft as it looks?
Then, without a word, Astoria takes the ring from Hermione’s hand, slowly, tentatively. She looks up with a sad smile and mouths the words, ‘Thank you.’
Hermione just nods, afraid that the sound of her voice might cause Malfoy to wake from his bliss. The last thing she feels like doing is defending herself from someone like him.
She makes to move away slowly, but suddenly Ron is by her side, dragging her away with a strange glint in his eye. Hermione tries to recall their previous conversation, but all she can think of is how bizarre that fight was, how unusual Malfoy seemed in those few seconds, and Astoria Greengrass’ sad and lonely face when she had taken her engagement ring back.
Around the back, behind the bleating speakers, Ron turns Hermione around to face him. He’s blushing, and Hermione is instantly suspicious. Before she can ask what’s up though, Ron blurts, “I think we should s-stop.”
Hermione raises her eyebrows, trying to remain cool, but understanding almost instantly. It’s probably not what she thinks it is though. He’s probably talking about … about … Her hands start to shake, though her voice remains expressionless when she asks, “Stop what?”
“This. Us.” His voice is no more than a breath in the thumping of the dance floor, but Hermione hears him clearly enough.
“Ron—I—Why?” That’s all she can think. Why is he doing this? This is supposed to be the night of her life. A fun night. Full of her final freedom. Why?
“Because you’re going to college, and I don’t … ‘Mione, I can’t do it,” he breathes. Hermione narrows her eyes at the use of the unfamiliar nickname. “Just leave me on this, okay?”
The tears are welling, but she prides herself by not letting them fall. “Okay,” she agrees, though still not quite sure what, exactly, she’s agreeing to. “Okay.”
She thinks, You’re being so selfish. She thinks, Why won’t you kiss me? She thinks, I’m loosing my mind.
He smiles apologetically and Hermione instantly feels like pulling out her wand and setting his heart on fire. See how he likes it.
“I’m leaving now,” he’s saying before she can get her breath back.
He turns around and takes the dance floor in a jog. Then he turns and runs back.
“Forget something?” Hermione manages to choke.
“Yeah,” he says, and leans forward and kisses her—short and sweet. A casual, friendly, goodbye kiss. The kind he had always been afraid of.
After he’s gone, Hermione sits down on one of the lonely chairs to the side of the club. She stays there for a long time, fully aware that these chairs are usually reserved for the desperate and dateless. She stays there, feeling his kiss on her lips, trying not to cry, trying to be still, just trying to be. It’s hard, being. Hard not to pit yourself against yourself, hard not measure, compare and rank yourself against everyone. It’ll take practise, and Hermione’s not sure if it’ll ever work. Then she remembers Astoria Greengrass’ face, the raw desire and sadness her blue gaze reflected. She remembers the innocence that Ginny held earlier that afternoon and Harry’s words to her at their Hogwarts graduation. “A new beginning…”
She hadn’t cried once. Not when her parents had said goodbye, not when the war had been won, not when Ginny had told her about her fear of Harry and her leaving for college, and not when Ron had left her. But sitting there, trying to be, something inside her cracks. She can’t stand it, can’t stand what other people may think or expect of her. The tears gush, streaming down her cheeks and dripping off her nose, and suddenly her vision is gone.
She buries her head in her hands as if to regain herself, but she only cries harder, her body convulsing heavily. And suddenly, just like they had started, she feels a presence beside her, and the warm contact of another human’s touch rubbing her back. It takes her breath away. She can’t stop crying.
As the hand continues its small circles, the soothing gesture calms her somewhat. Her first thought is that it might be Ron, but she had seen him leave long ago. Then Ginny passes her mind, but the hand is too big to be her best friend’s—and besides, wouldn’t Harry have been here too? She thinks of all her friends, but this person isn’t speaking. Anyone else would be asking what’s wrong, just asking if she’s okay. This person—boy, by the heaviness of the hand—is just rubbing her back.
And for some reason, she realises that’s the perfect thing to calm her.
She starts to sob herself into hiccups, but she never once looks up. Then, unexpectedly, another hand is on her shoulder, wrapping her up into a hug, and the person—a girl—is saying, “Draco, go find Potter or the Weasley chick.”
“What?!” came a sharp tone to Hermione’s right. Her tears have suddenly slowed in her confusion, and she can feel herself blushing. Draco Malfoy?! She holds back a regretful groan—she should’ve looked at the ‘comforter’ long ago. How long had it been? Long enough for him to write obscene messages on her back with his wand? “Fine.”
The hand leaves her back and she immediately feels the cold overtake her as he departs. All of a sudden she desperately wants him back, looking up and watching his blonde hair disappear into the crowd. It’s too cold here without him, too lonely on one side. God, it is so strange, this rapid feeling … She wants to cry thank you, but her tears have remerged in her desperateness for his soothing presence.
This is so stupid, she thinks. Astoria’s arm is still around her, and everything in her is screaming to run away from this embarrassment. But for some reason it just seems so wrongly right. She wants to stay, she wants this attention. In these moments with the little Slytherin pureblood going against everything she has ever believed, Hermione can finally congratulate herself in just being. Here the two girls sit, not judging, just doing the right thing for one another.
But before she can think of this, the thought of Ron creeps its way back into her mind, and Hermione turns, burying her face into the curve of Astoria’s neck. God, I’m emotional tonight. Maybe … She can smell the beautiful floral scent of Astoria’s hair, and listens to her whisper in her ear, “It’ll be okay. Let me help you for a little longer … You helped me, now I’m helping you … Just cry, you’ll feel better … Sometimes it’s okay to cry, you know?”
Not once was Hermione’s name mentioned, and she wondered if Astoria was too afraid to say it; if it was too familiar a ground.
Astoria babbles on for a while longer, until a hand grabs Hermione’s, pulling her up roughly and taking her away from the young blonde witch. Then Ginny’s voice snaps, “I can’t believe what I just saw.”
Her harsh tone makes Hermione want to run back to Astoria’s soothing whispers, but she finds herself accepting it, smiling to herself and turning to look back at her strange little comforter. She sees Draco sitting down beside her, and something he says makes her laugh. And then a saying crosses Hermione’s mind, from a Muggle band her mother listens too. Song lyrics Hermione had always found so stupid and mind numbing, yet here they are, suddenly making so much sense.
We’re all one. We all have the same stars above, the same God, the same Heaven. Your moon is my moon and the world will continue to turn no matter where we are, what we are, or who we are.
And the music will continue to pound …
I am in absolute gratitude to my gorgeous Rosette (xlivexlovexdreamx @ the Dark Arts) for her amazing graphics. My stories would be nowhere without her. I love you, darling.
Authors Note:: Before I say anything, dear readers, thank you SO much for reading this far!! Really, I absolutely love it, and I am SO grateful. You’re all so wonderful, and I mean this. Thank you, thank you, thank you (:
Okay, so no, this is not a one-shot, though it may seem that way. This story actually has about twenty/thirty chapters to it. There will be a wait for those chapters though, as I’m also focusing on the Passion series and Not One, Not Ever, but I hope you’ll keep looking for updates!
As I stated before, this is dedicated to my Lynn. Please review—I promise you’ll get a response as soon as possible. I’ve never written a Harry/OC before, and trust me IT’S HARD. The Dramione is a lot easier though (as most know, I’m an avid Dramione fan xP). And YES, THERE IS A HEAP OF IT.
Any questions on my writing, please feel free to go to my Meet the Author (:
I hope you enjoy, and as I said, please review!
—rozen_maiden (Mahalia on the forums)
P.S. Credit should definitely be passed around to my favourite authors here. MementoMori, for teaching me the pure beauty of love through words (Memento Mori. If you haven’t read it … You’re missing out on a LOT (: ), cedrixfan, for showing me Draco is actually worthy of love (Slytherin Song is just … Something you have to read. And no, I’m not joking. It’s the best fan fiction I’ve ever read. Trust me on this [I’m a picky person]), and uptowngirlinlove, my darling Roe, the proof that perfection can be achieved (her story When Luna met Rolf is really something you really don’t want to pass by). Love you all
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