Chapter 1 : Away
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Hermione woke up in the bed she shared with Ron, his arm was around her body and even though it might have been seen as the most casual thing it made Hermione want to throw up.
It was so far away from the life she wanted. Slowly she pushed his arm off her and felt as if she could breathe a bit easier. She crawled out of the bed and quickly put on some clothes before she walked down the stairs to the small kitchen where she poured herself a glass of water, she drained it in one sip and then refilled it.
Slowly she started to walk around in the relatively small house in which her and Ron lived, she looked at all the photos of them together, of their friends and family, she traced her fingers over the books on the bookshelf and then she sighed.
She felt that cold, unpleasant feeling in her stomach that she usually felt when she thought about her life.
After Hogwarts she planned to get a job at the ministry and work with the things she liked, but she had let herself go with Harry, Ron and Ginny on a vacation and since then everything they did seemed like a vacation. Hermione shook her head sadly; she wanted to do something more with her life than just be Ron's girlfriend. She stared down at her left hand and corrected herself; Fiancée.
They had gotten engaged one year ago and she regretted it everyday.
The truth was that Hermione Granger regretted everything she had done for the last four years.
She was living in the wrong place, she was saying yes when she should be saying no... And she knew why this all had started.
It was because she had chosen the wrong path in the beginning. She had been given a choice right after graduating Hogwarts and she had taken the path that felt more secure – she had regretted it ever second since. Her thoughts were interrupted when the owl flew in with the Daily Prophet attached to it.
With a sigh, Hermione walked to stand by the kitchen table as she read through the articles in the paper.
She heard the faint steps down the stair that showed that Ron had woken up.
“Morning, babe,” He said as he walked to stand behind her and put his hands around her waist and kissed her neck.
“Morning,” replied Hermione half-heartedly as she continued to let her eyes move over the text in the paper. Then she let them rest on one article and a small gasp escaped her lips and the glass slipped out of her grip and crashed to the floor. The continents spilled all over her feet but she didn't care.
Draco Malfoy Breaks Off Engagement with Astoria Greengrass
“What the hell are you doing?” said Ron as he took his hands of her and waved his wand over the scattered pieces of glass on the floor; they vanished.
“Nothing,” mumbled Hermione back. “I'm sorry,” Without a second glance at her fiancé she walked out of the house.
When Hermione had been younger it had always been a good thing for her to go for walks when she needed to think but that didn't work for her this time. She believed that Ron was confused over her behaviour but she paid it very little mind. Hermione had no idea for how long she had been walking, but her legs ached, and her back hurt.
Draco was not engaged any more.
She closed her eyes as she repeated in her head 'it makes no difference'. She had chosen Ron over him, four years ago. That had been her biggest mistake. Her legs gave in and she sunk down by a tree in the shadows as she buried her head in her hands and felt her engagement ring against her face.
Without thinking she pulled it off and threw it far in to the forest and let out a cry. If Draco could get out of an engagement, then why wouldn't she be able to?
She cared for Ron, she didn't want to do anything that could hurt him but the truth was that she had never been able to love him as she had loved, still loved Draco.
What she needed to do was suddenly clear to her. Whatever happened after that was not relevant. With a lot of effort, she stood and walked back to the house she shared with the red haired wizard.
Ron was still up waiting for her as she came home, he rushed up to her the same moment he heard her by the front door.
“Where have you been?” he said with an exhausted, still furious, voice and strode over to her. His eyes scanned her while he demanded answers, “Do you have any idea how worried I have been?”
“I needed to think,” Hermione replied and knew that it could be seen in her face that she had been crying, “We need to talk.”
“About what?” He said emotionless as if he knew what she was about to say, as if he was preparing himself for it, “About what you read in the Prophet? About Malfoy?”
As she had expected; he was hurt, and furious about the fact that she still had feelings for Draco. He must have noticed it, she thought, he just must have felt it. Right?
“About us, Ron,” she said with a small voice and prayed that he would feel the same way she did.
“What about us?”
“This isn't working. Can't you feel it, can't you feel that its wrong?” She pleaded for him to understand what she meant, but he stared at her with ice cold eyes and then he turned around and spoke as he walked away.
“I want you out of this house,” he took another step away from her, but stopped briefly at the sound of her voice, a part of him hoping that she would have changed her mind about the whole thing, but her voice suggested nothing of that.
“Ron...” How could he not feel it?
“Now,” he said sternly as he continued to walk. He couldn't believe it, for years he had known about Hermione's feelings. He had chosen to ignore that, because after all - she had chosen him. But now, - now she was leaving him. Because of Draco bloody Malfoy. No one had ever hurt him the way she just had and he couldn't look at her. He couldn't be in the same room, hell, even the same house as her. Even as he walked away from her, he couldn't keep his tears away.
He loved her more than anything, but there was nothing he could do to make her stay, and he knew that.
She had already taken her engagement ring off. Tears rolled down his cheeks, and he heard Hermione take a deep breath behind him. He love her, but he hated her for leaving him because of someone like Draco.
She looked at his back, which was shaking slightly. Was he really crying? She closed her eyes briefly before she went upstairs. Hermione couldn't believe that it had come to this, that she was actually leaving. She knew that she should be more upset about it, perhaps it would come later, but for the moment she just felt free. Finally.
She packed the most important stuff, glanced around in their bedroom one last time; felt relieved, and then she turned and walked down again.
“Ron..” She started as she saw Ron standing there looking at her with a guilty stare.
“Get out,” He snarled and pointed at the door. She looked at him pleadingly but he roared at her to get out again, and she hung her head as she walked out of the home that they had shared for so long.
But she didn't feel sad, just a little empty. Empty because she didn't know what she would have left, if she would have anything at all.
What would her friends say? And the media, oh Merlin, what would the media say when they found out?
But despite her worry, she knew that she had made the right decision and whatever happened next, well... She didn't care. She just wanted a change.
Hermione walked along the cold, dark streets, only lit up by the cars that passed now and then until she reached her destination; a hotel. Not a Muggle hotel, though.
She smiled as she checked herself in. The person behind the desk looked at her, fully aware of who she was. Hermione Granger, friend of the hero Harry Potter. That was who she was to the world, Harry Potters friend. Never did she get to be recognized for anything other than that, despite the fact that they had once called her the brightest witch of their age, now she was just his friend. And Ron Weasley's fiancée.
But no more, she thought, from now on I am my own person.
Within a week there wasn't a witch or wizard in England who didn't know that Hermione Granger had called off her engagement, everyone tried to contact her for a statement but she avoided the media as much as she could.
Ginny and Harry had called her and she had told them briefly about the break up and told them that she needed some time alone to figure out what she wanted to do in life.
Everyday she walked to a small, old pub which weren't far from the hotel, she went there because she hoped that some day he would be there. It had once been his favourite place to come to calm down and have a drink, or two. It had also been the place where they had first met outside school. But so far, he hadn't been there.
She thought back to their first friendly conversation, which had taken place in the very same bar she was sitting in...
She had stumbled in there while looking for a place to get away from reality, she could clearly remember it, she had been wearing a pair of dark blue jeans and a white shirt, her hair had been pulled back in a messy bun, and her make up had been a bit heavier than she would have usually made it. She had ordered a glass of Firewhiskey, for it had been the strongest she could think of. Her brown eyes had searched the room, to take in her surroundings, perhaps. The smoke filled room made it hard to see people all too clearly, but she had been able to see him, and him her. Though she had quickly turned her head in attempt of pretending not to see him.
It had only worked for so long. As she had turned her head to the side, she had found herself staring in to a pair of steely grey eyes, which had locked themselves on hers.
“Fancy seeing you here, Granger,” had the blonde wizard said, as he sat down next to her, and that had been the beginning of their conversation, the beginning of their relationship.
“The usual?” asked the man behind the bar, making her snap out of her thoughts, and poured fire whiskey in a small glass before Hermione even had a chance to answer him, she thanked him and put the glass to her mouth. But she didn't drink it, instead she put the glass back down and couldn't help but to laugh at herself.
She, Hermione Jean Granger, sat in a dirty old bar and thought that he would be there – Why would he? She paid for the drink and turned to leave when her eyes caught sight of something by the table furthest in the room, she caught a sight of blonde hair. Hermione couldn't see if it was actually him, just because the man was blonde didn't mean... In all honesty, there were thousands of men with blonde hair, why would that particular blonde be there?
“Is that Draco Malfoy by that table?” She asked the bartender and he nodded slowly.
“He has had a bit too much to drink, though. He refuses to give me a name of someone to contact, someone who can take him home safely, I don't think it's safe for him to Apparate home himself. You know him?”
“I used to,” Hermione answered sadly and started to make her way over to the corner where he sat, the man that she had wanted to see for so many years. It wasn't really the way she had planned to meet him, seeing that he was completely wasted; but it would do.
She stopped right in front of him and looked at him, he didn't seem to notice that she was even there and she felt how her heart sped up as she took in his features, sure he still looked like him but he was more mature; and even though he looked a bit worse for the wear as he sat there with a whiskey glass in his hand, he could still be called breathtakingly beautiful.
He swirled the continents around in the glass and looked at it as if he had never seen anything more interesting, then he poured it down his throat and raised his eyes to look at her.
“Well, well, well...” he drawled as his eyes traces her face, “Look who decided to stop by.”
“Hello, Draco,” Hermione greeted, ignoring his tone and looked warily at him as he retrieved a bottle of whiskey from the inner pocket of his jacket, “I think you've had enough to drink now...”
“Why don't you go think that somewhere else, hm?” he suggested as he poured himself another drink, “And leave me alone.”
“I'm serious,” She said and reached for the bottle, but he still had his Seeker reflexes and in a quick move he had the bottle far away from her reach.
“Why don't you just stay away?” He gritted out through clenched teeth before he took a sip straight out the bottle, “You've done it for four years, one more night wouldn't really make a difference, would it?”
He spoke with a clear anger and when it became clear to him that she wasn't leaving, he decided to do it himself. Hermione watched as he slowly stood up on unsteady legs, he couldn't walk straight but he was determined to get out of the pub to avoid her.
She was glad that the pub was close to empty, that meant that almost no one would look at them and that this incident wouldn't be in Witch Weekly or even the Daily Prophet tomorrow.
What was I thinking? She asked herself as she walked behind him, making sure that he wouldn't fall as he stumbled his way out of there.
When outside he once again took a sip of the bottle, the last sip, before he threw it against a wall and the sound of shattered glass met Hermione's ears. He slowly made his way towards the road, to make his way home or to another bar; she didn't know.
“Draco!” Hermione called his name and he actually stopped at the sound of it, she ran up to him and made him look at her. His eyes could barely focus on hers. “Where are you going?”
He answered by giving her a shrug. It hurt her to see him in the state he was in, not only did he look drunk, he looked destroyed, broken and hurt. She hung his arm around her shoulder.
“You can sleep in my hotel room for tonight, I can't leave you alone in this state,” even though he was much bigger than her, she helped him stand up straight.
“I don't need your help,” he sounded like a stubborn child as he spoke, but he followed her none the less, while leaning at her for support to stand up.
“Of course you don't,” she sighed but still helped him.
They reached their destination rather quickly, seeing as the hotel was just around the corner and Draco stumbled inside and Hermione helped him towards the bed where she sat him down, he ran his fingers through his hair before he looked at her, the fresh air had sobered him up just a little bit.
“You should eat something,” When he objected she sighed, “At least drink some water?”
“Fine,” he muttered and threw himself down on the bed as she walked in to the bathroom and summoned a glass which she filled with ice cold water before walking back and she handed him the water.
“You don't need to throw up, do you?” She asked gently but she didn't receive an answer, instead she leaned over him to pull the covers over him so that he wouldn't be cold. He did seem to have sobered up a bit, though, even though he didn't answer her.
She smiled slightly as she thought about the fact that a week ago she would have been lying in bed with Ron and listened to his damned snoring, and now she was tucking in a drunk Draco.
Hermione knew that she probably shouldn't be sleeping in the bed that night, so she sat down on a chair by the window and looked outside at the snow that were slowly falling.
“Why did you do it?” Draco asked in a mumble from behind her, “Why didn't you pick me?”
“We'll talk about it tomorrow, Draco. You should sleep for now...”
She couldn't stop the tears from falling down her cheeks as she answered him. Oh, how it hurt to hear him ask that, how many times hadn't she asked herself the exact same questions?
“Hermione...” It was the first time he had said her name in four years and her heart skipped a beat at the sound of it, “Come to bed. You can't sleep in the chair.”
For a drunk man he was still able to think somewhat clear, she thought, as she did what he said with a sigh. She laid down on the left side of the bed and the thought that she was sharing a bed with Draco made her smile a bit, even though she knew that it was probably just because he was drunk and he didn't want her to sleep on a chair. They were still in the same bed, and that was enough to keep the smile on her face.
She thought back to the time when they had been together, it hadn't been too long, a year more or less, still it had been the happiest time of her life. They had both been broken, damaged after the war, and they had found comfort in each other, one being what the other one needed. Draco had tried his very best to change, he had given up on his beliefs, he had turned his back on his family and Lucius had been close to disinherit Draco for being with her, but he hadn't cared.
At least, that had been what he had told her, but she hadn't been sure what to believe, a part of her had still been doubting him. A part of her had refused to believe that people could change, and she had been stupid enough to turn her back on him when given the choice, so it had really been her who wouldn't go all the way. She had been a coward.
When given the chance, she had fled. To Ron, to the safety he had provided, he would never leave her, and she knew him. She knew him better than he knew himself, and she knew he would never break her heart. So, she had engaged in a loveless relationship, at least from her point of view.
Her heart had never let go of Draco.
She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye and rolled over, so that she was facing him.
They had both fallen asleep sometime after that and it was Draco's voice that woke Hermione up in the morning.
“Why didn't you pick me?” He mumbled as he looked at her, it was as if he had never seen her before. She turned to face him again and looked at his messy hair which framed his face, his breath was warm but still smelled way to much of alcohol, but he looked like he had always done; he was just as pale as before, his face was still rather pointed, his hair was just as blonde and his lips were just as inviting. She was rather surprised that he was still there, she thought that he would have left the room first thing when he woke up.
“You're still drunk, we should take this when you're sober,” Hermione said softly, to which he raised an eyebrow.
“I'm not drunk. I want to talk now,” was his reply and she knew she would have to talk. He wasn't going to let it go, no matter how drunk or how sober he was.
She turned to face the ceiling and then she started talking, pretending that he wasn't there so that she wouldn't start to cry in the middle of her speech.
“I wanted to pick you, but I was afraid. I was afraid that you would get bored with me after a while and leave me, something I knew Ron would never do, so I... I took the safe way. I was afraid that you didn't love me like I loved you and by the time I realized that you did, then it was too late.
"Don't think I haven't regretted it. I've been forced to live every day with the regret, I've lived a life I never wanted. Because I was too afraid to follow my heart... I love you, and not Ron. I only chose him because I... I'm not going to come with stupid excuses, I chose him because I was a coward. It's the biggest mistake I've ever made. There hasn't been a day these past four years that I haven't thought about you,” her tears fell, one by one down her cheeks, as his hand took a gentle hold of her chin to make her look at him and she couldn't hold it together any more, she let out a heartbreaking sob which made Draco pull her in to his arms, it didn't matter how angry or disappointed he had once been with her, he couldn't stand hearing her cry like that.
“I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...” She whispered in his arms and he nodded.
“Can you ever forgive me?”
The silence that followed her sentence scared her and made her sobs subside before she looked up at his face.
Draco looked torn between what he wanted to say and what was the right thing to say but then he took a deep breath and nodded.
“Yeah... I can. I think I already have forgiven you sometime during these four years, it just that seeing you again, it brought back all those feelings which I've just gotten over. The hurt and confusion, you see, I never understood why you left me, and I should be furious with you, I should hate you,” he closed his eyes for a brief second, “However, I don't... Though, it will take a long time for me to be able to trust you again,”
“Are you willing to give us that time?” Hermione felt her heart beat against her ribcage as she waited for his answer.
“I would lie if I said no,” Draco smiled a bit as he saw how happy Hermione was to hear that, happy and relieved, “And I don't want you to stay away any more.”
“I won't,” she promised and fell in to his embrace again, and whispered, “I pick you now.”
[My first one-shot on this site, I hope you'll like it and please, do review! Also, I would like to thank the people who nominated 'Above the Clouds' for the Dobby awards, (: and also, for nominating me for 'Best New Author', thanks! Even though I don't think I have the slightest chance in winning, I'm really glad to get a nomination (:
So, what did you think of this little one-shot? It was just something I've had in my head for a while and wanted to get out and it's also my first try on a third person pov! How did I do? Am I any good at third person POV's? Anywho, I hope you liked it. Thanks, - Cathyyy -]