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Chapter 10 : The Unspoken Truth
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Our Dearest Hermione,
We are so happy to announce the birth of your little brother, Collin M. Granger into our family! Your mother, as you know, went into labor last night, and we wrote as soon as we were able to find some free time. He is just darling, Hermione! We simply are ecstatic for you to meet him after your exams are over. We can’t wait to have you here for the holidays.
All our love,
I read the letter at breakfast with an ear-to-ear smile plastered across my face. I had received the post just a few minutes after breakfast had begun, and I had known in advanced what the letter was about. I had ripped open in haste to find a picture of my little brother bundled up in light blue hospital blankets. I was so eager to meet him that I was practically jumping from my seat all morning.
There was something about the winter that had always made me happy. The Great Hall had been decorated to suit the changing season; beautiful snowflakes fell from the ebony sky above us, giving the entire hall a cheerful ambiance. This combined with the arrival of my little brother was making me smile constantly. I felt so elated that I thought I was going to float away.
“He is adorable, Hermione,” Harry said sincerely when I showed him the picture. He had been trying to be my friend ever since our argument in the hall, and so far, it was going okay with the two of us. I smiled at him as he looked at the picture.
Ron took the picture after Harry and stared at it for a few moments, allowing a small smile to spread across his face. “These are so bizarre…these Muggle photographs,” he said suddenly, and I laughed in response.
“They are all like that, Ronald,” I responded.
“I know, I know, but it doesn’t make them any less strange,” he said, looking at me briefly. It was one difference I had noticed about Ron in these past few days after the confrontation. He barely looked at me. I felt like it was too much for him to do so, and it broke my heart that he felt that way. I pushed the bad thought out of my head and instead focused on the fact that we were all talking again- that everything was out in the open.
I folded my arms and leaned against the table, my plates still full in front of me; I had gotten so distracted by the morning delivery that I had forgotten to eat. I picked up a piece of toast and nibbled on it as Ron handed the picture back to me. I glanced at it once more as I chewed before sliding it carefully into the envelope and tucking it into my cloak.
I thought about how near the holiday break was, and then about what Draco would be doing over the holidays. With every new day, Draco seemed to be slipping deeper into a sadness that I would never fully understand. He was trying to hide it from me, I could tell, and I knew he knew that I could read him all the same. I wanted to show him that I was there for him, and I also wanted him to know that he could enjoy his time off from school. I knew that he didn’t want to spend time with his father, a Death Eater. Suddenly, as I took another piece of buttered toast in my hand, I decided that Draco would be spending break with my family and me. Anything was better than being surrounded by a constant reminder of what he was being forced into, right?
Every day since Draco and I had gone public – it had been almost a month now-, he would come to greet me at the end of breakfast. It was somewhat of a tradition now; before the crowds formed, Draco would get up out of his seat and walk confidently over to me. We had gotten many strange glances as he would place his hands on my shoulders and break into morning flirtations with me, especially from Harry, Ron, and the rest of the Gryffindor table. I was pretty sure that some of the professors had stared at us strangely as well.
Sometimes, I could see him get up in the distance, his flashy white-blond hair popping out from the warm background he walked in. Other times, I was enthralled deep in conversation, but my friends would inadvertently tell me he was coming by the intense change of expression that would evolve on their faces. Lately, Harry and Ron hadn’t seemed very phased by his arrival, and they would even undergo short conversations, for my sake at least. Often, Draco would hold off from the public display of affection, I had even told him to do so, but recently, he had started to kiss me on the cheek when he arrived. I figured that I would let everyone adjust before doing anything wild.
This morning, I had been distracted, lost track of time, and didn’t know he was coming.
“Good morning,” he said to me suddenly from behind, placing his hands on my arms.
I turned to him and greeted him with a wide smile, “Good morning.”
He leaned into me, and I expected him to kiss my cheek like he had done every day this week, but instead, he kissed me slowly on the lips. My cheeks fired up, and I could tell that they were turning red. When he drew away, I knew he was expecting some sort of negative reaction, and his eyes were wide, wondering if he had done it too soon. Although I felt a little embarrassed, it couldn’t have been a more perfect time. I smiled at him again, making sure he knew it was fine. I broke the silence before it got too awkward at the table.
“Look,” I said happily, a grin plastered across my face. I pulled the letter from my cloak, found the picture, and handed it to him. After he took it from me, I saw his smile rise and fall. I slid out of the bench carefully and waved goodbye to Harry, Ron, and the rest of the table and told them that I would see them in a few minutes when we got to Charms.
Draco’s expression had frightened me. He wasn’t frowning, his lips were pulled into a tight line; he looked solemn and serious. I didn’t know why he looked so reluctant and so un-congratulatory about my new little brother. I wanted to pester him further about his strange behavior, but I was interrupted by Professor McGonagall. I turned my head with the rest of the curious onlookers in the Great Hall towards the place where she stood.
“Good morning everyone. I wanted to have a quick word with you before your first classes today. In wake of the upcoming Holiday, I want to wish everyone a lovely break. However, as most of you know, following the death of the beloved Albus Dumbledore, the Dark Lord has continued to rise. These are difficult times for all of us, and I just would like to stress that each and every one of you should remain cautious and aware of your surroundings. This goes for within the walls of Hogwarts as well,” she said, scanning the crowd over her spectacles.
I heard many gasps around me as McGonagall implied that Dark magic had actually infiltrated Hogwarts. My eyes drifted to Draco, who was staring at the headmistress with a hard expression; he seemed immobilized on the spot. My mind started to fill with questions about what Draco and I both knew was going on in his life. Was he the dark magic that could potentially be within Hogwarts as we spoke? I shook my head and began to push the thoughts away. As McGonagall finished her speech, I gathered my books and homework for our first class in my hands and began to walk towards the exit with him slowly.
“Draco? What’s wrong?” I asked worriedly. Whenever I had seen that look on Draco in the past, I had been pushed away by him shortly after. I tried to come up with some kind of reasoning, and that maybe there were things that he was still not telling me.
“Is this your little brother?” he asked me quietly, gazing at the picture in his hand.
“Yes,” I responded, surprised that he had ignored my question.
“What’s his name?” he asked me distantly.
“Collin,” I answered robotically, being very careful not to disturb his deep thought. Suddenly, he looked up at me with a relaxed expression and smiled at me.
“Congratulations, Hermione, that is so wonderful,” he handed the picture back to me and swung his arm around my hip, pulling me close to him.
I paused for a while before answering him, wondering if that weird phase had been brought on by the headmistress’ speech. I decided that it wasn’t worth pestering him about.
“Thanks,” I returned quietly, bracing myself for some sort of explanation. We walked in silence for a few moments, and when he failed to respond to me, I wanted nothing more than to change the subject. He tightened his grip around my waist, as if trying to protect me, as the halls slowly filled up with students trying to get to their first class.
“Hey Draco?” I asked carefully.
“Yes?” he responded, looking at me while raising his eyebrows.
“I was wondering what you were doing over the holiday vacation,” I said slowly, breaking eye contact with him.
“Well, I don’t know to be honest,” he responded to me, a little surprised by my comment, “why do you ask?”
“Well, I thought it would be nice for you to spend Christmas at my house,” I said a little reluctantly, still not looking at him. I could tell that he was looking at me for a while, trying to process my suggestion. He didn’t answer me for a long time. When he released his hand from around my waist and distanced himself from me a little, my entire body went cold.
“What’s wrong?” I asked with a shaky voice. I was freaking out now. He paused for a few moments before responding to me.
“How do you know?” he asked quietly.
I furrowed my eyebrows at him, completely confused. “How do I know what?”
He took a deep breath. “How do you know…that you should take me?”
“I just know,” I said after considering what he had asked me. This wasn’t what I was asking for. I had feared that making our relationship more than it currently was would drive him away. I felt like he was pulling away from me, closing himself off, keeping me out of his life. It scared me so much.
“You just know,” he said, repeating my statement condescendingly.
“It’s just a feeling…and I thought it could be fun,” I explained, trying to sound indifferent to his tensed posture and borderline cruel attitude.
We had continued to walk throughout the halls while talking, but now he stopped and turned to face me. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then he looked around. He grabbed my arm and pulled me towards the side of the corridor.
“How could that possibly be fun?” he asked me suddenly.
I was taken aback now, completely confused and wide-eyed. “Draco, what is going through your head right now? Why are you-?”
“Hermione, don’t you remember what happened before we got on the train to Hogwarts?”
I looked at him, searched his pained face while trying to think back to our interactions on that day. I had been distracted by my recent reunion with Ron, and my mom was taking me in to the train station to see me off. I remembered Draco making out annoyingly with Pansy. Although I couldn’t remember any specific interactions offhand, I did remember being extremely frustrated with him.
“I don’t…” I said, shaking my head and trailing off. He sighed at me, letting go of my arm after all this time.
“We have to go to class. Think about it. And then you will understand,” he said. Then he gave me a quick kiss on the forehead, turned around and walked away, leaving me to walk to our Charms class all by myself.
I was panicking as I walked to class, my pace increasing when I noticed how much the corridors had thinned out since I last looked up. My mind raced with possibilities and anger that I couldn’t remember what he had done that would make him so against taking it to the next level with me. I just wanted him to have a nice holiday, and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. Plus, the sooner my parents met him, the better.
I kept my head down as I glided into my seat beside Draco; we sat in most of our classes together since declaring our relationship. We were positioned differently than usual; the majority of the time, we would sit close so that our arms would touch. Now, Draco and I were sitting more than a foot apart. I was distracted by my own lack of memory as class started. Flitwick began the class by collecting our assignments with a wave of his wand. He then went on to begin the lesson.
I thought about what had happened, and the strongest memory I had of the two of us was the argument on the train. He had provoked Ron, Harry and I. I had gotten so close to him because he had insulted me and my mum, yet I didn’t think that would make him so against going to my house. I thought about the events before that, how my mom had been with us. She had seen Draco. My heart sped up as my mind slowly remembered. He had insulted me in front of her. Merlin, he had insulted her in front of her. He had then proceeded to make out with Pansy Parkinson in front of both of us.
Suddenly, I remembered what my mom had said to me. Promise me you will stay away from that boy. I wanted to sob in frustration right upon realizing that I had promised her I would. I had told her that I wouldn’t go anywhere near him, and I had done exactly the opposite. Draco didn’t want to come with me because he knew what impression he had made on my mum before we decided to stop hating each other.
My face fell, my body filling with hopelessness. I knew this would be a huge step for us, but I never imagined it would be so difficult to get him to agree to go. He hadn’t exactly made a great first impression on my mother.
I realized that Draco was watching me, and judging by the look on my face, he knew that I had figured it out.
“Draco, this doesn’t have to stop us from going,” I whispered to him.
“Your mother probably despises me,” he scoffed matter-of-factly.
“She probably won’t even remember you,” I declared, half lying.
“Ha. You are the worst liar ever. Of course she will remember the kid that insulted her daughter,” he said, his voice turning bitter.
“Excuse me, Miss Granger and Mr. Malfoy, not right now please,” Flitwick said, interrupting our conversation. The two of us had no choice but to remain silent for the rest of class. I sat there the entire time thinking about how I was going to mend the situation at hand.
As soon as Flitwick dismissed us and we were out the door, I started on him again.
“Draco, please! Don’t let that change things,” I pleaded him
“How can it not change things, Hermione? It changes everything. If your parents don’t approve of us, it will never work,” he said, walking beside me but looking detached and frustrated.
“I’ll talk to her or something. Please just be willing to try,” I returned.
“There is just no way…” he drifted off, looking at me with wide eyes, his shoulders shrugging.
“How do you know that?!” I countered, so upset that it was coming to this.
“The same way you ‘just knew’ that I should meet your family,” he responded quickly, “Can’t you remember who I was to you before…this? Can’t you recall what I am becoming?” he asked me, almost having to force the words out.
“Of course I do,” I responded quietly, remembering all of the intense hurt and tears.
“So it’s settled then,” he said.
“Give it a chance, Draco, please!” I begged, sounding more hopeless than ever. He wouldn’t look at me. “You even said it yourself! If our parents don’t approve of us, it can’t possibly work! So you are just going to stand there and not do anything about it?”
He sighed deeply and looked over at me; something in his face changed a little. “Come here...” he said quietly. He wrapped his arm loosely around my neck and pulled me close to him. “How are you planning on pulling this off?” he asked me quietly. I started to feel better, I could tell that he was starting to accept my pleas.
“I don’t know yet, Draco. But I will. And you will come with me right?” I asked, more confident now.
He sighed again, a crooked smile spreading on his face. “I hate you so much sometimes, you know that?” he mused.
I smiled back, unable to ignore the irony of his statement. “I hate you, too.”
And then he stopped walking in order to spin me to face him and plant a soft kiss on my lips. When we parted, I continued to be stubborn. I questioned him as he played mindlessly with the curls surrounding my face.
“You never answered my question,” I said to him with a smile.
“I guess I can come with you,” he said with a sigh. I squeezed his hand in response despite his obvious ambivalence.
“Good,” I said, a grin spreading across my face. I was happy that he was willing to get away from the negative bits of his life for a little while. I knew that it would be better if he spent some time with people who would accept him, that was, hopefully sooner rather than later.
We walked quietly throughout the halls on our way to Defense Against the Dark Arts class, and I thought about how ironic it was that I was pretty much learning to defend myself against Draco. Over the last few weeks, there were times when something instinctive inside me wanted to push Draco away. Even when I didn’t want it to, fear would creep into my thoughts. More often then not I would lay awake in the dead of night wondering what would happen to everyone in my life. I would do my best to swallow the fright when he was around, especially because I knew he loved me. I wanted to trust him, and I wanted him to be able to trust me, yet somehow I always found myself expecting the worst. The last thing I wanted to do was turn my back on the people I loved, and I felt like I was doing just that. The conflicting thoughts I had were keeping me up at night more and more as the weeks went on.
I didn’t know what to expect from Draco coming over to my parent’s house, and as I watched him with weary eyes, I decided that it was partially because I needed them to accept our relationship. I felt like nobody approved of us, and I just wanted someone to be able to feel that we were meant for one another, and that we weren’t the only two that felt it so strongly.
We walked into Raglow’s classroom a little behind everyone else, and we naturally separated a little as we entered the doorway. Raglow looked up at us and immediately narrowed her eyes.
“How nice of you to join us. Please sit down,” she said harshly, even though we weren’t even late. I shuffled to my seat, embarrassed, as she began the class. I wasn’t sure why I felt so strange about her, but over the years I was sure that I had learned to not to trust any Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers; all of them had tried to hurt Harry at some point. I was surprised that he still was eager to come to the class in spite of all that he had been through.
During class, I felt Draco slip his hand into mine in a silent form of affection. I didn’t even have to look at him to gain any other form of sincerity from him; I knew that through his touch, he was expressing many things to me. As I felt his grip tighten around my hand, I couldn’t help but try to swallow the persistent fear that was making my mouth go dry. I was starting to feel like being with Draco was being with a ticking time bomb; despite my best efforts, I always felt like I would never know when everything was going to backfire on me. I hated feeling any kind of doubt towards Draco, but it was hard not to. I felt like he would disappear at any second and I would never see him again.
Professor Raglow quickly attained my interest with a strike of her wand to the board behind her. “Attention, everyone!” Once the room went silent, she continued. “Considering the circumstances at hand, it is in the best interest of everyone at Hogwarts to stop learning random survival tricks and instead learn the true necessities for life in this world,” she said, scanning the classroom with her hands behind her back. “Today, we are going to talk about THE Dark Arts. And not the dark arts that you have learned about in your pathetic classes prior to your class with me. Today is the first day of several days that we will learn about the Dark Arts that can destroy us all in the blink of an eye.”
My heart was racing as the words came out of her mouth because I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of her mouth next. The room was so quiet that I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. More than anything, I wanted to know what was going through Draco’s head.
“Now,” she said, raising up her wand to the board, “lets brainstorm here. When you think of ‘Dark Arts’, what comes to mind?”
The room was silent for a few moments, and I scanned the room, almost expecting Harry to jump up and say something, but the seat next to Ron was empty. I had noticed Harry beginning to disappear randomly over the past month; sometimes he was gone for only a night and sometimes he was gone for more than two or three days. I wanted to ask him about it, but whenever he would reappear after being missing, no teachers would ever pester him about where he had been or why his work hasn’t been turned in, so I assumed it was more important than he was letting on.
“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” a Slytherin boy with raven black hair said suddenly. His friends seemed proud of him, but Raglow simply scoffed at him.
“How would you ever defend against the Dark Arts if you cannot say the name of their sole creator?” she placed her hands on her hips and shook her head at him.
“Lord Voldemort,” Draco said suddenly beside me. His eyes were narrowed and his expression was somber.
She nodded slowly at him. “Correct, Mr. Malfoy. It is nice to see that someone in this room is not afraid,” she turned and used her wand to write out the Dark Lord’s name in all capitals on the board behind her. I swallowed, realizing the paradox of Professor Raglow’s statement. The truth was, Draco was terrified of his future serving that very man. I turned back towards the professor.
“And, of course, his army,” she said, prompting us for more. My hand was becoming clammy within Draco’s firm grip.
“Death Eaters,” Draco answered again, becoming more and more saddened with every syllable he spoke. I wanted to console him, but I was becoming just as afraid as he was.
Raglow almost smiled at him. “Well Draco, since you seem to be on fire today, would you like to tell the class what the Death Eaters’ ideology is?”
Draco took a deep breath in before he spoke, and just for a fraction of a second, he made eye contact with me. From a distance, it was barely noticeable, but from where I was seated, it was all I needed to realize what he would say next. It was what we both knew, but never spoke about because just hearing it would tear us apart.
“Death Eaters are a group of pure bloods that follow Voldemort. They seek to purify the Wizarding community by eliminating those who are Muggle-born.”
Even though I knew they were coming, the words hit me with a force that left me gasping for air. When Draco slowly let go of my hand, the world stopped. Out of the corner of my eye, I could se Professor Raglow continue to praise Draco for his knowledge and turn to the board to teach her lesson, but I didn’t care. Draco and I looked over at each other simultaneously; he was weighing the expression that was slowly revealing itself on my face. I drew in a ragged breath, trying to maintain composure. The clamminess on my hand felt cold now in the open air, and I was beginning to feel horribly alone. Once the unspoken truth had been revealed, there was no denying that Draco was an enemy. We were enemies on so high level that I hadn’t even realized it. When Draco tore his eyes away from mine and back to the lesson in front of us, something ripped within me, and I realized there was no way I could have possibly felt more alone.
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