Chapter 40 : When Was The Last Time You Hugged?
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I asked him why he would even given those vile people the names of the three Slytherins. In fact, I almost pitied them before I realised they were being punished lightly for something that deserved weeks worth of detentions. Late one night last week, one of the students had lured him into what could only be described as some form of trap, where the other two stunned him and attached him to the roof by the ankle with a piece of rope. They threw his wand into the corner making it impossible for him to escape; he had remained there until early the next morning when the next class arrived; much to his own embarrassment. He had still yet to forgive them for this, although perhaps I could see why, it was neither logical nor fair to tie anyone to the roof. He did not even know why he was selected of all people, however in the process he had managed to take at least two hundred points from Slytherin and thought his revenge would be detentions, however this turned out to be more of a reward than punishment; it was every Slytherins dream being able to search everyone's mail.
Luckily, Harry and Ron had decided to wait a little longer to respond this time. However I grew steadily more worried, as I had not heard from them in weeks; not even a small note to tell me that they were alive had arrived. If this was not worrisome enough, it seemed as though the Snatchers, those who brought in blood traitors, Muggleborns and the wanted, had become more vicious, gold being their incentive to cause great harm to those they sought after before handing them into their superiors, which were clearly the Death Eaters. I had heard they were becoming increasingly aggravated that Harry and Ron continued to evade capture. They were teenagers after all and the entire Ministry and the full force of the Death Eaters was searching tirelessly for them. Even Draco had become increasingly surlier with the lead up to the holidays. He would not tell me why but I suspected it had something to do with his parents, they had been sending him letters almost everyday – I had not failed to notice this.
I had a feeling that perhaps his behaviour had something to do with me, that I in some way was connected with it. He always denied it, but I could see the pain in his eyes each time he looked at me, as though he was slowly watching me die and was already planning the funeral in his mind. I could barely meet his brilliant grey-blue eyes anymore. I could not bear to see that expression lurking beneath the surface, and it was causing me too much pain to see; I just could not take it any longer. Although clearly I thought, this was within reason, no-one needed someone they trusted and loved looking at them as though you were slowly wasting away before their eyes. Or perhaps it was the expression someone would wear if they knew that the person they were looking at had only weeks to live. It was difficult to determine the difference between these two expressions, although personally, I wish I never had to attempt to differentiate between the two.
"I've had enough of this!" I said angrily, "Tell me what's wrong and why you're looking at me like that or Merlin help me I'll do something I'll regret!"
"Is it crucial you know?" he asked gently, a look of fear in his eyes replacing the strange expression that had been sitting within them for days.
"Yes! I deserve to know why you're looking at me as though I'm dying!" I cried.
"No you don't!" he spat. "You are just being nosy!"
"I'm allowed to be nosy! I'm your girlfriend, you're supposed to tell me these things!"
"I'm not obligated to!" he cried throwing his arms into the air in frustration.
"If that's the way you see it then," I said angrily, turning my back to him, folding my arms.
"Fine," he snapped.
"Fine," I said, ensuring I had the last word, stalking down the corridor and out of his sight.
Why would he refuse to tell me what was wrong? It seemed to defy everything we ever did. It was almost as though there was an unspoken law between us that we told each other everything; however this time he seemed to be keeping something quite large from me. Of course I should probably have felt quite upset about this, but realistically my emotions were leaning more towards the angry and frustrated side of things. I could not feel entirely upset about our fight, it was too be expected some time, not everything could remain perfect between us. We were two very different people, having completely opposite upbringings. I was the girl brought up among the Muggles while he lived it up among the purebloods. There could be no two lives further away from each other than these two.
Yet at the same time I wanted to be as far away as possible from him, I wanted to be near him as though his absence had already left a large gapping hole in my heart. I felt hollow and alone, as though nothing would be able to stop this feeling of emptiness. I wanted to turn back and run into his arms, forgetting everything we had said, but I knew he needed his space, and perhaps I too needed mine. I wasn't going to cry, I had already shed too many tears this year; I refused to become a victim of my emotions once again. I could not think how Draco and I would even be able to do our duties as Head Boy and Girl should we break up, how would we come to an agreement on the theme for the ball? It just seemed too difficult and frighteningly lonely to think about. I did not want to think of the possibility of a break up; it just seemed too saddening to even think about.
I walked to the Room of Requirement, pulling my plans for the ball out of my bag. I was thinking a fire theme, with a little work we could create moving statues of fire; we could make them cool to touch so that none of the guests would be placed at risk. It would also be possible to contain the flames within large decorative containers to place upon the tables. It seemed like a good concept, yet Draco was still pushing for an ice theme. What surprised me is that he had thought of it entirely on his own, and his plans were similar to mine yet they involved ice instead of fire. Of course ice had already been used once, however this was different. His plans involved elaborate statues of ice, and strings of icicles that would never melt carrying the candles floating peacefully in the ceiling. It seemed as though the longer we could not reach a general consensus on this the closer it seemed to be getting, looming just around the corner.
I let out a loud breath in frustration and rested my face against my folded arms. I was lost for ideas and all this stressful thinking was beginning to give me a headache. I closed my eyes, carefully blocking out all the light. I opened my eyes moments later to see Harry and Ron standing just meters away from me again. I began to panic, this was not supposed to happen, I wasn't crazy. I was no longer depressed. I was not supposed to see them again. I had been telling myself that it was a figment of my imagination and that I would never see them again. But here they stood, clear as day. They were arguing, the anger and frustration was clear in their expressions. I stood between them.
"Stop it," I said instinctively, "You are both acting like idiots. You are all each other have in times like this and this is how you are choosing to act! It sickens me!"
"Hermione?" Ron's voice asked calmly, and for the first time I heard them speak to me.
"Ron?" I asked quietly unsure whether this was real or whether in fact I was dreaming. "Can you hear me?"
"Hermione?" Harry asked loudly, yet there was a questioning tone to his voice, clearly something else had been said before my name, yet all I could hear of their voices was my name.
"Why can't you hear me?" I cried, "Why can I only hear my name if you speak it?"
They continued to argue, it was clear that my standing between them could not stop it. There was in fact barely anything I could do to stop two figments of my own imagination arguing, it was preposterous to think that I could. I felt the tears I had been refusing to allow fall stinging in my eyes; these situations made me feel so helpless and alone. I watched as Ron walked away from Harry his back turned, Harry seemed to be yelling at him to come back but he just ignored him. Even I found myself screaming at Ron to come back but to no avail, he simply vanished before my eyes, and by the time I turned back around to face Harry, he was simply fading from sight.
"Please, no. No. Harry, stay." I pleaded, but the words were ignored. He simply vanished without another word.
My breathing was ragged as I fell to the floor. I curled into a small ball with my hands around my knees, the only way in which I could even begin to feel slightly whole once again. Every time they appeared and disappeared it ripped a shred from my heart. I was always left feeling alone, empty and scared, as though it were a constant reminder that I had been left behind. Somewhere in the pit of my heart it told me that they were alive and they had not forgotten me. Yet despite these reassurances I was left feeling so hollow, as though every time I saw these figures they were slowly bringing me further away from the world I knew and further into the darkness and uncertainty of the world that lay beyond the castle walls.
"I'm sorry," Draco whispered noticing me on the floor.
"It's not your fault," I replied struggling to regain my breath.
"It is. I haven't been entirely honest with you. Look how it's affected you," he replied sitting beside me.
"This has nothing to do with the fight," I replied softly.
"Then what has it got everything to do with?
"Harry and Ron," I replied, the tears falling gently from my eyes, "I saw them again."
"You saw them?” He asked looking around. “Where?"
"In my mind I see them occasionally. I have a terrible feeling Draco. Something's happened," I whispered slowly, "I think something's wrong."
"Are you sure?" He asked me, looking quite concerned after I mentioned I see them in my mind. "How do you see them?"
"They appear, just around sometimes. They're always talking, but I can't hear them. Today I heard them say my name; I heard them speak. Then Ron left. They had a fight and Ron left. Draco, I don't think he's coming back!" I cried, my hopeless sobbing beginning once again for the first time in weeks.
He wrapped his arms around me in a warm hug. "I'm sorry about what I said," he whispered, "I'll tell you once this is over."
"I'm sorry too," I replied hugging him back. "We need to do something."
"But what?" He asked.
"I need to send a letter," I replied finally. "I'll send it to Ron, and he'll respond. I'll simply accuse him of abandoning Harry and more than likely he'll send back some form of angry retort. We'll know then."
"You know them well," he whispered, pressing his lip to my cheek.
"They're my best friends, I should know them," I replied, his warm arms bringing me back down to earth once again, the tears drying up allowing me to see clearly once again, allowing me to see what had to be done; and all the difference in the world had been made by a simple hug.