Chapter 2 : I Am Remembering...
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She jumped a bit when the bathroom door opened up. Ron gave her a sheepish smile as he rubbed his head with a towel. Hermione could feel her anger rise as she realized the towel he was using was one of the decoration towels. She had told him countless times before that those towels were not to be used. They had dozens of usable towels in the drawers. Stil, she smiled back at him even after he dropped the cream colored towel in the corner of the bed room.
"Good night, Hermione," he whispered against her cheek before lightly kissing her, a small smirk on his lips as he pulled away. Hermione could feel herself get even more angry.
"Merlin, Ron," she sighed. "Why do you do that?" Her question was so blunt and direct he stared at her for a moment, not really knowing what she meant. "Every single night you whisper 'good night, Hermione' with that smile on your face as if mocking me."
Ron pushed the sage colored bed spread aside, his eyes a bit annoyed. He sighed slightly as if just hearing her was irritating. "Hermione, I'm not mocking you," he whispered tenderly in an attempt to calm her down. All his tone did was enrage her.
"You know I don't sleep, Ronald!" she finally snapped at him, jumping up from the bed. She realized she was being dramatic, but it wasn't like she could simply sit back down now.
"Is that really my fault?" he questioned, shiffting his position to put his socks on as if his fiancé wasn't bursting with anger and supressed emotions.
"You just don't care!" she yelled out in frustration. She watched as his back hunched over then straightened out as if preparing for battle.
"I'm sorry, but I did try to help at first," he stated in a harsh tone. "For the past four years I've tried to care, to help. But damn it, Hermione, nothing ever seems to work with you!" He pulled at his hair in frustration. By that point he had stood up, shouting at her across the bed. "I'm tired of trying to care," he stated, his eyes never breaking contact.
She stared at him, her anger no longer boiling. She suddently felt ashamed and dirty. She knew she hadn't been getting any better and that Ron and Harry had tried to help. Harry was still trying to help. She knew Ron had given up on her, but to hear him say it out loud and in such a harsh tone was something completely different. She was a bit surprised at the lack of emotion she felt. She had expected to feel hurt, or atleast a bit saddened, but nothing came. No suddent wave of emotion washed over her like it did for so many others in books and movies. "Maybe you should go."
"Or maybe you should," he snapped back. "You leave almost every night as it is." He looked away from her, not in anger, but in disgust. Not at her, but mostly at himself. He knew she was going to a bar somewhere. He had seen her go in a couple of times, but everytime he would just leave, go back home, and fall asleep. He could have gone in and let her know he was with her; he would help her out. But he never did.
Hermione took a step back, feeling the soft carpet sink beneath her weight, and felt herself over come with shock. She knew there was no point in denying it now. "I suppose that's true, but I don't see how it's fair that I should be the one to leave when the flat was originally mine." His eyes narrowed at her, already knowing her next words, for a moment forgetting his guilt and disgust at himself. "Gather your belongings, Ronald." She slipped her engagement ring off and tossed it to him. Pride held him back from reaching to catch it. He watched as it hit the ground, bouncing once off the light carpet and heard as she said, "I expect you to be gone by the time I return."
Quickly grabbing the nearest cloak around, she left him standing alone.
Hermione looked around the dark bar, waiting for a shock of blonde hair to come in. After her third drink she finally decided he was not going to show. She rubbed her temples lightly as she waited for the two hours she had decided to give Ron to pack up his stuff to pass..
She sighed, realizing the news had not yet sunk in. She knew that as soon as the words left her mouth they would be made real, but for the time being she could not believe it. She had broken up with Ron. Not just broke up, she corrected herself. I just broke off our engagement. She cursed herself as she realized she now had nowhere to go for the holidays. She knew the Weasley's wouldn't mind having her around even if she and Ron where no longer a couple, but she argued with herself that she wasn't willing to place Ron in such an uncomfortable situation.
"Where's your friend?"
Hermione looked up, startled from her thought, to see the bartender staring at her as he cleaned an area farther down from where she was sitting. The old man already had silver hair that reminded Hermione of her late headmaster. His hair was falling and his teeth were yellow, but she mostly noticed his eyes. His eyes were dark, an infinite black abis. When she made eye contact with him, she saw wisdom in those dark orbs. She figured he saw alot of stuff running a 24 hour bar in Knockturn Alley. "I don't think he'll show tonight," she answered smiling.
The old man shrugged, waving his wand over a couple of glasses. They quickly flew into the hair, heading straight for Hermione but making a random turn to the left and disappearing through a door way. "I wouldn't be so sure, Ms Granger," he smiled. "You are very early tonight."
Hermione studied the old man with narrow eyes, her mind quickly going over her list of friends and aquantices. When she could not place him her eye brows bunched together. "Do I know you?" she asked.
"Oh, no," he shook his head. "But who doesn't know you?" Hermione felt herself straighten up a bit at his words. "Your face is still in the Daily Prophet every now and then. Such a good thing you three did..." he trailed off, knowing she would understand. The man's eyes suddently went back into focus. He smiled at her, saying, "Mr. Malfoy will be here soon. I just know it."
Her mind was in motion as she watched the old man walk away from her, a slight limp in his walk. She cursed to herself, knowing she had been stupid. She knew someone would eventually recognize them and report it to the paper. She had told herself that people here either didn't care or were simply too drunk to put two and two together. She knew the man would be able to sell the information to the highest bidder and have it in the morning edition if he wished. No, she thought to herself as she watched him attend a young man in the corner. He just doesn't seem the kind to do that.
The man smiled at Hermione moments later, his eyes saying 'I told you so', as Draco walked through the doorway covered in snow. "Is it snowing?" she asked. Draco turned to look at her and was momentarily thrown off by the light in her eyes.
"Has been for the past hour or so," he informed her slowly as he removed his coat and hung it behind his chair. "How long have you been waiting here?" he asked, his tone odd.
Hermione was saved for a few moment as the bartender came by to take Draco's order. Draco watched as he refilled Hermione's soda and asked for two fire whiskeys. After the man left, he turned back to her still waiting for an answer.
"Hour and a half," she shrugged. "Maybe two." Draco stared at her, waiting for an explination. She sipped her soday, ignoring his looks.
"Why?" he finally asked. He watched as her face fell a bit and soon her mouth opened and words spilled out. Hermione was always a strong woman and only cried when it was too much to handle, but through out the whole story Draco never feared she would break down. As she spoke, Draco realized she wouldn't miss him. It was the way she retold the story and the fact that her eyes had life in them.
"I don't think I'm going to miss him," she stated, as if reading Draco's thoughts. A smirk began to spread across his face. "Why are you smirking at me," she demanded to know, her face flushed.
"Since that first night, I realized you didn't really want Weasley around." She stared at him, her face confused. "I just find it amusing that you are just catching up." A grin broke across her face at his words and a small laugh escaped her lips. Draco found himself smiling at the woman infront of him. He didn't know why, but he felt happy simply because she did. Does that even make sense? he wondered to himself as he watched her delicate wrist flick her hair over her shoulder.
"Maybe I never really loved him," she mused out loud, her fingers curling over her glass. "He knew me back in school and maybe the me back then had some sorts of feelings for him, but I'm different. I've grown and matured. I'm not that same girl. He didn't bother trying to figure out who the new me was." She took a slow sip from the cup, lost in thought. She turned her head towards him and captured his eyes with her own. Even if he had wanted to look away, he wouldn't have been able to. Her cheeks were flushed a nice pink from the alcohol running through her veins, her hair was a neat mess, and he suddently realized all she had under her cloak was a flimsy night gown. "You know more about me than he does right now and he lived with me, for Merlin's sake," she laughed lightly.
Draco wasn't sure what to say about what he knew about her and instantly latched the the safest topic she presented and didn't let go. "If you two lived together, then what happens now?" he questioned her.
Hermione shrugged, "I already told you; it was my flat first so I think it only fair that I should be the one to keep it." He continued to stare at her, waiting for more details. She sighed, finally giving in, wondering why she was giving in so easily to him. "Well, as you know, I asked him to leave. Of course he threw it back in my face that I'm constantly leaving so that maybe I should be the one to leave. I thought that was unfair-"
"And you were probably shocked at the fact that he knew," he cut in.
Hermione nodded. "I was! But in the end I asked him to be gone by the time I got back."
Draco chuckled at her, throwing back the remainder of his drink. "And you probaly thought you were being sneaky."
She grinned at him, her eyes unguarded, and Draco found himself unable to speak again.
"I didn't think lawyers really had much work to do," Draco commented as he placed another stack of papers on the coffee table. Hermione shrugged, watching over her quill as it printed out copies of the page before it, pausing when Hermione had to sign somewhere.
"Not everyone can own their own quidditch team," she snapped back with humor. Draco grinned at her. "Thanks for helping me out, Draco. I know you didn't have to come back here with me."
Draco felt a bit off whenever she called him by his first name. He began realizing she only used it when she was being serious or when they spoke of the war. Right now he didn't know why she was using it. "I really had nothing to do. The team has managers to take care of them and the broom production is going on fine. They wont need me for a few more week when the thrill of the most recent one had died down."
Hermione whistled, "very impressive, Malfoy." Draco continued places the papers in order and binding them, but he noticed Hermione's quill slowed down slightly. "Can I ask you something?"
He smiled. "You know you can ask me anything, Granger."
"Why isn't your name or family crest on your team or on your brooms?" she asked. She briefly remembered Ron wanting the Silver Dragon brooom when it first came out. Now that she knew it was Draco that had designed it and was manufacturing it, she wondered if Ron would still want it if he knew.
Draco shrugged. "My family name and crest still don't go well with some people and I knew it would damage my business greatly. So I had to look past my pride and remove my name."
She watched as he continued binding the pages of her report together and had the urge to comfort him. "Draco," she sighed. "I-"
"Hermione!!" A fist pounded against her door for several seconds before her name was called out once more. Draco glance at Hermione, not recognizing the voice. She placed her quill on the table. The pounding continued.
"Please go into my bedroom and wait there," Hermione pleaded. "I doubt Ginny will wait patiently for an explination before jumping to conclusion."
"It's not as if we're doing anything," Draco mumbled, picking his spare coffee mug and taking it with him so not to leave evidence of himself behind. As soon as he was out of sight, Hermione headed to the door and opened it to find Ginny standing there. Without waiting for an invitation, she let herself in.
"Well?" the redhead demanded. She crossed her arms over her stomach, waiting.
"Well what?" Hermione asked back. She knew Ginny was here because of her brother but she was in no mood to put up with her at the moment. She had a huge case spreak out on her coffee table and was desperate to get it done. Hence Draco helping out. They had both gotten little to no sleep the entire night and now here comes Ginny Weasley early in the morning looking for a fight.
"My brother has been sleeping on my couch for the past two weeks," Ginny exclaimed. "Care to explain that to me?"
"No." Hermione rubbed her temples hard, waiting to hear the door slam shut behind Ginny. The anger that shone in Ginny's eyes made it clear that she was not leaving until she was satisfied.
"No?" she repeated. "Hermione, think about it for a moment. You're throwing everything away because of a stupid fight. You two love each other very much." Hermione felt disgusted with her friend for thinking that she knew better how Hermione felt. "I understand Ron can be a bit thick headed sometimes and he might over look things every now and then, but he means well."
Hermione laughed at her, the sound coming out harsh. "Are you blind?" she asked. Ginny stared at her, not understanding. "Because your brother sure is and it seems that so are you. Harry knew I wasn't sleeping, but not Ron. And he was living with me, Ginny. Is that what you consider 'over looking things'?"
Ginny pulled at the sleeves of the red sweater. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you weren't sleeping."
"Of course you didn't," Hermione snapped, tired of the people around her. "You and Ron are the same. You don't care. There's your explination; he is sleeping on your couch because he didn't care. Same as you."
Ginny looked offended for a moment, but didn't say anything. She was confused. How was it that Harry knew, but not Ron? Not her? Could Hermione be right? Could it be that they simply didn't care? "Hermione, I do care," she tried.
"Yeah, well," Hermione sighed. "This isn't about you, now is it?" They stood there for a moment, neither knowing what to say. Draco stood in the hall way, facing Hermione. She noticed him and suddently felt braver. "Please leave, Ginny. Tell your brother he's lost his chance so not to send you again to do his dirty work."
Ginny looked at Hermione, her face in confusion. She did not recognize this Hermione. She felt hurt, but refused to say anything. Instead, she stomped out of the flat, her hair flying behind her.
"Granger," Draco stated after a few moments of silence. She turned to him, her face blank. The shine he had grown to like, gone."Are you alright?"
She shook her head. "I can't believe I just did that. Oh, Draco... I just threw away everything!"
Draco finally understood after a month and a half. The thing she had been trying to hide from everyone. The reason she went to the bar to escape. "Are you afraid of being alone, Granger?" She looked at him, her eyes full of tears. "Did you wish your friends would understand why you couldn't sleep? Did you simply wish for them to know? You realized they didn't understand; they didn't know. You felt alone, didn't you? Like no one ever really knew your secret. Potter might have know you weren't sleeping, but you couldn't confide in him, could you? You couldn't burden him with what burdens you at night. The faces of the dead haunting you." Her eyes widened at his words and he couldn't help but smile saddly at her. "I told you I understood. You knew you had your friends around you, but you also knew that you were distant from them. You had been carrying those dead people around with you for so long, Hermione. You knew they could never understand."
A sob escaped her lips and Draco crossed the room, wrapping his arms around her small frame. "I'm sorry," he sighed into her hair, realizing he might have said too much. He was surprised when he felt her body shake with a light laugh.
"Don't be," she whispered, pulling away slightly to be able to look at him. "You understand, Draco." She smiled at him, her eyes shinning again. She hadn't realized why she felt so close to Draco, why talking to him had seemed so simple. Now she did. All along, he had known what she was dealing with at nights.
"I do," he whispered, his arms tightening around her waist. "You shouldn't have to suffer anymore, Hermione." She smiled, leaning her head against his chest.
For the first time in a long time, Hermione finally felt at peace. She closed her eyes, inhailing Draco's scent, and welcomed the darkness that over came her.
Aaron watched as Draco flew down the stairs, a worried expression on his face. "Did you get the tree?" he asked suddently. Draco stopped in midstep, confusion on his face. "Christmas tree with lights and presents?"
Draco nodded, his face still lined with worry. The door bell rang, echoing through out the house. "Damn," Draco whispered. "Can you go check the house elves and see if they have dinner prepared?"
Aaron felt his heart clentch at the sight of his master in so much distress. He nodded, making his way to the kitchens, wondering who was so important that Draco would be in such a state.
Draco sighed, attempting to relax his body, before opening the door. The first thing he noticed was the sparkle. He smiled, his body relaxing at the thought that she was still happy and content. "Hello."
"Hello," she replied. He motioned for her to come in. Truth be told, he was nervous at the thought of having Hermione in his house. Her flat was small, but comfortable. So comfortable that he's ended up asleep on her couch on more than one occasion.
"It's not the same as before," he commented, not wanting to say it out loud. It's different from the last time you were here, he thought to himself, not liking the memory.
Hermione's eyes dulled a bit, but they quickly recovered. "It seems brighter," she smiled at him. He removed her cloak, trying not to stare at the black dress. It had thick straps, but a low cut. He smiled at the way it clung to her upper body and torso, but flared out around her legs. "Thanks."
He did not respond. His hand clung tightly to her cloak for control, but his other hand had other ideas. His fingers gently ran down the length of her arm. A smirk appeared on his face at the sight of the trail of goosebumps left behind.
Hermione jumped away from Draco, breaking their contact. He continued to stare at her for a few more seconds before directing his gaze towards Aaron. "Yeah?" he asked.
"Dinner is ready, Sir," he responded, bowing his head slightly. Draco grinned at Aaron's formality. Aaron caught it, and smiled in return.
"Hermione, this is Aaron," Draco introduced them, wrapping his arm around her waist in an attempt to bring her closer to himself and Aaron. "Aaron, this is Hermione Granger."
Hermione smiled brightly at the kind face before her, "nice to meet you." One look at the way he looked at Draco told her that Aaron cared deeply for his master. Draco seemed to feel the same way about the old man.
Aaron smiled at Hermione, sending eye signals to Draco. Draco rolled his eyes slightly when he noticed Hermione catching on to the secret conversation between the two men.
"She's very pretty," Aaron whispered to Draco as Hermione turned to admire a rare vase. Draco gave the man an unbelievable look, before laughing slightly. As he watched her take Aaron's arm as he escorted her to one of the many dinning rooms, he couldn't help but feel very lucky.
Hermione laughed as Draco made a face at the moving picture. Harry smiled from it, waving and blowing kisses. To my dear friend; love you alway, and hope to see you soon, Harry!
"Was this suppose to be your christmas present?" he questioned. Plates layed scattered around them. After two minutes of sitting at the table, Hermione burst out laughing. Draco had grinned at her and decided to just eat in the living room by the fire. Hermione seemed delighted at the idea.
She sat on the sofa, her legs tucked beneath her. Draco sat on the carpet beside her, his hand on her knee. They left the window open since Draco had to get up every few seconds to open it for the owls anyway.
"I'm sure this is not my present," she smirked down at him.
"Now that was a smirk!" he exclaimed, jumping to the sofa. He grabbed her chin, forcing her to look at him. She bit down on her lips, forcing them together. "You can't hide it this time, Granger," he whispered, his eyes never leaving hers. "I know what I saw."
"Maybe you saw wrong," she retorted, the corners of her mouth betraying her words. Her eyes gleamed with excitement and something else he could not explain.
"No, I didn't," he whispered, suddently realizing how close she was. She licked her lips nervously, seeing the change in his eyes. She felt her body relax as she noticed him leaning towards. Her eyelids fluttered closed, his arms snaked around her waist...
PLOP! Draco moved away from Hermione as something flew above his head. Hermione reached down to the floor, picking up a small velvet box. She glanced at Draco, confused. He had not given her a Christmas present yet...
"What is it?" he questioned. She shrugged, opening it up. Inside was an engagement ring. Her engagement ring. A folded up note stuck to the bottom of the box. She gently laid the ring and box on the couch. She recognized the ring and from the way Draco moved away from her, so did he.
I don't know what to say... I've been an idiot. I know I should have been there for you and not gotten angry when you finally had enough of my distant behaviour. I had forgotten how much I love waking up with you by my side. I had forgotten how much I love the way you smile when you say my name. I had forgotten how much I love you. I know I'm not that good with words, so Ginny is sort of helping me write this, but please know that the feeling and emotion behind the words is all me. I miss you, Hermione.
I'm willing to take a second chance if you are.
Draco resisted the urge to snort at Ron. He couldn't belive Weasley needed help writting a love/appology letter to Hermione. He watched as Hermione lifted the ring from it's pillow, wondering what she was going to do. The owl that delivered the message was perched on the living room window, obviously waiting for a reply.
"Ron is such a mess," she mused aloud. Draco closed his eyes, waiting to hear the unpreventable words that would follow. "The funny thing is I had forgotten as well."
He looked at her, his face blank. He knew she would only see a mask of intrest and curiousity. Nothing more. She continued, "but the things that I now remember have nothing to do with Ron. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to wake up with someone waiting for you. I had forgotten how wonder it is to know that even though you're sitting alone at a bar right now, someone is rushing to meet you." She turned to him, placing her hand gently on the side of his face.
Slowly, he felt his mask crumble. "There you are," she whispered. He grinned at her, speechless.
"I don't have a Ginny Weasley to help me with this right now," he joked. She laughed, her hand going to rest at the nape of his neck. "But I don't think I need one. I felt really alone for years now, even before my parents died. The only one around that really understood me was Aaron. I had forgotten what it felt like to have some depend on you, and vise versa." He stopped, pushing away a stray curl from her face. "I think I might actually love you."
She smirked, knowing that's what would amuse him. He laughed at her, before pulling hard at her waist, bringing her down ontop of his lap. "I think I love you, too," she whispered into his lips before she felt him lift his head up to meet her half way.
"Granger," Draco moaned, half asleep. He twisted his body around, eyes searching the bedroom. His eyes opened wide when he realized she was nowhere in sight. "Hermione?" he called out, more serious.
"What?" she asked, her head popping out of her bathroom. She quickly ran to the bed, a sheet the only thing on her body. He let himself fall against the dark sheets, which he picked out since he refused to sleep where Weasley once slept. "Were you worried I left?" she asked, amused. "Why would I leave my flat?"
He rolled his eyes, then settled them on the pale flesh that was exposed. He ran his fingers over her thigh. "It's been three weeks since Christmas, Hermione."
"I'm sure he's gotten the point, Draco," she replied, not really in the talking mood. She closed her eyes and simply felt.
"I'm sure he has," he agreed. "But I wouldn't mind sending a more clear message." She opened her eyes and focused them on his. She tried to see into them, and like always, he let her.
"You and your pride," she smirked at him. Getting up from the bed, she retrieved a piece of parchment, ink, and the velvet box.
He took them from her, turning his back so she couldn't see. For a moment he considered writting a full paragraph and rubbing it in Ron's face what he lost. Telling him how much Hermione was worth and how he would never be able to touch her again. But, then again, Draco Malfoy didn't go for the long and complicated. He went for the easy but painfull kill. After a few words, he sealed the parchment with his family crest and called for Hermione's owl.
The faithfull girl flew in a few seconds later, already used to Draco calling her. Snatching the box from Hermione's hand, he tied both the letter and ring to the owl. "Ronald Weasley," he whispered against the owl's soft feathers.
"What did you write?" Hermione asked as she watched her owl disappear through her window. Draco turned to her, a smile slowly growing on his lips. He pulled the sheet away from her body and drapped it across both of them. She smiled up at him, before pulling him down to place a soft kiss on his lips. "Draco, what did you write?"
He simply smirked down at her, shaking his head slightly. "I love you."
"I love you, too," she replied, forgetting all about the owl on it's way to deliver bad news.
Too late, Weasley...
So that's it. This was actually an accident sort of story. I wanted to just finish typing all of my other stories and such, but this one just came so easily and I was already typing when it just came out like nothing. I hope you all enjoyed it. I did. Writting this one wasn't a struggle and even though I didn't even know the ending, I still wrote it, knowing it would somehow sort itself out. And it did. =]
Thanks for reading. Please review if you'd like.