NOTE: These characters may appear OOC, but there are a few reasons contributing to each one being like this. I hope you can understand why, and if not, don't be angry, please just ask, and I will be more than happy to explain. This OOC style will flit off and on during the whole novel.
Chapter Two :: Silver and Emerald
The notion of Hermione picking her jaw off the floor seems like an impossibility. In those moments before the sun has begun to set, she looks out over the Academy's vast and spacious grounds, realising the truth:
She hates the place.
It's relatively still summer, but the air in her dormitory is cold and lifeless. Even as the last rays of sunlight filter through her kitchen window where she stands, it is still cold. What can she do? She doesn't like the cold - along with snakes, doxys and boggarts, it has become one of her latest fears. The cold reminds her of Ron, and Ron reminds her of ... everything. Not to mention loneliness itself - ever since she had been given her key and realised that she wasn't to be bunking with Harry, the goosebumps on her arms and shivers down her spine have not left Hermione alone. It is so draining on her that she feels she will be sick, just from the feeling.
As she continues to stare out over the grounds, a sudden violent shudder passes through her whole body - she had expected it to be a shiver, but it is so intense and unexpected that she finds herself stumbling forward from the force of it. Out of instinct, Hermione holds her hands out in front of her, but she catches nothing. Too late to stop her fall, her head collides with the window pane with a soft thud, sending her sprawled out across the carpet. Stars shimmer before her eyes.
''Oh,'' she breathes, closing her eyes. The last strains of sunlight touch her bare shoulders, but she is in too much pain to worry about the soft warmth. She closes her eyes and breathes in the musty scent of the dust bunnies, feeling the hot little tears stream down her face.
She doesn't kno what she is crying for; a million things or perhaps nothing. Her lost love, her old home, or Moggs, her ugly but affectionate cat. She doesn't kno if she misses her friends, if she hates college already, or if it's her own reaction to splitting her head into two. But, whatever it may be, an hour and fifty curses later, Hermione is still crying. She's repaired her throbbing head as best she can, taken panadol and performed all the spells that have come to mind, but nothing has helped. Her throats hurts, her head still throbs, her nose is blocked and her eyes remain red and puffy.
All her life, Hermione Granger had aimed for this. Not puffy eyes or golfball-shaped bruises on her head - but this. College. Ever since she had received that letter from Hogwarts, her eyes had been wide open and as big as dinner plates - and not even The War had changed that. She had soaked up everything - promising herself that she would never let an opportunity pass her by. No more dreams and aspirations about Oxford; her goals were much more sophisticated: and Diamond View Academy provided that. Healer courses, Teaching courses, Study and Care of Magical Creatures, Potions, Defence, Professional Quidditch, Arithmacy, Astronomy, Charms, Transfiguration courses, Muggle Society and its Culture Studies, Social and Housewife, Business, Ministry and History of Magic Studies. They had Legal Studies, Equal Rights, and the Magical Society and its Culture, all of which Hermione had signed up to take on. Her dream was finally beginning to takes its form.
The one problem, though, was that she may never wake up from it.
Everything - she had put everything - into this one college, and now she was regretting it. This wasn't what she wanted to be! Stuck in a massive dormitory, all alone and studying day in, day out the most boring subjects ever created by wizard kind. In her minds eye, she could already see tomorrow, next month, next year. Full of nothingness but work, lack of sleep and devoid of fun. Hadn't that already been what Hogwarts was about!?
With a breath, the girl opens her eyes. She can still not view the pros of staying here. She's standing at the bathroom door, leaning against the white, wooden frame. Straight ahead is her way out into the dormitory hall, and to her left is the hallway that leads off into two bedrooms. On her right is a tiny little kitchen, stored with a fridge and cutlery fit for four. And then the lounge room. She walks forward, passing the dark hallway, and stepping up the four wooden steps that lead into the lounge. it is a split-storey apartment, and she cannot deny that it is not beautiful: the furniture in just one of these rooms would be more expensive that her whole house put together. So what is she worried about? Why is she complaining?
A knock at the door distracts her thoughts, causing her to jump out of her skin with fear. She turns, staring at the door long and hard, unconsciously thinking she will be able to see who it is through the wood. Three knocks follow, more urgent this time. She rubs her eyes and tries her best to clear her head.
Who could it be? She glances longingly towards her bedroom - all she wants to do is go to sleep.
Hermione walks down the stairs, opening the door with a small smile despite her insufferable loneliness and tiredness - but the person standing there is far from smiling back. A perfect sneer is in place on his all-to-familiar face. Before he even has time to take in the girl's features, Hermione has slammed the door, covering her mouth quickly to muffle her rising scream. It bubbles its way up her throat, and an embarrassing squeak escapes. She can feel herself locking the door without looking at what her fingers are doing; suddenly she is not so tired anymore.
''What the - oh, FUCK!''
She hears the distinct sound of his shoes colliding with the wall. The resonating thud causes her to jump. Her heart is pounding way to fast, her head throbbing with even more might than before.
Confused and in pain, her eyes begin to water.
My wand. She quickly pulls the wooden stick out of her pocket, her knuckles turning white at her grip. He's quiet now, and the silence only heightens Hermione's fear.
''Granger.'' Draco's voice is harsh, eventually breaking the insufferable quiet. ''Open the door.'' He knocks louder this time, the sound rattling her eardrums.
''W-why should I?'' she squeaks. She clears her throat, surprised at how long it has been since she had last spoken to anyone. Hermione snaps, ''Go away, Malfoy.'
''Why should you?'' she can hear the sneer in his voice, the low snarl. ''Because I live here too.''
He starts up his banging again, possibly fully aware that she is standing right in front of his fist that is hammering the door. No doubt Malfoy wants that door to disappear completely; she knows she would if she was in his position.
She frowns. ''This is MY dorm.''
''And I'm YOUR dorm mate.'' He starts bashing the wood more furiously, purposely creating a scene. ''Let. Me. In.''
For a precious moment Hermione feels like laughing. What kind of idiot does he take her for? Her dorm mate?? She hadn't realised Draco Malfoy was that stupid.
''Get lost, Malfoy,'' she replies with perfect calm. ''This isn't funny.''
''This isn't a joke!''
There's a tone in his voice that Hermione can't identify, but either way she does not like it. She ponders for a full minute, to which the silence between them is almost suffocating. Then she realises what it is.
A panic rises in her, so strong she almost starts to shake. She begins to feel like she had before they had taken their N.E.W.T's, and then after. Feelings so strong there are just no words to describe them.
She's just so scared.
''No! It can't happen! They can't have mixed gender dorms!'' Wasn't that why she wasn't with Harry??
''Let me in,'' Malfoy growls again.
She won't believe it. ''I told you. I'm NOT falling for this joke.''
She hears a loud aggressive sigh, followed once again by another long, unbearable silence. Then:
''Oh, piss granger. You wouldn't know a joke even if it introduced itself as Merlin. Now, for the sake of your worthless existence - LET ME IN.''
More confused then insulted, Hermione asks, ''Don't you have a key?''
''GRANGER!'' The yell causes Hermione to jump and step away from the door. She spins around, her wand at the ready, and watches the wood cautiously. Malfoy speaks again, slower, as if talking to a two-year-old. ''I am tired, I am angry, and obviously not in the mood. I hate this idea, just as much as you, you stupid girl. Not to mention people are starting to gather - now, do you really want me to tell them I'm shouting because this idiot mudblood - you, in case you weren't already aware - wont let me in?'' A pause, then, ''Please let me in, Granger.''
Without a word, Hermione turns away from the door and runs from it. She enters her own little bedroom, where, at least for a moment, she is safe. Her door slams shut, and she's sure that Malfoy will hear it. Hermione runs to her bed, but she can't sit down.
The clock ticks.
Tears stream down her face, fast and furious to reach her chin. The anguish, the horror... She cannot believe that this is actually what she wanted. Its true what they say: there is no such thing as perfect. But ... For a moment, so long ago, she actually believed there was. When Ron had first kissed her, when The War had been won. Hermione had always been a dreamer, that went unsaid; but when she had been with Ron, the dreaming wasn't dreaming anymore. It was real.
And this, right now, is not a nightmare. Its torture - she can feel it.
She opens her mouth to gasp, but closes it quickly in the fear that she'll scream. The anguish is swallowing her whole, choking her. She wants out ...
And then she hears the knocks. The urgency to open a door, so far away yet so close she can smell the musky mahogany. Her mindset begins to change, and she thinks, no matter how bad it may seem right now, it could not possibly get any worse. Maybe Malfoy has changed. Maybe he will even make this coming year a little more exciting than her books.
The anguish inside her wants to escape so bad, but she will not let it. She holds it in a silent scream. She grabs it, traps it, then opens her door, walking back to where it had all started. The knocks have ceased, and Hermione starts to wonder if Draco has left.
A curious sharp stab in her chest occurs - the beginning of unintentional disappointment.
''Granger?'' Her head snaps up, and once more, she's staring at the door. ''I can't come in unless I have your permission.''
Hermione opens the door slowly, and with a swish of black robes and fine silk, Malfoy enters the apartment. He doesn't even acknowledge her. She closes the door slowly, left in the evanescent of his cologne, and watches his back, his smooth pale hair glittering in the light.
I hate you, she thinks. ''Your room, Malfoy, is down the hall and to your right.''
Draco disappears, and after a moments hesitation, Hermione goes into the kitchen and starts to prepare herself dinner. She can hear him shuffling around his room, the effort of him and strength evident in each step. And she realises, vaguely, it is not so cold anymore, not so lonely. Even though its Draco Malfoy with her, she's not shivering from her own isolation.
The thought makes her smile; though, as soon as it flits across her face, she hears his voice snap, ''Why so happy?''
Hermione looks up at Malfoy, standing on the opposite side of the bench from her. She narrows her eyes at him and says, ''Like you could care less, Malfoy.''
After he slips onto the little stool, Malfoy puts his elbow on the granite surface, resting his head lightly against his hand. His look is so bored and annoyed that it is difficult for Hermione to hold back a laugh. Yet when she looks at him, she is so caught up by the intensity of his eyes that the laughter dies immediately.
She can't pull herself away. She can't think. All Hermione can see is those swirling silver pools, and she literally feels as if she's drowning.
Breaking away from Draco with a small gasp, Hermione whispers, ''Stop staring at me,'' - though in her heart she doesn't want him to. There was something calm about his gaze - something other than the hated she had experienced with him all throughout Hogwarts. She could look into them forever - they, themselves, were infinite. Beautiful.
Hermione picks up a piece of lettuce and throws it at him.
A trace of a smile shines in his eyes for a mere second, and he says, ''Get a good nights sleep, Granger. While we're staying together I want you to at least be able to tell the difference between a joke and a demand.''
Forgetting all about her dinner, Hermione storms out of the kitchen and locks herself in her bedroom, just in time before he catches her smile again. Just in time before she's sucked back into his silvery waters.
A movement in the corner of the world. The boy shifts his gaze and notes the arrival of a newcomer with a little ripple of curiosity. His dorm mate.
For four hours he has been sitting here, thinking about Ginny; of her, her red locks, her butterscotch eyes. Nothing has passed, nothing moves, and he just sits, waiting, though he isn't sure what he's waiting for.
As Harry watches the young girl come in, he sees her nod, as if accepting something from herself. He takes her in with the same roaming eyes as her own. He sees round face, smiling eyes and pink lips, slightly opened so her pearly white teeth sparkle in the light. Her dirty blonde hair curls, strand excusing strand, and her blue eyes shine underneath a layer of make-up.
She is still unsure whether he is a good or bad thing, and asks with a slight blush, ''Which room is mine?''
Harry points to the room through the kitchen and the girl nods again. She is so utterly familiar ...
He's back at the party. Ginny is holding him back from Draco Malfoy, her voice low and feverish in his ear.
''That's Astoria Greengrass. Believe me, if you knew her, there would be no way you'd want to punch Malfoy.''
''Thanks.'' She makes to move away, then stops, turning back to him. Harry holds her gaze, and after a beat she manages, ''I'm Astoria Greengrass.''
When nothing is said, the girl nods yet again, walking into her room but not closing the door. He has a clear view into her bedroom, and he studies her carefully. She walks in the manner of an intruder, as if this is not her dormitory. Her eyes never once stop moving, flitting almost guiltily around. Harry watches as Astoria Greengrass sits softly down on her bed, wipes at her eyes, but even he can see those tears refuse to leave.
He could say so much but no words form.
Beside her, the bed shifts under a sudden weight, and Astoria freezes. The abrupt silence causes her to hold her breath, and she's afraid to look over and see him again. But no one touches her or speaks, and after a while she cannot help but sneak a glance.
Harry is so close she could just reach out and touch him. Yet he seems unaware of her; he is facing out her window, his hands cupped loosely between his knees, his face serene and peaceful. And his emerald-green eyes, vivid in the incredible twilight, are full of rapture and light. It is as if he has flown, spirit-powerful, to his own world, far from Astoria's own, and unutterably finer.
''No games, Harry Potter,'' she breathes sceptically.
He turns his head and looks at her, suddenly back from his own world, his eyes wary, half pained. But he sees no hate in her; only the stains of tears nestled into her cheeks. No other man could touch her this afternoon; but Harry Potter, with his extraordinary tenderness and legend, gives such a deep consolation that she finds herself leaning her cheek against his hand, sobbing. He weeps with her, and there wove between the an understanding, a unity deep and poignant and powerful - one love left behind, one love lost in hate.
Suddenly, he stands, and walks away, leaving her behind, confused and mystified. He enters his own room, slamming the door behind him, the sound causing Astoria to jump.
For a long while, way after the sun has set, Astoria sits there, recollecting herself and breathing in deep. Then, she slowly starts to unpack her things, the last object to put away being the photo of him and her. She doesn't use magic for this one; she holds it in her hand, stroking the silver and emerald frame. She knew she shouldn't have swapped the keys. But she also knew, she had done the right thing this time. For him.
All through the night, the Draco in her photo continues to smile.
The next morning, Draco's waiting for her at the end of the corridor. She doesn't expect it, so he scares her a little, which she finds is not a good way to start. Thought she knows what scares her more is not his sudden presence, but something swirling much deeper within.
It is a hard thing to accept; something you only ever read about ... Young girl, afraid of her gorgeous, model boyfriends anger ... Astoria groans and dips her head, covering her flushing face with her short gold locks. If only things were that romantic in her world. If only she could admit to herself that it is she she's afraid of. One wrong word, one wrong move, and everything she loves could be destroyed in an instant. Astoria clenches her fists, feeling her engagement ring press against her skin, slightly cold in the early morning. She looks up.
He's staring straight at her. He's so fearful.
She stops metres in front of him, biting down hard on her lip. Through her smouldering eyelashes she looks up into his grey eyes. Through the powerful longing to touch him, she tries to find the words to express the pain Draco has caused her.
''Are you okay?'' is all she can muster.
Astoria's hand flies up to her cheek, but she is unable to wipe away her embarrassment. Tears are forming in her eyes, yet somehow she manages to muster iphone the courage to look at him again. His eyes are wet, though still they scrutinize her with the same intensity they always hold.
''No,'' he breathes.
She's trapped. In his beauty, in the absolute serenity of the moment. Before she can even think of what to say, she blurted, ''Will you tell me, Draco?''
She's hysterical, he can see it. He can see the griphold she has on him, the swoon she may feel if he were to touch her. And Draco makes to, taking a step forward automatically; but what she does next shocks him, disappoint him, shatters him.
She steps back.
Reality forcefully returns like a blow in the head, and, fighting the hurt that swells, Draco continues to stare into her eyes confidently. ''I don't know.''
She shakes her head, leaning backward, ready to run away from Draco - from his eyes, from the hate she can see.
And then she smells it. Something amazing - hot and sweet and delicious.
She hadn't realised how close she was to him, or the fact she had step forward again. Their bodies are pressed together, their breathing one, and Astoria cannot help but lift her hand up and stoke away the few blonde locks that hide his eyes from hers.
''Are we okay?'' She breathes. She should back away, she should leave. But before Astoria realises it, her hand has entangled itself in Draco's hair; fine, silver strands ease through her fingers.
He just stares at her. Astoria's hands fall to her side.
''I always let you down.''
''No.'' This time, it is he who takes a step back. ''You always let you down, Tori. Its always about you.''
Before she has time to realise what he has said, or that his body has stiffened and disappeared from her touch, Draco distangles himself from her spirit. Staring at nothing but the empty hallway, Astoria whirls around in horror, watching as he disappears on her yet again.
And just as yesterday, she makes no move to stop him.
Authors Note:: I can't reply to reviews for some reason ): I promise once I can though, it will be done (: Anyway! It has been so so long since I have written anything!! I'm sorry if its bad and not what you were expecting. Keep in mind though, this will be the last on the terrible corniness. I've shocked myself with it, but it had to be done. Reviews and support would be excellent; it has been so long ): (P.S. I'm sorry about the crap editing, this was all done on my phone)
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