Chapter 8 : Maybe I can talk you down
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When Harry arrived, he knocked brusquely, with an air of clear intent. The knock seemed to convey that he would not leave the premises until he had spoken with me. I glared at the door for a good thirty seconds.
He knocked again.
Exasperated, I strode over to the door. Rather than open it, I glared some more. I didn't want him to think I would open a door every time he knocked on it. He had to know I was angry with him. He had to know a few puppy dog looks of unassuaged guilt would not destroy my resolve. I was statuesque. I was strong. Stubborn to a fault.
And I was fucking pissed.
I suddenly decided I wanted this conflict, and wrenched the door open, stopping its momentum before it hit the wall. It was a heavy door. It would leave marks. And I don't think Malfoy would appreciate a dent in such nice wallpaper.
I looked at Harry expectantly, brow raised, waiting for him to speak.
“Why won't you talk to me?” Were his first words. As if an angry interrogation would get me to speak to him. Harry didn't have the right to be upset with me. He foiled my plans. He was forcing me to live, forcing me to be the one standing here, on the receiving end of his insufferable inquiries.
“Because I don't want to.” It was true. Since waking up in the hospital, I'd been strangely honest with everyone, and I didn't hold back just because it was Harry. He didn't deserve the truth, but I was willing to tell any and all truths if it meant he left me alone.
“Whatever happened to 'you're my best friend, even in death'?” Of course he had to bring that up. Bet he put my suicide note in one of his stupid scrapbooks. Ever since Ginny found the picture album Hagrid gave him, she came up with an idea for him to document his entire life. I used to like them. The pictures of the three of us. The silly notes he wrote in the margins and the faces we made. For the past few years, my smiles had been forced. I guess it was nice he had proof I used to be happy.
“That was dependant on you letting me die! It doesn't count for... reanimation!” Snape had said, that first day of classes, he could teach us to put a stopper to death. I don't think he counted on Harry being such an exceptional student, in that regard. He had saved more people from dying than anyone could count. Well, I suppose, with enough time and patience, it could be calculated. But for now, let's say it was a shit-ton of people. Wizards and muggles alike.
“Hermione. I just miss my best friend.” It was his last-ditch effort. I could tell by the way his voice broke. He was out of material. That meant it was time to make my exit.
“You'll get over it.” With that, I shut the door with less force than I had used to open the door, but still enough to make a satisfactory bang. I almost collapsed against the door under the weight of myself. The strong frame kept me up, and I allowed a small smile to grace my features before turning away.
I knew it was probably dinner time but now all I wanted to do was sleep. I shuffled back down the hall to the stairs. When I got to the top, Malfoy had dinner ready – apparently he had floo'd out for some takeout while I was speaking with Harry. He was laying the cartons out on the table when I was heading past him to the spare bedroom.
“Stop,” he ordered. I took a breath and spun around, beginning my excuses. “You need to eat.”
I huffed, “I'm not hungry, I ate all your HobNobs.” No use denying it. He would find out when he went to have his morning tea and biscuit. And anyway, he told me to help myself to any food I could find. If anyone was to blame, it was he. People should know not to make such an offer if they were going to get all butthurt later on because someone took them up on it.
“HobNobs aren't proper food. I have sustenance here. Vegetables, noodles, rice, chicken, et cetera,” I could tell Malfoy was trying to lighten the mood after our conversation about twenty minutes ago. I liked to reward perseverance, especially in such a short period of time. We hadn't exactly argued, but I had raised my voice. It wasn't even a half hour ago and he was already trying to make amends. I suppose he'd be right in telling me he was a changed man. He used to take two weeks to apologize, and even then, only while under extreme duress. This was unprovoked and unexpected. I wanted to trust him less for it, but the truth was he was dependable.
I could depend on him to be an asshole when I needed someone to be, and I could depend on him to tell the truth and not to sugarcoat things. I couldn't count on any of my real friends for that. They were jumping the gun to make me feel better. Ginny, with her light conversation about shoes, Harry with his best friend speech. Ron, not so much. But if I hadn't broken up with him, it would have come. Maybe Draco was exactly what I needed. Not an enemy per se, because we were far past that. Rather an anti-friend. And he was doing a smashing job.
I sat with him at the table, and pulled a few cartons over to the plate he'd set for me. He watched me with a smile on his face. I wondered briefly if this was all an act to poison me. However, I had a bit of sense and realized he could have done that at any point, especially when we were alone in the forest. Not when people knew I was at his estate and that he'd be my last known contact. Even if he was plotting my death, he'd wait until I was out of his care. I was safe for now. I dove into the orange chicken, and began light conversation; the same topic of which had started a row before.
“So how was work? Any other surprise visits I should know about?” He dissected his vegetable stir-fry with a chopstick, chewing thoughtfully. For a moment, I almost thought he had planned some sort of progressive intervention in which all my closest friends came by and tried to convince me to forgive them for various things. But then he looked up with a smile and jumped into a story about a co-worker, Juergen. Apparently he hadn't known there was an Administrator/patient confidentiality agreement and began telling him details about a high-profile Auror. Malfoy, of course, told him about the gag order straight away to save both their jobs. If it was revealed that Malfoy knew anything about another Administrator's patients, the results would be catastrophic. And Malfoy was trying to be above reproach by doing everything above board.
In repeating the story to me, he left out the name of this high-profile Auror, so I naturally began to guess. I wasn't really one for gossip, but I was one for knowing everything.
“Donaghy?” He shook his head.
“Moranas?” Another no. I searched my steamed corn for answers.
“Sullivan? Peters? McDonnell? Brown? Duke?” Malfoy kept saying no without any change in his voice, leading me to believe he would not tell me. I realized he just might be above reproach. Unless this was a ploy to make me believe he wasn't telling anyone about me. To gain trust, that sort of thing. People did it all the time. I had seen too many movies. Then again, if the movies had taught me anything, it was that usually some slutty girl was the one to kiss your boyfriend as you happen to be watching from afar and that as soon as you look away, thinking he's cheated, is when he pushes the slag away and goes 'I'm in love with so-and-so, actually' so if there was anything to learn from all this, it was that maybe I really could trust him. I suppose he deserved the benefit of the doubt, at least.
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