Chapter 4 : Slipping
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Obviously, these characters are not mine, they're those from the AMAZING mind of JK.
Enough about me talking about the past. I’ve always hated dwelling on it. No use starting now. As I said before, it’s been about six years since the final battle. Five years since those glorious last days at Hogwarts as Headgirl. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks as necessary. I couldn’t help but fall in love with this new more caring Draco. He was utterly perfect. We had everything in common against all odds and he knew how to make me smile. He was gorgeous and certainly too charming for his own good. I should clear the air though... I’m not in love with him anymore... I think. But well it doesn’t matter, you see, Ginny and Draco are now engaged.
I know what you’re thinking, how could they possibly be engaged? Draco and Ginny?! Absurd. I suppose though you would be thinking the same thing if he and I were engaged. But as I’m sure you’ve gathered from what I told you, Draco has changed from the stuck up snob we knew all throughout school. He’s sensitive. He listens. He holds a conversation. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him anymore. The war is over so he could now be his true self. And his true self is completely and totally amazing. God I sound like teenage girl talking about their first “love.” But I swear that’s not how it is. I mean, Ron was my first love. And it’s a completely different feeling from how I feel ... err felt about Draco.
(Flashback to 7th year)
I looked at him from across the table in the library and caught him staring at me. He cracked some joke about Hufflepuffs and for whatever reason I found it far more hilarious than it should have been. I began laughing to the point that I was in tears. He began laughing to and we both starting laughing harder than I’d ever laughed before... loudly. This got us a lot of angry looks and a few people telling us to shut up or leave. This sent me into an uncontrollable fit of giggles. I couldn’t breathe and started crying again. Draco reached across the table and brushed away one of my tears with his thumb. My skin felt hot where he touched me and my breath caught in my lungs. I immediately looked away.
“We should get back to studying for these damn NEWTS.” I said.
He nodded. Although I thought I saw a flicker of disappointment across his face. Must be a trick of the light, I thought to myself and sighed.
I sat here at my birthday party not even wanting to be here. Only problem was, it was my house. Ginny had thrown me a surprise party and naturally it wasn’t my kind of party, it was hers. Loud music, drinking, dancing, all that stuff. I would have much rather just had a nice dinner with some close friends and just relaxed at home watching movies and eating cake. But no, Ginny had to go all out.
She started making a speech. Thanking me for being her best friend since her first year and even through the hard times stayed close by her side. There was a slideshow going on behind her of pictures of us smiling and waving from the time we were 11 and 12 all the way through now. Pictures of us at school, at the Burrow for Christmas all those years, and then the more recent ones, Draco being in several of them. I wanted to cry looking at the way Ginny was looking at him in all of them. He was in the middle of all of them, one arm around each of us. I wish I could just cut her out of these pictures yet at the same time this would be unfair considering they were the ones engaged, the ones in love.
Ron walked up to me and congratulated me. Giving me a huge hug.
“Happy 24th Mione!” He whispered in my ear.
“Hey Ron! Thank you so much.” I replied.
“Are you enjoying yourself?” He asked. I glanced around and nodded. “Hermione. I know you too well; you don’t have to lie to me, especially because she’s my sister. You should’ve told her not to do this.”
“I didn’t know she would.” I said. Not all a lie but I also couldn’t hurt her by saying I didn’t want a birthday party. She simply loved doing this. This one was different than the past ones though, her speech was also thanking me for ‘properly’ introducing her to her now fiancée. Ugh.
“Oh come on Mione,” He started, “you knew she would do something. She simply loves being the center of attention and getting all the credit for these parties. You’re too nice to take that away from her. You’re too nice to take anything away from her.” He finished as if hinting towards something, but he was right. Ginny always got what she wanted. I made sure of that. Because she had been brought up in such a poor environment I had always made sure she got the little things in life she wanted if it meant her being happy. Even if it meant me being unhappy. Which is the reason I can’t ever tell Draco how I feel. I give up on the whole denying I love him. I did, and still do. But he can’t ever know that. It would kill Ginny and I know he doesn’t feel the same way anyway. What would the point be?
(Flashback to 7th year)
Graduation day. I had decided that I would tell Draco how I felt about him today. After we celebrated by getting dinner and drinks with all our friends (after family dinner of course) I would sit him down and tell him. Everything. I couldn’t help but smile. Today was the day.
The ceremony went smoothly. McGonagall’s speech was fabulous and following that were mine and Draco’s. Being headboy and headgirl it was our duty. I talked about life going on after the battle and how we had all come so far this year, achieving what we had been striving for all those years. Doing it for those who no longer could. Draco’s was about the future. How we would all go on to do great things. How everyone would be proud of our generation for overcoming and making the future so much brighter.
After the ceremony was over Draco and I agreed to meet at the Three Broomsticks at 8. Dinner with my parents went fine. They were so glad to see me have a graduation and be able to move on to a career now. They told me how proud they were before going to talk to McGonagall about using the floo network to get back home (she had set it up for them that day to get here and back from their house to Hogsmeade). I said goodbye to them promising to be home tomorrow. We were allowed to stay at Hogwarts one more day to say goodbye to everyone and pack our things.
I made my way to the Three Broomsticks at about 7:45 only to find Draco already there. He jumped out of his seat to give me a huge hug. Congratulating me on my speech and of course graduation. I never wanted him to let go but he did when we heard someone clear their throat from behind. I turned to see Ginny standing there.
“Ginny!” I shouted and gave her a hug. She congratulated me as well before turning to shake Draco’s hand and do the same to him. Ginny had seen how close Draco and I were becoming and I could tell she was scheming something. She told me days before she thought he was gorgeous now. And knew that she didn’t have to worry about him torturing her especially with Harry gone. I never had the guts to tell her I was in love with him. I planned to tell him tonight and her tomorrow.
The three of us talked for a bit, Ginny constantly flirting which irked me. But I pushed it away. She would never go for him.
“Draco,” Ginny started. My head snapped up and he looked at her puzzle, “Ask Hermione out on a date.” She finished. I was startled. My face immediately turned red. I looked at Ginny and shook my head.
“We’re just friends Gin.” I said. Not wanting to look at Draco.
“Oh yeah?” Ginny said then turned to face Draco. “Well then,” she started, “Ask me out.”
I felt tears start to form in my eyes as I looked to Draco. A look of panic and confusion on his face.
“Come on,” Ginny said, “Just one date.”
I stood up to leave wishing them a good evening and saying that I had to go back to the dorm and start packing. I tried my hardest not to run as I made my way to the exit. The tears came bursting out of my eyes the second I left the door. I took my heels off the moment I got out of the building and took off running. I made it back to my dorm not too much later and immediately collapsed on my bed unable to breathe. I knew it was all over. She liked him, she always got who she wanted. She was fierce and beautiful and funny and flirty. I was nothing compared to her.
What seemed like only moments later there was a soft knock on my door.
“Hermione!” Draco whispered sounded exasperated. “Hermione please come out. I’ve been looking everywhere for you. I need to talk to you.”
“No. I don’t want to talk, I’m tired and I’m about to go to bed. Did you have fun with Ginny?” I asked.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He said, “I wanted to know how you felt about that.”
“I don’t care. As long as you two are happy.” I nearly hissed out.
“Oh… well then, thanks for your blessing I suppose.” He said. “Hermione.. I...” He said but didn’t say anything after that and I heard his footsteps as he walked away from my door.
I finished packing that night and first thing in the morning I grabbed by bags and headed straight to the train without waiting for Draco. I sat in my compartment only to see him and Ginny walk by minutes later. He looked at me through the window and for a moment I thought he looked pained but I knew that couldn’t be it. They were happy now. That’s what mattered. I looked out the window and began to cry uncontrollably hoping no one would join me in the compartment.
Ron and I sat talking most of the party. Luna kept coming up several times to talk to Ron and ask him to dance but Ron kept shooing her away. He and Luna had slept together only weeks ago but he didn’t have the feelings for her that she seemed to have for him. He had been drunk and lonely I suppose and it happened.
“You know you have to talk to her.” I told him.
“I know… but not tonight. I don’t want to go there quite yet.” He replied.
Eventually, the party died down. Draco dragged a now extremely drunk Ginny away and apparated, presumably back to their apartment and I felt my heart drop. Ron walked me out and gave me a goodbye hug before apparating himself. Just before I was about to do go back inside to clean up, a loud crack sounded next to me scaring me half to death.
My heart skipped a beat.
“Draco?” I said.
He turned to look at me and smiled giving me a huge hug.
“Sorry I didn’t get a chance to wish you a happy birthday before. Ginny was being extremely needy. I couldn’t leave her alone.” He said. “And now, she’s lost her wand.” He said. I laughed. Typical Ginny.
“I’ll help you look for it.” I said, knowing this was stupid, it’s not like I’d let him search my house on his own to look for it. After only a couple of minutes we found it shoved all the way under my couch.
“Thanks for your help.” He said. Instead of leaving though, he sat on the couch. I looked at him with a quizzical look.
“Oh come on, Ginny will be passed out cold when I get home, I want to have a little alone time with the birthday girl. Weasley seemed to have all night with you.” He said. I knew he was right. Ginny passed out for hours as soon as she was in a bed, any bed, when drunk.
“You know you could’ve just come looking for it tomorrow.” I said, seeing as she wouldn’t know it was missing.
“I could’ve.” He started, “But like I said, I wanted some time with the birthday girl.” I couldn’t help but smile.
I sat down next to him and looked up into those amazing grey eyes of his.
“You know what?” He said, “Let’s go get a drink to celebrate.”
“Uhh are you sure that’s a good idea?” I asked.
“Of course it is. I want the honors of buying you a birthday drink.” He said and smiled down at me.
I grabbed his arm and we apparated. Of course, we were in the Three Broomsticks. So many memories here of study sessions and nights of unwinding after big tests. And of course that infamous night. I hadn’t been here since.
We sat down and he ordered us each a butterbeer. As we began to drink I noticed a gorgeous looking witch a couple tables over glaring at me then giving Draco a sultry look. I laughed to myself.
“That woman has no idea why you’d be here with someone like me. She’s thinking ‘beautiful people should be with beautiful people’.” I whispered to Draco.
Draco glanced over at her and smiled.
“Excuse me miss.” He said and I was immediately horrified. She looked up at him and smiled. “You seem to be bothering my girlfriend.” I was mortified. And apparently so was the witch. She stood up and left the building. I couldn’t help but laugh though.
“Oh. My. God. Draco.” I said between laughs, “And you wonder why I was so in love with you 7th year.” Whoops. Didn’t mean to let that slip.
He looked at me immediately. “What?!” He barely got it out before grabbing my arm and apparating back to my house. I had no idea what to do so I sat down on the couch and tried not to look at him.
“What are you talking about Granger?” he asked me, the panic in his voice clear.
“I’m sorry I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have said anything. I figured you knew. How could I not be? Ugh I don’t want to talk about this. You’re marrying Ginny. You never loved me. None of it matters.” I couldn’t bear to look at his face.
“You stupid stupid girl.” Draco said. And he placed his hand under my chin and turned my face to him. There was a look on his face I knew I had seen somewhere but couldn't place it. My heart was beating too loudly in my ears and before I knew it, his lips were on mine.
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