Chapter 3 – Talking
I stepped under the warm water of the shower and hugged myself until I began to warm up. I looked down at my arm and traced my fingers over my ever-fading scar. Finding that scrap of parchment that night had saved my life; I finally had a glimmer of hope that things were going to be alright. The emerald green ink against the lightly toasted paper glistened in my mind as I recalled the moment I found it crumpled at my desk in the library. It had obviously been written in a rush; as if the person who wrote it didn’t want to be found out; but for a scribble, the cursive was so elegant.
I got out of the shower, dried my hair with my wand (I love magic), pulled on my robes and made my way down the stairs of the common room to walk to breakfast with Ginny.
“Morning Ginny!” I called, as I came down the stairs. She was chatting to Faith Whitehorn; a re-sit 7th year like me. She was currently dating Dean Thomas and they made the perfect couple. Faith was the granddaughter of Devlin Whitehorn – the founder of Nimbus brooms. Her family were super wealthy, but she remained grounded and really humble and I loved her for that. She lost her older brother and her aunt in the war, but she still smiled every day. Faith tossed her long blonde hair behind her back and her blue eyes twinkled up at me.
“Oh, hey Faith! I didn’t notice you get up as,” She waved at me.
“You’re chirpy today ‘Mione, what’s changed?” Ginny gave me a curious look. I was about to come up with a lie full of holes when Faith chimed in:
“Herms, did my eyes deceive me or did I see you sat with none other than the infamous Draco Malfoy when I passed by the Three Broomsticks last night?” She grinned at me. Merlin. Thanks Faith. I braced myself for the explosion that was Ginny Weasley:
“WHAT!?” She shouted, it made the ghosts jump and the portraits looked slightly shaken. I cringed and looked at Faith:
“Oops. Me and my big mouth! I’m sorry Hermione, I didn’t mean to” she ran her fingers through her hair, genuinely distressed. I smiled at her gently:
“It’s ok Faith, I know you didn’t know any better. She was bound to find out eventually. I’m a rubbish liar!”
“Why didn’t you tell me last night?” Ginny exploded “Malfoy? What? Hermione, you tell me what’s going on RIGHT NOW!” She had stood up and her posture was defensive.
“Ginny, calm down! It was only a Butterbeer! He called me…a certain name…during extra potions and wanted to apologise and make it up to me.” Her mouth and Faith’s mouths had each formed a perfect ‘O’ and I couldn’t help but smile, “my exact reaction!” I exclaimed in reply.
“Bbut I thought…I thought you had to get feathers?” Ginny was beginning to get distressed and I could hear the strain in her voice. She had been lied to by someone she trusted with her life and I felt guilty. I pulled the box out of my bag:
“You know what I mean.”
“Ok, so the feathers were a lie, but it was the only thing you would believe! If I had told you that I was meeting Draco, you would all have flipped!” I was beginning to get angry at her. Why wouldn’t she understand?!
“Too right we would have flipped, what do you think I’m doing now?! Draco?! On a first name basis with a Deatheater?! Hermione are you insane?!” Her face had gone red and her hands hung in the air in outrage. I composed myself and replied:
“First off, Draco is his name
Ginny. I can call him that surely. Second, he is a former
Deatheater. He hates his past and wants to change. He wants to be a better person and he wants ME to help him try. Third, I feel safe around him. He is NOT the Deatheater you and the boys label him to be Ginny. He is a PERSON! A HUMAN WIZARD just like YOU and me. Draco is my friend
and you should respect that.” I was out of breath by the time I finished; but pulse racing, but I was glad to get it off my chest. True, I might have said more than I first intended to but still.
Ginny’s eyes were bubbling over with rage. I knew undoubtedly that she would tell Harry, who would probably tell Neville, who would definitely tell Luna and I couldn’t let that happen. I’d lost all my friends now, but not Harry, I needed
Harry. He knew me better than anyone; our muggle backgrounds were something that we shared with each other and complained about the most. He was the closest male I’d ever had in my life apart from my dad. I couldn’t lose him too. But Ginny was bound to turn him against me. She had him wrapped around her fingers…my internal thoughts were interrupted by Ginny screaming in my face. She’d snapped:
“I thought, being you friend
, you might have said something. ANYTHING!
I know that Ron and Harry are and will always be your closest friends, even though you can’t stand Ron right now. You were willing to be with Harry when he had to DIE for Merlin’s sake! But as your closest GIRL friend, one might have thought you had an ounce
of trust in me! Clearly I was wrong about you Hermione. CLEARLY I WAS WRONG!” Tears were streaming down her face and she was shaking. I’d hurt her so badly and I didn’t even mean to. I didn’t know she would take it as hard as she did.
“Ginny…I’m sorry. I didn’t know you would take it that hard…I, I know you don’t understand but if you gave me 5 minutes to explain mine and Draco’s friendship-“
“Save it Granger,” that stung, she was referring to me as another person she just knew “his family could have KILLED you and he just stood there and watched. I know, you showed me your memories remember? Or did you do that with everyone you spoke to? Call me stupid, but I wouldn’t call that,
or THIS for that matter, a friendship. I don’t even know who you are anymore Hermione.” She walked away from me and Faith, who was standing near us not really sure what to do, and sat on the sofa staring intensely at the roaring flames; like she was trying to burn the memory of what had just happened. It clearly didn’t work and she sank back on the sofa and closed her eyes.
I could feel myself tearing apart. All of my friendship ties were slowly and painfully being cut infront of my eyes and I tried desperately to grasp on to the falling shreds of love and memories I had once shared with Ginny, Ron, Luna and Neville. I felt so empty as the last remaining memories slipped through my tear soaked hands and onto the ground where they would be trampled on by people who didn’t even know they were there. I ran from the common room, desperate to find Harry before breakfast and before Ginny could speak to him. He needed to hear this from me; it might soften the blow and it might save our friendship. I ran past Ginny who was now being comforted by Lavender.
I ran through Fred’s Corridor without realising, dodging several lost looking 1st years and depressed looking Peeves. I continued round the corner, heading towards the stairs by the Great Hall where two of my most precious memories of the war still lingered. It was on these stairs where Ron had braced me under his arms to protect me from Nagini and it was also where Harry had told us he had to die in order to win. I stopped dead half way down the stairs and dropped onto the floor. I sat against the wall and uncontrollable sobs escaped my mouth and giant tears fell from my eyes. They landed on my school skirt as I hung my head in my hands. It was all too much; memories were still raw, friendships were torn apart and I felt alone. I remembered what Draco had told me: “Everything keeps breaking.” For once, I knew exactly how he was feeling. My tears fell harder as I thought of Draco and just how similar we had become.
Footsteps coming from the direction of the Great Hall made my ears prick. I hoped it was Harry; I could really use one of his hugs right now. I wiped the tears from my face, but some small tears still continued to fall. The footsteps got closer but I turned away, realising they weren’t solid enough to be Harry’s. The footsteps made their way up the stairs, but stopped near me. I didn’t look up until the voice spoke directly to me:
“Granger…I mean Hermione? Are you alright? What are you doing on the stairs?”
I lifted my head slowly to see Draco staring down at me, one hand leaning on the wall, his eyes fixed on me. His face seemed alien to me and I realised it was because he was wearing an emotion of concern; something I’d never seen him do before.
“Oh, er Draco. I’m not er, no I’m not alright. I’ve had a fight with Ginny. Someone told her they saw us together last night. Now I know she’s gonna tell Harry and I can’t lose him as well. You and he are the only friends I have left.” I wasn’t going to rat out Faith, after all, it wasn’t entirely her fault. I stared up at Draco, his eyes cold and hard as he stared past me.
“Hermione,” he eventually said looking back at me, “you need to know that I’m not a good person…I’ve still got Deatheater in my blood.” He whispered the word Deatheater
, “It’s not a good idea for you to go around thinking I’m your…friend.” He struggled to say the word. I was confused:
“But Draco, I thought you said you wanted to change; that you wanted my help. People who help you are your friends! If I’m not your friend, how can I help you?”
He looked strained. He was clearly searching for the correct response. He relaxed after a moment and knelt down in front of me. My body went uncontrollably weak as my eyes met his and I was lost in the tortured and frightened soul I could see in them. Had he not blinked, I wonder now, if I would have ever had heard his reply:
“Have you eaten yet?” I shook my head, “Ok, then go eat breakfast and I’ll see you in Transfiguration at 9 and then we’ll go to the Room of Requirement, like we arranged. We’ll talk there. Here is too public right now. I still have a rep to keep up amongst the Slytherins. If they found out I was having an actual conversation with you where I wasn’t insulting you or Potter or Weaslebee, I don’t even want to think what might happen.”
“Alright Draco, I trust you-“
“Don’t.” he cut me off.
“Ok, but you know what I meant. I’ll see you in Transfiguration at 9”
He nodded once and helped me to my feet. I fixed my blotchy tear stained face with my wand and we went our separate ways. I got to the large doors and entered the hall behind a large group of 3rd year Ravenclaw boys. I scanned the Gryffindor table and my heart sunk as I saw Ginny deep in conversation with Harry and the others. She must have come across the courtyard as I was talking to Draco. Harry noticed me staring and gave me a look of disappointment and sadness. He was hurt that I hadn’t trusted him either and I hated hurting Harry. More so than Ron and Ginny, because Harry had been through so much hurt, I couldn’t bear to make it worse. Ginny saw him looking at me and scowled back the same look of sadness, but with added anger.
For the first time since my first day, I sat with people I didn’t know, didn’t talk to them and ate quickly and quietly. Small, silent tears traced my cheeks as I thought how it hurt too much for words to be dumped by my friends.
I waited until the last minute to walk to Transfiguration. I worried all the way there, about the looks that Ginny might send me or the things that Ron might say, or the pain that radiated off Harry. Ginny, now a 7th year, usually sat next to me but as I got closer, I could see that Lavender had already filled my spot in the group; smirking cosily in my seat. Merlin I hated her.
Ginny, Ron and Lavender didn’t even attempt to make eye contact with me and Harry still looked hurt and disappointed. I wasn’t ready to accept the guilt they were trying to place on my shoulders; I’d done nothing wrong. They were stewing in their own anger and I had to let them and show them what I was doing was right.
I walked past Ravenclaw Joe Alex who gave me a warm smile. At least someone still liked me! I sat down at the only empty table I could see; unfortunately it was in front of Goyle and, wait, was that Parkinson he was sitting next to? Draco’s girlfriend? I shook it out of my mind and started to get my books out.
Someone coughed to get my attention. I looked up to see Draco standing over me, smirking:
“In my seat Granger, Move over.” I sighed heavily, stuck my tongue out and shifted all of my books and ink over. There were gasps and mutters from Goyle and Parkinson and several other students as he sat down next to me. “Oh shut up you lot” he hissed at them, “There are no spare seats seeing as her ‘friends’ have abandoned her for trying to stand up for what’s right” He glared at my old friends. I looked over at Ron, Ginny, Lavender and Harry from under my hair. Their stares were so cold, full of disbelief and disgust. I snapped my eyes to the front, desperate to avoid them. Thankfully Professor McGonagall arrived from the door behind her desk and lesson started.
I don’t remember much of what happened in that lesson apart from all the staring. Draco was staring at me until I caught him and the same happened when I was staring at him. He was so focussed when he worked…Ron, Ginny and Harry stared at us, Lavender stared at Ron and Pansy stared at the back of Draco’s head. All lesson.
Eventually McGonagall dismissed us and Draco and I set off for the Room of Requirement in different directions, neither of us stopping to talk to anyone. I got to the wall before him and waited for his graceful footsteps to resonate down the corridor. I couldn’t control the jump in my chest when I heard him. I thought of a private common room and the door appeared. I entered first, with Draco following swiftly behind once he knew the coast was clear.
The room was beautiful. Hung on the walls were black and silver embossed stripes of velvet wallpaper, sprinkled with portraits of the grounds through the years. The fireplace was lit, perfect for a cold October morning, and a soft black sofa sat facing it. I sat down on it and gazed around the room some more. There were a desk and two chairs near the room high window that overlooked the lake. I noticed Draco go over to the chilled cupboard (like a fridge just not as muggle) and bring out two Butterbeer’s. He handed me mine before walking over to the huge window and staring out blankly on to the lake. He’d removed his jacket so the light streaming in accented his well-defined torso…I shook my head in an attempt to forget how I just described him. Draco was a friend…a friend.
“Is something wrong?” He’d walked over to the fire but stood looking at me, a slight air of concern on his face.
“Oh, no, I thought a fizzlebee flew in my hair, but I reckon it was just an ordinary muggle world fly” I lied and smiled at him, desperate to stop thinking Draco could be more than my friend.
Hi ignored it and came and sat down next to me on the sofa. His shirt pulled tight over his stomach muscles as he sat and the scent of cauldron smoke wafted from his hair. I loved it.
“So Ginny found out huh?” he asked.
I nodded, “But Draco, we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here for you. So, er, talk.”
He looked blank for a moment; I thought he was trying to find the right place to start.
“Why were you so angry in potions yesterday? You practically froze out your own girlfriend and then today, she was sat with Goyle of all people…”
He put his hand up, cutting me off.
“That’s not something we need to talk about. But, do tell me Hermione…do you ever get angry?” He didn’t give me a chance to reply, “Is there someone you know you shouldn’t be with or think about because of the things they do to your emotions? They make you so angry that even their scent pisses you off? So angry that sometimes…” he got up and wandered back to the window and lifted his hands to the brick either side of him “that sometimes even though they drive you insane, it hurts more to be away from them?”
I pondered for a moment, wondering if he wanted me to reply. In my head I recalled the months I’d spent hiding with Harry last year; worrying over Ron’s safety, constantly worrying if he was ever coming back to us. I remembered being so angry at him, why would he leave me?! But something told me this wasn’t like what Draco was feeling. Someone was drawing him closer to them and he knew it was a bad thing, but he couldn’t help it, he was falling for them. Even though I hated to admit it, I dawned on me that I felt like that for Draco. Even in the short space between him calling me a mudblood and us sitting in this room together, Draco had been my every thought, my every breath. But I wasn’t ready to let him know.
A loud bang snapped me out of my internal monologue. Draco had slammed his fists against the brick with a grunt. He turned back to face me, his eyes were red like he was fighting back tears. I was witnessing a whole new side to Draco; a vulnerable side, and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it.
He came back to the sofa and slumped down next to me, eyes closed, head slumped on the back of the seat. His arms lay limp at his sides.
I felt such a pang of sympathy for him. He was such a broken body, the result of years of stress and responsibility that was piled on top of him against his will. His poor soul was at its limit and he was surrendering to his emotions, letting them carry him passively along life. He was too mentally exhausted to fight back.
Without really thinking, I moved my hand to him and stroked the soft blonde hairs on his arm. I placed my hand on his and whispered “it’s ok Draco, I’m here for you”. He said nothing in reply, but, keeping his eyes closed, moved his hand out from under mine, placed it back on top and interlocked our fingers. I smiled.
It was then I realised that it might be ME who made him angry, that it was me who was pulling his soul in a different direction; towards the light, and he was having trouble letting go of his past. His heart wanted to change but his head was screaming not to. I couldn’t stop my chest doing back flips, knowing that he might like me back! My heart was beating so loud I feared he could hear it. But Draco just smiled, ever so slightly, as I responded with a gentle squeeze of our fingers.
There are a lot of emotions that run through one’s head when they realise they are falling for someone they shouldn’t; mainly warnings of danger, alarms going off, telling them they should run away before they get hurt. That’s what was running through my head as I sat there, watching Draco’s chest move gently up and down. But I ignored the warning signs, ignored the alarm bells, and fell further and further for Draco.
What happened next, no one could have prepared me for: Draco sat up gently and lent into me, our faces within touching distance. I stared at his eyes and he at my lips. “Merlin you make me angry Hermione,” He whispered.
“We shouldn’t be doing this,” I replied in a whisper, closing my eyes.
“And that’s exactly why we should,” He breathed in my ear “I warn you, I’m dangerous”
“Just go with it” I replied softly. He chuckled lightly and then touched his soft, poisonous lips to mine. I was his prisoner.
Hey guys, thanks to those who are avid readers! I hope I'm providing what you want :D What do you think of the kiss?! Do you think Draco can be trusted? I'm writing chapter 4 at the moment, but it's my birthday on the 26th and we're celebrating all weekend, so be patient! Keep those reviews coming! Love and magic, MJ22 xxx