Chapter 1 : 19th December
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It had all started when Hermione woke up on the 19th of December. It had been a good week for her; she hadn't put Harry in a bad mood all week, and she was determined not to ruin it.
She yawned thoughtfully and rubbed her eyes. She loved waking up to the warm feeling of the rising sun through her opaque curtains. That particular morning, she woke up to a bad start; mainly because it was heavily snowing outside. It hadn't snowed for a while, and she thought it was too early to start snowing; it always snowed after New Years. She loved looking at the snow, but she hated the aftermath of it – the ice was always the worst part. She always found herself lying on the floor after having slipped. She sighed and forced herself to fall out of bed.
"Snowing? In London?" she grumbled to herself. She got dressed and tiredly dragged herself downstairs to he greeted by Harry Potter.
"Morning love," he greeted.
Due to the fact it was at the crack of dawn, and she had not gotten much sleep during the previous night; the sound that came out of Hermione's mouth was inaudible. Hermione's eyes suddenly snapped open in realisation. Every petty thing had its problem to Harry. She hadn't meant to make the noise, Harry got annoyed at the littlest things that weren't perfect. After the war, the blow had really hit him; he had nothing left except for his best friends. For this reason, even Ginny had left him for Blaise, and Hermione got trapped into his tangled web.
"Sorry Harry-" She suddenly cried. Harry merely looked at her despicably. Her eyes were filling up. Harry looked angry. Her eyes were suddenly cautious and she instantly knew she had made him angry. She hadn't meant to. His face had a mixed number of emotions, she hadn't thought about what she was saying; especially in the mornings.
"So, I was in a happy mood today, until youdecided to spoil it," he spat in her face. She tried to argue with him, but she found it of no use. She had tried in the past, but failed; tried and depressingly enough - failed.
Hermione wanted to tell someone. She really did, but she loved him too much and her heart wouldn't give into it. Over the past few years, Hermione had gotten used to the physical abuse. It was the verbal and mental abuse that hurt. When he called her names Ron wouldn't have dreamt of speaking aloud, the physical pain didn't matter. Her pride and sanity were slowly ripping apart, bit by bit; and she couldn't do anything about it. Because she claimed she was a coward.
Harry usually came home drunk, he would always warn her that he was going for after-work drinks with his friends, but she knew what he was doing. Oh, she perfectly well knew it. He was cheating on her - with drunken, vulnerable and gold digging women. She didn't like the current situation; she could have gone straight to Ron about it. But no, even after the same daily pattern of shouting matches, drunken and abusive Harry, the building insanity that threatened to engulf her for three years, she still hadn't had the heart to tell Ron.
Her best friend -Ronald Weasley- the person who completely understood her.
But no; she was a coward. An insane, insecure and vulnerable coward.
At work later that day, she sulked; she sulked of the pain that Harry had inflicted on her this morning. She had been careful as to avoid Ron, because Ron would soon question her about her empty, pale face and her red, swollen eyes from hours of crying. If she bumped into Harry, oh Merlin she had hoped not, he would have misunderstood, and she was back to the beginning again. The pain and the emptiness.
She decided to miss lunch and carry on her work in the Department Of Magical Law Enforcement, as she thought it would take her mind off things. She swivelled in her chair and stared blankly at the mint coloured wall. Minutes had passed, wasted staring at the blank wall. Strangely the mint-green wall reminded her of herself; blank, expressionless and bland. Mixed emotions flooded her mind: she was worried of the consequences if she told someone. A sudden knock sounded on her door.
"Come in," She said, with no power in her drained voice. Malfoy's voice filled the room.
"I have the files for the Walton case, if you find any mistak-" Silence abolished them both. Hermione could feel his grey eyes boring into the back of her head.
"Thank you," She replied, blankly and with no sign of emotion in her voice. He had not moved, and Draco swore he heard a penny drop in the Department of Mysteries; three floors down.
"Is everything okay Granger?" He asked, with lack of sarcasm in his voice. It was unusual for Malfoy to concern about anyone but himself.
Hermione wanted to tell him 'No, nothing is okay; my mother has cancer, my so-called boyfriend is abusing me, my best friend is suspicious about the current situation and to top it all off, the work load is killing me'. But no, Hermione couldn't bring herself to say it. Every time she concluded that she had given up on something, a tiny part of her pride broke off. Hermione remembered the time when she was young and careless. But those times were long gone.
Draco just stared at her silent tears and sobs as he wore a blank expression. He turned to leave, stopped for what seemed a moment and quietly shut the door behind him.
He knew something was up, as much as he hated Saint Potter, Weasel and Granger, something was up between them. He could sense it and he for one, was going to find out exactly what. He thoughtfully scanned the possibilities in his mind; the most reasonable ones were either: Weaselby and Saint Potter had died or she was putting up an act. The last one seemed a bit out of the question, as long as he had known Granger; she would never do something like that. So in the end, he decided to ask her face to face. The first one seemed very unlikely; unless Potter decided to get run over by a muggle car between five minutes ago when Draco saw him, and now.
Hermione thought about that very awkward moment. Malfoy was up to something, and she merely guessed what it was he was after. She wouldn't cave in, Malfoy definitely wouldn't be the first person to find out, and it would obviously by Ron. She trusted him with her life, and she would never regret that choice.
Moments later, she decided to read the case files Draco had brought in only seconds before. Sadly, they were perfect. She groaned in annoyance. There was no mistake written in them. She needed a reason to shout at someone, and she secretly hoped it would be Ferret. She silenced yet again, and propped her head in her hands. Another knock echoed around the door, and the unmistakable sound of the door handle turning was ringing in her head. It was like nails scratched on a blackboard to her, any unusual sound made, made her want to scream n frustration. She seemed to only want silence in the past few months. Ron entered and Hermione jerked her head up. She rubbed the back of her neck, as the sudden impact hurt her neck.
"You okay?" He asked gently. The silence was filled with awkwardness, yet again she wanted rip her hair out in frustration. She nodded and continued staring at the desk. He shut the door behind him softly, and he walked closer to her desk. She gave him an empty glare, which implied to him to leave her alone.
"I'm not leaving until you tell me what's up," he firmly said. Hermione sighed; she knew it was no point arguing back at him.
"I can't say," she replied. She had decided to leave the conversation right there and then. Ron obviously didn't think of the same conclusion. His decision on the other hand was final; he was going to find what was wrong with her. He was her best friend for Merlin's sake. He trusted her to tell him when things were wrong. She usually did, but this was no exception – at all. Hermione sighed; she was backed up in a corner, with no sign of escape. She groaned in ignorance and slowly brought up her head to face Ron staring angrily at her. She knew exactly the reason for his anger; he always trusted her to tell him things he wouldn't have the brains to figure out.
"What do you mean, you can't say?" He asked, still contempt in his anger.
"The words kind of explain themselves, I must say," She replied cynically.
"You're going to tell me... If you don't I'll-" Hermione and Ron both knew it was an empty threat.
"Do what? Tell Harry? Like he would know," Hermione retorted. They both knew the argument was over; this however didn't stop Ron from finding out. He was determined to find out what was wrong, and with his strange way of thinking, he was likely to find out sooner or later. He growled and slammed the door angrily.
After his dramatic exit, Hermione found herself crying. She had no reason why, but she easily concluded that it was because she hated arguing with Ron. She loathed it more than anything, even more than when Ferret called her mudblood. She wished he could feel the pain, but being in one of the most powerful wizarding families around; she found herself hopeless. After a few moments, the tears were ultimately running down her face. She wiped away the tears, but they kept rushing down her face. Slowly sobs started escaping from her mouth and before she knew it, she was crying; crying like the world was going to end within the next few minutes. For her it felt like it, she knew she didn't deserve this treatment, and Merlin; she would trade a lifetime to be rod of the guilt and pain she was feeling. Magic couldn't fix everything, and she only realised that a short while ago.
A few moments later, a memo flew in and she carefully unfolded it.
Come and meet me in Diagon Alley at seven tonight. Don't be late, and don't question me either. Whether you show up or not, that is your decision.
That was unusual. Very unusual, it was nice, but scarily. She stared uneasily at the piece of folded parchment in front of her. Her hands were trembling, and she decided to write back, saying no. Not that she didn't want to go; but because of two reasons: the first reason being Harry would have every right to be extremely suspicious about why she didn't come home on time. Even if she did, she had to get changed, and that would mean unnecessary questioning from Harry. The second reason being that she was suspicious. Why was Malfoy being nice to her? How did she know it wouldn't be set up? She didn't know that at all, but taking risks were better than regretting later on.
With her final decision, Hermione decided to owl Ginny and ignore Malfoy, being one of her best friends. Ron cared, but this was something she couldn't bring herself to tell him. She found a spare piece of parchment and scrawled quickly across the parchment in front of her.
I need to tell you something. Meet me in Diagon Alley, I'll be in disguise; don't ask why and no questions, okay?
Hermione had finally decided to tell her best friend; and nothing was going to stop her. She owled Luna the exact same thing as s Ginny, and finally until she remembered Malfoy's note, cursed under her breath.
Just at the thought of it, her hand was now shaking uncontrollably, and she decided she wouldn't write back until her hand decided to stop shaking repeatedly. She questioned herself: should she go? Was it worth the risk? If she didn't come home, she could easily go over to Luna's across town... That would probably make her life a living hell; it was already, but that would make it worse. Harry would be unavoidable at work, and she knew that. Hermione thought of the consequences, and shuddered at the very image. Hermione was confused, touched, angry, worried, pained and freaked out all at the same time. She hadn't even thought she could feel so much in so little time.
Her life was pretty terrible right now, even Merlin couldn't deny that.
A/N: If you are new to the story, well the name has been changed, because I didn't think the last title fit it that well. It has been edited, and I hope you like it! If you like (or not) please review, it only takes 20 seconds and it would make my day!
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything that is recognizable.