Hermione stumbled through the front door of The Leaky Cauldron and focused on making her feet drag her over to the nearest seat, all the while, silent tears were cascading down her cheeks. She sat on a barstool and buried her head in her hands, shaking from sobbing so hard. She sat there for half an hour at least, just crying. No body disturbed her and nobody asked her if she was ok. And that’s just what she wanted. After what seemed like forever, when she had finally cried all the tears she could, she waved to the barman.
‘Tom? Can I get a Firewhiskey? Just leave the bottle’ she said miserably. Tom handed her a glass and a bottle of liquid that was slightly smoking. Hermione poured herself a glass and downed it in one, not thinking or caring about the burning in her throat. She poured another and another and just as she went to down the fourth glass, she heard a voice she hadn’t heard in 5 years.
‘Blimey Granger, what’s got you so worked up that you’re content with burning a hole through your throat?’
Hermione lowered the glass and turned on the stool. There stood Draco Malfoy. Tall, as blonde as ever, but even more muscular. She noticed how his biceps seemed to barely be contained by his shirt. How his once sleeked back hair was now messy and ruffled up. His grey eyes that were once so cold, now wiser and more experienced.
‘Shut it Malfoy’ she growled, before turning back to her Firewhiskey. She swallowed it down and poured another glass, feeling more than hearing the stool next to her being pulled back and someone sitting on it. She sighed. ‘Why did you have to sit there Malfoy? There are plenty of other seats!’ she said, gesturing around at the now almost empty pub.
‘Yes’ he replied, ‘there are. But you’re sat here and I want to know what’s beat you round the head and knocked your sense out’
She dropped the glass. A gasp. She could feel the tears coming. He didn’t know. He couldn’t have. But he said it. And it hurt when he said it. She got up to leave but he grabbed her arm.
‘Hey! What did I say?’ She turned to look at him, tears evident in her eyes, a purple bruise formed on her left cheekbone. His look of enquiry turned to shock as he realised what he had said. Hermione pulled her hand free and ran through the nearest door, which led to the women’s restroom.
‘Shit’ Draco muttered, appalled that he could have been so stupid and insensitive. He pondered on what he should do for a second before getting up and following her.
‘Malfoy get out of here!! This is the Ladies room!!’ yelled Hermione through her tears. Draco felt a pang of guilt as he looked at her.
‘I know it is. But I wanted to see if you were ok’ he replied, shuffling his feet, hands in his pockets. Hermione scoffed at him.
‘You?!’ she screeched, ‘You don’t care about anyone other than yourself! I remember what you were like at Hogwarts! You bullied me, you teased me, you HATED me!! And now you’re standing here with the audacity to tell me that you CARED if I was alright?! How dare you!’
‘People change Granger. I changed’ He said calmly, looking her in the eye. She scoffed again.
‘People don’t change Malfoy! They always say they will but they never do! It’s all broken promises and wishful thinking! It’s all, ‘I’ll never hurt you’, and then it’s ‘I’m sorry it was a one off’ and you believe them and then it’s every time you walk in the door or every time you move too loudly and it keeps going and going and going until you end up screaming at a guy you haven’t seen in five years in the middle of the girls sodding toilet because he wanted to know if you were ok!!’
Hermione let out a huge sob and fell to the floor. She lay there crying into her hands and shaking uncontrollably. Draco, feeling awkward had no idea what to do. So he went into a cubicle and got a roll of tissue. He carefully walked over to Hermione and crouched down. He handed her the wad of paper and she took it with a trembling hand.
‘I just- I need someone. Someone who cares. Someone who notices when something is wrong. Is that too much to ask? Someone who will just hug me and say ‘everything’s gonna be fine’ and stroke my hair and calm me down,’ sobbed Hermione looking at the floor, tears splashing the dirty tiles. Draco looked down at her and Hermione lifted her head and looked at him. The light grey eyes met the round, watery brown ones and Draco was overwhelmed with the urge to comfort her. But he was scared. Scared of this sudden feeling towards the mudblood girl he hated in school.
‘I uh- I’ll go get you a drink or- or something’ he said, standing up. As he was turning, Hermione grabbed his arm.
‘Please don’t go’ she whispered. ‘Please. Stay with me’. The grey met the brown once more and everything else faded from Dracos mind. All he wanted now was for the girl in front of him to be better.
‘Ok. I’ll stay here’ he said, sitting back down next to her. She leaned into his shoulder, still crying, making his shirt wet. She put her arms around his neck and, without thinking about it, he pulled her onto his lap so she could be more comfortable.
‘Thank you’ said Hermione in a barely audible whisper as she nestled her face deeper into Dracos shoulder, confusing him.
‘N-no problem’ he answered, still unsure of what he should do. Instead, he just did what came naturally. He lifted his hand and began stroking her thick curly hair.
‘It’s ok’ he whispered. ‘I won’t leave you. Everything will be ok’
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