Chapter 31 : Love is Just a Word
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Potions was even better. The cauldrons bubbled and Hermione’s Amortentia bubbled away at such a potent level that every time an invigilator walked by they ended up sniffing the liquid and leaving with a stupid grin on their faces.
So N.E.W.T exams drew to a close and Hogwarts life changed. Arithmancy and Runes were the last two exams on the Friday, two weeks before term ended. An end of term party had been organised in the common room that night but Hermione couldn’t think about that. She also couldn’t think about the fact that Draco had surprised her that morning with good luck flowers and kiss. He had made her feel so much better.
“After your meeting with the publishers we can meet at the party and celebrate,” Draco said pushing a loose hair from Hermione plat behind her ear, “I might even be able to sneak in a good bottle of wine,” he had joked.
Hermione had kissed him back, “looking forward to it,” she had beamed.
Then he had lifted her head towards his and looked her straight in the eyes.
“I love you Hermione, don’t ever forget that.” And he had simply turned and walked away leaving Hermione swooning where she stood.
But she was on her last Runes question and she could not think about how Draco made her feel amazing; she had to concentrate on a translation. Pushing all other thoughts from her mind Hermione scribbled down the last answer and placed her quill on the table, blowing the ink slightly to dry it. With quick eyes she scanned over the paper not once but three times to check every answer and description was correct and spelt right before the bell at the front of the great hall rang and there were groans of appreciation around the whole room.
The last exam was over; the seventh year was officially over! Hogwarts was done and for Hermione it felt like a relief a blessing and a terrifying realisation all at once. To go from not thinking she would survive the week over a year ago to being back at Hogwarts taking exams and now she was finished and had to go into the real world. It was overwhelming and the fact she had that life to live though it was more than she could ask but there was so much expectation from everyone to live that life well.
Hermione was the first out of the hall but was unable to stay to congratulate Ernie, Hannah and Pansy, the only other three to take the exam. Instead she hurried off towards McGonagall’s study where Hermione was to meet with an agent and a publisher.
She was nervous, of course she was nervous she was about to walk into a room where the fate of a book she had been working on for over half a year was about to be decided. She did not know if they were going to change it or keep it exactly the same, she knew they would want her to work with an editor but to what extent she did not know.
So as she said the password (Quidditch) and made her way up to the heads office she flattened down her hair, smoothed out her robes and clutched tightly onto her schoolbag hoping that this would make her look like she knew what she was talking about.
McGonagall’s familiar ‘come in’ was the answer to Hermione’s knock and as the girl walked in she could see that the head had set up a small round table at the back of the office underneath a window. There were five chairs and four of them were occupied. One was taken by McGonagall herself and sitting on the other three were obviously the agent, the publisher and maybe the editor?
Hermione walked over and introduced herself to each member who in return gave her their names and occupation. The first person Hermione shook hands with was her agent, a man of about thirty dressed in dark blue robes. His face was kind enough but his beard was a little scruffy and his glasses a tad askew but he smiled and introduced himself as Andrew Simmons.
The second person Hermione introduced herself to was the editor. A young woman not much older than Hermione herself with long blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and robes of cream. She smiled and told Hermione her name was Alicia Hayes and that she was ever so pleased to meet one of those who had a hand in bringing down Voldemort when she and her family had had to flee the country due to her mother’s muggleborn status.
The publisher was an older woman with a halo of thick grey curls, glasses that rested halfway down her nose and nails to rival Rita Skeeter. This woman was obviously a long standing friend of McGonagall as when they all sat down and the head poured everyone tea and offered biscuits around it was this woman, Alma Gray, who started the conversation by asking McGonagall if she had seen her brother recently and did she know that her niece had been spotted wedding dress shopping by the woman’s granddaughter.
But of course the chatter eventually died down and the trio who were going to scrutinise Hermione’s book pulled out some papers and began to discuss the plans with her.
“We are thinking a year for the editing process and publicity with a view to publish the first book some time next summer as the big summer read…” Alma said to Hermione.
“First book?” Hermione asked tentatively,
“We have discussed it together and we really think this book would benefit from being split,” Alicia said with a smile, “maybe the first one could be everything up to Voldemort coming back and second covering the years after his return, it really is quite long.”
“If you agree of course,” Andrew said.
Hermione nodded and folded her hands together. They were sweating slightly; she hadn’t realised how nervous she would be.
“Nothing would happen without your permission of course,” Alma stated, “we will give you a list of things we have worked out during this meeting and you will have to think over them, sign off on it and then we can start the real work.”
“With me!” Alicia laughed.
So one by one each person explained what would happen in regards to them and Hermione listened and sometimes inputted her own views. Alicia discussed the editing process and how she would have to meet with Hermione each week and go through the things that needed to be done.
“I think maybe that if we could have more of the original quotes from the interviews you did with Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley then that would be useful, even sections from the interviews themselves.”
Andrew explained that he would be the one who represented her to everyone including the publishers and that he would be the one whole handled the final manuscript.
“We will meet every now and again, talk about how the book is going, if you need extensions, if you wish for anything specific from the publishers. I will be a sort of mediator.”
Alma had the most shocking thing to tell Hermione.
“An advance?” she said surprised.
“Yes,” Alma continued, “an advance of 3,500 Galleons. We know that this book will sell like pumpkin pasties and so we feel no qualms about giving you that much until the royalties come through, which we have a slight suspicion might make you a very rich woman Miss Granger. Everyone is going to want to read the story of he-who-must-not-be-named from the point of view of a trio member.”
“I know plenty of people who would relish in it,” McGonagall said, “I am constantly being as for a first-hand account of Harry’s schooldays. You just might save me the trouble.”
By the end of the interview Hermione had been shocked and pleased at the results. All she had to do was sign the contract she now carried in her bag and her book would be on its way to flourish and blotts bookshop and Hermione would be a published author. She almost skipped back to the common room.
The party was in full swing when she stepped through the portrait and Hermione couldn’t help notice that there was a large punchbowl on one of the tables that obviously had some sort of alcohol in it. People were dancing around to some wizard band on the radio and strangely George was standing in the corner of the room demonstrating new Weasley products to groups of students, which Hermione noted were not all seventh year. There were those from fifth year and up and they were making a lot of noise.
“Don’t worry,” Ginny’s voice sounded behind her, “George put up loads of protective spells, we won’t get caught.”
“What about him,” Hermione laughed watching the older Weasley as he handed out merchandise at an obviously discounted rate.
“Oh McGonagall knows he’s here,” Ginny shrugged, “he said he had something very important to deliver to Ron and I. To be honest I think she knows about the party.”
“She told me earlier to make sure the house elves didn’t have too much work to do in the morning,” Harry said sidling up to the two and handing Hermione a cup of punch.
She took a grateful sip and gave Harry a quick hug.
“Thanks,” she said, “I needed this!”
“Well you have had the worst day of us all,” Harry laughed, “the two hardest exams of the year and a meeting in the heads office.”
“How did it go?” Ginny asked as the three migrated into the corner of the room and settled into the armchairs, Hermione in one and Ginny curled into Harry’s lap on the other.
“Alright, my exams went better than I thought they would and the meeting, well I have a contract to sign…” she trailed off, dipping into her bag and pulling the parchment out, handing it for the two to read.
“Wow, that’s a huge advance Hermione,” Harry said.
“I know, I don’t quite know what to say about it, they said I would get royalties too.”
“Oooh, so Hermione’s going to be rich too,” winked Ginny.
“Unless no one buys it.”
“Yeah likely Mione. A book about Voldemort from the point of view of one of those who helped kill him who is best friends with the boy who lived/chosen one/head of the golden trio etcetera. Of course people are going to buy it. It will fly off the shelves.”
“Maybe people will stop asking me questions,” Harry said gazing into the bottom of his cup and draining the last few drops, “What exactly was the last thing Dumbledore said to you Harry, do you think he was wrong to keep things from you for so long, how many times in your life have you survived him… It gets old.”
“They are always going to be interested in you Harry,” Hermione said, “you killed the greatest dark wizard of all time. That isn’t something that just goes away.”
“It might do if I have more punch,” he laughed with wide mischievous eyes that he used to get in those first few years when they planned to sneak out at all hours.
He lifted Ginny off his lap and placed her back in the chair leaving the two girls alone while he went to get another drink. Hermione took another sip. She had no idea what was in it but it was potent. Careful she put in on the table next to her and drew her knees into her chest.
Ginny was swigging her drink down and gazing after her boyfriend as he spoke to Dean and Seamus.
“How many of those have you had Gin,” Hermione asked as the girl emptied the cup.
“Erm…three, maybe four,” she giggled.
“Maybe you should slow down....”
“Don’t be a spoil sport Mione, besides I’m leaving soon anyway.”
“Harry is sneaking us down to the lake in his invisibility cloak…to the willow…where no one will see us…” Ginny winked.
“Okay, enough information, I don’t need to know anything else.”
Hermione looked around the common room and tried to spot Draco but he was nowhere to be seen but when she turned to ask Ginny if she had seen him the girl had gone across the room, grabbed another drink and was now snogging the face off Harry. So where was Draco? He had said he would meet her.
Getting up Hermione made her way through the crowd and saw that Ron had made himself comfortable between Seamus and George playing some sort of wizarding party game that she had never seen before which involved drinking cups of punch and trying to defend themselves from spells in the process without spilling a drop. George was winning, Seamus was losing, badly.
Hermione crept away from the party and tried to make her way to her room but she was stopped when a strong hand caught onto her arm. It was warm and sent shivers along her skin. She turned around expecting to see Draco but finding Dean alone with her in the corridor.
“Are you alright Hermione,” he asked stroking his thumb across the skin of her arm in a highly inappropriate but spine tingling way. Since when had Dean Thomas made her spine tingle.
“I’m fine I’m just looking for…” she stopped herself realising that Dean still didn’t know.
“Ginny’s back in there,” he said guessing, “but she’s a little occupied.”
“Yeah, I saw,” Hermione said turning to walk away but Dean was persistent and walked with her.
“I know you have had a tough year, well not as tough as last year but…”
“I know what you mean,” thinking about how Dean had lied to Madame Pomfrey so Hermione wouldn’t get into trouble when she had attack Ron with the stunning spell.
“Listen Hermione,” Dean said as they stopped at Hermione’s door, he pulled her around to face him. “I have to say this while I have something in my system or I will never say it…”
Hermione’s stomach plunged and she knew what was coming. Dean was going to tell her and Hermione didn’t know what she was going to do. Her heart was pounding.
“No,” he said, “I have to say this before we leave; I might never see you again and well… Hermione what Ron did to you this year, you didn’t deserve any of that and whoever this prince charming is…he doesn’t deserve you if he hasn’t got the guts to come out and admit who he is…”
“I like you Hermione,” Dean said quickly before Hermione could finish her sentence.
They both fell silent and Hermione simply looked at her friend not knowing what she should do or if she should say anything and he was looking back, looking back as if he were about to kiss her…
“Ach hem,” the cough came from behind them and Hermione blushed pink when she looked around to see Draco standing a few feet from them.
Dean looked from Hermione to Draco and back to Hermione and then took a step back.
“I need to speak with Hermione, Head boy business,” he spat and Hermione flinched at the steely tone in his voice. Something was wrong.
“Of course,” Dean said before turning to Hermione, “Think about what I said.”
He walked away, glancing back at the pair every now and again before he disappeared back into the common room. Hermione opened her bedroom door and Draco followed her in closing it shut behind him a little too viciously. Hermione’s pulse raced with nerves.
“That was weird,” Hermione laughed nervously sitting on her bed and looking up at her boyfriend.
“Hermione,” he said in the deadpan voice he used before the war. Something was defiantly wrong.
“Draco what’s wrong,” she asked getting up and going over to him but he just pushed her away and stared at her straight in the eye.
“This isn’t working.”
Hermione’s heart stopped and the world slowed completely. Had he just said that? Had he really just said that?
“It is over Hermione. It is not working.”
“What, no,” Hermione cried tears pricking at the corner of her eyes and starting to stream down he face before she could stop them. Draco was breaking up with her. Why was he breaking up with her?
“Yes,” he said stilling looking at her, not one flicker of emotion passing across his face, “I don’t love you.”
“No!” Hermione shouted, “no you’re lying.”
The tears fell quicker and Hermione had to sit back down on the bed as sobs broke through her body. He didn’t love her?
“Yes I have been lying. I have never loved you…I used you, to get closer to Harry, to find out things that I could never have known without being close to a girl like you.”
Hermione couldn’t answer, she simply sobbed into her hands. He was lying. He had to be lying. It had been true he had loved her she knew it because she loved him. She loved him so much and now she was leaving him.
“It is over Hermione, I’ m leaving tonight. Don’t contact me; don’t ask people where I have gone. Forget I existed or it will be all the worse for you.”
Draco turned to leave the room but Hermione leapt from the bed and grasped onto his arm.
“No Draco you’re lying. You love me I know you do,” she sobbed, “I love you, please don’t do this. Tell me why you are doing this!”
“I have never loved you,” he snapped pushing her away from him so she landed on the floor.
“Please, you are…”
“I have never been your Romeo Hermione and I never can be,” he spat, “Goodbye Hermione Granger.”
When Hermione looked up from the floor Draco had left the room and Hermione was left alone, sobbing, confused and hurt with shock running through her veins. She had to go after him. She had to ask him why he had done this. She didn’t believe he didn’t love her. Something had happened, she needed to know why.
Getting up from the floor Hermione burst from her room and into his but he was gone and so was everything that he owned. Everything was gone. She rushed out and down the corridor into the common room but between the people there and the tears in her eyes Hermione couldn’t see him. She saw Ginny.
“Hermione what’s wrong,” she cried when the girl ran up to her and flung her arms around her neck.
“Have you seen Draco,” she asked.
“Yeah he just left the common room, why have you had a fight?”
But Hermione didn’t stay to answer her friend’s question. Instead she fled the party and barrelled out of the common room, not stopping to apologise when she knocked Dean into the wall. She had to find Draco. She had to know why he had done this to her. Why he had told her he didn’t love her when he did. She knew he did. She felt he did and she loved him enough to run after him and find the answer.
“Draco,” Hermione called as she rushed through the corridors, searching hoping he had not left completely. Where was he going? Why had he done this to her?
She stopped suddenly at a window and saw Draco leaving the front doors of the castle, leading his trunk behind him, his wand in his right hand. She had to get to him. She had to make him see. He couldn’t leave her, he couldn’t tell her that he didn’t love her.
Quickly Hermione thundered down the stairs, flying past a few prefects who were patrolling the corridor and burst out the front doors, running down the drive of the school and stopping a few meters from where Draco was walking, slowly and laboured as if he were still in pain.
“Malfoy!” she spat.
Draco turned and his eyes widened when he spotted a breathless Hermione with her robes falling from her shoulders showing the pink shirt she was wearing underneath. Her hair had caught in the wind and her face was flushed with fury and tears.
“Granger,” he replied, a cool edge to his voice.
Hermione rushed over to him and yanked the trunk from his hands. His face looked pale but his eyes looked red. Had he been crying? She couldn’t really tell. The only light was from the castle and the moon. It was dark but Draco looked just as heart broken as Hermione felt. Hermione’s heart stopped and the anger leaked away.
“Don’t leave,” she whispered into the night.
“I’m leaving,” he said simply.
“Why?” she asked.
“It is none of your business Hermione,” Draco snapped.
“It’s all of my business, I’m your girlfriend…”
“No you are not!” Draco snapped, “it is over! I told you that. Just go back to the castle.”
Draco grabbed his trunk and started walking away but Hermione stopped him and dragged him around to face her, kissing him hard on the lips. At first she thought that he was going to push her away but his hands quickly snaked around her waist and he was kissing her back. There was such an urgency to him, such a passion that Hermione ended up terrified. He pulled away from her and rested his forehead against her, breathing a little heavier than he had before.
“Don’t do this to me,” he whispered.
“Don’t leave,” Hermione said.
“I have to,” he replied closing his eyes and letting a tear drip onto Hermione’s skin.
“Then tell me where you are going,” she begged.
“I can’t Hermione, please, it is over, it has to be over. I…I don’t love you.”
“You do,” Hermione said, “I know you do.”
“Love is just a word Hermione.”
“No, you are lying. You love me just like I love you. Please Draco.”
Draco didn’t answer, just held her tight and kissed her face gently and quickly. When he kissed her lips he lingered and brushed her hair away from her face.
“Don’t follow me.”
Turning on his heel Draco picked up his trunk and started to walk down the drive. Hermione wanted to run after him again, to make him stop but he reached the gates too soon and apparated as soon as the grounds would let him. Draco Malfoy was gone and Hermione didn’t know if she would see him again.
Her Romeo had died and all that was left was for her to follow him into the afterlife.
Read and review. I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Only the epilouge left and then the sequel 'chasing fate'
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