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Slowly, Then All at Once by helloshelby
Chapter 1 : Chapter One.
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2

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Hermione had felt out of place for a long time, like she was only going through the motions of life. Never truly living, she didn't remember the last time she felt as though she was truly alive. Having emotion take over her and nothing else beside what was happening in that moment matter.

How could she feel that way though? She was to fight Voldemort alongside Harry and Ron, a battle that may not be won and if it was, many lives would lost in the commotion. Maybe even her own, but no she couldn't think of that. She didn't matter, if the war was won but her life lost it was worth it.

She wasn't the one who needed to get though this war, so many people were needed here more than she. Such as Harry, he was needed to defeat Voldemort and afterwards to help the Wizarding World reach peace once more. And Ron needed to be there for his family, Mrs. Weasley would be irrevocably broken if something happen to him and for Harry.

Even though she was apart of the Golden Trio, at times she felt as though she lucked in to being apart of it. If she wouldn't have been in the bathroom when the troll attacked and she wouldn't have told Professor McGonagall she went looking for the troll, she might have never been close with either of them.

At times she felt as though Harry and Ron looked at her a mother. They needed her to take care of them, be there and have all the answers. Harry and Ron were always closer to each other than her, keeping things from her. So if one day she was gone the difference it would make wouldn't be severe.

They would no longer need anyone looking out from them after school and the war. And they would have each other, that could be enough.

Before everyone had thought of her as an annoying, selfish know it all. She was a girl who always wanted to be right and to prove herself. As the years went on and everyone knew that she was fighting beside Harry Potter, The Chosen One, those traits became things to admire, not insults with negative connotation.

How could be a girl helping win the war be selfish? Being always right was important when it comes down to someone getting killed. And Hermione trying to prove herself was looked at as bravery now. To prove she could stand beside Harry and Ron.

But at times she wondered if people would look at her the same way if she was not friends with them. Would she still be seen in a negative light? By her peers she wouldn't be commended as The Brightest Witch of Her Age, she would be snickered at for it.

One of the only people who did snicker at her for it was Draco Malfoy. And she thought as though sometimes he saw her more clearly than the rest did. How many times had he said she studied so much and had to show up everyone to prove she belonged here even though she was a Mudblood.

Which was true, even though she would never let on to that. How could she? Most people would think that getting into one of the best Wizarding school would prove you are more than good enough. But it's not that way, most half blood or pure blood children just expect to go Hogwarts and in some ways things come easier for them. So Hermione studied and worked hard as not to fall behind or have anyone question that she didn't have what it took to be a witch.

Hermione snapped out of her thoughts, she had been questioning too much in her life recently. She was in the library, a place she knew well, it has always been a place where she was never impaired. If people were to be places, Hermione would be a library. Full of knowledge and insight but constantly seeking more.

She couldn't believe she had allowed herself to get distracted here again. Earlier she had come down here to escape spending another afternoon hearing of Quidditch. The boys and she had always disagreed on study habits, but if you look at their grades you will see who has it right.

It was only a month into 6th year but Hermione had already been studying like a fiend. They were taking N.E.W.T. level classes after all, the work was and would be more difficult. And Hermione wanted to make sure she was at the top, especially someone else wanted to bump her down.

That someone was sitting across the library from her, she could see his bright white blonde hair untamed and sticking up a bit. Which was unusual it looked as though he was stressed and pulling up at it. His hair normally looked like he just ran his fingers through it and it was immaculate. Hermione found that rather unfair that a boy could have such nice hair without trying. But she suspected nothing he did was ever without trying, even though he wanted you to believe that façade.

There had been quite a number of changes with her classmate this year, aside from his hair. His body which had always seemed leanly muscled from playing Quidditch now looked lanky and gangly. His face more gaunt, as well his eyes were blank and expressionless. His whole being seemed as though he was perpetually knackered. Draco Malfoy seemed like a shell of his form self.

Hermione caught her thoughts wandering once again, and she realized how much she knew about Draco Malfoy. Evaluating how she knew it all, she came to the conclusion it fit the saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Plus Harry detested Malfoy, and was keen on watching his every move.

Harry thought without a doubt Malfoy was a Death Eater, whereas Hermione had her reservations about believing it. She hoped that just because Draco was a bigot didn't mean he could be a murderer as well.

She tried to look for good in everyone, even the boy who had made her cry herself to sleep in her early years. And over the years Malfoy's words had less venom in them.

Hermione shook her head as if to clear out all the thoughts and stared down at her Ancient Ruins book. After a few minutes of skimming the pages and jotting down notes, she yawned and felt a wave of exhaustion come over her.

Maybe she would head back to the Common Room, spend some time just relaxing or she could even take a nap. Something she hadn't done since childhood but recently she had been having a bad case of insomnia.

Other than Malfoy and Voldemort, she had recently had a breakup with Ron. Everyone was so surprised by it, she wasn't though, they were fundamentally incompatible. And she never knew it more till it was over, Ron reacted badly to say the least. She realized she needed to be with someone whose maturity level didn't match a five year old.

Thank Merlin however that five years forgets things quickly so Ron had been acting normal around her now. Even Harry was always trying to drop hints. Harry couldn't see Hermione's side with this, he was his best mate and Hermione liked him before why couldn't it work out?

She was resigned to go back to the Common Room, she gathered her books, parchment and other accoutrements. She got everything stuffed in to her bag, and preceded to leave the library. She was stopped on her way out though by Malfoy and she couldn't help but roll her eyes.

He was just standing in front of doors leading out gazing at something upon the wall. She thought as she approached he would realize and move but he did not. Being so close to him without him knowing she was there was odd, the expression on his face was she had never seen before.

He looked vulnerable and afraid, like a child who needs their mother but she is nowhere to be found. But still she wanted him to move, she wanted to get back to the tower and she was impatient. The Hermione most people saw would have sat back down and waited for him to go. But she was not that way truly, she tapped her foot hoping he would get the message. He didn't, he was lost in his own world just as she had been before.

She readied herself to ask him to move, he would probably make some snarky comment. She brought herself to her full height which was still at least a foot shorter than him.

"Excuse me, could I please get by?" She asked cautiously.

He acted as though he hadn't heard her for a moment but then slowly turn a scowl on his face.

"Oh yes, Granger. I forgot no one can hold up the Golden Trio when such important work is to be done. Especially when it is the brains, tell me how do the two morons manage to suck air into their faces without you?" He arched his eyebrows and the smirk he was known for now adorned his face.

She wasn't surprised this is what she had anticipated, over the years she had come to expect nothing less.

"For your information Malfoy, I am just trying to get back to my dorm but your great form was in my way. And I just need you to shove over a few feet for me to get by. Or snap out of your little world where you rule and get through the door." She snaps back at him, her voice getting more shrill with each word.

He just stared at her, normally she was with the boys and didn't need to assert herself. Of course, he could never forget how in third year she slapped him right across the face. But since then Weasel and Scarhead normally fought her battles.

Then he walked through the door but stopped shortly in front of it and motioned his hands as if to guide her through it. She huffed and made her way out of the library and started down the corridor.

He trailed close behind her, and she could feel her breath become short. What is in Merlin's name does he want, she thought to herself. She slowly turned her head and looked at him with a puzzled expression.

"What now, Granger? I can't even walk down the same corridor as you without you getting your knickers in a twist." Malfoy snapped the bite in his voice was obvious.

"No, Malfoy. I just am surprised you would want to breathe the same air as someone so beneath you." She retorted, she choked out his name the distaste evident.

"Maybe, I don't feel that way anymore, Granger. I might have realized that there are more important things than blood status." His voice rose, and swelled with anger.

They were all alone in the corridor, no one could hear him as he continued.

"Especially when the reason why I believe it was because of my father yet he serves a man who is a half blood. Does his bidding and puts not only his own life on the line but mine as well." He was shouting by this point.

The words were flooding from Draco's mouth before he had the time to process what he was saying. As well as whom he was saying it to. He had been at the breaking point for too long, at least he wasn't breaking in front of Potter. Although he was sure his enemy would hear of it.

"I have more important things to worry about such as my own fucking life than walking next to a Mudblood. I don't give a shit. You have always beaten me in classes anyways, your blood has nothing to do with it."

Hermione didn't know what to say, by this point Malfoy was shaking with fury.

"I never have to try to anything in my life before I came here and I was still the best. Of course though I am a Malfoy and we are superior. That was the first thing I was taught when I was able to comprehend anything." He stopped taking breath in before starting again.

"I expected everyone at this school to think I was the best as well. For everything to come easy to me, it always had. But no I am beat in every class by a Mudblood. And in Quidditch by the boy wonder." He spat out every word.

His head dropped as he realized all he had just realized what he had just said. The cogs were churning in Hermione's head, as what he just said to her sunk in.

She looked him, and he felt as though pity was written across her face.

"Oh what Granger, are you going to find a way to fix me, make me better? Isn't that what you are best at?" Malfoy said, his façade back into place.

"But like I said Granger, maybe it doesn't matter to me anymore. I don't care what kind of blood you have. When the war goes on and blood is shed it will all be the same." He murmured as he inched closer to her.

She drew in her breath as he approached, she had no idea what would happen next. Her thoughts darted back to what he said about her fixing him. She disgusted with the idea, no one could fix anyone. She firmly believed that. All these stupid girls running around Hogwarts trying to change and fix boys was idiotic.

"I can't fix or save you, only you can do that for yourself." She stated firmly, he chuckled under his breath.

"Save me, Granger? I know you are the Golden Girl but you should be able to see I'm far past that."

She shook her head in disagreement and he looked surprised.

"Anyone can save themselves you just have to be willing to change. Ask for help and work hard till things are different. Till you can see a light, a difference."

"That's where you're wrong, Granger." He said, he was close to her now she could feel his breath as he spoke.

"There will never be a light for me, I live in the darkness, it's where I belong. And no matter how much I don't want to, it's where I will stay." He stated and then back away from her.

And he left, quickly, not turning back. She hadn't moved she was still shocked by what had happen between the two of them. Her heart was thumping in her chest, she was perplexed. Her thoughts were swimming about what had just gone on.

She realized she had just felt truly alive though, the only thing that matter in that moment was what went on. And she then realized that Draco Malfoy needed help. There was a war coming and she felt like he could be swayed to the right side.

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