A/N: As always, Hamlet belongs to William Shakespeare and this universe belongs to JK.
Somehow Malfoy managed to reach the dormitory way before I did, considering I didn’t even catch a glimpse of him as I went up the two flights of stairs closest to the entrance of the dormitory. Just as I was about to enter, Harry came around the corner looking more upset than he had been at breakfast.
“Hey, ‘Mione. Can we talk?” Harry inquired, nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot.
“Of course. Is everything okay with Ginny?” I asked worriedly.
“That’s one of things I want to talk to you about. Let’s go down to our tree on the grounds and talk about it,” Harry said. I smiled and nodded, looping my arm through his as we walked down in comfortable silence.
Times like these were why I enjoyed having Harry so much. We were close like brother and sister and that made him extremely dear to me. We talked about all manner of things when it was just the two of us hunting Horcruxes after Ron left, and it strengthened our bond even more. When Harry had told me Ron was interested in me romantically, I was ecstatic. But as we tried to work out our feelings for each other, it grew awkward between us as he expected different things from me than I did from him. About a month after the Battle of Hogwarts—when we’d kissed for the first time—I broke things off with Ron. He just didn’t challenge me enough intellectually and didn’t have the same values and morals I did, causing us to fight a lot.
After we would have a fight, I’d go to Ginny for comfort while he’d go to Harry. Ginny talked some sense into me after our biggest one to date, telling me it was okay if I didn’t want to be with Ron anymore—I didn’t deserve him anyway. She would forgive me because he was a prat who was too thick to understand how girls thought. It ended surprisingly well, most likely due to Ron keeping his temper in check and talking it out calmly with me. I left the Burrow after that and returned home, figuring it would be too uncomfortable for me to stay there now I had no real reason to.
I owled Harry at least three times a week giving him updates on how the search for my parents in Australia was going and Kingsley’s progress on just how exactly he’d have to reverse the Obliviate I’d performed on them. When Kingsley told me he’d found them, I couldn’t wait to see them again, but I was also extremely nervous as to how they’d receive me once they learned what I’d done to protect them. I voiced my concerns to Harry over floo and he apparated to see me immediately.
With Harry, I was able to let my guard down completely, leaving myself bare. I couldn’t hide anything from him for too long before he’d pick up on it and question me about it, helping me work through it or telling me to forget about it. That’s why talks like we were about to have were such integral parts of our lives—we set each other straight and didn’t judge too harshly. We accepted each other for who we were and our actions were treated with equal respect as our feelings were.
Harry jolted me out of my reverie with a slight nudge of his shoulder. We’d reached our tree, an old, wizened willow with low branches wide enough to sit on comfortably, on the hill overlooking the Quidditch Pitch. We brushed aside the curtain of outer leaves to get to the twisted framework of branches. He boosted me up and I hooked my arm around a branch, pulling myself up onto the lowest one and sitting down. I pulled out my wand and levitated Harry up to my level, making sure he’d grabbed onto a branch before I ended the spell.
“Ginny and I had a huge fight the other night in the Gryffindor common room. Ron was still hung over when he went over there and he told Ginny about my so-called ‘activities’ the summer before sixth year. So when I went over there to see her, she blew up at me and basically broke up with me because of her misinterpretation of Ron’s wrong information,” Harry said blithely. “I explained it to her and she calmed down some, but she still won’t talk to me for at least a week. She knows how much I love her and that I didn’t know that yet that summer and I was feeling reckless. The only thing that ever happened was I kissed the waitress at the café I frequented.”
I gave his arm a little squeeze of sympathy. “She’s just worried that you’ll find someone more worthy of the Boy Who Lived’s attention. It’s a common feeling that girls and boys have when they’ve been in a relationship for so long. It’ll pass soon Harry. She knows how you feel and I know she still loves you. She just needs some time to process that it wasn’t always her that you had a crush on. I know she hasn’t forgotten about Cho Chang from fifth year and how practically drooled whenever you saw her,” I replied, smiling and giving him a playful shove.
“Yeah, I definitely do not miss that kissing though. That was just a bad kiss in general for both of us,” Harry chuckled.
“I really think she’s the one though, ‘Mione. When I think about the future, I see Ginny and I with three kids and a house. I love her so much, and I don’t want anything to happen to her. I don’t think Hogwarts is safe. Something feels off about the castle, and I don’t know why. I felt it the moment we stepped off the train. ‘Mione, you need to be extra careful when you or the other Prefects are doing patrols at night,” he expressed soberly.
“Speaking of, are things with Malfoy any better than they were this morning? You slapped him pretty hard over a ridiculous article by Rita Skeeter,” he said.
I reached up and pulled a leaf off a hanging tendril and let my hair fall like a curtain between us, pretending to inspect it in avoidance of Harry’s question. A hand entered my field of vision and removed the leaf. I turned to face Harry; he was holding the leaf in his hand, the expression on his face that of a parent chastising a child for playing with something they weren’t supposed to. He raised an eyebrow at me and I folded.
“Not really, no. It just adds stress to us that someone is talking to the press about us. We were just having a civil conversation about classic literature and someone just has to go and talk to Rita Skeeter, of all people! I’ll turn her into a beetle and keep her in a jar again the next time she writes something that presumptuous about any of us!” my arms flailed for emphasis. Harry gave me a look of incredulity and bewilderment, the leaf falling from his grasp.
I sighed and explained, “Malfoy is actually well-read on muggle authors like Shakespeare and Jane Austen. We were discussing it on our way down to breakfast the other day and I suppose the other students thought it was blasphemy that we were having a civil argument over muggle things.”
He nodded in understanding then and rested his chin in his hands, thinking.
“I just don’t know how we’re going to be able to do this, Harry. He’s so back and forth with how he treats me that I just can’t make sense of it. I want to help him, but I just don’t know how. And he keeps bringing up something that happened in the Battle of Hogwarts that I don’t remember but he insists it happens,” I rambled on.
“Wait, what? What happened after you and Ron got separated?” Harry asked.
I thought about it and said, “I don’t remember exactly. It’s all kind of fuzzy. I just remember running around lots of corridors because I got lost until I finally made it back to the battle and found the two of you looking for me.”
He pursed his lips, his forehead creased in concentration. “Are you sure you can’t remember anything more specific than that, Hermione?”
I wracked my memories for the third time in a month and came up with nothing. “No, I can’t. After the staircase collapsed, it’s all rather blurry until I meet up with Ron and you again.”
Harry frowned. “How good is your Occlumency?”
“Quite good. Excellent, I suppose. Why?” I asked, curious where Harry was taking this.
“I think Malfoy might be onto something, believe it or not,” he said. “Before you discount me, hear me out. If you can remember every other part of the battle with minute detail, except for the part he’s claiming to have happened, then something must have happened with your mental blocks when we were all separated. If there’s a memory locked inside you somewhere that holds valuable information, I think it’s in your best interests to try and figure out what it is. That means, no arguing with Malfoy for no good reason, all right? I’d like to think he’s changed from his old ways, given that I did give a testimony for him at his trial.”
“So what do you want me to do exactly? Let him mess with my memories? That’s likely to happen! I’d hex his face off before I’d let him in my head!” I exclaimed.
“’Mione, for being the brightest witch I know, you’re missing the obvious,” Harry laughed. “Just play nice with him, that’s all I’m asking. I’d rather not have to Sectumsempra him again because he hurt you.”
I shoved him harder this time, almost pushing him off the branch and causing his arms to windmill for balance.
“Don’t make jokes like that again, Harry! I was so worried you’d actually killed him before Snape got there! I don’t think you should’ve kept that book anyway—you were ahead of me in class with that stupid thing!” I responded, feeling much lighter thanks to Harry’s sound advice.
“Okay, okay, I won’t. Just as long as you agree to do your best to work things out with Malfoy, okay?” Harry said.
“Okay,” I conceded, “I’ll be nice to Malfoy if I have to. But if he’s rude to me first, my hands are tied and how I react is not completely my fault.”
He chuckled and put an arm around my shoulders. “I’ve missed you, Hermione. I’m glad that you’re back. It just didn’t seem right without you there at the Burrow. Ron’s glad you’re okay too, you know.”
I gazed out over the Quidditch Pitch blazing in golden light and said, “I know.”
We sat there in silence for a while, just looking out across the grounds, watching how the colors morphed and faded as the sun set with each passing minute. “Come on, we should probably go back now, dinner’s going to start soon,” I announced.
Carefully, we climbed down onto lower branches and jumped down to the ground, our knees taking the brunt of the impact. We walked back to the castle together, feeling much better about the rest of the term than we had earlier. The darkness soon swallowed up a dark shape following us from a distance.
Dinner went smoothly, with only a few cursory glances directed towards Malfoy and I over the course of the meal. The main topic of discussion was classes the next morning and how everyone was excited to meet the new professors and to actually be learning real information again. It made me very happy that the student body wanted to learn so badly considering how tough the War had been on all of us—on all of them.
Malfoy and I managed to avoid each other for the entire night, not even encountering each other in the dormitory. After taking a shower, I sat on my window seat in my sleep shorts and old t-shirt, intent on finishing Hamlet. I was in the middle of the last scene when I realized I’d forgotten to put out food for Crookshanks all day.
“Starry,” I called out quietly. Thankfully, the loud crack usually accompanying house elf apparition was somewhat subdued.
“What does Miss Hermione need?” Starry curtsied.
“I forgot to put food out for Crookshanks today. Is there anyway you could get him a mouse or something, please?” I requested.
“Starry checked in earlier and noticed Miss Hermione had not given the cat food, so Starry gave him food. But Starry will give Crookshanks a mouse tomorrow for breakfast!” Starry replied.
“Excellent, thank you, Starry,” I said gratefully. Starry curtsied once more before disapparating.
Returning to Hamlet, I was excitedly reading the very last scene when a loud shout broke my concentration. I paused in the middle of a line; hearing nothing further, I continued reading. The ending was so abrupt and rather preposterous I almost began re-reading it to make sure I understood it when another yell sounded from across the hall. I put the book down on the window seat cushion, grabbing my wand in the process and quickly ran across my room and threw my door open, waiting.
Another strangled shout pierced the silence from Malfoy’s room. Without hesitation, I barged in and saw him twitching about in his bed, the sheets twisted so tightly around him he couldn’t move very well. His eyelids were fluttering rapidly, like he was reliving something very painful. I tiptoed my way over to the side of the bed, attempting to think of the best way to wake him up without getting hexed.
I settled on shaking his shoulder and saying his name. “Malfoy! Malfoy, wake up!” I said, keeping my body as far away as possible. He didn’t respond, just kept muttering things and squeezing his eyes closed tighter. “Draco Malfoy, wake up!” I shook him fiercely.
I released my grip on his shoulder as his eyes flew open, putting my hands up in the air. “What the bloody hell are you doing in my room, Granger? Get the hell out!” he shouted, his voice husky from sleep and laced with anger.
“You were shouting in your sleep so I came to investigate. Were you having a nightmare?” I asked, genuinely concerned.
“I don’t want to bloody talk about it with you, Granger! It’s none of your concern if I have a bad dream!” he spat.
Slightly offended, I stomped to the doorway before turning around and saying, “Just because I fought on a different side than you doesn’t mean I didn’t see and endure terrible things too, you know. I was just trying to help!”
Malfoy sat up and retorted, “Well stop trying to bloody help, I don’t want it from you!”
“You weren’t saying that the other day, Malfoy! Obviously you came back here for a reason and if that was to retrieve a lost memory from my brain or for some other reason, but either way it’s in your best interest to get over yourself and accept the fact you aren’t on top anymore!” I replied viciously.
We stared at each other in tension-filled silence, chests heaving from yelling.
“Dumbledore chose us for a reason so you better stop acting so stuck up if you want me to help you,” I said before stepping out of the room and closing his door, leaving him to mull over what I’d just said.
I was afraid I’d gone too far, but a small part of me really wished it worked and he’d finally stop acting like a stuck-up prat all the time. I returned to the warmth of my bed and fell into a restless sleep.
A/N: How do you like the sibling-esque relationship with Harry and Hermione? Draco and Hermione's fight after his extreme nightmare? Drop your thoughts, opinions, ideas, etc. in the lonely box below!