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Chapter 11 : Already Gone
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Right where you want me
-Right Where You Want Me, Jesse McCartney
Draco and Hermione’s footsteps made barely a noise as they walked on Hogsmeades grey cobblestone roads. The sun was a bit lower in the sky by this time, but neither of them had noticed in the slightest. On their walk they had talked about all sorts of things, like childhood memories, their favourite type of chocolate, what they do in their spare time, etc. Hermione, during this period, couldn’t help but be surprised and slightly amazed at Draco’s immaculate manners, and way of continuing conversation with ease; although now, again, they were walking in silence.
Chatty townspeople passed by them and the couple had to expertly weave their way through the oncoming civilians. Draco had no idea where they were going but Hermione seemed to have some idea, as she was walking with purpose and had her eyes trained straight ahead. He couldn’t help but think to himself that she was rather cute when she had that determined look on her face. It just looked so very Gryffindor that he lost sight of whatever possible Ravenclaw she had inside her.
Draco raised his eyebrows as he felt her cool hand slip into his and pull him sharply to the right, and through the doorway of the Three Broomsticks. The air inside was thick and smelled of cooked meat and cold drinks. It was a busy day today and people had tables pushed together and were practically yelling to one another to hear over everyone else.
“I need you to do something for me.” Came Hermione’s voice from beside him. Her hand was still in his but neither of them did anything about it.
“What is this something?”
“Just promise me you won’t chicken out.”
“I can’t promise anything if I don’t know what it is I’m promising!”
“Yes you can. Just promise.” Hermione coaxed.
Draco looked around. There wasn’t much he could be promising to. In fact, there wasn’t really anything Hermione Granger would make him promise to do that he hadn’t already.
“Alright then I promise.” He said, with an edge of pride.
Once again she was pulling on his arm, guiding him between tables whilst craning her neck. After criss crossing through about three rows of crammed together tables Hermione smiled and bounded around a corner, Draco right at her heels. Although the very second he turned the corner he felt her hands push him down into a booth, and immediately felt a slight wave of panic go over him when he saw Harry and Ginny Potter sitting across from where he now was; Hermione sliding in after him to make sure he couldn’t escape.
“Malfoy.” Harry greeted him with a rather forced smile, reaching his hand across the table for him to shake, which of course he did.
“Hey Draco.” Ginny grinned.
“Potters.” Draco said with a nod, turning towards Hermione expecting some sort of explanation, although none came.
“Hi Harry, hi Ginny.” Hermione greeted her two friends with a grin. “Have you two ordered anything yet?”
Ginny pulled her ginger hair into a ponytail and watched Harry as he answered. “We ordered five butter beers. But don’t worry, it’s on us.”
Hermione opened her mouth to thank them but Draco cut in, “Five?”
“Ron’s on his way.” Ginny replied.
After she said that Draco turned his head to look at Hermione once more, but again she had her face pointed forwards as if there was nothing she had to say to him.
“So, how is everyone enjoying the reunion so far?” Ginny asked, folding her hands on the table surface and showing off her pearly whites.
“I love it. It’s so good to be back.” said Hermione. “It’s silly but a part of me wishes we had classes again and everything.”
“Of course you do, Hermione.” Harry laughed. Draco forced a smile as he watched the conversation progress.
“But why would anyone want that? That was the worst part of Hogwarts!” came a voice from the end of the table.
Draco turned his head only to see a tall, oafish, red head pull up a chair to the end of the table. He leaned across the table to hug Harry, shake Draco’s hand, and then he sat back down and hugged both Ginny and Hermione.
“Hey everyone!” Ron said rather loudly. Draco, in response, slightly turned his head in repulse. “Have we ordered yet or what?”
Harry then told Ron the exact thing he had told Hermione just moments ago.
“Oh, awesome okay thanks Harry.” Ron said brightly. Hermione had to hit Draco in the side when she saw him roll his eyes.
Draco, rubbing the side that she hit, leaned in close to her ear and whispered, “He’s so just such a bloody Weasley.” This time it was Hermione’s turn to roll her eyes whilst the rest of the table watched, remembering that Hermione and Draco were engaged and how awfully weird that was.
“So, uh,” Harry began to Draco. “I guess this is kind of like welcome to the family.”
Hermione smirked and had to hold in a laugh when she saw the way Draco’s mouth collapsed into a scowl.
“Yes, I guess it is. Thanks Potter.” He replied. As he said this a waiter came in between Ginny and Ron and set down a tray of five butter beers. Hands moved from where they lay on the table and soon enough all the glasses were gone and everyone was taking a swig of the stuff.
As people did this Ginny kicked Hermione under the table, forcing Hermione’s eyes to fly to Ginny’s flashing green ones.
“So, Draco,” Ginny started, throwing Hermione another devilish look. “Since couples usually talk a bit of this before deciding to get married, I was wondering if you and Hermione have ever thought of having any children.”
At these words Draco’s cheeks puffed out, and his eyes widened, almost spitting out his drink. His cheeks became a ghostly colour and Hermione returned Ginny’s kick underneath the table.
“We, uh, aren’t really there yet.” Draco managed as soon as he had forced down his butter beer.
Ron spoke this time, “You aren’t really there yet? You’re getting married.”
“What he means is we’ve only talked a little bit on the subject and decided that we are not going to worry about that until quite a ways down the road.” Hermione said. Draco shot her a thankful glance which she returned with a smile.
“Then what about a ring Hermione? Some people have asked me why you don’t wear one, and honestly I’m wondering myself.” Harry asked. Now it was Hermione’s turn to freeze up as she glanced down at her ring finger. Sure enough there was nothing on it. How could we have forgotten the ring?!
“Don’t worry Potter,” Draco said rather sarcastically. “I actually have one back at the manor for her. But she wasn’t supposed to know that yet.” He added the last part in a feeble attempt to make them sound more engaged than they were acting.
“Why at the manor?” Asked Ron. Hermione could feel a small knot in her stomach build. Of course they had to keep asking these questions. What her and Draco were doing now was improvisation, and nothing short of it.
“Because I actually proposed without one,” Draco told them. “I didn’t think Hermione was going to accept me after such a short amount of time dating, and I was quite anxious and out of sorts. She told me that she’d rather we take things slowly as well, so I wasn’t too worried about getting her a ring.”
“Which is perfectly understandable.” Ginny then said, trying to bring ease into the conversation, and evidently make up for her earlier question. “Now I don’t think any of us have any reason to worry, since it is apparent Hermione and Draco are acting like adults in their relationship and are thinking things through.”
Harry and Ron gave small nods, either forcing down other questions, feeling defeated, or both, Hermione couldn’t tell. But she couldn’t help but wonder about the ring situation and so she turned to Draco.
“You don’t actually have a ring back at the manor, do you?” She murmured.
He looked down at her for a second before a ghost of a smile went over his lips. “Actually, I do.” Hermione merely stared at Draco in response, even after he turned away to talk to the others.
“Okay, Gin’s right. Let’s have a change of subject. Tell me about your job at the Inner Workings, Draco.” Harry said.
“Oh, uh,” Draco began, regainging himself after such a preformance. “Well there isn’t much to say, really. What would you like to know?”
Conversation continued from there on at a very steady pace, with Ginny not playing any more pranks on the newly engaged couple and Harry and Ron making sure to keep conversation on the weather, Quidditch, their jobs, or the like. Pretty much all small talk topics that young, English men can talk about without getting bored or running out of things to say.
“So then I, thinking they meant go left, went right and actually crashed into the guy! So we caught him in the end but I’ll tell you the Department was definitely not pleased.” Harry explained to everyone present. Everyone laughed at Harry’s tale and Hermione asked him what his co-workers thought of that.
“Well none of us talk to Harry anymore,” Ron joked. “Me and the guys figured it was a pretty cute way to catch someone, even for Harry.” Again, everyone laughed although this time Draco did not join in and Hermione turned to him. He had his head down and his faced scrunched in a grimace.
“Draco?” Hermione asked quietly, so as not to disrupt the others.
“I-I have to go.” He grunted.
“Go? Why? But-”
“Hermione move!” He said loudly, grabbing his arm and make a sort of hissing noise as if he was being burned. Hermione quickly slid out of the booth and watched, her eyes wide, as Draco practically flung himself out and made a dash for the pub’s exit.
“Draco!” She called after him as she too started to run for the doors, only to find herslef bang into something that felt rather like a brick wall. Her eyes moved upwards and she found herself looking at none other than John Barman.
“Oh, hello Hermione.” He said cheerfully.
Before answering him, Hermione moved her head to look for Draco but the door was already swinging closed and he was no where in sight. Hermione cursed under her breath and turned back to John.
“Hello.” She said.
“Sorry for running into you like that,” He apologized. “I’ll see you around.” He waved at Hermione and began moving towards an empty table when Ginny called out.
“John Barman! Fancy seeing you here.”
Hermione watched as John smiled and made his way over to their table, her only choice was to follow. Of course Ginny had to invite him over.
“Hello everyone.” John greeted them, with a mutual greeting back from everyone.
“Draco just left and so we have a free seat if you’d like to join us.” Ginny chirped, throwing Hermione a wink to which Hermione pretended she was oblivious.
“Oh, sure. If you don’t mind.” John said with a smile. He slid into the booth where Draco had sat, and Hermione slid in after him. Her heart was still beating a mile a minute from the very sudden adrenaline of Draco leaving but she decided he probably didn’t want her coming after him anyway and she’d find out what happened after dinner.
“So John you didn’t graduate from Hogwarts did you?” Ginny asked, but John didn’t reply because the waiter returned and asked if there was anything they’d like. Those who wanted something told him and soon he left with the orders.
“No, I didn’t actually.” John answered. He had this way of talking, Hermione realized, that made everything seem rather simple and lovely. She couldn’t quite describe it. “I graduated from Durmstrang.”
“Were you one of the ones that came to Hogwarts then? For the Triwizard tournament?” Ginny continued to ask. She was obviously doing it for Hermiones benefit but it made the friendly get together feel more like an interview.
“No, no I wasn’t. I had graduated by then.”
There was a brief silence in which Ginny turned to look at Hermione.
“Did you know that when Durmstrang was at our school Hermione actually was courted by Viktor Crum?” This seemed to spark John’s interest for his eye brows were then raised and he turned to look at Hermione.
“Did you really?” He asked. The way he asked it was hard to read, for it was such a mix of emotions. Amazement, interest, congratulations, and jealousy to name a few.
“We weren’t really courting-” Hermione tried to say but Ron was already there.
“He took her to the Yule Ball.” Ron said, his butter beer sloshing around in the glass.
John smiled at Hermione, but she avoided his gaze and could feel her cheeks redden. He seemed to realize that she was rather uncomfortable and so he cleared his throat.
“I knew Viktor Crum you know. Not too well, but I knew him.” This seemed to interest especially Ron who was still a little bit of a Krum fan even after he had taken Hermione out. “I was two years above him in school.”
“Really? You don’t sound Bulgarian, though.” Harry added to the conversation.
“No, no I’m not actually. I moved from America to Bulgaria when I was eleven, went to Durmstrang, and then moved to England when I was eighteen.” He told them. “But enough about me, tell me about yourselves.”
Ron was eager to do just that and the group spent the next forty minutes listening to him as he relayed everyones lives to John. Their food came and went and by the time Ron was finished everyone was ready to head back to Hogwarts.
Outside it was cool and the sky had a childish orange tint to it. The clouds looked like marble and everyone enjoyed the view as they made their way back to the school, and although they feared they would miss McGonagalls speech but saw that they did not for when they entered the Great Hall everyone was just sitting down, although the layout was completely different.
McGonagall had outdone herself for whatever it was she was doing, for the four massive tables were completely gone and instead were a few dark, circular tables, each seating nine to ten people, scattered around the room. In the front of the room behind McGonagalls post stood a large, oval object that resembled a cross between a looking glass and a pensive.
“Neville’s waving to us,” Harry said to Ginny, Ron and Hermione as John left them to go sit with the other teachers. Sure enough Hermione could see Neville waving his hand and smiling to them from a table filled with others. Those others being Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, Seamus Finnigan, and Dean Thomas. Also one other which Hermone recognised as Seamuses wife whom she’d met before, named Darcy.
Once they had seated themselves down at the table with Neville and the others, and everyone else had sat down as well, McGonagall started with an apology about how much they had to hear her voice during their reunion. Everyone laughed at this, and then she proceeded on with her speech.
“Now, behind me,” She said, gesturing to the oval behind her. “Is something I am sure all of you are wondering about. Some of you might actually know what this is, but for those of you who don’t know, it’s quite like a pensive.” A few unsurprised whispers went through the crowd. “But not just that, it is something Arthur Weasley actually brought in for us today! It will be able to take memories from any of you in this room right now and display them.” At this everyone began looking rather panicked and uncomfortable, so she quickly went on. “But do not fret. It will only take memories that are common to quite a few people, such as writing your OWLs, or playing Quidditch, so nothing personal.”
“Well, thank God for that.” Hermione could hear Ginny whisper to a scarlet faced Harry.
“There will be footage shown of years one to seven, and then a few after the war.” McGonagall added as the oval began to swirl and dip like white hot chocolate once stirred.
From the oval came a low, soft hum. The oval began to fade into a memory, starting at the edges and working it’s way in to display the full image. Once recognisable everyone could see a little Pansy Parkinson with her head looking straight up admiring Hogwarts, but with a slight snobbish frown on her lips.
The next picture faded in at that point to display a little Harry Potter’s eyes going wide as he stared at the food that magically appeared on the table in the Great Hall. Then, the next picture of a little Ron Weasley waving his wand about saying in his high, squeaky voice, “Wingardium Leviosa! Wingardium Leviosa!”. Everyone laughed, and did so even more when a little Hermione Granger made her first appearence saying, “It’s Leviosa, not Leviosa.”
Hermione could feel a smile pull at her lips and her eyes flickered to Ron who was laughing, his face slightly pink. Then she quickly waved her eyes over the others at the table and felt her heartache as she took in how much they’d all grown, and how much they’d all changed, and she couldn’t help but long for the days now projected on the oval above.
A few more shots went by, and soon they were on their second year. Again Hermione was shown but this time lying stiffly on a hospital cot with Ron and Harry at her side. Then a small Dean Thomas was shown running across the field to the lake with a paper in his hand and black ink smudged on his fingertips. More shots were shown, and then it was on their third year, and Hermione watched as her younger self shot her hand up in the air and answered a question in Remuses class, and saw for the first time as everyone in class around her rolled their eyes.
Soon they were on their fourth year, where a fourteen year old Draco stood looking bored next to an even more bored looking Pansy at the Yule Ball. Then, Neville was shown dancing with Ginny and looking rather pleased. Hermione was shown next coming down the stairway and taking the arm of Viktor. A few more shots of other students, and some of the Triwizard tournament, were projected, although it handily left out the third task.
Next it showed their sixth year, and the first shot was Draco yelling something rude about status to Ron, and then a shot of Hermione telling Professor Slughorn what she smelt in the potion. Her table turned their heads away from the oval for a moment to give Hermione a look, since they all knew it was Ron she had described. Hermione could even feel a blush spread up her cheeks as Ron sent her a playful wink from his seat.
After that it projected more shots of their year until it moved onto clips of everyones seventh year, although none were shown of Harry, Ron or Hermione, but Hermione found it interesting to see what the others were putting up with at Hogwarts whilst she was running from Muggle Snatchers and finding Horocruxes.
Another fade out and fade in occured to show Harry and Ginny on their wedding day, and then Neville giving a flower to Hannah Abbott, and then a silhouetted shot of Pansy and Theodore walking hand in hand through Diagon Alley. A shot of Ron princess carrying Hermione through the doors of Grimmauld Place and Hermione laughing and kicking her feet. Next a clip of Seamus looking down at a black velvet ring box before peering up at where a completely unaware Darcy stood cooking dinner. Like clips followed including a few unromantic ones with people doing their jobs or having a really good laugh with some friends. And finally the final shot of everyone in the room at that moment so much older, all smiling. Slowly it faded out and then there was silence, quickly followed by a loud and boisterous applause and much laughing and hooting which increased in volume when McGonagall’s voice rung out, telling everyone that they could mingle and talk before retiring to their dorms. Food then appeared on the table and there was more hooting as people reached for different things to eat.
“Well that was brilliant,” Ginny said first. Her face was glowing and the rest of the table and nodded and smiled.
“I loved that.” Said Neville as he reached for a dinner roll.
“So did I,” Dean agreed. “Although I found it odd there was nothing of you and Draco, Hermione.” Everyone at the table turned to her in agreement with Dean. Hermione’s throat was suddenly dry and she struggled for something to say.
“Yes, I found it odd, too.” Hermione managed. “But we haven’t been seeing eachother too terribly long...”
“Long enough, I dare say,” Seamus said.
“Well, I just liked seeing all of you.” Hermione tried to make ease of the topic.
“We should go ask McGonagall if she could show us something because I was looking forward to that.” Seamus said again. It was hard to tell if he was joking or not.
“Are you serious?” Ginny broke in. “Guys let it go. If you want to see them together invite them over once the Reunions done, or go with them to Hogsmeade. And you’ll see them at the wedding, anyway.”
“Ginny’s right.” Neville said. “Let’s not bother Hermione about this now.”
Hermione watched as conversation changed to Seamus and Darcy and the little one growing inside of Ginny’s stomach. The conversation on her and Draco had ended quickly, but still it made Hermione nervous. People just brought it up so much. She tried to take part and smile but in truth she was feeling rather antsy, and uncomfortable. For example, when people start questioning you about a white lie you told a while back, one that you forget the deatils of; one that is becoming fuzzy around the edges. Even when the other person moves on you still have that knot in your gut. That is how Hermione now felt.
Out of the corner of her eye Hermione could make out a head of white blonde hair dash out of view, and immediately Hermione scrambled to her feet. She watched as he burst out through the two doors of the Great Hall which slammed behind him and made quite the noise although no one except Hermione seemed to notice.
“I’ll be right back, everyone.” Hermione told her table. No one asked where she was going and so Hermione was able to jog quickly after Draco in hopes of catching up with him. Although once outside the doors she could see not a single person.
“Draco!” She called out, but all that answered was her echo. He probably went to their dormitory.
Hermione stood there for a moment contemplating what to do exactly. Folllow him, or to return to the meal? She wanted to find out what happened earlier that afternoon in the Leaky Cauldron. She wanted to find out why he left the way he did, and why he had seemed in pain. And actually she just wanted to talk to him. She couldn’t explain it really but she wanted to see him, and she decided to follow her instinct.
Hermione started on her way to the stairs leading to the dorms, but as she did she noticed the large Gryffindor tally of house points to her right that stood at zero, and her reflection in the glass. She looked the exact same as she did at seventeen, except her skin didn’t hide the eight years difference. She could hear the laughter coming from the Great Hall in one ear, and in the other the defeaning silence the castle eminated. She looked again at the Gryffindor tally, and almost turned on the spot. It took her about another minute of debating, and she started walking back up the steps towards her shared dorm. Her friends could wait.
Authors Note: Hello everyone, it’s me again. Sorry for such a long time without posting, I hit a rather bad writers block but I seemed to have been able to get around it. Thank you so much for those of you still reading, it means a lot.
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