Chapter 6 : The Cat's Out of The Bag
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What is up with him, not talking to her for four days? Malfoy has been known to mess with people's minds in the past and she is not the type of girl to fall for things like that. Or did she just fall for it?
All these things rush through her head as she sits silently rocking back and forth on Harry and Ginny’s front porch, watching the fluffy cumulous clouds rush across the sky on this fair weathered day.
After telling Ginny about Malfoy’s and her visit, Ginny felt that Hermione should give their friendship a try, despite the old feelings about the person he used to be.
“He sounds like he really has changed,” Ginny had stated that night, squeezing Hermione’s shoulder in support with a smile. Hermione is grateful that at least one of her friends approve.
Malfoy sits quietly in his room, listening to his mum talking to their house-elf in the kitchen about Lucius. She is sobbing again as she does almost every day since his father was sent to Azkaban.
He can barely stand to hear his mother crying like this every night and every morning. She is depressed and Draco feels constantly helpless. She only cries for a brief time every day, but it still really bothers him.
He has always somewhat disliked his father because of his yelling and occasional abuse. Because of this, he doesn’t really mind his presence not being here. With this being said though, he doesn’t like seeing his mum so upset. He never understood how his mum still continues to love his father after all he has done, but it goes to show how strong love can be.
He tries to get his mum’s sobbing off of his mind and turns his thoughts briefly about the day Hermione and himself shared that moment kissing in the Potter house. He remembers how right and perfect it felt when his lips met with her soft ones. For the first time in a long time, he felt hope in his heart.
But what would mum think of him liking a mudblood?
She would probably disown me and force me to break-up with her and go chasing after Astoria as she always has, Draco thinks, playing with his wand in his hands as his eyebrows wrinkle up in thought. He can’t make his mum any more upset than she already is right now.
But wouldn’t she just want him to be happy? He doesn’t know what to do. He wonders whether he should just tell Hermione he only has feelings about her as a friend and lie, or sneakily date her behind his family’s back. He likes Hermione, that is for sure, but is she worth the punishment he will get from his family? His father would be especially harsh if he ever gets out of Azkaban if he found out his only son is dating a mudblood.
He has not talked to Hermione for a few days because he wanted time to think about everything and decide if this is the right thing to do. He would be in trouble for even associating with her, much less dating her.
Oh, how the war has changed him. He would never have looked at a muggleborn before now, he definitely would have never snogged one, especially when a pureblood and beautiful woman like Astoria was in his life, or was. But she left him for another man and he hated her personality and never saw a future with her in his whole time with her. He always felt there was something more for him out there.
He can’t just hide his feelings for Hermione, so it was either his mum gets over it after he confides in her or he will sneak around her and be with Hermione if they ever did turn into a couple. And he hopes they will, even though he knows Hermione is still torn up about Ron. But Draco knows his looks and charm would take over a Weasley any day. If he gets Hermione, Weasley has no chance to get her back.
Maybe at this point his mum wouldn’t even care who he's with because of how torn up she is. She doesn't mean to not pay attention to Draco but it was like he isn't even there to Narcissa since his father left.
It all happened so fast with Hermione, and he still doesn't understand why the feelings developed so quickly for her. Maybe they were there the whole time? It may have just taken two years away from her and the rest of her group of friends to acknowledge it and grow up. Despite his rude remarks all the time, he did always find himself looking at her and he never realized why. He never questioned it either, because the hate that his family helped drown him in for mudbloods and blood-traiters since day one had blinded him for all of his childhood.
He has to talk to Narcissa. After all, he barely has anyone else besides his friend Blaise Zabini to talk to, who is known to still be prejudice about mudbloods and half-bloods just as much as Death Eater father.
But today is not the day to talk to mum, thought Draco, imagining himself telling his mother and her reaction with her being upset already.
He has a lot of thinking to do but he knows what he wants- but the question is, can he make Hermione like him too?
This may be the one thing in life he may not get if she doesn't want him as well because he knows how strong willed Granger is. Hermione is not like other girls, such as the ones who threw themselves at him and swooned every time he walked past. Hermione always seemed to just look right through him, but he doesn't blame her. After all, he was the enemy and treated her like rubbish in the past.
Hermione woke up early to help Ginny clean the house. It is just the two girls and baby James at home today. It is also a warm sunny day and Ginny has all the windows open. A breeze makes the white, thin curtains in the living room wisp back and forth.
“Draco hasn’t written me since I last saw him. Maybe I was getting the wrong signs,” states Hermione, plopping down on Ginny’s loveseat to take a short break from dusting the bookshelves.
"Hermione, don’t worry,” assures Ginny with a smile. “Has Ronald tried texting or calling you?”
“Of course, he has non-stop,” complains Hermione, looking at her lap. She doesn't want to think about Ron.
“He’s really upset, you know. He is staying with mum and sometimes George for now. Mum says he is acting depressed a lot since you and he broke up last week and comes home late drunk, she knows he's really messed up. You know how he usually has the emotional range of a teaspoon? This really means things to him,” said Ginny, frowning as she thinks of her brother.
Hermione’s heart felt a jab of guilt seeing Ginny's frown for Ron, she still loves and cared for Ron, but she can't let herself feel bad because Ron did this to himself.
“Ginny, I love and care for your brother, but… I just can’t bring myself to be in love with him and trust him ever again. After all it has just been about a week since I found he cheated on me. Doesn’t he have Lavender?”
Ginny looks at her and shakes her bright red head, “He left her the night after you guys broke up. He told her his love for you will never change and he hated her for making him cheat on you.”
“That's barbaric!” Hermione bickered angrily, “that git! I read the owl! He brought her on Ginny and Ron is the one at fault!”
“Hermione I believe you, calm down!” Ginny yells as she feels offended.
Hermione feels immediately bad for yelling at Ginny but is still mad that Ron lied and said that rubbish, making himself look like the good guy.
“You are kind of acting like Harry when he was possessed by Voldemort,” chuckles Ginny. Hermione can’t help but laugh with her at this comparison.
Harry comes home from work that evening but brings unexpected company with him.
Hermione rolls her eyes as she watches her ex-fiancé, Ronald Bilius Weasley walk into Ginny and Harry’s house.
Ginny gives Ron a hug, glaring at Hermione as she walks away from him as if to tell her to be nice.
To Hermione’s horror, Ron walks over and sits directly beside her as if she’s the reason he came.
“Hey there,” he drawls quietly.
“Hello,” answers Hermione, looking anywhere but at him.
“How have you been?” He asks.
“Fine,” she mumbles, not desiring to talk to him.
“Can we go outside and talk?” Ron asks hopefully. “Please?” He adds when she sighs loudly.
“Erm, I guess so,” says Hermione sharply while making sure not to look at him. Ronald doesn’t deserve for her to be nice to him right now.
They walk onto the Potter’s front porch and sit down on the wooden rocking bench. Hermione gazes into the horizon watching the sun get lower in the sky resulting in a sunset of colors of burnt orange and purple. She observes that it is getting towards twilight as Ron just stares at her, searching for the right words to say.
“I see you took your ring off,” points out Ron sadly as he looks at her left hand sitting on her lap.
“Yes I did! Why, did you not expect me not to?” retorts Hermione.
“Have you been okay?” Asks Ron, changing the subject.
“Yes, more than okay,” she spat back in a lie.
“Really? Well I have been awful,” confides Ron.
“Good!” Hermione says, raising an eyebrow at him, her brown eyes almost black with anger.
Ron is then silent for a good five minutes afraid to ask her a question that is eating at him. He then says pretty fast, “Are you seeing someone else now?”
For the first time this evening, Hermione looks at Ron’s blue eyes and her eyes soften as she sees his face. His eyes have dark bags under them, and his skin shows wrinkles of stress on his forehead. He looks even worse than he did after Fred died. He looks as though he aged twenty years, as though he is not twenty, but is forty.
Hermione is aware that Ron knows her like the back of his hand, and she knows that there is no hiding from him. Just like there was no hiding when Ron cheated on Hermione, as she could sense his odd behavior as soon as he started hiding from her.
“Not seeing, but talking to someone,” she confirms without hesitation. She observes as Ron’s ears turn bright red, this is never a good sign.
He clenches his fists and looks at his lap. “I-I guess I can’t say anything against that.”
“No Ronald, you can’t!” bellows Hermione as she glares at him again.
“Who is it then? Is it that git Krum again? Or is it that McLaggen bloke?!” Ron asks as he starts to get more aggressive looking, imagining Hermione with another man.
She wonders if she should tell him the truth. He’s going to find out eventually anyway.
“No neither of them,” whispers Hermione, looking away from Ron and out at the sunset again, not wanting to look at Ron’s face.
“Who then?” he investigates gruffly.
“It’s Malfoy.” says Hermione very quietly in a hushed whisper.
“Who?” Ron asks a second time, not believing what he thought he just heard.
“Malfoy!” Hermione yells louder.
Ron’s mouth flies straight open in shock and he loses it. “He’s fucking dead!” He yells.
He suddenly starts to shake all over, his ears are now a dark violent purple and he now stands up and tries to figure out what do next. Should he hate Hermione? Or should he just kill Malfoy?
Harry sees this and rushes outside but is too late, Ron is absurdly mad, madder then Harry or Hermione has ever seen him in all the nearly ten years of knowing him.
He grabs the closest rock he can find and throws it across the Potters’ front yard, impressively far. “HE WILL BURN IN HELL!” Ron bellows, turning to look at Hermione. She sees a massive amount of hurt in his eyes, possibly more hurt than she felt when she caught him cheating.
“Ron! Ron, calm down!” Harry yells helplessly as Hermione just watches in silent shock from the porch swing where she hasn’t moved from. Ginny now joins her husband in trying to stop Ron from doing anything else.
Ron pushes them violently away and Ginny falls to the ground. Harry checks to make sure she’s okay while Ron apparates; and he’s gone, just like that.
“Where do you think he went, Harry?” Ginny wonders in a panic, frantically looking at her husband.
“Malfoy Manor I’ll bet-” guesses Harry, shaking his head in disbelief of what just took place.
“Well, he didn’t take that well at all did he?” Ginny says with a frown.
“I need to find him. He may do something stupid,” insisted Harry and with a crack, he’s gone too.
Hermione can’t believe what just happened in front of her. She especially can’t believe she confessed to Ron that she’s talking to Malfoy. How she managed to get those words out, she doesn’t know.
Harry apparates into the front property of Malfoy Manor. He then spots Ron near the front gates, screaming at the guards and demanding they let him in to see Malfoy.
“RON!” Harry yells, “Don’t do this! You can’t get in there! Leave it be.”
Malfoy looks out the window after hearing a commotion going on from his bedroom.
“Who the hell is that?” He asks himself aloud.
He is home alone tonight and never particularly likes unknown company, especially with the past company coming around his home all the time. Luckily there was a protection charm put on the front gates after Lucius was taken to Azkaban so no one can get in. The Death Eaters used to know how to get through, but not anymore. There are guards that Lucius hired in his absence as well for Draco and Narcissa’s protection.
Draco walks to the front door and asks a guard who is standing in the front yard who is screaming at the gates, and if the guards know who the two men are. But as Draco stands and listens, their voices start to sound familiar.
“I shall find out sir,” the guard replies, and he then walks off toward the two guards by the gate to investigate.
“Malfoy, I will kill you!” Draco hears someone say. Then Draco knows who is at his gate as he recognizes the raspy, angry voice of Ronald Weasley.
The guard comes back. “That is Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, sir.”
“Thank you. Don’t let them in please, Weasley wants to kill me,” directs Draco to guard. Hermione must have told him. This will be good, he thought.
“As you wish,” says the guard in return.
(Harry and Ron’s POV)
Ron continues to shake the gates and yell at the two guarding men’s faces, thinking of nothing but tearing Malfoy to shreds. “That git is trying to steal my fiancée! Let me in damnit! Blimey, you blithering idiots!”
“I’m sorry, Mister Malfoy has denied your allowance of entry,” the man tells Ron, trying to keep a straight face while he glances at his partner.
Hours pass by it seems as Harry sits on the edge of the gates, letting Ron do his thing. Ron is still determined but is finally growing tired of screaming.
“I give up,” gloats Ron, sitting next to Harry in the grass, breathing as though he ran a mile. All the fire is finally out of him and sadness is settling in.
“I never thought she would ever go that low. I mean, mate, that’s the worst she can possibly go. I’d rather her be doing three sums with Crabbe and Goyle than snogging Malfoy! Okay, no, but still. Draco Malfoy though, really?”
Harry, smiling slightly at this comment, catches himself and lays a hand on his friend’s shoulder in brotherly support.
“I hate that this happened Ron, but she is her own person and has a right to whom she wants to see. Hate to say it mate, but you cheated. That's the worst possible thing you could do to her in your relationship,” points out Harry. "Draco has changed a bit and now I guess Hermione and he are friends."
Ron turns to Harry in disgust. “Changed? That’s rubbish because once a Death Eater always a Death Eater in my book! How do you know he has changed might I ask, Harry? Have you talked to him since the war?”
Harry pauses for a moment, thinking if he should tell the truth or lie. “Well-”
“Spit it out Harry or I’ll strangle you!” Threatens Ron, Harry thinks he might actually mean what he just said by the look on his face which is contorted with rage.
“He was at Ginny’s and my house the other day when I got off for my lunch break. I caught him visiting with Hermione and found out Ginny gave her permission to invite him over while Hermione babysat James,” confesses Harry, preparing for a punch as he squints his eyes.
Ron put his head in his hands. “My own sister…My own best friend…” he whispers, feeling betrayed.
“I can’t take this; I need to go home to our apartment to process all of this. It is the only thing that was really Hermione’s and mine together!” Ron apparates away without another word, leaving Harry alone.
Harry stands up and watches the Manor for a few minutes, wondering if there is anything going on inside of it. He then thinks of the memories of their last visit. He absolutely hates the place in front of him.
Draco sees Ron disappear and then decides he wants to talk to Harry. He walks back onto his porch and apparates to the other side of the fence, causing Harry’s hand to fly to his robe.
“Malfoy you scared me!” Harry exclaims, relaxing his hand and removing it from his pocket.
“What was all that nonsense about?” Draco wonders curiously. “I heard my name many times.”
“Ron found out about you seeing Hermione, and he is pretty upset. That's all and I need to go,” says Harry to Draco.
“He cheated on her! How does he have the right to be upset? Can you tell me, Potter?” Draco spat at Harry angrily.
Harry says before departing, “agreed Malfoy! I know that he did wrong, ok? But he's still my best friend, like Hermione is to me!”
“Potter, I think I might like her,” confesses Malfoy, looking at Harry for a response.
“She is a very likeable woman,” comments Harry as he looks at Draco in surprise that he is confiding this in him. “I am okay with this Malfoy, but if you ever lay one hand on her or hurt her emotionally I will let Ron murder you and I will help him. We all know who you used to be, and what you were capable of. Don’t ever forget that! And there is no one hundred percent proof that you're any different than you were two years ago when you were a Death Eater,” barked Harry. He then apparates and leaves Draco alone.
“I won’t hurt her,” he says quietly to himself. Part of him is terrified he will, but he has better control over himself now than he ever has. He won’t hurt her.
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