Chapter 1 : I Know It's Always Been There
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“STUPEFY!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I watched as the Death eater fall to the ground, he didn’t move. I sighed in relief and leaned up against the wall, panting for air. I’d been running for hours in this castle, my hair was plastered to my face from the sweat. I clutched my left chest, my heart ached from exhaustion. Where were the others?
Before I knew it, a stray spell from a battle far from me, hit the wall above me and a sickening sound of the bricks falling down on me echoed through the corridor. I barely had time to protect myself as the bricks hit me, I screamed in pain with my eyes closed, already tasting the blood streaming from the top of my head, down my face.
I heard a rustling and a loud groan of pain; before I knew it the bricks stopped hitting me.
I could still hear the bricks fall; I opened my eyes, gasping when I saw him in front of me.
His tall body towering over me; protecting me from the falling bricks, his face wringed from the pain. His hot breath hit my face, the warmth danced across my skin and an overwhelming feeling of safety washed over me, threatening to make me cry in relief.
I had never known I’d needed the feeling of safety so much, wanting it so badly.
Minutes went by, as I watched him panting for air, the bricks had stopped falling. Blood oozing from his wounds on his shoulders, but he didn’t move. I didn’t dare to move, I didn’t want to.
His eyes still closed, his face twisted in pain. I slowly lifted my hand to touch him, I hesitated.
His eyes flashed upon mine, I took a sharp intake of air from the shock.
He didn’t say anything, neither did I. I was too amazed by his mere presence, to form sentences in my head. But I felt the doubt build up in me, as I watched him breathing heavily, his body tense, his eyes never leaving my face. Slowly I lifted my hand to his face, I had to see… I had to feel if this was real, could he really be here in front of me?
As I tenderly touched his jawline with my fingers, a small cry escaped my mouth.
He was here.
I slowly cupped his face with my hands, tears streaming down my face. My heart swelled from the ocean of emotions inside me. I had fooled myself for far too long; I’d missed him more than anything and could never let myself admit it.
His silver grey eyes teary, his breathing began to shake.
“I’ve been searching for you since last summer,” he whispered.
Clinging to me, like a last breath you would breathe
“Hi,” I heard a voice say. I looked up from the book I was reading, to see a small white haired boy smiling at me. His school robes far too big for him; he could easily disappear in them. But I’d say that would go for anyone in First Year.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Do you mind if I sit with you?” he asked, suggesting to the chair next me. I was in the library, at my (already) usual spot, since school had started last week.
“No,” I smiled, hope blossomed inside me – maybe I was able to find some friends.
He smiled back and sat down, his book almost as big as himself.
“I’ve noticed you’ve studied a lot lately, school’s just begun,” he said. “What’s the rush?”
He had noticed me? I felt my cheeks blush. Perhaps I wasn’t as boring as I’ve been told to be.
“Just re-reading Hogwarts: a History,” I replied. “There’s no rush, I just like to read.” His smile turned wider.
“Me too,” he told me and clumsily opened his large book.
So we sat in the library all that Saturday afternoon, reading silently next to each other, until he rose up to meet up with his friends, “I’ll see you again tomorrow?” he asked, I nodded happily.
“By the way, I’m Draco Malfoy” he said and we shook hands as our eyes locked, “I’m Hermione Granger.”
I never forgot those mesmerizing silver eyes.
“You shouldn’t be crying,” he simply said.
I sniffed, looking up to find Draco looking down at me. “Excuse me?”
“You shouldn’t be crying,” he said again, and sat on the marble bench next to me. “They’re not worth it.”
“How do you know that?” I replied and sniffed again, watching him as he looked at his own hands.
“They don’t appreciate your cleverness,” he told me, and his lips formed a reassuring smile. “Don’t beat yourself up too much.”
I smiled and nodded, dried my wet cheeks with my sleeve.
“Go clean yourself up in the toilet, the Halloween feast is about to start.”
He rose from the bench to leave the corridor.
I had almost reached the girls’ bathroom, when I heard him call for me.
“Yes?” I asked and turned around to see him stare at me.
“I’ll see you later, right?” he asked, I nodded. He grinned and left the corridor.
I couldn’t stop smiling, I had a friend.
Little did I know I’d be saved from being squashed by a Troll minutes later and gain two more friends.
“Why are you being so stupid? I thought we were friends!” I yelled at him.
His pale face turned red. “I’m not supposed to be friends with you!” he yelled back. His hair tousled from the frustrating grip of his own hands.
I stared at him, perplexed with what I’ve just heard.
“But... You didn’t mind in the beginning. What changed that?” I asked numbly.
“I… I didn’t know you were a muggleborn…” he replied. His eyes shining from unshed tears. His words felt like being stabbed in the heart, I never thought that I’d be capable to feel this hurt at the age of 11. He had hurt me when he ignored my calls in the corridors and when I tried to talk to him in the library, he had moved from our usual spot.
I was about to leave when he grabbed my arm.
“I’m not allowed to talk to you…” he whispered, “I’ve been raised to hate someone like you.”
I turned to face him, “but I’ve done nothing wrong” I said, confused why anyone would raise their son to hate someone because of their bloodline.
“I know…” he said, I could see the pain in his eyes, “but I still want to be your friend.”
I walked by the castle, my fingers touching the bricks as I watched the forest, the lake and the blue sky above me. I needed to be alone with my thoughts and my feelings, just for a moment.
I walked around the castles walls, listening to the birds songs and the wind blow through the trees, I felt blissful… until I saw him, sitting up against the wall a few metres from me.
I stopped and turned around, hoping he hadn’t seen or heard me.
“Hermione?” he asked, I didn’t move.
I heard him get up from the grass and approach me.
“I was just thinking about you,” he said, “I-“
I turned around to face him, his eyes locked with mine, “why did you do that Draco?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment; he stared at me with those silver eyes.
“I’m sorry” he finally said, “I know I shouldn’t have called you that.”
“Yet you did…” I said, “I just don’t understand it Draco, you don’t even like them… why do you say stuff like that to me when you’re with them?”
He closed his eyes. Even though he had hurt me greatly when he had called me mudblood, I found myself wishing he’d open his eyes so I could drown into those silver orbs.
“I wish I could explain to you, how it is to have so many people expect and demand something from you, especially your parents… I can’t escape it… except when I’m with you.”
He opened his eyes and I could see the familiar pain in them, the same pain I saw a year ago.
I simply walked over to him and took him by surprise when I hugged him for the first time. He froze but then relaxed after a minute, hugging me back. “Thank you” he whispered.
Please don't close your eyes, don't know where to look without them
His face was smudged in dirt, his usually blonde hair almost brown but it only made his eyes much more sharp and in deep contrast with his soiled skin. His arms on either side of me, I noticed they began to shake after I touched his face.
I still cupped his face, my thumbs caressing him softly. I felt him relax from my touch; he didn’t breathe so heavily anymore. His words lingered in my head, his voice so dry and husky when he said them… ‘I’ve been searching for you since last summer.’ I couldn’t hear anything else but the sound of his voice.
I played them over and over again in my mind. He had searched for me…
I could barely see his pale skin beneath the dirt, my fingers turning dark from touching his face. He sighed contentedly and closed his eyes. My thumb slowly touched his lips, he parted his lips and his hot breath once again danced across my skin, sending me goose bumps.
I bit my lower lips to stop me from crying; the overwhelming feeling of being safe and the fact that he was alive was almost too much for me. After being on the run for a year, not sleeping without having constant nightmares of my loved ones being tortured and killed, never to be able to see them again, I grew tired and fell into a zombie-like state.
But I never stopped thinking of him.
“Draco, you shouldn’t be here, what if they caught you sitting here with me?” I told him for the tenth time, he only chuckled.
“It’s only because it’s embarrassing for you, you want me out,” he told me. He was reading the Prophet while he sat on my bed in the Hospital Wing.
“And you still haven’t told me what happened.” He stopped reading and our eyes met.
If all this fur weren’t covering my whole face, he would have seen the blush on my cheeks. I bit my lower lip, knowing well enough I shouldn’t betray Harry and Ron by telling the truth to Draco.
“I bet it has something to do with the boys…” he said suggestively, trying to lure the story out of me.
“Draco, please,” I groaned and I was sure it sounded like a meow when it came out; Draco couldn’t stop laughing so I guess he’d heard it too.
“Fine, you’ll tell me when you’re ready,” he said after a few minutes, continuing his reading of the newspaper.
I relaxed. “Thank you.”
“But I can’t say I’m too thrilled with Potter and Weasley for putting you through this. They should be more careful.”
This time I didn’t reply. I just smiled as I watched him read his newspaper at the edge of my bed.
The feeling of the grass beneath me, the wind blowing through the trees, I lay on the ground, watching the clouds. It felt good to be out here, safe from the troubles that came with the friendship of Harry and Ron.
“You’re always so happy out here” he spoke softly, he lay next to me, his head resting on his hands as he smiled up to the sky, “it’s a little weird.”
I smiled, “you’re the weird one, Draco” I said as I watched an eagle fly across the sky.
I heard him fake a surprised and offended sound, “what have I done?”
“Oh please, I’ve noticed you have this little routine in Potions class when we’re about to brew a potion, can that knife get any cleaner?” I teased; he laughed and replied “you got me.”
We continued to watch the sky in content silence, something we did every weekend. I did it to escape the world of problems, expectations and drama. I never asked Draco but I could imagine he did it for the same reasons.
“Do you think you’ve grown up too fast?” he suddenly said quietly.
Confused, I turned my head to face him, his face all serious. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“We’re only thirteen Hermione, but I feel like I lost my childhood a long time ago…” he said, I watched him as sadness washed over his face, my heart cringed. “I’ve seen too much, experienced too much to feel and think like a child anymore…”
His words scared me more than anything; a sudden urge to hold him erupted in me. I didn’t move my arms, merely watched him as I held my breath, trying to hide my emotions.
“I sometimes get this feeling that something bad is going to happen” he whispered, he moved his face, our eyes met, “not now, but in the future.”
“Draco, do you know something?” I asked.
After a moment he whispered “I can’t say…” and looked up to the sky again.
I lay in my bed, in the middle of the night, crying silently. Never had I done something I’ve regretted as much as this. I had slapped Draco, he deserved it. But here I am, crying because I lost a friend, my escape from reality and from the world. I lost my place of blissfulness, where I could be myself and never be afraid to get judged. If only he hadn’t been affected by his so-called friends… This year it was hard to overlook his behaviour towards Harry, Ron and me. Oh how many times we’ve argued over it, we could scream at each other behind the castle, at our usual spot, only to sit still minutes after, silent and listening to our own heartbeats, trying to forget what we had just argued about.
This time we weren’t able to fix it. The empty space he used to fill was gaping; I never really succeeded in filling it with something else. As much as I loved Harry and Ron, their company would never be like his.
Whenever I left the Great hall, I’d catch him watching me, his stare could be described as longing, as caring, as yearning, but I never allowed myself to think of that. I tried to convince myself he’d turned to the darker side of the world and I could never see him as my friend again.
But I couldn’t fool myself.
I knew he cared.
His gently put his forehead against mine; his hands touched my arms, holding me.
I watched his lips form a smile and a single tear glided down his cheek. I let my hands touch his chest, his shirt ripped and torn from the battles he’d fought earlier.
“I’ve been searching for you in the news, from the tales of others, eavesdropping on the meetings at my house…” he said, his voice still as dry as before, “I tried to get clues to where I could find you.”
I smiled and a small laugh escaped me. He looked at me with confusion.
“This can’t be happening; you can’t really be here…” I said, “I finally have gone mad from loneliness.”
He touched my chin with his finger and lifted my head gently, so our eyes met and again his silver grey orbs took my breath away.
“I’m right here,” he whispered, “you’re as sane as you possibly can be, Hermione.”
I didn’t reply, perhaps he was right, I was still sane. This was real, the war, the fight, the ruin that used to be Hogwarts and him holding me in his arms. But what I never understood is how I could have longed for him, longed for his care, for him to be with me when he never was mine? I only remember hugging him twice in my life; first time in Second Year, when he told me of his parents and their demands, what they expected of him at such a young age. The second time he wasn’t aware of, as he was unconscious from the curse Harry casted on him, tearing his skin apart. I’d rushed to the Hospital Wing in the middle of the night; the need to see him was too great. I hadn’t been that close to him in a long time and the little boy I once knew had grown to a young man. I’d seen him almost every day in the Great hall, in the corridors and in the dungeons as Potions class, but never had I been up close to him since we parted as friends. I remember gently touching his face, his pale face even paler than before, dripping in sweat from the pain he endured even in his deep sleep. I was with him for the entire night, whispered muggle children’s tales to him, thinking it would easy his mind from whatever trouble he was going through. I knew nothing of his mission back then, but I knew he wasn’t staying up all night, losing weight and getting darker eyes just because of his homework. I hugged his still body as I left before Madam Pomfrey found me there. I never got the chance to tell him I’d been there for him, but I got a distinct feeling that he knew it.
“Remember when we danced?” he whispered, his lips turned into a smile.
I nodded, how could I ever forget the night we danced? His eyes glistened, his finger still gently holding my chin up, I still felt very aware of his touch, I felt alive in his presence.
“Fourth year,” he whispered again, I closed my eyes to get a better vision of the night of the Yuleball.
“I followed you through the corridors and out to the grounds, watching your dress swing from your movements” he started, I could see him follow me. “You looked so beautiful, I almost didn’t believe it was you in front of me, yet I kept following. I’d missed you so much; I needed to know if you missed me too…” his voice grew huskier, “I remember your surprised face when I called for you, the moonlight making your dress glow. Then that familiar smile on your face, one I hadn’t seen in a year, and I walked up to you. You couldn’t stop smiling, you were so happy to see me and I felt like a fool not having the guts to walk up to you for a year.”
I smiled as I remembered him in his Yuleball robes, vulnerable and hesitant when he had called my name, how I’d react. He had chosen the right night to call for me, as if he knew how I needed him at that moment, as if he knew that no one else understood me and I needed a place to be accepted. I remember his face, the relief on him as he saw how happy he made me; I remember his smile in the moonlight.
“You had looked so troubled after your conversation with Ron and Harry, I felt a need to comfort you – I didn’t care if you’d reject me, at least I tried” he whispered and his fingers trailed along my jaw, “there you were, looking so beautiful and so happy to see me. Remember I asked for a dance?”
I nodded, my smile grew wider.
“We danced in silence, your head resting on my chest; I could feel your smile all the time. I will always remember that night.”
I always remembered that night too, how it felt so safe to be with him, safer than it should feel. How our hands intertwined and he hummed a beautiful melody, making my heart flutter and beat with happiness.
But what I also remembered was his ignorance afterwards.
I opened my eyes and he caught my seriousness in my look. He knew what I was thinking of; how I’d wished he’d stop tormenting me, insulting me in front of his friends, how I’d wished he’d be my friend again but he told me it was too late, he was in too deep to let me into his life again, it was for my own protection. If his family and friends found out we were friends, they’d be after me.
“It was the only way,” he told me, I nodded, it hurt me but it was the truth.
I was sure he knew something, something he didn’t to tell me at the time.
I watched him as he walked by me, hand in hand with Pansy Parkinson. Of course he didn’t look at me, but I saw his eyes flash towards me in a split second. I stood still as they disappeared by the corner, leaving me alone in the corridor. He never really was a big part of my life, like Ron and Harry, yet he was all I could think about. I missed his friendship, our mutual understanding. It’s been a year since we silently danced on the grounds outside, his hand on my lower back and my head resting on his chest – it felt like home. No matter how much I tried to deny it, I knew I cared, far too much for my liking.
That following weekend, there was a trip to Hogsmeade. I of course joined, following Harry and Ron around. After I got my needed quills and bottles of ink, we walked in to the Honeydukes Sweetshop; I swear I heard Ron squealed like a little girl by the sight of all the candy. I walked around quietly, looking at all the candy, wondering how they’d made them. I looked at the different colours and shapes of their gum, one of the sorts changed colours by themselves. There was Liquorice in hundreds of different shapes; wands, brooms (which could actually fly – but only had a good ten metres in them), trees and wizards and I could go on and on. I finally reached the girly candy part of the shop, almost every nuance of red and pink filled the wall. No wonder almost all students in Hogwarts used up all their money in here, it was hard not to think of a good reason not to buy all this stuff.
As I watched a little fluffy candy, spin around on the table until it lost all its magic and stopped spinning, when a hand put a heart shaped sweet on a stick neatly on the table in front me.
For a moment I stared at the red heart shaped sweet, packed elegantly in see-through gift wrap and adorned with a little pink bow, wondering who put it there. Was it for me?
I looked up to see Draco walking away, I suddenly felt comforted.
I watched as he reached the open door, he turned around before leaving. The way he looked at me, by the way he smiled, I knew…
Our foreheads still touching, his hands cupping my face, he looked into my eyes. His silver eyes glistening, flashing from my eyes to my lips. I gulped, feeling my body break into a sweat and my heart beat faster.
He slowly leaned in and kissed me softly.
I suddenly felt dazed, high, loved. His hands dug into my hair and I threw my arms around his neck as our kiss deepened, as it grew more passionate and warm.
He broke the kiss, panting and his hands still in my hair. He stared at me for a moment, as if reality had hit him. Terror formed his face and he quickly looked around; the corridor was empty. The battles and cries from the other side of the castle echoed through the halls, making me feel foolish for not helping the others in the fight.
“Go” he told me, as if reading my thoughts, “hide, fight, flee, whatever you do – be careful!”
I nodded sternly; the war wasn’t over yet, though for a moment it had seemed to be over. How I wished it was true. Now I had to help Harry, Ron and the others, I prayed they’d still be alive.
I broke into a run, but was stopped immediately as he gripped my arm. Confused I turned around, his lips crushed into mine, I instantly kissed back. This kiss was different, it was more brutal, honest; I could almost taste his despair in it, his anger and his fear.
“When will I see you again?” I whispered, the second we broke our kiss. He kissed me again, very lightly.
“Don’t worry, I’ll find you” he whispered back, his hoarse voice making me want to kiss him again. I smiled, nodded and turned around to run as fast as I could, feeling my heart break as I thought of leaving him. Would we ever see each other again? How long would I have to wait again?
Oh how it felt like I was leaving my heart behind.
I was standing outside the tent, it was freezing cold and all I had was a thick old coat and my beanie. A few days ago I’d forgotten my gloves on our old campsite. Harry didn’t want me to go back to get them, in case the Death Eaters were around the area. That meant I had to knit my own pair of gloves.
I sat in silence, forever tired, suffering from insomnia. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Ron tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry killed by Lord Voldemort, Ginny chased through the woods, scared to death, my parents hit by Avada Kedavra in Australia. Worst of all, I saw Draco, on the floor bleeding, barely alive, whispering my name. What I never understood was why that scared me more than anything, so here I was – too scared to even sleep.
I sat on the ground, keeping guard as Harry slept inside the tent; I could hear his snoring.
I sat there, wondering how much longer I could keep up with this. How much longer could my body endure, my mind had become very fragile from the lack of sleep, making me sure I was close to insanity. I was sometimes sure I saw a person hide behind a tree nearby, after walking around the tree five times I was sure I was losing my mind – there was nobody around.
The winter was harsh and cold, as I sat there, wishing I was inside Hogwarts, having a cup of cocoa in front of the fire with Harry and Ron, them not fighting anymore, all happy and there are no worries about the future. I imagined a world without Lord Voldemort, a world were Harry still had his parents, he still had his godfather, my parents still knew my existence… and I sometimes caught myself wishing I’d still be friends with Draco.
I felt guilty every time I thought of him, I felt like I betrayed Harry and Ron but at the same time I didn’t really care… My heart worked in mysterious ways, often debating with myself whether or not to allow my dreams to include him. But this night, this very evening, I allowed myself to do dream of him, to include him in my ‘what ifs’.
Slytherin and Gryffindor wouldn’t be mutual enemies and there would be no insulting muggleborns. He and I wouldn’t have the need to hide our friendship.
Was he alright out there? Wherever he was…
I hoped he was doing alright, if only I knew. My stomach twisted with worry. I wished he was here with me, comforting me. We’d lie on the ground, watching the sky through the tree tops, talking about what we’ve learned in school, laugh about Filchs’ attempt to constantly keep second floor clean. I looked down at my hands; they were almost blue from the cold, how I wished I’d at least experienced to hold hands with a boy before I died at such a young age. It felt so good to be held by him in Fourth Year when we danced, his hand holding mine and the other resting on my lower back.
“You shouldn’t worry so much; it’ll only make you look older.”
I saw him, standing before me, smiling. I couldn’t help but very tiredly smile back, “it’s hard not to.”
I chuckled, his hands in his pockets. I watched him as he walked closer. “Should I be scared now that I can see you?” I asked as he kneeled in front of me, his hands reached for mine.
“Maybe, maybe not” he simply replied as his hands covered mine. I didn’t feel anything.
“You’re very tired Hermione” he said, worry in his voice, “you haven’t slept in over a week, it’s amazing you can keep it a secret to Harry.”
I smiled, “there are lots of things Harry doesn’t know” I said, Draco narrowed his eyes, “okay the only thing he doesn’t know is about you!”
He grinned, “yeah that and the fact that you often daydream of me.”
I couldn’t stop smiling and felt my cheeks get warmer, “it’s not that much Draco” I said, his smile got bigger and happier when I said it. I hated to admit it, but it was always amazing to see him smile. He placed himself next to me, beckoned me to rest my head on his lap, I did so.
I felt so safe, for the first time since Harry, Ron and I had been on the run, trying to find the Horcruxes. It was hard to relax when you always were on guard, making sure you never made a mistake, making sure you used every protective spell around the tent… and it only got worse when Ron ran away.
The feeling of safety made me even more tired and I felt my eyelids getting heavier.
“Draco, have I gone insane?” I asked, because I knew perfectly well he couldn’t be real. This was all an imagination, flawlessly performed by my high intelligence of a brain.
I heard him chuckle, “no, you’re just very tired. You just have to accept the things as they are, everything happens for a reason” he said, I closed my eyes.
“Think of me as a way your subconscious tries to lure you to sleep,” he now whispered, “it needs to rest too…”
I finally fell asleep.
A year after the war, I was in London again after being in Australia for 9 months. My parents were safe and sound, of course really angry when I told them what I’ve done but understood me nonetheless.
I walked through the Diagon Alley, having just arrived yesterday, still tired from the long trip back with my parents, but all I wanted was to see Diagon Alley again. See how life in Britain turned to the better after the death of Lord Voldemort. The streets were alive with chatter, with laughter and children beckoning their parents to get some candy and the newest broom. I couldn’t stop smiling, it felt good to be back and I couldn’t wait to see Harry and Ron.
The real reason to why I had wanted to go to Diagon Alley was because I wanted to give Harry and Ron some gifts, also something for little Ted to play with.
I walked through the crowd, some instantly recognized me and poked their fellow companions to point at me in awe, others stared curiously at me, wondering why people stared at me and one in particular, smiled widely at me.
He stood in front of me, tall and broad shouldered. His pale skin clean compared to when I last saw him, his white blonde hair shorter than before and his silver eyes glistening in the sun.
He was more handsome than I remembered and it took my breath away.
“I’ve been waiting for you” he said.
I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t care what others thought, I happily kissed him right there, in the middle of Diagon Alley. People clapped and whistled.
I was finally home.
The extremely gorgeous Chapter Image is made by the lovely Elenia @ TDA.
This story is undergoing editing, it's not entirely finished. Sorry. I'm trying to make it less confusing to read.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Reviews are much appreciated, constructive or not :)
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