Chapter 8 : Chapter Eight: Inhumane Guilt
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Hermione had come to the one place where she could seek refuge without getting lost in the distressing torment that was continually present in her mind. Of course, she was at work. It was the only hope she had of losing herself in something that would essentially block out the overwhelming sense of heartbreak and gut wrenching betrayal which resided within her.
She had never felt so betrayed in her life. Not only had her own husband broken her but her best friends had too. After everything she, Harry and Ron had been through they had done this to her. They had lied to her for years. They had witnessed the agony, the torment and the pain but they had said nothing. They were her best friends yet they had done this. The fact that Harry himself had orchestrated the mission, knowing that it meant Draco had to leave Hermione, repulsed her. Hermione and the two boys had a bond that just couldn't be seen in any other friendship on the planet but right now all she felt was hatred for the pair.
Her small hands shook with anger as she tried to shuffle the papers on her mahogany desk but she knew that it was futile to even try to sort through the case file in front of her. She was just too furious. Dropping them onto the desk in front of her she tucked her chesnut locks behind her ears and closed her eyes, taking deep breaths to calm herself down.
Hermione always knew what her next steps were in life. Even when Draco had left she had decided that, after her initial breakdown, she would devote all of her time to finding him. Then, when that proved impossible, she had decided to get back to work and begin her life again. Now though she had no idea what to do. She had no husband and now no friends, apart from Ginny but she was pregnant. She didn't need the unnecessary stress that Hermione's dilemmas would bring. Pansy was always a friend that she would go to but now Draco was back, it was most likley that he was taking advantage of the Zabini's hospitality and friendship. The thought of running into Draco again made her shudder so she knew that going to Pansy's was out of the qestion too. That was it. That was the thing that was slowly reducing her to tears. The lies and deceit were making her irate but it was the loneliness that now consumed her that was saddening her beyond her imagination. She had no one.
It was then that a knock on her office door brought her back into the real world. She tried to collect herself then shouted for whoever it was to enter.
"I hope I'm not intruding, I just wondered if you received my letter and flowers this morning?".
It was Kristian, stood there in all of his richness and beauty. Hermione couldn't help but feel jealous at the sight of him. She could bet that he didn't feel an emptiness inside of him that made him want to scream. She knew that he could never feel loneliness on this scale. He was Kristian Charleston, he had no reason to feel that way. Snapping out of the envious tyrade she had lost herself in, Hermione answered him.
"Yes, I did".
There was a pause in which Kristian didn't know what to say. He knew he had crossed the line at the ball but he had hoped his gesture this morning would have made way for some forgiveness.
"Hermione, I meant what I said in that letter. I really am sorry and I'm so ashamed of myself. Please, I'd do anything to prove to you that I am", he begged.
She didn't know if she actually believed him or if it was her current feeling of isolation that compelled her to forgive him but she did so anyway.
"I suppose I can understand although any slip up like that again and I won't be so lenient".
"Oh, thank you, Hermione. You really don't understand what this means to me", Kristian smiled with his dazzlingly white teeth, "please, let me take you out next week? I must show you how sorry I really am".
Hermione ignored the apprehension in the pit of her stomach and agreed. The attention she was receiving from Kristian was just what she needed at the moment and right now she didn't care about any ulterior motives he may have.
Draco was furious. Not only had he made things a thousand times worse where he and Hermione were concerned, but he had just finished reading the morning's Daily Prophet. He had seen it on the Dining Room table after returning from the Potter residence and couldn't help himself after seeing the headline: 'Lady Malfoy Let's Slip'. It wasn't the insinuations about Hermione and Charleston or even the way he was painted as a love rat that riled him up. It was six words that he had read that flashed through his mind like the police sirens that seemed to be constantly present in the action movies he and Hermione used to watch together. Just six words told him the extent of Hermione's hatred for him: 'the ex Mrs Malfoy, Hermione Granger'.
There it was in black and white. She wasn't Hermione Malfoy anymore, she was Hermione Granger again. That meant that she had done the one thing Draco had always believed she wouldn't. She had divorced him. Draco knew that one could have a divorce granted without their spouse present if there had been no contact for at least three years but he had always thought that Hermione wouldn't. He thought that maybe she would try but that she wouldn't be able to go through with it. He couldn't have been more wrong. She had done it.
Hermione wasn't his wife anymore and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it. It was then that he thought of the first conversation he had with Hermione when he came back. She had never answered him when he asked if she had moved on. If she had divorced him surely she would have wanted to rub it in his face? He knew that wasn't Hermione though. She didn't like to see others upset even if she did hate them. She was probably trying to spare him the heart ache of finding out that they were no longer husband and wife so soon after returning. She was selfless in that way and it was one thing that Draco had always loved about her. Hermione's ability to put everyone before herself, even in the worst of times, had always and would always astound him. It was the first likeable thing he noticed about her all of those years ago when she had caught him crying in the library. He knew she hadn't wanted to stay with him but she had put his needs before hers, even though she hated him.
Thinking of their first days as friends and then lovers made Draco want to vomit. He would never be able to hold her again, tell her he loved her, make her favourite breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup. Never would he lie there in the morning and watch as the sunlight gently illuminated every golden strand on Hermione's head and never again would he ever hear her whisper the words he loved the most. No, Draco knew that he wouldn't hear Hermione tell him she loved him in this life time or the next. It was over and Draco had no one but himself to blame.
His platinum head sunk into his arms as he attempted to hide the few tears that were pouring down his face. He had always known when he was on his mission that this may happen but in his heart he had believed that he and Hermione would always be together. He had clearly underestimated the effect his actions would have had on her.
It was this thought that made him think the conversation he had had with Ginny Potter just hours ago. She had tried to tell him the pain Hermione had been through but he had not wanted to hear it. Now, he did. Maybe if he knew how hurt Hermione had been, he could accept her decision and understand completely why she had divorced him. There was also the nagging in his gut which made him want to find out what it was that Ginny had stopped herself from telling him. Somehow he knew that it was something that would cause him more heartache than understanding but he needed to know. This must be the reason why Hermione hated him much more than he thought she would and probably the reason for her decision to end their marriage.
With this newly found outlook, Draco left Malfoy Manor in search of Hermione. He needn't think hard though. He knew Hermione and he knew that in times like this she threw herself into things that could block out real life from her mind. That meant only one place.
Kristian had just left Hermione's office and despite the circumstances she couldn't help but smile a little. At least someone wanted her in their life, even if she didn't particularly want him. She knew it was a selfish thought but she was past putting other people first. It wasn't like any one did it for her. As she stood in front of her large window a voice sounded in the silence.
"Well, that was cosy".
Draco. He had been stood outside while he heard the love of his life agree to a date with Kristian and it had sickened him to the core. He knew he couldn't act the victim though, he only had himself to blame.
"Eavesdropping is part of your new personality then", Hermione snapped.
She was in no mood for Draco and his games.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to. I just came here to see you".
"Well, I don't want to see you so I would appreciate it if you left", Hermione said as she turned to face Draco.
Contrary to her wishes, Draco stepped into her office and closed the door behind him.
"I just read the Daily Prophet, I can't imagine you're pleased about the article".
"You imagined right", Hemione fumed.
There was a long silence as Draco decided what to say next. He didn't know how best to approach Hermione with the mood she was in and her anger was most understandable. Thankfully, she broke the tension first.
"Draco, what are you doing here?", she sighed.
She was exhausted and this wasn't helping. She just wanted him to say whatever he had to and then leave.
"Hermione, I need to know, what happened to you after I left?".
Hermione was stunned. She could see the caution in Draco's grey eyes as he questioned her and so he should feel that way. How dare he enquire about her well being when he had abandoned her! What did he think happened? That she went out partying, happy that her husband was out of her life?!
"Are you for real? You come here expecting me to tell you what I was like when you DESERTED me just so you can inflate your already humungous ego!".
"It's not like that, I swear. Please, Hermione. I know there's something you're not telling me".
"I don't have to tell you anything anymore, Draco Malfoy! You lost that right when you left me!".
"Don't you think I know that? Don't you think I know that I have no part in your life anymore and that I only have myself to blame?!".
"Well if you knew that would happen why the hell did you go?", Hemione exclaimed.
"Because I didn't think that it would! I knew you'd be angry and you had every right to be but I thought that, after I explained and did everything in my power to show you that I love you more than the air I breathe, you might understand and maybe even forgive me. I know that sounds presumtuous but we were that strong that I didn't think it would completely break us".
Hermione was shocked by Draco's revelation. It was indeed presumtuous but she couldn't deny that she thought that too. Their relationship and marriage was stronger than any she had seen. They were more in love than any other couple she knew and everyone else could see it also. She had thought that anything could be thrown at her and Draco and they would still come out of it together but now, after living through it, she wasn't so sure.
"Your faith in our marriage is endearing Draco and I felt the same too once, but this is just too much. I mean, you left me for a job".
"Hermione, please, I know what I did and what I thought would happen hasn't but you need to know that I love you! Just as much as they day we got married. I missed you so m-".
"If you missed me so much then why didn't you come home? You want to know what I did when you left? I was a mess! For three whole months I wallowed in that house, barely eating or sleeping and I spent my days in tears! Then when I finally snapped out of it, I quit my job and spent a whole year looking for you with Pansy's help. Harry, Ron, Ginny and even my parents thought I had gone mad! My Grandmother even suggested I get sectioned! My whole life was spent devoted to finding you but you didn't want to be found! You didn't want me!".
"I did want you! I still do, Hermione. I wanted you every single day that I was away from you. Our life together was everything to me and it always will be".
"Just stop with the bullshit, Draco! You left me for a job. Our life was nothing to you!".
"It's not bullshit! You know I love you, I know you do!".
"Yeah, maybe I do! But you clearly don't love me enough! If you did you wouldn't have flushed our plans and dreams down the drain when you WALKED OUT!".
"I DIDN'T FLUSH THEM AWAY. I just- I put them on hold. I still want all of that. A villa in France, a summer home in Australia, swimming with dolphins, children, grandchildren. I want all of that and I want all of that with you".
"On hold? It may have escaped your notice, Draco, but babies do not wait around and can't be put on hold!".
"So that's what this about? You wanted to have a baby but then I left?".
"WE WERE GOING TO HAVE A BABY!".
Hermione's hand flew to her mouth as soon as the words came out it. She hadn't wanted to tell him that. She had been through that on her own and he had no right to know but his talk about children had practically torn it from her. Her eyes were wide with shock as she stared at Draco, horrified that she had told him her worst secret. She knew she couldn't take back what she had said. Now, she just had to wait for Draco to comprehend the news.
"We, w- what do you mean?".
He couldn't even form a coherent sentence. What Hermione had just told him had shocked him to the core, and sickened him. If she was saying what he thought she was then he had not only left his wife, but his child too.
"I found out a few weeks before you left. I was going to tell you just a few days later. I had planned a holiday to Dubai for us. I was going to tell you on the tower, exactly on the same spot where you proposed to me".
Tears were streaming down her face as she looked down to the plush cream carpet. She couldn't stand to look at Draco's face. It was one thing for her live through it but to tell Draco was something else. She knew in her heart that if he had known he wouldn't have gone. If she had just told him sooner then they would still be happily married with a child too. She couldn't even bring herself to admit that it was her fault.
"I, but, you was pregnant?".
Draco knew something must have happened for if Hermione had had the baby, Harry would have pulled him straight out of the mission as soon as he found out she was with child. It was then that it dawned on him that this was what Ginny had refused to tell him. No one knew. Hermione had gone though this alone and it was his fault. He was just thankful she had Ginny.
"I- it was all my fault".
She couldn't keep it inside as sobs coursed through her body and she started to break down. She had never spoken to anybody about this. Ginny knew what had happened but Hermione had always refused to let her feelings out on the matter, no matter how much Ginny told her it would help. Now Draco was here, she couldn't stop herself.
In two swift strides he engulfed Hermione into his arms and sunk to the floor with her. He cradled her as they lay there, stroking her hair while tears leaked from his eyes.
"I- I knew that I was pregnant but I just couldn't bring myself to face it. You, you'd left and I couldn't cope. I didn't eat, or or sleep and I just l-lost it. Then, Ginny came round one day and found me in the corner and she saw it. Sh- she took me to hospital but it was too late. It was gone and it was all my fault".
Draco had seen Hermione cry but never had he seen her cry like this. He felt helpless. It was all he could do to hold her and cry with her. This wasn't her fault. It was his. If he hadn't have left Hermione wouldn't have had to suffer in such in a way and, to add their blissfully happy lives, they would be parents.
"I'm so sorry", Draco cried into her hair as she clung to his body, "this is all my fault. I'm so so sorry, Hermione".
He didn't have any other words. He repeated them over and over again for the next few minutes until strangled sobs took over and he cried just as hard as Hermione. He had never been one to cry, especially in front of others but right now he didn't care. He had caused Hermione more hurt than he ever would have imagined and it was killing him.
She lay in his arms for at least another half an hour, while he tightly kept hold of her with his back against the wall. Her cries had resided and small sobs replaced them. It was then that Hermione remembered all that she had found out in the last two days and it washed over her like icy black water. Disentanlging herself from him, she stood and leaned on the table with her back to him.
"I didn't mean for it to come out that way. But now it has and, you, you should just go".
There was a pause as Hermione's words sunk into Draco's brain. Despite his wanting to do nothing but stay by her side forever he knew she didn't want that and he couldn't blame her. He stood from his position on the floor and left. He took one last look at Hermione and said the only thing that would come to mind.
"Don't blame yourself, Hermione, please. This was my fault and my fault alone. I'm sorry. Just, don't forget that I love you".
With that Draco left with a sense of guilt he didn't think was humanly possible.
Another sad chapter :( but that is what this story is really based on. I hope you're enjoying so far! Please let me know what you think and leave a review! Thanks, MM :)
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