Chapter 7 : Chapter 7 ~ Resolve
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JKR is the best and this is her creation!!! :)
Chapter 7 ~ Resolve
Draco stood there staring at Hermione Granger. He had no idea what she had done and gone through to help Potter with his “mission.” He could understand parts of why she didn’t share a lot about the magical world with her parents, but how could they not have seen the caring actions from their daughter. She went as far as to purposely lose her parents with magic to protect them and she had done it herself. His feeling of needing to protect her was even stronger now. She had no family and didn’t really have any friends either, along with dealing with all the pain of what had happened during the war and the grief of people she’d lost.
He was surprised that she was as functional as she was. Most people would have collapsed within themselves and turned in to a very depressed loner. Draco saw just how amazingly brave Granger was and recognized the strength it took to come back to Hogwarts. What lifted his spirits a little was when she had actually told him to his face that the notes she received meant a lot to her. Of course, she had no idea it was him who kept writing and sending them, but he was glad that they helped her. They continued to work in silence but had moved to sit side by side while working on the records together. When the cat chimed, they put stuff away in a relaxed manner and walked next to each other back to their dormitory. This time Draco could tell that neither of them was uncomfortable about the situation as they had been just days before.
When he let her climb through the portrait, he thought that she might just continue on into her House’s door, but right as she was about to enter the bubble around the doorway he heard her say,
He nodded to her and then she was gone.
As he lay down and Seren curled up next to him in bed, he thought of Granger and everything she had just told him. He knew that no one else knew anything about her parents or how exactly she was feeling. He doubted that Potter and his girlfriend knew about Ron Weasley either, otherwise he was sure they would be acting differently towards him. Draco told himself that he was going to be there for her and be her friend. The difference between his actions before tonight and now was that now he was going to make an outstanding effort to be her friend.
Sunday was the day that everyone else slept in, but Hermione was up relatively early. It was also Halloween and everyone was just taking the day to have fun. That morning, she was one of about ten students actually at breakfast and then she went right to her cubby in the library. She started to work on her school projects and the 2-foot essay that was due Wednesday for Charms, but couldn’t concentrate right then. So she went and got a novel to read to ease her mind. She was almost done with the 250 page book when she heard someone near her location. She paused and was just finding her spot on the page when a blonde head came around the book shelves.
“Hey, mind if I join you?” Malfoy asked her.
This was unexpected. She didn’t trust her voice and wasn’t sure so she just tilted her head and then sort of nodded. She watched as he took a seat in the other armchair, which he had shifted slightly so it allowed him to look out over the grounds. He extended his legs out and let them rest on the pillow of the window seat as she put his hands behind his head. She watched as he glanced over the table that was covered in her books and papers. A small smile lifted the corners of his mouth but he quickly composed himself.
“I see that you’re working very hard… am I bothering you?”
“Well, I was but I felt like taking a break.”
“So you read another book?” He said smirking.
“I like to read.” She stated and crossed her arms.
He looked at her and sighed.
“Don’t you have any other hobbies or interests other than reading and schoolwork?”
“I… um.” She paused, no one else knew… “I’ve thought about flying like you do, but I don’t really know how.”
He smiled and his eyes lit up a little.
“Maybe I’ll show you sometime.”
Hermione wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, so she kept her mouth shut. To her surprise Malfoy pulled out his bag and took out the book they had for Charms. Then he dramatically measured out 2 feet of parchment and set it down on the table. Hermione couldn’t help but smile a little. They fell into a comfortable silence and both started to work on their essay. Malfoy’s kitten, Seren, made an appearance and curled up between them on the window seat after greeting both of them.
All throughout the time they worked, Hermione couldn’t help but glance up at him occasionally. She thought back to the previous night when he had mentioned his parents. Everyone knew that Lucius Malfoy was in Azkaban, but the crimes mentioned had been a list and what Draco said he did to Narcissa wasn’t on it. She wondered if the Ministry had been asked not to publicly announce that detail. She wondered if he would answer her if she asked,
“Malfoy, um… what happened to your mother?”
He stiffened and Hermione thought she had gone too far. Expecting a nasty retort, she quickly muttered an incoherent “never mind” and went back to her book. Then she heard him start to speak,
“My father, he was never the nicest person. He was horrid and prejudice. He controlled everything I did growing up and if I didn’t act and say exactly what he wanted, I was punished. I never wanted to treat you the way I did, but he expected it and some of my behavior came out of anger. It became easier to be mean because you were the reason I was punished. I always wished I could have been friends with you and Potter, but my father wouldn’t hear of such a thing. Through the war, he began to wonder if being a loyal follower of Voldemort was a bit extreme, but he still agreed with most of the ideals presented. He just let things happen in the manor and mother was punished for my behavior. Voldemort figured out quickly that I was more connected to her and if I did something he didn’t like, he took it out on her. Father didn’t do anything about it and he didn’t help her when she was bleeding or hurt either. After the war, he knew he was in trouble and I had fled from the manor. He turned his rage on my mother especially when she refused to write and force me to come back to the manor. He tortured her daily for a week. She was somehow able to write me a letter and basically said farewell to me. She also told me to make sure my father was imprisoned. She thought he was going to kill her, but she ended up in a worse state than death. She doesn’t remember who she is or me and she’s basically a sickly child now that has to be taken care of. She’s in a special unit in St. Mungo’s.”
Hermione’s heart was aching. It sounded like Draco’s (yes… Draco) mother was in a similar state as Longbottom’s parents. His mother didn’t deserve that fate. Hermione didn’t know what to say but somehow words came out of her mouth anyways,
“I’m so sorry Draco.”
His face was gloomy and subdued but she saw him glance up quickly at the sound of his name. Hermione realized this was the first time she’d ever said it without it being spit from her mouth in distaste. Silence followed and she wondered if she’d made things worse between them again. Shortly after her apology, Draco packed up his stuff and started to leave. Now she was convinced she’d angered him, but he stopped at the edge of the book shelves turning slightly, staring at the books in front of him,
“If you ever wonder where Seren likes to go, she follows me up to the community room. Happy Halloween.”
Then he left.
Hermione wondered if that was his way of inviting her to spend time with him. Did she feel comfortable with that idea? Honestly, yes. Something had drastically changed since detention yesterday and he wasn’t so bad to be around. He was now fairly quiet and tolerable in class. Not to mention the strange bond they had now with each other’s secrets. A few minutes later, she gathered her things and headed to dinner. Approaching the Gryffindor table, she was greeted by a smile from Harry and a small wave from Ginny. Hermione vaguely wondered what they would think if she told them of this new “friendship” with Malfoy. She doubted they would like it.
It was all Quiddich talk through dinner, which meant that yet again she was left out of the conversation and ignored. She stared at the ceiling and the hundreds of carved candles that lit the hall, giving it a more eerie feel. Each table had a huge and magnificently carved pumpkin on it and there were lots of themed dinner delicacies. She watched as everyone else laughed and overheard a few students talking about pranks they had pulled, many of them involving Weasley products. Hermione summoned a small piece of paper from her bag and wrote George a quick note. She excused herself from the table and went to the owlry to send it.
That night Hermione fell asleep thinking of everything she and Draco had talked about. He knew more about her right now than anyone. Sure she talked to George a bit, but she was more of a support for him to talk. And Harry, she couldn’t bring herself to tell him about her problems and what was going on with Ron. In all the years at Hogwarts, she never would have believed it if someone had told her that her one friend to talk to would be Draco Malfoy, but here she was.
Hermione groaned and she opened her eyes. She had been kept up by nightmares again and had barely slept. This would not be one of her better days. She dragged herself out of bed and used more magic than usual to get herself ready. She only made it to the hall in time to grab a piece of toast and turn and leave for Transfiguration. As students filed out of the hall with her, she noticed a certain blonde was not far ahead her. Eating the last bite of her toast quickly, she realized that everyone around her was slowing down and coming to a stop. Wondering what was going on she tried to find an opening to look ahead. This ended up not being necessary. It was revealed to everyone just exactly what, or who, was holding up an entire corridor.
Peeves. He had been behaving himself for the first couple months at school, but obviously it hadn’t lasted. He had set up a labyrinth of cords that connected to the walls making it impossible to walk through the corridor unless a person ducked, crawled, climbed and squeezed themselves in between and under the cords. By the time students had used their wands to clear enough of the cords for a pathway, Hermione knew she was late. It wouldn’t have been an issue for her in any other class, but this was her class with Mirtac who seemed to hate her. She sprinted the rest of the way to class and only entered a few seconds after Draco and one other student, but the glare from their professor was saved solely for her.
“Miss Granger, do you understand the importance of being on time to class?”
“Yes, I do. But –“
“I don’t need excuses, but you would do well to not make a habit of this. Take your seat.”
Hermione slammed her bag down and slid into her seat next to the blonde. Angry tears rimmed her eyes, but only one managed to escape.
“Don’t let her get to you.” Said the person beside her.
She didn’t respond. Glancing at the board, she saw that they needed to write down the instructions written there and then proceed with the incantation it described. Good, something to make her concentrate. Just as she was done copying the notes, Draco slid a paper into her view. A small smile made its way onto her face. It was a good but rough drawing of Professor Mirtac being eaten by a horrible beast all while telling it she didn’t want its excuses. She couldn’t resist taking the picture and tucking it into her bag to admire later.
Once classes were done for the day, and Harry stopped trying to comfort her about how their professor seemed to hate her, she grabbed her books and headed to the upper community room.
Draco sat at dinner fuming still from the morning’s events. Granger didn’t deserve to be treated like that. She was a bright witch and good student. He had tried to cheer her up with his ridiculous drawing and he was glad to see that it had worked. He had noticed that she even tucked it in her bag. But the thought of how much she was going through and her pain had been on his mind and he was now mutilating his baked potato. Blaise approached him with a look of curiosity and caution on his face,
“Alright, why are you killing your poor baked potato. What did it do to you?”
“Well I was imagining it as someone’s face.”
“Oh? And who’s face might that be?”
Draco looked up in the silence to see Blaise with confusion on his face. He sat down next to Draco,
“Uh, why are you imagining shredding our professor’s face?”
Draco could see the wheels turning in Blaise’s mind and hoped that he did NOT come to the correct conclusion. Things were not in Draco’s favor apparently.
“Wait, are you angry about how she treated Granger?”
Draco looked down and pretended to be interested in the severely ripped apart potato.
“Why are you so hung up on it? Do you fancy her?”
“No, that’s not why.” Draco said, feeling that his answer was mostly true. “I just have this feeling of making things up to her because of what my family and I did to her. And I’m done with the better-than-everyone-around me act.”
Blaise just nodded while studying him. Instead of saying anything else, Draco’s friend decided to pull everything he could reach in his direction and began piling food on his plate. Shortly after, Draco managed to escape and headed back to the dormitory. He made sure he had all his books for homework and then scooped up Seren on his way to the community room that everyone had forgotten about.
He had been sitting there playing with Seren for about 10 minutes when he heard someone coming up a staircase. Concentrating on the sound, he figured it was from the Gryffindor archway. Curious, he watched to see who emerged. Seconds later Granger was standing there. She looked around and caught him with a ribbon in his hand while Seren batted at it enthusiastically.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize you were here.” She said quietly.
“Well I did tell you I come up here with Seren.”
He hoped she would catch his light tone. She seemed to because she walked over and set her stuff down on the huge chair across from him. She slumped into the huge seat and sighed. Draco wasn’t sure if he should say something or wait for her. He decided that the best choice for his life and wellbeing would be to wait for her to speak.
“I hate her. I don’t understand what I do so wrong? But she seems to be on your side and like you.” She huffed.
Draco tried not to smile. He didn’t think Hermione had ever actually hated a teacher before.
“Yeah, but I don’t think she’d like me as much if she saw that drawing I made of her.”
She smiled a little. He watched as Seren jumped onto her lap and her smile got even bigger. His kitten stretched out across her lap and was purring ridiculously loud. He rolled his eyes and looked back at Hermione.
“So to what do I owe this… encounter?”
He saw her blush a little and become shy.
“I… I didn’t feel like being alone.”
“Ah, well you came to the right place. Seren is here and will be thrilled to receive more attention. She seems to love you, so I’ll give you two some space.”
He hoped she would recognize his joke. She was looking at him and seemed to be considering what he said. Her face had brightened a little,
“Well maybe she likes me better… how does that make you feel? Poor Draco lost his kitten.”
He could not believe it. She was toying with him. He decided not to take it any further but let her have her way a little.
“Guess that means I’ll just sit here in the corner and wait for her to come round again.”
As if she knew they were talking about her, Seren turned to look at him and meowed as she flicked her tail. She then jumped onto the arm of the chair and curled up there. They both laughed and then Draco watched as Hermione pulled out her homework. As she was pulling out a book, he noticed a letter fall out. It was written to her. He picked it up and handed it back to her.
“Can I ask who’s writing you?”
Not a name he was expecting to hear. He just looked at her. This girl was full of surprises tonight. He realized he must have appeared pretty confused because she spoke again,
“We’ve been talking a lot lately. He’s having a rough time with losing his twin and he felt he could talk to me.”
“He’s been the only one to really talk to me since getting here… well, besides you.”
Draco almost missed the last part of what she said because her voice had lowered to a whisper. He nodded but decided that if she wanted to tell him more she would. He pulled the essay he had been finishing towards him and went back to work. He felt her studying him for a while and then she began working as well. After about an hour, Draco was hungry and pulled out the muffins he had taken from dinner. He laid them out on the table between their stuff and gestured to them,
“Go ahead and take a couple if you want.”
She took one and pinched off pieces before putting them in her mouth. She was halfway through her first muffin when she spoke,
“Why did you come back?”
He thought for a moment.
“I wanted to show people who I have always been underneath. I was never truly the jerk I acted as when I was here before the war. My father wanted me to be a certain person and uphold his family values. Like I said before, I was punished and because you were the people I was jealous of and part of the reason I was punished, it was easier for me to be cruel. Now that he’s gone and I can be who I want, I came back in an attempt to show my true side… Not that anyone notices.”
“I have.” She said quietly. “Even though I said you hadn’t changed, you have, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”
Draco’s heart sky-rocketed at her words, but his mind began to analyze. How could she have forgiven him and be acting so kind? Out of all the people he had bullied, he had treated her the worst. How was she so damaged yet was the only one to have given him a chance and voluntarily spent time with him. He couldn’t understand it. He thought of what he had done and the actions he carried out. Suddenly he felt sick and anger and wanted to be away from her. She was so good and strong. He couldn’t take it. He was a monster and an evil man. Without another word, Draco grabbed his stuff and practically ran back down the staircase to his House. He completely ignored her calling after him.
Staring at the staircase leading to the Slytherin house, Hermione sat stunned. She had no idea what just happened. One moment she and Draco were having fun talking about his cat, then some silence and then he basically raced away from her as though his life depended on it. Maybe it had all been too good to last? Of course a friendship with Draco Malfoy wouldn’t work out, what had she been thinking?
The rest of the week dragged on, and on and on. Draco hadn’t said a word to her unless it was required about a project. He had even angled his body in a way during their astronomy class so that he had his back to her. It stung a little and she racked her brain and memories to figure out if she’d done something wrong, but nothing ever came to mind. Why was he suddenly cold? Although he was giving her the cold shoulder and not talking to her, he was still civil when they did interact. This almost made it worse for her to figure out. When Thursday came around, she thought about talking to him during detention.
Thursday morning was a very gloomy November day. The clouds were all grey and swirled in and out of different patterns. Hermione had slept about a total of 3 hours and felt drained to the point of exhaustion. Not how she wanted to feel when she planned on talking to Malfoy. The day crept by at the pace of a snail. She had actually fallen asleep for a couple minutes and only woke up when Harry had kicked her chair. When it was time for detention, she slowly made her way along the corridors and stumbled into the classroom. Knowing that she was going to meet the floor, she began to move her arms forward to catch herself. But instead of feeling the pain go through her arms, she felt two very strong arms wrap around her waist and catch her. She blinked and looked up into Draco’s face, she saw concern. So he didn’t hate her. Once Hermione regained her footing, the arms around her quickly released and he moved past her into the room.
She followed him the rest of the way in and set her stuff down under the table. Fumbling with the top of the box, she opened it and began to pull out the records,
“Granger what’s wrong with you?”
She was so tired that it took her a few seconds to register his words.
“I’m just tired.”
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
He looked at her with an odd expression, but didn’t answer. Hermine looked at her papers and started to read. 10 minutes later she realized she had read the same sentence 4 times and hadn’t understood a word of it. She leaned over and put her head in her hands. More time went by in silence and she felt a little irritated,
“What did I do Malfoy?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I thought things were better but then you just left the other day and haven’t said almost a single word to me all week.”
“It’s not you…”
“That doesn’t answer anything. What changed?”
Silence met her ears and she stared at him, waiting. He threw the records he was working on down on the table and one of his hands violently raked through his hair.
“I’m not a good person. I’m an evil monster and I don’t understand how you of all people could forgive me and proceed to spend time with me. I look at you and feel nothing but shame and anger.”
His voice became louder.
“I treated you and Potter the worst. But then there was everything else that involved you and I either helped or didn’t do a damn thing to protect you. How can you look at me and not see the darkness inside and the hideous things I’ve helped do? I should have just let you hex me that day without any retaliation because I deserve it. Hell I deserve worse than anything you or Potter have ever done to me. I was in the presence of evil and spawned by an evil man, how can you not see the monster standing before you right now? Gah!!!”
He slammed his fists on the table and looked away from her.
Hermione stood there looking at him and realized just how much self-loathing he felt. People muttering about him and ignoring him was nothing compared to the guilt he obviously felt. No one realized it, but he had suffered just as much as the rest of the wizarding world, even more than many. All the irritation she had been feeling vanished and she thought about the words she had just heard. He sounded close to breaking down like she had. None of this would have crossed her mind unless he told her. No one knew what went on behind the closed doors of the Malfoy family and what it had really been like for him when Voldemort had actually taken up residence in his home. Because of his mother, he could never really escape at Hogwarts either. Hermione remember 6th year and all the pressure that must have been on him.
“You don’t deserve to be mistreated and you certainly don’t deserve to be injured or die by Harry or I. You feel guilt and remorse. That makes you a person with a heart.”
He was gaping at her. She could tell he didn’t believe her.
She waited for him to speak but he didn’t. Draco was not looking off into space and she just decided to get a little work down before the stupid cat sculpture chimed. The rest of their time went by in complete silence. Hermione did her best to work diligently but was too tired to properly concentrate which meant she had to take extra time to make sure her work was done right. Draco was sitting there staring at a page and Hermione could tell he wasn’t reading it at all. She didn’t want to break the silence and felt that it wasn’t worth the drama to remind him that they were supposed to work in their detentions. When the cat did its little chiming noise, Hermione was so relieved. She needed sleep.
As she packed up everything she couldn’t help but notice that Draco was still sitting and staring off into space. Taking a closer look at him, she could see just how tired he appeared to be and she wondered if he didn’t sleep well either. Not wanting to disturb him, she quietly grabbed her stuff and was almost out of the door when she heard a faint voice,
“Thank you Granger.”
She nodded back to him and continued out the door. Maybe she would be nicer to him. Maybe they could be friends?
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