Chapter 11 : Chapter 11 ~ New Years Start Over
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Chapter 11 ~ New Years Start Over
The day after Christmas, Hermione and Draco had enjoyed a nice simple breakfast before Draco left. The days had been great and a better holiday than Hermione had be allowed to have in about 3 years. The necklace around her neck was a constant reminder of this good time in her life and the little flame would help keep her strength up. Draco had been so kind and supportive. Hermione was glad that Blaise had told her that just being friends with him was helping, because she felt she needed to do something in return. No one had ever stood up for her and supported her quite like Draco. Harry had been very close and had certainly tried, but he was often torn between her and Ron and tended to choose Ron.
The New Years party was just a couple days away and Luna appeared to have been invited by Blaise, because she owled Hermione and requested to go shopping for a dress. Hermione was never overly eager to go dress shopping, that had been Ginny’s thing, but she agreed to go with Luna for a dress. They set the date for Dec. 30th and Hermione spend the time in between debating on if she’d made a wise choice. Since Christmas day, Draco had sent her an owl but hadn’t stopped by so Hermione just went about her flat cleaning every inch. Her sleeping had been disrupted multiple times and she missed the comforting thought that someone who cared about her was in the other room. Now she was all alone.
The night before her shopping date with Luna, Hermione took a bath and got herself ready for bed. She lay there in the dark attempting to calm her mind so sleep would come. After what felt like a few minutes, Hermione heard the laugh that made her blood run cold and her body seized as though she had been hit by a paralyzing spell. Her mind raced. If only she could reach her wand then maybe she could do something, but she couldn’t move her hands. Her breathing quickened and the scar on her neck burned white hot. “Ity bitty Granger can’t move can she” said the voice accompanied by more of the sickening laughter, which was now much closer. Hermione willed herself to shift an inch or something. Her life was at stake and she couldn’t do anything, the same way it had been during the war and when she’d lost people. What if she had made different decision…Would more people still be alive? Would her parents still want her?
Suddenly cold air hit her face and her body jerked. Hermione sat up and realized she must have fallen asleep at some point. Her bedroom window had opened slightly letting in a breeze. There was sweat covering her body and silent tears had run down her face. She fumbled to find some source of light to disperse the darkness. Too much darkness had filled her life in recent years and the darkness guaranteed bad memories. Her hand managed to find her wand and it shakily pointed to the nearest lamp, lighting it. The lamp gave off a faint glow with an orange light but on the edge its glow the darkness seemed to be eating all the light away. Hermione felt that soon she would suffocate. Glancing at the clock, she saw that she’d only been asleep for 3 hrs. She slowly made her way to her bathroom, lighting every light along the way. Turning on the cold water, she let the ice cold liquid run over her hands and also wiped a palm across the back of her neck. The water dripping down her back felt refreshing and distracted her from what her mind had just made her endure.
After letting the water cool her down, she knew that getting back to sleep wasn’t an option anymore. This resulted in hours of pacing and, during a few moments, mental breakdowns. She wished that Draco was with her and would give her that special look he seemed to reserve just for her. But in her darkest hour, here she was alone. That thought drove her over the edge and into the corner of her living curled up in a ball. Hermione had fallen into a very light sleep and was easily woken up by the low hoot of an owl as it arrived through her enchanted window. Judging by the December light outside her window, it was around 7am. She tiredly accepted the letter from the owl and saw Harry’s handwriting. A sigh escaped her and she contemplated not opening the folded note at all, but ultimately decided she should see what he had to say.
I’m not sure if it was your doing or not, but Blaise Zabini has sent me an invite to a party on New Years eve.
I don’t think I feel comfortable accepting this invitation. If you are attending, please watch yourself. I think Malfoy will protect you, but I do not trust the Slytherin’s.
Your safety is still of value to me, so I hope that you will be alright.
Her eyes just stared at the paper and Hermione felt confusion. She could tell Harry was still trying, but his distrust of the Slytherin’s had stayed the same. Even after the kind and cooperative nature they had openly shown towards her at Hogwarts and the Gryffindor table, Harry still was on guard. Annoyance stirred within Hermione. She, who had been treated the worst at school by them and at the manor, had been able to accept them and begun trusting their change in behavior. Draco Malfoy was a very different person now and the more he proved that the more Hermione trusted him. Ron was a lost cause, Ginny had abandoned her, and Harry couldn’t get past his feelings towards the “enemy.”
Her thoughts continued to contemplate Harry’s actions versus the actions of Draco and Blaise. She stepped into a hot shower and let the water relax and sooth her tense muscles. An hour passed and by the time Hermione had actually gotten out of the water, her skin had begun to prune up on her. Glancing at the clock, she saw that she still had a couple hours until she had to meet up with Luna at 11:30. Half a bagel was placed in a warmer and then slathered in cream cheese, but it sat on the table in front of Hermione for 10 minutes before she brought herself to take a bite. Her attention was off in a mental safe place as she slowly ran her fingers over the bottle with fire in it around her neck. She wanted someone to be with her and love her for who she was, no matter how broken she was. She wanted a relationship again but felt that she was like a shadow, unseen by most around her.
11:26 showed itself on her clock and as she pulled her hair back with a clip, she was thinking of a shop in Diagon Alley to apparate to. Seconds later she stood in front of a little café she and Luna agreed to meet at. Sure enough, as Hermione checked to see that her beaded bag had everything she needed and money, Luna appeared with a light POP about ten feet away from her.
“Hermione, I’m so glad you got here with no trouble. As I was leaving my flat a swarm of Kiniskey beetles appeared and I had to be careful not to disturb them.”
Luna shuddered. Hermione thought about asking what the hell Luna was talking about, but knew it was better not to ask, for her own sanity.
“I’m glad you managed ok.” Was all Hermione said.
Luna needed no more, she started talking about how happy she had been when an invite to Blaise’s party had arrived. Hermione found herself relieved at not being required to say much for the time being and was content to listen to Luna’s ramblings as they walked towards the part of town that had three great dress shops. According to Luna. They entered and Luna immediately began running her hands through the racks of dresses made from all sorts of materials and fabrics. Her interest, of course, took her to the more unique selections as Hermione went towards the floor-length racks.
Scanning through the assortment presented, Hermione tried on a few gowns but nothing struck her fancy. Luna bought a bright purple knee length dress that had hanging gold tassels all over the skirt. They went into the next shop and the same thing happened. Hermione spent an hour searching and trying dress after dress on, but nothing looked or felt right. Again, Luna found an outrageous dress, this time emerald green with purple, blue, and yellow designs decorating it while Hermione walked out with nothing. Luna chatted animatedly and reassured Hermione that they would find something for her. The third shop ended in the same pattern and Hermione was getting frustrated and thought maybe she just wouldn’t go to the party. She had been so close to a dress, but then the one she had thought would work turned out to be totally wrong for her.
They were both walking out and down the street towards the other side of town where other dress shops were located when Hermione rolled her eyes and happened to look to her right. In the window of a little clothes collections store, was a dress and Hermione couldn’t stop staring. Luna walked right past her and got a few steps away before she noticed she was alone. Not even waiting for Luna to catch up, Hermione pushed open the door and stepped inside. Somewhere far off in the shop Hermione heard a bell chime and then multiple soft footsteps. Out of the door in the back of the shop and female Centaur with long blonde hair came forward. Luna squealed quietly next to Hermione and both of them looked on in awe. No one ever saw Centaur’s outside the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts.
“Welcome to my shop. My blessings on your choices today. What can I help you with?”
After a moment, Hermione found her voice,
“I’m looking for an evening gown and I noticed the one in your window.”
“Oh really? That’s interesting.” The female said with a soothing voice.
Luna spoke up beside Hermione,
“Why is that so interesting?”
“Because the window of my shop is enchanted to show something that interests the person walking past. Rarely do I sell dresses, especially evening gowns. Please, tell me which dress you saw in the window?”
“It was a floor length evening gown that was a deep red and shimmered slightly.”
“Oh, even more interesting. That dress has been here for years, let me fetch it for you.”
Hermione watched the creature before her walk away, but instead of going to the window, the Centaur headed to the left corner of the back wall and opened a door. She disappeared, leaving Hermione to stand by herself in the center of the main aisle. Luna had wandered off to look at who knows what and no one else was in the shop. Minutes went by and Hermione shifted from one foot to the other. Finally, the door the blonde Centaur went through opened again and she came out hold a dusty bag over her arm. She handed it to Hermione and gestured to a dressing room. As Hermione stepped into the small changing room, she felt nervous. She had no idea why and quickly changed into the dress before turning and looking into the mirror.
A gasp escaped her lips. Lunda was suddenly outside the door and begging her to open it. Slowly and with a faint smile, Hermione opened the changing room door. The two pairs of eyes in front of her as she revealed herself opened a little wider.
“Wow Hermione, it’s… it’s perfect.”
“I agree.” Said the blonde.
Hermione looked back at the mirror and let herself smile a little bigger. It was amazing. The deep red fabric looked almost black in certain lighting and shimmered. The bodice was a corset style that reached her true waistline and then the skirt fell silkily from there to the floor. The skirt part seemed to be made almost of liquid and it flowed smoothly and seamlessly. The top part was open and the only straps were three braided strands crossing from the front right corner to the back left shoulder blade, where they joined into one strand. The fit of the gown felt like someone had made it specifically for her and Hermione was speechless.
“Hermione, you’re buying this… if you don’t then I am and I’m stuffing you into it for the party!”
“Yes.” Hermione said as she looked towards the voice.
The Centaur’s head had snapped to stare at her when she heard Luna say her name. Her eyes widened and she raced to a display case. In her hand when she returned was a decorative hair comb piece that was silver and had a ruby set in the middle of the design.
“I want you to have this and the dress. No need for payment, let this be my way of thanking you for everything you did for our world. I’m honored that you came into my shop. May you be blessed by the stars.”
Hermione started to protest, but the blonde just shook her head and swished her tail. The look Hermione was given made her shut her mouth and graciously accept the gift. They left the shop and walked back towards the café to grab a bit before going their separate ways. A quick stop in a shop for both of them to buy shoes and then a coffee for each. Luna did most of the talking again, but neither of them minded the arrangement. Soon it was 6pm and Hermione waved goodbye as she turned on the spot and landed back in her apartment. She went into her room threw her wand and beaded bag on the bed and took out the dress again. Hermione slipped into the gown, tucked her hair piece into her curls and to top it off, she strapped on her low silver heels. For the first time, she felt great… confident even.
It was two hours before the party and Draco was pacing. Blaise had called him to “help” prepare for the party, but what really had happened was that Draco was there to keep his friend company while Astoria did all the work. They had played Wizards Chess and Exploding Snap, but now Blaise was actually needed in the final preparations so Draco was left alone. His thoughts were getting the better of him and he really wished he could officially invite Hermione as his date, but he knew that was crossing a line. He was confident that she would show up tonight, especially since Astoria had said she’d seen Luna and Hermione in and out of some dress stores. Draco wondered what she had bought and what she would be showing up in. Finally, they had 45 minutes until people would start arriving and Astoria went to change and finalize her attire. Blaise and Draco showered and put on their crisp black dress robes.
Soon people started showing up and Astoria was the cheerful host. Mainly the nicer Slytherin’s were attending, a bunch of Ravenclaw’s, and a few Hufflepuff’s. Draco anxiously searched the people for “his” girl even though she wasn’t aware that’s how he felt. After a bit of searching, his eyes were caught by the shining of a very bright gold dress accented with silver and purple. There was Luna in all her magnificent oddity and standing next to her was the girl Draco had been waiting for, Hermione.
Draco’s jaw dropped. There she was standing in a dark red dress that dropped to the floor and looking like a jewel herself. Her curly hair was up loosely and tucked neatly in the middle was a ruby adorned hair ornament. As usual, she wasn’t extravagant or fake, she was wearing just enough makeup to accent her eyes and lips. He was only broken out of his trance by the sound of Blaise’s laughter as he greeted Hermione. He kissed her cheek and pointed up to where Draco stood. He quickly composed himself and made his way down from the top of the stairs he’d been standing at. Hermione saw him and smiled. His heart jumped and he mentally rolled his eyes at himself.
“Draco… You look dashing. Beware of Glimmering Heedsings, they love to hover around people at parties.”
“Uh, I’ll be sure to keep a look out. Thanks Luna.” Draco barely managed to say.
“See you later on” Luna said dreamily and wandered away.
Draco turned to Hermione and let out a laugh.
“She is a peculiar one. You look beautiful by the way, like a jewel.”
“Thank you.” She said blushing.
He had the sudden urge of wanting to kiss her, but stopped himself. He offered his arm and as she took it, he led her into the ballroom. Draco watched her as she looked around. She looked tired but beautiful all the same. Music started and he asked her to dance. Hermione nodded and he began to swing her around the dance floor with the other couples that had formed. After a couple of minutes, she was laughing and Draco felt so right with her in his arms again. He wished she could be his.
After three dances in a row, Draco let her to one of the tables lining the side of the room. Making sure she was set, he left for a moment to grab himself a drink since she had already grabbed one. As he was grabbing a drink, Blaise appeared at his side with one of his cheeky grins.
“Having a good time, are we?” He said still smirking.
“What do you mean? Yes, I’m having a good time.”
“I mean with Hermione. You definitely looked like you were enjoying yourself while dancing with her. You’ve got it bad.”
“Oh shut up Zabini…” Draco said and punched him.
Blaise just shrugged and danced away from Draco grinning. Sipping from his drink, Draco looked back at where Hermione was sitting. Just as his gaze fell on her, a tall dark-haired Ravenclaw approached her, seemingly asking her to dance and she must have accepted because she stood up. She looked surprised and happy that someone had taken notice of her. As they began to swirl around the dance floor, Draco felt like a knife was suddenly struck in the heart with it. The hand holding his drink went stiff and his whole body felt cold. He set down his drink and left to find a quiet room away from everything else. Girls eyed him as he passed, but he wasn’t interested. The only girl he wanted was now dancing with someone else.
He managed to cast a silencing charm on a room as he entered before he slammed the door, punch it and let out a strangled growl. For a moment he felt nothing, but after a minute his hand throbbed and Draco noticed his knuckles were bleeding. He looked around him and saw he was in Blaise’s study. Collapsing into a nice armchair, he let out a breath and tried to calm himself. Hermione didn’t belong to him and didn’t even know how he felt, but it still hurt like hell to see her willingly dance with someone else. Time passed, but it no longer mattered to him. He had no idea what time it was and couldn’t bring himself to go out and face the view of her with another guy. He stared into the empty fireplace, unaware of the door opening and a figure walking towards him,
“Hey, are you up to coming and saying goodbye? Guests are starting to leave.”
The voice was familiar but sounded far away. He tore his gaze from the empty stones and looked at his friend standing before him. Draco could tell that Blaise knew exactly what he was feeling and why he was hiding, he must have seen Hermione with that other guy as well. His arms felt weak, but Draco pushed himself up to standing and nodded to Blaise who lead the way out of the room. Sounds hit him like a wall; people’s voices, laughter, and music filled his ears. He did his best to acknowledge people when they spoke to him and said goodbye when the appropriate time came.
Behind him he heard a soft voice and he willed himself not to whirl around and punch the male he knew was next to her. Instead he put on as pleasant a face as he could muster and turned to look at her.
“Sorry I didn’t get another chance to dance with you, I lost track of time and I couldn’t find you. You alright?” The voice of his angel said to him.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just needed a break for a second. I hope you had a good time.”
“I did! I’ll see you on the train.”
“Sure thing. See you then.”
To his relief, Hermione left with Luna and all the Ravenclaw was able to do was kiss her hand and whisper something to her before she left. Blaise held onto him as he took a step towards the guy and said something about “he’s not worth it.” So Draco just glared after the guy and was determined to find out everything he could about this suiter.
Gazing at her ceiling, Hermione waited for the time when she had to apparate back to the train for the last time. She was thinking about the night before and how much fun she had actually had. Of course a certain blonde had been missing for half the night, but the guy she had met made up for it. Derek Relantey was from Ravenclaw and had been the perfect gentleman last night. They had danced and talked and by the end of the night, Hermione had agreed to go on a date with him. For the first time in months, she had felt noticed. Draco noticed her, but that was different and he was just a friend. She doubted that he could feel anything more about her. Derek had asked about her, and even if he knew about all the things she’d done, he let her explain what she wanted to. She was currently debating with herself about if she should find him on the train and sit with him, or stick with Draco and Blaise since she’d only just met Derek.
Her mind was still deciding when she took hold of her trunk and apparated to Kings Cross Station. As she gazed at her surroundings and all the people on the platform, Hermione made the decision to be safe and sit with her friends. She would be seeing Derek at school enough. Seeing Blaise in the distance standing next to Draco, Hermione raised her hand and waved. Blaise grinned at her and then turned and whispered something to Draco. Draco’s head jerked up and an odd look crossed his face before he gave her a small smile. When she was close enough, she dropped her trunk and stepped in to give him a hug. There was a pause before Draco put his arms around her and then kissed the top of her head. She sighed and felt completely safe.
“Come on lazy,” Blaise said to her, as he poked her arm. “We’re going to miss the train if you don’t grab your large and overly heavy trunk.”
She scowled at Blaise, but stepped out of her hug with Draco. Draco grabbed her trunk for her and the three of them joined Astoria and Luna who were already sitting in a compartment they’d claimed. The ride back to school was a thoroughly enjoyable one, with only one mishap when the boys got over confident with how many exploding snap cards they could handle. When the train slowed, Hermione waited until everyone was already on their way up to the castle before starting her walk back. She wanted a moment to stop and kneel at the memorial stone. To her surprise, Draco had stalled and stayed behind with her and as she began her walk towards the slab he fell into step next to her. Neither of them said anything as they trudged through the snow and as they approached the stone, Hermione noticed that candles with lit around it again.
She knelt down in front and pressed her palm against the slightly warmed stone. So many people should have been around for this Christmas, but they have been taken too early. She missed Remus and Tonks as well as Sirius. Hermione could only imagine the loss that Harry felt, but she had loss of her own. There had been no word from her parents since the day that they had told her to leave and never come back. The day they told her it would have been better if she’d died. A tear slipped out and made an icy path down the side of her face. She closed her eyes and after a moment felt a hand close around hers.
“I’m always here for you… no matter what.”
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