Did you think this story was abandoned?
I know, I am sorry it has taken me this long to update. I will remind you, this story will never be abandoned unless I die o.0 (wow, I went dark.) I have just started with the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition and it is taking up a lot of my time. Therefore, updates will be more infrequent. It's just that this story is my baby, I absolutely adore it and want it to be perfect. So when I found out that the 49.000 words I had written for it were riddled with SPaG I had no motivation to fix them all up. I wanted that fixed before I updated, but then I figured with the way I keep postponing that I would never update. And thus, we arrive at my decision to update!
Somehow, this chapter gives me points in the Diagon Alley II forum! I am now a Mod there, you should check it out!
Plot and Character development
#7 Include a scene that humanizes your antagonist in this chapter
#11 Show your protagonist in a situation they are deeply uncomfortable with in this chapter
I love you all, thanks to my reviewers; AliceEnchanted, sxcond, Lexicon63738, and Guests (one of which had some great ideas, thank you, 'Prank tom riddle', I will include some of that in a later chapter hopefully.)
The last week of classes before everyone else left for the holiday was pretty normal. Besides a few significant looks from Evan any time Lorry came close, nothing really happened.
Seeing that Evan was the only one of her Bodyguards staying the rest of the lads had decided to give him the week off. It made Hermione's job of keeping Lorry away a lot easier. Besides a little interference between classes at times, she didn't have to do a thing!
At last, the day had arrived when everyone departed.
Hermione was standing next to Evan, but she still kept a distance between them — he was just out of arm's reach. They both looked at their friends shuffling around saying their goodbyes and making sure they had everything they needed while they avoided looking at each other.
When Lorry had finished giving Hermione a hug, she immediately sought out Evan who was now discussing something in hushed whispers with the rest of the guys. Hermione almost had to separate Lorry's shoulder from its socket, trying to hold her away from the poor guy.
"Lorry," she warned.
"He's so dreamy."
Hermione sighed "Can't you just leave the poor guy alone?"
"Why would I?"
"Favor to me?" Hermione tried, even though it was most likely for naught.
Lorry pursed her lips but didn't say anything more as she left for the train with Emily. The girls walked hand in hand, whispering and giggling, neither glanced backwards to wave at her. The arm she had raised to wave them off fell limply to the side.
As the others left, Hermione was staring at them, wondering what it felt like to have somebody to go home to, somebody that would welcome them with open arms. Parents that smiled as they saw their kids stepping off onto the platform, Siblings that were jealous and longed to hear all about their adventures at Hogwarts.
She more felt, than saw Evan step up behind her and to the side. She wondered if he was thinking the same thing.
Outside Benjy was saying his last goodbyes to his friends, the sun was shining on him, painting a picture of innocence and bliss. He looked happy like the world was a joyous place to be loved. It made her chest ache for the same level of happiness.
She looked back at Evan when he spoke to her, and she immediately thought about the difference between the two. There he was in the darkness, shadows dancing over his face the same way the light danced over Benjy's outside.
His eyes, though, those sparkling blue eyes, they stood out in all of it. Understanding what she was thinking, his face didn't offer sympathy, but instead it offered solace.
Not understanding what emotion welled up in her chest at the thought of not standing so close to the abyss alone, she looked away and responded, "I'll be in the library." Before she whisked off without looking at either boy, not that Benjy noticed. Evan however, sighed and followed her, thinking it was going to be a long Christmas.
She had been in there for three days straight, and Evan was sick of waiting outside.
"You haven't stepped foot outside in three days." Hermione almost fell off the chair, she was so surprised to hear another voice after being in silence for so long.
"How did you get inside?!"
Evan rolled his eyes and moved to sit in one of the comfy chairs looking out the windows onto the grounds. "Please, it's not exactly difficult. Do Ravenclaws believe they are the only ones smart at this school?"
Hermione put the book away and narrowed her eyes at him. "We don't believe, we know."
"Guess I proved you wrong then."
"Exception that proves the rule."
Evan shrugged and looked out the window to Hermione's ire. How could she so easily get a reaction from everyone but him?
"Why are you here?"
"You need to eat."
"I don't—" she started, but she was interrupted when her stomach grumbled. Evan raised an eyebrow at her.
She scoffed. "Didn't know you cared."
Instead of answering, he continued giving her that look, until she got uncomfortable and looked away.
"Fine." She put the book away and followed Evan down to the kitchens. They walked in silence until they reached the entrance, and Evan tickled the pear in the painting to get into the kitchen. She sat down and started to nibble on some of the food the elves brought her when Evan decided to break the comfortable — on her side at least — silence.
"Don't tell the boys I got in so easily."
"I'd be sent up to get you all the time."
She looked at him over her cup of tea.
"Mutually beneficial," he mentioned in a casual way, and she could see his point. If the boys knew, Evan would be sent up every time they felt like she was avoiding them. The benefit of having a tower away from them would no longer be the case. Even if it was just him that could sneak away to her secluded tower.
"What's the price?"
Evan smiled, happy that she knew better now than to take things from a Slytherin without inspecting what was handed to her.
"You stay out of the tower when I tell you too."
He raised an eyebrow at her.
"Like I am going to subject myself to the whims of a teenage boy." She scoffed.
"What whims do you think I have?" he asked.
"No idea, but I'm sure I don't want to find out."
"Half of the time then."
"Rest of the year."
Her eyes glinted dangerously. "Fine."
"Ah, Miss Riddle, how nice of you to join us."
Hermione looked up from her book and stopped walking. Instead of 5 tables — one for each house and a head table for the teachers — there was all of a sudden only one. She looked to the Headmaster before she glanced at Benjy who was busy with his girlfriend, and then Evan.
He looked extremely uncomfortable in the presence of so many Gryffindors. Five Gryffs had stayed, and four Puffs. From Ravenclaw and Slytherin, only her and Evan remained. Besides them, you had the Headmaster, Professor McGonagall, Groundskeeper Hagrid and the librarian.
What a sad bunch they all made.
Evan looked at the vacant spot beside him, and then back to her, inviting her to sit. Or maybe she should think he was begging her; for she would be his only comrade in all of this.
Opening her mouth to respond to the Headmaster, she looked at him and found a stupid amiable smile. So, she opted for not responding to that. What could one say to a twinkling fool like him?
She realized she couldn't escape Christmas dinner like she had hoped, and closed the book with a thud that spoke of finality. Somehow she managed to get her feet moving again, and moved to the Slytherin boy. She never noticed the relieved look on Evan's face as she took the space next to him.
"Now that we are all accounted for. I have just a few words to say; Twinkle, Snow, Yule, and Mistletoe."
Hermione had lowered her head, uncomfortable with the cozy setting, and peaked at Evan. They shared a look and a laugh at the headmaster's expense, silently of course, as he was close by.
When the food came Evan started passing her food. She tried to pass but he responded by slapping a big piece of rib on her plate and raised an eyebrow at her. She knew he would start arguing with her if she tried to get out of eating it, and everyone else at the table would be on his side — so she took her fork and knife, and cut a tiny piece of the rib and ate it.
The Hufflepuffs all talked immediately, their friendly nature kicking in, and soon the Gryffindors joined in to talk loudly with everyone, and the teachers all seemed to be in high spirits. The only odd ones out where Evan and Hermione. It was the first time either of them had experienced a meal like that, where everyone was laughing and talking — celebrating.
"Miss Riddle, pass the potatoes?" Hermione looked at the puff in surprise, and he just smiled at her. She could have sworn the same boy had scoffed at her a week ago. Looking at Evan was no good, he seemed as confused as her.
Benjy laughed. "This is where you pass the potatoes, Hermione."
Still apprehensive, she took her good time in doing so, and then the headmaster chuckled at her. Both she and Evan looked at the man in surprise and confusion.
"I think you will find there is nothing wrong with the potatoes, Miss Riddle."
"No, I— uh… Of course— I'll-" She finished handing the Puff the potatoes and settled back down What was happening? Why were they all being so nice? They seemed not to want anything to do with her before then, so what had changed now. Was it Christmas?
She remembered every event back at the manor and every stilted conversation she was expected to have. You would have thought there was plenty, but for most of the time, Hermione spent the night in her room, while Noddy brought her food. Sometimes the door had been locked or warded so she couldn't 'interrupt' the guests.
Last Christmas, she had spent the night in her dorm, expecting the same, even though she had been at Hogwarts. She had expected very little conversation, at most a few words about the weather.
But, the only awkward people in this setting were her and Evan, everyone else was at ease.
"So, Evan, kissed any girls under the mistletoe yet?" Benjy asked over the table. When Hermione looked up at Benjy, he threw her a cheeky wink.
"Uh- No." Evan had always been one of few words, and practically none of them were uttered to Benjy. The Gryffindor seemed to hate Evan as well, especially if she were to judge by the way Evan responded to the situation.
"Anyone you want to be kissing?"
"Not even a lovely little Ravenclaw?" Benjy teased. Hermione was still trying to figure out what he was getting at, so she missed the interested gleam in Dumbledore's eyes.
"No." Evan answered in his 'Slytherin tone' as Hermione had dubbed it. That tone that showed no emotion, not even the lack of one.
"What about you, Hermione?"
"I'm not interested in girls." She quipped, and Evan couldn't help but laugh. They shared a look again, how stupid was this situation, really?
Benjy laughed too and kissed the cheek of his girlfriend. "No, I meant any boys?"
"No." She figured Evan's approach was a sound one.
He gave her a lopsided smile and stuffed some food in his mouth before he continued. "Anyone you want to be kissing?"
You, she thought instantly and blushed scarlet.
"There is!" Benjy said triumphantly.
"No," she said meekly, not fooling anybody.
Benjy just winked at her and let it be, something Hermione was quite thankful for. When Evan raised an eyebrow at her, she took her second bite of something, to show him she was completely unable to answer. She could see him hiding a smirk, his eyes glinted, and he went back to his food.
The rest of the meal was very pleasant to Hermione's surprise. She got along with the Puffs and the Gryffs, Evan actually talked a little bit, but mostly with the teachers so it didn't really count. At the end of the meal, Hermione was sad to be leaving.
Benjy had his arm slung around his girlfriend and whispered in her ear. Hermione tried to catch him and see if they could maybe spend some time together, but of course, he had his girl. Flavor of the month was a pretty and tall brunette.
"Merry Christmas." Hermione stood alone in the entrance hall and whispered off after him.
"Merry Christmas." She turned to see Evan behind her, hands in his pockets making a peculiar picture. He seemed to have an internal battle with himself, of what she couldn't tell. Taking one final look up the stairs after Benjy and the laughing Gryffs, she went over to Evan.
She motioned to the great hall. "That was..."
"Strange," Evan answered and smiled at her, a genuine smile that made her relax. She would still tense when around him at times, like the memory of summer hadn't left completely. Then again, she could see Evan tense at times too, because of his history with her.
"Do you…" He breathed out, hands in his pockets, eyes to the floor again.
"What?" She scrunched her brows, he was never nervous around her, not like this at least.
"The Slytherin common room is empty."
He seemed to decide on something and looked up into her eyes — blue and brown in that battle again. "Wanna go check it out?"
She wanted to smile, this was the first time she had ever been invited to something like this. Not out of necessity or because someone was told to do it. Keeping her cool, and biting her lip to stop her smile she responded with a, "Sure."
For once Evan led the way and Hermione walked behind him through the maze of the dungeons.
The common room was not what she expected. Green from the lake, the giant squid swimming by in just that moment. Flickering lights from a fire in the corner, expensive chairs, and sofas spread around the room.
It almost seemed nice.
"What do you think?" Evan asked.
"Not what I expected," she answered while hiding a smile.
He motioned for her to sit on the couch while he stood around nervously. It looked like he didn't know what to do with himself.
Having thought of something to do, Hermione asked, "Do you have 'Tales of Beedle the Bard'?"
"Yeah, but don't tell my dad."
"Why?" Hermione asked confused that a bunch of fairytales could be of harm.
"Fountain of Fair Fortune," he answered.
"I actually like that one," Hermione said.
"Should you be telling me that?"
"Your dad would react worse than mine."
Instead of answering that - the burden of absent fathers hanging in the silence that cut between them - Evan changed the subject again. "I love that on the quest for the fair fortune for love, she finds love was right next to her through the journey."
"I didn't take you for a romantic."
Evan just shrugged in response. "What is your favorite story?"
"The Tale of three brothers."
"Power, Love, and Life," Evan summarized. "Not the story I would have guessed."
"My dad used to read it to me," Hermione mumbled.
The silence stretched between them again.
"Could you get it? I read it every Christmas Eve."
"I thought you would be busy with parties," Evan joked. This time, Hermione didn't care about responding. Instead, she sat down on the couch he had offered before. Evan got the hint and walked off to his dorm to get it.
They sat next to each other, reading the story together while they sat by the flames. Hermione grew tired after a while and Evan offered to read the rest out loud.
In response, Hermione handed him the book, curled up next to him and relaxed while she watched the flames. Evan's voice slowly lulled her to sleep, the last thing she thought was:
One died for power, one died for love, and one greeted death as an old friend.