Every week without fail since my fourth year here in Hogwarts, I go to her spot in the corner of the library and gives her a piece of my heart. Anonymously, of course. If she finds out that I've been the one giving her presents, she'll probably hex me to death (my face inspires her inner psychopathic tendencies sometimes) and blow those innocent gifts to bits and pieces. After all, Mad-Eye Moody always teaches us to stay vigilant and she takes those words to heart- she really should because she is one of the people the dark side is targeting, not just for her association to the Chosen One but also because she's a real threat to my master. As you might have figured out already, I am of the Dark and she of the Light.
So, imagine my despair when I found out that I was hopelessly in love with her only to be reminded time and again that we could never be. I didn't know how it happened. The realization definitely didn't come to me like a bolt out of the blue. I guess that it's been building up inside of me all those years when I've been keeping a close eye on Potter to get him in trouble. But whenever I spy on them from a distance, it is always her that always draws my attention. Somehow I found her loyalty and bravery oddly inspiring. Whenever she answers questions that nobody can answer, I admire her… albeit grudgingly. When she stood up for everything she believes in without compromising, she makes me envious because I already know in my heart of hearts that, somehow, my parents taught me the wrong principles growing up and I couldn't stand up for myself. Now, I can't even tell her how I feel.
So I do what I do best. Hide the truth from everyone, look at her only at a distance, and use stealth to give her presents that she could never track back to me since I need to at least do something about these feelings I'm having a hard time repressing.
The first gift I've ever given her was a box of expensive chocolates and a stalk of gardenia wrapped in a glass so intricate, it perfectly fits the flower. I enchanted it so it would last forever. So you'd probably be asking why gardenia? Well, it means "secret love" and I wanted her to know that she has a secret admirer. I want her to feel beautiful when she comes in and sees it in her study table at the library right after she finished eating dinner (I kind of stalk her to memorize her schedule, habits and pretty much anything I could glean about her without asking anybody).
I still remember her face when she spotted my presents: her eyes grew wide at the surprise before her, and her smile- that lovely, lovely smile that warmed my heart. She looked around her to seek for the telltale sign that the giver is still there. She found no one. Her glorious smile lingered for the rest of her study period.
I decided right there and then, while watching her in my hiding place, to always give her weekly presents just to see her smile. She doesn't need to know where or whom it came from, she doesn't even have to know the meaning behind those flowers. She just needs to know that someone, somewhere, cherishes her and that someone will watch over her.
I sneak inside the library with a disillusionment charm, a precaution since there are Ravenclaws about. I don't really know what to give her tonight in light of her current project called S.P.E.W. At first I was incredulous about it because nobody thought of something like that before and the name is kind of funny. I am pretty sure that house elves don't want to be freed at all. But the more I think about it, the more I understood. She feels the oppression they feel because of her own situation here in the magical world. She is a muggleborn and pro-pureblood wizards hold her in contempt and thinks of her kind as someone beneath them. I'm guilty of such prejudices due to the erroneous belief that was ingrained to my head since I was born. I don't believe in it anymore since she proved me wrong over and over and I thank her for always opening my eyes. She doesn't know that she constantly shows me different perceptions about the world and its flaws. My flaws. The wrongness my family represents.
I reach her spot in the library and laid down my carefully thought out gifts. I gave her white heather flowers meaning protection or wishes will come true. I want her to know that I support her endeavors in protecting the rights of the downtrodden (even if no one seems to take her seriously, even those prats she call best friends) and that I wish her success. Along with the flowers, I gave her a hefty book about the history of house elves. I quickly went to my hiding place (a small space at the back of the bookcase directly in front of her that has a tiny hole where I can peek at her) to wait for her while I fiddle my new, shiny S.P.E.W. badge I stole from her tin can. Of course, I didn't forget to drop some donation money.
I was glad I thought of purchasing the new edition of 'House Elves and Their Origin for Dummies' because, based on the ecstatic look that brightened her face when she saw it, it was the perfect gift. I'm just worried that she'll stay up all night reading since she's already eyeing it with hunger in her eyes. She looks eager to devour the book. Sure enough, she grabbed it and started reading it feverishly. I groaned. It's gonna be a long night since I forgot to take my wand with me. Why did I pick a lousy hiding place without an alternative escape route? I'm really stupid.
The Yule Ball is coming and I feel glum all day. This weekend, she is going to dance with a bloke that may or may not be her future husband. I, on the other hand, have to go with Pansy. She is annoying as hell but she is one of my closest friends.
I am waiting for her to come in the library after dinner. I didn't go to my usual hiding place today- I'm hiding in plain sight two tables back from hers. I have to come sneak my presents to her a few hours earlier because, recently, there seems to be a lot more students hanging out here during twilight hours. It's a good thing that Hermione's spot is not disturbed because they know how territorial she is when it comes to her study table. Once, someone tried to steal it because of its ideal location for snogging. Big mistake. The terror that came after couldn't be described in words. She was more frightening than Madam Pince in a fit. I almost felt sorry for the girl that had to sport angry boils on her face and fried hair for the rest of the month.
I spied her coming in feeling irritated with all the racket the girls are causing in the library, fawning over Viktor Krum. That's strange. Viktor Krum doesn't have to study in the castle's library. They have their own gigantic carriage that has everything in it. I ignored it and focused on Hermione. I felt her relax when she reached her spot. Then she found her gift wrapped in a velvet box and blushed an adorable crimson. I was so delighted when she opened it and immediately wore the necklace inside it. The necklace is made of platinum fine chain with an exquisite pink topaz shaped like Lychnis viscaria dangling at its center surrounded with tiny diamonds. She touched it with a faint smile gracing her features while sporting a faraway look and I know she's thinking about her admirer. About me. I can't stop myself from grinning like the silly lovesick fool I am.
I chose topaz because it means love and fidelity, and I struggled for weeks trying to shape it into a flower that means "Will you dance with me?" not that I would really ask her out. I just have to be satisfied in giving her cryptic messages while fantasizing about what it would be like to be able to hold her and sweep her off her feet. About the freedom to ask her out on a date or even just obtain her friendship without the fear of repercussions that would definitely follow. A pang of loneliness overcame me. I remind myself that it would, no, it should not happen. Her safety takes precedence over my feelings.
I looked at her again and I notice that she isn't alone anymore. Viktor Krum is by her side, asking to be her date for the Ball! So that's why he's hanging around here! My eyes are seeing red for the first time. I ball my hands into fists to stop them from shaking. I couldn't even consider interrupting, afraid that I might blow my cover. I feel so helpless. I couldn't take it anymore. As silently as possible, I made my way towards the exit.
I heard that the prick Weasel ruined her night at the Yule Ball last week so I will try consoling her today without initiating conversation (cause, duh, that would be detrimental to my health and when we do talk, its only to exchange insults at each other… sad, but that's the only way I could approach her). I considered getting her a snow globe with a freckly gingerbread being chased by birds inside it, cause if I'm Granger, it would definitely cheer me up. Sadly, she isn't anything like me and might smash it to smithereens. Shame, creating it would've been a pleasure.
Anyway, after mulling it over, I decided to give her a bunch of red daisies meaning "beauty unknown to possessor" and a simple silver bracelet that has an inscription that says "je t'adore." (French for 'I adore you'). She should really get over that Weasel. He doesn't appreciate her at all. She should know better than to let him get her down like that. Good thing she still got sensible Potter around. I wish she'd stop crying on his shoulders, though.
I spent the rest of my evening imagining myself to be the one lending my shoulders for her to cry on… and maybe running my hands through her hair. Then I fantasize about beating the crap out of that freckly dunderhead while she watches me in amazement. If only…
Tonight, my world turned a shade darker. HE is here, alive. In the flesh again. My heart is heavy with the knowledge of his return and I grieve for the things that would transpire in its wake. My father, a member of his inner circle was summoned to welcome him and rejoin in his sinister plans of making the world devoid of all that's good. I have to be extra careful of my actions before they see what lies beneath my eyes. Why does it have to happen now? I am already living a life where my choices are narrowed down by my family's prejudiced beliefs and now I can already feel the noose tightening to an unbearable extent.
I need to warn her. I walked up the stairs to the school's Owlery and used a school owl to deliver a single stalk of monkshood meaning "beware, a deadly foe is near". It is a poisonous plant so I shrunk it to make it fit inside a vial and closed it with a stopper. Just in case she hasn't gotten the message, I gave her a rare book I stole from the manor full of useful spells and counter-spells to dark magic. She will need to be brave and act swiftly in getting Potter and herself fortified with knowledge against the evil things that they will surely encounter ahead. They need to strengthen their abilities and knowledge in magical warfare. I hope, no, I believe that she will do what needs to be done.
I know that I should give her something better but it is all I could think about right now. Everyone is still shaken after the tragedy in the Triwizard Tournament. The Dark Lord hasn't done anything to reveal himself to the wizarding world yet but I'm already having nightmares. All I could do is assure myself that she is here, safe and it is all that matters.
Tonight, I gave her a set of eagle quills with an inkpot; a bouquet of Bells of Ireland and Camellia Japonicas enchanted to last for a week like I always do. See, after the flowers wilt, I'll give her a fresh one that would last another week. I want her to keep looking out for more presents.
This day would be tough for us students because of the OWLs we have to take. We would be taking exams daily for two weeks. I know that Hermione nearly went mad with all the revisions she did. Even Potter and Weasley had a hard time putting up with her. Honestly, she should know by now that she'll ace all of these tests because she's brilliant. She's the brightest witch of her age for Merlin's sake! I hope that my little gift would be a comfort her even just a tiny bit today. The flowers meant "good luck" and "unpretending excellence".
These days, she doesn't think my presents strange anymore. I guess that she got used to it somehow. What never changed is her appreciation to them and how she dons a special smile whenever she spots it in her table. Before I exited my hiding place, I heard a faint, "Thank you" to the gladness of my heart.
Wait... does she know I'm here? I went back to peek at the hole and sighed in relief. She has this faraway look and she doesn't seem to be looking at anything in particular, like in my direction. I almost wanted to reveal myself, but sadly, I know better.
I heard that she assembled a group of students and meets them at the Room of Requirement to give them lessons on defense against the dark arts secretly. I have never been so proud of her. I certainly didn't think that she would share her immense knowledge to other people when she could have kept it for herself. That is definitely what I would do in her place, I wouldn't even think about sharing what I learned to others. I don't really understand her selflessness even if she's the one who's more at risk. But clearly, these sessions are important to her so why not up the ante? It's time to introduce them to some ingenious things that I discovered and bought; some of it I invented myself. I hope she appreciates it.
This time, when she went to her usual table in the library, she was shocked to see a huge box of presents waiting for her. I smiled proudly. On top of the box is my usual gift of meaningful flowers, this time a bouquet of garden nasturtium which means "victory in battle", with my sincerity in it. The box contains several magical contraptions that would help them in training more vigorously and several things imbued with magical properties that would repel minor curses and hexes, conceal magical tracks, lend strength to the bearer and more. I'm particularly proud of a necklace that I prepared that made the wearer aware of an oncoming spell and where it would be coming from before its even uttered verbally or mentally. I hope she keeps that one.
She must've been so happy, she started crying. She cried for a long time and I could feel the pressure she put on herself to make sure that she makes a big contribution to end the war favorably. She wrote something on a parchment after she cried. I guess she's already making plans for her next lesson. I shake my head, smiling indulgently all the while. Then she got up, carried the box and the flowers with her carefully, treating it like it's something precious and hurriedly went to the room of requirement, presumably showing it off to her fellow DA members excitedly.
I feel so happy with my accomplishment today. It may be too late for me to break free from the shadow of the Dark but for the first time in my life, I felt hope. Hope that one day the darkness will be pierced by the unrelenting force of the Light and that it would be vanquished for good. I am proud that, somehow, I made a contribution, however small. The world doesn't need to know about it, I don't need to be absolved by the people who despise me for what I am. Just knowing it myself gives me a bit of courage to forgive myself for the path I've taken and for making the best of what limited choices I've been given.
I made sure that the coast is clear before coming out of my hiding place. I padded towards the exit but something catches my eye. The parchment she's scribbled on earlier is still there. She must've left it in her hurry to go. I can't help being curious, so I peeked at it and… it wasn't a lesson plan after all. It was a thank you note from her. Somehow, she wanted to communicate to me and, like the genius she is, she figured she could just leave it on our 'meeting place'. Or at least the 'table go-between'. I beamed.
Granger is distressed these days. It hurts to surmise and then to confirm that the cause of her sadness is the sodding ginger-head Weasel. I see it in her eyes when she looks at him exchanging spit with that Lavender Brown. It hurts so much for me to see her looking at someone like that. Like she adores and loves him. Like she wants to hurl herself at Brown and claw her to pieces from so much jealousy. Like she wants to claim him for herself and never let go. It hurts that she would fall for someone other than… I'm being ridiculous. She doesn't even look at me. She doesn't know that I am the one sending her presents. Nonetheless, my heart is breaking. For the first time in my life, I'm experiencing agony beyond physical pain.
And, yet, I find myself standing beside her study table, laying down my offerings to the one who won't even know me. To the one I can't seem to let go of no matter how tormenting this is for me. Not only is she pining for someone who could actually be with her without harsh consequences, it is very possible that he might feel something for her too, and just as strongly. I wish I haven't seen him look at her just as she was walking away from him, distraught. He looked like he wanted her to feel jealous, maybe in retaliation from his own envy at seeing her and Krum together at the Yule Ball. I want to stop thinking about these things but I can't. It keeps replaying in my mind over and over that I want to bash my head on a wall.
This is the first time that I left my gifts without waiting for her to come and see her reactions. I walked away from the library thinking about the flowers that she may or may not have deciphered yet. She might still be clueless about the flowers and the messages that I want to convey to her. It may just as well be since I've left her a bundle of yellow and purple hyacinth mixed with yellow and red tulpis. It means that I am 'jealous' and 'sorrowful' at the same time because I know that what I have for her would not be reciprocated ('hopeless love') and yet I will love her with an 'undying love'. It is difficult trying to communicate my feelings through the language of flowers but it is worth it. It may be short but to the point. I know that flowers will not be enough to cheer her up so I gave her chocolates because I don't know what else to give a sad person. I head towards the dungeon finally deciding that no matter what happens, I will support her happiness even if it doesn't include me. I will love her always and I will look at her from a distance and that should be enough for me. As long as she's happy and safe, I'm content. With that thought in mind, my heart lifted a bit.
She is looking radiant these days. She finally patched it up with Weaselbee. I don't think he deserves her but he is what she wants and I've come to accept that fact. Nope, not really, but I'll get there... if at all. I don't think that they've progressed to the dating stage yet so I continue giving her my weekly presents.
Tonight, I sneaked something fun and light-hearted and gave her some Patented Daydream Charms, hoping that she'd dream about me, somehow. Heck, I don't care if we are insulting each other on that dream, at least she'll think of me however briefly.
I also gave her an exquisite bottle made of Lucite that I purchased from a muggle store and trapped moonlight inside it. It will glow enough to light her way in the dark within a meter radius. I got that idea from this epic book I saw her reading one time. I purchased the same book out of curiosity and was surprised that the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy was a great read and that it wasn't about how to make rings at all. While I read with rapt attention, there is one thing that caught my eye that strongly resonated within me and felt like doing the same. There is this beautiful Galadriel character in the book, an elf, who gave Frodo, a hobbit, some sort of phial caught with starlight that will 'light his way in dark places when all other lights go out'. I felt that darker things are yet to come in Hermione's path and when it does, I want to give her something that will make her see hope even in the dreariest of circumstances. Ironic, really. Here I am, of the Dark, giving her light. Fate is hilarious like that.
I also gave her sugar quills just because I like seeing her sucking the tip of her quill during class. She has lovely pink lips. Those gifts came with a single stalk of light pink rose that means "joy of life" simply because I like seeing her laugh. Like she is doing right now, clutching the bottle of moonshine I gave her with something akin to euphoria in her eyes.
Another night well spent. I smiled, forgetting all my worries for the moment.
Tonight is the last time I'll ever give her presents. Tonight, after I see her for the last time in my hiding place, my nightmares will come to pass. I have tried my best to delay the inevitable but it came anyway and with it, my last ounce of freedom.
She walks towards her study table and I memorize how she looks today. I try to imprint in my mind the way her wavy locks sway with an almost sensuous manner, her purposeful yet graceful gait, that smile that seems to hold a secret and her happiness at seeing the presents in front of her. Her happiness, however, was short-lived seeing as her presents contain some serious magical objects that would help her in her efforts against the Dark. She picked up a small beaded purse, imbued with an Undetectable Extension Charm so she can carry a great amount of things in it (yes, it was me that gave her the purse), and looked inside. I imagine her looking at various things (gold coins, muggle money, a tent, healing supplies, a muggle thing called flashlights, several useful survival kits) that I have packed inside it to make sure that she'll have everything ready for her in case of an emergency. She exhaled loudly and she closed the purse, amazed. She closed her eyes, sighed and I could see her trying to work it out on her mind, tears threatening to fall down. She composed herself, opened her eyes and picked up the flowers last. She held the bouquet of gladiolous surrounded with palm leaves. She smiles sadly as she mutters the words: "Strength of character, honor, conviction, success, victory". I guess, she knows the language of flowers after all. She picks up another flower beside it (a single stalk encased in a vial since it's poisonous) separate from the rest and her smile turns upside down. "Cyclamen, goodbye…". This time she didn't stop the tears from coming. She cried for a long time like her heart is broken. I don't know if she's crying because of the dark omen she must be feeling or because her secret admirer is saying goodbye. When she pulled herself together, she sat there and she seemed to realize something. I heard her whisper, "It has begun.", before she fled the library in search of Potter.
She doesn't disappoint, as always. She knew I was coming in here to warn her that the war is starting to finally unfold and that she needs to be extra careful. I remained where I am, still thinking about her and how I'm going to fail her in the future.
For a long time, I stood there like a ghost, prolonging the moment of my freedom, but as all good things, it must come to an end. I straightened my robes, pulled out my mask and walked towards the cruel fate that awaited me at the Manor. Tonight, the Master will bind me to him, sealing it with a mark so repulsive, so wretched and yet inexorable. If I am to protect my disgraced family, I will have to take it without flinching and carry out the most abhorrent mission placed upon me- killing the Headmaster.
Screams of pain echoed through the halls and pierced my heart with such force it nearly knocked me breathless. I hastened from my room towards the terrified sound, towards the familiar voice tainted with the horrifying shrieks of despair and agony. I cannot bear to listen to the sound but I am drawn towards her voice. To the voice of my beloved. Hermione.
Another scream. I ran harder. My hands are trembling as I reached the terrace, looking down at the hall where my deranged aunt Bellatrix is torturing her. My eyes fell on her and my spine went cold. There she is, unseeing, retreating deep within herself, trying to keep back what sanity she has left as she felt waves upon waves of unwavering assault to her mind and body, feeling torment of maddening intensity.
I kept myself from weeping openly, my heart torn to shreds at the sight. I cannot hold back the few tears that escaped my eyes. I have to compose myself. I need to focus.
Immensely difficult though it is, I cleared my mind and tried to do something to protect her without raising suspicions. With the fiercest concentration I could muster, I cast a shield inside Hermione's mind to protect her from the mental damages that the Cruciatus Curse could inflict, especially since it was repeatedly used to torture her. I also cast a spell that would divide the pain inflicted towards her so that I could lessen her pain and absorb the rest. When the pain hit me, I tried my damnedest not to scream, biting my lip as the curse struck us both again and again. I whimpered silently, my mind wholly focused on the pain and her screams. I don't know which of the two hurts more. It seemed an eternity had passed before the ordeal finally relented. When I opened my eyes (I didn't realize I closed them till after the pain subsided), I watched them drag her back to her cell to keep her there just so they could bring her out later to torture her again. I can't have that. Not while I'm here. Before she was out of my sight, I gathered the rest of my energy to conjure a single flower in her pocket, a flower named Rue, pouring my regret, sorrow and repentance in it.
I won't let them lay a hand on her again. Even if it means death, I would do everything in my power to protect her and get her out of here. I am done with the Dark. Done with the mask, done with the pretense, done with everything that has Voldemort stamped in it.
"You love her."
My face drained of blood as I was faced by my mother, her hand on my shoulder, eyes sharply scrutinizing mine. I could only nod in response, exhausted, recklessly giving my feelings away. She looked at me with deep sadness, face scrunched in pain, trembling fingers gripping my shoulder harder.
"Then we have no choice", sighed a voice, harshly determined.
I lost all hope. My father stood at my back, having witnessed my confession about a girl beneath our status. The muggle-born, a loyal friend to the Boy-Who-Lived, who is the embodiment of all that we stand against. Suddenly, I am afraid. Not so much for myself as I was for her. But I was spent mentally, physically and emotionally. I don't even have the energy to lift my wand to hex my them all and go rescue the only one I'll truly ever love. I failed her. I can't stop my tears anymore as I slumped down in defeat, anguished at the realization that this might be the end. I didn't even get the chance to do my best against the forces that are choking the life out of me; I didn't even get the chance to avenge her… I was too late.
He raised his hand and I closed my eyes... My father bent down, wiped my bloodied mouth and looked at me with so much concern and for the first time, he looked at me with sorrow … and love. My eyes must be deceiving me. What I heard afterwards was more incredible than his demeanor.
After my mom and dad helped me towards my bedroom and coaxed me to eat something, they talked to me in what could be the most serious conversation we'd ever have. They told me that they were wrong and they were terribly sorry for every single mistake that had led us all into this mess. That they understand if I could not forgive them and that they would still try to earn it however they could for the rest of their lives. I was astonished, to say the least. Then they told me that they realized that the most important thing to them than accumulating power and their pride was me. Me! They agreed to start helping the Order of the Phoenix, discreetly for the time being, after they saw me sharing my pain with Hermione, realizing that I was never truly one of the Dark. There was no doubt in their minds about what they should do next when they saw me, with my mouth wide in a silent scream, my mind in turmoil over the girl being tortured below. They made up their mind to give me a chance at redemption since it was too late for the both of them. I was overwhelmed and we wept, for the first time letting our guard down around each other.
We never wasted time and that very night, my father summoned Dobby, our former house elf, whose magic still has some lingering ties to us even if he was already freed to do as he wished. Dobby came at the force and intensity of the summons, greatly frightened. After a lot of gentle words and assurance that we meant no harm, we told him how he could rescue Harry Potter and the rest of the imprisoned forces of the Light. He was still very distrustful but he did as instructed, happy at the chance to rescue his friends.
Everything went well in the skirmish that followed; I even loosened my grip on my wand, knowing Potter's favorite spell (Expelliarmus, a disarming charm) will be used against us. I'm not about to have them escape without protection since I don't know whether they got their wands back or not. My father pretended to fight back, purposefully missing his target. He was later immobilized when Weasley stupefied him. My mom was hidden somewhere, taking out as much Death Eaters as she could without getting spotted.
At all the chaos that surrounded me, my eyes always found her. She was an amazing fighter. Gracefully, with eyes blazing, she wielded her wand with such power to the dismay of those who crossed her path. It is amazing how she kept herself together, even after being tortured just a few hours before. In fact, it only made her even more formidable, making me admire her anew, despite the situation. At the final point, she and her friends gathered together, side by side, surrounding Dobby, gripping the house elf, the only one who could apparate out of the manor. But before they vanished, Hermione found me and pierced me with such inscrutable gaze, rendering me spellbound for a long second. Around her neck dangled the shrunk phial of moonlight, turned into a pendant, stringed to the necklace I got her for the Yule Ball in what seemed like ages ago.
Then they were gone. Safe, at last… at least for the time being. I went to the very spot where they apparated from, feeling the loss of her presence. When I reached the place, I noticed something on the floor. A flower.
My heart soared and bled at the same time as I gently picked the white Alstroemeria. I felt a strong conviction, a certainty, that she has forgiven me. Somehow, after all she'd been through, she had the strength to forgive me and I've never felt so thankful.
The War is far from over, but this time, I will be standing by the right side. Whatever the cost.