Disclaimer: All characters belong to the fabulous J.K. Rowlings, may her computer remain free of power surges. I make no profit from her creations except that of fun and much happy time spent reading.
Feedback: Very much appreciated.
Summary: Laughter and tears and love and anger and everything else you'd
expect in a relationship between two people who are almost, but not quite, completely
She had to end it.
Hermione put her head in her hands.
It had to end.
It was so easy to believe it, she thought, when she was alone. There was silence here, and emptiness, and room to think about unspeakable things like the way he would look if she said goodbye. She thought it would be just a flicker in those pale eyes, no sooner seen then gone and she had to close her own eyes to stop the coming tears.
I have to end it, Hermione said to the empty room. And the words echoed back and she thought that she could hear his voice in the echo. Except that he wouldn't do that, he'd never do that. He wouldn't ask her to stay.
Hermione smiled despite herself. No, he wouldn't ask her to stay. He might chain her to something until she changed her mind, though. Or blackmail her with the fact of them, using You wouldn't want anyone to know about us' as a circular logistical bludgeon to keep her with him. He might even threaten her, she thought, and mean it this time.
God, I hope so, she thought.
Hermione said quietly to herself. Thought I was over that.
It was almost time to meet him. She wondered if she'd be strong enough to tell him right at the beginning, before the long slow ramble out into the fields, before the talking and the laughing and the half-felt glances over at each other and the strong sweet undercurrent of when will he touch me, when will I touch him, when when when that always ended both too soon and not soon enough in a sudden rush of movement and then -
She had to tell him at the beginning, she thought. She had to tell him before he smiled at her, or she wouldn't tell him at all.
But there were so many reasons why it had to end. There were so many reasons why it was simply wrong for her to be – dating? snogging? (loving?) Draco that she could write a book on it. A long book. With footnotes.
Hermione: A History, she thought with a twisted smile. In that case, this would be the final chapter of the book that dealt with her Hogwart years. There was only a year left, after all. And if she told him tonight then she'd hardly notice the year go by; grinding misery can have that effect on a person.
And then she'd be going off to her Brilliant Future (as everyone said), and he'd be going off to join up with the rest of his friends in Terrorizing the Wizarding World and Crushing the Muggle Hordes Beneath His Iron Boot. (also as everyone said, although this time in lower voices)
The two futures didn't intersect, Hermione thought. Couldn't. Like perfectly parallel lines, travelling on side by side forever but never touching each other. Except maybe jumping across the divide once in a while to walk in the moonlight and try to think of unexpected things to tell each other.
She was secretly terrified of Dumbledore. She thought it was something about the beard.
He found Hagrid intimidating. All the Slytherins did, he'd explained. It was something about them wearing green and the green grass and Hagrid's absentmindedness. The sixth and seventh year students always told the first year students horrible stories about all the Slytherins who'd been pounded into the ground like wickets by one stomp of Hagrid's massive feet.
Do you, now that you're in sixth year? She'd asked him then.
Of course. He'd said with that sideways smile that made him look slightly sinister and totally irresistible.
Here and now, Hermione groaned. She definitely had to tell him before he smiled at her. Before he looked at her. Before she saw the light come into his eyes. It was her light, he'd told her once. Borrowed from her just so that he could refrain from actively trying to kill anyone for the little time that they were together.
Stolen from her, Ginny had said when she'd found out. Stupid accident, that. Carelessness when neither of them were careless. Another wrong thing to add to the list. It was getting to be a very long list.
And somehow it wasn't enough that he didn't do anything evil during their nights. (unless she counted the times he'd held her there gasping with one hand holding her wrists firmly above her head and the other doing awful wonderful things to her while she called him every name she could think of and some that she got from very old books about very nasty people until he finally released her hands and her arms went round him and held him tight and she couldn't bear to let go)
This is it, Hermione told herself. He's out there, waiting for you.
She stood up and walked briskly out of the room without looking in the mirror.
Hermione, I want you to come with me. Draco said, and for once there was no humor in his tone.
I can't. Hermione said, hearing her voice shake and hating herself for it. You know that I can't.You can. Draco said and his hand forced her head up until she met his eyes. You want to be with me.I – Hermione started and had to pause for a moment. His eyes were shining, she thought. I want to be with you, she said finally. But not if it hurts other people.Oh, but it's all right if it hurts us? Draco said bitterly. Nice set of priorities you have there.
Hermione glared at him, incredibly angry that he was trying to take the high moral ground. All right then, she said. As long as we're throwing the rest of the world out the window, why don't you come with me. Draco said.
You heard me. Come with me to the Ministry and change sides. At least my side wouldn't expect you to kill people!Oh no, Draco said. Only my father and everyone I've ever known. And just think, if I was a traitor I could have tea parties with Snape. Yes, there's an image to inspire me to betray my cause.How about me? Hermione said, and something twisted in her stomach when she saw the blank look in his eyes. Aren't I some kind of inducement? Don't you want to be with me?
Draco leaned in very close to her, his hand rising to touch her cheek.
I'm going to be with you, Hermione. He said, and he was so close that she could feel his breath on her lips. That's not in question.Except if you go off to one side and I go off to another. Hermione pointed out, trying desperately to ignore the shivery familiar feelings when his hand began to slowly and carefully trace the line of her jaw.
Even then. Draco said and she couldn't see his face, it was in shadow, but there was something in his voice that frightened her.
How's that? Hermione asked, her voice breaking a little when she felt his thumb stroke gently across her lower lip.
We're going to win. Draco said. And when we win, you and I will be together again. I'll see to that. I'll have so much power that no one will say a word against it, not even my father.Assuming that either of us is still alive. Hermione said as pointedly as she could manage while he was kissing her forehead. I don't know about you, Draco Her cheek. But I personally am not planning to stand idly by Her temple. While a war tears- Her neck and that wasn't fair, that really wasn't fair because he knew what that did to her and she was only dimly aware that she'd stopped talking.
Draco said in a slow strange voice. When did you get so pretty?About five seconds after you went blind, apparently. Hermione said, rolling her eyes.
She looked up at him, his silver head shining like the moon against the night sky and thought that he was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen and it was bloody unbelievable that he was there with her, alone with her.
Of course, she added. It's very dark tonight.Seriously, Granger – Seriously, Malfoy, she cut him off, her voice suddenly hard. If you ever say that again, I'm going to stop speaking to you.Now how do you expect me to turn down an offer like that? Draco said and she thought that he was smiling.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. And also stop meeting you.Ah. In that case... Granger, you have a lovely mind.Thank you, Hermione said. And you are a wonderful liar.Thank you." Draco said politely. "I try. Hermione said. Kiss me.
And then she knew he was smiling because she could feel the curve of his lips against her own, firm and soft and lovely and hot which still surprised her because he was ice, ice and silver but whenever he touched her she thought that she was burning, burning to death or something like it.
Draco pulled away and she felt an instant unreasoning panic at the loss of him.
He said in a formal tone and her panic grew because he wasn't supposed to say her name, that was part of the rules they never talked about, and it would have been nice to hear her name in that voice if she hadn't known that it meant that it was over.
She said calmly, schooling her face into a blank mask. Crying wasn't even in it, she thought. Not in front of him.
Am I allowed to compliment your mouth? Draco said. Because I'd like to.
Hermione thought seriously about strangling him.
Submit a request to me in writing. She said instead. I'll consider it. He was about to laugh; she just knew he was.
Draco said again.
Just a little spell, she thought. Something to turn his hair red and gold.
Is there a form? Draco said and now he was laughing, laughing at her she thought and she should be angry except that that he'd said her name again.
Hermione said coldly, and watched the laughter drain away from his face like someone had pulled the plug.
Draco said slowly.
Shut up. Hermione said, and kissed him.
What are you doing here, Granger? Draco asked, stopping in his tracks and glaring at her.
What does it look like? Hermione snapped back. I'm going for a walk.At night. Draco said disbelievingly. Outside of Hogwarts. You're even stupider than I thought. Either that, or totally mad.
Yes, well, Hermione said. I guess we'll be sitting together on the bus to St. Mungo's, then. Because unless you're a horrible, horrible illusion sent by my enemies, you're doing the same thing.
Draco just looked at her.
Hermione wrinkled her nose. Probably not an illusion, she decided. I don't have anyone who hates me that much.Except me. Draco said.
True. But not even you are conceited enough to make an illusion of yourself when you could just go and terrify people in person.Thank you, I think. Draco said dryly.
Hermione smiled. My pleasure.So what are you doing out here? Draco said. Has Potter sent you out on an errand? Has the Boy Who Lived become the Boy Who Sits On His Fat Arse? Hermione said, trying not to smile. And no, I just needed a break. Not everything is about Harry, you twit. She added for good measure, and then blinked.
He was smiling.
My feelings exactly, Draco said, his smile widening. Tell me, what's it like in the Gryffindor common room? Are there actually Harry Potter Lives Here' banners on every wall?
Hermione almost laughed, but caught herself. Then pictured it. And laughed anyway.
she said finally. But there are weekly fan club meetings.
Draco nodded sagely. We have those too, he said. Well, they're not so much fan club meetings as just club meetings. You know, planning ways and means to get Potter alone and hit him with clubs.
That was not funny, Hermione thought. Except that it really, really was.
I didn't know you had a sense of humor, Granger. Draco said bemusedly. He was still smiling, though she didn't think he meant to. She could tell by the way it was just a smile, no nasty spiky bits in it at all.
I could say the same thing about you. Hermione said and realized that she was smiling too. And why are you out here again?Looking for a good club, what else? Draco said.
They both paused and looked around at the moonlit fields. Not a tree in sight.
Of course, Hermione said. It's not as if the school is located right next to a forest or anything.
Draco looked genuinely alarmed. Take a branch from the Forbidden Forest? I want to give Potter a concussion, not turn him into a fruit bat or some such. Honestly, he's supposed to be your friend - I suddenly feel much safer about being your enemy. Hermione said.
In that case, Draco said, raising an eyebrow. Come help me search for a club while you ponder ways to terrify me. The meeting won't be over for hours and I'm not going back there until I'm very sure that Professor Snape has stopped drawing the Master Plan on the wall.
Draco started walking again and, after a moment's pause, Hermione fell into step beside him.
The Master Plan? Hermione said curiously.
Mostly just a lot of stuff about what to do to Gryffindor this week, Draco said in a bored tone. What to take off points for, who to humiliate, what insults to spontaneously come up with.That's impressive. Hermione said. Very organized.If only more than four of us could remember the Master Plan for longer than five minutes. Draco said sadly. You butter-wouldn't-melt-in-your-mouth types would really be in trouble then.
She hadn't known people could be evil and wistful at the same time, Hermione thought with amusement.
There, there. Hermione said and, greatly daring, patted Draco on the shoulder. If it helps, you make us pretty miserable all by yourself.Really? You're not just saying that? Draco said.
Oh, no. Hermione said. If it came down to a choice between you and the bubonic plague, my entire house would line up to be infected. And smile about it, too.That's very flattering, Granger. Disgusting, but flattering.I do my best. She said, holding back her smile. You do realize that if we actually find a club I'm planning to knock you out with it and sprint back to the school.Of course. Draco said. That's my plan as well. Except I may stop to kick you a few times when you're down.Great idea, Hermione said. Good luck with that.You too. Draco said, looking up at the stars.
Out of my way, Mudblood. Draco said, pushing Hermione aside.
Tell me what you think? All comments appreciated, not to say loved with a depth of passion inappropriate to the written word. *g*