The Moment I Saw You Cry
Love stinks. Who'd have thought that those two words would end up so true? I'm only twenty-six, I'm a little young to be cynical...well, that's what everyone tells me. He was only one man, just because he broke my heart that doesn't mean there aren't "other fish in the sea." God, I hate clichés. That's what everyone tells me, though.
There are other fish in the sea, yes. Most of them you just want to throw back...but there isn't another fish in any sea like the fish I thought I'd caught. He was beautiful: grey eyes, full lips, white-blond hair, the body of Apollo...and he was also the biggest prat I'd ever met in my life. I still fell for him anyway. Needless to say, falling for one's arch nemesis is a way to end up as a charter member of Broken Hearts Anonymous...and it's a very stupid thing to do. Stupidity was another one of my enemies.
I was one of the smartest witches to ever graduate from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in its history. I made eleven O.W.L.s. (ten O's and an E), passed all of my N.E.W.T.s with O's; and in the mean time, I managed to help my friends in their attempts to save the world from the world's greatest dark wizard, Lord Voldemort.
Slughorn's Christmas party was when it all happened, when everything changed. Harry, Ron, and I had had him tagged as one of Voldemort's Death Eaters since we'd first met him, but then something strange had happened with him. At Slughorn's Christmas party, I saw him up close for the first time in a long while. He looked sick, really sick; his pale skin had become translucent with a greyish tinge to it. He looked like someone who had a lot on his mind.
I saw Harry follow Draco and Snape and followed myself. In the year since I'd become a prefect I'd become quite adept at sneaking about unnoticed; it was the best way to find rule-breakers, after all. I heard snippets of the conversation, the door was too far away and Snape and Draco mostly spoke in undertones. Then the door burst open and Draco headed off and disappeared around down the corner. Snape headed back to the party. I saw Harry doff the Invisibility Cloak and head back to Slughorn's party. I was curious, my interest piqued, so I did the stupid thing and I headed after Draco.
It didn't take me long to find him. He sat on the stairs of one of the towers, his head cradled in his hands, and his shoulders shaking. He was crying. The Untouchable Draco Malfoy was crying. Needless to say, I felt really bad about tailing him. I felt even worse about the indecision that came upon me. Should I comfort him? I know it sounds silly considering the fact that Draco Malfoy had tried his hardest to make my life miserable since we'd first met, but I was one of those people who just couldn't let things lie. I had to do something, even if it backfired horribly. Which it rather did but not in the way you may think.
I sat beside him on the cold, stone step and just let him cry. I'm not certain when he actually noticed I was there. He just suddenly stiffened and sat up, wiping his face on his robes. "Go ahead, Mudblood, go run to Potty and the Weasel and tell them that Draco was crying," he growled, standing up with a swish of his robes. It always impressed me how pure-bloods always seemed to do that with their robes. Like the robes were a part of them, and I suppose they were in a way.
I stood up, dusting off my dress. "I'm not going to tell anyone," I said. "Why would I?" He didn't answer but headed off toward the Slytherin dungeons. And that was where it all started. When the proverbial curtains were drawn and I realised that Draco Malfoy was just a boy. He had feelings, too. Of course, on some level I always knew that but this was the big revelation. Draco was human, and Draco was hurting. And I'm the first to admit that Harry wasn't the only person with a "saving people" complex. I just couldn't leave things be. That would have been the smart thing. But again, I'm not always as smart as I think I am. I made it my mission to save Draco.
It started small. Draco was left at Hogwarts, and I changed my holiday plans at the last minute. I told Ron and Harry that I was going home for the holidays while instead I stayed at Hogwarts. I'm not really sure why I just didn't tell them; maybe it just hadn't occurred to me. I rather liked staying at Hogwarts over the holidays; it was quiet.
Draco didn't seem happy to see me but that wasn't unusual; the two of us lived in perpetual dislike. As the days ebbed on and no tales of Draco Malfoy's cry had surfaced, something changed. He didn't look at me with that constant look of disgust and hatred that he had before. We started talking, Draco and I, started having civil conversations. It only went downhill from there.
I found myself having fun with Draco. Get your minds out of the gutter, people. Our relationship wasn't about sex, far from it; Draco was my intellectual equal (as disgusted as I am to say that), and we discussed everything from Arithmancy, to Ancient Ruins, to History of Magic. You don't know how refreshing it was to find someone that had actually paid attention during Professor Binns's boring and long-winded lectures.
Our conversations started with schoolwork and then just general conversation from the politics to Quidditch and everything in between. We never much talked about ourselves, and we were both perfectly fine with that. There was a borderline that we didn't cross. There was something really wrong with him, but he refused to talk about, and I didn't press. It worked for us.
"You can't be serious!" Draco cried.
"Of course I'm serious!" I proclaimed. "House-elves deserve equal rights! They work hard and are enslaved because of it!"
"Shhh!" Madam Pince ordered.
"They're not enslaved!" Draco stated. "They chose a life of servitude. They're happy with it. They enjoy taking care of wizards; it makes them feel useful!"
"How can anyone be happy enslaved!"
"That's quite enough!" Madam Pince said, rounding on us. "Get out of my library!"
I blushed and pulled at the collar of my t-shirt. "We're sorry," I stated sheepishly.
"We'll be good," Draco added, opening his eyes wide and giving the librarian liquid, puppy-dog eyes. Madam Pince floundered for a moment but shook her head.
I looked at Draco in amazement; I'd never seen Madam Pince ever debate a decision she'd made. "That isn't going to work this time, Mr. Malfoy, I suggest the two of you find another place to chat."
We left the library. "'This time'? You made her fall for that look before?" I asked.
He smirked. "She's only human, can't blame her."
I rolled my eyes. "You're so full of yourself." I looked around the hallway, gnawing my bottom lip. "So I guess I won't be talking to you again for a while."
"I didn't say that," he said. "I have a place we can go." He led me through the halls and toward the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy.
"The Room of Requirement," I stated.
He nodded. "Do you want to choose or should I?"
I cocked my head and looked at the tapestry. "I'll choose." I concentrated on the most comfortable setting I could think of: my paternal grandparents' study. I entered the Room of Requirement and smiled at the new surroundings. The walls were lined with bookcases with old, leather-bound books; a comfortable, squashy dark-red velvet-upholstered, claw-foot settee stood before the massive fireplace, the flames dancing and filling the room with warmth; there was a globe in one of the room's corners; and well-worn Persian rugs were placed here and there over the wooden floor. Draco looked around, impressed. "Comfortable."
It was surprising how fast it happened, one day Draco and I were enemies, the next acquaintances, then friends, and then the logical next step: Draco and I started dating. It all started with a kiss. On New Year's Eve, we were in the Room of Requirement and I was telling him about Muggle traditions. Most notably, the first kiss of the New Year. He smiled faintly as the grandfather clock in our version of the Room of Requirement rang for midnight and then he kissed me. I was shocked at first but I found myself moving into kiss.
A few days later, Ron and Harry returned from their trip to the Burrow and I expected things to return to the way they had been. Draco and I were going to be enemies again and the realisation really hurt. That was when I also realised that my tentative friendship with Draco had become a lot more to me. I'd fallen in love.
Now you see my dilemma? Draco's family hated me -- hated everyone like me. His father was a follower of Voldemort who wanted to kill Harry and probably Ron and me as well. But to my surprise, my relationship with Draco didn't end. It just changed to accompany our individual lives. We were never together in public; we never even talked to each other with civility in public.
But when we were sure no one was watching, we'd touch hands, brush against one another. Nothing that anyone who chanced upon us could consider really romantic, simply incidental. In the Room of Requirement, we were entirely different. We started talking about our lives, our families, ourselves, although we both kept secrets. I just didn't realise how important Draco's secret was. I didn't get much time to reflect on this when we were together because talking often gave way to kisses, caresses, and explorations. Of course, we never got much time in the Room of Requirement, only when our prefect duties allowed us to escape for a few hours. So we made every moment count.
In March, Draco and I lost our virginities to one another. I was surprised to actually find out that his relationship with Pansy had never gone that far or maybe he had lied to me. It didn't really matter because every moment with Draco Malfoy was better than heaven, even when we didn't make love, everything was intimate. I loved to snuggle into his warmth and wished just once that we could truly spend the night together.
But after that, he grew distant. I thought it was the classic "I slept with my boyfriend and now he doesn't love me anymore" syndrome you hear about all the time, but it wasn't that. He wasn't physically distant, but emotionally. I don't really know how to explain it. He held me closer as if he was memorising something. Every day now, I wish I had asked him, wished I would have asked about the two girls who guarded the Room of Requirement when we weren't using it, wished I would have had the guts to just ask "What's wrong" and demand the proper answer. If I had, maybe things would be different. Maybe I would have had my happily ever after. It's nice to think about that. But it's even worse to think of what else could have happened if I had asked the question. It's those "what if's" that always make things worse. What if I had done this? What if I had said that? I'll never know, will I?
Everything came to light in June of 1997. The night before the last night I saw him, our love-making was ardent and frenzied as if this would be our last night together. It was. I remember it as if it only happened a couple hours ago. He held me so tightly against him as if he wanted to melt into me. "Please stay with me tonight?" he whispered, stroking my hair lovingly. "Please." I couldn't say no, so I fell asleep wrapped in his arms, his body moulding mine.
When I woke up on the morning, Draco was completely different. There was a set to him that I knew very well. The Prince of Slytherin was back. The clouds that I had been living in with Draco parted, and I came crashing down to earth in a severely bum-bruising experience. The man I had grown to love was gone, replaced by the rat-faced boy I had abhorred for the six and a half years before. "Get out," he said. "Run away, Hermione. Run and never come back."
"Draco, what's wrong?" I asked.
"I never want to see you again. Ever," he said, his eyes roiling with hatred. "Stay away from me, get away from Hogwarts, or you will die." I stared at him in shock as he left. Of course, I didn't believe him, but he wasn't kidding. If it hadn't been for Felix Felicis, I wouldn't be here today. And many people weren't here today because of that night.
It's strange how you never notice things until something terrible happens. How I never really thought that Draco's secret really mattered, it wasn't even that important. How the man I loved had every intention of killing the Headmaster; he possibly thought of it during our conversations or our love-making. Draco had failed in his endeavour and led Snape to kill Professor Dumbledore instead. So many people had died and I felt like it was entirely my fault. I was the closest person to Draco, I should have known. I should have warned everyone.
Things got even worse for me when I realised that I hadn't had a period in a few months. On July ninth, I found out that I was pregnant. Yes, I carried the child of my childhood enemy, the person who had caused the deaths of several people, and destroyed the safety and sanctity of Hogwarts. How could I possibly tell my friends? My parents?
I was seventeen and I was going to be a mother. Actually, I was almost eighteen, but I had never expected to be pregnant before I was married, pregnant even before I was thirty. And I wasn't just the mother of anyone, but the mother of the child of Draco Malfoy. My baby's grandfather was a Death Eater and my baby's great-aunt had tortured the Longbottoms into insanity. I double-checked the pregnancy test with a spell to make sure. The results were more concise but the same: not only was I pregnant with Draco's baby, but she was a girl, and she would be born in late December, and I had actually gotten pregnant the first time I'd had sex with Draco.
I was ecstatic and depressed at the same time. I loved Draco, I knew that. On some level, I still loved him no matter how horrible things had turned out. Slowly, realisations came to me, Draco hadn't really wanted to unleash unholy hell on Hogwarts but he had had no choice, bits of the conversation that I had overheard between Draco and Snape started to make sense now. Voldemort was holding the lives of Draco's parents over him. He had pretended to be so big and strong but he was really just a scared little boy.
After the spell, I had no choice. I told my parents first, and the look of surprise and shock on their faces almost brought me to tears, but they accepted that they were going to be grandparents a lot earlier than planned. I felt better after telling my parents, even if they kept asking who the father was. I simply told them that they didn't know him. I told Ron and Harry that I was pregnant after Bill and Fleur's wedding.
The next weeks were spent with Ron and Harry trying to get the identity of my baby's father so they could either kill him or have him marry me -- kill him on Ron's part and marriage on Harry's. It was like third year all over again but much, much worse. Ron wouldn't even talk to me except for screaming fits and if he didn't talk to me, he gave me the silent treatment and sent me cold glares.
Ginny wondered why my friendship had changed with Ron and Harry. Then in a moment of spite, Ron told her that I had been "knocked up by some guy." Ginny was furious. She had always had this picture of Ron and I living happily ever after in a beautiful house with a lovely garden, a white picket fence, and (at least) two children that looked just like us. Of course, this house would be right next door to her dream house with Harry and their perfect little family.
It didn't take long for the rest of the Weasley family to find out about my baby. Mrs. Weasley disapproved of my pre-marital relations but offered to help in any way she could. The same went for Mr. Weasley. Bill, Charlie, and Percy didn't really care. The twins initially thought the baby was Ron's and gave him a round of congrats until he told them that he had no idea of my baby's paternity. The twins made it a game, list off all the boys that I'd ever been in contact with (excluding Slytherins, of course): Viktor, Cormac, Seamus, Neville; they even teased me with the possibility that my baby could be from a liaison with a teacher to get a better grade. They made me laugh and feel a lot better with their outlandish guesses.
To my astonishment, Fleur and I actually became friendly during my banishment. The next five months got better. Ron started an interesting relationship with Luna Lovegood and became a much better person for it. Ginny accepted her brother moving on and we became friends again. Harry felt much better as soon as Ron and I became friendly again.
On December 21, 1997, I gave birth in a Muggle hospital to a happy, healthy baby girl whom I named Athena Elise Granger. I completely adored her from the instant the doctor showed her to me after seventeen hours of labour. Her skin was pale as milk, her hair a golden-brown curly mess, her face had sharp angles smoothed by my own genetics playing in, and her eyes -- she had her father's eyes -- a steely grey shade like the clouds during a storm.
I was nearly brought to tears when I stared into the eyes of the only man I'd ever really loved and realised that I had no idea where her father was or if I'd ever see him again. I stroked her silky cheek, her impossibly small fingers tangling around my forefinger. The nurse brought my parents, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Luna, Bill, Fleur, the twins, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to see the baby at this time. Harry stared at my daughter with amazement. "She's beautiful," he murmured.
"She's so tiny..." Mrs. Weasley gushed. "Oh, I still remember the day Ginny was born..."
"Mum!" Ginny interrupted. "What's her name?"
"Athena Elise Granger," I stated. I was still shocked that Draco and I had brought this tiny, perfect being into the world.
"So you're still not gonna tell us?" Ron asked, noting the baby had my last name and not her father's.
"My money's on Neville," Fred quipped.
"It's always the quiet ones," George stated.
"Be serious the both of you," Mr. Weasley reprimanded.
"Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war," Luna spoke up. Everyone stared at her in amazement as she said the first sensical thing that I could ever remember her saying.
My mother sat on the bed beside me, staring at her granddaughter. "She looks just like you did," she said with a smile, toying with of my baby's curls. "It's amazing how such a tiny, helpless, fragile thing can grow up to be so strong." Life was good. For a while.
On New Year's Eve, an owl arrived at Godric's Hollow where Ron, Harry, Ginny, Luna, Neville, and I had been staying (Athena was with my parents, everyone thought it safer for her to be in the Muggle world). The letter had been written by Dumbledore the day he died and was addressed to Harry. It explained that Dumbledore's death had been arranged by him and Snape. Harry was understandably upset by this...especially because the letter had told him that Dumbledore's death had been to save Draco and his parents (which had failed because Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy had been killed in November). The letter also asked Harry to let Draco join us in our mission to destroy Voldemort to help him find a reason for living. Ron, Ginny, and I were vehemently against it (for our different reasons), Neville and Luna were indifferent, but Harry decided that Draco should join us.
I was a nervous wreck, but no one seemed to notice. I told myself that I could do this. I could deal with Draco's reappearance in my life. I actually thought I could. I was wrong. I was so wrong. Draco came back into my life three days after the letter's arrival. He looked horrible. His usually baby-smooth face was covered with a good week's worth of golden stubble, his usually immaculately-manicured nails had been gnawed to the quick, his robes were dirty and tattered, he looked gaunt, his pale hair was wilder than Harry's on a bad day, but his eyes made me feel the worst. The beautiful grey eyes that lightened to a pale grey when he was feeling mischievous, sparked with a sarcastic humour, and darkened to nearly black when we made love; they seemed older, haunted; they were bloodshot and had bruise-like dark circles under his eyes.
The very illogical need to save Draco rose again, this time only strengthened by the maternal instinct I'd started to feel when I was pregnant. "Draco," I said. He didn't even look at me. I didn't feel bad; his eyes hadn't fixed on anything since he'd arrived. I walked over, putting my hand on his cheek. Draco's eyes finally fixed on me. "Have you eaten?"
"Hermione...are you a dream?" he asked; his hand caressing mine and sending an anything-but-unpleasant shiver through my body.
"No. I'm very real," I stated. "Draco, have you eaten?"
He chuckled: a hollow, creepy kind of laugh that made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. "I don't remember."
Ron stared at Draco in shock, Harry stared at him with pity, Neville simply blushed and couldn't look at him, and Luna examined him with the distant curiosity that was her trademark. Ginny had made herself busy in the kitchen, cooking something up for Draco. "Er...let's go to the breakfast room, then," I suggested. Draco didn't speak, but when I tried to free my hand from his grasp, he stiffened and gripped my hand tightly. I winced and manoeuvred so our fingers twined together.
I led Draco into the breakfast room and guided him to a seat. He finally let go of my hand, but always kept so we touched. If I would move where he couldn't feel me, he almost had a panic attack. I was so very lucky. My friends were -- I don't want to say stupid -- but they were rather unobservant. Once Ginny had the food on the table, I had to keep reminding Draco to eat because he'd simply stare off in space if I didn't do so. They simply thought that Draco's sudden need to be near me was due to the calming influence a mother exuded. Thankfully, they never put the pieces together, never realised that Draco had made me a mother.
After breakfast, Draco seemed to be more himself, but he still wasn't the same. He seemed to have aged a decade in the past six months. He hardly spoke and when he did, he gave simple, monosyllabic responses. Eventually, he tired of the constant questioning that Harry gave him and the piteous glances he received from Ginny. "I'm going to go bathe," he said.
"First floor, second door to the left," Harry said. Draco headed up the stairs to the bathroom, and I grabbed some clothes that the twins had left when they had stayed the night a while ago. They were about Draco's size so I took them upstairs. I knocked on the bathroom door.
"Who is it?" Draco asked.
"Hermione," I replied.
"Come in." I went in, closing my eyes so I wouldn't see what I'd already seen several times before. Draco was amused. "It's not like you haven't seen it all before." I wasn't amused, but I opened my eyes. The bathtub, like the prefects' tub at Hogwarts, was the size of a small swimming pool and, for what the sake of what was left of my modesty, the water was covered with thick, pine-scented, green-blue bubbles.
"I, uh, I brought you some clothes," I stammered, depositing the clothes I'd rounded up on the sink.
Draco examined me thoughtfully. "You seem...different..." he said.
I let my eyes meet his. "How do you mean?" I asked, swallowing hard. Did he know? Oh, God, I hoped not. I wasn't ready for this. I wondered if I'd ever be ready for this.
He frowned and examined me. "I'm not sure...there's just something about you..." he started.
"It's just your imagination," I replied.
And so it went for the next six months...every day Draco would get a little bit better, but he wasn't the same. He made an attempt at his former snarkiness, but it just seemed for show. The remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix would come daily and help us with our defensive and offensive spells for hours upon hours. By the end of the day, we'd fall to bed, thoroughly exhausted. We practised and practised daily and, as June began, we knew it would soon be time for the final face-off. Voldemort had been holding off, probably doing the same thing with his Death Eaters that we'd been doing with the Order of the Phoenix.
At the end of June, I did another stupid thing. I'd been awake for almost fifty hours, revolving from pacing to crying to practising my spells when Draco practically forced me to go to bed and recuperate. I was utterly terrified, not for myself, but for my daughter. I hadn't seen her in six months. I hadn't been a part of my only child's life since a week after she'd been born, and I wondered if I'd even survive to see her again. In preparation for the final battle, I'd made several videos for her on different subjects just in case I didn't make it, but it all seemed to be crashing down on me.
Draco took me to his room and made me lie down. "Shhh...Hermione," he whispered. "Everything will be okay." I wanted to believe him, I really did, but I couldn't. He stroked my hair, my face, whispering soothing words, but I was still a wreck. So he did the only thing he could think of: he kissed me. And I kissed him back, desperately. We made love much like the night before Dumbledore had been killed a year beforehand; desperate, needing to lose ourselves in one-another.
I fell asleep in his arms and I awoke still in his arms before dawn had risen. I extricated myself from him, dressed in the clothes I had shed the night before, and exited the room to find myself face-to-face with Luna. "She has his eyes," she stated simply.
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"Athena. She has his eyes," she replied. My eyes widened as I felt the sudden panic rise. "Don't worry; it's not my secret to tell. My father sent me a phone. He really likes Muggle things. I thought you might want to call home and talk to your family. Just in case."
I swallowed. "Just in case," I agreed. She led me into the room that we shared with Ginny and retrieved a cellular phone from the bedside table. "May I?" She nodded and I left the room with the phone and headed into the den. Trembling, I quickly dialled my parents' phone number. I sat on the sofa and waited.
My mother answered, her voice groggy with sleep. "Hello, Mum," I said, proud that I managed to keep the tremble from my voice. "How are you?" We talked for an hour before she put on my dad. Another hour and I asked to speak to Athena. "Hello, sweetheart, I love you very much." I didn't notice Draco standing in the doorway or the look of sadness that flitted across his face.
That was the last day of the rest of my life. It was the day that Voldemort finally came a-calling. The battle was hard and bloody. Several members of the Order of the Phoenix died that day as did Neville to Rodolphus Lestrange after Neville killed Rodolphus's wife and brother. Draco killed Rodolphus in return. Harry and Voldemort faced off, and Harry was the victor. He was almost killed in the process, barely clinging onto life as Voldemort took his last breath.
Draco left without saying goodbye, and I didn't see him again for almost a decade. On September 1, 2005, Professor McGonagall sent out an owl to the surviving members of the Hogwarts Class of 1998 (the Heroes of Hogwarts as many of us were called), to come back to Hogwarts to help teach the newer students of the very real threat of dark wizards for fear that maybe in the past years, they had forgotten the attack on Hogwarts, the murder of Professor Dumbledore, and Harry Potter's final defeat of Voldemort.
Since the year Professor Dumbledore had died, there had been a yearly memorial service to remember the former Headmaster, his cause, and the life he had dedicated to Hogwarts. Many of the teachers had retired after the Final Battle, too thrown by the Death Eater invasion to continue working at the defiled school, and there were many new people who hadn't been at Hogwarts to experience it for themselves. So, Professor McGonagall decided to bring in survivors to teach a new required History class. Harry, Luna, Ron, Ginny, and I decided to help as much as we could. We didn't realise that Draco had also been one of the students assigned to help with the new class until the day we got there. And that's when everything got a bit strange.