Logic Will Break Your Heart
Summary: When his father died, he left him a simple note, and on it was scrawled five very simple words: Never marry someone you love.
Author's Notes: Title belongs to The Stills. Post-Hogwarts! Wildly eccentric! Totally Unrealistic! Absolutely heinous! Read at your own risk! Also, created especially for the dhrdarkhorse winter challenge over at livejournal, and much love to my beta, Lorett.
- - - - - - - -
Draco Malfoy wasn't a very big fan of love.
And, well, love wasn't a very big fan of Draco Malfoy, either.
Call it the reciprocation of sorts, or the uncanny parallelisms derived from reality's unfathomable sense of humor. But it'd been so for as long as anyone could remember. It traced all the way back to the Malfoy who'd fallen madly in love with a woman (a harlot, really) but had been tricked into marrying her sister instead – Draco chose to call him the "Poor sod who probably sent himself to hell by killing himself and his wife, too." He did end up killing himself, which was the not-so-funny irony of it all. But not his kids. And his kids learned their lesson, just as any brain cell-harboring soul would, and never fell in love. Their main goal was simply this: to procreate. Such a sticky, complex thing as "love" wasn't needed in a simple task of procreating – all you needed was a light switch. You didn't even need to have a good-looking spouse. With the flick of a finger. On. Off. The task was done.
Not to say that the Malfoys put on a blindfold and picked a name out of a hat. One would be silly to disregard the fact that the Malfoys had all the best genes. Vanity and frivolous hairpieces were tiny chromosomes passed on through the blood, and so were chiseled features and flawless porcelain skin and surreally beautiful hair. It was almost obnoxiously ridiculous to see all of these people crowded into a room. They would have been Hitler's portrait of a perfect race, if Hitler had not been forced to lay in his bed that he'd made and was now burning in hell.
Now you may ask, what is all this fascination with the Malfoy line? What poor soul out there would actually be putting enough effort to think of the excruciating natural selection of these frigid people?
Such a question could only be answered with a story.
And thus, it begins:
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Lucius Malfoy, also known as the Rat Bastard of All Rat Bastards, was lying on his deathbed. It wouldn't suffice to retell all of the crises he managed to dodge like the slimy little snake he was; but it is only important for you to know that he was caught. Problem was, he was already dangerously ill with God-knows-what by the time they managed to imprison the bugger. Many people speculated a sexually transmitted disease, while the government refused any real comment, hence further triggering more not-so-outlandish rumors.
They had a doctor check on him, and discovered that he hadn't many days to live, anyway. Why execute him if nature itself was being nice enough to do the job for them? It was a heated debate at first, but the Anti-Capital Death folks eventually won out. So Lucius Malfoy was isolated in a room with many locks and many charms to ensure he stayed there and died. Occasionally some nurses would come in to check if he'd croaked yet, but now those were awfully rare, since he would harass them with quips about their bosom and asses – a side-affect (or not) of the heavy sedatives they put him under so he'd stop screaming.
Funnily enough, people were standing by outside the door, hoping to hear the news that he'd died. But it seemed to take more time than they'd expected for the bastard to choke. Finally, after five minutes, the Medi-Wizard they'd sent in came out with a smile.
"He hasn't got much time," he informed them, looking at his chart. Even though he didn't really need a chart – it wasn't even a chart. It was a picture of a naked lady he liked to nibble on. He just liked to pretend it was a chart. It made him feel more like a doctor and less like a nasty pervert.
"Are you certain this time?" one of the men asked. "Because I've got a dinner date with my wife at seven."
"And we're all betting on when he… well, you know…"
"Yeah, Robert's in the lead."
"I know. Serves him right, his cousin's a poof."
"Well," the Medi-Wizard sighed, taking a glance at the clock above their heads. "Give him three hours. That should do. He's practically delirious already."
So they called in his son, out of the kindness of their hearts. They'd called in his wife too, but she was unreachable due to the party she was having at their house celebrating her husband's impending death. But Draco Malfoy, the miserable heir and poor soul Lucius had bred, came in looking rigid and fierce. It was dead winter now and there was a blizzard outside. The guards couldn't help but stare at him as he walked through the doors, dressed completely in black, his eyes the color of Japanese knives. He reminded them exactly of his old man and secretly began to concoct a new betting pool: how long it would take the young Malfoy to go mad. For it was sometimes awfully easy to tell who was on the brink of their sanity and who was not. Draco Malfoy, just because he was such a complex and frigid character, was always in the grey area. He shifted around a lot.
"Your dad's in there," one of the guards pointed. He was reading an erotic novel he'd found in Lucius' things and drinking tea. "You'd better say your goodbyes."
Draco went inside the room. It was a bland room, though there was flowery wallpaper and a small window (that had bars) and even a picture of Jesus in the corner. There was a pitcher on the small side table with some napkins and a new bedpan. He stood there by the door for a while, looking at his stupid father, who was wrapped up in a fur blanket. He was dying, but he was dying in style.
"Best thing I ever did," he remembered his father telling him, "was kill that damn bear and her children. Now they keep me warm at night."
Yes. His father was a foul human being.
"Never stand by the damn door, son," his father barked at him. His eyes were closed, but Lucius Malfoy always had this keen sense of smell. He could smell snow. He knew his son had come – begrudgingly. "Somebody might open it and break your nose."
Draco neared him, not taking off his coat. The snow was slowly melting on his clothes, and his face felt a little damp. He looked down at his father's face, still morbidly handsome that it was sickening to see, pale but not at all ugly.
"And take down that damn picture of Jesus in the corner, will you?" he ordered. His eyes weren't opening. "I'm Buddhist."
He could tell his dad was dying. It didn't take many brain cells to figure that out. His breathing was a little labored, and he couldn't open his eyes. The flesh around his eye sockets were sunken. His long girly hair was limp. In a split second Draco, who was usually not a very curious boy, wondered how such a frigid man could survive in hell.
The Malfoy line had a certain way of dealing with emotion, and loss. They were almost like machines. They received data and transmitted data, but couldn't necessarily express it like other people. Their facial muscles had been made with dead muscles that only seemed to work in their dark moods, and they chose their words carefully, even in their passionate rage. It was an interesting philosophy these people beheld within themselves – whether it was self-preservation or just an easy survival, it had stuck on. This was not lost on Draco. He knew it very well, and kept it close to the mechanical pumping device he had in his chest, like some did with the naked portrait of their wives.
"You don't even know what Buddhist is," Draco found himself replying to his father's nonsensical rambling.
"Shut up," he said, and it was almost as if his jaw had been wired shut. "I know what I'm talking about, Priscilla."
Lucius Malfoy was indeed, delirious. Priscilla was his mother. He always talked about his mother when he was delirious. Nobody could ever fathom why. It just happened.
Just then, his father reached inside his pocket and took out a crumpled piece of parchment. He held it out to his son, without opening his eyes. "Priscilla, I need you to give this to my son. The really dumb one."
Draco stared at the piece of paper for a second, before carefully taking it out of Lucius' hand. He tried his best to smooth it out to read what was inside – it was an awful mess, full of inkblots and the words had been smeared. But with a sufficient amount of time dedicated to squinting, Draco realized he was passing down the Malfoy rule – scrawled down on this piece of shabby paper. On it was five very simple words: Never marry someone you love.
And when Draco looked up to see his father, he discovered him to be quite dead. So he just shoved the ripped parchment into his coat pocket and exited the room, informing the guards that the dead man was finally dead, and had even stuck around to witness them pop out the champagne. They offered him some, and he filled up his glass. He made sure to drink it all up before he left, sloshing back out into the snow.
Back at the Manor, Narcissa had received the news of Lucius' death and had rejoiced quite heartily. She was dressed up like Marie Antoinette, with a tall hairpiece and a frivolous, expensive gown. The others had gone and dressed up too, because she'd told them it was a costume party. The logic behind it was lost on everyone, but they all went, anyway. Draco arrived just in time to watch her run up the stairs with her lover in tow, her glass in the air and her head tilted back, yelling out words in French that were soon drowned out by the sound of everyone else laughing and talking. Draco made his way up to his room at the other wing of the Manor – the one he made sure wasn't disturbed by the drunken partygoers.
But just as he was heading up the stairs, one Hermione Granger, dressed up as a man for the party, caught sight of him. She began to follow him when suddenly, something fell out of his pocket: a note. She fetched it before anyone else could, staring after him, before reading what was on it.
Needless to say, she was fascinated by it. The five simple words on the note were enough to start a hazardous flame of curiosity and borderline desire to know everything about the Malfoys. For, remembering the drunken Narcissa Malfoy dressed as Marie Antoinette, she couldn't help but marvel at the now defunct "purest" pure-blood bloodline. With the fresh thought pounding inside her head, she sat down on the stairs, taking out a pen, writing down her thoughts. It was then she decided to devote her time to her newly found focus: the Malfoys. She would write a book – an expose of sorts. Something to explain the glacial philosophy of their lives. It made perfect sense.
Over the course of the next few days, Hermione had taken to researching anything she could find about the Malfoy ancestry. It was quite a bloody history, full of beheadings and morbid affairs, which didn't surprise her in the least. She tracked down family friends (sources beside the family itself) and succeeded in milking them for information she needed. Now, she always clarified, this was not in any way to humiliate the Malfoys. Narcissa was a dear friend of hers. It was just a study of society – a very specific kind of society. It was going to help her understand people. And Hermione, even from girlhood, had been inhumanly keen on understanding.
She even visited Narcissa, who only clapped in joy at Hermione's idea. She shoved many volumes of diaries and records onto her lap from the Malfoy library, hugging her tightly, whispering to her that she could come whenever she wanted. She stayed there for three days. All this time, however – which was most intriguing – she did not see Draco Malfoy, not a single glimpse. She took note of this.
'I have noticed the Malfoys are selfishly secretive. They respond most consistently with cold shoulders and prudish glares. What interests me most, however, is the ice chip they have as a son. He seems to be even more dysfunctional than his mother, whose wild side was released when she'd slipped out in the snow one day, hitting her head. She now believes she is Marie Antoinette.'
And so, with Narcissa's permission, she headed towards the West Wing of the Manor – Draco's personal wing. She stepped with utmost care; it was ridiculous really, for she had also taken into account the almost Grecian temper of the Malfoy blood. From experience, she knew how badly Draco's anger could flare – but was willing to risk it anyway. As a young girl who'd been in her own share of scrapes, she was fairly adventurous in her ways of living.
However, looking around, she called out his name. Nobody answered. She called louder. Still nothing. She tepidly reached for the knob in front of her, twisting it silently and slowly. Now, she did not know exactly what room this door would lead to. She was hoping she would find Draco Malfoy's personal library. But she was running on spades, and knew absolutely nothing about the personal wing of the Manor.
She opened the door noiselessly. Her face instantly paled.
"Oh my God!" she found herself screaming, rather shrilly. "Oh my God!"
And then she slammed the door, feeling her heart pounding, her blood rushing to her face. She began to dither about, because she'd just seen Draco Malfoy naked. She started to run down the hallway, because she had nowhere else to run, her face screwed up into something of a monstrosity. It did not mirror what she'd seen. For she had, indeed, seen something quite pleasing to the eyes – if not scarring. She had not aimed to see anything of Draco Malfoy's precious gems in this context, not at all. She felt like a criminal, fleeing down the stairs, with a crimson face. She almost vowed to burn her unfinished book – but then was swept away by the remembrance of how much work she'd already done.
She almost felt like an idiot, really. She'd seen a naked man before. She was not a chaste girl. She knew the male anatomy. So why exactly was it so horrible to catch a peek at another man's pride? It wasn't like her to feel so ashamed for such an innocent encounter.
She stopped dead in her tracks, however, as she saw a scowling Draco Malfoy standing just a few paces in front of her, now fully-clad. How exactly did he get there this fast with the amount of time needed to dress? Hermione couldn't focus on this question.
"What the hell are you doing here, Granger?" he asked her, rather nastily. It was the standard drawl of the Malfoys.
"I'm – nothing," she said, now finding herself tongue-tied. Her mind was almost a heated slush inside her skull. It was disconcerting.
"Did you break in here?" he said accusingly.
"No," she said, calming herself. "Your mother let me in."
He scoffed. "Oh, right. My mother. My mother who thinks she's a deceased French queen."
Hermione cleared her throat. "Well, it'd do you better to sound a bit more respectful."
He glared at her. "She had a party to celebrate my father's death."
"Your father was an asshole," she offered.
"Why are you here?" he demanded.
"I needed to get information," she blurted.
"I'm-I'm writing a book!"
Her confession was met with a dead silence.
"What?" he said enraged.
"A book," she said again, softly this time. "On… you."
"What?" he said again, even though it was quite clear he'd head her.
"I mean, you must feel awfully special," she began to say. "I could have chosen to write a book on anyone, but you were the –"
"I don't want you to write a book on me. Got it, Granger?"
"Well, yes," she said, feebly. "But it's just that I've become so fascinated—"
"My life – or anyone in my family – isn't for show," he threateningly said to her, his voice so low it reminded her of the color, pitch black. "So just get out."
She stared at him. She couldn't quite believe he'd restrict her like this, for some odd reason. Had she forgotten what an uptight ass he was? He was even worse now. Sure, his family wasn't what the Malfoy ancestry would call the ideal, but there was no reason to go and make people like her miserable.
"Well?" he said, his voice rising. "Get out!"
And so she had no choice but to get out.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
'The impertinence of Draco Malfoy is insufferable,' she wrote down in her book the night after. 'What a beast of a man, trapped in his ice castle, his ass sitting on golden bricks… where is his golden egg-laying goose? And how, exactly, does he intend to stop my writing of this book? By force? By public humiliation? By pity? He refuses to ask nicely – I don't see how pity can be brought into play any time soon. He's a prat full of conceit. I won't give in.'
She began a new chapter, superfluously titled: The Analysis of the Impossibility of Civility, in which she thoroughly (and begrudgingly) analyzed the behavior of Draco Malfoy over her years of knowing him. Admittedly, none of them made him out to be a very pleasant man – but who would object beside himself? No one was on his side. Not even the ferrets.
But this fact also got her thinking.
'But what exactly is the joy of hating a man so popularly hated? Could it be so well deserved that one might question just how he could be so universally despised? And what is the origin of such social abuse? Does Draco Malfoy live this life purposely – or does he have no choice?'
Unknowingly, she went on for hours trying to somehow make sense of his life as an unloved hermit. Her mind tried feverishly to try to make the loose ends meet, but she was always met with the conundrum that was Draco himself. What exactly did he hope to achieve in his life full of snake-tongued insults and chilling glowers? Was he simply a miserable loner wanting to be loved – but not knowing how, because of years and years of numb parenting?
On this tangent, she began a new chapter titled: The Analysis of the Possibility of Being Loved and the Ability to Love, from Draco Malfoy's Stance. This, she could already tell, would be a lengthy chapter. For first she started out with the very simple question of: Could a person really be born without love? And if such a horrendous thing were possible, would that person possibly be named Draco Malfoy?
'Logically, a being without love would be Lucifer himself. Pardon my views, but Draco Malfoy is not as horrible and unfeeling as that. He is a Rat Bastard just like his father, perhaps a little softer around the edges. But is he capable of love? What about the idea of falling in love – can Draco push himself out of his frozen winter and find it within himself to actually care for another human soul? In purity?'
A good question in which she further elaborated on for another five pages. As Hermione delved deeper and deeper into the being of Draco Malfoy, purely of the psyche and emotion, she began to fall into something she feared she might not get out of. His complexity puzzled her to a great extent, so great it could not be measured; but she was captivated by the perverseness of his life. His nastiness was now not only repulsive – but symbolic, and figurative. She became wildly interested in the way he worked – she compared him to a machine – and how love could possibly unravel his very being.
It was then she brought up the note she found on the stairs.
'It is a very peculiar thing,' she wrote. 'Five words, written very messily, undoubtedly from his father. It said: Never marry someone you love. If this is not the secret to Draco Malfoy's very soul, it must be something even farther than the imagination.'
His family's dysfunctional traits amused her, and wore a hole in her heart.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the morning, she brewed herself a cup of tea and read over the pages of notes she'd written. They satisfied her somewhat, but she couldn't help but stare out her window, feeling a twang in her chest that told her more could be done. She needed intensive research – research that could only be done through personal encounters. As she sipped her mug she was aware of all the efforts he would snub, but she was determined. And the Good Lord knows a determined girl is never snubbed for long.
She visited Narcissa and requested her son's agenda, which she happily gave her. It was not much, but he liked to read in his personal library and occasionally went out to buy books, or eat out. By himself. This was what struck her the most.
"By himself?" she echoed.
"Yes, by himself," his mother smiled.
"No company? No… lady friends?"
"No, no. He does not engage in frivolous company. He tires of it easily. Even as a child."
'It seems he has a history of being an anti-social,' she hastily wrote in her notepad. 'This is very peculiar… but also very fitting, in retrospect. He must be hiding something. Not very obvious, but very subtle. Every secretive individual has a vulnerability, and the more secretive, the larger the secret.'
Needless to say, she was compelled to find out what it was. Standing there in the impressive luxury, yet at the same time, pityingly meaningless atmosphere of the Manor seemed to fan the flame within her. Was it bordering on an obsession to find out why Malfoys couldn't love? And would she allow it? It was a blurry question. In good reason, she waffled around it.
Outside, the blizzard was harsh. The winter sought revenge on its long delay. Narcissa had shoved onto her plate many pink deserts, all the while playing with her three new dogs, all puppies, all with oddly very French names. She insisted she stay the night because of the terrible conditions outside, and the offer, while nerve-wracking, was too appealing to turn down. She was planning to sneak into the West Wing – hopefully, when Draco Malfoy was not undressing.
It was late in the night when Hermione snuck out of her room, clad in a borrowed nightgown from Narcissa. The hallway was dark, but she had her wand at hand, casting a small Lumos light to help find her way. She finally found a door that she was desperately wishing was the library. She slowly and silently turned it, praying, and let the door go. She stepped inside, surprised to see that the light was already lit – there was a small fire in the hearth. She looked around in awe – she'd found his personal library. The trouble was, however, that she'd also found Draco Malfoy limp in his armchair, asleep.
She'd have backed off if she hadn't spotted the empty bottle of some type of alcoholic beverage next to him. She knew he'd be out for quite some time. So she stepped in, closing the door behind her as softly as she could, tip-toeing. She tucked her wand away, sending a nervous glance at his sleeping figure on the chair, while she silently looked through his books. She was hoping to find some kind of diary, but even as she looked through his desk she could not find any. She felt so very petty, looking through his things like this, but under the circumstances, she could not help it. Biting her lip, she went through his drawers, but as she opened the drawers there was very little of value in her research. She found expensive Eagle-feather quills, the collection of Malfoy seals, and a few letters. She peered over them, glimpsing up at the unconscious Draco on the chair every so often out of cautiousness. They were only business letters concerning the Malfoy will.
She closed the drawer, heading towards the door. She stopped just as she was about to exit; very disappointed at the gross lack of personal footprints he left behind. Perhaps they were in his room. Nevertheless, she stood there awhile, looking at him.
'Asleep, the monster sheds his scales and surprisingly, reveals a very lamb-like peace. This, of course, is with the help of modern advantages of intoxication, but nonetheless, it is some sort of peace. Now that I look upon it, his face is always troubled with solemn matters, communicated by much harsher means. It is nice, if not certainly awkward in every which way, to see such a despondent soul in respite.'
She left him there, closing the door quietly behind her. She headed back to her own room in a somewhat ambiguous train of thought, in which the tracks had split routes. She sat at her desk for quite sometime, thinking over the odd image of Draco Malfoy at rest, then was led back to the almost cruel impersonality of their habitat.
'He is a man of great knowledge, despite his history of close-mindedness and frigid ice box of a being,' she wrote, regarding his books. 'Surprising, yet somehow not, was the way the books were organized – flawlessly. There was not a single cracked spine, or folded page. Instead the smell of crisp leather did abound, not rustic, or old. This does bring one to wonder what this must say about his person. Is the impersonality really so intentional? I have never seen such a neater, insultingly orderly place. He keeps his belongings at a length, insisting on objects with very little private meaning, just like his familiars.'
With this, Hermione raised her quill, sighing, her chin resting down on her palm. She stared out into the fire dancing in her fireplace, her quill still poised to write more, but not precisely knowing how to say it. The question was indeed redundant, and what was painful was its exact redundancy. Its extraordinary and perhaps complicated answer, full of weaves and knots, was going to be a force to reckon with – if she ever did get her answer.
"Draco Malfoy," she found herself saying, to nobody in particular. "Why on earth are you so cold?"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hermione Granger took a few days to think it over. She thought perhaps that this time would help her smooth things out, for it was a horrible mess inside her head. She was beginning to think that figuring out Draco Malfoy was a job she could not handle. But somehow, whilst lying in the bath, she had a small voice in her head telling her that giving in would only make things worse. She was trapped in this pit now – giving up would not rest the excited, rolling voices in her head. Draco Malfoy would still be an insufferable mystery, a loose end. And oh, how she hated loose ends!
So one night, she dined at the restaurant she knew Draco went to on occasion, to eat - always alone. She was certain an intrusion would be most uncivil, but she was hoping they could come to something that seemed to near civil terms. She only wanted to talk. Perhaps observe.
She sat at the bar. It was a top-class place, but it was definitely odd for there were only a few people. She ordered a drink, keeping out a keen eye for Draco Malfoy. If it had not been for her unyielding patience, which was like a beset boulder, she would have left when the clock tolled midnight. But she kept to her place, still looking about the empty room.
At the ungodly hour of one in the morning, she went to the ladies' room to bleed out the martinis she'd downed. She took a glance in the mirror, never really focusing on her now never prim appearance, but on the way the strain showed on her face. It was very subtle, and could only be seen at certain angles, at certain hues of light. Perhaps – and she'd come to this conclusion – this fascination with trying to solve another jumbled human being would help her solve herself.
When she exited the loo, she found herself slowing to a stop, spotting Draco Malfoy at the bar, a few seats over from where she was sitting. She tried her best not to stare, for it was common knowledge (if not only the uncanny ways of the world, on the basis of psychic communication) that staring would flip a switch in a person's cerebral pressure points and direct them which way to look. Alas, he did look, and she clumsily looked away, looking down to the floor as she made her way to her own seat.
The bartender was out, gambling in the back room with the storehouse employees. It was during the Midnight Prowler hours he took his breaks and got his fun – only one man came, and he took hours to drink one drink. Michael, who owned the place, always assumed it was because of his misery – it slowed the motion of the throat when it came to drinking.
"You're stalking me," he noted aloud, taking another sip.
She glanced at him, before fiddling with the olive in her drink. "I disagree."
"I saw you in my library the other night." His voice wasn't accusing, but it wasn't friendly, either. He was looking at her through the mirror in front of them, behind the bottles of vodka. "Find anything to your amusement? I keep my erotic novels underneath the faulty plank."
"I didn't find anything," she confessed boldly, "but more clues to your complicated being."
He smirked at her and drank his drink. "Why are you so eager on invading my privacy, Granger?"
She cleared her throat, trying to seem un-intimidated by his flawless appearance at one in the morning. She could imagine she looked just a bit worse, with her cheeks flushed from her numerous drinks and her nose a bit runny from the cold she was attempting to fight off.
"You're a mystery, Malfoy," she answered. "Everybody wants to solve a mystery."
"Find some other mystery."
"Why? You're right in front of me."
She had introduced a challenge that earned a long stare from the Malfoy heir. She didn't look away, for she'd stored up her nerves right for this very moment, and was relieved when it was clear she'd made it.
"You can't write a book on me. I bet you'll not even be able to figure me out – even if you hadn't any limitations."
"This arrogance of yours is exactly why it seems so appealing. Anyone can be broken down. Look at the Romans."
"You'll go mad before you even publish the thing."
"You won't swear on it," she retorted with quite some snobbery. "Why don't we make a deal, then."
He snorted. "Don't think it prudish of me, but I don't make deals with stalkers."
"Let me spend time with you," she proposed, swallowing down the certain oddity of her asking him this unfamiliar question she'd never, ever dreamed of asking him, "and I'll write my book. If I go mad, just like you say, then you win. But if I don't… I publish, and I understand. I win."
"And what exactly do I win?" he asked her.
She smiled wryly. "My dignity."
He thought about it for a second, then he put down his glass. He looked at her. "Fine. But anything that happens even bordering on the inappropriate, will break the deal."
She smiled proudly. "Deal."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
They made arrangements for her to stay in the Manor. There were limits, of course, to her incessant snooping – for example, she could not enter his personal wing without his permission. And any romantic entanglement would not concern her, though this was something she scoffed at, for any sort of romantic entanglement involving Malfoy would certainly be her business. She was writing a book after all. Any affair, especially one involving love, or lust, would be necessary to record. Those sorts of things said something about a person.
Usually, Malfoy would lock himself in his room, which was certainly to no advantage to her. She usually had to owl him to ask for permission to cross over, which he often ignored. This frustrated her. So she spent the vast remainder of her time holed up in her room, writing about meaningless things prodded on by annoyance. Her book grew in volumes, which she edited nightly, and often added on to.
'His intentions were certainly deceiving – a fault of my naivety and hope. Of course he does not aim to complete his end of the deal. He is a man – worse, he is the type of man captured inside himself that cannot express anything but vile retorts and cold conceit. How, exactly, can this type of man be broken? If he does not let any sort of being near, not even inanimate things, how can one ever pass through the stone blockade he has spent years enforcing? His vulnerabilities are indecipherable. A massive disappointment, but a challenge to further me in my mission.'
Again, the key here was comprehension. However, as she further pondered on this, she caught a glimpse of something outside. She stood, nearing her window, looking down as she caught sight of Draco Malfoy out wandering in the garden – fully covered in snow. Something jumped inside her, perhaps the whim of opportunity, and ran to her closet, putting on whatever she could find.
She did not bring her parchment and quills for she knew it would only slow her down. She took one last quick peek outside to ensure his presence out there, before running out of her room, making her way out to the garden.
Outside, Draco Malfoy turned around, looking up at her window.
When she finally arrived at the gardens, she was huffing and puffing, her cheeks flushed. She headed towards his towering figure, a tall man dressed in black, in shocking contrast to the whiteness around them. She then was at his side, trying to calm her breathing, looking up at him.
"If you only intended on locking me up," she glared at him, panting, "I could have done without this deal."
"It was your proposal," he told her uniformly.
She gawked at him when he began to walk ahead, and she followed after him, pinched by the indifference of his manner.
"I protest!" she yelled.
"Look, Granger," he said, exasperatedly. "You said not to act differently with you around. I only complied with your wishes. That is what I do all day, and I have no visitors."
"I didn't say to completely ignore me," she bit out.
"Well, we're spending time together now, aren't we?"
This cut her tongue.
"And why," he asked her, as they had to duck through several evergreen trees draped with snow, "exactly are you so determined on trying to solve a 'mystery', Granger? Do you think you'll find the missing key to the universe by writing about me?"
"Something like that," she answered, a bit stiffly.
"I think you're an idiot," he told her, not quite so humorously.
"Everyone's entitled to their own opinions," she said gruffly. "Even if they're wrong."
"I see no point in your mission. We despise each other. Obviously, your book will be nothing but a thousand-page record of your judgmental views." He paused. "I can give you a correct guess right now of what you've written down: absolutely nothing even resembling any sort of pleasantries."
"Well," she said proudly, yet at why she was so proud of this seemed to confound her a bit. "You're wrong."
He froze, and turned around, looking shocked and troubled. He was awfully near her face, she realized, and could look directly into his perfectly grey eyes.
'A beautiful creature,' she could hear herself writing. 'A replica of ice in every single way. Even the sharpness of the surface.'
He almost seemed frightened at what she'd said.
"What have you written?" he asked her slightly more on the quiet – so surreal in tone that it fluttered to her ears, like a feather adrift in the wind. She had never seen this side of him before – the quiet (shockingly free of the harsh) sentiment he was presenting. Her chest suddenly felt like a ball of yarn, fumbled and amiss, and in her mind the sound of the wind through the pine needs sang like a shrill teakettle. The facts were in the process of sorting themselves out – of his being, of his reputation, of his remarkably concealed soul. But she was distracted at how his eyes – what they called windows to the soul – were so reflective to herself.
She looked in them, and she saw herself staring back at her. A distorted image, certainly, a bit rounder than she ought to be – but it was there.
'Funny to find meaning in a man so firm in purging everything of meaning around him,' she heard inside her head. 'Frightening, at best. I'm afraid things have gotten a bit harder to verbalize.'
"An analysis of your character," she replied, finally. "Not finished, though. I don't think it'll ever be finished. As a person, you keep growing until you die. Then who knows what happens. But it is what it is – a record."
He thought about this for a second, before his eyes flickered away, and they were back to walking through the mind-numbingly cold snow.
"And what about my mother?"
It then hit her that what had started out as an analysis of the Malfoy line had transformed into a book solely focused on Draco Malfoy. On any other day it would have made sense, since he was the currently living heir. But an idea popped up inside her head that made her feel as if she'd just very harshly smashed her face into the snow.
"I hope you don't think – I mean, I'm not in love with you or anything like that," she found herself blurting, quite loudly and wildly, standing there in the snow, having stopped at her realization.
Draco turned around to face her.
"I mean, the purpose of this book – it's not because I'm… in love with you."
He gave her a vague look.
"Never crossed my mind, Granger."
But that night, those very troubling thoughts had seemed to take root in her relentless brain, which turned hourly with its gears and whirligigs. She was bundled in her warm sheets, staring up at the ceiling. She could hear the sound of the snow softly rapping on the windows. She was exhausted, but somehow could not physically – or even mentally – fall asleep. She'd written a full record of their walk out in the snow, with just a brief summary of their conversation. But she'd also noticed that the farther she went into trying to explain Draco Malfoy, the more passion she seemed to put in.
And was that just the passion for trying to understand? Was it the passion to write? Or was it the blooming passion for something else – for someone else? She'd been here for a little more than two weeks, and in two weeks she'd met with him once. It was set on an unfair scale.
She got up again, turned on her desk lamp, and took her quill out of her inkbottle.
'Harboring any sort of un-mutual feeling towards my subject is heinous! For that is the very fear that holds me captive. I could never like a man so boxed in by his own mind.'
It did little to reassure her, for it was mostly her fierce will and re-sorting of her focus that kept her chained in place. But the suggestion, brought up in her own mind, was enough to keep her up for two days.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Despite her former worries that loomed over her like a storm cloud, she stayed a month. In that month, her time with her subject varied – but definitely increased, which was odd, but welcomed. Often he'd allow her to visit him while he was in the library, and while they talked, she found more and more things about him to pen down. Even the small things, disturbingly, charmed her enough to put down on paper – though she fiercely denied it, simply because she was a woman of that caliber.
Then the night came for Narcissa's extravagant birthday party. Draco had arranged for some doctors to come along to examine her condition – her belief that she was Marie Antoinette – but they all seemed to be so highly amused by her and recommended that he just wait it out like a good sport. So when it came for Narcissa's forty-second birthday, she was still fully convinced that she was the French queen, pre-beheading.
By this time, Hermione had found the quirks blossoming in the Malfoy line very enjoyable. Narcissa often forgot about her son and when she did see him, stared at him for a few good moments before suddenly remembering. She also had many lovers, which Hermione noted didn't bother Draco the least bit – all of whom were younger than her. One night, however, Narcissa had invited her to join them – at which Draco, who had been nearby, laughed so uproariously that she stumbled in shock for a second.
"I've heard threesomes are the thing these days with the youth," Narcissa said, whimsically.
Hermione, red with embarrassment, mannerly declined.
Later on that same day, she'd brought her papers over to his library to edit over while he drank his vodka and read his books. She didn't notice, but his eyes kept wandering over to her as she concentrated, biting her lip in her demanding will, furiously writing on scraps of paper. Once or twice she'd swear under her breath and draw a new parchment – starting over.
She looked up when something was obscuring her light.
It was Draco, holding out a glass full of vodka. He looked calm, and not grim as he sometimes did, or so severe in face.
"Have a drink, Granger. You look like you're going to wear yourself out if you keep at the pace you're at now. Even Sea Biscuit had to rest every now and then."
When she didn't take the vodka and simply stared at him, he put it down by her inkbottle, the ice cubes clinking against the glass.
"Suit yourself," he said, and he went back to his armchair. "When do you think this book of yours is going to be finished?"
She sighed. "I don't know."
"You can't be a permanent resident here, you know."
"I wasn't aiming to be," she retorted, slightly snappish. "I'm just assuming. In logic, a few more months. I just need to fine-tune everything." Then she paused, staring at him, feeling a strange tugging inside of her chest. How peculiar was the look he was giving her now! Or perhaps she was just seeing things. It wasn't hued with the mocking satire he often emblazoned his expressions with when speaking with her. In fact, as she further thought upon it… he looked quite nice when he wasn't trying to be funny.
He sat in thought. "Suppose you never finish your book."
She gave out a loud snort, shaking her head. "That's silly. Of course I'll finish. I'm a logical person. I'll find some way to finish it."
"That's the fault in you, Granger," he told her. "You peruse everything in logic. You believe in logic. Logic is your God. But – and you'll realize this soon enough – logic's only going to break your heart." He sipped his vodka. The ice cubes moved in his glass, sounding like tiny laughter. "And that is the truth."
She stared at him. "That's an interesting theory," she answered, as dryly as she could – which, oddly enough, really had nothing to do with the dryness the interior of her mouth was currently encountering. Her quill twitched in her hand. "Would you say you live your life by theories?"
He didn't answer her question. He just sipped his vodka.
She sighed. "All right, then, Malfoy. How can you say that, being a man of your intense knowledge? Sure, too much of anything can be a bad thing. But isn't it better to have too much of it, than too little?" she asked. Then she shrugged. "However, whatever your perspective is on logic, it shan't deter my own."
It was at that moment his face did something peculiar. Something that caught her off guard but was far too quick for her to correctly soak in and deliberate. But she received the impression that he was pleased she was playing along.
"It is not based on perspective. It's fact. Logic restricts you."
"Logic saves you."
He snorted. "From what?"
Then he turned his head, looking at her. He was giving her the tiniest smile perhaps ever known to mankind. "And why, exactly, would we need to save ourselves?"
Her breath caught in her throat for a reason she wasn't entirely too sure she wanted to uncover. Inside her solid skull she could feel miniscule darts of electricity buzzing from one corner to the other, like a race, chattering incessantly like hyperactive squirrels arguing over acorns, and on her palms her pores began to ooze with sweat. Her lips felt like sandpaper.
"F-f-for lots of reasons!" she found herself blurting out quite impetuously. "People are prone to stupidity, everybody knows that. That's why we have logic – to counter stupidity and possibly very rash actions. Think about it: what would the world be without logic? How would people act on a daily basis? It would all go to the dogs!"
Indeed, she was very passionate about logic – because Draco Malfoy was right. She went around wearing an invisible logic bracelet that only she could see, just so she would know when to stop herself. She believed in it with her whole being – if it were a person, she'd be the president of its fan club. It was a very complicated, outlandish thing to explain to any other living person, but it made sense to her. And, believe it to be true or not, she'd never quite had that opportunity to actually openly discuss it like she was now. Perhaps that was why at this moment her nerves were buzzing and alive, like bees in the spring pollinating from flower to flower, and behind her eyes there were fireworks. She had never felt this way before, and it scared her.
In fact, she'd been so in her passion that she hadn't noticed when she'd stood up and walked right in front of him, enthusiastically yelling more than anybody would ever want to know about the advantages of glorious logic, nor did she notice the strange stars in the formerly known ice-being named Draco Malfoy. They were not very evident stars – not like the North Star – but they were there, two glimmers of something very peculiar but not foreign, for whether the young Malfoy would ever choose to admit it, it had been brewing inside of him this entire time. But the sudden desire of ravishing someone physically is sometimes like the impact of a very blunt hard object to the head – it hits with no warning, no siren call. And yes, the young Malfoy was very attracted to the wildly opinionated woman in front of him, nearly spitting from all her talking, even from the beginning. Of course, in all of his misery this one small fact had been brushed aside, perhaps lain forgotten amongst all of the rubble and ruin of his formerly fabulous life, but now there was a tiny glimmer of hope shining through, catching him right in the heart.
It was a very hard thing to digest – that is, if had learnt to digest it. But the fact was, he did not even know what it was his mind was trying to tell him. All he could feel were the living sparks in his veins, and the tingling he felt on his skin as he watched her lips move and her cheeks flush. He did not care to analyze every single explosion in his gut, for he felt as if he'd abandoned every ounce of logic himself – had jumped a train and waved farewell – and felt a fire underneath his shoes. He subconsciously knew the vodka had some influence on this, but spent more of his currently limited brain space pondering whether she'd hate him for all eternity if he kissed her.
When she'd finally stopped talking, her face was bright and aglow. It was an odd ramification of some exhilarating verbalization, but both parties didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, the slightly intoxicated man in front of her seemed to grab a hold of this moment with both flighty hands and did something very well-established beyond the realms of logic itself: he stood up, grabbed her face, and laid one good one on her lips.
To say that this was the very reckless and rash action Hermione had been talking about would be a gross understatement. In fact, in the entire time she had been rambling on about logic, she had been thinking about the exact same thing. Perhaps not the exact same thing – but about him. He was her subject, and a very cold and impossibly read man. Logic was supposed to save her from the likes of these kinds of problems. But as he kissed her, her Logic bracelet was forgotten. There seemed to be a massive breeze that blew through her brain, silencing and soothing everything, making even her toes seeming to be satisfied bunched up at the tip of her shoes. She'd never tell so out loud, but she'd never been kissed like she had right then.
Once he pulled away, however, and she got the air back in her lungs, and oxygen back into her brain, she was rather frightened to look into his eyes like all the heroines do in the movies after a good snog. So instead she looked down, slowly feeling the panic creep back into her system, and shouting logic start to lash her from behind. She could still taste the vodka on her tongue.
"Could logic save you from that?" he asked her, his voice husky.
She tried to win back her resolve by administering some distance in between them again. "No," she said, forcing some strength into her feeble voice. "But it'll save me from similar future encounters." She went to the desk, packing up her quills and papers, her heart beating so wildly and erratically as if she'd just run a marathon. She could feel the heat flowing throughout her entire body, undoubtedly warmed up from his kiss, and all she could think of was one word: Escape.
…For when logic returns, it comes back full throttle.
He scoffed at her. "Leaving? You're not even done with your book!"
"I don't care," she said. For some strange reason, this was beating her black and blue inside. She cared massively about her book, would even lose her left arm for it, but not her wits or – possibly – her heart.
"Why?" he asked her, and she flinched at the word. A single word, made up with three seemingly random letters of the alphabet – yet why did it attack so meticulously and painfully at somebody's soul?
Life was a very cruel thing.
"Because!" she said. Granted, she knew this was not an answer – but there wasn't any other answer she was willing to give. It was very petulant, and she felt it was rather fitting.
"That's not an answer."
"Well, tough!" she shouted. "Sometimes you won't get answers, all right? Like my book! I don't even expect an answer anymore! Nights ago, I realized, I couldn't figure you out! I don't even know why I stayed as long as I have – because I will never figure you out!"
He was laughing at her. "Is that why you're so angry?"
She swallowed hard. Oh, if he knew that the real answer was even uglier!
She realized that this was not the Draco Malfoy she knew. The one she had been writing the book about – the one that she had spent all these years thinking of him as, perhaps applying an extra gloss every now and then just so she could preserve it and serve vengeance on a cold dish. She had not forgotten the cruel words he'd called her not so long ago, or the childhood bullying, or the fact that his father was a rat bastard she prayed every night would burn fantastically in hell. She had been storing all of that up right for the end, perhaps because in her mind, logic knew no right and no wrong. Just what was justified.
So it was a problem, kissing the very man she set out to ruin. This was not the cold and miserable and rotting piece of flesh she'd envisioned. In the beginning, sure. A tortured soul captured by his father's death and shaded in by his mother's eccentricities. In fact, she was impeccably confused. Who was this that had kissed her? Was it simply the vodka, or was it that secret that he'd held in all this time – the secret to his being? But wasn't this exactly the encounter she'd been waiting for – a chance to prove he was just as stupid and foolish as the rest of them, and therefore, was actually human?
"You know," he said, after their long pause of silence that she'd used to think all of this out – and come up with various sorts of epiphanies that only made her chest much heavier.
"Writing a book about someone doesn't mean you know them."
It turns out; Draco Malfoy had the extraordinary ability of reading people's faces in times of internal turmoil and anguish. Nobody had ever known this, and he had never let anybody know until that very moment.
"Then what does it mean?" she asked, in a feeble voice. She felt defeat inside, a miserable depression, for she had set out to do something she realized she could not accomplish. To figure out a cruel man and expose him to the world as a sort of glorious revenge – and also, in hopes of figuring him out, understanding and finding some way to forgive him in hopes of somehow moving on from a childhood grudge. So it wasn't all ill meant. There was just a hidden agenda she had never chanced enough to utter aloud, not even to herself.
"It just means you want to."
She could not fight his statement – because it was the truth, and every person alive with wits knew for a fact that fighting the truth is useless. She did want to know Draco Malfoy – for the different reasons she'd said before. Because he was a mystery. Because she wanted revenge. Because she wanted to understand, so she could (perhaps) forgive. But there was nothing else – nothing that actually attached her heart to this project, until now. She did not love him, but she could see herself loving him, and that was the most frightening thing she'd ever have the displeasure of discovering.
All of his flaws, and his mother, and the fact that he was so cold… deep down, she'd been charmed by all of it. Completely and utterly charmed – it was almost perverse!
"I'm going to go. I'll say goodbye to Narcissa, then I'll go."
And then she walked out with a heavy heart.
He did not stop her from leaving, for in reality, no man stops a woman from leaving. They feel it is their own prerogative, and in all their righteous snobbery, feel that they will always return to them when the time is right, like a magical boomerang. So Draco Malfoy did not feel as if he lost her that day, only as if she'd gone for a walk, and that she'd be back when she was ready.
When Hermione arrived home she set her thick folder on her desk and lay on her bed for a few hours, thinking very aimless thoughts. A woman is not a woman until the moment she is confused by a man she wants, but wants not to want.
She went about her regular schedule for the next week, drinking tea, catching up with Harry and Ron. Both asked her very prying questions about where she'd been, and she'd told them the truth – well, not all of it. Nevertheless, the good amount she told them, they all agreed on the outlandishness of her thinking and it was settled.
For many nights she wondered whether to pick up where she left off in her book, even with the knowledge that it would get her nowhere. Though she remembered her and Draco's deal in the beginning, she forced herself to disregard it. Him kissing her was the deal-breaker – the deal was off. She was free to do as she wished.
She once had conjured up hopes that perhaps it would get published just because it was witty, and thoughtful, and charming. But it did not matter as much as it did before. Tonight, however, she sat on her bed, staring at the folder for just a second less before it hit fifteen whole minutes, she finally stood and made her way to her desk. She did all of this slowly, as if still in healing, and picked up her quill. She bit her lip, then released, then bit again.
'Upon further analysis, I have come to this conclusion: I am in love with an unprecedented, insufferable man, and his distance is – what I must say – torture. What are the chances of falling in love with the very troubles of a troubled man? Of walking in with a solution in mind – and leaving with a bigger question anchored in my chest? Could my very curiosity be a long-hibernated curse? And could he have foreseen this from the beginning?'
She had no way of knowing that Draco Malfoy had been in love with her from the very start, but had only roughly figured out around the moment they had while walking in the snow, some time ago. They were adults now, and resistance was, indeed, expected, but the ways of Hogwarts and childhood had long unclasped its chains on them. They were free to do as they wished, and free to feel as they felt, and Draco had been waiting for Hermione Granger to figure this out. She was still bound to the idea of old rivalries, and old wounds, and old taboo words, while he had experienced too many rough patches to hold on to them. It was indeed a very strange transformation, for Draco Malfoy to outgrow the darkness, and for Hermione Granger to still be wandering within it, trying to find a way out.
It is an age-old admission – and well-kept secret – that the bars one's past holds on them are almost indestructible prior to realizing that the bars are really not bars at all – but illusions meant to preserve the heart from possible ill handling and heartbreak.
And Hermione Granger, as she was suddenly plunged back into the world that had brought upon her so many dusty memories and old scabs, was intent on fighting back. She wrote furiously with her quill, as if words could yell it all out for her, pushing against the current that had kept her down for so long. A person's past and chains of resentment should not keep them from accepting something possibly painful – but possibly great.
'I have realized that I have been blinded by logic. My analysis of Draco Malfoy is entirely one-sided for I so firmly refused to see him from any other side. I have endured great agonies trying to overcome this simple burden of falling for a man full of tricks and loose ends and everything I have come to hate. He has called me foul words and treated me like dirt and other numerous things I will rightly choose to keep private.
'But I have learned that if forgiveness is possible, then one should take it. Because if people can change from the way they used to be, and refuse to take part in the terrible deeds they used to take pleasure in, then he is nothing less than worthy of deserving it. Because then maybe it is the first bright step of many bright steps. The day the world stops forgiving is the day everyone is forced to forever stay as they are, and nature is destroyed. I, for one, will not succumb to the mediocrity of my burdens, and will decide to forgive, for as long as people will decide to change for the better.'
- - - - - - -
Draco received a copy of the book in the post, via owl. It was an anonymous package, and rather thick, with no return address. But when he opened it he felt the smooth leather cover, no frivolous printed design to undermine the sophistication of the book, and flawless gold print on the front. He smiled when he saw the author, and absentmindedly traced her initials before opening the book.
He read it in one sitting, getting up on various occasions to get a drink, go to the loo, or request some food be brought up. But he was a fast and thoughtful reader, and found himself smiling on one too many blurbs in the text. It had been at least a month since he'd last seen her, and be it quite dimwitted to say, he missed her.
But as he read the last page, he saw a little note scrawled in the corner.
"Meet me at the bar at twelve."
He looked up at the clock, and saw that it was fifteen to twelve. He put the book away and left the manor.
She was there, alone, when he reached her. The bar was empty and the bartender was out gambling in the back. She looked no different – her new realization did not alter the way her freckles were still slightly visible up close, or in the charming curls of her hair, or the way she nervously fumbled with her fingers. But when she saw him, she smiled.
That was a first.
"So you're a big fan of forgiveness now, are you?" he smirked, as he sat down next to her. "How's it looking for Crabbe and Goyle?"
"Now, let's not get too carried away," she said.
He took it upon his self to pour himself a drink. "I must say I'm rather disappointed by the ending of the book. You never did say what my secret was. You lead the reader on to believe I hold some big, mysterious secret – the key to my soul, as you put it – and you don't even bother to put a 'P.S. By the way, his secret was, blah, blah, blah.'"
She was grinning cleverly – and quite charmingly – at this.
"What good is a secret if you go out publishing it for the entire world to read?"
"Glad you finally figured that out, Granger. Putting your brains to good use. Though, I'm only slightly sorry you weren't able to accomplish what you wanted – to figure me out. I felt rather sad for the heroine of your book. It's great about the lesson, or the moral, or all that rubbish. But it's just rubbish."
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, maybe there'll be a sequel."
His brow inched up his forehead. "Really now?"
She laughed. "No." She shook her glass. "You're a very complicated man, Mr. Malfoy. It's utterly exhausting trying to understand why you are the way you are. I figure maybe acceptance is the best I can offer."
"What about psychoanalysis?"
She smiled wryly, pausing for a second.
"Now," she said, setting down her glass, "did you really only come here to discuss my book? Because they have book clubs for that, you should know. I hear Oprah's quite good at it."
"Oprah?" Draco scoffed. "Never heard of her."
And as she laughed, he kissed her, because she had a point, and it'd been a very long walk.
And this time, Hermione Granger's logic said nothing.
Now, my dears, it is common knowledge that Draco Malfoy wasn't a very big fan of love.
And, well, love wasn't a very big fan of Draco Malfoy, either.
Call it the reciprocation of sorts, or the uncanny parallelisms derived from reality's unfathomable sense of humor. But it'd been so for as long as anyone could remember. It traced all the way back to the Malfoy who'd fallen madly in love with a woman (a harlot, really) but had been tricked into marrying her sister instead – Draco chose to call him the "Poor sod who probably sent himself to hell by killing himself and his wife, too." He did end up killing himself, which was the not-so-funny irony of it all. But not his kids. And his kids learned their lesson, just as any brain cell-harboring soul would, and never fell in love.
But, you should know, this story ends very much different from where it began. It started with two acquaintances overtaken by loneliness and desolation from the inescapable pricks of their pasts – which most definitely, as any intellectual would say, had claws. But this is a tale of forgiveness. This is also a tale of logic. But, most importantly, this is a tale of never listening to what your barmy father tells you.
Thus, a few years later, Draco Malfoy finally broke the chain.
And they lived (somewhat) happily ever after.