Disclaimer: HP and characters do not belong to stalker88
Written in Hermione's POV, first person
Despite the struggling fight against Voldemort, life for me has been quite decent. My grades are at the top, my boyfriend is actually thoughtful, and I have two wonderful best friends who are always there for me. In addition to that, I have been made Head Girl by McGonagall upon entering Hogwarts as a seventh year. I am happy… or at least, I feel I should be. There are times when I can't help but feel that something's missing in my life; that there is a sort of gap inside me. It's really hard to explain, as I cannot comprehend it myself. However, I pay hardly any mind to this because I know in my heart that I've got it all. I know that my life is closing in on being perfect and that I have nothing to complain about.
My boyfriend, Ronald Weasley, grew up from being insensitive and childish to a man who is considerate and caring of others (even house elves!). When the war with Voldemort is over, Ron intends to marry me. He didn't exactly tell me this, but I can see it in his eyes whenever we talk about 'us' after the war. Naturally, just like any other couple, we have our ups and downs. We have our moments and we have our altercations, but at the end of the day, I love him more than anything else. Of course, we have our differences. The most distinctive one being that I love books and dread sports whereas he is the complete opposite. We compromise on this. I try not to ramble on about book-facts to him as long as he keeps his Quidditch talks with Harry and Ginny. Simply put, I am satisfied with our relationship and I am happy to be in it.
My two best friends, Harry and Ginny, are always there to listen; whether it is about my problems with Ron or school or just plain frustration about life in general. Since death eaters are growing tremendously with respect to the Order, Harry is especially stressed with saving the wizarding world. Many times a night, we would discuss the whereabouts of the remaining horcruxes and that usually distracts me enough from my own, less important problems. Other than Harry's obsession with trying to kill Voldemort as fast as possible (which I don't blame him for), he is a good friend. I can say the same for Ginny. I can tell she is anxious for him to get rid of the Dark Lord because until that day, the two cannot become an item. And Ginny really wants to be with Harry. Whenever I have something that I need to get off of my chest, I always come to these two (and my boyfriend) for consoling. For more feminine issues though, I always (and only) approach Ginny, my only female friend.
So as you can see, I have the life here. It's as perfect as it can be. And when the Dark Lord falls, when the war ends, when I don't have to worry about dying because I'm muggle-born, life will be perfect.
"I still think that one of the horcruxes is right here, in Hogwarts," Harry said.
"Harry, even if it is, don't you think we would have already destroyed it? It could have been that basilisk from the Chambers of Secret," I replied.
"Hermione, Harry may have a point here though. Coming from this school, he probably wanted to make a horcrux out of something from each of the founders. So, the basilisk can be from Slytherin, but what about Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff?" Ginny added.
"But he hated anyone not of pureblood. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff didn't share the same views as he does. I'm with Hermione, here. There's gotta be more places we haven't thought of yet…" Ron defended.
"Ron, you're only saying that because Hermione's your girlfriend," Ginny shot back, a slight tease in her voice.
Ron smirked. "So what if I am?"
I turned to face Ron. "You seriously didn't, did you? You mean to say you really agree with Harry and Ginny?"
"Of course not. I was just joking. I'm with you, honey."
Harry gave a half-exasperated sigh and ruffled his already messy hair. "Look, we're not getting anywhere with this. Let's just call it a night."
With that, he stood up and stalked back up to the boys' dormitories. Ginny bade us 'goodnight' and followed after him shortly.
"Reckon she went back to the girls' dorms?" Ron asked.
"Why wouldn't she?" I questioned. It took me a little while to register what Ron was implying and when it did, I smacked him on the arm. "Ron, you should believe in Harry. He's determined to keep distance with Ginny so that Vol—"
"Don't say his name!" Ron yelled, cutting me off.
"So that You-Know-Who won't harm her…"
"I know, I know. Just want what's best for Ginny though. I mean—"
"I know, Ron. Let's get some sleep too," I said as I stood up.
He stayed rooted to the couch that he was sitting on. I looked at him, giving him the stare that told him to go. He returned my request with a teasing stare of his own. That slightly childish part of him that he never grew out of remained, and right now those eyes said 'make me'. I rolled my eyes and turned away from him before starting back up to my dorm. I needn't do anything… he'll come to me. I gave a slight yell of surprise when I felt a sudden force pick me up, bridal style.
"Ron, put me down!" I commanded.
"No," he replied defiantly.
I gave a loud huff but said nothing more. He brought me back to my Head Girl room and gently placed me down on my bed. Then, he kissed me as he slowly makes his way on top of me.
I gave a slight chuckle, knowing exactly what he wanted. "No, Ron. Not tonight. I'm really tired, especially after that conversation about horcruxes."
He was mildly disappointed at being rejected. After seeing his expression (which he tried so hard to hide with that smile of his), I gave him a chaste kiss on the lips and apologized. We ended up cuddling throughout the night. His arms draped lazily around my middle as my head rested on his chest. The beating of his heart was a lullaby as my eyes grew heavier before sleep overtook me.
I woke up the next morning before he did, as usual. I slowly disentangled his limbs from mine and slid out of bed, careful not to wake him. Then, I walked over to my wardrobe for my Hogwarts uniform before slipping into the bathroom for my daily morning routine. When I returned, I found that Ron was already up. I walked over to my closet once more and pulled out his robes for him. I'll admit that we practically live together in this room. Half the things in here belong to him.
"I am not looking forward to Dark Arts class…" Ron moaned.
"Didn't he say that he's temporarily being replaced? Last I heard from the Order, Carrow was in it deep with You-Know-You." I said, 'he' emphasized with contempt.
"Yeah, but he's only going to be replaced by another Death Eater. Seriously, with Snape as the Headmaster, this place has been hell… even if your grades are still top notch."
I agreed with him, remembering how the years with Dumbledore as Headmaster were always fun. Dangerous, since Harry was always targeted by Voldemort, but we still had our fun times with school. Ron was right. Since Headmaster Snape, Hogwarts has become an institution for Death Eaters to recruit younger servants, torturing those who did not succumb to their ideals.
We walked down to the commons together, hand-in-hand, to find Ginny and Harry already waiting for us. As they spotted us, their conversation ceased and they stood up, as a sign that they are ready to leave. We left for dining hall and seated ourselves at the usual spot for breakfast. Ron, still his usual hungry self, immediately started for the food.
"New Dark Arts teacher… who do you reckon it'll be?" asked Harry.
"You don't think it could be Malfoy, do you?" Ginny asked.
"Nah… I think Death Eaters need him for more important stuff. Besides, You-Know-Who wouldn't place Malfoy here with Harry…" Ron injected.
"I don't think it matters. They're most likely going to be death eaters anyway. We're not going to like it either way…" I said, biting into a chocolate chip muffin.
Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. Our first class was Potions with Slughorn. I never did like that man very much, but I would rather learn from him than Snape, that's for sure. At least we know that he's not a death eater, which is always a plus. Today's lesson was on memory potions. The concept was general. It was the brewing of the potion that made it worth learning. After Potions, I parted ways with the boys for Ancient Runes class, and I wasn't going to see them in Arithmancy either. I would see Harry in Transfiguration, and be united with Ron again in Dark Arts class.
Harry, Ron, and I sat close to one another in DA class. The atmosphere around the room was dead. Everyone was silent. No one dared to discuss who may be the new professor we have for this period. They probably came up with the same conclusion as I did. It wouldn't matter. Any death eater as a professor would not be pleasant. The door creaked opened and the atmosphere suddenly tensed tenfold. It seemed like everyone was holding onto their breath as their minds craved for mercy. The woman glided into the room with grace, dropped her books onto her desk, and proceeded to pace around the room as everyone watched her every move.
"Bonjour, everyone. My name eez Professor Delacour," she said as her electric blue eyes seem to give life back to the students. "I 'ave been asked by 'eadmaster Snape to temporarily substitute as ze Defense Against ze Dark Arts." She paused for a moment and looked around the room once more before her. "I 'ave been informed zat you 'ave previously been learning about ze Dark Arts, but let me assure you," she continued on, moving to the front and flicked her wand at the front board, "zat zis eez Defense Against ze Dark Arts. Questions?" The board behind her now read, "Defense Against the Dark Arts" and under that, "Professor Delacour".
No one raised their hands, either because they were shocked to find that our professor is not a death eater, or they are gawking at her beauty. As for me, my heart seemed to have stopped at the sight of her. I had a feeling that I couldn't describe, but it was a happy feeling. Relief, perhaps? Possibly, but there was something else. She smiled and continued onto her first lesson with us, actually teaching us the subject that we were supposed to learn. When the bell rang, signaling the end of class, everyone shuffled out of the classroom with a smile plastered to their faces, especially the golden trio.
"Bloody Merlin! Professor Delacour? Tell me I'm not dreaming, mate!" said Ron. I clasped my hands into his. "I mean, she's not a death eater; someone who is actually part of the Order!"
"I know, Ron. I admit I was relieved when I saw that it was her," I responded. "But why did Snape decide to let her teach? It doesn't make sense, you know?"
"Hermione's right, mate. Something's off here about that. You reckon this is the doing of McGonagall? She could have been behind this," said Harry.
"She has hardly any influence with Snape though…" I thought out loud.
"Honey, let's talk about this over dinner. I'm starved."
We walked to the dining hall, as requested by Ron, and found Ginny already seated with some of her friends. We walked down the long table and sat near her. A moment later, Ginny pulled out the chair across from me and sat down to eat with us.
"So you guys have Professor Delacour too, right?" asked Ginny.
"Yeah," I replied. "Someone who isn't going to use the Cruciatus Curse on the students as an experiment, surprisingly."
"Yeah, but like you pointed out before. Why would Snape ask Fleur, of all people, to substitute Defense Against the Dark Arts?" Harry asked.
For the rest of dinner, that was our topic of discussion. We parted our ways after dinner. Harry, Ron, and Ginny had Quidditch practice, so I left for the library. I settled down in the far, hidden corner at the back of the library. I like the solitude. I have always liked the solitude that the library gave. I pulled out some parchment, ink, and a quill to begin doing my Arithmancy homework. And as I worked, my mind began to wander… that in this very spot three years ago…
"Salut. Je m'appelle Fleur Delacour. Et toi?"
I looked up at the voice that spoke to me. Evidently, it was someone from Beauxbatons because I can recognize the French language. I tried to remember all the French that I could so that I will be able to communicate with my guest.
"Je m'appelle Hermione Granger. Je suis désolée, mais je ne parle pas français bien."
" Je pense que vous parlez français bien."
"Merci. Y a il quelque chose que je peux vous aider avec ?"
" Eef eet helps, I can speak English."
"I'm sorry if I mispronounced the words. I never learned French properly. Only from reading. Do you need help with something?"
"Ah, I can not find le livre on Antidotes."
I smiled at her effort. True, she might know more English than I do French, but it seems that Ms. Delacour still has quite some English that she needs to learn. Anyway, I dug my Potions book from my backpack and turned to a chapter about antidotes before sliding it over to face her.
"This is my Potions textbook. It has a chapter on antidotes if you want to borrow it for a little while."
"Merci beaucoup, mademoiselle. Eez someone sitting 'ere?"
"No," I replied and motion for her to sit.
She complied and began to slowly flip the pages of my book. I returned my gaze down at my own homework before realizing that I was about to start on Potions because I just completed Charms. Seeing how Ms. Delacour currently has my book, I couldn't start it yet. My eyes flickered over her briefly and I couldn't help but take notice of how beautiful she looks. Her straight blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail, but a few strands escaped to fall lightly down the left side of her face. Electric blue eyes concentrated on the words that are engulfing her mind. Lips moving slightly as she reads to herself. When I caught myself staring, I immediately averted my gaze back to the already completed Charms homework.
"Mademoiselle Granger," she called. I semi-reluctantly allowed my eyes to look at the woman in front of me. "Zank you for ze livre, mais eet eez too 'ard to comprehend. My English eez not well enough yet."
She handed the book back to me. Then, I flipped through it to find the page that I needed in order to complete Snape's homework. All the while, as I was doing my homework, I felt like something was staring at me. Finally, no longer able to shrug off the discomfort, I looked up to find the blonde woman before me watching my every move.
She visibly jerked back to reality, "Ah, I am sorry. I seem to 'ave lost my thought…"
She may have meant "been deep in thought" or something like that, but I made no mention to correct her. I understand what she meant so there is no need to possibly embarrass her. After all, English is not her native language and she is trying, I will cut her some slack.
"Eet eez getting late. I must return to ze ozzers. Bon soir Mademoiselle Granger," she finished.
"Bon soir," I returned with a smile.
She stood up from her chair and left the library. I watched her retreating back and wondered if she will remember me tomorrow.
"Zis brings back old memories, non?"
My mind returned to reality as I watched Fleur sit across from me, just like three years ago. "Yeah… it does." After a moment with neither one of us speaking, I broke the silence. "What are you doing here?"
"Why did Snape want you to be our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?"
"Ze professors zat are not death eaters asked me. Snape merely consented."
"But why would he?"
"Why wouldn't 'e? 'E 'ad no choice. All ze ozzer professors pressured 'im to let me teach 'ere."
"But why did you… why did you take the job?" I asked, voice lowering to a near-whisper.
"For ze sake of ze students… I 'eard 'ow Carrow teaches. I do not like it."
"Oh… I see…" I replied, and it bothered me that I might have detected disappointment in my voice. Might have… but that was still an ominous sign.
" 'Ow 'ave you been?" she asked.
"Fine. I've been fine. You? How are you and Bill doing?"
"I am fine. Bill and I 'ave split. 'Is werewolf tendencies 'ave been bad and 'e didn't want to 'arm me, 'e says, so 'e left me. And you? Seeing someone?"
I smiled, even if it was slightly forced. "Ron, Bill's youngest brother. I am very happy with him. He is a very sweet and caring guy."
She smiled back at me, "That eez good. And I see you are doing well in sc'ool, despite ze death eater 'eadmaster you 'ave."
"Yeah. Academic achievement still matters to me a lot," I said. Then, I glanced out at the window and realized how late it was getting. "It's getting late. I need to get going before Ron worries about me too much. G'night Fleur."
I gathered my belongings and stood up to leave. I was about to pass her when her voice filled the air for a brief second, stopping me successfully.
"Bon soir… Mademoiselle Granger," she said, her voice slightly above a whisper.
Eet eez getting late. I must return to ze ozzers. Bon soir Mademoiselle Granger. Her voice continued to resonate through me. Bon soir Mademoiselle Granger… I don't know how long I just stood there, but my mind returned when someone dropped a book from nearby. "Bon soir," I whispered before rushing out of the library.
I returned to the common room to find my two best friends and my boyfriend sitting on the couches near the fire. When Ron saw me, he stood and semi-rushed over to me, placing his hands on my sides before giving me a quick peck on the lips.
"Where have you been?" he asked as he removed his left hand and curved his right arm around my middle. We started towards Harry and Ginny when his position was changed.
"Library. I was caught up with Arithmancy's homework that I lost track of time," I replied. When I reached my friends, I greeted them. We talked about various subject, some which I have no interest in, such as Quidditch teams and the ranting of homework that needs to be done. I sat and listened in on the conversation though, and contributed whenever I had an appropriate comment. I think about the only part of the conversation that I really cared about was when the three athletes stumbled upon how Fleur Delacour became our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. It appears the professors conspired to bring Fleur to Hogwarts and forced the Headmaster to accept her as a teacher under great pressure. However, the plan itself was not discussed because the three were caught and shooed away before they could eavesdrop any longer.
After a little while, I grew tired of listening to their conversation so I excused myself for the night and departed to my room. Naturally, Ron followed me, lacing my fingers with his. When we entered our room, I broke away from him and started to strip off my robes.
His voice startled me. "Honey, are you alright?"
"Mhm. Yeah, Ron. Just a bit tired…" And as if on cue, I yawned. "My eyes were starting to get heavy," I smiled and climbed onto my bed.
Relief washed over him and he started to strip off his robes before putting on his pajamas. Then, he positioned himself on the bed next to me.
"If anything's bothering you, I'm all ears. Hope you know that," Ron said.
"Mm. I know. Thanks sweetie."
And with that, I snuggled closer to Ron, placing my head on his chest to listen to his heartbeat. As usual.
"Stop it! Stop it!" I cried, hardly able to contain my laughter.
I squirmed under Fleur as I was being tickled relentlessly by the blonde woman. I had previously tried to run away from the French woman, but was unsuccessful as Fleur trapped me simply by straddling my middle.
"Please, Fleur. Stop." I couldn't help but succumb to the strange sensation that caused me to laugh like a maniac.
"Tell me 'ow much you love me and I will stop," she smirked.
Damn French women. "I love you enough that one day without talking to you feels like a millennium of torture."
She feigned a thoughtful expression, "Hmm… I suppose that will do."
With that, she slid off of me… kind of. She laid down next to me, pressed her lips to my forehead, and then rested her head on my chest.
"How much do you lo—" I started, but was not able to finish.
"Shh…" the Frenchwoman replied.
"What?" I whispered.
"I can 'ear your 'eartbeat," she replied, seemingly mesmerized by possibly the rhythm. She moved her hand to my stomach and started tapping with her index finger. "That's your 'eartbeat," she whispered.
I closed my eyes and smile. It was cute how the older woman is so mesmerized over something as small as someone's heartbeat. Wait, I'm wrong. She is mesmerized with MY heartbeat, not just anyone's. That night, I just laid there, feeling the rhythm of my heartbeat from her tapping.
I found myself conscious in the middle of the night. I could hear Ron's constant breathing as he slept, with the occasional snore. His arm was still wrapped around me and I found that I now have my back towards him. I laid there, just thinking about the dream I had. It was no ordinary dream… it was something from my past. A past that I thought I had buried deep inside of me. A past that I did not wish to remember; that I wanted to erase.
Fleur… why did she have to come back? Why did she have to be here, in Hogwarts, of all places? No, I shouldn't think this way. I'm happy with my life right now and it doesn't matter whether she's here or not. She's just my professor right now. I shouldn't think any more of this. I turned around and watched as Ron slept. That's right. I'm with Ron now. The one for me is Ron, not Fleur. The one I love right now is Ronald Weasley, not Fleur Delacour. Him. Not her.
Needless to say, I couldn't fall asleep again last night. My mind just kept wandering back to her. I constantly reminded myself that it was all in the past; that what we had doesn't mean anything anymore. I had to constantly tell myself that it is Ron that I love now; that I have to forget about her.
When I saw that the sun was slowly rising, I left the bed and went to the bathroom. My body mechanically went through with the usual morning routine: brushing teeth, washing face, showering, taming slightly-bushy hair, changing into robes, making morning conversation with Ron…
"I think I'm actually going to look forward to Defense Against the Dark Arts now…" said Ron.
"Yeah, me too," I replied, trying to match his enthusiasm.
Ron stopped what he was doing and studied me. He had that look of concern plastered to his face, like last night. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" I returned, perplexed by his question.
"You've been acting kinda strange since… since yesterday. It feels like… you're unhappy or something…. I don't know…"
I smiled at him, "I'm fine, Ron. I've just been having some things on my mind recently…"
"Like what Snape would do… or what You-Know-Who will do now that they're grip on Hogwarts is loosening. I'm just worried about what to expect, you know?" A lie. A complete lie.
"I see… I never thought about that…"
"Yeah. Come on, Ginny and Harry are waiting for us…"
With that, I left the room with Ron by my side. The rest of the day has gone by just like any other day: classes, food, and library. Days, even weeks, pass by just like today. The only thing that has changed in my routinely days is that I barely pay attention in Defense Against the Dark Arts class. I try to, but my mind has a tendency to wander off.
"Eez somezzing wrong, ma cherie?"
Fleur's features contorted into utter concern as she watched me storm through the grounds and plop down next to her with a huff. My eyes fixed on the lake before me. I knew that my brows were angled to show anger, and the downward curve of my lips did not help ease her worry. I did not reply to her, knowing that my response may be curt with venom.
"Eez eet ze boys?"
"Ron," I finally spoke, no longer able to contain myself at the mention of boys. "It seems he has just realized that I am a girl. As if all these years, he thought I was actually male!"
"Zere, zere 'ermione," she said soothingly as she patted my back. "Eet eez 'is lost zat 'e did not realize earlier. Besides, I know zat you are a girl. Une fille très belle."
"But I've been through life and death with the guy and… and he—"
"Shh…" she pressed her index finger to my lips and silenced me. "So 'ave you a date for ze ball?"
"Viktor." I replied, voice softer.
"Krum? 'Ermione, you 'ave nozing to be upset about. Zat boy may 'ave not noticed, but ze international Quidditch player 'ave noticed you."
I suppose Fleur is right. Ron was always blind to the most obvious things. I shouldn't have expected anything more from him. Maybe I did over-react in this situation. After all, I'm going to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum. It'll be a shock to everyone, especially Ron when he realizes that I wasn't lying. I shifted my position and leaned backwards onto Fleur. I allowed her arms to envelope me as I turned my head to watch the peaceful lake ahead. I don't know what I would do without this woman. My fourth year has been hectic, but she has been there for me time and time again.
"Who are you going to the Yule Ball with?" I asked, curious.
"Zat boy… Quidditch player… I forget 'is name."
The nonchalant tone of her voice told me that she didn't care at all. I couldn't help but feel happy, a sort of guilty pleasure. She didn't care about anyone. She just cared about me. And I loved it. Loved how I'm the only she deemed worthy of her attention. The peaceful silence resumed. I did not break it this time. I liked the feel of the atmosphere. The feeling of security and love rushing through my veins. The beautiful scenery uncovering as the sun sets. The warm, protective arms embracing me as I spent time with the one I love.
I've been thinking too much lately. Thinking about too many things that I shouldn't be remembering. I just can't seem to understand myself lately. I was so convinced that I had it all. That my life is as perfect as it can get. But that void that I ignored for so long is growing now. It has been growing since the day Fleur walked through those doors to become our teacher. And I don't know why that is happening now…
That's a lie. I do know. I just don't want to admit it. I don't want to admit that I'm always thinking about this woman. I don't want to admit that memories of her haunt me relentlessly, day and night. I don't want to admit that I crave to see her; need to hear her voice; want to feel her like before. And I curse myself for that. I shouldn't want her anymore. I shouldn't need her anymore. I shouldn't… love her anymore?
Okay. This is getting way out of hand. I can't feel this way. I can't need this woman. I… I have Ron. I need to be with him. He's the one that I should love now. He's my boyfriend, for god's sake. For the umpteenth time, I felt so confused and lost. For the umpteenth time, I tell myself that I should be loving Ron, and forgetting Fleur. But my mind doesn't listen. My irrational heart does not comply with my rational brain. And I am once again forcing myself to just forget everything and plunged myself into my studies.
"Hey honey?" Ron came to find me in the library. A rare occasion.
"Hmm? What are you doing here? You hate the library." I asked, a bit surprised by his presence.
"I just… wanted to talk… to you…"
His facial features showed that he didn't really want to have this talk. It showed that he rather be anywhere else but here, fearing the upcoming conversation. The tone of his uncertain voice caused a pang of guilt to hit me. I wondered if he realized that I have been thinking about someone else for the past few weeks. I wondered if he knew of my internal struggles for the many days that Fleur has arrived.
Noting the seriousness and the weight that this conversation may hold, I gently placed my quill on top of the parchment and gave him my full attention. "About what?"
I watched as he struggled to find the right words, eyes darting everywhere around the room. "I just… the past few weeks… are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Just… you seem out of it lately… just don't seem yourself these past few…"
"I see. I assure you though, Ronald Weasley, that I am fine," I said as I squeezed his hand and gave him a reassuring smile.
He grinned, "Alright then, Hermione Granger. But… what's been on your mind?"
"It's nothing, really…" I said, trying to sound nonchalant so that he'll drop the subject.
"Let me translate that from girl language to English. It means, 'something is wrong but I don't want to discuss it cause it'll worry my sweet, loving boyfriend'."
I smiled at his efforts, "I've just been… worried about family, is all…" I lied. Another lie.
"What about? Something happen to your folks?"
"No. And I would hope it stays that way. It's just… with all the muggle killings lately… I've just been worried that my parents would be next. You-Know-Who is… he's no less merciful than before…"
It sickens me how well I can lie to Ron now; how easy it is to tell him of my false concerns. I couldn't tell what he was thinking, but concern was etched all over his face. I wanted to scream at him for caring so much about me. I wanted to yell at him for even loving me in the first place. He shouldn't. Not someone like me. Not someone who lies to him. Not someone who has been emotionally unfaithful to him.
"I'm sure they'll be fine. I'm sure the Order wouldn't let anything happen to them…"
He wasn't sure about this and I know it. And he knows that I know. The Order has been way too busy with other things. Namely, things that have a direct connection to the Dark Lord.
I just stare at him, not knowing what to say or do anymore. He stared back, most likely feeling the same way. Silence ensued, and neither one of us even thought to break it until two bickering voices reached our ears.
"Must be a couple's tussle…" said Ron, finally breaking eye contact. "I… I should get going. I'll see you back in the room."
"Yeah, I'll see you then…"
The conversation didn't go the way it was intended, mainly because I didn't admit the truth. I couldn't possibly tell Ron what was really on my mind for the past few weeks. It'd kill him. I scoffed at myself for the statement. As if I'm not already killing him on the inside. He senses that something is wrong and I won't tell him what it is. I bet that hurts just as much.
Honestly, after that conversation, I could not focus on homework at all. I hated myself for doing what I did, for thinking what I think, for feeling what I feel. After that day, I tried to act normal. Tried to be myself again, whatever that was. Tried even harder to not think on the blonde woman who taught me every weekday.
Saturday approached and the boys decided to go to Hogsmeade for a break. Harry proposed the idea, saying that the year must be exhausting and that a break will do us good. In actuality, I know that he just wanted to hear about some outside news that Hogwarts refused to slip. I declined the offer. I couldn't bear to be around Ron any more than I have to lately. All the lies that I threw at him made it hard to me to look him in the face.
Finding that my mind will not allow me to comprehend anything that I read, I decided to take a walk around Hogwarts. I just circled around the castle and the surrounding grounds. My thoughts consumed me today and for once, I did not try to control it. I was so tired of pretending. So tired of having to control what I thought. So tired of everything. And I just wanted to let loose. I lied down on the green grass of the Quidditch field and closed my eyes. Thoughts came and went freely, unrepressed.
"I go tomorrow…" said Fleur.
"I know…"I replied, not knowing what to say.
"What does zat mean… for us?"
"Nothing… we'll still stay in touch. I'll owl and everything…"
"Mm… moi aussi. I 'ope to visit in ze summer eef ma mère will allow…"
I smiled at her, "That'll be great."
And that was the end of that conversation. No more talk about leaving. No talk about missing each other while we were separated. Just, spending time together like we usually do. The day arrived when she had to leave. We gave each other a friendly hug and made no mention of anything that happened between us. It was understood to be a secret, from beginning to end. What I would never forget about that day is the way she whispered 'au revoir' into my ear right before she boarded the carriage to head home. I couldn't forget the low whisper of her French voice that revealed her love to me in just those two words that meant goodbye.
As promised, I wrote to her after she left. Our separation affected me more than I thought, but I ignored the feeling because I knew she was still there for me. Our letters were long and detailed, telling each other about our days. But these long, detailed letters started to shorten as time passed by. These shortened letters started to lessen as time passed by. But none of this was her fault. It was mine. I was the one who started to shorten my letters and lessen them as time went on. Truth is, the long distance was hard for me. I couldn't deal with not seeing her. I wanted to be with someone who I could touch and hold and kiss and… just know that I could be in their arms. I needed that sense of security. And Fleur being so far away, she couldn't give it to me.
In time, I cracked and I wrote her one final letter. The one telling her that I couldn't go on like this anymore. The one that stated I wanted to break up, which practically broke her heart. I apologized to her and as I wrote 'goodbye' on that piece parchment, I heard her whisper 'au revoir' into my ear once more. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I did it and I cried after sending that owl off.
Of all things, my mind has to wander back to that? I sighed to myself, unable to shake the feeling of guilt. It was my fault back then, when I let go of Fleur. If I was strong enough to endure the distance back then, Fleur wouldn't have dated Bill, and I wouldn't be with Ron now. I would be with her. I shook those thoughts away from my mind and started controlling what I thought again. I can't think such things. Not now. Not ever. Not about her.
The sky darkened, and I took that as cue to return to the castle. As I made my way back to the Gryffindor tower to see if my friends were back, I spotted that Fleur's classroom door was left ajar. I don't know what compelled me to slowly push the door open and enter the room, I just did. My eyes wandered around the classroom. It was empty except for the usual furniture. The desk was covered with parchment, presumably homework that needs to be graded. When I heard a slight creaking noise behind me, I reflexively extended my wand as I turned around.
"Professor," I breathed. "You scared me…" The grip on my wand loosened as I pocketed it again.
"Eez zere somezing you wanted?" Fleur asked, turning her heels and making her way towards the desk.
"No, I just… I was around… and…" I struggled for words. I didn't know how to explain to her why I was here. I didn't even know myself. "I'll just go now… bye"
"Au revoir…" she replied, her voice only about two notches above a whisper.
Au revoir… Right then, I snapped. My mind reeled through all the memories that we shared. All the longing. All the wanting. All the needing that I felt in the past few weeks flooded my senses. I tried to reason myself out of what I was about to do. I tried to tell myself that Ron was probably up in the common room, waiting for me now. I tried to tell myself that it is a bad idea. But I didn't listen. I was losing control of my mind and my body, but I didn't even attempt to regain it.
"Do you think about me as often as I think about you?" I blurted.
I found myself slowly making my way towards her. She paused what she was doing and just stared at me.
"What?" she asked, startled.
"Do you think about me still?" I asked, voice softer now that I am in front of her.
She stood from her seat so that she did not have to look up. "Why…?"
"I just… I…"
I was at a lost for words. What does she mean, why? It was a simple question with a simple yes or no answer. I just wanted to know… I just needed to know what she's feeling now; what she feels when she sees me in class. I looked into her eyes, searching for something, trying to find a hint. But before I could find what I was looking for, I lost myself and I felt like I was 14 again. I placed my hand at the back of her neck, forced her down, and my lips met hers. At first, she did not respond to the kiss. I didn't know if it was from shock or because she was fighting with herself, but she eventually came through. And this kiss… was the most meaningful one I had in ages. I can't remember the last time I was lost with just the feeling of someone else's tongue in my mouth, or vice versa.
"You… you shouldn't 'ave done zat…" Fleur said, removing my hand from her neck. "You 'ave a boyfriend…"
"I know. But, you're the one I'm always thinking about… don't you think about me still?"
"I'm sorry, 'ermione. Given ze circumstances… nozing can 'appen between us again. You 'ave a boyfriend and I am your professor."
"I know! But just answer me. Just tell me… do you still think about me? Do you still love me?"
Fleur turned around, not wanting to see me, I assume. "Oui…" she whispered.
I smiled, feeling some sort of hope. Hope for what? I don't know… just a feeling. But she continued with her response.
"But you 'ave Ron, 'ermione. You 'ave to be with 'im…"
"I know, Fleur. I know that… but you make it so hard to be faithful…"
"I'm sorry, 'ermione, but you will 'ave to just forget me… forget everything zat 'appened between us…"
I didn't understand why she had to say this. Did my fourth year really mean nothing to her? Or is she still bitter with what I did back then?
Her strained voice told me that what she just said hurts her just as much as it hurts me. Like she didn't really want me to forget. Like she wanted me to break up with Ron and be with her again. Like she was hoping that I would argue against it. But I didn't. I complied with her last request and left the room. Left her there… again… like back then.
With that conversation heavy on my mind, it was hard to be around Ron at times. It even made it hard to look at Ginny. At some points, it felt suffocating to be in Harry's presence. This didn't do me any good at all, as I tried my best to act normal like I said I would. But in all honesty, I was so tired of the acting and the pretending. I was so tired of all the fake excuses I was making and all the lies I was feeding everyone. I just didn't want to deal with them any longer; didn't want to continue what I was doing. I knew I was hurting Ron. I can see it. I know that hurting Ron is causing Harry discomfort and Ginny bitterness. I just wanted to end it. Stop myself from everything. Stop myself from feeling what I was feeling…
You will 'ave to just forget me… forget everything zat 'appened between us…
I closed my eyes. Easier said than done. Then as I remembered a lesson previously learned in potions, I figured that it wasn't impossible. I just needed the right ingredients. One night, I borrowed Harry's invisibility cloak (shamefully, without his knowledge) and snuck into the potion master's cabinet to take a few items. I set to work the day after, brewing the complicated potion in Moaning Myrtles' bathroom like I did with the Polyjuice potion in my second year. The potion took a week to complete. It was about finished when Ginny walked through those bathroom doors and found me.
"What are you doing?" were the first words she said as she spotted me.
"Brewing a potion…" I replied, not looking at her at all.
"What for…?" she asked, skeptically.
"What are you here for?" I asked, changing the subject. She took the bait.
"Needed to talk to you… about what's going on with you lately…" she answered. "I don't know if you realize this, Hermione, but Ron is hurting really badly right now…"
I do realize. That's why I'm making this potion right now. To make everything better. But I can't tell Ginny that…
"Hermione, talk to me!"
Moaning Myrtle, who was quite amused by the conversation, took a dive into one of the bathrooms when Ginny started yelling.
"He's my brother, for god's sake! And it hurts to see him, face in his palms, confused about what's going on with you. Hurt about you not confiding in him anymore. Hurt that he can't help ease your worries in the least bit. And what's worse, it's that you've been avoiding him. But not just him… me too… and Harry."
I was at a lose for words. I didn't know how to respond. I didn't know what to say to her. I heard myself mutter something, the same thing that I always mutter when I was yelled at. "I'm sorry, Ginny…"
"Sorry? Hermione… sorry doesn't cut it. Just… whatever's going on between you and Professor Delacour, it has got to stop."
"What do you mean? Nothing is going on between Fleur and I…"
She scoffed. "You just called our dear professor by her first name, Hermione. Seriously, do you think I'm that blind? It shows… during meals, she always looks over at you at least 5 times. You always try to avoid her attention around us. And Ron has been hearing you calling her name in your sleep. And that's just the beginning of the list… do I really need to go on?" Her voice was steadily rising as she spoke.
"It's not… it's really not like that, Gin. I promise you that." I felt a burn behind my eyes, but I fought it. I needed to stay in check right now.
That stung, hard. Partly because I was a liar, but mostly because the one time that I was telling the truth, she didn't believe me. I took a deep breath. I needed to come clean. For once, I resolved to tell someone about it.
"I admit that… Fleur and I had a past…" I started, voice beginning to tremble at the memories.
"What do you mean… you two had a past?" she asked, a bit taken aback.
"I'm bi, Gin. I think you know that. It happened in my fourth year, with the TriWizard Tournament. The first time I met her was in the library… and everything just kind of happened from there. We started hanging out a lot and I started liking her, a lot. Apparently, she felt the same way too, because we started going out a little after the First Task. We talked often… saw each other often… and everything just felt so right. I loved her…" I realized that my voice has lowered tremendously and was a near whisper.
"You love her… it seems like you still have those lingering feelings."
"When she left, we couldn't see each other anymore. We just sent letters back and forth. At first, I was fine with that… but as time went on, it just got harder and harder for me. I… I wanted someone to hold me when I needed it… she being too far away couldn't give me that. I-I broke up with her…" I felt a few tears sliding down my face but I made no move to wipe them away. At this point, I know that they will only be reinforced later on. "But when she came back to Hogwarts, when I talked her again… all those feelings that I thought I had buried deep inside me…"
I had to stop what I was saying to regain composure. I was losing control faster than I thought I would. I just needed to momentarily forget what I was thinking. Just get away from all the emotions and all the memories. I had to shut my eyes and take several deep breaths before continuing.
"It just happened. All the memories and the emotions and everything… I couldn't stop thinking about her… thinking about our past. I tried not to, tried to stop myself. It was so hard, trying to control everything that I thought constantly. So hard because once I stopped, I would think about her again. I didn't want to. I know I shouldn't be… I know I have Ron. I just… it hurts me just as much… everything that's been happening recently. I want this to stop just as much…" I was right. The tears were being reinforced. I was crying, not uncontrollably, but the tears were flowing.
"So why don't you do something about it? I mean, you could have saved Ron the misery and just broke up with him. Or you have to just… I don't know. At least let him know what's wrong with you…" Ginny replied, her voice softened.
"I am doing something about it… now," I replied, voice quivering against my will.
I poured some of the potion into a cup and held in front off Ginny. Her eyes were completing fixed at the blue-ish gray mixture.
"This is a memory-erasing potion. It erases certain memories from the drinker, permanently."
"So, what?" Ginny's voice had an edge to it, and her voice was going to rise again. "You're just going to slip this into Ron's drink and erase his memories of you two now? You're going to make Ron forget so that you can be with Fleur? What about Harry and I?!"
"This potion… is for me. For me to forget all the things that happened between Fleur and I when I was a fourth year… for me to forget all the memories… for me to forget that I was ever intimate with her… for me to forget all the thick and thins that she and I have been through… for me to forget that I love her…"
"How will it know which memory to erase? What if it accidentally erases memories of you and Ron?"
"It won't… I have to extract the memory that I want to erase into this potion so that it knows exactly what to erase… that's how it works…"
I took a deep breath, prolonging what I resolved to do. I wanted to hold onto those memories a little longer. They were probably the best that I have, despite all the havoc it has been causing recently. And that's the reason why it has to go now… because of the chaos that it has been making me, and everyone around me, go through.
I withdrew my wand from the left sleeve of my robes and pointed it at myself. Closing my eyes, I slowly extracted the memories that have been kept a secret for so long. Slowly and carefully, I placed those memories into the potion inside the cup and watched as it changed into a blood-red color. With a slightly shaky hand, I hesitantly picked up the cup and brought it to my lips. A solitary tear escape my right eye as the burning liquid made its way down my throat.
Memories of love… that's what it means when your potion turns into a blood-red color when a memory has been extracted into it. Only the deepest, truest love can evoke that color from this potion. A normal red color simply means love, but blood-red… it's the kind that only death can part the lovers. Personally, I advise against taking this potion when that happens…
Memories that I have extracted of Fleur and I were passing before my eyes quickly. It seemed to only take one second for a year of memories to appear before me. And it felt like I was reliving everything again. Warm embrace. Tapping on stomach. Kiss. Tongue. Heartbeat. Skin on skin. Clutching. Patting. Tracing. Rubbing. Sneaking. Laughing. Comforting. Laying in bed. Cuddling. Loving.
And then, blank. Everything disappeared and an empty feeling weighed heavily in my heart.
So yeah... I realized that not everyone has had french class before but I'm too lazy to do the translations right now... besides, my french kinda suck so you're likely to be able to translate them from babelfish. (grin)
So yeah... not the best ending that could happen, and I swear I had another one in mind, but... this one was shorter. (smiles) Review and all, feedback is always nice.