all characters belong to JKR

Summary: Sometimes a person feels like they don't belong anywhere. Hermione felt like she didn't belong in the Magic world, or the Muggle world. She had regrets, and she had made mistakes, but all she wanted was to belong... somewhere, anywhere. Draco could help her belong, if she would only let him. He knew right where she belonged, she belonged with him. Banner by Cemicool! Thanks to her.

This story won best D/Hr Hurt/Comfort (Episkey) Award at the Livejournal New Library Awards. Thanks to everyone who voted for it!

*There is a video made by "I can spell confusion with a K" on youtube for this story. Thanks to her! Here is the Link: .com/watch?v=OSXo44deevE (Or go click the link on my Author's page.)

A Regret to Belong


Anne M.

Chapter One: Welcome Home:

Looking around at all the unfamiliar people she felt a pang of regret. She wanted someone to acknowledge her pain. She wanted someone to recognize the journey she had taken, and more than anything, she wanted to feel like she belonged. Yet here she was, in a room full of foreign faces, and she realized no one cared. No one gave a damn. That was how it should be. She would change it if she could, but she could not, so there was nothing to do about it.

Her train was late. That meant she would arrive late, and there was no way for her to let her father know. She paced back and forth, near the seats, and finally decided to sit down. A mother and a young son were sitting two seats over from her, and the little boy was crying. The mother looked overwhelmed. She looked at Hermione and said, "Do you mind watching him while I visit the restroom?"

Hermione thought it was odd that someone would ask a complete stranger to watch their small child, but she agreed. The little boy was still crying. Hermione sat next to him, looked around to make sure no one saw, and she used magic to transfigure a straw that she saw on the ground into a blue balloon. She handed it to the little boy, and he smiled and stopped crying. The mother came back, thanked Hermione, and did not even seem to notice the balloon.

Hermione went back to her own seat, but after a few moments, she felt anxious again, and started walking through the station once more. She stopped by the vending machines and a man came up behind her and said, "I saw what you did. I know what you are."

Hermione felt fear and turned around. It was Harry. She hit his chest. "You scared me."

"You scared me," he came back. "Why are you leaving without telling anyone goodbye?"

"I said goodbye," she reasoned.

"In a note, Hermione," he said back.

"My father needs me," she lied, looking down at the ground.

"I don't doubt that, but I do doubt that's why you're leaving. Tell me why, Hermione? Why are you running away?"

"I can't stand the pain any longer, Harry. I'm sorry. Please, forgive me," she said sadly.

"There's nothing to forgive, but you should know you can't run from your problems," he answered.

"Don't preach to me, please, Harry." Finally, a conductor called out that her train had arrived. "I have to go, Harry."

"Why are you taking the train? Why not apparate?" he asked.

"Because, I'm leaving the magic world behind," she answered with a smile, to show she was joking. Harry looked over at the little boy still holding the blue balloon.

"Really? Since ten seconds ago?" he asked.

She smiled again, kissed his cheek, and said, "I'll write. Goodbye." She walked toward her train, and climbed into the car. She found her seat and opened the window, to let in some air. Harry was still standing by the doors watching her. She put her hand up once more, to signal goodbye. She sat in the opposite seat so she didn't have to watch him as the train went away.

She had been traveling for two hours when the train finally stopped. She was napping, so the sudden stop, and the sound of the brakes, woke her from her slumber. She looked at her watch. She was almost two hours late. Her train was supposed to arrive at 2:00 pm, and it was after four. She wondered if her father waited for her. She exited the train, picked up her two suitcases and her satchel, and she stood at the little abandoned looking station. Only she and one other person exited here. The other person was picked up shortly after they arrived. That just left her.

She could apparate, but her father wouldn't like that. He never liked her using magic. His family didn't know she was a witch. Her parents were never married. He was married to another woman when he fell in love with her mother. Most considered her an accident, a mistake, but her mother and father always loved her. Her father's wife never liked her. She blamed her for her husband's indiscretions, which was ridiculous, but true. She had two older brothers whom she barely knew. Hermione had visited one week a summer, since she was young, but she was never made to feel welcome. She knew it wouldn't be any different now. Her father loved her, her brothers even loved her, but it was what Mrs. Granger thought that mattered, and she didn't even like Hermione.

Hermione's mother died when she was seven. Her grandparents raised her with love and happiness, always embracing her magic. Her grandmother died right after the war, and her grandfather died just last April. That was one reason Hermione couldn't face things any longer. It was a combination of things really: her grandfather's death, her dissatisfaction with her job, and now, her broken marriage. She was ashamed that she couldn't make her marriage work. She was only married a year and a half, and already divorced. Her biggest pain was that she had lost a baby. She was eight months pregnant. That was the kicker. Just one month to go, and she would have had a beautiful baby. She knew her marriage was over the minute she lost the baby. He did not say that was the reason he left her, but she knew it was. She mourned her little boy every single day.

Well, Hermione figured she had better start walking as her father's farm was far away. It wouldn't hurt to use magic to shrink her trunks would it? She didn't care; she had nothing to prove to anyone. She shrunk her luggage, and placed them in her purse. She started walking.

Her father lived in small community in western England farm country. He had been the only physician in the community, until his son joined his practice, and he came from a very distinguished, well off, family. He met her mother when he came to London for business, and even though he was married, he started an affair with her, and Hermione was the result. Everyone knew about his 'bastard' daughter. That was the way things were in small communities, everyone knew everyone's business. Still, most people always treated her with kindness and respect. Most people.

Hermione stopped to sit on the railing of a small bridge. She sighed, for she was already tired, and hungry. The afternoon sun was blaring hot. She wiped her brow, and leaned her head back, eyes closed. She liked the feel of the hot sun on her face. A car drove past her, her eyes still closed as it passed, but she heard it. She stood to continue walking, but noticed that the car had stopped on the other side of the bridge.

She started over the bridge, and noticed that the car started backing toward her. Maybe they were going to offer her a ride. She bent slightly, to look in the window. Suddenly, the car sped back up, and out of sight. Oh well, she would just continue to walk.

She reached the little hamlet, and stopped at the general store. She walked in, banging the screen door, and stepped over a large yellow and white cat that lay in the threshold.

She walked over to the counter, smiled, and asked if they had bottled water. The lady behind the counter said, "You wouldn't be Dr. Granger's daughter, would you?" Hermione nodded as the lady handed Hermione water. Hermione put some money on the counter, which the lady refused.

"Yes, I am, my train was late. Might I use your phone to call my father?" she asked, after she took a long drink.

"You could, but it would do no good, lovey. Your father, brothers, and most of the town are off at the dairy. There was an explosion, and a big fire."

"Oh, no, was anyone hurt?" Hermione asked with concern.

"I don't rightly know, miss, but I don't think it's a good thing. That diary employs a lot of the town folk, you know," the woman said.

"Goodness, well, perhaps I should just walk on to the house. It's not to far now. Thank you for the water," Hermione said.

"Surely, someone could drive you. It's still a right far way," the woman said.

"Oh, I'll be fine, thank you," Hermione said.

"Did you leave your luggage at the station?" she asked Hermione.

"Oh, yes, I did," Hermione lied. "Thank you again."

Hermione stepped back over the fat yellow cat, and back outside. Now she had no choice but to walk the rest of the way. The same big black car that stopped at the end of the bridge, and then drove away, was parked outside the store. Hermione glared at it for a moment, and without giving it much regard, she walked past. She was level with the back bumper when the passenger side door opened. She heard a man's voice say, "Get in."

She looked back, and walked over to the opened door. Without looking in, she heard the person say, "I don't have all day. Get in."

She looked in the car, to see who belonged to the voice. She stood back up, closed the door, and frowned. She started to walk fast down the sidewalk, crossing the street, to head back out to the main road out of the little town square. There was no way she was getting in a car with him.

What was he even doing here? She knew his parents had lived near here, but they had both died. Surely, he didn't live here now. She turned down the little winding road, right off the main road, and continued her walk, not giving him a second thought. He must have decided to forget about her as well because he didn't follow her.

She had to stop once more, after walking nearly an hour. The house would be in view soon, but she had to stop. She was so tired. She wondered if her father and brothers were back yet. She sat on a felled tree, by the side of the road. She saw the dirt lane that led to her father's house. Her father's family had a lot of money, and their house was secluded and quite large. Hermione's mother's family had even more money than the Grangers did, so money never was an issue for Hermione. Her grandparents left her everything. She began to play with her charm bracelet. Her mum gave it to her right before she died. Her father gave her a charm on every birthday. It was important to her; it was as if it was from the both of them. She took it off for a moment, to remove the last charm she had. She hadn't even remembered keeping it.

It was from her husband, and she didn't want anything to do with him, so she didn't want to keep this charm. She took it off, stood up, and threw it far across a field. Perhaps an animal would eat it. She laughed. She started to put the bracelet back on, but the clasp wouldn't shut, and it slipped off her arm. Hermione cursed under her breath, and bent on her knees in the tall grass, feeling around for the precious bracelet. She had not seen where it dropped. She reached in her purse, to get her wand, when the same black car that was stalking her from before stopped right in front of her.

The driver got out and walked around the side of the car. Hermione felt at a distinct disadvantage being on her hands and knees, especially in front of this man. She decided to stay where she was. She continued looking for her bracelet.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I lost my bracelet," she stated. He took out his wand, and in a second, her bracelet appeared in his hand. She stood up, and walked over to him, her hand out to retrieve her lost jewelry. Instead of handing it to her, he slipped it around her wrist, and closed the clasp.

"Your father asked me to come fetch you today. You weren't at the station when I first arrived, and I drove around forever looking for you," he said.

"My train was late, so while you were driving around looking for me, I wasn't even here yet. Why would my father ask you to come get me?" she asked.

"Well, he knows who I am, he knows what I am, and I suppose he was under the false impression that since we went to school together, we were friendly," he said.

"Is that why you left me on the bridge?" she said.

"I didn't see you on the bridge," he lied. She glared at him hard.

"I can walk, I'm almost there now," she said. "What are you doing back here?"

"That's a question I could level at you as well," he stated.

"Fine, you keep your secrets, and I'll keep mine." She continued up the lane. He got back in his car, and continued driving slowly behind her. She finally stopped and he rolled down the window.

"Why are you following me?" she asked.

"I promised your father I'd pick you up. I hardly want him to see you walking, but if you insist, I'm at least going to save face by driving next to you."

She made a 'tsk' noise, and opened the car door. She sat in the passenger side, and turned her head from him.

"Seriously, Granger, what are you doing here? You don't belong, you know," he said.

"I know. I don't belong anywhere, Malfoy," she answered glumly, staring at the passing scenery.

"Why take the train, why not use magic? I know no one around here knows what you are, but you father does," he leveled.

"I've always traveled here by train, for appearance sake, so it was just easier," she said.

"Did you husband not want to come along?" he asked.

"My husband is not my husband any longer," she sad sadly.

He let out a little laugh, which made her turn to him with anger, and he said, "Oh, sorry, it's just I knew you would come to your senses someday and leave the dolt."

"The dolt left me," she said. Why did she tell him that? She took a deep breath and said, "How about you, Malfoy, I don't see a wedding ring on your finger."

"No, no one has captured my heart yet, Granger. A few have tried to capture my purse strings, but not my heart." She actually smiled at that, and he smiled back.

They reached the driveway, and she said, "You can leave me here."

"Nothing doing. I don't want your father to think less of me," he said. "He was a very nice fellow to my mother toward the end of her life. Even though he was a Muggle physician, he gave her pain medicine and visited with her daily. I owe him a lot," Draco said.

Hermione never knew that. She knew her father was well respected in this small community, but she had no idea he was well regarded by the only wizard family within the area. They drove up to the house, and her brother Michael came running out of the front door. She exited the car and met him on the porch.

"We thought something bad happened to you!" he exclaimed, his arms going around her. "We were all tied up at a big fire at the Dairy."

"I heard. Is Dad here?" she asked.

"No, too many injured. Martin and he stayed behind. I came to see if you had arrived yet," Michael said. "Hello, Malfoy, thanks for bringing my baby sister home."

"Think nothing of it, Granger." Draco hadn't stepped completely out of his car, so it was easy for him to duck back in, and shut the door. Hermione climbed back down the porch, and ran to the car.

"Sorry about refusing the ride earlier," she said.

"It was more a hardship to you, not me." He smiled.

"Thanks," she said.

Her hand was on the car door. He reached out the window, put his hand on hers, and said, "You're welcome. Oh, and welcome home, Granger, welcome home." He waved and drove off, Hermione watching as he backed down the driveway. She turned back toward her brother, and walked in her father's house. She never thought she would step another foot in this house, and yet, here she was, but she didn't feel like she was home. She did not feel like she belonged here. As she told Malfoy, she never belonged anywhere.