A/N: Yes, this one-shot has been modified, and beta-read! Hope you like it :)
Thanks goes out to youroctober for beta-reading this, and vastly improving it from what it was before, in terms of grammar, punctuation and characterization! A link to her Perfect Imagination profile can be found on my page, so go and check it out.
Oh, and don't forget to review, my lovelies!
Moments In Time
"Is this seat taken?"
"Depends on who wants to know,"
"Hermione. Hermione Granger."
Draco thought for a while.
"I've never heard of you in the wizarding circles before."
"I'm a Muggle-born; both my parents are Muggles."
A disgusted look, and then…
"Filth. Get out of here, and go find another compartment."
A contemptuous look, followed by, "I suppose you're a Pureblood, then."
"I am. What are you still doing here?"
"I need somewhere to sit, and this compartment happens to be empty."
"Draco Malfoy does not share compartments with Mud–-"
"Draco, there you are! Me and Goyle, we've been looking all over for you! Heard Harry Potter's on the train."
"Just as well that the two of you came along. I was being tainted by filth. Let's go."
Hermione smiled and walked up to the Gryffindor table, greeted by tumultuous applause and cheering. She waited until she saw that boy again –-Draco Malfoy.
He was a Pureblood, mean and arrogant; naturally he would be sorted into Slytherin. From what she had heard, that House didn't have much of a reputation. . It was fitting that they should be rivals.
"Hermione, don't be like that. You know I have to act like this, or else they'd get suspicious. I'm sorry."
"Yes, I know," she hissed back at him. "But did you have to call me such a foul, degrading term? And was it absolutely necessary to laugh at Ron when he was throwing up slugs?"
"Yes, and yes! Merlin, I have to insult you, because that's the way it's supposed to be. And I had to laugh. Why? Because it was funny and because I hate him and Potter."
"But they're my friends, Draco, don't you care about that?"
He shrugged. "I don't care much for Potty and Weasel and I'm not going to change that just because you and I are fr--"
She raised an eyebrow, daring him to continue. He lifted his chin defiantly. "Just because you and I are acquaintances."
She was fighting back a smile and it annoyed him to no end. Finally straight-faced, she said, "Draco, I have to go now. And…congratulations on making it as Seeker."
With a small wave, she was gone.
"Harry's not the heir of Slytherin."
"I know you know. You know more than you're letting on."
"Hermione, don't -–"
"No, Malfoy, you don't! Whatever you know may very well endanger lives, mine included! You said so yourself, remember? That we'll be the first to go?"
"Granger, what do you expect me to do? We're on opposite sides! I may spend some time with you now and then, but that doesn't change the principles I was raised on all of my life! But as far as you're concerned, I would never let any harm befall you!"
"Ha! What is it that you can do? You're just a boy. We're just children, Malfoy! And if your principles haven't changed, then maybe we should stop this…thing. It's not right. I'm betraying my friends!"
Draco threw up his hands in frustration.
"Stop this? Haven't we tried that? I never even wanted to start it! It was your insistence, your constant, bothersome presence, which led us to this mess in the first place!"
Hermione's eyes glazed over with tears.
"Fine, then. If I'm so bothersome, I'll just leave."
He caught her arm.
"Don't go. I'm sorry."
He crept into the Hospital Wing. It was dark and the only occupants were the Petrified students, out cold on their beds. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he peered at the outlines, barely able to make hers out in a corner.
"Granger," he whispered, making his way over to where she lay.
An incredible surge of sadness spread though him. He had promised to protect her -–and had failed. She was right: he was just a boy.
"I miss you."
"Maybe you're taking on more subjects than you can chew. How do you manage to get to your classes?"
"Maybe you should stay out of my business."
"Anything you do, Granger, is my business."
Hermione rolled her eyes and returned to her homework.
"What happened between you and the two morons?"
She looked at him beadily and replied, "No idea what you mean."
"Right. I'm not dumb."
"Could have fooled me."
It was Draco's turn to roll his eyes. She was being childish. Arguments with the Weasel affected her badly, he could tell. And he didn't like that. Not one bit.
"Whatever. I'm leaving. Meet me by the lake tomorrow; I want to spend some time with you."
She did, of course, go. Because she could never refuse him. And she hated to think what that might mean.
"You slapped me quite hard today."
She looked up at him apologetically.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I was angry."
His eyes were hard and unyielding. "That's no excuse."
"It wasn't meant to be one. I'm just sorry."
She kissed him softly on the same cheek that she had slapped so hard just a few hours ago.
"You're the only person who's slapped me and gotten away with it, you know. You should be thankful we're friends, or else you'd quite likely be dead."
Hermione gave a small smile. Friends.
"Keep that big, bushy head of yours down, Granger."
He had meant it, and he hoped to Merlin that she would do just that. He couldn't bear the thought of watching her float up into the air with the Muggles. He couldn't.
"Sorry about your teeth, Granger."
She smiled slightly.
"It's okay. I know you weren't aiming at me. Plus, I got it fixed a bit."
"I got Madam Pomfrey to shrink them a little bit more, so they're normal-sized now."
She smiled more fully, displaying a full set of perfectly-shaped, white teeth.
"Beautiful," Malfoy commented under his breath.
"I'm going with Viktor Krum."
"Krum? Krum? Out of all the girls he could have, he chose you?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"That I'm the most unlucky bastard on Earth."
"I don't know what you're complaining about! You're going with Pansy!"
"You know that if I could, I'd go with you."
"You look beautiful tonight."
"You-Know-Who's back now, Draco. We should stop this. Now we're truly on two opposite sides."
"We're friends, remember? How can we just stop that?"
"If we were really friends, you'd be on our side. On my side."
"That's not fair. You know I can't do that."
"All I know is that you won't even try. Anyway…even if that weren't the case, I can't keep sneaking out to meet you like this. Ron thinks I have a secret boyfriend."
"Let him think what he wants to."
"I can't. I…I think I'm beginning to fancy Ron."
"I said I think I'm beginning to --"
Draco held up his hand.
"Enough. You're right. Maybe we should end this."
She missed him. But she had to stay away. It was what was best.
He missed her. It hurt. But she had openly declared her affection for the Weasel to him. That hurt even more.
Hermione almost ran out of the Common Room. They were at it again. Couldn't Ron and Lavender let up for even one minute? Wherever she saw them, they seemed to be glued together at the lips. She had had enough. She needed him. Now.
She knew where he would most likely be at this time of the day. So she went to find him.
He turned around slowly.
She moved closer to him. He didn't budge
"What do you want, Mudblood?"
Before he could react, she had launched herself at him and started to kiss him passionately. He couldn't even bring himself to throw her off, to remember the pain she had caused him. He kissed her back with equal fervour. It was a good thing that he enjoyed relaxing at secluded and well-hidden areas by the lake, for that night he claimed her as his own, and she gave him the one thing that he had yet to take.
Hermione felt whole and complete. She loved spending time with Draco and had missed it during the past year. She had to make the most of it now while she still could. Because she knew. Knew that he was a Death Eater. She had seen the mark blemishing the otherwise perfect skin on his left forearm. But she couldn't let go, not yet.
He was lying next to her, naked, eyes closed. The scars from Harry's Sectumsempra were faint, but visible. She slowly traced the outline of his face and watched as he stirred and fell asleep again. For the first time in her life, she wished it could be forever.
But Hermione was not idealistic, she was realistic. She knew that one day, she would have to let him go. Forever.
"I love you."
His eyes opened slowly.
"I love you, too."
"Snape and Malfoy got away!"
Hermione's heart broke.
She was supposed to hate him now, right? But she couldn't. Even on her quest for Horcruxes with Harry, she thought of him at night. Sometimes she cried, muffled, hoping Harry couldn't hear her.
This was it. They were at the castle, and the War would end soon. Someone would die. A lot of people had already died. She had kissed Ron for the first time, yet all the while she wished it was Draco. She had seen him, and had feigned indifference.
As battle broke out on all sides, the chaos was uncontrollable. Hexes and curses flew around the place, and she hoped, prayed that her boys would stay safe. She knew that she was being selfish, but she hoped that they would. Draco included.
She had just stupefied a Death Eater when a pair of strong arms engulfed her and pulled her away into yet another hidden alcove. She struggled, but not too much. Because she knew who this was.
"Draco, why do you think now is a good time to be doing this?"
He looked at her, eyes conveying sadness and regret. Then he kissed her. Soft, quick, but effective.
He made to move back, but she held on to him tighter. She knew she had to let go, she knew. But it was so hard. So damn hard.
He pulled away from her embrace and disappeared amongst the warring crowd.
Draco had decided from the moment this battle had started that now was time to fulfill his promise. The one he had made to Hermione so many years ago, as a mere boy, to keep her safe. So he did. He watched as she fought Death Eater after Death Eater, and deflected as many curses as he could see being hurled in her direction.
If we were really friends, you'd be on our side. On my side.
He was on no one's side anymore. Only hers.
And then he had to do it. He had to say goodbye. Because he would never get another chance. Ever. So he did.
She hadn't seen him again after the battle. Rumour had it that he had left the country. She married Ron, settled down, and started a family of her own. But she never forgot him.
Nearly two decades later, she saw him. With his wife. And son. He nodded to Harry and Ron, and then snuck a quick glance at her. She noticed the way he swallowed hard and looked away. She felt tears prickling her eyes and a lump forming in her throat. She couldn't cry. Not here, not now. Still, after so long, it hurt.
Unbeknownst to both Hermione and Draco, they thought the same thing as they turned away.
I still love you.