Summary: "You know that love really isn't what they say it is, right? In the books? In the fairytales? Nobody comes and rescues you from your tower. Nobody fights off a big bad witch or even slays a dragon." A story in which everyone wants someone other than the one they're with. G/D/Hr/H.
A/N: For the lovely sandiwandi. She asked for a G/D/Hr love triangle but I got a wee bit carried away and threw Harry in for the mix! No surprises, though: this WILL end up D/Hr. Posting up 2 chapters today!
That day she'd had a tuna melt for lunch. Even afterwards, the throbbing cut on her finger had served as a cruel reminder of it. The story went like this: she had forgotten to cut the bread before she'd shoved it in the toaster oven to toast, and afterwards the bread had been too tough. That was how she'd come to slice good one on her finger. And as she sucked on it, flipping open the cabinet doors in an attempt to find a first aid kit or at least some damn band-aids, that was when she'd found the note on the table.
Went out for a walk. Don't worry, I'll be back soon.
To be fair to him, he hadn't taken one of this "walks" in, well, a while. In a few weeks, actually. It was pathetic to count but she did it anyway. Up until today, she had been all too relieved to tally up the growing number of "walk"-less days he'd had. She had built a little scoreboard up on her head out of the habit—all completely psychological. Every time a day went by without Harry disappearing and leaving only a minimal note as proof of his existence, she had been all too happy to tally it up in her mental scoreboard, but at the same time, that relief and happiness had always been coupled with worry and doubt. She was a practical woman. Happy mental scoreboard or not, she knew what was going on. It was too clear of a fact, glaring her right in the face, too brutal not to notice.
That morning, after finding a pack of band-aids in the drawer she kept the matches and incense, she erased the numbers on her scoreboard and hesitantly started over. Zero. A big fat goose egg.
She kept all of this in mind as she ate her lunch. It tasted a lot bitter than usual, and the lettuce had become soggy, but she had the newspaper laid out in front of her, reading up on the latest headlines. This was what she did every day to keep herself from sinking into some miserable hole. The world was in such a sad state. It was easier to feel a detached sort of hurt for something else than to confront the personal turmoil going on inside her.
"I don't get it," she heard the woman from across from her say. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her hair was a frizzy mess. Across from her, there was another woman with thoughtful and remorseful eyes consoling her. A friend, probably. "I don't get it. What makes a man do that? I love him with every bit of my being and-and what does he do? He goes out and fucks his coworker! Sally fucking Benning!"
"He's scum," her friend – a redhead with an overbite – says, shaking her head. The sad woman blew into a napkin. "Absolute fucking scum."
Hermione, meanwhile, found herself attentively watching them, her newspaper absolutely forgotten. She tried to figure out if this was really happening or whether she had stepped into some sort of sick hallucination, maybe a peek into the future.
The redhead noticed Hermione's gawking and glared at her. Hermione stiffened and quickly went back to her paper, but having found that she'd lost her appetite for her bitter tuna melt. Instead she kept thinking of goose eggs. She listened on to their conversation but pretended to read her paper.
"What am I going to do?" the woman asked.
"You're going to be strong," her friend told her, patting her hand. "You're not going to let him see you phased, okay? You're going to kick him out and you're going to sleep around until you're okay."
She compared their situations. It had startling similarities—except for a few things. For one, Harry was definitely not messing around. He was just hopelessly in love with someone else. As far as she knew, there was no sex involved whatsoever. Just emotions.
But that was just it, wasn't it? Which was worse, exactly: having someone fuck, say, Sally Benning who might be attractive and thin just for the sake of fucking, or having someone absolutely and completely in love with someone else that they sunk into temporary lapses of depression? Which was worse: having absolutely no self-control sexually or having absolutely no self-control in loving someone else? This was a question she had been mulling over ever since all of this had started.
The sad fact was that she knew exactly which was worse. The sad fact was that she could have easily walked over to the crying woman with the cheating boyfriend and have patted her back while telling her that things could be worse, he could be madly in love with this Sally fucking Benning. "And," she could have also said, "you could be me. Silent and helpless and absolutely not Sally fucking Benning."
She could pinpoint the moment this had all happened. The trigger for his early morning (and sometimes late evening) walks, the subtle moping he did around their apartment, the way he cringed when he heard her voice on the answering machine whenever she called to make plans. On the very rare occasion they had sex, he would close his eyes. This was an insult all in itself, and she didn't even have to consult any gal pals to know exactly what it meant. He's fucking you, she thought afterwards when he went to the bathroom, but he wants to be fucking her.
It happened two weeks ago, on a Thursday, at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's anniversary dinner. It had been a big bash with guests from all over, a happy and nearly bursting Burrow, and though it was entirely too small of a place to congregate that many people inside of it, nobody seemed to mind. It was a cheerful gathering celebrating love. That's exactly what they said. "It's a cheerful gathering celebrating love. And—whatever you do, don't drink the punch; Fred and George are trying out their most recent invention."
Everybody had brought someone. Ron had brought Luna, the twins had each brought their own gorgeous blondes (both from Sweden and knew only a speck of English), she had Harry, Percy had his wife, Charlie had Fleur, and Ginny had brought Draco Malfoy. She remembered the exact moment she'd seen them enter the overcrowded room, with her skinny little arm latched through his. He stood too primly straight, regarding the room with a sort of muted scowl on his face. And Ginny had looked flushed and pink and happy. Maybe a little too happy. That should have told her something about that night. The way Ginny was bright and glowing and could never stop smiling. She was like a light bulb with legs. She never let go of his arm, either. Everywhere she went, he went. Like a ball and chain. Or a balloon wrapped around a little kid's wrist.
When Ginny had finally gotten around to them after exchanging social niceties with everyone else, Hermione kept her gaze ahead of her. She knew that looking at Harry's face would have been unbearable, in a way, just because the moment she had found out about his little secret it was hard to not read him. She read him too well now and that was the problem. It was a problem. A big one. It was like finding out your purpose in life but to a much smaller spectrum. Once she had found out, she knew the answer to everything, even when she didn't want to.
It was ironic to her because every time she went to a Muggle bookstore, she passed the Relationships section (it was on the way to the Philosophy section). Usually they had a few display books up. Ones titled What is He Thinking? And How to Read Your Man. She realized later on that while some men were closed books and were, thus, the object of many women's frustrations, the case she had on her hands was entirely different. The opposite, actually. Finding out about her boyfriend's wanton feelings for someone else just paved the way for the big bad truck of hurt.
She wondered if someone else out there had written a book for the cure. How to Go Back to Not Being Able to Read Your Man, or How to Live Securely in Denial, or something else cleverly titled yet very blatant. She also couldn't help the thought of those poor women lurking around that section, not wanting to be seen in it, but also itching to get their hands on those books.
"Hermione! Harry!" she crowed. That was Ginny. She crowed. "How are you two?"
Both she and Harry had mixed responses. She said they were doing good, and Harry opted for the word "great."
"How about you?" Hermione asked. She glanced at Draco Malfoy, who was looking at her with a strange expression. She couldn't blame him. He hadn't gotten used to the Burrow (not that he would; she knew him better than that) and was probably a little over stimulated by all of the. . . people. Not to mention the fact that he probably abhorred all of this. It just wasn't his scene. She could tell him exactly what scene he belonged in – the kind with crystal chandeliers and seven course meals with diamonds encrusted in the silverware – and that it was a far, far cry from the scene he was in now.
"How are you doing?" she asked, transferring her glance to Ginny.
"Oh! Just fantastic!" she giggled. "You'll see!" she whispered.
Hermione looked at Draco Malfoy, whose slight frown had disappeared from his stoic face. She wanted to tell him he looked like a fish out of water. A rich boy out of his castle. A Slytherin out of the dungeons. But the fact was that she hadn't talked to him since Hogwarts had let out, not even when Ginny had surprised them all one day by announcing that she was now the girlfriend of Draco Malfoy, most hated Slytherin – human being was more the operative word behind her back – of all time. She feigned slight happiness, but really couldn't feel any more than the pretense, because in reality, nothing had changed. Time turned weak little seeds into large, strong trees, sure, but time was another thing for people than it was for nature. People had willpower. They could withstand change. Maybe not around them, but inside them they could. You could teach a boy to hate but you couldn't unteach it to a hateful man.
She wasn't the only one who felt this way. Harry and Ron had seven grueling months of trying to practice looking at him without contempt and hate. It wasn't easy. But with Ginny's pleading and with the whole seeing her so happy with him jig, Ron was easier to sway with her lightbulb-ness than Harry was. Harry was. . . in short: in pain. He hated Malfoy for all the wrong and right reasons. The right reasons were that Malfoy was a bona fide asshole, he was racist, and he was just a very hateable human being. The wrong reasons were that he hated him because he was with the woman he loved. He had finally gotten what Harry Potter couldn't, and he hated him more than enough just for that.
It shouldn't have been a surprise to her—because in a way, she had seen it coming. Or, at least, she should have seen it coming. There had been something clearly wrong with the picture the moment Ginny and Malfoy had entered the scene, and later on, after everything had happened, she wondered why she couldn't have at least smelled it: the smell of catastrophe wrecking havoc on her life; the odor of fire and burning and rubble and ruins. If the realization had been too vague, too large and monumental for her to possibly comprehend, she should have at least felt it. In her heart. Her heart should have been heavy with it, this yet unrealized realization, waiting to burst out in horrific fireworks and quakes.
When Ginny had gigglingly whispered "You'll see!" to Hermione, she had meant it. Hermione did see. And hear, actually. And so did the fifty-some guests that night. Ginny had stood up with her bright and lovely face and her voice had been so crystal clear that everyone heard it within a good fifty foot radius without missing a beat. That was when, in front of everybody she knew and loved, she made the announcement.
"Draco and I," she said, before taking a large gulp of air, "are getting married!"
And that was when she revealed the diamond ring she had been hiding all this time, tucking it in when she had wrung her arm around his for the entirety of the party.
To be fair, she wasn't the only one who knew how to take this very recent bit of shocking news. Ron had gone so white he was almost purple, and Percy seemed to be the only one who clapped afterwards, along with a flabbergasted Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. The twins were too busy translating the news to their Swedes, and Charlie was trying to get Ron to breathe again. Fleur was dazzled by the mass reflections of light Ginny's new ring gave off. Hermione had been too afraid to look at Harry but did so anyway – maybe out of morbid curiosity or just to prepare herself for what was to possibly come afterwards – and saw everything she would never want to see. She should have braced herself, she figured. The look of utter devastation on his face, then how it flickered to hurt, then complete agony was definitely something she should have readied herself for. Later on, however, she realized that she could've prepped herself for it. . . but it would've proved useless. No matter what you did, no matter what thoughts you thought or what deity you prayed for mercy from, nothing could prepare you from looking at the face of the person you loved after hearing that the person they loved was getting married. It was a sick, twisted thing.
During the scattered applause after the confusion had died out, people running up to Ginny to congratulate her while Malfoy stood in the back, in a cool and unfazed way, Harry turned around and brushed right past her, weaving through the crowd. He was headed for the exit. "I'm going for a walk," he'd lowly muttered.
"What's Swedish for getting married?" Fred asked her, while his blond date blinked in bewilderment at all of the fuss around them.
"And what's Swedish for sister?" asked George.
"Honestly, you two," Charlie said, "what Swedish do you actually know?"
A few minutes later, after having to make her way through the crowd (which was buzzing with the news), she found herself in the Burrow's backyard. She couldn't help but let out a large exhale of air once the cool night air hit her skin, wanting to hold onto something, to grip something with her own two hands. Something stable, something tangible, and mostly – to hold her up if her knees gave away. She wasn't being dramatic. It was just that. . . it was just going to be this much harder to pretend she didn't know what she did, and that it didn't hurt her the least bit.
So she dug into her purse and came up with a pack of cigarettes. She lit one up and felt no guilt about it. Hell, at this point, she needed it. After inhaling and exhaling, she stared at the glowing, orange butt. She flicked it with her fingers, tapping it against the wooden rails, and watched the tiny embers as they flew out into the night, glowing before fizzing out, invisible, dead.
Nobody knew about her habit. Not even Harry had a single damn clue. Usually she only smoked when he went out for one of his long contemplative walks, so she was safe. He had his secret; she had hers. Seemed like a fair trade, right?
She thought about Ginny getting married. The basic idea – without any of the sordid specifics, like the groom or the dress or the details or the holy matrimony. Then she filled in the blanks. Malfoy. She was getting married to Malfoy. It didn't add up. It just didn't. She wondered if it even added up to Ginny. Maybe it didn't, but she was too drunk with the nectar of love or whatever the hell it was they called it, and she was doing this under impaired judgment. And. . . Malfoy? Seriously? Marrying into the Weasley family? Had fate or God or whoever it was in charge of the free fucking world taken a vacation and left them in the hands of a crazy, irresponsible babysitter?
"Potter went that way."
She turned around, startled and nearly tucking her cigarette behind her back as a reflex, but as she squinted in the darkness and saw exactly who it was disrupting her thoughts, she relaxed. Or – relaxed wasn't the word, exactly, but she sure as hell didn't care about hiding her only visible vice in front of him.
She took another big puff. She thought about ignoring him. She thought about sticking her hot cigarette butt right on the sensitive skin of his neck. She also thought about asking him just what the hell he thought he was doing, marrying her best friend's sister – and, most especially, being here, like this.
"Congratulations," she said stiffly, not really meaning it. She couldn't think of anything else to say, besides "I wish you'd burn in Hell, right where you're standing."
"Thanks." He seemed like he didn't really mean this, either. He stood beside her with his hands in his pockets.
"You've come a long way."
She thought she heard a smirk in his voice. "Not really."
What she did then couldn't have ever rested as something bad on her conscience. She threw her cigarette down on his shoe, furiously hoping that it would burn through the leather before he had a chance to kick it away. That was the thing with men like Draco Malfoy. They never changed but always seemed to attract people who held a hope very close to their heart that they did. She called it having a little too much faith in mankind that it turned into a dangerous and mad delusion. Ginny had it. The first time Ginny had announced it and Malfoy hadn't been around, she kept saying he'd changed, like a Buddhist mantra. Oh, but he's changed. He's changed so much. He's so different now.
When she'd come back inside, the sticky heat of the Burrow plastering itself back onto her skin, a lanky arm shot out of the crowd and dragged her to a corner. It was there that an angry red face was waiting for her.
"Married?" Ron yelled at her, though his voice was lost amongst the noisy cacophony of the party. "Married? Ginny's getting married? To Malfoy?"
"I know," she told him. "I was there, too."
"But this wasn't supposed to happen! She wasn't supposed to end up marrying him! She was supposed to date him for however long, you know, to live out whatever sick fantasy she has—and then it was supposed to be over! She wasn't supposed to marry him!" He dug his face into his hands. "This can't be happening. We have seriously been fucked with. I know it."
It played on a sort of painful irony when she got home and there was a message waiting for her in her answering machine. It was Ginny, asking if they could talk. Hermione considered saying No, that they couldn't talk – shouldn't talk, for the sake of what it would do to her mental health and, well, her heart. But Ginny was persistent. And after she hadn't called her back in two days, she sprung for a surprise visit. Good thing Harry had gone out for another one of his walks.
"What's the matter with you? You haven't called me back." Ginny didn't bother to take off her coat and just walked in with a bottle of champagne in her hand. "Is something the matter, Hermione?"
She fed her the "Oh, I've just been busy" excuse, adding on an extra arm of "problems at work, a lot of relocating and employee-employer conflict" and Ginny, who had never been one for office drama anyway, just nodded and accepted it. That was what Hermione could count on her for. Accepting very untrue things. As a matter of fact, things at work were going swimmingly. With exception of the crying woman with the cheating boyfriend, she had recently been put up for a promotion and a pay raise. Not that anyone really knew about her recent success. She'd had half a heart to mention it to Harry lately, and when she had finally brought it up – in a futile effort just to boost his spirits, however pathetic and lame the result would be – he'd seemed to just give her a thumbs-up and a weak hearted "Good job."
"Anyway," she said, brushing her silky strawberry hair behind her shoulder, "I have something really important to talk to you about. That's why I've been calling."
Turned out, she wanted Hermione to plan her wedding – or, at least, help out with planning the wedding. Because Ginny's interior designing firm had just landed a huge account and needed her working almost 24-7, which meant her not being able to handle most of the wedding things personally.
"That's why, Hermione," she said, "I choose you. I trust you. You're organized, and you're smart, and very strong willed. Of course, I'll be paying you. It's just – I know what you're thinking, but I want to get married this year, and yeah, I could just pass on the account to someone else. . . but I just can't, you know? These are just two things that I want to happen, really badly." Then she smiled. A real beatific smile. "I guess when it rains, it pours, right?"
She talked on about the details, the semantics, and whatever tasks she would have to do, but all she could think about was why? Why her? Obviously Ginny had already provided the answer to her pulsating question, but she could think of plenty of other of Ginny's friends that would happily do it for her.
She thought about what it would do to Harry. But once she thought that, she wished she hadn't thought it at all.
"So how about it?" She asked this in a large exhale of air. Obviously Ginny had come expecting a Yes, seeing as how she'd brought a bottle of some very expensive champagne. And to think of it, Hermione really didn't have any reason to say No – besides, of course, Harry's agony about Ginny's upcoming nuptials. But as she thought about it some more. . . it couldn't hurt, spending time away from here. Away from Harry's silent yet very blatant sulking. Away from the secret that always ate away at the disintegrating shell of her throat. Why not? It would be a good distraction. She would hate it, but maybe it was what she needed.
It would hurt, she thought to herself, but it couldn't hurt as much as it did being here.
"Sure," Hermione sighed, forcing a smile. "Why the hell not? I'll help you plan your wedding, Ginny."
Ginny, squealing with joy, popped open the champagne, and as it shot out of the bottle, fizzing, Harry walked through the door. He looked into the kitchen – at the woman he was supposed to love and the woman he actually did love. Hermione gulped down a stone that wasn't supposed to be there. She weakly smiled at him, but his eyes were on Ginny, who was giggling, her hair soaked with alcohol.
"Harry!" she said. "You've got a good woman, you know that? She just agreed to plan my wedding. Never let her go, do you hear me? Never."
So the wedding was being planned. In bits and pieces, and certainly very slowly, but being planned, it was. And Hermione was right – it was a distraction. But she couldn't deny that there were times that it hurt. Like the time Ginny had asked her to come along to the wedding dress fitting and, under wedding planner obligation and also under the obligation as one of her woman friends, she went along. Sitting there in the waiting room, staring at the platform where Ginny would stand to show off her white dress, with the tall mirrors surrounding it so that she could inspect herself from each and every angle. . . the cushion she was sitting on seemed to grow needles. There were mirrors everywhere. She remembered the saying that bride-to-be's were one of the most beautiful things in the world, next to pregnant women. Something about the glow of life and exhilaration radiating from their skin. Frankly, it sounded a lot like bullshit to her, but it was a common phrase, so her argument was hers and only hers.
Also, she'd had a pregnant coworker once, and another one of their friends had happened to mention that she looked beautiful pregnant. To his face she said "Thanks," but after he had left, she had turned right around and said, "Beautiful? I don't fucking feel beautiful. He should try gaining twenty fucking pounds and then try telling me if that feels beautiful."
As she waited, there were several women trying on their own dresses. Poofy ones with monumental trains, ones with lace, ones with rhinestones. They went up to the folding mirrors and looked at themselves. Strange as it was to say, Hermione had never seen women so in love with themselves as when they were wearing wedding dresses. They drooled all over themselves. Ran their hands over the fabric, traced their silhouettes, and stared at their reflections. Sometimes for twenty minutes at a time.
When Ginny came out, people stared. It was silly to say, but it was true. Other wedding dress advisers came by to gawk and compliment her, and Ginny turned in the mirror, beaming, with her reflection beaming right back at her. Hermione shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
"What do you think?" Ginny asked her. Her eyes were glazed over. She could have told her it looked horrible and it wouldn't have mattered.
"It looks great," she said, nodding. "Beautiful. They'll cry their hearts out."
"Do you think Draco will like it?"
"Men," Hermione said, "don't care about wedding dresses. If they did, they would be the ones to pick it out. If churches didn't frown on nude weddings, you could guess where we'd all be by now."
"Don't be silly, Hermione," she told her. "What about you? How do you picture your dream wedding dress?" She twirled.
She blinked. "I don't know," she answered. "It'd be. . . well, for starters, a dress."
"Oh, come on! Specifics, Hermione. Don't tell me you haven't thought of them? Mermaid, princess, traditional, halter, sweetheart. . .?"
She wanted to tell Ginny that she didn't have specifics. Maybe she'd had them, once upon a time, during a time when the fruits of youth had been ripe for picking and she still believed that Barbie and Ken were the perfect couple – but for the moment the specifics were lost on her. They were out there. Somewhere. Floating around where the good parts of her relationship had disappeared off to, along with missing socks and pens. For the moment, she wanted to tell her, I am too busy trying not to worry about my relationship to wonder whether I want a sweetheart dress or even the option of a traditional veil. She didn't want to inflict further pain on herself by entertaining thoughts of her own wedding, which now seemed a million years away.
The present was more of a problem than her future wedding dress.
"I honestly don't have a clue, Gin."
She frowned. "Oh. Well. You'll know, Hermione. You'll know it when the time comes. The perfect dress is out there waiting for you."
And then she told her that was great. That was exactly what she wanted.
She was. But she hadn't expected anyone to care, most especially him – most especially since they were just going to pick the wedding china, one of those most menial duties of being her wedding planner. She was surprised he even showed up, much less the fact that he had been waiting for her, with a glass of bourbon in his hand. The strange thing about Malfoy was that she always saw him with some alcoholic beverage in his hand and yet was never drunk.
She was honestly a little startled. "I wasn't expecting—"
"What?" he drawled, jingling the ice in his glass. "That I wouldn't care about picking out the china for my own wedding?"
"Well." She thought about it for a second. "Yeah."
"I couldn't just let you pick out everything, could I? For all I know, you could have chosen plates with the words FUCK YOU across them."
She rolled her eyes, even though it had been a very appealing notion. "Because that's what everyone looks at during a wedding. The plates."
Not like they had plates like that in the first place. Right?
He stood up. "You, obviously," he said, stuffily, "have never been to a Malfoy wedding. And," he said, adding on a second thought, as if reading her mind, "no, they do not, in fact, make plates such as the ones I mentioned."
Hermione had never picked plates before, nor had she been surrounded by so many plates. It reminded her of when she was little and she would wander into the more fragile section of department stores and her mom would tightly grab her by the hand and tell her to be careful. This stayed with her even after her childhood clumsiness faded. This fear to touch delicate things in case they would break, or the fact that she could possibly misconceive them to be less fragile than they actually were.
"What do you think about these?" He was pointing to a set. Classy, but simple. It had a simple leaf border around the edges.
"I think they're plates," she said dryly. Not that she meant to be a pain, but picking plates would have probably taken ten minutes, tops, for her – which included the picking and the ordering. She would have picked the first decent ones she'd found.
"Details, Granger," he said to her. "Don't think that just because it's a minor detail it shouldn't matter. Think about Potter and his scar. Minor detail, yet the ugliness of it still astounds the public within a twenty foot radius."
She ignored him. She should've known he'd show his true colors when they were alone. She wondered if he acted this way around Ginny, bashing all of her friends and her family. Again, this brought up the question of why she was marrying this stupid fuck in the first place.
She took a look around them. They were the only two people here, besides the old lady dozing behind the counter. They were surrounded by glass display cases, lit up to show every detail of the plates behind them.
She took a look at the price tag. "Jesus Christ! Is that just for a regular set?"
He nodded. "It's good, but not great. Let's look at their vintage plates."
As he inspected the plates with a seriousness that she honestly found ridiculous, she seriously pondered asking him exactly why he was doing this. Picking plates. And why it mattered. And also, the bigger picture: why he was marrying Ginny. As far as she could tell, he didn't treat her any more special than he did anyone else. Every time she saw them together he wasn't any. . . different. And wasn't love, more than anything else, supposed to change someone?
"You know," she remembered Luna telling her, after she and Ron had just fought. He'd pleaded for Hermione to head over to Luna's flat to see if she could mediate between the two. "You know that love really isn't what they say it is, right? In the books? In the fairytales? Nobody comes and rescues you from your tower. Nobody fights off a big bad witch or even slays a fucking dragon. The problem is that everyone does what they can to make a show of it, to make love extravagant, like it's a show that everyone has to watch. Why can't love be. . . hidden? A secret? Since when did love have to be shouted from every corner of the room? And if they can't see love, why do they have to doubt it – assume it isn't there?
"It's because people have over heightened expectations. And – it's not their fault, either. It's nobody's fault. It's just that sometimes, it's gets to be a little too much. That's not what love is about. It's not about declarations and making sure everyone knows what's yours."
Luna had been particularly incensed that day, and Hermione hadn't known why, either. She and Ron fought about big things, little things – just things, regularly.
"Then what," asked Hermione, "is it about?"
"I don't know. That's the truth, too. I have no fucking clue what love is about, but all I know is that it's not about that. And sometimes that's all you need, you know? Nobody has a clear definition of what life is, and yet here we are, living. You just have to know what it isn't about. The rest is okay not being known."
Draco cleared his throat. When he caught her attention, he had one of his eyebrows arched.
"I'm sorry," he said dryly. "Am I boring you?"
She sighed. "They're plates," she snapped. "I'm a good planner, Malfoy, but plates are the least of my problems."
"Yes, from the looks of it, your hair still remains a crime against humanity," he mused. "Take a look at these." He pointed towards a set in the glass. "Vintage. Toughened porcelain, but still smooth."
She looked, albeit begrudgingly. She didn't know what the plate standards were, but she thought they were okay.
"They're your china," she told him, stepping back, a little miffed. "I guess I was just here for supervision." She looked at her watch. It took her an extra thirty minutes, too.
Malfoy headed over to the counter to make the order. She heard indistinct conversation behind her, and she continued to look at his selection. He went through a lot of trouble for plates.
"I don't get it," she said to him, later on. She didn't want to get too comfortable with him – obviously that was her last wish – but she was bewildered by his rapt attention to detail. As in: plates. "What's with the plates, Malfoy?"
They were out of the plate store now, and he'd given her the order receipt. She'd folded it up and placed it in her pocket, in a sorely civilized manner.
"I don't know if you've heard," he said to her in his usual arrogant tone, "but wedding china is fairly important in some cultures."
"Yeah, but what's it to you whether they're vintage or not?"
That was when he looked at her, and she couldn't exactly decipher his expression. His brow was furrowed but there was little else distinct about it. He had his hands in his pockets again.
"I don't expect you to understand."
"Fine." So she won't understand. Not like her life would stop just because she didn't understand why plates were such a big deal to him.
They walked along in silence, passing a few people, all bundled up in warm clothing. It was a damp morning. And as they walked it suddenly occurred to her that this was unnecessary. Walking with him. Their destinations were, probably, in completely different directions.
"My parents had plates," he suddenly said, just as she had made up her mind to leave. "But they were all ruined."
She gave a slight nod. So it was all for sentimentality. And here she'd thought, all this time, that he didn't even know the definition of the word, let alone the word itself. "Oh."
Then it felt weird. Walking along, with his history brought up. The sentimentality had changed the way the air felt, a little. It made it a little denser. And that was the best cue she could take to head separate ways. Before things got any weirder.
A/N: Drop me a line, guys! Tell me what you thought.