Disclaimer: all characters belong to JKR and Warner Brothers and I make no monetary gain by using them in my stories
Summary: Everyone deserves a second chance. Hermione was no exception. However, she never imagined in a million years that her second chance would come by way of Draco Malfoy, or that she would be giving him his own second chance. Happiness was something earned, not deserved, as they would both discover together.
Romance, Mystery, General.
A Second Chance
Anne M Oliver
Chapter 1: Statues and Fires:
"Wake up, Hermione."
'Oh my gosh,' she thought. She rolled over in bed and then sat up and stretched. She had a horrid night. She tossed, turned, and barely slept, and when she did finally sleep, all she did was dream of him. This was a mistake. She was running away from her problems, and that wasn't like her. She usually faced them head on, instead of running away.
There was a knock on her door. She scrambled from bed and outside was Ginny Weasley. "Aren't you dressed yet?" the girl asked.
Hermione looked down at her nightgown and said, "Apparently not." She said, "Give me twenty minutes." Hermione knew twenty minutes would turn to a half an hour, but still she hurried to shower and dress. When she got to the bottom of the stairs at the inn, she saw Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood waiting for her.
She joined her friends and said, "Do I have to go?" She knew she sounded like a five year old. She even whined a bit. Ginny gave her a death glare that would rival Mrs. Weasley, and Luna merely smiled.
Ginny took her arm and said, "This holiday is for you, Hermione! It's to make you forget all about Mark! We're your advocates here, not your enemies. If you would rather stay in bed all day and wallow in despair, go around saying, 'woe is me,' then go right back upstairs."
Hermione smiled for the first time in two weeks, threw up her hand, and said, "Fine, let's get this bloody holiday started!"
They hired a car to take them to their destination. They were staying in a magical community called North Devonshire. There were all sorts of sights for them to see, old ruins, grand estates, and one of the largest Wizarding libraries in the world. There were shops, cafes, and even the seaside. It would be heaven if she were with the one she was supposed to be with, instead of being Ginny and Luna.
When she planned this little trip, she was still with Mark. They were to come here together. Then 'it' happened, and her life changed drastically and permanently, and she was left to pick up the pieces by herself. Well, not by herself. Her friends were there for her. The problem was that none of her friends even knew about Mark until after they broke up. She never told a soul, not even her mum and dad.
It wasn't that she was ashamed of falling in love with a Muggle. She wasn't. It wasn't as if they wouldn't have accepted him, because they would have. It wasn't because he didn't know about her magic (because he didn't). She was sure he would have accepted that as well.
The problem was that he was married.
No, the real problem was that she didn't know that he was married until the day they broke up. God help her.
She didn't know that important detail about his life until a day last week when they met in their usual café, ordered their usual lunch, and she showed him the brochures for their holiday. She purposely picked North Devonshire because it was a magical community. She was finally going to open up to him and tell him the truth. They had been seeing each other for six months, and she felt it was time. She hated lying to him, and hiding him from her friends. Little did she know that he was the bigger liar of the two of them. Little did she know that he was hiding their relationship as well.
They began to eat, she showed him the brochures, and suddenly, he took her hand and said, "Hermione, I have something important to tell you, and I don't know where to begin."
She smiled at him, almost apologetically, and said, "You know you can tell me anything. I love you."
Then he proceeded to tell her that he was married, and that his wife was twelve weeks pregnant! He was breaking up with her! He lied and he was sorry. Well, not as sorry as he would have been if she weren't in a Muggle café! The urge to hex him was so strong that she had to leave immediately, or she would have probably been arrested! She ran back home, and cried for two days.
She didn't cry so much because she lost the love of her life. He wasn't it. She didn't cry so much because he broke her heart. He didn't. She cried because she felt embarrassed, ashamed, and foolish for not knowing anything about the man whom she supposedly loved. Hermione hated feeling foolish.
Her friends knew something was wrong, but once again, she kept it all in. She told no one. She merely told Harry and the others that she had been dating a man named Mark and that they broke up and that she was in a funk and needed to have a holiday. He suggested she take Luna and Ginny. Now, here they were.
They pulled up to the massive estate, and Luna, who was in the front seat with the driver, leaned back and said, "This is Carrington House. It was once the summer home of an old wizarding family called Carrington. The house is reported to have one of the largest collections of paintings, both Wizarding and Muggle, in Southern England." She turned back around as they drove up the massive drive. Hermione looked out the window at the sprawling estate, the beautiful grounds, and she only wished for one thing. She wished she were back in bed at the inn.
They walked through the grand hall with all the other tourists, being guided by a haughty looking, and rail-thin man of about 100 years old. He droned on and on about this artifact, and that artifact, and this suit of amour, and that tapestry. They walked from one room to the other, until they finally ended up in the art gallery on the second floor, and all Hermione could think was, 'this is the best the art collection in the Wizarding world?' As the crowd passed through the gallery, to head toward the rest of the second floor, Hermione took her leave.
She walked back down the long warren of hallways and stairwells until she found the grand hall. She walked out of the massive grounds and back down the drive. She had no destination, so she just sauntered. She walked off the drive, toward the eastern part of the grounds. She saw a little garden. Certain that the gardens would be part of the tour, and she would meet back with her friends, she wandered down toward the flowers, shrubs, and foliage, and sought refuge in their folds.
She walked along the paths, stopping occasionally to smell a flower, or examine a bush. She found a stone statue and she walked up to it. She put her hand on the stomach of the male nude, and looked up at the face. For some odd reason, the face looked familiar. The statue was much taller than she was, so she stood on tiptoes, leaned forward, and looked at the white marble face closer. That was when the unthinkable happened. The statue tipped, and Hermione yelped, and then without warning, it fell over backwards, and broke in three pieces, with the head went rolling down the garden path.
She winced and placed her hands over her mouth. That was when she heard, "What the bloody hell have you done?"
She turned toward the masculine voice and saw a man running toward her. He had a cigarette in his hand and as he ran, he flicked it toward the shrubbery. She walked over to the head, and leaned down to examine it closer.
He leaned down beside her and said, "If you didn't like the statue, Granger, you could have just walked away. You didn't have to behead the poor fellow."
She looked up from her crouched position at the mention of her name, into the slate grey eyes of none other than Draco Malfoy.
She stood up and said, "I didn't do it, Malfoy. I mean, I leaned on it, to get a closer look, but I didn't push it."
He smirked and said, "You leaned on it? Are you that much in need of a male body that you had to lean on a statue?"
"I was just, oh, shut up and help me fix it before someone finds out," she said.
She took out her wand and levitated the head, as Draco levitated the body. They placed the pieces back together and when they were in place, she used a spell to bind them, however there were still cracks in the marble.
She ran a finger along one crack, right in the middle of the statue's well-toned abdomen, and said, "Do you think anyone will notice?"
"Yes, and I think you're in trouble," he said laughing.
"In trouble?" she asked.
"That statue's centuries old! It's worth tons of galleons! They'll probably expect you to replace it!" he said. "Why are you here, anyway?"
"Oh, I'm on the stupid tour," she said, walking around the statue, still looking at it, with a disconcerting look on her face.
"Stupid tour?" Draco asked.
"Yes, the tour is stupid," she said, leaning toward the side of the statue to look at Draco. Her hands were on the statue's hips.
Draco looked at her hands, laughed, and said, "Now you're trying to assault it from behind." She let go of the statue but had to laugh. He asked, "Why is the tour stupid?"
"Well, it's boring, it's being led by a man who's apparently older than dirt, and who only tells everyone things that no one cares about, and then the brochure claims this house has the best art collection in the world, apparently, and when we go to the measly art gallery, there's only like fifty painting in there. They should do it all differently. At least these gardens are nice," she said, as she walked toward another rosebush. She leaned down to smell.
He admired her from behind. He hadn't seen Hermione Granger for perhaps years. He saw her at some restaurant years ago, with Potter and Weasley, and he saw her at a picnic a while back. Before that, he last saw her at school. She was always pretty, but he now thought she was breathtaking, and he didn't notice a ring on her finger. Strange.
He picked one of the yellow rosebuds from its stem and handed it to her. She said, "Now you'll probably be in trouble, for picking a rose." She brought the rose up to her nose and then twirled it in her fingers.
He said, "The tour doesn't come out to the gardens."
"It doesn't?" she asked. He shook his head no. She said, "See, this is a wasted trip and a stupid tour. These gardens are magnificent, and the tour should end here. If I ran this place, I would do it all differently. Someone should tell the owners."
"Yes they should," he said with a small knowing smile. He took the rose from her fingers and placed it in her hair. He didn't smile when he did it. He almost looked pensive. She reached up to remove the flower, but he said, "Leave it," so she did.
She pointed over his shoulder and said, "I might have knocked a statue over, but you are the one they'll blame if the whole place goes up in smoke."
He turned to where she pointed and saw that a small fire had started where he threw his cigarette. He ran to the small patch of dry grass and started to stamp on the fire with his foot. Then he used his wand to finish putting out the embers. She said, "Look, you singed your pants. Did you burn yourself?" She leaned down, her hand on his arm, to look closer at his pant leg. The feel of her hand on his arm left his skin tingling. He didn't burn his leg, but he was sure his arm was on fire, and the fact that it was Hermione Granger to cause this fire shook him to his core. He looked down at her curly head and felt confused.
It had been such a long time since Draco Malfoy had any kind of stirrings for a woman, and the last time he felt such a stirring was for the exact same woman, at the aforementioned picnic! This was Hermione 'effing' Granger for goodness sakes. He put his hand on her shoulder and lifted her up. "I'm fine. Let go of me." He said it more curtly than he meant to.
She noticed her hand on his arm, and assuming that the old blood prejudice between them remained she removed it quickly and said, "My apologies. I didn't mean to touch you." She felt her throat close up, and dizziness set in. She felt embarrassed at her forwardness. She turned to leave and over her shoulder she said, "Really, I'm sorry, Malfoy." She started to run up the path, leaving Draco behind.
She didn't know why he acted so strangely just because she had touched him. If her memory served her right, she touched him at a picnic at Theo Nott's house a while ago, and he didn't seem to mind it then.
He felt horrible for being so short with her. She thought he didn't want her to touch him, but it wasn't that. He felt excited at her touch, not disgusted. He ran to catch up to her and he called out her name. He said, "Hermione!" not Granger.
She turned at the mouth of the garden, having just reached the path that would lead back to the grounds of the house. She said, "What?"
"Are you here alone?" he asked. "I mean, in the village? Why are you here again?" He knew he was rambling. He needed to make sure she wasn't here with a husband or a boyfriend. Just because she didn't have a ring on her finger didn't mean she wasn't attached.
"I'm on holiday with my friends, and then after they leave, I'm taking over a cottage that once belonged to Ron's aunt," she said. She just decided that last part. Ron's father offered her use of the cottage for as long as she wanted it. It was right here in the village. She wasn't planning to take the cottage until that very moment. She needed a change. She needed to start over. She would contact her boss at the Ministry tomorrow and tell him that she was taking a sabbatical. Surely, he would understand, but if he didn't, and he fired her, so be it. She could find another job. What she needed right now was a rest, and some peace of mind, and she felt she could get both of them here.
"Where is this cottage?" Draco asked.
"Barlow's cottage, on the outskirts of the village. It belonged to Mr. Weasley's aunt. I haven't even seen it yet," she explained.
He smiled. She was going to be close by. He knew exactly where the cottage was located. He was happy for that. He said, "I'm staying in the village right now, as well."
"Really?" she said. He thought she sounded pleased.
He said, "Well, perhaps I'll see you around."
"Certainly," she answered. "Don't catch anything else on fire while you're here."
"Don't rape anymore statues," he answered back.
"We should go join the tour again, I suppose," she said.
"I think I'll stay out here by myself. It is a stupid tour, or so I've heard," he said, smiling.
"And I think I'll go find my friends and tell them that I'm going back to the inn. It was nice to see you again, Malfoy." She started back up the path. He didn't want to let her go for some reason, and that worried him a bit. He didn't want to start anything with Granger, did he? She didn't seem like a holiday fling type of girl, and he wasn't up to more, surely. Not after the relationship he had just left. However, seeing her again made him realize something. Life was too short for regrets. He realized something else. He had let her go too easily before, after that picnic at Theo's house, and he didn't want to make the same mistake twice.
He ran up to her again and caught her arm. He swung her around. She looked at his hand on her elbow. She said, "Why can you touch me and I can't touch you?" She had a slight smile on her face, to show that she wasn't angry.
That was good, because he really didn't want to start an argument, nor did he want to let go. He smiled and said, "Oh, you can touch me all you want, Granger." He smiled wider and she blushed. The sun was bright and the light played on her chestnut hair and her brown eyes, their golden rims and green flecks, sparkled. He said, "You aren't married or anything of the sort, are you?"
Goodness that was refreshing! That was the very first thing she should have asked Mark! She said, "No, are you?"
Not anymore, he thought. He said, "Incredibly single. Would you like to meet me at a pub tonight? Have some spirits and laughs?"
Hermione noticed that his hand was still on her arm. She noticed how tall he was. She noticed how handsome he had become. She noticed…him! She had a crush on Draco Malfoy! She was here to mend a broken heart/pride, and she instead was having fleeting, flirtatious feelings for Draco Malfoy, pureblood extraordinaire!
He let go of her arm, and his smile began to fade. The reason was that she was taking so long to answer. She covered for her blunder by saying, "Sure, how about a little pub I saw called The Blue Angel? About seven?"
His smile returned and he said, "Seven o'clock it is." Hermione turned from him again, waved her hand at him, and finished her trek back up to the house. When she reached the house, and turned around, she still saw him in the distance. She raised her hand once more, and saw him raise his. She smiled and went back to join her friends.
She started this little holiday to with one intention and now, she had a new intent, and she wasn't certain if it was a good thing, or a bad thing, but she knew one thing for sure…he wasn't married!
(Coming up: Misunderstandings and Moonlight)