Draco Malfoy was standing there with his wife and son, a dark coat buttoned up to his throat. His hair was receding somewhat, which emphasized the pointed chin. The new boy resembled Draco as much as Albus resembled Harry. Draco caught sight of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny staring at him, nodded curtly, and turned away again.
'So that's little Scorpius,' said Ron under his breath. 'Make sure you beat him in every test, Rosie. Thank God you inherited your mother's brains.'
'Ron, for heaven's sake," said Hermione. 'Don't try to turn them against each other before they've even started school!'
He started to reply, but Hermione heard no more of the conversation. She looked at the ground, trying not to stare at the tall, blond man across the station. It had been nineteen years, nineteen years since she had seen him, and even longer since they had been alone, had touched, had kissed. More than half a lifetime.
Hermione tore her mind from the past to bid her daughter farewell, tried to smile as she waved goodbye with Harry and Ginny. And Ron. Her husband.
Draco didn't look at them again. He waved his son off, waiting until the train was out of sight, and then turned to his wife, who was chattering with another mother. They exchanged a few words, and then he turned and strode away, his long dark coat flowing behind him. He didn't want to stay any longer than necessary.
Was it because of her? Had her presence shocked and jarred her, just as his had done to her? She hadn't known how old his son was, hadn't known that he would be here today—although a tiny, treacherous part of her, an almost subconscious part that she had been trying to crush for twenty years, had half-hoped that he would be.
She couldn't talk to him. It was out of the question. But she had to. There was too much left unsaid between them, too much left undone.
'I'll be back in a minute,' she said to Harry, unable to look at her husband, and turned and strode off, quickly. Would he be gone? Would she be able to catch him?
And then she saw him, just a few paces from the gate, his back to her, his head lowered.
'Draco,' she called, her voice soft, far too soft, even she could hardly hear it...but he did hear it, and he stopped, still and stiff and silent. What would he do? Would he ignore her, keep going, refuse to acknowledge what had happened between them?
Finally, he moved. He didn't turn around, didn't look back at her, but turned and walked a little to the left, behind a shed that stood nearby.
And the tension flowed out of Hermione's body, and she swayed, both with fear and relief; he wouldn't ignore her, wouldn't ignore them. They would meet, would talk, hidden, in secret, as they always had.
Her wedding band twisting between her fingers, she slowly walked towards him.
For a long moment they stared at each other. He had grown older; up close, she could see the thin lines around his eyes, see how his hair had thinned, see how tired he looked. But even so, even nineteen years later, he still looked like the fallen angel he had seemed to her in school—the fallen angel she had fallen for.
'Hermione,' he said at last, and his voice washed over her, through her, into her. 'I trust you've been well?'
'Yes,' she replied, awkwardly, uncomfortably. 'I was just bringing my daughter, Rose, to go to school. It's her first year.'
'It's my son, Scorpius's, first year, too,' he answered stiffly. There was silence for a long moment. 'What do you want, Hermione?' he finally asked. 'Why did you come after me? Why did you talk to me?' His face was tight, his eyes hard and cold.
'I—I guess I just wanted...closure...' she stuttered, her own eyes on the ground. When she looked up he was sneering at her, that expression she had seen so many times in her youth, that expression that had made her hate him, before she loved him.
'Closure?' he repeated. 'You wanted closure?'' he was shaking in anger, his fists clenched, but his voice was steady. 'It's been twenty years, Hermione. Twenty bloody years. You didn't want closure enough to talk to me before you dropped out of school, or to come see me after the battle, or to write me one fucking letter. You made your choice, Hermione.'
'I made my choice?' she replied, seething. 'You let death eaters into the school to slaughter the students and kill Dumbledore. You supported the most evil wizard of all time! If you had won, I would have been imprisoned or killed, or have you forgotten that I'm a mudblood? You tried to kill my best friend. No, Draco, don't you dare put this on me. You're the one who chose not to contact me, not the other way around.'
'I was on trial!' he answered, practically yelled, taking an angry step towards her, his knuckles white in his clenched fists. 'I was on trial because of the charges your friend lay against me, even though I was a child soldier. And by the time I was cleared you were engaged.'
'What did you expect me to do?' she cried, her voice rising far higher than usual, stepping forward too, too close, closer than she'd been to him in so long. 'Break you out of prison? Even then, we hadn't spoken in a year, and we'd fought in a war to the death since we had. And you'd sat by and let your father torture me!'
Draco's face was ashen as he replied.
'I tried to stop them,' he said, his voice suddenly weak, almost a whisper. 'I didn't...'
'You didn't try hard enough,' she told him, 'so don't say that I'm the one who made my choice.'
'You're the one who got married,' he snapped, his anger returning in full force. 'You couldn't have waited a couple of months, to give us closure back then, back when we needed it.'
'You got married, too.'
'After you did! I waited, waited to see what you would do, but you didn't come see me, you didn't contact me, you didn't write me. You married him. You married Ronald Weasley.'
For a long moment they stared at one another, held each others' gazes, in silence.
'Do you love him?' Draco finally asked, his voice toneless.
'Do you love him? Answer me!' he added, almost yelled, when she hesitated.
'Yes,' she cried, 'yes, of course I love him.'
'But not the way you loved me,' Draco answered. She didn't respond. 'Hermione?' he said, his voice gentle now, pleading, wanting her to confirm his words. 'They say your life is going very well,' he went on, softly, 'they say you sparkle like a different girl. But something tells me that you hide, when all the world is warm and tired, you cry a little in the dark.' He paused, his blue-grey eyes unfathomable, his face a mask of sorrow. 'Well so do I,' he whispered, and Hermione felt her heart breaking.
'I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to say,' he went on, 'but I can see it's not okay. He makes you laugh, he brings you out in style, he treats you well and makes you up real fine. And when he's strong he's strong for you and when you kiss it's something new...but did you ever call my name, just by mistake?'
Once again, there was silence, the air between them thick with emotion. For nineteen years Hermione had been telling herself that Ron was the person she wanted to be with, trying to convince herself, trying to forget the memory of stolen kisses and secret glances and a love that had to remain hidden if it was to exist at all.
'Why did you marry him?' Draco asked suddenly, his voice low, his eyes dark, and Hermione said the words that she'd been feeling for so many years but always suppressed, the words she hadn't told a soul.
'I didn't want to,' she whispered. 'We started dating after the battle, and before long I realized that though I love him as a friend, a companion, a brother...it was nothing more than that. But he loved me, Draco, he really, truly loved me, in every way, and I couldn't break up with him without hurting him too badly. It would have destroyed our friendship, and driven a wedge between me and Harry, too.'
'I see,' Draco answered, his face transforming, 'and of course you couldn't risk your friendship with perfect, precious, famous Potter.' But Hermione ignored him.
'I put off marrying him, but there came a point when it seemed...meaningless. I knew that I wasn't going to meet anyone who I did want to be with, so...so why not be with someone I did love, even if I didn't love him in the right way? Someone I could be happy with. It would be better than being alone.'
She could see the emotion warring behind his eyes, and held his gaze, wondering what he saw in hers.
'And are you?' he asked, his voice thick. 'Are you happy?'
'Yes,' she answered. 'It's easy to be happy. I have friends, I have two beautiful, wonderful children, I have a husband who loves me. That's what I think about, what I focus on. After all, happiness is just a lack of sadness, isn't it? If you don't let yourself be sad, then you're happy.'
'That's ridiculous,' Draco whispered. 'Sadness is a lack of happiness, not the other way around. Hermione,' he said, tentatively, lifting a hand towards her, though he didn't touch her, 'let's try again.'
'What do you mean?'
'Divorce him. We still have a chance, we can still be together...'
For a moment, a world of possibility opened in Hermione's mind, dreams that she had long since forgotten sprung suddenly back to life in a burst of hopeful colour, but then she shook her head.
'I can't, Draco. For the same reason I couldn't sixteen years ago: it would hurt him too much, and it'll tear us apart. Remember that I do love him.'
'No it won't,' Draco countered. 'You have children now, you'll still have to be in contact. Your kids are also friends with...with Potter's kids, aren't they? So you'll still have him, too. Hermione,' he said desperately, and now he did touch her, he took her face in his hands and she swayed at the emotions that swept through her at his touch, 'we can do this. We can be together, we can be happy.'
'You don't understand,' Hermione whispered. 'I...I can't leave him. He'll hate me, Draco. And he...he has a bad temper.' Unconsciously, Hermione lifted a hand to rub her collar bone, her eyes begging him to understand.
Draco watched her, hope still brewing in the depths of his beautiful eyes, but fading at her words, to be replaced by shock and horror. Dropping his hand from her cheek, he pushed her fingers away and gripped the collar of her shirt.'
'Don't—!' she began, but it was too late, and he pulled the fabric aside to reveal a swelling purple bruise that spread across her shoulders and to the base of her neck. They both stood frozen, faces white, until finally Hermione pushed his hand away and pulled her shirt back up to hide the mark.
But he wasn't listening to her. Pale with fury, he pulled his wand from his belt and turned, beginning to move towards the other end of the platform, where her family was standing.
'Wait,' she cried, running after him, grabbing his arm just before he rounded the shed. 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean for you to see that.'
'Did you just apologize?' Draco asked, spinning about and trapping her hand between both of his. 'You're not the one who should be sorry. Are you going to file charges?'
'No, of course not, but this isn't what it looks like,' she protested.
'Did he or did he not do that do you?'
'He did, but I told you, he has a temper problem. He always has, even when we were in school he would get angry so easily. He's in anger management now, though, and—'
'That's no excuse, Hermione. Now either leave him and file charges...or let me kill him.'
'No,' Hermione gasped, 'no, you can't. Please, don't.' She felt her world beginning to spin out of control, felt all of the emotions she'd suppressed for both Ron and Draco come pouring out of the iron box she'd locked them in. Swooning, she almost fell, but Draco put his arms around her and held her to his chest, supporting her. He was taller, now, than he had been last time they'd met, his shoulders broader, no trace remaining of the slender boy he had been, and she mourned the time they had lost, the changes she had not seen.
'Come away with me,' he whispered, his lips pressed to her hair. 'No need to tell him; let's just leave, and start again.'
'I have children, Draco,' she answered, 'and so do you.'
'We'll take them with us. We can do this, Hermione, we can leave our lives behind, we can be happy.' She hesitated for a long moment, for the first time in so long feeling safe and whole in his arms. 'Please, Hermione,' he murmured. 'I care for no one else but you...I'd tear my soul to cease the pain...'
'Yes, Draco,' she finally answered, 'yes, that's what you have to do: tear you soul apart. That's what I've done. I tore away the part of my heart that belongs to you and locked it away.' Gently, sadly, she brought a hand to his face. 'I can't come away with you, Draco. I want to...but I don't even know you anymore. I have a life, a life that is, if not happy, at least bearable.'
'Life should be more than that,' he whispered. 'You deserve more than that.'
'Maybe. But that doesn't matter now. I can't uproot my children, I can't hurt my husband like that, I can't abandon my friends, my job, my life.'
With a trembling hand, Draco pressed her palm to his cheek; his eyes closed for a moment, and when they opened again they swam with tears.
'I need you, Hermione,' he told her. 'I need to see you, just to be around you. If we can't leave together, then let's at least see each other, let's not forget...'
'We will see each other, Draco,' she told him, her eyes soft with sorrow. 'Twice a year, we'll see each other here, at King's Cross Station, as our children come and go from school.'
'That isn't enough,' Hermione,' he pleaded, and she caressed his beloved face a moment longer before pulling her hand away.
'I know it isn't,' she whispered, 'but it's all we can have.'
She held his eye for one last, sad moment, trying to pour all her love and regret into her gaze, to show him how she truly felt, and then turned and walked away, through the cold September air, towards her husband and away from the only man she could ever truly love.
...a few of the lines are taken from "Letter to Hermione", an amazing song by the talented David Bowie :D
The first few lines are directly fromNineteen Years Later, from the seventh HP book. The characters belong to JK Rowling, of course.
Thanks for reading!