Title: Somewhere in Between
Summary: "Malfoy, I am not stalking you and I am most certainly not obsessed with you." – A coincidental run in, the aftermath, and the little moments in between.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. The song belongs to Lifehouse.
Warnings: Not epilogue compliant, slight sexual content, slight language.
Word count: 5118.
Dedication: For Poetryfreak 173, my 20th reviewer. Here's to you, Poetry! 3
We're both looking for something
We've been afraid to find
Well, it's easier to be broken
It's easier to hide
It only took Hermione twelve hours to see Draco again, entering the art gallery as she was leaving.
She had followed his advice the night before, preparing herself a quick dinner before curling into bed with her copy of Hogwarts: A History. It hadn't taken long for her to fall asleep and when she had awoken early this morning, Ron had already left... assuming he had come home at all.
"Bit early to be at the gallery, don't you think?" Draco greeted her.
"Good morning to you too." She replied. "And you're one to talk."
"I'm here to pick up my tickets to the exhibition."
This time it was Hermione who cocked her brow. "The anniversary of the end of the war exhibition? You're attending?" Peace settled or not, an event honouring Harry seemed like the last thing Draco would want to be a part of. And Hermione imagined that tickets were neither easy nor cheap to come.
"Of course I am. Things aren't the same as they were then." He said, though his tone clearly implied that there was more to it than that.
Hermione nodded. "I see." And she did. It made perfect sense when she thought about it – it was hard to question the Malfoys' loyalties when they were paying to attend such extravagant events honouring the defeat of Voldermort.
"The same." She said. It was the truth; she did need to pick up her and Ron's tickets. She just wouldn't add that it wasn't the sole reason she had come. Her answered seemed sufficient enough for him and Draco nodded.
Hermione bit her lip, unsure of what to say next. Normally she had no problem conversing with him, but after the previous night, she was a bit unsure of what to say or how to act around him. She supposed a thank you was in order, but she couldn't bring herself to bring up the subject just yet. It was utterly ridiculous because absolutely nothing had changed, yet everything had.
She mentally shook her head, deciding to make some sort of excuse and leave. "Would you care to get a coffee?" She asked instead. She cursed her Gryffindor courage, but continued nevertheless. "I haven't had breakfast yet and I have sometime before I need to be at the Ministry."
Draco gave her a look she had never before seen him give. "Bloody hell woman. Are you asking me out on a date?"
"Of course not!" She was still with Ron and he was still technically engaged to Astoria. Though she supposed she could understand his confusion; it was the first time one of them had proposed a meeting instead of coincidentally bumping into each other. Still, his smirk was not helping her feel any less daft. "Forget it." She mumbled, turning to leave.
"Merlin's beard." He caught her arm before she could. "Haven't you ever heard of a joke?" He shook his head. "Give me a few minutes to pick up my tickets first."
Hermione's eyes narrowed at him, unamused by his humour, but sighed nevertheless. "Alright."
True to his word, Draco slipped into the gallery, fetched his tickets, and returned within five minutes. When he did, they agreed to meet at their café as neither of them were particularly fond of side-along apparition.
If the host wizard was startled to see the two of them together, he did not show it. Instead, he simply nodded and led them to a table in the back of the cafe. He left them with their menus and without another word.
"I still owe you a thank you from last night." Hermione said after a few moments of silence.
Draco paused but did not look up from his breakfast. "I didn't do anything noteworthy."
"Of course you did. Merlin only knows how long I would have stood there like that if you hadn't come along and settled me down. So thank you." She paused before adding, with a frown. "And I caused you to miss quite a bit of you match as well."
This time he snorted. "The Prides lost 160 to 175. You were the least troubling part of my evening."
Hermione rolled her eyes, but couldn't help but smile. Wizards and their Quidditch – it was the same with every last one of them. And the Prides losing meant The Canons were going to the League Cup. Ron had to be thrilled.
"Oh, well I supposed that explains that then." She mumbled, no longer smiling.
"I beg your pardon?"
"Ronald wasn't home when I awoke this morning. I don't think he came home last night. If the Canons won, my guess is that he felt the need to celebrate."
Draco remained silent. She glanced up to find him staring at her, brows furred in apparent confusion. Finally he let out a rather dramatic sigh. "Sod it; I give up trying to make sense of your blasted logic. Why are you with Weasel still?"
"With Ron? Because I love him." And it was the truth. Despite their spats and whatever feelings she may or may not be developing for Draco, it didn't change that she loved Ron. "I have ever since fourth year."
"That's it? That's the only bloody reason you allow yourself to be miserable in this thing you call a relationship? Because you love him?"
"I am not miserable!"
"Need I remind you that we're having this conversation because last night he took you to a Quidditch match for your anniversary?"
"So we have our problems – it's perfectly normal to have spats, you know." She explained. "I can't just throw away all those years as if they mean nothing to me."
He fell silent. "Fine then. If that's how you see things Granger then perhaps the two of you deserve each other."
If he had said that to her months ago, she would have seen his attempt as an insult but not taken it as one, because back then his opinion of her meant nothing and she was happy with Ron. If he had said it weeks ago, she would have seen his attack and given her own snide comment back, because by then she knew him well enough to know that any comparison to Ron was a tremendous insult as far as Draco was concerned. If he had said it weeks ago, she would have been hurt by his 'low' opinion of her and by how he had referred to her by her last name when she thought they were past that stage in their relationship. But when he said it now she knew there was more to it, because by now she knew there was a deeper meaning.
"Why?" was all she said in response.
"You're a bright witch, figure it out yourself."
"Well, why not save us some time and enlighten me instead?"
"It won't change anything, so I hardly see the point."
"Draco." Her voice was gentle and her hand covered his. "Please."
He stared down at her hand for a moment, a frown tugged on his lips. When she did not move it, he looked up and met her gaze. Though his expression was, for the most part, neutral, there was an apparent frustration swirling in his eyes. Hermione immediately felt the guilt tug at her, though she did not know what exactly she had done.
Finally he gave her a dramatic, annoyed sigh. "All you've done is prattle on about your feelings and how long they've been there. What you've failed to do, however, is give me a real sodding reason. Time isn't worth shit if you spend its entirety quarrelling and miserable. A relationship shouldn't be determined by your bloody history – it should be about your future. It isn't defined by your feelings – it's defined by the moments in between the two."
Had she not been so shocked, she would have noticed how almost out of characterly romantic his words were. She would have noticed that despite his typical blunt harshness, his voice cared a subtle softness to it. She would have noticed the deeper meaning he was trying to tell her. Because after twenty one run-ins with him, Hermione knew Draco well enough to know when he meant something other than what his words said. But this time his words were hitting much too close to the heart and she could only bring herself to focus on one thing.
"What sorts of moments?"
Draco hesitated for the slightest of moments, as if he had been afraid she would ask that. "The moments sharing the secrets no one else ever bothers to figure out." He finally answered. "The debates no one else cares for. The meetings that no one else can bloody well figure out." His eyes met hers and Hermione, suddenly lost in pools of grey, forgot how to breathe.
The moments that belonged to them and them alone.
"I… I... I think I should head towards the Ministry. I'll be late if I don't." She mumbled, breaking the gaze. "I'll see you at the exhibition tomorrow." And then, against her inner-Gryffindor, Hermione ran away.
She kept herself occupied with work for the remainder of the day.
The moment Hermione arrived at the Ministry, she locked herself in her office and buried herself in her work. She passed on lunch and had a small dinner brought to her so that she wouldn't have to waste a single moment. Because if she had a moment to think, she knew her thoughts would land on the youngest Malfoy and that was the last thing she needed.
A relationship isn't defined by your feelings or your bloody history.
By the time she returned home that night, too tired to even think, Ron was already asleep in their room, snoring so loud Hermione knew it would keep her awake all night. She had to be back at the Ministry early in the morning to complete a few more things before she met up with Ginny to get ready for the exhibition later that night. It would do her absolutely no good to do all of that without being completely rested.
It's defined by the moments in between.
She stood at the doorway of their bedroom and gave a soft sigh before shutting the door and retiring to the guest room, telling herself that getting enough sleep was the only reason she wouldn't enter the room.
The moments that belonged to them and them alone.
It was just as Hermione was leaving her office that an owl came tapping on her window.
She sighed, but put her bag down and opened the window nevertheless. Taking the delivery, she offered the bird a treat before allowing it to fly off. She smiled softly before closing the window again and leaning against her desk.
The only thing the owl had left her with was a small, thin envelope. It was far too thin to be even a letter, much less anything of significance. All the same, she had a few extra moments before she needed to meet Ginny, and opened it. When she did, her eyes widened and she let out an audible gasp.
Inside were two tickets to the opera.
There was no name or note to indicate from whom it had come, but Hermione was fairly sure she didn't need it. As much as she wanted to think Ron had come to his sense and bought them as an apology, she couldn't bring herself to actually believe it. She had only told one other person about her desire to go and judging from the elegant script her name had been written in, she had no doubt that it had been him.
He knows how much I want to go.
I thought you would want to do that much for me.
Hermione forgot how to breathe.
She and Ron barely spoke that evening.
When she apparated back to the flat, hair and make-up already in tact, she went straight into the closet and changed into her new robes. Ron was in their room, buttoning up his own dress robes, when she emerged. Their eyes locked and an awkward tension shifted between them. Hermione finally broke her gaze.
"You look nice." Ron said.
"Thank you." She mumbled, fetching her shoes. "You do too."
They didn't speak again even when the time came to take their tickets – activated to serve as a portkey – and they left the flat with a soft pop. Even then it didn't take them long to separate once they reached the gallery, each going their own ways to meet and mingle with different people.
"Can you believe it? A painting from one of the Blacks?"
"Who would have ever imagined?"
"Actually," Hermione smiled at the two witches in front of Druilla Black's painting. "This particular piece happens to be one of my personal favourites."
She spent the next several moments discussing the Black's artwork before she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand. Tilting her head away slightly, she spotted Draco staring at her from the doorway of the balcony. Summoning her Gryffindor courage, she excused herself from the two witches before following the blonde wizard outside to the balcony.
Resting against the railings, Hermione smiled as she gazed up at the stars. "Lovely night, don't you think?"
"I suppose so."
A soft silence filled between them. It was similar to the comfortable silence they had grown accustomed to sharing. Still, a slight awkwardness lingered, both of them wanting to speak but neither knowing where to start.
"Thank you." Hermione finally all but blurted. "For the tickets."
"So you got them then." It wasn't a question, but she found herself nodding regardless. "Good." Draco paused for a moment and she turned her gaze back to the stars. "My grandmother's painting." She felt him move beside her. "Yesterday morning when you were leaving the gallery, you had them add it to the exhibition, didn't you?"
"Because people should see it." She answered honestly, turning her head back to see him. "It shouldn't be hidden away in some small room; it should be where everyone can see it. They need to know that the war didn't only affect one side. It was a war – it affected all of us. Druilla deserves to have her feelings shown, Black or not, and the world needs to see it."
Everything she said was true, but there was more to it than that. She had done it for him, because after everything he had done for her, she wanted to do something for him. Something he deserved, because he wasn't the evil deatheater many still believed him to be. Merlin, he wasn't even the annoying prat he had been throughout Hogwarts. So maybe by seeing Druilla Black's painting the world could see the war hadn't just hurt their side, it had hurt the others as well. It had changed people. It had changed Draco.
And even though she hadn't said it, she knew he understood.
"Thank you." He mumbled.
"You don't have to thank me, Draco." She smiled, her hand covering his. "I wanted to."
He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say more, but closed it instead, almost as if he didn't know how to. Vaguely, Hermione wondered if anyone had ever done something like this for him before. It was a horrid thought, but judging on the way he was reacting, she didn't think anyone had. She squeezed his hand softly to let him know he didn't have to say anything else; she understood.
His eyes lingered on her hand for a moment and she felt his hand tighten around hers. Her smile grew and he turned his gaze so that his eyes were locked with hers and she was suddenly finding it rather difficult to breathe.
She couldn't be sure which of them moved first, but the next thing she knew the space between them had closed. His lips brushed against hers, tentative for the slightest of moments, before he pressed further. Intuitively, her arms wrapped around his neck as his circled around her waist, pulling them closer
Her eyes remained shut, not daring to ruin the moment, even after they broke apart. Her fingers curled into the back of his robes, holding on to him and Draco rested his forehead against hers allowing his slightly staggered breath to mingle with hers. And in that one moment, she was sure everything was how it should be.
"...our heroes Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger." A voice in the distance called, announcing the trio to the stage.
"Oh Merlin." She cursed, pulling herself away from Draco as quickly as she could. For the smallest of seconds she could have sword she saw a look of hurt flash across his face. Guilt filled her even more and she couldn't bear to even face him. "I'm sorry." She mumbled, tears blurring her vision. "I...I just can't." She turned on her heel as quickly as she could, nearly tripping herself in the process, and ran.
It took exactly seventy-two hours for the news to spread across Wizarding London.
Astoria Greengrass and Draco Malfoy were no longer engaged.
Witch Weekly reported that the night after the exhibition, Greengrass and Blaise Zambini had taken to France and eloped. Hermione suspected that while the Greengrasses were not pleased with it, they couldn't heavily object. While not their first choice, the Zambini wealth was still strong, though she imagined it was nothing when compared to the Malfoys...
According to the article he had no quarrels with Zambini or Greengrass. He had wished them well and stated that the ties between the Malfoys and their families would remain the same. The article had then gone on to imply that he had not completely meant his words, but Hermione suspected that was mostly due to the writer trying to make the story more interesting for the readers.
Although she couldn't exactly be certain seeing as how she hadn't seen Draco since the exhibition. She had spent her time strictly between the Ministry and the flat, working through lunch. She kept her mind occupied at all times, rarely allowing herself to have a moment for idle thoughts. But every so often – when she stopped to shower, when her eyes became too far sore to read anymore, when she had no choice but to take a break – her mind became free to wander and the idle thoughts floated to her. One idle thought, to be precise.
Exactly one week after the exhibition, Ginny insisted that they go out to lunch.
The youngest Weasley had caught wind of Hermione's work current habits and had shown up at the Ministry, refusing to take no for an answer. So at noon that particular afternoon, the two witches apparated to a small, but quaint restaurant outside Diagon Alley.
Once there Ginny wasted no time. "I heard about what happened with Ron. Merlin, 'Mione, I'm so sorry. I had no idea – I honestly thought the tickets were for you."
Hermione frowned, a sudden guilt filling her. Between her work and the events of the exhibition, she had almost forgotten about the incident on her and Ron's anniversary. They had barely seen each other, much less spoken, in the past week. She shook her head.
"It's okay, Ginny."
"No, it's not. A Quidditch match for your anniversary? Honestly, I can't understand what goes through my brother's head sometimes." She shook her head. "I don't blame you for leaving."
Hermione stared at the youngest Weasley before shaking her head. "I have something for you." She said instead of replying to her comment.
Ginny hesitated for a moment, as if she weren't ready to drop the subject, but finally took the envelope Hermione handed her. She opened it and gasped. "The Muggle's Flute? Merlin, Hermione, it's been sold out for weeks! Are you sure you don't want these?"
"I have to work that night." She explained.
It wasn't a complete lie – she did have work – but neither was it the complete truth. Draco had left her with two tickets. She couldn't ask him to come with her now (and it wasn't as if she had seen him to do so regardless), but at the same time she couldn't bring herself to go with Ron. As ridiculous as it sounded, it almost felt like a betrayal to use Draco's gift with Ron.
"I thought you and Harry would be able to put better use to it."
"I don't understand." Ginny replied. "How did you even get these? They're impossible to find."
"They were a gift."
Hermione hesitated. "Draco." She answered, realising that it would be easier to admit the truth than to lie to her friend.
Ginny gave her an almost baffled look. "Draco? I wasn't aware you were on such a close basis with Malfoy."
"Don't you start too."
An awkward silence fell over them. Hermione felt Ginny's eyes follow her when she turned her gaze to her meal. "You're in love with him, aren't you?" Ginny asked.
Her head snapped up, her eyes wide. "What do you mean? I love your brother."
"That doesn't answer my question, 'Mione. You can love more than one person at a time. So tell me, are you in love with Malfoy?"
Hermione didn't answer.
The following evening she was back in Ron's arms.
She wasn't exactly sure how it happened, honestly. She had come home early, determined to talk to him. They couldn't continue to avoid each other as if they were awkward school children. They were adults for Merlin's sake and it was time they started behaving like it.
The next thing she knew they were in the bedroom with his hands under her blouse and her lips locked with his.
Somewhere in between her decision and then, her eyes had met Ron's and her Gryffindor courage had failed her. She had realised she wasn't nearly as prepared as she had previously thought. Because, in all honesty, she wasn't sure of the outcome – wasn't sure they could survive another spat. Not now. But Hermione couldn't imagine her life without Ron. She loved him. She always had.
That's it? That's the only bloody reason you allow yourself to be miserable in this thing you call a relationship? Because you love him?
Her eyes widened and before she could comprehend why exactly she was thinking of Draco now of all times, her body reacted and she broke away from him, all but leaping off of the bed. She heard Ron sit up and could feel his gaze on her. She distracted herself by attempting to smooth down the wrinkles on her blouse.
"Bloody hell! Are you alright?"
She took a deep breath. "Yes." No. "I just..." she trailed off when she finally looked up to him again. It was then she knew she couldn't avoid what she needed to say any longer. "Ron, what happened on our anniversary?" She asked at last.
His eyes widened. "Let's not go there, 'Mione."
"We need to talk about it, Ronald."
"Can't we just forget about it?"
If only it was still that simple. Hermione almost wished she truly could forget and pretend it had never happened. But she couldn't; not anymore at least. Somewhere in between the start of their relationships and the past months, something had changed. And she had to know.
"No. I don't think we can. Not if we want to make us work."
Ron was silent. A tense silence fell over them. It was only when she was going to ask if he had heard her that he finally spoke. And then even then he hesitated, as if he were unsure of what he himself was saying.
"Are... are we going to make this work?"
It was on the snap of her tongue to snap back that of course they would. They had been together for years – she had loved him far longer. How could they not make it work? They had to make it work. But before she could open her mouth, Draco's words rang in her ears.
A relationship shouldn't be determined by your bloody history – it should be about your future.
And, finally, Hermione knew.
"No." She answered. "I don't think we can."
She found him later that night, alone on a park bench.
His head was turned, his attention elsewhere. The light from the street lamps was dull, barely revealing him, but even from where she stood, she knew it was him. It was apparent in the blonde of his, the quality of his robes, the way he held himself. But there was more to it than that – she knew this much now. Somewhere in between the courses of their many meetings, she had acquired the sense to know when he was near. In a small way, it was still a strange thought, but she couldn't help but smile at it.
He didn't move when she sat next to him, his attention still locked elsewhere, but she did nothing more to signal her arrival. They sat in silence for a few moments more before he finally spoke, his voice lingering.
"All the days I went to that sodding cafe and the one time I wasn't searching for you, you show up. It shouldn't surprise me that you wouldn't make this so easy for me."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You haven't exactly made things easy for me either, you know. I was happy before you came and shuffled everything about. Everything was simple."
Draco snorted. "Simple doesn't suit you. You've always needed to make things complicated."
She lets out a soft laugh. She couldn't deny him there. The corner of his lips tugged slightly, but he said nothing and a soft silence fell over them.
Hermione tilted her head upwards, turning her gaze to the sky. A few stars shone down at them, but most were hidden behind the gathering clouds. Was it supposed to rain tonight? She couldn't remember.
"I – "
"We broke up." She cut him off. "Ron and I." She could feel his gaze on her. "We're not right for each other anymore, maybe we never really were." She explained, never once breaking her gaze from the stars. "It's over. We're over."
At last she turned her head to face him, but when she did the rain she had predicted came. A few drops trickled down her cheek, quickly followed by several more. She stood, ready to suggest that they move to a drier location, but froze when he caught her arm. Never letting her go, Draco too stood. His fingers brushed the drops from her face and she felt her breath hitch at his touch. Her eyes met with his and then, in that moment, she forgot how to breathe all together.
"Hermione." He mumbled her name again, tilting her chin up to him.
"Everything's going to change now." She said before he could lean down. "My entire life, everything I've known for years is going to change." She explained. He said nothing, his eyes on hers, waiting for her to continue. "I... I'm scared." She finally admitted. "I have absolutely no idea what will happen and it terrifies me."
Draco remained silent, his eyes searching hers. She almost expected him to laugh at her. She had face Dementors, werewolves, even Voldermort himself, but here she was terrified of a relationship. It was rather comical, really.
He didn't laugh but an amused smirk did tug at his lips. "Since when has Hermione bloody Granger backed away from a challenge?" He asked, but continued before she could even begin to digest his words. When he spoke again, his voice was soft, almost as if he were nervous of what he was saying next. "I'm scared too."
It was strange, hearing Draco confess such a thing. Throughout all their Hogwarts years, Malfoy had shown cowardice on more than one occasion, but he had never dared to admit it. It was the last thing Hermione had expected from him, but somehow it was exactly what she needed to know. He was just as terrified as her because, honestly, they had absolutely no idea where this would lead them. If it would lead them anywhere at all. In all reality, it could very well be the most ridiculous mistake of their lives.
But if Draco Malfoy – the boy her friends had often mocked for his lack of courage – could take the risk, who was Hermione Granger of the Golden Trio to back down?
The rain continued to fall around them, but she was no longer paying any head. A smile pulled at her mouth and nodded to him. His own usual smug grin grew and he leaned down, brushing his lips to hers.
Draco Malfoy. He was by most people's definition the exact opposite of her perfect match. He was stubborn, annoying, and far too full of himself. She was Hermione Granger and she was supposed to represent everything he had been raised to hate. She was moody, bossy, and born in the Muggle world. They fought, they argued, they often could not even begin to see eye-to-eye, but somehow that no longer mattered. Because somewhere in between all her doubts and all the reasons that said it was all wrong, Hermione found something more important – she found Draco and he found her, faults and all.
And, somehow, she knew that was enough.
Looking at you, holding my breath
For once in my life I'm scared to death
I'm taking a chance letting you inside
I'm feeling alive all over again
First Time, Lifehouse
Note: Since I write so many one-shots, I always have so many mixed feeling about finishing a mult-shot. On the one hand I'm like "omg, I'm finally done!" but on the other, it's kind of sad. I get so attached to my stories that I kind of get a little depressed that I won't have the chance to continue it anymore. But, nevertheless, I am very proud of how this fic turned out. It's different from my original ending (in which Draco and Hermione did not end up together) but I'm still happy with it. Who knows, maybe I'll write my original plan someday. (But right now, I think I need a break from multi shots. Haha.)
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I hope you like the happy ending, because those aren't so common with me. Haha. ;-]