If we're only ever looking back, we will drive ourselves insane.
As the friendship goes resentment grows, we will walk our different ways.
But those are the days that bind us together, forever;
And those little things define us forever, forever.
All this bad blood here, won't you let it dry?
It's been cold for years, won't you let it lie?
- Bad Blood, Bastille
The bell tings as I exit the shop, slinking back onto the cobbled street. As I inhale the fresh spring air the joyful relief I sought doesn't come. Even with my hand on a handle of a bag full of crisp, new books, I feel nothing pleasant, only a little of my normal anticipation to absorb new information.
Suddenly the clock in the middle of the square chimes at half past. Sighing, I realize there's an hour left until curfew, 45 til I have to round up the younger Slytherins who decided to come out and lead them back to Hogwarts. And It feels way too damn long a time to wait.
Why in the hell I decided to agree to Prefect duties this year, nearly halfway through, let alone for a different house, I'll never know. Or why McGonagall wanted me to do it in the first place….it's definitely a record in Hogwarts. If Theodore and Millicent refused, I suppose that the only option would be to ask other seventh years because they're the only other ones left. Draco was probably correct in assuming that maybe the Headmistress wanted me to have more, and better, credentials.
Just hearing his name leaves stabbing pains in my heart filled with apprehension.
I haven't written him back since he gave me Passe par des Changements. I wonder what he must think.
I don't even know what I think.
Last week was one of the worst nights I've had in a long time, which is certainly saying something. And it's also created a conflict I've had yet to deal with, and never thought I would have. Thus, I have no idea how to. So I haven't been reacting at all.
Guilt and shame are washing over me about my behaviour, but this isn't an appropriate place for that to occur. I have to wait til I'm in my room, under my covers, so I can lay there alone. I have to figure out what to do.
Still, with time I must waste, maybe I should go to the Three Broomsticks for some Butterbeer to pass through this isolation …and read in a corner by the fire for safe distraction.
Thinking of dancing flames, my mind flashes back to the common room. Of sipping liquor with a friend, feeling comfort. Then a welcome reconciliation turning to unwanted lips touching mine, and the consequences, the problems that have arisen from it making every single day worse and worse. Anger then simmers to a boiling point in my stomach, but right now I want nothing to do with it. Right now I am miserable and irritated.
Shaking it off, I find the nerve and will somehow to propel me to start walking along for some much needed solace. Chances are he's going to be there waiting for me. He hasn't stopped pestering me since it happened. But I don't care.
I'm not ready to talk.
And it isn't until I get to the bar, when I'm walking up to order that there's a flash of messy black hair in my peripherals. He's sitting next to Dean and Seamus, and…Ron. How nice.
Strong as I would like to be, I can see his eyes widen as he scrambles to get up. No doubt coming for a chat. I'm so livid though, I could, and want, to spew a great a number of expletives at him for his audacity. Causing a scene will only then cause disaster however, so I think fast.
Pretending like I misplaced something, rifling through my bag, and then looking slightly distressed, I tell Madam Rosmerta that I 'forgot my wand'. Then I shuffle out once more, deciding maybe the Hogs Head would be an ok place to go.
It would be polite to say hello to Aberforth anyways.
It would polite if there wasn't someone trailing me, their footsteps quite audible.
"Hermione, please wait."
There's not a chance in hell.
Don't say anything.
My grip tightens on my belongings, my free hand curling into a fist around vine inside my jacket out of nasty habit.
An echo rings out, an inflection so tempered with annoyance I want to spin around and slap him. But I don't. Instead, I come to a halt, noticing several onlookers staring at this altercation, and I beckon him to follow me.
In silence he complies, behind me, out of either fear or respect. It seems as if an eternity has passed once we reach our destination, and hoping that I have excuses to go and find the people I'm in charge of, the clock betrays me and says I still have 37 minutes left.
Settling in the far corner booth, I nod my head to the barkeep who merely grunts at my presence. Harry decides to be a 'gentleman' and gets us drinks and exchanges pleasantries before sitting across from me. I want to scream at how awkward this is, but I'm not starting this conversation, so I put my hand out for him to start once he slides me a Butterbeer.
"So…how are you?"
"Must be weird to have to look after a bunch of Slytherins, eh? McGonagall really wants you to succeed," he tries, with false fervour that I try extremely hard not to cringe at.
It hasn't really been up until now, that I gave him the time of day, that I truly felt how cross I am at him. At myself.
"Hermione –We can't avoid this forever," he says after a pause, shaking his head out of irritation at my shortness.
"We're not, we're talking aren't we?" I snap, and he flinches as my hand smacks the table.
"You've been dodging me all week. And I GET IT, alright – " he stresses, noticing my firm hold on the glass. "Look, I – dammit, I don't know what to say! I'm sorry! I'm sorry for what I did."
"Sorry isn't good enough, Harry."
Tears are threatening to assault me again.
Be strong, be strong!
"I know. I was an idiot, I - "
"You were more than an idiot! Do you even understand what's happened? Do you understand what you've done?"
"YES!" he shouts, then adjusts his tone, flicking his head around quickly to see if he's been heard. "I – I wasn't thinking, obviously. The way you were holding me, it reminded me of Ginny. The way she used to. I haven't, you know, I …I really miss her. It was so stupid."
That's exactly how I felt, isn't it? I pretended he was Draco.
Yes, but you had the restraint not to kiss him because of it.
"Look, I get how you feel. I do. But that's no excuse, Harry. That you miss her? Ginny broke up with you for a reason, remember. You can't mope around and expect things to fix themselves. She wants you back, I know she does and - "
"She – she does?" he interrupts, posture rigid, eyes affixed to mine.
"It's so clear, honestly. She watches you every time you're in the same room. But you haven't earned it yet, that's my point. And now? Now you're going to have to explain to her that you snogged me, aren't you? That in a moment of bad judgement you made me cheat on Draco. Just FUCK. What am I supposed to do!? What am I possibly going to tell him – that his worst nightmare came true and I'm off with other boys while he's locked up alone in his house?"
"I….." he pauses, a look of utter incomprehension dawning on his face at my cursing. "I don't know?"
The very thought of him being an accomplice in my infidelity never seemed to have crossed his mind until now, I'm wagering. Seriously, I don't think he's fully realized what happened the minute he decided to lean in.
He swallows hard, darting his vision now away from me to out the window, blinking hard.
"And worse, we have to tell Ron too. I don't think he has any lingering feelings for me anymore, but he's going to be pissed that you pulled that stunt. You crossed the line. This is just a huge mess."
Taking a big gulp of my drink, my heads dizzy from contemplating any kind of conversation I could have with three people I don't want to talk to ever again.
"Tell Draco what happened…tell him what I said. That I'm sorry. I was drunk, and that I'm the one who chose to do it. He surely can't hate me anymore than he does."
"God, I don't think it's going to matter. It's not your fault I drank too. I'm not going to paint a picture where I look perfect. Tell him you came down with firewhiskey and threw yourself at me. He's going to blame himself anyways, one of the times where it actually isn't his fault at all. He knew how sad I was when you and Ron started to ignore me. He'll think that we made up…and made up in more ways than one," I groan, another sip taken. "He'll think I want to be more than friends."
"Think that we made up. You mean we didn't that night...before...Aren't we friends again, Hermione?"
The helplessness in his voice takes me by surprise. Instead of examining the cracked wooden table, I examine him with great effort. Frowning, he appears as upset as I feel.
Oh Merlin, why am I such a wimp? Why does the sight of vulnerability melt me and make me cave? I don't want to bitch at him any longer, but I'm still frustrated beyond belief.
"We never stopped being friends," I tell him, throat closing in from choking back tears. "You just decided when we got back from break that compromise wasn't an option anymore. I would've tried harder to make amends between you and Draco, but you were just so angry. You and Ron. It made everyone else hate him, and us, too. As soon as Draco left, you came back to me, Harry. As if it would all be alright. Do you not see how much that hurts me?"
"Don't you understand how hard it was to see you fall for somebody who's been such a complete arsehole to you, to me, to everyone I care about? Maybe he's reformed a bit, but it doesn't mean I can ever forgive what he's done," he defends himself, fists balling. "I was only worried. We all were!"
"And I appreciate that. But Ginny stepped up and tried to interact. Which surprised me, considering how terrible Draco's family's been to the Weasley's. Ron didn't step up, for that same reason I assume. And you….you haven't been a good friend to me either," I cry. "You didn't try. Of everyone, I thought that you'd understand most when people need second chances. I thought that the end of the war was the end of hate."
"Hermione, it was, but – just – "
"No 'justs'!" I yell, and he finally has the sense to draw himself back at my snarled expression. "You made my boyfriend faint and have an anxiety attack in the middle of a hallway! In front of an audience! You called him a Death Eater, pureblooded scum. Harry, your anger about his past is justified, but lashing out at him like that was not. And never will be."
"I know, I lost it."
"More than lost it. How hard is it for you to cast off your biases and see that he hates himself? Do you know that Draco has nightmares? Almost every night? Do you know he was alcoholic all year before coming back because he became intolerant to dream potions? He couldn't make the flashbacks go away in any other fashion."
"I….." He's at a loss.
"No, you don't. And you know why? Because you never gave him a chance to open up. Ron didn't either. Nobody has."
Slumping his shoulders, his resolve is lessening every passing second.
"You're right, Hermione. I didn't try, I was too pissed off. I never want to try and be friends with Malfoy, but for you? I will. Ok? I mean it. Maybe this is too late now….I know I get really - hotheaded, but it's so difficult for me to turn it off."
Harry doesn't like admitting his faults, like everyone else. And he hates admitting he's wrong. Maybe he needs some guidance, maybe I can help him, maybe we can help each other.
Nothing that's been said has quelled the unease so far, but refusing to make amends isn't going to do me any favours.
"Harry, it's not too late. I'm not going to tell you you need to give someone second chances, and not give you one yourself. Just know you have to turn it off sometimes. Obsessing over Draco's scheming like you did in sixth year was irritating to Ron and I, and won't help now. And yes, you were right that time, but this time you're wrong. This time, it's our friendship at stake. And Ginny, and your future together."
"Hell, I know," he admits, placing his head in his hands. "I'm such a bastard. What do I do? How can you even forgive me?"
"I don't fully forgive you, not yet. And because I'm your friend. Because I'm weak," I chuckle. When he returns one, I feel spurred on to continue. "You have to fight for Ginny. Normally, respecting her wishes and giving her space works because she'd just hex you or tell you to knock it off. But this time, you have to show her you're willing to let bygones be bygones. She said you were trying to make everything 'perfect' like last year, but it's completely destroyed now. So let it all go and start again, not where we 'left off'."
"And I have to fight for you, too, don't I? Play happy families with the ferret?" he attempts to grin, an insincere result. But it's a start.
"Yes. Draco is not his father. And he's more damaged than I imagined. You have to get it through your mind that he regrets everything he's ever done, you know that because he showed you his memories. You know that he tried because he came to the goddamn Burrow. The only person who will be able to help him in the end is him, but he needs support. And having yours would've warded off people better than what occurred when we got back."
Embarrassment washes over him. His face a bright red. And the minor satisfaction I feel is probably not good, but I feel it anyway.
"I really made you feel horrible, didn't I?"
"Yes. You were mad at me for wanting him but you sort of pushed me into his arms more. We basically only had one another for an entire month. Hanging out with Luna or Ginny, one of the few who would talk to me, it felt he was a taboo subject. And when we were together, it was some secret affair. Like it was really special."
I finish in a low voice, and he's flickering his gaze at me, calculating, before he continues.
"You love him a lot, don't you?"
He asks me with clear pain, but his eyes let me know he wants the truth.
"Yes. It almost feels unhealthy. I'm just so attracted to him. We spent hours and hours together every day. Underneath all that baggage is somebody who's witty, intelligent. Someone who makes me feel good about myself. All I ever wanted to do was be with him, right now I wish we he was here beside me. And though I suppose I don't have much experience, I've never experienced this. I've never thought I could just let myself love somebody and ease up on control because he loves me equally. I know it because I feel it."
Harry is examining me again, perhaps a bit puzzled.
"That's how I feel about Ginny," he murmurs. "To a T…"
Shrugging, I exhale the tension I was holding inside.
Figures that Draco is my Ginny.
Figures that I would possibly find true love in the worst person I could've.
"What do you propose we do, then? Illegally Apparate to Malfoy Manor so I can serenade him with an apology and explanation under his windowsill?" he slinks down, finishing off the dredges of his Butterbeer.
Normally, I would laugh at this suggestion, but being as my brain is clogged for options, I'm getting so delusional I don't think it's half bad.
"No. You should probably stay out of it. I need to write him soon though. He's probably restless, he sent me a letter yesterday and I haven't the bravery to open it."
"Hermione…let me send him an owl. Just let me tell him what was, well, I suppose wasn't , going on in my head. The last thing we both would ever want to do is reveal our feelings to each other, right?"
"Hermione, come on. I don't expect a reply. But I owe it to you. I owe it to him," he admits with seemingly enormous effort.
The fact he's willing to have a heart to heart with Draco at least lets me know he's serious about this. But I think it's going to take a miracle in order for this to end up right.
"I guess that wouldn't hurt. It's going to cut deep no matter what we do. Sigh, going to write it all tonight, then? Then maybe we can tackle Ginny. She's been bugging me about what's wrong the way you have. I've concealed everything successfully so far, but I'm going to crack soon because she's being so kind."
"Fuck," he moans, burying his face in his hands. 'Yeah, alright."
"Ugh. This sucks."
"Basically...Want another round before we go?"
She'll write soon, she's probably busy.
She's at school, she has class. You just have to lie here, you idiot.
Stop being so selfish and pathetic.
Paranoia is my new token emotion.
Hermione wasn't written me in a over a week. The longest absence before this was 5 days, and even then, she informed me of her lapse beforehand because she was swamped with midterms and essays.
First, I thought maybe she just forgot. She actually has a life. Second, I thought maybe she was sick, and then I promptly sent her a letter asking her about it. Third, I was thinking maybe she might be pissed at me for some reason. But I have to rule that out because she wouldn't be so juvenile as to quit writing. And now? Now I think something's happened. And she doesn't want to tell me.
Maybe something good though, like restoring her friendship with the bloody Golden Trio. Maybe she has less time for me now in her already hectic schedule.
I just want to know.
"Draco – your Healer is here."
"Alright mother, be right out."
I haven't even gotten dressed yet. I'm seriously the most horrific, sorry excuse of a human being. Obsessing over my girlfriend. Like I don't trust her. Like I have no confidence in myself, or her, or our relationship.
Ugh, I'm acting like Weasley would.
That notion pushes me out of bed, shuddering at the thought of myself with red hair and freckles, throwing on trousers and a robe haplessly. Elsanna doesn't give a damn what I look like anyways. I was a slobbering pitiful wreck the first few times.
Tottering on out to the hall, I hurry to the study at the end, where she's waiting for me.
"And how are we today, Draco?" she smiles, the crinkles around her forehead and eyes making it all the more sincere.
Elsanna is in her mid-forties, with soft greying hair and a kind presence that I assume is what enables her to be so successful. Mrs. Malfoy spared no expense I gathered from asking about her credentials when she got here the initial session (like a bloody fool). Studied at the Ministry, studied at a Muggle university. Got a 'Masters' degree, whatever that is, in Psychology. I think I like talking to her mostly because she's a reflection of what I envision Hermione to be like when she's older. Nurturing, helpful, and successful. But slightly less high strung.
"Not very good," I reply honestly, plopping myself on the couch.
She's got her legs crossed, her signature concerned quizzical look plastered on her face. Her clipboard ever-present on her lap, quill tapping on the parchment for notes.
She always does this; pauses so I begin our talk. So I get to say what I want, what's at the forefront of my thoughts.
"Hermione hasn't written me in over a week."
"Ah. You're not used to that. You were so pleased last week. It upsets you because you finally told her about the epiphany you had, and she hasn't offered her views?"
"Well – not really. I'm just wondering more the reasoning behind why she wouldn't. She's always punctual, she would've told me if she wasn't going to write. I just can't help but feel that something's happened."
Her gaze that is expectant always gets me; makes me feel like I'm being ridiculous. Because she isn't judging me. Instead, I end up judging myself as I don't need to be defensive.
I explain my earlier insecurities, about the assumptions she's been hanging out with the Potter crew 24/7.
I'm hoping for words of comfort, hoping I can ask about if she thinks sending her that book was wise.
A I speak, a realization reaches me that I actually want advice, and I actually look forward to this interaction every week. A little glimmer of hope flows through me afterwards, that maybe I'm getting better.
"I'll see you next week, Draco. Always nice to see you."
"Thank you. Good bye!"
An hour has passed, like a breeze, and I'm feeling content.
My elation only elevates tenfold when I return to my room to a welcoming hoot. Aquila is there, settled on his perch pecking at his water. Two letters are on my desk, and I think for a moment, that perhaps because Aquila is only a guest at the Hogwarts Owlery, that one of them was.
Practically leaping to my chair, I stroke the soft fur of my pet, abruptly stopping once I notice that the handwriting on each envelope is different. One distinctly Hermione's….the other one I've never seen.
Unsure of which one to read first, I snatch them both and crash onto my mattress. Thumbing my name scrawled on both, I rip open Hermione's first. Longing with need to hear anything of her, my desperation has gotten the best of me.
I apologize that I haven't written you back recently.
I don't want to sugar coat this or beat around the bush. But something horrible happened on the weekend, and I've been too much a coward to tell you about it. Until now.
Something sharp pierces my insides, but now curiosity is far greater than my apprehension.
After reading Passe par des Changements – which was fantastic, by the way – I felt such intense loneliness due to your absence. My night right after I completed it, Sunday, was spent rereading your letters by the fire in the common room. Only, I ended up with company.
It was Harry. He couldn't sleep because he had a dream about Ginny, and once he saw I was in the same spirits as he was (low ones) he joined me. As I told you, we've been slowly rebuilding our friendship.
Well, everything was perfect, and comforting. Until we were talking about how miserable we felt and had the bright idea that alcohol would somehow remedy it.
My grip is so tight on the parchment, I am sick to my stomach; I do not want to continue.
And I regret it when I have the idiotic idea to do so anyways.
We were fairly tipsy, not belligerent, but tipsy. I was hugging him goodnight, the first intimate interaction both Harry and I had in a while. And when I pulled away, he forgot himself. And….he kissed me.
And...he kissed me.
The page is on the floor before I finish.
I'm shaking with rage; the phrase repeating over and over like a drum beat.
And the tears are flowing down my cheeks before I can even process all this, just like how I'm ripping up the other letter because I now know who it must be from.
I don't want an apology, I want to murder him.
I can't bring myself to pluck the rest of the letter off the floor to read about how she hasn't spoken to him since, about how she hexed him or slapped him because I know that wasn't her reaction. She probably spoke to him and is still trying to fix everything because that's what she does; she gets pissed and then she tried to make amends. A bandage can only stretch so far, and i'm afraid that i'll be the section left out when this all blows over.
How dare he?
HOW DARE HE?
I actually have to fling my wand across the room so it hits the wall, so I don't give in to the urge to go on a manhunt.
This is going a bit better than I expected.
Ginny at least responded verbally, doesn't have tears in her eyes, and didn't run away off the grass to go kill him.
"It was a momentary lapse of judgement…."
"THAT ABSOLUTE PIECE OF DRAGON DUNG!"
"Ginny – he's in absolute bits about it," I try defending him, even though I'm actually happy she has reacted this way.
He bloody well deserves it.
"SO WHAT! IS THAT WHY YOU WERE IGNORING ME?"
"Yes," I confess.
"AND WHAT ABOUT YOU AND DRACO, HUH? MERLIN, WHAT A COMPLETE IDIOT!"
Clutching clumps of dirt in her hands, she digs up the ground and throws it at the tree trunk we're settled under.
Even though we decided that Harry had to make up to Ginny himself, we also agreed it would be wiser if I explained first my take. And the redder she turns, I'm thinking maybe that was the wrong play.
"We both owled Draco. I don't know how he's going to take it," I lie. He's going to be absolutely livid. "But having Harry write an apology and explain himself will help."
"I'VE NEVER BEEN MORE – wait, what? He actually wrote an apology? Did you write it for him?" she questions me with narrowed eyes, with more clarity, her tirade slowly quelling.
"No….it was actually his idea."
"WHAT!? I – but. GOD. He despises the bloke. Why was he so reasonable?"
"Wants to actually try. Knows he hasn't for me. And I didn't want him to do it, but he insisted. We had a really long talk yesterday at Hogsmeade, Ginny. He misses me. And he misses you a lot. I know you miss him too. He's really gone and messed it about, but I told him he had to go get you now. If you'll let him – oh, please let him," I beg, grabbing her hands in mine, shaking them up and down.
She recoils a bit, surprised at my pleading.
'Why do you want me to get back with him so bad?"
"I just want some kind of normalcy," I whine, falling back onto the lawn. "I'm still mad at Harry, but it was a mistake. A costly one, a big one, but I just want everyone to resolve their goddamn hang-ups. Draco is going to be at wits end thinking I'm no longer interested in him, that I can be content with you all again without him; that was his worst fear realized when he ran into the forest. If you were with Harry again, I could tell him that. If we were all friends again, maybe we could work on integrating Draco again. I suppose I'm just being selfish," I sigh, rolling onto my stomach and staring up at Ginny.
"God, no. You're right. I do miss him. I don't know what's happened to him lately, he's gone crazy."
Slouching as if she's surrendered, she joins me in laying down.
"I'm not mad at you, so you know. I know you would never let that sadness get the best of you. I think Harry was expecting this year to go off without a hitch, and then you fell in love with the 'enemy'. And in his mind, that ruined everything. I'm happy you started making amends, I know he missed you, regardless of what he did. He wouldn't shut up about you. And Ron was just confused because he was still under the impression you'd give him one more chance. And then you didn't," she titters, rolling her eyes.
"This is such a mess. I'm so sorry, Ginny."
"No. It's not your fault. Yeah, maybe you shouldn't have drank, but Harry shouldn't have kissed you. And you've been so worried about Malfoy, it's understandable why you were so sad. I'm just SO PISSED OFF," she cries, a large tick of annoyance resonating from the recesses of her vocal chords.
"Was this fucking close to talking to him. And now I don't wanna see his dumb face for a long while again. Ugh. He's really going to have to step it up."
"You can say that again. At least he's trying. Ron hasn't done a thing."
"Yeah, well. Ron's a cock."
For some reason, this spurs me on into a fit of giggles I can't control. Ginny, at my burst of laughter, then reluctantly breaks into a grin and joins me.
Thank God she's not a sprawling heap. She's going to be fine.
"Christ, this is dumb. Well I sincerely hope Draco doesn't pull a Harry and overreact. He should know how much you care."
"Neither do I, I hope he does." I reply, looking up at the setting sky, praying that she's right.
I didn't truly expect a reply from Draco this soon.
I'm torn between relief that he responded and worry that this might be a bad thing.
Luckily, everyone had the sense not to bother me as I dashed away from the Great Hall to go read this alone. I'm sitting on the steps just outside, where the points hourglasses are. My name is written more sloppily than normal, I notice. And I'm wondering if he replied to me straight after reading with shaking anger, and only had the nerve to deliver it today. It's been three days and two nights since I sent him my letter.
"Here goes nothing." I mutter, sliding the parchment from its casing.
I take a giant breath before diving in, scared of what lay ahead.
I didn't finish your letter.
I didn't want the details.
I wish you'd never told me.
Because as it stands I WISH POTTER WAS DEAD.
He made you cheat, he took you away from me and there's nothing I can do.
I ripped up his letter, I'm guessing it was from him. I could be wrong, but I frankly don't care. Don't worry, I've lessened my anger enough to placate my murderous thoughts. Slightly.
I've now been trying to convince myself that you would never hurt me purposely, and I know you love me. But then, why do I still hurt? This is what happens when I'm away. You seek comfort, and get it from Potter. Someone who isn't me. And then he wants you.
Of course he would, why wouldn't he?
And I'm in exile here at home because I can't control myself properly.
And I don't want to be wary of the fact you're regaining friendships important to you, but I am if this is the result.
I'm just in bits, Hermione. Every passing second, I think that maybe somebody is stealing you away from me again. I miss you so much, but I'm so angry. Not at you, alright. I love you.
But it's going to take me a while to get over this, so please let me talk to my healer first. Please understand, I want you to be happy. I just feel like it's been at my expense, and I know it's not your intent. And I know i'm being selfish.
Please don't reply to me until I sort this out.
The maturity in which he's written me has rocked me, truly and deeply.
Now the only thing I want to do is hold him, tell him I'm sorry again and again. I love him so much, I can't bear this.
My desire to touch him, and kiss him, is stronger than it's ever been. And now I am powerless, now I'm the one how has to wait.
And it's going to be unbearable.