Summary: All it took was that one moment for Hermione's life to change forever. - Hermione's affair with a married Draco comes to light.
Warnings: Affair themed, language, possible sexual content.
Status - Sequel to "Need." Part one of two.
Disclaimer: If I owned it, it would have been canon. The song in all chapters is from Long Shot Kelly Clarkson.
So now I'll take a chance on
This thing we may have started
Intentional or not I
Don't think we saw it coming
It's all adding up to something
"Things define you," her mother had once told her, years after she had graduated Hogwarts. "You'll never see it coming. Perhaps it will be an object, a person, or perhaps even a moment. You'll be surprised, darling."
At the time, Hermione had been convinced that her mother was being ridiculous. It was foolish to try to define one's self, much less to have something else do it for you. She didn't tell her this, of course; she only smiled, nodded, and told her mother she would think about it. However, she had absolutely no intention of doing so, because, again, it was utterly ridiculous and made absolutely no sense. And then, three weeks later, when the thought came to her again and refused to be shaken, she finally saw some truth to it.
Hogwarts, books, her magic – they were all an essential part of who she was. She had never thought of them as something that defined her, but it made sense in some ways; without them, she wouldn't be who she was. She wouldn't be a witch. She wouldn't have met her friends. Harry and Ron – made her who she was just as much, if not more. Without them, she certainly wouldn't be who she was.
But never had Hermione expected Draco Malfoy to be a person who defined her.
It had started as a onetime thing, a drunken mistake, but it had ended up as something more. At first, her curiosity, her pride, had gotten the better of her; she had gone back to Draco only to prove that she could. Who was anyone to say what she was or wasn't capable of? She proved to herself that she was capable of far more than anyone had ever expected of her.
She hadn't expected anything from him; he was only using her, just as she was only using him. There were no hopes of romance, happy endings, fairy tales. They were one another's means to an end and nothing more. But, somehow, somewhere along the way, that changed. He had gotten under her skin, in her blood, in her heart. She craved him like water, like air. She wanted him, needed him, more than anything.
Hermione had denied it for the longest time. Not only was he Draco Malfoy – Malfoy, the bloody git who had done everything in his power to make her and her friends miserable for years – but he was married on top of that. Married, as in till-death-do-us-part, M-A-R-R-I-E-D. So it had nearly destroyed her when she had come to terms with it, because it meant she had to leave him. Because she couldn't bring herself to share him; because she had thought she needed him completely in order to survive.
They had only been apart one month before he had owled her. At first, she had absolutely no intention of going back. After all, who was he to call her back, despite all the pain he had caused her? But, in the end, her curiosity had gotten the best of her and she wanted to know what he could possibly want. So, despite everything that was wrong with it, she went to see Draco with the full intention of it being the very last time.
But it was then that she had noticed the circles under his eyes, the weight he had lost, that his skin was even paler than usual. That he needed her as much as she needed him; that her leaving would kill him as much as her. Her resolve shattered and she stayed.
There were days when Hermione doubted what she was doing; when she just knew what she had with Draco was wrong. Not a day went by when she didn't think about leaving him. But then there would be those nights when she would go to him; when she would see him, after so many weeks of absence. And then, when she did, all it would take was that once glance, that one look, and she would just know that she would never be able to leave him.
All she needed was that single moment to know that she would never be able to be without him.
Every year the International Quidditch Association held an event to raise funds for the season. It was a formal event (a rather odd sight, actually, when one considered their stereotypical appearance), where anyone who paid would dine and meet all members of the team. It was, from what she had heard, the one night that raised enough funds to support the entire Association for the whole year.
On that particular year, Viktor Krum asked her to be his date.
At first, she had been completely baffled. While they occasionally wrote, she had not seen Viktor in years; it was rather odd that he would ask her, of all people, to accompany him. But, as it turned out, the witch he had been seeing had recently left him and he could not find anyone whose company he would possibly enjoy on such short notice. So once she was sure that it was only a friend asking a favour of another friend, she readily agreed.
It was a large and rather magnificent event. It put even the grandest of all Yule Balls to shame. Witches and wizards from all over Europe attended, all eager to see and meet the finest Quidditch Players. Even Harry was there, seeing as Lily had gotten a bit older and Ginny was considering returning to the sport. But what surprised Hermione the most was how much she was enjoying herself.
Not that she had expected to have an awful time, but she hadn't let herself forget that it was a Quidditch event. Naturally, she had assumed that it would be the choice topic of discussion, and while it was brought up often, other topics ranging from books to politics arose as well. And Viktor was ever the gentleman, courteously trying to keep his conversations in English so that she could follow.
The night was more than half way through when she finally excused herself for a breath of fresh air. She had been enjoying herself so much that she had neglected to realise how stuffy the ballroom, stuffed with so many people, had been. Between the entire Quidditch Association and the paid guests, there had to easily be a thousand people there.
Hermione took a deep breath, inhaling the crisp, fresh air. A smile tugged at her lips when she gazed up to the starry night sky. As much as she loved magic and had enjoyed the enchanted ceiling in the ballroom, it was hard to compare to the real thing. Merlin, did she love the stars. She could spend hours gazing up at them, searching for constellations.
Her peace, however, was broken when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck prick up. It was an all too familiar feeling and she turned around to find a pair of grey eyes staring at her. "Draco!" She gasped. When had he gotten there? How could she have missed him? "I didn't know you were here." She glanced past him to make sure no one could see them.
"Strange, because I noticed you right away." He didn't bother to hide the anger in his voice.
Her eyes narrowed. "And what, pray tell, does that mean?" She shook her head before he could answer. "Never mind that, I should go before someone spots us. Viktor will be looking for me soon."
Hermione had barely taken two steps past him when he grabbed her arm, pulling her back. "Viktor? When exactly were you planning on telling me you were here with Krum?"
She snatched her arm back and glared up at him. He sounded an awful lot like Ron had when they were younger and she didn't appreciate it in the slightest. "Do tell me, how is Astoria these days? Where is she? I'm certain she must have accompanied you here."
It was a low blow, she knew, but he was being absolutely ridiculous! The fact that she had accompanied Viktor meant nothing and they both knew that. She was far more loyal to him than she ever expected him to be to her. It wasn't, after all, her fault they had to sneak around corners.
Draco opened his mouth, but was cut off by someone else. "Hermione! There you are. Are you alright? I heard that…" Harry trailed off and she could practically hear his eyes narrowing. "Malfoy."
After the war, things had changed between Harry and Draco. While they most certainly weren't friends, they weren't at one another's throats as they had been during their school years. Draco no longer attacked everything Harry did, and Harry, in turn, no longer accused Draco for everything that went wrong in the world. They acknowledged one another, but never spoke. It was almost a sort of shaky truce they had.
One that suddenly looked as if it were about to come crumbling down any moment now.
"Potter." His voice was calm, neutral, but his eyes gave him away; he was furious.
"Hermione," Harry's glare never broke from Draco's. "Let's go."
It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him no. She was her own person and he had absolutely no right to order her around like that. But then she remembered that this was Harry and he was only doing what he thought was best; he was only trying to protect her from getting hurt. Her eyes softened, she took half of a step closer to him, and gave him a small smile.
"I'll come, Harry. Just give us a moment."
His gaze finally broke away from Draco and he glanced down at her. "Hermione…"
"Nothing…" She paused, choosing her words carefully. "Nothing will change. I promise."
Harry stared at her for a moment and she could see the debate in his eyes; he was torn between protecting her and trusting her. In the end, however, he nodded. "Alright." He sighed. "But," he glared up at Draco again. "If you aren't back in five minutes, I'm coming back."
"Alright." She said, resisting the urge to shove him away. Harry lingered for a moment longer, before he finally retreated back into the ballroom. Hermione sighed. "I hope you're happy. He will never let this go now, you know. I'm going to have to deal with him –"
He interrupted her. "Is that why you came with Krum? To make me jealous?"
She stared at him for a moment, remembering their conversation before Harry had interrupted them. "Of course not. I wasn't even aware you were here. You never mentioned it to me."
"Neither did you."
"I didn't know that I would be until a few days ago. I have doing Viktor a favour. Honestly, Draco, would you relax? You're over reacting."
"I don't like it." He said, as if it were some sort of proper response.
"You don't like it?" Her voice came out somewhere between a shrill and a hiss. "Well, I'm sorry but my life does not revolve around you. I'm not exactly thrilled about always seeing you with Astoria, but you never hear me mention it."
"That isn't the same. She's –"
"Your wife; yes, I'm more than aware. And you're right: it isn't the same. Viktor is my friend; I'm here, because he asked me to do him a favour. You married Astoria; she's here, because she's your wife. You think it isn't hard for me to see you with her?" She snapped. He opened his mouth, but she cut him off. "Not now." She wasn't particularly in the mood to hear his excuses. She was aware of the choice she had made, but that didn't mean she wanted him to constantly rub it in her face; to remind her of where exactly their relationship stood. "Harry will be searching for me soon. We'll talk about this later, Draco." When she turned to leave, however, she froze.
Standing in between them and the doorway was Astoria Greengrass. She wore a set of silver dress robes so beautiful that made Hermione's rose-coloured ones pale in comparison; her soft curls fell perfectly around her shoulders, with only a few pieces pinned out of her face. She looked so elegant, so graceful, so the epitome of what a Pureblood wife should look like, that it made Hermione suddenly feel underdressed and rather disgraceful.
But what stood out the most were her widened green eyes, and, for the first time, Hermione realised that she had absolutely no idea if Astoria even know about their relationship. Draco had never said anything to indicate one way or the other. Granted, Hermione certainly hadn't expected that he and Astoria mentioned such affairs to one another, but she had always imagined that she had to know one way or another. Didn't she?
The two witches stared at each other for a moment, both too shocked to move, much less say anything. Finally, Hermione came to her senses and mentally calmed herself. She kept her gaze on the younger witch, but didn't meet her eye.
"Astoria." She nodded, as if it were a normal, run-of-the-mill encounter.
It seemed to bring Astoria back to her senses as well, because a polite smile tugged at her lips. "Granger."
When she didn't respond further, Hermione took a deep breath and slipped past her and into the ballroom. She hated to leave Draco alone like that, but she had no other choice; if she stayed and tried to explain herself, it would only further complicate matters. She could only pray to Merlin that Astoria moved past it and forgot the entire thing. After all, it wasn't as if she was completely innocent herself; her own affair had been one of the leading matters to theirs. She wouldn't do anything. She couldn't do anything. It wasn't her place.
Still, Hermione couldn't help but notice a slight tension between the Malfoy couple for the remainder of the event.
The following Friday evening, she stared at her portkey, trying to figure out the answer. Did she take the portkey and keep her appointment with Draco or did she ignore it? The incident with Astoria certainly pointed to the latter, but it was also a very good reason for her to go. She needed talk to Draco about it. She needed to know where they stood and what had happened. Besides, he could easily disconnect the portkey if something were the matter. If it weren't safe for her to come, it would only take a swish of his wand to prevent her from coming. He was more than just a clever wizard, he was a conniving prat. For the most part, he knew exactly how to avoid trouble and so he would realise that disconnecting the portkey was the best move if it weren't a safe for her to come.
Her mind made, Hermione grabbed the portkey and not a moment too soon. She was almost immediately tugged away; had she hesitated a moment longer, she wouldn't have had the choice in whether or not to go. It would have activated without her and she would have been left behind. It was a moment, she would later realise, that would forever change her life.
She landed on her feet in the living room. For the last sixth months, ever since her return from their break-up (if you could really call it that), it had been the spot he had brought her to. But this time, unlike any other time, Draco wasn't standing and waiting for her; he didn't greet her. Instead, he sat on chair in front of the fireplace, his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands. Hermione instantly forgot everything – their last spat, Astoria's untimely appearance, all of her worries – and rushed to his side.
She crouched down in front of him. "Draco…" Her hands covered his, pulling them away from his face. When his eyes met hers, she fought back a gasp. They weren't red or puffy, as if he had been crying, but the emotion that flooded in them took her by surprise. The anger, the betrayal, the hurt. "What happened?"
"She's gone." It was only two words, eight letters, but, in that one moment, her entire life changed. "Astoria and Blaise. They left. For good."
Hermione had no idea how to respond. She hadn't ever allowed herself to even dream of this moment; it had always seemed so impossible for her. But here it was, as true as possible. She wanted to be happy, thrilled, but she couldn't. She was far too concerned about Draco and what this actually meant for him. The Malfoy-Greengrass union had been an important one for his family; they needed it, but now it was gone and it wasn't coming back.
"It's because of me, isn't it?"
He didn't answer her at first. She tried to search his eyes, but she couldn't find the answer and it frightened her. "No," he finally told her. "I think she has wanted to do this for some time now. This was just what she needed to actually do it."
This. She didn't ask him what it meant; she didn't need to. Astoria had been too concerned about Draco and his wellbeing to run off with Blaise. But they had slipped up and she had caught them. Now she knew that he wouldn't be alone if she left; that he had her. But still, Hermione couldn't help but be furious at the witch for doing it this way. For hurting Draco like this.
"She's already owled me the divorce papers. No doubt, it will be in the papers by morning." He explained.
"I'm sorry." She mumbled.
"I don't want your pity, Granger." He tried to pull his hands back, but her hold tightened.
Had it been any other situation, she would have been hurt. But, in that one moment, she knew he was scared and only trying to push her away. But she wasn't going anywhere. "It's not pity, Draco." She promised. "Honestly."
He stared at her for a minute, but finally he nodded. She felt his hands tighten around hers and a small, reassuring smile tugged at her lips. She wasn't sure what they would do now, how he or his family would recover from this, but, in that moment, she knew that she would be right there beside him. They would figure this out together.
Hermione awoke the next morning to a woman's loud gasp and she instantly felt Draco stir beside her. She looked up to find an elegant woman, no more than twenty years her senior, staring down at them with a horrified expression on her face. Even despite her black hair, the resemblance was all too clear; she had to be Astoria's mother.
"Stella!" Draco all but leaped out of the bed. "What are you doing here?"
"I awoke this morning to find a letter from my daughter explaining that she was getting a divorce and had run off with Blaise Zabini. I immediately came here to see if it were some sort of cruel joke; although, now that I'm here, I can clearly understand why she left." Her eyes narrowed at her.
Despite the fact that nothing had actually happened the previous night and that she was still fully clothed, Hermione instinctively held the blanket closer to her. There was something in the witch's eyes that made her feel naked.
Draco was in between the two of them instantly. "This isn't how it seems, Stella."
"Oh, I'm certain this is exactly how it seems, Draco." She didn't wait for his response. "This isn't the end of this." She told him, before she apparated out with a soft pop.
"Fuck!" He cursed. "Fuck, fuck, fuck." It was the first time Hermione had ever heard him use such language and it caught her by surprise for a second, but he didn't seem to notice.
"What do you need me to do?" She finally asked.
His eyes widened slightly, as if he had already forgotten she was there. "Go home and stay there." She opened her mouth to protest – how dare he say she do nothing? This scandal would affect her as much as him – but he cut her off. "I have to calm Stella down, but if she catches wind of you doing anything, she won't listen. It has to be me."
He was right; she would be the last person the Greengrass witch would want to see. Hermione could only imagine how the situation looked; she was probably more than ready to accuse Hermione of being the real reason Astoria had left. After all, she hadn't a clue what her daughter had been doing for the past, well, Merlin only knows how long. He was right and she knew she had to listen, but that didn't mean Hermione didn't hate it.
It was a delicate situation, so Hermione swallowed her pride and nodded. Draco stared at her for another moment, before he slowly nodded back, a small, but thankful smile on his lips. It was one of the few, rare smiles she had ever actually seen from him and it made her heart both skip and drop simultaneously. Because this, she realised, could very well be their last meeting, their last time, their very last moment.
It was suddenly difficult to breathe.
She was on her feet before she even realised it. She didn't care, though, and instinctively brushed her fingers against his cheek. He leaned into her touch ever so slightly; had she not been so close, she might not have even noticed. A sad smile tugged at her lips and she reached on the tips of her toes and brushed her lips against his. It was a small kiss, gentle and sweet, the type that were rare for them. Still, he responded and she was the one who had to pull back.
With all the strength she could muster, she took a step back. "I'll wait for your owl," she mumbled. And then, without another word, without giving Draco the chance to reply, she apparated away with a soft pop.
She landed in her living room and instantly collapsed to the floor with a soft thud. She took a large gasp, unable to breathe; tears blurred her vision and choked in the depths of her throat. She didn't fight the cry buried deep within her and, instead, let it all come crashing out at once.
Because, in that one moment, Hermione had never been quite so terrified.
We'll never see it coming
Until it's much too close to stop
My heartbeat beats me senselessly
Why's everything got to be so intense with me
I'm trying to handle all this unpredictability
Note: You thought I forgot about this fic, didn't you? Didn't you? Well, you're totally right, cause I completely forgot about it. Haha. The other day, after posting His Angel, I was talking to my brother about the differences between HHr and DHr and the shippers for each. This made me go back through my old DHrs and I found this one and well, ta-da! The first 1.7k were written while I was in Istanbul and the other 2k were written last weekend. I'm not going to even pretend that I remember the details of my original plan for this or that I've started the next chapter, but I remember the big details and I think I can improvise. I'm estimating the next chapter will be around 4.5k, so a bit longer than this one. We'll see though.
I'm sorry if this one doesn't flow with the other two as well, but, well, it's been a year and a half. Haha. My style has changed since then and I can't help somethings. Hopefully it's still alright.
This is for all of you who never gave up on Curiosity or Need. You guys are really amazing.