A/N: Here's an update! I've honestly been working very hard on this story and I hope that you guys are enjoying it. Let me know what you think so far, it's hard to continue when I don't have criticism to go off of. But thank you to those who flagged this story as an alert or favorite, you guys are awesome. Thank you.
Hermione burst into the nearest bathroom and stood in front of one of the gigantic mirrors, examining her face. There was just a small spot on her cheekbone that had turned an odd shade of maroon. She sniffled and wiped her face, not even noticing that she ruptured into tears on the way to the bathroom.
Carefully, she reached up to brush her finger over the bruise, wincing a little as she did so. It was tender, and even blinking made it hurt a little. Cursing herself for not covering it up before she left, she mustered up some courage before striding back to the table and gathering her belongings. She was not going to let this get to her.
"Are you all right?" Harry asked, concerned. Hermione blew a strand of hair out of her face before turning to him and smiling convincingly.
"I'm fine," she replied politely, looking over at Ron. He stared at her fearfully. "I forgot about the summary due in Potions, I should probably start that. I'll see you two later."
"Are you sure everything is fine?" Ron inquired further, even as Hermione had already turned around to walk away.
"Yes, Ron. I'm perfectly okay." This time, her tone was a little more demanding. Ron looked a little surprised at her sudden pitch, but he dropped it. They grew silent for a bit; the tension in the air was thick as mud. "Anyway… I'll see you."
She didn't wait for a response. Walking fast, she headed towards her dormitory, eager to sit down and take a breather from everything. She prayed that her male counterpart was somewhere else.
Meanwhile, Draco was lounging around in the common room. Having skipped breakfast, he was feeling rather sick, but he had so much on his mind that he couldn't deal with his cronies today, or Pansy. Truthfully, he didn't even feel that hungry, anyway.
What does that stupid Mudblood think she's doing, he thought to himself, looking through my personal stuff like that? He had been sitting in a lofty chair in the common room for the past ten minutes, restlessly tapping his fingers upon the plush armrest. Angrily, he stood and walked around, passing the crackling fire in the fireplace and the snow covered window on the other side of the room. His mind was reeling with unsolvable thoughts. What did she read, exactly?
"The nerve of that girl!" he shouted to himself, hearing a small echo following. She had no right to be even near his room, let alone in it. He didn't know what to do with her. Almost as if on cue, the common room door swung open to reveal Hermione. As soon as she saw Draco, her face dropped. For a moment, she considered turning around and leaving, or keeping her head down and walking to her room.
"Speak of the devil," he muttered to himself.
She had no idea what he said, but just his mere presence drove her wild. She couldn't just sit there and deal with the fact that he hit her, she was too angry to do that.
"What was that, Malfoy?" she asked bitterly. He was taken aback for a few moments, not expecting her to say anything to him.
"Don't worry about it, Granger," he replied smoothly. "Why are you here so early? Came to snoop around in my room some more?" His voice dripped of venom, and it frightened her a bit.
"Don't be silly," she told him, her voice low and growling. "I wouldn't want to risk being struck again." Her response was harsh. Again, he was taken aback… so much so, that he couldn't respond. She was playing the guilty card.
Finally, he replied, "Just don't go through my stuff."
"Now that I know the consequences, I'm positive I won't be anywhere near your room," she replied icily before she left him in shock on the couch. She huffed out of the common room and decided to get going to Potions. No harm in being early.
However, Draco wasn't so sure about class at the moment. There were only two days until Christmas break, which meant he would be going home again. He groaned at the thought, and decided against going to class. Just thinking about going back to that wretched mansion made him want to throw up.
Plus, what she had just said greatly perturbed him. One part of him was rather shocked that she was actually retaliating. He had expected her to shy away from him and just avoid him, but it seemed as though she had no problem telling him how she felt. He would never dare stand up to his father like that.
For a second, he felt tears collect in their ducts. Grumbling, he blinked furiously, trying to make them disappear. "Never let anyone see you defenseless, even yourself," his father would tell him. As much as he detested the man, the saying was subconsciously his motto.
But now was the time that he felt more vulnerable than ever. Hermione was on the verge to finding out his secret, if she was that smart. But of course she was smart enough, after all, she could figure out practically any problem given to her. He gulped in frustration, hoping that she didn't read very much of the journal.
The day passed by slowly for both Draco and Hermione. Their minds were both somewhere else entirely. Draco had spent the day sitting in the common room, thinking about his trip tomorrow. Just the thought of it sent a chill up his spine and an ache in his stomach. Fitfully, he grabbed a book off the bookshelf and thumbed through it, trying to find something to catch his attention.
Hermione, on the other hand, was thinking about that diary. She wanted to know more, despite telling Draco she would go nowhere near his room. But she was almost positive that he would be going back to the Malfoy Manor for Christmas, so maybe she would take a quick look…
Later that night, she headed back to her room from the Great Hall. Cautiously, Hermione entered the common room disheveled and exhausted. The only thing she looked forward to was her soft bed and comfy pajamas. She passed by Draco, still motionless in the common room, in the same spot he was. He sneered, but she looked away. Nothing, not even an argument with Draco, could stop her from flopping onto her bed and catching some sleep.
The next morning was a dull one. The usual welcoming sun was hidden behind a blanket of dark gray clouds that cast a shadow over the castle. Light snow drifted from them calmly and quietly. One look out the window, and Draco knew it was going to be a dreadful day.
Quickly, he grabbed his small suitcase filled with clothes and made his way out of his dormitory. It was about 7:30 AM, he was sure that Hermione would not be awake yet. Why would she be?
As soon as his door clicked, another one opened. She emerged, drained and rumpled with a large towel and some clothes in her arms. Yawning, she looked at Draco and cocked her head to the side, her hand just barely touching the knob to the bathroom.
"Are you leaving?" she croaked, looking down at his small suitcase.
"Yeah…" he replied regretfully, looking down at his feet. In seconds, his hard face returned, and he looked at her very, very sternly. "Mind your own business while I'm gone." His voice came out small, but threatening. She nodded slightly while watching him disappear out the door, slamming it shut behind him. Finally, he was gone.
Sighing to herself, she pushed open the door to the shower. It would feel good to be away from him for a while.
Draco had made it all the way to the train station before he stopped and took a breather. He looked up at the train and pictured what his whole Christmas break would be like… yelling, locking himself in his room, staring at that empty dinner table chair… he gulped.
"Last call for the 8:30 trip!" the conductor called. He stuffed his shaking hands in his pockets and wondered what his father would do if Draco never showed up.
As soon as Hermione stepped out of the shower, she whipped her hair up in a towel and threw on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. As much as she would have loved to go home for the holidays, her parents were never too big on the whole "Christmas" thing. So she was heading to the Burrow with Ron, Ginny and Harry. Her parents insisted on it.
Thankfully, they weren't heading out until the next day, so Hermione had loads of time to pack and laze around without having to deal with Draco popping up behind every corner, sneering at her. But still, she felt a small tugging in her stomach. Draco's door was practically beckoning her towards it.
After about an hour of reading, she finally slammed the book down on the shined, wood table and headed towards his door. Cautiously, she grasped the handle and twisted it a tiny bit.
"Ah," she said aloud as she heard a teeny click from the knob. Of course it was locked. She laughed at herself for even thinking about snooping as she backed away and went back to her usual spot. Her suspicion continued to prod her, though.
It was probably nothing, she thought to herself. Maybe he wrote something rather personal in the journal and later decided to scribble over it.. But still… it was so vehemently scratched out that one could see the quill marks for more than ten pages after that entry.
"What made him so angry?" she said to herself, setting a bookmark in the spine. Without thinking, she stood and stared at the door, wondering how securely he had locked the door. Cautiously, she slipped into her room and grabbed her wand off the bureau. Tip-toeing down the hallway, she just barely touched the tip of her wand on the knob.
"Alohamora," she whispered. A sharp click sounded, and she happily opened door. He must have been pretty distracted this morning, to leave his precious room so lazily guarded. Closing the door deftly behind her, she scoured the room for the journal, while making sure not to touch a thing. Who knew what cursed items he hid in here. Again, she grasped her wand and said, "Accio journal."
The gold-paged journal came flying out from under the bed. She snorted a little to herself, unsure of why she didn't think to look under there. Scrambling, she opened up to the page with the scribbles.
A chill shot up her spine, the memories of the last time she had see this journal flooded back into her head. The look on Draco's face, the beet red color of his skin. She shuddered, but continued nonetheless. The next page was also scratched out. But there were a few words that she could manage to make out.
"…afraid. … not usually … fearful person... Nothing… that's what … …. everyone to see… But …. ….hit close to home…... …..s the time you realize ….. is cruel…. realize … there …. always be bad. When you realize everything changes."
The rest of the page was filled with more scribbles. She turned more pages, seeing if there was any other content in the diary. There was nothing. Flipping back to that page, she studied the words hard. Everything changes? What could that mean?
Just from looking at the jagged strain in his quill strokes, Hermione could clearly tell he was in agony when he wrote this. Although she could only see a few words, they shook her a little bit. Goosebumps rolled up her arms as she slid the book back under the bed. Observing the room, she looked to see if she could find anything else… but the room was spotless. Just like before, except for a sock lying on the bed. She didn't neglect to notice that the picture frame of his family was nowhere to be found.
It wasn't a complete failed attempt. Although she had no idea what any of it meant yet. But seeing as how there was nothing left to investigate, she left his room and made her way back to the common room to pick up where she left off on her book. At least it felt nice being alone, she thought.
"No welcome back party, hm?" a voice snarled from the door just a few moments later. Hermione almost jumped off the couch, the book fell from her hands to her lap. There stood Draco, his suitcase in hand and infamous sneer on his face. His black winter coat had speckles of snow on it, and his usual pale nose was dotted bright red.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, voice coated in disbelief. She was looking forward to at least one day without him. That plan sure did fail.
"Not happy to see me, eh?" he replied, with a smirk. No, no, that wasn't a smirk. Was that a… smile? Hermione stared at him in confusion, for just an hour before he was storming out the door after warning her not to look at his things. Airily, he continued, "Father canceled. Some sort of meeting, he said."
Hermione narrowed her eyes. That didn't sound right.
"Oh really? What kind of meeting?" she asked.
"How in the hell am I supposed to know, Granger? Mind your own damn business," he growled, returning to his usual self. But something was off. He didn't seem as grumpy as before. Sighing, he plopped onto a nearby chair. Why did he always have to do that while she was reading? It was impossible for her concentrate with him in the room, let alone when he was staring at her.
"You never stop reading, do you?" he ridiculed.
"Not if you keep interrupting me," came her simple reply. Draco 'hmph'ed and crossed his arms like a child. Hermione just merely laughed to herself and tried again to concentrate on the sentence before her. Draco sat still, staring off into space. She wondered why he didn't just go into his room if he wasn't doing anything important, but she decided not to worry about it. Maybe, he secretly wanted company. No, she thought to herself. What a ridiculous notion.
She had nearly finished the fifteenth chapter when a sleek, gray owl swooped onto the snowy sill of a window across the room. Both Draco and Hermione looked up, she from her book and he from his nap. Hermione almost stood to retrieve the note but she saw Draco shoot up from his chair and warily make his way to the owl. She watched him carefully, noticing the stiffness of his once composed posture.
He carefully untied the note from the owl and watched it fly away. He looked over at Hermione, who pretended to read, but when he turned around had her full attention on him.
Draco read the note carefully. The familiar knot in his stomach tightened, he almost felt like rushing to the bathroom.
It has come to my attention that you did not board the scheduled train. The next one arrives at 1:30, and I expect you to be on it. Tardiness is unacceptable.
Draco clutched onto his stomach. He knew there would be consequences for skipping that train, but everything inside him told him not to go. He just couldn't be in that house again. He could feel the color drip from his face as the bile rose in his throat.
"Malfoy?" Hermione's voice cut the silence. He looked over at her, face etched with worry. He swallowed hard and glared at her.
"What do you want?" His voice sounded like he was trying to sound foul, but it was miserably unsuccessful.
"Nothing, never mind," she grumbled, looking back down on her book. She knew there was no way to get any information out of him now, not after getting caught looking through his things before. Stillness filled the room once more, but Draco stayed where he was, seemingly reading the note over and over again. Hermione was itching to find out what it was.
"Granger," he finally said, voice cracked. And he stared at her with pleading eyes, feeling the lump in his throat grow by an inch. She looked up at him, willing him to go on. "I... I'm afraid."
A/N: Sorry for the late update. I hope this is a good chapter; I spent a decently long time on it! I know it was a bit slow, but the next chapter won't be, I promise. Let's just say we're going to get to see Lucius in action again. Let me know what you thought!