dedication: Sofia, Senja, and coketalk. You'll never see this, but IDC.
notes: instead of NaNoWriMo, this! BAHA.
title: with rainy eyes
summary: And maybe she would have a smile for him. — Draco/Hermione.
In the rubble of Wizarding society, they found each other.
It wasn't anything special. It was just a little thing—something that neither wanted but both needed in the clean-up of Voldemort's… Hermione didn't really have a word for what it had been. It had been a war and destruction and so much hatred; centuries of bigotry building up and up.
He hadn't been the first Dark Lord, and he wouldn't be the last.
She knew that.
But for now, the Wizarding world breathed a sigh of relief and began the long process of rebuilding—and the rehabilitation that came with it.
It was like a bill-board sign: the new Ministry of Magic was going to be tolerant. The new Ministry of Magic was going to be fair. The New Ministry Of Magic was going to be Right.
And Hermione understood, really, she did; she understood the need to put on a united front, but that was the farthest thing from what they were.
Harry was still grieving. It was a quiet grief.
Ron was still grieving. It was a loud grief.
And Hermione… well, Hermione grieved, too. She grieved for lost innocence and lost love—perhaps she grieved for lost friendship. She grieved for the dead and for Hogwarts, that place of great learning and great magic; the first place she'd ever felt like she'd belonged. May would always be a time of quiet contemplation. May would always be a time of left-over pain.
And so it was in the rubble of a healing world that Hermione Granger found Draco Malfoy.
Or maybe he found her.
She would never be sure of which one it was.
Maybe it was both.
Either way, it was a Monday in September, three and a half weeks after Hermione and Ron had broken up. She still couldn't place what for—for books or booze. It had been a mutual thing. They fought too much, and that summer had taught her that a relationship built solely on keeping someone alive was not something she wanted.
She was nineteen and wanted—needed—to be a little wild. The whole Wizarding world, she thought, needed to go a little bit crazy.
(After everything, anyway.
And they had. The summer had been a blur of construction and congratulations and everything else; it was all inter-changeable. She'd cried into Ginny's shoulder for so many hours, processing the world as it came and went, and trying to remember that she was only eighteen. She was only eighteen, and she'd just helped save the world.
There was nothing for it.
Going crazy was all that any one of them had left.)
But that Monday, Hermione had knotted her hair at the top of her head, and snuck out of the little flat she'd rented as silently as she could. Harry was asleep on the couch, his glasses on the night-table, and snoring softly.
Hermione shot him a fond look on her way out.
He came to her flat to escape the rigors of being the Chosen One; the Boy Who Triumphed; the Saviour—whatever it was the Prophet was calling him these days, Hermione knew that he came to her flat to hide from it. He came here to be Harry. Just Harry.
Hermione closed the door behind her with a gentle click.
The morning was misty and cool on her face. It felt like rain and though Hermione hadn't thought to bring a jacket, she didn't mind. She'd been caught in the rain before and the humidity had already frizzed her hair beyond belief. What would a little more water do, in the long run?
She pulled her jumper tighter around her frame, and walked.
London's streets were empty. Grey Mondays were either spent in a living room in front of the telly, lazing about with a steaming cup of tea or in an office, preparing for meetings with a steaming cup of tea. Grey Mondays always included tea, Hermione thought, but never walks through the streets. If it rained, it would only be more deserted.
Though, really, that was what she wanted.
For the longest time, she'd felt so crowded and so cornered that she could barely breathe. All through that terrible last year in that little tent with Harry-and-Ron and then just Harry and then Harry-and-Ron again… she'd been so trapped.
And there had been pain.
There had been so much pain, Hermione hadn't known if she'd even wanted to live through it.
But of course she had.
It wasn't in the fighting that Hermione was afraid; no, the fear did not come until much, much later. It was in the aftermath that the fear took hold. It was in the easy things: holding Ron's hand in front of a group of reporters. It was in dancing round and round the kitchen in the Burrow with Ginny like a pair of fourteen-year-olds without a care in the world. It was in accepting Order of Merlin, First Class, with her head bent and her curls in her face.
It was watching her parents' eyes go from blank, unrecognizing politeness, to understanding and rushing knowledge, then to mistrust. Fear.
And it would probably always be that.
Hermione couldn't even blame them.
But that was when the fear took hold. She hadn't had time to be scared when they were running through forests and throwing jinxes over their shoulders and looking for the bits of Voldemort's scattered soul. And so it was after that Hermione was scared.
She thought that going a little wild was fair, given everything that had happened.
Hermione walked through the streets, rubbing her arms through thin fabric, trying to catch some warmth. She counted her steps underneath her breath, eyes on the ground, and didn't pay attention to where she was going.
"Step on a crack, break your mother's back," she sang softly to herself, jumping over the spaces between concrete out of long habit; something engrained from a childhood that seemed farther and farther away with every passing day.
She looked up, and found herself at the quiet Mayfair entrance to Hyde Park.
Hermione brushed frizzy strands of hair out of her eyes and slipped beyond the gate. She stumbled along, chilled and lonely, but anonymous for once. She'd missed anonymity.
The river tumbled along in the distance. Hermione moved towards it even as the first drizzle of rain began. She leaned over the railing, pulled her hair from its bindings, and tipped her head back with her eyes closed.
All people would see was a too-skinny girl shivering in a wet shirt, maybe mourning a broken heart and standing in the rain like a movie. They would smile and think she was probably hovering at the edges of crazy, just an inch or so across the line between genius and insanity, though which side she belonged to they wouldn't know.
For a long time Hermione stood there, getting soaked in the rain and not even caring.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder. "Pardon me. I'm lost—"
There was a very odd feeling of her stomach dropping to her toes. Hermione knew that voice. She looked over her shoulder, and came face to face with a drenched, lost, annoyed Draco Malfoy.
He stared at her. The look on his face morphed from bothered to horrified in two-point-zero seconds, flat.
"Granger," he said, voice strained.
Hermione was already so close to the frayed edges of her patience. She was struck by the bizzare desire to laugh—Draco Malfoy, lost in Hyde Park in the middle of Muggle London? What?
"Hello, Malfoy. You look a bit like a drowned rat. How's life?"
It wasn't even an exaggeration. He did look like a drowned rat. He was pale and pointy as ever, and the fact that the rain had plastered his hair to his skull certainly didn't help his case at all. Hermione eyed him, waiting for the scathing rebuttal that was sure to come.
He didn't disappoint. "How do you think life is, Granger?"
"Lost, wet, probably cold, alone, ferrety, and bothering strange Muggle girls. You might as well give up now, Malfoy. Someone might think you're up to something and call the police."
"Control that nest on your head you call hair, Granger. It's looking to eat me. And—what?" he
Hermione's eyes narrowed to slits. "Never mind. What do you want? I'm not feeling very inclined to help you right now, Malfoy."
"I'm lost," he said again.
"I got that, thanks," Hermione smiled without humour. "So why are you bothering strange Muggle girls?"
He cast his gaze to the side and muttered something under his breath that Hermione didn't catch, but she had a sneaking suspicion that she knew exactly what he'd said. "Care to repeat that?"
"Nothing," he said.
For a minute, Hermione wondered what would happen if she punched him in the face. But she looked at him and she thought about it. He was lost and cold and tired and wet—trapped in Muggle London with no one for company in the rain.
It was sort of pathetic.
"You're hopeless, you know that?" she said. "You could have asked anyone—anyone—and you still manage to pick the only girl who wouldn't want to help you."
"I wasn't expecting you, Granger."
"Really," said Hermione. She pursed her lips at him.
"They're Muggles, Granger," he said, as if this ought to explain all the problems in the universe.
Of course, Hermione thought, to Draco Malfoy, this fact probably did explain all the problems in the universe. She sighed. "Yes, Malfoy. Muggles. One of which you are not. It's called Apparition. We use to move over vast spaces in a small amount of time—I'm sure you've heard of it?"
His left eye twitched.
Hermione felt the satisfaction deep in her bones.
"I like walking, Granger," he said.
"Do you even know how you got here?" she asked.
It was probably the most desolate thing she'd ever heard him say. She wanted to laugh and punch him and maybe just leave him to the mercy of the surrounding Muggles all at once. But then, she thought, leaving Draco Malfoy to harass strange Muggles probably wasn't the best thing she'd ever thought to to—it would be funny, but cruel.
"Come on, then," she said.
He stared at her.
Hermione tapped her foot, impatient. "Look, Malfoy, if you want me to help you out of here, you'd better stop staring at me like I'm—something that doesn't exist. Or something."
"Or something," he echoed.
"Or something," Hermione repeated. Her teeth chattered, shivering in wet clothes and lips turning blue.
"You look cold," he said.
"I am," replied Hermione.
He shrugged. He was pasty and pointy and Hermione really didn't like him, but he was also pathetic and sad and so she shrugged in return and pointed to a pair of wrought-iron gates that seemed far, far away.
"That way, Malfoy."
He nodded, and they walked.
Not far enough.
And that was how Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy found each other, though it was anyone's guess as to who was doing the saving.
/ / /
"Granger. Granger. Wake up."
The voice was fuzzy and from far away.
Hermione opened her eyes blearily and blinked up at the pale, pointy person looming over her. He looked a bit panicked. She told him so.
"I thought you were dead," said Malfoy.
"Obviously, Malfoy, I am a zombie," said Hermione. "Let me eat your brains."
He didn't get it.
"You've got the Prophet all over your face."
"So do you," Hermione replied, even though he didn't. She was tired and had dreamt of fire and flashes of green—she still had nightmares, sometimes.
But it was getting better.
Hermione rubbed at her cheek and came away with ink all over her fingers. She blinked at them then up at Malfoy then back down at her fingers and then—"Oh. That's what you meant."
"Yes, Granger, that's what I meant."
Hermione didn't believe him for a second.
/ / /
Christmas came and went.
The world became a flurry of white in late November and lasted all the way through to the dead cold of February, but it was in January that Hermione next saw Draco Malfoy.
(Really it was December, but it was New Year's Eve, and Hermione had always counted that as January anyway.)
It was in the glitz and glimmer of a Ministry Ball that she saw him—a mandatory one, at that. The New Ministry of Magic that was Good and Right and Tolerant (and all those other horrible lies) demanded it, though why they thought they had any right to demand anything from her was beyond Hermione.
She would never trust them any more than any other War veteran would.
She stood between Harry and Ron because together they were better at fending off questions than Unforgivable curses were, and it was okay that way. She sipped bubbly golden champagne, smiling politely and warning the too-eager reporters sweetly away from her boys.
Hermione wanted to dig her nails into her face to escape, but she was expected to behave; she was the brains of the three of them. She was level-headed and careful and the least likely to explode.
(That was always the problem with behaving.)
Draco Malfoy wore black on the eve of the death of the year; they matched. Hermione thought it was very fitting that they stood across the room from each other, trapped in their respectable conversations with respectable boring people.
She looked at him over the top of the flute of champagne that dangled from her fingertips. Her hair was wild around her face and her eyes were dark, and she felt so very out of place, even between two of the few people she still really trusted.
"I'm going for a walk," she told them.
"Don't get lost," said Ron.
Hermione rolled her eyes, smiled, and walked the floor.
She was both predator and prey, stalking through the whirl of expensive dress robes and expensive other things; yards and yards of multi-coloured chiffon, taffeta, silk swirled around her as the other invitees danced the night away. She looked at him through her lashes but didn't smile.
"Malfoy," said Hermione.
"Granger," said Malfoy. He inclined his head a very little bit. It was almost a nod, but almost not, as well.
Her lips might have curved up.
"Not bothering strange Muggle girls, are we, Malfoy?"
He sneered. "Why would you do that, Granger? You are a strange Muggle girl."
And now she did smile, but it was cruel ad cold and Hermione thought that maybe he had waited for this as much as she had; the opportunity to fight someone with words was very different than fighting someone with magic. It was rarer and more vicious, and oh, Hermione had missed it.
(No one wanted to argue with the Boy Who Lived's best friend.)
"At least I don't get lost in Hyde Park. I'm sure your mother would have approved."
His eyes flashed and she wondered if he wanted to hit her.
It would break the monotony of this party if he hit her, for sure.
Hermione found herself hoping he lost control of himself. Anything would be better than the incessant nagging feeling at the back of her throat like maybe she was losing it or something. Probably not, though.
He spoke through his teeth. "Don't bring my mother into this, Granger."
She cocked her hip out. "Mama's boy, Malfoy? I never would have guessed."
And it was funny and sick and a lot of other things, but none of them were good and the whole thing was edged with pain and regret and hey, they'd fought a war against each other—this kind of fuckery should have been nothing new to either of them. But it was and it didn't hurt even though it probably should have. Hermione grit her teeth and waited for him to say something.
He stepped into her personal space. "And I never would have guessed you couldn't control your mouth."
Hard-edged pain, burning under her ribcage. Hermione hated him.
"You disgust me," she said.
"Good," he replied.
"Want to go for a walk?"
"Any excuse, Granger?"
"Any," she said.
She tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and felt him wince. She didn't need to wonder what Harry and Ron thought—she was sure that the both of them would give her an earful on being careful when she got back, but Hermione didn't—she didn't—
She couldn't explain to them her need to be crazy.
Harry would understand.
Ron… well, Ron would get it eventually.
"Everyone's staring," Hermione whispered through her fingers.
He might have actually shrugged. "Let them stare, Granger."
She fixed him with a beady glare. "Malfoy, if you start spouting romantic rubbish at me, I will not hesitate to stab you with my shoe."
He glanced down at the spiky heels she was wearing, shuddered, and wisely chose to say nothing.
They passed by the Aurors stationed at the door. Dawlish stared balefully at them both and Hermione smothered giggles as they slipped out into the courtyard. It was freezing cold and Hermione mumbled out a Warming Charm under her breath. She didn't even need her wand.
The warmth fell over her like a blanket. She fished through her clutch for the pack of Malboros that hid from her searching fingers out of spite. She got a hold of them, pulled them out and flicked a lighter. The flame was little and bright in the night, and she dragged in.
A moment later, she exhaled smoke in a slow stream.
Hermione shrugged too-skinny shoulders. She still wasn't back to her normal weight—she could still count her ribs. The War had taken its toll on all of them.
"My cousin," she said. "Her fault. Only sometimes, though. When I'm—"
"Stressed," he completed the sentence.
The red tip of the cigarette flared in the darkness as she breathed in. Another exhale. "Want to try it?"
He counted her breaths—one in, one out, two in, two out—and took the cigarette from her fingers. It was small and white and smoking and Hermione watched him raise it to his lips to breathe the smoke into his lungs.
He nearly hacked up a lung, coughing and choking to get it out of his body. Bent over, he looked a very bit green and she couldn't contain herself. Hermione laughed and laughed. Malfoy looked at her like she'd gone mad, still choking on the smoke in his lungs.
She slid to the ground and laughed 'til she very nearly cried; there was an edge of hysteria in her voice. Her dress soaked up the snow.
Malfoy didn't say anything.
They stayed that way for a long time; Malfoy stared down at Hermione stared down at the ground. Finally, he turned on his heel to leave.
"Hey, Malfoy," said Hermione.
He turned to look at her over his shoulder.
"Thanks," she said.
He blinked once, nodded, and then went inside.
/ / /
It really was a little thing. The world was slowly rebuilding, Hermione knew; a year minus twenty days, and so little and yet so much had been accomplished. It would always be like that. Probably.
Currency and clockwork; they dealt in dregs and leftovers, bits and pieces of string and sealing wax, and other fancy stuff. He sometimes brought her a cup of too-sweet tea in the mornings and maybe she would have a smile for him.
"Hey, Malfoy," she said one day.
The sky was white with cloud-cover, blue coming through in patches.
"What do you want, Granger?"
"Are we friends?" she asked.
It was a stupid question and he looked at her like she'd grown wings and was pecking at the ground like a chicken. Hermione stared at him patiently in the little corner of the world that they'd taken for themselves; a Muggle coffee shop because he seemed to like Muggle places.
Malfoy seemed to think about it for a moment.
Then he smirked wickedly. "You tell me."
Hermione wrinkled her nose at him. "That's not how friendship works. Either we are or we aren't. Your choice."
She wanted to know if she was wasting her time.
Malfoy sat down beside her in the squishy chair that she hated and raised a single pale eyebrow at her. Hermione thought it was distinctly unfair that he could do that—she couldn't, and he did it enough that sometimes she just wanted to hurt him because she was probably the single person in the world who couldn't properly raise one eyebrow independently of the other.
She didn't say anything about that, though.
Hermione stared. "I'm waiting."
Malfoy rolled grey eyes to the ceiling and ignored her entirely. He stood up and went to the counter to order something.
She was outraged.
He came back with a cup of too-sweet tea and set it in front of her. Hermione glared at it.
"I hate you," she said.
Malfoy also ignored this entirely.
"Yes, Granger," he said. "We are friends. Drink your tea."
"I hate you," said Hermione again.
"No, you don't. Drink your tea."
"I am going to kick you," she told him. "In the face."
It was not delicate or ladylike at all. Malfoy made a strangled sound at the back of his throat and his eyes bulged and Hermione thought of that time when he'd smoked a cigarette and nearly choked to death. The thought made her snicker into the open Arithmancy book in her lap.
She sipped her tea.
"Okay," said Hermione. "We can be friends."
/ / /
The day before The Anniversary, Hermione sat in her flat as Ginny ran her fingers through her hair.
"Do you ever think you and Ron'll get back together?"
Hermione shrugged noncommittally.
Ginny smiled in a knowing way. "Not with Malfoy around, am I right?"
"It's not like that, Gin," Hermione said, softly.
"Of course it isn't," said Ginny, nodding. "I believe you entirely."
"Sarcasm duly noted," Hermione said, dryly.
Ginny looked at her hard, in the mirror on the vanity. They'd been friends a very long time, the two girls; not as long as Harry-Ron-Hermione, but it was a different sort of friendship, anyway.
Red hair fell in a sleek waterfall over Ginny's shoulder as she tipped her head. Hermione was irrationally envious.
"Why him, Hermy? Out of everyone. Malfoy."
"Malfoy," Hermione repeated, and maybe she was caught up in the wonder of it, too. She really didn't know. "He's… I don't know, Gin. He's just different."
"Different than Ron and Harry," Ginny said what Hermione had not wanted to.
The strange thing is that she knows that Ginny gets it—maybe not all of it, because, well, Ginny is Ginny and she's a Weasley first and foremost and hey, she's in love with Harry Potter. Not liking Draco Malfoy sort of came with the territory, but they'd all come so far in such a short amount of time that Hermione thought that maybe it would be okay.
Ginny wrapped her arms around Hermione's neck from behind; tough and milk-pale, freckled and warm. She rested her head on Hermione's shoulder and caught her eye in the mirror. Brown and brown; they had like eyes.
"Don't call me that," Hermione insisted.
"Hermy," Ginny repeated, stubborn. "Listen to me. You're still my favourite. Even if you want to date ferrets, you're still my favourite. No matter what."
She didn't shove her away. She sighed, maybe a little sadly, maybe a little tiredly; maybe something or other. Hermione twined her fingers through Ginny's, tipped her head back, and thought of rain.
/ / /
Hermione didn't go to the Anniversary Ceremony.
The New Ministry wasn't even holding it at Hogwarts.
She scoffed at it all.
Instead, she sat in the little kitchen in her flat with Harry and Ron and together, the three of them drank awful coffee and ate burnt scones. They both looked fondly at her cooking, terrible as it was. All three of them ate everything there was, because it was stable and easy and they were friends, the three of them. They were best friends.
It was better than nothing, and better than War, too.
Hermione had had enough War to last a lifetime.
"I think I'm dating Malfoy," she said into her cup. She kept her eyes down because really, she didn't want to see what their reactions were going to be.
"Ginny told us," said Harry, not unkindly.
Hermione waited for Ron's outburst, because there had to be at least one. There was always at least one, with Ronald. She looked up and tried not to wince as he chomped violently on the black edge of a scone.
"I don't like him, Hermione. I won't ever like him."
Hermione took a great deep breath to begin arguing, but Ron held up a hand to halt her speech in its tracks. "But," he said, "If you're… okay, then… so am I."
She didn't have anything to say.
For a minute, they all drank their coffee in her butter-yellow kitchen. It was one of those quietly comfortable moments between long-time friends that trusted each other implicitly.
Hermione smiled into the sun.
/ / /
The storm was already well on its way to being one of the worst Hermione had ever seen. It was dark out at two in the afternoon, not black as night but close, and she stared up at the clouds in delight.
A summer rainstorm, then.
Harry was snoring on the couch. A cup of lukewarm tea sat precariously on the edge of the coffee table. Hermione dipped her finger into the tepid liquid, made a face, and went to move it to the kitchen; it would be safer there, where Harry couldn't accidentally flail in his sleep and knock it over.
She looked out the kitchen window for a long moment.
Her little kitchen was warm and safe.
And yet… and yet…
Hermione set the cup in the sink. The clink of china against metal was a harsh sound in her ears. She stepped back once, twice, and headed for the door of her flat, hair flying behind her in a frizz of curls.
No one needed to know she'd gone—really, they all knew where she would go. It wasn't even their business, anyway.
Hermione walked through the streets without an umbrella, a tightness in her heart and in her eyes that maybe didn't belong in the lines of a nineteen-year-old's face. Heart-sick and home-sick and sick to her stomach, she wandered through the murky, wet summer heat in a daze.
Fairy-lights and fairy-fights, and Hermione had been wild and free, dancing with Ginny and kissing forbidden boys at mandatory parties and now—
Now she tripped and stumbled and was falling headlong into something that might have been called love with Draco Malfoy, though currently she was headed for the ground.
Hermione lay there on the pavement with her hair spread around her as the first drops started to fall.
"Granger, what are you doing?"
"Looking at the sky," said Hermione. She spread her arms out. "It's nice. You should try it, sometime."
Malfoy moved closer and goggled down at her.
"Stop looking at me like I'm barmy, Malfoy."
"Beaver, Granger. You look like a beaver," he said. He shook his head at her and Hermione rolled her eyes. She sat up.
"Are you going to help me up, then?" asked Hermione.
Malfoy reached down to pull her to her feet, but Hermione had gravity and surprise on her side. Malfoy's knees crashed painfully into the pavement and she giggled when he hissed in pain.
"There. Better now," she said, linking their fingers together, and pulling him back down to the sidewalk.
Malfoy continued to hiss obscenities under his breath.
"Are you mad, woman?" he demanded.
Hermione thought about it. "Possibly. Sky. Look. Now."
She lay back down, tugging Malfoy with her. He grumbled and grumbled, 'til he rolled over and slipped an arm underneath her head. He looked at her with rainy eyes and second tries and maybe most of the good things in the world.
Hermione smiled upwards, and pretended not to notice.
notes2: what… even… did I just write…
notes3: please don't Favourite without leaving a review! :)