...in which questions are answered and deals are made.
A/N: I know it's been a while since I updated, but I've not abandoned this story for all those who have asked. It's just difficult to find time to write and I was rather stuck about where to direct it as I usually just write as I go. But i think I know how this is going to end, and I think it's getting close. I'm not really sure how I feel about this chapter because I changed my mind so much about it, but I hope you like it. Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping me hit 1000 follows :)
Two weeks passed slowly at Hogwarts, and it may as well have been pointless. It seemed that no progress was being made anywhere. Hermione, despite her frequent meetings with the headmaster, was no closer to regaining her memories. Draco was falling deeper and deeper into his own silent void of depression, and Blaise felt like he was caught in the middle. Not to mention he and Luna were going nowhere fast.
He was currently sitting alone in the library, attempting to finish an assignment that wasn't due til next week. It was the only thing he could do to occupy his mind. Draco was still mad about the incident with Hermione, and to top it off, Hermione was avoiding all of them.
Blaise had always been calm and collected, but he was about ready to snap and lock both of them in a room together. The fact that he thought that wasn't a half bad idea frightened him a little.
He stretched, and eyed the clock on the wall. It was 8:30. Quidditch practise would be over, and Potter and Draco would be back in the dorms. At least he could go talk to Potter; Draco wasn't much in the mood for talking to people lately.
Even Hermione. Draco had seemingly given up all attempts to speak to her. Every time they passed in the corridors, he would turn his head to the ground. Blaise had always noticed a tell-tale blush on his cheeks. He was embarrassed about the whole incident. He didn't blame Draco really. He'd poured his heart out, only to have Hermione reject him. Not that he really should have expected any different.
It worried Blaise, though; the summer holidays were quickly approaching, and the more distance that grew between everybody, the more he worried it would be permanent. Even if Hermione didn't remember, he should at least try to build an amicable relationship with her now, not just wait on her memories to return, if they did return.
Blaise sighed, before deciding that his mind was running far too wild to concentrate on any school work. He stood from his secluded table, grabbing his things into his bag. He moved through the row of shelves that made up the towering library. He had just made his way toward the doors, when he halted in his steps. At the library desk, he could see the back of a head of bushy hair. It was unmistakeably Hermione.
"Please, Madame Pince. I just need this one book to finish off my Transfiguration essay. Just this one." She begged in hushed tones. Her foot was tapping on the floor impatiently. She was clearly in a rush.
The librarian sighed, looking apologetic. "I'm sorry Miss Granger, but you're at your borrowing limit. You must return a book before you can get it. Can't you just sit here and read it?"
Hermione looked around as if she were expecting to be pounced on by anyone at any second.
"Given the current situation, I haven't exactly been as keen to socialise..." she said, looking slightly embarrassed.
The librarian sighed again. "I really can't let you have the book, dear..."
Blaise strode forward. "I'll borrow it." He said to the librarian. He noticed Hermione freeze as he spoke. He was clearly one of the people she was hoping to avoid.
The librarian looked uncertain. "You can't borrow on another student's behalf."
"It's for me," he said quickly, "I need it for an assignment".
The librarian eyed him for a moment, before picking up the book and waving her wand at her list of borrowed books. It appeared under his name.
Hermione looked annoyed.
"Sorry, dear," sitting the book in front of Blaise, "but if another student needs it, I can't hold onto it for you."
Hermione merely nodded, and briskly headed for the door. Blaise grabbed the book and followed after her quickly.
He attempted to move in front of her as she strode along quickly, but she kept diverting him. Eventually he grabbed her arm and pulled her to a halt. It was a big mistake. Her hand swung back and slapped him across the face. He stood, staring at her with a flabbergasted expression.
"You just hit me." He said, shocked, as he held his hand to his throbbing cheek.
"You touched me inappropriately." She said simply, though she looked as though she were worried he might hit her back.
Blaise sputtered indignantly. "I was trying to stop you! Here, take your damn book," he shoved the thick tome in her arm.
Her face softened into one of surprise. "Why are you giving it to me?" She asked, staring at the cover.
"Because you need it." He said, still feeling slightly annoyed, "And because at one point, we were friends and that's the sort of thing I would have done for you, even if you don't remember it."
She didn't reply, but merely looked away.
"Why are you avoiding everyone?" he asked, noticing how distraught she looked. "I haven't seen you outside of class. I suppose it's because you've been sneaking around. I mean, I knew you were antisocial, but this is something else."
She looked slightly embarrassed. "It's none of your business."
He scoffed. "Of course it's not. We were friends, and you were dating my best friend who happens to love you, so yeah, I can see how it all has nothing to do with me."
She narrowed her eyes. "That means nothing to me, because I don't remember it. Why do you think I'm avoiding people? I'm sick of them constantly getting annoyed at me for things I don't recall. Of course I don't want to acknowledge the fact that I was supposedly in love with the biggest git around. It not only hurts my pride, but also makes me question my intelligence to think that he managed to fool me!" She was breathing heavily by the end of her rant, and Blaise knew it was probably the most honest thing she'd said in a while.
He watched her for a moment, wondering how she could possibly have come to that conclusion.
"You weren't stupid for falling for him, Hermione." He explained, "Draco didn't trick you. If anything, you both had a very...odd relationship. You fought like hell, and were constantly inadvertently insulting one another, but you could tell, just by the way he looked at you, and you at him, that deep down you thought so highly of each other. You have it wrong in your head. He never smooth talked you, or romanticised you. You just fell for his twattiness, and he fell for your stubborn, nerdy nature. Simple as that."
Hermione stared at him, as though she didn't know what to say.
"I find it hard to believe that I would let Draco Malfoy insult me and not hate him for it." She said after a moment. Blaise shrugged.
"His insults became light hearted endearments. He once told me that all the things he ever said he hated you for, was why he actually liked you so much."
"Even my blood?" She said, challenging him. He faltered slightly, and she scoffed.
"See? This is a pointless conversation."
"He stopped caring about your blood. He worked past his prejudices for you." Blaise said quickly.
"I wouldn't be with someone who was born and bred to despise me, Blaise. That is why I must have been stupid to be with him."
She turned quickly and kept walking, not giving Blaise a chance to reply. He wanted to kick himself; he'd walked straight into that one. But he supposed, given what she knew, or didn't know, that she had a point.
By the time he made it back to the dungeons, he was in a foul mood, and he wasn't the only one. His two friends sat on their respective beds, looking just as happy as Blaise.
No one spoke as he sat on his bed. "What's going on?"
Potter turned to him. "Lucius Malfoy has set a date for Draco to marry Pansy."
Blaise turned to see Draco staring blankly at the ceiling; he looked like he was elsewhere.
"When?" Blaise asked, turning back to Potter.
"A month." Potter replied.
And suddenly it all became so real.
Apparently, after Draco's outburst at Pansy, not to mention his current odd behaviour, Lucius Malfoy had made sure there would be nothing to hold up the coupling of two very perfectly matched person's. He had set the wedding for the first week of the summer holidays. A Friday, to be exact. They would wed in front of hundreds of high society purebloods, with expensive canapé's and wine. Then they would leave for their honeymoon to Paris. It was all sickeningly romantic for something that contained no romance at all. An arranged marriage, where there was a likely chance that no happiness would ever be found.
The news was all over school within two days. Blaise felt sorry for Draco; it was one thing to have your engagement announced, but even worse to have the wedding date revealed. He did notice a few pitying stares from the males around the school.
It seemed that the news was also the talk of the wizarding world. Two powerful, wealthy pureblood families joining forces was seen to be an extremely important event for politics. It was, Blaise supposed, but Draco didn't seem to like the number of congratulatory letters he was receiving from many of his fathers' business partners and acquaintances. He didn't receive many when the engagement was announced, which meant only one thing; this was really happening.
"Do you care?" Ginny asked, turning to Hermione. The latter was staring at the Slytherin table; she'd been watching the numerous amount of owls land and drop of dozens of letters to Malfoy. She looked away quickly.
"Of course not," She said quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly.
Ginny continued to watch her, scanning her in a way that might Hermione slightly nervous. "It doesn't look that way."
Hermione sighed. This was why she had been avoiding people. "I've been told I'm in love with him, I'm just wondering if I should care."
Ginny scoffed, flicking her hair back. "Of course you shouldn't! He's a git and he doesn't deserve you. He deserves to spend his miserable life with someone as equally miserable. Besides, you don't even remember being in love with him." She shrugged as if that were that.
Hermione sighed impatiently. "What if I do remember one day, Ginny? What if I wake up one day and remember everything?"
Ginny stared at her suspiciously, clearly trying to understand what she was implying. Suddenly her eyes widened. "Are you crazy?" She all but cried, drawing more attention to them then Hermione would've liked. "Are you seriously worried about regretting this when you don't even love him? And even so, Hermione, you guys weren't going that well anyway."
Hermione sighed, and turned away from the Slytherin table back to her plate, while also trying to ignore the stares of a few gossiping girls from further up the table.
"I'm not saying I care, I would just like to know all sides of the story. I don't know who to believe-,"
"You should believe me and Neville," Ginny interrupted. Hermione didn't think that was probably her best option, since Ginny and Neville would want what's best for her, and she knew in their opinion that didn't involve Malfoy. It was her opinion at the moment, too. But still...
"Hmm," Hermione agreed non-committaly. If Ginny thought the matter was closed, she would hopefully leave her alone for now. But the matter was far from over for Hermione. This large chunk of her life had just disappeared into thin air and she seemed no closer to finding it.
She'd had her own doubts about whether she really wanted to uncover the past, but Professor Dumbledore had set her straight.
He had told her that the past it what defines us, whether it's full of thing's we're proud of, or things we regret. Hermione was sure this would be something she would regret, but she could never just take the false words of her friends as fact and hope the whole thing went away, because it wouldn't. There was a reason she had fallen for Draco Malfoy, and she wanted to know that reason before anything else happened. And suddenly she was determined.
Blaise was surprised when he was hounded on his way to his first lesson that morning. He'd gone to step around a corner only to find himself staring down the stern face of Hermione who happened to be eyeing him with a displeased expression. He sighed.
"Why am I always on the receiving end of your bad moods lately?" He asked, barely stopping as he continued on his way.
Her eyes narrowed slightly, but she ignored his comment. "I want to know why I loved him."
Blaise stopped abruptly and turned to look at her, his expression one of surprise. "Really?"
She hesitated, looking as though she weren't really sure.
"...Yes." She eventually squeaked out.
"Why?" Blaise asked. He found it odd that she went from having no interest, to suddenly hounding him about it.
She bit her lip, looking as though she were struggling to find a logical reason. In the end she threw her hands up in defeat. "Because I'm a know-it-all, I suppose."
Blaise stared at her for a moment, and could tell this was difficult for her. She was putting up a wall. Draco did it all the time. "That's not why."
She eyed her feet, but didn't speak. They were silent for a moment before she finally surrendered.
"Fine. I want to know before he gets married."
Blaise wasn't expecting that. He raised his eyebrows in surprise.
She looked as though this were the most difficult thing to say. But she seemed to force it out.
"I don't want regrets." She muttered, as though she were so embarrassed she could barely speak the words. "I want to know everything. I want to know why. I know myself, and I know that I never do anything on a whim, and...I know I was with him, and I'm not stupid. I'm not. I must have had a reason."
She was rambling, clearly feeling uncomfortable speaking to him about this.
"You said we were friends," she continued, eyeing him with a sincere expression, "so tell me why."
Blaise blinked. How could he possibly tell her what she had felt for his friend? It was impossible.
"I can't exactly do that, Hermione. I can't answer that question, that's something you have to figure out."
She didn't look satisfied by his response.
"Really?" She asked, crossing her arms in front of her, "You've pestered me constantly about him since this whole memory thing happened, and now you tell me you can't answer my questions?"
Blaise sighed. "Hermione, I get that this is hard for you, but I can't answer something like that. I'm not you. I don't know what you felt- or why, I just know, from what I saw, that you did feel it."
Hermione bit down on her lip. "Everyone wants something different from me. Neville and Ginny want me to leave it, and you want me to try and remember. I don't know what to do anymore."
Blaise placed and arm on her shoulder, and was surprised when she didn't flinch. "You have to do this for you. They're your memories. It's a large part of your life. No one else's." He stepped back, with a small smile. "Yes, I admit I would like to see you with Draco again, you made him a little bit more tolerable, but in the end it's up to you."
"So you're saying I can either choose to live in ignorance, or remember something that might scar me for life."
Blaise smirked at her words. "Pretty much."
She stared at the ground, and Blaise felt empathetic at her plight. He would not be able to handle something like this himself.
"I don't think I'm getting any closer to remembering." She confessed, "My sessions with Dumbledore seem to be pointless. It's frustrating. I just want to remember all this."
He didn't really know what to say. He was never good with giving words of comfort.
"I can't imagine how hard it is, Hermione, but I think if you knew what I knew, you'd want to remember enough to keep going. To keep trying."
She nodded slowly. He liked that she seemed to be less opposed to the idea that she was in love with Draco at one point. Maybe she didn't need her memories for that to happen again.
"So, uh, Hermione," he began, not sure if she already was aware of what he were going to say, "you do realise that if you remember, you will most likely fall in love with him again, right? As in, all your old feelings will probably return." She seemed to think that she would be able to view the situation from an objective point, and then make a decision, when really, he was certain all her old feelings would come rushing back. It was good for Draco, but maybe not so much for her if she really meant what she was saying right now.
She made a disgusted expression. "I somehow think I'll have more sense now, Blaise."
Blaise merely nodded. She either had no idea, which he doubted, or she was still, somewhat, in denial.
After Potions that day, Blaise was exhausted. Not physically, just emotionally. Draco was still acting weird, and they'd spent the whole lesson in a tense standoff on either side of Potter. So Blaise had taken to watching Hermione for most of the lesson, or particularly the way she kept shooting anxious glances at Draco. The latter didn't seem to notice, as he was steadily avoiding even looking at the side of the room that she occupied.
He didn't bother waiting for Draco as the bell rang. He merely gathered his things and left.
Hermione slowly packed her things as the bell rang. Neville stood by her side, waiting. But her eyes were concentrated solely on the blond boy across the room. He was lethargic in his movements, and slowly stuffing his books in his bag.
His eyes were noticeably dark underneath, and she wondered whether he was sick or just tired. She also wondered why she would wonder that. If he was tried, then good, if he was sick, even better.
"Are you coming?" Neville prodded after a moment. Her eyes snapped to his brown ones, and she was relieved that he hadn't seemed to notice the direction of her stare.
"N-no, you go ahead," she told him, lying badly through her teeth, "I've got to speak to Professor Snape."
Neville eyed her oddly. She didn't blame him, that was an unbelievable excuse.
"It's about extra homework. To help me catch up." She added, hoping to get him to leave soon. Draco had just packed his last book.
"Alright..." he said after a moment, still not looking that convinced, "I'll see you upstairs and we'll walk to dinner together."
She nodded, plastering a strained smile on her face. She was scared and nervous at what she was about to do, but when she saw Draco exit the classroom just seconds after Neville, she quickly swung her bag over her shoulder and followed quickly.
He turned down the opposite corridor to Neville, obviously heading toward the Slytherin common room. His steps were slow, and Hermione found herself going at a snail's pace just so she didn't run into him.
She was so focused on watching him, his slow lethargic movements, the way his bag swung back and forth as he walked, that she didn't see the large crack in the dungeon floor until it caught her shoe and sent her face first to the ground. Her books hit the floor around her with large smacks, and she grimaced as she heard the footsteps in front of her pause abruptly.
She didn't event want to look up, to see the expression that she would be met with. She was still expecting a scowl. A death stare. Something horrible.
However, after a moment of silence she turned her head upward to meet his shocked expression. He was staring down at her from a few metres away, looking just as nervous as she was.
She felt her face going red, and quickly began gathering her things. This was a ridiculous idea. She felt her hands shaking as they fumbled with her books, and they became even worse as she heard his footsteps approaching her. He paused in front of her, looking down at her small form bunched on the stone cold floor.
"Were you following me?" he asked quietly. His voice held no hint of disgust, accusation, or judgement. It was just a question he wanted the answer to.
She could feel herself going into her usual 'Draco-Malfoy-fight-or-flight' mode, and her heart was racing at an abnormally fast pace. Normally at this point she would've had a wand pointed at her, and she'd either panic and run, or stay and get hexed. She forced herself to remember that it wouldn't be like that anymore.
"I-I wasn't following you," she said quickly, tripping over her words, "I just wanted to talk to you."
"Why?" He asked.
She looked up to find him rather close. He was standing, gripping the strap of his bag on his shoulder. He looked...confused. She would probably never get used to seeing such harmless expressions on his face.
"I have question's for you." She answered finally, trying to sound confident, however she was sure the shake in her voice and the blush on her cheeks told him she was scared to death.
"What sort of questions?" He asked, sounding hesitant.
"Questions about...us." She replied, hesitating on what to call it. It was true that it was about him and her, together, but she hated to use such an intimidate description.
She heard him swallow, as he reached down and grabbed one of her books from the floor. He seemed to take that as an invitation to relax. He must have liked her referring to them as one, just as much as she'd hated it.
She hoped that he wasn't expecting anything from her, but as she followed him into an empty classroom, she felt exhilarated. This was Draco Malfoy, and he was acting civilised, because of her. She wanted to let out a crazed laugh.
He sat on the Professors wooden desk, as she slipped into the seat at the front of the class. They stared at each other for a moment, before both looking away awkwardly.
"Um, well, I suppose I should just shoot." She said, feeling oddly flustered.
"Shoot what?" he asked, looking wary.
She almost laughed, but realised that probably wasn't a good idea. He was volatile. "The questions." She said.
"Oh," he muttered.
There was another moment of awkward silence before she spoke.
"Why did I love you?" She asked quickly. It was the one question she really wanted an answer to, but couldn't seem to find one.
He looked surprised at the question, and she supposed that he wasn't expecting her to want to know that.
He looked around the room, as though he were trying to find an answer. It was a good minute before he even attempted to answer.
"Because we went well together." He said after a moment, and she was glad he had at least tried to answer it. But she was also slightly disappointed at the conciseness of his response.
"That's it?" she prodded. "Mustard and tomato sauce go well together too, but that doesn't mean they'll get married."
It was a ridiculous thing to say, but when he cracked a small smile she was quite happy that she'd made a point. That is until he spoke.
"You want to get married?" he said, slightly amused. She didn't miss the glimmer of excitement in his eyes, either.
She shot up from her seat indignantly, ready to let him have a piece of her mind, but her words were lost as she winded herself on the edge of the desk. She rubbed her stomach, while glaring at him.
He wasn't looking at her, however, but was merely staring wide-eyed at the place her hand sat on her lower abdomen.
The whole scene reminded her of a certain recurring dream she'd been having lately, and that thought made her scared and extremely uncomfortable.
She pulled her hand away self-consciously. Draco blinked, before his eyes returned to hers.
"Any more questions?" he asked. He sounded subdued, now. She nodded.
"I still don't accept that first answer." She said, "I want to know why two people, who were so different, who hated each other so much, would suddenly fall in love. I mean, was there a potion involved, or a spell gone wrong...?" She trailed off, feeling exhausted at trying to figure it all out on her own.
Draco shook his head. "There were no potions, at least to my knowledge. I think after a while you stopped hating me for things and started liking me for them instead. You once told me you liked me even though I have a tendency to trip people over in the corridors." He smirked. "I suppose I was the perfect opposite to you. You're good, I'm bad. But we balance each other well. That's what I thought, anyway."
He stared off, as though he were reminiscing over memories that she no longer had access to.
"I would never think it's okay that you bully people," she said, feeling the need to defend her morals. He smiled to himself.
"You never did think it was okay, every time I did it you'd 'punish' me by not letting me kiss or touch-," he paused there, looking away. She supposed he'd guessed that she would be uncomfortable hearing that.
She swallowed, not sure if she even wanted to broach the subject further. "Did we...? You know..?"
He bit his lip, and it looked as though he were tossing up about whether to lie or not.
"Yes, we did." He said after a moment.
"You mean I'm not a virgin anymore?" She asked, feeling the anxiety well up inside her.
He merely shook his head.
She felt herself begin to panic. This was too much to find out and she shouldn't have asked him. She stood from her seat, feeling ill. He had been her first. He'd taken her virginity. She had slept with the boy she hated most in the world. She wanted to throw up.
"I've got to go," she said quickly. He looked as though he was going to stop her, but she raced out the door and didn't stop until she'd made it to the Gryffindor common room.
She fell onto her bed, waving her wand to pull the curtains around. It was then that she let herself succumb to the wave of tears that she'd held in the whole way there.
She wasn't a virgin anymore. She'd lost it to Draco Malfoy, and worst of all, she didn't even remember it.
She didn't stop crying until she fell asleep that night.
She avoided him for two days. He watched her in class, in the Great hall, and when he passed her in corridors. But she avoided him. She was still distraught over the news that she had lost her virginity to him; she'd given him something that important to her.
However, the inkling of curiosity in her mind never left, and once she moved past her immediate emotional reaction, it only made her think. If she had given something that important to him, then she must have loved him back.
She wondered for a moment whether he had forced her, but knew she wouldn't have allowed him to get away with that.
No, it was definitely mutual, and it only fueled her intense curiosity again, which was what had her following him again after Potions two days later. She knew that he was aware of her presence behind him, and he merely stepped into the classroom they'd entered last time, without even acknowledging her. She followed him in and they both sat in the same seats as last time, staring at each other.
"Is this our thing now?" he asked, smirking with a twinkle in his eye. He was clearly in a better mood than he was the other day, she noted.
"We don't have 'a thing'" she said quickly, quashing his hopes before they even came up, "I just have more questions."
His smirk fell slightly at his words, but he nodded. "Shoot."
She stared at him oddly for a moment, before speaking.
"Why did you love me?"
He looked uncomfortable at the question, and she supposed he felt awkward at the thought of revealing his innermost feelings.
"Because you're not like me," he said after a moment.
"I was raised to hate you, and I thought I always did. But I came to realise that it wasn't hate. It was denial. I denied for so long that I was attracted to you, and for even longer that I could be in love with you. I made excuses about your blood, your upbringing, your nerdiness." She scowled, but he continued. "But I liked that you weren't like me. I liked that you were good, kind and loyal. So different to everything I'm used to. And I soon realised that I didn't hate you. I was just scared to admit that I...loved you. Still am, I suppose."
They were both staring at the floor, the intensity of his words were too much for either to handle.
"Oh," Hermione said weakly after a moment. She hadn't been expecting such a genuine answer, and in all honesty his words made her believe that maybe he did love her. Maybe he hadn't fooled her.
"But you still cared about my blood?" She asked after a moment, realising that was the most important thing.
He hesitated. "I don't hate you for it. I suppose I was just scared of the repercussions of being with you. This was one of them, wasn't it?"
He motioned between them, and she realised he was talking about her inability to remember anything. She would question him about that at some point.
"So no one knew about us?" She already knew they didn't, but she wanted to hear it from him.
"A few did. Our friends. But others, no, they didn't know."
She felt annoyed and wasn't sure why. "Don't you think it was all rather pointless then? I mean, why be with someone when you're too ashamed to tell people about being with them."
He stood abruptly, and his expression reminded him of one she'd seem many times. He was angry, and it scared her.
"I wasn't ashamed!" He growled. "You wouldn't understand. You never did. I needed time, that's all. Now I've got all the time in the world and it's fucking pointless isn't it? I don't want to sit here and talk about what we used to be, I want to be that now. I want to fucking touch you."
He was breathing heavily as he approached her; he knelt beside her and pulled her towards him. She attempted to cry out, but as she fell into his lap he pressed his lips heavily against hers.
It was an angry kiss, if that's what you'd call it. He was letting out all his pent up frustration over the situation, as though he were hoping that it would prove something to her. However, it only proved how much of an ass he was, and when she managed to free her hands she balled one into a fist and aimed it toward the side of his head.
It effectively stopped him, and she distanced herself from him immediately.
"You're disgusting!" She cried, "You're a pig! I would never in my right mind go anywhere near you!"
She fled the room feeling sick and angry, leaving him to stare after her with a shattered expression.
Blaise and Potter were seated on their beds when Draco entered the dorm that evening. From his expression, Blaise could tell that his good mood had met its end, and once again he was depressed.
"What's happened?" Blaise asked, as his friend dropped limply on his bed. Draco merely stared at the ceiling.
Blaise sighed. He knew the reason Draco would be upset; his world was going to shit at the moment, and he had no control over it.
He didn't bother speaking again, and merely turned his attention toward a Quidditch magazine that was sitting on the floor beside his bed. It was 9:36 by the time Draco spoke.
"I'm leaving," he said quietly, as thought they were finding out his plan at the same time he were deciding it.
Both Potter and Blaise looked up from what they were doing to stare at the blond.
"What do you mean?" Potter asked, looking concerned. Blaise had to hand it to the boy, since Draco's moods had become more unpredictable, Potter had really shown his true colours. He cared.
Draco let out a long breath. "There's nothing for me here. I'm about to marry a foul bitch, and the girl I love hates me and wouldn't care if I crawled in a hole and died. So I'm leaving before I get married. The first day of holidays."
Both Potter and Blaise stared at him with alarmed expressions. "You can't leave, mate!" Potter cried, "What about N.E.W.T.S? What about Quidditch? What about your mates?"
Draco didn't take his eyes of the ceiling as Potter spoke. Blaise had never seen him look so defeated. He was seriously worried for the teen. It was like something had snapped in his brain, and it was causing him to act out.
"What about Hermione?" Blaise asked. "She's been asking a lot about you. There's still hope, mate. You just need to be patient."
Draco sat up, his expression twisted into one of veiled hurt. "The problem is I'm not patient. I can't wait around for her, Zabini. Every filthy look, every nasty word, every time she ignores me...it hurts." He ran his fingers through his hair, his expression grim. "I never thought I would understand how much it hurts to be treated like that. But it does. I can't take that off her. And it doesn't matter anyway, does it? If I stay, I marry Pansy and I'd prefer anything other than that."
Blaise and Potter shared a look. They didn't want him to leave school, or his friends, or Hermione, but they knew deep down it was the only choice. But there needed to be a compromise.
"You don't have to leave though." Blaise pleaded, "These holidays, come to mine. We'll sort something out. Your father won't be able to get in because of the security, and you'll be safe there. It'll give us time to figure something out."
Draco shook his head. "It won't work-,"
"Don't say that until we've tried," Blaise said strongly. Draco stared at him, before finally letting out a defeated sigh.
Blaise took this as a good sign, and so for the rest of the night they planned.
Draco would leave for Blaise's during the holidays. He would stay there for the whole Summer, until they organised something. Potter decided he would come along as well, since his holiday would consist of him battling with his cousin over the TV remote. They hadn't planned as far as ahead as the new school year, but Draco was atleast agreeable enough to work with them up to that point. He even seemed slightly brighter at the prospect that maybe there was hope.
Day's passed, and the closer to the holidays they got, the more nervous the three boys were about their plans. They were about to go against Lucius Malfoy, but it was the only choice they had.
They sat at breakfast one morning, chewing on their toast, when a fluttering owl landed beside Potter.
"Weasley's pathetic excuse for an owl, I presume?" Draco asked, as the ball of messy feathers plummeted into their neighbours' bowl of cereal. He didn't look impressed.
"Yeah," Potter answered, picking up the saturated, and frantically squawking bird, "I asked Weasley if he was going to join us for the holidays. I imagine he'll say yes, especially since we'll have the whole mansion to ourselves."
He grabbed the envelope from the bird and ripped it open, his eyes scanned the lines, and Blaise and Draco watched as his expression turned from disbelief to complete and utter scandal.
"I don't believe it," he muttered, his eyes not leaving the page.
"What is it?" Blaise asked, taking a sip of his juice.
"That stupid git. That stupid, stupid git!" Potter continued loudly, causing his fellow housemates to stare at him with curious expressions.
"Would you just say what it says?" Draco snapped, clearly not in the mood for Potter's outburst.
Potter looked up his eyes wide. "He's gone and fallen in love with the muggle girl."
Draco snorted, as Blaise raised his eyebrows.
"That's pretty intense for Weasley," Blaise commented, "are you sure he isn't just infatuated with her boobs? That sound's more like him."
Potter shook his head. "Nope, it definitely say's here 'I've never felt like this for anyone before. I think I love her.' She must have fed him a love potion."
"She's a muggle," Draco reminded him, looking annoyed at the stupidity of his friend.
"Yeah!" Potter cried, pointing his finger in Draco's face, "A muggle that's good at potions. What's that about, huh?"
Draco scowled at the finger just inches away from his nose. "If you don't get your hand out of my face, I'll cut the damn thing off." He gripped his knife threateningly. Potter complied.
"This is ridiculous," Potter sulked, crossing his arms over his chest. "This is not the time for Weasley to go and fall in love."
Blaise shrugged. He didn't really see the big deal, other than the fact that Weasley had actually developed feelings for a girl that were more than just sexual. "I'm sure he'll move on soon enough, that is Weasley's way."
"Yeah, but it won't be the same without him," Potter sighed.
"Don't worry," Draco smirked, "I'm sure he still loves you more."
Potter scowled at the boy across from him. "Very funny, you git."
Blaise sighed. They had more important things to do than stir one another.
"It doesn't really matter whether Weasley's there or not." Blaise began in hushed tones. "The less people, the better. If we're all missing, it'll create suspicion. They'll assume Potter's at his muggle relatives, too. So in the end the only suspect will be me."
Draco and Potter didn't look as though that was the greatest idea.
"My father," Draco began, looking around before he continued, "if he finds out you helped me, and it's pretty obvious out of anyone that it would be you, he won't hesitate to find you and make you pay. If he can put his own son under the Cruciatis curse, imagine what he'd do to you?"
They were silent for a moment as they each thought of the possible consequences of their plan.
"It's worth the risk," Blaise said and he gave Draco a reassuring nod. The latter still looked uneasy about it, but merely nodded.
It was later that day, as Blaise and Draco were heading towards their next class, that Blaise noticed a curly mop of hair in an adjacent corridor. Hermione was sitting on the window pane with her back against it, her head lulled back as if she were staring lazily at the ceiling. It was only then that he realised her eyes were closed, and she was fast asleep.
Draco followed his gaze, and instantly a small blush coloured his cheeks.
"We should go wake her up," Blaise said, politely ignoring his friends' display of embarrassment.
Draco looked hesitant. "I'm sure I'm the last person she wants to wake up to."
Blaise rolled his eyes at Draco, and turned back to Hermione, wondering whether he should wake her. He realised she would probably prefer to be woken by him, and even Draco, than by the random snickers from other students.
He slowly walked over and tapped her on the shoulder, leaving Draco to follow hesitantly behind him. She jumped slightly, and blinked a few times as her eyes adjusted to the light coming in from the window behind her. She stood abruptly when she saw who was standing in front of her. She stared wide eyed at Draco for a moment, before turning to Blaise. Blaise noticed that Draco was looking anywhere but at her, and she was doing the same. He narrowed his eyes. What was going on there?
"I didn't even realise I'd fallen asleep," Hermione said quickly. She snatched up her book and tucked it into her bag.
"Yeah, we figured." Blaise smirked. "Do you always have a tendency to fall asleep in the corridors, though?"
Hermione blushed. "No, I don't." She said, stubbornly. "I've just not been getting much sleep, that's all."
Blaise sighed. "Hermione, please tell me you aren't working yourself into the ground trying to catch up on schoolwork? You most likely won't be made to sit your exams, given the situation. Just relax. Let school work be your last priority."
Draco snorted from behind him, and Blaise noted the way Hermione's eyes narrowed on the teen. He was effectively silenced.
"It's not school work," she said, still eyeing the blond with a threatening expression, "I've been having trouble sleeping."
"Why's that?" Blaise questioned, closely watching the interaction between the other two with a curious expression.
Hermione sighed. "Bad dreams," she looked away from Draco quickly and back to Blaise. "I suppose considering the disturbing events I've been through recently, it's not surprise."
She looked pointedly at Draco, and this time the latter maintained eye contact. He seemed unimpressed at her comment, though Draco could tell by the pink tinge on his cheeks that he was annoyed.
"Yeah, I can imagine-,"
"Are you sure they're nightmares, and not another sort of dream, then?" Draco interrupted Blaise, coolly eyeing Hermione.
Hermione looked confused for a moment, before her eyes widened with the realisation of his comment.
"You foul, arrogant git," she fumed, her eyes fiery. "You wish!"
"You're right, I do!" Draco snapped throwing his arms in the air, his eyes gleaming with some strong emotion. "I wish you had those dreams. Dreams that made you fucking ache to touch me, dreams that made you unable to concentrate on anything else because you're so distracted by the thought of me. I really do. But I get that things have changed, the thought of me disgusts you. I tried, I fucking tried! Stop punishing me by rubbing in my face how much I fucking repulse you now!"
His chest was heaving, and his face was red by the time he had finished. Blaise stood staring in shock at his outburst. He hadn't expected that at all. He had definitely missed something. He turned to Hermione to find her staring rather shocked at the blond. She also looked scared.
Draco seemed to notice her fear as well, and he scoffed. "I can't take this." He muttered, before walking off down the corridor, leaving the other two to stare after him in shock.
Blaise broke the silence after a moment.
"Well...," he muttered, feeling rather awkward, "I wasn't expecting that."
Hermione was still staring at the end of the hall. Blaise was surprised by the look of regret on her face.
"He's right," she said quietly after a moment. "I am punishing him."
Blaise stared at her for a moment. "Did he do something...?"
"No." She said quickly, before letting out a wry laugh. "Well, of course he's done something. He's made my life hell for years, if that counts."
"I suppose it does." He agreed, wondering where she was going with it.
"I still hate him for it, and I still expect it from him, even though things have changed." She continued. "I know he loves me, and I suppose I've been taking advantage of it. I know it hurts him when I'm nasty and cruel. And I liked that he knew how it felt."
Blaise listened intently, as she spoke. She looked ashamed.
"This isn't me. I'm not like him, or like he was. I just- I don't even know what to think of him. I don't want to be this bitter person. I just want to get the answers I'm looking for."
Blaise nodded. "It's hard for you, when you don't remember anything other than how horrible he was, but he's my best friend, Hermione. He doesn't deserve this. Don't use his feelings for you as a way to hurt him."
"I wasn't even doing it on purpose," she said, honestly, "but a part of me just wants him to suffer."
"He's been through too much for that. You don't know the situation he's in. He sacrificed a lot for you. I mean, I think one of the reason's he's being forced to marry Pansy right now is because of your relationship."
Hermione turned to Blaise, her brows furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"
He bit his lip, wondering if he should tell her, but decided that she needed to know these things.
"Lucius Malfoy found out about you. He...had a role in a lot that has happened."
She eyed him cautiously. "What do you mean exactly?"
"We think that, well..." he hesitated slightly, "that it was Draco's father that attacked you the night you lost your memories."
Hermione stared at him blankly, but he could see her mind ticking away behind her eyes.
"Wouldn't there be evidence if that was the case? Wouldn't he be in Azkaban?" She questioned.
Blaise shrugged. "We only strongly suspect it. And even so, Lucius is a powerful man. He's bribed his way out of prison before, during the first war. That's something not many people know."
Hermione scoffed, with a frown on her face. "Typical rich purebloods, buying their way out of everything."
"Hey," Blaise said, slightly offended. "Lucius Malfoy is different to a lot of us. His own son hates him, what does that say?"
"Malfoy hates him?" She asked quickly, looking sceptical. Blaise nodded.
"Absolutely despises him, really."
Hermione crossed her arms, looking slightly contented. "Well at least that proves he's not that evil."
Blaise sighed. "My point is, Hermione, Draco's got a lot of stuff he needs to sort out, and he doesn't need you torturing him. You're like...the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe the saying goes."
Hermione nodded, looking torn. "I'm not going to be some trophy for him. And I'm not going to pretend I don't hate him, but I'll be civil. If only for my own safety." She added quickly. Blaise let out a relieved breath.
"But," she added strongly, "that means he has to act civil as well."
"I'll be certain of it," Blaise promised her. And just like that, he felt as though perhaps one problem was put to the side while there were more important things to focus on.
Blaise waited outside the Potions classroom the next day, as Draco stood glaring at the wall next to the Italians head. Next to him, perched on his arm, was a rather pleased looking Pansy Parkinson. Blaise thought it was odd how she still looked so pleased even though she knew without a doubt that Draco hated her, and was being forced to marry her. The only satisfaction Blaise could get was to think of Pansy's expression when she was left at the altar. He smirked, before looking away toward the other end of the corridor.
Hermione was approaching, alongside Neville. Blaise eyed Draco who was far too distracted by counting the stones on the wall, before steeping off the wall and heading towards her. Hermione, noticing his approach, gave him a stern expression. He merely paused next to her.
"Remember, be civil," he reminded her, "and if you can make that bitch Pansy furious in the process as well, it would be fucking priceless." He swiftly turned and headed back to his spot against the wall across from the ever-displeased looking Draco.
Hermione approached their small group, looking as though she were about to faint. But one encouraging nod from Blaise, and she paused in front of Draco. His eyes moved from the wall down to her, similar to Pansy and most of the Slytherins around her.
She swallowed thickly, before shooting the blond a large smile that Blaise was sure would have him in a daze for the rest of the day. Pansy's face was red with anger already.
"Good morning, Draco. How are you?" Blaise almost scoffed, but he supposed that a ridiculous ice breaker like that was typical from someone with as much social experience as Hermione.
Draco continued to stare at her, his jaw slightly open, before her muttered dazedly, "Good."
Blaise was sure it was the only word Draco could manage to get out, he looked utterly shocked. Much like the people around them.
Hermione smiled again, before nodding, and continuing on her way to class. She was ignoring the questioning stare from Neville beside her. As she slipped through the door, she turned her head one last time to shoot Blaise a glare. He smirked.
That would have been torture for her, but if it kept Draco in a positive mood long enough for them to carry out their plan successfully, he was sure all the glares in the wizarding world would be worth it.
And he was right; Draco didn't stop staring at her for the whole day.