I found this on my computer, reread it, fixed it up and simply couldn't resist posting it. It was originally a one-shot, which I've broken up into five. Normally I would wait between each chapter to post, but: a) I don't want to wait, and b) I don't know when I'll be able to repost. I figured that even if I posted it all at the same time, the fact that it's in five different chapters will make it easier for you to read.-and this way you can stop in between chapters if you'd like.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! Feel free to leave a comment or two :)
Tugging On HeartStrings
[A friendship blossomed. A bond strengthened. An attraction realized. A love unrequited. A love bloomed.]
A friendship blossomed
She's the one that started it, he remembers. Their friendship. If you could call it that at the time. Her friendssure didn't think it was. And if he's being completely honest, neither did he. Not really.
He was alone. He'd fallen from grace long before the war ended, but the aftermath didn't begin until he went back to Hogwarts. Nobody would talk to him; they talked about him, hushed tones in the classrooms, loud insults in the corridors, snickering and glaring during meals. Nobody wanted anything to do with him, and he couldn't blame them. For if he had the choice, he wouldn't have anything to do with himself either. But he was (is) a Malfoy, and Malfoy's don't complain-at least not in public. And so he kept his mouth shut-it wouldn't do him well to retaliate, given his state-and kept to himself. He sat at the back of the classroom, for it was easier to blend into the shadows and be forgotten. He travelled alone through the corridors, and sat alone at the Slytherin table during meals. He tried, as best as he could, to live like a ghost.
For the most part it worked.
And then she noticed him. She'd probably been noticing him all year (it was mid-October by now) but hadn't worked up that Gryffindor courage to do anything about it. He'd been studying in the library-the Slytherin common room was currently being occupied by the Slytherins, not to mention the lighting in the dungeons was terrible-sitting at a table in the back when she'd approached him. Confident, and with purpose. Like she knew exactly what she was doing. And like she wasn't reaching out to a Death Eater, who's family had tried to kill her and her friends. He'd watched her through his eyes lashes and his bangs as she sat down in the chair across from him and began studying. Neither of them actually spoke, but it was sort of nice having someone there who wasn't trying to bring him down.
It continued for weeks. Every time he was in the library, studying or writing a painfully long essay, she would sit with him-even if she was already sitting somewhere else. They never talked. Every now and then she would smile, and he would smile back, but that was it.
And then, one December evening, she speaks.
"So Christmas is coming up. Are you going home?"
Her voice nearly startles him right out of his seat, but he keeps his composure as he looks up. Part of him wants to smirk and tell her of course he is, he isn't about to stay hereduring the break where he'll be even more unwanted. Instead he just nods.
"Me too. Have you gotten all of your shopping done?"
He blinks, eyeing her skeptically.
"I'm sorry, I know it's probably a weird thing to ask, but I find it awkward sitting here and not even speaking. Unless, of course, you don't want to talk in which case I'll shut up. Or I can leave, if you'd like. I realize I just sort of thrust myself on you without even asking. If you don't want me to sit with you anymore you can tell me. Or don't, I'll just-"
One word. He finds the courage to say one word, and he curses himself for sounding so desperate.
She doesn't seem to notice, for she's probably too taken by the idea that he had actually spoken "Okay."
Two weeks before the Christmas break, she changes the rules. They aren't really rules, technically, as much they're just...unspoken guidelines. Because before now, they've kept their newfound friendship a secret from everyone, including her boyfriend and her best friend.
It's a Saturday morning when he sits down for breakfast alone at the Slytherin table. Most of the Slytherins are still in bed-some of them in someone else's bed-and being an early riser, he's come up to eat early. After grabbing what he likes from the buffet, he travels back to the end of the end of the table and sits down to eat. Moments later more peers walk into the Great Hall and take their seats at their respective tables, ignoring him completely. Two years ago he would've demanded their attention, but now he revels in the lack of it. He looks up as Potter and Weasley walk in-without Granger, he notices, and wonders briefly where she is. As if on cue, once her friends have already grabbed their plates, she walks in. They wave her over and she smiles, waving back. But instead of walking towards them, she starts walking towards him. His gaze catches hers and he looks questioningly at her, silently asking her what in the world she's thinking. She shrugs, and smiles at him as though it's the most natural thing in the world. Sure, in the privacy of the library it is, but outside of the library they're nothing but acquaintances. With more confidence than him these days, she walks straight to his table, leaving her friends (and most of the other students) gawking after as she grabs a plate.
"What are you doing, Granger?" he asks, his voice low.
"I'm getting something to eat, obviously."
"You know what I mean."
"I'm sitting with my friend for breakfast." She sits across from him then, taking a sip of her pumpkin juice.
He looks around the room at the glaring and shocked faces. "Everyone's staring, Granger"
"I don't care, do you?"
Truthfully? No. His reputation is already ruined. But hers... Over her shoulder he sees Weasley and Potter stalking towards them looking angry and betrayed. "Your...friends are coming over. And your boyfriend looks like he's going to explode."
He would've snickered if he wasn't mildly afraid for his life.
She defends him more than she probably should. He appreciates it, of course, more than she'll ever know, but still.
Potter and Weasley find him in the library three days before the Christmas holiday. He's waiting for her, and they know it.
"What have you done to her?" Potter demands.
He reckons they've been waiting all week to ask him. Instead of playing the 'I don't know what you're talking about' card, he gets straight to the point. "I haven't done anything to her."
"You've done something, why else would she befriend you?"
Because she's kind and friendly and she cares more about everyone else than she does about herself, he thinks. Truthfully though, he doesn't even know the answer to that. "Why don't you just ask her?"
"You've cursed her, haven't you Malfoy?" Weasley snaps. "You've made her pity you into being your friend."
"I'm gonna say it one more time fellas. I haven't done anything to her and I certainly don't need anyone's pity. If you want to know why she's befriended me, then ask her yourself."
He leaves the library feeling angry and confused.
He doesn't see her again until after the Christmas holidays. She's sitting in a compartment on the train with Weasley and Potter when he walks by. Her gaze catches his and he curses himself for looking inside. He keeps going, even as the door opens behind him and he hears her footsteps following him.
"You're avoiding me."
"I'm not avoiding you."
"Yes you are."
"No I'm not."
"Then why won't you stop to talk to me?" she counters, continuing to follow him.
"Alright fine, I am avoiding you," he admits.
"Why does it matter?"
"Y-You're joking right?"
"No, I'm not," he mutters, spinning around to face her, stopping her in her tracks. "Why does it matter to you? Why do Imatter to you?"
"Because you're my friend-"
"Why, though, Hermione? Why did you befriend me? Why are you my friend?" They both ignore the fact that he's just called her by her first name for the first time.
"Where is this coming from-"
"Just answer the question Granger!"
"Draco..." she trails off, staring at him.
"Your boyfriend thinks I've cursed you. And Potter thinks I've done something horrible to you-"
"They what? They told you that?"
"They're not the only ones who think I've somehow tricked you into pitying me either, I'm pretty sure the whole school thinks I've done something unforgivable to you."
"Those...those idiots! They have no right to-I can't believe..."
"I can," Draco mutters.
"I'm your friend because I want to be Draco." There's truth to her voice, he notes.
"Why? I've been nothing but horrible to you," he reminds her, as though she could forget.
"Yes, well, you've changed since then. Besides, I've always known that you weren't really as dark and evil as you pretended to be. You didn't kill Dumbledore. You looked just as terrified as I felt at your house that day. And when your mother called you over to Voldemort's side in the courtyard you hesitated. Everyone deserves a second chance, and this is yours."
He didn't think anything she had to say would make him believe her. Nor did he think she would ever care enough to even bother to keep his friendship. She's just proven him wrong, twice, and he's never been more glad to be wrong. He feels a smile tugging at his own lips before watching one spread across hers as she hugs him. He blinks, hesitating before slipping his arms around her waist and hugging her back. He looks over her shoulder to see Potter and Weasley making a beeline for them, the latter's fists clenched at his sides in jealousy. Draco smirks at him, furthering the redhead's anger, before pulling away from her. "Potter and Weasley are coming up behind you."
"Good. I'd like to have a word with them."
He almost, almost, feels bad for the wrath they're about to face.