As a sigh left her ashen lips and came through the night in a small cloud of ambiguity, she wondered what all of this really meant. In the midst of war and disparity, her kiss with Ron had been nothing short of foolish and short lived. Her love for him had—though she had thought of it as impossible—began to fade like the cloud of carbon dioxide in front of her.
So she went back to school and drowned her sorrows and new found look on a sullen life in the walls of Hogwarts.
Her conscience had even humored the thought of them being together after the war but again that was a long shot in the dark. But as she had been searching in that dark for the love that had gone, the dark began to speak to her and guide her groping, lost hands to a room . . . of requirement . . . requirement of warm feelings, lost causes and no explanations.
Her settling and overall ponderous desolation from the things she aspired towards (marriage with the fiery headed love of her life after the war, children, being a professor or something even more. . .) seemed more childish than realistic at this point. The discovery of this began to sink in her ever-so loving heart and would lead her to the Room of Requirement as a part of dealing with this sudden disseverance. As she had been lead to believe through the pages of Hogwarts: A History, The Room of Requirement can only reveal itself to one person at a time . . . but that was there she was wrong. In the case of two people with the same grievance, it will reveal itself to both.
Proceeding to the door in a more insidious way than necessary, her eyes preparing to feast upon the feature set she was so accustomed to (A small study with a fireplace and 'window' looking out unto the snow laden grounds of Hogwarts.) . Yet though her eyes scurried away from the current placement of a room with wooden floors, large 'windows', a lounge-esque chair and some sort of small less inviting chair next to it. It was a therapist office of some sort . . . with a less than acquiring blonde occupant in the large lounge chair.
She had wondered if it was a right idea to leave or stay and in silence, though sitting in silence seem friendlier than the Gryffindor common room and her Arthimatcy essay. Pondering this, she stood there with a look of absolute disdain upon her features.
The chair swiveled around with an ancient creak, as though it hadn't been used in years but still had a lackluster charm to it. By the flickering candle light his, once shimmering but now darkened, flaxen locks and somewhat plain face showed himself to her. His face may have been plain of the once demeaning scowl that could have her frustrated in seconds but it was still beautiful.
Hoary eyes met with bronzed ones. Eyes that had held a lifetime's worth of hatred regarded through generations of blind following and eyes that had held 18 years' worth of resolve and underline fear that she could have been next, now similarly held weariness. Weariness from having won the battle but ultimately losing the war inside themselves, years of oppression, and from holding this gaze for far too long.
They said nothing to each other but their longer than allowed gaze said everything in a matter of seconds. As she broke away from the gaze, slowly acknowledging her presence in the room, he nodded towards to smaller chair that accompanied the room and turned slightly back around to his books.
Her feet padded the floor lightly as she took a seat, and she absent-mindedly took a book from one of the surrounding shelves near her. The scent of fresh parchment and seriously dusty covers filled her nostrils and for the first time it had seemed in years, she was at peace. Books made her feel at peace and regardless of the somewhat odd counterpart sitting at a distance across from her, when she opened the ragged edge of the hardcover novel. . .her entire life left her and old Hermione came back.
The old Hermione was one she had longed for and what she really felt could survive through this instead of this new war ridden sullen Hermione that had taken her leave as soon as she stepped in here. Her heart felt warm as she closed her eyes and just grasped the book, not even reading it for a while, but just basking in the absolute amount of relief and nostalgia it gave her.
Draco on the other hand, could barely pay attention to whatever he was trying to read as he quietly turned around in the chair and kind of looked at her. He wouldn't describe what he was doing as looking because it just wasn't looking. He had his eyes fixated on her, yes but in an overall meaning he was really just reminiscing on . . . a lot.
Flashbacks of all the things he had once found hideous, like muggleborns such as her, hand me down clothes, anything dealing with Weasley children, the smell of vanilla and etc. Though some of those things could not be changed as they were deeply instilled in his very soul and he had just now a common dislike for them, he felt a bit changed. The war didn't give him a new outlook on life or anything of that sort, just essentially a more grateful view for the things he had. He was at peace with his shortcomings and the things he had now no purpose for, hatred being one of them. Life was obviously too short for him to being seeing things the way he had, so he just adjusted his outlook to not hate but just slightly dislike and be a bit more open to welcoming into his life with less of a bitter distaste.
One of the things was Hermione Granger.
Draco's hand softly touched his cheek and he rested upon it along with his final thought. It felt heavy but not heavy enough to be a burden. He had always had some sort of slight dislike for Hermione Granger, mainly due to the fact she always one-upped him but seeing as many people doubted her in the first place, he could understand why. He didn't care much for her amount of friends and how many people liked her because like he, she always tended to be a slight lone wolf. But now seeing her like this, her usual humble demeanor and gracious smile fading faster than her relationship with Weasley, he felt just as compelled as he did for himself, for her.
While Draco may have disliked her, he had to give her credit where credit was due. She was attractive, yes but not stunning or gorgeous. He always noticed how she never used makeup, wore short condescending skirts or anything deemed 'slag'-ish but those observations were just out of natural curiosity. He never really noticed how much of her was actually appealing . . . but he wasn't going to take the time right now to even ponder that.
So he removed his hand from his cheek and lowered his eyes back to his book.
Looking out of the window, Hermione's thoughts wandered. Her entire being felt like it was coming back to her as she had thought back to the contents of the book. It was about a little German girl who had lost her soul to the uprising holocaust in the mid 1930's. She was too young to understand the beginning s and framework of war but in the little mind of hers, she understood that things in war come to an end and are eventually lost in the rush of it all.
It reminded her of the snow and herself. She had been much too young to understand why she had been discriminated against or why she had to fight in such a war. But she understood that she had to, she just had to or something bad would happen to everyone. Her eyes followed each snowflake through the window and rested her feet upon the floor.
Hermione understood many things but the one thing she would possibly never grasp is how when all people were born the same, from the same orifice and all the workings of it, one could even begin to discriminate. Perhaps because of an internal battle or childhood trauma? She would have to remind herself to research it later. It—
A foreign throat cleared itself and spoke.
"Hello Hermione." his lips moved slowly and grazed the inside of his mouth with each syllable
Hermione obviously shocked and not expecting a conversation to begin at all, opened her mouth and tensed herself a bit. But why should she be tense when he was speaking with no obvious malice or contempt for her at all?
Her breath flowed freely through her lips and she spoke.
He set his book down and leaned back, now more relaxed than it seemed before. His face looked distressed yet at the same time, unconcerned with anything else in the world. His eyes . . . showed an untold emotion but could really only described as okay. He was okay.
What did they even have to talk about from there? Where was the conversation to go? He would never know without trying so he gave it a long shot in the dark.
"How's it been since . . . you know?" she spoke first.
"You mean since the death of my father?"
His father had died in prison and while Draco and his mother had been slightly upset for a bit, it was more relief than distress.
"Yes, I understand it must have upset you greatly."
"It was better that he was gone than he terrorizing my mother with disgusting letters about . . ." he trailed off and she didn't bother to antagonize him about it.
It was quiet then and she didn't dare disturb that.
"How has it been since Weasley left you?" he didn't mean for it to come out in those words but it was true and he had no other way to describe how rudely Weasley had done it.
In the past when someone would have asked Hermione about this topic, she would stay silent and politely changed the topic to something less severe; bottling up all her emotions until she would break in the Gryffindor common room in later hours. But now she just cried whenever someone asked, which they just stopped doing. It still stung and the wound had been opened barely 3 months ago and was just closing.
So she burst into tears . . . feeling the most she had in a while.
Draco just stared at her, not knowing what to do he walked behind her and did what his mother would always do when he was feeling down, and gave her a warm hug around the shoulders. Albeit a bit too close for comfort, it would always help him along with a nice kiss on the forehead, which he nicely left out for right now.
He didn't hold on to her for long because it felt too friendly . . . even though he really needed one.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Draco moved back in front of her and wasn't sure how to react.
"No. I just . . . it just hurts so much, y'know? He told me he loved me, he was so nice and... I feel like such a slag."
Well she wasn't but he wasn't sure if he wanted to debate that with her.
"He shagged you didn't he?" A blunt statement.
Hermione looked up; eyes glossed over with regret and truthfully nodded while dropping her head into her hands. She just focused all her apprehension on the book laden wall behind Draco.
"He took my virginity, he took my bloody virginity. Then he left."
It wasn't the fact that he left her and shagged her or anything of that sort that upset Hermione. It was the fact that she, the brightest witch of their age, had let all her independent inhibitions away to be with a man that had no interest in her after a decade long friendship. She was disgusted in herself.
Draco shrugged unimportantly and though somewhat distantly, felt her pain.
"Yes well, we all know Weasley is a git but this is somewhat surprising."
"Through all of the . . . bonding and turmoil you lot have been through. . ," He didn't know how to place his words. "You would have thought . . . he would. . ."
"Stuck around? So he wouldn't feel guilty?" It was insulting of him to even assume that she was a pity bargain but it made her agree in a pitiful way. She agreed.
Why was she talking about her problems to someone she barely knew and seemingly was disgusted by for so long? She didn't know.
Perhaps because he was the only one that didn't assume it was all her fault.
"You would have thought he would at least the audacity to not even start in the first place."
He was right; in his own casual way . . . he was completely right.
"Yeah . . . yeah. It's not any worse than seeing people you love dying in front of you but it is just as bad."
"The pain could be comparable yes but now isn't the time to grieve over a sodden idiot that could not cherish what a treasure he had in front of him."
Hermione sniffed and looked directly at Malfoy, seeing that he was not only sincere but seemed completely casual with his confession. She just gazed out the window and felt her skin drying with an understanding for what he meant.
"Now. . ." He straightened up and pursed his lips "You should be focusing on yourself and not some git's shortcomings."
He was right but what about him?
"You have your own ghosts as well, Draco."
"I do and I have come to terms with them."
"Have you really?"
It was now his time to focus on the spot behind Hermione and contemplate his entire being. He wasn't going to cry though.
He wasn't sure if he was telling the truth. While he had come to terms with his father's death and figured it was for the better of them all, he couldn't dare touch the issue that was really at hand.
Not completely anyways.
Hermione let go of a breath that reminded her of the first time she kissed Ron. It was relief of finally having something off your chest. It was a beautiful feeling that she had forgotten about.
"It's not completely your fault."
Draco cast his eyes downward and felt the drag of what felt like a decade's worth of shame fall upon him. It was sickening.
"It is, Hermione. It really just is. It's my fault I let him control me into thinking that every person different from us deserves to be killed."
"You were young. You can't help what you believed back then." Hermione's voice was smooth and soft where his worries had seemed to begin to fade away. Not completely anyways.
"I know that but you'd have thought that growing up, I'd known better but I just didn't."
"You couldn't help it."
"I let him drag me into a fucking war for Merlin's sake!" Draco wasn't angry at her, but mostly what he let happen to him and his mother.
"But you chose what was right in the end, didn't you?" She gave him a reassuring look and leaned forward contemplatively.
"Yeah . . . you're right. It's still hard though . . . trying to right my wrongs."
He guessed this was a sorry for all the bollocks he put her through. She appreciated it.
"It's okay. You're learning aren't you? You know what's right or wrong now, you can't blame yourself for whatever type of foolery that your father and centuries of ancestry put upon you. . ." Hermione put her hand graciously on his knee and gave him a soft smile. "Draco, it couldn't be helped but you are your own person now and that's all that matters."
She took her hand off of his knee and nodded.
"Yeah but it's just so hard trying to get past all of the. . ."
"Bullshit? Yeah that's the hardest part. But we have to push on anyways right?"
"Right." Draco breathed out and slacked against the leather upholstery of the rotten old chair.
"We both trying Draco. It's just painful."
They were both right in their own ways. It was a matter of getting past what happened that they really needed to heal because scars took a long time to heal . . . Especially theirs.
Draco was the first to rise and he spoke.
"Dinner's in a few, we should probably get going unless you need some privacy." After such a conversation he could understand if she needed to contemplate everything that had just gone on.
"No I'm feeling better," She rose and began towards the door.
He followed her at a distance as they walked outside of the wooden door and heard it as it turned to a regular piece of stone behind them. Walking at a distance but sharing the same pace, Hermione stopped and turned to Draco with a less apprehensive look than what she started with.
"Thank you," She ran her fingers through her hair and drew in another breath as she continued. "It's a long way until I get past this but . . . "
"You're welcome. " He didn't know what to say after that but it was just a start.
She nodded and walked away biding this experience and the conversation adieu. They weren't friends . . . barely accquatinces at most but the conversation made her feel more comfortable with understanding where Draco came from.
It wasn't a bonding experience at all.
Both she and Draco had their scars and dealt with them differently but all in all, they both hurt. It was just a mere understanding of who they each really were.
A lost boy trying to right his wrongs and a destroyed little girl in the midst of a recovery.
All was well.