I would like to clarify that this is NOT a song fic. It just features a few mentionings and shares the name of a beautiful piece by Debussy.
Late into the night, the snow fell and fell.
The moon was high in the sky, a crystal orb shining down and bathing everything in drops of purest silver. The streets gleamed; the branches on the trees shone and sparkled with frost; the puddles were tiny frozen mirrors of diamond, reflecting back images of the midnight sky sprinkled with twinkling stars and planets.
Pearly tears, lit up by the starlight, fell down Hermione's cheeks.
She wasn't usually one to cry, nor was she one to be out in the cold in the early hours of the morning. But tonight was different. Tonight, she couldn't resist. Tonight, she had nothing left to lose.
The snowflakes were stuck in her hair and her tears were freezing on her cold face, but she could barely feel anything. Well, she could feel one thing. The suffocating, strangling feeling in her chest.
He'd said he wouldn't do it. He'd promised.
She'd probably get killed standing out here in the middle of the night. Mugged, or kidnapped, or murdered. After all, she was an enemy of the Death Eaters. If it wasn't by them, it would probably be by a creepy drunk Muggle. But she didn't care. It might actually be a kindness.
He wouldn't like that she'd strayed outside of the protective wards of the safe house. Hermione had been told by him on more than one occasion that she must always stay inside, where she was safe and where he could keep an eye on her. But then again, he didn't get any say in anything she did anymore. He'd vetoed that right when he'd broken his promise.
A gust of icy wind whipped past her, causing her dressing gown to go fluttering around her. She shivered, her body automatically responding to the cold, although she didn't register it or pull the fabric tighter around her. The tears kept on running down her cheeks, tracing out paths on her skin. She gripped onto the frigid iron railing she was stood behind, ignoring the fact that it made her hands go numb and that flakes of peeling black paint cascaded onto the whiteness below her feet at her touch. She needed to grip it to remind herself that this was real, and this was happening. That it wasn't all some unfortunate nightmare.
Glancing down at her pale hands, she almost felt sick. He'd taught those fingers how to move across a piano's ivory keys and coax a melody from them during their long, boring months in confinement together. He'd kissed the tip of every individual one of those digits only a few days ago while they'd been lying in bed. She'd clutched onto his shoulders with those hands when they'd made love.
It was hard for her to pinpoint the exact moment when she'd realised she'd fallen for Draco. Their whole relationship had started out as a hatred, born from years of bullying and rude comments and ingrained racism that had prevented them from being anything but enemies.
The war had fucked even that up.
Draco never liked to talk about the day he'd arrived at the safe house. They had, once, because she'd pushed him, and she deeply regretted it. He'd cried, something which had scarred her. He wasn't supposed to cry. He was too cold to cry.
She'd been tired already that day when Kingsley, Arthur and Andromeda had brought him in. The raid the Order had planned on the Zabini household had increased her workload; it had turned into a full scale battle which no-one had predicted. More people with more injuries were arriving every second and it was stressful. But she didn't complain. She'd learnt long ago that there was no point.
She'd just finished tending to someone who'd been brought in with serious burns, and suddenly with a small pop the three Aurors had appeared in the study that had been turned into a hospital, disturbing the dust that floated thick in the air all around them. Abandoned buildings were hardly hygienic or great places to set up makeshift wards, but the musty, derelict buildings like the one she was now stood outside had pretty much been the Order's only choice when the war had started up again after the infamous Two Day Peace. How naïve they'd all been then to think it was really over at last.
They'd half-dragged and half carried Draco over to her, lying him down on a old red chaise longue and calling her over. The second she'd seen the flash of white blonde hair and the pale skin of the now sunken and skinny frame that was Malfoy, she'd backed away and started shouting.
"What's he doing here?" she'd demanded, looking around at the three adults with wide eyes.
"I couldn't just leave him, Hermione," said Andromeda pleadingly. "He's my nephew. We found him while we were fighting, with Lucius and-"
Andromeda's voice cut off and her bottom lip started wobbling. Kingsley patted her on the back.
"We think they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We were too late for his parents -we checked- and he was near enough dead. I know he might not deserve it, but we couldn't very well just leave him to die," said Arthur consolingly.
"He would've if he'd found any of us," Hermione snapped.
"Be that as it may, he's here now."
Arthur's unusually firm tone left no room for negotiation, so Hermione had reluctantly begun the long task of healing him.
She was only stuck there playing nurse anyway because she wasn't good enough for combat. As strong as Hermione Granger was, it had become clear after her first foray into battle that she wasn't strong enough to kill people, and she wasn't strong enough for warfare. But she'd proven that she had a strong stomach so she was designated as a Healer, pushed away from any real conflict with the Death Eaters and she learned to accept her role without protest. She'd learned a lot of stuff during the war.
Snow continued to fall, swirling around in drifts because of the wind but gradually spiraling towards the ground, and Hermione continued to remember.
For a very long time, she continued to hate him. She'd hated him while she healed him, and fed him so he put on the weight he'd lost in the past year, and she'd hated him when he said the first words he'd spoken in the three weeks she'd been tending to him.
Even after his apology - and apology for what she wasn't sure. His actions when they were at school? For her having to treat him now when she clearly didn't want to? - she hated him for not making it easier for her to hate him. He wasn't on a side, so she couldn't even call him a Death Eater at that point, though she'd seen his Mark in the weeks he'd been confined to the chaise, too weak to get up. He'd been a neutralish party, and so had his parents, having been on the run for the best part of a year.
For two days after the Battle of Hogwarts, people really thought it was finally over. The Dark Lord was dead at the cost of many lives, but he was gone. Really gone. For two days, people had had a chance to mourn the dead, prepare them for burial, and celebrate the beginning of a better wizarding world. And then hell had resumed.
Death Eaters, knowing that there was no way they could pretend to have been Imperiused or say they had seen the error of their ways because they had joined Voldemort's cause for a second time and no-one would believe them, had risen up together to restart the fight. They had nothing to lose now. They could die or go to Azkaban, and they knew what they'd rather. So for a year, the war had continued. And for about a year, Hermione had been stuck in the safe house, twiddling her thumbs and healing the sick and injured while Harry and Ron and everybody else tried to kill or capture the remaining Death Eaters.
The chill in the air finally bit into her flesh, and at long last she felt something. Her hair and her face were soaking wet where snowflakes had landed and melted on her, and she could barely feel her fingers which were still squeezing onto the iron bars. She pried them off, hurting herself as she did so because her hand had started to stick to the railing. She looked around, but there was nobody on the street. Nobody was going to hurt her. More was the pity, she thought.
Slowly, by the time he'd been moved to a permanent room in the safe house and he was starting to put on some weight, Hermione's hatred for Draco began to wane. He wasn't the same as he'd been at school, though she didn't know why she'd expected him to be. The war had damaged every single one of them in someway. Especially Harry.
She shuddered now, but it had nothing to do with the chilly air outside. It was the thought. Thinking of her friend and his sad state now was painful. He'd been so sure it was finally over, so after the Two Day Peace had broken, he'd pretty much cracked. The whole situation was so unfair to him. He thought everybody would blame him for it starting up again because he had been the one who was supposed to end it all. Nobody did, but Harry didn't believe it. She rarely saw him now. No-one did, except Ron. He'd become something like Harry's personal body guard, his twenty-four hour suicide watchman, so of course it had put a strain on their relationship, which had died prematurely when the peace had.
Draco had become quiet and withdrawn, which was shocking because Hermione forgot how used she'd been to his arrogance. Struggling to survive with his parents on the run for twelve hard months had mellowed him, and while his lack of haughtiness was surprising and disconcerting, it had paved the way for him to become more sensitive. He thought more before he said things now, which was probably why he said so little.
He'd actually thanked her at one point. It had been three months after he'd arrived, but still. It had startled her. She didn't think she'd ever heard him apologise once. She supposed now that that was where it had started. It had shown her that maybe Draco could be forgiven because he was trying to do the right thing, and so she'd begun to hate him a little less.
But being as lonely as she was had taken its toll on her. Harry and Ron were never around and Ginny had stayed at the Burrow with the other Weasleys now she'd gotten a job at the Ministry trying to help end the war that had raged on for far too long. Plus, the safe house was usually empty during the day while the Order members went about their business. Except for at night, it was mostly just her and Draco in the building.
For weeks they ignored each other, living separate lives in the same building and occasionally encountering the other. There was no sense of hatred between them anymore by this point, but that was as far as they had come. Until one day when Hermione heard the music, it didn't look like that would ever change.
She was only going to get some lunch. But the notes caught her halfway to the kitchen.
She followed the sound of the piano up the stairs and along the first floor corridor with the squeaky floorboards and the rotting carpet, the intense, heavy chords and delicate scales luring her towards the room at the front of the house that for some reason nobody ever used; the room that overlooked these iron railings that fenced off a small patch of grass, a few trees and two benches that apparently passed for a green. She knew actually that if she turned around now and looked up she'd see the big bay window of that very room. One tear dripped down her left cheek and cascaded onto the snowy ground. She didn't want to look.
But she couldn't stop remembering. It seemed important, somehow, that she remembered everything now that he was gone. Everything. Like how she'd tentatively crept towards the slightly open door, the sound of the piano drawing her closer. How she'd pushed the door open a bit more, and peered into the room which she noticed was empty apart from an ancient grand piano that she hadn't even known was in the house in the year she'd been living there, a long piano stool and Draco, who was sat on it. And for some reason, it only clicked at that second that it was Draco who was creating the sound.
She stepped inside and crept closer, not wanting to disturb him, and watched, amazed, as his slender fingers moved with such precision and delicacy up and down the white and black keys. He was hunched over the dusty wooden body of the piano, his eyes closed as he felt his way around the keys rather than looked at them with his face screwed up in concentration. It was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen or heard.
The last note rang out and then Draco opened his eyes and saw Hermione staring at him. He mustn't have known she was there, but he didn't seem startled. She didn't know what to do so she just continued to look at him.
"Did you like it?" he asked. It was the third time he'd spoken to her since he'd arrived.
She nodded. "What was it?"
"Clair de Lune. It's the only thing I can remember right now."
She hadn't even known he could play piano. But then again, she hadn't known anything about him, not really. There was a measured silence as he thought out what he was about to say, like he always did since he'd arrived.
"Do you play?"
"No," she said. "I've always wanted to though."
Another pause descended while he considered his words.
"I could teach you, if you like?" he asked tentatively, as though he was terrified she would say no.
She was going to. But then she realised that she would lose nothing by agreeing. It would pass the time while she was alone in the house anyway.
So she nodded, and then Draco nodded too and shuffled up on the piano stool so she could sit next to him. It was strange for her to be so close to him and not want to run away.
That was the beginning of what she tended to think of as their romance, although she did hate that term. She always had. Everyday, in the afternoon, she would meet Draco in the room that overlooked the green and they would sit together at the piano. Some days he would teach her, showing her scales or chords or helping her to learn a section of the movement that had first brought them together. Some days, she would just watch him play, either Clair de Lune again or other pieces he began to remember as time went on.
Progress for them was slow. Occasional finger brushes as he taught her something, or smiles exchanged when she finally managed a particularly tricky scale, or a cup of tea she brought him when she met up with him were the first few milestones they hit over the summer months. They couldn't forget the past entirely, but in time their feelings blossomed from a hesitant friendship to something more.
As the snow began to fall thicker and faster around her, she knew that she should go inside where it was warm before she started to get ill. Her body temperature was dwindling rapidly, but she wanted to stay outside. The snow was pure and fresh, and made everything look clean and new and hopeful. But her brain called for her to remember, so she couldn't stay hopeful because there was no hope, not now.
Their first kiss hadn't been until autumn, which was about eight months after he'd first turned up and four months since they'd started their piano ritual. It had taken Hermione all that time to learn the various parts of Clair de Lune. She'd practised the bits separately over and over, sometimes under the watchful gaze of Malfoy, sometimes in the mornings before they were supposed to play together, going over it by herself. And on that autumn afternoon, when the golden leaves of the sparse trees on the green were fluttering and falling gently in a light October breeze, she managed to play the whole thing, all the parts of it, without making a mistake. It was slow and clunky and the dynamics weren't right, but she'd done it. For the first time in a long time, she felt incredibly happy. She'd even let out a little whoop of excitement.
"I did it!" she smiled, turning to Draco and seeing that he too was beaming. "I did it, the whole thing!"
"It was beautiful."
"Well, you know, it was hardly perfect, but it was ok, and the point is that-"
He cut her off when his lips gently met hers. She didn't even object. It felt right. It was the first kiss of many.
Things had gone smoothly for a few months then, or as smoothly as they could have. They spent more and more time together, talked more, learned more about each other, and eventually they slept together, which Hermione still maintained was the best experience of her life. He'd left his solitary room and they shared one through December.
She'd spoilt it at Christmas though when she'd coaxed him into telling her what had happened to him on the day he'd turned up, before he'd arrived at the safe house. If she wasn't so numb from the cold, Hermione might had kicked the railing at the memory. She shouldn't have pushed him.
He'd cried when he'd told her they'd just been near the Zabini household that day scavenging for food. They'd been so delirious with hunger they hadn't even registered where they were and who lived nearby, because they would have been in danger from the Zabinis or any other Death Eaters for that matter. They all wanted them dead for not joining the cause. They'd been scouring the dustbins when the fight had broken out. His mother and father, he had sobbed, had gotten caught up in the crossfire and he'd watched them die. Both of them. And then he'd gotten hit with a few spells as well, and that was all he could remember.
That day, she broke the new, sensitive Draco she had grown to love. He changed again. He became even more quiet, until one day when his eyes filled with an intense, obsessive flare and his new passion was created. Maybe she'd provoked him into thinking about his actions in the past and his circumstances by bringing up that day so many months ago, because all of a sudden he'd decided he owed the Order a huge debt.
"They took me in, Hermione, even when they didn't have to," he'd said, with a small smile on his face, like what he was saying was simple enough to comprehend. "I have to give them something back."
But the way he'd wanted to repay his debts terrified her.
"Draco, you can't just... just run off and decide to fight with them, alright? You can't. It's too dangerous; I might lose you. In fact... I bet they won't even let you," she'd gabbled desperately.
He'd thought of that. "I already asked Kingsley last night. He said he's not sure, but he might be able to manage it. He just needs to convince the others that-"
"Stop!" she'd screamed, scared of the bright gleam in his eyes when he spoke of running off and leaving her. "It's suicide, Draco! You'll die. You're not going, ok? I forbid it."
"Hermione," he said softly, desperately. She remembered how desolate he had looked. He wanted to help so badly. "Please don't do this."
She'd known it was selfish, but she hadn't cared. "Promise me you won't go. Swear to me now, that you won't do it."
He hadn't even been able to look at her then. But he swallowed grimly and took her hand. "Alright then. I promise."
But he'd lied.
Hermione physically cried out as she felt her chest constrict again. Why was she remembering? She needed to forget.
It had been three weeks since he'd promised, and nearly two weeks since the day her world fell apart. The day he'd gone on another raid with some Order members. The day he'd left and never came back, because he couldn't come back. Because he'd been caught in the crossfire like his parents.
The tears started again, stinging her sore, cold face, and she felt her legs give way beneath her. She landed with a soft thump on the wet ground, the dampness of the snow creeping up her dressing gown and soaking her pyjamas through in seconds.
He'd made her care, and then he'd left her, taking her heart with him. She'd spent tonight remembering because she wanted to recall all the good times, but right now, she decided she wished she'd never met him because it hurt too much.
The moon still shone down and she sobbed on the floor, her teeth chattering, her body going numb and her entire body tingling with pain from the bitter cold. The clumps of snow carried on floating down, oblivious to her heartbreak. She just wanted to forget.
And then suddenly, she knew something with absolute clarity. She knew what she had to do.
She took out her wand from her dressing gown pocket, stood up, pointed it at her own temple and muttered, "Obliviate."
It took her a good thirty seconds to recover from the spell, by which point she'd collapsed again. And then she found herself wondering why she was soaked wet through and sat on the pavement outside the safehouse like a lunatic in the middle of the night. So she picked herself up and hurried inside. She changed into dry pyjamas and slipped off into an easy sleep.
She never thought of Draco again, simply because she didn't remember him. She'd forgotten, like she'd wanted, though she couldn't rid herself of him entirely.
All her life, she never quite understood why she could suddenly feel very sad at random times. Like whenever it snowed. There were times where she'd become so overwhelmed with loss she'd feel an almost physical pain, but for the life of her she couldn't figure out why.
But the most curious thing of all was that whenever she heard the sound of a piano, she'd begin to weep. But the odd thing was, though she felt sad, the tears weren't tears of sorrow. They were nostalgic, happy tears, though it infuriated her that she had no clue why she felt that way.
For the rest of her life, she would never remember what she told herself she wanted to forget. But she remembered how to play Clair de Lune.