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A Man Barely Breathing by Dark Whisper

Format: Short story
Chapters: 4
Word Count: 9,791

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Sensitive topic/issue/theme

Genres: Drama, Romance
Characters: Hermione, Blaise (M), Draco
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 03/29/2011
Last Chapter: 11/11/2014
Last Updated: 11/11/2014

Hermione files for Divorce and even though his heart feels the stab of a thousand knives... he lets her.

"You ever love somebody so much, you can barely breathe when you’re with them?"   – EMINEM. From: "Love the Way You Lie."      For crestwood’s… 'The Eminem Quote Challenge.'

Banner by (sol) @ TDA!  Thank you!

Chapter 2: Talking to Mother - Divorce Date

The miserable days of my life turned into dismal weeks and finally the dreaded court date was here, or rather... the Divorce Date.

Blaise came to the Manor early, just as he had promised. He didn’t need to kick me out of bed, as I was already up. I hadn’t slept.

Just before sunup I took a walk to the northern most area of the property to the family cemetery. I could’ve apparated there, but I wanted to walk the grounds. My walk started in the blackest part of morning, but by the time I got to my mother’s grave, the sunrise was casting a thousand colors on the Malfoy grounds.

“Mother,” I said aloud as I placed a few hand-picked flowers on her headstone that I happened to come across along the way.

“I know you are not really here, but I do need some motherly advice right about now.”

The only sound I heard was a few birds singing their morning song.

“She’s divorcing me.”

I could barely say it... barely get the words out, having to pause before I could continue speaking.

“Which is worse than death, really because… at least when someone dies, they must leave… it is not their choice.

“But Mum, she is leaving me by choice… and I’m not sure…" 

I had to clear the lump in my throat as my hand went to my chest, feeling Hermione's wedding ring dangling from the necklace hidden underneath my clothes.

"I'm not sure how to live with it.”

I know it seems foolish to be talking to someone who isn’t there. But talking to the memory of her just felt right. Knowing her body was only a few feet from me was the closest to her that I could get.

“I’m not sure how to fix it because I didn’t do anything wrong… at least not to her. I never raised a hand to her. I never treated her badly or spoke ill will of her. I never cheated on her. I never worked too late or too much. I adored her, spoiled her, and loved her with everything in me. I still do.”

The sun rose higher in the sky and I knew I didn’t have much time.

“She was always my weakness, you know. I always let her have her own way, even in leaving me. She withdrew from me and I let her. She left me and I let her. And now that she is divorcing me, I will let her. I let her because I love her and if I have caused her shame, then I want her rid of me so that she no longer has to bear it.”

I looked down at her grave then and recalled her face just as I remembered her.

“Mother… I desperately need an answer. How can I stop this? If you could somehow magically send me a message… now would be the time to do it.”

No message came, of course. No advice from the grave.

I would’ve paid heavily for a magical stone to bring her back for a moment. I had no magic in my wand that would conjure a brief encounter with her soul.

I asked myself, "How would Mum make everything better?"

The only thing I could think of was her comforting me as a child. She would find me lying down on my bed or on a couch or even the floor sometimes, upset at something father said or did. She would get close to me and would move her lovely long fingernails across my back, giving me a most wonderful back-scratch or run her fingers in my hair like a mother would. And it wouldn’t take long before all of my worries had evaporated and I was fast asleep.

Her caring touch had been healing to a child’s soul.

“I guess I’d better go before Blaise shows up and starts wondering what country I ran off to.”

I let out a long sigh, never knowing how to end my conversation with her in the grave. The normal, ‘see you around’ or ‘take care’ type of goodbyes never fit. So I would just turn and leave.

This morning wasn’t any different. I turned and made my way back down the lonely cobblestone path back to the Manor, remembering all the times I had walked this same path with Hermione… always holding my hand.

When I got closer, I saw Blaise waiting on top of the grand steps of the back of the place, dumping out whatever beverage he had been drinking. He never was one for coffee or tea.

“How can you call yourself a Brit and hate hot tea?” I asked when I got close enough.

“It’s entirely too early and I thought an attempt at caffeine would help. But I just can’t do it. I tried.  Really, I did. It tastes like someone mowed the grass, gathered some clippings, and added hot water. I don’t know how anyone drinks it. It’s the same for coffee.  Just add fertilized dirt for added putrid taste and color.”

Leave it to Blaise to make me laugh on my darkest hour.

“An energy drink then?” I offered.

“Liquid candy after I’ve just tasted boiled grass clippings? I’ll pass.”

I chuckled again, then shook my head as we entered the Manor.

Blaise disappeared for a moment only to reappear with a bottle of my mouthwash.

“This will make it better,” he voiced as he took a swig of it, gargling it all the way to my kitchen to spit it out in the sink. He did it four times before the lingering tea taste was gone and I swear he drank some of it.

As he was doing this, I stood watching the antique grandfather clock ticking away the time to the end of my marriage. Every tick bringing me closer to the time when Hermione would no longer be my wife.

I whipped out my wand and Stupefied it at thirteen minutes ‘til my marriage was over. I knew I had not really stopped time. But I couldn’t stand the ticking. They were like little Cruciatus blows sending pain directly to my head.

Blaise came in and sat down, knowing we still had some time before we needed to apparate.

“Sit down, Draco. I want to say something.”

He must’ve been watching me more carefully than I thought because I had actually swayed a bit, suddenly feeling weak as no sleep and days of only eating an occasional apple were beginning to take its toll. Or maybe it was the desperate situation weighing down on me. I wasn’t sure.

I obliged, feeling like I was going to be sick if I didn’t sit.

“I’m sorry this is happening,” he said finally. “I know how much you loved her.”

I looked up at him. “Please don’t say it as if it were past tense. I love her still.”

“What happened exactly? There’s been all kinds of speculation in the media.”

“All I know is that my business dealings caused good people to lose their jobs and she was ridiculed and became ashamed of being a Malfoy. It had nothing to do with me treating her badly or cheating or not loving her.”

“That’s it?” he asked as if it were incredible.


“Are you sure she’s not under the Imperious curse or some other potion or something?”

“Trust me. I already looked at it at every angle. She isn’t being bewitched or anything. I’m sure of it. I would like to think that she still loves me, but just doesn’t want to be a Malfoy anymore. I suspect it, but I don’t know for sure. My wedding vows remain intact. And I’ll love, honor, and cherish her until the day I die… no matter her last name.”

Blaise nodded his head and we shared a moment of silence then. A moment of silence to commemorate a marriage life well lived… a marriage that was now dead.

I felt like I wasn't really going to Divorce Court.  I was going to a funeral... the death of my marriage.  And I was going to watch a judge seal the coffin and bury all the happiness I had ever had on this earth and put it in the ground.

Blaise finally broke the sorrowful silence. 

“Let’s go,” he demanded, standing from his seat.

But I couldn’t. I just sat there shaking my head profusely like a child that doesn’t want the spanking he knows is coming.

I was about to get teary-eyed in front of Blaise, but he stopped me.

“Don’t you dare start crying on me, Draco Malfoy! Get up, now!” he ordered. “You will get through this with your head held high because you’ve done nothing wrong.”

“If you weren’t my best friend I would curse you for ordering me around.”

“You asked me to be here, precisely for this reason. And I’m rather enjoying myself ordering you around for a change. Now let’s go," he replied using a noticeably gentler tone.

I stood then. And the last thing I remember thinking while still at the Manor was that soon I would be seeing her. It had been so long since I’d actually seen her.

But then I thought... the courthouse might very well be the last time I’d ever be in the same room with her.

As soon as we apparated, the cameras began clicking at our every move. Reporters descended upon us like a swarm of killer bees.

I said nothing as they berated us with the most horrible of questions.

I no longer hated the thought of going into the courthouse, as I began to look forward to getting away from the media to see my love, even if it was for the last time.

“Do you think your ex-wife will re-unite with Ronald Weasley?” I heard one reporter say.

The comment made me want to punch him, but I knew that was exactly what he wanted me to do so that he could sue me.

“When this is over, will you re-open your office and close more businesses?”

“Do you think Hermione was only after your money from the beginning?”

“Just how much alimony will she be getting… one lump sum or payments?”

“We have no comment,” Blaise replied adamantly.

“Blaise Zabini…” one reporter recognized. “Blaise, as his best friend, what will Draco Malfoy do with his free time? Will he be looking for the new Mrs. Malfoy soon or does he already have someone on the side waiting?”

“You people are sick,” I heard Blaise say just before we pushed through the door.

Once inside, security officials from the Ministry confiscated our wands, which was something I understood, but hated. Divorce court had the potential to get very ugly and at times violent, even with the most subdued and reserved wizards and witches.

I walked into the courtroom angry. Honestly, I didn’t know what emotion I might have, but I can tell you that anger wasn’t expected. Great sorrow, yes… but not anger.

I was furious. Furious at her for putting us through this. I let her have her way with everything. Was I supposed to just sit back and let this happen?

My eyes scanned the place for her, but she wasn’t there yet apparently.

My lawyer was waiting for me at the front.

“Where is she?” I practically growled at the man.

“Not here yet. Have you read your divorce papers like I told you?”

“No. Do I really need to? I told you to give her whatever she wants.” I quickly changed the subject. “What happens if she doesn’t show?”

“It doesn’t mean much. All you really have to do is agree to the terms and sign it.”

“I don’t really agree to the divorce.  How am I to agree with the terms? What if I don’t sign it?”

“The judge can grant her a divorce no matter if you sign it or not.”

“I have to talk to her.”

Just then Hermione, the love of my pathetic life strolled in. It wasn’t a stroll exactly, but she sure didn’t need any help.

I desperately wanted her to look at me, but she didn’t. I tried to read her expression; look into her face to see if she had been crying or at the very least, look sorry or feel bad.

I swallowed hard as my eyes met hers. I had to remind myself to breathe.

She looked beautiful. And yes, I saw it… a hint of sorrow in her eyes. As if she didn’t really want this.

I had to fight the urge to run to her, pick her up, and apparate her home, but there were several Aurors protecting her, including Potter.

I don’t know why she needed protecting, as I never would’ve hurt her.

As the judge made his way to the bench, I turned to my lawyer.

“You will ask the judge to postpone or request a private courtroom. I don’t want this to happen in front of the magical world. It’s none of their business.”

“Too late to postpone. But I can request privacy.”

Everything was happening so fast.  My marriage was flat-lining and my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going into cardiac arrest. 

“Silence!” the judge demanded as the gavel slammed down.

My eyes went back to Hermione. She seemed to be staring off into the space in front her.

“Case number 25… 34… 61. Malfoy vs. Malfoy.  A File for Divorcement,” the judge bellowed.

My lawyer quickly shot up and announced, “My client requests a private courtroom to discuss this matter.”

“The deadline for such a request was last week.” The judge scowled at my lawyer. “You missed it,” he spat.

“Such request was only presented by my client this morning, your Honor.”

He looked at Hermione’s lawyer with a stare.

“And does your client object to a private courtroom?”

Her lawyer glanced at her briefly. “She has no objection.”

“Alright. I’ll see them alone in my chambers now.”

The courtroom crowd made a low grumbling noise of disappointment.

Both of our lawyers stood in protest.

“Without representation?” mine asked first.

“All the paperwork in front of me is perfectly sound. It only needs the signature of Draco Malfoy. I don’t believe they will have need of you. But stick around should I have need to finalize things.”

The judge looked at me peculiar-like and then to Hermione.

“I will see Mrs. Malfoy first. Then Mr. Malfoy. Then if need be, both of them together.”

He spoke directly to Hermione then. “I go in first. Then the bailiff will come back to escort you in.”

She nodded her understanding. It was all security protocol, of course. The judge was to be protected.

When the bailiff called for her, she stood and moved quietly around the desk, continuing her stare into nothing as they walked.

God, I loved her. Why was this happening? I’d give all my money away to prevent this from happening. She had been only a few feet from me. Was this the closest that I’d ever get to her again?

I started to hyperventilate a little and just then I felt a hand on my back giving me an encouraging nudge. It was Blaise trying to calm me down. It was distraction enough to calm my breathing.

My lawyer poured me a glass of water and I drank it as yet another distraction.

I looked over at Harry who was gawking at me. “Why?” I mouthed to him.

He only looked surprised that I would ask such a thing.

I turned from him and clasped my hands together. I didn’t care who saw me or what they would write in the paper the next day. Truly I didn’t care. I bowed my head.

“Please, God. It seems I need another miracle,” I breathed quietly.

‘Another’ meaning my answered prayer during the war; a prayer to be delivered from evil.

She was gone only a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity.  When she returned, the bailiff turned his back to Hermione as if to be her protective shield.

“Mr. Malfoy, the judge will see you now.”

Fear wrapped its claws around my throat. I hadn’t been that scared or felt so helpless since I was pointing a wand at Professor Dumbledore. 

But I knew... no one was going to help me get out of this nightmare.  And somehow, someway, I'd have to remember to just keep breathing....

Author's Note:

Draco truly hoped he could hear his mother's voice tell him what to do, but that hadn't happened.  His mother was dead... and so was his marriage.

Dark Whisper