CHAPTER THREE: The Calm after the Storm
The longer Hermione stayed at the Malfoy Manor, the more restless she became. No—it wasn’t because she wanted to leave or because Draco was making her uncomfortable—but because as each day passed by and she didn’t say anything, the further Draco drifted away.
Not that they were close to begin with.
But it was fate that brought them together for the sole purpose that he could help her—she truly believed that. But she still couldn’t speak. Still couldn’t tell him what she wanted to.
It was the end of their fourth week. After Sunday, there would be two more weeks before their return to Hogwarts.
Aside from the breakfast that they shared, they had nothing. Hermione though, with all the time in her hands, noticed a pattern in Malfoy’s activities.
After breakfast he’d go do his errands, come back for lunch, go swimming and working out, before going out again for whatever duties his mother delegated to him, before coming back for dinner. After dinner, she watched him, fascinated, as he made his way through the Manor Gardens.
It was always by moonlight.
Now, Hermione wasn’t much of a romantic girl, but she found that this activity, no matter how trivial it may have been to Malfoy, gave a certain yearning in her heart.
She inspected the feeling thoroughly. She would sit in the green room and read, before finding that she’d abandoned the book and was just staring blankly into space.
That night, she saw him again.
But this time, he’d seemed different. He looked as though he hadn’t wanted to be alone (how she suddenly became so perceptive of people she didn’t know) but even then, he’d pulled on his robes and made his way to the patio doors which led to the garden.
Hermione made the split decision to join him.
She panicked, knowing that she couldn’t catch him, and if he got too far ahead, she’d lose him. Without even thinking, she spoke.
She was nearly as stunned as he. His head whipped around and he gapped at her.
Hermione didn’t know how long they stood there just staring at each other, twenty metres in between them. Her heart pounded, my voice is back, she thought.
Draco seemed to snap out of the spell that held them both enchanted. He extended his hand to her, and gratefully, she went to him.
What brought on this sudden change of heart? Draco thought, as he felt Hermione’s cool hand slip into his.
It felts so small in his hand, which he’d never, considered big, but now dwarfed hers.
He didn’t want to break the silence. Funny how she’d been silent for so long, and each day he’d lost more and more hope to helping her—and finally she’d snapped out of it—he didn’t want it to end.
But deep down in his heart, he knew why he didn’t want her to speak.
She was going to tell him the truth...
That was the type of person Hermione Granger was, he knew. Even though they hadn’t been close, she would insist on giving him an explanation—and though part of him was being eaten up with curiosity; the other part didn’t want to know.
He looked scared.
Hermione snuck a glance at Draco, who continued to hold her hand lightly, guiding her through the gardens.
The scent of the moonlight mingled with that of the flora and fauna, and some part of her felt happy... she felt released.
She knew she had to tell him the truth. He deserved that much.
‘Draco...’ her voice sounded husky. Whether it was from emotion, or the lack of use of her vocal chords, she’d never know. ‘I—‘
‘Hermione you don’t have to,’ he tried to detach himself. He stubbornly refused to meet her seeking eyes.
‘But I do--.’ she insisted. He was looking everywhere but to her, ‘Draco, Look at ME!!!’
His eyes snapped to hers.
Cold grey eyes to warm chocolate ones—he faced her.
It was her turn to hesitate. How could she tell him that—that she’d lost the guy she’d loved? Would it sound stupid to him? She had no doubt that the Draco Malfoy she’d left behind at Hogwarts would have thought so.
What made this Draco so different?
He almost wished that he were back to the cold, unfeeling Malfoy that she’d known.
He had no doubt that she would have just walked away from him without remorse, and definitely not trust him with her secrets.
What made him so different?
‘Hermione, please... I don’t want to know--,’ he went to turn away.
Draco saw it in her eyes. The pain, the anguish... the love...
The love for that Saint Potter that he’d always hated. The Boy-Who-Lived... the boy that he’d tried to be friends with at the first year of Hogwarts, bitterly rejected and had tried to compete with ever since then.
He’d never won.
And even from the grave, he was still pulling his punches.
Draco had had enough—no way was he going to compete with Harry Potter anymore.
‘NO!’ he was taken aback by the menacing tone in Hermione’s voice.
‘SIT DOWN!’ she pushed him so that he fell to the ground.
‘You’re not going to punch me again are you?’ he tried to lighten the situation, remembering the time in third year when she’d knocked him for six.
‘SHUT UP AND LISTEN,’ Draco couldn’t help but think that the return of her voice also returned her power and her bossiness.
Hermione’s heart thudded.
She’d just pushed him to the ground, and now he looked up at her, gapping at her new found strength.
Come on Hermione, say it! She edged herself on.
‘The war... it killed so many people,’ she sank onto her knees next to him.
‘... good people, bad people—it was bad enough as it was...’
She saw that Draco turned away, but somehow knew she still had his attention.
‘... but what really gutted me was Harry’s death. That’s normal right? I mean, missing your best friend? It would be weird if I didn’t miss him... right?’
Hermione jabbered on, looking frantically for Draco’s reassurance. He merely nodded.
‘... Though, I now know I have to admit that it’s more than that... Draco—I loved him.’
And all the anguish of the few weeks finally came running out, pouring themselves through her eyes rapidly.
She found herself enclosed in Draco’s arms.
So there it was—the words Draco had known were coming.
I loved him.
Those three words were enough to wrench the guts from his body, THREE WORDS.
I loved him.
The guy that she loved had died and left her alone.
It all made sense now; her sudden arrival at Malfoy Manor and picking a fight with him.
She’d thrown herself into the arms of her worst enemy so that she wouldn’t have to live life without Harry.
Draco tested the word in his dry mouth, ‘enemy.’
He gathered Hermione into his arms. He knew that she needed him. No matter how hard it felt to hold her in his arms, sobbing her heart out about his enemy, he knew he had to do it.
He soothed her hair as her breathing constricted and relaxed.
They sat there for about five minutes... not that he’d been counting. It would have been too easy for him to hold her in his arms forever.
But she pulled back from him once she’d calmed.
‘Draco I’m so sorry— I...’
He didn’t let her finish.
In the split second when she’d let go, a billion thoughts raced through his brain. Three stood out the most.
One: was how empty his arms felt without her.
Two: was that she shouldn’t have to bear being alone.
And Three: he vowed to be with her for as long as she needed him.
And those thoughts added up to one solution.
He kissed her.
A/N : Thanks dear friends who comment, and those that dont-- that's okay. Lol. But sorry that Chapter Two didn't come up as quickly as possible... I have no control over when it goes up-- so yeah. Well, hope you enjoyed. We will be seeing Hogwarts soon. Lol (okay maybe not too soon. Love Kei
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