CHAPTER SEVEN: Letting Go
Draco wasn’t stupid. He’d known something was wrong with Hermione.
The train ride back to Hogwarts had been sheer hell for him. Hermione had smiled reassuringly, cuddled up to him—after all, Ron now knew about them, so it was okay to be seen together—but there was something missing in her eyes.
Draco tried to convince himself that she was probably just tired.
Or maybe she was just missing Harry—it was their first Christmas apart.
Could she possibly be reflecting on their time at home?
Draco didn’t really know—and the more he tried to convince himself that something wasn’t wrong, the more disgusted at himself he became.
Because he knew what was happening... deep down he knew... that finally Hermione was getting hold of her sense and she was starting to see him as what he really was. Her enemy.
Now Draco had been pretty paranoid about this since the beginning, but he couldn’t help it. It’s not everyday that the girl you’ve fa--
It’s not every day that someone you cared about thought of you as something lower than dirt.
And though she didn’t right now—it would only be a matter of time when she was back to normal and remember all the stupid (and cruel) things he’d done to her and her friends. And when that happened... what next?
Harry’s letter had caught Hermione completely off-guard.
She hadn’t expected it. But what hit her the hardest was that he was right. Harry—though she loved him—was right about so many things, and she hated him for it.
She thought she was happy with how things were with Draco. Their ‘undefined’ relationship suited her perfectly. It was her being able to seek comfort in Draco’s arms without feeling disloyal to Harry.
But Hermione knew she was being completely selfish.
How fair was it to Draco that Harry still occupied her thoughts... and admittedly, her heart?
And how fair was it Harry that every day that she vowed to love him... she found herself fa--
She found herself caring for someone else.
It was killing her... this decision that she had to make.
What neither Hermione nor Draco knew was that Ron had also received a letter from Harry.
Ron had been so completely bowled over by it that he’d looked over his shoulder, expecting to see Harry’s ghost—because his best friend had been so perceptive.
He wondered whether Harry, not only the ‘boy-who-lived’ and the ‘boy-who-killed-you-know-who’ and a parsel tongue... was also gifted with the vision for the future?
He thought it unlikely, or else Harry would have confided in him and Hermione, or even went to lengths to avoid his death, but he’d done neither.
Harry had known that Draco and Hermione were developing a relationship far more significant that calling each other ‘Ferret’ and ‘Mudblood’ in blazing intervals. Far more important than slapping each other, or kicking each other, or making each other cry.
Help them be together.
Well it’s easy for you to say, Harry ol’ pal... but I think your letter was about two hours too late. He knew that the seeds of doubt had been ingrained into Draco’s thoughts—and he also had a sneaking suspicion that Hermione had her’s too.
Ron sighed and went into the Head’s common room, where Hermione looked up.
‘That was a big sigh,’ she commented as she resumed her writing.
‘Boys don’t sigh,’ Ron ignored the underlying question.
‘What was that then?’ she challenged him.
‘It was an exclamation of annoyance,’ he responded, flopping down onto the seat.
He observed his best friend. From the little girl she’d been when they first met six years ago; she’d become a young woman. Ron was so proud of her—he noticed that she was noticed whenever they walked down the corridor.
Of course that may have something to do with the ‘Head Girl’ badge she wore... but nevertheless.
‘Ronald Weasley, why are you staring at me?’ she demanded.
‘You love Malfoy,’ he hadn’t meant to blurt it out.
Hermione’s eyes narrowed at him. She opened her mouth to deny it or confirm it—which one, Ron would never know—because Hermione closed her mouth abruptly and asked Ron instead, what he thought they would be having for dinner.
‘I didn’t know what to say Gin... it was like... ‘ Hermione broke off.
She was sitting in the Quidditch stands, Ginny and Ron had been practising, but Ginny had taken herself off for a breather and sat to keep Hermione company.
‘Don’t mind him. He’s pretty obnoxious,’ Ginny waved her worries away.
‘It wasn’t Ron’s fault—but I just don’t think it’s normal, do you? When someone accuses you of loving someone—shouldn’t you have a reaction? Any reaction?’
Ginny thought for a moment.
‘So what do you feel for Draco?’
Hermione felt the tears of frustration welling up in her eyes.
‘I don’t know... I really don’t. I suppose I haven’t really thought about it—because he’s never pushed me. He’s always let me just go at my own pace,’ she smiled bitterly.
‘Then if he’s happy with it, why aren’t you?’
‘Because it isn’t fair Ginny... it’s not fair when you don’t know where you stand...’
‘Well do you know where you stand with him?’ Ginny shot back.
‘No... but I’m not the one wondering if the person I’m seeing is in love with a dead person—I told him Gin—I told him I loved Harry...’
Gin gave a low whistle.
‘Then maybe you should explain to him what you’re going through? Maybe he’ll understand. Give you more time?’
‘What am I supposed to say Ginny? Hey Draco, I loved having you over at Christmas... oh did I tell you that I heard your conversation with Ron AND I got a letter from Harry... that’s why I’m so confused. So could you give me another six years to figure out if I’ll ever love you more than Harry or maybe what I’m feeling for you is just gratitude?’
Ginny put her hands up, ‘Touchy touchy.’
Neither girl saw the figure standing just off the side, waiting for his teams turn for Quidditch practise.
Draco now knew what he had to do.
Hermione walked down the corridor intent on getting to the library. She’d heard this crazy rumour that Draco had been terrorising first year students.
This troubled her.
Ever since they’d returned to Hogwarts at the start of the year, he’d seemed softer, more humane. She’d even heard that he helped a first year get her bag onto the train on that first day. He’d stopped being unbearable... he’d changed.
What could have brought this sudden return to his old ways?
‘Excuse me, have you seen Draco Malfoy?’ she asked a young girl.
‘No miss,’ came the reply.
Hermione waited for fifteen minutes before realising he wouldn’t be coming. He was never late for their meetings—even though the secret was out, they still kept their rendezvous.
Where the hell is he?
Draco looked as if he were made of stone, as he waited for Hermione to realise he wouldn’t be coming to the library. He stood outside the Head’s Common room.
‘Draco! Thank goodness you’re here! I was getting so worried when you didn’t show up!’ she appealed to him, placing a hand on his forearm.
He nodded, ‘We need to talk...’
Hermione’s smile faded. It was already breaking Draco’s heart. Her hand dropped off from his arm.
‘Yeah we do... as head girl, you know it’s my job to investigate any bullying happening right? And I’ve been hearing rumours that you’ve been particularly nasty to the first years...’
No one moved. It looked like Hermione was expecting him to deny it.
‘It’s true isn’t it?’ she whispered.
‘It’s who I am Hermione,’ he shifted so that his gaze no longer met hers, ‘I can’t force myself to change.’
‘Draco that’s bull--,’
He cut her off.
‘Tell me--,’ he paused, ‘what are we?’
‘What do you mean?’ she asked stupidly, her collar heating up. Suddenly, the conversation she’d tried so hard to avoid was staring her at the face.
‘What do you feel for me?’ he grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall. ‘For God’s sake Hermione—for once in your life be brave and admit it!’
There was so much emotion in his eyes, and frankly it was scaring her.
‘Draco—you’re hurting me!’ she yelped, and ‘me’ ended up on a sob.
He quickly let go of her, letting her drop onto the floor.
It took all of his willpower not to crouch beside her and comfort her. He had to remember that he was doing this for her, to make it easier for her—
‘Answer me!’ he yelled, startling her.
‘I thought I loved you—‘ she spat out at him, pulling herself off the ground.
That’s the way Hermione just let it out, Draco silently willed her.
‘I thought that you’d changed—that we were good for each other—I was under the misconception that you helped me and I helped you,’ she continued on.
‘But now I can see I was mistaken. That everything in the last four months was a lie—was a BIG, FAT LIE, because you,’ she pointed at him scathingly, ‘YOU are nothing but a no good, lying, bullying—Slytherin.’
Draco didn’t speak. It hurt too much. Though he knew this confrontation would practically kill him, he was unprepared for the cold fist that clenched over his heart.
‘God what an idiot am I huh? I actually thought I loved you!’ Hermione choked on her words, ‘But now that I see you for who you really are—I know that I can’t—I can’t—‘
By now they were toe-to-toe and nose-to-nose.
‘... you can’t love me.’ he completed for her.
It was the realisation.
Both hers and his—
He held his breath as he walked away from her. Because he knew that if he let that breath out—he would say something to make her feel better—to take back everything he’d said—or he would kiss her—but worst of all...
The sob that was encased in his throat may have been let out—alerting Hermione to the true devastation that he’d just endured.
He wouldn’t do that to her.
He’d let go.
She was free.
A/N: Hey all, long time no hear! I'm glad that I'm getting new reviewers as well as those who've been here the length of the way through! Well its nearly the end. Next chap after this is the epilogue. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Annie-mo once more! Thanks mate!!! -- And of course I cant forget a shoutout to dearest Cam and Rachael!
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