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Dedicated to quidditch7.



 
Chapter 15, Keep Running Up That Hill

 

Thin shivers of harsh sunshine that permeated through the bare branches of the dense trees, catching her eyes and making her squint. The snow crunched underneath her heavy winter boots as her legs carried her down the forest track, the pavement hidden beneath the thick layer of snow. The breaths came out in small puffs, solidifying for a moment as heavy mist on that icy winter morning before dissipating into the air. The steady beat of her heart set the pace at which she ran along the forest, the ice and soggy leaves underneath the heavy snow making the way treacherous and slippery, but she was not aware of this. Her chest was aching and heaving from the exertion and freezing cold, her feet, despite the thick woollen socks and winter boots were numb with cold from the snow underfoot and her face was so red and raw from the harsh wind it had gone numb half an hour ago, but she continued on despite the stitch, the lack of energy and the lack of air. Really she couldn’t stop, her body and her thoughts wouldn’t let her so she ran on up the hill, through the forest until she would probably collapse.

 

It doesn’t hurt me,

You wanna feel how it feels

You wanna know, know that it doesn’t hurt me

You wanna hear about the deal I’m making

 

Hermione felt as if she were carrying a dead weight in the pit of her stomach as she listened to the Reverend say the sermon in his monotone voice that carried through the graveyard and past the sea of headstones on that wintry Friday morning. Her shoulders felt weighed down, far worse than it had ever been by the heavy book bags she would continuously carry around Hogwarts. Her heart was beating against her breast, but it felt alien and harsh and heavy. Her thoughts felt as oppressed as whatever was lying in her stomach. Were she a philosopher she would assume this feeling to be the deepest form of grief and despair, but she was not. The only coherent thought she had was that she wished she were anywhere but here at the graveyard, attending the funeral of her beloved aunt.

 

You can (keep running up that hill)

You and me (keep running up that hill)

 

Her thoughts felt free here, as she ran along the track, for the first time in days she did not feel like she was suppressing herself and it felt wonderful. Her legs carried her down the track of their own accord, but she did not mind, and even the sun, which would occasionally dart out from behind the oppressive grey clouds did not feel as harsh any more. Her eyes were mesmerised by the sight of the lone sun in between the grey sky, the treetop branches snapping at it in the wind. It was a lone branch that caught her in her face, cutting a gash across her cheek as she gazed up at the sun and she silently cursed her foolishness for not watching where she was going. Her fingers numbly went to the cut and she found blood on her gloved hands, the bright red contrasting sharply with her white woollen gloves. A drop splattered onto the snow-covered ground. The crimson looked so alien among the fresh pure snow, tainting the beauty that it held. The blood was seeping into her gloves and soon there would be a stain, but she did not care. She picked up her sluggish and heavy feet and ran on up the hill, the absence of animals and noise making the heavy thudding of her feet seem unbearable.

 

And if I only could,

Make a deal with God

Get him to swap our places

Be running up that road

Be running up that hill

Be running up that building

If I only could

 

Hermione looked over and saw that her mother’s head was bent low, her hair hiding her features, but she could tell that her mother was crying. Her father looked up and for a moment they held each other’s gaze, one’s eyes speaking of the fear it held within its heart while the other showed the oppressive weight of mourning. The Reverend paused for a moment in his reflection of Rosie Walker’s life, he had known her personally for many years and Hermione could tell from the pained look on his face that he too was taking her death hard. During these precious few moments of silence Hermione gazed around the congregation gathered around the open grave on top of which her casket now lay. Hermione recognized many, but many more were strangers and it struck her at that moment how very little she knew of her aunt’s life outside of her involvement with the Grangers over the years. It shamed her to realise that over the last few years, ever since she had started Hogwarts that she had neglected her relationship with her dear aunt and now it was too late. At that moment she wished so strongly she could be back at Hogwarts, anywhere but here at this grave, but she was not to receive her wish. A tear slid unconsciously down her cheek as she yearned for the comforting arms of Ron and Harry.

Her thoughts had been such a jumbled mess for days that it came as a shock to her aggrieved mind that she realised with perfect clarity she shouldn’t be here; that she should never have come home.

The tolling of the church bells began at that moment and Hermione looked at her wristwatch to see that it was noon already. The loud clangs of the electric bells in the clock tower awoke most of the congregation from their stupor and they gazed around at each other, unsure of what to do or what to say. Once the twelve chimes had finished the Reverend took a deep breath and began once again. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul…”

Hermione was distracted from the Reverend’s prayer when she felt her father give her shoulder a gentle squeeze and she gazed up at him, her features trying to smile, but she couldn’t. He nodded silently at her and returned his gaze back towards the Reverend. He had understood her inability to speak and express her feelings and the wonderful thing she had always loved about him is that he never pressed her to reveal them either.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”.

With those words, it seemed a dam within Hermione’s mind had finally been breached and for a moment she feared she would drown with the feeling of grief that was overwhelming her mind and her body. She tried desperately to cling to some form of reality, but she couldn’t. A silent gasp was all that would alert the others to her cry for help, but they would not hear. Her mind was spinning, reeling from the pain, falling ever further downward into the spiralling pit of despair and Hermione could do nothing to stop it. From the outside she was a picture of composure, but inside her turmoil-filled mind she was losing grip. She looked around her, but could not see. They were ghosts treading on this earth and she felt incredibly lonely. Panic was rising deep in the pit of her stomach and moving further upward, like bile and as it increased, the fear began to paralyse her, taking hold of her limbs, her speech and her ability to express herself. Hermione felt locked within her own body and it terrified her more than anything she had ever experienced.

Before she could really understand what had just happened to her, the horrible feeling was gone, and she looked around her to see that nearly everyone was gone. The Reverend was closing up his Bible and conversing in low tones with her father and her grandmother, her mother was still standing rigidly beside her. Most of the congregation were slowly making their way out of the small graveyard and back towards the car park to resume their daily lives, acting as if nothing more had happened than a glitch in their lives.

Her father made his way back to Hermione and her mother; his face serious and he took his wife by the arm and looked expectantly at Hermione.

“Are you alright Hermione?”

All Hermione could do was nod, so she did and he asked once again.

“Would you like a few moments? Your mother and I can go ahead back to the car”. Hermione was grateful for her father’s intuitive sense and she barely nodded her head before turning back to face the casket, the sight mesmerising.

The Reverend had gone and Hermione stared at the mahogany casket and the assortment of colourful wreaths lying on top of it. One read “Dearest Sister” while another proclaimed “Friend”. All held messages of grief and condolence and instead of making Hermione feel slightly better that so many people cared for her aunt; it all just felt so hollow and empty. They were poor a replacement for the lively and eternally cheerful aunt that she had lost and no matter how kind and sorrowful those words and feelings could be, they would never be enough.

Hermione let out a constricted sigh and felt the chill of a snowflake land on her nose. It had begun to snow again. Enthralled, Hermione watched as the delicate flakes landed on the hard wooden casket and in between the fresh flowers. The snow began to grow thicker as the minutes passed her by and soon she saw that a light sheen was beginning to cover the flowers and the top of the casket. With one last yearning look at the remains of her aunt, Hermione pulled herself away from the spot, turned around and began to make the long trek back to the car and back to reality.

 

* * *

 

 

“Bloody hell it's cold here”, Ron complained as he lay slouched on the sofa in front of the great open hearth that was crackling merrily and emmiting a soft orange glow that were reflected in Harry's glasses. Ron had claimed the larger of the two sofas and was currently stretched out, legs falling of the edge of the arm rest while Harry was sitting on the two seater, in between his legs on the floor sat Ginny, her gaze focussed on the fire, caught almost in a trance. Harry would occasionally run his hand through his girlfriend's fiery red hair, which seemed to shine with an ethereal glow in the firelight. It was late at night on Friday and the majority of the house had either gone to bed or retreated to their respective dormitories. It was a cold and chilly night and as Ron let out another frustrated sigh that was undoubtedly about the cold, he swung his gangly legs from over the arm rest and moved himself closer to the fire, finally settling on the sheepskin rug that contained numerous holes burnt through by embers falling from the flames.

“Mate you're always cold. It's either that or you're hungry. Ginny's right, you are a bottomless pit!” Harry replied good naturedly, glancing over at his best friend, before focussing his attention back on the fire that Ginny was still staring into.

“Easy on the insults Harry, it's late at night and I'm tired”, Ron said nonplussed.

“Ron, Harry”, Ginny spoke, pulling her attention from the fire for the first time in quite a few minutes. “You realise that Hermione's not doing at all well right?”

“Yeah”, Harry and Ron replied together, turning their attention on Ginny who had turned around slightly she she could face both of them, leaning her back against Harry's right knee.

“Good”, she replied thoughtfully.

“What are you getting at Gin?” Ron asked, cocking a brow.

“I'm just thinking. She's been so unlike herself it's almost like I've forgotten what the real Hermione is like. Do you even remember the last time she spent some real quality time with us and just laughed?”

“I see your point Ginny, but let's face it she's going through a lot. She's not going to be cheerful with all that crap happening to her”, Harry spoke, rubbing Ginny's shoulder.

Ginny smiled at him, patted his hand and turned her attention on her brother. “Tell me Ron, do you know what's going on with her?”

Ron looked confused and asked, “What are you asking me for?”

“Come on Ron, you're going out with her. You've gotta have at least a clue as to what's going on in her head, for Merlin's sake!”

“No more than she tells you two”, Ron replied, his features darkening. “She doesn't tell me anything any more. It's like she's not even in the same place as me half the time. What am I meant to do with her?”

“Support her”, came Ginny's reply.

“She won't let me do that. You see what she's like. Does she let you help her out?”

“You're right mate”, Harry replied thoughtfully. “It's like she's a shell of herself and she won't even admit it to us”.

“I know. I'm like at the end of my tether here”, came Ron's response.

“Well here's a bit of a harsh question”, Ginny intoned, placing her forefinger on her lips as she contemplated how she would word it. “Why not end it with her?”

“What break up with Hermione?” Ron cried, not quite believing his sister. “You serious?”

“Why not?” Ginny replied. “You're not happy, you've barely got a relationship and you've admitted yourself you don't really talk to her”.

“Because it's Hermione”, Ron stated, growing quite angry. “I love her and you're asking me to break up with her? I can't!” He let out a deep sigh and for a moment there was silence. All three gazed into the fire and Ron fidgeted with his hands as he processed what Ginny had suggested. A moment later he added, though his tone was much quieter than before, “I can't let her go, she's too important”. The tips of his ears turned red from his admission and feeling embarrassed he gazed into the fire, glad that Harry and Ginny hadn't looked at him as he spoke this.

“So what do we do then?” Harry asked a moment later.

“We be there for her, give her emotional support and hope she comes back to us”, Ginny replied quietly.

“She'll come back to us, she has to!” Ron added, gazing into the fire, letting his thoughts wander as he watched the fire crackle.

 

* * *

 

Draco felt restless. Four days had passed since Granger went home to attend her aunt's funeral and what Draco had anticipated as being four relaxing days to himself had turned out to be the exact opposite. Currently he was deeply immersed in his trunk rummaging through it quite messily for his favourite expensive winter gloves that his father had bought him a few winters ago. It was still bitingly cold outside and he did not look forward to another day's Quidditch training with numb hands and poor Quidditch gloves. He paused momentarily in his rummaging to look around his now very messy room and crinkled his nose in disdain. He sighed, annoyed at his own inability to keep things tidy and dived back into the trunk, but stopped short when he heard the portrait door for the common room downstairs close abruptly. Features darkening, he thought it must be Pansy Parkinson again, on her relentless quest to annoy him until he snapped. How she had gotten the password for the Heads common room he did not know, and she had been incessantly bothering him for days now and he couldn't change the password until Granger returned. Heartily pissed off with Pansy now he threw his spare quills back into the trunk and stormed out of his room and down the stairs intending to shout as loudly at Pansy as he could get away with.

“Will you just fuck off Pansy, I'm not interested!” Malfoy shouted as he climbed down the stairs, eyes blazing, but when he saw that standing in the common room next to the back of the sofa was not the black-haired Slytherin girl, but a shocked Hermione Granger, feet rooted to the spot. He closed his mouth and stared at her, not quite sure if he believed his eyes. He climbed down the rest of the spiral staircase and made his way over to her. She looked tired and worn, her travelling cloak still hanging over her shoulders, while her trunk was still levitating around her ankles. His approach seemed to have freed Hermione from her trance and she averted his eyes, flicking her wand and walking past him, climbing up the stairs to her room without saying a word. A moment later Draco heard the door close behind her and he stood there on the spot, not quite sure what had happened. Why had she come back early?

Far too surprised and wanting nothing more than a full answer Draco made his way over to the sofa and sat down on it, waiting for her to come down the stairs again and then he would interrogate her. But she never came back down that evening and by midnight Malfoy had to concede that he would have to wait for morning for some answers, so he rose slowly from his spot and grumpily made his way up to bed.

 

* * *

 

Steps faltering, hands clammy and sweating, Hermione wrung them one more time and wiped the excess dampness on her school cloak. She didn't understand why she felt nervous. It was only Ron and Harry, her best friends. She had known them since they were eleven, yet she was nervous. Then again she hadn't felt like herself in a long time, weeks even. But she had come to a conclusion while she was at home and she knew she had to do this. Taking a deep breath , she falteringly walked towards the portrait of the Fat Lady. With each step her confidence was returning so that by the time the Fat Lady inquired after her well-being, she body-language spoke of assurance and calmness.

 

 

“Hermione?” Harry cried startled, stopping in his descent down the spiral staircase when he spotted Hermione. She was sitting on one of the chairs at one of the tables, her fingers lightly drumming on the hard wooden surface, eyes fixed out the window.

“Blimey Harry, walk and what are you on about?” the impatient tones of Ron could be heard before he came into view, walking around Harry as he made his way down the staircase. Upon spotting Hermione sitting at one of the tables, he stopped momentarily and darted over to where she was now standing and enveloped her in a hug.

“Hi Ron”, Hermione said weakly, a smile gracing her features as she wrapped her arms around him.

“Hermione, what are you doing back?” Harry quizzed, walking down the stairs and making his way over to where Ron and Hermione stood.

“Are you not going to give me a hug?” she asked uncertainly, but let out a relieved sigh as he gave her a brief hug and an awkward pat on the shoulder.

“What are you doing back here so soon?” Harry asked again, ignoring the warning glare Ron shot him when Hermione wasn't looking.

Hermione dropped her gaze and her shoulders slumped for a moment, but she rallied her spirits and gave them both a brilliant smile to show she was fine.

She paused, choosing her words carefully before she responded.

“I couldn't be at home any longer”, Hermione sighed, dropping her head and letting her hands fall to her sides. “It was just getting too much”. The last part was said in a whisper as her eyes were set firmly on the floorboards.

 

“Are you alright 'Mione?” Harry asked tentatively and she allowed a small wry smile to grace her features, but her hair obscured the view and the boys didn't see the tear rolling down her cheeks.

Suddenly she felt an arm around her shoulder, giving her a squeeze and she lifted her head to see Ron looking back at her. Wiping away the stray tear she smiled at Ron.

“Come on 'Mione, sit down and tell us what happened”, Ron spoke and he guided her to the sofas as Hermione began to tell her story. She felt stronger than she had in days, having her two best friends beside her, giving her courage and moral support. They sat and listened intently as she spoke of the agony of returning home to a family and house that was filled with oppressive grief and unspoken emotions. She talked on the strength of her father and the frailty of her mother, the cold wintry day of her aunt's funeral, her feeling of disconnectedness and how her desire grew stronger every day of returning to Hogwarts and fleeing the oppressive house that usually felt like home. The boys were incredibly supportive of her and Hermione wondered how she had never seen this before. They had always been there for her, and with the last few months she had completely lost sight of who they really were. She realised, sitting next to Ron with his arm around her shoulders giving her a reassuring smile, that she missed him, but more so she missed the intimacy and connection she had with him. Harry got up as Ginny made her way down the staircase and after Ginny enthusiastically greeted her friend, they both made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Hermione and Ron were left sitting on the sofa.

“How are you really doing?” Ron asked, turning his head so he looked at her.

Hermione shrugged and was silent for a moment, “I think it's better now”, she replied and when Ron gave her a quizzical look, she added, “I realised after Rosie's funeral, that life in a way moves on and even though I miss her terribly and everything at home just seems to be falling apart, life goes on”.

“Yeah, I get that”, Ron replied. There was more silence between them.

“You know I missed you”, Ron said, staring into the cold and empty grate. Hermione smiled wryly and turned to him and she brought her hand to cup his cheek.

“I missed this”, she replied and dropped her hand, blushing slightly, her hair hiding her face from view.

“Don't”, Ron replied grabbing her hand and giving it a squeeze. “Hermione please look at me”, he asked and when she kept averting his eyes, he gently took her chin in his other hand and raised her face so he could look at her.

“Ron”, Hermione started, looking over his shoulder before dropping her gaze. “I'm sorry for everything”.

“'Mione, I love you”, Ron whispered.

“Oh Ron I love you too”, Hermione whispered in return, her forehead leaning against his as she breathed in his scent and revelled in his presence.

 

The student body and seventh year Gryffindors were surprised and astonished at the sight of the Head Girl return to Hogwarts the last week before Christmas holidays, for not a day after her departure the rumours had circulated like wildfire ranging from the state of her mental health to rumours of a Death Eater related death. It was with surprise and shock that they watched her walk into class on the Monday morning, flanked by her usual bodyguards, Harry and Ron and looking visibly happier. The only person who was not surprised about her reappearance was Malfoy, and he shrewdly watched her sit herself down on one of the chairs in the back of class in Potions. He could tell from her smile and affection she was showering on Harry and Ron that she was different; changed. Her behaviour to him the night before had been testament to that alone. The colour and life seemed to be returning to her cheeks and she seemed much more like the Hermione Granger from months previously, and while that would usually incite happiness in a person, Malfoy was a selfish creature and he knew he would lose her to them. This thought made him scowl and he forced himself to focus on his potion at hand.

While stirring his bubbling potion, his attention was caught on more than one occasion by the sound of her quiet peals of laughter and as a result his Draught of Living Death was stirred much more viciously than before. It was bad enough she had returned last night acting so coolly towards him, like he were nothing other than another member of the student body, but every gaze, touch and word she spoke to Potter and the Weasel was one less bit of attention she paid him, and he hated sharing what he rightfully saw as his. It was humiliating enough as it was for Draco, so he done that he always done. She would have to come to him for he could ignore her too. And so that is what Draco Malfoy done.

For the rest of the day both the Head Boy and Head Girl danced their dance, pirouetting around each other, determined to ignore both the other party and ignore what they had between each other. Their complicated dance and intricate steps would have seemed amusing to the trained eye, but the student body were oblivious to the forced calmness and ignorance of the other person that they each displayed. Draco, for his part was seething on the inside at her behaviour, while Hermione was blissfully unaware what her demeanour was inciting in her co-Head.

They had no patrols together and when Thursday and the Prefect meeting finally came around, they managed to spend four whole days with little more than half an hour in each other's presence. By Thursday evening, both were curiously anxious of the Prefect meeting and having to not only speak to each other, but also acknowledge each other's presence. Hermione by that point was very much aware of Malfoy's odd behaviour and she was a little antsy at his temper, and so donned her school robes and winter cloak with much more time and care than usual. She sighed to herself, glancing at the reflection staring back at her, who was pulling at her wild hair and grimace at it.

“I'm a fool”, she spoke to herself, resignation etched in her voice. Her mirror image nodded her head enthusiastically and annoyed with her own trepidation, Hermione turned on her heel and quickly exited the room.

Malfoy was already in the common room, back to her, facing the fireplace and the flickering orange light surrounded him in a golden, Gryfindor-coloured hue. Hermione halted at the bottom of the staircase, caught temporarily in a trance at the sight before her. The only light in the dark common room came from the crackling, bright fire in the hearth, Malfoy's presence blocking half of the light. The rest of the darkened common room was bathed in animated shadows.

“You took your time”, the gruff voice of Malfoy spoke into the fire, pulling Hermione out of her reverie.

“Right”, she replied tightly, taking a step forward. She knew he was angry. It was painfully obvious in his tone and his treatment of her over the last few days. Then again, she knew she couldn't be completely innocent in this situation either. A storm was brewing that she was keenly aware of and the tension hung thickly in the air, heavy enough for someone to cut it with a knife. Hermione braced herself for the inevitable confrontation and mustered all the Gryffindor courage she possessed before she began making her way out of the common room, Malfoy's thudding steps following behind her.

 

The Prefect's meeting went unusually well for Hermione. There were no major arguments and everyone seemed to be in the spirit of cooperation. The relevant issues were dealt with quickly and efficiently and Hermione was amazed to see that even the Slytherin Prefects were keeping the nasty remarks and taunting to a minimum. She suspected it may have been because of the distant Had Boy, who sat next to Hermione throughout the entire Prefect meting and barely spoke a word. Despite all this, that would usually make Hermione feel a lot more relaxed, she was agitated and the reason was the blonde boy sitting next to her. She caught herself on more than one occasion glancing over at his profile, a frown etched on her face as she contemplated to herself, but she was never given a chance to fully think her thoughts through, for Prefect matters were brought to her attention. It did not escape her notice that Malfoy wasn't acting his usual self, in fact Ron even commented on this to her after the meeting ended, but while he and Ginny tried to reassure her, she could not. She could not get used to the idea of a Malfoy that would let an opportunity slide by where he did not get a chance to taunt the Gryffindors or other houses for that matter. Neither did he make any of his usual snide and lewd comments to Hermione, which he used to do to see how far he could away with it with Ron in the room. Hermione felt incredibly uneasy about this, and almost wished for the old snide Malfoy to return, but she caught herself and shook the thought from her. She looked around and saw that she was the last one in the classroom again. Hermione sighed to herself and gathered up her things before exiting the classroom and locking it behind her. She leisurely strolled along the corridor, her pace becoming quicker of its own accord and as she turned a corner, she spotted Malfoy in front of her, dawdling, deep in thought. Her quick strides quickly caught up with him, but he seemed not to notice her presence or care that she was walking next to him. They continued on together in silence, Malfoy keeping up with her quick strides, both lost deep in thought, a mountain and a wall between them. Hermione caught herself looking over at him more than she cared to admit, much as she had done in the Prefect's meeting, but he would not take the bait. In fact even now as he walked alone with her, he would not react to her. She did catch him on more than one occasion gritting his teeth quietly and she saw that his hand next to her clenched and unclenched too. He was obviously still very agitated, if not angry, but he would not respond to her. Hermione grew irritated.

“Malfoy are you going to talk to me at all?” she cried out huffily, her arms crossed across her chest, her parchment sheets clutched tightly to her. He looked up at her and she saw that his grey eyes were stormy and his mouth had formed a harsh thin line, yet he would not respond to her.

“Right”, she replied, but it was more to herself than anyone else. She realised at that moment how very different Ron and Malfoy really were. She wasn't quite sure how Ron popped into her head, but as she thought of his kind face, his fierce loyalty and great passion for his friends and for her, she realised how amazing he truly was. Malfoy on the other hand was cold, secretive and was shutting her out, why she still wasn't quite sure. He did not love her, nor did he seem to care about her very much. Everything between them consisted of unspoken feelings and words, repression and fear of discovery, and while it may be exciting and gave life a certain edge, it was not sustainable. Such a relationship could never last, and Hermione wondered what she was doing in it anyway. Malfoy could not give her what she wanted and he could never really understand her either. Everything was already so complicated and messy in her life, and at her aunt's funeral she realised she didn't want that drama in her life any more. She didn't need any more complications in her life. That was what Malfoy was and he wasn't worth it, especially if it meant she would lose Ron and he was someone too special to her to give up on that easily.

When she looked up from her thoughts she saw that they had reached the portrait for their common room, but while Malfoy walked towards it, she stopped in her tracks. He slowly turned around and stared dispassionately at her, but all Hermione could think of was that she wanted to see Ron desperately, for he would make it all so much easier.

“To hell with this”, she spoke bitterly and spun around on her heel, making her way as quick as she could to the Gryffindor common room and leaving Malfoy standing blankly outside the Heads common room, the portrait door open, staring at her retreating back.

 

Hermione sped past portraits and took three secret passageways as she made her way down to the Gryffindor tower, knowing that it was late and she would not have a lot of time left until curfew came. Running towards the portrait of the Fat Lady, she called out the password and darted quickly inside, scanning the half-full common room for the familiar gangly red-headed Weasley. She spotted him at one of the tables with Harry, Ginny and Neville, a set of Wizard's Chess sitting on the table. He rose from his position and stretched calling out a muffled reply to something they said, but Hermione didn't pay attention to that. She darted over, a determined look on her face as she saw him recognise her, his face lighting up at the sight of his girlfriend, but before he could say something to him, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. Her fingers wound themselves into his flaming red hair, while his arms wound themselves around her waist, pulling her closer to him. The kiss deepened and Hermione revelled in his touch and presence, but their kiss was starting to attract quite a bit of attention as fellow Gryffindors turned around and spotted them, some of them cheering, while others were whistling. Ron and Hermione broke apart embarrassed, both blushing deeply, though Ron had a pleased smile on his face. The common room erupted in cheers and whistles and Hermione could distinctly hear Seamus Finnegan wolf whistling at their antics. She ducked her head down and smiled, catching Ron's eye and they both grinned at each other.

Ignoring the half full common room that was still giving them their attention, she turned her full attention on him and asked quietly, “Sorry, I just had to see you”.

“Well don't be, you should do that more often”, Ron replied, a pleased grin on his face and they both smiled at each other.

 

* * *

 

Friday was not a good day for Draco Malfoy. It hung thickly in the air, like the unresolved issues that they had not addressed, and probably never would. He got out of bed, hoping that a long hot shower and a good breakfast might lighten his mood, but as he made his way to the first class of Arithmancy that morning, he knew he was fighting a losing battle. What made it even worse is that Hermione Granger took Arithmancy as well and the last thing he wanted to see was her smiling face or even be in her presence. She knew she had returned late at night, he had lain in his bed for most of the night, turning in his bed, unable to sleep and even her quiet movements from the common room below was more than he could take. He had half a mind to go down the stairs and tell her to shut the fuck up, but it would be counter-productive and he was a Malfoy, and Malfoys do not lose their cool.

Yet Draco would have to learn, that by the end of the day he would be eating his words. Either way, by the time Potions came around, his anger had not abated, and what was more, fuel was added to the fire burning inside him with the sight of Harry, Ron and Hermione walking into the classroom. Granger he noted with a dark scowl on his face was holding the Weasel's hand, smiling serenely to herself and stationing herself at their usual spot at the back of the class. Malfoy had to crane his head to get a good view of them.

Everything about Granger irritated and caused such fierce emotions to swell deep inside him, starting from that wild hair of hers which she never tried to control, to her fierce temper that made him want to strangle her half the time. She was so damned loyal to her friends, it was almost sickening. That's what he got to liaising with a Gryffindor, he scoffed to himself, disgusted at what he had with her. Then it was that blasted stubbornness about her, she refused to budge even an inch, whether it was with him or anything else she set her mind to. She was obsessed with school which was neither healthy, nor frankly very cool. Granger's know-it-all attitude was even worse, she insisted on always being above him in their classes. The girl in short was just too damn infuriating and it just made him want to hex her into oblivion, throttle her mercilessly, kiss her senseless and have his way with her-

Malfoy stopped that train of thought immediately and scowled to himself for being so weak. That would not do, she had already made it perfectly clear that she had given up on whatever they had between them and he couldn't be a sick little puppy yearning for her attention and love. He was a proud Malfoy, and so what if she chose that filthy Blood Traitor Weasel above him, so what if her sullied blood was becoming even dirtier with consorting with him, so what if she lay with him at night. The Weasel didn't deserve her anyway, Merlin knows he wouldn't even know how to satisfy such a passionate girl, and he would not allow himself to be jealous of him.

Ha! Now there was sickening thought. Yet even as he vehemently denied such an emotion, the green-eyed monster would not leave him be. He watched with gritting teeth and darkening eyes, Granger caressing his cheek and smiling so softly at him; she had never looked at him like that before. His stomach churned with that horrible sensation and he turned back to face the blackboard, wishing more than anything that Potions, his favourite class, would end as soon as possible.

 

The class had been a complete and utter disaster. He had spent half his time head turned, staring at Granger, Potter and Weasel like some lovesick fool, which had resulted in Snape finally getting annoyed and telling off his favourite student. Then he ha been thoroughly irritated that he was now being picked on by Snape, as if he were nothing more than a pesky Gryffindor. He had snapped at Zabini on more than one occasion, which caused the boy to raise an eyebrow at Draco for his strange behaviour. The last thing he needed was suspicion on others' minds. So it was with a severely blackened mood that he gathered up his things at the end of class and was the last as he walked out of the classroom, a glare fixing on his features as he spotted the Golden Trio congregated just outside the classroom and in his way.

“Move out of my fucking way”, he growled barging through them, not even looking at Granger and he would not have seen the confused look on her face.

“Oy watch it Malfoy”, Ron shouted out, fists clenching at his side.

“Do you really think I give a fuck about you Weasel, you're nothing but a Blood Traitor”, Draco replied viciously.

“Malfoy back off, or else!” Harry warned, taking a step forward and standing in front of Hermione. Draco could have laughed at his act of stupid chivalry, protecting Granger from the Big Bad Wolf, if only they knew what the Big Bad Wolf had done to her, innocent as she was. Incensed, and itching for a fight to relive his frustrations, Draco took a step forward, a daring smirk on his face.

“Is that so Potter? And what are you going to do to me exactly, send your minions of Mudbloods and Blood Traitors on me-”

Draco never got to finish his sentence as the Weasel decided at that moment to not be left out of the fight and punched him square in the nose. Draco stumbled back a step stunned at the action, his hand flying to his face to assess the damage. Nothing had been broken thankfully. Damn, for such a wimp he had a mean right hook.

Eyes darkening considerably, Draco growled in a low and threatening voice, “Bad move Weasel, bad move indeed!” He took a step forward and towered over Potter, though he wasn't quite tall enough for the Weasel, so he just glared at him, his eyes threatening innumerable pain on them both. “This is not going to end well for the both of you, the Mudblood I'll spare as she has more sense than the both of you combined and knows not to get involved”.

“Shut up Malfoy!” came the shrill voice of Hermione Granger, her eyes incensed and for a moment all three boys stopped for a second and stared at Hermione. Her fists were clenched and her bag was dropped on the ground a few steps behind her, where she had previously stood.

Draco heard Ron snicker and he completely lost it, drawing out his wand from his pocket, quicker than both boys could react.

“Just give me a fucking reason to use this!” he threatened, but both Potter and Weasley wouldn't get the message. They were too bloody noble for their own good and it would end up with them being dead because of it. They both too drew their wands and the three boys faced each other, squared for a fight.

“Ron, Harry, don't!” came the high pitched voice of Granger. Both boys ignored her and glared at Draco.

A smirk was gracing his haughty features as he drawled out amusedly, “You'd better do what your Mudblood whore says or else there will be trouble”. The rage was building within Malfoy once again, only this time it was more ferocious than before.

“You wanker!” Hermione screamed, storming towards him and slapping him across the face so hard the resounding smack echoed along the empty corridor. All three boys stood back stunned, too shocked that Hermione had actually acted so impetuously. Draco was the most aghast of the three, his hand numbly holding the side of his cheek that Granger had hit. His grey eyes were filled with confusion and wariness. The Weasel's voice he could distantly hear, laughing quietly to himself and this brought Draco out of his thoughts with full force. He pointed his wand at Weasley's chest, gaze murderous.

“No!” Hermione shouted, her tone thundering and her glare at all three strong enough to stop all three in their tracks. It was only then that Draco realised she had planted herself in between him and her two bodyguards, her arms stretched out. She was a bold little Gryffindor, he had to give it to her standing in between them with no wand, while Draco and the two idiots were armed and ready to use their wands. If he hadn't been so angry and irrational at that moment he would have conceded what a brave little Gryffindor she was being, but the only thought that ran through his head was that he was out for blood.

It was her fierce glare that managed to quell the raging anger within him and he lowered his wand after the two idiots had done the same.

“Harry, Ron, go on ahead, I need to speak to Malfoy now!” she hissed fiercely, and Draco imagined that it was only how angry she was at that moment that made the two listen to her. They eyed Draco one last time, both shooting him glares that spoke of pain and destruction before walking down the corridor a bit and out of earshot, but he was too preoccupied by the irate Head Girl standing next to him to pay them much heed.

“Granger-” Malfoy began, but he was cut off by her hand and the glare she shot him.

“Don't even think about it Malfoy!” she warned, her voice low. “You are Head Boy. Learn to take your position seriously and if I ever catch you starting a fight with Ron and Harry I will go to Dumbledore and have you stripped of your position, is that clear!” One hand was on her hip, while with the other she pointed her index finger at her and Malfoy wasn't quite sure whether he wanted to snap that finger of her hand or use it to draw her closer.

“We are going to discuss this tonight, and don't you dare let me catch you taking your anger out on anyone else!” With that she gave him one last filthy look and stormed away, joining her two bodyguards as they made their way out of the dungeon.

 

His mood darkened for the rest of the day considerably, and even though that might not have seemed possible, he was now even starting to snap at his fellow Slytherins, which did not make him popular by the time lunchtime came around. He stalked into the Great Hall without any intention to eat and paused behind Pansy's seat, leaning in to whisper in her ear, while his eyes were caught on Granger, who was ignoring him.

“Pansy, I'm bored. Care to join me in my common room for a little fun?” he asked, voice low, a smirk forming at the corner of his mouth. She turned her head sharply around, her hair barely missing him as she fixed her eyes on him, expression unreadable.

“You've been an asshole all day Draco, tell me why should I join you?” she asked, eyebrow raised. Damn the girl always had to question everything and he was in no mood to continue this conversation much longer in the Great Hall.

“Well then maybe you can think of a way to take my mind of things and make me a little more agreeable?” he asked, smirk now evident. He glanced up for a second and saw that Granger had spotted him conversing with Pansy. He shot her a dark look and focussed his attention back on the black-haired Slytherin girl before him.

“Well?”

“Oh alright”, she conceded quietly, “But I'm finishing my pudding!” Draco rolled his eyes at her last comment.

“Fine, you know where to find me”, he replied dismissively and walked out of the Great Hall.

Ten minutes later Draco was sitting on the sofa directly in front of the fireplace, the very same sofa Granger would favour when she was in the common room. It was an intentional ploy on his part, and his twisted mind took great pleasure from defiling her favourite place for his own amusement. It served as sweeter revenge on the know-it-all Mudblood. A moment later he heard a sharp rap on the portrait door and he stood up to open it, to find Pansy standing on the other side, a sickly seductive smile on her face, fingers playing with her hair, and he realised her skirt was also a few inches shorter than it had been at lunch. His mind numbly recognised she must have rolled it up, before his hands went to her neck and his lips crashed down upon hers. He drew her into the common room and slammed with door behind him.

Pansy pulled away for a moment, her black eyes even darker than usual and she spoke in what she assumed to be a husky voice, “Shall we go upstairs Draco?”

“No”, he replied, his mouth curved into a smirk, “we're going right over to that sofa in front of the fire”, he replied and he pulled her towards him resuming their kissing. He intended to have his way with the Slytherin girl, to have her on her knees as she gave him pleasure and damn it he would do everything to her that he never could have done to Granger, and if that didn't burn the image and taste of her out of his brain, then nothing probably would.

 

“And that fucking Mudblood has the tenacity to tell me what to do!” he growled irritated, his anger towards Granger growing to such an extent that he was just getting started on all the things he hated about her. “She is just such a fucking priss and she dares to tell me that I can't have a little fun by taunting Potter and the Weaselhead. You just wanna bash her head against a wall and make her see sense that she is nothing but scum!”

“Draco!” came the sharp voice of Pansy and he looked down at her to see she was glaring at him. “Will you just shut up about Granger for two seconds. Is that all I'm here for, to satisfy you while you rant and rave about the Mudblood? Have a little bit of self respect, will you!” She knew she had gone to far as Draco abruptly stood up and zipped up his trousers, the glare he sent down at her from her pitiful state on the floor enough to root her on the spot. She quickly stood up, her face a mask of concern and apprehension as she placed her hands on his chest and attempted to kiss him, but he pushed her away disgusted.

“Get out!” he commanded imperiously, but she wouldn't move.

“But Draco-”

“GET THE FUCK OUT!” he roared at her and she flinched. Picking up her cardigan from the floor she fled the Heads common room, door slamming behind her. He knew he had gone too far and he would have to do some serious grovelling to explain it to her and the fellow Slytherins, for as trampish as she may be, Pansy had influence and a lot of people would be incredibly peeved with him if they heard what he done to her. Frustration that his anger and tension still hadn't been relieved and that he had managed to land himself in even hotter water than before, he dumped himself on the same sofa he had intended to defile with Pansy wishing for nothing more than peace and to be rid of women. He knew why Pansy had irritated him, what he didn't understand was why her usual ministrations hadn't satisfied him like they usually did. Was he that infested with Granger that he couldn't even enjoy this? He knew the answer to that question without even thinking. Granger had infected him from the first moment he touched her, probably long before and now he was bound to her, to such an extent that not even Pansy could please him. She was awkward, clumsy and sloppy compared to Granger, and while she practised too hard at being sexy, it exuded from her along with a natural grace and elegance that Pansy could ever have. But by Merlin how much he hated Granger at that moment, she was everything he wanted and yet he could not have her, had to constantly feel inferior to her high moral standards and her friends, had to endure daily how she lavished Weasley with affection and love, while he never got any of her. It sickened him and made him bitter, from which anger sprung forth and so all he could do was sit in the Heads common room and dwell on his shortcomings.

 

* * *

 

Evening descended upon Hogwarts Castle and by the time eight o'clock finally came around, Hermione entered the Heads common room, making her way over to the table where she dumped her school bag on it. She turned around and saw that Malfoy was sitting at one of the sofas in front of the fire and she took a deep breath. She knew what was about to come, and she was tired. It had been a long day and she did not look forward to this, but they needed to address and discuss whatever had gotten between them.

“Malfoy, can I talk to you?” she asked clearly, and waited for the Head Boy to pull himself up from the sofa and make his way over to her, all the while his expression unreadable.

“Granger”, he sneered at her and Hermione braced herself.

“We've got to talk about us and this situation that seems to have developed”, she began, but was cut off by Malfoy's drawl.

“Merlin's beard Granger, now you want to talk about your feelings too?” he asked, rolling his eyes at her.

“No Malfoy!” she replied sharply, hands on her hips, “I want to talk about why you're being such an arse this last week and that you can't go starting fights with people especially Ron and Harry!”

“Why what is the little Mudblood going to do?” he sneered, taking a step forwards. Hermione at that instant once again realised how tall he was.

“Don't you dare play that little trick Malfoy!” she spoke harshly, her eyes growing to slits. “I know you're lashing out right now, so just stop it. You can't just keep attacking people, you're Head Boy for God's sake! Act like it!”

“Don't you fucking dare tell me how to act, you piece of filth!” he gritted out, staring down at her as if she were nothing more than a bad smell beneath his nose.

 

It doesn’t hurt me,

You wanna feel how it feels

You wanna know, know that it doesn’t hurt me

You wanna hear about the deal I’m making

 

“I will because someone has to and stop trying to insult me, it's not going to work!” she replied coldly. “We are Head Boy and Head Girl and all this animosity is making our jobs incredibly hard, so are we going to talk about this or not?”

“No you fucking piece of trash, we are not going to talk about this!” he shouted at her, his eyes glinting dangerously. Hermione should have spotted at that instant that she was treading into dangerous waters, but she did not.

 

You can (keep running up that hill)

You and me (keep running up that hill)

You and me won’t be unhappy

 

“Will you stop it with the act. It's only the two of us, you don't have to pretend!” she replied calmly, using all her willpower to cool her raging emotions.

Malfoy at that moment saw red. He stormed up to her, taking those last few steps and grabbed her upper arms forcefully, not quite sure what he was doing, but knowing that he needed to shake some sense into her. He shook her roughly, his eyes glaring down at her small frame, every fibre of his body filled with rage and hatred at that moment. She slapped his hands away with her own and before he could react she had drawn her wand and was pointing it at his chest.

 

You don’t wanna hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware that I’m tearing you asunder

There’s a thunder in our hearts baby

So I hate the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don’t we?

 

“Don't you dare ever doing that again”, she said, her voice low and threatening, the pitch not quite steady she was that furious.

“Can't you see some fucking sense, you fucking Mudblood!” Malfoy snapped, yelling at her, his eyes ablaze, emotions wide open to the world. “You're a whore, a slut and you're so dirty and filthy you didn't even deserve what you had with me!”

“No!” came her unsteadied reply.

“NO?” Malfoy roared, “YOU WERE NOTHING BUT A CHEAP FUCK, AN EASY LAY THAT I GOT. YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN A CONQUEST IF IT HADN'T BEEN THAT BLOODY EASY!”

Hermione just shook her head and refused to look at him, for in truth he was terrifying, more terrifying than she could ever have guessed. Oh how she had misjudged him so.

 

Come on baby,

Come on darling

Let me steal this moment from you now

Come on angel

Come on darling

Let’s just change the experience

 

Malfoy was growing even more incensed that she wouldn't even deign to look at him, so he continued lashing out at her, hurling insults that he hoped would finally rattle that perfectly composed image she had.

“You didn't even know that just earlier on today, on that favourite sofa of yours”, he spoke coldly, laughing bitterly as he pointed at the very sofa in front of the fireplace, “that I got Pansy to satisfy me in ways you never possibly could have! Now do you understand that you're nothing but a worthless piece of shit?”

It seemed that was all it took to take Hermione out of the body bind that had held her in place while he shouted at her. Not quite knowing what she was doing she went to slap him hard across the face, but Malfoy was quicker with his Seeker reflexes. He grabbed her hand and held onto it firmly, twisting it a little to cause her pain. Hermione struggled against him, eyes glinting dangerously with an uncontrolled rage, and she went to slap and hit him with the other but he kept blocking her, laughing at her pathetic attempts to hurt him. She screamed and went to kick him between the legs, but with a swift movement he turned both of them around, twisting her arms behind her back. She let out a cry of pain and wrenched away from him, massaging her sore wrists, a stray tear making its way down her cheeks.

 

And I only could

Make a deal with God

Get him to swap our places

Be running up that road

Be running up that hill

Be running up that building

With no problem

 

“Don't you ever dare come near me again you bastard!” she screamed at him, voice unsteady. “WE'RE OVER!”

Instead all that Malfoy done was laugh coldly at her, seemingly taking delight in not only causing her physical pain, but also causing her great emotional pain. She was laid out bare to him and all he did was laugh.

“Don't you worry Mudblood”, he said, stopping his laughing long enough to utter what he wanted to say, “I wouldn't touch you even if you paid me!”

“GET OUT!” she screamed at him, picking up one of her precious books from the table next to her and threw it at his retreating back, hearing nothing more than his cold laughter before the book hit the opposite wall next to the portrait and the portrait door slammed loudly behind him.

Hermione collapsed to the carpeted floor in a flood of tears, knowing that their affair was over.

 

If I only could keep running up that hill

 

* * *

 

The next morning after she had finally pulled herself tiredly out of her bed she carefully made her way down the common room, still fearing of another confrontation with Malfoy, but what she saw as she lightly descended the staircase was that the common room was empty. She looked around and saw that it was bare of his things, his occasional books that would be scattered around, his school bag and his Quidditch gear were also missing. She battled with herself whether she should check his room too, but eventually she decided to and gathering up enough courage she climbed his staircase and hesitantly opened his door. Malfoy's room was both clean and empty. He had left without saying goodbye and somehow what she had realised the evening before now seemed all the more real. The tears made their way down her cheeks before she could even stop them and the emotions overpowered her, so that she slid down the door frame until she ended up into a tangle of limbs, chest heaving, her sobs echoing through the empty Heads common room. 






A/N: Holy crap is that a monster of a chapter! Well there you go, about five months late, but here it finally is. That was probably one of the hardest I've ever had to write so that explains somewhat why it took so long. The reason why is this chapter is a milestone, as you can tell by the ending and I've had it in mind since the beginning, so no matter what happened it was heading in this direction. I am talking about the fight. 
You'll also see that the story has taken a bit of a different direction. The reason why is the other reason why this chapter took five months to complete, and that was a most excellent reviewer reminded me of something, something that I had completely forgotten over the months and she effectively got me back on track with this story, so thank you to her!
I've also got a new Meet the Author page up as my old one got deleted along the way so if you have any questions about this fic or any of my other work just go to it. A link should be on my author profile page.
Other than that I hope you enjoyed all 10,153 words of this chapter (and yes that's exactly how long it is! I still can't believe it. That like almost as long as my thesis I have to do soon!)
The next chapter should prove interesting, I daresay.


Until next time,
Agrolass.

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