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disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot and Draco's tear ;) A/N: Really random chapter. I'm so sorry it took so darn long to get this up but work has been just insane and some other things have been keeping me unbelievably busy. I'm working on chapter 14 right now so the next chapter hopefully wouldn't take so long and yes, it will be less random lol. p.s., I am still looking for that fic so please help me!! Other than that I doubt I need to say please please please read and review! :)
*** CONVERSATIONS ***
Yet another dinner took place in the Great Hall without the presence of a certain blond seventh-year Slytherin boy. It seemed lately he just could not be bothered to enter the Hall for meals. He hated how these meals had turned into a fussfest for Pansy. She could never get her hands off him, shooting him question after question and always hinting that he might one day allow her to enter the Heads' common room. He lost count of the number of times he shot down this idea. Pansy in his common room? What a dreadful thought. Draco shuddered as he made his way through the winding hallways, hands jammed deep into the pockets of his robes. He replayed the day over in his mind, back to that moment where the bell rang signalling the end of the first class of the day, the end of potions for him. Granger had walked out in a huff after their usual banter and he would have gone after her too, if it wasn't for the mere fact that he just couldn't bother enough. The rest of the day had passed quite uneventfully and by the time the last lesson of the day, which was incidentally Arithmancy, he was in some sort of bored zombified daze. He barely even noticed when class ended, only snapping out of his blanked daydreams as a swish of robes and much too familiar brown hair swept past his desk and out the door. Shaking his head and coming back to the present moment, he was just about to turn a corner in the winding castle corridors when hushed voices floated over to his ears, stopping him in his tracks. He recognized the voices .. three of them. Yes. Potty, Weasel King and that Granger girl were having a little corridor chat instead of having their dinner down at the Great Hall like the good little students they were supposed to be. Then again, who was he to judge on goodness? Draco stayed in his little spot as his ears strained hard to listen in on the conversation as he ignored every fiber of his conscience that told him eavesdropping was just wrong. "... why you're talking to me about this, this is just so stupid!" Granger seemed to be put off about something, it was evident in her voice. A male's voice, Weasley's, he assumed, started up next. "Don't pretend, Hermione practically everyone saw the both of you yesterday!" Draco bit down on his bottom lip, a flood of unknown emotion washing over him. So this was about their Hogsmeade trip. It became clear to him now, Scarhead and Sidekick thought he'd done a number on their little librarian and somehow forced her to spend the day with him. He shook his head, laughing silently at how ridiculous the idea seemed. Even if he did still hate the muggleborn, why would he waste his time enthralling her to be with him? It made no perfect sense but he supposed this was normal seeing how the idea stemmed for the thick redhead. "... cuddling and holding hands and who knows what el-" "RONALD!" He had to clamp his hand over his mouth to fight down the immense laughter in him. Well, Weasel King sure sounded a little jealous right there. It was pretty obvious that the redhead had not even seen him and Hermione and was merely going by what people had told him. Draco stopped listening and slowly walked back the way he came, taking a different route to his common room. Once there, he brought his body over and down on to the couch in front of the unlit fireplace. Staring at the slightly blackened logs, his mind drifted to the day before, revisiting random moments of his first Hogsmeade trip of the school year. Weasley had been partly right. Yes, they held hands but that was only when he helped her down from the carriage when they got to Hogsmeade. There was absolutely no cuddling and as for the "what else", well, Draco allowed himself a laugh now that he was all alone. How ridiculous, really. Why would he, Draco Malfoy, even want to cuddle with Granger, much less getting involved in "what else" activites with her? Weasley must have not gotten over her if he was still having these jealous ex-boyfriend spasms now and then. Plus, including him in his jealous trips would just prove fruitless. Or would it? Draco could barely think straight when it came to her upon their return from Hogsmeade, he would not deny that she was the constant thought on his mind since then. Just exactly what was it about the girl he could not figure out. 'Maybe I just pity her for having that awful disease.. must be really tough knowing when you're going to die..' He shuddered lightly. He had witnessed enough deaths during the Great War as the battle against Voldemort had become widely known as. Seeing the Thestrals for the first time as they captained the carriages into Hogwarts brought him no comfort either. Death ... it was just this expanding vacuum that sucked him into depression. Nobody knew of his internal battles with depression over the summer after the Great War. Death. Hermione Granger was about to fall victim under Death's merciless claim. The door to the common room reopened and just like fate, Granger stepped in. Draco turned his head and simply let his gaze rest upon her. Death. It was all he saw now as he took in the sight of her too-big robes, her soft brown eyes, her hair. The hair he had made so much fun of in the years he had known her. The hair that had somehow became trademarkedly Granger, the one thing he had grown to look for in crowds during the days when he still taunted and teased Potter and his little gang. He became painfully aware finally that while he had been mulling over her hair, she had slowly taken careful steps towards him and was now standing next to where he was sitting, him now looking up at her. "Your hair..." A look of pure confusion rippled over her face as an eyebrow lifted slightly. "What...?" He stood up, his movements gentle as he reached out and took a lock of her hair in his hand. Amazed he was at the softness and vitality he felt. Another unknown emotion swept over him, strong enough to force him back to his sitting position but he stood fast, completely bewitched at the magic of the hair in his right hand. "Malfoy...?" He rubbed a rough thumb against soft chocolate-coloured strands, not answering her query at his strange actions. She wouldn't understand. No, correction. He did not understand. He did not understand at all. How could something so beautiful, so vivacious, so full of life, be so ill-fated? It made no sense and he hated it. His eyes traveled upwards to her face, silently watching her mounting confusion and reading the question in her eyes. Death. Pooling right there in the middle of those almond-shaped orbs. On her supple pink cheeks flecked with careless freckles. Across her lush lips resembling two sun-drenched red rose petals. Death. They said everything, good or bad, loved or hated, must come to the ultimate end. Death. The only real friend he had finally made at Hogwarts after all these years of pure hatred. Death. Her face contorted to one of mild surprise and concentrated worry. Her own small hand rose up to his cheek and he felt a warm finger gently brush a tear he did not realise had fallen from his eye. "Why?" She made no effort to show her confusion, tilting her head slightly and openly staring at him. "Malfoy, what's wrong?" Irrational anger came upon him and he grimaced. "How could you?" he whimpered just before his feet swept him away from her and up the first flight of stairs onto the landing separating the two bedrooms. Instead of heading to his room however, he unlocked the french windows and stepped outside to the balcony, a blast of cool night air hitting him in the face. He heard tentative footsteps behind him and paid no heed, the crazed bottled anger still swirling around in him. He growled inaudibly as he felt her hand softly settle on his shoulder. If he thought that slap back in third year was her boldest statement on him, he had thought wrong. Here she was, blatantly touching him and acting as though there had never been anything remotely wrong between them. He hated to admit it though, her touch calmed him down somewhat and he was able to refrain himself from sniping at her as she stood close beside him, her palm still resting comfortably on his shoulder. "How could you?" he repeated with a slight shake of his head, his tone resembling that of a defeated man. "How could I what?" He wanted to cry at her patience. "You! Telling me you're going to die after ... do you know how hard it is for me to make any friends at all? Do you know how much you've affected me in so little time? I NEVER let anyone get to me and yet YOU ... you somehow got to me and then you ... and you're going to ... how could you, Granger?" "Oh Merlin..." "I could've just walked away you know, I have so much to lose ... so much to lose if I even as much as befriend you but here I am, talking to you and knowing the one thing about you that you have not even told your best friends. Here I am at your complete mercy. Here I am, about to lose just about everything I have ever owned because I am in love with your friendship that I have NEVER gotten from anyone else. Here I am and here you are and then you're not. So how could you? How could you do this to me?" She was livid. "I never asked to die!" "Well neither did I!" They stared at each other, caught up in a moment of pure frightening silence. And when she spoke next, her was voice dripping with curiousity and worry yet again. "You are not dying, Malfoy.." "You don't know that ... you don't know anything." "Tell me then," she replied, her strong unbreakable stare boring into him, challenging him to let her return the favour of being the listening ear. And so he did.

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