I don’t believe in anything but myself
I don’t believe in anything but myself
But then you opened up the door,
You opened up the door
Now I start to believe in something else
Hermione sighed deeply in satisfaction as she sank down onto the warm stone bench in the secluded garden. The garden, a mostly-forgotten relic of some age gone by, was an oasis in the middle of bustling London: some witch or wizard had found it or charmed it into existence and placed a powerful Concealment Charm on it. Hermione only found it by accident one day when she happened to have a Secrecy Sensor in her bag.
As an Unspeakable, she always had odd bits of equipment on her, and she was used to them going off randomly and so was generally able to ignore them. However, the Concealment Charm on this garden was so strong that the pull from the Charm on the Sensor pulled her bag hard to the side, causing her to take a nasty spill. After she picked herself up, instinctively muttering charms for cleaning and healing her scrapes, she walked across the road, following the pull of her bag, to what appeared to be a small, completely overgrown lot... or was it? She looked closer, peering through the charms with a concerted effort. There was a stone wall covered in flowers with a pathway opening through the wall, beckoning Hermione in like a siren song.
Well, she wasn't a Gryffindor for nothing. She hoped there was nothing nasty in here like a Venomous Tentacula, but she was willing to take the risk. Life was so... boring, recently. Harry and Ginny were happily headed toward engagement and she and Ron had amicably parted after realizing that they were better off as best friends. Crookshanks had recently passed away after a long, happy life, and her parents had decided to stay in Australia even after their memories were restored, claiming that they'd never felt better in their lives. Her mum loved the scenery and her dad had taken up snorkeling on the weekends. So, Hermione was feeling decidedly alone... and decidedly lonely.
Gathering her courage, she peeked through the opening. Nothing. Just a garden. A lovely, lovely garden. She needed to spend more time outside. She vowed to bring her lunch out to the garden away from her quills and ink at least once a week.
Once a week quickly became every day. She was fairly certain her colleagues thought she was seeing someone. Maybe she was, in a way. It certainly felt like the heady days of an early romance—the illicit sneaking out so that no one could follow her, the flushed cheeks when anyone asked where she'd been, the half-arsed denials that she'd actually been anywhere. Only... she was alone.
Until she wasn't.
She slipped around the corner and half-walked, half-skipped down the path to her bench. Her bench. Certainly not...
“Draco Malfoy! What are you doing here?”
“I could ask you the same, Granger,” Draco drawled. “You're ruining my quiet lunch break.”
“Your quiet lunch break? What about my quiet lunch break, the one that you happen to be interrupting right now?”
“I thought you were seeing some bloke, not sneaking off to secret gardens for lunch, Granger. Unless he's around here waiting for your daily snog?” Draco narrowed his eyes and craned his neck, peering around Hermione as though said bloke would be able to hide behind her petite frame.
Merlin, she was blushing! “There, erm, is no bloke, Malfoy.”
“Damn. Patil gets that Galleon.”
It was her turn to narrow her eyes. “There is an office pool?”
“Honestly, Granger, how long have you been working with us? There's an office pool on everything.”
“Well, I wasn't really all that aware of them. I suppose it figures that Unspeakables wouldn't tell each other the important bits, right?”
Draco grinned lazily. “Nice attempt, but that was probably the worst Unspeakable pun I've heard in some time. Do you know they've been keeping us apart purposefully in the office on assignments?”
“Something about how we probably have long-standing grudges against each other. I told them I was over all of the Mu—Muggleborn business and everything, but they still insisted you probably wouldn't want to work with me.”
She had to smile ruefully in spite of herself. “Malfoy, it's fine. I'll tell them we can work together. I've been wondering why they haven't paired us, especially since we ascertained in training that we have the most compatible magic of the lot. But, there's one condition.”
“Name it first.”
“How did you know about this garden?”
“Honestly, Granger, who do you think charmed this place? Black family secret.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, that's right, you're related to two insufferable ancient houses. I managed to forget for ninety seconds.”
“You're getting better at this joke thing! Now, sit down and eat your lunch. I was just leaving anyway.”
“Are you sure?”
Draco impatiently waved his hands. “Yes, yes, I'm sure. Sit down and eat. I'm leaving. That way, I can go back to the office, no nasty rumors get spread about the two of us, and you can ask to work with me without them immediately assuming the worst.”
“The worst being?”
“Wouldn't you like to know?” He Disapparated, smirk fading last in a Cheshire-cat-esque display.
It became a thing, the almost-eating together, a rhythm. They relaxed around each other at the office. Well, she relaxed around him—she noticed he'd already seemed quite relaxed. And, finally, she began to notice something strange.
“Yes, Granger?” he said, turning around on his way out of the gate.
“Why don't you ever stay?”
He paused. A look she couldn't quite identify came over his face. “I didn't know you wanted me to. Did you?”
“Well... it might be nice.”
“Fine. Would be.”
“Fine.” He spun around and sat next to her. They easily chatted through her lunch.
He made sure to time his arrivals to coincide with hers after that.
How do I know, where’s the proof in you?
And so it goes, this soldier knows
A battle with the heart isn’t easily won
“Merlin, Granger,” he swore.
She huddled in on herself. “What?”
“Why are you here alone?”
“And who else is there to be with me? My parents are abroad, Harry and Ginny are happy, Ron is happy, even my fucking cat is dead,” she sobbed.
“Because I don't have anyone else either. Father's in Azkaban and Mother... doesn't like to remember. All I can do is remember.”
They sat in silence. Finally, she spoke. “Draco... I don't know what you're trying to do. I don't know what your motive is. Just... don't tell anyone what I told you here.”
“They'd all be ashamed if they knew. And I don't want to guilt them. I just don't want to be alone.”
“You're not alone.”
“No. Not if I have anything to say about it.”
They hugged. And it was a start, which sometimes... is all you need, she thought.