‘Eighth’ year at Hogwarts
“I said, GO AWAY Hermione!” shouted Draco as he hunched forward. He was still a mess, and without help, his post-traumatic stress will only get worse.
Realising his fault, again, he tried to apologize. “Look, I’m sorry, Hermione,” he said caringly, reaching out to caress her cheek, however she turned her cheek at the last minute, a hurt look flashed across his face.
“I’m sorry too, Draco, and as much as this pains me, I-I have to let you go. You don’t want my help; you aren’t listening to what I’m saying and it’s breaking my heart to see you like this. You HAVE to listen to me! We have one week left of school, and then what? What will become of you after we graduate? Will we still be together? Or will your mother find you some pureblood wife and marry you off?” sighing heavily, she turned to walk away.
Stopping once more, she couldn’t help adding;
“I’m sorry, Draco, but this is for the best. Find me when you’ve got the help you need, maybe then I’ll think about being with you, if you aren’t already married,” and with that final parting she walked away with a stray tear falling down her face.
After he heard the last of her footfalls, he curled up in a ball and cried, clutching the little box in his pocket that will never see the light of day.
Three Years Later
Walking out of those doors, Draco had never felt freer.
His future was looking up, now he just had to find his dream.
A gust of wind blew the morning’s Daily Prophet into his face, yanking the paper off of him, he saw the headline ‘Has Miss Granger found the One?’ his eyes, widening at the image, quickly devoured the article.
Rita Skeeter here, and boy is this juicy! Our war heroes look to be getting together! After a lot of speculation, it appears that Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are to be in a relationship. As you can see from the image, they were sneaking into a side door at the elusive Vine’s restaurant, famous for being the place to go to when one wants to go down on one knee and pop the question. However, when they emerged from their ostentatious dinner, there was unfortunately no diamond on that finger. None the less, that private room they had booked would no doubt had been used rather…creatively so to speak.
Looking back at the image, Draco saw the bubbling and giggling laughter that he had come to know and love as she was walking into the back entrance of the restaurant. It should’ve been him holding her hand like that. He had lost his chance back when they returned to Hogwarts, but, he’ll be able to get her back now.
He no longer had post-traumatic stress, which was a huge relief for him. He knew he should have listened to Hermione, but it just wasn’t in his nature back then, he thought he could handle it.
After graduation, however, that’s when it really hit him. He had flipped out on his mother quite a few times, and there were certain rooms in the Manor that he could just not go to, unless he wanted to turn into an emotional wreck. It was when he first laid a hand on his mother that he knew, he knew that it just wouldn’t be a passing fancy, he had to get help. Professional help. He hated that. Malfoy’s had too much pride to seek help, but then he remembered Hermione and what happened with her, and the sign of his handprint on his mother’s face didn’t reassure him either.
So, he and his mother had a talk. She would tell everyone that he wanted to grow up, travel and explore the world. While truthfully, he was at a clinic in the southern part of Italy which specialised in PTSD. He had been in and out the past two and a half years, as he had to keep up appearances when social events aroused, but he would then go back a couple of days later.
Only his very close friends knew. Blaise, Theo, Greg, Pansy, Daphne and Tracey. They had to take a wizards oath, due to the sensitive topic and so far, none of them had let it slip from their lips.
Sighing, he made his way to the apparition point to head home, no matter what happens, that little box will see the light of day.
“Oh, Draco! You’re home at last!” cried out Narcissa Malfoy as she heard the crack of apparition in the foyer. Running over to greet her son, she wrapped him up in her arms tightly. “I missed you so much! And I’m so glad that you are finally free!” greeted his mother.
Gently pulling out of the embrace, he smiled down at her. “Yes, don’t worry mother, everything is fine and the re-vamp you have done on the place is fantastic!” commented Draco as he looked around. It was definitely not as dark as he remembered it being.
To his left, though he noticed a tall, slim dark haired girl. She had pin straight black hair with an olive complexion and blue eyes. She was stunning, but she wasn’t Hermione.
“Oh, Draco! I see you have noticed Astoria, you remember her from Antony’s party last summer?”
“Yes, mother,” turning to Astoria he bowed and kissed her hand as all gentleman do, “Hello, Astoria. You were the one in the tantalising purple lace dress, if my memory serves me correctly,” asked Draco.
“You are quite right, Mr Malfoy,” whispered Astoria shyly. She was not used to The Draco Malfoy remembering the likes of her, even if her sister was in the same year as him,
“Please, allow me to escort you to the parlour, where I can catch you and mother up on my trip to the little island called Bali,” stated Draco as he formally took the lead.
“Mother, I do not want you to help me in seeking out a wife! And you pounce one of your prospects on me the day I arrive home!?” shouted Draco as soon as Astoria left.
“Draco, dear, I’m only trying to help, you have to get over that Granger girl sooner or later, it’s not like she hasn’t moved on herself,” commented his mother as she eyed the Daily Prophet on the jarrah coffee table.
“I’m sorry mother, but I will win back Hermione’s affections, you’ll see, so please, stay out of my love life!” argued Draco, leaving the parlour and flooing to the Three Broomsticks, he had planned on meeting everyone there.
“Hermioneeee, Hermione!” called out Ron.
Jumping in her seat, she turned her head to look at him “Oh, sorry Ron, what were you saying?” asked Hermione, taking her gaze away from Malfoy.
Sighing, he gave her that Goofy smile she loved, “Nothing, it wasn’t really important,” responded Ron. He felt a bit down trodden recently, ever since Malfoy came through the doors of the Three Broomsticks, she had pretty much focused on him. He knew he and Hermione worked as a couple, hell, they’d been friends since they were eleven years old, and only just recently, after much persistence from Ginny, Harry and Ron himself did she decide to finally go out with him. But, it looked like it may not last forever either.
He knew about her and Malfoy in their ‘eighth’ year at Hogwarts. Hermione was distraught when she was trying to help him through his post-traumatic stress disorder, and even though he wasn’t always the nicest bloke to her, she had fallen heavy for the witty and charming Slytherin on his good days. Arguably, they did have similar interests, and he acknowledged that, he wasn’t a book lover and will never be able to hold the kind of intelligent conversation that he could offer, but he really didn’t want to let Hermione go, either.
Looking at Hermione, he saw her gaze once more drift to the blonde. No matter how much she denies it, her feelings are still there. He wanted to fling a curse at him, but that would never do. He didn’t want to upset Hermione either.
“Hey, Hermione, I want to check out Zonko’s for five minutes, you can come and join me once you’ve finished your butterbeer,” suggested Ron.
Looking towards him in surprise, and looking at her three quarter glass full of butterbeer, Hermione nodded her head in agreement, “Sure Ron, I won’t be too long,” smiled Hermione.
“Cool, see you soon,” he leant down and kissed her on the cheek and walked out of the noisy pub. ‘I wonder what’ll happen now’ he thought, he had noticed Malfoy’s eyes at the back of his head when he leant down to kiss her.
He saw his opportunity, it was now or never. He knew she was still interested in him at least, since she kept looking his way as that weasel tried to talk to her. Leaving his friends, he walked over to her table and slid into the seat next to her.
“Hello, Hermione,” whispered Draco against her ear.
“Draco!” half shouted Hermione as she got bit of a fright.
“Shhh, calm down Hermione,” responded Draco as he gave her that cocky little grin of his. Smiling, she combed back his hair, “You look good, Draco,”
“Thank you, you do as well Hermione,” he replied graciously.
“So, tell me all about your travels I’ve heard everyone talk about,”
Looking a bit abashed, he told her the real reason for his travels, it was vital that he show her that he’d changed from that traumatised, violent and emotional boy he was. “Honestly Hermione, I was in Italy, at a specialised clinic for sufferers of PTSD. You were right, I needed help, but I was too proud to go down that route. I didn’t want to show you that I was weak. I wanted to prove to myself that I would just be able to pass it off like some silly little thing. But it wasn’t. I hurt you. I deeply regret that more than anything,” informed Draco as he quietly brushed aside a curl that was framing her face.
“Draco… why, why are you telling me this?”
“You made me a promise; remember, right before you walked away from me,”
“Oh, right…” trailed off Hermione as she remembered the last words she said to him that fateful day.
“Hermione, come, take a walk with me,”
“I can’t, Draco, I’m with Ron now, I-I can’t leave him and walk away with you. Don’t be ridiculous!” hissed Hermione as she shoved out of her chair, draining her butterbeer she turned to make her way to Zonko’s.
“Hermione, wait!” he called out and grabbed onto her arm “Then tell me this, why was it that when Weasley was talking that you kept gazing at me? Why was it that you were zoning out that he got tired of trying to talk to you? Why do you think he left you to finish that butterbeer on your own? He knows, Hermione. He may not have been the smartest git at Hogwarts, but he’s shown some now. He knows. Hermione, please just let me ask you one question. Do you still love me?”
Stumped by the barrage of questions and statements that Draco had ploughed over her, she was unsure of what her answer will be. Her heart was pumping, her breathing becoming a little erratic as the truth of his question fell from her lips “Yes.” She thought it wouldn’t be possible, but as much as she wished she was in love with Ron, Draco outweighed that a little bit more. The timing was not the best, she will be hounded by Skeeter for being a flirt, for breaking Ron’s heart, which she probably will. But all those memories, the good and the bad that she had shared with Draco in their lonely eighth year will never be forgotten.
Their first kiss, the first time when Hermione had let go of the past and just enjoyed being with him in the present, their first and awkward time (in Hermione’s case) when they explored each other’s bodies sans clothes. Then there were the bad, when Draco would seize up, squeezing her hand tightly and crumple into a ball as the PTSD would affect him out of nowhere. His emotions, the rawness in them were startling, and she would rock him till they would abate. Then there was the anger. It frightened her, how vicious he got, especially that last time, but he had found the help he needed. And that was the difference between the boy she used to know and the man who was grabbing onto her hand in the side street of Hogesmade.
She saw the change in him.
She saw the torch he still carried for her.
She saw the love.
Looks like she’ll be opening that little, black, velvet box after all.