Actions

Work Header

Church Bells

Work Text:

 

Present

She was absolutely gorgeous, the most beautiful woman in the room. She was wearing a long-sleeved gown in the color of salmon pink. The frock accentuated her curves perfectly. Her brown hair was tied into a nicely-done chignon. And even though her face was slightly covered by the double tier veil that was pinned to her head, everyone could see the bright smile she had for her groom.

The said groom was also looking his best today. He was wearing a classic, Prussian blue suit. His blond hair was brushed to perfection. He had a small, but genuine grin and his eyes were full of excitement and anticipation as he looked at his bride.

They were the perfect couple. They were both beautiful. They were both intelligent. They were both hard-working, slightly stubborn people. He was a bit arrogant, but it was okay because she was patient. She had a bit of a holier-than-thou attitude, but that was also okay because he was caring. They fit perfectly like a puzzle. And they were getting married.

. . .

September 3, 2000

“I’m sorry.”

Hermione blinked, not sure if this was really happening or not. The words seemed to repeat themselves in her head, but she still couldn’t quite understand what he meant when he said it.

“What?” she eloquently blurted out.

She saw Malfoy roll his eyes. Was he forced to apologize to her or something?

“Look,” he started with a sigh, “I don’t know what to say here, but – I’m sorry.”

Hermione was not a cruel person, but she wanted to laugh at him. Was it wrong to enjoy seeing her childhood bully stutter while apologizing to her? And she didn’t even know what he was apologizing for.

“Pardon?” She wanted him to repeat it again.

Malfoy glared at her, possibly irritated at the fact that she was making him suffer a bit.

“I am sorry,” he repeated.

“For what?”

Malfoy took a long, deep breath. “My Hogwarts bullshit. I apologize for that. All the prejudiced shite I’ve said to you back then. I’m sorry.”

Hermione couldn’t suppress a grin. She never would’ve thought she would hear him apologize to her, especially for those things, but here he was now. She wondered if he actually meant it.

“Why are you saying these things now?” She arched an eyebrow.

She was actually genuinely curious. She truly wanted to know why he felt the need to apologize. Did their Professor force him? Was he suddenly overcome by guilt and couldn’t sleep without her forgiveness? Hermione didn’t know.

“Because I want to,” – was his reason. Such a Malfoy response.

“And, you know -  “ he hesitated, “ – I don’t care about those things now. It’s stupid. I was stupid.”

Huh. Hermione had no idea what to say to that, so she just waited for him to start speaking again.

“And I figured that we can be.. er… friends since we’re going to spend a lot of time with each other,” he continued.

Watching Malfoy cringe at the word ‘friends’ amused Hermione to no end.

She slightly chuckled. “Being friends is a bit of a reach, Malfoy, and my forgiveness is earned – not given. Why don’t you sit down so we can both study about rare magical diseases?”

Malfoy sneered a bit at her offer, but soon forced himself to smile and sat across from her.

And they did spend their third day in Chippenham’s School of Magical Healing reading about rare magical diseases like Hermione wanted to.

. . .

December 4, 2000

Hermione found that Draco Malfoy was quite enjoyable to be with. He was still sometimes condescending and arrogant, but she was shocked to know that he had an amazing sense of humor and that he never ran out of stories to tell. He was also intelligent and had an obvious passion for Magical Healing. Hermione didn’t know if she was ready to forgive him yet or if they were actually friends, but she knew that she could forgive him and that they could be friends.

She knew so much about him now – so much little details. She knew that his favorite color was lilac. She knew that he was fluent in three other languages: French, Italian, and Latin. She knew that he was an Occlumens. She knew that he was supposed to study in Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts. She knew that he absolutely detested any kind of pastry and that he absolutely loved every kind of seafood. She knew that he didn’t prefer tea because he liked coffee. She knew that he only liked wearing robes or nothing at all. She knew that he would like to get married and have a big family in the future. She knew that he was as interested in Magical Medicine as she was.

She suddenly heard him spoke up. “Why do want to be a Healer, Granger?”

Interesting question. Like the know-it-all Malfoy claimed she was, Hermione knew the answer to that particular question.

After the war, Hermione had searched for her parents in Australia and found them unexpectedly easily. She reversed the Memory Charm she had put on them and they were appalled when they heard her explanations as to why she removed their memories. Her father had been angry – still was to this day – and she made her mother cry. They had told her that they still loved her, but it would take a lot of time to forgive her. They hadn’t contacted her since.

“Following certain footsteps,” she told him. “My parents were Dentists – Muggle Healers for teeth. I-I want to make them proud of me for once and I think that being a Healer can do that.”

At least, she hoped so.

Malfoy nodded in understanding.

“How about you?” she asked him.

He glanced at her, slightly surprised at her question. She knew that he would answer anyway.

“I was a Death Eater,” he began, “I’d helped kill and destroy a lot of things. I should be dead for my crimes, but I’m not. So, I thought that maybe I was alive for a reason; maybe my life had more purpose than sitting around the Manor, wasting my ancestors’ Galleons. Maybe, my purpose in life was to rebuild the things I’ve helped to destroy. Maybe I was supposed to heal everything I’ve broken. Maybe, I owe each and every one who is living today something and, maybe by being a Healer, I can repay those debts to them.”

Hermione loved his answer. It was everything she had expected from him. It was the truth, but he was still unsure. It was right, but he thought he could still be wrong.

Hermione smiled. His answer made her realize something.

“Malfoy,” she softly called out.

“Hmm?”

“I forgive you.”

. . .

February 12, 2001

Hermione Granger was not alright. She was pissed the hell off. She was angry.

Life was so bloody unfair.

“You don’t have to be perfect all the time, Granger,” a certain annoying and blond wizard told her.

He was wrong. She had to be perfect all the time. There were no exceptions. She always needed to be right. She always needed to succeed. She always needed to be the best. Failure and mediocrity were not options for a girl like her.

They had a hands-on examination last week about basic first-aid. Their Professor put each student in an illusion where an accident would happen to see what they would’ve done in a certain situation. Hermione had been put into a rallying mob scenario. There had been hundreds of people with her in the illusion and some children were getting trampled by the uncontrollable crowd. She was supposed to save the children, so she did what any reasonable person would do and Apparated them out of the chaos. She had taken them into a safe environment first before she had healed them. It was the right thing to do. But, their Professor didn’t think that was the case for he had given Hermione an Acceptable for her exam. What kind of unfair grading system was this?

“What was I supposed to do?” she asked, absolutely outraged. “Should I have healed them on the spot? That’s dangerous and even you know it, Draco!”

“I don’t think you were supposed to Apparate seven children at the same time, Granger,” he pointed out with the stupidest smirk on his ferret face.

“They didn’t get Splinched!” she practically screamed at him.

Malfoy shrugged. “They could’ve been.”

“But they did not!”

Hermione groaned. She didn’t want an Acceptable on her records. It wasn’t acceptable at all! She did the right thing and she had saved all of the people she was supposed to save.

“Just because you got an Outstanding on this, doesn’t mean you’re always right, Malfoy,” she growled.

And then, he had the audacity to laugh.

“Don’t laugh at me!”

“It’s not like you’re going to fail the entire course, Granger,” he said. “You didn’t even get a Poor. It’s alright.”

She furiously shook her head.

“No,” she refused, crossing her arms. “You only got an O because the Professor has a crush on your father anyway. I can’t believe this school condones such disgusting behavior as favoritism. I knew I should’ve just been an Auror. I’m too bloody good for them anyways. There are so many schools offering me a scholarship and I picked this! They should be bloody grateful! I saved them all from Voldemort! Without me, Harry could’ve never killed him. I’ve done every kind of research for this exam and they give me an A? Just like that? They’re so not – “

And like a clichéd romance, Malfoy decided to cut her off in the middle of her rant by kissing her.

Hermione’s eyes widened and she immediately pushed him away.

“What?” she eloquently blurted out.

Her heart was beating as fast as it had been when Voldemort announced Harry was dead.

Malfoy was a bit red, but he kept grinning at her.

“Would you like to go on a date with me this upcoming Valentine’s Day?” he asked, with a bouquet of white and pink roses in his hand.

She never even noticed that he was holding that. Huh.

Hermione stared at the flowers in confusion.

“Where did you get that?”

Malfoy shook his head. “That’s not really important right now.”

Oh. He was right. He had asked her if she wanted to accompany him on a date.

“Malfoy,” she began cautiously, “I don’t really want to ruin our friendship. We’ve been quite good together so far without any – “

He cut her off with a kiss. Again.

“Please?”

Hermione looked him in the eye and saw nothing but adoration and joy present.

She subconsciously smiled.

“Sure, Malfoy.”

Then, she was the one who kissed him this time.

. . .

April 12, 2002

“I love you.”

Hermione had blood on her face, on her gloved hands, on her hair. She had not slept in two days and her hair was getting frizzier by the second. She knew that she looked exceptionally unattractive today so why did he say that?

It wasn’t like Hermione didn’t appreciate his words, no, she was very glad to hear those words from him actually – she was just shocked. It was the first time she had heard him say it, of course she would be shocked! And he just said it out of nowhere like it was nothing!

Hermione looked at him, like really took a long look at the man standing before her. His blond hair was dirty, as he had not washed it in a week. His cheeks had some blood smeared on them, too. He looked pale and gray. His eyes were emphasized by the dark bags under them. She knew he was as exhausted as she was, but she also knew that he was happy. Draco had a small smile on his face and his eyes were fixated on her.

He looked so handsome that Hermione couldn’t stop herself from pulling his face close to hers and giving him the kiss he deserved for all his hard work.

As soon as his lips met hers, Hermione felt all the weariness from her body dissipate. She felt like she had just gotten up from a 12-hour nap. She felt like she was ready to fight another Dark Lord. She was suddenly buzzing in excitement. He brushed his thumb across her cheek and she was utterly thrilled at the way his touch felt.

He was the reason why she could stay awake for two days. His kiss was her life force. His touch made her feel like she was the most important girl in the world. He was her everything.

She now knew why he had told her what he just did and she would like to say it to him as well.

Hermione pulled away from their kiss, eyes still closed, forehead resting on his.

“I love you, too.”

. . .

June 5, 2002

Hermione was not nervous. At all.

It was Draco’s 22nd birthday. She had bought an expensive Muggle suit, given him a hand-sewn blue scarf, and made him breakfast as her gifts for him. They had spent all morning and afternoon together, mostly in each other. That had been a fun day, but now, they were in a high-end restaurant to sup with Draco’s parents. And she was not nervous. Nope. Not at all.

She wondered if they would like the dress she was currently wearing. Would they think that her hair was too unruly? Maybe she should change her shoes. Was her necklace too plain? Oh God. There they were now, walking towards them – looking as snobby, pretentious, and extra as Hermione remembered them to be.

Draco stood up to greet them and Hermione just smiled tightly.

She saw Narcissa Malfoy glance at her with a sneer on her face. Then, they all sat down.

“Happy birthday, Draco,” Narcissa Malfoy said.

“Thank you.” Draco kissed his mother on the cheek.

“I thought that only the three of us were going to dine together,” Lucius Malfoy said, completely ignoring Hermione’s presence.

“I never said that,” Draco pointed out, “and I think this is the right time for me to properly introduce her to you.”

Narcissa Malfoy took a deep breath. “What do you mean?”

“Mother, father,” he started, “this is Hermione Granger. She’s been my girlfriend for a year now.”

Lucius was disappointed, looking at Draco. Narcissa was disgusted, looking at her. Her beau’s mother was scrunching up her nose as if Hermione was the most revolting thing she had ever set her eyes on.

Hermione had been receiving those kinds of looks her whole life. She was quite used to them now. They didn’t bother her like it did many years back. She now knew that when others looked at her like that, she was not the one who was in the wrong. She didn’t blame herself anymore for those scathing words and glances.

“We raised you better than this, Draco,” Lucius claimed.

Hermione almost laughed at the audacity of him.

“What?” Draco was baffled.

“I don’t understand,” Narcissa slightly shook her head. “Is this a phase? Are you going through something serious? You can talk to us, Draco, remember that.”

“What?”

“Did she slip you a love potion?” Narcissa whispered, as if Hermione couldn’t hear her.

“No!”

“We’ll have a talk with Healers,” Lucius decided. “We’re going to figure out what’s wrong with you.”

We’re Healers!” Draco exclaimed. “And there is nothing wrong with me!”

Narcissa and Lucius went silent for a few moments.

“Hermione Granger is my girlfriend,” he told them, “and I love her.”

Hermione smiled despite of the situation. She always appreciated it when Draco told her he loved her.

Narcissa gasped, looking outraged. “Love. What a wonderful concept, Draco. Now, break up with her.”

“No!”

“How do you know that she’s not staying with you for money?” Lucius asked his son. “Mudbloods are desperate. They would – “

“You can’t say that anymore, father,” Draco cut off.

“You’re dragging our family name into the dirt by being with dirt,” Lucius continued. “Does our reputation mean nothing to you?”

“Pure belongs with pure,” Narcissa said confidently, as if her words weren’t full of ignorance and prejudice, “and mud belongs with mud.”

Lucius nodded, agreeing with his wife. “This relationship is not right. It’s stupid and disgusting, Draco. You deserve better.”

Now, Hermione could take the Mudblood comments. She could handle the statements about her being unworthy, but she didn’t like that Lucius and Narcissa were attacking her relationship with Draco.

“It doesn’t get better than Hermione,” Draco said. “I love her. Nothing you say will make me leave her.”

All of a sudden, Hermione heard a sob. A sob that came from… Narcissa Malfoy. The older woman was actually crying because of their relationship.

“I apologize,” Narcissa whispered, taking out a handkerchief and using it to wipe her tears away. “This is just distressing me, really.”

Narcissa regained her composure and chose to walk out of the restaurant.

Lucius sneered at them. “You better stop this immature joke soon, Draco. Your mother and I only want the best and pure for you. Nothing less.”

Then, he proceeded to walk out the restaurant as well.

Hermione sighed and took a look at her boyfriend. He was biting his lip and staring at the chairs his parents got off of. He looked troubled. This was the first encounter he had with his parents for months and it obviously did not go well. She knew that he had been missing them as well. He had been looking forward to talking with them again.

She took his hands in hers. Maybe Lucius Malfoy was right. Maybe Draco did deserve better.

. . .

August 15, 2002

“I can’t believe you ignored Molly Weasley!”

“I didn’t know that she was talking to me.”

“And then you made a comment about her food. Oh my God, Draco, I am never taking you to the Burrow again!”

“The food did taste strange! It was chicken and it tasted sour. Chicken isn’t supposed to be sour, Granger!”

“And then Ron and Harry! Did you really have to be that rude to them?”

“They were just as rude to me, Granger, and you know it! I’m sorry if I can’t sit properly and love every single one of your friends!”

“You don’t need to love them! Just be nicer to them, please.”

“No.”

“You’re unreasonable. That’s why no one wants to be friends with you at work, you know! You always think that you’re better off without genuine people!”

“Talking about me behind my back isn’t genuine.”

“No one can stand you but me! Not even your own parents!”

“My parents aren’t talking to me because of you! And your own parents are ignoring you as well!”

“Well, maybe we’re better off without each other!”

“We are better off alone. We do nothing but fight!”

Silence followed.

Then, Draco walked out.

Hermione frowned.

This was the first time Draco ever walked out because of an argument.

. . .

January 2, 2003

“They disowned me.”

Hermione sucked in a sharp breath.

Draco was invited to a New Year’s dinner by his parents. He had been ecstatic. He had thought that they were going to apologize to him and Draco was ready to forgive them. But everything went wrong again.

“Fuck,” he swore, throwing the bottle of wine he was holding into the wall.

Hermione flinched as she heard the bottle crash into million little pieces.

She never would’ve expected that Lucius and Narcissa would disown Draco. She had thought that they loved Draco too much to do that, but she was wrong, of course.

She heard Draco collapse onto his knees on the floor, crying as he fell. Hearing him whimper and curse himself broke Hermione’s heart. Seeing him in pain was painful to her as well.

And so, she went to him. She wrapped his arms around his frame and hugged him tightly. He continued to cry on her shoulder.

“I miss them so much,” he wailed.

Hermione placed a kiss on his neck.

“I know,” she said, “I’m sorry.”

They spent their whole night there, in the middle of their living room. Draco was crying his eyes out and Hermione did her best to make him feel better. But he never did feel better after that.

. . .

May 10, 2003

She was tired of seeing Draco suffer. She didn’t want to see him pout and sob anymore. She didn’t want to put him in any more pain.

So, she sent a letter to his parents. She told them that she’d needed to see them. For Draco. Hermione didn’t know what she would actually tell them, but she was determined to make Draco alright again.

“If you’re not going to speak, Miss Granger, then we’d best be going,” Narcissa told her through gritted teeth. “Our time is clearly being wasted here.”

“No!” Hermione blurted out. “Don’t go. We need to talk about Draco.”

The Malfoys stiffened at the mention of their precious son.

“Your son, Draco,” she repeated.

Lucius spoke up. “What about him?”

Hermione took a deep breath before explaining. “He’s going through hell ever since you disowned him. He drinks more than usual. He cries every night. He only eats one meal a day.”

“What?”

“He misses you,” she told them.

They both stared at her for a long time.

“Take him back, please,” she pleaded. “I need him to be okay again. I need him to be happy and he can’t be happy without you two.”

“You do know that if it weren’t for you, he never would’ve been disowned in the first place?” Narcissa reminded. “If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t be suffering.”

Hermione actually did know that and she beat herself every night for that. She knew Draco could’ve lived the perfect life if she only didn’t enter it.

“Please,” she chose to say instead. “I need you to take him back.”

“We can’t – we won’t,” Lucius said. “Not until you’re out of his life. Not until the filth is finally gone from his shoes.”

. . .

Present

The bride’s parents were crying. The groom’s own parents were a lot more composed, but anyone could tell that they were also happy. Everyone was happy for them. Everyone was glad to be a part of the wedding except, of course, Hermione Granger.

She wished that she could be happy for them as well, but she was hurting too much. She had thought that she could go through this day like any other day that she would see them together, but she was wrong. There was something permanent about marriage and she didn’t like it. She especially didn’t like the fact that she wasn’t the one he was marrying.

Life was cruel and unfair. Two years ago, she and Draco had been discussing this very event. Hermione had told him that they didn’t have to have guests. It could just be him and her. She remembered Draco laughing and kissing her after that.

She still loved him. Even though she was the one who broke up with him, even though he already moved on from her, even though they were good friends today – Hermione still loved him. She still craved his touch every night. She still longed for his kiss every day. She still wanted to hear him say he loved her.

Astoria finally arrived at the side of her soon-to-be husband and Hermione’s heart clenched at the look Draco gave his bride.

His eyes held nothing but adoration and joy. He used to look at her like that all the time. He used to adore her. He used to be happy with her. But now, Astoria was the one he adored. Astoria was his joy now. Not her, not anymore. Not ever again.

She felt the tears streaming down her cheeks. She hoped everyone who saw assumed that it was out of happiness even if it was not. Not even close.

She saw Draco whisper something in Astoria’s ear and the little nudge she gave him after that.

Draco used to whisper dirty things in her ear too. Even in public. He’d said that he enjoyed the blush that would appear on her cheeks every time he’d do it. He didn’t enjoy her blushing now. He enjoyed Astoria now.

Narcissa and Lucius immediately accepted Draco back after their break up. She knew that they would never do it again. She made them promise to never hurt Draco like that again. They didn’t like Astoria either, thought that she was too weak and kind. But Draco stood up to them and he actually threatened to leave and never speak to them again if they didn’t accept her.

That was love.

Love wasn’t theirs. They didn’t have it like that, at least. She could only wish Draco did the same for her when he’d introduced her to them.

Love with Draco and Astoria was not exciting. It was not the energy-giving force Hermione and Draco had, no. Love with them was calm. Serene. Always happy. Love with them was balloons, chocolates, and flowers. Love like that always – always lasted. Hermione wished that she and Draco had that kind of love.

Wishing and wanting led her to nowhere but the present. The wedding.

They were saying their vows now. They promised to love each other eternally. Without halt. Not even death would do them part, vowed Draco. Astoria said that she would be looking for him in hell after they were buried.

Their vows, promises, and pledges were like the Cruciatus Curse. It hurt her every time it hit her. There was nothing more painful than that.

Their rings were beautiful, provided by Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy, of course. The rings were pink and blue like their wedding. Astoria’s had a sapphire stone. Draco’s had a pink diamond. Their hands and fingers were both pretty. They were perfect for each other.

The tears continued falling from her eyes.

Draco grabbed Astoria by the shoulders. She squealed in shock. Then, he kissed her. Hermione heard Astoria giggle right before she kissed him back. Their hearts, souls, and magic were now bound together. Forever.

Hermione had just lost the man she loved and all she could do was cry.

. . .
inspired by Etta James’s All I Could Do Was Cry (Church Bells)