Their eyes met across the London street. Hermione about to duck into The Leaky Cauldron. Bella on a brief stop-over on a hunt that she thought would have taken years. Years since she'd last seen that bushy head of hair escape her in Seattle's airport. Years since having narrowly avoided the jet of light meant to obliviate her, that Hermione had cast with tears in her determined eyes.
Hermione had time to yell, "Protego!" and dive inside The Leaky Cauldron. She stood with her back pinning the door closed and looked up into the eyes of Draco Malfoy. What was it with these pale creatures? At least this one was blond.
"Granger," he said, quietly pleased to see Hermione flustered at his appearance. His expression softened to concern as he took in the sight of the witch who kept looking over her shoulder, as though she'd be able to see through the solid wood if only she tried hard enough.
"Not the moment, Malfoy" she said, then caved to the desperate urge to know more. "The window, can you look out the window."
She pointed to the grubby window a few feet away that had likely not been cleaned since the Wizengamot ruling of 1645 on window cleaning.
"Hiding from lover boy," he said, approaching the window. "What is the weasel -"
"Girl," she said, softly, and at that, the memories of Forks that she had tried to suppress for so long broke through. Little moments with Bella, fractions of memories, snippets of joy and forests and them, slipped through Hermione's resolution like the pitter patter of Washington state rain on the forest canopy. She followed Draco to the window and placed her hand on the dimpled glass.
"Girl?" said Draco.
"Girl," said Hermione. She stared at the woman who couldn't see her but who hadn't moved from her spot, and whispered, "Bella."
"Bella?" said Draco, his spine stiffened and his hand went straight for his wand as he followed Hermione's gaze to the pale woman with long dark hair, unable to take in more through the fog of war long past and the dirty windows. "She's dead." The words had tumbled out of their own volition. He had seen his aunt die, hundreds of people had. She was dead. Gone. No longer of this world.
Hermione was still staring out of the window but moved her hand from the glass to Draco's wand arm and slid her hand so that it was around his and said, "Scourgify."
"Granger," he hissed, startled from his panic. "You can't do that! It isn't appropriate, it isn't -"
"If the next word out of your mouth is "ladylike" I will hex you," she said, "and it will be wandless, and embarrassing for 24 to 48 hours."
Her heart wasn't in the threat, though. She was staring at a woman that Draco could see now wasn't his aunt.
"I'm sorry," she said, glancing at him, "the first time I heard her name I nearly hexed her, too. And by hex, I mean Ginny took my wand and stopped an international incident."
"You're a menace," he said, slipping his wand back in his pocket. "But now that we've established you aren't all doe eyed for my aunt, who's the girl?"
"Bella Swan," said Hermione, and her hand was on her mouth, as if she could stop the name going further than her lips.
Draco returned his gaze to Hermione.
"You've got it bad for her, haven't you?" he said.
She closed her eyes and nodded.
"Well, why don't you go out there and see her?" he said. "What, does she bite or something?"
Hermione couldn't stop a nervous laugh escaping her and looked at Draco.
"Oh, she's something," said Hermione.