All Characters and canon situations belong to JK Rowlings and Warner Brothers and I make no money from the writing or publishing of this story.
This story was written for an Oktober Fest challenge at The Maple Bookshelf - originally published there Sept 2012.
Wish You Were Here
The Morning After
Waking up with a start, Draco Malfoy rolled over in bed and immediately reached out to the woman lying next to him. Placing his hand on her hip as she lay on her side with her back to him, he closed his eyes again; grateful the room was still mostly dark. Only a small shaft of diffused light echoed throughout the room, stealing its way inside through a slit in the curtains. It must be very early, and daylight still a safe distance away. Good. He liked it dark. It was easier to creep away in the dark, rather than the light. Perhaps he could sneak out of here without waking her.
He moved his hand from her hip up to her waist, then to her shoulder. Passing it back down her arm, he let it drift to her hand. Placing his hand on top of hers, he moved closer to her, noting the way the top sheet pooled around her waist. Rising up on his elbow, he looked down at her and noticed a tantalizing hint of breast that seemed to be waiting for his gaze. Maybe he didn't want to leave yet. Perhaps she would be up for something this morning. He definitely knew that a certain part of his anatomy was 'up' for something, and seeing how he didn't recall ANYTHING from last night, he should at least leave here with a few happy memories to store away from this occasion.
Turning to his back with a sigh, he withdrew his hand and decided not to wake her. He moved his head on the pillow to look at her in the waning darkness of the room. Funny, he couldn't even recall what she looked like. Was she tall? Was she pretty? She had at least one nice breast, but that was all he could tell. He could tell she wasn't fat, had a nice round bottom, and he thought he might see a mole on her shoulder. He leaned closer to the mole. No, it was a birthmark, and it was shaped like Germany. Hell, he couldn't remember if she was even a witch or a Muggle – but at least he knew she had a birthmark shaped like Germany!
Feeling disgusted with himself, he tried to recall anything (everything?) that he could from last night, but his mind was drawling a blank. He knew he went to a bar… but everything after that point was blank. He didn't even remember coming here last night. In truth, he didn't even know where he was, but he assumed it was the woman's flat, because it certainly wasn't his!
Why did he do this to himself? Why was he constantly looking to assuage his ennui and sense of apathy by filling it was empty, nameless, and in this case, faceless sex? He didn't deserve it, and the many women he slept with didn't deserve it either. With a certain degree of disgust – at himself and at the world in general – he slid quietly from the bed, picking up his trousers, shoes, socks and wand from the floor by his feet. Where was his shirt? No matter. All he really needed was his wand. He would Disapparate away from here before she woke up, avoiding the embarrassing 'will you call me again' when he knew he wouldn't, because he never did.
How could he call them again when half the time he didn't know their names? How could he call them again when he didn't remember what they looked like, or when they all tended to merge into one empty, hollow experience?
Slipping on his clothes, he moved to the other side of the bed to get a look at this one. For some reason, he wanted to remember this woman, if only because he felt he was finally at a turning point. He was finally tired of it all. Thanks or no thanks to this unknown woman – naked woman – with whom he supposedly shared a night of passion.
Before he looked upon her face, he spied his shirt hanging over the lamp on the bedside table. Pulling the shirt over his arms, he did quick work of the buttons, debating the entire time whether he even wanted to look at the woman. He knew he should at least wake her and tell her goodbye, but then again, what would he say after he woke her? "Thank you, whatever your name is; I had a smashing good time, even though I was pissed out of my mind. Not really your fault, but you see I'm broken inside, because I've been in love with a woman name Hermione Granger for well over five years and she doesn't give a damn about me. Therefore, you see, I was using you to dull the pain. Have a nice life."
Yeah, he could see that going over big.
While he was dictating his dribble of diatribe in his head, he picked up his jacket and slipped it on over his shirt. With his back turned away from the sleeping woman, he heard her moan slightly. He almost turned back around, but resisted. He wouldn't lie any longer. He didn't want to know what she looked like because he didn't want to remember any of this. He wouldn't tell her goodbye, or that he had a nice time, and he'd see her soon, when they were all lies. He didn't want to lie any longer, not to himself, nor to others.
Instead, with his face still toward the door, he said in a soft, hoarse whisper, "I'm leaving now." He dropped his chin to his chest in defeat, and continued aloud, even if only to himself, "I'm leaving because I always leave. I'm leaving because I'm a bastard. I'm leaving because this meant nothing to me. I'm leaving because you mean nothing to me. I'm leaving because I don't even remember last night, and the thought of it makes me sick. I've become a man I hate, who drowns every sorrow he has with firewhiskey and nameless women. I can't even say I'm sorry, because I'm not."
After his soft speech, said in sotto voce, he froze when he heard the rustling of the sheets, and then spied a shadow on the wall before him. The woman was apparently sitting up in the bed. Oh, fuck no. She had been awake. She heard him. He hadn't meant for anyone to hear his benediction save for his own, sorry soul.
It was just as well. It was better not to tempt fate. Without taking even the first glance at the woman behind him, he padded over to the door, opened it, and said, "Yeah, so that's the truth of it. Goodbye."
He Disapparated away from the hallway.
Hermione Granger sat up in the bed, a look of confused and sadness on her face and to the empty space before her, said, "Draco? What did you mean by that? Draco?"
Of course, he had already left, so he didn't hear a thing.
Last night at a pub
Hermione was feeling a bit blue. She hated feeling as such, but she couldn't overcome it even if she had wanted to, which she didn't. She was reveling in her sorrow and grief… another day older, another year come and gone. The reason for her melancholy mood was that it was her birthday and no one seemed to care.
The bar she entered, (she didn't even know its name) was full of happy, merry people who seemed to be celebrating something, she knew not what. She would bet her last galleon they weren't celebrating her 29th birthday. No one was celebrating it! Her parents were at a dental convention in Toronto; her friends all had plans of one sort of another. No one even seemed to recall it was her birthday – the 29th one at that! Therefore, she decided to go out and celebrate it herself, hence the reason she was here at a pub – a pub that had a large sign over the bar reading, 'Happy Oktoberfest'. Ah. That was the reason the crowd was so merry – beer and polka.
She couldn't fault anyone in the crowd for having a good time. If she couldn't have a good time tonight, than at least everyone around her could. She took some comfort in that knowledge. There was no table in which to sit, so she found a place at the bar, ordered a beer on tap, and decided to continue to wallow.
Nursing her beer (for she was such a lightweight when it came to drinking, so one would be more than enough) she pondered the facts as they sat before her. She was twenty-nine years old now, she had a boring job, she hadn't been on a date in four months, all her friends were married with children, and she was in love with a man who didn't know she was alive.
No, that wasn't true. Draco Malfoy knew she was alive… he just didn't seem to care. Every once in a while she would notice him noticing her, but it was always with a look of disgust on his handsome face. Well, disgust or constipation, one or the other. She was a healer at St. Mungo's, he was on the board of governors, and he occasionally helped in the Potion's Department, as he was a superior potion maker.
Whenever they were in a room together, he would duck his head, hide his eyes, and avoid her. It was maddening. Even if he still thought of her as a lowly mudblood, he didn't have to treat her with such open disdain. Why, just the other day there was a meeting of the directors of each department (she was head of the children's ward) and the board of governors. Together, they were trying to come up with ways to raise money for a special unit of the children's ward, and the only empty seat was next to her, but what did he do? He stood. He propped his back against the wall, folded his arms, and stood right behind her. She was not only embarrassed, but also affronted.
And extremely angry with herself for having feelings for the blasted man!
She was determined to confront him after the meeting. Taking her time to straighten her papers, she rose from her seat only after almost everyone else had left. As he stood talking to the Head Healer, she continued to fumble with her papers. When the other man finally left, she turned to confront Draco.
He was staring right at her.
Her heart was beating like a base drum, her pulse flittering in her neck. Keeping her composure, she placed her folder under her arm and approached him. She imagined throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him for a split second, but even her courage couldn't allow that. She might drop her folder and papers would scatter everywhere!
Finally standing in front of him, she said, "May I ask you a question?" Then, before he confirmed that yes, she may ask a question, she asked, "Why are you always frowning when you look at me?" Okay, that wasn't what she meant to say, but it needed asked, because he usually had a large frown on his face, except as she walked closer to him, it seemed to be replaced with another look entirely. Then, all semblance of passivity left his face, and his frown returned with a vengeance. Now her hands were sweaty and her mouth dry.
He asked in return, "Is this line of questioning going to take long? I have places to go."
Her eyes lingered on his handsome, frowning face, his silver eyes, and his blond hair. He eluded a cool, calm exterior, which angered her. As persuasively as she could, she said, "Have a seat and I'll make it as quickly as I can."
He started to pull out the chair closest to him and she added, "I'll even sit all the way over here, so you won't have to sit too close to me." She walked around to the other side of the table while he sat in the chair he pulled out.
"What was your question again, Granger?" He looked down at his hands, then back up in her face, cleared his throat and said, "Oh yes, why am I always frowning, wasn't that your question?"
"Why don't you ever call me Hermione?" she asked, no longer interested in his handsome, frowning face… or his reason for it. "We've known each other close to twenty years, and you've never once called me Hermione." That fact bothered her on so many levels. He only ever called her 'Granger'. It seemed so clip, discourteous, and disrespectful.
Furrowing his brows, he said, "How many more questions are you going to ask, and will I be allowed to answer any of them before you ask another?"
"I call you Draco," she said as a response.
He sighed. That one little movement, merely a small exhale of breath, angered her more than she thought possible. How dare he 'sigh' at her – as if he was so important and she was so beneath him! "Fine," she began, "I'll get to the point. We have to see each other often, here at work, and I'd appreciate it if you would treat me with respect, that's all."
She stood and started to leave. From his seat, he reached out and grabbed her wrist as she started past him, causing her to drop her file and all the papers in it. With a distinct irritated tone in his voice, he said her name: "Hermione." She was sure that the taste of her name on his tongue was distasteful to him. Pausing for a second, he added, "I call you Hermione."
Shaking her head, she replied, "No, you really don't, but that's not really the point, and I no longer care."
With his masculine fingers still holding her wrist tightly, he said, "Then what is the point, for I fail to see how any of these questions are pertinent to anything - HERMIONE."
She thought he was mocking her now, and she wouldn't have it. "I have one last question for you, DRACO." She said his name as loudly and exaggerated as he had just said hers. "Why did you pick my department to give the new donation to, knowing it would mean that we had to work closely together, since you apparently hate me so much?"
He let go of her wrist as if she was suddenly on fire. His eyes flew to hers and he mumbled, "You would know all about hate, wouldn't you?"
Uncompromising arse! She bent down to pick up her fallen folder and papers, and said, "Forget I asked. Thank you for the donation. I'll try to make sure the assistant direction deals with anything to do with it from this point on so we won't have to speak with one another."
She looked up into his face, finding it closer than she assumed as he was down on his knees before her. There was a spark of anger in his eyes, which she thought she preferred to the normal look of boredom and abhorrence.
He grabbed her wrist again, pulled her up as he stood, and said, "I never said I didn't want to be near you, did I?"
She pulled her wrist from his hand, felt a blush tinge her cheeks, and said, "Never mind." Then she stormed out the door.
Now tonight, she sat at a pub, on her birthday, with a bunch of Oktoberfesters, all alone, and she felt guilty for so many things, but mostly for her traitorous heart, which still loved Draco Malfoy, even though he didn't deserve it.
Draco remembers it differently
Draco found out from one of Hermione's work mates that tonight was her birthday. He also found out that she was apparently celebrating it alone. He found out that second tidbit by following the birthday girl… not that he was a stalker or anything.
He felt odd after their confrontation today, after the meeting at St. Mungo's. He felt peculiar during the meeting, too, but that was because he was almost intoxicated at the very sight of her. He walked into the meeting, a bit late, and found that the only empty chair was next to her. He couldn't make himself sit next to her. He just couldn't. If he sat next to her he might be tempted to touch her, or droll or something.
He stood against the wall, behind her chair, and stared at her instead. From that vantage point, he could look at her all he wanted and no one around the table would be the wiser.
While the director of the board of governors and the Head Healer spoke about his donation to her department, he watched her. He always watched her. He couldn't help it. His eyes would linger on her whenever she was around. She had a grace and a beauty that surpassed all others. Yet, whenever they were near each other, he found that all he could think about was the guilt he felt for the way he used to treat her, for the way he used to think of her kind, and for the things that happened to her in the past.
And of course, how much unrequited love hurt. He loved her. He had for along time, and she only felt disdain for him. It cut him to the quick, but being a glutton for punishment, he still sought her out every time he could.
After the meeting, he started to talk to the Head Healer – a stupid, insipid man – for the main reason that SHE was taking her time to straighten her papers. He didn't want to quit the room until she did. When she finally rose from her seat, he dismissed the man as quickly as he could and waited for her.
She turned and stared right at him.
Every nerve ending in his body was ablaze with heat and electricity at her nearness. She approached him with her stupid little folder under her arm, and even as she came closer and closer, he imagined her throwing the folder on the floor, scattering papers everywhere, and jumping into his arms.
Well, a man could dream.
The truth was something different. When she was in front of him, she asked, "May I ask you a question?" His mouth was dry, his mind reeling. What did she want to know? He would tell her anything. He was about to embarrass himself by saying as much, when she concluded, "Why are you always frowning when you look at me?"
He was well aware that he WASN'T frowning at that moment, seeing as he felt slightly happy when she stopped to talk to him, but her question caused him to frown again. Goodness, this was it. She was finally going to give him a good set down, tell him to stop staring at her, to leave her alone, and oh yes, that she hated him.
Frowning for all he was worth, he asked, "Is this line of questioning going to take long? I have places to go?"
"Have a seat and I'll make it as quickly as I can."
With a flash of acknowledgment, he realized how pathetic he sounded, and how angry she sounded. He started to pull out a chair for her, to tell her to have a seat, so she could yell at him all she wanted, when she said, "I'll even sit all the way over here, so you won't have to sit too close to me." She walked around to the other side of the table while he sat in the chair he pulled out, to hide his embarrassment.
What did she mean by that? He wanted to be close to her, but apparently even being in the same room with him was enough to repulse her. He was rapidly feeling reckless and resigned. Fine, she hated him. So be it.
"What was your question again, Granger?" He looked down at his hands to hide the fact that he was afraid of what she was going to say. When he looked back up to her face, he had to clear the lump in his throat, before he said, "Oh yes, why am I always frowning, wasn't that your question?"
"Why don't you ever call me Hermione?" she asked. "We've known each other close to twenty years, and you've never once called me Hermione."
Furrowing his brows, he didn't know how to respond. How could he tell her that he wished to call her by her name, intimately so, every day and every night, but that he just couldn't. Calling her by her name was something he only did in his daydreams and at night when he dreamt of her. Calling her by her name would be a cherished, lovely thing, but also something that would hurt him so badly if she ever told him to stop.
Schooling his features, he asked, "How many more questions are you going to ask, and will I be allowed to answer any of them before you ask another?"
"I call you Draco," she said as a response.
He sighed. He felt he was drowning and starving all at once. Her sparkling brown eyes were alit with anger and hate. Her cheeks were flushed and he knew at that moment he should get up and leave, apologize to her for everything bad in the world, and go drown his sorrows as he did every time he thought of how pathetic he was, and how beautiful she was.
She suddenly said, "Fine, I'll get to the point. We have to see each other often, here at work, and I'd appreciate it if you would treat me with respect, that's all."
She stood and started to leave. He felt that if he spoke right now he would fumble everything, so instead of speaking he reached out and grabbed her wrist as she started by him, causing her to drop her file and all the papers in it. With a distinct feeling of defeat in his voice, he said the one word he longed to say… her name: "Hermione." It felt wonderfully sweet on his lips. He insisted, "I call you Hermione."
Shaking her head, she replied, "No, you really don't, but that's not really the point, and I no longer care."
Holding her wrist tightly so she couldn't leave, he said, "Then what is the point, for I fail to see how any of these questions are pertinent to anything - HERMIONE."
Her eyes were now blazing and she said, "I have one last question for you, DRACO. Why did you pick my department to give the new donation to, knowing it would mean that we had to work closely together, since you apparently hate me so much?"
He let go of her wrist as if she unexpectedly burned him. His eyes flew to hers and he mumbled, "You would know all about hate, wouldn't you?" Would this never end? He had never wanted to have this type of conversation with her. Every time he rehearsed a conversation with her in his head, it never unfolded as this one had! Unrequited love was hard enough for a bloke, but unrequited love with a woman who hated a chap was beyond the pale!
She bent down to pick up her fallen folder and papers, and said, "Forget I asked. Thank you for the donation. I'll try to make sure the assistant direction deals with anything to do with it from this point on so we won't have to speak with one another."
He dropped to his knees before her, feeling so angry with himself that he wanted to break everything (sans her) in the room. Tapping his anger down so that he wouldn't betray the way she made him feel, he tried to look bored as he grabbed her wrist again.
"I never said I didn't want to be near you, did I?" he asked, pulling her to stand as he stood.
She pulled her wrist from his hand. He couldn't stand the pressing anger he saw in her eyes for a moment longer. He had to leave. There was even a faint blush tinting her cheeks, probably because he was touching her and she hated it so.
"Never mind," she replied before she stormed out the door.
He wanted to follow her. He wanted to tell her that he was a pathetic fool, and that he loved her, even if he wasn't deserving of her. He waited until she left the room, and then he decided to follow. He would tell her everything tonight, or else he would finally let all feeling for her end.
A conversation at the pub
Draco looked around the crowded pub and located her easily enough. She was sitting at the bar, squeezed between a portly man who was practically manhandling her and a buxom woman with plaits in her hair, who was singing loudly.
It was his idea of hell, except she was here. It looked like it was her idea of hell, too, because she was frowning… just as she accused him of doing earlier today.
Stepping up behind her he said to the bartender, "Beer please, whatever's on tap."
Jerking around to look at him, she spilled a bit of her beer on her lap. "What are you going here, Draco?"
"Can't a bloke come into a pub, order a beer, and enjoy…" he paused, looked up at the sign over the bar, and said, "Oktoberfest without another barrage of questions, Hermione." He almost said, 'Granger' but caught himself at the last moment.
"You're celebrating Oktoberfest?" she asked with a strange expression on her face.
"Of course." He reached around her for his beer, felt daring, so he picked up hers, and said, "Why are you here?"
"Oh… the same reason. I love bratwurst."
He almost laughed. Instead, he took her beer and moved toward a just abandoned table. If she wanted her beer she was going to have to follow him, because he decided, right then and there that he was going to tell her how her felt for her before the night was through.