Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in this fan fic, they belong to J.K. Rowling. She is a brilliant story teller and I am merely borrowing her characters for my own personal entertainment, and possibly for the entertainment of any readers that may come across my fiction.
Twenty-one year old Hermione Granger sat at a table alone in the back of her hometown's library. Always surrounded by books, always reading, always thirsting for more knowledge; that was the personality of this young adult, had been since she was a child. Gone was her innocence, gone was her family, gone were her best friends; curtesy of the war of her sixth year at Hogwart's School of Wizards and Witches. The once proud Gryffindor had spiraled into a deep depression. Her only enjoyment since, the thing that got her through her seventh year at Hogwart's, was reading. She could escape her loneliness by endulging into a world full of knowledge and fantasies she didn't seem to posess any longer. She had been titled "the brightest witch of her age" back when she had been eleven years old. Ten years seemed more like one thousand for the lonely girl. Her appearance was that of one whom did not care for oneself. Her bushy brown curls were tied at the nape of her neck with an elastic band, her fingernails were short, the clothing she wore was at least two sizes too big, and she wore not a stitch of makeup.
Still, he noticed her. The Hermione Granger he'd known in his six years at Hogwart's ceased to exist. Or so it would seem, judging by her outward persona. Her once soft curls of their sixth year were unkempt, still he found her attractive. Her beautiful finger nails were long no more and her womanly curves were hidden beneath those muggle rags. He watched her with an unusual amount of concentration, taking in her fading aura. She seemed to be dying before his eyes until...was that a, a smile? His curiosity peaked, what was she reading? He silently moved closer, staying hidden in any shadows he could find. He didn't want her to flee. He hadn't spoken to her in five years. The end of the war had been tough for everyone. He had lost his parents, disposed of his father himself as he turned to the light side. He'd done it for her. He had been secretly in love with her since their fourth year. He had noticed her when she had entered the first and last Yule ball. Her face had been full of life, nothing like the shell that was in front of him. The shell he had seen forming as soon as her best friends had fallen in the war with Voldemort. This smile he'd seen was probably the first since before the war. He had to know what that book was and why she smiled. He could barely read the cover; closer, he must get closer.
Hermione was unaware of the steal grey eyes upon her. She was at her favorite part of her favorite book: Peter Pan. It was the moment that Wendy gives Peter the hidden kiss that is meant only for him. And as she finished reading the last chapter, again she cried. The tears flowed like small streams in search of the ocean. These tears came every time on cue as she envisioned Harry, Ron, and Ginny as Peter. She had grown up, while they had not the privalege. Some privalege, she thought. To go on living without her loved ones. She batted at the wet intruders, I hate being a girl. She hadn't noticed the person whom was lurking behind the bookshelf adjacent to her table.
The beauty in front of Draco Malfoy began to cry, why was she crying? She's reading Peter Pan, he hadn't remembered it being sad. As if the wheels had clicked inside his head, he understood why. She's had to grow up while her best friends lay rotting in the earth of a cemetary. Her lovely brown eyes turned red, her nose as well, and that amazing smile he'd seen half an hour ago dissapated. He fought all urges to envelope her shaking body in his arms. She'd probably punch me, just as she'd done in our third year. What an ass I've been to her. He couldn't stand to see her broken.
"Granger? What have you been doing these past five years? " Draco tried to sound indifferent, though he'd been watching her from afar for the past two years. He kept his voice even, so she wouldn't detect any of his true emotions. But the reaction he received was not one he'd have ever believed. Her head shot up, she flung herself on him. He opened his arms to keep them from toppling backwards into the bookshelf he'd been concealing himself behind.
"Draco! I'm so glad to see a familiar face! How've you been?" Hermione had said his first name. He would never thought such an act possible. Her smile had returned, a smile meant only for him.
"Living in the muggle world. If you can believe that." He spoke sincerely, not an ounce of sarcasim and no insult thrown. Hermione was impressed. The pureblood Slytherin King had spoken to her as an equal.
"Please," she indicated a chair across from where she'd been seated, "join me. Tell me how you endured something so far beneath you. " Classic Granger behavior. He rolled his eyes to the heavens, but did as she'd asked. Seating himself, he began to tell her how he'd been and what he'd been doing.
"I couldn't bear being at Hogwart's without all our fallen friends." Draco watched her smile fade. Great! Make her cry as you've done so many years! He scolded himself.
"I had to finish, I've never been one to quit. I didn't do as well on my N.E.W.T.s as I hoped I would." She declared lightly. But no tears were shed. It felt good to see a face from the past, even if it was Malfoy's. But, hadn't she called him Draco? Odd, it came so naturally. She smiled weakly for the blonde boy, no man. He's a man, Hermione.
"I bet you got top score, seeing as I wasn't there. Otherwise, I'd have beaten you." Draco said playfully. He smiled for the woman reassuringly. She laughed aloud. Had that come from me? I haven't laughed in so long. Draco raised an eyebrow that prompted more laughter from the Gryffindor Queen.
"Yes, I did get top score. But I could have done better. There's always room for improvement." She looked down at her hands, suddenly aware of the disheveled mess she'd become.
Draco smiled warmly, "You can't improve on perfection, Hermione." He felt like an idiot. Why had he flirtatiously made that comment? Git. The woman blushed, and what a woman she'd become. Even under her oversized clothing, he knew the Goddess he'd known in school was present. His next mission would be to get Hermione, the old Hermione to come back.
"That's very flattering. But have you really looked at me?" She self-conciously adjusted the huge t-shirt, attempting to make herself more presentable. Why was she even worried? This was Draco Malfoy. Although, he was a hell of a lot sexier than she remembered.
As if he could tell what she was thinking, his next question came as no shock to her.
"Whose clothes are you wearing anyway? They don't do you justice." At this she simply told him honestly. She wasn't ashamed of the clothing, the articles had belonged to Ron Weasley and Harry Potter.
"Ron's shirt and Harry's pants. I feel closer to them." The last statement came out weakly. She didn't care, though. Draco nodded as if he understood.
"I have Zambini's wand, Goyle's quill, and Crabbe's favorite Quittich magazine. I have them all in a safe in my flat." Hermione sighed her relief. He hadn't thought her stupid.
"I have Ginny's diary. You know, there's a lot of stuff in there about you." Hermione giggled at Draco's dumbfounded expression. "She thought you were cute."
Draco grinned, the youngest Weasley thought I was cute? He couldn't resist, he had to know.
"What about you? Did you think me cute?" Hermione's cheeks grew crimson again. She silently shook her head side to side. Quietly replying, "no."
His grin faded momentarily before confidence filled him, "You do now. I can tell, you can be honest." Hermione blew an exasperated breath, Draco's characteristic smirk play across his thin lips. She does.
"So where's your place?" She opted to change the subject. She wants to avoid the question, that's okay, he'll play along.
"Not far from here, would you like to see it?" Draco's answer came when she stood, he did the same. She followed him out of her safe house and into the streets of downtown London, England. It was a beautiful Spring day. There was a tranquil breeze blowing. Hermione couldn't believe she was walking with her former school enemy. He seemed to have changed so much in the years passed. He was, afterall, living in the muggle world. He had left the wizard world because he couldn't bear the constant reminder of the death of his friends. Just as she had left once she'd graduated from Hogwart's. She couldn't stomach the thoughts or the memories of her dying loved ones. She'd witnessed them, just as Draco had. This common heartache made her feel as though she and Malfoy could become friends. She kept her eyes lowered, occasionally looking up so not to run into anything. A couple of stray curls were flying in the breeze as she walked. She examined her nails once more before shoving her hands into Harry's pockets.
Draco kept slowing down to allow his former school mate to catch up to him. He couldn't quite understand why she walked at least three steps behind him. Does she honestly think I'm above her?
"Granger, why not speed up a tad? It isn't much further." Draco's voice interrupted Hermione's thoughts. She finally lifted her head and decided to put a spring in her tired lengths. He wasn't demanding her, he'd asked nicely. It was hard for Hermione to get used to this mature Malfoy. He didn't glare at her, he hadn't even called her mudblood.
"Malfoy, why haven't I seen you before now?" Her question caught him offguard. He slowed a bit, then turned to face her. A shocked look greeted Hermione as Malfoy looked directly into her eyes. Something he had never done, he had always looked over her head.
Should he tell her he's been watching her? Waiting for the perfect time to talk to her? He'd seen her cry so many times in that library. Listened as she quietly murmured the names: Ron, Harry, Ginny in her mournful voice. The same voice that once had such passion, such fire before the battles. Now was severely lacking its aformed luster. Should he tell her he's seen her visit each stone, but didn't get close to her for fear he would overhear her secrets she shared only with these individual tombs? His mind was reeling, what to do? If I'm honest with her right away, she'll think me mental. No, just make up something close to the real truth; but honest just the same.
"I've seen you many times, Mione. I just didn't expect you to want to see me. Oh, here we are. Welcome to my humbled abode, dear lady." He dipped slightly in a mock bow. Hermione's puzzled look faded into another small grin.
He had made her smile even more than Pavarti had, and they were roommates. What was it about this blessing in disguise? And that's what she dubbed this mature Draco Malfoy-a blessing. Sure Pavarti was too. But she had long since given up on Hermione. I cannot blame her, I've given up on myself as well. But Draco had not given up on her, even if she didn't know it yet. He believed the light would return to her features and she would magically transform into the girl he'd fallen in love with; if only someone could return hope to this fallen angel. His angel. He unlocked the door and she walked inside, he followed closely behind her.
"Draco, I'm impressed. It's immaculant! You live alone?" He nodded. Hermione surveyed the Slytherin's residence, of course his colors were all over his home. His living room consisted of a dark green couch, deep cherry wood tables, and bookshelves lined three walls. Upon those shelves sat silver frames showing bewitched pictures of his family and friends. One of Draco on his first day of Hogwarts standing in front of the entrance doors with Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe. Another moving picture caught Hermione's eye, it was of he and Blaise Zambini hovering on their brooms outside of Malfoy Manor. The one picture that really intrigued her was one of a young Draco, no more than three, sitting upon his mother's lap in a swing in one of the many gardens around the manor.
"That one there-of me and mum. My dad actually took the picture. He didn't originally want to, but my mother pleaded with him until he gave in. You know, he didn't do that often." The last statement came out as though Draco had been in deep thought. Trying to remember if there were many more times Lucius Malfoy had given in to Narcissa. No, he finalized.
"I'm sorry, Draco. I know it must have been hard on you, to kill your own father. I feel completely unworthy to be upset about my losses. You actually had to lose him." Hermione reached out an unsteady hand for Draco as he errupted.
"He killed my mother! The only person who ever gave a damn about me! I wasn't just going to let him get away with it!" Draco apologized for his outburst, he hadn't meant anything toward her. He was relieved when she answered, though quite calmly.
"It's better to let it out, than to hold in the pain and the sorrow." He decided to go a step farther. She had done him a deeply touching favor, time to return it.
"Do you practice what you preach, Granger?" He countered, one perfect eye brow raised.
"I'm not the one who needs to practice. I live it day in and day out. The pain never goes away. So I suppose I give shitty advice." Once more she retreated into her shell, the same spark had once died again. Draco couldn't understand, didn't she want to live life?
"Mione, don't you realize you're not DEAD? Stop acting as if you were." That did it, the old spitfire girl reared her head.
"Don't call me 'Mione'! You are notmy friend! You tormented me and my real friends for six damn years! You know what? This was a mistake, I shouldn't have come here." She started walking toward the door. As she passed him, he grabbed her right arm.
"I want to be your friend. Wasn't it you whom were happy to see-what did you call it-a familiar face? Do you deny that now?" His trademark smirk was firmly in place as he spoke. His voice was not that of the condesending drawl of his youth, but a calming tone. He didn't want to upset her. Hermione pulled her arm free, the fire burning in her eyes.
"Then you need to respect my mourning. If not, leave me be." She jerked her chin in the proud Gryffindor way, sauntering now to the couch. He had broken through the dispair, if only for a moment. He then let the breath go he had been holding. He was sub-conciously wishing she would end her sorrow. It had been five years. She sat quietly until she reached for the remote to his television set. Eyebrows cocked, she quizzically looked over at him.
"You figured out how to operate muggle technology? Wow, so what happened to the pureblood who used to look down upon those people he now lives parallel to?" She was challenging him, he was enjoying the brief return of Hermione. She wanted to know for sure that he had changed. If not she wouldn't be able to call him a friend. Draco sighed and turned his body to face hers.
"I realize I treated you, Harry, Ron, and Ginny-along with all other Gryffindor-very much like dirt. I am now apologizing, I know it doesn't make up for all I've done. But it is a start, correct?" She nodded her response so he continued, "But remember what I said earlier. You are not dead, live." Hermione replied meekly, "I know I'm not. Sometimes I wish I were and sometimes I feel as if I already am." Her confession was so truthful, so full of a hopeless air. He didn't know what to say to her. He placed his left hand over her right hand, they sat in silence for only minutes. She said her goodbye and politely told him he had a nice home. She got up to leave, before he could say anything more. After Hermione had closed his door, he realized he hadn't even asked where she and Pavarti resided. He opened the door in time to catch her retreat into an alley before apparating. Too late.
She apparated into the wizard world shortly after leaving Draco. She had to go visit them. She expected they might have ben worried. One by one she conversed with the monuments belonging to the three people, aside from her parents, she loved most. Beginning with Ginny Weasley, she started her yearly ritual.
"Hey, Gin. Wow, where to start... I went to the library as always. I re-read Peter Pan, I suppose I've done so over a million times now. I saw Draco Malfoy, he was there. Funny, he seemed different. He invited me to come visit his muggle home. You heard right-muggle. He actually lives in town, not far from Pavarti and me. Wait till she hears! She'll be so jealous, we had a decent conversation. It was actaully quite refreshing. I laughed for the first time in ages, Gin. I guess I should head on next door and talk to Ron. I miss you, Ginny." Hermione dabbed at the tear escaping down her face with the oversized t-shirt, as she moved over three feet.
"Hey, Ron. I finally gave up on SPEW. You were right, the house elves don't mind servetude. I guess I could have saved myself many years of grief, if only I had listened to you. As you may have overheard, I saw Malfoy today. I would like to be his friend and put aside our bloody differences. I'm sure you disapprove, but he seems almost normal. I miss you, Ron. Time to visit Harry. See you, Weasley's." Hermione wiped another lone tear away as she walked back a few rows to Harry's resting place.
"Ah, the boy who once lived. Hello, Harry. I've been practicing my flying. Still not as good as you, may never be. But I'm learning. There is so much I would like you to know. You will never believe who is living in a muggle neighborhood! Malfoy! I saw him today while I was at my usual place. He actually was nice, scary. He even invited me to see his home. Just like a Slytherin, green and silver ever present. It was actually really nice. I suppose you could say I was delighted to see him. Mental, I know! I haven't told Pavarti yet. I will once I apparate home. You would be pleasantly shocked I think. He didn't utter one insult. Not one. Surprised? I sure as hell was. He's so mature, Harry. I guess it does make sense, he experienced exactly what I did. Maybe his was worse. He murdered his own father. It happened during your last..."she choked back a sob, "dual with the Dark Lord. Ironically, Lucius Malfoy and Voldemort fell the same moment. Then your demise came shortly afterwards. Not sure why I'm saying all this. I miss you so deeply, Harry. You three take care of each other, remember to wait for me together! I love you." Hermione's tears flowed freely as she apparated back to the muggle world. She went to the graveside of her friends once a year, sometimes more when she had a lot on her mind. The depression she'd been experiencing the past five years had been lifted only for a couple of hours. Those hours Hermione had spent with Malfoy.
Unlocking the door to hers and Pavarti's two bedroom flat, Hermione entered and tossed her key upon the small entryway's table. She hadn't gotten far into their living room when Pavarti Patil bounded up to her.
"Mione! Oh my gosh, you'll never believe whom I saw walking into the muggle music store on Pince Ave! He is even more gorgeous now than ever! Dra-" Hermione interrupted her roommate.
"Malfoy, yeah I saw him at the library. He invited me to his house. We actually talked for two hours without insulting or killing the other. It was interesting, I made a complete fool of myself. I actually hugged the ferret. But all is well now." Pavarti just stood there, mouth agape.
"You hugged Malfoy? You talked to him withcivilness? And you were wearing Ron and Harry's clothes! Hermione Jane Granger! Are you mental?" Pavarti waited for the dreary response she usually got from her friend.
"I think we both now that would be a 'yes'. Moving on. I'm not going to wear them anymore, it's time I put them in the safe with Ginny's diary." With that, she entered her bedroom. Pavarti knew she wouldn't be seeing Hermione for the rest of the night. She sighed to herself, maybe I could conjure a little spell and ask Harry's advice. It would be breaking the rules to bother the deceased. But this was a life or death situation. Hermione needs some help, by Merlin. Pavarti went to work on her spell as Hermione undoubtedly read.
Draco was still somewhat bewildered by Hermione. She had seemed so lost, with the exception of her brighter moments. He had managed to make her smile and laugh. He had even accomplished a miniscule spark to ignite in her hazel eyes, bringing a glimmer of the old Hermione back to life. How he hoped he wold succeed in returning the wonderful girl to her former lioness self. She reminded him of two beautiful creatures: outward appearances before the war-Goddess; inward persona-a brave lioness on her own for the first time. He vowed he would help her re-new the lifeblood she allowed to slip away into the darkness of a burial. He would resurrect Hermione Granger! He fell fast asleep as images and memories of Hermione flooded his mind and his senses.