Thursday, 18 August 2011
He couldn’t take advantage of her any longer he decided. He could not keep fleeing Hermione’s cold shoulder for Pansy’s safe warmth, especially not when he could see, if he was honest with himself, the look in Pansy’s eyes when he knocked on her door. He was all too aware of the significance of that look, the one which bore into him, and filled him with regret and guilt. He was aware because it was the way he looked at Hermione whenever they shared a class or whenever he saw her in the hallway and, if he wasn’t mistaken, it was the same way Hermione looked back at him, when she thought he wasn’t looking.
Yes, he would stay away from her for a while, put a bit more distance between them so that, hopefully, she would get the message that he did not wish to be any more than her friend.
Having made this promise to himself, he couldn’t have been more frustrated at leaving the bedroom and being confronted by Pansy sat in the armchair of the common room, on her own with a book. He fought back the sigh which he could feel bubbling in his throat.
“Draco! Hi!” she said, putting her book down way too fast and standing up even faster. “I hoped you’d be around, I was hoping we could do something, go out for dinner or something?”
What to do? She had caught him totally off-guard, without a response or an excuse to get out of going with her. Such was his confusion in the moment that he found himself uttering the words ‘Okay, sure’, before he even had time to think about everything he had promised himself.
“Great! Just wait here while I go and grab my bag” she beamed as she turned and ran out the door towards the girls’ dormitories.
Once she had left, Draco sat down on the armchair she had just vacated, put his head in his hands and thought ‘you idiot, Draco.’
She needed to stop running away from him, thought Hermione. There was a reason Monday night had happened and she knew it, but that didn’t make it any easier to accept; it didn’t make the situation she now found herself in any easier to resolve. To her relief, Harry had invited her to go with him and Ron to Hogsmeade for some Christmas shopping that evening, which meant that it would be easier for her to try and block out all her thoughts of Malfoy which otherwise plagued her every day.
She stepped outside into the courtyard, pulling her thick cardigan around her shoulders, her purse slipping from its pocket onto the ground as she did so. As she stood back up having retrieved it, she caught sight of two silhouettes walking shoulder to shoulder across the grass in the middle of the square. She knew even before they had reached the glow of the lamplight exactly who they were. She knew the pale blond of his hair, knew the way it fell around his eyes. As they moved into the area which was illuminated, her eyes confirmed what her brain had already figured out; Draco Malfoy was on a date with Pansy Parkinson. She should be happy; he would leave her alone now. There would be no more ambushes in the corridors, no more awkward glances in class, no more episodes in which he stood there struggling to find the words to say, while she grasped around in her head for an excuse to bury her head in the sand. She should be happy; instead, she felt as though someone had hold of her throat with strong hands, whilst a vice pressed heavily on either side of her chest. Do not cry she told herself. It will not help anything to cry.
She knew she should look away, to continue walking, but somehow she could not tear her eyes away from watching him, and she was still watching him as he looked up and saw her.
His eyes connected with hers and then everything felt as though it were in slow motion; everything around them fell away until it was only the two of them, holding each other’s gaze; both of them knowing they should not care, but neither of them able to break this eye contact. Hermione’s mouth unconsciously fell open slightly and, but for the lack of tears, her face gave every impression that she was in pain.
Then, to her anger, she felt herself let go of the purse she was still holding, forcing her to bend down to pick it back up again, her face burning scarlet hot with the embarrassment she felt at this display of emotions. She went to stand up and, in the same swift motion, continue walking the way she had been before he had appeared. However, her hurried feet and racing mind caused her to lose her footing, and she tripped, falling forwards for what seemed to her like forever. She squeezed her eyes closed; bracing herself for the impact of hitting the ground, which she finally did; her head colliding with the corner of the concrete wall which surrounded the flowerbeds.
The next hours were a blur, transitioning between the seemingly endless blackness and the painful moments of consciousness. The first of the few memories she had were the moments almost immediately following the fall; through the blurred vision caused by the impact, she could make out Draco’s face, so close to hers. Though she couldn’t be certain, she thought she could see a look of absolute worry, almost to the point of pain, etched on his face. Despite her body feeling numb and cold, she could feel a circle of warmth radiating on her cheek where Draco’s hand was stroking it with the gentlest of touches. She could see his mouth moving, knew he was speaking to her, but her brain would not let her hear, although she wanted so desperately to hear his voice. Then, she sunk back into the darkness again and, for a length of time she could not discern, she lay in the pitch black, only registering certain sounds, muted voices and the occasional touch of someone’s hand.