Draco was more than halfway to the castle dungeons before he stopped in confusion. He had many questions swirling in his head, but the paramount three were: Why am I so angry?...Why do I feel like I've just had sex?...and Where's Hermione?
The green glow from the Black Lake that marked the Slytherin dorm shone in front of him and the white lights from the rest of the castle were behind him.
The last thing I remember was that boring conversation about the Secrecy Statute in Hermione's meeting. I don't remember the meeting ending, or leaving, or seeing her again.
Then why do I feel like I've... He moved his hand between his legs. No, I don't just feel like it, I actually have...so where's Hermione?
He ran his hand with exasperation through his thatch of blond hair. "Oh, no," he groaned aloud, "I didn't..."
He turned and headed up the stairs to the white lights of Hermione's room in the Gryffindor tower.
Why? he demanded of himself as he ran. No wonder I'm mad; I'm disgusted with myself.
He flew up the last carpeted stairs to reach the entrance of Gryffindor's common room.
"What do you want?" asked the Fat Lady, glaring from her gilt-framed portrait.
He panted loudly. "I have to see Hermione."
"Hmph," the painted woman said, "she told me that she didn't want to see you."
Draco dropped his head in dejection. She knows. Maybe she knows who, he deadpanned, because I don't have a bloody clue.
"Can you just tell her—"
"—Sorry," the Fat Lady said, turning away from him, "I'm not an owl."
He walked slowly down one flight of stairs after another, cursing himself as he went.
At the main corridor, he felt the breeze from the still open double oak doors, then sat down on the bottom step and produced a parchment and quill pen.
Please forgive me for whatever I've done or said tonight.
(I can't tell her I don't remember. That's just...insulting.)
I wish I could tell you why it happened, but I honestly
don't know. I just know how much I regret it and how
much I love you.
Hermione, the only other person I've ever said that to is
my mother, and I can assure you the feelings are very
(He almost erased that line, then kept it in. He wanted her to understand how important she was to him.)
I could go on for feet of parchment about my feelings
for you, but I want you to be able to read this before
you go to sleep.
I promise that I will more than make up for it if you're
able to forgive me.
Please talk to me soon. I miss you already.
He rolled up the heart-felt document, walked outside, and turned to his right, out of viewing range of the door. Draco tied the scroll to his leg, then closed his eyes in concentration, thinking majestic...flight...mission, until the transformation was complete, and he was his unregistered animagus—the great eagle owl that had delivered earlier messages to Hermione.
He quickly flew to the Gryffindor tower and into the open window of her room. There was a chatter of excitement among the other girls at the appearance of the recognized courrier, as he flew to Hermione, sitting up in her bed.
Draco could tell she'd been crying. I'm so sorry, he said again to himself, looking at her with eyes that hadn't changed their grey color.
"Do you have a message from him?" Hermione asked in an unusually cold voice.
He nodded and held out his leg for her to remove the scroll. She reached out to take it and he rubbed his head against her hand. Hermione looked at the owl in surprise.
She read through the letter and sniffed, then sighed, her shoulders drooping.
Draco still sat on her bed watching her and the light pink that touched her cheeks, careful not to snag the coverings or hurt her with his talons.
She looked at the owl, certainly the cleanest bird she'd ever seen. He seemed to smell like Draco, but maybe that was just her guilt. "Are you waiting for an answer?" Her tone was impatient.
He shook his head no and lifted off, circling once over her bed, before soaring out the window.
Hermione picked up the feather left by the animal, almost a plaid pattern in black, brown and grey, and read through the letter again. Her feeling wasn't the anger that Draco would have expected, but remorse.
It's my fault, she said to herself. All I had to do was tell him that I loved him and I couldn't.
Always a bit thick about love, she heard Ron say again.
She sighed in frustration. Why was she so reticent? Was it just because of the lukewarm relationship she'd observed in her parents? They had become increasingly distant with each other over the years, and that had affected their daughter's feelings about love and ardor.
She'd created a whirlwind romance for them when she'd concocted new memories, to give them a chance to rekindle their passion.
She remembered when she'd first found them, locked in a heady, wind-swept kiss, in front of their small house on Flinders Island. She'd cast the spell to restore their identities as Thomas and Meredith Granger, and watched as they'd pulled away from each other. She'd never seen them that close since.
Am I too cerebral, like them, to sustain real love? Draco had done so much for her, would she ultimately disappoint him?
She ran the silky owl's feather over her upper lip and under her nose, his scent seeming to emanate from the cilia. She rolled the feather in the parchment and laid them on her bedside table.
Where are my witches when I need them? she asked herself, snuffing out her candle and settling in for a fitful night.