Everything In Its Right Place

Chapter 9

Hermione had been too stunned to call out to him, to stop him from leaving. She stood in the spot where he'd left her, reeling.

Draco Malfoy had kissed her. And it had awakened something in her, a realization. She sat on the couch and cradled herself.

She had feelings for him. All the time she'd spent with him over the past year, all their talks, even all of the times that they just sat, together, quietly…

But why had he left? She knew that he did not have the same pure-blood mania as in their school days. He was even estranged from his parents because of his refusal to adhere to their archaic notions, but could he really have overcome his prejudices enough to even entertain the thought of being with her? Surely, he couldn't. It was the whisky, she thought. He could never feel anything for her.

She began to cry.

Over the next few days, Hermione debated what to do. At times she was angry, at times she was heartbroken. She thought of sending an owl, asking him to explain what happened. She thought of sending an owl, describing to him in great detail all the ways in which he was an arse. She even toyed with the idea of enlisting Ginny's opinion, but then Harry and Ron would find out, and she was not in the mood to justify her feelings to them. Besides, it was unlikely anything would come from them anyway.

She knew she would see him at Professor McGonagall's Christmas party. Perhaps she would be able to discern his feelings then. She wondered if he would speak to her. She wondered if he would even look at her.

She decided to go to the party alone, and go early. In years past, the Hogwarts professors were the first to arrive, and she thought she might have a chance to speak with Draco alone. She typically attended with Harry and Ron, but told them she wanted to stop by her parents' house first and would meet them there later.

When she arrived, all of the Hogwarts professors were there, save Draco. She was crestfallen. After a friendly but short chat, she asked Hagrid if he'd seen Draco.

"Had a couple o' students stay over the holiday. He's volunteered to watch over 'em during the party here. Wasn' too keen ter come anyhow, if yeh ask me."

Hermione tried to mask her disappointment, and mingled with the other guests. But she couldn't bear the thought of making idle chat all night with this sick feeling in her stomach, so she quietly slipped out of the door.

Her initial thought was to go home and try to put Draco-sodding-Malfoy behind her. Surely his absence was a confirmation of her fears – that he had only kissed her because he'd been drunk. But Hogwarts was so close… "Daring and bravery," she said to herself, and made her way toward the castle.

Upon entering, she was lucky enough to run into Nearly Headless Nick, who directed her towards Draco's office. She navigated her way up the Grand Staircase and to the sixth-floor corridor. His office was located next to a tapestry of Merlin. She knocked, but there was no answer. She tried the handle, but it was locked. She knew it would be warded, and didn't bother trying to open it with magic. Assuming he was out on duties, she leaned against the door to wait for his return.

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