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Something Worth Giving

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A flicker of Blue, a blonde mane of hair in the sun

You drink her in, a tremble travelling through your limbs

Her beauty is blinding.

 

Ron is holding your hand as you stroll through a sunny Diagon Alley with Harry and Ginny

two sets of pieces that make pairs, just as it should be

 

There’s safety in these kinds of numbers, when humans pair up in this binary manner, there’s safety walking down the street hand in hand with a boy, you think, it’s safe. No one bats an eye, only nod at you with admiration in their eyes, after all,

you saved this world.

 

As you walk hand in hand, feeling safe, you spot her from across the street

and the tremble continues. You release his hand.

Your eyes meet hers, blue against brown

You smile at her, don’t really know why, it just happens to your face: it breaks into a smile

The arch of a dark blonde eye brow is all you get back. And then you’ve passed each other.

 

“What’s Malfoy doing here?” Ron mutters under is breath.

“I don’t know,” you answer helplessly.

 

.

 

It happens the next week as well. But this time the weather isn’t at all sunny, and you’re not strolling, you’re kind of hurrying to the Leaky Cauldron because of the rain threatening in the clouds above Diagon Alley. It is summer bordering on autumn so the evening still has hints of light, but it’s mainly dull and grey 

The clouds cast a soft light on her face, pale skin and blue eyes and platinum hair becoming dull in the light of this storm

You turn the corner of the street and realise that you are heading in the same direction as her

Your hand in Ron’s feels sweaty despite the chill

And the rain begins.

You start running toward Leaky Cauldron, Harry and Ron and Ginny ahead of you already

They’re inside when you finally reach the entrance to the inn

You stop and turn around to look behind you at the wet cobbled street and see her running gracefully, even in this rain, a couple of dozen metres behind, right toward you

You hold the door and she doesn’t look up until she’s reached you

As she passes you, her scent reaches you, wet and sweet with hints of spice

“Thank you, Miss Granger.” Her voice sounds hoarse, a stark contrast to her elegant robes and smooth skin.

“You’re welcome,” you mumble, cheeks turning red.

All of a sudden, Ron’s voice: “What do you think you’re doing with my girlfriend?”

You look up, see Mrs Malfoy look at Ron as if he’s nothing more than an annoying fly.

“Mr Weasley,” she nods, tries to step past him into the pub. He lets her, reluctantly. As she walks by she turns her head quickly and your eyes meet for an echo of a second.

“What did she do, ‘Mione?” Ron says, puffing out his chest.

“Nothing, Ron. I’m tired of fighting. Good, bad, whatever. The war’s over. Let’s just… try to co-exist in peace with them, okay?”

Ron’s eyes widen.

“Whaddya mean?”

You shrug. “I don’t know. I held the door for her. That’s it. She didn’t do anything.” (She didn’t do anything, no, but maybe that’s the problem. You can still remember how you screamed as the curses flew at you at Malfoy Manor, how her sister laughed and laughed as she drew scars on your skin. You can still remember when her blue eyes, calm and shielded, met yours. How she did not hold your gaze for more than a second before you started screaming again, begging: please, stop it. She didn’t do anything but stand in the shadows and listen. But later when she came down to the basement to clean up the blood, there was a stilted, quiet sorrow in her eyes.)

The wound on your arm stings.

 

.  

 

Next time you see her, winter’s on it’s way, and you’re at Hogwarts. There’s an annual Yule Ball now, to bring the community of witches and wizards in Great Britain closer, every student allowed to invite family.  

The castle has been restored and it’s strange how a place that went through so much trauma can be repaired. Of course it’s not the same, not really: the age old magic has changed. War changes things to the very core. There’s trauma in the magic now, a hint of a vulnerability in the air of the castle. You’re not sure whether that’s something that every witch and wizard can feel, but to you it’s as clear as the wind on your skin.

 

. 

 

You’re seated next to Harry at the edge of the long table, and the room is bustling with energy and voices and life and music. And there she is, with Malfoy and the rest of the Slytherins. They seem uncomfortable, as they should be, seated in the midst of the Good, these people that were Bad.  

No Lucius Malfoy in sight, since his imprisonment.

Her long hair is in a simple pony tail and she’s wearing the closest thing to muggle clothes you’ve ever seen on anyone from Slytherin: a dress. It’s midnight blue, and reaches the floor, long and flowing, with long sleeves and a hint of cleavage. Her figure is so slender, almost thin. Too thin. But her beauty seems warm, somehow. Maybe it’s the festivities that’s affecting you. Or the fire-whiskey. Your eyes meet and you dare a small, gentle smile. This time, the arched eyebrow is accompanied by something that flickers in her eyes. She doesn’t smile, but her features seem to soften a bit, you try to tell yourself. You don’t know why you care.


.

 

The Ball continues late. The tables are magically vanished from the room as a band takes the small stages at the end of the Great Hall. It’s not like the Yule Ball in fourth year, no rock, but a soft and small jazz orchestra that plays the traditional Christmas classics. People dance, and you give Ron one before you excuse yourself to get some fresh air. And there she is, right outside the entrance to the castle. There are lights outside that dance across her face. When she sees you, she says:

“Ah, Miss Granger. We meet again.”

“Yes,” you answer, “we seem to have a strange habit of showing up at the same places.”

“You think a public ball at Hogwarts is a strange coincident.” It’s not really a question.

“I suppose not,” you answer. You can feel the fire whiskey getting to your head.

“What is strange, however, is that you’ve seen me being tortured.”

At this, she almost jumps out of her skin. She looks at you, blue eyes flickering with that something again. She does not say a thing.

“I…” you begin, and take a breath, “I did not mean to accuse you of anything. I was merely stating a fact which baffles me to be honest. It’s gives me a strange feeling when I see you across the street. The blue of your eyes.”

The blue of her eyes stare right into yours from a few feet away.

“Trauma.” She says. You nod and say, “Yes, I suppose. But I also remember the sorrow in them. Afterwards. When you looked at me. Cleaned me up.” You hold out your arm and push up the sleeve to show her the wound that is refusing to fade. Mudblood.

She frowns at it, takes two steps closer, grabs your arm on instinct to inspect the wound.

“You took good care of it, all things considered,” you mumble, feeling your pulse quicken at the skin on skin contact. But she’s frowning, dragging her fingers softly around the edges of the wound.

“Why are being so generous? You should… detest me.” She looks up at you, does not drop your arm. Her face is closer to yours than it’s ever been and it is breath-taking.

“… I’m not sure.” You give her a meek smile and this time the corners of her mouth turn upwards, quickly, before she realises and school them into their usual features.

“You’re very beautiful,” the fire-whiskey in you says and you groan out loud immediately. “Um, I did not mean to say that.”

She almost smiles now, warm and aware of her own attractiveness. There are hints of venom in that seductive smile that frightens you and excites you equally.

But a second passes and it’s replaced by fatigue. She drops your hand and your skin stings.

“I should head home.”

“Do you still live at the Manor?” you ask. You don’t know what’s giving you the courage to say all these random things. You don’t know where this curiosity comes from.

She stops, looks at you with imploring eyes, as if she’s trying to figure something out.

“No,” she says. “It’s where Lucius is under house arrest. I’m staying with Draco at our London flat.”

You nod and she walks past you, into the castle, leaving you out in the cold.

 

.

 

A hint of Blue in a sea of green, a small smile forming, a stinging wound, a betrayal, a stone for resurrections, if you could go back a year, who would you try to find first?

You wake up to the snores of Ron. You pinch him. “You’re snoring.”

He grunts. “Sorry, love.”

His sleepy voice fills you with warmth. There’s this kind of safety, too, you think. The one that’s about home. And family. Ron’s the most beautiful family you could choose to have, you think. But there are other kinds of beauty, too, you think, and her sorrowful, blue eyes flash before you in the dark.

There’s beauty.

 

.

  

Dreams can be strange. Some of them imitate reality so convincingly, it’s chilling. And some are simply bizarre. But they make you feel things nonetheless. You try to tell yourself this was just some random dream that did not mean a thing, when you wake up this early spring day. You had bumped into her somewhere and she had simply taken your hand and leaned forward, and your heart had been beating so strongly, wild and erratic in your chest. And you had wet your lips and closed the distance, and felt her soft lips against yours. A hand on her waist, some kind of twisted anchor in this soft dream. 

 

.

 

Desire floods your system, like the tides. You always thought you simply weren’t that sexual of a person, that sex wasn't that important to you. You had lost your virginity to Viktor, and he had been gentle and sweet, and apparently sexy to all the other girls, and it had been a nice experience. But nice isn’t what it’s supposed to be, right? And then you and Ron finally fell into each other and he kissed you long and hard, with so much passion, but you couldn’t quite find the same reciprocation. But you had sex, all right. Mostly when he felt like it.

 

But now, there’s a new ingredient that feeds some kind of hunger inside of you. There are so many new sensations. Women. You’re not really surprised you haven’t figured it out yet, with everything that went on in your lives from such a young age. You didn’t have time for sex or flirting or trying things out. Now, she comes to you in dreams, and you wake up sticky between your legs. It’s so new and somehow exciting. The first time you came at your own hands, in the bathtub when he was still at the Ministry, opened something inside of you that needed to breathe. But yes, there’s a man next you in bed, and it leaves you feeling hollow.

 

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A ministry party that you are both attending. You’re holding hands with Ron, as per usual, and she’s with her son, as per usual. But this time Malfoy has another girl with him, and it looks quite odd, the three of them. From a distance, you can barely see the age difference between the three.

Ron kisses you sweetly and you smile at him, pats his chest.

“I’m going to the ladies room, okay?” He nods and heads over to Harry.

You hadn’t consciously thought she’d follow you there but somehow you’re not surprised when she shows up in the ladies room.

“You’re staring a lot, Miss Granger.” She says, washing her hands.

You keep staring. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” she says, and you’re not quite sure how to interpret it. Does she want you to stare? Does she like it?

“You’re marrying the Weasley boy?” She asks it with strong tones of nonchalance.

“Well. I guess. No one has proposed yet, but we live together.”

“But you have an arrangement?” Her blue eyes, calculating and cool.

You stutter, “an… a- an arrangement?” Your heart starts beating ten times harder.

She steps closer to you, eyes cool cool and guarded, but there’s a softness to her features.

“You told me I’m beautiful.” She seems a bit confused, which is understandable. You’re just as confused.

“Yes.”

“I thought…” she seems lost in her own mind, “I suppose I thought….” She is looking at the wall behind your head. You’re almost the same height and you can feel hints of her scent around you. “Never mind what I thought. Sometimes I’m too silly for my own good.” She mutters it to herself and prepares to take a step back. Your hand reaches for her arm, grabs it. You wince at your own actions. She stays, looks at you. The shield is up.

“No. Wait. You thought right. Can’t we…” You close your eyes, revel at the feeling of her skin against yours, “Can’t we work something out?”

You open your eyes and meet hers. Now she’s smiling, but it’s almost mean.

“Work something out? What does that mean?”

“I want to get to know you,” you whisper. You caught her off guard, you can see it. Now the sorrow is back in her. It’s painfully beautiful.

She turns, and leaves.

But before the night has ended, you have managed to exchange glances with her a dozen times across the room.

  

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A month of not seeing her anywhere, and then an owl shows up in the middle of the night, out of the dark blue sky. You can hear the tap on the living room window and Ron is sleeping at your side. You hurry out of bed so as not to wake him, and find a small brown owl holding a letter. The window lets in air that is cool but starting to warm. It’s the end of April.

 

All right.  

You want to get to know me.

Meet me outside our London flat. It’s one of the connecting neighbourhoods to Diagon Alley.

Tuesday 9.PM. Draco won’t be home. Don’t tell anyone you’re coming.

NM

 

At the bottom there’s an adress.

You frown. Is she going to murder you? You almost laugh out loud. Morbid jokes aside, you vanish the letter to the depths of your wardrobe, the small box filled with items you don’t want Ron to see, and you try to go to bed. Your head’s spinning too quickly. What on earth have you gotten yourself into? That night, you dream of Ron and tears and a bird killed by lightning.

 

. 

 

As Tuesday nears, you get more nervous. What is going to happen? Are you going to… have sex? Your heart soars at the thought and you have a hard time swallowing the water you’re drinking. It’s unimaginable. She’s too beautiful for you. She’s too threatening. The uncharted territories of her skin taunt you in your mind. You want to touch her so badly. See how soft her skin is.

 

.

 

You make up an excuse of having to work late to Ron. You’re so excited to see her that you barely register the guilt that fills your chest. You’ll deal with that later.

 

 

You show up at her address at 8.55. The nights are getting warmer so you only needed to put on a light coat. Your dark brown hair is newly washed and the curls smell faintly of schampoo. You need to go to a salon and cut it, you realise as you feel how long it’s gotten. But with your hair you barely trust any wizard hair salons. You prefer to go to your usual one in Muggle London, where they smile at you and ask you how your father is, and you know they won’t fuck up your hair.

The door opens to the townhouse, London flat, yeah right, you think to yourself, and her blonde mane appears.

“Come on,” she says impatiently and you enter. The hallway is surprisingly homey. No silver green or blacks or greys, but a comfortable mix of a woodsy green and red. It oozes of luxury. She closes the door behind you.

“Your coat?” comes a murmur from behind you and you shrug out of it. She catches it with her wand and it hangs itself on the rack.

You turn around, and there she is. The hallway is dimly lit so her face is partly in shadows.

You step closer, eyes never leaving hers.

“How are you?” Such a standard yet bizarre question. She seems to think the same.

“I’m well, thank you. And you, Miss Granger?” Impeccable pureblood manners.

“I’m well. Thanks.”

Silence. She bites her lip, seemingly lost in thought and you stand there like an idiot staring.

“I’ve been thinking,” she begins and reaches out toward you, “May I?” She points at your arm. You nod and push up the sleeve to reveal the wound.

“This is very dark magic. I assume your people have tried to find a way of healing it completely?”

You nod again.

“But to no avail. They wouldn’t know how to treat this even if they had The Dark Lord himself at their side.” You shiver at the mention of Voldemort, so casual out of her mouth. She seems to be talking to herself. “But I might know how to.” She tugs and you follow.

You climb the stairs to the second floor and turn right, to be met by a spacious sitting room with windows overlooking a garden. The balcony doors are open, letting in a mild wind.

“Sit.” She points toward a sofa by the windows. The room is filled with sofas and armchairs and wooden tables and pieces of art. The walls are lined with portraits of wizards and witches and landscapes.

She brings a large, heavy (centuries old, by the looks of it) book. She sits next to you and you long for her to come closer.

She eventually finds the page she’d been looking for, and you can see the margins filled with an elegant scrawl.

“You’ve been researching?” You ask, surprised.

“Mhm.” She answers. “Don’t let it get to your head.” She does not look up, just keeps reading.

Eventually one of her hands reach out and she takes your arm. Puts the book on the table, and gives you her full attention. Cool, blue eyes. Shields so strong. A guardian of her own heart.

She traces her fingers lightly on your skin. You shiver, and your heart beats faster once again. She seems to notice, gives you a small teasing smile, and then gets a look of concentration on her face. As she begins to mutter words, you can feel the magic flow from her to you. It fills your veins, a sickly sweet feeling, like drugs. But your wound starts hurting immensely; you can feel your own heart beating in the wound itself.

You give a strangled noise and she gives you a sharp look in response. This continues for two minutes, and then she lets you go.

“Uhhh…” You grab your own arm, willing the pain to lessen.

“A glass of wine, perhaps?” She says coolly and stands up. You nod.

She comes back a minute later but she does not sit down. “The balcony.” You follow her outside and you get seated on a wooden sofa with soft cushions. She gets seated next to you and hands you the glass. The garden beneath is lovely, with a small fountain in the middle. Trees and bushes and flowers. The are is surrounded by buildings on every side, each building as beautiful as this one. So this is where the city wizard elite live. You always thought they all lived in old Manors out on the country side, like the Malfoys. You snort. They probably all have houses spread throughout the country. You look down at your arm.

“It isn’t healed.”

“It’ll take time. If you’re willing, you should come here perhaps… once a week, I should think. It’ll be painful and it’ll take time, but I should be able to heal it.” You gaze at her.

“How come you know how to heal it?”

She frowns, looks at you. “It’s complicated.”

You nod. “All right.”

You sit in silence for a while, sipping your wine.

“So. You wanted to get to know me.” She says it with an even voice.

You look at her, feel yourself blush. She gives you a small smile.

“You’re certainly wearing your heart on your sleeve.” She rolls her eyes.

"I can’t seem to help myself.”

“Is this how you seduced the Weasley boy? Somehow I doubt it.”

“I’m not trying to seduce anyone!” Your cheeks are heating up even more.

“Hmm.” She looks thoughtful. “Then what on earth is it you’re trying to do?”

You look at her, keeping her gaze. “Seduce is too cold a word. There’s so much warmth.”

Once again, you seem to have caught her off guard. She swallows loudly and for the first time you see her flustered. She drinks her wine and stays quiet. You down your glass too quickly and soon feel how your limbs feel slightly heavy. This does not feel good, this silence.

“I’m sorry if I overstepped. Perhaps I should go.” You stand up and go inside, putting the now empty glass on one of the tables. She follows you downstairs and gives you your coat. You barely dare to look at her.

“Miss Granger...” She begins as you stand inside the hallway.

“You can call me Hermione.”

“Very well. Then I suggest you call me Narcissa.”

You nod and dare to meet her gaze.

She bites her lip and takes a step closer. “Come back next week? Same time.”

You nod. “All right.”

She actually gives you a small smile, and it feels so intimate, the kind of smile she must rarely give anyone. You can’t help but smile back.

“Thank you. For healing me.”

“Don’t thank me just yet. Take care.”

The door springs open to reveal a cool and cold night. You vanish into the neighbourhood and look back quickly. She stands on the doorstep, light seemingly emanating from her very presence itself.

 

.

 

During the week, you dream and you dream. There's intensity and light touches and heavy breathing. You make sure to stay far away from Ron, physically. You can't bear mixing the feeling with action. The wrong action. You can't fuck your boyfriend while being wound up because someone else entirely. Tuesday cannot come quickly enough.

 

And suddenly, it is Tuesday.

 

.

 

This time, she immediately orders you to take a seat and begins the work of healing you. This time, the wound starts bleeding and the pain is very intense. You try not to groan or let tears slip from your eyes. Soon it's over, and she goes to find wine. She's wearing simple dark trousers and a white blouse, making her look like the Muggle version of a business woman. Her long hair, however, is hanging freely down her back. You want to pull it.

"How are you feeling? The wound."

"Um. It hurts."

She nods and takes a seat next to you on the balcony. The days are getting warmer.

As usual, you can't keep your eyes away from her. You drink her in with thirst. Soon, she notices your gaze on her.

"What are you thinking about?" She does not say it in a teasing manner. She just sounds curious.

"Oh... uh." Of course, you blush, and of course, she notices, and of course, she smiles that little smile.

"Oh. I see." She turns so she is facing you more fully. Takes a sip of wine. Swallows.

"I suppose..." She trails off, looking at you, but seeming very far away.

"What?" You say impatiently, scooting a little closer.

"It's just... you're so very young. My son's age, aren't you?"

"Well, perhaps it doesn't make much of a difference but I'm a year older than him."

She nods. "Do you know how old I am?"

You shake your head.

"38."

"You had him when you were 19?"

"Indeed I did. I was married by the age of 18."

You take some time to digest the information. So, an 18 year age difference. That's not so bad, is it? She's only almost double your age, you weirdo.

"You don't look 38." You mumble it into the cool air, and it gets you a genuine laughter ringing from her.

"Oh, darling. I may still have beauty, but I can assure you, I look 38. Perhaps you just have a weakness for slightly older women." She gives you a side-eye, seeming almost teasing.

"Slightly?" You tease back and that earns you an eye-roll and a smile. You gulp your wine.

"Merlin knows how long it's been since..."

She trails off, leaving you very curious.

"Since what?" you ask, and suddenly there's a hint of vulnerability in her blue eyes.

"Since someone touched me." (But you keep touching me, you want to say. As you heal me, you touch me, and I wish you could feel how immensely my skin wants to touch you back.)

"Oh."

"I suppose you have your Weasley boy close most of the time."

You clear your throat. "Well. It doesn't really... for me."

She seems confused at first, but then it dawns on her.

"So you only..."

"Yes."

"Then you shouldn't be with him."

"It's not that simple."

"Isn't it?" she says and there's a sharp edge to her voice now. "Wasn't this war and the outcome of it supposed to change the old ways of things? Freedom for the elves, no more pure-blood nonsense, as your people call it, no thousand year old marriage contracts. I could go on."

"What do you mean, pure-blood nonsense? It is nonsense!" You answer just as sharply, and she looks almost apologetic.

"Of course. I did not mean to offend you." She does not apologise. This is the best you'll get.

You try to calm yourself.

"Well. I suppose I shouldn't. But I do love him very deeply. I just don't want him to--"

"Touch you?"

"Mhm."

Slowly, her hand reaches for you across the small space between you, and she takes your hand gently.

"Like this?" she murmurs.

"Mhm." You swallow loudly as her hand trails up your arm to cup your cheek. She takes a big mouthful of wine, very unladylike, and puts the wineglass on the lounge table in front of you. Her hand trails down the skin on your neck. You can feel her thumb against your pulse, heavy and erratic. She stares at your neck in fascination.

"I do this to you?"

You slowly nod. Something about the prolonged touch makes you feel more courageous. You take her hand from your neck, hold it between your own. Once again, it catches her off guard. For someone so guarded and put together, she is surprisingly easy to surprise.

"How long." You say it slowly, softly.

"What?" She says and you take one of your hands and put it on her neck. You're surprised it doesn't burn. It should. She's seems so other worldly, touch shouldn't be this easy. It should be something to fight for. Something earned.

"Since someone touched you." It's barely a whisper.

"Oh." She closes her eyes, seems to revel in your touch. You're encouraged, scoot closer until you’re right next to each other.

"Too long." She sighs, opens her eyes.

You lean in and your lips meet. The kisses are oh so soft. No tongues, just lips meeting. You put a hand on her waist, just like in your dreams, and she lets a tiny noise escape her. "Mmm."

You smile against her lips. "Feel good?"

"Yes." She pulls you closer, reclines on the sofa so she's laying on it, pulling you on top of her. Your legs end up in-between hers, cores very close. One of your hands keeps you supported above her while the other slowly trails across her torso. She opens her mouth, gives your tongue access, and you groan, feeling your cheeks heat up.

You part for air and see her eyes glittering beneath you, a small smile. She seems almost smug.

"You're not seducing me, if that's what you think."

Her smile widens. "I'm not?" She puts a hand at the small of your back, with gentle pressure. "Hm. And you're certain of that?"

Your eyes close.

“Yes," you say. "And I'm not seducing you either."

Her smile is wider than you've ever seen it. "You're not? I wouldn't be so sure of that if I were you."

"I'm not," you insist. "I'm... trying to... give to you."

She stops, frowns. "Give me what?"

You frown as well. "I'm not really sure. Something worth giving, I suppose. But it's not seduction."

There's depths in her eyes now, face solemn and still. "I don't understand you at all," she says, pulls you closer so your faces are once again inches apart. "But you do have lovely eyes."

And the next fifteen minutes of the evening are spent snogging on the balcony.

Eventually, she pushes you away. "You should probably go. Draco will be home soon."

You almost ask who Draco is, that's how far gone you are.

"Yes. Of course,” you say and get up, immediately missing the heat from her body. You're about to take the wine glasses inside, but she stops you and takes your hand. "Leave them."

All the way downstairs, you kiss.

You put on your coat, push her against the closed door. "You're so fucking pretty."

Her eyes darken, perhaps because of the profanity coming out of your mouth, it is unusual for you to swear after all, or some other reason, your body against hers.

She lets your hands roam her body. You let one of your hands find her breast and gently squeeze- a moan barely escapes her lips.

"Uhhhh..." She's coming undone and to you, it's seems like the closest thing to perfection you've ever witnessed.

"Merlin," she whispers, "we have to stop this. now."

Your movements falter.

Blue, blue eyes. She cools down, cups your cheek. "Next week. I will see you next week. And remember to let the wound breathe."

And you're out the door.

 

. 

 

Three days later you pass her on your way to your office at the Ministry. She's talking to someone, or rather, that someone's talking to her and she is listening. Your eyes meet, and hers stay immensely cool. It's strange how cold she seems when out in the world. Beauty becoming ice.

 

.

 

On Sunday, you decide to tell Ron. It's a decision hastily made, which is uncharacteristic of you, but this whole ordeal feels like it's coming from some part of you you never knew existed. You can't plan this. You can just do it. You sit him down with a cup of tea. It's raining outside, fitting. You don't give him the truth, you don't know how you could, so instead you give him the closest thing to it.

"I need to be on my own for a while. Figure things out."

He is shocked, but he nods, forever filled with so much empathy. "All right, 'Mione, if that's what you need."

You nod. "I love you, never doubt that."

He nods, and you can see that he's fighting back tears.

"I wish I could explain more. But... I don't really know what to say yet. Just believe me when I say that I love you and that I will come back to explain."

He watches you take the bag you packed, and he's still watching when you apparate to Harry and Ginny's.

 

. 

 

Ginny hugs you and Harry makes you tea, and they don't ask questions. Not yet.

 

.

 

On Tuesday evening, she opens the door and the first words out of your mouth are: "I left him."

She ushers you inside, closes the door, takes a deep breath. Doesn't offer to take your coat. Instead she says: "Why are you telling me this?" Endless ice sippers from the cracks.

"Um."

"Why do you think it has anything to do with me?" she says and her voice is too cold, too much like the woman you thought she was before. Before she touched you, tried to heal you.

As your heart sinks in your chest, the implications dawn on you. "Oh. I didn't do it for you."

Her eyes are sharp. "Then why are you telling me? You must understand how it looks from my perspective. We have barely even talked about what happened last week and here you show up, telling me you left him, that boy that you're with, as if you'e expecting--" She's rambling, unusual for her and not her strongest suit, so you interrupt her by exclaiming:

"I'm gay." It's the first time you say it to anyone, and it feels right and wrong and everything in-between.

She freezes.

"I didn't leave him because of you, I left him because I'm gay. So please stop panicking. I don't expect anything from you. Except for your help, perhaps. With the wound." You glance down at your arm and then up at her. Her head is bowed down, almost as if she is... ashamed. She swallows, meets your gaze.

"All right."

You follow her upstairs. Her magic feels warm, still, your wound bleeds heavily, and she wipes away the blood, touches you oh so carefully.

"Where are you staying then?"

"With Harry and Ginny."

She nods.

"Care for something stronger this time? Whiskey?"

You nod and head out to the balcony. Soon, she's back with two glasses.

"So... should we talk about what happened last week?" You ask as she sits down next to you.

"I don't know." She sounds defeated.

Silence, trees rustling in the wind, the neighbours voices through an open window.

"You're... I think you're lovely, Hermione. But leaving a partner isn't a simple thing. And realising your sexual orientation, that's something else entirely. And I believe you when you say it has nothing to do with me, but surely these events are connected in some ways. I'm not sure... it's a very good idea for us to continue what happened last week."

Humiliation burns your veins. You down the whiskey and stand up. "All right. I better leave then."

You can feel the tears threaten to fall as you descend the stairs. She's running behind you.

"Hermione, please stop."

You stop but don't turn around.

"Come back next week. Your arm needs to be healed."

You turn around, feeling the anger in your body. How dare she. How dare she seem like she cares. How can she flicker so quickly from one feeling to the other? What is going through her head?

"How can I even trust that it is healing? I bleed and I bleed. Maybe you're just making it worse."

And this hits some spot deep inside of Narcissa, because her eyes dark blue, filling with tears.

"If there is one thing you can trust, it's that I'm trying to heal your wound."

You turn around and slam the door in her face.

 

.

 

You feel like you're falling apart. You left Ron and you screamed at Narcissa, and she doesn't want you. How can she not want this warmth that courses between the two of you? You stay at Ginny’s and Harry’s and barely have the energy to go to work during the weeks. The weekends are spent out alone, at the countryside. You don’t go back on Tuesdays. You don’t do anything really, but try to stop your own feelings from feeling so overwhelming.

 

. 

 

You bump into her once, almost knocking her to the ground. You’re in a hurry to get home from the ministry and she’s hurrying too. You bump into her and immediately there’s a reminder: her scent. You close your eyes. Turn around. You don’t even dare look at her.

 

.

 

You fall into a routine with yourself. Spend time on your own, visit your parents, get the haircut. You still haven’t spoken to Ron, and now it’s been weeks. Ginny supports you the best she can, without pushing for too much information, but one night it simply comes out of you, bubbling:

“Ginny. I think. Or I know I’m gay.”

And she nods. Gives you a hug. Gives you a smile. Can it really be that simple?

“So. Any witches I should know about?”

Yes.

So you tell her about Narcissa. And a weight is lifted off your shoulders. You suddenly feel less alone. Ginny pushes up your sleeve, looks at the wound. It had gotten better during the three sessions with Narcissa, but now, after weeks of neglect, it almost looks worse.

“Hermione. You should go back to her. Let her heal this. It’s starting to fester.”

You look down again and feel like puking. You close you eyes. Nod. Go for a short walk.

 

.

 

You decide not to warn her. She’ll just have to deal with it. So on a warm Tuesday evening in the middle of June, you find yourself outside the townhouse once again. You knock hesitantly and a

minute later the door opens. She looks excited, and when she sees you her eyes become big.

“Come inside,” she says, ushers you inside, a hand on the small of your back, eyes open, cheeks almost flushed. Had she been working out or something?

“I had to run down three sets of stairs.”  

You’re not wearing a coat this time. You frown, realising you’ve only ever ascended one set of stairs in this house. You realise you’ve never seen her bedroom. You will the thought away, quickly, and push up your sleeve. She takes one look at it, frowns and heads upstairs.

You get seated on the balcony immediately, mild wind against your face. She spends ten minutes on the wound this time.

“This looks worse than I thought it would.”

“How come? Before you touched it, it just stayed the same. Now it’s starting to fester.”

She frowns at you. “Magic is more complex than any of us can ever grasp. It must have sensed a change.”

A change, you think silently. Like me starting to fall for you.

She looks at you. “How have you been?”

“Um. All right, I guess. I broke it off with Ron, but you already know that. I’ve been staying at Ginny’s. I work and I spend time outside. That’s about it really. You?”

“Same old.” All the answers contain too much air. “Thanks for asking. Wine?”

“Why the fuck not?” You answer, and her eyes widen. You’ve lost any appetite you had for manners weeks ago.

She brings out two glasses, sits down next to you, looks up at the sky.

A long silence before she opens her mouth.

“I wanted to apologise for being so harsh.”

You can see from miles away that she is a person that seldom apologises, sees it for what it is, an effort.

“Apology accepted.”

“Still think I’m beautiful?” She mutters it, and she looks at you with something akin to insecurity.

You hold her gaze.

“More than ever.” It’s the truth and you have no energy to deny it. She’s stunning in these thin robes that flow in the wind, blonde hair in a twist, stunning with an apology tumbling from her lips.

“I just need to ask you one thing,” you continue. “Why do you want to help me heal this wound. Why?”

She looks you straight in the eye, answers immediately, like she’s practiced this response, like she’s thought about it long and hard to try to come up with an answer, like she’s entirely convinced of it:

“I want to. It’s simply… something worth giving.”

When you’re about to leave, she leans in, and you give her a soft, quick kiss.

 

.

 

Once you open your eyes to the beauty of women, it’s everywhere. On the London street, in the coffeeshop, at the ministry. In books, in magazines, in the way someone moves. You cannot comprehend how you didn’t notice before. Which is why, at the annual summer holiday Ministry mix, you suddenly realise that someone is flirting with you. You don’t know her, but she looks to be about your age, perhaps a couple of years older. She’s got dark, short hair, green eyes. And she is looking at you. And looking and looking. You look right back, give her a small smile. And from across the room, one Narcissa Malfoy watches you with hawk-like eyes. You like the feeling of it. Her seeing you flirt with someone else. Go home with someone else. So that’s what you do. You flirt shamelessly with the girl who’s name is Andrea and then you go home with her.

And you have sex. It may not feel half as intense as when Narcissa even takes your hand, but it feels so right.

You spend the entire weekend with Andrea, fucking, sleeping, laughing, kissing. It makes your heavy heart feel lighter. Like, maybe there’s a way through this, a road that’s leading somewhere lovely. As you leave on Sunday evening, she pulls you in.

“I’ll send you an owl?” A kiss.

“Yes.”

  

.

 

This time, when you’re at Narcissa’s, you end up snogging again. It is clear from the start: she is trying hard, a little bit of lipstick, a hand too long on your arm. She heals you, and the wound is actually, slowly, securely, starting to scar. Then she kisses you. You kiss her back and decide that you want to be in charge, looming above her on the sofa. Her beauty still baffles you, that feminine energy that invades your senses. You don’t know if she ever did break your heart or if she’s mending it now or if you’ve lost all traces of sincerity in your touches. Now, they just feel heated.

“That girl,” She begins in-between kisses and you try to shut her up by kissing her even harder. She is relentless. “That girl, are you—“ She gasps when you bite her neck.

“None of your business.” You put a hand on her breast, massaging it softly, a contrast to your heavy kisses, teeth against lips. She almost moans.

She sits up, suddenly, pushes you to the side so you fall onto the sofa. And then, she straddles you. You almost faint. Her weight on you is the most delicious feeling you’ve ever felt. Trapped in-between her legs, underneath her body, her hands tracing your body. She looks down at you. She knows what she’s doing, what effect she has on you. How easily her touches make you melt. That seductive smile appears again.

“She make you feel like I do?” She whispers it, leans down to give you a kiss.

“She makes me feel a hundred times more,” you manage to say through gritted teeth. She’s kissing your neck and it feels like heaven.

“Oh my,” she sits up again, “let’s not be petty.”

And she takes off her top to reveal lace. Round breasts in black lace. Now you actually think you fainted for a second. When you look up again she has a hand on your cheek, concern in her eyes.

“Are you all right?”

You nod, put your hand on her waist, try to sit up. And you get lost in her. You lose your shirt and her bra is half way off when she finally says: “Bedroom.”

You couldn’t get up quicker to follow her upstairs even if someone threatened to burn you alive.

Seeing her laid bare for you, miles and miles of skin, with that hint of something vulnerable in her eyes, that hint that she tries so hard to hide, seeing her like this on the big bed, makes you slow down. Take your time. You will your touches to be softer.

Something you never dared to even dream of happens: you spend the night. Neither of you sleep much. You alternate between dozing off and waking up, limbs tangled, sheets smelling of sweat and sex. For the third time, you both wake, her blue eyes finding yours immediately, and you once again let your hands find their way to the junction in-between her legs. She’s still wet. As you enter her, she gives out a soft, lovely moan.

You wake up to the scent of coffee, the sound of a cup against wood. A gentle hand trailing down your arm.

“Wake up,” she says and brushes your curls out of your face. You open your eyes to the breathtaking sight of her, in only a thin robe, by the side of the bed. Long hair messy and dirty.

“What time’s it?” You groan, close your eyes again.

“Seven. When do you start work?”

“Eight.”

“Oh.”

You crack open an eye. “It’s strange that I don’t know what you do.”

“Mostly volunteer work. At the ministry. It helps having someone from the other side when rebuilding institutions and offices that were run by… my people.”

“Does your… husband know this?” You’re too curious for your own good, you can sense it, when she tenses. “Sorry,” you say immediately. You need to remember how firm her boundaries always seem to be.

She shakes her head, looks down at the cup on the nightstand.

“How do you take your coffee? With milk?”

You nod and with a wave of her hand, the coffee turns caramel coloured.

“Thanks.” You accept the cup and drink greedily from it, not caring how scolding hot it may be. It isn’t, it’s hot, but manageable. You look up to find her looking at you.

“What?”

“You slurp.”

“Mhm. Deal with it.”

She rolls her eyes at you, stands up and stretches, putting her arms above her head. She looks like a cat awoken from deep slumber. She notices you staring, leans down so her face is level with yours where you’re sitting on the bed.

She kisses you. “Mmmm. I like this coffee to milk ratio.”

You can only think to kiss her back, kiss her more, open your mouth. She breathes into you, sighs, parts from you.

“I’m going to take a shower. Care to join me?”

When you’re both clean and dressed and have eaten breakfast, you head downstairs. She’s not due at the Ministry until in the afternoon so she’s basically just seeing you off, like the good hostess she is. You can sense her uncertainty, how maybe she doesn't know how to be around you right now. Maybe she’s embarrassed. You don’t know.

“Hey.” You put your finger under her chin. “Will I see you again?”

She gives you a hint of a smile, and her facial expression confirms to you that the mask that the world sees is slowly being put on again to face another day in this life.

“Yes.” It is a simple answer. “Now go. You’ll be late.” She does not lean forward to kiss you, but there’s affection in the playful way she pushes you out the door.

 

.

 

Four days later, you’re in bed again, and she says a few words under her breath that almost make your heart stop. It’s whispered like an after-thought, like maybe she thought you might not catch it:

“I can’t stop thinking of you.”

You stop and she realises what she’s said, eyes widening. You smile.

“You’re not used to showing yourself vulnerable, are you?” You lay a hand on her hair, as you prop yourself on your elbow beside her.

The venomous look she throws your way gives you the answer. You kiss her cheek.

“I can’t stop thinking of you either, but that’s not a huge surprise to either of us, now, is it?” You both chuckle softly.

“But you’re going to have to try to open up to the possibility of vulnerability from time to time when you’re with me, all right?” You try to sound as gentle as possible.

She nods, grips your hand hard, like you’re the anchor.

 

.

 

One week later, you finally find a new place to live. You move your things out of the apartment you and Ron used to share and you still haven’t really told him what’s going on. But it doesn’t seem like he’s very interested in knowing anymore.

“We’ll figure out how to be around each other, eventually, don’t you think?” he says and gives you a small, sad smile.

You nod, “Of course, Ron. See you at Harry’s birthday party.”

 

. 

 

Three weeks later, and the wound has turned into a scar. You can barely believe how quickly it healed toward the end. For the first time in almost two years, you don’t feel like you’re carrying something heavy and twisted in your flesh.

 

.

 

You keep seeing Andrea for a while but as you find yourself at Narcissa's more often than not, you realise you need to end it. Andrea gives you a smile, stands up, dignity in her spine:

"All right. Thanks for your honesty.”

When she says so, you realise Ron deserves honesty too.

 

. 

 

So you ask him to meet you for a coffee and he agrees.

You get seated across from each other in a small café in Diagon Alley. You have taken one of the tables in the back, to avoid people staring and listening in.

"Ron," you say softly, "I fancy women. That's it. And I'm sorry I haven't told you earlier but I didn't even know it myself. Until a couple of months ago. I broke up with you immediately because I knew I couldn't stay with you and lie to you like that. But I couldn't tell you until now. I hope you can understand that."

He nods. "Blimey." Takes a sip of his coffee.

He does not ask the typical fragile male kind of question: "is it because of me", which you had dreaded, and it is a pleasant surprise.

"All right?"

"Yep. I'm uh... seeing someone." He says it and you freeze. Already? You try to remind yourself you're kind of seeing someone too. Swallow down the irrational anger.

That's when he notices the scar on your arm.

"Your wound! It's healed! But how?" His mouth hangs up as he grabs your arm, looking at it in awe. "The magic was so dark, there's no way..."

You smile a tense smile. "Yeah. It's healed. It's kind of complicated... but it is healed."

 

 

You don’t think healing and loving can be seen as interchangeable, but you can’t help but wonder whether the pace at which the wound suddenly healed was affected by your proximity to her. The way you started touching each other. Softly and gently. The body remembers and feels.

When you ask her, a week later, she finally agrees to give you a sort of explanation.

"Can't you tell me? I know it's hard for you to share things but I need to know why and how you managed to heal it."

She nods, swallows, looks at the wall. "It was indeed a very dark curse that my dear sister cast on your wound. And for a dark curse to be broken, one needs a dark witch."

You gape at her. Of course, yes, after all she's done and been through, she is a dark witch but throughout the war you always got the impression that she didn't really participate much in the work of the Death Eaters. She stood by and watched, silent and afraid, blue eyes across the room at Malfoy Manor. She cleaned up and held her tongue.

"But in order to make something heal --Authentically heal, I mean, you need light magic. And… believe it or not… I have that too. It's strange, really," she says looks at you with an astonished look on her face, "For a long time, I thought I didn't have any light left. For years and years the horrible things I witnessed and lived suffocated everything that felt good for me. But then.. I had Draco. And I really think that's what saved me. It saved me from the madness that Bellatrix fell into. It saved me from the cruelty that only grew within Lucius as he was continuously ordered to perform acts of extreme cruelty. It was in my very bones, my love for my son. So, it stayed with me. Weak and tortured, yes, but there was still love. And I met you -- I'm not saying that I love you," she gives you a sharp look, "but... healing in itself can be an act of love."

You don't smile at her. "Okay. Then I know."

You don’t know if this is love. There is so much left to uncover. But you remember what you said to her, that it’s something worth giving, and just like with the healing wound, perhaps the giving eventually can turn into loving.

  

 

.

 

 

.FIN.