"Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. You had a coffee date with Draco Malfoy?"
"Yes, Draco Malfoy. And no, it was very much not a date, and for Merlin's sake keep your voice down, Ginny!"
Hermione whipped her head to either side of the Weasleys' kitchen, but it was mercifully empty, save for her and Ginny Potter. Molly had asked the pair of them to retrieve a few extra place settings for dinner, and Hermione had leapt at the chance for some alone time with Ginny. Private conversations were such a rarity at the weekly Sunday dinners at the Burrow, and Hermione needed to talk about her strange encounter with someone not named Harry or Ron.
"But you go to a Muggle cafe. And he just sat down at your table?"
"Sort of. He stalked over in that arrogant way of his and accused me of stealing his table to spite him."
Ginny gave her a wide-eyed, searching look. "That's just so odd! Not the arrogant part, obviously, but the fact that you both visit the same place... it's weird. And that he managed a civil conversation with you."
Hermione furrowed her brow as she remembered their conversation. It had felt odd at first.
"How did he look?" Ginny's question broke through her reminiscence.
Lonely. Thin. Tired. Broken, but trying. Exactly like me.
"Lost." Hermione softly replied. Ginny nodded sympathetically.
"I can imagine. I don't think he really has anyone in his life."
Molly Weasley's shriek broke through the quiet of the kitchen, causing both women to jump and almost drop the plates in their hands.
"Honestly, I could have come and gotten these plates myself in the time it's taken you! Come on now, you two can gossip later!" She chivvied them out of the kitchen and back to the dining room.
"Sorry Mum," Ginny offered meekly as they passed.
Hermione stuck close to Ginny before they reached the rest of the group gathered. "Ginny, don't tell anyone, please. About Malfoy. I think Harry and Ron would be weird about it. And it really was nothing," she whispered.
"Of course, Hermione, I won't tell."
Ginny kept half of her promise to Hermione. As she and Harry got ready for bed that night, she told her husband about Hermione's encounter with Draco. Harry placed his glasses on the night stand and turned to his wife with a frown on his face.
"Hermione had a coffee date with Malfoy?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "No, nothing like that. They just had a sort of... reconnection over coffee, you could say. Hermione said it was actually a pleasant chat."
Harry's frown deepened. "Don't tell Ron, all right? Hermione didn't even want me to tell you."
"I won't tell Ron," Harry promised her, and intended to keep his word. As Ginny drifted off to sleep beside him, Harry was wide awake. He remembered the discretion he once promised Draco Malfoy six or so years ago, when he'd received a visitor on his door step. He'd kept his word then, and had almost forgotten all about it. Harry pushed the memory away, but couldn't help but wonder about the path Draco's life had taken since the end of the war.
It was Monday morning, and Draco was wide awake at 5:05 AM. This time however, it seemed anticipation rather than pain had woken him at this early hour. Perhaps he should adjust his routine to just a bit earlier if his body clock was getting him up at this hour? I am in control of this.
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How did it feel? It felt like he was barely holding it together. She, of all people, should shun him. Or yell at him. Curse him. Spit at him. Take out her wand and blast him off the face of the earth. It was crushing guilt and relief and confusion a...