Chapter 9 – Secrets
When Hermione woke up the next morning, lying sleepily on her back, staring up in the ceiling and trying to remember why she felt so good. And then the memories made their way back to her. The late night in the office, the spontaneous walk outside, the stars. The kiss. She started to smile, and then she realised what time it was.
Jumping out of bed she started to dress as quickly as she could. If she run she might be able to gulp down a coffee before first class. Hurrying for the Great Hall with her books in her arms she tried to scold herself for being up half the night, but she couldn't get herself to care. What did lack of sleep meant next to the blissful happenings of yesterday?
Upon entering the Great Hall she thought it must be visible on her what had happened last night, but no one stopped and pointed, so she smiled at her imagination and started to scan the tables. First she checked the Gryffindor table, and soon enough she found Harry and Ron. While she was hurrying their way she started to look for a certain blonde at the Slytherin table, but came up empty. With a frown she checked again, but still none. Maybe he was even more late than her? Or he was early? Parkinson wasn't there either and they always sat together. Not getting to see him was a small setback, but nothing could kill her mood today. They had all the time in the world.
She flopped down opposite her friends, greeting them with a brilliant smile.
"Now this is something I never thought I would see. Hermione Granger oversleeping." Harry grinned at her. "But you seem to be having a good morning."
Still smiling she poured herself a cup of coffee. "Yes, it's the start to a wonderful day, don't you think?" She looked at Ron, but he didn't look like he was having a good morning. With a sting of bad conscience she saw his tired face and gave him an apologetic smile.
"I'll go to class, see you there." Ron quickly stood up and hurried out of the hall.
"See you..." The sad smile was back when he looked at Hermione. "He still can't handle it every single day. And you better hurry, we're late. We can't have the mentor coming late, can we?" He winked at her.
"I know, I'm sorry." While standing up she emptied the cup. "Should we go?"
They hurried out of the Great Hall and stopped outside.
"Lunch together before Transfiguration? All four of us?" Harry wore a smile now only having a hint of sadness. "Who knows, Ron might even talk to you."
"It seems great." She smiled back, turned, and had to almost run to make it to her class in time.
Hermione saw the Slytherins the period before lunch, but Draco just smiled and nodded to her. After class he mouthed a 'Later' to her, and before she could catch him he and Theo Nott had disappeared among the other students.
Lunch could have been better. Ron was sulkily staring down in his food, and Ginny was chilly at best.
"I've heard that you're not so concerned about your studies any more." She turned to Hermione with a frosty smile.
" I am? I don't follow."
"Well at least you seem to have better things to do than to study. What did you say Ron?"
"What are you talking about?" Harry looked between his girlfriend and his two other friends, a crinkle between his eyebrows.
"Oh, she haven't told you?" The cold smile was in place when she turned to Hermione again. "You're not ashamed of your behaviour, are you?"
This had to be about her walk with Draco, Ron must have told her. Ginny obviously tried to provoke her, and for a second she felt her mood falter. But then she straightened her back, and with a wry smile she shot a glance at Ginny and then found the blond head at the Slytherin table. He was sitting with his back to her, but just seeing him reminded her of the night, the chilly air and the closeness between them. Suddenly she was back in her blissful mood and turned to Harry with a big smile.
"I was taking a walk tonight. Um... pretty late, actually. You could see the stars and it was really nice to get some some air, finally." She knew that her happiness must be radiating around her now.
"But you weren't alone." The younger girl had a sulky look too now.
Harry put a hand in front of his face, but couldn't hide his amused expression. "Let me guess, you were on a late night stroll with Malfoy." He took away the hand and looked at Hermione, obviously not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.
"Yes, so what? What's so bad about that?"
"It's irresponsible." For the first time Ron spoke up. "You never know what he could have done to you."
Now she couldn't hold it back any more, and an amused giggle escaped her. "No, you're right I couldn't. But you're so silly all of you, so silly that half of it would be enough."
Ginny shook her head in disgust. "We're trying to help here."
"Yes, and I appreciate that. But you don't have to, really." It was pretty obvious that it wasn't helping that was on Ginny's agenda right now, but Hermione wasn't in the mood to take the confrontation. If Ginny wanted to bitch – let her. She shot another look over at the Slytherin table, and couldn't help a slightly nervous smile. If they objected to her friendship with Draco, what would they say about this?
"Should we just summarise this with that the three of us think that Hermione has lost her mind and is acting in a really stupid way. But it is kind of obvious that she isn't susceptible to our worries though, so maybe we should just talk about something else?" As usual Harry went in the middle to pour oil on the troubled waters.
It was silent for a minute before Ginny started to talk again, this time with a softer voice.
"I'm sorry, I just really don't like Malfoy. I can't understand why you're doing this, and I admit that I feel almost personally insulted by it. How you can spend so much time with him after what he has done... it's offending in some way." She made a face. "That's why, not because I'm trying to be mean or anything."
Hermione looked at her with an amused smile. Another day she might have gotten irritated, but today it felt like such a small thing. And it probably was some kind of an excuse after all.
"I know. I understand how you feel, but I've made up my mind. We're on a collision course here, and we just have to find some way to handle it." Her eyes found Draco's back again, and a flight of butterflies started to move in her stomach. The smile wasn't stoppable.
"You seem awfully sure of yourself and your opinions." Ron stood up. "Ginny, are you coming?" The both of them left the table and soon disappeared among the students.
The sad smile was back, and Harry observed Hermione with a pensive look. "You just can't keep away from him, can you?"
"Do I have to?"
"It would make things a lot easier with your old friends. Don't forget about us."
She run her hand through her hair with a carefree smile. "You don't seem to have that much of a problem with it?"
"That's because I don't want to lose you. I still think that he is an execrable scum, and that he is out to hurt you in some way. Though I have to admit that he has good patience."
"I guess time will tell who's right, won't it?" With a dazzling smile she stood up. "Maybe we should go to class too?"
"Sure. I hope you want to sit next to me, because I really couldn't figure out my homework." He winked at her.
They were going slowly through the corridors, they still had a good amount of time before class started. It was nice to spend time together. There were some joking and teasing, and Harry gave her a moderate push. She stumbled and bumped into a girl coming the other way. Both of them dropped their books.
"Hey, watch where you're going, idiot!"
Hermione, who had started to reach for her books, looked up and realised that the girl was Parkinson. She had just been about to apologise, but the words froze in her mouth.
"What, you can't even..." Parkinson noticed Harry and first fell silent, but then tossed her head and got a hard face. She picked up her books and stared at Hermione. "You can't even walk among other people, no surprise that you can't keep a boyfriend." There was whispers and giggles from the group behind her.
"What does that matter to you?" Her face was just as hard as Parkinson's.
"Matter to me? Not really. All I'm doing is pointing out how utterly plain and unwanted you are."
Parkinson obviously didn't know. This was pretty fun. "I can't see you having a boyfriend either, so maybe you should be quiet?"
There was a mean little laughter before she answered. "But I do have a boyfriend, you honestly didn't know?" She looked around at her group of people, creating more giggles and sneering to Hermione. "Everyone knew that Draco and I would be a couple, we've been getting there for years. Well, you won't hear us talk about it, but it is pretty obvious. I can't believe you've missed it. You're supposed to be clever after all."
The world just stopped. It was like the floor suddenly had disappeared under her feet, as if Parkinson had hit her in the face. There wasn't much energy left after that, but whatever she had she used to keep a composed outside. No one would know how much that hurt or be able to guess what she was thinking. With great effort she tossed her head too, and looked as condescending as she could manage.
"Whatever. I don't need to prove myself to you." She turned to Harry and tilted her head. "Let's go, should we?" She could hear the sneering and laughter behind her when they walked away, but she couldn't care less. Her mind was already focused somewhere else. On someone else.
o O o
How Hermione got herself through the rest of the day was an enigma. The classes were all a blur, she only handled it since she had read everything earlier. In some way she managed to smile and small talk through the day, and then finally evade the invitations to the common room, instead heading straight for her bed. She needed to be alone right now, she couldn't hold up the mask of indifference any longer. After getting ready for the night she climbed up on the bed and closed the curtains, and with a lump in her throat she crawled into bed.
Now she was alone with her thoughts, finally.
He didn't mean anything with it. To her it meant the world, and to him it meant nothing. It was just whim, for fun. All her dreams were broken, lying at her feet, crushed to pieces. There was no 'they', it had just been her imagination, encouraged by a delusion, initiated by that beautiful blond boy and his single kiss. Her inside hurt so much that she wanted to scream, but her cheeks were dry. She just couldn't cry, it was still so fresh, so new. In her head she could hear Parkinson's little laugh, all the malice in it, and how dismissive she had spoken the words that would break her. 'Everyone knew that Draco and I would be a couple' Yes, everything had pointed at that, but she thought... 'it is pretty obvious' Yes again, it actually was. The way they always were together, how close they seemed to be, and, if she should be honest, how much Draco talked about her. Once again, she had been so blind, only seeing what she wanted to see.
And then there was this tiny thorn of suspicion, never leaving her alone. Had he done it on purpose? Had he been playing her, everything building up to letting her down? In that case, how far had he planned for it to go if not Parkinson had intervened? She did say that they usually not talked about their relationship, so he would have been pretty safe if it wasn't for her clumsy bump into the other girl. The other girl. A raging jealousy suddenly blazed up inside her. That stupid, ugly girl was allowed to be by his side, talking to him, holding him. It was so unfair. She wanted to be the one who was there for him, the one he could talk to, the one he could come to after a long day and find solace in. She tried to swallow down the lump in her throat, she honestly had believed she was. How presumptuous of her.
But there also was a wild spark of hope. What if he really meant it? What if he was tired of Parkinson and wanted her instead? The hope quickly died down though. If he didn't want to be with Parkinson he shouldn't be. So much had she learned about him these months, he wouldn't stand something out just because he was supposed to any more. If he was with her, he was it because he wanted to. And that left her very much alone.
She could feel that some part of her was going to get angry. Angry at the unfairness, at Parkinson, at the deceitful kiss, at Draco, and at herself. But right now she was to tired, too much hurting. All she could do was staring in the ceiling and try to take one breath after the other. She wanted to sleep, to get away from it all, but her eyes was wide open and not at all tired. At least no one would know of this, no one would be aware of her foolishness. Well, Draco would probably figure it out, but who knew, maybe he was anticipating it. She would not see him any more, that was for sure. She just couldn't stand it. They still had to have their mentor classes together, but she really didn't have to talk to him then. It should be doable.
What would he think? Would Parkinson tell him about their meeting in the corridor? Or would he just think that things would be the same as it had been? No, not even he could believe that things could be unchanged after that kiss. Even if he didn't mean anything with it. Of course he didn't mean anything with it. She just wished so hard that it would have meant the same to him as it did to her. Well, she couldn't be sure about many things when it came to the kiss, but that was one thing. It had definitely not meant the same to him as it did to her. For her it had been a slightly opened door to heaven, and for him... A pastime? A game? An amusement?
She turned around and hid her face in the pillow, the thoughts kept going round and round in her head. After some time she could hear a scratching on the curtain and a hushed voice.
"Hermione? Are you awake?" Ginny. She didn't answer. "You just looked a little sombre today, if you want to talk there's no one here right now." She still didn't answer, and after a couple of moments she could hear the other girl leave the room.
Ginny still counted herself as a friend, enough to search Hermione out when she was sad. It was a small ray of light in the darkness. And now... Well, Ginny's biggest problem with Hermione still was her friendship with Draco, so maybe now they could go back to where they were close friends again. Because her friendship with Draco was irrevocably over.
As far as she was concerned, Draco Malfoy was out of her life. And now, finally, the tears came. Eventually she cried herself to sleep.
o O o
The next morning Hermione woke up with a heavy head, far too early. Lying in her bed she continued last night's thoughts, and she decided to get up and get some work done rather than start that all over again. Quietly she dressed and got her things. Down in the common room she headed for one of the armchairs at the fire, kicked off her shoes and curled up in the chair with her book. Soon it became evident that she did very little reading and a lot of staring into the depths of the hearth instead. However much she tried to stop her mind, it kept conjuring pictures of Draco. His face, his body, how he walked, the way he turned to her and smiled. After some time she got interrupted by steps behind her. Soon a head stuck out around the back of the chair and Harry's face came into view.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" He gestured towards the other chair. When she just stared at him he sat down. "Bad morning?"
"What in Merlin's name are you doing up at this time?"
"I know you. You behaved really strange yesterday, and Ginny said you went to bed early. I figured you would be up early, and maybe that you would need someone to talk to."
She had promised herself that no one would know, but suddenly it felt so good to have Harry there, and it would be so wondrous to tell someone, if only just a little. To her dismay she heaved a big sob, and she shut the book with a slam.
"You don't have to talk if you don't want to, but I believe that it would be good for you. Yesterday, first you were almost manic, and then you went around almost dazed. If I may be so bold to say so, that's not your usual behaviour. What has happened?"
There was a small hesitation before she started to talk with a quiet voice. "You were right."
"You said that you knew that he was going to hurt me. I said that he never would. You were right."
"Malfoy." His face hardened. "We're talking about Malfoy here?"
He closed his eyes for a second, and then reached out a hand and put it on hers. "I didn't want to be right." The face grew serious and he pressed her hand. "What did he do to you?"
"Something I don't want to talk about. It's stupid really."
"Are you physically hurt?"
"No, of course not. He would never..." Her voice trailed off.
"I'm going to kill him, I swear I'm going to kill him."
"Don't. I don't want you in Azkaban." She forced a smile.
The answering smile was more like a grimace, but he obviously tried to calm down, and the next try looked a bit more genuine. Still holding her hand, he pressed it again before letting go. "So, what can I do? How do I make this easier for you?"
"I don't know. Just knowing that there's someone who knows means a lot."
"And about knowing..." He hesitated. "I was with you yesterday when you met Parkinson. I can't help thinking that it was there somewhere you changed your behaviour. Does that event have anything to do with it?"
Pressing her lips together Hermione stared into the flames, eventually answering. "Yes, it does."
"So I'm going to go ahead and guess that the problem is that Malfoy turned out to have a girlfriend, isn't it?"
Not saying a word, she kept her eyes on the fire, watching the colors flicker and burn, the embers burnt to gray-black in the grate.
"It's none of my business, but... are you in love with him?"
"You don't know him like I do." Is she? It's Malfoy, but...Malfoy hasn't been 'Malfoy' lately.
"Do you still really think you know him?"
She hesitated, but just for a second. "Yes, I do. Mostly. Obviously I didn't saw this coming, but..." Looking lost she sighed deeply. "I don't understand how he could do this to me."
"Hermione, exactly what did he do to you?" There was a worried line between his eyebrows.
"It's so stupid, I shouldn't act like this at all, it's such a small thing. Never mind me, I just..." She uncurled and started to look for her shoes.
"No, sit down. I won't push you, I'm sorry. If you don't want to talk about it you don't want to talk about it."
Slowly she sat back in the chair again.
"What can I do?" Harry looked at her with a worried expression. "Do you want me to go to McGonagall and ask her to kick him out of the mentor system?"
They did have mentor classes together, she hadn't forgotten about that. But all she needed to do was to show up and ignore him. She could do that. It was tempting to let Harry talk to the headmistress, but she kept coming back to the vulnerable expression on his face when he talked about him being a mentor as something that would have pleased his dad. She couldn't take that away from him.
"No, you don't have to. I can handle it." How was she supposed to handle it? Seeing him and knowing that she was just an amusement to him. Not seeing him smile to her. Not laughing with him. Not kissing him. "I don't want him to know that he got to me."
"I can ask her to kick him out of school?"
She smiled. "It's nice to see that you care, but I don't think that would be necessary." No, she did not want him to go away. Maybe she was a glutton for punishment, but she couldn't stand the thought of not even be able to see him.
"I just think he should suffer for what he has done. It's not OK to hurt you."
"I believe he is already suffering enough for other things he has done." All those talks they had, now it was all gone. She wished herself back to the morning before the kiss, when she had their friendship and everything was good.
"You know that you're still defending him?
"Maybe." No, that wasn't true. She didn't want to miss the magical night and the kiss, it was too bittersweet to give up.
"Now you're far away. What are you thinking?"
With an effort she put her focus back at Harry. "I'm thinking about him. What we had. What I will miss."
"I see. I only hope that you will see soon that you don't need him." The sad smile was back. "I will follow you to your mentors class today, that way you won't have to be alone with him." He bit his lip. "And one more thing. I don't recommend that we share this with Ron. The part including girlfriends and feelings and such, that is. I don't think he will like that."
"No, he probably won't. And I guess that means no telling Ginny either."
"It sounds reasonable."
Two boys came down in the common room, sat down at one of the tables and started to talk. The couple at the fire looked at each other.
"What do you say about that I go get my bag, and then we move to the breakfast table? You need some coffee I believe."
"I'd say that's a good idea." She watched him leave, and thanked her lucky star for having Harry. Draco would probably be at breakfast, and now she would have moral support. Seeing him would be double-edged. She knew that he had used and deceived her, but the truth was that she was still very much in love with Draco Malfoy.
o O o
Breakfast went relatively well. It was still pretty empty when they entered, and they managed to get a place to themselves. There was coffee, and of course that was good, but soon the rest of the students would arrive, and that would mean Draco too. And Ron and Ginny, which meant telling them as much as they should know. But when Draco came she was surprisingly calm. What really hurt though was to see Parkinson at his side, taking his arm and laughing. They soon were seated and he started his breakfast with the same distracted expression as always.
She moved her eyes to Harry, who was observing her. "I was just..."
"I know. Stop that, nothing good will come out of it. We should have switched sides, that way you couldn't look, but I didn't think of that."
"I always sit on this side. I'll try not to look."
"Good." He held out a tray of toast, "Here, you can't live on coffee alone."
With a sigh she reached out and took one, just to pick on it until she started to create a pile of crumbs, her eyes everywhere but at the blond boy.
Harry looked very tired and sad. "Hermione, please, try to eat something too."
"Oh." She looked down at her hands. "I'm sorry, I was somewhere else."
"Well, here come Ron and Ginny, time to get yourself together. You better tell them you know." His face was grim.
They sat in silence and watched their friends getting closer. Hermione was nervous, what would they say? They must be happy about it, right? But they might just be too happy, she didn't know if she could take that.
"There you are." Ginny bowed down and placed a kiss on Harry's cheek, while Ron sat down opposite to her, next to his friend. "We suspected that you had gone ahead when both of you were missing." She turned to Hermione. "How do you feel today?"
"Better, thank you. But..."
"That's nice to hear. Can you pass me the eggs?"
"I think that Hermione was trying to say something." There was no trace of smile on Harry's face now, sad or other.
"Oh?" Ginny looked up at her with a spoon halfway to her plate. Ron turned to look to her too.
"Well, I..." She looked up at the Slytherin table. He was still eating his breakfast with a preoccupied expression, and Parkinson was still chatting in his ear. They sat a little bit too close to each other, she couldn't believe that she never noticed that. Suddenly she was aware that three people was looking intently at her, and wasn't she about to say something? "I just wanted you to know that I won't spend time with Draco any more."
"So he finally showed his true colours?" The delight in Ginny's voice was tinted with malice.
At the same time Ron spoke up. "That was about bloody time."
"Yeah, well, that's how it is anyway." Everything hurt twice as much when she had to talk about it out in the open like this.
"What did he do to make you come to your senses?" Ginny looked almost improperly satisfied.
"Nothing, I just... it didn't feel right any more." No, it sure didn't feel right.
"I hate to say I told you so." The other girl grinned broadly.
"Ginny." There was a warning in Harry's voice.
"I know. I'm sorry." She sighed. "I'm really glad that you've come to your senses though, even if I of course don't like it if you have been hurt in the process."
"Well, he is a repulsive git of enormous proportions, so it's not that strange that it ends like this." Ron broke off his breakfast to deliver his statement.
Suddenly she just wanted to cry. She wanted to defend him, defend them. She wished that there was a 'them' to defend.
The rest of the breakfast crawled itself forward. Ginny was joyous, not even bothering to stop the malice she obviously couldn't hold back from shining through. Ron was focused on his food, but talked a little more than usual, even turning to Hermione every now and then. Harry had withdrawn to his depressed mood, and didn't say very much at all. Draco was ready with his breakfast and was now relaxed and small talking with Parkinson. It hurt to watch, but she couldn't stop herself. At last it was over, and she excused herself with having to catch her class.
In the afternoon she met up with Harry. He kept his promise and followed Hermione to her mentor class. They waited on the outside as long as possible, and not until it was time to start they went inside. Harry got himself a desk, and kept his eyes at Draco. Hermione said some introductory words as usual, and the class begun. Before the first arms hit the air he came over to her, slightly tentative and talked in a hushed voice.
"For a minute I thought that you wouldn't show up."
"Is that so?" She stared straight in front of her, and soon there was a student asking for help. "Excuse me." Leaving him without a glance she went to do her job.
There weren't any tries to make contact with her again until the class was over. When she went to join Harry, he intercepted her and gave her a thoughtful look.
"Hermione, can we talk? Without your friend?"
She didn't condescend him with a look, but just held her head high and went straight past him. She and Harry went out the door and soon they had left him behind.
"I was watching him you know." Harry looked at her with a pensive expression.
"Oh, what did he look like except from busy?"
"I believe you got to him. Either he doesn't know that you know, or he hoped to be able to use you. He was troubled for sure, more than usual."
"That's good I suppose." Inside she was protesting. She didn't want to hurt him. But she reminded herself that he didn't hesitate to hurt her, and she hardened herself.
After they came back she went to get her books for another study session. The coming days she sometimes went to the library, but she tried to stay with her friends as much as she could endure. The fact that she chose to study in the common room was welcomed by the others, and a disaster for her studies. The loss of a highly intelligent study partner was of course a contributory factor, but to be honest, the loss of Draco was worse.
o O o
Draco hadn't tried to contact her any more since the first mentor's class, he seemed to have understood the situation at once. This afternoon some weeks later, Harry and Hermione was on their way to their next class when the pattern was broken though. Draco was waiting in the corridor, and when they were passing he took a step forward.
"Hermione, may I talk to you for a bit?" He looked paler than usual and was obviously nervous.
Before she had the possibility to answer there was a movement next to her, and before any of them reacted Harry had drawn his wand. He was lifting it, pointing straight at Draco. A few frightened, younger students shoot one look at Harry's face and left quickly, but some older students stayed, looking expectant.
"Don't you dare..." Harry closed in on Draco, making him back up until he was pressed against the wall. There were some noises of approval from behind him, but he ignored them.
"I just—" Draco looked plainly scared, and if possible even paler.
"You just shut up." He looked really angry, but also a bit undecided. Then suddenly he lowered his wand, but in the same time shot out the other hand, gripped the front of Draco's shirt and slammed him into the wall. There was some cheering from behind, and Harry stepped in so close that their noses almost met.
"If I ever hear that you've been trying to talk to her again I promise you that you'll be sorry." He let go of Draco's clothes and backed up. "Stay away from her. She's way out of your league."
The Slytherin's eyes was big and scared, and his lips were firmly pressed together. His gaze was fixed on Harry, but he kept glancing at Hermione too.
Harry lifted his wand again. "Get out of here, I'm tired of looking at you. Now, or..." A gesture with the wand showed clearly what he meant.
Draco turned and fled, with one last long look at Hermione. The spectators cheered and some were applauding. Hermione let herself be led out of there, but she was deep in thought. What did Draco want from her? Was it an attempt to mediate peace? Not that she would take it, no way. Not from someone like him. He was out of her life, right?
"Never mind him, OK?" A hand reached out and rested for a moment on her arm.
"Of course not." That was a lie, she highly minded him. What did he want with her?
"Let's go to class then."
The rest of the lessons of the day went uneventful. She was sitting in the common room with the students from her year when Ginny came down to them.
"Hermione, you have an owl in the dormitory." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously, and they went to Harry and Ron. Both of the boys looked worried and Ron also had an irritated expression.
"Oh, it must be that new thing I ordered." She showed a calm smile, but inside her heart was pounding, hard. She didn't like that she had lied to her friends, but what if... "I'll be right back."
She left the room with three pairs of eyes burning in her back. When she was out of sight she almost started to run. Please, please, let it be... The owl was sitting on her bed, and when she came closer it held out a leg with a letter on it. With shaking hands she took it, let the owl out, and then looked down at the letter. Her head swirled. Green ink. Slowly she sat down on the bed and opened it.
I do apologise for contacting you, but I'm desperate. What we talked about has finally
happened. The students have had enough of me, the parents have complained, and here
we are. A new trial is awaiting me in a couple of weeks, and I have no idea how it will
end. The only thing I can do is preparing as good as I can, make my case as positive
as possible. And my head is empty, I just can't stop thinking about how bad it might be.
I could really need some help right now, and my Slytherin friends are of no use in this
matter. I know that you despise me, and don't want anything to do with me, but I beg
you, if nothing else for old times sake. Once you called me your friend, and I pray that
it will be enough to make you find some compassion for me.
You probably understand what will happen to me if you show this to anyone, and I beg
you again, please don't. I'm at your mercy now.
If you agree to meet with me, if nothing else just to talk, I'll be at the office tomorrow
night after classes. I dearly hope to see you there.