A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 10: Heaven


Harry drove Hermione and Draco back to Draco’s house. Once again, she seemed devoid of feeling. Draco thought it was odd how she could turn her emotions on and off like that. One second she would be crying, the next she would be catatonic. One moment she would say she remembered something, the next she didn’t seem to recall anything.


It was not only odd but also infuriating.


It was also a sign that she was healing, however slowly.


Harry went back to the Ministry and then he brought the note they found back to Draco’s house for Hermione to read. It was written in her handwriting. The note said that she was coming to talk to her mum, and would arrive at 3pm on Friday, the 22nd of November, which was the day her mum was killed. It said that she would apparate. Hermione never wrote that note. It may have looked like it was in her handwriting, but it wasn’t.


She handed it back to Harry, confused and scared at the same time. Her hand shook as she handed it back to him and explained to him that she didn’t know anything about the note, and that she had never made plans to visit her mum. “Maybe I should have, but I didn’t.”


Draco stood by the couch and as Potter started to fold the note to put it back in his pocket, Draco held out his hand. Harry handed it to Draco. When Draco read the note, he felt a strangling sensation in his heart. He pulled Potter into the kitchen and said, “I’m the one that put up the wards at her mum’s house.”


“What? Why didn’t you tell me before now?” Harry spat silently.


Draco took his arm again and led him outside. It was bitterly cold, and snow was coming down in a solid white sheet. Draco said, “I kept in contact with her mother, alright? It was my way of keeping in contact with Hermione, without her knowing it. Her mother let me know that Hermione was coming home, so I lowered the damn wards. Her mother thought that Hermione was finally going to forgive herself, and come home, and I thought that, too. I hoped it, anyway. It’s my fault her mother’s dead.”


That last thought didn’t even pop into Draco’s head until that moment. He started to walk back and forth, digging a trail in the snow, his arms raised, ranting: “She’ll hate me forever now! She’ll never forgive me! Everything I’ve ever done has caused her pain!”


Harry said, “Stop it!” Draco took a deep breath to calm down and Harry added, “I won’t have you taking the blame for something that isn’t you fault, anymore than I would let Hermione do it! The both of you just need to stop blaming yourselves for other people’s weaknesses and mistakes!”


Hermione stood in the door with both men’s coats in her hands. She said, “Harry, Draco, do you want your coats? It’s snowing.”


Draco looked up and said sarcastically, “So it is.” He pushed past Harry, past Hermione, who still stood in the doorway, and walked to his bedroom and slammed the door.


“What’s wrong with him?” Hermione asked Harry as he took his coat from her.


“It would be easier to ask what isn’t wrong with him,” Harry said with a grin.


Hermione smiled. He leaned forward, placed his hands on her cheeks, and kissed her lips softly. “I love you. Take care of him. He needs you now.”


Hermione watched as Harry disapparated away and thought that was a strange comment. Wasn’t she the one that needed Draco, not the other way around? She turned to walk back in the house, Draco’s coat in hand, when she saw him standing behind her. He had her coat. He said, “Let’s go to that damn school and tell your boss you won’t be coming back for a while.”


“Only if I drive,” she said.


He looked at the snow coming down and said, “Sure you can drive.”


He drove. He would have let her drive, really, he would have, if it were her car they were driving, but this was his car, and he had to work hard for the money to buy this car, and it was almost a blizzard out here. Gone were the days of endless money and extravagance. When his father got out of prison, a mere seven months before he died, he really did disown Draco. His mother gave him money now and then, and he took it, but he knew that she wouldn’t openly defy his father, even in death.


Someday when his mother died, he wasn’t sure who would inherit everything, and he didn’t really care.


His father disowned him because he was responsible for the death of one of the Death Eaters who attacked Hermione during the final battle. She killed the other. The third got away that day, but with the help of Draco, the man was prosecuted and sent to prison. Draco wasn’t sure why his father balked at that. He gave up many names to get his sentenced shortened. It was a combination of the fact that Draco cooperated with the Ministry after the war, that he went to a Muggle University, and that he became an Auror, that his father disowned him.


He turned to look at Hermione as he drove. He started to think of that day again. He didn’t want to think of it, but he did so constantly. There she was, cornered and scared. Theo and Draco were trying desperately to find a way to escape the castle during the ceasefire. They happened upon them by chance. Draco looked at Theo, Theo looked at Draco, and they both had different ideas. Draco was the one that wanted to leave her there. He wanted to run away and forget what he was seeing. He had already lived through her being tortured once in his home, and he couldn’t watch it again. Theo whispered to Draco that they had to stay and help her.


Therefore, they drew their wands. They walked up to the laughing men. They assumed one of them might have already raped her. He was standing up, and straightening his robes, and her clothes were all torn and tattered. It made Draco want to throw up, and he swallowed the bile that rose in his throat. She was on the ground, bloody, bruised, and trying desperately to cover herself.


Draco pointed his wand toward the men. He turned to look at Theo, and all he saw was his back as he was running away. He turned back and she looked past the three men, who didn’t yet know he was there, and she said, “Run, Malfoy, run.”


She didn’t care about herself that day. She wanted to save him.


Damn self-righteous Gryffindor.


Now as he watched her out of the corner of his eye, he thought, ‘How much more does she have to endure?’


“Why do you keep looking over at me?” she asked as they continued to drive.


“Why are you looking at me, looking at you?” he asked back.


“So crazy, I swear, he can never just answer a question,” she muttered to herself. “You always answer a question with a question! It’s maddening!”


He laughed. “It’ll be strange to be back on that campus again. I haven’t been there since graduation,” he said.


“I love that school. It was my lifesaver after Hogwarts, and in many ways, my lifesaver these past three years,” she said. “There’s a different Dean now.”


“I would hope so,” Draco remarked. “The man that was Dean when we went here was 90 years old back then.”


They drove up to the faculty building and parked. He said, “Shall I come with you?”


“Do I require a guard here? Because if I don’t, I would rather go alone. I need to go to my office and collect a few things, too, and I would rather be by myself.”


He thought about it for a moment, but then said, “I think I should go. If you’re in danger, your office needs checked before you enter.”


“I’ll take you there, you can check it out while I talk with the Dean,” she decided. They walked through the grounds, huddled against the cold and snow, and he felt another crushing weight to his chest. All of this was so familiar. He was happy when he was here. He felt a sense of calm and normalcy here that he had never felt his entire life.


He fell in love with Hermione here.


He waited for her in her office. He fingered through her things. He put his feet up on her desk. He threw things in her rubbish bin, just to see if he could. There was nothing personal here either. Just a bunch of books and papers. When she finally arrived, he was sitting at her desk, feet still propped up, and hands behind his head.


“You look comfortable,” she said.


She went to the bookcase and started to collect books and things. A moment later a young woman walked in the office and said, “Here are the boxes you requested, Professor Granger.”


Draco immediately put his feet flat on the floor. Something was amiss. She was completely clearing the shelves, and putting everything in the boxes. She kneeled down by one of them, to re-arrange some books and she said, “Will you have room for my things in your shed, or should I try to rent a storage unit?”


“What are you doing?”


“I’m packing my things,” she said.


“Why?”


“He fired me,” she said. She voice had no inflection. Once again, she was void of emotion. He sprang out of the seat, went over to her, and picked her up by the shoulders. He shook her, for no good reason.


“Why did the arsehole fire you?” he asked.


Her chin quivered. He could tell she was on the verge of tears. First her mother, then her house, then her memory about her dad, and now her job? To many people, losing a job was akin to a death. Losing a house was as well. It was as if she was facing three deaths in the space of seven days. That was too much for anyone to handle.


Draco was about to march to that man’s office and hex his balls off, but when he reached the door, she pulled him back.


“Don’t do anything rash, Draco. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. I’ll find another job.” She went back to packing, with a sniffle here and a hiccup there. She was trying hard to keep her tears from falling, but she was being slightly betrayed.


He walked over to her, put his hand on her chest and pushed her into the chair behind her desk. Then he used his wand to pack everything he could see in the office that wasn’t nailed down, and then even a few things that were nailed down. She sat at the desk during the whirlwind and let him do what he must. He shrunk everything to fit in two boxes. He emptied the desk drawers, all the shelves, and took everything off the walls, and after a second thought, he even took the nails.


He picked up the boxes and said, “Come on, Granger. You don’t need this blasted University. I always did hate it here, anyway.”


On the drive back home she finally said, “He said he couldn’t give me an extended leave. He said I could take another few days, but that I was needed back after that. I told him that I couldn’t come back yet. I just couldn’t. Not yet, and maybe not ever. He told me that I should leave and examine where my head was, and that if I decided I wanted to teach again in the future, he would consider me for another position sometime.”


“Stupid bastard,” Draco said. Actually, that didn’t seem as harsh as Draco imagined, but still…stupid bastard.


He wanted to reach over and take her hand. Give it a small squeeze. He wanted to do that in the car earlier, but he never got a chance. What would be the harm? He reached over, took her hand in his, but instead of giving it a small squeeze and then returning it to her lap, he brought it to his mouth and kissed it gently, then he laid both their hands in her lap.


“Do you believe in Heaven, Malfoy?” she asked.


“No.”


“Not at all?” she asked, her gaze examining his expression.


He took a quick glance her way and said, “No, not at all. I rather think someone either believes or doesn’t. I don’t think there are degrees of believing.”


“Why don’t you believe in heaven?” After she asked that question, she brought her left hand over to where he clasped her right and she began to rub the top of his hand with her finger. Maybe he did believe. This could be heaven, right here, right now, with her. Holding hands.


“Do you believe in Heaven?” he asked.


“As previously stated, you have a habit of not answering questions by asking questions of your own. Did you know that?” she asked.


“And yet, you just did the same thing,” he pointed out.


“I’ll answer.” She declared she would answer, but instead, she continued to draw little circles on the top of his hand, while it held her other hand. Finally, she said, “I just think that there has to be something better in the afterlife than this. This can’t be as good as it gets.”


Draco said, “I think Heaven and Hell are here on earth. I’ve seen them both and know they exist, but in the here and now.” He moved his hand from hers so he could shift gears and park the car. He pulled over, and then he placed his hand on her cheek. He said, “People experience such extreme joy and such immense pain. That’s Heaven and Hell.”


“No, I think you’re wrong.” She removed his hand from her cheek, but continued to hold it. “If I really felt that there was nothing better waiting for me than what I’ve had here on earth, then there would be no reason to continue living.”


“If you believe in Heaven, then do you think Theo went to Heaven?” he asked. He wasn’t sure why he asked that. She looked at him and her face was awash in new pain.


“For a long time, I really felt that he probably didn’t. Now, I’m not sure. I hope he did. I hope I’ll see him again someday.”


“Why did you feel he wouldn’t be in heaven? He was a good man,” he asked.


“Just something I overhead a friend of my mother’s say once after my father died,” she said. “She said that when someone killed themselves, they didn’t go to heaven.”


“Why would she say that?” he said. “And what does that have to do with Theo?” She let go of his hand. He said, “What do you mean, Hermione?”


“Just that Theo died like my father died, by his own hand,” she said softly.


What did she mean by that? Theo didn’t kill himself. He died in a car accident. A stupid accident. He looked at her confused, and then turned away. He shook his head, and then he looked at her once more. She turned to look at him, with tears in her eyes, and all he thought was that her pain went deeper than he ever imagined, and that someone must have lied to him about Theo’s death, and it had to be her.

End of Part I



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