A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 12: Someone to Watch over me:

Hermione walked into the dark, cavernous library and looked for a seat. It was late, but the library didn’t close until midnight. Very few students came out this late, and usually Hermione was one of the ones that didn’t, but tonight she did. She had to do some research for a paper, and this was her only free time. She hated being alone when a building was almost empty and dark like this. It reminded her too much of a horrible incident from her past.

She sat down at one of the tables and turned on the light in front of her. She started to lay out her books when she spied a familiar head. Sitting in front of her, two tables over, was Draco Malfoy. His back was to her, but she knew it was he. She would know that hair anywhere. She had just seen Theo that morning, and he told her that he and Draco had dates tonight, so she wondered what he was doing at the Library. Even though she had seen Theo several times since that first day, and Draco actually had two classes with her, she hadn’t really spoken much to him, and he never really spoke to her. He never really spoke to anyone. She thought he seemed lonely.

Was it rude of her not to go up to him and say hello? Unless he turned around, he wouldn’t even know she was there. She left her books and stood up to go cruise an aisle, to find the book that she needed for her assignment.

He looked up when he heard the pitter pat of footsteps. He thought he was alone in this room. He saw another man at a table, and a couple on a couch. He turned his head quickly and he saw a wisp of brown hair as the person making the noise ducked behind an aisle. It was Granger. He would bet his life on it. He would know that hair anywhere.

He closed his book and decided to say hello. She undoubtedly saw him, and she was probably waiting for him to speak first. He hadn’t had a real conversation with her since that first day when he walked her to her flat. He even had two classes with her, but she always seemed to want to be alone, so he left her alone. He smiled at her a couple of times, and she at him, but that was the extent of their involvement.

He walked down the aisle she had traveled, and when he didn’t see her, he crossed over to another one. He saw her bend down as she removed two large books from the bottom shelf. Then he saw her stack them one on top of the other, and she stood up on them, using them as a stepstool, to reach up for her intended target: a large book on the top shelf.

He smiled. He walked over to her, stealth his middle name, and once behind her he said, “You are misusing books.”

She turned quickly, gasped, placed one hand on a shelf, and reached in her pocket for her wand. She also slipped on the books she was standing on, and as she started to tumble she let out a ‘yelp’. Draco reached over to steady her, but could not stop her as she slipped to the floor.

She looked up at him, breathing hard, a terrified look on her face. Another student walked by and said, “Is everything alright there?”

Draco was quick to stand in front of her, since she was still holding her wand, and he said, “My girlfriend just fell.”

The boy gave Draco a leery look and approached. He said, “Are you okay, Miss?” Apparently, he didn’t trust Draco. Draco thought that was very rude of the bugger.

“I’m fine. He thought it would be funny to scare me, that’s all,” she said, standing up. Draco had one hand behind his back, and as if she understood what he wanted, she placed her wand in it promptly. He stuck it in his back pocket. The older student approached them more.

He looked from Draco to Hermione and addressing her he said, “You look like you’ve been frightened by something. Is this fellow really your boyfriend?”

Draco looked at the man with disgust and before he could answer, Hermione placed her arm around Draco’s waist, tucking herself neatly under his arm. “He’s a wanker, but he’s all mine.”

“Okay then. Sorry, but I would have felt horrid if he was accosting you and I didn’t do anything about it,” the bloke said. He nodded to Draco and said, “No hard feelings mate.” He went back to his seat.

Draco felt a newfound respect for the stranger. He did what Draco would have wanted anyone to do if they found Hermione in trouble. He did what Draco himself did, last year, when she was in trouble. Unlike this man, he wasn’t quite as forward and brave, but the man’s heart was in the right place.

As the man turned the corner, Hermione let go of Draco’s waist. She said, “Reach up there and get me that red book, Malfoy.”

“Yes, Sir,” he said. He got the book and then as he was handing it to her he said, “Was that a direct order?”

“Do you follow direct orders, because if you do, I will tell you to go jump in the lake.” She took the book from him and said, “Please, don’t ever sneak up on me again.”

“I wasn’t sneaking…oh, never mind.” It would do no good to argue the point with her, because he was sneaking up on her. He picked the books up from the floor and returned them to the bottom shelf. He motioned to her to walk ahead of him.

She said, “Turn around.”

“Why? Do you want to look at my bum?” he asked.

“Turn around,” she repeated.

“Another direct order?” he asked.

“For goodness sakes,” she expelled. She reached behind him, removed her wand from his pocket, and placed it in her own.

He slapped her arm and said, “Fresh.”

She smiled. They returned to the main room and she motioned with her head that he should join her at her table. He picked up his books and did so. He thought she was a bossy little thing. She always was, though, so he wasn’t positive why that was a surprise. She certainly led Potter and Weasley around by the balls all those years.

He sat opposite her and that was when he noticed what she was writing. “You’re just now doing your paper?” he asked.

“I know, pity me please. Uni is harder than I suspected. I’m getting a bit behind.” She opened the reference book and started to write on a piece of paper. She shook her pen and said, “Great, my only pen and it’s out of ink!”

He reached in his satchel and handed her a ballpoint pen. As he handed it to her he said, “Ruddy good invention, if you ask me. Beats quill and ink anytime.”

She smiled. Then she went back to her work.

He read a while and then he said, “Pssst, Granger.”

She looked up and said, “I’m right across from you. You don’t have to make the ‘pssst’ noise to get my attention.”

“Pssst, Granger,” he said again with a smirk.

“What?” she whispered back, and rolled her eyes.

“Why were you so scared back there when I came across you in the stacks?”

She looked as if he had punched her in the gut by asking that question. She frowned, and not with just her mouth, but with her whole face. She said, “I don’t like to be in large, dark places by myself. Too many bad memories.” She hoped that was a good enough explanation and that he wouldn’t ask her to elaborate.

He nodded and said, “Enough said.” He wondered if she had psychological scars from that night, but then he realized she probably had multiple scars, from multiple episodes, and that was just one of many. He knew that was the case with him. He often wondered if she some how blamed him for what happened, even though he helped her. It was an irritation thought, but he thought it all the time. He would have to ask her about it someday.

He finished his work, and was about to tell her that he had to go, when he notice they were the last two there. He wondered if she would be afraid if he left her. That made him feel all mushy inside, and he almost wanted to vomit. He hated feeling mushy. GADS! Granger made him feel mushy! Another part of him felt protectiveness toward her. A part of her needed him, and she may not even know it. He leaned forward and said, “How much longer do you have, do you think?”

“For what?” she asked, not looking up.

“Your work,” he clarified.

“Oh, probably another hour.” She still didn’t look up.

He looked at his watch. It was after ten o’clock now. He was supposed to meet Theo and two girls at a pub tonight. He was already late.

However, she was proud. If he told her he had to go, she would just say goodbye, and put up with her fears. He didn’t want her to have to do that. He didn’t want her to go through unnecessary distress. He said, “I have about an hour, too. If you get done before me, let me know, and I’ll finish up and walk you back to your flat.”

She still didn’t look up, but she smiled. She could tell that he was lying. He had stopped working a while ago. He was staying for her, and that warmed her inside. She wondered if he ever dwelled on the time he helped her at Hogwarts during the last battle. She would die inside if she ever thought that his thoughts lingered on that. She really hoped that he never even thought of it. She knew she had worked hard to forget it. She worked hard to put it in the past. With the help of her mum, and good friends, and a therapist, she put it all in the past. She barely thought of it, except at times like tonight, when she was alone.

Except she wasn’t really alone tonight, she had Draco. She liked that thought. She had Draco Malfoy to rely on, and who would have ever thought such a thing. She decided to cut him a break. She would finish the report at home. She had all the information she needed. Besides, she knew he had a date.

“I think I’m done for tonight,” she said. She closed her book. She said, “Do you mind going with me to put the book back? I won’t be able to reach to place it back on the top shelf.”

He thought that was a feeble excuse. She could leave it on the cart by the Librarian’s desk, or she could just order him to put it back. She didn’t want to be alone. He grinned, with his head lowered, said, “Yes, Captain. I shall endeavor to do you proud by putting the book back on the high shelf. Lead the way.” He scooted his chair back and she did the same. She walked slightly ahead of him and he couldn’t help but notice her nice bum on the way down the aisle.

Once at the right shelf she turned and handed him the book. He took it from her and started to put it back but she said, “It goes over there, fourth from the left.”

“Seriously, does it matter?” he asked.

“I take the Dewey-decimal system very serious, Malfoy,” she joked.

He turned quickly to place it on the opposite shelf, just to get her dander up, and as he turned, she leaned forward to push another book, which was protruding from its place, back in the shelf, and he banged her nose with the hand holding the book.

It didn’t hurt at all, but he didn’t have to know that. She yelped for the second time that evening and immediately held her nose with both hands. He dropped the book and reached for her face. He placed his hands on her wrists and said, “Granger, I am so, so sorry. Let me have a look.”

Her eyes watered and she continued to moan and groan. “I think you broke my nose.”

He rolled his eyes at his carelessness, and he moved his hands to her shoulders, and rubbed her arms up and down. The next thing she knew he pulled her into his chest and was rubbing her back. “I’m sorry, Hermione. Can I take you to the nurse? It was an accident. The last thing I would ever want to do is to hurt you.”

Well now, she felt guilty. He called her Hermione, and he felt bad for hurting her. She also felt incredibly safe and comfortable in his embrace. She pulled back slightly and he bent his head to look at her face. One hand went to her hands and he removed her left hand from her face, and then her right, to reveal a large smile on her face.

“I just wanted to scare you in the stacks, the way you scared me,” she explained, her nose not injured in the least.

He gripped her wrists tighter and pulled her toward him. He shook her in a fake fury and said, “You’re so evil!” She was biting her bottom lip, but a smile was still forming on her face. He said, “I should get you back for that.”

He pushed her away, however gently, and he placed the book back in its proper home. He started back down the aisle and she remained where she was. He looked back and said, “Are you coming?”

“Are you really willing to walk me home?” she asked, walking toward him.

“If you promise not to do anything else that is remotely mean or evil, I might be persuaded,” he said. They returned to the table and each cleared their spots.

Hermione said, “I’m surprised you don’t have some sort of date or something tonight, Malfoy. It being a Friday night and all.”

He smiled to himself, and took her bag from her hand. They began to walk toward the door and he said, “No, completely date free. I take my studies seriously.”

They walked outside and she said, “I saw Theo earlier. He said you two had double dates with, and I quote, the two hottest birds on campus. I was slightly crushed, because I thought I was the hottest bird on campus.”

“You are an evil little thing, and your hottest aside, if you knew about my date, why didn’t you say something?” he asked.

“Because,” she said. And she didn’t elaborate. And he didn’t ask her to explain, because he didn’t really care. He wanted to walk her home. They walked in complete and utter silence, he remembering the feel of her as he held her to his chest, and she thinking of the exact same thing.

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