A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 14: An Unpleasant Conversation:


The first year of school was ending. Draco was helping Hermione move from her flat. She was going back to her mum’s house for the summer break. She would have to find another flat come fall. Theo was going home for the summer, too. His mother and father hadn’t disowned him, even though his father was in prison. Draco had nowhere to go, so he was staying at school.


Hermione watched as Draco helped her to put all her things in boxes, shrinking them down so they would fit. She stopped wrapping dishes in tissue paper to sit on the kitchen floor. She leaned against one of the cupboard. Draco looked over at her and said, “Are you slacking, Granger?”


“No, remembering,” she answered.


He placed the books he had in his hands on the small table and walked over to her. He sat down next to her and bumped his shoulder into hers. “What are you remembering that’s causing you to look so melancholy?” he asked.


“I’ve really liked living here. It’s a nice place, if not somewhat small, but I’ve never felt afraid here. The couple who own the house have been like second parents to me. My mum has offered to continue to pay the rent so the place will be mine again in the fall, but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do.”


“Why not?” he asked.


“Well, sometimes money can be tight for my Mum. She has to work all by herself, and she works really long hours. I don’t want to take advantage of her,” she said back.


“We should all get a place together next year, you, me and Theo,” he said. He thought he would throw that suggestion out there, and see what she thought. He expected one of two things. Either she would become excited, hug him, and say yes, or she would immediately shoot him down and say, no way. He was holding out for option one.


However, she surprised him when she said, “I’m not sure that’s the best idea.”


“Okay,” he said. He gave up easily, because he wasn’t sure it was the best idea either. When she didn’t say anything else, he asked, “Why does you mum work such long hours?”


“Ever since my dad died, she’s had their dental practice all to herself. She has no one to share the duties or the nighttime or weekend emergencies. It’s difficult sometimes and she works so hard,” Hermione explained.


“I’m not sure you ever told me how your dad died,” Draco stated.


“Heart attack,” she said. She looked over to the wall, turning her head away from him. He figured that she didn’t like to think of unpleasant things, so he wouldn’t ask her anything else about her dad. “I don’t really like to talk about it,” she confirmed.


“That’s fine. I don’t like to talk about unpleasant things either; however, I’m always willing to listen.” He picked up her hand.


She felt such warmth radiating from him. When did that happen? When did the meanest, biggest bully in school, become such a kind, gentle man? What had altered his life so much? She wanted to know. She also wanted to know exactly when she fell in love with him, because she was. She was in love with him. “When did you become so nice?” It wasn’t the most tactful way for her to ask that question, but it would serve its purpose.


He kept her hand in both of his and said, “I was always nice, on the inside.”


“Where it counts,” she said in jest.


“Yes,” he said, smiling. “Really, I think the war changed me. For the better. War is a terrible, terrible thing, it can turn some people bitter, turn others into heroes, scar some people for life, make some people stronger, and for me, it made me more compassionate. I replaced my selfishness with empathy. I think you had a lot to do with that.” He wondered if he had said too much.


“Do you mean because of the last battle? I mean, what happened during the ceasefire?” she asked.


He nodded.


“We’ve never really discussed it, have we?” she acknowledged.


“I never figured you would want to talk about it,” he said.


“I’ve worked hard to forget it,” she said.


“I wish I could forget it,” he admitted.


“Why didn’t you run when I warned you to run? They might not even have hurt you, since you were your father’s son,” she said.


“I’ve often wondered about that,” he said truthfully. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. As he released the breath, he released her hand. He drew his legs up, so that his knees were level with his face. He placed his arms around his legs and placed his face on his arms, and closed his eyes. He had more to add to that sentence, but he wasn’t sure he could face her and tell her the truth at the same time.


He added, “I was going to run and leave you there. Theo was there too, did you know?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “We were trying to find a way out of the castle. I was a scared kid who just desperately wanted to find his parents. They were out in the forest with the Dark Lord and Potter, so I felt I had to go out to them somehow, but we couldn’t find a way out.”


“We ran down the long corridor from the old Potions room in the dungeons, to try to climb the backstairs to the entrance by the kitchens, near the Hufflepuff dormitory. That’s when we turned the corner and saw you. What were you doing there?”


He turned his face so it was still resting on his arms, but he could see her. However, she was the one that was now looking away.


“Ron and I had gone back down to the Chamber of Secrets, to destroy one of the Horcruxes. We were running back up, and became separated. He had heard from someone that his brother Percy had joined the fight and was trying to find his family. He ran away with that boy, to look for Percy, and he temporarily forgot about me. I fell on the stairs and hurt my knee. I could barely run. Then, I heard three men talking. I knew in my heart they weren’t on our side. I tried to go into several classrooms, but I couldn’t get in any of them.”


“Stop,” he said. He closed his eyes again. “You don’t have to tell me anymore.”


“Fine,” she uttered. She scooted to her knees, and started to stand. He reached out and held her arm. He pulled her back down.


“I meant, tell me what you want, but don’t feel like you have to reveal anything to me that you don’t want,” he revised.


She sat back down. “Well, anyway, I was in a bad way when you and Theo turned the corner and started down the corridor,” she said, glossing over the worst bits for his sake. She said, “I was on the ground, and they were standing, so I saw you before they did. I was both overjoyed that someone else was there, and yet I was also afraid that you might get hurt, too.”


“You were afraid for us?” he asked. He stood up quickly. She stayed on the floor. She was slightly alarmed. He started to pace back and forth, a habit he had when he was agitated. “How dare you be afraid for us! You were fighting for your life! Why in the world would you be thinking about us at that point? We were nothing to you!”


She wasn’t sure why he was so indignant about her statement, but it was a statement of fact. She sat as he did earlier, knees draw up to chin, face resting on top of knees. She said, “I can’t help how I felt. I was afraid for you.”


He rushed over to her and pulled her up by one arm and she winced and closed her eyes. She turned her head and said three words that would forever haunt him. The reason the words haunted him, was because they were the same words he heard her say to those Death Eaters. She said, “Don’t hurt me.”


He pushed her away, and rubbed his face in frustration. He threw his arms down to his sides in a sudden movement and said, “I’m not going to hurt you! You seriously think I would hurt you?” She backed toward the sink. He said, “It’s just, I wish I had done more. I wish it hadn’t happened to you. I wish Theo hadn’t run away. How can you forgive him? Sometimes I can’t forgive him. Sometimes I want to blame him for everything, and that makes me angry, too! The whole thing makes me angry!”


“Anger is good,” she said.


“That’s a load of shite!” he retorted.


“What do you want from me? I don’t even know how we got started on this conversation. I didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t even want to remember it. I’m not sure why you’re so angry about it all, because it didn’t happen to you.”


“YOU THINK NOT?” he shouted. “I feel like it did happen to me! It was the most defining moment of my life!”


“Then I’m glad it happened,” she said.


“WHAT?” he shouted louder.


“If what happened to me had to happen for you to have a turning point, and for you to become a better man, then so be it. Then something good came from a horrible situation, and you know what, thank the stars above that you were there! If you hadn’t killed that one man, and disarmed the other, which afforded me the chance to get my wand, who knows what else would have happened.” She turned toward the wall, for once upset that her flat was a one roomer. She would love to run to another room right about now. She would run to the toilet, but he was standing in front of the door. She ended with, “You probably saved my life that day. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? If you aren’t grateful, then at least have the knowledge that I am.”


He pulled at his hair. Why did he have to bring all of this up? Why did he have to ask her such open-ended questions? He walked up behind her. He could see she was crying. He said, “Don’t cry.” The words came out with a sting. He didn’t say it as nicely as he could have. It was more of a demand than a plea or request. He patted her back, feeling like a fool, and said, “Please, don’t cry. I won’t ever bring it up again, and if you find that someday you want to tell me everything that happened, I won’t throw a tantrum. At least, not one as bad as this one.”


She let out a little laugh and turned around. She wiped away a tear. He held out his t-shirt and said, “Here, use my shirt as a hankie. It’s already dirty.”


She actually took his shirttail, which shocked him, and wiped her eyes. He was thankful that she didn’t blow her nose on it. When she let it go, she smoothed it out with her hand. The feel of her delicate touch rubbing lightly on his stomach and chest sent shock waves through his system, even through the thin cotton of his shirt.


She walked away from him and continued to pack and said, “So, yeah, I’ll miss this place.”

He had an idea. He was going to let his place go, and rent this place for the summer. He would keep it for her until fall, then she could have it back, and he and Theo could find a nicer place. Their place was a dump, anyway.


“Do you think you could continue with the lease here, and let me sublet it from you for the summer, and come fall you could have it back? Our place is terrible. It has all sorts of bugs, and since I’m going to be all by myself this summer, I think I need a smaller place. You can have it back in the fall.”

He said the whole spill while packing up the remainder of her books. He wasn’t even facing her, yet he could tell she turned around and was staring at him. As silly as it sounded, he even felt her smile, though he couldn’t see it. He heard her say, “I think that would work.”


He thought it would work, too. He knew deep down inside that he would probably do anything for Hermione Granger, if she asked him to, and even if she didn’t ask.


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