A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 16: Nothing Remains the Same:

School resumed and Draco and Hermione never once spoke of what ‘almost’ happened at Christmas. A new awkwardness, an unwelcome feeling to both, came between them and neither knew what to do about it.

Winter turned to spring. It was soon time for exams. Hermione was frantic, and spent most of her free time studying. Draco spent his free time working at the school’s Library, earning extra cash to help pay his share of the rent. He had never had a job before, but he knew that the job in the Library would not only help him earn extra income, but would keep him close to Hermione, since she was practically a permanent resident.

Theo fell into an awkward phase as well. He now went through bouts of depression. Draco wondered if Hermione’s assessment from before was correct, and perhaps Theo’s ‘happy-go-lucky’ demeanor was always just a mask. Maybe this was the real Theo. After all, how could he still be mourning for his father? He died five months ago, and he was an evil man.

Draco often wondered if the real reason Theo ran away from Hermione that fateful day at Hogwarts was that he recognized one of the men as his father. They had never discussed it. Draco always wanted to ask him why. There were many questions he had for his friend, such as: Why did you run away? Why do you sometimes cry at night? How could you love a man who was evil personified? How could you look Granger in the face, knowing what your father did to her? However, those question remained unasked, and therefore, unanswered.

Draco was on a high ladder at the Library, returning books to an upper shelf the Muggle way, when he felt someone rattle the ladder. He held onto a shelf and looked down. It was she. She smiled up at him.

“Do you want me to break my neck?” he asked.

“Not really,” she said.

“Not really?” he asked back. He said, “Be a dear heart and hand me one of those books on the ground.”

“A what?” she asked.

“A book. A thing you read,” Draco said. He knew her remark was really due to that fact that he called her a ‘dear heart’.

She snickered and picked up a book. He placed it on the shelf. He held out his hand. “Be a sweetie and hand me another,” he mocked.

She laughed again and picked up another. This was nice, she thought, even if he was rather acting a fool, calling her all those stupid names. She handed him another.

He placed it on the shelf too and then said, “Honey pot, hand me another.”

“HONEY POT?” She laughed outright. She said, “Get it yourself.”

He pulled out his wand. She looked around and said, “Put that away, stupid arse.” She picked up another book.

“I love when you call me pet names,” he said. He put the last book on the shelf and climbed down.

Once on the floor, he held one rung of the ladder and turned sideways to face her. To his surprise, she climbed up two rungs and turned to face him the best she could, only one foot on a rung, her hand holding onto the side. She was eye level with him. She said, “So this is what it feels like to be as tall as you. Interesting. It’s like a whole new world.”

He sat on the ground and said, “This is what it feels like to be you.”

She frowned and said, “I’m not that short.”

“Oh, really? Well, at least from this height I can look up your skirt.”

She kicked out at him, and he grabbed her foot and took off her shoe. She started to fall and he stood up quickly and put his hands around her waist. He placed her back on the ground, minus one shoe. He didn’t move. They were pressed together closely. She reveled in the feeling. They were flirting with each other, and they were close. It was like old times, or maybe, ‘missed’ times.

“You’ve been working so hard, I haven’t seen you much,” she said. She noticed that he was still pressed against her.

“Thanks for getting me this job, by the way, and I’ve seen you. You’re here all the time,” he said. He noticed that she hadn’t pushed him away. He missed her. More than words could say.

“I can’t very well bother you at work, so I’ve been trying to behave and not talk to you,” she explained. She had been studying more and more at the Library, just to be close to him.

“You’re talking to me now,” he said. He put her shoe on top of a book on a shelf high above her head, and then he let his hand come down the side of the ladder slowly, until it was right above her head. He placed his other hand in the same position on the other side. She was trapped, and she liked it.

“Am I bothering you now?” she asked. She felt stupid with her backside pressed against the ladder, and her arms flat at her sides. She finally placed her hands on his chest.

He couldn’t help but smile. The feel of her touch on his chest made all sorts of visions pass through his mind. How he wished he had kissed her all those months ago at Christmas. She certainly seemed willing at the time. She seemed willing now. He leaned down, his warm breath on her cheek. He said in her ear, “You are bothering me, but in a pleasant way.” Let her take that comment anyway she wanted.

He felt her breath come out in tiny, little puffs, tickling his neck. She said, “You’re bothering me, too.”

He leaned away, only a fraction, then leaned forward again and placed his lips on hers, softly, and only for a moment. When he leaned away again, she had her fingertips on her lips. She felt her stomach drop to her feet. His vision was blurred. He leaned toward her again, her hands back on his chest, and he said, “Did that bother you.”

“In a way,” she said. He looked at her again.

“In a good way?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

He leaned forward again, but she pushed him away. At first, he frowned and looked confused, but he saw that a student had walked down the aisle. Draco pulled the ladder to another section, and continued his work. Hermione asked the other student, a male, to get her shoe for her. Draco forgot he left her shoe up on a high shelf.

The man asked her how her shoe got up there, and she said, “Who knows.”

That made Draco smile. The man gave her the shoe back, and she placed it on her foot. He climbed the ladder to put away more books, and as she passed him, she reached out and touched his leg. He looked down and she said, “Come to my house for dinner tonight.”

“Is that a request, or an order?” he asked.

“Whatever you want it to be,” she said.

When dinnertime came, Draco knocked on her door. She opened it, but she didn’t seem happy to see him. When she opened the door all the way, he saw why. Theo was there.

Draco thought it was just going to be the two of them, and by the look on her face, she did, too. However, he knew that she would never turn Theo away, no more than he would, especially as he seemed so sad lately.

They ate, and of course, they studied. Later that night, Theo said he had to leave to study for an exam. He had different classes than they did, and he wasn’t doing very well this year. His off and on depression had caused his grades to slip. He left to study, and Draco was left to help her to clean up her dishes. He said, “Wash or dry?”

“I’ll wash.” She handed him a clean dishtowel, and she washed a glass.

After they had a small, mock argument, about the fact that she left spots on the glasses, and he pushed her out of the way so he could wash them by himself, she stated, “I will never wash dishes with you again! From now on you will have to do them yourself!”

They ended up on the couch, where she was pretending, with some actual blows, to hit him as she made her declaration. He turned to his back, and noticed, almost painfully, that she was still sitting across his body.

He wanted to kiss her so badly that he knew if he didn’t move her off him in a second, she would also know how much he wanted to kiss her. He lifted her up, away from him and then he said, “What do you have around this place for dessert?”

She stood up to go get them some biscuits. She offered him one and said, “This is the only sweet thing in the whole flat.”

He said, “Not the only sweet thing.”

She held up the other cookie and said, “Well, no, this one, too.”

He had meant her. She could be so obtuse. He liked that about her. She was fresh, innocent, and unaffected. She was sweet. That was the perfect word to describe her.

“What are you going to do this summer?” she asked, taking small bites of her biscuit, so it would last longer.

“I need to find another job. My boss at the Library said that not enough students are here during the summer, so they won’t need my help, but that I have a job come fall,” he said.

She jumped up and down excited and said, “Join Theo and I! He got us jobs at a resort. It’s a wizarding resort! He was going to tell you about it tonight. Please say yes! It’ll be fun to spend the whole summer together.”

Her happiness was contagious. He said, “Don’t you usually go home for summer?”

“Mum is going to Nepal for something called, ‘Operation Smile’ where medical and dental people help underprivileged children obtain dental surgery. She’ll be gone all summer, and I can’t face the summer alone. I would go to the Burrow, but Ron and Harry’s Auror training goes on all year long, so they will still be in school this summer,” she explained.

He ate the rest of his biscuit, took the rest of hers, which she had been nibbling on like a mouse, and popped it in his mouth. He said, “That would be great.” He would have preferred it to be only him and her, but at least he would get to see her this summer. The other option was not to see her at all, and that was something he wouldn’t be able to tolerate. He decided he would tell her his feelings this summer. He was going to tell her he loved her.

They sat on her couch, side my side, and she placed her head on his shoulder. She said, “Tell me what you’re thinking right this very moment.”

He closed his eyes and said, “I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship.”

She looked at him and said, “That’s what you’re thinking?”

He smiled down at her and explained, “No, but what I’m thinking might jeopardize our friendship.”

“Tell me, please,” she said.

“I’m thinking that the little kiss we had today was nice. I was thinking I would like to do that again,” he admitted.

“Then do it,” she said back. Their eyes locked, and the air between them grew thick with an electric current, which passed from him to her, and back again.

The physical attraction Draco felt for her was second to the other feelings he had. He loved her heart and her soul. Her mind and her will to survive. He loved everything about her. He wanted her, that much was true, but it was more than that. Much more.

He had never wanted to kiss her more than he did right now. He leaned toward her, his head bent, and his mouth over hers. She didn’t push him away, slap him, or call him any foul names. Those were all good signs. He let his fingertips graze lightly over her cheekbone. He put his hand on the side of her head, and laced his fingers in her hair. She placed one hand on his neck. She wanted this, too.

The warmth of his breath was on her mouth. She opened it slightly. He settled his mouth on hers, and softly kissed her. The softness gave way to a harder pressure as her hand went from his neck to his hair. She pressed him closer, and he pulled her closer still. The tip of his tongue came out to skim her lips, and she tilted her head just enough, and she let out a small moan. That was an invitation if he had ever heard one. He parted her lips more and began to explore the inside of her mouth.

It was pure, sweet, wet, and right. What started as a hesitant kiss grew between them to mean so much more. His lips went from her mouth to her face, to her neck. He rained small kisses up and down her neck as he pulled her over to him, and settled her on his lap. She bunched the material at the front of his shirt in her fists. Her heart was thumping so loudly she was sure he could hear it. He kissed her as if he was a man who had been denied nourishment for too long. His mouth found hers once more, and they continued to kiss.

After too short a time, in his opinion, she pushed him away slightly. He didn’t want to do anything to frighten her, so he stopped.

“What will we do about Theo?” she asked.

He knew what she was asking. He said, “We’ll think of something, but Hermione, I want this. I want you. I do.”

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