A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 2: All Alone with Someone:

She let the warm water of the shower drift over her body. She felt anesthetized and confused. Why would someone kill her mother? More importantly, why would a Wizard kill her mother? Was it someone with a grudge against Hermione? These and other dark thoughts swirled around her mind, and mingled with another thought. She was finally alone. It was what she told everyone, even herself, that she wanted when she went into her little self-imposed exile more than three years ago. Now that the option of being alone was no longer an option, but a fact, she wasn’t sure she could face the world alone.

What’s more, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be alone anymore, and now it was too late.

She sat down in the tub, and cried, while the dirt, grim, soap and suds washed down the drain, swirling along with her tears, fears and pain.

Draco stood outside his bathroom door, torn. He was useless at times like these. Always was, and what was more, this was Hermione Granger. He had no words to comfort her. Would she even want comfort from him? He hadn’t seen her in three years. From what Potter had said, no one had seen her in that amount of time, not even her own mother.

Yet she was…in there crying for the woman.

When Draco’s father died last year, he didn’t shed a tear. He still hadn’t, and probably never would. His mother was still alive, and he might cry if she died, but he was unsure. He rarely ever cried. He couldn’t even remember the last time he cried.

Yes, he could. The night his best friend died, but he didn’t want to think about that right now. He stood up from his place outside the bathroom door and walked down the little hall, through his kitchen, to his sitting room. He picked up the only personal picture he had on display in his little house. It was a picture of Theodore Nott and himself, taken at University. They had their arms around each other, standing in their graduation robes, and they were smiling. He was happy back then. So was Theo.

He hadn’t heard her walk in the room, until she was standing right beside him. She took the picture from his hand and said, “You both looked so happy.”

“We were, back then,” he said. He took the picture back from her, as if it was precious, and he placed it back on the shelf above his telly.

She looked around the room, and said, “There aren’t any other personal affects in this room. No other pictures or the like. Why is that?”

“Are you a therapist now?” he asked, with no real malice.

“No, a professor of English Literature,” she said. He knew that. Apparently, his humour was lost on the girl. She stood in the middle of the room, wrapped in Draco’s old blue robe. She must have found it hanging from the door of the toilet.

“Shall I go back to your house and collect some clothing?” he asked.

“No, I’m fine,” she said. She continued to walk around the room, seemingly lost in thought and regret. She finally said, “Why do you live in a Muggle neighborhood?”

“Why do you?” he asked.

“I asked you first,” she chided. She sat on his couch.

“It pissed my father off,” he said, truthfully. “He disowned me anyway, when I became an Auror, so I thought, why not go for broke. Make him really regret the day I was born.”

“I heard about his death,” she said. She didn’t add an, “I’m sorry.” Draco was glad for that. He wouldn’t abide anyone being sorry that such an evil bastard died. “Do you have anything I may borrow to sleep in tonight? I’ll go back to my house tomorrow and collect some clothing.”

He looked at her strangely and said, “How long do you plan on staying?” He wasn’t aware this was a permanent, or even a semi-permanent, arrangement, even though he was the one who had brought her here.

She suddenly seemed embarrassed. She rose from the couch and said, “I don’t know what I meant. I’m sorry. My neighbour will see my car out front, and think I’m home anyway, so she’s bound to come looking for me when she reads in the paper about my mum. She’s been a sort of surrogate grandmother to me. I should probably go back tonight.” She started back toward the bathroom, where she left her clothing.

He didn’t want her to go, and he wasn’t sure why. No, he knew why, he just wasn’t ready to admit the reason. He said, “Hold on, Granger. Stay tonight and I’ll help you settle some things tomorrow. Anyway, I owled Potter while you showered and he owled back and he told me that he’s coming home tomorrow specifically to see you.”

“Where is he?” she asked.

My goodness, didn’t she even know that her former best friend had gotten married four days ago? He said, “His honeymoon.”

She looked slightly shocked. Then she said, “I think I recall getting an invitation. I don’t think I sent back my RSVP. Wow. Married.” She sat back down. She was without sensation, without feeling, in other words, she was numb. There was no other word to describe how she felt. Numb.

He walked to the only bedroom his little house possessed and he opened a couple of drawers. He found a long sleeve t-shirt, a pair of clean socks, and a pair of plaid pajama bottoms. He usually slept in only his boxers, so he didn’t know if these had even ever been worn. Then he walked over to his bed and pulled down the covers. He probably should change the sheets for her. He did that quickly, before taking the clothes to the other room. He threw them on the couch, beside her. She had the picture of him and Theo back in her hands. She was looking at it closely. He took it out of her hands, once again, and walked back over to the shelf. He placed it face down this time.

She said, “Do you miss him?”

He turned quickly. “Who?”

“Theo,” she answered.

Hell yes he missed him. He was his only friend. It was a valid question, but also a stupid question in his opinion, but since she was suffering right now, he would let it pass. He walked over to her and said, “Put these clothes on, and then get to bed. The bedroom’s beside the bathroom. The sheets are clean.”

She picked up the socks, and then to his surprise, she laughed. “White socks? White t-shirt? What happened to the all black attire that you used to wear?”

“I’ve expanded my horizon. Now I wear black and white,” he said with a small smile.

“Fine,” she said. She took the clothing and headed toward the bathroom. When she reached the door, she said, “But I’ll take the couch.”

She walked back in the living room a moment later, shirt too long, socks too big, pant legs dragging on the floor, hair still wet, and he gasped, because he thought she looked prettier than he had ever seen her look. She sat beside him and said, “What are we watching?”

He had the telly on, but just for noise. He had a book in his lap and he said, “I’m reading.”

“Oh,” she said. She saw that his bookshelves were well stocked. He said, “Help yourself to a book, or you can turn to a different program. The noise won’t bother me. I always have it on, for company.”

He realized how pathetic that sounded, and was going to retract the statement when she laughed and said, “I do that all the time. Pathetic, huh?”

“Not really,” he lied. She walked over to the bookshelf, but then said, “I think I’ll just turn in.”

“Well, goodnight,” he said. He continued to read. She walked back to the couch, lay down on one side, in almost a ball, her back to the room, her face hidden in the pillows. He said, “The bedroom is by the bathroom, remember?”

“I want the couch. I sleep on the couch at home most nights,” she said, turning so that she was facing the other direction. She looked over at him and she said, “Besides, I don’t want to put you out.”

“I won’t be put out, and the thing is, I sleep on the couch about half the time as well, so it’s not a big deal for me to sleep here tonight,” he revealed. She turned to her back, her knees bent so that her feet wouldn’t touch him. Instead of a verbal response that resembled speech, she started to cry again.

He placed his book down and stood up. She turned away from him again, and curled back into her ball. He went to the bedroom, found a blanket in the top of his closet, grabbed one of his pillows, and he walked back into the living room. He reached out to touch her shoulder. He just wanted to gain her attention, but instead of quickly touching her, and then removing his hand, he kept his hand where it was. He threw the blanket and pillow on the floor, sat down on the small piece of couch beside her curled legs, and he kept his hand on her arm. He rubbed her arm up and down, and said, “It’ll be alright.” He didn’t believe it would, and since she was an intelligent woman he knew she wouldn’t believe it either, but it seemed the thing to say.

They stayed like that for a long time, her silently crying, him beside her, lost in thought, that when her tears finally faded away, he looked at his watch and was shocked to see that it was after 1 am. He stood up, placed the blanket over her body, picked up the pillow and threw it on a chair, and he went to his bedroom. He kept the door open in case she might call out for him. You never know. She might need him.

He threw himself face down on his bed and went to sleep. It was the first night in a long time that he didn’t have a nightmare about Theo’s death. Instead, he had a nightmare about Hermione Granger, dark wizards, and the fact that once again, he couldn’t protect her.

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