A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 20: Graduation and Grey Skies:


Where was the sky? All Draco could see were layers upon layers of grey clouds, sitting upon more layers of grey clouds. It if wasn’t October, Draco would have thought they were snow clouds, but even in cold and rainy England, it didn’t usually snow in October.


There wasn’t a hint of blue anywhere above him. Just grey. As far as the eye could see, there were grey clouds. The wind was blowing so hard that the tops of the trees went back and forth. When he first sat down he honestly almost left because of the harsh wind, but then he looked at the note in his pocket, and he knew that no matter what, he would stay. He asked him to come, so he would see what the man had to say, and then he would leave.


A flag on a flagpole in the middle of the University grounds was proof positive that the wind was a lethal thing. The flag flipped and switched wildly in the wind, the metal grommet holding the flag to the pole hitting the metal of the pole, which caused steady, rhythmic ‘ting’ as metal hit metal.


Where was he? His note said he would be here at 2:30 and it was 2:29, so technically, he wasn’t late, but Draco wouldn’t wait much past the half hour mark. If Theo missed him, it was his own damn fault.


His note was very cryptic, almost ambiguous. All it said was, “Please meet me at the courtyard of the University at 2:30 on Tuesday. I have something important to tell you. It’s about your letter.”


The letter. Draco should never have sent that letter, but by all that was holy, Theo deserved to know the truth. Even more than that, Draco wanted to hurt the man that hurt him. Plain and simple. Draco was tired of being the bigger man. Being the bigger man got him nowhere. Being the bigger man lost him the love of his life. Being the bigger man was for fools, and Draco Malfoy was no longer a fool.


Did they really just graduate five short months ago? He looked over at the tree where Hermione had insisted talking their picture. She sent him two copies a month later, even though a month after graduation they were no longer speaking to one another. He kept the one of him and Theo out in the open, but the one of him and Hermione was hidden away. It was special, and for his eyes only.


He remembered her excitement that day. As they were preparing for the ceremony, she told Draco that she felt as if she was floating on air. She felt that she had no worries and that for once in her life she was happy and carefree. She had a sense of accomplishment. The day she had worked so hard for had finally come. Graduation.


Then Draco ruined that day for her, just as Theo ruined it for him. It seemed right that Theo finally got his comeuppance. Hermione had suffered. Draco had suffered, so the man, whose suffering was always so apparent, because he wore it like a badge over his heart, finally got his, and Draco no longer cared. He hoped the letter he sent to Theo caused him to hurt as much as she hurt, and as much as Draco hurt. He was tired of Theo Nott and his pain. Now he knew what real pain was. All that crying alone in his room and his dark moods were just for sympathy.


Except, Draco knew deep in his heart that it wasn’t. He knew that Theo was in true pain, and a small, miniscule part of him regretted sending him that letter. Still, he had a right to know. He had a right to know what his bastard of a father had done to his supposed love of his life. His fiancée. Just the thought of calling her that made Draco want to gag.


He looked over at a tree and he could see her in his mind’s eye just as clearly as he saw her that day. She walked around the grounds of University after the ceremony, spotted Harry and Ron talking to her mum over by a tree, and she ran to them. Potter twirled her around. Weasley kissed her. Draco felt a pang of jealousy. He looked over and saw that Theo, who was talking to a group of fellow graduates, looked almost as upset as he did at the fact that her two best friends at that moment were not them, but Potter and Weasley, just like old times.


Did she know that Draco was going to tell her that he loved her that day? Would she have cared? What would she have said in response?


His biggest regret, and by far his biggest mistake, was that he hadn’t fought hard enough for her. He never gave her a choice or a chance. As soon as Theo told him that he was in love with her and was going to tell her as much, Draco took himself out of the equation, and now, like some twisted, jilted bastard, he sent Theo that note in the hope of breaking them up.


Draco was a coward on so many levels, and he was ashamed.


Draco reminisced to graduation day, to how he watched Theo talking to that group of graduates, and how he knew in his heart at that moment that Theo would mess things up for him and Hermione, and Draco truly felt that he hated him that day. He really did. They had just graduated, they had gone out to the grounds, Hermione forced them to take some pictures, and then Theo had to ruin it all.


How did Draco go from happy and hopeful one day, to sad and lonely the next? Was this the way the world balanced itself? Now that Theo had Hermione, was his depression gone? Was he happy now, and did that mean that Draco was now the one that had to be unhappy?


Looking back on graduation, he should have known it was be too good to be true. He should have known some unseen force of unhappiness would temper the elated feeling he possessed.


Before Hermione left that day to have dinner with her friends and her mum, she walked up to Draco and said, “I have a graduation present for you.”


He smiled and said, “I love presents.” He didn’t have one for her. He was going to tell her he loved her that day, and that was the only thing on his mind.


“Close your eyes,” she said.


He obliged, and he felt her hold his hand, and then place something in it. He opened his eyes and saw a small, plain box with a string ribbon around it. He removed the ribbon, opened the box, and there was a white gold watch, with his initials embossed on the face, along with a diamond for the number three, and an emerald for the number nine. On the back, she had his name engraved, along with the date of graduation. He looked down at the watch now. He never took it off. He rolled it around his wrist, and then looked at the time. It was now 2:44. Theo was late.


He recalled that after she gave him the watch, he kissed her. He kissed her lips softly, rejoicing in the billowy warmth of her mouth. He touched her cheek and said, “Meet me back here, at this bench, after your dinner with your mum and friends, at seven tonight. I have something very important to tell you.”


All she did was smile and nod.


Draco never showed up. This was the bench were they were to meet. How ironic that Theo would want to meet Draco here now.


Theo had a present for Draco that day as well. He sat back and closed his eyes, and remembered it clearly as Theo said, “I have a surprise for you.” They had just taken their pictures under the tree, and Draco looked from Hermione to Theo, as Hermione shrugged and placed her camera back in a little black bag.


“Okay, what?” Draco asked.


Theo pointed over Draco’s shoulder with a slight nod to his head. Draco turned his head around and he saw Theo’s mother standing by a tree, and then he noticed the woman standing next to her. It was his mother. He had barely spoken to her in four years. He had only seen her three times in those same four years, yet here she was, on his graduation day, and she was smiling.


“That’s my present for you,” Theo said.


He looked back at Theo, confused, and then he saw the bright smile on Hermione’s face. She leaned over, placed her hand on his arm, and kissed his cheek. “I’m so happy for you that she’s here. Go say hello to her.”


Draco’s heart felt ripped in two. He had missed his mother. He wanted to go talk to his mother, but he didn’t want to waste one moment NOT talking to Hermione. He took her hand, held it tightly, and said, “After I see her, I really need to speak with you alone. Remember, I have something very important to tell you. Promise me that you’ll meet me tonight.” She agreed again, and he turned and walked toward his mother.


After a tentative hello and a stiff hug, she handed him an envelope. She said, “That’s just a little something to tell you that I’m proud of your accomplishment.”


“From you and Father?” he asked.


“From me, Son,” she said. He understood.


He looked beyond the tree as Hermione was again talking to Potter and Weasley. He saw Theo speaking with Hermione’s mum. He didn’t know what else to say to his mother. He took her to the same empty bench, and they sat down. “How’s Father?”


“He’s well,” she said. “He’s up for parole, you know. He’s cooperated with the Ministry all these years, so they are thinking of granting him an early release,” she said.


“Good for him,” he said.


“Draco, you must learn to forgive him,” she said.


“Mother, I don’t want to talk about him, not today of all days,” he said.


Therefore, they talked about the weather. It was his graduation day, he had barely spoken to her in years, and his mother talked to him about the weather. She asked him if he had a job lined up. He told her no. She told him that her graduation present should help him until he found a job. She asked a few other questions, and he answered them in the same clipped, automatic tones. Soon, he stood up and said, “Thank you for coming, Mother. I love you.”


She seemed to want the reunion over as much as he did, for she stood, put on her best, plastic smile, and she walked away. He wasn’t sad to see her go, but he was glad that she had come.


Theo walked over to the bench and said, “That was a short visit.”


All Draco could utter was a resounding, “Yes it was.”


“Hermione went on to her mum’s house. I told her perhaps we would meet her there later.” Theo explained. Draco took a deep breath in, glad that the day was over, but little did he know that not only was graduation over, but soon his life would feel as if it was over as well.


Because it was at that moment that the bomb detonated.


END OF PART II

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