A Feeling Unknown

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Part III:


Chapter 21: Collide:


Draco knew that everything that had happened was partially his fault. The first time he was going to tell Hermione that he loved her, two years prior to graduation, he made the mistake of asking Theo how he felt about Hermione, before telling the man how he himself felt about her. He should have told Hermione he loved her first, and then worried about Theo. The second time, at graduation, if Theo had been as good a friend to Draco as Draco was to Theo, Theo would have asked Draco how he felt about Hermione, but then again, Theo always was a selfish person. He had to know how Draco felt about Hermione. A blind person would have seen that he loved her. However, Theo didn’t care. Theo never really cared about anyone but himself, and the irony was that he didn’t even really care that much for himself. It was also an irony that Draco loved Theo more than Theo loved Theo. More than Theo loved Draco. Because it took a big man, with the capacity of great love, to give up what he loved for a friend.


And that was what Draco did. He did it the moment that Theo said, “As soon as we get to Hermione’s house for the graduation party, I’m going to tell her that I love her.”


A blinding, searing pain ripped through Draco’s heart and shattered the fragile organ into an almost irreparable state. He couldn’t even look up. In fact, he had to shut his eyes tight, and remind himself to breathe. His lungs felt on the verge of collapse. He finally looked at the man, who he thought was his best friend, and he said, “What?”


“I love her, Draco. I have for a long time. I need her. I feel empty without her. Sometimes I think she’s the only good thing I have in my life, besides my friendship with you.”


“But,” Draco started, not able to continue. His look pleaded with his friend to understand. He was silently shouting to the other man, ‘But she’s mine! I love her! I have for a long time! I gave her up once for you and I will not do it again! You waited too long! You had your chance two years ago!’ He said all these things, as well as curses, in his head. He dropped his gaze to the ground and said, “Why now?”


“I can’t wait any longer. I have agreed to go to a special hospital. Hermione’s idea really, and the one condition was that I would only go if she took me. I’m going to tell her on the way there,” Theo said.


Draco stood up and said, “My god, you’re good, I’ll give you that.”


Theo looked confused and he stood up as well. “What do you mean?”


“You are a master manipulator, just like your dear old dad. Oh, look, I’m sad, everyone do my bidding. Gee, I don’t want to carry on with living if you don’t do what I say. Well you know what, Theo? I’m sick of your up and downs. I’m sick of you not taking responsibility for your own happiness, and your own sorrow. You’ll make that poor girl feel so guilty that she’s liable to agree to anything. That’s not love, Theo!”


“I love her, and I don’t care what you think,” Theo spat. “And if you think I want to feel the way I feel, then you are sorely mistaken. I would give my right arm to feel happiness again. I hate that all my days are dark and grey, and they bleed into other dark and grey days. And I don’t care if you believe me or not, but I’m in love with her, and I want to get better, for her, Malfoy, for her!”


“You should want to get better for yourself!” Draco shouted. “Besides, she doesn’t love you.”


“I think she does,” Theo said.


“She loves you, but she’s not in love with you!” Draco shouted.


People began to stop and stare at the two men.


“We’ll see,” Theo said. “I’ll let her know how I feel, and if she feels the same, then I’m going to ask her to marry me. I need this, Draco. I need something real to hold on to, because sometimes I feel like I’m a drowning man, with a lead weight around my neck, and I think she can save me.”


“Don’t put that off on her! That’s not fair! You have to save yourself!” Draco turned from the man and then turned back just as suddenly and said, “Don’t you dare make her think that she’s your salvation!”


“Why not? You’ve told her that she was yours, so why can’t I tell her the same?” he asked. Draco shook his head, not understanding, until Theo continued, “You told her that weeks ago, when you were sick. I heard you telling her that in your room. You told her that she was your salvation. Why can that be true for you, and not for me?”


Theo sat back down and hung his head. “Why can’t you be happy for me? If I can’t be happy, then at least you could be.”


Draco could be happy if the other man would just step off the face of the earth! He shouted, “You aren’t good enough for her! I may not be, either, but at least I recognize the fact! You go around all the time saying that you don’t want to live, that you have nothing to live for, and that you’re unhappy, well you know what, Nott? People make their own happiness! It’s called freewill and everyone has it! If you don’t want to be happy, then no one can force you to be happy!”


He tightened his hands into fists at his sides and bellowed, “Fine, you want her, go and tell her so! I’m done! I won’t stand in your way! You gave me a graduation present; well this is mine to you! If you think she can make you happy, go be happy, but leave me the hell alone! If you want to tell her you love her, go do it! If she’s the fool I think she is, she’ll probably selflessly tell you that she loves you, too, and the two of you will be happy together, I’m sure. If you don’t want her and instead you decide that you don’t want to live, then go crawl in a hole somewhere and die! It’s called freewill! ”


He wasn’t even sure why he was so angry with Theo. He did know why he was so angry with himself, because once again he was too late, just as he was too late that day at Hogwarts. He had saved her life, but still, in many ways he was too late. He was always too late.


He ran away, at a disarming speed, the sights and sounds of the people and places of the University flashed by him in a blur of colours and noise. He didn’t meet Hermione that day. She had written to him, but he never read any of her letters, and he didn’t answer any, either. He almost sent the photographs back to her when she sent them to him, but now he was glad that he didn’t. He didn’t tell anyone where he was. With the money his mother gave him for graduation, he bought a little one-room bungalow in a Muggle neighbourhood, and put a down payment on a black Porsche. Since Hermione didn’t know he was in a Muggle neighbourhood, she had sent the pictures by Owl. He accepted them, but wrote her a note back telling her never to contact him again.


No explanation. She must have thought that he was a horrible person. She probably still thought that. Maybe he was a horrible person.


A month after graduation, Theo sent him a note that said, “I asked her to marry me and she said yes.”


That was when Draco decided to be the bastard that he always knew he could be. He wrote a letter to Theo. In the letter, he told Theo everything about Hermione’s attack at Hogwarts. He knew Hermione would never do it, and since she always expounded the positive properties of truthfulness, and getting things out in the open, he didn’t feel the least bit guilty telling Theo the truth. Hell, if Theo had been truthful just once in his life, he would have remembered the whole thing himself.


Draco told Theo that his father was the one who had raped Hermione. He told Theo that he knew that he must remember that, down deep inside, because that had to be the only reason he ran away that day. He wrote that although Hermione might forgive him for it, Draco never would.


Yet here Draco sat, five months after graduation, after having agreed to meet the man he said he would never forgive. If he met him for no other reason, he at least wanted to know how Hermione was doing.


The wind blew harder. Draco looked back at his watch, the one from Hermione. It now read 2:51. Theo wasn’t coming. The selfish git made Draco come all the way out here, in the cold and wind for nothing. Draco didn’t give shite. Theo probably wanted to invite him to the wedding or something. He stood up and reached in his pocket for his keys. He was going home. He was going to wash his hands of Theo Nott for the last time. As he reached in his pocket for his keys the wind blew his hair in his eyes, and he didn’t see as he ran right into someone. He dropped his keys. He reached for the person, his hands going to their upper arms instinctively, and he said, “Pardon.”


Then he froze. The person bent down and picked up his keys. She handed them back to him. It was the last person he expected to see, and the only person he ever wanted to see.


It was Hermione.


She said, “I’ve come to tell you that Theo won’t be meeting with you today. The note asking you to come was really from me. I was afraid you wouldn’t see me if I asked to see you as myself, so I pretended that Theo wanted to see you.”

He had yet to say a word beyond the word, ‘pardon’, and he was still too shell-shocked to speak. It didn’t matter for she pressed on anyway. “I’ve been sitting in my car across the street, trying to get the courage to come over and speak with you, and when I saw that you were finally leaving, I knew I couldn’t miss my chance. Please, will you talk to me? I know you must hate me, but I really want to see you.”


“I don’t hate you.” Damn, it was time. It was bloody well time. He had to say it. He had nothing else to lose, because he felt he had already had lost it all. Keeping it to himself would serve no purpose. “I love you.”


“I love you, too.”


Did they really just proclaim their love for one another? Was it that easy, painless, and simple? Draco knew he should be cautious, hesitant, but he rushed to her, placed his right hand behind her head, grasped her face with his left one, and he kissed her hard on the mouth. After a brief moment, he brought his face back to hers, and then thumbed a tear that journeyed down her face. The hand that held her neck came to her other cheek, and brushed away another tear.


“Why are you crying?”


“Because you love me,” she explained.


“So it would seem.” He smiled. “You love me, too.”

“I have forever,” she answered. She threw her arms around his neck and whispered in his ear, “I broke it off with Theo today.” She pushed away from him, and let her fingertips graze his cheekbone. “I saw that you wrote to Theo, and I don’t know why, but that letter gave me hope that you wanted to see him, that you might be receptive to seeing me. I was so afraid you would turn me away. Why didn’t you meet me after graduation?”


He took her to the bench and told her everything. He explained to her what happened two years prior, the summer they fell in love. He explained to her what Theo told him on graduation. When he was done with explanations he said, “I’m so sorry. I should have told you all of that before now. Do you forgive me?”


“Yes.”


“Do you think Theo will forgive me?” he asked.


“Perhaps, in time. He has no reason to hate you. I broke up with him because it was the right thing to do, not because of you. I wasn’t in love with him. I only agreed to marry him because he agreed to get help, but he’s worse than ever, and he doesn’t seem to think he needs help. It may make me a selfish person, but I can’t exist only to help him. I have to have my own life.”


“But what did he say when he read the letter?” he asked.


She shook her head, not understanding. “I don’t know. I don’t know if he read it yet. I arranged to meet you here, and then I told him that I was meeting you and that I was going to tell you that I loved you. I don’t even know if he read the letter, although I am sure he probably did. What did it say?”


He was astounded. What did it say? She wanted to know what it said. “You said you saw it. You mean you didn’t read it?”


“It wasn’t addressed to me.”


He shut his eyes, and knew that once again he had screwed up. What should have been the happiest day of his life…the day he finally told her that he loved her, was marred by the fact that he hurt his best friend of over twenty years, and it wasn’t even necessary. All he had to do was to tell Hermione he loved her, and she would have been his. He didn’t have to ruin Theo’s life in the process.


Should he tell Hermione what he wrote, or should he keep it a secret? He didn’t want to lose her, and if he told her the truth, he might. Therefore, he didn’t. He wouldn’t tell her. He brought her up against his body, and settled his mouth upon hers. His lips teased hers, until they opened, and then the tip of his tongue sought the warmth and reassurance of a deep, meaningful kiss. She bunched the front of his jacket into her fists and surrendered her need with his want, parting her mouth so that he could further enjoy its wet heat.


He shifted her slightly in his arms, so that his angled hips leaned against her belly, and he lifted his mouth from hers and said, “I want to make love to you.”


“I don’t know what to do,” she said, her face red with a hint of blush. “I’m not very good at these things.” She looked down.


He wanted to make a joke, but this moment was too holy, too special, so to relay her fear, he wrapped her inside his coat, his arms trapping her body in his hold, and he said, “You know I love you. I won’t hurt you. I just want to show you how much I love you.”


“It’s just that, besides what happened at Hogwarts, I’ve never had sex before,” she blurted out. She felt embarrassed.


“That wasn’t sex,” he stated. It was something sinister, and dark, and unholy, but it wasn’t sex. He asked, “What about you and Theo?”


She shook her head no.


“It doesn’t matter,” he said, holding her close, his lips in her hair. “We won’t be having sex. We’ll be making love.”


She pushed away and he couldn’t help but smile. She bit her lip and found that she had nothing to say. “I’m glad you came today,” she finally said.


“I’m glad you came,” he said back. He started walking, with his arm tightly around her shoulder, and he said, “Can we go to my house?”


“I’d rather go to my flat,” she answered.


“Does Theo live there with you?” It occurred to him that he knew very little of them as of late.


“No.” She headed toward her car, his hand in hers. She turned to him and said, “One more thing, what was in the letter you sent to Theo?”

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