A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 29: Feel me:


He looked at the clock for the fourth time. It was after 3 am. Why didn’t she come to bed? He heard her clean up all the broken glass at least an hour ago. He heard when she had turned the television on, because she had the sound way too loud, but that too stopped at least 45 minutes ago. Now there was nothing but silence. Perhaps she had fallen asleep on the couch. Perhaps he was lying here, waiting for her, anxious and fraught with fear, for nothing.


He turned from his side to his back, and that was when he saw the door open. He lay as still as he could when he felt her pull back the covers. She lay beside him, at the far edge of the bed. He turned to face her. She turned to face him.


“I feel like I’m dying inside,” she said softly.


“You aren’t dying,” he said back, “You’re just feeling.

“I don’t want to feel,” she said in such hushed tones that he struggled to hear.


Draco sighed, reached out in the dark, and grabbed her hand. He brought it to his mouth and kissed her fingertips. He said, “If you don’t feel, you’ll die. Feeling is living. Feeling is life. Feeling is believing. Feel me, Hermione. I feel you.”


She pulled her hand from his and turned back to her back. He remained facing her. She said, “I’ll never tell you some things.”


“Okay,” he said, confused. He hadn’t asked her to tell him anything.


“I won’t ever talk about the rape,” she said in a clipped tone.


“Okay.”


“So don’t ask.”


“I won’t.”


“I talked about that enough when my mother forced me into therapy after the war,” she told him.


Silence ensued that statement, and it was uncomfortable. He made a mental note never to ask her about the rape. He never wanted to know the gory details anyway. It was already something he had nightmares about, so why would he want to know the specifics? He wouldn’t. He didn’t. He said, “May I hold your hand again?”


“No.”


He thought, ‘Okay, be a bitch.’ He didn’t say that part aloud. To her he said, “I’m sorry.”


“No, I’m sorry,” she said, recognizing that she had been harsh with him. She explained, “It’s just that something was so familiar about what happened tonight. It reminded me of that day. Whether it was the primal fear, or the feeling of helplessness and terror, I don’t know, but it seemed so familiar. It felt like I was reliving that moment. I don’t ever want to feel that way again. So I can’t talk about tonight, because it reminds me of that night, so I request, respectfully, that you don’t try to talk about my feelings regarding tonight.”


“Fair enough,” he said. He really did think it was fair. He had a feeling that she was on the verge of something, however unspecific, and that she needed to break through. He wondered if she would talk about another painful time. He would find out. He asked, “Tell me about your dad.” He wasn’t sure he wanted to know, but something told him that she wanted to talk about it.


She turned to look at him. “Sometimes, I wouldn’t even want to go home because I didn’t want to face the fact that my dad was sick. My mother had her own way of coping. She would work all the time. I had my own way of coping. I would pretend he wasn’t there. Once I started Hogwarts, it was easier. I would spend holidays and summers with the Weasleys for the most part. I hardly ever went home. My mother didn’t seem to mind, and I’m sure there were times my father wasn’t as depressed, and he missed me, but he seemed to understand.”


“When did his depression start?” he asked.


“When I was really little. His moods would change so quickly. One moment he would be swinging me on the swing in the back garden, or reading me a book, or teaching me to ride my bike, and the next day I would come home from school and he would be holed up in his room for days.”


“My parents would fight about it at first. My mother thought he was drinking or something. She told him to get help or she would leave him. I used to pray that she would just do it…just take me far away from him. Then, I would feel guilty about it, because I would hear him crying in his bedroom. He was in pain, and I didn’t know what to do to help him. I was a helpless child, and he was a helpless adult. Now that I’m older, I see the tragedy of it all.”


“My mother started sleeping in the guestroom when I was nine. I understand that it must have been hard on her, but I think she should have tried harder. She should have had him committed or something. When I got older, I suggested that to her one time and she slapped my face. It was the only time she ever hit me my whole life, and we both stood there, staring at each other, shocked, and then I threw my arms around her and started to cry and I told her I was sorry. She started to cry too, and said that she was sorry as well.”


“I blamed her for so much, but that was wrong of me. It’s the same as blaming me for Theo’s depression. It wasn’t my fault, and it wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t Dad’s fault and it wasn’t Theo’s fault, but damn, Draco, whose fault was it?”


She placed both her hands over her face and started to cry. She rocked herself back and forth. “I have to blame someone! There has to be someone to blame.”

Draco didn’t have any words of wisdom to comfort her. She had already made a major breakthrough by realizing that it wasn’t her fault. He had nothing else to add. He reached over, removed one of her hands from her face and placed it on his heart. He pulled her toward him so she could rest her head on his chest.


“Whose fault is it?” she asked.


“Harry Potter’s?” Draco asked back.


Hermione laughed through her tears. She looked up at him and said, “What?”


“Well, I try to blame him for everything I can, whenever I can. It’s been somewhat of my life’s motto. When there’s no one else to blame, blame Potter. It’s worked well for me over the years,” he said with a straight face.


“You’re an utter nutter,” she said.


“A what?”


“An utter nutter, Harry Potter - hating, lunatic,” she said, sniffling. She placed her head back on his chest. “I think that I need to learn to forgive myself, and that’s the hard part, Draco. I have to forgive myself for feeling guilty about ignoring my dad when he was ill. I have to forgive myself for lying about him to people. I even lied about how he died. I feel bad that I felt ashamed about him. I need to stop feeling bad about things. I need to forgive my mother, because she did the best she could. At least she didn’t run away and hide, like I did, and most of all, I need to forgive Theo for killing himself.”


“Eureka,” Draco said.


“As in, I made a discovery?” she asked.


“Exactly, and you didn’t even break a single glass to do it,” he said.


“Just because I know what I need to do doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to do it,” she deduced.


“I’ll help,” he said. “Every time you need help, I’ll be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, and I have tons of glasses to break, and I won’t even charge you my usual professional fee.”


“Ha,” she laughed, “What’s your usual fee?”


“A kiss.”

“I might want to pay that,” she answered.


“Then I’ll amend my statement. I’ll charge you for every minute of every day and every piece of sage advice I give,” he said. She leaned over him, her hand on his bare chest, and she kissed his lips slowly, but surely, and much too fleeting for his liking, but he really hadn’t given her much advice this time except to blame everything on Potter, so this time it was on the house. He would collect a better kiss the next time.


“May I ask you a favour?” she inquired.


“You can ask, I may not oblige,” he said truthfully.


“Could we change sides of the bed, just for tonight? I know the first night I was here you told me that you slept on the right side of the bed, but so do I, and I think I would sleep better if we changed sides. Just for tonight, I promise,” she requested.


He let out a little chuckle and said, “You may not believe this, but I usually sleep on the left side. I just said that the first night because I was annoyed at you,” he admitted.


She frowned. “Why were you annoyed?”


“Truthfully?”


“Please.”


“Because you were here. Because you were sad. Because you were crying. Because you had the audacity to ask to sleep in my bed, when that is the exact place where I imagined you for three years. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s how I felt.” He was slightly embarrassed for admitting all of that.


“Oh,” she said back. He stood up and moved to the other side of the bed.


“Move over, you’re on my side,” he said. She moved over to the right side of the bed. He lay down in her previous place, the bed warm from her body. When he turned to look at her, he sighed. “I’m sorry I was so blunt before. I blamed you for being here, even though here was exactly where I hoped you would be almost every night while you were gone. Crazy, huh?”


She admitted, “I used to turn my extra pillow long ways and hold onto it at night and imagine that I was holding you.”


“I can top that,” he said with a slight chuckle, “Every time I had sex with a woman, I would try to imagine it was you. It never really worked, though. Pathetic, right?” He reached over and played with a long strand of her hair, twirling it around in his fingers. “Especially since we only made love that one time.”


“I have something to admit that’s even more pathetic,” she said. “I never had sex the whole time I was gone. I didn’t go out on one single date. Men would ask me out and I would say no. I never once had people over to my house, except for my mum and Harry, occasionally. No friends. No work colleagues. Never a date. The last time I ever made love, well, in a way the only time I ever made love was with you three years ago.”


He was shocked by her admission, but his shock quickly turned to something else. Pity? No, not quite. Sadness. That’s what it was. He felt sad for her. It was all of her own making, but he still felt sad for her


“I’m not a pillow, but you can hold me if you’d like,” he said. He held open his arms. She tucked herself into his side; his arms went around her, her left arm draped across his chest, and her head rested on his shoulder.


“You’re not as comfortable as a pillow,” she joked, “But almost as smart.”


“Yes, let’s call the man who is being all sweet, nice and comforting, a dummy,” he said sardonically. She smiled. He couldn’t see her smile, but somehow, he felt it.


“Goodnight, Draco.”


He smiled, too, and she felt it by the way his arms tighten around her. “Goodnight, Hermione.”


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