A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 33: Photographs and Patterns:

“How old were you in this picture?” Draco asked. They had been at Hermione’s childhood home for over two hours, and they were presently upstairs in her mother’s room, sorting through photographs and papers. Hermione turned from her place at her mother’s desk, leaned over and looked at the picture in question.

Draco was sitting on the floor, his back against the opened closet door, and he held up the picture for her. She joined him on the floor, took the picture, turned it around and in her mother’s neat handwriting she saw the words: Hermione, July 1980, Ten Months Old. “I was only ten months old in that one.” She handed him back the picture, he looked at the back as well, and then laughed.

“Sorry, I didn’t look at the back,” he stated. He studied the picture a bit longer and said, “Your hair was long and curly even as a little baby. Not even a year old, and your hair is to your shoulders.”

She nodded and said, “I’ve always had a lot of hair.”

He smiled at her, touched her hair, and said, “I’ve always loved your hair. I used to wonder what it felt like back in school.”

She took the photo from him and placed it in the pile of the ones she was going to save and said, “That’s why you always made fun of it back then, right?”

“It was subterfuge, my dear. I had to pretend to hate you so that you wouldn’t know that I was secretly in love,” he joked.

“Is that why you acted like you hated Harry and Ron, too?”

He made a funny face and said, “That was true and unadulterated hate.”

“I think you were much more hateful to me, than to them,” she pointed out.

“As I said, it was all an act.” He pulled the box over to his lap and pulled out more pictures. There were Muggle pictures from every year of her life. He smiled at a few of them. It wasn’t really true that he loved her in school. He probably did ‘hate’ her, although hate was not really the right word. It didn’t matter. He knew he didn’t hate her now.

He laughed when he saw a picture of a naked Hermione, just a few months old, on a blanket. He put it under her nose as she was looking at other pictures and said, “Naked and on a bear skin rug! You should be ashamed. Perhaps we should recreate this photo when we get home.” They both laughed and then he said, “You had a head full of hair even at,” he turned the picture around to look at the writing on the back, “four months old!”

“That’s a blanket, not a bear skin rug,” was all she said back. She smiled then and asked, “Were you bald as a baby or something? Is that why you’re so obsessed with the fact that I had so much hair?”

He grimaced, put that picture in her pile, and then said, “Fine, I was bald as a doorknob until I was two years old.”

She reached out, touched his hair and said, “I seriously can’t picture you bald.”

“Good, because I never will be again,” he announced.

She laid her head on his shoulder and pulled out a picture of her father when he was young. She said, “Wasn’t he good looking? That was taken when he was just seventeen. He had dark hair and striking blue eyes. I got my brown eyes from my mum.” Then she repeated, “Wasn’t he good looking?”

Draco joked, “I’m not qualified to say. I’m a man and other men simply don’t see their fellow men as good looking or not. Maybe gay men do, but not other men. It’s something innate, in our genes, I think.”

“You’re so stupid,” she said. She flicked his nose with her fingers. He frowned at her. She placed the picture of her father on top of the pile of pictures she wanted to take with her back to Draco’s house, stood up, and placed them on her mother’s desk. Draco put the other pictures back in the box, closed the lid, and placed the box back in the closet.

“I wonder what I should do with this house,” Hermione asked. “I mean, it was put in my name a long time ago, before she died even, but I don’t think I ever want to live here, but maybe I should. I bet you would like to get rid of me and get your bachelor pad back.” She fingered a letter opener on the desk.

“Yes, you’re seriously cramping my style,” Draco said back to her. “I haven’t had a date since, oh, eight months ago.”

She turned to him quickly and said, “I’ve been staying with you for only three weeks.”

“Then I guess you aren’t cramping my style,” he said back. “Bachelor pad, indeed. This isn’t the 1960’s, Granger. No one says, ‘bachelor pad’. I think you should stay with me as long as you want.” He started to say ‘forever’, but changed his mind at the end.

She stretched and said, “I should go through the kitchen, and throw out the old food before we leave. I feel like we got a lot done.” In reality, all they had done was boxed up a few things from her old bedroom, these pictures from her mother’s room, a couple of pieces of jewelry from her mother’s dresser drawer, and some of Hermione’s old clothes, which she said should still fit, even if they were out of style.

They started down the stairs, her treasures in boxes, when Draco nodded to a door at the end of the hallway. “What’s in that room?”

“That was my dad’s room,” she said. “It used to be their bedroom, but remember, I told you that my mum moved to the guestroom when his depression started.” Suddenly, she dropped the boxes she was holding. She stared at the door. She almost looked like she was in a trance. Draco placed his boxes down and walked up to her.

“What’s wrong, love?” he asked.

She didn’t say anything. He started to reach for her, but she evaded his hand and walked down to the closed door of her father’s room. She placed one hand on the dark wooden paneled door, and then the other, and then her forehead.

“Oh, Draco,” she said. “It’s a pattern.”

He walked up behind her. He didn’t know what was wrong, and he didn’t know what she meant. He put his right hand next to her right hand, and his left hand next to her left hand. He nudged her hair aside with his nose, and then put his chin on her shoulder and said again, directly in her ear, “What’s wrong?”

Without turning around she said, “I know what brought on my dad’s depression. I just now remembered. Why did I forget? How could I forget?” She turned toward him and threw her arms around his neck. He held her waist. She pushed herself away from him and opened the door to the room. It was dark, the blinds shut and the curtains drawn. She turned on the light, and then opened the curtains and the blinds. The room had the odor of a room that was long ago abandoned, similar to the smell of a dark, dank attic, or a moldy, long forgotten basement. She turned on a light on a chest of drawers and walked deeper in the room.

Draco stayed at the threshold, unsure how to continue. Was she going to enlighten him with her memory, the way she had just ‘enlightened’ the room, or was she to keep her epiphany to herself?

She walked around the room. It looked as if her mother hadn’t touched a thing from right after her father died. He died right in this room. On that bed. After his funeral, Hermione heard her mother crying in this room. Hermione stood in the doorway, as her mother dusted the furniture, stripped and then remade the bed, cleaned away the blood stains, swept the floors, and then she moved Hermione out of the doorway, closed the door, and said, “At least it’s clean now.”

Hermione thought at the time that was the oddest thing for her mother to say and do. Her father shot a hole in his head, right on that bed, and if it was Hermione, she would have burned everything in the room, but her mother merely cleaned it. She thought it was odd that she cried and cleaned, but then kept everything the same all these years. She walked deeper in the room, and turned around slowly. She looked out the windows. Her father’s room faced the front of the house. It got the morning sun, which probably never had a chance to shine on these four walls, since the blinds were always shut, and the curtains usually closed.

Hermione walked over to Draco and said, “When I was five, my father’s mother killed herself. I just remembered that. I didn’t know at the time that was how she died. I barely remember her. I was told that she was ill, and died, but later, after he killed himself, my mum told me that my granny killed herself, too.”

Draco took her hand. He thought it was odd that so many people in Hermione’s life had killed themselves, and he wondered if that was the reason, she went off the deep end after Theo. He tried to pull her out of the room, but she resisted. She twisted her hand from his and turned back toward the room. With her back toward Draco she said, “My granny was badly burned as a teenager. She was sitting too close to a fireplace, and her dress caught on fire. She suffered with bad burns on her back and her legs. She became addicted to painkillers early on, and was insecure because she had some physical scars. After she had my dad and then his sister, she was in and out of hospitals.” Hermione turned back around and said, “I really don’t remember her, except that she had long curly hair, and her name was Helen, and she was so pretty.”

Hermione sat down on a cedar chest that was at the end of the bed. Draco didn’t want to enter this room for some reason. It gave him a creepy feeling, but he let that slide as he entered and sat next to her. If she needed to remember, and she needed to talk, he would let her, without saying a word, and without any qualms.

Hermione continued. “When I was little, my dad finally had her committed to a psychiatric hospital. You see, along with the addiction to the pills, she was depressed, from years of physical pain, and from the psychological scars brought on by her accident. It was while she was in the hospital that last time that she took an overdose of her medication. She had been hording them for weeks, not really taking them when they gave them to her, and then one night she took them all and she killed herself. She was in too much pain to keep going on.”

Hermione started to cry. Draco placed one hand lightly on her back, but she shrugged it off, and then said, “Sorry.” He shook his head. It was okay by him if she didn’t want touched, as long as it was just a temporary thing.

She stood up and said, “It’s a pattern, don’t you see? She was depressed; she killed herself, which brought around my dad’s depression! It was right after she died that he started having his ‘dark days’ and he started becoming depressed! Then, when he died, I think I might have suffered a bit from depression, but I never admitted it. Then, Theo’s death exacerbated my problem! When I ran away, I didn’t run away from all of you, or my mum!” She had tears running down her face and she clenched her fists tightly at her sides and said, “I was hiding from depression! I was trying to run away from what I was afraid I would become! I was afraid of becoming one of them! I didn’t want to be my granny, my dad, or Theo! I WAS suffering from depression, and I was afraid, so I stopped! I stopped living! I stopped feeling! Oh, Draco, I stopped!”

She brought her hands up to her face and covered her eyes and cried some more. He took a chance, and walked up to her. He reached a tentative hand toward her, and she crumbled at his feet. He barely had time to catch her, and in fact, he collapsed down with her. He held her tightly and rocked her back and forth.

“I was afraid I would end up like them,” she finally said.

“But you didn’t,” he reasoned, “and you won’t, and do you know why? Because you’re stronger than them.”

“Don’t say that!” she spat, pushing away from him. “Don’t say they weren’t strong! They couldn’t help how they felt, how they reacted, and what they did!”

“I don’t care,” Draco said as he stood. He walked around her as she sobbed sitting at his feet. “You are stronger. You wouldn’t have turned out like them, because you had a support system that they didn’t have, and you had me.”

“But they had people. I might still turn out like them,” she said, in fear. That was what it boiled down to, and that was her biggest fear. What if she let the feelings run amuck, and take control and possession of her, and she drowned in her sorrow and pain. She didn’t feel strong. Draco was wrong. She was weak. She said, “I’m not strong. I’m not. I’m not strong enough for this.”

He kneeled beside her and said, “You are the strongest person I know, with one of the strongest wills to survive and live that I have ever known. I don’t mean that there was anything missing in their characters, and I don’t mean to put them down, but you are stronger, because you have finally recognized the pattern, and you’re going to stop it from repeating. You already have.”

“And it took my mother’s death for me to see it,” she cried.

“No, it took your own fortitude. It took your heart and brain. You would have figured it out eventually, but you know what, Granger?” He stood up and gave her his hand. He pulled her to stand beside him and said, “If one good thing can come from your mum’s death, when nothing good came from your grandmother’s, your father’s, or Theo’s, then maybe that makes this balance out a bit. It’s not that it makes it right or like something good came from her murder, because nothing good comes from evil, but it means that her life continues through you, and instead of her death being your ruination, it’s your rebirth.”

She frowned, and then sighed. She hugged him close and said, “You are a walking inspirational book, Malfoy.”

“I really am,” he said with a laugh. “I really am.”

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