A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 36: What’s Normal?

He held her tighter and longer than he had ever held her in his life. He seriously wasn’t certain he could ever let her go. It was apparent that she felt the same, since she had not yet let go of him either. He finally loosened his arms, brought one hand up to stroke her hair, placed the other hand on her face, pushed her, just an infinitesimal amount, away from him, and he finally said what he had wanted to say the moment he walked into the bedroom. He said, “I’m so sorry.”

“Why? You didn’t attack me. You may have had a tantrum, and that was a bit extreme, but nothing else is your fault and I won’t let you take the blame for it.” She tucked her face into his chest and continued. “Oh, Draco, I know it sounds crazy, but it was Theo’s father. I know it was. I just know it. Harry thinks I’m crazy, but I’ll never forget that man’s voice as long as I live. I’m not even sure I would remember what he looked like, as crazy as that sounds.” She moved from his embrace to sit on the bed, pulling him close to sit beside her. “I’ve blocked out most of those memories, and the truth is that I kept my eyes closed during most of my attack back at Hogwarts, but I couldn’t block out the things he said to me. I remember each word to this day, and I know it was him.”

“I believe you,” he assured. He brought her hand up to his mouth and kissed her wrist. “You simply have to stay here now, for your own protection and for my peace of mind, but I went back to your mum’s house this evening and put up some extra wards, so as soon as we catch the bastard, the house will be ready for you.”

“You understand why I want to live there, don’t you?” she asked.

“Not really, no,” he admitted, “but I’m trying to understand, and I’m trying to be less self-centered, and more focused on you and not me, but it’s a hard concept, because I’ve been selfish most of my life.”

At first she thought he was joking, though he seemed sincere, but even with sincerity she found that statement amusing. His admission of egocentricity made her smile, and after the day she had been through, she needed to smile. “I love you.” It was all she could think of to say.

“It’s high time you realized that, because I’m pretty special,” he said with a sardonic grin. She rolled her eyes.

“I’m glad you’re now able to be less self-absorb,” she joked, with his statement about ‘being special’. “May we talk about us for a moment, and not just you?” she asked.

“Talking about ‘us’ is my second favourite subject after talking about myself,” he said with a smirk, “So go at it.”

“I want us to have something real and long lasting,” she began, “but I don’t want to become reliant on you for my safety or happiness.”

“Okay,” he sighed. He would like nothing more than to rely on her for his safety and happiness, but then again, he was trying to focus on her, right?

“I think I need some normalcy,” she stated.

“That sounds boring and lonely, and I don’t want that,” he said. “I’m just trying to be truthful with you,” he added when he saw her disapproving look. “I’ll try to be supportive, but bugger this, Hermione; I’ve waited so long for you. I waited while you were just my friend, I waited while you were with Theo, and I waited while you ran away. I could have found you all those years, you know, but I knew you didn’t want found, so I left you alone. I want my life to start, and I need my own sense of normalcy, too, and I want that normalcy with you.”

“Normalcy is a funny word,” she finally said. “Maybe we should say ‘normality’ instead.”

“You used it first,” he accused, smiling. He backed up against the headboard of the bed and spread his legs. He said, “I’ve wanted to be normal all my life, Granger. I’ve always felt different. It was hard being a Malfoy and a pureblood. It was hard being Lucius Malfoy’s only begotten son.”

“You? You think you had it hard? While I’m the first to admit you’re slightly below normal, I’m the one that’s always been out of place,” she said as she crawled up into the space between his legs. He trapped her inside his spread legs by placing both arms around her. With her back against his chest she said, “I was always the prodigy. The anomaly. The brightest witch of her age, so some said, but a Muggle-born. The best friend of the ‘Chosen One’. Always a bit on the fringe, bordering on the normal, but in the middle of all the attention, by association with Harry. I crave normality. I think that’s one reason I ran away, because I thought I could find it by being alone, but do you know what I found?”

He was rubbing his hands up and down her arms and he sarcastically answered, “What did you find? That you were normal all along, and how boring that was?”

“No, I found that no one ever thinks they’re normal. Everyone feels different from everyone else. Everyone has a bit of themselves that they hide from others, and that they’ll never really admit to, and that’s okay,” she explained.

“Shall I tell you what I crave?” he asked, his finger outlining the large bruise on her left cheek.

“Dark hair and a scar?” she asked with a smile. She leaned her head back on his shoulder and lifted her arm, to trace a lightning bolt on his forehead. “Maybe a lightning bolt right about there?”

He captured her hand, and held it in his along with her other hand and said, “I would never crave such a deformity. I said I want to be normal, not abnormal. No, I crave you, and you know what else, Granger?”

“I know nothing, apparently,” she said with a slight laugh.

“I also am going to stop feeling hopeless, stop feeling guilty, stop having regrets, stop living in the past, and one more thing, oh yes….I’m going to kiss you now.” He shifted her a bit in his arms, so she was leaning against his right arm, across his lap, and he lowered his mouth to hers. He kissed her with sublime tenderness, which made her heart flutter and her muscles ache with need. She felt surging warmth spread through her body as he turned her more, and leaned over her, positioning them both so that they were lying on the bed.

His hand crept under his old shirt she wore, he spread his hand across her belly, and then he clasped her waist. She felt limp, but restless and slightly on edge as his kiss grew in intensity. They hadn’t made love since that fateful day more than three years ago, and the truth was, though they had shared a few simple, romantic kisses, as well as plenty of tender moments, since she had come home with him, he hadn’t yet hinted that he wanted more. She wanted more. She knew she did. She was waiting for a sign from him that he did as well, and she was certain that the fact that he now had her pressed against the mattress, was on top of her, had one hand on her left breast, and his thigh pressing between her legs, was a sign that he wanted more.

Much more.

She didn’t know how it occurred, because she was a bundle of nerves, but somehow he tore her shirt off her, and was drawling her pajama pants down her legs. His hand moved slowly back up her exposed leg, his fingertips soft but explorative as they moved from her ankle, to her knee, to her thigh. He bent down and kissed the valley between her breasts, and he cupped one bra-covered breast with his hand.

She moaned slightly and squirmed underneath him while his mouth continued to part hers, and his hand continued to touch and caress her body, his body rigid and tense beside her. He let his mouth travel to the pale softness of her throat, and his thumb rubbed back and forth under the cup of her bra, on one nipple, until it was hard and erect. His mouth followed the trail along the hollow of her throat, to her pulse point, and then back down to her breast, while somehow the strap of her bra was being pushed down with his hand.

Her heart was beating so swiftly that she felt as if it was replaced with the wings of a hummingbird, because it was fluttering so fast. He stopped kissing her for a moment and he said, “This is normal, right? This is right. This is what we both want and deserve, Hermione.”

“I know, but that still doesn’t make us normal,” she said in jest. He exhaled, knowing that was her permission to continue. He had dreamt of this moment for so long, and nothing short of a meteor, hitting his house and rendering them both unconscious, would stop him now.

Her throat felt tight and she grasped his shoulders so firmly that it almost hurt him, but then he placed his mouth back on her neck, positioned his hand on her throat, kissed her near her ear, and whispered, “Tonight, let’s just pretend that we’re normal, even if we both know that we’re not.”

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