A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 40: Anti-Climatic, my foot:


Hermione stood in the middle of the living room at her mother’s old house, her current residence, and she cocked her head to the side. Then she cocked it to the other side. “It’s still crooked,” she exclaimed.


Draco crawled out from under the tree, dusted off his shirt and his slacks with his hands, and said, “It’s the best I can do. Use magic to straighten it, for Merlin’s sake.”


“No, it’s a hard and fast rule of mine never to use magic for decorating my tree,” she said. That wasn’t true, because she just made that up, but she smiled at him sweetly, and she knew he believed her because he got back down on his hands and knees, and began to adjust the trunk of the tree again, as it stood in the tree stand.


“How’s it now?” he asked.


It was still slightly off-kilter, but she said, “Fine.” She took some mistletoe and stood behind him as he rose from his knees to stand.


He turned to around to face her and when he saw the mistletoe he said, “What happens if I don’t want to kiss you.”


“Well, I remember Luna Lovegood once said something about nargles and mistletoe, I believe, so unless you want a nasty nargle to attack you, I think you had better kiss me,” she expounded.


He placed his hand on her cheek, his thumb rubbed her bottom lip, and he said, “What’s a nargle?”


“No clue,” she answered.


He smiled, leaned forward, and brushed his lips with hers. “Ah, that was nice,” he remarked. When she turned toward the box of ornaments, he reached for her waist, pulled her back to him and said, “One more time, with feeling, though, just to be sure. I believe I see a little nargle hiding in the fireplace.” He put his hand behind her head, pressed her whole body against his, and kissed her deeply.


When they parted she asked, “Am I nargle free now?”


“Nary a nargle in sight,” he said back.


He picked up a box of ornaments, stood beside her to place them on the tree, and said, “By the by, Granger, are you sure you don’t want me to spend the night tonight, just to make sure you’re okay. It’s your first night at this house.”


“I really think I need to do this by myself, Draco. Anyway, tomorrow is the 23rd, and we plan to go shopping remember, so you’ll probably spend the night since we’ll be out shopping all day, and you’ll be too tired to go home.”


“Not too tired for sex, though,” he interrupted.


Acting as if she hadn’t heard him, she continued, “And then the day after that is Christmas Eve, and I’ll definitely want you to stay over that night. Let me have tonight by myself.”


He knew she was right, and he knew that she would be fine. Theo’s father was back in prison, and her house was under more protection spells and wards than any other house in probably all of London. The only thing that nagged at him was that Theo’s mother was missing.


Harry had gone to arrest her shortly after arresting her husband, and she was already gone. The house was still being watched, so it was odd that she had escaped. Harry insisted that they had even put a trace on her, but somehow, she had evaded that as well. It had been days since her husband was captured, and for Draco it had been days of walking on glass, waiting for it to break.


Hermione could feel his strain, and she felt it was well. She was slightly apprehensive that the woman was now missing, but she wouldn’t, no…couldn’t, stop living again because of that woman. She would never again let another person dictate to her how she should live her life. Never again. She was living for herself now, and nothing and no one would stop her living it as she wanted.


They finished decorating the tree, the entire time eating sweets, drinking eggnog, singing Christmas songs (hers were real songs, his were naughty, made up, songs), and when they were finally finished, they stood back and admired their Christmas tree. It was the first tree they would share, the first of many he hoped. She put her head on his shoulder and he turned off the lights in the room with a flick of his wand. Then he turned the lights on the tree with a similar flick. The soft glow of yellow, green, blue and red lights swirled around them, and Hermione was filled with peace. It had been so long since she had felt this happy. She simply had not allowed happiness in her life for so long, and she almost didn’t recognize it. It overwhelmed her a bit, and she turned slightly in his arms, placed both of hers around his neck, and buried her face in his chest.


“What’s wrong, Granger?” he asked.


“I’m so happy. Is that wrong?” she asked him.


“Terribly wrong,” he said as a joke. She smiled without looking at him. “Don’t you think it’s time for you to feel happiness?”


“Shouldn’t I feel just as sad, though?” she inquired. They looked at each other, her face cast in the soft glow of the twinkling Christmas lights. “It’s the first Christmas without my mum, and she’s not been gone very long.”


“Your mum would want you to be happy. Have a Happy Christmas, and be truly happy for your mum, Hermione.”


She nodded, because she knew he was right.


They snogged on the couch for a while, ate a small dinner, and then he apparated away. He wasn’t going directly home. He had some last minute Christmas shopping to do and he wanted to do it without her. Before he left, he told her he would return bright and early for their day at the Muggle mall. He wasn’t looking forward to it, but he would do anything for her, even tolerate a mall full of Muggles.


Hermione showered and dressed for bed. She had repainted her old bedroom, but decided to make it a study. The bedroom at the front of the house was the best bedroom in the house, with its nice view, large windows, and private bath, so she decided to make it her bedroom. She would no longer think of it as her father’s tomb, which was what it was for so very long. She painted these walls, too. She moved in different furniture, and she now only thought of this as her room.


She sat on the side of the bed, rubbing lotion on her legs, and she thought she heard a noise downstairs. She listened for a moment, but didn’t hear anything else, so she decided it was her imagination. She decided that she would ask Draco to get her a cat for Christmas. She needed another living thing in the house with her. She might even ask Draco to move in with her. She smiled when she thought about that, because the entire time they moved her in he kept making hints, such as, “Won’t you be lonely in this big house by yourself?” and “Two people can live as cheaply as one, or so they say.” Once he even said, “My house is just a house, but this house is a home.” She laughed at the time when she thought how clichéd that sounded, but now she thought it was sweet, and probably true.


She had already decided to invite him before he started with his hints. She only wanted a few days by herself first.


She went downstairs, crossed the living room, and went to the den. She sat in her father’s old chair and turned on the telly to an old Christmas movie. She placed a pillow on her lap and rested her head on the side of the chair. She scanned the room for a moment, and her gaze rested on a picture of her Mum and Dad on their wedding day.


Hermione stood up and walked over to the table where the picture was placed. She picked it up, kissed the picture once, and said, “You both seemed so happy.” She backed up toward the couch and sat down. She continued to look at the picture, a Muggle picture, so it wasn’t moving, and she said, “I’m sorry I ran away from home for so long Mummy, but I’m back now. I wasn’t running away from you, you know, but I was running away from myself, if that makes sense. I was afraid I would turn out like all of them….Daddy, Grandma Helen, Theo…all of them. I didn’t take into account that I was more like you than I was like them. I was strong enough to survive my sadness.”


“And I should have known I was strong, because of you. You forced me to get help after my rape, even though I didn’t think it was necessary, because you knew there was a history of depression in our family, and you refused to let it get its grip into me, so I thank you for that, Mum. You saved me.”


“I realized something else. It’s that I’m strong enough to feel both happy and sad, and that I really don’t want to die. I’m going to fight hard to live, I’ll fight hard to feel, and I’ll fight hard every day to have happiness, I promise. It’s the least I can do for you. I’m going to have a Happy Christmas, Mummy. A happy one. I love you.”


She started to cry as she stood to place the picture back on the table. She turned off the television. She was lonely, and she knew only one way to relieve that loneliness, and she should have realized it before – she needed to be with Draco. She loved him and she wanted him close by. She was done pushing people away. She didn’t want to be alone tonight, and maybe not ever, not because she was scared, but because he made her happy.


She smiled at her small epiphany, ran to her bedroom, and quickly dressed. She was going to apparate to his house, but decided there was something she wanted to do first. She wanted to have a key made for him of her house. She would give it to him as an early Christmas present. It would be mostly symbolic, since as Wizards, they didn’t need keys to enter houses or to lock doors, but it would be the thought that counted. He would know that it meant she wanted him to be with her forever.


He would know that she wanted to make her home with him, and she was certain he would accept.


She looked at her watch. It was only 7:47 in the evening. Surely, some place was open that could make her a copy of her key. Everywhere was open late before Christmas. She would just give him her mother’s key, but she wanted to keep it for herself, for some sentimental reason.


She took her mother’s keys from the hook on the back door, and saw her Mum’s car key on the same ring. She would drive there, since the DYI store, which made keys, was in a Muggle Mall. She slipped on her coat, and ran out to the garage. She had a moment’s hesitation when she recalled that both Draco and Harry warned her not to go out alone until they found Mrs. Nott, but what if they never found her? She wouldn’t live her life in fear.


She got in the car, and turned it on. She let it warm up and then backed it out onto the street. She drove down her two-lane road, and when she reached the main road, she turned right. It was snowing, and the roads were slick, so she drove slower than she normally would have. She was about to come to the crossroad that would take her to the main intersection when she spied an accident up ahead. There were red lights and sirens. She put her foot on the brake to stop, but the brake wouldn’t respond.


As her car careened toward the intersection, she had one thought, “NO!”


She turned the wheel, but on the slick road the car hydroplaned, and turned around and around before it broke through a barrier and headed down an embankment, toward a rampant river below.


Damn. Hermione’s happiness could not end like this! The car crashed through trees, bushes, and brambles, and hit the water with a resounded splash. The current quickly took the car within its clutches, the car swirled, and bounced, and then it began to sink. Fear trapped her as readily as the impending darkness and water was about to trap her. She tried to undo her seatbelt, but it wouldn’t budge. The car was sinking fast, and the water was now up to her door. She couldn’t roll down the window, because it was automatic, and the engine had died.


She searched for her purse, which was on the floorboard, already covered in icy, cold water. She had two options. Get her wand or her phone. No, she decided she had three options. She could get one or the other, or both. She grabbed her purse, found her wand easily, tucked it under her arm, and then in the dark car, and her deep purse, she searched for her phone.


She found it, opened it, and pushed the number for Draco. He answered it in two rings.


“Hey, Granger,” he said. He had just arrived home and there was a note on his door address to him, and the outside envelope read that it was from her. He answered his phone while removing the note. Before she could speak he said, “I just got a letter from you, did you know that?”


“Draco, I’m dying!” she yelled into the phone.


Draco’s insides clenched and he said, “What? Where are you?”


“I don’t know! My car crashed! I’m sinking into a river off old Mulberry Road. Help me, please!” She said no more, but closed her phone. The water was now up to her waist. She pointed her wand toward the window, said a spell that should have broken it into a million pieces, but it stayed intact.


Draco dropped the note, and apparated to her house. He had no idea where, “Old Mulberry Road” was, but he would trace her from her house. As he started the trace, he called Potter on his phone, it was easier this time because Draco now had him listed as Arsehole instead of Scarhead, and when Harry answered he said, “Hermione’s dying!”


Hermione came to the realization that someone had used magic to make the windows of the car unbreakable. All she could do was sit and wait for help, because one thing was certain, she sure as hell wasn’t going to die, especially the way Theo had died!


The note, which Draco had dropped on his step, wasn’t from Hermione, but if he had read it, he would never have known that, because it looked to be in her handwriting, and it was a suicide note, telling him goodbye.


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