A Feeling Unknown

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Chapter 8: Driving Lessons:


Two more days had gone by, and the Aurors were no closer to discovering who murdered Dr. Granger than they were a week ago when they found her body. The Muggle police had even less clues. The only thing the Aurors were certain of was that Hermione’s house was indeed blown to bits by quite unnatural means. Even the Muggle officials knew that it wasn’t caused by a gas leak.


Hermione Granger was officially cleared as a suspect, as if she ever really was, and was now being watched for her own safety. Harry had received intelligence that someone out there had been hunting for Hermione for a while now. Apparently, a man had gone to her University and had been asking her coworkers if anyone knew of her whereabouts. Her neighbours reported that a similar man was seen hanging around her house for several weeks. When Harry and their Muggle police liaison asked for a description, they all said the same thing: it was a man, middle aged, nondescript, commonplace, and that was all they remembered.


Unknown to Hermione, Draco was now her official bodyguard. When Harry decided that morning that she needed to be watched 24 hours, and discouraged from going back to work, Draco, without looking up from the doodle he was drawing on a piece of paper at his desk, said, “She can stay with me.”


It seemed logical. She was already staying with him, so she might as well remain. Harry said, “What about when you’re here, at work? We need to assign a few men to watch her then.”


Still not looking up, Draco said nonchalantly, “I’ll tell her I’m taking some time off work. I’ll stay close by her side.”


Harry felt that was a bad idea. He knew how Draco felt about her. Few did, but he knew. Not that Draco had ever told him. He was sure that Draco had never told a living soul that he was once and maybe still, in love with Hermione. Nonetheless, Harry was a superb investigator. He also had excellent instincts. Draco wasn’t fooling him. He also suspected that Hermione had always felt the same.


Still, she did need watched.


After another briefing on another case, Harry dismissed everyone, walked up to Draco, took the quill from his hand, which caused Draco finally to look up from his folly. Harry said three words. “Don’t mess up.”


Draco went home for lunch and said, “Honey, I’m home.” He looked around the small bungalow for Granger, couldn’t find her, and then said aloud, “I messed up already.”


Hermione stood behind him and said, “Mess up what?”


He turned quickly and said, “Where were you?”


“I was under your bed.”


When someone says something like that, a person just had to ask, “Why?”


“I dropped something, and it rolled under you bed. Then I heard you say, ‘honey, I’m home,’ so I thought it would be funny to hide from you, so I stayed there for a moment. I guess it wasn’t funny. I’m sorry.” She walked past him and sat at the kitchen table. “Why are you home during the middle of the day?”


“I felt ill,” he said. That lie always worked.


“You don’t look ill.” Maybe it didn’t work.


“I feel ill,” he restated.


“Do you have a fever? When I was little, my mother would never let me stay home from school unless I had a fever.”


“One, you aren’t my mother. Two, this is my house so if I want to stay home I will, and three, sometimes a person can feel ill without a fever,” he concluded. He walked over and opened his fridge, took out a butterbeer, and went to the living room. He turned on the telly, and pretended to watch. She padded into the room a bit later, and sat next to him. He still felt the need to elucidate, though she wasn’t pressing him for an explanation, so he said, “I needed a mental health day.” He had heard Muggles say that before, so he thought she would believe that.


“Are you my babysitter?”


There was no use trying to lie to her. It would serve no purpose. Although Draco always thought he was an excellent liar, she was always able to see right through it, so he said, “Yes, I am.”


“Am I in some type of danger?”


“Potter thinks so,” Draco said. He thought so, too.


“So my mother was killed because of me,” she said. She stood up and went to the bathroom. She pealed off her nightclothes, which still consisted of the clothes he gave her to wear the first night, and she started the shower. She wasn’t sure why she still wore the same things he gave her that first night. He had purchased perfectly good pajamas for her, but she derived a sort of comfort from wearing his clothing.


She also would stay in them most days until noon, but since he was home today, she would go ahead and get dressed. She also needed a shower. Not because she was especially dirty. She had taken a bath before bed last night. She just needed the sound of the shower to mask the sound of her tears.


She hadn’t cried since the funeral. It was time to start again, which meant one thing. The numbness was wearing off, and she wasn’t happy about that. She waited for the water to warm, stepped in his shower, pulled the glass door shut, and as she washed she cried.


Draco heard her crying. He was standing right by the door to the bathroom. His hands went to the doorframe, and he leaned his forehead on the wood. He banged his head on the doorframe in frustration. He was desperate to help her. He just didn’t know how to do that. Number one, he had to get her out of this house for a while.


He knew that Potter had a salvage team go in to clean up her house, and though little was left to recover, what they did find was in two boxes in the boot of Hermione’s car, which was now parked in Draco’s drive. He waited for her to shower and dress, and when she walked back toward the kitchen, he took her hand, without warning or words, and led her outside to the back porch.


He pointed to her car and said, “Potter had it delivered earlier this morning.”


“I know, I was here,” she said. She put her arms around her to ward off the cold.


“Do you want to go through what they were able to save? Everything is in your boot,” he suggested.


“It’s pretty sad that my life is reduced to boxes in my boot,” she stated. She started back inside and said, “Give it all away. That life is over.”


He pulled on her arm and asked, “And what type of life are you left with if that one is over, because frankly, I think that life was pretty crappy, too.”


He wanted to make her angry. He got his wish. Instead of yelling at him, or calling him names, she ran in the house, to the bedroom, and slammed the door shut hard.


He walked back in the house and stood outside his bedroom door. He said, “Hey Granger, since your car is a piece of crap anyway, what do you say I just give it to the poor? It might not even be good enough for them, though. I heard Potter say they saved a couple of books and some jewelry, a picture frame or two. I’ll just put all of that in the rubbish, okay?” He stayed where he was. Waiting.


“Remember when I taught you to drive?” she asked through the door.


Where was her anger and indignation? He couldn’t believe she wanted to go down memory lane right now. At least she was remembering. The way she was handling everything seemed off balance to him, but he knew that she could easily tilt either way now, so he would give her a wide berth. He sat outside the bedroom door and said, “You were a terrible teacher.”


“Funny thing, that,” she said, opening the bedroom door and coming to sit by him in the hall. “Theo thought I was an exceptional teacher and he was a quick study. You, on the other hand, had no aptitude at all. Your hand eye coordination was awful, you lost your temper, and I recall telling you to always pack a broom, since that was probably going to be your usually mode of transportation. I still can’t believe you ever got a license.”


“No thanks to you.”



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Now, Draco, I only agreed to help you because you promised me you wouldn’t get angry, and here you are yelling at me already,” Hermione said sitting beside him. “And you’re clenching the steering wheel too tightly.”


It’s not a steering wheel!” he shouted. “It’s a bloody pillow! You took Theo driving in a real car and with me, you make me sit on a couch, pretend a can of tomatoes is one of the pedals, a can of peaches the other, and this stupid pillow the steering wheel!”


Don’t forget the umbrella. It’s the gearshift,” she said.


He bonked her head with the ‘steering wheel’ and she laughed. She said, “It’s just that Theo is so even tempered, and less volatile than you are. I’m slightly nervous about taking you out on the street, and my car is brand new. My mother just bought it for me.”


I’m going to buy a black Porsche, if I ever learn which can of fruit is the bloody brake,” he said.


She laughed again, and leaned her shoulder into his. He looked down at her beaming smile and bright eyes and he tried hard to hide his smile. He made a driving sound with his mouth, then a braking sound. He pretended to put the ‘gearshift/umbrella’ into park and then he leaned back on the couch. He said, “Oh no, we’re out of gas,” and then he yawned, stretched, and put his arm around her.


She started to giggle and said, “Where did you learn that smooth move, Romeo?”


Muggle movies,” he said, raising his brows suggestively. He said, “Do you want to snog?”


No one comes right out and asks that, and besides, we don’t need snogging lessons. We need driving lessons,” she said. She noticed his arm was still around her, and it felt nice.


Perhaps you don’t need snogging lessons, but I do. Teach me, Hermione,” he said. “First, do girls like it when a bloke licks their lips while kissing?”


She felt flushed and tingly. He pulled her to sit back, so that she was back against the sofa cushions next to him.


I suppose,” she answered.


He reached over and brushed her hair away from her face with his right hand, his left arm still around her shoulders. He said, “Do they like it when a fellow blows in their eye?” He could hardly keep a straight face.


She smiled as well and said, “Probably not. Maybe their ear.”


See, I do need lessons. Show me how they like men to blow in their ear,” he said.


No,” she said. She leaned over to pick the pillow up from the floor. His hand moved on its own from her shoulder, to her back. He moved it back up slowly and then back down, stroking her back. She held the pillow tight. Her belly was doing flip-flops. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but she liked it. She had a secret crush on Draco. She had for a while now, and while it seemed he never wanted to be more than friends, lately he had been openly flirting with her. He always made numerous excuses to touch her. Could he, perhaps, like her back?


She licked her lips, swallowed, and turned to him. She handed him the pillow and said, “Here, take the steering wheel.”


He stopped rubbing her back and he took the pillow from her. She was going to suggest that they go for a real drive, when Theo opened the door to his and Draco’s flat and said, “I’ve got Pizza, who’s hungry?”


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“I did finally take you out in a real car, and you yelled at me the whole time,” she recalled.


“Your memory is as faulty as your teaching ability. You yelled at me the whole time. Don’t run over the mother and child, Malfoy! That light means stop, not go faster! The police want a word with you, Malfoy?” he mocked. “You were a terrible teacher. You probably still are.”


“My students like me, actually,” she said. Suddenly, she turned more subdued, just like that. He was always sticking his foot in his mouth. She said, “I probably won’t be able to go back to work right away, will I?”


“No, probably not a good plan,” he said.


“Can we go to the University so I can tell the Dean in person? I’ll ask for a leave of absence, because I think I owe him that much. He’s been very kind to let me take this much time off work.”


“Okay, let’s go, but I’m driving,” he said.


“Do you know which are the peaches and which are the tomatoes?” she asked.


He leaned forward and said, “Hell, Granger, not only do I know the difference between the peaches and the tomatoes, but I’m a whiz at snogging in the car now, too. Perhaps I can show you sometime.” He stood up and offered her his hand. He would like nothing better than to show her that.

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