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Chapter 14: Opening Up
Two long, aching days had passed with Hermione being cooped up in her room and Draco trying to talk to her. He wasn’t successful in anyway, mind you. Every time he went to her room, the door would be locked and she had placed a strong charm on it so that it couldn’t be opened with a simple spell.
Hermione, on the other hand, was feeling tired of being a prisoner in her own room. She felt nauseous sometimes due to the lack of food. When it was midnight or later, she would secretly head out of her room to the kitchen for a nighttime snack and rush back before Draco had heard her.
Daytime was the most difficult time; not only for Hermione, but for Draco as well. He walked back and forth on the stairs, hoping that Jean would come out sooner or later; either for the bathroom or for the kitchen, but she remained there for the rest of the day. He would occasionally go the kitchen and grab a snack to eat, but he was rarely hungry.
Draco kept his mind focused on if Jean was eating or not. He didn’t see her come out of her room anymore. He wondered if she was starving herself because of him. Sometimes, when he did hear her come out of her room at night, he would lie in bed, wide awake, just listening to her head downstairs to the kitchen and back. He didn’t want to go after her, afraid that she might not come out of her room at night either if she knew he was awake.
Now, as the third day was coming upon them, Draco prepared himself for another sorrowful, lonely day.
He went into the kitchen and neatly made himself a jelly sandwich. He wasn’t too bad at that now. Normally he would eat the sandwich with a glass of milk. That was usually his morning breakfast; that is, if he ate at all. But today, Draco felt like having eggs. That would give him the energy that was being drained out of him slowly.
Draco opened random cabinets, above and below, trying to find the frying pan. Finally giving up, he pointed his wand directly in front of himself and said, “Accio frying pan.” Unfortunately for him, three different pans flew at him at once. He was hit by all three.
Cursing loudly, Draco picked up one of the pans, placed it on the stove and pressed one of the knobs. He remembered something Jean had said about turning the ignition. He went to the fridge and took out three eggs and tried to break them gently on the pan, but he heard a sizzling noise which made him realize he accidentally spilled the egg yolk directly on the fire instead of the pan. He cursed again.
Hermione cracked open the kitchen door. The smell of burnt eggs reached her nose and she nearly laughed at the sight before her. Draco’s right hand was covered in egg yolk, while the other hand was holding his wand that was spraying water on the burning stove.
He picked up the pan with his gooey covered hand, but it slipped and fell to the floor with a hard clank. Draco cursed loudly this time and picked up his right foot. The pan had fallen on it.
This time Hermione grinned widely as she watched a crazed Draco make his way to the kitchen table and sit down to rub his foot.
Hermione slowly entered the kitchen, one soft step at a time and she pointed her wand at the mess and magically cleaned it up with a swish.
She started to leave, but Draco slammed his fist on the table.
“Damn it!” he said. He dropped his face in his hands and Hermione stopped to watch him. “What did I do wrong?”
He was talking aloud to no one specific.
“I don’t deserve to live. There’s no one to live for.” He whispered the last sentence. When he pulled his hands from his face, Hermione watched as a few tears escaped his eyes and fell to the table. He didn’t bother to wipe them clean.
Hermione felt a stab in her heart. Was it her fault he was acting like this?
Draco was still oblivious to her presence there and he continued talking to himself. “Am I not worth loving? I must not be.” He chuckled lightly. “Merlin, how would it feel to be loved? I wouldn’t know. Mum was always out and father…” He slammed his fist once again on the table, “And now Jean.”
Hermione felt her breath stuck in her throat at what he might say about her.
“Merlin, I love her,” he said in one breath, pushing his hair back. “But she doesn’t feel the same way about me. Who could blame her? I’m a worthless bastard.”
Hermione couldn’t believe the way Draco was speaking of himself. He was in way over his head for talking about himself so harshly.
“I just wish…” Draco paused, taking deep breaths. He looked up to the ceiling. “If anyone up there is hearing this, I just wish that I could talk to Jean again. Just once. I’d do anything to get a chance to hear her beautiful voice once more.”
With that, Hermione left the kitchen and went up to her room to think about what Draco just said.
“Hey Ron,” Luna said smiling at the redhead coming in through the door. He came just like he promised. Her heart fluttered at the sight of him. “Have a seat,” she said, patting the extra space on the bed beside her.
Ron didn’t hesitate. He came and sat next to her, holding out a bouquet of yellow roses. “Here you go, Luna. These are for you.”
She took them graciously and beamed. “Thank you. How did you know these were my favorite?”
Ron raised an eyebrow. “You told me about them last week, remember?”
Luna smiled in remembrance. “Oh! Of course, how silly of me to forget.”
Ron matched her smile. “So, how are you feeling? The Healer outside told me that you will be out in no time, as long as you’re not in any pain.”
Luna placed her small hand over Ron’s. “I’m not feeling any pain as long as you’re with me.”
Ron’s cheeks turned bright red, but Luna didn’t seem to pay attention to his embarrassment. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I have a favor to ask of you, Ron.”
He nodded his right away. “Yeah, sure, anything.”
“When it’s time for me to go home, will you take me?” Her eyes bore into Ron’s lovely blue ones.
Ron nodded again. “Of course I will.” They remained silent for a few seconds as they held each other’s hand.
“Aw…look at the sweethearts!” A mocking voice came from the door. George and Fred stood in the doorway, with their parents right behind them.
Ron immediately stood up. “What are you doing here?”
Mrs. Weasley passed through her two joker sons and walked over to the bed. “We’re here to see Luna, of course,” she said cheerfully, as she placed a gentle kiss on the blonde’s forehead. She sat down a vase of white roses on the drawer beside the bed. “How are you doing dear?”
Luna’s broad smile lit her face once more. “Fantastic, Mrs. Weasley.”
“Merlin, you two!” Mr. Weasley’s voice rang from behind the twins. “You’re blocking the way. Either go in or make way for the rest of us!” He pushed his way past his sons and smiled at the young woman. “Ah, Luna.” He approached her and took her hand in his own. “Feeling better, are we?”
Luna nodded her head in agreement as she glanced at Ron beside the door again. His cheeks were turning red again as his brothers poked fun at him.
Mr. Weasley patted her hand in a fatherly way. “Good, good. You need to feel better dear. We want you to join us for dinner again. How does that sound?”
Luna looked at a flushed Ronald and grinned at Mr. Weasley, “That sounds wonderful, Mr. Weasley.”
Mr. Weasley followed her gaze and nodded knowingly. He winked at Luna. “Doesn’t it?”
Later that morning, Hermione sneaked downstairs once more to see a frustrated Draco cursing and throwing open random drawers, until he found a towel, which he wrapped around his hand. He had burned himself.
Hermione felt sorry for him. She had stayed away from him for two days and he couldn’t even take care of himself. She was a terrible nurse. What would the other nurses say about her? She could just imagine Carrie taunting Hermione for her horrible work.
Hermione shook the memory from her mind and took a deep breath before entering the kitchen. She opened the fridge and took out a tomato and a few other items. She gently laid them on the counter as she took a pan and started the chopping the tomato, onions and random items, tossing them into the pan. She ignited the stove.
Draco obviously heard all of this and was surprised (and excited) to know she was there beside him again, but when he called out her name once and she didn’t respond, he decided not to try again.
He remained silent as he heard her feet shuffling from one place to another; opening cabinets and the fridge occasionally.
Hermione did her best not to stare at Draco. She even tried to pretend he wasn’t there, but his ragged breathing wasn’t helping. She knew he was listening to her every movement. She couldn’t ignore it, but she decided she was just there to help him; not to talk to him.
Finally, half way through the fresh aroma of Hermione’s cooking--which caused both of their stomachs to growl in hunger---Draco spoke up.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry for what I did. But I just have to know…why? Why did you avoid me? Was there something I did wrong? Or…” Draco swallowed loudly, “is there someone else?”
Why would he think there’s someone else? Hermione thought momentarily as she tried to decide to respond to his questions or not.
They remained quiet until Hermione heard footsteps behind her. She turned around, but was already too late. Draco was a few steps away from her. She tried to give him the slip by sneaking sideways, but he grasped her by the arms.
“Tell me, Jean, please,” he pleaded.
Hermione felt her heart crumple as she noticed a few fresh tears fall down his cheek.
“Tell me, is there someone else? If there is, I’ll leave you alone. I…promise.” Draco’s choked breath was on her face. His lips were dry and parted.
Hermione cursed herself for staring at his lips. “No,” she whispered.
“What?” Draco said only half-hearing her.
“There’s no one else.”
Draco felt his heart come together again at her words. His grip increased on her arms. “Then why, Jean? Why are you running away from me?”
Hermione pulled herself from his grip. “I don’t know!” she replied. “Maybe it’s because we don’t belong together! You don’t even like my kind!” she added harshly.
Draco seemed lost for a moment, but then regained his voice again. “You’re a Muggle-born.” It wasn’t at all a question. He seemed confident about his answer. “I know you are.”
Hermione snorted and for a split second she thought Draco might have figured out her real identity.
“But what I don’t get is…” Draco paused before starting again, “you don’t think we belong together just because we come from different bloods?”
Even that sounded odd to Hermione. Was that the real reason? Of course it is! She argued in her mind. He wouldn’t dare go out with me if he knew I was a goody-two shoes Mudblood!
Draco’s chuckle reached her ears.
“You think that’s amusing?” she asked with her hands on her hips.
“Well, yeah,” he replied, his arms across his chest. “I mean I knew all along you were a Muggle-born.”
“You…did?” Hermione felt like running off that moment, but her feet couldn’t function properly.
“Yeah, nothing in this house is magical and you know how to work everything. You’re obviously a Muggle-born or a half-blood, but either way, I wouldn’t refuse to date you just because you‘re either.” Draco smiled sheepishly.
Hermione tried to find another excuse. Okay, so he doesn’t mind dating a Muggle-born, but that still leaves me! How would he feel if he knew that he was really dating me, Hermione- the-know-it-all-bookworm-Granger?!
She didn’t dare say anything about that. Draco approached her in her blank state once more. He reached for her hand. As if reading her mind he said right on cue, “I love you for who you are.”
Only if you knew who I really was, Hermione thought to herself. The same annoying voice in her mind was back. You’re Hermione Jean Granger.
Finally, finding her correct voice she responded, “I’m just not ready to date, Draco.” She left him alone in the middle of the kitchen.
“If you were…” Draco said, causing her to stop dead in her tracks. “If you were looking to date, what would you be looking for in a guy?”
Hermione found herself frowning. She kept a list of things she hated in guys, but the opposite, there were so many things. Where to start?
“Someone’s who is passionate, loving, caring, understands my needs and wants, someone who cares about everyone around them, no matter what blood they may come from.” She paused and flicked her wand at the boiling pan on the stove, “And of course, a guy who can cook.” She added humorously.