Chapter 8 : Comfort
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They chose to walk back to their hotel and enjoy the nocturnal scenery of the city that surrounded them. Draco pointed out different landmarks here and there and explained to Hermione what they were or which casino it was and sometimes even a funny story from when he had visited before. Hermione laughed so much her stomach muscles where starting to hurt, she couldn’t remember the last time she had felt so happy or laughed so hard.
“Why are you being so nice Draco,” she asked him once they had stopped to watch a fountain show in front of a very elegant hotel.
“What do you mean,” he asked in return looking deep into her eyes.
“You know what I mean,” she said, “You hated me all through our years at Hogwarts and well you have always been arrogant to me. And I am not sure if you have been jinxed or hexed but have you forgotten I am not a pureblood?”
Draco sighed slightly then answered, “Hermione how I treated you at Hogwarts, well it was revolting to say the least. But I loved my father and whatever he told me was gold and it made me very blind.”
She was looking away from him now, watching the fountain show but she heard his every word.
“We kissed Draco,” she said not taking her eyes from the dancing water.
He was watching her now. Watching how she smiled and how she winced when she mentioned the kiss. It pained him that maybe she could possibly be regretting it.
“Do you wish we hadn’t,” he asked.
“Funny thing is I don’t regret it at all,” she said looking back at him now, “But I don’t know what it means. I don’t know why it happened and that scares me because I am unsure what it meant to you, hell I don’t even know that either of us will ever know.”
“It felt like freedom,” he said almost so low she thought he was trying to whisper.
She thought about what he had just said and it made a lot of sense. It did feel like freedom, for once she was allowed to step out of her element and not be what everyone had always known her for being. She had kissed Draco Malfoy and was standing here with him now hand in hand, and she did not even care if anyone she knew saw her.
“Hermione,” he said with the gentlest tone of voice, “I want to tell you I am very sorry for all the hell I ever caused you in the past. It was the worst thing I could have done to some one and you of all people never really deserved any of it.”
“Draco,” she started to say but he cut her off.
“No, let me finish,” he said “Not only was I a prat because of what my father taught me but I was very jealous of Harry. He had everything I ever wanted. He had fame, parents that died for him and he had you and Ron. I never have had anyone in my life I could trust as much as he trusted you two.”
“Harry is very special to me,” she said with a smile. Draco noticed how her face lit up with the mention of her best friend’s name.
“And Ron, well he was special too wasn’t he?” Draco asked.
When he mentioned Ron’s name he saw the expression on her face fade into sadness. It was still very apparent she had not gotten over his death and he regretted he had even brought it up. She pulled her hands away from his now and looked back to the fountains.
“Hermione, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have,” he started to apologize but she stopped him.
“It is not your fault Draco. I really don’t like to even think about it anymore to be honest. I guess because I know I need to close that chapter in my life and I need to learn to let go,” she said with tears now caressing her face.
He moved closer to her and she allowed him to put his arms around her. He rested his chin on her shoulder and watched the end of the show. She wrapped her arms around his and even though she was unsure of what was happening, it felt good. They stood there long after the show had ended simply holding on to one another, neither ready to let go.
Draco felt something in his stomach he had never felt before and it made him nervous. It was so unfamiliar to him that at first he thought he might be sick but was too mortified to say anything. He soon realized that he only had this feeling when she touched him, spoke to him or nearly smiled at him. It mystified him and terrified him at the same time because he was afraid that just maybe something in his life was going to go right. Just maybe he could have Hermione; just maybe she could love him.
The city bustled on around them, but neither seemed to care. They just stood there staring at the massive water fountains both lost in though and secret longing. They both seemed to forget about the void they had been living with in their separate lives. To bystanders it looked as though they were a couple deep in love, to them it was just comfort. Reassurance in one another’s arms that they were not alone in the world even if tonight was all they had and at this very moment it was all either of them needed.
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