Chapter 18 : I do not know love
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“Bloody Malfoy Manor,” he whispered under his breath. He looked around for a way in but only noticed a muggle looking speaker box to the right side of him. He pressed one of the buttons and a loud voice quickly came over the speaker.
“Malfoy Manor how may I assist you,” the refined voice asked.
“I am here to see Hermione Granger.” Ron blurted out.
“And you are?” the voice asked.
“Ron Weasly,” he answered.
“Oh Mr. Weasly I do apologize but you are not welcome here,” the voice informed him.
“What! That prat Malfoy told you not to let me in, well I want to see Hermione and you better open these damn gates or else.” He warned in a raised tone.
“Actually it was Ms. Granger who set the order to allow you know admittance past these gates,” the voice said and now it was starting to sound slightly more familiar.
“KREACHER IS THAT YOU?”
“Why yes it is Mr. Weasly, funny isn’t it you always seem to be on the outside looking in. Please go away now or I shall tell my new master.” Kreacher said with a sinister laugh.
“WHAT! HARRY POTTER IS YOUR MASTER,” he yelled at the speaker box.
“No. You see sir, Harry Potter set Kreacher free and he came to the last of the Black relatives, that being the Malfoy’s.” Kreacher said and Ron could hear the smugness in his voice.
“DAMN ROTTEN HOUSE ELF!” He shouted and kicked the pole which held the speaker box.
“BLOODY HELL!” he shouted in pain. He knew there had to be a way into the manor grounds; he just had to find it. Obviously he would not be able to apparate in or he would have ended up inside to begin with, no he would have to find a muggle way in. Now he realized he needed Harry more then ever but though Harry was his best mate he refused to come on this journey. Harry had felt Hermione needed the time and with Ginny going to visit her soon he was sure she would come to her senses soon, but Ron could not wait that long. He had to see her now.
Draco and Hermione rode on and on until finally they came to the ruins of an old church. Draco had not ridden a horse in what seemed like ages and he actually was reluctant to stop, he had never felt so free before. The wind in his hair, the power of his steed below him and Hermione rushing past him on her horse, it was fun. He had not had this much fun in years, well except for Vegas but they had argued in the end of that trip and it slightly ruined it for both of them.
“Wow, what a beautiful sunset,” Hermione said, her words bring Draco back to earth. He looked now to the west and in his mind agreed with her, it was a very beautiful sunset indeed.
“And just look at this ruin, Merlin the history this place must have,” she said touching one of the old church’s crumbling walls.
“It is a relic isn’t it?” Draco asked sarcastically.
“Shame on you Mr. Malfoy,” she said playfully. He had to fight the urge to jump of his horse and take her into his arms and kiss her. Her smile and her laugh were so tempting to him. For so many years Draco lived in darkness but now even without having her intimately, just having her in his life whether anything ever became of them; just having her in his life had brought a brightness into his shadows he could have never imagined.
“What is it?” she said looking at him quizzically. His intense stare sent a rushing sensation of nervousness and excitement to her soul.
“Nothing, for once it is nothing,” he answered as he smiled and dismounted.
“Meaning?” she questioned.
“Meaning that for the first time in a long time I have no worries,” he said with a very real smile and moved closer to her.
“No worries must be nice,” she said a bit more solemnly then he would have liked. She sat down on an old stone bench and stared up at the broken stained glass window. She felt Draco sit down next to her and she was comforted by his presence.
“Ron?” he asked slightly hesitant to bring up the subject for fear of upsetting her.
“What else could it be.” She answered.
“You are still very angry with him I take it,” he inquired but tried to make it sound as subtle as he could.
She took a deep breath then turned and looked him right in the eyes.
“Have you ever been in love Draco?” she asked.
Her question had come unexpectedly and he fumbled with his thoughts to find an answer but not even he could fib his way out of this one.
“No, no I don’t think I have,” he answered slightly embarrassed. He could read the shock on her face.
“Really? Wow, I thought you had been in love with Pansy a few years back,” she said.
“No, Pansy was never love. If anything we were together for all the wrong reasons.” He said now staring down at the ground slightly ashamed of himself.
There was a long silence in which neither dared to speak but neither wanted to leave. They sat there watching the sky go from dusk to dark when finally Hermione spoke.
“I never thought he would come back to me,” she said breaking the silence. Draco looked deep into her teary brown eyes.
“I was just starting to learn how to live my life without him and now I don’t know what to do.” She cried.
Draco put his arm around her and pulled her closer to him, she laid her head on his shoulder and sobbed.
“You still love him very much, don’t you?” he asked.
“I never stopped loving him,” she cried, “But I was just starting to fall in love with you.”
He froze with fear at her words, what was he supposed to say. He had no experience with something like this and he did not want to say the wrong thing and cause her more pain or worse have her get angry with him.
“I,” he tried to spit the words out but he was fumbling again, “I err, I um.”
Hermione looked at him, he had started to give up on getting it right and she did not hate him for it but she did desperately want to know how he felt.
“Draco do you love me?” she asked plainly, tears streaming down her face.
“Hermione I do not know love.” He said despondently knowing he was ruining everything. But much to his surprise he felt her take his hand and squeeze it.
“What do you feel right now,” she whispered to him softly.
“My heart about to beat out of its chest,” he admitted and they both slightly laughed.
Her eyes caught his and he wanted desperately to tell her he was falling in love with her and that he wanted her and never wanted her to leave him. But he knew deep down it was not fair, not fair to her feelings for Ron. He knew she was going to need to work past that first.
“What is it Draco, what are you fighting?” she asked.
“A very hard battle,” he said honestly, “a very hard battle indeed.”
“And in that battle what may I ask is the prize,” she inquired gently.
“There is no prize, for one can not make a trophy out of you,” he said.
She was taken aback by his words.
“Are you losing this battle?” she asked.
Draco stared deep into her watery russet eyes, “I do not know,” he said, “Am I?”
Without thinking Hermione acted so quickly that Draco almost fell backwards off the bench she hugged him so hard.
“I can not stop myself from falling in love with you Draco Malfoy, yet my heart belongs to another,” she whispered to him.
Draco could take it no longer. He took the chance and pulled her face to his and kissed her passionately. He had no idea when he would be able to do this again and if he was going to lose her he was going to kiss her this one last time. She welcomed his kiss and they were soon lost into one another.
“Please don’t stop fighting,” she whispered tearfully to him between kisses. And Draco vowed within himself he would not. He knew months ago that he would do what ever it took to keep her with him. Whatever it took.
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