Chapter 4 : Kissing in the Rain
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Kissing in the Rain
She couldnít believe it. How could they have allowed it to happen? A kiss had changed everything. Now nothing would ever be the same again.
Hermione sat trembling on her bed, her stomach sickened and repulsed at her foul deeds. She had confessed her feelings to Draco Malfoy, there in the winter light.
She stood up, her dressing gown wrapped tightly about her to protect her body against the biting cold. The sun had forgotten to rise this morning. It was Saturday and she hadnít slept. Her gown lay in a crumpled heap on the floor, forgotten. Outside the day was grey with misery and the mountains pierced the sky as if tearing it into a million pieces.
It was ten thirty. She ought to have eaten breakfast by now, or at least be getting on with homework. Instead she sat in confusion, trying to work out what exactly had happened. It was all so complicated now. Her head whirled when she tried to consider what Harry and Ronís reaction would be.
She forced herself to stand up and dress, the sweater seeming heavy as she pulled it over her head, the tartan skirt to light. She pulled on some thick grey tights and stifled a yawn. She felt terrible. The mirror showed her a sleep deprived girl with thick grey-black rings of fatigue circling her blurry eyes. The corners of her mouth were turned down and her hair had returned to its regular dull explosiveness.
The common room was full of people. The gloomy oppression of outside had kept everybody in, and Harry and Ron were stretched out on a pair of armchairs, the fire leaping energetically before them.
"Hi," Harry smiled warmly, Ron a little awkward. "You look exhausted. Have you had any sleep at all?"
She shrugged. "A little," she lied and sat down next to them. "Iíve had too much on my mind."
Harry and Ron exchanged glances and something flashed between them. Harry cleared his throat and stood up, the bones in his legs crackling. "Well, Iíve got to get off. Promised Ginny we could go get some Quidditch practice."
"In the rain?" Hermione watched him with a wrinkled nose. "Are you serious? Harry, thatís ridiculous, leave it until tomorrow."
"No, no, I canít," he said hurriedly, as if looking for an excuse to depart. "Er, Ginny will be really disappointed."
Hermione spotted Ginny laughing with her friends as they flicked through Witchís Weekly and somehow doubted it; her demur increased as Harry strode straight past her and up to the dormitories.
"What was all that about?" She enquired suspiciously.
Ron shifted slightly and looked uncomfortable. "He just wanted to give us time together, you know. Er, to talk. About . . . yeah."
She looked at him strangely. He was growing very red; his ears were as scarlet as his hair. He chewed on thumb veraciously and attempted a smile. "Herm, about last night. I er Ė didnít mean to upset you."
Her heart was hammering. She had thought he was going to mention the whole experience with Draco. "Upset me? How did you upset me?"
He relaxed a little but twisted further into himself. "I thought I did something wrong, you know Ė pushed it a bit far." He pulled his knees up to his chin as if to protect himself, or as if by doing so she could no longer see him. "So youíre not upset? Well. Thatís great."
"Ron," she assured him, straining a smile. "Weíre friends. You could never upset me." She stood up without looking at him and smoothed down her skirt. "Well, Iím off to the kitchen Ė I missed breakfast. Maybe one of the house elves will be kind enough to make me a cup of tea or something."
"Iím sure theyíd jump at the chance," Ron grinned, but she wasnít listening. She made her way out of the Gryffindor Common Room and traced her way down the stairs, feeling the draughty cold of the castle bite into her. Her breath vaporised in the air, an icy white mist that twisted in patterns as she hastened along.
She noticed Dobby and Winky in the kitchens, Dobby dressed in his usual layers of clothes, Winky sobbing and distraught in one corner, ignoring the fact that she was paid to work, not sit around and do nothing.
"What can Dobby get for Miss Granger?" The little house elf was delighted to see her. She kindly asked him for a cup of tea, but he added sugared almond cakes in with it. She thanked him, eating the soft, delicious sponge that almost bubbled and melted in her mouth. The tea was sweet and milky, just to her taste. When she had finished she said goodbye to the house elves and made her way along the familiar corridor.
She was a little more awake now, although the tiredness left her feeling dizzy with a constant ache in her head. She decided to go to the library, so she could try and get some work done or something. Reading always helped to relax her and take her mind off things.
The library held two Ravenclaws, a grumpy looking Hufflepuff and a single Slytherin, scratching away on a piece of paper, face twisted into sour contempt. As soon as Hermione had chosen her book and sat down alone by the library window, the Slytherin jumped up moodily with a face of disgust and marched out of the chamber, muttering something about filthy Mudbloods.
As he left, someone else came in, and Hermioneís heart crumpled with dread. Draco Malfoy ran his cold, calculating eyes over the library and spotted her isolated in the corner among the several rows of bookshelves. Checking that nobody was watching, he crossed the room confidently to join her.
She glanced up at him. He looked almost as tired as she did Ė his face was strained with weariness and distress. His hair for once was out of place, hanging un-brushed over his steely eyes and ragged at the back. She thought it made him look more real, more human. She was tempted to tell him to keep it like that . . . it caused his appearance to be more alluring.
He sensed her thoughts and ran a hand uneasily through the pale strands of hair. He smiled nervously and sat down slowly opposite her. "I thought I might find you in here."
"Listen, about what happened Ė" she began, but he cut her off sharply.
" - I know, it was a mistake, and we canít allow it to happen again." He watched her intently. "But deep down I want it to."
She stood up angrily and moved away.
"Hermione, please!" He hurried after her. People in the library were staring now. "Just listen to me Ė give me a chance. Look, I donít know how it happened, but I know how I feel . . ." She gaped at him. She was witnessing a whole different side to Draco Malfoy Ė she was seeing the person he was capable of being: mature, sensible, honest . . . She waited for him to continue. "Iíve been thinking long and hard." He drew a breath and his eyes met hers, pinning her gaze there, daring her to look away. "And I came to a conclusion . . ." He shook his head. "I donít know why, I canít find the words to say."
"Would it help if we went somewhere else?" She offered, aware of everyone watching. He nodded and they left the library, stepping out into the pouring rain. The courtyard was a reminder of what had happened last night. She continued to follow him, back inside amongst the corridors, careful not to run into Filch with their dripping wet robes, and then outside again near the lake. Draco continued walking until he was sure they were out of sight under the trees. The lake rippled black and wrinkling with the torrents of falling rain. They were getting drenched, and were numb from the cold, but the words were more important than the feelings right now.
They passed Colin Creevy making his slow way back up towards the castle, camera in his hands and dripping wet.
He stopped at last and turned to look at her, his gaze penetrating. His hair slid dripping over his pallid forehead and his breathing was shown in the air. She looked up at him nervously, awaiting his words.
"Iím going to be honest. I like you, I mean I really like you, and Iíve felt this way for a long time now," he tried to explain. Never before had he revealed his emotions to anyone. He hoped desperately that she wouldnít laugh. He knew that if she did he would hate her. "It goes against everything Iíve been taught to believe Ė about dirty blood and family expectations, but I canít help the way I feel and I just wanted to tell you that . . ." he was speaking rapidly now, in a rush to get the words out, but he stopped to draw a breath. "I wanted to tell you that I didnít want last night to end. I want to pick up from where we left off, if you catch my drift."
"I do," she replied, smiling evenly now, but as she blinked the raindrops away from her eyelashes and they slid down her cheeks, the impossibilities consumed her. "But what about Harry? He and Ron wonít agree with this. Theyíll hate it Ė they hate you."
"Donít you think I know that?" He snapped irritably, a trace of his usual character coming through. "Iíve got my own things to face up to, if this is to work. First thereís my parents, their traditions, their arrangements . . . thereís my own beliefs that I canít so hastily push aside, thereís the fact that youíre supposed to be my enemy. Thereís my friends, my reputation, my inability to be good. So many complications." His features softened suddenly and he looked destroyed. "But then thereís the knowing truth that I canít give you up, and that Iím willing to go against all that for the sake of us being together."
She was incredulous. She was so plain, so ignorant to the ways of love . . . yet he was trading all he stood for so he could be with her. Was this an illusion, some kind of a dream?
"My love is like an onion," he continued, his face spreading into a wry grin. "It has so many layers, so many complications . . . but Iím certain that it exists, and I donít want it to end because of what we should be."
She moved towards him, taking comfort from the strong arms he held around her, and rested her head on his shoulder. Her hair dripped lank and dull with water and she shivered, retreating into his warmth. He held her tight, his face buried in her hair, and it seemed as if they could stay like that forever, if it werenít for the rest of the world.
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