Chapter 1 : This Feeling
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It’s about me.
It’s about the desk in front of us.
And mostly, it’s about utter stupidity.
“You love me.”
It’s said with a completely flat tone. She does not seem impressed.
This is not the reaction I imagined.
“You’re so full of shite.”
I blink. Once. Twice. I’m starting to feel insulted.
“I am not.”
She stares. “I’m going now.”
I watch her walk out the door, one wary glance in my direction as she leaves.
It’s silent for a moment in the wake of her absence.
“Why do you keep sending me flowers?”
I look up from my desk at the sound of her voice. She’s holding two bouquets, a confused, slightly suspicious expression adorning her features.
I look back down at my papers. “Because I love you.”
There’s another long silence and then I hear the clicking of her heels as she walks away.
I consider it progress that she took the flowers with her.
I turn the corner, my steps silent, and stop abruptly at the sight of her. I spin myself around and hide behind the wall, peering over to watch her.
She is smiling, talking to him. He is laughing, one hand in his pocket.
“Would you like to go out sometime?”
My fists clench at my side, my breath held as I wait to hear her answer.
She is silent for a moment.
“I’m sorry,” she says after a pause. “I can’t.”
I can breathe again.
“Why did you punch Seamus?”
I ignore her for a moment.
I turn towards her and she seems momentarily startled, perhaps because I’m angry.
She appears thrown off, hesitant. “Why did you punch Seamus?”
“I don’t know.”
Her eyes are narrowed, lips pursed. “You don’t know?”
I can hear the ticking of the clock, her quiet breathing, and the erratic beat of my heart.
“Because I love you.”
This time I’m the one who walks away first.
I notice that we are playing a sort of game.
She watches me when she thinks I don’t notice.
I look up when she finally lowers her gaze.
It is an endless cycle.
I wonder what she sees.
I set the food down on her desk.
“What is this?”
I hand her a fork. “Lunch.”
She seems slightly exasperated. “Lunch?”
I can feel her staring for a moment, obvious vexation in her gaze. Then she sighs and I watch from under lowered eyelids as she opens the food and begins to eat.
I can’t help the small smile that forms on my face, or stop it from growing when I see her own mouth curve upwards.
“What are your favorite things?”
I look up, slightly surprised at the question. “What?”
She’s staring straight at me, an intent look in her eyes. “What are you favorite things?”
I want to say her. “I don’t know.”
She looks exasperated again. “You have to know.”
“Well…” She seems at a loss for words, bewilderment flitting across her features. “Because everyone knows.”
“Do they?” I shrug.
She is silent for a moment and then she stands up and leaves.
I watch her walk away, something off in the way she steps.
She pauses momentarily. “Yes?”
Her back is still towards me.
“Are you alright?”
“I don’t know.”
I blink, confused. “You don’t know?”
She turns her head slightly in my direction, something tired and weary in her gaze. “Do you know what I don’t know really means, Blaise?”
I watch her carefully, uncertain where she is going with this.
“It means you don’t feel comfortable sharing with the person asking.”
I say nothing.
“You tell me you love me.” She says it flatly again, much like she had in her office. “Yet you can’t even bring yourself to tell me your favorite things.”
I go to stand up, ashamed at what seems to be the sign of tears forming in her eyes. She shakes her head, a wordless don’t bother.
I do what it seems like I’ve been doing my entire life.
And watch her walk away.
She has been ignoring me for days now.
I watch her walk by without a glance in my direction.
I hadn’t realized how empty I felt without what had become our daily lunches.
My desk seems empty without her across from it. There is too much space.
There is too much of nothing.
“I like the color blue.”
She looks up, expression guarded. “What?”
I lean against the doorway, trying to keep direct eye contact.
“I like the color blue. I like books. My favorite season is the fall, my favorite foods are everything bad for me, and my favorite person is you.”
I notice her fingers can’t seem to stop moving. “Why?”
I look up, surprised. “What?”
“Why are they your favorite things?”
I blink, feeling awkward, but knowing I have to do this. For her. For me. For us.
“Blue is the color of the water that led to Hogwarts, the only place I felt safe. Books are the worlds that I could escape to and not live in my own. Fall is the time of year I got to leave home. Food well,” I grin a bit, shrugging guiltily, “I guess I just have a sweet tooth.”
She’s smiling now, a small, lovely look that has my entire body warming.
I feel my gaze softening as I stare at her. “You’re a bit harder to explain.”
I run a hand through my hair, wondering how to say this the right way. “You’re my friend.”
She has the most amusing expression on her face. One of her eyebrows is raised and her lips are pursed in the most awkward position. I have a hard time not laughing.
“I trust you.” I know she probably doesn’t understand the importance of that statement. “I’ve never trusted anyone the way I’ve trusted you. I know, even if you won’t always do exactly the right thing, you’ll always try.”
I can’t help but find her beautiful in all her confusion, her mind obviously trying to sort out what I’m saying.
“That’s lovely, Blaise.” She pauses, hesitant. “But that doesn’t add up to love. Not in, you know, that way.”
I snort, slightly amused at the bewildered and then indignant expression on her face.
“Are you laughing at me?”
She goes to stand up and I roll my eyes, swiftly moving across the room and pushing her down. I sit on her desk, ignoring her cry of protest and spin her chair till she’s directly situated in front of me, our eyes meeting.
“Hermione Granger,” I say quite simply, “I love you.”
I put a finger to her lips, stopping her from shooting off the inevitable fifty million questions that would follow.
“I can never give you an exact reason for why. I can tell you I love everything about you. I could go on for quite awhile telling you about all the little things you do that amuse me, that annoy me, that frustrate me. I could spend the next three years of my life trying to explain it to you, but when I say I don’t entirely know, it doesn’t mean that I don’t trust you with it. It means that it’s too much, it’s too many feelings, for me to express it in words.”
I wait for that to sink in, watching her expression carefully. “The fact is that you invoke every feeling in me possible. You invoke feelings in the person whose spent most of his life trying to feel nothing at all. I don’t know what your definition of love is. I don’t know what you need to hear to convince you that I’m being truthful. What I’m asking is for you to trust me the way I trust you. I’m asking for you to give me a real chance to prove to you that I do love you.”
“I’m not going to be perfect all the time. I’ll probably hurt you and make you wonder why you decided to give me that chance. But I’m going to try. I’m going to try to be the best thing for you. I’m always going to be there when you need me and I’m always going to love you.”
I don’t know if it’s enough. I don’t know if that’s what she needed to hear. Her expression is, possibly for the first time since I’ve known her, completely indecipherable. She’s looking at me in a way I’ve never quite seen before. There is confusion, suspicion, and wariness, but there is also something else. There is the tiny shimmer of belief in the uncertainty.
“Please.” I’m not sure why I said that word. I’m not sure why it escaped. All I know is that I’m willing to beg for a chance, for a shot at something bigger. Something better. Something with her.
She moves her chair back, away from me.
I watch her uncertainly.
She stands up slowly, brushing imaginary dust off her skirt.
My heart is pounding. My palms are sweaty.
“I want a date.”
I stare. “Excuse me?”
There is something else in her expression now, something confident. My eyes narrow.
“A date,” she repeats, voice prim. “Food, flowers, you making me feel like the most wanted girl in the world.”
She snorts, a sound that should not be as lovely as it is. “This is not a hard concept Blaise. Convince me. Take me out. Say the sappy things. Tell me your life story. Don’t just love me. Be in love with me.”
The room is silent besides the quiet ticking of the clock and our breathing.
I wait a moment. “A date.”
“Not a date. Dates.”
“Dates,” I correct myself.
I run a hand through my hair.
She could never just make it easy on me.
“Tomorrow night. Seven.”
Her smile is a slow, beautiful bloom. “Casual or formal wear?”
I can’t help the laugh that escapes me. “Formal. I don’t do things halfway.”
“Good.” She stares at me for a moment, eyes warm with something I think I recognize as affection. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You’ll be seeing me everyday.”
She stops for a minute and then shakes her head, laughing. “Convince me.”
I take in the curve of her head, the tilt of her lips, the light in her eyes, and the face of the woman I love.
“I will. Promise.”
Her features seem to become softer before she turns. I catch up with her moments before she exits, taking her arm in mine.
She seems surprised. “What are you doing?”
“Not watching you walk away.”