Chapter 18 : Condolences
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Hermione couldn’t sleep that night.
Malfoy’s anger and the dream she had about him the last night she had seen Blaise were fighting against her; the dream side telling her there was more to him and the anger side telling her that was all he could be – a narcissistic hot head. She tossed and turned in bed all night, never falling asleep for more than half an hour at a time. Hermione remembered how he had been waiting for Amelia with a rose, and couldn’t stop wondering if maybe, just maybe, the dream was right...
But wasn’t that ridiculous? In the past 6 years they had never been friends, or even civil towards each other. It was inconceivable that they would end up together, much less get married. As much as she hated it, her mind was putting together blurry pictures of all the things they could do as a couple, which just aided in her lack of sleep.
She willed herself to sleep in, since it was Saturday, but eventually she gave up and trudged out of bed around 8 am so she could face her breakfast with Tyler at 9. Her mind was reminding her about how to dress sexy and walk so her hips swing slightly and smile with her eyes, but all she really wanted to do was go down in her sweats and eat as many carbs as she could. She had never been the type to try to keep up a figure, but Blaise had stressed the importance of watching what she ate. Just another trivial thing to add to her headache.
Tyler, however, was stressed out for different reasons. Hermione had been all he could think about since school started, and he had been so sure she would’ve said yes to him that first day since everyone knew he was a romantic. Isn’t that what girls wanted? He wanted so bad to impress her, even more so since she had blown him off. Blaise wasn’t good for a girl like her, she needed class and romance.
He arrived in the Great Hall 10 minutes before 9 and sat at the end of the Gryffindor table furthest away from the doors. The few people around him nodded a greeting then went back to what they were doing, but hardly anyone was there since most students slept in and waited until lunch to eat. His hands twiddled nervously, though he tried to look cool and collected. He wanted her to feel like this wasn’t a big deal, but at the same time realize that he really liked her. It wasn’t easy to do that. His eyes stayed on the doors, though he tried to look elsewhere so he didn’t look creepy, and a smile broadened on his face when she walked in.
She had put on a pair of dark skinny jeans, one of many gifts from Blaise to help her image, paired with her favorite fur lined moccasins and a cream colored sweater. The last thing she wanted was to sit pretty and listen to Tyler flirt with her all morning, but really, what else could she do?
Though everyone had seen her new look, the few clusters of eyes in the Great Hall watched her tired but sultry walk to Tyler, where she slid gracefully onto the end of the bench and smiled brightly. “Good morning Tyler.”
Tyler beamed back and picked up the pitcher of pumpkin juice in front of them. “Juice?”
She nodded and began filling her plate, not caring that she was pilling it on. Curves be damned, she was hungry and sad, and if Tyler wanted to judge her for eating like a normal human, well, what did he know anyway?
He chuckled briefly and forked some French toast, placing it down half on her eggs and half on her sausage. “Feeling hungry?”
Hermione nodded as she mixed crumpled bacon bits into her scrambled eggs before spooning it onto the French toast and taking a bite. “I haven’t eaten like myself lately.”
Tyler nodded. “Well you’d have to watch what you eat if you want to stay hot!” Upon realizing what he said he flushed scarlet and began shaking his hands. “I didn’t mean it like that! I just... And lately you’ve been-,”
“It’s alright, I know what you meant.” She placed a hand gently on his shoulder. “Really, don’t try so hard. I’m still me, I just have a better fashion sense.”
They laughed awkwardly before turning back to their food; Tyler trying to think of what to say now that he’d embarrassed himself, and Hermione figuring out the most polite way to excuse herself without hurting his feelings too much. She was about to make up an excuse about needing to talk to McGonagall about an essay when a swift and overbearing silence settled on her shoulders. Tyler looked at her, confusion clouding his face.
She looked past his head mumbling, “What?” but paused at the sight.
Blaise was standing in the doorway of the Great Hall ragged in appearance and carrying a big gold box. His eyes glazed over every single student until finally resting on Hermione’s shocked face. It felt as if he had been gone for ages, and though he looked exactly the same, she was staring at him as if he was a complete stranger. He smiled slightly at her before turning towards the Slytherin table.
“Hermione? Are you ok?”
Her eyes followed every step he took across the Great Hall. Draco, who she hadn’t noticed before, stood up and met Blaise swiftly halfway between the end of the table and the cool stone wall. They exchanged a few words before Blaise handed Draco the box, who walked out with it quickly. Then Blaise was smiling and walking towards her as if none of that interaction had just happened.
He plopped down none too gracefully across from Tyler and Hermione, reaching across and picking her goblet up as if he hadn’t had a drink in ages. “Morning Tyler,” he nodded and faced Hermione, “my love.”
Tyler’s mouth hung open. “He-hey Blaise, good to see you, mate.”
Blaise smiled. “You as well. Been keeping an eye on my girl, eh? Keeping her company while I was gone? Taking my place?”
Hermione grimaced as she caught the scent of the alcohol on his breath. “Blaise, you’re,”
“I’m great!” He nodded again at Tyler. “Can’t say as I’m as great as Tyler here though, he’s just itching to jump your bones ain’t he?”
She blushed and turned towards Tyler. “Tyler, Blaise is just being ridiculous, surely you can,”
“Can what? What can he do? He couldn’t even get you, now could he? Remember that? The first day of class?” Blaise laughed to himself loudly, too joyously. “That was quite a sight, remember it love? How panicked he looked?”
Tyler’s face clouded in embarrassment. “Come on now mate, I wasn’t trying to do anything, Hermione just seemed lonely with you gone and-,”
“And nothing! You just couldn’t wait to take her, could ya?”
Hermione’s eyes widened. “Blaise!”
He shrugged and got up. “Let’s go to your room, I’ve missed you.”
Tyler looked at Hermione pleading her to stay. “You don’t have to go.”
Blaise laughed as Hermione sighed and stood up. “I’m sorry Tyler, it’s just he’s drunk and I need to get him sobered up.”
Tyler shook his head and attempted a smile. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll uh, check on you later? Make sure everything’s fine?”
She nodded and grabbed Blaise firmly by the arm. “That’d be great.”
All eyes watched as the couple exited the Great Hall, darting their eyes down to the floor as Hermione neared then glancing back up as she passed. The school had grown used to her new demeanor; it was a shock to remember that before this year she had always been the motherly type between Ron and Harry, always stopping the arguments and intercepting whatever obstacles threatened their way. She had a look of determination, though her pride felt overly wounded, as she led Blaise away from their fellow students and towards the quiet of the chilled halls and stairways that would lead them up to Hermione’s dorm. He remained silent as stone as she led him gruffly, finally digging his feet in when they had reached the empty hallway that led to the library.
Hermione exhaled in frustration. “Blaise, knock it off. Your little stunt in the Great Hall just injured the reputation we both have tried so hard to maintain. I can’t believe you’d embarrass me like that! What the hell were you thinking!?”
He shrugged and crossed his arms over his chest.
“That’s it? You’re just going to shrug at me? And where the hell have you been? You just take off for days on end and don’t bother to let your girlfriend know? That was messed up, you could’ve left a note or sent an owl, you could’ve done something! Does all this crap have to do with Amelia?” She paused, but he didn’t say anything. “Say something!”
Blaise rolled his eyes and looked at Hermione, who had wandered a few steps away during her fit. He took in the stance he had seen many times in the previous years; her hips jutted to the right and her hands balled in to fists resting on the crooks. Her hair was in it’s naturally curly state and flared about angrily as she glared at him, her cotton candy pink glossed lips pursed tightly.
He shook his head and closed the gap between them in a few quick steps, taking her hands and kissing each one gently while she rolled her eyes in frustration. She avoided eye contact as he studied her features as if for the first time. He could just imagine the state he looked in, with his stubble and tangled unkept hair. He was handsome, more so than usual, but Hermione wouldn’t admit it.
Blaise softly kissed her forehead, his hands cupping her face softly, before looking into her eyes. “I’m sorry. There were some things I needed to tend to.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “And they were so pressing you couldn’t take a moment to mention that to me before you unexpectedly disappeared?”
He dropped his left hand to hold her right. “Something came up while I was away. It was overwhelming, to say the least, and I should’ve sent an owl but I was too absorbed. His untimely death took us all by surprise.”
Her face fell. “Death?”
His untrimmed wavy hair fell into his eyes as he nodded. “My father was a great man. His death shocked us all.”
Hermione’s heart sunk slightly, understanding why the boy who was usually so meticulous about appearances was now standing in front of her as if he had lived on the streets. He was upset.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him closely. “I’m so sorry Blaise... I had no idea...”
He hugged her back but didn’t linger. When he pulled away and faced her once more he seemed almost fine. “I’ve dwelled on it enough. Let’s head back to the common room.”
She nodded and kissed him softly before wrapping her hand in his once more.
They walked through the halls, now beginning to crowd with late risers, ignoring the curious stares at the reappearance of Blaise. Hermione wanted so badly to shield him and protect him from all the gossip that had surely already begun from his dramatic showing at breakfast, but each time she glanced to her right he seemed content, as if nothing had happened except a lack of grooming on his part.
When they reached the portrait Blaise murmured the password as if he had just been there yesterday. He stepped through first before turning and waiting for Hermione, who gasped as she stood next to him.
hello my dear readers! I’m so sorry it’s been forever and a day since I last updated, I was totally swamped with college finals and my attempts at the annual NANOWRIMO, which I did not complete! happy to say that I’m going to continue my nano story, Beneath Darkness, and will hopefully have it done before summer. that’s the plan at least!
so what did you think of the chapter? bet you didn’t see this coming! just wait until the next one, you’ll love it
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