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Chapter 14 : Chapter 14
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“Hermione, HERMIONE, WAKE UP, COME ON, WAKE UP.” Her eyes opened, wide and fearful. The arms were around her now, holding her securely. Soft comforting words were coming from the mouth right next to her ear. “Shhh, honey. It’s okay. You had a bad dream, sweetheart. It’s over, hush now, it’s over.”
She held on to him with a strength that neither of them knew she possessed. Her racing heart began to slow its frantic beating. Draco was only wearing his boxers and his shoulder was soon as wet as her face from the tears that flowed freely. Slowly she calmed down. Draco made her lay back in the bed. “Feeling better now?” he asked quietly.
“Y… yes, I’m sorry I disturbed you.”
“Don’t be silly, I wasn’t going to ignore you yelling like that was I? Do you want to talk about it?”
“No! Please don’t ask me to talk about it. I’m never going to talk about it.” He stood beside the bed.
“Okay, if you’re sure you’re feeling better; I’ll go back to bed.”
“NO! Please Draco, don’t leave me alone, please. Stay with me, I need you here. I don’t want to go to sleep again. Please love, stay with me. I’m scared.” Draco lifted the duvet and climbed in beside her. He lay with his arm around her.
“You should try to sleep again Hermione; I’m going to need you with me when I visit my Mother tomorrow.”
“Oh Draco, I’m glad, you won’t regret it, you’ll see.” She snuggled closer, taking the hand of the arm around her shoulders and holding it against her breast, “I missed you here earlier, I’m sorry. I didn’t realise how much I like sleeping with you, even when we don’t make love.” She tingled when he lightly brushed his thumb over the peak of the soft round flesh he was holding.
“I missed you too; it set me thinking though, about a couple of things, which is what you wanted, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah.” She stifled a yawn, “If you’ll keep holding me, I’ll try to sleep. Just don’t leave me alone.” She was already starting to sound drowsy, drifting into an uneasy sleep. Draco was woken twice more during the night by the sound of Hermione whimpering and stirring restlessly. He stroked her hair and murmured soft words to calm her.
Hermione awoke feeling as though she had not slept for a single minute of the long, horrible night. They had become disentangled whilst sleeping and she eased herself out of bed and headed for the bathroom. At the door she stopped and looked back at Draco’s sleeping face. God, Draco, I love you so much, she thought. Her thoughts died as, in her minds-eye, his face morphed into the evil grin of her ‘dream Draco’. She heard the words again, ‘inside I was cringing’. She tore her gaze away and closed the bathroom door, before slumping to the floor sobbing bitterly.
Two hours later they were due to set off to St. Mungo’s, when Draco said unexpectedly, “Sit down, Hermione.”
“Why? We have to be going, don’t we?”
“Not until I find out what’s going on.”
“Going on? What do you mean?”
“You’re acting strange, Hermione. Since I got up this morning, you haven’t looked at me. Not once. I’ve tried to kiss you twice and you’ve pulled away. I want to know why. Look at me, Hermione and tell me why.” She had been looking at the floor, her hands clasped tightly in front of her, knuckles white. She fought hard and failed to stop the tears,
“I… I can’t, Draco. Please don’t ask again.”
“Sorry Hermione, I can’t do that.” He sat beside her and put an arm around her. “If I’ve done something wrong then please tell me so I can put it right. I suspect it’s to do with your nightmare, am I right?
“Look at me Hermione.”
“I can’t. I can’t, because if I do I’m going to see him, I mean the ‘you’ from my dream, the evil you.”
“So it is me, I thought so. Hermione, I’m trying to understand, but it’s difficult when I don’t know what it is I’m trying to understand. I need you to tell me about your nightmare. I know it will be hard for you, but you have to help me so I can help you.”
“I can’t Draco, if you love me, please don’t make me, it’s too awful.” Frustration got the better of him.
“Fine!” He stood and walked to the fireplace and took some Floo powder.
“Fine! I do love you Hermione but if you can’t even look at me, what’s the damned point..? I’ll see you later… say five years or so… maybe.” In the green flames he said, “St. Mungo’s.”
It was under a minute after he left when his words registered in her head. Five years, what did he mean by that? Surely he didn’t mean… No, please not that. She could not stop the little voice in her head that whispered ‘he just broke up with you’. As fed up as she was with crying, she couldn’t do anything else for the next five minutes.
She moped around the apartment for the rest of the morning. Some semblance of order slowly returned to her brain. She did not know what to do. Should she follow him to St. Mungo’s? Should she wait here? What should she do when she saw him? Five years… he surely wasn’t serious was he? She knew he was right. What sort of relationship could they have if she couldn’t even look at him? It was just a stupid nightmare and she had to get over it. She forced herself to remember her dream, over and over. She would keep doing it until it didn’t hurt anymore.
By early afternoon she was feeling better about her dream, but she was concerned that Draco had not returned. Five years… those words kept recurring. She was determined not to cry again. Finally, feeling like she was ready to burst, she summoned Gabby. The little elf appeared instantly.
“Gabby, I’m going out and I’m not sure when I’ll be back. If Mr Draco returns can you let me know immediately, no matter where I am?”
The elf looked puzzled, “Of course, Miss, I’m an elf.” Her expression clearly said; what a silly question.
Hermione took the Floo to the hospital and asked directions to the room of Mrs Malfoy. Her heart dropped when the nurse there told her that there had been no visitors that day; or any other for that matter. Nobody in Diagon Alley had seen Draco either. Hermione’s mood was now somewhere in the region of her shoes and it was becoming harder to maintain her composure. She needed help and that meant her next destination could be only one place.
Draco stepped out of the Floo at St. Mungo’s and went directly to the Apparation point. In Diagon Alley he walked briskly through the Leaky Cauldron without being noticed, and out into Muggle London. In seconds he was in the nearest bar sinking the first of many large scotches he would imbibe that afternoon. The third pub was quiet and dim. The barman brought Draco his refill. “Is she worth it?” he asked. Draco’s expression must have asked the question. “I’ve been in this job a long time. I know a broken heart when I see one. So, is she worth it?”
“Absolutely, 100 per cent.”
“Then why the fuck are you sitting around in pubs getting pissed?”
“Because she can’t bring herself to look at me. I did nothing but appear in a nightmare she had, and now she won’t even look me in the face. She won’t even tell me what I did to her in the dream.”
“It must have been pretty bad if she won’t or can’t look at you. Listen son…”
“I. Am. Not. Your. Son.” Draco punctuated the words to drive the point home. The barman ignored the comment.
“Do you love her?”
“God yes! She’s beautiful, smart, and sexy. She’s everything I want.” The man placed another drink in front of him.
“This one’s on the house. Finish it and go find her. Don’t push it, she’ll tell you when she’s ready. Send me a wedding invitation. Good luck.”
Draco sat on the low wall surrounding one of the fountains in Trafalgar Square. In the pub’s toilet he had risked performing a sobering spell on himself, a dangerous thing to do when one was drunk. The consequences of getting it wrong were horrendous. He was remembering the events of that morning, and for the first time tried to view things from Hermione’s point of view. Oh shit, she would really believe he had left her, she was hurting before he spoke those words, what must she be feeling now?
Her dream must have been really bad if the result was that she could not even look at him. What did I do to her in that dream? The only crime he could think of was rape. But why would she think or imagine that I would rape her. I don’t need to, we love each other. He was confident that during the physical act of love he had never done anything that was against her will. He had never suggested anything weird or outrageous. She had taken the lead on more than one occasion. Happy time, that had become her pseudonym for sex.
So why would she… oh dammit, he couldn’t ask himself that question again. He didn’t know the answer. An idea came to him. Just suppose it was his alter-ego, the ‘old’ Draco Malfoy. The antithesis of everything he had become. That would fit. That had to be it.
This is going to be more than a ‘quick kiss and make up’ situation. You prat! You 100 per cent, dyed-in-the-wool, 24 carat gold, unmitigated, undiluted fucking PRAT! You deserve to lose her; you never deserved her in the first place.
Hermione apparated to the Burrow, she knew she was welcome enough to walk in without knocking. Molly was in the kitchen, “Hermione, darling, good to see… what’s the matter, you’ve been crying?”
“Yes, and I’m going to start again any minute now. Where’s Ginny? I really need to speak with her.”
“She’s up in her room with Harry. I don’t want to know what they might be doing. Go on up, it might be best to knock first.” Climbing the stairs, she felt the first tear leave her eye. She took a deep breath and knocked. Under normal circumstances Ginny’s cry of ‘Just a minute’ and the sound of frantic movement would have made her smile. But not today. The second tear dribbled down as Ginny said,
“Come in.” Ginny was sitting in front of her mirror calmly brushing her hair. Harry was on the bed looking decidedly flushed. Reflected in the mirror Ginny saw her friend give in to the emotion engulfing her and moved quickly to embrace the girl in the mirror.
“What on earth is the matter ‘Ne?” the reply was indistinct. She felt Hermione stiffen as Harry joined them. “Harry.”
“Get out, leave us alone.” He knew better than to argue but as he went to leave he caught a glimpse of Hermione’s left hand.
“Hermione, where is your engagement ring?” Sobs punctuated her reply,
“I… I took it off Harry. Draco… Draco broke up with me.”
“On yer broom, Harry, go away until further notice”. Under a heavy protest, Harry departed as instructed. “Now Hermione, sit down and tell me all about it.”
Hermione talked, telling Ginny of the nightmare without going into the substance of the dream. Ginny sighed heavily, with more than a hint of sarcasm, “He’s a git, isn’t he? I mean imagine, dumping you for the trivial reason that you won’t look at him. He shouldn’t have done that. I’m going to Avada his arse when I see him. Then you won’t have to worry about him anymore. You can go back to Ron.”
“Ginny, what are you saying? I know you’re not really going to kill Draco, how can I go back to Ron, even if I wanted to, which I most certainly don’t. I still love Draco.”
“Yet you took his ring off your finger. You gave it up at the first sign of trouble. How much do you really love him if he’s not worth fighting for? Do you really love him at all?” Hermione did not need to consider her reply
“Oh God Ginny, I do love him. I do.” Ginny leaned close and said softly,
“Then get off your fat arse and go to him. I bet he’s hurting as much as you. And…” Crack, Gabby stood before them. The two startled girls relaxed.
“Ah, Miss Hermione, Gabby is coming to tell you Mr Draco is returned. He is looking for Miss Hermione, most quickly.”
“Oh my God, Ginny. I left the ring on the coffee table, what’s he going to think when he finds it?”
“Maybe he’ll think that you don’t love him anymore. Go on, get out of here. I’ll see you back at school next week.”
Hermione took hold of Gabby’s hand, “Take me to him, Gabby, quickly.”
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