Chapter 20 : One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.
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Hello readers :) Okay, so I realized, thanks to a reviewer of mine, that this story was going to lose its touch if I didn't move it forward. And fast. So to speed things up a bit, I took the story forward, literally, by two months. I hope it's turned out okay. I just didn't want to lose my flow by making the story head to nowhere.
Hermione turned to her side and stared at the empty place on the bed beside her. She was staying at the Burrow with Ginny, Harry and some of the other Weasleys while she... recovered. Even though she wasn't at home, she felt like something was missing. Something that she needed like oxygen. It scared her to think that that very thing she was missing and needed was Draco Malfoy. It scared her to think what would happen if they were to return to their actual reality the next day. What would happen then? Would everything go back to normal? It scared her to think, though she tried an denied it, that he would forget what happened between them when they returned. It scared her to think that nothing would be the same again.
Because she wanted something to happen. Whether it was the hormones or her actual emotions, she had fallen. And she had fallen hard. Somehow, she knew that it wasn't hormones either. It went deeper. Much deeper. And she was bloody scared.
She stretched her arm out and placed her hand on the pillow beside her's on the double bed she was lying in. There was no one to hold her hand. No one to make fun of her. No one to take her nightmares away.
Her throat constricted and she felt the sudden urge to cry. Again. It had been four days since that night. He had called. More than a several times. And she hadn't picked up once. He had come to the Burrow to look for her. They had told him she wasn't there.
She didn't know how to go back to him. What would she say if she did? They would never be the same again. She had fallen too hard and he- what about him? Where was he? Not in the physical sense. In the emotional sense. Where were they?
Last time she had checked, they were what? Friends? Yet, now, so suddenly...
It seemed crazy. Absolutely insane. But it made absolute sense.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she squeezed her eyes shut tightly.
She'd just have to get through this- taking day by single day.
They'd just have to get through this taking day by single day.
* * *
Draco lay on his side, staring at the empty space beside him on the bed. He had slept in Hermione's room since the night she left. He had called her, she hadn't picked up. People refused to tell him where she was. And these- these emotions coursing through his veins. They were just too damn new to him.
He hadn't meant what he had said that day! Ever since she had left, he had been miserable. He had barely slept. And it scared him to think he had grown so used to her being around.
He slept on her bed because her smell had lingered on the pillows, on the blanket. It seemed to be the only thing that kept him sane. And it scared him to think how that was even possible.
And Aaron? The poor kid was miserable again. He had cried more than thrice in the past four days and Draco had to hold him. He wasn't even uncomfortable. It scared him to think he was no longer who he was before. Was that even a good thing?
He moved his arm and placed his hand on her pillow.
It was plain stupid to try and deny what he was feeling. He was way past that. He had fallen for her. And he had fallen deeply.
It scared him to think that he no longer just needed her beside him. He wanted her beside him. And a need and a want are two very different things.
He closed his eyes. Tomorrow would come and he could only hope that she returned. If she didn't, he'd just have to get through this taking day by single day.
* * *
(22nd october, friday.)
Draco held the mobile to his ear, hoping to Merlin she finally chose to pick up.
"H-hello?" Draco closed his eyes, releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding.
"Hi", He responded.
There was a pause and then, "-How are you?"
"Where are you?" He said instead.
"The Burrow." Draco slipped his fingers through his hair tiredly. He was seated at the kitchen table, a coffee mug lying beside him. It was eleven in the night and Aaron was asleep upstairs. It had been a week since their... disagreement? Fight? He didn't even know how to term it.
"I came there searching for you", He said. He heard her sigh.
"How are you?" He asked.
"I- How's Aaron?" She asked, avoiding his question. How was she? She had no bloody idea. She had spent her nights crying and her days in her room, just going over... everything.
"He misses you. He asked me why you left but- I didn't have an answer. He dropped it. But he keeps asking when you're going to come back..."
"How are you?" She asked, returning to the question she had asked at the beginning of the conversation.
"The house is empty without you". He choked out, not able to actually say that he missed her. She understood.
"I'm sorry I left- I needed time."
"Just- just come back, Granger", He said, feeling his chest tighten uncomfortably.
"I- I don't know if I'm- Malfoy, things arent-"
"I know how things are. Messed up. I messed up. Majorly. I don't know what to do but... damn, Granger, I- I need you."
She kept silent for a second and then said, "You need someone like me?"
He took a deep breath and tried to calm down, his eyes open but staring blankly at the wall opposite him.
"Yes, I do. I told you, I messed up the other day. I didn't mean what I said- I was- I was confused! I didn't know what to think! Ive never-"
"Don't say it. Please don't say it." She rushed out. Don't talk about feelings, she thought, not when mine are so damn strong.
"Can we just- can we go back to before?" He asked quietly, knowing things would never be the same. Not when he had fallen so hard.
"How long before?" She asked in a whisper, tears rising to her eyes. Before I fell for you? Before everything?
"However long before you want", He replied, resting his chin on his folded arms on the table. "Anything you want."
"I went to Dumbledore."
"You went to who?" He asked, sitting up straight.
"Dumbledore- you know, headmaster of Hogwarts." She said, sounding a tad bit amused.
"Yes, I know who he is!" He said, rolling his eyes. "Why did you go?"
"I asked him if there was a way back."
And for some reason, Draco felt his heart get stuck in his throat. She wanted to go that far back? To that long before? "...And?" He almost didn't want to hear the answer.
"I explained the situation to him and he said that it sounded like something he would do."
"The old loon."
"He's not a loon, Malfoy", She scolded, though a hint of a smile in her voice. "He said that there was probably something that reversed the time again- and judging by his knowledge about himself-"
"He said that?" Draco interrupted, his eyebrows raised.
"Yes, to quote, he said "Inferring from what I know about myself-"
"Stop it. He's a very-"
"Save me the speech and go on."
"He said that it was most probably something to do with- um, emotions. Somehow our emotions, after reaching a particular designated point that he set, would reverse the time automatically."
"So it's something we have no control over?" Draco asked, puzzled.
"Basically." She said.
There was silence. Finally Draco said softly, "I can't take one more sleepless night..."
And to his surprise, she said- "Neither can I."
"Will you come home?" He asked, not knowing that Hermione's tears returned to her eyes when he said 'home'.
"Soon..." She said.
"O-okay..." Draco nodded even though she couldn't see him.
"Okay..." She repeated. "I'll see you then...soon."
"Yeah, see you". He said and held the phone to his ear until he heard the line go dead. He chucked the mobile across the table and leaned back in his chair, his eyes closed. What would happen when she came back? Would everything, indeed, return to as it was?
* * *
Three days later, on the 25th of October, Draco heard the front door click open. He jumped off his seat and practically threw himself out of the kitchen. He stopped at the kitchen doorway, just taking her in. Merlin, he had missed her. Her brown hair falling down her shoulders and her fringe hanging over her eyes- which looked tired and sad. She was dressed in jeans and a trench coat over her outfit. She saw him and a weak smile appeared on her face.
"Hi." He found himself say, his heart racing.
"Hey." She choked out. The sight of him. He looked tired. Like he hadn't slept a single day. She hadn't. But now- seeing him- it's like these dark heavy clouds that had been hanging over her had suddenly cleared out, giving way to sunshine. Since when had he begun having that effect on her?
"You came back." He said, still frozen to the spot.
She nodded, looking down at her fidgeting hands, not wanting him to see the tears that had appeared in her eyes. She took a deep breath and then turned away from him, fearing that if she stayed a second longer, the tears would not hesitate to spill over.
"I made a mistake", He said, finding the need to just say anything to make her stop. He took a shaky breathe which Hermione heard and she turned around. A lone tear made it's way down her cheek against her wishes. Draco had the sudden urge to move forward and hold her and tell her not to cry... But it wasn't his place. It could never be his place. Could it?
"I made a mistake, Hermione", He said and watched as another tear followed her first and then another, "I was scared. This is new to me and it's driving me mad! It wasn't you, I swear to Merlin... And... I'm sorry! I- I wasn't thinking... I- I made a mistake. I shouldn't have said what I did. I don't have a single problem with you and that's the problem itself. I-" She squeezed her eyes shut and twin tears rolled down her cheeks. Her whole body was now shaking slightly with silent sobs.
He strode forward and cupped her face with his hands, causing her to open her eyes and look up. Their eyes met and more tears welled up in her's.
"I've been wrong all this while, Hermione," Draco said, "Ive been wrong about everything. The thing is that I didn't think I could handle your intensity, your reaction to everything that happens to me... I was scared of your intensity and-"
"I scare you?" Hermione asked, about to push his hands away but he shook his head and held her wrists with one hand and left the other on her cheek.
"No... You dont! Your intensity does. I mean- it's so new. Ive never- been- been cared for by anybody except my mother and Pansy and Blaise. I thought it scared me- this concept of feelings. I tried to stay away but it followed me everywhere. I didn't know what to do and it drove me insane! That's why I lashed out. Im programmed like that- if I end up in an unknown territory, I lash out. I- I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said. You just- you just left and you had the right to but dammit, I realized that I can't even go a day without you near me", He said, his voice choked with emotion. "I made a mistake and Im so sorry... I'm so sorry".
Hermione broke down completely, tears falling rapidly one after the other down her cheeks. She couldn't believe what she was hearing? What was she saying? What did this mean?
"Please just never leave me again. You're the only one other than my mother who could ever be my light in the darkness. I was miserable without you. I realized- I realized that I didn't only just need you. I want you with me." He found himself saying everything he needed to get off his chest.
Hermione choked back a sob, closing her eyes. He moved closer to her and leaned his forehead against her's gently, his hand dropping her wrists and cupping her other cheek. She opened her eyes and looked at him through her blurred vision.
"I want you with me", He said, but then his eyes grew serious and sad, "But I don't know if I'm too late, I don't know if-"
Hermione cut him off by shaking her head, "You're not too late. You'd never be too late..." Tears rolled down her cheeks, "I want to be with you too." Both smiled through their tears and remained where they were, foreheads against each other, their faces barely a few inches apart, tears falling down their cheeks.
"Im going to go check on Aaron", She said after they stood like that for a few long seconds. He nodded and slowly let go of her and she stepped away. She was just about to head upstairs when he called her name.
"Granger." She turned around and sent him a questioning look. He didn't answer, instead giving into his growing urge. He strode up to her. He placed one hand one her cheek again and the other on her shoulder. She watched as he slowly leaned forward, giving her an indication as to what he was doing and giving her time to pull away if she wanted to. When she didn't, he pressed his lips against her's softly. It was so tender, gentle yet held so much emotion. She placed her hands lightly on his shoulders and kissed him back.
He knew he had to stop. If he didn't stop now, he wouldn't be able to if it went on. He pulled away and began moving towards the staircase. She was left frozen there, feeling a little rejected and confused yet... content?
He turned around- "Granger." She turned to him and saw him hold his hand out.
"Aaron would like to see you, Im sure." He said, smiling softly. And she understood. He hadn't stopped because he wanted to. She smiled back at him and put her hand in his. He laced their fingers together and headed up to Aaron's room. Together.
* * *
A month passed and then two. They followed the same daily routine and began living as if they actually belonged there. They grew used to this other reality's ways and felt almost like they belonged there. So much that they began wondering how they would adjust once they returned to- their past? Their actual present? What would they call it? Their actual reality? Yes. Their actual reality.
Everything was running smoothly- well, as smoothly as possible- until one day. It was the 22nd of December and Hermione had three months till she was due. The Daily Prophet had a whole three page spread about her pregnancy once she had begun showing and several rumors spread- most revolving around "What happened to Ritch Mcenzee?" What indeed...
Hermione looked away from the television screen and towards the window as she heard a tapping against the glass. A brown and white owl was perched at the sill, a letter attached to it's foot. She got up, her hand resting on her stomach and went to open the window. Upon seeing the St.Mungo's crest on the letter, she hurriedly untied the letter and the owl promptly flew away, without waiting for a response.
She ripped open the seal and unfolded the letter, her eyes scanning the print. Her heart hitched in her throat as she read the lines neatly written there. She didn't know what to think of it. She didn't know if she was supposed to tell Draco immediately or not. She- she couldn't... What if he- how would he react? No, she would keep it to herself and-
A thought struck her.
She knew what she needed to do.
* * *
Hermione entered the house on 24th evening at eleven in the night. She smiled as she saw Draco's outline asleep on the couch. She was glad that over these months, both their nightmares had decreased immensely and they could fall asleep without being afraid of being woken up by their horrifying images.
She was torn between waking him up and telling him to go sleep comfortably upstairs and leaving him on the couch to sleep. He looked so peaceful... She took her coat off and placed it on the coffee table and moved towards him, choosing the former option. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she shook him gently.
"Malfoy, wake up", She said. His eyebrows came together first and then his eyes slowly fluttered open. Upon seeing Hermione, he sat up instantly.
"What's wrong? Are you okay?" He asked, looking at her. She smiled softly.
"I'm fine. You were just looking awfully uncomfortable sleeping here so I woke you up. Go upstairs and sleep", She said as he stood up.
"Did you just come back?" He asked sleepily.
"A few minutes ago."
"Where were you?" He asked. "It's what- twelve in the night? I tried staying up but you didn't come back."
"It's eleven and Im sorry, I got late."
"Where were you?" He asked again.
She hesitated before saying, "Last minute preparations."
"You shouldn't overwork yourself, you know", He said as they made their way up the staircase. "It's not good for you or the baby."
"Speaking of which," Hermione smiled, "We get to know the gender of the little one tomorrow..."
"It's christmas tomorrow."
"I figured", Hermione laughed lightly. He cracked a grin.
"No, I mean- Ive never actually had a proper christmas at home. I don't remember how it was before the Dark Lord and I shudder to remember how it was with him. After he left, we were still all recovering- never a proper christmas. So this is going to be different."
"It's going to be amazing", Hermione said.
"I hope nothing ruins it."
Hermione fell silent and her smile disappeared. What if he hated her for doing what she did?
"Me too..." She said softly, hoping that he wouldn't.
"You'll be okay?" He asked, nodding towards her room and indirectly asking her if she needed him to be with her, as he did every other night.
"I'll be fine. Goodnight, Malfoy." She said, opening her room door and entering.
" 'Night, Granger".
How angry would he be? She asked herself. However angry, she would be ready.
* * *
"Are you ready, Mrs.Malfoy?" Healer Riley asked, stepping towards Hermione, who was lying down in her St.Mungo's gown on a bed. Draco was standing beside her, Aaron in his arms. They had exchanged christmas presents early in the morning- Aaron received a new broomstick from Draco that would change size as he grew up and a new book from, obviously, Hermione. They were going to go to The Burrow for lunch after the appointment to find out the gender of the baby.
Hermione took a deep breathe and nodded. The healer waved her wand over Hermione's stomach and muttered incantations under her breathe. She then moved to a screen to the side of the room and projected an image onto it. The healer let out an audible exclamation of awe and Hermione looked at Draco and Aaron, who were staring transfixed at the older lady.
"What is it, Healer Riley?" She asked, her heart madly with nervousness and excitement as she sat up straight.
The greying lady turned around and smiled warmly at the family in front of her. "Congratulation, Mr and Mrs Malfoy, you're going be having a baby girl."
Tears immediately filled Hermione's eyes and she turned to her... husband and son. They were grinning as they moved closer to Hermione. Aaron hugged his mother tightly and said, "Im getting a baby sister."
"Yes, you are." She nodded, laughing and crying at the same time. Aaron shifted to the side to give access to his father. Hermione stood up and placed her hands lightly on his shoulders.
"We're getting a daughter", She whispered, looking into pools of stormy blue. He nodded, feeling more happy than he had been in a long time.
"We are", He said and before he knew what had happened, Hermione had stood on her toes and kissed him softly. He barely had time to react before she pulled away, blushing. She had just... she had just kissed him! Straight on! Without giving it a second thought! Draco stared at her as she looked anywhere but at him. What had just happened? For two months, they had pushed everything away- and now? She just kissed him.
And then he was grinning, feeling warm inside. This day couldn't get any better... It just couldn't...
* * *
Lunch with the others went amazing. When Hermione had announced that they were having a girl, Luna had said that they had found out last week that they were having a girl too.
Before they knew it, the day was ending and night was closing in. And Hermione knew it was time... She told Draco she would be right back before disappearing through the flames in the fireplace, wrapping a thick cloak around her on Draco's insistence.
Draco couldn't get the grin off his face. He had never felt stupider. He had tried and tried but it wouldn't leave. He now knew how it felt to be so insanely happy. He headed to the staircase, calling for Aaron and his little son responded "Down here."
So down he went. And then froze at the middle of the staircase. Hermione was standing there, by the coffee table, a nervous expression on her face. Aaron was standing beside her, half hiding behind her legs. Draco's eyes moved to the lady beside Hermione on the other side. His mother looked as grand as ever, dressed in rich green robes. But that's not what made him freeze. That's not what made the smile disappear from his face in an instant. What made those things happen was the man standing across his family.
Lucius Malfoy was dressed in black robes, leaning against a wooden cane. Draco climbed down the remaining steps and his pace increased as he got closer to Lucius. He shoved the older man behind, causing him to stumble and hit the side of the fireplace.
"Draco!" Narcissa gasped and Hermione hurried forward.
"What the hell is he doing here?!" Draco roared, his hands clenched into fists by his side.
"Draco, listen-" Hermione said from behind him. He spun around and pointed his index finger at her.
"You brought him here, didn't you?" He snapped. She flinched but nodded.
"Why would you do that?!" He growled, looking back at his... father. Lucius stood where he was, now leaning against the fireplace instead, his cane in his other hand. "Why're you here? Who gave you the permission to be here?!"
"Please, just listen to us-" Hermione started but the look he gave her scared her and she fell silent. He was angry. Very angry.
"You had no right to bring him here", He said, rage burning in his eyes. "You had NO right!" And then he began putting pieces together in his head. "Yesterday night you went somewhere. Last minute preparations, you said. Was this it?" He demanded.
She swallowed hard. "Yes", She answered weakly "It was bringing your father here."
"He's not my father!" Draco yelled, absolutely livid. "He will never be my father! Why is he here?!" He spun to face Lucius. "Get out! Get out of my house!"
"Draco-" Narcissa started and he turned to her. His expression turned to slight confusion when he saw that both his mother and Hermione had tears in their eyes. "Just listen as to why he's here."
"Pray tell, mother, why is he here?" Draco asked, his body shaking with anger.
"Draco", Hermione said, stepping towards him. He moved away from her. She felt her heart break. She took one step forward, he took to steps back.
"How could you do this to me?" He asked, disbelief laced with the anger in his voice. "How could you do this to me?!"
Another step forward, two more behind. Her heart ached more.
And more as she said the next few words- "Draco, your father is dying."
* * *
DUM DUM DUMMMMMM. CLIFFIEEEE. Oh oh oh and their kiss finallyllyyyyy :D YAYYY. Their finally semi-together! AFTER 20 CHAPTERS AUINREIUNFEIUNF ^^
I haven't updated in a while and I'm so sorry! Ive had a lot going on here- dance competition, my birthday coming up etc etc, exam results.
Anyway, I'm sorry TRTL readers- i know it was your turn for an update but i got this done before TRTL'S next!
oh and check out my second TOR extract if you havent already- its called Sixth sense :)
Do review and tell me how it was plus let me know if there were any mistakes. I hope this was good :) Thank you for reading and see you next time,
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