Chapter 4 : Saying goodbye to you
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She had come back after lunch. She said that she had to be home by five and it made me extremely happy. I could have her for five hours, I had told myself when we played with her big red ball again. It was now in my room, hidden in the extravagant closet because my parents would wonder who it belonged to. She kept forgetting that it was hers.
I was still debating whether or not she was a Muggle or not. But my hopes were high yet I felt confused; I didn’t want her to be a Mudblood (worse than Muggles, of course) but if she were one, then I could see her at school.
So far, she had showed some capabilities. She had thrown the ball in the air so hard that it was a tiny speck in the sky above. It had shot down smoking a bit. I was completely stunned and so was she. She said she had no idea how she did that, I had said nothing.
“What’s troubling you, Draco?” asked Mother suddenly. I perked up and saw them staring at me. Father’s eyes had suddenly gone colder than before.
“Yes, Draco, what is troubling you?” Father said, glaring at me. I gulped. If I tell him a stupid lie, he’d get angry and would show me some very dark magic that would scare me. That was my punishment if I ever did wrong.
“I’m just wondering why First years can’t be on the Quidditch team,” I said smoothly, hoping that my voice sounded snide and mean, “It’s totally unfair.”
Father looked convinced; Mother didn’t. She looked at me, concerned.
“Well, we might be able to fix that,” Father said, smiling evilly, “We could tell the Minister of Magic to, ah, let’s say, persuade that old fool Dumbledore. It would definietly be a crime if you're not chosen.”
“I agree, Father,” I said and he beamed at me.
Mother looked at me sternly as if I were being scolded. I hardly ever get scolded. We ate in silence before the grandfather clock behind Father chimed eight o’clock. Mother stood up, dabbing at a corner of her lip. She nodded at me, saying,
“Come on now, Draco, time for bed.”
I stood up as well. Father remained for his steak was half finished. He smiled at me, the wrinkles around his eyes noticeable.
“Goodnight, son,” he said proudly. I smiled back.
Mother walked over towards me, placing one elegant hand behind my back. She led me out of the dining room and to the drawing room where the chandelier glowed above us. She motioned for us to climb upstairs and as we did so, she took a deep sigh and stared at me.
“Is something bothering you, dear?” she asked.
I shrugged. She pursed her lips as she stroked my hair.
“Nothing, Mother,” I answered, feeling the metal of the railing. Our footsteps thudded loudly against the cement staircase. Mother didn’t say anything for a while. I watched my feet, trying to think about anything other than Granger.
Then we reached my bedroom in the second floor. It had my name pinned on the front of the large door: Draco Lucius Malfoy. I was about to walk towards it when Mother grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back.
“Tell me what’s bothering you, Draco,” she said. I raised my eyebrows. I couldn’t tell her I was thinking about a Muggle, possibly a Mudblood. She’d think I lost my mind so I shook my head.
“Nothing,” I said; she raised her brows as well but didn’t press the subject any further. She pecked my head and said goodnight. I went inside my room where a much smaller chandelier was glowing faintly. My room was very big with a study table, my old toys stuffed in a large chest with a few trick wands poking out and my bed was near the window where it overlooked the hill and the olive tree.
I sat down on my bed, squinted my eyes to the darkness but saw nothing. I sighed, placing my hands behind my head. I stared at the ceiling.
I just couldn’t help but think about Granger and her brown-caramel eyes. It made me smile but sometimes, I had to shake my head.
“She’s a Muggle, Draco,” I told myself as I switched off the chandelier by clapping my hands. It went off instantly. I pulled the blanket towards my nose but as I shut my eyes, I thought, Who cares?
I found myself staring intently at Draco, eyes twitching. His grey orbs were focused into mine and I could tell that he was trying hard not to laugh. The corners of his lips would twitch uncontrollably sometimes.
We were playing a game, one that I’d like to call the Staring Contest. Apparently, he’d never heard of it and asked for the rules. I told him not to blink.
It was proving difficult. My eyes were itching to blink and I was hoping that he would crack first but he looked determined with his lower lip sticking out. Then it happened.
“You blinked!” he yelled triumphantly, laughing and rolling on the grass. I felt my cheeks redden.
“Shut up!” I shouted but he didn’t obey. Instead, it made him laugh louder. I smacked him on the arm but it didn’t do much. After a while, he sat up, blinked away the tears and smiled warmly at me. He smiled more often now but I could tell that something was troubling him. Sometimes, he would stare down at his Manor below and not talk for a long time.
“Hard to believe it’s been a week,” he said, looking up at the surroundings around us.
I found it hard to believe as well. We spent the entire week with each other, playing games that came up to our minds. He didn’t know most of them and I wondered what kind of childhood he had to grow in—with no friends, perhaps?
I was pulling out blades of grass and throwing it around. He watched me work when I thought of a brilliant idea.
“Let’s play another game,” I told him; he perked up, raising his brows.
“What?” he asked.
“Truth or Dare.”
This time, he didn’t furrow his brows (that’s what he usually did when he didn’t know something) and instead, swallowed nervously and shuddered.
“Really?” he asked, “That game?”
“Oh, you know?”
I grinned mischievously; he gulped. The wind whistled in our ears and a few leaves fell to where we sat. The sun was shining more brightly than ever before and the rays hit his eyes, making it glow like silver. I felt my stomach twist.
“Let’s start, shall we?”
He nodded reluctantly, I guess.
“Truth or Dare?” I asked.
“Hey, you didn’t say anything about you going first,” he pointed out, I rolled my eyes.
“Quit being a baby, will you?” I snapped; he huffed and a slight pink tinge appeared in his cheeks. He crossed his arms.
“Dare,” he mumbled.
“I dare you to tell the truth,” I said; he furrowed his brows.
“You can’t do that!” he said darkly; I smirked.
“No rules,” I told him; his mouth twisted into a scowl.
“Fine, what’s the question?”
I thought about it; he waited. I could hear birds chirping in a distance as I racked my brains.
“What was your most embarrassing moment?” I asked.
He rolled his eyes, a reaction I didn’t expect.
“Please, ask a better question; I would’ve told you that it you’d asked,” he said and blushed slightly when he realized what he said. I blushed as well.
“Fine, who’s your best friend?”
He smiled slowly and the grey eyes sparkled. He leaned on the olive tree, jabbing a finger under his chin. Then he grinned at me.
“You,” he said, “I don’t really have friends; just some of the kids my parents introduced me to.”
I felt my heart beating loudly against my chest. I grinned at him as well. For the past week, we’ve told each other our secrets and our thoughts. I thought of him as my closest best friend as well, even if he kept something from me. I was aching to know about it and my strive for knowledge was hard to contain.
Then he looked away and cleared his throat.
“Erm—my turn,” he mumbled. Oh yeah. I nodded.
“Truth or Dare?” he asked.
He rubbed his neck and stared at the grass. I stared at him.
“Erm—I was wondering whether you have any parents who are—I don’t know, let’s say—magical?” he asked and when he realized how stupid his question was, he blushed and looked away, “Sorry. You have no idea what I’m talking about, right?”
“Sorry, no,” I said.
His shoulders sagged. He looked disappointed. I didn’t know why. He looked at the sky above us and he looked like a battle was raging inside him. I wanted to know. I wanted to help.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
His eyes flickered towards me and he forced a smile.
“Let me make a new question…” he said and he shut his eyes, trying to think of a good enough question. Then comprehension appeared on his face. He looked suddenly downcast. He opened his grey eyes, stared at me for more than a minute and cleared his throat.
“Do you, erm, ugh, like me?” he asked nervously then his eyes got wide and he scrambled to fix what he said, “As a friend! I’m just asking!”
I began to laugh, like hysterical laughing. He slowly turned red and by the time I had finally sucked in the laughter, he looked like a tomato and the color was against his blonde hair. He glared at me but his eyes softened.
“Well?” he asked expectantly.
“Yeah, of course, Draco,” I said.
He seemed to glow after that. Like the sun in a very dark day. Like the first spring after the winter. And like the gleam of hope in a world full of darkness. I felt myself smiling at him. He stood up, grabbed the red beach ball we always played with and looked up at the sky.
“School’s coming,” he said; I nodded sadly.
“Too bad we can’t see each other anymore,” he mumbled, “after you leave.”
He was right. My parents had told me that we’d be coming home and we were going to leave tonight. I didn’t want to leave Draco. And the reason was, he was lonely and I liked having him around. He made me smile to myself when I woke up.
“Tonight,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” I said.
He looked down at me and stretched out his hand. I took it. It was warm. It was always warm. He looked like an angel as he pulled me to my feet. The grey eyes sparkled and I felt my heart jumping in my throat (it always does).
For the past week, I grew closer to him. This olive tree sitting on top of a hill was our heaven and playing with him like little kids made it more heavenly.
“A few more hours till we say goodbye,” I said. He grunted sadly.
“Yeah,” he said, “It sucks.”
We stood in silence when he suddenly let out a frustrated sigh. He threw the red ball down the hill and it landed outside the gates of his Manor. He looked upset.
“Promise me one thing, Hermione,” he said, not looking at me but glaring at the ground. I felt the corners of my lips tug when he called me by my name.
“Yeah, what is it?”
He shut his eyes and shuddered.
“Promise me that you’ll come back,” he whispered.
I was taken aback. Then I realized that tears were silently streaming down his face. He looked deeply sad and doubtful. I didn’t say anything for awhile. He nodded, more to himself than me.
“I know. Stupid promise, right? You know, I hate this! I finally find a friend that I can talk to and have fun with then reality suddenly kicks in and I realize that she’s going away!” he was ranting now and more tears spilled from his eyes. My heart clenched when I saw him like this.
He continued to rant about things I didn’t understand like “Why? Why Merlin? Why can’t she just be like me?” I didn’t know what he was talking about.
“I promise,” I said quietly. He stopped and stared at me.
The tears stopped, the smile slowly came back to his face and he looked incredibly happy. I smiled at him and to my surprise; he did something that I never thought a boy would do.
He hugged me, like a really big bear hug and it nearly cracked my ribs.
“I’ll miss you, Hermione,” he whispered softly and his breath against the skin of my neck made me shiver. I brought my arms around him and returned the pressure he gave me. We both laughed when I suddenly felt tears streaming down my face.
I wasn’t ready to leave Draco Malfoy, I knew.
“I’ll miss you too,” I whispered back and I sobbed on his shoulder. We stood like that until we pulled away; tear tracks on our cheeks and our eyes red and puffy. He chuckled and wiped his tears.
“Goodbye, Hermione,” he said. I nodded sadly.
“Goodbye, Draco,” I said.
As I was about to leave, he grabbed my wrist. I turned to look at him.
“This isn’t really goodbye, you know,” he said. I smiled.
“Yeah, let’s just say, Farewell,” I told him. He nodded.
And with one last meaningful look, he let go and I walked to my bike waiting down in the field below. I started to cry again, like horrible sobbing with my shoulders shaking. As I pedaled my way back to my grandmother, it was too painful to watch Draco waving at me so I never looked back.
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