Chapter 3 : Her Lightning
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Her lightning had lit the night sky like a flash of daylight and Draco understood her pain in the depths of his heart. It dawned on him that perhaps she needed to let out some of her pain as well. Perhaps she gave him comfort in the same way that she needed to be comforted.
And so, even though he felt drained and weak from his outpouring, he slowly found his feet and moved to stand behind her. His head was bowed as he willed some energy to come back to him so that he could attempt to be strong for her.
Still crying quietly in front of the portrait, it wasn’t until she felt his hand on her shoulder and his warm breath on her neck that she realized how close he was. She had thought she would try to be strong for him in the loss of his son, but she felt like she had just failed him miserably.
The truth of her constant pain, even after a year, had been revealed to someone unexpected. But yet, it was someone that understood it. He was living it right now in her very living room.
It was the magnitude of this understanding, the depth of it that began to entwine them together.
They had history, yes; so much history that it bound their lives together long ago. And then their children nearly bound them together further with plans of a union and the possibility of sharing grandchildren.
But all of that was now lost and it was now their grief that was about to tie them together like a tight braid of three stands.
With his warm and welcoming hand on her shoulder, she turned to him, but placed her hands to her face, ashamed that even after a year, she was still a mess. She felt foolish and dysfunctional. Everyone had commented on how strong she was, but in truth, she was weak and still hurting.
With her hands to her face, he noticed her wedding band still on her left hand as if she were still married. His heart felt for her at the realization as it spoke volumes of her struggle to let go.
He gently took her wrists and removed them from her face, but then he held onto her left hand and ran a thumb over her ring.
He recalled the pain of removing his own wedding ring, but for a very different situation. Astoria left when she no longer wanted his last name, while Ron would’ve never left her and she was still a Weasley.
He looked at her ring and then looked into her hurting dark eyes.
She understood what he was gently telling her. She should’ve moved the ring to her other hand long ago or perhaps stopped wearing it altogether, but she wasn’t ready to give it up yet. She shook her head slightly, telling him that she was not ready yet. She wasn’t ready to give up Ron’s token of undying love.
Lightning flashed yet again and a beautiful thunder rolled in waves… long and drawn out.
Draco closed his eyes and gave a nod of understanding, but then he did something wonderful and unexpected.
He brought her hand up and for a moment she thought he might kiss it. But instead, he placed her hand over her heart and then took her other hand and placed over her ring, as if telling her that it was okay to keep it and protect it.
It was okay to want to hold on. It was okay that she wasn’t ready yet. It was okay… and right… and accepted.
Still holding her hands to her chest and protecting her ring, he wrapped loving arms around her and pulled her into a warm embrace.
Comfort like a warm blanket wrapped around her soul and she was mesmerized by a feeling that she thought she would never feel again; the comfort of the arms of another wrapped around her… someone who wasn’t her husband.
She had kept herself together for so long, breathing through the pain and even though she did her best to keep control and maintain a good front, she was tired of trying to act like everything was okay, that she was doing fine in coping with her loss. But truly, when it came right down to it, she was an emotional wreck and absolutely sick of feeling nothing but pain.
His arms around her caused her emotional walls to come tumbling down. Oh, how she missed Ron and wanted him back more than anything in the wizarding world. But she would not hear his voice again, not even in a magical portrait.
Why? Oh, why! She wanted to shout, but couldn’t as her sorrow surfaced on Draco’s shoulder.
Rain poured and lightning flashed like a strobe light flickering and then came a distinct crackling sound followed by a flash of the brightest of light and then the boom of thunder that rattled in their chests.
She moved her arms up and around his shoulders, wanting him to continue his embrace that she felt she so desperately needed. He took her signal and held her tighter to him. But as she moved her hands along his shoulders, he couldn’t help but feel the comfort she was returning to him… and it felt so good to him.
If he were to be honest with himself, her touch dulled his pain, even if only by a small amount. He bent his head down and kissed her temple, just to thank her for it. But then her head went up slightly and his lips went to her cheek as well, lingering a little too long.
She wasn’t sure what was happening to her, but when she felt his lips on her skin and his warm body pressed to hers, she enjoyed it and welcomed it by pressing on the back of his neck.
And without thinking another moment, their tear-filled eyes closed, their lips came together, and they kissed.
His hands moved to cup her face and as soon as he felt the wetness of her tears, he used gentle fingers to wipe them away while Hermione melted at the sheer tenderness of his light touch.
In a moment, their slow lingering kiss ended. And they stood gazing into each other’s eyes, wondering what the other was thinking.
What just happened exactly? Would they regret what they had just done? They weren’t thinking clearly. The air around them had become heated with heightened emotion and they seemed to be freshly caught up in a confusing, albeit endearing moment.
There was a pause as though time stood still for the two of them as they sorted out unfamiliar feelings regarding each other. They had been enemies once. And now they were just two grieving souls comforting each other.
She searched his gray eyes, wondering if she would see regret. But she would find none. Instead, she watched as his eyes moved to her lips as if he wanted to kiss them again and again.
That’s all she needed to know concerning him, but what of her kissing Draco Malfoy in front of Ron?
She looked at the portrait in hopeful wonder. Would that do it? Would a kiss from someone Ron loathed all his life finally be the one thing that would wake him up just to yell at her for doing such a thing?
She stepped to the fireplace and put her hands to the mantle once more. She waited with hope in her heart, staring up at the portrait. Waiting… waiting… waiting.
Draco knew what she was doing. And he also knew that Ron’s likeness would not wake, not even to yell at him for kissing his wife. It was too late and in a matter of seconds she would be heartbroken once more. Like a final nail to Ron’s coffin, she would give up hope at last. And Draco, expecting the fiercest lightning he’d ever witnessed was determined to be there for her when it happened.
The mantle clock ticked away in front of her face, their wedding present. And after about twenty ticks, Hermione pushed herself from the mantle rather violently and buried her head in her hands as sheets of rain punished the house and lightning lit up everything around them.
She felt so stupid in ever thinking that it would come to life. So much time wasted in front of it. So many tears shed and hope wasted on something that was never going to happen.
She couldn’t take looking at his portrait for one more second. She stepped to it one last time, reached up, and practically tore it from the wall. She then proceeded to run outside in the pouring rain with it, Draco following close behind her.
The rain poured and poured. And with one guttural, heart-wrenching scream, she heaved the portrait as far up and away into the night sky as she could then conjured a lightning strike that destroyed every last piece of it with a fiery explosion.
The sound of the crashing thunder that followed knocked her to the ground as her own sorrowful rain that had mixed with Draco’s began soaking her through.
She remained there in the rain with her soul weeping until she felt the weight of a heavy cloak shield her entire body. He was still wearing it, but it was large enough for them both so long as he crouched down and wrapped his arm around her shoulder and stayed close beside her.
He thought he might pick her up and take her back inside, but she wouldn’t allow it. She didn’t want to go back into the home that was a constant reminder of losing Ron. Living life without Ron in that house proved to be too difficult. There were just too many memories.
Her emotions ran wild. She didn’t understand how she was ready to leave the house and not come back, but she was still holding on to her wedding ring for dear life. Why couldn’t she just make up her mind to move on? It shouldn’t be such a complicated thing. Shouldn’t she have figured everything out by now? It wasn’t like her to not have the answers.
Torn and angry with her life, the lightning flashed around them. Everything hurt… Ron… Rose… Scorpius… even Hugo at wanting to go back to Hogwarts to get away so soon. Her life wasn’t supposed to be like this. Nothing was right… Nothing!
Draco’s heart melted at the sight of her grief and he became determined to stay and shield her from the rain until she was ready to get up. He knew full well that grief could be paralyzing and sometimes… sometimes the only thing to do was cry. He didn’t even care if he got struck by lightning. At least it would end his misery, he thought.
Still on the ground, she felt bad for Draco who was shielding her with his kind chivalry. He didn’t have to do it and he probably should’ve been angry with her for her actions after his kiss. After all, she sort of just left him for a sleeping portrait. But he understood her reasoning and the hope behind her actions and did not fault her for it.
Cloaked in his warmth, Hermione suddenly had the urge to get away… literally run away from her sadness and pain to her little cottage. But this time, she didn’t want to go alone. Dare she think it, but she actually wanted Draco Malfoy to come with her.
She grabbed his arm precisely the way someone does for side-arm Apparating. He didn’t know where she was taking him, but he went with it, trusting her with wherever she wanted to go. He didn’t really care where it was, so long it wasn’t back to his cold and empty manor.
As soon as he gave a trusting nod that he was ready, she Apparated them far away.
When they landed, the rain started pouring, creating puddles and tiny rivers of sorrow as they ran hand in hand up the cobblestone path to a little covered porch. She took out her wand to unlock the door and soon they were together in her little cottage… with no reminders of their loss lurking about.
Darkness surrounded them and if it were not for the occasional lightning outside, they couldn’t see each other at all. But they were so very close.
In a flash, he could tell that she had turned to him. Her long hair was wet from the rain and her clothes stuck to her body from being drenched. He could hear her quickened breaths and moved closer to her until he could feel her breathing against his skin.
Her hands frantically searched and found his chest.
Another flash and he found her lips.
A moan of pleasure escaped her and soon she was tugging at his shirt, willing him to remove it.
She heard his heavy cloak drop to the floor and felt his warm bare skin as his shirt came undone.
He took hold of her waist and pulled her close, finding her lips once more as her fingers moved along his ribs and over the muscles of his chest.
He would’ve picked her up and taken her to a bed if he had known where it was. She would have to guide him there if that was what she wanted… and so she did.
Clothing was shed accept for her white lacey bra and panties and his black boxer briefs as they fell onto her comfy cottony bed. She wrapped herself around him, gently encouraging him with her feminine caresses. She wanted him close… wanted to hear a man’s heart beating and hear him breathing the same air as her.
And he wanted to love on her so that he could feel something other than pain and despair and hoped that he could do the same for her… a few moments of pleasure to dull the pain.
She loved his weight on her body and the way his mouth moved over her neck to her most sensitive spots and how his hands softly explored.
Draco moved down to kiss a spot directly over her heart and then went down even further until he was kissing her soft belly as his fingers moved to the smooth skin inside her thigh.
But Hermione was losing her nerve as thoughts of Ron disapproving of her and what she was doing with Draco Malfoy in her bed. Everything was happening so fast… too fast. She had wondered earlier if Draco was spontaneous with anything in his life, wondered if he swayed from his plans at all. The answer was obvious as this certainly wasn’t planned at all. He only appeared at her home for the ring and now they were in bed nearly naked.
She had placed her hand to her mid-section and as her lightning flashed, something caught Draco’s eyes. It was the diamond of her wedding ring that had picked up the lightning and shown bright. Her ring, the one that she wasn’t ready to remove just yet, was about to abruptly stop what they were doing.
In seeing it, Draco knew that if they went too far, she would regret it. If she still thought that she was someone else’s wife… that she belonged to someone else, then she would feel guilty and hate this night and most likely never want to be with him again. She would blame him for taking advantage of her fragile state once she came to her senses. But then forgive him for the fragile state that he was in. Either way, she would think it a mistake, an error in judgment on both their parts.
Draco had some things to think through… questions that needed immediate answers.
Did he want a future with her? Did he care about this woman lying underneath him with her fingers running through his hair? Someone with so much history and chemistry between them that they need not utter a single word to know what each other is thinking and feeling; a feat so rare and uncommon?
As he kissed his way back up to her lips, the answers came easy. He did care for her, even if old habits and beliefs died hard, he cared. And he was not interested in taking advantage of their fragile states and he especially wasn’t interested in having only one night with her.
He felt her body tense up and practically freeze as she lost her nerve in going any further. This had his mind quickly thinking in an entirely different direction as he lost all confidence.
What was he doing in thinking she would actually want to be with him at all? Of course she wouldn't want him if she were in her right mind. He suddenly felt foolish at thinking of a having a future with her… really at having any kind of resemblance of a happy future with someone at all, let alone her.
He kissed her temple tenderly one last time, another lingering kiss against her skin, but then he moved to sit up on the bed, his back to her. He didn’t want to leave. Where would he go, back to an empty manor with reminders of the loss of his son? He wanted to stay there with her and continue feeling her comforting touch.
His hand went to his head as he began to feel his throat and head hurt from his mourning. He rubbed his eyes that felt swollen and bloodshot, silently wishing that she would just let him stay there.
He let out a long sigh as he pondered everything.
Realizing that Draco wasn’t going to go where everything seemed to be speedily heading, Hermione felt a rush of relief come over her. But when he sat up in the bed, she was afraid that he would leave. She wanted him to stay. Had he come to his senses, realizing that they were about to make a huge mistake?
She sat up behind him, believing that he would abruptly stand, gather his belongings and leave rather quickly. She thought he was probably angry at her for bringing him to her cottage, starting this whole heated episode, and then freezing up at the last moment.
But he had not moved from the bed. He was hesitating for some reason. Why? She wondered. Could he perhaps want to stay? Would he? How could she possibly ask such a thing?
She wasn’t sure, but it was her cottage. She knew that she would have to be the one to ask him to stay… if that’s what she wanted.
And so, she carefully went to him from behind, crawling on her knees on the bed. She went up to him and curled one arm around his chest and the other around his waist as she leaned her body weight onto his and into an embrace that spoke for her.
Oh, how he wanted to stay and wanted her to touch him. He took the queue and turned to her slightly, giving her a most beautiful kiss.
They moved until their bodies lie fully entwined together with her nose nuzzled into his chest, wondering what the night would mean to them in the morning. For now, it was just them holding each other close and tight, as nothing else mattered.
And as the two held each other close, comforting each other, Draco realized that her lightning had ceased and she noticed that his rain had stopped.
He kissed her temple once more and she squeezed him closer.
They were both emotionally and physically exhausted and eventually felt enough at peace to go to sleep.
In all their grief and sorrow they had come together that night making a most beautiful and treacherous storm.
His rain. Her lightning.
Perhaps they would talk in the morning…
Still no dialogue. Can you believe it?
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