Chapter 21 : A Silly Little Thing Called Love
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Leave me alone I'm lonely
Alone I'm lonely
-Leave me alone (I’m lonely) by Pink
“William will be back in a few minutes.” Mrs. Granger told them, she was sitting cross legged on her floral patterned chesterfield. “We will pack our bags then.”
“I’m surprised you are taking this so well.” Draco told her. It had only taken around ten minutes to inform Mrs. Granger on what was going on, although they still kept everything rather vague and made sure not to inform her on too much.
Mrs. Granger uncrossed her legs and pursed her lips. “Honestly, I’m just happy my memories aren’t being tampered with, and that I am not being sent half way around the world!”
Draco raised his eyebrows and shot a look at Hermione, who only raised her hands in defeat.
“Guilty." Hermione said, averting her eyes.
A click came from the front door, and loud footsteps were heard shortly after. Draco looked back to Mrs. Granger, making a note to himself to ask Hermione about that later on. He wasn’t going to let her go that easy.
“Honey, I’m home!” Came a loud voice from the front of the house. It was very obviously Mr. Granger.
The three looked around at each others faces, willing one of them to speak up, but no one made any move to. Draco shrugged his shoulders, knowing he couldn’t be the one to call out, and so Mrs. Granger stepped up to the plate instead.
“William, I’m in the living room!”
Mr. Granger appeared in the doorway after a few more loud footsteps, and a banging sound coming from the front door. He seemed like a very hearty sort of fellow since he came into the room with a toothy grin, but it immediately fell at the sight of his wife and his daughter sitting with a strange man. But the more Draco watched, he realized that Mr. Granger hadn’t even noticed him.
“Wait, what?” Mr. Granger asked dumbly. Draco decided that William Granger reminded him of a, well, less Weasley sort of Arthur or Ronald Weasley.
Mrs. Granger turned her head to look at Draco and Hermione. “Men.” She muttered to them, before turning back to her husband.
“William,” She said. “We are going to be staying with Hermione.”
“What, in that tiny apartment?” He was still in the doorway with an embarrassingly confused look on his face.
“No, at Draco’s house.”
“Draco?” He glanced over to the man sitting beside his daughter.
“Good to meet you, sir.” Draco rose to his feet and walked across the room with his arm outstretched. William shook Draco’s hand, obviously taken aback.
“The Draco Malfoy?” Mr. Granger asked, his eyes widening.
Draco couldn’t help but let his ego swell from the recognition. It was nice to know that even some muggles knew of him, even if they were slightly involved in the Wizarding world. It just proved how well known the Malfoy family was.
“No, Dad.” Hermione butt in sarcastically. “The Wizarding world is just littered with Malfoys.”
“Well, I don’t know!” William retorted, looking at his daughter before quickly trying to mouth, “I thought you didn’t like this one?” To her from across the room.
“I didn’t but it’s okay now.” Hermione replied sheepishly.
Draco started to feel rather uncomfortable standing beside Hermione's father, while the women sat on the couch. Actually, the longer he stood there the more awkward he felt.
“I’m sorry,” Mr. Granger apologized to Draco. “It’s just that I’ve heard so many stories... I didn’t mean to offend...”
“No, don’t even worry about it Mr. Granger. I’m sure you heard them from a reliable source.” Draco shot a glance at Hermione who shifted uncomfortably under his gaze before moving her eyes to the the ground.
Mrs. Granger looked between the two, stood up and walked towards her husband, linking his arm in hers.
“We should go pack our bags.” She said as she led her husband out of the room and into another part of the house. The Granger home was a small, one floor suburban house but still their voices trailed off and Draco figured it was safe to speak.
“Of course you told your parents about the bully at school,” He said. “How foolish of me to think that my meeting them would be a comfortable affair.”
“Draco please cut it out. Of course I told my parents about you. You were the one miserable thing about Hogwarts.”
“Besides, you know, being best friends with the chosen one and having to constantly help him survive a dark wizard set on his death.”
“And yet that didn’t hurt quite as much as being called a filthy mudblood at eleven years old.”
Draco wasn’t sure if it had suddenly begun to rain, or if Hermione’s parents were just loudly whispering, but it was mildly distracting, and he racked his hand through his hair with a sigh. He hated the way Hermione was looking at him now, and he wanted her never to look at him like that again.
“Look, Hermione. I’m sorry I brought this up, and I completely understand why you would have told your parents about me. I’m sorry I was ever cruel towards you, and please know,” Draco paused for a moment and pressed his lips together in a thoughtful sort of way. “That I regret everything I said to you when we were younger every moment that I’m with you.”
“You do?” Hermione's voice quivered, and she stood from where she was sitting on the chesterfield. Her eyes had softened in a sad sort of way, and her cheeks were rosy from raising her voice.
“Yes. And I don’t think there will ever be a day when I don’t.”
Draco was staring at her in a way that he had never done before. It felt like there was a knot in her chest, and Hermione started to feel conflicted in a way she didn’t quite understand. He had never looked at her like that before. Why now?
“I never thought... I mean, I never-”
“Hermione.” Draco interrupted, his voice was soft. He took a few steps towards her, closing the gap between them. It was like she could feel him around her, and she started to feel dizzy.
“You’re the one thing I’ve cared for since my parents left,” He continued. He was still talking softly and there was something different about his voice. It sounded raw, and the words he spoke sounded untraveled, like they had never been said before. “And I-”
“Draco-” Hermione tried to cut him off. Her heart was beating a mile a minute and she wondered when her parents would return.
“Shh, I need to say this.” He placed his index finger gently on her lips in a quieting motion. He was so close. Hermione began to feel nauseous, and all she knew was that she wanted this to end.
“Draco, stop!” Hermione backed away. Tears were evident in her eyes, and Hermione was trying to will them down. It would be ridiculous if she cried now, and so she forced herself not to blink. Draco look confused, and almost angry, and it hurt her to see him like that.
“What is it?” He asked, not making any sort of movement towards her. His mouth hung open, and his eyes were dark against his skin.
“I-I can’t! Not now!”
Draco paused, taking a moment to blink and shake his head as he thought about what she was saying. “Can you ever?”
“I don’t know.” Hermione said honestly. She didn’t want any of this. She wanted them to change the subject and pretend like this had never happened. She wanted to be his annoying, bookworm friend again although she wasn’t sure why.
She had put so much effort into being the exact opposite, although she hadn’t realized just how much until now. She wasn’t even sure what she was talking about if she was honest with herself. Draco was finally saying what she had hoped he would say, but she wasn’t letting him even though she wanted him to. But she didn’t want him to. Everything was all very mixed up.
“I understand.” Draco sounded solemn and wise when he said it, and he let his arms drop to his sides.
“No! No you don’t understand! Just...” Hermione placed her hands on either side of her head and groaned. “Mum! Dad! You almost ready?!”
“Almost dear!” She could hear her father call. “We’ll meet you in the car!”
“Car?” Draco asked.
“Uh, muggle contraption.” She told Draco shortly before raising her voice again. “No, we’re taking Floo!”
Draco watched Hermione as she slumped back down onto the chesterfield.
“I’m sorry that I-” He tried to say, but he was cut off by an icy glare from Hermione.
“No.” She told him flatly just as her parents re-entered the room. “Not right now.”
Mr. and Mrs. Granger looked embarrassed to have walked in, and shuffled over to the fireplace. They both had a small, plastic, wheel-y suitcase that they carried at their sides.
“So are we all ready?” Mr. Granger asked with a smile. He was trying desperately to get rid of the horrid feeling in the air but it stuck. “And can one of you go first and one of you go last? Jean and I have only taken Floo twice before.”
Hermione said she would go first, and Draco agreed to last. Neither of them even glanced at each other during the process of telling her parents what to say, although Mr. and Mrs. Granger continued to look between Draco and Hermione, silently wondering what happened once they had left.
When Hermione stepped into Draco’s study through his fireplace, she wondered if it would be socially acceptable to go straight up to her room or if she had to wait for them. She decided she had to wait. She was twenty five years old, so she couldn’t let something silly like feelings get in the way of common courtesy.
William and Jean had a little bit of trouble emerging from the fireplace, but once they were out Draco came through right behind them. He snapped his fingers and an elf who’s name was apparently ‘Nessie’ appeared, and he ordered her to please take Mr. and Mrs. Granger to their room.
“Which room is they to stay in, sir?” Nessie asked. Hermione was glad to see she was wearing a faded pink dress instead of rags.
Draco told her they were to stay in the West Wing’s ‘Lily Room’ and that it was right across from the library, and to please show them that as well. Hermione's parents left with the elf, and Hermione wanted to follow them but it felt like her feet were rooted to the floor.
Neither Draco or Hermione spoke. Hermione's mind was whirring with what to say. It wasn’t coming up with anything worth while, because really, what does one say in such a circumstance?
“Yes?” Draco finally asked, leaning against his desk and crossing his legs at the ankles. He was acting as if nothing had happened, but there was something in his voice that told her he wasn’t about to forgive and forget any time soon. He sounded cold, and immediately she could tell he had rebuilt the wall between them.
Hermione, caught off guard, looked at him with wide eyes. “Hmm?” She had missed what he had said whilst her mind had been a blur with conversational prompts. All she had heard was the tone of his voice.
“I’m sorry if that was too elaborate a question for you, Granger. I meant what are you still doing here?”
The knot in her stomach disappeared as quickly as it had come, and suddenly Hermione felt absolutely nothing. She wasn’t sure what was better: Feeling nothing at all, or feeling everything all at once.
“Why did you call me Granger?” She asked darkly.
Draco looked up innocently from where he was shuffling through a few papers on his desk. “Oh? That’s your name, isn’t it?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Stop acting like a child, Draco. We had just found ourselves on a first name basis and then you had to go do this!” At this moment she hated him. She hated him just like she had done years before, and she wanted to hurt him. He was acting like such a child over nothing. “Is it because of what happened back at my parents house? It is isn’t it!?”
Draco slammed his fist against his desk and stood up straight. “What do you mean? Of course it’s because of what happened at your parents house!”
Hermione didn’t respond, and so he continued, “It’s not everyday I tell anyone anything at all - especially something like that! And then I get shot down!”
“So you’re expecting me to feel the same way just because Draco Malfoy decided to come out of his shell?!” Hermione yelled back.
“No! But maybe I expected something! No offense but I didn’t take you as the type of girl to lead a guy on!”
“I led you on? Are you hearing yourself?!”
“And there you go playing innocent!” Draco threw his hands in the air and looked away from Hermione.
“No, really Draco. Tell me how I was leading you on. We were merely good acquaintances!”
“Merely good acquaintances?” Draco looked back to her, his mouth dropping open.
“Friends, then! We were merely friends!” Hermione knew what she was saying was a falsehood. She didn’t go flying like that with Harry, and if Ron ever wore his blouse undone two buttons she wouldn’t even notice.
“It sure didn’t seem like just friends! ...Well, not all of it, at least.”
“Yeah! Not all of it at all!”
Draco groaned and racked his hands through his hair before sliding them down his face. “Ugh, Hermione! I just thought because...”
“You were just friends with Weasley, too! You didn’t flirt at all in school! You just fought with him but managed to stay friends, and I thought… Well, you know what I thought and I regret that I said anything at all!”
Hermione opened her mouth to speak but couldn’t think of anything to say. She wasn’t sure if there was anything to say, since he was absolutely right. It was her who had made this complicated. She was the one who had glanced at his lips, and had leaned into him whilst flying. Hermione had been just as romantically invested in their relationship as he was, if not even more. She didn’t know why she was being such an idiot, and it made her hate herself for it.
She blinked back tears that were welling in her eyes, and bit at the skin on her lips. Draco opened his mouth to speak, but quickly shut it again and looked in pain as Hermione started towards the door. He moved over to her side of the desk and raised his right hand, placing the back of it on her cheek. His hand turned and he rubbed her skin with his thumb as if smoothing away crinkles in a linen sheet.
Hermione closed her eyes and laid her hand atop his. For a perfect moment she forgot all their problems and everything that had led up to this moment, and focused solely on the warmth pressing to her cheek. She kept her eyelids shut throughout it, and only opened them when she felt his hand slip away. But when her eyes fluttered open she realized he was no where to be seen, and that he had already left, the door swinging closed behind him.
Authors Note: Trouble in paradise! So things took a turn for the worst this chapter, but at least now we know how Draco feels, right? Thank you so much for all the reviews, everybody! They are lovely, and please keep 'em coming.
And I would just like to have a quick shoutout to Cassie, also known as aurevoir, for the splendid banner. Also I would like to have a shoutout to Megthechef for the review every chapter, since you always have a good amount to say and you help me know what my readers are thinking and wanting, which is lovely. Also one last shoutout to Harveyboy for all the many reviews as well! Cheers.
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