In the past, Sundays were the best day of the week, the mornings filled with happiness and sunshine. Nowadays, Sundays were the most dreaded day of the week, filled with awkwardness and uncomfortable silence. He would be at home the whole day today. She wouldn’t be alone. Hermione had never been the kind of person who hated company. She liked having people around and even if she was alone, she was comfortable with the quiet and reveled in her own thoughts. Recently, she hated being around people, refused any invitations to gatherings or meetings and remained holed up in her little bedroom but when she finally was alone, all she could think about was how lonely and hollow she felt. The silence was too loud for her to bear and what was even louder than the pressing silence was the constant chatter and noise of her own thoughts. She just couldn’t seem to escape them.
Hermione stood near the counter in her kitchen waiting for her coffee to finish brewing. She had taken to black coffee, something she had despised in the past but suddenly it seemed that now all she was doing was the things that she hated the most. She could hear the early-morning song of the birds outside, the rustle of the dry autumn leaves. She startled at the sound of footsteps and her head snapped up towards the staircase. Someone was up early for a Sunday morning. Hermione didn’t even have the energy to snort anymore.
Draco descended the stairs, rubbing his eyes. His head was throbbing and all he needed was some hot, steaming tea. He walked blindly towards the kitchen and stopped when he saw Hermione already standing there in front of the counter. He considered turning back around and leaving, until she was done and then coming back. Stop being ridiculous. She was his wife. Why should he feel uncomfortable around her? He mustered up courage and walked towards her frail frame. All the weight that she had gained during the pregnancy had just seemed to dissipate, along with a few extra pounds. She was dressed in full length pajamas and an ill-fitting tee which he was sure seemed to look great on her before. A shawl was draped loosely around her shoulders.
“’Morning,” he greeted coming to stand in front of her. It seemed weird and very distant to just stand there so he tentatively leaned down and brushed his lips lightly against her extremely sharp cheekbone.
She stilled, startled by the unexpected contact and resisted the urge to flinch away from his touch. She shut her eyes tightly, and felt the back of her eyes prick with tears. He stood up straight again and saw her lips quirk up slightly, forming a weak smile. Man, today was going to be hard.
Hermione turned her attention back to the machine and poured some coffee for herself into the mug. Just the smell of caffeine seemed to clear her head a little.
“That seems a bit strong for a Sunday morning, don’t ya think?” Draco asked, a weak attempt to ease the tension in the room a bit, but an attempt nonetheless. Hermione raised her eyes towards him for a moment and then looked back down at the coffee mug which she was clutching tightly in her hands. Draco held back a sigh.
“I-um-I guess I’ll have a mug too,” he said. “If you don’t mind,” he added slowly, then immediately regretted it. That was stupid. Why would she mind?
His words made her chest ache for some reason. She turned around, and walked towards the oak cabinets on the opposite wall where all the crockery was stored, unsure if she would be able to stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. They felt like the words of a stranger. So distant. “Of course,” she said, her voice coming out hoarse.
He watched as she pulled out a green mug from the cabinet, and filled it with steaming coffee. She handed it to him, and then took a sip of her own coffee. He looked down at the dark brown liquid in his mug distastefully then brought the mug to his lips. He took a huge gulp of the fluid, and then coughed as the hot, bitter liquid ran down his throat. He looked back up at her, his face scrunched up against the terrible taste of the coffee in the back of his mouth.
“How can you drink this wile liquid?” He choked out.
She just shrugged her shoulders delicately, then moved past him and into the living room.
Draco busied himself with pouring a hearty amount of cream and sugar into his mug and then took his time stirring and waiting for the drink to cool off a bit. He could feel the blisters on his tongue and a burning sensation in his throat. He should have just made himself a cup of tea and saved himself the pain. He choked down the rest of the liquid and made towards the living room where he saw Hermione sitting on the white leather couch, her hand cupping the back of her neck which was bent over the mug of coffee which was now empty.
A sudden wave of sympathy crashed down over him at the sight of his wife sitting so vulnerably on the couch. She looked so defenseless, so small in the giant room that she was sitting in. He felt for her. He knew that she was going through a really hard time and his showing up every night drunk wasn’t making it any easier. It had been a rough couple of months for both of them.
As he reached her, she didn’t even notice him approaching. He placed his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to massage her shoulders and neck to ease the knots but she flinched as soon as their skin made contact. She stood up, her sudden movement causing her shawl to fall off from her shoulders and she wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly feeling naked in front of him.
He let his hands limply fall to his sides, his face a mask of confusion and hurt. He knew that she was acting weird because of everything that had been going on but he couldn’t understand why she would flinch away like that.
“Hermione, what’s wrong?” He asked her his forehead creasing with concern.
“Nothing I just…” she trailed off, not knowing how to answer that question. Everything was wrong.
He took a step towards her reaching out for her, but she stumbled backwards away from him almost falling over the glass center table. He stopped, his mouth forming a small ‘O’ of surprise at her actions.
“’Mione, are you-“ he began but stopped as she turned her back on him and almost ran towards the stair case. Why was she doing this? How could he help her if she refused to even stay within the same room with him? He just wanted to help her. He just wanted to make this all better for her.
“I am just trying to help you, Goddammit!” he growled in frustration, slamming his hands down onto the glass table in front of him.
She jumped at his loud voice, turning around to face him, visibly trembling. This was too much for her. This was all too much for one morning. She just wanted to go back into her room and sit in the darkness with her daughter cushioned between her arms, the only thing that was keeping her going. The thin thread separating her from life and death.
She gasped as she turned around and saw the sight before her. Draco had slammed the table so hard that the glass had shattered, shards lying all over the place. He stood with his hands clenched, blood dripping from his fists. He looked like he hadn’t even realized that he was bleeding.
Her gasp seemed to clear away the anger and frustration clouding over him and he realized for the first time that now his head wasn’t the only thing that was in searing pain. He unclenched both his hands and held them out before his eyes, watching the blood trickle from the cuts on his palm and on to the floor beneath, staining the rug below the now shattered table. He whistled through his teeth at the sight of the blood pooling before him.
He looked up at Hermione, who stood frozen in her place. He felt a stab in his chest when he realized that she was making no move to come to him and attend to his wounds. Hermione, who fussed over him even if she saw a tiny paper cut on his hand, was now just standing there doing nothing as more and more blood poured out of his hands. He shook his head, then walked towards the kitchen slowly, his shoulders sagging, all the anger and frustration he felt flushing out of him. This wasn’t his Hermione. He knew that the second Phoenix was born that everything had changed, but he had refused to accept it. Now he realized that maybe it was too late. Maybe the damage done was irreparable.
He held his hands out under the gushing water from the sink, his eyes screwed shut against the sting that was dancing across his cuts as they made contact with the full force of the water. He heard Hermione climb back up the stairs and then he heard the door being slammed shut. A single tear rolled down his cheek. He turned off the water, wrapped his hands in paper towels and walked out of the kitchen towards the stairs. He ascended the stairs thinking that he would clean up the mess as soon as he was done with his hands. He carefully pushed the door to his bedroom open and walked in.
The curtains were drawn shut, causing the room to be dark, or as dark as it could possibly be during day time. He saw Hermione, huddled on the bed under the thick blanket. She had stilled as soon as he had walked into the room. Draco walked towards the bedside table, gingerly pulling open the drawer and removing his wand. He took off the paper towels from his hands which had already been soaked through with his blood and chucked them in the tiny waste basket beside the table. He held the wand over his left hand and muttered a healing spell. He had never been good at those, but this was all he could do as Hermione refused to even be near him.
“I’m trying, Hermione,” he said softly, after he had healed his wounds considerably. It wasn’t a thorough job, but it was probably the best he could do. “I know this is hard, but I really am trying.” His voice came out sounding defeated, and he hated it. These words were supposed to give her hope. To make her know that he wasn’t going to give up, but they ended up sounding exactly the opposite. He swiveled his head towards the bed, hoping that she would say something. Anything. He sighed when she didn’t.
He waited for a few moments, then walked towards the door so that he could go clean up the mess below. It really wasn’t a safe environment for Phoenix. Just as his hand turned the knob, he heard a whisper so low that he wasn’t even sure he had heard it at all. “I know.”
He turned around and saw that his wife was sitting up on the bed, clutching the blanket around her. Her hair was mussed and her eyes were bloodshot, her cheeks wet and even then, more tears were trickling down her cheeks.
He sat on the edge of the bed, not going any closer afraid that she would withdraw again. “I just-“ He began, not knowing how to say this. He wasn’t expecting her to reply and didn’t know what to say. It had been a while since she had actually given up an opening to any kind of conversation. “I don’t know how I can help you if you won’t talk to me about it.” He cleared his throat nervously, his head bent, his eyes staring at the balled up fists in his lap.
“It’s hard for me to talk about this,” she mumbled. Then she whispered, “It’s too painful.” She took in a deep breath through her mouth and averted her intense gaze.
“I know, baby,” he said, placing his hand on top of hers protectively, but she pulled her hand from under his quickly. Hurt flashed across his face and he could feel his throat closing up. “I don’t understand why-“ he said breaking off as his voice cracked. He looked into her big brown eyes, hoping to find any kind of reason why she was so repelled by his touch.
She just placed her head in her hands. She stayed like that for a while before she looked back up at him, her lower lip trembling. She looked at him intently. His blonde hair was disheveled, his eyes shadowed and slightly red-rimmed and light stubble was beginning to shade his pale skin. His eyes were pleading and desperate, and she took a deep breath before saying, “Because every time I see you, Draco, all I remember is the child I lost. The brother Phoenix could have had. All I can think about is Caelum,” she said letting out a breath. She sobbed once before she said, “I blame you, Draco. It’s your fault our son is not alive.”