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Chapter 37 : Just when things were going well...
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Chapter Thirty-Seven: Just when things were going well…
Hot tears spilling onto his chest caused Draco to stir. He didn’t move, unsure if he should disturb her. She was so warm and seemed so needy and brokenhearted—he had wanted her to come to him for so long and now that she finally had, he was afraid even the slightest move would cause her to run. He considered trying to read her mind but knew that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted Hermione to open up to him on her own not through some magical means. He slipped his arm around her and, when she didn’t move but continued to sob in his arms, Draco feared he understood.
“You’ve been talking to Sirius,” he said quietly. It wasn’t a question.
“Please,” she managed through broken sobs, “just don’t.”
Draco moved his hand to her head, rubbing it gently to try and console her. He knew better than to think Sirius had done something to hurt her physically and she definitely wasn’t crying over being angry. That left only one other reason and vague ideas that had touched his mind since Sirius’ return all became clear. He let out a deep, resigned breath and moved her to face him. “Do you love him, Hermione?”
She didn’t answer and it made his heart jump to his throat, wondering just how they had ended up here. They had spent the last ten years together…making amends; trying to move on; finding solace in each other; trying to ease each other’s pain. He couldn’t understand how things could have suddenly gone so wrong.
He closed his eyes, letting images of Hermione and Sirius wash over him. They had had an immediate kinship from the moment Sirius had arrived. Draco wasn’t surprised by that – Sirius was, after all, more like Harry than anyone he’d ever met. If was naturally that Hermione would be drawn to him like she was drawn to the rest of her past. She had never been able to let her past go and he could only hope that this was what it was with Sirius – a memory of her past that she was unable to exorcise.
But there were other things, too. Her doing magic again. Her defense of anything related to Sirius. The soft, almost heartbroken look, that filled Sirius’ eyes when he glanced Hermione’s way. It wasn’t love, Draco knew better than to think that a Black could love anyone but it still gave him pause whenever he saw it pass through Sirius’ eyes.
He knew Sirius had been able to revive things in Hermione that he never could. She was once again full of life and vibrant and, to his own detriment, once again determined to choose her own path rather than follow someone blindly. He hated Sirius for it…and respected him at the same time.
And perhaps that was it. All this time, he had been so busy trying to giver Hermione what she wanted that he never bothered to take the time to find out what she actually needed. Could he really have been so stupid?
His eyes washed over her broken form, touching her mess of hair with the gentlest touch to make her look his way.
“We’ve gotten through much worse than the likes of Sirius Black,” he murmured, not sure if it was true but knowing it was what she wanted to hear. “And I’ve always been too bloody stupid or arrogant to ask – what is it you want?”
Her recoiled as she began to sob even harder. Could he do nothing right? He pulled away from her and started to climb out of bed but her grip on his forearm remained tight. She pulled him back toward her, kissing him gently on the cheek as her tears began to soak them both.
“I’ve only ever wanted,” she whispered, “for you to ask me that.”
He returned her heart-broken kiss, wishing that he knew how to make understand that he only wanted her and Juliette to be happy. That there was nothing, absolutely, nothing that he desired more. Everything else had been a charade – the world and emotions that his parents had taught him - the reactions and attitude that had been ingrained since childhood that he’d never been able to shake. He didn’t want to own her or convert her to his own way of thinking. He didn’t want her to be someone she wasn’t…he didn’t want all those things that his parents would have expected him to want. For once, he just wanted it to be the two of them with no one else’s ideals or beliefs hanging over their heads.
He clasped her face in his hands, his voice holding a tinge of pleading and, for once, he didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. “Marry me, Hermione, and I’ll prove to you happiness is possible.”
Hermione closed her eyes to try and subdue the nausea washing over her. Draco’s soft snores beside her told her he had long since gone back to sleep and she ached to wake him and have him make the sickness go away. He could do it, couldn’t he? He had always been able to make her forget about the pain. A sudden hot flash rose within her, causing her to break into an immediate sweat. She paused, sudden realization washing over her. She knew this feeling.
Rushing to the restroom, she cast a quick spell on Draco to keep him asleep. She slid across the stone floor, barely missing the tub as she crouched to her knees and vomited in the toilet. She grasped the basin, her arms shaking uncontrollably. Taking a few shallow breaths, she felt her stomach return to normal. She sank to the stone floor, pulling her legs to her chest and dropping her head to her knees. This couldn’t be happening. Not now, not when she was finally being honest with everyone, when she had finally made some dent in the rift between her and Draco. Not that Sirius had given her any alternative- like usual, he was pushing her away so forcibly she had no choice but to do as he asked.
Draco was finally growing up…he was learning to put her first and he’d finally stopped running away every time they argued. He was staying with her, beside her instead of chasing after some phantom demons from his past that might kill him. He’d made the choice she always wanted him too…to pick her over everything else.
Tears began to stream down her face, unable to control the fears rising within her. But what if it wasn’t true? For all his actions, what if they were just more of the same vain attempts to sway her to him and not a real change into the man she desperately wanted to love? And she did want to love him. Their history; they way he helped her through so many things; the tender way he touched her; the loving way he held Juliette—everything she wanted in a husband was right before her for the taking.
She cursed Sirius. It was all his fault. He came back and confused things. He made her think she needed him, that she needed his laughter and arrogance and aggravating touches the always drew her in. Why couldn’t he have stayed behind that damn veil, stayed away from Juliette, been snotty and nasty instead of charming and irresistible so that Juliette hadn’t fallen in love with him? Why couldn’t he have had some semblance of self control and kept himself out of her bedroom so she wouldn’t be in this whole mess in the first place?
She tightened her grip on her knees, her entire body shaking. How, exactly, was she supposed to tell either of them she was pregnant?
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