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Chapter 16: Revelations and a Woman Scorned
Hermione sank down in the bath, the warm soapy water closing over her head. She lay underwater, her head spinning. It had been a week since the meeting with the Order, and in that time, Professor McGonagall had sent a pack containing old things of Severus Snape’s to Grimmauld Place. Ron had taken to spending a lot of his time there, and he and Lupin were busy brewing the Polyjuice Potion. Hermione had gone to check on them, to see if they needed anything, but they were fine. In fact, Ron seemed better than fine, considering Lavender Brown was hanging from his arm, giggling and fussing over him.
Angelina had sent an Owl two days ago, saying she had found Pansy. Although not married to Zabini, the two had had a brief relationship several years ago, but had apparently stayed close. Angelina’s source said Pansy was living alone in her parent’s country house in Wales, and had rarely been seen since she left Hogwarts. Apparently, some boy had run off and broken her heart.
Hermione sat up, wiping soapsuds from her face, her hair streaming down her neck. She frowned, not liking what Draco was going to do. She wasn’t sure what bothered her the most – him willingly taking Polyjuice Potion and transforming into Snape, or him having to try and coax some answers from Pansy. Hermione scowled, her mind dredging up memories of Pansy Parkinson from school. Hermione had never had a problem with Pansy personally; she was a typical Slytherin, full of arrogance, cowardice and false security. Hermione liked to think she had not changed. It was easier to despise the other woman that way. But, she thought, a person can change dramatically, given the right circumstances. Draco was living proof of that. Perhaps Pansy would be willing to help.
The bathroom door opened and Hermione looked up to see Draco enter. His face was troubled, but he gave a smile when he noticed her looking at him.
“I thought you’d drowned,” he quipped, kneeling beside the bath. Hermione closed her eyes as he reached over and ran his fingers through her wet hair, enjoying his touch on her scalp. “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Just thinking, that’s all. What about you?”
Draco sighed, his hand sliding down the back of her head, resting on her neck. “Yeah, I’m alright. So much for the quiet life.” Draco stood up, sliding his shirt over his head. Hermione raised an eyebrow, watching as he quickly undressed.
“Move up,” he commanded, and she did as she was told, feeling Draco slip into the water behind her, his legs either side of her body. Hermione smiled and laid back, her head on his chest. Draco wrapped his arms around her body, resting his head against hers.
Hermione twisted her head so she could see his face. “We will have it one day, Draco. This will all be over soon, and then, well, we can just concentrate on living,” she said softly, taking his hand and squeezing it. She knew how much he wanted to get on with his life, to finally bury the past deep where it belonged.
He kissed her gently on the forehead. “About that. Hermione, I want to ask you something,” Draco whispered, his voice low and husky.
Hermione felt her heart stop. Oh god, she thought, her insides turning to lead. Oh god oh god oh god! She turned her face away and closed her eyes, her breath coming fast and shallow. What’s he thinking? It’s way too soon. I can’t! She yelled to herself. Panic began to bubble up inside her, heat flooded her body, and she felt faint.
“When this whole operation is over, when we catch Zabini and lock him up, I was wondering if you would …it’s okay if you don’t want to. We haven’t really been together for that long …” Draco paused, and Hermione felt him tense. She concentrated on her breathing, forcing herself to stay in bath when she felt she might fly out of it. Swallowing her fear, Hermione sat up, turning easily in the large tub so she was facing Draco. She wanted to see his face. He was pale, a small frown on his forehead, his eyes dark and brooding.
“If I would what, Draco?” Hermione asked him, her voice a mere whisper, her heart beating solidly in her ears. This was different from when Ron asked her. This felt right, complete, and it didn’t matter one bit that they were naked and sitting in a bathtub. Hermione felt all her fear wash away, a calmness settling in her chest. Draco was not Ron. He would never expect the things Ron did. Hermione felt herself begin to smile, drifting off into a romantic fantasyland.
Draco swallowed, taking her hands, and Hermione started picturing her dress. “I was wondering if you would consider moving in with me.”
Hermione blinked. “What did you say?”
“Not here. God, I don’t want this house. I want to sell it. Somewhere else. We’ll buy a place, wherever you want. Are you alright?” Draco asked, frowning. Hermione realized she was grinning like an idiot. She shook her head, laughing, the spell well and truly broken.
“I’m sorry. I thought you were going to ask …” she giggled again at the look of confusion on Draco’s face.
“Oh,” he said finally, blushing a little. “You thought ... I don’t want to marry you,” he laughed, and then clapped a hand over his mouth, his eyes wide. Hermione frowned and slapped him on the arm, feeling annoyed despite her relief. As tempting as the idea of marrying him was, the rational, logical part of her brain knew she was not, they were not, ready for that yet.
“I didn’t mean it like that, darling. I meant, well, I didn’t think you wanted to …” Draco muttered, his face bright red. He gave her a strange look. “If you do, then I suppose …”
Hermione shook her head, feeling herself turn as red as Draco. “No, at least, not right now,” she giggled again, leaning forward and kissing his neck. “But I will move in with you. We’re already basically living together,” she said.
“Do you want to think about it a bit?” he asked, and she shook her head. Draco wrapped his arms around her, kissing her deeply and tenderly. Hermione pressed herself closer to him, her legs sliding behind his back. She shivered as Draco’s lips brushed her shoulder lightly.
“The water has gone cold,” he murmured against her skin, and she nodded, moving out of his arms. Draco stood up, pulling her with him. He stepped from the tub and she followed. Smirking, Draco swept her into his arms, and Hermione clung to him, giggling as he carried her, both of them wet and dripping, into the bedroom.
Draco stood in front of the mirror, scowling at his reflection. He pulled his shirt over his head, tossing it on the bed, where it lay in a heap with at least another ten shirts. Hermione sighed, flopping onto the bed. She reached for the nearest shirt and began to fold it up.
“Draco, stop,” she said firmly. Draco had his head buried in the large walk-in wardrobe, throwing shirts onto the floor. He looked up, frustrated.
“I can’t find my black shirt,” he grumbled. Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“Which one, dear? You have dozens of black shirts,” she replied, continuing to fold. Draco scowled.
“You know, the … black one. Hermione, this is stupid. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to see Pansy,” he sulked, sitting on the floor amidst a pile of clothing.
“I don’t particularly want you to go and see Pansy either, Draco, but you have to. She wouldn’t even consider talking to anyone else,” Hermione said in a small voice. Draco knew she had argued for hours with Harry and Remus about this mission, but they had worn her down. She had then turned her anger on him, yelling about how stupid it was to want to sacrifice himself, and that no one in the Order would think any less of him if he chose to back out. He was rather surprised at how opposed she was to the whole idea. He wondered whether she was truly jealous. Draco climbed to his feet, going to sit beside Hermione on the bed.
“I’m going to be fine,” he said softly, and she rolled her eyes at him.
“I know. I don’t think Pansy is going to hurt you,” Hermione replied.
Draco laughed. “She might try. I did kind of run away from her. What is that saying? ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?’”
Hermione snorted, and Draco sighed, pulling her hands away from folding his clothes. “Hermione, this is silly. I love you, you know that. Pansy is … the past. A memory, nothing more. I’m only seeing her today to help the Order. Nothing is going to happen.”
“I’m not jealous, Draco,” Hermione snapped. “I’m just concerned. What if Angelina’s source got it wrong? What if Pansy is still in regular contact with Zabini?”
Draco slid his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close to him. Hermione’s arms went around his waist, and she held him tightly. Draco kissed the top of her head, before gently loosening her grip. “I should get going, sweetie,” he murmured, standing up. He grabbed a shirt from the pile on the bed, not really caring which one it was, and pulled it over his head.
“Be careful. If you’re not back by dark, I’m coming to find you,” Hermione said seriously. Draco smiled, knowing she meant it. He leant down and kissed her gently on the lips, before apparating to Wales.
Pansy’s house was on the outskirts of a small village. A Muggle village. Was Pansy living as a Muggle? He shook his head, scarcely believing it. Draco looked around the streets with interest, taking in the faded cobblestones and quaint shop-fronts, noticing a place called ‘Fran’s Flowers’. Draco snorted. Who was Fran and why the hell would she want to sell flowers in the middle of nowhere? The little shop looked busy enough though, and with a shrug, Draco ducked inside, buying a bunch of roses for Pansy; a thorny peace offering. Back outside in the street, he asked a matronly woman in a faded blue dress for directions. All Angelina had been able to give him was an address. The woman pointed towards the eastern hills, and Draco sighed inwardly, thanking her, fobbing off her curious questions as she looked pointedly at the roses in his hand.
An hour later, Draco was hot, sweaty and thirsty, the roses looking as though they felt the same way. He peeled off his jacket and pushed his hair out of his eyes. Damn Pansy, he thought, living in the middle of nowhere like a hermit. A large house stood in front of him, and he paused, looking around. It was the only house he could see for miles, standing desolate and alone surrounded by sweeping green hills, and with a sigh, Draco pushed open the small front gate, stepping into the overgrown yard. Weeds poked through the cobbled path, stretching towards the sun. Paint was peeling from the walls and windowsills of the house, coating the building in a blend of cream and washed beige. A small water tank stood to one side, supported by an old, rickety stand, the tap jutting out from the base of the tank rusty and brown. Draco raised his eyebrows. The house was so un-Pansy-ish.
The front door of the house opened, and Draco squinted against the morning sun. A tall, slim woman with long black hair and an amused expression stood in the open doorway.
“I was wondering how long it would take you to find me,” she said, and Draco forced a smile onto his face.
“Hello, Pansy,” he said, walking slowly down the path towards her. “You look good,” he added out of politeness, although he had to admit she did look good. Her hair was glossy and straight, falling to her waist, a fringe cut bluntly across her forehead, brushing her eyebrows. Her skin was pale, and her blue eyes were bright and alert.
Pansy flashed him a cold smile, and Draco hesitated, his hand drifting to his wand, concealed in his pocket. He saw her follow the motion with her eyes, and she laughed.
“You’d have to be quicker than that, Draco. If I wanted to hurt you, I’d have done it already,” she said.
“You wouldn’t hurt me, Pansy,” Draco smirked. “I know you.”
She snorted, but stepped aside and motioned for him to come in. Taking a deep breath, Draco walked past her and into the house. He was not two feet inside when Pansy grabbed his arm, flinging him around and shoving him against the wall with more strength than he would have believed she had. Eyes flashing with fury, Pansy drew back her hand and slapped him across the face.
Draco swore loudly, and pushed her away roughly, the flowers dropping from his hand to the floor, his peace offering forgotten. “What the hell, Parkinson?” he yelled, rubbing his cheek. His face stung like crazy. Pansy screeched like a mad woman, throwing herself at him, nails raking at his skin. Draco pressed himself into the wall in shock, before reaching out and grabbing her arms, holding her away from him as she kicked and swore. He picked her up, carrying her through the hall and into the lounge room, tossing her roughly on the lounge. She glared daggers at him, and he sighed, crossing to the other side of the room, putting as much distance between them as possible.
“You bastard!” she yelled at him, crossing her arms over her chest, her face red and blotchy. “How dare you show up here, out of the blue, after six bloody years!”
Draco sighed, running his fingers through his hair. “Get over it, Pansy,” he spat, sitting down in a soft armchair.
Pansy glared at him. “So what do you want?”
Draco ignored her. He looked around the room. It was small and dark, and everything looked like it was covered with a fine layer of dust. “Bloody hell, Parkinson. How long have you been here? You think you’d have cleaned up a bit.”
“Get stuffed, Malfoy,” she snarled, and Draco felt his eyes widen. Since when did Pansy call him ‘Malfoy’? He glanced at her. She was throwing him the dirtiest look she could muster, and Draco swallowed. He would have to change tactics, or she would never tell him anything.
“I missed you,” he said softly, trying not to vomit. He watched Pansy’s face closely. Eventually, her features softened, and she let out a deep sigh. “Come here and give me a kiss,” Draco demanded, silently apologizing to Hermione. Pansy didn’t move, and Draco opened his arms, smiling at her. With a roll of her eyes, she got to her feet, crossing the room and sinking into his arms. Draco swallowed his disgust as she kissed him gently on the lips. She tasted wrong.
“I missed you too,” she whispered, and he nodded and stroked her back. “How could you just leave me?”
He sighed. “I had to, Pansy darling. It was not safe for me to stay.”
“So where have you been?” she asked softly, her face buried in his neck.
“Hiding out, same as you,” Draco replied, hoping to draw her into revealing something to him. Pansy pulled away and looked at him.
“I wasn’t hiding,” she said, and he snorted.
“No? So how come no one knew where you were?” Draco asked, batting her hand away from his hair. Pansy pouted.
“Plenty of people knew where I was,” she replied, running her fingers down his face. Draco stamped down on his nausea, playing along, pretending he was enjoying every second of her attention.
“So I heard. You and Blaise were together,” he said coldly, forcing himself to sound upset.
Pansy sighed. “What did you expect me to do, Draco? No one knew where you were. No one knew if you were even alive. I was lonely and upset. You broke my heart,” she said, tears in her eyes.
“How long were you with him?” Draco asked quietly, not really caring.
“Not long. About a year, after school finished,” she answered, climbing off his lap.
“And now? Do you still see him?” Draco asked coolly, watching her face carefully. Pansy folded her arms over her chest, stalking across the room.
“No, I don’t. I don’t know where he is or what he is doing. He left me, just like you did,” she whimpered, sinking down onto the lounge, her head in her hands. Draco sighed, listening to her cry. He stood up. This had been a waste of time.
“Goodbye, Pansy,” he said softly, before walking from the room and out the front door.
A/N: Thanks for reading guys. Please make sure you leave a review! Thanks - MajiKat xx