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Chapter 22: Secrets and Truth
Draco pulled back.
“Shh.” He held his finger to his lips. “Did you hear that?”
Hermione could do nothing but shake her head. She used the tips of her index fingers to wipe away the tears under her eyes. Sniffling slightly, she looked up at her husband. He had his ear perked towards the bushes to her right. His platinum hair hung loosely into his face.
“Never mind.” His mercurial eyes looked down on her.
She collected herself enough during the time of his paranoia, and she was now able to stare back at him and say in a fairly calm voice, “Draco you’re too good to me.”
He nodded his head in recognition.
“How can you forgive me for this?” She was questioning, rather than pleading for forgiveness.
“I don’t,” he replied curtly. “I don’t forgive you for this. Now tell me exactly what happened between you and Weasel King.”
“That’s not his name!”
Draco just stared at her, his faces set in stone.
She took a large breath, inhaling and then exhaling slowly. “We were fighting in the garden yesterday…”
“About nothing, it was stupid. We had one of our normal, stupid fights. Then it changed and it wasn’t normal, and he…” She wrung her hands.
“And he…” Draco irritatingly prodded on.
“And he said that there was a witness to you kidnapping him.” She looked into his eyes, trying to gauge his reaction; there was a brief dilation of his pupils, but no more. “I didn’t respond, he left, and I couldn’t say anything.”
“How exactly does that lead to you two kissing?”
“Well,” Hermione stared at her hands, noticing that her thumb nail polish had chipped. “Then I…” She started to say that she had been taking a bath, but figured that that might make him come to even worse conclusions. “I told him later that he was lying, but he looked so serious, and I was shaken, and then he just… it just happened.”
“Huh?” She looked up.
“How long was the kiss?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t time it,” she huffed.
“Guess.” His voice sounded so cold, so calm, as if he was questioning anyone about anything and not his wife about her infidelity.
“Maybe thirty seconds.”
Again, Hermione looked at him questioningly.
“Was. There. Tongue?” He said slowly, as if explaining it to a six year old.
“A little.” She mumbled sheepishly. “But I stopped it! I swear I pulled away. I left; I haven’t talked to him since, Draco.”
He stood silently, not even looking down at her any longer. Instead, he continued staring towards the bushes to the right.
“You pulled away.” It wasn’t a question, but Hermione felt the need to answer it anyway.
“Yes. Yes. I pulled away.”
“After thirty seconds.”
Hermione didn’t respond.
The silence grew so uncomfortable that she could hardly take it any longer. She distracted herself by picking away at her already chipped polish, but there was only so long that she could take the tension that stifled the air.
“Say something, please.”
Draco snapped his attention back to her, as if waking from a dream or, in this case, a nightmare.
“I think it would be best…” he paused momentarily to run his fingers through his hair, “…if you went back to England for a while.”
“Draco.” Her voice came out sounding small, so small.
“I just need time Hermione.”
She nodded her head in understanding and watched as he walked away. She stood there, hugging herself as the tears spilled down her face, silently washing her shame away.
Besides the rather disgusting and tasteless interruption from Ron’s consort of last night, the day was going wonderfully well. She, Ginny Weasley, was married to the man of her dreams, Harry Potter. Her schoolgirl crush appeared pale and insignificant compared to the love that she now bore her husband. Her Husband! It was wonderful to think. Hell, it was even better to say.
“Harry is my husband!” She shouted.
Harry grinned at her as his cheeks flushed slightly.
“Have you been sneaking sips of champagne, dear sister?” Charlie came up from behind and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “’Cause they say that can cause brain damage to the baby.”
“Yes, and we have you as evidence of that.” Ginny shot back with a smirk.
Charlie just laughed and pinched her cheek before walking towards George and his makeshift bar.
Ginny turned to her husband, “I haven’t seen Hermione in a while. You think she’s okay?”
“I’m sure she’s fine. I think I saw her walk off with Draco.”
“Probably just avoiding you and your mum.” Harry pulled her into him. “Can’t say as I blame him, you witches can be pretty scary when you’re angry.” He pecked her lightly on the cheek and Ginny playfully punched him in the arm, though maybe a little harder than she normally would have.
The newlyweds made their rounds throughout the party, making sure to talk to everyone as well as taking bits of time to themselves. It was just after a short snogging session behind a rather bushy hedge that Ginny overheard George’s not so quiet whisper.
“Wonder what’s got his knickers in a twist?”
She turned to see Draco stomping towards the front of the house with a scowl on his face.
“When are his knickers not in a twist?” Bill snorted.
“Ah, good point my friend.”
If Draco was there, then where was Hermione? Where was Ron? What was going on? Ginny thought about going to look for them, but then nature called and she decided to hold off on the search until after she relieved her ever-full bladder.
She followed Draco, as that was the closest restroom, but his platinum head was not in sight. She turned right, went into the small, closet-like loo, and barely got her dress up and panties down in time.
A surge of relief went through her, and she sat back and relaxed a bit. Then she heard a small, sharp voice say, “You took too rong.”
Ginny leaned her head towards the open window next to the toilet.
“I had business to take care of.” A familiar voice replied. “You certainly did your job.”
“I do two fo wun eef you like.” There was a pointed giggle.
“That won’t be necessary,” the sharp reply echoed.
“Suit yolsef. That wi be fi tousan.”
“Yes, yes. I know.” There was a slight rustling, and she thought that she heard the woman’s voice mumbling something, but she couldn’t make it out.
She sat there for a moment trying to figure out exactly what it was she had overheard. There was no question about the man’s voice, it was obvious, but who was the woman? A native no doubt, based on her broken English. But who? She collected herself and washed her hands slowly, all the while mulling over the possibilities.
Instead of trying to guess, Ginny decided to look for herself. Removing her shoes, she left the bathroom quietly and headed for the front door. Sneaking a look around a nearby window, she saw a shadow making its way towards the front of the house. She ducked behind a nearby wall, hoping that he would not head in her direction. When she heard the sound of the door opening and closing, she held in her breath. Measured footsteps walked towards her hiding place then, to her relief, they passed and she slowly let her breath escape her lips. Once she felt certain that he had gone she crept towards the front door and rushed to the side of the house that the bathroom window faced. There was no one there.
Dejected, she stood there hoping to see some evidence of the girl’s identity, but there was nothing. She turned back towards the house and then stopped. There on the corner of the street was a small, Japanese girl. She recognized her as the same girl that had barged in on her wedding that morning. Why would she still be here? Ginny could surmise only one reason.
She strode over to the girl and with her no-nonsense voice she said, “Tell me everything.”
Hermione collected herself, wiped the tears from her face and strode confidently towards the party. As she expected, Draco was nowhere to be found. She could make believe that everything was okay a little while longer. No one would miss her husband or think it odd for him to have ducked out on the party.
She couldn’t help but notice that Ron was missing as well, and she felt relieved. It would be easier to pretend without him nearby.
“There you are.” Harry smiled at her and Hermione couldn’t help but smile back.
“Here I am.”
“We were getting worried about you.”
“Well, no need to worry. Where’s the blushing bride?” Hermione looked around but did not see Ginny anywhere.
“Off to the loo, I suspect. She has been in there seven times already today.” They both chuckled and then Harry offered her a glass of Ever Bubbly, which she gladly accepted. She needed something to calm her nerves.
She swallowed it down in one gulp and reached for another glass. “Whoa, slow down there.” Harry lightly pushed Hermione’s arm down as she went to take a sip of her new glass.
She smiled at him sheepishly, but then continued to gulp down that glass as well.
“Are you okay?” He asked her.
It was such a loaded question, and Hermione knew exactly how she needed to answer it. “Yes, I’m fine. Just been a busy day.” Slapping on as convincing a smile as she could muster, she decided to take her leave of her overly observant friend and find someone who would not be as inclined to note her new drinking habit.
She grabbed another glass of champagne and found Victoire Weasley running around Bill’s legs. The child wore light yellow dress robes with a matching ribbon in her strawberry blonde hair. The smile on her face warmed Hermione from the inside out, and she suddenly wished that she was a child again. They were so innocent, and their lives so uncomplicated.
Hermione bent down to the little girl’s eye level. “What are you playing?”
The girl didn’t stop. “Run-ning” she said as she giggled breathlessly and wove under her father’s legs.
“How do you play?”
Victoire stopped and looked at Hermione as if she had two heads. Then throwing her hands up in the air as if it were the most obvious thing in the world she said, “You run, silly!”
Hermione laughed and continued to watch as she wove in and out of her father’s legs and around other members of her family. She stood back up and took in the proud look on Fleur’s face as she watched her daughter giggle and prance.
It struck Hermione how much fun the girl had just running around, and how horrible she herself felt as she was doing the same thing. Running. Always running. From her problems, from herself, from her husband, from Ron.
Eventually she would have to stop; she felt so tired. She dared not go back to her room, afraid that Draco would be in there, but she couldn’t stay out here anymore. She couldn’t pretend that everything was okay. She couldn’t keep running. She needed to rest.
She could feel her head beginning to get a little fuzzy from the champagne, so she decided that maybe she needed to walk a bit clear her mind. Ginny still was nowhere to be seen, along with both Ron and Draco. Hermione doubted if anyone would really miss her presence at this point anyway.
So, around the garden she went. The cool breeze sent goose bumps up and down her arms, but it was refreshing. She picked one of the leaves from a nearby tree and twirled it around between her thumb and forefinger. She watched as it spun around and around. First one way and then the other. She focused so intently on the leaf that she didn’t notice the long limbs splayed out before her.
“Oof!” She heard right before she stumbled forward and caught herself with her hands.
“Ouch.” She turned her head around and saw to her chagrin that she had tripped over the very legs that she had been hoping to avoid.
Instead of looking at him, she focused her attention onto her now scratched up hands. She rubbed away the dirt and blew lightly on the scrapes.
“You okay?” His voice sent shivers down her spine.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” She scrambled to get to her feet but was tangled in her robes and ended up falling back down.
“Here.” He placed his hand around her forearm and pulled her lightly up. As soon as she was upright, he removed his hand and Hermione felt its absence regretfully. She kept her eyes down and brushed the dirt from her robes.
“Thank you.” She continued to keep her eyes down, focusing them first on robes and then back to her hands.
An awkward silence stretched on endlessly. “So…” She started after not being able to bear it any longer.
“So…” He repeated after her.
“Why aren’t you out there celebrating?” She figured that would be a safe subject.
He shrugged. “Why aren’t you?”
She shrugged back.
Then they both chuckled lightly. Some of the tension in the air seeped away. Hermione began to walk, and to her surprise, he followed along beside her.
“It’s really great about the wedding.” Another safe topic she could discuss with him.
He looked over towards the party, “Yeah, it really is.”
“They’re really good together.”
“So…” she said again.
“It’s just so weird.” He blurted out.
She stopped and turned to look at him. “What is? Harry and Ginny?”
“No,” He shook his head. “No, that, well that’s wonderful. This,” he pointed between himself and Hermione. “This is weird. I don’t remember you. I don’t remember us.” He looked pained. “I’ve been told that we were best friends; that we were more… but I don’t remember any of that.” He turned away from her penetrating gaze. “All I know is how I feel when you’re near me.”
“Ron…” Tears pricked at her eyes. “I’m mar…”
He stomped his foot. “I know! You’re married. To Malfoy.”
She looked down. Could this day get any more complicated?
“Yes. I am.”
“But you feel it, too. You haven’t forgotten.”
She swallowed and choked back the impending tears. “I do. I can’t forget.” Then she lifted her eyes to his. “I don’t know what to do.” Without her permission, the tears began to fall. “You were de-dead.” She sobbed. “You were gone, and now you’re here. And I’m married. What am I supposed to do?” She heaved.
He moved to put his arms around her, but she stepped back shaking her head, tears spilling down her cheeks.
“Please don’t.” She begged.
“Do you love him?” He asked.
She looked down and nodded her head.
“And do-do you love me?”
She stiffened and lifted her head up so that their eyes met. She could see that his were glassy, and she could only imagine what her own looked like. Slowly she nodded, not breaking eye contact.
They stood there staring at one another, neither taking notice of how much time passed.
Then, Ron broke the spell and turned away. “I guess it’s a good thing I can’t remember, then.”
She didn’t know what to say to that, so she stayed silent instead.
“Well, I guess we better head back to the party.” He put a wan smile onto his face. “Don’t want miss out on anymore of the fun.”
“Yeah,” Hermione half-heartedly agreed. “Better get back.” She watched as he walked ahead, and then with heavy steps she followed behind.
A/N: First I would like to thank everyone so much for reviewing last chapter, I got a wonderful response and it was so interesting to read all the different preferences.
Second I want to thank my lovely beta Georgia Weasley for making my punctiation and grammar better than I or Microsoft Word ever could.
Third I had some trouble with the Ginny scene because like an idiot I wrote it all initially with her getting drunk. Obviously I had lost my mind because I forgot that she was pregnant. I really liked the drunk scene though so if you are interested come and check it out on my Authors page, where I will post the very unedited version of it.
Last I want to ask you what you all think? How was the rest of their fight? What do you think that whole Japanese Girl scene was about? Could you understand the accent? What about Hermione's conversation with Ron? I love hearing from all of you, so let me know, even if you hated it.