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Chapter 27: Chapter Twenty-Seven
Once their breathing grew erratic and heavy, Draco detached his lips from hers, but was unable to draw his body away.
“This doesn’t change a thing.” He whispered.
Hermione nodded her head in agreement. “Nothing.” She whispered hoarsely.
Taking it as an acceptable answer, Draco immediately dove back into her lips, reminding himself that the following events shall never happen again.
Four Months Later
By the time it was seven-thirty on a perfect July morning, Draco had officially decided that at his young, tender age, he had found the most perfect—the most divine beauty to wake up to. Several older people—those who have already gotten the chance to live, and see the world—would blatantly express his or her disapproval of his judgment. Young men who have yet to see more than one face and one horizon shouldn’t be so quick to judge the potential beauty of he rest of the world. However, at that very moment, at that small instant in time, Draco knew that nothing could be more perfect than waking up to Hermione Granger sleeping peacefully beside him.
Although there were several times before when he had woken up to Hermione’s beautiful face, each time always felt like the first time. Each time he awoke beside her, he could not contain the swell of happiness that spread through his chest.
Absentmindedly, Draco tightened his arm around Hermione’s bare waist, drawing her naked body closer to his. A content sigh rumbled through his throat as he pressed his face against her soft curls. “I love you,” he whispered, just like he did every other morning after their nights together.
“Draco,” her voice startled him. It was unusual for her to be awake at such an early time. “What time is it?” she whispered, her eyebrows slowly knitting into a frown.
“About seven-thirty.” He answered after a short pause. “Go back to sleep, it’s early.”
He felt her press herself closer to the mattress while her head dug deeper into the pillow. He fought the smile that played on his lips as she ran her hands up his arms, drawing them as close to her body as possible. Shortly after, she sighed and turned around to face him.
“Good morning.” She said with closed eyes, smiling softly at him. Her voice was still hoarse from her sleep, a voice that Draco fell in love with the first moment he woke up beside her. Hermione planted a kiss on his lips, and began running her fingers over various parts of his body.
Draco smiled. “It’s early.”
She shrugged and kissed his jaw. “I like waking up early.”
He chuckled soundly, his happiness evident in his eyes. “That is a complete lie, Hermione.” He pointed out. “You love sleeping in.”
Hermione shook her head and smiled. “I love having you to wake up to.”
Like the start of every other morning they spend together, Hermione kissed his lips softly, and Draco pressed forward, deepening the kiss. His hands roamed her naked body and hers dove right into his tousled hair.
Unexpectedly, Hermione rolled out of Draco’s arms and jumped out of bed, grabbing a spare towel on the way to the bathroom. “You’re taking a shower now?” Draco asked curiously, propping himself up on his elbow. “It’s Sunday.”
“Ron just called me in for a raid somewhere in Scotland.” She answered. “I’ve got to be in the office in about an hour.”
The shower came on, and Draco plopped back down against the pillows. “You know Hermione, I’m beginning to think that I’m simply a ‘shag-and-run’ case for you.” He joked halfheartedly, slightly bitter that she was leaving his side so early in the morning.
The only response Draco received was the sound of laughter echoing throughout the tiled walls of the bathroom.
“Pansy, are you sure this is going to work out?” Pansy sighed exasperatedly as she heard the very question for the fiftieth time that afternoon. “I just—I’m sorry, I just want this to be perfect.”
Pressing her palm to her temple, Pansy groaned. “Really, Draco? I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch just how perfect you wanted tonight to be in the past billion times you told me.”
“Cut the sarcasm, Pans. This has to be perfect.” He retorted—defeated—plopping down onto the leather couch beside her.
The word perfect was beginning to sound strange to Pansy. She thought of the distinct sound of per was starting to sound unorthodox; like a word she has never heard of before. Her ears began picking up syllables that would have usually gone unnoticed suddenly registered in her mind as parts of a word that she has never heard before. It was times like this when Pansy knew she has heard a word too many times with in the span of ten minutes. Perfect. The word was biting on the corner of her mind, pestering her to no end.
Draco’s mouth opened slightly, his words nearing the brink of sound. “I swear to Merlin, if you say the word perfect one more time—”
Before the threat left her mouth, Blaise waltz through Pansy’s front door with a large red box in his hands. “Hello friends.” He greeted casually, plopping down on the couch beside Pansy. “Cookie?” he asked, bringing the box in front of Pansy as he lifted the lid open. “Daphne baked it herself.”
Pansy stared at the box of cookies hesitantly, and then looking back up at Blaise. “I’m not entirely sure that this would be safe to eat...” she trailed off.
“Why do you think I brought this over before she forced one down my throat?” Blaise asked. He pulled the lid over the box, and set the box on the coffee table sitting directly in front of them. “So, Draco. I called in this morning, and I wasn’t able to get you a table at that French restaurant you requested—BUT—before you get your knickers in a twist, I got you something better.” he said, with a wide, devious grin plastered on his face.
“Blaise, what the bloody hell is this?” Draco demanded as he stared across the spacious room. There was half a brick wall standing on the far right hand side—the other half, having been blown off; the rubble, scattered on the ground by its feet. Several piles of bricks surrounded each corner of the room, as if the house was left unfinished. A roof was missing, leaving the sky wide open for their viewing pleasure. A fireplace sat on the left side—it’s mantle severely damaged. “How is this better than what I asked for in the beginning?”
Blaise rolled his eyes. “Well, not now it’s not. But trust me mate, this place has serious potential for a ‘romantic’ date.”
From beside him, Pansy sighed exasperatedly, followed by a small sound of laughter. “When are you going to give it up, Blaise?” she asked. “Everyone knows that you are a romantic bloke, there’s no need to hide it. That’s just trying to hide the fact that you are still madly in love with your ex-girlfriend—the only girlfriend that ever meant anything to you.”
Draco heard Blaise growl from behind him. “Why must you always insist on bringing out the worst in me?” Blaise cried with a playful tone. “And for the record, I am not still ‘madly in love’ with Daphne. We are simply friends now.”
A grin crawled through Pansy’s face. “Stop using air quotes as if what you’re saying isn’t the least bit true. And I never said anything about this ex-girlfriend of yours, being Daphne.”
“You really think this place has potential?” Draco asked, interjecting into Blaise’s retort before his friends fell into another one of their full-blown arguments. “Will you help me Blaise? Tonight has to be—”
“Perfect—we know!” Blaise and Pansy chorused together, throwing both their hands in the air.
“C’mon Draco, let’s leave Blaise to it. We still have to go to Ron and Harry to set up dinner.” The three said their goodbyes, leaving Blaise standing alone in the middle of what was left of the old, forsaken manor.
“Morning Ron,” Pansy greeted the moment she entered the conference room in the Ministry of Magic. “Shouldn’t you be in Scotland with the rest of the Auror’s?” she asked, taking a seat beside him.
“I had to come back to search some names. Harry would’ve sent Hermione, but he decided that it was best to keep her away from London for a while. Today is the big day isn’t it?” he asked, looking at Draco who sat on the table not far from Ron and Pansy.
He nodded. “I’m hoping for it.” Draco replied. “Which is why we need your help.”
Ron shrugged. “What can I do?”
Pansy picked up a large bag from the floor, and set it on the table in front of Ron. “Get Hermione to wear everything in this bag. Keep her away from both her apartment and Draco’s. Bring her your apartment, or Harry’s—it doesn’t really matter—and get her to change and doll herself up.” She instructed carefully. “Then feed her a lie, tell her a story—whatever you need to get her to this address. It’s crucial that you make something up, Ronald. Or else she will suspect something, and this entire thing will be ruined.”
Slowly, Ron picked up the piece of paper Pansy had set in front of him. “You’re underestimating Hermione’s intelligence, Pans.” He said, glancing at Draco. “No matter what sort of lie I make up, she’ll know that there’s something wrong. She’s a trained auror, mate. The last time Harry and I slipped a lie past her was in our second year, when we told her that she looked cute as a cat.” A small smile formed on his face at the thought of his Hogwarts days.
“It doesn’t matter if she realizes that there’s something wrong, but she cannot suspect that I have anything to do with it. Lead her astray, make her think that you bought a dragon as a pet, and you’re too afraid to show anyone because they will call you bonkers and take it away. Get creative—anything.” Draco explained. “This has to go perfectly.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I’ll try my best, but I cannot assure anything.”
Draco nodded. “Nice talking to you, mate.” He clapped a hand on Ron’s shoulder as both he and Pansy made their way out the door. “Oh, and get her there by nine o’clock sharp.”
To Draco’s dismay, the rest of the night did not work out as well as he had hoped. In the process of decorating the tattered estate, Blaise managed to blow up the remaining half of the fireplace. Blaise sent patronus after patronus to Pansy’s apartment, begging her for help, in fear that Draco would pop a vein and suck Blaise’s body dry of his soul. When Pansy demanded for an explanation, Blaise told his long, extravagant story that could basically be summed up into: ‘In the midst of casting a spell, I dropped my wand, I cursed, and I ended up blowing up a wall’.
In addition to Blaise’s mishap, Draco managed to forget the most important part of the night. Dinner. The thought dawned on him about two hours before Hermione was due to arrive, and Draco—for a lack of a better world—flipped out. He sprung up on his feet and disapparated quicker than any breathing person on the earth could blink. He wasn’t entire sure where he was going, but somehow, he managed to apparate himself back into the Malfoy Manor. Without thinking, Draco ran through the gates and into the sitting room where he found his mother lounging on a chair, reading a lengthy book.
She peered over her reading glasses, sporadic strands of blonde hair falling from its hold at the back of her head, and into her face. Due to maternal instinct, Narcissa immediately read the distress written all over Draco’s face. By the end of their discussion, although Narcissa was displeased with his choice in women, she promised a full, well-cooked meal by eight-thirty.
The lack of food was not the only thing Draco seemed to have forgotten. Music. He had no idea how he could’ve forgotten such a crucial detail that sets the entire atmosphere for the whole dinner. Once he apparated back into his flat, he rummaged through the many CD’s that were carelessly shoved in the drawer beneath his flat screen TV. Draco sat in his flat for a good hour and a half before it finally dawned on him. He set the CD’s in his hands down on the floor, and heaved a heavy sigh.
“I am a failure.” He mumbled glumly to himself. “I can’t even get a single date to go right. And it hasn’t even started yet.”
Giving up on selecting music, he decided to check on his little minion who should have been back in his flat hours ago.
The moment he apparated to the torn-down estate, Draco sincerely, desperately, unequivocally wished that he had stayed in his flat, rummaging through his collection of music. The bright, white lights that were supposed to be hanging across the roofless ceiling was currently tangled around Blaise’s entire body, making him glow like a lightbulb, while Pansy was being shocked by an electrical socket on the opposite side of the room.
“What the bloody hell have you two been doing?” Draco demanded, grabbing their wands that were set down on the table in front of him. “You two have wands for a reason.” He pointed out impatiently, holding the two wooden sticks up to their view.
Blaise growled under his breath. “Shut the bloody hell up and untangle me!” he snapped, struggling to free himself of the wires.
Rolling his eyes, Draco made his way over to Pansy first.
“Hey!” Blaise called out, struggling in his confines even more. “Bloody hell, mate! Whatever happened to bro’s before hoes?”
“Pansy, you’re not supposed to be sticking your finger into the hole.” Draco bent down beside Pansy, who was nursing her electrocuted finger. “You’re going to get shocked.” He chuckled as Pansy glared at the socket. “Why didn’t you just use your wands? This house is a dump, I wouldn’t trust the electrical wiring here if I were you.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Pansy grumbled as she picked her self up off the floor. “Let’s help Blaise before he somehow manages to tighten the lights around himself.”
Unraveling Blaise was the hardest part of the night so far. Neither Draco nor Pansy had any idea how he managed to wrap twinkling lights around himself without the knowledge that he was doing so. It took a whole ten minutes to get Blaise unwrapped.
After another ten minutes had passed, Pansy furiously threw the small portion of lights that were in her hands down onto the ground. “Screw. This.” After thinking to herself for a moment, she grabbed her wand off the table and various sized light orbs began floating out from the tip of her wand, taking their assigned positions above them.
From the ground, Blaise stared up at Pansy’s wand in amazement. “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” he asked, entirely too amazed that Pansy could in fact, produce magic. “We are terrible wizards, guys.” He said—louder this time.
The lighting was done in a matter of minutes, thanks to Pansy. From where the three were standing, it looked as though the stars in the sky decided to take a refuge closer to earth for the night. A couple light orbs were scattered around the room; the majority of the orbs hovered around the small round, well-dressed table.
“I can’t ever leave you two alone to work together, can I?” Draco asked his friends as they took a step back and reveled at their beautiful work.
“It’s his fault!” Pansy remarked, pointing a finger at Blaise who was standing on the other side of Draco. “That stupid idiot managed to get stuck in a bunch of wires.”
Blaise retorted with a look of disbelief. “Who managed to electrocute herself?”
Literally standing in the middle of his friends’ argument, Draco awkwardly stood in between them with his hands in his pockets, shaking his head.
By the time it hit nine-thirty that evening, Draco has never been more anxious in his life. Hermione was thirty minutes late; Hermione was never late. She was the most punctual girl he’s ever met. Of course there were those rare occasions where life just happened to get in the way, which would literally stop her from showing up on time; however, Draco was almost ninety-nine percent certain that this was not one of those ‘rare occasions’. There could not possibly be anything keeping her from arriving on time. After all, tonight was an important date—it was already decided days ago. Ron must have clarified the importance of this evening, and how critical it was that she arrived on time.
Perhaps it had slipped Ron’s mind to force Hermione to said location at the present time. Perhaps there was an accident in the Ministry—in her department—and someone was sent into St. Mungo’s. Of course they needed her for that, right? There was also the slight possibility that Hermione Granger did not want to attend their date tonight. There was the possibility that she was sitting in her flat, curled up on her sofa with her head buried in another one of her novels. Draco sincerely hoped that it was one of the earlier situations that had clawed through his mind; otherwise, if Hermione Granger’s head were buried in a book, it would be extremely difficult to bring her back down to Earth.
Time began moving painfully slow for Draco. As he sat on the set table in the middle of the room, he felt that time decided to torture him that evening. His wristwatch eventually traveled from his wrist, and onto his plate set in front of him. The seconds’ hand was going by much too slow for his taste. There were several times when he thought his watch had stopped working, but then he realized it was merely a figment of his imagination. Draco had no idea what to think of this. Should he be happy that time was indeed moving on, and with ever tick, Hermione became later and later? Or, should he be happy that time itself had stopped for a short period of time, giving Hermione the chance to arrive closer to the set time?
Honestly, his head was in shambles. Half his thoughts were not making the least bit of sense. This woman was driving him mad. How could the absence of a single person make him this nervous and jittery? Draco didn’t expect to be feeling this way until the time was right to finally propose. But of course, this was Hermione Granger. She wouldn’t be Hermione if she didn’t make Draco feel anxious even before she arrived.
Seconds passed, and so did minutes. Soon, an entire hour passed by, and still no Hermione was in sight. Sitting in the very spot he had sat in for the past hour, Draco strained his ears, hoping that he would hear the slight sound of a ‘pop’ in the distance, indicating Hermione’s arrival. However, no matter how much Draco strained his ears, no matter how silence the night became, there were no apparition sounds—none at all.
“If she didn’t want to show up, she could at least have the decency to write.” Draco grumbled, clanking his fork and spoon together like an angry little child. There was disappointment written all over his face—disappointment with a hint of anger and a twinge of sadness. The anxiousness that bubbled in his stomach earlier that night soon began to ebb away, only to be replaced with feelings that were worse than anxiety.
More seconds passed, then minutes, and then another hour. The magic in the light orbs were slowly beginning to die out, leaving the room dim and eerie. It would take two to make the atmosphere more romantic, regardless of the dimming lights and the increasing darkness. However, it was only Draco. It was only Draco who had touched his silverware the entire night. It was only Draco who had complemented on Pansy’s choice of red wine, and only Draco who had the chance of enveloping the feeling of sitting down at the dinner table, and seeing the beautiful scenery around him. Why? Because Hermione did not bother to show up for the rest of the night.
Tired of waiting, Draco bitterly stood up from his spot and slowly walked out of the estate. He took a few steps into the woods, and apparated back to his flat. He unlocked the door with his wand, and stepped inside.
The sound of a woman muttering in the dark slightly scared him out of his shoes—something he would never admit to anyone. Curious, Draco slowly walked down the hallway and turned right, facing Hermione’s old bedroom.
“Oh, where is it?” he heard someone mumble. “I’m going to kill Pansy if she borrowed it without asking!”
There were a couple of loud thuds before Draco finally realized who it was. “Hermione?”
There was a short silence, and then suddenly, Draco found himself face to face with a frazzled looking Hermione Granger. To his surprise, she was dressed in the outfit Pansy had chosen out for her earlier that morning. Her curls were slightly tousled, which was something Hermione did out of habit whenever she grew frustrated. “Draco?” she piped, clearly surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“Er.. I live here.” He answered stupidly.
Hermione sighed and her shoulders slumped forward as she dropped her head. “I’m so sorry.” She apologized, running her free hand through her hair. “I tried to get back on time, I did, really! But the ministry disabled apparition out of Scotland, and the floo-network was blocked as well, so I had no way of getting back. And then by the time I finally arrived, it was ten-thirty, and then Ron started acting all strange.” Despite his disappointment and anger, Draco couldn’t help but laugh as Hermione rambled on about her efforts on arriving on time. “He kept pushing me to get ready, and you know me. Whenever Ron pushes me to do something, I would much rather piss him off than actually do what he asks of me. And then I realized that I lost my favorite earrings, so I came here to find it, and I really wanted to wear it tonight, and I still can’t find it!” she cried furiously.
Chuckling, Draco reached forward and wrapped his arm around Hermione’s shoulders, bringing her into him. “I’ll owl Pansy and ask her if she has your earrings.” He said, hugging her tightly. “It’s alright if you’re a little late.”
“A little?” Hermione asked, laughing slightly. “Draco, it’s eleven thirty. A little late is an understatement.”
Draco smiled. “Honestly Hermione, I’m slightly relieved that the only reason you’re late is because you were stuck in Scotland for the night.” He released her and smoothened out her hair. “I was beginning to think that you didn’t want to come tonight.”
She frowned. “Why would you think something as silly as that?” Hermione asked. “That’s ridiculous.”
Shrugging, Draco enveloped Hermione into his arms once more. “How about we just start the night over, and pretend that we were supposed to meet at eleven?”
Hermione smiled gratefully, suddenly not feeling so guilty anymore. “I’d like that.”
Grabbing her hand tightly in his, Draco apparated both Hermione and himself into the old house as he silently prayed to himself that she would be amazed. To his dismay, Hermione took one look around, and turned back to him. “Shall we eat?” she asked him with a smile. “I’m starving.”
Draco gulped loudly, and nodded, following her to the table. Once they were both seated, Hermione gave Draco and expecting look. “Oh!” he exclaimed suddenly, chuckling to himself for a second or two. “Sorry.” He apologized nervously. With a flick of his wand, food appeared on his plate, and their wine glasses were half filled with red wine.
About a couple more minutes into the date, Draco realized that he has never felt more awkward before in his life. It was then that he realized that he and Hermione rarely went out on a conventional ‘date’. Of course he had gone on several before he met Hermione, but never once did it occur to him that Hermione was the type of girl that would be wooed by a fancy dinner in some decorated house that no one has stepped foot in about a decade ago.
Their dinner went smoothly. Hermione laughed at his jokes (as if they were funny), and they found several conversation topics (as usual). This was probably the only part of the day that ever went well. However, despite the smoothness of the evening, Draco could not push the feeling of anxiousness out of his body. There were so many things that were simply going wrong on this perfect date. As much as Draco hated oxymorons, this was not one that he could simply overlook.
“Tonight was great.” She began casually as the couple walked through an empty street in London. “I’m surprised that you took me out to dinner.”
Nervously, Draco chuckled in response. “I don’t do it often, do I?”
“No, you don’t.” she said with a small, shy smile. “But it’s fine.”
“Fine?” he pressed further on. “Fine doesn’t exactly mean fine, Hermione. Especially when it comes from you.”
Hermione sighed, knowing that she had just walked right into an argument that she would not be able to breeze her way out of. “Draco, it’s fine, really. I’m not exactly the type of girl that bases a relationship on the kind of dates we have.”
“What kind of relationship are we in, exactly?” he asked calmly even though his insides were overflowing with uncontrollable anxiety. It was the one question he has been pondering over the moment he and Hermione—both being completely flustered and breathless—began searching for their clothes that were scattered around the bathroom during Pansy’s wedding. Unfortunately for Draco, despite what he had hoped, neither him nor Hermione has ever made their stances clear. It was now the moment of truth, and Draco was afraid out of his mind.
The pause that Hermione took in between his question and her answer was enough to make Draco want to crawl into a ditch and never come out. There were several thoughts running through his mind, that he did not even notice that Hermione had stopped walking. “Draco,” She spoke softly, as if the words that would come after were enough to slice through his heart. Her tone frightened him, and the look on her face did not help ease the anxiety that ripped through his body. The next few seconds ticked painfully slow—too slow. Silence rippled through the night, and the only thing Draco could hear was his own breathing. “Do you expect anything from me?”
For a small, fragment of a second, there was this urge pulsing through his hand—this urge that wanted to strangle Hermione for answer his question with another question. The inner voice in his head was screaming in frustration through all his built up fear and anxiety. He almost spoke the words that were shooting through his mind, but Draco skillfully held his tongue. ‘This is so typical of her.’ He thought to himself. ‘Why can’t she just answer my bloody question first? I swear, if this woman interrogate me before giving me a blasted answer, I’m going t—’
“I expect an answer, Hermione.” He responded after pulling himself out of his thoughts. “And please don’t ask another question. It will just drag out this ‘talk’ of ours.”
She exhaled deeply. “We’re… Draco, we’re friends.”
Friends. That one simple word painfully screwed up the rest of his night. Friends. They were just friends. Friends meant spending time together, but never kissing; holding hands, but not in the affectionate way; sleeping in the same bed, but without cuddling; present sexual tension with the absence of sex. He and Pansy are friends. Ron and Harry are friends. Ginny and Hermione are friends. There was absolutely no way—not even in the magical world, where the impossible is actually very possible—that he and Hermione were simply friends. After a couple more thoughts of friendship, Draco realized just how much he detested the godforsaken word. It was a parasite, and a disgusting one at that.
“Friends.” Draco repeated slowly, inwardly cringing. “Friends? Hermione, we’re not fucking friends.”
His language surprised her, and so did the anger evident on his face. “For the past few months, we’ve been anything but friends.” He continued.
“What do you want me to say?” Hermione retorted quickly. Her voice rose with every word she said. “What exactly do you want to hear from me? That we’re a couple? That we’re dating, even though we never really established anything earlier? Draco, we’re not dating. We were never dating.”
Every word that came out of her mouth was dripping with bitterness and resentment. Was she angry with him for this? He could not decide. It was difficult to interpret the glossy look in her eyes, and the anger that carved her face. He could not understand what she was saying, or why it sounded as if it was he who made the mistake.
“We were never in a real relationship, Draco. It was all a lie. Everything was a lie.” She said, slightly lowering her voice. “It was a well thought out lie. We fooled the entire world—I guess somewhere between all those lies, we managed to successfully lie to ourselves.”
“What you’re saying now is a lie.” Draco snapped. “What we had wasn’t a lie. Maybe it did start out with one big selfish lie, but it sure as hell didn’t turn out that way. You should stop lying to yourself, Hermione. You know as well as I do that you loved me.”
She turned her head away, and looked down at her feet. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” he demanded. “What the fuck do you mean, ‘you don’t know’? What the hell are you so bloody afraid of? Just say it, Hermione. You loved me. You still love me. What is all this bullshit about lies and friendship? You know very well that it’s not true.”
“I don’t know what I know, alright?” she exclaimed loudly. “Draco, I didn’t ask for this. There’s just too much uncertainty between us. How do you expect me to answer your question if I don’t even have a clue as to what is going on?”
Draco let out an aggravated sigh. “It’s not difficult, Hermione!” he shouted. “There’s no need to look into it, or to over analyze anything. Would you stop being your bookworm self for just five minutes and think about how you feel? This isn’t something that is to be calculated or anything of the sort. Even an illiterate five year old would be able to give an answer.”
“What?” he asked, surprised.
“Just stop, I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” She replied softly.
Draco blinked and simply stared at her. “I want to talk about it.”
“Well I don’t!” she exclaimed. Giving Draco one last look, she turned her heel and began quickly walking away.
“Granger.” Draco growled, almost threateningly. “Granger!” He shouted loudly when Hermione continued walking. “Granger, I’m not going to let you walk away again.”
Almost without a thought, Draco’s legs began moving quickly and swiftly, carrying him to Hermione faster than he could blink. “You really need to stop running away.” He said to her, scowling as he grabbed her arm and sharply turned her body around to face him. “This is all you ever do, Hermione. All you do is run. Once you find something good in your life, you run. It’s as if it’s some innate instinct that you can’t seem to break. I thought you were supposed to be courageous and self-righteous. Never did I think that Hermione Granger was a coward.”
As her eyes narrowed into slits, a disgusted scowl distorted her pretty little face. “Don’t you dare call me a coward, Malfoy. You of all people shouldn’t talk about cowardice.”
“You’re afraid, and we both know it. And when you’re afraid, you run. It’s as simple as that. Now tell me Granger, what’s biting you?” he asked, clearly angry at her stubbornness.
“I’m not afraid, you prat. Stop making assumptions about me and leave me alone.” Hermione spat.
She tried to stop around him, determined to get back to her flat and sleep the rest of her horrendous night away. However, Draco was too quick for Hermione. He stepped in front of her before her foot came in contact with the pavement. “Don’t even try to run away again. I won’t let you anymore. It’s about time that you tell me what’s got you so afraid.”
“I’m not afraid.” Her voice—her lies—were beginning to falter under his gaze. It wasn’t only Draco that noticed this too. Hermione knew that she was breaking, and in truth, it scared her more than ever. “Move.”
“If you weren’t afraid, then you wouldn’t have simply called us friends. Merlin Hermione, just a day ago we were in my flat, in my bedroom, on my bed, having sex over and over again.” With the mention of sex, Hermione’s eyes shifted towards the ground, and she slightly winced. “In the past month we’ve had more sex than I can even count. Are you telling me that this is what friends do? Screw until you can’t even move anymore?”
“It’s only sex.” she answered. “Sex is sex. It’s not associated at all with love.”
He stared at her for a moment or two. His eyes were fixed on her face as he attempted to try to read her expressions, her sighs, her eyes and her movements. “You can’t honestly tell me that you feel absolutely nothing for me, Hermione.” He said softly, suddenly realizing that his words were slowly breaking through her. Draco lifted his hand, and slowly started tracing the contours of her face, his finger barely touching her skin.
Hermione shifted her eyes from his face, to his shoulder and then straight down to her feet. “I don’t know anymore, Draco.” She whispered softly in a voice that cracked in mid sentence. “I’m sorry, but I don’t know.”
Nodding, Draco dropped his arm back to his side, and began to fish something out of his pocket. A little, black, velvet box appeared I the palm of his hands. “I brought you to dinner tonight to give you this.” He placed the box in her hands, and lifted his eyes to look at her. “I wasn’t really sure at first, but I guess now I am. Goodbye Hermione.”
This time, it was Draco who turned his back and walked away, leaving Hermione to cry out a thousand heartaches.
For the rest of the night, Draco laid in his bed, wide-awake, unable to allow sleep to overcome him. Despite his tiredness, there were too many thoughts racing through his mind. He had finally received an answer to his question—the question he has been pondering over the past couple of months was finally answered. After that night’s events, he wasn’t sure if he should be happy that he is no longer blissfully oblivious, or if he should be sad that he is now miserable and far from being content. The one girl he had learned to love was now gone. He was stupid enough to let her go out of sheer tiredness and frustration, and now—she’s gone. It was as simple as the abc’s. She’s gone. A very simple matter to comprehend.
After the heartache of losing Miranda, the girl he had thought he loved, was finally swept under the rug, he no longer believed that he would be able to feel that way about another person ever again. No matter what his parents threw at him, no matter what life had in store for him, there was always a feeling in the pit of his stomach that loneliness and emptiness would consume his life until the day that he died. In a million years—in a million century, Draco would have never been able to guess that he would be able to find—and to learn to—love again. And not once, would he have ever guessed that he would find it in Hermione Granger.
The moment he looked up and found Hermione Granger staring back at him in the diner that fated night, his stomach churned violently. Back then, when his beliefs were set straight by purebloods and his manipulative ex-girlfriend, Miranda, he strongly believed that the churning of his stomach was a paradigmatic reaction to seeing Hermione once more. While he was in Hogwarts, he was not too fond of seeing this girl anywhere; despite the seven years he had spent knowing her. She was a muggleborn—a mudblood; everything his father taught him to hate. She had bushy hair, and a voice that clawed at his ears until they bled. There was nothing special about her. She was plain Jane. Simply Hermione.
So he allowed her to sit. There was no plausible reason. He simply allowed her presence. He could have easily made her leave the diner in order to find his sanctity, but he did not. His eyes landed on her disheveled figure, and an anomalous feeling soaked through his skin the moment he looked through her glasses and into her eyes. For a short moment, he allowed himself to be entranced by the warmth of her eyes that was more than enough to melt his cold self. To his surprise, she neither smiled nor frowned—she just stopped and stared. At that moment, Draco felt as though she could suddenly see right through the walls that surrounded him—the very walls that every other person in the world posses. So he turned away, and then she spoke.
Her voice carried out through his ears, and he vaguely wondered how she managed to soothe him with the very first word she spoke. Her voice alone was enough to soothe him until he melted to bliss on his seat. This trance of his ended as quick as it began. He shook the eccentric thoughts of Hermione Granger from his head and forced out the typical attitude he has always conversed with. He became rude, sullen, and snarky faster than the blink of an eye. Fortunately for him, Hermione did not expect anything better.
What neither of them expected, however, was the sudden contract that was constituted that night—the unanticipated contract, which was sealed absolutely with a kiss that sparked the media. There was much more than fireworks that night for Draco. There was a whole future than ran through his mind for the short moment his lips were latched onto Hermione’s.
From that moment on, no matter how much he tried to deny it, he began to fall for her. He was not sure why, or how, but he did. There were moments when he stopped in mid-action only to realize that he had been thinking about Hermione. In spite of his lingering attachment to Miranda—which only resulted from the lack of closure from their ‘break-up’—he could not help the growing affections he held for Hermione. It was so blatant and lucid, that there was absolutely no point in hiding it any longer. He fell for her, the girl he swore to hate when he was eleven years old, and he fell hard.
A faint sound of knocking brought him out of his thoughts. At first, Draco thought it was his mind playing games on him, but he heard it again, this time louder. Dragging himself out of the comfort and warmth of his bed, Draco trudged down the hallway and to the door, not bothering to turn on the lights on his way. He certainly hoped that it was merely a muggle who got the wrong apartment. He was in no mood for company, not wanting to hear voices and nagging. Unlocking the bolts on the door, and turning the knob, Draco pulled the door with annoyance.
“Wh—” the sight before him knocked the breath right out of him. His mouth was left gaping open as if the ‘at’ got stuck somewhere in between his teeth and his throat. For a moment, he scolded his mind, telling himself that it was playing tricks on him again. However, after a couple more moments and a hundred blinks later, he realized that this was not his imagination-gone wild. It was as real as it could get. And it was right here. She was right here. “Hermione.” He breathed.
She stood before him—her face angry mixed with guilt and solemn. She was drenched; her hair and clothes clung onto her body, weighing her down. To Draco, it looked as though Hermione did not care about her appearance at all. There was a determined glint in her eye—one that he saw in Hogwarts on many occasions. “Wha—what are you doing here?” Draco inquired as he stood in the doorway, feeling slightly stupid for stuttering like a moron. “You—you’re wet.”
“What the hell is this?” she asked, holding up the black velvet box that he placed in her hand earlier.
He stared at the box, and then looked back at her as if she was a mad hatter. “Er, it’s an en—engagement ring.” He answered, feeling rather stupid again.
Hermione glared at him and shoved the ring back to his chest, where Draco was forced to take it in his hands. “You don’t just bloody give this to a woman, and then walk away. Honestly, who the hell does that?” she demanded. “Usually, a question comes with this box. Honestly Draco, are you that daft?” she sounded angry, and slightly vengeful—but Draco did not know where the vengefulness came from. Hermione gave him one last ‘are-you-stupid’ look before she pushed past him and walked straight into his flat.
Draco watched in awe as Hermione took of her shoes and began peeling her wet clothes off one by one, leaving a trail behind her as she slowly sauntered into his bedroom. Once she disappeared from his view, he followed her inside and watched with great confusion as a half naked Hermione pulled a shirt from his closet and wore it as if it were her own clothes. “Er—uh, Hermione?”
“What?” she snapped viciously while she buttoned the shirt.
“What do you mean that this box comes with a question?” he asked slowly, unable to figure out what she was doing. He seriously believed that they were done; finito; finished. The silence she chose to give was enough for him to understand that she did not want the same things he did. They were after different things, and it needed to stop—right? He spent the last three hours contemplating on their now broken—or so he thought—relationship in order to begin the mending process. And then now, she was standing before him, clad in nothing but his white button-up shirt possibly demanding for a question along with the ring?
Hermione rolled her eyes at him. “I cannot believe that you just handed this to me and just walked away.” She told him. “Did you think that a question would just be shouted out by opening this ‘magic box’ and then everything would be alright?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he demanded, sick and tired of her games. She was being cryptic and vague—everything he hated about women. Hermione was always straightforward. When she wanted to know something, she asked directly. She never took fourteen right turns and five left ones, instead of one right and one left just to get to her destination. She believed in the practical approach, which was one of the many things he liked about her. There was no guessing with Hermione—it was all absolute facts.
She stared at him with an infuriated expression on her face. After a few more moments of silence, she groaned in frustration and walked out of his bedroom and straight to the dark living room. “Hermione?” he called exasperatedly. “Would you stop walking away from me?” Draco found her curled up on the end of the couch, hugging a pillow close to her stomach with her bare legs folded beneath her. The moment she heard his voice, she looked up at him with her big brown eyes, and Draco immediately softened upon impulse. He sighed and walked around the couch before he kneeled in front of her. “Hermione, would you please tell me what this is about?” he asked her softly. “You show up in my apartment at four in the morning talking nonsense, and I would genuinely like to know what’s bothering you.”
Hermione sighed and looked away. “Never you mind.” She replied.
Draco sighed as well, and looked down at his hands. “How am I supposed to make this better if I don’t know what’s bothering you?” he groaned. And then it clicked. His hands squeezed the black velvet box lying on his palm, and he suddenly realized what Hermione wanted. Fighting a grin, he raised his eyes and stared at her. “About two years ago, I never would’ve thought that I would ever buy one of these things. After my relationship with Miranda, marriage wasn’t one of the roads that I planned to take in the future. I guess things change, huh?” he smiled, and opened the box, taking the ring in between his fingers as Hermione watched him intently. “The first time I gave you an engagement ring, it was not exactly my choice. Because of our little situation, I was forced to buy you an engagement ring for a lie that we created on the first night that we met again. This time, Hermione, I want to do it right.” He took her left hand in his, and nervously looked at her gorgeous, smiling face.
Unexpectedly, Draco smirked. “So, Granger—how’s say you and I get married? For real this time.” His soft tone completely changed in less than a second, causing Hermione to roll her eyes at him. “I’m joking.” He chuckled once he caught the amused look on her face.
She was not supposed to be amused. She was supposed to be amazed, excited and happy beyond belief.
“Hermione, will you please do my the honor of being my wife? My real wife, whom I will love for the rest of my life?” he asked slowly.
“That was all I asked for,” she answered, smiling broadly at her new fiancé.
Draco slipped the diamond on her finger, and before he could even take in the look on her face as the ring took its rightful place on his new fiancé, he was attacked by a breathtaking kiss.
“Do you think we’ll last till the actual wedding this time?” Draco joked as he regretfully broke their kiss.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Shut up, Draco.” And then she leaned in to kiss him again.
No for real this time!
A/N: hey guys! long time no update. ): BUT i finally managed to finish this one. i pumped it out of me during my winter break since i had nothing to do because i was snowed in. WOOHOO for blizzards. (no -_-) anyway, it took a LONNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG time, but Contours is officially completed. i get to now go back and change 'WIP' to COMPLETED. hehe.
so what do you guys think? happy ending is good right? :) did you guys scream and go like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO when i had that fake 'the end' when Draco walked away from Hermione? hehe i wouldn't do thattt. i'm not a big fan of sad endings. ): Hermione and Draco worked thinks out, Miranda is out of the picture and there's no one standing in between them anymore. :) this chapter was actually supposed to go a bit differently, but i decided against it.
LEAVE A REVIEW PLEASE.
even though i'm a super crappy updater (school makes me tired).