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Chapter 22: Perfection
I rarely ever imagined what my future would look like when a man was in the picture. I had never thought about what I colors I wanted at my wedding, what my children would look like or the type of house I wanted to grow old in. Most of all, I had never anticipated what my relationship would consist of. Specifically, the relationship I wanted to be in for the remainder of my days.
Suddenly, it was all there: the answers I had always failed to think about because I was too busy living in the moment. Whenever I was unsure of the details my future held, all I had to do was make eye contact with Draco and they would be looking right back at me. He was my day and my night, my present and my future.
Every single moment we had was spent together in that dreary little home, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Somehow, the poor condition of that house became a miniscule detail in our lives. I fell asleep and woke up in his arms beneath the covers of that shabby, uncomfortable bed, but I could have been sleeping on a cloud and wouldn’t have known the difference. The kitchen table was rotten and wobbly, so we opted to eat our meals on the old sofa instead. It’s padding was worn, and I could feel the springs pinching against my legs as I ate, but I was too busy looking at Draco to care. The material things simply didn’t matter to us. We made the best of our time in that tattered, abandoned home, and what we had was absolute perfection.
“Can you grab the plates for me?” I asked him from stove. The chicken in the frying pan was finally done, the rich broth bubbling happily around the two pieces of meat. I checked a pot on the burner that was cooking some rice and turned it off and removed the lid.
After a few days of eating almost nothing, Draco had managed to break into the small market down the road to get enough food and supplies for the week. He made sure to leave behind some sort of exchange to make up for the goods he had taken. Although he hadn’t really cared to take that extra step, I demanded it out of guilt. He closed the fridge and reached into one of the broken cabinets for some cheap plastic plates. He handed them to me.
“I’m so excited for this,” Draco said brightly as I took the plates from him. I had to agree; it was the freshest meal we had had in a long time. I turned away from him to spoon some chicken and rice onto one of them. The steam hit my face, forcing me to tilt my head away momentarily before returning to the task at hand. As I worked, he filled some small cups with water.
“Me too. I must say, I think I did a good job,” I responded with self-admiration. I placed the full plate onto the counter beside me before picking up the other one and filling it as well. It had been difficult at first not using magic to cook (or for anything else for that matter), but I had since gotten used to it. My beautiful wand now lay neglected and depressed in the drawer of the night table beside our bed. We had mutually decided that it wasn’t worth the risk, even though the Trace had previously been removed from our wands. At the stove, Draco came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. I felt his body heat warm my back as I grabbed the second plate and filled it.
“Hey, I helped, too! I deserve at least partial credit,” he retorted before kissing me on the nape of my neck below my ear. I laughed and rolled my eyes.
“I suppose so,” I said, turning around and handing him the full plates. I got some forks from the drawer to my left and followed him into the living room, where we ate all of our meals. He sat on the couch first and then handed me one of the plates. I followed, sitting carefully and crossing my legs before taking a bite.
“Its delicious,” he said after swallowing. He leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek while I was mid-chew.
“You have food on your lips!” I said while retreating from him, feeling the stickiness on my cheek from where he had kissed me. I tried to wipe it away with the back of my hand. He let out a chuckle; as if he had kissed me intentionally just to irritate me.
Dinner continued as such; we talked quietly as we ate our food. He made me laugh to the point where I feared I was going to choke, and I would sit there and kiss him to distract him from his meal. It was in these moments that we were happiest; appreciating each other’s company without any outside forces interfering. I could kiss him without thinking twice and touch him without worrying about who was watching. I had already gathered some of the greatest memories spent together in our home.
In the time we had spent in the small house, Draco and I had fallen into a routine, which was something that made me feel more comfortable and eased my stress about what was going on. We would wake up mid-morning, enjoying the freedom of sleeping in a few extra hours. He and I would go to the kitchen to fix breakfast, which typically consisted of tea and either biscuits or crackers. All of our meals were situated on that sad excuse for a couch, even when we were consuming treacherously hot beverages. It had become a tradition, so it was worth the risk of spilling tea on each other and ourselves.
Preparing meals were really the only times we had anything specific to do, so the remainder of our hours consisted of simple things; we talked, kissed, snuggled, and mostly spent our time as close together as physically possible. For so long, we had to hide ourselves around other people, and we took advantage of finally being able to be alone together. I simply couldn’t get enough of Draco. Every time I looked at him, my eyes would trace the outline of his pout, and the only thing I could focus on was pressing my lips to his. When he would meet me half way, sometimes, he would bring his lips to me so tenderly that my heart would start racing and I could feel warmth spreading across my chest. The only kiss that can augment a heartbeat more than a quick, forceful one would be a kiss that is soft, slow and incredibly passionate. It induces quivering and shivers. It is one that leaves me feeling utterly powerless in the most quietly intense of moments.
After we had both finished eating dinner, I got off of the couch to bring the empty dish to the sink. Draco handed his to me with an appreciative smile on his face. I laughed and shook my head.
“Get up! I haven’t forgotten that it’s your turn to clean tonight.”
Draco and I, both being equally stubborn individuals, could never decide on who would clean up after meals, so we decided to switch off days. This rarely ever worked, which was why he scoffed and shook his head at me.
“Please, I’m not falling for that again because it never happens. We are both cleaning,” he responded, getting up from his spot on the couch and following me into the kitchen.
Since Draco worried that our wands were traceable, he refused to use them for any instances that were not life threatening. Unfortunately, this caused a huge problem when we realized that none of the faucets in the house were working. We got into an argument; I was demanding that we use our wands, knowing that the Trace had been taken off of mine already, but Draco stood his ground. Luckily, he had searched behind the house and found the switch to turn on the water pump. Although the liquid was murky at first, it cleared up and we had a good amount of water to use daily.
I scraped the leftover food into the trash bin and then turned the faucet on a low setting to start washing the dishes. Fortunately, the only dirty ones were the two dishes we had just eaten off of. Draco followed behind me with the cups. I had forgotten about those.
“Here. I wash, you dry, okay?” he said to me. I raised my eyebrow at him suspiciously.
"You never want to wash,” I stated, my suspicions growing substantially when he put his hands on my hips to push me to the right and handed me a dish towel, all with a smile on his face.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” he said, laughing softly as he worked a soapy sponge in small circles on the first plate. His eyes flicked to mine.
“You never want to wash,” I repeated matter-of-factly, unable to maintain the skeptical look on my face without smiling back at him. He always used that power over me: when he smiled, I smiled. I couldn’t help myself.
“I just felt like washing tonight! It’s not a big deal,” he responded with another quiet chuckle. His gray eyes pierced me, even with the simplest of looks. I frequently wondered if my brown eyes had the same effect on him.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Fine,” I answered as he handed me the first plate. I fell quiet, wiping it off before setting it on the counter beside me.
We began a sort of robotic routine, him washing the plate, handing it to me so I could dry it and then put on the counter. He washed the other plate, the utensils and the cups quickly, the rhythmic noise soothing me as we made small conversation about our plans after the chores.
It was rather humorous: us making plans in the house. Our options were so limited and relied so heavily on each other that we essentially did the same thing whenever we had free time. The conversation happened anyways, always in a lighthearted, ironic tone that I enjoyed. It was one of the many ways he made me laugh.
I set down the last item that needed to be washed and looked up at him, tossing the towel beside the clean dishes. “That wasn’t so bad,” I smiled at him, placing my hands on my hips and taking a step towards him.
“No it wasn’t at all,” Draco returned, flicking his fingers under the running water and watching the projections the droplets made before hitting the wall of the sink. I watched his hands move methodically, changing the pattern of the splashes against the metal over and over again.
“Easily entertained, are we?” I observed jokingly. He looked up at me briefly and smiled before looking back at the faucet.
“So would you agree that we do the same thing every day, right?” he said, with that same ironic tone he used earlier. I watched him as he offered both of his hands to the faucet, cupping them together and letting them fill with the liquid.
I laughed at his comment. “Of course I do. But what other option is there? Plus, I don’t mind it,” I replied. He let his hands fill to the point where they were overflowing, and then he would part them at the pinky, letting the water drop with a loud thud. I took another step towards him.
“Oh, I don’t mind it either, trust me,” he said, looking over at me sincerely, and then he shrugged, “but don’t you think we should mix it up a little?”
I could hear the humor in his voice, but along with that, I sensed a cunning plan. My suspicions came back, and I knew he was up to something.
“Draco, what are you going to do?” I questioned him, taking a step back and letting out a nervous laugh. I watched him as he cupped his hands and allowed them to overflow, this time not letting the water escape his palms.
“I have a really good idea,” he said, laughing at my wary reaction.
The next thing I knew, there was water flying directly at me. It was such a surprise that all I managed to do was throw up my hands in a sad attempt to deflect the water before it hit me. I screamed as I hit my face neck and clothes, and for a moment I looked up at him and stood dumbfounded. When he burst out laughing, I snapped back into focus. He seemed to have forgotten who he was messing with.
For a moment, he seemed regretful, as if he was afraid he had angered me. His face relaxed when I smiled at him.
“How dare you,” I said slowly, smiling devilishly at him as he began to fill his hands with water again.
I lurched towards the sink, picking up one of the cups on the counter in the process. I sacrificed my dry clothes for a better weapon as he chucked more water at me. I screamed again, feeling the water drip from my chin and hair as he sprinted away, laughing triumphantly.
I placed the cup under the running water, letting it fill completely before I chased after him. I found him in the living room using the sofa as a barrier between the two of us. When he bounded one way, I followed in the same direction, trying to get a good angle to throw the water at him. In the heat of the moment, I didn’t care what I got wet around the house.
“Come and get me,” Draco taunted, still completely dry. I stood there sopping wet and eager for revenge. He squeezed his way out of our little face-off and ran down the hallway back towards the kitchen, and I immediately sprinted after him, some of the water escaping from the cup in my hand.
While we were in the hallway by the bedroom, I decided that I was close enough to make an accurate shot, and I threw the water at him. Draco had turned slightly to see where I was, only to be met by a spray of water. It hit him right on the shoulder and splashed into his face and all over the floor. I stopped running, bending forward to laugh as he wiped the water from his eyes.
“Gotcha!” I said victoriously.
Draco recovered quickly and continued running towards the kitchen to get more water. I bounded after him, leaping over the puddle so I wouldn’t slip. He turned on the faucet and threw water at me as I approached. I let out a yelp and pushed him away from the sink, the front of my hair now completely soaked. I filled up my cup as he ran away, still laughing. I was right behind him as he circled the house, running to the living area and down the hall towards the bedroom. The second time he did this, instead of following him, I doubled back to meet him around the corner with the intention of surprising him.
Draco had been running so fast that he didn’t hear me coming, so when I ran out of the kitchen and was face to face with him, he was so surprised that he let out the smallest of yells. Everything after that seemed to happen in one quick instant. I threw the water at him, directly in his face, so that he had to close his eyes. Because of that, he didn’t see the puddle on the floor from when I first threw water at him. He began to slip, and because of our proximity, the only thing that he could grasp on to was me.
I watched in slow motion as his feet slid in between mine and he grasped onto my upper arms for support. This caught me off guard, and before I knew it, I was falling down with him. We landed on the floor in one loud thud. I gasped loudly as we came to a stop, both breathing heavy from running around. We were both dripping wet, surrounded by a pool of water.
For a moment, we lay there silently, staring at each other. He was on his back, splayed out with me straddling him. Draco was the first one to say something.
“Ouch,” he muttered through sudden, uncontrollable laughter. I laughed right along with him.
“Did you have to pull me down with you?” I said, smiling down at him and wiping the hair out of my face, tucking some of the wet strands behind my ear.
“Did you have to scare me like that? Bloody hell,” he said, water still dripping from his face. I felt victorious, but decided not to rub it in his face.
“I call it my secret attack,” I replied, leaning down to kiss him softly on the lips, sensing his laughter slow and turn to seriousness under the touch of my lips.
When we parted, he looked up at me, our eyes connecting as he pushed some of the dangling hair out of our way.
“You haven’t seen my secret attack,” he said, a crooked smile forming on his lips. He was half joking, but also somewhat serious.
I laughed quietly. “I am sure I have at some point,” I said in response. My smile faded as his eyes locked with mine and he pulled me toward him, forcing me to press my lips to his again.
Draco was doing it; that slow, tender kiss that made my hair stand on end. I could feel a sweat breaking out on the back of my neck, even in that short time he kissed me. Before I knew it, I had to pull away for air.
“I’ve seen that one before,” I whispered, my face only centimeters from his. He didn’t respond; he only pulled me back in, sending my body on another sensory rollercoaster. I felt his hands cupping the back of my head, and then they slid down my back and rested on my hips.
As he kissed me, I felt as his fingers played with the hemline of my tank top, and then dangerously creep underneath the fabric to my skin. When he felt I wouldn’t pull away from him, he slowly began to press his palms to my hips, forcing the shirt to ride up and giving him more space to explore. I shivered under the touch of his cold hands, feeling them go slowly up my back until my shirt was pushed up to the space between my breasts and belly button. At that point, we both pulled away, aware of what was unfolding in the dark hallway.
“Is that your secret attack?” I whispered breathlessly. He kissed me once more before sitting up on the ground, unable to keep his eyes from flicking to the bareness of my stomach. I could sense his desire. He was at a loss for words again, and somehow stood up while holding me, my arms dangling around his neck and my thighs straddling his hips. His eyes seared into mine and my heart raced with nervousness and excitement.
He kissed me as we walked into the bedroom, helping me peel off my top and allowing me to toss it on the floor beside the bed. We had done this many nights before, making our way to the bed just to be close, but tonight something was different. Tonight there was a spark setting off within me with no sign of ever fading away. I wanted him more than I ever had before.
He fell on top of me as my back hit the comforter; immediately, I sunk an inch from the combination of our weights. I watched him take in the bareness of my body, sensing caution as his hand hovered over the curves of my chest. I wanted him to know that it was okay, so I arched my back, allowing our skin to connect. He made eye contact with me, only briefly, before taking in every inch of my bare torso, so much so that I blushed and pulled him towards me for a kiss.
The combination of our water-laden clothing and the new sensations I was feeling cause goose bumps to rise all over my arms and neck as he ran his hands up and down my sides, still keeping his lips on mine. I wrapped my arms around him to his back, slowly lifting his t-shirt and pulling it off of him before dropping it next to my tank top on the ground.
I was breathless as I analyzed the toned curves of his shoulders, chest and abdomen, running my hands over him. I wanted so many things in that moment; I wanted his lips on mine, I wanted to continue staring at him and touching him. I wanted to stop and soak everything in and I wanted to discover more. He kissed me from the nape of my neck, down between my breasts, and all the way to my belly button, making me even crazier than before.
We lay there in the fading light silently and tenderly undressing each other, going where we had never gone before and where we never thought we’d be. Feeling his entire body finally press against mine was so overwhelming that I couldn’t seem to contain the moans that escaped in between my quickening breaths. My toes curled as I wrapped my arms around him and felt him closer to me than I had ever felt before.
Everything about that night was amazingly perfect, from the way the warm fading, light hit his face to how softly he kissed me after we had retreated to the covers before falling asleep. I rested in the nook of his arm, drifting off safely in his arms. In that moment, I had never felt more certain that I never wanted to let him go.
We were eating dinner in our usual spot. We were laughing and kissing in between chews. We were happy.
“I love you,” I said to him.
“I love you, too” he responded. I ran my fingers through his hair and rubbed his cheek with my hand as he said the words.
“I want to live like this for the rest of my life. I want to be with you,” I admitted, unable to control my smile.
He leaned in close to me, his grey eyes reaching deep within me. “Listen, Hermione. When this whole situation goes away, we will get out of here. We will start our lives together. I won’t let you out of my sight. Because I don’t want to go one day without you by my side,” Draco said. He kissed me slowly on the forehead as I responded in agreement.
“I want you now and always,” I whispered.
“Forever,” he said.
“Forever,” I repeated.
He pulled away from me, and when I looked past him briefly, I was blinded by a light. Harry. Harry appeared right behind Draco, his face calm with underlying tones of nervousness. As I slowly looked around, another person appeared, forming a large circle around us on the couch. First it was my friends: Ron, Neville, Ginny, Fred, George and more. Then, I saw McGonagall, Dumbledore and Raglow. Draco’s parents. Death Eaters.
My heart was screaming that it was impossible, but my head knew that we had been found. We had been discovered, and our perfect little hidden bubble had been broken. They started walking slowly towards us, closing the circle, never blinking.
Before I could scream, I woke up. I was sweating, though my body was shivering. Draco had drifted to the other side of the bed, and though it was only a few feet away, I felt as though the distance stretched on for miles.
I found him in the darkness, pressing my chest to his back and wrapping my arms around him for warmth. Though I stopped shivering, my body was still numb from the dream.
So maybe we weren’t living in perfection. I would sometimes lay awake at night thinking about what might be going on within the walls of Hogwarts, the questions frequent and endless. Often they were too complicated to come up with a potential answer. It was in the dark, quiet hours, without being under Draco’s gaze, that I faced what we had left unfinished outside the walls of the house. I was haunted by what I couldn’t do and what I was afraid to know. The night time was when reality would set in, the darkness smothering me – catching me- in the perfect lie that I was living.
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