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Chapter 4: The Books
Hermione woke the next morning, her head fuzzy with trying to decipher what had been real and what had been dream…
She turned over on the bed, hoping to fall back asleep, when she noticed the clock next to the bed read 10:00. She jolted upright, as she wasn’t one to waste away the day, even when there was nothing in the day to do. She was surprised she had slept as long as she had, since most nights she only slept until about 2-3 in the morning (yay nightmares).
She got out of bed shakily, and made her way to the bathroom. She decided on a shower this morning because she was afraid she would fall asleep in the tub. She selected her usual jasmine scented washes, and the smell zinged through her senses, waking her up quickly. She showered quickly, and put a robe on, her hair dripping down her back.
She grabbed clothes out of the wardrobe, and hastily threw them on without really looking at them. She hesitated then, realizing that she shouldn’t be in a rush; the faster she went, the sooner she would see Malfoy. She remembered her reunion with Harry and Ginny, and then her fight with the latter. She almost had enough in her to care; almost. They just didn’t understand…Ginny, with her red hair and freckled face, and Harry with his kind eyes that had shared so many memories, comforting her when Ron had dated Lavender, and again when he had left them on their hunt for the horcruxes. Everything about them from their faces to their scents only reminded her of him. She shook this away, knowing it was better for all of them if she didn’t apologize. They had lives to live, and she didn’t. She would only be a dead weight. So then, why did Malfoy not want her to leave? Again, she almost had enough in her to care about this; almost.
She quietly unlocked the door, and padded down stairs on nearly silent feet. She heard noises coming from the kitchen, so she decided that she might as well eat something. She walked through the doorway, and saw that Draco was standing at the stove wearing nothing but silk lounging pajamas. His toned muscles moved gracefully under his bronzed skin, and a chill stole down her spine as she watched him. She quietly took a seat at the table, which was against the wall farthest from the stove and just watched him. She heard something then, and strained to pick up on it. When she realized what it was, she almost fell out of her chair; Draco was singing! And his voice…it was so beautiful she couldn’t even describe it. It flowed out of him, not too deep, but not high either. She tilted her head and just listened to the sound, not really hearing what it was he was singing. Then, she recognized it as a lullaby that she had heard before, but couldn’t place where. All of a sudden, she felt safe and warm, and without realizing what she was doing, she had moved closer to him so she could hear him better. He was just finishing the last line, and all Hermione caught were the words, “I love you.”
She didn’t realize she was right next to him until he stopped singing and turned around.
“AHHH!!!!!” He shouted, and Hermione was broken from her reverie and fell to the ground, landing hard on her bottom. Draco had jumped about a foot in the air, and at least as far backwards, only just barely keeping his balance. Both their hearts were racing, their veins pumping with adrenalin.
“I-I’m sorry. I-I didn’t mean t-to startle you. I-you-I was just listening to you singing and I-I don’t remember walking over here. I’m so sorry!” Hermione stuttered. She seemed to do that a lot around this blonde. They both were breathing quickly, trying to calm their speeding hearts.
“No no, it’s fine. I just didn’t hear you come in! Are you alright?” He asked, with concern in his eyes. He reached his hand out, offering it to her to help her up off the floor. She accepted it with as much grace as possible, and the warmth of his hand made her shiver.
To shake off this feeling, Hermione asked him, “so what were you singing?”
He smiled in remembrance. “Just a song from a book I really like. It has the ability to make me happy and sad at the same time, and that’s my favorite kind.” Then the smile was directed at her, and she couldn’t help but smile back. “I could let you borrow it sometime if you’d like? It is really good, even though it is fantasy.” And then her smile was gone.
“I’m sure it’s a wonderful story, but I don’t really read.”
He gave her a look she couldn’t decipher, and said, well, maybe you should start. This book is great. The muggle author is absolutely fantastic. And maybe, once you’ve read it, we could go see the movie they made out of it! I heard it’s really good.”
To make Draco happy (and to leave her alone) she agreed with him, though not as enthusiastically as he would have liked, but he wasn’t being picky. “Here, I’ve made some brunch. You eat something, and I will go get that book for you, okay?” Hermione nodded, and he said “alright, I’ll be right back. Eat!” and with that, he rushed out of the kitchen as if it were on fire.
Hermione fiddled with the eggs that were laid out, poking them a bit, pouring ketchup on them, poking them some more, eating a bite, adding some salt and pepper, anything to keep from thinking about her encounter with the Potters. Draco came crashing back downstairs, and, though the book was in his hands, he had yet to put a shirt on. She rolled her eyes, and picked a bit more at her eggs.
“Here ya go! Now make sure you take special care of it. I’ve had it signed by the author, and it’s first edition!” Hermione didn’t have the heart to tell him that fantasy books didn’t have editions, so she instead looked at the book. It was black, and had a bird on it. She set it down carefully, and noticed it’s perfect condition. Draco looked at her and smiled, and with his goofy grin (not his trademark smirk) and his hair all a mess and hanging in his silver eyes, and his shirtless chest, Hermione found herself staring at him, and not being able to look away. Once he saw the look in her eyes, his smile quickly disappeared, and his face gained a look of serious intensity that made it even more impossible to look away.
The phone started ringing, breaking Hermione out of the mad, scary staring contest she was having, and she quickly came to her senses, grabbed the book, and ran up to her room. She didn’t come out for the rest of the day. She read the book and cried multiple times about the main characters losses, the strength she showed, and the lengths she went to to keep herself and her family and friends alive. About the time she was finishing it, wiping away her tears about the unfairness of it all, Draco knocked on the door. She stiffened, and waited a moment. He didn’t knock again. She got up quietly, and opened the door, expecting him to be standing there. Instead, she was greeted with an empty hallway.
Right in front of the door laid two books, with the same bird as the one on her black book, but these were red and blue. The red one had a sticky note on it saying “read this one next.” She assumed they were the sequels, and she was almost happy about it.
Hermione didn’t sleep that night, and read all through it and well into the next day, engrossed in the fantasy of the books. More tears than she thought possible to hold were shed, and there were also times of giggling, and times of “oh my goodness!” and most importantly, happiness; Heart-bursting, gut-wrenching, mind-blowing happiness. These books had done something for her. If this girl could do all of these, deal with all of these blows, all of these losses, and still fight, still try to do what was right and not just survive but to actually truly live, then why couldn’t Hermione? She didn’t care that it was fantasy, that it wasn’t real. It was real to her.
After she finished the last book, she was exhausted, but her mind wouldn’t shut off. She lay in bed, thinking about the world she had immersed herself in and how it affected her, and what she was going to do about the dead life she was living. Because honestly, what was the point in surviving if you don’t live? Hermione had always been good at surviving, like the main character, but she wasted away her life. She only lived in the most superficial way, breathing, eating, sleeping.
Eventually, around 2 or 3 in the morning, she fell asleep, dreaming of meadows and willows, and song birds and daisies. And a lullaby sung in Draco’s voice, that she now knew every word to.
Around 2 in the afternoon the next day, Hermione woke up. She was still sleepy, and wanted to return to her dream world. The world that made everything right and where she was safe. She stretched, and saw that her hair was absolutely hopeless, as usual. She went into the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. She used her usual jasmine scented washes, but she was determined to start the day fresh and alive and she was going to try to live. It would be slow going, but at least it was a start.
She stepped out of the shower and started to work on her hair. It had always been a tangled mess, but had become slightly more manageable as she had gotten older. She saw that there were many products on the counter, and she looked for one that might help with frizz. The only one she found was a bottle of Sleek-Eze and she almost dropped the bottle. She tried not to remember the night of the Yule Ball, and she almost succeeded. She fell to the floor, and thought about the fight she had had with Ron that night. Oh all the wasted moments…Why hadn’t she just asked him? She started to cry, and she waited patiently to cry herself out.
When she was done, she resolutely grabbed the bottle and poured a large portion of it into her hands and started sleeking back her hair. Once it was smooth, she found a curling iron under the sink and plugged it in. If she was going to do this, she might as well go all out.
This was the part she was dreading however; looking at herself in the mirror. She took deep, even breathes, and finally looked up. Her hair looked really good, but she had bags under her eyes, which were a little livelier than she had expected. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. With the hard part done, she started expertly curling her hair, making ringlets of the brown mess. When she was finished, she put on concealer under her eyes, some brown eyeliner and mascara, and then some violet eyeshadow. By the time she was finished, she didn’t recognize herself. She smirked at her appearance, and set out to find the perfect outfit.
When she found what she was looking for, she went down to surprise Draco, and ask him to take her to see that movie.
It was about 4 pm and Draco was sitting around in the living room, the TV was on a muggle news station, but he wasn’t paying much attention to it. He was thinking about Hermione. He hoped the books had had the same effect on her as they had on him. Well, at least you know she was reading them, he thought to himself smugly, remembering this morning when he saw that they were not in front of the door anymore. He had started daydreaming, hoping she would come down at least for dinner since he had needed to bring her food the past two days. He reached over for his glass, and started taking a sip from it when she walked into the room. Everything that he had just put into his mouth was now on his lap or the floor, and he couldn’t stop staring at her. She was so breath-takingly beautiful it actually hurt. She had done her hair, her make-up, and she had on a killer dress. It was green, low-cut with no back, a silver band under the bodice, and ended in a frilly little fabric around her knees. She smirked at him.
“So, you want to go see that movie?” He nearly fainted.
Being the Malfoy that he was though, he composed himself and said, “only if you let me take you out to dinner too. You look too good not to be shown off. And what better place to be shown off than on my arm at a fancy restaurant?” He teased her. She groaned.
“Merlin, you are still an arrogant little git aren’t you?” She rolled her eyes at him.
“Love, there’s no need to call me Merlin. Draco will do just fine.” He winked at her, and then chuckled at his lame joke. His face got serious all of a sudden however. “So, what’s with the new attitude?”
She looked uncomfortable, but eventually said, “Well, it was those books you lent me really. It just seemed like her life was so unfair, but she was still strong through it all.” She took a deep breath. “I’m not ready for everything all at once. The main thing I learned was that sometimes you are weak, and that’s okay. But you can’t let that be the driving factor in your life. I’ve always been a survivor Draco, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been alive. Those books taught me that there’s no point in surviving if you can’t enjoy what you fight so hard for.” She shrugged, and moved to walk out of the living room, but Draco stopped her. He caught her by the arm and kissed her right on the lips.
She was so shocked she didn’t do anything for a minute. Then, she came to her senses and smacked him in the face. He stumbled backwards, holding his cheek. “What the bloody hell was that for?” He demanded.
“You first! What was that kiss for? What the Hell Malfoy??” She was blushing, partially because he had kissed her, but mainly because she had enjoyed it.
He rubbed his cheek, threw his hands up in the air and said, “nothing, alright? Merlin…I’ll just go get changed and we can go watch that bloody movie…” He seemed very upset, but Hermione couldn’t figure out why. She sighed, and wrapped the silver shawl around her shoulders. She had meant to shock him, but not the point of him kissing her! And where had that even come from? Was he desperate for anything even remotely magical that he would settle for her? She shook these thoughts from her mind because she didn’t want anything else to ruin this night. She took a deep breath, and soon Draco was walking down the stairs in a black, tailored suit with a silver shirt and green tie. The suit had been embroidered with a snake at the breast pocket in silver, and Hermione couldn’t help but gasp over how beautiful he looked. Then, she saw that he had sleeked back his hair, and she frowned. She liked it better when it was hanging in front of his face.
He must have noticed, because he stopped at a mirror that was hanging in the foyer and looked to see if something was out of place. He shrugged, finding nothing wrong, and turned back to her. “So? What do you think?” He did a twirl. “Am I presentable enough to be seen with you, Granger?”
She looked him over with a fake serious look on her face. “Eh, it will just have to do.” Hermione’s face cracked into a grin, and he smiled back at her. There was an unspoken agreement to forget about the kiss, at least for tonight. Draco could tell it had upset her (the red mark on his cheek helped), and he didn’t want to ruin any progress they might be making. She was just completely confused about the whole thing, so was more than happy to let it go. He offered her his arm, and she accepted it graciously. They walked out of his flat, down the elevators, and out into the busy street. A black limo pulled up next to them, and Draco opened the door to Hermione. She raised an eyebrow, but got in, and he followed with a smirk. “What? Didn’t you get the memo that we were going all out tonight?”
She smiled, because she had been thinking the same thing earlier that evening. After this she sat back and got comfortable as she could to enjoy the ride and to embrace whatever the night might hold.
AN: Points to whoever can tell me what books she read! You will become my favorite fan(s), and I will dedicate the rest of this story to you! <3 Stay tuned for the next chapter: The Night Holds Many Secrets ;)