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Chapter 16: The Endearment
Her heart skipped a beat. She stood there, frozen in his arms, not quite trusting her hearing.
“What?” She pulled away from him.
Draco flushed immediately, regretting his confession he struggled to express for so long.
“I love you.” He mumbled quietly, taking a step back from her and looking in shame at the plush carpet.
Tears flooded her eyes, spilling over. She didn’t know why she found herself crying, maybe it was from exhaustion hitting her all at once from the trauma of moments before. However, she found her heart soaring, beating like a drum in her chest. Draco balled his fists, cursing loudly as he turned away from her.
How could he be so stupid? He had never told anyone that, and now, he had been rejected for it. It was the only phrase that could sum up what he felt for her and she pushed him away.
“No, Draco!” She objected, wrapping her arms around him, burying her head into the back of his sweater, “I love you, too.”
His shoulders slumped, he was tired, exhausted from the nights events. He couldn’t keep up with everything; it felt like it was all moving too fast. He turned to hug her tightly, grateful that she was in his arms, not stuck out in the cold corridor with Blaise.
The thought of him made him ready to kill. He had never been so angry before. Wasn’t it just weeks ago that he threatened him with Lord Voldemort? What made him think beyond Voldemort’s wrath?
He breathed deeply, trying to make the anger subside. He concentrated on the solid figure in his arms, breathing in the scent of her skin, feeling the tickle of her hair on his face. Nothing else mattered, she was here and she was safe.
“What happened?” He asked quietly, trying to convince her that he was calm enough to be told.
Ashley slumped in his shoulders, also exhausted from that night’s events. She pushed away from him, walking over to his bed, hitting it with a dull thud. Draco crawled in beside her, stroking her hair and looking into her eyes.
“I was waiting for you...” She started.
She had hardly began her story, but Draco immediately found that it was already taking every nerve to stay on that bed, to not jump up and find Blaise to finish the job. He held her hand tightly in his shaking one, concentrating on the feel of her skin.
“How did the others know to come after you?” She asked quietly, thinking it more than a miracle that the other teachers had come, knowing that Draco would’ve beaten Blaise to a pulp, or worse...
“I was finishing dinner in the Great Hall,” he answered, stroking her hair, “your Patronus came in, caused quite a stir. Of course, that alone wasn’t a good sign. I ran out when it cantered over to me. I’m sure they thought it definitely wasn’t good if I was involved.”
Ashley smiled weakly at him, closing her eyes, concentrating on the feel of his fingers in her hair.
“Why is your Patronus a unicorn?” He asked her, remembering the ghostly figure that alerted him of her situation. “Most people’s are real animals, like dogs or cats.”
“Is a unicorn not real?” Ashley asked him.
“Yes, but not typical, I guess.” He clarified.
Ashley shrugged, “I suppose since Veela’s are technically mythical creatures, that I would have a Patronus to match. We practiced it for years at Beauxbatons.”
He furrowed his brow, “Why? There are no dementors at that school.”
“Unlike Hogwarts,” Ashley started, “Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are taught all elements of magic. Had they not taught us, well, I don’t know what would have happened. I wouldn’t have been able to reach you.”
Draco kissed her forehead, thankful that other magical schools felt students should be taught more than Hogwarts felt it should teach theirs.
“Do you want to hear my theory?” Draco asked her quietly, his lips grazing the soft skin above her eye. Ashley nodded tiredly as he continued, “Unicorns are far more valuable than anything in the world and are one of the most beautiful creatures that exist. To harm one in sin.”
Ashley stared up at him, “I know that.”
“But that’s why yours is a unicorn.” Draco reiterated. “You are worth more than anything to me and only a monster would ever wish to harm you.”
Even though he had just told her he loved her, elaborating on how much she meant to him was starting to make him squirm.
Ashley kissed him quickly. Pushing him on his back, she raked her fingers through his hair, sliding them down to his chest. She was passionate and hippogriffs soared in his stomach, making him uneasy. But he didn’t want her to stop.
“How is it you’re taking this so much better than me?” He huffed as he pulled away from her.
Ashley smiled simply, “Because I know I have you to protect me.”
“Always.” Draco finished, stroking her nose with his knuckle.
“Always.” Ashley agreed.
He kissed her tenderly, sending extreme shivers down both their spines. Ashley pulled on his shoulders to bring him on top of her. He put his hands at the base her neck, pulling her hair from her shoulders and throwing it over the pillow. He kissed her neck and collarbone hungrily; shocked once again at the coolness of her skin. She tensed with pleasure under his touch, her breath catching in her throat.
Closing her eyes, she focused on his warm lips working up and down her neck, onto the dip of her throat and down her chest until the button above the top of her breasts stopped him. She grabbed folds of his shirt, trying to take it off of him, but his hand on hers stopped him.
“We shouldn’t.” He told her, his face shadowed from the dying embers of the fire. “Not tonight, anyways.”
To stop himself from doing something he had wished so desperately for nearly killed him. But he realized he couldn’t be selfish, not in this. He had to take into consideration that she was still traumatized, whether she wanted to admit it or not, and to force the act on her, even out of love, was wrong.
He was burning for her, even as he looked down into her eyes and waited for an answer. He almost wanted her to reject him, just to verify that she was reacting the way any other girl should.
But Ashley wasn’t any other girl and she never reacted the way others did.
Ashley smiled gently, “But I want you to.”
His heart tightened with nervousness and guilt.
“I-I shouldn’t.” Draco shook his head, pushing himself off of her. Ashley caught his wrist, picking her head off of her pillow to kiss him sweetly.
She was consenting and even initiating it, but guilt was starting to drown him with every passing second.
If only he had been there earlier. If only he had been in his room, to hear her screams…
“Don’t.” Ashley whispered against his lips. He didn’t know if she meant to stop blaming himself, or to not stop kissing her. Perhaps it was a mixture of the two. However brightly the question burned, he didn’t ask.
The girl he had lusted after at first sight and had grown to love ever since was allowing him to get close to her in the most intimate form. If he ever felt honored about anything, it was then.
Ashley gently stroked the hair on his temple, waiting for him to move. He kissed her gently, whispering against her lips, “Let me show you what love feels like, not the desire to hurt you.”
More tears pricked Ashley’s eyes in heartfelt emotion, a sob caught in her throat as Draco kissed the corner of her mouth, murmuring promises of protection and safety that she couldn’t quite make out. Thumbing her tears away, he smoothed out her crown of white hair, working his way back down to her neck again as he started to unbutton her shirt. His knees clasped the sides of her hips and upper thighs tighter in anticipation. Her heart was pounding furiously in her chest as she stared up at him. He lifted himself off of her, pushing up her uniform skirt to pull off her thigh high stockings. She shivered as his strong, warm hands grazed her soft skin. He flung them carelessly on the floor.
He was starting to get nervous. He looked at her, her skin glowing in the gentle fire light. She truly was the most beautiful girl he had seen and he knew that he would ever see. Her white-blond hair was splayed on the pillows, a coy smile on her face. His hands started to shake furiously as he fumbled with the buttons on her skirt.
“Draco.” She whispered, putting a soft hand on his, “If you’re uncomfortable…”
There was nothing in the world that he wanted more, than to be with her, to lay with her.
“I want you.” He stumbled, averting his gaze and focusing on the buttons.
She laid there, her heart pounding, sure that he could feel its racing beats thunder throughout her body as Draco unclasped the button, sliding the black skirt off her long legs. The light touch sent uncontrollable shivers through her as he trailed his fingertips from the base of her ankles all the way up her thighs.
He blushed at the sight of the soft pink knickers. He ran his hands over her thighs, touching the soft skin next to the edge of the lace. An overwhelming urge of ecstasy and hunger rushed through him, making him wince with an overload of emotion.
Working on her shirt was a new wave of nervousness. His hands grazed her breasts and he immediately apologized. Ashley remained silent, but reassuringly stroked the hair by his ear. Its calming affects soothed him at once, his hands regaining stability as he finally undid the last button.
His breath caught in his throat as he pulled back her shirt to reveal a matching bra. She took a large breath in nervousness, making her breasts swell, straining against the silky material. He looked at her face, but didn’t see any signs of gentle assurance in them. Her blue eyes sparkled with a wild hunger and all traces of fear or anxiety left him as she leaned up quickly to meet his lips.
Come on, he told himself, you’ve done this loads before. Any girl would die to be in her position right now.
But he didn’t want any girl, he wanted Ashley Delacour.
He tore at her bra, finally getting it unclasped. He threw it on the floor quicker than any piece he had removed thus far. Without thinking, his hands flew to them, cupping her as he thumbed them hungrily. Ashley sighed against his mouth, letting out a soft groan.
He tore off his clothes quickly; his bare chest against hers shooting a wave of the strongest ecstasy he had ever felt. He was so close, he didn’t know whether to proceed or wait. Everything he knew seemed to leave him. With Pansy, it was get in, get out. But with Ashley, he wanted to relish in it, he never wanted it to be over. The way her body conformed to his was unbelievable. He wanted her underneath him forever, stroking his hair and clawing at his back in a painfully pleasurable way.
Ashley clutched handfuls of the sheets, her eyes rolling in the back of her head. She bit her lip in pleasure, feeling his hands trail down her stomach, over her ribs, down her thighs and back up again. It was sinful, how good he made her feel. All memories of the hours pervious washed from her mind. All she could feel, all she could care about, was Draco’s love emitting from his touch.
She felt his lips crushing hers, kissing her with urgency. He licked her tongue and a new wave of pleasure hit her. She lost her hands in his hair, bringing him down on her and kissing him harder. She sighed as he moved over her as a sea moves over the shore. Within moments, Ashley had learned the rhythm of his contours, bringing herself to move with him, creating such pleasure that neither of them had known before.
“Draco.” She moaned. He let out a grunt, his name so sweet from her lips that he could hardly keep himself from shuddering. She felt Draco smile against her lips, anchoring himself as he grabbed at the curves of her hips.
She was sticky with a light film of perspiration when he pushed himself off her. His chest heaved with labored breath, his stomach muscles gleamed in a film of sweat. She smiled softly as she scooted over to him to kiss his cheek.
She propped herself on one elbow as she lightly stroked his sharp collarbones jetting from his shoulders, ending in sharp points near his arms. She looked to him, his gray eyes, although lacking color, were sparkling.
“I wish I would have waited.” Draco voiced quietly, reaching up to finger the soft lobe of her ear.
Ashley gave him a faint smile, “Don’t regret anything, because at one point she was exactly what you wanted.”
“Had I known you were coming...” He faltered.
“But you didn’t.” She told him with gentle reassurance, “You lived your life and I’ve lived mine. I can’t be mad at you, no matter how much I dislike her.”
Draco was lost in her gaze, wondering how she could be so wise, so forgiving, even though she wasn’t necessarily in the place to forgive him of being with Pansy.
“Was I…?” He trailed off.
She gave him a sad smile, “No. So we’re even.”
He nodded, feeling guilty that he wished he could have been her first, even if he hadn’t honored that policy himself.
“We have each other now,” she reassured him, “so don’t fret over what you did yesterday.”
Draco smiled at her, kissing her repeatedly on her lips. The longer he stayed with her, the deeper and deeper he fell. The tenderness she was showing him was beyond special. He had never seen her so gentle and supportive.
“But, I am curious…” She smiled playfully at him, “What’s the story with Pansy?”
“Don’t ruin the moment.” He told her, tugging gently on her hair.
“There will be no better moment,” Ashley argued gently, “than to know who else has slept here.”
Draco sneered in disgust at her horrifying, yet true, statement. He looked to Ashley to tell him it was alright, that he was fretting, but she didn’t. He could see the slight hurt in her blue eyes. He wished all the nights with Pansy away, but knew there was no use in doing so.
“Pansy…” He trailed off, not sure how to start. “I dunno, I’ve known her all my life. She was one of the few kids I got to be around. Back then, there wasn’t a wide selection of purebloods friends to pick from.”
“And?” Ashley prodded.
He shrugged, “She was there for convenience.”
She was silent, waiting for him to go on, as she would not accept that as an excuse.
He sighed heavily, turning to lie on his back, folding his hands underneath his head, “My parents never made a comment about it, but I was sure that they were going to make me marry her. So, I assumed that if we started acting like we were already there, then it would be easier when we actually were.”
Ashley dug her head deeper into the pillow, lost in thought.
“She was one of the few my mother could stand.” Draco added.
“She could stand Pansy?” Ashley wrinkled her nose, as if a putrid odor had filled the room, “The horror!”
Draco heard the crack of his smile in the dark, “Mother knew she cared for me, even though it wasn’t mutual. Maybe that was enough for her: to know her son was loved. The thought of it makes me sick now. She’s too superficial, too materialistic. Nothing of substance ever seems to bother her.”
There was silence for a while and Draco was wondering what she was thinking. He was hoping she wasn’t giving too much thought to his careless handling of Pansy.
“I love you.” He told her, hoping that the phrase would reassure her that he could never discard or think of her in regards similar to Pansy, that there was nothing she could ever do to instill such hostility and strong dislike.
“I know you do.” She smiled.
He pulled her into his arms; the wafting of vanilla filled his nose. It was an extraordinary thought to him, that he would have been able to hold anyone but Pansy; a sense of such wrongness, such disgust that was always muted by parched desperation, could be replaced with a feeling that there had never been anyone else created to fit those arms than the young Veela who slipped into slumber against the steady beating of his heart.
He had just discovered it seventeen years late.
It was then that he decided, as he closed his eyes, that it was she he wanted to be with, until death took him from her.