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A Man Barely Breathing by Dark Whisper
Format: Short story
Chapter 1: Malfoy vs. Malfoy - A File for Divorcement
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“A Man Barely Breathing”
Written for crestwood’s… "The Eminem Challenge."
"You ever love somebody so much… you can barely breathe when you’re with them?"
~ Marshall Mathers… aka EMINEM from Love the Way You Lie
That’s how I felt about my wife. She always did have that effect on me, taking my breath away, even now… on the very date we are to be Divorced.
It pains me to say the word.
Ours was always a love and hate relationship. And right now, I am loving her to death… and hating what she is doing to us.
I told her from the beginning that I wouldn’t stop her from doing anything that she wanted. And I meant that.
And now, Hermione is leaving me and I only blame myself.
The reason is insanely stupid. She is leaving me because of my money.
Most women would be clinging to me because of it, but not her. That’s why I fell in love with her in the first place. She wasn’t like every other woman.
She would never marry someone because they had money. No, instead she would leave them because of it.
Everyone in the magical world knew that my family had always had money. It was well documented in the Daily Prophet. Headlines would report on ‘Malfoy’s Daily Profit.’
It was true. Wealth had been passed down through the generations and we always managed to add to it and build it up to what it is today… a ridiculous amount of money.
I had a problem with it, though. I wanted to make my own, separate from the Malfoy Family Trust.
I was accused of being a spoiled rich playboy, undeserving of my money, status, and lifestyle ever since I was born. And I wanted to change that. Not really for the world to think differently, but for myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could earn my way through life and not just skate through it.
I know it sounds stupid, especially now that I’m finally admitting it. But the higher the amount I had on my personal Gringotts Bank statement, the better I felt about myself.
Making my own net worth was directly connected to my self-worth.
After my first million earned, I decided on a secret goal… one that I told no one about, not even her.
For I, Draco Malfoy, was an ambitious fool. I wanted to become the youngest billionaire in the history of the magical world.
And I was well on my way to reaching it when she left and filed for divorce.
It wasn’t because I spent too much time working late or that I went on extensive business trips. I made sure to balance my time with her very carefully.
But I had crossed certain lines of business ethics. All legal of course, but my business dealings sometimes put good hard-working people out of work... sometimes an unfortunate consequence in the business world.
She told me of things that would happen to her as she went to Diagon Alley or the Leaky Cauldron to meet up with friends.
People that had loved her for who she was; being part of the ‘Golden Trio’… had now turned against her. They would say, “The Malfoys don’t need a Dark Lord to destroy lives. They only need to take people’s jobs and their livelihoods to destroy entire families.”
Hermione was horrified. She wanted to tell them that she would make it right… that somehow she would help them. But she couldn’t make that promise.
And she grew ashamed on such a level that she couldn’t bear to look at me anymore. At least, look at me with love and adoration as she used to.
No, instead she was ashamed, ashamed of our money, ashamed of being a Malfoy… and especially ashamed of me, her husband.
It had started as an argument, which we had plenty of those. It was our way of life. Argue, have fun making up, argue about something else.
But one day it all changed. We stopped having fun making up. We just stopped making up altogether… until it was only arguing.
We argued so much that even a conversation about the weather would somehow end up in a fight. And I didn’t want that. Eventually, I just stopped talking for fear of saying the wrong thing.
And she did the same.
If anyone knows me at all, they would know that I could go weeks without speaking to anyone. I had no problem with it.
But Hermione not having anything to say was… well… for the lack of a better word…scary. Like she’d become someone opposite of who she really was.
In hindsight... not arguing, not talking was the worst thing that happened to our marriage. Because shortly after we stopped speaking, we stopped touching.
When we were in bed, I would try to run my fingers across her arm, but she would only pull away.
That’s when her effect on me was most obvious.
I would lie in bed next to her, loving her so much, that being so close to her and not be able to touch her… I could barely breathe, knowing full well she would reject me if I made any attempt at intimacy.
I was afraid that if I touched her or got too close, she would leave and sleep in one of the many guest rooms. I couldn’t bear the thought of her not sleeping in the same bed with me. I couldn’t. So I didn’t dare touch her. I would just lie there, barely breathing.
There were days that I would lie with her wishing, begging, screaming at her in my head for her to touch me… even if accidentally. I would’ve taken an accidental brushing of her hand to mine, but there was nothing.
The final straw came when the Daily Prophet linked yet another store closing to me because of a business deal that I had been involved with a year earlier. I didn’t know it was going to happen. How could I? The deal happened a year before. There was nothing I could’ve done, short of buying the place to keep it open, which I didn’t.
After that, she stopped having dinner with me. That’s when I finally realized that I had truly lost her.
She became too ashamed to eat with me.
At first I waited. The dinner was on the table, but she didn’t show. It all grew cold as I waited. The grand table sat twenty. I felt ridiculous being the only soul sitting at it.
After awhile, I was beginning to think that maybe something bad had happened to her. I just sat there, waiting. And just as I was about to call Potter to help me find her, that’s when she finally showed up.
I heard her heels clicking on the marble floor and I was happy for a moment. But the happiness quickly turned to hurt as she walked right passed the dining room and proceeded directly to the stairs… without so much as a glance at me.
After a week of not having dinner with me, she did as I had feared and began sleeping in a guest room.
What could I do about it? I couldn’t force her to sleep with me.
One night, I went to her new room, desperately missing her. When I walked in, she was brushing her hair as she sat on the bed.
“What do you want?” she asked curtly.
I was surprised she spoke to me at all.
I wanted to tell her exactly what I wanted.
I wanted her stop this madness, come to our marriage bed, and let me make love to her.
But being the insane coward that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to say any of it.
Instead, I could only manage one sentence as she was taking my breath away yet again… seeing her wearing the black silk pajama top that I gave her two wedding anniversaries ago. It fit her perfectly as it hung loosely from her shoulders and dropped to mid-thigh.
She had put it on for me that same night and it was my pleasure in the middle of it to slip it off of her.
“I just wanted to know… if you needed anything.” Like maybe… me, I thought. Did she need me like I needed her?
“No. I don’t,” she answered blankly as she continued her brushing.
I managed to nod my head at her short, three-word response just before I left.
For a month I sat in a chair in her room and watched her as she slept.
It was a comfortable high-back chair and I would fall asleep in it, but I’d wake if I heard her stirring so that I could slip out before she knew I was there.
It was a mystery to me how she could sleep as if none of this was effecting her.
And even though I am a man, I will admit to shedding a few tears watching her sleep without me by her side.
I really lost it one day though, the day she left in the morning and didn’t come back.
I had gone down to breakfast, hoping in vain that she would join me.
What I found on my plate was more than I could bear.
It was her wedding ring… sitting on my otherwise empty fine-bone China, gold-rimmed plate.
I sat staring at it for a long time, willing it to go away. Wanting it to be a hallucination instead of the real thing.
She had given it back to me in the same manner that I had given it to her.
I had it ready for her, sitting on her breakfast plate the very first morning that she had spent the night with me. I had no doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.
Without words she had said ‘yes’ to me. Her reaction was one of happy tears as she put it on her finger and kissed me, a most loving kiss.
And now, without words, she was giving it back to me… on my breakfast plate, no less.
After some time, I pulled out the necklace I was wearing from under my shirt. It held a silver Slytherin Alumni pendent. I unlatched it, adding her wedding ring alongside it and put it back on, tucking it back under my shirt.
For a minute I thought I was going to be okay. I felt emotionally numb sitting alone yet again at the huge table. But I think I was numb because my mind hadn’t quite registered what had just happened.
My hand went to my chest as I felt her cold ring resting against my skin, directly over my heart.
And that’s when I lost it.
I won’t go into too many details… but at first I didn’t have any tears.
Everything around me crashed, just as my marriage had crashed around me. The metaphor came to life as things literally began shattering. Everything but our wedding picture, that is. I wouldn’t allow anything to happen to it. It was much too precious.
My soul cried out then. The sound of it made the house elves in the place come running to make sure I wasn’t wounded from all the crashing.
I was physically fine of course, but wounded none the less, as my heart felt like it was suffering the stabs of a thousand knives.
“Master, are you al...”
“You will leave me alone!” I yelled at them. And being the excellent house elves they were, they did as I demanded.
That night, I wasn’t even sure where to sleep. I could no longer stand to sleep in my bed. Knowing that by choice, she would never be there again. It seemed that in some strange way, I no longer had need of it.
I would sleep on any couch or reclining chair in the place. I even slept outside on the swing she had wanted for her birthday.
She said she wanted a porch swing like she used to have at her Muggle house. But the Manor didn’t have a porch, so I had a very large gazebo built for it. The octagon shape building was made of stone and had large columns to match the house and was topped with a copper roof graced by a pointed Malfoy Family Crest as a weather vain.
Because of its size it was more like an ‘outdoor living space’ as she called it. It had cooling fans for hot days, a fireplace for cool nights, a stainless grill for cookouts, a full refrigerated bar for entertaining, and of course… her porch swing built for two.
When she saw it with the biggest pink birthday bow I could conjure sitting on top of it, her eyes grew wide and her hands went to her cheeks.
“You spoil me!” she had voiced in delight as she grabbed my hand and began running toward it. “You must try it with me!” she cried out excitedly. “Come on!”
We spent the night there… talking… swinging… surrounded by a hundred hovering candles. I sat up, while she rested half on me, half on the swing. We talked of our early years at Hogwarts and how we never in a million years would’ve ever thought that the two of us would be spending the night together on a swing.
I teased her, “Of course we never would’ve guessed it. We didn’t even know what an ‘outdoor living space’ was back then.”
She giggled at what I said as she entwined her fingers into mine.
“I don’t deserve this,” she told me.
“I don’t deserve you.”
How could we have been so happy and it all come down to this? I asked myself as I woke on the swing, catching the sunrise over the apple orchard.
I pretty much stopped living when she left.
Even money no longer mattered. I didn’t care to work another business deal for as long as I lived. I forgot what the point of it was. Oh, yes… to feel good about myself. What a perfectly Slytherin, foul, selfish reason to ruin my marriage.
I canceled all appointments. I shut down my office and told my staff they could all go home and consider themselves on vacation until further notice.
Blaise stopped by almost immediately after that.
“You’re not allowed to cancel appointments with me. You know this,” he said, trying to make light-hearted conversation. “You look like crap by the way. What’d you do, sleep outside?”
“Actually, I did.”
“Well go get a shower before I hose you down.”
“I showered. I just haven’t shaved in awhile.”
“Don’t stop living, Draco. I don’t want to have to come here kick your arse out of bed every morning. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again if I have to. That’s what friends do.”
“Speaking of… will you do me a favor?” I asked.
“You stood as my best man at my wedding. Will you sit as my best friend at my… divorce? I’m afraid you might have to kick me out of bed that day because I don’t know that I’ll be able to get up. You just might have to drag my heavily inebriated body to court and stand with me at the end of a different kind of aisle.”
“I will,” he promised. “As long as you don’t get sick on my dragon leather shoes,” he replied with a look of understanding.
“Thanks, friend,” I said as we exchanged our old Slytherin handshakes and pats on the back.
After he left, I still didn’t shave. I didn’t feel like it.
I sat there looking at the gold band on my left hand, wondering if I’d ever be able to bring myself to take it off… like she did hers.
Just when I was wondering how easy it was for her to remove the symbol of my undying love, I felt it… a hint of an old feeling… one of hate toward a girl named “Granger.”
But it didn’t stay long. I loved her. I just hated what she was doing. “Hate the sin, not the sinner,” she would say.
I learned so much from her.
I decided then that as soon as the divorce was final, I was going to burn her birthday present to the ground. It would serve as an enormous reminder in my back yard that we had been happy once.
But the burning of it actually was to prevent the unthinkable. If I were to attempt to move on with someone else, I couldn’t bear the thought of another woman in her swing. It was hers and hers alone, built for her. And no other woman was allowed on it. I’d watch it burn before I would let that happen.
I was in a headfirst dive during the weeks leading up to the divorce date. My thoughts were dark, but not toward her. They were only directed at myself.
Honestly, I slept a lot, just not in our bed. Sometimes I’d sleep in my old room, the one I grew up in. Sleep is an excellent time killer and I liked being unconscious. It was like a drug taking my pain away. If I had nightmares about my Death Eater past, they were still better than the reality that I was living in.
My days and nights were quickly screwed up and at rare instances when I actually had an appetite, I would eat at the oddest of times. Usually I had no idea what day it was.
I did have thoughts of suicide, but not as you might think, as my Slytherin ‘self-preservation’ would never allow me to go through with it.
It’s just that I never really understood why anyone would want to take their own life. But that was before I knew what heart ache really was. I was baffled to find that it is, in fact, a very real and true experience, felt in the chest, right at the heart that just sits there… aching.
After about a week of feeling it, it was only then that I understood why someone would want to die.
I also began drinking myself into oblivion. And thanks to my best friend, Blaise, being there when I did it… sometimes at my place, sometimes at his, I didn’t have to worry about meeting my demise at the end of a bottle.
I was a mess on a new level of low.
For I, the rich and powerful Draco Malfoy had been reduced to 'A Man Barely Breathing.'
I am a quiet fan of Marshall Mathers and I could not pass up this chance to write a story using a quote of his. My fic has nothing to do with the song the quote came from, but I was inspired as soon as I read his words. He is an amazing artist and I hope that I do not bring embarrassment to him by posting this story.
Chapter 2: Talking to Mother - Divorce Date
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The miserable days of my life turned into dismal weeks and finally the dreaded court date was here, or rather... the Divorce Date.
Blaise came to the Manor early, just as he had promised. He didn’t need to kick me out of bed, as I was already up. I hadn’t slept.
Just before sunup I took a walk to the northern most area of the property to the family cemetery. I could’ve apparated there, but I wanted to walk the grounds. My walk started in the blackest part of morning, but by the time I got to my mother’s grave, the sunrise was casting a thousand colors on the Malfoy grounds.
“Mother,” I said aloud as I placed a few hand-picked flowers on her headstone that I happened to come across along the way.
“I know you are not really here, but I do need some motherly advice right about now.”
The only sound I heard was a few birds singing their morning song.
“She’s divorcing me.”
I could barely say it... barely get the words out, having to pause before I could continue speaking.
“Which is worse than death, really because… at least when someone dies, they must leave… it is not their choice.
“But Mum, she is leaving me by choice… and I’m not sure…"
I had to clear the lump in my throat as my hand went to my chest, feeling Hermione's wedding ring dangling from the necklace hidden underneath my clothes.
"I'm not sure how to live with it.”
I know it seems foolish to be talking to someone who isn’t there. But talking to the memory of her just felt right. Knowing her body was only a few feet from me was the closest to her that I could get.
“I’m not sure how to fix it because I didn’t do anything wrong… at least not to her. I never raised a hand to her. I never treated her badly or spoke ill will of her. I never cheated on her. I never worked too late or too much. I adored her, spoiled her, and loved her with everything in me. I still do.”
The sun rose higher in the sky and I knew I didn’t have much time.
“She was always my weakness, you know. I always let her have her own way, even in leaving me. She withdrew from me and I let her. She left me and I let her. And now that she is divorcing me, I will let her. I let her because I love her and if I have caused her shame, then I want her rid of me so that she no longer has to bear it.”
I looked down at her grave then and recalled her face just as I remembered her.
“Mother… I desperately need an answer. How can I stop this? If you could somehow magically send me a message… now would be the time to do it.”
No message came, of course. No advice from the grave.
I would’ve paid heavily for a magical stone to bring her back for a moment. I had no magic in my wand that would conjure a brief encounter with her soul.
I asked myself, "How would Mum make everything better?"
The only thing I could think of was her comforting me as a child. She would find me lying down on my bed or on a couch or even the floor sometimes, upset at something father said or did. She would get close to me and would move her lovely long fingernails across my back, giving me a most wonderful back-scratch or run her fingers in my hair like a mother would. And it wouldn’t take long before all of my worries had evaporated and I was fast asleep.
Her caring touch had been healing to a child’s soul.
“I guess I’d better go before Blaise shows up and starts wondering what country I ran off to.”
I let out a long sigh, never knowing how to end my conversation with her in the grave. The normal, ‘see you around’ or ‘take care’ type of goodbyes never fit. So I would just turn and leave.
This morning wasn’t any different. I turned and made my way back down the lonely cobblestone path back to the Manor, remembering all the times I had walked this same path with Hermione… always holding my hand.
When I got closer, I saw Blaise waiting on top of the grand steps of the back of the place, dumping out whatever beverage he had been drinking. He never was one for coffee or tea.
“How can you call yourself a Brit and hate hot tea?” I asked when I got close enough.
“It’s entirely too early and I thought an attempt at caffeine would help. But I just can’t do it. I tried. Really, I did. It tastes like someone mowed the grass, gathered some clippings, and added hot water. I don’t know how anyone drinks it. It’s the same for coffee. Just add fertilized dirt for added putrid taste and color.”
Leave it to Blaise to make me laugh on my darkest hour.
“An energy drink then?” I offered.
“Liquid candy after I’ve just tasted boiled grass clippings? I’ll pass.”
I chuckled again, then shook my head as we entered the Manor.
Blaise disappeared for a moment only to reappear with a bottle of my mouthwash.
“This will make it better,” he voiced as he took a swig of it, gargling it all the way to my kitchen to spit it out in the sink. He did it four times before the lingering tea taste was gone and I swear he drank some of it.
As he was doing this, I stood watching the antique grandfather clock ticking away the time to the end of my marriage. Every tick bringing me closer to the time when Hermione would no longer be my wife.
I whipped out my wand and Stupefied it at thirteen minutes ‘til my marriage was over. I knew I had not really stopped time. But I couldn’t stand the ticking. They were like little Cruciatus blows sending pain directly to my head.
Blaise came in and sat down, knowing we still had some time before we needed to apparate.
“Sit down, Draco. I want to say something.”
He must’ve been watching me more carefully than I thought because I had actually swayed a bit, suddenly feeling weak as no sleep and days of only eating an occasional apple were beginning to take its toll. Or maybe it was the desperate situation weighing down on me. I wasn’t sure.
I obliged, feeling like I was going to be sick if I didn’t sit.
“I’m sorry this is happening,” he said finally. “I know how much you loved her.”
I looked up at him. “Please don’t say it as if it were past tense. I love her still.”
“What happened exactly? There’s been all kinds of speculation in the media.”
“All I know is that my business dealings caused good people to lose their jobs and she was ridiculed and became ashamed of being a Malfoy. It had nothing to do with me treating her badly or cheating or not loving her.”
“That’s it?” he asked as if it were incredible.
“Are you sure she’s not under the Imperious curse or some other potion or something?”
“Trust me. I already looked at it at every angle. She isn’t being bewitched or anything. I’m sure of it. I would like to think that she still loves me, but just doesn’t want to be a Malfoy anymore. I suspect it, but I don’t know for sure. My wedding vows remain intact. And I’ll love, honor, and cherish her until the day I die… no matter her last name.”
Blaise nodded his head and we shared a moment of silence then. A moment of silence to commemorate a marriage life well lived… a marriage that was now dead.
I felt like I wasn't really going to Divorce Court. I was going to a funeral... the death of my marriage. And I was going to watch a judge seal the coffin and bury all the happiness I had ever had on this earth and put it in the ground.
Blaise finally broke the sorrowful silence.
“Let’s go,” he demanded, standing from his seat.
But I couldn’t. I just sat there shaking my head profusely like a child that doesn’t want the spanking he knows is coming.
I was about to get teary-eyed in front of Blaise, but he stopped me.
“Don’t you dare start crying on me, Draco Malfoy! Get up, now!” he ordered. “You will get through this with your head held high because you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“If you weren’t my best friend I would curse you for ordering me around.”
“You asked me to be here, precisely for this reason. And I’m rather enjoying myself ordering you around for a change. Now let’s go," he replied using a noticeably gentler tone.
I stood then. And the last thing I remember thinking while still at the Manor was that soon I would be seeing her. It had been so long since I’d actually seen her.
But then I thought... the courthouse might very well be the last time I’d ever be in the same room with her.
As soon as we apparated, the cameras began clicking at our every move. Reporters descended upon us like a swarm of killer bees.
I said nothing as they berated us with the most horrible of questions.
I no longer hated the thought of going into the courthouse, as I began to look forward to getting away from the media to see my love, even if it was for the last time.
“Do you think your ex-wife will re-unite with Ronald Weasley?” I heard one reporter say.
The comment made me want to punch him, but I knew that was exactly what he wanted me to do so that he could sue me.
“When this is over, will you re-open your office and close more businesses?”
“Do you think Hermione was only after your money from the beginning?”
“Just how much alimony will she be getting… one lump sum or payments?”
“We have no comment,” Blaise replied adamantly.
“Blaise Zabini…” one reporter recognized. “Blaise, as his best friend, what will Draco Malfoy do with his free time? Will he be looking for the new Mrs. Malfoy soon or does he already have someone on the side waiting?”
“You people are sick,” I heard Blaise say just before we pushed through the door.
Once inside, security officials from the Ministry confiscated our wands, which was something I understood, but hated. Divorce court had the potential to get very ugly and at times violent, even with the most subdued and reserved wizards and witches.
I walked into the courtroom angry. Honestly, I didn’t know what emotion I might have, but I can tell you that anger wasn’t expected. Great sorrow, yes… but not anger.
I was furious. Furious at her for putting us through this. I let her have her way with everything. Was I supposed to just sit back and let this happen?
My eyes scanned the place for her, but she wasn’t there yet apparently.
My lawyer was waiting for me at the front.
“Where is she?” I practically growled at the man.
“Not here yet. Have you read your divorce papers like I told you?”
“No. Do I really need to? I told you to give her whatever she wants.” I quickly changed the subject. “What happens if she doesn’t show?”
“It doesn’t mean much. All you really have to do is agree to the terms and sign it.”
“I don’t really agree to the divorce. How am I to agree with the terms? What if I don’t sign it?”
“The judge can grant her a divorce no matter if you sign it or not.”
“I have to talk to her.”
Just then Hermione, the love of my pathetic life strolled in. It wasn’t a stroll exactly, but she sure didn’t need any help.
I desperately wanted her to look at me, but she didn’t. I tried to read her expression; look into her face to see if she had been crying or at the very least, look sorry or feel bad.
I swallowed hard as my eyes met hers. I had to remind myself to breathe.
She looked beautiful. And yes, I saw it… a hint of sorrow in her eyes. As if she didn’t really want this.
I had to fight the urge to run to her, pick her up, and apparate her home, but there were several Aurors protecting her, including Potter.
I don’t know why she needed protecting, as I never would’ve hurt her.
As the judge made his way to the bench, I turned to my lawyer.
“You will ask the judge to postpone or request a private courtroom. I don’t want this to happen in front of the magical world. It’s none of their business.”
“Too late to postpone. But I can request privacy.”
Everything was happening so fast. My marriage was flat-lining and my heart was beating so fast I thought I was going into cardiac arrest.
“Silence!” the judge demanded as the gavel slammed down.
My eyes went back to Hermione. She seemed to be staring off into the space in front her.
“Case number 25… 34… 61. Malfoy vs. Malfoy. A File for Divorcement,” the judge bellowed.
My lawyer quickly shot up and announced, “My client requests a private courtroom to discuss this matter.”
“The deadline for such a request was last week.” The judge scowled at my lawyer. “You missed it,” he spat.
“Such request was only presented by my client this morning, your Honor.”
He looked at Hermione’s lawyer with a stare.
“And does your client object to a private courtroom?”
Her lawyer glanced at her briefly. “She has no objection.”
“Alright. I’ll see them alone in my chambers now.”
The courtroom crowd made a low grumbling noise of disappointment.
Both of our lawyers stood in protest.
“Without representation?” mine asked first.
“All the paperwork in front of me is perfectly sound. It only needs the signature of Draco Malfoy. I don’t believe they will have need of you. But stick around should I have need to finalize things.”
The judge looked at me peculiar-like and then to Hermione.
“I will see Mrs. Malfoy first. Then Mr. Malfoy. Then if need be, both of them together.”
He spoke directly to Hermione then. “I go in first. Then the bailiff will come back to escort you in.”
She nodded her understanding. It was all security protocol, of course. The judge was to be protected.
When the bailiff called for her, she stood and moved quietly around the desk, continuing her stare into nothing as they walked.
God, I loved her. Why was this happening? I’d give all my money away to prevent this from happening. She had been only a few feet from me. Was this the closest that I’d ever get to her again?
I started to hyperventilate a little and just then I felt a hand on my back giving me an encouraging nudge. It was Blaise trying to calm me down. It was distraction enough to calm my breathing.
My lawyer poured me a glass of water and I drank it as yet another distraction.
I looked over at Harry who was gawking at me. “Why?” I mouthed to him.
He only looked surprised that I would ask such a thing.
I turned from him and clasped my hands together. I didn’t care who saw me or what they would write in the paper the next day. Truly I didn’t care. I bowed my head.
“Please, God. It seems I need another miracle,” I breathed quietly.
‘Another’ meaning my answered prayer during the war; a prayer to be delivered from evil.
She was gone only a few minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. When she returned, the bailiff turned his back to Hermione as if to be her protective shield.
“Mr. Malfoy, the judge will see you now.”
Fear wrapped its claws around my throat. I hadn’t been that scared or felt so helpless since I was pointing a wand at Professor Dumbledore.
But I knew... no one was going to help me get out of this nightmare. And somehow, someway, I'd have to remember to just keep breathing....
Draco truly hoped he could hear his mother's voice tell him what to do, but that hadn't happened. His mother was dead... and so was his marriage.
Chapter 3: A Man Barely Breathing
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The next thing I knew the judge was offering me a seat in front of his huge English Oak desk.
Once I sat down, I asked for permission to speak, which was granted.
“Thank you for allowing this to be a private matter.”
“Oh, I had already decided that before your lawyer requested it. You two are much too well known and… there’s enough of your private life exposed to the vermin out there. I think you’ve been dragged through enough mud.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Now to the matter at hand. I found this divorce decree to be most interesting. They are a rare breed, especially given your earnings.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant by that.
“I must confess. I haven’t actually read it,” I admitted.
“Really? Hmm. And your lawyers didn’t tell you what she wanted? That would be a violation of their fiduciary duties not to properly inform you.”
“That would be completely my fault as every time they tried to speak of it, I wasn’t exactly in the mood for it, so I always waived them off or changed the subject. They gave it to me, but I didn’t have the heart to actually read it. I told them to give her whatever she wanted. You can double it if you want.”
“You would double the amount even though you don’t even know what that amount is?”
“If there is one thing that I’ve learned from this entire ordeal is how much money no longer matters to me, sir. I would give it all away for this to end and for her to come back to me.”
The judge stared at me as if to study my expression.
“So, you don’t want to be divorced?”
“No. I never wanted this.”
“Hmm...” he pondered, sitting back in his over-sized burgundy leather office chair. “It’s hard for me to double the amount, considering she doesn’t want anything.”
“What?” I asked in disbelief.
“Nothing… times two… equals nothing. She waived all dower rights. Meaning she waived her right to half of your earnings during the duration of your marriage. It is my understanding that you made a rather impressive amount of money outside the Malfoy Family Trust. I have your Bank Statements. She has every right to half of everything outside the Trust, but she waived it off and I needed to make sure that she knew what that meant.”
I took a hard swallow.
“It fits, doesn’t it? She is leaving me because of my money. She’s ashamed of it because some of my business dealings inadvertently caused people to lose their jobs. She’s ashamed of being a Malfoy. That’s why she wants a divorce. So it seems fitting that she would be ashamed to claim her rightful piece of Malfoy money, I suppose.”
If the judge was anything, he was stoic. He was reading my every word and my every action. He was a human lie detector without the need for magical devices to assist him.
After a few long moments and a few drawn out sighs, he finally spoke.
“Once in a rare blue moon, Mr. Malfoy, I get a hunch about certain couples. A hunch that they might not be quite ready for divorce. Yours is one of those rare situations.”
My face lit up.
“Does this mean you won’t be granting her a divorce from me?”
“Don’t get too excited. This day is not over. I will be calling Mrs. Malfoy in to speak with the both of you together.”
I coughed then, trying to get rid of the lump in my throat. He didn’t think we were ready for divorce just yet. That had to mean something, right?
When Hermione came in, I could tell she’d been crying. Her makeup was smeared every which way. And she avoided me as if I were invisible. She had developed quite the talent for it.
“Tissue?” the judge offered.
She nodded and took a few from the box sitting at the corner of the desk, and then sat down directly facing him.
She was so close to me, I could smell her perfume... the perfume I surprised her with when I got back from a short business trip to Paris.
“Mr. Malfoy, I am going to put a silencing charm on you so that you cannot speak or interrupt my conversation with her. I am also sending a spell to restrain you to your seat. This is for everyone’s security. I will remove them when I deem necessary. Do you understand?”
“Yes sir.” I would’ve agreed to anything at that point… anything so long as I could remain in the same room with her. I missed her terribly.
He sent the spells inaudibly with a flick of his wand and I felt them working instantaneously.
When he thought she had composed herself enough to be able to speak, he began.
“Mrs. Malfoy, tell me again why you began divorce proceedings. And speak directly to me, not your husband.”
She cleared her throat before beginning.
“It had become clear to me that my husband wanted me out of his life, sir.”
Her answer sent a shock wave through me that I cannot describe. Disbelief mixed with horror, but much more than that. How could she ever possibly think such a lie?
“What made you think this?”
“He… He stopped speaking to me,” she sniffed. “Then he stopped being intimate with me, so I thought that meant that he no longer wanted me in that way,” she voiced as she shrunk into her seat as if she felt small at the feeling of being unwanted.
It couldn’t have been further from the truth! I wanted to shout, but I couldn’t. I wanted to jump out of my seat and hold her, but I couldn’t because of the blasted restraints!
“It was too much for me to know he was so close, but so distant from me. It was then that I began sleeping in a guest room. Because I thought that was what he wanted. That he no longer wanted me in his bed.”
Her tears began to flow and I thought I was going to pass out not being able to scream my love for her.
“What happened then?” the judge asked with a look of caring concern.
“Only once he came to my room. I wanted him to tell me to come back to our bed, tell me that he missed me or wanted me. But the one time he did, he only asked me if I needed anything. Like some kind of butler or something. In reality, I only needed him. But he never once...”
She stopped, unable to finish her sentence as her body began to shake.
I wanted to yell at her and tell her how wrong she was! I went to her every night and watched her sleep! For the love of God in Heaven... this was torture!
“Take your time,” the judge told her.
She took another tissue and discreetly blew her nose with it before continuing.
“We would sit at dinner and breakfast… and he wouldn’t speak to me. He wouldn’t reach over and take my hand like he used to. He ignored me like I didn’t exist. But after sleeping alone for so many nights, I knew that he no longer wanted me to even do something so simple as to eat with him, so I gave him what I thought he wanted… my wedding ring back. So I left it for him one morning.”
“Go on,” he encouraged. “What happened then?”
“The worst thing of all… nothing. Nothing happened. He never tried to find me," she explained through sobs. “He never once owled me. He never once went to my work. I was crushed inside when I realized what I had to do then. Knowing that he couldn’t care less about me…. knowing he didn’t love me anymore. It practically killed me, but I made an appointment with a lawyer to file divorce papers. Because… I thought that’s what he wanted… free of me.”
I’m pretty sure I had nearly quit breathing at her saying, "he didn’t love me anymore."
This was insanely torturous. I couldn’t speak to my own wife about an enormous heart-wrenching misunderstanding?!
She was in full sobs now, no longer able to speak... fully turning her head away from the judge and from me.
I pulled out my necklace then, with her ring still attached. I took it off and held it up to the judge as I silently mouthed the words, “Please sir, let me speak.”
Permission was granted with a wave of his wand.
“Hermione, my love… I thought you were doing all of those things because you were ashamed of me. I think both of us stopped speaking because we were doing more arguing than we were making up. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I tried to touch you but you only pulled away. I was fearful to touch you after that because I was afraid of your rejection and when you moved out of our room, I visited you every night to watch you sleep. I was there. When you stopped eating with me, I thought you were so ashamed of me that you could no longer look at me. And I thought I was going to die when I saw you’d given back your wedding ring on that plate. When you left, I thought it was what you wanted… that you couldn’t stand being a Malfoy anymore and my worst fears happened when you filed for a divorce.”
She finally turned to look at me, finally acknowledging my presence in the room with her. She looked at me with confusion mixed with love and insecurity, as if she wasn’t sure of anything.
I wanted to touch her so badly. It had been so long.
I held out the wedding ring to her.
“Did you forget what this symbolized? A token of my undying love for you. Don’t ever think for a second that I don’t love you. Please, Hermione. Please... come back to me.”
And it was in that moment, loving her so much and being so close to her; waiting for her answer… that my wife had me breathless once again.
But she didn't answer. It seemed as if she were hesitating!
Just then I heard my mother’s gentle voice. I heard her as if she were in the room with us, helping me... giving me instructions.
“Reach out and touch her, my son. She needs to FEEL loved.”
Yes, of course. That is what I'd been wanting to do for what seemed like an eternity!
I slowly stood then. Taking my mother's advice, I gently took my wife's hands and pulled her into an embrace as a man in love, not ever wanting to let her go.
I wrapped my arms around her and gently pressed her head to my chest, hoping that she could feel how my heart beat for her. She was so precious to me.
As I felt her begin to respond; a split second in time, I felt that all that was wrong in my world, somehow became right. And all my gripping fears transformed into an indescribable hope.
She tenderly touched my face as she had done so many times before and just began kissing me… slowly at first, but then it built to a passion that I had missed so much.
She pulled from me for just a second to say five little words that meant so much.
“I want to go home.”
My heart soared in my chest as the heartache that had once lived there turned into the most wonderful feeling of elation... one that pulled my soul from the depths of where it was living and into new heights.
“Give me your hand,” I voiced quietly.
Taking her left hand, I slid her wedding ring back on, back to its rightful place... then brought it to my lips to give it a gentle kiss.
“Don’t you ever take it off again.”
“Never... never, never, never. I'll never take it off again! I’m so sorry,” she spoke through remorseful tears as we began kissing each other again.
“Eh hem.” The judge reminded us of his presence. “There is a matter of the Divorcement. Shall it be canceled then?”
“Yes! Canceled!” she pleaded, practically jumping back into my arms.
“Very well then.” The judge magically levitated the Divorce Decree into the air and with the flick of his wand it burned in the air until there was nothing left, not even ashes.
“I’ll take care of the courtroom. You two can apparate home from the adjoining room.” He pointed the way. “Oh… and here. I suspect you’ll be wanting these,” he commented, handing us our confiscated wands.
“How can we thank you for listening to us and bringing us back together?” I asked.
“Yes. Is there anything?” Hermione added.
“I cannot accept gifts. But I am allowed a photo. Do you think you could send a snapshot for a small album of mine? I like to look upon it every now and then and know that I’ve done some good in the world.”
“Of course,” I agreed, shaking his hand.
“And you two need to keep up the communication so I never have to see you again. You’d be surprised how many marriages I’ve seen come to a sad end because couples had stopped talking.”
Hermione started crying again.
“Get out of here before I start getting teary. I cannot have anyone thinking I’m a softy. I have a professional reputation to uphold,” the judge smiled.
With that, we walked to the adjoining room where I picked up my pretty wife and apparated us straight home.
She clung to me, kissing at my neck. And I didn’t put her down until we were in our bedroom, where I placed her tenderly in the spot that she never should’ve left.
My apologies if anyone out there was expecting something more exciting... a plot twist of some type, but I wanted to keep this a little more real, as this is an Eminem Quote Challenge, after all. ;)
Thank you for reading and reviewing. I love to hear from you. What are your thoughts...?
Until next time...
Chapter 4: Until I take my last breath.
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We stayed in bed all day and into the next morning, even having our dinner brought to our bedroom. By then, we had both laid down some new house rules.
She told me I was never allowed to stop talking unless I was taking a break to kiss her. And I told her that she was no longer allowed to do whatever she wanted.
I gave her a long list of things that she was not permitted to do. Leave me being first on the list. Remove her wedding ring held second place, followed closely by sleeping anywhere other than by my side.
She was also never permitted to leave the Manor again… at which she just laughed at me hysterically.
I told her that since she was a Malfoy, no one liked her anymore anyway, so what was the point in her ever going out again? That’s when she playfully started a pillow fight, which I won when I told her how much I had missed her and began kissing her again.
Joy had returned to our home as I couldn’t even remember smiling with her so much as I did those wondrous first days of having her back in my arms.
Hermione and I had grown immensely as a couple throughout the entire heart-wrenching ordeal. We appreciated each other on a new level of love and had a much deeper understanding of one another’s needs.
I hired a photographer to take some pictures of us so that we could send one to the judge, per his request.
I picked out my favorite to give him, but Hermione was mortifyingly opposed.
“We can’t send him a moving photograph of us making out. It would be entirely inappropriate,” she protested, hitting me with it, while blushing and wearing the sweetest of grins.
I didn’t care which one it was, but she did of course. And after looking at what seemed to me an insane amount of photographs and time spent over-analyzing, she finally chose one.
“How about this one?” she asked.
It was of us holding hands, walking along the cobblestone path that led to my mother’s grave. And in the far off distance stood the gazebo that housed her swing.
“That’s it,” I agreed. “That’s the one."
In the weeks that followed, reporters at the Daily Prophet hounded us relentlessly for an exclusive interview about our near divorce. We were completely against it, of course, feeling our private married life was not to be publicly displayed… especially to shamelessly boost newspaper sales.
But one night as Hermione and I entered a benefit dinner for St. Mungo’s Hospital, we happened upon a young reporter that asked, “What if your story helped other couples stay together? Would you give an interview then?”
“No, thanks,” we both replied.
But the idea stuck in my head and I pondered it for several days. What if some good could come of it?
One night as I once again held my wife on her beloved swing, enjoying the night air under a hundred hovering candles, she entwined her fingers into mine and tucked her head into my chest so much, I was wondering how she was breathing.
As I held her close, I mentioned an idea to her. Not granting an interview, but what if I wrote about what happened instead? That way, it would be exactly as it happened without someone writing it for us.
We argued about it, of course, as she was adamantly against it. And by the end, I let her win and we didn’t speak of it again.
That is, until rumors and false stories came about… stories suggesting that I had physically abused her. But what really turned Hermione around was seeing photos of her and Potter embracing with accusations that they had an adulterous affair.
We both had all that we could take. And so in the end, Hermione wanted me to write it, at least to clear Harry of any wrong doing.
So I decided I was finally going to take the example of my Rap Artist friend quoted at the beginning of this story and expose everything. Expose what happened so that the truth was out in the open for all the magical world to see. No more speculations or accusations. No more rumors and lies.
It was simply a lack of communication between a husband and wife that almost killed our marriage.
I contacted the reporter that we met outside the benefit and told him that in lieu of an interview, I would write about it instead. I told him if the Daily Prophet didn’t print it ‘word for word’ that I’d either sue them until I owned them or I’d buy just enough stock to gain controlling interest, where I would proceed to fire every last one of them.
They agreed to my simple demand and I explained everything that happened in the article and ended it like this...
"Hermione and I have never been better.
We are back to arguing about all manner of things. I win some. I lose some. But the important thing is that we don’t remain silent. Instead, we work out our differences. I use my business skills to negotiate and she uses her amazing wit to be most convincing… and somehow we find middle ground. We compromise.
I will never take her for granted and I thank God daily for her and the miracles He works in our lives. That we ever came together in the first place is a miracle on its own, let alone how we stayed together.
I am so thankful for the divorce court Judge for listening to us instead of signing our divorce papers and getting it over with before eating his lunch. To his wisdom and credit, he actually listened and brought us back together in a way that we could finally talk and listen to each other. For that, I am eternally grateful.
I’d like to thank Blaise Zabini for standing by me and being such a great and loyal friend.
This entire article is dedicated to my beloved wife, Hermione Malfoy, who realizes I am far from perfect, but chooses to love me anyway.
It is my hope that someone might learn from our mistakes and not allow a lack of communication lead you to a path of relationship destruction. Talk things out. Make amends. Communicate.
And whatever you do… Don't ever let your silence shout things that you don't really mean to say."
So there you have it; the true story of our near divorce.
But I'd like to think of it as a story of a miracle that breathed new life into a marriage that was at death’s door. One that transformed our marriage into something precious to me. Something that I most certainly will honor and cherish…
Until I take my last breath.
Daily Prophet Editor's Note: We did print Mr. Malfoy's article ‘word for word’ and we'd like to point out that he never mentioned where Hermione had been staying while they were apart. But alas, we also thought it noteworthy that the store that closed is having its Grand Re-opening this Saturday. It is rumored that the Malfoy's have taken up the venture in an attempt to bring back jobs previously lost. And we'd also like to note the newly formed Malfoy Foundation, a philanthropy project headed by Hermione Malfoy is sure to bring much needed funds to charities across the magical world (see “Malfoy’s Money” -story on page 5).
Ah yes, a happy ending for these two. I realize that there is a time to remain silent for the sake of peace, but don’t wait so long as to cause irreversible damage.
My thanks to Crestwood who thought up this brilliant Eminem quote challenge. I really enjoyed this and hope that you did as well.
It is my pleasure to mark this fanfic as 'Completed' and I invite you to read my other stories on this amazing site! My eternal thanks to those who make it possible.
I also want to thank the Reviewers that have encouraged me and spoke of how much this story meant to them on such a personal level. Thank you so much!
By the way... In Chapter 2, their divorce case number was 25 - 34 - 61. If you add the digits together, it would've been 7~7~7. *winks* Pretty lucky numbers, don't you think? Tee hee.
Until next time, keep talking and Reviewing! And by all means, fight for your marriages!
Love to all...