Chapter 28 : Never the Same Without You
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Hermione returned to her room after Draco’s quick departure for the Malfoy vineyards – wherever they were. She was still reeling from her revelation down near the pond. Was it true? Did she really … love him? The way he had kissed her – it had been like a fire breaking out in her chest. Was that love? The way her head spun when he pulled away from her … could that possibly be love? Or maybe she was sick? No … this was different. If she were sick, her heart shouldn’t have swelled so much when his hand made contact with hers. What had changed? What on earth had warranted such a response? Maybe it was all the emotions from the accident. Maybe she wasn’t being herself…
But something told her otherwise…
Her breath caught in her throat. It was true. She loved him! When she was around him, she couldn’t help but stare or the desperate need to touch him in one way or another. When he was gone she was wondering where he was and if he was ok. Everything she did, thought or felt was some how centred around Draco Malfoy. Her husband. Her lover. The man whom she loved. It was crazy, but now that she knew it – she couldn’t help but feel stupid for not realising it easier.
Oh! She couldn’t wait to tell him, but … what if he didn’t feel the same way? What if he laughed at her? He wouldn’t laugh at her … of course he wouldn’t. Would he? No! Of course not! But all the same … what if he didn’t feel the same way? There was no guarantee that he would. He was perfectly nice to her – but that didn’t mean that he loved her. What if he was just being nice? What if…
Hermione’s stomach grumbled loudly. It was the first time in ages that she had finally felt hungry. It growled louder and she couldn’t help but laugh. How embarrassing! She called for Misfit to bring up some food for her and soon enough she was feasting on roast chicken and vegies. But still a niggling thought played at her mind. Would she tell Draco? Would he laugh at her if she did?
It was well past three in the morning by the time Draco and his men got back to Malfoy manor. Tired, exhausted and sick to death of Dumbledore and his pathetic attacks, they dispersed silently in their different directions. Draco trudged up the stairs and turned to his left towards his room. He was tired and had several cuts and burns across his skin from his attempt to put out the flames that had engulfed their vineyard. It was Dumbledore’s work for sure. The guards who were in charge of the vineyard were knocked out and not dead – which was a sure sign that it was a ‘humane’ attack from Dumbledore’s squad. There was no sign of them by the time that Draco got there and so he had just done his best to save what he could of his families prided vineyard. In the end – everything had been lost.
Draco didn’t expect to find Hermione awake although he secretly hoped she would be. Of course he wasn’t surprised when he entered his room to find her curled up in bed with only the dying fire to light the room. He immediately noticed the empty plate on the bedside table. So she had finally eaten something. He had a feeling that she was slowly starting to come back out of her shell again. He grabbed the small clear vial of viscous liquid that sat on her dressing table and took a seat facing the bed while he applied it to his burns.
He couldn’t help but watch her beautiful sleeping face. The soft light of the fire gave her hair a golden glow. She smiled in her sleep as if there was a tiny secret that only she knew. Strangely enough, he felt drawn to her. Almost like he couldn’t tear his gaze away from her. What was it about this woman? Only she made his heart stir from just one look. Her touch on his skin seemed to warm him like a flame lit deep in his centre. She consumed every thought in his mind. He was always thinking about her. What was she doing to him? He’d never felt this way about someone before. Sure, he’d lusted after women – plenty of women. But what he felt for Hermione was different … it just seemed like so much more!
Almost like she could feel his gaze on her face, her eyes fluttered open and she squinted around the room sleepily. At first she checked the other half of the bed, but finding it empty, she searched the room. Eventually, she found what she was looking for sitting in the chair on the far side of the room.
“Hey … what are you doing sitting over there?” she asked sleepily. He smiled at her and made a simple gesture to the oil that he was dabbing on his burns. She nodded her understanding. She had come to accept the multiple wounds and injuries that Draco accumulated from his work. “I didn’t expect you back tonight … what happened?”
“It was Dumbledore again. The vineyard is all gone – he torched the lot!” Draco said resentfully. The sooner they put an end to that old fools life the better, but Draco was afraid to admit that right now they were defending against the old fool instead of attacking. If he had his way – they’d be breaking down the doors of Hogwarts and burning that to the ground! He noticed, as he focussed back on Hermione, that a deep scowl had appeared on her face. “I love it when you do that…” he said proudly. She smiled knowingly.
“Do what?” she asked cheekily as she tilted her head to the side. He smirked back at her.
“When you say or do something that gives the impression that you hate them … it gives me shivers!” he said proudly. She laughed amusedly at his comment as she sat up on the bed.
“Of course I hate them – they ruined my life. Those people killed my family, and in the process, they killed me … well, the Hermione that they knew anyway…” she said sourly. “Why is it such a shock to you that I hate them?”
“It’s just … I never thought I’d see the day when Hermione Granger would turn against everyone she had fought so hard to protect. Sometimes I still don’t believe it – I think that your only here temporarily or that its some big farce. But when you talk like that – I know it’s real. You truly hate them. I love it when you say things like that…” he said darkly with the smallest impression of a smirk on his face.
“So … are you turned on by that?!” she asked smoothly in her own sweet and seductive manner. He smirked at her from across the room, put down the ointment and quickly crossed the room. Immediately he claimed her mouth and pushed his hand behind her hair to hold her to him. Her hands quickly found their way under his clothes and to his smooth skin. She didn’t care if he didn’t feel the same way – this was all she needed from him at the moment. His other hand moved down her body as he leaned forward and pressed her back against the bed. They moved fast and passionately. Touching, kissing and groping each other any chance they could. It wasn’t long before their clothes were completely removed and their hormones took control.
Hermione woke sometime later to find herself tucked under the blankets of the very empty bed. Her mind went into overdrive. She checked the bed quickly before she sat up and started scanning the room. Her eyes flew in all directions before they settled on a dark form sitting in her chair near the dresser, just staring at her.
“Draco?” she asked worriedly. What was he doing? Why was he sitting out of bed with only his black trunks to shield him from the cold? No answer came and so she asked again. “Draco, is that you?”
“Yes love, it’s me…” he answered quietly. His manner was unnerving Hermione. He was motionless but yet he still stared at her. She couldn’t read his expression for it was too dark in the room. As if read her thoughts, he snapped his fingers and the lamp on her dresser flicked on to light his corner of the room. Now she could see him perfectly. His expression was soft and thoughtful.
“Draco … what are you doing out of bed?” she asked in a non-accusing manner. She wasn’t angry or scared, just curious as to what made him get out of bed at this time. He let out a large sigh.
“Just thinking.” he answered. He wasn’t sharing with her. She didn’t want to push him.
“Can’t you think here in bed with me?” she asked awkwardly with a small grin crossing her face. A small smile flitted across his face but yet he remained motionless. Something must have been wrong. He was just so quiet and thoughtful – it was just so un-Draco of him. She wanted to make it better, whatever it was. “What are you thinking about?” she asked in all seriousness as obviously flirting was not going to work on coaxing him back into bed. As soon as she said it, his demeanour changed. His eyes weren’t glazed over any more, but staring straight at her. She was worried. Why was he acting so strangely? “Draco…?”
“I … I don’t know what I’m thinking … I thought for a moment … while I was watching you sleep … that … that…” he muttered softly. She cold barely hear what he was saying. She pulled the sheet from the bed and wrapped it around her naked body, before crossing the room and kneeling at his feet with both her hands on his knees.
“Draco, honey – what’s wrong?” she asked pleadingly. She wanted to help him, but she didn’t know how. His hand gently brushed the hair out of her face as he cupped her cheek, rubbing his thumb across her soft skin.
“I think … I think I … love you.” he stated quietly. It seemed like there was nothing else in the room. Did he really say that? Did he just tell Hermione that he loved her? She must have heard wrong. “I was watching you sleep, and you just looked so peaceful – and I couldn’t help it. With all the fighting that’s going on these days, I couldn’t help but think that ‘what if something happened to you?’” he started. When she couldn’t get him to talk before, now, all his thoughts and feelings were pouring out of him. “I realised that I felt something more than ‘like’ or ‘lust’ for you after we lost the baby. I remembered thinking that if something happened to you … I didn’t know what I’d do. I couldn’t just go back to being good old tomcatting me, not after having been through so much with you. You’ve changed me Hermione … I don’t know how you did it, but somehow – I’m not the same. And I know that if you went away – I’d never be the same again.”
Hermione was reeling in shock. He admitted it. Her heart soared while her mind boggled. It was just this morning that she had been thinking the same thing about him, and the only thing that had been holding her back was his possible rejection of her feelings. But that wasn’t a problem anymore.
“Hermione, say something, please…” he asked. She could sense the fear of rejection in his voice and gaze. No, she wouldn’t be the one to break Draco Malfoy’s heart. Not when he’d poured it out. His beautiful words.
“I love you too…” she stated simply as her gaze went up to meet his. He didn’t jump for joy or recite more beautiful words for her. He didn’t say a word. Instead, he leaned down and planted a tender kiss on her lips. The fire in his heart roared furiously as she melted into his embrace. He had laid himself out on the line for her, physically and emotionally – and here they were. They were complete.
Author’s Note: Sooo … who’s happy? I know I am. I know that you’ve all been waiting for this chapter for ages, and finally – here it is. “Finally” the people cry! Of course, you all know how I work … the honeymoon period of happiness can only last for a short time before it turns horrible. After all – we have the war coming. You’ll never guess what I’ve got planned for that! You’ll all be amazed at my brilliance! Ok, starting to sound up myself, huh? I’ll stop then. Leave me a note!
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