Chapter 2 : Hot baths and Cold showers
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Nobody could ever say that Hermione Granger was unforgiving. It could also never be said that she couldn't roll with the punches. She had, in fact, rolled with so many punches as of late that she was dreadfully close to being knocked out.
And here she was, sat again in front of her peers, being asked to roll again.
"Miss Granger, I'm afraid we have yet another favour to ask of you this term" Dumbledore said quietly while sat opposite her at his desk.
Hermione cringed inwardly at those words. The feeling she received told her this was not something she would enjoy. She remembered being in the same place not too long ago when they'd asked her aid with Malfoy. She'd been called to Hogwarts for a special meeting. Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore were all there.
It was then she found out about Draco's condition and her place in the scheme of it all. She'd argued that a Slytherin would be more useful. One of his friends even. But they'd pointed out the fact that some of Draco's friends were of the same breeding and could easily turn on him. No, they wanted to put his life in her hands.
Her Mudblood hands.
They urged her to give it a chance. They told her that despite his upbringing, the new death of his father had changed his views. Coupled with his paralysis, Draco was now forging a new path and a new destiny. His hatred of his father brought about the ability to see past what lies he'd been taught about pure-blood and half-blood differences.
“So you want to use me as a guinea pig. You want to see if he can handle being around me?”
That had been her response to which the had all nodded. She'd agreed and now here she was sitting again.
"Another favour?" she asked.
"This afternoon Mister Malfoy had a bit of an accident." Professor McGonagall said quietly.
"Is he alright?" Hermione blinked twice, the honest concern that she felt surprised not only herself but the others in the room.
"Yes, he's fine. Although I believe his ego will be deflated if word of this gets out. I would trust you to kept this silent. He's quite embarrassed" Dumbledore's quip about Malfoy's ego made Hermione smile slightly.
"What on earth did he do?" her curiosity was peaking,"If it's only bruising his ego then I don't think I want to fluff it up again."
"If it was that simple, you wouldn't be here.” Snape said with a hiss, “ The truth is he almost drowned in the bathtub," It was probably one of the strangest sentences he'd ever said to a student.
"Drowned..in the bathtub?" she could hear the disbelief in her voice, "How did he manage that?" A random giggle escaped her lips at the picture that was evolving in her mind.
"This is not a laughing matter Miss Granger! I would have expected a different reaction from you of all people" the voice set Hermione's spine straight and the humorous image disappeared. Hermione and given her so many chances to excel at the things she loved.
"I didn't mean to be disrespectful. It's just not something you hear everyday" Hermione swallowed quietly, "I just never expected something like that."
"Perhaps we should tie your legs together and see how well you do getting in and out of the Head bath." McGonagall seemed to be particularly cranky and her words were surprising.
"I don't think that will be necessary. I'm sorry." Hermione looked at the Headmaster, "So what exactly is this new favour?"
"We need you to assist Malfoy when he's getting out of the bath" Dumbledore seemed distressed to even say the words, "I know it's not a usual request but this is an unusual matter. We believed that you would be mature enough to handle this."
"NO WAY IN... !"
---Friday----Two weeks later---
It had been two weeks, well almost two weeks, since the meeting. She and Malfoy had argued for hours over the request. He'd winced and pretended to vomit, she'd hidden in her room trying to find an alternative way around it. Neither did much good.
In the end they'd decided to bathe together. They both owned bathing suits, they both could ignore each other while in confined spaces. They'd had tons of practice at that even before being Heads. As for the bathing, it was relatively simplistic. Helping him in and out wasn't hard, she was more like a lifeguard on duty.
But today was going to be nothing like the past two weeks. She'd been dared, by Ginny of course, to try something different. Hermione knew it had been a mistake telling Ginny about the bathing from the start but she'd needed an ear. Living with Malfoy was very stressful and letting out in a rant to a friend brought her to a relaxing place.
"Malfoy?" she called out while knocking on his door,"Malfoy?" she knocked louder and paused before touching the door handle. Was he possibly still asleep? Preparing to take a look, she halted as her ears caught a muffled noise followed by a growl. Obviously he'd just woken up. Another pause revealed a shriek and a stream of abuse at the alarm clock. A laugh escaped on it's own terms letting him know she was outside his door.
Without hesitating she opened the door, "Yes, Master?"
He glared at her but with his morning bed hair the glare only made her laugh more."Are you just going to stand there or are you going to help me out of this bed?"
She covered up her snickering and nodded. After settling him in his chair she wheeled him over to the bathroom. Oddly enough the bathroom was one of Hermione's favourite. It was beautiful, carved out of marble and decorated with shimmering dragon scales. The bath was enchanted and changed the water colour with the mood of the person in it. Hermione loved settling into the warm water and falling asleep. It helped her mind slow down and allowed some peace given the insanity surrounding her.
"Now if you don't mind Granger, turn around. I have to change" Malfoy's smirk returned, "Unless you want to watch? I'm sure you've peeked more than once already.”
Hermione flushed and turned her back to him. To aid him, since he couldn't stand, he had been taught a series of dressing spells. She couldn't imagine what he'd do if he was a muggle, having someone to dress you like a child.
"You can turn around now," the usual bite to his tone echoing off the bathroom walls.
She'd turned just in time to see him perform the simple, or what he made look simple, manoeuvre from chair to bath. They'd installed some bars, just like they had above his bed, to aid him in the task. With the way he used them, you'd never have guessed he wasn't a natural cripple.
It was rather eerie how he seemed perfectly at ease with the ways he had to get around. She'd seen him upset at the smallest of things growing up. He'd cried and ran off whenever he'd received the smallest scratch or bruise. But here he was, a serious injury and he didn't show a thing. His arm muscles tensed as he settled into the warm soapy water.
“Is the water alright?” she asked quietly.
“Yep,” he said, the water turning a nice shade of sky blue as he closed his eyes and relaxed, “Do you have to come in?” he groaned, the water turning slightly purple.
"I could leave but sadly I do need to bathe," she saw his lips move to speak and she interrupted, "Yes I do bathe and Yes! I do wash my hair! You've seen me do it."
“Remarkable how you know what I'm thinking,” he said with a snort.
"You are impossible at times! It's a wonder anyone even likes you!" she said with a sigh. She tugged lightly on the robe tied around her waist. Perhaps this was a bad idea. She was going to kill Ginny.
"No one likes me" he said quietly. Words that quite surprised her as they seemed almost like they belonged more to an outcast school boy then to Malfoy.
"Don't give me that. You've got a bigger following than Jesus Christ!" she put her towel down on a chair before taking her pony tail out.
"People are attracted to my money and my family's reputation, that has nothing to do with me," Draco splashed the water gently and grabbed a handful of bubbles,"If I was to drown not a single person would care. They'd all be at my funeral but only because they'd want to show off the fact they knew me." the water turned a murky brown as Draco sank into it up to his nose.
Hermione's mouth dropped open like a fish, "You must've had a really bad dream or a really bad night last night. That sounds almost depressing.”
Draco popped his mouth up out of the brown water"Admit it, you'd be glad to get rid of me.”
"Wow! this is something I never thought I'd see" she said with her hands on her hips.
"What?" he said quietly.
"A Malfoy..acting like a common muggle," she untied her robe and with a deep breath pushed it off her shoulders and tossed it onto the same chair as her towel, " A pity party is something I didn't think a Malfoy was capable of. I thought you'd never sink low enough to actually whine about something other than how you're stuck around us Mudbloods.” she tested the water with her toes and knelt down to sit on the edge while immersing both legs in the water.
“I thought we weren't using that word,” he said, looking back at her, “Holy Shit!” he coughed, swallowing a mouthful of bathwater, “What is that!”
“A bathing suit, I misplaced mine.” she said simply, looking down at her bare skin barely covered by Ginny's red bikini, “It's nothing to really freak out over.”
“But you have skin.” he said blinking rapidly.
“We all do Malfoy.” Hermione laughed and slid into the water. With both of them in there the water was normally a deep black from the conflicting emotions. But at the moment, it seemed to be turning a bright red, “Odd.” she said with a shrug,"Are you going to wash your hair? We don't have much time" she asked.
He didn't reply.
"Has the water clogged your ears again?" using her hands she sent a spray in his general direction, “What's with you? You've suddenly got quiet.” she splashed him again.
What ensued next was something that would probably fit under the categories of unusually disturbing and altogether marvellous. Hermione Granger found herself splashed straight back. A playful grin crossing Malfoy's featured as he eyed her over, “You'll loose Granger. You always do.” Those words began the rather nasty and large water fight that soaked the floors, walls and even ceiling of their bathroom. .
"We're going to be late,” Hermione squealed, as she made her way over to the side of the tub where Malfoy was sitting, "Let's do something about that hair." she filled her hand with shampoo and splashed it down onto his head.
"Hey! Watch my eyes!" he moaned. Draco could have easily thrown her off but she seemed to be having far too much fun playing with his hair. Who was he to stop her? Plus, he also was almost afraid to touch her. Everywhere was open skin and it wasn't speckled, slimy or scaled. It was creamy and touchable. Draco knew if he put his hands anywhere on her, it would be too tempting to see what it tasted like.
"Aww shush you big baby," she lathered the soap into his hair, amazed at how thick it actually was in comparison to how thin it normally looked. Massaging his scalp she moved her hands from the front of his head to the back and down his neck, gently working the soap into his base of his hair.
Oh gods, this was Granger!..To make matters even worse she was too busy concentrating on his hair to notice the position they were in. Her knees straddled his useless legs and her cleavage rested at eye level. A delicious sight for any man..wizard or muggle.
"Umm..Granger. I think it's washed" his voice came out rather squeaky
"Yep..now to rinse" she unceremoniously dumped a rinsing bucket full of water over his head.
"All clean!" she giggled and moved off to wash her own hair.
Right..all clean. He actually felt rather dirty at the moment, given the thoughts in his mind Reaching up he grabbed the metal bar above his head and with a strong pull he lifted his body out of the water. Turning around to gauge his distance to the safety of the floor, he didn't fancy falling.
"Careful," Hermione said as she rinsed her hair. That simple movement caused the breath to pause in his lungs, she looked so different with her hair wet and straight. It glistened beautifully when wet. She really had no idea how alluring she was at that moment. Alluring and innocent.
Draco's mind wandered and it was beginning to show in his swimming trunk. He panicked, it wasn't something he wanted her to see especially when alone together. There wasn't even a woman he could blame it on, “Crap,” he mumbled as he decided to quickly dunk back into the bath. Letting go of the bar he splashed back into the water. In his haste, he hadn't given time to catch the rim of the tub and found himself once again underwater.
"Malfoy!" she reached into the water, using all her strength to pull him up out of the water ,"For a man who boasts such strength you sure are a klutz" she had the most bewildered look upon her face and her grip on his torso was almost suffocating. Had he scared her?
"Well I can blame you for this,” he said with a growl.
“Me!”she yelped, “I wasn't anywhere near you.”
“Don't think I was born yesterday Granger. I know all about your little plot.” he said with a laugh, “Surprising but no thanks, I'm not interested.”
Hermione contemplated letting him go, “What are you talking about? Did you bang your head and loosen something in there?”
“Me! Look at you! Look at what you're wearing!” he smirked, “Misplaced your bathing suit indeed. You couldn't misplace anything even if you tried.”
“I...” she flushed.
“Admit it Granger. You're showing off for me.”
"As if! " she let go of his waist suddenly, backing off.
“Oi!” he grinned, grabbing the side of the bathtub, “Take a look at the colour of the water. Sort out what it means yourself.” he splashed some of the bright red water her way.
“I know what red means. But seeing as we're both in her, I can assume it's a mutual feeling.” she stood up, adjusting the bathing suit and stepping out of the bath.
“I'm a man. It'd be mutual to any woman in a bikini.” he grabbed the bar and hauled his body out, placing it back down into the chair. “You on the other hand...” he grinned, “I'm flattered.”
“Don't be.” she said with a shrug, “I'd assume as I feel nothing towards the matter that the water reflected you more than me. Dominant emotions rule.”
“That is bullshit and you know it Granger. Clashing emotions make the water turn black.” he shrugged as he picked up his wand and dried his body off, “And with the brightness of that red, I'd say the lust was mutual.”
Hermione quickly put her robe back on and laughed, “I'd never fantasize about you.”
"Oh Granger, I do love winding you up. Getting your knickers in a twist is half the fun of my day" it was true, he did relish the time he had to torment her.
Hermione winced, "Malfoy. you and my knickers will never be in the same sentence again"
“Oh really?” he replied, “We'll see.”
"See you tonight, Malfoy" she said leaving to get dressed.
His reply was a simple wink and then silence as he wheeled out of the room.
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