Author's Note: Ah, hello all my little ones. Yes, yes, I come bearing the fruits of my four hour labor at this keyboard. For all those wondering at any point in time when updates are coming or whom are looking for sneak peeks or just wondering where I have been and what I am doing or a multitude of other things (including a dance dictionary that is in the works) please visit my personal website. The link is nice and handy there on my author's page.
For all interested fans, a new series that I am extremely fond of will be published after this chapter is validated. It is quite an adventure; a work I am extremely proud of. It is titled "Atonement" and for all fans of my work, you will not be dissapointed. You can find out more on my website. In fact, the new website layout is themed to this series ^_-
This story was nominated in the Dangerous Liasons Awards, again, you can find out information on my website and if you are a fan I would love your support! I will post (ha ha, again on my personal website) how you can vote for this story as soon as I find out ^_^ So check back in there as often as you can.
Thank you for all your incredible support thus far, It's rather overwhelming the amount of reviews you all leave and they are all so positive and uplifting. I do answer all of them. Always. So please make sure you check back in to see my reply ^_^
I shall now stop blathering because I'm sure you'll want to be getting to the whole reading part. *closes mouth*
At first Hermione was numb to the invasion he was raging on her. Her hands drifted up to his shoulders as he pulled her back upright and against him, her leg dropping from his waist. They were three paces form the mirrored wall; three paces that were covered in moments as he pushed her against the reflective glass, his hands braced with fingers spread on the cool surface on either side of her head. The kiss was over before her mind had completely come to grips with the fact that it was happening at all. He released her lips, his head dropping and his breath racing. For a few moments he did not move his hands from her waist and there was but a sliver of space between them. A torturous, tempting, sliver of space.
Hermione exhaled, realizing she had pressed herself tightly up against the mirror. Even her hands were splayed against it now. She couldn’t move because she greatly feared the closing of that gap. She stayed as immobile as possible for as long as possible. She remained so as he turned from her and put his forehead against the mirror on her right, his fist thudding into it with frustration. He turned so his back was pressed against it and then slid to the floor. His arms draped over his bent knees and his head leant back against the cool, reflective, glass. He closed his eyes as he fought to return his breath to a normal rate.
He finally raised his eyes to hers and she felt as if someone was slowly dumping a pail of warm water over her head. It tingled as it, whatever it was, made it‘s way down her arms and into her fingers, then over her hips and finally it pooled at her toes. Her legs gave way beneath her and she slid down the mirror, landing next to him.
“Why,” his eyes closed and he appeared to be fighting some great inner turmoil, “Why did you go to him last night?” His face was resting against the mirror, his chest still rising and falling rapidly.
“You’re jealous,” she gasped in sudden understanding. She fell back, throwing her arm over her eyes, trying to hide from his intense scrutiny.
There was silence for a few agonizingly long moments before he finally responded in a quiet voice, “This isn’t going to go away, is it?”
She didn’t know how to answer. “Truthfully,” she said in a moment of desperation. Perhaps the truth was the best course. “I’m terrified,” she admitted the cast her eyes downward towards her hands.
He moved closer to her and she watched mutely as his hands curled around hers. “Truthfully,” he said softly. “I am too.”
She turned her face away at his words, but he would not relinquish his hold on her hands. “I know you and I have never enjoyed each other’s company, or even been civil to each other, but there’s something about you that is driving me crazy. There’s these stupid little things that you do that haunt me all day. I was sure for seven years that I had you pinned and now I suddenly can see how very wrong I was. You’re the most complex-”
“-you don’t know me, Draco,” she interrupted.
“I think I want to.” It was a hard thing to come to grips with for him.
She indignantly wrenched her hands from his. “You think!?”
Before she could work herself into a tizzy he placed a hand on the side of her face and pulled her lips against his. She stopped all protesting instantly.
“Yes,” he said hoarsely. “I think I do. The only thing I am sure of right now is that I should not. All I know is I’ve always been a bloody selfish bastard and that will never change and for some unexplainable reason I want you and I will have you. I want to know why my blood burned like it did last night when I saw you with Potter.”
She shook her head. “Everyone-”
Draco was on his feet. “To bloody hell with ‘everyone’! Since when do you care about ‘everyone’, Hermione Granger?”
“Since being with you has forced me to imagine what my life would be like in such a case!” She too rose to her feet. “Don’t you understand what would happen if you and I were together?”
“You’re right.” His threw his hands to the side. “Why would I want to be with someone who is going to throw me to the wolves like that?”
“My friends would never speak to me again,” she said softly.
“Because they’ve been treating you so well lately,” he said sarcastically, crossing his arms against his chest.
“You are in no place to be casting judgment on those who are cruel to others,” she declared.
He turned away from her. “I’m going to tell Dianna you need to be paired with me in class; to further your tutoring.”
“What?” she gasped indignantly. “Why would you do that?”
His moved from where he was leaning against the mirror and settled his hands on her hips. “Because I want to dance with you and you won’t do it any other way.” She felt that odd water feeling creeping over her again. “Because I want to be around you and because I told you, I’m selfish.”
That line of thought should not only have offended her sensibilities, but frightened her, however, it accomplished neither. “What will everyone say?” she wondered.
“That you’re lucky?” He smirked. “If I hear the whispering correctly in class.” He stepped away from her. “Or perhaps you’re worried about offending your current partner? I understand he’s a . . master… at catching you when we dip in the salsa. If you want I’ll curse him so he is unable to participate in class and your conscience can be free for getting a new partner.”
“He’s only dropped me twice,” she blushed.
He came at her quickly, grabbing her around the waist and throwing her backwards. “Yes,” he said. “But you see, I’ve never dropped anyone.” He pulled her back up, spun her away from him and then walked towards the radio as if nothing had just happened. “I think we’ve done enough practice today. How about we go back to the common room?” He picked up his bag from where it had landed when he had thrown it earlier and then looked at her expectantly.
She swallowed the lump that had grown in her throat. “To .. Go back to the common room… to do what?” she finally managed.
He laughed at her frightened expression. “I’m going to ravish you, of course,” he smirked. She inhaled audibly and her fingers tightened around her dance bag’s handles. He laughed again. “How about a cup of hot chocolate?” he said with one quirked eyebrow.
She relaxed a little. “That sounds fine.”
“Yes,” he laughed at her back as she walked through the door before him. “No mad ravaging of innocent girls in our common room.”
If at all possible she blushed even darker.
“So your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas?” she asked in honest shock. He set a third cup of hot chocolate next to her and settled into the armchair slightly to her left. They were curled up in the cushions of their own couches before a crackling fire, sipping hot chocolate and talking. She couldn’t decide if she was more shocked at the fact that he was a good conversationalist, speaking to her like a human being, or that he made exceptional hot chocolate.
“Never have,” he sighed into his cup. “My father isn’t the type to ‘deck the halls’ or ‘trim the boughs’.” He said dryly, looking over his rim at her with smoldering eyes. She swallowed hard.
“It was the biggest celebration of the year in my family,” she said softly, casting her eyes on the fire instead of his face. She was still a bit weary at his suddenly easy attitude and couldn’t manage to tell if he was being sarcastic to make her laugh, or to make fun of her. Her mind was still incapable of grasping the idea of sitting here sipping chocolate with Malfoy.
“Your father sounds like a prick,” Draco concluded, setting his cup down. “And your mother doesn’t sound like she has all her priorities straight either.”
She sniffed into her cup. That may be true, but she still loved them. “They’re my parents,” she protested.
“That doesn’t mean they don’t screw up,” he said. “Just because they gave birth to someone like you doesn’t elevate them to the status of all knowing gods. They’re still muggles,” he finished contemptuously.
Her cup almost slipped from between her fingers. “What?” she turned to him. “I’m a muggle, Draco. At least, I’m muggle born. That’s half of who I am.”
Realizing his blight Draco was silent for a moment, his eyes towards the floor. “I’m sorry,” he finally concluded. “Half of who I am has been taught to hate half of who you are.”
She set her cup on the table and stood. “Thank you for the drink, Draco. I’m going to head to bed now.” She didn’t wait for an answer as she disappeared up the staircase and the echo of the click of her closing door echoed down to him.
He sat silently before the fire for a few moments, thinking on her response to what he had done to her in the dance room. His thoughts were interrupted by a loud clicking on the window to the far side of the room. He set his cup down on the side table, next to her half full one, and made his way cautiously to the other side of the common room, drawing his wand as he walked. He stopped abruptly as the creature on the other side of the glass came into view.
“Desdemona?” He pocketed his wand as he reached for the window vise. The large falcon flew into the room and deposited a letter on the table, threw him a glare and then took flight out the window again. He picked up the piece of parchment with a wary hand. Desdemona was his mother’s falcon, but she had been taken away from his mother when his father had ordered her not be allowed to send correspondence to anyone. He especially would not want her sending correspondence to their son. This did not deter Draco and he still wrote in the hopes that his mother saw at least the letters addressed to her and knew he was still writing, whether she was able to read them or not.
Draco sat down carefully and looked at the seal pressed into the letter. It was hurried and looked as if the wax had not had time to dry before it was quickly hidden. He was frightened to open it. After a few moments of adjusting to the idea and thinking through every possible thing that could be in the letter, he slipped his fingers beneath the wax and unfolded the heavy parchment. He was not expecting the desperate plea he found inside.
His mother wanted him to come home.
“Ron, honestly, slow down!” Ginny was scampering after her older brother with an armload of books. He, on the other hand, had nothing in his hands, yet ignored the small girl beside him and her load.
“Ron! Quit being an arse.” Harry turned to Ginny and took some of the books from her arms and then chucked one of the smaller ones at the back of his best friend’s head. Ron finally stopped and turned around to look at them, one hand rubbing the back of his head and an angered, annoyed, expression across his face. His black eye had melted into a dim circle that made him look a little sick rather than the victim of a beating. “Your sister was calling you.”
“What do you want Ginny?” Ron growled, his eyes still riveted on his best friend.
“I just thought you’d like to know that the prefects are proposing a winter dance, for the Christmas holidays, and are presenting it to the heads at tomorrow’s meeting.”
“And? Why the bloody hell would I care?”
Ginny huffed and picked her thrown book up from the ground. “If you weren’t such a pigheaded arse you’d appreciate it and take the chance to ask Hermione to go with you and fix what you’ve done to your friendship.” Ginny turned on her heel and set off in the opposite direction without a backwards glance.
“Did you really have to throw a book at my head?” Ron asked as Harry set in step beside him.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a few weeks now actually,” he shrugged.
“You think I should do it?” Ron asked.
“Ask her to the dance?”
Harry stopped walking, Hermione’s affirmation that she wanted nothing of the romantic sort to do with their friend ringing in his mind. It was an underhanded thing to do, but Harry couldn’t bear the thought of her falling for Malfoy, and thought the best way to prevent that, despite what he had said to her, was to push his pigheaded best friend to convince the girl she didn’t want Malfoy. “Yes, you should ask her. Maybe Ginny’s right and it will fix all of this.”
Ron smiled for the first time in days. “Feel like some butterbeer?” he asked, slinging an arm over his friend’s shoulder.
They were running along the edge of cliff that hugged tightly to a large lake, laughing loudly. Ron and Ginny were perched beneath the large oak off the embankment and a ten year old Harry was before her in the water up to his knees, his hands digging around in the mud.
“Careful,” she declared.
“Or the lake monster might get you,” Draco’s voice came from behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw the startling figure of a seventeen year old. He was leaning casually against the rocks, his arms crossed. She turned to look back at Harry but he was suddenly gone and cold fingers were wrapped tightly around her arms.
She was scared for a fleeting moment before she turned around and the fingers suddenly warmed and she saw Harry’s laughing face. “Scared yah, didn’t I?”
Hermione sighed in relief. “Yes, you did.”
He was now walking along the rock edge, teetering ever so as the breeze picked up. “You remember how we went to that beach last summer and I told you I couldn’t swim?”
She laughed. “Yes. I still don’t believe you.”
He smiled. He obviously could swim, but liked to joke with her. “I really can’t,” he said with large eyes.
She laughed and gave him a gentle shove, but he lost his balance and tottered backwards over the edge.
Time suddenly stood still and the clear calm summer day was gone. She found that she was no longer watching the ten year old Harry fall, but the seventeen year old, his eyes closed. The air became thick and static. Dark masses of cloud rolled overhead and the wind become suddenly violent. It was quickly growing dark. The lake surface was freezing slowly, the crystals forming like icy fingers crawling over the waves as they hardened, and she found that she was no longer ten either.
"HARRY!" she screamed, her long hair whipping her in the face. His body met the frozen lake with a sickening crash, his head falling backwards and tiny tendrils cracking around him from the impact. "Harry!” she screamed again, but he did not move and the world began to rotate around her like a top. She was instantly no longer standing by a lake, but in a dark forest.
"Hermione!" she heard a male's voice calling to her. "HERMIONE!"
In a panic she turned in an entire circle, trying to find her path, any path; which way to go.
"Hermione!" They screamed in agony. She choked back tears and took off towards what she hoped was the source of the voice. She could hardly see where she was running and her clothes kept getting caught on the twigs that groped for her in the darkness. She was running blindly towards their voice; their agony filled moans.
There was a sudden moment where her feet stopped moving and she nearly collided with a large tree before her. The wetness on her cheeks stung in the cold air as she sniffed and drew a ragged breath.
"Hermione!" she heard again, but just as she started towards the voice once more, another, different, cry arose from the opposite direction. "HERMIONE!"
Torn between the two voices, she walked three steps in one direction and three in the other and wound up in one large tangle of feet and exasperated confusion. She sank to the ground, her hands rising to her face and tears threatening to spill over.
"Hermione,” a voice whispered in her ear.
She jumped, startled, and shot to her feet, turning around quickly, but no one was there.
"Hermione." The whisper said in her other ear. She could feel their breath dance across her skin and turned abruptly, but again there was no one behind her.
She wrapped her arms around herself as she began to shake, in the distance she heard another agonized scream; "HERMIONE!"
"Hermione, are you afraid?" The whisper was in both ears now and she cried out in alarm and jumped almost clear across the small glade she was standing in.
The voice laughed, this time in the distance, and she turned slowly to find herself standing about ten feet away from a dark black robed figure, their face hidden within the folds of their cloak. She couldn't find her voice.
"Cat got you're tongue?" The voice hissed at her, echoing around the clearing, neither distinctively male or female. She could hear every voice of every person she had ever known in that sound. She could hear Ron, Harry, Ginny, their professors, Draco, everyone within that one voice.
"Who are you?" she whispered into the darkness.
They laughed and their voice became distinctively Draco. "I'm you're worst nightmare," they said.
She whimpered in fear as her hand rose to her mouth and they took a step towards her.
"I'm everything you've ever hated," they said in Harry’s voice. "Everything you've ever loved," they said in Ginny's voice. "and everything you will ever loose," they said in that powerful mixed voice again.
"What do you want?!" she screamed the question through her fear and over the calling of her name in the distance. The callers were getting closer, their shrieking growing louder and more painful.
The figure stepped closer to her and slowly reached up to pull down their hood, revealing a haggard and drawn face that sent her crashing to her knees. "You're time is coming, Hermione." Ron hissed at her.
She couldn't raise her eyes to the disgusting figure before her. She couldn't make her voice leave her throat. Her hands were clenched so tightly into fists that the right hand had begun to bleed of nail marks.
There was a sharp cry next to her and she turned and looked down only to see Harry's body strewn out next to her, blood dripping from the corner of his mouth and one eye disfigured and closed, a motley of black and blue. She shrieked in fright and fell backwards, her hands landing on soft flesh. She whipped around and her hands flew to cover her mouth as a scream fell from her lips.
"Hermione," Draco gasped, his gruesome hand reaching for her.
She scuttled backwards on her hands, trying to get away from their gazes, but stopped as they touched slick shoes. She looked up, only to find the cloaked figure, it's cloak back over it's face, standing above her. She shot to her feet and realized tears were streaming down her cheeks.
They extended a hand that she never got a good look at, for it was quickly around her neck, squeezing tightly. "Time is running out,” they said. "Time has just begun," It squeezed tighter and she gasped, her hands instinctively rising to cover it's and try to loosen their hold.
"Hermione!” a distant voice called. "Hermione!"
She was gasping by now, the world dizzily spinning out of control. The figure holding her laughed and it was Ron's laugh at first, and then Draco’s deep laugh.
It couldn't be Draco’s laugh, however, because that was Draco’s voice calling to her. . .
Her mind began to slip away as it tried to find oxygen and failed. Her body stopped moving and her hands slipped from the figure's. It let her go and she began to fall backwards, only she never met the ground, she kept falling and falling until she jerked away, mid scream, in Draco’s arms.
"Hermione," he said in a tight voice. "Hermione, bloody hell, Hermione wake up."
Suddenly all the mobility returned to her and she sat bolt upright into Draco’s chest, her arms thrown around his neck and her breath coming in gasps.
"Bloody Hell," Draco cursed as she tried to catch her breath. Her face was sticky with tears and at the acute pain in her hand she stretched it out before her to find four deep crescent moon shaped cuts in her palm. She pushed away from his grasp as she tried to reorient herself with her surroundings. “I fell asleep on the couch. I woke up to hear you screaming. You wouldn’t wake up at first, you scared the bloody shit out of me.”
“Merlin, Draco,” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him again. Without even thinking about it he wrapped his arms tightly around her. This movement sent them off balance and they toppled over, she landing half on-half off him and content to remain so as she buried her face in his black tee shirt.
He rest a comforting hand on her head. “Don’t move,” he whispered to the darkness around them.
“Thank you, Draco,” she turned her face deeper into the folds of his clothing. “Hold me tighter,” she whispered.
And this was the beginning of Draco and Hermione.
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