Chapter 11 : Ghosts of the Past
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Hermione sat in Transfiguration the following morning with her stomach in knots. She was miserable, and felt more depressed and dirtier than she had ever felt in her entire life. This was despite the two hour long bath she had taken the night before, after dragging herself miserably away from Draco and the library. Throughout the lesson, her eyes drifted two rows in front, floating constantly between a sleek pale blonde head and a ruffled, dark one. She could not believe she had let it happen, and as much as she cursed Draco, Hermione knew most of the blame rested with her. She had been feeling so vulnerable and confused about Blaise, and wanted to feel loved and reassured, and Draco had been a willing participant in the process. Hermione watched as Draco leant close to Blaise and whispered in his ear, wishing she knew what they were talking about when Blaise grinned and whispered something back. They had obviously patched up their friendship. Tears filled her eyes suddenly at the realization that she had cheated on Blaise with Draco. The irony of the situation was not lost on her, and Hermione had to bite her lip to stop a hysterical giggle flying from her mouth. She stared at the back of Blaise’s head, blinking rapidly to stop the tears flowing down her face.
When class ended, Hermione packed up her things with lightning speed, fobbing off Harry and Ron’s pleas for help, racing from the room as fast as she could. She was in the hall when a strong hand caught her arm. Blaise pulled her into him swiftly, planting a quick kiss on her forehead, her stomach dropping into her shoes at the touch of his lips. Hermione’s face burnt as she locked eyes with Draco, who was standing a little behind Blaise, watching her with a small smile on his face. She swallowed, feeling incredibly sick.
“You okay?” Blaise asked, his voice dripping with concern, and she nodded weakly, muttering a lie about missing breakfast. “Look, Hermione, I’m sorry about the other night. You just caught me at a bad time. I’d had a shit day, and I know I shouldn’t have taken it out on you, but ... I am sorry, okay? The last five days have been horrible without you. I’ve changed my mind about the break. Can we talk, later, about us?”
“Yes,” Hermione whispered instantly, her chest tight. Blaise smiled and squeezed her, pulling her into a hug that lifted her feet from the ground. Hermione watched Draco over her boyfriends shoulder, noticing the flash of jealousy in his silver eyes and the tension etched around his mouth, and her body was flooded with guilt for the millionth time since she woke up that morning. She pulled away from Blaise, forcing a smile onto her face, running her hands down his chest lightly, trying not to crumble with shame. In the background, Draco sighed audibly.
“Get a room, you two,” he drawled, and Hermione scowled at him, her eyes flashing a warning, which the blonde pointedly ignored. Blaise rolled his eyes at his friend irritably, and Draco shrugged delicately, looking bored. Blaise sighed, reaching up to touch her face gently.
“Blaise…” she whispered, feeling her knees start to buckle as she looked into his eyes. Her head swam and her stomach flopped over, and she swallowed, feeling her insides begin to disintegrate.
“I’ve got to go. Meet me later tonight; the usual spot,” he said softly, and Hermione nodded. He cupped her chin and kissed her sweetly before walking off down the hall, leaving her standing with Draco. Her ex was leaning against the wall with casual elegance. He smiled and winked at her, and Hermione scowled. She took a step closer to him, her temper rising.
“Don’t you dare,” she hissed in reproach, and he laughed, pushing his silky blonde hair out of his eyes.
“Why would I say anything, Granger? I’m not stupid,” he said softly, his eyes travelling over her body, his head titled to one side as he studied her. “I have to admit, I’d forgotten what you kept hidden under those robes.”
“Asshole,” Hermione spat, glowering at him. “I thought you said you loved me? You have a funny way of showing it.”
Draco scowled, pushing himself off the wall. He grabbed her arm, ignoring her protest, dragging her a short distance down the hall and marching her into an empty classroom. “I thought you said you wanted me,” he snapped, pushing her into the room. Hermione spun to face him, annoyed, breathing heavily. Draco closed the door behind him, locking it, before turning to her, anger written in every line of his body. Hermione folded her arms over her chest as he came towards her, her chin held high, determined not to let him see how much he unsettled her.
“Do you think this is easy for me, Hermione?”
“Yes,” she answered simply in a low voice.
Draco laughed softly, reaching out to touch her face in much the same way Blaise had just minutes before. Hermione recoiled, moving out of his reach and he sighed. “It’s not. Do you think I like seeing you with someone else? Do you think I like this … whatever the fuck is going on here? I want you, Granger, and I know you want me. The only reason you have not dumped him is you feel guilty for what we did, even if he is doing the same thing behind your back.”
“You don’t know that,” Hermione snapped.
“Have you asked him then?”
“No,” she admitted, feeling her face heat up. “I’m not sure I want to know, but even if he did cheat on me, we’re even now, aren’t we?”
“Strange logic, considering …”
“Considering what, Draco?”
“Considering you are going to meet me tonight,” he said firmly.
“Fuck off,” Hermione snapped, watching his eyes widen. He stepped closer to her, reaching out and enfolding her in his arms before she could prevent it. His hands rested low on her hips and she blushed, remembering the way his hands felt against her skin, how soft and silky they were. His fingers dug into her flesh slightly, making her wince. Draco looked at her, his eyes piercing into her skull, making her feel heated and watery. He smirked.
“That’s quiet a mouth you’ve got there, Granger, but I already know what it can do so …”
Hermione drew back her hand and slapped him swiftly across the face, watching him pale in shock, before he smiled and rubbed his cheek gently, his fingers caressing his skin. She shuddered, fuming, trying not to think about what those long skilled fingers did to her body the previous night, and how, even now, she was feeling flushed and tense, wanting him to touch her again, wanting him to make her groan with pleasure.
“Nine o’clock, outside Snape’s dungeon,” Draco said simply, his eyes trained on her face. Hermione shook her head, hating him.
“I’m seeing Blaise,” she stated, and he shrugged.
“Make something up.”
“I won’t go,” she hissed.
“You will, because you want to. I know you, remember. You like the thrill of almost being caught. Filch, your half-witted friends or some ruddy Prefect is nothing compared to your boyfriend, is it?” Draco whispered in her ear, his soft, warm breath causing her to close her eyes as her blood began to boil. He chuckled when she shuddered, nipping at her ear with his teeth, his arms tightening around her as she stumbled, her knees giving way. “We need to talk. Besides, you asked me to find you a bed.”
“I hate you,” Hermione whispered, close to tears as her guilt came flooding back, drowning her in self-loathing. Draco kissed her, gently and tenderly, stroking loose strands of hair back from her face.
“No, you don’t,” he whispered against her lips. “Part of you still loves me.”
At eight o’clock, Hermione paced her dorm, wringing her hands and muttering to herself. Her roommates were all preoccupied with something, be it the library, gossiping in the Common Room, or sneaking around with their boyfriends. At eight thirty, Hermione threw herself down on her bed, burying her face in her pillow, willing herself not the cry, or scream, or throw-up. At eight forty-five, she slowly climbed off her bed, wandering into the bathroom to check her reflection. She scowled at her pale skin and watery eyes. Growling hateful words about a certain blonde-haired Slytherin, Hermione turned on the taps, cupping her hands and catching a generous amount of icy water, dousing her face and neck.
“I despise you,” she hissed at her reflection, thinking again of Draco and his smug smirks. Not bothering to change out of her school uniform, Hermione made her way down the stairs and slipped out of the Common Room before anyone could notice her. She walked briskly through the halls, chewing her lip, thinking. She was going to tell Draco to leave her alone. She was going to tell him that she was staying with Blaise and wanted nothing to do with him. She was going to tell him it was all a mistake, and that it would never happen again. She was going to tell him she hated him. The door to Snape’s dungeon was closed and locked, and Hermione took a deep breath, looking around in the near-darkness, sighing in relief. He had never intended to show up, she thought, feeling a little lighter in her heart. A smile on her face, she turned to leave, grateful that she did not have to see him.
A strong hand closed over her arm suddenly and she yelped, before she was pulled against a warm, solid chest. She breathed deeply, instantly recognizing Draco’s scent, and she scowled, feeling hot and breathless at the close proximity of their bodies.
“Granger, you naughty girl. Still in your school clothes,” he whispered in her ear, low and husky, and she shook herself free, stepping away from him, trying not the think of what that voice did to her. He studied her in the wavering light, a smile on his lips, his eyes twinkling. Hermione shivered at the smouldering silver fire that emanated from his eyes, wrapping her arms around herself, trying to ignore the furious beating of her heart and the singing in her blood.
“I only came to tell you to leave me alone,” she said firmly, horrified to hear her voice come out as a croak. Draco laughed.
“No you didn’t,” he replied, his eyes travelling the length of her body, devouring her, and again she felt that helpless feeling of vulnerability, as if she was his prey. She hated that he knew her so well. She hated the power he had over her. She hated herself for being there in the first place. He stepped closer to her, never taking his eyes from hers, until he reached out and ran a hand through her hair gently, the sensation of his fingers on her scalp causing her to close her eyes and sigh.
“Come with me,” he whispered, taking her hand and tugging on it gently. Hermione took a deep, defeated breath, pushing away the screaming voices in her ear, and followed him, not caring where they went. Her brain had gone numb, all her emotions shutting down, save one – raw, carnal lust. As they walked, Draco leading her, she let herself admire his body, the fluidity of his movements. He was graceful and assured, his toned flesh moving almost hypnotically before her eyes. She smiled, appreciating the view. He always looked good in whatever he wore. He looked back, catching her watching him and smirked. Hermione found herself smiling in return, a strange feeling coming over her. She felt giddy, naughty, and oh so wicked. With a little jolt, she realized that was how Draco had always made her feel.
He paused at a small door, and Hermione quirked her eyebrows disdainfully. Draco shrugged, squeezing her hand before pushing the door open, watching her face carefully. Inside, the room was lit with candlelight, warm and golden. Hermione smiled to see a bed pushed against one wall, covered in white linen.
“Like it,” Draco whispered in her ear, pushing her gently into the room, closing the door behind him. Hermione turned to face him, her mouth suddenly going dry at the reality of what she faced.
“I can’t do this,” she whispered, shaking her head, sudden tears pricking at her eyelids. The guilt and the shame came rushing back as she let her eyes slide to the bed. She looked at Draco imploringly, begging him to understand. “I can’t.”
He leant against the door, a troubled look on his face. His eyes glinted golden in the candlelight. “Break up with him,” he said abruptly, coming across the room to stand in front of her. “Hermione, please. This is not how I want things to be either, but I love you, and I want to be with you.”
“I can’t,” she whispered, shaking her head and dropping her eyes to the floor. Draco reached out and took her hands, holding them gently.
“Do you love him?” he asked in a tight voice, and Hermione blinked, tears dancing behind her eyes again. She swallowed, lifting her head and looking into his eyes.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I thought I did, but now I’m not sure. If I did, I would never have …” her voice trailed off as the tears began to flow. Draco’s pressure on her hands increased, and with a tight throat and burning eyes, Hermione let herself fall against his chest, sighing as his arms went around her, warm, comforting and strong. Draco held her while she cried, his hand stroking her back tenderly. Hermione sniffed, wiping her face on his shirt, burying herself in his scent, letting her memory envelope her.
“Why did you break up with me?” she asked, her voice muffled by his shirt. She felt him stiffen, his hand stilling between her shoulder blades. Eventually, he sighed, releasing her and moving to sit on the bed. His face was in shadow, orange light flickering over his hair, glinting against the pale blonde. He looked up, his eyes burning into her skull, and Hermione gulped, her heart beginning to race. “I need to know. Tell me, please,” she whispered, drawing closer until she was standing in front of him. Draco reached up and grasped her waist, bringing her to him, his head falling to rest against her stomach. Hermione’s hands drifted to his hair, her fingers running gently through the silky strands.
“I thought I had too,” he replied, sounding weary and depressed. Hermione frowned as he glanced up at her, her fingers coming to a rest. She removed his arms from her waist, sinking down beside him, looking at him the whole time, neither of them blinking.
“What do you mean you thought you had too?” she asked in a low voice. Draco sighed, pulling his fingers through his hair, a gesture she knew arose from either frustration or nervousness.
“Simply that. I thought that if I did not do it, someone would do it for me. Someone would make sure we could not be together,” he answered angrily, his voice rising.
“Your father,” Hermione said flatly, hating Lucius more than she did before. She had known that Draco was worried about what his father would do if he found out his son was seeing a Muggle-Born. Her hands balled into fists in her lap and she chewed her lip, a frown resting between her eyes. Draco slid an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close to him.
“I don’t care what he thinks anymore, Hermione,” he said, cupping her chin and tilting her head so he could look at her. “I really don’t care.”
“But, Draco, there must be more than that,” Hermione pressed, desperate to know the whole truth. “There has to be.”
He sighed, letting her chin go and turning away, muttering words she did not catch. She reached out and touched his shoulder, gently pulling him back to face her. “I fell in love with you,” he said simply, looking her in the eye. Hermione blinked, confused.
“Why would you break up with me because you fell in love with me? That’s ridiculous,” she said faintly, watching as he frowned.
“You think I don’t realise that,” Draco snapped suddenly. “I got scared, all right. What would happen to us after school? Would I be able to make you happy? Would you make me happy? There were so many questions. I … I guess I panicked and thought that the only thing I could do was …”
“Break my heart,” Hermione finished for him. She shook her head, sighing. “I’m not angry, Draco, not anymore, but I wish you would have told me this sooner. We could have talked about it. It didn’t have to end the way it did.”
“I know,” he said simply, taking her hands. “But it doesn’t have to end, Hermione. I made a mistake. I should never have let you go. I’m not scared anymore.”
Hermione stared at him in wonder, her head spinning. Did she still love him? Did she want to be with him again? She shook herself gently, making to pull out of his arms and walk away. She wanted to find Blaise. Draco grabbed her, holding her against him, his lips finding hers quickly. Hermione tried to resist, but the kiss took hold of her swiftly, drawing her in until she felt herself melting against him again, her arms sliding around his neck. Their kiss deepened, Draco’s lips moving over hers lovingly, passionately and hungrily. He twisted his body slowly, guiding them backwards.
“I can’t love you again,” Hermione whispered as he gently pushed her back until her head touched the softness of the pillow. He said nothing, his eyes turned towards the mattress, his hand laced with hers. When he looked at her, it was with such intensity Hermione felt her breath catch. A slow smile spread over his face, but his eyes were sad.
“I know,” he replied softly.
“Sssh, Hermione, please. I just want to be with you,” Draco whispered. “I can’t stand not being with you.”
“Why me, Draco?” she asked desperately, trying to get her body to move away, but she seemed to be dissolving into the mattress.
“I don’t want anyone else,” he snapped angrily, before sighing and turning to grasp her face between his hands. “Hermoine, last night, in the library…I guessed before it happened that you and Blaise had slept together, but…”
“That was the first time I ever had sex, with anyone, not just with you. I’d come close before, as you know, but never actually … I’m glad it was with you,” he replied softly. Hermione lay stunned, watching his face as he stared back at her with no shame. She wondered briefly whether he was telling her the truth, before deciding quickly that he was. Dazed, she reached up and touched his cheek, bringing his eyes to hers. She let her fingers drift around until they were resting against the silky skin of his lips, and she smiled when he kissed her fingertips gently. Slowly, she sat up, drawing him into her arms, kissing him softly on the mouth. When she pulled away, he was trembling, not looking at her, and she felt a pinch of her heart to see him so vulnerable.
Taking a deep breath, Hermione gently removed herself from his body, sliding to the edge of the bed and swinging her legs over before standing up. She did not look back as she walked towards the door, breathing steadily, forcing her feet to carry her forwards when all she wanted to do was turn and fly back into his arms, if only for the moment. She had thought it would be different when she knew why he left her, but it was not. Even if she was not with Blaise, she would not go back. Hermione paused at the door, glancing back over her shoulder. Draco was sitting exactly where she had left him, his hands clasped in his lap and his eyes downcast. He looked up suddenly, catching her gaze, his eyes shining, the pain and anguish in them thrashing into her skull. Hermione bit her lip, lifting shaking hands to the door, willing herself not to cry.
“I’m sorry, Draco.”
He stood quickly, crossing the room and grabbing her around the waist, the door handle slipping from her hands. Draco kicked the door closed firmly with his foot, bringing his lips to hers in the same moment, his tongue sliding between her teeth, kissing her furiously. Against her better judgment, Hermione felt her body respond, her lips moving, her hands rising to fist in his hair. Desire and passion overtook her senses, a little voice whispering that it was okay, that he loved her, that she was safe with him, and she let herself relax. She groaned against his lips as he lifted her into his arms, walking towards the bed, his fingers digging into her skin. They fell in a tangle of limbs and kisses, Draco’s weight crashing down on top of her, crushing the breath from her lungs. Hermione wound her arms around his neck as his hands slid down her body, his fingers working at the hem of her skirt.
“Draco…” she whispered as he kissed his way down her throat, sucking delicately at her collarbone, causing her to squirm beneath him.
“Just one more time, Hermione,” he whispered back, his hand sliding down her leg, grasping gently behind her knee, bringing her leg up at a right angle. She sighed, nodding, letting him kiss her again, closing her eyes and slipping away, her hands moving to the button on his jeans.
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