Chapter 6 : Old Marriages And New Lovers
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'Um - Hermione? I found those files you wanted.'
Hermione looked up over her coffee. Polly was standing by the door, carrying an enourmous stack of files. Hermione jerked her head in response, and she dropped them on her desk.
'Out of curiosity... What does Malfoy Manor have to do with his divorce case? I thought the Ministry had seized it years ago?'
'They had,' answered Hermione, not even bothered by Polly's frankness. 'And now that it's been seized, searched and abandoned, they have no right to keep it. It's belongs to Dra- Malfoy. If I could get it back to him, then maybe his soon-to-be ex-wife would give up custody over Scorpius in favour of the house...'
'But then Mr Malfoy won't get the Manor.'
'He doesn't want it,' Hermione sniffed, 'with good reason. Creepy place.'
'But you think his wife will?'
'Soon-to-be ex-wife, yes.'
Polly wrinkled her nose in confusion. She had known Hermione for years and though they were not exactly friends, she understood and respected her. Having been her personal secretary through a great many cases, she easily noticed the change in her way of working on this one - Hermione was passionate about Malfoy's divorce, and yet Hermione had always told Polly to leave feelings at the official Ministry entry.
'Well, that brings me to my next point,' she said uncomfortably. Hermione did not look up. 'Mrs Malfoy is here - she's waiting outside. I told her she couldn't come in without an appointment, but she's determined.'
Hermione furrowed her brow. She did not know if she was quite ready to deal with Draco's wife yet. Things had gotten almost personal between her and her client - for that was what she persuaded herself Malfoy was - since her visit at his appartment, and she knew she had to tread carefully.
'Show her in, Polly,' she merely said, after a moment's pause. She unconciously smoothed her skirt and tucked the stray strands of hair behind her ears.
Henrietta Malfoy was one of the prettiest girls Hermione had seen, and Hermione's vision of beauty was not a traditional one, because it was not based on appearance. Mrs Malfoy was very skinny; she had little to no curves, but a long, graceful neck. Her hair was a very dark brown, wavy, but pulled back in an elegant ponytail. Her eyes proved to Hermione instantly that this girl was very sharp, quick and intelligent, and not to be messed around with, which was precisely what made her interesting, lively and pretty. She wore plain Muggle clothes which did not do much for her figure, but her personality outshone all ugliness. If there was a blemish in her face, it were her numerous freckles; but even they seemed to be a part of her charm. Hermione looked down at her hands and saw that they were covered in ink and paint, the sign of a true artist.
Hermione stared at her in admiration for a while, but also in shock, for she was the very last type of girl she thought Malfoy could fall for - she had always imagined a flushed, curvy, voluptuous, Spanish sort of beauty in his arms. She indicated Henrietta to sit down in front of her desk, then followed.
'Pleasure to meet you, Mrs Malfoy,' she said, as Henrietta gave a courteous smile and shook her hand.
'Henrietta, please,' she answered, 'after all, Malfoy won't be my name for long.'
'I understand you wished to see me urgently?'
'Yes.' She leaned forward, looking serious. 'Mrs Weasley -'
'Very well - Hermione. I want to know what my options are.'
'I'm not a witch. I can't go to the Wizen-what's-it-called and claim custody over my child. And Draco has told me that that is his intention. What can I do?'
Hermione gave a cough of disapproval.
'If you come here seeking advice, I'm sorry, because I can give you none. I'm your husband's attorney - it would be unethical for me to give council to both parties in the matter.'
Henrietta grimaced in disappointment. She leaned forward.
'Surely, you, as a wife - as a mother - can see this whole thing from my point of view? Can't you convince Draco that I'm just after what's best for my child?'
'No, I can't, and I won't. And though it's not for me to say, I'd just like to mock that last statement - Scorpius is a wizard, Henrietta. His magical ability can't be oppressed or tamed. Send him to a Muggle school, and you'll just cause more damage than good.'
'Of course I don't expect you to understand,' said Henrietta with distaste, 'you're a witch, just like the rest of them -'
'I'm a Muggleborn - I was raised by non-magical parents,' Hermione answered coldly. 'I think I understand exactly what you're going through, which is why I support Draco, so that Scorpius can have the privilege of going to the best wizarding school in Britain.'
'Draco?' sniggered Henrietta unpleasantly. Hermione's upper lip curled in anger. 'He's got to you too, then?'
Hermione stood up. Her tone was final.
'I don't think there's anymore to add,' she said coolly. Henrietta scrambled to her feet.
'Didn't you ever wonder why I left him?' she said shrilly. 'D'you think I just stopped loving him one day?'
'I've no idea what you're talking about,' Hermione answered in a low voice. She pointed at the door. 'Goodbye, Mrs Malfoy.'
'D'you honestly think I'm going to stay with a man who condones adultery?'
Hermione quickly stifled a gasp. She felt as if she had been slapped in the face. Draco, cheat on his wife? It couldn't be. It mustn't be. Everything had been open and honest between them - they had told eachother everything, had confessed their sorrows and their troubles, the reasons that their marriages had fallen apart... Draco, cheat on his wife? She was lying - it was the only possible reason - if not, all else was a lie...
'We had just come back from King's Cross and then I found it! Loveletters, roses, bills for flowers... All stuffed down a stupid drawer! The idiot didn't even think to find a proper hiding place for it! D'you think I would've stayed after that? I packed my suitcase. And you better prepare yourself for that reason coming up in court,' Henrietta exclaimed furiously, as Hermione stood there, still stunned, 'because I'll be damned if Draco is going to ruin my child's life.'
She stormed out of the office. Hermione just waited there for nothing, supporting herself to her desk, her mind strangely blank. Some small part of her had started to trust Draco subconciously - and that small part was now screaming out loud in fury at this betrayal. How could he have led her astray like that? How could he have made her believe that he was a kind person, that his wife had left him because she, like Hermione, simply did not know what to do with her husband anymore? Draco's marriage had been going through the same thing Hermione's had - or so he had let her believe - and it had been a distressing comfort. Or so she had thought. So he had let her think. But it was all a lie. A lie. A bloody lie!
'Mrs Malfoy dashed off in an awful temper, is everything all right?'
Polly had popped her head around the doorway, looking worried. Hermione, her face white with fury, grabbed her cardigan from the coatrack and pulled it over her.
'I've got something to do,' she whispered angrily.
'Something to - but your appointments -?'
Before Polly could utter a word of protest, Hermione had Disapparated.
She had managed to summon enough concentration to Apparate just outside Malfoy's door, and she pounded her fist on it very loudly. She did not know what she was going to do, but her body was still shaking in fury at his betrayal... She felt ashamed - she had confided in him, told him details about her marriage... She had let him touch her... Her forearm seemed to tingle unpleasantly at the memory of it.
The door opened and there he was, standing right in front of her, smiling at this surprise.
‘Hermione! What are you -’
He never managed to finish his sentence, for suddenly she had slapped him. It was a different slap from the one he had received at St. Mungo’s - incredibly strong and incredibly painful. He saw stars for a moment, then managed to catch a glimpse of Hermione’s pale, furious face before she struck him again.
Despite the overwhelming pain, he was prepared for the third strike, and as she raised her hand, he caught her wrist and pulled her effortlessly inside his appartment to prevent her from slapping him again. She raised her free left hand, but he was ready, and grabbed that one as easily. Not uttering a word of protest, she merely stood there with her eyes sparkling in unexplained anger.
‘Are you going to tell me what the hell that was for?’ he shouted, outraged. His cheeks were still glowing red, aching painfully.
‘You’ve got some nerve,’ she whispered, her voice suppressed with fury. ‘You’ve got some nerve tricking me into believing that you’re a person I can trust - someone I can confide in - making me tell details of my marriage -’
‘I never made you do anything,’ Malfoy said angrily. He had not let go of her wrists which were still raised high above their heads. ‘Everything you told me was a result of built-up emotions that you needed to get out - that you couldn't deny - that were true, they're evidence that your marriage is over, Hermione -’
This time she struggled, clearly wanting to slap him again; he pushed her against a wall and she stopped moving. Hermione stood there, sandwiched between the wall and him. It was a long time since she had been this close to a man other than Ron. There was a tiny sliver of a space separating their waists, the rest of her was pressed up against him, and suddenly her skin felt hot and feverish under his fingers.
She suddenly couldn't remember why she was angry. Was it because of his words of her marriage? Why be angry at them? They were true... They were facts. Draco knew it; he knew everything about her.
As she felt his ragged, uneven and hot breath on her cold face, all thoughts of Henrietta’s visit vanished from her mind. There was no sorrow here, nothing except her and Draco, standing close together by the still-open door. And yet there was risk and danger and the unexpected lurking around the corner - all of which added to the enjoyment and pleasure of the situation. It was so easy to give in, thought Hermione, as Malfoy's chest moved against hers while he breathed heavily, his thumb rubbing her wrist gently. So easy to be enticed by those grey eyes of his... It would be so easy just to lean inches forward and be transported into another world... Those lips were so close...
Her eyes were a clear shade of brown - he had never noticed before. He could feel her body pressed up against his, every one of their curves fitting perfectly together. She was wearing the same cardigan as yesterday - was it her favorite? Her lips were dry and cracked - in her anger, she had probably forgotten to drink something.
He did not care why she was angry at him. He did not care about the draught coming from the door, teasing the stray hairs on Hermione’s forehead. She was his at that moment... and he was hers... He couldn’t do anything about it. He felt her shudder slightly against him.
Was this weakness? Was this lust? Or was it more, something unfathomable, unimaginable after several months of rows and quarrels with Henrietta?
He leaned forward and paused an inch from her dry lips, waiting for some form of protest. None came. His eyes, which had been travelling up every inch of her neck, met her brown ones and a silent question was asked.
I dare you... was the furious, silent answer hidden in her brown eyes. I dare you...
And then his lips were on hers, and nothing mattered but that moment when they were no longer two, but one; it was blissful oblivion, they were in another world where there were no troubles, only him and her, Draco and Hermione. He let go of her wrists and let his hands travel down her back; her own ran through his hair forcibly, almost aggressively, but he didn’t care. Her kiss was longing, asking for the affection Ron had long neglected to give her, both begging and demanding for it, and he gladly gave it to her. All the feelings they had vented up in them during their appointments, the anger, the disappointment, the increasing frustration at the attraction that had binded them so surprisingly - all of it expressed itself in their kiss. She was heaven; she was angry and suspicious and agitated, but she was heaven; and he tried to convince her with his kiss that he wanted to make her happy. She pulled him closer to her, needing to feel him, needing to know that she was wanted, not just for physical contact, but really wanted, needed.
They suddenly pulled away from eachother for air. As their lips parted, reality greeted them half-heartedly, and her eyes, so filled with longing before, were now round with horror. Draco didn’t remove his hands from her waist, and in that faraway, perfect moment of ecstasy, he felt vaguely worried as she slowly shrank away from him, looking terrified.
‘Oh God...’ she whispered, her hands moving up to her lips, no longer dry. ‘Oh God... What did we just do...’
A/N: Ah, I know most of you are despising me right now, but it's been a while since I ended with a cliffhanger - let's face it, it's almost traditional to end the "First Kiss" chapter with one in a Dramione story - and who am I to break tradition?
There is little I can say to prove just how stunned and grateful I am that this story has received so much attention, been accepted with so much enthusiasm and pleasure and, most and best of all, been subject to so many wonderful reviews. May I also add a warm thanks to the 102 people who have added this tale to their favorites list.
Thank you, and till next time!
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