Draco woke to an empty bed. He flung his hand out, finding Hermione’s side cold, and figured she must have been up for a while. The house was silent as he lay there, wrapped in the warmth of the blankets and the softness of the mattress, and Draco listened carefully for any signs of movement in the house. Frowning, he pulled himself upright, throwing on some clothes he found on the floor beside the bed. After a quick splash of water in the bathroom, Draco wandered into the kitchen, tired but alert. After Hermione had fallen asleep last night, he had laid awake, staring into the darkness, his thoughts swimming. Ginny knew about them, and now, so did her husband.
He trusted Potter to keep his mouth shut, knowing the other man owed him the favour, but somehow, he did not trust Ginny. The woman was hurt and angry, and a Weasley, and Draco was quietly terrified she would let something slip to a member of her family. It had been a few days, and no Weasley’s had come to murder him, but Draco could not relax. Coffee in hand, he stood in the kitchen, leaning back against the bench, frowning slightly, the warmth from the cup in his fingers sinking into his skin.
He knew he needed to go and see Pansy, and he had not seen his children since she had kicked him out. Lying awake in the dark, Hermione sleeping beside him, Draco had had to bite his tongue to stop from screaming out his frustration at the whole situation. He was now free to be with the woman he loved, but was not entirely sure he had paid the correct price. Knowing Pansy, he was certain that, once she discovered his relationship with Hermione, any hope he had of an amicable separation and a polite and mature arrangement concerning the children would cease to exist.
Sighing, Draco put down his empty cup, not remembering drinking the coffee, but he could taste it on his lips and tongue, the warmth from the drink still lingering in his throat. Irritated, he pulled a hand through his messy hair, heading back towards the lounge room. He had no idea where Hermione was and was not sure what to do with himself. Standing in the middle of the lounge room, Draco let his eyes move around the room, once more taking in the pictures on the mantle, the books in the shelf and all the remnants of Hermione’s life with her husband. There were still things in the house that told Draco a man had lived there once, and he was not sure how he felt about seeing them. The occasional shirt in the laundry, or a sock, a book (not that he imagined Weasley ever read much), or just a memory he could sense seeping through the walls. All things that did not belong to him.
The more he thought about it, the more Draco realised he could not stay there in Hermione’s house, not yet. It was too soon, and there was still Pansy to deal with. Rubbing at his face, Draco sighed again, feeling suddenly old and tired and as if he had not slept in weeks. The scent of smoke drifted through the open lounge room window and curious, Draco crossed the room and peered out. He could see nothing but the side of Potter’s house, and the large oak tree in Hermione’s yard. Twisting his head painfully to one side, his face pressed against the screen, Draco could make out a faint column of smoke rising from somewhere close to Potter’s house. Sighing, he pulled back from the window, wandering to the bedroom in search of his shoes. If Potter was about to burn to death, he supposed he should go and investigate.
Shoes on, Draco snuck a quick glance at himself in the bathroom mirror, smoothed down his hair as best he could, realised he needed a shave but did not care, and, with a shrug at his reflection, he headed for the back door. The sun was shining brightly and Draco squinted, shielding his eyes from the light. The smell of smoke was stronger now and he turned in the direction of Potter’s place. Draco’s eyebrows rose of their own accord. Harry was standing in his backyard, a roaring, smouldering pyre in front of him. The wind changed direction as Draco watched, enfolding the other man in a cloud of smoke. Draco heard a cough and with a roll of his eyes and an annoyed sigh, he jumped the small flight of stairs and crossed the crisp green lawn towards Potter.
As he came close, Draco could see an open box sitting at Harry’s feet. He watched as the tall brunette reached down, pulling something from the box. He stared at it a while, and then tossed it on the fire. Draco leant casually against the fence, waiting for Harry to notice him. When he didn’t, the man so absorbed in his blatant destruction of his possessions, Draco snorted in annoyance, stepping gracefully over the short fence and crossing the lawn to Harry’s side, muttering about Potter and his pyromaniac tendencies.
The heat from the fire was more intense than he had imagined it to be and Draco snuck a look at Harry, wondering how he could stand to be so close to the flames. The other man’s eyes were dim and unfocused, and when Draco touched him on the arm, Harry jumped, drawing his wand and pointing it against Draco’s chest. Hands in the air, Draco backed away a step and Harry lowered his wand, an apologetic expression on his pale face.
“Sorry, Malfoy,” he muttered, sliding the wand back into his pocket. Draco shrugged, his eyes drawn to the flames. He watched in silence as a photograph, on top of the pile, caught fire, the edges browning and curling as the flames licked along it, the faces in the portrait slowly dissolving into ash. Draco raised his eyebrows, sneaking a sideways glance at Harry, was who busy fishing around in the wooden box, a frown on his face.
“This is all rather dramatic, don’t you think, Potter?” Draco commented softly, his voice barely audible over the snap and crackle of the fire. Harry shrugged, tossing another picture onto the smouldering heap.
“Maybe, but what else can I do?”
“You could go and talk to your wife,” Draco said simply in response, folding his arms over his chest.
Harry laughed scornfully, turning to face Draco. “Right, that’ll help. Thanks for your brilliant marital advice.”
“Think what you like about me, Potter, I don’t really care for your judgement, but if you leave it too late, all you will have left is a pile of burnt memories, and nothing more,” Draco replied snappishly. Harry paused, another picture in his hands, the box lying open at his feet.
“She hates me.”
“How would you know? What are you doing to save your marriage? Nothing,” Harry stated bitterly, his eyes jumping to Draco’s face. They stared at one another angrily, neither wanting to talk about it, but both realising they had no one else to talk to. Draco studied Harry, noticing the dark shadows beneath his green eyes, his messy hair and his wrinkled clothes. Like him, Harry needed a shave, his chin littered with dark stubble. Draco sighed, reaching over and taking the photograph gently from Harry, dropping it back in the box. He bent down and closed the lid, picking up the small box and holding it firmly in his hands. Harry did not protest.
“But I don’t want to save my marriage, that’s the difference, isn’t it?” Draco said softly. “You don’t need to totally destroy yours.”
“What are you doing, Malfoy? Why Hermione?” Harry asked wearily, rubbing at his drawn face. Draco shrugged. “Did you tell me the truth, last night? Do you love her?”
“Yes,” Draco answered with a sigh. “I really do. I never thought I would, you know. It was never meant to end up like this. I didn’t set out to fall for her, but now that I have, I wouldn’t change it. Don’t judge me until you know how it happened.”
Silence fell between them, the air filled with the gentle rush of flames and the scent of smoke. Harry sighed, taking out his wand, extinguishing the fire. Both men watched as the flames gave out with a defeated hiss and a puff of thick smoke. Coughing, Draco stepped away, his lungs burning, Harry following him, rubbing at his face. Draco still had Harry’s box in his hands, and with an encouraging smile, he pushed it back into Harry’s arms, the other man closing his eyes, his fingers curling around the edges of the box.
“Do you want a drink, or something, Malfoy?” Harry asked quietly, opening his eyes and looking at Draco, who nodded. Harry hesitated a moment, as if regretting his invitation, before sighing and leading the way across the lawn and up the stairs into his house. Draco frowned at the state of Harry’s kitchen. It wasn’t as if it was messy; it was as if no one lived there. There was not a dish, a cup or a piece of cutlery in sight. As Harry opened the fridge, Draco peered around his shoulder, his frown deepening. Harry’s fridge was practically empty, nothing sitting on the shelves besides a carton of milk, a banana and half a loaf of bread. He straightened up as Harry turned around, two bottles of beer dangling from his hand.
“A bit early, don’t you think?” Draco mused, taking the beer that Harry thrust at him. The glass was icy cold, chilling him to the bone. “Have you eaten anything since Ginny left, or have you just been drinking yourself to sleep every night?”
“Don’t lecture me,” Harry snapped, knocking the top off his beer and wandering away. Draco shrugged and followed him, flipping the top off his own beer on the way, stashing the bottle cap on a lamp table. Harry was seated in a comfortable looking chair in the lounge room, staring ahead at nothing in particular. Draco sighed, taking a seat opposite him, the coffee table separating them.
“You’re making me depressed, you know, Potter,” Draco stated, swigging on his beer. Harry made an angry face.
“If you don’t like my company, Malfoy, you can get out.”
“Look, its simple,” Draco began, leaning forward and putting his beer down on the table. “Talk to your wife, sort this out, and get the hell over yourself. You fucked up, yes, but right now you should be on your knees begging that woman to take you back instead of sitting here drinking beer at nine thirty in the morning with someone you don’t even like.”
“You’re right about one thing, Malfoy,” Harry replied slowly, blinking.
“What?” Draco asked.
“I don’t like you,” Harry said simply. “I don’t like what is going on between you and Hermione, and I just don’t like you.”
“Will you cut the crap? I get it okay? I’m the devil,” Draco snapped. The two men stared at one another, a life time of animosity sizzling in the air between them, until Draco sighed, pulling his hand through his messy hair. “Look, Potter, you’re going to have to get used to it, okay? Hermione and me…this is what we want.”
“And what about what Ron wants? Have you stopped to consider him in all this, Malfoy?” Harry asked bitterly.
“I have yes,” Draco replied softly, Harry’s eyebrows rising at the gentle and sympathetic tone in his voice. “I gave Hermione the option of going back. She chose not too. She doesn’t love him, and he will have to get over that some day.”
“So what, you’ve done him a favour? Malfoy, that’s selfish and you know it,” Harry answered. An uncomfortable silence dropped into the air, Draco not knowing how to respond to the accusation.
“Are you going to tell him?” Draco asked eventually. “He is your best friend.”
Harry sighed dejectedly. “No, I’m not. I’ve already thought about that, and it needs to come from Hermione. It’s not my place to interfere with their relationship.”
“They don’t have a relationship, Potter,” Draco snapped.
“Listen to yourself, will you? You’re still married. You can hardly call what you and Hermione have a relationship. What about Pansy?” Harry replied calmly, although his eyes shot daggers across the room, piercing into Draco’s skull.
“Pansy and I are married in name only. She kicked me out, she’s got a boyfriend…it’s irrelevant now. All I’m waiting for is the divorce papers, and we’re done.”
The two men glared at one another, the atmosphere sizzling with anger, grief and confusion. Eventually, Harry sighed, drawing Draco’s attention back to his face. The blonde had been staring out the window, watching as clouds slowly gathered on the horizon, dark and purpled with rain.
“Tell me how it began,” Harry said softly. “You and Hermione. I need to know. I need to know what would make her do something like this.”
“Ask her,” Draco replied, feeling angry again.
“I’m asking you, Malfoy,” Harry stated, leaning forward in his chair and fixing Draco with a stern glare. “You told me not to judge until I knew what happened, so I’m asking. And tell me the truth,” he added, resting his now-empty bottle on the coffee table.
Draco stared hard at the amber coloured glass, searching his mind for the right answer, for words, phrases, that would explain everything. Harry sat waiting, patient and still, his demeanour reminding Draco of that strange calm Harry had in his office, the day after Ginny had disappeared. Sighing and pulling his hand through his hair, Draco lifted his gaze to meet Harry’s.
“We were lonely,” he said simply, his voice low and soft. Harry raised an eyebrow, as if indicating he wanted more. Irritated, Draco sat back in his chair, folding his arms. “What more do you want? We were two lonely people who spent a night together, even though we knew it was wrong, and then…I dunno, Potter, all right? There was something about her that kept me wanting to be near her, wanting to hold her and be with her. Can you tell me honestly that that is wrong? That I wasn’t supposed to feel like that about her? I’m not an idiot. I knew what I was doing was not right, continuing to see her, and I think she knew it too, which is why I tried so hard…” Draco let his voice trail off, his eyes dropping to his hands, resting in his lap. He twisted his fingers around one another.
“Tried so hard…” Harry prompted. Draco sighed again, standing up suddenly.
“Not to fall in love with her,” he replied rather harshly. Harry said nothing, dropping his eyes, and without another word, Draco turned and left the house, slamming the back door in anger.
Draco sighed, his face caught halfway between a scowl and a look of pain. “Pansy, look, we need to talk about this…”
“No, we don’t,” Pansy replied simply, stalking across the room to collect her purse. Draco watched her, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. She was wearing the red dress, the ridiculously expensive, fitted knee-length dress that she had purchased only recently. The dress has a slit in the side, and as she moved, the fabric spread apart, showing inches of creamy flesh. Pansy’s hair was immaculate, her face radiant and her eyes sparkling. She was wearing the faintest traces of make-up, and her feet were bare as she pushed past him into the hall, flashing him an annoyed look as she went.
“Have you seen my shoes? The black ones?” she asked nonchalantly, walking quickly down the hall, her feet creating soft padded echoes against the black and white tiles. Draco stared at her as she paused in front of the hall mirror, checking her reflection.
“No I haven’t seen your blasted shoes, Pansy,” he snapped, pulling at the end of his shirt in irritation. He had apparated straight from Harry’s backyard, and half of his thoughts remained in Potter’s lounge room. He felt dizzy and extremely tired. “I don’t live here anymore, remember? And I don’t care about your shoes. We need to talk.”
Pansy sighed, turning from the mirror and throwing him an exasperated look. “I can’t right now. I’m going out for lunch,” she stated. “You can come over later. You look terrible by the way.”
Draco scowled at her, shaking his head, and folding his arms. “Now, Pansy. Let your boyfriend wait for a few minutes. I’m sure he’ll survive. If this lasts more than a few seconds, he’ll soon be begging for time alone,” he added nastily, smirking at the incredibly murderous look Pansy sent him. She pulled her face into a tight scowl, stalking away from him towards the kitchen. Rolling his eyes, Draco followed, pushing open the doors to find her rifling through a stack of papers on the table.
“Pansy,” he growled warningly, striding across the room, coming to rest on the other side of the polished table, opposite her. She glanced up at him quickly, her expression glacial, before thrusting a pile of paper at him. “What’s this?”
“Just sign the damn things, Draco. It’s what you came here for, isn’t it?”
“Divorce papers?” Draco asked sharply, his eyes dropping to the crisp white parchment in her hand. Pansy shook them for emphasis, the rustle of the paper her answer and Draco snatched them from her, quickly skimming the first page, turning it over and beginning to read the second.
Pansy sighed. “Just sign.”
“I want to know what you are taking first,” Draco murmured, his eyes dancing down the page. “You want half my earning? For the time we have been married?” he asked in disbelief. “Half?”
“It’s what I’m entitled too,” Pansy answered calmly, slinging her bag over her shoulder. Her hands rose to touch her hair lightly, smoothing down a few strands that had become loose. “Contest it if you wish, but I thought you didn’t want to have to take this to the courts,” she added smugly, Draco sighing in response. He rubbed at his face, dropping the papers to the table.
“Fine, whatever, Pansy. I don’t care,” he snapped wearily, thinking of Hermione and the promise he had made her. “I just want this over and done with.”
“So sign them and get lost then,” she said sweetly, and Draco glowered at her, shaking his head.
“Not until I read them properly and have my own man look over them,” he replied. Pansy threw her hands in the air in frustration, opening her mouth to yell at him, but Draco cut her off quickly. “I want to make sure everything to do with the children is in order. You’re not going to stop me seeing my kids.”
Pansy rolled her eyes, stamping her foot in annoyance. “I already said I wouldn’t, Draco. Now can you just sign them and let me go to lunch please? I’m late already.”
“Forgive me if I don’t trust you,” Draco replied, folding the papers and stashing them in his jacket pocket. Pansy narrowed her eyes at him, taking a deep breath.
“Trust?” she screeched, her voice echoing around the room. Draco winced. “You fucking arsehole, Draco Malfoy. Don’t you dare speak to me about trust. Who is she this time, huh? I know you’re seeing someone. I know you’re not at any motel. I checked. Are you shacked up with her already? I’d ask your friends who she is, only you don’t have any, do you? You’re pathetic. Just sign the bloody papers and get the hell away from me.”
Pansy’s voice had dropped to an almost whisper, her tone filled with pain and regret. She stared at him, her expression miserable. Her face was red and blotchy, her chest rising and falling quickly with her erratic breathing. Draco took a step towards her, not sure what to say or do. As he opened his mouth, he heard the soft chiming of the doorbell. The sound tore through the silence of the house, and Draco watched as Pansy’s face slowly drained of colour.
A smirk sliding across his lips, Draco turned and raced towards the front door, hearing her curse in the background, before her tiny feet followed him. Draco reached the door first, turning to glance at Pansy over his shoulder, his hand closing on the handle. She stopped dead, staring at him, shaking her head.
“Don’t,” she whispered. “Just go. Please don’t, Draco.”
Draco’s smirk increased and he twisted the doorknob, throwing the wooden door wide, opening the hall to the day outside. He turned from Pansy’s stricken face, the smirk dropping from his lips, his mouth falling open. Pansy sighed behind him, and Draco started to grin, the pieces all falling together in a nice little pile.
“Why hello,” he drawled casually, leaning against the door frame, folding his arms across his chest. “Looking for someone in particular?”
sorry for the long wait loves. I hope you enjoyed it and pleased remember to leave a review *hugs*
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