Chapter 11 : Anguish and Antagonism
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seriously tho, I hope you enjoy this. It's been written for ages but I just didn't get off my backside and post it ^_^
I will get reviews answered - promise- but im heaps busy with other stuff, mainly work, life, TFO and my own writing
just a note - BANNER REQUESTS ARE CLOSED! so please please do not ask me for one in a review!
thanks guys and enjoy!
Draco spent the rest of the afternoon with his children. Pansy was bright and cheery and, much to Draco’s supreme annoyance, insisted on accompanying them to the park. Stressed, Draco sat stiffly on a bench as he watched Pansy play with Briana on the swings, his wife laughing and smiling. Dorian was sullen; he would barely talk and Draco had to resist the urge to yell at him. Shocked at himself, Draco cut the afternoon short, leaving with a curt farewell. He had never raised his voice at his children, and his head hurt at the thought of doing so. He suffered Briana’s teary goodbye, the little girl clinging to him and sobbing in his ear. His son turned his back, running to hide behind his mother. No amount of coaxing from Pansy would make the little boy face his father.
Anxious about Hermione and terribly worried about his relationship with his son, Draco went to into the office, wanting to loose himself in something practical. The whole place reminded him of Hermione; he thought he could still smell her perfume on the sofa in his office and he blinked.
“I’m losing it,” he whispered to himself, tugging at his hair. In the pocket of his robes, his divorce papers sat, the cloth weighed down by the sheer volume of Pansy’s demands. Draco pulled them out with a sigh. He read them half-heartedly, thinking he should just sign and give the insufferable woman every darn thing she wanted. She had kept her word on issues concerning the children, but some strange degree of pride made Draco reluctant to give up all the other material things he had worked so hard for. Their house had been paid for with his money; even the clothes on Pansy’s back had been paid for with his money.
Scowling, he set the papers aside, reaching for a quill and parchment, drafting a quick note to his own lawyer. He did want to avoid court; Pansy was right about that, but he also did not want to go down without a fight.
“I just wish Hermione would understand that,” he muttered angrily, thinking sadly of his lover. He knew he should go and apologise, but his stubbornness kept him from leaping from his chair and floo-ing back to her house.
As the sun began to sink, Draco tumbled out of Hermione’s fireplace, scowling and brushing soot from his clothes. The house was silent, and a deep fear crept through his body as he remembered the last thing he said to her that morning. Slowly, Draco made his way through the house. The kitchen was empty, the kettle cold, and no lights were on anywhere. Taking out his wand and lighting his path, Draco moved down the hall towards the bedroom.
He found Hermione curled on the bed, still clothed, her shoes on her feet. He felt a sharp stab of guilt and slowly sat down on the bed, touching her gently on the shoulder. She opened her eyes, saw him and scowled, promptly turning away. Draco sighed, biting back angry words.
“Hermione, love, I’m sorry,” he said softly, reaching out to stroke her hair. She moved her head away from him, rolling and sitting up, her knees tucked into her chest. They stared at one another, Hermione’s eyes sad and angry, her face tight with pain and emotion.
Draco stood up. “I’ll go.”
“I thought you already had,” she shot back. “I packed your stuff for you.” She motioned with her hand; a trunk sat near the door and Draco gulped.
“You want me to leave?”
Hermione looked at him, her eyes huge in the near darkness, her pupils dilated, smothering the white of her eyes. “Isn’t that what you want?”
Draco bit his lip. He wanted to grab her and shake her and kiss her and scream that he loved her and no, it was not what he wanted. He wanted her. “No,” he said calmly. “But, Hermione, we need to seriously talk about what is going on. We need to get things sorted out.”
She sighed, pulling at her hair. “I’m going to talk to Ron. Tonight. He’s coming over. But,” she paused, holding up her hand and forestalling the comments Draco wanted to make. “I think… it would be best if the two of us… had a little bit of space, just until we get all this worked out.”
“Right,” Draco replied blankly, the air escaping his lungs. There felt like a weight was crushing his chest; he could not breathe and he blinked, forcing away the sudden onset of emotion. Hermione sat and watched him, her face miserable and he sighed, forcing a smile. “I meant to get a motel anyway.”
She nodded, closing her eyes.
“Okay, then, I guess I’ll just get going,” Draco said indifferently, his voice calm and miles away from the storm that raged under his skin. He did not want Weasley anywhere near her; he did not want to leave and he certainly didn’t think they needed ‘space’. He turned and walked towards the door, bending to collect his trunk. Sighing, he straightened, and suddenly found his arms full of a weeping Hermione.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she sobbed, burying her face in his shirt. Draco wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close, bending his head and hiding his face in her hair. He did not breathe and hoped the tremors racing through his body went unnoticed. Hermione pulled back, lifting her face, her cheeks streaked with the salt of tears. Draco smiled sadly, cupping her face and rubbing his thumb across her skin, wiping away the moisture that lingered there.
“I love you,” he whispered, catching her face and kissing her fiercely. He could taste her tears and her sorrow on her lips. He set her away from him, sighing regretfully. He picked up his trunk and was gone.
Draco spent the night in a motel, his bed cold and empty, the cool satin of the sheets like ice on his skin. He did not sleep, finding himself lying staring at the ceiling, floating in a space not quite in the realm of dreams. The sun rose, peeking through the curtains, slicing across the room and touching his bare chest. Sighing, Draco crawled into the shower, leaving the water cold, shivering with the merciless temperature but stepping out refreshed and awake.
His thoughts rested with one person only and a night without her had been torture. Closing his eyes, Draco chewed his lip. He did not like this ‘space’ business for one second, but vowed to do as Hermione wished. She was right. They needed to sort out their respective lives if they were to have any chance of one together. Draco dressed, throwing on clothes without really looking at what he was grabbing. He munched a quick breakfast left outside the room by the motel staff, before retreating to the window, staring moodily out at the world.
By nine am, Draco was pacing the room, biting his fingernails and cursing to himself.
“This is bloody ridiculous,” he declared to the lush surroundings. Snatching up his wand, he stalked out of the room, apparating seconds later in Hermione’s backyard, telling himself he was only going to go in there, make sure she was alright, find out what Weasley had to say, and tell her where he was staying.
Draco stood leaning against the back veranda railing, his arms folded, staring intently at the back door until his eyes hurt. Hermione’s owl was perched in her usual position, and the great golden bird watched him with unblinking eyes. Draco scowled at it, feeling judged and it hooted softly in indignation and kept on staring. Draco put one foot on the back stair, took a deep breath, and lost his nerve.
Muttering angrily to himself, he strode back across the lawn, his eyes swinging to the house next door. He paused briefly, and changed direction before he could change his mind, stepping lithely over the small fence.
“Better see is Potter is still alive,” Draco murmured, heading for the front of the house. Harry’s veranda was littered with dead leaves and Draco sighed, kicking aside an old copy of The Daily Prophet. He took a deep breath, running his hand through his hair and wondering what the hell he was doing.
Draco pushed the doorbell angrily, listening as the high-pitched chime echoed through the house. He waited, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, sneaking a glance at Hermione’s house. He frowned, pressing the doorbell again, and then again. At last, he heard heavy, irritated footsteps behind the closed door. Wiping his hands on his pants, Draco fixed a nonchalant expression on his face as Harry opened the door, looking harassed. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
“Malfoy? What the hell?” he stuttered.
“Are you going to let me in, Potter, or do we have to stand out here all day,” Draco snapped, wanting to be inside and not standing in the open on the front veranda. His eyes slid sideways to the house next door, and he sighed, turning back to Harry, annoyed. The other man shrugged, opening the door wide, walking off down the hall. Draco swallowed, stepping in and closing the door gently behind him, following Harry. He walked slowly, his eyes taking in the contents of the house. Neat furniture, walls covered in family portraits. A whole cluster of Weasley’s stared at him accusingly as he passed and he gave them his best Malfoy scowl.
“In here, Malfoy,” Harry called and Draco followed the sound of his voice, finding Harry in the lounge room. His eyes immediately caught on a framed picture of Hermione and Ron on their wedding day and he frowned at it, turning away and letting his body fall onto a comfortable lounge. Harry sat opposite him, his eyebrows raised expectantly.
“Well?” he asked, sitting back, watching Draco. “Why are you here?”
Draco shrugged, unsure of what to say. That he’d lost his nerve and suddenly found himself on Harry’s doorstep instead of Hermione’s. He sighed and pulled his hand through his hair, letting his hand drop to rub at his face wearily.
“This is about Hermione, right?” Harry asked softly and Draco nodded, lifting his head.
“She told you about our fight?”
Harry laughed gently. “Malfoy, I think the whole street knows about your fight. I could hear you two screaming like you were in the next room.”
“Fantastic,” Draco muttered. “I fucked this up again, Potter. I can’t get it right. I couldn’t keep my marriage together and now… I’m an idiot,” he finished.
“Look,” Harry began, leaning forward. “If you’re waiting for me to tell you not to worry, then you’re wasting your time. I don’t approve of what the two of you have done, not at all, and frankly, it’s probably for the best, Malfoy.”
Draco narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean, for the best? Potter, what’s going on? What do you know?” he asked, suddenly incredible suspicious. Draco stood up suddenly, the urge to talk to Hermione, to hold her in his arms, strong in his stomach. “I’m going to…”
“Malfoy, don’t,” Harry warned, standing up also.
“Why the hell not? I love her, Potter, and I’m not about to…”
Harry sighed. “She’s not alone,” he cut in gently. Draco blinked, his head spinning. Slowly, he let himself fall back onto the lounge, staring at Harry with a sinking feeling in his stomach. “Ron came over last night, and he hasn’t left yet, not that I know anyway. He’d come and see me on his way out,” Harry explained, sitting down warily, his body poised and ready to spring up again if needed.
Draco felt like the air had been pushed from his lungs. He sat back, feeling sick and dizzy. Harry said nothing further, just looked at him, his expression one of sadness, smugness and pity mingled into one. Draco blinked rapidly, his body on fire. “Right,” he said simply, looking at the floor. “Right.” He wanted to get up from the lounge and slink away somewhere, but he could not move. His body felt like it weighed a tonne and he sat, feeling like he was drowning.
“I can’t get it right,” he whispered wearily. “Pansy and me… it used to be roses, Potter, once upon a time. It was perfect. We didn’t always hate one another. I have no idea how it all fell apart. I don’t know who stopped talking to whom first, who stepped away first. I have no idea what went wrong, really, and now it’s happening again and this time, I can’t help thinking it’s absolutely my fault,” he continued sadly, shaking his head. He looked at Harry, who gave a short bark of sarcastic laughter.
“You’re asking the wrong man here, Malfoy,” he replied with a shake of his head. “I’m in the same boat as you. Although,” he added, “I didn’t intentionally have an affair with another man’s wife.”
“Yeah, I know, I’m the bad guy here. It couldn’t possibly be Weasley’s fault as well,” Draco snapped moodily. “I didn’t intentionally set out to ruin her marriage. It was already ruined, from what I understand, and that had nothing at all to do with me. That was all your mates fault.”
“That may be true,” Harry replied after a pause. “Ron made some mistakes, but you being involved with Hermione has not helped her.”
“I beg to differ,” Draco growled. “She’s been happy.”
“You cannot possibly tell me that Hermione was happy to be having an affair?” Harry asked incredulously and Draco sighed.
“All right, no, not about that, but she was happy in the end,” he said softly. “And so was I.”
“Malfoy, I can’t take your side in this,” Harry stated bluntly. “She’s my best mate, Ron’s my best mate. I want to see them back together. I want to see them happy again.”
“And what about Weasley’s girlfriend? Has your mate told you about that?” Draco snapped. Harry frowned.
“He may have mentioned something, but look, it doesn’t matter. He’s hurt and he’s lonely. He loves Hermione. They were meant to be.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I read it in the papers. The darling couple, the match made in heaven blah, blah. That’s what they said about you and your wife, and look how that turned out,” Draco said nastily.
“Don’t make this about me, Malfoy,” Harry replied angrily. “It’s not my marriage we’re talking about here.”
Draco sighed, pulling at his hair in frustration. He wanted to scream. He wanted the whole world to know how he felt. He wanted to incinerate Weasley with his rage alone. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. “That was uncalled for. Tell me, Potter, while we are on the subject, what are you doing to fix things?”
Harry blinked at him. “What do you mean?”
“With your wife. Trust me on this, you leave it too long, you’re going to loose her. You’ll end up like me. Alone,” Draco replied with a growl. The front door clicked open, Harry’s eyes widening as a cheery voice echoed down the hall.
“Harry, mate, you home?”
“Get out, Malfoy. Now,” Harry hissed, leaping to his feet. “Back door.”
Draco did not move. A sense of calm had taken over the rage and he slowly withdrew his wand from his pocket, his head screaming, and dozens of painful spells running through his mind. He smirked.
“Don’t you bloody dare you idiot!” Harry snapped, his green eyes flashing dangerously. His wand was in his hand also, the skin around his knuckles white. “Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake…”
“Alright, I’m gone. Keep him occupied before I seriously damage him,” Draco snapped through his teeth, climbing to his feet. Harry’s face relaxed, and he turned promptly, disappearing into the hall. Scowling, Draco crossed the room, flipped the wedding portrait of Hermione and Ron face down on the mantle, and stalked to the back of the house and out the back door. Draco only took a moment to recover his breath, before racing across Harry’s yard and vaulting over the fence onto Hermione’s lawn. He did not break stride, running as his feet hit the ground, tearing up the back steps and throwing the door open violently.
His lover’s shocked face appeared in the hall and Draco stopped, his feet cemented to the carpet. They stared at one another; Hermione was still in her nightgown, her hair tangled and her skin pale. Draco watched as she pulled a great gulp of air into her lungs, a strangled sob escaping her lips, before she turned and walked away from him, her shoulders slumped.
Icy cold premonition sank into his skin, his stomach flopping over, nausea flooding his body. Gulping, Draco forced himself to follow her. His eyes flickered into the bedroom as he passed the door; the bed was unmade, the sheets a wild jumble. His fear increased and his feet began to move quicker.
Hermione was in the kitchen, sitting at the table with a mug of coffee between her hands. She did not look up as he entered and Draco slowly sat down opposite her.
“What are you doing here?” she asked softly, her voice strained.
“Have a good time with Weasley?” Draco asked bluntly, pushing her question aside. Hermione sighed, lifting a hand to rub at her face. “Did you discuss the divorce?”
“Please, Draco, don’t,” she whispered shakily. Draco drummed his fingers on the tabletop, his skin twitching.
“Well,” he said with forced calm. “No matter.”
Hermione looked at him sharply; there were bags under her eyes and her skin was sallow.
“Bad nights sleep?” Draco inquired innocently. She flinched; he watched her closely, his eyes never leaving her face. She stared back at him, the air between them saturated with pain and anger. Her face broke and she pushed her cup away, standing swiftly.
“I … I have things to do. You’d better leave,” she whispered, pulling at her hair. Draco frowned, claws digging in tightly to his chest. He stood slowly, taking his time to tuck his chair in, breathing deeply and steadily. His fingers clenched around the back of the chair until his knuckles turned white.
He bit his lip, drawing blood, keeping his head lowered.
“Draco…” Hermione whispered painfully. “Please…”
“You are going to divorce him, right?” Draco asked, lifting his head to look into her eyes. The colour drained from her face. “You don’t want to drag this out, Hermione.”
Hermione’s lip trembled and she let her head drop, catching it in her hands. “I tried to talk to him about it, but…”
Her voice was muffled and tight, but Draco heard every word. Every nerve in his body was screaming, every sense on high alert. He chuckled low in his throat.
“You’re not going to do it, are you?”
Her head snapped up, anger in her eyes. “I am! I just… he thought I’d changed my mind about him. He was so hopeful I didn’t want to hurt him and…” Hermione’s voice dropped away. Her eyes were swimming with regret and misery. Draco took a deep breath, and squeezed.
The back of the chair snapped away between his fingers. Hermione gasped, darting across the room and grabbing at his hands. Blood pearled along the middle of his palm, and Draco pulled his hands away roughly.
Hermione stared at him, her mouth opening but he shook his head, lunging for her and forcing himself to ask the question that had been burning its way slowly and surely into his head.
“Did you sleep with him, Hermione?” Draco whispered, grabbing her upper arms and pulling her into his body. She said nothing and his heart stalled. “Did you?” She bit her lip and he gave her a little shake, fury dancing across her face. She shoved him away, her fists clenched.
Draco stared at her, searching her face for some hint that he had misheard her, but all he could see was cold, hard truth staring back at him. He lifted a hand weakly in her direction, as if wanting to grab her, before letting it drop to his side, beginning to laugh wildly.
“Why?” he choked through his laughter. “Why would you go and do something like that?”
Hermione gaped at him and he laughed harder at her shocked expression. “Why the hell are you laughing?” she screeched, flying across the room and hitting him in the chest with her fists. “Draco! Why are you laughing?”
“Because I find this whole thing incredibly hilarious!” Draco bellowed, furious all of a sudden, the laughter gone from his voice and his eyes. “You asked me for space; I was giving it to you, and the moment I am gone you go and screw Weasley!”
“It just happened alright!” Hermione screamed back, wiping her eyes. Her cheeks were glowing, her hair wild around her shoulders. “He was upset and…”
“I never took you for a mercy-shag sort of person, Hermione,” Draco interjected shrewdly. “Is Weasley truly that pathetic? Did he beg and plead and cry? Is that all it takes? Should I get on my knees?”
Hermione took a deep breath, her eyes flashing daggers. She drew back her hand and slapped Draco across the cheek, her palm slamming into his face, the sound echoing sharply through the room.
“Fuck, Hermione!” he shouted, lifting a hand and rubbing at his stinging skin.
“Get out,” she hissed dangerously, her eyes shining with rage and tears. “Stay the hell away from me, Draco Malfoy! Go back to your wife!”
“With pleasure,” he snarled furiously. “At least with Pansy I know where I stand.” They stared at one another a moment longer, both breathing heavily. Draco clenched his fists, his body on fire and his chest made of stone. With an angry scream, he snatched her mug up from the table and threw it as hard as he could against the wall. It exploded, showering the kitchen with shards of ceramic. Hermione gasped, turning her face away as she began to sob, her body collapsing onto the floor as Draco turned the table over violently, slamming it into the kitchen cupboards. It trembled, and splintered.
Draco stood, chest heaving, a cold sweat racing over his body. He looked at the woman he loved, hunched over on her knees. His face twisted and he took a step towards her, his hand outstretched, his rage dying away, leaving a nasty blistering wound deep inside.
“Hermione,” he whispered, pain and regret engulfing him. This was his penance. This was the price of his deceit, of Pansy’s pain, of his affair.
“Just go away,” she choked out through her sobs. Draco sighed, feeling the burn of tears in his eyes. His ears were filled with her cries and slowly, he knelt beside her, gathering her to him. She struggled, fighting him, but he held her tightly, smoothing the long wild hair back from her face, forcing her to look at him.
She met his eyes, her lips wavering, her face streaked with tears. Draco swallowed his grief and kissed her gently on the mouth, letting the familiar taste of her sink into his skin, before letting her go and standing up.
He left her there, sitting amongst the broken kitchen, and returned to the motel.
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