Chapter 6 : The Binding
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The sky lay patently black with only the tiny specks of silver to besmirch the velvety darkness. The dull glow of Malfoy’s broom softly illuminated his strong profile, though Hermione’s eyes were squeezed shut. She was by no means asleep, quite the contrary - her brain seemed to pulse against her skull and pins and needles stung her limbs, contradicting the fatigue that weighed down her heavy lids. Her forehead was pressed into Malfoy’s back and her arms and legs remained firmly entwined around his waist in such an intimate stance it was ironic. She could feel the muscles in his abdomen contract beneath her hands and feel his heart beat duplicate her own.
They had been travelling for well over an hour and the air had progressed staunchly colder with every passing minute. No further words had been exchanged since they had left the ground and Hermione certainly appreciated it; she definitely did not want to discuss the vulnerability which enveloped her at this very moment. He had seen her in a similar position of helplessness the prior evening and it was not an event she would like to reiterate.
Hermione slowly pried her eyes open. They were, for now, fairly stable and the darkness around was welcomed by her fear. Below lay rural landscape with not a hint of urbanity in sight. It was indeed a beautiful scene, though her current predicament tinged the splendour with despair. Sharp wind now whipped around her face, piercing her skin as she shifted in her seat, disentangling herself from the Slytherin boy. His shoulders shuddered slightly at her retraction though he quickly masked this with a nonchalant shrug.
All too soon the heavens erupted. Heavy water hammered down from the sky in iridescent droplets, pelting her face and back as she once again, disappointingly, clung to Malfoy. He, too, grappled at the broom graspingly though his features remained as strong as steel. They were now lurching every which way, their hair and robes dancing in the wind. Hermione’s nails clawed at his stomach as she buried her head in between his stiff shoulder blades. She felt so degraded; clinging to her nemesis like a child, like a little girl. But she would, undoubtedly, plummet to her death if she were to let go.
“Hold on,” He now yelled, his legs tensing beneath hers. Hermione nodded, perspiration beading across her forehead as she waited with severely bated breath. A deep growl emitted from his lips as he leant forwards, commencing a precipitous dive. They plunged rapidly downwards, the harsh wind deeply intensifying and the thick rain blurring their vision, mingling with the tears of fright that streamed down Hermione’s face. A sharp hiss penetrated her ears as they approached the ground at an inexplicably fast pace.
They landed surprisingly smoothly though Hermione still slid into Malfoy with a firm thud.
“Do you have any self control?” He enquired, his sarcasm fully intact. Hermione hurriedly dismounted, eager to get away from him. The rain had simmered slightly but they were both, nonetheless, soaked from head to toe. Even in the half light Malfoy’s wet tresses glittered and gleamed and his pallid skin glistened with a fusion of rain and sweat. Hermione’s rich, caramel curls cascaded down her shoulders, gleaming darkly beside her scarlet robes.
“Rosatini,” He barked into the midnight air, his wand gripped firmly in his hand. Hermione opened her mouth to enquire further but in an instant a threadbare house elf stood before them both, freezing her lips mid-motion.
“Yes, Sir.” Rosatini squeaked, bending into a low bow, her elongated nose brushing the floor. “And Miss.” She quickly added, a brief smile gracing her face as she turned to the bewildered Hermione.
“Take Miss Granger’s suitcase to the manor and place it in my room.” He ordered as he marched forwards. Rosatini enthusiastically nodded, performing another deep courtesy and murmuring a few choice phrases of appraisal and compliance. Hermione muttered a few words of thanks to the twittering creature before sprinting after Malfoy who was, by now, several yards ahead. She had to jog to keep up with his long strides but she would not complain, though her breaths did become a little shallow after several minutes of silence.
The infamous Malfoy Manor soon materialised into view. It was colossal; thrice the size of Hogwarts and all the more exquisite. Elevated turrets intertwined with a sheen of ivy, snaking up the brickwork like slithering snakes. Mirrors glinted and gleamed silver in the grey light and everything seemed under an ethereal spell. The full roses that bejewelled the grass sparkled silvery - as did everything under the moons sinister enchantment. Hermione could not erase the gleeful smile that stretched her lips; it was like something out of a fairytale. Particularly Beauty and the Beast where the once beautiful castle fell under a ominous curse and was inhabited by a horrendous beast. But she was certainly no Belle and Malfoy was not a beast - not in literal terms anyway - and her ‘happily ever after’ had long since soured.
They were now within a metre of the entrance way. Hermione’s knees buckled slightly as the huge doors silently swung open; this was it, her last chance to escape. How she wished she could turn away from her doom and run into nothingness. Just run… anywhere but here.
“Come on.” Malfoy barked, one foot already inside. “Stop dithering.” Hermione hurriedly followed him over the threshold, ultimately sealing her fate. The room they now stood in was huge - the whole of the Burrow could fit in twice over! - and it was considered their entrance hall! Talk about the high and mighty!
A small pool of clear water had gathered beneath her feet, slowly dripping from her hair onto the smooth marble. Malfoy turned and headed to the stairway. Hermione hesitantly scuttled after him, not sure as to whether she should be pursuing him. He did not bother to acknowledge her presence, though nor did he object to it.
After what seemed like endless narrow passageways and pretentious portraits they stopped outside a door on the third floor.
“The password is Salazar,” He drawled as the door instantaneously opened.
“How original.” Hermione muttered dryly beneath her breath as she stepped into the room. Malfoy had seemingly disappeared leaving her stood alone, cold and wet. She glanced around the room. Perfectly white marble blanketed the floor, magnifying every fraction of a movement, making the drip-drop of water meticulously loud. Long green curtains framed the central window, festooned with silver adornments, and indeed everything shimmered emerald. The enormous bed was covered in a sheen of emerald silk - the imprint of it’s owner still detectable from earlier that day.
“Honestly, Granger.” Malfoy spat, now emerging from the bathroom looking painstakingly impeccable. “Reparo.” He pointed his wand at Hermione and her darkened locks were instantly dry and flowing in soft curls.
“Thanks.” She rigidly commented, her eyes still narrowed. Malfoy sighed and approached her.
“Look,” He began. “As you know, you’re here for your safety. And the Ministry think it best for us to be permanently bound.”
“Yes, I know.” She spat, her hand instantly reaching to the bare fingers of her left hand.
“No.” He continued, glaring. “Further. I have been instructed to use a complex charm to literally bind us together. Within five metres of one another. Hence-” He then gestured towards the bed - the only bed.
“I’m not..” Hermione whispered, her cheeks flushing slightly as Malfoy smirked at her ineptness.
“You’re not what?” He asked, discarding his robes. Hermione averted her eyes - his sodden white shirt was stuck to his body, translucent, highlighting the muscles of his stomach. She stumbled over to the bed, eyeing her suitcase that stood beside it. She awkwardly knelt down, clumsily rummaging through her clothes as she, too, removed her drenched robes. A sigh escaped her lips. She immediately regretted it - surely her own white blouse would behave in the same manner as his. Her hands fumbled gracelessly through her clothing, thrusting her underwear deeper inside the case to avoid further embarrassment. When she finally found her nightdress - why did she pack such a flimsy garment? - a shadow fell across her face. Her eyes flickered upwards to Malfoy who towered menacingly above her, an article of lace between finger and thumb. She quickly rose and snatched her underwear from the smirking, insufferable adolescent before marching to the bathroom away from him.
How had he even come to find them? Her knickers for goodness sake! And silken ones at that! They were still tightly scrunched in her left fist as she slammed the bathroom door shut, her newly dry hair quivering around her shoulders. She vigorously unbuttoned her transparent shirt sending several pearly buttons flying across the room with her vigour. Her straight black skirt was the next to go, quickly followed by her underwear that was thankfully, this time, of normal substance and size. She turned to the large golden bath - golden! - and watched torrents of clear water ripple across the smooth surface.
Once it was suitably filled she gingerly dipped in her hand, swirling the warm water with her fingers. In a moment of deep distrust for the man who sat mere metres away, with the partition of wall the only means of separation, she picked up the small metal cube that stood proudly nearby - God knows the function of that obtrusive thing! - and pushed it against the door. Once satisfied, she turned and approached the bath with her peace of mind now at ease. She slowly lowered herself into the tub, the water obscenely hot against her cool skin.
She leant back allowing the water to glide over her stomach and thighs. In retrospect, the day had been worse than even she had anticipated. Indeed, she had managed to console herself in the arms of her friend - however briefly so - but even they were words of simple nothingness. Hollow words of self-pity. But isn’t that what she was now indulging in? Gluttonous self-pity that left her guilt-ridden and yet still inescapably upset. But what does it matter now if she drowns in egocentric sorrow? Her fate has been decidedly determined and set in alignment with none other than Draco Malfoy. The arrogant bastard who had tainted the previous seven years of her life. Oh, the irony!
And the way he treated her! Coming to her home: her sanctuary, where no harm had ever penetrated and he had stolen that from her. He had rid her of the small fragment of hope that she had grasped at with lingering distress. It had been her haven. Everyone whom she loved lived under that roof and during the past few months she had barely left the grounds other than to go to the Ministry (and that was obligatory anyway). And now it had been cruelly taken from her in a blink of the eye. And now where was she? Sat in her nemesis’s bath. And soon she would be in his bedroom, in his bed. And the ‘binding’? What exactly would that entail? She knew the charm he spoke of, but how would she survive under such dire circumstances? Physically unable to part from him, being physically attached to him. It was all well and good whilst she was here at Malfoy bloody Manor, but term was due to start within a fortnight! Would everyone know? About them? About their sham of a marriage? Speaking of which, when were they going to wed? Surely soon otherwise what would be the point?
Hermione turned onto her side, bathing her silky curls in the simmering liquid. Her eyes gently closed as the rippling water encased her body in a blanket of warmth. The sinuous currents gently swayed across her stomach and back, deepening the weak relaxation she welcomed with open arms.
One could not quite determine the exact moment she fell asleep, but nevertheless she slept for the best part of an hour. She would have most definitely been there longer if it wasn’t for the persistent knocking that pierced the barrier of her consciousness.
“Granger?” He barked, his tone hard. “Are you still in there?” Hermione awoke with a start, the water she lay in spraying everywhere, cool against her feverish skin. She scrambled out of the tub, her limbs shuddering in the now cold air.
“And if you’re trying to escape your wasting your time.” Malfoy continued. “You can’t apparate in here.” Hermione sighed. Her clothes that lay on the floor were truly drenched and crumpled up in the corner. What could she wear now? Panic swelled in her heart as her eyes anxiously flittered around the room. Why did she leave her robes - her wand! - in the bedroom?!?
“Come on!” He ordered, his fist banging on the door. She gasped, now on her hands and knees trying to stretch her skirt. Oh God! Her eyes finally settled on the small towel rack beside the door. She grabbed the topmost one and inspected it carefully. It was made from some sort of Emerald cotton - though, of course, it was doubtlessly the best cotton - and the letters D.M were embossed into the corner in silver thread.
“If you don’t come out now then I’m coming in.” He hissed, shoving the door threateningly causing the door handle to tremble. Hermione clasped the towel around her body, the material scarcely covering her damp skin. She gathered her skirt, blouse and underwear in her arms and drew a deep breath. Her foot kicked the box aside and she vehemently pushed the door open, revealing the fuming Malfoy who’s eyes softened as he perceived Hermione.
“Did I say you could wear my clothes?” He enquired, his voice edged with a perverse humour. She raised a brow, daring him to continue onwards. Despite her defiant expression her reply waned into weakness.
“What do you want me to do about it?” She asked, her voice barely higher than a whisper as she pulled the towel tighter around her wet body. Several droplets of cold water trickled down her shoulders and legs making her skin gleam as her bottom lip began to quiver.
“Well…” He answered, his silver eyes slowly surveying her glistening body suggestively as she struggled to preserve her modesty.
“No.” She spat, malice masking her fear. “How dare you?!? You-you pervert!”
“I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you.” He snarled, his voice menacingly quiet and even. Hermione lowered her gaze, bowing her head as she slowly nodded. Malfoy visibly relaxed as he removed Hermione’s wand from her robe pocket and took his own in the other hand. She silently gasped; was he going to take her wand?
“Here,” He said, handing her her wand as he approached her. “It’s been a long day for the both of us but his had to be done.” Hermione slowly nodded, placing her wand in the crook of her elbow.
“Right.” He began, his brow furrowing as he inclined his head slightly forwards. “Now. The incantation is simple enough - I can do that on my own. But for it to work correctly we both have to be fully consenting. If one of us does not completely assent the other will, to put it simply, be in control of the other.” Hermione snorted. Malfoy would love that. To be in complete command without having to do the dirty work of imperising her. She lifted her head unflinchingly, her strong jaw jutted in defiance. Malfoy held her gaze for a second before continuing.
“Turn around.” He ordered, fingering his mahogany wand.
“What?” She replied, her visage sharp.
“Turn around.” He repeated. “Just do as I say and it’ll all be over and done with.” Hermione glared into his eyes, still gripping the towel securely around her damp body.
“Now!” He hissed, impatience dominating his tone. She slowly turned, emitting a small sigh as she did so. She felt the solid point of his wand pierce her neck.
“What are you doing?” She whispered, perspiration forming across her skin. His wand prodded deeper into the nape of her neck. Blind terror gripped her limbs, twisting her heart strings as her breaths became shallow and laboured.
“Relax.” He breathed, placing a cool hand on her shoulder. She flinched, closing her eyes as his grip on her tightened. “Now listen to me and do exactly as I say. Understand?”
“Yes.” She answered; what else could she do? His hand dropped, though his chest was now pressed to her back. “Think of me-”
“What?!” She interrupted, a trickle of sweat trickling down her back and onto Malfoy’s shirt.
“Just do as I say!” He retorted, his breath hot on her neck. “To make it work you have to think of me and only me. Picture it in your head. Just the image. Okay?” She felt his wand pull away from her neck and she recoiled, releasing the breath she was not aware she had been holding.
“No!” He yelled, forcefully grabbing her upper arm and pulling him towards her. “Fine. If you don’t trust me then I’ll go first.” Hermione regarded him with a wary scepticism but slowly nodded.
“You need to use my wand to extract the image. It’s the same principle as extracting a memory - exactly the same. Just place it in this jar for now.” He gestured to the wide glass container that sat on the counter a few metres away. He turned away, his eyes slipping shut as he did so. Hermione placed her wand between her index finger and thumb and began to probe his skin, searching for the right spot. Her hand trembled uncontrollably as she found the small hollow where his shoulder and collar bone joined but she managed to regain control after a few steadying breaths. She performed the incantation silently, wrenching her hand back in a clumsy, but quick, motion. Malfoy emitted an involuntary scream as serrated pain bolted through his heart, streaking through his spine like electric. A thick, purplish substance hung from the tip of Hermione’s wand, luminous and silvery against her palm. She tipped the matter into the indicated jar. Her own reflection flitted erratically around but Malfoy grabbed the smooth glass before she had time to react. He strode over to the wardrobe and emerged some seconds later with two golden chains dangling from his right forearm. He sat down and pointed his wand at one of the lockets muttering some sort of invocation under his breath. It sprang open to reveal the nothingness it contained. He tipped the contents of the jar into the hollow heart-shaped dome leaving not one drop of Hermione’s embodiment untouched. The metal instantly snapped shut with a definitive click. He dropped both necklaces onto the bed and caressed the back of his neck and forehead, his icy façade slowly disintegrating as Hermione shifted uncomfortably with her hand limp by her side. She dared not move.
“Draco,” She whispered tentatively, her heart resting on a knifes edge as she provoked her fiend. “I can-” She froze mid-sentence as his eyes flashed open, fire burning in his heated glare. He marched over to her with vigour painfully evident in his stride. Hermione’s heart fluttered in her ribcage as dread swept through every fibre of her being causing her to grasp her wand a little tighter. He was now stood directly in front of her, his incensed eyes lingering on hers.
“You can’t do anything! And don’t call me Draco.” He hissed, forcefully thrusting her against the wall. She yelped. His agonizing grip on her waist singed her skin - freezing her heart. Was this how it was going to be? Would her husband despise her so much as to constantly subject her to his erratically violent disposition? To serve only as a punch bag for him to vent his constrained frustration? Did he truly hate her that much? When had the barrier between childish banter and true hatred been crossed?
She twisted her head to the side, gasping sharply as his grasp tightened on her moist skin. His hand slid away. She gently whimpered as he stepped away, pacing around like a caged animal. Hermione felt physically sick at the sight; at how she affected him so badly. So, so very badly.
“Come on then!” He ordered, his voice gruff as he approached her. She quickly turned her back to him, her spine rigid and her back now throbbing.
“Picture me.” He snarled, his wand painfully plunged into her flesh. She nodded, splashing his image onto the blank canvas of her mind whilst she desperately tried to ignore the small towel that threatened to slide straight off her shoulders. Oh God! - the sensation was horrendous. ‘Like extracting a memory.’ the bloody liar! Her chest seem lacerated into multiple parts of ragged painfulness as her brain seemed to pound forcefully against her skull. Her screams filled the air as she sank to her hands and knees.
Malfoy paid little attention; the painful aftermath of the spell was no cause for concern. He lifted his wand at arms length, lifting the now empty jar in his other hand. He slipped the silvery substance into the container. His own manifestation glared back at him through the distorted glass; his eyes cold and sharp; his mouth twisted into a sneer, his fist raised. Was this how she truly perceived him? As a violent menace? He abruptly turned, his heart stilling in the eerie silence.
“Granger?” He whispered, kneeling down beside her, grappling for his wand. When he eventually found it, rolled beneath his bed, he released a small cry - this, this situation was not to be treated by magic. He inclined his head forwards, his face mere millimetres away from hers. Her hot breath tickled his cheek, strangely sensual. Thank God! He leant backwards breathing a sigh of immense relief. A droplet of sweat slid down his forehead and splashed onto her neck, trickling down the line between her breasts. He paused, drawing a shallow breath and observing the unconscious girl who lay before him. He looked at her - really looked at her. She lay sprawled on her back, poised gracefully and her limbs crossed with one another. Her darkened brown curls tumbled around her shoulders and splayed onto the cool floor, a stark contrast to her pallid skin. Dark lashes protruded from her lids, spiked with droplets of clear blue water. Her lips were slightly parted exposing the tip of her wet, pink tongue. And her body! His towel was strategically placed across the swell of her chest and pelvis, though her voluptuousness was still boldly patent. The soft arch of her breasts; the gentle curve of her waist and stomach; the tautness of her thighs. A soft moan escaped her lips, strangely erotic as she writhed on the floor.
For the love of God! What the hell was he doing? Leering at the girl he was protecting. And his arousal was painfully visible; he hastily stood and donned his robes, fastening it fully across his body. He sat down on his bed. The unattended locket sprang open at the tip of his wand and he tipped in her - or rather his - image. It instantly clicked shut, the harsh snap callous in the silent air. He placed the two lockets on his bedside table and tossed the glass jar in the bin with a vehement hurl.
Settling back down on the floor he groaned, resting his head in his hands. He glanced at the door, the beckoning of alcohol overwhelmingly tremendous. But what good would it do? Firewhiskey would slowly numb the internal pain for maybe an hour or two but then he would wake up, gasping, with a side-splitting headache and an irksome mudblood by his side. No. Not tonight at any rate. He stooped down and gathered Hermione in his strong arms, careful to keep the towel covering her full figure as he placed her on the bed. He growled in aggravation, unsure what to do. Incapable of anything else, he wrenched off his robes and shirt and draped them across Hermione’s quivering body. After discarding his belt and trousers he gingerly sunk into the bed, removing the duvet off of himself and tucking it around his sleeping enemy.
A/N: Thanks again for all your support and the wonderful reviews! Please keep them coming! And I promise more action will take place in the upcoming chapters - hopefully anway! Many thanks, Becky x
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