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Chapter 14 : Unfinished Business
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Hermione wouldn’t look at him; she kept her eyes focused on her shoes. “I can’t do this, Malfoy. Not now,” she said in a listless tone.
“What’s the problem? It’s all pretty clear if you ask me—I understand you, you understand me. Case closed.” He leaned in to kiss her and Hermione tried to push him away.
“But Ron nothing. Don’t use him as an excuse. He’s not your boyfriend, no matter what you try to say.” He grabbed her face with one hand and forced her to look at him. The expression on his face was a combination of frustration and, she wasn’t quite sure, but it looked like tenderness. The hand that had grabbed her face turned into a gentle caress across her cheek. She was utterly transfixed and could do nothing but stare up into his silver-blue eyes. Eyes that contained the same shadows as hers did. Eyes that wouldn’t let her hide from him in any way, and most importantly, eyes that understood her. “Hermione,” Malfoy began with a softer tone.
That was it. Any reservations that had still existed in Hermione’s mind melted away in that moment. Her hands came up to frame his face. “Draco, I’m so sorry,” she said in a near whisper.
“For?” His expression was clouded.
“For lying to you to by trying to push you away,” she finished and leaned in to give him a light kiss.
Of course, with Malfoy, nothing stayed light for very long. With a moan of satisfaction, he wound a hand in her hair and another around her waist and pulled her in close. For the first time, Hermione allowed herself to fully enjoy his amorous attentions without guilt. She kissed him back thoroughly, delighting in the feel of his hands on her, the taste of him, and how his kiss made her feel like she was the victim of a jelly-legs jinx.
And then she remembered why they were in the hallway in the first place. “Draco,” she began, attempting with great difficulty and reluctance to pull away from him. “Draco, we have to stop. Slughorn will be coming back to his office at any minute and we can’t have him catch us like this.”
“Why not?” he said with a chuckle. “It’d be entertaining.” He began to nibble lightly at her neck.
With a shiver, Hermione ducked away from him. He was quickly becoming irresistible to her and she had to get control while she still possessed a small semblance of rational thought. “It’s not just that…we shouldn’t be doing this just yet.”
Malfoy gave her an incredulous look and pulled her in for another kiss. “What the hell are you talking about?” he said as he continued to nibble her neck.
“Draco, it’s not that I don’t want to,” she let out a light gasp as his tongue ran over her earlobe. “I’m just not ready to let anybody else know about it.”
He stopped abruptly and stepped back from her, his eyes narrowed. “What?” he demanded. “Is this just a dirty little secret for you or something, Granger? Because I don’t play those sort of games.”
“No! Not at all—it’s just that I have some unfinished business to take care of first. I want to do this the right way.” She had to be up front with Ron, Ginny and Harry. She couldn’t lie to them and would do whatever it took to make sure that this didn’t ruin their friendship. Until she took care of that, she would never feel right about what was happening between her and Draco Malfoy. She clasped his hand and looked earnestly into his eyes. “Trust me,” she added.
He looked back at her in silence for about a minute, then let out a sigh of exasperation. “You Gryffindors and your sense of honor. When do you plan on ‘finishing your business’?”
“This weekend Harry and Ron are meeting me and Ginny in Hogsmeade. I’d rather tell them all in person, together. It’s the right thing to do.”
Malfoy had a slight smirk on his face. “And Merlin knows you always do the right thing. Good thing you have me to keep you from being totally lame.”
Hermione bent over to pick up her bag. “Oh, right, I didn’t know almost constant detention with Slughorn could be such fun! Thank you so much for showing me the light.”
Malfoy took the bag from her and slung it over his free shoulder. “I’m just teaching you how to loosen up a bit, Granger. Call it my good deed for the day.” They continued down the hall.
“Loosen up? I see,” Hermione was enjoying the good-natured banter. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt light enough to be in a teasing mood. “But what if your plan backfires? We may end up with another detention and then I won’t be able to go to Hogsmeade, and then…” They had reached the door to Slughorn’s office. Hermione shrugged delicately and pushed open the door. “Oh well,” she added as she entered the office. It was her turn to irk Malfoy and she was going to enjoy it for all it was worth. She sat down in a chair with a sigh. “The next trip to Hogsmeade won’t be for another two weeks after that. Guess we’ll just have to hold off until then.”
“Oh no…I don’t think so. Nice try, Granger. Observe,” he added as Slughorn entered the office.
Professor Slughorn was in a state of complete disarray. The little amount of hair that he possessed was all standing up on end, he was drenched in sweat and his clothes were hopelessly rumpled and stained. Plus, he smelled like a garbage dump during a heat wave. Hermione immediately felt sorry for him—although he was a bit pompous, he really hadn’t done anything to either of them, yet he had already had more than his share of chaos to deal with, compliments of herself and Malfoy.
She stood up. “Professor Slughorn, I am so sorry—“
Malfoy shoved her back down into the chair. “Sir, I owe you an apology,” he began, as walked over to Slughorn and helped him over to a seat. “I was very nervous today, and I ended up making a colossal mistake with the potions ingredients,” he handed the Professor his handkerchief so that he could mop off his sweaty brow.
“Thank you Mr. Malfoy,” Slughorn took the handkerchief and wiped not only his brow, but also his neck as well as the top of his head. “Nervous, did you say? Whatever for?”
Hermione couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Malfoy was actually going to manage to worm his way out of this one. Sneaky Slytherin, she thought, as she watched in fascination.
“Well, like I said before, Potions is my favorite class and I really wanted to impress you. I guess that’s why I’ve been acting out so much in class lately, so I could get your attention.” Hermione was watching a master at work—Malfoy knew that Slughorn’s weakness was that he was very susceptible to flattery and Malfoy was giving him exactly what he craved.
Slughorn sat back in his chair and puffed up his chest. He looked more walrus-like than ever and Hermione fought to keep her face straight. “All right, Mr. Malfoy. I suppose we all make mistakes from time to time. Just remember that if you ever need any help, next time, simply ask for it. Potions is a fascinatingly complex subject so I do understand your zeal, but remember that proper decorum in class must be observed at all times.”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir, I will.” He made a small come-here gesture to Hermione that Slughorn couldn’t see. Hermione stood up. “May we be excused now, Professor? We don’t want to stink up your office any more, and you must have much more important things to do.”
“Very true, very true. Oh, and Miss Granger, perhaps you might consider taking some extra time to assist Mr. Malfoy with Potions? A little tutoring might be just what he needs.”
Shocked, Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but Malfoy cut her off. “That sounds like a great idea, sir. We’ll get on that right away.” And with that, he pulled her out the office door.
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