Chapter 16 : Chapter 16
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It was nearly an hour later when Hermione finally made her way back upstairs. Her hunger was satiated and her nerves had completely dissipated. The house was silent and the late night outside was still. As she approached her door, she saw that Draco’s was still open and a soft golden glow lit the corridor.
He had been right about the elves, she saw as she stood in the doorway. The room looked as though hurricane Draco had never passed through. And the man himself was seated in his repaired sitting chair; a nearly depleted bottle of brandy was on the small table beside him. He sat there regally, like a king. A king wearing only his silk sleeping pants, she noted with a blush.
Hermione frowned at him and wondered just how much he had managed to put back in the time she had been gone. However much it was, it was enough to knock him out cold for he had not stirred once and the position his neck was in could not have been comfortable.
She shook her head, knowing she’d never be able to leave him like that. No matter what that horrible woman had said, Hermione knew there was something good in him, hidden beneath his thick dragon hide.
She crossed the room to the chair and lightly touched his bare shoulder. His skin was warm and silky soft and still hard at the same time.
She gave his shoulder a gentle shake.
“Draco,” she said softly.
He groaned and tried to swat her away.
“Come on, get up then,” she said as she tugged lightly at his arm.
His eyes opened slightly, bloodshot and unfocused. He groaned again, clearly he wasn’t going to make things easy.
She grasped both his large hands in her own and stepped away to pull him up.
“Come on. Up,” she said as she pulled him to his feet.
He staggered and nearly knocked the both of them to the floor.
Somehow, she kept her footing and maneuvered one of his arms over her shoulder as she directed him to his bed. Now, close to him, she really wondered how much he had drank in such a short time, because he smelled like a distillery.
The short distance to his bed felt like a mile and she wondered to herself how someone so tall and lean could be so heavy.
She managed to get him sitting in his bed and by then his eyes were fully open, watching her. She stopped and looked back at him.
“What?” she asked as she put the decorative pillows from the bed on the floor nearby.
He didn’t speak. He only watched her with his glassy eyes.
She shook her head at his state. “You’re really something, you know that?”
She reached the bed again and managed to get him positioned onto his pillow and the sheet up to his waist. She looked down at him with concern.
“Do you need anything? Water? You had far too much to drink,” she scolded him. Without waiting for an answer, she conjured a glass and filled it with water. She sat on the edge of the bed and held it toward him. “Here, drink.”
He sat up on one arm and drank the glass in one long gulp.
“You’re going to have the worst headache-” but her words were cut off midsentence.
Within a split second everything had changed. One moment she was speaking and the next his lips were on hers. It took her several seconds to realize exactly what had happened.
His free hand sunk into the thickness of her hair and pulled her closer to him. He was warm and smelled wonderful, aside from the overpowering alcohol that seeped through his skin. He tasted like it too, sweet and bitter.
She opened her mouth slightly and he took advantage. He freed his other arm to pull her closer and he took her down with him as he lay back into his pillow.
She was lost and time stood still for two minutes. It was completely irrelevant who they were, and where they were; the lives they lived and the world they lived them in. Nothing mattered but the feeling of his lips and tongue; and his hands, fiery hot, on her neck, on the small of her back, pulling her forcefully into him. All reason and logic fled her mind completely. She was glad when he tore his lips from hers, because she knew she would not have been able to.
She inhaled sharply when she felt his hot mouth on her neck. Both his hands were on her back and she could feel every inch of him pressed against her. But she could breathe now, and she could think clearly; she could form a complete thought again.
She pulled away from him and sat up. His hands rested on her hips and he tried to pull her closer again. His eyes, black and hazy, searched her face.
“No,” she whispered between her labored breaths. “You’re drunk.”
She stood up from the bed and backed several feet away from him. She had to leave. She had to leave now, while she still could. She turned from him and hurried out of the room, pulling the door shut behind her.
His head flopped down to the pillow and he sighed. His eyelids slowly closed and his breathing deepened to a slow and steady rhythm. And he drifted away.
She leaned against the door, forcing her breath to calm and her body to cool.
She realized in that moment how dangerous he was. If she wasn’t careful, she’d lose herself completely, the way the girls did back at Hogwarts. Oh, how she had sneered at them, fawning and cooing as he passed in the hall. Such silly girls, she had thought.
She couldn’t let this happen; she was here for a reason. She had to focus. She couldn’t let herself like him; she wouldn’t allow herself to love him. He was Draco Malfoy, she was Hermione Granger. No. It could not be allowed.
She sighed heavily and crossed the hall to her room, shutting the door.
Things would be so much easier if her heart and body would listen to her mind.
The morning after the kiss was awkward for Hermione. She ate her breakfast in silence. The only sound breaking the quiet was that of silverware clinking against china.
When she finally ventured a glance at Draco, his eyes met hers. She felt herself blush from her cheeks to her chest and quickly looked away. Draco, who remembered very little of the late hours of the previous night, looked at her curiously and wondered why she seemed so… shy.
She ate hurriedly and spared no words for conversation, fleeing the room as soon as she possibly could.
She was unsure of how to proceed now. She knew if she let them, things could get out of hand. He could be very charming and the last thing she needed was to be bewitched and lose her focus; she was on a mission. But perhaps that was unavoidable. She would be marrying him, after all.
Amid her very confused thoughts she came to one logical conclusion: avoid him. And she proceeded to do just that. She hid in the library for hours and when she wasn’t there she was lurking in some remote, unused part of the Manor. She had become particularly fond of the East solarium. It was lovely to bring a book and bask in the warmth of what sun she could. And it helped distract her of other, more troubling thoughts.
She pushed her feelings aside and tried her best to forget them. However, just when she thought she had completely freed herself of them, she’d pass him in the hall or happen upon a very large and accurate portrait of the very man she was trying so hard to steer clear of.
Funny how that happens, the one thing one tries to avoid has a way of finding them wherever they are. And so for three days, she unsuccessfully avoided Draco and all thoughts of him.
Wednesday found Hermione wandering the hall outside of Draco’s study. She had been trying to work up the nerve to speak to him but had thus far failed. She paced back and forth in the hall muttering various speeches. After several minutes of this ridiculous scene, she worked up the nerve to knock.
She stepped in front of the door and raised her hand as she held her breath. Only an instant before her fist fell to the wood she heard them. She halted her knock and leaned into the door to try to hear what was said.
“And what of Potter? He’ll do his best to never let this happen,” Draco’s deep voice said angrily.
The reply to that statement was virtually inaudible. Hermione shivered as she heard the chilling hissing from within the room. It conjured repressed memories of Voldemort and she felt her heart begin to race.
“What? “ Draco bellowed at the hissing man. “Have you gone mad?! You want me to kill Potter?”
Hermione froze in the hall. Her eyes widened to the size of saucers.
“Figure it out?! Figure it out?! It’s bloody impossible!” Draco continued his yelling at whoever his guest was.
Several silent moments passed and Hermione barely breathed.
“No, no, you know nothing of that. Don’t speak of it!” Another silence broke between Draco’s angry shouts. “He was already dying, and I didn’t kill him, damn it!”
Dumbledore, Hermione thought as a single tear trickled down her cheek. Didn’t everyone know Snape had killed him, not Draco? Snape had killed the only friend he’d ever had and in doing so had saved Draco’s innocence.
She registered louder hissing sounds and then the obvious noise of the floo flaring to life as someone floo’d away.
“This is insane! He wants me to do the impossible! Even if I wanted Potter dead, it’s something not even the Dark Lord could accomplish, and he expects me to?” Draco fumed near the door.
Hermione took in small fearful breaths as she started edging away from the door slightly. She’d best not be caught eavesdropping on this conversation.
She made out Lucius’ deep voice responding softly to his son, but could not tell what he said.
Draco began speaking softer than before. Hermione edged closer to make out his words. “…impossible task. Either he wants me dead, or he’s too stupid to see that. Something else will have to be done.”
Harry, the name echoed in Hermione’s mind, I have to tell Harry.
“I suppose. We’ll have to come up with something. With what he has planned, I won’t add to the death toll. We just need Potter to disappear for a bit…” Draco answered to whatever someone else had said. She heard him sigh, “What have I gotten myself into?”
Hermione’s own thoughts echoed that sentiment.
She had to get a letter to Harry; she had to let him know what was happening. She turned from the door to run but froze as her first footfall echoed loudly through the hallway. Damn marble floors and damn these silly shoes, she thought angrily as she looked for a place to hide. She dashed across the hall, careful not to let the heels of her shoes clap loudly on the floor, and swung open a door she had never ventured through.
She shut it only just in time as she heard the door to Draco’s study open and several footsteps enter the corridor. She froze on the other side of the door and listened.
“Are you sure you heard something?” one of the Lestranges asked.
“Yes,” Lucius answered.
The hall was silent for some time and Hermione held her breath.
“I don’t see anything, Lucius,” Rodolphus finally said.
“Indeed,” the elder Malfoy replied. “Goyle.” She heard a shuffling of steps enter the hall. “Stay here until we’re finished,” Lucius instructed the portly man. She heard a grunt in reply and nearly groaned in realization that she was trapped.
Hermione waited until she heard the study door click shut again before she exhaled softly. She reached down and removed the blasted shoes that put her in this position.
She finally looked around at the room she had entered. Only faint light entered through the heavily draped windows. She wove a path through the sheet covered objects in the room to the windows. Grasping to sides of the thick velvet drapery she pulled them ever so softly apart, allowing more hazy evening sun to drift in through the dirty glass.
She turned to see the room again. It was a long, rectangular room, with a high ceiling beautifully adorned with a mural of clouds and cherubs. She would have thought the room to be a ballroom if she didn’t know the Manor had one already. And there were far too many white linen covered objects for it to be a ballroom.
Hesitantly, she moved to one of the large objects and pulled the dust-sheet away. Her eyes widened slightly at what she found: a gold encrusted harp, which stood nearly as tall as she. She darted around the room yanking the sheets from everything she could and stirring a horrible dust cloud into the air.
With the last piece uncovered, she gazed with shining eyes at the room. It was obviously an unused music room. Years of dust had collected on the pieces and now floated in the air, dancing about in the sunlight like glitter.
A grin crossed her face and she was temporarily distracted from all her other thoughts and worries. She wanted to pluck the ivory key of the grand piano before her. Her fingers itched to move and bring forth music from the old instrument, to break the crypt-like silence with something beautiful and melodic. She didn’t realize she was reaching for the piano until she froze. She heard the men in the hall, leaving the study behind. She sighed, only then remembering the urgent matters at hand.
Reluctantly, she left the room, looking slightly more used than it had when she arrived. She crept into the hall, as silently as she could and hurried away to her room. She had to get a letter to Harry immediately.
Hermione sat nervously at the dinner table. Her leg bounced rapidly under the table and her eyes darted around skittishly. Her odd behavior did not go unnoticed by the others seated at the table. It didn’t help matters any that both Lestranges and Knott had stayed for dinner.
She willed the blasted owl to fly a little faster; she needed Harry’s response and she needed it now. She picked at her dinner, her stomach too upset to consider eating. With the meal nearly over, she was elated to see a flutter of white feathers swooping down towards her. Hedwig landed on the back of her chair and waited long enough for the letter to be removed before glancing menacingly at the Malfoys and flying out.
Hermione ripped the letter open. She frowned as she read. Harry wasn’t worried at all. In fact, he told her she was overreacting and he was perfectly safe. He suggested she act as though nothing had happened. She scoffed aloud as she read that line gain, as if nothing had happened. He’d be out in two days for lunch and they could discuss it all in more detail.
With a scowl to rival one of Draco’s, she whipped out her wand and pointed it at the letter. Watching it burst into flames until all that was left was a small fluttering black remnant. Only then did she look up and see she had the attention of all at the table.
“Sorry,” she muttered and took a sip of her wine.
“Is everything all right, dear?” Narcissa asked; her brow was pinched in concern.
“Oh, yes, just a tiff with Harry. He’s being a prat,” Hermione replied with a smile. She figured the closer to the truth the better; the less likely she’d be to get caught in a lie.
“When is he not?” Draco chimed in and smirked at her deviously.
She glanced at him coldly and rolled her eyes, trying to act as normal as possible. It was hard to do considering the men at the table were conspiring to have her best friend killed.
“I think I’m done, if you’ll excuse me,” she said rising from the table. All the men stood as well while she exited. Once outside the hall she sighed heavily.
What was she to do? Harry was unconcerned with the obvious danger. She was helpless to prevent it or even confront Draco about it. She massaged her temples and decided she needed a distraction.
She moved away from the dining room quickly, eager to forget the problems this day had brought her.
Draco walked back to his study, his father and the three other men trailing behind him and conversing quietly. He wasn’t quite sure when his life became so damn complicated. It seemed if it wasn’t one thing plaguing him it was another, an endless chain of obstacles to overcome. And to be perfectly frank, he was sick of it all.
And to top it all off, Granger was acting… peculiar. She had been for several days now. She was always dashing off into some random room when she saw him coming, rushing through dinner, and well when he thought about it, she’d been avoiding him. Why the devil would she do that? He thought angrily. How long was it now she had been living with them? Two and half weeks? And he couldn’t say they had come very far in that time frame. He didn’t expect it to be honest. Eventually, he would have to level with her about some things. And she would cooperate, if she liked living.
He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. She’d never cooperate. And she was far too clever to be lied to. She’d figure it all out in time.
Draco was completely lost in his thoughts as he approached his study door. So it was a great startle to all the men in the hall to hear what they did. Coming from the music room was a completely foreign sound to everyone present.
Draco hesitated a moment, fearing the explosion he was sure would come. He had been forbidden to go in that room his entire life, as had his own father. That was Cedrella’s music room. Not a soul stepped foot into it. Abraxas Malfoy made sure of that, and so Lucius passed the same mentality to his own son. It was something of a desecration to know someone had entered into that long forgotten shrine.
Draco dared a look at his father, who was looking at the door wondrously with a brow quirked, as if the door itself were making the foreign noises. Draco was the first to move towards the room. He turned the knob and pushed the door open, aware of the others peering in behind him.
The sight that met him was not what he had expected. The curtains had been thrown away from the windows revealing the brightly lit terrace and grounds outside. The instruments had all been uncovered and from the looks of it the entire room had been relieved of dust. It looked, in short, as though it hadn’t gone untouched for almost one hundred years.
There in the middle of the room with one of the small wooden stringed instruments on her shoulder, was Hermione. She was surrounded by six other pieces, all enchanted to accompany her in her own private orchestra. The sounds she elicited from her small instrument were beautiful, and yet heartbreaking; a lovely, dramatic piece that the men couldn’t help but feel entranced by.
Her arms moved quickly, adjusting the bow to produce unique and different sounds. At times she moved it slowly across the bridge and at others incomprehensibly fast. Her hair was piled on top of her head but pieces had fallen loose and bounced to and fro as she swayed to the beat of the music.
The song ended and at that point she noticed the five men that had invaded her haven. She stood up and looked at them, the instrument clutched in her left hand and the bow in her right.
“I’m sorry,” she started with a deep blush. She suddenly felt as though she was the one who had intruded from the looks on Lucius’ and Draco’s faces. “I’m sorry; I should’ve asked to use the instruments.”
After a long silence Lucius shook his head, “No, no it’s fine. This room has gone unused for far too long.”
Draco’s head snapped sideways to look at his father incredulously. He watched in amazement as his father drifted into the center of the room and sat himself on one of the extra chairs.
“What was that?” he asked as he looked at the girl in wonder.
“The music?” she asked. He nodded. “Oh, well, it was a song from the mid 70s by an English rock band called Led Zeppelin. It wasn’t originally played on these instruments but it translated really well. It’s called Kashmir,” she said, her know-it-all side coming out in full force, always eager to explain something to someone who was obviously clueless.
“Kashmir?” he asked, a look of confusion gracing his elegant features.
“Yes,” she said with a smile and opened her mouth to go into the long details of how the song came to have its title and the cultures that had influenced its unique sound but was stopped short.
“Play another,” Lucius said.
Draco felt like sulking. His father had never allowed him in this room. Granger stepped in and actually knew how to use the damned things and his father was entranced, forgetting 89 years of tradition. It wasn’t fair.
“Another? Oh well… I don’t know,” Hermione said, the blush returning to her cheeks again under the intense scrutiny of the five men.
“Play,” he said more forcefully.
“Alright,” she said, retaking her seat and thinking a moment about her next selection. She lifted the bow and prepared to begin.
“What are you going to play?” Lucius asked. It was the most interested Hermione had ever seen him in anything involving her.
Draco stood in the door way with his arms crossed and huffed.
“Ugh…it’s Canon… in D Major,” she said and positioned herself again.
“Who wrote it?” he asked.
“Uhh…”she sighed, “Pachelbel, I believe.”
“Was he a wizard?” he probed.
She looked at him quizzically, “Not that I know of.”
“A Muggle?” he stated, sounding fairly scandalized.
“Yes, a Muggle. Do you want to hear it or not?” she said with a huff, irritated by all his interruptions.
He pursed his lips and waived his hand, telling her to go on.
Over the course of the five minute piece, all of the men had taken up some residence in the room: leaning broodingly against the wall, in the antique wingback chairs, on the padded piano benches.
She played out the last note and silence filled the room for several long moments.
“Well, that was lovely,” Lucius said standing and heading to the hall. “You’ll have to play for us again sometime.”
He left the room and the Lestranges and Knott followed shortly after, all travelled across the hall to Draco’s study. Only he remained, glaring at her from the wall.
“I don’t know how you managed it…” Draco said from across the room.
“Pardon?” she said spinning around looking at him fiercely, her anger with him having still not abated.
“No one has been allowed in this room in almost ninety years. But you come in and make some screeching noises and he overlooks all of that.”
“I’m... sorry…” she said with a frown. She wasn’t sure what type of response he wanted to that.
She turned from him and went about putting away the violin and tidying the room, ignoring his presence. She no longer felt the need to speak with him, not after what she had learned earlier in the evening. He was supposed to kill Harry. Maybe he didn’t want to, but that didn’t ease her mind any.
In the midst of her straightening, he grasped her shoulders and spun her around to face him.
“What’s the matter with you?” he demanded in a low voice.
“Nothing,” she snapped. “Let me go.”
“No. Why have you been avoiding me?” he hissed at her. “You’ve been acting strange since Sunday morning. What’s the problem?”
“I…well I… it doesn’t matter! Let me go!” She pulled against his hold on her arms but only managed to cause herself more pain as he gripped her tighter.
“You won’t tell me?” he asked, a dangerous gleam in his eye.
She shook her head stubbornly.
“Fine!” he hissed and dropped her arms, but before she could move his wand was in her face. “Legilimens!”
Shit, Hermione thought. Quickly, she brought up only the memories of Saturday night, all the memories, even the kiss. Anything to hide what she’d heard today. She focused on Saturday and in particular him kissing her, the lustful look in his eyes, him pulling her into his bed.
He withdrew quickly and stepped away. He nodded at her.
“Sorry,” he coughed out.
“For which? Kissing me or violating my mind?” she asked angrily.
“I’m sure you are.” She started to push past him but he stopped her again.
“Is that why you’ve been avoiding me? Because I kissed you?” he asked, looking in her eyes for some answer. “You do realize we’re going to be married, don’t you?”
“That has nothing to do with it!”
“Then what is the problem?” he hissed, he really didn’t understand women.
“You only kissed me because you were drunk! That’s the problem and it’s embarrassing! Now let me go!” she yelled at him. Her voice echoed off the vaulted ceilings of the old room.
He smirked at her. “That’s what the issue is?”
“Yes! Now let me-”
For the second time, he cut her off and shut her up quite effectively with his lips on hers. If the first kiss had been dangerous, the second was downright deadly. He moved his lips against hers fiercely. It was a kiss wrought with fury, hot and demanding. He poured his frustration from the day into it.
She was temporarily blinded by shock and hardly noticed when he pulled her closer. She opened her mouth and responded to his kiss timidly. He assaulted her tongue and lightly nipped her lower lip. She ran her hands up his chest and would have wrapped them around his neck, had he not pulled away.
Her head sagged forward and she tried to catch her breath. She did not even have her eyes open when she heard his footsteps withdrawing from the room. She opened them slowly and saw him stop at the door. He smirked at her like the devil he was before disappearing through the doorway.
She lifted one hand to her chest to try to steady her breathing. She reached up to her cheek and felt the warm flush that surely tinged them pink.
She walked back to her room in a daze, mentally berating herself the whole way for letting him get to her. And hating herself for liking it as much as she did.
AN: Thank you everyone for reading and all the wonderful reviews you leave me. I really appreciate them and love reading them. And the song I refered to, Kashmir, I was specifically using a translation by the British crossover group called Bond. They are a string quartet and I really love their classical version of the song. So if you were wondering what it sounded like, you can look them up and listen. :) Thank you again! I'll get busy on Chapter 17 and, hopefully, have it finished and submitted soon!
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