Chapter 12 : Fighting the Temptation
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Mr. Draco Malfoy,
Because of your wonderful recommendation from Mr. Harry Potter I am writing to extend to you the offer for the position of the assistant to the director of Muggle Relations. You will be required to attend a weekend seminar with the rest of the department. Please be ready to go by 9:30 this morning, an escort will be meeting you in the lobby of the ministry 5 minutes before departure time.
Head of Muggle Relations
That gave him fifteen minutes to get there. Draco had applied for the job weeks ago, in fact that was the reason he had been late the night that Granger had her breakdown. He hadn’t thought that there was much of a chance of his getting the job so he never even thought about bringing it up to her.
What would she do if he never showed at all? He couldn’t even think about the repercussions of that. He also couldn’t not go, part of the reason that he had even tried for this job was to find someway to prove himself worthy of Granger. He grabbed at his hair in frustration. It was a lose, lose situation.
Then for some reason Potter came to mind. He had given Draco a recommendation, maybe he would be willing to help him with Granger as well. Draco quickly got some things together, along with that day’s gift and apparated in front of the visitor’s entrance to the ministry. He ran through the atrium as soon as the lift hit the floor; turning his head frantically left and right hoping to see Potter so that he wouldn’t have to try and find him in the chaos that was the Auror Department floor. He looked at his watch and noted that he had 3 minutes until his escort was to meet him.
Panic was starting to settle in his chest, even though he could always owl her, he wanted to make sure that the message got to her as quickly as possible, before she had a chance to do anything rash. His heart leapt with joy as he saw the black messy hair that had to belong to Potter. In three long strides he was behind the man and pulled his arm rather harshly to turn him around. A pair of deep brown eyes and a pointed noise stared back at him in disgust.
“Excuse me,” the stranger said as he jerked his arm out of Draco’s grasp.
“My mistake, I Thought you were someone else,” Draco mumbled, and turned away, all hope of reaching Granger soon evaporating into the air. Just as he completed his turn from the ‘not Potter bloke’ he ran into something hard and it knocked him off his feet.
Draco‘s eyes focused on the pair of black shoes that stood in front of him, “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” Draco snapped at the man.
“I could say the same to you.” Draco’s head popped up. After years of taunting the boy his voice was as familiar as his own mothers. Potter stood there, making no effort to help Draco up off of the floor. He scrambled quickly to his feet and brushed the dirt from his robes. Relief filling his heart.
“Good, I have been looking for you?” Harry raised an eyebrow in question.
“I need you to do something for me.”
“What? I haven’t done enough already?”
“Yes, actually, you’ve done more than enough, but I need you to do one more thing. It isn’t for me really, it’s for Granger.”
Draco quickly informed Potter about what was going on and asked him as nicely as he could for him to go to Granger and explain. He handed over that day’s gift with the instruction not to give it to her until after she knew why he was not going to be there. To his delight Potter didn’t even seem to be phased by his request. There was obviously no brotherly loyalty to the Weasel. After that night of seeing the red head in Granger’s apartment Draco was sure that it would all be over, but there had been nothing since, and Potter his supposed best mate was willing to deliver a gift to Granger from him, a Malfoy. He knew there was more to it than what was let on, but he hadn’t the nerve to ask her, afraid that if he brought up Weasley it could ruin any headway that he had been making.
With a much lighter heart Draco went to meet his escort, a short balding man with a thick handlebar mustache. “Mr. Malfoy I presume? I am Jarvis Bangor.” Draco shook the man’s delicate hand and followed as Mr. Bangor led him to one of the fireplaces along the wall.
It had been a lonely couple of days. Thoughts of visiting Harry and Ginny would flit across her mind, but she easily discarded them, not wanting to leave her flat just in case he was able to stop by. It was a ridiculous hope, one that she hadn’t even fully admitted to herself.
Hermione had been delighted to read the book that Harry had brought with him, and was even more delighted by the book that was owl delivered the next day. At least she would be able to keep herself busy. It was amazing to her that she had gone so long without reading. Of coarse she had read the reports that were put on her desk, and she would occasionally do some research, but she hadn’t let herself get so immersed since after the war. She had been so busy, helping with reparations, falling in love, then of coarse after everything had happened, books had been the last thing on her mind. She was only able to focus on her pain, trying so hard to overcome the sensation, to block it out or numb it.
It was late, the moon shone through the window and cast shadows along the bed. He lay there sleeping, snoring lightly with a drop of drool begging to fall onto the pillow. Her stomach rumbled, she had eaten three hours ago but hunger had awoken her. A sudden flash of salt and vinegar crisps with vanilla ice cream came into her mind, and she licked her lips. Was it too late to get some? There was a muggle shop on the corner that was usually open until 2 in the morning. She shifted slightly in the bed, and upon her movement he wrapped his arm around her belly, which was still not showing any signs of the baby growing within.
She shifted again and his moan echoed throughout the silent room. Her fingers brushed through his hair, and his eyes fluttered open.
“’Mione, you okay?” He said in a half mumble?
“Yeah, just a bit hungry,” and to prove her point her stomach made a low grumble.
“I’d say, does baby need some food?” He chuckled, as he spoke to her belly, now more awake. “I can see what we have downstairs.” His piercing blue eyes looked up at her.
Her disappointment must have been apparent because he then asked, “what can I get for you?”
“Well I was thinking about some of those salt and vinegar crisps and…” she tucked her chin down and looked up at him through her lashes, “…vanilla ice cream.”
He looked at her questioningly, but then his eyes brightened and he said, “you know, that doesn’t sound half bad.” He looked over at the clock on their wall, “I’ve got ten minutes till 2, you think I can make it?”
She grinned, “of coarse you can.” He dashed out of the room and she snuggled back into the bed, anxiously awaiting her after midnight snack.
It had been a long weekend, full of meetings at a local muggle hotel, and it took all of Draco’s energy to be civil. He was physically missing Granger and it didn’t help that everyone in his department had already written him off. He had only gotten the job because their Wonder-Boy had recommended him, and he could tell that if they had had their way he would be located at the wrong end of a killing curse.
His patience did seem to win him some points with Jarvis Bangor, but the head of the department, Grady Cornwallace, was blatantly resentful of Draco’s presence in his department. The sigh that came out of his mouth when Cornwallace announced that the weekend would end earlier than scheduled echoed throughout the room, and Draco heard a few stifled chuckles from behind him.
The words had barely just come out of Cornwallace’s mouth when Draco started looking forward to going to Granger’s that night. He had used his hour lunch break the day before to pick out the perfect present for his coming home. He was so excited about giving it to her, that he didn’t look where he was going and ended up running into a door jamb with his shoulder. It didn’t hurt too much, but it knocked him back and he swiveled and fell into the person behind him.
He was caught by small thin arms; there was a familiar scent of lavender in the air. Once his balance was caught he turned around and stared into the hazel eyes of Sarah. Her short ash blond hair was pinned back at the sides, and her mouth fell into the shape of an ‘O’ upon recognition.
“Draco?” Her stunned expression quickly turning into a smile.
“No, it’s Harry Potter.” He retorted back.
“Never mind.” Draco tried to step past her but she moved in time with him blocking his exit.
“How’ve you been?” She placed her hand on his chest and he felt his heartstrings tug at her touch.
“Fine.” He tried again to get past her, he couldn’t take this right now. She moved again to block him.
“Can we talk?” Her voice was soft and pleading
“What for? Everything’s been said.”
“Please Draco, just for a minute.” He knew that it was a bad idea, that she didn’t deserve his time, but a part of him wanted to hear her apologize, he wanted her to beg for him to come back. Not that he wanted to go back. No, Granger’s face entered his mind and he knew that he would never go back to Sarah.
“Fine.” She led him through the hotel to the bar near the lobby. He sat at a bar stool and raised his finger to the bar tender to get his attention. “I’ll have a pint.”
Sarah sat down next to him and ordered some sort of green martini.
“So you wanted to talk, then talk.” He took a long draft from his beer.
“What are you doing here?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but I am here for work.”
“Really? Me too, we had this horrible…”
Draco cut her off, “Look I didn’t come here to exchange pleasantries with you. You said you had something to say so say it.” He leaned back against the bar, his arms crossed.
“I just, I just wanted to say that I’m, that I’m sorry.”
He shrugged, “So.”
“That’s all? So? We were going to get married and all you can say to me is so?”
“You’re right we were going to get married, then you shagged someone else repeatedly behind my back, and all you can say is ‘you’re sorry?’ How is good old Robert anyway?”
She had the decency to look sheepish, “I wouldn’t know?”
“Ah, trouble in paradise then? Glad to see you gave up what we had for such a lasting relationship.” He felt satisfaction coarse through his veins.
“Don’t be like that.” She placed her hand on his arm.
Draco pulled his arm away at her touch. “Like what? Angry? Hurt? Tell me Sarah, what should I be like? Should I be happy that you are sorry for breaking my heart?”
“I understand that you’re upset, but I miss you, I tried looking for you, but it was like you just disappeared.”
“You miss me?” He grunted, “Should have thought about that before you got down and dirty with my best mate then shouldn’t you?”
“It was a mistake. I just felt like you had been hiding something from me, and Robert had always been so open… It was a stupid, stupid mistake.” Tears were forming in her eyes, now and Draco started feel that old warm feeling towards her come back. He shook his head, as if to clear those thoughts from his mind. She had cheated on him, he couldn’t trust her, besides there was Granger, sort of. Yes, there was Granger!
“It was a mistake Sarah, one that you made. I just can’t forgive you for it, not anymore.”
She nodded her head in acceptance, a tear slid slowly down her cheek. She rose from the stool and looked Draco squarely in the eyes, “I wish I could change it, I wish that there was some way that I could make it up to you. I wish that I hadn’t pushed you away.” Draco felt a slight tightening in his chest, “but I can’t Draco, I can’t change it, just know that I’ll be here for you, if you should change your mind. Think about it?” She kissed him lightly on the cheek, but the rush that had once been there at her touch was gone, and when he thought about it, that rush had never been anything like what he felt when he was around Granger.
He reflexively nodded at her, gulped down the remainder of his ale, got up and left. There was nothing more to say. His heart pounded fiercely in his chest as he walked away. Part of him couldn’t believe that he had been able to do it and he knew that had this happened only a few months ago, he wouldn’t have been able to. He felt bad, and the fact that she made him feel guilty after what she had done made him feel even worse. Again Granger’s image popped inside his head and all the traces of guilt left him.
Her heart leapt at the sound of the knock on her door. She was as surprised by this reaction as she had been by the knock. A strange new kind of hope filled her, and she nearly pranced to get the door open. Having gone two days without seeing the steel grey eyes of Draco Malfoy she now realized how right Harry had been. How she had been forcing herself to deny what her heart and body were telling her was real. It was still hard for her to justify their relationship; it still caused her pain to think of Malfoy in anyway replacing him, but she found it harder to fight these feelings than to just go with them.
His blond fringe was in his eyes, he looked worn out and tired, but the smile on his lips was heart warming. Hermione trailed her fingers down his arm, they ended at his hand and she lightly held it, bringing him inside. He followed her into her flat, when she stopped and turned back to look at him. His eyes were questioning, and because they hadn’t had any true contact in weeks, she could no longer control her reserve. She stood upon her toes, stretching her arm around his neck and slowly pulled his lips to hers.
It was a light peck, not the intense kissing of their previous encounters, but it gave her the shivers all the same. She pulled back after only a moment and stared into his eyes. His hand trailed down the side of her face and he broke out in another one of his gorgeous grins.
Malfoy pulled a small package out of his robes, his gift of the day. Eagerly she grabbed for it, ripping the familiar brown paper away. It was not a book, but a square stone picture frame. There were runes all along the edges and a hole at the top that showed the frame to be hollow. It had been a while since she had translated any runes, and therefore was a bit rusty, but she could make out the rune for Memory and Show.
“It’s a memory frame.”
“A memory frame, it works kind of like a pensieve, but it displays the memories like pictures. I noticed that you didn’t have any up, and thought that you might like this.” He shrugged, as if it was nothing.
But it was something, and Hermione was not sure if it was good. She didn’t want to display her memories. She didn’t want to remember her memories. All Hermione wanted was to forget. Irrational rage flowed through her, and for all the tenderness that she had just shown Hermione now displayed the exact opposite. How dare he presume to get her this? How dare he try and bring her past to the forefront.
“GET OUT!” She yelled at him as she pointed a finger towards the door. “GET OUT AND NEVER COME BACK!” Shock showed clear on Malfoy’s face, but Hermione ignored that and started to shove him towards her door.
Draco was so thrown by her reaction that he didn’t even have a chance to resist her pushing until he was already out in the hallway eating oak. What in the world had he done wrong? He stood there, like an idiot, a little bit longer, still not sure if he should try and go back in.
After another moment he decided instead that he would go see Potter, maybe he could get some answers once and for all.
The door was answered again by the, if it was even possible, more pregnant Weaslette. She didn’t even ask why he was there and instead just led him into the kitchen. Potter was standing over the stove, peering into a frying pan. The room smelled of garlic and fish, and Draco realized how hungry he was. In his excitement to get to Granger he had forgotten to eat.
Potter looked up upon Draco’s entrance into the room, he nodded towards the kitchen table and Draco sat down. After about five minutes Potter joined him, handing a plate with the pan fried fish and rice. It was as if Potter had been expecting him, and that gave Draco an eerie feeling.
“So,” Potter paused and forked a bite of fish into his mouth, “how can I help you now?”
“I-I want to know what’s wrong with her?”
Potter sat back in his chair, as if he was pondering the question, but Draco had a feeling that Potter knew what he had come here for.
“She’s sad.” He stated finally.
“I got that, but why?” Draco stared into his plate of fish, forking it to pieces. He heard Ginny's wobbly step enter the kitchen and he felt her eyes boring into the back of his head.
“She’s experienced a lot of loss." Ginny finally answered, in a much sweeter voice than Draco had ever heard from her. "She hasn’t been able to deal with it very well.”
He truned to face her, “What kind of loss?”
Harry coughed and Draco turned his attention back to the dark haired man, “I really think that that is up to her to tell you. It is not our place.”
“Well it isn’t likely that that is going to happen, she kicked me out of her flat.” He sighed back into the chair.
Ginny chuckled, "Typical."
“Yeah, she does that.” Harry added.
“So what do I do?”
“You’re asking us? She hasn’t let either of us help her in over two years."
Draco looked to Harry for confirmation, "Sorry man, but the first time we really talked was the other day when I went there to give her your apologies.”
Draco put his head in his hands while his elbows rested on the table. If Potter and the Weaslette didn’t know what to do, how was he supposed to?
A/N: Another chapter! One more left then (tear) it will be all over. All questions will hopefully be answered and you can move onto another wonderful tale. Thanks so much to all who are reading and of coarse a special thanks to those who are reviewing.
Thanks to NoHorizons for the suggestion of changing up the end to add Ginny into the dialogue :)
I hope to get the last chapter out before Thanksgiving as I will be going out of town for almost two weeks and might not be able to update again soon. (though I cannot make any promises).
Well as you know I would love to hear from you, let me know if you liked it, hated it, whatever.
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