Chapter 8 : The Clock Ticks
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Chapter 8: The Clock Ticks
Draco fell out of the Ministry’s public floo in the least elegant way possible, tripping over his own two feet as he stumbled out of the way of an incoming witch or wizard. Ignoring the looks he knew the newcomer must be glaring his way, he straightened himself up and forced some air back into his lungs. No. No, No, NO. This is not possible. I did not just see Hermione at Potter’s place. I did not just hear her say my name. I did not just expose her to even more danger.
Draco was in denial.
He blinked as he walked – more like shuffled, really – over to the desk of the International Portkey Department, and stood there blankly as the awaiting witch greeted him. “Mr. Malfoy, right on time. You are lucky Mr. Potter was able to pull in a favor and get you this emergency portkey, and such a speedy one, too! It leaves for America in... exactly 7 seconds. Enjoy your trip!”
Draco looked at the bustling witch (is that a SMIRK she is giving me?!? I’m a Malfoy! We practically INVENTED that smirk, how DARE she use it against me!), opening his mouth to protest that he was not ready to leave right this second. He appreciated the insanity of it all, however. Potter probably had a kick setting this up – I tell him I am leaving “immediately,” and he orders the Department to see to it that as soon as I show up here, my portkey ensures that I do just that, take off for Merlin-knows-where “immediately.” Bugger it all. He is more vindictive than I thought. I’m slightly impressed.
The ugly blue ceramic vase Draco found himself holding suddenly felt warm in his hands as it flashed, and then spun up in the air so fast Draco was certain his hastily-consumed tea and scones would be making a reappearance momentarily. I just HAD to eat another one to appease Jane’s worry over my lack of appetite. I knew this whole “nice-guy” persona would come back to give me a swift kick in the arse eventually.
As he felt himself fall from the sky, hurtling toward what looked like a rather large, unusually pointy palm tree stuck randomly on a nearly-deserted wizarding beach, Draco focused on pulling himself together. He had a mission.
And if I am NOT insane, if that WAS Hermione at Sir Potty’s and not just a figment of my sleep-deprived imagination, that just means that I can forget about having to search for her and instead concentrate all of my energy on stopping whatever maniacal plan Father has cooked up in that warped brain of his. Again.
Deciding to focus on the positive for once – Potter’s bad influence again; I really need to keep him out of my head – Draco managed a half-hearted smirk as he thought, at least I am out of Hermione’s curse-range, unlike The-Boy-Who-Just-May-Die and his She-Weasel. I do hope Mione remembers that she loves me, and that I bruise easily. That punch to the nose in Third Year is something I will never forget.
He gulped, also remembering just how skilled Hermione was with her wand.
Well, he was out of harm’s way… but not indefinitely. I have to go back eventually. But first I need to find that blasted painting. I’m sure that’s the key.
“Bollucks!,” he shouted as he landed rather abruptly on a pile of wet, reeking, salt-ridden seaweed that had drifted ashore.
Bugger it all, indeed.
*** Cannon Cottage (aka: Ron’s House) ***
Ron sat on his bedroom floor softly banging his head back against the locked bathroom door, behind which Pansy was panicking.
“Pansy. Come on, Love, last night you said you wanted this. Now you don’t have to lie anymore, now we don’t have to keep everything hidden. You can finally come to Sunday Night Dinner at the Burrow!” Ron’s eyes grew slightly dazed as he envisioned the excellent spread his mother was sure to put on the table for her family. After all, I am still a growing boy, he thought happily.
“Ron, I (hiccup) love you, you know that I do! I just (hiccup) cannot face my – face my – my mother!” Pansy stuttered, sounding half hysterical. “She has had me married off to Malfoy in her head since we were practically in diapers, this is not going to go over well.”
She stopped speaking after giving a rather large sigh. After a moment, Ron heard the water start running in the shower. He stood slowly, a sly smile forming on his lips as he turned to open the door, muttering “alohomora.”
Quickly stripping out of his shorts and Cannons sleep jersey, Ron crept quietly over to the shower and pulled the curtain back. Pansy had her back to him and her hands over her eyes, so he stepped in and slipped his arms around her slender waist.
“What took you so long, Ronald?” Pansy’s voice suddenly purred as she turned to face him, bringing her arms up around his neck.
“I was enjoying the view,” Ron smirked. “But, if you would rather I get right to business...” his voice became a whisper as he bent to kiss her cheek.
“Mmmmm. No, you can appreciate the view all you want. But seriously, Ronnie – what will I tell my mother? She is expecting a summer wedding!” Pansy’s voice rose, once again in a panic despite Ron’s skilled ministrations.
“So, tell her it did not work out. Tell her you are happier without him. Tell her to live her own sodding life,” Ron’s voice was muffled as he moved his mouth slowly along her collarbone.
“I want to, but, well, I really hate to always be such a disappointment to her,” Pansy’s voice was now so soft that Ron had to straighten up to hear her. As his hands slowly began to lather her back with some sweet-smelling body wash (where did that come from? Hmm), he looked into her eyes and knew that he never again wanted to see such pain there. He loved her. He had to protect her from all of life’s obstacles.
And that included protecting her from Lady Parkinson’s wrath.
He took a deep breath and thought, I can do this. I have wanted to for a long time. Now is as good a time as any, Ron ol’ Boy.
Ron spoke softly, looking his witch directly in her beautiful eyes as he cupped her chin in his palm. “So tell her there will be a summer wedding, just with a different groom.”
“What do you say, Pans? Will you? Marry me, I mean?” Ron anxiously held his breath, trying to appear calm as his life hanged there on the line.
And then her lips were on his. “Yes! Ron, of course I will!”
Ron pulled back and gave her a lopsided, soapy grin, stating, “at least I am a Pureblood, right? That has to win me a few points in your mum’s eyes.” Pansy giggled.
Just then, the bathroom door banged open and the curtain was yanked back.
“Oi! Ron, GRAB A TOWEL, will you mate? I’ve been trying to reach you for ages… Oh! Sorry, Pansy, did not see you there… erm, maybe, I mean, I’ll just go wait on the couch, alright?” Harry turned a brilliant crimson as he realized what he must have interrupted.
Harry sat anxiously on the dark leather couch for the next five minutes, when finally a rumpled, half-dressed but sheepish-looking Ron came into the room, with a now fully-clothed Pansy at his side. Harry briefly noted that they were holding hands. I knew they had gone on a few dates, but I did not think it was anything serious… looks like Ron has some explaining of his own to do. Later.
“Harry. What is it, mate? It’s bloody early in the morning; is there a break in the case? Do you need me to head in to the office with you today?” Ron asked, plopping down on the sofa and pulling Pansy onto his lap.
Harry slumped in his seat, running a hand through his messy hair. “Ron, she’s here. She is in my house, demanding answers. I panicked. I had to get out of there. I mean, after Malfoy showed up and she saw him, I knew I was a dead man. I’m done for. So it should not matter that I may have accidentally used a non-verbal spell and stunned her, right?”
Ron’s ears were quickly turning that terrifying shade of red. Pansy noticed this and took it as her cue to leave the two aurors alone. She walked back into the bedroom and quietly shut the door right as Ron exploded, “You did WHAT?!?” Ron’s mouth was hanging open as he tried to process all the information Harry had just given him. “Blimey, Mate.”
“Yeah,” Harry sighed, “I was afraid you’d say that.”
A/N: Hello, lovelies! NOTICE: This story is now rated "Mature," just in case. Nothing too forward though, so don't fret! I wanted to thank everyone who has been reading and reviewing. I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday season, and a brilliant New Year! I am happy with how this story is going... I am giggling at what happens soon... you shall all have to wait and see! Happy reading!
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