[everything you recognize belongs to JK Rowling. I only own the plot.]
The trip to Hogsmeade had been just what I needed. It had cleared my head, being away from the castle. I felt like I couldn't think properly in there, and I really needed to think over the situation with Harry, Ron and Ginny. I realized that I could either try to talk to them, or try to find some other people to be with. I could not depend so much on Draco, even if all I wanted was to be with him. All the time.
I had eventually decided to not dwell on it, and for the time being just focus on having a good time with Draco and Blaise, which turned out to be far too easy.
The 'saying-goodbye-to-Blaise' had not been as fun of an experience. Even though I didn't know him all that well, I could tell how much it hurt Draco to see the one friend he had left leaving. Even if Draco tried to act as if he wasn't all that bothered by the thought of Blaise moving to Italy, the expression in his eyes was something he could not fake. I was a bit sad to see Blaise leave as well, during the hours we had spent together in Hogsmeade; I had gotten to know him a little bit. He seemed like a nice guy, and I wouldn't have minded to have him around.
That was what I thought about when I walked up to the tower to gather some things for another day with Draco, and take a shower as well.
I was looking forward to spend the night with him again, hopefully without nightmares this time, and hopefully without talking in my sleep. That was another thing besides blushing that I really hated. Draco was probably very pleased with himself whenever he made me blush.
I smiled at the image that surfaced in my mind of him with a satisfied grin, which he had worn the multiple times he had made me blush in Hogsmeade.
The castle was silent, but warm. It didn't remind me so much of death anymore, it was still there, lingering in the air but not nearly as much as it had been just a week ago. I never thought that Draco Malfoy would be good for me.
Dinner would be served in the Great Hall in fifthteen minutes, so I figured that there wouldn't be many people in the common room.
I happily told the fat lady the password and walked in, my happy mood was destroyed in less than a second. It was not many people there, it was just one person. Ron Weasley.
I could literally feel all the happiness vanish from me. I went cold. Oh, perfect.
He stared right at me, his eyes filled with hate. I would never get used to see him looking at me like that, it was not right.
I decided to try and ignore him, so I walked pass him up to my dorm, and threw some of the necessary things in to a bag. Toothbrush, some make up, a PJ, and clothes for the next day.
When I felt that I had everything I needed, I went in to the bathroom.
The warm water made me forget all about Ron, it actually made me forget everything.
For a long time I let the water play over my body, as I shaved my legs and washed my hair. I loved the smell of my conditioner, it smelled of fruits, mostly apples. It was a fresh scent, that made me happy again.
Before I had gotten to know Draco, the shower was the place I used to cry the most. I would let my tears mix with the water so that no one would notice. Nobody would hear my cries, and muffled sobs. I had not wanted them to hear me, they would just ignore it anyway and that would just make it worse. So I hid my pain from them. Now, finally, I didn't have to do that anymore. Now I smiled as I stood there, rinsing my hair. I sighed as I realized that I had been in the shower for too long, and slowly walked out of there. Missing the feeling of the water on my skin the second it lost contact.
When I was finished, I threw the bag over my shoulder and walked down. To my surprise I found that Ron was still there, it didn't look like he had moved a millimetre. He seemed frozen.
Perhaps it was his cold eyes that made him look so frozen.
I tried to walk as fast as I could pass him, he must have moved because he was almost blocking my path. Maybe it was just my imagination that his skin felt cold as well as I brushed against him when I tried to get out of the common room. His hands caught my wrist painfully hard.
“Please tell me that you are not going to see him again.” Even though he had said 'please' his voice was threatening, hard and cold. I tried to get out of his grip, but I had nothing against him.
What could I say? I couldn't lie to him because I was a terrible liar, and he was too intimidating for me to be able to make up something out of thin air. I decided to say nothing. “Yes or no!”
I hung my head so avoid his glare. “Answer me, for fuck sakes!”
“Yes!” I shouted back at him, and looked up right in his furious eyes. “I am going to him now. I'm sorry, Ron.”
“Sorry, are you?” He smiled sadisticly, a smile that didn't suit him at all. His grip tightened. I struggled even more to get away, but it was to no use. “Just stand still while I'm talking to you!”
“Let go of me!” I cried out when he slammed me in to the wall behind us. “Ron!” I breathed.
“Stand still!” he repeated. I couldn't do as he said, my body wouldn't let me. My mind screamed to do as he said but my body couldn't stop fighting his arms. “I said stand still!”
His words were followed by a hard slap across my face, I gasped aloud and looked at him shocked.
“Ron!” It was not my shocked voice that shouted at him, it was Harry's. In a matter of seconds he had pulled Ron away from me, and stood in between us. He was facing Ron, who was still furious.
I wondered what would have happened if Harry hadn't come, and shivered. My hand covered my stinging chin, damn he had hit hard. I could taste blood in my mouth.
Harry turned to me still holding his hand on Ron's chest, as to try and hold him back.
“You should leave.” He told me, his voice was both cold and apologetic.
“He hits me and I am the one that should leave?” I spat, to which Harry clenched his jaw and Ron dashed forward, making Harry turn to him and restrain him. Then he faced me again.
“Just try and forget anything happened. He is obviously not in his right mind.”
I threw my hands up in anger and glared at him, at them both. “Ofcourse! I should just forget it, is that it? Neither of you are in your right fucking mind!”
I pushed pass them, and rushed out.
Ron had hit me, he had actually hit me. It was so surreal, that I almost couldn't believe it.
“Hermione?” It was Ginny, I would recognise her voice anywhere. “Are you okay? Has something happened?” She turned me around to look at me, and up on seeing my red chin she started to look angry. “Did Malfoy do that to you? I swear, I'll kill him!”
I laughed without joy at how wrong she was. “It was not Draco. It was your fucking brother, Ginny. Ron did this.”
“He would never.” She said in a low cold voice as her eyes glared at me. Her face was like a mask, it showed no emotions.
“Yeah? If he would never do this, then why are Harry in there right now restraining him from coming after me and do Merlin knows what? Then why do I bleed? Go in and have a look at your brother and then if you still can, you can come tell me that your brother would never. He did.”
Ginny didn't say anything, she just turned around and walked away. Our many years of friendship didn't seem to matter to her.
I could have been walking for quite a while for I found myself standing outside the room of requirement and the way there was a blur. I didn't even have to do anything in front of the wall, the door appeared out of nowhere. I hesitated before I walked in. Draco was already there, he was sitting on the bed with a book in his hands, far lost in his mind. I stood there and just looked at him for a while, taking in his beautiful features. His eyes followed the words on the pages and from time to time he would raise an eyebrow or furrow them. A smile appeared on his face and I couldn't help but to smile myself.
“Are you going to stand there forever?”
He looked up then, and his smile grew wider as he realized that I had not known that he knew that I was there. I shook my head at him, and walked to sit on the bed next to him. Should I tell him about Ron? He would be furious.
I didn't have time to make up my mind, for his hand came to grip my chin gently, and turned my head. He studied my left cheek and I could see how his eyes turned from happy to hating.
“Who did this?”
“It doesn't even matter.” I tried, but the look on his face showed me that he was not going to leave it at that.
“It will just be worse if you let me jump to conclusions.”
“No really, it was an... accident. Eh... One of George's joke stuff that went a bit wrong.”
It was obvious that he did not believe me, his whole body language told be that he did not buy my lie.
“Do you really think that I do not recognise when someone have been hit?” He caressed my cheek softly but his words were quite cold. I felt a sting of pity for him. I decided that this was not the time to ask about that, so I stashed it up for later.
“Promise not to do anything.”
“I can't do that!”
I sighed in defeat, he was not going to let this go until I told him, and if I told him... I had seen how angry he got when Ron had called me a traitor, what would he do if he found out that Ron had taken it one step further?
“Was it Weaselette?” He mumbled softly, to which I shook my head.
I took his hand and laid down, pulling him with me. He turned his body towards mine and waited.
But I did not know how to say it. How to put it to words so that he would not kill Ron right after I spoke the words.
“Promise, please?” I whispered not daring to look at him. I heard his sharp intake of breath.
“Fine, I promise.” He sighed and squeezed my hand. “I promise.”
“It was...” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “Ron.”
He sat straight up and cursed out loud. His whole body was tense and his fists seemed to search for something to hit. He ended up hitting a pillow.
“I am going to kill him!” He jumped out of the bed, and I followed him clumsily. He was fast, but I was faster. I took a hold of his shirt in a attempt to stop him, it ripped open but it didn't stop him, so I threw one of my legs out infront of him and he fell over. “What...?” He moaned as he hit the floor, it should not have been funny, but the sight of him lying there was hilarious.“You promised, remember?” I tried not to laugh at him as he rubbed the back of his head looking slightly pissed at me. I held my hand out and as he took it I helped him up.
“I also promised myself that I would not let anyone hurt you again.”
He seemed torn between leaving and staying but in a matter of seconds he sunk down back on the bed. “I'll keep my promise to you, then. Seems more important at the time.”
“Thank you” I said softly. “Is it to soon to ask you a favour?”
“Not at all. I'm at your service.”
“Could you, you know... Heal me?” He nodded and raised his wand, I had never realized just how good of a wizard he really was. He cast spells non-verbally and he did it perfectly. “Thanks.”
“Anytime...” He mumbled, still looking at the spot which he had just healed.
“What do you mean with... You know, the promise you had made to yourself? I mean when did you promise yourself that?”
“When you were at the Manor and I saw what Bella did to you... I promised myself that if we survived the war, then I would make sure that I never saw that kind of pain in your eyes again...”
I did not know how to reply to that, did that make me his 'project'? It was probably the sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me, in a way. That's why I couldn't sound upset when I mumbled “I'm not a damsel in distress, you know, I don't need a knight in shining armour.”
“But I don't mind being your knight.” His eyes twinkled, and his lips curved up to a smile. He knew that I would give in when he did that.
I sighed and gave up. “Well, hello then, my knight.” He leaned in for a kiss and I kissed him eagerly back. But after just a few seconds I put my hands on his chest and pushed him away a bit. How had he ended up on top of me?
“Promise again.” I pleaded.
“Oh, for crying out loud, Hermione. I have promised you already!”
“I do not think that you are known to keep your promises very well, Draco...”
“Please don't hold my past against me in situations like this. I will never break a promise I've made to you.”
“But to others?” I raised one eyebrow and he smiled crookedly.
“Well... What does that have anything to do with this?” He leaned down. Kiss “I promise” Kiss “I promise” Kiss “I promise.”
“Oh merlin. Okay, you promise” He shut up then and kissed me with full force. Again my brain shut down completely and all I could do was kiss him back, and I did do with just as much passion as he kissed me with. Which was a lot. I had a feeling that he put all his anger in the kiss as well. I did not mind. His tongue and mine battled in a sort of dance with a need so indescribable.
His body was pressed so close to mine that I felt as if we were one. His hands started to roam my skin and I moaned in his mouth.
Draco's warm hands against my cold skin felt natural, like we were born to do nothing but touch each other. But suddenly Draco pulled away.
“We can't do this.” He said softly and stroke my cheeks, which were flushed, his liquid grey eyes looked deep into my brown ones. “I would feel like I was taking advantage of you. You have been through a lot these past hours.”
“I'm allowing you to take advantage of me, though.” But I understood what he meant and it made him even more perfect... “But it is too soon, isn't it?”
“Yeah, a bit too soon.” He smiled the genuine smile that I loved to see up on his face. “I think that we could be heading in to something...” He seemed to search for the right word.
“Serious?” I offered, to which he nodded thankful.
“Serious, and I am afraid that it could be ruined if we rushed things.”
He rolled of me, and pulled me up so that my head was resting on his chest. I could hear his heart beat in the most amazing rhythm. He was not as unaffected as he tried to sound.
“You are quite smart, you know.” I complimented, to which he chuckled.
“I think that that's a lot coming from the brightest witch of our age. How is it being called that, by the way?”
“It's almost as good as bookworm...” I muttered before I sighed. “It's awful, really. Huge expectations to live up to, you know.”
“I do know. Father always used to rub it in my face that I should be better than you in class. Being a pureblood and yadda yadda. I was never good enough. But after the war, I think he understood that it didn't matter as much if I was the best student or had the best broom He was just grateful that I was alive. It's like he has finally accepted that the world does not revolve around him.”
I blinked several times at what he had said. Was he talking about the same Lucius Malfoy as I knew? Lucius Malfoy, the most racist pureblood in all of England, the selfish, cruel deatheater? How could he have changed after the war? But Draco had so maybe, just maybe, Lucius could too. But it was highly unlikely. You can't teach an old dog to sit.
“I would love to know what you are thinking about right in this moment.”
“You can't teach an old dog to sit.”
“What?” He sounded very confused and when I looked up at him he had both eyebrows furrowed as if he was trying to figure out a hidden message in the sentence.
“It's something muggles say.”
“Oh.” he looked in deep thought for a while before he broke out in a smile. “I figured it out...I think. You don't think that he has changed.”
“Its just.. I have a hard time imagining it. In my eyes he is still the racist deatheater.”
“So was I, until I proved myself to you. But you are right, he is still a racist, but not nearly as much. “
“What do you think he will say, when he finds out? Cause, lets face it... He will hear about it, soon. The way gossip spread in this school is ridiculous.”
“I honestly don't know how father will take the news.”
He looked worried for a while, as if going through different scenarios in his head. Until he gave up and smiled. “And I don't really care either.”
I closed my eyes at his words, and inhaled his scent. Draco did not care what Lucius thought about us, and that was a relief. If this was heading towards becoming more serious, than it was good to know that he was not going to let his father decide whether or not we could be a...Couple.
I had not finished the thought before I felt happiness rush through me. Could we be a couple? Could we last as one?
Could I... Love him?
That last question was easy to answer but would he be able to love me? A few weeks ago I would have said 'no', but after seeing how he could be I'd say 'maybe'. I certainly hoped he would.
“Good.” I whispered after a few moments of silence. Slowly I untangled myself from his arms, and he looked at me as if wondering why the hell I had moved away from him. I got out of the bed, and looked at him. “I'm hungry and I want to go to the kitchen.” I felt that an explanation was in it's place. “Care to join me, my knight?”
He was out of the bed faster than I thought possible and it made me giggle. That was when I truly looked at him. He was wearing a light blue shirt, with a few buttons unbuttoned, and black trousers. Normally I would have preferred jeans on a guy, but this was not just any guy and I had a hard time picturing Draco wearing something so muggle as jeans. Maybe I could ask him to try a pair some time.
His blond hair was hanging in his face, making his eyes look agonizingly beautiful. He smiled devilishly. “Like what you see, Hermione?” He purred out and walked towards me.
“I-I.. Well, yes.” I stuttered out as his smile grew wider, he obviously knew what effect he had on me and enjoyed it to the fullest. Oh, Draco, please behave once we exit this room. I thought. It was one thing if he effected me like this when we were alone, but if he would make me stutter like an idiot or say something to make me blush in public... I would die of embarrassment.
Only he and he alone should see that, not the entire school. Obviously he agreed because as soon as we had left the room of requirement he simply took my hand and did not even try to stare me down with those seductive pair of eyes.
The kitchen elf's welcomed us with open arms and I greeted them all warmly. I could really tell that it was not an easy thing for Draco to do, as he just snorted when I told him to say 'hi'.
They gave us everything we asked for, and more. Which was great seeing as we could probably spend more than just one night in the room we planned to sleep in that night. I eyes were drawn to a small elf who were sitting alone, seemingly frozen out by the others. It was not that, however, that caught my attention. It was how much he or she looked like Dobby. The same big eyes, and the ears which hung down making the elf look even more sad. A wave of pain rushed through me as I looked at the elf. I hoped that Dobby was fine, where ever he was now. I wished that there could have been something that I could have done to save him. But I knew that there was nothing.
“Excuse me, Pix.” I said, to which a larger elf beamed up at me. “Who is that sitting in the corner?”
“That's Scrappy, Miss. Scrappy sits there all the time. Nothing to worry about. Pix makes sure that Scrappy eats her meals from time to time.”
“It's just... She looks so much like Dobby.”
Grief seemed to fall up on the small creature and she nodded. “Oh, Dobby was Scrappy's...”
“Brother.” Draco finished for her. Both me and Pix looked at him, urging him to continue. “As you remember, Hermione, Dobby was my family's elf. We did not need two, so we sold the other elf, Scrappy, to Crabbe's family. I did not know that they had set Scrappy free, though.”
“Dobby had a sister?”
Scrappy looked up when she heard Dobby's name, and walked up to us. “You knew Dobby, Miss?”
“I... Yes I did, he was a wonderful elf.”
“If you don't mind... How did he die?” Her eyes had filled up with tears, threatening to fall over any second. As I saw it, I had two alternatives. One: Tell her that Bellatrix had thrown a knife right in his chest. Or...
“He died while saving Harry Potter, Scrappy. He died while saving the entire wizarding world.”
She smiled through her tears and she seemed to fill with pride.
When we had gotten our food, and said goodbye. Scrappy had told us that we just had to visit her some other time. I had agreed, to be polite and maybe to help her.
“You know, you are a genuinely nice person, Hermione. I don't think I have ever seen anyone behave like that around elf's. “ Draco said astonished when we had gotten back to our room and sat down on the bed.
“Well, they have feelings too.” I said softly, and desperately trying to find something else to talk about, so that I wouldn't slip up and tell him all about S.P.E.W. That could turn out quite embarrassing.
“For what it is worth, I really liked Dobby, and I did not treat him badly. My father did and my mother too. But never me. Growing up as a only child can be lonely. Dobby used to play with me. Father did not like that, so he put a stop to it. He teached me that Dobby was nothing but filth, which I should treat as badly as possible. Even worse than muggles and mudbloods... Oh I mean muggleborns.” I shrugged my shoulder to tell him that I wasn't offended and he continued. “I just couldn't to that to Dobby, so I just told him not to let my father catch us together. It worked for a while. Can you imagine how utterly pissed off I was at Harry when he set Dobby free?”
I looked at him for quite some time trying to put myself in his position. It was impossible. “I like this side of you.” I had not meant for it to be said out loud but smiled as he did.
“I'm glad you do.” He said, and gave me a quick kiss before he headed for the bathroom.
As he was in there, I decided to change in to my night clothes which consisted of a big white t-shirt and shorts. I let my hair out of my strict ponytail, and ran my hand through it, loving the way it felt to let it out after a day of having it pulled back. Long smooth almost-curls hung down my back, and I felt the need to run my hand through it again.
“You look amazing.” Draco breathed from behind me, and I turned around right away. He was standing in a pair of black silk boxers and nothing else. I could feel my jaw that was about to drop and caught myself.
“So do you” I managed to say, and then I quickly walked in to the bathroom and closed the door. My nightclothes were so common or maybe that was just the way they appeared now when I had seen what he would be sleeping in. Hell, he could wear anything and still make it hot. Does he have to be so damn handsome? I washed away the make up, and brushed my teeth. Making sure to brush them thoroughly, since Draco seemed more than eager to kiss me.
The idea to take up flying had without a doubt been the best decision in my entire life. That was something that I was absolutely positive about. I wouldn't want to change that for anything in the world.
I grabbed my wand, and with a flick of it the bathroom light went out, and I walked out to where I knew I would find Draco.
I put my wand down at the couch, and walked to the bed. He was not in it yet, he was standing by the large book shelf.
“Do you want something to read?” He asked casually, and looked over at me. I nodded and clapped my hands. He rolled his eyes at me before he looked at the books again. “I think... There are muggle books here as well.” There was not disgust in his voice, but he seemed almost curious. “Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast... Is it muggle?”
“Interesting.” He continued to look at the books, looking closer at them. “May I pick one?”
“Yeah, sure.” I smiled at his new found interest in the books.
He returned seconds later, with a book held in his hand which he looked at very eagerly. He handed me the book and laid down. Cinderella. I hoped it was not because he thought it was a disease as Ron had thought...
“Oh, you picked Cinderella... You are aware that this is a children's book, right?”
“Yeah I figured, but I was brought up with different tales. Would you do me a favour, Hermione?”
“Read for me?” He looked so irresistible when he looked up at me. I smiled and nodded.Slowly I opened the book, inhaling the scent of the pages. I glanced over at Draco before I started to read, he had closed his eyes and was smiling. I smiled too, when I begun to read.
“Once up on a time...”
[I get this funny warm happy feeling when you review, so please do! I am currently writing the 11th chapter, so I have a few ready, and I will keep them coming. So, tell me, did you like it? Hate it? - Cathy]