Chapter 7 : Chapter 7
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Now he sat in the bathtub across from her, in his boxers, reading his book. He found that he enjoyed soaking in the hot water while reading. He never took the time before to actually sit in a bathtub and relax. Every now and then he would glance up to make sure Hermione was still asleep but other than that he had no worries and it felt good.
She had only been sleeping a half hour when Draco’s attention was drawn away from his book by a splash. He looked up and saw that Hermione had awoken herself by accidentally turning so that her head had slipped beneath the water. She had come back up and was rubbing the water and sleep out of her eyes, gasping. She opened her eyes and Draco saw that her honey colored eyes were in focus. Much better.
Hermione looked around and realized that she was stark naked in a bathtub with Draco Malfoy. She was sick of how this weekend kept turning out. She glanced over and when she saw that he was wearing shorts she didn’t make a move to get out. Her entire body was achy and her stomach was queasy. She saw the tray of food and while she wondered how Draco had managed that her stomach growled. Yet she made no move for the food.
She tried to say something but the only thing that came out was a hoarse cough. Draco moved through the water to the where he had placed the tray on the side of the tub and grabbed a cup of pumpkin juice and handed it to her.
Hermione drank it slowly but greedily until it was all gone. This time when she spoke soft words came out, “Thank you.”
The both sat in silence for a second. Draco was a little in shock from the simple two words. This girl continually surprised him.
“You should eat something,” Draco said handing her a half circle of cantaloupe.
“I’m not hungry,” she said without taking it.
Draco placed the fruit back onto the tray and stared at her. “You are going to eat whether your hungry or not. You lost your right to decide for yourself after I had to save you for a second time. Now eat.”
Draco grabbed a piece of sweet bread and held it out. Hermione ignored it and stared at him with angry eyes.
“No one asked you to save me, either times.” Hermione said and splashed up out of the water but she could only go down one of the white marble steps before her arms started to tingle. Damn this charm.
“We aren’t going anywhere Granger. Now sit back in the water before your body turns blue again,” Draco drawled.
Hermione stood with her back to him as she was contemplating whether or not she should get back in. Warm, wet fingers encircled her wrist and gently pulled her back into the water. She tripped over the top step backwards and landed firmly against his chest. Draco pulled his arms around her naked body and sat back down in the warm tub, firmly holding her against his chest.
She didn’t even struggle. She was exhausted and the feel of his chest against her back and his arms around her made her feel secure in a way she hadn’t in a long time. Her skin slid against his as she settled down further into the tub. She sat down into his lap and rested her head back against his shoulder, her legs brushing against his. Despite that fact that she was naked and he only had boxers on, none of this felt sexual to her, but rather comforting and safe.
Draco took this in stride. He didn’t think how weird it was to have a wet, naked Granger in his lap, he just let the instincts that he didn’t know existed in him take over. He cuddled her small body close and brushed the hair out of her face. After she got settled against him, he entwined their legs together.
Draco reached over to the platter and took a couple grapes out of a small bowl. He first put one in his mouth before putting the other to Hermione’s lips. She opened her mouth obediently and let him drop the grape into her mouth. Draco started small then slowly started feeding her larger things. Occasionally he would eat something as well, sometimes finishing something that she didn’t want the whole of.
Eventually over half of the food was gone and Draco decided they were finished, for now. He cuddled her closer and leaned his head back against the tub and closed his eyes. Hermione’s hands had become linked with his and he could feel her rubbing her fingers across his. He could stay this way forever.
“Thank you,” he heard her whisper.
“Your welcome,” he said back. They sat there in a comfortable silence for a little while longer. “You know you don’t have to be alone.”
Hermione didn’t answer at first but then replied, “What do you know? And who would you suggest I turn to? You?”
There was obvious sarcasm in her voice, drawing on the absurdity of their current state.
“Potter seems to have a large interest in your well being,” he answered, dodging the first and third questions. “So does Weasley and his sister.”
“Why do you care Malfoy?” Hermione asked. This time there was no sarcasm but rather a sense of tired, hopelessness.
He decided to answer truthfully, “I don’t know.”
Hermione turned in his arms. He saw the same hopelessness in her eyes that he had heard in her voice. She looked at him with pained eyes before kissing him. Draco kissed her back, tenderly. Her body turned more until she was sitting sidewise in his lap so that they could kiss comfortably. Draco ran a hand through her wet hair and held the back of her head. One of her hands slipped around his neck while the other laid on his chest. That sat there for several hot minutes kissing before Draco broke the kiss.
Gently he pushed her off of him and he pushed himself through the water to the other side of the tub. Hermione’s eyes were dilated with lust but her eyebrows knit in confusion.
“I’m not going to be your means of escape,” Draco explained in a firm voice.
Hermione stung a little bit with rejection. Who was he to say no to her? Hermione pulled herself out of the lusty haze she was in and got up out of the tub.
“I want to get out and get some clothes on, now.”
Draco sat there for a second, a second too long.
“What? You don’t want to end your little peep show? There is only so much you can chalk up to ‘saving me’ before you have to admit that your just a perv.”
Draco didn’t respond. His mind was working a complex problem and he needed a second to sort it all out. Finally he got up out of the tub and they both toweled themselves off before they put on their terry cloth bathrobes. Draco slipped his wet boxers out from under his robe and threw them into the clothes hamper. Hermione had caught the motion out of the corner of her eye and she felt that lust building inside her again.
She started to storm towards her room but only got a couple of angry steps out when her arms tingled. She looked back furiously at him. He stood there with a contemplative look on his face. Draco had figured her out. Before he had wondered how he was going to fight with such a wanton masochist but now he realized that fighting wasn’t the answering to dealing with her. He now knew what needed to be done and he also had this dreading suspicion that the duty was going to lie in his hands.
“I can’t get dressed if I can’t walk into my room Malfoy.” Hermione started stamping her foot impatiently.
Draco came out of his reverie with a muted sincerity. As he followed her into her room he flipped through the possibilities and each came up short. Potter had his hands full with that ginger witch, Weasley definitely was no where near man enough and there wasn’t any time to wait for him to grow a pair… Draco couldn’t think of anyone else. He thought about what the ramifications would be.
After his father was sent to Azkaban last year he was finally able to grow on his own without the constant shadow of his father. While in the Dark Arts community Lucius’s incarceration had exalted his status even higher it had left a magnificent void in Draco’s life. Draco wasn’t the scared little boy any longer and no longer cared what his father thought. After nearly dying to please his father and a demonic creature he didn’t even truly want to follow he was done being people’s patsy. He knew the war was coming up, soon, but he had decided this past summer that his father’s side was not his own.
No one else knew of his change of heart. He kept it to himself for several reasons the most important of which was that he would rather not have to deal with the backlash of switching sides so close to the beginning of the war. He had hoped that as Head Boy he would be able to coast along on his already built up reputation as a mean, angry bully and just spend the year exploring his new found personal freedom. But it appeared that Hermione Granger was about to ruin all of those sunny dreams, first on the train and now this.
Someone had to check her before she destroyed herself. Draco knew how cruel Blaise’s games could become and after experiencing first hand just how shattered Hermione really was a part of him screamed for action. He couldn’t stand idly by and watch as one of the truest and purest girls he had ever known destroyed herself. Still, Draco cursed the fates for picking now to be the time to give him a compassionate heart.
Draco came back to the here and now. He focused his eyes and saw that she had already dressed and was walking to her vanity mirror to do her hair. She stopped and frowned then turned around with a scowl.
“Two steps forward Malfoy.”
They began the same motions that they had this morning to get dressed. He followed her around with his back turned to give her privacy then she followed him around with her back turned while he got decent. Tonight went a lot faster than this morning had however. They were able to work more as a team and didn’t try to fight each other for dominance.
Draco was just putting the finishing touches on his hair when they both heard a hard knock on the portrait door. Draco gave himself a once over and then started for the door, Hermione following behind him. They got to the stairs and both of them went down side by side. Hermione took longer strides and got to the portrait first.
She opened it up and Harry, Ron, and Ginny all stood there holding various items. Harry had a huge tray of food, Ron had a large bouquet of flowers in one hand and a red checkered blanket in the other. Ginny had two large pitchers in each of her hands.
“Surprise!” Ginny squealed giving Hermione a half hug so as not to spill the pitchers. “We didn’t know if you were going to make it to dinner tonight so we asked Dobby to fix us up. I thought we’d have an indoor picnic!”
There was clearly no turning Ginny down because she boldly strode into the common room and started ordering Harry and Ron to put things where she wanted them. While the other three prepared things Hermione chanced a look at Draco out of the corner of her eye. He was watching her and when she caught his eyes he lifted an eyebrow. Hermione felt the thud in her chest. She scowled and looked away from him.
She was so confused about what had happened in the tub. One second he was the most horrible person in the world and the next he is cuddling her and feeding her. One second she hated him and the next she longed for the security of his arms. Her throat felt thick and her heart felt constricted. She had no idea what to feel, hate Draco and take out her pain on him or let him console her and ease the pain away.
“There!” Ginny exclaimed, breaking Hermione from her internal battle. “Let’s eat!”
Draco waited until Hermione had sad down before he picked his place. He saw her sit down and then promptly took the seat right next to her on the blanket. Both Ron and Harry had already started making plates and Ginny was holding another empty plate out to Hermione. Hermione took it but didn’t put much food on it. Neither did Draco, a fact which caught Ginny’s attention.
“Did you two already eat?” Ginny asked.
Harry’s head shot up and his eyes got wide. From behind Ginny’s back he caught Draco’s eye and gave a small shake of his head. Apparently Harry had decided to keep this afternoon’s escapade quiet. Draco jumped in before Hermione could speak.
“No we haven’t. Why?” Draco said trying to play it innocent.
“Because neither of you have hardly any food on your plates,” Ginny answered suspiciously.
“It is a personal preference. I like to take small amounts and try them first to decide whether or not I really want to eat them. Is that a problem?” Draco answered coolly. He added a little of that pureblood snootiness too, hoping it would stop the line of questioning. Thankfully it did. Ginny didn’t bother Hermione because she already knew that it would be a miracle to get her to eat the small quantity that was already on her plate.
They all dug into their lunch, except for Hermione. All three of the boys were talking about Quidditch with amazing civility and Ginny was regaling Hermione with Gryffindor gossip. The meal started to wind down, but Hermione had still barely touched her plate. Ginny had joined in to the Quidditch discussion for a bit because it had turned towards women in professional Quidditch and Draco took the opportunity to feign as if he was reaching for some more chicken and whispered a warning to Hermione.
“If you don’t eat now, I will just have to make you later.”
He then placed another piece of chicken onto her half eaten plate and joined back into the conversation. While the others talked Hermione slowly made herself put small pieces of the food into her mouth, chewed, and swallowed. It was a pain-staking process as each small bite of food made her want to gag.
When Ginny finally got frustrated from trying to convince three thick headed boys that women could play Quidditch just as well as men she turned back to Hermione and saw that practically all the food was gone from her plate.
Ginny’s eyes got wide for a second when she saw her plate but then quickly she recovered. Ginny lowered her voice and ask Hermione how she was doing. Hermione looked at her friends pretty face and saw the worry there. Draco had been right, she did have people that worried for her. She knew that Fred had said the same thing but it felt different coming from Draco. Somehow hearing it from someone who didn’t know her made all the difference.
Hermione felt terrible for causing her friends to worry. She no longer wanted to burden her friends with her pain. So she was going to do her best to pretend that everything was fine when she was around them. Just because she was in pain didn’t mean that she had to hurt those around her. It was her pain to bear, not theirs.
Then she did something that shocked the others sitting on the blanket. She leaned forward and hugged Ginny. Ginny sat stunned for a second but then hugged her back fiercely. Hermione felt a twinge of guilt though because she knew that she half of the reason why she was doing this was to cover up her pain. When she released Ginny she saw Ginny had tears in her eyes. Ginny swiped them away quickly.
Harry patted Ginny’s hand and smiled at Hermione. Hermione could feel the emotional situation building and she didn’t think she could take it. She put a fake smile on her face and started stacking the empty plates into a pile.
“So we brought some cards and a chess board,” Harry said reaching into his knapsack.
Hermione got to her feet. “That sounds like fun but Draco and I have a meeting with McGonagall before we do our rounds tonight so I don’t think there will be time.”
Draco looked up at her. The smile she had on her face made his stomach turn. He wasn’t sure what she was thinking. She had just hugged Weaselette like all was well but now she was making up lies to get them to leave. Draco decided it was best to agree.
“Yeah, it was great of you guys to bring a picnic though,” he said cordially.
Three pairs of eyes looked at him like he was crazy. Harry however, didn’t seem affected. He had seen Draco bring Hermione back from the dead and now she seemed happy. That was good enough for him.
“No problem. We figured you guys wouldn’t want to have to come down and sit in front of everybody together again,” Harry said while getting up.
Ginny’s mouth was slightly open. Harry being nice to Draco Malfoy?? Draco Malfoy being nice to them?? Harry could hear the wheels in his girlfriend’s mind going and knew that they had very little time before Ginny exploded. He hastily started putting things on the tray.
“I’m just going to put this in your guys’ kitchen…”
When he came back the blanket was folded and everyone was on their feet. Ginny had shut her mouth but now she was eyeing Draco. Harry quickly hugged Hermione and took Ginny’s hand. They all said goodbye and a few minutes later Draco and Hermione where left alone in the common room. The smile on Hermione’s faced faded away.
What to do now? She turned and looked at Draco without any expression on her face. Draco stared back at her, his face clouded in thought. Then the big grandfather clock in their common room chimed seven times. They still had two hours before they were supposed to start patrol.
“Let’s start now.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “What for? We are still going to have to patrol later. Why tack on two more hours?”
“Would you rather stay here staring at each other with nothing to do?” Hermione asked.
“You should be resting for the next few hours.”
“Why? So you can watch me sleep?”
Draco shook his head. “I’m not walking around an extra two hours just so you don’t have to hang out with your friends. So how about this, you get a book, I’ll get a book, we’ll put some music on and sit as far away from each other as possible for the next two hours. Sound good?”
Hermione pushed the sofa they had moved to make space for the picnic back in front of the fire. She stood behind the sofa, picking at the upholstery nails in the back.
“Sounds really boring. I don’t feel like reading…”
Hermione didn’t feel like doing anything really. She just desperately wanted to get out of this room and get away from being with him alone.
“Can we please just get out of here?”
Draco stood really still. She just asked him a question politely. How could he not oblige?
“Fine Granger, have it your way, let’s go.”
They walked out the portrait hole and began wandering the corridors. Occasionally they would stop as a portrait would like to talk to Hermione and congratulate her on her new status. All the portraits loved her and gave her adoring words while shooting snide looks over her shoulder at Malfoy.
“How sad is it when even portraits don’t like the look of your face,” Hermione teased Malfoy.
“What can I say? Portraits don’t like being woken up at odd hours of the night. Especially not by some students pulling shenanigans.”
They walked amicably, talking some but mostly staying silent. Hermione now couldn’t remember why she wanted so badly to not be alone with him. Her mind was quickly refreshed when they happened upon Theo, Crabbe, and Goyle coming up from the kitchens, literally carrying bags full of food.
“Wasn’t dinner like an hour ago?” Draco asked as his friends walked up and greeted him.
“Dinner-schminner,” Goyle guffawed, “this is for the festivities later tonight in the common room.”
“Festivities? And I wasn’t invited?” Draco drawled.
“You know how we do,” Theo answered. “And of course you’re invited but that thing currently attached to you isn’t.”
“Excuse me?” Hermione demanded from behind Draco. She stepped forward and stared Theo down.
Theo looked at her with indifference. “I said ‘that thing’, meaning you Granger, isn’t invited. By the way, how did your swim go this afternoon?”
Hermione got really red. Draco stepped in.
“Yeah, it was quite amazing, watching her trying to swim. It was like watching a one legged man at an arse kicking contest, a complete failure. I would have been great to let her drown if it wasn’t for the fact that this damn charm almost drowned me with her. I’m mad that I’ll be missing out on this weekend’s festivities because of it.”
“We feel you Draco, we really do,” Theo said, nodding in false tragedy. “Well we better get this food up to the common room. Holler at us when you’ve cleaned that up.” He said as he gestured to Hermione.
The three Slytherins departed leaving Draco alone with Hermione glaring at the back of his head. Draco knew that a fight was coming, but he really didn’t want to deal with it right now. He knew that Hermione was now his personal mission but a huge part of him still wanted to join his fellow Slytherins in the common room.
“You are such an asshole,” Hermione growled from behind him.
“Really? You are just now realizing this? What tipped you off? The six years of loathing and hatred or was it just now when I said I preferred to watch you drown?” Draco hissed as he pushed her back against the wall. “I am not a nice person Granger, and yet you seemed determined to ruin me.”
Hermione didn’t understand the last part of what he said at all but her attention was caught by something moving outside the big cathedral window opposite her. She pushed Draco to the side and walked over to the window.
Outside she saw three hooded figures striding out of the Forbidden Forest.
A/N: First of all let me say that I know this story so far has very much been a "bathtub story" which is a name given to stories where the protagonist wonders and analyzes the past, present and future but never leaves the bathtub (or another confined space), which is ironic because the bathtub was used a lot in this story. Haha. But don't worry, they'll be getting out of the proverbial (and literal) bathtub next chapter. Don't loose hope. Secondly, thanks so much to those people who have or will review. I do love knowing what you guys are thinking and are wanting.