Chapter 14 : Chapter Thirteen
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Propitiously, it only took another day for Hermione to get back up on her own two feet. Fortunately for Draco, it only took Hermione two days of being sick to finally start talking to him like they normally did. There was much teasing involved and a few slaps on the head. This however, was the root of their relationship, and neither of them would give up anything to change that.
Hermione and Draco would’ve probably never gotten in this situation if it weren’t for their teasing and a mutual goal they shared in humiliating the other. Their fate as enemies was inevitable, but in spite of that, they never chose to disregard the relationship blooming from the cracks.
It was seven o’clock at night, and they had both decided that it was time to begin planning the almighty wedding, knowing that they wouldn’t have a say in anything else if Narcissa Malfoy decided to take the reigns. “Merlin Granger.” Draco said exasperatedly. “How long does it take you to choose a bloody date?” he asked, sitting next to her on the couch in their sitting room. “It’s just a bloody wedding!”
She glared at him. “As I said before, Malfoy.” Hermione said. “If we’re going to get married, we’re doing this right. I wouldn’t want my parents asking me why I didn’t even bother putting that much effort into my own wedding.”
“Aren’t we already doing this right?” he asked. “You just take so long to pick one date.”
Hermione ignored him, and shifted her body so that she was facing him. “All right, what’s your favorite number?” she asked him.
Draco rolled his eyes. “99.” She slapped him on his arm. “What was that for?” he exclaimed.
“From 1 to 31.” Hermione snapped. “Pick a number.” She instructed him.
“Four.” He replied.
She sighed. “That’s so early in the month!” Hermione complained. “How about, the twenty-fourth?” She then scowled at her own idea. “Too late in the month.”
Draco let out a groan of annoyance. “Just pick a date! We’ve been on this topic for almost an hour now.” He snapped. Hermione glared at him. “Women!”
“How about the sixteenth?” Hermione asked, ignoring Draco’s comment. “It’s right in the middle of the month.”
“Fine, whatever.” Draco said, scribbling down the date. Before Hermione cold say anything more, he held up his hand to stop her from talking. “I already wrote it down- you can’t change the date anymore.” He said quickly, with a hint of annoyance in his voice. “The date of the wedding isn’t all that important.” He muttered under his breath.
“Sure it does.” Hermione said, intertwining her fingers in a piece of yellow ribbon. “People say that if the date of the wedding isn’t set right, then their marriage will turn into a load of dung by the time they reach a month of marriage.” She flashed Draco an innocent smile. “You don’t want that to happen to us, now do you?”
He scowled at both her teasing and sarcasm. “Granger, this marriage is doomed either way, so let’s just get on with this.”
She chuckled heartlessly. “That’s right.” Hermione said, standing up, smoothening out the large Jersey she wore in order to cover up her legs and skipped into the kitchen. “It’s you and I getting married. What was I thinking, trying to make this work out?” As she opened the cupboard, pulling out two long glasses and lemonade and iced tea from the refrigerator, Hermione couldn’t help but smirk when she practically heard Draco roll his eyes and scoff. She walked back into the sitting room, handing Draco his lemonade and setting down her glass of iced tea. “Just because you think it’s not going to work, you’re not even going to try?” Hermione asked, sitting back down on the couch.
“Now, the guest list.” Draco began, ignoring her. “Whom shall we invite?” he asked.
“Draco.” Hermione said with a stern voice, puling the notepad from his lap. “At least try to make this work. Please?” she asked him softly. “I don’t want to have to spend the next year of my life arguing with you and living in reciprocated hatred.
He took back the notepad from her, and sunk deeper into the couch. “It’s not like I’m purposely mean to you, Granger.” Draco said. “It just slips out of anger. Don’t worry.” He said before Hermione could say anything else. “I’ve gotten used to you in my life already- I think I can last another year with you here.”
Hermione took a deep breath. “Your parents, my parents.” She began, not wanting to continue their previous conversation. “Pansy, Blaise, Theodore, Daphne, Astoria and her parents.” Hermione said. “The Weasley’s, and Harry.”
The guest list went on and on. “Since when did we know so many people?” Draco asked, his eyes wide. “Father will have his own friends to invite, and so will my mother.” Hermione nodded, yawning a bit. “So will my parents. Also, there’s the matter of other guest bringing uninvited guests. We should start sending out invitations and ask everyone else to R.S.V.P immediately.”
Draco nodded. “I’ll have my mother make them.” He said. “Merlin knows that she’s dying to have some control over this.”
“Why is planning a wedding so difficult?” Hermione asked, stretching her tense body out. “I can’t believe some people actually enjoy this.”
He scoffed. “Mostly old mothers who would like nothing better than to see their sun married and out of their house.”
“Neither of that describes your mother.” She informed him.
“My mother simply wants to see me suffer because she knows that there’s something wrong with our relationship.” Draco replied.
Hermione laughed. “Your mother is a smart woman.”
“Not smart, Granger.” Draco corrected as he added a few more names to the guest list. “Conniving.”
She snorted. “That’s not a very nice thing to say about your own mother.”
“That’s only because you don’t know her very well.” He replied.
Hermione shrugged, stretching her legs out by Draco’s sides, and resting her back against the arm of the couch. “What else is there to plan?” she asked him. “There’s the matter of the best man, brides mates and my maid of honor.”
He nodded. “Who will it be?” Draco asked, turning to Hermione.
“Ginny will be my maid of honor.” She answered. “Pansy could be one of my brides mates.” Hermione said. “Blaise will be your best man, I suppose?”
Draco nodded. “Would you like a flower girl and a ring bearer?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Sure, but I don’t know any little girls. But I do have an idea of a ring bearer.” Hermione said. “Teddy Lupin may be our ring bearer. And little Victoire can be our flower girl.”
“Father will have a heart attack once he see’s half the Weasley clan attending our wedding.” Draco said to her, half-heartedly.
Hermione rolled her eyes, throwing the ribbon at Draco’s face. He proceeded in tossing it back on her stomach, ignoring the kick Hermione sent to his side.
“Is this the house?” Draco asked, breathing heavily as he and Hermione appeared from the darkness of the forest. “You’re right, it’s a load of dung.” He commented with a look of pure spite plastered on his face.
Hermione watched as he doubled over with his hands on his knees. The sun had reached its peak in the sky hours ago, and it was beginning to sink upon the horizon. She laughed, clapping her hand against Draco’s back. “You can’t honestly tell me that you’re tired.” Hermione said, shaking her head at him. “What happened to all those years of Quidditch?”
He looked back at the forest, and then returning back to Hermione’s face. Draco raised his hand, pointing back at the cluster of trees. “Do you know how far the apparition point was?” he asked as his breathing began to even out. “I’ve never had to climb so many rocks in my life!”
Slipping her hand off his back, Hermione rolled her eyes and began walking across the field of wheat. “Stop being such a little girl Draco.” She called back. “Even I have more stamina than you!” Once she had reached a willow tree not far from the house, she looked back to see if Draco was still in his previous spot. “Hurry up Draco!” Hermione shouted. “We’ll have to walk through that forest in the dark if we don’t leave here before it’s close to dusk!”
Draco groaned as he picked his heavy body up and ran towards the old ramshackle house. He paused before walking up the stairs, noticing a large lake behind the house. The large deteriorated tire swing caught his attention, as it allowed the wind to swing it to and fro.
“Malfoy.” Hermione called from inside the house. “Get in here.”
He found her in a large room on the right side of the staircase. A low whistle escaped his lips. There was a large hole in the middle of the room, with various remaining floorboards crossing through the middle. There was a fireplace on the other side of the room, with a large dusty mirror resting against the mantle. A grand piano sat in the corner of the room, with a red velvet sheet covering half of it. Both the piano and sheet was covered in a thick layer of dust.
“Be careful.” Hermione whispered to Draco, gripping his arm once his left foot came close to the hole in the floor. “I’ve never been inside here before. I don’t trust these floorboards.”
Slowly and steadily, Draco and Hermione made their way to the grand piano. The keys, as well as the rest of the piano were covered in dust as well. It was evident that the previous owner of the house forgot to pull down the cover for the keys. “Do you think it still works?” Hermione asked, her fingers lightly touching the dusty keys. “We could fix it up. Use it for the ceremony.”
Draco shrugged. “Perhaps.” He replied. His middle finger pressed hard against three keys, causing the piano to give a horrid sound. “It’s out of tune.” Draco told her.
“Can you play?” she asked, walking over to the fireplace.
He shook his head. “I used to. However, I forgot everything mother taught me.” Draco answered, suddenly feeling nostalgic.
Hermione carefully maneuvered her way around the hole in the floor, walking over to the doorway in the left side of the room. “How long do you think it’ll take to fix this place up?” she asked. “Would we be able to do this by magic?”
“Granger, watch out!” he shouted, pointing to the lose floorboard that Hermione stepped on.
The house made a loud complaint, followed by an even louder shriek coming from Hermione. Several floorboards fell to the floor below, along with Hermione. “Granger?” Draco asked, leaning against the sturdy side of the ground. He heard her coughing, most likely because of all the accumulated dust in the house. “Are you alright?”
She pushed floorboards off her body and wiped the dust from her face before she looked up to face Draco. “Could you get me out of here?” Hermione asked loudly, suddenly fearing what was hidden in the darkness. “Fast?”
“Do you have your wand?” Draco asked her after spending a few moments surveying what he had to work with.
Hermione shook her head. “I didn’t think that it was necessary.” She said. “Could you just get me out of here?” Hermione asked desperately.
He groaned. “Lets get something straight here.” Draco said. “We need to start bringing our wands around with us, everywhere we go.”
“Shut up, and get me out of here!” she cried, dusting herself off.
“There’s nothing here to pull you up.” Draco told her.
Hermione looked up and glared at him. “Then what? Are you just going to leave me here because you can’t find anything to pull me up?” she snapped angrily.
Draco thought for a moment. “I’ll go back home and get my wand, and you can stay here and wait!” he suggested.
“Do not leave me here!” Hermione shouted in response. “You can’t leave me in a creepy old house Malfoy.” She told him desperately. “Malfoy!” she shouted, watching him walk out of the room. “Draco!” Hermione screamed. “Draco, get back here!” But no matter how loud she screamed she didn’t hear his footsteps enter the house once more.
Hermione shoved her hands in her pockets, hoping that she had brought her wand with her. She took a good look at her surroundings, and noticed that the cellar was almost empty with an exception of several boxes lined up on the right side of the room. The other three corners was almost pitch black, and she couldn’t see if there were stairs leading back upstairs. The sun was beginning to set, and the room was getting darker and darker as minutes went by.
“Get a grip of yourself, Hermione.” She said, turning to look behind her. “You’re a grown woman who shouldn’t be afraid of the dark. You’ve faced a lot of scarier, more life threatening situations than this.” Unfortunately, Hermione had realized that talking to herself didn’t bring her much comfort.
“Boo.” A loud scream erupted from Hermione’s throat, as she jumped and turned to face the man behind her, who was currently doubled over laughing.
Hermione’s heart was pounding against her chest, and she narrowed her eyes at Draco. “You prat!” she shouted, smacking the back of his head. “That was not funny!”
He nodded, still laughing. “Yes it was. I can’t believe you’re scared of the dark.” Draco said, laughing loudly. “How old are you, Granger? Ten?”
“How did you get down here?” she asked him, ignoring his comments.
“If you weren’t too scared,” Draco said, chuckling a bit. “You would’ve noticed that there are stairs right over there.” He pointed behind them, and in the dark, Hermione could see the faintest outline of wooden stairs.
As she rolled her eyes at Draco’s immature behavior, she began walking towards the stairs, with Draco following closely behind her. She had barely gotten three feet away from her previous spot, before her feet collided with something, causing her to trip and fall over.
Draco, who was behind her, erupted in another round of laughter. “Malfoy.” Hermione growled, realizing that it was he who had tripped her. “Really?” She asked. “How old are you, fourteen?” Hermione snapped as she continued walking to the stairs, carefully watching where she was walking. “Don’t you dare trip me again, or I’ll beat you into a bloody pulp.”
With as much sarcasm intended, Draco coward behind his arms like a scared little toddler. “I’m so scared.” He whimpered.
“Shut up.” Hermione sneered, walking up the stairs and exiting the cellar. “I can’t believe I’m about to marry an adult who hasn’t quiet grown up yet.” It was now dark, and she regretted even visiting the house at all. “Great, now we have to walk through the forest in the dark.”
Draco disregarded her last comment. “I can’t believe that I have to marry a woman who’s scared of the dark.” He shot back, following her into the forest. “I don’t understand why we can’t just apparate.”
“There are muggle hunters who walk around her at night.” She answered, stepping over a long log. “There are several of them hidden in the bushes in order to hunt, so we can’t do anything magical.” She turned around, stopping Draco from walking any further. “And for the record- I’m not afraid of the dark. I was just being aware of my surroundings.” Hermione resented.
She turned around again and continued walking down the path she had marked ages ago. Draco raised his eyebrows at her. “Okay, whatever you say Granger.” He said. “I wonder how you can sleep at night without a nightlight.”
Hermione closed her eyes as she tried to restrain herself from bashing his head against a tree. “I’m not afraid of the dark, Malfoy.” She repeated.
“I’m even surprised that you can walk through the dark forest right now without a wand.” He continued as they walked up a hill. “Or perhaps it’s only possible because my manly essence makes you feel safe and secure.” Draco smirked at the arrogant thought. “Yeah, that must be it. Having a big strong man like me must make you feel really safe, doesn’t it Granger?”
A scoff escaped her. “Sure it does.” Hermione replied, sarcasm dripping from her voice. “You’re so brave, Malfoy. Just like time when you ran away from the invisible attacker throwing snowballs at you? Very brave.”
Draco scowled, recalling the incident back in their third year. “I just wanted to get away from that ruddy Potter, that’s all.”
Hermione laughed loudly, throwing her head back. “That’s very brave of you, Malfoy. Running away from a thirteen-year-old boy throwing snowballs. Very brave indeed.”
“At least I don’t have a fear of something a little three year old girl would be afraid off.” Draco snapped back.
“Actually, I do believe little three year old girls are afraid of thirteen year old boys.” Hermione replied. “And that’s a lot more pathetic for you, since you are- as you say, a big strong man.” She giggled again, and continued walking forward. However, something caused her merriment to cease. “Oh bugger.” She muttered under her breath.
Draco stopped closely behind her. “What is it?” he asked, frowning. “Why did you stop?”
“It just ends.” Hermione said, looking forward into the distance. “Someone messed with the trail. It just ends right here.”
“Then can’t we just keep walking forward?” Draco asked. “We didn’t take any complicated turns anyway.”
She shook her head, and stopped him from walking any further. “No,” Hermione told him. “You don’t get it.” She said. “Someone completely changed the trail, and led us far from the other side of the forest. I have no idea where we are right now!”
He groaned. “This is why we have to carry our wands with us!” Draco snapped angrily. “Honestly, what kind of wizard or witch leaves their wand at home?” Hermione rolled her eyes, and she began looking around her surroundings. Unfortunately, darkness engulfed the forest, making it impossible to see further than a few feet in front of them. “What do you propose we do now?” Draco asked irritably. “We’re stuck is some godforsaken forest!”
“You tell me!” Hermione snapped exasperatedly. “You’re the big, strong, brave man. What shall we do, oh great one?” she shot at him. “I know one things for sure. There’s no way in hell I’m being stuck in a forest with you all night.” She began walking forward, hoping that it would be the correct way out.
Draco scoffed. “Any woman in their right mind would simply love to be stuck in a forest with me for an entire night.”
A scowl formed on Hermione’s face as she watched his head inflate. “Shut your mouth, Malfoy- before your head gets too big for your body to support.” She told him angrily. “And unlike those other women, I’d prefer spending my night in a warm, soft bed- away from you.”
He laughed loudly. “Why darling, once we’re married- we’ll be forced to share a bed.” Draco said, smirking. “And maybe even conceive a child.”
With a disgusted expression on her face, Hermione abruptly stopped before Draco even had a chance to wiggle his eyebrows at her. “There is absolutely no way that I am going to have a child with you.” She said sternly. “Let’s just get that straight right now.”
Arms folded across his chest, Draco looked at her. “What’s so wrong with having a child with me Granger?” he asked. “A wife is supposed to carry a mans child.”
She shook her head quickly. “Lucky for me, I’m not yours or any man’s real wife.” Hermione said to him, placing her hands on her hips. “I will not bare your child! Do you have any idea how painful childbirth can be? And how long it can take?”
Draco shrugged. “At least it’s not me giving birth.” He replied, walking around Hermione and towards the direction they were heading towards. “You’ve got hips, don’t you Granger? Aren’t they suppose to make childbirth less painful?”
“Emphasis on less.” Hermione retorted. “Just because it makes it less painful, doesn’t mean it won’t be painful at all.” She told him. “And we’re getting a divorce in a year or so. You can have a child with whatever other woman you choose after me.”
Much to her surprise, Draco turned and pouted at her. “But Hermione,” He said, his voice low and sweet. “I don’t want anyone but you.” Draco told her softly. “I can’t imagine my life without you there by my side. Losing you would be like losing the air I breathe, and the ground I walk on. Everything would just fall apart right from under me, and I’d end up falling into a dark abyss with no hope in finding my way out.”
Throwing her head back, Hermione laughed loudly, and continued walking, avoiding large rocks that were in her way. “You’re incredibly hilarious Malfoy.” She said. “You know, that almost would’ve been sweet if your voice wasn’t dripping with tons and tons of sarcasm.”
Draco laughed nervously, suddenly wondering himself if he was sincerely joking or not. However, he shook the idea from his head after fear crawled into his body. “Do you think we’re going the right way?” he asked, gulping.
“Erm,” she replied, ducking once she neared a low tree branch. “I’m not sure. I’ve never seen this part of the forest before.”
The sound of a low growl filled his ears, and he was positive that Hermione couldn’t sound so realistic. “Granger, is there any animals around here?” he asked nervously, looking around the trees and shrubs. “Wolves or bears perhaps?”
“I’ve never really been out here this late at night to find out.” She replied. “Why? Did you see something?”
Draco shook his head. “Keep walking.” He told her. “There’s nothing here.” Unsure who he was reassuring; Draco gave a small push, telling her to continue walking forward. “Just don’t make any sudden movements.” He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. “You never know what’s hidden in the dark.”
“You’re scaring me Malfoy.” She said anxiously, turning around to eye him. He was currently scanning the darkness, hoping to find a clearing of some sort. “Do you see anyway out?”
“Just keep walking Hermione.” Draco ordered. “Don’t look back.” Out of the corner of his eye, a large animal crept close to the ground was watching them. “Don’t start running until I tell you to.”
Hermione made a move to turn around, however, Draco’s hands flew to her shoulders and immediately steered her back around. “Just listen to me, and do as I say.” He said. “Trust me.”
Out of fear and anxiety, Hermione held her breath, and began counting to a hundred. Draco had led her straight forward. While their steps were calm and natural, he however, wasn’t. He kept an arm around her waist, while the other gripped her left arm lightly. His sudden awareness hinted to Hermione that there was something wrong and dangerous coming for them, and all she could do was trust what he was telling her to do.
As a twig snapped behind them, another low growl broke the silence. Hermione’s heart jumped out of her chest and Draco immediately tightened his grip on her body, holding her as close as possible. “Run, and don’t stop running.” He ordered, gripping her hand tightly. “There’s a lot more coming.”
Snarling, the wolf began running for them, launching at its prey. Draco quickly ran as fast as he could, pulling Hermione along with him. “Do you see that?” he asked, almost breathless.
Hermione looked up from the ground, and saw the small clearing that she had been hoping to see for the past hour. “It’s getting closer!” she shouted, looking back. Draco was right. There were about five more other wolves chasing closely behind the large brown one that they had seen earlier.
With its lip pulled back, she was able to see the sharp white teeth that would tear both her and Draco apart if they had no made it to the clearing in time. The wolf growled, and launched itself at Hermione. She felt Draco grip her sides once more, hosting her up and preventing her from falling to the ground.
A gunshot rippled through the air, followed by a low whimper. Despite this, Hermione and Draco continued running for the clearing, knowing that if they were to stop- there were more wolves coming for them. Carefully, Hermione looked back to see what had happened to their attackers. “Don’t look back.” Draco ordered. “You might trip and fall. Just keep running.”
Turning her head forward, Hermione kept running. For what seemed like thirty minutes later, they had finally reached the clearing and found that the apparition point was merely a few feet away. Draco immediately stopped running, and looked back into the forest. “Are you alright?” he asked, breathless as he turned to Hermione.
She nodded, breathing heavily as well. She looked back into the forest, only to find that two muggles had captured the wolf, and was now bringing it home for dinner. “It’s horrible that they can do that to animals.” Hermione whispered softly.
Draco turned to her with disbelief. “You almost got eaten by a wolf, and you’re thinking of the horrible things hunters do to animals?” he asked, surprised. “You’re unbelievable Granger.”
Shrugging, Hermione chuckled a bit as she caught her breath. “Are you alright?” she asked him.
“Not a scratch on me.” Draco said, grinning at her.
Hermione sighed with content, and her heart suddenly sped up. She collapsed into Draco’s chest, trying to control her unsteady heart rate. “That was so scary.” She whispered.
“It’s over.” He said to her, winding his arms around her body.
Once Hermione had lifted her head from his body, she found herself standing in the middle of their flat. “I didn’t even notice that we apparated back.” She said to him, looking around. Walking away from him, she collapsed onto the couch, kicking off her shoes and propping her feet up on the coffee table. “This was a heck of a day.”
Draco chuckled. “Yes it was.” He agreed, picking up her upper body, pushing it off to make room to sit.
“Ow.” She muttered, lying back down. “What time is it?” Hermione yawned. Draco’s answer was incoherent to her, as she drifted off to sleep.
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