It took a whole two hours for the stream to get back to normal. When it had, Hermione and Draco crossed it and made their way back to the hotel in silence. Both of them were angry with each other, both thinking that they were right and that the other was just being selfish. Once they got back to the hotel, they went their separate ways and into their suites. Hermione was more than ecstatic to finally be away from him. Honestly, what did he really think? That she would take pity on him and say, “Okay, I’ll have a small affair with you so you won’t have to marry Asteria.” It wasn’t going to happen, unbreakable vow or not. And besides, the vow, or at least what he told her about it, mentioned nothing about him not being able to divorce Asteria. He could do that. Marry the woman and then divorce her shortly after. Draco didn’t need Hermione despite how he made it out to seem, and thinking that completely cleared her conscience. She’d tell him that too, because it was quite possible that that thought hadn’t even crossed his mind.
Hermione sighed, and called room service since she was absolutely starving. Before she could settle into the sofa as she had before Draco came to get her, the fireplace within the room which had been ignited gave a small sputter. Furrowing her brow, she went over to it, and slightly gasped when she saw a face appear within it. After realizing who it was, she put her hands on her hips and grinned.
“How did you know which fireplace to appear in?” Hermione asked.
“I didn’t.” Harry told her. “Took a few tries before I found the right one. So, how’s Italy?”
“I’d rather be in England.”
“Are you kidding? You always told me that you wanted to go there.”
“Yes, but I wanted to go with people like you, and Ron, and Ginny; not bloody Malfoy and his prissy fiancée.”
“Whoa, what’s got your knickers in a knot? Are they giving you a hard time? Because Ron and I could always-”
“It’s…complicated.” Hermione said bitterly. “Let’s just say the wedding is hardly worth what I’m getting paid.”
“Are you thinking about not planning their wedding anymore?”
In truth Hermione wasn’t. She was merely trying to figure out a way to deal with her current situation of Draco trying to make her his exit strategy. But what if she did quit their wedding? There wouldn’t be a thing they could do about it except grip and moan. But I’d lose any potential clients… Hermione frowned. And that was the last thing that she wanted no matter how things were turning out.
“’Mione..? ‘Mione..? Did you blank out on me?”
“What? Oh, sorry, and no, I’m not going to stop planning the wedding.” Hermione sighed and crossed her arms. “I’ll deal with it, don’t worry.”
Harry nodded just as there was a knock on the door. There were only three people it could be so she rolled her eyes and told Harry that she’d talk to him later or simply see him when she got back. Once his face was out of the fireplace Hermione answered the door and saw Victoria with a broad smile on your face.
“How was the small trip with Draco?” She asked. Hermione wanted to vomit because of the tone of voice Victoria was putting on. It was such a false aura of friendship and sincerity.
“Really, even with that terrible storm earlier?”
“Yes, well, there are worse things than rain. On a more business note, the place that Asteria has picked out is quite lovely.”
“Fantastic so long as you don’t change your mind when the four of us make a trip there tomorrow,”
“Trust me, I won’t. Especially since I don’t want to go on another trip with Draco.” She mumbled underneath her breath. “Um, is that all you wanted?”
Victoria, who had taken it upon herself to venture into Hermione’s suite and take a small look, turned to look at her and then grinned.
“No, that’s not all. I’ve come with a message from my sister. She’s treating everyone to dinner this evening. Semi-elegant wear, of course, and we’re to meet her and Draco in the lobby promptly at seven-forty-five.”
“Alright then, I’ll make sure that I’m ready.”
Victoria nodded and made her way out of the suite before stopping, and giving Hermione a wry stare.
“You know, Draco seemed a bit…shaken when you both returned. You wouldn’t happen to know why, would you?”
“I don’t know.” Hermione said half-truthfully, but then gave a rival stare and added, “It’s not like as if I’m his keeper, right?”
“Humph, of course not... That’s what Asteria’s for.”
Hermione closed the door after she left and leaned up against it. She shook her head and painfully realized that this was only day one of this four-day trip. So far she had already learned that Draco was an idiot for making the Unbreakable Vow, drunk or drunk not, and that he was completely unfair in what he was asking her to do. What was going to happen the next day? Draco was going to sneak into her suite, crawl into bed with her, and make sure that Asteria found out? Hermione shuddered at the thought and double checked that the door was secure.
Hermione had expected that she would have an “elegant” evening during at least one point in this business/pleasure trip, so she was happy to know that she had planned accordingly and brought along one or two outfits that could pass as such. By six-thirty she was in the shower and by seven-thirty-five she was putting the finishing touches on her face and hair. After finally feeling satisfied with herself, she hurried downstairs where she saw with discontent that Draco was the only one in the lobby.
Why should you be surprised, Hermione? She asked herself. He always finds a way to be with you when you’re alone. Just accept the fact that Merlin hates you. She slowed herself down to a walk (for she had been rushing) and stopped when Draco spotted her. He looked good. Dressed in black slacks, a white button-up and a semi-formal jacket; if he and Hermione was a couple they would’ve matched since she was wearing a simple black knee-length dress. Normally she would’ve complimented him, not just because she was a nice person, but because it was always good to butter up the clients from time to time. Yet with the current situation he was lucky she hadn’t hexed him yet.
“You look nice.” Draco mumbled to her. Hermione clutched her small purse and nodded.
“Thanks, so do you.” She replied briskly. If now more than ever she wished Asteria was there. Anything to break the awful tension that she was feeling... “Where’s Asteria?” Draco looked up at her and chuckled as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
“You sound like as if you actually want to see her. What’s the matter, don’t want to be alone with me?”
“When have I ever wanted to be alone with you?” Hermione snapped at him. Sighing, she added in a whisper, “Besides, after our little conversation back at the mansion it gave me a bonus reason.”
“For Merlin’s sake, you’re acting like as if I asked you to do something unreasonable.”
“And you don’t think asking me to have an affair with you isn’t unreasonable!”
“In order to get me out of this mess..? No-!”
“Are we all ready to go?”
Hermione and Draco quickly ended their just-above-a-whisper row as they saw Asteria in all her glory walking towards them with Victoria following at her side.
“Oh, Miss Granger, don’t you look lovely!”
“Thank you, Asteria. You look great as well.”
“Well, of course she does.” Victoria said arrogantly. “She didn’t pay nearly five thousand galleons for her dress for nothing.”
Draco visibly flinched and scowled when he heard the price and Hermione, someone who had had pity for him when it came to money, merely huffed on the inside declaring that he deserved it. The four of them locked hands with each other since Asteria was the only one who knew where they were going and landed in an abandoned alley. Asteria, arm-in-arm with Draco, led the way out and up a block to a petite restaurant. Once inside they were presented as the “Malfoy party” since Draco’s fiancée had taken it upon herself to book their time at the restaurant in his name.
The restaurant was nice, Hermione concluded. She had expected nothing than the best if Asteria was planning anything. The four of them were led by a waiter to a petite round table on a small pedestal which gave a perfect view of the entire restaurant.
“So, how did you like the wedding spot, Miss Granger?” Asteria asked after they ordered. Hermione automatically casted at glance at Draco, who was heavily sipping wine, and then looked toward Victoria, who had a sly smirk on her face.
“It was very nice.” Hermione answered. “Very spacious, excellent grounds… A wonderful place to have a wedding, truly,”
“I’m so glad that you think so. I’ve already put a down payment on the mansion-”
“You did what?” Draco said after nearly choking on his wine. “And what if she didn’t like the mansion?”
“Well, a couple thousand galleons would’ve gone down the drain. Come on, Draco, you and I both know that you can afford it.”
Victoria snickered, Draco scowled, Asteria smiled triumphantly, and Hermione was tempted to drink all of her wine in one go and then call for another like as if she sitting at a bar. She didn’t feel like having an extravagant dinner anymore (not like she had in the first place). Somehow in this moment she realized that she disliked everyone she was sitting around. Asteria was quite the piece the work and cared nothing but about herself. Victoria was a woman of games and seemed to be watching Hermione like a hawk. And Draco, bloodyDraco, was giving her the biggest headache out of the three of them, and seeing him watching her from the corner of her eye was driving her insane.
“Miss Granger, are you alright?” Asteria asked her gently. Hermione jumped up out of her reverie and sighed.
“No, not really… Feeling a little bit ill, actually,” She lied. “I think that I might have to go back to the hotel.”
“Oh, how awful,” Victoria said in mock sympathy. “Why don’t you let Draco go along with you? If you’re ill, you shouldn’t be heading out by yourself-”
“No, it’s quite fine. A small apparation and everything will be alright.”
“Very well then… Until tomorrow then, Miss Granger,”
Hermione nodded and gathered her things to leave. She was happy to finally be out of there and hurried her steps to the apparation spot once she was clear of the restaurant. Once she was back in her room at the hotel, Hermione let out a sigh of relief. Now more than ever she wanted to go back to England. Sure she wouldn’t have been shot of Draco just yet, but at least she’d be able to go home and not be any more than a door down from him.
After kicking off her shoes and loosing the band that held part of her hair together, there was a knock on her door. Furrowing her brow, Hermione looked through the peep hole and cursed out loud. She put her hand on the doorknob and was tempted to just back away and pretend she never heard the knock. How would he know that she was back in her room already? She could’ve taken a small walk around the city for a moment or two before apparating back for all he knew.
“Come on, Granger, open the door.” Draco called from behind it. Sighing, Hermione unlocked and opened the door.
“What in Merlin’s name are you doing here? I didn’t think Asteria would’ve had you to leave her dinner party. Or her side for that matter,”
“I told her I was stepping out for a moment to answer a business owl. You know her; won’t let me mess up on anything that allows me to make money.”
“Yes, yes, we both know that Asteria’s…” Hermione bit her tongue and collected her composure. She didn’t really allow herself to talk bad about her clients, especially when another one of them was standing in front of her. “What do you want, Malfoy, I’m ill, remember?”
“You and I both know that you’re not ill.”
“And what does that matter to you? All I want right now is to let the next few days to roll on by so I can go home. I won’t be rid of you there either, but at least-”
“You could be rid of me right now if you just do what I ask!” Draco shouted at her.
“Or you find another guinea pig, Malfoy..!” She shot back at him. “I signed up for a wedding, Draco. Not to get you out of a situation that you made yourself,”
“…Fine, alright, it wasn’t fair, I get it.” He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. “But I’m kind of desperate here, Granger.”
“I’ve noticed, and don’t think that I’m not sorry for you. I am, because this is a stupid thing to die over. But you really need to find another way.”
Hermione frowned and saw that he was defeated. As of right now she hardly cared. So long as her as his way out of marrying Asteria was out of the agenda, it was all fine with her. She had turned away from Draco and was pretty sure that he had silently left the room. She shook her head and positioned her hands in order to zip down her dress. It was much easier zipping up than down, she figured, and was about to go get her wand, when she shivered at the feel of cold hands at her back. Hermione muffled a small gasp when Draco’s voice whispered in her ear.
“Just helping,” He told her, and she felt the zipper of her dress slowly go down. After that Draco slipped himself out of her suite, and closed the door behind him. Hermione closed her eyes and sighed.
“The sooner I get out of here, the better.”
_________________________________________________________________ author's note: okay, it took forever to write and get posted up here, but i did! hope you liked it and please remember to review. it gives me inspiration for the next post so....yup! :)