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Chapter 9 : Confusion, Just Because, and No Howlers
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“Damn it,” Hermione swore aloud. She immediately went into her bedroom and changed out of her clothes. She even went as far as throwing them in the trash. She wanted nothing that was going to remind her how stupid she had been and how she had momentarily lost her mind. How had he gotten her to lose all control? She had been so steady, so unmoving, and yet in one moment Hermione had lost her footing completely and fell…hard. It was unbelievable, and she had absolutely no idea how she’d be able to face him –or Asteria or her sister for that matter –ever again.
The sound of apparation filled her ears and Ginny stood in the middle of the living room apologizing.
“Sorry, I was busy and only just saw your owl. What’s going on?”
“Gin, you’re going to kill me.”
“What? What for..?”
“It has to do with Malfoy.”
“I still don’t understand. What would I kill you for?”
“Well, it sort of has to do with, um, Malfoy’s little proposal to help him get out of marrying Asteria.”
“- No,” Ginny said with wide-eyes. She gripped her best friend’s shoulders and accused, “You slept with him?!”
“No!” Hermione shouted. “No, I didn’t do that. But…oh Gin, let’s just say that we did enough things to each other that... Oh, I can’t even talk about it.”
“I don’t believe it! Hermione, you said you wouldn’t! I advised you that you shouldn’t. And it’s…it’s…it’s Malfoy! And he’s getting married! And it’s Malfoy!”
“I know, I know! You have no idea how awful I feel. Thank Merlin there was a fireplace in the room so I didn’t have to sneak around Asteria when trying to leave.”
“Oh, no, Asteria..!” Ginny said urgently. “I hope that she didn’t, you know, hear you.”
“No, if you’ll believe it the room was sound proof.” Hermione said with her head in her hands.
“But I don’t understand. What happened to- to standing your ground? To not letting Malfoy getting his way? How on earth did all of that just completely fly out of the window?!”
“I wish I knew.” Hermione groaned. “He wouldn’t let me get away. And by the time I could’ve actually done so…it was a bit hard to. What am I going to do? I can’t face either of them ever again.”
“Well, maybe you won’t have to.”
“What do you mean? Gin, I’m their wedding planner.”
“Not anymore you aren’t,” Ginny told her. “Malfoy’s finally had his affair. Once Asteria finds out, it’ll all be over. You’ll finally be rid of him.”
Hermione had been looking at the downside of her little…thing with Draco, but she had completely forgotten the plus side of it. She was free. The wedding would be called off now and then she and Draco could finally go their separate ways. She could put everything behind her and hold her head up high –or as high enough as her dignity would allow.
Hermione took two back-to-back showers that night and went to bed early. She was sure that she wouldn’t feel better about herself for at least another week, but the thought that everything would be called off made up for how she felt. Before she went to lie in bed, she opened her window wide enough so an owl could fly through. In the morning she figured that there would be an owl perched on desk with a letter in its beak from Asteria, stating that the wedding was off and condemning her for running her pending marriage.
When Hermione woke up the next morning, there was a letter from Asteria on her desk just as she knew there would be. She was quite surprised that it wasn’t a howler. But what surprised her most was that the first words of the letter wasn’t, “The wedding is off.” In fact, she couldn’t find those words written anywhere in the letter though Hermione had read it at least three times. All it said was that Asteria wanted her to go to the Manor in order to fix a few “wardrobe malfunctions” for a few of the bridesmaids and that she would be paid handsomely for it.
To say that Hermione was confused was a complete understatement. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. She was supposed to be finished. There wasn’t supposed to be a wedding anymore, and her career as a wedding planner should’ve been suffering a peg or two. There was only one way to figure out what was going on and that was to immediately head over to Manor, do what Asteria had asked her to do, and find Draco.
Fixing the bridesmaids’ gowns wasn’t that difficult. In fact, Hermione could find no fault in them, but Asteria insisted that something about them “just wasn’t right.” But of course, nothing was “just right” when it came to Asteria. She strived for perfection, though Hermione didn’t have the heart to tell her that there was no such thing as having the perfect anything.
Once she was finished, Hermione went in an open search of Draco. She didn’t care if someone saw that she was looking for him. She had only one agenda right then, and once she found him in what seemed to be a study, she openly asked, “Why am I still planning a wedding?”
Draco looked up at her in full surprise. “You really shouldn’t say something like that in the middle of the hallway.”
Hermione was apprehensive about being anywhere alone with him, but he was right. Sighing, she walked inside and closed the door behind her. “Well? Answer me. I should be rid of you right now.”
“Why? Because of yesterday..?”
“No, because the bloody circus came to town… Of course because of yesterday..! Malfoy, I thought that this would be over by now, but instead I was here fixing dresses!”
“Granger, do you really think that if I told Asteria about yesterday that she would’ve believed me?”
Hermione was going to pull her hair out. Instead, she went over to Draco and did what she should’ve done yesterday: slapped him. She slapped him once and hard and raised her hand to do it again, but Draco stood from his seat and grabbed her arm before it came in contact with his face again.
“Let me go, Malfoy.”
“Are you going to play nice?”
“Then I won’t let go.”
Hermione continued to struggle against him but cursed the fact that he had a good grip on her and was too strong for her to push him away. She eventually gave up and stared into his eyes, sighing, and said, “What was the point? If you weren’t going to tell Asteria, then what was the whole point of it all?”
“I already told you that telling her would’ve proved no difference. Asteria would’ve had to seen it for herself.”
“If you knew that, then I shall ask again, what was the whole point?”
Draco swallowed and let Hermione go. He took a deep breath and ran his hands through his hair. “Can’t you just accept the fact that I just wanted to do it?”
“Absolutely not,” Hermione said with an almost hysterical chuckle. “It’s not…it’s not rational!”
“Damn your rationality then. For Merlin’s sake…I guess it would’ve made you feel better if my thinking was that Asteria would hear us, come barging in, and then we’d both be off the hook, right?”
“Y-yes, yes it would.”
“And that’s what it was –at first.” Draco admitted. “It was bloody perfect. Until I realized what room we were in. But by then, we couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop.”
“…I won’t do it again.” Hermione told him quietly. She shook her head and frowned. “I can’t.”
“Give me one reason why not.”
“Because after yesterday…I don’t think I’ll be able to stop.”
Hermione was pacing her flat after she left the Manor. She kept thinking back over her words. Because after yesterday, I don’t think that I’ll be able to stop… What business did she have to say something like that? Why she said that would be the better question. Sighing, Hermione realized that it was just a moment of honesty. She was many things, but she was no home-wrecker. And okay, Draco and Asteria’s relationship was already wrecked, but it wasn’t beyond repair. To her shock, Asteria actually recognized the problems that were obvious to Hermione and was willing to fix them. If Draco could just get on board with her, everything would be fine.
But no, Draco was through. Somehow he had fallen out of love with her in a rather quick fashion. Hell, had he ever been in love with Asteria? Probably not, Hermione presumed, because she knew how these things worked. Two well-to-do families, their children having known each other for years, and they were already destined to be together whether they wanted to or not. They would’ve been paired up to go to parties together, have lunches together, and what would form was what Hermione liked to call “Rich Love.” It wasn’t as pretty as it sounded, because all it entailed was the rich marrying the rich, more than likely loving the money, rather than who it belonged to.
Asteria fit into that category perfectly, and perhaps Draco had been an odd mold –loving her first and then suddenly realizing that she preferred his money rather than him. Yes, Asteria “wanted” to work out their numerous problems, but did Hermione think that her new-found attitude was going to stick. Absolutely not… When the wedding date would come, all of that would drop dead, and Asteria would go back to her money hungry ways.
Of course that is if there’s a wedding… Hermione thought to herself. Draco was going to destroy this wedding no matter what and he was going to get her to help him. But would it really be about getting him from out of Asteria’s clutches? Hermione sighed. He had figured out that the room was sound proof, but he didn’t stop. He had asked if it hadn’t occurred to her that he had just wanted to do it, and no, it hadn’t crossed her mind at all because like she had told him, it was ridiculous.
What was more ridiculous was that Hermione was scared. She was scared of how she felt in that room and of being anywhere alone with him again. She couldn’t fully blame Draco because she had a mind of her own. There were plenty of times while they were there that Hermione could’ve pushed him away from her, but she didn’t. Who would’ve?
Awful things can happen when a man and a woman are left alone together for an extended amount of time. They don’t have to like each other. They don’t even have to know each other. Unfortunately for Hermione and Draco, they both knew and liked each other (for Hermione more towards the spectrum of friend-worthy than intimately). They were cursed for now, and she had no idea what was going to happen next.
author's note: a new chap, wooppee!! i've been doing homework all day long and i decided to put up this next chapter. alas, now it's time to get back to working on my 10-pg research paper due tomorrow at 9 am..... fun isnt it? lol
reviews would cheer me up greatly haha... hope you liked the chap :)
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