Chapter 25 : Introducing...Maximilian??
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Hermione was in a bedroom. A child’s bedroom. She quickly relocked the door behind her in case someone came down the hallway and saw it unlocked.
The room was dimly lit by a blue nightlight in the corner, but she could see that light blue wallpaper and brightly-colored stickers of smiling cars and trucks lined the walls. Teddy bears, blocks, and even a toy broomstick lay scattered all around on the bright red carpet. A bookshelf in the corner was filled with picture books.
Hermione’s eyes finally travelled to the center of the room, where a racecar-shaped bed stood. There was a lump in the bed under the covers that rose and fell with every breath.
“Oh, Merlin,” Hermione breathed, approaching the bed. She gently pulled back the covers to reveal a little boy who couldn’t have been older than about two years old, sleeping soundly. The child had strawberry blonde hair and an abundance of freckles. He held a pink elephant to his chest as he slept.
As Hermione tried to gently replace the blanket, his eyes flickered open, revealing baby-blue eyes that were heavy with sleep. Hermione froze.
The child’s lower lip trembled as he looked at the stranger in his room. “Mama?” he asked tremulously, clutching his pink elephant tighter.
“It’s okay, sweetheart,” Hermione murmured soothingly, stroking the boy’s hair gently. “Your mama will be here soon.” Who was this child?! Was he Lorelei’s son? Why was he here? Questions flooded through her mind, but before she had a chance to ask the child anything, a lilting voice floated to her ears.
“Maxie, darling, mummy’s coming!” It was Lorelei’s voice, coming from the hallway outside the door.
Hermione’s blood ran cold as she heard the name “Maxie.” Maxie, short for Maximilian? But it couldn’t be! Hermione quickly cast a Disillusionment Charm on herself and hid behind the white dresser, trusting in the shadows to hide her. If Lorelei turned on a brighter light, Hermione would be exposed, but in the dim lighting of the nightlight, she was safely hidden.
The door unlocked and slid open. Hermione peeked around the corner and saw Lorelei walk in. The child sat up fully in bed, reaching up to his mother with outstretched arms. To Hermione’s complete and utter shock, Lorelei scooped him up lovingly in her arms, cooing softly to him. This was a side of Lorelei that she had never seen before and definitely hadn’t expected.
“Would you like me to read you a story, Maximilian?” Lorelei asked soothingly, stroking her son’s hair ever so gently.
Maximilian gurgled a delighted “Yes!” and squirmed out of his mother’s arms. He toddled over to the bookshelf and pulled out a book to bring to his mother.
Hermione was forced to remain in her cramped position while Lorelei read the story to Maximilan, her voice a sweet echo of its usual nastiness. About ten minutes into the book, Hermione felt her body changing back into her own. She grimaced but kept quiet as her breasts strained at the top of the corset. With a wordless spell, she managed to make it a size larger so that she could breathe easier.
Once the story was finished, Lorelei tucked her son back into bed, kissed him goodnight, and left the room, relocking the door behind her.
Hermione lingered in her spot behind the dresser after Lorelei was gone. This was too confusing for her to comprehend just then. She wanted to take Maximilian with her to protect him, but so far she had seen nothing to convince her that he was being mistreated by his mother—and neither had she seen that he had anything to do with the curses.
Finally, with a frustrated sigh, she got to her feet, turned on the spot, and disapparated, hoping that the loud crack wouldn’t startle the child.
Hermione reappeared outside the door that led to Draco’s penthouse, since she knew that he would have put up wards against anyone apparating in. “Alohomora,” she said, hearing the satisfying click of the door unlocking for her. She turned the handle and went inside. Once she closed the door softly behind her, she immediately heard an argument to her right from the living room.
“—not going back to the Ministry!” Gary’s voice protested hotly. “I’m an Auror and I’m going to help you guys!”
“There’s no ‘you guys,’” replied Draco’s cold voice. “I broke my cover by saving your pathetic skin, so Hermione’s on her own now. Merlin knows if she’s even alive.”
Hermione thought that she heard just a little hitch in his voice, but she supposed that it could have been her imagination.
“Why aren’t we going after her?” Gary asked, sounding as upset as Hermione had ever heard him.
“Because if she somehow managed to keep her cover, she’d kill both of us for jeopardizing it,” replied Draco angrily.
Hermione wondered whether he was angry with her, Gary, or maybe even himself. She finally entered the room.
Gary was sitting on the edge of a plush chair on the far end of the chair, a plate of food in hand. He was both trying to shovel food into his emaciated stomach and plead with Draco, who was pacing slowly in the center of the room around the glass table, upon which lay an empty bottle of liquor and a similarly empty glass. Gary saw Hermione behind Draco and choked on a large mouthful of cold turkey.
Draco ignored the boy’s spluttering cries of excitement. “Chew and swallow, Saunders—it’s not that hard,” he muttered absently, continuing his pacing. Worry for Hermione was making him jumpy. He had told her to follow him and she hadn’t. He hoped that she had stayed behind of her own will in order to keep her cover, but she could just as easily have been captured. While he desperately wanted to go after her to make sure that she hadn’t been hurt or killed, he knew that he had to give her a chance if she was indeed staying undercover. He let out a frustrated groan and kicked a pillow that had fallen off of the sofa.
At the sound of her voice, Draco spun around to face her, relief flooding his features. In three long strides, he had crossed the room. His blonde hair looked as if he had been running his fingers through it constantly. “What were you thinking?!” he groaned, his arms going around her body almost of their own accord as he pulled her close for a fierce kiss.
Hermione kissed him back just as fiercely, happy that he was okay. He smelled and tasted of Firewhiskey. She pushed him away gently after a few moments, all too aware of Gary’s flabbergasted expression.
Draco didn’t blush as he followed Hermione’s gaze to the very-surprised Gary Saunders. “So,” he said smoothly to Hermione, ignoring the young man completely. “What happened?”
Before Hermione answered Draco’s question, she looked at Gary. “Are you all right?” she asked him softly. Embarrassment aside, she was thrilled to see her friend. She bent down and hugged him tightly, relieved beyond belief that he was safe and alive and that Draco had done the right thing.
“I’m fine,” Gary replied happily, setting his plate down on the side table next to him in order to hug her back. “But I want to hear what you found out! I’m not going back to the Ministry; I’m going to work with you until we can catch the curse-maker and clear your name,” he said stubbornly.
“No, you’re not,” Draco hissed. “But we’ll send you back later.” There was a strange expression that Hermione couldn’t quite define in his eyes as he watched Gary hug her. Was it jealousy? Draco wrapped an arm around Hermione, bringing her closer to him and farther away from Gary. “How did you manage to keep your cover?—and I assume that you did because you’re still breathing.”
Hermione stepped away from Draco and sat down on the leather sofa opposite Gary. “After you two escaped, I managed to placate them by…” She trailed off, looking sheepish.
“By…?” Draco prodded, sitting down on the same sofa as her but on the extreme other end; he was a tiny bit embarrassed by his display of affection for Hermione. Not that he was ashamed of it, but he wasn’t quite sure how she felt about him yet and he didn’t want to rush things by seeming eager—not that he was eager, damn it!
Hermione wondered why he sat so far from her, but she pushed it aside and answered resignedly. “By telling all of their clients that the next auction’s curses would be demonstrated on you. So…Lorelei and August are pretty keen on capturing you at the moment.” She expected Draco to be furious with her for putting him in more danger than he was already in, but instead, she watched as a slow smirk slowly spread across his face.
“I bet that worked remarkably well,” he said approvingly, his smirk turning into a full-blown grin. “That was brilliant.”
Hermione flushed red; it was the first time she could remember that Draco had complimented her. “They actually cheered,” she said, smiling a bit at the memory. “What terrible people.”
Draco stood and went to the kitchen, where he began rummaging through cabinets. “Did you find anything out about Maximilian?” he called, coughing as he inhaled dust that had collected in the cabinet he was searching through.
Hermione started, remembering the little boy she had found. “Lorelei has a son named Maximilian,” she said, watching Gary’s eyes bug out in surprise.
“That horrible bitch is a mother?!” he spat disbelievingly.
“Aha!” Draco crowed, emerging from behind the cabinets with a dusty bottle of Firewhiskey. “Knew there had to be more here somewhere.”
“Did you hear what I said?” Hermione asked, irritated.
“What?” Draco replied, pouring a healthy amount into a glass.
“Lorelei has a two-year-old son named Maximilian locked in that hideout,” she repeated as Draco took a sip.
Draco’s reaction was extreme and immediate. He choked on his alcohol and it burned its way slowly down his throat and esophagus. He bent over double, his hands on his knees as he choked and spluttered.
“Draco! Are you okay?!” Hermione asked, rushing to his side.
Draco finally stopped coughing and rose back up to his full height.
Hermione backed away warily, fearing the worst. She remembered how he had all but admitted that he had “dated” Lorelei at one point. She took in the sight of Draco Malfoy looking absolutely shell-shocked as he shakily replaced his glass on the counter. “Are—are you the father?” she whispered hesitantly, hoping with all of her heart that it wasn’t true. But it was the only explanation she could think of for his reaction.
Some color returned to his face and he let out a shaky chuckle. “Of course not,” he said wryly, walking back to the living room to sit down on the sofa. Hermione followed, sitting beside him.
Gary remained where he’d been sitting, open-mouthed as he watched Hermione and Draco interestedly to see what would unfold between them. The only time he had seen them together was at the charity ball, and they had been fighting like cats and dogs then.
Draco opened his mouth to speak to Hermione, but he stopped and looked towards Gary. “I’ll tell you more later,” he said disdainfully. “Once the boy has gone to bed.” More color had returned to his face as he found someone to make fun of.
As he predicted, Gary flushed red and replied heatedly, “Listen, Malfoy, I’m only a year younger than you!”
“And it shows,” Draco retorted with a derisive laugh. “If I have to come rescue you from a bunch of ‘bad guys,’ then you’re a boy. Real Aurors should be able to handle themselves without the help of a mere bounty hunter.” Draco smirked, loving his perfect cover as a bounty hunter.
Gary looked as though he might cry at Draco’s harsh words. Hermione could tell that he was exhausted from his days of captivity. She also suspected that Draco’s cruelty was coming from a vain attempt to detract attention from his earlier nervousness about her safety. For both Draco’s sake and Gary’s, she wanted to get Gary to go to sleep.
“Is there somewhere here that he can sleep tonight?” she asked Draco, sending daggers at him with her eyes should he attempt to make fun of her fragile friend again.
Draco sighed. “He can sleep in the back bedroom,” he replied, yawning and relaxing back into the sofa as if he didn’t much care where Gary went. “But he’s going back to the Ministry tomorrow,” he added, unable to resist one last jab at the young man.
Gary started to argue, but Hermione cut in with, “We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” She rose, giving Malfoy a dirty look.
“Down the hallway, turn left, last door on the left,” Draco called behind her, smirking.
Hermione walked Gary towards the bedroom. “I’m serious, Hermione,” Gary said as they turned the corner. “I’m going to help you. It’s not fair that you’re wanted for arrest all because you tried to help this guy. How is he even worth it, anyway?”
“It’s complicated,” Hermione answered, sighing. “But you can stay and help us. You’re an Auror just as much as I am. More now, actually...”
They reached the door that Draco had described and Gary went inside. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Sorry I’m so tired,” he muttered, looking down at the floor.
“Get to bed,” Hermione said, giving a small laugh. “After being imprisoned for days, I completely understand. Good night, Gary.”
Hermione walked back out to the living room, rubbing her forehead wearily. She found Draco standing at the kitchen counter, finishing the rest of his glass of Firewhiskey and pouring himself another. “What is wrong with you?!” she asked him softly but angrily, keeping her voice down so that she didn’t disturb Gary.
Draco looked up, a bemused smirk on his face. “In case you hadn’t noticed, he’s just as suicidal as you are when it comes to sinking your teeth into things and refusing to let go,” he replied. “He’s more of a liability than anything else.”
“That doesn’t mean you should antagonize him right after he’s been through a terrible ordeal,” Hermione said, snatching his glass from him and draining the contents in one long gulp. She swallowed the Firewhiskey without wincing.
Draco raised an eyebrow at her, impressed, but merely poured another glass. “You could have been killed,” he said as he stepped forward so that he was next to her. They were so close that Hermione could smell the Firewhiskey on his breath as well as the scent of his expensive cologne. She wondered how much he had drank thus far. “Don’t take risks like you did earlier again, and I’ll leave the brat alone,” he replied, taking another gulp of Firewhiskey.
“I didn’t take any more of a risk than I usually do as an Auror,” Hermione pointed out. “It’s the job. Let’s go sit down.”
Draco followed her absentmindedly to the sofa, still sipping his drink. Once they were both sitting on the sofa, Hermione waited for Draco to speak. When he said nothing, she went first. “You really need to put down the alcohol,” she said, firmly taking the glass from his hand. Merlin only knew how much he’d drank already. Draco sighed but allowed her to put the glass on the coffee table.
He leaned his head back against the pillows on the couch, eyes half-closed as he enjoyed the euphoric feeling of the alcohol running through his veins.
“Well?” she finally said impatiently when Draco made no movement to speak.
“Yes?” He was absolutely infuriating.
“You were going to tell me why you were so shocked that Lorelei has a son!”
He sat up and said slowly, “Lorelei and I were involved with each other about a year ago. She never said anything about having a child.” The buzz that the Firewhiskey had given him made it much easier for him to spit it the next part out. “We spent several weekends together—entire weekends, and she didn’t leave once. Where was the child then?”
Hermione told Draco everything that she had seen, including how tender and gentle Lorelei had seemed with the child. “This is just not making any sense,” she said once she had finished, sighing. “Nothing about Lorelei screams ‘mother,’ yet she treated the boy as gently and lovingly as I’ve ever seen. And how does he fit in with the curse maker. Surely a two-year-old isn’t the one making these horrible curses...” She shook her head in exasperation. “I have to go back there.”
“Under what pretense? Auction girls are only needed the day of the event,” Draco said. “Now that I blew my cover, you can’t afford to be risky with yours,” he said bitterly. Though he had done the right thing, it didn’t sit well with him that he was now rendered helpless against Lorelei’s gang.
Hermione slid a foot or two closer to him and rested her hand tentatively on his shoulder. “I’m so glad that you saved Gary,” she said softly.
Draco’s face softened just a little. He looked as if he was about to kiss her, but stopped suddenly, a look of realization coming onto his face. “I know how you’re going to go back to Lorelei’s hideout,” he said, facing her with an evil smirk.
“How?” she asked slowly, already fearing the answer by his expression.
“You’re going to give them me.”
“No!” Hermione said, horrified. “I’m absolutely not!”
“You don’t have a choice. It’ll give you a chance to find out more about the kid,” Draco stated. He had what Hermione considered to be an unreasonably enthusiastic look on his face.
“What if they kill you?!”
“Do you really think they could kill me?” he said arrogantly.
“You’re human, aren’t you?” Hermione growled.
“Closer to a god, actually.”
“Draco, I’m not taking you to them. I refuse.”
“If you think I won’t Imperius you to do it, then you’re in for a surprise.” Draco smirked.
“Try it, Malfoy.”
The glare between the two of them was deadly. Hermione glared at Draco, afraid for his safety and angry to no end by his threat to use an Unforgivable Curse on her. Draco glared at Hermione, afraid for her safety and angry at her unwillingness to put him in danger. Sparks danced between their eyes as they glowered at each other, each refusing to give in to the other.
To Hermione’s surprise, Malfoy was the first to give in and break their heated glare. Unfortunately, it was only to reach slowly and deliberately next to him and pick up his glass of Firewhiskey. Staring at her challengingly over the top of the glass, he took a long sip.
That was it for Hermione. She tackled him. She hurled her smaller body on top of him, knocking his drink from his hand. It fell with a soft thud, spilling its contents on the creamy eggshell-colored carpet. “Goddamn it, Hermione!” he growled, grabbing his wand to clean up the mess before it stained his carpet.
Hermione was on top of him, reaching for his wand and grabbing it away before he could cast the spell. “You’re a fucking drunk!” she hissed, her entire body on top of his, her face inches away from his. Her breath blew cool on Draco’s flushed face.
“You’re a hypocritical fool,” he replied just as furiously. He took control of their position and grabbed Hermione’s forearms, swiftly turning their bodies so that she lay on her back on the sofa with him on top of her. “Or do you not recall the night you attempted to seduce me in my manor? You were so plastered you barely knew your own name.”
Hermione blushed furiously at the memory of that night and struggled in his grip. “I fucking hate you,” she snarled, embarrassed, trying to get her hands free.
“The hell you do,” Draco replied, lowering his mouth to hers.
The moment their lips touched, Hermione’s struggles ceased. Draco sensed this and loosened his grip on her arms. Hermione slid her arms around Draco’s neck, clinging to him their tongues danced. In a smooth movement, Draco slid a strong arm around her waist and pulled her into his lap, leaning back against the sofa as Hermione straddled him. On top now, Hermione kissed him fiercely, taking control as she put a hand at the back of his head and pulled him closer to her. Draco grabbed either side of her hips with his hands and held her as close to his body as he could.
Their heated anger slowly turned into passion. Surprising herself with her own initiative, Hermione skimmed her hands down Draco’s chest to his shirt, untucking it from the waistband of his pants. Draco eagerly let go of her waist just long enough to wrench his shirt over his head and toss it behind him. He lowered his head to her shoulder, exposed by the neckline of the revealing dress that she was still wearing. His tongue slowly moved along her shoulder blade and lower, to the slight bit of cleavage revealed by the tight dress. Hermione’s head fell back as she slowly exhaled with a shudder. Draco’s hands moved lightly along her back to the ribbons held the back of her dress together.
“Wait!” Hermione gasped, her breath coming in short pants.
“Yes?” Draco’s voice murmured as he pressed kisses along the tops of her breasts and moved slowly up her neck.
“Gary’s in the other room,” she reminded him, a delighted moan escaping her lips as Draco lightly nipped at her throat.
“Then let’s go.” Showing off his strength, Draco scooped Hermione up in his arms and pulled her legs around his waist as he carried her through the apartment, his lips locking onto hers. He kicked the door to his bedroom open and then kicked it shut after they walked through.
Finally breaking their kiss, he dropped Hermione on the bed and pounced on top of her. “Get this off,” he growled, pulling her against him as he untied her dress in the back. Hermione shivered as the air conditioning hit her bare body while she helped Draco pull her dress off. “I like you in that dress much better than I like Brooke in it,” Draco murmured, his breath warm in her ear.
Clad only in her bra and panties, Hermione writhed beneath Draco as he ran his hands along her body. Shyness threatened to overcome her, but Draco’s warm body covered hers with his as they resumed their fervent kissing. Draco’s hands caressed her curves in his experienced hands, knowing exactly what to do to get her moaning beneath him. Being so close to her was doing funny things to his brain. Just a few years previous, he would have been disgusted to even think of touching her as he was currently doing. Now, he was lost in her, his breathing out of control and heavy as his need for her grew. He found himself showing incredible patience as he waited for her to make the next move. She was close, he knew, as her hands tightened on his shoulders and her movements became more urgent against him.
When Hermione reached for the waistband of his pants, he halted her briefly. “Are you sure?” he asked softly, kissing her neck slowly and gently.
“Yes,” she said breathily, her mind fogged by passion. She could think of no time and person that she would rather her first time be with. Draco had awakened feelings in her that she had thought would never be awakened again once Ron died.
Draco held her close to him as their bodies slowly fit together. She felt so right beneath him that it nearly took his breath away. A rush of alien feelings flooded through him, powerful and breathtaking. What was happening to him?
They both collapsed on the bed once it was finished, breathing heavily.
Hermione rested her head on Draco’s chest, feeling his pulse race madly. Her entire body felt drained of energy, yet strangely euphoric. It was incredible. Her eyes began to slowly close as the exhaustion from both their previous “activities” and the stress of the auction kicked in.
Next to her, comfortable and sleepy, Draco’s eyes began to close as well. They were both nearly asleep when a loud crack an earsplitting crash ripped through the room.
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