Chapter 23 : Victory
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“You’re never late for anything, I swear.” Draco said with a small laugh. Hermione didn’t reply. Her face was rather blank as a matter of fact, but he didn’t notice. He had held the door open for her and inadvertently hid himself behind it. Once he was sure that she had gone inside, Draco came in and saw how she was mesmerized by what the room looked like.
“You thought hard for this.” Hermione said after a few minutes. Draco nodded and stood close to her. It resembled a flat. They were currently standing in a living room with a kitchen off to the side and a hallway a little further down. Presumably, that was where the bedroom was…
“Thought it would be a bit better than just a bed,” He said, and Hermione turned to him with so much hatred in her eyes that Draco was taken aback. He hadn’t realized it at first, but she was angry; beyond angry really, and it was truly frightening.
“Why, what..?” Draco asked. She motioned to everything around her and crossed her arms.
“Why the flat? Why do we need it? Why do you even want it? We both know all you want is the bed.”
“Hermione, what are you talking about? What’s gotten into you-?”
A sound resonated in the room, and Draco held a hand up to his cheek. Hermione had just slapped him with all of her might so that some of her hair had flown into her face. She removed it as he removed his hand to reveal a very red mark.
“Don’t you dare! You have no right, absolutely none, to say name!” Hermione shouted at him. “I’m going to ask you one thing, and if I’m wrong, I’m sorry, and I’ll make it up to you. But if I’m not, Merlin so help me, I’ll sick Harry and Ron on you myself.” She took a deep breath and stared him down. “Is it true? Like almost every girl here, was I just another notch on our belt of sexual legacy?”
Draco swallowed hard and he was sure that she had heard it. He moved his mouth to speak but found no words. He took a few shallow breaths before saying, “W-where did you hear that from?”
“It doesn’t matter where I heard it. Why aren’t you denying it? Malfoy,”
He flinched at the sound of his last name, which for the past day and a half hadn’t passed her lips. Draco should’ve denied it. He wanted to deny it, but he knew that it wouldn’t have mattered. Hermione wasn’t stupid, and could read people like she read books. Even if he had told her no, she wouldn’t have believed him. And so, Draco stared into her eyes with such longing and guilt that when she groaned out loud full of anger and frustration that it hurt more than the slap that she had delivered to him only a moment ago.
“I knew it!” Hermione accused. “I knew it! When you started being civil with me, I knew that there was some ulterior motive! I couldn’t figure out what you were planning and I stupidly let my guard down! I wish I hadn’t. I wish with all my heart that I hadn’t.”
In an instant Draco had become dizzy. Hermione was crying now, but unlike any girl he had ever seen cry (or had made to cry) there were no sobbing noises. It would’ve been easier if she had been hysterical, but all she did was shake with absolute fury. Draco had to do something. He had to say something.
“I said don’t use my name!”
“…Granger,” Draco said at her request. “You don’t understand.”
“Make me then.”
“Of course you can’t.” Hermione snapped. “If there’s one thing that I thank Parkinson for is reminding me what an arse you are.”
Draco looked up in a flash. Before he could question Hermione’s last statement, she had gone. He didn’t even realize that all the while that they had been talking the Room of Requirement had transformed into a rusty old dungeon. It didn’t matter though. Nothing mattered. At least now he knew who to blame for ruining his only chance with Hermione, and his current hope now was that he could get away with murder.
“PANSY..!” Draco shouted once he had spotted her. She was as he had left her, on one of the sofas in the common room. She sat up bemused by his sudden outburst and stood.
“Draco, what a lovely surprise,” She said with a large smile as she crossed the room to him, but he was in no mood for any of her games. Not after she had just messed everything up. Draco ignored her fake smile, grabbed her by the shoulders and roughly slammed her against the wall.
“Merlin, Draco! What are you playing at?”
“I should be asking you that question.” He snarled at her.
“Oh, whatever do you mean?” Pansy had asked in an ignorant girlish voice, but Draco had had enough. He applied such tight and heavy pressure to the grip on her shoulders that she winced.
“Stop screwing around… You told her!”
“...Well, of course I told her.” She defended angrily. “You think that I could’ve honestly sat back and let her have you? Not bloody likely,”
“So you ruined it?” Draco said as he dug his fingers into her shoulders. Pansy was audibly moaning now and he let her go, completely fed up with her. “I’ve never met a bitch worse than you.”
“And I own up to it. You can’t blame me for fighting for what’s mine.”
“Despite what you think, I’m not your bloody property. Never have been, never will.”
“That’s fine.” Pansy said haughtily. She went into the inside of her robes and pulled out Draco’s journal. She waved it in front of his face and tossed it to him. “I’m in the bloody middle of that stupid journal of yours. After all that I’ve given you?” She huffed and began to smile. “Despite what you think, I’ll get over not having you. Especially with the thought that Granger will never take you back,”
Draco was breathing through his nose furiously. He could’ve done it. He could’ve strangled Pansy right where she stood, and then where would he be? On his way to Azkaban surely and there’d be no way in hell that he could get to Hermione from there. But Pansy’s time would come. When it came to people like her, their time always came.
Fantasizing about Pansy’s sudden death had driven Draco to flee the common room and into the darkened corridors. He was finished with her. He’d refuse to talk to her from that moment on. She had done some foul things in her day, but messing with his love life, a fragile thing to begin with and even more so with Hermione in it, had tipped things so far over that it was unimaginable.
What was he going to do now? Hermione surely would never talk to him again. It would serve him right. She had been a game to him; a cruel and sick game. No matter what he said now would make her believe that he had begun to care about her and that it wasn’t a game anymore. Until very recently, everything that had come out of his mouth had been a lie.
“I’m a bloody liar.” Draco groaned to himself. The only solid bit of truth to him was in his hands. His journal was absolute truth. And as he stared at the horrible thing that he was holding, it came to him.
The only thing that Hermione will believe is this…
From where he was, Draco ran. He ran nonstop to the Owlery, took some parchment, a quill, and some ink, and picked a designated spot to write. He wouldn’t have to say much, and he didn’t. He hesitantly wrote, causing his letters to be severely crooked due to the shaking of his hand. He said that the letter wasn’t an apology. He said that it was an explanation and probably the only explanation that she would believe. He told her that what he had sent her was his journal, something that he had prized since the glorious idea of women as a conquest had come to him. He told her that everything was in it; all of the girls who had, as she had put it, been placed on his belt of sexual legacy.
I’m sorry, but you’re in it… Draco finished, and quickly tied it to his journal and gave it to the strongest looking owl to carry.
“Take this to Hermione,” He said to the owl. It hooted and Draco watched it fly off. He hoped that she would read it that night. He hoped that it would do the trick. But he had a feeling in his heart that things weren’t going to be that easy…
In the morning Draco wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t anything really except tired. He suddenly realized that he hadn’t slept in a full forty-eight hours –the first night having been with Hermione, and the second having been up all night because he had been hoping that she would write to him. Nothing came. He had stared at the window for the entire night, getting excited at seeing a shadow in the distance, thinking that it was an owl for him, but finding out that it was just his imagination.
“You need sleep, mate.” Blaise had told him. But Draco said firmly that he wasn’t sleeping. He knew that his best friend was worried. Hell, he was worried about himself too, but no, he had lived up to what he said, and was regretting it terribly now. Draco was dreadfully tired, but he considered what was happening to him as punishment for what he was putting Hermione through.
Currently Draco was standing outside of the Great Hall. He had been waiting there five minutes before breakfast was to start. He wanted to see Hermione when she came. He had to make her talk to him. He had to find out if the bloody owl had gotten to her and if she had read what he had sent to her. But Hermione never showed up. Draco stood outside of the doors for a full hour and a half, peering at the faces of several students, none of them being hers. He did see Pansy however, who gently walked passed him, pretending not to notice him, and he did the same. When breakfast was over, Blaise, who had been inside, came back out and stood in front of Draco, shaking his head at him.
“Are you planning on standing out here all day?”
“If I have to,”
“I said it last night, and I’m going to say it again. You need to sleep.” Blaise encouraged him. “At least for an hour..? You don’t want Granger getting a glimpse of you looking like a horrid mess, do you?”
Draco looked down at himself and gave a grim chuckle. Yes, he did look a bit bad. Reluctantly, he agreed, and said that he would. “Just for an hour,” he emphasized, and Blaise watched him head down the corridor, looking a bit like a madman. He would continue to be this way until Granger at the very least talked to him.
“But knowing her, she won’t.” Blaise said to himself and then knew exactly what he had to do. He called for Peeves, and asked him if he had seen Granger at any time that morning. The ghost, the waterfall of information that he was, told him yes, and that he had not long ago spotted her making her way down to the library. Blaise thanked him and took off at a sprint. He soon found himself inside of the library, scanning the almost empty place for her. He found her quickly, and walked up to her table.
Granger obviously had the feeling that someone was standing near to her, but, probably assuming that it was Draco, decided not to look up. Blaise cleared his throat, and she glanced at him, fully taking in his appearance since she had definitely not expected him to be in front of her.
“Come to gloat, have you?” She said testily. Blaise suppressed a small smirk. That was obviously one of the characteristics Draco liked about her. “Get on with it then. I have a lot of studying to do.”
“I’m not here to gloat about anything.”
“Really..? Humph… What do you want then?”
“…Draco’s a mess.”
“Serves him right,” Hermione said hotly. “Let him suffer. Let him rot. He could go straight to hell for all I care.”
Damn, she’s tough as hell… Blaise contemplated and then went on before the girl before him decided to curse him for disturbing her. “He sent you something last night. You should read it.”
“What for..? I don’t want anything to do with him.”
“But he wants something to do with you.” He countered. “Look, I know you’re pissed. You’ve got every right. And I know that this started out as a game-”
“A game where he was talking to you and Parkinson and probably the whole Slytherin House about what he was planning on doing to me,” She scoffed angrily. She sighed and sniffed, probably to fight back tears that she refused to let fall. “I’ll never get over this. And I won’t forgive him.”
“I think you will.” Blaise told her reassuringly. “You just have to read what he gave you. Draco’s an arse. We all know that. He lies like hell; we know that too. But that journal is nothing but the truth. Just read it.”
“…Why do you care so badly? This has absolutely nothing to do with you.”
“Yes, it does. Draco’s my friend; has been for years. I can’t sit back and watch him fall apart like he’s doing right now. Besides, out of all the girls out there, you’re the only one who’s been able to give him a smile and make it stay there.”
With no retort from Granger, Blaise figured that he had made his point. As he turned to leave, he saw her go into her robe’s inner pocket. She pulled out the journal and held it in her hands. It had been with her all the time. She had just needed some prodding to open it.
Draco took the hour rest that Blaise had instructed him to take. It was short, but sweet, and though he still looked and felt awfully tired, it was better than how he had been by at least ten percent. His depressed mood had lifted some, but by no means was it gone. And as he headed into the bathroom to splash water onto his face to bring some sort of life to it, an owl soared into the window that had been open since last night and dropped a letter onto his bed.
Draco dove for it and opened it hungrily. His chest thumped when he saw that it was from Hermione, who told him to meet her outside on the grounds. He headed there immediately, passing students on his left and right who had probably thought that he had gone mad. One could argue that he had, and when he had met the cool afternoon air, Draco slowed to a walk. Hermione was already there, standing by the tree that had become their own. He slowly grew close to her, suddenly becoming nervous, and she held out the journal to him, which he took.
“Did you read it?”
“It was the most revolting thing I’ve ever read.” Hermione replied honestly. She hugged herself and continued. “Name after name and then…me. Your Ultimate Victory,”
“I know, and I’m sorry.” Draco said pleadingly. “This whole thing started in a cruel a way. I admit that. But for me, it didn’t end that way. I said that it was perfect, Hermione, and I never said that about anyone else. I just want you to forgive me. I want you to forget the beginning and just focus on everything else. Please?”
Draco was begging –literally begging. He had never begged anyone for anything before, and he hoped now that Hermione could see that. And as she opened her mouth to speak, there were no amount of words to express the anxiety that he felt.
“I shouldn’t, you know.” She said softly. “No matter how pure your actions became, I should just…leave you to your sorrows for everything that you’ve caused me.”
“And you should. I understand if you-”
“But… Though how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake my mind of you.” Hermione admitted to him. “I read that terrible journal of yours cover to cover twice, and it gave me reason after reason to kick you out of my life for good. But that night…and what you wrote at the end…made me change my mind. I hate myself for it. I hate myself because I’m actually forgiving you.”
Draco jumped at those words and went to hug her, but Hermione immediately shook him off. “Don’t you dare.” She warned. “Just because I said that I forgive you, doesn’t mean you’re out of trouble yet. You’re so far down in a tub of ice that you’re close to freezing to death.” She threatened and then sighed. “Have you anything else to say for yourself?”
“…You’re attractive when you threaten me.” Draco said at a shot at grim humor. At first he thought that he had said the wrong thing, but then saw the corners of her mouth gently twitch, but her great restraint kept her from fully smiling.
“…Smart arse,” Hermione smirked and walked away with him from the grounds, both of them much happier than they had been in the last twelve hours. As they stepped through the castle and deeper into it, they had passed someone sitting in the shadows, who had scowled heavily as they swept by her, too indulged in themselves to notice her or the young man who was leaning against the wall.
“They’re cute, aren’t they?” Blaise said patronizingly.
“Awfully,” Pansy replied sarcastically and turned to him. “I suppose you’ll want to reap the benefits of winning the bet now?”
“I would, if I could stomach shagging second best.”
Pansy cocked a brow at him and huffed. “If I’m second best, who the hell is the first?”
“By the look of Draco’s face, Granger…”
Blaise walked off and left Pansy alone. She grumbled after him and stared down the corridor and peered in the distance at the new and unorthodox couple as they walked hand in hand. She smirked. Whether people would see it as such, a victory had definitely been made. Not Draco over Granger as it should’ve been, but Granger over Draco instead.
Sighing, Pansy sucked her teeth. “This was one hell of a conquest alright.” She muttered underneath her breath, and congratulated Granger on a game well played.
author's note: i honestly have to say that i dont think i've been more proud of anything than this fic. i've gotten such positive reviews, tons of reads and its just...AMAZING. im so happy that i was able to finish this, though im sad that its over. i just want to say thank you for sticking it out with me and its because of YOU that this fic was a huge success.
and now enough with the tears on my end lol. i think i've mentioned to a few of you that i'm going to be posting out a new fic, YEY!!! its called "Saving Sirius" and its completely different than anything ive written because its a time travel fic and im going to be dealing with characters i've NEVER used. so, i'd appreciate it if you'd come check it out and it should be up some time next week :)
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