Chapter 8 : La Masquerade Pt. II
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Hermione stood, frozen against Harry’s warm lips. He tasted like bad punch and alcohol, but he was definitely kissing her as if he were sober. She felt warm all over, sitting there with him against her. The air was right, she looked great in her gown, and they could have all night to spend together.
But the warmth she felt was wrong.
Just as she felt Harry begin to deepen the kiss, she broke away abruptly, tears in her eyes.
Harry looked at her, confused and muddled by the whiskey. “Whas wrong?” He stammered.
“I… I can’t Harry. This can’t happen, not now, not ever.”
“No, Harry. No.” She felt the tears in her eyes, but she pushed them back. “Now, you, you just go back to…. Wherever.” And with that, she fled the scene, ignoring his drunken calls for her to stay.
The ball was still swimming with people, even with only little more than an hour left. By now, it was almost two in the morning. Colors rushed before her eyes as she ran frantically through the crowd, looking for Draco. Wanting to hear the sound of his voice to erase what had just happened. Although, after what had taken place, she may not hear his voice the same way again.
She came to the realization, that she’d just cheated on her boyfriend.
No, she didn’t kiss Harry first, nor had she wanted to; but she did, let him kiss her…. And for more than a mere second.
As far as she was concerned, she was guilty too.
She stumbled after minutes of wandering, and tried to control her breathing. Her head was spinning, and tears threatened to stain her face, but she kept a stiff upper lip; Hoping that Draco was watching her from somewhere.
Ron watched coolly as Draco stepped out from his hiding place behind the trees. A sneer graced his face, as he saw him maneuver through the crowd to get to Hermione. He prided himself on the fact that he’d been the only one so far to see through Draco’s ruse, because if he hadn’t, then plans would be falling through right now.
Hermione looked horrible, standing awkwardly in the crowd of people. He felt bad, seeing her right then, but he knew she’d thank him for everything eventually.
He smiled slightly when he saw Draco walking towards her.
He shook his head, clearing out thoughts of her, and went to bring Harry back to the party.
Hermione stood in the middle of the dance floor during a song break, looking for signs of Draco. Her head was spinning and pounding, she felt like fainting. Harry had kissed her, she knew that much. She just couldn’t figure out who’s fault it was, because; she’d let him.
The more she thought it over, the more upset she felt. Draco had trust issues, and she’d just begun to see his walls breaking down, but her kiss may have just destroyed everything; she couldn’t say.
Just as tears began to spill over, she felt a pair of arms encircle her waist.
“What’s the matter?” Came a gentle whisper, Draco’s. Hermione fought to hold back sobs, because his voice brought on more sadness.
“Draco, something’s happened.” She said, hearing her voice break.
Draco didn’t respond, just spun her to face him and began to move in a dance as more music started.
“I really don’t feel like dancing.”
“You’ll feel better.” He responded, spinning her under his arm. The music they were dancing to, was slow and sad; not helping the air currently hanging over them. “Now, tell me what’s wrong.”
Hermione swallowed, gathering her wits. “You have to promise, that you won’t overreact.”
“You know that I of all people can’t promise you that.” Draco said, chuckling. Then, he saw Hermione hang her head, and became worried. “Why? Is it that horrible?
She shook her head, feeling dizzier and having no idea what to say.
“Hermione.” Draco said urgently, stopping their motion. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“The only thing wrong here, is that I should be where you’re standing.” Came someone from behind them.
Draco turned with an angry expression, but Hermione had already seen who it was and was feeling the blood run from her veins. Harry hadn’t gone back to the common room, he was right there in front of Draco.
“Harry, please don’t…” She whispered.
“Harry Potter.” Draco drawled, putting Hermione behind his body. “Do what do I owe the honor?”
“Oh shut up! What are you doing with her?” He demanded, stepping slightly closer.
Draco and Harry were facing each other now, and everyone around was tuning in to watch the show.
“We’re dancing. This is a ball if you haven’t noticed.”
“She came here, with me.”
“And she’s within her rights to leave here with someone else!” Draco yelled. “You don’t own her!”
“Neither do you!”
“At least I don’t act like it! Look at you, keeping tabs on her like an over- protective parent! No wonder she had to sneak around you so much!”
“Draco!” Hermione said sharply, he ignored her.
“What are you talking about!? We’re best friends.”
“Clearly not, If she’s picking me over you!”
“What says she does?! She just met you tonight!”
“If you knew her, you’d know that we’ve been together over a month now.”
“What?” Harry yelled, red from the whiskey and from anger. “That’s a lie! Hermione, what are you doing with this guy?”
“It’s nothing but the truth Potter.”
“Really? Then why did I just snog her not even a moment ago? She wouldn’t do that if she had a boyfriend.”
Draco froze, turning slowly to Hermione and staring coolly into her eyes. “Is that what you wanted to tell me? You kissed someone else?”
Hermione nodded slowly, wanting to explain. “It, was… an accident. He was drunk and I…”
“Accident? You can’t kiss someone by accident Hermione!”
“You kissed me Harry Potter!” She called to him from behind Draco.
“You let me!”
“You’re dead Potter! You think you can just go around kissing people’s girlfriends?”
“You’re not her boyfriend!”
“Whoa, whoa; Harry, Hermione what’s going on?” Ron said, walking in-between the two boys.
“This guy says he’s her boyfriend, and he’s upset I kissed her.” Harry responded, not taking his eyes off Draco.
Ron looked at Draco. “It’s you.” He said, sighing. “Good disguise mate, but you weren’t very good at covering your tracks.”
“What the hell are you talking about Weasley?” Draco exclaimed.
“What are you talking about Ron?” Harry asked.
“This isn’t who you think it is; just some nameless face. It’s someone we all know!” Ron said, addressing everyone now.
Hermione’s blood went cold. “Ron!” She said to him, knowing what he was about to do. “You wouldn’t.”
“I will Hermione! He’s going to hurt you eventually! I know it!”
“Don’t say another word Weasley.” Draco warned. “You’ll regret it.”
“I’m protecting her!”
“By doing what Ron? You’re hurting me!”
“You just can’t see what’s waiting for you in the long run! You know who is father is! He’s an exact copy!”
“Who are you?” Harry wondered, anger drained from his voice.
“This man,” Ron called out again. “Is Draco Malfoy.”
Everyone was quiet. Nobody moved, and even the music had stopped playing. Hermione felt her pulse slow, and she knew that everything was over now.
“I don’t believe it.” Harry whispered.
“It’s true Harry.” Ron said, coming back to them. “They shared a room during the Underground. I think he put a charm on her.”
“Ron; are you critically insane?” Hermione yelled. “You think I’m brainwashed?!”
“There’s no other explanation.”
“You have a lot of nerve you, pigheaded, idiotic…” And then, Hermione made a grave mistake; stepping out from Draco’s protection. Because when she did, Padma came from her hiding place, and was able to untie Draco’s mask.
A collective shudder echoed around the room as she held it in her fingers, going to stand next to Ron.
“There’s your proof everyone!” She called, smiling. “Hermione’s been lying to you all.”
Harry looked at them both in utter shock, then locked eyes with Hermione, filled with pain. She felt tears well up in her eyes, and she moved to Draco for comfort, but as soon as she did; he ran.
There was silence still in the ballroom, no one moved for a long time. Hermione looked around, people were starting to whisper to each other. She heard her name come up more than once, then Draco’s and Harry’s; She needed to get away as soon as possible.
“Hermione?” Came a voice. When she turned, she saw Ginny; looking awestruck and sad.
“Ginny, how long have you…?”
“Long enough. I heard everything. So, this, is what you’ve been hiding from me? Draco’s the boy, hm?”
Hermione shook her head. “Gin, you don’t understand…”
“I think I do. You have no loyalty, and you didn’t trust me enough to tell me what was going on. I, I almost can’t believe it.” Ginny hung her head for a moment, then walked back to where Dean was waiting for her.
“Wait, Ginny!” Hermione called, but Ginny increased her speed.
People were still staring, and Hermione decided that now was the time to escape. Retying her mask around her face, she began to move toward the door.
As she walked, she swore the whispers grew louder in her ears. More and more tears threatened to spill from her eyes as she thought about the hellacious night to come. She didn’t even know where she was going, but she just had to get out of there.
At the grand doors to the ballroom, Harry stood, glowering. She stopped in front of him and met his eyes. They were bloodshot and streaked with what looked like tears, she didn’t know. She’d never seen him this torn, this broken. Not in a while at least. She tried to make his name come off of her lips, but stopped when he turned away from her, shaking his head as he went.
Hermione walked briskly, almost at a run, trying to think of some safe haven for the night. She felt as if someone had kicked her feet out from beneath her, and she was falling fast. Ron had given her something to be angry about at least. She was strangely thankful, because the emotion, when directed at him, was familiar; versus the guilt she felt for Draco and Harry now. She’d done them both wrong in different ways.
As she walked down some stairs, she wondered if Draco would ever trust her again; ever look at her the same way. She’d seen him be forgiving once before, but now….
Hermione shook her head, trying to organize her thoughts, but it was too hard. She’d always been very composed, but tonight was her breaking point.
Her gorgeous dress hung around her body like lead. Heavy, and dense. Her feet were tired from all the dancing and almost running. She knew she needed somewhere to sleep, because the common room was not an option. So, she headed for the first place that sprang to her thoughts. The prefects common room.
The door opened with a creaking noise, and Hermione stepped in lightly. Crossing the threshold softly in her dainty ballet flats. The fire was unlit, so she assumed the room was empty. Taking comfort in this, she let herself dissolve into tears. Let her heart break as she dragged herself to the nearest couch and sank into a pillow. She sobbed and wailed for Ginny, for Harry, for Draco, and for herself. Out of spite for herself, because this was all her fault. If only she hadn’t made the ball such a big goddamn deal.
It must’ve been minutes later, but she heard a voice behind her.
“Sadness becomes you Granger,”
Hermione whipped her head from the pillow, and stared in the direction of the sound. “Draco?” She asked raggedly.
He was sitting on the loveseat across from the couch. She’d walked right by him when she came into the room. He was still in his dress robes, looking like a model. The moonlight shone around his hair and face, highlighting his bone structure. He twirled his mask around his fingers.
He went on as if she hadn’t spoken. “It’s different, to see you so vulnerable. It makes you look…. Softer in a way. Like a person looks younger when they’re sleeping. And your cheeks are rosier.”
Hermione gave a humorless laugh. “That’s smeared makeup for you.”
Draco smirked. “You still look nice.”
She closed her eyes, bracing herself for whatever was lying under Draco’s current emotion. For the statement she’d been dreading.
After a moment, she felt his eyes on her. “What are you doing?”
“I, I’m waiting.”
“For you to say it.”
“That, that we can’t be together. That we’re breaking up.”
There was silence for a while. Hermione could hear Draco breathing from his seat.
“Why do you think I would say that?” He asked softly, standing and walking to her.
Hermione felt tears again, and tried to ignore them.
“Because, because we’re exposed Draco! In a matter of hours every resident of this castle will know that you and I are together! And the rumors! Can you imagine what they’ll say about us? Ron already believes that you brainwashed me, Merlin knows what he’ll tell everyone else! Padma spreads gossip like fire! We’ll be hated, and scorned….” She looked into his eyes, they were blazing with passion. She had a feeling he wanted to say something.
“And what?” he pressed in a calm voice.
“And I kissed Harry.”
“Harry kissed you. And that is the only one of those things I care about in the slightest Hermione Granger.” He wiped her tears away with his thumb. “You’ve got all the rest of my attention.”
Hermione shook her head, not understanding. “But, Draco…”
“But nothing. I don’t care about Potter, I don’t care about Padma, or any of the people here or what they have to say about us. Screw them. I want you and I to stay together.”
“Draco, I think we…”
“Shhh…” He silenced her. “We don’t have to talk about it now. Let’s just go to sleep. It’s nearly four in the morning.”
Hermione nodded, and stood. While Draco got some blankets from a closet and lit the fire, she stripped down to her slip and took the flowers from her hair. Draco enlarged the couch to fit the both of them better, then took off his suit until he was in an undershirt and boxers.
They laid together, Hermione wrapped in Draco’s arms, and fell asleep in silence. Enjoying a tender moment, in all its bitter sweetness.
A/N: Hello Darlings! This concludes the Ball chapters! I really hoped you liked them! I'm sosososososo sorry about my super long hiatus :( I was sick fo a while, then became super busy right after I got better, so writing had to take the backseat. I should be getting into a better rhythm of updating again, so please don't abandon me! Anyway, I can't reveal any bits about further chapters just yet, but expect something in the next A/N. Thanks for reading, and please Review!!!
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