Chapter 13 : Moments Of Truth
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Chapter 13. Moments Of Truth
«YOU'RE OBVIOUSLY NOT IN LOVE WITH HIM. HE'S JUST AN ESCAPE FOR YOU, A REASON TO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE WIZARDING WORLD. WHY DID YOU AGREE TO MARRY HIM?»
For the second night in a row I awoke with a hoarse, muffled scream and sat upright, sweating.
«Hermione? Are you all right?» Martin came running into our bedroom, toothbrush in his hand and a towel wrapped around his waist.
My breathing was shallow, and I wrapped my arms around my heaving torso.
«What is it?» He went over to me and sat down on the bed. «Did you have a bad dream again?»
I nodded, not able to speak just yet.
«Oh, my dear, it's all right.» He kissed my cheek, and my racing heart calmed down a bit.
I didn't really remember my dream, but I felt in the pit of my stomach that it hadn't been a very good one. I took a deep breath before leaning my head on Martin's shoulder. Sitting like this made me feel safe again, even though I had no idea why I was so scared.
«Feeling better?» he whispered.
«Yeah. Thank you.» I smiled up at him, and he started getting up.
«Hey, wait a second,» I said suggestively and dragged him back down on the bed, pulling him into a deep kiss. The feel of his firm, half-naked body sent tingles through me, and soon I forgot that I'd even had a nightmare at all.
«No wait.» He pulled away from me, tightened his towel around his waist and got to his feet, still holding the toothbrush. «We're not doing this, remember?»
«But you said that I could change my mind if I wanted to!» I protested, getting to my knees. «This was me changing my mind.»
«Hermione, you're not making this easy. You know that I'd gladly...» he trailed off, staring at me with hunger in his eyes, but then he shook his head. «No. We're waiting.» And then he left the room.
«Fine!» I yelled after him and flung my body back on the bed. «But I'm not happy about it!»
I heard Martin chuckling from the bathroom, and I smiled as I got up from the bed and got dressed.
It was time to go back to work.
I hadn't seen him all day.
Why wasn't he here?
Maybe he hated me after I totally abandoned him on Saturday...
No! I didn't abandon him! I had just greeted my fiance as he came back home from work – that's all.
Then why did I feel so bloody guilty?
I tapped my pen on the desk, staring into thin air and cursing at myself for being so rude to Draco that night. I had left him. Right in the middle of the street, without even saying goodbye.
I wouldn't blame him for ditching work today – I would have done the same thing.
Unable to sit still anymore, I got up and paced restlessly back and forth in my tiny office, picking up random things and then putting them back.
«Miss Granger?» My boss, Mr. Lipman, knocked on my door before opening it. «You busy?»
«Ehm, no, not at all!» I don't think I'd even been so happy to see him. Maybe I was finally given a task that would get my mind off Draco – well, at least I could hope.
«Good, good,» he muttered as he entered. «I need you to talk to that Dragon-kid again. He's still not getting these designs right.»
Or maybe not...
«Oh,» was my only response, and after several long seconds I swallowed hard. «Yes. O-Of course I will.»
«Great.» Mr. Lipman handed me a file, then nodded at me before leaving my office.
I sighed before opening the file, looking through Draco's artwork. He really had talent. But they were nothing like what we were looking for. I sighed again. Why did I always have to be the bearer of bad news?
With the file still in hand I peeked my head out of the door, searching the hall for any signs of a light haired man, but there wasn't one. So I left the safety of my office and walked toward the reception, in hope that Draco might have called in sick. I mentally punched myself for thinking such a thing, and walked even more briskly down the hallway.
«Morning, Hermione,» Linda the receptionist greeted, not even looking up from her computer.
«Oh, how are you, dear?» Caroline, the second receptionist smiled at me, and caught the attention of Leyla, the third one.
I smiled back. «I'm fine.» Then I sat down behind the reception's desk, trying not to sigh.
Leyla lowered her glasses, piercing me with her scrutinizing gaze. Of course, I pretended not to notice, and looked in the complete opposite direction. Leyla then poked Caroline with her elbow, and then the two of them were staring at me – but I still ignored them to the best of my ability.
«Oh, my!» Linda suddenly exclaimed. «Ladies, take a look at what just walked in.»
As if watching a tennis match, we all turned our heads at exactly the same moment, finding the entrance at the end of the hall.
Linda almost drooled. «Isn't it Mr. ButtFlex himself, our very own Johnny Depp -»
«Looking especially good today, don't you agree?» Leyla purred.
My breath caught in my throat, and my body froze. It was him.
«Let's just say I wouldn't mind getting a piece of that gorgeous ars-»
«Quiet down, he's coming over!» Caroline hissed at the raving ladies.
«Morning, my beauties.» Draco walked over to the desk where we were sitting, leaning against it, showing off his sparkling smile.
«Morning!» The three of them sang back at him, batting their eyelashes repeatedly. Caroline, not being as bold as the others, blushed fiercely and fiddled with the buttons on her self-knitted cardigan.
Then I suddenly remembered the task I'd gotten from Mr. Lipman, and rushed to my feet.
I was supposed to say something right about now, wasn't I? I had every intention to, but all that came out of my mouth was this very embarrasing squeaky sound. I could literally feel the redness springing to my cheeks as I looked away to collect myself.
«Draco,» my voice shook, «ehm, could I see you in m-my office for a-a minute?» I dared myself to look up, and when I did, I met those eyes, and my heartbeats became even more irregular.
The images of what I'd done the last time I saw him suddenly came flooding back to me, and I shook my head vigorously in an attempt to remove them. But of course they stayed there, glued to my brain, reminding me of all the things I'd said and done that night. I even left Draco in the middle of the street, running away from him as if he'd been Voldemort himself. I had an annoying habit of running away from that man with every chance I got – which was quite often, now that I thought about it.
Damned red wine. I'd never do that in a sober state.
Or so I liked to think.
«Sure.» Draco's voice interrupted my inner rantings, and he turned to smile apologetic to the receptionists. «Please excuse me, ladies. Duty calls.»
Grateful, I turned my heel and briskly walked toward my tiny office, and let out a breath when I was securely inside – away from the prying eyes of the drooling women. When Draco then walked in I instantly regretted exhaling, seeing as now I was struggling to fill my lungs properly.
«All right,» Draco sighed, closing the door behind him. «If this is about last night, I -»
«Your design for the cover of the Brooks-novel won't work,» I interrupted harshly, speaking so fast I could barely understand my own words. I had just made a pact with myself to not speak about the happenings of the other night, and completely refused to even let him finish his sentence.
«What?» he asked, probably not at all understanding my abrupt change of subject.
«I know for a fact that you were at the same meeting as me when Mr. Lipman explained what Mr. Brooks' novel was about. Did you even listen? Because from the sight of these sketches, I doubt that you've read the book yourself.» I was Work-Hermione now, and I quite enjoyed fully understanding what I was talking about for a change.
«Obviously not,» he muttered, «since you hate them so much.»
«It's not that I hate them.» I had to let out a sigh as I noticed how he started fiddling nervously with his sleeve. I didn't like making him unhappy. «It's really not about that. You're a good artist, Draco, but you don't seem to understand what the author wants to say.»
«And you do?»
He just chose the wrong moment to be sassy.
«I would say I do, actually.» I raised my nose in the air a little bit, smugness glinting in my eyes. «As a matter of fact, I helped Marlon Brooks to write most of it.»
«You don't believe me?» I asked fiercely, taking a threatening step toward him. This seemed to amuse him, because he started smiling.
«Maybe,» he answered with a low voice, «maybe not.» His blue eyes were smoldering, reaching into my soul and ripping it apart.
«It's true, you git.» My voice was equally low, and I even scared myself a little bit – well, I would if I were able to concentrate on more than forcing myself to breathe.
«Well,» he stepped closer to me as well, eyes blistering my insides, «I guess you'll have to prove it.» He smiled knowingly. «What is the theme?»
«Scolding, heart-pounding, sizzling passion,» I whispered hoarsely, mad at myself for staring at Draco's full lips. «The all-consuming, wild sexual tension between the two lovers, and the repercussions that follows...» My voice trailed off as I leaned closer to that bewitching man in front of me.
«Fine,» Draco said loudly and stepped back. «I believe you.»
Was he torturing me on purpose? I bet he did.
My body was tingling, and was in complete control of every part of me. I took a slow step toward Draco, something that made him squint at me.
«What are you doing, Brownie?» he asked, unsure of the situation. Maybe he was afraid I was going to throw him out again. I would have laughed at that if my brain hadn't been clouded by what my body was screaming at me.
«I think you know,» I whispered, closing the distance between our two bodies. «And if you don't want me to, I suggest you stop me now.»
Draco simply looked at me, forcing my already pounding heart to dance about within my chest. How he managed it I would never know, and I didn't really care to dwell upon that now that electricity shot through me with this almost comical intensity.
Not being able to take a second more of this excrutiatingly painful tension, I basically jumped at Draco, grabbed his neck and crushed my lips against his. It took Draco a few seconds to react, but he fully made up for those seconds by tightly wrapping his arms around me and feverishly kissing me back. When we (several long moments later) broke apart, the both of us were breathing heavily.
«Holy mother of Hagrid,» Draco panted. «I wouldn't take you for the type who lure men into your office to snog them senseless, Brownie.»
«Snog them senseless?» I raised my brow mockingly. «What are you, sixteen?»
«I think that the hot and heavy snogging session that just went on within these walls could just as easily have been performed by two horny teens.» He winked at me as he leaned his back against the wall, looking perfectly at ease.
«Maybe so,» I admitted, sitting down on his edge of my desk with a sly smile.
«And here I was, so afraid of you hating my design when all along you -»
«Oh, no, no, no. That part was all true,» I interrupted, and smiled wider as Draco suddenly pushed himself away from the wall. He stared at me with his mouth open.
«But you just said tha-»
«I didn't get you in here under false pretenses, Blondie.» I laughed as his expression completely changed, he now looked completely dumbfounded. «They were perfectly legitimate.»
«So you really do hate my art?» he gasped.
«No, not at all.» I watched as Draco's tense shoulders relaxed a bit. «But I think you need someone to write you a specific summary, or to explain to you how the characters develop, and stuff like that. And that would help you to get the cover-art right.»
«Are you volunteering?» He smiled, charming my heart to temporarily stop.
«N-No, I really couldn't-»
«Oh, come on! It's the least you can do after dragging me to that gay-club.» He was dangerously close to me now, and I was suddenly sweating profusely, but I still tried to focus on the topic at hand.
«I didn't drag you anywhere, and I really don't think I'm the best person to -»
«Didn't you just tell me that you basically wrote parts of it?» He arched his eyebrow, smirking Malfoyishly. Yes, that is now an adjective. I think it's appropriate.
«I wouldn't exactly say that , but I helped a little bi-»
«Then that makes you the perfect person to help me with this,» he concluded, and hovered just a few inches away from my quivering lips before suddenly stepping away. «I'll meet you outside after work, and then we'll Apparate to my apart-»
«I'm not Apparating again!» I protested. Whenever Draco touched me I always forgot to listen to the reasonable part of my brain. And if I now was going to spend a whole evening with him, I had to keep a clear head – well, as clear as was physically possible in his foggy prescence.
«All right...» He squinted his eyes at me, confused, but then he shrugged his shoulders. «We'll just take the bus, it stops right in front of my building anyways. No problem.»
I nodded. Draco nodded back. And then he flashed me one last smile before opening the door and stepping out.
This was probably going to be an interesting evening.
«For the last time,» I sighed, «the point with her saying that she hates him is so that we as readers understand then that she actually feels the total opposite.»
«Why do women never say what they really mean?» Draco leaned back against the cusions on his sofa, looking annoyed. «I'm never going to get it. And I'm sure as hell never going to understand this sodding book either.» He shot the manuscript that was laying open on the table a nasty look.
«You're overthinking it. That's your problem. It's really quite simple, you see -»
«No, it's not 'quite simple', actually, it's quite difficult,» Draco protested, running a hand through his blond hair. «And I have no idea how I'm supposed to draw anything that could even resemble a cover for this piece of shi-»
«Stop being so dramatic, Blondie.» I rolled my eyes at the blue-eyed man sitting across from me. «Just... Just try thinking outside the box.»
«Which box?» Draco asked while eyeing me suspiciously.
«You know,» I said as I leaned back, making the loveseat I was sitting on squeal softly, «that saying, 'think outside the box'.» Draco just stared at me. «You have no idea, do you?»
«None.» He was staring at me as if I were mad.
«It means 'try thinking differently'.»
«Then say that next time, and don't confuse me with your strange muggle sayings.»
I squinted my eyes at him, then grabbed the manuscript only to lay it securely in my lap.
«Don't take it out on me that you're too stupid to understand the simplest of symbolism in this novel.»
«You know, I'll accept that slight hostility just because I sort of enjoy your company.» Then Draco smiled mischievously, his eyes falling to my chest. «Or more specifically, your cleavage.»
I immediately corrected my shirt so that Draco couldn't see anything, unless he had x-ray vision – something I wouldn't be surprised if he actually had.
«And I'll accept that obvious flirting just because you're in serious need of my help. But I won't be as forgiving the next time, so please keep your pretty little head focused, and listen. If you look here -»
«You think I'm pretty?» Draco grinned mockingly.
«Pretty pathetic? Yes,» I answered, shuffling my notes.
«That's not what I meant.»
«Well, that's what I meant,» I retorted, pretending to read the manuscript.
«No, it wasn't.»
«Yes, it was.» Still busy pretending.
«Brownie,» Draco's low voice finally caught my attention, and I looked up from the pages and over to him, «you've got your lying-face on.»
«I don't have a lying-face!» I protested. But after a significant amount of seconds of Draco simply staring at me with one of his eyebrows arched, I squinted my eyes.
«You don't know me well enough to know that I have a lying-face,» I insisted, squinting my eyes even more.
«Obviously, I do.»
That's when I saw it again, in the depth of his blue eyes, that mysteriously hypnotizing gleam. It was drawing me closer, so close, in fact, that I was now leaning across the narrow coffee table in an attempt to get nearer. Draco was leaning as well, and our faces were now so close that I could feel the heat radiating from his skin. But then he blinked.
What was I doing?
«Ehm,» I mumbled to myself, backed away and sat my bum firmly back on the loveseat. «I-It's getting late.» I collected my notes and the manuscript and rose to my feet. «I should go.»
«No!» Draco yelled and jumped up from the sofa. I was startled and dropped all my notes so they scattered all over the floor, with a sigh I kneeled down and began picking them up.
«I mean,» Draco started and bent down beside me to help pick up the papers that lay carelessly about my feet, «I'm in serious need of your help. You even said so yourself.»
«Be that as it may,» I said and stood up from my kneeling position on the floor, notes and novel in hand, «I don't like riding the bus after dark.»
«But it's already dark.» He handed me some more of the papers I'd dropped, and then pointed out the window.
«I-I know.» I turned around and walked across the living room, looking for my purse. «And I want to leave before it gets any...» I found it lying on the kitchen table, and thrust all the papers into it. «...darker.»
«That's just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say.» I could hear Draco snickering behind my back, and I quickly turned to shoot him a nasty glare.
«I'm glad my fears are amusing to you, Draco, but I really do have to leave.» I grabbed my coat and basically threw it on, I then turned my heel angrily.
«Okay, just hear me out for a minute, Brownie.» Draco ran up to me and took my arm just as I was about to march straight to the exit. «Stay for another hour and I'll take you home myself.»
«I'm not Apparating.» I didn't meet Draco's intense gaze, and instead found refuge in fiddling with the buttons on my coat.
«Why not?» he asked, letting go of my arm now that I was standing still.
«I-I get dizzy.»
«You're really terrible at lying,» he sighed. «Why won't you tell me wh-»
«Because it is none of your business,» I hissed.
He didn't have to know how my body reacted to his touch, or that even his prescence left me breathless, or that his eyes had the ability to transform my willpower into jelly.
Because of all the reasons I listed above I had to avoid every bodily contact at all costs. I couldn't risk another weak moment like the one in my office earlier today. And Merlin knows I'd been fighting against my urges all night, so it was perfectly natural that I now felt tired and grumpy. Especially when all we'd been talking about (all alone in this small apartment) was sexual desires between the characters in Marlon Brooks' novel.
Why the hell had I agreed to do this in the first place?
«Fine,» Draco stepped away from me, letting out a breath, «I'll drive you.»
I laughed. «You have a safe mode of transportation?» I raised my brow. «I'm finding that hard to believe.»
«I should probably feel offended by that, but I'm letting it slide,» He sighed, and captured my eyes with the magic sparkle of his own. «Please stay.»
He was doing it again – completely controlling me with his darned good looks. When had I grown so vain as to let myself be one hundred percent obedient to another man just because he was bloody gorgeous?
Obviously the day I met the grown-up Draco Malfoy.
«Fine. One hour.»
His genuine smile lit up his already glowing face. «Thank you.»
«Absolutely not,» I said blankly, shaking my head repeatedly. «I'm not getting on that. Not a chance in hell.» I even took a step back as the sight frightened me. «That thing is a death-trap.»
«It's not so bad.» Draco went over to the monstrous edition of a muggle motorcycle and straddled it with ease. «Get on!»
I shook my head with even more vigour. «Never! That monster is just a crash waiting to happen.» I backed away even more, wanting to put a safe amount of distance between it and myself. «And I quite value my life. So thanks, but no thanks.»
«Why are you being so mean, lady?» Draco pushed with his legs, and the motorcycle slowly crept closer to me.
«Why are you being so weird, man?» I insisted, refusing to let myself ponder too much about how he was emitting this extreme, raw masculinity, and how my knees were actually beginning to weaken at the sight.
«Weird?» asked an annoyed Draco. «You know, some people would actually define me offering to help you home on a dark night a nice thing to do.»
«Same thing,» I quickly responded.
«No, they're not.»
«When it comes to you, yeah, they are.»
Draco let go of the handle with one hand and pinched the bridge of his nose in irritation. «It's either this or Apparating. And since Apparating apparently makes you 'dizzy', this is all that's left.» His voice was threateningly low, and when he looked up at me, his eyes were glinting with danger.
Oddly, instead of frightening me, this only added to his air of vibrant masculinity – and I liked it.
«So get your stubburn, gorgeous arse on this bloody bike, or so help me God, I will hex you.»
After a few seconds of me simply staring at this angry man, I strapped my purse tightly over my shoulder, briskly walked over to the monstrous bike, and jumped onto it.
«Let's go,» I whispered directly into Draco's ear, and watched the hairs on his neck rise as my breath touched his skin. I then wrapped my arms around his waist and gave him a tight squeeze, and before I knew it the beast beneath me was roaring with life.
«Hold on tight, Brownie,» Draco said in a low voice as he rotated the handle and the motorcycle spun out into the street.
The harsh wind made my hair whip behind me, and the sensation of going faster than the speed of light thrilled me and made my stomach fly up to my chest. Without thinking, I screamed out in excitement, and after laughing loudly, Draco answered by howling like a wolf. We spent most of the ride laughing and screaming like this, and when we suddenly slowed down, I felt an odd sense of disappointment that it was over.
We were now coming to a full stop, my building right in front of me. Draco got off and kicked out the support for the bike, then, without a word, he helped me off by lifting me straight up with his strong arms, causing my feet to dangle in the air.
«Thanks,» I said hoarsely when he put me down on the ground.
«Mhm,» he mumbled, staring at me.
I was shuffling my feet.
«Isn't this about the time when you run away, leaving me alone in the middle of the street?» Draco was still staring at me, not moving anything but his full lips.
I flinched as the words hit me in the stomach, and I exhaled. «I'm so sorry.» I swallowed hard, still not looking in his direction. «I was so very drunk, and I wasn't thinking straight -»
«You're blaming the alcohol.» It wasn't a question.
«Y-Yes. I-I am.» I was stuttering like some sort of moronic troll, and fiddled with my purse.
«All right. Whatever,» he said and finally looked away from me, and to my disappointment he walked back to the bike and got on it.
«What are you doing?» I asked stupidly, of course I knew what he was doing.
«I'm leaving you.»
Draco's words cut me like a knife, and the physical hurt they caused surprised me.
«Oh,» was all I could mutter.
Obviously noticing how I was reacting, Draco sighed. «Listen, I'm not really mad about that. I'm more annoyed. It'll pass anyway...»
I didn't reply.
«Okay?» he sighed, but my lips refused to move. Draco grew more annoyed as the seconds passed without me opening my mouth, then suddenly he basically barked out, «Please answer me, Brownie, 'cause I don't have a lot of time.»
«Where are you going?» I asked weakly, still feeling this awful, and surprisingly intense, pain.
«I'm supposed to meet someone in a few minutes,» he answered with ease.
«But...» I tried not to let the disappointment seep into my voice, and I checked my watch to have somewhere else to look. «It's almost midnight.»
Draco shrugged his shoulders, smirking smugly - too smug, if you ask me. «Yeah, well... The life of the happy bachelor, you know.» He winked at me before waking up the beast of a motorcycle he was straddled across.
«See you in tomorrow, Brownie,» he said as he vanished out of sight. Leaving me alone on the street, drowning in the sudden silence.
I guess, now I knew how it felt.
It was noon when I finally saw him again. I was standing in the copy room, waiting for the shitty thing to slowly print out the hundred pages of notes that an author had just mailed me.
I'd only gotten to five.
I then heard a grumpy growl behind me, and as I turned around, I saw Draco walking over to the other (even more excrutiatingly slow) copy machine.
«Hello,» I greeted without much feeling as I turned back to stare at how the sixth page slowly got inked. I was still mad at him for deserting me last night, and promised myself to make life hard for him today. Evil as I was, I looked forward to the prospect.
«What's good about it?» he muttered.
«What?» I asked, raising an eyebrow at him, and now that he was standing beside me, I could see the dark circles under his eyes – I smiled inwardly.
«Oh,» he yawned as he half turned to me, those blue circles under his eyes gave the impression that he'd been in a fight – and lost. «I thought you said 'good morning'.» He scratched his lightly stubbled chin, brows furrowed from some obviously troubled thoughts. «Which you didn't, so never mind.»
«All right, I won't,» I said, turning a cold shoulder and watched as my machine finally started speeding up, it was now spewing out page twelve.
«What's the matter with your species?» Draco suddenly barked at me, making me slightly jump.
«Are you talking human or sex object?» I asked, summoning myself and returning to stare at the machine.
«Don't flatter yourself, I meant women.»
«I know, that's what I said.»
While refusing to meet Draco's intense stare, I was relieved to realise that one of the interns had just walked in, and I greeted the pretty redheaded girl with a smile. The redhead smiled back, and on her name tag I read 'Hi! I'm Annie' – I giggled at this, because giving the interns nametags had been my idea. I mentally gave myself a pat on the back. But that was until I caught Draco's eyes glued to Annie The Interns firm behind as she bent down to pick something up at the opposite side of the room.
«Stop staring at the intern's arse!» I had leaned in next to his ear and hissed in a low voice. Draco blinked innocently, as if waking up from a trance.
«What? I wasn't -»
«Oh, please,» I hissed again, and when Annie The Intern was safely out of the room, I gave myself permission to freely glower at him. «You were ogling her like that black bodybuilder ogled you that time we were at -»
«Hey!» Draco interrupted, eyes shooting me a warning look as he lowered his voice considerably. «I thought we had a silent agreement to not talk about that – ever.»
With an indifferent shrug of my shoulders, I turned back only to be surprised that the copy machine had shockingly enough printed out almost forty pages. Beside me, Draco was leaning against the copy machine as his sigh basically echoed in the room, but I didn't grant him the satisfaction of giving him any attention.
After several long, heavy and annoyingly dramatic sighs, I clenched my teeth and let out a small growl before turning to him with an irritated expression.
«Fine,» I growled once more, louder this time. «I'll bite.» Then I smiled as I came up with something that'd annoy him. «What's wrong, Drake?»
«Drake?» Draco made a face, not at all pleased.
«A new nickname for you that I'm trying out.» I turned my back to him so I could snicker without him seeing. «Not working?»
«Not in the slightest.» He shook his head slowly, almost disgusted. «But I was with this girl last night, you know, and -»
«Not the one we met at The Leaky Cauldron, I hope?» I had to bite my tongue to refrain from laughing as I imagined his reaction.
But I was wrong...
«I may enjoy some kinkiness, Brownie,» his deep voice managed to hypnotize me to turn around and meet his eyes, «but I draw the line at fooling around with someone who could easily have been my great grandmother's best friend.»
His eyes were laughing at some inner joke, and I was forced to let go of my pokerface and smile.
«I've got to say, I'm a little relieved.» I smirked, and then quickly returned to stare as the 63rd page was being printed out. «So, what's the problem?»
«Well, we were having a good time -»
«In bed?» I interrupted, wanting him to feel just a tiny bit embarrased.
But of course, it was in vain.
«Against her car, actually. But -»
«She sounds like a keeper this one,» I muttered sourly.
What Draco just said, had made my heart drop to my stomach. It had actually... hurt..
Why the hell did it hurt?! I made absolutely no sense today.
«Will you let me finish?» he said annoyed, interrupting my thoughts.
«Was that what she said?»
HAH! 10 points to Gryffindor!
«Ha. Ha.» Draco scowled at me, although smiling. «Very funny.»
«I'm sorry, but you do make it too easy.» I lifted my nose in the air, enjoying my succsess. I hadn't even thought about how his shirt was unbuttoned at the top, and that if I squinted my eyes and leaned to the left, I would catch a glimpse of his bare chest.
I did now, though...
«Do you want to hear about my problem or not?» he sighed impatiently and I feigned relief.
«I have a choice?»
Shivers of enjoyment were shooting through me at the sight of him finally being out-witted.
«Not really.» His jaw was tense. «So, we're in the middle of it and I tell her how gorgeous she is, right? But the all of a sudden she starts screaming -»
«Let me guess,» I help up my hand in order to shut him up, a mocking grin on my face, «not in a good way?»
«Abslutely not,» he confirmed. «And then she slaps me square in the face, gets into her car and drives off. Leaving me in the middle of nowhere, in an area with very bad cell-phone reception.»
I wasn't even remotely interested in listening to this, and had a hard time acting like it didn't irk me to hear about him being with another woman.
I refused to dwell upon the latter though, as it was completely inappropriate of me to be feeling that way. So I shrugged, and hoped against hope that he'd notice how I was not in the mood to discuss his late night escapades.
«I had to walk.» While throwing his hands in the air to prove how dramatic these happenings were, I simply continued to concentrate on the copy machine. «Brownie, are you listening? I had to walk!»
«Couldn't you just Apparate?» I sighed, not wanting to continue this oddly disturbing conversation.
«I was way too drunk.» Why did he look proud as he said this? Embarrassed is a more correct feeling to be had. «And I'd left my bike at home, 'cause she wanted to drive.»
«Well,» I knew he'd refuse to drop the subject, so I could just as well let him have his way and then, hopefully, we'd exhaust the topic. «What exactly did you say to her?»
«I don't remember word for word, but it was somewhere along the lines of: 'God, you're so gorgeous, Tiffa-» Out of thin air, Draco abruptly stopped talking, and for several seconds he looked dumbfounded. «Oh.» Draco grinned mischievously at me.
«Oh, what?» Curious? Me? I have no idea what you're talking about. And why in the world did I care that he'd called another woman gorgeous? The idea was mental, but I was still struggling with the intense hatred for this other woman.
«I just remembered.» His grin widened, and he stared at my expression as he continued speaking. «Her name wasn't Tiffany. It was Joan.»
My chin literally dropped, causing my mouth to fall open with a pop.
«Whoops,» he actually snickered, focusing on my face.
When he now smugly winked at me, I'd had it with him. I wouldn't listen to this anymore! So I grabbed the 86 pages that the copy machine had finished printing out and marched right out of the room. To hell with the remaining fourteen.
«What are you doing?» Draco quickly gathered his own sheets of paper and ran after me.
«I'm leaving. That's what I'm doing,» I muttered, fastening my pace.
«But why?» He was at my side now, keeping up with my fast pace with such ease that it annoyed me.
«Because, believe it or not, I'm sick and tired of listening to you brag about your sexual adventures, Malfoy!» I hissed, casting him blistering glares.
«But I wasn't being graphic at all!» Draco whispered while he nodded and smiled at the receptionists as we passed them on our way to my office.
«That's not the point. I've just reached my limit.» I could see my office just a few feet away and my insides rejoiced. «I don't even know why you would want to tell me these things, I am not a man. Tittie-talk does not interest me in the slightest.»
My hand threw open the door and I jumped inside, but even though I hurried to slam the door behind me(or preferably in his sodding face!), of course Draco was faster than I was, and suddenly appeared right beside me.
«But I don't really have any male friends yet,» he told me, and I sneered as I went to sit behind my desk. He obviously didn't count Ron or Harry, and I could understand why. «And some things I just have to get out of my system right away.»
«But why me?!» I had almost screamed this, and I now quickly got to my feet and went to peek out the door to check if anyone had heard me.
With quick and awkward movements, I hid back in the office and already started rummaging my brain for something to get me away from this man who was the reason for me behaving so uncharacteristically.
«I dunno, maybe -»
«After today I'd rather you kept your playboy-stories to a minimun when I'm near. All right?» I loved interrupting him, and after I'd bathed in the sensation of victory for a second, I realised what I could do to escape his prescence. I walked out of my office, and with hurried steps I made my way to the coffee station.
«What?» I turned around only to see Draco following me, grinning.
«You finally stepped up.» The grin widened to the point of breaking. «Good for you.»
«Please don't tell me that you said all those things just to get a rise out of me,» I breathed. Without thinking, I had stopped dead in my tracks in a momentarily deserted hallway, eyes glued to the grinning fool.
«Then you're not going to like the answer.»
I flinched, and had to grit my teeth to refrain from spitting at him.
«But why do you look like you've been out all night?» I asked, craving the truth.
Draco swept the corridor with his gleaming eyes before retrieving his wand from his jacket pocket and flicked it at his face. His face magically brightened, the smooth chin was free from any stubble, and the deep blue circles under his glorious eyes were simply vanished. Then he put the wand back and smiled proudly at me.
«So evey one of those disgusting sex-stories you've told me was just to -»
«Make you extremely jealous?» he finished, eyes glittering down at me. «Yes.»
«But I'm not jealous.» Again, I started marching toward the smell of coffee.
«I knew it was only an unspecified amount of time before you'd break, but it actually proved harder than I thought. You're a tough cookie, you know that?»
I'd finally reached the sacred station, but he was still right beside me, refusing to let me have just one shred of breathing space.
«Was it all a lie?» I hissed like an angry kitten and grabbed a cup before filling it with coffee. If I didn't keep my hands busy, I was sure to wring his neck. «Did you make everything up?»
«I knew it!»
«No, you didn't, you had no idea,» he snickered, admiring his own cleverness.
«I knew that I should have known better than to trust a Malfoy.» I watched how the effect of my words stung him.
«I resent that,» he pointed at me, «I've told you a lot of things that were true!»
«Oh, really? Like that story about that old lady disguised as a blond bimbo? Was that true?»
«Ehm, well -»
«Or that 'relationship' that lasted only a week?» I interrupted. «You know, with the woman you 'let go'?»
«All right,» he admitted, letting his hand fall to his side, «so I may have altered the truth a little bit. But I still have -»
«And why the bloody hell did you do that?!» Through clenched teeth, I was glad to hear that my words sounded dangerously threatening.
«I told you, to make you realise that you were jealous,» he answered easily, pouring milk in my coffee, not even caring about my threatening tone.
«You're admitting it just like that?» Still hissing.
«I did it to prove a point.»
«And which point was that?» After throwing a couple of spoons of sugar into the cup, I turned my heel and began walking back to my office – my plan of getting away from Draco had obviously backfired.
«That even though you claim to love Martin, you have a thing for me.»
«A thing?» This made me stop, and I turned around to raise an eyebrow at the blond man, taking a large sip of my coffee.
«Physical attraction, infatuation, a crush. I don't know.»
Hot coffee was being caughed up through my nostrils, and tears started filling my eyes. «You are mental,» I croaked, and decided to get out of the public eye, scurrying to my office.
«No, I'm not.»
«Yeah, you are,» I argued. «And not in the charming way like Luna was.»
«Luna Lovegood, she was- Oh, nevermind.»
I felt relieved when I was finally within the safe walls of my cubicle-with-a-roof.
«You know,» I began, not letting myself get sidetracked by the memory of Luna's quirkyness, «throughout our friendship you've talked quite a lot of bullshit, Draco, but this tops it all by far. This is just...» I opened and closed my mouth several times before continuing, «amazingly idiotic! I mean, of course I-I don't have a-a 'thing' for you! You stupid, stupid man!»
«Hey!» Draco closed the door behind him and flicked the lock with his wand. «I'm entitled to my own opinion, you know!»
«Yes, you are. It's just that this time it's-it's... stupid!»
«Okay, fine! Don't listen to me. If the package is this pretty, no one cares what's inside.»
While snarling, I planted my palm on my face in pure frustration. «Are you actually saying these words?» I muttered mostly to myself, eyes closed.
«Well, are you actually saying that you're not attracted to me?» My eyes shot open. «Do you claim that you didn't feel anything at all when I was raving on about all these women I had sex with?»
«Fictitious women!» I corrected him. «You were lying -»
«Yes, but you didn't know that until just now!»
Anger coursed thorugh my already tense body, and I forced myself to take a few very deep breaths before saying anything.
«I don't have time for this, Draco.» My voice seemed calm, but for those who knew me, they knew better than to anger me further when I used that tone. «Please leave my office.»
«You were jealous – admit it.»
That was it. The final bloody drop.
Without thinking about it my hand flew to his face, and slapped away the smug grin. Draco's head jerked to the side, and with a bewildered expression he slowly turned to face me. His hand touched the reddening part of his cheek, and without taking his eyes off me, he started sputtering out incoherent words.
«Wha- Why the- How could- What the bloody hell was that for?!»
I then grabbed my purse, thrust the author's notes inside it and stepped briskly toward the exit.
«Hermione, where are you going?» Draco touched my arm, but I flinched away.
«But-but this is your office.»
«I know,» I panted, and felt a perverse sense of joy as I noticed his already swollen cheek. «But I need to get away from you now before I Avada Kedavra your sorry arse!»
So while clenching my jaw, I found my wand and gave it a furious flick, making the door crash open. When I, through the angry haze that clouded my ability to think straight, heard how the sound echoed around me, I could only imagine how suspicious that must've sounded to the rest of the people in the building.
I decided right then and there, on the spot, that it would be best if I just disappeared – and did just that.
It was hours later, and I was lying outstretched on the sofa, drowsily flicking my wand to fold Martin's shirts and wash the dirty dishes in the kitchen. With my other hand I stuffed chocolate into my mouth, not even tasting it.
A loud knock interrupted my lazy state of my mind, and I jumped to my feet, removed all evidence of magic and ran to the door.
«Martin?» I asked breathlessly before opening. «Did you forget your key aga-»
«No,» answered an all too familiar voice.
Reacting on impulse, I opened the door only to glower at the tall, handsome, blue-eyed man in front of me.
«Draco,» I spat out, and swiftly ignored the butterflies that were flitting about in my belly at the sight of him. Half his face was red and swollen from when I slapped him, and the overpowering urge to kiss it confused me. «Why are you here? I won't listen to more of your improper assumptions, af that's what you -»
«Don't you 'Hermione' me, you prat! I've had it with your -»
«Brownie!» Draco put his massive hands on my shoulders and successfully shut me up. «Calm down and listen to me.»
I breathed heavily and glared at him for having such an unwaivering control over me. Surprisingly enough, I hated him for that control, not myself – I really didn't care if it was unfair. Right now, he deserved it.
«I'm listening,» I mumbled through clenched teeth.
«Are you calm?» His hands gave my trembling shoulders a light squeeze.
«I'm listening,» I repeated and shook his hands off before stepping back, though still feeling the warmth of him where his hands had been.
«All right.» Draco was shuffling his feet. «I, ehm, I came to apologize.»
I slowly raised one of my eyebrows, crossed my arms in front of my chest and pursed my lips.
«You expect me to grovel, don't you?»
«Never happening,» he scoffed, determined. «I still have my dignity.»
«Do you?» I arched my brow even more. «Do you really?»
«Regardless, I won't do it.»
With a careless shrug, I strarted leaving, but Draco quickly caught my arm.
«No, no, wait!» He let go of me and then sighed(or growled, more like). «Fine.» He grimaced. «I'll grovel.»
With the grimace still intact on his beautiful, and partially swollen face, he got down to his knees. While looking up at me with those ocean blue eyes, he gently took my hand and buried it within his own two.
«Hermione Jean Granger,» he began in whispers, and I had no chance of ending our intense gaze. «I am truly and deeply sorry for lying -»
«And being a complete and utter arse,» I added, glad that at least my wit couldn't be so easily overruled by him, as opposed to all the other remaining parts of me.
«I was getting to that.»
«Just thought you needed a little nudge in the right direction.» Our gaze was still not broken, and I seriously doubted that I would ever be able to look anywhere else.
«Thank you.» He tried not to smile, but failed.
«Yes, ehm...» he began stuttering and looked confused.
«Complete and utter arse,» I reminded him, at which he nodded.
«Yes!» He cleared his throat. «And it was very, very wrong of me to assume that you have a thing for me -»
«Don't forget extremely inappropriate,» I interrupted. «And awfully stupid.»
«And that too,» he admitted before looking away and letting go of my hand. Now that I wasn't drowning in his eyes anymore, I blinked rapidly. It felt like I'd been watching the sun for too long, and my head was throbbing for some reason. «Please forgive me.»
«Why should I?» It was only a whisper, but it was enough to make Draco slowly look back up at me.
When our eyes met yet again, I felt that I could almost see his soul in the depth of the all the blue, and it was just as if my own soul was saying 'finally, there you are' - but I had no idea why. It was so natural, but also excrutiatingly thrilling to have these moments with Draco, and there had been a great deal of moments like these with him – more than what was appropriate.
«Because we're friends. And I don't have anyone else.» He was whispering too, his hoarse and low tone sending vibrations up and down my spine. There was a moment of silence before he took my hand again and looked at it while stroking his thumb across my palm. «Okay. You want the truth? The soppy, spineless truth?» He didn't wait for me to answer. «Well, the second you Disapparated, I regretted everything. And I can't stand to have you mad at me. I really don't know what I'd do if I lost your friendship.» He kissed my palm gently, only barely touching my skin. Little did he know that this was enough to set my soul on fire. «Please, Hermione.»
«All right,» I breathed, surprised that I could even mutter anything at this time.
«Oh, great! Thank you.» Draco looked up at me, smiling widely. How could I ever want to hurt this man? The redness of his cheek haunted me, and I instantly hated myself for causing him pain. There had to be something severely wrong with me for having the capability to perform that horrible act.
Well, no surprise there. There was something wrong with me, that much I knew already.
«Ehm..» He bit his lower lip while still smiling. «Permission to stand up?»
«Permission granted,» I whispered, still not capable to fully use my voice just yet, and he got to his feet.
Now that I had to crane my neck to get a good look at his face, my body immediately yelled at me to throw myself at him – to drag him into the apartment, push him onto the bed and finally fulfill my deep desire to -
Oh, no, not again!
«Okay, so I'll see you tomorrow! Bye!» I quickly slammed the door right in front of Draco's face, and securely locked it.
Not so that he couldn't get inside, oh no. It was so that I couldn't get outside.
«Ehm, all right,» I heard Draco's confused voice say from the other side of the locked door. «Bye.»
I still had time to run to him and make my dreams a reality – but I wrapped my arms around my torso and listened as the sound of Draco's footsteps died out.
When they had, I drew a ragged breath and flung my trembling body onto the sofa, tears welling up in my eyes.
«It's not true,» I muttered to myself, sobs building themselves up in my heaving chest. «I can't have a thing for him.»
It was absurd and wildly inappropriate – but deep inside, buried beneath heaps of denial, I thought that maybe there might have been some truth to his madness.
Phew! I was both physically and mentally tired after writing this, and no wonder, huh? I mean, it's over 8000 freaking words! But it was worth it :)
Or what do you guys think? Please write what thoughts you were left with after reading this eternally long chapter ^^
Sorry, btw, for the long hiatus :/ But I hope I made up for the wait by writing you an 8000 word chappie xD hahah
Love you, my readers!
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