“HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT NOTHING HAPPENED?!” I bellowed from in the yard.
Ron and I had began arguing straight after the funeral. After finding Pig at Ron’s bedroom window with Draco’s reply, I had taken a walk around the garden while the rest of the family and friends were inside talking about Fred; I planned to be leaving soon. He had started at me again about what was written about myself and Draco Malfoy and I was sick of it. I was very mad at Ron yet I had no intention of telling him where I had planned to go this evening and that he was holding me up. We had been arguing for well over an hour now.
“And how many times do I have to tell you that I don’t believe you? You told me from your own mouth that what he said you and Harry discussed was true. Besides, how would you know if you were asleep?” That was exactly what I was hoping to find out this evening: the truth.
“I don’t! So why do you keep on asking me what happened at the castle? I already told you.”
“Yeah, but that’s not what this guy thinks. He thinks something had been going on for a while.”
“And when was this supposed to have happened? In between searching for horcruxes? Ron, when would I have had time to send him owls or keep up this so-called relationship?”
He shrugged. “You tell me.”
Ron stormed into the house while I sniffed away a few tears. Harry and Ginny were glancing out of the window at me, so I took it upon myself to Disapparate as soon as I could. I knew that Ron was just hurting, but it did not mean that it did not kill me to hear him be so horrible to me for something that I had not done.
I opened up the passageway to the Leaky Cauldron after I arrived outside of Gringotts and walked into the pub hoping that Draco was still there. To my surprise, he was. I found him in a corner with his head resting on his shoulder.
Poking him slightly, I tried to wake him up. “Draco?”
He jumped. “Granger!” he said happily.
I frowned and then noticed the five bottles on the table in front of him. Tom the barman came over and I asked for two orange juices.
“Draco, have you been waiting long?”
“No, two hours isn’t long at all.” I was glad to see that he wasn’t too drunk to lose his sarcasm. “You look nice,” he blurted out. I was wearing a black dress and cardigan. I could tell that he did not want to compliment me because his cheeks went bright pink after saying this. I had to admit that I never thought that Draco Malfoy was even capable of blushing, so because I did not want to embarrass him further, I muttered, “Thank you” and continued.
“I’m sorry to drag you away from your mother,” I apologised. He shrugged. “I just wondered what happened…in St Mungo’s.”
He shifted in his seat and then drained the remains from his bottle. “Well I certainly didn’t give you a love letter. You know that.”
“It was the list of names.” I swallowed. “So you didn’t…?”
Draco laughed. “No. Swattle was the one talking about kissing. In fact, he suggested it!”
“Right.” I took a gulp of juice and smiled bracingly. “I wish you could tell Ron this. He’s getting a little unbearable.”
“Well, why wouldn’t he? You’re together aren’t you?”
I shrugged. “I’m not sure. He’s been acting differently recently what with Fred’s death, but I’m sure he’ll come round.”
Draco drank the juice in one large gulp and looked at me through glazed eyes. “I just want to make it clear…Herminnin…Hermion…Her…Granger… no matter how much I wanted to…but I didn’t…want to…I had no intention of kissing you.” He cackled heartily. “Kissing Hermione Granger.” He mopped his wet eyes with his sleeve.
“What’s so funny?” I asked standoffishly.
“It’s just…” He laughed some more. “…you believed him, didn’t you? You believed the article.”
“Of course not -”
“You did.” Draco was not laughing. Or even smiling. He was staring at me incredulously with narrowed eyes. “Fantasised about it, have you?” he whispered.
“What? No. You’re sick.”
“Maybe, Granger. Maybe.” He leaned over the table, so close to me that I could smell the acidic sharpness of the firewhisky on his breath. “But do you want to know a secret?” He looked around as I folded my arms and looked at the ceiling. “I’ve imagined it too.” He sniggered. “Last night, while I was in my bed, I imagined that you were with me. Keeping - keeping this between us of course, because I would be mad to repeat this…I enjoyed it…somehow…Strange, isn’t it?”
One hiccup and he was sprawled out over the table, his blonde hair falling over his face. He moaned a little. “My head…heart…my stomach feels as if it’s on fire.”
Ignoring his drunken ramblings, afraid to wonder whether they were true or not, I stared at him in utter shock and a small helping of sympathy. “Well that serves you right,” I muttered honestly. “Excuse me?” I said to the barman.
Tom stopped collecting glasses and said, “Yes, Miss?”
“Do you have a room for him?” My finger pointed in the direction of Draco’s stirring figure on the table. I understood that firewhisky was strong, but had no idea that just five bottles would make you completely wasted. Or maybe he had more than five.
Tom flicked his wand and said, “Room Six is free. Door’s open.”
So he wasn’t going to help me?
Slapping Draco on his shoulder, I said, “Get up.”
“Piss off,” he muttered, burying his face in his arms. “I wanna stay right here.”
“Well you can’t. People are staring.” Draco leant over and fell out of his chair, sending all of the glass bottles crashing onto the ground. That was when everyone looked over at the source of the smashing noise. Several old people shook their heads disparagingly while others made their way out hastily, with half-finished drinks on the dirty tables.
With a grunt, Tom waved his wand and the shattered glass cleared.
It gave me an unnerving feeling that his presence created animosity within the pub and so I bracingly took his arm, but buckled by the weight of him. We fell into a messy pile by the door, my knee grazing the stone floors.
Nobody rushed to help us.
Stumbling, I mounted the steps with Draco leaning awkwardly over my shoulder. What had I been reduced to? Helping an enemy of mine after a drunken episode was not something I had planned, but I couldn’t exactly leave him passed out in the bar; it was the decent thing to do.
Room Six had been unlocked and we tumbled in. There was a tiny grungy window in the middle of the back wall along with a small mahogany dresser and a double four-poster bed in the centre of the room.
Draco groaned as I threw him onto the bed. My back ached as I slid off and fell on the creaky wooden flooring. Was all of this for nothing? Had I come here knowing what he would say? Had I simply come here for an escape from Ron’s ranting?
“Shall I send your mother an owl?” I asked airily as I stood up. “So she can collect you?”
“Don’t need collecting,” he murmured into the blue bed linen.
“Look at the state of you, Draco, of course you need collecting. I couldn’t leave you like…like this.”
He leaned up. “Then stay with me.” He patted part of the bed beside him. “Come on, Granger. Sit down.”
I scowled. “No thank you. You need to sober up.” I headed to the door but he was beside me faster than I would have thought.
Lovingly, he closed the door, his palm caressing the chiselled oak.
“What are you doing?” My brain was telling me to shout or scream - to do something, yet I chose to stay calm, hoping that the situation would not require me to take drastic action.
Feeling my arms being squeezed by my sides, his lips suddenly crashed onto my own. My insides flipped nauseatingly when he touched me. It was almost as if his fingertips left my skin hot and damaged. I pushed away with all my might, but he was still there, on me.
Forcing my arm down and into my pocket, my fingers clutched my wand and I thought, “Protego” with all my might. He flew across the room as the silvery shield appeared between us.
While massaging my arms and wiping my mouth, I didn’t expect to hear what I heard; he was crying.
I found it really hard to sympathise for him after what he had just pulled, but nevertheless, I did not leave.
“You’re crying? After what you just did! You’re lucky I don’t curse you, Draco Malfoy.”
He ignored me. Maybe he couldn’t hear me. Either way he was crying hysterically, his face growing redder and redder by the second.
I wasn’t going to fall for it.
“What is it?” I said gruffly. “What have you got to be so sad about?” The shield went down.
His face was wet and mine dropped. He really was upset.
“My…my m-mother. Sh-she’s been gone f-for weeks. Since - since the l-last time…we both…we both saw her…” His hands were shaking as he pushed his hair from his face. “I-I’ve got n-no one to t-tell…I don’t know what to do…”
Despite myself, I stepped forward. “Are you sure she won’t be back?” I asked monotonously.
“S-she just disappeared…I told you. I thought y-you’d understand…”
Crouching down beside him, I said, “What do you mean?”
“Y-you need to find your p-parents. I need to find m-my m-mother…” His unfocused eyes glared at my face. I would not have thought that he would have remembered what I told him, but I was wrong. Nevertheless, it did not mean that I thought him any more - or less - sincere.
“Up you get,” I muttered soothingly. With my arm under his shoulder, I dropped him on the bed for the second time. He sniffed a little while I removed my shoes.
“It’s funny how we’re all supposed to feel safer now that he’s gone,” Draco mumbled. “Yet I still f-feel the same.” My eyes watched as he pulled off his shoes, socks and jacket. “I think someone may have gotten to her.” He hiccupped and laid on his back.
“I’m sure she’s fine.” Even as I said the words, it was obvious there was no confidence behind them. I was just as confused as he was.
Draco laughed. “I’m sure she’s fine,” he mimicked bitterly. A tear ran over his nose. “Whatever.”
The palpitations in my chest were probably down to the truth in his words. What I did not want to admit was that I thought something bad had happened to her also.
“Fine,” I said. “Something may have happened to your mother.”
“Thanks for the honesty,” he grunted rudely. His belt was off next and on the ground with a clatter. I shifted closer to the edge of the bed nervously. Face still shockingly red, he continued: “I guess the aftermath of this whole thing wasn’t as straightforward as we thought it would be. My mother’s gone, you’re breaking up with the Weasel…”
“And who said I was breaking up with him?”
“Well you said -”
“I said he was unbearable. I didn’t mention how much it hurts me when he shouts, how much I…I miss the old him.” My head was heating up as I recounted Ronald’s antics. Who knew why I was telling Draco of all people. “I did not mention to you that he never believes a word I say since that stupid, stupid article. Even after Fred’s death he became so blunt, but I don’t blame him - I miss Fred too, but that does not give him the right to blame everything on me! Why he thinks he can get away with that is -”
“Do you love him?”
Audacity, that was what it was. Draco Malfoy asking me whether I loved Ronald Weasley! If he thought I would even grace that with an answer, he was wrong. Why would I talk to him about this? Since when did he care about my love life…and my feelings? Wrinkles set themselves in my brows and my cheeks steadily raised to a clear shade of scarlet to rival Draco’s.
“Well…why would you…to even ask -”
“Well do you?” He sat up.
Panic was setting in. “I mean…of course I do…he’s my best friend.”
“I don’t mean in that way. I mean, as your boyfriend.”
I made to get off the bed but he held my shoulder - and the rest of my body - in place. “I don’t see how you think you have the right to ask me that.”
“So you don’t.” He grinned momentarily and then his eyes were sad again.
“No. I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to, Granger. It’s obvious. I say cut your losses before you get hurt.”
My insides exploded at that. “Cut my losses? Who do you think you are, Draco Malfoy, ordering me about?”
“It was just a friendly suggestion,” he said distantly. He looked upset. “You don’t need to listen to me.” His eyes slid out of focus for a moment and he held his stomach.
“That’s right. I don’t.”
He sniffed. “Even though you hate the way he treats you, the way he shouts. Any normal person would take those reasons as a sign that you should escape before it’s too late. Cut - your - losses.”
“Grand of you to share your wisdom,” my mouth spat. “But I don’t need your advice.”
He shrugged. “Seems like you do. Because if it were me…”
“Well it’s not you. You’re not in this situation. You don’t know what it’s like to feel unappreciated, used.” I sighed and held my head in my hands. My head was spinning.
“You pretty much told me how you feel.” I couldn’t decide whether Draco was still drunk or not, or whether he was just using this opportunity to pester me. “Sounds like you hate him as much as I do.”
It was more frustration than anger that coursed through my blood this time. “I do not hate him. I hate the way he is. There’s a huge difference. Ron…is a great friend. A great boyfriend,” I added as Draco raised his eyebrows. “It’s just that recently his head has been in the wrong place. All the death…he has no time to focus on me…” To prevent myself from crying, I took a huge sniff.
“That’s very selfish of you,” he whispered.
Tears spilled over my face. “I know.” My chest heaved jaggedly up and down. “I know it is, but can’t I ask for a little bit of attention? I’ve liked Ron for such a long time and…now that we’re finally together, he…”
Draco slid off the bed and shuffled over to the door. As he went, his trousers fell down and he stumbled out of them and then out into the corridor. I had no idea where he was going but, I knew he would be back soon. Pulling out my wand, I summoned a few boxes of tissues and wiped my face. Next, I looked into the dirty cracked mirror on the opposite wall and sighed at my reflection. My cheeks were still pink, my hair bedraggled and my skin pale and ghostly.
A tinker of glass and a look in the corner of the mirror alerted me to Draco’s reappearance and I pivoted around almost instantaneously. He was holding two huge pint glasses and two large bottles of elf-made wine.
My eyes narrowed at him.
“Do you want to join me or would you prefer to moan about Weasley all night?”
He was on the bed again, this time attempting to open the bottles with his wand. He was still slightly drunk. I chuckled and took over. With a simple wave of my wand, the corks flew out of both bottles.
I sipped. What harm would it do if I had a small drink with him? I would be leaving in ten minutes anyway…
“Feeling better?” he asked.
I drained the glass. It tasted good.
Spilling it a little, we both giggled lightly. He had a nice smile.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
“Don’t worry about it.”
He swallowed three huge gulps.
I did the same.
My head spun.
He leaned back languidly.
I was hot.
I pulled off my cardigan. It hit the floor.
The first bottle was finished.
With a crash, it was in pieces on the ground.
There was a shout from the room next door.
We laughed, loud. Cackled.
We both poured, my hand on top of his, shaking.
I was impatient.
I drank a glass without pausing for breath.
I wiped my mouth hungrily.
He drank at the same speed.
I took the bottle from his grasp and drank from it, the wine spilling onto my chest.
The second bottle was finished.
I pointed my wand at it and it refilled.
My head hurt.
Draco was kissing the fallen wine from my chest.
My heart skipped a beat.
The firewhisky he had previously drunken seemed to leave a trail across my collar. Hot.
I drank some more.
His lips found mine.
The same hot feeling plagued my cool lips.
They throbbed passionately as I joined the motion.
Moments ago, I hated the idea of kissing him, only this time, I was willing…
“But Ron…” I muttered distantly.
It can’t have been my voice…
“Ron who?” was his reply.
The bottle fell from my grasp.
Wine gushed over my legs and deep into the bed linen.
My dress was over my head. He unzipped it himself.
His shirt was off. The buttons had popped everywhere.
Frantic kisses. Impatient, sweet and warm.
My nails dug into his skin. Blood must have been shed.
He unhooked my bra like an expert.
We were naked.
My legs wrapped around his middle.
Was this Draco Malfoy?
It can’t have been…
I was on my back, he was above.
It was hot. Too damn hot.
My insides were melting.
Sweat was dripping from all over me and into the damp sheets.
Our bodies moved in tandem, rhythmically.
More kisses. Long deep kisses.
His tongue was in my mouth.
My head was splitting.
But a headache would not stop me, us. Nothing would.
My toes curled and I laughed, smiled.
I pulled him deeper.
My mind - my consciousness - and my body seemed to have split into two.
My mind was thinking of Ron, of what he was doing tonight, whether he was thinking of me, of whether what I was doing was right…
My body…that was a different story…I felt like I was in an explosion…I had not done this with Ron, with anybody. This new experience was so fresh and exciting. My physical senses blasted away my consciousness, my logical reasoning.
In the next second it was done.
He had fallen to my side, caressing me.
My heart would not stop beating like a drum.
He stroked my hair and I smiled.
We fell asleep.
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