Another long wait for an update... I'm sorry! I didn't write much over the summer and school is now in session... But hey - I'll be sticking a one-shot up soon. :)
I own nothing from the universe of Harry Potter. Perfect chapter image by beyond the rain @ TDA.
Birds warble through the open window and the air smells of sunlight when I awake. Out-of-season sunbeams pour through across the panes and onto the carpeted floor, a light breeze ruffling the sheer, translucent curtains. Everything about this place is unnatural - it is summery when it is actually autumn; bright pink roses bloom in the garden outside; Hermione -
Hermione. I sit up. There is something wrong with Hermione. Women of the Slytherin House used the Cruciatus curse on her. And I...
Looking down, I find my black V-neck and green and white plaid pajama pants where they are supposed to be - on me. My eyes widen. Could it have been a dream? All of it?
I search the room for her; she is nowhere to be found. She is not at the chalkboard, nor is she sipping her tea by the window. And she is not in my bed. The sheets on that side aren't even rumpled.
As I slip off the mattress, something crashes outside, like plates breaking. I flinch and freeze, and then I hear her voice: "I can't believe it. I've done it again. Help me with this, will you?"
A man's deep voice agrees.
Slowly creeping across the carpet to the door, I find that it has been left ajar. Out in the hallway hang photographs of Hermione - and Viktor Krum. They line the walls, their life together laid out before my eyes. Viktor soaring through the air at the World Cup; the opening dance at the Yule Ball. A scene from a wintry cabin hangs foremost before my face. In that one, they are sitting at the hearth, laughing and drinking what looks like hot chocolate.
Hermione has a whole other life. It is impossible that she would throw it away for one night with me. If I had known, I would have made more of an effort to resist her... If anything happened at all. Every moment, the chance grows likelier and likelier that this was a dream.
But I cannot shake it off - I should know a dream from reality. And what happened last night does not fit into either category.
Uncertain, I walk into the hall, nearly tiptoeing. There is a door across from mine, and down the corridor is a room with a tiled floor. Assuming it is the kitchen, I move toward that end of the hall. The eyes of the photographs watch me as I pass, but after being exposed to things like that for the entirety of my short life, that does not bother me - they are only curious to see who I am. A few of them shrink back in their canvases as they seem to recognize me, holding hands over their mouths.
Peeking around the corner, I discover that I was right - the room is a kitchen. White tiled floors with white cabinets and dark green countertops fill the space, along with pan racks hanging from the ceiling above the stove. The entire room has an air of such cleanliness it's almost sterile, but that is to be expected. It is
Hermione's house, even if her boyfriend is one brute of a Quidditch star.
But, of course, stereotyping is frowned upon.
In the center of the kitchen, the pair of them stand - wrapped in each others arms, doing nothing but breathing. I look at them for a moment, admiring their ability to just take a moment and stop. And then I rap lightly on the door frame with my knuckles, interrupting the beautiful moment. Viktor looks up, alert, but Hermione turns her head and wipes at her eyes. My eyes narrow. Did he make her cry? Why is she crying?
"Good morning," Viktor says, letting Hermione pull away from him. She bends to take more plates from the dish washing contraption she seems to have been unloading, picking out five at a time with one hand and placing them in Viktor's waiting arms. He reaches up to put them in their proper places in a high cabinet - on a shelf that Hermione could not possibly reach without standing on her toes. It is no wonder that she dropped things.
"Morning," I reply, studying Hermione closely. She seems to have composed herself, but I cannot help wondering about her. What on earth has happened here?
Viktor must have noticed my look, for he places a hand on Hermione's shoulder. "I think Mr. Malfoy would like to speak with you, Hermione," he said, looking me in the eye. His gaze is slightly threatening, though why is beyond me.
Hermione straightens up, both hands on the counter as if to steady herself. She simply stands there for a moment, breathing - I watch her shoulders rise and fall. She is tense about something; that much is clear. She has not said a word to me, and whether my 'waking dream' was real or not, she should have at least spoken.
"Is something wrong?" I ask, beginning to worry. Even if she insulted me, I would be relieved. Viktor is verily speaking for her.
Without turning, Hermione takes a shuddering breath and points back toward the hallway. "Go back to your room, Draco. I'll be with you in a moment."
Puzzled, I just follow her request and take a seat on my bed. I am tempted to eavesdrop on whatever is said after I leave the room, but there is nothing to hear - the pair are silent. What on earth have I done to upset them so? Have I even done anything?
Thoughts begin sprinting in a loop through my mind.
If Hermione really did come to bed with me, Viktor must hate me... But that would have been her choice... And what am I doing here, anyway? Why can't I remember what the concrete details, the real ones, of last night?
I am shaking my head, trying to get rid of the strange, blended thoughts when a knock sounds softly from the other side of my door. "Come in," I say, looking up. Rather than Hermione, though, I see Viktor Krum.
I am so incredibly confused.
"I'm sorry about Hermione," Viktor says, shutting the door behind him and sitting in a chair near the window. "She's a bit touchy after one of her moods hits," he explains, but I still do not understand.
"Moods?" I ask, head tilting slightly to the side.
"She didn't tell you?" Viktor says, eyes widening slightly. "Her story?"
I shake my head again, the image of Hermione's cat-like, slinking form slipping to the forefront of my mind. "She was actually tortured?" I ask, bewildered. "I thought... I was dreaming, yes?"
Viktor leans forward in his chair, elbows on his knees. "I don't know. You're badly in need of medical attention, and she meant to give it to you yesterday, but from the way she's acting, things didn't go as planned."
I put a hand to my face. I can almost feel my skin heat up.
He comes to sit on the bed next to me, patting me roughly on the back. "It's alright, you know. I'm fairly certain that you fell asleep while she was talking. At least, that's what I can pick up. I don't think she did anything to you," he says, probably hoping to make me feel better. It does not work.
I get up off the bed, clutching at my hair. Hermione was
tortured. I didn't imagine her telling me that part. But does that mean that the whole kitty act was real, as well, or that I imagined what I saw and heard what she told me? Things are beginning to get complicated.
"I think I am on the edge of going insane," I murmur, mostly to myself.
"You're not," a feminine voice says from the doorway, one that I, for some reason, have failed to even think about while I have been in Hermione's house.
Spinning around, I take a breath when I see her leaning against the open door, Hermione at her side. She smiles at what must be the surprise on my face, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Viktor grinning at us. I cannot care. She is here.
"Astoria," I whisper, and run to her, spinning her around. She squeaks a little, and her eyes sparkle with laughter.
If home is where the heart is, I have found mine again - and now I know why I felt so befuddled here.
Astoria was not here to straighten me out.