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Chapter 5 : Chapter 5
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The next morning Hermione awoke with a headache. She had gone to sleep with her body tense and her mind in turmoil. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Replaying the confrontation with Ron hadn’t really helped. She meant every word she had said, or rather shouted, at him. His actions had only confirmed what she had suspected for some time, which was that her future didn’t include him. She had waited for a couple of years now, hoping that he would show some sign of maturity, to no avail. He would be turning eighteen soon but still had the attitudes and behaviour of a fifteen year old. So he was no longer her concern. They, as an item, were history.
Her other problem was in bed on the other side of the bathroom. Should she, could she, trust him? A week wasn’t long enough to answer that question. She was glad now that he hadn’t allowed her to kiss him, who knows how that would have ended? He was right. They had to give it more time, as he had asked. At the same time I’m dangerously close to falling in love with the new Draco Malfoy, she admitted to herself. She also suspected that if he were to come through the bathroom right now and get into her bed… she would welcome him with open arms. Ron had accused her of doing just that, so she may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb. She threw back her duvet, swung her legs off the bed and headed for the bathroom.
Draco also woke with a headache, and for the same reasons. He had stopped Hermione from kissing him because he felt her motives were not right. She was vulnerable after her fight with Ron, and he would not take advantage of that. The old Malfoy would have been all over her like a rash. The new Malfoy had not even been tempted, knowing that he was on a kind of probation as far as she was concerned. He was just thinking about getting up when he heard activity in the bathroom so he relaxed again. Slowly, I have to go slowly, I have to go slowly, I have to go slowly. I have to ignore the sound of the shower running in the next room, and the vision of a naked, wet Hermione that was currently filling his minds-eye. He wondered if the day would ever come when he was free to walk into the bathroom in such a situation as this. “Bathroom is free Draco.”
A week passed; then two, and three. They were ready to go public with the play and to announce the preliminary timetable for auditions and rehearsals. Hermione and Draco had worked hard, long hours to reach this stage. By this time their personal relationship had not moved one way or the other. Draco was now firmly embedded in his new persona. Hermione was finding it easier and easier to trust him. They had both struggled with their feelings about each other, but had managed to keep their emotions under control by burying them in work.
They were in the apartment finalising the preparations for the next day. They had designed posters. Gabby was summoned and asked to provide a hundred copies and have them placed around the school during the night. Draco had added the last detail; writing in a large cursive script at the top of the page ‘Hermaco Productions Presents’. “So we’re a production company now, are we? When did that happen?” Hermione asked when Gabby had departed.
Draco wanted to say ‘since I fell in love with you’, but he didn’t. They had planned for one audition, two if required, before Christmas, and a final audition in the first week after the holiday. They had one week before the first audition. “We’ve earned a night off, I think” he said. “We have worked bloody hard on this. What shall we do?”
“Well this is NEWT year; I’ve got some revision to get on with. How is your studying going?”
“Quite good, considering I’ve decided not to bother with exams. I don’t need the qualifications to run the Malfoy estate. I have some ideas what I want to do with it and that will be a full time job. It will be a lot easier if I can find someone like you to work with.”
“Someone like me?”
“Yeah, you know, hardworking, observant, with an occasional flash of intelligence.”
“Occasional flash of intelligence? What the hell do you mean by that.” She had expected him to be grinning at his attempt to wind her up; instead he was staring intently at the floor. “I happen to think I’m quite intelligent… all the time.” she said.
“You can’t be that bright. If you were, you would have noticed that I’m in love with you.” He was still examining the carpet. Idiot, he thought, you were supposed to be going slowly, and now…
“What?” she gasped. He looked at her. There could be no going back now.
“You heard me, Hermione; I have fallen in love with you. It is total and irreversible, I have thought of little else for the last month.” He couldn’t figure out the look on her face. Astonishment certainly, and something else. She didn’t speak. He had blown it; should have kept his mouth shut. He stood up “I’m sorry Hermione, forget I said anything. Excuse me, I’m going to bed.” She sat silently as he walked away. He reached his bedroom door,
“Why didn’t you say anything before?” she followed him up the stairs and faced him from a few feet away.
“I… I don’t know. I thought about telling you but I didn’t want to scare you away. I was afraid I was rushing headlong into disaster. I don’t even know why I told you now, I hadn’t planned to, it just happened. I’ll see you in the morning, ‘night Hermione.” He opened his bedroom door and stepped through.
“Draco wait!” she called. He looked around the door,
“Yes?” She was a couple of paces closer,
“Isn’t it customary for lovers to kiss each other goodnight?” Now it was his turn to be astonished.
“I love you too, Draco.” He came out of his room,
“You’re repeating yourself, Draco, and close your mouth, you look silly.” She was smiling, nearly laughing now.
“Hermione, did you say…”
“Did I just say I love you too? Mmm… do you know, I think I did? Yep, I’m pretty sure that’s what I said.”
“Hermione, don’t mess about…” she stepped up to him,
“I’m not messing about…” her head tilted back slightly and she kissed him with one arm around his neck and the other around his waist, his arms were similarly positioned. Knowing there would be more to come they did not prolong the kiss, but remained in a tight embrace. “Draco,” her voice was a whisper, it was all that was necessary, “Let’s go and sit down. We have to talk.” Holding hands they went back to the sofa. Gabby brought them some coffee.
“Well, this is an unexpected end to the day.” Hermione commented. Her stomach was doing backflips.
“That could be the understatement of the year.” He leaned back on the sofa and put his hand on her shoulder and pulled her down to him. Leaning her head on his shoulder,
“I love you.” She said.
“What have I done Hermione? I hope I haven’t messed everything up.”
“We probably shouldn’t tell anyone else yet, but I’m glad we told each other. Look, I don’t want to spoil it, Draco, but can I ask you a question.”
“You can ask me anything you like, Hermione.”
“Can I be sure that the old Draco Malfoy isn’t coming back?”
“Absolutely you can. I’ll tell you why. If I was to revert to that person, you would be gone in an instant. I cannot let that happen. I love you Hermione and I’m not going to do anything to drive you away.”
“Okay, so we say no more about it. I love Draco Malfoy. Whoever would have thought those words would pass my lips?” she turned his face toward her, “Love me, Draco. That’s all I ask of you.” She did not sing the words; her singing voice would have killed the moment. She had many talents, but singing wasn’t one of them.
They talked and kissed and kissed and talked for the next hour, agreeing that outside the apartment they would continue as they had been doing. Pleasant for the most part, with the occasional public ‘row’ to add a bit of colour. Although reluctant to do so, she eventually said,
“Bedtime Draco.” He started to smile that smile. “Draco…”
“I know what you’re going to say, Hermione. Don’t worry; you are driving that particular bus. I’m not in any hurry. That’s a lie of course, but I will wait until you pick me up in your arms and carry me to bed.”
“Two things, Draco. One: never lie to me again. Two: start losing weight.” He laughed.
“Fair enough. But I reserve the right to keep on misconstruing.” They parted at the top of the stairs.
“Be patient please, I need time to get used to all this, to feel a bit more secure about it. Now kiss me goodnight, I need some sleep. See you in the morning.” He kissed her goodnight, that took another ten minutes. They both went to sleep with smiles on their faces.
The next morning during breakfast, the Great Hall was buzzing. Everybody was talking about the play, until Draco and Hermione walked in and, for the first time, sat together at the unoccupied end of the Gryffindor table. They could feel the eyes upon them. Harry and Ginny were curious, Ron was furious. His looks were the ones made up of daggers. He obviously made a comment because Hermione noticed Harry turn on him. Although in the general hubbub she could not hear the words, Harry’s demeanour spoke volumes. He was not best pleased with Ron. Draco could have sworn that he could see steam coming out of Pansy Parkinson’s ears.
They went their separate ways during the day, and spending a lot of time answering questions about the play. Hermione was in a small corridor on her way to the last class of the day when a voice called her. Looking back she saw Harry jogging towards her. “Hey Harry, good to see you.”
“You too Hermione, can I walk with you?”
“So what’s the secret Hermione?” She started, feeling suddenly nauseous.
“Er… secret? What secret would that be, Harry?”
“What have you done to Malfoy? The whole school is talking about how he’s changed this year. I’m surprised you haven’t heard the gossip.”
“Perhaps I’ve been a good influence on him, Harry.”
“Oh come on Hermione, he hated your guts not so long ago, and now you’re spending weekends away from school with him. At your home, no less. What’s changed him, that you seem to trust him now?”
“What changed him? His father died and he’s out from under the influence of that malevolent man. I believe this is the real Draco Malfoy. Did you know that his father used the Cruciatus on him?”
“So he says.”
“So do Dumbledore and McGonagall. She told me before he did. It’s true Harry.” She changed the subject. “How is Ron?”
“Not good. The sooner you two can get back together the better.” She answered, perhaps too quickly.
“That’s not going to happen, Harry. Never. He hurt me too deeply. I can’t forgive him.”
“I didn’t think it was that bad, Hermione. Why do I get the feeling that Malfoy’s involved in this?” Now she was getting angry, resenting the tone of his questions.
“Because I love him Harry.” She blurted out, instantly regretting it. Harry was astonished and surprised. “I love him and he loves me. I’m the only one who knows him now. He has changed. If you like I’ll arrange for you to visit us, you’ll see for yourself. Please Harry; I trust you, if you care for me at all, don’t tell anyone else.”
“Hermione, are you sure you know what you’re doing?” his tone had changed to deep concern.
“Yes, I’m sure. Please Harry; promise me you’ll keep it quiet for now.”
“Of course I will. You know I care for you a lot; I won’t do anything to hurt you, but please Hermione, be careful, be very careful. If you need me, I’m here for you, you know that.” He gave her a hug that proved it.”
The last class of her day dragged on for an eternity. She hadn’t seen Draco since breakfast and she wanted him to hold her and assure her that last night had not been a dream. The class eventually did come to an end and she headed quickly back to the apartment.
Going in, she was in his arms before the door closed behind her. After being reassured by his kiss, her heart rate finally began to slow.
“Hey you, I missed you today. How have you been?” his voice was gentle in her ear.
“I missed you too. It must be at least seven hours since you told me you love me, you should do something about that.”
“You’re right. As soon as I figure out what it is, I’ll do it.” They were laughing now. “I love you, Hermione, don’t ever doubt it.”
“Mmmm, that’s better. I love you Draco.”
“So how was your day?”
“Long and lonely without you. I bumped into Harry, we had a chat and I told him about us.” He took a step backwards.
“YOU… DID… WHAT?”
“I… I told him about…” she hadn’t expected this reaction and it scared her.
“Less than twenty-four hours ago we agreed not to tell anyone and now you’ve told him? What were you thinking? I thought I could trust you. This is unbelievable; not even one day.” He was looking around the room, floor, ceiling, walls; anywhere but at her. “Excuse me, I’ve suddenly remembered I have to go out.” He brushed past her and out of the door, before she could beg him to stay.
What have I done? She asked herself, collapsing on the sofa and crying. Oh God what have I done?
Draco had no idea where he was going and really cursed his luck when, turning a corner, saw Harry Potter coming towards him. “Just the guy I wanted to see. Have you got a minute to talk?” Draco’s instinct was to keep walking, but for some reason he stopped.
“If this is to tell me to keep away from Hermione, save your breath. I intend to.”
“She told me that she told you about us. Only last night we agreed we wouldn’t tell anybody. I can’t love someone I don’t trust.”
“Bloody hell Malfoy.” Said Harry. He opened a classroom nearby door. “Get in here mate, we need to talk.” Draco complied almost meekly.
“Tell me the truth,” Harry began, “do you love her?”
“Yes I do, but…”
“No buts, Malfoy. Do you believe she loves you? Because I do.”
“I don’t know any more.”
“Make yourself comfortable, major lecture coming up.”
“Why do you believe she loves me?”
“Because I know Hermione Granger better than you do. Let me tell you about her. Hermione and I love each other. Not romantically, more like brother and sister. I would walk through fire for her and she knows it. If she asked me for the moon I’d find a way to get it for her. Okay, now you know where I’m coming from. First there’s the Hermione that everyone knows, bright, intelligent, academic over-achiever. She will help anybody, Ron would have been lucky to get one OWL without her help. Then there is the girl that I know. In matters of the heart she struggles. Ron threw a blanket over her emotions; he was not good for her. I’ve thought that for some time, and I suspect she does too. I think he stifled her emotionally.”
“Why do I believe she loves you? Because when we were talking she looked radiant, excited. I’ve never seen her look like that. I’ll let you into a little secret Draco. Her eyes. If you ever want to know if she is telling you the truth, or what she’s feeling, look into her eyes, not at her eyes, into her eyes. They will tell you all you need to know. Now let me tell you what just happened. She told you that I knew about the two of you, you got angry, said something bad and walked out. Correct?”
“Then do you want to know what she’s doing now?”
“She is sitting back on a couch or in an armchair with her head back as far as it will go. She’s holding a white handkerchief wrapped around her index finger to dab at the tears running down her face. She is quiet, Hermione doesn’t do hysterical. She wants you to come back, but is dreading what might happen when you do.”
“She told me about you because she and I are that close. If I was to ask her when her next period was due, she would tell me without a second thought, and you know how girls are about that stuff. If you are serious about her you should be prepared to see a lot of me around. Now I think you should go and make it up. Don’t let it brew, get it sorted.”
“I didn’t come here to tell you anything. I came to ask you a favour. Please don’t mess her around, don’t hurt her, she is too special for that. Be good to her and she will give you everything she has. Heart, soul, life. Everything. If you are the one, then you are a very fortunate guy and I envy you. She is not soft either; she won’t let you walk over her.”
“All you have said begs the question, Harry. Why not you?”
“A question I’ve often pondered and I’ve never found an answer to. Go on Draco, go and make things right. Don’t mess it up.” Draco went to the door,
“Harry, come to the apartment tonight about eight, bring Ginny. See you then. Thanks Harry.”
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