Chapter 6 : Chapter 6
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Returning to the apartment Draco mulled over his conversation with Harry. It’s strange, he thought, here’s a guy who apparently loves Hermione as much as I do, and yet he’s no rival for Hermione’s love. Those two have a great relationship, but it’s not the sort of relationship I want to have with her. He gave the word to Edmund.
Hermione was sitting just as Harry had described her. He walked slowly towards her stopping a couple of feet away. “Hermione.” She looked up at him,
“Draco.” Her eyes were red and moist. He held his arms open,
“Come here.” she did not move. “Hermione, please.”
“Where have you been?” she asked quietly, “No, you don’t have to answer that, I have no right to ask you that. It’s your business, nothing to do with me.”
“I’ve been at a lecture.”
“It’s six-thirty, Draco. There are no lectures at this time.”
“It’s a special course I’m taking.”
“Oh really, what is the subject?”
“The course title is Hermione Granger 101. Harry is the lecturer. He’s told me a lot about you. You’re very lucky to have a friend like him.”
“I know it, Draco. So what happens now?”
“You come here, Hermione, please. I love you, come on… honey.” Moving slowly she stood up. He reached out for her and put his arms around her shoulders. Her arms remained folded across her chest, her head was lowered. “I’m sorry Hermione. I reacted badly and I’m sorry. Please believe me. Please don’t let something this trivial change things. I love you and right now I’m scared to death.”
“Me too, Draco. I wouldn’t call it trivial, I betrayed your trust. I shouldn’t have told Harry. I’m sorry.”
“Okay Hermione, the score is one each. The game is over, it’s a tie. The game is history. Forget it. We should get cleaned up, we’re having visitors at eight, Harry and Ginny are coming over.”
“I’ll go and freshen up, I must look a mess.” There was still sadness in her voice.
“I promised I’d never lie to you again, so yes, you look a mess.” She tried to pull away from him, but he wouldn’t let go. “Haven’t you forgotten something, Hermione?” he tilted her chin up and finally got to look into her eyes. He wanted to know them as well as Harry did. He kissed her and she responded.
“I love you Draco, I’m so sorry, and as far as my appearance is concerned, please lie to me when necessary.” Draco was a little relieved when he saw her smile. We’ll be okay, he thought, the nervousness in his stomach settling down.
Hermione and Draco were going over the plans for audition day when Edmund interrupted their discussion. “Mr Harry Potter and his young lady are here.”
“Thank you, Edmund. Let them in please.” Hermione said, making her way to greet their visitors. “Hello you two. Ginny, if you go on in, I need to have a word with Harry.” When Ginny was gone Hermione looked at Harry, “Thank you, Harry. Thank you for understanding me, better than I do myself. I should have known that I can rely on you.”
“I only told Draco the truth, Hermione. No need to thank me for that.” They followed Ginny into the main room. Draco and Ginny were chatting about nothing in particular. Ginny fronted up.
“I really think it’s about time that one of you three told me what’s going on. Something is in the air, I can smell it, and it ain’t a fart.”
“Draco, have you met my refined, genteel girlfriend?” Harry asked.
“I think I’ve seen her around the place,” Draco offered his hand to Ginny. “How do you do Miss? Please call me Draco.”
“I’ll call you all something if somebody doesn’t start putting me in the picture in the next thirty seconds.”
“What do you think is going on, Ginny?” Hermione was warming to the game.
“That’s just the point, Hermione, I don’t know. I thought that you were going to say that you and Draco were going to play Romeo and Juliet.” She looked around at Draco and Harry. They both looked more enigmatic than the Mona Lisa. It only infuriated her more.
“Well we are, in a way. Except it’s not in the play, its real life. We love each other.” Hermione said. Ginny’s facial expression didn’t change, merely glancing from Hermione to Draco and back again.
“So you two are er… an item. Well, what a let down, I’ve known that for a couple of weeks.”
“Yeah right,” Harry snorted disdainfully, “You knew, of course you did.”
“I did. It was obvious, Hermione. Whenever I’ve seen you in the last two weeks, you’ve been bright eyed, your skin looks great and you are paying more attention to your hair and makeup. The smile has never left your face and there’s been a spring in your step. I mean, come on, what else could it be?”
“I didn’t know I was that obvious.” A sheepish Hermione responded.
“You can’t tell anyone, Ginny.” Harry told her.
“I’m not worried about that Harry,” said Hermione looking the other girl directly in the eye, “she knows how to keep a secret, don’t you… Red.” Ginny’s eyes narrowed and her cheeks took on a pinkish tinge. Harry couldn’t miss it, but he didn’t know the cause. Ginny’s mind was racing, shocked that Hermione knew her secret. She wouldn’t tell though, of that Ginny was certain.
The visitors stayed for ninety minutes. Draco saw them out and on his return he saw that Hermione had her hankie out again, holding it to her eyes. “Hermione?”
“I’m sorry Draco, I can’t help it. I don’t understand but I feel so bad.” Draco sat beside her and pulled her to him.
“Take your time, love. I’m here.”
“You trusted me Draco, and I let you down. I told practically the first person I spoke to…”
“If it had been anyone but Harry, would you have told?” she was silent as she considered her reply.
“No, I don’t think I would, but even so…”
“Hermione, I think the kind of relationship that you and Harry share is very rare. You love each other, that is obvious, but it’s not a romantic love. You could no more keep a secret from him than I could fly to the moon. You haven’t damaged my trust in you. I will trust you until… oh, I don’t know… until the day I catch you in bed with Greg Goyle.” Hermione smiled.
“I’m seeing him tomorrow.” Half a giggle escaped her lips.
“There you are, you can’t possibly be miserable with a rotten sense of humour like that.”
“Let’s go to bed, Draco. Together.” Her eyes. He remembered Harry’s words. He looked into her eyes. There was sadness there, but he could see no real desire.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s too soon Hermione. I explained it to you the other night, those are still my reasons. I feel as though I would be taking advantage of your wish to expiate your feelings that you have let me down. You haven’t let me down Hermione, I love you, I trust you. Perhaps it’s down to me to prove that to you. I wish I had the answer right now, but I don’t. I want to be able to make love to you because you want me to, not because you see it as a way to correct an imagined wrong.”
“That’s twice you have rejected an advance from me. What am I doing wrong?”
“Nothing. That’s just silly verging on stupid, Hermione; it’s your motive that troubles me. You have nothing to prove to me, Hermione. When we do make love, and we will, it’s going to be a happy time. You are not happy now and, for me at least, that would spoil it. I’m sorry if I’m not explaining it very well. I don’t know what else to say.”
“Thank you for being so honest. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll go to bed now.”
“Okay, I’ll see you in the morning.” She closed the distance between them in a heartbeat and flung her arms around his neck.
“I do love you, Draco; I’m scared I’m messing it up. I don’t think I’m very good with people. I so want this to work.”
“Hermione, go to sleep knowing that I love you and I trust you and that I will feel the same way tomorrow.” They kissed. It was beautiful. The kiss started to calm her fears. Could anybody kiss like that and not mean it? She didn’t think so.
“Goodnight Draco.” She walked to her room.
She was getting ready for bed when her cramps started. Well perhaps that accounts for my mood, she thought. All things considered she slept reasonably well, waking when she felt a weight settle on her bed. Lips lightly brushed her forehead as she opened her eyes to see a smiling Draco looking down at her. “I hope you don’t mind me being in here, I’ve brought you a cup of coffee.”
Smiling up at him she said, “No I don’t mind. In fact I could quickly get used to this. Girls… well this girl at least, likes a little pampering now and then.” He gently brushed the hair from her forehead, letting it run softly through his fingers. Her dark brown eyes were sparkling and her lips, slightly parted, looked so inviting.
“Are you always this beautiful in the mornings?” she felt as though she could see the love pouring from his eyes into hers.
“Nice try, Draco. I thought you promised never to lie to me again.”
“Yes I did. If you remember you said that as far as your appearance was concerned I should lie to you when necessary.”
“I did say that, didn’t I? Silly me!” he went to kiss her, she turned her head aside. “Er, Draco, that’s not a good idea until I’ve cleaned my teeth.” He turned her face back to him,
“I’ll be the judge of that.” He lowered his lips to hers and after a few seconds her arm curled around his neck. Whispered ‘I love you’s’ went back and forth.
“I’m sorry about yesterday, I’m afraid it was something we girls have to put up with. I’m feeling better today.”
“That’s good. I’m going for a shower; see you downstairs in a while.”
Heading down to breakfast they had the dubious pleasure of bumping into Pansy Parkinson. Her bitter words poured forth,
“Hi Draco, how are you? Granger, you pregnant yet?” Hermione beat Draco to the reply. She smiled sweetly and spoke pleasantly,
“No Pansy dear, at least not yet. Don’t worry though, when I am I’ll make sure you are the first to know. After Draco, of course. I think it’s so important to tell the father first, don’t you? See you around, Pansy, we really have to go.” They left a scarlet-faced Parkinson fuming and blustering, complete with clenched fists and stamping feet. A minute later, out of Pansy’s hearing, Draco spluttered into laughter,
“That was b-e-a-utiful. Did you see her face? You were fantastic; you shut her up far more effectively than I could have. Bloody well done!”
“Thank you. I’m afraid my inner bitch shows herself from time to time. It felt good.”
“No problem Hermione, just keep your inner bitch away from me please.”
Entering the Hall for breakfast they were met by Professor McGonagall. “Ah, there you are, wait here for a minute; Professor Dumbledore has an announcement to make.” Dumbledore rose from his seat and addressed the students.
“Your attention please,” he waited for the chatter to subside. “Firstly, due to an unsavoury incident a few weeks ago, Miss Parkinson, of Slytherin is no longer a school prefect. I also wish to announce that from today the positions of Head Boy and Girl will be ‘House Neutral’, that is to say that they will not be affiliated to a particular House. So Mr Malfoy is no longer a Slytherin, and Miss Granger is no longer a Gryffindor. Accordingly they will take their meals up here at the staff tables.” He summoned Hermione and Draco forward. He waved his wand at them and they watched as the house insignia on their robes changed to a new design incorporating the symbols of all four houses. “You may sit at any empty place… except mine! Please see me in my office at noon. I have something to discuss with you and I shall want an update on your plans for the play.”
Draco had a free period before lunch and spent the time collating a presentation about the play for Dumbledore. Five minutes before twelve he met Hermione at the foot of the stairs to the headmaster’s office, looking around they risked a quick kiss.
Fifteen minutes later Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and pronounced himself satisfied with their progress on the play. “Now, changing the subject. This is of course your NEWT year. Between the play and your studies life must be pretty hectic. I have been in discussions with the NEWT Examiners and together we have reviewed your academic records for the entire time you have been at the school. They were most impressed with your achievements. So much so that they have waived the requirement for you to sit examinations, and subject to an informal interview, you will receive your qualifications before the Christmas holidays. The interviews will not be a subject based question and answer session, but a broad discussion of magic as a whole; they will take simultaneously place next week."
"Your qualifications will not be NEWTS but the Diploma of Magical Education. Commonly shortened to DipME, and you will be able to use the letters after your name. It’s a little known, rarely conferred, but highly valued distinction. The last recipient of this award was our own Professor McGonagall. Expect the interviews to take between two and three hours. The examiners will then confer and you will have their decision before they leave the school. Any questions?”
“Not from me, sir,” said Draco, “as you are aware I wasn’t going to sit the exams, but I will attend the interview.”
“Very good, Draco. Oh, by the way this came for you just before our meeting.” He handed Draco a thick envelope.
“Hermione, you’re looking a bit nonplussed, any questions from you?”
“No headmaster, I’m still trying to take it all in. I mean a Diploma, it’s… it’s incredible.” Draco finished reading his letter.
“Headmaster, it appears that I will have to remain at Hogwarts for Christmas. The demolition of Malfoy Manor that I ordered has begun. I don’t have a home to go to.”
Hermione chattered excitedly all the way to the apartment. The prospect of being awarded the Diploma thrilled her beyond sensible words. Once inside Draco tried to calm her down. “You’re going to blow a gasket, Hermione.” He hugged her “Hush now, I can’t kiss you while your jaw is flapping.” She smiled up at him,
“Sorry, is this better?” she pushed her lips into an exaggerated trout pout. This made speaking difficult, “’oo ‘an ‘iss ‘e ‘ow.”
“What’s this? A sense of humour? Where did that come from?”
“It’s like my inner bitch; it doesn’t show itself very often. But when it does…” she grabbed his waist and started to tickle. He was laughing when he caught her wrists,
“Hey, don’t do that.”
“Aw, is the big Head Boy scared of the ickle Head Girl. Come on baby, let Mummy hug it better.”
“Okay, Granger, don’t start something you can’t finish.”
“Hey, that sounds like a threat, okay big man, do your best.”
“Right, you asked for it. This is going to be soooo easy.” He eased her back to the sofa and stood watching her. “First, I think I’ll kiss you.” He pulled her toward him: she resisted and then pulled away. That was when he let go of her wrists. She collapsed back onto the seat, turning around he picked up her legs at the ankles and trapped one under each arm, flipping off her shoes he glanced round to see her desperately trying to keep her skirt from sliding up, or was it down, her upraised thighs. “You ready for this?” he asked. He began to tickle her feet, gently at first then harder, she squirmed and protested,
“Ahh, stop it… stop it Draco… please no, stop. Stop it… stoppit, stoppit you git.” Her loud screaming reached Edmunds ears.
“Is everything alright in there, shall I summon assistance?” Draco yelled a reply,
“No, everything is fine.” Hermione kept screaming for him to stop. He finally relented and placed her feet back on the floor. Leaning over her he looked into her eyes
“Learn the lesson, Granger, don’t mess with the man.” Just for a moment he sounded like the old Malfoy. That un-nerved her a little.
“Draco, don’t… don’t speak like that. You sounded like… him.”
“I’m sorry, love, I wasn’t thinking. Come here.” he embraced her, “Don’t be scared, he’s not coming back. You know I’m always right.” She looked at him, her dark eyes moist,
“You’re not so clever, you got one thing wrong today.” She replied smugly.
“Oh yeah? What?”
“When you said you didn’t have a home to go to. You do. Mine! You’ll come home with me for Christmas.”
“No buts Draco, no arguments. I’ll let Mum and Dad know. Unless, of course, you don’t want to spend the holiday with me.”
“I can’t imagine a better holiday than that. Thank you. Don’t you normally go to the Weasley’s for Christmas?”
“Yes, I’ll have to see Ginny and explain. I’m sure she’ll understand. Now then, auditions tomorrow, let’s go over the plans again, and then we should get to bed, it’s going to be a long day.
“Permission to misconstrue again, Miss.”
“Denied.” She laughed. But probably not for much longer, she thought. They spent a couple of hours going over the events of the next day. They expected about twenty or twenty-five people to turn up. They would allow ten or fifteen minutes for each. They should be finished in plenty of time for dinner.
Hermione lay in bed thinking of Draco. I do love him, of that I’m sure. Do I love him enough to commit to a physical relationship? Stop being so bloody analytical, Hermione! Ask yourself the damn question. Do you want to sleep with, that is, have sex with Draco Malfoy? Do you want him to be your first lover? ‘First lover?’ How many are you planning on having, Hermione? Five, ten? Who is next, Ron? Harry? Ginny? Whoa, Ginny..? Where the hell did that come from? Stop this now! It’s time to pee or get off the pot.
She imagined herself in this bed beside Draco, his arm around her shoulders, her head on his chest. His hand softly stroking the skin of her back. They were kissing. His tongue playing around her lips, his touch making her shiver. I want to make love to him. Yes, I want him as my lover. She knew that she only had to get out of bed, walk through the bathroom to his room and her wish would materialise. She lay still. She wouldn’t feel comfortable making the first move; she would let Draco lead the way. When the time came, she would follow willingly.
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