Chapter 4 : The Constraints of Marriage
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Hermione, having been reading for hours and more than halfway into her book, stopped in the middle of a page. From what she could tell, and from what Hinds had said, neighbors were scarce. The only time that she may even come in contact with others would be when she needed to go food shopping. And then what..? A few hi’s and hellos and short glances to strangers. There would be no way to hide the fact that she and Draco were new to town. With such a small community like this certainly everyone knew each other. She imagined that they would be friendly. They’d ask her where she lived; probably wanting to drop off their special meatloaf and pies in order to welcome the newcomers.
How on earth would Hermione be able to tell them no? She wasn’t a “newcomer.” She was in witness protection and fraternizing only led to people knowing your name and having it spread abroad until it reached unwanted ears.
But then Hermione sighed. She had caught sight of herself in the reflection of a very clean window and had been reminded that she looked nothing like her true self. Making friends was okay she supposed and then scowled at seeing that her unlovable counterpart was well on his way to doing so.
Hermione rose from the sofa, stiff, but pushing through it, and moved closer to the window. She saw Draco who was having a hearty conversation with a painstakingly beautiful blonde. She was laughing girlishly –the kind of laugh that all women gave when wanting to prove to the man she was talking to that his joke was truly that funny. Hermione snorted when the mysterious woman put her hands on her hips. Her shirt was a little loose on her, but with the new position of her hands anyone could see it clearly: the perfect waist. She was flirting with him all right, and how easily Draco was falling into it.
“Men,” Hermione huffed, looked down at her own hands and took notice of the wedding ring that she was wearing. All of a sudden she took up staring out of the window again and then produced a wicked smile. She left the lounge and quickly made her way to the front of the house. Opening the door widely and leaning on the doorframe, she said loudly, “Oh Ian, darling!”
Both Draco and the unnamed woman turned to look at her. The woman was surprised to see her and Draco seemed to be muttering “Avada Kedvra,” but sadly the poor guy didn’t have a wand.
“Ian, sweetheart, the tea I made for you is going to be ice cold if you don’t hurry yourself back in here.” Hermione smiled and then addressed the stranger. “I’m Nicolette. Ian’s wife,”
“Wife…really?” The woman said with a gentle laugh. It was a laugh to ward off tension, Hermione knew, and it made her smile all the more bigger. “Well, I’m Janice. Ian here didn’t say he was married.” She laughed yet again.
Hermione laughed along with her and took a contented breath as she noticed that Draco’s faux wedding band was missing. “Of course he didn’t. He always starts rambling on. His ring would’ve done the talking if I wasn’t getting it engraved for him. My little gift to him for our third wedding anniversary,”
“That’s sweet, truly.” Janice lauded. “Well, I must get going then. I suppose I’ll be seeing the two of you again soon. Welcome to Delamere.”
Hermione waved goodbye and walked into the house. She went straight towards the fireplace to start a fire since it was a little chilly and hummed happily to herself as she heard the door close and angry footsteps.
“I take it you don’t mean that as a compliment.”
Draco groaned. “A few hours… Can I get just a few hours without you hovering over me?”
“Certainly, but only if you don’t forget that we’re married,” Hermione emphasized and showed him her left hand for good measure. Draco rolled his eyes and pulled out the ring that Hinds had given him from his pocket.
“Apparently you’ve forgotten that this bloody marriage isn’t real.”
Draco tossed the ring absentmindedly and Hermione amazingly caught it with her cupped hands. She gave a quick sigh of relief and placed the ring on the coffee table. “Of course I haven’t forgotten. If I had I would’ve killed you myself for that stunt you just pulled. Our lives are on the line, Malfoy. You can’t risk them the way you just did.”
Draco sucked his teeth. Hermione could tell that he was contemplating what she said, and without another word he walked over to the coffee table and snatched up the ring. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say that you were jealous of that woman.”
Hermione gave a loud “Ha!” Perhaps too loud of a “ha” because it made Draco smirk some, as if that much exerted energy was an exaggeration which pointed to a lie. Either way, she stood her ground.
“I don’t envy anyone. Especially not women that giggle like idiots at everything the male gender has to say. For Merlin’s sake, doesn’t it even bother you?”
Draco cocked a brow. “Does what bother me?”
“Oh, come on. You must realize that whenever strangers meet they take in appearances. That Janice woman was interested in what Ian Groves looks like. Not you,”
Frowning, Draco gave a slight huff. Before finally turning away from her, he mentioned that Janice had talked to him long enough. “I do have something called a personality, Granger.”
To that Hermione ignored and went back to the sanctuary of the lounge. She didn’t want to say that Ian Groves’ face was far more appealing than Draco’s personality.
The night approached quickly and Hermione found that she couldn’t sleep. Draco had retired to his bedroom long before she had and hadn’t properly shut the door after himself. She had peeked inside before retreating to her own room and remarked how quickly he had comfortably settled there. And why shouldn’t he? The bedroom was a place of solitude. A home within a home, if you will –and yet Hermione was angrily punching her pillows and wrapping herself in her bed sheets trying to achieve the same amount of tranquility that Draco had found so easily.
She had found it eventually, but found it a little late. The sun rose an hour or so after Hermione had finally drifted off into a decent sleep. She hadn’t stayed in it long either. Her body naturally didn’t allow her to sleep when the sun was firmly set in the sky, and when Hermione took a look at the clock that sat on the night table she groaned. Only three hours of sleep.
Hermione was surprised to see Draco awake. He struck her as the type to sleep in, not be up at the crack of dawn. He was stretched out on the sofa with an arm draped over his eyes. When her feet had reached the landing, he raised his arm some and put it back down.
“About time you got up. I’ve been down here nearly starved to death.”
Hermione cocked a brow. “You’ve got two hands don’t you? You could’ve made something yourself.”
Draco removed his arm from his face and sat up. His words were almost inaudible, but Hermione heard it just the same. “I don’t think we need to go down that road again.”
Hermione walked straight into the kitchen to avoid responding to that comment and to hide her smile. It was completely believable that Draco Malfoy hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to maneuver in a kitchen –with or without the display of that inability yesterday. She imagined that the Malfoy family had plenty of house elves besides Dobby who did the cleaning and cooking. Draco would’ve had to simply call for one of them when he was hungry and most certainly would’ve been presented with a gourmet meal.
And now all at once Hermione found herself scowling. It suddenly occurred to her that she was cooking for the man. She had taken the place of one of his house elves and it was driving her mad. If only she wasn’t just as hungry as he was. She’d let him starve.
As Hermione began taking out the necessary items for that morning’s breakfast she began to frown. “We’re going to have to go into town sometime today.” She turned from the stove to Draco who had taken a seat at the kitchen counter and began smiling in a taunting manner.
“Excuse me? Miss I-Won’t-Let-Draco-Make-Any-Friends-And-Confine-Him-To-Hell wants to go exploring in the real world?”
“Oh, so flirting is how you make friends is it? What do you have to do to find a lover I wonder?” Hermione rolled her eyes. “As much as I’d rather stay here, we’re going to run out of food soon. If you want to eat tonight we’re going to have to go.”
“With what money..? I’ve yet to find that bank book we’re supposed to have.”
“You didn’t choose the bedroom that had it.”
Hermione went into her pocket and tossed the bank book to him. Draco opened it up as she turned back to the cooking. He huffed satisfyingly and snapped it shut. “Not too bad for country folk.”
Yes, not too bad at all… Hermione agreed. She had found the bank book before going to bed the previous night. She had been rummaging through the drawers of her bureau to try to find something to wear to bed. To her dismay all she could find were silk gowns that went no longer than her knees and revealed much too much of her chest. It was there she had found the bank book. As for something to sleep in, Hermione had snatched the first t-shirt that caught her eye and a pair of long-johns.
“Why are you so determined to leave?” Hermione asked as she slid a plate of scrambled eggs, ham, and a slice of toast that he’d have to butter himself towards him. Draco’s upper lip curled in annoyance.
“What a stupid question. Didn’t I just call this place a hell? Why are you so determined to stay?”
“Does the term ‘witness protection’ come to your mind at all?”
Draco gave a “humph” as he dug into his breakfast. Hermione shook her head at him as she began to eat as well.
“Witness protection doesn’t mean that you’re dead, Granger. Besides, wasn’t it you who said that we’d might as well make the most of it?”
Hermione nodded. “But I meant that in the line of us arguing. Having us be so open is dangerous.”
“We don’t look like ourselves.” Draco pressed. “How can it be?”
“Two newcomers settle into a quaint muggle country town, while Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy disappear from the public eye. Doesn’t that strike you as strange? Especially to someone like Iverson who’s most definitely hunting us?”
Draco pursed his lips. He took a deep breath and gave a gentle nod. “Yes, okay. But no matter what we do word will still spread about us. Either about the two newcomers who the people around here will want to meet, or the two newcomers who keep to themselves and are probably hiding a secret, which we are.
‘I’d suggest you pick your poison. As for me, I’d rather die at the hand of fresh air, thanks.”
author's note: HI THERE!!! so my favorite part of this chap has definitely got to be when hermione puts a stop on draco's fun lol. i swear, the best thing about hermione and draco is the fact that most often than not they live to contradict each other in everything they do. it's great writing material haha!!!
anywho, i posted this just before i have to head into my night class. so, time for me to gather my books and run to class! hope that you liked the chap!!
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