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Chapter 6 : Celebrating in Comfort
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“I wonder what they’d think.” Hermione laughed to herself. She was talking about the idea of her living with Draco. She hated to admit it, but things were going well.
Whether she wanted to believe it or not, a month had passed since she and Draco had moved into the quaint little cottage. Daily routines varied day by day, but the same things usually took place: Hermione made breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Draco spent his time in either his room or in front of the fireplace, she spent her time in either the upstairs or downstairs lounge, and an unknown fact about either one of them was spilled before the night was over.
Hermione wouldn’t dare say Draco was a friend. She wouldn’t even call him an acquaintance. She had decided three and a half weeks in that he was a tolerable human being a little more than half the time. She wondered what he was calling her?
In the mean time, their presence in the small town didn’t stay quiet. Neither Janice nor Robbie had stopped by the cottage and it broke Draco and Hermione’s heart all the while making the other smile. When they did drop by though, it was with five other guests whom Janice and Robbie thought the Groves should meet.
Now the newcomers had friends. There was Mr. and Mrs. Cohen who lived at cottage 309. They were elderly and sweet and brought by their famous plum pudding and a photo album with all their children and grandchildren in it. There was Chester Bonds who was a woodsman who spent most of his time cutting down trees and transporting the wood to nearby towns. Angelique Stoddard, cottage 318, despised Chester for destroying the lovely forests they had around them, but rolled her eyes at him and Ernest Watson, the son of Ford Watson, who laughed at her and told her to leave ole Chester alone.
Hermione couldn’t help but feel loved by these people though she was only meeting them for the first time. And even though Draco was trying to hide it, he had liked them too. Three weeks after the little party, she had been surprised to see him looking like a true woodsman with the clothes he was wearing. When she had asked what was with the outfit, Draco’s face downright tinged to a deep shade of red as he mumbled, “I’m going with Chester to deliver some wood…”
Delamere was an experience, truly. The Illusion Charm had begun to run deep three weeks prior –so deep that though Hermione and Draco were in disguise to other people, they were no longer in disguise to each other. It made Hermione forget why she was at the cottage in the first place. She and Draco were running away from a killer. Simple as that. But what Iverson was doing and what he was planning was a complete secret to her. He was after Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy, not Nicolette and Ian Groves. The only mention of him to them would be if there was a development in the case. Hinds would contact them then, but there was no telling when that day was going to come.
And did she even want it to come? Hermione had settled nicely into Delamere the moment she had arrived there. It didn’t matter with whom she was sharing her life with. He had become less of a pest and more of annoying gentle itch.
Hermione began to giggle. She remembered a day last week when Draco was grumbling about something stuck in his eye that he couldn’t get out. Tired of his complaints she had gone over to him and told him to hold still so she could take a look. She told him that she saw nothing and then ordered him to look up to the ceiling. Draco thought it a ridiculous request, but it was only so that Hermione could do a ridiculous thing. She poked him quickly in the stomach and he looked at her like she was mad.
“What did you do that for?” Draco demanded, and all Hermione did was ask him if he still felt something in his eye. He was about to retort angrily, but then stopped, and then stared at her bemused. She was smiling broadly and then so was he. “You’re a nutter.”
“I’ll take that as a thank you.”
She had laughed after that. Hermione was laughing now as a matter of fact and thought of how she’d miss it. The whole situation that is. The peace and the laughs.
“Drifting off into your own world there, Granger?”
Hermione looked up. She had been reading a book in the upstairs lounge when her thoughts had taken hold of her. She hadn’t even known when Draco had stepped into the room or when he had taken his stance directly in front of her.
“Sorry, standing there long, were you?”
“Long enough to know that if there’d been a fire, you’d been dead a long time ago,”
Hermione rolled her eyes and repositioned herself so that Draco could sit on the sofa as well. He had an invitation card in his hand and he passed it over to her so that she could see it. “Aw, the Cohens are having a little party. Sounds like fun.”
“It’s a front.”
Draco took back the invitation and chucked it aside. “Ford told me this morning. Someone,” He emphasized. “Let it slip that Mr. and Mrs. Groves’ wedding anniversary was a week and a half ago. It’s never too late to celebrate an anniversary, so Ford says.”
Hermione couldn’t help but blush. That “someone” was her. She had been talking to Mrs. Cohen one day while checking the mailbox and the elderly woman passed by on a very long walk. They had begun talking about marriage and Hermione so happened to mention that she and “Ian” had just made it pass their third anniversary. It hadn’t been a farfetched lie. She had remembered reading it in the bios Hinds had given her and Draco.
“It was casual talk.” Hermione defended. She reached over him unabashedly and picked up the invitation. “I didn’t think she’d plan a surprise party for us.”
“Yeah, well, it’s happening. So let’s try not to make things look so forced, alright?”
Draco got up from the sofa and began heading towards the door until Hermione stopped him. “Forced? What do you mean forced?”
“I mean this: try not to jump out of your skin when I grab you by the waist or something. Married people do do that you know.”
As Draco left, Hermione huffed. She didn’t “jump out of her skin” as he referred to it. She just became a little…startled is all. It wasn’t that she was nervous around a man. Granted there wasn’t a long list of boyfriends in her past, but she felt quite comfortable around men. There was Harry and Ron for example. They were men and her two best friends. They had held her by the waist, grabbed her by the hand, and kissed her on the cheeks plenty of times so that feeling jittery around men was rather wasted on her.
And yet when Draco did it made her feel off. Hermione squirmed when he was anywhere near her, let alone rubbing his hand on her shoulder or whispering something in her ear. There weren’t many instances where any of this was necessary, but just when they went to town or were hosting or being hosted by guests. An overly obsessive display of affection wasn’t necessary, but some was. Luckily kissing hadn’t needed to come into play. The day that happened, Hermione would surely jump out of her skin as Draco implied and leave it in his hands.
Hermione had spotted classy, semi-formal dresses in the back of the closet but had never paid any attention to them. Tonight she had and she immediately passed three of them by. The first was red, too bright for her liking, the second was a deep blue, but much too short, and the third was a tacky yellow that went terribly with her complexion –both hers and Nicolette’s.
In the end she had settle on a simple black cocktail dress. It was every woman’s fallback dress, and Hermione found that it fit her heavenly. It was a strapless dress with a corset-like fit from chest to waist. After that it was a loose fit, so that it swayed when she walked and gave her a feel of a great wind blowing and springing her dress up when she twirled in a circle.
Accessorized with black open-toed shoes that had a thin strap around the ankle and a thin silver necklace and diamond studs, Hermione felt complete. Her hair had been pinned up with loose strands messily yet perfectly place at the sides of her face. Just as she opened her bedroom door to head to Draco’s room she found him standing there, hand outstretched like he was getting ready to knock.
“You look nice.” Draco said as he let his hand fall to his side. Hermione said that he did as well. He was dressed in slacks and a black button-up shirt. Neither one of them had told the other what they had been planning to wear, but they matched nonetheless. Not only was that in their own opinion, but all of their friends said so as well.
“The both of you are absolutely adorable!” Janice declared, and Hermione paraded herself with Draco directly in front of her just to gloat. It wasn’t her style, but then again the woman did try to hit on her “husband.”
The Cohens immediately told Draco and Hermione that the party was for them when they arrived. “Mr. and Mrs. Groves” feigned surprise and thanked them for the wonderful gesture. The food had been donated by the Farmers’ restaurant, cottage 322, and the music was complimentary from Donald Pont, who owned a record shoppe. Hermione felt like an honored guest and she was sure that Draco had never smiled so much in his life.
Angelique stood in the middle of the room and tapped her glass with a spoon. “Alright everyone..! Quiet down, quiet down! Now this, as you all know, is the anniversary party for Nicolette and Ian Groves. And I think it’s high time that we learned how these two wonderful people met. Come on,” She gestured to Hermione and Draco. “Let’s hear it!”
Hermione and Draco had exchanged nervous glances. Out of all the things they had prepared for, neither one of them had thought of this. What would they say? At this point in time, having completely been put on the spot, there was nothing they could say short of the truth.
“We met in school.” Draco started. He seemed to be nervous. Hermione was too she had to admit. Everyone in the room had their eyes on them. Now normally she tried to avoid staring Draco directly in the eyes, but at this moment in time it was the only place she could look that gave her comfort. “We were very young and not exactly the best of friends.”
Draco chuckled and Hermione smiled. She nodded to that and took a deep breath. “That’s an understatement. We hated each other. You called me every name in the book.”
“Only because you thought you knew everything.”
Everyone in the room laughed at that.
“But you did know everything, didn’t you?” Draco said to her. “You were a brilliant wi…woman.” He corrected himself. “No one could deny that.”
“And you were misunderstood.” Hermione gently laughed to herself and cupped the side of her face with her hand. “Misunderstood by everyone and especially by me… Until unforeseen circumstances brought us together,”
Draco nodded knowingly. “And we’ve been together ever since.”
Unknown to either of them the room erupted in applause. All Draco and Hermione had seen and heard right then and there were each other, and that feeling lasted for several minutes afterwards until their trances were broken by someone asking if they wanted champagne.
They were driven home. By who, neither Hermione nor Draco knew. They were too giddy to realize that they had been done a favor and that their mysterious chauffeur promised to bring by their car first thing in the morning.
“You have the keys, not me.” Hermione was whining. She was also grinning like an idiot and giggling a little as she watched Draco pat himself down for those said keys. “Come on, Ian, find them.”
Draco plucked the keys from the pocket he had checked twice before and swore weren’t in there a minute ago. He dangled them in front of Hermione’s face and she made a reach for them, but they were pulled from her grasp. His face was close enough to hers for her to smell the remnants of champagne on his breath.
“My name’s not Ian.” He breathed with a smile lingering on his lips. Hermione smiled at him and placed a hand over his that held the keys. She cupped her hand around his and felt his knuckles and counted them. Five, as there should’ve been, accompanied with very soft skin.
Hermione snatched the keys and opened the door. Draco stumbled in after her and they nearly fell down to the floor together. They laughed as they shut the door after themselves and took in each other’s appearances. It was priceless.
“You’re drunk.” Draco accused. Hermione placed her hands on her hips, felt them slip from their position, and then firmly put them back.
“Am I? Then what does that make you?”
“More drunk than you,”
“Clearly,” Hermione huffed girlishly and led the way to the sofa. She was drunk, yes, but she knew that she wasn’t so far gone so as not to remember the contents of the night. As for Draco, he was a different story.
Hermione sat on one end of the sofa with one leg curled up underneath her. Draco plopped himself down beside her and stared at her. She stared back and took in everything about him. His eyes were a sharp grey. His jaw was strong and pronounced and yet still subtle. His hands looked just as gentle as they felt. His whole body looked gentle. He looked like he could hold her in his arms like a child held a teddy bear. He was…inviting.
“You’re thinking about sex.”
Draco’s words startled her. Hermione immediately began shaking her head. “That’s not what I was thinking.”
“Then what were you thinking?”
Hermione bit her lower lip. She closed her eyes once, enjoying the feel of them that way, and opened them back. “…What it would be like if you held me.”
Draco said nothing. Instead he opened his arms to her and Hermione took the bait. She scooted over to him and positioned herself so that he was holding her from behind. Her back was lying against his stomach and her head rested on his chest. The feel of his breathing settled her. The feel of his arms holding her tightly, his hands resting on her stomach, settled her even more. Hermione slid her hands over his arms and let them stay there. It was a comfortable feeling.
“What if I told you…that I was thinking about sex?” Draco asked in a low voice. He held her tighter as he said the word and Hermione took a deep inhale.
“I’d remind you that you’re drunk.”
“…What if I said this wasn’t the first time I’ve thought about it?”
Hermione closed her eyes. She was tracing the veins of Draco’s left arm with her fingers. “I’d say that you’ve been trapped in a house with the same woman for a month and you’re a man. It’s natural for you.”
Unknown to her, Draco smiled. With his right hand he caught Hermione’s left. He intertwined his fingers with hers and enjoyed the feel of it. Her hand was warm and smooth. “I think you’re sobering up.”
Hermione shook her head. “No,” She craned her neck a bit to catch a glimpse of Draco and then settled herself back. “No, I haven’t. If I had I would’ve left your arms by now.”
“…It’ll take more than being sober for me to let you go.”
There was a silence. Hermione didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what to do. All she knew was that the scent of Draco’s cologne mingled with the smell of champagne was filling her nose with an ecstasy that she had never felt before. She squeezed Draco’s hand and felt him squeeze back. She wanted an answer. She wanted to know what would make him let her go so they could avoid that thing, whatever it was.
Sadly, she would never know. The alcohol was doing its job and had sent Draco to sleep. And yet even asleep, there was still tension in his body so that no matter how much Hermione wriggled she couldn’t break free of Draco’s arms.
author's note: hey there!!! well, i'd say that draco and hermione have gotten a little cozy, what do you say? ^_^ . now i don't think that i have to say that this is one of my fav chaps. there's a future one that's my absolute fav so far. i'll let you know which one it is :)
hope that you liked the chap and thanks for all the support so far!!!! ^_^
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