Chapter 17 : The Undeniable Craving in the Room of Hidden Things
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Hermione just barely squeezed into The Room of Hidden Things at the very last second as the door closed and sealed behind her. But as soon as she stepped in, she had no idea where Draco went.
The room was full of old junk; items of all sorts, unused things were everywhere in huge piles, sometimes to the ceiling.
She saw broken furniture, rusty bird cages, cracked caldrons, empty portrait frames, laboratory contraptions and vials, along with antique trunks, stacks of dusty outdated text books, and old wardrobe closets, so full they could not be closed.
Navigating her way through some of the narrow paths, she finally found Draco sitting on a wide step in front of a huge mirror.
By chance, Draco hadn't gone to the Vanishing Cabinet this night. Instead, he wanted to be with her. And the only way to do that was to look into the Mirror of Erised. She was after all, his greatest desire at the current moment and the mirror would reflect that desire.
It was the only way that he could be with her… false as it was.
She knew of the mirror's magical power as soon as she peered into it.
“I’ll tell you what I see, if you tell me what you see,” she offered, now standing behind his sitting form.
“I make no such deal,” he replied quietly, knowing that he would only be describing a mature scene of a forbidden love’s passion.
She reached out her hand and ran her fingers through his hair with the softest of touches, which only made him want her more.
But as much as he wanted to spend more time with her, he was not happy that she’d followed him.
“I won’t have some insane secret relationship with you… even if you were willing,” he voiced rather harshly.
“I wouldn’t want to,” she replied in a soft tone.
“Why did you follow me then? Was my vault not clear? You are forbidden to me. It is not some head-game or something that I can be talked out of. There is a reality outside these walls, Hermione that… that I would change if I had the power to do so. It’s bigger than us both. Do you understand?”
“I know. I understand that it’s not that your parents are just prejudice. I know that it is much, much deeper than that, Draco… because of who you are. And so I won’t. And so we won’t. There is no ‘us’ or ‘we’. We are nothing… not friends… not lovers… not even enemies anymore,” she said with her fingertips now touching his neck tenderly.
“Don’t be so sure,” he told her, thinking of the dark life he had yet to live.
He pushed the thought out of his mind by looking at the mirror once again, but that only made him want to act out what he was seeing in the reflection.
He wanted to pull her down, catch her in his lap, hold her tight to his chest, and kiss her senseless.
He watched as it happened in front of his very eyes while she stood directly behind him.
Why was life so cruel?
He thought of telling Hermione one more piece of his dream, the part where he told her that his name was cursed and that he could only give her a cursed life. It was so true, wasn’t it?
His mind was getting as dark as the night sky, loving someone that he couldn’t have, watching in the mirror as she kissed him and tugged at his clothing… wanting him with passion and a fury. His breathing began to get a bit heavy as he watched. It was maddening.
Hermione looked into the mirror and saw the same thing as he did. She wanted to be pulled down into his lap, pressed against him and mindlessly lost in his kiss once more, tugging at his clothing.
“Oh… my… goodness,” she blushed as her greatest desire reflected back at her in the mirror. “What happens if two people look into the mirror and see the same thing?” she asked him, trying to keep things light-hearted.
“It blows up,” he joked.
She laughed at his humor then turned her back to the mirror, realizing it was probably not such a good idea to stare at themselves in those kinds of positions too much longer.
“Then I suggest we stop looking at it, before this place goes up in flames.”
He tore his gaze from the mirror and looked up at her smiling eyes. Her cheeks were still a bit streaky from her crying only a few minutes earlier at his vault. But she had dried her eyes, determined to have a pleasant time with him.
“Do you know that in 152 countries, it is illegal to kiss a girl upside-down like you did and then walk away?”
He let out a quick huff as he raised an eyebrow, remembering their most amazing kiss.
He loved what she was doing; taking an insanely serious and depressing situation and making it bearable.
“You asked me what I wanted and why I followed you here, but you didn’t give me the chance to answer.”
“Speak your mind then,” he told her as his eyes returned to the reflection of his greatest desire. “Before I go insane staring into Satan’s mirror.”
She let out a giggle; a sound that made his heart melt to nothing.
“I wanted to tell you that I know the many reasons why we’ll never be together. It’s heartbreaking really, but let’s not let the outside world ruin the night. It’s the last night of a lifted curfew. Your friends are busy and mine will think that I’m with Vaden. Why waste the night when we can have a wonderful conversation? What’s the harm in staying up, enjoying each other’s company? I promise to keep the subjects light and neutral.”
She crouched down beside him with a sly smile and gave him a playful nudge. “Besides, I bet you will fall asleep before I do,” she challenged enticingly.
She hoped beyond hope that he would take the bait. When he didn’t right away, she playfully tucked her arm around his and added, “When the sun comes up, we’ll just forget everything… mutual feelings, vault messages, and the most amazing of kisses… and we’ll leave each other alone and go back to hating each other. It was much less complicated, don’t you think?”
He still hadn’t answered her. He was pondering her offer. How could he possibly just forget everything at sunup? The thought was nice, but it would be impossible.
“Give me one more night with you. Please?” she urged with hope in her eyes.
How could he resist her brown eyes offering one more night, but not one that would bring up forbidden feelings or forbidden kisses? Just one more night to add to the wonderful, beautiful nights they'd already shared, then back to a simpler life? What harm could it cause?
“No. There is no way that you will outlast me. I am nocturnal, Granger. You will not win,” he teased with a smirk that lit up her soul. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Well, first… teach me the spell that hid us from Pansy. How is it that she saw your vault, but didn’t see us? You must show me how you did it.”
Her curious mind had to know of this magic.
“Salvia Hexia,” he told her. Draco stood and pulled her to her feet. “Take out your wand and I’ll show you.”
She did as told and he moved behind her taking her wrists and showing her the movements. It was hard for her to concentrate with him so close and actually touching her, but she tried her best to put those thoughts away, wanting to learn how to perform it successfully.
“You must have both hands raised and the wand movement is an ‘x’ into the air, but you must drag the wand across, like pulling a quill across parchment with no real pressure. Like this,” he instructed, taking her wrists and performing the proper motion with her.
She had to remind herself to breathe.
“Alright try it, Granger. Do it in front of me and we’ll know right away if it worked."
“Okay,” she said turning to him as he backed away, giving her space.
“Salvia Hexia,” she voiced with the proper wand movement.
She tried and failed a couple of times, each time getting more and more frustrated. But he was patient with her and eventually she got it right.
“You did it,” he smiled. “I cannot see you.”
She could tell that the spell did in fact work because his voice had become muffled. She was elated, but did not predict his next move.
He could no longer see her, but he reached for her anyway, his hand actually penetrating the spell’s barrier to cup her face. It was very odd that he could feel her, but not see her. He moved his hand to her neck, then back up to just under her chin.
Hermione watched him, mezmerized by his tender touch. Clearly he could not see her and for a blissful moment, she was thankful.
“If one of us steps through the barrier fully, it will be lost,” he told her.
She didn’t step forward. She practically jumped to him, thrilled at her success.
“I did it!” she proclaimed. “And you are an excellent teacher.” She smiled as she hugged him. “Brilliant. Thank you!”
“You are welcome,” he said half-chuckling at her reaction.
“Okay… so what about the little tiny flames in the glass jars? How did you do those without fuel? I must know?”
“The jars under the courtyard?”
“Yes. I looked in the library and couldn’t find it. Please show me.”
“Well, we need to find a glass container of some sort. There must be one somewhere with all of this junk.”
Amongst all of the items piled high, Hermione came across a crazy looking old hat that must’ve been half her height. She put it on.
“Is this why they called it ‘high society’? Because of height of their hats? What do you think?” she asked being a little silly.
“I think I’m very glad that those went out of style a hundred years ago,” he smiled. “But you are adorable nonetheless.”
She removed the old thing from her head and put it back where she found it and moved on to try to find a glass jar that would be suitable.
“What do you supposed they used this for?” he asked looking at a diabolical looking student desk that had all sorts of metal things coming out of it.
“Looks like something Filch would use on a student found breaking curfew.”
They had a bit of fun discovering many warped and strange looking things.
They passed a statue of the Hogwarts hog mascot and came to an enormous Wizards Chess piece. It instantly reminded Hermione of her first adventure with Harry and Ron looking for the Sorcerer’s Stone.
“Be careful of that thing," Hermione warned. "She could take our heads off if she still thinks she’s in the game.”
They moved passed it carefully and came across something that caught her eye.
“This is really interesting… rather beautiful really.” She held a tiny little ship inside a glass bottle. “The Muggle versions of these don’t have the ocean water moving back and forth. This ship is actually floating around. Quite amazing. Look at the intricate details. It’s so realistic.”
“It’s most likely a real ship, shrunken and placed there. Trapped, if you will,” Draco guessed.
“Oh, my. I think you are right.” She set it back down carefully, not to disturb the ocean waves too much.
The two enjoyed their time together... having fun commenting on the many objects they discovered, keeping things light-hearted. Both knowing what was to come when the sun came up, but hiding their sorrowful feelings just under the surface.
They came across an old Grandfather clock that no longer held the time. It was ornately carved and a shame it no longer worked. It was peculiar in that instead of the number twelve at the top, the number was thirteen. It was very strange and odd, but even so, it was certainly a reminder to Hermione that time was indeed ticking away... so precious the moments they had together.
For Draco, it resembled the old Malfoy Grandfather clock and was yet another reminder of his tragic dream at Christmas.
"Let's find some glass jars," he suggested, wanting to be far removed from it.
She gladly followed him and they eventually found an entire area of glass containers.
“Pick one. It doesn’t matter which,” he told her.
She carefully chose one that was within easy reach and he set it on a small table nearby so that he could show her how to make the tiny flames without fuel. It was fairly simple. The only problem was in controlling the amount of fire in the jar. If one was not careful, it could turn into a column of fire.
“You must maintain absolute control and not be distracted. Once you get it right, it will be safe to use forever. You can light them and put them out easily.”
He was specific with his instructions and she did precisely as he said, practicing several times to get it exactly correct.
She looked up at him in awe as a tiny contained fire magically came to life.
“Where do you get your patience? Can you teach me that?” she asked, smiling at his glowing face.
“I’m a wizard, not a miracle worker.” He flashed his signature smirk, but it turned into a warm smile.
But their eyes held much too long and the smile left his face.
Staring into her eyes too long had the potential to become much too serious. He had to think of something quickly... a distraction.
“I found something,” he finally said. “I found it awhile ago and thought you might like it.”
She followed him around several piles and stopped at something that was hovering inside protective, dusty glass.
He removed the covering, but she was about to protest, thinking he didn't have any business messing with whatever it was.
“Relax, Granger. I have one of these at home,” he reassured, taking hold of it carefully.
“A conch seashell? The kind where you can hear the ocean?” She was a bit surprised that one would be in a Hogwarts junk pile, but then quickly changed her mind. They were finding all kinds of strange things. It was beautifully polished and seemed to be in excellent condition.
He let out a frustrated sigh.
“Granger… we are magical people and magical people in general put enchantments on things like this to make them more interesting than they already are. I guarantee that you will not hear the ocean in this one.”
She took it from him and placed it to her ear.
“Well, apparently it’s in the junk heap because it doesn’t work. I hear nothing, not even the ocean.”
“That’s because you are doing it wrong.”
“How does one ‘listen wrong’?” she retorted sarcastically.
He stepped close to her and in a soft voice gave her instructions.
“Close your eyes,” he said slowly.
She sighed, hoping it wasn’t some kind of trick that he had lured her into.
She closed her eyes and held the seashell to her ear once more. Still she heard nothing and was growing impatient.
“Take a deep breath and concentrate. Now… really listen.” He whispered into her other ear soft and slow-like.
She focused all her attention on hearing something. It took a moment and then she finally heard a faint sound that was definitely not the sound of ocean waves. It was beautiful… and incredible.
It was a faint piano sound that once she concentrated on it, began to build and become more pronounced. She recognized it immediately.
“It’s… it’s one of my favorites. Moonlight Sonata.”
Amazed, Hermione listened, but it became louder and louder and soon the sound came out of it like a magical sound box.
He took it from her and placed it back into its hovering spot.
It continued to play for them.
“It must be a favorite,” he said, close and quiet. “That’s the only thing it plays… one’s favorites.”
“Oh,” she swallowed hard, wondering if he would kiss her again… or maybe embrace her as in a slow dance.
Oh, the power of a sad and beautiful song.
“You were right… I love it. Thank you so much for showing it to me,” she said as though still holding her breath. "And... Thank you for spending time with me."
Draco heard her whisper of a thank you, but his thoughts were on what he should do next. He was struggling with keeping their agreement, especially when she looked at his lips, wanting his kiss. It was like an inaudible spell cast on him… an Imperious drawing him closer to her.
"You didn't have to," she told him quietly, looking at him as if his nearness intoxicated her.
"I wanted to," he replied, trying not to succumb to the undeniable craving that threatened to overtake him. “Hermione?” Draco whispered her name as he bent down close to her face.
“Yes,” she beckoned, completely lost in her desire to have his lips on hers... as every soft and serious sound coming from the enchanted seashell surrounded them.
“Tell me… How am I to hate you at sunup, when I have the memory of you looking at me like you are now?”
Embarrassment flooded her senses. What was she doing? They had an agreement.
But she didn’t count on the tension or the electricity between them getting in the way.
They were like two opposite magnets, trying to defy the power of nature’s pull. Was it even possible?
“I’m so sorry,” she confessed, as she quickly turned from him to the seashell, still playing and hovering. She found the glass case and reached for it to place it back over the shell, but he stopped her.
“Let it play,” he said softly, moving in behind her, closing the space between them as the music continued to build and play for them, ever so serious and sad... and dark.
Draco didn’t mean to make her feel bad. He was just stating the obvious.
She suddenly felt his arm around her waist, feeling the softness of her black velvet gown she had worn for him. He embraced her from behind, pulling her into him.
“Don’t be sorry,” he said into her hair. “I didn’t count on this being so difficult… I want you so badly,” he whispered hungrily.
She stood there, feeling him pressed against her.
He kissed the top of her head, but quickly moved down to a spot on her neck that was covered by her pretty choker.
He wanted to tear it off with his teeth.
Why was it that she always seemed to have something around her neck preventing him from devouring her? He wondered this while trying to hold back his emotions that threatened to run wild.
She closed her eyes and nearly cried as his words sunk in. He wanted her?
The number one Mudblood hater… the very one that had started her innermost pain and private suffering wanted her.
It was as if a hundred wounds had begun to heal; wounds that she thought would never go away.
Here he was… wanting her, now kissing her exposed flesh tenderly on her shoulder and all she kept thinking about was that she was a Mudblood that could have him for a night, but she couldn’t have him forever.
She turned to him, wanting him as much as he wanted her.
The music was now commanding and dark, fueling their tension.
Yes, he wanted to make her his. He wanted to give her a dark mark of her own, the bruise of a lustful kiss... branding her his. Taken! But he had to restrain himself and accept the fact that she truly wasn't his... she never would be.
“Draco,” she spoke his name, trying to keep her head as he kissed underneath her chin, working his way to her lips. “We must stop this.”
He felt her cling to him, but when he heard the word come from her lips… he stopped abruptly, but surely not wanting to.
He stared deep into her eyes, silently willing her to change her mind.
“Too serious,” she said faintly.
“Maybe we should end this now,” he reluctantly suggested, still holding onto her, but taking long drawn out breaths to calm himself.
“No,” she protested, not wanting their night to end just yet. “It just needs to stop being so serious… and that romantic music needs to stop.”
He agreed, reaching for the glass and covering the magical seashell, muffling its beautiful sounds that would've subsided eventually.
Hermione began looking around. She saw something earlier that had caught her attention.
“Come on. Our conversation needs to get neutral fast or I won’t be responsible for my actions,” she explained truthfully. “I think we need to just calm down and relax.”
She led him to a comfy place to sit amongst the junk.
It was a very old hand-carved Victorian settee with a high curved back, large enough for two to sit close and comfortable.
It was actually facing an eastern window, a bonus if they were to see the sunrise. Not that they wanted to see it. It would mean their end.
When the two sat down, she turned from him, raising her hair a bit, exposing the back of her neck.
“Will you help me remove my choker? The clasp is a little tricky.”
“Sure,” he replied, wishing she had told him that a lot sooner.
“That feels better.”
She placed the chocker on the floor near her shoes while he removed his suit jacket and necktie, then unbuttoned his dress shirt, exposing a white cotton under-shirt.
He leaned against the high back of the settee, surprised that the old worn out seat was actually comfortable.
Hermione was a bit shy at first, but she was too tired to care. This was after all, going to be the only night that they would do this.
“Would you mind if I used you for a pillow?” she asked. “I’ll never get the chance again.”
“Of course.” He welcomed her. “But you’ll be falling asleep first, losing your bet.”
She gave him an adorable sleepy smile. “I've already won. You just don't know it yet. And I just want to get comfortable.”
He returned her sleepy smile with one of his own.
“Is it safe? Or do I need to keep my distance far, far away?”
“As safe as shark-infested water,” he replied teasingly. “Come here.”
She actually laid on the settee backwards with her feet up, her right hip resting on the cushion and the rest of her body cuddled up to his chest.
"It's all your fault, you know," he teased. "I mean really, Moonlight Sonata? Couldn't you have picked something else... something a little less emotional and deeply moving?"
"You're the one that showed me the thing in the first place. So naturally, it's all your fault." She gave him a bit of a squeeze as she nuzzled into him.
Hermione never felt so comfortable… living in a blissful dream, breathing in his intoxicating scent.
The feel of her soft warm body against his felt right and perfectly natural. He was elated that she hadn’t kept her distance from him or turned from him. Instead, she remained facing him.
The two melted together as she placed her ear to his heart and her hands to his ribs.
The forbidden couple stayed up and talked long into the darkest hours of the morning... about everything that came to mind. They were comfortable with each other, relaxed, and content just holding each other.
They were getting sleepy when he finally told her, "I must ask that you don't come looking for me again. I'm sorry to be saying such a thing, but..."
She stopped him abruptly when she suddenly moved up and kissed him softly on the lips.
"I know. I won't. But I don't want to talk about that. I don't want to talk about what we already know will happen."
They kissed once more... a sweet goodnight kiss.
Her head went to his chest. "Just hold me 'til sunup?"
He pulled her tighter against him. "I won't let go until it's time," he promised.
After doing nothing for several moments but listen to each other breathe, she finally spoke.
“At my parent’s home, I have a favorite place,” she told him softly. “There’s a window seat in my room where I must’ve read several hundred books. And when I wasn't reading, I would curl up in the window seat with a blanket and pillow and watch it rain… or watch those huge snowflakes that I love so much.”
She told him of her Muggle home to ask him a question.
“Tell me about Malfoy Manor,” she asked sleepily. “I’ll never get to go there, but I’m curious as to what it’s like. I read somewhere that it has thirteen bedrooms. Is that true?”
“Actually yes and no. It is a magical property whereas it is possible to have thirteen bedrooms, but they would be small. In taking a few out, it makes the rooms larger and much more comfortable. So right now, we have seven very large bedrooms. The walls are easily added and removed so you can adjust the manor based on your needs whenever you want. It has too many rooms, really. Think of the Victorian era and the many frivolous rooms they had and you’ll have the manor.”
As he described his ancestral home, his fingers moved lovingly against her bare skin, causing her to melt further into him. His touch was nothing short of magical to her senses, but his voice was so soothing that she struggled to stay awake.
“The drawing room houses my grandfather’s portrait, but high up on the ceiling there is a beautiful mural of a witch with her dragon. It’s gorgeous, but I hate it. We have seven fireplaces. There is a huge dining room with a table that seats twenty along with house-elf quarters, a butler's pantry, a wine cellar, and a library that you would fall in love with. As far as my bedroom… it has no closet door and it is always cold.”
“That sounds like a lot of rooms,” she said slowly. “But do you have a favorite place? A place like my window seat?”
“My favorite place is not inside the manor. It is outside.”
“We have an apple orchard that is so beautiful it’s like having our own private park. It’s vast and well-kept. There is a wonderful tree that sits high on a hill and I would climb it every chance I could. It was a perfect spot for watching the sunsets and it gave a most amazing view of the manor and all the grounds that surround it, including an enormous patch of Tiger Lilies that grow along a steep and quiet stream. That’s it. That’s my favorite place… away from everyone and everything. My escape, I suppose.”
“It sounds lovely,” she said in a breath, clearly slowing down as his voice lulled her to sleep.
“It is," he whispered as he felt her body finally relax into a dreamless sleep.
The corners of his mouth turned up into a smile. He had won the bet. She had fallen asleep first.
But in the end, he knew she didn't care about the bet. In her mind she had won a night spent with him and that was all that mattered.
At sunup, they would forget whatever it was they had between them and become enemies once more.
But not yet…
Hermione opened her eyes to see that dawn had indeed come, never dreading the sun like she did on this morning, but pleasantly surprised and thankful to see that Draco had kept his word.
With her head still pressed to his chest, she listened to his heart’s peaceful rhythm and his slow breaths telling her that he was still asleep.
She dared not move at first, reveling the feel of him underneath her. She took note of the weight of his arm across her back.
He was still holding her.
She wondered what to do then. Should she wake him?
She thought against it, sparing them both some awkward or potentially teary goodbye.
They were supposed to pretend that nothing had happened between them. They were supposed to be going back to a time when they hated each other… back to a simpler time when things were less complicated.
She thought of the agreement knowing it was the only way to convince him to share one more night with him. It had worked and so she would keep her end of the bargain.
She would get up and leave, walk back to her dorm, and start the day anew and move on with her life.
A relationship with him was impossible and even though her heart was aching, she knew that his was too. It was in his letter.
“If my heart aches, it is because it is not permitted to love the forbidden.”
His words whispered to her as she listened to that very heart that ached for her.
She lay pressed against him for only few more moments. Her eyes closed, she breathed in his scent letting it soak into her memory.
Listening to him breathe, she didn’t want to get up. She just wanted to lay there and breathe with him, but knew she couldn’t stay that way.
It was time to slip out, preferably without waking him.
She lifted her head slightly but that is when she noticed his dagger-shaped sideburns had grown a tad bit more prominent. Mesmerized by his sleeping form, she reached up and traced it lightly with the tip of her finger until he stirred a bit.
She froze then, willing him to stay asleep.
He seemed so at peace, but Hermione knew very well that his mind certainly wasn’t. It might not ever be. She was able to keep his mind out of the darkness at least for a little while, but no more.
And with that thought, she carefully and slowly lifted herself from him, hoping that she wouldn’t disturb him too much.
As soon as she was up, she grabbed her shoes and her chocker that she had placed on the floor only hours ago then took a few steps backwards away from him… thinking her departure bittersweet. She hated to leave, but glad that she didn’t have to look at him in his sad and serious eyes and say goodbye to him.
She wasn’t sure that she ever could.
As soon as he heard her quiet footsteps walk away, Draco opened his eyes and breathed out a long sigh.
He was awake before she was, amazed that she never did turn away from him. He had finally closed his eyes, cherishing the last few moments with her as her body breathed in synch with his.
When she had touched the side of his face so lovingly, he felt the overwhelming urge to lay her gently on the carpet and make sweet, slow love to her. But in doing so, he knew that they would eventually have to face each other and say goodbye.
The last thing that he wanted from her was a final goodbye.
And so, Draco sat up and for the first time in awhile, he heard his conscience scolding him.
"She will hate you. She will spit in your face when she finds out that she kissed a Death Eater." He swallowed hard as reality settled in. "She will despise you more than ever before when she finds out that she spent the night with an assassin. You defile her innocence with your deception... and it makes you one of THEM."
Walking to her dorm, she stopped by her Black Canvas Vault to retrieve her picture that was hidden inside it so that it could finally be erased. But when she opened it, the picture wasn't there.
"He took it," she said to herself as an enormous smile came to her face and her heart soared. "He kept my picture."
She raised her wand high then, parallel to the top of the vault, and proceeded to pull it down in front of her, the magical wave erasing the vault and putting it back into its sand-like state... her message forever gone.
"Does a Dark Heart have room for love?" her vault's message had asked him.
"Yes," she answered aloud. "A Dark Heart most definitely has room... for love."
Ah, these two... what an exhausting Valentine's evening. :)
Thanks to the many of you that have graciously Reviewed. I cannot tell you how much I am addicted to reading them. Without them, I surely would've given up by now. How does one thank you for such inspiration, such encouragement?
P.S. 24,800 Reads. 155 have Favorited. Amazing!
Credit: Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata... Hauntingly beautiful, dark, and powerful. And probably over-used, but I couldn't help it.
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