Chapter 7 : Facing Reality
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Hermione nodded and took her glass. She drank it slowly so as to prevent herself from speaking. She wondered what Draco was thinking as he sat in front of her. He had been more drunk than she had been. She wondered if he remembered anything from the previous night; more specifically of what was said. If there was one thing for sure, Hermione knew that Draco woke up with his arms wrapped around her.
“A letter from Hinds came today.”
Hermione’s eyes widened and she took the time to stare Draco in the eye. Or at least attempt to do so. It seemed as though he was purposefully trying not to. “What did it say?”
Draco looked from his hands to her. His cheeks reddened some, but he ignored it and continued speaking. “We can leave. The Ministry caught Iverson.”
“They’ve caught him?” Hermione repeated. Draco nodded and showed her the letter. “But…it happened so fast.”
“I know. But at least we can go on with our own lives now.” Draco smiled. Hermione smiled as well, but hers was forced. As she studied his face she was trying to figure out if Draco’s was just as forced as hers was. But as it most oftentimes was, his face was unreadable.
Hermione sighed and hid her frown. “I guess you can finally get your hands on that Janice.” She kicked in a laugh that Draco found himself joining.
“And you with Robbie,”
Hermione had nearly asked “Robbie, who?” before immediately catching herself. Instead she smiled and nodded and began thinking of the night that had ended all too quickly. Draco had said that it would take more than her being sober for him to let her go. Well, Hermione had finally figured out what that was.
It was this.
Hermione and Draco had no idea how to get back to where Hinds office was. Granted both of them could simply apparate and go their separate ways, but they had to sign release forms before going back to their normal lives. And so, they both sat in the living room on arm chairs facing each other as they waited for the Aurors that were on their way.
Two of the Aurors would take them to Hinds. The others would stay behind and “clean up.” They would modify memories and plant stories in people’s minds to make it look as though Hermione and Draco were never there. The thought of it made Hermione sad. All the friends that she had made there wouldn’t remember her at all. But maybe it was better this way? They had never known the real her anyway. And then she thought of Robbie who seemed to have liked Hermione on the spot. Was it the face –Nicolette’s face –that had caught his attention first? It would’ve had to be. Before getting to the personality, one first had to gaze upon appearances. The same had to be for Janice when she had first met Draco, but Hermione held an inner smile at the thought that Janice might not feel the same about Draco when, or if, she truly met him.
But Hermione sighed. She had been gazing into the fireless fireplace and took a moment to glance at Draco. No. Janice would still be just as interested in Draco without the Ian Groves disguise. And as much as she hated to admit it, his personality wasn’t that big of a catastrophe. They would have each other. That much was sure. And now Hermione hated herself for being mad about it.
How could she honestly feel even the slightest twinge for Draco? How could she even consider it reliable? Aside from the fact that the words that she had fallen into were said by a drunk man, so what if there was a basis of truth? It was as she had said before. They had been cooped up together, forcibly, for a full month. Draco was used to having a woman on his arm by command. Not having that surely drove him mad and he placed all his affections, or at least some of them, on the only female he was able to have at the moment.
What he said that he had felt and thought about would fade with time. Technically they already had. Draco didn’t remember them. Only Hermione would be cursed with the memory of them until they faded from her mind. The only thing she wished now was that the Aurors would hurry and come to take her away. She couldn’t take the gentle glances Draco threw her way when he thought she wasn’t looking.
“Where did they catch him?”
“In some broken down warehouse somewhere off the coast of the English Channel,” Ron fed himself a spoonful of the banana split he was sharing with his friends and smacked his lips. “He was in the middle of torturing his latest victim. Aurors tracked him.”
Hermione was perplexed. She licked the back of her spoon and set it on the side of the ice cream bowl. “I thought he was looking for Malfoy and me?”
“Who says that he wasn’t?”
“The fact that he so readily moved on and put his concentration on someone else,”
Harry cocked a brow at her and formed a small smile. “Come on. Don’t tell me you’re feeling jealous. Did you want Iverson to make you his number one? His one and only..?”
Hermione rolled her eyes at his double-entendre and glared at Ron who was laughing at it. “That’s not what I mean at all. But you’ve got to realize how odd this looks, don’t you? There’re two people out there who hold all the evidence in the world against him, and he’s not looking for them? Someone like Iverson? It doesn’t make sense. Please tell me that I’m not being paranoid about this.”
“…You’re not.” Harry frowned. He passed a quick glance at Ron and sighed. “When the Daily Prophet said that Iverson had been captured Ron and I couldn’t believe it. It’s been months since he first appeared, kidnapping people and doing all the horrible things he’s done. And all of a sudden he gets captured just like that? Yeah, it’s a little weird.”
Hermione bit her lip. She suddenly felt uneasy, but then smiled when Ron placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, ‘Mione. Just look at it as a big ole ‘you’re welcome’ from Merlin. Now, get on with it. You’ve been back for a full day and haven’t told us a single word about your witness protection experience.”
My witness protection experience… Hermione knew they would ask. Of course they would be expecting a story full of stories about Draco and how she despised him. Some of that they got. In the beginning it had been quite the annoying experience, especially with all of those sarcastic remarks that she didn’t dare say that she sort of missed. She talked about the people she’d met and how friendly they were and how she hoped to go back there and pick up their friendship again.
Harry and Ron nodded in approval, both eager to know more about Janice, to which Hermione rolled her eyes and told them plainly that Draco had sunk his teeth into her first. Not that they cared of course, and not that she minded. She preferred that one of them had her rather than Draco, but immediately took that sentiment back. She didn’t know if she could take hearing that ridiculous laugh day in and day out.
“Or those outfits,” Hermione ruminated later on that night in the house that she had missed so dearly. She never understood why some women worked so hard to get a man’s attention. The hair flips, the eye winks, the smiles, the dainty laughs, and the body postures to make some places bigger or smaller than others. Perhaps that’s why she was still single. Or maybe she had yet to find a man who didn’t need those lines of bait.
Sighing, Hermione began to close the blinds on her windows. The sun had set long ago and with the lights that she had on anyone could be looking inside and spying on her. And as she moved to close one particular blind, she held in her breath. Outside, among the trees and shadows, Hermione could’ve sworn that she saw someone. It was a man. And he was just standing there like a statue staring directly into the window that she was standing in front of.
Hermione quickly closed the blind as she thought of the man’s face. Or at least the face that she thought she saw. But how was that possible? She cupped her hands fiercely and took a moment to separate two blinds apart so she could peek through. He was still there, and if she wasn’t mistaken there was an evil little smile lurking on his lips.
Without further hesitation Hermione grabbed a bit of parchment, ink, and a quill and hastily wrote:
Meet me at the Leaky Cauldron as soon as you read this. We need to talk.
Hermione sent the letter off with the owl Harry and Ron generously bought her the moment she returned. She watched it fly off in the distance and wondered what the intruder in her life would be thinking as he watched the owl disappear in the distance. Would he think that she was alerting someone? Perhaps… Or maybe he had already gone, for Hermione could no longer see him stalking the shadows.
Quickly she donned a light jacket, turned off all of her lights, and Flooed off to the Leaky Cauldron. She dusted the soot off of her clothes and found a secluded table near the back of the place and took it before someone else got the chance to. A waitress came and asked what she wanted. Hermione wanted nothing, but seeing that she was being waited on anyway asked for a Butterbeer and patiently counted the seconds until it or Draco arrived.
The Butterbeer came first. It was a little more than halfway gone before Draco got there and he nodded to her before sitting down.
“What’s this about?”
“Well, hello to you too.” Hermione huffed, wondered why she expected a response any different, and then felt her eyes travel up and down the vein in his arm that her fingers had caressed. She cleared her throat. “I think you can guess. Why else would I Owl you?”
Draco’s face flushed. His jaws clenched once or twice before he began speaking at a rushed and quite a nervous pace. “We can’t take that night seriously. We were drunk for Merlin’s sake! Besides, we’d been trapped together for days on end. So why not have a…thought or two? Coerced by the champagne, of course… The bloody thing… All of it should be dumped in the sea for what it does to a person. Let’s forget about it. It wouldn’t have happened under different circumstances. You know that, don’t you? Of course you do. You know everything.”
Hermione was the one who was now flushed, though the color of her face could in no way compete with Draco’s. He was done talking and now signaling to someone for something to drink. The moment he got it he frowned, having just denounced “the bloody thing” and was about to let it slip down his throat.
“So, it’s agreed? Never to be mentioned again?”
Hermione felt embarrassed. Not for herself, but for him. She could only wonder what he would think after what she said next. Now she was watching his face match the cherry wood of the table. “That’s, um, not what I Owled you to talk about. I wanted to discuss the fact that I thought I saw Iverson watching my house.”
“Iverson..?” Not only did Draco look confused, he seemed to be utterly relieved at the topic change. “Granger, he’s in Azkaban. He couldn’t have been-”
“I know what I saw, Malfoy. It was him.” Hermione sighed. She drained off the rest of her Butterbeer and called for another. “I swear to you it was.”
“I don’t doubt that you saw someone.” Draco said softly. “Your eyes are painfully well-trained. But once again I say that the man is in Azkaban.”
“That doesn’t ease my fears any less. Someone was still there.”
“…You shouldn’t sleep alone tonight.”
Hermione’s heart jumped at that. She instantly thought of exactly where she’d like to sleep and instinctively glanced at Draco’s arms.
“At Potter’s or someone’s,” He finished. Hermione’s spirits broke. She nodded and agreed, saying that she would. Silence ensued and they both gulped down their drinks without any more words. It seemed to be the end of conversation for them. It was late. Near midnight by now and both of them thought it was best to be elsewhere; namely home. But before they parted ways, Hermione had one last thing to say.
“My mother always used to tell me that if… That if you were wearing an outfit and you wanted to know if it made you look fat, to never ask your husband. You should always walk straight to the nearest bar and ask a drunkard.” Hermione sighed and stared into Draco’s eyes. “Drunkards always tell the truth.”
author's note: wow, it feels like forever since i've posted! is that true, or am i just imagining it lol? anyway, this chap is somewhat of a filler, and you're also let into a tiny bit of how draco's feeling about waking up next to hermione, but you'll get an indepth look soon enough!
anywho, hope that you liked the chap!
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