Hermione was in a very peculiar predicament, indeed. Had it been anyone else, she wouldn’t have had any intention of leaving the very moment ecstasy ended, however, as it were, she was lying beside a naked man, whom just hours before was her childhood bully, feeling restless, and awkward beyond belief.
The reason for staying in his bed hours after the pleasure had ebbed escaped her. Part of her was curious as to what would happen now that he had gotten what he wanted from her. The other part wanted, no needed, to know what had caused her to be so foolish as to surrender herself to Draco Malfoy, body and soul.
So she stayed. Her eyelids were heavy, and her body spent, but she was fully awake. Not a chance of sleep tonight. Not with him beside her. And he hadn’t slept a bit either, she was certain, for his breathing continued to be erratic. So the awkwardness prevailed long into the wee morning hours, neither one willing to discuss or discern what had happened between then only hours previous.
Hermione’s memories drifted in and out of the moments they had shared in this very same bed. How rough, and yet ardent his attention to her had been. How his physicality had impressed her fingers as she fervently ran her hands over his back. How Draco’s face had been serious and hard, and his jaw showed how he fought for restraint. Knowing hands, and confident guidance. Skin on skin. Shocks of vulnerability one after another. She thought that perhaps it had been one of the most amazing nights of her entire life.
Then the moments turned long, and too real. Pleasure did not obscure the truth now. She thought he would ask her to leave to spare them both the uncompromising reality that assaulted her in the aftermath. Yet, he stayed silent.
As Draco lay in his darkened bedroom suite, wrapped up in his silk green sheets, he was feeling a combination of elation and terror. He had had his fair share of morning afters, to be sure. Yet, he never ever brought a woman to his bed. That was just too personal for him. Now not only had he brought Granger to his bed, but he had allowed her to remain there, even now. Last night he hadn’t been thinking of anything aside from shagging Granger. He had uncharacteristically acted like a bumbling teenager in his haste to bed her. Losing all control over himself. And now he didn’t know what to say, or do.
Any moment his mother would call on him to explain his reasons for using violence on a prominent pureblooded classmate in front of everyone at the Ministry of Magic. Then his father would demand an explanation for allowing a mudblood to enter his private library, especially one such as Hermione Granger. The Malfoys claimed to have changed their ways, however Draco knew behind closed doors, they were as closed-minded to muggle-borns as they ever were.
No answers would be forthcoming though. He couldn’t even begin to answer them for himself, let alone to anyone else. Last night was far from anything he could ascertain. The only thing he knew for certain was that if it were up to him (which it was not), he would do everything in his power to make sure it happened again.
He listened to Hermione breathing beside him, and could almost feel her lamentation. He didn’t dare turn over to gaze upon her beautiful face for knowing he’d lose all inhibitions at the sight of her perplexed countenance. However, fate had different intentions. This couldn’t go on any longer. She sighed deeply, letting all of her frustration out in a single breath.
Draco knew there was no time like the present, so he rolled over to face her. When he was finally face to face, all reasoning absconded. The rising sun trickled over her unruly hair and long eyelashes, highlighting the auburn streaks in each. Her face was flushed with remaining vulnerability, accentuating the light freckles across her nose.
Just when he thought she’d merely stare at him silently forever, her Gryffindor courage swelled. “I think, perhaps, it’s time for me to depart,” she admitted, her voice gravelly from lack of use.
Draco was unresponsive for a moment as he thought of something else to say beside what his astonished mind wished. Why had she stayed so long, if she had wished to leave? Hermione took his silence as encouragement, and she sat up and began to dress in the shadows of his room. Draco continued to hold his tongue for fear of losing all hindrance, and begging her to stay.
When at last she was finished dressing, she grabbed her wand and appeared distraught for a moment. “Should I simply try, on my own, to locate the exit, or would you be so kind as to show me out?” Her voice full of rebuke, eluding to the fact that she might crack at any moment.
Draco pulled back the silky green sheet that covered his nudity, and Hermione let out a small gasp, to which he smirked. “Well aren’t we falsely modest this morning, Granger?”
She frowned at his statement, but said nothing in return. He didn’t bother covering himself up as he walked to the wardrobe to pull out black dress robes. He dressed silently, his eyes never leaving hers. Hermione stole glances at his face as he dressed, unable to evaluate what he was thinking.
Just as he was buttoning up his trousers, there was a firm knock at his bedroom door. Hermione flinched, drawing her wand up instinctively, her eyes flashing with horror. Draco put his finger to his lips to silence her, and walked to his door, absent a shirt.
Hermione stepped a few meters back into the shadows, and listened intently to the sound of Draco’s mother’s silky voice full of disapproval on the other side of the door. She was reprimanding him for sleeping so late.
“Your father and I intend to speak with you immediately. I’m sure you’re aware of what this pertains to,” she insisted. Hermione didn’t hear Draco’s reply, and assumed he’d merely nodded his head. “For Merlin’s sake, Draco, what has gotten into you lately?”
“Do calm down, mother. I’ll be down shortly to breakfast,” Draco evaded. His mother wasn’t eager to leave, it seemed.
“I implore you to join us in the west wing drawing room directly after your breakfast, and befit us with an explanation to your recent atrocious behavior,” she added haughtily, and then Hermione could hear the bedroom door close a moment after.
She didn’t dare leave her hiding place for fear that Narcissa had joined them in the room, instead of leaving. Draco’s footsteps were heard making his way to the wardrobe, where he continued to dress silently.
This time his back was towards her. She sensed a coldness to him that hadn’t previously been there, but didn’t question it. Her mind was too busy racing. Did his mother know what had transpired last night between them? Is that why they demanded to see him this morning? Hermione wasn’t sure if she were scared of them finding out as much as she was worried for what would happen to Draco if they had.
She walked over to him, standing directly behind him as he smoothed out his robes. When he finally turned around, he was the same old Malfoy she was used to. Impassive countenance, and arrogant demeanor. If he was surprised at how close she was, he didn’t show it.
“I shall see you out now,” he drawled. His cold tone was like a slap in the face. She shouldn’t be hurt by his behavior, after all, this was Draco Malfoy, and thinking he had changed just because of one blissful night, was absurd. (And she had also demanded to leave but a moment ago, but that was besides the point). But when he had allowed her to witness his undoing at the moment of rapture last night, she felt certain that he wouldn’t have dared let anyone else see him this way. Every kiss alluded to secrets his body had been keeping for way too long. Every touch held affection in such a degree that it was baffling. She felt so incredibly brainless at her imprudent behavior that tears threatened to fall freely from her eyes.
She swiped at her cheeks, determined to hide her true feelings in front of this man. Get a grip, Hermione, she pleaded with herself. In the back of her mind, she knew that it wouldn’t mean anything to him in the morning. She knew that nothing could come of their intimate night of passion. But then why did she feel so betrayed now? Because you gave him more than your body last night, her mind reeled. No. She’d take back what she freely gave him, and leave with her dignity.
Draco studied Hermione’s face keenly, and what he found made him feel something in his chest that he hadn’t felt since the fateful day in this very house, when his Aunt Bella tortured her while he was unable to do a single thing about it: guilt. Any other woman, and he’d have been all too eager to set her straight about his feelings. Except, he wasn’t straight about his feelings. Not anymore. He was sure that even yesterday he would have said, with some certainty, that he could have shagged Granger and felt nothing; that her novelty would wear off the morning after. But at this exact moment, he wasn’t at all certain of anything.
Hermione gave him an impatient look, and he stretched out his hands for her to take, which she did instantly, and then closed her eyes tight anticipating their departure. The feeling of her hand in his made him almost sigh with content, and all thoughts of dissapparating vanished. The wonders that such a small hand could inflict made his mind abruptly return to last night, when she had ordered him to kiss her, and afterwards, when he had apparated her to his bedroom intending to vehemently bring them to euphoria.
Granger’s body was pure heaven. It made him almost believe that God was merciful, for he indeed deserved far less than her. Draco knew immediately that he had wanted her for far longer than he realized. Any other time, and he’d have showed her exactly what his skills could bring her to, over and over again. But he had lost all control over his patience, and took to fisting the green sheets in order to restrain himself from attacking her.
Their love-making was as volatile as expected between two enemies. It wasn’t gentle, or tender in any way. When Hermione had surrendered herself to him, he had lost it. She was anything but what he had figured she’d be. Instead of innocent and quiet, she’d been loud and untamed. It drove him insane to the point that he regressed back to an over-eager adolescent.
“Well?” Granger demanded his attention once again. He sighed, and dissapparated to the front parlor. When she opened her eyes once again, they regarded him with animosity once more. He wanted to apologize, he wanted to beg her forgiveness, and then take them straight back to his room where he’d never come out again. Yet, this couldn’t be. He knew it as well as she did. They weren’t meant to be together. Not anymore than what they shared last night anyways.
He let go of her fingers, and she walked out the door without pretense. Just like that, Granger had trampled on his ego. He’d say his heart, but he didn’t think he had one, not after Granger had stolen it from him many hours ago.
She was late for work. No time to change clothes, no time to owl anyone. She flooed straight to the Ministry, avoiding everyone’s eyes as they took in her despondent demeanor and disheveled appearance. She locked herself in her office, determined not to see anyone today, if she could help it.
As if God had a sense of humor, someone knocked on her office door before she could even sit down. She wondered briefly if she could simply ignore them and if they’d go away. No such luck would befall her today, however, as the person knocked once more.
She opened it to find a bespectacled wizard that just so happened to be the one person she had dreaded seeing this morning.
Harry Potter looked at her apprehensively. “Hermione, where have you been? Ginny and I have been trying to get a hold of you all night! Good heavens, are those the same clothes you wore yesterday?”
She steadfastly avoided the urge to roll her eyes, or cry, and instead motioned for him to follow her inside. When he had, she closed them in, fruitlessly trying to come up with some sort of lie. Ignoring the last question she began, “what do you mean, Harry? I was at home,” she lied.
He gave her a withering look. “Oh please, as if that wasn’t the first place we checked. Come off it, Hermione, we were really worried! And seeing as you’re still in the same clothes from yesterday, I’d assume you’ve either spent the night somewhere else or completely lost your mind. Now which is it? I’m inclined to think the former.”
“Harry, please, I’m fine--,” she began, but Harry was in one of his moods, which led her to believe he already knew exactly where she had been.
“Does this have to do with Malfoy? Because Ron told me that he had last seen you with him, and I’m starting to wonder if you’ve made a mistake--,” now it was Hermione’s turn to interrupt her best friend.
“Harry!” She beseeched, “trust me, when have I ever made mistakes?” Harry didn’t look assured, but calmed down some degree by her reasoning.
“It’s not you I don’t trust, Hermione,” she tried to protest, but Harry waved a hand in deterrence. “Listen to me! Perhaps you think this isn’t my business, but I assure you, Malfoy is my business. You may think he’s changed, and it may be true in some regards, but he hasn’t changed for the better. In fact, I have received a missive just this morning about calling him in on assault charges. Why he was punching another wizard is beyond even my comprehension. However, several witnesses claim he did just that. How was I not to worry that he had done something to you?”
“Harry, I can explain that. His reasons are completely placid. Blaise was harassing him, I assure you. I have in a good authority that Blaise had provoked him,” Hermione appealed.
“Whose authority? And what could provoke Draco Malfoy to punch another wizard?” Harry queried.
“He mentioned yesterday that Blaise had called me a mudblood bitch,” she explained after a moment’s hesitation.
Harry’s eyes widened, “indeed? And why would he do such a thing?”
“I don’t know, honestly. But I believe him, I really do.”
“I have also been informed that he was spotted by an Auror at the Gala pointing his wand at Blaise. And you still expect me to believe he’s changed?”
Hermione wanted nothing more than to scream at Harry. Why couldn’t he see that Draco was different? He punched his friend defending her, for Merlin’s sake! If that weren’t sufficient evidence that he had changed for the better, than she didn’t think anything would be. However, she had wondered herself why she had seen Malfoy pointing his wand at Blaise at the Gala, and instead kept her mouth shut.
“Hermione, I implore you to tread cautiously. Be careful around Malfoy, or else you may be the next one he aims a wand at,” Harry warned. She knew Harry hadn’t meant that Malfoy would somehow outsmart her; he merely deduced that sometimes seduction led, even the smartest people, to lose good judgment.
He patted her on the shoulder affectionately. Hermione nodded in acknowledgement, and promised Harry she’d be careful, and that nothing was going on between them. He left her office looking a little less worried, but still suspicious.
Hermione spent the rest of the day trying to come up with some reason as to why she was defending Malfoy when, in fact, she had no reason to. She didn’t know a thing about him, aside from what ecstasy he could bring her to in a matter of seconds, and that hardly qualified her as an expert to all things Malfoy.
Draco’s parents had been furiously trying to come up with a way to repair the damage that had been done yesterday for the last hour. He sat quietly in the leather chaise, trying to ignore the conversation entirely. Instead, his mind had been elsewhere.
Finally, his father’s baleful voice broke him from his daydreams. “The road you’re traveling, boy, is one that leads us all to ruin. You know as well as I do that I wouldn’t let such a thing come to fruition. So I beg you to see the consequences if you so chose to continue your behavior.” Draco didn’t respond, for he knew exactly what his father meant by consequences. He’d lose everything and be out on the streets before he could say two words in his defense.
It was his mother’s turn to criticize him, “Draco, what has happened to you? Hitting a wizard, with your fists,” she said the word as if it caused a bad taste in her mouth, “it’s inconceivable! You need to fix this, immediately. I’m afraid, you’ve already done irreparable damage, what with these charges that Blaise has filed against you, I wouldn’t be surprised if we couldn’t talk ourselves out of this mess!” His father tried to calm his wife by assuring her that these charges could easily be taken care of.
Draco knew better than to say anything against his parents while he was being berated, so he continued to stay silent on the matter as they discussed plans to bribe a certain Ministry official on the Wizengamot, and call on the Zambini’s as well.
Draco’s mind wandered until the conversation took a different direction, and something his mother said caught his attention again, “Astoria was decent enough to accept my invitation to dinner tonight, albeit with slight reluctance. Which is to be expected in these circumstances. Regrettably, no one wants to be associated with people, such as us, while we’re in the public’s spotlight. I only hope that you’re respectful to her this evening, as to not put off the match entirely.”
At this point he couldn’t stop himself from sneering, “Why would you invite her to dinner? I told you I didn’t want to--,” Draco realized his mistake too late. His father was standing up from his seat and throwing him a sizable glare that was enough to zip his lips, before he could even finish that remark.
“You’ve distinguished to us that you’re not responsible enough to make a decent decision regarding which witch you take for a wife!” His father’s composure was wilting. “It is within our rights to chose for ourselves, in this case, whom you will marry. The stupid deal you’ve struck is long over, seeing as how you cannot contain yourself for five bloody minutes!”
Draco didn’t look at his father’s face as he ended his assertion, but he could clearly deduce that it was wise to stay silent at this moment. He wasn’t entirely surprised that his deal was up. Part of him knew that his parents would never have let him chose his own wife, not matter what.
“You will do whatever your mother says regarding Miss Greengrass, or see yourself forfeiting more than just you inheritance.” His father swiftly walked out of the drawing room, leaving his declaration swirling about the room like a chilling draft.
Draco resigned himself to the fact that he’d be marrying Astoria Greengrass, as his mother blabbed on about preparing for the announcement in the Daily Prophet this weekend. But no matter what, he couldn’t stop his mind from going back to a certain Gryffindor witch, and wondering how she would react to the news.
The week had gone by unbelievably fast, and it was already the weekend. Hermione had an interesting week, to say the least. Ginny was absolutely aghast when she had relayed her the news of that fateful Monday night in which she had spent the night at Malfoy Manor. After her initial anxiety ebbed, she was more interested in the details of how this came about. To say Hermione was horrified over having to share the most intimate details about her and Malfoy, was an understatement. She was mortified.
But Ginny took it all in stride, gasping at the more carnal details, and whistling at the shocking ones. But in the end, she had become to realize that Ginny was the only one who understood what she was going through. She was, after all, a female. So she could ascertain the mixed feelings Hermione was having about sleeping with Draco.
She hadn’t seen Malfoy since that night, to which she thanked Merlin. She figured that if she had seen him, she’d probably have ran the opposite way, because something inside her was scared she’d grope him if she didn’t. Every single waking moment (and some unwaking as well) was spent focused on Malfoy. She could think of nothing else.
Why hadn’t he owled her? Did she want him to owl her? Why was it that every time she closed her eyes, she’d see his face overwhelmed with desire for her? Why was she reacting this way after only a single night with him? Did he feel the same way?
She had no answers for these questions, aside from the fact that that one single night was enough to turn her into a hot-blooded pool of longing whenever she thought on it. And it was often these days. She knew that seeing him again was unavoidable, and she didn’t know anymore if she wanted to avoid him at all.
As she sat in her kitchen mixing common ailment potions, she thought about taking things into her own hands. She’d owl him instead of waiting for him to do it. Just as she was taking out a quill and parchment, she heard a tapping noise. Suddenly she thought that maybe he did indeed owl her already and rushed to let the owl into her window.
Disappointment ensued when she realized it was the Daily Prophet owl. After sighing in exasperation, and paying for the stupid newspaper, she set the paper down to read later. She had the parchment out, and was seated down to write to him, but her words failed her. What would she write? ‘Hey, Malfoy I was wondering if you’d like to shag again soon?’ Yeah right! Or what about ‘I was wondering if you may have fallen in love with me that night, seeing as how I have fallen for you?’ Did she just think what she thought she just thought? In love with Malfoy? That thought was enough for her to crumple up the parchment and Incendio it with her wand.
As she watched the parchment wither away to ashes, she silently admonished herself for actually thinking she had fallen for Malfoy. As if she could actually feel that way towards him. A feeling in which she had only felt one other time in her life, and she could see how well that had turned out (not very well, indeed).
That’s when something on the Prophet had caught her attention, and she picked it up to read the Malfoy name printed on the front page. Turning to page 5 (the gossip section), there was a nice article on how Draco and Astoria Greengrass were officially engaged. Not only had Draco posed in a smiling photograph with Astoria, but he had also confirmed their engagement publicly. Hermione ripped the paper into shreds, and let out an exasperated scream that she was certain could be heard three floors abover her own.