Chapter 9 : Almost Perfect
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He talked about how smooth her skin was. He mentioned that her lips were soft. He also said that he liked the way she said his name, and Hermione had to admit that she liked the way he said hers as well. But even then they hadn’t slept together. They went far enough to elicit feelings that neither could say they’d experienced before, but nothing more due to Hermione’s doing. She hadn’t provided a reason when Draco made his definitive sexual proposal, but she was sure that he could understand or at the very least figure it out.
In the back of Hermione’s mind it kept repeating that what they were doing, what they were feeling, would fade. She hoped it wouldn’t. She prayed that it wouldn’t, but there was no true way to tell. She even found it funny that out of the pair of them Draco seemed to be the sure one. But either way it didn’t matter what they did. All Hermione needed right then and there was what she had: to be lying in Draco’s arms just as before. If she could have nothing else, that was all she required.
“…You never wake up before me.” Draco’s voice reached Hermione’s ear. She smiled and felt his arms tighten around her.
“You’ve never slept next to me before.”
“So I cause an uncomfortable sleep? Thanks for letting me know. I’ll remember to sleep on the sofa next time so you can get a good night’s rest.”
Hermione knew Draco was smiling without facing him and began to laugh. He joined her in it and the both of them allowed the laughter to fill the room. Without either of them noticing, it managed to obscure the igniting of the fireplace and someone shouting throughout the house.
“Hermione?!” the voice easily recognizable as Harry’s reached the bedroom. Neither Hermione nor Draco wanted to move from their position, but it was a must unless they wanted Harry traipsing through the house and to the bedroom to catch a sight that might kill him. Instead the two of them rose from the bed, made sure to conceal all evidence of being “tampered with” and walked out of the bedroom together.
If there was one thing that Hermione loved about her house, was how disconnected the bedroom was. It was the last room at the end of a very long corridor, and a short right turn had to be taken to get off of the main hallway route, and then a somewhat awkward short left to get to her room. As Hermione and Draco emerged from the corridor together it was obvious Harry was in disbelief at who was coming in his direction along with his dear friend. Luckily he’d never know from exactly which part of the back of the house Draco was emerging from. Had Harry ever found that out, he’d blow him to bits.
“Potter,” Draco greeted. Hermione felt an awful nervousness at the two of them meeting like this, but to her delight everything played out coolly. Harry nodded in his direction and Draco turned to Hermione with an outstretched hand. “Thanks for letting me know what you saw. I’ll keep an eye out.”
Hermione nodded and took his hand, trying her hardest to give it a quick shake and not caress his skin as she wanted to. “Anytime,”
Draco let go of Hermione’s hand a little too slowly, but Harry didn’t catch it. Soon Draco was being obscured by Floo Flames and Hermione wondered when she’d be able to see him next.
“What did he think of your little stalker situation?” Harry asked as he led the way into her kitchen.
“Well, naturally he thought I was paranoid. But, as you heard, he was still glad that I told him. He’ll let me know if anything weird happens to him.”
“I’m surprised it hasn’t already.”
Hermione cocked her brow as she watched Harry take the liberty to rummage through her cupboards. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that out of the two of you don’t you think Malfoy would be the biggest threat? As far as Iverson knows, yes, you may know something, but what he knows for sure is that Malfoy knows everything. Why should you be the first one he concentrates on?”
“So, what exactly are you saying?”
“I’m saying that maybe someone’s been tracking Malfoy too and he doesn’t know it. Malfoy Manor is a huge place with loads of places for someone to hide. Who’s to say Iverson hasn’t been there and back loads of times and only recently started tailing you?”
Obviously Harry had put a lot of thought into this, and Hermione appreciated it. But what she didn’t appreciate was the way that he wasn’t looking into her eyes or the fact that he was acting vague. Hermione, who had been sitting at her kitchen counter watching Harry make tea, left her position and walked over to him.
Sternly, she asked, “What aren’t you telling me?”
“You never come to see me so early in the day; and the way you say Iverson’s name is just… It’s troubling. So what is it?”
“…Iverson was never in Azkaban.”
“What! But you said-!”
“It was one of his men under a very powerful Illusion Charm that wore off when he got killed by another inmate.” Harry admitted. He rested his hands at the side of the sink and sighed heavily. “Iverson’s still out there. And it may have been him who you saw through your window.”
Harry had come that morning with the intention to take Hermione to live with him while the Iverson situation got resolved, but he never had the chance. Some minutes after telling her about Iverson, two Aurors appeared in her living room wearing somber faces. Hermione recognized them as the same ones who had come for her in St. Mungo’s a month and a half ago.
“You have to come with us.”
Hermione looked to Harry who looked more than sorrowful, but he nodded. She gave him a hug goodbye and was apparated away to Hinds’ office where Draco was pacing the room and Hinds was gathering the faux-wedding rings and car keys that they had once owned.
“I’ve seen you look worried before, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you pace.” Hermione said softly, and Draco stopped in his tracks as he let a small smile come to him. He held out his hand to her which she graciously took and suddenly felt comfort in the midst of this disaster.
“Normally in situations like this we wouldn’t put you in the same area as your previous witness protection placement.” Hinds started out heavy-hearted. “But seeing as it’s only been such a short time, memories have already been modified to fit the description that the both you took a small vacation.”
“How could this have happened?” Draco demanded. “You’d think the Ministry wouldn’t be able to be fooled by an Illusion Charm. Fingerprints are taken for Merlin’s sake. Illusion Charms can’t change biological make-ups.”
“No, they can’t. But what they can do is affect those around the individual with the charm. The illusion isn’t just on the person, but on the hearts of others so there’s no pestering feeling that there’s something wrong or off. What do you think the main cause of suspicion is? It’s the feeling that something isn’t right. Polyjuice Potion doesn’t hide that. An Illusion Charm does.
‘Aside from the obvious reason of why we don’t use Polyjuice Potion, why do you think we make your aliases illusions?” Hinds smiled and presented the very potions that would do just that. “So that those around you can feel comfortable with you,”
Hermione’s hand that was clasped in Draco’s had been growing tense the moment Hinds began talking about the Illusion Charms. And now that he had stopped, she had removed it from Draco’s and held it at her side. He looked at her perplexed, but she refused to turn in his direction. So that those around you can feel comfortable with you…
Yes, that explained a lot.
The car ride back to the cottage was a quiet one. The only words that escaped into the air was Hermione asking if a certain road was the right one to take and Draco saying yes or no. Pulling up to the place that had been their home had evoked feelings of good times. Of course Hermione pushed those feelings down. She kept avoiding eye contact with Draco as she got out of the car and led the way up to the house. She opened the door and immediately smelled the scent of trees and fires. Taking a deep and contented inhale she set the car and house keys on a hook and proceeded to venture into the house until Draco grabbed her upper arm and forced her to look at him.
“Stop it,” Hermione pleaded, but Draco was relentless.
“No, not until you tell me what’s the matter with you.”
“How could you not know? Were you listening at all to what Hinds said?”
“He said a lot. Mind narrowing it down for me a bit..?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Draco’s grip on her arm had slackened some, but by no means was he letting go. She almost wished to put the rest of herself in his arms. “Illusion Charms… The things he said about Illusion Charms.”
Draco still bore a look of confusion as she spoke, but soon his eyes softened. Hermione was frowning and felt as Draco’s hand moved from her upper arm and down to her hand, holding it comfortingly.
“…I have the answer to your question from the other night by the way.” She said softly. “Yes, I think it’ll fade.”
“Do you really think last night was just an illusion, Hermione?”
Hermione unconsciously closed her eyes. Draco had caressed her cheek with the back of his hand. She could picture him smiling at her liking the feel of his touch, and when she reopened her eyes she had found that she was right. She couldn’t help but smile now even though everything within her told her not to. Under any other condition this wouldn’t be. It couldn’t be. But so long as Draco was gently stroking the side of her face and ever so slowly pulling her into him, listening to reason was gone completely.
“How can you be so okay with this?”
“…I’m terrified of it.”
“Because you’re supposed to hate me..?”
“Because I don’t think that I could ever hate you again,” Draco gave a soft shrug. He didn’t know what else to say. He knew that he could never bring another insult to his lips when it concerned her. It terrified him because this was a territory that they had never ventured. How could they maneuver it? How could they get pass the stigma of their past to live in the pureness of their future? Yes, it was terrifying, but the fear was knocked out of him when Hermione wrapped her arms around him and held him tight.
“I need normalcy, Draco.” Hermione whispered to him. She pulled back and smiled as she stared him in the face. “Please, argue with me from time to time and don’t lose your sarcasm. It’s bad enough I’ve lost my mind.”
Draco laughed. “Keep the bossy, know-it-all attitude and I’m sure we’ll argue often.”
Petty arguments, eye rolls, minor name calling, and by the end of each night Draco and Hermione laid in bed curled up in one another underneath a warm blanket. They’d decided that they put a new meaning to the term “opposites attract.” They were a rarity that, for the time being, worked; and Hermione relished in the fact that she could be herself and yet her feelings for him had yet to falter.
Out in public among their neighbors Hermione no longer felt that she had to pretend to be someone in love. No, she wouldn’t say that she was in love with Draco. She knew for a fact that she didn’t fall in love so quickly no matter who it was. But she cared. She cared for Draco deeply. Everything about him made her smile, even when he annoyed her. Still, she thought of the Illusion Charm and what effect it could be having on them. There was no denying what she felt. And if this was what Illusions made her feel, then Hermione thought that they were the most wonderful things to be trapped under.
“Come back to bed.” Draco yawned. Hermione grinned. She had gotten up from bed to use the bathroom, but though she had been finished with that activity for several minutes now, she hadn’t returned to bed and instead was staring out of the window.
“How about you come out of bed? It’s almost morning anyway.”
“…It’s four a.m. How in the hell is that almost morning?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. Draco was such a grouch if woken from sleep and she wasn’t about to argue with him. Instead she turned from window and gazed at him. “If you join me here, I promise we can have a Bed Day. A real one… All day,”
Draco, who had shut his eyes, opened one and stared. “All day..?”
That got him moving. A Bed Day consisted of just what the title said: staying in bed all day. Hermione preferred to limit those days to as few as possible since she’d rather use a full day to her advantage. But then again, Bed Days had their advantages too. Snuggling up to Draco for a full twenty-four hours had a sweet, romantic, and satisfying recompense.
“Staring at the woods like this reminds me that I’m going hunting soon.” Draco said in a lazy, sarcastic drawl. Hermione rolled her eyes at him as she felt his arms wrap around her and hold her close. He tried to bring out contempt in his voice when talking about their neighbors and the activities they wanted to include him in. But they both knew that he enjoyed it and “muggleville” as a whole.
“…You know, you never did tell me how you ended up spying for the Ministry.” Hermione smiled at a lone bunny hopping from the forest and into her line of view, then frowned at the thought of Draco and Chester shooting at it. “It’s not something one just does.”
“No, it’s not is it?” Draco sighed. “…Iverson needed places to keep the people he kidnapped. He sent one of his lackeys to me, asking for my help in exchange or money. As if I needed it,” He chuckled. “I’ve had enough drama in my life, Hermione. I wasn’t stupid enough to attract it again. I told Iverson that I’d do it. And that same afternoon I went to the Ministry.”
“I’m surprised that they’d let you do it. You’d think they’d be afraid that you’d regress into old habits.”
Draco gave her a soft look. “You think that I would have?”
Hermione felt awful. She didn’t mean to insinuate that he would’ve gone back to his dirty deeds, but luckily Draco resumed his talking in order to obscure her guilt and reluctance to answer.
“…The things Iverson did were worse than any old Killing Curse. It reminded me what I’d never go back to.”
Hermione frowned and turned around to face him. “I’m sorry that you had to witness all of that. And I’m sorry that I ruined things-”
“What got ruined?” Draco smiled. “We’re on a paid vacation with a very generous spending allowance. To top it all off, I get fed every day.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and hit him in the arm. She resumed her staring out of the window and then blinked twice. She squinted, as if that would make her see better, and then she moved out of the way of the window and hastily pulled Draco with her.
“What is it? What’s the matter?”
“I think I saw someone.” Hermione breathed. She snuck a look back through the window, as did Draco, but saw nothing. “I swear I saw someone behind the trees.”
“Maybe it was Ernest?” Draco reasoned. “It’s four-thirty… You know he always goes for an early morning run. Sometimes he cuts across our woods.”
“Yes, but…you don’t believe that, do you?”
Draco sighed. He ran his hand through his hair and that was all Hermione needed to feel worried. She then asked about Iverson. About how easy it was for him to find someone. Draco sat on the edge of the bed and told Hermione to close the blinds.
“Depends on the person… Iverson hasn’t found us yet because we’re here, somewhere unconventional.”
“But he’s smart. It’s been about two months now. And we can’t forget the charade of his getting captured.” Hermione proceeded to close all the other blinds in the room. “How long do you think it would take for him to even have a passing thought about us hiding away in a muggle town?”
“If he’s led in the right direction..?” Draco shook his head and reclined onto the bed. “Not long… But still Hermione, Ernest-”
“I know. And maybe all I saw was a shadow. But no matter how comfortable we feel here, we can’t forget that someone’s out there trying to kill us.”
Hermione looked at Draco. She hadn’t even realized that he had crawled back into bed and under the covers. He was now pulling back the bed sheets and making room for her. “Can we have our Bed Day now?”
Hermione gave a comforting smile. She knew what this meant. Draco waned to forget everything and live in the now. Quite frankly, she was tired and wanted to do the same.
author's note: *peaks out from behind a corner* do you guys hate me for the long wait lol? well, hermione wavered just a bit, but the draco/hermione love affair has commenced, yey!!! but alas, where comes good, there always comes bad, but i shant give you a clue as to when it'll happen ^_^
hope that you liked the chap and thanks for reading and leaving me the best reviews! ^_^
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