I groaned as I landed gracefully on my butt, my cases clattering around me. Malfoy was stood next to me, chuckling at my landing. God I wanted to hex that smile off his face.
He offered me his hand and I shoved it away, standing up and striding away from him. I stopped once I felt the thread grow taught and stared off into the distance. We were standing in the middle of the French countryside. I could see a small town off in the distance, the twinkling lights of the windows winked at me invitingly. I shivered and turned away from the town, I doubted I’d be allowed to stay in actual civilisation now that I was wanted by the Death Eaters. Scanning my surroundings I saw a small creek bubbling towards the town with a large forest rising to the right of it. To the left were vast open fields with various crops growing and a few farms scattered about. It was beautiful really.
I thought of Ron suddenly and felt a pang in my heart. How long was it going to be before I see him again?
Ron sends his love.
Couldn’t he write me a letter himself? Would I be able to write him one? I doubted it. I missed him.
My hand lifted to my throat and I felt the thin gold chain there. My fingers travelled down to hold the small golden snitch charm that lay on my chest, close to my heart.
“Oh Ron it’s beautiful!” I grinned as I held the pretty velvet box which held the most beautiful necklace I’d ever seen. The tiny gold wings on the snitch glistened and the body had intricate patterns carved delicately over the face.
“Here, turn around so I can put it on you.” Ron’s face broke out in a wide smile as he held up the chain and undid the clasp.
I turned around and held my hair out of the way. I felt the light weight of the charm against my chest as the chain was fastened and left to hang. Ron’s arms threaded around my waist and I felt his lips lightly kiss my collar bone.
I smiled and felt more whole than I had in a long time. With a sigh I allowed myself to relax in his embrace.
“I saw it and thought of you.” I turned around in his arms and watched a light flush run over his cheeks.
“I would’ve thought you’d think of Harry!” I laughed, moving my arms around his neck and tugging a strand of his red hair playfully.
“Harry has the matching earrings.” Ron winked at me and I burst out laughing at the image of Harry walking around with dangly golden snitch earrings. Ron’s deep chuckle joined mine, his chest rumbling against my body.
I looked up into his deep blue eyes and felt truly happy for the first time since the war. I tilted my face up to his just and his face tilted down to mine. I leaned forward and felt our lips touch in a gentle kiss. I felt him smile against my lips and returned the smile with my own.
His arms around my waist pulled me closer, his lips pushing more firmly against mine. I opened my mouth slightly and allowed the kiss to deepen, while still remaining gentle and tender.
We broke apart and stared into each other’s eyes. I felt comfortable in the safe arms of Ron; I would always feel comfortable in his arms.
“I love you Hermione.” He whispered into my ear. “You don’t have to say it yet but I really think I do.”
I smiled and buried my face in his shoulder.
“When did you become so mushy?” I joked, mostly in order to change the subject. I liked him, I loved him, but I wasn’t in love with him. Not yet.
His chest rumbled with his chuckle and he pulled back slightly to smile at me.
“I blame Harry.” He laughed.
“Me too.” I chuckled and pressed my lips against his once more.
“Hermione?” I opened my eyes and let my hand drop back to my side. I turned around to see Malfoy standing in front of my levitating cases.
I sighed, my heart throbbing from the memory. I missed Ron.
“Yeah, coming.” I made my way over to him slowly, stopping just in front of him. “Where’s your stuff?”
He motioned behind him and I noticed for the first time huge black cases mixed with my red ones. Huh. Black like his soul. I chuckled slightly.
“Someone’s in la-la-land.” Malfoy commented, giving me a clear look. I burst out laughing.
“Oh my god did you just say la-la-land!?” I burst into a fresh fit of laughter. As in totally unattractive doubled over crying laughing.
“Oh get a grip Granger.” I thought I heard a hint of laughter in his voice too, but when I looked up his face was as emotionless as stone. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” I asked once I’d recovered from my brief giggle fit. I jogged slightly to keep up with him as he strode forward purposefully towards the forest. My shorter legs quickened their own pace to keep us level. There was no way I was trotting behind Malfoy like a little dog.
“The forest.” He replied cryptically.
“Any particular reason why we can’t stay in town?” I knew the answer of course; I just wanted to be awkward.
“Obviously the farther we are away from civilisation the harder it’ll be for the Death Eaters to find us. I thought you were the brightest witch of our age?” He sneered at me, his eyes narrowed.
“So what? We sleep on the floor staring up at the stars?” I glared right back at him as we stepped into the shelter of the trees and left the fields behind us.
“I’ve got a tent, like the one you, Harry and Weasel had when you were on the run.” Oh great. Déjà vu.
“Separate rooms?” I held my breath, there was no way I was sharing a room with Malfoy. I would rather share a room with a dementor.
“Of course. There’s a bathroom with a shower; living room with sofas books etcetera; two bedrooms with double beds and a fully stocked kitchen. Everything we’ll need.”
I nodded and thought about how much I loved magic, and then stopped as I remembered my wand had been confiscated. Stupid ferret.
“How about here?” after a while of walking in silence Malfoy stopped and turned to me to ask the question.
We were standing in the middle of a large clearing in the woods. The trees surrounded us in almost a perfect circle, the huge mahogany trunks standing proud and tall. I looked up at the beautiful autumn colours of the leaves which gently floated to the ground, covering the forest ground with a blanket of red, yellow and brown. It was beautiful. In the distance I could hear the gentle bubbling of the creek and the faint whisper of the wind drifting through the trees. I smiled to myself.
“Here’s fine.” I whispered.
Malfoy gave a curt nod before he started going through one of his cases. After rummaging for a while he pulled out a fabric bag and laid it on the floor. He pointed his wand at it and I watched as a tent rose by itself from the ground. On the outside it didn’t look remarkable at all, just your average one man, blue fabric waterproof tent. Malfoy levitated our cases inside before looking up at me and motioning for me to go first.
“Wait, can I have my wand for a minute please?” I asked. He snorted at me and gave me a look that seemed to say:
Do you think I’m stupid or something?
“Oh for god sakes Malfoy! I just want to put wards around the clearing so the Death Eaters can’t find us.” Like I did for Harry and Ron when we were on the run. I battled against the memoires flooding my mind and instead focused on Malfoy.
He frowned for a moment, thinking it through before he reached into his pocket and held my wand out to me.
“I’ll be watching. No funny business or we’ll go straight to option two.” I rolled my eyes at him. Who the hell said funny business?
I took my wand and smiled at the familiar weight of it in my hand. I proceeded to walk around the clearing, by the tree line, and recite the spells I’d learnt by heart for when we were on the run. The familiar words rolled easily off my tongue and my wand wove the magic into a thick cover around us. I tried not to think about the memories from the war. I tried to keep my mind blank. When I was done with the wards I turned around, and despite my best efforts, expected to see one boy with black hair and one with red.
I only got blonde.
“All done?” Malfoy walked towards me, with his hand outstretched for my wand.
I sighed, took a deep breath and handed it to him. He smiled.
“Nice to see you co-operating Granger.” He smirked. Did I mention I hate him?
“I’m being logical Malfoy; don’t think I wouldn’t ditch you for Harry and Ron if I had the chance.” I sneered at him, my lip curling in disgust.
“I’ll remember that. Come on, you need to unpack. I’d also suggest a shower, you need it.” With that he disappeared inside the tent. Damn him.
I followed him inside reluctantly while calling him every name under the sun under my breath.
I couldn’t help but stop and gasp as I stepped inside. I mean there’s a magic tent and then there’s this. It made the one we stayed in on the run look like….well a basic muggle tent. The fabric walls stretched high above my head; I had to crane my neck up to see the ceiling. There was so much space! It was more like the height of a two story house! I looked around at the huge set of comfy, expensive looking black leather sofas. Against the green fabric walls was a huge black bookcase filled with books of all shapes and sizes. The bookworm in me wanted to instantly rush over to that section but I forced myself to stop and look around more. The bookshelf was adjacent to the huge black marble fireplace, which the sofas were facing. I turned to look at the other side and found a huge, glossy wooden dining table with matching wood chairs (though the wood chairs had a black cushion embedded in them) which was opposite a huge, modern kitchen area with black marble worktops and an expensive looking black stove. There was one of those cool half fridge half freezer things with two peddles in one of the doors, one for water and one for ice, which was also in a glossy black colour.
I took a few more steps further into the tent and found a hallway (a hallway!) of green fabric walls with an intricate silver pattern embroidered into it. I thought they looked a little like tiny serpents twisting over the walls. I hadn’t decided yet if I thought this was beautiful or disturbing, it was very Slytherin though. Moving forward I saw four flaps, one on the right side, two on the left and one directly in front of me. I went for the one on the right.
Pushing the flap aside I stepped into the most beautiful bathroom I had ever seen. The floor was a white marble tile and the walls were silver and looked remarkably like solid brick walls. I reached forward and touched one of the walls and gasped at how solid it felt. In front of me was a shiny white toilet with a matching sink. Along the back wall was a long shelf for keeping various toiletries. The shower was huge, as in, oh my god you could easily fit five people in there huge. It had huge glass sliding doors in a rounded shape and an equally huge black, round shower head. It looked incredibly expensive and I was actually terrified to touch it just in case I broke something. Moving out of the bathroom I stepped back on the soft emerald green carpet and headed to the flap at the head of the hallway. Inside was a washer and a dryer and a long wire for hanging clothes. There was also an ironing board in the corner. I snorted. I was not doing his ironing. I moved on to the two adjacent flaps and opened the closest one.
I found a huge bedroom, which I presumed to be mine as the thread connecting me to Malfoy was protruding from the other flap. Inside was a huge king sized bed with a gorgeous metal frame in the shape of two long serpents, twirling in intricate patterns as their bodies twisted in synch. Amongst the serpents were pretty shapes I didn’t recognise, ruins I think. I had to admit, even though the thought of sleeping on a bed decorated with bloody snakes was the creepiest thing ever it sort of…..worked. It was pretty even. The bed had a thick duvet and the cover was black with beautiful silver patterns that formed the shapes of various leaves. There were about a million plush, expensive looking pillows all in ether silver or emerald green. The wardrobe and chest of draws were a deep, dark wood and were huge. They’d easily hold my things and more. Along one wall was a huge full length mirror which was decorated by two metal serpents which met at the centre and crossed their heads over each other’s….necks? There wasn’t really a difference between neck and body for snakes was there?
Long story short, it took my breath away.
“Like it?” I jumped at the sound of his voice and spun around to see Malfoy lounging against the ‘door’. I was surprised the fabric held his weight and then mentally slapped myself. Magic, duh.
“It’s lovely, thanks.” I smiled then caught myself. Re-arranging my features I raised my eyebrows at him. “It’s a bit much for two people on the run though don’t you think? I doubt luxury is what people expect when they’re forced to go into hiding.”
“I’m a Malfoy, I can afford luxury.” He smirked and with that he twirled around and strode out, leaving the flap to close behind him.
“I’m a Malfoy, I can afford luxury.” I repeated in my most childish voice before and sank down onto the bed and placed my head in my hands.
“Oh Hermione, what are you gonna do?” I whispered, letting one small tear escape. I missed Harry and Ron. I wanted to be with them. I wanted to fight. I was sick of hiding.
It’s not fair! Voldemort’s dead! We won the war! Isn’t that enough? Can’t I just have a break?
I lay back on the bed miserably and closed my eyes.
I had to fight, I couldn’t just stay here!
I cursed Malfoy for binding me to him. I cursed him for holding me captive. I cursed him for not letting me fight for myself.
I cursed myself for not putting up more of a fight.