Chapter 4 : Nightingales
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I swung off the bed and took a deep calming breath before I headed out to face the snake.
Come on Gryffindor bravery.
I found him sat on one of the huge leather sofas facing an invitingly warm fire. I was just about to step into the room with a snide comment or two when I paused.
Malfoy was staring intently at his forearm, his fingers tracing the place where his Dark Mark once was. I could see the faint outline of it, like a scar; a constant reminder of his past. My eyes travelled up to his face and I saw an expression of mixed pain and disgust. I also saw regret shining in his eyes, his intense stormy grey eyes. I felt a stab of pity towards him. What must it be like to have to live with a name like his? With a past like his?
Harry had told me that Malfoy had changed and I trusted Harry’s judgement. I believed that Malfoy was never truly a Death Eater. He bore their mark which of course meant that he’d agreed to be one of them but under what circumstances? No, Malfoy wasn’t ever really one of them. I doubted he had a choice in joining their sick cult. He couldn’t bring himself to kill anyone which told me he had some basic humanity. He wasn’t a Death Eater.
I both pitied and empathised with him in that one moment. Of course I’d seen that expression of pain and disgust before while standing in the mirror tracing the scar on my neck. Yes, my experiences from the war were painful and horrific but what about his? He’d witnessed Voldemort’s cruelty first hand.
One thing was for sure. Whoever this new Draco was, he wasn’t the Hogwarts bully anymore.
And you’re not the perfect student, innocent Hermione you once were. I thought to myself.
I cleared my throat. Malfoy’s head snapped up at the sound and instantly his expression slipped into the perfect poker face. He smirked at me, dropping his arm and turning slightly to face me.
“Sneaking up on me Granger?”
“I cleared my throat didn’t I?” I crossed my arms and stared him strait in the eye.
“I suppose you did.” He chuckled slightly and motioned for me to join him. I made my way over to another sofa and sat down, swinging my legs up and leaning against the arm of the chair. Once I’d sat down Malfoy started talking again.
“I suppose you’re wondering about the muggle washing machines and things.” Actually I hadn’t really thought much about it but now that he mentioned it I thought it was a little strange for a wizard to have these things.
“I am now. Why do you need them? You can just cast a spell to sort your clothes out can’t you?” I asked, mildly curious now. “And how does the fridge work? I wouldn’t think you’d have electricity in this tent.”
“Oh the fridge is especially designed to run off the magic surrounding this whole tent.” Malfoy shrugged this off easily. “But the muggle machines are there as a backup I think. I’m not sure. This isn’t actually my tent, it’s my mum’s. I think she likes doing things the muggle way sometimes, sort of like a calming ritual.”
My eyes widened in shock. “Narcissa has muggle things?”
“Yeah, but my father doesn’t know of course. He’d probably kill her.” Malfoy frowned. “She has a washer and everything like that at home too, in the basement since father never goes there. She used to go off with this tent sometimes for a few days by herself. I suppose being a Malfoy can be a bit much sometimes.”
We stayed silent after that. What more was there to say? I stared into the fire for a while before my eyes drifted off to the bookshelf. I smiled as I noted all the old classics: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Gone with the Wind, Arabian Nights and Great Expectations. My smile widened as I noticed a collection of Oscar Wilde’s short stories. I turned to Malfoy and politely asked if I could have a look. He nodded and I immediately reached for the book. Flicking through it I found my favourite story: The Nightingale and the Rose.
I gazed in wonder at the gorgeous illustrations and allowed myself to be swept away in a sea of memories as I re read the tale from my childhood.
I smiled to myself as I remembered all the times I’d begged my father to read it to me and all the times he’d told me I must know it by heart. I let my fingers run over the words and could almost hear his voice in my head, reading smoothly in his deep voice. I used to love listening to my father read.
Where were my parents now? Did they know I was gone? Did Harry cover for me? I wondered what they were doing as I relived my memoires with them.
“What are you reading?” Malfoy asked curiously, snapping me out of my trip down memory lane.
“The Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde.” I looked up from the book to glance at him. I’d finished reading the story, but I was still slightly annoyed at being interrupted just as I was about to move on to my second favourite: The Happy Prince.
“What’s it about?”
“A nightingale and a rose.” I replied coyly, but I handed the book over to him to have a look. “It was my favourite story when I was little. Actually no, it still is.”
Malfoy scanned through the pages. “Seems quite sad for a children’s story.”
“It’s beautiful. The nightingale gives her life so the student can have his red rose to give to his lover.” I smiled slightly at the romantic tale.
“Yeah, but the lover turns him down and the student ends up alone. The nightingale died for nothing!” Malfoy frowned once he’d finished reading. He handed the book back to me and I took it lovingly.
“No, she died for love. The nightingale did something wonderful and selfless. She was innocent and pure and she gave her life for something she believed in. I think that is what makes the story beautiful. I know the woman was vain and selfish in throwing away the most beautiful of gifts, and the student vowed never to love again but that doesn’t change the fact that the nightingale died doing something wonderful. It’s sad that she died in vain and I know most people would think she died for nothing. But she didn’t really. She died for love.” I stared off into the flames before blushing slightly and turning back to Malfoy. “At least that’s how I see it.”
“From your point of view, I can see how it can be beautiful.” Malfoy was staring at me with the oddest expression on his face. It was almost like….wonder? Jesus had I suddenly grown a second head or something? I felt myself flush even more.
“Oscar Wilde is probably my favourite author.” I glanced away from Malfoy and back at the book in my lap. Flicking to The Happy Prince I started to read once more.
“Do you read?” I asked Malfoy while still scanning the pages.
“Not really.” He admitted. “I prefer to play quidditch.”
We sat in silence. After a while I felt the sofa dip a little and glanced up to see Malfoy sat next to me.
“Can I read with you?” He asked shyly. I didn’t answer; I just shifted slightly so the book was between us and continued to read.
I felt Malfoy’s shoulder brush mine as he leaned closer to get a better view and I felt my face flush at the contact. I was surprised at how comfortable I felt with Malfoy this close. It was actually quite nice. I considered leaning my head on his shoulder and immediately dismissed the idea. That would just be awkward.
Our hands brushed as we both moved to turn the page together and I glanced up at his face. He smiled at me and I felt his fingers stroke the top of my hand, sending shivers of sensations up my arm. I blushed.
Oh get a grip girl! This is Malfoy! He’s probably toying with you. I told myself firmly while removing my hand from his touch and turning the page.
When we finished reading the book I delicately closed it and ran my fingers along its spine. I glanced up at Malfoy to see he was watching me.
“I actually quite liked that.” He seemed surprised by this fact himself and my eyes locked on his just as his locked on mine.
“He’s a wonderful writer.” I agreed, my breath almost catching in my throat as I saw Malfoy lean towards me, his lips parting slightly.
Oh my god! He’s going to kiss me!
He seemed to catch himself and immediately pulled back. My head was spinning. Had Draco Malfoy been about to kiss me? No. Of course not. He’d never kiss a mudblood.
“Are you hungry?” He asked me while getting up off the sofa.
“Actually, I’m starving.” I laughed as my stomach rumbled. Malfoy smiled slightly.
“I’m not much of a cook but I can just about make a sandwich.” Malfoy smiled and held out a hand to help me up. I took it and stood up, still holding the book. Malfoy held onto my hand for another second or so and stared deep into my eyes. I stared right back, my thoughts spinning. What on earth was going on between us?
Abruptly Malfoy let me go, and without another glance he strode off into the kitchen, leaving me standing there feeling incredibly stupid. There was nothing going on between us, I was imagining things I shouldn’t be. A pang of guilt hit me.
How would Ron feel if he saw me here staring into the eyes of Malfoy?
I shoved the thought away with anger. If Ron bloody cared at all he would have at least written to me with Harry. Stupid, insensitive Ronald.
I glanced down at the book in my hand and gently placed it back on the bookshelf before turning around and heading into the kitchen after Malfoy.
After eating we were both lounging on separate sofas. I was lying on mine, my legs stretched out comfortably in front of me and my arms rested lightly on my stomach. I was staring up at the fabric ceiling counting the little silver snakes in the fabric. Glancing over at Malfoy I saw him in an identical position to mine except his knees were bent, forming a triangle with his legs. I quickly glanced back up at the ceiling when I saw his head turn in my direction.
We both stayed quite for the rest of the evening. I kept my thoughts comfortably blank and hoped that they would stay that way. I raised my wrist and twirled the thread that connected me to Malfoy absentmindedly. I stared at the pretty silver string. I knew the only reason I hadn't apparated to my friends already was because of this so called ‘pretty’ string. That and Malfoy had my wand. I sighed. My stomach ached as I thought of my friends.
I stopped myself there, remembering that I wasn’t supposed to be thinking. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Before I knew it I’d fallen asleep.
Draco walked over to where Hermione was asleep on the sofa. He smiled at her sleeping form. She looked so peaceful. Her eyes were closed, her eyelashes creating dark crescent moons that almost touched her cheekbones. His eyes travelled down to her lips which were parted slightly and he once again felt the overwhelming urge to kiss her.
Draco dismissed the urge quickly before he gently took her in his arms. Her slim body fit perfectly in the crook of his arms and he held her there, just for a second or two before he carried her to her room silently, his eyes fixated on her face.
When he reached her bed Draco pushed back the covers with his foot before gently lowering Hermione down onto the sheets. He pulled the duvet up around her and paused before leaving the room. His hand moved slowly and hesitantly to brush a stray strand of hair out of her face before he lightly stroked her cheek.
With one last longing look at her lips Draco stood up strait and left the room without looking back.
(A/N I don’t own any of the books mentioned above, I just couldn’t resist weaving a little Oscar Wilde in there! Hope you like the chapter! Even if it’s just a filler really)
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