Chapter 15 : An Excuse To Be Close
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Everything was a mess and she couldn’t get it straight. She had no idea what was going on and no idea why. In the end she sat at her desk and pulled out a piece of parchment to try and figure out everything. Pulling out a long quill she used for her important letters she dipped it in a pot of black ink and began to write.
Draco Malfoy was sent to Italy by the ministry to gather information on a group over there (purpose of group unknown).
Harry Potter told Draco Malfoy to tell me he didn’t love me.
Draco Malfoy does love me.
Draco Malfoy came back on orders from the ‘master’ because the ‘master’ wanted Astoria in this country safe and Draco Malfoy was the lure.
He said yes so he could see me.
Astoria is pregnant and says it is Draco’s but he thinks it is the Masters and that is why he wanted her safe.
The Aurors have leaked information about the group to the papers so that the group thinks they are focusing their efforts in Europe so they will come to England.
The group thinks Draco Malfoy is spying for them.
Draco Malfoy is actually spying for us.
Draco Malfoy will lead the Aurors to the group when they are in the country.
Draco Malfoy was sent back to Italy to try and convince the group that this is the safest place for them.
Draco Malfoy wants to spend time with me to get to know me again.
He says he doesn’t want to get back together with me (I think he does).
Dean is in hospital because he was injured on a mission to assassinate the ‘master.’
I am not talking to Harry Potter because he betrayed me, so did Ron but I think he is in love with me too so I will let him off.
I am to play the part of the grieving fiancé to the press as well as try and prove that Draco Malfoy is not the father of Astoria’s baby.
Hermione placed down her quill and let out a sigh. It felt a lot less complicated now she had put it down on paper. Carefully she folded up the parchment and placed it in her bag. Now she had gotten it all out she could have a clear mind and write up her notes from the meeting she had had with Draco but now she thought about it that was no less confusing.
He had waltzed into her office at eleven in the morning, chipper and bright with two coffees in hand. One he gave to Hermione and one he took a sip of himself. Without waiting for an invitation he closed the door and sat opposite her.
“Hermione,” he smiled, “I’m glad you agreed to take my case.”
“Mr Malfoy,” Hermione replied, noting his cocky exterior, “I could still refuse.”
Draco lent forward and let his smile waver, “look I really need your help.”
“Seems like you don’t want it to me,” Hermione said riffling through her papers so she didn’t have to look at him.
“What… Oh yeah, sorry, no one knows I’m back and when I just appeared in the Atrium everyone went a bit crazy so I have to keep up appearances don’t I or the Master will know something’s up.”
“If you say so.”
“Hermione.” Draco leaned across and took Hermione’s hand which she snatched away quickly, “I really need your help. Astoria is trying to get my money that’s all, the baby, it’s not mine.”
“How do I know that?” Hermione asked, “you told me you weren’t with her.”
“I’m not, but she thinks everyone will believe her if she says its mine, everyone knows our past and she’s telling everyone she has been with me and my mother.”
“Who’s the father then, if we can get him to stand up for it then you won’t have to go through all of this.”
“He won’t come forward,” Draco scoffed, “it’s the Master.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, “great, evil guy spawn,” she said.
“Pretty much,” Draco replied, “I’m not bringing up his baby, she’s just trying to get me back, turn the press against me, make us play happy families.”
“And you don’t want to?”
“You know what I want Hermione,” he said softly and Hermione snapped her eyes away from him.
“You said you didn’t want to get back with me,” she whispered, scared that Emily would hear, she had a habit of listening into her conversations.
“Doesn’t stop me loving you though does it.”
“I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist Hermione,” he said.
“I am with Dean,” she hissed.
“Which is why I am only concerned with being your friend but I’m pretty sure I can’t do that with Astoria hanging over my shoulder and the press telling me I am a bad person. I want you to believe that I am a good person.”
“I do,” Hermione said surprised at herself.
“So you don’t think the baby’s mine?”
“If you say it’s not then it’s not.”
Hermione pushed a few of her papers towards Draco, “you have to read and sign these before we can do anything. I suggest you go away and look over them and bring them back to me when you are finished.”
“Can’t I do them now?”
“You could but I would prefer if you didn’t, it’s not every day your ex-boyfriend turns up, tells you he still loves you and asks you to prove he is not the father of a baby, I think I need a break.”
Draco looked at her sadly and took the papers, “okay, I get it and Hermione, I’m sorry I haven’t been around these past two weeks.”
“Yeah,” Hermione said bitterly, “why is that, you said you would be there and you weren’t.”
“Harry sent me back to Italy for a week to tell the Master that Blaise had told them everything and that they weren’t safe anymore, they had to come back to England because it would be the last place they would look. I was meant to stay longer but the Master got angry and sent me back to make sure Astoria was safe.”
“So what about last week? Couldn’t talk to me then?”
“I’ve been with Astoria trying to get her to admit that I am not the father. Today was the first day I could get away.”
Hermione looked at him over her desk. He seemed to be telling her the truth so why did she still have an uneasy feeling in her stomach.
It was only after he had left and the list had been safely stowed away in her bag that she realised. She was feeling uneasy because the choice had been taken away from her. In the beginning when Draco had asked her if he could see her again she had the option to say no and he knew that but now that she was effectively working for him she didn’t have the option, she had to see him at least once a week. She couldn’t say no.
Did she want to say no?
As she sat at her desk Hermione wondered if she should have said more to Draco. Should she have asked more questions or made plans with him. When he had left he had mentioned seeing her soon but her words had caught in her throat and she couldn’t say anything, just stare at him blankly.
The voice snapped Hermione out of her thoughts and she shot her head up to meet a mass of red hair. At first she thought it was Ginny but then her vision focused and Ron walked into the room, a weak smile on his face and Hermione’s heart plummeted. Great. Was he going to ask her to look after Lexi today as well as tomorrow?
“Hi,” she said, “look if this is about Lexi…”
“What, no, no nothing like that,” Ron replied quickly. He closed the door behind him and sat down in the chair opposite her desk, “no I wanted to make sure you are alright.”
Hermione let out a sigh of relief and shuffled the papers on her desk just for something to do, “I’m fine, why?”
“Everything,” Ron shrugged, “Dean, Malfoy, knowing what’s really going on…”
“You don’t look fine.
“I’m fine,” Hermione snapped, slamming down her papers and glaring at Ron.
“Listen,” he said standing up warily not sure if he should, “do you want to go get some lunch?”
Hermione looked at him for a second and weighed up her options. She could sit in her office and make Emily get her lunch and just work through the whole thing. She could go out on her own. She was sure she could even call up Malfoy on the mobile number he had handed her earlier in the morning.
“Just in case you need me quickly,” he had winked.
But though she had these options all of them seemed depressing so reluctantly Hermione piled her things in her bag and hefted it over her shoulder.
“Do you have to bring that,” he teased but he was simply met with another glare so he held his hands up in defeat and opened the door for her, “anywhere in particular you want to go.”
“Nope,” Hermione shrugged.
“No,” Hermione said quickly thinking back to her dinner with Draco all those years ago.
“Okay, there’s a café on the edge of Diagon Ally, they do an amazing omelette.”
Hermione couldn’t help herself, “you and your omelettes,” remembering all the times she would go over while Lexi was ill. After she had finally gotten her to sleep Hermione would retreat into the kitchen of Ron’s two bed cottage on the outskirts of is home village where he would make her a ham and cheese omelette. They would gulp down half a bottle of cheap alcohol between them and with a slightly fuzzy head Hermione would lay on the sofa until she would be woken up by Lexi’s cries and Ron’s panicking.
“Tell you what,” Ron said as they walked into the elevator, “we will just go back to mine and I will cook you one up.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, he never missed the chance to act like he had read her mind and he never missed the chance to do something he thought would impress her but though she didn’t want to admit it she could do with the simplicity of it all.
As they stepped into the elevator Ron snaked a hand around Hermione’s waist which Hermione almost slapped away but then she realised why he had done it when they span on the spot and vanished just to reappear outside Ron’s house.
Hermione could never help but wonder if she had come to the right place every time she visited. When she was in school she had never imagined he would be living in a place like this. A pretty thatched cottage with a wild, beautiful garden that was home to birds and insects alike. The walls were stone and the doors a dark wood. It was set on a country lane surrounded by trees and woodland.
Inside it was just the same. A rustic kitchen, a cosy living room complete with toys and books scattered around the floor. Ron made Hermione sit at the kitchen table while he ran around getting the ingredients together. Hermione knew that though the omelette might taste good at the end the kitchen would be a mess; a dropped egg here a sprinkle of cheese there but through everything he still managed to keep going, all be it with everyone’s help.
As she sat there watching Ron make her lunch she wondered if this would have been it. If they had stayed together, if he had never had Lexi would this be what they were doing? Would they still live in this perfect little cottage? Would they be married with a baby on the way? Would Ron make her omelettes whenever she wanted them? She thought not. Both of their lives would be very different if they had stayed together and besides she loved Lexi no matter what she came out of.
“So,” Ron said as he placed her food in front of her, “talk to me.”
“About what,” Hermione asked.
“Everything, I know Harry has been a twat…”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself Ronald,” Hermione snapped, “you kept it from me as well.”
“I was following orders from Harry!” he replied defensively.
“I know, which is why I’m less mad at you,” she lied through her teeth. She was less mad at him because he still wanted her and she couldn’t be bothered with all the drama being mad at him would bring.
“Well, good,” Ron said, “so talk to me.”
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” Hermione admitted, “yes I’m upset about Dean, yes I’m shocked Malfoy is back, yes I’m mad at everyone but I have to carry on and do my job.”
“What about that?”
“Well I heard about the job you have been put on…”
Hermione snapped her head up, “how?”
“Do you really never read the papers?” Ron laughed.
“Not really,” Hermione shrugged, “not the past few days anyway.”
“Astoria has given some massive interview about how she is pregnant with Malfoy baby and they are going to court. I did a little digging…”
“You mean you went to Emily?”
“Well yeah,” Ron said blushing, “she said you had been put on the job and that you were in a meeting with him this morning.”
“Astoria said that she was certain it was Malfoy’s.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Hermione shrugged, “and I bet now they have spotted Draco this morning there will be another massive interview going on about why he hasn’t been here, blah blah blah.”
“True,” Ron said, “is it his?”
“No,” Hermione said simply.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure, if it was his he would claim it, he’s always wanted kids. You know you could ask him these things yourself, I’m sure he’s been around your department.”
“Not as much as you would think, Harry doesn’t want him seen with us too often just in case it gets back to the Master, we have been meeting in a secret location.”
Hermione shook her head, the Auror department and their secret locations.
It occurred to Hermione as she sat there that everyone around her had different versions of the truth. She was the only one that knew Draco still loved her, the boys didn’t know any of that, or if the baby was truly his. Draco was charging through their lives like a hurricane and messing everything up along the way. So why as she sat here with Ron in a completely normal setting did she want to see him.
“You’re still okay to look after Lexi tomorrow?” Ron asked.
“Yes, but you should think about going to the authorities about Lavender.”
“I have done,” Ron admitted, “they are trying to track her down but they are finding it hard.”
“Good, I can’t keep pretending to be her mother forever…”
“You’re not,” Ron said, “your just being her favourite aunt.”
Hermione wasn’t going to tell Ron that she wasn’t even Lexi’s real aunt. It wasn’t worth the fall out but she did put her knife and fork down and push her empty plate towards him.
“Thanks that was really nice.”
“No problem,” he said standing up to clear both their plates away, “Hermione can I ask you something?”
“Can you stop being mad at Harry.”
Hermione stared up at him, “no.”
“You know why not.”
“He only did what he did to protect you, you have to know that. If you had known you would have wanted to get involved and you would never have lived your life how you were meant to. Please Hermione, he’s gutted you’re not talking to him anymore, he only does what he does because he loves you, you know that right.”
“I’m not sure I do,” Hermione snapped, “he hasn’t even apologised to me.”
“If he does?”
“I might think about it.”
“I’ll tell him to get on it then,” Ron laughed grabbing his bag and handing Hermione hers, “I have to get back to the office.”
“I might go home,” Hermione said, I’m only working on Draco’s case so I don’t really need to be in until he’s signed all the papers. I can work out what we are doing with the press in my office.”
“You sure you will be okay on your own?”
“When I have I ever not been okay on my own?”
“True,” Ron laughed and then he leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, “talk to me if you need to. I miss you,” and with that he turned on his heel and left the cottage leaving Hermione to glare at the empty spot.
Dean was so right, Ron was still in love with her and had been all these years. No matter how many girls he had dated or how many woman had asked him out he had always come back to her, he had always wanted her. It made her feel guilty but then she remembered about her injured boyfriend and her ridiculous ex and those feelings were pushed back. She couldn’t deal with any more mess. Ron would just have to suck it up and get over it like he should have done at Hogwarts when she had found him shagging someone else.
I am so sorry that it is taking so long to put up a new chapter! It's been like two months but i have been swamped with uni work and my own personal writing i just havn't had the time! I will try to get something up as soon as i can, please wait for me! =) xxx
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