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Chapter 9 : Doubt
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“Don’t you ignore me! Come on get up!” I was suddenly been rolled over and my eyes snapped open to meet the now familiar twinkling grey ones of a Mr Malfoy.
“Jesus, what time is it?” I moaned, swinging my legs out of the bed and pushing myself to my feet. I moaned. My muscles where all tight and still so naturally I raised my arms over my head, stretching my muscles and arching my back like a cat.
That’s when I remembered I was wearing nothing but my skimpy blue green Victoria Secrets silk nightgown.
Sure enough, when I opened my eyes and relaxed I caught Draco staring at me. His eyes raked up and down my body, pausing on my bare legs and shoulders, his mouth open slightly. I felt the heat rising in my cheeks and felt the sudden desire to dive back under the covers so I’d be less exposed. I didn’t want to look insecure though, so I summoned my best smirk and said:
“Eyes up here Malfoy, what time it is and what the hell are you doing waking me up at this ungodly hour?” His eyes snapped up to my face and he flushed a bright red before covering his evident embarrassment with a smirk.
“You don’t know the time Granger so how can you say the hour is ungodly?”
“It’s the morning isn’t it? And therefore it’s ungodly.” I replied smoothly, pulling my hair out of its messy bun and shaking it out around my shoulders. The ends tickled the bare skin of my shoulders and I shivered slightly.
That’s it, confident…sexy...
Wait no! Don’t be sexy!
Do I even know how to be sexy?
Oh my god shut up shut up shut up what’s wrong with me!
“It’s only 8am, come on I’ve got something to show you.” He took my hand and dragged me towards the door to my room, seemingly unfazed by my pathetic hair toss.
“8am is terribly ungodly.” I muttered and he suddenly spun me around so I had my back to him and placed his hands over my eyes. “Draco what the hell are you doing?”
“It’s a surprise.” He chuckled in my ear and pushed me forwards, through the door and into the hallway. I laughed, blindly stumbling forward with Draco’s firm hold keeping me in balance. His stomach was pressed against my back and I shivered at the contact, loving being held so close to his strength and warmth.
“A surprise? At eight in the morning? I’m not ready for this Draco I need my morning coffee.” I moaned, pouting even though no one could see me pout. Draco chuckled once more.
“Don’t worry; it’s a good surprise, totally worth having your coffee a couple of minutes after you wake up as opposed to 0.5 seconds.” I laughed and elbowed him in the ribs. “Hey! Just because you’re a caffeine addict!”
“Hey! I am not a caffeine addict! Okay maybe I’m a little bit of a caffeine addict.” I laughed as he suddenly held me tighter against him, pulling me to a stop. I felt his warm breath on my ear and shivered, involuntarily leaning back against him.
“Okay, you ready?” His voice came soft and sweet by my ear; I could almost feel the heat radiating from his skin.
“As I’ll ever be.” My voice was thick and breathless.
I swear if he kissed me now…
What the hell did you have for breakfast this morning! Whore flakes? PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER!!
“Brace yourself.” He murmured before I felt him pull back slightly and take his hands away from my eyes.
There, in the living room, in a corner by the fire was the most beautiful Christmas tree I had ever seen.
It was incredibly tall, easily double my height, and covered in soft ice blue lights that seemed to sparkle like tiny stars tossed over the dark green branches. I took in the string of pearls, the glittering hanging icicles and the light dusting of snow over the evergreen leaves with wide eyes and a smile of pure delight. Sitting on the branches where numerous decorative birds, some with fabulous white feathers, some with gorgeous light blue ones with silver flecks along the wings and some pretty grey ones with a head of pure white. Dotted amongst them where beautiful dancing fairies, their skin as pale as snow and their dresses made of beautiful blue, silver and white flowers and leaves.
It was breathtakingly beautiful.
But the most beautiful feature of the tree sat at the very top. There, in the prime position replacing the traditional star/angel/Santa was a little brown nightingale, its soft looking feathers rusting as it beat it’s wings and threw its head back to sing its sweet song for me.
Tiny flakes of snow showered down on the whole living room, covering everything in a light dusting that didn’t melt even when it landed on the roaring fire. The whole room was filled with a soft while glow and the smell of pine and spice wafted over to caress my senses.
It was incredible.
I turned to stare at Draco, my eyes locking with his grey ones as they’d done countless times before.
“Oh my god…..Draco…..you did all of this?” I murmured, my hand rising to my mouth as I once again took in the winter wonderland he’d made for me.
“Happy December 12th! Like it?” He grinned, clearly pleased with my evident joy. I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt tears spring to my eyes as I leapt into his arms, wrapping my arms around his neck as I pressed myself close to him.
“Oh Draco I love it! It’s so beautiful! I can’t believe you did this for me this is just! Thank you!” I let it all out in one breath and laughed while brushing away my girlish tears. I felt his warm hands against my back and was once more very conscious of the fact that I was wearing nothing but a thin, skimpy piece of silk. I pulled back slightly to smile into his eyes.
“I’m glad you like it.” Draco whispered sincerely and I felt my smile widen.
“And the nightingale, that’s just, wow.” I shook my head and stared at him in awe. I couldn’t believe that this boy, this wonderful, wonderful boy who’s done so much for me.
Ron would never have gone to all this trouble for me…..
“I figured since I’m making you miss Christmas and all I might as well try to make it suck less.” He blushed slightly and peered at me underneath his eyelashes. Damn he was so beautiful, I found myself staring into his eyes still held in his arms.
It felt so good to be held like that…..
“I can’t tell you how amazing this is, Draco thank you so much.” I leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek impulsively, pausing for a few extra seconds to whisper: “This is the most wonderful, thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me.”
I pulled back, a light rose flush colouring my cheeks as I realised I’d just kissed Draco Malfoy. A friendly kiss but still, and boy had it felt good. Draco was staring at me, his eyes wide and shocked before his lips stretched into a wide, joyous smile and he pulled me close to his chest in a warm embrace.
“Miss Granger it was really the least I could do.” I smiled against his shoulder before I pulled back and out of his arms to rush into the living room. I gazed lovingly at the tree and the sweet little nightingale that sang from its peak and felt warm all over.
“If this is December 12th I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do for Christmas Day!” Draco was beside me once more, smiling into my eyes.
“Wait and see.” He winked at me before he tugged me to the kitchen which was filled with the sweet scent of cinnamon pancakes. “Can I interest you in some breakfast swiftly accompanied by caffeine?”
“Please.” I grinned and tucked into my pancakes, relishing their sweet spicy flavour while sipping my cappuccino. Draco sat across from me, grinning from ear to ear as he devoured his pancakes and sipped his uber sweet coffee (three sugars!)
It was amazing how quickly we’d thrown away our old prejudices and embraced the other with an open mind. He was nothing like the stuck up Hogwarts Malfoy I’d quickly learnt to loathe, no he was different. He was….amazing.
“So I was thinking if you want we could go for a walk later?” He asked around a sip of the sugary sweet mess he called ‘coffee’. I smiled at him warmly.
“Sure, that’d be great.” I reached up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear and caught him watching my movements intently.
“You’d better get changed though; I mean as much as I love the nightie I think you’d get hypothermia.” Draco winked at me and I rolled my eyes.
“Fine, but you get to miss out on seeing more of these bad boys,” I swung my bare legs onto the counter for emphasis and gave him a mock sexy wink and a quick hair flip. His eyes widened suddenly and I swear I saw something flash behind them before he blinked and was instantly composed once more.
“Hmmm….gaze at your bare legs or spare you the ordeal of dying of hypothermia…..tricky.” I laughed, swinging my legs back onto the floor and standing up to pad over to my room. I couldn’t help but gaze lovingly at the singing nightingale as I went, feeling a slow smile spread across my face. I felt positively giddy!
“Oh Hermione!” I turned to peek at him around the corner of the hall. He winked at me. “For the record you’ve got killer legs.”
I laughed and blew him a kiss for good measure before I headed off into my room. I yanked off my nightgown and pulled on some clean underwear, skinny jeans, a light grey jumper and some socks before I yanked on my wellies and a coat. I wrapped my light blue wool scarf around my neck and tugged some gloves onto my hands before I headed out to meet Draco by the front door.
He grinned as he saw me coming and murmured something about preferring the nightie, to which I rolled my eyes. He was wearing boots, dark jeans and a sturdy looking black waterproof jacket. I caught a glimpse of the black figure hugging sweater he wore beneath it and inwardly wolf whistled.
Damn that boy is gorgeous.
He held out his hand to me and I took it hesitantly, smiling at the comfortable warmth of his hand through the fabric of our gloves. I couldn’t help but wish the gloves where gone though, I wanted to touch his skin….
And I was starting to care less and less about what Ron might think.
I am a terrible person.
I shrugged off the pang of guilt and instead smiled as Draco led me through the swirling snow, both of us trudging through the thick layer of it. We walked in comfortable silence for a while, hand in hand, both of us sneaking sly glances at the other when we thought we weren’t looking, both of us quickly looking away when our eyes touched.
“Hermione, what is magic?” Draco interrupted our silence after a while and turned to watch me for an answer. I chuckled at his deathly serious expression and bumped his shoulder with mine playfully.
“Must you always bombard me with philosophically deep questions?” I grinned at him and he smiled back, his eyes lighting up beautifully.
“I happen to find your philosophically deep answers fascinating.” He squeezed my hand lightly before his expression turned back to being serious. “But seriously, what is it?”
“Nobody really knows for sure, but I have a theory.”
“I thought you might, please enlighten me.” I rolled my eyes at him but launched into my theory anyway, mostly because I’d never shared it with anyone before and was eager to see if he agreed.
“Well, first what do you understand about the muggles theories of science?” Draco’s blank expression told me everything I needed to know. “Okay well the most accepted theory in muggle society today is one that states that everything in the universe is made of tiny matter called particles. Think of it like billions and billions of tiny balls making up, say a table for instance. Following me?”
“I think so….it sounds bizarre though.” Draco frowned slightly but nodded at me to continue.
“Okay so the smallest type of matter, though there is a possibility that there are smaller types but that’s not really important now, is an atom. Now there are loads of different atoms and it’s the combination and arrangement of these atoms that make up the different substances of our world, like water is made up of a cluster of atoms which are paired: two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom - H₂O. Following?” Malfoy nodded.
“Okay, a different tangent now but bear with me it’ll make sense in a minute. You know how the human body is constructed of billions of tiny things called cells? Well in the body you have the basic form of life – cells, which make up everything that we are. You have cells specific to each part of the body like muscle cells and skin cells, but you also have cells which are unspecialised that have the potential to become specialised called stem cells.”
“I get the cell part but I’m not so sure on the stem cell bit.” Draco frowned, trying to process the sudden onslaught of information. I smiled at him.
“Every human being starts out as a cluster of cells called an embryo. It’s basically a little blackberry shaped clump of cells. Now think of these cells as children, they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up so they don’t know if they want to be a heart cell or a lung cell or a hair cell. These are stem cells, they don’t know what they want to be and therefore they have the potential to become any cell. You could put a cluster of stem cells in the heart and they’d become heart cells, you could put them in the lungs and they’d become lung cells and so on, get it?”
“That’s pretty cool actually; don’t see how it relates to magic though.” He chuckled, though his attention was focused entirely on me, unwavering.
“I’m getting to that! Magic I think is like a mixture of atoms and stem cells. You have these atoms that don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, so they have the potential to be anything, that’s why there’s no limit as to what you can do with magic. You can harness these stem particles with your wand and using your will and ability you can convert them into anything you want. You can give these particles the power to knock someone back or the power to convert into fire or water or anything. But I suppose you could also just say that magic is a form of energy that can be converted into anything. Either way magic is an unspecialised force/atoms which have the potential to become specialised and can be harnessed by wizards. So, there’s no dark magic really, only dark wizards which is why only those of us who have dark thoughts and feelings can perform dark magic. It’s why you have to mean it to cast an unforgivable curse.” I glanced up at Draco with a wry smile. “Philosophically deep enough for you?”
“And then some. I see why they call you the brightest witch of your age.” I chuckled, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear and smiling at him. “It’s a cool idea actually, makes sense too. Stem cell particle magic, it has a ring to it.”
“Introducing Hermione Granger and her ‘Stem Cell Particle Magic Theory Thing!’” I made my voice deep and booming and grinned as Draco cracked a smile at me.
We stopped walking as we reached the geothermal pools. I stared longingly at the steam and then up at Draco, giving him my best puppy eyes.
“Hermione you don’t even have a bathing suit.” Draco laughed, letting go of my hand to run his gloved hand through his messy blonde hair.
“We could go skinny dipping!” I joked, bumping my shoulder into Draco’s once more and grinning as he rolled his eyes.
“Maybe some other time.” I pouted, but sat down with him anyway.
We stayed silent, staring out at the white landscape stretched before us in awe. It seemed you could never get used to the beauty of Iceland; it was just one of those places that frequently took your breath away.
We stayed like that for a while, just staring into the distance when:
“It must be hard, being so far away from Ron.” My head snapped up to stare at him quizzically. Where the hell had that come from?
“I guess.” I murmured hesitantly. I stared down at my shoes, unwilling to meet his gaze and let him see the guilt shining in my eyes.
“You guess?” Might as well throw myself to the wolves and say it.
“I guess I just haven’t been missing him as much as I thought I would, in fact I haven’t even thought much about him for a long time.” I sighed, shaking my head. “I’m a terrible girlfriend, I should be lovesick and heartbroken and instead here I am happier than I’ve been in ages.”
Draco didn’t say anything for a long time; he just gazed at the snow at his feet and refused to meet my gaze. His face was perfectly blank and composed.
It was infuriating.
“Maybe you just don’t really love him.” His voice was almost…hopeful? It couldn’t be, and if it was how do you take something like that?
Never the less his words circulated through my mind. I mean I knew I steered away from the L word but I’d always presumed that was because I wasn’t ready to feel anything like that yet. But could it be that maybe I just never really saw Ron that way? Maybe I’d been fooling myself this whole time, getting caught up in the moment in the war and seeking comfort that happened to take form in a relationship ever since? I stared at the snow for a long time, thinking of one of the many times I’d pushed Ron away when he’d tried to get me to sleep with him. ‘I’m not ready’ I’d told him, ‘Give me some time.’
Could it be that I just didn’t want to sleep with him?
“Sorry, it’s none of my business.” Draco murmured and I glanced back up at him.
“No, no it’s fine. I’m just thinking that’s all.” Thinking about how our relationship seemed to be crumpling in on itself slowly, preparing to implode.
Maybe I don’t have feelings for Ron….
“Come on, we should be heading back.” Draco got up and I followed him.
We walked back together, our bodies not touching, our lips not speaking.
Our minds spinning.
(A/N I don’t own Victoria Secret, all rights belong to their original owners. Please tell me what you think and keep reading!)
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