Chapter 9 : A Compromising Position
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They spent the rest of that afternoon talking and joking, until about 5:30, when they figured it was time for dinner. Separately, they walked downstairs to find Harry and Ron and make plans to eat.
When they came down, they found the other two standing in the kitchen awkwardly, looking around for an idea of what to make. Opening what seemed to be the magical equivalent of a refrigerator, Hermione found some meat that looked, upon opening the package, to be steaks.
"Okay, let's have steak then," said Harry as Ron stared hungrily at the meat. They both turned to look at Hermione, and when she noticed that Malfoy was looking at her too, she narrowed her eyes.
"You all must be confunded if you think that I'm making dinner for everyone on my own."
"You're right," Harry said, looking sheepishly at the ground. "Of course we'll all pitch in."
After some magic and elbow grease, they finally sat down to eat. They ate in silence, for the most part, other than the requisite asking to pass the salt.
As soon as dinner was over, everyone retreated to their respective rooms, eager to go to sleep and end the awkward day.
After quickly brushing her teeth and showering, Hermione hurried into her room and sat on her bed. With a flick of her wand, she turned off the light, and lay down, staring up at the ceiling that she could just barely make out.
Part of her wanted to sleep, but she was reluctant to revisit the nightmare of the night before, in which terror had gripped her bones and it felt as though her whole world was falling apart. Which, in a way, it was.
She squeezed her eyes shut as she realized that was not as much of an exaggeration as she had hoped. This afternoon she had all but forgotten about the fact that what had been her life was now lying in fragmented pieces. Something about talking to Malfoy had helped her forget that for a few hours, which was surprising. She was shocked that they had even agreed to be "friends"...
Trying to block out the confusing thoughts, she turned over and stared at the wall.
Hermione didn't know how long she lay like this, trying not to think but also trying not to fall asleep, but suddenly, she heard what sounded very much like an anguished cry.
She sat up, startled, and crept quietly to the door, pressing her ear against it. After a few seconds, she heard the cry again, and this time she recognized the voice.
She opened her door as quietly as she could, and stepped out, but turned around as she remembered that she should put on a robe. Hastily wrapping herself in a flimsy silk one from the wardrobe, she hurried out of her room, closing the door behind her. She stepped across the hall and entered Malfoy's room, cringing at the sight of his face contorted in pain in the dim light. She shuffled across the floor as he let out another cry of pain, and sat on his bed.
Remembering the horror of her own dream from the night before, she stroked his face to soothe him. It seemed to work, because some of the tension left his face.
Encouraged by this, she bent over him and whispered gently in his ear.
"It'll be alright, it's just a bad dream," she said quietly, not wanting to fully wake him. She wanted to return last night's kindness but didn't know what he would do if he woke and found her crouched over him.
She stretched her legs out as she leaned her face on her arm, watching his pretty pale face grow calmer. As his brow furrowed, she gently rubbed his back, tracing her hand in ovals across it, and his expression relaxed.
Now smiling at his almost cute sleeping face, she yawned and flopped down, suddenly exhausted. Without realizing she was still with Malfoy or worrying about nightmares, she dozed off, her hand still on his back.
Draco drifted out of his sleep, his eyes still closed, smiling. For some reason he couldn't quite recall, he was feeling very relaxed and content.
He opened his eyes slowly, and in the pleasant morning light which emitted magically from the windowless walls, he saw something surprising.
Is that... brown hair? he thought in confusion as he looked down at something resting on his chest.
He moved his legs slightly, experimentally, and realized that they were intertwined in something. Or rather, someone.
With a jolt, he realized that that someone was Hermione Granger. Their legs were tangled together, hers wrapped around one of his, while her arms were wrapped around his chest and his were encircling her waist. Her face was resting against his chest, and both were holding each other quite tightly.
He wanted to separate his body from hers, but he also didn’t want her to wake up and find them in the very odd position. And some part of him, which he refused to acknowledge, liked how it felt to be holding her, and for her to be holding him, their bodies keeping each other warm in the slightly drafty room.
Finally, he decided to wake her up. Otherwise, if he asked her about it later, she would be sure to deny it, he wouldn’t get any answers, and she would think that he had imagined it – imagined him and her in the same bed, hugging or whatever it was that they were doing.
“Er, Granger?” he said, louder than he meant to.
She blinked and woke up, confused for a moment. She looked up groggily, and he watched her eyes widen as she saw Draco’s face about five inches from hers.
“What…?” she asked in confusion and exhaustion. Then her leg twitched and she realized the position they were in. They made eye contact for a brief moment before they leapt up and off the bed, staring at each other. Draco noticed she was wearing only a tank top, sleeping shorts, and a silk robe that seemed to have come undone as she slept.
She hastily tied the robe closed and looked at him, brow furrowed. He sat back down the bed as she stood and thought for a moment.
“I know we said we were going to be friends, Granger, but I didn’t think that meant sleeping together. Again,” he said cheekily. “Although I suppose it is an added bonus.”
She narrowed her eyes at him and he shrugged. “Hey, you’re the one who decided to come into my room, aren’t you?”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, smacking her forehead. “Yeah, I did, but not for an ‘added bonus.’ You were having a nightmare, just like I had one the other night.”
“Oh,” he said, and strained to remember the dream he had had, vaguely recalling his mother screaming, and looked back at Granger. “I guess we’re both sort of under a lot of stress.”
“That’s true,” she said. He could tell she was thinking by the way her brow furrowed just slightly and she rested a finger against her chin. He waited until she looked up and began to speak again.
“Okay, this is going to sound weird,” she started in a strained voice. “But, well, you know how both of us keep having the same kind of nightmare?” He nodded. “And then we end up going into each other’s room to, I don’t know, help each other?” He nodded again, not seeing where she was going with this. “Well, since we’ve decided to be friends and we both seem to want to help each other…” She looked down at the ground, but then finally jerked her head up and blurted out, “Why don’t we, er, sleep with each other for the next couple nights?”
He raised his eyebrows at the suggestion.
“No, not like that!” she exclaimed hastily. “I just mean in the same room or something. We both seem to sleep pretty well when we have someone there with us.”
She had a point, but he was still unsure. “If you just want someone there with you, why not Potter or Weasley?”
This time, instead of looking embarrassed, she answered his question with a logical tone. “That wouldn’t make any sense – it would be a bother to them, and meanwhile you’d still be having nightmares alone.”
“That makes sense,” he conceded after some deliberation. “But are you sure it’s not just because you enjoy cuddling with me?”
Granger blushed deeply but laughed. “Like I said before, it’s not all that great. But wait, I’m sure you’re going to tell me that Pansy Parkinson thinks it’s wonderful?”
“She wouldn’t know.”
Granger raised her eyebrows in surprise. “What?”
“Well, I typically don’t like that sort of thing.”
Her face fell just the tiniest fraction. “Oh. Then you don’t like the plan?”
Draco scrambled for a way to assure her that he did without making it obvious that he had liked being in bed with her. “No, no, I mean, the plan’s fine… I mean, it’s a hell of a lot better than having nightmares every night.”
Granger nodded in agreement, but had one last thing to say. “How about we don’t mention this to Harry or Ron?”
Draco shrugged. “It would be a good way to get on their nerves.” He grinned, but Granger looked scandalized.
“And start the next world war! Honestly, it will be a whole lot simpler if they don’t know.”
When they had come to an agreement, Granger returned to her room to get dressed and then walked down to breakfast, where Weasley was already stuffing his face with bacon and eggs.
Draco walked down shortly after her, and nodded at Potter – he figured he’d be cordial to the guy who was making him breakfast, anyway – and then sat down at the table, where Granger was already sitting.
“Morning,” she said a bit guiltily, not looking at him.
“One of the best I’ve had in a while,” he said with a straight face, holding back a sly grin.
Granger blushed and quickly began to chug her tea with no regard to the burns that the scalding drink would inflict on her tongue. Harry and Ron glanced at each other, but Harry shrugged and they didn’t say anything.
They ate in silence, Granger refusing to look anyone in the eyes, and Draco watching her inconspicuously out of the corner of his eye. He was surprised that she would want to sleep with him – literally, not figuratively – but decided to accept it because, really, it was so much better to sleep with someone to hold, and Granger wasn’t bad-looking either.
In fact, he thought, peeking at her over his paper quickly, she’s almost pretty. If you like the plain Jane brown-haired type. He shrugged to himself. She was better company than Pansy, and wasn’t half as annoying, because she didn’t constantly throw herself at him.
Actually, Granger was being nicer to him than he had anticipated, and he appreciated it on some level, but it still took him aback. He supposed she just felt sorry for him. That made him feel pathetic, but at least they had agreed to be friends. That was something, wasn’t it?
Besides, he thought, smirking to himself, it actually wasn’t half bad sleeping in the same bed as her.