Chapter 20 : Chapter Nineteen: Interruptions and Lacey Things.
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“Toilet,” Hermione grumbled, shoving past him once Draco unlocked the door.
He smirked as she ran down the hall, closing the door behind him and walking into the kitchen to prepare the potion. He winced when he heard Hermione’s stomach contents splash into the toilet bowl.
Draco set the cauldron onto a flame and allowed it to heat up. He had made Blaise enough hangover cures in their day to be able to do it with his eyes closed.
He heard Hermione’s naked feet pad down the hallway toward him. He looked up when she stopped at the kitchen entrance.
“When does this end,” she groaned, walking into the kitchen. She climbed onto a stool and covered her face in her hands, resting her upper body onto the countertop.
Draco smirked and watched her as she suffered while he cut up some ginger root. “You weren’t a very good girl last night, were you?” he chastised, shaking his head mockingly.
Hermione peeked from between her fingers and scowled at him. “Shut up,” she mumbled. “I feel like my head is about to split in two.”
Draco waved his wand and a glass hovered out of the cabinet and filled itself up with water under the faucet. It landed in front of Hermione.
“I don’t think I can handle any more liquids.”
“Yes you can. Drink up. You’re dehydrated.”
Hermione sighed and picked up the glass, eyeing it dubiously. She brought it to her lips and took a tiny sip, testing herself, before gulping it down fully.
“Atta girl,” Draco mumbled. He began stirring the cauldron with his wand before adding minced dragon liver.
“How much longer?”
“Not long, baby. I just have to let it simmer for seven minutes and add lavender.”
“Sounds like a lifetime,” Hermione grumbled. “I’m never drinking again.”
Draco laughed. “We all say that.”
“No. Honestly. This is not worth it.”
“But so many interesting things happen with us when you drink.”
Hermione glared at him.
“You’ll feel good as new in no time, sweetheart.”
“Why do I feel like you’re lying to make me feel better?”
“Because it’s my job now,” Draco said. He stirred the potion counter-clockwise once more before putting his wand down and walking around the kitchen island. “Come here,” he said softly.
He wrapped his arms around Hermione, pressing his chest to her back and curving his body around hers. He kissed her hair and breathed in deeply.
“Ugh, Draco! I smell like vomit. Don’t do that,” Hermione cried, trying to wiggle out of his embrace.
Draco laughed and held her tighter. “You smell like honeydew.”
“Honeydew and last night’s dinner, possibly,” Hermione muttered. She struggled against his hold again.
Draco kissed her head once more before letting go and turning the heat off of the cauldron. He added a sprig of lavender and picked up a ladle, scooping the light purple potion into a mug.
“Pretty color but the consistency looks horrid,” Hermione said, scrunching up her nose in distaste. “Why is it so clumpy?”
Draco smirked. “It’s hangover cure, not Amortentia. Just drink it.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and took the mug from Draco’s hand. She inhaled deeply, bringing it to her lips. “Cheers,” she breathed, downing the contents of the mug as quickly as she could. She put the mug down and wiped her mouth with her sleeve. “Blegh! It tastes like mud!”
Draco laughed and picked up the mug to place it in the sink. “How do you feel?”
Hermione stopped to measure her discomfort. “Way, way better. Oh, thank Merlin,” she said happily.
Draco smiled. “I’m glad.”
She got off of her stool and stood sheepishly in front of Draco as he leaned his back against the sink.
He arched a brow at her. “Everything okay?”
“Yes,” she said quickly. She rocked back on her heels. “I just want to say thank you.”
Draco smirked. “You’re welcome.”
“Okay.” Draco shook his head, sensing her discomfort. He walked to the fridge in order to give her space. “Why don’t you go lie down and I’ll get you something to eat.”
“I need to shower…”
Draco pulled open the fridge door and looked back at her. “Here?”
“Oh, no. I can go home and shower. It’s not a problem,” she said quickly, blushing.
“You could shower here. I just wanted to clarify,” he said simply. He closed the fridge door and motioned for her to walk with him. “I’ll get you settled and make you breakfast so by the time you’re done you could eat and rest.”
“You’re spoiling me,” Hermione said softly, following him to the bedroom.
Draco slowed down in order to fall into step with Hermione. He brushed her hair back from her ear and brought his mouth down to her neck. “Get used to it,” he whispered, pressing his lips to the spot underneath her earlobe.
“How are you feeling?” Draco asked, settling down on the bed next to Hermione. He shuffled the duvet around to get comfortable.
She looked up at him through her lashes and he brushed her damp hair back from her forehead. “My stomach has settled a bit thanks to the potion and my headache is gone.”
“So exactly how much did you have to drink last night?”
Hermione turned her head, embarrassed. “Enough.”
Draco laughed. “You look a lot better than earlier.” He turned her face back toward him. “You’re less green now.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and brought the covers up to her chin. “Thanks for taking care of me,” she whispered sheepishly.
He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “Anytime.”
Hermione closed her eyes. “I think I need a nap.”
“Funny, I was thinking the same thing,” Draco teased. He slid closer to Hermione and wrapped his arm around her.
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “Merlin, you share a bed with a guy once and he thinks he’s entitled to it for the rest of his life!”
“Damn straight I think I’m entitled to it.”
Hermione smiled and snuggled up to him. “I suppose I owe you this much since you had to put up with my vomiting all morning. Consider us even.”
Draco sought her lips with his. “Never.”
Hermione let him kiss her before she pulled back too quickly. He sighed and opened his eyes.
“Have you spoken to your parents?”
“You’re seriously bringing up my parents right now?”
Hermione rolled her eyes and pushed him back with a hand to his chest.
He sat back and watched her sit up and turn to face him.
“Have they said anything about the paper?”
Draco sighed and pushed his hair back. “No. I haven’t seen them yet. I’ve been at work.”
“Don’t worry about my mother. She doesn’t know what’s best for me regardless of what she thinks.”
“I don’t want this to be more difficult than it already is,” Hermione said.
Draco’s face fell. “This doesn’t have to be difficult, Hermione. Look at how easy it is with us.”
Hermione looked at the way they were sitting on the bed, her leg tangled between his and his arm around her back. She had her right hand on his thigh and she quickly pulled it back, having not realized it. Draco grabbed her hand again, entwining their fingers together before bringing their hands to his mouth and kissing the back of her palm.
Hermione cleared her throat and looked at Draco’s face. “I just don’t want to make it difficult for you.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “You don’t need to worry about me. I can handle whatever is thrown my way.”
“But the media-“
“Stop worrying,” Draco ordered. “Just stop. Right now, all you have to worry about is resting.”
Hermione pursed her lips before sighing and scooting back down on the bed. “Fine,” she mumbled, lying down again.
Draco lied down next to her and wrapped her up in his arms.
She rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes when she felt his lips press against her hair. “Is this strange for you?” she asked softly.
Draco paused. “Is what strange for me?”
Draco looked down at Hermione in his arms. He thought for a moment before answering. “No. Strangely, it’s normal. Familiar even.”
Hermione made a small humming noise in the back of her throat. “Okay.”
“Why? Is it strange for you?”
Hermione snuggled closer to him, rubbing her cheek on his shirt. “Yes. But a good strange.”
“A good strange?” Draco repeated.
Hermione nodded. “I’m sleepy.”
“Okay, I’ll stay quiet,” he promised.
“I’m going to want to talk about what you plan on doing about the article when I wake up. You can’t avoid it forever.”
Draco sighed in annoyance. “I’m going to take care of it. You don’t have to worry.”
“You clearly don’t know me if you think I’m going to stand on the sidelines like some obedient pet.”
Draco smirked to himself. If there was one thing Hermione was not, it was an obedient pet. Had he been talking to Astoria, she would have pestered him about it but she would have listened in the end because it was how she was raised to behave. But this was not Astoria he was dealing with anymore. He had fallen for someone with more fire in her than he had ever seen before. And he knew that in order to keep from getting burned, he had to learn how not to fuel the fire more than necessary.
He kissed her forehead. “Just sleep.”
Draco startled awake when he heard pounding on the front door. He took a deep breath and got out of bed, checking to make sure Hermione was still asleep before leaving the bedroom and quietly closing the door behind him. He rushed to the entryway and unlocked the door.
“Oy, you don’t have to be so bloody loud about it,” Draco snapped, pulling open the door.
Lucius and Narcissa stood in front of Draco with raised eyebrows.
“Oh, sorry,” Draco mumbled. “I thought it’d be Blaise or something.”
“No. Sorry. We’re not Blaise,” Lucius said dryly.
His parents stood expectantly on the doorstep as Draco rubbed his eyes and pushed back his hair.
“Are you going to have us stand out here all day?” Narcissa asked.
Draco cleared his throat and stood back. “Come in.”
Lucius and Narcissa walked into the house and into the drawing room, settling themselves onto the couch.
Draco sighed and sat on the seat adjacent to them. “If you’re here about the paper, I’m not in the mood to talk about it.”
“Pity. And we came all this way,” Lucius drawled. “I suppose we just have to get up and leave because Draco doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Fine. Just say what you want to say.”
“I told you to stay away from that girl, Draco,” Lucius hissed. “I told you she would ruin you.”
“She didn’t ruin me. Astoria didn’t say anything.”
“What do you mean?” Narcissa asked.
Draco took a deep breath. “Hermione and I got into an argument-
“Surprise, surprise,” Lucius interrupted under his breath.
“And a reporter overheard us. I’m not in love with Astoria and Hermione is not in love with Weasley.”
“But everyone believes it now,” Narcissa said succinctly.
“I really don’t care what everyone believes, mother,” Draco snapped.
“Draco, our family has been through a lot. Especially with the media, and I would appreciate not being splashed on the cover of every paper once again,” Narcissa said.
“You’re not splashed on the cover of anything. I am. And that’s my own damn problem.”
“Watch your tone, Draco,” Lucius warned. “You know better than to speak to your mother that way.”
Draco sighed. “I’m sorry.”
Narcissa waved his apology away with one hand. “This relationship you have with Ms. Granger is just so strange to us, darling. I just don’t want you getting hurt.”
“You don’t want my reputation getting hurt,” Draco corrected.
Narcissa pursed her lips and exchanged looks with her husband. “Your reputation is all you have at the end of the day.”
“Is that why you told Hermione to break this off so I can uphold my duties as a Malfoy?”
“What?” Lucius said, looking at Narcissa. “Please, Cissy. Tell me you didn’t say that.”
Narcissa looked from her son to her husband helplessly, willing one of them to understand. “We can’t afford another scandal, Lucius. I just want what’s best-“
“She is what’s best for me,” Draco cut in loudly, standing up. “And I don’t give a shit what anybody else says. I’m not going to let a few tabloids ruin my relationship with Hermione.”
Lucius took in his son’s defensive stance. “Alright. No need to get yourself into a tizzy.” He stood up. “Narcissa, darling. I’ll meet you at home.”
Narcissa looked up at her husband and her son. She sighed and stood up as well. “Just think about what we said, Draco,” Narcissa pleaded. “Goodbye.”
Draco didn’t look at his mother, too angry to meet her gaze. “Bye.”
“Draco,” Lucius said in a low, warning tone.
Draco counted to ten and turned to face his mother, composing his face into a neutral mask. “Goodbye, mother. Have a nice day.”
Narcissa smiled sadly. She nodded her head once before turning and leaving the mansion.
Lucius turned to face Draco again when he knew his wife had left the premises. “So when did all of this become real to you?”
Draco took a step back in surprise. “What…what do you mean?”
Lucius rolled his eyes and calmly sat back down. “I mean, when did this fake relationship become so important to you?”
Draco opened and closed his mouth a few times before staggering back down to sit on the chair he occupied before. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, father.”
“Oh, please, Draco. I’m not daft. You two are the worst actors I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve known this is nothing more than a charade since Ms. Granger showed up in my prison cell and told me about your relationship.”
Draco laughed in disbelief, shaking his head. “I really don’t know what to say.”
“Just admit it,” Lucius said simply. “I can ensure the truth never becomes exposed.”
Draco sat back and raised his eyebrows. “How?”
Lucius shrugged. “Easily.”
Draco rolled his eyes. His father’s dealings were always so enigmatic. “It won’t become exposed,” Draco assured. “I can take care of it myself.”
“How can you be sure when you two argue about private matters in public?” he answered dryly.
Draco sighed in exasperation. He leaned his elbows on his knees and covered his face in his hands. “It was a mistake. We didn’t think we’d be overheard in a muggle café.”
“You’ll be overheard anywhere, Draco. Always remember that.”
“I’ll keep that in mind now,” Draco drawled.
“Would you be able to pay the price of exposure now?”
Draco looked up. “Now?”
Draco shook his head. “No. I won’t lose her.”
“But you might have to if anyone finds out about how this relationship began. Your mother would force you to get back with Astoria to clean up the mess.”
“How would that help?”
“You wouldn’t be tied to Ms. Granger anymore. Time erases memories. People would forget what happened. But if you continue associating with her then every time someone looks at you they’ll say, ‘remember how desperate they were to fake a relationship to make their former lovers jealous?’”
Draco scowled. “Don’t say ‘lovers’ father. It’s disturbing.”
Lucius smirked and stood up. “I’m going to go and calm your mother’s frantic thoughts. She’s afraid that you’ll run our name into the ground with your antics.”
“Is that what you think?” Draco asked, standing up as well.
Draco scoffed. “Thanks for having faith in me, father.”
“You’re a loose canon, Draco. You always have been. Even when you got that Mark branded on your arm you did it for all the wrong reasons.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “What would be the right reasons?”
“The right reasons would be to prove loyalty to the Dark Lord and to associate with muggle haters. Although those are not moral reasons, they are the only reasons to want a Dark Mark. You got it because you wanted to protect your family.”
“And that’s considered being a loose canon?”
“Yes, because if anyone knew the truth behind your intentions, you would have been killed for what they consider a weakness.”
Draco looked down and pushed his hair back. He had enough of this conversation. “I’ll see you later, father.”
Both Lucius and Draco whipped their heads around at the sound of Hermione’s voice.
Lucius raised his eyebrows so high up that they almost disappeared in his hairline when Hermione turned the corner and stood there in nothing but an oversized t-shirt.
Hermione jumped and took several steps back. “I’m sorry!” she called. “I didn’t know you had company.”
“I was just leaving, Ms. Granger,” Lucius assured her coolly. He smirked at Draco who groaned and hung his head. “Good day.”
Draco looked up when he heard the front door snap closed. “He’s gone,” Draco said.
Hermione walked back into the drawing room and stopped at the entrance, her face red from embarrassment. “Oh my God! I didn’t think anyone would be here,” she cried.
Draco smirked. “It’s alright.”
“No it’s not! I’m practically naked, Draco. How stupid could I be?”
Draco rolled his eyes and walked toward her. “You’re not stupid. They showed up out of nowhere. There was no way you could know.”
“They? Your mother, too? Were they here because of the article?”
Draco sighed. “Yes.”
Draco reached Hermione and wrapped his arms around her waist. He kissed her forehead. “And nothing. I told them the truth. That we got into an argument and someone overheard but it was blown out of proportion.”
Hermione sighed and leaned her forehead against his chest. “Such a mess,” she muttered.
“They’re rumors. We just need to be ourselves and people will see that we’re not in love with our exes. The entire thing will work itself out.”
“We shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone,” Hermione snapped petulantly.
“Then we won’t.”
“But what will people think?”
Draco rolled his eyes and brought his arms up her back, holding her to him more tightly. “I think you need more rest.”
“I’m just overanalyzing everything,” Hermione mumbled.
“The first step is admitting it,” Draco joked. “Come on, let’s go back to bed. I think we both deserve a lazy day.”
“Before things get really out of hand?” Hermione asked, pulling back to look up at Draco.
Draco nodded and kissed the tip of her nose. “Come on. We’re burning daylight.”
Hermione smiled and turned to walk to the bedroom. Draco smacked her behind and she yelped, turning to glare at him. She pointed in front of her. “Go on, I’m not letting you walk behind me now. You’ve lost all trust!”
Draco laughed and snaked his arms around her waist from behind her. He nipped her ear. “I’d say I’m sorry but I’m not.”
They walked up the stairs and Draco pushed open his bedroom door. Hermione faltered in her step, which caused Draco to stop.
“What is it?” Draco asked.
Hermione stepped out of his hold and walked toward the chair in the corner of his room. Something had caught her eye. She looked at the pile of clothes on the chair that Draco had discarded earlier. His jeans and shirt were thrown over something that looked oddly familiar to her. She picked up the offending pink piece of lace and glowered at it.
“I fully intend to see you in that later on,” Draco’s low, rough voice called out from the other side of the room.
She smothered her smile and turned to him with an affronted expression. “Excuse me? That’s rather forward of you.”
Draco smirked. “Go put it on, Granger. I want to see if my fantasies do reality justice.” He gave an exaggerated groan. “Oh no!” he said, smacking his palm to his forehead. “I used your surname. How silly of me.”
Hermione watched him walk toward her, as she stood rooted to the spot clutching the offending pale pink lingerie in her hand.
“You cheated,” Hermione breathed as Draco pressed his lips against her neck.
“You said it on purpose.”
“Prove it,” Draco mumbled, kissing the spot above her collarbone.
Hermione’s eyes fluttered shut. “Oh.”
Draco smirked against her skin and pulled back to take in her expression. The lack of contact caused Hermione to open her eyes. She slapped his arm.
“You’re such a tease,” she whined.
Draco laughed. “Do you want me to keep going?”
Hermione blushed. “I don’t care.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Of course you don’t.”
Draco looked confused. “For what?”
Hermione sighed and went to sit on the bed. “I’m not some insanely sexual vixen who oozes sexuality and can seduce you with a bat of my lashes.”
Draco scoffed. “What?”
Hermione covered her face in her hands and groaned. “This is so embarrassing!”
Draco sat on the bed next to Hermione. “You are very sexy, kitten.”
Hermione looked up and glared at him with a disbelieving expression.
“I swear,” Draco promised. “You’re so sexy I can’t even handle it sometimes.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I’m so sexy that I need constant reassurance of it,” she muttered sarcastically.
“Why do you?” he asked.
Hermione shrugged. “I mean, Ron did dump me and begin dating a supermodel. So…”
Draco scoffed. “He’s the reason you don’t think you’re sexy? He’s a bloody wanker. He lost the best thing in the world because of his stupidity.”
“You’re just saying that.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “I never imagined Hermione Granger to be self-conscious.”
“I never was before because I never cared about sexiness or all that rubbish. I was confidant in my intellectual abilities. Looks were the farthest thing from my mind.”
“Well, for the record, I think you’re the sexiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on and you have a beautiful mind at that.”
Hermione blushed. “Thanks,” she mumbled. “I’m sorry if it seems like I’m fishing for compliments.”
Draco smirked. “Not at all.”
Hermione looked down at her hands, still clutching lace. “I’ll be right back.”
She stood up and Draco watched in confusion as she walked toward his bedroom door.
“Where are you going?”
“Err…don’t worry. I’ll be back.”
Before Draco could say anything else she ran out of the room and down the stairs. Draco quickly followed. He opened his mouth to protest when he saw her open the front door and leave, but it was too late- the crack signaling her departure.
Hermione ran into the stadium and waved her arms around. Someone blew a whistle and seven brooms came whizzing down to the ground.
“Oy! What’s the meaning of this?” an angry woman growled. She was approaching Hermione at an alarming rate.
“I’m so sorry! I just need to talk to Ginny Weasley. It’s an emergency.”
Ginny walked forward. “Hermione, what’s going on?” The alarm in her voice was evident and the coach and other players dispersed.
Hermione clutched at Ginny’s arm. “I need to talk to you. Now.”
Ginny ushered her to the stands and they both slipped underneath them so as not to be heard. “What’s up?”
Hermione took a deep breath and blushed red. “How do I be sexy?”
Ginny ogled her friend. She looked down at her hands and noticed the scrap of pink lingerie she was holding. “For starters, you can put that on.”
Hermione’s eyes bulged and she quickly hid it behind her.
“And where are your pants?” Ginny exclaimed.
Hermione groaned and pulled down her shirt. “I’m in a hurry. I’m a mess, Gin!”
“I can see that. What happened?”
Hermione bit her lip.
“Oh my god,” Ginny laughed. “You’re trying to be sexy for Malfoy?”
“Shh! Ginny!” Hermione hissed, looking around. “Just help me.”
“How do you expect me to do that?”
Hermione slumped in defeat. “I just want to try with him, you know? He’s always making the first move and I want to impress him.”
Ginny looked at her like she was crazy. “Are you feeling alright?”
Ginny sighed. “Okay, just be yourself but stop overthinking everything because you always do that and it’ll kill the mood.”
“Overthinking is being myself.”
“Then don’t be yourself! I don’t know, Hermione. You’ve done this before.”
“I know, I know. But clearly it didn’t work if Ron ended up leaving me for another woman.”
Ginny pursed her lips. “He didn’t leave you for another woman. He left you and then found another woman. Stop beating yourself up about it. You aren’t boring or bad in bed, Hermione.”
“How do you know?” Hermione snapped. “Draco was with Astoria. She oozes sex appeal. He’s even said so himself.”
Ginny huffed in annoyance. “Go back there, put on that lingerie and let things fall where they may.”
Hermione bit her lip. “You don’t think it’s too soon?”
Ginny threw her arms up in frustration. “Do you want me to talk you out of it? Is that why you’re here?”
“I don’t know!”
“Hermione, I think you should just do it. You clearly want the guy. You confessed it to me last night. Just go, muster up the courage to slip into something sexier, and pounce on him.”
Hermione looked horrified. “Okay.”
Ginny nodded. “I believe in you. I have to go.”
But Ginny had already left the seclusion of the stands and was marching back to her team.
Hermione frowned, took a deep breath, and apparated back to Malfoy Mansion.
Draco pulled open the door when he heard her arrive. “Where the hell did you go?” he snapped. “You can’t just leave like that, Hermione. I was worried.”
Hermione stood up straighter and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, pushing her way into the house and dragging him with her toward the bedroom.
“Hey, woah! Hermione, slow down!”
They both entered the bedroom, Hermione leaving him in front of the bed as she headed into the bathroom.
She locked the door behind her and stood facing the mirror. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were bright with excitement and anxiety. She took a deep breath and smoothed her hair back before holding out the pink lacey lingerie for inspection.
She jumped when Draco began pounding on the door. “What the hell has gotten into you, Hermione?” he demanded. “Open the door. I want to make sure you’re okay.”
“I’ll be out in a minute,” she called in a shaky voice. She looked at the garment in her hands once more, trying to muster up the courage.
It was now or never.
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