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Chapter 1 : One.
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The sound of the door slamming reverberated through the small house. Draco grimaced as a photo frame landed face down on the wooden floor. His hands were balled into fists and he was pretty sure his nails were puncturing his palms. This was not what he'd imagined when he'd made the decision to visit Hermione that afternoon. But then again nothing to do with Hermione was what he'd imagined; seeing as he'd actually never imagined anything to do with her. Well, not until recently anyway.
A faint sound came from behind the door and Draco strained trying to figure out whether she was going to come back out or not. He waited a few more seconds and then marched over to the mahogany door. Slamming his hand above his head, he leaned into the door. “Hermione, for Merlin’s sake get back out here!” Of course she ignored him. Flaring his nostrils and pinching the bridge of nose he tried with all his might to knock the edge off his voice. “Please, just come out. What good his hiding behind a door going to do?”
Without warning the door flung open and he nearly fell face first into the room beyond. “I am not hiding,” she told him resolutely. Draco smirked and Hermione's eye's narrowed. She pushed past him and stalked into the kitchen. He followed her and reclined his back onto the narrow door frame. She seemed to be trying to find something to do, opening and shutting random cupboards and fiddling with the towels hanging from the oven door. Draco continued to prop himself up using the door frame, every once in a while he would catch Hermione's eye and she would immediately find something else to fiddle with.
“You could just ask me to leave you know,” he stated. The plate in Hermione's hand clattered onto the worktop and she span round, meeting Draco's gaze with a fierce glare.
“Don't you get it? I don't want you to bloody leave and that's the bloody problem!” she yelled. She let out an exasperated sigh and stared straight at him. Draco furrowed his eyebrows trying to figure out how to respond to that. She was being cryptic, something she seemed to have a natural talent at doing. Obviously coming to the conclusion that he wasn't going to respond, Hermione threw her hands up in the air and pushed passed him. A mess of curls assaulted his face as she exited the kitchen, he rolled eyes and supposed he would have to follow her again.
“What do you mean that's the bloody problem?” he asked entering the living room to find Hermione sat down on the tan leather sofa. She didn't acknowledge him which did nothing to help his rising blood pressure. “Hermione, I asked you a question,” his frustration was impossible to hide. If there was one thing Draco hated it was being ignored. Hermione continued to sit in silence, staring into space. She was picking at the duck egg blue cushion on her lap, laboriously trying to free one of its many threads. It was impossible to read what she was thinking, Draco couldn't tell if she was about to explode or if she was intent on staying silent for the duration.
Some minutes passed before Draco decided that if she was going to insist on acting like a spoilt child then he would too. Sighing loudly he lowered himself onto the sofa next to Hermione. He would simply talk until he got a response. “Problem you say? That's a bit rich don't you think? I mean come on you've had plenty of time to figure out that I'm a bloody problem. And, well, you certainly haven't thought of me as a bloody problem a few times over the past couple of weeks.”
At that last statement Hermione flew off the sofa and turned on him, her eyes wide with anger. “How dare you. How dare you sit there and talk as if I'm the only one in this, this, whatever the bloody hell this is, who has sat and questioned it!” Draco widened his eyes at that remark.
“Don't act stupid with me Draco Malfoy. What about the almighty wobble you threw a few weeks ago? I couldn't get hold of you for three days!” At that Draco's face reddened. Standing up, he took three steps and was face to face with Hermione.
“You know that was not just about you.”
“Yes it flaming well was and don't even try to deny it. Draco you haven't spoken to your Father for almost three years. He's sent you countless letters, why would that one make a jot of difference? I'll tell you what it was about. It was about the fact that I'm who I am and you're who you are and all of a sudden, whatever this is didn't make sense to you!” she yelled gesturing between herself and Draco. A stray curl fell across her face and the strong urge to tuck it back behind her ear struck Draco so hard that he had to recompose himself.
“Hermione this hasn't made the slightest sense to me since it started!” he shouted, rubbing a hand over his face. The slightest shock of hurt flashed through Hermione's eyes and Draco almost reached out for her but it was soon replaced once again with determined anger. “But I'm still here aren't I? And yes sometimes it is against my better judgement because like you said I am who I am and you're you and yet here I am. But you know what if you want to leave it then fine because I can't keep justifying myself to you, it's so damn demeaning!”
Once again Hermione stormed out of the room and Draco knew she was heading back to the bedroom. Following her, he tried to think of something to say that would stop her. However before he could say anything Hermione turned round, locked his eyes with hers and said quietly “I just don't understand how we got here Draco.”
The click of the door drew another grimace across Draco's face. He couldn't understand what she meant by 'how we got here'. It was perfectly clear to him how they'd got to where they were. Sliding down Hermione's bedroom door until he came to rest on the floor, he rubbed his shoulder muscles in an attempt to relax. There was no sign of movement from the other side of the door, he came to the conclusion that Hermione was probably thinking of the nastiest hex she could to send at him as soon as the door was opened.
After nearly ten minutes of complete silence Draco decided enough was enough. Standing back up he wrapped his hand around the brass door knob and slowly began to open the door. Anticipating either a hex or a heavy object to fly his way he proceeded cautiously. But no such thing happened. Pushing the door ajar Draco's resolve softened ever so slightly as he was greeted with the sight of Hermione curled up on her bed underneath her burgundy throw. A beam of sunlight shining through a shaft in the wooden blinds bounced off the chestnut colours in her curls and even though his frustration was still simmering the temptation to join her was surprisingly strong. Hermione shifted slightly and the curls fell from her face. Draco smiled in spite of himself as the image of Hermione sleeping brought the memory of an extremely similar image from about a two months ago to the forefront of his mind.
The faint sound of what Draco thought to be scratching was coming from somewhere; knowing it was Crookshanks made Draco even more determined to ignore it. In his sleepy state he realised that his toes were actually rather cold. Wiggling them determined that they were in fact bare; he sighed and concluded that he would actually have to open his eyes. The room was still quite dark and as Draco's vision focused he was greeted with a mound of duvet that seemed to have sprouted curls overnight. The fact Hermione had taken all but one dismal corner of the duvet made it look as though she could be part of Hagrid's extended family. Smirking to himself Draco yanked at the corner she had oh-so gracefully allowed him to have and waited for her reaction.
A muffled groan emitted from beneath the folds of the duvet as an arm flailed in his direction, missing him by a fair bit. It took a few moments of manoeuvring but eventually Hermione had turned to face him, still cocooned in her cosy mound. “What?” she asked her voice thick with sleep. Hermione Granger may be a lot of things but a morning person was not one them.
“Oh you know I'm just causally freezing my arse off over here because of the flannel sized piece of duvet I was allocated for the night,” Draco answered flicking said corner in her face. She made a spluttering sound as he continued to flick her with it whilst attempting to grab his hand. After receiving a well-placed poke in the eye Draco dropped the corner. “Cheers for that, now give me some bloody duvet it's like an igloo in here!” he exclaimed. Hermione started to shift her pillows so that she could prop herself up and Draco seized his chance. Pulling on the corner forcefully he managed to recover what should have been his half of the duvet, sighing slightly as his toes were finally ensconced in warmth.
Looking back over at Hermione he smiled as she tried to sort out the mass of hair that had decided to migrate to the other side of her parting overnight; she was almost cross-eyed. “I must say I'm surprised I'm even waking up in the bed. What with how you were prattling on last night I thought I'd be waking up on the sofa,” he commented. Broaching the subject of their conversation last night was a brave move before Hermione had had her morning coffee but it wasn't in his nature to leave things unsaid.
Hermione let out a huff which evidently meant she had given up trying to sort her hair out. Settling back into her pillows she turned to face him. For a few seconds she didn't say anything just stared at him. Draco felt rather disconcerted and wondered whether he should have waited to say anything. “Well you must admit it is a little odd that this is where we've ended up,” she remarked as her eyes flicked down the bed and back up again.
“Oh I don't see anything odd about the fact we ended up here.” A smirk appeared on his face as he looked over to the window seat where a pile of clothes was strewn. This remark resulted in a sharp tap on the cheek and he put his hands up in protest. “I was just saying!”
“Be serious for one millisecond of your life Draco Malfoy,” Hermione chided. “You know what I meant. Can you really blame me for being apprehensive about making what seemed to be maybe a something into definitely a something?”
Draco chuckled. “Brilliant phrasing there, but yes I know what you mean. And no I can't blame you but think about it, it's not like you've told me to bugger off at any point in the past six weeks have you?.” Hermione sighed and smiled slightly in spite of herself.
Of course Draco knew why Hermione had, at first, been a little reluctant to allow things to progress the night before. He had had a few conversations with himself about their situation. It wasn't every day you found a Gryffindor and Slytherin romantically involved, especially not a when said Slytherin had made said Gryffindor's life a misery for a good few years. It had cropped up on numerous occasions over the six weeks they'd been seeing each other. Mainly due to how others had reacted, it was an inevitable thing really. Hermione had used the word odd more than once in relation to what was happening and Draco did agree that it was the right word to use.
Only to him the odd thing was that it didn't feel odd at all, not to him. It wasn't as though he had fallen head over heels for her but it didn't feel wrong being with her. He had certainly never bargained for any of it when he secured the job in the Law department at the Ministry. It had been a frosty affair at first but they'd worked together on various projects and a friendship had grown. That's what had done it, her mind, she was scarily intelligent. He'd found himself creating reasons to ask her opinion on projects he was working on and at the same time found himself really enjoying her company. He still remained pleasantly shocked that she seemed to reciprocate those feelings. Never in a million years had he thought he would end up caring for her. But here they were and although there were more than a million reasons why they shouldn't be curled up in bed together, Draco wasn't about to say he wished they weren't.
“Hermione?” he asked propping himself up on his elbow.
“Draco,” she responded.
“Answer me this. Are you happy? Being here with me, right now?” he asked again. A little flicker of apprehension tickled his stomach as he waited for her to reply.
Taking in his facial expression, which obviously betrayed the apprehension she felt, Hermione smiled widely. “Honestly? Yes, I am. Which is mad, crazy and downright unfathomable. But yes I, Hermione Granger am happy that I am currently sharing a bed with Draco Malfoy.”
Her grin was infectious and Draco found that one had also spread across his face. Reaching underneath the duvet and grabbing her by the waist, he dragged Hermione towards him. “Good answer because I am serious need of warming up,” he whispered and began to plant tiny kisses on her collarbone.
Hermione giggled and pulled his head up so that they were face to face. “I'm sure I could put an end to that,” she said and kissed him forcefully on the lips.
The sound of Hermione's voice broke him out of his reverie. Shaking his head to try and rid the images he'd just been imagining he walked into the bedroom. Once he had properly come back to reality he realised that Hermione's demeanour had changed. She looked vulnerable, scared almost. Thinking back to how happy they had been in the wake of that memory he began to feel a little worried. “Hermione, what's wrong? There's obviously something you're not telling me,” he implored and reached out to try and touch her. Draco pulled his hand back in shock when she flinched away from him. He looked back up at her and noticed that tears had welled up in her eyes. “Okay, you're really worrying me now. Tell me,” he demanded.
She shook her head vehemently and wiped a stray tear away. Another one fell in its place and he wanted to wipe it away from her smooth skin, which was streaked with red lines from where she'd been lying on her throw. “Yes, you are going to tell me what's wrong because otherwise I can't fix it,” he told her, fighting to keep himself still.
“I c-can't tell you,” she said quietly.
“Yes you can. I don't care what it is, Hermione look at you. I have never seen you like this. And to be frank it's scaring me.”
Taking a deep breath, Hermione ran her hands through her hair. She shook her shoulders as though she was steeling herself up for something. “Draco,” she began her voice shaking. “Sometimes I have dreams. Well nightmares. About all sorts of things and normally I can handle them. But there's one I have, every so often and it shakes me. Really shakes me, to the point where I can't function for a few days.”
Draco nodded, encouraging her to go on.
“But it's not just a dream. It's a memory, something I went through. Something horrible. I haven't had it since we've been seeing each other so that's why you've never seen me like this. Only now I am with you, it's worse. So much worse.” With that she faltered and the tears began to fall in earnest.
Draco didn't know what to do. Why was it so much worse because of him? What could possibly be so bad? He gingerly made his way round the bed and perched next to her; but he didn't touch her.
“Try and tell me, please Hermione.”
Her chest heaved with racking sobs and her cheeks were streaked with tears. Searching his eyes, for what didn't know, it took her a few minutes to slow her breathing down enough to allow her to speak.
Draco's stomach plummeted. Malfoy Manor, during what should have been their seventh year at Hogwarts. Hermione had been tortured by his Aunt. To make matters worse he had been there. Hermione was sobbing again but he was rooted to the spot. He was there; he had watched her writhing in agony as Bellatrix had treated her like a rag doll. It hadn't been pleasant to watch.
He reached out an arm to try and pull Hermione towards him but she shook her head. “Please don't touch me. Please. Can't you see? It's wrong. This is all so wrong.” Draco moved back to the other side of the bed and just sat there; he didn't know what else to do.
“I can go. Leave you alone if you want. Give you some space,” he said even though inside he was screaming that he wanted to stay.
Hermione however hadn't appeared to have heard him, she was talking again in a low voice. “You were there, a part of all that. A part of everything that made me feel worthless. But here we are. For god sake here we bloody well are,” her voice had jumped up in volume and Draco knew she was getting angry again. She pushed her hair back from her face and blew out a long breath.
“And that's why I said the fact I don't want you to leave is a problem Draco. Because when it's boiled down the black and white of it I should want you to leave and never come back. I should never have wanted you in here in the first place but I did. I don't want you to leave because even though you're involved in that painful period of my life, I feel like you're the only one who's going to take it away. How can I possibly be in this situation after all of that?” she asked, although Draco knew she didn't want him to answer. She stood up, walked to the end of the bed and began pacing with her hands on her hips. Draco felt like was being privy to a private conversation, like Hermione was talking to herself not to him. He remained still on the bed, tracing her movements with his eyes.
“Oh god, how could this happen? I'm the Mudblood, you're the Slytherin with a dark mark on his arm.”
Draco knew from the tone of her voice she hadn't meant that in a malicious way but even so his stomach felt like lead as she said those words. He instinctively wrapped his hand around the place where his fading mark was, even though it was covered by a jumper. It was nearly always covered.
Hermione can to a halt and turned to look at him. A mixture of anger, sadness and confusion played across her eyes. He didn't know if he should say something, if he could say anything at all. Deciding to keep quiet he stared back at her, hoping that he could somehow silently reassure her that was all in the past.
“I mean, when you think about everything I went through at the hands of the people you associated with, Christ at the hands of your family it's disgusting, how I love you, I can't take it, I should hate you.” Draco's eyes widened and Hermione slapped her hands to her mouth and rushed out the room.
Without a moment’s hesitation Draco ran out after her. He found her in the hallway, leaning with her forehead against the wall.
“What did you just say?” he asked her.
Hermione turned round, fear dancing in her eyes. “I…I didn't mean to say disgusting. That's such a strong word to use. I just mean that, well, you know. Oh I'm sorry I said that, I didn't mean it to come out like th-”
Draco held his hand up and walked over to her. “I couldn't give a toss whether you said disgusting or not. It's the bit after the disgusting part I'm talking about,” he told her, not taking his eyes from hers.
She looked confused and stared passed him as though rewinding through what had just happened. A sharp intake of breath told Draco that she now realised what had just come out of her mouth. She looked at him, somewhat astonished.
“Hermione, did...did you mean that?”
“Draco, I…I- I'm not sure. I mean I obviously said it for a reason. Maybe I got caught up in all the emotions that dream and this situation are giving me. I…I don't know.”
“I’m not asking you to say anything you don't mean. And it's fine if it was just the heat of the moment. I just want to make sure yo-”
“I think, maybe, I'm falling in love with you,” she said it so abruptly and part way through his sentence that Draco had to look at her lips for the 'with you' part just to make sure she was actually talking.
He blew out a long breath. Hermione grabbed both of his arms and basically held him in place. “You don't have to say anything. I'm sorry about tonight and that random outburst. All of that, the war, it was six years ago. Everything's different now. You're different now. It's just that dream it affects me so much and now that there's us it just confused me and I just, I just. Oh I don't know”
Draco stroked Hermione's cheek. “I know it would have been nigh on impossible but I wish you would have told me about your nightmares; it may have softened the blow if we'd both been prepared. I just want you to be OK Hermione. Like you said the other month, this thing we have it is mad, crazy and downright unfathomable but for the most part it has been working. I don't have a bloody clue why but it has. I've tried to find flaws in it; I tried my damned hardest at the beginning. Do you know why? Because we have a very discoloured history and I can't change what happened, not matter how much I'm ashamed of it now. But, bloody hell, Hermione Granger you make me happy. It's the oddest thing that's ever happened to me, but it's a good odd. Can we just promise to work through stuff like this when it happens? I think we can do that, things may have got a little bit more serious now but I think I'm ready fo-“ Hermione placed a finger to his lips and he stopped talking.
He looked down at her and smiled sheepishly. “Time for me to have a random outburst I guess,” he said and she laughed. It’s not going to be easy Hermione. This. Us.” She shushed him again and kissed him lightly on the lips.
“I know it's not Draco. Especially if I carry on being haunted by the past. But you're right, we are happy for the most part. Can we just put tonight behind us? Just promise me something? Promise that you'll tell me if it's getting too much, if you want to leave?” she asked wrapping her arms around his neck.
He placed his forehead on hers and gently cupped her face in his hands. “Hermione Granger I am not going anywhere any time soon. That I can promise you.”
What's that Callie is writing again *le gasp* I know it has been so long and I am so happy to be back! Big shout out goes to toomanycurls for coming up with the title and also to HeyMrsPotter for Beta'ing this in record time. I had so much fun writing this so I hope you like. Don't forget to leave a review, I'd love to know what you think!
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