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Chapter 28 : Chapter Twenty-Seven: Peace of Mind.
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Hermione carried the tray adorned with tea into the room and placed it on the table. Narcissa pursed her lips with disapproval. “I just don’t understand why you won’t secure a house elf, Draco.”
Hermione clenched her jaw and Draco tried his hardest not to smirk at her murderous expression. Narcissa, however, was oblivious to Hermione’s ire.
“House elves aren’t necessary. I’m fully capable of carrying a tray,” Hermione said tightly.
Lucius raised his eyebrows at Hermione’s sharp tone. Narcissa ignored it.
“Well, that’s besides the point, isn’t it, dear? Ladies with class do not lower themselves to the level of a house elf.”
Hermione sat down next to Draco. “Well, then, I suppose class is just something I don’t possess.”
Narcissa turned her shocked gaze to her husband who quickly busied himself by pouring milk into his tea.
Draco cleared his throat rather loudly and picked up his teacup, taking a sip. “How’s business, father?”
“Eh, the same. Nothing ever seems to change when you continue doing business with the same circle of people.”
“Lucius runs a rather large company that involves pureblood investments,” Narcissa said informatively to Hermione. “We were hoping that one day Draco would take over.”
“But I became a healer instead and broke my mummy’s heart,” Draco muttered scathingly.
Hermione lowered her head and smiled.
“It’s not very demanding work. You’ll have an entire army of people working under you. I don’t understand why you can’t do it as well as healing.”
“Mother, I have no interest in owning father’s company.”
“Well, where will it go then?” Narcissa snapped. “We only had one child. You have obligations as a Malfoy, dear.”
“You’ve become quite the disappointment to your mother, Draco,” Lucius drawled.
Hermione frowned. “You can’t be serious. Draco is an extraordinary man who’s achieved so much at such a young age.”
Draco sighed. “He’s trying to be funny. Ignore him.”
“My biggest regret is that Astoria couldn’t talk you into it,” Narcissa sighed. She picked up her tea, took a sip of it, scowled lightly, and put it back down.
Draco glanced at Hermione and found her chewing her bottom lip. He placed his hand on her thigh and gave it a light squeeze of reassurance. “Astoria was rather content with the paycheck I was receiving from St. Mungo’s. She wasn’t worried about me taking over the family business.”
“Oh, Draco. You make it seem like she was only after you for your money,” Narcissa chastised. “You two were madly in love if I recall.”
“I was fourteen, mother. I knew nothing of love,” he snapped.
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, dear. You’re just being coy because Ms. Granger is next to you. I’m sure she realizes you have a past.”
“I do,” Hermione admitted.
“And you’ve been in love as well, I presume? With that Weasley boy?”
Draco clenched his jaw and simultaneously gripped Hermione’s thigh more tightly.
“Draco,” she hissed, looking pointedly at his hand when he turned his attention to her.
He quickly released his hold on her leg as though she had burned him. He returned his hand again and gently rubbed the spot he had squeezed too tightly before. He then looked at Narcissa. “There’s no need to bring up the past, Mother.”
“And I must say, I agree. We should be going,” Lucius said suddenly. “It’s getting late.”
Draco automatically stood up and Hermione widened her eyes at his rudeness.
“Please, stay longer. You only just got here,” she said quickly, if only to be polite.
Draco clenched his jaw.
Lucius directed a small smile to Hermione. “No, it is rather late. We’re not as young as we once were,” he teased. “Are you ready to go, dear?” he asked Narcissa.
Narcissa pursed her lips and stood up. “Yes, I suppose.”
Draco made his way around the table and to the entrance of the tearoom.
Lucius put up a hand. “We are fully capable of showing ourselves out.”
Narcissa looked affronted at the prospect of opening the front door on her own.
Draco smirked at his mother’s expression. “See you soon, then.”
“Goodnight,” Hermione called.
Lucius nodded at the both of them and allowed Narcissa to walk past them all with her nose turned up.
Draco and Hermione lay in his bed that night, her cheek against his bare chest and a thin black sheet wrapped securely around them. He brushed her hair back from her face and she smiled.
“Tea was interesting,” she mumbled.
Draco snorted in disbelief. “That’s one way to put it. My mother is getting more and more impossible with age.”
Hermione laughed. “Your father seems much more reasonable.”
“That’s because he is. He really likes you, Hermione,” Draco admitted in a low voice. He skimmed his fingers up and down her arm. “He thinks I need someone like you.”
“Someone like me?” she repeated lightly. “And what exactly does that entail?”
She felt Draco shrug beneath her. “Someone with fire inside of her; someone who could challenge me and stand up for herself. You have a mind of your own, Hermione, and you’ve never been afraid to use it. It’s something both my father and myself value in a person.”
Hermione felt herself redden. She was glad he could not see her face. She continued speaking against his chest. “And your mother doesn’t want that for you?”
Draco sighed. “She thinks I need a trophy wife. Someone I can place wherever I need her to make me look good.”
Hermione frowned. “Oh.”
“She would love you if you’d keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself. A pretty face is all she thinks a wife needs to have.”
“That’s rather archaic,” Hermione noted bitterly.
“She doesn’t hate you for being intelligent or anything like that, sweetheart. She thinks you’re brilliant. When you were working on my father’s case she would go on and on about you. She respects a woman with a sharp mind. She just doesn’t want that for her son.”
Hermione pushed herself up onto her elbow to look at Draco. He smiled up at her and tucked her hair behind her ear.
“I won’t embarrass you, Draco,” Hermione said quietly. “I swear, I won’t.”
Draco scowled at her. “You couldn’t embarrass me even if you tried.”
“Have I told you how much I love you, lately?” Draco asked gently, skimming his thumb across her cheek.
Hermione grinned wickedly at him. “How much do you love me?”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
“Because I want you to go talk to Pansy.”
Draco rolled his eyes and began to sit up, forcing Hermione to accommodate to his change in position. “You and my father, I swear,” he muttered. “Fine. I will go talk to Pansy.” He sat back against the headboard.
“Yes. I’ll go straighten this entire thing out. Will that make you happy?”
“Very much,” Hermione said. She leaned over and kissed him. “I just want this whole thing settled and behind us. I’m a bit sick of it.”
Draco scoffed. “You’re telling me.”
“When will you go talk to her?”
“Tomorrow, I suppose. I don’t want to get Blaise involved and he should be at work. I’ll be able to properly avoid him.”
“How long have Blaise and Pansy been together?” Hermione asked. She grabbed a pillow and placed it next to Draco before leaning against it.
Draco shrugged. “Basically forever. All throughout Hogwarts. She had claimed him early on after Astoria placed her claim on me. “ He smiled at the memory. “But since Astoria was a year younger than us, Pansy and I were pretty close.”
“I remember the two of you always being together.”
“We grew up together since we were in diapers, really. But there came a point when she stopped growing up unlike the rest of us. She’s rather immature and she has been for as long as I could remember.”
Hermione huffed. “I’m sorry, I know you’re her friend, but what on earth does Blaise see in her?”
Draco smirked. “I don’t know. Half the time I think Blaise is just going with the flow. Pansy told him they were dating during our second year and he just went with it. He never asked questions.”
“That seems rather spineless,” Hermione frowned. “He deserves so much better than Pansy Parkinson.”
“Darling, your bitterness is showing,” Draco teased. He sighed. “It’s just the way Blaise is. Ignorance is bliss with him, and I don’t want to get him involved, or shed light on the fact that his girlfriend is a conniving psychopath.”
“You’re not being a very good friend,” Hermione chastised.
Draco shrugged. “He’s never really complained about her. Maybe she’s good to him.”
“And awful to everyone else?” Hermione asked disbelievingly.
“It’s possible.” He placed a kiss on her head. “Darling, just leave it to me. I’ll get everything sorted out.”
“You always do.”
Draco smiled. “Exactly.”
“Can we have breakfast together before I go to work tomorrow?”
“Do dragons breathe fire?”
Hermione smiled and rolled her eyes. “So, yes, then?”
Draco finished dressing after his shower and noticed that Hermione wasn’t in the room. He frowned; surprised that she had already gotten ready for the day. He headed downstairs and smiled at her slumped form as he entered the kitchen. He had always assumed she would be a morning person, and she was to some extent, but the first half hour after waking up left her grumpy and absolutely adorable, in his opinion.
“What’ll you have, sweetheart?” Draco asked as he walked past her and planted a kiss on her neck.
Hermione yawned and put her elbows on the kitchen counter. “Whatever you want.”
Draco opened the fridge door and frowned. “How about a fry?”
“Sounds great. Did you go for your run already?”
Draco pulled some eggs, scallions, and tomatoes out and closed the door. “Yeah. I got back about a half hour ago.”
“I don’t know how you do it,” Hermione grumbled.
Draco smirked. “It’s not like you sleep in all day. You’re usually up by 9:30 on the weekends.”
“I know, but you wake up at half past four in the morning sometimes to run!”
“It’s the best way to start the day,” he shrugged. “You should try it some time.”
Hermione laughed. “Ha! I think the last time I ran was during the Battle of Hogwarts and the only reason I was running was because it was for my life.”
Draco smirked and began cracking the eggs into a bowl. “Okay, so I’ll throw some hexes at you from behind to get you going.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and stood up from her stool. “Can I help?”
Draco looked around the kitchen. “Can you peel those potatoes, love?”
“I think I’m capable of that,” Hermione muttered. She crossed the kitchen and grabbed two potatoes. She opened a drawer and fished out a peeler. She looked up and found Draco watching her. “What is it?”
“Move in with me.”
Hermione blinked. “What?”
“Come on, sweetheart. You know where the peeler is. I think it’s officially time you move in.”
Hermione smiled. “You’re basing this huge milestone in our relationship on my ability to navigate your kitchen for small appliances?”
“Yes. If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is.”
Hermione rolled her eyes with a laugh. “You’re mental.”
“Is that a yes?”
Hermione frowned. “I…really like my flat.”
Hermione smiled. “Draco, it’s only been about three months. We’re still getting to know each other. Do you really think this would be a good idea?”
“I already know you. You like red wine and prefer your steak medium well so that it’s only a little pink in the center. You love the smell of books and the sound of rain. You make a small growling sound whenever I get out of bed at half past four in the morning. You use cherry blossom scented body wash in the shower but vanilla scented bubbles in your bath. You overanalyze every bloody thing that happens around you. You prefer the left side of the bed and you sleep with one pillow. Need I say more?”
Hermione narrowed her eyes. “You have a keen eye.”
“I know you. And whatever I don’t know, I’ll learn over time.”
She sighed. “I’ll think about it.”
Draco nodded once. “That’s all I ask.”
Hermione peeled the potatoes and walked over to Draco. “I’m going to get the tea started.”
Draco made room at the stove for her. “You know, I think settling things with Pansy will be a good thing. We could put this all behind us, and move on.”
Hermione settled herself next to him and grinned. “I’m glad you agree. I have a good feeling about this. I really think she’ll understand.”
Draco nodded once. “I think you’re right.”
“When are you going to go see her?”
Draco turned on the stove and began heating the oil. “When you leave for work. Blaise should be gone by then.”
Hermione smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek. “This will be great,” she said confidently.
Draco knocked on the Zabini Mansion’s door and stood back, waiting for it to open. He had no idea what he would say to Pansy without starting an argument. They were equally stubborn, and he knew she had an arsenal of poisonous words to throw at him. He knew she would attack Hermione, first and foremost, and he wondered how he would react. He hadn’t seen or talked to her since his feelings for Hermione had taken a dramatic turn. Would he stand there and defend Hermione? Of course he would. That wasn’t even a question. But would he be able to keep his head when he did it? The last thing he wanted was to piss off Pansy. He knew what she was capable of. This was meant to be a peace offering, after all.
The door opened and he stood face to face with Blaise. His best friend raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Draco! What’s going on, mate? Come on in.” He stood aside and Draco had no choice but to walk inside.
“No work today?” Draco asked nonchalantly.
“Nah. Decided to take the day off. What are you doing here?”
Draco hung up his coat on the rack next to the door. “Err…I came to see Pansy, actually. I had something to ask her.”
“Ah. She’s bossing some house elves around in the kitchen. Apparently she wasn’t too thrilled with breakfast.”
Draco quietly scoffed to himself. Typical Pansy. “So that’s why you opened the door?”
Blaise grinned. “Yeah. She left me no choice.” They walked into the drawing room and sat down. “Everything okay?”
Draco was just about to open his mouth when Pansy walked into the room, cutting him off. “We really need to hire some new elves, Blaise. Those three are driving me mad. I might as well be doing all the work myself. Draco. What are you doing here?”
Draco pursed his lips. The way she asked that question was so different than the way Blaise asked it. Her simple inquiry was dripping with venom. “I thought I’d come see you for a bit, Pans. Is that a problem?”
She narrowed her eyes at him, changing her focus from Draco to Blaise and then back again. “What about?”
“It’s about Astoria, actually,” he admitted. Draco figured he might as well stay as close to the truth as possible in order to keep Blaise from getting too suspicious. He was still hoping this conversation could go off without a hitch, and without Blaise knowing the details of it.
“Last I heard you wanted nothing to do with her,” Pansy snapped. “She was a mess when she came to see me the other day. You broke her heart.”
Draco raised his eyebrows. “I did?”
“Why? What happened?” Blaise asked.
“Draco told her he wanted nothing to do with her when all she wanted was to be his friend,” Pansy answered hotly.
“Friend?” Draco scoffed.
“Well, finally,” Blaise cut in. “He’s with Granger now, babe. Astoria shouldn’t be butting into another relationship. People will talk.”
Pansy ground her teeth. “He shouldn’t be with that bushy-haired know-it-all! He should be with Astoria.”
Blaise sighed and shook his head. “Here we go,” he muttered under his breath.
“Granger has nothing to offer you, Draco. You need a wife like Astoria. You marry the name and Granger is nothing! She has nothing to offer you. She’s not worth tainting your lineage.”
Draco took a deep breath and counted to ten. He remained seated with his elbows on his knees. “My lineage isn’t a concern for me,” he grit out.
“Well, then, you’re an idiot. You have to think of your future.”
“You sound like my mother,” Draco snapped. “And I’ll tell you what I told her: I am with Hermione now. Astoria and I are over. For good. So you might as well get over it, Pansy.”
“Honestly, babe,” Blaise shrugged. “It’s not really your business.”
“It is my business! My best friend is still in love with him and she deserves happiness! She deserves the Malfoy name!”
Draco was propelled to his feet. “I don’t love her!” he hollered. “I don’t want someone who only wants my name! I want someone who wants me!”
“Astoria loves you, you prat!” Pansy shouted back. “She’s crazy about you!”
“Astoria’s too selfish to love anyone but herself!”
“How dare you speak about my best friend like that!”
Draco shook his head, exasperated. “I tried to be her friend, Pansy,” he said in a much calmer voice. “I tried. But that was the last straw with her. And she has no one to blame but herself and you.”
“She wasn’t going to go through with it,” Pansy seethed.
“She may not have, although I find that hard to believe; but I know you would find a way for it to get around. Telling my parents, Pans…” he shook his head.
Blaise looked at them, knowing he was missing a huge portion of the story.
“That was just the beginning, Draco,” Pansy said softly. “If you don’t take Astoria back it’ll just get worse for you.”
Draco raised an eyebrow. “Is that a threat, Parkinson?”
Blaise finally stood up. “What is going on?” he asked, looking between his girlfriend and best mate.
The three of them stood in a wide triangle, eyeing one another warily.
Pansy shrugged. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Draco. I’m doing this for your own good. I know what’s best for you.”
“No. You don’t. So I’d appreciate it if you’d butt out of my relationship and my life. You have no part in it anymore.”
“And that’s another thing!” Pansy cried. “You no longer care about any of us! You’ve submerged yourself in the mudblood!”
“Pansy,” Draco warned.
“I’m telling you once and for all, Draco,” she said, ignoring him. “If you don’t make the right choice, I will make it for you. I know exactly what strings to pull, and you know it.”
“What is going on?” Blaise demanded. “Pansy! What the hell are you talking about?”
They ignored him again. Draco knew Pansy was right. She was well connected enough in the pureblood circle to manipulate it to get what she wanted. And if she said the right things to the wrong people, it could ruin Draco’s life to the point where the only way to make things better would be to get married to a pureblood. And what better pureblood than Astoria Greengrass, herself?
“I told Astoria I wanted nothing to do with her and I meant it. I would rather be disowned than leave Hermione at this point. So save your breath.”
“Don’t be disgusting, Draco,” Pansy sneered.
“I’m done. I’m leaving,” Draco said quietly. He turned to leave the room.
“This was your final warning,” Pansy called after him. “I’ve been keeping your secret so you owe me one as well.”
He heard Blaise rush to follow him to the door. It took all of him to keep from breaking down the walls with his fists. He knew she was right. She had kept the secret of the fake relationship from everyone, including her best friend. She had something to hold over him. And because of that, Draco hated himself and the situation he had gotten himself into. Because of that, he could never call Pansy out for faking this pregnancy story. Slytherin, be damned.
They got to the door. Blaise spun Draco around by the arm. “What the hell was that about?”
Draco shook his head and grabbed his coat. “Nothing. We’re just not seeing eye-to-eye about this entire situation. She’s not happy about Hermione. I’m not happy about Astoria,” he sighed. “It’s complicated.”
“What did Pansy do, Draco?” Blaise asked in a low voice. “I know she did something. What?”
Draco pursed his lips. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it. She’s just trying her hardest to convince me to be with Astoria again.”
Blaise scrunched his face up with worry. “Don’t listen to anyone, alright? Do what’s best for you. I see how you are with Granger.”
Draco nodded. “Right. Thanks, mate. I’ll see you soon.” He turned and left the mansion, leaving Blaise standing in the doorway with a torn look on his face.
A few weeks went by without a hitch. It seemed that nothing could get in between Hermione and Draco at this point, for which they were both grateful. Hermione began to seriously consider moving into Draco’s home, although she hadn’t admitted this aloud yet, not wanting to get his hopes up. What Hermione was happiest about was that everything had quieted down. Walking past newspaper stands in Diagon Alley, however, reminded Hermione that her and Draco were still the most talked about couple since, well, Draco and Astoria. Witch Weekly’s cover story read, “What’s Next For Dramione?” And the mash up of their names to establish them as one entity irked Hermione to no end.
“It’s like we’re not two completely separate individuals with separate personalities and minds!” she snapped one day, chucking the magazine into the bin.
Draco had smirked in amusement at her outburst. “So, what’s next for us? Anything good?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Apparently we’re planning a family. We also want a new cat, but we can’t agree on a name. They’re having a poll on what we should name it.”
Draco laughed. “What are the options?”
“Who cares? They’re all atrocious.”
When Hermione had asked him how his conversation with Pansy had gone, he had shrugged and told her that everything had gone as well as it could have, which wasn’t exactly a lie. But he hadn’t told her about the threats she had left him with. But at this point, Draco had more important things to worry about, such as meeting Hermione’s parents.
“Okay, so tomorrow we’re going to floo to my parent’s house in Sunbury. I cleared it with the Ministry and connected their fireplace to the floor network.”
“Sounds good,” Draco said, absently turning the page of the Prophet.
“You cleared out your schedule for all day, right?”
“And you’re sure you don’t mind spending the entire day there?”
Draco put the paper down and looked at Hermione. “I’m positive. It’ll be great. I’m looking forward to it very much.”
Hermione smiled. “I am, too, actually,” she admitted.
Draco gave her a smile back. But they both flinched when someone began pounding on Draco’s front door. He frowned and stood up, making his way to the entrance hall. Hermione followed behind him. He pulled open the door and stepped back, his frown deepening.
“Ginny,” Hermione exclaimed, looking past Draco’s shoulder. “Is everything alright?”
Ginny exhaled loudly. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”
“Why? What’s happened?”
“Ron knows about the fake relationship, and he’s raising hell demanding to see you.”
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