Chapter 29 : Chapter Twenty-Eight: Hurricane
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Hermione stumbled back a few steps and brought her hands to her head in bewilderment. “What do you mean, he knows?” she demanded. “How is that even possible?”
Draco closed his eyes, feeling a headache coming on.
Ginny shrugged. “He didn’t give us much leeway to ask questions. He just went on shouting and I thought the best thing to do would be to find you...before he does.”
Hermione glanced desperately at Draco. “I should go talk to him.”
“Don’t let him ruin your mood. We still have to meet your parents tomorrow,” Draco reminded.
“Then he’ll just have to wait,” Ginny shrugged. “Harry and I will calm him down.”
Draco felt a surge of affection for Ginny. “She’s right, darling. We should just carry on with our plans and we can deal with Weasley when we get back after the weekend.”
Hermione looked torn. “It won’t take long. I’ll settle it all today and we can carry on with our plans tomorrow.”
“And if he makes you feel awful enough to want to stay and patch things up with him? You know he’s too stubborn to just get over it in a day,” Ginny said.
“But I’ll be too distracted at my parents if I don’t talk to him now.”
Draco groaned. This was just what they needed. He didn’t think he could despise Ron anymore than he already did, but he was proven wrong. It seemed that whenever Ron said jump, Hermione would ask how high?
“I’ll go talk to him today,” Hermione said. “I’ll get it settled and be back before you know it.”
Draco scoffed. “Sure.”
Ginny looked between the two of them. “Hermione…don’t worry about it. I’ll have Harry talk to him. You continue getting ready for your trip.”
“This isn’t Harry’s problem to deal with. It’s mine. I’m going to go see him and get it over with. I don’t understand why the two of you are making it such a big deal! I can handle myself.”
“I just don’t understand why you care so much about how he feels,” Draco snapped. “So he’s angry. Big fucking deal.”
“You’d want to go talk to Astoria if she had found out, so don’t act like I’m the only one who cares.”
Draco ran his hands through his hair, clearly frustrated. “Fine! Go!”
“I will. Let’s go, Ginny.” Hermione grabbed Ginny’s arm and pulled her toward the front door. Ginny threw an apologetic glance at Draco but he was already stalking towards the staircase leading up to his bedroom.
Hermione sat fidgeting on the couch at Harry and Ginny’s place. Harry had agreed to go get Ron personally in order to warn him to be on his best behavior when he was speaking to Hermione. Ginny had taken Teddy to Andromeda’s in case Ron didn’t heed Harry’s warning and exploded, which was most likely going to happen if they were all being honest with themselves. Hermione had no idea how the conversation would begin, although she was pretty sure how it would end up – in a giant pile of rubble, with everyone worse off than before.
She heard the loud cracking sound signaling someone’s arrival, and she stood up anxiously. Ginny walked into the room mirroring Hermione’s expression.
“They’re not here yet?”
Hermione gnawed at her lip and shook her head. “I don’t know whether to be relieved or not. After everything, I don’t want Ron to hate me.”
Another crack echoed from the adjoining room and Ginny and Hermione’s eyes widened in alarm. Hermione took a deep breath and squared her shoulders for the impending onslaught.
Ron’s fiery red hair turned the corner followed by a wary expression on Harry’s face.
“What are you playing at, Hermione?” Ron demanded.
Hermione felt relieved that they were going straight to the heart of the situation. She was dreading the awkward lead up to the conversation more than anything else. “It’s a long story,” she muttered. Hermione sat back down on the couch and lightly touched the spot next to her. “If you’d just sit down and give me a chance to explain.”
Ron glared at her. “I’m good standing where I am, thanks,” he sneered.
Hermione sighed heavily. “Fine. If you want to be immature about it, that’s great.”
“Me? Immature? I’m not the one who faked a relationship to make my ex jealous! What are you? Twelve?”
Hermione opened her mouth to retort but snapped it shut again. She pushed herself off the couch. “Listen. I’m not here to apologize. I’m here to explain. Isn’t that what you wanted?”
“It’s a bloody start!”
“Then shut up and listen, Ronald. I didn’t come here so you could judge me.”
Ron looked disgusted. “Judge you? You faked a relationship with Malfoy. What about that don’t you seem to be understanding?”
Hermione set her jaw. “I understand just fine. How did you find out anyway?”
“Never you mind,” Ron snapped. “Go on then. If you want to explain, go ahead and explain.”
Hermione glanced at Ginny and Harry and watched them slowly exit the room. “We’ll be in the kitchen if you need us,” Ginny muttered.
Hermione took a deep breath and turned her attention back to Ron, whose glare had not lessened in intensity since he had arrived. She let out the breath and sat down again, wary. “It started out innocently enough,” she shrugged.
Ron snorted. “I bet.”
Hermione ignored him. “I had taken Teddy for a check-up at St. Mungo’s. Malfoy is Teddy’s doctor,” she said matter-of-factly. “He had broken up with Astoria but she wouldn’t leave him alone. So while we were there, Astoria came in and Draco said that we were dating so that she would get the hint and move on. And in exchange…”
Ron raised an eyebrow, waiting.
“In exchange…” Hermione cleared her throat. “He would stay with me when you came back from your trip since I didn’t want to be alone.” Merlin, it sounded even more desperate saying it out loud.
“You can’t be serious.”
Hermione sagged in defeat. “I am serious, Ron. I know it seems ridiculous—
“Seems?” he scoffed. “Hermione, it’s bloody mental! Malfoy! Do you know who Malfoy is?”
Ron looked ready to explode. And to be honest, Hermione was surprised he hadn’t complete exploded by that point already. His ears were tinged the same shade of red as his hair and his freckles looked blotchy from the heat rising in his cheeks. Hermione quietly cleared her throat and tucked her hair behind her ears.
“I know very well who Draco is, Ronald. Like I said before, I didn’t come here for you to judge me. I just thought you deserved an explanation of why it started out the way it did. I admit I was stupid for doing something as immature as faking a relationship. It wasn’t to make you jealous. It was to make myself feel better about the situation.”
Ron looked at her incredulously, which irked her to no end. She had tried to keep her voice and head level, but she had forgotten her dynamic with Ron. Being levelheaded was nearly impossible with him. She pushed herself up on her feet.
She pointed a finger at his chest. “You left a five year relationship and began dating a week later, Ronald. You told me I was holding you back. You wanted nothing to do with me anymore. So you have no business in my life anymore. You decided that yourself when you left. So if I want to go around fake dating all the men in the wizarding world, then that’s none of your concern.”
“You keep saying his name like it’s poison!”
“It is poison!” Ron yelled back. “He’s the worst thing for you, Hermione! He’s only ever cared for himself! Even now he’s got his hold on you for his own selfish needs!”
“You don’t even know him!” she screamed back.
“What the hell do you know about him?” Ron laughed weakly and ran his hands through his hair. “What does this even matter? You don’t have to fake it anymore. I’ve found out.”
Hermione frowned. “We’re not faking, Ron.”
“Of course you are.”
“I love him.”
Ron froze. “Excuse me?”
“I’m in love with him. I love him. We’re not faking it anymore. We haven’t for a long time now,” she admitted quietly. She watched Ron’s expression change from angered to horrified in a matter of seconds, from blotchy red to ghost white. She reached for him, scared that he’d collapse. “Ron, please, sit down.”
He brushed her off. “Is this some sort of joke?” He began to slowly circle the room, pacing, as though he was trying to figure out an elaborate mystery.
“No. It’s not.”
Ron finally stopped pacing and looked up at Hermione. The expression of betrayal that flashed across his face pained Hermione so much that she stumbled until the back of her legs hit the couch. She sank into the cushions and watched as he slowly backed out of the room. It wasn’t until a crack resounded throughout the house that Harry and Ginny walked into the room again.
“So…that went well,” Ginny frowned.
Hermione looked at them miserably. “How did he even find out?”
Harry and Ginny exchanged looks. “You won’t believe it when we tell you,” Harry said.
“Thanks for coming out with me. I needed to get out of the house.”
Blaise nodded and knocked back the rest of his afternoon whiskey. Draco ran the tip of his finger around the rim of his glass and stared dejectedly out of the bar windows that overlooked the bustling London street. Muggles surrounded them everywhere. It was nice to disappear among a crowd sometimes. And right now, Draco just needed to get away.
“So what happened?” Blaise asked.
Draco sighed. “Weasley found out about the fake relationship.”
Blaise looked surprised. “How? Who would tell him?”
Draco shrugged. “Beats me.”
Blaise lifted up two fingers for the barman to see. Within a minute their drinks were replenished. “Potter?”
Draco paused to think it over. “Nah. He seemed alright about the whole thing.”
They both glanced at one another and shook their heads. There was no way She-Weasel would tell on them. The only other people who knew were Blaise and Pansy. Draco didn’t have to think twice to know that Blaise would rather die than ever sell out his best friend. But Pansy…
“You don’t think…”
Blaise frowned and stayed silent, thinking it over. “Pansy wouldn’t go out of her way to talk to Weasley.”
Draco snorted. He was right. Why would Pansy tell Ron? He took a sip of his scotch. “He found out somehow. And now Hermione’s back to fretting over the Weasel.”
“She’s just a caring person. You can’t hold it against her for caring about another person’s feelings.”
“But why his feelings?”
Blaise shrugged. “Because he was her first love and her best friend for a really long time, mate. You can’t expect her to get over that in four months.”
Draco practically slammed his glass on the bar-top.
Blaise smirked. “Don’t be a hypocrite, mate. How quickly would you jump for Astoria if you were in the same position?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Hermione said the same thing.”
“She’s right,” Blaise shrugged.
“But I wouldn’t,” Draco insisted. “Not anymore.”
Blaise placed his glass on the bar and turned to glare at Draco. “Okay. What bloody happened?”
Draco sucked on his teeth and gave his scotch a dirty look for clouding his judgment. He shouldn’t have said anything. “Nothing. I’m just over it.”
“Bloody liar is what you are,” Blaise mumbled before picking up his drink again.
Draco sighed and downed his drink. “Maybe I could tell you one day. But today is not the day.”
“Fine. I won’t ask again.”
Draco breathed a sigh of relief. Blaise was the most understanding man in the world and Draco knew he was lucky to have him. “Thanks, mate.”
Blaise shook his head. “So what will you do about this Weasley situation?”
“Hopefully Hermione can handle it today. We’re supposed to go to her parents’ tomorrow.”
“That should be interesting.”
Draco shook his head. “I’m actually nervous. My surname means nothing to her parents. I have to actually try.”
Blaise laughed. “Yeah, it’s a bit different with the muggles. But I’m sure they’ll like you so long as you don’t mention your old muggle hating days.” Blaise nudged him and smirked.
Draco ignored him. He began to scratch his thumbnail against the peeling varnish of the old bar. “I just hope it goes smoother than everything else that has been happening in my life lately.”
“It’ll be fine.” Blaise paused before nudging Draco again. Draco blinked and glanced at him, only to follow his gaze to the large windows overlooking the street. Several haphazardly dressed men with clunky, awkward cameras were loitering outside of the bar, trying to peer in. Paparazzi. “Witch Weekly or The Daily Prophet, do you reckon?”
Draco groaned, annoyed. “Does it matter? Let’s go.”
Blaise grabbed a hold of Draco’s jacket as he began walking toward the entrance and leaned over the bar to get the barman’s attention. “Is there another way out of here? We snuck out of work for a drink and our boss is outside. Don’t want to get caught, you see.” The barman chuckled and motioned to the door behind him. Blaise nodded his appreciation and clapped Draco on the back. “This way, mate.”
They walked through the door that had a sign on it saying employees only. An old man washing dishes ignored them as they followed the short maze through the kitchen and to the door leading to an alley behind the establishment. Blaise held open the door as Draco walked through it. They stood in the alley next to the dumpster and looked around.
“Left or right?” Blaise asked.
“Let’s just apparate back to my place.”
Blaise nodded. “Sounds good.”
With a crack they landed on Draco’s front steps. Just as Draco went to touch the handle, the door got pulled open and Hermione stood there looking panicked. “It was Pansy!”
“What?” Blaise asked, stepping around Draco. “You don’t mean Pansy told Weasley, do you?”
“Oh, Blaise! I didn’t see you there.” She paled and glared at Draco who shrugged.
“Did Pansy tell Weasley?” Blaise repeated.
Hermione opened her mouth and closed it again. Draco patted Blaise on the back. “Let’s go inside, mate. We’ll figure this all out.”
Blaise silently followed Draco and Hermione to the kitchen where Hermione immediately busied herself with making tea. “Blaise, I’m so sorry,” Hermione said.
“What happened?” Draco asked.
Hermione huffed, feeling agitated that she had to say everything in front of Blaise. She didn’t want to put him in a tough position, especially after all the times Draco had said he did not want to get Blaise involved. What if this ruined their friendship? She didn’t want to be the cause of that, but she didn’t know how to edit the story to make it sound better than it was. She turned the stove on to give herself a few more seconds and took a deep breath as the gas hissed to life. “Ron had told Harry that Pansy had come to one of his practices. Ron had told her he wanted nothing to do with her, but then she had told him she was worried about me. I guess that got his attention considering he’s looking for any reason to break us up,” she added somewhat bitterly. “So then she told him that I was in way over my head because I had faked this relationship to make him jealous after he had come back from Italy with his new girlfriend…and that it had gotten out of hand because now I couldn’t get out no matter what I tried to do. She told him that Draco has blackmailed me into staying with him. So when I spoke to him today, he said that everything was all right because he had found out. I hadn’t known what he meant at the time but I guess he thought I was free from Draco’s blackmail.”
Draco scoffed. “Bloody unbelievable,” he muttered.
“Pansy wouldn’t do that to Draco,” Blaise said. “There’s no way.”
Hermione and Draco exchanged looks. “She hasn’t been on her best behavior lately…” Draco said slowly.
Blaise looked at him. “What do you mean by that?”
Draco sighed. “I didn’t want to tell you, especially since Pansy was keeping this secret for me. But since that’s out the window…”
“Spit it out,” Blaise snapped.
“Remember when I had come by that one night and had left like a madman?”
Blaise nodded. “I remember. Am I about to find out what bloody happened that night?”
Draco sighed. “Well, I was looking for you and I thought you were in the library. But I overheard Pansy tell Astoria to tell me she’s pregnant.”
“But she’s not…”
Draco shook his head. Blaise looked at Hermione who was gnawing at her lip, waiting for Blaise to explode the way Draco sometimes did. The kettle began to whistle and Hermione jumped, rushing to pour the tea.
“So,” Draco continued, “she had cooked up this elaborate scheme to make me go back to Astoria. That’s what she wants more than anything. She’s obsessed with it.”
“So I’ve noticed,” Blaise mumbled. “I can’t believe she’d do that.”
“So I guess now she’s broken the rules and gone and told Weasley.”
“Do you think she’ll tell Astoria?” Hermione asked, placing two cups of tea in front of Draco and Blaise.
Blaise and Draco exchanged looks. “Who knows anymore?” Blaise shrugged. “She’s gone off the deep end.” He shook his head. “I can’t believe she would do that to you, mate. I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault,” Draco shrugged. “You can’t control her.”
Blaise froze as he thought back. “She told your parents that Astoria was pregnant, didn’t she?”
Draco smirked ironically. “Slytherin through and through; any means to achieve her end.”
Blaise scoffed at Draco’s nonchalance. “She’s literally trying to ruin your life, mate. I’m going to talk to her.”
“No!” Hermione yelped, startling both Draco and Blaise. “What if she gets angrier and does something more serious than telling Ron.”
Blaise shook his head condescendingly at Hermione. “You poor thing.”
Hermione crossed her arms and glared at Blaise. “Excuse me?”
“This is just the beginning. Hurricane Pansy isn’t going to stop until she destroys everything in her path.”
Hermione looked at Draco and he sighed. “He’s right, sweetheart. Telling Weasley was just a warning. If I don’t do what she wants, it’ll only get worse.”
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