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Chapter 1 : 1
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"Don't you dare." I say, my voice muffled by my hair. "I'm up, happy?" I said, sending him a small glare.
"Extremely." He said, giving me a small kiss. It had been six years, six long years, since the war ended. For a while I had thought Ron and I would finally be together after the war, but Ron took Fred's death harder than I imagined he would. He left one night, leaving only a letter on his pillow as an explanation. I had understood, but I wasn't willing to wait for him to come back, if he came back at all. I knew Ron, he ran from things like this, because he felt them so deeply. At first I felt bad about not waiting for him, but after a while I took his words to heart, and moved on. I don't think Ron thought I would be with Harry, but I knew he'd approve. I got up and rushed into the bathroom, grabbing my toothbrush and toothpaste on the way to the shower so I could take care of all that at once, to save time. Twenty minutes later I stepped out of the shower, flicked my wand at my hair, drying it, and then french braided it. I smiled as it braided, I loved my hair now. It was no longer busy, falling to my waist in soft waves.
"You can use the shower now." I said, pulling on a pair of jeans and a nice blue blouse. Harry nodded and went to shower, leaving me free to run into the kitchen and fix myself a cup of coffee, the last one of the batch, and drink it quickly. I glanced at my watch as I took that first sip, savoring the caffeine. A tap on the window made me open my eyes to find Ginny's owl, Pixie, outside. I let her in quickly, glancing at my watch again. "Sorry girl, don't have anything for you, and I have got to run." I told the owl, stuffing the letter in my back pocket and heading for the door. "I'll be home later! Love you!" I called to Harry, who shouted something unintelligible back, making me laugh as I closed the door and jogged the six blocks to the library where I worked.
"Good morning Hermione." Grace said as soon as I entered. I smiled. Grace was 38, gorgeous, and the kindest person I had met in a long time.
"Morning Grace. How is Beth?" I asked as I moved behind the counter and started to scan all of the returned books from yesterday.
Grace sighed. "Still sick, I'm afraid, dear, but don't you worry, my Beth is strong, she'll pull through." I nodded, wishing there was something I could do for Beth. Her leukemia had set in two years ago, and her treatment had not had any affect in a year now. But I smiled at Grace. I admired her, she was so strong, stronger than she realized. "Would you mind shelving these for me, dear? I've got a shipment of new books to go through." She said, pushing a cart my way. She must have seen the envious look on my face because she laughed. "Not a chance, Missy. The last time I let you go through a new shipment I had about a handful of books to actually put on the shelves for two weeks." I blushed, sighing, knowing she was right.
"I'm a bookworm, Grace! You knew that when you hired me!" I laughed as she huffed at me, pretending to be angry. I hugged her tightly and beamed at her. "You know you love me." I said in a sing-song voice, making her smile.
"Yes, until you take all our new books!" She said, shaking her finger at me. I beamed at her and pushed the cart of books down one of the aisles. I wandered around for about an hour, shelving books in their proper places, before making my way back to the front desk. My stomach growled, making Grace frown at me and point to the door. I sighed and nodded, knowing she would clock me out until I had eaten something.
"It's like having two mothers." I mumbled as I walked across the street to the little diner. I ordered a coffee and a bagel, and as I waited, I remembered Ginny's letter. I dug it out of my pocket quickly and opened it. At first I didn't understand the words, and then, they made sense...too much sense.
Hello, love! I know I promised not to nag you, but have you told Hermione yet about us? It's been four months now, and honestly, I'm tired of all this! Either we are together, or we aren't. I know that you care for her, but what we have is so wonderful, do you really want to give that up? Remember, just last week when you stayed home from work? We should do that again. SOON! I miss you, Harry. It's been nearly a week since I've seen you, because you haven't told her. This sneaking around isn't exactly what I expected when we got together you know! Anyway, I know you're home today, so I might drop by around lunch!
All my love,
I sat there in shock for a long time, long enough for my coffee to get cold. I ordered another one and pushed my bagel away. I'd lost my appetite. I shoved the letter in my pocket, thinking that if it was out of sight, then it was out of mind. I knew it was childish, but I didn't care. How could he? I thought, sipping on my coffee now. I shook my head, thinking. Maybe it wasn't true, maybe it was just some cruel joke that someone was playing on me. As soon as I thought that I snorted at myself. I knew Ginny's handwriting, and her owl. I paused, thinking back. Pixie was supposed to deliver this to Harry, so why had she given it to me instead? Because I lived in the apartment and had let her in? I shrugged. Pixie wasn't that old, so it was probably just a mistake. Not that I minded it, really. As much as I wished I didn't have to find out like this, it was better than walking in on them together. I groaned softly at the mental image that thought put in my head, slammed some money down on the table, and left.
"What's wrong Hermione?" Grace asked as soon as I stepped inside the library. "You didn't eat a single thing, I was watching from here." She said gently.
I nodded in silence, unable to say anything for a moment. "Harry's cheating on me...with Ginny." I whispered.
Grace froze. "Excuse me? How do you know that?" She said in a sharp tone. I handed her the letter. I watcher her read it, glad that she was a squib, so that I didn't have to explain about the magical world and how we used parchment and quills and such. "That little...tart!" She shouted, making me cover my ears. "I'm sorry, Hermione dear. Why don't you go home, yes? He's home today, go confront him. If you need a place to stay, you know my door is always open." Grace said, practically shoving me back out the door. I would have laughed if I wasn't so upset. I knew I should do as Grace said, but I couldn't confront Harry just yet. I may have been a Gryffindor in school, but this was one thing I had never had to deal with before, not really. Not from Harry. I wandered around for a while, just walking, thinking about my years at Hogwarts, the war, how Harry and I had fallen into our relationship without a second thought. I laughed bitterly at myself, wrapping my arms around my body. I had thought, after a year or so, that we would be together for a long time, maybe even get married. I looked up, a little surprised to find myself in front of The Leaky Cauldron, though I smiled. I walked inside, sat down at the bar, and waved old Tom over.
"Hello, Miss Granger, it's been a long time since I saw you here!" He said, smiling at me.
"It's good to see you, Tom. Can I have a firewhiskey please? I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to catch up with you later." I gave him a small, apologetic smile, which he returned, sliding a bottle of firewhiskey in front of me.
"Bad day?" He asked, making me nod before picking the bottle up and drinking straight from it. He whistled. "Really bad day then. I'll leave you to it then, just holler if you need me." He said, setting a glass in front of me. I nodded my thanks, then poured myself another drink.
I watched as it got dark outside, but I didn't care. I had no where to be, and drinking by myself was just fine. Although, I was a bit lonely. No sooner had I thought that, someone sat down next to me, facing me. I blinked, sure I was seeing things wrong, but then he spoke, and I knew it was him.
"Hello Draco." I replied, proud that my voice didn't slur at all.
"What are you doing here?" He asked, glancing at the bottle of firewhiskey at my elbow.
I picked it up and held it up in a mock salute. "Drinking." I said, smiling.
"I can see that." He said, laughing. He waved Tom over and ordered a firewhiskey for himself.
"Why are you here?" I asked, confused now. Hadn't I heard something yesterday in the paper about him? What was it?
"Drinking too." He smirked.
"And why is that?" I was surprised that we were being so civil, but then again, I was drunk, and he was quickly going to be by the looks of it.
Draco slammed back his drink, then ordered another. I waved Tom away and poured Draco a drink from my bottle. There was no way I could finish it by myself. "I'm getting married." Draco said, then grimaced. "To Pansy Parkinson."
"Oh no!" I gasped, then laughed. I was even more surprised when he joined me, though his laughter sounded a little crazed. "Why on earth would you marry her?!" I managed to ask after a moment.
Draco closed his eyes for a moment before looking at me again. "Arranged marriage. Totally not my idea." He said in a whisper, glancing around.
I felt my jaw drop. He was serious? "That's ridiculous!" I hissed.
"So, why are you here, drinking alone, then?" He asked.
I groaned but answered him. It was only fair. "Harry's cheating on me. With Ginny." It was actually quite funny to see the look of shock on his face, before he wiped it clean of emotion.
"And you know this how?"
I sighed and handed him the letter. I must be out of my mind. I thought, then told myself to shut up. Yes, I was very drunk. I poured myself another drink and looked at it for a full second before slamming it back. To hell with it. "This is...wow. I didn't think he would...I'm sorry." I heard the words but they failed to register for a moment, and when they did, I spun around to face him so fast I nearly fell off my seat. As it happened, I only stayed in my seat because Draco caught me.
"Excuse me? Did Draco Malfoy just apologize to me, Hermione Granger?" I asked, grinning.
"For everything, not just this shit with Potter." Draco said, looking at his hands on the bar.
I placed my hand on top of his. "I forgave you a long time ago, Draco." I said, then pulled my hand away and drank another shot of firewhiskey.
"Hermione! I've been looking everywhere for you! I was so worried!" I heard someone say, and then I was pulled into a tight embrace. I knew immediately who it was, and I pushed him away.
"Go away." I said, turning my back on him.
"What?" Harry said, turning me back around.
"I said, go away. I don't want to see you." I said, turning around again.
"Hermione, what the hell is going on? And why is Malfoy here?" Harry asked, angry now.
I turned to look at him, anger rushing through me as I stood up and shoved the letter into his hand. "This is what's going on with me, you stupid, arrogant, imbecilic asshole. And for your information, Draco is here because he wants to be." I hissed at him.
Harry glanced down at the letter, paled, and glanced up at me with pleading eyes. "Hermione, please, let me ex-"
"Save it. We. Are. Over. Do you understand? Over. I will have my things out of the apartment by tomorrow." I said, cutting him off. I turned back to the bar and slammed back another drink, wishing he would leave.
"Hermione, just listen..." He said, pleading now.
I whipped around. "No, you listen. You cheated on me. With Ginny! I'm not going to forgive that, Harry! Do you not know me at all? Because you certainly don't love me! I cannot believe I was so blind, I should have known! But no, I trusted you." I took a deep breath, trying to calm down. "Harry, just...leave. It's ok, alright? Go tell Ginny she got what she wanted. And she can have you for all I care. You deserve each other." I was going to turn around again, but Harry's hand caught my arm. I reached out instinctively as he spun on the spot, taking me, and a surprised Draco, along with him.
Harry shoved me against a wall as soon as we landed, making me hit my head hard. "Ow!" I yelled. "You're hurting me, let me go!"
"It's not over Hermione, this is only the firewhiskey talking and you know it. But we're home now, and we can continue on as we were. Can't we?" Harry said, and as I looked in his eyes, I felt...scared. His eyes were not the ones I remembered, they were cold, and hard, and...emotionless. I glanced over his shoulder to see Draco, who was pointing his wand at Harry.
"Potter, let her go. Now." He said, his tone biting. When Harry made no move to release me, he continued. "Potter, as a fellow auror, I'm telling you, let her go right now, or I'll do this by the book. You'll lose your job, and you know it. The world will hear about this in an instant. And I will make sure they do."
Harry pushed me tighter against the wall, and I could feel the bruises on my wrists forming when he suddenly let me go. I fell to the floor, shocked beyond words. "This isn't over, mudblood." He hissed at me, then glared at Draco. "Get out of my house, you're trashing up the place." He said, looking at Draco.
Draco smirked. "Looks like a dump to me, and that, Potter, says more about you than it does me." He bent down and checked my head, nodding quickly before taking my hand. I took it without hesitation, which surprised me a bit, and then all I could concentrate on was being able to breathe as he apparated us away.
"Are you alright?" Draco asked as soon as we landed. I nodded and looked around for a pace to sit. Draco guided me to a sofa and gently pushed me until I sat down. "Let me look at your head again." He said, so I looked down, giving him a decent view of the back of my head where I had hit the wall. He probed it with gentle fingers, making me wince slightly. "Not too bad, but I'll get a headache remedy for you. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
I held my wrists up for him to inspect. He nodded, and healed them with a wave of his wand. "Thanks." I mumbled, not looking at him.
"You're welcome. You can stay here tonight, and tomorrow, I'll go with you to pack your things, if you'd like. Do you have a place to stay?" Draco said softly. His gentle words were my undoing. Before I knew what I was doing, I launched myself at him, sobbing. I have to say, he caught me, though I'm sure he was shocked as hell. He even held me until I calmed down. I noticed that he didn't tell me not to cry, and I was thankful for that.
"I'm sorry." I whispered, not meeting his eyes.
"It's alright, Hermione. I'll be right back." He said, and disappeared for a moment. Then he was holding a vial out to me. The headache remedy. I gulped it down quickly, grimacing at the horrid taste. Draco laughed.
"Not funny. That's vile." I said, thrusting the vial back at him.
He nodded. "Come on, into bed with you." He said, helping me stand up. I followed his into his room, stopping in the doorway when I realized where I was standing. Draco rummaged around in the dresser along one wall for a moment before handing me a pair of pajama bottoms and a t shirt that I thought would hang to my knees. "You can shower and change in the bathroom if you want. I'll be in the kitchen if you need anything." He said, and then he left me alone, wondering what the hell he had done with the real Draco Malfoy. I shook my head, then realized that was a bad idea, and walked into the bathroom to get ready for bed. I took a quick shower, got dressed, then went to find Draco.
"Thanks for this." I said as I walked into the kitchen.
Draco nodded, waving away my comment. "Not a problem. You should go sleep. I'll take the sofa." He said, gesturing to the pillow and extra blanket on the sofa.
"Night Draco." I said, giving him a small, shy smile.
Draco smiled back at me, taking my breath away. He was simply gorgeous. "Goodnight Hermione."
“It’s just the firewhiskey talking...he’s not even that good looking…” I mumbled as I crawled into the ridiculously large bed, sighing in content. This bed was amazing, I felt as if I were laying on a cloud. I giggled a bit to myself, then cried some more. I tried to be quiet, but I guess Draco must have heard me at some point, because I felt his arms around me, pulling me into the warmth of his body. He didn’t say anything, just held me. I fell asleep in his arms.
“Hermione, wake up.” I heard the next morning as I buried my face into...something hard and...warm. I froze. “It’s me...don’t freak out.” Draco’s voice came again, making me relax against him. Ok, never drinking that much again. Although, I think the situation deserved it. “We need to go get your things, so get up.” Draco reminded me, softly. I flinched, and he noticed even though I pulled quickly away from him, rubbing my eyes. “You never said if you…” He continued, watching me. I looked away.
“I can go stay with Grace, I work with her. Not like I’ve got much choice.” I sighed heavily. I glanced at Draco to find he had raised an eyebrow at me. “Grace’s daughter lives with her too, because she has leukemia. Her treatments aren’t helping, so it’s rough for them. I’ll get a room with Aberforth at the Hog’s Head until I can figure something out.” I said, standing up to put some distance between us. His eyes followed me, I could feel his gaze on my back.
Draco cleared his throat to get my attention, so i glanced over my shoulder at him to show i was listening.”I was thinking...last night...that maybe we could...help each other out.” He paused, as if trying to find the right words. Help each other out how? What problems did he have? I mentally slapped myself upside the head when I remembered his arranged marriage. To Pansy. I held back a giggle. I couldn’t help it, it was hilarious to think of Pug-face Parkinson planning her wedding, to Draco Malfoy off all people.
“And how might we do that?” I asked when I knew I wouldn’t laugh.
“You can stay here, we can set up a bedroom for you and a bathroom and everything, and you...agree to marry me for a year.” He replied hesitantly.
I whipped around. “Marry you?! For a year?!” I shouted. “Are you insane? We’ll kill each other within a week of moving in together.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Since we’ve been at each others throats already, yes? You were just as civil to me last night as I was to you, and while that might have been the firewhiskey, I don’t think it was.” He stood up from the bed and walked toward me. “Look at it this way then, you help me get out of marrying Pansy, I keep you safe for a year. I pay for everything, you’ll be out nothing. I won’t even ask you to sign a prenup if you promise not to try to take more than thirty percent of everything when we get a divorce.” I gaped at him. Thirty percent? For getting him out of marrying Pansy? That was...extremely generous.
“Protect me how?” I asked, confused.
Draco looked at me, his eyes burning. “From Potter.” I flinched away from Harry’s name. It hurt me to hear it. “I’m sorry.” He murmured, his eyes softening.
I nodded. “I’ll think about this...just…”
Draco grinned. “I’ll gather you some clothes while you shower.” He walked past me quickly, leaving me floored. Did he have to think of everything? I snorted and went to shower.
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