Chapter 6 : Chapter Six: Awaited Altercation
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'She winced in pain but it seemed that luck was on her side as a hand shot from behind her, grabbing hold of Kristian's wrist. The pain and shock forced him to release his grasp but his hand still lay there. Hermione breathed evenly after the pain of his hold subdued. As she was about to launch some verbal abuse at Kristian, the voice of her saviour beat her to it.
"Get your hands off my wife!".'
Hermione couldn't breathe. She was frozen in a state of shock. There was no denying that she, and the rest of the room, had heard correctly. There was no denying that there was only one person on this planet who could call her his wife and he was stood right behind her. After three and a half years of nothing he was now just mere inches away from her. If she just stepped back she would be able to touch him but she couldn't. She couldn't even turn her head slightly to look at him.
Kristian's red face turned sour as he looked past Hermione's shoulder and a twisted smile adorned his features.
"Your wife? Well, that's a joke if I've ever heard one!", he spat as he took his hands from Hermione's small frame.
She knew it was coming. Even after their separation she could still second guess her husband's actions perfectly.
In a swift move he had walked past Hermione and punched Kristian in the jaw. A sickening crack could be heard in the silent ballroom. Everyone was watching the debacle that was going on but no one did anything. They were just as shocked as Hermione was. The only difference being that they didn't feel sick to their core.
Kristian dragged himself up from the floor and wiped the blood that was spilling from his split lip. His eyes lingered over Hermione's body as he spoke.
"You know where to find me when you realise what a snake he really is".
With that, he disapparated on the spot leaving everyone to comprehend what had just happened.
Hermione was still stood in her statue like position as Draco slowly turned around to face her. He looked exactly the same. His platinum hair was perfectly placed and his black suit made it stand out all the more. He still held that same cocky and arrogant air around him but it soon crumbled as it always did when he was near Hermione.
She didn't want to look at him but she couldn't help it. His piercing grey eyes met hers. His eyes were her favourite thing about him. They glistened with magic as the silver swirled with the grey mystically around his black pupils. She had always been able to know so much about him by looking into his eyes but now she couldn't focus to do so. She didn't care what was in his eyes, she just wanted to know what he was doing here.
"Hermione", Draco whispered as he slowly walked towards her.
He went to place a tentative hand on her arm but her reaction wasn't one he anticipated. She flinched. As soon his hand was just millimeters away she seemed to realise his intentions and actually flinched. Draco could have died right then and there. After all these years, all he had wanted was to touch her, hold her, tell her he loved her but he knew, as he always had, that he may never get what he wanted. He couldn't stand the thought of her being repulsed by him, it made his heart ache with agony, but he should have expected no less.
"Hermione?", he tried again.
She still hadn't stopped staring at him. It was as if she was in a trance. She couldn't quite believe that he was here but as soon as he had gone to touch her she realised that this was no dream. This was reality and her husband was standing in front of her as if he had never gone.
"What are you doing here?".
They were the only that she could muster. Draco could usually read Hermione like a book but she had said the words so plainly that he had no way of knowing how she felt. Was she angry, sad, surprised, happy? He just couldn't tell.
"I came here for you", Draco answered solemnly.
"F- for me? After three and half years you just decided to finally show your face and came here for me!", she shouted.
He had his answer now. She was angry. More than angry. He didn't think he had ever seen Hermione look more irate in her life.
"Hermione, I'm begging you. Just let me explain", Draco pleaded.
"Explain?", she whispered incredulously.
He had some nerve. How on earth did he think he could just turn up here and expect her to listen to him? During all of their time apart, Hermione thought that she had wanted nothing more than to have Draco back in her life but now he was here all she wanted to do was get away from him. With this thought in her mind she turned her back, ready to leave to ball room and him behind.
She wasn't so lucky though, as soon as she had begun storming out of there he had followed her.
"Please, Hermione, don't go. We need to talk!", Draco urged.
"Talk!", Hermione bellowed, "You were in no mood for talking when you abandoned me!".
A huge gasp was heard as Hermione realised that she and Draco had walked outside only to meet the press who had just heard Hermione's words. The press never knew why Hermione and Draco were not seen together anymore, all they had been told was that they were separated. Now though, they had just gotten their juiciest scoop yet as the real reason for her failed marriage was just screamed at them without Hermione knowing.
"Mr Malfoy why did you abandon your wife?".
"Hermione, what happened inside?".
"Mr and Mrs Malfoy, is there any chance of a reunion or will there finally be a divorce?".
"Draco, how do you feel about your wife dating Kristian Charleston?".
They had flocked towards them like vultures swooping down to devour their prey. Camera flashes blinded them wherever they looked and there seemed to be no way of escaping. They were surrounded and stuck between a hord of reporters. Hermione began to panic but, before she could begin hyperventilating, she felt that familiar tug at her navel as the cameras and the shouts disappeared.
It took her a minute to gather herself as she realised that Draco had performed side-along apparition. She would have been thankful had it been anyone else but right now she didn't know if she would rather face the press or Draco Malfoy.
"How dare you! You can't just apparate other people to places they don't want to go!", Hermione admonished as she rounded on Draco.
"Well, excuse me but I thought you'd rather be anywhere but with those creatures", Draco snapped.
He knew he was in the wrong here but the reporters had grated on the only nerve that was left in his body after his encounter with Kristian Charleston.
"You're unbelievable do you know that?! You waltz in there after leaving me with a god damn letter and think you can just apparate me away and spout all of your excuses! Well, you know what, you can't!", Hermione bellowed.
"I didn't just waltz in there. I was watching outside and then I got caught by the press, I thought you would rather me tell you I was back than them!", Draco shouted back.
"So that's what this is? You've just humiliated me in front everyone just to tell me that you're back!", Hermione screamed.
She was outraged. She was always one to be level headed but right now her emotions were getting the better of her and she couldn't help but to let her anger and hatred seep out with her words.
"Of course not. I- I just wanted to see you", Draco replied sadly.
"Do you really expect me to believe that? That you just wanted to see me? IT'S BEEN OVER THREE YEARS, DRACO! YOU LEFT ME!".
"I KNOW EXACTLY HOW LONG IT'S BEEN, HERMIONE! I'VE HATED MYSELF EVERY DAMN DAY SINCE THE DAY I LEFT!".
"OH, BUT NOW YOU REGRET IT DO YOU? WHAT'S UP? IS YOUR NEW LIFE NOT WHAT YOU HOPED? HAVE THE GIRLS STOPPED FALLING AT YOUR FEET OR DID ONE WALK OUT ON YOU LIKE YOU DID TO ME?".
Draco was shocked. So that's what she thought. She thought he had left her to go off with someone else. To begin a new life without her because he didn't want her anymore. She couldn't have been more wrong.
"I could never do that to you".
Hermione didn't know what to say. He looked like she had just told him his world was falling apart. He really was hurt by her accusations.
"Hermione, I've never even looked at another woman. Do you honestly think that I would leave you for someone else?".
"I don't know what you're capable of anymore, Draco", she whispered.
When he had left, Hermione was adamant that there was no other woman but as time went on she couldn't find a more logical explanation. She thought that maybe Draco had loved her but he had found someone that he loved even more.
Draco was aghast. He had hoped with his letter that she would realise that he hadn't wanted to leave. That he still loved her and he always would. Apparently that wasn't the case though.
"Hermione, I never wanted to leave you", Draco said tentatively as he took a step towards her.
"Then why did you?", she choked as tears formed in her eyes.
It was the question that had been burning her soul for the last three and a half years and now she was finally going to get an answer for it.
Draco exhaled a deep breath as he prepared himself to finally tell Hermione the truth. He knew she wasn't going to like it but being honest was his only hope. What else could he do?
"It was work. They gave me a mission to go undercover, for a long time. They couldn't give me a timescale of how long I would be gone. It could have been months, it could have been decades. That's why I had to leave".
"Are you being serious?", Hermione spat as her eyes rounded on him.
Draco couldn't do anything but nod his head. Hermione was almost grateful that he had the decency to look ashamed.
"You left me for a job!", she exclaimed as all her anger seemed to recharge and release itself with every word she spoke, "YOU LEFT ME FOR WORK! I WAS MEANT TO BE YOUR WIFE! YOU PUT WORK BEFORE OUR LIFE TOGETHER! IT'S DISGUSTING!".
"I had to, Hermione, you know what it's like", Draco begged.
He was right. She knew too well what it was like. Draco was an Unspeakable and she hated it. He was always getting sent off on assignments when they were together. It was always only for a few days or even a week but she still hated it. She knew it was more because he was never allowed to tell her anything about his work. Unspeakables were called that for a reason. No one really knew what they did and any Unspeakable who told would actually be rendered that before they could get the words out of their mouths. They would actually be unspeakable in that they would never be able to talk again. It was an ironic and cruel fate but one that was deemed necessary by wizarding law.
"Let me guess", Hermione fumed, "you can't tell me anything?".
Draco looked at the floor in response. He couldn't bear to look into her sad and angry eyes any longer.
"Well that's just brilliant! Not only do you leave me without explanation but you don't even come back with on either!".
As his silence persisted she continued with her tirade of hate.
"And you expect me to just take that do you? That I should just accept what you say and we'll roll right back into our happily married life?".
"I know it's not exactly easy to comprehend but it's the truth and it's all I have. Hermione, I love you! I want that life back! I've craved it every second of every day since I've been without you! I want to live back in this house with you! I want to cuddle you on the couch every night and...".
Amidst his declaration Draco had pointed towards the living room in the house he and Hermione had once shared. He was not prepared for the sight that met him.
"Why are there sheets over everything?", he asked confusedly.
As he looked around further the answer became apparent.
The gold chandelier above them, that once sparkled with light, was now covered in dust. The photos that had adorned the cream walls were no longer there and the large fireplace that once held a roaring fire was lifeless, clearly not having been lit for a long time.
"You, you don't live here anymore, do you?", Draco whispered.
"No, I don't", Hermione whispered back.
It was clear to her that Draco had not expected this. It was obvious that he thought Hermione would still be living in the home that they had perfectly chosen together.
"How did you expect me to stay in a house that just reminded me of you?".
She didn't seem angry, truth be told she wasn't. Now she was just exhausted. She didn't have the energy to scream and shout anymore. The events of the night had well and truly taken everything out of her.
"I don't know, I just...", Draco struggled as he couldn't seem to get the words out his mouth.
There was a moment of silence as the two stood awkwardly in the foyer of their old home. They had so many memories in here that it was difficult to not be engulfed by them. Unfortunately for Hermione, some of those memories were the worst ones in her life.
"Have you moved on?", Draco asked.
He was frightened of the answer but he had to know. He didn't think he could bear the reality of Hermione not being his anymore. He knew he would have his work cut out for him once he returned but he never assumed for one minute that Hermione would have just let go and cut him out of her life.
"Just answer the question, Hermione".
His tense words riled her up slightly. It was almost as if he was angry with her and, as far as she was concerned, he had no right to be.
"What I do with my life is no concern of yours any more. You lost the right to that when you left me".
"Maybe, but you still haven't answered my question", Draco stated.
His cockiness was starting to get under Hermione's skin, as well as his snappy tone.
"Why the hell should I? What on earth gives you the idea that you can barge back into my life and start interrogating me?!".
"Hermione, you either have or you haven't so just tell me for Merlin's sake!".
"Stop raising your voice at me!".
"I'LL STOP RAISING MY VOICE WHEN YOU ANSWER THE QUESTION!".
"I HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO ANSWER YOUR STUPID QUESTIONS SO JUST SHUT UP!".
"STOP AVOIDING IT! YOU HAVE, HAVEN'T YOU?".
"OF COURSE YOU HAVE! WHY ELSE WOULD YOU BE SHAGGING KRISTIAN CHARLESTON? TELL ME IS HE THE ONLY YOU'VE FUCKED OR DID YOU JUMP INTO BED WITH THE FIRST FOOL YOU FOUND AS SOON AS I LEFT?"
The sound of Hermione's hand connecting with his face soon quietened him. She had never slapped someone so hard in her life. His words had sent her beyond fury and she was done trying to deal with this impossible situation.
An apology was ready to come from Draco's lips but before he could get the words out, Hermione disapparated away from him.
He had spent the last three and half years feeling empty and just when he thought that feeling would never return it came back ten times worse. Hermione was there in front of him but once again he had let his temper get the better of him. Now, she would probably never speak to him and he had no one to blame but himself.
Taking one last look at the home that he had anticipated being back in for so long, he left, never to return there again.
Hermione awoke the next morning after only having a couple of hours sleep. She had tossed and turned all night, reliving the moment she had seen Draco over and over again. It maddened her how her head worked. She had yearned for him for over three years and now he had finally come back she wanted to get as far away from him as possible. His insinuations when they were arguing made her skin crawl. How could he possibly think that of her? She had done everything she could to find him when left, despite him leaving her heartbroken. Even when every attempt turned out to be futile she had never let go of him, not fully anyway.
The tapping that had first awoken her continued and, upon further investigation, she saw two owls perched on her window ledge. Groggily opening the window for the small birds, she gave them some treats before they flew off into the sunshine. Opening a scroll of parchment, Hermione was shocked to see it was a letter from Kristian.
Words cannot possibly convey how disgusted I am at my actions last night. I'm afraid I had one glass of champagne too many but that is no excuse for my behaviour. I am so terribly sorry for how I treated you. I understand if you do not wish to see me again but please accept my apology. I hope to see you soon if you would allow it for you are a wonderful woman.
My deepest apologies,
Next to where the letter had been left was a large bouquet of red roses. Hermione hated red roses. There was just something about them that didn't sit well with her. Whether it was what they usually represented or the thorns that lined the stems she did not know. All she knew was that she hated them. She huffed as she threw the letter in the bin. It took more than a bunch of flowers to earn her forgiveness.
Moving on she found a larger scroll and as she opened it her face fell with shock. It was the Daily Prophet and her face was splashed all over the front. There were so many photographs! One of her arriving with Lucius and Narcissa, another with Kristian, a couple of her alone and finally, right in the center and larger than the others, was the image of she and Draco arguing when they exited the Ministry. The headline made her gag as she read the huge black lettering flashing in front of her face: 'LADY MALFOY LET'S SLIP'. It was clearly referring to her accidentally outing the reason for hers and Draco's separation. She knew exactly what sort of things the four page article would say so she didn't bother reading the trash.
Looking out of her window Hermione wasn't surprised to see a gaggle of reporters stood at the entrance to her flat. Luckily, she lived in a magical neighbourhood so no questions would be asked. Not wanting to face them but refusing to stay on her own, Hermione washed and changed then swiftly apparated to Grimmauld Place. If any one could set her mind straight on the matter of Draco Malfoy it was Ginny Potter.
Well, that's chapter 6 :) Please leave a review to let me know what you think of the story so far! I really appreciate them and I ALWAYS reply :) Happy reading, MM :)
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