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Chapter 9 : Of The Vixen and Jealousy
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 137|
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Hermione never thought of silence as palpable. She never thought it had a taste or scent. She never considered it to have a texture or weight. She never thought it had a temperature. The truth was, the room was silent. Not just any silence, but the silence that occurred before something momentous. Her nose burned from the metallic scent and the back of her throat was dry from the acidic taste. She felt as if the air around her was too dense to breathe, and she was burning and freezing at the same time. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
He moved quickly. His movements reminded her of the great, large panther in the zoo by her home that she had visited in the summers before Hogwarts. Currents of electricity were rolling off him in waves. The air was charged with it. He stopped centimeters from her face. His voice was low, bordering a growl, which erupted from deep within his throat. His words were not vulnerable, but they weren’t cruel either. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”
She didn’t either.
Ron’s face felt as if it was cracking in two. His head was pounding and his vision kept blurring in and out in one eye. There was a cool wetness trickling over his upper lip and down his cheek that he consistently wiped away but that kept making a new track down his face. He walked like a man who had just learned of his own execution. His eyes were fixed on one spot as he moved, and as Harry opened the portrait to go track him down and instead found him standing as he was on the threshold, his eyes held their focus on that invisible fixation.
“Ron?” Harry asked in alarm. Ginny rushed over at the sound, her hands flying to her mouth as Harry pulled Ron into the common room and pushed him down onto a couch. “Ginny go get my wand. It’s on my night table, next to my bed.” Ginny nodded and ran off.
Dean and Seamus appeared behind the couch as Ron laid back, his eyes closing. Harry shook him. “Ron, what’s going on? What happened to you?” Ron’s eyes stayed closed. “Ron! Come on mate,” he pulled him back into an upright position, “Stay awake! Tell me what happened!”
Ron groaned and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, regarding the red streak across it. “Malfoy,” he said simply.
Harry felt his anger bridle. “You got in a fist fight with Malfoy?” Ron nodded. Trying to lighten the mood now that he knew his best friend wasn’t in danger of dying he said, “Well, next time make sure Hermione’s there to stop you from getting your arse kicked.”
“She was,” Ron’s eyes flashed with something Harry didn’t recognize.
“She was there?” Harry was on his feet.
“She is there,” Ron corrected, his voice without emotion.
“You left her there alone with him? After what he just did to you?”
Ron raised his eyes to Harry’s, focusing them for the first time since he had stumbled into the common room. He didn’t say anything.
Ginny came running down the stairs at that moment with Harry’s wand in hand but Harry was already on his way out of the common room.
Needing desperately to escape, Hermione had found herself wandering the hallways in her shorts and button-up sweater; her arms wrapped around herself. After Draco’s admission they had moved towards the couch and sat in an awkward silence for almost ten minutes before he had risen to his feet and disappeared up the staircase without a word. Unable to stomach the thought of passing his room on the way to hers, she headed out the portrait hole. It was very late, so late that not even the prefects would be patrolling the hallways. It was entirely by chance that Harry was able to find her.
“Hermione!” he called. “Hermione wait!” he ran the entire distance between them.
Hermione stalled in her steps and looked back to find Harry just catching up with her, worry written across his face. He took her arm. “Harry, what’s wrong?”
He took a moment to catch his breath, assessing her with his eyes. “Ron just came back to the common room,” he said.
Hermione fought to keep no emotion from showing in her face. “And how is he?” she asked in straight tones.
Harry was at first in disbelief of the situation. “Did you send him away?” his brow was furrowed.
Hermione steeled herself. She was going to lie, and then decided there was no one else she’d rather talk to then Harry. “Oh Harry!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around his shoulders in a hug. “Everything has been so miserable this year!”
His arms went around her back. “You want to talk about it?” he asked.
Hermione pulled back and away and sniffed. She felt now as if she was on the verge of tears again. All of the pent up frustrations from that evening had gathered behind her eyes and the confusion was pushing them forward and out. Harry walked a way down the hallway until he came to an alcove that had a bench nestled into it’s shadows. He sat down, waiting for her to join him.
“What has been going on this year with you and Malfoy?” Harry asked as she sat down. “Why have you been so distant and—” he noticed the sparkling sheen to her eyes and put a hand over hers, “are you going to be okay?”
“Harry,” she said softy, “you’ve always been a best friend. At the very least, you’ve always been the only friend who attempted to understand me.” She turned to face him. “Can’t you see that Ron and I aren’t supposed to be? That I simply don’t have feelings like that for him?”
Harry sat back against the stones. “Everyone expects it,” he said.
She nodded sadly. “But that doesn’t mean it’s true.”
He was quiet for a moment. “What about Malfoy?”
She took a moment to gather her very jumbled thoughts. “I’m… I’m not sure,” she said. “He’s been . . . kind to me this year. He—” she stopped as her mind was flooded with what had happened in the bathroom. She shivered but she wasn’t cold. Harry slung an arm around her, and she fell into his hug, her head resting on his shoulder. “Harry . . .” she started. “I don’t hate him,” her voice was so soft that even she barely heard herself.
“What?” He sat upright and she pulled away.
“I don’t,” she said firmly.
Harry ran a hand through his hair as he took a moment to process that idea. “Alright,” he struggled to say, “Then what about us? About you, me, and Ron?”
“There is no ‘Ron and I’,” she said wearily. “But you and I will always be friends. At least, as long as you want to be my friend. . .” she trailed off.
They both reached to hug the other at the same time. After a moment he pulled her back and set a hand warmly on her face. “No matter what you decide to do about Malfoy, I’m going to back you up. I promise I won’t let something like that ruin our friendship. Even if it is Malfoy,” he ended on a bitter note. “But don’t expect me to be any nicer to him. Don’t expect me to like him or be around him or—,” a large crash interrupted his sentence mid word and they both jumped to their feet, but the corridor was seemingly empty.
“I better get back to the common room. He’ll have gone to bed by now.”
Harry nodded. “You’re still welcome in the Gryffindor common room, Hermione. You are still a Gryffindor.”
She smiled sadly. “No,” she said, “I’m Head Girl. I don’t have a house. I have a common room and I share it with a sleeping dragon. I walk softly and I talk quietly and I still find myself stepping on the shards of glass scattered about the floor.”
“Things are going to be alright,” he said. “Are you ready for the exam in Dianna’s class tomorrow?”
She shook her head. That was what she had been preparing for when she had had an emotional breakdown with Draco and then that had led to the bathroom and her falling into his arms and that had led Ron to her room and Draco to beat him up and that had led to her kicking Ron out and desiring desperately to run to Draco and heal his wounds. She had forgotten about the exam. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Harry,” she said as she turned and began her trek back to the common room.
What just happened? Draco was pacing around his dorm. Unlike most males of the age of seventeen, his room was immaculate. There was not one shred of clothing on the floor and not one belonging out of place. Why did she look so hurt? Why the hell do I care? He sat on the edge of his bed, across from his dresser which supported a large, ornate, silver-lined mirror. His head fell into his hands. She threw Weasley out.
I hate her. He assured himself. I hate her. He raised his eyes to his reflection, his hands sinking into his hair. Bloody Merlin I don’t hate her. His chest was warm in the places where he remembered her touching him and that frustrated him as his mind fought against it. The spot on his shirt had dried, but there was a black stain on his shoulder that was not going to disappear. He was angry with himself because he wanted to go to her. He was angry in general and frustrated at everything around him because of this underlying thought, and he wanted nothing more than for the red head to come back so he could put his fist to his face once again to relieve the pent up emotions that he couldn’t make sense of.
The only way to alleviate this sense of edginess was to go to her and to put it completely out in the open. He was attracted to her, for one reason or another, and he didn’t see any reason why right now he shouldn’t have her.
With that thought in mind he rose from his bed and made his way to his door, and then across the hallway to her dorm where he opened the door without knocking to find her room entirely empty. This led him immediately out of the common room with a sense of worry he wasn’t used to feeling and down the same corridor that she and Harry had met in. It was here that he stepped into the shadows as she was talking with her friend of seven years and watched as Harry slipped his arms around his small friend in what was only a comforting gesture, but one that sent Draco’s sensibilities to the wind. It was his angry reaction that had sent the loud clattering through the corridor that had startled the two friends. And as he raged his way back to the common room he found himself experiencing a most unconventional emotion towards one of muggle parentage such as she; jealousy.
Narcissa Malfoy was consistently perceived as a cold woman who was married to an even colder man and whom had birthed an equally cold son, but common impressions can often be misleading. The truth about the pale blonde was that she was a delicate creature. She walked around her own house as if she was merely an unwanted guest and she was now being forced to tolerate the presence of a crude short, balding man that her doting husband had placed in “her” wing of the manse.
In all honesty she had come to despise her husband very slowly, even though he had been so very cruel to her. She liked to think that she was a very tolerable person, but this man who had been appeared in their home so suddenly was sincerely trying her patience. He was crude. There was no polite way to put it. He left the toilet seat up and he wiped his nose on his sleeve as if he was a child of three. He talked with his mouth full and she had to beg the house-elves to practically push him into a bath on his fourth day in residence with them. Now she was truly at wits end with the man as she had discovered he had purposefully kicked one of the house-elves in her employment. She had spent all morning in her room preparing herself to meet her husband. There was some hope in the back of her mind that if she remained pretty and homely and wifely that he would someday love her again. She could never face the fact that he never had and so went on living in her own world of blissful, yet miserable, ignorance.
“Mistress Malfoy,” a petite house-elf knocked on her door and she rose. “The master said he will see you later tomorrow.”
Her cheeks colored. “Tomorrow? I must speak to him today!”
The house-elf smiled kindly, but sadly. “I am sorry Mistress,” she said as she closed the parlor door.
Narcissa sank back into her vanity, her hand delicately placed over her heart. “I must see him today,” she reassured herself as she slid her feet into a silk pair of slippers and padded her way out of the door and down the stone corridor to her husband’s library.
She stopped before the door and steeled herself. He was going to be very angry with her, but she had every right to complain about the presence of that man in her wing of the house. She went to push open the heavy oak door but stopped, her hands in mid air, as voices reached her ears.
“When do we let them go, Lucius?”
She cringed at his voice. She just couldn’t escape that creature. It was a good thing she had not opened the door because if she had walked in on a private meeting that her husband was holding the punishment would have been most severe. She knew she should understand now why her husband had said he’d see her tomorrow, clearly he was busy, but she was his wife and for some reason she felt the fire behind that statement today. She stayed where she was. If he wished to push her aside for that man then she felt she could justify her eavesdropping.
“Christmas, Gustave.” Lucius’s voice hissed. “I will release them during the holidays when there is the most movement of people to and fro and they can have the largest impact.”
“You don’t think your big bad friend has gotten suspicious of you acting without permission?” Gustave laughed.
“My Lord will award me for my efforts, I assure you,” Lucius replied coldly. Gustave laughed. “You are sure that this will work as you have described?”
There was a moment of silence. “Every last muggle born,” he replied.
Narcissa inhaled sharply. Things were becoming a tad clearer in her mind now. She withdrew from the heavy door, not wishing to overhear anything else from that conversation. She had heard snippets and such around the castle over the past few days and she now felt very frightened of whatever it was her husband was planning to do. She desperately wished for the safe comfort of her son and hurried off to her rooms to pen him a letter imploring him to come home for the Christmas holidays to see her. She snuck this letter to the house-elves after some finagling to override Lucius’s order that they not allow her to owl anyone, and they sent it on it’s way to Hogwarts.
After her comforting conversation with Harry, Hermione was able to return to her dorm room and sleep through the entire night. Upon waking the next morning she found herself with a large headache and a building dread for the exam she would have to face later in the day which she knew she was entirely unprepared for. Rather, she was over prepared in the sense that she now truly could face the fact that she should be the second best dancer in the class, but she also knew there was no way she would magically be able to perform in front of the class. Especially considering that he would be there in the room.
She floated her way miserably through breakfast, which she ate alone in the small kitchen attached to their common room, and then through first and second period (in which she quite efficiently avoided not only Draco, but Ron and Harry as well) and then through lunch which she managed to finish before Ginny and Harry and Ron even sat down at the table.
Her avoidance of everyone close to her was going extremely well until it came time to report to the dance studios. She changed in the common room so she could avoid the locker rooms and then trekked the long way down to the dance studio so she could avoid accidentally meeting anyone in the halls who may want to talk. She even not only stood in the back of the room, but off to the side, so she wouldn’t have to be near anyone, but Dianna de Loustre seemed to have a sixth sense that enabled her to zero in on one’s uncomfortable zone and she repositioned Hermione in the middle of the entire group during warm ups. Coincidently, she found herself three people away from a very fuming and red faced Weasley who had a large black and blue mark on his cheek and two people away from Draco Malfoy who had a very pleasing cologne on today.
It was an extremely miserable class.
By the time it was her turn to step up to the front of the class and perform her Arabesque, she was positively a wreck inside because she had phased herself out after watching every classmate get up and perform adequate to exceptional ones. Draco had, of course, stood, taken the position, and awed everyone. His words echoed back to her as she looked into the mirror and his cold eyes met hers in the reflection.
“She’s testing us tomorrow. You know that. You need to pass. What is it that’s on your mind tonight? What the hell is stopping you?”
“What do you care if I fail or pass?”
“What you do now reflects me.”
She turned her eyes away and took the first position, she could clearly her his voice in her head, guiding her as he had in their sessions.
“Take your stance.”
She closed her eyes and let the music fill her before slowly obeying. She couldn’t do this. Her mind panicked. She could not do this.
She raised her shaking limbs, her eyes on the mirror now, but focused above her head so she could not see herself. She was acutely aware of everyone watching her.
“Let’s go Miss Granger we don’t have all day,” Dianna said.
Her legs locked and every muscle in her body screamed in protest. She panicked as she tried to relax them, but only caused herself to panic more and tighten more.
She had failed again. But this time not only had she failed herself; she had failed him too.
After Hermione’s final class she skipped dinner and waited in her dorm room until seven o’clock when she would have to go down and meet Draco in the dance studio. She knew after her performance today he would be displeased and his attitude throughout the day had conveyed even more but she couldn’t quite pin it.
Her suspicion was confirmed as he entered the studio by way of blowing through the door violently and then throwing his dance bag against the wall. He did not look at her, or acknowledged her presence in any way as he strode to the stereo.
She took her usual spot in the middle of the room before the mirror and he turned to face her, his eyes as cold as they had been in the mirror earlier that morning. He walked to her, circling around her, eyes focused on her with a fire behind them that made her entirely uncomfortable. “You failed today,” he pointed out.
She swallowed the lump that had grown in her throat. As if she wasn’t aware. She raised wide eyes to his, but he was unforgiving. He took sharp steps towards her until he was a hands breadth away, his eyes cold on her face. “I’m sorry,” she said in a whisper.
“Sorry isn’t nearly good enough,” he replied as his arm shot around her waist, pulling her against him.
She froze as he took one of her hands in his and her other hand settled on his shoulder instinctively. He took three steps forward and then two sideways, twisting her around. He was pushing and pulling her violently with him by the hand that was clasped on her waist. Her heart beat a rapid panicked rhythm in her chest as she realized this was a dance of punishment, but for what she couldn’t guess.
He had now kicked his leg between hers, pulling it back so hers was caught in the uptake and he pulled her back in a movement that created a long straight line along her back. She was almost at a forty five degree angle to the ground, completely suspended in his arms and if he let go, she knew her face would make harsh contact with the ground. She didn’t know the movements he was pushing her through and she didn’t know where this dance was leading and she didn’t understand the anger behind it. Everything was moving too fast.
“Draco?” she gasped as he spun her out and then pulled her back in, her back colliding with his chest and both his hands moving down her sides, her hands still twined with his.
“You’re quite the little actress,” his voice whispered in her ear. She turned her face away, completely exposing her neck to him and he nuzzled his face into the opening. She closed her eyes and he wrenched her away from him, turning her in wide spins and pushing her from one side of the room to the next.
You’re going to hurt her.
“What are you talking about?” There was a bite of anger in her tone but as he almost swept her feet from beneath her she felt all the blood rush to her head, and all the resolve she had against him went with it.
She was talking as if she had no idea. As if she didn’t know he was aware she was snuggling up to him all watery-eyed and then running off to Potter all woe-is-me. And then there was that red-headed Weasley git too! She was playing both sides, the little tramp. She was just a temptation sent to put him off guard, and bloody hell if he was going to allow that to continue. There was no battle this little vixen could wage with him that she could win. “I followed you last night,” he said through clenched teeth as he again pulled her against his unforgiving chest, this time she found her mouth inches from his, his breath hot on her cheek.
He no longer had control over himself as he pushed her down and she crumpled to her knee, the other leg stretched along the floor behind her, her hands in his.
“Why?” It was a gasp, not a question, and instead of an answer he pulled her back on her feet, spun around her, held his arm at an angle where she was forced to twist around him, and then threw her backwards into an abrupt dip. To keep herself from falling she did exactly as he had taught her; wrapped her leg tightly around his waist. His hands moved apart and his arms slipped completely around her until she was completely being supported by him and then his mouth was on hers.
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