Chapter 20 : Trust Me for an Hour
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It was the night before the spring break and while the rest of Hogwarts was abuzz with students packing the things they wanted to take for the short break home, Hermione had already done that and just wanted to get away to relax for a while.
She would see her parents soon and she still wasn’t sure what she was going to do to protect them. Draco had warned her that they would be in danger of being snatched and she thought it prudent to heed his warning.
There were several different spells that she could use to protect their home, but they were dentists that would continue their normal lives regardless if they were told they were in danger. They weren’t the kind of people to hide out in their home for a long period of time. She knew there would be no real way to protect them when they left the house every day to go about their Muggle lives.
She wanted to clear her head and think. So she decided a nice hot bath in the Prefects bathroom would be a perfect place. Grabbing rosemary and mint scented shampoo, a bathrobe, and a few glass jars for candlelight, she headed to the fifth floor.
Pinning up her hair and removing her clothes, she donned a white bathrobe while the over-sized pool-like tub filled with hot water and suds. When the fluffy white suds almost overtook the place, she stuck a careful toe in to test the temperature of the water, which was quite satisfactory. And since she didn’t want the water getting too cold too fast, she used her wand to cast a charm that would help hold the water temperature much longer than normal.
She then removed her robe and carefully slid into the tub, instantly surrounded by warmth.
Like a vigil, she sat near the ledge and lit three small glass jars with tiny flames just as Draco had showed her; each one representing the people she was most concerned about at the moment. She recalled from her youth the times she had seen people light candles at church, sending up prayers to God on behalf of loved ones.
Once done, she sat back against the wall of the tub and onto the underwater ledge, perfect for sitting and relaxing. She watched the flames flicker as if coming to life then inhaled some of the steam rising up from the water and closed her eyes, settling in.
Hermione recalled Draco’s gentle voice from the night they were in the kitchens together saying, “I don’t know how or what, but you need to think of ways to protect them.” But how?
Hermione thought she felt a soft surge of a water swell and opened her eyes to see someone staring back at her.
“Ahhh!” Hermione screamed for her life, but then stopped abruptly when she realized who it was.
In a blink Draco grabbed for his wand but slipped a bit ungracefully as he turned around, sending splashes and streams of water and bubbles flying every which way, ready to annihilate whatever it was that was about to attack them.
But there was nothing and no one there.
Realization came over him then. He was the reason why she screamed.
When he heard her slight giggling turn into laughter behind him, he lowered his wand and tilted his head to the ceiling in frustration before turning to her.
“Bloody hell, Granger. I thought there was a Dementor behind me or something. What was that all about? Trying to give me a heart attack?”
“That was the scream of a naked girl finding an uninvited boy in her bathwater! You scared me half to death.” She tried to hold in her laughter, but she couldn’t help herself as she recalled the massive display of splashing he caused.
And not to mention he didn’t exactly look like he could do damage to anyone with bubbles dripping from his wand.
He watched as her laughing eyes sparkled and the corners of her lips turn into a wide grin that she just couldn’t help.
“No one laughs at a Malfoy and gets away with it. You’re going down, Granger.” He warned playfully.
“What? No!” She protested as he found her ankle under the water, grabbed hold, and pulled until she was completely submerged.
When she came up for air, her pretty up-do was now soaked and plastered to her head and face. It was indeed his turn to laugh, except that he kept it at a slight chuckle.
“Oh, I hate you.” She scolded while removing her now useless hair pins. “Do you know how easy it is to hate you? You make it so easy that it isn’t difficult in the slightest.”
“You don’t hate me.” He replied with a smile, wondering how long it had been since he had done such a thing.
“Oh, yes I do. You come in here invading my privacy, interrupting a perfectly peaceful, relaxing bath and you ruined it. So, now… now I’m going to have to ask you to… to get out.”
Hermione was completely frazzled at seeing Draco looking like he was wearing nothing but a silver necklace with a Slytherin pendant.
“You get out.” He told her, not believing that she actually wanted him to leave.
“I would, but I… I don’t have any clothes on. You’ll have to turn your head and close your eyes so that I can get out.”
“I won’t be turning my head or closing my eyes. I guess you’ll just have to stay.”
“Ugh. You see?” She gestured with one hand, the other attempting to cover herself. “That is precisely the reason that you are the easiest person to hate that I know.” Her cheeks flushed embarrassment as the hourglass that wasn’t there before caught her eye. “And what is the hourglass for anyway?” She said as if irritated.
“I believe an hourglass indicates when an hour has passed.” He played.
“Don’t patronize me, Malfoy. I know what it does. Why did you bring it?”
“Perhaps I wanted to spend time with you, but thought it prudent to set a limit.” He said as the air around them became a touch more serious.
He could tell that she was nervous and unsure by the way she had moved her arms and legs tight to her body to cover herself, which wasn’t exactly necessary with the mountains of suds and bubbles surrounding her. She attempted to move more suds around her to help the cause while she pondered his reason for the hourglass.
He adored her modesty and was greatly amused by it. It made him smile yet again.
“You know, you have nothing to be ashamed of.” He finally said in a serious tone, backing away from her a bit to give her more space. He wanted her to feel comfortable and safe with him, unsure if it was possible in her naked state. “You have a beautiful body. I do not wish to violate it or make you feel uncomfortable. I’ve kept my shorts on… in case you were wondering.” He said in a serious manner.
The look in his eyes told her that he meant her no harm. But she realized that she had nothing to worry about from him, when he finally voiced a simple, but at the same time difficult question, nearly pleading…
“Trust me for an hour?”
She took a peek at the hourglass, watching time slip by and then nodded her head in agreement.
He looked up at the stained glass window behind her. It depicted a pretty mermaid sitting politely above them.
“Will you play something for us, please?” He asked the magical window.
The magical glass mermaid nodded her head eagerly and began strumming her harp. The song was beautiful and slow… and romantic.
“I didn’t know she did that.” Hermione commented with wonder. “Something your parents told you of Hogwarts?”
He gave a nod in acknowledgement. “My father was a Prefect.”
“I remember.” She said quietly. “From his picture in the yearbook you gave Harry at Christmas.”
Her mention of Christmas reminded him of Delilah’s Black Book of Poems. “And have you finished the book I gave you?”
“Finished? I haven’t finished it by any means, but I do love it. Sometimes I can recognize the hidden spell, but I suspect most times I’ve read right over it and missed it completely. The storyline is sad and tugs at my heart every time, but it’s intriguing and brilliant.”
She thought about telling him how much the character had reminded her of him, but she thought against it, not wanting to bring up sad memories of his dead dog and how she related it to the elf in the story. She kept that to herself.
“Are you going to see your parents during the break?” He asked, interrupting her thoughts.
“That’s good.” He replied. “Spending time with your parents is a good thing, Granger. I’m sure they miss you, especially since they didn’t see you at Christmas.”
“Yeah.” She said as she cupped her hand with water and patted her forehead, suddenly feeling a little too warm.
“Have you figured out what you are going to do to help protect them?”
“I have a few ideas, but honestly… I’m not sure just yet. For now, protection charms around the house, but I know that will not be enough.” She looked at her three candles. “I actually came here to think about it and lit jars for them… a vigil if you will. I know that I might have to do something that I don’t want to do so that they might live. Know what I mean?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.” He knew precisely what she meant, but he wasn’t thinking about that. Instead, he was wondering who the third lit jar was for. There were three and two were for her parents. What of the third?
“What about you?” She asked politely. “Going home for the break?”
He wasn’t going home and didn’t answer. Instead, he lunged forward a bit and submerged himself under the water. After a quick moment, he resurfaced in the same spot with his hands wiping the water from his face.
Hermione had to remind herself to breathe at the sight of Draco’s now glistening wet body sitting in front of her. The water, trickling down the chiseled muscles of his arms and the hollowed v- shape between his collar bones pointing to his heaving chest. All of him illuminated by candlelight, listening to beautifully romantic music, and sharing her bathwater. Never in her wildest imagination would she ever have thought she’d be bathing with Draco Malfoy.
“I don’t want to talk about going home.” He told her. “As a matter of fact, I’m not sure that I want to talk about anything.” He said looking deep into her eyes, as if he wanted her to know his very thoughts.
“Okay.” She said in an airy breath, suddenly worried for him. She now felt bad at how their time had began with her screaming like a silly girl. And then an alarming thought came to her... he wasn't the type to show up for no reason.
Suddenly she hoped that he would open up to her even more than he had before. But maybe he wouldn't if he really didn't want to talk.
Up to that point, they had stuck to surface conversation, nothing too deep. But he wasn’t sure if he wanted it to get deeper. He just wanted to be with her.
He looked down at the water for a moment, then looked back up to see her caring eyes.
“If you trust me at all… will you come closer to me?” He breathed. “I ruined your peaceful bath and wish to remedy that.”
Hermione swallowed hard, trying to think of a reason why she should not get any closer. But she couldn’t think of anything. She couldn’t think at all.
In her hesitation, Draco reached out his left arm to her and her eyes immediately scanned his skin, terrified of what she might find there. But with his Dark Mark concealed, she saw nothing and her heart leaped with overwhelming joy and sweet, sweet relief. It was confirmation that he was no Death Eater and would never take the mark. She had been right about him all along, or so she thought.
Love for the young man patiently waiting for her to take his hand swelled within her.
He saw her face light up at not seeing the mark, knowing exactly what she was thinking. It pained him that she held onto hope for him yet… hope in something already long gone.
In a split second, he felt terrible offering her not only a hand, but the lie that went with it.
But those feelings melted away as soon as her delicate fingers touched his… calming the storm of self-hatred that grew within.
Hermione had taken his hand in full trust and she soon felt Draco pull her slowly, ever closer and closer to him. But she became self-conscience and insecure yet again and covered her breasts with her free arm.
But she didn’t need to because as she got closer, he raised her arm up and turned her body underneath it, as in a slow twirl of a dance, so that her back was to him.
Even though the water was wonderfully warm, her body began to shake as if she were freezing. Her nerves were suddenly on edge being so close to him without clothing. She could not help but be nervous wondering what he planned to do to her.
Her answer came quick as he took hold of her long hair and gathered it with his hands, which made her head tilt back, loving the way he was running his fingers in it. And soon enough, Hermione began to relax under his magical touch.
Draco put out the flame of one of her jars and transformed it into a pitcher. He then dipped it into the warm water and poured it over her hair three times then quietly voiced, “Accio shampoo.”
The bottle magically came to him and he proceeded to put a bit of it in the palm of his hand and began slowly messaging it into her hair. His touch was gentle as he lathered long strands, one after another.
The cool and clean scent of rosemary and mint filled the air around them as the soft sounds of a harp played on. And Hermione’s bath became altogether lovely and more wonderful than ever being alone.
Hermione couldn’t believe what he was doing. His tender touch on her scalp and temples felt so good that it almost relaxed her to the point of falling asleep, but then he went back to washing long single strands at a time.
She opened her eyes to take in the beautiful space around her. The founders must’ve been a creative lot to have built such a place as this with a bathroom fit for royalty; the arches, the carvings, the magic of an enchanted stained glass window. But then there was Draco and what he was doing to her.
“It’s amazing how you can make a girl feel like a privileged princess.” She whispered humbly.
“I have no idea what I’m doing, really.” He admitted. “I don’t know how you girls manage all this hair.” He gave a slight chuckle.
“Just keep doing what you are doing and then eventually rinse.” She smiled while in complete, relaxed bliss.
“If you were mine, I would make sure that you felt like a princess every day. I would spoil you just to see you smile at me.” He paused, then reiterated, “If you were mine.”
“If you were mine, I would make sure that you knew how much I appreciate the way you make me feel and that you would never need to spoil me for me to smile at you.” She answered.
He was happy to feel her relax in his hands and thought about what he really wanted to do if she were his.
“If you were mine, I would’ve kissed you in front of the Mirror of Erised.” He replied, filling the glass pitcher again and pouring it over her hair three more times to rinse.
Even though she couldn’t see it, she could hear the smile in his voice. It made her smile as well.
“Accio conditioner.” She said, catching the bottle as it came to her. “Do it again… with this.”
He did as she requested and began messaging the conditioner into her hair slowly.
“If you were mine, I would want to fall asleep with you every night and wake with you still beside me every morning… just as we did in the Room of Hidden Things.” The thought was bittersweet, but it made her smile none-the-less.
He let out a slight moan of agreement and simply stated, “Yes.”
He thought of that morning and how he didn’t want the sun to come up and how he never wanted their conversations to end. This time with her would be no different. He looked at the hourglass and watched the cruel sand slip through the small space to the bottom, literally watching time rush away entirely too fast.
“If you were mine, St. Mungos would have an influx of patients suffering from sudden shock.” He commented lightly.
She giggled, picturing a rather funny scene in her mind.
“And if you were mine,” she said teasingly, “I would have a long line of girls hounding me for the love potion that I must’ve slipped to you. But I would just turn them away, telling them that I have no idea what I did to hold your attention.”
“Snake oil, tell them.”
She giggled once more at his little joke and oh, how he loved to hear it.
When he was finished with her hair, he took hold of a bath sponge, lathered it up, and began running it lightly over the back of her neck, then over her shoulder blades and then moved slowly down her spine and back up again until he had washed over every inch of her back.
Hermione leaned forward a bit and let out a long sigh at the wondrous feeling on her skin. She wanted to squeal with delight, but dare not for fear of being childish.
He then reached around and ran it from under her chin to her collarbones then down her arms.
But when he reached her right hand, she took the sponge from him and took his hand, inspecting his Slytherin ring.
At first glance, she could tell that it wasn’t new. It looked a bit old, not something perfect. There were a few minor scratches and the features of the snake were smoothed out where a snake skin pattern once had been.
He could’ve had it restored shiny and new again, but he liked it just the way it was.
“Was this your father’s?” She asked curiously while turning it a bit with her fingers.
“No. It was my grandfather’s, left to me in his will.”
Draco liked the ring not only for what was seen by others, but what they could not see. For hidden inside the band was an engraved message that read, “Not all things pass from father to son.”
The message was subtle, but Draco knew that it wasn’t the ring that Abraxas Malfoy was talking about. He was speaking of much deeper things, like beliefs regarding blood status. His grandfather left him more than a ring. He had left him a hint of encouragement that it was okay to be himself and not an exact duplicate of his father.
While he was pondering this, Hermione managed to abruptly interrupt his thoughts when she took both of his hands and placed them under the water and onto her bare belly, silently giving him permission to touch her with his hands... and wondering if he would.
He sat frozen for a few seconds, pondering what her actions were telling him. Did she really want him to touch her?
He moved his hands across her mid-section and crossed his arms around her waist taking note of the smoothness of her skin.
She felt his fingers explore her ribcage as he moved lower and lower. But then his hands moved slowly past her navel and then moved onto her hips, then to her legs, knees, then to her ever-so-sensitive inner thighs.
And that is when he noticed that she had paused her breathing.
Having his fingers and hands touch her so sensually had her tensing up with anticipation and wonderment of where he might touch her next. She was torn between wanting him to go further and not being ready for such sensations. It seemed as though she was living in a dangerous dream with a heightened excitement that sent electricity through her core. She hadn’t realized that she’d been holding her breath awaiting his next move.
As much as he was amazed that she was allowing him to explore her body, her unspoken tense reaction told him that she wasn’t ready for more and so he went back to wrapping his arms around her waist, then up her back, onto her shoulders, and finally to her bare neck.
Hermione let out a breath of relief that came with elation that he had not taken advantage of her when he could have. It was a move that had her trusting him even further. She was able to relax then and close her eyes as she concentrated on his sensual touch and the feel of his hands still moving across her skin.
When his touch went from her neck to her shoulders and back around her waist yet again, they melted into each other and the two just breathed as they listened to soft music coming from the enchanted window and the slight splashes on the water from their movements.
“Oh, if you were mine.” He voiced with lust mixed with sorrow and great wanting as he held her.
When Hermione opened her eyes, she looked up at the stained glass mermaid that continued the beautiful song, but noticed pale blue tears falling from the mermaid’s cheek.
“She cries for us.” Hermione commented in a whisper.
His sad gray eyes looked up briefly, then he answered with a kiss to her bare shoulder. It was soft and caring and tender. “Yes. She does.”
When she felt his lips against her skin, she thought she might melt into the water, while Draco worried that he'd gone too far. Maybe he shouldn't have kissed her. He feared she would move away.
Hermione glanced at the hourglass and realized their time together was slipping by fast. She could no longer stand to have her back to him and didn’t care that she was naked underneath the water. She slowly turned to face him and watched as his gray eyes showed surprise and wonder at what she was doing.
He looked at the beauty before him as she raised herself slightly and landed her bare chest to his, her arms resting high on his shoulders.
She felt his arms instantly wrap around her frame and they embraced as two lovers that were never meant to be together.
Draco was in awe of her. He was flooded with a hundred different feelings that he could not put to words. He never expected such a intimate display of trust and couldn't help but wonder how far she wanted the situation to go. For now, it seemed she wanted to hold onto him and be held. And so he did precisely that, wanting the same.
With the wetness of their skin against skin, she slipped down a bit, which was okay with her because it allowed her to lay her head to his chest to hear his heartbeat once more.
It was strong, but the time between beats was surprisingly slow. It was as if he was so at peace, he was sleeping.
“How is it that your heartbeat is so slow?” She asked as hers seemed to race.
“I’ve slowed it down so that it beats slow and quiet because I don’t want it to get in the way of my thoughts.”
Anyone can calm themselves down, but she thought Draco might have more control over it than most, including wizards that had the power to do the most amazing things. She thought then that he might actually have the power to stop it from beating altogether.
“And what are you thinking right now?” She asked.
“I was thinking that… right now at this very moment, there is no magic holding you to me. No spell. No love potion. So, something this incredible must be a miracle, evidence that there is a God that cares about me after all in giving me such a gift.”
Hermione’s eyes began to water at hearing such beautiful words that had a gentle power to heal any insecurities that she had ever held about herself.
She felt him tighten his grip on her as he pulled her in close and kissed her damp hair.
But as he did this, something seemed to come over Hermione. Feelings coming straight from her heart flooded her entire being, making her shy reserve suddenly melt away.
She took a cupped hand to the water, wetting a spot on his neck as if washing it and then proceeded to kiss it. She tasted his wet skin with lips and tongue and an open mouth.
She began wetting the other side of his neck with delicate fingers and then repeated her open-mouth kissing, wanting to literally drink in the taste of him.
She wanted him to feel as good as he made her feel right at that moment. No words could express it and so she acted out what she was feeling, hoping her thoughts would transfer to him physically.
She felt his arm slide around her and up her spine where a hand caressed the back of her neck giving her sweet encouragement.
Hermione continued wetting his skin that she wanted to kiss… his collarbone once, twice, but then she lifted herself slightly so that she could wet and kiss his cheek. But then she stopped for a moment, long enough to wet his mouth, showing him what she wanted… to kiss his wet lips.
“Wait.” He said to her.
For a split second, fear seared through her, worried that he didn’t want her kiss. But he only made her wait a moment as his watery fingertips went to her lips, wetting hers.
Their eyes held as they stared at each other… both full of pent up passion for the other, water dripping like lustful drool from their chins.
“Is this really happening?” She questioned in an airy breath as if the entire experience with him suddenly became unreal.
“Do you want it to be?” He barely whispered.
“Yes. Do you?” She asked with worry that maybe he didn’t.
“Then I want you to kiss me, Draco. Because right now, until the hourglass is spent… I am yours and you are mine.”
Her sweet words wrapped around his soul and resonated within his very being as she bravely gave herself to him and claimed him in the same breath.
He then took gentle fingers to her face and carefully wet her lips once more. His head tilted as he leaned in and kissed the water from her chin and then gave her the sweetest of moments when he finally kissed his way to her awaiting wet lips.
Draco was careful to take his time to savor this beautiful moment with her.
She opened her mouth to meet his, slowly inviting him in.
He touched his tongue to hers. Just a slight touch at first, but it seemed at every breath, he would ever so slowly move deeper into her. Softly and tenderly he tasted her while she did the same, matching his pace while his hands still held her face.
A tear fell onto her cheek at the beauty of it.
She began touching his hair, his face, his neck and back, all while kissing him tenderly. She ran her hands over every inch of skin exposed to her as if she couldn’t get enough of him.
He never felt so loved by any girl he’d ever been with. None had ever made him feel truly loved until now. She was touching, kissing, and loving the deepest part of his dark heart and filling it with light overflowing.
His hands roamed ever-so-slowly everywhere on her body, committing her to memory… as much as he could and still be considered a gentleman.
She noticed how respectful he was with her, so careful to not go too far or cross into any danger zones. It was then when she realized that she felt so very safe with him… and wanted… and loved… and fully accepted. That’s what she wanted most in this world, wasn’t it? It was what she wanted to experience before she died. It was all radiating from him and only heightened her desire for him to touch her in those very zones considered too far and dangerous.
He kissed her neck softly, holding back and trying to not devour her or bruise her as he reveled in the feel of her against his body and what her fingers were doing to his muscles.
“I can feel my body becoming addicted to this… to you.” She commented in a breath of passion.
Draco could no longer keep his heartbeat at bay as it now pounded in his chest.
“Then we shall both be addicts.”
Their lips crashed together and he thought he might not be able to stop kissing her as it built into one of deep passion for each other.
She let out a whimper against his mouth, which he returned with a low moan and suddenly he was picking her up and they found themselves in the middle of the tub. Never had he wanted his kiss to say everything for him until this moment. He wanted it to speak for him… how much he loved her, wanted her, and how much it pained him that he would have to say goodbye to her.
As he continued his power kiss, she found his hand and guided it to the side of her breast, giving him full permission to cross the line. But just before he was to do that very thing, he laced his fingers to hers hoping to conjure some resemblance of control. He carried her forward so that she landed on the underwater seat, opposite of where they had been.
“Hermione,” he managed to say against her lips in an attempt to stop himself from going further. Guilt crept within at what he was doing.
Both being breathless, he wanted her to understand why he was there. Yes, it was to use her, but not like this. He placed his hands on the ledge of the tub, his arms on either side of her, boxing her in.
“I came here today, seeking you out because I wanted to spend time with you. You have this power to… to comfort me when the darkness comes to swallow me. Just being near you and talking to you. I came here to use you.” He confessed. “I despise users and deeply regret that I’ve become one.” Still catching his breath, he continued on. “But I never expected this. I never expected this to get so… so amazingly physical. The way you touch me like I’m…” He had to stop to keep his emotions in check. He closed his eyes and shook his head in lieu of continuing his sentence. ‘Still a human being,’ he finished silently in his head.
He was about to pull away from her and remove himself from the water, but her hands moved lovingly to his face, holding him there with a grace that stuck like glue.
“You have neither the embrace nor the kiss of a user. And pulling away from me only proves that you are not. I cannot begin to guess what darkness haunts you. But there is nothing wrong with needing someone and if I can ease your mind then I invite you to come to me. But next time, don’t you dare take so long.”
“There won’t be a next time.” He vowed.
She kissed him again, but then moved to his cheek and eventually found the lobe of his ear. Her arms wrapped around him once more and he obliged to do the same.
“Draco.” She thought carefully of what she was about to say. She risked much, but grew tired of holding back things that she wanted to say. “I would live in a cardboard box with you.” She said to his ear.
His forehead dropped to her shoulder as he fully took in her words and their meaning. She mentioned that very phrase when they were talking about life and love while in the Astronomy Tower together. She had said that she would live in a cardboard box with the one she loved so long as he loved her as much.
“When I close my eyes and picture it, it is you who lies with me.”
She didn’t need a huge country estate, an over-flowing bank account, or 'a diamond ring as big as the moon,' he recalled one girl saying. She only wanted him.
Her cardboard box was a sacred place and a privilege, he knew… a place he would never deserve to be in.
With his head down and still resting on her shoulder, he opened his eyes and could now see her breasts through the water, her cloudy suds now barely existent. With her words of love, her wet kisses, the feeling of her body naked against his, and now seeing her intimate curves began sending messages to parts of his body that made him a man. He had to look away.
He said nothing as he pulled her into him and held her tightly once more, resting his chin on her shoulder. But in doing so, he noticed much to his horror that the concealment charm hiding his Dark Mark was fading. His time with her was at an abrupt end!
His eyes darted to the hourglass just as the last of the granules of sand dropped to the bottom.
‘No. Not now! Not yet.’ He pleaded in his head futilely.
She noticed that his body began shaking as he tried to breathe. Draco was trying his best to suppress his panic as he quickly dropped his arm into the water in an attempt to conceal the mark.
Fear gripped him tight and seemed to be crushing him. If she saw the mark, it would ruin everything. It would consume her love and destroy her trust in him. It would kill it and every precious word spoken and every precious movement they had made together on this beautiful night.
She would love him one moment, only to hate him the next.
“No.” He finally said, shaking his head at her shoulder and gripping her tight with his right arm. And with a shaky emotional voice, he began speaking of her future.
“You… You will not be mine.” He said solemnly. “You will… find someone else… someone who will love you and keep you safe. And will not be someone like me who uses you to escape into some unrealistic dream. He will be… a good man.” He said through watery eyes, still holding onto her for dear life as his Dark Mark became more and more dark… like the blackest of ink against his pale white skin. “He won’t be like me and his last name will not bring you shame.”
Her heart crushed inside of her chest at what he was saying. She thought that she was the one that would bring him shame, not the other way around.
She felt him cling to her. His words were meant to push her away, but his actions were telling her just the opposite.
“McGonagall was right. You need to find love with someone else.” He said to her ear. “I want you to forget about me… just think of me as dead and move on with your life. Keep your heart open. Do you understand? I want you to be happy with someone that is allowed to love you. Someone that will give you children that are as beautiful and smart as you. Maybe you’ll get back together with Ron or maybe Harry even. Don’t close the possibilities of being happy with your best friend someday.”
“Stop it!” She demanded as she held on tight and began kissing him just so that he would stop saying such things, but he pulled away.
“Harry… he has feelings for you. Being so close to you, he must. Don’t be surprised if one day, his feelings for you surface.”
“No, Draco. Harry is in love with Ginny.”
“Only because he feels that he can’t have you because of Ron. It’s the way it is with men, Hermione. Just don’t…” He could barely continue, but it was the agonizing, right thing to do. “Just don’t rule him out.”
His words were breaking her heart, but she knew he didn’t want to say them.
Holding her, Draco felt like he was holding love in his hands and he didn’t want to ever let go. She was beauty… her very soul wrapped around his own, in light and love surrounding him, submerging him like the warm water around them.
He would’ve voiced his love for her had he not thought that it would only make his departure worse.
Such sweetness and power in being touched in the heart with the real thing… nothing false. That is, nothing false except for the ugly truth that he kept hidden from her.
“Hermione.” Her named sounded so sweet to him as he said it. “Our time is at an end. You are not mine. And I am not yours.”
Her hands came to his face once again and she kissed him as if willing him to stay.
He returned her kiss with equal tenderness, but then simply said, “I cannot stay.”
“But I don’t know how to say goodbye to you.” She said sorrowfully.
“Then don’t.” He replied not wanting to leave. But he felt he had no choice. And so, with painstaking caution and great care, he pushed himself slightly back and climbed out of the water.
As he attempted to dry himself off and still hide his Dark Mark, which was now fully prominent, he noticed that she had spared no time in transforming the glass pitcher back into a glass jar and re-lighting it.
He picked up his wand and the hourglass belonging to Slytherin House, thinking about her three lit jars.
“Your vigil?” He asked. “The third one is for me, isn’t it?” He guessed as the water dripped from his body and pooled at his feet.
“Yes.” She answered hoping that he wouldn’t think it lame to send a prayer on his behalf.
“And you wonder how you hold my attention? It is your kind soul that cares for me, even though it shouldn’t.”
Draco walked out unable to extinguish the guilt he felt in asking her to trust him for an hour knowing full well that she shouldn’t trust him for one second.
When Hermione returned to the Gryffindor dorm, she was still in a bit of a daze at the experience with Draco. His roaming hands felt so magical against her skin and that kiss when he picked her up and moved her across the water still made her face flush red at the thought of it.
She hadn’t realized that she was walking so slowly until Ginny asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yes, of course.”
“How was your bath?”
“It was… steamy and uh… hot. Very, very hot.” She uttered. “And exactly what I needed. Um, to relax. I mean… that is what a bath is for, right? Relaxing and everything.” She said trying to act as if nothing out of the ordinary, like finding Draco Malfoy in your bath, had happened. “I think I’ll go to bed now.” She nodded as if that was a good idea.
“Okay, goodnight then.” Ginny replied, a little worried at her friend’s strange demeanor.
“Yes. A very good night, indeed.” Hermione replied on her way to her room.
Once she got there, she practically dove into her bed. All she wanted at that moment was his hands on her as she missed him already. She even managed to arrange her pillows as if she were on top of him.
But her pillow didn't have his heartbeat or his arms to hold her and most certainly did not have his hands that had the ability to set her nerves on fire. And even though a disappointment from the real thing, she remained on top of them nonetheless, wishing that someday he would be loving her in a bed.
As Blaise walked into the Slytherin Common Room, he witnessed Draco returning the hourglass to the fireplace mantle, staring into the moving sand as if in a reminiscent daze.
“You were with her tonight, weren’t you?” Blaise accused as if he already knew the answer.
“Yes. And it was the most incredible hour of my life.”
“You had sex with her?” He assumed as if the notion were incredible.
“No. Something far better than the meaningless sex I’ve experienced.” Draco replied still looking into the sand as if it held the memory.
“And what could that possibly be?”
“We bathed together.”
“Bathed together? Like as in naked bathing?” Blaise asked, trying not to sound jealous of bathing with a Mudblood.
“She was naked, yes.” Draco finally looked away from the hourglass then. “If you have a list of things to do before you die, I highly recommend adding ‘bathing with the woman you love’ to the list.”
As Draco lie in bed, he looked at the pillow beside him and spoke softly.
"If I could will you next to me, you'd be here."
Okay, I admit, this chapter is a bit gratuitous in that it didn’t actually move the story along, but I loved writing this, giving them this intimate hour together and a memory neither of them will ever forget.
Up next, we finally get to Sectumsempra where he finally asks her, “Can you love a Death Eater?” *squeals* Dramione action in droves... I promise.
Love to all,
P.S. An amazing 38,000 reads and 216 Favorited. I feel so blessed when I look at these numbers and especially when I read your wonderful comments. Please keep them coming. If you felt your own heart swell or let out a squeal, I’d love to hear about it. Please, please review.
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