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What Hurts The Most by scarletheartedlioness

Format: Novel
Chapters: 12
Word Count: 31,706
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Angst
Characters: Hermione, Draco, Blaise (M)
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Other Pairing

First Published: 04/30/2007
Last Chapter: 10/19/2009
Last Updated: 10/19/2009

Summary:
 

banner by Ravenhairedenchantress





I knew it was wrong but I couldn't help it. As Blaise's lips brushed against mine and his hand found its way up my shirt, I couldn't help but let him make love to me. Even though I knew Draco was waiting for me to come home so he could take me out to celebrate our engagement. I wish I knew how to stop being unfaithful to Draco. But my urges for Blaise are too great.
I wish I knew how to quit him.


Chapter 1: Discontentment and Desire
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“Look, Marcy: whatever this guy wants, tell him he can’t have it. This is my company, and I’m going to protect it from creeps like him whether it’s the last thing I do.” I slammed the phone down onto the receiver and took a few deep breaths.

The door opened and my young, petite assistant poked her head into the office. “Is everything all right in here, Miss Granger?” She asked worriedly.

I sighed and sat back in my leather chair. “I’m fine, Claudia. I just can’t stand it when people attempt to buy the company off me. When will they understand that I’m not selling?” I put my head in my hands and rubbed my eyes wearily.

Claudia Marselton stepped into my large, elegant office and quietly snapped the door shut behind her. “If it’s any consolation, Miss Granger, that loud man has stopped calling.” She said softly.

I couldn’t help but laugh at this. All morning Draco had been calling my office, and being horribly unacquainted with the telephone, he had taken to shouting down the line at my personal assistant. This had not taken too well with Claudia, and she had just managed to get Draco to stop calling.

“Thank you, Claudia,” I said lightly, taking a stack of papers from my ‘in’ pile and placing them in front of me. “I’ll call you if I need anything.” I then busied myself in attempting to finish off my reports.

Claudia smiled and bowed out of the office, closing the door in her silent manner.

I smiled to myself. My love of books and knowledge had led me to becoming a journalist. As I also loved muggles so much, being a daughter of them myself, I decided that I wanted to write about nothing but muggles. This had forced me to work with muggles too, but I had not been fazed about this. For three years straight, I had been the manager of a popular muggle magazine called Venus. I earned most of the money for both me and Draco (whom had been my boyfriend for almost two years), and it was great because I was doing what I loved. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was interrupted from my thoughts by the phone ringing. Rolling my eyes irritably, I picked it up and shoved it to my ear. “Marcy, I thought I told you –”

“Hello to you too.” Draco’s voice yelled down the line.

I sighed. “Oh Draco, it’s you.”

“You don’t sound at all surprised to hear me.”

I winced at the loudness of his voice. “Draco, I can hear you even when you don’t shout. Talk quietly.” I said wearily, running a hand through my honey-brown hair.

“You sound stressed.” This time Draco was quiet.

“I am. This creep keeps wanting to buy the company off me. I’m so sick of him, and all the others who think I’m selling,” I pressed the base of my hand to my eye, leaning on my elbow. “I just wish this was easier.”

Draco sighed sympathetically. “It doesn’t exactly help that your magazine is the most popular in all of muggle England, Hermione.” His voice was calm and soft, and it was hard to believe that just seconds ago he had been shouting down the line.

I couldn’t help but smile. “Well aren’t you just the rotten cherry on top of a mouldy cake?”

“Anything for you, love,” he said with a laugh. “Speaking of cake, how would you like to meet me for lunch? I’m just about to head out now, and Raul told me about this nice café out by the lake. What do you say?” His voice was comforting, and although he knew I would probably not come due to an overly overload of work, he could hope.

I glanced guiltily at the massive pile of work I had to file. But when I thought of Draco, there was no way I could resist. I was absolutely, madly in love with him, and it didn’t help that just the sound of his voice made me go crazy with lust. I had to see him. “Sure. Meet me outside my office in ten minutes.” I smiled into the phone.

We hung up, and I decided to go through some of my work before Draco came. It felt like any other normal day, filing papers and editing the other journalists’ pieces. I wondered why I never got bored with it. It seemed like a boring job. But to me, it was part of my life, and there was no way I was letting it go.

Hence the refusal to sell.

Draco had been so good about it all too. I knew he didn’t exactly understand my love of the magazine, but he was supportive, telling me I will pull through if I kept my mind in the game. I smiled at the thought of him throwing away part of his life to cater to mine. It seemed hard to believe that this man had been my enemy back in or school days.

The day we became an ‘item’ obviously wasn’t planned. I had gone to the Leaky Cauldron for a few drinks after a long day at work. After not having seen him since graduation two years prior, I was surprised to see Draco sitting alone in a secluded booth. He had looked sad, lost, so I had boldly sat across from him, casually pushing a fire whiskey across to him. At first he hadn’t recognised me, but when he did he didn’t get furious or disgusted (surprisingly). He merely greeted me nonchalantly and skulled down the whiskey. Finding the fact that he wasn’t mocking me quite refreshing, I stayed with him in the booth. We ordered a drink after the other and talked for hours.

Draco told me that after his father died in Azkaban his life had changed drastically. He had felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. It hadn’t taken long for his maliciousness to fade, and his trouble-making to stop altogether. Listening to him, I had been able to tell he had matured a lot. Even his less-boyish features convinced me he had changed. Though I still hinted his blue-grey eyes were still the same in every way. But I guessed I had downed enough whiskey to believe Draco Malfoy was completely different.

Around three hours and five fire whiskeys (each) later, we both emerged from the Leaky Cauldron, tipsy and laughing as if we had been friends for years. I hailed a cab, and Draco offered to escort me back to my flat. Before the ride was even over, Draco’s body was covering mine in the backseat of the taxi, his lips pressed hard against mine. We couldn’t stop kissing each other, and when the taxi stopped outside my flat, we spilled out into the cool night air, entangled in each other’s arms. We managed to make it upstairs into my bedroom where I had slept with him. I woke up the next morning with a splitting headache to find he had gone.

Even though after that night I wanted to forget our ‘mistake’, I couldn’t deny the obvious chemistry between us. But it wasn’t until a month later that we bumped into each other in Diagon Alley doing our grocery shopping. He asked me out to lunch with him, apologising immensely for leaving me that morning. I decided I didn’t care after being unable to think about nothing but him for the past month. This Draco was different from the one back in school. And the intimacy we had shared that night, drunk or not, was something I would never forget.

We continued to meet up with each other after that. Whenever we weren’t busy (Draco worked as an Auror for the Ministry of Magic after renouncing his somewhat evil title) we would have dinner together. He often came over to my flat where I would cook for him and we would spend hours staring up at the starry sky, talking about life, work and love. We had agreed to keep our relationship strictly at friend level.

But after our two-month friendship, when Draco was over at my flat, he had pressed me up against the wall, admitting he couldn’t stand being with me and not being able to touch me. His lips had brushed against mine, and one thing lead to another and we slept together for the second time. The fact that we had both been sober surprised me the most.

And that had been the start of our relationship. Although his old habits sometimes arose (he would call me Granger sometimes instead of Hermione) he was incredibly sweet and kind. I had found it hard to believe that this man had once teased me in school. Eventually, after a steady six-month relationship, I asked Draco to move into my flat. He had gladly accepted, and things have only gotten better from there.

Now we had been together for almost two years, and I couldn’t be happier. And I knew Draco had changed so much without the chokehold of his demanding father.

Claudia knocked on the door just as I finished with one pile of filing. I called for her to enter. “Mr. Malfoy is here, Miss Granger.”

I put away my work and grabbed my coat. “I’m just going out for a lunch break, Claudia. If anything goes wrong, don’t hesitate to give me a call.” I said as I brushed past my assistant and out into the main building where all my employees were working away with their own columns.

Once out in the fresh air, I felt relieved. We really needed to get that air conditioning fixed. I spotted Draco waiting by his car and hurried over to him. He pulled me into his body and clutched me tightly.

I nuzzled into his neck, happy I was finally in his arms again. “I missed you.” I murmured against his ear.

Draco laughed as he stroked my long hair. “It’s only been three hours.”

“Three hours too long.”

He leaned down and brushed his lips against mine. We kissed again, and again, and again. Shivers ran through my veins. They still did after all this time. Draco’s kisses were the kind that would never get boring. Just the feeling I received when I kissed him was enough to make me go weak at the knees.

He disentangled himself from me and opened the passenger door for me. I slipped in and watched Draco as he went around to the drivers’ side and slid in. Within seconds we were on the road, destined for the outskirts of London. I gazed silently at the changing scenery, and it reminded me so much of the Hogwarts Express journey. The industrial part of London eventually changed into lush, rolling hills and many trees, allowing memories of the long trips I had taken twice every year for seven years. A small smile graced my lips.

“What are you smiling about?” Draco asked, glancing at me briefly before returning his eyes to the road.

“Nothing,” I said, using the secretive voice I knew Draco hated. “Where exactly are we going?”

It was Draco’s turn to smile. “You’ll see.”

It wasn’t until ten minutes later that we reached the glistening lake, and Draco came around to my side of the car and opened the door for me once again. I gazed up at the magnificent white building. “Wow, it’s beautiful.” I whispered in awe. It was a beautifully vintage, with a marvellous garden and fountain. It was the kind of place you’d expect a Queen to live in.

Draco laughed and took my hand, leading me up to the front steps. The doors were open, and beyond them stood two waitresses. They smiled in greeting. “Welcome to Port Royal Restaurant,” the first one said. “Please come this way.”

I gazed around at the mansion until my eyes rested on my suit. “Why didn’t you tell me we were coming somewhere fancy? I could’ve dressed better.” I hissed, feeling redness come to my cheeks at my work clothes.

Amusement danced in Draco’s eyes. “You look fine. No one’s going to notice.” I understood his words when I entered the dining room to find no one was there. I gave Draco a confused sort of smile, before being led to the table and seated. Draco sat beside me, very close.

“Happy birthday, Hermione.” He said as soon as the waitresses had gone, leaving wine.

“You remembered!” I exclaimed giddily, smiling across at my boyfriend. I had pushed the date aside myself, figuring it slightly unimportant.

“How could I forget?” he said. “But what I don’t understand is why you didn’t tell me it was your birthday in the first place. Normally people do that.”

I sighed. “I didn’t want to make a fuss.”

“You could never make a fuss. It’s your birthday and you deserve to be fussed over.” Draco kissed me tenderly, placing his hand on my knee.

I giggled and gently clutched his neck with my hands. I pulled away awkwardly when the waitresses returned to take our order. Five minutes later, we were alone again, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the lavishly decorated banquet room.

“You didn’t have to go to all this trouble.” I said matter-of-factly, though I was happy that he had.

Draco took my hands in his and stroked my palms gently. “I did, because you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and you deserve a reward every once in a while.” He smiled lovingly, his blue-grey eyes powerful and brilliant.

I blushed. “I love you.” I pressed my lips against his and raked my fingers through his hair, smiling.

Draco pulled away. “There’s another reason I brought you here,” he stood to his feet, and immediately got down on one knee. The entire thing happened so fast that it took a while for me to register it in my brain. My breath caught in my throat. I hadn’t been expecting this. I didn’t know whether I could contain myself.

Oh Merlin, I thought, he’s really doing this. Oh Merlin.

Draco produced a small velvet box from his pocket. “Hermione –” he opened the box –“will you marry me?”

I blinked at him, traitor tears forming in my eyes. “I-I don’t know what to say.” I stammered, my voice barely a whisper.

Draco took the small diamond ring in one hand, and my left hand in the other. “Say yes.”

I was overcome with happiness, and I didn’t even hear myself say yes before I leapt into his arms and held onto him for dear life. Draco clutched my waist tightly as he kissed me passionately, lifting me a short way from the ground.

I felt hot tears sidle down my cheeks as he slipped the ring onto my finger, and I grinned lopsidedly as the diamond glistened in the soft lighting. Words couldn’t describe how incredibly happy I was. It was like a fairytale.

But my happiness was short-lived when my cell phone rang. Closing my eyes irritably, I let it ring, hoping it would stop soon. But it kept going, and in the end, I reluctantly pulled away from Draco and dug around my bag for my phone.

“Hello?” I answered, feeling guilty that Draco was now disappointedly seating himself again, taking a large sip of his wine. “Now isn’t a good time, Claudia. I’m in the middle of –” a pause –“Fine, I’ll be right in.” I slammed the damned cell phone shut.

I gave Draco a guilty look. He sighed, avoiding my eyes. “Go if you must.”

I felt my short-lived happiness ebb away at the tone of disappointment and frustration in his voice. I knelt beside him and placed either hand on his cheeks, forcing him to look at me. “I’m so happy, Draco. When I get back tonight, we’ll celebrate. I’ll be back soon, OK? I love you.”

He stared at me for several long moments before kissing me softly. “I know.”



A/N: Hi guys! Well, another story! I decided to delete Riddle of Revenge because it was going nowhere for me. Sorry! But I hope this one is better. I know that it will be for me.

And of course it's dedicated to the one and only MajiKat, because she has left me so many wonderful reviews and she is just made of the awesome. *hugs Maji* xD

I hope you enjoyed this first chapter. Please review! ^_^

Danielle xx


Chapter 2: Choices and Conclusions
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“What is it, Claudia?” I asked as I bustled into the office a minute later after apparating into a nearby alley from the restaurant. I felt incredibly guilty for deserting Draco after he just proposed to me, but I knew he understood. I wouldn’t have left him if this wasn’t important, and Claudia had assured me that it was worth coming into the office for.

Claudia quickly stood to her feet. “You got here quickly. Where were you?” She was surprised because, of course, she had no idea I as a witch. In fact, she had no knowledge whatsoever of the entire wizarding world or the wonders of magic. Sometimes it was a good thing, sometimes it was a bad thing (like when it came to questions like this).

I dismissed the issue with a wave of my hand. “Never mind that. If you wouldn’t mind, what’s so urgent that you had to pull me out of my lunch date?” I didn’t mean to sound annoyed but thinking of Draco, sitting alone in that restaurant made me feel guiltier than ever, and it was partly Claudia’s fault.

Claudia nodded, telling me she understood, no hard feelings. “Marcy called while you were out. There’s a big issue with Mars that Scott can’t seem to sort out.”

Mars was our counterpart magazine, dedicated to happenings in the world of males. Where Venus was dedicated to females, both magazines consisted of important issues and anything ranging from beauty to life problems. It was a wide variety, hence making them popular. Mars, based in America, sometimes struggled to keep up with the deadline due to Scott Price’s, the manager, lack of organisation.

I pressed the palm of my hand to my eye, exhaling deeply, fighting off the urge to go ballistic. It was thanks to a man that shouldn’t even be in the journalism business that I was pulled out of my date right after Draco had proposed to me. I didn’t need this right now. “And we wonder why he made it to the top in the first place.” I stated irritably.

Claudia nodded her head in agreement. “What do you want me to do about it? Put a reliable someone else on the job? At least that way we can keep on top of things. We all know Scott is hopeless.” She said that to be professional, I knew that, but I also knew that she had an almost school-girl-like crush on Scott. She would always blush when I mentioned his name, and she would grow all flustered whenever he called my office phone, which Claudia answered.

I shook my head. “I’ll write up some instructions and fax them to him.” I said wearily, dropping into the conference chair opposite Claudia’s desk. Claudia fell into her own chair, leaning back, watching me intently.

“You look slightly out of it.” She said straight up. I had known her for three years, ever since I started up the company, so it was safe to say we had become friends. Although she tended to be a bit nasty toward other people; she was racist and discriminated against a lot of my employees. She didn’t even realise she did it. But otherwise she was very nice and a good person to talk to. And she wasn’t afraid to tell me if there was something wrong. Sometimes it was good, sometimes, however, it was not. This was one of those times.

“I was just pulled out of a date in which Draco proposed to me all because Scott’s attention span isn’t long enough to run a magazine.” I snapped at her, not meaning to sound so harsh. Claudia winced at my tone.

“Wow, congratulations!” She said, genuinely happy for me, thankfully ignoring my attitude. Claudia didn’t know Draco that well, but she did know that he was otherwise incapable of using the telephone and that he occupied my thoughts all the time. She knew this because I was always too sidetracked to listen to what she had to say. “But I’m sorry I had to pull you out. My work’s been up to here –” she pointed at her neck –“and I didn’t know how you wanted this dealt with.”

I gave her a small smile to make up for my little outburst and I told her that I appreciated her help anyway.

“So when will the big day be?” Claudia asked, leaning forward on the desk in interest.

I laughed quietly. “I don’t know. He’d only just slipped the ring on my finger when I got your call.”

She cringed guiltily, but brushed it off. “I hope I’m invited!” She said with a small laugh.

“Of course. But I won’t be making any plans yet. I have to talk to Draco first. Speaking of which, I should get these instructions written up and then get home. Draco will be waiting for me.”

“I’ll hold your calls for you,” Claudia offered. “I’m just going to run this note down to the printing room so that I can order that paper you wanted.” She waved the message at me and I glimpsed figures and digits. Boring stuff.

I smiled my appreciation and heaved a sigh as she left the room. I bustled into my office, supposing I should get to work. The sooner I started, the sooner I would finish. I dropped down into the seat at my desk and glanced at my pen, thinking of where I should start.

*


An hour later, I apparated home (in the seclusion of the alley way around the corner from work, of course) to find the house rather quiet. There was a dirty pot on the counter and a chopping board, indicating Draco was home and had made lunch for himself.

I ventured out into the living room and was surprised to find the table laid with expensive china and a small feast, big enough for two. A candelabra in the middle of the table hosted three candles that shone dimly, casting a beautiful glow over the food. I suddenly felt hands on my arms and then giggled as Draco’s lips brushed against my neck. I turned in his arms and met his lips with my own.

“You’re too good for me.” I whispered as his arms went around me and we kissed each other hello.

Draco smiled against my lips. “I’m your fiancé. I’m allowed to be.” The word ‘fiancé’ sounded odd, especially because it was connected to me. But I found myself thinking I could get used to it. Draco stepped away and led me by the hand to the table he had set up for us. We sat opposite each other. The table was small enough so that our knees touched.

“This looks delicious. I knew you could cook, but this?” I couldn’t hide my awe.

Draco chuckled. “It’s from the restaurant. I didn’t know how much time I had to cook so I just brought our food back here.” He said, dishing out some vegetables and salad onto my plate. I smiled at him, suddenly feeling ravenous after seeing the marinated steak. At least he was honest about where it all came from.

We held hands across the table as we ate. Draco kept playing with the diamond ring on my finger. Whenever we looked at each other, we couldn’t help but grin. I was so happy that I wanted to just leap for joy. To think that this could happen to me. And especially with Draco Malfoy. I wondered what Ron and Harry would think if they saw me now.

I hadn’t talked to either of them since Graduation. We had all gone our separate ways. We’d kind of predicted it in our seventh year, though. We didn’t hang out as much as we used to. Harry had Ginny, Ron had Lavender, and in the end I had Draco. We sensed that we were growing apart and felt it was time, so we didn’t try to do anything about it. On the day the Hogwarts Express would take us for our last journey back to London, we still hugged and said our goodbyes. I didn’t cry, like I had anticipated I would. And the goodbyes seemed more final than temporary. That’s how I knew this was it.

Harry owled me about a month later, telling me he had been accepted to train as an Auror in France and that he was moving there with Ginny as soon as she had graduated. I wrote him back, saying congratulations and that I hoped it wouldn’t seem like too long a wait. He owled me a couple of times after that, updating me every three months or so. But our letters were never as in depth as they used to be. He finally dropped all contact with me a year later when Ginny graduated. I suspected it was because Harry thought all along that moving to France would be the final cut-off point of his past life.

Ron was the complete opposite. He never talked to me again, mainly because in our last week at Hogwarts, he asked me if I would go to Romania with him for a couple of months. I had known by the way he asked me that it was a date type of holiday. After I had turned him down for dates a few times over our sixth and seventh years, he was still hopeful I would agree to go out with him. I had told him thanks, but no thanks; I love you like a brother, nothing more. Sorry.

He hadn’t taken it too well. And even though he looked heavy and sad when we said our final goodbyes, he never once tried to contact me after that final Hogwarts Express journey.

It had been hard for me even though I had expected it, but I had moved on. A part of me ached for them, to have them as my best friends again, to be able to share anything with them. But another part of me was glad they weren’t my friends anymore. It gave me a chance to move on from my childhood, to really let go of the things that had been hard. And I knew they would not approve of my relationship with Draco.

“What did you need to go into the office for, anyway?” Draco asked once we had finished eating. He filled our wine glasses up again.

“Scott stuffed up Mars again.” I said with a heavy sigh.

Draco rolled his eyes irritably. “Why is that guy even managing it? He’s almost guaranteed to do something wrong every time.” He said, half joking, half serious.

I smiled a little. “He’s getting better.”

“I don’t even know why you’re defending the man.”

I rolled my eyes at him. Draco still had a bit of his old self inside of him. He got irritable easily, even at me, and when he didn’t like someone he made no effort to hide it. But he was trying to change, trying to be tolerant enough. Even though sometimes he didn’t make things better for himself.

“He’ll get the hang of it.” I said with a dismissive wave of my hand.

Draco nodded his head in understanding, observing me intently. “Just don’t do all the work for him. Trust me, men love a challenge.” He unnecessarily added with a smirk.

I raised my eyebrow. “Oh, and how does that involve you?”

He gave me a secretive smile, but didn’t reply. My thoughts wondered back to the time he first kissed me and how long it took for me to finally kiss him again, with meaning. I knew he was talking about getting through to me. All that time we had been friends, he had been wishing for something more. I had too, but I hadn’t wanted to admit it. Yet here we were now.

“What are you thinking about?” Draco asked me after I had been silent for a rather long time.

I smiled at him. “Just about how wonderful life is right now, how happy I am with you.” I squeezed his hand affectionately.

He grinned, turning the ring over and over on my finger. “Likewise.” He had never really been someone for words, but I knew he felt exactly the same. He didn’t need to say it directly.

We cleared up the dishes, and Draco, always loving a good play, attacked me with soap suds and attempted to whip me with the tea towel. We ended up covering the entire kitchen with bubbles. At least we got the dishes clean. We retreated to the lounge and fell backward onto the couch, still laughing from our little fight.

It was a given that we would end up spread out across the couch making out. It didn’t take long for our playful manner to dissolve and our lustful one to rise. Draco cupped my chin and turned me toward him, placing his other hand on my thigh. Our lips touched once, twice, three times, and by the fourth time he was on top of me, undoing my blouse, kissing me hard.

I was living in the moment. All thoughts of the company slipped from my mind and were replaced with my life ahead with Draco. Nothing could top how happy I was right now, how excited I was to truly start my life with Draco, to share his name, to have his children. I was ready to settle down, and Draco was the perfect man to do that with. And in that moment, I knew that letting go of Harry and Ron was a good thing. I could finally move on with my life and take the next step toward happiness without thinking of all the hassles that would’ve come with it if my former best friends found out I was getting married to their childhood archenemy.

I was assured things would be OK.

That was until Blaise Zabini walked into my life, or rather, apparated.



A/N: Well, I'm really excited about this fic still. The writing's been great. It's a real change from my usual Hogwarts-based stories. It's a relief not having to centre things around classes and whatnot. And having Hermione and Draco out of school makes things much easier relationship-wise.

And yes, I know! Cliffie! Sorry guys, but you know these are what I'm best for. But I promise you that you won't be disappointed with the later chapters. I'm planning to fill them with as much passion and lust as possible so that you won't know what hit you!

So please leave a review on your way out and let me know what you think. I hope you are will all enjoy Blaise/Hermione and start to write it yourselves. xD

Danielle xx


Chapter 3: Hatred and Hunger
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Neither of us were expecting his sudden appearance at all. He didn’t even knock on the door like a normal person, he merely apparated right into the lounge, right next to the couch on which Draco and I were fooling around. Things had just started to heat up, and if Blaise had arrived maybe a minute later, he would’ve seen us both stark naked. We pulled apart as soon as we heard the loud crack, my hand immediately buttoning up my shirt.

“Blaise?” Draco asked, glancing sideways at me before returning his wide eyes to his best friend from Hogwarts.

Blaise looked slightly embarrassed. He looked closely at me. I felt uncomfortable under his intent gaze. It was then that his wonderfully violet eyes widened in surprise and recognition. “Granger? Draco, you’re with… Granger?” He couldn’t seem to comprehend just what was going on.

Draco quickly stood to his feet, straightening his shirt, walking across to his friend. “Blaise, what are you doing here?”

Blaise shrugged his broad shoulders, his black hair falling into his eyes with the one graceful movement. He hadn’t changed much since I had last seen him at graduation. He had the same features but looked more mature and less-boyish. He was well-toned and taut. I could see the ripples of his muscles through his tight black shirt. It finally occurred to me that someone I barely knew was standing in the middle of my lounge. I too stood to my feet.

“I thought I’d come by and say hello. I didn’t expect you to have… company.” Blaise said to Draco, but his eyes remained on me. He looked me up and down when he said ‘company’, as if contemplating whether I was truly classified as company at all.

I scowled at him. Obviously Draco had not seen or talked to him since we got together.

Draco glanced back at me again, beckoning for me to come forward. I stopped at his side and he lifted my hand, showing Blaise the ring on my finger. It twinkled in the dim lighting of the lounge, which was in turn reflected in Blaise’s brilliant violet eyes.

“We’re getting married.” Draco said indignantly, not the least but embarrassed or hesitant about telling his Slytherin friend.

The shock in Blaise’s expression deepened. “How – when… why?” He couldn’t get his head around it. He looked away from us for a moment, as if thinking about how it could be possible that Draco was engaged to none other than Hermione Granger when we were down each others’ throats back at Hogwarts.

Draco told Blaise to sit down and went to fetch some tea. Blaise sank backward onto the couch on which Draco and I had just been on, looking slightly faint and indecisive. I contemplated getting the heck out of the room so I could talk to Draco about the sudden appearance of Blaise, but Blaise’s voice stopped me, “Why?”

I sighed, settling onto the couch closest to the television. Blaise wouldn’t look at me, the shock too great. I didn’t blame him. The last he remembered was Draco and I squaring each other off with wands in the dungeons outside Snape’s office after Draco called me a Mudblood slut. I winced at the memory, understanding how Blaise found it hard to believe we were engaged.

“He’s changed.” I said, and that was all I could think of. To be honest, I didn’t know why. All I knew was that he made me happy, and I loved him. It seemed surreal that Blaise Zabini was in my flat after three years of having nothing to do with each other. Not that we had had anything to do with each other beforehand.

I was grateful when Draco emerged right at that moment with a tray of three cups and a tea pot. He handed Blaise his, and Blaise took it with tentative hands. Draco seated himself next to me, snuggling close. I was surprised at his audacity. I would’ve thought he’d be embarrassed about being with the ‘Mudblood’ all Slytherins had hated at school. Blaise’s eyes shifted onto us and he stared at Draco’s hand entwined with mine. He blinked a few times.

“Draco…” he trailed off, at a loss of what to say and do.

Draco sighed. “Look, Blaise – before you say anything,” he leaned forward, closer to his friend, “I’m happy with my life at the moment. Can you please not question that? Can we just drop this?”

I smiled a little at his words. They were reassuring – not that I needed reassurance he loved me – and I knew he was serious about letting Blaise know how he felt.

Blaise stared at Draco for a while and both of them shared a silent conversation. After what seemed like hours of anticipation, Blaise finally leaned back on the couch, stretching out a bit. “So, how have you two been?” I was so happy that he had said ‘you two’ instead of just Draco that I didn’t mind his forced tone.

Draco grinned at his friend, relaxing slightly. “We’re been great. Hermione’s been living with me for two years now. We just got engaged today.” He said, squeezing my hand and giving me a proud smile. I grinned back.

Blaise watched us for a few silent moments before genuinely letting it go, understanding that Draco was serious. I noticed he was more relaxed about us because the conversation progressed into questions about our lives for the past two years. He even asked me where I worked and if it was what I wanted to be doing. Blaise then launched into a fully blown conversation about Draco and what he had else he had been doing. I loved the way Draco kept looking across at me to check if I was bored, squeezing my hand every now and then, and smiling at me. I didn’t care that Blaise overlooked this with less-then-pleased eyes.

My cell phone rang half an hour later when our untouched tea had gone cold. I rushed up to take it in the bedroom. It was only Claudia letting me know that Scott had received the fax and had worked out the issue. The deadline was back on schedule. I was about to go back out into the lounge when I heard Blaise’s hushed, urgent voice.

“What do you think you’re doing with Granger, man? Have you gone mad?”

My mouth opened in shock. I pressed my ear against the door and listened intently to Draco’s reply.

“What I’m doing is starting a life with the woman I love.” He retorted rather irritably.

“But it’s Granger! The girl you used to tease in school, the one you thought too filthy to go within a five metre radius of!” Blaise said, as if none of it made sense. It obviously didn’t to him, but couldn’t he see we were happy? I was angry that he was questioning it. What the hell did he care? That was back at school, in the past. Both Draco and I had grown out of it. Obviously Blaise was still immature.

As if Draco had read my thoughts, he indignantly said, “Grow up, Blaise. That stuff is in the past. It was very immature of me.” I could picture him folding his arms across his chest.

“But Draco –”

“No buts, Blaise. I’ve spent just over two years getting to know her, and she’s nothing like we thought she was. I’ve realised blood doesn’t matter. She’s the first person I’ve fallen in love with, and I’m glad. If you can’t live with that, you don’t deserve to have a part in my life.” Draco hissed. My heart swelled with love at his words. Merlin, he was so sweet.

I finally decided I should interrupt before Blaise had a chance to go further and possibly hurt mine or Draco’s feelings. I pushed open the door and breezed into the lounge. Both heads shot up and they smiled at me as if the conversation had never taken place. I smiled back at them, walking right up to Draco and planting a kiss on his lips to show Blaise that I was serious about our relationship too. And to piss him off.

“It was just Claudia. Work stuff.” I said, settling back onto the couch again. Draco threw a warning glance at Blaise before sitting next to me and taking my hand again.

Blaise uncomfortably took residence on the couch opposite us again.

“So, why are you here?” Draco asked for the sake of moving the conversation along.

“Like I said, I wanted to see how you were doing. I haven’t seen you since that week after graduation.” Blaise answered with a slight irritated tone to his voice. I glared at him, already hating him for the conversation that I had overheard. He may have changed physically, but mentally he was still the ignorant, immature prat I remembered from school.

“Where have you been?” Draco asked, waving his wand over the tea to warm it up again. He handed me a cup and I took it gratefully. I found myself feeling glad that Draco was doing all these things for me. He obviously didn’t realise he was looking out for me a lot, making sure it was warm enough in the flat or absently massaging my feet when I had complained (without the intention of receiving a massage) that they were sore. Blaise watched us intently, though the disgusted look on his face was no longer there, merely an expression of confusion.

Blaise coughed, seemingly snapping himself out of his thoughts. “You know, here and there. You remember I went to America the night after I saw you last? Yeah, well I’ve been there since. Frankly, I didn’t want to leave. It sure beats dingy old London.” He finished with a scowl.

Draco chuckled. “You only hate London because you grew up here.” He pointed out matter-of-factly.

Blaise dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “I got to bury my Mum and Dad’s ashes there. They always said they wanted to go to America, so I gave them their chance.” He smiled faintly although sadness filled his eyes.

I frowned. “Your parents are dead?” I didn’t mean to sound so blunt; I was a little shocked. I hadn’t thought much about Blaise’s life, so naturally I didn’t think about his parents. And to hear about them for the first time only to find they are dead came as a bit of a surprise. How did Blaise handle it so well? I knew I would be miserable for the rest of my life if my parents died.

Blaise nodded, switching his eyes onto mine. I felt them boring into me, as if he were trying to delve into my mind and figure me out. I shifted uncomfortably. “They were killed right before graduation. Portkey mishap” He said it so casually, but I could hint the raw pain in his tone. He was still getting over it after all these years.

And for the first time since I had hated him today, I felt sympathetic and sorry for him. Pity washed over me as I watched him fighting off the pain, his violet eyes wide and vulnerable. I glanced at Draco and the same pain-ridden expression rested on his face, though it was felt for his friend.

“You’re OK, mate.” Draco said, causing Blaise’s expression to return to normal as if he could forget it just like that.

I relaxed a bit, though I still couldn’t help feeling sorry for Blaise. I mentally kicked myself for asking if they were dead.

Draco checked his watch. “Shit!” he cursed, standing to his feet. “Hermione, I have to go. Raul wants me to drop by round about now.”

“What? You didn’t tell me!” I said, helplessly glancing at Blaise. I knew that Draco would insist for him to stay and keep me company. I did not want to be left alone with him!

Draco leaned down and gave me a quick kiss. “I’m sorry, Hermione. It slipped my mind. Blaise will stay here so you have someone to talk to. But I really must go.” He nodded at Blaise and before I could protest his leaving, Draco popped out of the room with a loud crack. I was left staring at the spot in which he had been standing just seconds ago.

My mind was racing. Blaise hated me. Who knew what he would do? Sure, he was Draco’s best friend, but I didn’t know whether he cared enough about Draco to care if he hurt me. I had remembered Blaise (though vaguely) being slightly sadistic. What if he hexed me, or sent me somewhere I couldn’t escape from? Sure he wouldn’t do that – would he?

My eyes snapped onto him to find his brilliant violet ones staring straight back at me. My stomach jolted at the look in them. He wasn’t angry, jealous or disgusted. He actually looked slightly torn. He looked as though he wanted to scream, but at the same time was longing for something. I couldn’t figure it out and it frustrated me to have him staring at me so boldly. I cleared my throat and shifted in my seat, hoping I would snap him out of whatever trance he was in.

He stood to his feet, glancing around the room. He wandered over to the bookcase where I kept all the books I had kept from school, and some that I had collected over the years. His eyes roamed the titles until he picked out a particularly large green leather-bound book and took it off the shelf. I was immediately on my feet and rushed over to him, carefully taking the book out of his hands.

“Don’t touch that, it was my grandmother’s.” I snapped, returning the old book to the shelf. Blaise’s eyes were on me again and I exhaled uncomfortably, avoiding looking at him directly. Instead, I swept off a bit of dust that had gathered on one particular shelf, cautiously stepping around Blaise to get to the other end.

But his hand on my wrist stopped me, and I spun around to face him, shocked. I expected to see fury in his eyes, but instead I saw that same longing I had noted before. I glanced down at his loose but unforgiving grip on my arm, and then back to his face.

“Do you have any idea how much it hurts me to see you with Draco?” He asked me, his voice quiet, husky and, dare I say it, sexy.

I swallowed nervously. “Look, I know you don’t like the fact that Draco’s engaged to me, but that Mudblood and Gryffindor stuff is all in the past. Draco’s moved on.” My voice was a mere croak in my fear.

Blaise’s expression didn’t change. He suddenly leaned in close and my breath caught in my throat as his face, so close to mine I could feel the heat radiating from him, was right next to my cheek. “I’m not talking about that.” He whispered in my ear, his hot breath sending shivers down my spine. He moved his head sideways and pressed his forehead against mine.

And then the unexpected happened.

His mouth brushed gently against mine, his lips soft and tender. My eyes widened in shock and I ordered myself to push him away and apparate to Draco as fast as I could. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and as he kissed me over and over with an urgency I had never experienced before, my mind completely detached itself from me, and my body took over.



A/N: Another chapter done and dusted! I realise that things might be a little rushed right here. But before you bombard me with comments about it being not believable and yada yada, please understand that I am the one writing this story, and that there is an incredibly solid, plausible reason as to why he's kissing her when they've only just seen each other for the first time in years.

And just so you know, this is where things start getting better. I understand a lot of you were impatient with the first two chapters because they didn't involve any Blaise/Hermione. I hope you understand that Chapter One and Two were setting the scene. I wanted people to have an idea of the intimate relationship between Draco and Hermione for later on in the story.

I hope those things have been cleared up. Otherwise, I hope you all enjoyed reading this and that you'll give me feedback on the good and the bad. Thanks, guys! ^_^

Danielle xx


Chapter 4: Culpability and Confessions
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“Zabini, stop…” I murmured against Blaise’s lips as he guided me toward the couch. Even if I wanted to push him away, he was far too strong for me. Any attempts would prove to be useless. I was torn between wanting to stop because it was wrong, and wanting to keep kissing him. Where had this all come from? Moments ago I had possibly loathed the man, and now I was actually being kissed by him and –I wanted it?

No, I told myself firmly, you don’t want this. You love Draco. You have no desire to kiss Zabini. He means nothing to you.

Even as I silently assured myself this was true, I knew it was not. I loved Draco, yes, but I had a desire to kiss Blaise. But why?

Blaise’s hand rested at the back of my neck as he lowered me onto the couch. I gave a whimper of protest, but it wasn’t loud enough. And I didn’t want it to be loud enough. I wanted to trick myself into thinking that I wanted this to stop. But I knew that I didn’t.

“Zabini…” I murmured anyway as he slipped his hand up my shirt, completely caught up in the moment. He groaned and slowly, reluctantly detached himself from me, holding himself up above me. He gazed down at me, urgency and hunger in his eyes. “What are you doing?” I whispered, unable to find my voice. My lips suddenly felt numb without his touch.

His eyes widened, as if he just realised what was going on. He quickly pulled himself off me and sunk onto the end of the couch, staring at the opposite wall with his mouth wide open. I pulled down my shirt and stared at him, confused. I still found it hard to believe he had kissed me.

“I’m so sorry,” he muttered sullenly, his swollen lips barely moving.

I touched my own swollen lips, his taste still there. “But – why?” I asked, my voice almost at breaking point. All I could think about was Blaise’s kiss, the urgency behind it, the passion. And then Draco came into my mind once again and I felt a pang of guilt.

Blaise sighed, avoiding my eyes. “I shouldn’t have kissed you, Granger. It was wrong… Shit, I couldn’t help it!” He laid his head in his hands, his temples tensing.

I daringly moved closer to him. He cautiously looked sideways at me, his wide violet eyes warning me to stay back. I ignored his silent plead and stopped next to him, our thighs touching. I hadn’t meant to do this, but for some reason I was rooted to the spot. I couldn’t move away. Blaise seemed aware of our proximity too because he froze, the muscles in his thighs tensing too.

“Zabini?” I prompted, placing my hand on his arm. He suddenly pulled away, pain in his eyes. I was about to rectify my audacity when I heard a sickening ‘pop’ and Blaise disappeared from my side. I sat in a daze, staring at the spot on the couch where he had sat seconds before. I blinked. “Zabini?” I said again, just in case my eyes were deceiving me.

Just then I heard another pop by the front door and jumped up, hoping to see Blaise again. But it was Draco and his eyes widened when he saw me. He crossed the room and enveloped me in his arms, crushing me against his chest. “I’m so sorry about leaving you like that.” He whispered, kissing my forehead tenderly.

I was so confused that I didn’t respond. Thankfully Draco didn’t notice this as he pulled away and looked at me. He smiled down at me before his eyes scanned the room. “Where’s Blaise?”

The words caught in my throat. I struggled to talk. “Um… he’s, er – he left. He had some business to attend to.” It all came spilling out before I had a chance to think properly. I mentally hit myself for sounding like such a blundering idiot. At least the reason was plausible enough.

Draco frowned. “But he’d only just got here.”

I nodded. “Yeah, well…” I trailed off.

Draco shrugged his broad shoulders. “Oh well. I hope he comes back. We didn’t have the chance to entirely catch up.” He said, sweeping a bang of blonde hair out of his eyes.

I felt sick just looking at him, knowing what I had just done with his best friend. I wanted to throw up, to hurt myself for doing so wrong. I wondered whether Draco suspected anything. I prayed to Merlin that he didn’t. I didn’t know what I would do.

Draco bowed out to the shower, leaving me in the living room to mull over what had just happened. I had meant to pull away. I had told myself over and over again that it was wrong. Yet I couldn’t seem to tear myself away, to stop the infidelity. And Blaise hadn’t been so keen to stop either. But I would never forget the look in his eyes, the pain, the longing, the hunger. It scared me but at the same time it intrigued me.

I thought about our time at Hogwarts. He had never so much as looked at me back then. He never made any effort to mock me either like all the other Slytherins. So why the hell had he kissed me? Why had he told me that it hurt him to see me with Draco?

But the biggest and hardest question of all was:

Why did I kiss him back?

*


“Miss Granger, you’re in early,” Claudia commented the next day as she bustled into the office at eight o’clock. She placed her things on her desk and ventured through my wide-open office door. She dropped into one of the chairs opposite my desk.

I sighed wearily, rubbing my eyes with the backs of my hands. “I thought I’d proof read some of these reports before there was a chance for any interruptions.” I lied, giving her a pointed look and she blushed, ashamed.

“Sorry. I’ll just leave you to it then.” I smiled thankfully at her as she bowed out, closing the office door behind her.

I leaned back on my chair, gazing up at the semi-high ceiling. The truth was, I wasn’t in here early to proofread. Reports had been the last thing on my mind when I had made my way here this morning. I hadn’t been able to sleep so I had slipped out of the house unnoticed at six o’clock, leaving Draco alone in our rather large bed. I felt guilty for not leaving a note even though I knew he’d know where I was when he woke up.

Things had been rather awkward last night. By the time Draco had finished in the shower, he had come out to find me already in bed and pretending to be asleep. I knew he must’ve been confused as it had only been nine o’clock. He knew full well I was not one to go to bed early. But he had climbed into bed nevertheless in merely his boxers and put his arm around me where he fell asleep rather quickly. I had tensed up, unmoving for around an hour. Knowing that he could possibly find out what I had done killed me inside.

When I was sure he was asleep, I had climbed out from under his loose grip around my waist and spent the rest of the night on the couch, staring at the wall, unable to fall asleep. Guilt had encased me. It was suffocating me, pushing in on my body, wrapping itself around my veins. I couldn’t even think about Blaise without hating myself.

But I couldn’t help it. Blaise had occupied most of my thoughts since it all happened last night. That look in his eyes, his hold on my arms, his touch, the feel of his lips on mine. I couldn’t shake it all from my head. And the thought that made me feel the guiltiest was the fact that I wanted to do it all again. And, shockingly, I wanted to go further.

It had reached the point where I had started to cry and by the time four-thirty had rolled around I was a big emotional mess. It was then that I knew I couldn’t stand being in this flat, sleeping (or trying to) on the very couch where I had committed the crime. I had taken an hour long bath and found myself in the office, occupying myself with editing. I gave myself the excuse that I was only doing this because the deadline was in a week, but I knew I was only kidding myself.

I heard a knock on my office door around ten minutes later and Claudia peered around. “Miss Granger, there’s a man here to see you.” She said before slipping back out again.

I instantly thought Draco and quickly checked myself to see if I looked anything out of the ordinary before I ventured out into the main building. I froze in mid-stride when I saw Blaise standing opposite Claudia’s desk. His violet eyes pierced into me and a sudden wave of pain washed over me, coming from him. I tilted my head sideways, unspeaking. Blaise nodded at Claudia in thanks and pointed me toward my office, obviously wanting to speak in private. Like a robot, I lead him in and snapped the door shut behind me.

Blaise looked around and I guiltily noted he was wearing black jeans and a tight black shirt that accentuated his more-than-appealing muscles. “So you’re the manager of the oh-so-famous Venus magazine.” It wasn’t a question, rather an observation. He seemed impressed.

I cleared my throat tentatively, causing him to turn and face me. If he felt guilty at all, he was hiding it extremely well.

“I thought you’d become an Auror or something. This is not what I expected.” He indicated the rather fancy office around him. His eyes suddenly landed on a small pin board I had dedicated to photos of Draco and I. I suddenly hated myself for having them up there. But Blaise’s eyes didn’t seem to linger there for long. He finally brought them back to me and I felt shivers run down my spine.

“Why are you here?” I asked hesitantly, managing to steady my voice enough to talk.

Blaise sighed and took a step closer to me. I knew I should take a step away from him but my feet remained rooted to the spot, disobedient.

“Granger –” he stopped himself and cleared his throat –“Hermione, I came by to talk about what happened last night.” He went no further, obviously wishing for me to elaborate for him. But my mouth would not open however much I willed it to. Blaise took this as a cue to continue on his own. “I just wanted to say that I’m sorry if I ruined anything between you and Draco.”

And that was enough to get me off. I could feel the anger rising within me, instantly boiling my blood. “You’re sorry if you ruined anything between me and Draco?!” I repeated, almost shouting at him. “Are you sorry that you kissed me even when it was completely out of line? Are you sorry that no matter how many times I told you to stop, you persisted?!”

Blaise remained calm and collected, watching me inhale and exhale furiously. He waited a few moments before saying, “No.”

I stared at him, unblinking, shock running through my brain. I couldn’t even begin to comprehend what he had said. “How – what?!” I screeched.

Blaise took another step toward me and took my shoulders in his strong grip. I almost fainted, having thought about nothing but his touch all night. “Hermione, I know what I did was wrong, but I don’t at all feel sorry for doing it.” He guided me toward the chair and sat me down, pulling up another chair and sitting directly opposite me.

I blinked at him, still too shocked to form coherent thoughts in my head.

He sighed, taking my hands in his. I noted mine were smaller and his large ones managed to smother them. I shook this thought from my head, surprised at myself for thinking such things when there were more pressing matters at hand. Hand… I almost giggled, surprising myself again.

“It’s taken me a lot of courage to come in here and tell you this,” Blaise continued, looking directly into my eyes. “You see, I’ve wanted to kiss you since our seventh year.”

I retracted my hands, taken aback.

Blaise seemed to laugh at the silliness of it all. “I know, shocking right? But I couldn’t help it. I honestly don’t know what brought it on. No matter how many times I told myself I was just being an idiot, I couldn’t fool myself. I wanted you with a passion. But I knew I couldn’t act on it because of our obvious house differences.” He paused, turning his head to look out the window, no longer able to look at me. “I thought I had rid myself of those feelings after graduation. I was doing well, too. But when I apparated into Draco’s flat yesterday after not having seen him in years, I was shocked to see you there. All those feelings came rushing back and when Draco left me alone with you, the desire overpowered me. I couldn’t help it.” He seemed troubled by his own words.

I was still too shocked to speak. I had not expected an entire spill-out from the former Slytherin. I had only thought he kissed me for the sheer hell of it. But to hear he had desires for me… It was hard to comprehend.

“Blaise…” I trailed off, not knowing what to say. Was I flattered? Disgusted? Overjoyed? I couldn’t tell.

Blaise turned to me. He gazed into my eyes once again and something seemed to trigger inside of him. I saw that pain and hunger in his eyes again, and knew instantly I should get away from him. But once again my feet would not move.

“So no, I’m not sorry for kissing you Hermione.” Blaise whispered. And without warning he leaned in close, his face so close to mine that I could feel his breathing, feel the heat radiating from him once again. I looked into his eyes, his brilliant violet eyes, the ones I could not remove from my mind since last night, the ones that would torture me forevermore. The ones I would always see when I thought about cheating on Draco.

Blaise placed his hand on the back of my neck and I was surprised by his audacity, but more by the warmth it brought to me. “And I think I might do it again.” He whispered, and before I could react his lips brushed against mine.

I closed my eyes, once again torn between doing the right thing and doing what my body wanted. But it was as if the connections from my brain to my joints had been severed and I could not control my body. As Blaise’s lips crashed down onto mine with more urgency, I wrapped my arms around his neck without the intention. It was then that I knew I could never go back and erase what I was doing.

And a part of me didn’t want to.




A/N: I have some excellent news. And I mean EXCELLENT. I'm finally a trusted author!! xD I'm so happy I could dance! *dances* Haha, I'm so glad it's happened. I was waiting for so long. It's so awesome! But just so you know: I may be able to submit chapters right away, but that doesn't mean you guys can get impatient and constantly pester me about updating. That is my only 'icky' point.

Anyway, back to the story. Again, I know this is rather rushed but as I said before it is meant to happen like this. So it's supposed to be rushed. It's for a reason. Get it? Got it? Good. ^_^

Please read and review! I love reading your comments. xD

Danielle xx


Chapter 5: Realisations and Reunions
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“Hey, I didn’t realise you were here.” Draco announced from the door of the kitchen as I made myself a cup of coffee.

I looked up at him, startled. “Hmm yeah, I just got back a minute ago.” I replied, looking back down at the steaming hot liquid I was stirring around in the mug. It had been seven hours since my encounter with Blaise at my office and I had thought about absolutely nothing else since. Just returning home had been a tremendous effort for me; having to see Draco when I knew what I had done was wrong made me feel overcome with guilt.

Draco crossed the small kitchen and wrapped his arms around me, nuzzling into my neck. I closed my eyes, loving his scent, but feeling sick from his touch. I wished I could hold him without feeling guilty. This entire thing had become a mess so quickly. I was scared about what might happen. Would Draco find out what I had done?

I hadn’t made a decision about Blaise and me yet. I barely knew him yet my feelings for him seemed so strong. But it made me wonder what I really felt about him. It was mainly lust; I knew that much. But there was more to it that I couldn’t quite comprehend. Hearing his desire for me dated back to our seventh year had thrown me off track. I was confused about what I really wanted.

It also made me think about just how much I really did love Draco. If I was seriously debating being with Blaise, it didn’t mean much to my relationship with Draco.

“You left early this morning. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.” Draco said against my hair, his breath hot on my neck.

I sighed softly, letting the spoon drop into the mug. “I had to fix up one more thing with Scott and Mars. I wanted to get it done before the office filled up.” I lied, the guilt weighing down on me when I thought about Blaise’s lips on mine, his hands in my hair, my body pressed up against his. Shivers ran down my spine as an image of his violet eyes flashed across my vision. “Sorry.” I added to Draco.

Draco nodded. “It’s OK. I missed you, that’s all.”

“I missed you too.” As the words left my mouth, I knew they were true. Despite how whacked up my feelings were right now, I still loved Draco. At least I was certain about one thing. But I still had to sort out this entire issue with his best friend.

Draco moved around and kissed my lips softly. A rugged breath escaped my mouth as it usually did, and I didn’t doubt for one minute that I was confused about my feelings for Draco. They were real. Our relationship was real. I was comforted a little by this.

Without hesitation, I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around him, giving myself wholeheartedly to him. All thoughts of my coffee slipped from my mind. He slipped his tongue into my mouth and my heart skipped several beats. He held me to him, crushing my body against his. I felt his warmth all over me and my guilt left me for the first time since yesterday. I felt slightly normal.

After long moments of being tangled in each other’s arms, we pulled away and I resumed stirring my coffee as if everything were normal. Draco pulled down a glass and filled it to the top with water, taking a rather large swig.

“Oh,” he said as if just remembering something, “I thought we could go out for dinner with Blaise tonight seeing as we didn’t really have a chance to catch up properly yesterday.”

I choked on my coffee as I took a sip after hearing Blaise’s name and dinner strewn together in the same sentence. I coughed a bit, spluttering out the hot liquid, rounding on Draco. He looked at me, concerned.

“Huh?” I demanded, my throat sore and my tongue burnt.

Draco inclined his head sideways after assessing that I was OK. “What, you don’t want to?” He asked, confusion written across his face.

My mind raced. “It’s just… I hardly know him. We weren’t really best of friends at Hogwarts.” I quickly said to cover up my little outburst.

“That’s exactly why we should go. It’ll give you a chance to get to know him.” He said, relentless. Just like his old self.

I furrowed my eyebrows helplessly. I did not want to be in a situation with Blaise and Draco at the same table with me. It was hard to imagine. It would be so awkward. I didn’t want to think about it.

“Do you think it’s really a good idea? I mean, Blaise has made no efforts to be nice to me.” I couldn’t seem to think of enough excuses as to why I couldn’t go to dinner tonight.

“I’ll tell him to be nice. You’re a part of my life now and if he can’t respect that, then…” he didn’t finish his sentence. I knew exactly why.

I sighed, running a hasty hand through my hair. “I don’t know, Draco.”

“Hermione, please; just this once. If it doesn’t work out, I won’t make you see him again.” Draco promised, taking my hands in and squeezing them pleadingly.

I considered him for a moment. Draco thought I hated Blaise so therefore he didn’t exactly expect me to talk to him. I would be too embarrassed to talk to him anyway. I could work this to my advantage; I could avoid awkward conversation and keep Draco happy at the same time. I sighed, having no other choice.

“OK.” I said, squeezing his hands back.

He grinned at me and gave me a quick peck on the lips. “Thank you, Hermione. I love you.” I knew he was just sucking up to me, but I didn’t mind it. I grinned back and gave him a brief hug, knowing my happiness would be short lived when I would have to see Blaise again.

*


The restaurant was much less crowded than I had expected. Draco held my arm as he led me through the tables to our booth. I slid in, followed by him, and we sat in silence waiting for Blaise to arrive. Draco picked up the menu a couple of times and set it back down again, not really reading it. I could tell he was a little on edge. I knew he was nervous about seeing Blaise again, about seeing how he would react now that he had had time to cool off.

It was odd, really. Draco was worried about Blaise not accepting our engagement, but for completely different reasons than the ones I knew to be true. He was expecting Blaise to disapprove of our engagement because I was not the ‘ideal’ bride. But I knew Blaise disapproved because he wanted me for himself.

I glanced down at my engagement ring; the diamond caught the soft lighting on the lamp alongside the table, accentuating its importance. My stomach churned with guilt and I glanced across at Draco. He was nervously tapping his fingers on the table. I felt so sorry for him.

It was then that Blaise arrived, his black hair slightly whipped from the outside wind. He cast aside his coat and slid into the booth on Draco’s side, avoiding my eyes.

“Hi, mate.” Draco said, clamping Blaise’s back encouragingly.

Blaise smiled back at him. “Wotcher. Thanks for the invite. My cupboards are stark empty.” His violet eyes remained on Draco the entire time.

“No problem. I thought you and Hermione could get acquainted.” Draco offered.

Blaise’s eyes switched onto me and I could feel their violet brilliance piercing into my forehead. I did not look up from my menu no matter how much I wanted to. I could not bear to look him directly in the eyes for fear of doing something that I would later regret.

Draco must’ve sensed my hesitance because he slipped his arm around my waist and leaned in close. I instantly froze, but relaxed when he whispered into my ear, “It’s OK; I told him to play nice.”

He didn’t remove his arm as he straightened up.

I forced my eyes up and connected gaze with Blaise. My heart skipped several beats as he winked at me. Oh, the audacity of the bastard! I glared at him, my old self pushing through. I grew up hating Slytherins and my old habits were hard to dispose of. No matter how much I lusted after Blaise, I was not going to take his crap.

Draco rubbed my back and I looked at him. He gave me a gentle warning look and I softened my features for his sake. But I didn’t look at Blaise again, staring at the menu as hard as I could until my eyes hurt.

It was safe to say that the night went OK. Draco and Blaise shared an easy conversation, including me every now and then, but mainly catching up after so many years apart. I was quite contented to watch from the sidelines. I took this as my chance to study Blaise, to delve deeper into his personality. I figured it would help my confusion. But if anything, it confused me more. He was an incredible man, from the sound of it.

Draco kept bringing up how Blaise was the ‘sissy’ of the Slytherins. When they would play pranks on other students, Blaise would stay out of everything. And he was a good student too, always doing his homework and never giving the teachers a reason to dislike him. And I also gathered that Blaise was extremely caring by the way he talked about his childhood and such. He was also dead witty. I found it hard to restrain my giggles when he cracked his hilarious jokes.

But then he had his downsides. He was insensitive and arrogant, and his ego was just as big as Draco’s. I cringed whenever he displayed one of these traits. It was hard to watch.

By the end of the evening, I had done enough observing to know that Blaise was just as Slytherin as the rest of them in his own way. But my lust was not swayed, and neither was my confusion.

Draco excused himself from the table to go the bathroom before we left, leaving me alone in the secluded booth with Blaise. I tried to avoid his gaze, but found that it was drawn to his. We had a staring contest; I kept expecting Blaise to grow tired and look away, but he would not relent. Two could play at that game.

“So, have you had fun, Granger?” He smirked.

He may have spilled his guts to me just this morning, but he was already back to his old self. I rolled my eyes (without breaking eye contact, of course).

“Sure. Listening to you ramble on about yourself is definitely my idea of fun.” I drawled sarcastically. Wow, I thought when I noticed my tone of voice, I’ve been hanging around Draco too much.

Blaise’s smirk widened. “I would’ve thought you’d like listening to my voice. It does turn you on, after all.” He raised his eyebrows suggestively.

I groaned in disgust, but this was of course to hide my real reaction to his suggestion. It was true. Another thing I had gathered in the hour or so that I had listened to Blaise was that he had the sexiest voice I had ever heard. It was deep, husky, and highly alluring. This had not helped in my decision-making of my feelings.

Blaise chuckled. He then slid over in the seat so that his thigh was touching mine. I tensed up, tearing my gaze away from his to swallow nervously. I felt his fingers under my chin and that was when every bad thing I had observed about him tonight was forgotten. He turned me to face him and I swallowed again.

“Zabini, no… not here. Draco’s due back any –”

“Shhh,” he whispered. He leaned in close so that I could feel his breath on my mouth for the third time since yesterday. “We should make it quick then.”

He brushed his lips against mine and my mind melted away yet again. This time I did not think; I kissed him back right away, urgency sparking through me, running my hands through his soft wind-swept hair. I exhaled deeply, sighing in contentment, my body taking over once again.

Before I was ready to stop, Blaise pulled away and fixed his hair, moving away from me to the position in which he was situated before. I exhaled deeply, wiping his taste from my lips as I saw Draco exit the bathroom and make his way over to our table. I smiled at him as he approached, and he returned the gesture.

“Ready to leave?” He asked, extending his hand to help me out of the booth.

I quickly glanced over at Blaise to see his irritating smirk before gladly taking Draco’s hand. “Am I ever.” I glared at Blaise as Draco bid him goodnight.



A/N: OK, so I just happened to have a lot of spare time on my hands today, hence why this was written so quickly. But don't get used to it! *winks*

Please leave a review! ^_^

Danielle xx


Chapter 6: Surprises and Surrender
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As soon as we arrived home, Draco thanked me for making such an effort to be civil toward Blaise. I smiled wearily at him, hiding the real reason I had managed to be so nice. Besides the fact that I barely said a word, of course. Draco also told me that I deserved a reward for behaving so ‘smashingly’.

I had definitely not expected the next turn of events. As if a light had been switched on inside of him, Draco seized me up and carried me to our bedroom where he shed my clothes faster than any other time before. I merely stared at him the entire time, a shocked expression on my face. It was only when he began to greedily kiss me that I responded, wrapping my arms around him.

It was hard to believe that just last night this would’ve been normal and I wouldn’t have been so afraid to act upon it. But one small confession (from a view of the bigger picture, it was small) from Blaise had managed to change everything dramatically. I now felt sick whenever Draco kissed me. But what made me even sicker was the fact that I did not feel sick when Blaise kissed me.

We made love and that was it. Draco fell asleep in my arms, thinking everything was fine. I stayed awake most of the night feeling like shit, unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling. I tried to ignore the guilt, but it had encased me with no mercy. What was I to do?

*


I finished up at work slightly later than usual the next day. I whipped a strand of hair from my eyes as I cleared up my office, getting ready to return home. I had been on the verge of falling asleep for the entire day, getting hardly any work done as I had been preoccupied with my thoughts. All my encounters with Blaise were finally catching up to me and I did not like it one bit.

I exited the main office building and entered my usual ‘apparating alleyway’. Seconds later I was standing in the middle of my spotless kitchen. I dumped my things on the counter and was about to walk out into the lounge when voices drifted through to me. I frowned. There had to be around twenty people in my flat. I pushed the door open to find that I was right. All my friends were here… and Draco was amidst them.

He noticed me and said, “Here she is!”

The entire room turned to face me and they all burst out in a “Surprise!”

Shocked, I walked forward into Draco’s outstretched hands and allowed him to hug me, gazing at everyone in the room. A lot of my work colleagues were situated in the middle of my lounge; Claudia was beaming at me from the couch and next to her was Jimmy from the cell block next to hers. I noticed three of my Editor In Chiefs and several other columnists. The other group were the women from my gym that I had become close to.

I grinned goofily at everyone. “Wow, what a surprise.” I said, unable to figure out just why they were all here.

As if he had heard my thoughts, Draco said, “A late birthday party for you. I hope you didn’t have any plans tonight.”

“I didn’t have any plans.” I said, smiling at him and pecking him on the lips quickly. I didn’t at the time realise that was exactly what I had been too guilty to do for the past few days. He nodded at me to go socialise. I accepted a glass of wine from him and went over to mingle with the women from my gym. I was quickly whisked away into usual conversation and gossip.

I was glad that Draco had thrown this for me. It had been extremely considerate of him. I appreciated his efforts. And he had picked the right people too. It showed just how much he knew me. My guilt grew heavier at this thought but I pushed it away, determined to have a good time. I knew that I loved Draco so why was I agonising so much over a few kisses with his best friend that meant barely anything to me?

I was having a good time until the door to the kitchen opened around half an hour later and a flushed-looking Blaise entered the lounge, his eyes glancing around the room. They landed on me and I froze, a groan already escaping my mouth. What the hell was he doing at my party? He was the last person on earth that I wanted to see at this moment. I could not believe this was happening.

I excused myself from my friends and quickly made my way over to Draco before Blaise could. “Why is Zabini here?” I hissed at him after dragging him away from Claudia and Jimmy.

Draco frowned at me. “I thought you would be OK with it. You two were getting along fine last night.”

I sighed irritably, fisting my hair. “We didn’t even talk, Draco. How can we fight if we don’t talk? I don’t want him here.” I told him sternly, adamant to get Blaise away from my apartment before he had any urges to do something else to me. I was afraid that I would not be able to stop myself from pouncing on him either. That was how complicated my feelings were.

Draco’s eyes narrowed and his forehead creased. I had made him angry. “Hermione, I’ve done so much for you. The least you could do is get along with my best friend. I’m not asking for you to suddenly love him like a brother. I just want you to be civil.” He said hotly.

I placed my hands on my hips, my expression matching Draco’s stony one. “I will not be civil to that arrogant pathetic-excuse-for-a-man git!” I hissed at him, making certain to keep my tone down so as not to attract unwanted attention from my friends.

Draco’s hands suddenly gripped my arms, startling me. “Blaise is staying, Hermione. If you don’t like it, tough!” He growled under his breath.

I stared at him for a few brief moments, shock and betrayal written all over my face. Sticking out my chin at him, I wrenched my arms out of his grip and stormed from the room, slamming the door to our bedroom shut behind me. I fell forward onto our bed and screamed into the pillow, releasing my anger.

I was pissed, more than pissed. How dare Draco talk to me like that? He should’ve respected that I did not feel comfortable around Blaise. How could he not understand that I did not want him around? I turned over onto my stomach once I was sure I had screamed enough and stared up at the ceiling with tears of frustration brewing in my eyes.

The door suddenly opened and I jumped as Blaise poked his head in. His eyes scanned the room and came to a rest on me. He frowned, stepping into the bedroom and softly snapping the door shut behind him. I looked away as he came and sat next to me on the bed, his eyes filled with concern. “Hermione?” He asked, placing his hand on my knee.

I pushed it away and stood to my feet, walking to the other side of the room and turning to face him. “What are you doing here?” I snapped, the anger obvious in my hiss.

Blaise raised his arms in the air in a surrendering motion. “Hey, I just came to see what was wrong. I saw that you were upset,” he said, his eyebrows raised. He dropped his hands to his side. “But obviously you don’t want anyone in here so I’ll go.”

I watched him walk to the door. My mind raced. I didn’t want him here because he was the cause of mine and Draco’s fight. But I wanted him here because when he had walked into the room, an odd settling feeling had washed over me. I felt safe in his presence, guarded. And I had a burning desire to talk to him, to get to know him. I groaned helplessly before saying, “Wait, Blaise; you can stay.”

He turned and made his way back over to me as if he had expected me to say this. I grew angry at this but decided to let it slip as he linked his arm through mine.

“Come, we’ll go back to my house where no one can eavesdrop.” said Blaise, and in an instant his face was stony and concentrating. I watched him intently, observing his smooth chiselled features and the long lashes of his closed eyes. His lips were slightly parted and a sudden craving for his kiss washed over me. I swallowed it down as I felt a small jerk. A deafening crack followed and then we were no longer in my bedroom, but in a small modern kitchen. I glanced around, taking in my surroundings. We were at Blaise's flat.

Blaise conjured up some coffee with his wand and led me through to the lounge. It was as small as the kitchen with only one couch, but it felt cosy. We sipped our coffees in silence for a while, getting used to the presence of each other once again. I was aware of Blaise’s violet eyes watching me, calculating me, observing me. Usually I would’ve felt uncomfortable under his intent stare, but tonight I didn’t mind.

“So why are you so upset?” Blaise asked after the longest silence I had ever experienced.

I sighed and placed down my mug, nestling back onto the couch and resting my head against its back. “It was just Draco being Draco, that’s all.”

Blaise shifted a little. “It didn’t seem like that was all to me.” I hinted the matter-of-fact tone in his deep, alluring, hard to ignore voice.

I sighed once again to emphasise the fact that I really did not want to talk about it. The main reason was that Blaise was involved. Would he kick me out of his house if he found out I did not want him in mine in the first place? I did not think he would. He would understand, right? After all, it was his fault this entire thing had started.

Blaise scooted closer to me so that our thighs were touching once again. I inhaled sharply as pleasure shot up my thigh and to my brain. Already my mind was switching off. Why did Blaise have such an effect on me?

“Was it because of me?”

I looked at him, my eyes wide and unforgiving. I did not reply.

“Hermione,” he said softly, taking my hand in his. My eyes snapped to our entwined fingers. He was playing with my engagement ring. “I know this is not what you want. But I cannot help myself. When I see you, I see the only reason I am still alive today. It’s almost like having sweets and not being able to eat them. It’s torture watching you with Draco. The way he looks at you… he loves you so much. I cannot bear that.” It was confession time again.

I stared at him for a long while, unblinking. “Then why are you here? If it hurts you so much to see Draco happy, why don’t you leave?” I snapped at him, fire in my eyes. Just because he was pouring his heart out to me, it didn’t mean I was going to drop everything and forgive him for ruining my life.

Blaise looked hurt by my words. I felt a small pang of guilt but hastily pushed it aside.

“That’s the problem, Hermione. I want to leave; I want to let you live your life with Draco, but I had to seize this opportunity,” he paused for a moment, carefully planning his next words. “I want you, Hermione. I want you so much that I think I won’t survive if you push me away.”

In that moment, all my opposing thoughts left my mind and were replaced with the positive ones. But the cons were greater than the pros.

“Say something.” Blaise prompted after I had been silently arguing with myself for over a minute.

The anger bubbled inside of me once again and I pulled my hand away.. “What do you want me to say, Blaise? That I don’t care about Draco anymore and I want you? That I’m willing to throw away everything I’ve built in my life so I can be with you?”

“That’s not what I want, Hermione.” Blaise said as he tried to seize my hand back up again. I stood to my feet and swatted him away.

“No, I think that’s exactly what you want. Why else would you tell me, right? What good would telling me do? The best thing that can happen between us is an agreement, Zabini. This… this ‘thing’ that we have going on, whatever it is, has to stop. I love Draco. I don’t want to be with you. End of story.”

In an instant, Blaise had grabbed my hands and pressed me up against the wall. I tried to struggle free, shocked, but Blaise was much too strong for my liking. His face came right up close to mine and I saw fury flash in his violet eyes. He raised his hand and I shut my eyes tight, bracing myself for the fatal blow against my face. But it did not come and when I opened my eyes, Blaise’s hand had dropped back to his side and he was shaking with grief.

My instinct was to put my arms around him and comfort him, but I could not move, frozen by shock. I merely watched him silently agonise over what he had just done. It was torture for him, I knew. But what was I supposed to do? Anything I could’ve done would have most probably made things worse.

Blaise’s eyes shifted onto mine and my heart ached for him when I saw the pain and longing and guilt in them. My bottom lip shook as I realised just how much he meant the things he had said. He really did want me – need me – and it was agony for him to have me push him away so bluntly.

But what was I supposed to do?

As if a wave had washed over me, a sudden pang of longing overcame me and I took Blaise’s broken face in my hands. I ran my finger down his set jaw line, coming to rest near his mouth. He watched me with silent need. I sighed. I closed my eyes and pressed my forehead against his. I tried to swallow down my feelings, but they would not go away. No matter how much I tried to push away my desire for him, it would not relent. And my mind was almost completely switched off.

Blaise lifted his hand and ran his fingers through my hair. “Hermione…” he breathed. I could feel his hot breath against my face.

I opened my eyes and placed my finger on his lips, tracing the small, rich and red lines on his face, the ones I had wanted to kiss again and again ever since our first encounter.

And it was then that my body took over. I willingly threw away my mind and wrapped my arms around Blaise’s neck. My lips lustfully crashed against his and his tongue immediately met mine. The kiss grew urgent, and soon neither of us could stand only the one interaction. He suddenly tore off all my clothes so quickly that I did not realise I was standing stark naked in front of him. He took a moment to stare at my body before seizing up my lips again.

I slid off his shirt and we were instantly making our way to the bedroom, banging into walls along the way. My lips did not leave his once. I did not know my bearings until Blaise picked me up and placed me on his soft, comfortable bed. He unzipped his jeans and slid out of them. And for the first time in my life, I was staring at Blaise in nothing but his boxers. I suddenly wanted him so much more.

He sensed my longing and covered my body with his. I felt his excitement against my leg as he hastily struggled out of his boxers. I ran my fingernails down his perfectly toned back as he kissed my neck. He immediately managed to find my soft spot. I moaned in pleasure, fisting his beautiful black hair.

I then realised the full weight of my decision as Blaise reached into his bedside table drawer and brought out a condom. He looked at me; the hunger was still in his eyes but I noted concern too. And I realised that I didn’t care anymore. Instead of doing the rational thing, for once I wanted to be impulsive, spontaneous. Screw the sensible Hermione. This was me doing what I truly wanted with a passion for once in my life.

“Are you sure, Hermione?” His voice was huskier than usual after the rush of our activities, making me want him more than ever.

I snatched the condom from him and smirked. “Shut up, Zabini.”

It was in that moment when our bodies physically connected for the first time that I realised what true ecstasy was.



A/N: OK, so I knew this was what you guys were waiting for. So here it is. I wanted to show a more physical side of both Blaise and Hermione, so I think this played out perfectly. I hope you guys enjoyed it. *winks*

Don't forget to tell me what you think! It only takes two seconds. xD

Danielle xx


Chapter 7: Infidelity and Intermission
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I awoke the next morning with a pounding headache and a sore stomach. Inhaling sharply, I glanced groggily around the room, searching for my bearings. Nothing was familiar. I was suddenly alert, attentive. It wasn’t until my wide eyes fell onto the sleeping figure next to me in the bed that it all came flooding back to me.

The pounding in my head increased; it felt as if someone was constantly banging at it with a hammer. An alarm rang inside of me and I fell back onto the pillows, my heart racing and my mind sifting through last night’s events. I felt as if I would be sick. I clutched my throat, gulping down the gagging sensation. The room spun out from around me and I shut my eyes tight against everything.

What had I done? What on earth had possessed me to have sex with my fiancé’s best friend? I glanced at Blaise sleeping peacefully beside me. He was lying on his back in a straight, neat position. Half his body was covered in the white silky bed sheets; his bare torso lay naked in front of me. My eyes racked over the smooth ripples of his muscles and my mouth watered. I reached his face, smooth and vulnerable in its sleeping state. His soft lips were slightly parted, and his eyes moving slightly under his lids as he dreamed. I almost fainted.

I had been angry with Draco last night. Was that the only reason I had slept with Blaise? To give myself a sense of payback? No, that was definitely not it. I was not a slut. I did not go around sleeping with other men just for the fun of it. I loved Draco – that was more truthful than anything. But as I recalled last night, I knew that my desires for Blaise could not be held back. Hence why I had allowed him to take me back to his flat and given myself to him.

I found myself growing angry at this. How dare he bring me back here when he knew something like this would happen? He knew I was engaged for Merlin’s sake! Why did he have to go and ruin everything I had built? This man I barely knew!

I silently agonised over everything for a few minutes until a stirring Blaise rolled over and wound his arm around my waist. He rested his head on my shoulder, waking up. I stared down at him, frozen, my brain unable to send messages to my body fast enough. He blinked at me groggily for a second before a faint smirk twitched at his lips. The arrogant bastard’s way of saying good morning, I assumed with slight annoyance.

“You’re still here, Granger.” He stated without surprise. He craned his head up to peck me on the lips but I dodged away, shoving his hands away from me and sitting upright in bed. Blaise clucked irritably and climbed out of bed, slipping on a pair of grey sweat pants. He wandered shirtless into the bathroom where he disappeared for a few moments to emerge with a clean towel. He threw it at me. “Take a shower,” he instructed bitterly, opening the door that connected the bedroom to the lounge.

As soon as the door clicked shut behind him, I began to cry. At first they were slow, regretful tears, but they soon evolved into stifled wails of pain and betrayal. I cried for what I had done and who I had done it with… behind Draco’s back. I was still bawling when I climbed into the shower and washed all evidence of Blaise from me, making sure to run the soap over my body three times. I made sure all signs of Blaise’s alluring aftershave went down the drain with my pain.

When I emerged ten minutes later, I had managed to stop crying, but my eyes were still red and puffy. I ventured out into the kitchen where Blaise sat hunched over a bowl of cereal and the morning newspaper. He looked up as I entered. I stopped at the counter and we stared at each other for what seemed like hours.

Blaise was the first to speak. “What do we do now?” He had obviously cooled down a considerable amount, but I could still hint that previous anger linger beneath the surface.

I pressed the base of my palm to my eye and rubbed it hard, unsure of how to answer. “I don’t know.” I eventually replied in a withered, exhausted voice.

Blaise set down his spoon and stood to his feet. He was still shirtless, and I tried to keep my eyes away from the ripples of his abdomen. I remembered scraping my fingernails down them last night. I winced at the vision of our naked bodies and my moans of elation. I realised just how helpless I was right at this moment.

Blaise stopped before me and took my hands in his. I wanted to pull them away, but something in Blaise’s eyes assured me that he was not going to do anything stupid. I merely stared back at him, refraining from becoming lost in the violet eyes that still remained mysterious.

“Hermione, we need to do something about this – about us.” He said with a heavy tone, concern in his drained expression.

I sighed, casting my eyes to the ground, trying to ignore the growing awareness in my mind of the warmth of Blaise’s hands. “What do you suggest?” I asked, at a loss of making a decision for myself.

“Obviously we can’t tell Draco.” This did not need to be voiced, but I gave him credit for being brave enough to mention Draco’s name in this situation.

I nodded in agreement.

Blaise sighed and the silence encased us as we both thought about our treachery to Draco, and the consequences. But what was mostly on my mind was everything that had happened last night; the pleasure, the security and the best damn sex in my life. I knew I was being irrational, but what was I to do?

“What do you want to do?” I finally asked to break the silence.

Blaise rubbed his thumbs up and down her palms. “I know I don’t want to stop seeing you.” He said and I hinted his genuine tone. “I know it was wrong, but last night was… wow.” He seemed flushed as he added this. My heart ached. He was right. Last night was… it was definitely wow.

I loved Draco – I knew that much was true. But I knew even better that I could not just ignore my feelings for Blaise now that they were recognised. When I wasn’t with him, I physically ached for him, and when I was with him, I hated the thought of going back to Draco. I wanted to spend all my time with Blaise; Blaise made me feel like nothing I’d ever felt before. Everything about him was so satisfying, yet it was unsatisfying that I could never get enough. I had found myself at a crossroad.

“As much as I love Draco and I hate hurting him, I don’t want to stop seeing you either.” I said before the words had properly formed in my mind. But even as they left my mouth, I knew they were one-hundred percent true. Merlin, what had become of me? Was I seriously considering cheating on Draco just to satisfy feelings that would most probably not morph into anything other than physical needs?

As soon as I asked myself this, the answer was clear:

Yes.

Blaise’s face crumpled into a smile, all previous signs of anger and worry gone, replaced with relief and satisfaction. He still sighed heavily, however, and I found myself following suit.

“We should lay low for a while.” He said matter-of-factly, running a hand through his shiny black hair. I nodded in understanding. Blaise opened his arms and I stepped into them. He hugged me close to him to seal the arrangement. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to go back to Draco and face him; one: because he was most probably still angry with me for leaving him last night and two: I had slept with his best friend and things would be awkward.

But I knew I had to.

“Draco’s going to want to come around and talk to you.” I told Blaise with a heavy tone as I stepped away from him, ready to leave.

Blaise tilted his head sideways in question. “Why?”

I blushed slightly. “Our fight was over the fact that I didn’t want you at the party.” I admitted shamefacedly. I shifted on my feet, ready for the questions to start pouring in, bracing myself for Blaise’s inflamed eyes and raised voice.

But instead he grinned. “Why, do I smell bad or something?”

I couldn’t help but laugh, relieved. “It’s just… there was enough going on already – I was confused enough as it was. And having you there wouldn’t have helped much.” I said. Half of it was true, but I did not want to admit to Blaise that I was pissed off at him. What, and ruin the moment? No way.

Blaise chuckled light-heartedly. “I get what you mean. I didn’t want to be there either. The last thing I wanted was to create more conflict. But Draco insisted…” he trailed off with an apologetic smile.

I nodded and told him truthfully that it was OK.

“So what am I going to say if Draco asks whether I knew where you supposedly went last night?” Blaise asked as if it were a daily routine. I prayed to Merlin it wasn’t.

I wracked my brain for a plausible explanation. “Just say you saw me apparate out but have no idea where I went. I’ll think of something to tell him. Just play the innocent card – I’m sure you’re good at that.” As I said the words, I couldn’t believe I was thinking of a lie to feed to my fiancé of my whereabouts last night.

Blaise nodded, telling me he understood. “Are you going to be OK?” He asked, running his hands up and down my arms reassuringly.

I shivered at his touch, but swallowed my feelings down. If we were going to lay low, I supposed I should start getting used to it now. “I’ll be fine. Wish me luck.” It seemed ironic. I felt sick, but I gave Blaise an assuring smile before apparating away. I appeared in the empty lounge of mine and Draco’s flat. I gawked at the mess; paper cups and plates littered the floor, there was rubbish everywhere, and drink and food spills occupied almost every available surface. Obviously the party had become a little out of control. It was disgusting to see the house so messy.

I poked my head into the bedroom to find fast-asleep Draco sprawled out across the bed, the sheets falling away. He was snoring gently, indicating deep sleep. A pang of guilt flitted through my chest but I pushed it away and quietly snapped the door shut. I glanced back at the room and groaned at the mess. I was about to whip out my wand and utter a quick spell to put everything back in their right places, but realised a good clean up the muggle way was just what I needed to take my mind off things.

Half an hour later, the room was immaculate once again. Ravenous, I buttered myself a bagel and sat down on the couch, gazing out the window to the busy London streets below. I was glad I did not have to go into work today. Piles and piles of papers and reports were not what I needed right now.

By the time I had finished the remnants of my bagel, the door to the bedroom swung open and Draco ventured in, looking drowsy and uncoordinated. He yawned, and suddenly stopped dead in his tracks when he laid eyes on me. I merely stared back at him with a blank expression on my face.

I expected him to fire off at me for leaving him without notice, but his features softened and he crossed the room, stopping before me. “Hermione, I’m so glad you’re OK. I called you at least fifty times last night.”

I realised I had not taken my cell phone with me last night. Just as well, I thought.

“I’ve been so worried. I thought maybe you’d gone and got smashed or something.” Draco continued, suddenly awake and alert and looking extremely guilty.

The guilt was pressing in on me again. He had spent most of the night worried sick about me, while I had been sleeping with his best friend. But I did not allow it to get to me. What Draco didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. And at least I could live with knowing that Draco had no idea of my unfaithfulness and I was safe. For now.

I was about to relent, to accept his concern as an apology and tell him everything was OK, until I remembered just why I had left last night.

My expression hardened into a glare and I folded my arms across my chest. “Do you think that petty argument was worth me getting smashed over, Draco?” I demanded angrily. I knew this was the last thing I should be doing right now, but I couldn’t help it. I was just so angry.

Draco was taken aback; he had obviously expected me to drop all thoughts of the argument. “You looked pretty upset last night and –”

“Uh-huh, and why do you think that is?” I interrupted rudely, staring him down with brutal eyes.

Draco was still shocked. “Hermione, look – I know you were upset, but I wanted you and Blaise to at least be civil. Was that too much to ask?” Although I knew how much he wanted to throw away his morals and yell at me, he was doing a good job of keeping his temper under control.

My glare intensified. “I told you from the start there was no way I could get along with that skiving, arrogant bastard!” I felt guilty for describing Blaise in such a way, but felt reassured at the knowledge that they were not true.

Draco folded his arms across his chest, scowling. “You barely know him, Hermione – you can’t judge him so quickly. He’s my best friend.”

“And I’m your fiancée.” I said stubbornly.

Draco’s lips twitched and I knew he was about to explode with anger, but he managed to swallow it down. I felt a little disappointed when he heaved a sigh of surrender and dropped to his knees in front of me. “Hermione, I’m sorry about last night, OK? I guess I was asking a little too much of you. I don’t think I would be able to do the same with Potter and Weasley, so I guess I can understand where you’re coming from.” He said, obviously desperate to make amends with me.

Not bad, I thought, considering my forgiving him. But I found myself wondering whether I was still angry with him or whether I was only acting like this to deter any thoughts of last night and the immense guilt I felt. Perhaps I wanted Draco to suffer too?

Whatever I was doing, I knew it was not fair on Draco.

I finally nodded after a much agonised argument with myself and told Draco he was forgiven.

He smiled and drew me into a hug, kissing me passionately – a kiss that was not easily returned by me. I prayed Blaise’s taste still did not linger in my mouth.

When Draco pulled away, I expected him to question where I had gone last night. But he didn’t, and I didn’t know whether I felt relieved or worried that he was not curious of my sudden disappearance. And I knew I was being paranoid, but I kept wondering whether he knew I went off with Blaise.

“You would’ve been better to stay last night, anyway.” Draco offered and I was sure he had been able to read my mind.

“Why is that?” I asked curiously. Somehow I did not think I would’ve wanted to stay judging on the mess. I was not one for wild parties, and with all the food and rubbish lying around, it was obvious hadn’t been playing scrabble.

“Blaise left around the time you did. You missed out on a lot of fun.” He looked as if he were holding something back.

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “I bet I did.”



A/N: OK, so I was reading this book called Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin today and realised that what I had in mind for this story is completely along the lines of what happens in that novel. It was so scary that a lot of my ideas have already been used. And here I was thinking this was quite original! So seeing as I do not want to change the story around, I've decided I'm going to kind of morph it into the novel... you know, make them similar. So, as of now, this story is 'inspired by and loosely based on' the novel Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin. Take that for a disclaimer!

I'm sorry that this chapter was a little boring, but I needed to explain and set a few things and yada yada. But I hope you enjoyed it nevertheless. And I swear there will be much more 'enjoyment' in the next chapters that you won't know what hit you! For now, leave some reviews and let me know what you think. Constructive criticism is encouraged! Thanks so much, guys! ^_^

Danielle xx


Chapter 8: Entity and Encounters
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“Claudia, are you listening to me? Claudia? Claudia!”

Claudia’s eyes suddenly snapped onto mine, wide and alarmed. I inclined my head sideways, a frown occupying my features. Claudia snapped fully out of her trance and shook her head, brushing a strand of blonde hair from her face. “Sorry, Miss Granger.” She apologised, leaving it at that.

I watched her intently for a few moments before returning my eyes to the paper in my hands. “I need to get the thirteenth page into Jimmy so he can make two more copies, and then I need to speak to Scott to see if he’s almost finished with Mars. I also need to – Claudia!”

Claudia started at my angry tone, her distant eyes widening again as they locked gazes with mine.

I sighed and set down the paper, folding my arms across my chest. “What’s wrong, Claudia?” I demanded as gently as I could, trying to conceal my anger at her innocent ignorance.

Claudia gave me another look of alarm. “What? Nothing’s wrong.” She said quickly, nervously brushing her hair out of her face once again.

I cocked an eyebrow. “You’ve been slipping out of attention for the past ten minutes. Have you listened to a word I’ve said?” I asked her with authority. I was not in a good mood and to have Claudia not listen to me was annoying the hell out of me.

Claudia shook her head again, as if to shake away the trance. She guiltily cast her eyes to the floor. “I’m sorry again, Miss Granger. It’s just… I’m a little tired.” She said quickly.

I did not reply at first, watching Claudia closely for a few moments, before turning back to the paper on my desk. I ran a weary hand through my hair, too tired to deal with all of this right now.

“So where did you go last night?” Claudia asked after a few minutes of silence. Her voice was small, as if she had only just gathered enough courage to ask such a thing.

If I hadn’t been too preoccupied with the massive amount of work that needed to be done, I would’ve questioned her tone of voice. But right now I just didn’t have the energy to carry this conversation further – especially because my reputation and relationship were at stake just by answering this one question.

“I just went out for a few drinks.” I said, quickly pushing my instant hesitancy away.

Claudia inclined her head sideways in question. “But it was your party…” she couldn’t seem to understand this information.

“I know, but –” I paused, thinking about how much I should tell her –“I had a fight with Draco and needed to get out.”

Claudia was a little taken aback. “Why – about what?” She was curious. It seemed harmless – I thought maybe she was just worried about me. But I still did not like her nosing in my business, whether I had known her long enough to share personal things with her or not. I decided that I didn’t care and I needed someone to talk to about Draco; Blaise was not the ideal person to discuss my problems with Draco when he was the person who had caused them.

Not that I blame you, Blaise, I thought apologetically.

I sighed, rubbing my eyes wearily. “It doesn’t matter,” I decided aloud, picking up the paper again and skimming over the paragraph in which I had left off. “Now, this particular part of the ‘Real Life’ column needs to be edited. I don’t like this phrase here.” And the subject was dismissed just like that.

Claudia seemed thankful I had moved the conversation along; she had looked quite uncomfortable before. She relaxed a little more in her seat, leaning forward to read the paper in my hands. We settled back into work with heavy hearts.

Once Claudia left my office twenty minutes later with a new ‘to do’ list, I leaned back in my leather recliner chair and closed my eyes. I wondered how long I would feel like this, and just whether I would be able to survive.

*

One Week Later


The street was crowded as I pushed my way through mobs of people, fighting to get to Diagon Alley. There was a small blizzard and I wrapped my coat tighter around my waist as I fought against it. It was a relief to finally make it into the welcoming warmth of the Leaky Cauldron. The bar was emptier than usual; Tom the bartender leaned over the counter, looking as bored as ever. I waved hello at him as I passed and exited the pub. I automatically tapped the brick wall in the familiar sequence and watched mechanically as the bricks jumped apart to form an archway into the busy wizard/witch-filled streets of Diagon Alley.

I had not been here for years as I had never had the time. But Claudia (despite her lower status) had forced me to take the day off work due to my unbearable quietness for the entire week. She had told me that if she had to put up with my mechanical answers and aimless wandering for another day she would explode. But it’s not like I could help it. Ever since… that night, I had not been able to process a lot of normal things due to the immense guilt and confusion over my newfound feelings.

Draco had noticed it too. He had complained about my sudden distance to him, my constant need to be alone, and my sudden loss of voice. But I found it hard to act like things were normal when they weren’t. It was horribly painful. Thankfully I had not spoken to or seen Blaise during the entire week, which gave me a much needed break from that area of my confusion. But it still did not take away the wrong I had done, and the guilt I felt from being unfaithful.

I shook these thoughts away as I wandered down the wide-set main street of Diagon Alley. It was comforting to be amongst swarms of wizards and witches when I had not been around a large bunch of my kind in years – strangers or not. I spent a bit of time gazing in shop windows but never going in. I did not feel like buying anything – any normalcy had long since been thrown out the window.

It was around lunch time when I started to get hungry. I came across a small, near-empty café at the end of the main street and decided it was worth a try. It was a relief to be warm again, and the cosy feel of the small room was hard to miss. I settled into a booth at the back after having ordered a coffee and a muffin.

I was enjoying the peace and quiet, thinking about everything but the Incident, finally having a chance to spend some time alone without having to work or put on a fake smile at home. It was a relief to be able to sit alone and compose myself.

I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I didn’t hear the tiny tingling of the bell as the door opened. A small gust of cold wind rushed in, blowing my hair around my face. It was then that I looked up to see the source of my agony and torment over the past week standing across the room from me, staring right at me with brilliant violet eyes.

My stomach lurched and I sank further into my seat, hoping he would do the sensible thing and ignore me. But even then I was thinking wishfully and I knew it was no use, because he immediately dropped all thoughts of his previous destination and strode across the room. He stopped before me, his intent gaze boring down into mine. I felt a faint red blush rise in my cheeks as I tried to stop the sickening lurches in my stomach.

“Fancy meeting you here.” Blaise said as he slid into the seat opposite me.

I looked away, casting my eyes to the ground, hoping he would take the hint and leave. I did not want him here, yet I did at the same time. I knew it would only cause trouble for me, but the idea of having Blaise Zabini – the man I had slept with a week ago when I was supposed to be celebrating my birthday/engagement party with my husband-to-be. The thought made my stomach lurch more violently.

But I could not ignore the sudden appraisal of my feelings as I laid eyes on Blaise once again – the ones I had pushed down into my core since the Incident so I could forget about most of the things I had done wrong. And even though I had not been able to forget that incredible night, I had managed to push away the majority of my feelings for the man sitting across from me. Until now.

“Likewise.” I mumbled when he did not pick up on the hint I dropped.

Blaise leaned forward and took my hand in his. I wanted to pull away – I was forcing my brain to send messages to my hand so I could, but it was no use. Once again my body overruled. I merely stared at our entwined hands, glancing the magnificent glint of the diamond engagement ring on my finger that was so neatly wrapped around Blaise’s.

“I missed you.” He murmured in a low voice, his eyes suddenly changing from bright and happy to sad and anguished.

My heart ached as I longed to say the same words. It was true. No matter how much I had tried to forget the Incident (as much as I didn’t want to) I had missed Blaise with a longing so great that it hurt to think about him. But I just couldn’t forget. And right now, even though I had made the decision that I still wanted to see him a week ago, I couldn’t give in to it all. My torn heart just wouldn’t relent.

Instead of telling him I missed him (which would’ve been the easier option, in my opinion) I pulled my hands out from his and leaned back in my chair, as if leaning away from him. “Why are you here?” I asked, my voice set, like stone.

Blaise was taken aback. “I came in for a coffee and –”

“No, why are you here?” I repeated the question, trying to throw across a different meaning.

Blaise frowned, but he quickly recovered and allowed his hands to slip back to his sides, as if it would make him feel less embarrassed by my rejecting him. He gave me a long, calculating look and finally heaved a tired sigh. “I’ve already told you, Hermione; I’m staying in London for a while for work.” He had, in fact, told me this last week as I had been curious. But I had a feeling there was much more behind it.

I stuck up my chin, refusing to relent. “You’re not making things easier for me, Zabini.” Despite my insides screaming for him, I was screaming against him. I ran a hand through my hair, taking a deep, shaky breath. I knew I had made the conscious decision to push him away, however much it pained me to do so. I had a physical ache for him, sure, but I loved Draco. I loved Draco. I didn’t love Blaise.

Blaise blinked at me. I caught a flicker of hurt, but when his eyes opened a second later they were as hard as marble with no expression whatsoever. “I don’t understand, Hermione,” his voice was dull, lifeless, as if someone had taken away his ability to express what he was feeling. “Just last week you said you wanted to still see me.” His voice was low, however, as if he was afraid of being overheard.

I couldn’t bear to look at him. Just the expression – or lack thereof – in his eyes pained me. But I had to do this. It was what was best for both of us, right? What we did together – nothing could redeem us from the wrong. But we could forget. Forgetting was our only option right now. And it was the only thing I could do to be able to look at Draco the same, which I wanted so desperately.

“I did.” I answered stonily, forcing all emotion from my expression, body language and voice. If Blaise could do it, then I certainly could too. “But it won’t work, Blaise. I’m getting married, for Merlin’s sake. I love Draco, and I can’t do this to him.”

Blaise stared at me for a long while, and then in two swift movements he had risen from the booth and strode out of the café. He disappeared around the corner and out of sight. I gazed down at my hands in my lap, staring at the engagement ring – the beautiful engagement ring given to me by my amazing fiancé.

I suddenly jumped up too. I slapped some money onto the table to pay for my coffee and ran after him. I had to make sure he wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I rounded the same corner he had to find that there was only an alleyway there. What if he had apparated? I raced forward into the darkness, calling his name, hoping he was still there so I could rationally talk to him.

My squeal was stifled by a big hand as I was pulled deeper into the shadows by strong arms. I tried to struggle free, but my captor was far too big. I fought against his grip, but it proved to be useless as I suddenly fell limp against his arms. I was turned around to face none other than Blaise. My eyes widened in fear. Why was he doing this to me? But he did the unexpected and let me go, placing me onto the ground in front of him and stepping away.

No words needed to be spoken then. Through the dark I was able to see his eyes. They were wide, sad and glassy – far different than they had been in the café. I gazed at him for a long while, watching him as he once again silently agonised over his actions. I forgave him for surprising me like that, knowing he was helpless because of what I was doing.

And then, as if nothing in the café had taken place, I reached up and touched his face gently, pushing back a strand of black hair off his face. He gazed back at me, wincing as if I was hurting him by doing just this. I waited for him to pull away angrily, to apparate maybe, but I was surprised instead as he took my wrists in his and pulled me toward him.

In one swift movement I was sent crashing into his chest. He titled my face up to his and stared at me. “Please, Hermione…”

I stared back at him, at a loss of what to do. But then, like all those times before, thoughts of my previous agony of our ‘breaking up’ slipped from my mind, and I was only willing to do what my body wanted. And this was always the case with Blaise, and I was guessing it always would be.

And all of a sudden I didn’t want to tell him to leave me and Draco alone. I suddenly giggled, despite the situation we were in. I smiled up at Blaise and said, “I missed you too.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Blaise brought his lips crashing down on mine and I was home once again.

Chapter 9: Marveling and Moments
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I didn’t go home that night. Blaise took me back to his flat where we made love. It was even better than the first time. I stayed awake all night, lying in his arms, watching him sleep, praying the morning wouldn’t come so I could stay in his arms forever. He was a deep sleeper; I ran my hand through his hair all night, I traced every detail of his body with my fingers, watched his chest rise and fall with every breath he took. I don’t remember how many times my heart stopped that night.

It seemed sweeter the second time around. The feelings were still new but they weren’t unfamiliar. Sleeping with him seemed to make everything all right again, which worried me a little. But I tried to tune out the negatives and focused on what made me feel good about my relationship with Blaise. I only thought about Draco once or twice throughout the entire night. I didn’t know whether to feel guilty or relieved about this.

All too soon, the first rays of sunlight shined through the partly open shutters above the bed. It played delectably on Blaise’s taut chest, accentuating his bulky sexiness. I tried not to drool as I rested my head against his chest, hoping to fall asleep so I wouldn’t feel so tired. But it wasn’t long before Blaise’s fingers were combing my hair affectionately and there was no way I could sleep.

I lifted my head and smiled at his half-asleep expression. “Good morning.”

He smiled groggily. “Good morning. How did you sleep?” He traced my eyebrow with his finger, running it from my forehead to my lips.

I swallowed a shiver, trying to concentrate on his question rather than the way he was making me feel without even putting much effort into it. It was frustrating and pleasing at the same time how intoxicating he was. It was like he was my brand of heroin. Figures.

“I think maybe you slept better than I did.” I said truthfully. I wasn’t entirely up to admitting I hadn’t slept at all because I had been too preoccupied with staring at his beautiful face. The only thing about him I had missed all night was his violet eyes. Now that I could see them, I was a little more preoccupied.

He chuckled; his voice was still sleep-worn, making it sound huskier than usual – if that was even possible. “Did I keep you awake with my horrible, monstrous snoring?”

I knitted my eyebrows together as I laughed. “No… do you snore?”

“Maybe.”

I grinned. “Well, I must be good for you. You didn’t snore all night.” I told him, placing a quick peck on his collar bone.

“How do you know I didn’t snore all night?” He teased, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear.

I blushed, embarrassed. I knew I shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit I was so taken by his beauty that I felt I had to watch him all night. But there was still something about Blaise that made me a little wary about what I said. It was a difference to Draco, that was for sure. I felt I could say anything to him. But I was still adjusting to Blaise. I felt with time I would be able to completely be myself around him. For now, I would keep things like how he made my heart skip several beats when he looked at me to myself.

Blaise chuckled again and kissed my forehead. He then slipped out from underneath me. He wore only boxer shorts and I watched him with a silly grin on my face as he crossed the room to the bathroom. I checked the bedside clock and saw that it was nine o’clock. I groaned and rolled over onto my stomach, fishing through my hand bag that I had left beside the bed. I found my cell phone and turned it on.

My mouth dropped open. I had thirty-three missed calls. It didn’t take much thinking to figure out who they were all from. All of them were from Draco, bar one which was from Claudia. My face fell as guilt spread through me once again. I hadn’t realized Blaise was standing at the bathroom door watching me until he said,

“What’s wrong?”

I glanced up at his worried expression. Obviously I must look a fright. I glanced back down at my phone. “Draco called me thirty-two times last night.” I said, my voice seeping with shock. I should have expected it. My reaction was stupid. Of course he would have tried to call me. He would have been worrying about me all night. I should have called him and told him I wouldn’t be coming home. But what excuse would I have given him?

”Yeah, I stayed with Blaise all night. Did I mention I was sleeping with him behind your back?”

I felt sick.

Blaise sat down beside me and took my phone from me. He turned it off and covered my hands with his. “Don’t go back to him today.” He said; if he hadn’t sounded slightly pleading I would have assumed it was a command.

I looked away from him, his intent stare confusing me. “I think I should.” I said in a small voice.

He pressed his lips tightly together. “Hermione, please don’t go back to him today.” He squeezed my hands to show how desperate he was. I was rather shocked; I had never seen Blaise beg before.

Nevertheless, I slid my hands away from him and stood up. I walked to the window opposite the bed and stared down at the busy streets of London below. I heard Blaise stand to his feet and shuffle over to me. He wrapped his arms around my waist from behind and rested his chin at the nape of my neck. I closed my eyes and placed my hands over his. I wished this wasn’t so complicated.

“I need to go back to him today, Blaise. I can’t just stay with you all the time. It’s not fair on him.” I said quietly, regretting each word that escaped my mouth.

He hugged me tighter to him, as if letting go would cause him to lose me forever. He didn’t say anything for a while. I began to wonder whether he would remain silent or drop the subject as quickly as it had been brought up. I cringed at the thought of his being cold toward me again. I did not want another fight with him. I silently agonized over the possibilities of what could happen while I waited for his reply.

“Then stay with me for at least a few more hours. I want to show you something.” Blaise said into my shoulder.

I opened my eyes and turned into him, burying my head into his chest. “Let me call Draco.” I murmured quietly, hoping this wouldn’t anger him. But he released me from his arms, looking at me with a distant expression in his secluded violet eyes. I stepped around him and turned on my phone. There were three more missed calls from Draco.

“Hermione?” he demanded as soon as I called him back. “Where the hell are you? I’ve been worried sick about you! Why didn’t you answer any of my calls? Where have you been?” His voice was tired but furious as he yelled at me down the line. I cringed, glancing at Blaise. He nodded in understanding and exited the bedroom, snapping the door shut quietly behind him.

I sat on the unmade bed. “Draco, relax. I decided to go into work after I went shopping yesterday to finish up some reports I’d forgotten about. I fell asleep last night. I only just woke up now.” I lied. I was surprised by how easily the words left my mouth. I waited in anticipation for Draco to start yelling at me again, to tell me he didn’t believe me. I closed my eyes, praying he couldn’t tell I was lying.

There was a long, grueling silence before Draco finally answered, “I’ve just been so worried about you.” His voice was soft and concerned, no longer angry.

I smiled with relief. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you last night. I was just so caught up and…” I trailed off, knowing that was all Draco needed to understand my situation.

“When are you coming home?”

I sighed, glancing at the clock again. It was nine-thirty. “I should finish what I started. It’s going to take at least three hours. I should be back by two o’clock at the latest.”

I practically heard Draco’s face fall. “Hermione…”

“I’m sorry, Draco. You know how things go.”

There was another long silence as Draco considered this. “Fine,” he said in a voice expected from a two-year-old that won’t get his way. “But I wish next time you will warn me when you’re not coming home for the night. I thought something had happened to you.” There was raw concern in his voice behind the re-risen anger.

I smiled at his worry despite my frustration at his old self shining through. “I will. I promise. I’ll see you soon then?”

“I love you.”

I couldn’t bring myself to say it back. “Bye.” I quickly hung up, clutching my heart. Why hadn’t I been able to say ‘I love you’ back to him? I had been able to before. Many times before. I felt sick knowing my feelings could possibly have changed so quickly.

No, I assured myself, You’re just angry at him. You still love him.

*


Half an hour later, I was sitting with Blaise in a compartment near the back of a very fast train. He sat opposite me, his leg drawn up over his other, his violet eyes staring at me. I tried not to look at him; I kept my eyes on the London streets as the train whizzed past. I did not trust myself to form coherent thoughts with Blaise’s attention so boldly on me.

“Remind me again why we’re catching the train when we can just as easily apparate?” I asked, folding my arms across my chest, fighting against the cold. The heaters on the train must be broken because I felt the cool air more than ever.

Blaise chuckled lightly. “You can’t apparate to where we’re going.” He said, his eyes never leaving mine. He never so much as blinked, even.

“Is this place related to wizards in any way?” I asked skeptically, finally finding his gaze. No matter how many times I had pressured him into telling me where he was taking me, he would not budge. I was getting rather impatient. Of course, Blaise didn’t know I hated surprises. If this trip took any longer, I was sure he would find out soon.

Blaise shook his head, a smirk creeping onto his flawless face. “I’ve already told you I’m not telling you anything, Hermione. You’ll see when we get there.”

I knew he was doing it on purpose. Obviously he had already gathered I hated surprises and was keeping me in suspense just to piss me off. I growled at him and directed my gaze out the window once again. I figured a good dose of the silent treatment might make him give in and tell me where the hell we were going. But ten minutes of utter silence passed and he still had not budged. I glared at him when I found he was still smirking at me.

Two could play at that game.

“You’re being such a child.” He said with a roll of his eyes once we had arrived at the station we were meant to be getting off at – I was refusing to get off the train.

I stuck my chin up indignantly, my arms still folded across my chest.

Blaise chuckled. “Fine, you leave me no choice.” All of a sudden, the ground swept from beneath me and I was lurched onto something hard. I opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. It was then that I realized I had been flung across Blaise’s shoulder and he was carrying me out of the compartment and off the train.

“Blaise!” I began beating my fists angrily on his back. “Put me down this instance!” Despite alarmed onlookers, I continued to throw protests at him, hitting him with my fists, yelling at him to put me down. I was surprised the Police didn’t come to arrest Blaise for kidnapping.

He finally let me down in a secluded street not far from the station. I mumbled, disgruntled, to myself as I straightened out my clothes and fixed my hair. My face felt red from hanging upside down for so long. “That was not funny!” I hissed at him as I felt the redness draining from my face. Finally.

Blaise looked highly amused. “How else was I to get you off the train? You’re being such a kid.”

I’m being a kid? Ha!” I scoffed at him but didn’t bother taking the argument further. I was just glad I was on the ground again. Only Merlin knew how I could stand Portkeys when I couldn’t even stand being carried on someone’s shoulders.

Blaise chuckled for what seemed like the fiftieth time that morning.

I glanced around us for the first time since we had arrived. “Where are we?”

Before Blaise could answer, he grabbed me and pulled me toward him. In an instant, I heard a deafening ‘crack’ and we were suddenly in a different environment. Blaise steadied me as I searched for my bearings. The problem was, I didn’t have any. I had no idea just where on earth we were.

“Somewhere in France.” Blaise finally replied with a crooked grin.

I glanced around me to find we were in a private forest area. Red sunlight was shining through the trees, casting a soft, harmonious glow across the forest floor. I gasped, forgetting about my anger toward Blaise. “I thought you told me you couldn’t apparate to where we were going.”

“I know. I was just putting you off.” He said with a small laugh.

I randomly realized that today Blaise had laughed the most I had ever heard. I blinked at him, a smile spreading across my face. He grinned back, taking my hand in his large one. “Come on, we’re going to miss it.” He pulled me through a clearing in the forest.

“We’re going to miss what? Where are you taking me now?”

“You’ll see.” He said with a secretive smile.

Here we go again, I thought, trying not to grow frustrated once more by another ‘surprise’ of his.

Minutes later, we reemerged on a grassy bank. I looked out at the horizon to see that the sun was setting. My mouth dropped open as I gazed upon its beauty. Blaise laughed at my reaction as he led me further onto the bank. It was then that I noticed a small picnic was set up. A grin occupied my face as I realized what the surprise was. Blaise had brought me to France to watch the sunset.

“Champagne?” He asked me as we settled on the comfortable velvet blanket.

He poured us a glass each and we toasted to nothing in particular. “You didn’t have to go to all this trouble.” I said, amazed by the thought he must’ve put into this. Suddenly I wasn’t so angry that he had tried to surprise me. It had been worth the anger and apprehension.

“It’s not trouble when it’s for you.” He said, taking a sip of his wine.

I batted my eyelashes at him. He opened his arms and beckoned for me to come over to him. I snuggled into him, silently marveling at how perfectly I fit into his arms. I closed my eyes and listened to his breathing. It was rhythmic and calming, and despite my surrounding, I soon found myself dozing off.

Blaise shook me after what felt like hours but was only a few minutes. “I didn’t bring you all the way to France so you could fall asleep. You’ll miss the sunset. It’s brilliant here.”

I sat up slightly. The sun was halfway below the horizon. I goggled at its radiance. “This is by far the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” I said in awe.

I felt Blaise’s fingers under my chin. He lifted my face up so that my eyes were drawn to his. He wasn’t smiling, but his eyes were glassy, filled with emotion I couldn’t quite comprehend. Their intensity scared me, yet at the same time I was encompassed by their violet beauty.

“I was hoping this would only be the first of such moments I could share with you.” He whispered as his face neared mine. The passion in his voice was so genuine that it seemed violent. All expression was erased from my face as he lowered his lips to mine. At first, I wasn’t sure whether he was kissing me, but when I was lowered onto the blanket and his body was covering mine, the moment felt that much more brilliant.

“Of course,” I whispered against his lips. With a pang of thrilled excitement, I realized my words were true. “Of course, Blaise.”



A/N: OK, before you all start barracading me with angry comments, just know that I had no access to my laptop for two weeks, hence the late arrival of this chapter. But rest assured Chapter Ten should come quicker because I now have my laptop back and everything is fine. xD

OK, so this chapter was rather fluffy, I know. But at the same time it wasn't. Hermione has to realise so many things before she can decide what's going to happen. It is very hard for her, you must understand. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and that you'll all leave encouraging reviews.

Until the next chapter, thanks for your patience!

Danielle xx


Chapter 10: Arguments and Antics
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The air was crisp. The sun was high in the sky and birds were chirping in the midst of the surrounding forestry. In the moments before waking, I felt something quite hard and marble-like beneath me. I stirred, inhaling deeply, getting used to being conscious. My eyes fluttered open and I was instantly greeted with brilliant violet eyes. My lips immediately turned upward in a groggy grin as Blaise touched my nose with the tip of his finger. ‘You fell asleep on me.’ He said light-heartedly.

I blinked. ‘I did?’

‘If I’d known you were tired I wouldn’t have brought you here.’

I rubbed my eyes, detaching myself from Blaise and sitting up. I dazedly glanced around me to find that I did not recognise my surroundings. But then images of the previous night came flooding back to me and I was knocked back by the force of uncharted emotions. ‘We’re still in France?’ I asked, crossed between confusion and curiousness.

Blaise nodded, sitting up with me and placing his hand on my back. ‘As I said, you fell asleep on me.’

I rubbed my eyes again, pulling my messy hair to one side. ‘Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep at your flat the night before, or whenever it was. I was too busy thinking about – Draco!’ I suddenly shot up to my feet, glancing around in a panic. ‘Shit, I was meant to be home at two-thirty! Oh Merlin, how could you let me fall asleep, Blaise?’ I grabbed my jacket and proceeded to pack up the picnic in a hurry.

Blaise looked offended. ‘Well, I’m sorry that I thought I shouldn’t disturb you when you looked so peaceful!’ He hissed furiously, standing to his feet also and removing himself from the blanket.

I shot him a glare. ‘That’s no excuse, Blaise. Draco could have the police looking for me and everything!’

Blaise mumbled something under his breath that I did not have the time nor energy to hear. I stuffed the blanket into the basket and thrust the basket into Blaise’s hands. ‘Take me back.’

Blaise folded his arms across his chest defiantly. ‘No,’ he said derisively, towering himself over me. ‘Why should I take you back? I go out of my way to surprise you and this is how you repay me?’

I groaned irritably. ‘You know it’s not about you, Blaise! I don’t want Draco to be suspicious of me. He’s already worried enough about my apparent ‘distance’ from him.’ I continued to try and hand the basket to Blaise, but he would not take it. ‘Blaise –’

‘All I wanted was to make this special for you.’

‘And it was special, Blaise. Amazing, even. But right now I must get back to Draco. It’s been over twelve hours.’ I said, pleading desperation in my voice. I would Disapparate myself, but I had never Apparated to another country before. I did not want to get lost, which would be rather likely. I was afraid that I might not be able to get back to London if Blaise refused to take me.

Blaise watched me, his smooth face expressionless bar his narrowed eyes. I continued to stare at him, unrelenting. If he thought that I would back out, he obviously did not know me very well. Sure, it was unlike me to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there were more pressing matters at hand. Like Draco’s possibly growing suspicion.

Finally, Blaise exhaled and pulled me into him. For a moment I thought he was going to kiss me, but I felt a sideways jerk and the next second we were standing in the alleyway just around the corner from mine and Draco’s flat. Blaise instantly stepped away from me and folded his arms across his chest. ‘You can go to him now.’ His voice was hard, his jaw tense. My brows creased together and I took a deep breath to suppress the growing anger over his selfishness.

‘I’m sorry, Blaise. You know how it goes,’ I told him, but somehow it didn’t seem enough. I regarded his hard expression for a moment before I tentatively stepped into him again and leaned up on my toes. My nose stopped inches from his and I could feel him tense against me. ‘Thank you for everything.’ I pressed my lips against his gently. They gently moved against his rigid ones, and if it weren’t for the fact that I was so preoccupied with assuring him everything was going to be fine, I would have felt embarrassed that he was not responding to my kiss.

I opened my eyes to see him looking down at me, his arms still folded across his chest, his eyes filled with fury and indecision. Slightly frightened, I rolled back onto my heels and stepped away from him. ‘I’ll call you later?’ I confirmed, my voice more uncertain than I wanted it to be.

He gave a single curt nod, and then he was gone. I exhaled sadly and dumped the basket into a nearby dumpster. I decided to take the stairs up instead of the elevator, and by the time I reached the flat, I was out of breath. I paused at the door, listening for any signs of Draco. I heard nothing inside the quiet apartment. I unlocked the door and ventured in, staring around at the immaculate room. It was exactly how I had left it. I had a quick look around, only to find that Draco wasn’t there, as I’d suspected, and with a tired sigh, I rummaged through my bag for my cell phone.

‘Hello –’

‘Draco?’ I blurted as soon as he picked up.

‘–no one is available to take your call. Please leave a message after the tone.’ There followed a prolonged beeping noise, and my face instantly fell.

‘Draco . . .’ I said nevertheless, turning to face out the window. ‘It’s me. Uh – call me as soon as you get this message.’ I hesitated for a moment, and then added, ‘I love you.’ I snapped the phone shut and placed it onto the bench, deliberating.

I eventually entered the lounge and threw myself onto the couch. Closing my eyes, I placed a hand over my forehead and focused on my breathing. The first image that came into my head was Blaise’s rigid face, and the indecision in his eyes I had hinted just moments earlier. I did not like to see him like that. And then I was reminded of the pain of my heart dropping when he did not kiss me back.

He was just upset that you got angry at him, I told myself, childishly clucking my tongue against the roof of my mouth.

There came a knock at the door right then, and I sat bolt upright, clutching my heart in surprise. I hurried over when the pounding continued. ‘Coming!’ I shouted impatiently. I heard off-note singing and scrunched my nose up in confusion as I worked through the dead bolt on the door. I finally wrenched it open and was shocked to see a half-unconscious Draco leaning against an uncomfortable Claudia.

‘Claudia? What . . . ?’ I reached forward to take Draco’s weight off her and helped him inside.

Claudia was breathless. ‘I – er . . . I found him in a pub just on the corner of the street. The bar tender said he’d had at least an entire bottle of vodka to himself.’ She quickly explained, rushing forward to help me settle Draco onto the couch.

‘’Ermione,’ Draco mumbled, his words painfully slurred. ‘You don’ hafta worry ‘bout me. I’m pissed, see?’ He pointed at his face where an impish grin rested. His eyes were drooping.

‘Draco, what have you done?’ I murmured, helping him sit upright. It pained me to see him so vulnerable and drunk.

‘S nothing to fuss ‘bout, ‘Ermione,’ he assured me, swaying slightly as he tried to focus on my face. ‘I can look after myself.’ His body drooped forward at that moment and I quickly helped him back up again. Claudia watched in silent horror.

‘I’ll go get him a glass of water,’ she said under her breath, rushing off to the kitchen.

I sighed helplessly, holding Draco up by his chest. ‘Why, Draco?’

He mumbled incoherently for a few moments before he coughed, spluttering everywhere. ‘You didn’ come home,’ his words were becoming more and more slurred by the second, ‘I was frigh’ened.’

‘So you go and get yourself drunk?’ I demanded angrily, but right at that moment Claudia rushed back in with his drink. He took it in his shaking hands and gulped it down in one go. I had to guide his hand back to the table so he could place the glass down.

‘I’m sorry, Hermione.’ Claudia said, her eyes wide.

‘It’s not your fault, Claudia.’ I assured her absently, focusing all my energy on keeping Draco upright. It was only when he began to wretch that I realised I should have dragged him to the bathroom. ‘Fuck!’ I cursed as I pulled him up and started to lead him across the lounge. I was too late. Before I could stop him, Draco bent over and threw up all over the white carpet. I groaned, and Claudia teetered nervously by the coffee table.

‘I’ve got it from here, Claudia.’ I said resignedly, patting Draco’s back as he continued to hurl.

Claudia winced. ‘Are you sure you don’t want anything?’

‘I’m sure. Thanks for bringing him in.’

She deliberated for a moment, and then gratefully left, gently snapping the front door shut behind her.

Draco finally finished doing his business and I guided him toward the cough, retrieving a bowl from the kitchen. He slumped against the arm and closed his eyes, groaning. I grabbed a bucket and filled it with hot water, and then worked at cleaning up the mess he’d left all over the floor. By the time I was done, there was water everywhere, but I was relieved the stain had come out. I deposited the bucket in the bathroom and then returned to the lounge. Draco was on the brink of sleep, holding the bowl to his chin. I sighed and sat next to him, taking his hand and pulling him into me. He rested his head against my chest.

‘I’m sorry, Hermione,’ he sounded much less drunk, but still out of it. ‘I was just so worried . . .’ Exhaustion encased him quickly, and it wasn’t long before I had to help him to his feet and lead him to the bedroom. He collapsed onto the bed fully clothed. I placed the bowl on the bedside table and threw a blanket over him, brushing his hair from his face. His breathing deepened, and a small smile crossed his face.

‘Hermione?’ He asked groggily as I made to leave.

‘Hm?’ I said, turning to face him again.

‘Claudia’s nice,’ he mumbled, and then sleep took over him. I frowned. Claudia? I shook my head as I closed the door, confused. I crossed into the kitchen and cleaned up the mess I’d made in my haste to sober Draco up. I scrubbed at the counter to occupy my mind and took the trash down. I checked on Draco again and he was fast asleep, snoring gently. I retired to the lounge where I sat on the couch and stared at the wall.

He’d gotten drunk because I hadn’t returned. That obviously meant he suspected something was wrong, which meant he was hurting. He had looked incredibly vulnerable tonight. I’d never seen him so sad, so messed up. It pained me to know that I was causing this. Just a week ago our relationship had been perfect, I couldn’t have wished for a happier life. And then as soon as Blaise had entered the picture . . .

As if he’d read my mind, my cell phone rang and I jumped up to get it. It was Blaise.

‘Hermione?’ He asked, his voice reserved.

‘Yes?’ Who else could it be?

‘I need to see you.’

‘Now’s not a good time, Blaise.’ I dropped my voice slightly, glancing back at the slightly open door of the bedroom.

‘It’s urgent.’ He didn’t sound pleading at all, but more expressionless than anything.

I frowned, my brows furrowing together. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Just meet me at the Tower Bridge in twenty minutes.’ His tone was hard now, and I could picture his rigid body and set eyes. I shuddered.

‘Can you at least tell me what this is about?’ I asked, my voice detached.

But he cut off then, and all I heard in answer was the beeping of a dead line. I sighed and snapped the phone shut, checking the clock. It was almost nine o’clock. Would Draco be all right by himself? I figured it couldn’t harm him; he was sleeping peacefully now, all signs of discomfort gone. I sighed and grabbed my coat, promising myself I would be back before he had the chance to awaken.

Whatever it was that Blaise wanted to talk about, I sensed it was not good.



A/N: Surprise! And so she updates! The reason for this is that I missed this story a bit, and I was just reading through it and my inspiration was sparked again. So I decided to write the next chapter, and the next one should come just as easily. It's just getting juicy now! -grins-

I hope this was good. I missed writing Blaise. Ah, he's so hot. I'm expecting a new banner really, really soon, and I think you'll all love the new face claim of Blaise [the actor who will represent him on the banner]. Trust me, I'm head over heels for him, so hopefully you will be too.

As for other updates, they are slowly but surely coming along. I've had a sharp hit of inspiration lately, so you can expect updates over the next week, plus a new one-shot. I am actually deciding whether it will remain a one-shot or become a short story. -shrugs- It really depends on how well it's received.

So anyway, enough rambling. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please lemme know! Much love,

-Danielle xx


Chapter 11: Delusions and Disturbia
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I usually would have Apparated but the air was so crisp, and the wind so gentle, that I decided I’d walk. The London Tower Bridge was only a five minute walk from mine and Draco’s apartment, and I needed time to brace myself for whatever waited for me above the River Thames.

I kept my head bent as I wandered the streets of London. I guess to anybody watching my steps looked a little aimless, but I knew where I was going, just a little hesitant to get there. Things had been so perfect this morning, or even yesterday. But now, since that moment we shared in the alley, I was worried Blaise was having second thoughts.

Shouldn’t I be slightly relieved, though? I mean, this entire time I’d been ‘frolicking’ with Blaise, I’d been unfaithful to Draco. I loved Draco with all my heart, so didn’t that mean I should be glad to end things with Blaise? I didn’t know. It was all far too confusing. I guess I would know as soon as I saw Blaise.

But I didn’t.

When I finally reached the bridge, I saw him. He stood there in his fancy black jacket, gazing out over the river. He was so beautiful, especially under the mild moonlight, but his face was overcast, and his violet eyes dejected.

I approached him hesitantly and stopped at his side. He didn’t acknowledge my presence, so I didn’t acknowledge his. I leaned against the barrier and stared out over the river. It was at its most beautiful at night, when it was too dark to see its dirty colour. I liked the way it flowed with purpose, as if it was on a mission and it wouldn’t let anything get in its way. If ever I felt confused, I would come here and gaze at its rushing waters until I found an answer for whatever was going on in my head.

It was funny. This was the first time the river had ever failed me. I was still confused as hell.

We stood like that in silence for a while. I guess I didn’t want to be the first one to speak. I was worrying about Draco, but I was also so taken by Blaise’s presence, as I usually was, that I couldn’t focus on much else. It was strange to think that not long ago Draco had been the only object of my affection. Now there was someone else to overpower that love, a feeling that seemed much stronger but couldn’t possibly be.

I hadn’t waited all my life to find love and then have it taken away from me.

“She died.”

I looked up, startled by Blaise’s words. At first I was more shocked that he had spoken, just as I had gotten used to the silence, but then as the words sunk in I couldn’t quite process what he meant. “What? Who?”

“My mother,” he said, his voice gentle like the surrounding wind.

I waited for him to continue, but he didn’t, so I mumbled, “I’m sorry,” and continued to stare out at the constant river.

When he did, it was like he hadn’t spoken about it for a while. The words just tumbled out – not a lot of them made sense – and he didn’t seem to know what to say first, and what came next. But it sounded like he’d done a lot of thinking. I just listened, uncertain as to what I could possibly say to make the situation easier for him.

“I was in Egypt when her current husband phoned me. He said she just didn’t wake up one morning. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, just that she was pale and it was like all the life had been sucked from her body. They told him it was self-inflicted. She’d killed herself. She’d taken her own life with her own hands.”

I pressed my lips together, trying not to imagine the dead corpse, and a man holding her to him, unaware that she had passed on from this world. I shuddered when the image came into my head, anyway.

“I never said goodbye to her,” Blaise continued, his voice suddenly lost with the wind. “I just upped and left for Egypt without a word, and I never called her after that. She probably wondered what she did wrong. I guess I was sick of the string of men she married after my father. I was never brave enough to tell her, but I regret that now. Every single day since she died I regret not telling her how I truly felt, and that I still loved her despite the fact that she was evil.”

I don’t know how it happened, but I suddenly found myself clutching tightly onto his hand. This seemed to shock some life back into him, because he suddenly looked down at our entwined hands and then at me. He turned his body so that he was facing me, and took my other hand. He squeezed them both tightly, and I felt the desperation in his grip.

His violet eyes flashed with passion. “Hermione, I can’t go on like this. This past week or so … all the feelings I had for you back at Hogwarts just came rushing back, stronger than before. I’m sorry if I’ve been forceful, or if I’ve put pressure on you – I’m especially sorry for creating a barrier between you and Draco. I just …” he trailed off, at a loss of what to say.

I stared at our hands.

“The thing is, I’ve grown up thinking love was something you didn’t keep. My mother was constantly getting married, and each time her husband would mysteriously disappear and then she’d get a new one. That was normal to me. I believed if you loved someone they would disappear and you’d never see them again. And then I met you.”

My heart was thumping out of my chest.

“You were so different from everyone else. You didn’t care what people thought about you, and you knew what you wanted. You were just so intriguing. And the best part was you didn’t disappear. It took me two years to work up the nerve to tell you how I felt, but then I realised you were too good for me. I don’t know how that came about, I just knew I had to be more than the person I was to win you. So, as soon as we graduated, I left for Egypt.

“It took me a while to find myself, and I had only finished doing just that when I returned to London. I tracked down Draco, and that was when my world fell apart. The moment I apparated into your flat, I knew it had all been for nothing. You two were together, he’d made you his in the amount of time it had taken me to realise I was in love with you. I was so upset, yet so drawn to you that I couldn’t help my actions when I kissed you.”

There was a lengthy pause as he stared down into my eyes, gazing past just my outward appearance and into my soul. I had thought Draco was the only one who could see my soul until I met Blaise. Blaise could see my soul and read it. I was so transparent to him that I wondered if he could read my mind. I really prayed he couldn’t read my mind right now, because I might just die.

“Hermione,” he breathed. My name sounded so sweet on his lips, like they had been made purely to speak my name and nothing else. “Hermione, I love you. No, I am in love with you. When you disappeared for that entire week, I almost died. After getting used to you in that way, it was difficult for me to be away from you. I felt so lost, especially after losing my mother. It was like you were the only person keeping me alive. And today, when you said you had to get back to Draco, I felt the most powerful jealousy I’ve ever felt. I can’t describe it … I hated Draco with every breath in my body because he had you, you who are so perfect and amazing and you don’t even know it …”

He affectionately brushed a stray lock of hair from my face and tucked it behind my ear. Where his fingers touched my skin there remained a trail of fire. I closed my eyes against the bite, afraid of what it meant. My head was a mixture of thoughts and feelings, and I couldn’t decide how I felt, how this conversation was affecting me. All I could think about was Blaise’s violet eyes as they bore into my heart and soul.

“I asked you to meet me here tonight, Hermione, because I need to know how you feel.”

The sentence was so abrupt and unexpected that I found myself hanging onto it, peeling back each word so that I could understand what they meant. He was asking me to put down into words what was going on in my head? I could no sooner pick a star in the sky and bring it down to Earth.

His cold, burning fingers stroked my cheek, leaving more fire. “I can’t keep doing this if I don’t know what I mean to you. Is this just something you can escape to when you’re sick of Draco, or does this mean more to you? Please tell me, Hermione, because I feel so far out in the deep end right now.”

I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to answer the question, but I owed that much to Blaise. He had been so kind to me, so wonderful, and he deserved to know the truth. How could I word it, though? I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. Staring into his eyes about destroyed me right there and then.

“I never intended to hurt Draco. I’m not the kind of person that runs around having affairs. I truly love him with all my heart, and when I said I would marry him I meant it. He made a vow to me, I made a vow to him, and I had ever intention of keeping that vow for the rest of my life. And then I met you.”

The words seemed to come easily after that. They had all been bottled up inside me for so long, and to have them flow from my mouth as if they had been written as a script was such a relief. I found it hard to stop once I started.

“I hated you for making me surrender to you so easily. It was like you were sent from my own personal hell to torture me, and you didn’t even seem to care. I wanted to kill you that night at the restaurant, as you stared at me with that stupid smirk. I wanted to wring your neck until you slumped against the table. But at the same time I felt drawn to you, more so than I had when I’d first seen Draco all that time after Graduation. I can’t describe the pull I felt toward you … It was like the universe was pushing us towards each other relentlessly.

“It was so easy to succumb to you after that, because everything I felt was real. When I slept with you it was the most amazing feeling in the world. But after I felt so sick and guilty that I couldn’t face you. I needed that week away from you, to gather my thoughts. I guess I felt that if I stayed away from you it wouldn’t matter as much that I had gone behind Draco’s back. But I didn’t realise until I saw you again that day in Diagon Alley that I had missed you while I’d been gone. It was like everything started to make sense again after that.”

I paused as I tried to think about how to word this next confession. I sighed.

“You have to know I never meant to hurt you, either. I wanted you. Being with you just felt right, like I was a whole person. But then when I went back to Draco, that made sense, too.” I didn’t know how to go on. My heart was telling me to stop, but my head insisted I continue.

I stared at Blaise, reading his soul, and finally said, “I can’t let go of Draco, Blaise. As much as I’ve enjoyed your company, I can’t just say goodbye to him. I love him. We’re getting married. I can’t run away from that just because we slept together a couple times.”

It was like I’d slapped him across the face or hit him with a stunning spell. His grip on my hands loosened, his arms fell back against his sides, and his entire body went rigid. It was like watching someone instantly freeze. It was the most horrible and frightening thing I’d ever witnessed.

I took a step back, confused, concerned and scared all at the same time.

And then he started shaking with anger.

“How can you go back to him after everything we’ve been through? Can’t you see that I’m here, right now? I’m here, Hermione. I’m still here because of you. Why … why can’t you see that?” None of it made much sense, but it was the tone that got to me.

His anger, his shouting, his pure rage, it sank deep into my veins and boiled my blood. There was nothing to stop me now.

“You can’t expect to suddenly show up unannounced and sweep me off my feet, Blaise! Not after everything I’ve been through with Draco. You … you’re a bastard! You forced me to be unfaithful to Draco!”

“I never forced you! It was every bit your fault as it was mine!”

“Don’t you try to blame me! I love Draco! What else can I do? I can’t just drop everything I have with him for you! How do I know you won’t drop me, too, once you get bored of me?”

Now it was like I’d set the killing curse on him. His shoulders suddenly slumped forward and he backed away from me.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice low and derisive, “for ever thinking you were the one for me. You’re just like my mother’s dead husbands. You’re just like them!”

And then he was gone. With a deafening crack, he was gone. Just like that.

I stood staring at the spot where he’d been standing just a second ago, infuriated beyond control, breathing heavily and pulsing with rage.

And then I just seemed to fall apart at the seams.

The ground suddenly swallowed me up and I cried. It didn’t end. It felt like my heart had been ripped in two and I was no longer a whole person. I don’t know how long I was there for, on the ground, curled up into a little ball.

The crying stopped after a while, and when I started to get cold, I got to my feet and apparated home. Draco had moved to the bed when I dragged myself like a zombie into the bedroom. I took one look at him, and my heart broke further. It was no longer just two parts. One part belonged to him, the other to Blaise.

Only one part belonged to me, and it was the smallest part of them all.

I collapsed into bed beside him and crawled into his embrace. I wanted to hide beneath his arm forever, to never show my face again. I wanted to be there for eternity so no one could see the shame I had committed myself to, not even me.

Chapter 12: Darkness and Discoveries
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Darkness.

It was such a beautiful thing. It caressed my face, my shoulders, my fingertips. It told me it would keep me safe forever. I succumbed to it and buried my face in its arm. I never wanted to leave its side, because if I did it might just be the end of me.

My eyes were glued shut. I couldn’t bring myself to open them; that would mean facing the light. I couldn’t face the light when the darkness felt so good.

But the darkness told me I had to. It encouraged me in the way it gently stroked my hair away from my face. It told me everything would be all right, so long as I just opened my eyes. I groaned, and it tenderly kissed my forehead in response.

I opened my eyes.

Draco.

I fell apart.

He gathered me into his arms and shushed me as I cried. He told me everything was going to be all right, that he was there and nothing would hurt me. I sobbed until I had no more tears to shed. He gently rocked me back and forth, now wordlessly, waiting out the storm.

When it ended, I felt empty. Numb.

Draco led me to the bathroom and helped me wash my face. Then he settled me onto the couch and put a blanket over me. He disappeared for a while, and I was left staring at the ceiling, my mind a vast expanse of nothingness. When he returned, he coaxed me into sitting up and handed me a steaming mug of coffee.

After a few sips, my world seemed to come into focus a little more each second. First, I noticed it was cold. Freezing cold. I pulled the blanket up to my chin. Next, I noticed it was morning. The sunlight filtered in through the window, bathing the floor in warm yellow. Last, I noticed Draco’s bloodshot eyes and the pained expression on his face.

Then I remembered.

“What happened to you last night?” I blurted.

His entire body went rigid. He didn’t look at me. “I was upset when you didn’t come home. You weren’t answering your cell phone, and no one seemed to know where you were. I … I don’t know why I caved, I just couldn’t handle it. You’ve seemed so distant lately …”

I pressed my lips together and averted my gaze to the floor. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have an issue with Draco getting drunk. It was my fault for making him worry so much. My intense guilt overpowered every word I would have said if this had been a normal situation. Instead, I closed my eyes and wished for this all to disappear.

I was forced to look at Draco again when his hand touched my knee. “Hermione, what’s going on with you?”

I bit my lip. Looking into his beautiful blue eyes caused me the most pain I had ever felt. What could I possibly say? I wanted to make everything go away. I wanted to go back to that day when Blaise arrived, so I could end things there and have Draco in my arms without complications. But I couldn’t.

But.

Even if I could, would I want to?

The thought came from nowhere. I was shocked.

I couldn’t want Blaise.

No. I didn’t.

This reassurance was enough for me. I placed my hand on Draco’s and offered him my most earnest look.

“There’s nothing going on. I guess I’ve just been a little stressed out from work. I’m sorry if I’ve seemed a little detached. I didn’t mean to be. I just … I wasn’t myself.”

The lie was clear. To me, at least. Draco didn’t notice. He smiled instantly, and my heart melted. He wrapped his arms around me and I fell into his safe embrace. I knew I was home.

“I love you so much, Draco.”

That was not a lie.

He kissed my forehead again. “I love you more than you know.”

He didn’t ask about this morning’s breakdown. Throughout the day, he kept glancing at me worriedly, probably afraid I might fall apart again. I didn’t. Despite how terribly uneasy and upset I felt about Blaise, it was easy to pretend there was nothing wrong and just enjoy being with Draco again, without the strain.

He drove us out to a little wine-tasting town outside of London, and we spent the day joking around and laughing, just like we used to when we first started dating. Then he took me to a carnival and we got lost in the maze and he won me a big teddy bear. Then he made love to me on the roof of our apartment building. It was so honest and refreshing that I became completely lost in him and forgot all about Blaise.

But, in the morning, all that seemed in vain.

I awoke to another sunlit morning. I yawned and stretched, and looked across to find Draco’s side of the bed empty. On his pillow was a little note that read: ‘Getting breakfast. Don’t move.’

I smiled and curled up under the blankets again, enjoying the sun as it danced across my skin, warming my core. I waited half an hour before I started wondering where he was. I got up, wrapped my dressing gown around my body, and ventured out into the living room.

I didn’t even make it to the kitchen when I heard hushed voices from within.

“… have to go, Draco. There’s nothing left for me here.”

Blaise’s voice sent my heart into a palpitating frenzy.

“You can’t go! You’re better off here, where I can keep an eye on you.” Draco urged desperately. I imagined him running a hand through his bed-messed blonde hair.

Blaise snorted. “I don’t need you to keep an eye on me. I need to go back to Egypt. I can’t stay here, not anymore. I … I need to get as far away from here as possible.”

“Just because of your mum?”

I knew it wasn’t just because of his mother. I knew it so well that it caused my heart to break further. Being reminded that Draco was oblivious to the fact that his fiancée had slept with his best friend only destroyed me a little more inside. I felt like I was going to throw up.

There was a long pause before Blaise spoke again. “Thanks for all your help, mate. I really appreciate it. You’re a good man, and I hope … you’re happy.” His voice broke on the last three syllables.

I only heard the sound of his own heart breaking.

There was a click, and the silence told me he was gone. Draco and breakfast forgotten, I turned around numbly and went straight back to bed. I didn’t wake up until night fell, and even then I didn’t get out of bed. I stayed there, barely moving, for three days. Draco assumed I was sick, and I let him believe that. He nursed me, brought me meals which I didn’t eat, and tried to coax me out into the real world. Claudia even visited, once, but she didn’t stay long. I heard her and Draco murmuring outside the door before the front door closed, announcing her departure.

Draco left me alone until the early hours of the next morning. He had alcohol on his breath, but he wasn’t drunk. He merely sat on the end of the bed and stared at the wall.

It had all been perfect.

It had all come crashing down.

Without a word, I pushed the covers away from my weak-from-lack-of-activity body and crawled across the bed to Draco. I put my arms around his neck from behind and stayed there for a long time. Neither of us spoke. There was nothing we could say to outweigh what we both knew in our hearts.

Something in our relationship was going horribly wrong.

He didn’t talk to me that day. I was finally out of bed, and took to cleaning up the house to make up for my inactivity, and also to keep the fear-invoking thoughts from my head. I didn’t really realise he was avoiding me until I made dinner and he wouldn’t come and eat it when I told him it was ready. I sat at our small table, waiting for him, until our meals turned cold. I stared out the window, down to the busy streets below, waiting. When night finally fell, I forgot what I was waiting for.

When I looked at the diamond ring on my finger, I remembered.

It was so easy to pull off. I felt nothing as I slid it from my skin and placed it on the table in front of me. My hand felt empty, like there was a piece of it missing, but the rest of my body had no reaction. Not even my heart, which remained in its carefully broken state. There were no further tears, no palpitations. No regrets.

I was waiting for Blaise.

I was waiting for him to come storming back through the door, sweep me off my feet, and take me back to France, where we could watch the sunset together and forget everything else in the world. I was waiting for him to tell me he loved me so that I could say it back and mean it. I wanted nothing else more than to be in his arms.

I cried again, but this time it was silent. I let the tears run down my cheeks and splash onto my untouched food. When they stopped coming, I cleaned the dishes and left the apartment. My last glimpse of our home consisted of the dining table, and the diamond ring still gleaming on its glass surface.

The walk to work was long. I felt numb, and all I could seem to do was put one foot in front of the other and let my body take me where it wanted to go. I didn’t want to apparate – the physical exhaustion of my body would not allow me to partake in such strenuous activity. Its fragile state would not let me jolt it any further.

The light was on up on the top floor. I stared up at it emotionlessly. It took a while for me to register Claudia must be working late. She was the only one, excepting me, who stayed for longer hours than were required.

I climbed the stairs slowly. The lift was out of the question.

It was quiet in the office. The cubicles looked so alienated as I marched past them like a zombie. I didn’t react when I found the light was coming from my office. I should have, because no one worked in my office but me. I couldn’t remember how to question why Claudia would be in my office, especially when I was not there.

And then it hit me.

It was not a realisation that hit me, nor an unravelling.

It was a high-pitched squeal, resonating throughout the abandoned building – an elongated trill of intense pleasure and satisfaction.

And it was in the form of a single word.

“DRACO!”

I seemed to lose control of myself at that moment. My hand turning the handle didn’t register in my mind, nor did the subtle squeak of the door as I pushed it opened. But it registered in theirs, and their eyes darted to mine in a split second.

Draco and Claudia.

Claudia and Draco.

My hand fell silently from the handle and to my side. My mind went blank. The darkness returned but it would not enfold me. Instead, it surrounded me, just out of my reach so I could not succumb to its comforting embrace.

The rest was a blur. All I could remember was a quick cuss falling from Draco’s lips, and the thud of high heels against the floor as Claudia jumped from her compromising position on the desk.

I ran from my office as fast as I could, not daring to look behind me at the terrible scene that had split my heart the farthest it could go until it was no longer mine at all. I was alone.

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