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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

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