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Chapter Four

“I must be a masochist,” Hermione said to herself quietly moments before apparating to Harry’s cottage. This time she had left a note in her kitchen for Draco just as she said that she would because she really wasn’t sure what would happen around Harry, now.

Hermione was a worrier, and she was concerned about Harry’s attitude the last time she saw him. There was definitely something wrong with him and she wanted to do nothing more than help him. She had sent a vague letter to Ron, trying to wheedle facts out of him without sharing too much of her own information. In previous letters Ron had made it sound like him and Harry had been seeing each other often, but she really didn’t think Harry was lying about it when he told her that they hadn’t. Something weird was going on and she wanted to figure out what it was.

She almost felt guilty for not trying to contact him sooner.

She appeared in the same spot that she had a week before and the cottage and property was still in the same amount of disarray as it had been last time. The grass was all but dead; brown patches surrounded by weeds and crab grass with dirt showing through in most areas. She took a steadying breath before approaching the door and once she was in front of it she had to force her hand out to knock.

She waited.

And waited.

Harry wasn’t home. She knocked harder this time and announced her arrival, the same way she had done it last time, but she heard nothing inside the house and came to the quick conclusion that Harry was definitely not here.

She cupped her hands around her face and peeked into the window, deciding then and there that she didn’t feel comfortable barging into his house. Especially with his behaviour the last time she had visited. She couldn’t see much inside, other than the same grime and dilapidation she had witnessed before. She would try to stop by sometime this week, and if not, she would come back on Saturday instead of Sunday.

She didn’t see the figure watching her from the forest, lust-filled eyes watching her every move, thrilled that she had come to visit him again.

**

“I totally forgot to order those books,” Hermione stated, looking up at Draco from her book as her cheeks reddened.

Hermione did not forget things.

She was just distracted lately by thoughts of Harry, wondering why Ron and probably even Ginny had been lying to her about their former friend as well as the constant close proximity she always had with Draco.

Because she wanted to kill him most of the time.

That was all.

Hermione and Draco had already been researching for a month and a half, and Hermione had to admit that she was not making nearly as much progress as she had initially hoped. There were just so many things to sift through and consider, and now she was whining about needing even more books to have to go through.

Hermione had tried to contact Harry again, as well, but every time she dropped by his house it was empty.

She had received a reply from Ron the week after she had messaged him but he was just as vague as she had been, giving her almost no information. She did figure out, though, that he and Harry had gotten into a large fight a year previously and they hadn’t spoken a word to each other since. She had a new mission: figure out what their argument was about. She didn’t have a lot of spare time though, so she would have to be patient with herself.

Hermione and Draco were seated on a brown leather couch in his expansive library; Hermione had a large tome in her lap and her legs were straightened out across Draco’s lap, who was using a clipboard to take notes across her shins, a book on the armrest of his side of the seat.

So maybe they were a little comfortable with each other, now.

Still fought like immature five year olds over the last piece of chalk, but comfortable, all the same.

The fire was blazing away across from their seats and the sky outside was steadily darkening. It was way later than five, but both Hermione and Draco had come to terms with the fact that Hermione wouldn’t just give up researching for the day if she was on a good train of thought.

“What are you hoping to order, again?”

“I need to find an updated book about wizard genetics. It seems strange to me that this is a because of pure-bloods marrying pure-bloods. I mean, I understand that not every child would survive because of cousins marrying, but surely not every single one of our generations children would pass away. In the muggle world when close cousins marry it can show itself in the children as disfigurements, but very rarely death.”

“Okay. We should go out for lunch before-hand, then.”

Draco tried to make it sound casual, but Hermione knew better. He picked her up at noon every single day, why would tomorrow be any different? Her stomach flipped in excitement, but she didn’t want her feelings to be conspicuous.

“Really?” Hermione asked, skeptically.

“I know of a place that sells the most delicious canapés.”

Hermione’s mouth watered just at those words, appetizers were her favourite thing ever. “I’m in.”

They grinned at each other and Hermione moved the book she was reading onto her lap, sitting forward and stretching out her back.

“Enough for today, I think,” Draco said, taking her book and setting it on the table, along with his book and clipboard.

Hermione nodded and settled back into the couch, lazily staring into the fire, thinking about the food she was going to have for lunch tomorrow.

“Blaise thought we were sleeping together,” Draco stated suddenly, surprising her out of her musings.

Draco had never told her what all Blaise had said the night he showed up unannounced for dinner, but for some reason he wanted to see how she felt about this information.

Hermione turned red, but didn’t say anything at all. She continued to stare into the fire, but now her thoughts were very far from food.

“He said that we interact like a couple,” Draco continued, and Hermione was suddenly very aware that his hands were slowly rubbing up and down her shins, sometimes caressing her ankles and feet.

“Oh,” Hermione said, because she didn’t know what else to say to that. She started to feel a fluttering in her stomach and her heartbeat seemed louder in her ears than it did just moments ago.

She had a sudden vision of her and Draco rolling around in a large bed, his muscled body taking charge of the situation.

“A strange couple, but a couple nonetheless.”

“And what did you say to that?” She asked him, her voice a little throaty as she blinked to get rid of the vision of naked Draco.

“I told him I’d let him know,” he said casually, his hands still rubbing her legs.

“You wish,” Hermione said, sitting up but leaving her legs on his lap.

They stared at each other for a moment before Hermione realized that sitting up had put her upper body very close to Draco’s.

“And you’re trying to tell me that you have no interest in that whatsoever? What’s wrong, Granger? Still a frigid little virgin who-“

Hermione pounced. She had been fantasizing about it for weeks and she finally just let itself play out. She crashed her lips onto Draco’s and straddled his lap, shutting him up effectively.

Which was her plan.

Shutting him up.

What she didn’t plan on was the fact that her stomach was fluttering as their mouths battled for dominance. Hermione hadn’t had contact with a male for a very long time, even her last date with anyone was over a year ago, and the bloke was a moron and she couldn’t get away from him fast enough. She was a very lonely person over the last year and even her friends couldn’t take time out of their schedules to meet with her, no matter how many owls she sent. Harry had obviously taken a large fucking swan dive off the deep end, so being around Draco on a daily basis had made her attraction grow quickly.

Draco was definitely surprised when Hermione threw herself onto him and began to kiss him, but he was glad for it. He had been attracted to many witches in his life, but that attraction usually faded when they opened their mouths and he realized just how stupid they were. Sometimes he just couldn’t get the fire going for others, but with Hermione… it was different. He hadn’t known this was going to happen but he wasn’t going to complain about it; he had been feeling exceptionally lonely since his mother had passed away.

Hermione was also very attractive and wouldn’t look too bad on his arm either. Plus, her clothes were funny, and he liked someone with a good sense of humour, especially since being a half-blood or muggle-born wasn’t frowned upon anymore.

He broke the kiss slowly, both of them panting for breath, and he groaned a little bit because he really, really didn’t want to stop what he had started.

He opened his eyes to see Hermione staring at him, her eyes a little shinier than he was accustomed to, with lust, maybe. She didn’t want to stop either.

“I’m sorry,” Hermione said, her face flushed.

“Don’t be sorry,” Draco said seriously, “If you hadn’t done that now, I’m sure we would have come around to it soon.”

Hermione nodded, surprising him.

“Maybe I should go, though,” Hermione said, and Draco laughed and helped her stand up. She walked away from him slightly, which he was happy about, because he needed a moment to compose himself; he was trying to forget the feeling of her body against his, for the time being.

Once he was confident about his state he moved forward and they wrapped their arms around each other, apparating out of Malfoy Manor.

**

Hermione’s hands were tied tightly above her head, or maybe they were chained and padlocked?

She thrust her arms into the stone behind her and a clanking reverberated around the room, confirming her suspicion about being chained.

The bonds were digging into her skin painfully, her arms aching from being forced into this strange position for who knew how long?

She tried to gaze around the cold cell she was in, but darkness was pressing in on her vision. She was barely able to discern the doorway from a wall, but she could tell that it was a spot that was darker than the rest.

“Hello?” she called, her voice echoing back to her, causing goosebumps to break out on her arms immediately; they were so big from the cold and the fear that they were almost painful.

No one answered her and anxiety was bubbling in her stomach from having some of her senses taken away. Maybe if she could see her surroundings, she wouldn’t be quite as afraid.

“Is there anyone there?”

Beneath the echoing sounds of her voice she thought she could hear a faint hissing noise that was slowly getting louder, and she realized that whatever was making the sounds were coming closer to her.

“Who’s there?” she yelled, panic almost suffocating her. Her shoulders were beginning to hurt from her arms being tied above her head and she didn’t like being trapped. Where the hell was she?

The hissing and spitting noises were incredibly loud now, and she trained her eyes on the area where she knew the doorway was. She saw it darken for a moment and realized that someone had entered her cell.

Cell? Yes, that’s where she was, in a cell of some sort.

“Who’s there?” she asked again, much quieter this time; the fear obvious in her voice.

The cell was suddenly ablaze with a blinding light, causing Hermione to scream and slam her eyes shut, figuring that this would be the death of her. When she was still alive a moment later she slowly opened her eyes, letting them adjust to the light that was now flooding her cell.

The first thing she saw was the large snake on the floor, and the hissing made sense in that moment. The second thing she saw was the wand pointed directly at her, emerald eyes blazing behind it.

“Harry?!”

Hermione jerked upright in her bed and took a deep breath in the same moment, gasping for air as she wiped her forearm across her eyes.

“Oh, my God,” she whispered to herself, terrified, before laying back down. It took a while for her body to stop trembling and stop sweating the way it had been when she first woke up, just like it did every other time she had these nightmares. They’d been a common occurrence for almost a month now.

She was curled on her bed in the fetal position, her hands clutching her blankets tightly and her eyes wide in fear. She was scared to go back to sleep, and after a while she checked the time and decided that she may as well get up and start her day.

She needed to take this out on her muscles at the gym.

That thought brought the blonde hair and silver eyes to mind, causing her face to light up as memories from her recent nightmare slowly faded to the back of her thoughts.

Hermione was not a drastic person.

She wasn’t, right?

She had thought about kissing Draco many, many times before it happened. She liked the guy, damn it. It was weird for her to admit, but it was the truth. He was still a snarky arsehole, but it was almost different now.

Maybe they were both snarky arseholes, and that’s why she didn’t mind his attitudes anymore.

Sometimes your heart just knows what’s right.

Or whatever.

Draco had given her a small kiss last night before leaving her alone in her flat, she smiled and decided to dress extra carefully for the day ahead. They were going for lunch and she wanted to look damn good, just to remind him that she was there, and very, very available for him.

She dropped her sassy shirts for the day, and decided to wear a cute coral tank top that was covered in sequins beneath a white linen shirt and plain black leggings. She put her hair into a sock bun, but made it less severe with pieces of hair floating loose around her face.

“You look adorable today!” Clementine stated seriously as she entered the store to relieve Hermione of her shift.

“Thanks.”

“So tell me what, exactly, is going on between you and Draco Malfoy.”

Hermione’s cheeks reddened of their own accord and Clementine gasped dramatically.

“I knew it, you little hussy!”

“It’s not what you think,” Hermione started, but was totally cut off by Draco apparating into the store.

“Mmm hmmm,” Clementine said skeptically as Draco’s eyes roamed up and down Hermione’s body in a very obvious manner.

“Let’s go,” Hermione said quickly, fleeing Clementine’s gaze, which the girl switched to Draco immediately so she could appreciate his arse on their way out the door.

As soon as they were free in Diagon Alley, they were being eyed by passersby.

Hermione was the brunt of many glares from witches young and old, and she suddenly felt very self-conscious.

“Just ignore it,” Draco said, reaching down for her hand. She was surprised by his action, but didn’t say anything since he was effectively guiding her through the crowded streets. “It gets old, fast.”

“Is it always like this?” she asked Draco incredulously to distract her mind from the hateful looks she was receiving, just as a portly man with a smoking camera popped up in front of them and snapped a quick picture before waddling away proudly.

“Always. I am an incredibly handsome and rich bachelor, after all.”

Hermione gave a tiny laugh and rolled her eyes, but continued to follow the pressure of his hand to the restaurant for the promised canapés.

Hermione honestly didn’t think they were as good as Draco had played them out to be, so she mostly pushed them around on her plate but still managed to eat enough to not come across as rude.

Draco ate a ridiculous amount and she figured he spent hours in the gym to counter the way he ate.

“You don’t like it,” Draco said, and it wasn’t a question.

“Not as much as I thought I would,” Hermione answered honestly – she had never had to lie to him in the past and didn’t see why she should start now.

Draco just hummed and requested the bill.

They were strolling slowly down the sidewalk toward Pleasure Bound after their meal when a silvery form materialized in mid-air in front of them.

“Shit,” Draco said, and Hermione knew that this was a patronus and that he was being called away to work. “I’ll meet you at your store when I’m back, so just wait there for me.”

“Yes, sir,” Hermione said cheekily, giving him a mock salute.

He stared at her for a moment before he surprised her again and leaned into her space, kissing her quickly on the lips. He had apparated away before she could even make heads or tails of his actions.

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