Chapter 8

Chapter 8

I looked away from him, knowing that if I looked him in the eyes, there would be no controlling what I would do, or say. Instead, I waited for him to speak, or do something.

"I know you don't need protecting." His voice was barely a whisper, his hands loosening around my elbows as one dropped to his side, while the other reached for my chin, lifting my face up to look at him. "Hell, you saved me. But is it so wrong, Hermione? That I want to protect you? You were captured; that's what I was trying to avoid. I never meant for you to be hurt."

I pulled away, annoyed again at how thick he could be. With a scoff, I responded, "Really? You're concerned about them hurting me, but you never once stopped to think about what you were doing!"

Shaking my head, I couldn't help the disappointment. He wouldn't get it, would he? I pushed past him, taking advantage of his momentary stunned silence to make it as far as the parlor. I would disappear, and I'd do a much better job of staying away from him than he did of keeping from me. A part of me expected him not to follow, almost hoped he didn't, but the sound of his footsteps chasing after me stopped me in my tracks. What more was there to say?

"Malfoy, just - " I turned around, about to tell him to stop, but he stopped my words almost immediately, grabbing me by the waist and pulling me in, his lips crushing mine in a kiss more desperate than the one we shared in the closet less than twenty-four hours ago. The hand that wasn't at my waist held my neck, his thumb brushing along my jaw as he pulled me even closer. Before I could really think about what I was doing, I responded, my hands clutching his shirt at his shoulders.

"Hermione." He pulled away for a moment, "I can't…can't just let you leave. Please. Don't leave."

"Malfoy." The pain in his eyes made me correct myself. "Draco, you need to make up your mind… Moments ago you said we couldn't work - that people would make it too difficult. Obviously you're not willing to try, but you'll do this?" I pulled back, gesturing between us, at the way he'd just held me, kissed me. "I can't just stay around waiting for you to leave me again."

The first thing I felt upon waking up was how sore I was. Everything hurt, but not in an entirely unpleasant way. My second thought was how cold I was, and, eyes closed, I moved closer to the side of the bed where he'd fallen asleep the previous night. I'd done this more than once throughout the night, moved closer to him, just for his warmth, for the feeling of his arm wrapping around me and pulling me closer. When the feeling never came, I opened my eyes to see the other side of the bed empty. Puling my sheets around me, I sat up, searching the room for him, for his clothes. When I didn't find a trace of him, I walked out of my bedroom and into the rest of the apartment. He was gone.

It was almost like I was back in my empty apartment, alone. Could he see the memory in my eyes? Probably, if he'd wanted to. "I don't think I could let myself go through that again."

For a moment we merely looked at each other, his eyes pleading - torn. I could have walked away - I was prepared to walk away. I wasn't prepared for that look in his eyes, or for him reaching out to me like this. For the first time since we were prisoners together, his vulnerability was coming through again. I wanted to believe that he wouldn't leave again, if I chose to stay. Maybe it would be easier if he went back to treating me the way he did in school. It would hurt, but it'd be so much easier to walk away.

"It's not as simple as making up my mind." He sighed, holding the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.

"Why?" I thought I'd be angry, but at this point I was just tired. I wanted to sleep, to pretend this was all some stupid dream and I would wake back up inside that cell with an unknown companion.

"I don't want to hurt you."

"Too late." I chuckled, though there was no humor in the sound. He winced at my words, but didn't respond. "You think that what people will say would bother me? It's like you don't actually know me, Malfoy. I thought we'd reached some kind of understanding all those months ago. If I cared what people thought, I never would have taken your case. If I cared, I never would have let you kiss me in the first place! But you're too thick to understand that, I guess." I sighed. "I'm done here, Malfoy."

"I don't want you to leave, Hermione."

"But you don't want me to stay, either, do you?" My hand was on the doorknob when I turned to him. I gave him a sad smile. "I'm trying to understand, Malfoy. I get it. But I'm not going to hover around you while you make a decision."

Again, he moved faster than I did, or maybe there wasn't as much space as I thought between us. I was against the door now, his hands cupping my face, his forehead pressed to mine. I closed my eyes, anticipating when he would pull away, ready to bolt out the door as soon as I could. Obviously I didn't want to leave - but I couldn't sit around and wait for him. How would that be fair to me?

"Draco-" Again, he cut me off with a kiss. I stood there, working hard to keep myself from responding. I wanted nothing more than to let him hold me, to kiss him back, to let him lead me away into the darkness of the manor.

"Stay. Please." His lips left mine and made their familiar trail along my jaw, my neck, causing my eyes to flutter closed, my breath to hitch, a whimper to escape my throat. Draco's hands slid down my sides, grazing bare skin under my clothes, as they slid under my shirt, trapped between my body and the door. It was hard to argue, but I managed.

"J-Just…so you can….can leave again?" I didn't like the weakness in my voice, the way that weakness transferred to my knees, making it almost impossible to stay upright without him holding me. My chest tightened, and the strangest mixture of longing and reluctance took hold of me. I wanted to cry, I wanted to shout, I knew what was going to happen. I'd known the first time, and this was no different. And yet here I was, letting him touch me, letting him have me.

"I won't, Hermione." His mouth took mine again, the kiss feverish, desperate, almost painful as he bit my lip, massaged my tongue with his. We were a frenzy of lips and limbs, as he pressed me roughly to the wall against his body. "I'll be here in the morning. I'll be here…as long as you'll let me."

I knew I was going to regret it. I knew I was. But that didn't stop me.

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