Bathwater

The Easiest Way to Azkaban

'It can't be that bad, can it?' Draco Malfoy's voice sounded far and distant, a small trace of an echo to every word. An echo that bounced off the dark, invisible walls of his head with some sort of pain and anguish.

'How can you be so sure?' Another voice, a girl's voice spoke. It was his girl, his witch—Hermione Granger. 'Why is it that you, the cowardly ferret, are not afraid of this? How can you just take it so lightly; have you no plans of the future? Wasn't there something you wanted to do that didn't involve changing diapers?'

"—Do you have a pass?" A woman behind a tall desk, thick glasses and a bored expression on her face asked as Draco Malfoy waited for the doors of the elevator to open. "Excuse me, sir, do you have a—"

Ding.

"Sir!" The elder witch protested, frowning after the blonde's figure as he pushed his way into the elevator; shoving the people exiting it with force. She watched him jab at a button on the right side, making it close rapidly before anyone else could attempt to get inside of it. (Well, apparently he didn't care that all those people were certainly going to be late.)

'I'm not afraid, bookworm,' he heard the memory of his voice sound in his head once more. There was a hint of anger in it, but as he breathed deeply and closed his eyes as he waited for the elevator to come to a stop, he saw that in his memory he was smiling through his eyes at the brunette laying on him. He had to take another deep inhale as he could still feel her head upon his chest and the smell of her hair in his nostrils. '…Because I will have you by my side,' the memory continued, 'and yes, there are plenty of things I wanted to do, but now I don't have to do them on my own. I'll have a wife, and a child as it seems, that I can make proud when I do succeed in them. And I take it lightly because I know you, Hermione. I've seen you with Teddy, and you'll be an excellent mother.'

There was a pause in his head. 'You - you actually want me to be the mother of your children?' Malfoy could still hear the astonishment in Hermione's voice. '…Do you think we can make this work?"

'Granger,' Draco's voice spoke again in his head, this time sounding further away; like it was not reflecting off the walls of his brain or playing behind his eyelids, but instead playing in a faraway room that the words were hard to figure out. 'I don't have the choice to decide, you'll be it any way. But, yes, I'm glad that it will be you…Because together, we can make it work.' And even as the memory was fading from his head, he knew he meant every single word.

He always had, always.

Ding.

The door to the elevator opened and Draco pushed a couple of small wizards dressed in navy robes aside as he rushed out of the doors. His breath became hallow and his heart beat rapidly with fear running in his veins as he continued his hurried path towards his destination. (He had a couple of moments to get there. There was no time to be considerate at any wizard or witches that crossed him.)

'Mmm, Malfoy,' as the blonde wizard kept racing down the tiled floor underneath his feet, another memory played in his head. One that seemed more excruciating, more painful than anything as he inhaled the cold air of the building and his heart seemed to lurch as the voices started speaking. 'It's time to get up now.'

'Make me,' Draco heard himself hiss, the sound of ruffling bed-sheets and the mattress squeaking as a body tossed played in his ears.

'Come on, Draco,' Hermione drawled with a bit of amusement in her voice, a tiny bit annoyance mixing as she called him. There was always a sense of bliss when she spoke his name then, he could tell even from the memory. It was almost as if the world was alright when she said it. Like the barriers that kept them together long ago suddenly never existed. 'It's past eleven, and if McGonagall notices that we're not among the other students, she will come search for us.'

Draco heard himself scoff with a sleepy tone. 'It's a bloody Saturday. Can't the old hag shove off for a day?'

'No,' Malfoy could already see the eye-roll that the Gryffindor gave, even as his eyes were wide open and he raced down a flight of stairs. 'Now, quit being a whiny brat and get up. We've got to go to Blaise's rehearsal dinner.'

'He's getting married, he's already screwed. Why must there be a need to practice getting fucked over for?'

'Fine then,' the witch sighed inside of Draco's head, 'lay here until you stop being a complete flobberworm, and wait to meet McGonagall's outraged eyes when she finds you in that very naked state that you're in. And once she bans you from our chamber, you can forget about me ever laying a hand on you again.'

Inside of the Slytherin's head, Malfoy opened his eyes largely and cast a shocked look at his fiancée. He stared at her glowing figure with mesmerized eyes for a few silent seconds. (He couldn't deny that wrapped in the sheets, completely naked and with her brown curls a complete mess is when the Gryffindor Princess looked more beautiful than ever to him. Beautiful in her natural state, that is.). 'Wait, what? You…You're actually acknowledging this?'

Hermione tossed on her side of the mattress, turning slowly towards Draco's wide eyes. The memory of the sheets ruffling against her body echoed roughly as he was still running. 'Well, it's sort of hard to deny this, Malfoy. I mean, what if one is to ask me how I lost my virginity? I can't simply reply 'I dunno where it went. I must've lost it when I was flying that Dragon while escaping Gringotts last year. I knew it was flying too fast!' Come on now, Malfoy, I thought you were smarter than that.'

Draco could see the memory of him scowl at the naked brunette looking at him with mock amusement. 'Have you always been this carefree about sex? My, my, my. The Gryffindor Goody-Too-Shoe's is a loose wench. Who would've thought that underneath all those layers of robes and bird's nest you call hair there was actually an attractive witch?'

'Don't make me curse you, Malfoy. It'll be quite embarrassing for you, believe me, if they find you naked with your white ass in the air and your manly bits barely hanging on.'

'Oh, now they bother you, do they, Granger?' Draco's huff echoed around. 'Because they certainty didn't with your bestiality yesterday evening, begging for more.'

He could see her behind his open eyelids, her face a light pink as she looked a little embarrassed and ill-eased. '…Was it that bad?'

There was another pause in his memory, her face washing out for a quick moment as Malfoy jumped over bucket and mop as he heard another witch yell after him.

"—Sir! Excuse me, you need a pass!"

"Call down a security member, Daisy!" An old man that was glaring after Malfoy's running trail hissed as no one made an attempt to stop the insolent teenager. "For Merlin's sake, woman, do your ruddy job! That boy might be trying to kill one of us!"

"He's just a boy, Frank, honestly," the woman named Daisy sighed from her desk. "Besides, he's heading towards the Minister's office, the guards won't allow him to pass there without permission."

The old man glared at her, his wrinkles deepening. "This is why this place is going down the loo! In my times—"

"In your times, Frank, there was no Ministry and people ran around acting like a pack of trolls!"

The rest of the conversation between the Ministry workers was lost when Hermione's flushed face entered his mind as he didn't stop running. '—Of course not, Granger. How can you even say that?'

'I…' she flushed more.

Malfoy stopped in one of the vacant halls, taking in a long breath and trying to dim the pain piercing his left side as small beads of sweat started collecting themselves on his forehead. The collar of his white shirt twisted in odd angles as he pulled on it, trying to take in more of the air that he had lost during his ongoing run.

'I…I just,' she cleared her throat, speaking again nervously, 'I want you to know that I….'

'Do you regret it?' He heard himself ask her, cutting across her. He closed his eyelids, just to see the vague image of his arm stretching towards her; his fingers running on her cheek softly.

'No, I can't say that I do.' Malfoy had to make himself start running again as the memory of the Gryffindor's smile played in his head. An urge to scream filled his chest. 'You don't regret it, right? I know you've had your fair share of experiences, mind you, and that I haven't had a clue with what I was doing—'

'Shut up, Hermione.' Draco saw one of his fingers move from her cheek and onto her lips; silencing her completely. 'Look, whatever you heard around the halls of this ruddy castle is not entirely true, alright. I mean, sure, I've been known to be an incredibly handsome bloke to many, but,' Draco could see Hermione's brown eyes rolling in annoyance at his comment, '..but nothing has ever meant so much to me like you and this.'

'Really?' Hermione's voice echoed inside of Malfoy's head as she mumbled behind his finger.

'…Yes,' Draco whispered back, and he could see himself leaning towards the flushed brunette to capture her lips.

The memory after their first time together, their first intimate moment ever shared between them that allowed them to be true to what they were starting to feel for one another faded from his head, the voices disappearing too as Draco focused all his brainpower to clutch his palms into fists as the urge to scream became harder to contain.

It had been the perfect moment—the moment to tell her that he loved her more than anything. It was the perfect moment, he had known, since she had surrendered her virtue to him, something that no girl had ever done before. He had never been graced with someone's complete trust, with someone's complete faith that they will be okay in his arms until she came along. She had been he first, regardless of the other witches.

Hermione had been the first, that first of his everything pure.

She had been the first person that he ever held in his arms and actually enjoyed the feel of her soft skin on his as he allowed himself to embrace her closely. She had been the first that gave him the angst feeling whenever she would leave; the first he had ever counted the minutes for until she was back and he was sure of her safety. She had been the first that stared lovingly into his eyes, with a complete faithfulness and high-expectations for him; like he was that great person that he had locked down deep inside.

She was the first he had ever fell in love with, the first person he would ever trust his life, soul, heart, and everything with.

'No, I understand perfectly,' a new, a much more painful memory than all the warm ones he'd seen behind his open eyes played now. 'I might have been stupid before, but my hearing is perfectly fine, Malfoy! I will not give you the satisfaction of watching me trail after you like a ruddy cat. I'm done. You wanted to play with me? Well think twice, Malfoy! I've hexed cowards who've tried to hurt me before, don't think I'll hesitate to do it to you!"

He loved her with such intensity, and he had hurt her. Crushed her into the lowest depths possible.

'Are you mental?' It was that flashback, the last one he had of her. 'How can you believe that after everything we've progressed together? I thought you knew me!'

'Oh, please! I've gotten to know who you wanted me to know!'

Malfoy pulled out his wand, staring at the guard in front of the main office that was talking animatedly with a young secretary in the front desk; the witch batting her eyelashes at him flirtatiously. Her giggles and his want-to-be masculine chuckles mixed together as he eyed them carefully, preparing his attack.

And after a few more seconds as the guard was completely enthralled by the young witch, Malfoy pointed his wand and shouted, "Expelliarmus!"

"Walter!" The secretary screeched and stared with her jaw dropped as the skilled Auror landed on his back; completely knocked out. (Twenty points to Slytherin. Clearly Malfoy had been paying attention in his classes.) "What do you think you're doing? You can't go in there!"

'I'm done...I will present myself at the Ministry and give up my magic and erase my memories.'

Bang.

The door to the Minister's office burst open and Draco Malfoy entered it with his wand raised high, his eyes scouting the place frantically.

"Ah, Mister Malfoy—" Kingsley Shacklebolt, looking as calm as always, raised himself off of his chair and smiled dimly at the teenaged boy. "What a lovely surprise, I never thought I'd see you around here any time soon."

Draco glared, instantly infuriated by the patience and ease on his face. (What the hell was he trying to do? Be a cheap, dark, imitation of Dumbledore?) "Where is she?" He snapped at him, not wanting to play games with him.

"Where is who?"

"Do not act daft with me, Minister," he raised his wand higher at the man, ignoring the rapid steps coming behind him. (Curse that bloody, flirting, secretary! If he made it out of here in one piece and with his fiancée, he was going to be writing a letter of complaint to the Governors.) "Where's Hermione? Harry sent me a Patronous. He told me she would be here."

The foots steps were much louder, the doors of the Minister's office banging open.

"Did he now?" Kingsley raised his arms in the air, the sleeves of his robes sliding back and revealing his dark arms as he motioned for the gathering Aurors to get out of his office. "Well, that's very generous of Mister Potter, isn't it?"

Draco still kept his glare, not replying to him as his wand was still raised high.

The Minister narrowed his dark eyes, his patience still there. "I do suggest, Mister Malfoy, that you exit my office in a calm manner before you do something you'll regret. Now, the Ministry has let you live your life out of a cell of Azkaban for your choices in the past, without any question or trail if you remember clearly, but we will not tolerate any harm to the members of this office."

"Does it honestly look like I care?" Draco hissed, not concerned from the heat brewing in the back of his neck as he felt a wand-tip being jabbed into his skin. "I won't mind spending my life in Azkaban, but I want to know where she is."

Kingsley crossed his dark arms. "I don't think I can help you, Mister Malfoy."

"I want to see Hermione!" Malfoy growled, a thick knot forming inside his throat as he snarled impatiently. (Poor Kingsley, he better hurry and answer before he gets slammed against the floor like his guard.) "Now!"

"Mister Malfoy," the Minister glared, still waving his hands at the Aurors gathering behind the teenaged boy; ready to attack, "leaving the formalities aside and speaking as someone who's very fond of Hermione, I strongly suggest you leave and let her complete her decision. Don't you think that you've already caused enough damage to the girl to try and keep adding more? I do regret greatly that she has chosen this method, it will be hard forgetting such a brilliant and noble person alike her, but it is for the best."

Draco felt his eye-sockets burn, his chest ache and his body fill with pressured pain. "No, it's not," he spat nastily, "I'm what's best for her."

Kingsley placed on a confused expression on his face. "Why is that, Mister Malfoy?"

Inhaling deeply, trying not to shed any tears in front of the man, Draco said low and clear, "because I love her."

"—Minister, the task is done," exiting from a small room inside of the Minister's office, from the other side of a door that Draco didn't see as he rushed in there, a tall man held on to the arm of a drowsy-looking brunette. The Boy-Who-Lived behind them.

"Malfoy," Harry Potter called, looking at him with wide eyes as he saw the wand pointed at Kingsley's face.

'Give me a reason, Malfoy,' Draco heard his once arch-enemy's voice burst inside of his head; another memory, 'a solid reason to help you and I may consider it.'

Lowering his wand from the Minister, feeling the wand behind his neck vanish as he took a shaky step towards the brunette, Draco whispered a quivering, "….Hermione?"

The witch stared at him, her eyes glistening with tears and a potion glass hanging limply between her palms.

'I love her.'

Hermione knitted her eyebrows together, blinking a couple of times at the blonde wizard that tried to step closer to her with the force of the Aurors behind him every step. "Do I know you?"

Draco's wand slipped from his fingers and that scream that he'd been trying to contain as he ran down to the Minister's office, as he ran as fast as he could with only puffs of air inside his lungs as he raced with time, escaped violently from the pit of his chest and exploded out of his lips.

It was over. Hermione Granger was gone for good, all her memories nothing.

And soon enough, she wouldn't even be a memory to him either as the potion would make effect and erase her from all their lives.

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