"And where exactly do you think you're going?"
Hermione struggled to keep up with Draco, who was rushing through the busy streets, his head low. He had snatched a hat from a distracted pedestrian and also pick-pocketed a lady who was on her phone, passing Hermione a pair of sunglasses. Normally, she would have scolded him, berated him for his reckless behavior, but his petty theft was not the priority at the moment.
Draco didn't respond, and from being behind him, she could not see him frowning in deep thought, his dark brows crinkled and his lips pursed. Suddenly he stopped, causing Hermione to crash into his back, and also upsetting quite a few muggles.
"Malfoy, what're you-"
Draco abruptly turned to the right, and headed towards a little inn tucked between a washer service and a cafe. Hermione wanted to just yank him to a stop and get him to explain his actions and what he was thinking, but that would cause too much ruckus, and they could not afford to gain attention.
Stepping into the motel, the 2 of them looked around curiously. It was a very modest, humble inn. The facade was modern but plain, and thankfully it was clean and quiet. Cream walls with green curtains and brown furnishing, Draco scrunched his nose in distaste whereas Hermione smiled at how adorably simple the place was. There was a small reception counter, where a middle-aged man sat, reading a book.
Hermione had never noticed the motel when she had visited New York, and this very street, with her parents, probably because that was ages ago, and she could not remember a lot from that vacation for she was too young.
Oh but how she wish she did…
She turned to see that Malfoy had already gone up to the receptionist, confidently leaning against the counter.
"We'd like a room."
Quickly, Hermione joined his side, awkwardly smiling at Paul, the name on the receptionist's tag.
"How many nights?" Paul spoke with his typical New-Yorker accent. Draco thought for a moment before responding.
"May I have your name, Sir?" Paul spoke as he scribbled down something in his notebook.
Hermione had to bite her tongue to stop herself from laughing, and subtly elbowed Malfoy in the ribs, to which he merely gave her his signature smirk, which caused her to roll her eyes and involuntarily smile. And suddenly, a thought occurred to her.
Since when was she so…playful with Malfoy?
"What a cute couple, the 2 of you are."
Draco and Hermione whipped their heads to stare at Paul, who was smiling cheekily at them.
Hermione was about to protest, to say that was absurd, to tell Paul that he was completely off his rocker to assume she and Malfoy were a couple, when she felt an arm slide around her waist, tugging her towards Malfoy's side.
It took every fiber of Hermione's self-control to not stare wide-eyed at Malfoy in shock, but she had to admit, it felt nice having his arm there, and leaning against his side, his spicy scent filling her senses again and…no…stop it!
"Oh, give me a moment."
Paul temporarily turned around to search for an available room key in his drawers behind him, and Hermione seized the opportunity to nudge Draco angrily.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" She whispered harshly, glaring at him as he refused to take his arm away from her waist.
Draco rolled his eyes and Hermione could feel his arm shift awkwardly, loosening his grip but not completely releasing her.
"Oh please Granger, don't flatter yourself. I'm not enjoying this as well. But we're undercover on a mission, so I suggest we start acting as normal as possible, unless you want the Death Eaters to serve you up as dessert to darling Voldy."
Hermione turned to Paul, who was still shuffling through his drawer, and then turned back to Draco.
"I don't see why normalcy has to equate to us being a couple! It's the complete opposite in fact!"
"I couldn't agree more, but that's only to us, not to the oblivious muggle idiots. To them, it is not normal for a man and a woman to share a night in a motel room, unless they're a couple. So for your own sake Granger, just shut up and play along."
Hermione was just about to respond when Paul had turned back around, holding the key ready in his hand. Draco had plastered on his fake smile, holding Hermione close to him again, leaving her no choice but to smile as well and try to appear as inconspicuous as possible.
"So how long have you 2 been together?" Paul asked curiously.
"Around a year, give or take a few days."
Draco was replying so easily and smoothly, as if he was actually speaking the truth, and Hermione could only stand there, forcing her lips into a smile, trying to look completely natural and happy in the arms of freaking Malfoy.
"How did you 2 get together?" Paul leaned his elbows against the counter, looking very interested in learning all about Draco and Hermione's relationship. Hermione nearly groaned.
Why did this nosy bugger have so many questions!?
"That's a very interesting story. Actually, dear Pansy was the one who pursued me."
Hermione couldn't contain a scoff and eyed Draco in shock, which caused him to tug her closer to himself and chuckle.
"Yes, oh she was crazy over me. Kept begging me to be with her. Finally I caved in, after months of her desperately trying to get me to accept her. Couldn't break her heart by rejecting her, am I right, Pans?"
Hermione feigned a ditsy laugh, stomping down hard on his foot, causing him to dig his nails into her side, and she had to bite her tongue to resist yelping.
"Well if you didn't take her, I definitely would have given the chance."
Hermione turned and noticed Paul looking her up and down, a certain look in his eyes that reminded her of how Donghai looked at her back in China. Except this time, she was not purposely trying to lead Paul on, and she couldn't help but squirm under his lustful gaze.
She felt herself being tugged closer to Malfoy, his arm wrapped a little tighter around her waist, and she looked up to find him glaring at Paul.
"Well that's too bad because she is taken. Now, the keys please."
Paul quickly looked away from Hermione, and handed the keys over to Draco, getting red in the face at being caught looking at her like that. He cleared his throat, scribbling down something in his book but this time, shakily.
"R-right, that would be 50 dollars for 1 night."
Draco turned to Hermione, and she quickly dug through her little bag, pulling out some notes. Arthur Weaseley had enchanted the money so that it would appear to be any currency that Draco and Hermione needed it to be. However, before Hermione could hand the money to Paul, Draco took the money from her and then gave it himself.
Malfoy maintained his hardy stare as he nodded curtly and guided Hermione away from the counter and towards the lift, pressing the button forcefully. It was then that Hermione noticed that his arm was still around her waist, and she bit her lip, clearing her throat awkwardly, to which Draco quickly stepped away, disappointing Hermione a tad bit.
Stepping into the room, Hermione made a bee line to the bed and flopped down on it, huffing in the process as she bounced a little. Draco, meanwhile, sat down at the desk and removed his hat, running his hand through his hair, causing her to stare as his fingers moved smoothly through his silk locks, unable to tear her eyes away.
Hermione cursed mentally, looking away quickly, feeling the heat seep into her cheeks.
This must have been the hundredth time Malfoy had caught her looking at him.
What was wrong with her?!
"So, um, h-how did you know about this place?"
Hermione frowned in confusion.
"I spotted it while we were walking, and thought we could use the rest." Draco replied as he unbuttoned his coat.
"Well, where we heading before you saw this place then? You seemed to know where you were going."
Draco sighed, draping his coat on the chair and running a hand over his tired his face.
"My father knows someone here. His old friend. He lives at Park Avenue."
Hermione took in a breath, a question popping into her mind, but she did not know how to put it delicately. As if he could read her thoughts, Draco shook his head.
"No, he's not a Death Eater. He was much too cowardly. But he might know Peter Grimgory, I heard the American wizard community is quite close."
Hermione nodded, soaking in the information.
"But…are you sure he wouldn't turn us in? I mean, if he is your father's friend, surely he's aware of what's happening concurrently in the Wizarding World, and that you're a…a Death Eater."
"Nah, he won't turn us in. He hates my father now, so if we tell him we're against Voldemort, he'll definitely support us."
"Still, I don't know Malfoy, it's a risk…"
"Granger, just trust me."
Draco looked sincerely at Hermione, causing her to hold her breath and nod shakily. The way his eyes captured hers, his walls let down for that brief second, made Hermione's heart do a little flip. Normally, she would never trust a Malfoy. But his eyes were just so honest, so genuine, that she knew he was not lying to her, and he was definitely not going to betray her.
That was a very strong judgement to make, and Hermione mentally slapped herself. This was Malfoy she was talking about.
Yes, he had deflected to the right side.
Yes, he was no longer a threat.
But to trust him wholeheartedly was still a very big leap of faith, and now was certainly not the time to fall and get hurt.
Hermione snapped out of her thoughts, and looked at Malfoy, who had conjured a bed a little further from hers and was now sitting on it. He had also transfigured his suit into silky grey pajamas.
"You alright? You were chewing your lip again."
"Y-yeah, I'm fine."
Draco chuckled, not a sardonic chuckle, not a sarcastic or a belittling chuckle, but chuckled in amusement, and Hermione swore the smile on his face was the most dashing smile she had ever seen on a man.
"You keep that up, your lip's going to be gone one day."
With that, he lay down and just when Hermione thought that was the end of that, he spoke 2 more words which made her smile.