A Dragon and a Phoenix

Chapter 26

Back in the quiet comfort of my bedroom, I showered and changed. Lying across the bed, my mind began to wander. A few months ago, if someone had told me this was where I would be, I would have laughed at their stupidity. What's even stranger is the difference in Draco. He's still haughty and arrogant, and he still behaves in an aloof manner, however, there's so much more that isn't the same. I never would have thought that he could be so insightful or thoughtful. Without the expectations on his behavior, I was seeing a glimpse of who he could be if allowed. His father wasn't here anymore to drill hatred of others into him, and his groupies weren't here to encourage his smaller, meaner traits. Under different circumstances, it could even be said that I prefer his company, but things are out of my control and it seems we will never have the opportunity to see what might be on its own. I wished that I could explain to him how much I liked the good things about him. Sure, everyone likes to think of Slytherins as the "evil" ones, but really, it isn't true. The fact is that most of us have a serious sense of self preservation, and we tend to disregard the rules and go for what we want, but that doesn't make us all evil dark witches and wizards. We're just not the pushovers that the Hufflepuffs are, and personally I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Excusing myself not long after Kim left, I wandered back upstairs and lingered by her door; caught between my desire to see if she's alright and knowing that I should probably leave her alone. After pacing for a few moments, I retreated to my own room, resigned to give her some time to herself. But even after taking a shower and going to bed all I could do was toss and turn. I used to want her just because she was so spirited and hated me so much. I wanted to prove to her and to myself that she really wanted me too. Girls like Pansy were a dime a dozen. They flock to the wealthiest, most powerful families and burned themselves up like moths in a flame. Kim was her own flame and I was the one burning in it without even realizing it.

Finally, with a frustrated growl, I got up to go see her. "I'll never sleep if I don't," I grudgingly admitted to myself.

I realized that I wasn't going to get any sleep and decided that I might as well see if he was still awake. As much as I hated to admit it, I wanted his company. In a short time, I'd become comfortable with him, and accustomed to his steady presence.

Outside the warmth of my room, it was a bit drafty in the corridor. Lighting my wand, I padded silently to his door. Just as I raised my hand to knock, the door swung open and I was greeted by a startled Draco. He was sporting a look of mild irritation that quickly changed to a cocky half smile.

"Coming to say goodnight," he raised his eyebrow suggestively.

"Ha!" I scoffed, "You wish."

Yeah, I do.

"I couldn't sleep, and I thought you might still be up as well," I explained. "But you were going somewhere, so I'll just meet you in the library in the morning." I turned to go back to my room, inwardly cringing at my own stupidity for having gotten out of bed in the first place.

"Wait," he said, grasping my arm to stop me. "I was actually going to your room. I wanted to know if you were alright after dinner. I didn't want to disturb you earlier, but I couldn't sleep either so I thought I'd see if you were still awake as well," he admitted.

Turning back, I gave him a small smile. "Apparently great minds do think alike."

He took my hand, pulling me inside the door. "Come in here before you freeze," he smirked.

It was more like an apartment than anything. We were standing in a lavishly furnished sitting room. To the left was a door through which I glimpsed bookshelves and a large desk, clearly this was his own private study. We didn't linger here, though. Walking through the sitting room, we entered his bedroom. Evidently, it was situated at the end of the wing and spanned the entire width. Windows on either side afforded expansive and impressive views of the grounds, and both were adorned with large balconies. On one side a large fire crackled in the corner fireplace. Two chairs sat angled toward the warmth and set further apart was a sizeable four poster bed.

I half expected him to lead me to the bed, but he surprised me and took me to the chairs by the fireplace instead. I sat with my legs curled under me, grateful for the warmth of the fire after the chill of the hallway. Here, we lost track of time.

Draco was witty and funny. Behind his restrained public face, he was so much more than I could have guessed. He laughed easily, and I found that a genuine smile only made him that much more attractive. It was everything his trademark sneer wasn't. His eyes glittered with secret laugher that made you want to know everything he was thinking. We talked for hours about everything and nothing, and I realized that the people we were at Hogwarts, the struggle for power between us, the marriage contracts, and the fighting had nothing to do with us right now. Yes, he was ambitious and clever, sly and determined, but those were just a few of the traits that made up the whole, and by the time the fire burned low, and I couldn't stifle the yawns any longer, something had changed.

"We should get some sleep. You'll be drooling on the books later instead of helping me find something useful," he joked. He stood and took my hand, pulling me to my feet.

"I don't drool," I insisted with feigned indignation, shoving him playfully.

Still holding my hand, he caught my other wrist as I shoved him and laughing, drew me into an embrace. There we stood, in the fading light of the fire. I wrapped my arms around his lean muscular frame and rested my head on his shoulder, enjoying the quiet moment.

He yawned and I chuckled, "We should go to bed, otherwise you'll be asleep on your feet in a minute."

Reluctantly, I drew back and released him. I could feel his gaze as he watched me walk to the bed and settle comfortably before looking back at him. He stood where I had left him with a raised brow, silently questioning my actions. I smiled and held out a hand, beckoning him to me.

He crossed the room and slipped into bed next to me, curling an arm around my waist and pulling me against him. My shoulders pressed against his chest, his leg draped possessively over mine, he kissed my shoulder whispering a soft goodnight.

Mere minutes passed before her breathing slowed and evened out. I stayed awake for a while watching her sleep, thinking. I could almost forget everything when I was with her. She had a way of making me laugh like no one else could. She was intelligent, spirited, and stubborn. Since we had been at the manor, things had changed. Eventually I went to sleep as well. We slept late, and though I had half expected her to be gone, she remained at my side still dozing peacefully.

I felt him shifting beside me and as he called my name to wake me up, I couldn't help but think that I'd rather stay right where I was instead of getting up to face the day.

"You're not fooling anyone. I know you're awake. We need to get back to our search. Your mum and dad will be arriving in the morning and this is probably the last bit of uninterrupted time we'll get," he said.

Heaving a resigned sigh, I opened my eyes and shoved the blankets away. Getting out of the warm, comfortable bed and turning back to Draco, I answered, "You're right. I honestly don't expect to find anything at this point, though. I'm going to go get changed. Meet you at my door in fifteen?"

He agreed, and I left quickly to get dressed. In my sitting room, I found two owls vying for my attention. Kat and Mother had both written.

Kim,

I hope you're having a lovely holiday. Dad surprised us with a trip to France this year! I'll be spending New Year's Eve at the Eiffel Tower. I've asked if you and Sara can join us for the celebrations and everything has been set up. Let me know if you can join me. Hope to see you here!

Kat

With a pang of guilt, I realized that I hadn't written either of my friends since arriving at Malfoy Manor. I'd be lying to myself if I said I hadn't had time. I had just been living in my own private bubble, and even that was a poor excuse.

Sitting down at the desk, I quickly replied telling her that I would have to check with my parents, but considering that we were out of town as well, I might not be able to make it. Sadly, I sent her owl back with my less than happy response and returned to the next letter. This one, I regarded with contempt. What could my mother possibly have to say to me now? After all ignoring all of the letters that I wrote, and considering that she would be here tomorrow, what could she possibly have to tell me that she couldn't just say in person?

Kimberly,

As you know, your father and I will be joining you at Malfoy Manor. I thought that I should let you know ahead of time that your brother will not be with us. We thought it best to send Dakoda to stay with your Aunt Elizabeth for the holidays. I know you were expecting to see him, but you don't need anything to distract you from the task at hand. We have a lot of planning to do in a very short time. Perhaps he can join us before you return to school, assuming we get everything done in a timely manner. We'll be arriving at 10AM tomorrow.

Mother

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