Chapter 14 - Initium
Hermione was freezing when she woke up.
The sun was shining extra bright through her window and she could feel her ribs pressing uncomfortably into the cold stone floor of her bedroom. Oh god, I must’ve fallen out of bed in my sleep. Wait-. The floor of her room isn’t stone, its wood planks with a rug, and her window was west facing not east, so the rising sun shouldn’t be shining into her room.
She peeled her eyes fully open, her mind still foggy with sleep and the remnants of the tequila she’d drank last night. When she caught sight of the telescopes lining a wall of the tower, the memories of the night before came rushing back. All too quickly, Hermione realized that her head was in fact not resting on a pillow, but actually on someone’s torso. It only took her another second or two to remember that that someone was in fact the Slytherin Head Boy.
Moving cautiously so as not to jostle him too much, she very quietly and slowly untangled her limbs from his and sat up to check the time on her wand. 6 am thank Merlin. She let out a relieved sigh and tucked her wand back into her sleeve. Bracing herself for whatever mood he was bound to be in, Hermione gently jostled Malfoy’s shoulder.
“Fuck off Theo” he grumbled quietly, rolling away from her and covering his eyes with his arm. She rolled her eyes and tried again.
“Oh for Godric’s sake Malfoy, wake up. We should get back to the dorm before there are students in the halls, and after sleeping on the ground all night my muscles are in need of a hot shower before breakfast.”
She saw in his body language the moment he registered who exactly was speaking; all of his muscles tensed, and he inhaled sharply. Malfoy slowly removed his arm from his face and groggily propped himself up into a sitting position, rubbing the remnants of sleep from his eyes. He looked ridiculously handsome for having just woken up. With his heavy hooded eyes and the messy blonde waves in his hair; she felt suddenly self-conscious, and half-heartedly attempted to flatten her hair
Hermione smiled hesitantly at him, not sure what to expect after everything they’d said and done the night before. He cleared his throat awkwardly, looking away from her and out at the morning sun.
“Granger,” his voice was raspy from sleep still, she found it unreasonably attractive. “About last night...” he trailed off, looking uncertain about what exactly he wanted to say.
“It’s alright Malfoy, I won’t tell anyone about your moment of weakness cozying up to the swotty mudblood. We can just pretend it never happened, if you want.” She offered, wanting to spare herself the humiliation of him saying it himself. He frowned, giving her a look that was confused, and maybe sad?
She allowed herself a moment to just look at him, they’d never sat face-to-face before like this without one throwing sneers or insults in the other’s direction. He had always been very handsome -Hermione thought so, even in their younger years -. Malfoy was all edges; with high cheekbones, a sharp jawline and a pointed chin. His complexion had perpetually puzzled her. Despite his ghostly pallor; his white-blonde hair and cool grey eyes suited him perfectly. The slight pink tinge of his cheeks from the cold of the morning made him look younger.
“Is that what you want? You’ve a lot more to lose than me if the rumor of you and an ex-death eater gets out.” His voice interrupted her observations.
“I don’t see you as an ex-death eater Malfoy.” She told him honestly. “You’re just someone who did bad things because it seemed like the only option; and when you stop trying your damndest to be a royal prick, I actually quite like your company. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t particularly want to pretend that last night never happened. Plus,” she joked “it’s been a few months since I’ve given old Skeeter some gossip to write about me.”
“I don’t want to pretend either, spending the last five weeks lying to myself was quite enough for me.”
He smiled at her while he talked, and Hermione realized she didn’t think she’d ever seen Draco Malfoy smile before. It looked nice on him. She shyly reached for his hand and interlaced her fingers with his.
“The thing is, I’ve spent the last seven years doing everything for everyone else -Harry, Ron, my parents, the entirety of the wizarding world-, if this, us, is something you want too, I’m not going to waste time doing it by halves.” Malfoy seemed a little bit confused, so she clarified. “I don’t share Malfoy. Not when it comes to relationships; I’m possessive, I get jealous and I don’t like others trying to take what’s mine.” She pulled her hand away to make it easier if he said no and looked at him expectantly. “That’s it, all my cards are on the table. If you want to give us a try, I do too.”
He reached out and took her hand back in his, before he looked into her eyes. His facial expression was serious, and she felt a prickle of anxiety in her chest.
“I’m all in Granger. I’ve been all in since the first time I kissed you in the hallway that night, I think it just took me a while to realize it myself.” He wrapped both of his hands around the one of hers he was holding and squeezed it gently as he kept talking, his voice solemn. “There is one thing though. We would have to keep us a secret,” her displeasure at this must have been clear on her face because he added on quickly “not forever, just until we graduate.”
Malfoy let out a resigned sigh and pulled her into him until she was sitting between his legs, forehead pressed into his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. He spoke against the top of her head as he continued explaining.
“My father controls my inheritance still. Until I turn 19 this summer, he can legally disown me or have me locked up for insanity or basically anything else he pleases.”
“Well that’s that then.” She declared with a tone of finality. Lifting her head and placing a chaste kiss on his lips. “We’ll just have to keep it a secret for now, no biggie. Now get up we have to get back to our dorm, won’t do us any good if the first day we get caught sneaking out of the astronomy tower together.”
“I suppose since you told me I should tell you Granger.” He was straightening his robes as he spoke, attempting to flatten out some of the creases he’d acquired while sleeping in them. “Just because nobody can know about us doesn’t mean you’re any less mine. I’m a spoiled only child and I’ve never been known to share my toys.”
She smiled at his words, extending her hand for him to take as they descended the stairs. The two headed away from the tower towards the Head’s dorm, Hermione walking a bit ahead of him and holding his hand behind her back down the quiet halls.
“So I was thinking,” Granger was leaning against the doorframe of the bathroom -toothbrush in hand- watching him tie the laces on his dress shoes. She was freshly showered with flushed cheeks and still dripping hair. “we probably should try calling each other by our first names, you know if we’re going to try and do this whole relationship thing properly.”
“You mean your first name isn’t Granger? Are you sure?” He feigned ignorance as he shrugged on his robes, leaving them open for now, but couldn’t help but smirk when she scoffed loudly.
“I’m serious Malf- Draco. C’mon give it a try.” Draco liked the way his name sounded when she said it. The only people who used his first name were his family, Pansy, and occasionally his friends. In his opinion, it sounded much better coming out of her mouth.
“Okay but here’s the issue,” He patted himself for his wand, making sure it was tucked into the pocket of his robes where he usually kept it. ”Hermione is such a mouthful to say.” His smirk only grew when he caught her eye roll as she turned to return her toothbrush to the holder by the sink.
“I’m terribly sorry my name is such an inconvenience to you.” Her tone was thick with sarcasm as she walked into the common room with her school bag.
“Your apology is much appreciated Granger.” She pouted at him playfully when he used her surname.
“I’m going to breakfast now, see you around the castle I suppose.” She was right in front of him now. Granger -Hermione he corrected himself- pushed herself up onto her tiptoes and pressed her lips against his. Draco brought his arm around her waist to pull her body flush against his. He was the first to break their kiss but kept her pressed up against him as he rested his chin on top of her head.
“How am I supposed to keep my hands off you huh Granger?” He teased, squeezing her tighter. “I’ve only just started being allowed to touch you; I never want to stop.” She wiggled out of his embrace with a laugh.
“I’m sure you can manage until tonight. Don’t be so dramatic.” She kissed his cheek chastely before she walked towards the exit of the common.
“I’m not happy you’re leaving, but the sight of you doing so is rather lovely.” He called after her cheekily as he ogled at her. Her laughs echoed around the room for a moment after the door closed behind her. He went about making gathering his books and parchment and shoving them into his bag before leaving the dorm and heading to breakfast.
His walk to the great hall was unusually pleasant. He wasn’t hungover for the first time in a long time, and he felt content knowing that there would be a witch -his witch- waiting for him at the end of the day. His mood was so improved today, that Draco even felt inclined to stop on his way and rescue a first year Ravenclaw from Peeves’ antics.
His good mood was destined to be short-lived, however. He walked through the double doors of the great hall and headed straight to his usual seat without looking around at the other tables. All of his friends were already present at breakfast except for Nott, who oddly was usually the first to arrive. He greeted them all as he took his seat across from Zabini.
“Where’s Nott this morning? Daphne got him tied to her bed again?” He joked, pouring himself a cup of tea and grabbing some toast off a plate in front of him.
“Oh no,” Zabini drawled with a smirk “it’s much funnier than that.” He gestured with his head to the Gryffindor table. Draco’s hold on his butter knife tightened until his knuckles were white when he finally found his friend among the sea of students. He was sitting at the Gryffindor’s table beside Hermione, with his arm thrown over her shoulder.
He watched tensely as Nott leaned in to whisper something in her ear, and Draco felt his knuckles pop from gripping his cutlery so tight when she laughed at whatever he said. She looked comfortable sitting next to him, in his embrace. His blood boiled under his skin and he could feel his magic cracking angrily at his fingertips.
“Isn’t it hilarious?” He heard Zabini ask, his voice was muddled by the pounding in his ears. “Figures it would be Nott who would try and cozy up to Gryffindor’s resident mudblood.” The rest of his friends laughed at this, but he didn’t respond or react. Draco was too busy watching the way she leaned into him slightly as she reached across the table, and the way he pushed a stray curl away from her face when she turned to look at him.
Forgetting about his breakfast entirely, he got up from the table and grabbed his bag, throwing it over his shoulder and storming out of the hall without another thought. He heard his friends calling after him, but he ignored them, opting to be early for potions rather than stay.