Playing with Fire

Chapter 23: You weren't here

Song: WTF Are We Talking For - Labrinth

Hermione received Bopsy’s special “mudblood” chocolate chip pancakes every day for the next month. At that point, the “mudblood” wasn’t even what bothered her anymore. She never thought she would see the day, but she was a bit sick of pancakes at that point.

But being sick of pancakes was the least of Hermione’s concerns.

It had been a month since she read about the bombing of the Ministry of Magic in the Daily Prophet. They had attributed it to the Incendiaries - blaming the group for every last death that occurred that day.

It wasn’t lost on her that Malfoy could’ve died in the attack, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it.

She had a hard time believing the Incendiaries were responsible - not if they were fighting for good. The only other answer in her mind was that this was a different group of resistance members altogether.

The friends she grew up with would never bomb a building with hundreds of witches and wizards inside. Would never risk lives like that.

Malfoy was working from home in his study, and it was rare that he even left the room. He almost never left the Manor these days either.

It wasn’t hard to believe that he was meant to be killed in the attack. After all, he was the Minister of Magic. He wouldn’t tell her how he survived it, but that was no surprise considering he rarely answered any questions she posed.

Hermione did the best she could to distract herself by spending her days in the library, fantasizing she lived in another life, another world.

After that first night in the library with Lucius, he decided that would be their regular meeting place for the foreseeable future. This was even more convenient for Hermione because it meant she didn’t have to leave her literature-filled safe haven until she went to bed.

Each evening at 6pm, a tray of tea would appear on the center round table for the two of them, they would read, discuss it, then he would leave. It was odd to be interpreting the deeper meanings of fictional works with Lucius Malfoy, but she quite enjoyed it, and he seemed to as well. Each day he spoke a bit more than the last.

By the end of August, they had finished four books during their time together. Hermione often found herself reacting out loud to events in the book while Lucius remained stone-faced as usual. Never allowing his facade to crack.

One night, while Hermione was reading aloud, she paused at the sound of floo powder being used downstairs. Malfoy must have gone somewhere, which, if you asked her, was an idiotic idea considering he was clearly on the Incendiaries’ hit-list.

After reading, discussing, and drinking tea that had long-gone cold, Lucius departed, leaving Hermione to her thoughts. She read alone for a while in the Section N alcove until she found herself yawning too frequently to process what she was reading.

She stood, placed the novel back on the shelf, and out of habit, made her way to Draco’s study. It wasn’t until she was at his door that she realized she hadn’t heard the sound of him returning. Not like I have anything else to do I guess.

So she sat outside his study, leaning her back against the wall and sliding down until her bottom met the floor. Yawn. I’ll just rest my eyes for...just for a moment...

~~~

Song: Bitch - Allie X

Hermione’s eyes shot open at the sound of footsteps clicking down the hall, headed in her direction. Merlin, what time is it? Had she not heard the floo?

Her heart skipped a beat when she heard jumbled voices, realizing it wasn’t one set of footsteps, but two. And they were growing closer.

She stood quickly, appearing rather stiff and awkward. Who else could be here? Oh Godric, please not Voldemort. The tea she drank earlier threatened to make a reappearance.

Two shadows walking arm in arm slowly came into view and her breath caught. Pansy Parkinson.

She laughed obnoxiously at something Malfoy said and both of them stumbled as they made their way down the hall.

Suddenly it went quiet and they both stopped, staring Hermione down where she stood.

“What are you doing here? It’s 2am”, Malfoy asked her rudely.

“I, well...you weren’t here for...for me to report to you”, she responded, suddenly feeling ridiculous. What the hell was I thinking? Staying up just to tell him “yes, your father and I had a grand tea party tonight, thank you for asking?” Bloody idiot.

“It really couldn’t have waited until-“, Malfoy was chuckling but cut himself off, his face going blank, “right, let’s hear it then”.

She gave him the briefest recount of the evening she possibly could, then there was a painful silence between the three of them.

Pansy’s disgusting laughter broke the quiet. “You waited up to tell him THAT?“, she practically turned red in the face, clutching her stomach in stitches. “To tell him you bonded with Daddy Malfoy? Proud of that are you? I mean really Granger, how pathetic, even for you“, she spat, her laughter becoming hateful.

Hermione’s face felt ridiculously hot and she was sure she would throw up from sheer embarrassment. But she couldn’t move her feet.

“You should get some rest”, Malfoy said with an unreadable expression. It looked almost like...pity? Embarrassment? She couldn’t be sure, but she practically sprinted down the hall and down to the dungeon. She couldn’t help but notice Pansy and Malfoy both went into his room. She almost gagged in disgust.

Hermione slammed the dungeon door and ran down the stairs before shoving her face into her pillow.

"You weren’t here“, she mocked herself aloud. I mean sweet MERLIN Hermione, what is wrong with you? I really hope this isn’t Stockholm Syndrome or some shit. I’d rather fucking die. I could die just from Pansy Parkinson laughing at me. If I wasn’t a prisoner I would have knocked that disgusting slag out right on the spot. Godric knows she more than deserves it at this point.

Her blood was pumping furiously with a combination of embarrassment and rage. She tried to take a bath to calm herself, but she couldn’t even sit still. She dressed in her usual all black clothes and began pacing around the room.

“Fucking idiot”, she muttered over and over. She didn’t know if she was referring to herself, Malfoy, or Pansy. She supposed it could apply to any of them.

She didn’t curse aloud often, but holy hell if it didn’t feel liberating. She’d give anything to have her wand and just break something. Shatter something. Destroy something.

After an hour went by, Hermione finally stopped pacing and sat on her cot, knees hugged to her chest, and stared at the ceiling. Her mind was still racing too much for her to sleep, but she had finally expelled all of her physical energy.

Hermione practically stopped breathing when she heard the dungeon door creak open. What the-? Merlin it’s probably Pansy coming to murder me. At this point, I might thank her for it.

Heavy footsteps clicked down the stairs, they were too heavy to belong to Pansy. She waited anxiously for the person to step out of the shadows once she heard them reach the bottom of the stairs.

Slowly, a pink-faced, wobbly-legged Draco Malfoy stumbled into view. He wore the same black dress pants as earlier, with a charcoal grey button-up that was open all the way to his chest now. The sight almost made Hermione blush.

“Come to laugh at me some more then?“, she asked him angrily, sliding her legs down to dangle off the side of the cot.

“Can you blame me?“, he said in a warm, confident voice, “It’s fun to see you get so flustered, Granger”. An oddly seductive smile played at his lips. No, it’s not seductive. He’s drunk.

“I think your girlfriend had that job covered all on her own then”, she retorted, narrowing her eyes hatefully at him.

“Girlfriend?“, he asked hysterically, as if it was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. He laughed. A deep, throaty laugh that seemed to fill the room. When he finally stopped, he brushed the stray strands of blonde hair out of his face that had fallen there.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous, Grangerrr”, he slurred, and a smirk grew across his pale pink lips.

“Well Malfoy, If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re wasted. I can smell you from here”, she responded. She couldn’t actually smell him, but anyone could see how drunk he was. She counted on that detail for him to not be able to see through her lie.

He took four long strides across the room before he reached her cot. He bent down to where she sat, placing a hand on either side of her legs, not stopping until his face was mere inches from hers. “Then tell me, what have I been drinking?”

Hermione’s stomach clenched and she couldn’t find any air. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t move. The hairs on her body were prickling in attention to his closeness.

His tongue darted out to wet his lips and he glanced down at hers before asking, “or would you need to taste it to know?”

Hermione could feel warmth building below her stomach. She was embarrassed by it, and suddenly thankful that female arousal couldn’t be seen through one’s clothes.

He briefly glanced at her eyes as if reading her expression, then back down to her lips, hesitating momentarily before taking a step back.

“Don’t report to me anymore unless I specifically ask you to or if you think it’s something I need to know - I don’t like being interrupted like I was tonight”, he said in an irritated tone, but Hermione was still inert where she sat.

It wasn’t until she heard him ascend the stairs and close the dungeon door behind him that she ripped her clothes off and ran to the bath.

Hermione scrubbed her body from head to toe, feeling disgusted with herself. She tried to forget that those words ever escaped his lips. Ever danced across her face. She tried to forget the way he got so close to her face that she could smell him. Teakwood cologne on his skin, peppermint on his lips, and firewhiskey from his breath.

No, she didn’t need to taste him to know he had been drinking firewhiskey. But she had wanted to. Maybe even would have let him taste her too.

She decided there would be no reading to mentally escape the next day. Instead, she decided, she would read as many books on Stockholm Syndrome as she could get her hands on.

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