Playing with Fire

Chapter 37: Go to waste

Song: Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido Remix) - Bill Withers

On Friday when Hermione went to Malfoy’s study, he wasn’t there. She was halfway to the chair she had claimed as hers the rest of the week when she realized it.

She had come every single day, and they would sit together, mostly in silence. Every now and then a few words would pass between the two of them. Mostly banter and teasing.

Hermione was growing comfortable in their routine, almost happy even. Almost. Something about his presence made her feel safe. No matter how hard he could be on the outside, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her. Not after their conversation.

He may be a Death Eater, which was irredeemable in her eyes, but he wasn’t a rapist. Wasn’t a murderer. She knew he failed to kill Dumbledore, and she knew why he tried. For family. And the root of that was not evil, not to Hermione.

He was the Minister of Magic, who happened to be a Death Eater. As long as he wasn’t hurting people himself, she could tolerate his presence. She could enjoy the safety she felt.

But who could blame her? My friends are dead. I’m alone. I’m a prisoner.

This was all she could think about when she was alone, but her thoughts were quieter when she was near Malfoy. Or, her thoughts were about something else. Which was better than falling down the mental well that her consciousness would drop her into every time she was isolated.

Everything was perfectly in place as if he hadn’t even entered the room since the previous night. So she wasn’t concerned per se, but disappointed. Let down? In her mental well.

Hermione sat in the chair and began to read her book, pretending he was there. How pathetic have I become? Not pathetic. Alone. In this house. In this world.

She sat all day, hoping he would show up. Every chapter she finished, she dared a glance at the door, as if looking that way would manifest him walking through the door. It never did.

When the sun finally went down, she gave up. Closed the book and went back to her room. She closed the study door quietly and walked to her room, her feet freezing in place when she heard a noise across the hall.

She slowly crept towards Malfoy’s bedroom door, lightly placing her hand on it and leaning her ear against it. Is that...crying? No. Surely not.

The one time she heard of Draco Malfoy crying was from Harry when he hit him with sectumsempra. And it wasn’t because he was hit, he was crying when he walked in. Hermione wasn’t sure she believed he could cry, couldn’t even picture it.

He didn’t even cry when his friend Theo died. Why would he be crying now? Unless it was Pansy or someone else. Her heart ached at the sound for some reason.

It sounded like him, like he was trying to be quiet. Like he was trying not to cry, even in the privacy of his own room. Like he couldn’t allow himself to feel emotions.

She knew it was him. Everything inside of her told her to walk in, except her mind. So she didn’t. She tore herself away from his door and went to her room. What’s wrong with him? Should I...no. It’s not my place. It’s not my business.

Even while she showered, her thoughts were addled, the sound of his quiet sobs echoing in her ears. So addled, she almost forgot about the dinner scheduled for the next day.

~~~

Saturday morning Bopsy popped into Hermione’s room, waking her up with her typical breakfast. “Mudblood is to have dinner with Master Malfoy tonight!“, she reminded her.

“Thank you, Bopsy”, Hermione responded.

“Clothes will be in mudblood’s room at 6!“, she informed her with a smile. Hermione thanked her once again and then Bopsy disapparated with a familiar POP.

Rather than heading to Malfoy’s study since it was Saturday, but mostly because of what she heard the night before, Hermione turned on the record player while she ate breakfast.

She took her time, although she was sick of pancakes, she forced down each bite, stretching it out to take longer than it needed to.

She didn’t want to leave her room. Didn’t even feel like reading in the massive library full of possibilities that she knew was fully within her graspy. And yet, it was the last thing on her mind.

She spent the day pacing her room as she read, full of anxiety about dinner. She was sipping her tea at the small tea table when a POP came from the other side of the room.

Hermione looked to see a satin, floor length dress hung on her closet door. The crimson color shimmered in the candlelight around the room beautifully. At the bottom of it were a pair of low, gold heels. There were even a few makeup products on the dresser for her to use. She specifically requested them from Bopsy and was thoroughly surprised to see her request had been granted.

The entire time, she couldn’t help but feel silly putting in all this effort just for dinner with Lucius, it wasn’t like he could see her. She thought better of skipping the formalities though, assuming that a house elf would likely tell him if she didn’t. She felt much more comfortable with Lucius now than ever, but she still didn’t want to push his buttons and disobey.

The arrival of her outfit meant it was 6pm, so she had two hours to get ready. She took the time to wash her hair. She even found a blow dryer under the sink in her bathroom and she carefully diffused her curls until they were mostly dry. It was amazing what lengths the Malfoys went to for guests rooms that likely hadn’t been occupied in quite some time.

She applied light makeup with red lipstick, just because why not? She was pleased that when she slipped the dress on and zipped it up, it was enchanted to fit her perfectly, and the shoes did the same.

She turned to look at the full-body mirror in her room, examining herself. Hermione could barely believe her eyes. She looked...well, not like a prisoner for the first time. Although she hated that the dress left the enchanted dragon mark on her arm out in the open. She almost forgot about it until then, and her curiosity stirred anew.

At that point, she checked the time and saw it was 7:30pm. She grunted in frustration - she had nothing to do until then and she was too anxious for the dinner to sit still.

She paced back and forth until Bopsy appeared to escort her to the dining room.

“Wow, Mudblood is looking beautiful! Bopsy has not seen that dress in years!“, the elf told her. Hermione smiled and thanked her for the compliment, but her thoughts lingered on her last statement. Bopsy has not seen that dress in years? What does that mean?

“What do you mean, Bopsy?“, she finally asked her.

“It means Bopsy has not been seeing that dress in a long time!“, she responded happily. Not what I meant but okay. She forced a laugh in response so that the elf wouldn’t worry.

Hermione followed the elf downstairs to the dining room, dragging her feet the entire way so that Bopsy could stay in front of her. Her short legs were struggling to keep ahead of Hermione.

They arrived at the doors of the dining hall at 7:50pm, which Bopsy eagerly informed her. “Dinner will be served at 8pm but mudblood is welcome to go in now Master Malfoy said to Bopsy!”

Hermione thanked the elf and slowly reached towards the doors with shaky hands, hesitantly pushing them open.

Lucius was already seated at the far end of the long dining table on the other side of the room. She stood still, not expecting him to already be there waiting.

“I didn’t invite you to dinner for you to just stand there”, Lucius broke the silence, his voice echoing off the walls. She stepped forward hesitantly and began walking the length of the table, unsure of where he expected her to sit.

Lucius gestured to the chair on his right when Hermione grew closer, so she silently took the seat, trying her hardest not to make any noise as she pulled the chair out.

“I’ve missed our time in the library, I noticed you haven’t been there lately”, he acknowledged.

“You did? I mean, me too, it was a lovely way to spend my time. How have you been?“, she asked, redirecting the conversation.

“Mmm, so why haven’t you been in the library? I know you do love to read”, he said, sipping his wine. Damnit, he was right. Nothing got past him. Ever.

“I do love to read”, she clarified, ending the statement there. He sat silently, and they both knew why. She hadn’t answered the full question.

“I’ve been...well”, she paused. I’ve been reading in your son’s study, and have kissed him twice now. I quite enjoyed it actually.

“I’ve been reading in...Malfoy’s study”, she finished, a tone of question in her voice.

He nodded slowly, though it appeared that he already knew this. No surprise there.

“Wine?“, he offered, choosing not to comment on Hermione’s answer which she found odd.

“Oh, yes please”, she said, feeling idiotic when she realized there was a full glass right in front of her. He chuckled. “Sorry, I didn’t know...“, she trailed off, shutting herself up by drinking a good bit of her wine.

“How is it?“, he asked, continuing to sip his own.

“Lovely”, she responded simply. Hermione didn’t want to put her foot in her mouth any more than she already had.

Suddenly the door burst open loudly and Hermione turned in her seat to see Malfoy walking in the hall. The sleeves of his white button up were rolled up to his elbows, a few of his shirt buttons undone, looking exhausted. His messy hair looked as if it had been slept on, but the bags under his eyes said that he hadn’t slept at all.

He hadn’t noticed her until he pulled the chair across from her out and sat down, just then looking up to meet her eyes. Her face went red as his eyes roamed over her. He clearly hadn’t been expecting her, and she hadn’t been expecting him.

“Draco”, Lucius greeted him.

“What are you wearing?“, Malfoy said, looking as if he was about to explode and ignoring his father’s greeting.

She stared blankly at him, completely lost for words. It was odd to have heard him crying the night before and to see him so angry now right in front of her.

“What the fuck are you wearing Granger?“, he shouted this time, rising from his seat loudly.

“There’s no need for it to go to waste, Draco”, Lucius said in a calm but stern voice, “sit down, dinner is almost ready.”

“Go to waste?“, Hermione asked in a shaky but curious voice. What are they talking about?

“Although I can’t see for myself, I’m sure it looks lovely on you”, Lucius said to her before turning back to Malfoy. “What do you think, Draco?”

Malfoy’s eyes shot back to Hermione and the look he gave her alone could have set her on fire.

“Why the bloody hell-“, he paused, “did you tell her to wear it?“, he asked his father.

“I gave it to her, sit down Draco”, Lucius answered, with more frustration in his voice this time.

“I really didn’t mean to upset any-“, Hermione began before Malfoy cut her off.

“That’s my mother’s dress”, Malfoy stated. Oh my God.

Hermione’s blood ran cold, she felt sick and she hadn’t even eaten since that morning. Why would Lucius give her one of Narcissa’s dresses to wear? “Oh my God. I’m so sorry...I’m so sorry..I don’t...“, she stuttered.

Hermione swiftly scooted her chair back, pulling the hem of the dress up so she wouldn’t trip, and sprinted towards the doors without another word.

Her feet didn’t slow until she reached her room. She leaned against the door trying to catch her breath. Oh my God why...why would Lucius? Why did...

She paced the room for a minute before she began trying to take the dress off as quickly as possible without damaging it.

She grunted in frustration when the zipper was stuck and she couldn’t get it down. She tried again and again - nothing. It wouldn’t budge.

Her heart was racing but she was almost certain it stopped beating when a knock sounded at her door. Her ears rang and she didn’t move. Another knock.

She took a deep breath, marched towards the door, and slung it open. Her mind went completely blank when she saw him standing there.

Malfoy.

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