Chapter Twenty-Six: Saturday Afternoon

The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.

Beta credit: bunnyhops and CoquetteKitten.

 

Hermione decided that her fear of flying must have had to do with her previous broom partners, namely Ron the Idiot and Harry the Reckless. Today, wrapped in Draco’s arms and snuggled into the nook of his neck, she felt quite invincible and even kept her eyes open during their trip.

 

Draco had sat her sideways on the broom, so that her legs hooked over his right one, and he flew with his left arm curved around her middle. This left his right hand to hold the broomstick, and he leaned forward into her as he steered. He’d maintained a slow speed and the other flyers had passed them up quickly, except for Harry and Ginny, who looped back every so often.

 

Draco kept up a steady commentary in her ear, telling her of places he’d take her by broom on the estate. She was distracted from complete comprehension by the timbre of his voice and the feel of its vibrations traveling from his chest into her own body. Sweet Circe, why does that sound do such incredible things to my body? I really need to start carrying a spare pair of knickers. She pressed her lips to the smooth skin of his neck in a series of kisses. The wind was whipping a few of her loose curls into their faces, and Hermione unwound her hand from around Draco’s side to hold them back. Realizing it was a hopeless task, she dropped her now free hand and for the rest of the ride traced the jersey-clad muscles of his chest. Is all this from Quidditch? And it’s all mine . . . Her hand ran down his stomach, absently following a southward path of corded muscle as she continued to kiss his neck and jaw. Draco pulled her against him tightly for a moment and then said hoarsely, “Hermione – you can’t do things like that to me. Not yet.”

 

He released his grip of her long enough to take her hand from its proximity near the waistband of his trousers and bring it to his mouth for a kiss. Then he wrapped it around his shoulder, saying in her ear, “It stays here for the rest of the ride.”

 

Hermione realized her touches had probably aroused him, and knew it was true when she felt his erection wedged against her thigh. Oops. Determined to avoid the awkwardness that always seemed to plague them, she kissed his jaw lightly one more time. “Sorry.”

 

“I’m not,” he rasped. They were just coming up on Hogsmeade, and Draco landed them a short distance from the tree line. Harry’s Firebolt was propped against a tree, but he and Ginny were nowhere in sight. Great. Probably desecrating some poor tree or rock formation. When she started to climb off, Draco stopped her with his hands on her hips and continued, “but you teasing me with those little hands of yours is going to make following the rules a whole lot harder. And we will be following the rules.”

 

Draco just called me a tease. And the way his hands are squeezing my arse tells me that no matter what he says, he liked it. She felt another burst of confidence and said slyly, “How would you like to be teased, then?”

 

Draco’s mouth dropped open, and Hermione took advantage of his momentary haze to escape from his grip. She scampered away from the broom, laughing. When he finally recovered, he dismounted, stood, and turned slightly from her. He made an imperious beckoning gesture over his shoulder. “My robes, if you please.”

 

Oh, yes – he’s going to need those for a bit. She slowly untied the Quidditch robes and slipped them off. “All right, but I want them back later.”

 

“Whatever for?” Draco had sunk to the ground with his returned robes across his lap.

 

“I want to sleep in them. They’re incredibly soft, and they smell like you. What?” She asked when he groaned, scrunched his face up, and shook his head several times.

 

“Not helping, Hermione.”

 

She bit her lip to keep from smiling, enjoying the power she felt at his loss of control but not completely comprehending it. “Fine. How about your jersey, then?”

 

“My jersey. On you. In your bed.” Draco’s eyes were slightly glazed again, and suddenly Hermione felt very, very badly for behaving in such a poor manner. I’ve driven him into a state, and if he thinks about something he doesn’t want to say aloud, Rule Number One will zap him. What kind of fiancée am I?

 

“Oh, Draco! I’m so sorry for teasing you. Can I . . . errrr, is there . . . what I mean is, what can I do to help?”

 

Draco scrubbed his hand over his face a few times. He looked at her sternly and said, “Hermione, this is not a request. For the next ten minutes, you are going to sit beside me and talk about Arithmancy. You are not to look at me, touch me, or use that sexy tone of voice. Do you understand?”

 

“Yes, Draco.” She looked at him with tenderness in her heart, which quickly morphed back to desire as she noticed the way he sat with his arms draped over bent knees and head hanging down. That wizard is all mine, and I want to-

 

“Hermione? Arithmancy?”

 

“Oops. Ummm, Arithmancy is a very precise, very measurable, and almost scientific method of predicting the future . . . “

 

She talked away with great determination, and eventually Draco relaxed and lay back in the grass. His eyes closed, and at some point he reached out to hold her hand in his. They were joined by Harry and Ginny just as Hermione was waxing philosophical about the moral implications of Arithmancy. Harry, for once, looked quite put together for having been with one of his loves. Ginny, on the other hand, didn’t. Her shirt was buttoned up crookedly, her skirt was a mess, and her beautiful red hair was a snarled riot. She wore only one shoe and was carrying the other, but on her face was a look of absolute contentment.

 

Hermione took one look at her and forgot Arithmancy immediately. “Ginevra Molly Weasley, you come with me right now! You,” here she gestured at Harry angrily, “will stay here! We’ll be less than fifteen meters away. Honestly,” she continued as the two girls walked towards the near tree line, “You’re like rabbits on Love Potion!”

 

As soon as they were out of earshot, Hermione asked, “You look remarkably blissful. Is this something I should know about?”

 

Ginny sighed and smiled absently at the curly-headed witch as they entered the privacy of the trees. Hermione set her to rights with a few well-aimed swishes of her wand and they leaned against a large fallen trunk. Ginny had that look she and Luna usually wore after they’d been with Harry. Her face was flushed, lips swollen, and her eyes were very bright. She looked at her friend. “You’ll get to it eventually.”

 

“Tell me.” There’s no one else to ask, besides Molly and Minerva. And I’d rather go to my bridal bed ignorant than ask them anything about sex. Ever.

 

“How about you tell me why you’re lecturing your fiancé on Arithmancy in the middle of a field?” The redhead looked as though she already knew.

 

“I didn’t realize that the stomach was such an erogenous zone, and may have stirred Draco up a bit on the broom ride.”

 

Ginny smirked knowingly, and Hermione continued, “Then I told him I wanted to sleep in his jersey, just to tease him, but that seemed like the wrong thing to say.”

 

“He told you to start talking numbers instead?”

 

“Mmmhmmm. Was that terrible of me, Gin?”

 

Her friend laughed softly. “That depends on whether or not you’re trying to slowly torture Draco to death. You do realize that image is a big turn on for him?”

 

“Sleeping in his shirt?” She wasn’t sure how that would . . .

 

“Hellooooo, ‘Mione – think about it. You, with nothing else on but Draco’s jersey, tucked in your dorm room bed. Your skin being touched all over by fabric that was just worn by his own body.”

 

Hermione’s entire body pulsed with desire at the picture painted in her mind. She blushed to the roots of her hair but smiled a little in realization as Ginny continued, “And Draco’s now in torment, knowing that something of his will soon be in your bed. That’s neither wrong nor terrible – it’s genius. Except that you obviously had no idea exactly what you were doing to him, and so he needed to think about something else quickly.”

 

“Thanks, Ginny. You’re much better at explaining guy stuff than Harry.”

 

Her friend cocked an eyebrow in disdain. “I grew up in a house with seven men. There’s nothing I haven’t seen or heard accidentally, and unfortunately nothing I’ve forgotten. Plus I had Charlie – he’s the one who answered all my questions.”

 

I turned on Draco with my hands, and then with just words. She tucked that idea aside for future analysis. Ginny’s a great friend. That thought encouraged her to offer, “I kissed Lucius this morning.”

 

The redhead squealed, bolting upright and leaning forward in interest. “Tell me everything,” she ordered.

 

Hermione grinned. For the next ten minutes, she regurgitated every gesture, word, sensation, and thought that had occurred during the breakfast visit and match. Her vivid descriptions elicited several more squeals from Ginny before she was through. Finally, she suggested that they head back to the wizards waiting in the field, adding, “Now you owe me. I want to know what you and Harry were doing that made you look so . . . blissfully happy. And I want to know soon.”

 

Ginny nodded. “Fair enough. For now, let’s just say that tandem broom rides always stir me up.”

 

“I think I might know what you mean.” The two headed back towards their wizards, who were dozing in the sun. Not long after, the four of them walked into the Three Broomsticks after parking the brooms outside.

 

Madam Rosemerta had obviously been given warning of the impending crowd, because she had brought in extra help. Several waitresses bustled about with trays of sloshing butterbeer tankards, and there was an extra hand at the bar as well. The pub was full of brightly uniformed Quidditch players, as well as other students. Tables had been pushed together to make room for larger groups, and there didn’t seem to be any segregation by teams.

 

Far across the room, Luna waved cheerfully to them from a long table partly filled with some Gryffindors and Ravenclaws. They made their way between students, pausing here and there to exchange pleasantries. Once again, Draco’s fellow Slytherins nodded politely to her, and several used her name in a familiar way. It was as if Draco had talked about her so much that they felt as though they knew her.

 

She noticed that Vincent Crabbe and Greg Goyle each had short, quiet, earnest conversations with Draco several times, that Goyle had a similar one with Harry, and that Pansy Parkinson seemed to be everywhere at once. She alternated between gazing at Draco intently and then looking Hermione up and down with disdain. Hermione thought about her wizard’s earlier words.

 

When they finally sat, Hermione realized that many of the Slytherins had followed them to Luna’s table – more than there were chairs for, in fact. Another table was drawn up, and more chairs scrounged, but in the end, there were students leaned against the wall and propped on the backs of occupied chairs. She was surprised by the friendly atmosphere between the teams that had just played so competitively against each other, and said as much to her ‘brother’.

 

Harry shrugged. “It’s true – during matches we’d gladly kill each other to win, but afterward we’re all just fans of the same sport. Isn’t that right, Malfoy?”

 

“Rivalry is exhausting, and the war’s over. I’ll take this company at the end of any day,” agreed Draco. He sat beside her, his arm around her waist.

 

Greg Goyle leaned over Harry’s shoulder and added with a wink to Hermione, “Besides, we won. We can afford to be friendly to you mangy lions.”

 

The table erupted in laughter, which only quieted when a waitress came to take orders. Harry sat with his girls across from Hermione and Draco. He grinned boyishly around the table, light reflecting off his glasses, and said, “Well, shall we start with the toasts, or the roasts?”

 

The next hour was spent immersed in memories. Toasts were given in honor of players who either hadn’t returned to finish their final year, or hadn’t survived the war at all. Others were raised to entire teams who had set records or played with distinction. Finally, there were the roasts. Draco and Harry teased each other mercilessly, and Hermione’s sides ached from laughing so hard. When they had finished their jibes, Harry stood and raised his glass one last time to Draco. “To the Prince of Slytherin, who won the final game but lost the Snitch. You’ve been a worthy opponent.”

 

Draco’s response was to lean back in his chair, glass raised, smirking in the way only he could. “To the Boy Who Lived, who saved the wizarding world, who caught the Snitch, only to lose to this worthy opponent. You’ve been my favorite adversary as well. And incidentally, Potter,” he added, “I caught my Snitch a week ago Thursday.”

 

Draco’s arm tightened around Hermione’s waist, drawing her against his side as the occupants of their table broke out in table-pounding and some loud cheering. She blushed to the roots of her hair and turned to hide her face against his shoulder.

 

“That was a bit cheesy, don’t you think?” Hermione asked quietly.

 

His reply was brimming with smug confidence. “Not if I say it. I’m going to hunt down the waitress, since she seems to have disappeared. Be back in a bit.”

 

Hermione felt his absence at once. Shortly after that she felt the complaint of her full bladder, and caught Ginny’s eye, mouthing, ‘loo.’ Ginny nodded and walked around the table, hooking her arm through that of the curly-headed witch. She said loudly, “Come on, ‘Mione. Let’s go powder our noses, or whatever it is that witches who don’t have six brothers say when they have to pee.”

 

The wizards at the table laughed in appreciation, and Harry said, “I’ll walk with you.” She noticed that he seemed to be looking for something or someone on the short trek to the loo, and, for a moment, appeared to be considering going into the girls’ room with them.

 

On their way back, Hermione caught a glimpse of pale blonde hair and paused by the bar. Draco seemed to be standing alone in the crowd, lost in thought, but as she approached she saw Pansy standing before him. The tall brunette had one hand on Draco’s robes against his chest and the other reaching toward his face, and she was leaning into him as she talked.

 

Hermione froze, watching the scene before her. Why is Draco allowing Pansy to touch him like that? For a moment, she let herself give in to a fierce and angry possessiveness. Thankfully, she looked at Draco’s face again, and realized he wasn’t lost in thought at all, but trying to remain calm. In fact, he looked very, very upset. In a move that reminded her of his avoidance of Ron in the dungeon hallway, he stepped back abruptly, firmly snapping his robes out of the witch’s hand. Hermione crept closer, trying to catch their conversation through the noise of the crowd.

 

Draco was speaking. “Please stop. That’s inappropriate, and you know it.”

 

She gave a small, confident smile and arched an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with inappropriate, Draco?”

 

Hermione noticed Greg Goyle on the far side of her wizard and the brunette witch, and he seemed to be watching them with grim concentration. Vincent Crabbe must have drifted over from their table as well; he now stood besides her, holding a hand up as if warning her not to move. Her eyes went back to Draco, and noticed how tightly the muscles of his face were set in that mask of calm.

 

“I think you should go.” His tone was frigid, and even though the remark wasn’t directed at Hermione, she flinched.

 

Pansy countered, “I don’t have to go anywhere, Draco. These are my friends, too. Isn’t that right, Greg?” She looked up at the huge Slytherin. Hermione noticed the brunette’s confidence falter when she saw the forbidding expression on Goyle’s face. He didn’t answer.

 

Vincent Crabbe spoke up, making his presence known. His deep voice sounded pleasant enough as he said, “Come on, Pans. Let’s you and I go find Vaisey and congratulate him on the game. I think he’s back at our table.”

 

The giant Beater hooked his arm through Pansy’s and dragged her with him, physically removing her from the scene, but she kept her hateful gaze on Hermione until the crowd separated them.

 

“Guess I’ll be back on bedbug duty after this.” Greg Goyle’s voice growled from where he was standing beside her, causing her to jump.

 

“I’m sorry – what?”

 

“Oh,” he said, as if realizing he had an audience for the first time, “nothing for you to worry about.”

 

Then he was gone, and Draco was walking towards her with a scowl on his face. He leaned down and pulled her against him with that same angry roughness that had been present after the chaperone fiasco with Ron, burying his face in her hair. She stroked the back of his neck gently until he seemed to calm. When Draco pulled away, he said, “Did you see that?”

 

“I saw something. Why was she touching you like that?”

 

“We’ll talk when we get back to school. Ready to go soon?”

 

Hermione looked around. Other than Draco and her friends, there was no compelling reason to stay. “Whenever you are. Draco, Goyle said something about being back on bedbug duty. What did he mean?”

 

Her wizard’s face darkened so much that for a second, Hermione thought his sudden anger was directed at her. “He’ll be my roommate again until school’s done. Let’s find Potter and his girls.”

 

With a brief, private word to Goyle and then Harry, Draco led their group from the Three Broomsticks. They took off immediately, flying much faster than they had on before. Draco remained silent, but his arms felt comforting, and he rubbed his fingers along her ribcage gently. Not ten minutes later, both brooms landed as if by prearrangement near the lake.

 

Hermione found herself being dragged away from the other two in the direction of the same outcropping of rock they’d picnicked behind a few days earlier. Draco sank to the ground and pulled her into his lap, wrapping his arms around her. She drew him down for a kiss and then asked, “So, is Greg the bedbug, or are you?”

 

No response. She tried again. “Are you going to tell me what’s going on, Draco?”

 

He seemed to be arguing with himself internally, and finally began, “Pansy Parkinson is the biggest bitch I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing.”

 

“She does have a certain reputation.”

 

“Lucius thinks that she came to school with expectations of being the Malfoy wife. Her actions for the past eight years certainly support the theory.” Draco paused to sigh heavily, and continued, “She has done everything possible to ingratiate herself on Lucius and my friends, and permanently tie herself to me – and this started long before she had an inkling that we’d found our bespoken one.”

 

“What kinds of things?”

 

Draco looked at her hesitantly. “Trying to slip various love potions into my drinks. Setting up compromising situations and attempting to be caught in them with me. Dropping hints to my friends about our alleged activities, and,” here he winced, “breaking into my room and waiting for me in my bed, undressed.”

 

Pansy’s the bedbug. Greg Goyle became his roommate to keep her away. His last words broke through her mini-revelation just then, and her vision became tinted with red. She may have shrieked a bit. “You saw Pansy naked?!”

 

“Actually, no. I realized the Colloportus I’d put on my room had been broken, and suspected Pansy. Greg and Vincent volunteered to go in first – they were the ones who actually saw her.”

 

“I hope you burned the sheets!”

 

Draco finally gave one of his beautiful almost-smiles. “Actually, that night I moved into Greg’s room, and stayed there for the better part of the last two years; my housemates have been running interference far longer than that.”

 

His expression sobered, and he continued, “Hermione, she is the culmination of the very worst of Slytherin traits. That little scene you witnessed in the pub – that was most likely created for your viewing pleasure. I think she finally accepts the fact that there’s no chance for her with me, and so she’s going to turn her attention to you. I want you to stay far away from her. If she suspects any insecurity or vulnerability on your part, she’ll take great delight in destroying what we’re working to build.”

 

“Try to make me doubt you, and drive a wedge between us?”

 

“If for no other reason than to make me miserable.”

 

“She really is a bitch, and a stupid one at that, if she thinks I’m going to let that happen.” She stroked the muscles of his chest lightly, remembering at the last minute to keep her fingers from straying to his stomach, and tipped her head up in an invitation to a kiss, adding, “Now come here and let me show you what Lucius taught me this morning.”

 

Draco leaned his head down to hers eagerly, and Pansy Parkinson was forgotten the moment Hermione swiped her tongue against his bottom lip.

KeyBackKeyNext