Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy
The next morning, I was up early at my normal time and left my sleeping blonde devil to finally run again. Over a week, I hadn't managed to do that. When I almost bumped into Harry in front of the door, we both looked at each other completely surprised, but then I was happy about having a running partner.
A cautious smile spread across Harry's face and he held the door open for me in silent invite which I gladly accepted. Thus, we ran our rounds in the still cool morning air in amicable peace. No words, questions, or accusations came over Harry's lips. It was simple camaraderie, a shared run.
That was very beautiful and reassuring. He was no longer so quick-tempered. It was good that despite all the differences that still existed between us, there was nevertheless this opportunity for us to share some time in silence together. That meant a lot to me.
I showed him my usual path and he memorized it. As we approached the cottage again, I addressed him:
"Harry, while we haven't gotten you a second wand, you shouldn't run alone. No, don't fly off the handle! You can run, but I'll ask Blaise to accompany you in the morning."
"Why? ... No, that sounds stupid, I know why. The danger is everywhere! Why Blaise?" he asked more precisely.
"The Twins have to go to work, Daphne and Astoria aren't battle tested and Draco and I aren't always here either, so Blaise is the only one left. - He'll be ecstatic," I added sardonically, knowing the Slytherin was terribly grumpy in the morning.
"Where will you and Draco be?" It was clear, he asked the easiest question to answer. Great, really great! But I was lucky too, because the moment I opened the door and had just opened my mouth to answer, I was already interrupted.
"There you are. Quickly come into the kitchen, Draco is about to send out a rescue squad," Fred snarled, leaving the surprised Harry and me behind. We followed him obediently into the kitchen, where Draco stood, already prepared, glaring angrily at us when we entered.
"Where were you? Disappearing without a word!" he hissed, visibly upset as he had been worried.
"Where do you think? Out, running," came the reply very succinctly from me.
"Couldn’t you have said something?" Draco sounded very blasé when saying that. Harry looked at both of us alternately, but held back discreetly.
"How should I know that the idea wouldn't come to you?" I snapped back in displeasure because if I could do one thing well, it was taking care and defending myself.
"A headless Blaise kicks me out of bed because Potter is gone and then I see that you've disappeared too. What was I meant to think in that moment?" he hissed angrily. But okay, if he said it like that, it didn't sound so great. We noticed that everyone, except Blaise, had gathered in the kitchen and were in different states of excitement. They were ready to start looking for us and, if necessary, save us.
"Sorry, Draco, that wasn't what we intended. Harry and I met at the door-" I tried, but Draco interrupted me brusquely.
"Potter, you moron! You can't go running alone without a weapon!" he hissed reproachfully again and stared Harry down. Based on my knowledge how close the Manor was, I had to agree with my Cerberus. It was too dangerous for Harry to go out alone.
"You know, Malf-" Harry wanted to get started, but I put my hand on his arm and stopped him.
"You're absolutely right, Draco! No, Harry, he really is. He's just worried. Don't look like that - ahhrr, neither should you, Draco! - but he's right, you really shouldn't go out alone. That's why I already told Harry that Blaise would now accompany him every morning on his run," I tried to calm both sides. Gosh, they were really exhausting. Somehow, I hadn't expected it any other way.
"Will I? Run? When?" Blaise enquired indignantly. He had just returned and seemed visibly at ease when he spotted Harry in our group.
"With that one. I think they always start at six, which means for you to get up about a quarter to. Have fun, Blaise," Draco said with a nasty grin and Harry once again looked very surprised, but fortunately said nothing.
"No, please don't! Help... that, that... no. So early? It's the holidays! Potter, stop running," Blaise replied quite brusquely and everyone, without exception, laughed.
"I don't think so," Harry put a well-placed counter. That was good, really.
"Why can't Daphne go with him?" the morning grouch kept whining and before I could answer Draco beat me to it.
"Can she fight?" he asked predatorily.
"No," Blaise said, scratching his head. He seemed anything but pleased.
"Then you have your answer. What does it look like, over all? Are you keeping up with your training? Twins, I don't want you to fall behind! We need you in top form," he demanded, because that was important.
"Never, boss, never... We train three to four times a week. But what the plan looks like now is not yet clear," George appeased him energetically and Harry once again watched with big eyes.
"I want the girls to learn, too, at least the basics, and Harry. It would do him good," I now interjected vigorously.
"Exactly. That means daily training. Rejoice," Draco determined autocratically, looking at Blaise, who let his head hang, beaten, because the work would fall on him.
"How? What...?" Harry said somewhat puzzled and George pulled him over.
"I'll tell you, my dear. Once upon a time..." He then told him what the training looked like and had a gracious listener.
"When will you and Harry get the wand?" I asked and Draco shoved a cup of coffee over the counter, which I grasped gratefully, taking a sip.
"I don't know. Maybe on Saturday? Today we don't have the time. Friday wouldn't be good. Too many Death Eaters come out and make the alley unsafe on the weekend. I think Monday would be a good alternative," Draco listed. He seemed to have calmed down again and seemed as controlled and cold as ever.
"Great, then I could go with him," I said hopefully and he nodded as an owl glided in through the wide open balcony door, flapping its wings wildly to land on the counter. Then it hopped up to me.
I took the letter from it and Draco gave it a piece of bacon, which he had just begun to fry, while I looked at the unknown seal. I hurriedly opened the letter and wished I hadn't done it. Wasn't I lucky? Great, really great! Why always me? No, that was wrong. I had known that it was still pending. Nevertheless I was not obliged to like it and I certainly didn't.
"What's in it?" Draco asked as an aside, as if he wasn't interested. I felt his scrutinizing look he was sending me from under his lowered eyelids. I knew, in reality he was very tense.
"Nothing... Nothing important," I said. The letter in my hand was already going up in flames because I had used an Incendio. I added coldly without looking up: "I can't go with you on Monday."
"Ah, as if I had already known yesterday. So Potter has to be content with my company." Draco's eyes sparkled when he glanced at Harry, who looked back uncomfortable. "Where do you have to go?
"To a funeral," I replied, getting up abruptly. "I'm going to take a shower."
"What funeral, Hermione?" Harry asked worriedly. He had also risen.
"Not now, Potter," Draco rebuked him harshly. It was very convenient for me, so I hurried to escape Harry.
Under the rushing water, I tried to put my thoughts in order. In the letter there had been more information than just the funeral date. My lawyer had written that the matter of the life insurance was progressing well. The money would be released soon, as it seemed, when the police reports were completed.
The insurance company would not investigate any further at this point and would treat the death of my parents as an accident. That would probably let me get away with my fraud. The only unexpected thing was that the stupid inspector or detective, according to my lawyer, would attend the funeral because he still had a few questions for me.
Had he found anything? What could I have overlooked? Those were my thoughts that kept me occupied. I made the decision that if he started to annoy me, I would hex him. I was a bloody witch, after all.
The lawyer had informed me that he had taken care of the funeral. My 'parents' would be buried near our house in an old cemetery. Here, too, I would put on a brilliant show. I got out of the shower and got dressed in an unspectacular, loose, summery dress with a floral print that I had found in the closet and tied my hair together into a ponytail.
I returned to the crowded, lively kitchen. Everyone was gathered around the small breakfast table and eating. Harry also seemed to have taken a quick shower and sat next to Daphne, beholding with wonder as Draco seriously looked through documents for the Twins store. I sat down next to my boyfriend.
"Are you okay?" Draco suddenly whispered into my ear and sniffed my hair, whereupon I leaned against him, causing Harry to stare at us as if we were monsters stepping out of a nightmare. He obviously hadn't yet wrapped his head around Draco and me being so familiar and probably especially around seeing Draco being so caring.
"Yes, it's nothing," I whispered in a steady voice.
"You always say that," he retorted and kissed my cheek before turning back to the impatient Fred.
"Hermione, what funeral?" Harry ventured to insist again.
"My parents'," I now confessed indifferently. In one fell swoop everyone fell silent, only to then ask in a jumble:
"My parents had an accident on the first day of the holidays. They will be buried on Monday and that's where l have to go," l informed the group about the incident in a very neutral manner, calmly making a sandwich for myself at the same time.
Everyone stared at me in horror, while I serenely bit, chewed and ate my bread.
"I'll tell you something now: I don't want anyone to ask me about my parents! I won't say anything else about them. Any questions like 'Did you kill them?' and 'If not, where are they?' or the like, no matter what, won't get a response of any kind," I discouraged them.
Draco's eyes flashed with understanding and Blaise nodded. The Twins first looked at each other and then at me and then also nodded, likely because they already guessed that there was more behind it. The girls didn't dare to do anything and stared at their plates. Only Harry looked at me as if I was from another planet.
"Potter, let it go. She won't say anything else. Believe me, you shouldn't be too shocked; the good Hermione loves to plan for every eventuality. Trust her," Draco said with plenty of weight.
Harry shot him a focused, very appreciative look and then nodded thoughtfully.
"And be happy, Potter, you and I will get your second wand on Monday! Just the two of us," Draco continued, sounding rather spiteful.
At first, I noticed something indistinct flashing in Harry's eyes, but it changed quickly into something that I was amazed to see in Harry's eyes. It glittered shrewdly behind his glasses, as if he would be happy to get hold of Draco alone, without me. Hopefully, they wouldn't kill each other, I dearly hoped. Draco nodded in agreement with this unspoken but no less obvious invitation in Harry's gaze.
"We'll have to leave soon anyway," Draco remarked and Harry immediately pounced on the opening.
"Where do you have to go together?"
"Well, we... um... me," I stumbled over my words because I didn't yet want to tell Harry I was a member of the Malfoy family, really not after what happened yesterday. The Greengrass girls didn't know either, only the Twins and Blaise who looked at us with much sympathy.
"You are too curious, Potter! I'll offer you something: you will learn everything to its completeness, though not yet ... Wait! Don't whine in your childish manner right away, listen first. She will be at the Manor with me. She lives there, but the whys and what is the matter with Father and the others... Let's postpone that a bit. Give us and yourself the time we need. Can we agree on that? After all, she doesn't want to lie to you," Draco suggested very calmly and confidently.
Harry had pinched his mouth into a thin line and seemed to think. Finally, what he had promised me in Hogwarts came true: he thought first. With effort, he composed himself, trying to think and then react!
"Do Fred and George know why she's staying with you?" he asked with a voice that was laboriously controlled and now looked at the Twins, who nodded their heads carefully. "And it's all right from your side, for real?!"
"Yes, Harry, don't worry," both redheads said synchronously and nodded furiously.
That statement made Harry take a deep breath. He didn't look too happy. Nevertheless, he nodded deliberately.
"Well, I'll wait, but not forever," was Harry's offer. I smiled gratefully.
We left shortly after, as we still had to put on our training clothes and would now start our first training session with the two despotic men. I was really looking forward to the physical exercise.
At Draco's side, I walked joyfully through a door that led to the dungeons of the manor. It opened directly off the entrance hall, where it was very inconspicuously let into the wall and led us into the depths of the property.
A frosty cold prevailed here. It didn't really surprise me to see how big everything was. It seemed very nested. The torches on the walls lit the way for us. Other stones than in the upper floors had been used down here. They were grey and reinforced the dark impression.
"Here is Severus' territory. There on the right are his laboratories and storerooms. Straight ahead lie Father's treasures like the wine cellar, the ritual room and the dungeons proper. Don't ask! - And here on the left you find the practice rooms. The lower levels are a right maze," he explained everything vividly and I nodded at the right places. There was no need to tell him that I already knew the floor plan.
At the meantime, we had reached our destination and stepped into the large, stone-walled exercise room, which was covered with mats. Severus was already there and nodded coolly in greeting. As always, he wore his hair in a braid and was clad in the same outfit as Draco: a tight black shirt and form-fitting training trousers.
"How do you want to begin?" Severus asked matter-of-factly, walking over to us.
"Oh, I wanted to warm up a bit, stretch and so on, so I can really show you how agile I am on the mat," I announced, playfully wiggling my eyebrows while the men stared at me with big eyes.
Truly, I didn't want to know what was going on in their imagination right now.
"What? One should use every advantage and I have far superior flexibility compared to you," I said, showing an emphatically innocent smile. Both swallowed hard.
"I hope that doesn't bother you. Does it, Severus?" I enquired lasciviously. Severus stepped closer to me and answered in a low voice:
"No. As long as you do it properly and I can see that you give your everything while you stretch."
I felt his intense gaze on me. His instructions sounded very suggestive.
"I will do my best," I replied, laughing loudly. Then, I began to warm up under their observant eyes.
I made a leg bend. My upper body moved forward, keeping straight, as were my legs. One hand grabbed the other behind my back and my stretched arms were then lifted off the back, up into the air. The posture emphasised my raised buttocks beautifully.
"Well," Draco croaked, "What have you planned for us?"
"Um, yeah," Severus sounded a little distracted at first, "I thought we would practice the 'Fight in the Night', in case a Blinding Hex or a similar spell should hit you. That is where I wanted to start. Here, put on the blindfold. When you have gotten better, I will use a charm on you instead. I am always reluctant to use spells that target one's sense of sight."
When I looked at him, I saw his covetous and greedy gaze on me, making me shiver all-over. His voice became firmer the longer he talked. It was nice to hear that I affected him too. Satisfied, I smirked during my strenuous exercises.
Only marginally listening, I still found Severus' idea pretty good. The danger that something like this could happen was certainly there.
I had now moved to the floor, lying on the mat and going through the painful and challenging workout I had set myself.
Glancing over, I smiled as I watched them both facing each other with black blindfolds over their eyes. I slowed down, giving them more of my attention.
It was exciting how, robbed of their sight, they listened carefully and weighed their next step. Severus suddenly gave the starting signal and they spun three times around their own axis to then attack each other.
Firstly, it was about getting ahold of the other fighter. This dancing around each other could have looked funny, but they seemed rather threatening instead. They circled, crouched low and ready to strike at a moments notice. It was as if they could still see each other. When Sn-Severus' hand shot forward to grab Draco, the younger man's upper body jerked to the side at the last second, like in a dance. It was an impressive, harmonious fight that I watched in rapt attention.
The door opened behind me and I saw Lucius enter the training room.
Like all of us, he wore tight-fitting training clothes in black and had woven his long hair into a tight braid, which strongly emphasized his striking features. Wow, I had never seen so much of his well-trained and muscular body. He looked great and was fully aware of it. Unashamedly, I admired his toned, beautiful body.
He himself looked at the doggedly fighting couple who gave each other nothing and suddenly Lucius interrupted them incessantly, which made me stand up in astonishment.
End of Hermione's POV
"Wait, this is not going to work! This is no real fight. Draco! I want you to give everything. You can do more, I know that. It should not be difficult for you to attack Severus properly. You still have a score to settle with him," Father provoked me suddenly.
I hurriedly took the bandage from my eyes, blinking slightly from the dazzling brightness and looked at my father without understanding.
"What do you mean, Father? What score?" Irritated and confused, I shook my head, looking into Severus' face which sported a similarly ignorant expression.
A diabolical grin appeared on my father's aristocratic features. What would come next?
Abruptly, he grabbed Hermione less than gently by the upper arm and dragged her roughly along as he approached us with a sneer on his face, not even caring that Hermione resisted, although she didn't dare to fight him properly. Father seemed to be in an unpredictable mood.
"Here, Draco, this is your reason! I know what your dear uncle did to your lover. I also know that you took care of her when she came battered to your rooms. Do I have to say more? Show me everything; settle your score. Show me what a Malfoy does when someone messes with his property," he said spitefuly and viciously.
I felt as if I had been hit in the head. Severus had also become stiff when he heard Father's derogatory, insulting words, clamping his lips until they were only a thin line.
This unfortunate story was still simmering inside me and also Hermione. It was clear to us from the moment Father found out that he wouldn't hesitate to rub our noses in it. Now that he mentioned it, the pictures that I had tried to lock deep inside me resurfaced.
I remembered how she had been lying in my bed appearing very vulnerable, like a little angel. How she had looked at me when we had finally closed the door to my rooms behind us. Again, I saw the pain I had seen in her eyes at the time. I recalled my worry that she had been broken because she had been beside herself in such an extreme degree, and how I had later tried to get through to her again.
Cold but controlled fury rose inside me.
I just nodded and said obediently: "Yes, Father!" Let him have his will. We were here to practice anyway. However, that didn't seem to be enough for him. He was looking at me disapprovingly with his cold, grey eyes, because I hadn't yet shown my anger openly and acted on it.
He pulled Hermione in front of him so he was now standing behind her and holding her by her upper arms. I could see his hands digging into her skin and squeezing her arms, but she didn't say anything, just stared straight ahead, acting very indifferently, and rolled her eyes to express her opinion of the drama of the situation. I didn't like the way he held her and evidently she didn't like it either, but there was nothing I could do about it.
"Where is your righteous anger? Look at her, look into her beautiful eyes, remember her words: 'Why didn't you do anything about Severus? Uncle here, uncle there...' You have an agreement, I suppose, but that is obsolete now. Here is your revenge! Use the opportunity I offer you; you will not get another one. He transgressed against your woman, that must be punished. She belongs only to you. Do you see his looks? I see them," he continued to taunt skillfully and relentlessly. Father was a tremendous manipulator who managed to set us against each other. To my sorrow, he succeeded only too well.
Hermione's mouth was open and she had turned her face to Lucius and looked at him disbelievingly, horrified, but also outraged, which elicited another devilish smirk from Father.
I clearly recognized what father was trying to do and realized it was working.
The anger that I had swallowed at the time, had continued to hold down just now, built up slowly but steadily. I felt the rage rise, like slowly cresting waves that would break in a storm in which I would have loved to kill Severus with my own hands.
My father didn’t let up and now grabbed Hermione's breasts roughly, which made her cry out, and I could not tell whether it was in surprise or pain, but I noticed the diabolical, absolutely vicious grin on my father's face. I would have loved to ram my fist into his face at that moment, too, seeing him handle Hermione so brutally and all this was just a calculated game from his side.
That was the last straw needed to break the camel's back. My pent-up anger demanded that I gave vent to it with brutal, physical force and work it off. I saw red and I hated that Lucius was such a gifted manipulator and that even I couldn't resist to play into his hands.
I hated that even I couldn't withstand him when he was pulling the strings, like he was doing now. I saw in my mind how Severus had treated Hermione just as roughly as Lucius was doing and even worse. How he had injured her internally and had even tried to break her will; something which I had so far forbidden myself to think about successfully.
And I knew, he still wanted her. He felt attracted to her. I saw his covert, greedy stares. Just before, when we had arrived, his looks had been glued to her figure and when she had started to warm up, there had been many emotions present in his dark eyes that could only seldomly spotted there: Greed. Lust.
I noticed now how Severus' eyes sparkled furiously as Lucius started a fight. Thanks to his tied-back hair, Severus' expression was clearly visible, as his gaze wasn't obscured by his hair.
"Lucius, you are impossible. Hermione..." The words came arrogantly from Severus' mouth. You had to give him credit for seeming to be as controlled as usual and merely annoyed, even though I saw other emotions in his eyes.
From this point on, however, my brain seemed to bid farewell and only the bubbling rage remained. I acted instinctively and went for Severus, who had stood there frozen until now. I was only focused on the fight and on finally giving him what he deserved.
The cold, icy silence before a fight had taken possession of me. My thoughts were dominated by the consideration which blow, placed on which spot, would mean my victory. Thusly prepared, I attacked him.
End of Draco’s POV
After using such abysmally evil and hurtful words against both men, Lucius seemed to get his way. He had riled them up enough, had brought them to the point where Draco and Severus would finally beat each other senseless without regard. Severus would fight back. It wasn't in his nature to experience too much guilt and he certainly wouldn't let Draco attack him without defending himself. This was all calculated and staged by Lucius with absolute confidence.
Oh, this evil man!
Lucius still held me grabbed at the upper arm and the other hand lay firmly on my chest. Why had I cried out when this annoying blonde beau had just pinched my breasts brutally? It had hurt, quite simply.
He still held me impudently and now stepped even closer to me, while we watched as the blonde and the very dark man eyed each other bitterly, holding their hands clenched into two firm fists. Ouch, that would get painful. I felt Lucius begin to knead my breast without a conscious thought. He seemed to like it, but I didn't, but then the fight briefly distracted me and I forgot his now rather caressing movements.
They both seemed to have instinctively decided to pommel each other with their fists and would probably have something like an unfair boxing match because they wouldn't follow any rules. Fuming mad, I tore myself away from Lucius, who had become more and more intrusive. I shot a venomous glare at the nastily sneering man, who hadn't been able to hold me anymore. I would have eventually taken revenge on Snape, it wasn't necessary for him to rile Draco up like that. Therefore, I crossed my arms in front of my abused breasts and turned to the opponents. I wouldn't interfere, nobody in this room would appreciate that.
They were facing each other aggressively in a light crouch, their arms raised to cover their bodies.
Suddenly, Draco started a classic attack with an upper body movement forward. He swayed and ducked, skipping the leading hand and immediately going into the half-distance to Snape, who got defensive and began to back away with smooth movements like a dancer. With this aggressive, offensive manner, Draco behaved like a pressure fighter who hit unusually often.
He held his left hand far below his chin, took a swing and in an abrupt blow and a simultaneous forward movement, his leading hand went up to Snape's face. The older man could move his upper body out of the way just in time, as this wasn't the strongest and fastest blow as the power came only from the triceps. Draco used this jab to control the fight and ensure that Severus didn't get the chance to counter-attack and thus this blow was his preparation for the really hard blow that followed instantly.
He now followed up at lightning speed. The power punch hit with full force. The punch was fierce as Draco had turned his hips to give the cross extra strength and shifted his weight to the front foot, hitting Sn-Severus in the face with brutal force. The older man had failed to counter this blow and Draco's striking hand had hit the target. The cross threw Severus' head back and we heard the crunching of bones hitting cartilage and a painful scream. Severus opened his eyes again and both men were back to facing each other with raised cover in a slightly crouched stance.
Severus' eyes glittered murderously and blood dripped from his broken, now slightly crooked nose. However, he was unimpressed by this. Ignoring the pain, he now left the defense in a flash, holding his elbow at shoulder level to put all his body weight into the coming blow. The strength came less from his arm and more from the cooperation of his upper body combined with the extension of his standing leg. Severus' hook jumped forward, coming from the side at a rapid speed and bypassed Draco's countercover. The younger fighter tried to move out of striking distance with a roll of his upper body but the hook still caught him at his chin, which flew to the side and burst open. Now they were both bleeding.
In a hurry, they tried to get some distance between each other. From then on, they hit each other in an ever faster sequence of jabs and crosses. Severus aimed to become a more and more offensive puncher and tried to land hooks on Draco's solar plexus and Draco responded with a quick succession of blows, trying just as hard to place his hooks, also striking a liver hook at Severus.
It was not a pretty fight, them using the whole field like that and hitting each other extremely painfully and brutally into the face or upper body with their bare, hard fists, without consideration. The knuckles of their hands were already bloody and cracked. The intensity increased more and more. The slapping sound of skin on skin echoed from the bare stone walls, as did the loud "Oooffs" and "Ahrggs" when they hit their marks painfully.
I was impressed. The fight was exciting and I was fascinated as I watched them keeping their agile, supple bodies perfectly under control and moving uniquely gracefully. I glanced intently at Lucius, who seemed very pleased with the bloody fight. Yet he didn't let me out of his sight either, obviously hoping that I showed a reaction but I didn't and I wouldn't.
Luckily, neither of the two opponents had managed a knock-out so far. Nevertheless, jab, cross, left and right hook hit their target in quick succession, only seconds apart.
The two looked awful, but they didn't seem to get tired. Over time, their breathing got more laboured and their previously breathtaking speed became slower and heavier.
Again and again, I saw rage flashing in Draco's eyes and I mentally I called him an idiot. Such feelings had no place in a fight. I took an appreciative, pondering look at Severus, who as always was a master of his feelings and thus of his senses. Thereby, he had the upper hand. I would have bet a lot that he would be able to deliver the final blow. Not because Draco was inferior, or not an equal opponent, but simply because Draco was driven by rage and Severus continued to be an ice-cold tactician and kept his feelings locked away.
In a fight in which both opponents were more or less equal and highly concentrated, the slightest distraction could bring the decision and even if his rage pushed Draco to hit harder, hold out longer and proceed in a more brutal way than normal, it would eventually lead to him being temporarily distracted and make him lose.
How did I feel when Draco fought for me? First of all anger, because I could have handled that myself, but also understanding because the words that Lucius had spoken earlier had been quite inciting. I had been upset retrospectively that Draco had never confronted Severus after that... Well, after you-know-what had happened.
On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted the two of them to fight like that, for something I had truly already buried. Would I have kissed Severus otherwise? No, I had actually been happy that I could get so close to him again without becoming ... timid or immediately haunted by memories. It was just idiotic to beat your brains out like that. What bothered me more was Lucius. What was his intention? What motivated him to rile up the two men to this extent?
I couldn't see the reason yet. Did he want me to be grateful to him for defending my honour more than Draco had? Well, then he would get quite a surprise. Something like that could also come back to haunt him.
I watched it come pass as it had to and if Lucius hadn't watched me as closely as he did, I would have closed my eyes when Draco sealed his fate.
He stormed forward like an angry bull that had gone wild, headless, and I saw Severus prepare for something very cunning. Starting from his umbilical region, he pulled up his fist and carried out the uppercut in an upward movement coming from the left, which took the form of a hook, and thus got through Draco's cover from below, knocking him out with a one-punch. Severus hit his chin from below with full force and Draco was pulled from his feet and slammed harshly into the floor.
After landing on the mat, he lay still and breathed heavily, slowly grabbing his aching chin. Severus stood above him ready to continue the fight and stared down at him like a snorting animal with his fists raised. Then I had enough and I began to clap.
The applause sounded hollow and was distorted by the walls. Now all eyes turned to me as I stood there and clapped ostentatiously. All three men sported surprised and bewildered expressions. I had to laugh internally but showed nothing more than a sarcastic smile and a shake of my head in an affected manner.
"Very good. An exciting, very balanced fight, you two, I'm impressed," I declared with plenty of cynicism and walked towards the fighters, leaving a dismayed Lucius in my back, and knelt before Draco.
"Congratulations, Severus," I said coolly, but didn't look at him, instead inspecting Draco's bruised and bloodied face.
It was thick and swollen. He had nasty cuts above his eye and the lip and chin had been hit the worst. Only the fact that Severus had suffered similar injuries calmed me down a little. Alas, Draco looked a lot worse. I drew my wand and cleaned Draco conscientiously, before performing the first healing spells while he breathlessly gasped for air. He was lying with one arm over his eyes. Probably because of the fact that he had lost the fight against Severus, which had been very important to him, due to carelessness obviously bruised his ego.
"Come on," I said, offering Draco my hand to help him up. He now opened his eyes, looked at me bluntly and knocked my hand out of the way so that he could get back to his feet on his own.
"An exciting fight, Severus. Thank you," Draco said in a carefully controlled voice.
When I looked up, I noticed that Severus was still bleeding, as all this hadn't really lasted long and he had been watching us and our behavior. Grabbing Draco's hand, I headed for the entrance. Draco followed me with his head held high.
"Where are you going? I wished to test you too," the sound of Lucius' voice stopped us.
"Thank you, Lucius, another time," I dismissed him resolutely.
"What is the matter? That should have amused you," he showed a hint of incredulity in his tone about the fact that I was so brusque.
"Then, it seems, we have differing senses of humour. I don't need any help to get my revenge. It always comes, as Draco knows, so you won't get any thanks from me, Lucius! And if you don't believe me, I can't help it, but many people have already thought that nothing would come anymore and then it came all the more unexpected, for them! So it's much more fun, don't you think?" I hissed icily towards him and alluded to the beetle or the toad. I now closed the door quietly behind us and left him standing without a care.
End of Hermione’s POV
In silence, we returned to our rooms.
I was still seething because of my defeat. I couldn’t believe it!
With a loud bang, the door I had thrown into its lock slammed shut behind us. I was angry, so angry at my father who had provoked me so predictably. But above all, I was angry at myself because I had lost control so shortsightedly, and that was why I had lost the fight. Where had my cool self-control gone?
That should not have happened. I had had the opportunity to punish Severus for his deed and had let it pass in vain. Otherwise I was so disciplined and prudent and now, when it mattered, I flipped out completely. That wasn't acceptable!
Potter was not a good influence on me; I decided he was to blame.
While still walking, I got rid of the bloodstained and sweaty clothes. I tossed them onto the floor and quickly went to the bathroom, urgently needing a hot shower. I turned on the water and stepped under the warm jet. For a few seconds, I enjoyed the warmth and the relaxation of my strained muscles with closed eyes. Severus packed a damn hard punch. Carefully, I rubbed my throbbing chin.
Then I heard and felt Hermione quietly step into the shower. She put her arms around my middle. Briefly, I leaned against her with relish, snuggling into her embrace. That was good. She reached for the shower gel to then lather me up. Her slender and tender hands gently caressing my bruised, black and blue upper body felt very good and I just let myself relax and enjoyed her attention.
A little later, we stepped out of the shower together, again without a word. Keeping our mouths shut, we dried off and walked into the dressing room together. She chose an airy, dark green summer dress. I, too, dressed comfortably and casually after this exhausting day and chose a dark-blue polo shirt and light linen trousers. I knew she wouldn't be silent forever. I could almost bodily sense her mounting displeasure because I still hadn't said anything.
She was wonderful, being silent when she knew I needed something other than meaningless talk or that I just didn't want to talk. But this time I probably wouldn't get away with it. She was angry. Was she angry with me? Well, I would certainly find out soon enough. I left the dressing room and wanted to treat myself to a shot of whiskey in the living room, but she stopped me in my tracks. The grace period that she had granted me to be able to think clearly was apparently over.
"What was that about, Draco? Why did you lose control? Why did you let him provoke you so much? That was stupid! You didn't have to do that for me," she snapped at me distinctly furiously and her brown eyes sparkled dangerously.
Inevitably, my rage also boiled up again. She had to understand me. I didn't have to do that, did I?! Well, I didn't but I had wanted to! I pinned my fairly cold gaze on her and couldn't prevent looking just as enraged as she did.
"Do you really not understand? Yes, after what you threw at my head the other day, you obviously don't. Do you really think I didn't care that Severus did this to you? Do you really think I could stay calm if something like that happened to you? Not killing him personally or doing anything else to him needed all the control I could muster back then. I sat down with him and performed a role for him. But you know how it is, I can't afford to have him as an enemy; Severus is too valuable for that. Do you think only you want revenge? I want it too, just like you. Father hit a nerve and the pictures of you coming to me back then and lying so vulnerable in bed afterwards were just too much," I hissed angrily.
I stepped closer to her. Her eyes were still sparkling with excitement and she looked at me emotionally, now standing less than an arm's length away from me.
"I've lost control, yes, and no one, absolutely no one feels more sorry for it than I do, because that's it for me now. I could have had my revenge and screwed it up. Now I can and must never go after him again. Damn it, I just hate that!" I thundered reproachfully. Towards the end, I was getting louder and louder, screaming my bottomless rage about my failure at her.
I whirled around and kicked one of the bedposts with all my might. My aggression had not been allayed. Everything seemed as intense as it had back then. It felt the same way again and I just wanted to smash something, let my fury run wild. Great, Father had managed that really well. How I hated him right now!
I turned around abruptly and noticed that she was still there. She looked at me patiently, although every emotion had disappeared from her eyes. Instead, she looked at me questioningly. I knew she understood now that I had been angry and that of course I couldn't stay calm when something like this happened to her, even if I didn't say it often.
She asked quietly: "What did you do back then?
I knew what she meant. I didn't want to talk about it, but I did it anyway, even though I couldn't hide my displeasure.
"What do you think? I talked to him and made it clear that something like this must never happen again, that he must never touch you again if you don't want it. I was not allowed to curse him for it or to attack him. He is Father's right hand and you know how important he could be. That doesn't mean that I liked it at all. Besides, this way, my behaviour caused him so much more headache than if I had cursed him. I quickly got back to you, took care of you, as you know, and when you fell asleep, I thought about a lot. I was pretty angry, you know. And that I insisted on this punishment the next morning... Otherwise you wouldn't have told me what had happened and I would have asked myself until today if you were capable of dealing with it on your own. I am amazed how easy you can interact with Severus again. The innuendo was pretty obvious, but you smiled," I said, disgruntled at the end.
I turned away again. I didn't want to reveal so many feelings, that wasn't me... But nothing was normal with her, so why should it be different where I was concerned?
She stepped up to me from behind, wrapping her arms around me again and hugging me, breathing a soft: "Thank you..."
When I turned around in her arms, I could see the twinkle in her eyes. What came now? Even if her thanks had sounded honest and gentle, she wasn't in a calm mood, I could only see that too clearly. My little wildcat; she was preparing for the next pounce.
"...but never do that again, Draco. You must honour our agreement from here on out. We have to stick together. Don't let your father use you for his purposes. He played you off against each other again to get closer to me! He must not be allowed to succeed in that again, Draco," she proclaimed forcefully.
The expression in her eyes was very intense. I had to admit, unfortunately, that she was right. My father couldn't get his hands on her, I had to prevent that at all costs. My little darling learned fast, almost too fast. She had already seen through Father so well. Really impressive. She seemed surprisingly calm and cold about the reason for the quarrel. She was such a cold-hearted little thing!
I deeply admired her for her level of self-control. Also her reaction to Severus' victory, congratulating him, clapping, had required an extraordinary cold-bloodedness. That was how she was, always surprising, always unusual. Her reactions were almost impossible to predict.
End of Draco’s POV