Author: riptey PM
COMPLETE one-shot. Draco isn't really that bad of a person-not anymore, that is-but try telling him that. It's going to take a lot of convincing. DMHG, EWERated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Draco M. & Hermione G. - Words: 6,021 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-11-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7541153
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Constrictor (Ten Fables)
A/N: Written for dramione-remix on LJ, for the prompt Othello/Desdemona. Half inspired by the play, half inspired by "The Farmer and the Viper." In the beginning, I was worried it would be an odd combination, but now I think that it makes a lot of sense.
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.
-Iago (Othello 1.1)
There once was a woman who lived alone in a cottage far from town. She was gathering firewood in the snow when she found a poisonous snake under a log. It was on the verge of death, and she found it in her heart to save the creature. She brought it home, nursed it back to health, and cared for it as her own. One day, it bit her.
"How could you?" she asked with her dying breath. "I saved your life. I took you in and shared with you all that I had. I loved you."
"What did you expect?" it said. "You knew I was a snake."
"Don't talk to me about Granger," he would have said, if anyone ever tried. "I told her from the start that I wouldn't do her any good. I'm toxic. I make people worse, but the thing about women is that you can tell them something like that every day for a year and they'll never really believe you."
That's what he would have said, if anyone asked. He wished so deeply that they would ask.
Draco did not have a solid emotional support system. Two weeks ago, he had broken up with Hermione Granger, if one could call it that: "breaking up" implies a soul-searingly honest conversation, in which a person must look into the eyes of the one they once cared about and explain why they do not care anymore. Instead of that, Draco had done what arseholes do and fucked another woman, for he was indeed an arsehole, and he'd consoled himself with petty reminders that Hermione Granger had always known what he was.
It was more honest than a break-up, and an honest woman could have admitted that to herself.
The other woman that he'd fucked was no more than a vehicle for the break-up that he couldn't have pulled off in a non-arsehole sort of way, which was an equally scummy way to treat a woman, like suicide by cop. Draco had earned his self-loathing, and no one could take it away from him.
That was why he was so angry to receive her owl: I forgive you, it said, because it is the worst thing I can do to you now. I forgive you, and that means we're still together. Now what will you do? - H
There once was a young woman who lived alone in a flat in the city. On her way home from work, she found a poisonous snake under a rock. It was on the verge of ennui, and she took a liking to the creature despite her better judgement. She brought it home, spent time with it, and cared for it as her own. One day, it bit her.
"I knew this was going to happen," she said as she was leaving for the E.R. "And now that it has, it's time for me to go."
"Wait," it said. "Don't leave me. I've bitten people on purpose before, but this time I didn't mean to."
Hermione Granger's letter had taken up residence on Draco's desk, unfolded and laid out where he could always see it. He had read it and read it, and the words never changed.
"Now what will you do?"
She had some nerve.
She always had, and he was the one who hadn't. She was the one who always said exactly what she meant, and then her actions matched her words. Except right now. If they were still together, where was she? It had been weeks. He wished he could call her on her bluff, but it was too hard, and she was right. This was the worst thing she could do to him now. She'd forced him into the exactly the position that he hated the most, the one he would do anything to avoid: limbo. He was free-wheeling in an anti-gravity hell with no rules and no control.
Pansy Parkinson was probably the only woman who had ever loved Draco even though she knew who he really was, but she didn't love him romantically anymore. In fact, she was of the opinion that love before the age of eighteen didn't count after graduation; therefore, she had not "been in love" but merely participated in a clumsy, hormonal sex festival. Draco tended to agree, but he needed some kind of love right now. Any kind would do, and so he invited Pansy to his flat.
"So," she said, over tea, "it's really over."
"Yes," he said, even though he had it in print that it wasn't. "I'm single again. Free to make an entirely new mistake."
She smiled. "I don't believe you."
"Why not? You've been begging me to dump her for months, and my head's finally clear enough to take your astute advice. You should be happy for me."
She took a drink, wrinkled her nose, and added another cube of sugar. "That's exactly why I don't believe you: you never take my advice. You still manage to massacre a perfectly simple cup of tea, when I've told you a hundred times how I like it. Have you even spoken to her since, er, what's her name?"
"Amy," he said. "And I don't need to. My message was clear."
"It wasn't a message."
"But it was clear."
She studied his face with narrowed eyes. "No one ever taught you how to communicate with a woman," she said at length. "Or at least they failed spectacularly-"
"I'll tell my mother you send your regards."
"-and I'd be impressed if I weren't so horrified at how much extra work you're willing to do to avoid a real conversation-"
"You can ask Amy if our night together qualified as 'work.'"
"-but it has to stop. Consider this an intervention. I can't believe I'm saying this, but if Granger couldn't sort you out, no one can. You're doomed to die alone if you don't clean up your act."
It was harsh, and so he became defensive. "What makes you think you're doing any better?"
"I haven't found the right person yet," she said. "And if I did, I wouldn't crush them for daring to be good for me-for treating me better than I deserve."
There once was a poisonous snake who lived alone in an upscale townhouse, and every day a young woman walked past on her way to work. It went outside and lay under a rock, feigning a life-threatening medical condition in order to capture her compassion. She brought it home, and it fell in love with her against its nature. One day, its teeth were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Watch it," she said as she sucked out the venom. "You've got to learn to be more careful."
"I could say the same to you," said the snake.
Draco hadn't found the right person yet, either, mostly because such a person could not exist. She would need to be a walking paradox, a human contradiction who could somehow do exactly what Draco wanted her to and also its perfect opposite both at once. She would need to be the kind of nice girl his parents wanted for him and also the kind of spicy rebel they'd hate with all they had.
The problem with Pansy Parkinson (when they were together) had been that she did only what Draco wanted. She'd been too concerned with keeping him at one time, and he hadn't enjoyed being kept.
The problem with Astoria Greengrass had been that his parents liked her too much. She was too much of column A, not enough of column B.
The problem with Hermione Granger was everything. Literally everything. It was. She was.
There once was a harmless male garter snake who lived alone near a river, and every day a lady garter snake would come and steal his rodents. She always succeeded because she was the smarter snake, and the male one was starving. All he could do to fight back was pretend he didn't care-like he had already eaten so many rodents that he didn't even need the ones she stole-and thereby deny her the satisfaction. He had overestimated her emotional involvement in the crime, however, for all she wanted was some sustenance. She had been hungry for too long. Eventually they both starved-he first, and she after he no longer had anything to steal.
Ron Weasley came to his home. Draco almost didn't answer the door, but it occurred to him that he had nothing to lose. He was sort of thinking-maybe even hoping-that he was about to get his arse beaten into a spectacularly bloody pulp, but that wasn't what happened. Weasley walked in and looked around at the squalor, shrugged his shoulders, and then issued a painfully insincere smile.
"Hey, mate," he said. The muscles around his lips were twitching from the effort of keeping his fake expression in place. He and Draco had sort of gotten along for a time, but now the air between them was quivering with the strength of their mutual urge to punch faces. "What's wrong?"
"Mind your own," said Draco. Somewhere deep, deep, deep within the dark and ill-maintained corridors of his heart, he was glad to see a familiar face. "Can I help you?"
"Normally Hermione would come by herself, seeing as how the two of you are dating." He paused to let it sink in, raising his eyebrows and widening his creepy imitation of a grin. "You know, since no break-up happened. But she wanted me to stop by, since your flat is on my way home from work-" It wasn't. They both knew that. "-and fetch some of her stuff."
"She's too busy, I gather?" It was bad enough to hear her name, even worse from Weasley's mouth. Not quite as bad as it would have been from Potter's. Strange mercy.
"Well, you know your girlfriend," Weasley ground out. "Always working. Always a thing to do."
Draco made some sort of weird noise that almost sounded like "yeah" but also kind of like "no." It was the closest he could come to speaking. He moved his arm in a vague gesture of accommodation.
"Namely, she wants her red jumper and her Harblot text," said Weasley. He finally gave up trying to seem friendly and instead crossed his arms over his chest and scowled deeply.
With his tongue still dry and glued to the roof of his mouth, possibly permanently, Draco went wordlessly to fetch the items in question. It occurred to him at this moment that his hands and brain were pathetically out of sync-if he wanted Hermione gone so badly, why hadn't he packed up any of her stuff? It took him a thorough search for the red jumper before he found it at the bottom of his laundry hamper. There was a lot of stuff in there because he hadn't actually done laundry since before Hermione's owl. He wasn't being gross about it: he knew a pretty effective purifying spell, and he used it on one item at a time, which he would grab each morning at random off his bedroom floor. So, maybe it was mildly gross, but not that bad. The Harblot book was splayed open on the floor near his bed under a shoe.
He purified them both before leaving his bedroom, and by then Weasley had been waiting for a solid ten minutes.
"That's a nice photo of you two," he remarked when Draco returned. He was talking about a framed picture from the Ministry's Christmas Ball several months ago, which had previously been turned face-down on the counter. "I noticed it fell over. So I fixed it."
Draco made another incomprehensible noise. He shoved Hermione's things against Weasley's chest hard in a blatant provocation, but it only brought on another horrifying attempt at a smile. This man must have been under some very strict orders to stand down, or Draco would have taken a Harblot to the nose.
"Thanks, mate," Weasley said, drawing out the word with candy-coated contempt. "See you soon."
As he left, a thought occurred to Draco: if he knew that woman at all, she would not allow a mission of this caliber to go on unsupervised. As soon as the door was closed, he ran to his bathroom, climbed onto the toilet, and yanked open the tiny window near the ceiling-the only window in his flat that faced the front of the building. She was on the walkway below, twisting her wand between her hands and looking straight at him, like she'd been waiting the entire time for his face to appear. Frozen in place and caught red-handed, he stared back until he heard a door slam directly below. Weasley walked out carrying her things, and Draco jumped off the toilet lid and dove for cover on the tile floor. He stayed there long after she must've left.
There once was a snake that wasn't very good at snaking. Instead of becoming a respectable part of the food chain, consuming small prey for sustenance, he bit people for no reason. He did it just because he had teeth, and they were sharp, and he could get away faster than the people could catch him. It hurt them, but his venom wasn't strong enough to kill them. When the snake's father found out, he said: "My son, I thought you were a snake."
Within a week after his visit from Ron Weasley, Draco Malfoy lost his job. He had been skiving off and yelling at people, and he may have made some fairly frightening threats toward a secretary. In his defense, he never planned to carry them out, and also she had taken her entire lunch break before sorting through his memos. In Draco's expert opinion, her absent-mindedness had clearly been brought on by the recent engagement she was flaunting shamelessly around the office. Personal matters like that should have been kept tightly under wraps in a professional setting; in fact, a married or engaged individual would do best to avoid even wearing their ring to work, like they were looking for attention or something. Please validate my relationship, their shiny rings would whine. Don't you have one? If so, prove it. Glitter, shimmer, smirk, etc. It was pitiful.
Anyway, money wasn't the problem. Draco had enough money. The problem was that his former boss was an old friend of his father, and the news travelled quickly. As such, Draco wasn't overly surprised when Lucius showed up at his flat a few days later. He was embarrassed, though. He opened the door only a crack and shimmied through into the hallway.
"This is a pleasant surprise," he said, acting casual.
"What is in there that you don't want me to see?" his father asked, inclining his head at the door.
"Nothing. I thought we could go for lunch. Have you eaten?"
"Yes," he said. "I came here to talk. Let's step inside, shall we?" Lucius reached for the doorknob, but Draco blocked it with his arm.
"Well, I haven't. Eaten, that is. I was just on my way out, in fact." Even at nearly thirty years of age, he was still cowering at the idea of his father finding out how he really lived.
"Open the door, Draco." He drew himself up to his full height, just barely taller than his son but somehow much, much larger.
And so Draco opened the door. He turned his body away from his father and wished he'd at least placed that photo face-down again after Weasley picked it up, but now it was too late. He heard his father's deep sigh.
"What are you doing?" Lucius asked, almost helplessly. "What-is this what you eat?" Draco turned to face him, and his father was holding a slice of pizza between his thumb and forefinger with disgust.
"Of course not," he said. "Almost never. I fancied a treat last night."
His lie was obvious in light of the other pizza boxes and Chinese food containers scattered amid beer bottles and dirty clothes. Just as he had feared, his father's hand went next to the photo he wished he could throw away. He rubbed his thumb gently over the glass, and it was a long time before he spoke.
"A man is defined by his actions," he said at last. He put the frame down, right-side up just as it had been before. "You should have learned that from me. You have seen what it has cost me."
"I know," he said, very quietly.
"But you aren't acting, Draco. You're reacting." He paused, searching for the words to clarify his point. "You're waiting for the world to push against you so that you'll have an excuse to push back, like children do." He looked back at the photo and sighed again. "This is not about her. We've already talked about her, and whatever you do with her is out of my hands. In fact, I believe that I have been...extremely understanding."
"You were." He hadn't been at first, but he'd done better as time went on.
"This isn't even about your job. You can find another job-we both know that. You can probably find a better job, for that matter."
"Nor is it about cold pizza for breakfast or soiled clothing on your living room floor, although you could stand to improve that as well."
"Right." He concentrated on his shoes.
"I am merely here to recommend strongly that you start making decisions and following through with them. I know that I coddled you in that regard-I told you what to do for too long. Many people told you what to do." With his father staring him down this intensely, Draco could no longer avoid his gaze. They looked each other in the eye and both found regret. "But now they don't. I don't. It's up to you. Make something of yourself."
"Yes, father," he muttered.
"No. That's not the response I came here for. You're twenty-six years old-don't you dare fall back on 'yes, father.'" He repeated the words mockingly, then glanced at his wristwatch. "My lunch break is over. Goodbye, Draco. Contact me if you wish to continue this discussion."
Draco nodded once, and his father walked back out the door.
There once was a snake who lived in the brush beside a busy road, hidden in the shadows and camouflaged by his dark green scales. Every day, different people passed him by, living their different and interesting and impossibly difficult lives, and he pitied them. His life was easy.
Draco had fallen into a cycle, vicious like most cycles, where he spun around and around between getting slightly better and then regressing as bad as before or worse. He'd done his laundry and thrown away his garbage, but then he'd worn more clothes and generated more garbage. He'd looked casually for jobs yet failed to contact a single employer. He hadn't hidden the photo, and he hadn't packed up her things. It had occurred to him once or twice that perhaps he was depressed. Perhaps he missed her.
He threw this notion out with the garbage.
There once was a snake. He was born a snake and he died a snake. A snake is a snake is a snake.
Hermione showed up eventually, as he knew she would. Luckily, she arrived at a point in Draco's tailspin where his flat was clean. She came inside and saw the picture that he kept forgetting to throw away-really, he just could not seem to remember for the life of him-and then she blinked rapidly and looked away. He thought of many possible things to say. He could offer her a cup of tea, he could tell her to fuck off, he could beg her to stay, he could ask her how she was doing like nothing happened, he could pretend not to remember who she was at all. She starting talking while he was still deciding.
"I suppose this will please you," she said. "I've decided to break up with you. This relationship isn't working out."
It sucked the breath right out of him for two reasons: one, they were not together. Two, it hurt more than he could have imagined. "What relationship?" he countered. "We haven't spoken in over a month."
"Draco," she whispered. And then she was silent. For a long moment, he wondered if she would continue at all. "I was trying to give you a chance to do it right. The way you orchestrated this... I'm not even mad anymore that you slept with someone else. I don't think you even wanted to do it."
"What? I wanted-of course, I wanted-" She was right, of course. He couldn't even lie about it. The sex had been quick and awful. He'd only picked Amy because he knew she was a gossip and he knew she worked with Weasley. He'd needed the word to get around quickly, and it had.
"You wanted an easy out," she continued. "I just don't understand why you were so desperate to end things all of a sudden. Or why you couldn't say it in words, like a normal person. " Her voice was quiet and full of disappointment.
He hadn't known what he wanted then and he certainly didn't now. He only knew what he was. "What did you expect?" he asked flatly.
"That's not an excuse." Her eyes went again to the photo, and he finally reached out and turned it over on the counter. "You know, you almost had me convinced that you weren't the arsehole I thought you were."
"And now you know that it was a lie."
"Well, it doesn't matter anymore," she said, steely now. They had both gone cold. "I'll need the rest of my things."
"Then get them," he said. "I'll wait here."
And he did. He waited patiently on the sofa while she rummaged in his bedroom, his bookshelf, and his bathroom. She shrank what was hers and dropped it into her bag. When she was finished, she stood in front of him and looked sadly at his face.
"I thought I knew who you were so many times," she said, "but I was always wrong."
She left shortly after, and he pushed her photo off the counter into the bin. Later that evening, he fished it back out and put it back up.
There once was a snake who thought he was a man. He walked like a man, he talked like a man, and he lived as a man in man's world. Everything was fine until he finally looked in a mirror.
A few days later and six drinks deep, Draco realized that he hadn't left his flat in days. People had visited him recently, but he hadn't actively sought out human company since... well, Amy. She was certainly human, but Draco wasn't always so certain about himself, so their night together probably didn't even technically count. His first instinctive choice would have been his father, since he felt like a frightened child, but he was too drunk to show up at the manor. His back-up, just like in childhood, was Pansy.
He was also too drunk to Apparate, and so he took the Floo into her living room entirely unannounced and without bothering to check the time. It was dark and silent when he staggered in, and he almost up-ended a lamp trying to turn it on. In his attempt to right the lamp, he knocked over a crystal vase, which shattered on the floor. As he pulled out his wand to repair it, his limbs went rigid, and he went face-first into the glass shards.
"Who's there? How'd you get in here?" Pansy asked hoarsely. He heard her clear her throat and step closer.
"S'me," he mumbled into the floor. He was pretty sure his face was bleeding. She grabbed him by his hair to look him in the face. "Shit, ow! I said it was me!"
"I heard you," she said, without letting go of his hair. "I'm just mad at you. You scared me half to death."
She let go abruptly, and he just barely kept his nose above the ground this time. He felt the curse release his body, and he stood up carefully. Once he was upright, she sighed and swished her wand to repair the vase first, so the shards would work their way out of his skin. She healed his wounds next, very reluctantly.
"Which of your parents is dead?" she asked, folding her arms over her chest.
"I see. Then how did your flat burn down?"
"Are you on the run from the law?"
"Oh, I know! You've just witnessed a prophesy about my death that only you can prevent!"
He gave up and slumped backward onto her couch, covering his eyes with one hand. "I'm just here talk," he said. "Please just talk to me."
"Been drinking, then," she muttered coldly.
"Yes," he admitted. It was too obvious to even consider trying to lie.
She readjusted her posture and nodded once, with a hint of what was probably pity. It was warranted, at least: Draco was, indeed, pathetic. "Then I suppose I'll need a drink for this as well," she said at length, in a slightly nicer voice. "What would you like?"
"Water," he said.
She went to her kitchen, stifling a yawn, and returned with a cocktail for herself and a glass of ice water for Draco. She pushed the latter into his hand and sat beside him.
"Are you here to talk about Granger?" she asked.
"Yes, you are."
He took a long drink before responding. "Fine," he said. He gave up. There was no point fighting it anymore, since he couldn't win. "You're right."
She rubbed his shoulder with her free hand. "We all know you've been a mess since she left."
"I'm the one who left."
"No, you're the one who needed to convince yourself that she would leave. You're the one who couldn't ever trust her to stay." The ice cubes clinked as she lifted her glass to her lips and again as she lowered it back to her lap. "I was never a big fan of this relationship, but I honestly think I might trust Granger more than you do."
"I was right, though." He kicked off his shoes and crossed his legs on the coffee table. Pansy leaned forward and pushed his feet back onto the floor. "She was going to leave. It was inevitable. The only reason she stayed as long as she did was because she didn't really know me."
"How can you be so sure about that?"
"If she knew me, she would have left."
"I know you, and I just allowed you to break into my flat and wake me up in the middle of the night without any consequences."
"You're not my girlfriend."
"There are other reasons for that." She shook her head and gestured vaguely into the distance. "I mean, maybe if we hadn't played doctor as toddlers, we'd still be in love. I think perhaps we knew each other a bit too well, too soon."
He thought it over and decided that this was probably not a crack at his manhood. "All right. But that doesn't change things with Granger. She's obviously too good for me, like in the pure-hearted sort of way. You know what I mean."
"What makes you think you're so bad?" she asked. "You talk about yourself like you're some kind of a serial-killer-cannibal-cult-leader, and you're not. Are you?"
"Then what is it? You're just a regular bloke with a dark sense of humour. You work, you pay your due, you go home." She downed the rest of her drink and set the empty glass on the table. "And you're clearly miserable without her. At this point, seeing you like this...I give the two of you my blessing. Whatever it takes."
He stared straight ahead for a long time, slowly sipping his water, trying to get his bearings. Now that he tried, he couldn't think of a good reason to call himself evil. Maybe if he'd continued down the path he'd started at sixteen, things would be different. But since then, despite a few hiccups, he'd done his best. He honestly had. "It's too late, though," he said. "I fucked it all up."
"Did you try apologizing?"
"What good would that do? She'll never trust me again."
"And you never trusted her to begin with. Just give it a shot-the worst that can happen is that she'll feel a bit better about the whole thing, even if she doesn't take you back. Doesn't she deserve that much?"
"Yes," he said. She did. She deserved a whole lot more, but it wasn't Draco's problem if she ended up deciding to settle for him. "You're right," he said, filled with new resolve. He stood up so quickly that he spilled down his front, but it was only water. It would evaporate.
He turned around too fast, spilling again.
"You need to go tomorrow," she said. He could tell she was trying not to laugh at him. "During the daytime. When you're sober."
"Okay," he said, as the wind went out of his sails. "But what if I don't want to anymore when I get up?"
"Then I'll force you. Stay here tonight," she said, gesturing to the couch. "And I'll make you a strong cup of tea tomorrow, and then I'll drag you to Granger's flat at wandpoint."
"You're the best," he said, still quite sloshed.
"I'm just sick of watching you mope around." She stood up and took his glass from his hand. "It's embarrassing. It's getting to the point I can't be seen with you in public."
"You're my best friend," he muttered, before throwing himself face-down onto her couch. He heard her laugh raucously as she took the dishes to the kitchen.
There once was a regular snake. He went about his snake business, day in and day out, trying to be the very best snake he could be. It didn't matter one way or the other, really; a snake is just an animal like any other. Acting on instinct. Functioning as a component of the local ecosystem.
That night, Draco had a dream. It was the first good dream he'd had in months. He dreamed that he could fly.
There once was a man who was raised by snakes, and he came to believe that he was a snake. He slithered along the ground, scraping his belly on the rocky earth. He hunted small prey and swallowed eggs whole. He fell in love with a human woman and pretended that he was a human so she would love him back, all the while terrified that she would discover his terrible secret. At last, he decided that he could not lie any longer, and he tried to show her the truth. In response, she forced him to look upon his own reflection for the first time.
"You are not a snake," she said.
"You're right," he said. "I am a man."
He bought her flowers. This would not be significant for a good number of blokes, but Draco Malfoy had never purchased flowers for a woman in his entire life. Now seemed like a reasonable time to start. He went to her flat with Pansy, and she knocked for him when he couldn't. She Disapparated immediately after, laughing again, and then he was alone.
Hermione opened the door just a crack, staring wide-eyed at the bouquet in his hand. She looked between his gift and his face a few times, slowly, and then she opened the door a little bit more.
"This was a bad idea," he said.
"Draco," she said back. "Draco."
"Look, I'm just going to-go," he muttered, as every nerve in his body lit up with panic. The flowers shook in his hand, once-living evidence of the dumbest idea he had ever had.
"You brought me flowers," she said, as though in a trance. "Flowers, Draco."
He wondered if she was going to start saying everything twice from now on, like maybe he'd shocked her into some kind of permanent brain malfunction. "Yeah," he said. His right arm thrust forward as though compelled by some kind of evil force whose favourite hobby was making human men look stupid in front of women. The flowers brushed her hand.
There was a long silence.
And then she took them-gingerly, as though they might explode.
"Thank you," she said, after another physically painful pause.
"I apologize," he said, and it was so shockingly simple. This was what he had been so afraid of. Two words, and now it was over. He was so relieved he could have cried.
Before he knew what was happening, she threw himself on him. The thorns on her roses pressed into the back of his neck as she clutched the bouquet behind his back. He realized soon that she actually was crying, and it was strange and horrible and embarrassing.
"This doesn't mean we're back together," she said into his shoulder. "We're not."
She pulled back and straightened her bouquet. "And never bring me flowers again," she said, even as she fondled the petals lovingly. "Once is sweet. You're just lucky I've never gotten them from anyone before, or it wouldn't matter at all, but I'll never like them again."
"All right." He looked at her, tilting his head this way and that, because this was going too well to be real.
"You should go now," she said decisively, which made him feel better. "I don't forgive you yet."
"Good," he said. "You shouldn't. I'm an arsehole."
"No, you aren't." She was examining the flowers again and fighting a smile. "You only acted like one."
"Goodbye, Draco. I'll owl you."
He nodded. She closed the door.