The clock on her wall chimed ten in the morning. For her, it was already a tardy hour to rise, but still she stayed sprawled on her bed, the covers haphazardly draped all over her. Her hair a wild lion's mane around her head, she grabbed two handfuls of bedcovers and threw them over her face to strain the sunshine seeping through her windows.
She had no plans of rising that day. For the record, she had no plans of ever rising that week. Still, duty called her, sharp and slick. She knew she could never ignore the chores that needed to be done. There were still the flowers that needed to be plucked out of the ground, white linens to be draped over walls, carpets to be laid on spacious, religious floors. She sighed, blowing brown hair away from her lips. Already it proved to be a daunting, but very trivial, task.
Sharp tap-taps on her window glass made her moan. Normally, it made her feel giddy that there was something in store for her that day, but that feeling deserted her long ago. Sharp tap-taps meant she should retrieve mails from some owl perched on the steep bricks just outside her window. Retrieving them meant she had to rise from her bed.
Hadn't she planned on NOT rising that day?
"I'm coming!" she bellowed, throwing the covers from her body and into the floor. She looked at the windows, caught sight of the poor bird that jumped at her rather loud greeting. Opening a window, she let the bird soar into the room, where it landed on her dresser several feet away from her. A parcel hung on its beak, a green envelope wrapped around with silver strings. She drew her brows together, and approached. The bird was obviously reluctant to have her near as it hopped to and fro. "I'm sorry, okay?" she said, sighing again. "You just arrived at a very bad time."
The bird bobbed its head, nodding, agreeing.
"Can I have my mail, please?"
It dropped its burden to the floor, and then flew out the room.
"Thank you!" she said, rolling her eyes and kneeling to get the letter.
The touch of the luxurious paper, the sight of the neatly scrawled ink, jolted her. With hands beginning to tremble slightly, she pulled the silver strings and the envelope fell seamlessly, revealing a single white card. At the middle, a note read:
"Usual. 7 tonight."
This is pathetic, she thought, clutching at her coat as she walked at Diagon Alley. Streets were well lit with light posts and floating balls of stars. Witches and wizards frolicked around her, hurrying to and fro. Children ran and screamed at each other to stop; parents trudged along and tried to control their excited little litters. People waved their wands and jingled their bags full of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. It was so noisy and cluttered, thrilling and exhilarating, that it almost had an effect on her deadened nerves. Almost. She managed to get away from it all unharmed, unblemished, uninterested.
A few steps from the last store in Diagon Alley stood a small fountain, with a stoic cherub spouting water from its mouth and fingers as it stood in a furtive stance. The little statue caused a smile to rise on her face, for the sight brought with it a flooding of memories to her: secret touches and kisses in the night, holding and smiling in darkness, tender hugs and warm strokes in the shadows. The feeling of forbidden passion then was also thrilling and exhilarating, as blood rushed to her head at the thought of her doing something so prohibited it was a sin. Still, it never stopped her from indulging in a desire so reckless and wild it was burning, consuming.
In the end, it was she who got burned, consumed. In the end, it was she who had sinned.
She spotted him, another cherub with his golden hair and silver eyes. He sat on the corner, hidden in shadows, mingling with darkness. Her face hardened, as she felt the gnawing, stirring sense of longing deep in the pits of her heart. This is pathetic, she thought, balling her palms into fists. Three years. Three painful, regrettable years had passed, and still she loved him. She loves him. The realization stung her, brought tears to her eyes. But she remained quiet, a stoic statue herself as she stood there, looking at him, loving him, hating him for it.
Damn you. Damn you to the deepest level of hell, Malfoy.
The name emerged from her lips, without her wanting it to. He turned, saw her; his stone eyes widening, staring. He stood, took a step to her, and she stepped back. Space. There had to be some space between them. She had to be away from him.
Why did she even bother to heed his call?
"I thought you'd never come," he spoke, his voice deep and rough.
She shivered. "Why?"
He looked confused. "Why, what?"
She shoved a hand in her pocket, retrieved the crumpled note he had sent her. She threw it at his feet. "Three words, Malfoy. Three damned words after three damned years. Rather ironic, don't you think?"
He was quiet. "I didn't know what to say," he said.
Didn't know what to say?! She swallowed the scream that almost emerged from her. Closing her eyes, she hung her head and breathed. "Here's an idea," she said, her voice calm and controlled; so unlike the emotions clawing, raging inside her. "A lengthy explanation would be nice."
"From you?" he asked, looking at her.
Her eyes flew open. "I don't have to explain anything to you."
"Oh, really?" He took something from his robe; a white envelope with red and gold strings. "Then what's this?"
"An invitation," she answered, instantly recognizing the colors and the size.
"Yes," he said, waving the envelope. "An invitation. To your wedding. Still think you've got nothing to explain?"
"What's the matter?" she drawled, imitating his tone perfectly. "Don't you like your table? That's the best one in the house, let me tell you - you'll have a perfect view of the bride and the groom."
He tore the envelope into two, threw it at his sides. "I don't need this," he spat. "Why did you send me one? To brag that you're marrying some idiot?"
Anger bubbled from the very depths of her heart. "Is this why you sent me a note? To ask an explanation why you received a wedding invitation?"
"I want to demand from you why there's a wedding in the first place."
She looked around them. Fortunately, not a single soul was listening at that time. But that was expected to be; wasn't that the exact reason why he chose this place as their damned love nest? She met his eyes, giving his cold stare a run for its money. "Isn't it obvious?" she asked nonchalantly. "Someone asked me to marry him. I accepted. That's how a wedding usually proceeds, but, wait... I don't need to tell you the specifics, don't I? You already know, having gone through them yourself."
He closed his eyes, lips pressed into a tight, white line.
"Got nothing to say, Malfoy? I'm surprised; you don't strike me as the type."
"You don't love him," he said in a quiet but clear voice. His eyes were fiery once again.
"Whoever said I had to?" she asked again.
"You don't love him," he repeated, stepping closer to her.
This time, she didn't retreat, didn't step back. "I could learn to love him," she spat. "I would."
He grabbed her arm, pulled her to him. "You can't," he said through clenched teeth. "You're mine."
She stared at him, his eyes cold and hard. Shivers danced on her skin, brought not only by the cool evening but also by the possessive, smoldering look on his face. "Bastard," she seethed, pushing her way out of his grasp. "You don't own me."
"Don't you get it?" she said, rubbing her arm. It still felt heavy; his grip was like vise on her skin, marring and branding. "Yes, Malfoy, believe it or not someone got interested in me after you left me in the dirt. Someone else found me desirable as you once did."
"I don't think I'm interested to--"
"You know the difference between you and Harry?"
The change in his face was frightening, like a mask of fury and hatred swallowing his fair face. "Don't you dare compare me to him," he said.
But she'd long learned to ignore his acidic remarks, his sarcastic comments. "The difference is he sees me for who I am. He knows he doesn't own me, and he never can. You, on the other hand... you see me as nothing more than an object, don't you? Some thing to play with and discard in your own time?" She gave a bitter, hollow laugh. "And, look." She spread her arms wide. "Here I am, played with and discarded."
"I love you, Granger," he said, his tone gentle. Pleading.
The words were said with emotions and feelings so concrete on his face, she almost believed him. Almost. "Do you?" she asked. "Then why did you marry that pug-faced bitch?"
He looked away. "You don't understand," he spoke.
"Damn right I don't!" she screamed; three years of pent up anger boiling out of her. "How? How do you expect me to understand that, at the morning after the night you told me you loved me you married Parkinson? Married! And you told me you loved me!" She was being hysterical, she knew. But she couldn't help it; confusion and bitterness had engulfed her for so long she thought there was no way out. She'd been in the dark for too long.
"You think I wanted to marry Pansy?" he asked, his face contorted. "You think, after all this time, a single day had passed that I never thought of killing her, just so I could find you and be with you?"
"You're demented," she retorted. "I thought you're not a murderer?"
"But I would become one, for you." He closed his eyes briefly. "You know I'd do anything for you."
"Don't make me sick," she said.
"Don't marry him," he told her. "You know you don't love him. You're only using--"
Her vision blurred, her palm stung. She had slapped him with enough force to make him stagger, with enough strength to make her wobble. "Don't feed me moralistic crap. And don't ever speak to me again."
"Goodbye, Malfoy," she said, turning to leave.
She had walked a few steps from him when she heard him say, "I love you."
Closing her eyes, she tried to keep the tears from falling. "I love you, too."
She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was braided behind her neck, and a white flowing veil covered the back of her head and extended up to her waist. The fabric on her skin felt like water, smooth and gushing. Her waist seemed tiny in the bodice that made her look and feel like a queen. She could smell the sweet-scented daisies resting on the top of her head, her crown. She could feel the thorns of the white roses pricking the skin of her hands, her scepter.
Dressed in her wedding gown she looked perfect, impeccable.
Little would everyone know that it took all her strength to keep everything from crumbling apart.
The event yesterday soared into her memory, making her flinch. I love you, he had said. Was she stupid enough to believe him? Or was she dumber to not believe him at all?
Sharp tap-taps on her window made her look at it. The owl from yesterday beat his beak against the glass. She approached, and opened it for the bird. Instead of flying in, though, the owl simply let the parcel go, and flew away.
She picked it up, seeing that, again, it was a green envelope with silver strings. Again, the neatly scrawled Hermione Granger on the outside made her hands tremble and shake. She felt tears pricking in her eyes as she tugged at the string.
Congratulations, Granger. Though of course, you could say the same to me now as little Patrice Malfoy also turns three today.
By the way, Pansy's pregnant again.
I thought you should know.
Author's Notes: This is the fic that I took down a while ago because of rules at the fan fic exchange I joined ;)