A/n: I AM STILL ALIVE! :)) Yes. ;)
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this, even if it is way past its due. :(
Dilemma: The Sequel
He knew eyes were turning his way as he stalked through the corridors and hurried to the library. Students were starting to crowd the halls, filling it with hushed voices, and classes were about to begin. He felt relieved with the silence in the library the moment he entered, and noticed a couple of students still cramming potions homework, copying their work off of a book. He turned to the arrays of bookshelves and started weaving through the library sections, his eyes roaming over everything.
When he finally reached Astrology, it took him a moment to realize he was looking for her in the wrong section. She wouldn't care for constellations, animal anatomy, geography, or herbs as of the moment. She'd immediately delve into the matter at hand.
Shaking his head at himself, he turned to the restricted section and headed to the dark arts potion books.
He heard the sound of paper ruffling at the corner shelves, and passed through the lines of books as if he was in a hurry. But as he reached the source of the sound, he couldn't help it but smile. Her legs were sprawled on the floor, barefooted, her shoes set beside the stack of books she already chose for inspection. She was holding one in her hands, but he noticed she wasn't reading it. She was merely sitting still, her eyes staring at particularly nothing in front of her.
He didn't hurry now, indulging himself with the sight of her. He watched how the light of the room played at her curls and on her face. He noted the way her eyes were relaxed, as if she was dreaming, and noticed the streak of dried tears on her cheeks. But then, as if someone jerked her awake, her eyes suddenly focused, her face forming a frown, slowly waking from her reverie and began reading the book again. He couldn't stop being fascinated by her, watching her as she turned to the next page and started biting one of her fingernails as if it would help her concentrate. He knew that no matter how much she seemed to hate him, he knew he couldn't stay away, like he was when they were still students in this school. He wondered if he couldn't stay away back then because he loved torturing her and her friends more than the peace he felt when he saw her face. Did he love her then, he would never really know. But he was sure as hell that he loves her now. He could step back from her, he knew, but he could never go farther than a step. She was just too precious to allow himself to lose sight of her... again.
Merlin. How could he let her believe that he could let her go?
She blew a breath quietly as she tucked a lock of her soft hair to her ear, not noticing the eyes that were watching her so closely, concentrating too much on the book she was reading. He wondered then of the many times he stalked her in this library, just as he was doing now, planning to ruin her latest academic work just to cause her doom, and how he thought even then that she looked beautiful when she frowns at a book in intense focus. He shook his head at that, and took a slow deep breath, knowing he had to talk to her.
He needed to take another moment before he was able to muster the strength to speak. He was starting to feel frustrated at all of this, most especially at himself, and he was aware his temper could only hold out so long. "You're not going to find anything in there."
He knew he startled her with the sound of his voice, the way her shoulders suddenly jerked, but managed to remain still with her book. She wouldn't dare look at him as of the moment. She knew she couldn't look at him without starting her tears from forming again.
When she didn't answer, he stepped out of the shadow of a bookshelf and stepped closer to her. "Hermione..."
"Go away." She muttered, still refusing to look at him. She was too tired to say anything else.
He paused, frowning at her, and decided to ignore what she said. "You forgot your coat." He pointed out, gesturing to it in his hands. "It's cold today. I brought it in case you agreed to go out with me and maybe take a walk—"
"What part of 'go away' don't you understand?" She retorted, this time turning to him. Barely managing to remain calm, she focused her eyes on his face, and ignored the sudden pain of longing spreading through her chest. You're mad at him Hermione. Remember? "You're quite good at it, aren't you?"
It was a deliberate stab in his chest, but he took it anyway. He deserved it. "I want to spend the day with my wife."
Letting out a long breath, she ran her hand over her face and started gathering her books. "I have work to do."
Alright. So she decided to be difficult with this. "You're just wasting your time." When she just frowned at him, he shook his head at the book. "It's useless."
"You can't possibly know that."
"I said it's—" He stopped, realizing his voice rose a few degrees higher than intended, causing her to drop a book in bewilderment. He took a deep breath to calm himself first before speaking again. He can't lose control now. "I mean to say it's useless. You won't find anything there."
She merely stared at him for a moment, gauging her cards. She knew his patience was running thin, but she didn't give a damn anymore. She can't stay around him for too long. "You have no idea how mistaken you are. Books can help in so many ways."
"But the book you are looking for is nowhere to be found. Especially here."
"So now you're talking to me about this?"
"I am." He muttered. She's not making it easier for him, he knew. "You can ask me questions. And I will answer them. Anything you want. We can go to a café in Hogsmeade, or go back to our room if you want, and talk about—"
"I'm fully capable of figuring things out myself, thank you." She answered, gesturing at her books.
When she stood and walked away from him to a nearby table to collect more books, he sighed in frustration. "I know." When she continued to ignore him, he couldn't hold it in any longer and had his temper flaring, causing him to reply under its influence. "You don't fail to point it out. You're always fully capable of yourself."
"Oh." She let out a sarcastic snort at that and piled her books in three straight towers before piling them into her arms. "Is that why you're constantly leaving me to myself?"
It was another measured stab, and he couldn't deny the fact that it was painful. Knowing that letting his temper loose won't do any good, he forced himself to calm down again and closed his eyes. "That was never my intention." When she only scoffed at him, he walked towards her and grabbed the books from her hands to get her to look at him. "Believe me when I say that was never my intention."
Miffed, she tried grabbing for her books. She couldn't dare let him win over her this time. "Intentions do not matter at this point anymore, do they?"
He merely stretched his arms to keep them out of her reach. "Really?" When she still didn't look at him and persisted grabbing at his arms, he threw the books across the floor, shocking her out of her wits, and grabbed her shoulders, trapping her between him and a bookshelf. He noticed the way her body turned rigid at his proximity, but ignored it. "It doesn't matter that I want you safe, our child safe?"
"Why on earth did you throw the books?"
"It doesn't matter that I love you and that I can never risk losing you again?"
"Those books took Hogwarts years to collect, are you insane?" She noticed the way his eyes suddenly turned to a pained expression, and the way his hands suddenly gripped tighter at her shoulders. She winced at the pain, but she couldn't help suddenly feeling disgusted with herself.
"Did you hear a single word I said?" He whispered, his voice icily quiet. She knew that wasn't a good sign.
"Draco." When he stayed quiet, she sighed, knowing she needed to stay away from him… before she hurts him further. She knew she wasn't calm enough to deal with him yet. She knew she was hurting too much to attend to his pain. Feeling disgustingly selfish, she shook her head and swallowed the bile in her throat. "I have to go, Draco."
He merely leaned towards her, their faces were only centimeters apart, his eyes drilling through hers. She could feel his breath brushing against her lips, sending her heart to race. "You're not going anywhere this time, Hermione."
Merlin, why did he have to be this close? She could smell his scent wrapping her, as if intentionally hypnotizing her to yield to him. Shaking those thoughts off, she gauged herself to war and prayed for spine. "I thought we agreed that you'll let me go?"
He didn't allow his gaze to waiver one bit. Damn it, he knew she wasn't giving him a chance at all. "Are you really that decided to give up on me?"
"Don't you dare put that on me." She hissed, her face suddenly turning red in temper. "You gave up on me. You decided without giving me a chance that I cannot help you in any way." She paused, feeling her lungs struggling from the sobs suddenly trying to escape her. "You put me out, Draco. Out of everything."
He heard it, the pain in her voice, and noticed her eyes glistening of forming tears. He slowly leaned his forehead against hers and touched her face, now grateful that she was starting to open up to him again. "I know I was wrong to do that." He muttered, when a tear slipped through her cheek. "I'm sorry, my love."
Bewildered at his answer, she merely wiped at her tears, hating herself for crying again, and studied his face. Speechless, she merely stared at him before the fact that he apologized sank in.
"I know. I know I messed up." He continued, noticing that he got her attention now. He couldn't help his fingers brush through her cheeks, wiping away the rest of her tears. "But I do wish to explain some things. And I'm sorry I didn't get to tell you about them."
Empty of her temper now, she closed her eyes and just savored his touch, her face leaning against his hand. She never felt so exhausted in her life. "Okay."
He smiled at that, and pecked her nose. "I have to tell you, though, that I have never put you out of anything. And certainly not out of my life."
"No, please, hear me out." He interjected, before she would misunderstand him. "Please."
She paused first to consider before she nodded at him. "Alright."
"You." He sighed the word, kissing her cheek. "You, being here, even merely breathing, is already a comfort for me." He turned to her other cheek and kissed it too. "You have nothing else to do but to exist. And I will be fine."
She frowned at that. "My being here didn't keep you from injuring yourself." When he merely looked at her, she sighed. "My being here didn't keep you from getting hurt."
He had to pause for a minute, choosing his words. He will try to talk to her about it, but he didn't want to worry her about anything else but herself and their child. "I didn't want you to bother fixing me up. You've done a lot of caring for me already." He remembered his recent flu, and all the tranquilizers she gave him to put him down. Frowning at the memory, he shook his head and continued. "I didn't want you to tire yourself late at night to just to clean me up, when someone else can do it for you."
She scowled at him. "I'm a doctor, Draco."
"I know. I did not forget that." He sighed. "I just didn't want to worry you, seeing me like that."
"No. I'm not saying you cannot take care of me." He fumbled with her hair and held her closer. Merlin, he missed her scent. "I needed to take care of you. And I cannot do that if I'm worrying you constantly."
Her hands climbed up his chest to his collar, her thumbs brushing his neck. "You're missing one important thing, though." She whispered, her eyes roaming over his face.
"What do you mean?"
She smiled at him and rubbed her thumb against his cheek. "You can't stop worrying me." He raised a brow at that. "Silly, I'm your wife." She couldn't stop beaming at him as she said it, and watched his mouth suddenly curve to a smile. "It's my job to worry about you. In every way."
His arms circled around her waist, pulling her closer against him. "But it's also my job to protect you. As your husband."
Her arms crawled around his neck, pulling him closer too. "So is mine. I also have to protect you." He frowned this time. "It's useless to argue with me, Malfoy." She whispered, her hands combing through his hair. "It's not only you who can love, you know. It's not only you who can care."
"I know." He smiled at her, genuinely for the first time. "Merlin. I missed you."
She smiled at him too. "I missed you too."
He leaned to her and held her in an embrace, his mouth resting on her ear. "Will you forgive me? For all the stupid things I did?" He whispered, his voice almost inaudible. "For worrying you, most of all?"
"One condition." She answered, her head resting on the crook of his neck.
He pulled back and raised a brow at her. "A condition?"
"Yes." She smiled, taking his hand. "I want you to rest."
"And I want you to eat too. Real food. Not just coffee."
"I thought it was just one condition?" When she frowned at him, he laughed and just nodded. "Fine." Smiling at her, he kissed her hand. "Anything else, my love?"
"I love you." She muttered, touching his face. "So please, just let me."
He nodded at that, watching her hazel eyes rest on his silver ones. "I wish you know that I would never want to stop you from doing just that."
"I do wish for that too." When he sighed dejectedly at her response, she chuckled and pecked his lips. "Oh don't be such a moping boy. You're the one who started insulting me."
"Yes." She gave him another peck before she moved away from him and started picking up the books he threw. "Did you really think I'm just a damsel waiting for someone to rescue her from this… memory loss?"
He scoffed at that and walked to her, picking up some of the books himself. "My wife. Always the tough one."
"See what I'm talking about? You're insulting me." She pointed out, taking some of the books he picked up. "I do wish you asked me what I found out in these books you deem useless."
"But I already told you," He sighed, starting to feel the frustration lurking again. Forcing himself to be patient, he took the rest of the books and carried it over to the pile on the table. "The book that would have the answers to all of our questions is not here in this library."
"You have a particular book in mind." She looked at him now, skeptically. "There is a book about this particular potion inside me?"
"Yes." He glanced at the books she took, some about dark arts spells, some about potions. "But these books you collected, why choose them?"
She smiled excitedly now, knowing she could finally tell him about her findings. She's been itching to tell someone her conclusions about her studies. "That's a good question. I've never particularly studied the dark arts before, but see here." She opened a few books, all pertaining to particular potions and some particular spells. "All potions and spells have something in common. They all have antidotes." She continued opening pages to different dark arts spells and potions, pointing out the pages where they discussed the antidotes. "Though some spells do not have antidotes in particular, there would always be a counter spell for it."
He watched her as she ran through her books, and smiled at the way she worked. She was always known as the nerd and the know-it-all. Even if she lost her memories, that didn't change at all. "Sweetheart, I do believe Professor Snape had engraved such information in our heads throughout our years in Hogwarts."
She raised her brow at that. "I know, I know. I'm just covering basic grounds." When he merely smiled at her, she rolled her eyes at him. "Just let me speak?"
Playfully, he leaned to her and kissed her on her lips. "Go on then, Professor Granger."
Ignoring that comment, she turned to her books. "If we focus on the potions, look." She closed the books on spells and chose the different books on diverse potions. "Potions always have their matching antidotes. And when we talk about normal potions, the antidotes may range to different ingredients, from plants to stones and any other material." She took a parchment tucked in between a book containing her notes. "This is a list I made from these dark arts books. These are dark arts potions with their antidote ingredients."
He read through them slowly, now without humor, and felt the way his gut twist and turn in apprehension. "What are you making out of this?"
"Look at the list. The antidotes are all killings. Murders. May it be animal or human." She pointed out, her voice now dropping to a whisper. She's been haunted by this conclusion ever since she made it. "These potions are marked as dark arts for a reason. Not only do they produce grim results, but to undo them, a life must be sacrificed."
He merely stared at the list, ranging from the carcasses of bats, lungs of deers, the heart of bears, to blood of babies. Everything spelled out death, but he already knew that. The main thing that shook at his bones now was where she was heading from her conclusions. "What are you thinking then?"
She frowned now in thought, sighing as she started pacing. "I was wondering why my memories were beginning to come back, even without an antidote." Her face looked worried now, when she turned to him. "Is it really likely for a dark arts potion to be waned in time?"
"No…" He frowned at that, piecing the puzzle together. "A characteristic of the dark arts is that it is…" He slowly sat at the edge of the table now, his knuckles turning white as he gripped at wood. His mind was starting to wrap around at the facts she was laying out for him, and he couldn't bring himself to face the conclusion he was drawing from them. "… it is permanent when implemented."
"Exactly." She stopped in front of him, recalling the way her world seems to mesh between the past and now when she had her flashbacks of her old lost memories. "Why are my memories coming back then? Do you know where this particular book you say is located? Maybe we can find answers there."
She knew the moment it hit him, the way his eyes suddenly widen, his arms suddenly tensed by his sides. "Hermione, are you still taking the potion Madame Pomfrey made for you to stop those flashbacks?"
Taken aback by the question, she shook her head. "What does that have to do with the potion inside me?"
"Hermione." His voice was suddenly hard, startling her. "Where is the potion Madame Pomfrey gave you?"
"But Professor Dumbledore told me it might be best if I didn't take it any longer." When she saw his face drain out of blood, she stepped closer to him and held his shoulders. "What is it? What are you thinking?"
"I need to talk to Professor."
She grabbed at his arm before he could walk too far. "Draco, please." When he stopped and turned to her, her heart jumped at the horror in his eyes. "Damn it, tell me!"
He had to pause a moment before he could say anything. Merlin, why on earth didn't I think of it before…? "If what you're saying is correct, and if indeed the potion is waning in time, it is not merely because it is fading through your metabolism system like how it is with food…"
She shook her head at him. "I don't understand what you're—"
"Hermione," His voiced cracked, and his body started shaking the moment the fact dawned on him. "I think… I think our son is in danger."
A/n: WAAHHH! :))
Until next update then. ;)