Title: Heaven Forbid 1/3
Author: Empath Apathique
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, Gabriel Mann and his song "Lighted Up," or any other pop culture reference used in the story.
Warnings: Beyond the slight smut, be forewarned that this story contains troubled thoughts concerning the pro-choice/pro-life debate. The thoughts in the story may or may not mirror my own thoughts on the issue; that is my business and no one else's. If these things bother you, turn away here.
Summary: She held the Muggle pregnancy test limply in her hands, and the red plus sign glared at Draco dauntingly, his very own monster come to wreak havoc in his world. D/Hr
Notes: Thanks to the usual suspects for all of their help in putting this together. It was a long hard editing process, but I couldn't have done it without you guys. And to bambu345 for the quick read that saved my life.
Written for the fall dmhgficexchange on LJ. It's one of my favorite stories. I hope everyone enjoys.
-- -- -- -- -- --
Sometimes love looks good in gray
Lighted Up, Gabriel Mann
They say there is
A still pool even in the middle of
The rushing whirlpool—
Why is there none in the whirlpool
Of my love?
-- -- -- -- -- --
Then, 4:35 AM
The end began with a question:
"Do you love me?"
She was awake. He could feel the quickening of her breath against his naked chest, her lashes brushing against his skin as she closed her eyes.
"Granger," he said softly. "Hermione." He threaded his fingers in her thick hair, grazing her scalp soothingly with his nails. He repeated his question. "Do you love me?"
"You want a lot of things," she said.
She was wrong. "I want everything."
She raised her head, and he could see the flickering light of the candle reflected in the glassy sheen of her eyes. "It's not fair for me to give you everything," she told him.
He shook his head sadly, using his grip on her hair to gently pull her face to his. "You have everything I want."
"I don't know if I have it to give," she said, and all he could think was that she didn't want to give it to him.
He didn't say that. He knew better than to ruin their night with words that foreshadowed the end. He'd done enough to that extent already. Salty tears fell from her eyes and onto his cheeks.
He kissed her to sleep.
-- -- -- -- -- --
Two months later, Draco found himself preoccupied with that moment, the tiny expanse of time between the second when the question had popped into his head, and the unconscious decision to allow the words to leave his lips. The pounding on the bathroom door added a steady rhythm to his thoughts, and he asked himself for the millionth time why he'd said it, why he hadn't stopped himself. He could hear Seamus Finnegan's words beyond the door, muffled and angry. Next to him, she sobbed, and his heart thudded noisily in his chest at the pained sounds.
He looked at her. She was small and afraid, a child frightened at the prospect of a monster or a ghost in the closet or beneath the bed, come to snatch her from her home and her life forever. She held the Muggle pregnancy test limply in her hands, and the red plus sign glared at Draco dauntingly, his very own monster come to wreak havoc in his world. It threatened to make him ill from the sheer enormity it entailed, nearly in the same way his companion had been for the past four weeks.
He should have noticed. He hadn't.
He'd been so preoccupied with counting the cracks on his ceiling and telling himself that it was okay that she was gone that he hadn't been paying attention. The truth was that it wasn't okay, and he hadn't been paying attention because he'd been avoiding her, because seeing her only made something in his chest ache. But they both worked on the same floor of the Ministry: she in the Department for Muggle Relations and he in Magical Law Enforcement, a fact which made avoiding her a serious issue. However, Draco was in a position in which it was easy to make up bullshit excuses to stay out of the office. And he did—frequently; he brought his work home with him and sometimes worked late into the night in order to keep up with his job and avoid her delicate face.
It didn't bother him, not really. His pride had deserted him sometime around when Hermione had, and he no longer marveled at the measures that he took to keep her out of his sight. Some nights, when he sat in pubs drinking Firewhisky and reading over reports from work, he thought of her. No matter how great the tired ache in his bones became, Draco still found himself weighed down by her pressing absence in his mind. He had to consciously remind himself that he didn't need her.
If he was drunk enough, he told that to the girls he went home with, too.
It had only happened once or twice, on Friday nights when the prospect of a lonely weekend prompted him to drink far too much to remain rational. Intoxication was never the way to enter a sexual encounter. The alcohol dulled his senses significantly; however, he was always coherent enough to remind himself that those two women weren't Hermione, which immediately made him regret each encounter.
But they were necessary, almost. He would never be able to get on with his life if he didn't throw himself back out into the world, and with Granger working only a few doors away, she was far too large a presence in his life for him to do so at a leisurely pace. Blaise had told him to "fuck" her away, but the momentary reprieve had hardly been worth the disgust that had immediately followed the encounters. However, Draco had made a habit of reminding himself of his two sordid trysts whenever he saw his former lover—in the halls or by the loo—telling himself that they were the best he ever had, because they were helping him to get over her.
He reminded himself of this often; she was just so bloody close.
Once upon the time, her nearness to him had been convenient. He'd been able to snatch her away for a quick lunch or a carnal rendezvous on her desk whenever he'd pleased, delighting in her playful primness and the pleasure he derived from her amusing presence.
How many times had he taken her on her desk—in this restroom? It was a single stall, nicely equipped for clandestine encounters in the middle of the workday. He'd thought they were safe during all of those times, but apparently he'd been wrong—so wrong. He wondered how many times he'd made love to her without the protection of a contraceptive charm.
He asked her, "How did this happen?"
She made a sound akin to a hiccup. The banging stopped.
"How?" he said. There was an unexpected Alohomora from the other side of the door, but the complex locking charm he'd placed on the entry easily absorbed the spell. A stronger spell was fired, and Draco's head whipped in the direction of the door. He placed his hand against the heavy wood, directly feeding the charm magic to prevent it from being broken. There was a muttered curse from the other side, soon followed by the retreating footsteps of the person who'd previously been so bent on getting into the loo.
He looked at her then, face taught with strain. "How?"
"I-I don't know," she stammered. "I thought we were okay, but—"
"You don't think about things like this, Granger. You know."
She glared at him. Hermione Granger couldn't stand to be patronized by anyone, least of all him. "I'm not some well-used hussy who knows all the different pills and potions to take to prevent this from happening, Draco."
He didn't want her to be angry. He didn't want things to be like this at all. His mind once again went back to the last night she'd shared his bed, to the moment—the question—that had changed it all.
"I don't know what happened," she said quietly. "I thought I was doing it right—"
"I told you those Muggle methods weren't safe."
"Yes," she conceded, "but what was I supposed to do, Draco? The potions were making me sick."
He shook his head, dissatisfied with her excuses and the turmoil she brought into his life. "There were other ways."
"They weren't as effective. The ring is 99.9%—"
"What the hell does that matter now, Granger?" he snapped.
"It doesn't," she said. "It doesn't matter at all." She looked at him, eyes wide and afraid and full of tears. "I'm pregnant." She began to cry again.
He closed his eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry," he said. He couldn't stand her tears, and he tentatively took one of her hands in his. He wondered if this was okay. "Please don't cry."
"What am I supposed to do?" she said. "I'm pregnant. What am I going to do?"
"It isn't as if you've done this all by yourself, Granger." He squeezed her hand reassuringly.
She didn't appreciate the gesture. She snatched her hand away from him and glared at him fiercely. "It's my body, Draco. It isn't as if you've something living and growing inside your womb."
Draco closed his eyes. He willed himself to be calm, finding it harder and harder to maintain his composure as she pushed and pushed at his depleting patience. But he couldn't be angry with her; it was his fault. After all, he told himself, if he hadn't asked her, things would be different now. They'd be together. Happy, maybe.
He'd known that she hadn't loved him. He hadn't needed to ask. He'd sabotaged what they had the moment the question had left his lips.
Love had been fragile ground to traverse upon in their equally fragile relationship; no matter how many times he'd kissed her and whispered the words against her nose and her cheeks as he ran his hands up and down her fragrant skin, he'd come to accept the fact that she wouldn't say them back. Her heart was elsewhere, chasing longingly behind the Canons as they toured the British Isles during the season, pining for the man who'd broken it off with her so many months before, leaving her with the promise that, if she waited, maybe he'd come back.
Draco's hands balled into fists.
That was why he'd asked her. He'd been tired of being put second in her life and her mind and her heart. Especially to a man who would rather frolic around the country with slags only interested in his fame than marry the girl who was willing to give herself over to him completely, whether he was a Quidditch star or not.
But Draco had known from the moment he'd started pursuing Hermione Granger that she was delicate goods. The man she'd been dating for seven years—the man that she and the whole of wizarding Britain had wholeheartedly expected to take her hand in a more permanent union—had just dumped her. He'd told himself not to expect too much. He hadn't, either; not in the beginning. But Granger had always been a tantalizing prospect in Draco's mind, from the time they'd shared medical duties during the war to finding that he'd acquired a position at the Ministry in a department directly adjacent to hers. No matter how damaged she had been from her breakup with Ron Weasley, she'd still been able to enrapture him to the point that he'd found her presence bloody intoxicating. By their third date, he'd been hooked. He'd begun to fall into her like no other, and Hermione—so fresh out of her relationship and longing for an emotional connection—had accepted his advances readily, coming willingly into his arms and his bed. She hadn't wanted to be alone.
She hadn't loved him.
But he'd known that. He shouldn't have asked. And after he had, the damage had been done; there had been no soothing her frazzled, frightened heart. He'd spooked his quarry, and she had fled, leaving him with empty drawers and the fading scent of her perfume in the days to come.
But that was okay, he told himself. Because she hadn't loved him, and that's what it all came down to in the end. She liked being with him perhaps, but she was still in love with Weasley. No matter what she did with him, she was still waiting for Weasley, because she was foolish and insecure. It didn't matter how many times the truth of Weasley's nonexistent romantic feelings for her slapped her in the face; she loved him with all her heart, in the same way Draco loved her. It was painful in its parallelism.
He began to think once again that he shouldn't have asked her, but was suddenly hit with the realization that his question hadn't mattered. If she hadn't fled after that, then she surely would've now, faced with the daunting prospect of having a baby by a man she didn't love.
Even if they were still together, she wouldn't be happy about this. It wasn't Weasley's baby.
Anger coursed through him as swift as the blood rushing through his veins, and he knew he needed to get out of there, the rest of their conversation be damned. The loo was too small for his resentment and her tears and the baby growing in her womb. He had to get out before everything began to explode.
He reached for the doorknob, ready to be free of the suffocating space and the woman who caused him such trouble crying openly within it.
She grabbed his hand as soon as his fingers grasped the knob, and he didn't know if he jolted from the touch of her skin on his or the words that left her lips.
"I can't do this," she said. "I'm not keeping it."
-- -- -- -- -- --
Then, 2:11 AM
Her heels clanked loudly against the parquet flooring in the foyer as she made her way into the flat. The light in the hall had turned on when they'd entered, and the soft glow of the candle cast a golden sheen to her tanned skin. The dark evening gown she wore was a little limp after hours of wear, however she still looked completely enchanting, her dress rumpled and hair falling out of its complicated style. He wanted to touch her, to run his hands through her loose curls, pull her to him, and kiss the makeup from her lips.
She turned and looked at him, her eyes bright and cheeks pink. He wondered if she was drunk.
She said, "You're overreacting."
Draco turned away from her, setting to work on locking the door and reapplying the wards.
She continued, despite his apparent lack of attention. "You came in at the wrong moment," she explained quickly. "You don't know what you saw."
He took off his cloak, placing it neatly on the rack as he made a point not to look at her. "I doubt there was a right moment to come in, Granger." He kept his tone neutral, his words nearly scathing. He wouldn't let her see that this hurt.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
He breezed by her, taking care to keep his eyes adverted from her face. He made his way down the hall to the sitting room. She followed him, her heels continuing to click loudly against the floor as they moved through the house. The sound added a rhythm to the beating of his heart, constant and steady as the memory of earlier that evening and its implications ran through his head. He went to the mantle, to the decanter of brandy sitting so invitingly upon its surface. She stopped at the door, kicking off her shoes as she watched him pour himself a glass. He found the sound of the ticking clock on the wall insufficient in blocking out the vagrant thoughts in his head and the overwhelming presence of her and her crimes in the room.
"Malfoy," she said.
He inhaled, drank, and then poured himself another glass. He had always hated Ron Weasley. Even after the war, when he'd shaken Harry Potter's hand and said, "Hey, let's be cool," he'd continued to hate Ron Weasley. He hated what Ron Weasley did to Granger, and that Granger didn't realize what he did at all. He hated that Granger still loved the prick, and that he had to be bombarded by that fact every time he saw the two of them together.
He ignored his girl because of it.
"What the bloody hell are you thinking?"
Or maybe not so much at all. It was hard to ignore a woman whose voice reached levels as high as Hermione's. "I'm not thinking, Granger. I'm drinking."
She huffed in irritation. "Stop calling me 'Granger'." He didn't respond. "We've been together for nearly a year, Draco."
He looked at her gravely. "Yes, and right now, I'm inclined to call you whatever I damn well please."
She glared at him. "You've no concept of the utter hell you cause me."
He threw her a sidelong glance. She was rumpled perfection as she stood in the doorway, the hem of her dress brushing against the floor and utter displeasure painted on her face. "Trust me, love," he said, "you're no princess either." He drank another glass.
"Why must you be this way?"
Draco ignored her. Exhaustion ate at him, and he felt the need to sit, let himself be lulled into unconsciousness and completely forget this night and what had happened earlier that evening. A fire sparked in the fireplace with a wordless spell, immediately heating the chilled air. Whatever buzz he'd acquired at the party had long since worn off, and the two drinks he'd just downed had yet to kick in. He longed to feel the familiar hazy heat burn within the pit of his gut once again, and he resolved to pour himself another drink. She was still drunk; he only thought it fair to allow himself the same luxury of giddy irrationality.
He made to pour himself another glass of brandy but soon thought better of it. Taking the entire decanter in one hand, he carried it with him as he eased himself into the wing-backed chair by the fire, setting his feet on the accompanying stool.
"What are you doing?"
"I told you," he said, filling his glass. "I'm drinking."
Her tone was sharp, annoyed. "Why?"
He looked at her. "I don't recall asking you why you proceeded to drown yourself with champagne at Pansy's."
She rolled her eyes. "It's late," she said. "You don't need another drink."
"You needn't drink because of it."
"Yes, Hermione, I do." He purposely downed the drink in a single gulp.
She looked at him for a long moment and sighed. "I don't know what's wrong with you," she said quietly, almost to herself. She closed the space between them, and kneeling before the footstool where his feet rested, began unlacing his shoes. She slid them off his feet with practiced ease, placing them neatly at the side of his chair before standing upright and looking at him expectantly. "Get up," she said.
He leveled her with an expression nearly belligerent. "What do you want?"
She was unperturbed. "You need to undress for bed."
"I can undress myself, Granger. Hermione."
"You're drunk," she said.
"No, you're drunk." He was starting to get the impression that she wasn't. He wondered why.
"I've no intention of allowing you to sleep out here in stale clothing because you feel the need to brood over something you thought you saw happen."
"I know what I saw," he said gravely. "You are simply set on making me believe that it was something other than the obvious."
She looked him square in the eye. "I've no reason to lie to you, Draco."
He fixed himself yet another glass of brandy. "That's what I thought. Your actions tonight have lead me to think—" He broke off abruptly, complaining indignantly when she snatched the glass from his hands, sending amber liquid sloshing over their fingers and on to his pristine ivory shirt.
He watched as she downed the glass in one gulp just as he had before and wondered where she'd learned to drink like a man. It was probably from the man he'd seen her with tonight, and the answer set a frown upon his lips. He stubbornly pushed the thought away.
"You've had enough," she said quietly, the crystal snifter resting just beneath her full lower lip.
He was transfixed. "And you haven't?"
"I'm not drunk," she told him.
He stood, fluid as a cat. His eyes never left hers.
"You should get changed for bed." She made to turned away.
He grabbed her hand before she could. "I'm not finished yet," he stated slowly. He pulled the snifter from her delicate fingers with one hand, holding her wrist in an iron grip with the other. He lifted her empty hand to his face and brought her fingers to his lips, pulling two fingers into his mouth and wrapping his tongue around the brandy-soaked digits. She closed her eyes, an erotic sigh leaving her lips.
The sound sent something coursing through him, and he pulled her flush against his chest, an arm coming to wrap around her tiny waist as he dropped the glass onto the chair and swiftly pressed his lips to hers. He devoured her mouth hungrily, delighting at the passion she reciprocated as they continued to kiss, bathed in the light of fire. The hand around her waist came to press against her back, sliding upwards until it reached the zipper at the nape of her neck. He'd fantasized about stripping this dress off of her all night, and he pulled the zipper down with one swift motion. She gasped, breaking away from the kiss. Her dress began to fall away from her front and he feasted on the sight of her glowing skin. He pulled her back to him, burying his face in her neck.
"Why do you do this to me?" he murmured, biting and licking her fragrant skin. "I love you," he said. "There should only be me."
He bit her and she moaned, arching against him. He trailed kisses from her ear to her collarbone.
"You don't understand," she whined softly, writhing under his gentle ministrations. "It wasn't what you think—"
He shook his head, anger causing something within him to finally combust. "Stop lying to me," he said, shouted.
Hermione startled, and to his horror, tears began to form in his eyes. She slowly raised a hand to his face, brushing against his cheek with a tenderness that caused his heart to ache. "I'm not."
Before she knew it, she was laying flat on her back on the floor, Draco kneeling intimately between her legs as he pressed his lips against hers in a fierce kiss. He ran his hands across her exposed skin, causing gooseflesh to break out on her arms and her legs. She shivered in its wake. His lips moved from her mouth to her neck, then downwards. He fumbled with his trousers for a heartbeat before he was inside of her, his passion pounding emotion into her—words that he would never say.
But she was talking. He hated when she talked.
She said, breathless, "Why don't you believe me?"
He had no reason to believe her. Everything he knew about her and her past pointed to the worst; there could be nothing else.
He didn't answer her. She wrapped her arms around his back and pulled him closer, her nails digging into his skin in silent retribution.
"Draco," she moaned.
He slowed, panting against her skin as he continued to move within her.
"I can't do this is if you don't believe me," she whispered.
"Why?" he demanded. It was guttural, fierce. "I only want to love you."
She looked at him, almost sadly. "Is that all we have?" There was something in her eyes, an unvoiced question pleading to be answered.
His body quaked with the need for release.
He asked her, strained, "What do you think?"
She shut her eyes. He spilled himself in her softness, losing himself, Granger, and everything they had in that one moment. It was also in that moment that he would create something more, unknowingly laying the building blocks for the problem inevitably to come.
-- -- -- -- -- --