Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of JK Rowling. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: A gift-fic to alexajohnson for luvlikerocketz: a Valentine's Day gift exchange.
Seventy-seven tiles comprise the ceiling; perfect squares that stretch from all four walls.
You've counted them nine times, surveying the small holes that aide in soundproofing. And the thought of needing to muffle the sounds made in this room makes you cringe.
Another thing that makes you cringe – him.
Draco sleeps very still, but not you. Just in the last hour, you've moved about a dozen times, trying to get in the best position – where the least of him is touching the least of you. It doesn't matter; he hasn't woken up once. Not when you shifted after feeling his warm breath on the back of your neck, not when you shuddered as he whispered something unintelligible in his sleep, and not when you breathe your fifteenth sigh after counting the ceiling tiles for the fifth time.
You breathe sigh number sixteen and try, again, to pry his arms from around you.
But you can't. They're wrapped around you too firmly.
And what's worse is that all you can think about while his head rests on your pillow and his body moulds against yours is, "This fits."
No! You scream that thought out of your mind. It doesn't fit!
This is just the morning-after a terrible mistake that you keep making; a mistake you can't stop making. Wait. That's a lie. You can stop making it, and you will, one day, you hope. But that, too, is a lie. You don't want to quit, but you don't think that you can go on like this.
Merlin, this is not who you are. You're not the type to have casual sex with a playboy like Draco Malfoy. Hell, you're not the type that does anything casually, because sooner or later, it'll start to pull you under. Pretty soon it'll start to mean something.
Draco is not an exception.
With every fibre of your being, you want him to be, but he's not.
And as you lie here on another morning-after, you hate yourself for it. You hate yourself for a lot of things, but you hate him more because he matters. It's a lot more than that, but you refuse to let yourself entertain those thoughts. Not while the truth is staring you in the face. He may matter to you, but it's not reciprocated. You've spent the last six months convincing yourself otherwise. You need to justify sleeping with him, not just to others, but to yourself.
But the truth is that you don't matter to him, and the hypocrite in you will argue this until you die because that's the beauty in hypocrisy. It just keeps on perpetuating itself without a care for its own incongruence. And you know this. But when he looks at you with that 'I can't believe this is real' smirk, when he kisses you on impulse, and when he puts his lips to your neck because he knows it's your favourite spot to be kissed, it's hard to forget that it isn't real. And when he takes his time undressing you, peeling each article of clothing off one at a time, savouring you, it's hard to convince yourself that you don't matter to him.
Finally, you turn your head.
The clock on the bedside table informs you that it's twenty minutes after eight.
It's time to leave.
This time, when you try to pry his arms from around your waist, you succeed. You get out of his bed and search for your clothes. And just when you think you're home free, just when you wrap your hand around the doorknob to open it, you hear it.
The bed squeaks.
Draco is awake.
When he clears his throat and asks, "Going somewhere?" your chest tightens because you've been caught.
You put on a look of indifference and look over your shoulder at him. "As a matter of fact, I am."
You're familiar with this conversation. It's happened countless times over the last six months, and it always ends with you walking out. So your response is calm and well-practiced. "Home."
But then, Draco surprises you with one word – well, one question, "Why?"
Your eyes search his for some sign, some proof that he isn't asking you what you think he's asking you. But he is, and you're not sure how to respond. This conversation isn't supposed to be happening. You're just a notch. Just an insignificant notch. He's not supposed to give you verbal evidence that suggests otherwise. You pat your hair down and stammer over your words. "But – you – I don't want to play your games, Draco." And it's a truth that you haven't admitted to anyone except yourself.
He looks hurt, but you don't understand why. He's not supposed to be hurt. You are! You're the one that doesn't matter to him! You're the one who wants something you can't ever have! You're the one sleeping with someone who has never committed to any one woman longer than two days.
"Who says that I'm playing a game, Granger?"
You fold your arms across your chest and stare at him suspiciously. "You're not? But—"
He rubs the back of his neck before he sighs. "I'm tired of watching you leave."
That is when the real truth hits you. He's being honest. You aren't a game or a ploy or something to pass the time, and this is not another morning-after. It has never been another morning-after, not to him, at least. You matter more than all the others.
And just like that, everything that you believed about Draco Malfoy is wrong. You don't know him, and maybe it's your fault. Maybe you were too busy counting ceiling tiles, arguing with yourself, and keeping your distance, to really see all the reasons why he was holding you so tight – why he always held you so tightly.
And it stuns you.
"Stay." He says the word as if it's a foreign word that he's speaking for the first time.
You still can't believe it. "Stay?"
And it's the last time that his ceiling tiles ever cross your mind.