Denying The Obvious

Chapter 5: Sharing the burden

As soon as Draco had Apparated back to the manor, he found himself getting violently sick right on the hallway floor. He knew Nippy would take care of it so he did not bother with cleaning spells. Instead, he got up and hurried to the Master Suite bathroom where he drew himself a scalding bath.

He could hear his mother's voice inside of his skull, screaming out in pain and then pleading for Lucius not to touch her. Draco tried to shrug the memory off, with difficulty. That was really not something he needed to be thinking of right now. He stepped into his tub that was almost as big as the one in Prefect's Bathroom at Hogwarts. Right now, the tub was filled with steaming water and lemon scented bubbles. On a normal night, he might have blown on the bubbles or had a lazy wank, but this was not a normal night. The water was almost hot enough to burn off his skin. Without invitation, his thoughts slid back to Granger and he could feel another wave of nausea rising to his throat. Fuck! He started scrubbing himself clean with fervent motions.

Beneath him or not, he should not have done that to her, to anyone. He just could not stop himself in time, he had felt so full of fury yet detached at the same time. Aware enough of his actions to slow and dull down his strokes. The memory made him heave and some sick ran down the corner of his mouth. He wiped it off, angry at himself and the weakness he was displaying. What was done was done. He could not change it, could not take it back. He had become his father, after all, hadn't he?

No. Emphatically not.

He would not surrender to the deceivingly easy thought of giving in. Giving in to thinking that he was what he was, and that he had no choice in it or no power to change it. Giving in to the hatred that felt like a dormant, living creature inside his head. The same kind of Monster had lived inside his father, too. Narcissa had never let either male Malfoy to forget it.

There had to be something he could do to fix it, or at least make it not as bad. For one, he could take actions to make sure it never happened again. And he could make sure Granger got some help.

But what kind of help, and how? She was still tied to Gallo as good as wearing a ball and chain. He could not go back and apologize, she certainly never wanted to set her eyes on him again- and it would not help her mental state even if he went there and ignored her wishes. No, there had to be some other way, someone else that could talk to her; make sure she would end up alright considering the circumstances.

Oh no! Panic unlike any he had ever experienced spread through him like a wildfire.

What about contraception? Could she already be pregnant with his child? It was the Malfoy blood again. Some twisted version of fate that made the conception of a Malfoy heir an act of aggression and at best, greed. It had been so when his father was conceived and it had been the same when Draco was conceived if Narcissa's account could be trusted.

Narcissa Malfoy nee Black had not been the best mother there ever was. She hadn't loved her husband, only his name. Malfoys - like Blacks- had been respected and feared in the wizarding world for centuries. Narcissa liked the feeling but disliked the appendage. She had shown some signs of caring for her only child but she had never been any good at selfless love. Neither had Lucius, who cared for himself first, the Dark Lord the second and the Malfoy name the third. The welfare of his wife and son had become a rather distant 4th.

What was he thinking? Had he completely taken leave of his senses? Whether or not Granger was with child, whatever she might be carrying, it would never be a pure blooded Malfoy - the new Malfoy heir. And Gallo's contract and spell work must have included something for contraception. He couldn't have his women getting pregnant at the drop of a hat, especially to any important wizards who would surely close down his business and him with it if that ever occurred. No. Now that he was able to think more rationally, he was sure he didn't need to worry about her conceiving.

Back to helping Granger. Who could he get to talk to her? Someone she didn't hate. Someone he could trust. Someone who didn't judge him for his past actions, and wouldn't judge her for current station in life or familial relations. That ruled out any of the Weasleys (they'd vow to kill him and they'd never let her forget what leaving their fold had cost her) and everyone he knew. Being a Slytherin and with acquaintances mostly comprising of Slytherins, Draco could not think of anyone he could trust with either this information or this task. Everyone he knew would gladly abuse his superior position over her. Just as he had already, he thought to himself darkly.

Unless...

oooo

Hermione had had two days of rest and "solitary confinement", all to spend on worrying over what had happened between Draco and herself and how long it would be until some new customer arrived at her door. So far there had been none.

Not Gallo, or any of the girls had been up to see her. Hermione was sure that he had forbidden them to visit her. Meals appeared at her door, signaled with a light knock. She was brought regular, wholesome kinds of food. She would have preferred someone informing her of what her future held, so that she might know what to expect. She didn't want to lull herself into a false sense of security, only to be tossed at the feet of any man that was ready to pay what Gallo charged.

These two days hadn't brought any clarity to the fact that Draco had been inside of her, either. The first to receive the honor, she thought and grimaced. She had wanted it to be Ron, her fiery tempered ginger boy. Well, it would never be him. That possible future was gone. But it could be anyone else. Any of the Slytherins she'd went to school with. Even some Gryffindor that had strayed from the path of straight and narrow ... It couldn't take long until the word reached the Weasley household. Ron. Oh Ron.

He might quit his drink and come and get her. He'd perhaps blame her for it all, but he would come and see where she lived and how it all had happened. To Molly though, she would always be a tart. She could never go back to The Burrow, Ron's mother wouldn't stand for it. However that may be, the contract she had signed made it all a moot point. She could never go back, even if they welcomed her with loving arms. She wished fervently that none of them would ever find out. It would be best if the Weasleys thought that she had moved away, possibly abroad.

There was a sudden knock at her door that had her alarmed at once; as it wasn't meal time. She glanced down at her clothes, a brown ankle-length skirt and a thick, black jumper. At least she was fully covered and guarded, clothing wise.

"Co-come in." she said, frustrated at the meekness of her voice.

The door opened and a stranger walked in. As she didn't recognize him, she waited for him to state his business so she could take her cue from him.

The man wasn't that old; perhaps a few years older than her. He had dark brown hair and muddy brown eyes in a surprisingly honest sort of face. Hermione didn't trust in his honesty one bit.

"Good evening. You must be Hermione. I'm...you can call me Edward."

He sounded very nervous. Hermione staid quiet, following "Edward" with her gaze as he carefully walked closer.

"No need to be skittish, I'm not looking for a shag. I just want to talk."

"Talk. About what? Why?"

"About myself...my life...or certain aspects of them." he hesitated to continue, "Because I have no one else to talk to. And because I know the girls at The Rooster have a silence clause added into their contract."

Hermione couldn't suppress a dark smirk, however brief. New details about her contract surfaced every other day, didn't they.

"Alright." she said, as she couldn't really refuse. She knew some of the other girls had patrons that just wanted to talk and be heard. She backed herself down to her bed and sat down while Edward seated himself in an armchair nearby.

Edward didn't seem to know quite what to do now that they had sat down. They regarded each other with vary eyes, and Hermione waited for him to start talking.

"How have you been?" he asked as if they were old acquaintances having tea, causing Hermione to look at him curiously.

"I'm surprised at your question. You can't possibly want to know if I am being mistreated as if I tell you I'm not happy, it will diminish your joy of feeling being heard. Don't you people need to grasp at the idea that it is possible us girls really want to listen to you, want to shag and be shagged by you?"

"You are very direct with your words, but I must say you have merit in them. Alright, I won't ask how you're doing or any other social niceties that don't come into play here, or at least not very well."

Edward had blushed and Hermione could see her words had upset him, even angered him. He didn't seem to her like a man who would take pleasure in someone else's misfortunes of mistreatment, and she had probably insulted him by implying so.

"I didn't mean to offend you, I'd just rather have it all in the open with as little pretension as possible. You can tell me about yourself or whatever you want to talk about, I'll listen. Go on."

She tried to smile but it didn't look very convincing. Still, her efforts seemed to have placated Edward who didn't look as flushed and undignified anymore.

"I apologize for how I reacted, you do have a point of course. This is a strange situation, a new situation. To me at least."

"I haven't been in this job very long, either." she told him, sneering at the understated-ness of such a statement.

"I have a lot of problems on my own, I wouldn't want to burden or bore you- -"

"Believe me, that would be vast improvement to the last few days I've had. Please, do tell me."

To her surprise, she really meant what she said. In a sad way it was funny how listening to someone else's problems could make you feel better even in these circumstances.

"Alright. " Edward said, considering for awhile what to say next. "I don't get along with my best friend's girlfriend. In fact, I sort of despise her. And I'm not sure if she even is his girlfriend, but she seems to think so."

Hermione stayed silent and looked wise.

"It might sound pathetic but he's my only friend, really. We met when we were just kids but we lost touch later because his parents didn't approve of me and my common roots. His family is quite...upper class. We have just recently gotten back in touch...his parents have died since, you see."

Hermione nodded, and gestured him encouragingly to keep going.

"I never really forgot him, even those many years we spent apart. And I'm not a fairy! And neither is he as far as I know" he told her sharply.

"I didn't think you were, but that's not a nice word to use." she reprimanded in a chilly voice.

"Once again I must apologize. I did not mean to shout or imply anything... Some people just don't understand real, strong friendship between boys. Friendship and bosom buddies are for witches, only."

"I understand. Your friend's parents didn't sound very agreeable or understanding."

"You can say that again!" he laughed, sourly.

"So what about his girlfriend? Why don't you like her?"

"The usual," he shrugged, "She's a rich bitch, with the right family. Just what his parents would have chosen for him. Not just that, they actually sort of intended her for him before they died...I'm not sure if it was implied only or a demand they had stated. I know him well enough to know that he doesn't want her, he doesn't even like her...but he doesn't seem strong enough to fight the family pressure, even if the family is gone. Or especially then."

Hermione thought of the way Ron talked about Harry after his death. She knew it was nearly impossible to fight with ghosts...not the kind of Nearly Headless Nick and the other house ghosts at Hogwarts, but the ghosts of people close to you who had died, and still held a power over you. Even more so now that they were dead than they had when they had been alive.

oooo

After an hour of conversation (Hermione had let him do the talking, though she wasn't totally passive when he'd said something that she wanted to comment on) Edward Apparated straight to Draco's wing of Malfoy Manor. Draco would be glad that Edward had gotten the lines of communication open with Hermione. He would help her deal with what Draco had done, once she learned to trust him a bit.

oooooooooooo

AN: We are now up to date with the pre-existing chapters. From now on updating will slow down considerably, but I would be lying if I said reviewing didn't help. What you liked or didn't like, what do you think of Edward, what are your theories for the fufure…everything is welcome.