I have a question to ask all my lovely readers. Please stick around for the A/N at the end of the chapter. I still don't own Harry or his magical friends.

#24 – Control

What can I say to get this through your heads? YOU MUST HAVE CONTROL OVER YOURSELF.

Your body, heart, emotions. Everything must be watched carefully. If you take one step down a dangerous path, you will fall off the edge of a cliff. Never allow this woman to worm her way into your heart.

There is an old saying, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer". I say, wherever your enemies are, stay the hell away from them. Nothing good comes from tangling yourself in a mess that you can't get out of.

Dear reader, do not explore uncharted waters. Do not get caught. Remember, the reality of what you are doing is harsh but true: you are in this for the sex. Because really, why are you reading this book if you want a nice, stable relationship? Don't lose sight of what you set out to do.

Control yourself. If you feel yourself falling, cancel it right away. Get away from the woman.

She's probably a nine-tailed fox*.

"What happened?"

"I really needed to go."

"To the bathroom?"


"Why didn't you say so? You scared Hermione half to death!"

I smirked at Blaise. "I'm good at scaring people, aren't I?"

He frowned. "You're okay, right?"

I held up my right hand and waved it nonchalantly. "Of course."

I was not okay. I didn't know what was happening. Blaise bought it. "Well, well, Mister Malfoy, why don't you go finish your meal?"

Hermione didn't ask any questions when I got back. She was clearly worried, but she smiled and held out a plate that had a cupcake on it. "I ordered it while you were gone," she said, beaming. "Happy Birthday."

I held her hand.

Blaise went back to the Leaky Cauldron. Hermione and I dropped him off and walked the streets of Diagon Alley, hands entwined. She spoke first. "Draco?"


"I'm not sure if I've ever told you," she said. "Thank you."

It was dark, evening, and I paused under a streetlamp to face her. No one was in sight. "Thank me for what?"

She squeezed my hand. "Thank you for not getting hurt too badly."

I felt my conscious freeze.

"I'm really glad that nothing too serious happened to you. I'm not sure…what I would do if you never recovered."

I felt wrong again. All at once, I felt I needed to get away, so she wouldn't see though me. I tried to ungrasp her hand, but it happened again – my muscles refused to obey my will. My hand ceased to exist, as if it were paralyzed.

Hermione kept talking, but I couldn't pay attention to any of it. Then, all of a sudden, the pain hit me. It wasn't overwhelming, not at all, but it did sting. What did this mean? I couldn't move my hand or feel it, but I could feel this? I had to make it move. I had to make it move.

And it did. I yanked Hermione roughly, and she shrieked in surprise, tripping over her cloak as I walked briskly up the street.

"What?" she asked. "What?"

As I walked, I thought. What if my hand stopped moving entirely one day? Panic. Reality. Denial. Anger.

"Hermione," I growled as I walked, "I need you to do something for me."

Bewildered, she said, "What is it?"

"My Healer final exams are a week from now. Don't see me until then, or I won't be able to study." It was a lie.

"O-okay," she said. "Good. Studying is wonderful. I wish you the best of luck. But, Draco, where are we going?"

I didn't know where we were going. So, I stopped. "Where do you want to go?" I asked her.

Her confusion only grew. "It's your birthday. You decide."

"I just want to be with you," I blurted out.

I hadn't meant anything special or provocative by it, but Hermione flushed a deep shade of magenta and started to bubble speech inarticulately. "B-be, be with me? Ha, ha ha, ha! What do you – no, did you even mean? – I-I, anyways-!"

I leaned in suddenly to kiss her, and she shut her eyes on instinct. I paused, inches away from her lips, and stared at her face. I stared and stared, but did not kiss her. Eventually, an eye popped open. Then another.

She frowned. "Are you going to kiss me or stare at me?"

"Stare," I replied.

The frown deepened. "I didn't piss you off, did I?" she asked.


"You know, Draco, as long as it was brought up, in regards to, um… se- ah, you know…"

I listened, and did not move. Our faces were still inches apart.

"I – I was raised by rather conservative parents, and I was taught to not…get up to that kind of…" She blushed. I could tell she was having a hard time. There was something about seeing Hermione with nothing to say that I really liked, so, to make it harder for her, I leaned in another inch. She gulped, staring at my lips, and continued. "I wouldn't mind, I mean, if it was with you, but I – So, so I, ah, have my own philosophy with it, though, and that is that…"

I leaned in one more inch.

"…that I not sleep with anyone…"

Our lips met.

"…until I'm engaged…"

We kissed and kissed, until our lips were swollen, and our heads were light, and our lungs deprived of air. And then, for good measure, I kissed her once more before she apparated off to my mother's mansion, leaving me alone.

I stared at the empty space she had been in seconds before. "I'm sorry," I whispered into the cooling air. "I guess I can't do more than kiss you."

After all, I couldn't marry her.

Not now.


My hand was better, for the whole. I stopped taking the medicine completely, and the strange symptoms I had vanished. My reason for sending Hermione away for a week wasn't so I could study, but so that she wouldn't notice. Blaise owled me with the news that he was going to stay for my father's wedding and then return to Hogwarts.

I told him to keep Hermione company.

The whole week passed, and I started to wonder if I had overreacted because of my hand – it had been just a little bit of stiffness, numbness, and immobile behavior, but now it acted as it usually did. Like a hand.

And now, the day I had waited for. My Healing finals. They would be at ten. It was eight when I met my mother and she asked me to go to the hospital to check on my father.

"I was going to go," she explained, "But Maria asked me to babysit Ursula, and Hermione is busy studying in her spare time, so I want you to go."

"Why bother?" I mumbled. "We should just cut ties with him."

Narcissa smiled sadly at me. "Draco, dear boy, just go this once. I'm sure he'll be happy to see you."

And I went, just because I saw the sad gleam in her eyes. She still loved my father. Even if she had been trapped in a loveless marriage with him, she had still loved him. Even though he had abused her physically, emotionally, and mentally, she still loved him. Even though he had cheated on her, she still cared.

I would go, even if it was just so she was happy.

"I haven't seen you since you saved Lucius's life," said Maria when I met her outside the hospital room.

I tried civility. "I've been busy."

"I heard it was your birthday. You're an adult, now. Congratulations."

"Thank you."

"Are you here to see Lucius? Come in."

He was awake. Lying on his back, unmoving, staring straight up at the ceiling. Maria hesitated at the mouth of the room.

"He's healing slowly," she said. "He isn't mute, anymore, but he only talks when he really needs to. It's hard for him."

She excused herself, and I had no choice but to walk up to the bed and sit in the chair next to it. His cold eyes snapped to my face.

"Mum sent me," I said. "Don't think I'm here because I want to be."

He stayed silent, and looked back to the ceiling.

"You know," I whispered, unsure of what was about to come out of my mouth, "I'm taking my Healing Final in two hours. I guess I never thanked you for putting me into that class."

He avoided thanking him even now. He wasn't even sure if the bastard was listening to him.

"I wanted to be a Healer because of what happened to Ashley," I said. "Did you know that?"

Whether or not he knew, the Malfoy Patriarch showed no signs of it.

"When I found her, just before she died," I continued, "She had a hole in her stomach, just like you. I saved you. I know about healing, now. I didn't then. I never want to let another person die in front of me when I know I can save them. I think, I would have been able to save her."

The Malfoy father wheezed suddenly, and Draco snapped to attention as he tried to form words. "You," he hissed with great difficulty, "You…not. She…would've d-" he sputtered, coughed, and finished. "…anyway…"

You couldn't have saved her. She would have died, anyway.

I stood, and without another word, headed toward the door.

"Wait-!" he wheezed after me. I waited, not turning back to face him. He coughed. "Attacker…don't remember…any of it."

I left without looking back. On my way out of St. Mungo's, I stopped the Healer in charge of my father. "Check him for signs of magical memory erase," I said. "And the imperious curse, just to be on the safe side."

The Healer smiled. "You care for your father a lot, don't you?"

I stayed silent.

"How's your hand? Still having stiffness problems?"

"It went away after I stopped taking the medicine completely. I have a question," I said.

The Healer said, "Shoot."

Nervousness prickled the hairs on the back of my neck. "There was a bit of a sharp pain the other day."

"Oh, that?" The Healer laughed. "Well, if you'd stopped taking the medicine completely, of course it'll hurt a little. Endure it for a week or so, your wrist should be fully healed by then.

As I left to take my Healer Final, I didn't mention to him that the pain had begun before I stopped taking the medicine.

I thought of Hermione, and her words the week before. I had the faint notion that she was hinting that she wanted to be engaged someday. There was a small, nervous twitch in my hand, and I knew that I had let this go on too long.

It had gone too far.

* A nine-tailed fox, according to legend, is a demon disguised as a human woman, who eats the livers of men after seducing them.

This story, shockingly, is coming to a close. I will not have 101 chapters. I'm much too lazy. Please review! I greatly appreciate it!

Now, for that A/N I mentioned:

Would anyone be interested in reading my original works? As much as I love fanfiction, I actually spend more time writing my own stories. Here are the summaries for three of the novels I am working on. PLEASE GO TO MY PROFILE TO VOTE ON WHICH, IF ANY, YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ. The majority will be posted on fanfiction's sister site, fictionpress.

Death Row

Lilith Glass had always hated criminals. Especially the ones in jail. They were dirty, rude, uncultured, profane, and over all, evil. She had always thought that, by joining Adam's agents, she would catch these people and turn them over to the law. What she never anticipated was for the law to turn one over to her as her bodyguard, fresh from Death Row.

"Brutal way to die, isn't it?"

In the Hall of the Mountain King

Jo, an ugly girl, is transported by magical means to another world. There, she hears stories about the kind, faithful, and gracious Mountain King. The Mountain King turns out to be a cruel, unkind, and sadistic Wizard who is blind.

"I never needed your love. I needed your eyes."

My Wife is 17

Link had been tricked into marrying his childhood friend, Alma. Neither mind the loveless marriage too much – he's busy with getting a degree in nursing, and she's busy with high school. Then she gets sick, and Link finally gets a job in a hospital. The problem? His seventeen year-old wife is his first patient.

"You hate me. But, I promised to stay with you, didn't I? Until death do us part."

Thank you for your consideration : )