Chapter Fourteen: Revelation
AN: Ahem. I'm just going to pretend it hasn't been three and a half years since I last updated this story and sidle into my author's chair and continue on. Agreeable? Of course I strongly suspect that a large number of my original readers are no longer active on this site, and no longer have the email addresses that their accounts were registered to. Well, to all my old readers, I hope you find your way back! And to all of you who are joining me anew, welcome! I look forward to continuing this journey with you!
Thanks so much to kitcatscratch, Princess of Mirkwood2, cali girl, bookluver1998, LobsterMobster95 (I love your username, btw), Blue Eyed Baby Girl, l0stinl0ve, ir0nm0use71, TheLadySongSerenade, Ceralyn, semantics, dramione143, hottopicgirl, tweater, LionessBug, GhostStar54, Scarlet Dewdrops, 4SnowWolf, Alle, Misses Prongs, Hans153, Stella Cosmopolita, softrose, bbspoke1017, Eltanin Rose, IGOTEAMEDWARD, overzealousbunny, and ApterousAngel for reviewing the last chapter, from the time it first went up to just this month! Your words were very much cherished, and ultimately were what brought this story back to life. Thank you!
Hermione sat curled in a chair by the window of her room at the Leaky Cauldron. The flashes of heat and nausea had given way overnight to wracking chills, and she was bundled up in a camisole, long-sleeved shirt, and sweater, as well as leggings under her jeans and two pairs of socks. She snuggled deeper into the thick blanket she had wrapped around herself – Tom had seemed quite alarmed when she requested it, despite the eighty degree weather outside – and stared out the window. The glass had fogged from the heat inside the room, and the image of the world outside appeared warped as strangers bustled along through the streets of London.
Draco had not contacted her again. His card still lay on the room's small table, but she hadn't given it much thought. She remembered the blank look that she had seen on his face when her blindfold slipped and shivered again, the tremor this time having little to do with her chills.
She had been so scared. So absolutely, mind-numbingly scared. But she had saved them. Why hadn't he saved her? Why had he just watched?
She clenched her teeth and hissed as a white-hot pain lashed through her joints. Gods, how long was this going to go on?
She was pulled out of her thoughts when there was a knock at her door. She gripped her wand tightly and moved her arm out from under the blanket to point it at the door. She was too weak to get up and answer it properly.
"Come in," she said, trying to make her voice steady and strong, so that the other person wouldn't guess how weak she was right now.
The door swung open and Hermione dropped her wand, letting her head fall back in relief at the sight of the person who entered. Blaise looked well, damn him, but as he was only a few steps ahead of Hermione in the progression of the withdrawals, his health was a very welcome sight.
"Granger." The dark-skinned wizard smiled at her. "You look like death!"
Hermione let out a weak laugh that made her bones ache. "I feel like it. How long did it take for you to get past this?"
Blaise shrugged and stepped into the room completely, shutting the door behind him. He took something from his pocket and set it on the small table, right beside Draco's card. She recognized the vial of clear powder immediately. "Ishya's back in business. Apparently Potter's satisfied that Draco's held up his end of the deal and dropped charges against her. Told her about you, and she asked me to bring you this. It should be enough to get you through until you manage to reformulate the potion."
Hermione shook her head. She had come so far in withdrawals, why should she use the potion now? Might as well wait it out. Besides… "I don't know if I'm going to be going back to reformulate it." Her voice sounded weak and shaky. She burrowed deeper into her quilt.
Blaise frowned as he took in the meaning behind her words. He picked the vial up and sat down in the chair opposite her, turning it in his hand so that the fine, transparent crystals caught the light.
He was silent for a moment, his face strangely calm. It was a look that Hermione wasn't accustomed to seeing on his face. It reminded her more of him in their Hogwarts days, when Blaise was always that stoic, silent shadow in the midst of the class. She turned her attention to the window, his disposition putting her on edge.
"This has caused quite a lot of trouble for everyone," he finally said. "It was created with the best intentions, but now look. You're in this pain, Draco's absolutely distraught by what's happened to you, Pansy is still alive, a tragedy in itself…" He paused and closed his hand around the vial before looking at Hermione. "Do you despise being around him so much?"
Hermione continued to stare out of the window. Tears threatened at the edge of her eyes and she swallowed hard. She noticed Blaise leaning forward in her periphery, but she kept her attention fixed firmly on the window. If she looked at him, she may cry.
Because the truth was, no. She didn't despise being around him. She missed being around him, in fact. But she couldn't. Because when she saw that he was in danger, she acted. She saved them. When he saw that she was in danger, he watched.
Blaise's touch on her face was gentle, and she allowed him to guide her to look at him. His dark eyes were warm but distant, and finally she let a tear fall. It tracked its way down her face, and as she dipped her head to avoid his eyes it coursed to her lips, spreading through the seam and moistening them. Blaise's thumb swept deftly across them, clearing the moisture, before he retracted his hand.
She blushed, looking away, and swept her tongue over her lips to clear the remains of the tears. He was trying to comfort her, she thought, and it was nice of him. But…
Her head whipped around, her gaze finding him again, her eyes wide. "You bastard!"
She had stopped shivering, and the pain was leeching out of her body. She could feel her heartbeat quickening as her temperature rose. Her mind flicked back to his touch, to him running his thumb across her lips.
Her mind seemed to be speeding up and slowing down, all at once. Before she knew what she was doing, she was up, flinging the quilt off of her and trying to open the window while taking off her sweater at the same time. Gods, it was hot! She needed fresh air. Blaise stood as well, turning to extinguish the fire that she had burning in the hearth. She gathered her hair and twisted it up and away from her neck as she began to pace, trying to keep calm.
"Granger, I need you to listen to me—" Blaise broke off, his breath hitching as Hermione let out a frustrated growl and pulled off her long-sleeve shirt before returning to pacing, her chest heaving under her camisole. "I've been using the potion too, so we have to be careful to—"
Hermione whirled to look at him, confused at his words, and that was when she saw it. His eyes were narrowed almost predatorily, the muscled in his arms and chest taught with restraint. His breathing was accelerated, his full lips parted slightly to allow him to breathe. The muscles in Hermione's abdomen and thighs were taught, on edge, and she felt, very deep down, an undeniable need.
Her lips parted, and without thought for what effect it may have, she let out one broken, pleading word. "Blaise."
They weren't far away from each other to begin with, only on opposite sides of the room, but it still seemed like he reached her with impressive speed. He pulled her against him, melding the lines of their bodies, as his strong hands traveled up her sides under her camisole. His mouth met hers in an almost punishing way, and she let out a small whimper of need.
It was that whimper that seemed to break him out of it, and in one smooth motion he grabbed her wand and Draco's card. He pressed the wand into her hand and the card against her chest. He put the tip of his own wand to the card, and before she could process what was happening, he muttered, "Tripudio," and she was being yanked on a hook behind her navel from the room.
Draco was just leaving the office when a loud banging began at the front door of the manor. He swore and hurried to answer it, wishing for the first time in a while that he had employed at least one new house elf when he took over as Master of the house. His father had been keeping to himself for the last two days and he liked it that way. Surely this racket would bring him out of his rooms.
He flung open the door and he had to take a second to process the sight that awaited him. Hermione Granger, dressed only in a camisole and jeans, her hair wild, with his portkey card stuck to her chest by a fine sheen of sweat, was panting on his doorstep, looking quite manic.
"Blaise…sent me…" Her words were escaping between heavy breaths, and at the mention of his friend, Draco knew immediately what had her in this state.
He swore loudly and grabbed her arm before Apparating up to his room. No way was he taking a chance on running into his father in the halls with her in this state. His thoughts flitted back to the revels during the war. No. Absolutely not.
"Bloody hell, Granger, how much did he give you?"
Hermione shook her head frantically. She started pacing, her hands fluttering as though she were trying to shake her nerves right out of them. He stepped towards her but she shook her head again, harder. "No. Not you."
He stopped, surprised. "What? Not me? Then who, Blaise?" He meant it as a joke, but then he realized how possible that was, and he felt like he had been punched in the gut.
She shook her head again, letting out an irritated scream. "No!" She kept pacing, her face flushed and teeth set.
"Then what, Granger?"
"I can't…" She shook her head. "With you." She sat down on his bed, crossed her legs, uncrossed them, and stood back up. "Make it stop!"
Draco sighed and began unbuttoning his shirt. "Fine, Granger."
Hermione scoffed. "No, Draco."
"Calm down." He grabbed her on her next pass as she paced and yanked her toward him, pulling her against his chest. She relaxed after a moment, his cooler skin soothing. "Listen, whatever Blaise gave you had to have come from Ishya. Which means its effects will pass on their own after some time. In the meantime, closeness will help them." Not as much as a good shag would, he thought, but of course he didn't say that to her.
He walked them backward and then pulled away from her long enough to lay on the bed before motioning for her to join him. She looked hesitant, but joined him reluctantly when he pointed out it could be quite awhile before the effect of the potion wore off. She curled up next to him, her head against his chest, and he rolled his eyes, staring at the ceiling. As glad as he was that she had come back, his mood was dampened quite a bit by what Blaise had done. What was the sense in drugging her before sending her back?
"Why didn't you help me?" Hermione's voice broke into his thoughts, small and pitiful.
He hesitated, unsure for a moment of how to explain it. "I was scared," he finally said. "You were right, I was a coward. But not because I was afraid for myself. I was scared because I was watching you be hurt."
He didn't realize what a monumental confession it was until he had said it, and his breathing stopped as he waited for her reply.
She let out a low chuckle. "I was scared, too. That's why I decided to protect you."
"You're a bigger person than I, Hermione Granger. You always have been."
He waited for her to answer, but only her deep, steady breathing met his ears. He began to relax, and after a few minutes, he was asleep too.
Whatever they had begun to build before that night had been cleared out to the very foundation, but maybe here they would begin building it up again.
Harry was floating; had been for days. Or, floating was the best way he could think to describe it. He wasn't moving forward or back, as far as he could tell, but the many grates of the Floo were flying past him, instead. It was definitely what Hermione had described to him when she had spotted Dean from just outside of the Grimmauld Place grate.
He had tried to fight his way out, to reach a grate, any grate, and escape the Floo, but he seemed to be lacking motility. So now he just floated, thinking. He needed to find a way out. He needed to warn them all. How could he have been so stupid? He should have seen it at the gala. It was all so obvious now!
But no one else had seen it either, he was sure, and he needed to find a way to tell them. So he floated, and waited, and thought. Malfoy had come speeding past him at one point. If that happened again, he could grab whoever it was and tell them then. In the meantime, he'd spend his time thinking of ways to get out himself.
The man everyone recognized as Harry Potter smiled and laughed politely at a joke that was being told to his table at Ron Weasley's engagement party. Ginny's hand rested on his, and he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. As he drew away, his eyes locked with the bride-to-be, and she smiled before indicating with a slight jerk of her head that he should follow her.
She excused herself from the table and after a few moments he followed suite. They met in the front hall of the venue and she pulled him into a dark enclave before kissing him softly.
She drew back and smiled wryly. "Gods, I hate your face."
AN: So it seems like not a lot was actually accomplished in this chapter. It seems. But that is not the case.
I love hearing people begin to put the pieces together when I'm crafting a story like this! Tell me what you're thinking?
See you next chapter! Good to be back! :D