A Day and A Night

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Chapter 23: A Tower and a Tale:

Anxious, with her nerves a bit frayed, Hermione dressed for her date with Draco with great care. She brought one dress, one skirt, as well as one pair of dress slacks, with her to Glendora, but the rest of the clothes she brought were casual and made for work. She had a feeling that the top of the tower would be wet and cold, although they could do something about both of those conditions, and she might feel silly if she dressed up, so she grabbed a nice, deep cranberry colour jumper and a pair of jeans and quickly dressed.

She brushed her hair, deciding to keep it long, and put on a bit of makeup. She started toward the door, to head for his room, when she remembered that Draco had mentioned that he would meet her at her room. Still feeling fretful, and not knowing what time Draco would come for her to take her up to the third floor, she sat down on her bed and opened the book, which she had brought with her to her room.

She had thought it would be funny to bring it on their ‘date’. She opened it to the story titled,
Milo and the Maiden Fair. Though written in the style of a folktale, a story from long ago, it enraptured and enthralled her. It told of a young man, a handsome prince, who walked from village to village, looking for his one true love. However, a curse placed on him at birth by an evil witch made it so that he could never find true love even when it was within his reach, even if he took a lifetime, and traveled to the ends of the earth to search for it, because it had to come to him.

Hermione finished reading this story, which did have a happy-ending, because in the story, this Milo finally found love by the form of a maiden who traveled to his own village, looking for him. Hermione couldn’t help but wonder if someone was trying to stop this story from coming true by killing outside girls when they came to the village. Was someone aware of this story, and was that person afraid that Milo would finally find his one true love?

Although, if Hermione believed in this story, then she could not believe her own theory that this book was a ruse, a fake, a forgery, planted to throw them off track. She would also have to believe the story about the ‘lost prince’ from the ‘lost Veela clan’, which she thought might be about Draco. That story didn’t have a happy ending. Draco hadn’t read the whole thing, but she had, and in the story, the lost prince became overwhelmed by the pull of his birthright, and he became confused, mixing bloodlust with love and desire, and he tried to kill the only woman that he ever loved, who in the end, killed him instead. She decided that she didn’t want Draco to read the end of that story, even if it wasn’t about him, because no matter what, it would never come true. Hermione could never kill Draco.

She still thought that this book was written by Violet, made to appear old so that no one would know that she wrote it, but the stories within could still be true. Violet admitted that she couldn’t talk about her ancestors because of an ancient curse, so perhaps that was why she wrote this book. Hermione wanted to start tests on the book immediately, to determine its age, but she had a date to go to first. A date with Draco.

How silly. She had a date with her mate. She thought that and smiled. She looked at the clock on the mantle on her fireplace and she decided that she would go to Draco’s door, instead of waiting for him to come to hers, because if she had to wait one second longer she might explode!

She went to the door again, but hesitated before opening it. Surely Draco would have come by now. Perhaps he had changed his mind about the date. Perhaps he no longer wanted to pursue that sort of relationship with her. On the other hand, maybe it was something more mundane. Perhaps he had fallen asleep. It could be something horrible. Perhaps he had fallen in the shower, hit his head, and was now unconscious on the bathroom floor.

That last thought was asinine, she knew, but she would use that worry as the reason to go look for him. She tucked the book under her arm, her wand in her pocket, checked her reflection in the mirror one last time, and walked out the door.
Walking along the hallway to his room, she thought about his visceral reaction to her in the chamber earlier, and again about what happened the day before in the forest with her hand. Hermione had promised Draco that she would be the strong one, and she would keep that promise. If he felt the least bit out of control tonight, she would have to stop him; somehow, without threatening whatever it was that they had between them. Thinking these things, she arrived at his room and knocked lightly on the door. When he didn’t answer, she placed her hand on the doorknob, turned it to the right, and opened the door slowly, the creaking of the hinges sounding loud and foreboding.

She poked her head in the door, looked around, but there was no one there. There was a lit hurricane light in the corner of the room, on a small table, clothes strewn around the room, the bed pillows rumpled and on the outside of the covers, but no Draco Malfoy. She frowned. He had better not stand her up! She walked to the bathroom. The rude little bugger had better be in there. She almost hoped that he had fallen and hit his head on the tiles now, because that she could forgive. If he stood her up on their very first date, there would be no forgiveness for the rude bastard.

She didn’t knock. She merely opened the door. The bathroom was dark and empty. Now she was slightly worried. This castle was so massive, with turrets, towers, numerous wings, three floors, so Hermione had no idea where she should start to look for him. Didn’t it even have a moat? What if he was in the moat?

How was she to find him? She didn’t want to encounter Milo or Cat’s father, so she couldn’t search around the castle for him, so instead she started back to her own room, when she heard a woman behind her say, “Miss Granger?”

She turned quickly.

“I was asked to give you this.” The woman held out a plain white envelope. Hermione smiled politely, took the missive from the servant and walked back to her room. She opened the door, stepped inside, and closed the door before she opened the note. She was almost afraid to read it. She slipped her finger under the flap, opened the envelope, and a piece of vellums, ivory coloured, paper came wafting out, on its own accord, floating around her head, throughout the air, and landing, opened, on her bed.

She stepped over to read it.

I know you, Granger. By now, you’re angry, assuming that I have stood you up. Undoubtedly, at first, you were worried that I had forgotten, or that I was asleep, or maybe that I had even fallen and hurt myself. Then, when you couldn’t find me, you had thoughts of hurting me yourself.

Well, Princess, I can’t wait to show you how well I know you, but for me to do that you must come to the tower to meet me. Seriously, would I stand you up? Come now, don’t keep me waiting, because that would be rude, and I’m the only rude one around here. D-

Hermione smiled and said, “Well, that was rather nice.” She placed the pretty piece of paper back in the plain envelope, stuck it in the top dresser drawer, and ran out of the doorway, down the hall, to the stairway that would take her to the top of the tower. Holding out her wand for light (and protection), Hermione started up the stairs. She placed the book on the top step, reached the large wooden door, and lifted the latch. She pushed the door outward, the cold air confronting her like an adversary. She placed her arms around her body, walked around the top of the tower, saw him as he faced outward toward the night sky, and called out, “Draco?” He didn’t turn around immediately. He stood with his back toward her; facing the never-ending landscape and the dark, endless night.


He knew she was there before she opened the door. He found that he could sense her now. He sensed her fear earlier, when she was locked in that god-awful chamber with Iver. He sensed her sadness when she was in the room they were using for their office. He even sensed her happiness when he kissed her right before she left to get ready for their date.

And he sensed her apprehension now, which mirrored his own, even before she opened the door and called out his name.

After he left her earlier, to get ready for their date, he felt restless. He tried not to think of his previous nightmare, and he tried to think of only their date, but the two things became jumbled together. As he dressed in a pair of black trousers, grey jumper and black jacket, he also thought of Milo’s words from the day before. The other man told Draco to claim her now or others would. He told Draco that he had competition for her. What did the man mean by that? Was he referring to himself, or to other Valdes?

Milo had been searching for his bloody mate for years, so why would he suddenly want another man’s mate? He even acknowledged that Hermione was Draco’s, before Draco openly acknowledged it. Still, how did one go about claiming a mate? Did he need to write up a formal invitation to her? Was there an ancient ritual? If there was, it probably involved that stupid room, so that was out.

While he tied his shoes, sitting on the bed, he pondered that very thing. He would have to find out how to claim her as his mate, because he was tired of denying it. He had spent the better part of his life denying it, but he would deny it no longer. Perhaps there was something it that book of folktales that would tell him how to claim her. Perhaps it was as simple as saying it aloud. Was it merely finding the person that you wanted to live the rest of your life with, and acknowledging that fact? Was it something more ritualistic? Why did any of this matter? Draco wasn’t even a Valdes, he hardly had any Veela blood, and Hermione had none, so in the light of day, when all of this was said and done, none of this would matter. Would it?

He started down the corridor toward her door, his heart heavy with regret, fear, and apprehension. He had dark thoughts again, which he once again had to suppress. He knew he would fight for Hermione, to the death if necessary, but how could he fight against himself, if he proved to be the biggest threat? That scared him most of all.

He stayed outside her bedroom door, his hand up, ready to knock, for at least twenty seconds, before he turned around to leave. He wanted to keep her safe, and he wasn’t sure that he was the person to do that. Every fiber of his being told him that he would never hurt her, but still, there was always that slight shadow of doubt. He went back to his room, wrote her a note to cancel their date, stuck it in an envelope, and then called for one of the servants to deliver it to her.

While he waited for the servant to come to his room, he changed the note at the last moment, to say that he would meet her on the top of the tower. Then he walked up the stairs that led to the tower, and he waited for her, his mind blank until he sensed her on the stairs, and then at the door, and then directly behind him, as she called out his name, “Draco?”

She placed her hand on his arm, and even through the thick wool of his jacket and jumper, his skin tingled at her touch. His hands clenched at his sides before he turned to face her. He ached to touch her, stroke her skin. His mouth watered with want for her taste. His groin grew tight with keenness and want. Finally, he turned to face her.

Her hand dropped from his arm, but he reached for it before it fell completely, and brought it up to his mouth. He kissed her fingertips, and then kept her hand in his. The touch of her hand in his sent shivers down her spine. She closed her eyes for the briefest moments, to regain her composure. She said his name again, but he didn’t hear it. He felt it.

She removed her hand from his and touched his face, stroked his cheek. She let her hand travel lightly down his face, took his hand again, and without words, she walked with him around to the other side of the tower. She stood still, looking out at the land below them. He stood behind her, and placed his arms around her waist. She leaned against his body.

The moon behind them was bright, but not full, and there was already a multitude of stars in the sky. There were a few patches of clouds, but the sky was mostly clear and bright, even if it was dark and black. Hermione could see beyond the hills, and the rolling fields, to the mountains and the enchanted forest, to the dales and the marshes and the moors. They were so high that she could even see the loch.

“I can see everything,” she said. “It’s so beautiful and magical up here. Somehow, it seems less intimidating and more miraculous at night.”

Draco let go of her waist, and walked around to the other side of the tower. He had yet to say a word. He leaned back over the ledge of the lower wall and she came to stand beside him. Her shoulder touched his, and she said, “Look how high we are, Draco. This is so exhilarating. It’s freezing up here, but beautiful.”

He placed his hand on her back, and rubbed it up and down. He told himself that it was to warm her, and give her purchase, to help her not be afraid of heights, even though she had not exhibited any fear. Really, he just wanted to touch her.

She loved that he had placed his hand protectively on her back. He rubbed it up and down, and she shivered again. He thought she was cold, but she was merely excited. She turned to face him, and he dropped his hand. She missed his warmth immediately, but her fear was short lived, as he removed his jacket, placed it around her shoulders, and for added warmth, he placed his arms around her. He rubbed her shoulders first, and then wrapped her into the confines of his arms. She placed her head on his chest.

“Won’t you be cold?” she asked. She had realized that he had yet to speak, but now that she had asked him a question he would have to speak, wouldn’t he?

He merely shook his head no. However, he kept his arms around her and even began to move slightly back and forth, vaguely swaying, as if the breeze was the momentum behind his movement.

She said, “This castle reminds me a lot of Hogwarts. I was always so cold there. In Gryffindor tower, I swear, sometimes in the winter, the wind would seep into the walls, even though they were made of stone. It was almost as if you could feel the tower move with the wind.” She lifted her head and smiled at him.

He smiled back. He wanted to say something, anything to her, but he couldn’t think of one single thing to say. All he could think was…he wanted her so much. He loved her so much. He had waited for her for so long.

Since he was not inclined to talk, she continued. Still standing in his embrace, almost as if they were dancing, she said, “But who am I to complain. I bet sleeping in the dungeons were worse. It would have been cold even in the spring and fall. It must have always been dark, dank, and wet.” She looked up at his face again, and noticed that the moonlight danced across his features, and his smile, and she thought he was so handsome. His hair was even lighter in the moonlight. She placed her hand in his hair, threading her fingers through the silky locks.

“What are we doing here?” he finally asked.

“He speaks,” she said with a laugh. She removed her hand from his hair, but kept it on his neck. “I brought the book with me. It’s on the top step on the other side of the door. I thought we might read it later, to answer your question as to what we’re going to do.”

“That wasn’t my question,” he said, his face a mere mask of emotions. “What are WE doing?”

“We’re having our first date,” she said solemnly. He dropped his arms from around her. She felt immensely cold, and immediately bereft of his comfort and companionship. Then she understood, and she became angry.

She took his jacket from her shoulders, held it out to him, and said, “I seriously can’t do this. I’m sorry. I want to have a date, a real date, but if you can’t even do that, then I’ll go.” He refused to take the jacket, so she let it slip from her hand, down to the floor.

She walked around toward the door. Then she turned back so suddenly, that Draco backed up a step, his lower body pressed against the low wall of the outer edge of the tower. “I mean, seriously, Malfoy!” she said, with anger, “It’s a bloody date! Can’t you even handle a bloody date? What are you afraid of now? That you’ll suck my blood, or throw me over the ledge, or what? If you really want to hurt me that badly, then maybe we should part ways! You’re so stupid sometimes!”

“Says the lady with the large vocabulary,” Draco said. “Seriously? Stupid is the best you can come up with, because I hate to break it to you, but I’ve been called shoddier things before, and mostly by you.”

Her anger slipped away, and she suddenly looked sad, which made him sad. She said, “You said in your note that you knew me, but you don’t even know yourself, Draco Malfoy, and until you do, don’t bother me again. We’ll work together, but that’s it. I’m done. I’m tired of it. You won’t hurt me, but it’s a shame that I’m the only one who knows that. I refuse to act like some sad, simpering woman who’s afraid of you when I’m not. I’m not afraid of you. Too bad you can’t return that sentiment, because you, Malfoy, are scared to death, but of the wrong thing. You’re not scared that you’ll hurt me. I think you’ll secretly afraid that I’ll hurt you!” She went to the door and opened it.

As if on cue, he slammed it shut before she could cross through the opening. He pressed her against the wood of the door, his chest against her back, and whispered in her ear, “I had a dream after your attack this afternoon that I raped you, Granger, in the most brutal, barbaric way. In my dream, you cried, and fought against me, and I didn’t care. I wanted to hurt you. I did, too. I took you by force, and I used power and I inflicted pain. How can I be sure that won’t really happen?”

He heard her sniffle, so he didn’t know if that meant that she was crying, or cold. She placed her forehead on the wood and said, “Maybe you can’t be sure of that, but as you keep saying to me, that you know me, I know you too, and I know you won’t hurt me, even if you don’t know it, but I’m not having this conversation ever again. It’s up to you now.”

Her hand went to the handle of the door. She tried to lift the latch. His hand went over hers, pulled it away, and he turned her around to face him. He said, “I think you have a good effect on me, Hermione. I think I can control my actions. I don’t want to ruin our date.”

He leaned down and brushed his lips against hers, lightly, soft as he could. He looked up at her, and then came forward and kissed her deeper, erasing each disturbing thought from his mind. The thought of losing her cut him to the quick. It sent chills to his heart. He had spent his whole life as someone who was always on the outside, wanting to be let in, wanting someone who could be a lover and a friend, wanting and waiting for her, and he wouldn’t let his own uncertainties push her away, not when she was open and responsive to letting him in her life.

Her arms came up to wrap around his neck. He murmured into her hair, “You’re right, I think I’m secretly afraid of you. What a load of shite, right?” He kissed her hair, and she grew soft against him. “Don’t scare me anymore, Granger, okay?” He smiled and when she lifted her face to look at him, she smiled, too.

He wanted her, and he loved her, and he would never hurt her, but could she return that promise? His lips found hers again and his fear passed away to desire, and his nightmare from earlier turned into a reality, in his arms. Draco was selfish, because he should be the strong one, and he should let her go, but he couldn’t, so he was damned.

Damned to love her forever.

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