Main Prompt: [Song] Beyond, by Leon bridges
Additional Prompts: [Quote] "The difference between a weed and a flower is judgement."—Dakota Johnson
My Future Depends on You
It had happened again. This was the third time in two weeks that she'd broken a lunch date with him. Their jobs were tough, but surely, she could spare a half-hour for him. Draco Malfoy sat at his desk, tapping his nails on the wooden desk. Ever since he had brought up the topic of marriage, Hermione had begun to pull away from him. It was almost as if she didn't see him the same way as he saw her. Maybe he should have learned that his feelings were true years ago and proposed then. Maybe having to wait for him to get his act together had turned her off. Maybe she was planning to break up with him. Maybe she was trying to force him to break up with her.
Draco growled slightly, pushing his chair back so he could stand up. He began to pace the windowed room. Stomping back and forth, he tried to calm the cacophony of voices in his head that were determined to make him overthink everything. He let out a bellow as he gripped the edge of the desk suddenly.
Then all went quiet. They all stopped. He could think again.
Stepping back to his desk, he lifted the calendar that was linked to Hermione's and studied it. Everywhere that he should have met her had a free space. No contradicting appointments, nothing that would stop her from seeing him. Aside from her own decision. And none of the notes that he had sent her were being responded to.
That was it. If Hermione wasn't going to speak to him, he was going to figure this out on his own.
First step. Search the office. As long as she wasn't there.
He was right. She was away. Even her secretary was at lunch, a fortuitous occurrence because that woman would win an Olympic gossip contest. Draco stood outside the door arguing with himself. His hand shook as it hovered over the metal handle, his fingers dropping to touch the coolness then retracting multiple times before he finally turned the handle. Taking his first step, all his doubts flooded in.
"I shouldn't be doing this. I'm sure she'd ask me not to do this and so, I shouldn't be doing it, but I am doing it. She is going to kill me," Draco muttered to himself as he took another step into Hermione's office. The sheer blast of her knocked the wind out of him, a wave of desire washing over him. He stopped in the doorway as the realisation of how much he missed her hit him.
"I have to do this," he reasoned, "even if only for my own selfishness." He tread softly into the room, which was laid out so precisely that Draco was sure Hermione would be able to spot the light footprints that were pressed into her soft carpet. He crept over to her desk and carefully picked up the papers that were on the top. Nothing exciting. Bills. Staff complaints. Death threats? Draco had thought they stopped. Oh. Journalists. Not the problem.
He dropped the papers back into the position he found them. While he wasn't sure what he was looking for, he knew that he would when he found it. Nonchalantly, he pulled open one of the drawers. His Slytherin tie? The little thief. Definitely his, the silver initials gleamed up at him.
Pushing the drawer shut, he moved onto the next. This one took a little more effort but there he found it. The shining piece of gold. Or rather, the stack of envelopes.
My dearest Hermione
He flicked to the next one.
They just kept going.
Draco's hands shook with anger. He stared at the damning pieces of evidence, his vision blurring the words together.
"Draco?" a soft voice entered the room. He looked up to spy Hermione hovering at the door. Her eagle eyes zoned in on the envelopes clutched in his grip. "Where did you find them? Draco?"
Dropping them all back into the dark drawer as if they had burned him, Draco started to splutter, the red haze fading into panic.
"Draco," Hermione's voice carried a warning edge to it. Draco swallowed nervously before making a quick decision. In a cowardly move that would have his father turning in his grave, he made eye contact with Hermione and… disapparated.
In his haste to disappear, he miscalculated and landed outside his office. With a growl, he pushed open his door and found Hermione at his desk, sitting in his chair.
Growling again - he was starting to feel like a bear - he stalked over to his sofa and pulled a cushion from it, something to keep his hands from grabbing her and shaking her; shaking her until she realised that she loved him as much as he loved her.
His hands gripped onto the emerald cushion, the family heirloom that was a pain to have. The stupid sentient cushion that linked to the Head of the Malfoy house and pulled their magic. The stupid thing that could make decisions to move to wherever the holder wished to go.
Clearly, Draco's want to be away from his office was not strong enough. He was still facing his demise.
"Why were you in my office?" Hermione asked, quiet but deadly.
"You missed lunch," Draco responded as if it was perfectly reasonable.
"So, you decided to root around my office?" The question came across so calmly that had Draco been a less intelligent man, he would have thought himself in the clear. But this was Hermione. He was still at risk of exploding the bomb.
"It wasn't the first lunch you'd missed."
"That doesn't give you permission." Hermione stood up from the chair, her voice still deathly calm.
"Well, why don't you answer the questions now? Who were the letters from?" Draco asked, taking a step towards her.
"That's none of your business," she responded, her voice rising slightly.
"My girlfriend is exchanging love letters with someone who's not me and it's none of my business?" Draco shot back, disbelief colouring his voice.
"No, it's not! If I wanted you to know, I would have told you," Hermione shouted.
"At least I know why I didn't get a response. I may see you as my future but clearly, I'm just a stepping stone for you," Draco snarled. "Who is he? Is it Ron? Viktor? Or is it another Slytherin? You clearly have a taste. The weeds of the bunch are your pride and joy." He hurled every word at her with the intention of hurting her.
"Draco, just drop it!" Hermione exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air. No matter how hard he tried, she wasn't backing down. He would learn in time.
"I just want to know! Why someone else? Are you ashamed of me?" he asked.
"Right now? Yes! Because you're being a child," she shrieked. Draco gasped in horror.
"You take that back!"
"Or what? You'll storm out? You'll throw a temper tantrum?" Hermione mocked, "Reality check, you already are." She spun on her heel and walked out of his office, slamming the door behind her.
"You complete and utter…" Draco's words were drowned out by the thump of the cushion against the wooden door.
The cushion shuddered as it hit the door, stuffing exploding from every seam. The sea of white flooded the wooden floor. The poor emerald covering lay limp against the frame, its tassels ruffled and tangled.
Draco stared at the shut door, chest heaving. Feeling his breathing calm and his resolve strengthen, he walked towards the door and picked up the cushion cover.
"Oh, pull yourself together," he ordered. The cushion went from being limp in his hand, to vanishing with all the stuffing, reappearing once again on his black leather sofa. Running a hand down his face, he collapsed on the sofa. This had been one emotional day.
Three days later, Draco found himself still in the office. He hadn't left to sleep or eat. Everything in his apartment reminded him of Hermione and he couldn't face that. If he couldn't see her, he didn't want to see anything that was hers. And she wasn't talking to him.
Lounging on the couch, Draco played with the soft tassels that surrounded the edge of the cushion. The silky threads slipped through his fingers as he twisted them again and again, his thoughts far away from the warm study where he sat.
"It's not that I don't trust her, but I just wish she'd talk to me," he muttered, certainly not talking to the cushion that perched beside him. "She hasn't been this jumpy since we started going out and she didn't know how to tell the boys that we were dating. Even then, the two nitwits had figured out what was going on."
He adjusted on the sofa, lying down so his feet dangled over the edge. He attempted to avoid the cushion, moving his head so that it was resting beside it. And he would have succeeded if it hadn't been for the errant tassel caught under his hair. Draco sighed dramatically.
"I just want to see her," he muttered. The cushion beside him began to vibrate slowly, looking as if an earthquake had occurred. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted it too late.
"Nooo," Draco cried as the world around him spun. He jolted upright, feeling the cushion leave his person. "Stupid cushi…" his voice trailed off as he lifted his head to meet two sets of bewildered eyes. Cringing, he turned his head to the side to meet Hermione's closed eyes, sensing her count to ten before she made the choice to kill him.
"Hello dear," he attempted to placate her. Her stern gaze shut him up quickly before she plucked the cushion off her knee and shoved it into his chest.
"Draco," she snarled through gritted teeth. She closed her eyes again, taking another deep breath. She opened them once more and gestured to the couple sitting across from them. "Draco, these are my parents. Mum, Dad, this is Draco… my boyfriend," Hermione spat out.
"You don't look particularly happy about that," her father pointed out. Hermione inhaled deeply.
"I know I said a lot of bad things about him growing up and that probably clouds your judgement, but I do love him. I just don't particularly like him at the moment," Hermione responded, sending an exasperated sideways look to Draco. "He's just a bit like a rose. Once you get past the thorns, you can appreciate him."
"I'm a rose," Draco preened.
"Shut up, dear."
"Was this what you were hiding from me?" Draco asked, turning on his chair to face her. Hermione sighed. Her hand reached for her glass, fingertips running along the edge of the rim, anxiety flooding out of every pore as she contemplated her next words carefully.
"Yes. There were a number of stories that were told to my parents, through letters and conversations and none of them painted you in a very good light. I was trying to fix their judgement before I brought up the topic of us. And then, you mentioned marriage and suddenly, my plan had a time limit and now…" Hermione's panicked trail of thought stopped while she tried to put oxygen back in her lungs.
"This was why you didn't respond?" Draco questioned softly. Hermione nodded. "You could have told me," he said, chuckling quietly. "Maybe then I wouldn't have panicked. I was certain that you were going to break up with me or were cheating on me and then I found the letters which I took as proof."
"They were from my parents."
"I realise this now. But they were awfully suspicious to find," Draco pointed out.
"You shouldn't have been snooping," Hermione rebutted.
"Fair point," Draco snorted. Reaching over, he grabbed her hand. "I'm sorry for snooping, for not trusting you, and for being a general lunatic," he said softly.
"I'm sorry for not telling you the truth. I do want to marry you someday. I want to be your wife," Hermione responded, before pulling her hand free and gesturing across the table, "but now, this is your obstacle to overcome. Ready for a challenge?"
"With you? Always."
Despite being told not to do this, I shall endeavour to continue. So please, read and review