“I can’t do this anymore.” Her voice carried the kind of finality that he hoped to avoid when lying in the dark of his bedroom. It wasn’t a new tone, exactly, but the words were different. They made his stomach churn in discomfort and his heart lurch.He should have seen it coming.
He sat up and licked his lips, refusing to look at her in all of her luscious curves and decadent brown skin. She was always warm to his touch and overheated for him. He could change her mind– put his hand between her legs, roll her over onto her stomach, and play with her the way he knew she liked. He could have her until she was just a body of need, her logical mind overwhelmed until he saw fit to let her think again.It was the way that he’d been staving off this conversation for weeks, if not months. She’d let him slide in between her work, his job, pleasure, stress, and having it out with her best friends about him. He was certain that the argument had given him a solid week of reprieve from this, but all good things had to come to an end. To try and prolong it any further would be an insult to her and everything they had together.
She’d let him keep this secret all this time because Hermione was everything, including merciful. They’d talked about everything: the war, what he’d been made to do, what she’d been made to do as well, their regrets, and everything in between.Everything except his parents.
He thought maybe he had a little bit more time to make her forget or at least figure out a way to tell her the truth, but she’d been the one to get the mail from his mailbox on the way to see him a few days ago. There was no doubt that she’d seen it. The expensive envelope and the seal of his family, the family he’d left behind what seemed like not long enough ago, was unmistakable.She’d seen it.
She probably had an idea of who he really was ages ago, but the seal had confirmed her suspicions.She’d known, he knew, and ever since that day, she had that look in her eyes that meant she had questions and was choosing not to ask them. Bless and curse her mercy.
He drew a hand through his hair and took in a shaky breath.He let out a breath and turned to look at her. She was lying on her side, sheets pulled up to her neck.
“I just… can’t, Dax.”His jaw clenched, “Dax… was my grandfather.”
She turned, shifting to meet his eyes.“It is… not even my middle name.” He turned his head and felt his straight, dyed brown hair slide against his forehead. They’d worked up quite a sweat. He could still feel it sliding down his back.
He turned back to take in her form and all of her wild curls. She’d let it grow in the years they’d been together to its impressive length that did almost nothing to weigh down her curls. She’d complain about trying to tame it later and he wondered if he could convince her to let him pull it while he had her up against the headboard before she left him forever.He sat up straight, finding some measure of courage to continue. It was now or never. It would be better for her to know why she was leaving him.
“The letter… is from my father. He wants me to come home. My mother is ill.”She sat up, taking his hand, and he could only wince at the feeling because he didn’t deserve her compassion. Those people he’d been born to didn’t deserve her compassion either.
“I’m sorry.”“Do not waste your sympathy. Both of them had it coming.”
Hermione licked her lips. Her mouth opened and closed, keeping what he was sure was something that was meant to be comforting to herself.“Would it be… too much to ask what happened?”
“Yes.” He grimaced at the tension in his voice before taking her hand and squeezing. “But if it will make you stay, I will answer.”Hermione frowned, “I’m not sure I want to stay if it hurts so much to tell me.”
His lips twitched. There she was, his girlfriend, the brilliant Hermione Granger seeing through all the mists and mirrors straight to the heart of him with those brown eyes that saw everything. He remembered when their eyes had first met across the room at the bar. Slate gray and brown meeting, mingling and having a conversation of too many words for them not to have said a word to one another. She’d been pulled away from their silent conversation, and he’d gone after her to introduce himself.Dax is what he told people to call him. It was how he introduced himself to everyone he met. With his dyed hair and regular clothes, no one thought twice about it, remarking on his interesting name and allowing him to charm them with all the skill he’d cultivated over the years. Gods how easy it had been, thinking that it would just be one night, maybe two, but she surprised him. She hadn’t fallen into his bed for his charm. She hadn’t even seemed inclined to take him to bed no matter how handsome she obviously found him. Instead, she talked him into sitting with her and actually talking about something more than the normal bar conversation. It was clear that her friends had ditched her for their conquests for the night, but she didn’t seem to mind. She had just come to watch the game with them and perhaps strike up some interesting conversation with a strange, maybe dance at most.
They’d traded phone numbers and somehow not once had he thought of taking her to bed when they met up for casual conversation. She was charming, alluring, bedazzling and so bright that he was awestruck. They were friends for months before they had started dating. Their lunch, dinner, and brunch meetings had taken on a different meaning when they called it official and she got promoted. Before long he was in love and before much longer he found that finally getting her into bed with him was more about proving himself worth it and relishing the way she moved when her mind was turned off.It had made him feel like he’d finally found something he couldn’t live without.
“My parents are wealthy. My family is wealthy beyond reason and morals. Untouchable in the eyes of the law to a degree. They believed that the only way to protect their wealth was to make sure they had heirs to do so, heirs they deemed appropriate. When my grandfather died, they engaged me to the daughter of one of their closest friends like we were fifteenth-century nobles.”Pansy Parkinson was a sly, conniving woman who saw in him more money than heart or feeling. She dug her claws in as deep as she could while he was doing his best to be the son they had raised him to be.
He escaped missing a large part of his heart, soul, and mind to the military. He survived the war and escaped again into the persona of Dax and his new life in England.He looked up at the ornate crown molding of the bedroom with a sigh. It was just the smallest touch of lavish to make the English townhome seem elegant but not gaudy. His grandmother had such taste.
“This house was my grandmother’s. She left it to my grandfather when she died, who in turn left it to me. I picked up odd jobs here and there to stay busy, to get out of the house since the fund my grandfather established for me is so well invested.”Hermione eyed him and his lips twitched into a wry smile. He could almost see the little checkmarks on her list of suspicions. It wasn’t because of his language, nor his clothes as he shopped bargain. It could have been the house that made her suspicious, but he bet it was because of his tastes.
Aside from one other, he was the only person she accompanied to wine tastings and other such events as Harry and Ron were the types to fall asleep during a symphony or drink all of the glasses rather than utilizing the bucket and avoiding embarrassment. It had made it incredibly hard to get them involved with her business that was all about high-quality food and fine dining during business deals. After all, after the war, she’d set about making sure that she never had to rely on government payments ever again to afford the necessities. She’d made sure that she could afford the finer things too. She’d taken etiquette classes to blend in with the people she rubbed elbows with and climbed to the top of her department.He thought for the longest time that they had grown up in a similar class until they talked about her past. The guilt had made him sick with grief and he’d channeled it into making sure he wasn’t an arse knowing that it would all come to an end.
“It was… only a matter of time before they found me, and I doubt that she is actually ill.”She frowned, “Why would your father make that up?”
“Because he’s a manipulative, conniving arse. She has always been delicate but not sickly. It is not the first time he has employed such underhanded means.”Hermione’s lips twitched, and she leaned against him, “Dax…”
He let out a shuddering breath, the familiar and almost hated the feeling of wanting to hear his name on her lips, his real name, washed over him. God, he hated this.“I can’t stay with you if you won’t trust me. You’ve trusted me with the war, with your mind, your body too… I just can’t understand why you won’t trust me with this too.”
He let out another breath.“I know there are things that I would never understand. My parents were dentists at a pro-bono clinic. I didn’t grow up with all the niceties in the world, but I grew up happy. Your past, whatever it is, feels like a wall and as stubborn as I am, I know when a wall won’t budge and when it’s too high and too wide to get around.”
He licked his lips and closed his eyes. He hoped she punched him as he looked at her. Her face was turned down and away from him. He lifted her head on the edge of his hand and braced himself for the end.“Your parents were killed in an oil fire in Cambridge. The warehouse leaked, and a guard threw a lit cigarette. It spread through the whole neighborhood.”
She frowned, “How did you know that?”The official report was inconclusive about the cause of the fire.
“What you don’t know is that the leak was intentional. A certain company wanted the strip, and given everything that was beside the warehouse, it was easier to burn it all, crash the property taxes, and buy out the owners.”Hermione’s eye widened and he watched her mind catch up and connect the pieces.
“The company in question got lots of publicity for paying out the owners to rebuild elsewhere, moving them into newer buildings that were vacant, for cleaning up the mess and condemning the oil company… A company that they owned a very large piece of and eventually bought out.”“Dax.”
“Three hundred and forty-one people for all of 2 billion dollars in cash, half of which was kicked back in the form of tax-breaks and under the table dealings.”“Dax.”
“The owners of the company, even went to the graves of all the victims, laying flowers, giving money to the victims’ families through the related foundation.”“Dax, stop it.”
He looked at her, “Malfoy Enterprises, Hermione. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy.”Her eyes grew wet as they darted around his face and her breathing grew labored. He didn’t flinch under her gaze. He had dyed his hair, but he had always taken after his father strongly. He had his nose and eyes, his cheekbones and jaw. There was only a hint of his mother’s softness in the fullness of his lips.
“Draco is my name. Draco Lucius Malfoy,” Her jaw trembled as she stared at him. “Could you ever stay with the son of the monsters who took your parents from you because they wanted a bit of land?”Hermione met his eyes steadily. Steadfast as ever they stared at one another. Slate gray and brown having a conversation that he wasn’t entirely privy to.
Her eyes narrowed, “What do you want from me, Dax?”He swallowed, “Say it, Hermione. Say my name.”
“Draco Lucius Malfoy, what do you want from me?”His jaw shook, swallowing, and looking at her lost and confused, “I… I want you to stay.”
Hermione took his hands and looked down, “Do you?”He licked his lips, and she threaded a hand through his hair, pulling the strands through her fingers.
“It is an impressive dye job.”“Vegetable dye.”
“Just in case?”“Sensitivity and dye resistance.” He clenched his jaw. “Platinum blonde is practically grey for the purposes of dyeing.”
“Why not change your name? Why live in this house?”“Revisit the part about my family being wealthy beyond reason and morals.”
“Political ties.”“From France into America.”
She tilted her head, “The military?”“Was approved, noble. Good publicity.”
“I have heard of Pansy. She and your mother are quite close.”“Of course, they are.”
Draco forced his breathing to remain slow as she stroked his hair.“The horrors your parents have committed, whether I’m a victim of it or not, do not make you a monster, Draco.”
He shuddered at the sound of his name. He hadn’t heard it for so long… He’d forgotten what it sounded like on anyone’s lips. It made his heart lurch and clench all at once.“Do you think no one can love you because of who your family is?” He swallowed and turned away from her, “Or is that you find it hard to love you because of who your family is?”
He grunted at the spike of pain and swung his legs to the edge of the bed. She grabbed his hand firmly and stopped him.“This is what I’m talking about, Draco,” he shivered as she tightened her grip on him. “You put your hands on me and, for not one moment, do you let me overwhelm you with pleasure. I know you like making me feel good, making me feel wanted, but you never let me do the same. While I’m glad that you told me, Draco, your real name isn’t the wall I was talking about. It’s this desperate need to wrap me up in what you can do for me, to me, rather than what we could be together.”
He looked at her. She tugged gently until he turned to her. She took his other hand and smiled at him.“For god’s sake, you won’t even let me give you a blow job.”
He swallowed and met her gaze.“I’m here because I know you. Rose by any other name and all that. You can be a bit of an arse, and a prat, but I love you anyway. Dax, Draco, whoever.”
His eyes burned and a little blossom of hope bloomed in his chest.“Won’t you let me?” She pulled him towards her, “Won’t you love yourself too?”
Draco pulled back, “What if I am? What if I am just as much of a monster as they are? What if I go back and I change?”“You didn’t leave because you thought the name Malfoy would change you. You left because you refused to be changed.” He felt his breath catch in his chest as she gave him the sweetest look he didn’t deserve. He was certain there was no way he could fall deeper in love. “I don’t think this faked attempt at getting you back there will do anything to you, Draco except maybe piss you off.”
Draco sunk onto the bed and let her cup his face, tugging him down to kiss, “Let me love you, Draco. All of you?”Draco closed his eyes and leaned forward, pulling her against him, a hand in his hair.
“Will you… come with me?”“Of course. Will you stop dyeing your hair?”
“If you wish,” he turned his face into her shoulder, “S-Say it again?”“I love you, Draco,” she said softly, pressing a kiss to his shoulder and wrapping her arms around him. “I love you.”
“Je suis desole, Hermione,” he gasped in her shoulder. His eyes burned as tears slipped from them and a breath rattled out of him. “Je suis vraiment désolé.”She hushed him, “It’s not–”
“Ils ne–” He shuddered as she tightened her arms around him. He didn’t know why he was saying this, why it was all coming out now, but he couldn’t stop it. “Personne n’ecouterait.”“You tried.”
“N’a pas essayé assez fort.”“You did everything you could. Your family having enough money to buy the legal system does not undermine the fact that you tried to do what was right.”
Draco shuddered. Her words washed over him and carried away the rest of his strength. He leaned against her and closed his eyes, breathing“Come back to bed?”
He nodded, crawled up on the bed with her, and slid beneath the duvet. For once, he let her hold him close. She threaded a hand in his hair.It isn’t perfect. God knew what he’d have to deal with upon stepping back into “Draco Malfoy” if he went back and how it would change their relationship. If he didn’t, what would Lucius try next?
“Worry about it later,” she kissed his forehead. “Be here with me.”He smiled and relaxed against her. He kissed her shoulder. He doesn’t know anything except for the fact that she hasn’t left him and she’s holding him like she wouldn’t let go.
He licked his lips, “What is it that you want, Hermione?”“I want you to stay.”
He chuckled and sighed, snuggling up to her and hoping that it would all be alright.