"And then you know what she did? She just straight up spilled her coffee on me, right down my new robes! Can you believe the nerve!"
That was Draco Malfoy, as he currently paced and waved his hands around the living room of Blaise Zabini's posh penthouse. Blaise Zabini, who was currently worrying about the state of his new carpet, refrained from reminding him of it for the third time. All he had to wait was maybe two more minutes, and Pansy would be here, and he could nap with the clear conscience that someone was taking care of the 23 year old teenager that was their best friend.
Blaise yawned at him. "Oh wow I can't believe her, how dare she not know the difference between something as important as cashmere and velvet."
Draco furrowed his eyebrows. "No, that happened yesterday during lunch, I'm talking about how she's so stupid to get mad at me about my filing system. Wait, are you even listening to me?"
Before Blaise could roll his eyes and say 'Oh no no, I am paying attention to the most trivial dispute in the world, please do go on', the door opened and Pansy came in, greeting them both before setting her bag on the table. "So, what'd I miss?"
Blaise's apartment was always the one they hung out in, because Pansy's apartment was always occupied by her roommate Janice, whose job was catalog shopping. Okay so maybe she had an actual job, but Pansy didn't know. She probably should have done her search for someone she was going to live with more thoroughly, but there was only so much attention to detail you could do when you were on the run from rich pureblood parents who wanted you to get married to some thirty something year old aristocrat.
Blaise interrupted Draco before he could begin boring Pansy to tears. Unlike him, Pansy didn't have that sort of patience. She was more likely to punch you in the face than make an excuse to leave. "Draco was just telling me how he and Granger are still refusing to admit how much they fancy each other."
Pansy just nodded in understanding but Draco seemed to get upset at the comment. "I, uh, wha- excuse me? I absolutely do not have fancy Granger. Are you out of your mind, I mean she's... she's…"
"All you can ever talk about at any given moment? Yeah, she definitely is that." Pansy piped up. "It's sickening."
Draco shot up to defend himself. "What?- No! I talk about other stuff, like, uh, like-"
"Like how Granger's hair today was such a rat's nest?" Blaise imitated Draco, but in a high-pitched voice that sounded nothing like him.
"And have you seen the way she talks about house elves," Pansy joined in, "really it's a wonder she isn't one herself!"
"Are you two done?" Draco asked, his hands on his hips. "Besides, I do talk about other things, like um," he seemed to search around for something before popping up and snapping his fingers. "like that joke I told you about yesterday over the floo!"
Pansy gave him a deadpan look. "Draco you said you heard it from another friend of yours. The only other people you talk to besides us two are Granger and your mother. And your mother actually has a sense of humor."
"Fine," Draco sat back down. "I'll concede that maybe I need to get a life. But that does not mean that I fancy Granger. Come on guys. That's just ridiculous."
Pansy just nodded, and Draco had the feeling he hadn't gotten the point across. "Oh yeah! It just means you're in denial that you fancy Granger."
"Denial? Where do you even come up with these ideas?" Draco looked to Blaise for support, but saw that he wasn't about to get any.
"I don't know what to tell you mate, only that it's obvious that you're in too deep." Blaise then immediately turned his eyes to the frays on the end of his sweater, as he usually did when he knew his friend was staring daggers at him. "I mean the whole concept of denial is that you deny being in love."
Pansy was agreeing with him, he knew she did, all the way from the pile of snacks his house elf had left out. He looked up when he heard footsteps, and Pansy saying "Wait, Draco where're you going?"
Draco just looked between the two of his best friends. "I'm going to the one person who will definitely agree with me that there will never be something between me and Hermione."
"Oh, who?" Blaise asked, standing up.
He took a deep breath, and said in one breath before he promptly shut the door, "Harry Potter".
Pansy shared a look with Blaise. "He was always the more dramatic out of us three."
Potter was where you could always find him during the time Aurors usually took lunch. Relieved that he'd chosen a right time to dramatically announce to find his former enemy, Draco pretended to fix his hair in the bathroom mirror until the other occupant, a nameless Ministry drone, left. Then, he knocked on the closed third stall and waited.
"Name and reason for entering?" A polite woman's voice spoke from the door.
"Draco Malfoy, and I need to ask you something Potter." A sigh from behind the door, and then it opened to Harry Potter's raised brow. He let Draco in.
"I thought I told you Malfoy, you can only come in here for emergencies."
"Oh hello Potter, oh yes I'm fine, thanks for asking. How's the wife?" Draco mimed, before taking in the surroundings. "You've redecorated, nice. It seems you've finally found out how to get rid of the toilet smell."
Even five years later, Harry Potter was unsure how to deal with the fame that came with saving the world. It got so bad that instead of going to the canteen to eat lunch, where he'd immediately get swamped with fans and well, more fans, he just went and ate in a bathroom stall. Eventually Harry spent so much time in the cramped space that he got tired of it. So he decided to make it comfortable.
Harry's bathroom stall now consisted of a huge room with whole set of sofas, pygmy puff wallpaper, a collection of magazines and in the center of it all, a golden toilet fit for a king. Draco took a seat where he didn't have to make eye contact with the toilet.
"That's what you came to ask me? In that case Ginny's fine." Harry took a seat on the sofa opposite Draco. "And Hermione found a spell in one of her books. I don't know what kind of books she's reading these days." His expression was a mix of disgust and admiration.
"No, that's not what I was going to ask but first, where's Her- Granger? Doesn't she usually lunch with you?" Draco asked casually, noticing his partner's absence.
Potter eyed him curiously. "No, she's with Ginny today. Didn't she send you to pick up the paperwork she left though?"
Draco was confused, and it was written all over his face. "Uh no, and if she did why would I be the one sent over to pick it up?"
"Well because you would do just about anything she'd ask you? It's kinda sickening really, how whipped you are." Harry shrugged.
It wasn't so matter of fact for Draco. He stood up suddenly, shocking Potter into spilling the tea that he'd been carefully bringing toward himself. "What did you just say?"
Potter glared at him instead of immediately answering. He took his wand out and called "Accio paper towels." A roll of toilet paper rushed up and hit him straight in the glasses. "Ow."
Draco decided his pity silence of 5 seconds was over. "I am not whipped Potter; for anyone, and least of all for Hermione Granger."
Harry just rolled his eyes. "Wait, you're still in denial? Honestly Malfoy, at this point you just look stupid."
"Says the man currently wiping the tea stain on his crotch with toilet paper." Draco got up from the comfortable couch of Potter's potty abode. "I'm leaving."
Well his friends had been right about one thing at least. Besides Granger and the two of them, there was only one other person Draco could talk to. His mother.
He waited until he could get off work, spending the hours after lunch shut up in his office, announcing loudly to anyone that approached that he was doing "important paperwork related to a case and could not be disturbed under any circumstances". Granger had eyed him weirdly, almost worried, which gave Draco a strange swooping sensation in his stomach. Damn woman had probably given him a bug. He'd have to complain to Blaise later. Oh wait. He couldn't exactly do that again, could he?
"Draco,you're earlier than usual today!" His mother exclaimed when he entered her parlor. It was on the west side of Malfoy Manor, meaning it overlooked the gardens, his mother's favorite place in the house.
Unfortunately it was also happened to be the place where she met with her favorite tea partner, her sister Andromeda. Draco cursed his luck and his inability to check the time.
"Hello mother, can I request a private audience? I've got a bit of a personal issue." He asked tentatively, eyeing the two women who smiled from the tips of their teacups.
Narcissa Malfoy's smile grew instantly. "A personal issue you say?"
"No! Wait, that was just a bad choice of words! Mother!-"
"Well dear, you know that anything can be said in front of your Aunt Andromeda. She's family darling."
Draco looked to his aunt, who's grin told him that despite being older and supposedly more mature, she was definitely his mother's sister. He gave a long-suffering sigh and sat down in one of the white wicker chairs.
"Well you see, there's this girl who gets on my absolute nerve, and I truly mean that. But I-" he paused, searching for the right word to describe his feelings for Hermione Granger, "I don't know how I feel about her. And you think with that people would acknowledge that and think I hate her like it seems like I do, but everyone seems to think I fancy her or something!".
He began to fiddle with the teapot and pour himself a cup, if only to busy his hands. The conversation had turned all too private all at once, and Draco begun to regret coming to his mother with this issue. He chanced a look at his tea partners.
They looked to be having a conversation with their eyes, but Draco could not tell what except for the fact that they were both grinning broadly. His aunt looked away, but he could tell she was still amused.
"Well then, how is Hermione nowadays? Teddy has been missing her.'
Draco couldn't believe his ears. "What?"
Narcissa tutted at her sister, but her smirk didn't come down. "Do ignore your aunt dear. But if you must know, I can see where your friends are coming from."
Her son made no sound, so she took it as an indication to elaborate. "What I mean Draco is that all the signs are there. Not only do you tend to go on and on about the girl, you actually appear to be taking on some of her beliefs! Imagine my surprise when just last week, I was asking Dimples to tie my shoe when you began spouting some nonsense about house elves being more than just somebody to kneel at my feet!"
"That has nothing to do with Hermione! Is the fact that I'm a good person that hard to believe?"
A cough from Andromeda, that sounded especially like yes. He shot her a quick glare.
"But that's not all son! If it were I'd have just passed it off as a simple infatuation. But then I saw what you mumble in your sleep-" A look at her son's face told her off that particular sentence, and she exhaled sharply.
"What I'm saying Draco, is that if you were to finally quit this silly game and just admit your love for the woman, I'd love to have a sit-down dinner with her."
Draco didn't say a single word to this, only putting his half-full cup neatly on the table before he stormed out.
"Don't worry Cissy," Andromeda calmly began, "if there's one thing I've learned about that boy, is that he always comes back around." When her sister picked up her head from its position in her arms she smiled, and took a sip of her tea. "I bet you ten galleons that he'll talk to her by the end of the weekend."
Narcissa laughed. "Oh no. I know my son, and by now I think I know Granger. They'll confess by tomorrow at the very least."
Work the next day was hell. Well for him it was anyway. Everyone one else was excited about it being stupid Friday which meant they got to act on stupid plans instead of doing their stupid work. Oh, and Granger wasn't here either. She had been sent by the department head on a fact-finding mission and had been gone since 11:30.
Draco paused his inner monologue for a second. Did that last sentence sound as if her not being present was a bad thing? He amended it to: At least Granger hadn't showed up. There. All better.
He frowned at the memory of yesterday's conversations. Try as he might, he couldn't get their arguments out of his head. Counting Harry and his mother, there were now four people who believed he fancied Hermione. What scared Draco the most was the thought that they were possibly right. They certainly seemed to have evidence.
He did seem to think about her a lot, even when she wasn't around. Everyone had already mentioned how much he talked about her. And hadn't he admitted to himself after that first week of working with her that he was attracted to her? Could this be the explanation for what he felt whenever she smiled at anyone else, or when she focused wholly on him? Was this more than just a fancy?
He shook his head and chanced a glance at the clock, and on seeing that it was finally around time to pack up, jumped up and began organizing his papers. He looked behind him when a knock sounded.
"Hey mate, how's your day been?" Blaise walked into the airy office, and then shuddered abruptly. "Merlin is it cold in here, what's up with that?"
Draco just shrugged, "It helps me think so I don't mind it, besides", he watched his friend to see his reaction. "Granger suggested it as a way to stay awake and focused."
To his credit, Blaise didn't comment at all about this allusion to yesterday's conversation, except for the little sigh after Granger's name. "Nice. So, what time are you heading to Theo's party?"
This caught Draco's attention. "Theo's throwing a party?"
"Well technically Theo and Luna are throwing a party, but yeah. It's supposed to be an anniversary of their first time touching toes or some rubbish like that. But hey," Blaise extended his arms, a wide grin carving it's way onto his face, "any excuse to throw a party!".
Draco threw a hand in his hair while he picked up his briefcase. The two of them began the journey out of the ministry. "I don't know, those parties always have Potter's crowd as well, and I don't know if I'm comfortable with-"
Blaise waved him off as they got into the the crowded lift. "Oh please, would you stop with the excuses. You get along passably with them and I know for a fact that at the last one you called Potter tolerable."
"I was tipsy!"
"That you were Malfoy, although I would go further to say that it would be more appropriate to use the phrase drunk out of your mind."
Smushed up against Draco's elbow and covered in weeds, Hermione Granger herself had a smug smile on her face, that grew when Draco only response was to mime her in a childish manner. Blaise covered his face; whether in amusement or shame, no one could really tell.
"Real mature. But were you guys by any chance talking about Luna's party tonight?" Although the question was technically addressed to the both of them, it was increasingly obvious that Draco was the one she was wholly focused on.
"Well yes, as a matter of fact we were. Although the real question should be how you're planning on getting that huge nose of yours out of our conversation and into through the door." Malfoy replied, angling himself to be directly facing her, not minding the fact that his shoulders were digging into his best friend.
Ten minutes later found an irritated Blaise searching for an available fireplace in the Atrium followed by the still arguing Draco and Granger. Upon finding one in the back, he stood quickly to hold it before turning on the bickering pair.
"Alright you two break it up. This is Draco's stop." Blaise alerted them, and to his surprise, watched Granger's face overcome with heat as she looked around at her surroundings.
"I'm- I'm supposed to be on the fourth floor." She mumbled, before hurriedly making an exit and weaving through the crowd leaving work. Blaise glanced to Draco, who was trailing Hermione's path with his eyes.
"Come on lover boy, we don't have all day. Floo over by 6, we'll meet up with Pansy before leaving." Malfoy didn't even protest the title, or maybe he wasn't listening, because he shook his head before disappearing into green smoke.
"Oh man, I am so excited to have a good time for once." Pansy drawled from her seat on the sofa, painting her nails a brilliant shade of lilac.
"What do you mean by that Pans? Your entire job relies on people having a good time. You're a party planner." Draco responded from above the sports section of the Daily Prophet, at the same time that Blaise reminded her not to get anything on his luxury sofa for the billionth time.
Pansy rolled her eyes. "There's a difference idiot. I'm not an actual guest at any of the parties I plan."
Draco put down the paper. "Oh poor you, how sad it must be to be invited to both of Celestina Warbeck's last two weddings. Boo hoo."
"You went with me the first time!"
"Oh yeah and what a memorable experience that was! I sure hope I remember to keep that super duper secret of yours!" Draco joked., as Pansy blushed deeply.
Blaise appeared from the bedroom at last, dressed to the nines. "Are you guys ready? We should be heading over in about five."
Pansy jumped up. "Yeah, I just need to dry these and get dressed, then we can leave. Pass me my wand Draco, wait nevermind." She uttered a charm and then seconds later held up her hand. "Tada! That was wandless magic, gentlemen."
"Amazing. Go change."
Pansy stuck her tongue out but left anyway. Blaise's eyes fell on Draco, who was purposely avoiding eye contact by reading the paper.
"So. Buddy." When met by Draco's 'are you serious?' face, he soldiered on. "Granger's gonna probably be at the party. Have you considered your approach?"
Draco gave him a long-suffering look before putting his paper down again. "I really don't know okay? I mean I'm just coming to terms that maybe I might feel about Granger... like that. It's a bit hard, considering what I think of her, which is that she's an attractive woman with a personality that drives me up the wall, yet draws me in at the same time. And then there's what you guys are saying, which is that she's the woman I have secretly held a candle for for years or something." he took a deep breath. "It's all a bit muddled at the moment, and I don't know what to do."
"You have to tell her, obviously." Pansy spoke, and both men reversed to see her leaning on the sofa. "No matter what we say, we can't decide your emotions Draco. At the end of the day, it's whether you fancy her or not."
"Yeah," Blaise chimed in. "it's a simple yes or no really."
Draco opened his mouth to speak, but Pansy shushed him. "No! You don't decide that now! It's a split-second decision that you make when you see her. You'll know what to do once you gaze into her face, like in those romance films. Trust me, it's a science."
"Speaking of romance, we're going to be late for Draco's if we don't leave now. Hip hop ladies and gentlemen."
"Never speak again Blaise."
And in a puff of green smoke and fire, the three of them left the flat empty within the space of minutes.
About a half an hour later, the party was in full swing. Draco surveyed it from his position near the refreshments, deciding to just stick with the light butterbeer. He didn't want a repeat of past events.
A huge roar suddenly came from the crowd in the living room, and he looked over to see Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan kissing in the middle of the circle. "About time!", Ron Weasley was saying, and Draco shook his head, and tried to search out Blaise and Pansy who had left him to go dance. They were on the outskirts of the circle around the couple, clapping and looking quite close. Maybe he didn't have to keep Pansy's secret any longer.
"Regretting not making a move on Pansy earlier, Malfoy?"Draco groaned, "How many times have I had to stress, our 'fling' was a-" he turned around, and stopped abruptly. "Granger."
"Malfoy?" she questioned, confused. He seemed to be standing still, face uncomprehending.
For he was just staring at her, and he could practically feel her getting weirded out by him but he couldn't stop, because Pansy's crazy romance movie idea was right? In that period of thirty seconds of blankness, Draco made up his mind. He didn't have any idea what he'd say, but he his decision was made.
"Granger, can I talk to you? Away from," he gestured to the pulsing atmosphere around him. "you know, all this." At her cautious nod, he took her hand and began leading them both to the deck.
Hermione seemed to regain herself when he closed the sliding door, and wrenched her hand from his grasp. "What's going on Draco? Is something wrong?" she appeared to be genuinely concerned.
"Nothing nothing, it's just I've been having a lot of talks with Blaise and Pansy recently, and even Potter seems to share their opinion."
"What opinion?" Hermione asked her hands on her hips.
"Well, the one that says that I'm fancy you a lot, and that you feel the same about me. But I don't exactly agree."
Draco couldn't decipher her expression, which was strange considering he fancied himself an expert on reading Hermione Granger. All he could tell now was that she was anxious.
"Yes. You see, I am of the opinion that my mother, in a strange turn of events, is right. I think that I'm in love with you."
Somehow while he had been speaking, Hermione had gotten very close to him, and he could feel his breath hit her face. She had a smile on her face as she looked up at him, and Draco got a swooping sensation in his stomach that he'd done something right. It was a different sensation from the one he when riling her up in righteous anger; this one was better.
Draco repeated her, bemused. "And?"
Granger put her arms around his neck. "What opinion do you have of my feelings for you?"
Draco was about to come up with an answer, albeit a stammered one, when the sliding door to their left opened, and out stepped Harry, panting and not realizing they were there.
He didn't look up until about an awkward minute later, and on spotting the closeness of his best friend and her coworker, went "Oh oh! So sorry, carry on, good that you finally got him Hermione!", before tripping and limping back inside.
"Well Granger, I think that speaks for itself."
"So how'd it go?"
That was Pansy, curled up on the sofa with Blaise as they listened to their friend reenact yesterday's events.
Draco shrugged, but his face held a large smile. "I'm meeting her for lunch at 12. I've been looking forward to it all day."
"Uh mate," Blaise pointed at his watch. "it's 11:45. Shouldn't you be going?"
Draco made a strange kind of yelping noise before he jumped up and grabbed his coat, waving his coat before he ran out the door, Blaise and Pansy's laughter following him out.