Friday, March 13, 2008
"It's all over," Hermione thought as she exited the room, not daring to look back at Ron, who was now chasing after her, trying to catch up.
“Hermione! Wait! I didn’t mean to do that,” Ron yelled as he ran down the hallway, now getting close to a sprint.
She whirled around. “Ron, you didn’t mean to kiss that slag? What do you even mean by that?”
Ron sputtered, but answered, “Hermione, it was an accident. I was attracted to her for a moment, and she kissed me. Then, you walked in.”
“So, you were attracted to her?” Hermione nearly yelled. She should’ve seen this this coming, though. For years, Ron had seen her as a constant in his life that would never go away, not even if he cheated on her.
“Hermione. Just stop it,” Ron said, sighing. “Let’s just continue this later. Somewhere more private, perhaps?”
“Fine,” she snapped, not at all pleased with her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend.
Hermione entered the red telephone box, dialing the number that would grant her access to the Ministry, excited to see her boyfriend after a long, grueling day of potion making.
She entered the lifts, nodding to people who recognized her as Harry Potter’s best friend.
As she stepped out of the lift onto Level 2, she hesitated for a second.
Maybe I should have called before I came, she thought, but dismissed that notion. Ron would be thrilled to see her.
She gently pushed open the door and instantly saw red.
Catching a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye, Ron gasped and pushed the blonde in his arms aside when he saw his girlfriend in the doorway.
“Hermione,” he croaked. “What are you doing here? You didn’t tell me you were coming.”
“Well, I didn’t think I had to.”
Ron just stared at her, still in shock.
The blonde cleared her throat. “I’m going to leave now.”
Hermione smiled grimly and said, “I might as well walk out now, too.”
Monday, March 16, 2008
Hermione walked into her office, shutting the door behind her. She turned toward her desk, ready to get on with her day. When she saw her employer sitting behind her desk, she inhaled loudly.
“Draco, I really do not have the patience to deal with you right now.”
“Of course you do,” he said, smirking. “I am, after all, the one paying for you to mess around in this room.”
“I am not messing around,” she told him forcefully. “I am creating potions that will help the wizarding world, for your company.”
“Of course,” he responded flippantly. “But, shouldn’t you get out of this hole you’ve created for yourself? You’ve been sitting here for days now. As your friend, I am telling you that you need to get out of here.”
“Okay, I guess you’re right,” she replied. After all, he did have a point. She had been working for over 24 hours now, just leaving to take the occasional break. “But, could you please get out of my chair and leave? I have a lot of work to do.”
He stood up, vacating the chair behind her desk, only to seat himself in another chair.
“Draco, you’re still here,” she said, looking at him pointedly. “Do you need something?”
He nodded. “Yes, we should talk.”
Hermione looked at him suspiciously. He never bothered to check up on her, not that he needed to. She was reliable and he knew that. So, why is he bothering me, she wondered.
She sat down at her desk, pulled out her files, and started flipping through them, ignoring Draco.
After 10 minutes of ignoring her boss, she wasn't able to sit quietly any longer. "Okay, Draco. You really don't care about what I do, so why are you here?"
He finally glanced at her. A look of surprise flashed across his face, but then, he smiled. “Hermione, darling. Really, you think that I don’t care? Of course I care about your work.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Hermione muttered, brushing him off. “Why are you even here?”
“Actually, Potter told me to check on you.”
“Really, now?” Hermione was surprised, usually Harry tried to stay away from the drama between her and Ron.
“Well,” he said, grimacing slightly, “I wasn’t actually supposed to tell you that he asked, but we were playing Quidditch-”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Hermione cut in.
“God, woman! Let me finish. Anyway, a bunch of us were playing Quidditch yesterday and Potter let it slip that you broke up with Weasley.
She nodded. "Yes. I did."
"So, how are you holding up?" he asked.
"Since when do you care how I am?"
He raised an eyebrow, looking at her strangely. "Hermione, you're my employee and we're friends. I care about you. Besides, if you became depressed, who would save the Wizarding world with Potter?"
She cracked a smile. "I think the Wizarding world will survive without the Smartest Witch of our Age and The Boy who Lived."
“Are you sure about that?” he asked, sounding a bit skeptical. “Without you, I don’t think our world could survive.”
She laughed; the Wizarding world was crazy about her, Harry, and Ron. She couldn’t even go into Diagon Alley without people asking her for autographs.
“Okay, Draco, you are really getting off topic now. What do you want?”
"Well," he said, leaning forward, "will you come to lunch with me? You really do need a break, Hermione."
“Really, I’m fine,” she protested.
“Come on, Hermione, it’s just lunch.”
"Fine, let's meet at Le Caquelon around noon tomorrow."
"Promise you'll show up?"
"Yes, I promise," she said, rolling her eyes. "You can come and drag me away from here if I don't come, alright?"
"Sounds good," Draco smiled.
He stood, walked to the door, and paused before returning to Hermione’s desk. He stood awkwardly for a moment, then suddenly gave her a hug, trying to convey through the brief contact that if she needed a shoulder to cry on he was happy to provide one, before quickly making his way out the door.
As soon as Draco left, Hermione sighed, banging her head on her desk.
So what? she thought. It doesn’t matter that he checked up on me. Harry told him to.
Hermione knew that she had always thought Draco Malfoy was a handsome man, especially now that he had grown into his features. After all, she had spent a lot of time gazing at his face during their meetings.
After she began working for him, they spent a lot of time together during the office hours, discussing the projects that Hermione was working on. Later, their time together increased when he and Harry managed to bury the past and bond over weekend Quidditch. The matches included themselves, Ron, Ginny, the rest of the Weasleys, various other Gryffindors and over time, much to Ron’s disgust, a small selection of Slytherin alumni such as Adrian Pucey and Blaise Zabini. Since Ron always dragged her to their 'games' in the fields behind Harry's garden, she often found herself talking to Draco, for lack of better company, after the game was finished. During these conversations, they discovered that they were surprisingly similar and actually got along quite well. Unfortunately, Draco and Ron still did not get on, since Ron had the capacity to hold onto grudges for the longest time.
Hermione lifted her head when she heard a knock on the door.
“Come in,” she called loudly.
Ron stuck his head in the door. “Hey, Hermione, can we talk?”
She exhaled slowly. “I guess.”
He sat down across from her, wringing his hands.
“I guess we’ve officially broken up, right?”
“Yeah, I think so,” she scoffed. “Ron, you cheated on me. Repeatedly. And, this time, I had to look out for myself.”
He bowed his head, knowing that she was right. “Hermione, I am really sorry. You were like a mother to me, you know? It just never felt right dating you.”
“I know,” she said consolingly. “I just wish that we had talked about it before.”
“Absolutely,” he said. “But, we’re still friends, right?”
“Of course we'll be friends, Ron. Is there a reason we wouldn’t be?”
“Well, I was worried since Ginny and Harry hated each other after they broke up. I’d hate to see that happen to us."
She smiled and nodded in agreement. “I would too.”
She grinned at Ron as he walked out, happy that she had her best friend back, without the stress that came from being his girlfriend.
Tuesday, March 17, 2008
“So, how does this restaurant work, anyway?”
Draco looked around the room with interest, eyebrows rising when he saw the cheese bubbling in dishes on the tables around them.
Hermione smiled. “Are you confused?”
“I am,” he conceded. “I’ve never been here.”
“So,” she explained, “you get melted cheese and you dip vegetables in it. Then you eat a salad and a main dish. After that, you get fruits to dip into chocolate.”
"Sounds pretty good.”
“Alright.” Draco looked at Hermione. “You seem pretty miserable.”
“I guess it’s just all the tension in my life right now,” she said, shrugging. “It’s been a tough week.”
He nodded. “Have you and Weasley gotten back together yet?”
“Why do you care?”
“The last time we talked, you were all bent out of shape, and I was just curious to see how you were now. That’s all,” he said, lowering his gaze.
“We broke up, for good,” she said quietly. “I caught him cheating on me, you know.”
Draco winced. “Ouch. No wonder you’re distraught; I would be, too.”
“It was just so awful,” Hermione said. “He had cheated on me before, but I didn’t want to break it off.”
“Why wouldn’t you?” Draco probed. “He obviously didn’t care enough about you, anyway.”
“It wasn’t that simple, Draco. Everyone wanted us to be together, including the Weasleys. They're like a surrogate family to me and I saw what happened to Harry when he and Ginny split. The Weasleys avoided him like the plague and Mrs. Weasley sent him quite a few Howlers. I didn't want that to happen to me.”
“Okay, but why were you putting up with that shit?"
“I needed support after the war. The Weasleys welcomed me and it came with the price of dating their son. But, everyone has their breaking point. I’ve finally hit mine.”
“I’m glad that you are concentrating on yourself, Hermione,” Draco told her seriously.“Especially since you are always trying to please other people.”
“It was high time,” she agreed. “I’m twenty-eight years old. I need to start thinking about myself.”
He bowed his head in agreement. “You’ve hung around him for so long. It's time to move on, I guess."
“I'm trying my best to leave the past behind," she confided. "I feel like I wasted 11 years of my life. I’m never going to get those years back. I wasn't happy and, now that I look back on that, I feel awful.”
Draco just looked at her. “You really need to get out more," he told her. "Maybe date a few guys?"
She frowned. “I broke up with my boyfriend of eleven years four days ago. I’m not ready for that just yet.”
“Just go out,” Draco urged. “Have some fun. Let go for a while.”
Hermione shrugged. “I guess.”
“Come on,” Draco pressed. “We could go and maybe explore the city.”
“You want to see London?” asked Hermione slowly. “The city you’ve lived in for a decade or so?”
He shrugged. “I’ve never seen much of Muggle London. Would you be my tour guide?”
“I guess it won’t hurt for me to rediscover the city,” Hermione acknowledged with a sigh. “We should talk about this excursion of yours later. Stop by the office, will you?”
They fell into a comfortable silence as they finished their meals.
“Stop by sometime this week; we’ll discuss what you may want to see in London,” Hermione said as she moved to put on her coat.
“Sure thing,” said Draco, before they both said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.
Friday, March 20, 2008
It’s finally done, Hermione thought as she bottled the last bit of her new potion; this one would act like Skele-Gro, but it would be less painful and regrow bones more quickly.
For the past nine years, she had spent her days in this very office, mixing various magical and non-magical items to create new potions that would make a regular wizard’s life easier.
She always thought that she would have a perfect life; she never imagined that she would sit in a room, all alone, mixing potions. Of course, things never worked out the way you imagined. When she was a teenager, she thought that she would be married by twenty-five and have her first child, a daughter, by the time she was twenty-eight. Now, she was nearing her twenty-ninth birthday and she was nowhere close to that dream.
She pushed her hand through her hair, deep in thought.
“Hey, Draco,” said Blaise, shutting the door behind him.
“Long time, no see,” replied Draco. “How was Italy?”
“Boring, as usual.” Blaise shrugged then changed the topic. “So, I heard that the Weasel finally broke up with the princess. Have you tried to catch her attention?”
Draco frowned and asked, “What do you mean?”
“You’ve liked her since she started working here. It was fairly obvious.”
“I do like her,” Draco agreed. “But, she doesn't want to date me.”
“Did you even ask?” Blaise questioned, slouching into his chair.
“No, and I don’t plan on it. I would feel like I’m taking advantage of her.”
"That makes sense."
"I know it does," Draco said cockily. "Everything I say makes sense." Then, his voice took on a more serious tone. “We’re friends. Someday I want to be in a relationship with her, but right now, I think we would be best as friends."
"Alright, whatever you think is best."
Saturday March 30, 2008
“Hey!” Hermione exclaimed, standing up to give Draco a quick hug as he entered the Leaky Cauldron. “Are you ready to become a tourist?"
Hermione grinned. “Excellent. I know that you wanted to see London, but I thought we could take a day trip to Dover to visit the castle there. They have this really cool event where you visit the Great Tower and meet members of King Henry II's royal court. I went a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. I figured that since we both live so close to London, we can see the sights of London some other time.”
“That sounds like a lot of fun,” Draco said.
They walked over to the train station and boarded a train that was headed to Dover Priory. Hermione had already purchased tickets, so they were able to get on the train quickly.
On the train, they chatted about various things they wanted to see on the trip until they reached Dover without them even noticing the time go by.
“Wow, I really learned a lot. It was really fun,” Draco said on the train ride back. “The castle was amazing.”
“Didn’t I tell you it would be great?”
He nodded. “I never knew that Muggles had to hide in tunnels during wars. Honestly, I never knew much about Muggles at all. This has really been an eye-opener.”
“I figured you’d learn something from this.” Hermione told Draco. “I remember when I first came here; I was so excited to roam through all the exhibits. They’ve improved it so much. It’s a great place.”
Draco nodded. "Absolutely."
As the train rolled to a stop, they stepped onto the platform.
"Thanks a lot, Hermione," Draco said seriously. "I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to teach me a bit about Muggle England."
"It was no problem," Hermione replied. "Next time we can actually tour London."
"I look forward to it."
Saturday, May 2, 2008
Hermione was scrunched into her sofa, a soft blanket thrown over her. She shoved her face into a pillow and exhaled slowly. When she heard her Floo start up, she lifted her head to see Pansy stepping out of the fireplace.
“Hi, Pansy,” Hermione mumbled. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to make you feel better,” Pansy stated, holding up two tubs of vanilla ice cream. “You’ve been rather mopey lately.”
“I feel fine,” the brunette protested, slouching deeper into the sofa. She knew that she wasn’t okay, but she didn’t really need someone else’s pity. But, Pansy will understand, a little voice in her head admonished. She ignored it and returned to moping.
“Alright then,” said Pansy, walking into the kitchen to get some spoons. When she returned, they both settled into the sofas, each of them taking a spoon filled with ice cream.
"So, I heard that you've been touring London with my best friend," said Pansy casually.
"Yeah, I have," replied Hermione, raising an eyebrow. "What's with the sudden curiosity?"
“No reason,” said Pansy, shifting slightly. “Well, how has the experience been? What have you seen?”
“We started off outside of London actually, at Dover Castle,” Hermione informed the other girl. “Then, we saw Big Ben, went to see a play at the Globe,
and rode the London Eye…”
Pansy grinned. “Seems like you’ve been keeping him busy.”
“I have been keeping him busy,” Hermione acknowledged with a grin, excitement seeping into her voice. “It’s been so much fun. We’ve been spending a lot of time together, seeing different places, eating some exotic new foods. It’s just been really great!”
Pansy let out a low whistle. "No wonder Draco's in such a good mood."
Hermione frowned, feeling confused. What does she mean? she thought. And why would any of this make him feel better?She voiced her question hesitantly, glancing at her friend timidly.
Pansy's eyes widened. "Oh, shit!” she groaned. "I didn't mean to say that."
Hermione glanced down at her hands. "I won't force you to tell me anything," she reassured Pansy. "I was just curious, that's all."
Pansy ran her hand through her hair and sighed. "Well," she said hesitantly, "Draco might have a soft spot for you."
Hermione wrinkled her brows. "What do you mean by that?"
Pansy threw her hands up in the air and exclaimed, "Honestly? He likes you as more than a friend."
"Are you serious?" Hermione averted her eyes away from Pansy and blushed.
Oh god, Hermione thought. I think I am in love with Draco Malfoy. She knew that she had enjoyed spending time with her friend, but now, she was definitely thinking of Draco Malfoy as more than a friend. Over the last month, Draco had made her feel like a new person. He listened to her talk about her experiments. He was also smart, attentive, caring...
“Earth to Hermione!” Pansy snapped her fingers in front of Hermione’s face.
“Sorry, I just was thinking about something.”
Pansy didn't appear to be convinced and she pushed on. "You've been distracted all night. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I'm just fine." With that, Hermione dug into her ice cream.
Monday, May 4, 2008
Hermione lifted her head when she heard a swift tapping on the glass of her lab window. She set her test tube aside and went to retrieve the letter from the owl.
She opened the letter and read:
Please meet me for dinner tonight at Le Gavroche in Muggle London. We need to talk.
She tore off a piece of notebook paper, grabbed the biro from behind her ear, and hastily scribbled a note agreeing to meet him.
She was confused. Draco had sounded very serious and formal in his letter, which was different from most of the other notes he had sent her. She paused suddenly, the note falling to the floor, as she rubbed her temples, sinking into her chair shakily. What if this is about work?! Maybe he's unhappy with the potions I've been working on? Maybe, he was intending to fire me, but now, since we’re better friends, he feels guilty. Maybe, that’s why we’re dining at a classy French restaurant. Oh Merlin, I'm about to be jobless!
She shook her head, trying to clear all the negative thoughts. Think of the good things the dinner might bring rather than focusing on the negatives, Hermione.She took a deep breath, attempting to calm herself. After a few minutes, she slowly returned to her potions, the note still at the back of her mind.
Hermione arrived home that evening and immediately set about getting ready. As she slipped on her black cocktail dress, her thoughts wandered back to Draco’s note. His note was so vague; I wonder what he wants to talk about? Usually, he gets right to the point, Hermione fretted as she applied her makeup. Maybe he's decided he doesn't want to spend as much time together? If that were the case, wouldn't he just put it in the note and be done with it? she contemplated, gazing at herself in the mirror, as if the answers lay hidden in the depths of her reflection. However, the reflected image was not particularly forthcoming, an apparent downside of her refusal to enchant the mirror.
With a frustrated huff, she continued to mull over Draco's cryptic note. Alright, Hermione, let's consider what you do know. It's clearly something he felt uncomfortable enough to omit, but not uncomfortable enough to avoid dealing with publicly. So, it must be something that is important enough for him to handle the matter in person. After all, if it wasn’t that important, Draco would be the type to ignore her feelings and just tell her what it was. Maybe he's met someone, and he wants to introduce us, but doesn't want the Wizarding world to know. That would be my luck, I've finally realized that I have feelings for the prat, and he wants to introduce me to his fabulous new girlfriend over an expensive French meal. As the thoughts raced through her head, she tried not to throw something across her bedroom. I just don’t have any luck with relationships, do I?
Although, she thought as she slipped her feet into a pair of stylish black pumps and reached for her favourite pearl earrings, Pansy did mention that Draco really enjoyed our time together and she implied that he might return my feelings, at least somewhat. Besides, I can't imagine when he would have time to meet someone else, as often as we are together. Surely, I would have noticed.
Hermione shook her head to stave off the panic and squared her shoulders. After all, there was only one way to find out whether she was meeting Draco's new girlfriend or losing her job. With that fortifying thought, she locked her door and Apparated to an alley near the restaurant.
Draco tightened the knot of his tie and ran his hands down the front of his black suit nervously.
What is wrong with me? he thought, wringing his hands. Maybe I shouldn't tell her how I feel about her, he mused. He knew he had feelings for her, but he didn't know if it was right to confirm them. What if she thinks it's too soon? What if she's not ready to commit to a relationship?
Slowly, he took a deep breath in attempt to calm his nerves. As he made his way to the front door, he passed his study and saw his desk piled with papers from the office that needed signed. At that moment, he remembered that Hermione worked for him. She may never even want to date me, he realized. He knew that there was a distinct possibility that Hermione would think dating anyone from the workplace was improper, especially her boss. What if she thinks that her job is more important than a relationship?
Whatever, he shrugged. I’ll ask her first. If she says no, then I’ll think about all this.
Standing up, she gave Draco a hug. “Hey, Draco. How was your day?”
As she returned to her seat, Hermione couldn’t help feeling relieved that he hadn’t brought some girl with him. Now, there was really only one possibility.
Draco sat across from her and rested his hands in his lap, sighing. “My day was pretty uneventful. What about yours?"
She shrugged. "It's the same old work. What did you want to talk to me about?"
Draco drew in a breath. "I've had an amazing time with you over the past month. I've really learned a lot and it's been a phenomenal experience-"
"Can you just get to the point?" Hermione said apprehensively.
"I know that I’m probably going to sound a bit forward, but I really like you, Hermione. I want to pursue a relationship with you."
Hermione just gaped at him.
“Is something wrong?” Draco looked at her questioningly.
She shook her head, laughing slightly. “Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting this. I was afraid that you were going to fire me.”
“No, I am not planning on firing you. So, what do you say?”
Draco, I’ve really enjoyed all the time we’ve spent together. I really appreciate that you’ve been so supportive since my breakup and I think we’ve become really great friends,” Hermione began uncomfortably.
This is it, Draco thought, the point in the conversation where I get the talk about how she can only be friends with me.
“I’ve realized that I really like you too and I think I can be in a relationship with you.”
“Hermione, I understand…Wait, what?” Draco stuttered as he tried to grasp the fact that Hermione wasn’t rejecting him.
Hermione laughed again. “I said, ‘I agree we should pursue a relationship,’ Mr. Malfoy.”
Draco let out a sigh of relief before smiling broadly. “I’m glad you agree, madam.”
Then, Hermione winced. “I can’t believe we are doing this. I work for you, Draco. This is wrong on so many levels.”
He shook his head. “Not really. If you think about it, you’re the only one in your department. You work by yourself, so I can’t really play favourites or anything, can I?”
“I guess you really can’t. Besides,” Hermione noted wryly, “we’ve been together so much lately we’ve practically been in a relationship already. We hardly have time to see anyone else.”
“See,” Draco said, grinning, “that’s the spirit.”
Draco tipped his glass in Hermione’s direction. “To new adventures.”
Hermione returned the sentiment and Draco leaned across the table to kiss her softly before they both settled in to discuss the places they planned to see on their first outing as an official couple.