“They say his father’s the head of some killing gang in Britain.”
“That’s poppycock, Johnny; the kid don’t even look dangerous! I’ll tell ya what; he’s probably some big shot tryin’ ta make pretty bucks outta us.”
“Are we talking about that man over there? The club’s owner? Oh, mercy, he might run an over-priced joint or be the son of a mafia lord across the pond, but I’ve heard from some of my gals that he’s one of the smartest owners of these blind pigs. He hasn’t been caught yet because everything’s kept nicely under wraps, and he’s got that albino peacock as an attraction over there. Christ, no one’s even sure where he’s come from.”
Three pairs of eyes turned subtly to glance at the mysterious owner who stood alone by the bar. In the yellow lighting, his profile darkened and made him all the more abstruse.
A cloud of smoke, twisting and unfurling like rising pieces of ash from a fire, settled over his golden head. The lit cigar rested loosely between his index and third fingers, and an impeccable emerald green suit ensconced his lean frame. A charming half-quirk of the man’s lips completed his ensemble; it was often that this small twitch of muscles in the mandible would drive the women of his establishment into a fine frenzy.
The well-dressed man was a charmer, and if there were two things in which he were naturally gifted, they would be sweet-talking and selling. Running a successful but hush-hush business was also something of which he was quite proud, but his place would be nowhere close to profitable if it weren’t for his attractive persona.
Because of his smooth, sly ways, it was only natural that his character be reflected in his strange name: Draco Malfoy.
As if he knew he were being watched, the well-dressed man’s gaze returned theirs. At once, the two men and the woman averted their eyes and returned to private gossiping. Idiots, thought Draco, and his mental smirk further widened. Muggles were simple subjects to fool. He felt almost sorry for them, that they were unaware of the presence of magic in this very room. The hawthorn wand in his pocket and the miniature time turner beneath his shirt felt heavy to him.
After a forced pleasant smile in the direction of his other customers, the blond heard a woman behind him clear her throat. “Excuse me.”
She was shorter than him by an inch, and the ends of her wavy black hair barely brushed the skin of her shoulders. Dark powder streaks of blue and black enclosed her lidded eyes, creating a noticeable contrast from the ivory of her skin to the scarlet of her coated lips. Her body hid as modestly as possible behind a slimming black dress, complete with fishnet adornments. There was something familiar about the woman, but he couldn’t solve the puzzling aura that engulfed her.
He managed to keep his wild intrigue in check. There was something off about her accent. She did not sound like she was from any part of America. Rather, she sounded England-based like him, except she was attempting to cover it up with her horrible imitation. “Yes?” Draco asked. There was a hint of vivid interest in his tone.
The woman’s bright smile faltered a little, and she drew her peach silk scarf closer to her body in a protective manner. “Are you the infamous Draco Malfoy?” She spoke the name fluently but with slight distaste, as if saying his name was nothing new but was used to spitting it out with vehement disgust.
It was his smirk’s turn to drop. Did she find him unbearable? Perhaps it was because he was smoking. Draco knew that a lot of the Muggles in the early 1900s were unaware of the dangers cigars posed, but he supposed there were some that still saw it as a disgusting trait. Nevertheless, he stayed professional for his customers and discarded the lit stick. “Infamous? Hardly. I might be Draco Malfoy though, if you would tell me the reason you’re inquiring as well as your name. I like to be acquainted with my customers, see.”
He stared her down before she finally broke the silence. She still spoke in her unimpressionable American accent. “Oh, alright. My name’s Jean, if you must know. I only wanted to ask about your business. Are you aware that running a place like this”—she made a motion of gesture to everything in the room—“is illegal?”
Draco refrained from raising a brow. An attractive woman dressed provocatively, no doubt a method in enticing him, was curious about his business? It was unlikely, really. She didn’t look like a reporter, nor did she look involved in the business scene. With a calm gesture of his arm, he motioned for her to sit at an empty stool as he made his way behind the counter. “Allow me to get you a drink first. We’ll talk after.”
Jean was skeptical about his offer but took a seat anyway. “I really have to be going soon,” she said, a crease forming between her brows. “So if you would please just—“
“Gin? Or are you more of a rum girl?”
Her eyes narrowed, and she clutched the fabric of her dress. “What?” She glanced at his occupied hands and realized that he had been inquiring about her preference of drink. “Oh! I don’t…I’ve never really drunk alcohol before...”
He paused in his art-making. Subsequently, he looked at her. He wanted to say something, but he shook his head and continued creating a glass. “Gin it is.”
Jean could feel her face turn red with the blush of blood that spread to her cheeks. “Did you hear me?” the woman asked, feeling slightly annoyed that he’d disregarded her statement. “I said I don’t dr—“
Draco set a tall order before her. The glass was full of something clear with cubes of ice; a bright green lime peel floated on the sparkling surface. “Bottoms up, darling,” he said, smirking. “I’d like to know what kind of tipsy you are. Have you really never drunk before?”
She rolled her eyes and held the glass’s curved bottom in her hand, eyeing the shot with noticeable hesitancy. “Is that so unbelievable? But yes, I really haven’t.”
“Well, do you dance?” he asked, referring to her attire. “No, I don’t.” She paid no mind to her flapper garb and continued to examine her gin. Curiously, she swished the contents of her drink in the glass.
Draco feigned a sigh and returned to the original topic. “I suppose it’s understandable, that you’ve never drunk before. You’re piss poor at swishing, Jean.”
The dark-haired woman frowned. He leaned forward, elbows on the countertop, and grinned. “I’m also quite sure that you’re not the type that can hold her liquor very well.”
Offended that he would think her inept at something as simple as drinking, Jean scoffed and raised her glass to her lips. “That’s what you think, Malfoy. I’ll prove to you I can hold it.”
With a slight twitch in her eye, the woman cringed and took a generous sip, preparing for the bitter taste of alcohol…
…but she tasted nothing.
Jean was slightly surprised, and she set the drink down, gazing at it with some sort of dubious stupor. “That’s it?” she remarked, smiling a triumphant smile. “That was nothing. It tastes like water.”
The woman raised a brow. “Yes, it does. Are you sure what you gave me wasn’t actually water?” She chuckled and placed her hands on the table, one on top of the other. “Now, let’s talk about your bu—“
The blond took her drink and set it aside. “Don’t you think it’s weird,” he started to say, “that a woman who’s not a newspaper reporter or anything close to the business sort comes in and demands firsthand for me to talk about my business? And to add to that, she doesn’t even drink or dance. Assuming she can read the sign outside the place, she enters a club that’s sure to have dancing, if not drinking, since it’s currently illegal here.” He rolled his eyes. “Honestly, America in the 1920s is such a bloody pathetic place.” Draco shook his head and returned to questioning her. “Therefore, she’s got to have some other motive. Who do you work for?”
No one. “The Ministry.”
Jean froze, and her eyes were wide with realization. Quickly, she snatched the glass from the table and examined it, sniffed it, and set it back down on the mahogany. Then, in a voice barely above a whisper, she murmured in horrification, “You gave me Verisaterum.”
Draco chuckled. “Right you are.” He reached across the counter and picked up the glass. “Obviously, since you were able to identify it, that must make you a wizard.”
Jean clenched her jaw and could feel the Polyjuice Potion she’d ingested earlier bubble in her bloodstream. “You’ve always been a cockroach, Malfoy.”
The man’s smirk returned. “Well, come on, out with it; you obviously know that I’m Draco Malfoy, despite your inquiry earlier. Is Jean your real name?”
“No.” The effects were beginning to fade away. “Why don’t you look for yourself?”
And he did. Upon closer inspection, Draco’s smirk disappeared as he watched the black strands turn brown and the woman’s nose become more defined. He saw the light freckles bloom over her nose and registered the small increase in the size of her lips. The color of her eyes shifted gradually from green to brown, and they became part of a face that Malfoy had spent many of his younger years tormenting. Though “Jean” had not gone through much transformation from her previous image, Draco felt stupid for not being able to place her before. He narrowed his eyes and reached into his pocket. His fingers tightened instinctively around his wand.
“Granger.” He spoke the name delicately.
No wonder she’d spoken his name so spitefully. No wonder she’d been in a rush to have him answer her question. No wonder she’d never had a drink before and had called him out for smoking and running a place like this; she was just as much of a wet blanket in the 1920s as much as she was one in the 1990s.
Hermione made a “harrumph” sort of noise but was forced to answer. “It’s my middle name.”
He looked around and scowled at the Muggles in the bar. “Place is closed!” he shouted at them, and they fled without paying. He didn’t particularly care; he’d started the business for the thrill of it.
The Muggles had done a good job of leaving him be for the past hour, but he wanted to be sure they wouldn’t eavesdrop. With that finished, Draco leaned against the shelf of ale behind him and stared at Hermione. “Why did you follow me?”
The witch gave a disparaging laugh, as if the answer were obvious. “Well, when the son of a former Death Eater goes off radar for a few weeks, everybody’s bound to panic. Could be brewing some sort of plan to become the next Vold—“
“Don’t!” he snapped, standing upright. “Don’t finish that thought.”
Hermione quieted, and her gaze wandered to his left forearm. “That’s not what your attempt is, is it?”
The former Slytherin glowered at her. What part of his command had she not understood? “You know,” Draco said, his gaze cold, “I could have you spilling your deepest secrets before me if I wished, so I think it would be wise if you shut up, Granger.”
Though she was determined to stop him from doing anything brash, Hermione was smart enough to know when and when not to speak.
He didn’t answer her question and moved on to another one. “Did you use a Time Turner, too?”
So that’s what happened to the one missing in inventory back at the Ministry! Hermione thought, finally noticing the gleam of a golden chain around the nape of his neck. “No. Brewed a potion. I’ve brewed another set of potions to bring us back.”
Draco looked slightly impressed at her use of resources but quickly wiped away the expression on his face. “Did you come alone?”
“How did you find me?”
At his question, Hermione suppressed her own smirk. “Parkinson confessed to the Ministry after Kingsley offered to shorten her sentence in Azkaban from seven years to four.”
The man scowled. He’d trusted his ex-girlfriend with his life once he enclosed the details to her, knowing she was often willing to do anything for him. Apparently, he’d been wrong. “Are you going to force me to go back?”
The brunette’s brows furrowed, and she scoffed. “You actually enjoy running an illegal business in Muggle America?”
To her surprise, Draco shrugged. “I’m considered a big deal here. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, Granger, but the Malfoy family name doesn’t exactly hold well in the 1990s.”
“Well, we’re going to have to keep an eye on you, Malfoy. Considering your record, the Ministry still sees you as a potential threat.”
For a split second, he looked pained, but he quickly recovered. “Alright. Are you still dating Weasel?”
“No.” She glared at him. “I don’t see what that has to do with me being here.”
He smirked. “I’m just having some fun while I have you telling the truth. Tell me, did you have feelings for Potter in the past?”
She looked horrified that she had to answer. “What? Oh, for Merlin’s sake, it was just…well, alright, yes, but--!”
Her cheeks were red once more, and she crossed her arms over her chest. They were getting nowhere with this interrogation, and she would have liked to have him back in the present where he belonged. “Honestly, Malfoy, I’m serious. Are you coming back with me or not?”
It took a moment for him to answer. “Will I be tried in court as a Death Eater? For my family’s involvement in the war?”
There was a look in his eyes that made him seem very young; the tired lines on his face told a different story, but it was that look that made Hermione realize he, Draco Malfoy, had been affected by the war just as much as the “good” side and would need help to have his name cleared.
She spoke her next words quietly, even though he was the only other person in the room. “Malfoy, I don’t know what’s going to happen to you if you decide to go back, but I…” She faltered before continuing. “I do know that I can help you if they decide to hold a trial for you. If that’s what all this going back in time was for, to escape being convicted, then I’ll defend you.”
Draco gaped at her. “You’re bluffing.”
He narrowed his eyes at her, but if he hadn’t given her the potion himself, he would never have believed her promise. “You are…” Draco fished around his mind’s vocabulary for a word. “You’re confusing, Granger,” he said, frowning.
Despite his claim, he emerged from behind the counter and crossed his arms over his chest, mimicking her action from earlier. “But if you don’t stick to your promise, I’ll find some other place in time to run to, and if that happens, no one will know where I’ve gone.”
Rolling her eyes, Hermione chuckled and reached into her dress pocket for the bottles that would transport both of them back to the present. “You know, Malfoy, I find that hard to believe. You’d make a terrible Muggle without your magic to keep you safe. And you’d run the risk of altering future events. You wouldn’t want to be responsible for that chaos, would you?”
The blond shrugged and coolly ran his hand through his hair. “I’m intelligent enough to work my way around those problems. As for you, you don’t make a very good American nor Muggle yourself, Granger. Your accent’s horrible.”
“And, please, tell me; how am I not a good Muggle, considering the fact that I’m Muggleborn?” She pulled out the vial of blue liquid and turned to him, a frown decorating her lips.
Draco pointed to her clothes. “You do not have the body for Muggle fashion, sorry to say.”
With her palm, she swatted him, and although she still hated his guts, he was a much more tolerable person than the boy he had been at Hogwarts. “That green suit looks ridiculous on you,” she said, countering his insult. “It probably looked much better on the leprechaun you stole it from.”
They stepped out of the dim building, and Draco raised a hand to shield his eyes from the sun. Hermione looked back at the club and cocked her head. “What are you going to do about the place?”
He turned around and gazed at the building. “Leave it be, I guess. The Muggles will find something to do with it, I’m sure.”
She motioned to the albino peacock still strutting around inside. “And…that? Where’s that going to go?”
Draco grinned and cast a spell, and the peacock was gone within a second. Coolly, he replied, “Not a real one. I just needed some sort of attraction for attenders to see so I couldn’t be charged with doing anything illegal, Granger.” He tut-tutted her. “Come on, I thought you were supposed to be bright.”
Hermione scowled and forced one vial of the potion into his hands. “Well, I apologize; I don’t exactly have the most experience with running illegal alcohol businesses.”
He smirked, and before he drank the potion, he said, “You know, I’m going to miss this truthful you.” Her expression showed that she had a different attitude toward the situation.
“Hey, before it wears off, I’ll ask you one more thing.”
She raised a brow. Before she had time to ask what he wanted to know, he leaned down and kissed her. There was a moment when she froze, unsure of how to react, but her mind finally took over and returned his caress. Though he tasted like smoke and faintly of alcohol, Hermione didn’t mind so much; there was a fruity taste underlying the whole of his lips, as if he’d drunk a cocktail previous to her arrival.
The kiss ended with both of them breathless and in need of air. Hermione wiped at her mouth, panting as she looked at him. “You…you didn’t ask!”
Both of them were also quite red.
Just as breathless, he grinned and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Didn’t need to; you would have pushed away if you truthfully didn’t want to kiss me.”