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Chapter 24: The Birthday Party: Part 1
AN: I don’t own anything from Harry Potter
She felt the wind in her hair and the loud soaring noise in her ears as they flew through the air. And she also felt the warm solid strength in Draco’s body as he shifted his weight to turn right or left.
She knew she was safe as long as she held on to him. And yet she couldn’t make herself open her eyes to look around at the sights below them. She didn’t know how long they’ve been up in the air, but she did know that her arms started to ache from holding on so tightly. She was starting to feel sorry for Draco; he probably couldn’t breathe with her plastered to him like this.
She heard him calling to her over his shoulder, but she couldn’t understand what he was trying to say. The ringing in her ears and the pounding of her heartbeat was so loud everything else sounded muffled. She tried to concentrate on his voice.
“We’re almost there, so you can open your eyes now, if you want to.” He shouted over the wind.
Yeah right, she thought. She’ll only open her eyes when their safely back on the ground. She rather keep her face tucked safely in the shield of his back instead. She could tell they were slowing down and descending by the way her stomach felt like it was dropping to her feet. After a while she was alerted by Draco clearing his throat.
“You can let go now Hermione, we’ve landed.” He said when he turned slightly to look at her, it was obvious that he was trying not to smile by the way she was still clutching her arms around his waist as if she still wasn’t sure that she wouldn’t fall to her death if she let go.
She slowly let go of her death grip and made sure her feet touched the ground before relaxing completely.
“There now, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” He smirked at her.
Flying should be illegal; she thought but didn’t tell him. Her face felt numb from the wind and she didn’t even want to think about how her hair looked now. Her hands went up and started flattening out her hair self consciously.
“Can you hand me my purse, so I can try to look more presentable.”
He chuckled and muttered ‘women’ under his breath as he reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out her hand bag, then charmed it back to it’s original size and handed it to her. She took it and reached for her pocket size mirror and flipped it open and grimaced at her wind blown appearance. At least it wasn’t humid outside otherwise her hair would look like a giant puff-ball.
“You look fine,” he reassured her.
Easy for him to say, he wasn’t born with uncontrollably curly hair. With one last attempt to sooth her hair down she gave up and realized it was as good as it was going to get. She tucked her mirror back into her bag and turned towards Draco. Her breath was caught in her throat when she spotted the scene behind him.
They stood a few feet away from a giant wrought iron gate. Behind it, a long straight driveway with decorative hedges on both sides, leading to the front of the manor that loomed in the background. Tonight it looked like an enchanted mansion surrounded by twinkling lights and beautiful greenery, a huge fountain in the center spilling out sparkling water and several albino peacocks were seen roaming about. It looked like something out of a fairy tale instead of the haunting image that she remembered from the last time she stepped foot on the grounds.
There was a huge white billowing tent off to the side of the manor where she supposed all of the people were being entertained. In the air there were soft sounds of music flowing about. Hermione suddenly remembered exactly where they were at and why they were there and she froze.
Draco must have sensed it, “We just have to make an appearance and I’ll have to say hello to a few people. But I promise we will leave as soon as it’s possible.”
She just nodded and started to follow along on shaky legs. Oh why did she agree to something like this? She thought. They went through the front gate and started walking along the driveway towards the party.
“Um Draco, shouldn’t we come up with some sort of story to tell everyone about us?” She asked him.
“Why would we need a story?” he asked.
Was he serious? She thought. “Well because people might find it difficult to believe that you brought me along as you date to your mother’s birthday party.”
He stopped as if the thought just occurred to him and turned fully towards her, “Why don’t we just tell them the truth then?”
She laughed, “What? That I turned you into a cat and you’ve been forced to live with me for the past week? Yeah I’m sure that will go well with everyone.”
He smirked at her, “No, I figured we could leave that bit of information out. I meant, we should tell them the truth, that I walked into your bookshop and we connected and we’ve been inseparable ever since.”
“And you think they’ll believe that?” she asked still uncertain.
“They better because for the most part that is the truth.” He tugged her towards him and kissed her quickly on the lips. “Relax you’ll be fine. Just be yourself and they’ll love you.”
She let out a breath, not believing one word he said, “Okay.” Then started walking forward, closer to the party.
They rounded the corner and stopped, if she was in awe over the front drive, then this was really something.
“Wow, mum really outdid herself this year.”
She turned to him, “What? You mean your mother’s parties aren’t always this…extravagant?” She waved a hand towards the party.
There were crystal chandeliers everywhere with flickering candles, hanging from the trees and ceiling. Some were on stands that stood about the space, and she would bet there were some floating magically above them as well, but she couldn’t see them if there were any. On top of that there were white roses everywhere along with millions of tinkling fairy lights strewn about the tent and in the trees and bushes.
It was now dark out so the whole place was lit up by candle light. It was truly breathtaking. You would almost think you were attending someone’s wedding.
“No, there always this extravagant. But I’d say that the guest list has doubled in size since last year.” Draco replied.
Before Hermione could respond to that a familiar voice called out somewhere off to the side.
“Draco darling, so glad you finally made it. For a while there I thought you weren’t ever going to show.”
“Hello mother. You look beautiful as ever. Happy Birthday.” Draco said as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek. “You remember Hermione?”
Narcissa turned towards Hermione giving her one good look over, “Of course I do. So glad you could make it, Hermione.”
Hermione suddenly felt very self conscious in her simple white strapless dress, feeling quite plain in a setting such as this. “Thank you for having me Ms. Malfoy. And Happy Birthday.”
Narcissa waved a hand in the air, “Although I don’t like the idea of becoming one year older it still gives me a excellent excuse to throw a party. And please call me Narcissa, any friend of Draco’s is a friend of mine. Now you two go get a drink and enjoy the party I’m going to go continue making the rounds.”
She started to walk away but stopped to whisper something to Draco. It was to low for Hermione to overhear, but she could tell whatever it was it wasn’t good news because Draco frowned then nodded towards his mother before she slandered off to the rest of her guest. Even though Hermione knew it wasn’t any of her business, she couldn’t help but ask.
“What was that about?”
He ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing, it’s just my father is furious because I brought you here.”
“Gee I can’t imagine why,” she replied sarcastically.
Not that, that was any surprise to her, it still didn’t help make her feel any better. And it was just one more thing to help her feel less than welcome here.
Draco grabbed her hand and intertwined his fingers through hers, giving her a little bit of encouragement. It wasn’t enough but it was still enough to help her get through this.
“Don’t worry about it. Just stick with me and everything will be fine. Besides he won’t do anything here. He’s all about image and at a public event like this he won’t be making any scenes, trust me.” He leaned down and whispered to her, tugging her closer to him so he could kiss her neck. She turned so his lips would touch hers, when a bright flash blinded them.
“Picture for the Daily Prophet.” A short man with a checkered bow tie and thick black horn rimmed glasses said.
They instantly pulled apart from each other, but still managed to let him take another picture with them standing next to each other. Great, it was one thing to be attending a high end party pretending to be Draco’s girlfriend. And she was almost certain that she was the only muggleborn in attendance here at the Malfoy Manor. But to have their picture taken together for the Prophet was going to create all kinds of chaos and gossip. Who knows what kind of picture he managed to get of the two of them before he made his presence known. She just wanted to remain somewhat under the radar until they figured everything out. The last thing she needed was to get the Ministry involved.
Why did he think this was a good idea? Draco thought. He honestly didn’t think this would be a huge deal. But by all the looks they were getting from the guests, it was obvious they were both becoming the main topic of gossip instead of being inconspicuous like he thought they would be. Now the Daily Prophet was getting involved and everything. Its not that he was embarrassed or ashamed of Hermione it was just not the way he imagined outing their relationship.
But in a way he supposed that it was a good thing that they already put themselves out there, so now the next time they go out in public together it wouldn’t be such a shock to the world.
He despised functions like this, always smiling and trying to make polite chit chat with people you don’t know or don’t remember meeting before. He couldn’t wait to leave and take Hermione to his country house where they could spend the entire weekend doing whatever they pleased.
He left Hermione, who was busy talking to his Aunt Andromeda. He figured she would be safe with her while he went to get two flutes of champagne for him and Hermione. A good way to make this party go smoothly will be to avoid his father at all cost. So far he hasn’t seen any sight of him but that didn’t mean he wasn’t here. He made his way to the beverage table when a familiar voice stopped him.
“Well if it isn’t The Famous Draco Malfoy. Prince of Slytherin. Mr. Hot Shot businessman of the International Magical Corporations Department. The Hottest most eligible bachelor in the Wizarding Wor…”
“Yeah, yeah I got it haha. How’s it going Zabini? Long time no see mate.” Draco interrupted him to give Blaise a brief manly hug.
Blaise laughed, “Not much. Just got back from Italy. Mum got married again…this is husband number 8…I think. I don’t remember I’ve stopped counting after the fifth one.”
“Haha, do you think this one will last?” Draco asked.
“Honestly…I’m not holding my breath. You think by now she would just give up or at least try to be single for a bit, who knows she might like it if she’d just try. But no, she can’t last 24 hours without someone there to fill in the gap. It’s sad really. But enough about her how are you? How’s work?”
“Works good, I’ve been on somewhat of a holiday for the past week so if anything new has happened there I wouldn’t know of it.”
“I was talking to your mother and she mentioned you moved to muggle London, is that true?”
“Yeah I moved to a flat there about a month ago. It’s close to the Ministry so I don’t have to apparaite there everyday. But I still have my country house. I wasn’t ready to give that up yet.”
“I never thought I hear the day that you Malfoy would ever want to even consider living next to muggles. I mean how can you even stand it? Its making me cringe just thinking about it.”
“It’s not too bad. They mind their own business and I mine.”
Blaise shook his head, “Hum. Speaking of muggles I could have sworn I saw mudblood Granger over there talking to someone here at the party a few moments ago.”
Draco cleared his throat, it was mow or never to fess up to his best mate. “Well actually you did see her. She came here with me.”
Blaise choked on his drink. “I’m sorry did I hear you correctly, did you just say she came here with you?”
“Yes you did. I invited here. We’ve been somewhat seeing each other.”
Blaise stared at him for a moment then burst out laughing, when he realized that Draco wasn’t joining him he stopped. “Oh my god mate, you’re serious? But why? I mean how did that happen?”
“She runs a bookshop not far from my flat and I went in there one day and I don’t know we hit it off. And well…” he shrugged. “Something just happened, I can’t explain it.” No way could he explain the full truth, he would think he’d gone mad.
“But she’s a mudbl…muggleborn.”
“Yeah and I’ve decided it doesn’t matter.”
“What about your parents, do they know?”
“Mother seems okay with it. And my father…well I haven’t seen him yet but its not hard to guess what he will think about it.”
“Yeah that will be a conversation I don’t want to be present for.”
Draco lightly punched him in the arm. “Gee thanks for the support mate.” He said sarcastically.
Blaise rubbed at his arm. “I support you man. If you want to be with her then that’s cool. I just don’t want to stick around when your father decides to express his opinion on the matter. She must be a really great shag if you’re willing to go against your father’s demands.”
“Don’t make me hex you Zabini,” Draco joked.
Blaise raised both hands surrendering, which left them both laughing. “Your mother also mentioned that the Greengrass sisters are here. I had a brief glance at Astoria. Have you seen her yet?”
Draco shook his head.
“Man she has really turned into something. If I wasn’t married I would…”
“If you finish that sentence Blaise Zabini, you’re sleeping on the sofa tonight.” Blaise’s wife Pansy said stepping out from behind him. “Hello Draco, how have you’ve been?”
Draco leaned in to give her a hug. “I’m good, How are you? You look very…”
“Pregnant I know.” Pansy interrupted rubbing her belly.
“Haha I was going to say you look lovely tonight…but yeah you’re right you look very pregnant as well.” He teased. “So when is the little tike due?”
“Ugh, four extremely long months to go. I swear I feel like I’m going to explode.”
“Hey guess what? Draco’s dating Hermione Granger.” Blaise told his wife.
Pansy stared at him the same way Blaise did earlier. “Wait you mean Granger…from school?”
“Who else would I be talking about?” Blaise asked.
“I’m just making sure I heard correctly. May I ask why and… how?” She turned to Draco.
But Blaise answered for him. “Because he’s in love with her, that’s why.” He stated, then held up a hand stopping whatever Draco was about to say in protest. “Before you deny it, it’s true. I can tell and besides you wouldn’t risk going against everything your parents raised you with or bring her here with you tonight, if you weren’t in love with her.”
“Wait, she’s here?” Pansy asked looking around trying to spot her.
Draco noticed that Hermione was currently sitting at a table close by. Blaise and Pansy followed his eye sight and they both spotted her as well. Hermione must have felt them all staring at her because she looked up at them and gave a shy wave in their direction. Draco smiled and waved back in return.
“See look at his face. The bloke is completely done for.” Blaise said to Pansy.
Draco just rolled his eyes at his friends.
“Well aren’t you going to introduce us to your girlfriend?” Pansy asked.
“Oh why not, just be nice.” Draco said.
Pansy looked offended. “I’m always nice.” She said then added, “When it counts.”
Blaise just snorted at her.
Draco turned to him as well, “You too.”
Blaise raised his hands up, “Hey you might be the one gifted with the looks but I’m the one with the charming personality.”
Pansy smacked him, “More like the one with the annoying personality.”
“Ah and you love me for it,” Blaise said kissing her soundly on the lips.
“And I’m still trying to figure out why,” she teased. “I promise he’ll be on his best behavior,” she said turning towards Draco.
“Okay well come on then,” Draco said walking towards the table Hermione was sitting at.
Hermione stood up as they approached. Draco came around and handed her, her drink.
“Thanks,” she murmured.
“You remember Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson now Pansy Zabini.” Draco said.
“Of course I do. How are you two doing these days? And congratulations.” Hermione said gesturing towards Pansy’s stomach.
“Congratulations on what?” Pansy asked.
“Oh um your baby. When are you due?”
“What baby? Are you saying I look fat?” Pansy replied.
Hermione visibly paled while Draco chuckled. “Oh um…”
“Relax Hermione, she’s just joking.” Blaise said. “Which by the way honey you’re not very good at. I’ve told you a million times that joke isn’t funny anymore.” Blaise told his wife.
“Hey I was just trying to lighten the mood. Sorry Hermione I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. And thank you we are both very excited about the baby. I’m due in mid January. Which can’t come any sooner if you ask me.”
Just then Narcissa Malfoy walked up to the group. “Would you do your mother proud and take her for a spin on the dance floor?” She asked Draco.
He glanced at Hermione, “Haha go on don’t worry about me.” She told him.
“Don’t worry mate will keep her company.” Blaise told him.
“Well then I’d be honor too mother, shall we?” he held out his arm for her to take.
“I won’t keep him long I promise.” Narcissa told the group.
Hermione watched as Draco led his mother to the dance floor leaving her with his friends who were both watching her intently. They all stood there, no one saying anything until Pansy broke the silence.
“Do you mind if I sit down my back in killing me.”
“No of course not, go ahead.” Hermione said.
Pansy sat down in the seat across from Hermione.
“I’m going to go get a drink, do you need anything love?” Blaise asked his wife.
“Um something cold to drink…ooh and something to eat I’m starving…make sure it’s something salty.”
He chuckled, “I’ll see what I can find. Hermione would you like anything?”
“No I’m fine thank you.”
As soon as Blaise was out of earshot Pansy took a candy bar out of her purse and took a big healthy bite, “So, you and Draco eh?”
Hermione nodded, “Yeah, hard to believe isn’t it?”
Pansy thought that over, “No, not really.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow in question.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret. And if you mention it to Draco, he’ll probably deny it because that’s just the way he is. But I always thought he fancied you, back in school I mean. Out of everyone you were the one he picked on the most. And when he wasn’t picking on you he was complaining about you or making fun of you behind your back.”
Hermione took a moment for all of that to sink in. “So you’re saying he made my life a living hell because deep down he might have had feelings for me?”
Pansy laughed, “Okay so I guess when you really think back on it, it doesn’t sound terribly romantic. But still I remember moments when I would catch him staring at you, and don’t get me started on the Yule Ball. He was so jealous…again not that he would ever admit it to anyone. But he was so jealous that you went with Viktor Krum. The whole night that’s all he talked about and he couldn’t take his eyes off of you. Actually that night Blaise finally confessed his feelings for me. See I went with Draco to the Yule Ball, strictly as friends of course because Blaise didn’t puck up the courage to ask me first. And then when Draco kept on ignoring me all night, I took a chance and snuck off with Blaise where we ended up…expressing our true feelings for one another so to speak.” Pansy giggled.
Hermione chuckled, “I see.” She said wanting to believe what she said, but she couldn’t quite image it.
“So how did you two meet up again?”
“Um well he came to my bookshop and was looking for a gift for his mother’s birthday actually. And it kind of just went off from there. Although he’ll probably say we hit it off right away but really that’s far from the truth. What really happened was he came in acting all arrogant like he’s always been, then he said something insulting to me. And then I threaten to hex him if he didn’t leave my shop. And it wasn’t until after that, that we somehow hit if off.”
“So I take it, it wasn’t love at first sight?”
“Haha no definitely not.” They both laughed at that easing away the tension.
“Wait you said you have a bookshop? I could have sworn that you were a healer over at St. Mungos.”
“Well I used to be yes, but I resigned a few months ago and I ended up buying a shop near my apartment in London and turned it into a bookshop.”
“In muggle London?” Pansy asked.
“So it’s a muggle bookshop?”
“Yes but I carry magical books as well. I got special permission from the Ministry to sell to magical folks as well as muggle. The only downsize is that I have to shield the magical side from the muggles so they won’t find out about it. So everything magical is in a back room that only people from the wizarding world can enter into.”
“Wow that’s sounds interesting. Do you get many customers from the wizarding world?”
“Honesty not as many as I was hoping for. But the other day Draco helped me put in a add to the Daily Prophet and that has done wonders.”
“Well that was generous of him; he must really care for you if he used his connections with the Prophet to help out your shop.”
“Yeah believe me I’m still shocked over it. Especially for my shop which at the moment the majority of the clientele is mainly muggles.” Hermione said.
She went on to explain how she was in desperate need to find someone to help out around the shop. And how hard it was to possibly find someone who could handle magic as well as being around muggles all day. She never expected it, but Pansy was really easy to talk to and she found they had a lot in common. She could easily see herself becoming friends with her; she actually reminded her a lot of Ginny.
Pansy even wanted to come to her shop to check it out and maybe even work part time managing the front…at least until the baby was born. They set up a day and time next week so she could get a feel for the place.
Blaise returned shortly with a plate full of chicken legs and pumpkin juice for Pansy and a firewhisky for himself. The two of them were telling her a funny story about Draco when he was younger that had the three of them laughing so hard that their sides ached. Hermione was trying to catch her breath when she looked over to where Draco was dancing with his mother except he wasn’t dancing with her. Instead he was dancing with someone else and he looked rather chummy with her too.
“Who’s that?” she asked trying to ignore the pang of jealousy that kicked in.
Pansy and Blaise stopped laughing to look at who she was talking about.
“Oh, that’s Astoria Greengrass.” Blaise said drowning the rest of his firewhisky.