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Otherwise Engaged by majamariamaja

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Format: Novel
Chapters: 24
Word Count: 111,740
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Harry/Ginny, Hermione/OC

First Published: 02/19/2011
Last Chapter: 06/21/2012
Last Updated: 06/21/2012

Summary:
AMAZING banner by Dreams. @ TDA!


Hermione Granger's practically perfect life is turned upside-down after meeting her former enemy at the local pub.
This is her story.

I froze. I wasn't alone. Was Martin here? I removed the pillow from my face and opened my eyes. It wasn't my bedroom. Where the hell was I?
"Good morning, Mudblood."
I screamed while jumping into a sitting position.
"Malfoy?!"


Chapter 10: Surprises. Plural.
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Chapter image - rockstarkisses at TDA :D

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This chapter is dedicated to rockstarkisses! Thanks, hon, for making me those amazing chapter images.

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Chapter 10. Surprises. Plural.




I should have known.

I should have anticipated this.

But even though it was sort of an anti-climax to open my eyes and see what I was standing in front of, I still got the tingling sensation of being home. Strange, isn't it? How a place in which you've spent some moments of your childhood can trigger that same comforting feeling many years later?

The Leaky Cauldron hadn't changed one bit since I was here almost five years ago. It was like stepping back in time when Draco dragged me through the mahogony doors, and once we were inside I realised that it actually smelled the same too. Even Tom the barman was standing at the same place behind the counter, drying off some glasses with a dirty towel. For all I knew it could have been the same towel he'd used five years ago; it sure looked like it.

«I told you I would cheer you up, Brownie.» Draco smiled down at me, took my hand and lead me to a table by a dusty, old window. I only then realised that I was grinning.

Being here was so familiar, so comfortable that it felt like I was back to being my seventeen-year old self. I sensed how I naturally transformed into that girl; my posture changed, my hair grew bushier, courage seeped back into my veins and the desire to fiddle with my wand got too strong to ignore.

Without really thinking about it I opened my purse, found the smooth piece of wood and held it up in front of me.

«Brownie. Maybe you should put that down?» Draco's voice cut through the wave of memories that were engulfing me.

I looked up at Draco, then back down at my hand. While blushing fiercely I hid my hand in my lap. But I didn't put it back into my purse. I just didn't feel the need to right now, which surprised me, considering that I'd basically treated my wand like a deadly virus these past years.

«Sorry,» I said, putting a strand of hair behind my ear. «I guess I just... I don't know.»

«I know what you mean,» Draco smiled, and I had to let out a sigh. Why did he have to be so beautiful when he smiled? «There's something about this place, isn't it?»

I nodded in agreement.

«I'll be right back. Try not to be too obvious.» After winking at me he got up from his chair and walked to the bar. With a goofy expression, I stared at his shapely back, almost drooling. Draco smiled at Tom while talking, which caused the butterflies in my belly to flitter about uncontrollably.

«Behave!» I hissed at my stomach, and realised just a little too late that I had said it much louder than I intended. Several men and women (some wearing cloaks, pointy hats or other magical give-aways, and others quite normal looking) looked up from their meals and stared at me. For a long time I bowed my head down, wishing more than ever to be completely invisible. Then, like someone had opened a window, I felt a cool breeze. I wrapped one arm around my torso while the other one still clutched the wand under the table, it giving me at least some comfort in this uncomfortable situation.

«Hermione?» Draco was standing right beside me holding two mugs of golden liquid, and looking around with a confused expression.

«Yes?» I responded, startling him.

He stared at my chair, looking straight through me. Then he turned his head several times before shrugging his shoulders.

«And now I'm hearing voices... Great,» he muttered to himself, sat the mugs down on the table and pulled out his chair.

«Thanks,» I said, not at all understanding why he acted so strange. Draco stopped mid-air as he was going to sit down on his chair, his head suddenly snapping in my direction. Then he blinked several times in disbelief before slowly sitting down.

«Hermione? What in the bloody hell is going on?!» he hissed, still looking right through me.

«What are you on about?» I asked, took one of the mugs and drank, my eyes examining Draco's shocked face.

Ah! It was Butterbeer! How I'd missed that wonderful taste.

«You need to end this right now! You'll get us thrown out,» he whispered.

Why did he have to ruin my Butterbeer-buzz by acting weird?

Adding to his strangeness, he looked over his shoulder at Tom. Honestly, even though I had no idea what Draco was on about, I didn't think he had anything to fear. Tom was still drying off a glass with the same towel, an empty expression on his face.

«End what?» I squinted my eyes at him. This wasn't funny. What was he talking about?

«Take a look at your hand, Brownie.»

I rolled my eyes at him, and as I put the mug back on the table I cast a glance at my hand. Or what I thought was my hand. Instead of my hand, the hand where my engagement ring would have been, there was now nothing.

«What the hell?!» I shrieked and jumped up from my seat.

«Shh!» Draco looked behind his shoulder again, and this time Tom eyed us suspiciously. Or, he eyed Draco suspiciously, since he probably couldn't see me either.

Every single person inside this little pub was staring at our table, muttering to themselves or exchanging annoyed glances with each other.

Slowly, trying not to raise any more suspicion than I already had, I sat back down on my seat. This time I looked around to make sure that the other people were back to chatting, eating or drinking before I spoke in very hushed whispers.

«What is happening?»

Draco thought for a moment before answering, and seeing as he was unsure where to look, he just stared down at the table.

«Are you still holding your wand?» he asked, his hushed tone matching mine.

«Yes?»

«Put it on the table, and I'll hide it for you.»

I did as he said, and marveled at how odd it was to see my wand floating in the air, even though I could feel it in my hand. He slowly took it, and hid it inside his jacket pocket.

«What's wrong with me, Draco?» I whispered very, very low.

«I think,» he leaned across the table, «I think you've managed to cast an Invisibility Charm upon yourself.»

«But that's bonkers!» I tried to maintain as silent as possible.

«Well, if you've got any better ideas then let's hear it!» He looked up, not realising that his eyes were not staring into my eyes, but in fact at my nose. It was less intimidating this way, so my heart kept its normal pace (well, as normal as could be expected in his prescence) which was a change very much appreciated.

I didn't answer him, and this made him look around disoriented.

«Hermione?» he whispered. «Are you still here?»

With a sly smile, I kept very quiet. And for a few moments I let him think that I'd left. That smug bastard deserved it.

«Yes, I'm he-» I started whispering, but someone interrupted me.

«Where is your lady friend, Malfoy?»

My head snapped to the side and I saw a scowling Tom putting two plates of hot food on the table. My stomach grumbled at the sight.

«Ehm, she-she's... Re-resting,» he explained in stutters.

«What?» Tom squinted his eyes.

«Restroom!» Draco hurriedly corrected.

Tom just stood there, eyeing Draco, waiting for something to confirm his suspicions. He didn't make any attempt to smile or to return to his place behind the counter either.

«Yes... She's in the restroom,» Draco said again after two highly uncomfortable minutes of Tom staring at him. Then he tried to shoot Tom a glittering smile, but it was completely in vain, for Tom still just stood there.

«Ehm, I think I'll go get her. You know, to tell her that the food's ready.»

With a subtle nod in my direction Draco got up from his seat and darted across the floor, making his way to the restrooms in a hurry. Once safely inside the ladies room, and after checking that there was no one in there, he locked the door and let out a long breath.

«That was close. Tom sure doesn't like any 'funny business' in his pub, does he?» He looked around. «Are you here, or am I standing here talking to myself like some loon?»

«I'm here,» I said with a giggle.

«Okay, then let's remove this spell before anything else happens.» He drew his wand from his pocket and looked around. «Ehm, I don't know where to point... Obviously.» Another sigh-worthy smile appeared on his lips.

«A-all right,» I stammered. My palms were sweating now that we were in a confined space all alone, and I had to concentrate twice as hard as usual to keep onto my sanity. «Here,» I whispered as I lightly put my hand on his chest, and closed my eyes. It was easier with eyes closed, I had figured out.

The heat emerging from him warmed my palm, and made my swollen heart speed up its rate. As if this wasn't enough to cause a heart-attack, his hand found mine and pressed it tightly. Then he ran his fingers up my arm, lingered for a second on my neck before his hand slowly crept up the side of my face, then he rested his palm on the crown of my head.

After Draco mumbled some incoherent words I felt a warmth trickling down my spine, and I opened my eyes, although this moment really was too good to end. I looked at my hand, and once again saw my engagement ring glittering on my finger.

«Thank you,» I said hoarsely, not meeting his gaze, and removed my hand.

Draco didn't say anything, but removed his hand too, only to slip it inside his jacket pocket and retrieve my wand. After handing it over to me I heard him sighing deeply, then he turned to open the door for me.

Tom was behind the counter as we walked past him, and he gave me a toothless grin, a grin I returned as I sat down at our table. I must say, his mood was swaying back and forth like a swing set gone out of hand.

«I'll get these re-heated for us,» Draco mumbled, got our plates and walked back over to Tom. Then, after Tom hurried along to the kitchen with our cold meals, a busty blonde sat down on a barstool right next to Draco, casting him coy glances every two seconds. It was only a matter of time before Draco noticed her.

And there we go.

Busty Blonde whipped her hair (do people really do that in real life?) and caught Draco's attention, then the two of them spent several moments exchanging flirty smiles while chatting. And I watched the whole thing with an uproar in my belly, but I blamed the hunger for that.

When Tom came out of the kitchen with our plates, Busty Blonde quickly scribbled something on a napkin which she then gave to Draco, along with another coy smile. Then she walked to the exit with her hips swaying from side to side in an exaggerated fashion, and with one last hair-flip she opened the door and left.

That braindead, daft, ugly, bimb-

«Here we go!» Draco put the plates on the table. «Smells delicious, doesn't it?»

I glared at him.

«Who was that?» I asked, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible.

«Who?» With a mouth full of hot potatoes he looked up at me.

I dramatically whipped my hair and fanned my eyelashes at him.

«Oh, her!» he exclaimed, and smiled as he shuffled another load of potatoes into his mouth. «My future wife, that's who.»

«If you say so... » I mumbled and took a big bite of the sausage, the uproar in my stomach finally settling. Or, at least it got better. A little bit.

Draco obviously caught my unenthusiastic tone and looked up from his plate, and for several seconds he stared at me. Then suddenly he took the piece of paper she'd given him and ripped it down the middle.

«What was that for? She wasn't blonde enough for you after all?» I looked at the ripped napkin that had fallen onto the floor, and my heart fluttered.

«Nah, it wasn't that. I just remembered where I met her before.» He buried his face in the sausage, not meeting my gaze.

«I'm going out on a limb here, and I'm guessing not church?» I took a bite of the grilled tomato, pleased with my response.

«Not exactly, no.»

Was that all he had to say? Every time something remotely interesting happened, he wouldn't talk about it. Unless it had something to do with mocking and/or teasing me, then he was all over the subject like a fly on dragon dung. But like now for example, he wouldn't tell me what had happened between him and Busty Blonde, and I had to know!

All right, maybe I didn't have to, but I really was curious.

«Care to elaborate?» I wanted to pat myself on the shoulder for sounding so at ease.

He squirmed uncomfortable in his seat before answering, but still not looking in my direction.

«Ehm... » He suddenly didn't remember? It looked like he thought harder than ever, and I could practically hear his brain buzzing. «Why are you interested, anyway? Are you jealous?»

I scoffed, the notion of that was completely absurd. Of course I wasn't jealous. That would mean that I liked him as more than a friend, and he really was nothing more than a friend to me. Maybe I had to admit to feeling some sort of attraction to him, but that was really not my fault! It was his own fault, you know, for being so bloody gorgeous and all.

Me, jealous. Hah!

«Don't flatter yourself, Blondie.» I rolled my eyes at him. «And don't you try and turn this around. Where did you meet your wife-to-be?»

Draco sighed, fidgeting with  his fork. «Ehm, yeah, let's just say th-that the last time we went out... I-I... I got a very life-scarring surprise! Yes. That's exactly what happened.»

«What do you mean?» I gave up trying to act as if I wasn't curious, so instead I now sounded like one of those gossip-craving women. My female co-workers would have been proud of me, I'm sure.

He looked up at me. Devilish grin locked firmy in place, causing his eyes to twinkle dangerously.

«I mean that,» he started, but paused for effect. When I nodded in encouragement, my patience wearing out, his grin widened. «If I were to compare the age of her and my great grandmother, then she'd come in at a very close second.»

Huh?

Was this a code for something? For all I knew this could be a boy-code for fake breasts, or... Or was he trying to be funny? I always used to get his jokes, but now th-

Wait, what?!

«What?!» I gasped, both my hands flying to my face to cover my open mouth. In my shock I had dropped the fork I was holding, and now it clattered as it met the table. «Nooo...?» I dragged out the word as I shook my head in complete disbelief, my eyes wide open.

Draco just sat there nodding, grinning widely, and almost chuckling to himself.

«But -» I started, and let my hands fall limp down on the table. Then I turned around to look at the exit, as if I half expected the Busty Blonde to stand there so I could take a good look at her - maybe get a glimpse of a wrinkle somewhere. But obviously she was long gone. When I realised this I turned back to Draco,  now leaning across the table and whispering conspiratorically. «But I didn't see any wrinkles or anything like that.»

«Sadly,» Draco sighed and went back to shoveling food into his mouth, «neither did I. Not until it was too late late anyway.»

«But how is that even possible? She looked twenty years old, if not younger!»

«I dunno. Some kind of dark magic, probably.» He didn't look at me now.

«I've never heard of it.» I stared at him, but he just shrugged his shoulders and continued eating.

«So did the two of you..?» I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing at Draco's expression.

«What?! No!» Bits of potato flew from his mouth. «I sputtered something about leaving my coffee machine on and then got the hell out of there!»

I couldn't hold it in any longer, and let out a loud laugh.

«If you ask me,» I collected myself, and my laughter was soon replaced by a simple mischievous smile, «that all sounds pretty memorable. So why didn't you recognise her straight away?»

Draco's body froze, and he gulped.

«Ehm.» His smile faded, eyes darting back and forth completely unable to stay focused on one thing. «Oh, yes. About that...»

For several seconds he just opened and closed his mouth, no sound coming out.

«Were you drunk?» I asked.

«I, ehm, we... It was, I mean-»

«Draco?» I squinted my eyes at him. «Are you making this up?»

«Of course not!» he protested, but still not looking in my direction.

«Then why can't you remember her?» I  furrowed my brows.

«Well... » he suddenly looked up at me. Finally meeting my stare, this time with a cocky glint in his eyes. «Let me tell you something, Brownie. Large quantities of alcohol and fierce determination can make a man forget mostly anything he wants. And believe you me, I did not want to remember that particular event.»

I squinted my eyes again.

«All right... » I said unwillingly, and went back to eating. Still highly suspicious.






After Draco paid for our meal («This is a part of my Brownie-cheer-up routine,» he insisted before grabbing the check) he escorted me out of The Leaky Cauldron with a knowing smile. It should unsettle me to not know what he had planned next. But strangely enough, it didn't.

«Okay, you've got two choices right now.» Draco turned to me, the two of us locking eyes. «One,» he held up his index finger in front of me, «we can go back to the office and spend the rest of the day in complete boredom.»

«And the other one?» I pursed my lips in mock suspicion.

«The other one, choice number two... » His broad grin and smoldering eyes made me catch my breath. He raised his middle finger and wagged it. «Is to not go back, but instead come with me to Diagon Alley. And if you choose the latter, you will get another surprise.» He lowered his hand. «What do you say?»

Draco still held onto my stare, and made it impossible to fake that I had to think about it. Truth be told, I immediately knew what I would choose, even before he gave me the second option.

Spending time with Draco actually did cheer me up, to the point of me hardly remembering what was initially bothering me. And I simply refused to start trying to remember now - I was having too much fun.

Fun. I was having fun. With Draco.

«Let's go,» I started saying as I grinned, «to Diagon Alley.»

Draco grinned widely and put his hand out, I took it and after he'd dragged me around a corner into a deserted alley, he spun and once again I had the feeling of being suffocated. Which, if I hadn't known for sure that we were Apparating, I would have written off as Draco's influence on me.

Yes, it really is that bad.

I drew a ragged breath when my feet met the ground, and Draco grinned down at me.

«You're not freaking out. That's a huge improvement, Brownie. Congratulations!»

«Very funny. You know, I did remember how to Apparate, I-I was just caught off guard. That's all.»

«Yeah, right.» He rolled his eyes at me, the smile still intact on his face.

After ripping my eyes away from Draco's gorgeous appearance, I feasted them on my surroundings.

Diagon Alley, unlike The Leaky Cauldron, had changed massively since the last time I was there. I remember the streets and stores as mostly abandoned, burned down, empty and completely trashed... But this...

«Amazing, isn't it?» asked Draco and gave my hand, which he was still holding, a gentle squeeze.

There were tears in my eyes. How could I ever forget how marvellous this place was? It was so full of life!

So full of the life I had willingly left behind...

No, I wasn't going to dwell upon that now. So I shook my head, and stared at the swarm of people all around me.

Children of all ages were running in the streets with bags full of sweets, and old witches and wizards were chatting and carrying cauldrons or other magical objects - everyone chatting lively. I noticed how several young students were hurrying from one store to the other to buy everything on their list, a protective hand about their newly aquired owl, cat, frog or lizard.

With a gleeful giggle I threw myself in Draco's arms, and hugged him tightly with happy tears falling from my eyes.

«Thank you!» I gripped tighter. «Thank you for bringing me here and showing me this.» I didn't let go of him until we got remarks from an old witch complaining about us blocking her way.

We laughed as we broke apart.

«In my opinion, this beats going back to the office. So I'm pleased you chose option number two.» Draco gave me a lopsided grin and dried away my tears with his sleeve.

«Me too, even though I know I should feel bad about it.» I sniffled, still grinning at him.

«Being bad feels pretty good, though, doesn't it, Brownie?» I nodded and then he gently took my hand. «Are you ready for your next surprise?»

I nodded again and followed him, holding onto his warm hand like it was the most natural thing in the world. We made it through to the middle of the street feeling more than a bit crowded by the sea of people we pushed through.

It wasn't hard to see what Draco was pulling me towards once we had passed another mass of people, seeing as it was the biggest store on the whole street. But I still got the wind knocked out of me for a second, my jaw dropping.

Books.

It was the biggest, most extravagant bookstore I had ever laid my eyes on in all my life, and my eyes immediately started watering again.

«Draco... » I choked out, swallowing hard. «This is... It's incredible.»

«Come on, let's go ins-»

I didn't even let him finish his sentence. I was already almost sprinting towards the store, pulling Draco behind me. He was laughing, and if I hadn't been preoccupied with leaping through the entrance, I'm sure that the sound of his laugh would have set me over the edge.

«Sweet mother of Merlin!» I exclaimed.

Rows and rows, from floor to ceiling, top to bottom, from one end to the other were shelves filled with, as far as I knew, every book ever written.

I was in heaven!

Without letting go of Draco's hand, I ran to the nearest row and began reading the titles. Once in a while I would almost scream as I found a book I hadn't read since my Hogwarts days, or books I'd only heard of. When I was balancing too many books in my one hand, the other one still attached to Draco's, I looked hopelessly at the other millions of books waiting for me to discover them.

«Bugger! There's too many books, and not enough arms! I would have to grow anoth-»

«I'll take them.» Draco squeezed my hand before letting go, and then took all the books I was carrying into his own arms. I smiled at him, but was too excited to see him return it - I was already scanning the next row.

I bet hours had gone by, but for me time was flying away, escaping me. Draco and I were now at one of the rows in the back of the store where everything was quiet, and the dimly lit rooms cast shadows over everything, giving it a mysterious feel. Poor Draco had after a while just hexed the growing mountain of books to hover beside him, and I had taken that moment to grab onto his hand again. He had smiled at this, and that time I did return it.

When we were at the end of the last bookshelf I sighed and leaned against a pillar of books, almost knocking it over.

«Tired?»

I nodded.

«Let's take a break.» He sat down on the floor and rested his back against one of the bookshelves, and since my hand was welded within his, I was pulled down after him. I only then fully realised how my feet and back were aching.

«How long have we been here?»

«Three hours and forty -» he checked his watch, «- seven minutes.»

«Oh! I'm so sorry! I had no idea it had been that long.»

«Didn't I tell you? This is all another part of my Brownie-cheer-up plan. I actually though it would be more like five hours, so we're far ahead of schedule.»

I giggled.

«You're quite amazing, Draco.»

«It's a commonly known fact, yes.»

I smiled at him before I put my head on his shoulder, closing my eyes. After a long sigh, he rested his head on my head. We sat like this for a while, our fingers interlaced, bathing in a comfortable silence and serenity that only this many books could bring into a room.

«Draco?»

«Hermione.»

«I was wondering...»

«Yes?»

«When did you start drawing?» I had been wondering about that ever since he started working at the office, but never really dared ask him. And my thoughts were oddly muddy whenever I was around him, so I doubt I would have found the words. Until now.

«I don't know.» I felt his shoulders shrug.

«Oh, come on. Indulge me.» I lifted my head and looked at his profile. I hadn't noticed his profile before, but, like everything else about him, it had a graceful strength to it. I concluded now that this man was too beautiful for his own good.

He sighed. «Okay. Ehm, I always used to draw, I guess.»

«Even back at Hogwarts?» How odd, yet wonderful it was to say that name again out loud. More importantly, it felt normal again, not as if I was choking at the mere thought of it. After the war I'd distanced myself more and more from everything even remotely magical. So when I met Martin it wasn't a difficult decision to completely disappear from the magical community, and start living a muggle life.

It was still hard to believe that I was sitting in a magic bookstore in the middle of Diagon Alley, after four years of shuddering at the mere though of magic. It was strange how people could change after time...

Or maybe, just maybe, blond, blue eyed men had something to do with it instead?

«Especially at Hogwarts. You know, during boring classes.» He turned his head and our eyes met, sparks flying. And I completely lost my train of though.

Were magical books flammable? If so, we were doomed...

«No, I don't know,» I answered. I had never been less than 110% focused during class, no matter the subject.

Not counting Divination... I refused to define that load of old bollocks as a class.

«Oh, yes, I forgot you were a nerd,» he teased with a grin.

«I was not a nerd, I was just smarter than you,» I retorted.

«You know very well that you were a freak of nature when it came to all things Hogwarts, so don't you try and deny it.»

If I couldn't deny it, I would certainly change the subject.

«So what did you draw?»

«Anything, really.» Then, probably remembering something, he chuckled to himself. «As a matter of fact, I remember that I back in fourth year drew a very detailed picture of Madame Hooch doing something particularly nasty with a broom.»

I gasped in horror.

«Yeah, that piece of art earned me four months of detention, cleaning all the bedpans in the Hospital Wing over and over again.»

«That's nasty!» I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

«Tell me about it. You do not want to know about all the disgusting things that were in those bedpa-»

«I wasn't talking about the bedpans, though I believe you, but seriously? Madame Hooch?»

He shrugged his shoulders, now a hidden smile in the corner of his mouth. «She had a nice rack.»

«That. Is. Disturbing.» I let go of his hand and was about to get up, but Draco pulled me back down.

«I was fourteen, I didn't know any better. Please, let's just sit here for a little while longer.»

«Fine. But aren't they closing soon?» I made myself comfortable on the floor, leaning my shoulder against his.

«The store? Nope. They're not closing until we're done. I have a deal with the owner.»

«Aren't you full of surprises,» I muttered and raised my head to look up at him, admiring his beauty.

My books were still hovering in the air at Draco's other side, teasing me. Calling out my name, and begging me to open them and start reading their bewitching words. My fingers literally itched.

«You want to start reading, don't you?»

«They're calling out to me!» I complained.

Draco laughed and made my spine turn to jelly. «You're adorable, you know that?»

«It's a commonly known fact, yes,» I repeated his line from before, and this made him smile down at me with sparkling eyes.

I don't quite know how we went from this to what happened next. Because I now found myself kissing him, my fingers in his hair, passion pulsating through me like a steady heartbeat. Draco was taken aback at this new development, but then he put both his hands on either side of my face, not deepening the kiss, but making it sweeter than I could ever have deemed possible. Turning my feverish passion into a tender and mellow purring in my chest. It warmed my soul, and the heat from his hands made me feel so secure I almost cried.

There was something wrong with this picture, though. A looming guilty feeling in the back of my head, buried beneath the pile of Draco that was taking up most of the space. But I couldn't put a finge-

MARTIN!

I violently shoved Draco away from me and quickly got to my feet, shaking.

«What the hell am I doing?!» I hissed at myself, pacing back and forth. «I-I'm taken! I'm getting marr-»

«No, you're not taken. You're... busy. Otherwise engaged, if you will.» He was still sitting, looking up at me with that smile he knew I couldn't resist.

«That's cute... But it's still wrong, Draco.»

He got up, keeping onto our stare without blinking. «Then why does it feel so good?» He let the question hang in the air, not really expecting an answer.

Then he took a step toward me, my cheast heaving as he drew nearer. He leaned in slowly and then, very gently, let his lips touch mine. It was a simple, careful kiss which was over before I knew it. Then he let his fingers lightly stroke my cheek before taking a step back.

Oh, how I longed to feel his lips again, to touch him, feel his body against mine for just a few more moments. In the middle of my struggles, though, my phone started ringing.

Half thankful, half annoyed by the interruption I flipped it open and answered.

«Hermione!» Ginny's excited voice made my head spin after spending so many hours in this bookish silence. «Are you up for dinner tomorrow night?»

«Oh, tomorrow? That's Saturday, right?» I asked, shifting my weight awkwardly from one foot to the other. I was very much aware that Draco's piercing eyes were on me.

«Yes. And oh, by the way, I'm inviting Draco -» my heart skipped a beat, «- I hope that's okay?»

«Y-yeah. That's... That's fine,» I stuttered, not looking at Draco.

«Great! Tomorrow then. Eight o'clock, this time at Morelli's. I have a weird craving for Italian.»

«O-Okay. See you then.»

Ginny hung up, but it took me several seconds to press the small, red button on my own phone.

«Ginny is going to invite you to come to dinner with us again,» I said, staring at the bookshelf to my right.

«If you don't want me to go, I'll understand... » Draco mumbled, and when I didn't respond, he started to walk down the corridor, slowly, waiting for me to follow.

I caught up with him, taking up the side where there were no books flying in the air. The clear sight of magic was still strange for me to behold, but I was almost beginning to get used to it.

«No. Of course you'll come. It'll... It'll be fun.»

«You sure?» Even if I hadn't been sure, how could he believe that I was able to resist the hopeful tone in his voice?

«Absolutely.»

Ah, that smile. It could break down walls, melt icebergs, end wars, and for me it made my soul sing. It was also impossible to resist, so I smiled back.

On our way out of the jungle of literature, Draco stopped to pay for my entire collection of books, refusing to even let me take the wallet out of my purse. And while he exchanged a few words with someone who I'm guessing was the owner, I was deep in thought... How could anyone this handsome be so kind and generous? It was beyond me, but I guess some people just had it all. It was unfair.

Though, I suddenly remembered, he'd been through a great ordeal, along with even greater pain. And even though I didn't know much about how he'd changed beyond recognition, I knew that I preferred this Draco to the one before.

Yes, he was certainly a mystery.






Draco had now Apparated us back to my building, carrying my bags full of books in his strong arms. I let go of him so he could put the heavy bags on the ground.

«Thank you,» I whispered, taking a step away from him. «For today, I mean.»

Draco nodded with a smile, this time not locking his stare at my eyes but, in fact, at my mouth. My face felt suddenly flushed, but I couldn't keep my eyes away from him.

«What would you say if I told you that I wanted to kiss you again?» He took a step toward me, held back only by the small mountain of books blocking his way.

«That it was just a one time thing that will not happen again... And that you're mad.» With a smile I bent down to pick up one of the bags full of heavy books. I had to focus on something other than him, or else I didn't know what would happen.

«No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.»

I quickly looked up, bag in hand.

«Aristotle,» I stated. Not quite sure how to react.

«I know.» Draco looked at me, very pleased with himself.

«Draco? Are you trying to impress me?»

«Of course not!»

Unleashing the full power of my stare upon this gorgeous blue eyed man, I wasn't surprised when Draco's expression changed to one of surrender.

«Can you blame me?» he whispered.

A silence followed after this, one that was so packed with the electricity of unsaid words that it physically hurt to still be standing there. But if I ended it, if I just walked away before nothing else happened (this being what my mind kept yelling at me) I was sure to bleed as if my very skin was being ripped off of his.

«I should leave.» But he didn't. He still stood there, waiting for my response. When I didn't say anything, however, he turned, about to Disapparate.

«You don't have to, you know,» I raised my voice so he could hear me.

«I don't have to what?» He half turned to look at me, his brows furrowed.

«Impress me,» I said, smiling. «I'm already pretty impressed,» I finished in whispers, but he still heard me.

With a grave look he turned his heel and then he was gone. Vanished into thin air. The only sign of him ever really being here was my fluttering heart and the bags of books by my feet.

«What are you doing, Hermione?» I muttered to myself as I looked over my shoulder, finding the window to my apartment. I saw that Martin had left the light on for me. Then remembering the pile of books, I got my wand, muttered the words to the undetectable extension charm I'd used on my beaded bag almost five years ago (surprised that it didn't feel like my heart was breaking) and started filling up my purse with all the books Draco had bought me. 

I then started walking into the building, feeling anxious to see Martin again after spending the whole day with Draco.

Maybe he'd notice how my lips were swollen, and my hair was more of a mess than usual? But knowing Martin, he probably wouldn't think much of it... He trusted me too much.

I drew a ragged breath as I put my hand on the door handle, twisted it and stepped through the entrance.

«Hermione!» Martin almost ran to me, kissing me full on the mouth. «I figured that since you didn't call to say you were late, that there was some kind of emergency at work. So I made you dinner.» Martin took my hand and lead me to our kitchen table, where candles were almost burned down, and then he pulled out a chair for me.

I sat down, my heart aching more and more as I realised that not only had he made me a romantic dinner, but he'd also cleaned the entire apartment, he was wearing the tie I gave him for Christmas, and he'd put a single red rose on my end of the table.

«I made my specialty,» he said and put a plate in front of me, an apologetic look on his face, «spaghetti and meatballs. Sorry it's not fancy.»

He then poured me a glass of wine before sitting down across from me.

«Martin... This is... » I swallowed hard, and hoped that he didn't notice the guilty tears in my eyes. «Thank you.»

Martin looked at me, raised his glass and waited for me to raise mine, when I did he just smiled warmly at me, clinking our glasses together.

What in the hell am I doing?




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A/N:

That little box at the end of the page, you see it? Yes, please write what you think about this chapter in that box, and you'll make me a very happy girl!

A lot is happening in this chapter, but I hope it didn't confuse you. Well, Hermione is more confused than ever, that's for sure. So I wouldn't blame you for being confused... If you are, that is. Okay, I'm rambling now :p


And in this chappie you also get some more explanation on why Hermione hasn't told Martin she's a witch! So what do you think about that?? :)

I love you for reading, hope you enjoyed it :)


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*Maria



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