A/N: Greetings all! Here is chapter 7, out eariler than usual as promised. A few matters of business to address: I have gotten a few requests to put the amount of 'reads' from Two to Tango on the summary, but I just dont feel comfortable doing that because I feel like that would be too ostentatious. However, for those who are interested, I will put it in this chapter. Currently, Two to Tango has recieved 159,935 reads since it's release in February of 2005. I never expected the story to take off as it did, so all of my thanks to you readers/reviewers who have supported me through every chapter, you guys are amazing. Alright, on to chapter 7!!
During my stay at Hogwarts, I was well known for engulfing myself in school work. There was probably none more studious than I, but like all children, the time eventually came for me to grow into my teenage form, and it did not exactly go unnoticed. I was no veela of course, but I had a few offers from boys wishing to court me around. Yet how could I possibly go gallivanting around with some bloke when I had to finish the entire volume of Advanced Arithmancy by the following week? It was so unreasonable it made me shudder. Ginny would constantly chastise me for it, claiming,
“Hermione, if you don’t go out and date, how will you ever meet your future husband? Bloody hell, all you do is sit around and… and… READ! Don’t you want to find love?”
But I wasn’t listening, because honestly, who finds true love at fourteen anyways? I didn’t, that’s for sure.
When I turned sixteen, after rejecting all forms of celebration that my parents were offering for a night with a good book, my mother warned me that if I constantly did nothing but read, I would fall into the land of fiction and never come back out. I would never have any friends, I would never have a boyfriend, and I would always be hiding behind a world of fake smiles and fairy tale endings. I believe her exact words to me were,
“Hermione, if you don’t stop turning away good people for some paper with ink on it, you are going to fall into a rabbit hole and come out a spinster cat lady.”
I hadn’t listened to her then, I was too busy reading.
When I was eighteen, my father warned me that it may be a good idea to try and make some new friends, some people I could spend my weekend evenings being social with and learning from. He had said,
“Hermione, I’m worried about you. Why don’t you go out to some of those fun-looking clubs that kids your age seem to be so fond of? I know that you have read that book seven times already.”
It was Hogwarts: A History, and I had read it eight times. I hadn’t listened to him then, I was half asleep from staying up reading.
Not long after my twentieth birthday, I was working late at the ministry. I had gotten carried away in a book I was reading over my lunch break, and as a result set me back a good forty five minutes in my work. I had thought I was the only one left in the office, but just as I was packing to leave, my boss came plodding down the corridor and halted at my desk. He took one look at me and said,
“Granger, if you don’t stop that incessant reading while you’re on my clock, I will burn the next book I see coming within a foot of your nose. Got it? And by the way, tomorrow is the staff picnic, so be sure to bring a friend along to introduce to the Minister. He likes to see his employees capable of keeping good company.”
I slept with my windows open that night, and called in sick the next morning with a head cold. I found it rather boring sitting at home with no work to do, but I found comfort in a thick edition of Shakespeare.
Now, I had once more been accused of hiding in a nonexistent realm of some other book. I had never listened to anyone before, so why had I listened to him as he rambled on and on about my “problems” and only trying to “help”? And then not to even mention the fact he thought I was snubbing him because of his house, how ridiculous! I simply to do not have time to get romantically involved with someone like him, or anyone for that matter. First of all, I’m not ready. Second of all, it is against all of the rules I swore to obey when I was dubbed Headmistress. And third of all, I hardly know the bloke except for the fact that he looks positively fetching in black. It contrasts so nicely with his fair skin and handsome featu-
This is precisely why I mustn’t get involved, he occupies too much of my mind and renders me incompetent for work.
It took every ounce of my restraint not to reach for a Jane Austen novel from my shelf, but I managed to reach my fireplace and call for Ginny. When I flooed, Molly answered to my flame engulfed profile, and promised to send Ginny over as soon as she got out of the bath.
“Is everything all right dear? You seem a bit distressed.” Molly remarked.
“Oh no-no, everything is quite spiffing here, I just fancied some girl talk, you know.”
“Yes, I understand perfectly. I remembered what it was like to be twenty. Well Ginerva should be over in a moment or two. It was lovely talking to you Hermione. You must stop by for some tea sometime.”
“I promise I will, Molly. Goodbye.”
When I withdrew my head from the flaming ash, I choked a tad on smoky cinders. I had just picked out a splinter from my hair when Ginny stumbled out of the fireplace.
“Mione! I’m so glad you called, I’ve been dying to speak with you but I was afraid to disturb you at work. I was so excited when mum told me you had appeared in the fire, I hopped out of the bath and into some clothes like a rocket!” She grabbed me and pulled me into a tight hug. I hugged her back and we moved to the lounge.
“Merlin you look bloody fantastic! Whatever you’re doing new you must let me in on your secret, I’m spitting with jealousy. And I’ve never seen your hair this light before! A few more shades and you will be dangerously close to blond, mate. It suits you though, as long as you never go as blond as that Malfoy ferret-”
“Oh my goodness, you are never going to believe what I heard yesterday! So the girl from accounting comes in Monday morning with a completely scandalous hang over and love bites all over her neck that are horribly covered up with makeup that did not match her skin tone at ALL and she goes to get some tea, and immediately the whole office is dying to know who she has been shagging. So Martha the new intern eavesdrops on her conversation with the boss at the water cooler, and it turns out that it was him! The boss was the one she was knocking boots with! And in the office none the less! I knew it too, I knew there was a strange sound coming from the supply closet.”
“Can you believe that? It is absolutely naughty!” Ginny said giddily. Actually, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to get a single word in until she was done spilling all of her colleague’s dirty secrets. Admittedly, her little gossip reels had shaken me up quite a lot, and I wondered if telling her was going to be such a good idea after all.
“Oh Hermione, I should have taken a muggle job much sooner, the drama is so much juicier than in the magical world.”
“But Ginny, how do you get through the day without feeling devastated about all that we lost? How can you not want to cry all the time?”
Her smile fell instantly.
“Mione,” she sighed. “We’ve been over this a million times. I did cry. I cried a lot. We cried together, remember? I loved them, all of them, with all of my heart, but there comes a time when we need to move on. I’ve moved on Hermione. I will never forget them or stop loving them, but can you imagine all the wallops I would get from my brothers and Harry and my father if I walked around in a teary daze for the rest of my life? I want love, I want a family again, a big one, and I want happiness.”
“That’s actually kind of why I called you here.” She looked at me expectantly as I wrung my hands in my lap. “You see, the Ministry hired all the professors for me, I didn’t get to choose.” I had struggled to find the right words. “Urg, I don’t know how to put this. Just hold on a second.” I stood up and went to the shelf where I keep all of my pensives, and took down the most recent one that held my memories from when I first saw Draco on the day of staff arrival up to last night when I slammed the door in his face. I placed it in front of her, and nodded for her to look in.
“Go on Gin, you need to see it to understand.” She nodded nervously but complied.
I paced my office anxiously as she sifted through my most recent memories, biting my nails and praying to the Gods above that when she came out she wouldn’t attack me with that trademark Weasley temper of hers.
It always surprises me how quickly someone can scan through your memories. I mean, a recorded conversation that took me three hours could be watched by someone through a pensive in about thirty minutes. For an hour I uneasily stormed my office for something to do as Ginny watched the last seven months of my life. I glanced at my clock, and figured that she should have been entering the lake scene right about now. My head snapped around at the sound of a frightened gasp.
“Hermione!” Ginny was looking at me with pure shock and confusion written all over her face. She had been so surprised at the snog that she had wrenched herself out of the pensive before it was finished.
“No Gin, go back in. There’s more.”
“Hermione I don’t want to g-”
“You need to understand, go back.” She nodded meekly and plunged her head back in. Five minutes later, all of the memories had been seen, and Ginny was slumped deeply into the lounge pillows, looking exhausted. There was a strange silence between us while she recuperated.
“Well,” Ginny began. “That was…” She paused to rest her head in her hands. “Merlin Hermione what do you want me to say? I have never had anything like this happen before, and I don’t know what to do, or how to make you feel better, since you are obviously distraught.”
“Now you know me, normally I would thrust you at any available bloke that showed interest because I think it would do you some good to be involved with someone for a while, but this… this is Malfoy we are talking about. I know he has grown up, I mean, I did see everything, but still it is all very complicated. Regardless of what you decide, I think you should apologize to him-”
“Don’t ‘but Ginny’ me. I don’t care who it is, that was still rude to tell him to go screw himself after he was only trying to talk some sense into you.”
“Gin, what do you think-” I was hesitant to bring it up again since it seemed like she didn’t want to talk about it, but my biting curiosity won over. “What do you think Harry and Ron would have thought about all of this?” She sighed heavily and massaged her temples fretfully.
“They would want you to be happy Hermione. It wouldn’t have mattered who you were with as long as you were happy. That is all they ever wanted for you in the first place. Even Ron would have learned to look past the fact it was Malfoy if you were truly and undeniably happy.” She stood up from the couch and walked back over to the fireplace.
“Look Mione, I love you, you know that, but all of this talk is depressing me, and I think I should be getting home soon. Besides, I have work in the morning, and if I have to oblivate my boss’s memory of me being late one more time then people are going to start getting suspicious. If you want my honest opinion, then I would say go to him, and listen. Don’t talk to him, just listen to what he has to say. If he wants you, then give it a try, if not, then don’t. And don’t let the Headmistress/Professor thing influence your decision. It can easily be hidden.”
“And if we get together and things don’t work out?”
“Fire him.” She said with a wink. I choked and moved to question her statement but she has already climbed into the fireplace and was gone in a whirlwind of green flames before I got a chance.
Well if I’m going to do this, I better do it right.
I figured that it would most likely be better to talk to him while all of this was still fresh in my mind, and before I lost my nerve. It was just after lunch time, and I imagined that he would either be in his office making lesson plans or in his bedchamber. I went to the office first, but to no avail, as the room was empty and held no signs that he had even been there at all that day. I moved on to his living quarters, and although being Headmistress gave me the right to pass through any portrait hole I pleased, day or night, I knocked out of courtesy. There was the sound of muffled footsteps on the other side, and then the portrait creaked open a tad as Draco peered out at me from around the door. He looked surprised.
“Can I help you?”
“May I come in?” I asked tentatively. His facial expression became very exasperated, and his tone of voice turned disturbingly cynical.
“Sure, as long as you don’t mind all the Slytherin paraphernalia. And watch out for the snakes, they like to bite.”
The only snake I’m worried about is you.
“I wanted to talk.” I said softly. He laughed mockingly.
“Oh I’m sorry, I’m not sure if I have time to talk to you, you see, right now I am a bit busy screwing myself.” He retorted sharply. I hung my head.
“I suppose I deserved that.” He scoffed again. “Look Draco, if you want me to leave, I’ll leave, but I wanted to apologize to you for my behavior the other night. I should have been more open-minded, but for various reasons, I wasn’t. Unfortunately it resulted in your feelings getting hurt, and for that I am very sorry.” We both remained quiet for a moment while I chose my words carefully and he took them in. “I realize now that you really were trying to help, and to be truthful, I think you have helped me more in these past short months than anyone else has in the last year.” His gaze was fixated on something outside of his window, and figuring he needed some space, I turned to leave.
“I still want to be with you, if you will let me. You have an incredible magnetism that draws me to you. It’s all very alluring. You aren’t the same girl you were in school.”
I shook my head, smiling faintly.
“No, I still am that little girl. It’s you that has changed, Draco.” He looked at me, waiting patiently for me to continue. “You’re not a murderer, you are actually capable of being respectful and charming, you are much more intelligent than most people give you credit for, and although I didn’t believe it possible before, you possess a very human quality of wanting to help people. You have most definitely changed.”
“So does this mean that you like me?”
I felt myself blush deeply.
“Well, I suppose. I mean, I like you, but I don’t know if I like you like you…”
“Hermione, we aren’t first formers anymore, you can use grown up words.” I scowled up at him.
“Yes, I like you, but I’m not sure if I’m attracted to you.” He stood still at the window across the room, watching me smugly.
“I have something to show you.” He slowly walked towards me, unbuttoning his shirt seductively as he went. I gulped loudly out of nerves as my face became hot and started to perspire. I took an uneasy step backwards as the shirt was discarded on the floor, and Draco continued to move in my direction. When he reached me, he grabbed one of my limp hands and placed it on his shoulder, then began guiding it smoothly and unhurriedly down his biceps, his elbow, and finally he let it rest on his forearm. His hand still clasped over mine, moving it softly from his wrist to his elbow repeatedly.
“Feel that?” He asked in a breathy whisper. I shook my head no, and he smirked.
“Exactly. It’s gone.” I moved my eyes from his face down to where my hand had begun subconsciously stroking his arm on its own. I felt nothing, I saw nothing. And then it hit me.
“It’s gone.” I whispered, purposefully trailing my fingers over where the Dark Mark once laid sickeningly imprinted in his skin.
“Seven months ago, you said that once you could no longer see it, you would believe everything I said. Believe me now when I say that I only want to be with you.”
I swallowed hard again, trying to absorb and process what he was saying.
“So, I just have to wonder,” I paused to choose my words carefully. “Was it entirely necessary to take off your shirt to show me your forearm?” A smile broke across his face and he suppressed a laugh.
“Yes, I thought it would add to the general effect. But since you’re looking a bit flustered, I’ll humor you.” He picked up the shirt and gracefully slipped it on. He started buttoning the top buttons, and I started at the bottom. Our hands brushed as we reached for the same middle closure.
“I’ve got it.” I said gently, glancing up to meet his eyes for a millisecond. I slipped the small button through the hole and stepped back.
“It was nothing.” It seemed that our voices had dropped unintentionally to a soft murmur, despite the fact we were all alone in his room with the door and windows shut securely. If someone told you I wasn’t at least slightly aroused by what had just happened, then somebody was lying. No matter how much I tried to think of the starving muggles in Africa, and the unfair treatment of house elves, I couldn’t extinguish the fire that had been ignited deep in my body’s core.
“So where does this leave us?” I asked, gazing directly into the piercing blue eyes before me. The already marginal gap between us closed when he advanced on me and had me in his arms pressed tightly against his form, our bodies fitting together like a completed puzzle. His hot breath traveled over my cheeks, causing my heart to jump and beat wildly.
“It leaves us right here.” He muttered. I licked my dry lips nervously as his hand traced up my shoulder to the crook of my neck. I allowed myself to be pulled into a steamy, seductive kiss.
His hot tongue blindly explored every inch of my mouth with reckless ambition, and I was only eager to comply. My hands found his waist and tried to bring him closer in shameless urgency. I dumbly began to move backwards, still utterly engulfed in Draco’s kiss, until I ran into something solid I could lean against. His hand tangled in my hair, the other sensually stroking my thigh that had somehow managed to wrap its way around his middle, his lips and tongue working miracles on my mouth, and his groin that beginning to move against mine to heighten the sexual tension was all too much for me to handle.
I turned my head to break the kiss, gasping for air. I unwound my leg from his waist and tried to stand steady on my two feet. My head was dizzy with lust, and I couldn’t see clearly. I moved to take a step forward only to find that my knees had given out, and Draco had to help me keep my balance. I looked up to see his damp face, tinged pink from all the activity, smirking at me.
“Alright there Granger?” He said, panting slightly.
“No thanks to you, Malfoy.” He chuckled lightheartedly and brought me to him again so my head was buried in his neck.
“Have dinner with me tomorrow.”
“Okay.” I lifted my head back and looked him square in the eye and smiled.
“Okay.” He smiled back.
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