A/N: Gah! I know its been a month since there was an update, and I'm very sorry, but you can't blame me entirely because the submissions were down for a long time, and then I was busy, and then I was just too tired... and anyways, its here now so enjoy it. This one is a bit shorter than the norm, but chapter nine is the usual 3,000 words so dont fret. One little note of self promotion - I have been nominated for an award in round four of the Dramione awards, and it would be splendid if you could vote (not necessarily for me, let the best author win) but if you don't want to that's ok, I was just letting everybody know. For information on voting rules, how to vote, and stuff like that, you can visit the offical Dramione website at http://www.dramione.tornpages.net/index.html
“Nine years old, my first real broom ride, and I slipped right off the back, fell thirty feet, got a broken arm, dislocated shoulder, and a moderate concussion.” Draco took a bite of his potatoes while he waited for me to finish chewing my green beans so I could take my turn. I thought back through all of my childhood mishaps as I wiped my mouth with my napkin.
“Four years old, my mum was making griddlecakes, her back was turned to check the bacon, and I slammed both hands, palms down, on the sizzling griddle. Second degree burns, and nearly a month in bandages.”
“Ouch.” He gave a small laugh as he raised his glass to me before taking a drink.
Somehow during the course of our meal in Hogsmeade, our conversation had turned to the parts of our childhood we were not so fond of. It seemed easier for him, since as a child my parents rarely let me out of their sight and were always giving me praise.
“Eleven years old, right before I started Hogwarts, father took me to pick out an owl of some sort, and I saw this horrifically ugly bird, and started insulting it, not thinking it could get out of its cage. Well, the cage wasn’t locked, and before I knew it he was clamped on my hand, scratching and biting like no tomorrow. Three stitches and a perpetual fear of large, ugly birds.”
“Well that shines a bit of light on third year…”
“Yes, it should.” There was a slight pause in conversation as we both enjoyed our food, and then I picked up were we had left off.
“Seven years old, standing on the highest diving platform at the swimming pool looking down at the deep end below, when a boy my age comes up behind me and gives me a mighty push, sending me over the edge. I sprained my neck and nearly drowned from all the chlorinated water I sucked in.”
“Okay, so now on a happier note, what was your fondest childhood memory?” Draco changed the subject. I cocked my head and squinted my eyes in thought, as if it would help me see into my past more clearly.
“Our first year, when I found myself trapped in the girl’s loo with a mountain troll and Harry and Ron came to my rescue. They put their lives on the line for me, and for the first time I knew I had found true friends. For a little girl who was constantly made fun of and had never had any friends before, that was huge. From then on I knew I would always be safe if I was with them, and nothing bad would ever happen to me.”
The look on Draco’s face was so full of guilt that it looked as if he had just been punched in the gut.
“And now?” He asked.
“Now I’m not a little girl anymore, but I was right all those years ago, because they did always put their lives on the line for me, without a second thought. And I suppose some of their courage rubbed off after so long, because I don’t feel like I need someone to go with me on my dangerous endeavors now.”
He flashed a smirk my way and raised an eyebrow.
“And just what dangerous endeavors are you thrusting yourself into these days, Miss Granger?”
“Oh well Mister Malfoy, dating an ex death eater sounds quite dodgy to me, wouldn’t you say?” I grinned at him from behind the rim of my glass before I swallowed the last of my cocktail.
“Care for another?” He pointed to my now empty drink. I shook my head.
“Better not, I think we both remember all too well what happens when I get intoxicated.”
“True.” He agreed.
“But you,” I pointed lazily at him. “Still haven’t answered your own question. Best childhood memory, out with it Buster.” He sighed and smiled slightly.
“When I learned to fly. Being able to literally fly away when things got too much to handle was the best thing I could have asked for.”
“The best thing?” I asked. He shrugged.
“Well when you already own everything else, yes.”
“Oh excuse me rich boy, not all of us had that luxury.” I joked, flicking a small piece of lettuce in his direction. It landed limply on his right shoulder. He looked at it for a moment, then chuckled and picked it off.
“If we weren’t in the center of the nicest restaurant in Hogsmeade, I wouldn’t hesitate to start a food fight with you right now, Granger.”
He was right. The bloke sure had taste, I gave him that much. I’ll admit, when he had asked me to have dinner with him, my mind had immediately jumped to an image of us sitting at the bar in the Leaky Cauldron sipping fire whiskey and munching on appetizers. I was originally in slacks and a blouse, but as soon as I saw how smartly he was dressed I made him wait outside my door as I jumped into a little black dress and heels and magically fixed my hair. Thank Merlin I did too, all the wizards here looked like something straight from a posh fashion magazine.
“I doubt it Malfoy, you might mess up that perfect hair of yours.” He smiled as he ran a hand through his flawless tresses.
“It is perfect, isn’t it?”
I grinned to myself.
“I swear Draco, I don’t think I have ever met a man so up tight about his hair as you are.”
“I’m not ‘up tight’ as you put it, I’m just neat.”
“You’re not neat, you’re anal.”
“I’m organized.” He said defensively.
“Whatever makes you feel less feminine…”
“Hey now, I am all male. I haven’t a drop of femininity in me, I’m as manly as you can get!”
I swallowed a laugh and tried to hide my smile that was growing broader by the moment.
“Alright Mr. Burly Man, did you go to a spa to get your nails done or did you do it yourself?” I threw a look down at his perfectly moisturized and manicured hands before looking him in the eye with a sly grin brazenly plastered on my face. He lifted his chin, nose pointed in the air, and replied in the tone that can only be described as ‘Malfoy-esk’.
“My nails are naturally clean and rounded, thank-you-very-much, and you’re just jealous that you can’t have hands like these.”
I let out the girlish giggle that I had been trying to suppress and let my head roll back in gaiety.
“You’re large hands would look most ridiculous on my small wrist, don’t you think? I highly doubt that it is jealousy that plagues me.”
“Well let’s just see, shall we?” He reached across the table and aligned his right hand with my left one, comparing them in size. I grinned at the unsurprising difference, and my grin turned into a timid smile when I felt him close his hand around mine and place a chaste kiss on my fingertips. My head instinctively dipped down out of a sort of shyness that I had never been able to purge myself of, and my face radiated an intense heat as I blushed deeply. Recovering from my girlish moment, I stood up, with his hand still clasped in my own. I placed myself in front of him, tugging slightly on his hand that I held.
“Do you dance, Malfoy?” I asked. He chuckled.
“Not in the least bit.”
“Marvelous, neither do I. Come on.” I pulled him along with me to the section of the classy restaurant reserved for dancing. There was nobody dancing when we first arrived on the floor, but we were soon joined by a frail looking elderly couple. I felt my insides take a turn when Draco placed a hand on my waist, and I had to calm myself before I could properly rest my hand on his shoulder without him feeling it shake. Throughout the relaxed conversation of the dinner, I had forgotten what an affect being in close proximity to him had on me.
He gracefully navigated me around the dance floor to the melodious music, effortlessly avoiding the other couples that had joined so as not to cause to cause an accident.
“I thought you said you couldn’t dance.”
“I didn’t say I couldn’t dance, I said I didn’t dance.”
“And why doesn’t someone with your obvious ability charm us all with your suave moves more often?”
“Because I absolutely despise dancing.” He replied lightheartedly.
“Ah, but you’re dancing with me.” I pointed out.
“Yes, yes I am.”
A wave of delight coursed through me and I smirked into his shoulder as he brought me closer with a gentle press on the back.
“Does that mean you like me, Mr. Malfoy?”
“Well Miss Granger, I would have to say that it does.” The song that we had been swaying to for the last five minutes came to a slow end, and we parted.
“Dessert?” He asked as he led me back to our table.
“I must thank you for the wonderful evening, Draco. It was… fun.” We stood awkwardly at the door to my office, and I was determined not to let myself get carried away like I had in the dungeons the previous day.
“The pleasure was all mine.”
“Ahem, well thank you for walking me to my room, it was very kind of you.”
“It was no problem.” He moved closer.
“I – I hope you, um… I hope you – ”
“I hope you find your way back to the dungeons without, um, without any problems.”
“I will.” Closer still, until I could feel his warm breath on my cheek.
“The – the lighting at this hour… quite terrible…”
“I know.” His voice was a mere whisper now, and I had to strain my ears to hear him.
“Okay.” I said murmured. In a matter of seconds his lips were on mine, taking my breath away and what was left of my self control. He moved to part my lips with his own, but made no move to incorporate his tongue. It was soft, and sweet, yet dripping with carnal intent. It made my heart pound frantically, and my knees knock together unsteadily. I wanted to invite him in, oh Gods I wanted to invite him in…
But he pulled back, and my head cleared.
I had never felt so resentful towards my reasonable side.
“It’s late, I should probably…” I gestured to my door.
“Yeah, I mean, of course. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
I nodded and slipped past my door, leaving it open a crack as I watched him disappear around the corner and down the stairs. That night I fell asleep with the goofiest grin on my face that refused to leave for the remainder of the week.
“Good afternoon Molly, Ginny.” I said in a singsong voice as I dropped my purse onto the table at the burrow and plopped merrily into a chair next to Ginny. I had just flooed in for tea and a chat with a pair of my favorite people.
“Something’s different with you, Hermione.” Ginny immediately pointed out.
“Yes, you do have a bit of a jolly aura around you dear.” Molly commented. “Has work been well for you?”
“Oh yes,” I smirked. “It’s been great.”
“You got a new haircut.” Ginny proposed.
“Went on a shopping spree?”
“Not hardly.” I giggled. Ginny gasped and pointed an accusatory finger at me.
“You’ve been fucked!”
“Ginerva Weasley! If I so much as hear that derogatory word come out of your mouth ever again then so help me Merlin I will –” Molly chastised.
“You did, didn’t you! I can see it! You’re glowing, Hermione. It’s obvious that you’ve been thoroughly shagged.” She continued, ignorant to her mother’s threat.
“NO! I positively have not been… intimate with anyone! I’m in a good mood is all! My word, Gin, you didn’t have to get so worked up about me embracing the day.” I took a sip of the tea Molly had set in front of me. “But since you brought it up, I have had a date with someone rather intriguing.”
Ginny bounced in her seat giddily, hands clasped together in excitement.
“Oh I knew it! I knew something was going on with you and Malfoy! He forgave you, I take it?”
“Malfoy? As in Draco Malfoy? Why on Earth would you be dating him? And what in the name of magic could you have possibly done to make him need to forgive you? He is nothing but trouble, I tell you. I should write your father, Hermione; this could be the start of something suspicious.” Molly ranted.
“No, mum, you don’t understand. Hermione and Malfoy and on good terms with each other now. Or great terms, from what it sounds like.”
“Really Molly, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. He is actually quite charming and – ”
“He just wants to charm the pants right off of your little bum, dear. Don’t fall for anything that retched snake says. He’s slime, just like the rest of them. Out for that Headmaster position, he is.”
“Please, don’t be ridiculous. Draco would never do something like that. He has a good heart.”
“You want to know who had a good heart? My Arthur had the heart of an angel. My Arthur…”
“Mum, please don’t do this now, not in front of Hermione.” Ginny whispered to her mother, patting her gently on the hand.
“Please excuse me Hermione, I’m sorry to be like this.” Molly shuffled out of the room so that only Ginny and I remained.
“She’s been like that a lot lately, all weepy and mopey. It’s a bit strange, since she’s always been so strong. Don’t know what it could be.” Ginny said in a hushed tone, in case Molly was just around the corner.
“People can’t stay strong forever, Gin. Everyone needs to let it out eventually, and maybe your parent’s anniversary is coming up or something.”
“Yeah, maybe. I just recon it’s hard for her to see everyone in a new relationship, with her still missing dad and all.”
“Perhaps… I feel terrible for ruining our tea time.”
“Oh please, Mione, you did no such thing. I think she’s menopausal you know. The slightest thing can set her off. What I want to hear about is how your date went.” Ginny pressed. I was unable to stop myself from grinning like a fool.
“Well he took me to that restaurant that is positively impossible to get into without reservations at least a month in advance, The Shadow Nook.” Ginny gasped, obviously impressed. “And he was a total gentleman all throughout dinner, he even danced with me even though he despises it.”
“How very charming of him. And that smirk of his?”
“Oh, it was there, but you know, I think I’ve grown accustom to it.”
“And how does it feel to be dating one of your employees?” Seeing as it had been Ginny I was talking to, I decided to confide in her about how I was feeling about the affair, since she already knew anyways.
“It’s exhilarating. I think this is the first time I have done something that is against the rules that wasn’t done to save the world. It’s greedy, and naughty, and wrong, and forbidden and I should be ashamed of my actions.”
“But I’m not. And as nervy as that man makes me, I can’t wait to see him again.”
“Not bad, for a Malfoy.”
“Yes,” I sighed pensively. “Not bad at all.”
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