Chapter 9 : A stupendous idea
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In my wardrobe I had four sets of dress robes, two evening gowns, two cocktail dresses, various articles of mix and match-able casual clothing for weekends and trips home to the muggle world, three pairs of pajamas, two of which I would be absolutely humiliated to be seen in, as well as a drawer full of sensible knickers. I had one pair of slippers, one pair of sandals, two pairs of high heels, one pair of trainers, and two pairs of practical walking shoes that were both comfortable and somewhat fashionable.
My problem was that Draco had already seen me in almost everything I owned, (aside from the hideous jimjams I got from goodness knows where) and it had gotten to the point where I feared where he might take me next, since I was alternating wearing the two dresses I had and he was bound to notice soon. It was also not helping the situation that I had Ginny buzzing about constantly reminding me of all these silly rules, such as:
“The man should never see you in the same outfit twice for the first month of courtship, or else he will lose interest faster.”
It wasn’t as if I couldn’t afford it, the new job was paying me almost three times what I was making at the Ministry, and that was already a considerable amount. I had a good eye for fashion as well, so it wasn’t as if I was a walking, talking, basket case, I simply did not like shopping. Yet there I was, stuck with only one way out of my predicament.
I was to grab Ginny and a bag of galleons, and shop till I dropped.
I just prayed that I wouldn’t drop before I could purchase some attractive jimjams.
On the second Friday of August, Ginny took the day off and arranged to meet me in the center of Diagon Alley for our day of reckless shopping. Armed with as much money as I dared to spend in one day, I spotted the redhead sitting on a bench in front of Mademoiselle Sylvain’s Lingerie.
“Hi Mione, you ready?” Ginny quipped, her perky and energetic personality shining through with more vivacity than usual.
“Had a few cups of coffee, have you?” I supposed.
“Only a few, I mean when you use those big mugs like the ones they use in America, you can down the pot in about three cups.”
“You had an entire pot of coffee by yourself before coming here this morning?” I asked incredulously.
“Well, yeah. I’ve got to be plenty awake while you’re trying on half the store, don’t I?” She smiled brightly at me before latching onto my arm and dragging me into the fancy panty store. “I thought we would start at the bottom with some new panties and work up to new cocktail dresses and super sexy shoes.”
“What was that Hermione, I didn’t quite catch that?”
“Oh, I said, sounds great.”
“Wonderful! I thought you’d be excited. Oooh look! This pair hugs and lifts!”
“Wonderful.” I said cynically.
“Ginny!” *wheeze* “Please, I need –” *wheeze* “- to sit down for a minute!” I ripped my hand away from her powerful grip and collapsed on a nearby bench, panting heavily.
“Come on Hermione! We need to get to that cute handbag boutique before it closes and it’s clear across Diagon Alley!” She proclaimed, tugging on my hand to get me moving again.
“Gin, that boutique doesn’t close for another two hours.”
“Exactly, do you want to have enough time to find what you need or not?” I gave her my best you-cannot-be-serious look, but she paid no heed.
“Technically, I don’t even really need that new handbag, the one I have is just fine.” I pointed out smartly.
“Yes, Hermione, your handbag isn’t outdated and your ratty jimjams are positively ravishing.” She remarked with a roll of her eyes. I crossed my arms and leant against the backrest in a huff.
“Fine, but I’m not going anywhere until I’ve had a sit down and a good lunch.”
“Fine! Let’s go get your bleeding lunch then!” Ginny stubbornly relented with a mighty stomp of her foot.
“Fine.” We made our way to a café with outdoor seating, and while Ginny paid for our sandwiches at the till, I found us a table sheltered from the bright sunlight by a vibrant orange umbrella. I removed my cardigan and placed in on the back of the patio chair before settling in to wait for Ginny. A waiter brought out two glasses of ice water, and I smiled politely at him before he was beckoned away rudely by a stout man and his scantily clad accomplice at the table across the courtyard. Ginny sat down on the opposite side of the table from me and upturned her nose in disgust.
“That one is rather corpulent, isn’t he?” She said, nodding in the direction of the large ill-mannered bloke.
“Yes, quite. A bit brutish it would seem.” I made a gagging notion as the man slid his hand ostentatiously up his lunch date’s wiry, pale thigh.
“Do you ever wonder how women like her can tolerate a man like that?”
“Its grotesque what some people will do for money.” I remarked, unable to stop the twitch of repulsion in my cheek that pulled the corners of my mouth into a scowl. Ginny swallowed her large bite of food and brushed her napkin across her lips.
“Do you ever wonder what happened to that Pansy Parkinson? I always thought she would be hanging off Malfoy’s arm with a huge rock on her finger by now.”
“Didn’t she…” I couldn’t bring myself to use the term pass away, that was what you say when your 150 year old grandmother dies peacefully in her sleep of old age. And I couldn’t say murder because that was much too heavy for lunchtime gossip. “… Didn’t she fall in the war?”
Eh, close enough.
“No, she left with the rest of the students on the train earlier that day. Didn’t you hear? She never graduated, didn’t pass Transfiguration and Charms.”
We were silent for awhile, as each of us ate our lunches with fervor. I was consuming my food so quickly because of my ravenous hunger, but I had a feeling that Ginny was wolfing hers down out of eagerness to get to that blasted handbag boutique.
“You don’t suppose she’s still around, do you?” Ginny asked.
“No, she must be long gone. Her family moved to Greece, and I can only assume that she moved with them, especially if she isn’t married. Girls like her don’t dare leave their parents until they’ve been given away.”
“How do you know they moved?”
“I worked for the Ministry, Gin. How else do you think I would know these things?”
“Well bugger if I know, you’ve got so much information and so many useless facts stored up in that big ‘ol head of yours that I’ve got no clue where it all comes from.”
“I meant that in a good way.”
“I know.” I drained the last of my water and dried my lips on the napkin. “Shall we be off then?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Ginny quickly abandoned the remainder of her food and snatched up her jumper. “Let’s go.”
“Gin, there is no way I need seven.”
“Yes you do.”
“You’re forgetting that I already own two.”
“And you’re forgetting that you have owned them for almost as long as you’ve had Crookshanks.”
“Don’t you bring Crooks into this, and he’s only…” Ginny raised her eyebrows. “… he’s only…” she tapped her foot impatiently on the marble floor of the dress shop. “… he’s not that old!”
“Hermione – ”
“Well he wasn’t exactly a kitten when I got him.” I tried to defend myself, or rather, my aged black dresses.
“I’m just saying, it’s nice to have options.”
“Yes, and if I let you talk me into purchasing everything you have in your hand there, I will have a choice between emerald green, ruby red, brushed silver, cerulean blue, peach, royal violet, and chocolate brown.”
“See? Aren’t choices lovely? And you really should take advantage of your versatile skin tone more often.”
I glared at her, hoping it would awaken some reason inside her.
“Oh just think of it this way Mione, if you buy them all now then you won’t have to buy more for a very long time.”
So perhaps she had a tiny point there. Each dress was cut differently in a flattering style, and the colors certainly did give me wide variety, however,
“Ginny, just look at those price tags.”
“I know, I know, but they will pay off in the long run. And just look how perfectly this one matches the clutch we just bought from the boutique!”
“I don’t know…”
“And you know that darling pink shawl that mum gave you for Christmas last year? It would go beautifully with the peach toned dress.”
“And those sexy red pumps that we bought earlier? You can’t find a better match than with this red one.”
“And you know how much Malfoy loves green – ”
“Oh Ginny just stop it. I’ll get them all if I can go home now.”
“Brilliant! You won’t be sorry Mione!” Ginny rushed off to the till, happily proclaiming to the check-out witch, “We’ll take them all!” I sighed as I withdrew my coin purse from my bag, already much lighter than what I had started with. I purposely ignored the witch when she told me what I owed, and I simply handed her the coins, not wanting to know the large sum I was carelessly spending on material items.
An hour later, as many shops began to draw their shutters and lock their doors, I said goodbye to Ginny and caught the floo back to my office, bogged down by the weight of the shopping bags.
I climbed up the spiral staircase wearily, and deposited the merchandise onto my bed. Grabbing a pin from my dresser, I twisted my hair up off my neck, pinned it back, and peeled off my cardigan. The room was hot and suffocating, more so than usual. It was hot, even for August. I cast a cooling charm on the room, sighing in delight as the refreshing air hit the damp bare skin of my back.
“Ahhhhh…” I flopped back on to the bed, letting my shoes slide off as I did so. Not a moment after I had started to relax, there was a pecking at my window. Forcing my head up, I saw a large tawny Hogwarts owl hovering before the glass, waiting for me to accept the letter he was carrying.
“I’m coming, I’m coming.” I told the insistent bird. Hauling myself back to my feet, and pushed up the window and invited him in. He stuck his leg out for me, and I gently untied the parchment. Without giving so much of a chance to say thank you, he soared right out the window from which he came, leaving me alone with the letter.
It was from Draco.
Any chance you would care to dine with me tonight? I know a great little place just south of you, I’m sure you would love it.
Missing you terribly,
I smiled at his words, ‘missing you terribly’, I had just seen him at breakfast that morning.
Turning the letter over, I scrawled “Of course, give me a when and where.” on the back, and threw the letter, along with a pinch of floo powder, into the fireplace that was linked to his office. I wasn’t much in the mood for an evening out after all the shopping I had done earlier, I was quite tired, but my desire to spend time with Draco was stronger than my desire for sleep.
I decided that I should probably bathe before I saw him, after a long day of running about, I was sure I didn’t look my best. The shower refreshed me to a degree, putting a little life back in my limbs, and clearing my head. I looked over the bags that covered all but a small section of my large bed with my hands on my hips. Tissue paper was spilling out from some, and lids from shoe boxes peeked out of others. In my earlier carelessness to rid myself of the bags and packages one of the bags containing stockings and knickers was completely overturned, with its contents decorating my pillows in a colorful and lacy manner. I sighed, it was bit overwhelming.
My fireplace glowed green, and seconds later parchment came spitting out. I caught it and brushed away some ash, then searched for the reply.
9:00, my room.
Glancing at the clock, the hands showed 8:56 leaving me only a moment to dress. I grabbed the dark green dress, the strappy silver heels I was swayed to buy despite their impracticality, a pair of my new “Ginny approved” panties, and the other undergarments that were required when wearing this dress, and changed as quickly as possible. My hair and makeup, which I usually do on my own, was done with a swish of my wand, and all I had left to do was dab on a bit of perfume behind my ears and wrists, and I was out the door, grabbing my cloak from the hook as I went.
Down, down, and down some more until I finally reached Draco’s apartments in the dungeon. The clacking of my shoes echoed off of the high stone walls, and with the corridor as dimly lit as it was, I couldn’t help but be a little apprehensive. The dungeons never ranked among my favorite places. I was reassured, however, when I saw Draco standing in front of his own doorway, dressed handsomely in some of his finest dress robes.
“Mademoiselle,” he gave a small bow and took my hand gently, kissing my fingers. “You look stunning this evening.” He didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was raking his eyes over my body, and didn’t express a shred of embarrassment when I caught him.
I couldn’t help but smile and give a mock curtsy back. “You look quite debonair yourself.”
“Thank you. Shall we?” he extended his arm for me to take.
“Of course. Where are we going tonight?”
“Just a little place I stumbled upon.” he turned to walk back inside of room.
“Did you forget something?” I asked.
“Merlin, I hope not. Welcome to tour du Malfoy.” The door was pushed open, and he ushered me inside.
I gasped. “Oh Draco,”
“This is magnificent.”
Candles magically hung in the air, illuminating his common room and giving it a soft glow, taking away the harshness of the usual atmosphere that barks Slytherin. A scrumptious looking meal for two was set up in the corner on silver dishes, and when I listened, I could hear soft music playing.
“I thought we could stay in tonight.” he placed his hands on my hips and whispered in my ear. I turned to face him with a knowing smile on my lips.
“I think that is a stupendous idea.” I said before capturing his lips with mine.