Over the river and through the woods, that’s the way to grandmother’s house. Unfortunately that was not where poor Hermione was headed as she crept deeper into the forest. The tress grew so close Hermione had to follow Draco single file. He pushed back a group of branches and stood out of the way.
“You first.” It was said as an order, but they both knew it wasn’t such. Hermione, upset that Harry had made her wear heels and that Draco has said dress nice for the woods, walked through the opening. Expecting to see more trees, she was surprised to see a clearing.
Peaceful. That’s what it was. A waterfall from an outlying rock cliff, flowing into a pond that seeped into the ground. Then the patchwork quilt of white and red. The whisker picnic basket. Far to peaceful to be for her or from Draco. Her surprise and delight filled up with in her.
“Wow…” she whispered.
“Surprised? I was hoping for that,” the sarcasm in his voice was back, as was the sneer. Somehow it made Hermione comfortable. She strode over and knelt down on the quilt. Draco coolly strode over and sat on the other side of the picnic basket with his legs stretched out.
Silence ensued. Moments where only birds chirped and only leaves moved. Moments of pure insecurity and fear. Then Hermione closed her eyes.
“How does it work?” she whispered. Draco looked over at her slightly confused.
“How does what work?” He sounded almost annoyed.
“Arranged marriages.” Draco closed his eyes. He took a deep breath; as if that was the last thing he wanted to talk about.
“Depends on what the couple wants.” Hermione opened her eyes and watched Draco without him knowing. “Some couples don’t even meet until the wedding day. Others fall in love and have a normal wedding. My parents,” He smiled as genuine smile as he thought of it, “had something in between. My father hated the idea. So he refused to see my mother expect for at school. When she turned 19 their parents met and set a date.” His checks twitched in odd silent laughter. “They were married but it wasn’t for a few years until they realized they were in love.” Hermione closed her eyes again surprised at the insight a few words and facial expressions gave her.
“Do they all fall in love?” her voice shook. Draco opened his eyes.
“No.” He admitted with a sigh. “Most don’t.”
Silence returned. After a few moments, Hermione opened her eyes again. Draco pulled out sandwiches and juice. As Hermione unwrapped her sandwich she let out a laugh.
“I hope you like the exclusive cuisine.” Draco said in the tactful and cool voice. Hermione smiled and took a bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Hermione ate in silence, until she realized Draco was staring at her and hadn’t taken a single bite of his own sandwich. Dread filled her veins. What if it was poisoned? Oh god, I’m such an idiot.
“W-what’s wrong?” she stuttered out. He shook his head as if waking up from a trance.
“I’ve never heard you laugh.” Hermione was surprised. It was a human statement. Draco, just like Voldemort, was seeming more human, more real and better than what she had.
“Yeah, I guess it’s hard to laugh around someone….” She cut herself off and looked away. Draco moved closer to her.
“Someone who?” He asked softly, inviting her to trust him.
“Someone you believed to be an enemy.”
“I’m not an enemy anymore. Have I made that much of an impression on you.” It was haunting. Everything about him was. Time had simply stopped. Everything had melted away; all that existed was Draco and herself and this peaceful valley. She laughed. She couldn’t help it.
Draco was next to her now the food forgotten on the quilt. Hermione looked at him still laughing. He smiled that rare genuine smile that made him normal, good, lovable.
“I love your laugh.” Hermione went red. She stopped laughing but still smiled. Draco moved his head inches from hers again. She could feel his heart beating faster than hers and her own sped up to match. He placed one of his icy cold hands on the side of her face. He drew closer and closer. Her stomach fluttered he could feel his breath on every part of her face. Then, only by her mouth. She was breathing the air he breathed out. She didn’t know what happened until it had started. It was kiss. Their lips had locked. Skin against skin and heart against heart. Souls were mixing with souls. The snake was wrapping its thick body around the rabbit waiting for the chance to strike. The poor rabbit thought it was a friendly hug. It was a kiss.
A kiss. However, not just any kiss, a first kiss shared by two who knew nothing of fate or what they were doing. A kiss that had indeed been shared by couples in their position many years ago. One that would be shared by many in the future.
It was something Hermione didn’t expect. For a moment her mind wasn’t in her body, instead it was floating far away. She couldn’t explain it. She hated the person kissing her, yet she didn’t hate that she was kissing him. Was this what love felt like? Was it possible for her to have fallen in love with Draco?
Then in one swift motion she realized what was going on. Draco Malfoy was kissing her. She rose her hand from the ground and as she pulled away she slapped him good and hard.
“What the bloody hell!” She shouted standing up faster than Draco could realize what had happened. Draco placed a hand on his burning check and stood up as well. He didn’t say a word just simply sneered at her.
“You tricked me.” She shouted. Birds took flight and cawed with fight.
“Look.” Draco pointed upward at the birds. “Even the birds know when to avoid someone.” The screech that came from Hermione didn’t even remotely sound human. Hermione stormed toward the edge of the clearing faster than her mind could think. A hand caught around her wrist. The great snake biting the rabbit.
“I wouldn’t run off into the forest, little girl, you might not find your way out.” Hermione spun around her breath ragged. She was really angry. Honorable intentions! HA! She went to slap him again but his other hand caught her wrist in one smooth motion. “We have about two year until you turn 19. I promise you that if you still hate me by that date, I won’t make you marry me.” Hermione glared at him.
“Very well,” Hermione said sharply. “Now can I go home?”
“Of course.” Draco let go of only one wrist and led her back by the other. Through the woods and over the river is thankfully the way back home.
Back at the corner Hermione struggle to break free of Draco’s grip. He only grabbed her other wrist. Defeated she held still and closed her eyes. His head buried itself in her hair.
“You’ll see things my way one day, Virginia, I promise you that. I’ll see you next week.” His words sunk through her and made her shiver again. Then he was gone. She was alone on the cold desolate street.
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