Chapter 5 : A Mean Cup of Coffee
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Draco rolled his eyes and put down the paper. She has her own ‘Hermione Granger Sightings’ now? He scoffed at the ‘known for both her beauty and her brains’ line. If she wasn’t part of the ‘legendary Trio’, no one would look twice at her.
“Isn’t that Miss Granger?”
Draco whirled around. Careen was standing there peering curiously at the paper.
“Oh. Uhh… yes it is actually.”
She looked at him. “But that’s your magical paper Daddy. Is Miss Granger a witch?”
Draco cringed. He didn’t really want to go into details about Hermione’s identity.
“Well… yes, she is.”
Careen looked interested. “Why is she in the paper? Is she famous?”
Draco rolled his eyes.
“Not really. A little bit. Kind of.”
Careen nodded, visibly impressed. “Wow.”
She focused her eyes on him and said, “She’s very pretty, isn’t she Daddy?”
Draco gaped at her. “I don’t… well, not really. I mean, I hadn’t noticed. Is she?”
He blushed, and then blushed again for blushing.
Careen nodded. “Yes. Yes she is. And she’s very nice too.”
Draco pulled at his collar nervously. “Uh… I don’t know about that. I don’t really know her.”
Careen stopped studying the paper. “Of course she is Daddy. She’s a lot nicer than you are, sometimes.”
She smiled again. and skipped happily from the table, leaving Draco to stare after her, mouth wide open like a gold fish.
Hermione sighed and put down her quill wearily. She picked up the parchment and stared blankly at the words scrawled across it. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to go through with this; she and Malfoy had never spoken quite so personally, and quite frankly, that was they way she wanted it to last. But she had made a promise, and she wasn’t going to go back on her word.
She stood up and held the paper warily, walking over to her barn owl, Clementine. Her fingers trembled slightly as she tried to attach the letter to Clementine’s leg.
The letter fluttered to the floor as her fingers gave way. Why was she so nervous? It was only Malfoy. She shook her head, trying to clear her mind, and tried to focus. Why was she suddenly so afraid of Malfoy?
Finally, the letter was tied firmly to Clementine’s leg, and the owl gave an impatient hoot as she soared through the open window, before Hermione could utter a word to stop her.
Hermione groaned. There. The letter was on its way.
She made her way over to the worn out sofa, and sunk into it. Was she scared of the rejection? But… it wasn’t as if she was asking him out on a date. But how could he know that?
“Argggh!” She let out a cry of frustration, before putting her head back into her hands. This wasn’t like her- muddled thoughts, anxious worrying, complete and utter nervousness- she was usually more composed than this. Why was Malfoy having such a strong, yet unexplainable effect on her?
She closed her eyes, but his face showed up behind her eyelids, as though it was permanently etched into her thoughts. No, it wasn’t as if she were attracted to him. But she had to feel something…
She shook her head again, vigorously, clearing her head. The tangle of emotions, the jumble of thoughts, surely this couldn’t be healthy for her. She closed her eyes, sinking into the depths of the sofa, and remained there.
Draco was standing at his marble counter in the kitchen, frowning. This was probably the time of day he hated the most. Dinner.
He was a guy. He wasn’t domesticated. It was hell for him, trying to feed his 5 year-old daughter. If it had just been him, it would have been as easy as pie, literally. He would just have whatever he fancied. But with a growing, developing daughter, who needed vitamins, nutrients, protein, that method didn’t exactly work. How had Rosalind done it? She had always managed to balance the fruits, the vegetables, the meat etc. And it had even tasted good.
He sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. Of course, he could get a house-elf. But Rosalind was against that. So was Hermione. He shook his head, removing Hermione from his thoughts.
Or perhaps a housekeeper? He had considered that. But then, he didn’t exactly want to let anyone in on his and Careen’s private life.
He had just about decided to heat up some leftovers for Careen when he spotted an owl tapping impatiently on the window. Furrowing his eyebrows, Draco walked over to it in utter confusion. Who on Earth would be contacting him? The Ministry? But no- he hadn’t done anything wrong. And old school friend? As if. There was no one else from the wizarding world he had talked to lately. In fact, there wasn’t anyone he’d talked to lately. Unless you counted…
He opened the window, and pulled the owl in frantically, ignoring its cries of protest. He ripped the letter off quickly, and for some unexplainable reason his heart jumped when he saw the initials. H.G
Why would she be writing to him? He tore it open and read it through. She wanted to meet him? Well, this was strange. He couldn’t imagine why. He stood staring at the letter, deep in thought. Would he go? No. Of course he wouldn’t. He didn’t want to talk to her. Or did he?
But it would be rude. He couldn’t just stand her up. So he would write her a note back, saying he couldn’t meet her.
He would go. He would meet her. He would see what she had to say. And then he would walk away.
Or would he?
That’s what he would do.
It amazed him how he didn’t really mind talking to her. He really had no objections. He was actually… (dare he admit it?) looking forward to it. What had changed?
“Anything for you, sugercake?”
Hermione shook her head frantically at the busty waitress. No. Nothing for her. No. She would not like a drink. No. She didn’t want anything at all. But yes. She was waiting for someone…
Would he dare stand her up? She hoped not. But it was just like him. Or was it? She frowned impatiently. She hated these stupid rhetorical questions and the way she kept second guessing herself. To tell the truth, it was getting seriously annoying. But if he wasn’t going to come, he would have let her know. Right?
She knew she was attracting quite a lot of the attention of the limited diners in the café. She was a young woman, modestly dressed, sitting alone. In this part of town too.
The café wasn’t exactly what you could call ‘fine dining’. It was run down, filthy, grimy and falling apart. It was situated in the most unpolished parts of the town, hidden away from view in the dark, narrow Hogsdon Alley. It seemed like such a transition from the large, upper-class, elegant estates and school a few blocks away. Yet, she had chosen it precisely for this reason. No self-respecting person would enter the place voluntarily. Therefore, she, or rather they, would not be seen.
She sighed and lowered her head onto her folded arms. She should order a coffee or something, but there was no way she was drinking anything from here. It reminded her of the Hog’s Head, but even more dilapidated and decaying. And the people here, leering, presumably drunk men, and sneering, glaring women with boob jobs. And the waitresses. She groaned softly, not wanting to think about them.
She heard the door open and snapped her head up, almost in desperation. It was 15 minutes after 7. She frowned slightly as a young, bleach blonde woman with the customary DD breasts wearing short Daisy Dukes and a blouse tied just under her ribcage strutted in. She groaned again, wondering what on Earth she was still doing here. She felt the eyes of the other diners on her as her head slipped back onto her arms.
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like anything?”
It was the stupid, slutty waitress again. She shook her head and the waitress’ eyes narrowed as she turned to walk away.
“I do want something. I want a lot of things. But I don’t want anything you can get me, thanks.”
The diner was now deathly quiet as the waitress turned slowly back to Hermione. To her surprise, the waitress was smiling.
“Not many people want what I can give them unless they have an abnormally high testosterone level.”
Hermione smiled back wryly, before standing up and walking across the grimy floor and gripping the rusty door handle. She opened it and started walking out when she heard the waitress calling out after her,
“I make a mean cup of coffee though!”
Hermione stepped out into the dark alleyway, chuckling bitterly to herself.
“Careen! Come on! Hurry up!”
Draco was in panic mode. They were so late. What if she thought they had stood her up? What if she had already left? Gone home?
Careen came sulking into the room. She had been very difficult when he had explained to her where they were going.
“Why do we have to go see Miss Granger? Why can’t we see her in school?”
Draco let out a breath of frustration.
“I don’t know Careen. That’s what I’m going to find out. But I can’t if we just sit here.”
Careen plopped down into the sofa.
“I don’t want to go. I don’t want you to go either.”
Draco frowned and sat next to her.
“Why not? I thought you liked Hermione. You told me she was nice.”
His daughter looked up at him with tears brewing in her eyes.
“I do like her. But she’s my teacher. Not my mummy.”
Draco was frozen, shell-shocked.
“W-w-” Draco stared at her, eyes wide. “Careen! I never said she was! We’re just going to see what she wants to talk about. I never implied-”
Careen’s frown deepened.
“I don’t want her to be my mummy.”
Draco wrapped his arms around her.
“She won’t be. No one ever will be. But that doesn’t mean we can’t talk to people, right?”
Careen nodded sullenly. Draco smiled softly and pulled her up.
“Come on. We’re late.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed suspiciously as surveyed the scene in front of him. Yes, the sign did read ‘Hogsdon Alley’. But Hermione would lead him into a place like this would she?
His pulse quickened as he thought of the possibility of a trap. He gripped Careen’s small hand harder, and pulled her closer to him, taking tentative steps towards the alleyway.
The alleyway was dark, narrow and constricting. Tall grey townhouses loomed over them from either side. They were identically, and clumsily made, with sloping roofs and uneven windows and doors. They all had the same dilapidated look about them, with rusty rails and filth coated walls. They all had a small bed of dying, dry, browning grass surrounding them, were a few pots of wilted, depressing flowers sat, and a line of wire over which freshly laundered (yet still dirty) clothes were hung. Rows of dented, overflowing trash cans were lined up just in front of each house, and the stench added to the decaying atmosphere of the place.
Finally, Draco spotted the one place he had been searching for. It stood at the very end of the alleyway, apart from the rest, noticeable by the large flashing neon lights above it. Draco pulled Careen slowly towards it cautiously.
As soon as he reached it, he wanted nothing but to go back the way he came.
“…I just want your sex..”
He fought the urge to cover Careen’s ears as strange Muggle music blared out from a large contraption in the far corner. The small café looked like a comical jumble of table and chairs, and as muddled up as an unsolved jigsaw puzzle. The walls, the ceiling and the floors were covered in grime, and even splatters of coffee.
His eyes scanned the small area, searching for the tell-table bush of brown hair. Had she left? He searched each table, each stool desperately.
“Can I help you?”
He looked up to see a bleach blonde woman with an unnaturally small waist and large chest standing in front of him. He subtly steered Careen around, but a little unable to tear his eyes away from the woman’s chest himself.
He considered her question. Could she?
“I’m looking for a young woman. 23 years old. Around this high.” He brought his free hand to gesture somewhere around his chin. “Bushy brown hair. Brown eyes.” He contemplated this description. “Pissed off?”
The woman chuckled.
“Oh yeah, she was here. Cute little thing. She left about 5 minutes ago. Wasn’t too happy. You left her waiting quite a while didn’t you?” She smirked as Draco winced in mild shame.
“Thanks,” he muttered. Great. Now Hermione probably thought he had stood her up.
He turned to leave, aware that every pair of eyes was on him, and that everyone in the tiny café had been listening to his conversation, smiling secretly to themselves.
“Wait! Don’t you want anything else?”
Draco stopped suddenly, but didn’t turn back.
“Nothing that you have to offer. Sorry.”
To his surprise, he heard her laugh again.
“I guess you don’t have high levels of testosterone then.”
Draco wheeled around.
The waitress smiled innocently, but didn’t answer.
“I make a mean cup of coffee.”
A/N: First off, thanks to all the people who reviewed last time! ^_^ I really did want to finish this chapter quickly, but with school and life in general, I just found that absolutely no time on my hands. But your reviews really did push me to try harder, so thank you so much! I've already stared the next chapter, since it was meant to be a part of this chapter, so hopefully the next update will be a lot faster. But in the meantime, I'd love it if you'd drop me a review =D.
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