The phone was ringing. Hermione quickly rushed from her bedroom to the living room and picked it up.
“Hermione? It’s Harry.”
“Harry! Hi, how are you?”
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Harry chuckled. Hermione smiled, happy to hear his voice again, but her stomach did not somersault as it used to do. She had gotten over her crush.
“I’m great, never better.”
“When did you come back? Why didn’t you tell me, I could’ve picked you up.”
“I came back a few hours ago and don’t worry about, it wasn’t a problem to apparate here.”
“So, what are you doing?”
“I’ve just finished unpacking and I’m going to go see Mum and Dad soon.”
“Oh, are you busy later on? I was thinking me, you and Ron could go for a drink at The Three Broomsticks.”
“Actually, Harry, I was thinking of going over to the Weasleys later. I’ll see you there I suppose.” She desperately did not want to be with Harry and Ron for quite some time where there was a very good probability of them interrogating her mercilessly over every little detail of her time in France. She was going to keep most things from them anyway; they would freak at half the things, particularly last night’s events and those were things she was not eager to share with anyone but herself.
“Yeah, that sounds good. You can tell us all about France. I’ll see you later then.”
“Yeah, see you then,” she mumbled but he had already hung up. She returned to her room and threw the presents she had bought for her parents into her handbag and slipped on a light cashmere cardigan over her flimsy top. A glint made her pause and she caught sight of Jasper’s wrapped present at her bureau. Curiously, she went over and unwrapped it. A note slipped out as she opened and fluttered to the surface of the desk. She picked it up and read Jasper’s graceful script.
She smiled wistfully and turned back to his present. A soft gasp escaped her lips as she saw a beautiful silver bracelet embedded with black sapphire, topaz and sparkling silver crystals. It was much too beautiful and she hated to think how much he had spent on it. Carefully, she slipped it on and admired it against her skin. It was gorgeous.
“Thank you, Jasper.” She muttered before apparating to her parent’s house.
The Weasley’s kitchen was crowded. Mr and Mrs Weasley, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Harry and Hermione all sat round the table, enjoying Mrs Weasley’s famous chicken casserole.
“So, Hermione, are you finally going to tell us what happened in France?” Ginny asked curiously, setting her spoon down.
“Well what do you want to know?” Hermione asked innocently, trying to ignore the double meaning she had imagined in Ginny’s question.
“Okay, first things first, were there any cute French Healers there?” Ginny asked eagerly.
“Ginny!” Bill, Fred, George and Ron chorused, exasperated.
“What? I’m a hormonal young woman.” She said defensively and returned to Hermione. “Well?”
“Yes, there were many. I had the fortune to befriend one of them. Jasper Lesair is the leading, youngest Healer at the hospital where he works. He’s only twenty-three and is from an influential family. I think I have a picture of him. He was really nice.” She said, a small smile on her lips as she remembered Jasper and she casually glanced at the bracelet on her wrist, gleaming as it trapped the faint light.
Ginny smirked eagerly.
“Okay, my turn.” Ron interjected. “What were the lectures like? Did you do anything interesting?”
“Well, everyday a lecture would be held at a different French city and healers from different nationalities would give a lecture on Healing throughout magical History, operations they had performed and information they were researching. We had to take notes and interpret everything from the lectures into a presentation at the end. Some were boring, some were interesting. Did we do anything interesting? Hmm, well we did go on a trip to the first hospital ever built by wizards in Toulouse. I think it was one thousand and three hundred years old. And we went to an all-magical museum and we went to the village of Monrelielle with Beauxbatons to watch a play. I saw your sister,” she smiled at Fleur.
“Like Hogsmeade only prettier and with a theatre.” Hermione replied casually but Mr Weasley turned to Fleur and interrogated her further in a low voice, knowing she would have gone there when she had attended Beauxbatons.
“Did you make any friends there?” Ginny asked.
“Well the only people I got to know properly where Jasper and Gabriella Laverne. She’s the French Minister’s daughter.” Her eyes flickered to Harry as Gabriella’s voice resonated in her head.
“She is…” Fred trailed off with a wolf-whistle, his eyes distant and hungry.
“How do you know what she looks like?” Ron asked cynically.
“Because, little bro, when we had to go to the Ministry to register our shop, the French Minister was there on a visit and she was with him. We had the fortune to ‘bump’ into her and stop for some chit-chat.” George said sweetly, swatting Ron across the head. “Ow!”
“George!” Mrs Weasley said warningly.
“What was Malfoy’s chateau like?” Harry asked. Everyone fell silent and turned for her answer. Hermione shot a glare at Harry. It was not a comfortable sensation to have 9 pairs of eyes upon you, watching your reaction carefully.
“Exactly how a chateau should be like. Big, grand, expensive…” she replied with a little iciness in her voice that luckily, everyone failed to notice.
“What would you do after the lectures?” This was Ron again.
“Go back to the chateau, have dinner, relax, go over some notes and then sleep. Sometimes I went for dinner with Jasper.”
Harry stiffened a little. “What was Malfoy like?” He asked in a curt voice.
“Like Malfoy. Arrogant, conceited, foul, little cockroach.” Hermione lied regretfully. Sorry Draco, she thought ruefully. This interrogation was helping her lie more skilfully, but she felt that she needed to defend him a little. “He did help me with my French a little when I couldn’t fully understand what the Healers were saying and he did help a lot with the presentation, though.”
Ron looked dumbfounded.
“I heard about your presentation, Hermione. The officials were blown away, or so I heard.” Mr Weasley smiled. “They said it was brilliant.”
Hermione blushed with pleasure. “Well, me and Malfoy did put a lot of work into it,”
“I heard it was at the Sorbonne University.” Bill said curiously.
“It was. I wanted to go see the Muggle section but we weren’t allowed.”
Ron snickered, “Typical.” Hermione shot him a deadly glare.
“Ooh, there was a conclusion ball!” Ginny said excitedly. “What was that like?”
“It was a black and white ball and it was held in Cannes by a harbour. Nothing special.” Hermione lied. The ball’s events came flooding back to her and she fought against a nostalgic smile.
“Have you got Gabriella’s address? I would very much like to send her an owl.” Fred grinned and Hermione chuckled.
“Only if she wanted a joker of a stalker sending her lovesick owls.” She grinned at Fred.
“Do you have any pictures, dear?” Mrs Weasley asked.
“A few, but they’re all back home, I’m afraid.”
“Hermione, do you want to go for a walk around the yard with me and Ron?” Harry asked in a voice that demanded she should agree. She scowled but nodded and got up from her chair, leaving the kitchen.
The sun had just set and there was dimness around the yard. She pulled her cardigan tighter around herself to keep the light breeze away. Harry and Ron appeared seconds later and immediately, they were at her sides, pulling her along out of the yard and down the road to the orchard at the end of the village.
“Hey, what’s all this about?” she asked suspiciously.
“We just want to relish the fact that you’re with us again.” Ron said with a slight smile.
“Okay.” Hermione was dumbfounded by this behaviour.
“So, tell us, what was Malfoy really like?” Ron asked.
“You think I was lying?” Hermione asked feigning indignation brilliantly. “He was exactly how you expect Malfoy to be like. We got along all right, despite a few arguments her and there.”
“Hmm.” Ron looked displeased, scowling heavily and he remained silent.
“Did you have a good time there, Hermione?” Harry asked softly.
“Yes, I did.” Her reply was soft and wary.
They had reached the orchard and they stood underneath a tree, looking up at the stars.
“So, are you returning to St Mungo’s tomorrow?”
“Yes. So tell me, what have you been doing while I’ve been away?” she asked, exchanging the interrogation.
“Nothing exciting. Just working at the Ministry.” Harry replied casually.
“And you?” she turned to Ron.
“I’m working on an important case, still helping the Italians trying to find out who murdered their Minister.” His face and tone darkened considerably and he shot her a guarded glance.
“Have you gotten anywhere?”
“Yes. We’re making significant progress, we’ve almost reached a conclusion as to who killed him.”
“Oh, that’s really good. I hope you find the culprit.”
“He’s not making an effort to evade us.” Ron grumbled darkly under his breath and his expression was stone cold.
“Even better, then.” Hermione was unenthusiastic.
They remained in silence for a while, staring down at the village and they could make out the lights of the burrow from the distance. “You know, I missed you both.” Hermione said softly, breaking the silence, her eyes at the darkened sky.
“Yeah, we missed you too.” Harry put an arm around her and pulled her into a one-armed hug. She reached her arm and put it around Ron, drawing him into the group hug. She smiled at her friends; the trio was complete once more.
Hermione glanced at Draco and he too was fighting back a smirk and they laid eyes on Healer Connors, almost skipping towards them.
“Hermione! Draco!” He cried happily. “You were brilliant! I’ve been swamped with accolades from all those who saw the presentation. I only wish I was there to see it.”
“Thank you, Mr Connors. That’s very kind of you.” Hermione said politely.
“I honestly didn’t expect you to get along so well and do such a brilliant presentation.” He admitted and Draco didn’t know whether to laugh or feel insulted.
“You underestimated us, Mr Connors.” Draco said tartly. Hermione shot him a warning glance.
“Only when it came to cooperating, Mr Malfoy,”
“Well, me and Granger cooperated pretty well, wouldn’t you think judging by our presentation?”
A slight twinge fluttered in Hermione’s chest. This was the first time he’d called her Granger since they had returned. It sounded, somehow, foreign.
“I would. Congratulations once again on the presentations but I expect my representatives to get back to work now.” He walked off leaving Hermione and Draco to stare after him.
“He’s surely insane.” Draco muttered.
Hermione chuckled and walked off towards the children’s ward, her mind echoing Draco’s words. Draco followed her. “So, Granger, did you meet Potty and Weasel yesterday?” He sneered. Hermione felt a ripple of irritation underneath her skin. He was still a little annoying.
“If you really want to know, Malfoy, yes I did go see my friends.” She emphasized his surname, hoping he would feel the same twinge in his chest. He paused, a scowl across his face before he went to check on a little girl who could not control her developing magic. It had turned on her and she was lying almost immobile on her bed. She was only six.
Hermione sighed and turned to check the heart pressure of a sleeping little boy, forcing herself not to let her mind wander over the seas and back to France.
Draco sighed and sat down, grabbing the Daily Prophet off the coffee table in front of him. He was having a difficult day, trying to avoid Hermione and trying to focus on his work and not the events that had taken place in France. He was relieved to be on his lunch break now, away from the ward where Hermione was always around him, her suffocating sweet scent always drifting up his nose.
He flicked through the Daily Prophet; nothing caught his eye and he threw it aside and picked up his coffee, sipping it contently. What would he do without coffee? He looked around the staff room and it was unusually empty. Was everyone else still working or was there a shortage of Healers today? The soft snap of a door made him look up and he internally groaned. Hermione walked in and smiled on catching sight of him.
“Hey, are you on lunch?” she asked.
He nodded and sipped his coffee, whilst she sat down on one of the old armchairs and picked up The Prophet, flicking disinterestedly through the pages, pausing frequently to read a trivial story. Her eyes rose widened in interest as they halted on a story.
“We’re mentioned.” She said turning to face him.
“What? Where?” Draco got up and snatched the paper from her and tried to read the article but it was increasingly difficult as Hermione had gotten up and was now reading over his shoulder, her warm breath on his neck, her jasmine scent flowing to his nose, her hair tickling his ear. He closed his eyes and tried to control his beating heart but this only made him hyperaware of everything about her and he bit back a growl of frustration. Hermione was unaware and continued to read with interest.
Draco took a deep breath trying to get some much-needed oxygen to his hyperventilating brain. It didn’t work. “Damn it, Granger!” He growled, dropping the newspaper and turning to face her before cupping her face in his hands and drawing her lips to his insatiably. She put up no objections and let him kiss her, responding to his touch and she moaned into his mouth, letting the events in France wash over her. She broke away when she realized what they were doing.
“Draco, what was that about?” she asked softly, breathing deeply.
“Well, if you hadn’t been breathing down my neck so provocatively…” he mumbled irritably.
“You couldn’t resist me?” Hermione smirked, placing her hands on his shoulders and blowing softly on his ear, her lips inches away from his skin. Her froze, closing his eyes, muttering to himself, “Just a hallucination. Just a hallucination. Just a hallucination.” Her antics were driving him crazy.
Hermione snorted and slowly kissed his earlobe, her lips lingering, before pulling back. “Sorry, Malfoy, not a hallucination.” With a serious note she added, “We can’t let this happen again. A slip up in public could mean trouble." And she made her way to the door.
“Well that’s comforting to know.” Draco yelled after her, unsure whether to like or dislike her at the moment. The sensation of her lips at his ear remained and he sighed with pleasure. He would have to work hard to quench his thirst for her.
A/N: I’m officially gone but the next update should be within the next 2-3 weeks depending on how fast I can get internet access. Reviews would be appreciated :)