Hermione Granger watched Draco Malfoy closely as she approached his table in the Great Hall. His focus was elsewhere, so this was an unexpected treat for her—she was able to stare at him to her heart’s content without being teased by him for it. “Get your fill, Granger?” would be his typical response. “Can’t say that I blame you—and might I commend you for your good taste,” he’d add with a smirk. As a result, she made an effort only to stare at him while he was otherwise occupied—his ego was far too large as it was without her giving him constant verification.
As she sat down at the table, she admired the way his white-blond hair fell across his collar and around his face as he studied the paper in his hand. He really was quite beautiful, she reflected. The only person she knew who could make a scowl or a frown look gorgeous, and gorgeous he was as he frowned over whatever it was that he was reading. Before she was able to cover up the fact that she was openly staring at him in admiration, he looked up suddenly and caught her directly in the act. Oh bother, she thought, as he smirked at her knowingly.
He quirked an eyebrow at her as she looked down in embarrassment. “No, no,” he said with a grin. “Far be it from me to interrupt the study of a work of art. Do go on, Granger,” he added as he lifted his hands, palms up, as if he were on display.
Hermione wrinkled her nose at him. “Arrogant toerag,” she said primly as she took a sip of pumpkin juice. She could feel her face growing red, so she covered it by asking, “What are you reading that seems so distracting?”
His cocksure grin faded. “Oh, nothing,” he said as he shoved the piece of parchment under a nearby book.
Now her curiosity was piqued. “Then why hide it?” she asked with a mischievous little smile as she reached for the parchment.
“No!” he exclaimed as he pushed it just out of her reach. Then, “No,” in a slightly calmer tone at her look of surprise. “It’s no big deal. Just a letter,” he mumbled, not quite looking her in the eye.
This was odd. Draco was usually pretty straightforward with any question she ever asked him, sometimes even a little too straightforward. He was often blunt to the point of rudeness, but Hermione knew that he would never openly lie to her. So what was it that was making him so evasive?
“Draco,” she said gently. “If it’s no big deal, then you can tell me, right?” He looked at her warily. What was it that was bothering him? She continued to gaze up at him entreatingly until she heard him groan under his breath, “Aw, man…” He let out a big sigh and grumbled reluctantly, “It’s a letter from my Mum,”
So? she thought to herself, but realized that there must be more to it than there appeared in order to make him act so secretive. She waited patiently for him to explain, but he seemed reluctant to give her any more information. Then, after a few moments of silence, he finally burst out, “It seems that she’s found out about us.”
“You hadn’t told her?” Hermione asked with a slight edge to her voice. She and Draco had been dating for a couple of months now, and Hermione’s parents knew about it, Harry knew, Ron knew (although those two still had reservations about the whole thing), and Ginny even had Draco playing Seeker for her Quidditch team, the Silver Stags. And Draco hadn’t even bothered to tell his own parents? He had better have a good reason for it…
“I wasn’t going to tell her something like that in a letter,” he replied defensively. “I was waiting until Halloween break to tell her…and my father…in person.” He ran a hand through his hair distractedly as he glanced back at the letter.
Well, that made sense. She could only imagine how tough that conversation would have been. Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy would not exactly be thrilled to hear that their only son was dating a muggleborn witch. They were a pureblooded wizard family and were very intent on keeping it that way. They had raised Draco to hate muggleborns, or mudbloods, as they called them (a much more derogatory term). And hate muggleborns Draco did, right up until the end of the War of the wizarding world, the aftermath of which had gradually opened his eyes. Hermione, being a veteran of the war and having seen just as much, if not more death and carnage as he had, was one of the only students at Hogwarts who Draco had been able to relate to. It enabled him to see past the prejudices that he had been taught all his life and be able to look at the world, and Hermione as a result, in a new way. But just because Draco was able to look at Hermione in a new way, that certainly didn’t mean that his parents would be able to.
Hermione knew that his parents were definitely a sore spot as far as Draco was concerned—he rarely talked about them and was recently displaying an odd affectation of growing his hair out, yet continually trimming it up as soon as it started to pass his collar, always mumbling something about the length making him look too much like his father. Once, Hermione had dared to ask him about what it was like growing up at Malfoy Manor, and he just glared at her in silence for a moment, then finally uttered in a caustic tone, “About as fun as Binns would be at a dance party.”
Being as Professor Binns was the dead ghost professor who taught, in Draco’s opinion, the World’s Most Boring Class (History of Magic), Hermione took that as a sign to not ask any more questions about the subject.
But she felt that the issue had to be addressed sooner or later. “So…are you in trouble?” she asked carefully.
Draco grimaced. “In a way.”
“What do you mean? What did she say?”
Draco was shaking his head as he stared down at the letter. He finally sighed in exasperation and thrust the letter towards her. “Here,” he said, irritated. “Here’s your first glimpse into the Manipulative World of Malfoy.”
Nonplussed, Hermione picked up the letter and began to read:
I hope this letter finds you well and that you are continuing to uphold the proper standard in all of your activities. Always know that this makes us proud.
I do trust that you are still planning to spend Halloween holiday at home as is tradition, although it has come to our attention that there is now a special young lady in your life. If this factor is possibly influencing whether or not you will be joining us, please extend our invitation so that we may enjoy the pleasure of the company of you both. Perhaps it is time that all was brought out into the open.
Please send an owl as soon as possible so that we will know when to expect you.
Hermione looked up at Draco, even more confused than before. “Draco, I don’t understand. It doesn’t say anything about you being in trouble…”
Draco rolled his eyes and took the letter back from her. “That’s because you don’t speak Malfoyish—it’s all about reading between the lines. For example, this part here: ‘…continuing to uphold the proper standard in all of your activities. Always know that this makes us proud.’ That means: Don’t even think about embarrassing us; you had better be acting like a Malfoy at all times.”
“But she didn’t seem upset about anything…she even invited me to go home with you for the holiday, Draco. That was actually quite generous of her,” Hermione persisted.
Draco snorted. “That’s because my perfect mother’s above petty emotions such as getting upset. And I’ll tell you right now, if you think her inviting you to the Manor is a generous offer, then you’re living in a dream world, Granger. The only reason she’d want you there is so that she could put an end to this relationship as soon as she possibly could. She could make you sorry you were ever born with a few cold and well-placed choice words.”
Hermione studied him carefully as he scowled down at the letter in his hands. It must not have been easy to grow up as Draco Malfoy, she realized. At that thought, Hermione felt her heart contract in sympathy for him, and she immediately resolved that he should not have to go home and face his parents alone. They were a couple; she wanted to be able to give Draco her support. “That may be so, but I still think I should go with you,” she said in a determined tone.
Draco looked at her as if she were a 3-headed harpy. “No way,” he finally managed.
“But Draco, I think this is really important…”
He shook his head. “Granger, I’m telling you—”
She interrupted him. “I’m not going to leave you to go at it alone; I want to—”
She was cut off as he pressed his thumb to her lip, effectively silencing her. He was looking at her with an expression that was a combination of exasperation and amusement. “Look here, stubborn Gryffindor, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, and you’re not ready to deal with Team Malfoy just yet. Just back off and let me handle it, okay?” He finished his little speech by stroking her lip gently with his thumb, as he began to stare intently at her lips. His fingers came up under her chin as he continued to run his thumb across her lip and his eyes became heated. Oh no, not that look, Hermione thought as she felt herself melt. Sometimes she wished he was just a little less intoxicating to her. Whenever he looked at her like that, he could pretty much distract her from anything.
She gave it one last ditch effort. “But—”
“No.” He cut her off with a kiss.
That did it. She was lost.
Oh my. Hermione sighed as she automatically responded to the kiss with enthusiasm. The time for thinking was not now, she conceded, but later…well, that would be another story.
Author's Note: Yep, if you read Hogwarts Ramshackle, you'll notice that I had hinted at the plot for this story in it. And I think we're in for a real fun ride with Respite because I'll be trying some new things in this story. Hope you'll all read & review as loyally as you did for my other stories, and I can't wait to hear from all of you again! And for those of you who are trying out one of my stories for the first time, welcome, welcome, welcome and I hope you do enjoy!
Next chapter will be up in 3 or 4 days...as long as work doesn't get too crazy...
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