Chapter 11 : The Party
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She finished applying the last of her makeup, making sure that the bags under her eyes were less apparent. The dark green color of her fitted dress robes complimented her creamy skin. She turned to face her husband.
“Here, let me do that.” She stepped over to him and deftly tied a precise knot around his neck. He gave her a wan smile that did not hide the apprehension in his eyes.
“It’ll be okay.”
Draco’s eyes hardened and the mask of his younger years slid into place. “Yes, well…” He looked her up and down, and his face softened. “You look beautiful. I might be forced to keep my wand handy in order to keep all the blokes from trying to snatch you up.” His eyes wavered slightly and then he grabbed her into a tight embrace, kissing her mouth gently.
She returned his affectionate kiss and they stood there in their bedroom for a few minutes more, wrapped into each other. His insecurities came through in that sweet kiss, and though it did not completely distract her from her more recent thoughts, it did remind her of why she loved him.
They broke apart and he nuzzled his face into her neck. “We’d better get going,” she whispered.
“Mm-Hm.” Her skin muffled his voice, and his breath tickled her neck. She giggled and pulled back from their embrace.
“Come on.” Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him out of their bedroom and down the stairs. She only allowed a brief moment for them to pull on their cloaks and then they were out the door and apparating to a spot outside of The Leaky Cauldron.
Diagon Alley was crowded with witches and wizards, all rushing home after an afternoon of shopping or into one of the many pubs and restaurants located on the street.
Jacks and The Bean Stalk was the name of the venue that Ginny and Harry had rented out for their party. The Bean Stalk was a hip little restaurant that dealt in fusion cuisine, while Jacks was the nightclub attached to the restaurant through a small hallway with purple-flamed lamps lining the walls.
They were to meet in The Bean Stalk and then head over to Jacks after dinner. Hermione led while Draco held the door, placing his hand on the small of her back as they entered the restaurant. Hermione made sure that they would be on time, but it felt as if they had come in late.
All of their friends were already there mingling and munching on the buffet of appetizers that had been set up along the far wall of the restaurant. A glimpse of Luna’s blonde head appeared behind that of Neville who was talking animatedly to… Was that Pansy?
Blaise stood idly watching the interactions of the former Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws with detached interest. It was amazing that they all seemed to be able to be in the same room with one another. Or rather, that the Slytherins could be in the same room as all of them.
Ginny tried to refuse to invite Draco’s friends, but Hermione put her foot down and said that if they weren’t invited then she would not show, either. While she didn’t particularly love any of Draco’s friends, none of them were too awful except for Pansy, who apparently came as Blaise’s date. Not that anyone could tell.
“Oh good, you’re here.” Ginny’s voice came from the right of where Hermione stood. She wrapped her arm around Hermione’s shoulder in a quick embrace. “Draco.” She nodded in his direction upon pulling away from her friend.
“Ginny.” He smirked and pulled Hermione into his side.
“Thank you so much, Gin, for putting this together for us. It was really sweet of you.” Hermione gave Draco a pointed look.
“Yes, Ginny. Thank you.” He forced out.
Hermione turned to take in more of the guests, and then stiffened slightly upon the sight of a rather tall looking red head. She made herself relax, not wanting to clue Draco in to anything wrong. She hoped that he wouldn’t be there at all, and was totally unprepared for the onslaught of seeing him standing next to the same pretty witch that he had been to dinner with before.
It was perfectly natural that he would be dating. It should not bother her in the least. At least that is what she kept telling herself. She was soon able to distract herself when Sandra and Theo came towards them. Theo’s tight curly hair was cut close to his head, and his thin wiry arm stuck out to grasp Draco’s hand. The two men shook hands while Sandra, with her dark hair pulled tight up into a high bun, gave Hermione a small smile.
Blaise came forward to join their little party and Ginny, seeing that she was now outnumbered by ex-Slytherins, decided to make her escape to a more inviting group.
“So you brought Pansy, I see?” Theo stated. It was not really a question, and there was certainly no accusation in his tone, but Blaise evidently felt the need to vindicate himself.
“Yes, well I couldn’t listen to one more second of her whining about coming here. She just had to see Draco off. She even went as far as trying to get Mother on her side.” He glanced back at his date, who was still standing by Neville. “It was easier to bring her than not. It seems like she made a friend anyway. ” He shrugged and took a sip from his martini glass.
Draco snorted, but one stern look from Hermione put the subject to rest.
“The party is lovely. It really is a shame that you will have to be so far away.” Sandra’s quiet voice broke in. She was not an overly friendly person, but she had tact and Hermione respected her tiny efforts at steering the conversation towards a more appropriate topic.
The men all agreed and then began to discuss business. Hermione tuned them out, trying to focus her attention towards Sandra, but they really didn’t have much to say to one another. They made small talk about the weather, the impending move, the lovely earrings that Hermione wore, and where Sandra bought her gorgeous black satin dress robes. Once they had used up all their niceties, Hermione felt it safe to go about, greet, and mingle with the rest of the guests. She left Draco talking with his friends and brought Sandra around for some introductions before leaving her with Lavender Brown, where they discussed the wonderful fabrics of the East.
She was talking to Angelina near the buffet when Ron’s date came up beside them.
“You must be the Guest of Honor,” Blakely said as she put out her hand. “I’m Blakely.” Hermione mindlessly shook the proffered limb.
“Hermione,” she said back evenly. “Nice to meet you.” Hermione looked at Angelina, who had an undisguised smirk on her face.
“These scallops are to die for!” Blakely went on as she popped one of the small appetizers into her mouth and gathered a couple more onto a small plate. “Well, good to meet you.” She swung her head around and headed back towards the red beacon of hair in the far corner of the room. Hermione’s eyes followed her until the blond reached her destination, and watched as she popped one of the scallops into Ron’s mouth. He looked up from chewing and their eyes met briefly. Hermione instantly turned her head away and again faced Angelina.
“She seems nice.” Hermione managed to get out.
Angelina just laughed. “Yeah, that’s exactly what you’re thinking. What a crock of…”
“Naughty, naughty, love.” George came up from behind them, wrapped a freckly arm around Angelina’s waist, and kissed her exposed neck. “Save the dirty talk for later.”
Hermione blushed, but neither one of the couple seemed to be embarrassed. “Well I’d better…” She walked away without finishing what she knew would have been a lame excuse. The party moved on rather quickly, and Hermione had managed to greet all the guests and enjoy small spurts of conversation with everyone-well, almost everyone. She had pointedly avoided any further contact – be it eye or otherwise. Slowly people started to meander their way over to Jacks.
There were fairy lights scattered about the room in low tones of blues and purples. An entire row of them lit the bar from underneath. It made it look like the counter was floating, which it very well could have been for all Hermione could tell.
There were a smattering of couples on the dance floor, and Hermione thought that it might be nice to dance with Draco later on. She hadn’t seen him since she left him standing with Theo and Blaise, but knew that he would eventually pop up. He was a great dancer and it was one of the things that she really enjoyed doing with him.
“May I have this dance?” She heard a familiar voice from behind her. She chuckled as Harry’s bespectacled face popped in front of hers.
“Since when do you dance?” She asked.
“Since one of my best mates decided to move across the world.” He bowed low and then took her hand and led her onto the dance floor. The song was fast and she enjoyed watching Harry try to move to the music, though her toes were a bit bruised by the end of the number.
A slow tune came on after and he pulled her into a loose waltz. Two steps into the dance a small tap on her shoulder alerted her to someone trying to cut in.
“Mind if I steal him away from you?” Hermione heard Ginny ask, though she didn’t turn to look at her friend. “I’m sure your feet will thank me.”
Both girls giggled at that, and then Hermione released her hold of her best friend and was taken up by Ginny’s original partner. It took a second for Hermione to realize just who that partner was. Ginny had initially distracted her, and then Hermione was looking down at her battered feet. There was no mistaking, though, the feel of his hand in hers.
They were rougher than she remembered, probably from the years of being away, but the tingle that shot up her body upon connection could never come from anyone else. Ron was now holding her around the waist with one arm while clasping her hand in his. Due to his height, she settled for her hand on his upper arm and they moved together slowly in time to the music.
She didn’t know what to say to him so she said nothing at all, staring into his chest willing herself not to cry.
“So... Japan?” His deep voice broke through her silence.
She nodded but was unable to speak for fear of crying out.
“A bit far away.” His tone wasn’t playful, and it didn’t even sound inquisitive. It was stonier and more matter of fact then anything.
“Yes,” She managed to choke, out.
“So you married Malfoy?” Again., more of a statement then a question. “Wonder how you managed to bear that git for more than a second.”
“He is not a git.” Her irritation at his remark willed her to find her voice.
“You don’t even know him.” She said indignantly.
“Yes I do. He’s Malfoy, the Death Eater wanna be. The amazing bouncing Ferret. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had something to do with my…”
“Don’t you dare!” Hermione broke in. They stopped dancing and both pulled their arms abruptly to their own sides.
“And why not? It makes sense that I was taken by a former Death Eater.”
“I know he woudn’t have done it.” She stomped her foot. “I know he didn’t do it. I was his MCO. We watched him night and day. We knew everything about where he was and who he was with. There is no way…”
“He,” Ron spat, “is the only one who makes sense.”
“And why is that?” She spat back.
“Because he is the only one who had something to gain.” Ron’s matter of fact tone came back.
She huffed, “What exactly did he have to gain by kidnapping you?” She was incredulous now.
There was a pause and Ron turned his face away. His voice was quiet, but Hermione was able to hear it perfectly. “He got you.” Her heart pounded in her chest.
“Wha…?” She didn’t know what to say, but Draco saved her from saying anything.
“I think I’ll be taking my wife back now.” He grabbed her around the middle and swept her into the waltz that had been playing. They moved around the dance floor, Hermione too shaken up by Ron’s words to speak. Her feet moved mechanically and her mind whirled and spun in accordance with the music.
At the end of the song, Draco leaned in and planted a rough kiss on her lips. He was staking his claim and Hermione stood there, not sure if she should push him away or pull him close. Both options had their own appeal. She heard a loud crack, and then Draco broke their kiss. Hermione turned to see Ginny and Harry’s eyes on her, but Ron had vanished.
A/N: I know I am early! My beta is awesome and got the chapter to me so early this time. Since I am going out of town this weekend I figured that I would just post it today (besides I know you all were itching to see how the party went) So tell me... how was it?
Thanks of course goes to Georgia Weasley for rocking this chapter so quickly. Also to all of you lovely readers and reviewers you make my day!
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