Chapter 10 : Chapter Nine
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They both entered Diagon Alley, hand in hand as they searched for the familiar shop where his mother was to meet them. “Looks like your mum isn’t alone.” Hermione adjusted her bag on her shoulder, and walked across the busy street towards the small table where Narcissa Malfoy was sitting with Astoria Greengrass, and to her surprise, Wesley Carrow.
Hermione saw Draco scowl, looking away from his mother. “This is so typical of her.” Draco said to Hermione before they were within earshot.
“Ah, they’re finally here.” Narcissa said as she stood up her feet. “Well, you two took a while.” She commented. Without waiting for their explanation, she quickly motioned to the other two who were now standing. “Look who I ran into.” She said, motioning to Astoria and Wesley.
“Hello Hermione, Hello Draco.” Wesley said pleasantly and politely.
Draco rudely ignored Wesley’s greeting before he looked at his mother. “Sorry, we lost track of time.” He muttered to Narcissa.
“Hullo Astoria, Weasley.” Hermione said genteelly. “It’s nice to see you again Mrs. Malfoy.”
Narcissa rolled her eyes. “Dear, it’s Narcissa.” She said. “Don’t ever call me Mrs. Malfoy again.” Hermione nodded. “Sit, sit.” Narcissa said to Draco and Hermione. “There’s no use of the two of you standing.”
“Actually, mother.” Draco said, stopping Hermione from pulling out the next available chair to sit down. “Hermione and I have got something planned for the day already.” He told her. “And we’d like to get to it if you don’t need our company to run those errands you spoke of earlier.”
“Sit down Draco.” Narcissa ordered her son as if he hasn’t spoken. He took a good look at the large round table, and noticed how manipulative his own mother was. “Hermione, dear.” She said. “Sit down over there next to Wesley.”
Hermione turned awkwardly, facing Wesley who was smiling at her. Hermione breathed nervously. “Hello.” She said only to realize that they had already greeted each other earlier. “I mean, uh- how are you?” Hermione quickly corrected herself.
Wesley laughed. “Fine, and yourself?”
She nodded. “I’m fine as well.” It wasn’t that she was nervous around Wesley. In fact, she never felt the need to be nervous around Wesley. She noticed how easy he made it to be around him and how he knew what to do or say to make one feel comfortable. “I’m guessing that you and Astoria didn’t really run into her.” Hermione whispered to him.
He shook his head. “Not at all.” Wesley said. “Do you think she’s planning something?”
“Draco seems to think so.” Hermione replied. After saying his name, she took a quick glance at him, and noticed the threatening glare he was sending her.
“How have you been Draco?” Astoria asked him. She didn’t look as enthusiastic as Wesley to be sitting with the couple, but Draco knew how deviant women were. “Great, I suspect?” Astoria said. “You two look happy.”
Draco sighed, looking away. “Astoria, please don’t start.” He said.
“Start what Draco?” She snapped angrily.
“Play nice children.” Narcissa said calmly, taking a drink of her beverage. “Draco I’ve a favor to ask of you.” She said. “Your father wants me home soon in preparation of the party tonight, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to get what I need from Knockturn Alley.”
“Party?” Draco asked exasperatedly. “You and father are hosting another one?”
Narcissa smiled. “Yes, actually it’s sort of a celebration party for Wes and his father.” He said. “Your father and Douglas ran into each other two days ago, and all they could talk about was business.” Draco looked away from her, and towards Wesley who seemed to be preoccupied by his conversation with Hermione. “Douglas has hit it big in the past few months, and your father insist that he invites old friends to the Manor tonight for a gathering.”
“So what do you need me to do mother?” Draco inquired.
“There’s this old shop deep in Knockturn Alley, Astoria here has heard about it and I thought that she’ll be able to accompany you.” Narcissa said. “You’ll need to pick up some new drapes for the Manor, a couple table cloths and hangings for the bedrooms.” Narcissa then turned to Hermione. “And Wesley can accompany Hermione in picking out a dress for tonight.” She said, smiling. “You’ll need to look your best.”
“Must we go?” Draco asked his mother. “This is after all, father’s party.”
“Of course you must.” She snapped. “There will be several people there, and this is also a chance for your father’s friends to see your new fiancé.”
Narcissa turned to Astoria who was moving a fringe of hair away from her face. “Astoria dear, would you please escort Draco down Knockturn Alley?” she asked him. “And Hermione, there are several dress shops around here, and they have lovely dresses. I’m sure with Wesley’s fine taste, he may help you chose one out.”
Wesley nodded, smiling at Narcissa. “I should get back now.” Narcissa said, standing up. “Your father was expecting me moments ago. And Hermione, we’ll be continue fitting you for your wedding dress.”
“Your mother is pretty conniving.” Hermione whispered to him as Narcissa disapparated out. She looked up at him and noticed that he tightened his jaw out of either frustration or anger. “It’s okay.” She whispered, rubbing his arm as she glanced towards Astoria and Wesley who was watching them intently.
Draco turned to Wesley and Astoria, ignoring Hermione’s hand on his arm. “Thank you but I’m sure we can find our way.” He said. “My mother just thinks I’m incredibly dense and I can’t find anything.”
“It’s no problem really.” Wesley said, stepping forward. “You’ve some errands to run. I can take her dress shopping.”
Draco stepped forward, stepping directly in front of Hermione. “No, it’s fine.” He said, trying to sound as civil as possible. “I owe her something anyway.” Draco lied. “We’ll see you at the party later.” Draco quickly took Hermione’s hand, steering her away from the two.
“That was rather rude.” Hermione said, as Draco led her towards the direction of Knockturn Alley. “I can’t believe your mom is still trying to get you and Astoria together.” She muttered. “So uh, where are we going?” Hermione asked.
They entered Knockturn Alley, and Hermione suddenly felt a familiar cold feeling rush through her body. “I never really liked this place.” She said, trying to be as small as possible against Draco’s body. There were several witches and wizards walking around, eyeing the two brightest people around. They all seemed to be dressed in rags, their hair disheveled and a look of disgust plastered on their face.
“Just stay close.” Draco told her, sensing that she was uncomfortable. “We’re almost there.”
“Well aren’t you lovely.” A middle aged man said, walking up to Hermione, completely ignoring the fact that Draco was standing right next to her. The man had absolutely foul breath, and his hands felt incredible coarse against her face. “What’s a lovely young woman like you doing in a place like this?” he wheezed.
Hermione felt two other hands touch her shoulders and she jumped with surprise. She suddenly felt Draco’s hand leave hers, and an arm snaking around her waist. “She’s with me.” Draco said with a cold voice. Hermione suddenly felt at ease, and relaxed in his arms. “Leave her be.” She could hear the restraint his voice, and how hard he was trying not to shout. “Lets go.” Draco said, keeping his arm around her.
Her breath began to catch up with her as Draco began leading her further away from the crowd. “We’re not even in here for five minutes, and you begin to attract every male in this alley.” Draco said bitterly.
She glared at him, and suddenly began to notice the arm that was still around her. Hermione began to stiffen but he didn’t seem to notice her discomfort. “Are you going to let go of me yet?” Hermione asked him quietly.
Draco looked at her, and shook his head. “We’re supposed to look like a couple, remember?” Draco said, as if he was taunting her. “Stop acting like you hate me.” They turned a corner, and continued walking down the street. Luckily, it was almost empty other than a few wizards dressed in all black.
A couple. Just thinking about those two words sent shivers throughout her body. Never in her life did she think she would ever hear Draco Malfoy refer to them as a couple, much less treat her like his girlfriend. No, not girlfriend- fiancé. But as she stood there with his arm around her, she began to question if this was real or not. Unfortunately, the conscious part of her brain brought her back to reality and told her that everything was a hoax. This wasn’t a real relationship but just a fake engagement in order to save Draco from a woman he detested.
There was something different about his touch that Hermione began to notice. He didn’t try to be as far as her as possible, nor did he seem to be hoping for everything to be over. It was as if this was completely normal for the two of them.
Draco stopped in front of a large broken down shop. “This woman may scare you.” He warned before they had entered. “She’ll know that you’re a muggle born too, so just try not to draw too much attention to yourself.”
Hermione nodded slowly. She watched quietly as Draco attempted to pry the door open, but it only caused the entire shop to creak. “Use a spell.” Hermione suggested.
“Alohomora.” Draco said, pointing his wand towards the door. It still didn’t budge. He knocked on the door causing the glass to complain against his knuckles. “Hello?” he said loudly.
She looked around the building, noticing that it seemed as though someone had raided it, leaving the shop in ruins. There was a sign on the right window that said ‘PUREBLOODS ONLY. NO MUDBLOODS ALLOWED.’ Hermione looked down, noticing the doorstep they were standing on. She then took Draco’s hand, and pricked it against a nail sticking out from the frame of the door. “What are you doing?” he asked, gasping as his skin ripped open. His blood spilled, landing on the doormat and the door suddenly opened.
“Who goes there?” A young woman was standing by the back door of the store leaning against the doorframe. She was wearing green robes, and her black hair cascaded down her back. As the couple emerged from doorway, the woman raised her head high, only to have a look of disgust on her face. “I smell a mudblood.” She sneered. “And a Malfoy.” Her head suddenly bent low, as if she was bowing in respect. “I was told by your mother that you were arriving today, but with another pureblood that you were destined with.”
Draco cleared his throat and took out a bag filled with coins. “Could you please wrap up what my mother ordered?” He said, throwing the money towards her.
She nodded; catching the bag swiftly in her hands, and began to walk around the store, constantly sneering at Hermione as she gathered Narcissa Malfoy’s fabric. “You won’t last long as a couple, you know.” The woman said as she handed Draco the small miniature bag, resized to fit in his pocket. There was a smirk on her face as her pupils went white. “Your relationship is a crude joke, and Mr. Malfoy has wishes to be with another, while the mudblood prefers to live her dreams.” Her pupils went back to its original shade of green, and her smirk faded. “Perhaps it’s better to live one’s destiny, instead of playing games with fate.”
Draco pocketed the bag, and ushered Hermione out of the shop. “She was a seer.” He said. “That wasn’t the woman my mother always consulted with when she came here.”
“So are you saying your mother purposely sent you there so that you’d hear your destiny?” Hermione asked. Then she laughed. He began to laugh loudly, causing everyone in Knockturn alley to turn his or her attention to her. Her face brightened, and she laughed as Draco took her hand and pulled her faster. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard someone do.”
He looked at her with a confused face. “Why is that so ridiculous?” Draco asked, now curious of her sudden outburst of laughter.
Hermione was still smiling, and at this point, she was the brightest living thing in the alley. “Who would ever expect Draco Malfoy to listen to a seer, and carry out his ‘destiny’ because of what he’s heard?” she asked. “You’re the most stubborn person I know, and as far as I’m concerned, you do what ever you want, not what you’re supposed to do.” Hermione began laughing again.
Draco looked away from her, but hearing her laughter ring in his ears caused him to laugh a bit himself. It was difficult to keep a straight face after she began laughing, and Draco, despite how angry, continued laughing. “Would you stop?” he asked, their laughter still hasn’t ceased. “I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve actually laughed like this.”
She smiled. “Because you’re always so serious.” Hermione said. “You need to loosen up a bit Malfoy. You’re twenty years old, and all you do is work, home and then back to work.”
“That’s not true.” He said. “I attend many parties.”
“Correction.” Hermione said in a perfect know-it-all voice. “You attend many boring parties.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Like you attend any better ones.”
“I did.” She stopped. “Well I used to.” Hermione said. “Before this whole thing started, almost every Friday’s there would be several parties going on late night, and Ginny and I would always attend.”
“You still can, you know that.” Draco told her. “I’m not stopping you.”
Hermione shook her head. “I’m practically a married woman now.” She joked rancorously. “I can’t just go partying every Friday night. And plus, who’s going to cook you food when you arrive home? You’re pretty useless with a spatula and a pan.”
“Hey.” Draco resented. “I actually make rather delicious apple pie.” The feeling of protectiveness suddenly came upon him as they neared the exit to Knockturn alley. He wrapped his arm around Hermione once more, finally noticing the hungry looks wizards were giving her.
She looked at him curiously, but dismissed the topic. “You can’t just live off apple pie every Friday night.”
He laughed. “Well, I’ll live.” He said. “I have lived alone for two years.” They were finally back in Diagon Alley, and the arm wrapped around her dropped. “Let’s go find you a dress.”
As Draco grabbed her hand and pulling her forward, Hermione couldn’t help but notice how different he was today. There was something about him that was completely different. It was as if he had just forgotten about everything he stood for, and allowed himself to enjoy what he has. “What?” he asked, when he noticed her staring at him.
She cocked her head to the side. “You’re different.”
“What are you talking about?” he frowned.
They stopped at a store Hermione recognized to be the one Pansy had brought her to. She shrugged. “You’re just different.”
Draco ignored her, and began looking at dresses for Hermione to wear. After a few minutes, Draco had several dresses on his arm, and he pushed Hermione into the dressing room for her to try on. “Go on.” Draco said, sitting down on the chair available.
“What is this?” She demanded. “Are you serious? You want me to wear this?” Hermione asked him through the curtain. After a few moments of adjusting the dress, she pushed the heavy curtain open and folded her arms across her chest. The dress barely went past mid thigh, and it squeezed her breast towards her body, making them look bigger than it normally was.
“Er,” Draco began. He gulped loudly, and shook his head. “Next.”
Hermione glared at him before she disappeared behind the curtains and began to try on another, while a smile slowly formed on Draco’s face. “Malfoy, you’re never going to ever chose dresses for me again.” She opened the curtain, and Draco began laughing loudly. The dress went all the way to the floor, and was exaggerated in the butt area as well as her arms. There were ruffles everywhere; reminding Hermione of the dress Narcissa chose for her this morning. “You and your mother have the same taste in dresses.” She snapped, closing the curtain quickly.
The next dress was extremely wide as soon as it went past her waist. She wasn’t sure she was even able to step out of the changing room wearing it. Draco began laughing once again, only because this time, Hermione had a long wig on her head. Hermione laughed a bit before she closed the curtain around once more.
The very last dress Draco had chosen for her was dark blue and it fell above her knees. As she stared at her reflection in the mirror, she immediately fell in love with the dress. Hermione quickly took the dress off, not wanting to show it to Draco.
“The last one?” Draco asked, when she emerged from the dressing room with her regular clothes on.
“Looks great.” Hermione answered. “And you’ll get to see it tonight.”
He rolled his eyes and took the dress from her. There was a sales lady waiting by the counter and she took the dress from him, putting it in a bag. “Would you like anything else Mr. Malfoy?” she asked. Draco shook his head and handed her money.
“Thank you.” Hermione said to Draco when they had walked out of the store.
“I actually knew you’d like this dress.” He said, holding up the bag. “I just wanted to have a laugh.” Hermione rolled her eyes at him before they both apparated back to their flat.
“So when is the party?” Hermione asked as Draco unlocked the front door.
“Later tonight.” Draco said. “We have hours before it starts.”
Hermione nodded as they entered the room. “Can we go get some lunch?” she asked. “I’m starving.” Hermione entered the living room, and saw Miranda sitting on the couch reading a magazine. She glanced at Draco who looked even more surprised than she was. “Uh, Hello.” Hermione said casually.
“Draco!” Miranda said, not noticing Hermione. She jumped up from the couch excitedly, and ran over to hug him. Like many other nights, Draco had no idea what to do. He glanced at Hermione who was standing a mere three feet away from them, and back at Miranda who was waiting for him to wrap his arms around her in return.
“What are you doing here?” he asked when she had finally released him. “How did you get in here?”
“Don’t forget that I know where your spare key is hidden.” Miranda said, grinning as she held up a silver key. “And my father wanted to speak to you before the party tonight.” She took his hand and pulled him to the door. “You can get ready in my house.”
Draco allowed Miranda to pull him through the doorway, not saying another word to Hermione. “Hold on.” He said, opening the door to the flat once more.
She frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. “What are you doing Draco?” Miranda demanded. “We have to go, now.”
He walked back into his flat and into the living room where Hermione was still standing. “I’ll be back later.” Draco told her. Knowing that Miranda was watching, he kissed her swiftly on the cheek. “Can you owl this to my mother?” he asked, pulling the small bag out of his pocket. “I’ll see you at the manor later.”
Hermione felt blood boiling in her body as soon as she saw Miranda and Draco apparate out of the building. Never in her life has she felt this much hatred for someone who was not trying to kill her or her friends. She looked at the small bag in her hands, and suddenly wondered how she was supposed to owl this to Narcissa. “Does he even have an owl?” she asked angrily. As if on cue, a white owl appeared on his windowsill, tapping on the window. “Well, I’ve never seen you before.” Hermione spoke to the owl as she handed him the small bag. “Send this to Narcissa Malfoy” she said, setting him back in the air.
She was startled when she heard someone knocking on the door. “Coming!” she shouted, quickly walking to the door. “Pansy?” she asked, clearly surprised.
“I suppose Draco has taken you shopping for a dress this evening?” she asked, stepping past Hermione and into their flat. “I stopped over Miranda’s house to return something to her, and I was surprised to see him there.”
Hermione shut the door and locked the bolt. “Yes,” she said. “She stopped by here moments ago, and he went with her.”
Pansy took off her coat, and dropped it on the chair by the door. “Did she say that her father needed to speak to Draco?” Pansy asked urgently. “This is not good.” She said.
“Why?” Hermione asked. “Did something happen?”
“The Minister of Magic is the most busiest man in London.” Pansy told her. “Do you honestly think he’ll have time to speak to one of Miranda’s friends for no reason at all?” she asked. “He was either convinced that there was something going on between his daughter and Draco, or something is going wrong with his father’s company.”
“I see.” Hermione said, nodding.
“But since Miranda was the one who came to get him, it has to involve her.” Pansy said. “You guys are going to be in a very, very big dilemma soon. I saw the paper this morning too. It seems like everyone is trying to split you two apart.”
Hermione laughed with a hint of bitterness. “Maybe because we just really aren’t supposed to be together.” She said as she recalled the seer who sold Draco the fabric.
Pansy sighed. “Well for now, the two of you are.” she said sternly. “You’re the only one that can pull Draco from this, so you must listen to me very, very carefully. Now is not the time to get into arguments with him because this will only cause you to push him towards Miranda, and we don’t want that.” Pansy said. “Just play nice for now, and whatever you do, do not get intimidated by his mother.” She instructed. “I think she’s trying to sabotage the wedding, so don’t give into anything you don’t like.”
“What exactly is going on?” Hermione asked, cutting into Pansy’s orders. “I don’t understand. Is something going on with Draco?”
“Miranda will do anything to get her hands on him again, you know that already.” She said. “And Draco is too much of a fool to refuse her, you know that as well. Miranda has the most power over her father, and anything she requests, she gets. I’m assuming that Lucius’ company is going to be in turmoil for the next week, and if that crashes, several other companies that are in that chain will fall as well.”
“So you’re telling me that Miranda is going to use that, to get Malfoy to be with her?” Hermione asked. “That’s foolish!” she exclaimed.
Pansy nodded. “Just a word from Miranda, and the Minister will save these company’s from falling to the ground.” The two sat in silence for a while, and Pansy suddenly looked hesitant. “Hermione,” she began. “Perhaps there’s a way for Miranda to finally let Draco go.”
“What is it?” Hermione asked, suddenly afraid of Pansy’s answer.
“We need to move your wedding forward.” She said, biting her lower lip. “To some time in the next two months.”
Hermione’s eyes widen. “There’s no way that’s happening!” she said loudly “We agreed on when we both turn twenty one.”
“Yes, yes I’ve heard it.” Pansy said, waving her hand. “But don’t you see what’s going on?”
“No,” Hermione said. “I honestly don’t. What will my official marriage with Draco solve?”
Pansy ran her hand through her hair, pushing it back away from her face. “Miranda is still fighting for Draco only because you two aren’t branded by marriage yet.” She said. “Miranda isn’t stupid- she’ll see that there’s something missing in your relationship, and I reckon that she already does.”
Hermione sighed and closed her eyes, leaning back against the sofa. “I can’t get married just like that.” She said.
“You knew this would happen when you agreed to it.” Pansy told her. “This would’ve happened eventually.”
“Yes but I didn’t think it would be this soon.” She said. “Does Malfoy know?” Pansy shook her head. “So I suppose I have to tell him this?”
Pansy shrugged. “I can do it if you don’t want to.” She said.
Hermione groaned. “The next thing I know, you’re going to be telling me that I need to have a baby with him.” She said with despite. “Why did I agree to this?” she asked, staring up at the ceiling.
Pansy laughed. “You were crazy to agree.” She said. “I would never ever agree to this if it was Draco Malfoy I was marrying. You have no idea how incredibly complicated that boy is.”
“I have an idea.” Hermione said, laughing slightly. “You’re going to be attending the party tonight, right?” she asked her.
“Yes.” Pansy replied.
“What if Miranda still doesn’t stop?” Hermione asked. “What will happen then?”
Pansy thought for a moment. “I’ll handle her.” She said. “For now, all you have to worry about is getting ready for the party tonight. Would you like me to help you with your make up and hair?” Pansy asked.
Hermione nodded. “Are you going to be going with Theodore?”
She shook her head. “He’ll be in Paris for the next week or so.” Pansy said. “He’s got some business with his father there, and he’ll be returning once it’s over.”
What scared Hermione the most, was that she was beginning to get used to arriving in the Malfoy Manor to be greeted by Draco’s parents who was standing by the door. There were several ministry cars dropping witches and wizards off, and others were apparating a few feet away from the house.
“Welcome Hermione.” Narcissa said when Pansy and Hermione had reached the door. “Your dress looks lovely!” She exclaimed. “Wesley has great taste in clothes, don’t you think darling?” Narcissa asked her husband.
Lucius nodded. “Indeed he does.” He said.
“Actually,” Hermione began. “Draco picked it out. Wesley and Astoria left moments after you did this afternoon.” She explained.
Hermione and Pansy entered the main foyer, and they both dropped their coats off in the cloakroom. “Draco chose that for you?” Pansy asked. “That’s rather impressive.” She said. “I never knew Draco had such great taste in dresses.”
Hermione laughed, remembering this afternoon. “Yes, he does.” She replied. Hermione didn’t have a chance to hear what Pansy was telling her as a sparkling diamond standing on the top of the stairs caught her attention. “Is that Miranda?” she asked. “And Draco?”
Miranda had her arm hooked on Draco’s, and they were both descending down the stairs as if she was the belle of the ball. “So?” Miranda began, as if she was waiting for Draco to say something to her. “What do you think?” she asked, motioning to her attire.
Draco stared at her face and smiled. “You look gorgeous.” He complimented.
Miranda grinned and adjusted her strapless dress. “Good.” She said once they had reached the bottom of the stairs. “Now where’s Pansy?” she asked, scanning the crowd. “Pansy!” Miranda called loudly, smiling at the woman standing on the other side of the large foyer.
As they neared the small group standing on the opposite side of the foyer, Draco’s breath caught in his throat, and his eyes went wide. Standing beside Pansy Parkinson was the most beautiful woman he’s seen tonight.
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