Chapter 3 : Uncomfortable Conversations
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“Honestly, Gin, do you ever spend time with Harry?” Hermione chuckled. Ginny grinned and made room for her friend on the sofa.
“Enjoy the time you have with me now, because once the Quiditch season is over, you won’t see me until next year. Now, how was it with Malfoy’s lovely fiancée?”
“How can you ask me that with a straight face? It was awful of course. She wanted to buy a twelve thousand galleon dress that made her look like she was working the aisles instead of walking down one.”
“Ha, so, what then? She decided it was too comely and bought an even more expensive dress?”
“No, actually, she got the fabric for the dress which cost nearly as much. I’m going to be making it.”
“Excuse me?” Ginny said with a brow cocked. “’Mione, you’re not a dressmaker.”
“For three thousand galleons I am,” Hermione moaned irritably. “I don’t know why I’m so stressed out about this. I’m getting three thousand for making her dress, five thousand for my opinion on her clothes for the wedding, ten thousand for counseling sessions, on top of the one million to use for planning the wedding and the four thousand a month for my services. That’s a truck load. I should be jumping for joy.”
“…You know what you’re problem is? You’re too emotionally involved.”
“It’s true. If this was some other couple would you care?”
“Of course I would. Alright maybe I wouldn’t,” Hermione retracted, seeing the look on Ginny’s face. “But how can I emotionally detach myself? As unfortunate as it is, I know Malfoy. He may be rich, but we both know he’s stingy with his money. What Asteria is trying to do isn’t what he wants.”
“Obviously it is if he hasn’t dumped her yet.” Ginny countered. “Maybe he likes it, ‘Mione. Some men are like that. They want controlling women even though it irritates them to the core. It gives ‘entertainment’ to their lives, I suppose.”
“If that’s entertainment I’d rather shoot myself…”
“Yes well, enough about them. Let’s try to figure out a way to get my husband and brother from going to the second Quiditch match they’ve had today.”
Ginny didn’t leave Hermione’s flat until five that afternoon. When she was gone, Hermione stripped herself of her clothes and went into her bedroom. Her bed was calling her, and even though it was so early, she collapsed onto it, burying her head into her pillow and closing her eyes. Just about as she was going to drift off into a sleep, there was a tap on her window. Hermione jumped up and saw an owl with a letter in its beak.
“If that’s Asteria I swear I’ll…” She trailed off of her grumbling words when she got up and let the owl inside. The owl dropped the letter at her feet and flew out. When Hermione opened the letter she was surprised to see that it was an invitation.
Miss Hermione Granger,
You and one guest are hereby cordially invited to the engagement party of Draco Malfoy and Asteria Greengrass on the 25th of July. Please dress formally. We are looking forward to your presence.
Hermione snorted at the “we are looking forward to your presence” remark. Exactly who was the “we?” Was it Draco and Asteria? Surely it wouldn’t be most, if not all, of the guests. It would be an understatement to say that they would be all shocked and disturbed to see her, a woman of “lower stature” there.
“Why on earth did Draco invite me to this stupid thing?” She moaned out loud. In all honesty she didn’t like it. One of her mottos was to not get close to the clients. It would cloud her judgment on everything and she already saw it happening when she wanted to lower the cost of the wedding. “Maybe I should decline?” Hermione asked herself, but while staring at the invitation a small grin was fighting to appear. No, she had never been to a formal party before and it would be nice to dress up for once. Grudgingly she set the invitation aside and lay in bed.
Hermione knocked on a door for the third time and wondered what was taking him so long. She tapped her foot on the cement step and was about to knock again when she heard footsteps and saw the door beginning to pull open.
“What took you so long to answer?” She asked. Ron stretched and shrugged his shoulders at the same time and then rubbed his eyes.
“I was sleeping.” He said in a tired voice.
“It’s one in the afternoon.” Hermione giggled as he let her inside.
“You can never get enough sleep. Besides, I thought it was a traveling salesman or something. No one ever comes for me at the door. Why didn’t you use the Floo like you always do?”
“Oh, well, Ginny told me that you had a date last night. After what happened last time I figured I shouldn’t Floo in today.”
“Oh,” Ron grinned sheepishly. Of course she was referring to him and his girlfriend at the time being “exposed” when Hermione paid an unofficial visit. “You didn’t have anything to worry about anyway. It didn’t go that well.”
Hermione followed him into the kitchen and watched him put water on to boil. They both sat down at the kitchen counter and she figured she should do what she came there to do and get it over with.
“Ron, what are you doing this Saturday?”
“I don’t know. Nothing right now, I guess. Why?”
“Well, I got invited to an engagement party. Formal evening wear, you know, and I need a date.” Hermione said as casually as possible. He cocked a brow and nodded.
“Couldn’t find another bloke to go with you, huh?”
“What? No, of course not! Ron, you know that I-”
“Relax, ‘Mione.” Ron laughed. “Learn to recognize humor when you see it. Yeah, I’ll go.”
“Alright, then that’s settled.”
“Whose engagement party is it?” He asked as the water began to boil. Hermione bit her lip and could already see how the next part of their conversation was going to turn out.
“Why don’t I leave it as a surprise for you?”
“What’s the big deal about it? It’s not like as if it’s Malfoy’s engagement party or something.”
Silence filled the air as Ron put the pieces together. Hermione had her teeth clenched as he turned to face her with an accusatory expression.
“’Mione you’ve got to be kidding!”
“Oh come on, Ron, don’t be like that!”
“Don’t be like what? It’s Malfoy’s bloody engagement party!”
“Ron, you don’t understand. I have to go, and I have to have a date.” Hermione pleaded. “If I don’t it could be bad for business relations-wise. Oh! And think about all the opportunities I’ll have to meet potential clients. Please, Ron? I’ll do whatever you want if you just go with me.”
“…Alright, I’ll go with you.”
“Oh, thanks, I really-”
“But only if you go with Harry and me to the championship Quiditch match.”
“You heard me.” Ron said with the hugest smile on his face.
“B-but, I absolutely hate Quiditch.”
“Ugh, you’re a menace Ronald Weasley.” Hermione grumbled. Ron laughed and wrapped his arms around her in a hug.
“Which of course is why you love me,”
Hermione spent the majority of her evening with Ron in his kitchen, sipping tea, eating whatever was in his fridge, and talking about current events. At around four, she left him to go into Hogsmeade in order to go look for her “formal attire” for Draco’s engagement party. She had five days to shop and decided that it would be better for her to start it now and get it over with.
To be honest, she thought it would be easy. Go into any shoppe, find a dress, try it on, and if she liked it, buy it and go home satisfied. Unfortunately, Hermione was going up and down Hogsmeade completely disappointed with what she was finding. There were dresses of course, but none of them shouted “high class.” None of them could mold her into Draco and Asteria’s world and it was frustrating Hermione to no end. Maybe this is a sign to not go? She thought at one point, and was just about to give up for the evening when she saw from a distance Asteria’s smiling face.
“Oh no, please don’t see me, please don’t see me.” She muttered as she turned to hide herself from view, but it was too late, and the miraculous woman strutted up to her.
“I didn’t expect to see you here today, Miss Granger.” Asteria said happily. “I’m beginning to think you love to be around me.”
“And you’d be wrong,” Hermione whispered to herself. “So, what brings you to Hogsmeade?”
“Just getting out for a bit of air… The Malfoy Manor can be so stuffy. And what about you..?”
“Oh, well I’m just looking for a formal dress for your engagement party.” She let slip. Hermione automatically put a hand to her mouth, but she was heard and could see Asteria’s facial expression change. Instead of smiling with glee, there was a sort of scowl turning into a smirk. Her eyes got firmer and narrower and her tone of voice went from annoyingly cheerful to inquisitively snobby.
“Oh yes,” Asteria started out as she playfully wrapped a light scarf around her neck. “That’s right, my darling fiancé invited you. How could I possibly forget..?”
“Yes, well, I’ll see you at the next counseling session. I have to-”
“What’s your hurry, Miss Granger?” She asked as she walked up to her and shockingly linked her arm with hers. “We can look for your dress together since I haven’t a thing to do!”
“Ah, well…I guess we could-”
“Excellent! I know exactly where we can go.”
Hermione inwardly grimaced as she felt the pull of apparation on her and soon found that she was somewhere different. Completely different she realized as Asteria let go of her arm and began to walk forward, obviously enjoying the new change in scenery.
“Asteria…exactly where are we?”
“The fashion capital of the world of course..!” She replied with a clap of her hands. “You could never get any better with Paris, darling, so, that’s the reason why we’re here.”
“Honestly, I think I can find my dress in Hogsmeade-”
“Not for a Malfoy gathering you can’t,”
Hermione cocked a brow. The deliciously evil woman smiled sardonically and even kicked in a laugh. Asteria shook her head, deciding to link arms with her again and began pulling her down the Parisian streets.
“Miss Granger, allow me to be blunt.” Asteria was telling her. “You may work with the crème de la crème, but you’re hardly a part of the crème de la crème, if you understand my meaning. Now, I don’t tell many people this, but I actually like you. In that retrospect I want to help you, so, voila! Paris for your dress,”
Should she take what was said to heart or shrug it off? Was Asteria truly trying to help her out or was there some devious plan underneath it all. Whatever it was, Hermione couldn’t run away from it. So, taking a deep breath, she allowed the princess to drag her into a shoppe at the end of the rue.
“Bonjour, bonjour..!” Asteria said as Hermione rolled her eyes out of embarrassment. Having taken trips to France with her parents many times, of course she got the gist of the language and the accent. Asteria on the other hand, made it sound like a screeching cat.
“Yes, how may I help you?” A woman who came out from behind a counter asked.
“We’re looking for a formal gown for an engagement party.”
“An engagement party you say? I’m sure I have some things that you will like. Follow me,”
Hermione nodded and followed the woman deeper into the shoppe, but not before having Asteria frown and whisper into her ear, “I wish she didn’t speak nearly perfect English. I wanted to practice my French speaking skills.” Hermione nodded sympathetically to her and thanked Merlin that the shoppe keeper knew English.
Hermione was checking her watch every five minutes to see if her day was almost over and every time she did, she found herself in yet another dress. First a broad-strapped lavender-color, then a yellow halter, then a red v-neck, and just about every color of the rainbow. Now she was stuck in what she called indigo, and wanted nothing more than to just blindly pick out a dress so Asteria could leave her alone.
“What about this one?” The shoppe keeper asked.
“I don’t know…” Asteria said slowly. “What do you think Miss Granger...?”
“I’m rather indecisive, but I honestly think that one I had on before was-”
“Miss, could you bring out the next one?” She interrupted and asked the woman. “Do turn around Miss Granger.”
Hermione grumbled and did what she asked. The only thing that was holding her back from screaming at her all of the things she’d been dying to say since day one was the fact that Asteria was a client. And as the saying went, “A client leads to another client,” and if that chain was destroyed, so would be her career.
“You know, I was very surprised to know that Draco had invited you to our engagement party.” Asteria told her. Hermione shrugged her shoulders as she turned back around.
“I figured he told you. He invited me a few days ago.”
“Why, might I ask?”
“How would I know?” Hermione asked with a small edge in her voice. She was starting to feel annoyed.
“I just thought you might. It seems as though you and my fiancée get along well. Quite well in fact-”
“I have to get going, Asteria, are we done here?”
Asteria shrugged her shoulders and waved a hand at her.
“As you like… Which one do you want?” She asked as she pointed to the two dresses that the shoppe keeper was holding up for them.
“The blue one on the right,”
“Le bleure,” Asteria said to the woman, who in turn gave her a quizzical look.
It took Hermione all her might not to laugh. Instead, she took a deep breath to suppress her giggles and said,
“Le bleu à la droite s’il vous plait…”
Hermione magically changed her clothes and had to fight yet another wave of laughter at the look on Asteria’s face which was a mixture of jealously and irritation.
“Summers in France as a child,” Hermione explained elegantly. “Maybe you should spend some summers here too. I’m sure it’ll help.”
Asteria overtly snarled and angrily began searching through her purse for her checkbook in order to pay for the dress.
“Merlin, why does it take so long for women to get dressed?”
“Why do men always complain? Aren’t you always happy with the end result?”
“’Mione, will you just come out already? I’ve been here for almost forty-five minutes.”
“Fine, fine, don’t get your knickers in a knot.” Hermione responded as she stepped out of her bedroom and in front of Ron. She was wearing a sapphire blue strapless dress that hugged her body tightly in order to see every curve. She laughed seeing how her best mate’s ears tinged a bit. “Glad that I took so long now..?”
“Uh hm,” was all Ron could say and Hermione grinned from ear to ear as the two of them apparated over to the Malfoy Manor.
Hermione for the most part was anxious. She had never really put any thought into what the engagement party would actually be like. As she and Ron followed the directions of multiple butlers and trailed a couple or two, she became skeptical and suddenly wanted to go back home. Looking ahead of her she saw people who she hadn’t seen in years, most of whom both she and Ron loathed and who loathed them right back.
“So why did I let you talk me into this again?” Ron asked her as he tried desperately to hide the looks of dislike he wanted to toss at various people.
“Because you love me and you’d hate to see me cry.” Hermione responded and heard him chuckle.
Once they hit the main room of the party, the two of them were amazed. It looked twice the size of the Great Hall at Hogwarts, draped with tables on along the wall they were facing which had tons of food, large French doors every few feet that led out onto a balcony, and flowers were decked everywhere imaginable.
“Miss Granger, welcome!”
“Brace yourself,” Hermione whispered to Ron as she pulled along the floor to Asteria who was waving to her. “’Evening Asteria, Draco,” She added, realizing that he was standing next to her. He gave a curt nod to her and then looked at Ron, a tad surprised and then cleared his throat.
“Weasley..? Humph, I was expecting Miss Granger here to bring Potter, no offense.” Draco said to him as he gracefully took a glass of champagne from off a passing a tray.
“Yeah, well, wouldn’t have been completely appropriate I expect. He’s married to my sister.”
“Draco, for Merlin’s sake, stop drinking the champagne!” Asteria hissed at him as he surprisingly downed all of the champagne in one large gulp.
“Why should I?” He smirked as he made the glass in his hand to disappear. “I suppose we should get going.”
“Yeah, us too,” Hermione told them. “We’ll-”
“Oh, no, you don’t understand. You’re coming with us.” Asteria said brightly. “You’re to sit with us among our select few, so come, come!”
Hermione looked to Ron who had a brow cocked.
“I know… She’s unbearable isn’t she?”
“Not really, I kind of like her.”
“Only you Ronald,” She sighed as they both followed the couple. “Only you,”
The evening didn’t go as bad as Hermione thought it was going to. The VIP table consisted of herself and Ron, Draco and Asteria, Blaise Zabini and his wife, Pansy Parkinson and her husband, and the parents of the soon-to-be bride and groom. She had to admit that she felt a bit weird sitting at the table with all of those people, and could feel eyes pouring over her and Ron like as if they were saying, “What on earth are they doing here?” When the small talk started, most of the questions were directed at her: how long have you been a wedding planner, do you like your job, and other questions of the like. Of course Pansy Parkinson had the audacity to ask if Hermione couldn’t find anything better to do with her life. Ron was ready to say something that would've more-than-likely gotten them thrown out, but Draco was quicker on the tongue and told Pansy that at least Hermione had a job and wasn’t living off of people. This brought the small talk to a close and Pansy and her husband leaving early.
Hermione was rather surprised that Draco said something. But then again, there was a good reason for that. He hadn’t stopped drinking champagne since the moment she and Ron arrived.
It was near midnight when Ron told her that he was going to find the restroom and then they could go. Hermione nodded and told him to find her out in the garden that she greatly admired. Most of the guests had already gone. She had only stayed because she was attempting to mingle in order to get a few more clients or at least spread the word that she was a wedding planner.
Out in the garden looked beautiful in the moonlight, and she found a nice bench to sit on and rest her feet which were aching her. She was about to slip off her shoes for a moment or two when she heard a rustle in the bushes behind her. Hermione stood on her feet and stared at the bushes until she let out a small shriek when she saw Draco’s face appearing from among them.
“Did I scare you?” He asked with a small giggle. Hermione gave a quizzical look and then shook her head. “Good,”
Draco pulled himself from the bunches of leaves and stumbled, but not falling completely, and then stood erect as he dusted twigs from off of him.
“Nice engagement party, right?” He said as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.
“Yeah, it was really good…” She told him uneasily. He was clearly drunk, and terribly enough, there was no one else in the garden, and she couldn’t just leave him in his current state. “Um, Draco, maybe you should go back inside?”
“Rather not, thanks. Those people are in there.”
“I really think that you should go inside the Manor-”
“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Draco asked her. He took his hands out of his pockets and ran them through his perfectly done hair. “Well, are you?!”
“No,” Hermione piped up with slight fright. She cautiously walked over to him and put her hands on his shoulders. “I’m trying to help you. You’re quite drunk, if you haven’t realized.”
Draco sighed and nodded, catching her by surprise by pulling her into a hug.
“I’m counting on you, Granger. You know that?” He let go of her and almost lost his footing. “You, you can help me.”
“Help you with what? Draco, you’re not making any sense. Come on, I’m taking you inside-”
“You don’t get it! I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to marry her.”
Hermione stared at him wordlessly. She shook her head for a moment as if she heard wrong. She definitely had heard wrong.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said calmly. “It’s just the alcohol in you.”
“You think so?” Draco chuckled. He draped an arm around her shoulders and laughed out loud. “You really think so? Granger, look me in the eyes and tell me that I’m lying.”
“Stop talking before someone hears you,”
Draco rolled his eyes and removed his arm. He stopped her from walking and made Hermione jump in surprise at the feel of his hands on her waist.
“Draco, what are you..?”
“Shh,” He said to her. “Let’s hope Asteria sees,”
Hermione had no time to pull away or even time to comprehend what was happening. A second after he finished talking Draco’s lips were on hers, and she was completely paralyzed. His kiss was soft and subtle. And when he slipped in his tongue, she could taste the champagne and was sure that she was getting drunk. Hermione pushed him away from her when he began stroking the back of her neck and stared at him wide-eyed. Draco didn’t look drunk anymore. He had hunger in his eyes and a smirk on his lips as he said,
“Do you think she saw?”
Hermione didn’t say a word. She turned away from him and headed back to the Manor as quickly as she could carry herself.
“Mr. Malfoy’s drunk and out in the garden.” She told a butler she saw on the way. “Notify his fiancée and put him to bed.”
The butler went on his way and Hermione wiped her mouth with the back of her hand as she headed to Ron who had been waiting.
author's note: wow, its been a while since i posted but here it is!!!! its a bit of a long one too so woot for me and i hope you guys like it!! plz remember to leave a review :)
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