Chapter 12 : Always You
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Malfoy looked up at the stairs and smiled a tight, polite smile at her. ‘Well, at least he is trying to be civil’ she thought and quickly resolved to do the same.
‘So, where is it we are going?’ Hermione asked as she reached the main door.
“Just a little place I know. It’s not too far. We’ll have to apparate I’m afraid.” He sounded forced and uncomfortable at the thought of having her touch him again. Hermione thought it was stupid. She smiled politely at him and placed her hand on his forearm. Once again the muscles tensed with the clenching of his fist. Again, she felt a small, unfamiliar shudder pass down her spine. She closed her eyes and felt herself be pressed up against him, as before. A split second later the squeezing sensation stopped and she dropped his arm. They were stood in a narrow back road which was dimly lit by candles in brackets that were screwed to the stone walls. In front of them stood a small restaurant. It had a black awning with gold lettering spelling out ‘Toi et Moi’. It had soft French music playing and each individual table had black silk table cloth with golden cutlery. It was beautiful, and obviously very expensive.
“It’s lovely Malfoy!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Yeah, well, what did you expect? Buffalo Grill?!” He retorted sarcastically, “Come on, lets get this over with.” He took her by the elbow and led her inside. A waiter met them as they came through the door.
“Bonsoir Madame et Monsieur. ‘Ave you booked?” He was exactly as you would imagine a French waiter to look; tall, with neat dark hair combed to perfection. He was dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and had deep, chocolaty brown eyes. Hermione almost giggled it was so storybook.
“Yes. A table for two, in the name of Malfoy.” He said.
“I see. Follow me.” And the waiter led them through to the back of the restaurant. It was a secluded table in the back corner of the room. Hermione wondered for a minute if Draco had arranged such an intimate table, but due to the fact that his face was as stony as she felt, she assumed not. “Zis is eet. Eef you ‘ave any problems, my name is Pierre and I will be your waiter zis evening. I will return to take your order.’
And then it was just them. The both sat down and, for something to occupy them, studied the menus hard. ‘My gosh!’ Hermione thought, ‘There is so much to choose from!’ They sat in silence for a few minutes until Pierre returned and took their order.
“And a bottle of your finest elf made wine.” Malfoy said, adding as an undertone “I think we might need it!”
“So…” Hermione started, feeling the need to break the awkward silence, “What exactly is it that we ought to be doing?”
“The Minister wants us to get to know each other in order to work with each other better. So how do you want to go about it?”
“You’re asking my opinion?!” Hermione said gob-smacked.
“Oh! Ok…well…why don’t we…um…we could….ask each other questions?” It was the only thing she could think of and even as it came out of her mouth she realised how pathetic it sounded. Malfoy smirked.
“Let’s do that. You go first.”
“Ok…um…” Hermione could not think of a single thing to ask him. “Um…What’s your favourite colour?”
Malfoy’s smirk widened. “Silver.”
“Figures!” Hermione scoffed.
“My turn.” Malfoy said smoothly, “What’s your middle name?”
“My middle name?! Why does it matter?”
“Just answer the question Granger!”
“Fine. Jean. And yours?”
“I don’t have one.”
“You don’t?!” Hermione said, shocked. “The high and mighty Malfoy does not have a middle name?!”
“No. And why is that so funny?” Malfoy replied perturbed.
“It’s just…someone as ‘prestigious’ as you, well, I expected some conceited name like…I don’t know! Hyperion or something!” Hermione laughed. It was the most stupid, over the top name she could think of, and one that she thought would have suited Malfoy perfectly.
“Well I don’t. My turn again.” He smirked. “Favourite childhood book?”
“Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll.”
“Interesting….” He mused.
“Interesting? Why so?” What on earth was interesting about her favourite book? Surely it was many people’s favourite book from when they were children?
“Because that is exactly what I would have answered.” Hermione was shocked. Firstly, that Draco Malfoy had read Muggle books as a child but also that his favourite was the same as hers. Seemingly oblivious to her surprise Malfoy looked at her and said “Your turn.”
“Come on Granger, you can be more inventive than that!”
“Ok, um…best grade at OWL?”
Malfoy laughed, “Why did I expect anything else?! Ok, potions.”
Hermione shook her head despairingly. Of course it had been potions. He had always been Snape’s favourite. Pierre arrived with their food, and drink, which broke off their questioning for a few minutes. They were silent as they ate; digesting the information they had already given each other. After the meal was finished they sat finishing their wine.
“Ok, Malfoy. It’s your turn.” He grinned slyly at her. It was a little unnerving; she was so unused to seeing him smile. It made him seem less harsh somehow.
“Alright…let’s make this a bit more interesting. If you are surprised by the answer given, you must take a drink of wine. Got it?” Hermione nodded, slightly apprehensive as she had been surprised at most of the former answers. Not wanting to seem a coward she nodded again to emphasise her point. “Right. First kiss?”
Hermione mumbled something Malfoy could not hear. “What? I didn’t hear that!”
“Victor Krum.” She said slightly louder, a pink blush rose in her cheeks. Malfoy didn’t drink. “You didn’t drink!”
“Nope, because I’m not surprised. That’s nothing compared to the rumours that were going round at the time!” Hermione’s blush deepened. Malfoy chuckled. It was a sound that surprised Hermione. It was a sound she hadn’t heard in a long time.
“How dare….! Fine! And yours?”
“Ha ha! Pansy, fifth year.” Hermione drank. “You drank?!”
“Fifth year?! Ha ha!” Hermione laughed. She could feel the drink going to her head, but she didn’t mind. She was actually having a good time. “Ok, next question!”
“You’re getting into this aren’t you?!” Malfoy laughed. “Alright, best night of your life?”
“It’s going to sound weird.” Hermione was shy again. “It was the night of the Final Fight.”
Malfoy went quiet. He had a hard edge to his voice. “What?”
“It was dreadful. The worst night of my life, but also the most incredible.” She laughed softly to herself, “It was the night I realised that Ron loved. For the first time it felt real.”
Malfoy looked down at the table and took a drink of wine.
“You drank?” Hermione questioned softly.
“I would have drunk at anything. I had no idea. And I definitely would not have guessed that!” He took a longer drink this time. “Come on! Let’s go and have a drink else where!”
“But…what?!” That took Hermione by surprise. She had fully expected to hate this evening and was actually having fun…with Malfoy! She nodded impulsively. Laughing care freely, she followed Malfoy out of the restaurant and along the cobbled street. Malfoy walked along and down another side alley. Hermione was not far behind, running slightly to catch up with him.
“Where are we going?!” she called after him, giggling.
“You’ll see!” He replied, waving a hand nonchalantly towards her. He was enjoying this evening, despite his original reservations about it. A combination of the drink and feeling of freedom being in another country allows had made them revert back to how they had been many years ago. It had been after the war ended. They had both gone back to Hogwarts to finish their NEWTS; they only ones to do so from their year. It was awkward to begin with but by the end of the year, they had developed a sort of mutual respect for each other. It was a shame. As soon as they left things went back to as they had been before. He left the country, came here in fact, and lived away from those who knew of his experiences, his disappointments. And tonight reminded him of that one, glorious year when the habit of horridness was broken and life became simpler.
They had now reached another small door. It had a thick, blood red curtain and a wizard dressed in scarlet and black dress robes. His tall, broad stature blocked almost the whole door way. Noting that they had been speaking in English, he said “You ‘ave identification?”
Malfoy passed over his wand and motioned to Hermione to do the same. The wizard on the door gave them each a flick and, with a muttered incantation, their age appeared from the end, connected with a smoky thread.
“Fine. You may enter.” Hermione turned to Malfoy, who nodded and showed her the way with a gentlemanly arm. Smiling in thanks she passed the burly Watch Wizard and entered the first chamber of the Magical Nightclub. It was huge, with low ceilings and sultry lighting. Red drapes like the one on the door covered the walls and loud music with a heavy bass line played. Hermione recognised it as a Weird Sisters song and the lyrics washed over her as she stood and took everything in. Malfoy laughed as he passed her, taking her elbow and leading her through a side door. The room into which they went was similar in décor to the one they had just left, but the loud, pumping music was replaced with smooth jazz and there were soft, burgundy red sofas and chairs placed around the parameter of the room. A circular bar was in the centre. This room was less crowded and Malfoy strode towards two seats at the bar, his beacon of blonde hair visible even in the half light.
“Some Firewhisky shots please, good sir!” he ordered. A row of six was placed in from of him. He grinned mischievously at Hermione. She eyed the shots warily. Firewhisky and Hermione did not mix particularly well. In fact, the last time she had done shots was in very similar company…that turned out in a way she would rather forget. A way she had to forget. “Oh come on! Lighten up Granger! It’s just a bit of fun!”
“That is what you said last time.”
“Yes…well…”Malfoy looked slightly put out, “That was last time. And this is now!”
“I suppose…” She still wasn’t convinced.
“Good! Your turn!” Malfoy slid a shot glass towards her. She caught it as deftly as she could. A small amount spilt over her hand. Slightly embarrassed, she licked it off self consciously and giggled.
“Um…Blonde or brunette?” she asked coyly.
“Brunette every time.” Hermione drank her shot. “Really? You thought I’d go blonde?”
“Yeah!” Hermione said
“Don’t you think I’ve had enough of blondes to last me a lifetime?! I mean, look at my father, and mother…me!” He laughed and drained a shot.
“Hey! You weren’t surprised by anything! That’s against the rules!”
“Rules, schmules!” Malfoy said, “Do you ever do anything impulsive?”
“Well I’m doing this aren’t I?!”
“True, true!” He laughed, “Right, my turn! Brains or brawn?”
“Brains.” Malfoy didn’t drink. “I guess that was slightly predictable!”
Malfoy nodded, “Yeah, just a little!”
They both laughed.
“Go on, I dare you!” Malfoy pointed to the remaining shots. Hermione took one and downed it. She could feel the fire going down her throat. It warmed her from inside. She could feel the alcohol induced stupor clouding her mind. Every thing had become fuzzy and comfortable. She felt more alive than she had in a long time. Things were exciting tonight, she felt as if anything was possible. Malfoy drank another just to catch up.
“Alright…that was a boring answer! You can have another go.”
“Ok…best…ever…” he leant forward until his forehead was only an inch or so away from her, “…kiss.”
Hermione went quiet. She tried to look away from him, but they were so close it was hard to avoid his intense grey eyes. She looked up from under her thick black lashes at him.
“You.” She whispered. “Always you.”
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