Hermione led her friend over to the large bookstore on the left-hand side of the Alley and they walked through the doors and into her paradise. This was where she felt at home, this was where she knew she was safe. Nestled amongst a thousand books she felt comfortable and at home. One of the first things that she had done when the war was over was to grab a book and start to read.
The shop was relatively quiet, Wednesday mornings not being peak times and June being too far away from school to have students buying their books. Hermione beamed at the thought of Hogwarts. They were all going back that year. Everyone was re-taking the year they had missed out on. It meant that Ginny was re-sitting sixth year and her, Ron and Harry were taking their seventh year.
Hermione wondered how the school would accommodate double the amount of first years (the previous first years and the new first years). She had voiced her concerns to Ron one evening but he had told her not to worry about school, ‘it’s June for Merlin’s sake’ and to wait and see until they got there. Hermione was quite surprised to find out that Harry and Ron where returning, thinking that they would want to start their careers as soon as they could but Harry had agreed with her stating that there might be things that the seventh year needed to teach them. He had managed to coax a reluctant Ron into doing the same.
She ran her finger along the leather bound volumes of one of the shelves inspecting the titles as she went.
“Mione how long is this going to take?” Ginny moaned. Hermione rolled her eyes, they hadn’t even been in the shop for two minutes and the girl was already moaning.
“It will take as long as it takes” she said, not taking her eyes from the books.
“What exactly are you looking for?”
“A book on Voldemort written by Alexander Shaw and a book on Harry by Gemma Rosen.” Ginny stared at her shocked.
“Why on earth do you want them, Hermione you know Harry’s story inside out and you know almost everything you need to know about Voldemort!”
“I don’t want to explain it all now but it’s important.” Gunny let out a loud tut and Hermione swivelled to face her friend but just as she was about to say something to her the tinkling bell of the shop sounded and in floated a familiar blonde.
“Oh, hello Hermione, Ginny,” the girl said, her voice seeming to flitter through the air.
“Luna!” Ginny cried, “how have you been.”
“Very well thank you, I see you both have recovered.” She looked around the shop, “Daddy sent me to collect a book on sightings of the Crumple-Horned Snorkack.” She waltzed past Hermione picked a book off the shelf and paid the witch at the desk. Glancing at Ginny Hermione saw her raise her eyebrows. Luna was back in a matter of seconds.
“All finished,” she said, a dreamy smile appearing on her face, “I’m going to get an ice-cream, do you want to come?”
“See Mione, that is how you book shop!” Ginny pointed out.
“Ginny would love to go with you,” Hermione said smiling at her friend, “I have some things I need to pick up first.”
“Oh that would be lovely, shall we go Ginny?”
“I…” Ginny started but Hermione cut her off.
“You are just going to get bored and moan. Go with Luna and I’ll meet you outside George’s shop in an hour.”
The red headed girl nodded and left the shop with Luna, who had begun talking about how her father had found a rare fairy ring in their garden.
Finally Hermione was left in peace. The first time she had had time to herself for a while. If she wasn’t with Ginny then she was almost definitely with Ron and if on the rare occasion she wasn’t with either she would be with Harry. It wasn’t that she didn’t like being with them, she did, but it was nice to be alone for once. She scanned along the shelves and pulled out the two books she needed, placing it in one of the wooden baskets that came floating up to her the moment it spotted the two books in her hands.
It floated after her as she walked around to the middle of the shop and picked up two books, both by Marie Hodgeson. One held simple everyday spells that they never learnt at school (and Hermione felt she needed to know) and one about the subject she had devoted her life to, extremely advanced spells to fight the Dark Arts. Hermione knew that none of them had ever come across books like these and she thought that she could study them and maybe convince Harry to start up the DA again. She knew that the threat of Umbridge and Voldemort had been eradicated but there were still other dark wizards out there for them to overcome.
She placed them both in the basket and then moved over to the fiction section. She could do with a good book to get lost in, one that she didn’t need to learn anything from.
Hermione ran her fingers along the spines until she landed on a set of four books about a witch who brewed a love potion to get the man she loved to fall for her. She placed them in her basket and the turned the corner. As soon as she had, she stepped back around it. She had just moved into a group of bookshelves that formed themselves to make it seem as though you had come into a separate room. It was closed off and secluded and there wasn’t a lot of space and standing with his back to the small entrance and skimming through a thin book was Draco Malfoy.
At first it was confusion that flashed through her mind. Draco, the pureblood, muggle hating wizard was standing by a group of shelves that held nothing but muggle fiction. She peered back around the shelf and tried to catch a glimpse of what he was reading but she couldn’t see it so she pulled herself back and closed her eyes, trying to regulate her breathing. Why was Malfoy in that section? She didn’t quite understand it. Then her common sense hit her, pushing her previous question from her mind and replacing it with a new one. Why on earth was she hiding from Malfoy? It’s not like he held anything over her anymore. She had looked him in the eye in the courtroom and not flinched so why should she hide from him now. She wanted to look through the muggle fiction so she would whether Malfoy was there or not.
Her heart swelling with new-found confidence she straightened up and beckoned the basket to follow her into the small alcove. She tried not to look at him as she stood a few feet from him and looked over the bookshelves but she couldn’t help but steal a small glance. As she did she noted the title of the book he held in his hands. Hamlet. Malfoy was reading Shakespeare? She glanced back at the shelf in front of her and tried hard to concentrate on the books.
Jane Eyre, she had that, it was in her trunk. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Rebecca, all at the Burrow. She picked up a volume she had been meaning to read for a while, Wuthering Heights. Now she just needed one more book to make it an even ten. She slid it from the shelf and chanced another glance at Malfoy as she placed it into the basket. He had placed Hamlet in his own basket and was now skimming through Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet, she had always want to read that but she didn’t know how she was going to get a copy when Malfoy was standing right in front of them.
She moved a little closer pretending to look at other books. He looked up at her and she was sure he was going to say something. Instead he looked back down at the book and continued to read as if he hadn’t seen her. Hermione had to stop herself from letting her jaw drop on the floor. When had Malfoy ever come face to face with her and not mentioned something about her being a mudblood. Something was seriously wrong here and she couldn’t help but gape at the man who stood before her.
“Granger if you are going to stare can you at least make it less obvious.” His voice startled her and a red blush fell over her cheeks. She mumbled that she just wanted a book and leaned over to grab a copy of Romeo and Juliet. She stopped when she saw that there weren’t any left. Leaning back she glanced at the shelf then back at Malfoy.
“What was it you wanted?” he asked.
“Oh Romeo and Juliet, but it’s ok, you’ve got the last one…” she trailed off as he handed it to her. She pushed his hands away telling him that he had it first.
“Suit yourself,” he shrugged and went back to reading.
Hermione shook her head and took out the list that was in her jean pocket. Two books on Harry and Voldemort, check. Two books by Marie Hodgeson, check. Wizard fiction, check. Muggle fiction, check.
“Now all I need is a notebook and a quill,” she mumbled to herself.
“Pardon?” Malfoy said looking up at her. Hermione wasn’t sure what it was but when his grey eyes met hers her heart skipped a beat and she stopped breathing for a split second. He seemed to have noticed the effect he had on because seconds later an all too familiar smirk crept up onto his face.
“Erm, Notebook, I need a notebook and quill,” she said. Malfoy looked back down to his book and shook his head, still smirking.
Hermione turned around and began to walk away from the shelves. She got to the entrance of the little alcove and spun back around suddenly.
“What’s your game Malfoy?” she snapped.
“I have no idea what you are talking about Granger,” he said not looking up from the book.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about. The Politeness, the fact that you have not once called me a mudblood. Where is the Draco Malfoy that has been calling me names for seven years?”
“You shouldn’t believe everything you see on the surface Granger,” he replied.
Hermione gaped at him and then grumbled under her breath and stormed towards the desk where she instantly paid for all her books.
She didn’t realise what was standing outside of the shop when she stormed out of the doors still angry from her encounter with Malfoy. She didn’t understand his behaviour at all. It wasn’t until cameras started flashing that she realised. The reporters had found her. She tried to get away from them but they barred her way from the shop and pushed microphones in her face asking for a statement about her and Ron’s relationship and if Harry was jealous. The strings on her bags cut into her hands as she tried to keep hold of them and get past the reporters. Before she could push her way through something grabbed hold of the bags and then her waist, spinning her on the spot and apperating her out of the way of the reporters.
Hermione landed with a thud on the dark wooden floor of a shop. She looked up and saw a smug Draco Malfoy staring down at her.
“Malfoy what the hell was that!” she yelled at him, causing the people in the shop to stop what they were doing at stare at the pair.
“Shesh Granger, I saved you from all those reporters and the first thing you do is yell at me. I was expecting a thank you.” Hermione scoffed and glanced at the bags in Malfoy’s hand.
“And I’ll have my books back thank you!”
“Gladly. What did you do, buy the entire bookshop?” he said with a smirk, handing them over. The weight caused Hermione to topple slightly but once she had righted herself she glanced around.
“Where exactly have you brought me?” she asked.
“You said you needed a notebook and a quill.” He waved his hand out in front of him and Hermione took in what she was seeing.
They were standing in a rather small rather pretty stationary shop. She walked over to one of the small tables and picked up a blue, roll bound notebook. Next to it lay a pretty blue peacock feather quill. She took them in her hands and looked around the shop. She spotted a large purple notebook that would be perfect for what she needed and a white owl feather quill. She paid for the items quickly, without saying one word to Malfoy.
He broke the silence before she did.
“So your dating the weasel then?” he asked as they stood by the counter waiting for the witch to scan her items with her wand.
“Yes, I am, what’s it to you?” she snapped.
“I’m surprised it’s finally happened that’s all, I thought you would have moved on from him by now.”
“I have done nothing of the sort,” Hermione said, “and for your information we are very happy together.” Malfoy didn’t say anything to the comment and she wasn’t sure why she had said it in the first place.
He led her from the shop and they came out into a narrow ally that, when Hermione glanced to her left, looked as if it came off the main street. Malfoy pointed her in the right direction then went to walk to opposite way.
“Wait,” she called to him.
“Yes?” he replied.
“I-I don’t understand. Why…”
“Don’t think about it Granger and then there will be nothing to understand. I’ve had dealings with the papers before, I know what it’s like.” Without another word he span around and walked off from her leaving Hermione lost for words.
Hermione didn’t tell the others what had happened between her and Malfoy, not only did she not understand it herself she didn’t think the others would be too pleased with the idea. As soon as she had got home she had unpacked her books in her new trunk, a trunk that Harry said reminded him of Barty Crouch jnr’s trunk. There were five keyholes and with each key it was as if you opened a separate trunk. She had one for clothes, one for school things, one for books and one for everything else. The fifth was empty. The trunk was slightly larger on the inside than on the outside and so Hermione had more than enough room for everything she owned.
That night she sat curled up in an armchair with Ron by the fire. He stroked her hand with his thumb as he leant his head against hers. He Harry and Ginny were having a conversation about Quidditch as Mrs Weasley sat by the fire knitting and Mr Weasley read the paper. Hermione wasn’t paying attention, she was too lost in thoughts about Draco Malfoy and why he acted the way he had. It was so out of character for him, so not…well so not Malfoy. The only explanation she could come up with was that he was turning over a new leaf now that his father was in jail. It was a good explanation but something nagged in her gut telling her that there was more to this guy than there seemed.
A sharp tapping at the window broke Hermione out of her daydreaming and everyone in the room looked around to see a magnificent white owl trying to get through the window. Mr Weasley rose from his chair and opened the window to let in.
“Who is writing at this time of night?” Mrs Weasley asked glancing at the clock that read eleven.
The owl hopped into the room and landed on the chair right next to Hermione. Confused she untied the package that was tied to its leg. As soon as she had removed it the owl hopped away and flew out of the window. She looked at the address.
It had been written in blue ink, the hand that had written it had made the g of her name swirl around itself. She ripped off the brown paper and let out a small gasp. In her hands lay a copy of Romeo and Juliet. The exact same copy that Draco had offered her in the bookstore.
“Mione are you ok?” Ginny asked. Hermione just nodded slowly.
“You dropped something,” Harry said stretching out a hand and picking up a small piece of paper from the floor.
“It’s a note.” Hermione grabbed it out of her friend’s hand and read through the same elegant script that had written the address.