Chapter 16 : Matters of the Heart
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 18|
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Much to Draco's surprise Ron had started hanging out in the same room as the couple. Though he wasn't exactly warming up to the idea of Hermione and Draco's relationship, he seemed to have finally been able to pull himself together and rise above 'pathetically desperate' and be sitting cushily on 'regrettably accepting'.
With Christmas nearing, the students had been delighted at the sight of the first snow of the season. Teachers began piling on the work load as they always seemed to do just around the winter holidays, but this was the first year that Draco was reveling and participating in the high spirits of his peers.
Presently, he was leading Hermione by the hand towards the Black Lake to watch the people who dared to skate on it's frozen top. It was lightly flurrying, snowflakes catching on his dark wool coat and sticking to Hermione's curls. Her nose was slightly pink, matching the color on the apples of her cheeks. She had the appearance of a child, young and innocent, eyes bright and wide as the snow swirled around her.
"What are you smiling about?" she asked him curiously, noticing the slight smile that was tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"Oh nothing," He answered
"Tell me," she urged, her inquisitive nature taking hold.
Draco, still holding her hand, started walking backwards. He looked at her for a moment, the edges of his mouth still slightly upturned. "You just look pretty," he told her simply, before turning back to face front.
Hermione blushed, though she knew he didn't see it. With the lake in view, she became excited. "Are we skating?"
"Most definitely not."
"Why not? C'mon, it's fun!" Hermione said, trying to persuade him.
"Then what are we doing here?"
Draco pulled her to him, throwing his arm around her shoulders. "I thought we'd watch," he said, planting a kiss in her hairline. "Besides, the ice is barely thick enough. Someone is bound to fall in and I'm not going to let that someone be you," he confessed, tightening his hold on her. Despite her disappointment, she smiled at his caution and snuggled into his chest.
Hermione thought she was keeping up with her work well. It was true that the quality had been a bit lower than her normal standards, but still she got it done on time and received top marks as per usual.
Taking a glance at the grandfather clock that sat proudly in the corner of the common room, she saw that she still had a few minutes before she was to meet Draco. She began to think about him, still marveling at their history and how it had made a complete three-sixty from first year. If someone had told her then that she would be romantically involved with Draco Malfoy she would have sent them straight to Madam Pomfrey to get their heads checked. How things change...
The lust that fueled the first weeks of their illicit affair was quickly subsiding and in it's place Hermione could feel a stronger bond taking root. Maybe it was all the time they spent in each other's company, or maybe it was the things he said and did, or maybe it was a combination of all three. Hermione couldn't really say. Everything was perfect, she didn't want to question it. And though it was fast moving, she could feel herself falling for him.
Hermione looked to the clock again. She still had a few minutes before their rendezvous, but resolved to heading out early. Strolling down to the Room of Requirement, she wondered what he had planned for them that evening. She assumed that they would be missing supper, it was due to start in a little less than a half hour, and she doubted that whatever he had arranged would be finished in enough time to eat in the Great Hall. If she knew one thing about Draco, it was that his scheming was extravagant, and he left no detail untouched.
The girl rounded the corner and was surprised to see the object of her affection leaning with his back against the cold stone.
"Ah, you're early." Draco pushed off the wall to greet her properly with a quick peck. "If you would follow me." He stuck his arm out for her to grasp, leading her through the door in the wall.
The room looked much like the one they shared their first official date, equipped with a hardwood floor to dance on and a record player. In front of the fireplace was an animal skin rug, a covered woven basket perched in the middle.
"This is nice." Hermione smiled up at the boy next to her, planting a small kiss on his lips.
"You're not hungry just yet, are you?" he asked, taking her hand in his.
"Because my dear," he said, leading her to the center of the room, "I'm going to teach you how to dance." Draco twirled her easily before pulling her into him. With a flick of his wand a record began to play, filling the room with sweet music.
"I know how. We've done it before," Hermione reminded him.
"Yes, which is precisely why we're doing it again. You were rubbish the first time." Draco chuckled at her affronted expression and pulled her closer to him. He placed one hand on the small on her back, the other clutching her hand tightly. He began to lead them in a simple step, Hermione following him immediately despite her apparent reluctance.
"Well sorry, we can't all be as perfect as you," she muttered.
"Said the 'brightest witch of our age.'"
"You're right, at least I know I'm smarter than you. My O.W.L.s proved that," she teased him, a look of pure amusement on her face.
Draco pulled them in a circle before answering her. "Then I guess with my charm, wit, skills in everything deemed classy, my devilish good looks and you with your brilliant mind, we make the perfect couple."
"Sounds to me like I got the short end of the stick," Hermione said flatly before sighing dramatically. "I suppose I'm nothing but the brains behind the brawn."
Draco stopped twirling them and looked straight at the girl in his arms. His voice was firm, expression serious as he spoke. "You're more than that. You make up my entire world, Hermione. Don't ever think anything less of yourself." He pulled their interlocking fingers to his lips and placed a loving kiss on her hand, staring unwavering into her golden brown eyes.
Hermione said nothing in response, but pulled his body tighter to hers, and rested her chin on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply, his scent filling her up. If she could live in this moment forever, she would.
The fire blazed in it's hearth, crackling loudly in the silence, shadows dancing wildly on the red and gold walls. Ron stared into it, his blue eyes looking but not really seeing. Ginny and Harry were on the couch opposite him, both minding themselves though sitting entangled in each others arms. Ron cut his gaze to them, silently watching them be. Ginny was scribbling away, her quill dashing across the parchment on her knees, leaving a shining row of black, while Harry flipped through a notebook, reading over plays and tactics for Quidditch. His sister has her back pressed against Harry's side, using him as a support. Harry's arm was draped around her neck and shoulders, the fingers on his hand playing idly with a strand of her red hair. They did not look at each other, instead keeping their eyes trained on the tasks before them.
"Do you think they're in love?" Ginny and Harry both looked up at Ron, who was gazing into the fire again. "They act just the way you two do, sitting in silence, comfortable to each do their own thing as long as they're together."
"Ron," Ginny said softly. She thought he had gotten over his loss to Draco. Harry shook his head subtly, and inclined it towards the girls staircase, silently asking her for alone time with his best friend. With an understanding gaze, Ginny gathered her belongings and exited to her room.
Harry closed the notebook and placed it on the low table in front of him. "I don't know if they are." His voice was sympathetic and honest.
"It looks like they could be. I've seen it enough now where I think I can tell; there's mum and dad, and Bill and Fleur, there was Percy and Penelope, and now you and Ginny. You may not have said it yet, but I know it's there, I see it. I can't tell with Hermione and Malfoy though."
"Ron, I thought you had... well, accepted them. Do you really think it's best that you think about if they love each other?" Harry tried to be as tender as he could, not wanting to upset Ron further.
Ron looked at Harry then though his face was expressionless. "I have accepted it. I just wonder sometimes. I think it would make it easier if I knew." Ron returned his blue orbs to the hissing flames.
Harry sighed inaudibly as he considered his friend. The things he had said were floating around in his head, and he too wondered if Hermione and Draco were in love. But if what Ron had said were true, about them appearing to be just like himself and Ginny, then they very well could be.
it's a bit fluffy, i know, but i can't very well continue with the story without some sort of development in the relationship, can i? reviews are love people, send some my way :D
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