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Chapter 1. Kissing Pavement
While taking a large sip of my drink, I turned my head to answer.
I almost fell off the barstool, making me choke on my drink. I started coughing alcoholic beverage all over my new dress, and I was powerless to stop it. My eyes were running as I tried to calm the urge to cough up my last meal as well.
Since I was inable to answer, the person who caused the riot tried to clean up some of the mess I'd made.
«Sorry,» I choked out, and dried away the tears on my face. I couldn't believe my eyes when they finally cleared up. «Draco?»
He smiled down at me, his blue eyes glittering like diamonds. The smirk that had haunted his face for all the years I had known him was replaced by a genuine smile – this stunned me even more.
«So... Can I sit, or will I be in the danger-zone if I do?»
I couldn't help smiling back at him, and moved my jacket from the barstool beside me.
On my other side I could hear someone coughing loudly, and I turned my head only to realize that Martin was trying to get my attention.
«Oh! That's right! Erm, Draco this is my fiance Martin. Martin, this is... an old classmate of mine.»
They shook hands, and before I knew it they started discussing the football game that was playing on a big screen above their heads.
Not being able to help myself, I stared at Draco. The sleek hair had been improved by shortening it, sure it looked better than the sleek, yet I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. Either way, I felt a shocking urge to run my fingers through it, but I kept my hands safely in my own lap.
It don't think it's socially acceptable to grab someone's hair all of a sudden. At least not if that someone was Draco Malfoy.
His clothes were (according to the muggles' fashion magazines I'd read at the dentists' or hairdressers') classic and fashion-forward. And they fit his muscular body like they'd been made for him.
I know that it's an inappropriate thing to think, but: damn, Malfoy, you clean up good.
Surprised at the way my eyes kept wandering up and down Draco's body like a piece of meat, I mentally slapped myself in order to stop.
Trying to get my intoxicated mind away from the blonde beside me, I looked around the bar.
And apparently every female in the room were struggling with the exact same problem.
The moment they saw Draco they automatically arched their back, licked their lips and batted their eyelashes. Even women twice my age were either staring at him, or sending me jealous glares. I couldn't help feeling a bit smug about the fact that I was the one who actually knew him.
Take that, you bloody cougars.
Actually, not counting the fact that women were still fawning over him (they'd actually had the tendency to do that back in our Hogwarts days as well), it was very odd to see him so out of his element. But then again, what did I know of his elements anymore? I mean, I had heard several stories about him - about of his life after the war and how he'd changed so dramatically. So I seriously doubted that he still went about cursing random people on the street, just for the fun of it.
The thought made me giggle, and it, surprisingly, caught the boys' attention. Martin frowned, but Draco started grinning himself when he saw my expression.
As if on cue, the both of us burst out laughing, even though nothing was said by anyone.
«What's so funny?»
Martin was sick of feeling left out, and his frown was growing deeper by the second.
«I'm so sorry, Mart-» I started, but my body wasn't finished laughing, and looking at my fiance's sour expression, plus an unknown amount of alcohol, made me laugh harder than ever. Draco joined in, and the sight of the two of us laughing at something that Martin obviously wasn't privy to made him even more annoyed.
«You two seem to have a lot of catching up to do, so I'm going to Joe's. Don't wait up.»
He grabbed his coat, and before I even had the chance to turn my head he was slamming the door behind him. For a moment I just stared at the door he'd just vanished through, contemplating whether to follow him or not. Martin wasn't one for dramatic exits, and I felt guilty about excluding him, even if it hadn't been intentional. But I also knew that when he was in one of his moods it was best to leave him alone, and I decided to do just that. I'd apologize later.
Martin leaving sobered up the two of us who remained seated, and Draco used this moment to get the bartender's attention and ordered us some drinks.
«So, you're engaged?» He asked while paying, and then pushed one of the drinks toward me.
«Thank you. Yes, I am.»
«With a Muggle? Does he know about you?»
The bartender put a bowl of peanuts in front of us, and Draco started throwing them into the air and catching them in his mouth.
«Yes, with a Muggle, and no, he doesn't know.»
Each time he caught a peanut he smiled proudly, almost expecting an applause.
«Why doesn't he know that you're a wit-»
«Shush!» I hissed and looked around.
«You've got to relax,» he stated while grabbing a handful of peanuts. «And to tell you the truth, I always thought you and Weasley would hook up.»
I took a long swig of the drink in front of me, before turning to him.
«Not that it's any of you business, but we did
«Let me guess, it didn't work out?»
Between peanuts being thrown in the air, he flashed me a brillant smile, and for a second all air left my lungs. I nodded in response. I was not about to delve deeper into the subject of my failed relationship with Ron, so I quickly changed the topic.
«And what about you? Anyone special in your li-»
«Yeah, that's what I thought,» Draco interrupted. «Relationships between friends rarely work out.» After this he shot me a 'you-should-know-that' look.
«You didn't answer my question.»
I refused to continue with this conversation, and when I reached for my drink(having to give my hands something to do) I discovered it was empty. Without hesitation Draco waved at the bartender and ordered me another one.
«Are you engaged? Married? Have a girlfriend?...Or a boyfriend?»
I concealed a smile when he choked on the peanut he had just caught, and then stared at me with watering eyes while coughing.
«I don't like blokes. I like women – loads of women! Okay, maybe not loads, but you know what I mean, right?»
«I'm not sure I do, Draco.»
I was having a really hard time not to laugh, and I hid my face behind my drink, trying to keep my face from cracking into a grin.
«Well, I, you know. I don't have anything against them, I just don't like-, I'm not into... that, but.... Okay, now I'm sweating!» He grabbed a napkin and started dabbing his forehead. «...You're enjoying this, aren't you?»
His diamond-eyes were glittering at me with an accusing look.
«You have no idea.»
The drinks went down fast and easy, and Draco's chair drew nearer and nearer. I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed this much. My shoulders were lighter, my chest felt warmer and I had a constant smile on my face. My cheeks literally hurt from all the smiling I'd been doing.
«Believe it or not, but words of your adventures has reached us here in old London,» I admitted as I chewed on my straw.
«I always suspected Potter to be a gossip,» Draco said jokingly while smiling. «I bet he's told you some real nice stories?»
«Mainly.» I smiled back - it was impossible not to.
«Then I bet they're mainly
rumors.» Had those eyes always sparkled like that? «After all, I never really saw Potter more than once or twice, even though he was my boss - I was mostly on the move. So you really shouldn't believe everything he tells you.»
He slurred slightly, but in my ears he made perfect sense.
«I have to admit, some of them are quite unrealistic, but seeing you now...» I trailed off. «Lets, just say that I would never have imagined such a difference.»
«Do you mean my hair? It'll take some getting used to, but you'll like it eventually.»
I laughed again for the hundredth time that evening.
«No! I mean... You'd never be caught dead in a Muggle-pub, in Muggle-clothes, paying with Muggle-money - and talking with a Mudblood, on top of it all.»
«Yeah,» he said gravely and nodded, I could see his face harden. «I was pretty bad, wasn't I?» He murmured while pouring the last content of his beer down his throat.
«Well, yes, you sort of were.» Without looking at him I noticed how the air about him changed. He let out a long sigh. «But if anyone's managed to redeem themselves after...» I cleared my throat before continuing, «you know... Then it's you, Draco.»
«Really?» His smile lit up his entire face, and I felt butterflies swarming in my stomach, a feeling I hadn't experienced since my teenage years. I swallowed hard before answering him.
I collected my thoughs before continuing.
«You've spent the last years traveling around the world, tracking down every Death Eater that were a threat to the Wizarding World by still supporting the ideas of Voldemort.» I paused for a second. «Even though you used to be one of the, pardon the expression, 'bad guys', you turned out to be the most well-respected Auror of the Magical community.» Draco looked right into my eyes, and I felt my heart leap into a frenzy. «It's really admirable...» I whispered.
most well-respected. You're forgetting Potter.» He winked at me as he smiled teasingly.
«Maybe even third
, you know, counting Ron,» I teased back.
«Nah, I have Weasley beat. Easy,» he retorted with a cheeky grin, and bought himself another beer.
«Ah, of course,» I chuckled.
There was a long pause where neither one of us said anything - we simply looked at each other, grinning and drinking.
Music had taken the place of angry football chants, and the pub was suddenly full of people.
«Hermione?» Draco leaned closer and gently took my hand.
«Yes?» His fingers were rough and warm, and it felt like my small hand would disappear within his. My pulse quickened and my head began spinning. Some would have told me it was the alcohol making me feel this way, I knew better though. But Merlin knows I tried to deny it.
He didn't say anything yet, and the air between us was cracking with electricity. Heartbeats filled my head, and my fingers automatically closed around his.
«Do you..» He smiled and rose to his feet. «Do you want to dance?»
I didn't move. Just looking into his eyes made me dizzy, so standing up and moving did not seem like a good idea at the moment.
«Please?» Even though the movement was small, he had all my focus, so when he slowly raised my hand to his lips, my insides were burning. The meeting between lips and skin could just as well have been an explosion – for me it really was.
Without taking my eyes from his, he led me onto the dancefloor. The thumping of my heart drowned out the rythm of the song and I barely registered the moving crowd, but none of this mattered. Because in that moment, before I even had the chance to draw my breath, Draco's arms were around me.
Sweet lord, when had he grown himself these muscles? I regarded Martin as fit, but Draco had him beat by far. The comparison was on the verge of inappropriate and I tried to stop thinking about it.
try ignoring a pair of firm arms around you... Needless to say, I wasn't very successful.
Our bodies were swaying to the music, and suddenly I felt seventeen again. Young, full of hopes and dreams, and having the knowledge that I could be, do and have anything I wanted.
Draco never took his eyes from mine, and I didn't have the strength, nor the desire, to look away - it felt too good.
«Do you miss it?» I whispered.
«Do I miss what?»
«Being young.» I was surprised to see that Draco started chuckling.
young. Do I look like an old man to you?» His eyes glittered teasingly down at me.
«I meant not having to worry, just going to school every day, knowing what you wanted out of life, and -» Draco's grin widened. This annoyed me and I stamped my foot on the ground. It did not match with the beat of the music – and probably looked dumb -, it also made Draco laugh loudly.
«I'm trying to be serious here, Malfoy!» While turning my head away from him, I raised my nose in the air, looking irritated and insulted.
And like a childish, stubborn brat.
, huh? So we're back to last name basis? Well, that's a kick in the nuts, but two can play that game, Granger
.» He paused to look down at me with intense eyes, but I kept my nose high in the air, trying to overlook the fact that my heart was fluttering like a stressed hummingbird's wings under his flaming stare.
«No, I don't
miss going to school, and I did
worry a lot- I distinctly remember everyone
worrying, actually. And I've never
known what I wanted out of life, unlike you. The only thing I know is that I was a total prick back then, and for that I'm sorry, but I've also never been more popular with the ladies, if you know what I mean, Granger.» He winked at me suggestively.
«I regret to inform you that I've never shared the opinion with my classmates on that particular subject, Malfoy.» We must've been an odd sight that night as we stood swaying to the music – me turning away from my dance partner as if he were carrying a virus.
«I don't believe you, Granger,» he whispered, and looked hard at my profile. I stood my ground, and hoped that he couldn't feel how my pulse quickened the tighter he held me.
«Well, that's your
problem – not mine,» I swallowed nervously before adding, «Malfoy
For several seconds he stared at me, but all of a sudden he leaned his face in right beside my ear, so near that I could feel the warmth of his breath on my skin. When he was so close that his lips brushed against my earlobe, electricity shot through my spine and made it very hard to maintain the image of nonchalance.
I started shivering when I discovered that we had stopped dancing and were now standing still. I could feel the steady beat of his heart through his chest, and I had to swallow again.
The air between his lips and my vulnerable skin was vibrating, giving me the impression that time was standing still.
«Get off your high horse, Granger. Admit to yourself what your body is already screaming,» he whispered the words as if they were a secret. The breath of his words left tingling marks on my skin, and I had to remind my lungs how to breathe.
«And what's that, if I may ask, M-Malfoy?» I wished my voice wouldn't sound as weak as it did, but I realised that I had already stopped trying to resist him.
My head was still turned away, and my eyes tightly shut, believing that if I didn't see him I could more easily block him out. This too was the natural gesture resembling one of a child, thinking that one was invisible if one just covered ones eyes. I haven't done much maturing since the age of five, have I? But my efforts were futile seeing as I didn't seem able to drag my mind away from how close Draco's mouth was to my unprotected skin.
Suddenly, as if he could hear my thoughts, he closed the distance and gently pressed his lips to the sensitive spot under my earlobe. I gasped, and my eyes shot open. Air suddenly escaped from my body, and fire had taken its place. As if he had hit me over the head with a hard object, I pulled away from him, eyes shining with tears I refused to let fall.
«I have to go,» I half whispered in a choked voice, before making a run for the nearest exit.
«No, wait!» He tried to catch me, but I was faster than him, and was already out in the street. Without realising that it was raining, and that I had left my jacket in the pub, I ran.
The fact that I hadn't been running since I was eightteen didn't enter my mind even once. Even though my feet were throbbing in my new high heels, and my breath was like hearing an old man on his deathbed, I didn't stop or even falter until I stumbled on my own feet, and I fell flat on my face.
While laying on my stomach with my cheek pressed against the cold, wet pavement, I realised that I was crying.
«Hermione!» Strong hands turned me around, and I found myself looking into a pair of glittering diamonds.
Then I finally passed out.
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