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Chapter 3 : First Love is the Deepest
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Thanks to kriss, HermionelovesRon24, SkyeElle, AppreciativeReader, dane21, and the fab GriffindorHeadGurl for leaving such wonderful reviews for the last chapter!! Here's the third! As always, JK Rowling owns the world of Harry Potter!
Draco walked nervously up and down in his kitchen. He’d bought flowers already- tulips were the most appropriate. Roses were too romantic, daisies, too impersonal. Who was this spitfire woman? As far as he knew, no one had moved in the building in five years. Not since Draco’s dreams started, at least…
Clearing his throat, he buzzed the ringer.
“Coming,” a voice called out. It sounded syrupy and cozy.
The door opened.
“Can I help you?”
The woman was gorgeous. Her hair was the color of oak, curly and wild. Her eyes were milder, a honey color, and her lips were a refreshing pink. She wasn’t short, but she wasn’t tall either.
“Um, hi. I wanted to thank you for saving me. I’m your next-door neighbor. Oh, these are for you.” Draco thrust the tulips in the woman’s direction.
“Thank you. I’ll put them in water. Do come in.”
“Your flat is…neat.”
“Thank you. I just recently moved in, you see.”
“Rather quickly, I see.”
“I find that there’s nothing a wand cannot do,” she chuckled.
“I’m Draco, by the way. Draco Malfoy.”
Draco stood there, puzzled. She knew who he was? Oh right…the whole ex-Death Eater thing should have triggered that response right away.
“But I don’t know you,” Draco countered.
“Oh, you do.”
Now he was really puzzled. He did not know this beautiful young woman in front of him. He would surely have remembered her if he had met her before.
“I’m sorry, I must not remember you.”
“I’ve been out of the country for four years. I hadn’t seen you for at least four years before that. I guess eight years is a long time, isn’t it, Malfoy?”
Suddenly he knew. Only one person would be so daring as to act like this to him. Only one person could make his innards boil. Only one person matched him intellectually.
“So you do recognize me.”
“How could I not? No one calls me Malfoy. No one calls me anything, save for death eater.”
“It’s like this: until I called you Malfoy, you did not recognize me. Certain phrases, certain words, are prone to act as triggers. To catalyze a reaction,” Hermione instructed.
I see she hasn’t changed, he thought drily.
“Your lecture was most exhilarating, Granger…or should I say Weasley? Why are you here? Shouldn’t you still be in the hospital? I’ve heard labor is very exhausting.”
“I am most certainly still Granger, Malfoy,” Hermione exclaimed coldly. “And do I look as if I’ve been in labor? I think I’d remember if I’d just delivered a wailing infant.”
Draco merely raised his eyebrows. She wasn’t with Weasley?
As if reading his mind, Granger spoke again.
“I’ll tell you what happened if…”
“If you tell me something in return.”
Curiosity got the best of him.
“Who is she?”
“The girl. The girl with the violet eyes. Who is she, and what did she do to you?”
He stiffened, contemplating whether or not to answer. Again, she read his mind.
“Don’t you dare. You promised me.”
He made a big deal of sighing. If he was going to tell her, then two things must be true. Firstly, he’d better find out some juicy details in her story. Secondly, he might as well act like a drama queen if he had to tell.
“You don’t recognize her? Of course, she has changed since her years at Hogwarts,” Draco laughed sarcastically.
“Who is she?”
“That is Astoria Greengrass.”
“Wasn’t she a slip of a thing?”
“Her older sister, Daphne, was in our year. Astoria was a few years behind. She had a growth spurt at the end of her Hogwarts years.”
“Nuh-uh, Malfoy, you are not done. Expliquer, s’il vous plaît.” (Explain, if you please)
“En français ou anglais?” he smirked back. (In French or English?)
She just gave him a steely glare.
Ok, English then, he thought.
“Astoria and I started going out after I…graduated from Hogwarts.”
She knew he was remembering their last year together. Some of the only ones of their year left, they bickered non-stop until McGonagall threatened to take their position as Heads away. The relationship had improved over the holidays, but sparked up right before graduation for some reason…
“At first, she was head over heels. She was dating the Draco Malfoy. Then she realized my status had lowered some since the war ended,” he barked bitterly, “Astoria got a modeling job with some Muggle line. They loved her eyes, or so they said. I think they just loved her thin body, which she used magic on to eliminate even a particle of fat. Suddenly, she bailed on every date. Her nights were busy. ‘Opening galas,’ she would say. We never had tea together on Sundays. ‘There’s a new shoot,’ she’d explain. At some point, she stopped explaining and I stopped asking. I had even asked her to marry me, disappointed at her reaction: ‘It’ll do,” she responded after contemplating the question for a few days. Still, I was willing to marry her…until I saw them together.”
Oh no, Hermione thought. I was right.
“I was off to Flourish and Blotts for a new book that came out, when I saw Astoria exit Twilfitt and Tattings. She was with Oliver Wood, you know, Puddlemere United’s keeper…”
“Yes, I know Oliver. He was a Gryffindor.”
“Yeah, that bloke. Well he and Astoria were all over each other. I couldn’t believe it. I thought perhaps I was dreaming. But I decided to ask her about it when she came home. Astoria’s not a good actress, so when she started to lie, I could tell. The one think I value above all else is honesty. I could have forgiven her for cheating. But lying, I could not forgive that. I told her I expected her out of the house by the next morning, baggage and all. And I expected my mother’s engagement ring back as well. She tried demanding alimony, that’s how dumb she is. I told her she never said ‘I do’ so she would never get a cent of Malfoy money. That is my story about Astoria Greengrass. Did I tell you she’s married to Wood now?”
Clearly, Draco was devastated by his fiancée’s cheating incident still. There was only one way to get him out of his depressed stage, even if it meant throwing herself under the bus.
“Do you want to know why I’m not Mrs. Ronald Weasley?”
“Just like you, I was engaged to be married. We were the ‘It-Couple’ of the year, according to Witch Weekly. I didn’t care about rankings. I loved him, and I thought he loved me too. I planned the wedding with little help, but I didn’t mind. I figured if I did it right, I’d only have to do it once. I was ecstatic until the month before the wedding. I was going to St. Mungo’s; I’d cut my hand open while trying to get Ron’s dinner ready before he came home from work. It was bleeding too quickly for me to stop. Luckily the Healer’s fixed me. As I was leaving, I had to pass by a few wards, one being the maternity ward. One door was opened. I love babies, so I peeked in to see the newborn. Instead, I saw Ron holding a baby with love. Perplexed, I hid behind the door.
‘He’s beautiful,’ Ron said admiringly.
‘No help from you. I can’t believe you missed his birth! You spend all your time with her now.’
‘I’m going to marry her. Of course I spend time with her.’
‘But do you love her?’
I stood eagerly, waiting for his reply. I could forgive a child out of wedlock…perhaps it had happened before we got together. But he didn’t say anything in response.
‘I knew it. Why are you even marrying her?’
‘They say it’ll be good for the press.’
‘Do you love me?’
I held my breath.
‘Yes,’ he whispered.
‘Say it in a sentence. Say it!’
‘I love you.’
‘I love you too, Won-Won!’
I couldn’t breath. He’d cheated on me with Lavender Brown, had a son with her, and was only marrying me for ratings?! That evening, I packed up and left before he got back. I left him a howler that would never end unless he started crying. I wanted him to feel horrible. I stayed on the outskirts of London for about a year until Harry got engaged to Ginny. I moved to Paris, and have lived there until a few days ago,” Hermione finished dramatically.
Now it was Draco who felt bad. This girl had been nothing but nice to Weasel and Pothead, but they had no problem tossing her out for a better model.
“It’s ok, Malfoy. I ran into him at St. Mungo’s and pretty much let him have it all in front of the entire waiting room. Needless to say, Ron Weasley’s ratings will not be outstanding in the next copy of Witch Weekly,” Hermione managed to laugh.
“He’s out of his mind…a complete dolt. Who’d choose Lavender Brown over Hermione Granger? That’s like choosing Hershey’s chocolate over Cadbury’s! No respectable Englishman would do such a thing!” Draco argued.
“You’ve had Hershey’s?”
“Don’t look at me like that. I was curious. Every American I’d met raved about the stuff, so I wanted to know what was so great…”
“You ate Muggle candy?”
Draco stiffened; here it was, the old Pureblood rant come back to haunt him.
“Why would you eat Muggle candy when you’ve got Chocolate Frogs, cotton candy floss, and Bertie Botts!” Hermione exclaimed.
“Must be a bad habit I picked up in 7th year,” Draco teased back, happy that they were still able to converse freely without bringing in bad history.
Hermione’s eyes filled with recognition:
“That Christmas…the parcel I gave you…”
“Yeah, when you weren’t talking to that dumb arse, formerly known as the Weasel,” Draco explained.
Then Hermione remembered how they’d started arguing again- she had broken up with Ron over the holidays (clearly people didn’t change; once a cheater, always a cheater.) Morose, she and Draco bonded over their self-pity. They even agreed to buy each other presents. But just before graduation, she accepted Ron back and conversations with Draco ceased.
“So you did eat the Mars bars I added into your package,” Hermione laughed.
“Hey, it’s chocolate,” Draco defended, “I’m addicted to the stuff.”
The constant mentioning of sugary goodness reminded Hermione’s stomach of its current lack of glucose. Similarly, Draco’s stomach rumbled. A choir of rumbling stomachs, Hermione mused.
“Do you want to get a bite to eat? I haven’t eaten since I found…erm, since last night,” Hermione remedied.
“Are you asking me on a date, Granger?” Draco teased.
Mortified, Hermione blushed. She didn’t help her case by stuttering a few seconds later.
She’s kind of cute when she blushes, Draco thought. The flush to her face makes her look more vivacious…like she did when we used to bicker 7th year…
“Don’t worry, Granger, I won’t tell anyone that you secretly fancy me,” he laughed.
Hermione mumbled something incoherent. It sounded a lot like:
“stupid…me…Malfoy…impossible…won’t let it happen…”
“What was that? Didn’t quite catch it?” Draco’s eyes sparkled as he spoke.
“Nothing. I know of a perfect place to get a quick meal. We’ll have to take the Tube though; it’s a Muggle place. Do you like Indian food?”
Draco had never eaten it in his life. He’d never eaten in a Muggle place before. But he’d never openly admit that to Hermione.
He didn’t have to. She could tell he hadn’t.
“Well, we can try it out. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
They took the tube and got off at Marble Arch station. From there, they found the place. Draco inhaled a whiff: the spices and colors intrigued him from the start.
Hermione ordered some drinks called something something chai? He could remember. All he knew was that the stuff was flavored with milk and cinnamon amongst other things. It was good, for a Muggle drink. Then she ordered some curries.
“Something that won’t be too spicy…that might not be the best for your stomach...you probably don't have much experience with curries, after all...”
It smelled delicious. It tasted even better than that. And she insisted on ordering something called nan.
“It’s like bread. It’s a staple food, and it’s absolutely lovely.”
Together, the two unlikely companions munched on nan, sipped at creamy masala chai, and ate the flavorful curries. Though they did not know it, they became friends at that moment. Two people, so alone in the world, so alike in their aloneness, and so wanting to end the aloneness. That was the first “date” that Draco and Hermione went on.
Questions? Comments? I hoped you liked it- we are about halfway/a third of the way through!! Please leave a review!!
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