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Chapter 4 : Chapter 4
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Hermione finished brushing her hair and stepped into her dress. With an experienced hand she zipped up the back and looked in the mirror. Good enough for the theatre, she thought. It would be chilly later so she picked up a heavy cardigan that she could slip on during the evening and headed downstairs. Draco was talking to Frank and Jean. He was wearing a medium blue shirt and black slacks. “We should be leaving soon, Draco. Have you got a jacket it might get a bit cold later.”
“No actually, I didn’t think to bring one.”
“Dad, this is really embarrassing but Draco forgot a jacket and I forgot to bring some money.” Frank went to the hall closet and came back with a tan coloured, leather bomber jacket. He handed it to Draco.
Draco slipped it on, it wasn’t a perfect fit but it was close. “Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.” Frank took sixty pounds from his wallet.
“The price of food and drink in central London is ridiculous. You two have a good time.” Hermione kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you, Dad. I’ll go to the bank tomorrow. Thank you. Ready to try life as a muggle, Draco?”
“When you are, Hermione let’s go. I’ll drive.” Hermione took his arm and he apparated them to Diagon Alley.
They passed through the Leaky Cauldron and out into Muggle London and took a cab to the theatre. Draco looked at the building. “This is a theatre? It looks like a barn and it’s round.”
“This is a theatre as it would have been in the late fifteen hundreds. It is round and it has no roof. That’s why you needed a jacket.” Hermione explained. “Let’s get the tickets and then find a pub. We’ll have time for a couple of drinks to keep the chill off.”
Settling at a small table in a nearby pub, Draco took a sip of his rum and coke. “Your parents are nice people, Hermione.” She smiled,
“Yeah, I think so too.”
“They weren’t expecting me though, were they?”
“No, they thought I would be bringing Ron, of course. But I don’t think this would be Ron’s cup of tea.”
“I’m not sure it’s mine yet.”
“It will be,” she replied, “if for no other reason than I’m telling you it will.”
“I guess I’d better enjoy it then… honey.” That relaxed her even more; it was the first time he had called her that since their argument. She had a feeling she might enjoy this weekend.
“Enjoy it… honey. But remember why we’re here. We have to look for ideas for our production.” She checked her watch and swallowed the last of her white wine. “Drink up honey, we should be going.” Draco picked up his glass and raised it to her,
“Yes… darling.” She almost choked as she looked at him. “What? I’ve heard almost everyone in this pub using the word, just thought I’d try to blend in. I’m supposed to be a muggle aren’t I?”
“Come on. Idiot!”
The play was a high quality production that Hermione enjoyed very much. As did Draco, although baffled by some of the language. He had followed the plot with some ease. He had been intrigued by the theatre, Shakespeare’s famous ‘wooden O’, open to the darkening sky, he had been glad of the jacket he had borrowed. They were both hungry when they left the theatre. A nice meal and bottle of wine, during which they discussed what they had seen, rounded off an enjoyable evening for them both. Draco had been unsurprised when Hermione, taking a notebook and pen from her handbag, had started writing notes. Leaving the restaurant at about midnight they had gone back to the theatre and on the paved area outside had sat silently, but each of them deep in thought. Watching the dark water flow steadily by, like a messenger carrying their thoughts to obscurity.
Draco risked a sideways glance at the girl, no, the young woman he was with. Her eyes reflecting the twinkling lights of the riverside. He saw a beauty he hadn’t seen before and felt a deep stab of bitter regret for all the years he had spent abusing; there was no other word for it, Hermione. The abuse had been so personal and intense that he felt there was nothing he could do that would ever atone for it. He wished there was, but as his mother had once said ‘if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.’ All he could do was to carry on like this, even though he knew that there would always be somewhere inside her that hated him. He was amazed that she was hiding it so well. He felt her shiver beside him, “We should be getting you home, you’re getting cold.”
“Yeah okay. Let’s find somewhere quiet where we can be alone.”
“I beg your pardon!”
“So we can apparate, stupid. You’re misconstruing again.”
“Can’t help it. You make it so easy.” They found a spot and disapparated, this time Hermione drove. At the other end of their journey, Draco was puzzled. “Where are we? I thought we were going to your home?”
“We are. It’s about a ten minute walk from here. I feel like a stroll.” As they walked there wasn’t any conversation, each was willing the other to say something. Two youths, one with a very weird haircut, were coming the other way. Anticipating a possible problem Draco took Hermione’s hand. If he was honest, he had been trying to think of a reason to do just that. Walking steadily the two couples passed each other without incident. When they reached Hermione’s street she spoke,
“Draco, I have had the most enjoyable evening I think I’ve had in a very long time. Thank you.”
“The same goes for me, Hermione. I enjoyed the play, the food and the company, in equal measure.” A few paces from their destination she stopped walking.
“Draco, you do realise you’re still holding my hand, don’t you?”
“Er… yeah, sorry.” he tried to let go but she wouldn’t. “I suppose if this was a normal date, I’d have to try to kiss you now…”
“Isn’t this a normal date as you called it? Does that mean you aren’t even going to try?”
“Hermione, you are well aware of our situation, I’m not sure it would be a good idea. I like where we are now and if there’s more to come… it’s great, but it’s new to me and I don’t want to rush into anything and spoil it.”
“Okay, I understand. I don’t agree, but I understand. Let’s go in, shall we? He kissed her softly on the cheek.
“So, do you two have any plans for today?” Jean asked their two visitors. They were all finished eating breakfast and were having coffee in the living room.
“I have to go to the bank, Mum, and get Dad’s money.” Frank interrupted,
“Don’t worry about it Hermione, last night was our treat. We don’t get many chances to spoil our little girl these days. As long as you had a good time then that’s enough.”
“I had a lovely evening, Dad. Thank you so much.”
“Me too, Mr Granger. I enjoyed it too. It’s very generous of you. I appreciate it, and if Hermione has no plans I’d like to go shopping.”
“Shopping? Since when do men volunteer to go shopping?” Jean exclaimed. “Frank, are you listening?” Frank grimaced,
“Draco, if I had a wand, I’d be asking Hermione which hex I should use on you. Thanks a lot.” Draco grinned.
“Sorry sir, but these are the only muggle clothes I have and I think I should get some more.”
“Shopping it is then” said Hermione, smiling delightedly.
Three hours later, after a visit to Gringotts, they were in Piccadilly Circus having lunch in a restaurant. Draco was dressed in his new jeans and a pale yellow shirt and a white pair of trainers with blue trim and maker’s logo. In two bags he had more jeans and shirts, two more pairs of slacks and a leather jacket similar to the one he had borrowed from Hermione’s dad.
“I’m done shopping, Hermione,” he said, “Is there anything you want to do?”
“No, I’m good to go. We can walk to Diagon from here.” They set off down the Haymarket. The late summer sun was bright but by no means hot. Draco caught his breath when he felt Hermione slip her hand into his. She hadn’t thought about doing it, it just happened naturally. There were billboards on the pavement. They were approaching Her Majesty’s Theatre where the Phantom of the Opera was playing. Draco stopped and said,
“I wonder if they have any seats for this evening, do you fancy it.”
“Well, I haven’t seen it, so yes, why not.”
“Tonight is my treat, but I would prefer to eat before the show, is that okay?”
“Fine by me, but let’s find out if there are seats available.” There were. Luck? Maybe. But they were among the most expensive seats in the house. That didn’t matter to Draco. They were in.
Exiting the theatre after the show all they could say to each other was ‘Wow, that was brilliant’ as they headed towards Trafalgar Square. They walked slowly, again holding hands and talking about the show. Draco had liked one song particularly. He hummed what he could remember of the tune to All I Ask of You, while walking. They apparated from Diagon Alley to the same spot as the previous evening. A quiet spot that Hermione had found shortly after passing her apparition test. She chose a different, longer, route home. There was little traffic around and not many pedestrians; this was a quiet residential area. “Back to Hogwarts tomorrow, Draco.” She said quietly when they were close to home. Draco was curious, was that a hint of sadness in her voice?
“I know.” he stopped walking, “Hermione, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this weekend. It has been so different to anything I’ve ever known. I’m even more pissed at my father and the stupid ideas he made me believe in.” she didn’t know why she changed the subject.
“What were they Draco? The thoughts you said I wouldn’t like?”
“Oh no, Hermione, I’m not going to take a chance of ruining the weekend by telling you things like that. Maybe I’ll tell you one day, but not today.” She didn’t push it any further. She didn’t want to spoil the weekend either. Instead she raised her heels enough to combat the height difference between them and placed her lips briefly on his. He looked at her. Her eyes, though dark coloured, were bright, sparkling and so… alive.
“You weren’t going to do it, so I thought I should. I’ve had a great weekend too. Thank you.”
“How do you know I wasn’t going to do it?”
“Well, after last night and what you said, I didn’t think you would. So I did. This is our second date after all.” He leaned down so that their faces were only inches apart and put his hands on her waist.
“This could be the biggest mistake I’ve made in a long time, but…” his arms slid around her as hers curled around his neck. Lips met. Her eyes closed. There was no urgency, just a slow tenderness that thrilled her to her core. It would be a cold day in hell before she forgot that feeling. He broke the kiss, but not the embrace. “I hope I don’t live to regret that, Hermione.”
Her lips brushed lightly over the side of his neck, “I hope so too, Draco. I hope so too.”
At five the next afternoon they apparated back to Hogsmeade and walked slowly up to the castle. There were too many people around for them to risk holding hands. Draco was softly whistling his favourite tune from the Phantom. Having had a late lunch of Jean’s excellent roast pork with all the trimmings and a bottle of wine between the four of them, they would not need to eat dinner in the school. Ginny was just leaving the hall when she spotted her friend.
“Hermione, you’re back, how was your weekend? Hello Malfoy.”
“Hello Red.” He replied. It was what he had called her during their brief flirtation years before. She started when she heard it again. Hermione gave her a hug,
“Hi Ginny. We had a great weekend thanks. Got a lot of ideas for… oh but of course you don’t know why we went. Sorry I’ll have to keep it quiet for now.”
“Why the mystery, Hermione, you two didn’t get married or something; did you?”
“You cannot be serious, Red.” Draco snorted, sounding like his old self. Harry and Ron arrived.
“Hey Hermione, how are you?” Harry asked.
“Good thanks.” She replied becoming concerned about Ron’s rapidly reddening face. Ron carried on as he had before,
“Had a good weekend then? Get plenty of shagging done did you?” Draco took a step closer to Ron, Hermione stopped him.
“No Draco, leave it. I’ll see to it. Let’s go.” Not listening to the sound of Harry and Ginny berating Ron, she rushed them back to their rooms. She spent ten minutes cursing at Ron; Draco made no attempt to calm her down. He considered following her when she stormed out, but decided against.
Ron had only been in the armchair for a few minutes when Hermione crashed through the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. Without breaking step, she pointed at Ron. “YOU! BEDROOM, NOW!” She shouted and disappeared up the stairs.
“Blimey Ron,” said a grinning Seamus. “There’s an offer you don’t get every day.”
“Shut your stupid mouth, Seamus.” Harry snapped as Ron walked away. Seamus continued to grin.
“Or I’ll shut it for you.” Added Ginny. That stopped Seamus grinning.
Ron entered his dormitory to find Hermione standing by his bed, “Herm…”
“SHUT UP!” Hermione waved her wand and the door closed and locked itself. “NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME, RON WEASLEY! IF YOU EVER, EVER SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT AGAIN I WILL HEX YOUR ARSE SO FAR INTO HISTORY, YOU’LL BE TEACHING MAGIC TRICKS TO BLOODY DINOSAURS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME? FROM NOW ON YOU STAY OUT OF MY LIFE AND MY BUSINESS. YOU CAN DO YOUR OWN DAMN HOMEWORK TOO. I DON’T WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU UNLESS IT’S ABSOLUTELY BLOODY NECESSARY.” She paused, long enough for Ron to get in a few words.
“Hermione, he’s fooling you, you’ve been tricked. I don’t trust him. Never have. Never will. He’s a lying scumbag and…”
“And nothing Ron. Whatever sort of relationship I choose to have with Draco Malfoy is none of your concern, so mind your own business.”
“But Hermione, we…”
“We? There is no ‘we’ as far as you and I are concerned, you killed that stone dead with your stupid suppositions and accusations.”
“So you are sh…”
“If you say ‘shagging’ I will scream. Grow up, Ron. Get your brains out of your trousers. When I do sleep with him it will be my decision, not his, definitely not yours, but MINE! MINE AND MINE ALONE. Now if you will excuse me I have things to do. Goodbye Ron.” She released the door and proceeded down the stairs and out of the common room. She kept looking straight ahead and acknowledged no-one on her way out. On the way back she realised what she had said to Ron. She had said ‘when I sleep with him’. Not if I sleep with him, but when. You need to be careful girl, she had chided herself.
Draco stood when Hermione returned. A few paces into the room she stopped and with her face in her hands began to sob bitterly. She felt his arms around her, “I… hate…. him. I hate him.”
“No you don’t Hermione,” he said softly, “you are kick-ass angry with him, but you don’t hate him.” Her eyes drifted up to his face and she reached up to kiss him. He stopped her and held her at arms length.
“Hermione, what are you doing?” he spoke softly to the weeping girl.
“I was going to kiss you, why?”
“Hermione, I told you. I’m… scared. I’m walking on eggshells here. In a weird way, you scare me because I don’t understand what I’m feeling for you. It’s something I have to sort out for myself. I want to work it out without hurting you.”
“So you don’t want to kiss me. Even if I want you to.”
“Of course I do! You have to give me time, Hermione, I know where I want this to go and no, I’m not going to tell you. Once I straighten my head out I’ll tell you everything. Until then let’s go slowly please.
“I want to go to bed Draco.”
“Are you doing that deliberately, Hermione, it’s almost as if you’re inviting me to misconstrue?” She stepped away from him,
“Draco, if I’m honest, I’m confused too. You’re not supposed to like me. I’m not supposed to like you, but I do… a lot. I’m scared of doing something that will bring the old Draco Malfoy back.” She walked back to him, “Forgive me but…” she kissed him before he could move. “I’m going to bed now. Goodnight. Thanks for a wonderful weekend.” Draco watched her walk away, when she reached her bedroom door he said,
“Goodnight Hermione. Sleep well… honey.” Closing the door she leaned back against it, cursing the ball of worms that were twisting in her stomach. Sleep well, honey, her mind echoed, as her lips curled into a small smile.
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