Chapter 1 : Stranger
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Save for one Hermione Granger.
I don't why I have to be here anyway, it's not like Draco couldn't have handled the Head duties by himself …
She hadn't minded the task at first. True, working with Malfoy was never something to look forward to, but working with evil gits was bound to be of some good practice someday. And besides, she deserved to be Head Girl.
Can't say the same about Malfoy though …
The task had been relatively simple: plan this year's Seventh Year Ball. And miraculously, Hermione and Draco managed to put together a decent event. It had taken a few arguments, a handful of insults, occasional hair pulling—on both ends—and even a couple of broken furniture, but they had done it.
And then she found out attendance was mandatory, which wouldn't have been too big a deal if—
"Hey, Hermione," Ginny collapsed beside the begrudged witch, slightly out of breath from dancing. Harry took a seat beside her, in a similar condition. He gave a hesitant smile, knowing from Hermione's mere expression how thoroughly annoyed the whole situation was making her.
Ginny however, was either oblivious or chose to ignore the fact. "How you holding up?"
Hermione shot her an irritable glance. Really? I thought Harry said she was intelligent!
"Just dandy." She replied curtly, avoiding the other girl's eyes.
Ginny grimaced, the bright smile she had offered fading suddenly. She looked towards her boyfriend with raised eyebrows, an expression that said 'now what?'
"Hermione," Harry started, "how about a dance—"
"No, thank you."
She turned towards him with an almost defiant look. "I don't want your pity, Harry. If Ron would rather snog that little whor—"
"Hermione!" Ginny exclaimed.
Hermione looked down with a slight blush. She hadn't realized just how miffed she really was. Great, now I'm cursing.
"Sorry." She mumbled.
A slower piece began to play, and Hermione sighed, her pretenses falling. The whole thing still lay fresh in her mind …
"Listen, Hermione," Ron began, taking her hands in his, "don't get me wrong, I'd love to take you to the costume ball, but the thing is—"
"Ron! There you are! I've been looking all over for you!"
Ron immediately dropped her hands, a crimson blush rapidly painting his cheeks. A look of panic came over his eyes and Hermione felt her pulse quicken. Ron turned to the beaming girl. "Lav, listen, now's not—"
"Oh but you have to come with me right now! My mum's up in Dumbledore's office and you just have to mee—"
"In a second, Lavender. Meet me in the hall way, this will just be a minute."
And finally the ecstatic girl turned towards Hermione, whose heart was quickly plummeting with each second.
"Fine," answered Lavender, her eyes narrowing slightly. Before either of them could utter another word however, she strode over briskly and kissed Ron, a triumphant grin aimed Hermione's way when she was done.
Hermione didn't know what to think and it took all her self-control to keep the tears from flowing. As soon as the portrait entrance closed, Ron turned pleading eyes towards her.
"Hermione, just let me expl—"
"Don't touch me."
"But it's not what you—"
But Hermione was already walking away, the tears threatening to release any second now. As she reached the entrance to the girl's dormitories a hand grabbed her elbow.
"Mione, please, I have—"
"I said don't touch me!"
Ron had no time, suddenly—
And Hermione fled, tears falling relentlessly.
After Ron had broken if off with Lavender the first time, she had been positive he'd finally come to his senses and ask her out. The signs were all there, she was sure of it. She and Ron were meant for each other.
But of course, that was obviously not the case.
Hermione blinked. Harry stood over her with a furrowed brow, a look of concern behind his glasses. She felt something wet on her cheek and brought her hand up to uncover the substance.
She blinked again and another rolled down. It seemed they wouldn't leave her alone lately. Embarrassed she looked away, but Harry had already taken her hand and pulled her up, forcing her chin up so that she looked directly into emerald, kind eyes.
"You're dancing with me. Now."
"Don't worry, Hermione. I won't think anything of it. He's your best friend, and besides, I need a break." Ginny assured her with a smile.
She had no choice. With another sigh she let Harry guide her across the hardwood dance floor and into the midst of the group of dancers. Without hesitation he placed a hand on her waist and held the other, and she let him. The music was still slow and for that Hermione was grateful. There was no way she could be upbeat with the way she was feeling.
"You look really good, you know."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Harry, please, of course you would say that, you're my best friend."
Harry laughed and released his hold briefly whilst he twirled her. "But you do. Ask anyone. I bet half of them wouldn't even know it was you tonight."
"So then I look good because of the costume. Gee, thanks."
Harry noticed his mistake and immediately protested, a frown tainting his cheery façade. "No, no, that's not what I meant, I—"
Hermione allowed herself a smile with her friend's thoughtfulness. She knew Harry only meant well. She chuckled. "I know, Harry. Don't worry, my looks aren't really an issue anyway. I'm happy the way I am."
"And I. Tell me, are all angels as beautiful?"
Both stopped with the sudden interruption, a voice they didn't recognize. Though voice was really nothing to go by considering more than half the Seventh Years had enchanted their voices as part of their costume. The simplicity of this intruder's costume, however, was something else: a black tuxedo and a black face mask that revealed nothing but his mouth.
"I apologize for interrupting," the stranger continued, lips curving in a grin, "but I just couldn't help myself. I saw you from across the room and just had to ask." He turned a masked face towards Harry, whose surprise had already faded and was quickly replaced with another emotion. The stranger was slightly taller than the dark-haired teen, and Hermione felt an inexplicable tremor run through her fingers.
"Are you with her, tonight?" he asked.
Instead of answering, however, Harry asked. "Who are you?"
The stranger laughed. A laugh that sent chills down Hermione's spine. "I could ask you the same. This is a masquerade ball, is it not?"
Harry looked flustered. Hermione had yet to say a word, her own mind working against the compliments this stranger had already given her. Though she couldn't match his voice with a face, there was still something oddly familiar about it.
Finally, Harry replied. "Well, yes, but I think it's quite obvious who we are. You on the other hand—"
But the stranger had averted his attention to Hermione already, responding as if she were the one who had asked. "I wear a mask, yes. I find it part of the thrill, if you know what I mean. Now, if you are not with this lovely young lady, I would very much like to have this dance."
Harry visibly growled and only held her hand tighter. "Well, thrill or no thrill, I don't think—"
Harry turned to Hermione in surprise. "But Hermione, we don't even know who he is. He could be a Slytherin, he could—"
"Harry," Hermione turned towards the dark-haired teen, her cheeks flushed with something other than pumpkin juice and dancing, "I'm a big girl and can take care of myself."
"And to be honest," she continued louder, "right now, I really don't care. I have no date. He thinks I'm beautiful. I'm dancing with him."
She pulled her hand out of his grasp and turned to smile at the grinning stranger. With a small bow and a graceful sweep of his arm he turned to Harry. "Thank you for the honor. I'll take good care of her, don't worry."
There were no words for it. From the moment he'd taken her hand she felt electric. Every moment, every small polite gesture, there was something irrevocably mesmerizing about him. She had never danced with someone so smoothly, never been stared at so profoundly.
Blue eyes, his eyes are blue …
She had never been touched as if she were a fragile flower, silky, cool hands handling her as if every feel were a gentle caress. He had hardly spoken a word, but when he did, it was in a low, resonant hum, one that sent butterflies loose in odd places.
Who is this guy?
"Would you like some more pumpkin juice?"
Hermione sighed in contentment, a broad grin plastered on her face. "No, I'm fine, thanks."
Why are you smiling so stupidly? You don't even know who he is, get a grip, Hermione!
He smiled crookedly again, and Hermione found herself flushing a whole new shade of red with that smile.
He has the most amazing smile …
"So, uh," she started, "you never did tell me your name."
He chuckled darkly, a tone that sent the butterflies down to her toes. "You never told me yours either."
Hermione blinked. Hadn't Harry said … "Well, unlike you, I'm not wearing a mask, so you already know who I am …" she motioned with her hands, encouraging him to identify her.
He tilted his head as if pondering for a moment. Hermione felt herself blush once over and looked away, quickly muttering, "Ok, so I don't usually look like this. On the contrary, I'm actually very bland. I get it if you can't figure out who I—"
She looked up and met blue eyes, her own brown widening with the intensity she found staring back at her, almost through her, as if looking right into the depths of her soul.
It was a bit sinister, really, and Hermione felt the sudden urge to look away. But she never got the chance.
In one fluid movement, he was right beside her. Their noses touched and she could feel his breath, cool like a summer night and more inviting. Slender hands embraced the small of her back and into the tresses of her hair, bringing her even closer. She could feel his pulse quicken, his skin warm just slightly, and she was only barely able to gasp when he whispered softly: "It's almost midnight."
Hermione couldn't seem to find her voice, so she nodded, accidentally bumping her lips into his. She knew she must be flaming at this point, and she made to apologize but he shushed her in the same husky murmur.
"Don't." he breathed, a sensual rubbing of her lower back accompanying the gesture, "I've been waiting for this all night."
Hermione's pulse began to race. "But I don't even know you."
He chuckled again, darker if possible, and this time Hermione was sure of the ominous undertone. "Oh, but you will."
She chose to ignore it, however, when his lips finally crashed down on her own.
And time ceased.
It was a soft kiss, gentle and caressing, moist and sweet. Delicate skin grazed over hers, suckling with just the right amount of pressure, and wetting with just the right amount of moisture. He turned her head slightly to deepen the kiss, and Hermione couldn't help the tiny moan that elicited from her throat, stretches of pleasure coursing through her veins and blood and body. She felt so many things at once, excited, scared, lustful, and wanting. His hand moved to cup her cheek and she felt her body involuntarily relax into his alluring embrace, his supple lips.
She was vaguely aware of the clock chiming twelve and his hand leaving momentarily from her back. Slender fingers brushed her nose and she suspected he had finally taken off his mask. Her eyes remained closed, however, too busy reveling in this moment of perfection, in this kiss. There would be time for a proper introduction later. Right now this was all that mattered.
"Get your slimy hands off her!"
—her prince charming was pulled completely away from her.
Her first glance was to the perpetrator. Hermione gasped.
"Harry! No, what are you—get off him!"
She rushed forward to pull her friend off the other teen but Ginny suddenly ran forward, blocking her way.
"Ginny, move out of my way."
But Ginny shook her head, a look of incredulity on her small face. "Hermione, don't you know who—"
"I said move!"
"Hermione, listen to—"
But Hermione had already pushed past her. The teachers were, thankfully, already barking orders and separating the two boys, Snape dragging out her unsuspecting date and blocking her view. She had yet to see who her stranger was.
But first things first.
"Harry, how could you—"
"Look at him!"
"But he didn't even—"
But Ginny had already wheeled her around, forcing her to see the other teen.
And Hermione gasped, her blood freezing instantly.
Standing in a bloody mess, mask gone, with fading black hair into blond, and a huge triumphant smirk, was none other than—
So, this is my first story on this site, and I already have a good portion of it ready to be posted. So please review! I promise the more reviews, the quicker I will update :)
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