AN: Oh yeah, just an aside, the task mentioned below with the ropes, I did at summer camp in high school, just without the big drop, ours was three feet, but I still cracked two ribs when I bounced off the ropes and fell to the ground lol.
The weeks had passed much quicker than any of them had thought possible and the crazy thing about it was that the whole thing worked. Kingsley’s head was going to get so big and they were all dreading the meeting with him Monday for that reason! Today was their last full day and night and this time they were all travelling home together, as friends. Or more than friends in half the pairs, Hermione and Draco had come together and begun dating as had Chloe Burns and Shawn Davis. Blaise and Stella seemed to be flirtier than mere partners would be, really the only two that seemed completely platonic were Harry and Jenny due to the fact that Harry was mad about his wife Ginny and Jenny had a guy she had been seeing pretty regularly for a few months before the retreat.
They were all currently in the beginning stage of their last challenge, which would decide the winning team. Hermione/Draco were tied for first with Blaise/Stella and whichever team won gets a free five day trip back here to the vacation part of the island, as opposed to the retreat part. This also happened to be the most ludicrously dangerous task, and looking back and forth between Draco and the task Hermione said, “I think I would rather do the waltz with Voldemort than go forward with this! I can’t do it Draco, I just can’t.”
Draco looked into her terror filled eyes and didn’t want to say he was scared as well, he doubted he’d get her anywhere near it if he told her that.
So, “I know you’re scared, but I believe you can do this. When you feel like you have to quit we’ll stop and rest. Keep telling yourself how beautiful and relaxing the other side of the island is, and we will beat those two!” he said instead.
“Fine, but if I fall to my death, I’m coming back to kill you!” Hermione retorted.
The task today was a timed project and the team with the best time won, that simple. The slightly problematic part was the actual task which easily doubled the danger of any task before. There were two long ropes that covered the distance between two cliffs which separated the vacation area of the island from the retreat area. Each team was given three boards, which they had to use to get all the way across. If they fell there was a wizard two hundred feet down below to cushion the fall, but Hermione would rather not go through that thank you very much!
“Ok, so here’s what I think we should do, I think we place a board down and I will stand on it, then you hand me another board and I will place it down and step forward, and you step on the board I was on, then grab the last board and hand it forward, and we keep repeating until we reach the other side.” Draco said. He was watching Harry and Jenny get across the same way the other two teams had crossed and he saw a way to speed it up and make it a bit safer than what the other teams had done. They were really only using two boards each, they would both stand on one, and move the other board forward. Stella and Shawn had both fallen using this technique and yet Harry and Jenny still followed along with the same way.
Hermione saw what he was saying in her mind, and it DID seem safer, so what the hell. “Ok, but if I start to fall, I’m taking you with me!” She grumbled, making him laugh and hug her.
Harry and Jenny finally made it over, and with the other two teams suffering a fall all Draco and Hermione had to do to win the vacation was finish in less than an hour, or Harry/Jenny would win.
Draco grabbed two boards and walked forward; he placed the first board and stepped on then laid the next board and stepped over to it. Hermione was actually crying nervous tears she had to wipe away so she could see. This was all about trust, if you didn’t have complete trust in your partner there was no way across. She looked at Draco pleadingly and he smiled, “I know you can do this, just like the cliff climb, I won’t let you fall, even if it means I take the fall myself.” He promised.
She took a huge breath, stiffened her shoulders and raised her chin, “Neither one of us will fall.” She said firmly, trying to convince herself. She took the first step onto the board. They repeated the process over and over, but when they reached the halfway point she stumbled and reached for him, and for a moment he thought they would both fall. She got herself settled and had two fistfuls of his shirt as he balanced with one knee on his board and a foot on one rope and both hands around the other rope. He would have fallen, but this time she saved him much like he had done for her.
“You jump, I jump, Jack,” she joked. Draco was so confused; he looked at her questioning her sanity!
“First, I’m not Jack, I’m Draco. Secondly, you want us to jump? Are you mad?” He exclaimed.
“Sorry, Muggle thing. You come to my flat for dinner tomorrow, and I will show you what it means.” She laughed. “Now, let’s get this show on the road!”
He wasn’t convinced of her sanity yet, but he wanted to plant his feet on solid ground, so he slowly and carefully worked his way back to his board and a standing position. Once he was standing, he kissed her lips as she handed him the next board. They started making their way across again, and fifteen minutes later, they had done it! She screamed and jumped in his arms and wrapping her legs around his waist and they fell to the ground and laughed.
The other teams were smiling and congratulated the two of them. They were all planning to meet in the main lounge for dinner and drinks to celebrate the successful completion of the adrenaline fuelled retreat.
Rich walked up to them and patted them both on the back. “Hermione and Draco you will receive two free passes each for the five day vacation at departure time, congratulations to you both. Also, as congratulations to each team for completion, you will all receive two free passes each for a weekend getaway to our island.” They all applauded each other and turned to walk to the golf carts that would return them back to their area so they could all get ready for the celebration dinner.
Hermione was putting the finishing touches on her hair, which she had done in a French twist style. She then went to her room and got dressed. She had chosen to wear a simple black summer dress. It was spaghetti strapped and flowed freely to about an inch above her knee. She put on her black heels, and put on a few chunky bracelets and grabbed her clutch bag and walked out to the shared living room to meet Draco.
Draco was pacing, wondering why women needed so much time to get ready. He finally gave up and threw himself down on the couch and grabbed the book on Ancient Egyptian magicians he had laid down on the end table last night and read while he waited. When he heard her open the door he said, “Finally!” without looking up. When he did look up he froze halfway through standing up from the couch in a sort of crouch and said, “Whoa!”
“You look amazing.” Draco said stunned, after he finally remembered to finish standing up.
Hermione blushed, “Thank you, and you look pretty good yourself.”
Draco held his arm out and said, “Shall we?”
When they had all gathered and were eating their dinner they took turns telling funny stories of each one’s encounters here on the island. Blaise had tears rolling down his cheeks as he told a story about Stella on their week long ‘camping trip’ that had her glowering.
“So I am sitting under the shelter we had built and I hear this bone chilling scream, and I grabbed my wand and took off running. I couldn’t find her for the longest time, so I called out, “Stella!” and she screamed my name, so I look over and up, she is halfway up a tree screaming bloody murder.”
Harry was smiling and asked, “Why?”
Blaise answered, “Because there was a very deadly bunny rabbit at the bottom of the tree! She faces down Death Eaters, and fights criminals every day for a living, but a sweet little bunny made her fly up a tree!” They all had fun laughing at her bunny fear.
“Oh shut it Blaise, or I’ll tell them how you couldn’t sleep without your teddy bear!” Stella retaliated.
Everyone lost it at the image of Blaise and a teddy. “That’s bang out of order Stella! Want me to stun a little old lady so you can kick her when she’s down too?” but he was teasing, and taking the ribbing good naturedly. Blaise was like Fred and George that way. They had all discovered he had been Slytherin House’s clown while in school, and it was unusual to see his face without his signature grin.
Draco told the scorpion story to much laughter as they each continued drinking. Not long after they finished they all hit the dance floor and switched partners after each song was over. When it was Blaise and Hermione’s turn to dance together he maneuvered them as far away from Draco as he could.
“I wanted to talk to you about Draco.” He began.
“If you’re playing a game, and before you get all riled up with that temper of yours finish hearing me out,” he said when she opened her mouth to argue.
“If you’re playing a game with him, let me warn you, DON’T.” he said.
“I am not, nor have I ever played with someone’s emotions, Blaise Zabini!” Hermione retorted hotly.
“Good, because you have no idea what he’s been through. It’s easy to close your eyes to the pain of an enemy, but he suffered through the war, and he’s suffered since. He may not ever tell you all of it, because he’s not one who easily opens up, but I will tell you that some of what happened to him would send a chill up your spine.” He said seriously and sadly.
“I am not trying to scare you off, nor is it my place. But he is the best friend I have, and you could hurt him more than you know, so please think about it before you let things get too serious.” He finished rather earnestly.
Hermione nodded her head to let him know she understood right as Draco walked up and asked if she was ready to head back because they all had to be up early the next morning to catch a seven o’clock port key. They all said good night and went their separate ways. Hermione lay in bed that night thinking about all that Blaise had said and weighed in her mind if she was up to dating Draco when she had her own demons to fight. It would be a long time before she fell asleep that night, but when she did, her mind was made up.
AN3: Ok, so it’s a short chapter, but since I didn’t think I would be good to write another one for a few days, I figure short is better than none at all! Hope you enjoyed it, and don’t forget that I LOVE reviews!