A/N: Thank you for all the reads and reviews! I now have a beta from another site so I'll be re-uploading previous chapters soon! This chapter is a bit longer compared to the previous, and I do hope you like it! Once again, please let me know what you think. :)
Fifteen pages, six hours, and three owls from Draco later, Hermione emerged from the bathroom in her soft pink robe and fluffy white towel twisted on top of her head. Letting out a deep breath, she made her way to her closet. Draco’s last owl explicitly told her to dress up and be ready by eight sharp, en pile
. Pouting a little, Hermione began to shuffle through her more formal dresses hung in the back corner of her closet. Deciding on the one shoulder black dress that reached right above her knees, she tugged it off of the hanger.
“Nice choice. Although, you wear too much black already.”
“I know Malfoy, but it’s comfortable and,” she stopped and turned around to see Draco leaning against the door frame. She rolled her eyes and briskly turned back around. “Wow, you’re getting good at this. I didn’t even hear you come in.”
Smirking, he stood up straight. “Glad you noticed. How come you don’t use the robe I got you for your birthday? Too sexy for the prude?”
Looking slightly offended, Hermione retorted, “That silky robe isn’t practical. I-It shows… a little too much.” But with a sly smile, she continued, “But it is quite useful in the bedroom. Who knew that leaving it on would be just so, delightful.”
He shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. “I change my mind; I like your pink one better. Don’t forget--eight.” With that, he hurriedly turned around and went back to his own flat. Letting out a huff, he muttered, “And everyone thinks that I slum around.”
Draco was tapping his feet impatiently against his white carpet. “Merlin, what is taking her so long?”
Lying down on his black leather sofa, Luna opened her eyes and peeked at Draco. “A little anxious are we?”
“No, not anxious Luna, I scheduled for us to floo at-”
“Eight, I know Draco. We must be going somewhere really, really nice tonight.” Getting up, Luna smiled and nodded approvingly.
He straightened out his silver and emerald striped tie for the tenth time. “I’m about to drag Granger over here.”
A little flushed, Hermione burst through the flat and dumped a pile of shoes onto the floor. “Before you say anything, sorry Malfoy if my heels scratch your precious wooden floor and sorry again! I just couldn’t decide!”
Luna chuckled and walked towards the heap of stilettos, flats, and pumps. She picked up a pair of patent yellow heels with thick black stripes wrapping around, “How about these? They’re my favorite, reminds me of buzzlebees.”
Frustrated, Draco stomped over to the pile, picked up the first pair of decent heels, and shoved them into Hermione’s arms. “Bloody hell woman! We’re going to be late!” Ushering Hermione and Luna into the fireplace, the fireplace chimed precisely at eight o’clock. “Hold onto me ladies, we’re going somewhere different tonight,” he said confidently as they vanished into the green flames.
With a whoosh, the trio landed in a dank room piled with dust and cobwebs. Coughing a little, Luna waved her wand to remove the dust from their clothes. Unfazed by the setting, she straightened out her long, shimmery, daisy yellow dress and readjusted her straps. “Well, this certainly is different Draco, reminds me of Knockturn Alley.” With a thoughtful glance around, she added, “I’m not sure if Hermione would like to eat here though.”
Draco helped Hermione up, who was on the floor trying to put on the strappy crimson red heels. “Trying to kill my feet? These shoes are a nightmare.”
“Your fault for bringing them into my flat,” Draco retorted as he made his way towards the wooden door. As soon as the three of them were in the alley, Draco smirked proudly. “Before you hurl needless questions at me, we flooed here so we won’t attract attention from the muggles.”
Hermione ran her hands through her curls and placed them on her right shoulder. Stepping a little closer to him, she asked “Where exactly are we Malfoy?”
Draco held out his arms for Luna and Hermione. Luna excitedly latched on while Hermione rolled her eyes and did the same. Stepping out onto the beautifully lit street with the musky scent of cigarettes, he announced, “Welcome to Paris mademoiselles.”
Hermione’s eyes widened and gaped. “You brought us to France? Merlin, how did you set up your floo so quickly?”
He shrugged. “How many times do I have to tell you that Kingsley personally owls me for my assistance? I just owled him this afternoon for a favor, and when I mentioned you, he was more than happy to oblige.”
Luna jumped up excitedly and turned to the pair. “We should quit wasting time talking and explore! Plus, we’re with the muggles! No one from the Prophet we need to worry about.”
Nodding along, Hermione chimed, “Brilliant. I don’t know about you two, but I’m starved.” Playfully leaning against Draco, she remarked, “I’m absolutely positive that Malfoy here has arranged a lovely dinner. Am I right?”
Draco scoffed, “I have reservations for La Closerie des Lilas so don’t get your granny knickers in a twist.
“Judging by Hermione’s dress, she definitely is not wearing granny knickers.” Luna thoughtfully added, “Probably no knickers at all.” With that, she slipped her arm from Draco’s, threw Hermione a little wink, and skipped off towards the restaurant.
Taken aback by the image that flashed across his eyes, Draco couldn’t help himself but to look at Hermione, who was surely, equally perturbed by the comment. He teased, “Well, well, I can’t believe that you get embarrassed over a little comment about your undergarments when earlier, you divulged your kinky robe preferences.”
Flustered, Hermione took a step back, with her heel, unfortunately getting stuck in a little rut making her wobble for a second. “I am most certainly not embarrassed Malfoy.”
“Give it a rest Granger. I could feel you getting hot through my suit.” With that, Draco gave her a mock salute and quickly caught up with Luna.
A little warm from the thick evening air, Hermione reached into her small gold chained black purse that was slung on her right shoulder and rummaged around for a hair tie. Carefully tying her hair, she began to walk. Still a bit disturbed by Luna’s keen discernment, she breathed in and out, trying to think of neutral images to clear her mind. A couple breaths later, Hermione relaxed; she tried to anyways. Although tonight was a frivolous affair, numerous thoughts were dampening her mood, especially Harry’s letter. It couldn’t be anything too serious since his tone was rather light and optimistic, so she mentally crossed off eminent danger from her list. Draco and Harry were also another concern. Strangely enough, she was more worried about Harry’s reaction. Contemplating sending Harry an owl telling him to behave himself sounded very Hermione Granger-esque, but only a fraction of her letters actually got to them, most of the owls she sent out came back, with her letters untouched. Her thoughts were disturbed as someone bumped her left shoulder.
“Je m’excuse mademoiselle!”
“Ce n’est pas grave.” Hermione turned around to face the stranger, but she was met by a pair of dark, curious eyes. The tall, dark, and uniquely handsome stranger gave her a puzzling look. Confused, just as she was going to say something, the stranger hurriedly spoke.
“J’espère que vous avez une merveilleuse soirée ! » And with that, he disappeared within the crowd.
The face looked familiar, but it was dark out and a lot of people could look similar in the dark. As she neared her friends, she pushed those thoughts back as far as she could. It was nothing a couple of drinks couldn’t fix, but she wanted to enjoy herself, preferably, with as little intoxication as possible. She saw Luna waving and quickened her pace.
Luna linked arms with Hermione. “Finally you’re here. Let’s get seated!”
As Draco cleared his throat, a burly man with dark hair and a peculiarly large nose clapped enthusiastically at the sight of the group.
“Ah Monsieur Malfoi! Welcome to La Closerie des Lilas! Follow me right this way!” With an exaggerated bow, he led them to their table. Giving Draco a nudge, he proudly said, “I’ve reserved the corner spot just for you ce soir. I know that you like privacy, especially with these two exquisite ladies.”
Draco chuckled. “Yes, you certainly know me well Francois.”
As they were being led to their table, Hermione and Luna gushed on about the atmosphere.
“Luna, have you ever been somewhere like this? It’s just so… so stunning. And the lightning! It’s so dim, but it sets such an ambience!”
“It is exquisite. It smells wonderful too. I do like the energy of this place.”
They navigated through the tables filled with lively conversation, the sound of wine trickling into glass, and the occasional hushed giggles coming from couples throughout. Finally reaching their spot, a snug round table tucked in a corner where the conversations were a little dampened, Draco promptly ordered wine.
“What shall it be tonight Monsieur? I know you fancy our wines from Burgundy, but for the ladies, I think Bordeaux might be more fitting.”
“How about a bottle of the Château Hosanna Pomero, I do hope you have that one.”
Slightly offended, Francois replied, “Of course we do! We only have the best, les meilleures vins á Paris!”
“Perfect. And as far as our meal goes, I trust your judgment Francois. This is their first time, so I hope you’ll prepare something that they will remember.”
With a hearty smile and a little bow, Francois hurried to the kitchen.
Gently placing the white napkin onto her lap, Hermione smiled at Draco. “You must come here a lot. Francois seems to absolutely adore you.”
Shrugging off his black blazer, he replied, “My family and I have been coming here since I was a little kid. Our little escape, for when we wanted to get away from nosy witches and wizards.”
Luna propped her elbows up on the table and rested her chin on her hands. “When my father and I wanted to get away, we would go searching for nargles.” Smiling, she chimed, “You guys did promise to come along next weekend. The leaves on our dirigible plums have been changing color; I know that we’ll definitely see some.” Luna turned to Hermione, patiently waiting for an answer.
Hermione smiled nervously and fidgeted with the silverware. “Well… You see Luna… that really really does sound like fun, but I have so much to do for work. You know that I work on the weekends too.” Silently thanking the dim lighting, she continued, “But you know that Draco is free on the weekends! I’m positive that he would love to accompany you.”
Luna turned her focus to Draco. “It’ll be fun. Don’t you think so?”
“Um… Yes it will. It will be a marvelous adventure.” Draco kicked Hermione under the table and smirked when she let out a little yelp.
After everyone’s first glass of wine, the mood lightened, and everyone was in a jovial mood. They discussed nothing of great importance. Draco talked about redecorating his flat into a homier atmosphere. And when Draco began to discuss his silk sheets, Luna went into great detail about her latest conquests in bed.
Luna raised her eyebrows and gave a little nonchalant wave of dismissal. “The last one was quite vanilla. You would think that being from South America, he would be a little more energetic. I’m not complaining though. He was indeed firm all over and very kind.”
Hermione sipped her wine. “Well, I’m glad you’re having fun in the evening Luna. But I won’t have to worry about any disturbances at night… right?”
At that comment, Luna uncharacteristically scoffed. “Of course not! You do know that a simple muffliato will do it, right Hermione?”
With a chuckle, Draco shook his head and waved the waiter over for some more wine. Leaning back on his chair, he took a moment to just look at his friends who were now finishing their entrées in a comfortable silence. He was happy. He was actually content. He finally found somebody who put up with his… well, slightly prat-ish attitude. Befriending Luna was definitely a strange affair. A couple months after the war, he was in the Ministry on the way to see Kingsley, and Luna approached him as if she did it every day. He had nothing against her. Yes, she was strange, but it seemed like she didn’t judge. Even if she was in the Malfoy dungeons for quite some time, she approached him as she did any others, with the same dream like demeanor.
“Draco Malfoy, good to see you again.”
Draco stopped in his tracks and looked down at Luna. “Oh, um hello Luna.” He glanced at her overly large orange flowered headband, her somewhat normal black converse, his shoes and at the floor, at anything but Luna’s persistent gaze.
Reaching into her lime green bag, Luna pulled out a copy of the Quibbler and held it in front of Draco. “I’m doing an article about reformed Death Eaters.” Not noticing Draco tensing up, she continued, “If I could interview you, I would certainly appreciate it. And of course, the numerous readers.”
Slowly taking the Quibbler, for some reason, Draco replied, “I don’t see why not.”
Luna beamed. “Lovely, I’ll owl you later today so we can set up a date. See you soon Draco.”
“Yeah sure, see you.” Draco tucked the Quibbler under his left arm and just watched Luna walk away like talking to him was nothing out of the ordinary. It was also fascinated him that she used the word Death Eater like she was describing her favorite pastry. An interview seemed harmless enough, thinking that no one really read the magazine anyways. He was fixated on the feathery headband Luna was wearing when she turned around and said just loud enough for him to hear.
“Don’t worry, people really do read the Quibbler. It’s quite popular.”
A little embarrassed, Draco scratched his head and went over to Kingsley’s office. After fixing the entrance to the Department of Mysteries, surely enough, a brown owl was perched in front of the Manor. What he thought was an uneventful interview turned out to be quite consequential. He had no clue that Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood were friends, but what surprised him the most was the fact that upon showing Hermione the interview, Luna insisted that he was changed and now, a good man.
He broke out of his reverie when he felt someone nudging his shoulder.
“Hellooo? Did you hear anything we said Malfoy?”
Sitting straight in his chair and taking a sip of wine, he replied, “Sorry Granger, what did you say?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Well, we were wondering what you wanted for dessert.”
“Dessert? Scarfed down your five course meal already Granger?”
Sticking her tongue out slightly, she retorted, “Well, I won’t have you ruin this evening, so on with it Malfoy!”
Luna looked up from the intricate designs of the silverware. “Yes, some chocolate mousse does sound delicious.”
Like magic, Francois appeared from nowhere, armed with an enormous tray of desserts. “I do hope that everyone has room for dessert! Take your pick ladies!”
With no hesitation, Luna grabbed the glass bowl filled with decadent chocolate mousse.
“Everything looks so delicious! Honestly, I can’t decide.” Hermione perused every dessert on the large tray and finally settled on the Crème Caramel.
Glimpsing at Hermione, who was still eyeing the dessert, Draco made his pick. “I’ll take the raspberry sorbet, the lemon and raspberry dacquoise, and la tarte aux fraises.”
Luna licked the remaining chocolate from her spoon. “Isn’t that one dessert too many Draco?”
“Not at all, I just wanted the raspberry sorbet.” Draco playfully pointed to Hermione who was ravishing her dessert. “The rest is for that starved beast. Oh don’t give me that look Granger. I saw you eyeing all those, and I thought I would do you a favor.” He pushed the remaining desserts towards Hermione.
Hermione kicked off her shoes upon arriving back at Draco’s flat. “I can’t believe you guys convinced me to go on a nice long walk along la Seine.” She picked up her shoes and headed towards the door. “I’m going to change.”
Shrugging off his jacket and taking off his tie, Draco mimicked Hermione’s voice. “Oh Malfoy, thank you SO MUCH for this delightful evening! You’re so kind for taking us all the way to Paris for dinner!”
“I can still hear you Malfoy!” Hermione yelled from the hall.
Luna cocked her head to the side. “Are you alright Draco? Your voice seems to be getting a bit squeaky.”
Draco began to unbutton his shirt. “The least she could do was thank me or acknowledge my efforts in treating you guys to a nice evening. It’s been a while since we went out like that.”
“Yes well, last time, the Prophet had a field day and kept insinuating that we were having nightly ménage a trois. If you didn’t notice Draco, you guys hardly argued,” Luna said as she watched Draco throw his shirt on the counter top.
He unbuckled his belt when he realized Luna was giving him a curious look. He remarked sarcastically, “By all means, you’re free to stay around and watch me strip Luna-- won’t even cost you a knut.”
She let out a little squeal and perched on top of the counter. “I am most certainly thankful for this evening Draco.” She finished with a saucy wink, “I have always admired your chiseled body.”
“While I do admit that my body is quite--” He was cut off by loud commotion. Pulling a grey shirt that Luna tossed over his head, the two ran over to Hermione’s flat. There she was, with a letter scrunched up in her left hand and a white owl hiding behind the orange couch. Draco almost let out a little laugh, but when Hermione whipped around and Draco saw her expression, he wouldn’t dare.
Luna slowly approached the white owl and gently petted its head. “Isn’t this Harry and Ginny’s?” She went over to the cupboard to find a treat for the poor owl. “Why are you so upset Hermione?”
Taking in a deep breath, Hermione plopped down on the couch. “Well for starters, this wasn’t addressed to me; it was addressed to you Luna.” Getting increasingly agitated, Hermione continued. “Harry explicitly stated that he did NOT want me to see this.”
Draco carefully made his way over to Hermione and sat down next to her. Taking his chances, he asked. “So, what is it that Potter wanted to keep secret?”
With a humorless laugh, Hermione screamed, “They’re coming tomorrow! Tomorrow evening to be exact!” The whole room stilled. Frozen, and the silent fog of tension set in.
Luna slipped out of the fog and went to the fridge to get some lemonade. Handing two glasses to Draco, she asked in an oddly light voice, “Well, isn’t this wonderful then? They’re finally coming back. Rather soon, but you’ll see them.”
Hermione replied in a weak voice. “I-I know. But, it’s just that…”
Draco handed Hermione a glass. Taking a great big gulp, he finished Hermione’s thoughts in a cool, collected voice. “It’s just that those two just waltzed into their little paradise, leaving you here. Now you feel bitter because you realize that they abandoned you. After the war, when you needed them the most. That’s not what friends do.”
Letting out a groan, she rested her head on his shoulder. “I guess you’re right. I never did deal with the emotional part of it. What a surprise that I, Hermione Granger, would just bury myself with work.”
Draco placed a comforting arm around her shoulders. Seeing Luna quietly slipping into the bathroom, he kissed the top of Hermione’s head. “Even though it isn’t a surprise, I think you dealt with it brilliantly. At least you didn’t just run away, like Potty and his little girlfriend did.”
Letting out a laugh, she nudged Draco. “Just because I’m a little upset at them doesn’t mean you can call them names Malfoy.”
Unfazed, Draco stated clear as day. “No matter what happens, we’ll always be friends Granger, whether you like it or not. Who knows? Maybe I’ll start calling you Hermione one day.”
A little surprised from Draco’s sincere response, Hermione just nodded, relaxing into his body. Realizing that she was falling asleep, she rose from the couch. “I think I’m going to change. I’ll just be a second.”
Watching her silently go into her room, Draco finished his lemonade. He reached for the crumpled letter on the coffee table and read it.
I know I haven’t spoken directly to you in a while, but I need a favor. Promise not tell Hermione? Hermione. I’m pretty nervous about coming back, and I don’t know how to tell ‘Mione about it. I think it’s best that at least one person knows we’re coming back Sunday evening. Yes, it’s rather last minute, but I don’t think Ginny can wait any longer. I have a feeling that she won’t be very pleased about the last minute news… And if you, ‘Mione, and Malfoy are really as close the Prophet makes you guys out to be… I’m almost positive that meeting Malfoy won’t go well.
So you’ll be like a liaison won’t you? I have a feeling that everyone’s going to take sides, and it’d be nice to know that at least one person will be neutral. I really can’t believe Ginny and I are coming back. Anyways, I’ll stop ranting. Merlin, I hope it goes smoothly. Thanks Luna and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Draco could see why Hermione was so frustrated. Bloody Potter thinks he can have everything his way. He let out a deep breath. Harry wasn’t wrong though. He was right; their first meeting wouldn’t go well. Sure, he reconciled with his best friend, the smartest and most compassionate witch in the world, but that didn’t mean that Potter would ever even acknowledge him as an acquaintance. But since he was Hermione’s friend, he would indeed try to be civil at least. He meant what he told Hermione earlier. No matter what, he’d make sure that they stayed friends. He dropped the letter back on the table when he heard Hermione coming out of her room.
“You read the letter, didn’t you.”
“Mm, yes I did.”
“I’m going to give him a piece of my mind tomorrow.”
“I’m sure you will Granger. He deserves it.” Draco motioned for Hermione to sit back on the couch.
Luna emerged from the shower in a lavender night dress. “I was thinking that owls are really intelligent creatures. I only moved in with you today Hermione, and it found me here. Rather poor timing on Harry’s part though.”
The three of them sat on the couch in silence, each pondering what would happen tomorrow. However, that didn’t last long when they heard a faint knock.
Draco jumped to his feet, cautiously making his way to the door. “Who the hell is that? Didn’t you strengthen the muggle repellant charm a couple days ago Granger?”
Looking confused, Hermione nodded. “Yes, I did. That’s strange… No one ever knocks because I let them floo in if I know them. But I think that the person is knocking on your door, not mine.”
Drawing their wands, Hermione and Luna stood behind Draco as he flung open the door with a bang. Blinking rapidly, Draco couldn’t believe his eyes. “Bloody Hell! What the hell are you doing here?”
“Well fuck me. The rumors are true. You really have become best mates with the Golden Girl and Looney Lovegood.”
Lowering his wand, Draco ran his hand through his hair. “Wow, what a way to say hello Blaise. I missed you too.”
Hermione stepped from behind Draco and exclaimed. “Blaise? Blaise Zabini?”
Blaise chuckled and extended his hand. “Nice to meet you Hermione Granger. I am indeed Blaise Zabini, and I also ran into you earlier this evening.”
“Ohhh, I knew that you looked familiar.” Hermione awkwardly smiled and gestured over to Luna. “And this is Luna Lovegood.”
Putting on his most charming smile, he shook Luna’s hand. “Pleased to finally meet you Luna.”
“Pleased to meet you too Blaise. What brings you here this late evening?”
Crossing his arms, Draco looked Blaise up and down. “Yes,” he drawled, “why are you here anyways? After more than a year of your dearly missed absence.”
Scratching his head and losing his cool demeanor, Blaise replied. “Well, it’s a long story… Um, can I crash at your flat for tonight?”
Carefully assessing his old friend, Draco shrugged. “Why not? If you found this place, it means that you asked my mother where I was. I trust my mother’s judgment.” Sensing Hermione’s discomfort, Draco remarked. “Don’t worry Granger, he’s not going to try anything while you sleep. We’ve been mates since birth practically if that makes you feel better.”
“Alright, if you say so Malfoy. You okay with it Luna?”
“I think it’s an excellent idea. But first, why don’t you come in Blaise? I’m sure you’re tired from wherever you’ve come from. You must try our lemonade. It’s quite delicious.”
Blaise looked at Draco just waltzing into girls’ flat in disbelief and shook his head. “This is seriously the strangest trio I have ever met in my life.”
He stepped into flat, to be greeted by an excited Luna levitating glasses of lemonade in the air.
Luna smiled at the surprised guest. “Yes, we’re an odd mix of friends, but in reality, we’re just witches and wizards.”
Draco casually put his arms around Hermione and smirked, “Odd is an understatement but welcome to the group mate.”