Chapter 16 : The Engagement Party
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She went to take a step forward when she froze. Her hands immediately fiddled with the zip of her handbag, willing it to just open up quickly. She immediately wished that Draco was with her just then. One thing she did NOT expect to see when she arrived home was a certain somebody sitting on her couch.
A certain somebody named Ritch Mcenzee.
- - -
"M-Mcenzee?" Hermione asked, pulling her wand out but keeping it hidden behind her bag. But Ritch was too sharp. She brandished her own wand and disarmed Hermione in a second.
And now Hermione was just a little unnerved. She and Draco knew that it had been her who had slipped Draco the danger potion but they had never actually discussed it. They had been waiting for the modeling project to get completed first.
"Hello, Hermione", Ritch said, standing up and dusting her bright red-mini skirt. She was dressed in that and a short black corset blouse and her blonde hair had been thrown up into a high ponytail.
"What do you want?" Hermione asked, crossing her arms over her chest, trying to look more confident than she felt.
"You tell me", Ritch said, stepping forward in what looked like a very dangerous manner.
"Sorry, Ritch but I can't read minds", Hermione said, shrugging.
"Draco dumped me", Ritch spat. "In front of the whole office!" Hermione raised one perfectly done eyebrow. She didn't know that. All she knew was that he had dumped Ritch. "It was so humiliating! I know he doesn't love you!"
"How about you do both of us a favor and tell someone who cares?" Hermione asked calmly.
"How dare you!" Ritch said, coming to stand in front of Hermione. "Not only that, you also stole my position for the Modeling project! They had chosen me!"
"And then Draco replaced you", Hermione said, hoping to God that Draco hurried up.
"For a pregnant woman", Ritch said, anger blazing in her eyes. "A pregnant woman who should have died."
And then the blonde woman's head was thrown to the side, her cheek stinging and red where Hermione's palm had made contact with it. It was Hermione's chance to be absolutely raging.
"You tried to kill us!" She screamed in her face. "You're sick! I don't know how you live with yourself!"
But Ritch wasn't listening. She was still trying to recover from the shock of being slapped. When she looked up, she saw red. She raised her wand and threw a spell at Hermione, causing the brown haired witch to fly backwards into the wall beside the door.
"You have done more than you should have. You have said more than you should have!" Ritch cried, pointing her wand at the lady on the floor. Hermione closed her eyes, her back hurting badly, waiting for the worse when she heard movement beside her. A door opening and then-
"What the-" And a long line of swearing.
She opened her eyes and saw Draco grabbing Ritch's arm and shoving her against the sofa. He towered over her, anger evident in his eyes.
"How dare you enter my house without my permission and assault my wife! I can get you arrested for this! And for attempted murder!"
"I didn't do anything, you have no proof!" Ritch yelled in a high pitched, ear-piercing voice.
"Im sure a little veritaserum would do the trick", Draco spat.
Ritch shook her head with an unreadable expression on her face but before Draco could say or do anything more, she stood up and headed straight for the door. She threw it open and was running as fast as she could down the corridor. Draco didn't bother following her.
"She's not going to come back", Hermione croaked out.
"She will. And when she does, we'll be waiting and she will be taken to the Ministry", Draco said. He hurried over to her and helped her up, leading her over to the sofa and sitting her down. "Are you alright?"
"My back just hurts a bit but I didn't fall hard enough to break anything or injure myself in anyway", Hermione said, slumping down tiredly, her hand on her stomach and her head leaning against the back of the sofa. "Thank god you came."
"I should have come home with you." The sofa dipped beside her and he sat down. She turned her head towards him and smiled.
"Dont blame yourself again, Malfoy. At least you came on time. Let's just be thankful for that".
"How can you be so forgiving?" He asked, looking curiously at the witch in front of him.
"That's what friends are for", She said, still smiling as she closed her eyes and leaned her head back again.
If she hadn't been actually secretly listening for a response from him, she would have never heard him mumble the word, "Friends." The hint of a smile in his voice.
* * * *
That Saturday at seven in the evening, Hermione stepped out of the room, extremely content with what she was dressed in. She was wearing a knee-length black dress that belted up a few inches above her waist and tiered a few inches below the thick black belt. It had off-shoulder sleeves and fit her perfectly without hugging her body. She had a light layer of make-up on and was wearing simple black wedges. Her hair was flowing neatly down her back, having been half-secured behind with a clip.
"Are you dressed?! We need to go!" Hermione called, walking down the stairs.
"Just one....Second", Draco stepped out of Aaron's room while saying the last word, Aaron beside him. Hermione spun around on the staircase and a huge grin spread across her face at the sight in front of her. Draco stood in a black muggle-styled tuxedo with a black tie and Aaron was wearing the exact same outfit. He gave her a quick once over, but she didn't notice.
"You guys look so cute!" She squealed.
"Don't call me cute", Draco said, narrowing his eyes playfully at her.
"But look at you both!" Hermione said, the grin not leaving her face. "Stay here! I need a picture of this!" She hurried off to the cupboard downstairs where she remembered seeing a camera and brought it back to the staircase where they were standing. She held it up and told them to smile. Both did as they were told and when Draco muttered "Mothers" under his breathe to Aaron, the four-year old began giggling, causing Draco to laugh as well. A final click, or five, later, the three were flooing to the Parkinson Manor, a bouquet of roses in their hands.
"Hermione, Draco, finally!" Pansy came running to greet them in the living room. It was big, as any room in a Wizarding Manor would be and had sofas and couches placed around the center, a coffee table in the middle of the arrangement. Pansy was dressed in a yellow flowing knee-length strapless with her hair piled up neatly on her head. Hermione shuddered looking at her five inch heels. She would not wear those if she could help it. The black haired witch hugged them both and Aaron tightly and lead them outside. Blaise was just coming down the stairs, carrying a camera. He, like Pansy was wearing yellow- except a slightly more dulled shade along with a black suit.
"Hey!" Blaise exclaimed, heading their way. He shook hands with Draco, grins on both their faces and then hugged Hermione tightly until she was begging him to let go as she could no longer breathe.
"Everyone here yet?" Hermione asked, following Blaise and Pansy down the corridor.
"Pretty much. We were just waiting for you so that we can start giving our little speeches", Pansy answered.
"Shouldn't speeches be on the wedding day? Or the reception?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, but they're planning a smallish wedding ceremony for only close friends and family so they're doing the speeches today", Pansy said as they arrived in front of oak double doors. She pushed them open and they were met with the sight of a full, bustling hall of people- a lot of whom either had red or jet black hair. A buffet of food lined the side of the hall and there was a little raised platform at the front.
Ginny gestured them over and they sat down beside her at a table that seated her, Harry, Luna, Neville, George, Angelina, Pansy and Blaise. The Weasleys were all sitting together at another table along with Leander and Estelle Parkinson, Hayley and Pansy's parents.
"Alright! Looks like everybody's here then!" Pansy's voice rang out through the hall as she spoke into the mike on stage, silencing everybody. It was ironic how at the engagement party of two purebloods, a muggle device like a mike was being used. It showed how much times and traditions had changed.
"I'm going to be starting off the speeches today", She said, clearing her throat. "Everyone's settled down? Good. I think it's fair to say that what happened eight years ago brought out some significant changes in our beliefs and generally, in life. One change it brought out was that couples we never thought would get together, did. Theo and Lavender, for one", She raised the glass in her hand at the couple sitting at the table beside theirs. "And then there's the couple that was even more unbelievable. I still remember the day they got married- Draco and Hermione", She raised her glass to them and they awkwardly raised theirs to her. "And now a couple that I honestly never thought Id see.
Seven years ago, they didn't know that the other existed. Then the transfer program came along and the next thing we knew, Harry was writing to us telling us that Ron was hanging out with this girl more often than he hung out with him. Imagine my shock when I found out that it was my sister that Weaslebee was hanging around with". The people who were there when Pansy found out began laughing and the others all smiled. "The 'hanging out' turned into much more eventually and well, now they're here. Engaged. After seven years of knowing each other, they're finally getting married. And to be honest, I don't think Hayley could have found a better man", She smiled at Ron, who grinned back at her. "Seven years ago, I never thought Id see the day where my sister was getting married to a Griffindor. But it's happened. And weirdly enough, I really couldn't be happier. The Weasleys are already family to us and Im just very glad that it's their family that my sister is going to. I know for a fact that she's going to be safe and happy and loved. Hayley, Ron- Best of luck and Congratulations." She raised her glass and said, "To Ron and Hayley."
"To Ron and Hayley", The large gathering echoed.
Ginny came on stage next and stood in front of the mike. "Ironic isn't it? How we're gathered here to celebrate the engagement of two Purebloods yet we're using muggle technology", She said, gesturing to the mike. The audience nodded, smiling, agreeing with her. "It shows how times have changed. A Parkinson would never have thought she would get married into the Weasley household and the Weasley household never thought they would be welcoming a Parkinson to their family. But it's happening. And I'm so glad that it is. Hayley-" She addressed the young witch directly, who was seated beside Ron at table seating the Weasleys, "- You are a beautiful, intelligent, strong woman. Ron needs someone like you, trust me. Ron's always lacked in the brains department so it's great that he's finally found someone whose smart enough for the both of you". The entire hall laughed while Ron exclaimed, "HEY!" And glared playfully at his sister. She winked at him and continued.
"Bottom line is I couldnt be happier right now and Ron couldn't have found a better woman. You both are perfect together and I wish you all the best", She raised her glass in the end and toasted, "May you have a life filled with love and happiness." The others raised their glasses and began applauding as Ginny left the stage and Hayley and Ron went up instead. They spoke a few words and thanked everybody for coming but saved their vows for the wedding day.
The party carried on through the night and soon, at around nine, after all the food had pretty much disappeared from the table (Ginny blamed Ron while Pansy blamed Blaise) the middle of the hall had been cleared to form a dance floor and the dancing began. Draco stood up as Pansy appeared after her dance with Blaise and asked him to "move his arse and dance with her" and he lead her to the dance floor. Hermione was sitting at the table, fiddling with her fingers, feeling a little out of place considering she didn't actually know the people there very well. Who knew what could have happened in seven years? Theodore Nott had gotten married to Lavender Brown for Merlin's sake! She didn't want to take any chances with guess work either...
Someone tapped her on the shoulder and she spun around, looking up from her hands. Bright green eyes shined down at her and she smiled.
"Come dance with me", He said, holding his hand out. She took it, still smiling and went out to the dance floor with him. She rested her left arm on his shoulder and his right came to rest on her back while he held her other hand.
"How are you?" He asked, that familiar worry in his eyes.
"Im actually okay", She said truthfully. He gave her an incredulous look and she laughed lightly. "Im serious, Harry. Im being completely honest with you- things are really looking up."
"Finally", Harry said, trusting her words. "They're finally looked up. Im very glad they are. I know things aren't the same..."
You have no idea how right you are, she thought to herself, biting her lower lip. "Yeah."
"Im right aren't I?" Harry asked. She looked up at him, questioningly. "Things have changed more than you let us believe, isn't it?" To say Hermione was shocked would be an understatement. She would have frozen on the spot if she hadn't recovered fast enough.
She simply nodded. "There are things I can't explain even though I wish I could". She couldn't lie to him. She never could.
"And I understand", Harry said. "But if you need anything, you know you can-"
"-Always come to you", Hermione completed, knowing Harry too well.
"Indeed." He grinned.
"Harry, may I?" A voice spoke up from the side. They turned to it's direction and Blaise stood there, holding his hand out.
"How awkward would you look if I didn't take that hand right now?" Hermione asked, smirking in a way that could compete with Draco's.
"I don't wish to answer that question. But please don't", Blaise said, grinning. She laughed and took his hand after kissing Harry on the cheek. Blaise held her just as Harry had.
"How are you?"
She let out a frustrated huff. "Does everybody need to start a conversation with that?!"
"We're just worried", He answered softly. Hermione was still getting used to Blaise, considering she had never really known him at all before coming to this other reality. But from what she had experienced, he was as brilliant as Ron and Harry and was always the mature one in conversations gone wrong and was always the one that got rid of awkward moments.
"In that case- Im fine, Blaise. I said the same thing to Harry and Ill say it to you too- things are finally looking up."
"Im glad." Blaise smiled, "Everyone's seeing the change in both of you and we're glad that you're repairing your relationship." Hermione could only nod. He had no idea how much they still had to repair. "So hows the baby? Any idea about it's gender?"
Hermione grinned. "No, Blaise. Im only just about three months in. I predict a girl though."
"So do I", Blaise agreed. "Draco'll probably predict a boy again. Remember last time?" Hermione nodded, making a mental note to ask Ginny about what happened 'last time'.
"Ron's coming this way. Probably to ask you to dance so I'll leave now", He said. He pecked her on the cheek and said, "Call if you need anything."
"I will, thank you, Blaise", She smiled at the man before turning around to see Ron coming her way. He grinned and asked her for a dance to which she readily said yes.
"Don't ask me how I am. Please, Ron!" She said before he could even open his mouth.
"I wasn't actually", He said but she shot him a 'Oh, really?' look and he gave in, "Okay maybe I was but it's only because-"
"-You care", Hermione said, "Thank you, Ron. I appreciate it but I really am fine."
"I know there's something you're not telling us", Ron said, after hesitating a bit. "Something that you've told Ginny." She actually froze this time, too overcome by shock. "Im right, aren't I?" Damn right he was... She should have known her best friends would catch on soon enough. She had really underestimated them.
"Hermione", He sighed. "Im not going to force you to tell me. Ive seen how Ginny behaves now days and how often she comes to meet you or speaks to you over the phone. I know something's up but Im not asking you to tell me. Just know that if you need anything at all, we're here for you too, alright?"
"I know that, Ron", Hermione said, sighing as well. "But things are difficult right now. To explain and in general. Life's not being very easy on Draco or me but we're working through it, you know?" Ron nodded.
"That's good. You guys are strong, you know? Im sure you'll be able to do this together. You always have, you always will." Hermione nodded, not sure what to say.
"Where is Draco, by the way?" She asked.
"Dancing with Hayley, I think", Ron said, craning his neck to look around her. "Yes, he's dancing with her".
"Im feeling a bit tired, Ron, I'll catch up with you later alright?" Hermione said, honestly feeling tired.
"Of course, 'Mione", Ron said. He gave her a tight hug and told her to take care and walked off towards where Pansy was dancing with Harry. Hermione sighed and walked back to her table to sit down. An hour more through the evening and several people had asked her to dance and she had politely declined those she didn't know very well but had danced with people like Neville and Seamus and some of the girls like Ginny, Pansy and Hayley.
But no Draco.
He had probably danced with every lady in the hall but not once had he come to her. And for some odd reason, it was bothering her greatly. Finally, when the clock struck 10:05, Hermione stood up. She found Aaron playing with James and some other boys in one of the adjoining rooms and told him that she was feeling very tired and was going to go home and that Draco would bring him home. He nodded and gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek before turning back to playing with the others.
She quickly let Hayley know that she was going home as she was very tired, knowing that the young lady wouldn't ask too many questions like the others other than a simple "you will call us if you need one of us right?" She nodded and headed for the living room where the fireplace was. She was about to reach into the basket beside the fireplace for some floo powder when she suddenly remembered that the doctors had told her she wasn't allowed to floo alone while pregnant. She cursed and turned around to go look for someone, maybe Harry, who'd help her home.
She stopped where she was, looking at the figure leaning against the doorframe. Her red hair knotted tightly in a bun and her turquoise dress hugging her curves.
"Where are you going?" She asked quietly.
Hermione looked down at her feet before answering a soft "Home."
"What happened?" Ginny walked forward to come and stand in front of her best friend. "What happened?" She asked again, placing her hand on Hermione's bare shoulder.
"Don't lie to me."
"I'm just tired."
"Are you really?" Ginny challenged her, placing her finger under Hermione's chin and raising her head up to meet her eyes.
Hermione shook her head. "Malfoy's danced with everybody but me."
Ginny's eyes widened for a second but she recovered in an instant. "Why?"
"How do I know?" The brown haired witch shrugged. "Perhaps he just doesn't want to."
"And that's upsetting you?"
Hermione shrugged and Ginny took it as a yes. "You want to dance with him?"
"I'm being silly aren't I?" Hermione laughed without a trace of humor in the sound.
"No, love, you're not..." Ginny said, shaking her head. After a moment of silence, she took a deep breathe and asked, "Do you like him?"
"Sure, I mean we're actually friends now".
"No, Hermione- do you care for him?"
"Of course I care about him", Hermione said, "We've come to care about each other."
Ginny released an annoyed huff and said. "You're either not understanding my question or ignoring it. Caring for someone and caring about someone are two different things. You care about family and friends but you care for someone you have deeper feelings for. Hermione, do you have feelings for him? Do you, you know, like-like him?
Instead of the "No" she had prepared at the tip of her tongue, an "I don't know" came out of her mouth in an almost inaudible squeak.
"You have feelings for him?"
"I didn't think I did! I- I dont think I do either! But I don't know why I'm so bothered by him not asking me! I mean, it shouldn't matter!"
"But it does. And that's what counts in the end. That it does matter. And there's nothing you can do about it", Ginny said. "It's okay to have feelings for him..."
"No, no its not!" Hermione exclaimed. "This is the boy who tormented me for seven years and-"
"-And then loved you for another seven", Ginny said, interrupting her. "I know this is weird for you- it was like this six years ago too."
"I don't know, Gin..."
"It'll take time to figure things out", Ginny said. "But you will. If not today, if not tomorrow- then soon. And when you do, we'll work it out, okay?" Hermione nodded, feeling a lump in her throst. In a matter of seconds, tears rose to her eyes.
Ginny pulled her into a tight embrace and hugged her while she cried silently. She wasn't entirely sure why she was crying either... Was it because she was confused? Hurt? Frustrated? Angry?
Ginny took her home using the floo network before Hermione insisted that she would be okay and to go and enjoy the rest of her brother's engagement party. With one last tight, bone-crushing hug, the redhead flooed back to the Manor.
Hermione went up the stairs, not bothering with the lights and tripping over the stairs before catching herself quickly. She trudged into her room, tears still wet on her cheeks, trying desperately to push away the hurt that had welled up in her chest. She slipped out of her dress and let it pool on the floor. She let her hair down and slipped her shoes off, leaving them on the floor beside the dress. Putting on a white night gown, she brushed her teeth and crawled under the covers of her bed, curling into a fetal position.
She didn't allow herself to think a single thought about the blonde-haired Slytherin and instead resorted to taking a dreamless sleep draught that she found that morning, falling asleep almost instantly.
* * *
Draco tucked his sleeping son into bed and kissed him on the forehead before leaving the room, the bedside light left on. Guilt had settled at the pit of his stomach and increased three-fold when he quietly pushed open the door to Hermione's room.
From the light streaming in from the corridor, he could see the dress pooled on the floor along with her discarded shoes and a clip. He looked at her curled up figure and guilt washed over him again. When Ginny had told him that Hermione had gone home while he was looking for her everywhere, he had felt absolutely terrible. She had always been there for her. And him?
He was pathetic.
He noticed that she was wearing a nightgown and realized that she must have been absolutely tired. She always slipped on a nightgown when she was exhausted instead of taking the pain of hunting out a pair of shorts and a cotton top.
It scared him to think that he knew such an odd thing about her.
He entered the room and picked up the dress, straightening it and hanging it over the dressing table chair. He put the shoes into the cupboard and the clip on her bedside. Just as he did, he noticed an empty vial resting next the the night lamp. He lifted it up and held it facing the light. He opened the cork and sniffed it. Dreamless sleep potion.
She didn't want to see him that night clearly. She had got rid of the reason he came to her at night. Her nightmares.
Sighing, he walked up to her and pulled the covers securely up to her chin and tucked her hair behind her ear.
"I'm sorry", He whispered before leaving the room.
Every time he thought they were doing well and every time their relationship was developing- wait, what?! Relationship developing? Where the hell did that come from? Its not like... They were planning to be together! Right? Granger didn't expect that! Did she? They were... friends. She had said so. But did she expect more than friends from him?
Could he even go that far? With someone like her?
'Some like her'? That's cheap, Draco, he scolded himself. If she had proved to him anything in these few weeks away from their reality, it was that she was so much more than he had given her credit for. He had shown her that Mud-muggleborn or pureblood, it didn't make a difference. She had a heart of gold and more strength than he had seen in any woman.
The fidgeting when nervous, or biting of her lower lip when thinking, or furrowing of her eyebrows when deep in thought, or her crossing of her arms protectively in front of her chest when he gave her once-overs, or her stance with her hands on her hips challenging him to say something, or... Dammit, when had he begun noticing such trivial things about her? But all of those trivial things... made her. She was who she was- bossy, kind-hearted, innocent, know-it-all Hermione Granger- because of things like that.
Was she expecting him to be anything more than friends?
Running a hand tiredly through his hair, he changed his clothes and flopped into his bed on his back.
He didn't have the answer to that question. He needed to think of a way to make it up to her. To apologize for messing things up again. The question for now was, how?
* * * *
Awwww man, everyone expected him and her to have a close, lovey dance did you not? Sorry guise. My mind works a little differently some times. I decided to add this in just so that those above questions on their part could come into the picture ;) Does Hermione indeed have feelings for him? Does she expect more from Draco? How will Draco make it up to her? Soooo many questions. Luckily, all shall be answered in due time! A lot of people asked me about the "i wish you have kids who end up killing you" part of Draco's wish in the first chapter- that will come into play after a few chapters too but it may not be in the way you're expecting it so 1) Don't worry :P and 2)Brace yourselves. How ironic, those two haha.
Please please review guys! Im so so so close to 300 reviews, please make this happen for me, it would mean the WORLD to me :)
I love you all (:
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