Chapter 2 : The proposition
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Draco Malfoy woke the next morning with a blinding headache and a dim recollection of the night before. He recalled somebody escorting him out of the pub, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember who it was or how he got wherever he was now. He opened his eyes for a split second to survey his surroundings, before clenching them tightly shut again as the bright sunlight seared his reddened eyes. He groped around unsuccessfully for his wand for a few minutes before resigning himself to the fact that it was no longer in his possession.
“Damn. It’s gotta be here,” he muttered.
“Awake, are we?” a familiar feminine voice called from a short distance away.
He cracked his eyes open a millimetre to find Hermione Granger standing in the doorway with a steaming cup of something hot. Tea, he supposed.
“Granger? Is that you?”
She sighed and pulled the curtains shut, closing out the sunlight. “Yes, Malfoy, it is. You can open your eyes, by the way.”
He looked at her in confusion. “Er. Thanks. Say… you don’t happen to have my wand, do you?”
“As a matter of fact I have. What, you thought I’d let you wander around my house putting jinxes on things?”
He sighed. “Fair enough, I suppose, I’ve been a right arse about things before. May I have it back?”
“No, you may not. You may be acting civilly now but for all I know it could be exactly that- an act. So tell me, Malfoy, what led you to get that incredibly drunk in the first place? If I recall last night correctly, and I daresay I recall a lot more that you do, you were spouting something about last night being your last night of freedom. Freedom from what, Malfoy?”
She eyed him suspiciously as he looked to the floor. “Merlin, Granger, it isn’t anything important. You don’t need to know.”
“You owe me one, Malfoy, whether you like it or not. Who dragged your sorry arse back from the pub last night again?”
“I’m going to hazard a guess and say that it was you.”
“Too right. You don’t think I have a right to know why that was necessary? I’m not allowed to know why I had to desert my friends at by own birthday celebration?”
He had the decency to look guilty at that. “Ah. Sorry, Granger.”
“If you were really sorry you’d just damn well tell me why!” she shouted.
“Fine! Now that I’ve got a decent job Mother’s trying to get me to… settle down, alright? She and Pansy’s mother made some stupid deal and now I’m being forced to spend all my free time entertaining someone I consider a sister more than anything else, because, to quote my dear mother, no-one else will ever accept me. Okay? Nothing illegal, nothing to hurt you or the boy wonder. It’s my personal problem. Now give me my damn wand back and I’ll leave you alone.”
They stood in silence for few seconds before someone knocked loudly on the door. Hermione motioned for Malfoy to stay put and walked around the corner into the hallway to get the door. Malfoy, of course, did not stay put, but crept as close to the doorway as he could without being seen by Hermione or whoever was knocking at her door at this time of the morning.
“Can I come in?” a male voice asked.
“I’m sorry, Ron, I’m busy getting ready for work. I’m going to be late if I don’t hurry.”
“Oh. Well, did you want to grab some coffee or something at The Chocolate Shop this afternoon?”
“Look, I’m really sorry, Ron, but today is just a bad day, I’m very busy. Why don’t you come out with the rest of us next Friday night instead? It’ll be fun. Look, sorry, I’ve really got to go. I’ll see you around.”
The door closed quietly and Malfoy scrambled to get back to the couch before Hermione returned. He was a tad too slow and turned around to find her staring at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Been eavesdropping, have we?”
He shrugged nonchalantly. “You’d have done the same were the situation reversed.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Well- maybe. What did you learn then? Anything of interest to the great Draco Malfoy?”
"Ooh, sarcasm, good one. Well, let’s see, I learnt that you’re far too nice to people for your own good. I learn that the Weasel still can’t move on after, what, a year? Oh, and I found the solution to both of our problems.”
“Both? You’re the only one with problems.”
“No, listen to me. Just hear me out, and if you don’t like my idea, you can say no and I’ll be gone and never pester you again. Deal?”
Hermione regarded him suspiciously.
“Why are you being so nice?”
“I benefit from this too, Granger. So will you hear me out?”
“Alright. Fine. So what’s your idea?”
He sat down on the couch and indicated that she should sit down also. Grudgingly, she did, and he leant in conspiratorially.
“Listen. The Weasel won’t leave you alone, right? And I need someone to take Pansy’s place in my mother’s stupid schemes. You’d be perfect- Mother wouldn’t approve of you enough to try to force us into marrying but you’re respectable enough that she’d drop the whole Pansy plan. In return, you get left alone by Weasley who will hopefully move on if he thinks you’ve moved on. Don’t worry- I’ll be a perfect gentleman about it, and I’ll even be nice to Potter at work. All you have to do is appear with me at a couple of official functions as my date- and even that would be beneficial to you because you’d get to mingle with people who could provide you with funding for your research.”
Hermione was dumbfounded. Had she just been asked out by Draco Malfoy? She looked up and found him eyeing her expectantly.
He really seemed genuine about all this, and Hermione found herself actually considering his offer.
“So… all I have to do is attend a few events?”
“You don’t even have to stay with me the whole time.”
“But we have to pretend that we’re involved.”
He waved his hand at her. “It won’t be that hard. We walk in together. I bring you a drink at some point. We leave together. People won’t be able to help themselves- they’ll be gossiping about us immediately simply because we’re us.”
She had to admit that he had a point.
“Well what sort of events were you thinking of?”
“There’s the charity ball the Ministry’s holding next Friday night, isn’t there? Let’s go to that.”
“Mmm, I heard about that. Helping fund some centre for something.”
“I thought it was werewolf rights. The Cherekov centre masquerade was last month.”
“Oh, yes, so it was.”
“Listen, Granger,” he said, standing up,” I know this is all a bit sudden. The ball’s not until next week anyway, so why don’t you take some time to think it over? We’ve both got to go to work soon anyway. Are you free tomorrow afternoon?”
“Er, no, sorry. I always have meetings on Wednesday afternoons. How’s Thursday for you?”
“No, I’m busy then. Friday?”
“Yeah, I can do Friday,” she said, nodding her affirmation, “but where?”
“Where do you want to meet?”
“Oh. I don’t know. I don’t exactly go out for coffee with acquaintances very often. Where was that place Weasley was talking about earlier?”
“The Chocolate Shop? It’s a little café down near the Ministry.”
“Is the food edible?”
“Well that’s settled then. I’ll meet you there at four.”
He turned to leave and almost immediately turned back and held out his hand.
“What do you want, Malfoy?”
“May I have my wand back now?”
“Oh. I suppose so.”
She gestured to a small table hidden in the shadow of the couch with a wand lying on it.
“See you on Friday, Granger.”
He grabbed the wand and disapparated with a crack, leaving a very confused Hermione standing in her living room. She wandered aimlessly back into her bedroom where she happened to catch sight of the glowing dial of her bedside clock.
“Oh no! I’m going to be late!” she cried frantically as she grabbed the wand from her bedside table. With a crack, the flat was empty.
Thanks for reading! If you have some time, please leave a review, I'd love to know what I can improve on. Oh, and you've probably noticed by now, but this story isn't going to be entirely serious, but I'm trying to make it at least a little bit plausible, especially by not making Ron just be a big angry brute. I guess I'm just not a fan of that characterisation. I'm not sure any of you will guess the twist at the very end though!
Thanks again <3 Jianne
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