A/N: Hello everybody! I just wanted to say that I'm so, so thankful for all the lovely reviews--and of course, to all those who are reading this story! However, I recently began my third year of college this week, and I'm not sure how often I can update. But that doesn't mean that I won't be writing whenever I have time or procrastinating! I think I've been updating every two/three weeks, and I'm going to try to keep it that way. Nonetheless, here is the latest chapter, and I hope you all enjoy!! As always, any comments/suggestions are always appreciated! :)
“Are you and Draco ever going to tell us?” Blaise inquired as he scooted his chair closer to Hermione’s.
Hermione glanced up from her papers. “What do you mean?”
“Well, are you guys dating? Shagging?”
Blushing bright red, she sputtered, “We’re not sh-shagging! Unlike you depraved nymphomaniacs!”
Blaise chuckled and cocked his head to the side, “Hermione, it’s been like a week. The only difference I see is that you guys kiss, more like a peck, on the lips instead of the cheek or something.”
“We’ve been busy with work; unlike you Blaise, all you do is follow Luna around.” She shrugged, “If you think about it, we’ve been literally together ever since he lived across from me. I guess it’s no different?”
“Well, I guess, but explain this Hermione. Draco’s pretty much meeting your parents tonight for Halloween or whatever. What are you going to say when they ask?”
Crossing her arms, Hermione retorted, “They’re not going to ask because you and Luna are coming—nothing but a group of friends going to my parent’s to spend a muggle Halloween.” Before Blaise could open his mouth, Hermione warned, “And don’t you dare think about engaging in your frivolous activities with Luna when she gets back.”
Blaise raised his hands in defeat, “Alright, alright! Someone’s eloquent today…now I have nothing to look forward to.”
Getting up from her table, Hermione shot Blaise a patronizing glare, “Don’t forget that you have to wear a costume. No buts! Also, if I ever see waltzing out of Luna’s room clad only in a pair of boxers, I will hex you.” She rolled her eyes at Blaise’s pout, “I have errands to run, but do tell Malfoy that I’ll be back by five, yes?”
“You’re like my bloody mother,” Blaise muttered under his breath.
“What was that, Blaise?”
Putting on his most charming smile, he replied, “Nothing at all—I’ll see you later.”
Hermione took a deep breath as she waited upon the entrance of the Malfoy Manor. Wrapping her beige scarf a little tighter around her neck, she reprimanded herself for not asking Draco to use his floo. She thought about Blaise’s comment earlier; he did have a point. After their first kiss, unceremoniously disturbed, their routine went about as usual—well, it was busier than usual. She was finishing up her Diricawl assignment and poured over the documents Narcissa had given her, and Draco was swamped with family business. Other than Draco going through phases where he wouldn’t talk to anyone, Hermione thought that he was faring quite well. However, the question of what they actually were kept bothering her. She knew that Draco wasn’t one to put labels on things, let alone relationships, but she really wanted to know; were they a couple? Technically they weren’t ‘dating’ because they haven’t had the chance to go literally go out. Hermione sighed; Blaise was right. The only novel activity they engaged in was briefly kissing each other on the lips hello or goodbye. At the thought of actually snogging with him made her slightly blush.
“Hermione, it’s good to see you.”
Startled, Hermione jumped back, “Narcissa! I didn’t hear you coming.”
“Well, I was taking a stroll in the gardens when I saw you just standing there. You could’ve knocked, you know.”
“Oh! I thought I did! I’m sorry, my mind was elsewhere.”
With a chuckle, Narcissa led them inside, “No matter, I was expecting you. Now, how about some tea?”
“Actually, I have to be at my parents’ soon.”
“Ah yes, I do recall Draco talking about the muggle tradition of…wearing costumes.”
Hermione giggled and replied, “I’ll make sure to send you a picture. I have something picked out for him.”
Narcissa raised her eyebrows, “That certainly sounds comedic. Let’s get inside; it’s quite chilly today.” Ushering Hermione in, they walked towards the library. Sitting down on the plush chair, Narcissa said, “I’m sure you’ve come with a reason, dear.”
Folding her hands in her lap, Hermione clearly stated, “I came here to tell you that I-I accept your offer. I’ve read over the documents, and I honestly think it’s brilliant.”
“That is absolutely wonderful news, Hermione,” Narcissa uncharacteristically squealed. “I wasn’t sure if you’d accept, but I’m so glad you did.” After glancing at Hermione’s surprised expression, Narcissa cleared her throat and regained composure. “I also have some news that you might like. I met with the Minister earlier this week. He agreed to either approve or disapprove the muggle branch after he has a formal meeting with you, Draco, and Blaise.”
Hermione was stunned. “You-you met with the Minister?
“I couldn’t just stay in the Manor all week, so I put some documents together and paid him a visit,” Narcissa replied with a satisfied smirk.
“There you are, Granger. Where have you been?” Draco asked, shrugging on his black jacket. Leaning down, he kissed a rather excited Hermione. “Blaise told me to be here by four.”
Hermione shook her head, “I told him five, but that’s no matter.” She pulled Draco towards the orange couch and sat down. “So, I have something important to tell you.”
Draco shifted against the couch, unpleasantly reminded of what he found the other day. “Hm? What exactly is the news that’s gotten your usual serious demeanor all excited?”
Playfully punching his shoulder, Hermione announced, “I agreed! I decided to take up Narcissa’s offer. And you’d be surprised that she already met with Kingsley and said that if the three of us…”
Nothing processed in Draco’s mind after she said that she agreed. It was great—brilliant because she was brilliant. But he didn’t expect her to actually jump on board. He knew how twisted things could be, and honestly, he didn’t want her to get involved.
“Draco? Malfoy? Did you hear anything I said?”
“What about your current job, Granger?” He asked flatly.
Hermione was taken aback by his response. “Oh—well the Diricrawl assignment is nearly over and-“
“Do you have any idea how messed up the company is? Hm?”
“Draco—I…I thought you would be a bit more, I don’t know, happy.”
With a heavy sigh, Draco took Hermione’s hands in his. “I am happy. Hell, I’m ecstatic that you’ll be working with me. But, I don’t want you to be involved with a potential…mishap. I’ve seen the overview of the infrastructure and-”
“I know the potential problems, Draco! What do you think I’ve been doing all week? I’ve seen the reports, files, everything,” Hermione exclaimed while pulling her hands out of his grasp.
He couldn’t help but feel a little hurt when she retracted from him. Running his hands through his hair Draco struggled to keep his voice even, “I know. But it could get messy, Granger. And honestly, do you think that the muggles have clean hands? It takes certain types of men to make shady deals with-“
“But I read the summary about the branch! It looks quite respectable.”
“How do you think the previous Malfoys actually achieved in getting those deals, Granger, huh? Do you think my father just waltzed into a room full of muggles and politely asked?”
“I-I…didn’t think of it like that,” said Hermione casting her eyes down.
Taking in a deep breath, Draco said gently, “That’s why, Granger. I’m not doubting your intelligence or discernment.” He lifted Hermione’s face towards his. “It-it’s because you’re too…too good. I like that about you, and…well, you’re my girlfriend—even though we haven’t done anything particularly exciting yet,”
“That’s why you’re not happy about this?” Hermione chuckled and put a hand on his cheek, “Did you know that your girlfriend has been through quite a lot? I think I can handle a few muggle business men, Draco.” When she saw him furrowing his eyebrows, she said lightheartedly, “Besides, I’ll have you around if that makes you feel better.”
“Yeah, I guess so. And besides, I’m technically the boss,” he said with a smirk.
“If you’re the boss, then how come I know what the muggle branch actually does and not you?” Hermione retorted with a smirk of her own.
“Your smirk is surprisingly very Slytherin, Granger. Should I be worried?” Draco pulled her closer to him and smiled when she placed her head on his shoulder.
“Well, my boyfriend is the poster boy for the Slytherin house, so it should be no surprise if I happen to pick up a few traits here and there.” Snuggling closer, she asked, “How come we always end up arguing?”
Draco shrugged, “Don’t know, but I find it sort of amusing. Don’t you think so?”
Blaise clapped his hands from the doorway and sarcastically remarked, “Yes, yes! It’s so amusing! And I congratulate you, mate, for finally bloody stating that she’s your girlfriend!”
“Get lost, Blaise,” Draco shouted from the couch.
“Well, I would get lost, but sadly, Luna still isn’t home.” Plopping down next to Hermione, Blaise muttered, “Shouldn’t you get going?”
“Yes, we should. Draco, are you all ready?”
“Yup because some idiot told me to be here at four,” Draco drawled.
“Right—I’m going to change, and I’ll be right out. And don’t forget to wear a costume, Blaise! I left Luna a note earlier so she should have them for you.”
Getting up, Blaise frowned, “Do we have to wear one? I don’t see Draco wearing one.”
Hermione replied, patting her purse, “It’s because they’re in here. Just make sure you get to my parents’ at a reasonable time, okay?”
Draco was nervous. He and Hermione had just apparated a couple blocks away from her quaint, suburban home. With each step, he was positive his intestines were coiling tighter and tighter around his stomach. He glanced over to see Hermione quite the opposite. She wasn’t skipping down the road or anything, but he knew that she was enthralled at the thought of him spending Halloween with her family. It wasn’t the first time seeing her parents, but it was the first time meeting them as her…boyfriend. He couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty at the timing of their growing relationship. He had wanted to take her out, but they were both impossibly busy. Deciding to make up for lost time, Draco took his hand out of his pocket and slowly interlaced his fingers with hers.
Hermione squeezed his hand gently and said with a smile, “This is nice, Draco.”
Looking around at the little houses all lined up, perfectly trimmed yards, and weird pumpkins lying about, he squeezed back, starting to feel more at ease, “Yeah—it really is.” Kissing the top of her head, Draco pulled her closer as they walked on the sidewalk, stepping on the crisp autumn leaves.
“We’re here, Draco,” Hermione said as she gently tugged on his arm.
Draco’s mouth dropped, “Merlin, this place looks…creepy.” He almost jumped back when he realized there was a bloody, literally bloody skeleton sprawled across the front porch. To his right, there was a little witch that cackled about every two seconds, “Witches don’t look like that, what’s wrong with, WHAT THE FUCK!” Upon hearing Hermione scream, Draco pushed her behind him into a corner and spun around to see a man…thing… wearing some sort of mask, wielding some sort of sharp, metal weapon, sprinting towards them. “Dammit, Granger! Where’s my wand!”
Just then, the front door swung open and there was Mrs.Granger. With a hand on her hip, she scolded, “Didn’t I tell you to put the chainsaw away, Richard? You’re going to hurt someone!”
Turning the chainsaw off, he pulled off his mask, “Sorry, dear. But I must say that I do like Draco here. He practically threw himself in front of our Hermione—unlike that one fellow, Ronald Weas-Weasel-Weasley?”
Draco straightened out his jacket and stepped to the side so Hermione could step out, “Nice to see you again Mr. Granger. I, um, apologize for my language earlier—really caught me by surprise.”
Chuckling, he patted Draco’s shoulder, “Call me Richard, and no worries, I did startle you two quite a bit.”
“Come out, Draco! You’ve been in there forever!” Hermione rapidly knocked on the bathroom door.
“You didn’t tell me that we had to dress like… dental hygienic products!”
“My parents are dentists—what did you expect? If it makes you feel better, I’m dressed as a toothbrush.”
Draco pushed the door open with a squeak and came out a defeated man. “I don’t see why I had to be a bloody tube of toothpaste,” he muttered.
Hermione could barely contain her laugh, “D-Draco…you look absolutely—fabulous.” She looked at him up and down in his toothpaste costume. It looked like it came out from a horrid infomercial—complete with a hole cut out for his face and minty green stripes running along the sides. “So—you like my costume?” Hermione made a dramatic turn.
“Well, it’s not much of a costume except for the fact that you have a huge bristle on your head.”
Scoffing, Hermione gestured towards her outfit. “Didn’t you notice that I’m dressed all green? And look, I even embellished a little Slytherin crest on my shirt for you.”
Taking a closer look, Draco bent down and gently touched it, “It’s quite nice, and I appreciate the sentiment, Granger.” Hermione let out a little cough, and Draco realized exactly where his face was almost pressed up against and where his fingers were grazing.
“Oh there you guys are!” Mrs. Granger exclaimed, “Richard! These two look absolutely adorable together—bring the camera!”
“Mum, a camera is hardly necessary!”
Mrs. Granger dismissed her daughter with a flippant shrug, “Nonsense! Now—let me squeeze in between you two.” Oblivious to Draco’s discomfort, she wrapped her arms around their waists and smiled for the camera, “Say cheese!” She took the picture from Richard and placed it in Draco’s hand. “Now you’ll remember this forever—where’s Luna and her new…friend, Blaise?”
“Luna had some work to finish up, but she’ll be here soon.” After shooing her parents away, Hermione glanced up at Draco, who was standing there, staring at the picture. “Draco? We have some time before dinner—how would you like to see my room?”
“That sounds good, Granger. Let’s get away before your charming mother decides she wants more pictures.”
Following Hermione, Draco looked down at himself and felt absolutely ridiculous. The only time he had to wear costumes was either for one of his mother’s fancy balls—for those, dress robes were the only required attire. But he had to admit, this was rather…entertaining. He surely didn’t mind Hermione’s attire—particularly how the green outfit seemed to be a couple of sizes too small, much to his pleasure. He also felt relieved that her parents hadn’t mentioned anything about their new relationship. Being in a toothpaste costume wasn’t going to help much with his nerves. Walking down the hall, they made a right and entered a surprisingly feminine room—walls painted lavender and white and pink bedspreads draping across the bed.
“This room is quite feminine,” said Draco amusedly.
A bit embarrassed, Hermione replied, “My mum took the décor into her own hands. She was worried that all I liked to do was buy books; I guess she took things a little too far.”
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, Draco patted the seat next to him. “If only she could see your closet now—she’d be so proud.”
“Thanks for doing this—going along with the Grangers’ weird Halloween traditions.”
“It’s…it’s surprisingly fun. I thought your parent’s would be more intimidating, your father at least. But honestly, it feels like I’ve been over countless times already.”
Hermione smiled, “I’m really glad you feel that way.”
Looking into her eyes and leaning in for a kiss, Draco replied, “Me too.” However as he caught their reflection in the mirror, Draco sniggered. Realizing Hermione’s alarmed expression, he quickly explained, “No! It’s not you, Granger. I just never imagined that I’d be kissing you in a ridiculous toothpaste costume.”
Glancing back, Hermione laughed, “Yeah, it almost looks like you’re trying to put some paste on my brush.”
Hearing Hermione’s parents calling them downstairs, Draco grumbled, “So bloody hard to kiss you properly.”
Dinner went surprisingly splendid for Draco. He had imagined many, many things to go wrong—blurting out inappropriate comments about their daughter, spilling the wine, and hell, even choking on the corn. But the only significant event was when he and Hermione announced their new jobs. Richard was taken aback by how such a responsibility was thrust upon his shoulders while Mrs. Granger was grieved by the death of his father, making him realize exactly where his Hermione got her enormous capacity of compassion.
After finishing their meal, Richard retrieved two wrapped boxes and placed them in front of Draco and Hermione. “Now, before you two get excited and feel burdened by this present, I must say that I’m sort of re-gifting them,” he said seriously. Grinning as he saw Draco’s slightly panicked face, he told them, “Don’t get so worried, I don’t need anything in return—Draco. Anyways, after you explained the non-magic folk branch of the company, I figured that these would come in handy.”
Slowly tearing at the black and orange wrapping paper, Hermione squealed, “I’ve always wanted one of these, but I was never sure if I needed it!”
With a furtive glance towards Hermione, Draco assumed that this was something of importance. “I don’t mean to be…unsentimental, but what is this…iPhone?”
“Oh Draco, it’s a cell phone!” Seeing his flustered expression, Hermione put a hand over his, “It’s sort of like an owl, minus the owl.”
“Right—we can talk on these…phones, am I right?”
Richard let out an unruly, guttural laugh. “I’m sorry—it’s just that everyone has one and knows what it is, and I can’t help but find this amusing. Excuse an old man who sees teeth every day, yeah?” With a firm pat on Draco’s shoulder, Richard exited the room with a little hop.
“I feel so bloody stupid, but if all the muggles have one, might as well have one too.” Handing his box to Hermione, he said with a sigh, “You better put this in your bag or else I’ll end up breaking it.”
Hermione took it from his hands. “Draco—I’ll show you how to use it when we get back, okay?”
“Sounds good, Granger.” Draco cast a quick cooling charm on himself and asked, “So—when does this trick-or-treat begin?”
Hermione glanced at the clock, “Actually, our little neighbor Max should be ringing the doorbell in about ten seconds.”
And surely enough, the doorbell rang. Hermione pushed the bowl of candy into Draco’s lap and urged him to follow her. “Hello, Max! Well, aren’t you the best looking Batman!” As Draco awkwardly put a handful of candy into Max’s bag, Hermione gushed, “And you have some really hard muscles! Very impressive.”
Max grinned as he shyly cast his eyes down. “Thanks, Hermione.” He slowly looked up at Draco and commented, “You have a toothpaste this year, that’s a first.”
“Oh! Yes, he’s a dear friend of mine and decided to join in this Halloween!” Hermione ruffled Max’s black hair and said, “Make sure you get to all the houses before it gets too dark. And don’t forget to stop by one last time before you’re done for the night, Batman.”
Max ran over to the next house accompanied by Robin, and Draco shut the door. “That little kid has such a crush on you, Granger.”
Before she had a chance to protest, the doorbell rang again, and Draco swung open the door. “Why the hell are you dressed like a bloody lobster.”
“I could say the same to you, mate. Your costume is a tube of toothpaste!” Blaise retorted with a condescending laugh. Holding up his hand, he slyly whispered, “You’ll never guess what Luna’s dressed as.”
“Marvelous! Everyone’s here,” exclaimed Mrs. Granger. “Oh—my, you must be…Blaise?”
Giving an elegant bow, he took her hand and kissed it, “Please to meet you, Mrs. Granger.”
Exchanging looks with Hermione, Mrs. Granger blushed, “Pleased to meet you too. Now, where’s Luna?”
Draco pointed to an orange figure walking up the driveway, “There she is—is she…she’s a carrot?”
Draping one of his bright red claws across Luna’s carrot top, Blaise cleared his throat, “So—where’s the candy?”
“Yes, I heard that muggle candies are quite delicious. Hermione told me one of them tasted like the rainbow—I’ve always wanted to taste one,” Luna chimed.
Richard approached the growing crowd around his front porch, “Mr. Lobster,” he said suspiciously, “Aren’t you a bit too old to trick-or-treat?”
“Stop being so negative, dear. This is Blaise—Hermione’s friend and Luna’s…boyfriend?”
Blaise extended his claws, “I would shake your hand Mr. Granger, but I don’t want to claw your hand—get it?”
Everyone forced out a meek chuckle, and Draco rolled his eyes. “That’s not funny at all, Blaise.”
Winking towards Mrs. Granger, Blaise shrugged, “Can’t blame a guy for trying.”
Hermione changed into her lavender nightgown—on Draco’s insistence. She couldn’t help but feel a bit complacent for Draco’s first Halloween had gone so well. Her parents had also granted her only request that they not treat Draco any differently after she told them they…liked each other. Hermione let out a soft sigh as she felt two strong arms wrap around her from behind.
“Finally, some time to ourselves,” Draco breathed against her bared shoulder.
So many emotions raced through her body as she relaxed into his embrace. However, there was one question—begging to be asked. It’s not that she didn’t know the answer to it; she just needed to hear it. “Draco?”
“Mm?” He said between feathery, impossibly light kisses moving up her neck.
“Draco—“ Hermione felt him still at her tone of voice. Whispering, she asked, “What are we?”
Draco turned Hermione around and grazed her cheeks with his thumbs. He kissed her forehead—then her nose, and finally her lips as he said in a breathless murmur, “Together—that’s what we are.” Glancing at the clock, he looked down at the sight of his beautiful witch, with her eyes closed and mouth ever so slightly parted. “It’s now officially the first of November.”
“What does that—“
Draco gently put a finger over her lips, “It’s now officially November first.” Taking in a deep breath, he ran his hands along her sides. “Will you, the Hermione Granger, be my girlfriend?”
Hermione was overjoyed to say the least as she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him down to kiss him fully on the lips.
With a chuckle, Draco said against her eager lips, “I’ll take that as a yes,” as he gingerly pulled down the straps of her delicate nightgown and tumbled onto the bed.