Hey again! I hope you're all enjoying the story so far. It's going to really get going very soon, I promise! I just didn't want to rush the whole set-up, or have Draco and Hermione miraculously getting on well from the very beginning. Draco's obviously changed in the years since the war, but I can't imagine they wouldn't still bicker.
Oh, and if it's been a while since you read chapter one, you should remember that Harry and Ginny had a habit of booby-trapping Hermione's gifts, and that's why she didn't open the envelope in the pub. *nods*
Anyway! Read on and enjoy!
Saturday morning came, the clouds parting and the sun showing its dazzling face over the town. All in all it was a lovely day for the beginning of autumn, and Hermione Granger could be found sitting in her living room reading her favourite book, all her cares forgotten. The only way her morning could get any better would be if she had a hot cup of tea, but she was all out and didn’t particularly feel like dealing with the hustle and bustle of the shopping centre.
It was going to be a wonderful day, she just knew it.
The crack of apparition and a sharp knock on her door a few seconds later interrupted her peace. A glance at her clock assured her that it was only 9 a.m.; an hour at which she felt no rational person would have any reason to bother her. She knew for a fact that Harry had something planned with Ginny and they would be busy for the whole morning, so it couldn’t be them. If it was Ron again, she would not be responsible for what she’d do.
The person knocked again and she regretfully rose from her chair. Wishing that she’d taken the landlady’s offer to get one of those peep-hole things installed in her door when she moved in, she strode down the hallway opened the door to find Malfoy standing there with an annoyed look on his face.
“You didn’t owl me,” he whined.
She almost slammed the door in his face. This is why her relaxation was interrupted?
“You arse, it’s only nine. The day’s barely started! I was going to do it later.”
“Nonsense, this is the prime of the day!” he replied, suddenly overly cheerful. “Besides, I was thinking to myself this morning that my house has wards and things and your owl probably wouldn’t be able to reach it. Either way, I’m here now, so you don’t have to owl me at all. Oh, and I brought some tea.”
He picked two cups up from the ground beside him and looked at her expectantly.
“Well? Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“No, Malfoy, I’m not. I know I said that I didn’t have anything planned, but that doesn’t mean that you can just barge in at any time. And- how did you find my house, anyway?”
He shrugged. “You brought me here, remember? I just apparated.”
“Yes, but if I recall correctly, you were unconscious at the time. You never saw the outside of my house, so you could have only apparated inside.” She paused in realisation. “Oh Merlin, you could have come to my house at any time, I need to put wards up an-”
“Okay, so I apparated into your hallway and then let myself back out the front door. Forgive me for trying to be polite and courteous," he said, cutting her off. "Really, Granger, do you honestly expect me to break into your house? For all I know you could be having a tea party with Potter and I’d get my arse kicked.”
She would have laughed at the absurdity of the situation if she wasn’t still so annoyed. “Just promise not to do it again.”
“Well, I know where you live now, so I can just apparate to your front door,” he reasoned.
“So all the muggles that live around here can see you? What a good idea, Malfoy, just brilliant.”
He sighed. “Well then I’ll owl you and warn you beforehand.”
Two teenage girls walked down the hallway of the apartment complex and Hermione bit back her retort. This was getting them nowhere, and no doubt her neighbours would start trying to listen in soon- if they weren’t already. That was the problem with living in an apartment; there was always someone around.
“Well, look, you’re here now, so I suppose you might as well come in and we can sort this all ou-”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to say, Granger.”
“-we can sort this all out because there’s no reason for me to spend any more time with you than I have to, you git.”
She stepped back and held the door open, contemplating slamming it shut in his face at the last minute.
Her rule-abiding side prevailed and he breezed past her regally to settle himself in the chair she had been occupying. Still slightly disgruntled, she settled herself down on the couch, trying to stay calm as he inspected her possessions.
Well, at least he’d brought her tea.
“I like it,” he announced at last.
“Your flat. I like it, it suits you.”
He picked up her novel from where she’d left it and began flipping through the pages.
“Do you mind? I was reading that," she complained.
He put the book back gingerly and picked up one of the cups from the small coffee table, handing her the other. She took it hesitantly.
“You need to tell the Potters,” he told her seriously. “Maybe even Weasley.”
“About what?” she asked, confused. “That you like my flat?”
“Us, of course,” he said, looking at her like she was completely idiotic. “I don’t care if you tell them the truth or if you pretend that we actually care for each other, but you sure as hell need to tell them something. If we just suddenly turn up somewhere together, they’re going to think that I’ve slipped you a love potion or something daft like that and attack me. In fact… it’s probably better if you tell the Potters the truth, because they’ll be more likely to believe it. Besides, it’s awful trying to keep track of the lies you’re telling people. I think eventually they’d catch you out, and that probably wouldn’t be good for your friendship.”
“Er, yes, I suppose that makes sense,” she said, her mind whirling. Was he just trying to look out for himself or was he actually being nice to her?
“Of course it makes sense, I said it,” he said arrogantly. “So, now that we’ve agreed on that, we need to agree on some ground rules.”
“What, like no barging into each other’s houses?”
“Merlin, Granger, I said that I would owl you next time.”
“And you’d better. Oh, and don’t forget that you promised to be nice to Harry.”
He sighed. “I remember, unfortunately.”
There was an awkward pause. Hermione stood up and began to walk from the room.
“Er, where are you going?” Malfoy asked.
“To get a piece of paper and a pen to write this all down,” she explained. “It’s not that I don’t trust you- wait, no, that’s exactly what it is. I don’t trust you and I’d much rather have this all in writing.”
She returned a moment later with the promised pen and paper, quickly writing down what they’d already agreed on. Malfoy, for once, didn’t complain- if he was in her position, he’d want a safeguard as well, and he was glad that she had enough sense to think of it. He really wasn’t very good at dealing with people he regarded as stupid.
“We probably shouldn’t be involved with anyone else, either,” he added. “If we sleep around or flirt with other people then the media will find out eventually, and then this whole charade will be worthless.”
Hermione nodded. She was surprised that he had suggested it, but it made perfect sense. Besides, if either of them met someone that they were actually interested in then they’d just break the agreement. She wrote it on the list below the rest.
“We also shouldn’t mention this to anyone else, or even speak about it any time that we’re in public,” he continued.
“What about Harry and Ginny?” Hermione asked. “I have to tell them at some point.”
He waved his hand dismissively. “It’ll be alright if you tell them now, because no-one’s interested in us yet. The second this goes public, though, the media are going to be all over us, and if they find out the truth there’ll be no second chances.”
“Then we need to act nice to each other in public, too,” Hermione said, “especially at public events where the media will be there anyway. Well, I’d like it if we tried to be civil to each other all the time, but we’ll have to make a special effort in public.”
She hesitated, waiting for him to disagree with her, but he simply nodded.
“You’re right, I’m afraid. Just don’t think that you can bully me into doing things for you that way. I’m not going to hang around your friends or family or something absurd like that. This is between us.”
Hermione nodded reluctantly. Harry wouldn’t like it, but she could see a lot of fights starting otherwise.
“Oh, and I almost forgot,” Malfoy said. “Do not go seeking the media yourself. I know that we’re using them to publicise this, but they’re going to be more interested in us the more secretive we are. Each one of them is going to be hoping to get the big story about us and that’ll be sure to keep them interested.”
“You sure have given this a lot of thought,” Hermione murmured, writing the latest addition onto their list.
“Well, Malfoys don’t do things by halves,” he informed her. “If I’m going to do something, then I’m going to put everything I have into it and do it right.”
Hermione almost smiled. “I wish everybody thought like that.”
“Well, if there’s one thing I can’t tolerate in people, it’s complacency. Well, that and stupidity. I have no idea how I put up with Crabbe and Goyle for all those years.”
“Neither of which I am, thankfully,” Hermione said cooly. “This just may work after all, Malfoy.”
“Of course, it’ll work, Granger,” he said, baring his teeth in a grin. “What could possibly go wrong?”
“I can think of a few things.”
“Nonsense. Now, we need to come up with a cover story to explain how we reconciled after all these years…”
It took them an hour to fabricate every detail of their supposed reconciliation. Malfoy was still lounging in Hermione’s favourite chair, though the sun had moved to cover a different part of the room, and had begun to casually flick through the book she had been reading before he arrived. Hermione herself had gotten hungry and was in the kitchen getting a snack. Every now and again she could be heard muttering to herself, though whether it was about what she was doing or the fact that Malfoy was still in her house was anyone’s guess.
She emerged with a plate of apple in one hand and a letter in the other.
“I didn’t know what you liked to eat,” she said apologetically.
He put the book down and took a slice from the plate. “This is fine. Stop worrying.”
“It made me realise, though, that we need to get to know each other a little better. Just… common things that your friends would know about you. Otherwise we’re bound to get caught out at some point.”
“Honestly, Granger, will you stop worrying? It’ll be fine. Getting to know each other a bit better probably wouldn’t be a bad idea though, I’ll give you that. Does that letter you’re holding have something to do with it, by any chance?”
“This? Actually, no,” she replied. “This is Harry’s and Ginny’s birthday present. I found it on the bench in the kitchen. Apparently I left it there the other night because someone got themselves a little too drunk and I was busy looking after them.”
“So open it now,” he said, ignoring her taunt. “I’m curious as to what one could give Hermione Granger that isn’t a book.”
“Just because you’re unimaginative doesn’t mean that everyone else is,” she said. “Wait there.”
She placed the letter on the table and began leaving the room.
“Hey, wait, where are you going? You don’t have to open it now if you don’t want to, it was just a suggestion.”
“Stop worrying, Malfoy,” Hermione said, echoing his words. “I’m just getting a letter opener.”
“Oh. Why do you need one of those anyway? Just rip it open!”
She ignored him and continued out of the room. Once in the hallway, however, she did not continue on to get the letter opener. Instead, she drew her wand, whispered ‘accio camera’ and waited for Malfoy’s curiosity to get the better of him.
She was rewarded less than a minute later with an angry yell. Dashing into the room, she found an infuriated man sitting in a flowing red dress.
“What have you done?” he hissed.
Hermione just laughed and took a picture. This was priceless.
Suddenly, Ginny’s voice began speaking from the envelope.
“Hermione! I wanted to give this to you earlier so you could wear it out with me, but Harry made me wait. You’ll just have to wear it out with me some other time I suppose. The best part is that it’s charmed to fit the wearer, so we can swap dresses any time! Anyway, I expect to see you wearing it on Friday to the ball.” Her voice paused, then continued. “Oh, and Harry says to say happy birthday, and that his present is still in the envelope, so don’t throw it out. We love you!”
The message ended, leaving them sitting in silence. Hermione decided to see just how far she could push her luck and snapped another picture.
“Would you stop that?” Malfoy asked coldly.
“Or what, Malfoy? You’ll keep my dress for yourself?”
He ignored her and opened the envelope again, pulling out two small pieces of paper. He inspected them for a while before smirking at her.
“Or you have to take me with you.”
He waved the tickets at her.
“They’re for a quidditch game,” he explained. “Let’s face it, Granger, who else are you going to take?”
She frowned at the suggestion that she was lacking in friends, but at the same time she had to admit that he was right. Taking Harry or Ginny would be rude to the one she didn’t take, and Ron would consider it a date. She wasn’t even sure if any of her co-workers liked Quidditch; they certainly didn’t talk about it much. She probably would have invited Luna if she wasn’t off on one of her expeditions searching for fantastical beasts.
It wasn’t as if you had to make small talk at a Quidditch match anyway, Hermione reasoned, you just watched the game. Sure, she still didn’t trust him, but even Malfoy wouldn’t be dumb enough to try anything in a crowded Quidditch stadium. By the time the match rolled around they’d be pretending to be a couple, so going to a Quidditch match together could even be beneficial. And who could pass up the opportunity to take photos of Draco Malfoy in a dress?
“Alright,” she said.
“You’ll stop taking pictures?” he replied, relieved.
“No, you can come to the Quidditch match,” she said, and took another picture. “Which teams are playing, anyway?”
He stared at her, honestly surprised. “Er… the Manly Manticores and the South Sydney Mermaids. Granger, these don’t even sound like real teams, are you sure that this isn’t just a -”
“Don’t be an idiot, Malfoy, just because they’re not British teams doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.”
“I’ll hold onto these tickets then, and come and get you the day of the match. That way you can’t change your mind and take someone else.”
“If you go without me, I’ll send these pictures to the Daily Prophet, and that’s a promise,” Hermione countered.
“Now, why don’t you strike a pose for me?”
He shook his head, revealing a diamante barrette that Hermione hadn’t noticed earlier.
“No, I don’t think so. You’ve had your fun,” he said. “Er, where did my clothes go? I rather liked that shirt, and I don’t think Ginny would appreciate it if I walked off with your dress. I have no doubt that she’d be more than willing to hex me.”
Hermione just shrugged and continued to take pictures. “They’re probably in my closet. Ginny’s organised like that.”
He stood gingerly and hiked up the skirt to reveal a matching pair of red satin heels. Ginny had really outdone herself this time. He began to take a step, then thought better of it and sat back down to remove the shoes. Hermione kept taking pictures- she was sure that she’d never get an opportunity like this again, and she was determined to make the most of it. After much fumbling with the straps, Malfoy stood back up.
“Where’s your closet, Granger?”
“First door on the left,” she said, pointing down the hallway. “And hang the dress up for me, will you?”
He stalked from the room in the direction she’d indicated, and found that his clothes were indeed in the closet as Hermione had suggested. He changed quickly, hanging Hermione’s dress up as she had asked, and pocketed the Quidditch tickets. The envelope the tickets had been in still contained a card, which he wasn’t game to open in case the Potters had jinxed it as well, so instead he placed it on Hermione’s bedside table, shifting some kind of box to the side so that it fit. The shoes he left by the doorway.
He returned to find Hermione calmly eating the last few slices of apple, fiddling with something on her camera.
“I suppose I’ll see you on Friday night,” he said, trying to act as though the past few minutes never happened. “I’ll come and pick you up at five?”
“That early? I don’t even finish work until four.”
“Oh. I apologise, I’m used to escorting people like Pansy who haven’t worked an honest day in their life. I tell her I’ll be there at five, and she’ll be ready by six when we have to leave,” he explained, then paused. “Where do you work, anyway?”
“I’m a potioneer, actually,” she said, grinning. “Once I got over the idea that making a potion just meant following an exact set of rules and actually started looking at the way the ingredients interacted, I found that I was pretty good at it. Besides, it’s interesting.”
“And here I was thinking that you’d go into something stupid like muggle liasons.”
“Don’t be rude,” she told him. “Friday, 6 o’ clock. You’d better be here.”
“Six it is,” he confirmed, and turned to leave.
Hermione quietly turned her camera back on and took another picture. Its flash alerted Malfoy to her actions and he froze.
“Why are you still taking photos of me?” he asked warily.
“You just have such pretty hair,” she told him angelically.
He frowned and felt around until he found the barrette, pulling it free from his hair with a yelp.
“Is that it?”
She nodded and he threw it back to her. She fumbled the catch and it fell down the side of her chair.
“I’ll leave you to your day then,” he smirked as she tried to fish the barrette out of the chair before it fell all the way down. “Oh, and Granger- don’t forget to tell the Potters. I don’t want to be murdered.”
“Stop worrying and go home, Malfoy,” Hermione said, successfully retrieving the hairpiece and placing it proudly in the table.
He rolled his eyes at her and disapparated. She lay back in her chair and shut her eyes, savouring the peace and quiet.
Someone knocked on the door.
“I am not answering that,” Hermione said to herself, picking her book up. “Deal with your own problems, whoever you are.”
And, to her delight, they gave up and went away.
Thanks for reading! I'm super busy at the moment, so it might take me a little longer to update with the next chapter, but it's coming :) Please review if you have any comments or suggestions (or just want to say hi)!