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Chapter 12 : Chapter 12
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Hermione's good mood continued throughout the day. It seemed as though it was infectious as even Draco, who usually hated snow, was smiling. He even laughed when he and Hermione went outside during their break and Hermione charmed several snowballs to target Draco, although he may have been laughing more at Hermione, who was doubled over with laughter.
To further her happiness, McGonagall finally announce at dinner about the ball, explaining that it is for them all to celebrate returning to Hogwarts and the end of the war. The announcement caused every pupil in the hall to cheer very loudly.
"Yes, yes, it's very exciting, now if you would please settle down..." McGonagall said without much success. She waved her wand to make a loud 'BANG!', eventually settling the young witches and wizards.
"Thank you." She continued, "now as I understand it, your Head Boy and Girl have been working tirelessly to make this ball a success for you all. It will be available for all years however curfew for first to fourth years will be eleven PM, fifth years and over will have a later curfew of one AM. I expect you all to still be on your absolute best behaviour, but also to enjoy yourselves. You may bring a partner with you and will be expected to attend dance lessons. Miss Granger and Mr Malfoy, you will attend all of the dance lessons to assist staff. There will be a visit to Hogsmeade for all year groups one week before the ball and those who can apparate will be able to visit Diagon Alley next Saturday in order to purchase dresses and dress robes. That will be all."
The hall was buzzing with excitement, particularly from the girls, Ginny included.
"A ball?! Why didn't you tell me?!"
"We were sworn to secrecy, even the prefects didn't know." Hermione said apologetically.
"Well I wouldn't have told anyone! We'll definitely have to go to Diagon Alley for dresses, they're much better there. Plus we can visit George whilst we're there. Ooh I wonder if McGonagall will let Harry and Ron come, after all, it is to celebrate the end of the war...I'll go and ask her now." And with that she left the table.
Hermione turned to Malfoy, "Everyone seems so excited, I hope we don't disappoint them..."
"Don't be daft, it's going to be perfect. How could it not be with Hogwarts' two most brilliant students planning it? We do have a bit of an issue now though..."
Hermione nodded, having already thought about it. They had booked a band called The Swinging Sorcerers, Draco had promised Hermione they were huge in the wizarding music business at the minute, but they were only booked until eleven PM.
"I know, the band. How about we just play our own music? We can get a mix of muggle and magical music, that way there'll be something for everyone. Of course we'll have to ask Professor Weasley for help making the muggle equipment work here, CD players and speakers, but he managed with his television at home so that shouldn't be a problem." Hermione took out a quill and piece of parchment and began scribbling notes to herself.
Draco stared at her blankly, "you just said about 50 words I don't understand..."
Hermione spent the rest of the night explaining to Draco about CDs, CD players and muggle music. He asked her for names of artists she liked and then laughed at her responses (The Beatles, Wham and The Human League were the ones he found particularly funny). He questioned her from dinner, walking back to their common room and continued whilst they sat on their favourite sofa, until Hermione finally announced that she was going to bed.
"Wait, wait, wait...one more question then I promise I'll let you go." Draco begged.
"Fine," Hermione sighed, "as long as your promise not to laugh at whatever answer I give!"
"Deal." He nodded.
"Well?" She demanded when he said nothing more.
"Will you go with me? To the ball?" His pale cheeks were flushed with embarrassment, something Hermione never would have thought he would suffer from. She quickly realised that she was equally red and that she hasn't actually answered his question yet...
"Yes, alright then...thank you." She mumbled.
"Cool." He grinned and turned back to face the fire.
Hermione walked to her room in a daze, not quite sure if she had imagined the events of the last 5 minutes, but was smiling nonetheless. She was almost asleep when inspiration hit her, she finally knew what to get Draco for Christmas.
The days began to drag after that, anticipation for the ball seeming to slow the time down. Hermione seemed to be the only one who was still concentrating by the end of every lesson, although even she found it difficult. The huge increase in the NEWT student's homework did, however, make the evenings go a little quicker. Hermione and Draco got into a routine of working together and, as a result, both were achieving 'Exceeds Expectations' or 'Outstanding' in any work they did together. Oddly enough, Hermione found that the more unbearable lessons were those in which she worked with the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, her mind often wandering, thinking of Draco.
After what felt like months, it was the Saturday of the Diagon Alley trip. Ginny and Luna, having just past their apparition tests were thrilled to be going with Hermione, who was not really fussed about shopping but was excited at the idea of going somewhere other than Hogsmeade. Professor McGonagall had told Ginny that Harry and Ron would be attending the ball so she was determined to find the perfect dress. Draco was also going to Diagon Alley but had insisted that Hermione went shopping for her dress without him as he wanted to wait until the ball before seeing it, prompting Hermione to call him a girl.
"I'm not a girl, I just want to see it when you're properly dressed for the ball. Just humor me, okay?"
She laughed but agreed to keep it secret from him. They apparated together but then went their separate ways.
After several hours the girls had found their dresses, shoes and jewellery. They had also been to see George, who had only recently re-opened Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes after closing it when Fred died. Hermione was greatly amused to see that the newest Weasley to be working there with George was none other than Percy. The irony of the only Weasley to be missing a sense of humor working in a joke shop did not go unnoticed by Ginny.
"PERCE?! What in the name of Merlin are you doing here?! Don't tell me you're working in a joke shop-you realise this is a joke shop right?"
"Very amusing Ginny, I'm just helping George out. Besides, a change in one's career is sometimes a good thing. I'm learning all sorts about these 'jokes' I've heard you all talk about for years." He winked at her.
"Did you just make a joke Percy Weasley?" George said, appearing from the stock room located at the back of the store. "I've never been less ashamed to call you my brother! Hello you lot" he said, walking over to the girls and hugging Ginny, who was still in a state of shock after Percy's joke.
They left a little later, arms full of freebies from George plus their heavy bags filled with things for the ball. Exhausted, hungry and aching, they apparated back to the castle, quickly dropped their bags off and went to the Great Hall for dinner.
"Finally! I was beginning to think you had gotten lost." Draco was waiting at the Gryffindor table when Hermione and Ginny sat down. "Well, did you get dresses?"
"Yep! Wait til you see Hermione's, it's beautiful!" exclaimed Ginny.
"Looking forward to it, trust me." He smiled at Hermione, who couldn't help but blush. Having already eaten before they arrived, Draco left the Great Hall, explaining that he needed to send a letter to his Mother. He had been out of the room mere seconds when Ginny grabbed Hermione's arm.
"What was all that about?" She demanded.
"All what?" Hermione replied.
"Draco! He was clearly flirting with you, and you obviously didn't mind." She said, her eyebrows raised so much that they were nearly disappearing into her flame-red hair.
"Oh don't be ridiculous Ginny, Draco and I are just friends."
"For now. He likes you, I can tell. He asked you to the ball, told you he liked your Halloween costume, has bought you a Christmas present and can't wait to see you in your dress at the ball. Plus he's always looking at you in a soppy kind of way. Trust me, if there's one thing I know about, it's boys."
Hermione was regretting sharing so much with Ginny now. She simply shook her head, knowing that her friend would not drop it if Hermione continued to argue.
"Shake your head all you like, but I'm telling you, you and Draco are becoming more than friends..."
A/N I'm super excited for the next chapter-it's the ball! Keep the reviews coming please :) and as always thanks for reading!
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