Chapter 13 : Chapter 13
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"Draco...I have a confession..." Hermione mumbled as they walked to the first of many dance practices.
Draco looked quizzically at her.
"It's just...I can't actually dance." She said, blushing.
"Of course you can, you danced all night at the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum."
"I know but he was leading, I just sort of, let him move me around. Wait, how do you know I danced with him? Were you watching?"
"Of course I was," he said simply, "there wasn't a male in the room who wasn't watching you. You looked so...different."
"Thanks, I think..." Hermione wasn't sure if 'different' was good. She quickly changed the subject back to her awful dancing. "Anyway, my dancing. How am I supposed to help teach the other years something I can't do myself? I've read all the books in the library about dancing but it's not helped."
"Don't worry, I had dance lessons for years. Mother and Father insisted, I had to be perfect at any parties they held or we attended. Fortunately for you, my dance partner was always Pansy, who is an appalling dancer. I'm an expert leader, you'll be fine." He smiled at her and then added menacingly, "just don't dance with anyone else."
Not surprisingly, Draco was a brilliant dancer. He spun Hermione around in each dance practice like she was featherlight. McGonagall was extremely pleased and in the final practice before the ball both Hermione and Draco were awarded 50 house points for their efforts.
"Points well earned both of you, I am looking forward to seeing all f your hard work come together. If I might be so bold to say, the two of you make an excellent team. Your budding...friendship has not gone unnoticed by myself or the staff." With a mysterious smile, she left.
The Saturday of the Ball finally arrived. Hermione and Draco woke early; knowing they had a busy day ahead. McGonagall had arranged to have the hall clear as soon as breakfast was over, lunch would be served in house common rooms. This meant that Hermione and Draco had the entire day to prepare the hall. Dinner would be served at the ball.
Sitting in their usual seats at breakfast, they could feel the excitement in the air. Ginny was practically bouncing in her seat at the thought of seeing Harry.
The post arrived and Hermione breathed a sigh of relief when a parcel landed on the table in front of her, however, she didn't open it.
"What's in the parcel Hermione? Why aren't you opening it?" Draco asked, eying the parcel.
"I can't open it here; it's your Christmas present." She grinned at him, knowing the idea of his Christmas present sitting in front of him would drive him mad. Sure enough, Hermione had to take it up to her room as soon as she had finished her breakfast as Draco kept trying to take it whenever her attention was diverted.
When she returned, the students had left, the dinner tables and benches had gone. Draco was standing with a group of house elves, including Minnie, who had been assigned by Mcgonagall to help them. They set to work immediately and worked for several hours, setting up decorations, preparing the stage and going over the menu with the elves from the kitchen. Mr Weasley came to the hall in the afternoon to help set up the equipment he and Hermione had been working with for the last few weeks. To Hermione's relief it worked perfectly when tested. Around three, Hermione left Draco to add the finishing touches whilst she got dressed. She had invited Ginny and Luna to her room so that they could all help each other. Ginny worked wonders with her wand on their hair. Of course the Sleakeazy's Hair Potion had made a re-appearance on Hermione's part, thankfully her hair was much less bushy now than it had been four years ago, but it still wasn't as sleek and shiny as Ginny's without magical aid.
By seven PM the girls were ready. Hermione thought that her two friends looked amazing. Ginny was in a gorgeous, full length, thin, gold dress with spaghetti straps that complimented her red hair perfectly. Luna had chosen a purple gown which was surprisingly normal by her standards. She had added some twinkling lights that twisted around the dress from her bust to the bottom hem that were lit with a wave of her wand, giving it a Christmas tree effect. With one last look in the mirror at her own dress, Hermione was satisfied that she was ready. They left the room together and headed to the Great Hall.
Ginny turned the corner first and almost sprinted towards Harry, who was looking very smart in black dress robes, he took Ginny in his arms and kissed her tenderly. Hermione smiled, deciding to say hello to Harry later when he wasn't so occupied. Her eyes searched the entrance hall and found Draco. He was standing by the doors to the hall, peering in, obviously making sure that his fellow students were impressed by their efforts. Hermione was amazed to see that he was not in dress robes, but a black pinstripe muggle suit, he turned around to reveal a white shirt and thin black tie. Hermione couldn't help but admit that he was extremely handsome. She made a mental note to tell Ginny off for putting ludicrous ideas in her head about hers and Draco's friendship. She was thinking things about Draco that one doesn't usually think about their friends.
Finally he noticed her. His jaw dropped as she approached him. He stared at her, starting at her face, framed by soft brown curls, some of which were tied back, with small crystals placed in them. Her face bore make up which was simple yet elegant, long black lashes, a pale pink blush on her cheeks and clear gloss on her lips. His eyes were drawn down to her dress. The dress. It was pale ice blue, perfectly suited to their winter theme. The straps were an inch or so thick and covered in the same crystals she had in her hair, it had a sweetheart neckline and more crystals underneath the bust. The material was tulle and fitted to just below her waist, then became layers of taffeta right to the floor.
"Draco, are you alright?" Hermione was worried that she had been standing there for at least a minute and he hadn't spoken.
He cleared his throat. "Sorry, it's just...I've never...you look beautiful Hermione."
Blushing furiously, Hermione looked at the floor when she replied, "thank you, you look very handsome. I love the suit, what made you go with that over robes?"
"I thought you would like it, I had to have it made in a specialist store in Diagon Alley. I have one amendment to make though..." He waved his wand and his tie and pocket handkerchief changed from black and white to the same shade of blue as Hermione's dress. "There, we match."
He held out his arm for her and she linked her own with it. They entered the Great Hall and looked around at their efforts.
Fake snow fell from the sky and disappeared whenever it came into contact with a person or object. The usual twelve Christmas trees were all decorated with white, blue and silver decorations and placed around the room. The stage floor was bewitched to look like ice and the band were already playing. One long table stood along one of the walls, ready for the food to appear on it later on. A bar stood next to it with a house elf (on a platform behind it) serving drinks. White tables and chairs with silver and blue bows wrapped around them were spread around the room with ice sculptures in the centre. Each sculpture had some significance to a part of the war, there were phoenixes, swords of Gryfindor, Hogwarts castles and dragons. The dance floor was directly in front of the stage and very spacious, also bewitched to have an ice effect.
In one corner of the room Hermione and Draco had set up a memorial for those lost since Voldemort had returned four years ago and throughout the war. A wall of snow had been erected and displayed pictures of all of the dead. In front of the wall there was a table bearing a quill and slips of parchment, the idea was that people wrote messages to their dead loved ones or to the survivors and put them into a box, the box was charmed and would then display the messages in silver sparkling letters across the stage for all to read. It had been Hermione's idea and already there were a queue of students and staff alike waiting to write their message.
"Oh Draco, it's amazing." Hermione breathed.
"I know, we did a good job Granger" he said nudging her playfully.
The night went perfectly. Hermione was pleased to see that Ron had brought Lara with him. His dress robes were plain black, a vast improvement on set he wore at the Yule Ball. Lara was looking very pretty in a silver gown, her dark hair pinned up in a twisted style and dark eyes framed with thick eyelashes. She, Ron, Harry, Ginny, Draco and Hermione sat together and to Hermione's surprise, Harry and Ron were on their best behaviour despite having to sit with Draco. Hermione talked and laughed and watched as her fellow students enjoyed all of the hard work she and Draco had put into the night. Luna was dancing animatedly with a Hufflepuff student in her own year, much to everyone's entertainment.
Draco was a perfect gentleman throughout the night, fetching drinks for Hermione, dancing with her and always making sure she was enjoying herself. He even comforted her when she shed a tear reading the messages left for lost loved ones and sincere messages of thanks to herself, Harry and Ron. The one in particular that had made Hermione cry said:
Harry, Ron and Hermione. I owe you my life. You are the three bravest people I have ever met and I will be forever in your debt. From me and the entire wizarding community, thank you.
The younger students took a lot of threatening from staff before they went to bed at eleven, some even attempted to hide under tables to stay up later. After the band had finished, Mr Weasley took over the music, a combination of muggle and magic music playing, much to the delight of the muggle born pupils.
Towards the end of the night Mr Weasley began to play some slower songs for the couples left at the ball to dance to. Draco offered Hermione his hand (Harry and Ron quickly copying with Ginny and Lara) and led her to the dance floor.
"Have you enjoyed yourself Hermione?" He asked whilst pulling her closer.
"It's been brilliant Draco, I'm so proud of us. Have you?" She couldn't stop smiling, but was unsure of it being a result of the ball or the blonde haired boy in a muggle suit in front of her.
"Of course. I'm glad you said yes to coming with me. You really do look amazing you know. I've been the envy of every male student here tonight." His grey eyes were staring at her, a slight twinkle in them.
"Don't be ridiculous. And thank you, for asking me. If someone had told me a year ago that I'd be throwing a memorial ball at Christmas and attending it with Draco Malfoy, I'd have thought they'd been hit with a confundus charm."
He laughed, "I think I'd agree with you on that."
"You really have changed, you know. At first, I wasn't sure whether or not to believe it, but I can see it now. It's obvious you don't care about blood status, power or anything like that." She was staring back at him now, hoping to convey the sincerity of her words.
"It's you I have to thank for that. And as much as it pains me to say, Harry and Ron too. I wouldn't be the person I am today if you three hadn't defeated him. I meant what I said in that message. I owe you my life."
"That was you?" Hermione gaped at him. "Draco, that was beautiful. Why didn't you say earlier?"
"Couldn't say anything in front of Potter and Weasley could I? They might think I like them as well as you" He laughed.
"I like you too Draco..." Hermione whispered, almost inaudibly.
Draco's mouth opened as if he was about to say something, then closed again. He gripped Hermione's waist tighter and began to lean in...
"OI! Hermione! We're off now!" Ron's voice shouted from the doorway of the hall. Hermione quickly pulled away from Draco.
"Um, I have to say bye..." She said apologetically, inwardly cursing Ronald Weasley.
She said goodbye to Harry, Ron and Lara and goodnight to Ginny, who was going to bed. Looking around the Hall she realised that everyone had now gone to bed, including the staff, the music had stopped and only she and Draco remained. It was just before one AM. Hermione called for Minnie and the team of elves and they quickly tidied the hall, with the use of their combined magic it didn't take long until the Great Hall was back to normal. All signs of the ball had now disappeared.
Draco and Hermione walked back to their dorm, an awkward silence between them. They reached the top of the stairs that led to the bedrooms and parted.
"Goodnight Draco, thank you for a wonderful evening."
"Goodnight Hermione." He turned away and then back again, kissed her on the cheek and then headed to his bedroom. Hermione went in the opposite direction, lightly touching the place on her cheek that was still tingling from Draco's kiss.
A/N Thoughts please? I know you dramione fans are probably cursing me right now for Ron interrupting their kiss, but it's never that simple right? Let me know what you thought :)
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