Chapter 8 : Chapter Seven: Double Date
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Hermione stepped out of her bedroom after rushing home from work to get ready for dinner with Harry and Ginny. She slipped into a flow-y white dress that skimmed the middle of her thighs. Her back was bare, as the collar on the dress tied around her neck. She stepped into gold wedges and grabbed her gold clutch that was on the side table of her entryway, dropping her lip balm and keys into it as she rushed into the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water as she waited for Draco to apparate to her flat.
A crack sounded behind her and she spun toward the noise. “Let’s do this, Granger,” Draco said in a terse voice, standing with his hands in his pockets.
Hermione just continued staring at him blankly as she sipped on her water. She raised her eyebrows.
Draco scoffed. “Right, sorry.” He walked toward Hermione and pecked her on the lips. “Hello, gorgeous, I missed you today,” he said in a singsong voice, stepping back and actually taking in Hermione’s appearance. “Really, though. You look absolutely stunning.”
Hermione put down her glass of water and ignored the appreciative glint in his eyes as they raked up and down her body. “Ready to go?” She looked at him evenly as she waited for his eyes to make their way back up her legs. “Should I change?”
Draco startled and finally made eye contact with her. “What? No. If you change, I’ll break up with you.”
Hermione laughed, shaking her head. “Let’s go then. I don’t want to be late for our first public outing!” she said in a sarcastically chipper tone. She picked up her clutch once more on her way out the door. “I called a cab.”
Draco nodded. “Sounds good to me. This place is in London, yeah?”
“Mhm,” Hermione mumbled. “It’s a muggle restaurant called Posh.”
Draco scowled as he followed behind Hermione as she made her way down the stairs of her building. “Please tell me this isn’t that new place where you’re served an eight course meal, but you’re still starving by the end of it?”
Hermione looked back at Draco and grinned. “One and the same!”
“Why?” Draco groaned. “I’m so hungry! Astoria made me go there once, and I ended up getting back home and eating again.”
They had finally made it outside of the building where the cab was waiting. Draco held the door open for Hermione. He waited patiently for her to sit comfortably before shutting the door and walking around to the other side of the car. He got into the cab and glanced at Hermione as she stared at him. “Posh in Central London, please,” Hermione said distractedly to the cab driver. “I could have slid over, you know,” she said to Draco.
“Don’t be ridiculous, kitten. You’re in a dress.” He pointedly looked at her bare legs. “What? Did Weaslebee make you ‘slide over’?” he snorted. He took it from Hermione’s silence that he definitely did. “Did he ever even open the door for you?” Draco added, appalled.
Hermione shrugged. “Sometimes, yeah.”
Draco shook his head in disbelief. “And here I was thinking Gryffindors were meant to be chivalrous,” he muttered under his breath.
“Well I’m an independent woman, Draco. I’m fully capable of opening my own doors. My arms aren’t broken,” she said hotly.
“I can see that, Hermione. But real men treat women with courtesy and respect – especially their own woman.” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Hell, if it were up to me, I’d carry you everywhere so you wouldn’t run the risk of stepping in a puddle.”
Hermione couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her lips. “That’s medieval.”
Draco shrugged. “That’s chivalry.”
“Your parents taught you well. Astoria must have loved that.”
Draco gave a dry laugh. “Yeah, so much so that if she ever got to a door before me, and I wasn’t there to open it for her, she wouldn’t speak to me for a week.”
Hermione’s mouth dropped open. “You’re joking!” Draco just smiled bitterly. “Oh, you spoiled her rotten, didn’t you? I don’t blame her for stalking you after you broke up.”
“Yes, well, even though she always drove me crazy, I couldn’t get over this compulsive gentlemanly behavior I was cursed with.”
Draco grinned as Hermione threw her head back and laughed. “Oh, please, Malfoy!”
“Ah, ah, ah,” Draco chided, wagging a finger at Hermione. “You know the rules, baby.”
Hermione groaned and leaned over and kissed Draco on the lips. She quickly sat back again. “This is so stupid,” she grumbled, turning red.
“Need I remind you it was your brilliant idea?” Draco smirked.
They had just entered Central London. Hermione checked her watch. They were right on time. After a few more minutes, they pulled in front of Posh. Hermione began opening her small bag to pull out some money to pay the driver but a glance at Draco quelled her movements. He paid the driver and got out of the car, jogging to Hermione’s side and pulling open her door. He held out his hand and stepped in front of her, blocking her view. It wasn’t until she awkwardly stepped out of the car that she realized that Draco wasn’t blocking her view at all – he was blocking the view of others from seeing her short dress rise up as she climbed out of the cab.
She straightened her dress and smiled up at Draco. “Thank you, baby,” Hermione teased in a soft voice.
Draco ducked his head to check that they hadn’t left anything in the backseat before closing the door of the car. He straightened up again and pressed his lips against her temple. “Anytime, sweetheart.”
He grabbed her hand and pulled her through the doors of the restaurant. Everything was clothed in purple and black velvet. Draco and Hermione exchanged looks of horror.
“Do you have a reservation?” the hostess asked, pulling their attention away from one another.
“Erm…I believe it’s under ‘Potter’,” Hermione said hesitantly.
The woman looked down the list in front of her. “Oh, yes. Right this way, ma’am.” They both followed the young woman, and Hermione couldn’t help but notice how her head looked like it was floating against the dark contrast of the restaurant because of the all black dress code. She felt herself get more and more nervous with every step they took. They were led up a few steps and Hermione immediately saw the back of Harry and Ginny’s heads.
“Hi, you two!” Hermione said brightly— almost too brightly, she realized. They both stood up and took turns enveloping her in a hug as Draco stood to the side.
Ginny rolled her eyes and approached Draco, giving him a kiss on the cheek. “It’s good to see you, Malfoy.”
Hermione and Draco smirked at each other. They half-expected Ginny to kiss Draco on the lips for calling him by his surname.
“You, too, Ginny,” Draco said. He cleared his throat and extended his hand to Harry. “Potter,” Draco said curtly.
Harry sighed but extended his hand and shook Draco’s. “Malfoy.”
They all took their seats then, all of them silently praying for the awkwardness to subdue. Draco automatically perused his menu.
Hermione spoke first. “How’s Teddy?” she asked, also picking up her menu.
Draco looked up. “Yes. Teddy,” he repeated, grasping at the topic. “How is the little guy?” Draco felt relieved that they shared something in common.
Ginny beamed like she always did when Teddy was mentioned. He was like a son to her. “He’s good. He’s been reading so much, Hermione. He says he wants to read you a bedtime story soon,” she laughed.
Hermione grinned. “Tell him I would love that.”
Ginny looked at Harry and turned sheepishly to Hermione. “You might have the chance tomorrow…”
Hermione suspiciously looked at her two friends from behind her menu. She noticed Harry avoid her gaze. “What do you mean?”
“Harry and I are going out of town tomorrow, and we meant for Andromeda to watch him, but she has a cold and Teddy just got over his. So…”
“You need me to babysit?” Hermione said slowly, finishing Ginny’s sentence.
Ginny let out a breath of relief. “Just until Tuesday morning. Can you? Please?”
Hermione bit her lip. “I would love to, of course, but I start work again on Monday.” She looked at Draco. She always felt guilty when she was too busy to take care of something or someone.
“I’ll do it,” Draco found himself saying.
“What?” Hermione, Harry, and Ginny exclaimed in unison.
Draco chuckled. “I mean, on Monday, I could watch Teddy. I work tomorrow until Sunday morning, and I’m off until Tuesday night.” He glanced around at all of the apprehensive faces that stared back at him. “I love kids. I’m good with them, too. I swear,” he added, earnestly.
“But won’t you need your sleep?” Ginny asked.
Draco shrugged. “I’ll sleep at night when Teddy sleeps. It’s not a big deal.”
Ginny turned desperately toward her boyfriend. She knew it was up to him. “What do you say, love?” she said in a small voice. This was the only vacation time they could muster between their busy schedules and she had been so excited for the getaway.
Harry melted at her expression. “That’s fine. Just don’t kill my godson, Malfoy,” he said gruffly. Ginny leaned over and kissed his cheek.
She beamed at Hermione and Draco. “Thank you both so much for doing this. I’ll drop Teddy off in the morning.”
Hermione nodded, smiling. She placed her hand on Draco’s knee, under the table, to show him how thankful she was for agreeing to do this. He quickly recovered from the shock of the contact and covered her hand with his own and squeezed.
“So is everyone excited for the Malfoy Manor dinner party?” Harry said sarcastically. Draco brought his attention to Harry and smirked.
“Not at all,” Draco replied. “I honestly thought nothing would beat the awkwardness of coming to this dinner but next Saturday is going to be absolutely brutal.” They all laughed.
“Do your parents know about the two of you?” Harry asked. “Or is Saturday going to be a surprise for them?”
Draco took a sip of his water and set it down again. “It’ll be a surprise for my father. He gets back the day before, so I don’t know how my mother plans on breaking the news so quickly.”
Hermione cleared her throat. “I have to go to Azkaban next week to get your father’s signature and do some other last minute things. Should I mention us?” She looked at Draco nervously.
He swallowed reflexively. “Sure,” Draco replied. It was obvious that he was the opposite of sure.
The waitress came by their table and interrupted them. “Hello. Welcome to Posh. My name is Georgina. Can I get you started off with a drink?” Her perky voice clashed with the dark and dreary décor of the restaurant. All four of them jumped slightly at her intrusion.
Hermione was the first to recover. “Erm…I’ll have a glass of white wine, please. Any kind you have.”
“Scotch,” Draco said next.
“Make that two,” Harry added.
“A glass of pinot grigio,” Ginny finished.
The waitress nodded once and left.
“What are you going to tell him?” Harry asked, resuming their earlier conversation like nothing had interrupted them.
“Maybe the conversation won’t come up. It’s not like the first thing you’d say to Lucius Malfoy when you see him in prison is ‘Hey, I’m pretend-dating your son’,” Ginny reasoned. Everyone at the table stopped talking when they noticed their waitress coming back toward them with their drinks. They all watched as the waitress left again.
“But it might be weird if she shows up at his house as Malfoy’s date the day after he gets out. He might find it strange that she didn’t mention it when she saw him a few days before,” Harry said.
Draco snorted into his drink. “Yeah, that would be really weird.” Draco glanced at Hermione. “But we don’t plan on telling them this is a fake relationship…”
Harry and Ginny exchanged surprised looks. “What do you mean?” Ginny exclaimed. “You’re going to go on letting your own parents think this is a real relationship?”
Hermione sighed. “The less people know about the details of this little coupling, the better. I don’t want people finding out how pathetic I’m capable of being.”
Draco smirked. “And my mother is a big gossip. It’ll come out in no time if she knows, which means that Astoria will find out. That would have the opposite effect of what this,” he said, waving a hand between Hermione and himself, “is all about.”
“So you have to tell Lucius,” Ginny pointed out. “Technically, he’s your boyfriend’s father.”
Hermione groaned. “I’ll figure it out when the time comes guys!”
“Good idea,” Draco mumbled, taking another sip of his scotch. He put his drink down and put a comforting hand over Hermione’s shoulder. “Honestly, don’t stress about it. It’ll be fine. If anything, I can write him a letter explaining that we’re together, and you can give it to him when you see him.”
Hermione nodded, feeling more at ease with this as a backup plan.
“Hermione, come with me to the loo,” Ginny said, standing up quickly and pushing her chair back.
Hermione startled and slowly got up as well. “I’ll be right back,” she mumbled to Draco. Draco and Harry exchanged uncomfortable looks.
Hermione followed behind Ginny until they reached the ladies’ room. Ginny pushed open the door and allowed Hermione in before following. Hermione stood in front of the mirrors, watching as Ginny ducked to see if anyone occupied the toilet stalls. She straightened back up and gave Hermione a penetrating glare.
“What?” Hermione asked, taking a step back in alarm.
“What’s going on with you and Malfoy?”
The accusatory tone that Ginny used made Hermione laugh. “What do you mean?”
“Are you guys dating for real?”
“Does it seem like we are?” Hermione asked, hopefully.
“All I know is that the two of you are extremely chummy,” Ginny said suspiciously. “Did you sleep together?”
“No! No, of course not!” Hermione gasped. “We’ve just decided that we need to act like a real couple if we’re fooling more than just Astoria and Ron.” Ginny continued looking like she didn’t buy the story. “Ginny, this entire situation is spiraling out of control and the only thing we can do is make the best of it. We can’t come clean without looking like fools. And I’m having dinner with his parents next week, for crying out loud! We can’t walk around being horrible to each other.”
Ginny turned and began washing her hands. “That makes sense. It’s just weird that you seem so comfortable around him so quickly.”
Hermione stepped up to the sink as well and turned on the faucet. She shrugged. “We’ve been practicing.”
Ginny looked at her through the mirror. “Practicing?”
Hermione couldn’t help the laugh that escaped her lips. “Just don’t be alarmed if you see Draco and I being…affectionate. It’s all a part of the act.”
Ginny grabbed a towel and dried her hands. She waited until Hermione finished drying her hands before turning toward her completely. “Hermione, please don’t get too caught up in these delusions.”
“I have my head on straight, don’t worry.”
“Good,” Ginny said, walking to the door and pulling it open. “I don’t want you falling in love with something that doesn’t exist.”
Hermione sighed. “Let’s just head back to the guys. Hopefully they haven’t killed one another in the past five minutes.”
But sure enough, when they got to the table, the white linen was stained red; and neither man was anywhere in sight.
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