Chapter 22 : Not Just a Pretty Face
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Oh he swears there's no one else
Is he deceiving me
Or am I deceiving myself
-Does he love you by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis
Hermione slipped a letter from Ginny back into it’s small, white envelope and looked to where her mother sat opposite her. The day was young and the Granger women were sitting in one of the drawing rooms, with small china teacups poised daintily between their finger tips.
“Mum, it’s from Ginny. Would you care to read it?” Hermione asked her. “She was just informing me on the latest Potter household news, and so you can read it if you’d like.”
“Oh, I’m alright dear.” Jean replied, taking a sip from her cup. Hermione shrugged and set the envelope down on the side table to her right, which was made of a polished oak.
“Well, in any case, I would sure like to read it!” Mr. Granger said as he waltzed into the room, scooping up the envelope as he passed by. “I would like to see how Ginny and Harry are if you don’t mind.”
He went to sit beside his wife on the Malfoys grand, and curved chesterfield with light cream upholstery. William pulled the letter out of it’s packaging, took his reading glasses out from his breast pocket, and immediately got to reading, which brought a humorous smile to Hermione’s lips.
“Anyway, Hermione, where is Mr. Malfoy?”
Hermione’s eyes flicked to her mother, and she tried to keep all emotion out of her voice. She could feel her heart rise into her throat and she had to force it down. “I’ve no idea.”
“He is probably still sleeping. He was up quite late last night.” Mrs Granger said, taking a sip of her tea. “He was just pacing, and cursing, and moaning up a storm in there. You’re lucky you’re not near his bedroom, dear. But William and I didn’t mind. We couldn’t sleep a wink in the new house and all as it was, so it did not bother us. We were just a little worried is all.”
“Oh.” Hermione said simply. Her thoughts immediately went back to the episode on the train, and what had happened with his mark. “No, he doesn’t sleep in. He is probably in his study.”
“He was up quite late,” Mrs. Granger argued, taking another sip of her tea as Hermione crossed one of her legs over the other. “Actually, I-”
“Good man that Harry Potter turned out to be!” Piped Mr. Granger from beside his wife. He took a moment to look up at them with a smile plastered on his face, and then went right back to reading.
Mrs. Granger smiled at her husband before turning back to her daughter. “As I was saying, Hermione.”
Hermione nodded to show her mother that she was listening. The tea was going cold in it’s blue china cup, and so Hermione set it down on the side table.
“I mean, I always hated it when my mother would pry, but you’re my daughter and so it is my duty to ask. What happened with you and Mr. Malfoy last night?”
Hermione let out a small breath and tried, once again, to stop her heart from racing as it was.
“Nothing,” Hermione lied. “We were merely talking about what room you two should stay in.”
Mrs. Granger also set down her cup and sent her daughter a mischievous glance. “Alright, if you say so. "
The conversation died there, and the Grangers sat in a few moments of silence. Hermione wanted to go to the wall and pound her head against it because there were so many feelings in side of her that she couldn’t quite differentiate between them, and she wanted it to stop because this was the most confused she had ever felt in her entire life and it wasn’t the sort of thing she could just research. It was so internal and deep within her bones that it felt more like a disease than anything else and it made her hate him for it. But she didn’t hate him at all because she couldn’t, and anyway it was herself that she hated because she was the one that messed everything up.
But he had messed things up. But she knew deep down he hadn’t at all. It made sense that he would have done what he did. What didn’t make sense was how she acted, and no matter how childish it seemed she couldn’t explain it even to herself. When it was happening she felt it was wrong and something within her snapped, and she knew she just couldn’t take it. Maybe she just wasn’t ready. But she really didn’t think she ever could be ready. Not like that. And not with him. Even if she wanted to be.
“Mr. and Mrs. Granger, Hermione.” Came a cool voice from the doorway behind her.
She suddenly became conscious of two hands resting between the back of the chesterfield and the cotton of her jumper, and she wondered how long he had been in the room. If her mother hadn’t noticed him then he evidently hadn’t been in for very long, but still he could have been outside the door listening. But Draco wasn’t like that, and anyway nothing of real importance was said.
Mr. Granger set the letter down the letter on his lap and nodded in greeting at Draco, who smiled back.
“Draco?” Hermione asked, turning her body around to see him. He was right behind her, a few strands of blonde hair falling into his face, and a perfect smirk settling on his lips as he looked at her.
He walked around to the side of the chesterfield and for a second Hermione couldn’t breath for he was so close, but he continued walking, and soon he was at the window on the other side of the room, his back to the Granger family.
Her heart was beating a mile a minute and she could feel her cheeks red hot as if his touch from the previous night still lingered there. She instinctively put her fingertips where his hand had touched her face and she could feel her stomach drop. It was like remembering the feeling of Victor Krum’s hand on the small of her back which she had thought back to constantly in her fourth year. She couldn’t ask herself about these feelings because Draco turned around and her hand dropped from her cheek.
“I received an owl this morning” Draco started, it was killing Hermione that he was not looking at her and seemed to be avoiding eye contact. “Hermione and I have been invited to a costume party at Mrs. Zabini’s house tomorrow night, and we really ought to go. Hold up appearances and all so we do not look like we are hiding something. I mean, ever since Hermione came here we’ve been avoiding the public so I think it’s for the best.”
He looked over to the middle aged couple sitting on the love seat. “Oh, and I am sorry Mr. and Mrs. Granger but I really cannot bring muggles even if they are my guests.”
“Oh we don’t mind! You kids go have fun. The Mrs. and I will have some fun of our own!” Mr Granger said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Only joking, only joking.” Mr Granger confirmed, laughing. Jean widened her eyes, and hid a smile that was growing at the corner of her lips, nudging her husband in the ribs.
Hermione shook her head at her parents, and then looked towards Draco. “You’re sure that I was invited, too?”
“Of course you were. Blaise would have helped create the guest list, and of course he would have invited you.”
“What will you two go as?” Jean asked.
“I have no idea.” Hermione answered. She hadn’t gone to a costume party since muggle elementary school.
“I suggest you look in the attic. My mother went to many costume parties, and I really don’t think she would mind if you borrowed something.” Draco offered.
Hermione’s brows came together as she realized she knew virtually nothing about his parents since the war. She had no idea why they had left, where they were now, or when they had left. Nothing.
“Also if you find anything for me that would be great since I’m not normally one for costume shopping.” He added with a smile.
Hermione agreed and tried to manage a smile in return, but it wasn’t much of one. He was looking at her, and she was looking at him, and it was like there was nothing between them. No friendship, no romance, no past, no possible future. He was looking at her like a customer would look at a cashier and she felt worthless. He couldn’t have already forgotten, but he was just so bloody good at masking his emotions.
“Well, I might as well go look for costumes now! No point leaving it to the last minute.” Hermione suddenly spoke up, rising from her seat and walking towards the door.
Jean agreed that this was a good plan, and Draco told her he would get an elf to lead her there but Hermione told him she was fine and that she could fine her way. Draco looked puzzled but told her to suit herself.
Honestly she had no idea where she was going and wandered up several staircases before finally summoning an elf to lead her there as Draco had suggested. She had simply been too stubborn to let him summon an elf for her, and wasted a good chunk of time trying to find the attic on her own. It turned out the stairs to the attic were almost just outside the drawing room, and it should have only taken her a minute to get there, but it was still afternoon and she wasn’t in any sort of rush.
The stairs to the attic were narrow and steep, and at the top of them was a small, flimsy-looking door and nothing else, and so Hermione did as the elf told her. It hadn’t walked with her, but had said to walk up the staircase and at the end of it she would find the attic which held all of Lucius and Narcissa’s costumes.
The handle was made of brass, and was rickety in Hermione’s hand. Dust came off on her fingertips, which showed that no one had entered the attic for a long while. On the other side of the door was, indeed, an attic. It was an A-frame room made entirely of an almost grey wood. Well, maybe it was simply dust that made the wood appear grey, but nevertheless, Hermione was sure that this was the attic. It was full of objects covered in white sheets that drooped onto the floor, and pushed up against the far wall was a metal clothing rack carrying at least thirty different articles.
Hermione made her way towards the clothing rack and began sifting through all sorts of garments. They did not seem to be organized in any particular order, and it had a men’s and a women’s of each. There was everything from a Cleopatra and Ceaser costume set, to an Adam and Eve costume set. Hermione was pleased to find that Draco had been correct, and Narcissa and her had basically the same measurements, as she seemed to fit into every one of the woman’s costumes.
Eventually Hermione decided on a nineteen twenties flapper dress and gangster suit for her and Draco. It had been a hard choice between that and the King Arthur and Queen Guinevere costume set, but she decided it was a better idea to go dressed in the more casual costumes, instead of going full out.
Hermione turned away from the clothes, and began her way back to the door, right when her hip collided with a box and sent it and it’s contents everywhere.
She quickly discovered that the box had been filled with photographs, as they were now scattered on the floor. Hermione quickly got down on her hands and knees and began grabbing them off the floor, which she found out was, indeed, grey with dust.
But as she placed them back into their container, Hermione chanced a glance down at one of the photographs. It was a picture of several people standing in a line with their arms criss crossing over each other’s shoulders. She recognized Blaise, Pansy, Theodore, Draco, and a pretty girl who’s face was familiar but who’s name she couldn’t remember.
She began flipping through the other photos and saw that they were all an assortment of pictures of Draco, his parents, his friends, and that girl. In every picture they were laughing, and Hermione found herself especially entranced by one certain photograph.
It had the same group of people that had been in the first one she had looked at, and they were all sitting on a large, perfectly trimmed lawn. Although none of the pictures were coloured, she could tell it was a sunny, summer day.
Pansy was wearing cropped jean shorts and a tight shirt that exposed her stomach, and the un-named girl was wearing a trendy, Marilyn Monroe style one piece bathing suit. The girl was blonde, and her eyes were closed in dazzlingly careless fashion. Her hair was done in large, barrel curls, and atop her head sat a large, straw sun-hat with a red ribbon tied around the base.
The girl looked like a film star. Hermione had trouble taking her eyes off of her, because everything around the girl seemed to be showcasing her. In every picture she was showing off her perfect arrangement of wide, glowing teeth in a manner Hermione had never seen anyone else even rival.
It was killing Hermione that she didn’t know the girls name, although she could feel it on the tip of her tongue, and so she continued looking through photograph after photograph. She quickly realized that in every picture Draco either had his eyes on the girl, or was sitting at her side. The way he was looking at her made Hermione think back to the way he had looked at her in her parent’s house. It was compassionate, and proud, and sweet, and... Hermione stared for a moment longer at the photograph she was holding, when suddenly she had it. The girl’s name. She remembered it from Hogwarts.
Hermione scanned a few more photographs, where the girl was laughing and laying on the same lawn as in the other picture. In every photo she looked incandescently happy, and so did everyone else. Especially Draco. Since their reunion at his office she hadn’t seen him once looking like how he did in those photographs. In the pictures his hair wasn’t pushed back, but went down in front of his face in a lovely boyish sort of way. His eyes were round, and his smile was large and forgiving.
Draco’s clothes looked more casual than anything she had ever seen him wear, and he looked more like a teenager than he had ever done in school. It made Hermione want to see him like that. She wanted to see him truly happy, like how he was when he was with that girl. The one with the blonde hair done in barrel curls, and who’s eyes were closed in a perfectly nonchalant manner. The girl who’s name was Astoria Greengrass.
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