Chapter 21 : Mistletoe
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‘No, no, no. You’re supposed to follow my lead, not step around it,’ Blaise said in an exasperated tone.
Hermione sighed. It was early afternoon on Christmas Eve, and they were in the formal room. Blaise was trying to teach her how to Waltz, but she couldn’t concentrate on the steps, so she kept doing the opposite of what he was telling her. He was obviously trying not to show how frustrated he was getting.
‘Can we just not do the Waltz?’ She asked.
Blaise looked at her as though she were crazy for suggesting such a thing. ‘No,’ he said. ‘I mean, it would certainly be easier, but my Mum won’t let me sit out. Even when I was little, I wasn’t allowed.’
She laughed, picturing a little Blaise waltzing. The image was adorable to her, and she wished she could have seen it in person. ‘Alight,’ she said. ‘But we’re going to be absolutely terrible.’
‘Probably,’ he sighed. ‘I thought you could Waltz, though. I remember you were dancing with that Bulgarian idiot, Vincent, at the Yule Ball.’
‘Viktor,’ she corrected. ‘And I wasn’t really that good at it. He did all the dancing. I was just… following his lead, I suppose.’
Blaise sighed again. ‘You’re distracted today, though,’ he noted. ‘Hmm. Maybe you could close your eyes? Let your feet do the moving?’
‘That might work,’ she said.
He put his hands on her waist again, and she closed her eyes as the music began. She couldn’t concentrate on dancing when she was so close to Blaise. It wasn’t comfortable; so, unbeknownst to him, she imagined that she was dancing with Draco instead, under the stars on the school grounds. It worked, because soon they were waltzing in time to the music, and she felt as if she were flying.
‘There you go,’ said Blaise approvingly. ‘You’ve got it now.’
She opened her eyes, and the illusion shattered. There was no starlit Black Lake, no Draco. Just Blaise, and an empty room.
‘Can we go eat now?’ She asked. ‘I’m starving.’
Her stomach growled as she said it, and Blaise laughed. ‘Alright,’ he said. ‘I’ll get Penny to make us some lunch.’
They left the formal room, and headed to the kitchen. She still felt as if she was spinning, and her heart was racing. She didn’t understand why she had felt so… disappointed when she realised that her Draco-illusion was just that: an illusion. It was confusing, so she shoved the thoughts away, and tried to focus on something else.
But she couldn’t stop thinking about Draco, no matter how much she tried, and she refused to admit—even to herself—what she already knew in her heart. But she was not ready to make her decision yet, so she forced herself to forget about it, even though she knew she wouldn’t.
The Burrow felt empty this Christmas, even though it was most certainly not. Mrs. Weasley had decorated, but Harry knew it was just so she could act as if everything was the same as always, even though it wasn’t. Bill and Fleur had arrived that morning at breakfast, and Charlie arrived shortly afterward with Percy, who had brought along his girlfriend, a muggle girl named Audrey—which shocked everyone—. But still, even though the Burrow was filled with people and noise, it felt empty.
Harry knew it was only because Fred was not there. They were all putting on a good show, but he could see, behind the fake smiles and laughter, that they were still in pain, that they would be for a very long time.
Sometime in the afternoon, he escaped to Ron’s room upstairs, telling Ginny that he was going to write Hermione and send her his gift so she would get it for Christmas tomorrow.
It was true—he did have to write her—but he wanted a moment alone first. With the reminder of Fred’s loss, he suddenly missed Sirius and his parents more than ever. He’d always envied Ron, because he still had both of his parents and more siblings than he could handle at times. He’d wanted that, more than anyone knew. More than he’d ever cared to admit. But knowing that Ginny was out there somewhere, that someone could be hurting her, knowing he had to save her… it was too much. The Ginny that was downstairs was an imposter, and the Weasley’s didn’t deserve to be part of this horrible trick, this game that Nott was playing. He’d half-wished that she had stayed at Hogwarts this year, but pretend-Ginny had insisted on going. Fake-Ginny’s excuse was that it was the first Christmas after Fred had died, but he knew that she probably had orders to keep an eye on him, make sure that he wasn’t starting to fix his friendship with Ron. It made him sick.
Up in Ron’s room, Harry dug around in his trunk, until he found the small drawstring bag, which he’d put the necklace in. He didn’t want to be the one to give it to Hermione, but he had to. Because Ron had asked him to do it, if he was still under the Imperius Curse at Christmas. And, since he was—or, maybe not, since Lavender wasn’t here—he had to give it to her.
Taking a deep breath, he pulled out his Quill and a piece of parchment paper, and began writing.
I hope you’re enjoying your holidays so far. The Burrow is… well, honestly? It’s a little depressing to be here. The place feels empty without Fred. I haven’t started counting the days until we return to Hogwarts, but I might start soon. Percy’s got a girlfriend, by the way. He brought her this morning. She’s a muggle—I know, everyone else was surprised, too—and her name is Audrey. Fleur has been smiling all day; I think she’s hiding something, and is waiting to tell us. Andromeda is bringing Teddy by tomorrow, and I’ve already gotten him a gift—it’s a miniature figurine of a wolf; I got it from a muggle toy store, but I used a charm on it so that it moves. Remus would probably laugh if he could see it—, and I’m excited to see him. Anyway, I’ve enclosed your gift with this letter, and I hope you like it.
He checked it over, decided it was good, and then enclosed the necklace—as well as the Weasley sweater, which Mrs. Weasley had given him before he came up, after hearing who he was writing to, and his own gift, a collector’s edition copy of the Grimm’s Fairytales—and folded the letter. After giving her special instructions, he sent his owl away.
‘Harry?’ Mrs. Weasley’s voice called. ‘Harry, dear, lunch is ready.’
He stood up quickly. ‘Coming!’ He called, and raced downstairs, his growling stomach making him to forget all about his worries. At least, for now.
The Ball was starting. Hermione was excited, but mostly nervous. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to see Blaise’s reaction to her dress, knowing now what it meant. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to see Draco yet, even though she was definitely anticipating seeing his face. She had missed him. Very much.
‘Mia?’ Blaise’s quick rap on her door snapped her out of her thoughts. ‘Are you ready? We need to be downstairs, to greet the guests.’
She took a deep breath, stood up from the vanity, and walked to the door. The dress fit her more perfectly than anything she’d worn, and she looked dazzling. Her hair was loose, the way she liked it, but the curls were smooth, not frizzy. She wore her sapphire necklace around her neck, and diamond droplet earrings.
‘Breathe,’ she reminded herself, and then she opened the door.
She heard Blaise’s sharp intake of breath, and the look on his face was pure awe. She had taken his breath-away. She could only hope Draco’s reaction would be the same, too.
‘Well? What do you think?’ She asked, spinning once.
Blaise looked dazed, and it took him a minute to recover. ‘You look… beautiful,’ he said, struggling with the words. ‘As always, of course.’
She smiled. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Come on. Let’s go down before your Mum gets anxious.’
He smiled at her, too, and held out his arm. She hesitated, and then took it. He led her down the stairs to the foyer, where Rhea was standing in a dark red dress, her hair done in a half-up, half-down style. She looked amazing, for her age. Penny was standing next to her, waiting to take coats.
‘Oh, Hermione, dear, you look wonderful,’ Rhea said when they approached. ‘And you look dashing, Blaise,’ she added, seeing the did-you-forget-about-me look on his face. He smiled.
‘Thank you,’ said Hermione. ‘Although I doubt I’ll be the belle of the ball.’
Rhea laughed, smiling. ‘I think you will be.’
She blushed. ‘You’re just saying that to be nice,’ she said. ‘There are plenty of other girls who will look just as beautiful, if not more beautiful, as I am.’
Blaise and Rhea both looked like they were going to protest, but they didn’t get the chance, because the doorbell rang. Penny answered it at once, and Hermione braced herself.
It was just Pansy Parkinson and her family. The pug-faced girl looked shocked to see her standing there. Her mouth dropped open, and she stood there for a minute, staring at her, until her mother—a sour-faced woman—had to pull her away, muttering under her breath. Hermione fought a smile as the doorbell rang again. It was the Greengrasses’, with Astoria looking elegant in a black, one-shoulder number, and Daphne in green beside her. It seemed all Daphne ever wore was green.
‘You look beautiful, Hermione,’ said Astoria, smiling at her. ‘I absolutely adore your dress.’
She smiled. ‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘You look beautiful, too.’
‘Thanks,’ Astoria said. ‘Is Draco here yet?’
Hermione’s heart leapt in anticipation at the name. ‘Not yet. You’re the second to arrive. The Parkinson’s got here first,’ she said, scowling a little.
Astoria chuckled, shaking her head. ‘They always do,’ she said. ‘They’re always on time for parties like these. Pansy’s such a snob.’ She rolled her eyes.
Hermione added something to her Reasons to Like Astoria list, and smiled. ‘I couldn’t agree more,’ she said. Then she lowered her voice. ‘We used to call her Pug Face behind her back.’
Astoria grinned. Just then, her parents dragged her away to the formal room, and she mouthed, ‘talk later’ to her. She decided that she actually did like Astoria, jealousy issues aside.
The doorbell rang a third time, and she held her breath. She was disappointed when it was just another Pureblood family, one she didn’t recognise this time. They seemed nice enough, at least, but they went quickly into the formal room.
At last, after at least two other families had arrived, he arrived.
Draco, next to his mother—Narcissa wore a beautiful violet dress with long-sleeves and an empire waist, and she looked wonderful in it—looked stunning. She had never seen a boy who looked so… good in a tuxedo, but Draco certainly did. His jacket was a dusty-grey, not black, and he wore a white shirt underneath, with a dark blue tie that matched her dress, coincidentally enough. His dress pants matched the jacket, and his black shoes were shiny and obviously designer. His hair was a little messy, the way she liked it, and there was something different about it, but she didn’t know what it was.
Her heart started hammering wildly when she saw him, and she felt that strange butterfly feeling. A feeling she hadn’t felt since she first realised that she was in love with Ron. It was strange to be feeling it again.
I love him, she realised, her heart skipping a beat. I’m in love with him. She felt stupid, not realising it before. The signs were all there. And she had been jealous, seeing him with another girl—any other girl. She should have known a long time ago. Because it had been there since the start of the school year.
He didn’t seem to realise what was going on in her head, though, because he was staring at her, too. The look on his face matched Blaise’s, but it was different. His eyes— strangely blue tonight—, looked almost as if they were melting just from looking at her. It was as if he were looking at an angel or something.
‘Hermione,’ he said at last, and his voice was like angels singing. ‘You look… incredible.’
Beside her, Blaise shifted at the word. He’s jealous, she thought, almost groaning. She didn’t want him to be jealous. ‘Thank you,’ she said, trying not to blush. ‘You look nice too. Of course.’
She mentally kicked herself. Of course? Her inner-voice yelled at her. Well, that was stupid! What’s he going to think you meant by that? She told the voice to shut up, and noticed that Draco was fighting a smirk. His lips were twitching.
‘Really? I just threw this on,’ he said. ‘I don’t understand why women waste hours getting ready.’
She fought back a snicker. ‘It’s because they care about their appearances,’ said Blaise, almost bitterly. ‘It takes time to look nice. For some people, anyway.’
Blaise, stop being jealous, she wanted to say. You’re not going to get anywhere, being jealous of Draco. But she didn’t say it.
‘Is anyone else coming?’ She asked him, almost too sharply. ‘My feet hurt from standing—I need to walk soon.’
Blaise frowned. ‘I think it’s just the Notts left,’ he said. ‘But… I’m sure Mum won’t mind if we go in early.’
She felt sick. ‘I don’t want to see him,’ she said. ‘But you’re the host, so you have to stay here.’
‘He won’t get anywhere near you, ‘ Blaise promised her. Then he turned to Draco, who was watching them curiously. She had nearly forgotten that he didn’t know what had happened. ‘Can you take her in, please?’
‘Of course,’ Draco said.
She leaned up—even in heels, Blaise was still taller than her—and kissed him on the cheek. She could have sworn that, out of the corner of her eye, she saw something flash in Draco’s grey ones. It was not quite anger, but close enough. Jealousy, perhaps?
Don’t get ahead of yourself, her inner voice scolded.
In an uncomfortable silence, they walked to the formal room together.
‘You did something different to your hair,’ she noted, finally spotting what was different about it.
Almost as if it was an impulse, Draco ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Er… yeah,’ he said. ‘I used one of those darkening spells.’
‘A darkening spell?’ She asked, a little surprised. ‘That’s a hairstyling spell. I thought girls were the only ones who used them.’
He smirked. She had missed that smirk, she thought. ‘Well, I’m sure that most men don’t use them, but I wanted to do something different,’ he said. ‘I was getting sick of looking so… pale.’
‘Well, I like it,’ she said, flushing. ‘I mean, it’s really different, but it looks good.’
He didn’t smile, but he looked rather pleased. ‘Thanks,’ he said.
They reached the Formal Room at last, and went inside. He spotted Astoria, and they went over to her.
She couldn’t help the jealousy that flared up in her stomach when he kissed Astoria on the cheek. She looked away, uncomfortable. She didn’t want to be jealous, but she was only human, and she couldn’t help her emotions, even if they were childish. After all, she had no reason to be jealous of Astoria. She didn’t envy her. She was only jealous because of Draco, because she loved him, and that was a very, very bad thing. Because she couldn’t have him. He belonged to Astoria. And she refused to be like Lavender Brown and steal another woman’s man. She wasn’t like that, and she would never be.
When Blaise, his mother, and Narcissa finally came inside, she was so distracted that she allowed Blaise to kiss her on the cheek, not even caring about the consequences. She knew it was selfish to lead him on, but she couldn’t find it in her to care.
Rhea announced that it was time to begin the Ball, and the music suddenly changed into the Waltz. She tried not to look at Draco and Astoria dancing, so perfect together that it hurt, and turned her attention completely to Blaise.
Dancing with Blaise was a little better than before, but it was also worse. She couldn’t help watching Draco and Astoria, spinning effortlessly together on the dance floor. She couldn’t help but wish, as Blaise twirled her around, that she were in Draco’s arms instead.
All evening, she watched him from the corner of her eye. She watched as he danced with the other women. She kept waiting for him to make his way over to her, to ask her to dance. But he never did. Instead, he danced with every other woman in the room. Not once did his eyes flicker in her direction. It was as if he had completely forgotten that she was there at all.
It made her angry. She didn’t like being ignored. Blaise, however, was completely oblivious to her anger, and he was only too happy to dance with her all evening. But she was not pleased at all.
Eventually, about halfway through, she decided that she’d had enough. She couldn’t take it anymore. The jealousy was practically joking her.
‘Would you excuse me for a minute, Blaise? I need to use the ladies room desperately,’ she said. They were in the middle of a dance. It was the wrong time to leave, but she couldn’t stay here anymore.
‘Of course,’ he said. ‘I’ll just go dance with my Mother.’
He let her go, and she all but ran to the doors. She pushed them open, and nearly sprinted to the front foyer. It was empty now, and Penny was nowhere in sight.
She sat down on the bottom of the grand staircase, glad to be alone, and a few tears rolled down her cheeks.
She looked up, and her traitorous heart started beating rapidly. Draco had followed her from the formal room. ‘What do you want?’ She asked, her voice sharper than she’d intended. He flinched.
‘I just wanted to make sure you were OK. You looked upset,’ he said. ‘Is everything alright?’
Her stupid heart was now fluttering excitedly in her chest. Curse him for being so damn perfect, she thought. ‘I’m fine,’ she said, and she could hear the bitterness in her voice. ‘Thank you for your concern.’
Draco blinked, staring at her. ‘Are you mad at me?’ He asked, sounding a little bewildered. He peered at her face for a moment. ‘You are. Why?’
‘Why?’ She repeated incredulously. ‘You’re really asking me that? Why am I angry? Hmm. I don’t know. It might have something to do with the fact that you have danced with every woman in this bloody house except for me,’ she finished in a low voice, her every word shaking with anger.
‘I was trying to make you jealous!’ He exclaimed exasperatedly.
She froze, and her heart skipped a beat. ‘But… but why?’ She whispered finally, after a minute.
‘Don’t you get it, Hermione?’ He asked, his voice quiet now.
She was standing up now, and they were so close together that she could have just reached out and touched him. She wanted too, desperately. But he was Astoria’s. ‘Get what, Draco?’ She asked. ‘Help me understand, please. What were you hoping to accomplish, getting me jealous?’
‘I had to be sure. You’re so careful at hiding your emotions around Astoria,’ he explained. ‘I needed you to be pushed to the limit.’
‘But why, though?’ She asked.
He sighed. ‘Because I remembered how you were so jealous of that dimwit, Lavender Brown. You get jealous, you know. Territorial, almost. It was the easiest way I could think of, to be sure.’
‘I still don’t understand,’ she whispered.
Their eyes met. He was so close to her that his eyes were more blue than grey now. She was reminded of a stormy sky. ‘I think you do,’ he said. ‘I think you know exactly what I’m trying to say.’
‘Draco,’ she whispered, finally understanding. ‘Why are you doing this to me? I can’t do this.’
His face was determined, though. It was a sort of determination that she had seen many times on Harry’s face. He wasn’t going to give up. She knew he wasn’t. Like Harry, he was far too stubborn.
‘Why not?’ He asked. ‘Give me a reason, Hermione. And it better not be because of Blaise.’
She looked at him, surprised. ‘Because of Blaise?’ She repeated, bewildered.
‘Well, yes,’ he said. ‘I imagine that Blaise would probably not appreciate me making the moves on his woman.’
She stared at him for a long moment, and then burst out laughing. ‘Blaise’s woman? As if, Draco. Where did you get that idea?’ She asked.
‘But… but you said that he made you happy,’ he sputtered out. ‘You said. And you kissed him on the cheek, before!’
She laughed. ‘It was an instinct,’ she said. ‘Look, I’m not dating Blaise, OK? But you are dating Astoria, and I won’t be like Lavender Brown, Draco. I won’t take another woman’s man.’
‘You can’t steal what’s already yours,’ he said quietly. ‘And I am yours, Hermione. My heart belonged to you when I kissed you under the mistletoe in Fourth Year. I’ll always be yours. You can’t change that.’
Her breath caught in her throat. She didn’t want to hear this. It made everything more complicated. She wasn’t supposed to fall in love with him. This wasn’t one of her fairytales. She wasn’t going to ride off into the sunset with her prince.
And why, oh why, did the Prince have to be Draco? They fit together perfectly, like two pieces of a puzzle that were meant to be together. He was perfect, everything she’d ever wanted out of her future husband, and yet he could never be hers, no matter what he said about his heart belonging to her.
‘I can’t,’ she whispered, feeling the tears threatening to fall down her cheeks. ‘I can’t let myself love you, Draco.’
His face was softer now, but he still had that determined expression. He stepped closer towards her, and took her hands in his. ‘Tell me that you don’t love me, then,’ he said. ‘Tell me your heart doesn’t race in my presence. Tell me that you didn’t feel those fireworks in Fourth Year when I kissed you. Tell me that you could survive without me in your life.’
She was trembling, and his thumb, brushing over her hand, was sending shockwaves through her body. ‘I…’ she tried to say it. I don’t love you. But she couldn’t get the words out. ‘I can’t.’
He dropped her hands, serious now. ‘I love you, Hermione,’ he said, and her heart skipped a beat.
She couldn’t manage a response, and she didn’t need to. Draco suddenly looked up, and she followed his gaze to see a familiar plant hanging above them. ‘Mistletoe,’ she breathed, and their eyes locked.
She didn’t know which of them started it. All she knew was that Draco’s lips were suddenly pressed against hers, and he was holding her tightly to him. Her arms were around his neck, fingers tangled in his hair. His arms were around her waist, one of his hands sliding up her back. When they had to break away for air, he was smiling. Really smiling, for the first time. She was amazed, and smiled back even wider.
Draco leaned in to kiss her again, but stopped. ‘Hermione?’ He asked.
‘Yes?’ She murmured.
His eyes were sparkling. ‘The mistletoe wasn’t enchanted,’ he whispered.
She smiled, and he kissed her again.
I am SOO SORRY I have to stop it here! The rest of the chapter contained a few sensitive topics and although I tried to fix it, it didnt seem to work. Once again, I apologize for the incredibly long wait and I hope you don't hate me! Thank you to all the people who have continued to support the story from the begining!
Also, just a couple of questions:
1. what do you think of the Hermione-Blaise pairing?
2. Who do you think the mysterious "figure" is? The one who keeps popping up? And what do you think about Astoria (my version of her anyway)?
Thanks for reading! I hope to have the next chapter up soon, as well as my new one shot "A Bit of Luck", which is about Neville and Hannah!!
Cupcakes for all!
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