Chapter 1 : Travel Bug
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AN: A massive thank you to my beta for this story, long_live_luna_bellatrix, for making sense when I don't!
A typical late-spring downpour pounded against the panes of the large bay window where Hermione lay nestled against the glass. She was curled up on a bunch of cushions, for which she had personally picked out the blue fabric and then sewed by hand back when she had first moved in almost two years ago. When she had originally toured the flat, the window was one of the major selling points for her. It had made Hermione melt in happiness, her imagination running wild with the possibilities for the window alcove. Her boyfriend of three years had laughed at her reaction to the quaint space before shaking the hand of the realtor and claiming they'd take it. He had known she was in love when she had absently commented that it would be a wonderful place to read.
"All right, you can have the window seat as long as you don't claim a whole room for your books," he had chuckled on their way out the door, heading to the agency to fill out paperwork.
Now, years later, Hermione sat in her window seat holding a book that she had taken from a shelf in her library - the room dedicated solely to her vast collection - minutes prior. She looked up from the map of the world which graced the inside cover of the tome to glance out over the dreary streets of Diagon Alley four stories below her. The rain had been endless for the past week, making her even more keen than usual to go on a vacation somewhere far away from there. She had the travel bug and all she wanted was sunshine. Was that really too much to ask? Hermione hated the feeling of getting out of work only to find the sun hidden by a thick covering of clouds.
She reached blindly out to her right and found her mug of tea, loving the warmth that seeped through the glass and against her palm as she took a sip. Placing it back in its designated spot - a spot peppered with rings left over from her inability to remember to use a coaster, despite her boyfriend's fondness for them - Hermione turned the page to her first dream getaway location: Australia.
It was just as she was reading about the soaring cliffs of Kangaroo Island off the southern coast of the country that the door to the flat opened. Her boyfriend came in as gracefully as ever, his robes folded over his arm from where he'd stripped them off in the hallway just before entering and his briefcase in the hand not clasping the doorknob. He was a man of routine, which was why he placed his briefcase flat on the counter after closing the door and locking it. Next, he hung his robes on the coat rack to his left and pulled his wand from his trouser pocket before placing it on the coffee table as he strolled through their home. Finally, he walked over to her, cupped the back of her head, and kissed her in greeting. Just like always.
This part of the routine was her favorite.
"Welcome home, Blaise," she smiled as they parted, looking into his caramel eyes as they glowed out at her from his dark golden complexion. Hermione cupped his scruffy jaw in her palm while her other hand clutched her book against her lap to avoid losing her page. "I missed you."
"Freckles, I miss you whenever you aren't in the same room as me here," he said with a lopsided smirk as he leaned back up to his natural height. Blaise always had to practically crouch to kiss her, even when she was standing instead of sitting. It was the curse of dating someone who was a full head and a half shorter than you.
He brushed a playful finger over said freckles as he teased her, and she swatted his hand away halfheartedly. She had always made a point of acting exasperated at his loving attention to the blotches on the bridge of her nose, yet she secretly adored the caresses, as well as his pet-name for her. She'd have to admit, though, that over the years it had become much less of a secret. His knowing wink confirmed that she wasn't fooling him for a second.
"Would you like tea?" Hermione asked, tucking a curl that had fallen from her ponytail behind her ear.
"I'll get it, love," Blaise assured as he headed toward the kitchen area, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his sleeve cuffs before rolling them up to his forearms. "What are you reading today? The encyclopedia?"
Hermione stuck her tongue out at him and held up the cover for him to see. "It's called The World and the Places in It."
"The title's a bit wordy, yeah?"
"Maybe, but it's got wonderful pictures and loads of information on various travel spots."
"Thinking about breaking up with me and running off somewhere exotic, Freckles?" he teased while he poured himself a cuppa.
"Well, since my plan is ruined, I guess I'll have to bring you along wherever I go," she sighed dramatically, flipping open the book to the page she'd left off. "What are your feelings on Australia?"
"I'm scared to death of snakes and there's tons of them there."
"You were in Slytherin!"
"And you were in Gryffindor, but I don't think you'd shove your head in a lion's mouth or lock yourself in a cage with one, would you?"
"I feel like I just found out that Father Christmas isn't real."
"Because I'm a Slytherin who doesn't care for snakes?"
"I've always kind of thought it'd be sexy to see you dress up as a snake charmer."
Blaise gave a bark of laughter. "I think you have some major misconceptions about the preferred recreational activities of my old house."
"So what about India?" Hermione asked, scooting over and bending her knees so that he could sit with her once he had finished in the kitchen.
As usual, he grabbed coasters from the basket resting by their living room sofa on his way over. He placed two down on her tea-ledge, rolling his eyes as he picked up her mug and placed it on the little wooden circle. "Will you ever remember?"
"What's the point now? There are dozens of rings already. What's one more?" Hermione shrugged, giving him a charming smile. "Plus, I find it funny how uptight you get about it."
"You're unbelievably frustrating," he sighed, reaching a hand out to run over the back of her head and into her wild curls as he settled down next to her. He immediately picked up her feet and settled them in his lap.
"I love you, too," she responded, looking at him over the brim of her tea as she sipped it. "So, India?"
"You've got to be joking!"
"I can't help that I've got a sensitive digestive system, Hermione."
She laughed. "You're so boring!"
He squeezed her knee lightly just where he knew she was most ticklish, causing her to almost spill her mug on him.
"Japan?" she asked, turning the book around for him to see a picture of the bright lights of Tokyo against the backdrop of the night. People spilled from all directions onto the streets while buildings rose to great heights, hypnotizing Hermione in the grandness of it all. It was definitely not London.
"Are you going to nitpick every single one of my ideas?"
"If they're bad ideas, yes," he grinned, leaning forward to watch her closely as she huffed and started rapidly listing off travel destinations, showing him pictures of each as she went.
"The concept of bull fighting seems barbaric."
"I don't like snow."
"Anywhere in the Caribbean?"
"Why?" he demanded simply, sounding every bit the pompous aristocrat that he had grown up as. "How is that a vacation?"
Hermione let out a disbelieving snort at his expression. She loved him like crazy, but there was no denying he was absolutely unadventurous. It was one of those characteristics about him that she simply had to take and accept in order to get to all the wonderful things that had stolen her heart years ago. If she had to forcefully shove him into the Floo to get him somewhere new, so be it. What really mattered was that he was funny, conscientious, loyal, aware of his flaws, and willing to apologize for them when necessary. It didn't matter that he could be somewhat arrogant, and cunning to the point where she sometimes wanted to strangle him for always needing to get his way. When it came down to the wire she knew she was his world and he would do anything for her.
"You're being ridiculous!" Hermione exclaimed, swatting his arm with her book. "If you had it your way we'd never leave the flat."
"There's nothing wrong with having some fun together in the flat," Blaise murmured huskily, a wolfish grin on his face as he ran a hand up her thigh.
She returned his grin before sliding her hand into his, intertwining their fingers before pulling his hand to her mouth and pressing a kiss to the back of it. She looked down, observing the contrast of her pale ivory skin and Blaise's tan. She had always loved how they looked so different and behaved so differently, yet had in common their love for each other. "We can have fun elsewhere. Anywhere, in fact, as long as we're together."
He leaned in and kissed her then, his mouth moving against hers in a familiar pattern that warmed her heart as much as it had when he'd first done it five years ago in front of the Ministry of Magic. It had been the first time since Hogwarts; both were attending the third annual Minister's Ball which celebrated the end of the war. Now, she breathed him in, her arms raising so that her hands could rest at the back of his neck. Her palm brushed against his close-cropped black hair, relishing the texture against her skin before Blaise pulled back after one final peck.
"How about somewhere on the Mediterranean?" he asked, tugging lightly on the curl that had fallen from behind her ear again. "Is that a worthy compromise?"
"The Mediterranean?" Hermione watched as he stood up and walked down the hall toward their bedroom. She glanced outside, watching raindrops drip down the window and imagining she was looking at the beautiful blue of the Mediterranean Sea instead. She called down the hall to him, "Somewhere like Italy? We could travel the canals of Venice and see the art of the Vatican City!"
Blaise came back into the room, his hands in his trouser pockets. "I've been to Italy. How about somewhere new? Somewhere like Greece. I've always wondered what the Acropolis would look like in person."
Hermione dropped her book on the cushion by her feet, swinging her legs over the side of the window seat so she could face him in excitement. "You mean it? We can go?"
"Maybe I'll even dress up as a gladiator for you," he teased, rocking back on his heels. "I know it's not as sexy as a snake charmer, but it'll have to do."
She chuckled. "It's even better."
"How about we wait until after the wedding?"
"I didn't know we'd been invited to a wedding!" She stood, a scolding finger pointed at him. "You're so dreadful at passing on information. Harry could have told you to tell me he was moving to the moon and you'd somehow forget the news."
Blaise shrugged, reaching a hand up to slide over the back of his head sheepishly. "Sorry, but it's only recent. They don't even have a date yet, but I think they want a summer wedding. Short engagement and all that."
Hermione grinned, loving the idea of a summer wedding - bright flowers, some sort of floaty material for the dresses, and maybe a beach ceremony. She blinked up at Blaise, wondering what he'd look like in a Muggle tuxedo. He'd probably claim it was suffocating. "Who's wedding is it?"
Hermione froze, her mind barely registering that Blaise had taken a knee and was holding out a beautiful diamond ring in offering. She could see his mouth moving - no doubt in a romantic speech that he'd probably practiced in front of his mirror, and maybe even in front of his ever-critical best mate, Draco Malfoy. Blaise was even more of a perfectionist than Hermione had been as a teenager.
She knew all of this. She knew the whole proposal was happening, but couldn't really take it in. All she could manage was a tearful smile and a vigorous nod of her head before he'd stood up and wrapped his arms around her in a heartwarming embrace and passionate kiss.
As Blaise pulled away enough to place the ring on her shaking finger minutes later, Hermione tore her eyes away from his for a brief moment to once more look out onto the dismal streets below them through her bay window. Then she sighed blissfully, loving the thought of a honeymoon in Greece.
AN: This story was written for the House Cup 2013 challenge. The concept was to create a story where the major theme was "travel," and this was where my mind took me. I wanted to write a Hermione/Blaise story for my readers of A Wonderful Love who had expressed an interest in seeing me write Blaise with our clever bookworm. I may not write a multi-chapter story about the pairing anytime soon, so I hope this short and sweet one-shot ties over my Hermione/Blaise fans! I know it had that effect on me! Thank you for reading and please review to let me know your thoughts on it! Happy Reading/Writing folks!