Chapter 14 : Festive Flirting
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She stepped out of the fireplace at the Burrow on Christmas morning to a scene that was familiar but still one that she would never tire of. Steam was rising from various pots and pans on the stove, a large turkey was almost done roasting in the oven and smells from both filled the air. Celestina Warbeck could be heard warbling from the wireless wizarding radio on the cluttered shelf and Molly was singing along, unaware that Hermione was there, whilst pointing her wand to stir pots, wash dishes and set the table.
"Oh! Hermione, dear, you frightened me," Molly said as she turned around. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas, Molly. Dinner smells amazing as usual."
"Thank you," Molly smiled. "The others are in the living room."
Hermione took that as her hint to leave Molly to her cooking and headed through to the living room. It seemed she was the last to arrive, Bill and Fleur were there with Dominique and Victoire, Juliette was discussing wedding plans with Angelina whilst Ron and George looked bored, Percy and Audrey were fussing over Molly and Lucy, Charlie was sitting by Andromeda whilst entertaining an orange-haired teddy with a toy dragon, and Harry and Ginny were entertaining James with the baubles on the Christmas tree. The group greeted Hermione in a flurry of 'hello's' and 'merry Christmases' and she sat herself down next to Harry and Ginny, taking baby James in her arms for a cuddle.
They had a typical Christmas Day at the Burrow; everyone ate too much under the stern glare of Mrs Weasley, presents were exchanged and then lost under a heap of wrapping paper, Fleur complained and expressed her dislike of Celestina Warbeck’s songs, children were fussed over and many laughs were shared. Hermione thought a lot of her parents throughout the day. Though she saw the Weasley’s as family, her recent visit to her own memory of Christmas as a child was fresh in her mind and making her miss her mum and dad. She made herself a promise to visit them as soon as her workload was a little less hefty.
Ordinarily, Hermione would spend New Year’s eve out with Harry, Ginny, Ron and Juliette but this year the four were staying home, Harry and Ginny too exhausted from sleepless nights with James, Ron and Juliette deciding to stay in and spend the night going over seating plans for the wedding; a task that Ron had been avoiding. Lucy had refused to let Hermione spend the night alone as she had planned and instead invited her to a party at her house. Hermione had reluctantly accepted; worrying that she would spend the night surrounded by witches and wizards much younger than her but Lucy had promised that wouldn’t be the case.
As it transpired, Lucy was telling the truth. Hermione arrived at Lucy’s house, bottle of goblin-made wine in hand, to see several familiar faces. Some she recognised from working at the ministry and a few surprises came in the form of her ex-classmates, Dean, Seamus and the Patil twins.
“What a lovely surprise! I didn’t know you all knew Lucy,” Hermione said, greeting the group with hugs.
“We don’t personally,” Parvati explained, “my boyfriend works with Lucy’s friend Evangeline in Goblin Liason’s so we got a sort of extended invitation,” she gestured to herself and Padma.
“Seamus and I know her though, we met her and a group of her school friends one night just before Christmas in the Three Broomsticks and she invited us,” Dean explained.
Hermione stood chatting for a little longer with the group, each telling her what they had been doing since leaving Hogwarts. They all expressed how surprised they had been when they read about her break up with Ron in the Daily Prophet but Hermione told them happily that he was soon to be married and that she would be bridesmaid. She was beginning to tell them about her job and the work she had been doing with international schools when Parvati interrupted.
“Of course! We heard you’re working with Draco Malfoy. I bet that’s a nightmare.”
“Actually,” Hermione started.
“Actually, she loves it. Don’t you, Granger?”
Hermione whipped her head around even though she immediately knew who had spoken. Sure enough, Draco was standing behind them. Parvati blushed.
“I wouldn’t go that far, Draco, but it’s certainly more bearable than I’d originally suspected it would be,” she teased.
“Very funny,” he said sarcastically. “Drink?” he asked, noticing the unopened bottle in her hand.
She nodded and followed him as he searched for the kitchen. They found a bench top full of goblets and Draco grabbed two so Hermione could fill them both up with the wine she had brought.
“Did you have a nice Christmas?” Hermione asked conversationally.
“Uneventful,” he replied sadly, but said no more about it and turned the conversation away from himself. "You?"
“Lovely, I spent it at the Weasley’s house as usual.”
“What, no visit from Santman and hot chocolate with your parents?” he smirked.
“It’s Santa,” she corrected, “and no. My parents live in Australia, they have done since before the war.”
Draco looked at her quizzically and she continued. “Before I left to go on the run with Harry, I knew that the Death Eaters would go searching for me at my parent’s house,” she ignored the cringe from Draco at the mention of Voldemort’s followers and continued, “so I modified their memories and convinced them to move to Australia where they would be safe and wouldn’t remember me.”
“That’s awful,” Draco mumbled.
“It was at the time, it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done but I knew I had to, to keep them safe. I found them again after the war with the help of some people at the Ministry, I reversed the memory charm and they decided to stay there. It was something they had always talked about and they knew that I wasn’t planning on moving back home so it made sense to just stay I guess.”
Lucy came into the kitchen, putting an end to what had become quite a serious conversation between Hermione and Draco.
“Hermione!” she squealed. “Seamus said you were here, I didn’t see you come in.”
Hermione hugged the young girl. “Sorry Lucy, I should have come to find you, I got distracted catching up with Seamus and the others, it’s been so long since I saw them last."
“Don’t worry,” she waved a hand dismissively. “I’m so glad you came. Come and meet my friends? I’ve been telling them about you and they don’t believe that the Hermione Granger is my boss!”
She grabbed Hermione by the hand and pulled her away from Draco and out of the kitchen. Hermione spent the next few hours chatting animatedly with Lucy’s friends, who were as lovely as Lucy herself. They asked her a lot of questions, mostly about the status of Harry and Ginny’s relationship; apparently he was still popular with the young women of the wizarding world. The next time Hermione saw Draco, he looked as though he had drank a little too much.
“Hermione Granger,” he slurred as he approached Hermione.
“Draco…how much have you had to drink?”
“Not enough!” he exclaimed, raising his glass and sloshing red wine over the edges.
“Maybe that’s enough for now,” she responded, making a move to take the goblet away from him.
“Ah, ah, ah,” he said, snatching the drink and holding it close to his chest.
“Come on, let’s go and make you some coffee,” she now tried to pull on his arm and drag him toward the kitchen.
He pulled his arm away roughly and glared at Hermione. “You just don’t want me to have any fun Granger. I've had no fun at Christmas and I'm making up for it tonight. You’re boring me now.”
He turned his back on Hermione and surveyed the group of girls she had been chatting with before his arrival. He spotted Lucy and stumbled closer to her, tapping her on the shoulder to gain her attention.
"Hello lovely Lucy," Draco said, almost incoherently.
"Hello drunk Draco," she quipped back.
He giggled and placed a hand in the small of her back.
"You're very funny you know. That's what I like about you. You're not at all boring like some people I know,” at this point Draco deliberately turned and glared at Hermione, who rolled her eyes.
“Thanks very much,” Lucy replied grinning.
“You would let me have fun wouldn’t you Lucy?” he pouted.
“Good, because the bookworm won’t let me, you know.”
Hermione did not wait around to hear Lucy’s response, she tutted loudly and turned on her heel, eager to find someone she could have a more mature conversation with. A hand grabbing her wrist stopped her after a few steps. She was spun around and came face-to-face with Draco, she was close enough to smell the alcohol on his breath.
“Are you angry with me Granger?” he taunted.
“Go and sober up Malfoy, come back and speak to me when you’re not under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol.”
“I love it when you talk dirty,” he tried to wink at her but ended up blinking instead.
Hermione tried to pull her arm free from his grip but Draco pulled her closer. Before she had the chance to tell him to let her go, he leant further towards her and planted a wet kiss on her lips. It took her a split second to realize what was happening but as soon as she did, Hermione mustered all of her strength, planted her hands on his chest and pushed as hard as she could. He stumbled back and had just managed to steady himself when Hermione threw him off balance by raising her hand and for the second time in her life she slapped Draco Malfoy hard across the face.
“Don’t you ever do that again, Malfoy,” she told him through gritted teeth before turning away once more and leaving the house.
As soon as she was outside, Hermione apparated back to her own doorway and entered her flat, slamming the door behind her. She was absolutely furious at Draco; alcohol or not he had completely crossed the line.
A/N So probably not the first kiss you were all expecting, I'm sorry in advance! As my way of apology, I have the next 3 chapters written so updates should come pretty quickly! As always, any and all reviews are appreciated, I like to know your thoughts on my work :)
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