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Chapter 26 : Beginnings
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To my fabulous reviewers (Wanda Maker, Vilauu, and LupinsMistress), you guys are incredible and one of the reasons I keep writing. Thank you.
Disclaimer: As usual, I do not own Harry Potter and I'm not JK Rowling. I also do not own Beauty and the Beast, that story belongs to either Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve or Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont.
I paced the room, trying to calm my nerves. I knew it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but for some reason, some part of me knew that kissing her on the cheek had meant more than a usual simple gesture like that might. It hadn’t been a moment that over swept me, it was a more measured, methodic moment.
Get a grip, Draco. My mind was on a constant loop of Hermione images. Her smiling. Her face when Dolohov revealed who he was. Her face after I kissed her cheek. Her face when I said all those hurtful words. This whole thing was becoming increasingly difficult to block out. All I could think about was her, and yet that was one of the most dangerous things possible, for both myself and for her.
This had been easier during dinner, although still difficult, but at least then I’d had things to distract me with so many other people and so many things to focus on. But now… it was all her. I sighed and opened my bedroom door, making my way down the hallway as quickly and silently as I could, not wanting to draw any attention to myself. I slipped silently down the main staircase and through the double doors around the corner, closing them with a soft click behind me. I locked them for good measure and turned around.
As my eyes swept over the room, I could feel my happiness growing with each moment. It was perfect. Absolutely stunning and warm in a way it had never been. This was exactly what I wanted and I knew my mother had pulled it all off flawlessly.
~*~*~ Flashback to early summer ~*~*~
When I knew Hermione was coming here, I started coming up with ways to make her more comfortable, ways to hopefully redeem myself in her eyes, or at the very least make sure she didn’t feel like a prisoner here. And then it hit me, she loved books, and what better way to make it all work for her than to create a library for her?
As soon as the ideas started coming to me, I called Dinky to me and had her fetch mother for me. She burst into the room a few minutes later, looking concerned. Upon seeing my face, however, the concern melted away and she smiled genuinely for the first time in months.
“What’re you planning, love?” she asked, knowing that whatever it was, I was finally excited, finally coming out of the depression that had taken over since the disaster that was Sixth year.
~*~*~ Present ~*~*~
The concept, in theory, was relatively simple- especially when I took into account where I’d spent the majority of my Sixth year. We’d turned the library into a room reminiscent of the Room of Requirements at Hogwarts in the sense that it became what you wanted it to be, not necessarily needed it to be. It was far less complicated than the Room of Requirements, however because it would always remain a library, but it could essentially take on the personality or desires of the person entering it. Whoever opened the doors controlled what it looked like, so if father opened the door and no one else was inside, it would remain the library he’d grown up seeing.
I knew there were some drawbacks. If my father walked in now, it would appear a totally different library because it would be what I had created. The wood that was normally stained a deep black appeared to be a rich, dark, but warm colored wood. The stiff chairs were full, fluffy, and inviting, and the stone fireplace now resembled one of the cozy fireplaces you might see in a typical cabin or small home, much simpler and toned down. The walls were a light blue instead of the dark greens they usually displayed. If he walked in, he would be furious.
It had been difficult to pull off and required a lot of research, which my mom had gone through extensive lengths to pull off. She scoured our library as well as others to find proper spells as well as pulling from her own knowledge. After she thought she’d managed to get it down, she ran several tests with herself, coming up with different ideas and opening the doors time after time. Then she’d had my father open the doors, saying she wanted to speak in there with him and was met with the sight of the familiar library. She’d let me know it was ready when she left the room after Hermione and I had returned.
Not for the first time, my admiration and love for my mother soared. I was grateful that she’d always been so smart, earning top marks in all her classes when she was in school and even becoming Prefect and eventually Head Girl. She’d been offered a job at the Ministry right after school and held it until she found out she was pregnant with me.
Since then, she’d never had a job because we’d always had more than enough money and she’d wanted more than anything to be a stay at home mother. Countless times my father had mentioned getting a nanny. I remember hearing him talk about it several times when I’d sneak into their room or the library when they were mid-conversation all the way up until I left for Hogwarts my First year, though my mother’s answer had always remained a firm, “No.”
I smiled and left the library, making my way back to my room to change quickly before heading over to Hermione’s room, knocking gently. My heart was beating hard against my chest as I waited and took a nervous, shaky breath.
After a few moments, she opened the door and I couldn’t help but smile down at her, my stomach giving a nervous flutter.
“Mind if I come in?” I asked and she smiled and opened the door a little wider so I could slip in.
Draco slipped into my room and I slowly closed the door and took a deep breath before turning around to face him. It took every ounce of strength not to gasp. Some part of my brain had always been adamant in telling me Draco wasn’t handsome because of all the horrible things he’d said and done, but lately… the more I get to know him, the more that changed. I began to notice the little things that made me realize how truly charming and attractive he truly was.
He was wearing black slacks and shiny black shoes, which somehow were nice, but not overly fancy. His shirt was a pale gray button-down that managed to match his eyes perfectly and also brought out the small flecks of blue in them. His hair was getting longer and a few pieces hung down over his eyebrows and I wanted to brush them away. My mouth went dry and I was suddenly very conscious of my own outfit, wondering if I’d picked out something that was okay. This was starting to feel like a date and the absurdity of that made me laugh out loud.
His eyebrows came together in confusion, “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, “Nothing,” I said a bit too quickly and he gave me a look that said he didn’t believe me. I debated telling him the truth that this somehow felt like a messed up sort of backwards date, seeing as we were trapped in this house when he spoke.
“You look beautiful,” he said quietly, almost as if I wasn’t meant to hear it.
I glanced down and brushed my hands down the front of the dress I’d picked out. When I’d come here, I’d thrown it in my bag, though at the time it felt foolish because I figured I would never wear it but I was suddenly grateful.
The dress was a pale purple that nearly matched the colors in my room perfectly with short sleeves that hung off my shoulders and a sheer skirt that ended just above my knees. It was cinched around my waist and actually fed into the illusion that I had curves, aided by the thick black belt I was wearing, with a silver otter in center on the front. I had on my black flats, glad yet again that I didn’t own heels, it would’ve been nearly impossible to walk in them with my nerves running this high.
“Thank you,” I said, blushing.
“Do you not wear necklaces?” he asked and I gave him a puzzled look. “Sorry,” he said quickly, “I just… the people I tend to be around, women in particular, always have jewelry that tends to be big and flashy and noticeable, so it’s rather obvious to me when it’s absent.”
“Oh,” I said, taken aback. “I guess I just don’t think about it, if that makes sense? Plus, I’ve found that when I do think about it, I’m rather picky- I prefer simple jewelry.”
“Huh.” He said and I suddenly felt awkward. The women around him wore those large jewels to show off their wealth. I’d never really paid much attention to what sorts of jewelry people wore, I was always so focused on their actions and words if I was paying them any attention at all.
“S-sorry,” I stammered and he laughed lightly.
“Now why would you be sorry?” he asked, giving me a curious look. “It’s refreshing, actually. To know someone who isn’t obsessed with jewels and riches… with fame and wealth or bloodlines and what that means exactly.” His tone was suddenly much more serious. “You’ve opened my eyes to so much in such a short time, Hermione.”
He gazed down at me with a look of admiration and I felt myself blush and I fought the urge to look down at the carpet while simultaneously fighting the urge to laugh again. As if he had read my mind, he asked, “So am I ever going to know what it was you were laughing at?”
I groaned, not looking forward to explaining myself. “Oh, I umm…” I felt my cheeks blaze even hotter, “just this,” I said, gesturing between the two of us.
“You think we’re funny?” he asked and took a small step towards me. It was suddenly difficult to breathe and I shook my head, trying to find my voice. I knew that didn’t know exactly what I was trying to get at, but I also knew that he knew I wasn’t talking about the two of us being funny and that he was trying to get me to give him a straight answer. My mind was a jumbled mess.
“It’s the situation, I suppose,” I started, swallowing slowly and staring up at him. “I mean, here I am, in the absolute last place I would have ever expected to be.” He nodded and I cleared my throat. “To make matters stranger, it would appear that I’m on a date with the last person I would have expected to be on a date with and yet somehow… by mind isn’t screaming at me. It’s surprisingly nice,” I finished quietly.
A slow smile spread across his face, “Well, for me, the only strange thing is the setting. I mean, who takes the girl he likes on their first date in his own house?” he asked and my stomach nearly leapt into my throat. He likes me? I thought incredulously. “If circumstances were different, I believe the location of our date would be much nicer, but I’ve had to make do.” He offered me his hand. “Shall we?”
“Are we going somewhere?” I asked, my nerves obvious when I spoke out loud. “I mean, technically,” I started, finding that Gryffindor courage, “you never asked me on a date.”
“Hermione Granger,” he said, trying to hide a smile and failing miserable. “Would you do me the honor of going on a date?”
Before I could second guess myself, I took his hand, “I would love to.” He beamed down at me but before we moved I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Where are we going exactly?”
“It’s a surprise,” he said, his smile more radiant than I’d ever seen.
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