(A/N - you guys don't waste time do you? The last chapter had only been validated for an hour and already ten of you had read it! I'm SO happy with my reviews - there's too many of you to possibly name, but you all know who you are. But I will say a big thankyou to the girl from Germany who took the time to actually contact me personally. I know you all seem to like the heavy angsty stuff but there's not really any of it in this chapter because I can't have it in every one. So this chapter is really just a filler to tie up all the loose ends and bring up a few points I'm going to use in the future. I think the next chapter is going to have a major cliffy tho. I'll get it up as soon as I can.)
DISCLAIMER - despite what I might tell myself in my deluded little mind, I do not actually own anything Harry Potterish; all I own here is the plot.
RECAP He realised he had hit an explosive nerve too late. ‘How dare you!’ she screamed, storming towards him, and he was desperately aware that she was still brandishing the gleaming knife, ‘It’s your fault that they hate me, you bastard! Why don’t you just go run along and tell all your friends you laid the eternal virgin Hermione Granger, win your bet, and leave me alone!’
‘Fine I will!’ he stormed out of the kitchen, and she threw the knife after him, causing it to stick in the heavy wooden doorframe.
The next week passed slowly for Hermione. McGonagall had tasks for her and Malfoy to do everyday, everything from altering the meal menus to planning the Valentines Ball. Malfoy’s face had been a picture when McGonagall told them about the ball. ‘A Valentine’s Ball? Why would anyone want to go to that?’ he’d asked, his face screwed up in disgust at the very thought.
McGonagall had smirked at him, ‘Why Mr Malfoy, I thought you of all people would understand that Valentine’s is about being with the one you love, your girlfriend, no?’ She raised a knowing eyebrow as he squirmed in his seat.
‘Well, actually, I don’t have a girlfriend.’
‘My mistake, Mr Malfoy.’ her smirk was now almost Malfoy-worthy, ‘I just assumed that with all of the young ladies I see you with, at least one of them must be your better half.’
Hermione had barely been able to stifle her laugh at this comment as he turned bright red. She knew Malfoy didn’t mind all the students thinking he got around a bit, but he didn’t want teachers to know of his extra-curricular activities.
The rest of the tasks were done without any major incidents, until Hermione found that she could once again ignore and avoid Malfoy.
Eventually, the Christmas break was over, and the rest of the students returned to the school. Hermione was glad to have something to keep her mind occupied, but she was also a little afraid of the situation with Ginny. She didn’t know what Ginny was thinking, or who she’d told since that last night when they’d spoke. All her questions were answered, however, on the very first day of her friend’s return.
Hermione had been walking down a busy hallway to breakfast that morning when two hands had grabbed her from behind and hauled her into a nearby classroom. It was the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Hermione hadn’t set foot in there since last year, just before the war had come to a head and Voldemort had been defeated. She shuddered as she looked around at the dusty old shelves and miscellaneous artefacts. Ginny too was looking around with wide eyes, obviously not having meant to come into this classroom. She looked Hermione directly in the eye,
‘I said sorry, Mione.’ There was sincerity in Ginny’s eyes.
Hermione was taken aback. She’d expected Ginny to shout at her, argue with her, even hit her, but not to apologise.
‘What for? I’m the one who slept with Malfoy, I’m the one who got Fred hurt, I’m the one who was wrong.’ Hermione admitted.
‘No.’ Ginny shook her head, her red mane swishing from side to side, ‘I was wrong. You’re my best friend Mione, and I should have stuck by you, regardless of what you did. I spoke to my mum, and she helped me realise why you did it. If it had been my mum…’
‘And what about the twins? Are they okay.’
‘They’re fine. Fred’s a bit bruised but he’ll heal. We had to tell them though, they were going to come back when they thought you’d be out so they could get Malfoy alone.’ Ginny ran her hand through her hair.
‘Oh.’ Hermione was lost for words, ‘What did they say?’
‘They were still going to come anyway.’ Ginny shrugged, ‘They didn’t care why he had sex with you, they just wanted to hurt him for it because he hurt you. Mum had to put a block on the floo network from our house to Hogwarts.’
‘Gin, you know I’m sorry for all the trouble I caused.’ Hermione pleaded.
‘Don’t be.’ Ginny shrugged, ‘If it had been me… oh, I don’t know, I couldn’t know unless I was in that position. I guess morality is all relative.’
‘So we’re okay?’
‘We’re okay.’ Ginny smiled, and Hermione grabbed and hugged her.
‘Don’t mention it.’
‘What about Harry and Ron?’
‘Don’t worry. What they don’t know won’t hurt them.’
The two girls broke apart and headed down to the Great Hall for breakfast.
In double Potions that afternoon Snape had excused himself from the classroom to go to a brief meeting with Dumbledore, leaving the Gryffindor and Slytherin students together in the classroom, alone. An incredibly stupid thing to do, some might say, but Snape had never really been one to try to put an end to house rivalries and fights. Hermione looked over to see the Slytherin boys huddled around one Draco Malfoy’s desk. He was waving a familiar piece of parchment in the air, a smug look on his face. The other boys were clapping him on the back, and murmers of ‘Well done!’ and ‘How did you manage that!’ rang out through the room.
‘All part of the Malfoy charm, boys.’ he replied, a dirty grin on his face, as the others looked on in amazement.
Great, thought Hermione, recognising the parchment, the bet. He didn’t exactly hang around with that one, did he?
‘Come on, pay up!’ Malfoy instructed the boys surrounding him, but just at that Snape returned.
‘Pay up for what, Mr Malfoy?’ he sneered, reaching for the parchment. He grabbed it, to Hermione’s horror, and flicked his eyes swiftly over it. ‘Well well… isn’t this interesting?’ he smirked, his eyes passing over the members of the class, lingering on many of the Slytherin girls and finally coming to rest on Hermione, ‘Very interesting indeed.’
Her face turned scarlet, and she quickly looked down at her textbook. ‘Uh, Sir? Can I please have that back?’ she heard Malfoy ask.
‘Well, really I should hand this on to Professsor Dumbledore,’ At this, many of the girls let out gasps of horror, as they had by now realised what was on the parchment, ‘But I think since so much is at stake here for so many young ladies we can overlook it just this one time.’ The girls sighed in relief. ‘But understand this, Mr Malfoy, I will only overlook it this once, I do not want to find out about it again. However, I can’t do anything about things I don’t know are going on.’ He raised a sleazy eyebrow at his favourite student.
Typical, Hermione shook her head, It’s just like Snape to approve of Malfoy’s depraved activities.
‘What was that all about?’ Harry whispered to her as Snape began the lesson.
Now that she and Ginny were speaking again, Hermione had decided to visit the Gryffindor dorms that night. And so she sat on the couch by the fire beside Ron, Harry and Ginny snuggled up on the opposite one. Hermione was telling them about the upcoming Valentine’s ball that she and Malfoy had been organising.
‘A Valentine’s ball? Ooh, how romantic!’ Ginny squealed.
‘Ssh! Nobody’s supposed to know about it yet!’ Hermione reminded her. The redhead clasped a hand over her mouth, as the other Gryffindors closest to the foursome looked up at them.
‘Sorry Mione, but it’s so exiting!’
‘And it’s going to be a masquerade ball,’ Hermione informed them, watching as Ginny’s grin widened, ‘Not full costumes or anything, just formal wear and masks.’
‘You mean like those fancy eye mask thingys on the sticks that posh people wear?’ the younger girl asked exitedly.
‘Uh huh.’ Hermione replied.
‘Ooh, I can’t wait!’ Ginny was squealing again, ‘Harry, what colour of tux are you going to wear? You’ll have to make sure you don’t clash with my dress! – Or my hair!’
Harry laughed and grinned mischeviously, ‘And what makes you so sure I’m going to ask you to the ball, Miss Weasley?’
‘Because I know there are a few things about me you couldn’t live without…’ a rather kinky smile was visible on her face.
‘Alright, alright! Would you like to go to the ball with me Ginny?’
‘Why Harry, I’d love to!’ she kissed him innocently on the cheek, before turning back to Hermione, ‘We have to go to Hogsmeade next week to get dresses before everyone else finds out about it! We can’t risk anyone else having better dresses!’
Harry laughed, and Ron rolled his eyes at his sister’s behaviour, ‘Girls!’
Hermione turned to Ron, ‘And which lucky lady will you be asking then?’
‘I don’t know.’ he replied, surveying the room.
‘Maybe someone from another house?’ Harry commented, casting Ron a knowing look.
Ginny caught this however, and rounded on her brother, ‘Ooh, Ronny, what haven’t you been telling us? Who’s this girl?’
Ron sighed. He knew Ginny wouldn’t give up until he told her, so he said, ‘Jane Fabrini. She’s a Hufflepuff.’
‘I know Jane. Not very well, mind you, but she seems nice enough.’ Hermione smiled.
Ron smiled in return. There had been a time when he would’ve jumped at the chance to go with Hermione, but they had come to realise that although their friendship was truly precious, nothing more would ever come of it. ‘Yeah, she is. So what about you? Which of your many admirers are you going to take?’
‘Many admirers?’ Hermione asked, puzzled.
Harry laughed, ‘Oh come on Mione! Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed! You have a little trail of guys checking you out every time you walk along a corridor!’
‘What? Who?’ Hermione was shocked by this comment.
‘Seamus, for one. Didn’t you see him walk smack into that statue last week because he was too busy staring at you to look where he was going?’
‘I thought he was just clumsy!’ Hermione exclaimed, ‘I never thought any guys looked at me like that. I’m just Hermione Granger, mousy bookworm extraordinaire!’
‘Bookworm you may be, Mione,’ Ron said seriously, ‘but there is certainly nothing mousy about you. You grew up good! You’re gorgeous!’
‘No, no I’m not.’ She shook her head, becoming slightly embarrassed.
‘Believe us Hermione, you are.’ Harry informed her, ‘And we’re just your friends, we don’t even fancy you. But that’s part of what makes you so sexy; you’re so damn beautiful and don’t even realise it. Just like Gin here.’
Hermione looked over at her best friend. Are Ron and Harry right? Could I be as sexy as Ginny? It was easy to see why boys liked Ginny, even if she didn’t know it; she had long silky flame red hair, intense brown eyes, and soft milky curves. But I’m just a bushy haired bookworm. Right?
‘Hey Seamus!’ Ron yelled to the boy across the room.
‘Isn’t Hermione hot?’
‘Hell yeah! She’s gorgeous!’ Seamus grinned at her, before continuing his game of wizards’ chess with a fifth year boy.
Hermione blushed profusely. ‘I didn’t know…’
‘Well, now you do.’ Ginny grinned at her friend, ‘And that’s why we’re going dress shopping on Saturday. Then all you have to do is sit back and wait for those invitations to come flooding in!’
Saturday arrived quickly, and Hermione woke early to a loud knocking at the Heads’ door. Tripping out of bed, she stumbled downstairs to find a groggy Malfoy already at the door.
‘What the hell -?’ he grumbled, squinting at the blur of red as Ginny whizzed into the room.
The young Gryffindor ignored him. ‘Come on!’ she squealed, rushing over to Hermione, ‘Hurry up and get ready so we can go dress shopping.’
‘What?’ Hermione still hadn’t woken up yet, and was having a tough time working out what Ginny was babbling on about.
‘The Valentine’s Ball! Remember? We’re going to get you a magnificent dress, so you’ll look stunning for your date!’
‘Wait a minute,’ Malfoy cut in, ‘How does the weaslette know about the ball? Dumbledore hasn’t announced it yet; nobody else is supposed to know.’
‘She’s my best friend, Malfoy,’ Hermione rolled her eyes, ‘and why are you squinting at us like that?’
Malfoy muttered something, but all the girls could make out was ‘contacts’.
‘You wear contacts?’ Hermione asked, incredulously. She couldn’t imagine that the supposed Slytherin god wore something so geeky. It made him seem more human somehow, knowing that he had flaws, other than the obvious character ones.
He nodded, before heading back up to his bedroom. Ginny looked at Hermione, ‘Well who would have guessed that the perfect pureblood isn’t so perfect after all?’
Hermione nodded in agreement, before being dragged upstairs by the other girl to get ready for their shopping trip.
Slightly over an hour later, and the girls were walking through Hogsmeade with Harry and Ron. ‘Here it is.’ Ginny stopped in front of a shop which had gorgeous dresses in the window. ‘Don’t worry, you two don’t have to come in,’ she said, seeing the look that passed between the boys, ‘Besides, I don’t want Harry to see my dress before the Ball anyway.’ And so, leaving the girls to it, they wandered away in the direction of the Three Broomsticks.
Hermione and Ginny drifted around the shop in awe at the beautiful dresses. ‘Look at the price of these, Gin,’ Hermione sighed, she knew the Weasleys weren’t exactly well off, ‘I mean, I know you might not be able…’
‘Don’t worry Mione,’ Ginny smiled sweetly at her friend’s concern, ‘the twins’ business is doing great, and they agreed to help with my dress. They’re just so happy I’m going out with Harry, you know they love him, and they want to help me however they can. They still like to baby me and spoil me, and I’m not about to stop them!’
Hermione laughed, and held up a dress, ‘Ginny, this dress is so you! You have to try it on!’
Grabbing the dress, Ginny headed for the changing room. She emerged a few minutes later, and Hermione gasped. ‘It’s perfect! Understated, yet elegant, just like you!’ The gown was gorgeous; a strapless deep navy blue bodice top, with a skirt which flared out from Ginny’s tiny waist to skim the floor. Trails of tiny silver flowers were embroidered up from the bottom of the skirt. ‘Harry’s not gonna know what hit him!’
‘What about you?’ Ginny called from the changing cubicle, as she changed back into her jeans and strappy top, ‘We have to find you a dress.’
But they had no such luck. Hermione tried on nearly every dress in the shop, and although many of them were lovely, none of them were ‘the’ dress. But just as the girls were about to admit defeat, the rather ditzy seeming shop assistant came over. ‘My, my.’ she said, looking Hermione up and down, ‘such a pretty girl. I have just the dress for you.’
‘I don’t think you do.’ Hermione replied, ‘I’ve tried on everything in the shop, and none of them were right.’
‘No no no, silly girl, it’s in the back. Wait here and I’ll get it.’ With that the woman disappeared through a curtain into the back of the shop, only to return a few moments later with a dress bag slung over her arm. ‘Here we go. You go in and try this on dear.’
Hermione went into the changing room and pulled on the dress. It clung snugly to her body; not too tight, but just tight enough to show that she was by no means a little girl anymore. She stepped out from behind the curtain, and Ginny’s mouth dropped open in shock as the shop assistant smiled in satisfaction.
‘Oh my god Mione! You have to get that dress!’ Ginny shrieked. Hermione turned to look at herself in the mirror, and almost couldn’t believe that the reflection was hers. Instead of a gawky teenage girl stood an elegant and sexy woman. The chocolate brown silky gown swooshed on the floor, and tied in a halterneck, the back scooping down to the base of her spine, the trim of which was embroidered with tiny white diamantes.
‘But I can’t afford it.’ She sighed, looking at the price tag, and remembering her current financial situation.
The woman gazed at her for a moment before answering, ‘It would be such a waste for you not to have the dress; it’s as though it was made just for you, you look so pretty in it. Tell you what, I’ll lend you it for the occasion.’
‘You would?!’ Hermione gasped.
‘But don’t tell anyone. We don’t want a queue of young ladies at my door demanding free gowns now do we?’ the woman gave her a meaningful smile.
‘Of course! We’ll keep it to ourselves!’ Ginny put in.
‘So is that a yes?’
‘I’ll take it!’
(A/N - so what did you think? I'm writing a few chapters ahead but I'm kinda having trouble not being too repetitive and I don't want them to get together in a totally cliche way. So please R/R and feel free to tell me the sort of things you'd like to see happen ie get together soon, not get together soon etc)
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