Chapter 14 : Valiant Valentines
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DISCLAIMER - if u recognise it from anywhere other than this fic, it ain't mine
‘Why?’ Ginny squealed, ‘I thought you like him?’
Hermione sank down on her chair, ‘I do. But I was worried what everyone else would think. And now it’s too late to change anything.’
‘You don’t know that.’
‘I do. He won’t even be in the same room with me if he doesn’t have to be, never mind speak to me.’ It was true, he had gone out of his way to avoid her; any time she walked into a room he walked out of it. The only time he would be within ten feet of her was in class, and even then it was only because he had no choice; but she couldn’t exactly discuss the situation with him in a room full of Slytherins, and she had a feeling he knew that.
‘So what are you going to do?’
‘Well, one thing’s for sure. I’m going to be a fifth wheel with you, Harry, Ron and Jane at the Ball.’
The next two weeks passed without a word being spoken between Hermione and Malfoy, except at Heads’ meetings, but then there was always a teacher or prefects there so she didn’t have a chance to talk to him. Eventually the night of the dance came around, and Hermione had locked herself in her bedroom to get ready. She had decided that even though she didn’t have a date, she was going to make sure she looked damn good; let Seamus see what he was missing. She tamed her long dark honey blonde hair into loose waves and pinned it into an elegant updo, leaving a few tendrils falling across her face and neck. Then she added some light makeup, a few coats of mascara to make her deep brown eyes stand out, and a slick of cherry tinted lipbalm, before slipping on her slinky chocolate dress. She reached under her bed and pulled out the box containing the killer nude stilletto heels which she had borrowed from Ginny, and slipped them on her feet. Then, as a finishing touch, she went to her desk drawer and took out an ivory silk eye mask trimmed with gold sequins and some small white feathers, and placed it over her eyes, clipping it into her hair to hold it in place. She glanced over at the clock and realised she was already ten minutes late; by the time she got down to the Great Hall in her ridiculous shoes it would be closer to twenty minutes. Taking a final look at herself in the mirror she spoke to her reflection, ‘Well Hermione, it’s now or never.’ She took a deep breath and stepped out of her room, preparing to leave the dorm, but when she got to the top of the stairs and looked down into the common room, she gasped.
‘Malfoy?’ she asked, uncertainty in her voice. What is he playing at? ‘Why aren’t you at the dance?’
‘I’m waiting for my date.’ He said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, ‘You took ages to get ready.’
‘But we’re not going together, Malfoy. I already told you that.’ she replied.
He grinned, ‘You were scared; I get that. But you’ll have nothing to be afraid of tonight, I’ll be with you and I won’t let anything happen to you. I promise.’ He stretched out his hand, ‘Now, will you please do me the honour of accompanying me to the Valentines’ Ball?’
She looked down at his outstretched arm, unsure of what to do. She had to admit, he did look hot; he wore a kilt and ghillie shirt (for non-Scots, see authors footnote) which showed off his muscular frame and made him look rugged and manly, and his soft hair fell across his forehead, creating a sort of halo. Once you do this, there’s no turning back. Everyone will know. Are you prepared to deal with that? a voice said inside her head. Looking once more at his anxious face, hidden by a black silk eye mask, she descended the stairs and took his hand.
‘I’d love to.’
As they approached the heavy wooden doors of the Great Hall, Hermione began to slow down, trailing behind Malfoy. He squeezed her hand reassuringly and pushed open the doors, and the Hall was suddenly filled with a stony silence as all of the students turned to stare at the couple. It was a little unnerving with them all wearing face masks of some variety; it made it harder to distinguish possibly amicable groups from ones which were likely to curse her. She briefly considered bolting, but the voice in her head returned, Come on, Hermione, don’t let the bastards grind you down. Get it together, hold your head up high, and walk in. And that’s what she did. Malfoy wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her in to his body protectively, and together they headed for a nearby table at which Ginny and Harry were sitting.
‘Hi!’ she greeted her best friends, hoping that they wouldn’t get up and walk away.
‘Hi, Mione,’ said Harry warmly, before turning to the boy with a somewhat less pleased look, ‘Malfoy.’
‘Potter. Weas- Ginny.’ the tall blonde Slytherin replied.
‘Draco.’ Ginny drawled coldly; she may have accepted Hermione’s choice, but that didn’t mean she had to be best friends with ferret face.
The crowd of students were still staring at them; the goody two shoes Gryffindor and the Slytherin bad boy. ‘I believe there is supposed to be a Ball going on, no?’ Dumbledore announced to the Hall, smiling over at Hermione. With a wave of his wand the music started again, and the students resumed their dancing and groping, although a few still shot dirty looks at the couple.
‘I, uh, thought you were coming alone?’ Ginny looked at Hermione meaningfully.
She smiled in return and rested her hand on the arm around her waist, ‘Change of plans.’
Ginny nodded in understanding, and stood up, taking Harry with her, ‘Let’s dance. I think these two could do with some privacy.’
Harry glared at Malfoy; it was clear he didn’t trust him, but he trusted Ginny and she seemed to think it was okay, so he gave up and followed her to the dancefloor, although he kept one eye on the Slytherin until Ginny elbowed him hard in the stomach.
‘Shall we dance?’ Malfoy asked Hermione, nodding at the dancefloor.
‘Um, yeah, okay.’ she replied, allowing him to lead her to a space bang in the middle of the Hall. He reached down and slid his arms around her waist, pulling her in toward him, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, looking up at him. They danced in silence for a while, until she heard a familiar voice ask, ‘Mind if I cut in, Malfoy?’ She looked behind her to see Ron. Malfoy looked at Hermione and, seeing her agreement, let go of her waist and wandered over toward the tables.
‘Where’s Jane?’ she asked Ron.
‘Went to the bathroom with five of her friends,’ he rolled his eyes, ‘Why do girls have to do everything in packs?’
‘Just a thing we do.’ Hermione shrugged, taking his hand as they began to dance.
Ron waited almost a whole ten seconds before asking what he’d been dying to ask since he saw her enter the Hall with his loathed enemy. ‘So, did you forget to tell us something?’ he nodded toward the table where Malfoy was sitting with Ginny and Harry, the only two people to really accept him at that moment - well, compared to everyone else anyway.
‘Ron, please don’t start.’ Hermione said sternly, ‘This has nothing to do with you, it’s my choice, not yours.’
‘But Malfoy of all people?’ he groaned, ‘After what he did?’
She stopped dancing and glared at the tall redhead. ‘Look, Ron, you have no idea what’s going on. I’m here with Draco Malfoy, okay? You can either accept that or not, but I think it would be a really stupid reason to end a friendship. You’re my best friend, why can’t you just accept my choices?’
‘Wow, Mione,’ Ron defended himself, ‘I never said I was going to stop being your friend. I just don’t want to see you get hurt, that’s all.’
‘I know, and that’s really sweet.’ her tone softened, ‘But you can’t wrap me up in a little protective bubble all my life! I’m going to get hurt at some point, not necessarily with Draco, and there’s nothing you can do to stop that.’
‘I guess,’ he began slowly, ‘But if he tries anything…’
‘I know, Ron, you’re the first person I’ll come to.’ she said gratefully.
Just at that, Draco returned, ‘Mind if I have my date back, Weasley?’
‘Fine.’ Ron took a step backward, ‘But be warned Malfoy, I’ll be watching you.’
Draco looked the boy straight in the eye, ‘She’ll be fine, Weasley.’
‘Mm hm…’ Ron muttered sceptically, weaving his way through the crowd back to Jane.
‘He doesn’t trust you. Neither does Harry.’ Hermione stated, watching him go, ‘Are they right?’
‘I wish I could say they’re not, but I honestly don’t know.’ Malfoy replied, looking down at her, ‘All I can say is I don’t want to hurt you.’
‘Then don’t.’ she whispered, leaning her head on his chest as he wrapped his arms around her again and another song began to play. It was Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls.
They danced slowly, wrapped in each other’s arms, until the song ended and she looked up into his eyes to find that he was watching her.
‘What?’ she asked. Oh my god, do I have something in my hair?
‘Can we go outside to talk for a moment?’ he nodded toward the door.
She looked around and saw that both Harry and Ron were once again busy dancing and laughing with their dates, ‘I guess.’
He took her hand and they strolled out into the sprawling castle grounds. They stopped under a tree near the quidditch pitch, bathed in the bright moonlight. He stared across the pitch, looking up at the majestic stands which rose into the deep night sky. He had his back to her, and she began to worry; what did he want? She reached out a hand and gently touched his arm, ‘Draco?’
He turned back around so he was facing her, but he remained a few feet away. ‘Do you really want to do this?’
‘Do what?’ she wasn’t exactly sure what he was on about.
‘This.’ He waved his arms between them, ‘You and me. Us. Are you prepared to fight for us, because nobody’s going to accept it easily.’
‘I know. I’m ready.’
He sighed, ‘It’s not just that. After what I did to you, I’m not really sure if you’ll ever be completely comfortable with me.’
She stepped closer to him, ‘It wasn’t just you. It was my choice. And it’s not as if you could actually go through with it; that makes all the difference.’
‘Really?’ he looked down at her; their faces were so close now.
‘Draco, I want to be with you. Why can’t you see that?’ she spoke softly.
He looked as though he was about to whisper something, but instead he just tipped his head down and kissed her; innocently and tenderly, not like the lustful hungry kisses they had shared before; this time there was much more emotion behind it. He snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her in tight to his taut body, deepening the kiss as he slipped his tongue into her mouth, making her moan. And so there they stood in a sweet embrace, passionately kissing on the moonlit grounds outside the castle, cloaked in a pale white glow, and as the light breeze swirled her delicate gown around her and sent a chill up her spine, she didn’t even notice.
Finally, they came up for air, and Draco murmered in her ear, ‘We should go back inside. We are, after all, the hosts, and I think we can make the last dance.’
‘Okay, let’s g- oh, no!’ She was about to agree, but with impeccable timing, she felt her left heel sink into the grass and she stumbled forward.
Draco caught her, ‘What happened?’
‘It’s my stupid shoe,’ she explained, showing him the offensive stilletto, ‘They look great but aren’t exactly practical when it comes to walking on damp grass – or even solid ground for that matter.’ Then a realisation hit her, ‘Oh no! Now my dress is going to get all damp at the bottom!’
Draco looked at the delicate silk hem of her dress trailing precariously close to the ground. She had managed to hold it up just barely. ‘No it’s not.’ he stated.
‘What?’ she argued, ‘Yes it is! Look! And it’s not even mine, I borrowed it!’
He looked down at her once more, ‘I said it’s not going to get dirty.’ And with that, he reached down and picked her up, one arm under her knees and one supporting her back as if she weighed no more than a feather. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her back inside and set her down outside the Great Hall.
He entwined his fingers with hers, and they walked back into the midst of the students on the dancefloor. Once again, he slid his arms around her waist and they began to dance. They’d only been like that for a few seconds when Hermione heard a snide voice only inches from her ear, ‘Wonder where they’ve been for the past half hour?’ It was answered by another equally snide voice, ‘Probably up against a tree somewhere. Wonder how much he paid her this time? Bet she’d do anything for enough money.’
Hermione’s felt her eyes prickling with tears, but she tried to blink them back. Draco, however, didn’t get upset, he got angry; she could feel his grip on her tightening protectively, and his hands balling into fists. He stopped dancing, and she swung around so she was standing beside him and could see the identity of the voices; it was Goyle and his date, Millicent Bulstrode. They had obviously tried to make an effort for the Ball, but the sight of them in formal wear just made Hermione sick to the stomach; it was like someone had squished one ugly bulldog into a tux and another into a ballgown. It could be worse. At least the masks hide their faces a bit, she thought, trying to keep her lunch down.
‘I thought we had already discussed this, Goyle, but I see I was wrong.’ Draco’s growl sent a shiver down Hermione’s spine. She had seen him pissed before, mostly at her if truth be told, but she had never heard this level of pure hatred in his voice.
Goyle looked Hermione up and down, a creepy grin spreading across his podgy face, before turning to Draco and grunting, ‘Don’t know what you got your back up for. I offered to pay. It’s not like I did anything you didn’t.’
Draco saw red. ‘How dare you?! You tried to rape her!’ he hissed under his breath, closing in on Goyle.
‘And what would you call what you did then? From what I hear, she didn’t have much choice in that either.’ Millicent piped up as Draco’s fists grasped Goyle’s collar.
Draco let go of Goyle, his already white face becoming even paler. ‘I didn’t rape her,’ he said quietly, ‘I didn’t,’ He looked at Hermione, then lowered his glance to the floor, ‘I didn’t.’
‘Well, when you’re done with the whore, you should rent her out; you’d make a killing.’ Goyle said snidely.
Draco raised his arm, ready to swing at Goyle’s head, but Hermione grabbed his elbow, stopping him. ‘Don’t.’ she urged.
‘No. He’s not even worth it.’ She glared at the mindless Slytherin and his date with pure disgust in her eyes, ‘Let them go crawl back to wherever they were dragged in from.’
Draco didn’t budge, so she gently hauled him over to another part of the dancefloor and wrapped her arms around his waist, leaning her head on his chest. ‘Ignore them.’ she whispered, ‘They don’t know what they’re talking about.’
‘Okay, ladies and gentlemen, this is the last dance, so I suggest you all make it worthwhile.’ Dumbledore announced to the crowd, before swishing his wand. Hermione squeaked with delight, it was one of her favourite songs; Kissing You by the muggle singer Des’ree.
She leant her head on Draco’s chest and closed her eyes, feeling the music as they moved together, and getting lost in her thoughts. Is it going to stay like this? Or are we just caught up in the moment, in the heat of the Ball? Will everything change tomorrow? What if he can’t handle all the crap we’re going to get? What if I can’t? I mean, Goyle and Millicent were just the start of it. What if -
‘The song’s ended. The dance is over.’ He made no move to let her go.
She opened her eyes and looked around; everyone else had left the dancefloor, and only a few couples remained in the Hall. ‘Oh. I guess we should go back to the dorm then.’
They parted and left the Great Hall, walking slowly upstairs towards their rooms. They clambered through the portrait hole and headed up the stairs, stopping in the small space between their bedroom doors.
‘So…’ said Draco.
‘So…’ replied Hermione, opening her door. What’s he going to do? Is he going to follow me in here? Am I ready for that?
‘I’ll see you in the morning,’ he whispered, leaning down and kissing her forehead, ‘Goodnight.’ With that he disappeared into his bedroom, as a rather smiley Hermione walked into her own room, changed into pyjamas and climbed into bed, falling swiftly asleep.
(A/N - 'ghillie shirt' - a peasant style shirt, commonly wore with kilts for a slightly less formal look than a shirt and tie, although in my opinion they make the guy look far hotter. Some guys wore them to Christmas dances at school, and there were quite a few at my sixth year leavers' dance last June, and I have a real soft spot for them. Think Robin Hood type shirts, with the open v-neck and drawstring. I never ever knew what they were actually called though, so I did some research - ain't google great?)
(A/N - okay, so it didn't take me as long to edit as I had anticipated. Thanks to Jenni for giving it a quick read through to check it wasn't crap! So, what did u all think? I first wrote this chapter not long after Valentine's day so I was in a lovey dovey kinda mood, despite being single. Please R/R and let me know what u thought of this chapter, and also where u think it should go from here?)
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