(A/N - OMG! a huge thanks to my reviewers - your support means tons! Ok, so it's after 1 am, my computer has already froze just as I was about to press 'add chapter', I'm never gonna get up for uni in the morning, and I made my bestest stay up to proofread for me [so, reviewers, a thankyou to Jenni plz], bu there it is! Hopefully it's more eventful than the last chapter. Enjoy!)
DISCLAIMER - I own nothing but the plot and choreography (you'll see)
RECAP Hermione sighed, ‘He was a perfect gentleman. He walked me to my room, kissed me goodnight, then left.’
‘Aww!’ Ginny squealed, ‘I’d never have thought Draco Malfoy had it in him.’
‘Me neither, but he’s been full of surprises lately.’ Hermione said softly.
‘So, tell me how you ended up coming to the Ball with him anyway.’ Ginny got herself comfortable on her bed, whilst Hermione sprawled on another and began to recount the events of the previous night to her best friend.
‘Where did you get to?’ Draco asked as Hermione entered the common room.
‘I told you. I went to see Gin.’ she replied, heading over to sit on the couch beside him, ‘What’s wrong? Miss me?’
He grinned, and pulled her onto his knee. Tipping her head back, he lowered his face toward hers, and was just about to kiss her when - ‘Hey!’
‘Sorry,’ she said gently, removing her hand from across his mouth, ‘but we need to talk.’
‘About?’ he sighed, evading her hand and nuzzling into her neck.
‘What happens tomorrow?’ she halfheartedly tried to push him off of her, but he just swept her arm away gently, wrapping his own around her.
‘Well, it’s our first day of classes after the Ball, and now everyone knows about us, or suspects at least.’ she tried to stay focused on her point, but it was difficult with his wandering hands, ‘We have potions together tomorrow, are you ready for that?’
‘Mm hm.’ He nodded slightly, although she had a feeling he probably wasn’t really paying full attention to what she was saying.
‘I don’t think I am. I’d rather we actually had a date or something first before – oh, mmm… Draco… I can’t have this conversation with you doing that…’
He stopped and, raising his head slightly, looked straight into her eyes. ‘Next weekend is a Hogsmeade weekend, right?’
‘So how about we keep it quiet for this week, avoid everyone’s questions, then we have an actual proper date next Saturday in Hogsmeade, and then to hell with everyone else? What do you think?’
She thought for a moment, then nodded, ‘Okay, that’s great. I have to return my dress anyway. But what are we going to do for the next week? We can’t see each other, and we certainly can’t touch.’
A grin slowly spread across his face, ‘Then I suggest we put our private dorm to good use.’ He raised his eyebrow suggestively before lowering his head again and whispering into her ear, ‘Now, where were we?’ as she moaned at his touch.
It wasn’t easy to avoid everyone’s questions for a whole week, but the couple received help from the most unexpected of places. Ginny, Harry and Ron came to their rescue, as did most of the teachers, even Snape; it seemed Dumbledore was happy about the match and had therefore warned the other teachers to look out for trouble which it might cause. Nonetheless, it was a pretty long week with Hermione and Draco having to more or less ignore each other around the school, although they more than made up for it in the privacy of their dorm.
Eventually, however, Saturday rolled around, and Hermione woke early to find that it was a grey snowy day outside. Slipping out of bed she headed through to the bathroom and stumbled into the shower. Then, she tamed her wild hair into loose waves and pulled on jeans and a white fitted shirt. Glancing out of her window at the carpet of snow which covered the grounds, she wrapped up warm with her stripy hat, scarf and gloves, threw on a pale pink coat which came down to her knees and hurried out of the door, grabbing her bag from the handle. Draco was waiting for her in the common room, looking hot as ever in black jeans, coat, hat, scarf and gloves. He held out a hand to her, and they headed down to the grounds, where the carriages would be waiting to take them to Hogsmeade. They were the last students to arrive, and thought they wouldn’t find a carriage until they saw a familiar looking red head hanging out of a window waving them over.
‘Thanks Gin, thought we were going to get left behind!’ Hermione greeted her friends, climbing into the carriage. Harry and Ginny sat on one side, and Ron sat opposite them with a pretty brunette girl, Jane. Hermione squished into the seat beside Ginny; the carriage was clearly only meant for four people.
‘Um, doesn’t look like there’s any room for me.’ Draco said, looking down at the ground.
‘Don’t be daft!’ Ginny rolled her eyes at him, then climbed onto Harry’s knee, allowing Hermione to scoot over to make room for Draco. He climbed in and sat awkwardly next to her, the two of them squashed in beside each other. Hermione was so busy trying not to touch him that it took her almost a minute before she noticed everybody else stifling fits of laughter.
‘What?’ she exclaimed.
‘For goodness sake, Mione! You can touch him, you know, you are going on a date!’ Harry blurted out as Ginny buried her head into his chest, shaking with silent laughter.
‘I know, it’s just – well – we haven’t really – I mean, we’ve not really went - been together in public.’ Hermione stuttered, feeling her face grow crimson.
‘Relax, Hermione, it’s just us.’ Ron said, smiling sympathetically at her.
‘I suppose…’ she started slowly, but was lifted out of her seat as Draco wrapped his muscular arms around her petite frame and hauled her into his lap.
‘Much comfier.’ he sighed, leaning back and spreading out a bit.
Half an hour later, and the carriage ground to a halt just outside Hogsmeade. Hermione slid off of Draco’s knee and he climbed out of the carriage, turning to offer her his hand. ‘Ready?’ he asked. She nodded and, entwining her fingers with his, clambered down to the ground. She was vaguely aware of the other four getting out of the carriage behind her, but she was mostly focused on the twenty or so students staring at her and Draco.
Her hand tightened in his but, determined not to show them it bothered her, she turned to Ginny and said, ‘So, how about we take my dress back first so I don’t have to carry it around all day?’
The younger witch nodded, and linked arms with Hermione. ‘You coming Ron?’ she asked her brother.
‘We – uh – thought we might get some time alone at the Three Broomsticks before you lot join us.’ he explained, his cheeks tinging red as he looked at Jane.
Hermione grinned, ‘Of course. We’ll see you two later.’
‘Bye’ Ron said, as Jane waved goodbye.
‘Bye.’ the three friends chorused, and Draco grunted, before heading toward the dress shop.
The little bell over the door jingled as the foursome entered the shop, causing the saleswoman to scurry through from a back room.
‘Hi, I brought the dress back.’ Hermione held up the dress bag, ‘Thank you so much for letting me borrow it, it was perfect!’
‘So I see,’ the woman smiled and nodded to Draco, ‘I knew it was the dress for you the minute you walked in. I guess it did the trick.’
Draco placed an arm around Hermione’s shoulders, ‘No offence, I mean she did look bloody hot in the dress, but that’s not why I fell for her.’
The woman nodded knowingly in their direction, before taking the dress from Hermione. Then she turned to Ginny, ‘And what about you dear? How was your dress?’
‘Great!’ Harry blurted out.
Ginny giggled and swatted Harry playfully on the arm, ‘It was lovely, really.’
‘Glad you liked it. Can I do anything else for you girls?’ the woman asked in her sickly sweet voice.
‘No, it’s okay, we’ve got to go.’ Hermione replied, heading for the door, Draco in tow.
Ginny followed, ‘Yeah, but thanks again,’ and with that they walked back out into the snow covered street.
‘Where to now?’ Harry asked.
Draco looked down meaningfully at Hermione, and she sighed, ‘Well, we were also kind of hoping to get some time alone…’
‘Why?’ Harry said, eyeing Draco suspiciously. He may have accepted their dating, but he would never fully trust Malfoy.
‘Harry, don’t be such an insensitive git! Obviously they want to have their date in peace, c’mon!’ Ginny rolled her eyes and dragged her boyfriend across the street to the Three Broomsticks, ‘See you two lovebirds in a while!’
Hermione watched her best friends go, then turned to Draco, ‘So, where do you want to go?’
‘I know just the place. Come on.’ He grabbed her mittened hand, and led her down the main street, and into a side alley, stopping in front of a quaint wooden door under a sign reading ‘Hyacinth’s Hideaway’.
Inside, the small restaurant was decorated in pale blue, with candles everywhere. ‘Can I help you?’ A rather round older woman had appeared behind the hostess’ table.
‘Table for two. Somewhere secluded.’ Draco asked politely.
‘Right this way.’ The woman led them to a small table near the back, mostly hidden from view of the rest of the restaurant by some plants and a small indoor water feature. Draco held out Hermione’s chair for her, before sitting down himself.
‘It’s lovely, how did you know about this place?’ Hermione asked, gazing around.
Draco just grinned, ‘That’s for me to know.’
‘So…’ Hermione began. How can I not know what to say? We’ve been fooling around for a week now. But then again, that’s all we’ve been doing I suppose.
‘So…’ he too looked lost for words.
Quick! Talk about anything! ‘So, why do you think Dumbledore’s been protecting us? I mean, I don’t know why he would care?’
‘I know.’ Draco replied softly, looking down at the white tablecloth, ‘It’s because of me.’
‘Huh? Why would Dumbledore be interested in us hooking up because of you?’ Hermione was confused.
‘I’m the biggest threat from within the school now that Voldemort’s gone.’ he began.
Hermione frowned, ‘I don’t get it.’
‘It’s no secret my father was his right hand man, the most ferocious death eater there was,’ he continued to explain, ‘and Dumbledore’s afraid I’ll take on the family business in a manner of speaking. Nobody knows what my father’s up to at the moment, since he disappeared last year.’
Hermione shuddered. She still couldn’t believe Lucius Malfoy had escaped Azkaban. ‘But I don’t see what that has to do with us.’
‘Dumbledore thinks if I fall in love with you, I won’t hurt you, or any of the others. He thinks you can stop me following my father.’ Draco said gently, his eyes meeting hers.
‘And can I?’
‘I wouldn’t follow him anyway.’ Draco confessed, ‘But I’m tarred with the family brush. Now I just have an extra reason not to do it. I’m not saying I’m going to go all gooey and perfect little angel, but I’m not evil.’
‘I know.’ Hermione reached across the table and took his hand, ‘I know.’
‘So what about you? How’s your mum?’ he asked, seemingly desperate to change the subject.
‘She’s okay. Not great, but she’s getting there,’ she sighed, ‘I’m going to owl them tonight for an update.’
Draco nodded, ‘I’m glad. Do they know where you got the money yet?’
‘Will they ever know?’
‘No. I couldn’t,’ Tears pricked the back of her eyes, ‘It would kill them.’
They sat in silence for a while until their meal arrived, after which the awkwardness of the first conversation eased, and they dissolved into cheerful banter. Once they had finished and paid, Hermione stood up and put her coat back on, as Draco attempted to put his hat back on without risking hathead the next time he took it off. They stepped outside into the alley, white snowflakes swirling around them.
‘Well, the Three Broomsticks?’ Hermione asked.
‘Time to face the music.’ Draco replied, once again entwining his fingers with hers.
An eery silence filled the Three Broomsticks as Hermione and Draco entered, heading directly over to the table where Ginny, Harry, Ron and Jane were sitting. The only sound was the clump of Draco’s heavy boots on the thick wooden floor. They sat down with their backs to the crowd, still grasping each others’ hands.
‘Oh for God’s sake!’ Ginny cried, standing up, ‘Get a life! All of you! This is getting really quite sad!’
The younger students nearer the table slowly turned away and resumed their conversations, and one by one the others followed, although a few Slytherins and Gryffindors still shot dirty looks at them every few minutes.
‘You want a drink?’ Draco asked, standing.
‘Um… butterbeer please.’ Hermione replied, as he headed off in the direction of the bar.
‘Well?’ Ginny asked excitedly as soon as he was out of earshot, ‘Where’d you go? What’d you do?’
Hermione stifled a laugh at her best friend, ‘He took me to this little restaurant, and we just talked.’
‘Oh.’ Hermione swore Ginny actually looked disappointed by this.
‘What were you expecting?’ she asked.
‘It’s just, you went away together… for almost two hours… there’s not that many places in Hogsmeade…’ the redhead thought aloud.
‘Honestly, is that all you ever think about?’ Hermione exclaimed.
Ginny was about to answer, but was interrupted by a thick accent, ‘So, what’s your hourly rate today?’
‘Sod off, Finnegan,’ Ron threatened, standing up to face Seamus; he might not agree with all of Hermione’s choices, but he would defend her to the bitter end.
‘No, Ron, this is my fight,’ Hermione stepped between the two boys.
‘Yeah, Ron,’ Seamus sneered, ‘Granger here knows a thing or two about handling men, don’t you?’
‘Just leave us alone, Seamus.’ Hermione pleaded.
Seamus sneered at her, ‘What? You not into group action, Granger? Shame. Bet we could’ve got your mum too. Now would that cost us extra, or does she do it for free?’
Hermione snapped. She couldn’t even remember stepping forward. All she knew was one moment Seamus was sneering, ‘What do you say, Gra- Oomph!’
He hit the floor with a thud, creating a deafening silence in the pub as every eye in the place turned on the pair. Hermione was aware that Crabbe and Goyle were edging up behind Seamus, glaring at her. She felt Harry and Ron rising to their feet behind her, preparing to face off with the cronies. ‘You little bitch!’ Seamus growled, climbing to his feet, with a little help from Goyle, the one time enemies united by a hatred of Hermione. Seamus wiped the blood from his nose and lip.
‘What’s wrong Finnegan? Like you said, I know how to handle men.’ Hermione hissed as he stepped toward her. He was obviously embarrassed at having just been floored by a girl.
‘How dare you, you – you – you –‘
The crack echoed through the room as his palm connected with her cheek, leaving an ugly red handprint. Hermione was shocked; never had a man hit her. She froze for a second, her mouth gaping at what had just happened. He hit me! That little git just hit me! After only a second, she regained her composure but before she could do anything, a voice roared, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’
Seamus whirled around just in time to see a flurry of white blonde hair heading toward him, a muscular arm swinging in his direction, and for the second time in under a minute, he was lying flat on his back on the wooden floor of the Three Broomsticks. In the blink of an eye, Draco was on top of him, intent on causing as much pain as possible, all the while grunting, ‘How – dare – you – touch – her!’
‘No!’ Hermione screamed, as Crabbe and Goyle flew toward Draco. But to her surprise, Ron and Harry jumped to Draco’s assistance, Ron tackling Crabbe, whilst Harry took on Goyle.
Why isn’t anyone stopping this? Where are all the teachers? Event the pub owners? Hermione’s brain screamed as she watched the three most important men in her life becoming stained with blood. But there was noone except students in sight.
‘Aargh!’ Harry grunted as Goyle began to overpower him.
‘No you don’t, you slimy git!’ Ginny screamed, practically vaulting over the table and tackling Goyle. Hermione had to admit, she might have looked scrawny but once she got going she was pretty scary. She was repeatedly slapping Goyle over the head with her bag (full with makeup), ‘Nobody hurts my boyfriend!’ All Goyle could do was hold his arms up in an attempt to shield his face from the sharp objects poking through the bag.
Hermione looked back around to Seamus and Draco. They were both on their feet now, but Seamus had Draco’s arm pinned behind his back so he couldn’t move, and was punching his side. Somebody help him! Hermione screamed to herself, but Ginny and Harry were otherwise engaged with a rather bloody Goyle, Ron couldn’t let go of Crabbe and nobody else looked as though they were going to do anything. Well Granger, looks like it’s up to you.
Climbing over Goyle, who was huddled on the floor with Ginny on top of him, her fiery hair flying, she strutted over to Seamus and tapped him on the shoulder. Surprised, he loosened his grip on Draco slightly and turned around. Smiling a sickeningly sweet smile, Hermione pulled her leg back and swung, watching Seamus’ eyes almost pop out of his head as her knee connected at full speed with a very sensitive area. He let go of Draco completely and slowly sunk to the floor, clutching his hands to his groin.
Hermione hadn’t moved when the main door opened and an icy voice bellowed, ‘What the devil is going on here! Granger, Potter, Weasleys, Malfoy, Finnegan, Crabbe and Goyle! Do not move! Everyone else leave NOW!’
Every other student in the building cleared out in under five seconds flat, scurrying past Snape and McGonagall, who stood in the doorway.
Hermione quickly looked around; it didn’t look good. She and Draco were standing over Seamus, who was curled up in the foetal position on the floor, moaning as he grasped his groin area, Goyle lay next to him, with Ginny sitting on top of him, holding onto the collar of his robes, Harry standing above them, and Ron had Crabbe in a headlock in the corner. And they were all spattered with blood from various sources.
‘I want to know exactly what happened here.’ McGonagall snarled in a low and threatening voice, ‘Miss Granger, why don’t you start?’
(A/N - another cliffy! mwahahahaha! So what did you think? Please R/R to let me know, I do take your ideas on board, as the many people who requested a brawl or a date can see. And if you really like my fic, recommend me to your friends etc! I'll try to update soon!)
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