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Chapter 9 : Surprise
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"Oh, God." Hermione said aloud.
Did I really spend last night getting completely sloshed with Draco Malfoy? Hermione thought unbelievingly. How many drinks did I have? How late did I stay out…and how the bloody hell did I get home?
"Hugo." Hermione suddenly said out loud bolting upright in her bed.
She remembered sending the Weasley's a charm letter asking if they could keep Hugo a bit later than usual…but after that she couldn't remember a damn thing.
Hermione felt like the worst mother in the world as she leapt out of bed ignoring the magnified pounding in her head.
Suddenly a faint whooshing sound caught Hermione's attention and blazing scarlet letters appeared before her.
Hugo was delighted you let him stay the night, we woke up early this morning and decided to make a nice big breakfast for everyone! Hugo's making his world famous pancakes. We didn't want to start without you dear, it'll be ready in about a half hour.
Hermione felt a great relief as she sank back into her bed.
Did she send a charm telling them Hugo could stay the night…? She certainly couldn't remember it if she had.
Then she realized, she had been in no condition to send a charm letter to the Weasley's…it must have been Malfoy.
She lay in bed for a moment trying to retrieve all of her memories from last night and piece together what exactly had happened.
She felt as if her mind were a pensive and her memories were trickily swirling away from her.
She suddenly remembered being carried in Malfoy's arms…she remembered his scent…and she remembered how good it had felt being held so close to him.
Hermione's heart began to flutter and she felt color rising in her cheeks.
She also felt something she hadn't felt in a very long time..she was happy..and excited.
She replayed the memory over and over in her head as she took a lengthy shower and got herself together.
When she was ready to leave to she managed to break herself from her trance.
She was feeling giddy over Draco Malfoy…a boy who had plagued she and her friends throughout her years at Hogwarts…who had taken the side of evil during the war.
But that was a long time ago and he wasn't a boy anymore…he was a man..and he was different now. Wasn't he?
Hermione decided she needed to be more cautious and level headed about the entire situation, but she found she couldn't keep the butterflies out of her stomach no matter how hard she tried.
Hermione arrived at the Burrow and was welcomed with delicious smells of a freshly cooked breakfast. She walked into the kitchen and was greeted by her family.
"Morning Mum!" Hugo smiled at his mother as he was flipping pancakes on a sizzling skillet.
"Good morning honey." Hermione similed kissing her son on the forehead.
"Good morning dear!" Molly sang kissing Hermione on the cheek.
"You look positively peaked!" "I just knew you've been working too hard…it's going to take a toll on your health!" Molly shrieked examining Hermione.
"Let her breath Molly." Arthur said giving Hermione a reassuring smile.
"You just take a seat dear and relax, I don't want you to worry about a thing!" Molly ushered her to sit down.
Hermione sighed and took a seat next to Harry.
"So you stayed at the ministry pretty late last night, huh?" Harry looked Hermione square in the eye.
Hermione looked away uncomfortably, she had never been a good liar. "Um…yes that's right…I had a lot of things to catch up on."
"Hmm…that's funny.. because I stopped off at your office last night to check up on you and they said you had been gone for hours." Harry said raising his eyebrows at Hermione.
"Harry…." Hermione began.
"I heard about your board meeting Hermione…and I'm sorry." Harry said genuinely.
"I know how hard you've been working…and how strongly you've always felt about House Elves and all.." "I'm sure you just needed some time to clear your head." Harry finished.
"Yes…that's right." Hermione said hoping to steer the conversation clear away from Malfoy.
"I just wanted to say…I know it's difficult..but you can't give up Hermione." "Your going to change things one day, I just know it." Harry smiled reassuringly at Hermione.
"I don't know Harry…I just feel like I've lost faith in the Ministry." Hermione said solemly.
"If I know you…you won't give up." Harry said encouragingly.
Hermione smiled at him but remained unconvinced.
The weekend passed speedily as usual and when Monday came Hermione felt a mixture of emotions.
She felt that she wanted nothing more to do with the ministry, and would almost rather do anything else than give them another meaningless day of her life.
But, she had been with the ministry for so long…it wouldn't be that simple to leave. There was also the subject of Draco Malfoy…just the thought of her running into him at work made her heart skip a beat.
Hermione arrived at the ministry that morning right on time, but feeling as though it didn't really matter. She felt a mixture of disappointment and relief when she arrived at her office without an encounter with Malfoy. She was extremely nervous about running into him after Friday night, but a part of her also wanted to see him very much.
Hermione's day was painfully predictable and when it was finally time for her to leave she felt hugely disappointed that she hadn't seen Malfoy once all day. When she made it to the Atrium she wanted nothing more than to go home and forget the day. She made it halfway to the nearest fireplace when someone caught her arm.
She looked up into the eyes of Draco Malfoy and felt her heart stop.
"Hey." Malfoy greeted her.
"..hey." Hermione replied breathlessly. Her cheeks were on fire.
"How are you?" Malfoy asked. "I was worried about you..are you feeling alright?"
Malfoy was worried….about me? Hermione thought.
"I..I'm fine." Hermione replied. "I'm feeling much better now."
"I'm glad." "You're a bit of a light weight you know…"Malfoy smirked at her.
"You're probably right about that…I didn't think it would effect me so much…I'm sorry." Hermione finished, blushing even more.
"No apologies necessary, I imagine it's a good thing you're not used to it." Malfoy said reassuringly.
"You asked the Weasley's to keep Hugo for the night for me...thank you." Hermione said genuinely.
"Of course." Malfoy replied.
"I'm glad I caught you…can I talk to you for a moment?" Malfoy asked Hermione.
"Umm…yes of course." Hermione replied a bit taken aback.
Malfoy led Hermione to an empty room towards the end of the Atrium and closed the door.
Hermione looked at Malfoy expectantly wondering what in the world he could have to say to her in this empty room.
He looked at her for a moment and Hermione almost thought she saw a flash of nervousness cross his face.
"I wanted to tell you…I have some connections within the ministry…and well I was able to arrange another Department Board meeting for you." Malfoy finished looking at her anxiously.
"You…what?" Hermione said completely bewildered. "I don't understand..how would you even be able to manage that?"
"Like I said I do have some connections." Malfoy said and Hermione could tell he did not want to elaborate.
"The only thing is they won't have an opening for another month…but I figured that would give you plenty of extra time." Malfoy said looking expectably at her.
"I don't really know what to say….even if I do I have another meeting they rejected it the first time…why would they accept it the second time around?" Hermione said defiantly.
Malfoy looked down bashfully and it made Hermione feel guilty about the way she had reacted. But after all….why would they even want to hear her again…she had already given up hope.
But the longer it sank in Hermione could feel a speck of hope begin to swell inside her.
"Why did you do this for me?" Hermione asked looking at Malfoy.
"I believe in your cause Hermione, and if there's one person I know that's passionate enough to change things..it's you." Malfoy said looking at her seriously.
"You're telling me…you care about House Elves? Hermione asked somewhat incredulously.
"You'd be surprised at some of the things I care about." Malfoy said and then turned to walk away.
"Thank you Draco." Hermione managed to say before he walked out the door.
Malfoy suddenly turned around and looked at Hermione almost wildly, he took a step toward her and opened his mouth as if he were about to say something to her then closed it.
"You're welcome Hermione." Malfoy said looking her in the eye and then turned away and walked out the door.
Hermione felt her stomach flutter when Malfoy said her name. She stood alone in the empty room for a moment thinking of what had just taken place. She couldn't believe that she was actually going to get another board meeting, even though a big part of her felt it would make no difference. What was even more astounding to her was that Draco Malfoy had arranged it for her..with his connections..whatever those were. Apparently he did care for for House Elves, and he wanted Hermione to succeed. This new Draco Malfoy was managing to surprise her more and more.
Hermione left the ministry that day feeling more uplifted and hopeful than she thought possible from last Friday…and she knew she owed it all to Draco Malfoy.
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