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A Perfect Charade by ivy_018

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 31,992
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse

Genres: Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Draco, Fred, Ginny, OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione

First Published: 08/28/2006
Last Chapter: 05/10/2008
Last Updated: 05/10/2008

Summary:
Based on The Wedding Date.   When Ron splits with Hermione  right before Harry and Ginny's wedding, she gets desperate and hires Draco Malfoy to be her date.  Little do they know that their feelings might be more than professional, but it'll take some convincing and a little change of scenery to figure out that they were meant for each other. Lovely banner by Queen_Mab! 









Chapter 1: “Desperation”
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"And I never want to wake up, It's like a dream..."-The Corrs "Leave Me Breathless




Chapter One





Desperation makes people do strange things, such as stay up through all hours of the night to study for a huge test or set up an outcome in one’s favor, or, in Hermione Granger’s case, owl Draco Malfoy. Under normal circumstances, she would have absolutely nothing to do with him. After all, all throughout her Hogwarts years, Draco Malfoy had made her life nothing but Hell.

At nineteen, and freshly graduated from Hogwarts just a few months back, Hermione would’ve thought that she wouldn’t have given in to such ridiculous ideas like this one that she was currently working on. Most likely, he would say no and it would so be proven that getting help from her old enemy hadn’t been a good idea in the first place.

This whole situation was actually Ron’s fault. If he hadn’t cheated on her just two months before, Hermione wouldn’t be having this problem. She wouldn’t have had to go to Harry and Ginny’s wedding where Ron was to be best man all by herself. No, if Ron had had any sense at all, he wouldn't have been messing around with Sonia in the first place.

Hermione sighed and tied the letter around her owl, Hermia’s, leg, and sent her on her way. As she watched the bird take flight, she nervously gulped. After watching Hermia disappear into the sky, Hermione turned back to the table where laying on it was the Classified section of the Daily Prophet, which had a couple columns of male escorts for hire. The box circled in blue quill ink read:

The best in the business
All of your needs taken care of
Handsome, personable, powerful, wealthy
Owl Draco Malfoy at
4532 Pendragon Ln. #73



It was easily believable that Draco Malfoy was the best in the business. He always got what he wanted, he was rich, powerful, and influential, and despite anything else Hermione could say about him, he certainly was handsome, personable, and charming... when he wanted to be, that was.

Collapsing on her couch, Hermione took a deep breath. She looked at her ginger cat, Crookshanks, who was lying on the arm of the couch, purring. When Hermione sat down, Crookshanks turned to look at her and squeezed his eyes shut.

“Do you think I’m crazy, Crookshanks?” Hermione asked, rubbing a hand over the cat’s head.

Crookshanks just meowed in agreement and Hermione laughed.

“So do I.”


~*~*~*~*~*~

A few days later, Hermione was sipping her coffee. The wedding was in a week, but she needed a date in two days for the beginning of the celebrations. She still had not heard back from Draco Malfoy and although it was disappointing because she had no idea what she was going to do, she wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t answered her plea.

Just when she had stopped caring, a fancy eagle owl came soaring through the window, causing quite a stir among the animals of her household. Quickly, Hermione shushed Crookshanks and Hermia, and then got up to retrieve the reply from the eagle owl. Patiently, he waited while she undid the string and just sat there, drinking some water, while Hermione read the reply.

Dear, Ms. Granger
I would love to accompany you to the Potter/ Weasley wedding.
Although I despise the lot of them
And you, for that matter
It will be greatly entertaining to make a joke of the Weasel King.
I will meet you outside the Ministry of Magic tomorrow at 9 AM.
Please send whatever tickets I may need with my owl.
Yours sincerely,
Draco Malfoy
P.S. You owe me 6000 galleons.


Hermione glared at the letter, but since she was desperate and she didn’t have a back up plan, she decided to ignore his obvious disgust at her and her friends’ expense. It would be a terrific test for the two of them to act like they were in love.

Shit, she thought. I really am insane.

~*~*~*~*~*~

The next day, Hermione looked back over her bags to make sure she wasn’t forgetting anything. The whole wedding was going to take place in France, because, according to Harry, that was Ginny’s favorite place. Saying goodbye to Crookshanks and Hermia, Hermione finally left her flat, her nerves all tied up in knots.

When she finally arrived at the Ministry, her two bags in hand, she looked around nervously for Malfoy. Shoot, she reminded herself. She would have to stop calling him Malfoy. No one would ever believe the two were intimate if they were still addressing each other with surnames.

“Hermione Granger.”

Hermione turned at the familiar drawl that was coming from behind her. Although she hadn’t really seen or heard from him in a year, after spending all those years at school with him, his drawl had made a permanent niche in her memory.

“Hey, Mal- I mean, Draco,” Hermione blushed at the slip she had made. “Thanks for doing this.”

He smirked. “It wasn’t for you. I haven’t had a well-paid gig in a while and I needed the money.”

Hermione glared at him. “Glad to see you care so much.”

He just continued to smirk. That smirk was really God damned annoying. Why couldn’t he be decent like ordinary people? The better question was actually why she had even agreed to this in the first place?

“No problem, Granger,” he winked at her in a very Draco-like manner. “So, did you get us a cab to the train station?”

“No,” Hermione blushed again. Why had she forgotten a bloody cab?

He rolled his eyes. “Figures. I’ll find something.”

He disappeared inside and then came back out only a moment later.

“Where’d you go?” Hermione asked curiously.

“To get a car,” he said haughtily. “You know... You forgot to get one.”

Hermione glared at him, walking away from him a ways and kicking at the ground with her foot. “I’ve had a lot of stuff on my mind lately. I’m sorry that this one little thing slipped.”

Malfoy snorted. “Chill, Granger. I was just messing with you. Anything you want to talk about?”

“With you?” Hermione looked at him with disbelief. “I don’t think so.”

“You know, Granger,” Malfoy walked closer to her and put his arm around her in a “friendly” manner. “If we’re going to be in love, we might as well get more intimately acquainted.”

Hermione shoved Malfoy’s arm away from her shoulders and brushed her coat as if he was germ-infested. “Listen. I don’t need to tell you anything because it’s none of your business. Besides, we’re just pretending. You should know the definition of pretending since it’s your job and supposedly you’re the best.”

He glared at her. “I know exactly what it means, Granger, but in order for it to be believable, it has to come from both sides. You know, if you took out the stick that’s constantly shoved up your butt, it would be easier for both of us.”

Hermione felt tears come to her eyes. Obviously nothing else had changed because he was still as mean to her as he ever had been before. Although one side of her conceded that she wasn’t making that much of an effort, the other stronger side said that he had to make more of one too. He had been negative about this whole thing from the very beginning. What did he expect of her? Did he expect her to run to him with outstretched arms. I don’t think so, Hermione thought.

At that moment, a beautiful, new Ministry car came to pick them up. Hermione took a deep breath and climbed into the car after the driver had kindly stepped out to place both of their luggage in the trunk of the car. As the vehicle began to move, Hermione pulled out a book from inside her carry-on bag and decided to completely ignore Malfoy for the rest of the trip. Maybe he would stop being such an asshole, although she seriously doubted it.

“So,” Malfoy asked all of a sudden. “Do we go straight to the wedding party once we get to Arles?”

Hermione looked at him carefully and then nodded. “Yes, we do. The wedding party starts at four today.”

Malfoy nodded and was quiet for a moment and then asked. “So, what are we supposed to wear?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, trying to sense if he was just making a complete fool of her or actually was curious about what he was supposed to wear. He looked back at her, slightly impatiently, trying to get an answer out of her. “Don’t you know?”

He just looked back at her with an amused look on his face.

“What are you laughing at?” Hermione snapped.

“You’re very amusing, Granger,” Malfoy smirked. “Even more so that I remember.”

“What the Hell are you talking about?” Hermione asked angrily.

“Never mind,” Malfoy shrugged nonchalantly. “If you don’t have any recommendations for my outfit, I suppose I’ll just go in boxers.

“I am remarkably well built after all,” he winked at her.

Hermione glared daggers at him. “You will do no such thing, Draco Malfoy.”

“I had no idea you were so ashamed of showing me off in public,” Malfoy smiled sweetly. “Darling.”

“Don’t you dare call me Darling, Malfoy,” Hermione snapped.

“We have to sound like we’re intimately acquainted,” Malfoy winked at her.

“If you don’t stop making smart remarks,” Hermione warned him. “You’ll soon become intimately acquainted with my fist in your beautiful face.”

Malfoy just smirked. “Been there, done that.”

“Fine,” Hermione groaned. “I’m wearing this baby blue summer dress, so why don’t you wear a pair of black dress robes or something like that.”

“Whatever you want, Honey,” Malfoy smiled as he and Hermione stepped out of the car to the train station.

“Don’t Honey me,” Hermione stuck a finger hard in his chest and had the small pleasure of seeing him wince slightly. “We both know that this is just a business arrangement.”

“Yeah,” Malfoy forcefully removed her hand from his chest and held onto her wrist tightly as he answered. “But part of this business arrangement is making everyone believe we’re in love. Once we get there, I can use however many terms of endearment I deem necessary.”

“I hate you,” Hermione glared at him.

“Likewise, Ginger Snap,” Malfoy put a mocking arm around her shoulders and smirked at her.

Hermione once again shoved him off of her and once again, had the the pleasure of seeing him respond favorably to her. He stumbled and almost ran into a little old lady who was crossing the platform with a cart. “Careful where you walk, Baby Boo.”

Malfoy just glared at her.

When they got on the train, Hermione was sitting doing some knitting when Malfoy said. “We’re going to need a story.”

Although Hermione could have made some smart remark to that comment as well, she realized that he was right. His last comment had no mockery in it at all, it had simply been an intelligent statement of fact. They did need a story, the test would be if they could make it believable.

“You’re right,” Hermione looked up at him.

He smirked. “Of course I’m right. I always am.”

“Shut up,” Hermione snapped.

“Testy, are we?” He raised one eyebrow quizzically. “Although I should’ve expected nothing less from you.”

“Never mind,” Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. “We need a story. What’s it going to be?”

He shrugged and settled back into the velvet of his first class seat. “I would’ve thought you would want to come up with that because not only is it your job, but you also really like control.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and went back to her knitting as she began to think. “Okay, here’s how it works. You have to act like you’ve totally changed, at least to the general public. I don’t care how you act with Ron, but-”

“Excellent,” Malfoy clapped his hands together as an evil genius would, trying to come up with an amazing plan.

Hermione narrowed her eyes but continued. “You and I started working together on an alternative paper that’s soon to be released amongst the wizarding public.

“Two weeks ago, you and I hooked up at this party that Vincent Crabbe had,” Hermione explained and Malfoy nodded in approval. “And now we’re madly in love.”

Malfoy sighed. “That’s going to be the hard part.”

“Tell me about it,” Hermione groaned. “But if we pull it off-”

“Then we’re geniuses?” Malfoy asked.

“No, Malfoy,” Hermione shook her head. “Then we have will have pulled off a perfect charade.”

Chapter 2: “Plan in Action”
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"Would you want me when I'm not myself, wait it out while I am someone else?"-John Mayer "Not Myself"


Chapter Two




When Hermione and Draco arrived in the large manor where the wedding party was taking place, the two were awkwardly holding each other’s hand. Neither one of them had ever had to do anything like this and when Draco had first started being an escort, he had no idea that he would one day have to accompany one of his worst enemies to another one of his enemies’ weddings.

What the Hell was he doing here among all these people?

“Hermione!”

The two turned when they saw Ginny Weasley, pulling Harry Potter along behind her, run towards them. Draco let go of her hand briefly for Weaselette and Potty to give Hermione both hugs. When they seperated, the two looked at Draco warily.

“What are you doing here, Malfoy?” Potty asked venemously.

Like a reflex that his job had taught him, Draco pulled Hermione towards him and held her close, then kissed the top of her forehead. Out of his peripheral vision, he saw Hermione give him a wary look, but he ignored it. “Actually, Potter. I’m here with Hermione.”

“Why?” Ginny asked, shocked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Draco raised one eyebrow quizzically.

“I’m not stupid,” Ginny sneered. “But why are you with each other?”

“Because I love him,” Hermione cut in and ran her fingers through his short white blond hair. Draco forced a straight face. He knew for a fact that she was lying but damn, was she a great actress.

“Yeah, Weaselette,” Draco smirked and then caught the disapproving look that Hermione sent him. “Excuse me... Ginny.”

“Can I talk to Hermione alone for a bit?” Ginny asked politely.

Draco and Hermione exchanged a glance and then Draco nodded. There was no need for him to deny Hermione her friend. That would look suspicious and weird and so, against his better wishes, he nodded. “Certainly.”

Ginny smiled politely at Draco and then grabbed Hermione’s hand and pulled her away from Draco.

“What the Hell is going on?” Ginny asked accusingly.

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked curiously. She tried hard to keep that look on her face and yet it was so hard to lie to two of her best friends who had known her forever. How the Hell was she going to do it?

“I know you wouldn’t seriously come to our wedding with Draco Malfoy,” Harry cut in. “I mean, come on, Hermione. He’s the enemy. Remember? Or did one year off from school wipe your brain?”

“Harry,” Hermione said imploringly. “I really do care about him. I think breaking up with Ron showed me that. Where is Ron anyways?”

Ginny motioned over to the drink table. “Over there. He’s going to be pissed that you’re here with Malfoy.”

“Don’t call him that,” Hermione found herself snapping. “It’s Draco.”

Ginny sighed and exchanged a look with Harry. “Alright, alright. Although I find it hard to believe, I guess I can’t pick who you would love.”

Hermione smiled. “I am really happy to be here though. I mean, congrats you two. I knew it would happen one day.”

“Thanks, Hermione,” Ginny hugged Hermione and then looked back around to where Draco was standing, charming some guests that obviously didn’t know him. Hermione knew that that was a good thing. It meant that he was doing his job. But then again, Hermione conceded. He is the best in the business.

“I’m going to go get a couple of drinks and mingle for a bit,” Hermione smiled at her friends and then turned to go and find Draco.

“Yes, yes,” Draco was nodding to one woman that Hermione didn’t know. “I love Asia. I’ve traveled there quite a bit...”

When he saw Hermione, he looked up and smiled at her. “This is my girl, Hermione,” he turned to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close. “I was just telling Madame Weatherby that we had recently traveled to India this summer for the newspaper.”

Of course that was total bollocks, but Hermione played along quite nicely. “Oh, of course,” she smiled at the short, black haired woman who Draco had identified as Madame Weatherby. “New Delhi was quite nice. We did that article on Indian poverty, even amongst wizards.”

Madame Weatherby nodded and smiled. She looked back at Draco. “She is charming.”

Draco smiled at the woman and then leaned down and pressed a small kiss to Hermione’s lips. “I do love her so.

“Hey, Honey,” Draco addressed Hermione. “Why don’t we go get a couple of drinks. There’s some people I’d like to see.”

Hermione nodded. “It was nice meeting you, Mrs. Weatherby.”

With his arm around her shoulders, Draco lead Hermione over to the bar and ordered a couple of butterbeers. He thanked the bartender and then handed one of the drinks to Hermione. “Here you are, Sweetheart.”

Hermione grinned wryly and shook her head in disbelief.

“What?” Draco raised one eyebrow.

“You’re just funny, that’s all,” Hermione said, sipping her drink. “Very good acting. I commend your skill.”

He shrugged. “It’s my job. I’m betting you we’ll fight later, but for now, I’m your humble servant.”

“I have your money,” Hermione added under her breath. She knew she sounded slightly nervous, but she didn’t care. This was, after all, the first time she’d hired her date. It was sort of embarassing to admit, even to herself, though she had to remind herself that it had been because she was desperate. Plus, Draco wasn’t doing too bad a job himself.

He smirked. “I know you do. I wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise.”

Deciding not to retort, Hermione simply told Draco that she was going to the bathroom and headed away before she exploded. Why did he have to be so aggravating all the fricking time? Hermione shook her head and decided not to focus on it now. She could do that later, but now, at the wedding party, she had to pretend that she and Draco were madly in love... and had traveled to India together? That had been a stretch, but oh well. It was all for the sake of the charade.

Just as she was coming out, she suddenly ran into someone that she hadn’t really wanted to. Ron Weasley was standing there, waiting for the men’s bathroom.
“Hey, Hermione,” Ron smiled awkwardly. “How are you doing?”

“Fine,” Hermione smiled at him.

He leaned down to kiss her cheek and they lingered in that position for a while, Hermione reveling in memories of them being together. She still cared so much about Ron, but why had he been such an idiot?

“Excuse me, Weasley,” came a familiar voice.

The two jumped apart to find Draco standing there. Although she was sort of disappointed that she couldn’t have talked to Ron for a longer period of time, she was also grateful that Draco had showed up before she could do anything she would regret. It was a weird place she was in and she had no idea what to do about it. Lucky thing she wasn’t here alone.

“What do you want, Malfoy?” Ron asked, glaring at him.

“Just making sure you weren’t taking advantage of my girlfriend,” he smiled pleasantly, then turned to Hermione. “Are you ready, Darling? I got us a hotel.”

“Already?” Hermione played along. “Aren’t you fast?”

Draco grinned at her but kept a cautious eye on Ron. “Only the best for you, Darling.”

Hermione stepped around Ron and entered Draco’s embrace. “It was nice to see you, Ronald.”

And with his mouth hanging open in shock, Hermione followed Draco down the steps and out the door. “You didn’t have to do that, you know.”

“I was saving you from what you could’ve done to yourself,” Draco said smartly. “Anyone could see that you still have feelings for him and then it would’ve blown our cover.

“Besides, there are better ways to tear him up inside,” Draco smiled maliciously. “I will enjoy teaching Weasley pain.”

“Don’t get too violent,” Hermione pleaded. “That could also make us unbelievable and plus, I don’t want to cause a scene. We already had a hard time trying to convince everyone that we were actually a couple.”

“Leave it to me,” Draco smiled. “It’ll work. Don’t worry about it.”

Hermione just shrugged as the two walked out the doors of the manor. They waited around for a little while so they could get a cab. As she was standing there in her new summer dress of light blue silk, Hermione realized that Draco had not told her what hotel he had gotten for the two of them. Considering that it was him, Hermione figured that it was probably a nice one.

When the cab pulled up next to L’Hotel de Claire de la Lune, Hermione was not disappointed. The building was huge with at least thirteen stories and balconies on every floor but the first.

“How much did this cost?” Hermione asked warily as a valet rushed to pick up their luggage.

“It doesn’t matter, because this is where we’re staying,” Draco smirked at her. “Father, Mother and I always stay here when we’re in Paris. We’re intimately acquainted with the hotel owner, Pierre de la Peu.”

“Of course you are,” Hermione said darkly. The Malfoy family was probably intimately acquainted with every owner of all the best hotels in every city. Hermione could, most likely, actually go to New Delhi with him and he’d intimately know a hotel owner there.

Draco approached the front desk and smiled. “I’m checking in, s’il vous plait?”

“Ah, oui,” the woman at the front desk smiled. “Your name please?”

“A reservation for two for Draco Malfoy,” Draco turned and smirked at Hermione.

“Yes, of course,” the woman smiled. “You’re in the presidential suite up on the thirteenth floor. Here’s your key. Your luggage was already delivered.”

Draco nodded and smiled. “Thank you.”

As the two walked to the elevators, Hermione looked around in awe. When she had owled Draco, she never would’ve expected that they’d be staying in the nicest hotel in town. Now that she thought about it a little bit more, she shouldn’t have been surprised, considering that he was a Malfoy. And, according to him, Malfoys always got the best.

The floors and the walls were all marble. There was a huge fireplace with a big fire roaring in the lounge just a little ways away. The restaurant looked like the kind of place that required one dress up. In the middle of the front hall was a huge fountain with Cupid aiming his bow in the center. Little rich kids were running around showing off hundred dollar trinkets. The whole scene was so amazing that Hermione had to force her mouth closed.

“Pretty nice, no?” Draco smirked.

Hermione shook her head in disbelief.

“You’re speechless, I know,” Draco smiled. “Just wait til you see the suite where we get to stay.”

“Yeah, Malfoy,” Hermione glared at him. “And you really need my money.”

“I can always use more money,” he smirked at her and Hermione decided not to answer. That comment didn’t deserve a response.

When they arrived up in the Presidential suite, Hermione looked around in wonder. In one room was a little mini kitchenette with a marble floor and countertops, as well as a fridge stocked with food. Every surface in the bathroom that was even elevated above the rest of the suite was marble and the bath tub was huge. There was a sitting room with a television since it was a Muggle/Wizarding hotel and a couple of nice chaise couches. Finally, the bedroom had a king sized bed and a couple of dressers. The room was amazing and Hermione wanted to ask if she could just live there permanently. Of course, Draco would just laugh at her so she kept her mouth shut. All the same, Hermione was happy she’d even get a chance to live here at all.

As soon as they got settled in, Draco started undressing.

“What the Hell are you doing?” Hermione asked, shocked. She had no desire to see Draco Malfoy naked. Although she had to admit she had thought about it, he didn’t deserve her look of wonder.

“Taking a shower,” Draco smirked. “Besides, you better get used to this,” he motioned to himself, “because we’ll be living together for the next week.”

“You don’t have to undress in front of me,” Hermione protested. “We do have a bathroom in here.”

He shrugged and Hermione couldn’t help staring at his well-formed upper body, with a defined six pack and a tight chest. She looked back up into his eyes and she felt herself blush. He immediately grinned in triumph. “It’s okay to look and like, Granger,” Draco winked. “It’s part of the package.”

“Just go take a shower, will you?” Hermione snapped. “And leave me be.”

She heard the click of a belt buckle unsnapping and although she really wanted to look, she kept her hand over her eyes. Why couldn’t he take the hint and just leave? Of course he knew that he had hit one of her buttons and he couldn’t resist the desire to keep getting a reaction from her. Maybe if she stopped giving him one, he would stop making her do stuff she didn’t want to do.

“So,” Hermione decided to change the subject. “How did you decide that you wanted to do this?”

“Come with me into the bathroom and I’ll explain,” she felt his hand wrap around hers but she pulled away.

“I don’t think so,” Hermione shook her head, squinching her eyes tight so she didn’t look at him. Although, Hermione thought. Maybe if I just look at him now and admit that he’s attractive, he’ll leave me alone....

No, she shook her head in her mind. That would be stupid and he’d think that he had won when he really hadn’t.

“Stop being so stubborn, Mudblood,” Draco dragged her out of the bedroom and up the stairs into the bathroom.

“What did you just say?” Hermione asked, heat rising to her cheeks.

“I said to stop being so stubborn,” Draco smirked.

“No, after that,” Hermione continued angrily.

“I said stop being so stubborn, Mudblood,” He smirked again and removing her hand from her eyes, she ignored his fabulous body and let her hand fly across his face with a hard WHACK.

“Don’t you dare call me that!” Hermione yelled.

“OW!” Draco rubbed a hand across his cheek. “That hurt! What the Hell was that for?”

“You’re such a baby,” Hermione scoffed and then turned on her heel to make her way out the door. “Enjoy your shower.”

“You’re going to pay for that, Granger,” Draco growled.

“Make me,” she stuck her nose in the air and then marched out the door. She was making her way to the bedroom, when all of a sudden, she felt a strong hand wrap around her wrist and pull her easily back to the source.

She came face to face with a half naked Draco Malfoy glaring at her. “I’m about to punish you.”

And with that, he leaned down and kissed her. It was hard, rough, and uncomfortable, certainly not enjoyable at all. After a moment, Hermione pushed him back and stepped on his barefoot. “Ow!”

“Better be careful, Darling,” Hermione said sweetly. “I can’t keep scoring all these points.”

Again, he leaned down and kissed her, taking his time to explore her mouth. He pulled her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her so that she couldn’t escape. Judging by the way she was melting up against him, Draco doubted that she would actually think about trying to escape. He smiled to himself. He was, and always had been, a very practiced lover. Winning over Hermione would be easy, though he had to admit that she wasn’t so bad herself.

He finally pulled back and she looked at him, shocked. “I can’t believe you just did that.”

He winked at her and then turned back to walk towards the shower. “I can’t believe you actually fell for it.”

Hermione followed him angrily. "You can't just take advantage of me! I'll have you know that this is a business arrangement. Aren't we supposed to talk before we get intimate?"

"Only if you're the one who wants to get intimate with me," Draco leaned against the frame of the door and Hermione forced herself to not focus on his amazing upper body. "I can do whatever I want to, Mudblood."

"Will you stop calling me that?!" Hermione asked angrily. "We're not fifteen anymore!"

"Excuse me, Darling," Draco smiled sweetly. "It slipped my mind."

Hermione just glared at him and then stalked towards the bedroom. He really was infuriating. If she lasted all week successfully pretending to be in love with him, it was going to be a miracle.


Chapter 3: “The Perfect Gift”
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"We fight all the time, you and I...that's alright. We're the same soul. I don't need to hear you say that if we weren't so alike, you'd like me a whole lot more..." -U2 "Sometimes You Can't Make it On Your Own"



Chapter Three




Oh, damn, Hermione sat up quickly in bed the next morning and groaned. I forgot a wedding present.

Meanwhile, Draco, who was sleeping right next to her rolled over in his sleep. “.... Yes, my biceps are rather impressive....”

Hermione couldn’t help but laugh. Only Draco Malfoy would say something like that in his sleep. She quickly hopped out of bed and looked at the clock on the bedside table which read 10 35. Deciding that she had better get ready, she began to get dressed.

Quietly, she picked out a white tank top and a jean mini and headed to the bathroom so she could get ready. She really felt like a hot shower would be nice at the moment, since Draco had denied her her nightly bath just a dozen hours before when he had made that horrid move on her.

Still, Hermione couldn’t shake the pleasure she had gotten from that second kiss. It was no wonder that Draco was the best in the business and one of the most popular guys in school back at Hogwarts. He really could kiss and now she knew that all the stories that all those pathetic girls at school used to tell were indeed quite true.

At that moment, the door opened and Draco appeared, only in his boxers.

“Excuse me,” Hermione said sharply. “I’m trying to get changed.”

He shrugged. “So? I can change in here as well.”

“I’d like my privacy,” Hermione added impatiently, willing him to leave. Seriously, she thought. Why can’t he give anyone any privacy, especially when he wants everyone else to do what he wants?

“I’d actually rather stay here,” he smirked.

Hermione rolled her eyes and then put one hand on either of his shoulders, so as to push him backwards towards the door. He was strong and bigger than she was, she had to admit, so it was quite hard for her to push him backwards. He looked amused as he raised one eyebrow in doubtful manner. “Get-Out.”

Suddenly, Draco dug his feet into the ground and quickly, before she even realized what he was doing, he had grabbed her hands and pulled her to him. His arms wrapped around her and then his lips were on hers again, kissing her softly, tenderly.

Hermione couldn’t help it. She felt herself melting up against him. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck, and she felt him pull her even more closely. She allowed her hands to run through his hair and she kissed him passionately.

And then, he pulled back and smirked at her. “See. I knew you wanted me to stay.”

She screamed in frustration. “Fine! Stay! I don’t give a damn!”

He smiled. “I’ve got to go get some clothes. I’ll be back.”

When the door shut behind him, Hermione almost thought of locking the door, but she knew it would be easy for him to just pull out his wand and open it like that. Plus, what she was thinking about doing was rather childish. There was no reason for her to do something as immature as that. She was an adult now, and, Draco Malfoy or not, she was going to be mature. Besides, it was true that she had hired him to be her date, and even though she’d been desperate, he had agreed and now they were here. She might as well try to get along with him. She shook her head. There were times though when she just wanted to strangle him as much as she used to and it was still hard to forget all the torture he’d put her through in school.

At that moment, the door opened again and the said torturer entered, smirking, as was his usual expression. Hermione sat down on the ledge of the marble bathtub and looked at him thoughtfully. “So, I have a question.”

“Ask away,” Draco said, turning towards the sink to brush his teeth.

“Have you ever smiled before?”

Draco turned back to her with an amused expression on his face. He continued to stare at her and Hermione felt color flood her cheeks. Had it really been that stupid of a question? According to his expression it had been. “You’re not serious,” he said. It wasn’t a question.

“No, I am,” Hermione said confidently, even though she felt like an idiot. “I mean, I don’t think you’ve ever smiled at me before.”

“What about yesterday? At the wedding party?” Draco asked.

“I guess,” Hermione shrugged, leaning over to turn off the water since the bath was now full. “But that was just for the job. I don’t think you’ve never genuinely smiled at me before.”

“You’ve never deserved one,” he shrugged.

“You jerk,” Hermione threw a bottle of shampoo aimed for his head. Unfortunately, his reflexes were excellent and he caught it expertly.

“Alright, alright,” Draco sighed. “You want a smile?”

Hermione shrugged and then said sarcastically. “Only if you feel like I deserve one. I mean, we do have a different sort of relationship now. Wouldn’t you say?”

And then, without warning, he grinned.

Hermione was so shocked that she almost fell back into the bath tub. It was the first look that she had gotten from him that was so unguarded and she had to admit that it was brilliant. Again, she could definitely believe why he had been dubbed the Slytherin Prince, because his smile was absolutely amazing.

His grin melted into his signature smirk because he knew what his effect on her had been. “Is that good enough for you?”

All she could do was nod. It was at that moment when she realized that she had to get in the bath. “Um... I’ve got to...”

Draco followed her gaze towards the tub. “Don’t worry. I won’t look.”

Hermione looked at him suspiciously. “I don’t trust you.”

He rolled his eyes. “You are so third year right now.”

She raised her eyebrows quizzically. “What the Hell are you talking about right now?”

“Like oh-my-God,” Draco raised his voice to sound like a girl’s. “Don’t look at me.”

“Shut up,” Hermione said, slightly stung at his last comment. “There’s this certain level of intimacy and respect that we don’t have in our particular arrangement.

“I’m sorry I sound immature to you,” she snapped. “But I don’t trust that you won’t look at me.”

“Why don’t you just put a blocking spell up?” Draco asked. “If you’re so worried that I’ll look at you in the bath.”

“I don’t have my wand,” Hermione glared at him. “It’s in my suitcase.”

“You know,” Draco said, as if it were obvious. “All you needed to do is say ‘hey, Draco, do you think you could go get my wand in the other room? It’s in my...’ Get it?”

“Draco?” Hermione sighed, trying to calm herself down. “Could you go get my wand? It’s in the back pocket of my small suitcase.”

He nodded at her. “See. That wasn’t so hard. And yes, Hermione. I would be delighted to go get your wand for you.”

While he was gone, Hermione let the hot water run for a little while longer so the bath would heat up a lot. When he got back, he was fully dressed in a white teeshirt and a pair of blue jeans. His hair wasn’t slicked back with a crazy amount of gel. Instead, his bangs were falling casually across his face, making him even more sexy than he usually was.

Hermione shook herself out of her reverie when she saw the way Draco was looking at her. Again, she had lowered her defenses enough so that he could tell that he was getting to her. She did not want to give him that type of pleasure and control over her. The strange attraction that she had felt towards him this past day would stop here and now. “My wand, please?”

“Why certainly,” Draco handed her the wand and she felt him brush her fingers slightly during the exchange.

With one flick of her wand, Hermione put a blocking spell up which caused her to still be able to see Draco, but enabled him not to be able to see her. If he put one up than neither of them could see the other, but they could still talk and have conversations.

“So,” Draco finally spoke again. “What are we doing today?”

“Shopping,” Hermione said, as she conjured up a Tupperware bucket to help wash her hair. The hot water felt so nice on her body and she shivered despite the extreme temperature.

“Shopping?” Draco asked, disgusted. “Eeuw. Why?”

“Because...” Hermione trailed off because she knew that he would probably have something smart to say about why she hadn’t yet bought a wedding gift for the bride and groom.

“Because what?” Draco asked curiously, conjuring up a copy of the Daily Prophet to read.

“Because I forgot to buy a wedding gift for Ginny and Harry,” Hermione said quietly.

Just as she’d suspected, Draco did burst out laughing. “Ha. You forgot to buy them a wedding gift. That’s really important.”

Hermione smirked, even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “I figured that out already.”

He gave her an amused look. “Just giving you a friendly reminder.”

“Thanks, Draco,” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Thanks a lot.”

~*~*~

A little while later, after the two had dressed and then eaten downstairs in the really expensive restaurant, they headed out onto the streets of Paris to try and find a shop where Hermione could buy the almost newlyweds a wonderful wedding gift. She wanted it to be perfect, something that they would cherish forever.

As the two were walking down the Champs-Elysee, Hermione sighed.

“What’s wrong?” Draco asked, actually looking slighly concerned.

“I have no idea what to get for them,” Hermione shook her head hopelessly. “I’ve just had so much stuff going on. And then Ron broke up with me a couple weeks back, and, I don’t know.....”

Suddenly, Draco stopped and pulled her into his arms. Hermione felt too bad to protest and she was glad she had someone to lean on, even if it was her old enemy. She felt one of his hands go up to rest on her head and he started to slowly run his fingers through her hair. “Hermione, it’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Hermione pulled back a minute or two later and smiled up at him. “Thanks, Draco. That’s exactly what I needed.”

He shrugged. “It’s part of my job,” he did some weird interpretive dance thing with his hands. “You know, feel what the client feels and then do whatever’s in your power to comfort them.”

“You are the best in the business,” Hermione smiled wryly.

They walked for about twenty minutes down that street, though Hermione could not find anything that she thought would suit Harry and Ginny perfectly.

“Are we almost done?” Draco whined, sounding like a little boy.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Tell me you did not just whine.”

“So what if I did?” Draco raised one quizzical eyebrow.

“It’s annoying,” Hermione frowned at him. “And no. We are not done.”

“It would maybe help if you knew what you were looking for,” Draco shrugged and when he received an annoyed look from Hermione, he continued. “You know, narrow the choices down a bit.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Hermione snapped and then sat down on a wrought iron bench on the side of a bridge. Draco sat down next to her, a safe distance away. “I don’t know, Draco. Something useful that they could use forever.”

Draco watched the cars passing by and Hermione watched him. He did seem to look as if he was trying to help her sort out her problem. All of a sudden, he sat up straighter and grabbed Hermione’s hand. “I have the perfect idea!”

He pulled her up and she looked at him, curious about why he was suddenly so happy. “Where are we going?”

Draco didn’t say anything, but instead heralded over a taxi. The car pulled over for them and the two hopped in. “Can you please take us to Boulevard Rouge?”

“Oui, Monsieur,” the taxi driver said.

“Where are we going, Draco?” Hermione asked, wondering why he was being so secretive.

He actually grinned at her and Hermione couldn’t help but grin back. Some people were so magnetic that when they smiled, you couldn’t help but smile right back. Draco was definitely one of those people.

Finally, the taxi pulled over on the side of a street that said Boulevard Rouge. Draco handed the driver some cash and then escorted Hermione out onto the sidewalk. “Okay,” he said, wrapping his fingers tightly around hers. “You’re really going to like this store.”

He lead her into a little store called Le Marche Mignon. Surprisingly, he was right. It was filled with little trinkets and shelves of just random things. It reminded Hermione of a garage sale, except that, as she looked around, she realized that all the stuff she was looking at, was Muggle stuff.

“Draco,” Hermione pulled on his sleeve and he looked down at her. “This is a Muggle shop.”

He nodded. “I know. Follow me.”

Again, not having any idea of where he was taking her, Hermione followed Draco through the back of the shop and through a door. Inside the room was filled with shelves and shelves of books. Hermione was still curious about where the Hell they were, but she decided not to say anything because she figured that Draco knew where he was going.

A moment later, they appeared onto the sidewalk of a whole other section of town. Hermione was reminded of Diagon Alley, the wizarding community that was hidden behind London. She wondered if this was the equivalent in Paris. “Where are we?” Hermione asked in wonder.

“Welcome to Ruelle Arbre Rouge,” Draco grinned at her. “The equivalent of Diagon Alley in London.”

Hermione grinned at him. It seemed that since she had had that conversation with him not smiling this morning in the bathroom, he had actually been much more willing to smile for her. Another part of her nodded to the fact that since they were in public he couldn’t be his usual conceited self if he was going to pull off their charade, but Hermione chose to ignore that part. For now, she was happy to be in this magical part of the City of Lights.

“So, where are we going?” Hermione asked. “Is there a specific store that you were planning on taking me?”

“Yes, actually,” Draco offered her his arm and, deciding to play along, she took it. “We’re going to a little wizarding gift shop called Le Cadeaux Parfait.”

“It’s called the perfect gift?” Hermione asked, raising a quizzical eyebrow. The name made it sound lofty, as if the store already knew that it was the best. Then again, she reminded herself. It is Draco Malfoy taking me to this shop.

When she arrived, she was nicely surprised to find that it actually wasn’t the largest store on the block. Instead, it looked just like a little French boutique should. It was white on the outside, with matching white wicker benches for guests to try out and then maybe buy if they suited them. Hermione followed Draco inside and looked around at the shelves which held the strangest little knick knacks she had ever seen.

In one area of the store, there was a room full of books, on another set of shelves, there were little glass gifts. In a whole other section there was little fountains and magical gardening supplies. As Hermione looked around, she realized that the store was much bigger inside than it looked on the outside. Ah, she smiled to herself, as she brushed the feathery softness of some silk bed sheets. The joys of magic.

“What do you think?” Draco asked.

“It’s amazing,” Hermione smiled, still in awe. “How’d you find this place?”

“I’d been to Paris several times as a child,” Draco explained, leading her through the bedding section. “Of course my father always knew where to go.”

Hermione nodded and said playfully, “Of course.”

Draco laughed at her tone and Hermione felt a warm feeling go through her. It was nice to be getting along, at least for the moment, with Draco Malfoy.

After spending an hour looking through the store, Hermione was starting to get hopeless. Although the sheer amount of things that the store had, she still had no idea what to get for Harry and Ginny that would be meaningful.

And then, as if it was a sign from Merlin, she remembered the clock at the Weasley house. Whenever she had gone to visit, she had always loved the clock and how it had always been useful to knowing where everyone was. She knew that Ginny would probably be reminded of home when she saw her very own clock, and Harry, who had never seen a wizarding clock before going to the Weasleys, would love it as well.

“I know what I want to get them,” Hermione said to Draco as he was looking at nice new leather change purses.

“Oh yeah?” Draco asked. “What?”

“A clock,” Hermione explained excitedly. “Like the one the Weasleys have at their house.”

Biting back a rude comment about what the Weasley house must look like, Draco forced a smile. “That’s an excellent idea. Come upstairs and you can pick one out.”

Hermione followed Draco upstairs where a whole other layer of gifts lived. He lead her to the back corner where there was a room full of clocks of all sizes. There were some smaller clocks that sat on shelves and then big grandfather size clocks that each was unique. The one that Hermione finally settled on was a big, standing clock with fancy hands to represent each family member. In a little velvet bag there were extra hands for future family members.

“I found it,” Hermione said, almost skipping towards it.

“This one?” Draco asked. “It’s definitely nice, but look at the price tag.”

Hermione did and her spirits fell. It was almost 2500 galleons and there was no way she had that much money to spend on a gift. “Never mind,” she said dejectedly. “Let’s go find something else.”

Suddenly, she felt a hand wrap around her wrist and pull her back so she was practically in Draco Malfoy’s arms again. “Oh, no you don’t,” he shook his head. “We’ve spent too long to look all over again.”

“I don’t have enough money, Draco,” Hermione pulled back. “Come on. Let’s go.”

“How much money do you have?” Draco asked.

“I have 1500 to spend on a gift,” Hermione replied. “Why? You’re not thinking of...”

“I’ll cover the rest,” he smiled.

“... Paying for it...” Hermione looked back up at him, shocked. “You don’t have to.”

“Sure I do,” Draco smiled. “This is their perfect gift, right?”

“I guess, but, I mean...”

“Hermione, shut up and let me prove to you that not everything I do is 95% selfish,” Draco said seriously.

“Are you sure?” Hermione asked meekly. “I could just get them that set of china downstairs that I saw.”

“No, don’t, Hermione,” Draco shook his head. “You want to get them this and Merlin be damned, but I’m helping you get them this.

“Besides, we’re supposed to be a couple,” Draco continued. “Even if we’re just a made-up couple. We still split the cost of things.”

Hermione almost felt herself go teary. So Draco Malfoy was actually generous when he wanted to be. She liked this side of him and at the moment, she never wanted to fight with him again. She reached up and hugged him. He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Thank you,” she said in a choked whisper.

“You are so welcome,” Draco replied. He pulled back a moment later and smiled at her, brushing back a stray lock of hair. “Let’s go pay for this clock now.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

A/N: I hope you're liking it so far. If you know the The Wedding Date then you'll know there is no scene like this at all in the movie and that the concept of the wedding gift is totally, completely null. But since I'm not copying it word for word, I'm going to put in these little scenes. Plus, it's interesting to see contrast in Draco's character and their relationship.
Look for chapter four coming up as soon as I get it out on paper :)


Chapter 4: "Double Meaning"
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"If I'm not in love with you, what is this I'm going through?" -Faith Hill "If I'm Not in Love"





“Hey!” Ginny said happily as Draco and Hermione appeared in the park.  “You made it!”
   
“Of course we made it,” Hermione let go of Draco’s hand in order to hug Ginny.  “We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
   
“Hermione,” Harry came over and gave his old friend a hug while coolly nodding at Draco.  Hermione turned to see Draco’s reaction and saw that he was a very good actor.  He didn’t let his friendly grin slip which Hermione guessed probably surprised Harry a lot.  “How are you doing?”
   
“I’m really good,” Hermione smiled.  “Draco and I just went on a little jaunt around town.  It was fun.”
   
She and Draco exchanged a quick glance full of relief that neither of the newlyweds suspected anything about what Hermione and Draco had really been doing around town.  Instead, the two of them just smiled and then Draco asked.  “So what are we doing now?”
   
“We’re playing a game of quidditch,” Ginny said excitedly.  “We want everyone to play so we can have equal teams.”
   
Hermione looked doubtful.  “I’m not sure.  I don’t really know how to play and you should know that I’ve never really been on a broom before.”
   
Ginny, Harry, and Draco looked at her thoughtfully.  All of a sudden, a familiar and unwelcome voice appeared from behind them.  “Come on, Hermione,” Ron mocked her.  “Stop being such a baby.”
   
Hermione was about to say something when Draco cut her off first, pulling her into his arms and kissing the top of her head.  She craned her head to look up and see he was glaring at her ex-boyfriend.  “Stay out of it, Weasley.  If she doesn’t want to play she doesn’t have to.”
   
Hermione was grateful for Draco’s protection, but she knew she wouldn’t shut Ron up unless she showed him up.  “No.”
   
“Hermione?” Draco turned her around in his arms.
   
“I want to play,” Hermione said firmly, hoping that her voice wasn’t shaking in the process.  She looked up at Ron resolutely and glared at him and then back at Draco with a pleading look in her eye for his support.  “I want to beat Ron.”
   
Draco kneeled down and looked up at her as if he was talking to a child.  “Are you sure?”
   
She bit her lip and nodded.  “Will you help me?”
   
He smiled and pulled her into his arms.  “Of course I’ll help you.”
   
Draco smirked in Ron’s direction and then leaned down and kissed Hermione softly on the lips again and again until she giggling up against him.  Meanwhile, he made sure not to miss Ron’s look of loathing and jealousy.
   
“Alrighty,” Harry clapped his hands together.  “Are we ready to play?”
   
Everyone else there gathered around the groom-to-be.  Hermione looked around the crowd and spotted the rest of the Weasley siblings (all except for Percy who still wasn’t talking to the family), Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Neville Longbottom, Oliver Wood and his fiance, an ex-Hogwarts student, Kiana Harris.  “Yeah,” George Weasley called out.  “Let’s play.”
   
“First we need to split up into teams,” Ginny directed.  “Why not let’s let Harry and..... Draco be the captains?”
   
A collected, surprised murmer went around the crowd at Ginny’s suggestion of letting Draco be the other captain.  Hermione looked up to see how Draco might be taking this obvious surprise.  His face revealed nothing and he simply looked down and smiled at her, kissing her softly on the forehead and receiving another look of loathing from Ron.
   
“Hush, everyone,” Ginny silenced everyone and then turned to Harry and Draco.  “You two go stand over there and start picking.”
   
Because it was Harry’s wedding, he chose first.  “Ron.”
   
Hermione rolled her eyes.  That certainly was no surprise considering that they were best friends.  Draco probably wouldn’t have ended up picking Ron anyways and he would’ve been left to Harry at the end.  She shrugged.  It had all worked out.
   
“Hermione,” Draco grinned at her and she couldn’t help grinning back, even though it was just for show.
   
“Ginny,” Harry called his fiance. 
   
“Oliver.”
   
“Fred.”
   
“Kiana.”
   
“Charlie.”
   
“Dean.”
   
“Bill.”
   
“Seamus.”
   
“George.”
   
Draco glared at Neville who was last to be picked but called him over anyways since he really didn’t have a choice.  “Come on Longbottom.”
   
After the teams were chosen, they seperated, gathering around their captains to hear instructions and playing positions.  “Okay,” Draco explained.  “I’m playing seeker, Oliver can play keeper, Seamus and Longbottom can play beaters, and then Kiana, Dean, and Hermione can play chasers.  How does that sound?”
   
They all murmered in agreement. 
   
He then turned to Hermione and tucked a loose piece of hair behind her hear.  “Are you ready?”
   
“I-I think so,” Hermione said nervously, biting her lip.
   
He put his hands on her shoulders.  “Are you sure?  You don’t have to do this.”
   
She shivered in anticipation and he pulled her into his arms.  “Yes.  I do.  I have to show up Ron.”
   
He patted her on the back.  “That’s the spirit.”
   
And with that, the huddle broke and with their wands, conjured up some brooms.  They were right outside Ruelle Arbre Rouge in a wizarding park where games of quidditch were common place because of all the pitchs they had set up already.  As Hermione looked down the line of manicured pitchs for rent, she already could see another group of people coming to play a game.
   
Harry’s huddle broke and he looked for Draco.  “You ready to play?”
   
Draco nodded.  “Ready when you are.”
   
The teams with their conjured brooms made their way out to the middle of the pitch with Mr. Weasley in the lead.  He had promised to be the referree and while he smiled at Harry, Draco received a colder look.  He didn’t let it bother him though because he had other things to worry about, like playing the game and keeping a watch out for Hermione.
   
“Captains,” Mr. Weasley said loudly.  “Shake hands.”
   
Draco and Harry exchanged small smiles and then shook hands more pleasantly than they ever had at Hogwarts.  The tension between them was not the tension of old enemies but seemingly more of friends simply playing a casual game of sport.
   
“Players,” Mr. Weasley announced once Draco and Harry had stepped back.  “Mount your brooms.  Three- two-”
   
Hermione mounted her broom and took a deep breath.  She had never been too good at flying.   Back in her first year she had realized that flying was not something that one could learn in a book.  In order to be good at it, flying had to be in your blood.  She knew that Harry’s team had the advantage because it was constituted mainly of Weasleys.  She would fight though, because even though she wasn’t that good at it, she wanted to see the look on Ron’s face when she scored a goal on him.
   
“One!”
   
With a swoosh of air, fourteen fliers kicked up into the air.
   
It was a marvelous feeling, flying.  Hermione didn’t do it much herself but she had to admit that it felt amazing.  Maybe she could convince Draco to teach her how to fly better.
   
Unfortunately, she didn’t have much time to think about how great flying felt for movement was going on all around her.  She looked up to see both Draco and Harry circling the pitch like vultures, keeping a careful eye out for the snitch as if the flying ball was the prey and they, the predators.  Flying along with Dean and Kiana, Hermione saw Oliver carefully watching the action that was taking place mostly down at Ron’s end.
   
Kiana had the quaffle and was speeding towards Ron’s hoops.  Charlie who was playing chaser for Harry’s team was on her tail and Hermione knew that Kiana needed a distraction.  All of a sudden, as if it was a gift from Merlin, Seamus sent a bludger flying down right at Charlie, causing him to have to turn up quickly to avoid the violent ball.
   
Kiana threw the quaffle into the hoop and the score dinged ten for Draco’s team, zero for Harry’s.  As she flew by Hermione, the two girls exchanged high fives and then flew in opposite directions.
   
About an hour later, the game was tight, with Draco’s team in the lead by only ten points.  Hermione had not scored a goal the whole game, leaving the thrill of the chase and conquer up to Kiana and Dean who were much better than she was.  The snitch also had been hard to find.  Hermione knew that if it hadn’t been, both Harry and Draco would’ve been on it right away, following its every move, since they were both excellent seekers.
   
All of a sudden, Hermione saw the quaffle flying at her.
   
“Hermione!” Kiana yelled.  “Take it and go down the field.”
   
Without thinking too hard, Hermione did as she was told and zipped down the pitch, surprising herself in how well she could avoid random bludgers and players from the opposing team trying to distract her.
   
She finally made it to the goalposts where Ron was flying back and forth.  “You’re actually going to try and score?” Ron snorted.
   
Hermione glared at him.  “Just because you’re jealous doesn’t mean you have to take everything out on me.”
   
“I’m not jealous,” Ron scoffed disbelievingly.  “Why in bloody hell would I be jealous of Malfoy?  You were probably so desperate that you begged him.  I know you’re faking it, Hermione, because I know first hand what you look like when you’re actually in love.”
   
“Bugger off, Ronald,” Hermione said harshly and then batted the quaffle towards the goalpost.
   
In that moment, a whizzing sound distracted her and she looked up to see a bludger flying directly at her.  She didn’t have time to duck or fly away since it was too close.  Nervously, she held her breath as the bludger collided with the broom handle so hard that it broke in two.
   
And then she was falling and Hermione said a final prayer because she knew it would be her last.
   
   
~*~*~

Meanwhile, halfway across the field, Draco and Harry had just seen the snitch and they were racing towards it.  “You know, Malfoy,” Harry said.  “I could just give it to you.  Just to be nice.”
   
Draco raised a quizzical eyebrow.  “Don’t try and be a gentleman, Potter.  I have no intention of doing that myself.   In fact, it would only be too easy to knock you off your broom right now.”
   
“Ha,” Harry shook his head.  “You can try, but I doubt you’ll succeed.”
   
All of a sudden, Draco heard a scream that shook him to his very core, breaking his concentration.  It broke Harry’s as well and the snitch disappeared.  “DRACO!”
   
Draco wheeled his broom around 180 degrees to see Hermione falling through the air, her broken broom plummeting to the ground.  Draco had no idea what had happened because he had been too busy trying to find the snitch, but when he saw Hermione falling to the earth, he felt his breath catch in his throat.
   
Without thinking, he pulled out his wand which he luckily had kept on his person and muttered a quick spell.  A blast of light later and Hermione was floating softly to the ground.  Not caring about the game anymore, Draco urged his broom as fast as it could carry him, to the ground to see how Hermione was doing.
   
As he got closer, he saw her lying on the ground in the fetal position, crying.  He felt his feet touch the ground and he immediately jumped off, the broom dropping from midair.  Draco didn’t turn around to pick it up, for his first and only concern was of Hermione’s wellbeing.  He didn’t even pause to think how strange that sounded, even to him.  All he could do was go to her.
   
“Hermione.”
   
Hermione looked up with tears in her eyes as everyone else touched the ground and slowly approached them.  “Draco- I-”
   
She didn’t finish, because by that time, he had reached her and was kneeling down next to her, pulling her into his arms without a second thought.  She didn’t think that this was her enemy and that they were only supposed to be pretending.  Right now, he was a real body to hold onto after that frightful event that had just occured.  Ignoring the fact that it was Draco Malfoy, Hermione broke down and sobbed into his shirt.
   
“Hermione, sweetie,” Draco said softly, rubbing her back and running his fingers through her hair.  “Are you okay?”
   
“No,” Hermione’s reply was muffled against his chest.  “I tried to score and then this bludger came.  I couldn’t stop it.”
   
Fred Weasley came up beside them and Draco looked at him warily.  “Hermione, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.”
   
Hermione looked up briefly and gave him a teary smile. “It’s okay, Fred.  I forgive you.”
   
“But Hermione,” Draco asked softly, sighing as she moved closer in his arms.  “Why didn’t you move?  You probably had ample time to do so.”
   
Hermione pulled back slightly and then glared at Ron over Draco’s shoulder.  Harry’s keeper had just recently touched the ground and gathered around to see what all the fuss was about.  “Ron was harrassing me.  He said I couldn’t play quidditch and I couldn’t score a goal.”
   
She left out the part about Ron hinting at her hiring Draco to be her date.  Up in the air, before the bludger incident, that had hurt Hermione the most.  It suddenly seemed as if Ron had caught on to their charade and that was what had distracted her enough to not see the bludger coming.
   
In the hotel room later that night, she would tell Draco and they could make further plans.  Now, in front of all her friends, was not the time, especially if the charade was going to end up working.
   
Ginny ran up to Hermione then, distracting her briefly from her repeat of the bludger moment up in the air.  “Hermione.  Are you okay?”
   
Hermione took a shaky breath and nodded as Draco comfortingly rubbed her back.  She backed up then until she was pressed up against Draco’s hard frame and felt his arms settle around her possessively.  “Yeah.  Thanks, Ginny.”
   
“Hermione,” Kiana came up to her.  “You played really well for a first timer.”
   
Hermione smiled at the praise.  “Thanks.”
   
Ginny interrupted them again.  “Hey.  Why don’t we take a break from quidditch?  Do you want to help me start the lemonade?”
   
Hermione turned to Draco and he shrugged.  “Suit yourself, darling.”
   
She walked out of Draco’s arms and kissed him next to his lips lightly before she followed Ginny and Kiana off to go start the lemonade.
   
Draco watched Hermione go and took a deep breath.  Although he would hardly admit it to himself, watching her fall at least two hundred feet to the ground had nearly killed him.  He knew deep down now that he would do anything to protect her now, including making sure that Ron didn’t come anywhere close to her.  He’d already seen enough of the results to know that any future encounters between them would not go well.
   
At that moment, Ron passed by him with a glare.
   
“Weasley,” Draco said threateningly.
   
Ron turned around slowly.  “What do you want, Malfoy?”
   
“Stay away from Hermione,” Draco growled.  “She’s mine and whatever you said to harrass her up there is unacceptable.  If I see anything like that, I swear I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”
   
“You wouldn’t dare,” Ron hissed back.
   
“Try me,” Draco warned.  “And you’ll be sorry.”
   
Ron just sneered at him and walked away.  Draco took a deep breath and watched from afar as Hermione, Kiana, and Ginny laughed at something Fred and George had said as they prepared lemonade.  Draco smiled at seeing Hermione loosen up.
   
It was amazing how much by pretending to be in love with her, he was actually starting to be.  Suddenly, he realized what he had just said to Ron about messing with her, how he’d dropped everything to make sure Hermione was alright, and how he’d told himself he’d do anything to protect her.  No, he thought.  It’s not true. 
   
He had never allowed his feelings to get in the way of his job before so he wouldn’t let it start now over some insignificant little Mudblood.
     
I am not falling in love with her
, he told himself, but deep down, another little voice cried out:
   
Yes, Draco.  You are...


Chapter 5: "New Evidence to the Contrary"
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A/N:  Sorry that that update took so long.  This story has been sitting in the vault for such a long time, but as I looked through my work over the last couple days, I did some re-evaluating and streamlining.  I am impressed and pleased at how much attention this story's first four chapters has gotten even without being recently updated.  And so, I have made a decision to give this story a little bit more attention to see where it will lead me.  I am not sure how long it will end up being.  As you can see, I am deviating from the Wedding Date plot a bit, because I want to make this my own.  But I thank you for all your reviews.  Please keep them coming and tell your friends.
Happy Reading!
~Ivy
P.S.  So which of my lovely readers would like to make me a banner for this story (I'd like to update it and claireabella is not responding) and for my new Christmas story which I promise you will love as it develops.  It's called This Gift: A Christmas Story.   Thank you!

"Looking at you, holding my breath, for once in my life I'm scared to death, I'm taking a chance letting you inside..." -Lifehouse "First Time"




Chapter Five











Ron paced the room quickly.  There was something funny about Hermione just showing up for Harry and Ginny’s wedding with Draco Malfoy, their sworn school enemy.  The funny thing though was that when he tried bringing it up with anyone, they refused to listen to him, writing off his doubts as if he was a little insecure child.   He shook his head.  He would prove them wrong and then Hermione would be publicly humiliated.
   
At that moment, Harry walked into the room.  “What’s up Ron?”
   
“So remember how I was saying that I think that she and Malfoy together are a fake?”
   
Harry rolled his eyes.  “You broke up with her.  Remember?”
   
“So what if I want to get back together with her?” Ron asked. 
   
“That’s not your choice to make Ron,” Harry said, sitting down in the armchair opposite from his momentarily deranged best friend.  “Besides.  She seems happy for the first time since the break up.  Give her a little space.  Maybe we were wrong about Malfoy.”
   
Ron gave him a disbelieving look.  “Maybe we were wrong about Malfoy?  Maybe we were wrong about Malfoy?!”
   
Harry stood up.  “What are you?  A parrot? That’s what I said!  You know, you’re kind of being a jerk right now, Ron!”
   
“I’m being a jerk?” Ron asked.  “I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you!  You’re my best friend and you’re not going to support me?”
   
“Hermione’s my other best friend and I was devastated- Devastated when you broke her heart right before my wedding!  What did you expect her to do?  Come alone?”
   
“No,” Ron faltered.  “I don’t know.  But I certainly didn’t expect her to come with Malfoy.  Seriously Harry.  How unrealistic is that?  Even if she doesn’t hate him anymore due to her ‘look at everyone in a new way’ philosophy, I don’t think Malfoy could suddenly like her.”   
   
Harry sighed.  “It is weird, Ron, but after what happened just a couple weeks ago, like I said before, I’m happy for her.  They look happy together and Malfoy is right there for her all the time.”
  
Ron just glared at Harry. “I still think something’s up and I intend to find out.”
   
Harry stood up and headed for the door.  “Well whatever you do, don’t hurt her again.  I don’t think I could forgive you.”
   
Ron stood, seething as Harry left.  How could his best friend turn on him and then suddenly decide to side with his ex girlfriend?  He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but how could they all be so blind to what was obviously a charade? 
   
Leaving the room, Ron was determined to get to the truth.

   
******











Meanwhile, across town, the couple in question was in their hotel suite, fighting, as per usual.  It was over something relatively stupid, but if Harry and the rest of the wedding party could’ve seen Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger at that moment, Ron would be proven some kind of hero. 
   
“I can’t believe that Ginny’s having a Muggle themed bachelorette party,” Draco snorted, laughing his head off.  “I’m guessing she did that for you?  Correct?”
   
Hermione rolled her eyes, struggling to keep her temper in check, even though with every passing second, she was getting more and more fed up with Draco’s cheap shots at her friends’ expense.
   
“As a matter of fact, Draco Malfoy, Muggles are actually geniuses about inventing clothing,” Hermione said smugly as she looked through her closet to find the little black Prada dress that she’d brought for the occasion. 
   
Though Hermione didn’t have enough money to afford anything from Prada, let alone a new black dress that cost almost $1600, it had been a gift from her very wealthy grandmother who lived in America.  Through many business and personal acquaintances, she had come to know the owner of Prada quite well, and got almost anything she wanted.
   
“In fact, all of the clothing that you High Society wizards wear are based off of Muggle designers like Prada, Christian Dior and Michael Kors,” she said smugly.  “As for jeans… Those were invented by Muggles as well.”
   
Draco just glared at her.  “So what?  Wizards made all the clothes I get.  Not Muggles.”
   
Hermione just went about getting undressed and changing.
   
“Getting a little too comfortable there, aren’t you?” Draco asked from behind her.
   
Hermione shrugged.  “Well, you’ll have to get used to it.  I have to watch you change.”
   
“And that’s a hardship, I’m sure,” Draco said sarcastically from behind her.  “I am incredibly well built.  I don’t know why you’d complain.  Most women of your- status- don’t get to see me undressed or rather- at all.”
   
Hermione turned around, struggling to button up the back of her dress.  “One day, Draco Malfoy, your cockiness is going to come and kick you in the butt.”
   
“It’s not cockiness, its merely elevated confidence,” Draco retorted and then, seeing Hermione struggling slightly, said.  “Do you need help with that?
   
Hermione sighed.  “Yeah.  I do.”
   
Draco crossed the room and went behind her; his long, masculine fingers nimbly finishing what Hermione’s more feminine hands could not.  He patted her on the back.  “There you go.”
   
“Okay,” Hermione crossed the room to the closet.  “Now I just need the shoes.”
   
Putting the tall, matching stilettos on her feet, Hermione walked to the bathroom and put her hair in a loose ponytail so that wavy tendrils could delicately fall and frame her face.  Turning around, she took a deep breath and looked at Draco nervously.  “How do I look?”
   
Draco, who had been rooting through his suitcase for something to wear to Harry’s bachelor party, turned around at Hermione’s request and gaped unknowingly when he saw her.
   
The dress held her curves in a tight but delicate manner, framing everything but not cutting off her airflow.  The girlish ruffles around the bust served only to aid the light, delicate feeling of the outfit rather than make her look ostentatious.  Her high heels gracefully lengthened her already long and beautiful legs.  And finally, the loose ponytail was the perfect touch to her beautifully made up face.  In a word, she was a vision.
   
Hermione smiled.  “So… Is that speechless in a good or bad way?”
   
Draco smiled and shook his head.  “Why do you have to shock me all the time, Hermione Granger?”
   
“What are you saying?” Hermione asked.
   
Draco walked toward her slowly, building tension.  As he stopped in front of her, he ran a finger languidly down her cheek.  Hermione was sure he was going to kiss her, but he didn’t.  He ran his hand over her hair and looked into her eyes.  “You’re beautiful, Hermione.  Don’t ever doubt it.”
   
Breaking the moment by looking at his watch, Draco looked down at her.  “Come on.  You’re going to be late.”
   
As they sat in the hired car, Hermione nervously kept glancing at her date.  Why did he shock her all the time was the better question.  One moment he was yelling and teasing her and the next he was calling and looking at her as if she was the most beautiful thing in the entire world.
   
No one had looked at her that way since Ron.
   
With the image of Ron suddenly appearing in her head, another disturbing thought crossed her mind. 
   
Ron knew.
   
“What’s the matter?” Draco asked, sensing her tension.  Being that he was right next to her in such an enclosed space, he couldn’t help but notice the tension that now emanated around the entire backseat.
   
“Draco,” Hermione whispered. “I think he knows.”
   
“You think who knows what?” Draco asked, clearly confused.  This was definitely random, though it probably, whatever it was, wasn’t for her.  He had always been told, time and time again, that nothing was ever random for the person who was thinking it. 
   
“Don’t be an idiot,” Hermione snapped.  “Ron knows that we’re a fake.”
   
Ignoring the “idiot” comment, Draco turned to her.  “Why do you think that?”
   
“Just the way the way he always looks at me and tries to pry the truth out of me,” Hermione said, wringing her hands.  “I would feel like a fool if everyone knew I had hired you.”
   
The car pulled up to a stop in front of the bar where the bachelorette party would be taking place.  Draco got out and then walked around the other side of the car and opened the door where Hermione was still sitting, looking numb.
   
Proffering his hand, Hermione took it and he pulled her out.  Leaning her against the car, Draco looked her in the eye with such an intense look that, had Hermione had any doubt how powerful he really was, she had none anymore.
   
“Listen, Hermione,” Draco said.  “I am the best in the business for a very good reason.
   
“Anyone will listen to me and believe what I have to tell them.  But here’s the deal.  I can’t do it alone.  You have to help me.  You have to have the confidence to ignore Ron.  All he’s looking for is attention.
   
“He’s jealous that you managed to come with someone else so fast and he’s trying to prove you wrong.  Don’t let him do it.  Make him think that you actually are madly in love with me.  And I’ll make him think the same thing.
   
“For this weekend we are lovers, together forever.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.”
   
And then he held her there, up against the car, taking in her scent and trying to ignore how good she looked and how delicious she smelled.  Hermione simply gazed into his eyes until he broke the connection. 
   
“You should go in.”
   
Hermione shook her head in wonder.  “Wow.  You are good.”
   
Draco just smiled smugly.  “That’s why I’m the best.”
   
Hermione just rolled her eyes.  “Shut up.”
   
Making her way into the bar, all the girls immediately took on her, calling her dress gorgeous, amazing, and absolutely stunning.  Ginny even hinted that Draco probably had fallen all over himself when he’d seen her like that.  Hermione didn’t even have to say that something like that had in fact, happened.
   
At that moment, Draco bent under the small doorway clutching a black Gucci purse.  “Hermione.”
   
Hermione turned, along with every other woman in the vicinity to see handsome and personable Draco Malfoy holding out her purse. 
   
“You forgot this,” he explained. 
   
Hermione blushed and then leaned in to kiss him.
   
“We may as well do this properly,” Draco whispered.  It was barely audible against her lips.  
   
And so he leaned into kiss her and as their lips met, Hermione had the same rush of pleasure that she had gotten the last time she had kissed him.  He kissed her softly and then got more demanding as she opened her mouth against an onslaught of softness and delicious pleasure.  All around her, Hermione could barely hear the cheers of the girls as they basically made out in front of them.  All she was aware of was the magic of the moment that had begun, not when Draco had just kissed her but when she’d watched him watch her as she put on her dress for this event for the first time that day, when he’d called her beautiful.
   
Finally, he pulled back and kissed her on the forehead.  “I’ve got to run, Darling, but I’ll see you later.”
   
Hermione nodded, her head still spinning from the strength and tenderness in that kiss.  Was that what it was like falling, or should she say, pretending, to fall for the enemy? 
   
“Wait,” Ginny called.  “You could stay.”
   
Draco gave her a charming smile.  “It’s okay.  I’ve got to go play with the boys now.”
   
Hermione tucked a stray lock of hair back on his head.  “Play nicely, Draco.”
   
He winked at her and then left the room. 
   
Ginny turned to her and squealed loudly in her ear.  “He’s so cute!”
   
“I can’t believe you would ever say that about Draco Malfoy,” Hermione shook her head as she ordered a Cosmopolitan from behind the bar. 
   
“You’re the one who’s dating him,” Ginny said, ordering another shot of schnapps. 
   
“So, Hermione,” her friend, Lila came up from behind her.  "I am so jealous that you get to shag this guy, no matter if he was your school enemy.  Somehow, I don't believe it.  But you should send Merlin a bottle of firewhiskey or a pumpkin pie.  You know, just for good measure."
   
Hermione’s mouth dropped open in shock.  She had no idea it would’ve been this easy to fool all these girls.  Especially Ginny who was her best friend.  So as she denied any claims of having been in bed with him, she quietly wondered what it was like at the bachelor party.

   
********











Ron and Harry sat at the bar in the mansion where Harry’s bachelor party was being held.  At that moment, an unmistakable presence entered the room.  Every male head at the party turned in Draco Malfoy’s direction.  He took it easily and clearly was accustomed to people staring at him, whether in admiration or anything else…
   
“How can you say that Hermione would actually be dating a guy like that?” Ron asked Harry again.  It was in fact, the fifth or sixth time since Harry had told Ron that Draco was indeed going to be at the bachelor party.  When Ron had said it would be weird because Draco really shouldn’t be there (at the wedding) at all, Harry had retorted by saying that even though it was odd, Ron should be accustomed to it by now and that it would be rude not to invite him.  Plus, Harry, unlike Ron, was intrigued about this new Draco Malfoy who seemingly had Hermione in complete and utter happiness.
 
"There's just something I don't like about him," Ron mused.

Harry took a drink from his glass and laughed.  "He's less than ninety percent body fat and he's shagging your ex-girlfriend."

“No, Harry.  It's definitely not that.  Look at the way he walks,” Ron snapped, trying to get Harry’s attention back to the present.  “Walking around like he owns the place.  Just like a Malfoy."
   
At that moment, Draco walked over to the two of them.  “Good evening, Harry.  Ron.”
   
“How’s it going, Draco?” Harry asked.
   
“It’s great,” Draco smiled sincerely.  “Who would’ve thought?”
   
“For sure,” Harry replied.  “But we’re happy to have you.  It’s so nice to see Hermione so happy.  How’s she doing anyway?”
   
Draco shrugged.  “She’s great.  Having girl time and all.”
   
Draco looked over at Ron who looked absolutely livid.  “What’s the matter, Ron?”
   
“You’re what’s the matter, Malfoy,” Ron snarled.  “You may have everyone else fooled but I know you’re up to something.”
   
Harry rolled his eyes and put a hand on Draco’s shoulder.  “Don’t worry about it, Draco.  He just had some bad food.”
   
Draco turned with Harry in the direction to walk away from the nonsense going on around him.  They were headed in the direction of Oliver and Fred and George when Ron grabbed Draco, spun him around, and clocked him right in the nose.
   
As expected, Draco’s nose immediately started to bleed.
   
“Cheap shot, Ron,” Draco said, standing with his arms crossed as blood dribbled down his face and onto his new suit. 
   
“What the Hell was that for, Ron?” Harry shouted.
   
By now, everyone had turned to see what was going on. 
   
“He’s a traitor,” Ron yelled, clutching his red fist.  “He’s not really in love with Hermione.  They’re planning something!”
   
“Ron,” Harry pushed him back.  “Get out of here!”
   
“Why are you making me leave?” Ron, who was now clearly under the influence of far too much alcohol, began slurring his words.  “Make him leave.”
   
“Draco didn’t do anything, little brother!” Fred called back.  “Come on George.  Let’s take Ron and put him to bed.”
   
Ron fought out of his brothers’ grasp but they pinned him down.
   
“We’ll be back,” Fred mouthed as they dragged their younger brother out of the room.
   
Once they had gone, Harry turned back to Draco and handed him a napkin.  “Are you okay, Draco?”
   
“Yeah,” Draco pulled out his wand, pointed it at his nose and healed it instantly.  “What’s with him?”
   
Harry shook his head in a hopeless manner.  “I don’t know.  Just ignore him.”
   
But Draco couldn’t ignore him.  He now had a sinking suspicion that Hermione was more right than either of them had realized.  He had to do something or their whole secret would be revealed. 
   
Who knew what would happen if that were to come out.

   
   

   

Chapter 6: "Her Undisclosed Past"
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A/N: So... I should be studying for my written Arabic final but I wrote you a great chapter instead.  Enjoy and leave me a lot of lovely reviews!
Love Ivy






"Maybe I... I'm not so easily stung.   Maybe I... I got some love for someone.  Maybe I... I'm just the story for you.   Maybe I... I'll be the do you ought to do..." - Five For Fighting "Maybe I"



~*~*~*~






When Hermione returned very late that night, Draco was already back.  This became obvious when she saw a dark figure slumped over in a chair in the front room of the suite.  She didn’t want to wake him because he looked so peaceful, but she knew that, eventually, he would wake up with a crook in his neck, which would not make for a very happy Draco.  But as she watched him, she began to study him.
   
She saw the way the moonlight reflected off of his pale skin and hair, she saw the taut way he slept, as if, even in sleep he wouldn’t relax.  Was the job really that hard?  She supposed one couldn’t erase the past and she and Draco did have quite a history.  But this was his job, right?  He was supposed to pretend.  Hermione sighed, thinking the situation over. 
   
At first, being with him had been hard, but she was surprised at how easily the two of them were getting along.  It was as if he was a completely different person.
   
He is a completely different person,
Hermione reminded herself.  It’s his job to be a completely different person.  When this is all over, he’ll go back to being Draco Malfoy, and I’ll simply be a Mudblood.
   
For some inexplicable reason, this saddened her dramatically.  Why did it bother her so much?  She hated Draco Malfoy as much as he hated her.  She felt no differently.  His kisses didn’t do anything to her and when he talked to her softly, comforting her, it didn’t really matter.
   
Or at least that was what she told herself.  For, as she watched him sleep, she felt softened, affectionate toward the man who had tormented her for much of her life.  For, even after she had left school, he had mocked her very existence.  She was simply a journalist, and he was an award-winning anonymous escort who journalists like Hermione wrote award-winning articles on.  It didn’t even matter to him how known she was in the wizarding community.  She was still dirt in his eyes and would always be.
   
Sighing, Hermione collapsed on the arm of the chair.  A little too loudly or hard obviously because a moment later, she felt the movement of a jerk as Draco Malfoy quickly awoke from sleep, as though he’d been expecting her to do that all along. 
   
“Hermione.”
   
“Sorry,” she found herself whispering in response.  “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
   
“It’s okay,” Draco yawned.  “I wasn’t asleep.”
   
Hermione snorted a very unladylike snort.  “Yeah.  Okay.  I believe that.” 
   
“You’re mocking me?” Draco asked her, raising a skeptical eyebrow.  “I know whether or not I was asleep.  I felt you watching me.”
   
“I don’t know Draco Malfoy,” Hermione shook her head.  “I think you’re lying.”
   
“Do you always assume things?” He stood up very close to her.
   
Hermione took a step back but he closed the distance between them.  “What are you talking about?”
   
“Well,” Draco shrugged and Hermione felt her eyes memorizing each and every one of his movements. “You just assumed I was sleeping and when I told you that I wasn’t, you assumed I was lying.”
   
Hermione laughed nervously at how close they were together.  She was under scrutiny and all she wanted to do now was run and hide somewhere.  “No, I…  I mean, that’s what you do…  What you’ve always done…”
   
Trying to regain control, Hermione said more firmly.  “You can’t change in an instant.”
   
“It’s called acting,” Draco raised an eyebrow.
   
Hermione narrowed her eyes.  “Duh.  I mean, you can’t change for real in an instant.”
   
“Are you assuming things again?” Draco asked.
   
“No,” Hermione shook her head and then made to turn away, but Draco pulled her back toward him.  She looked at him, searching his eyes for any answer why he was doing what he was doing.
   
“I was thinking, Hermione,” Draco told her, running a finger down her cheek.  “That Ron knows too much.”
   
Hermione looked at him in horror but Draco put one finger up against her lips.  “It’s okay,” he continued.  “I have a remedy for it.”
   
“What’s that?” Hermione whispered.
   
And then, his lips were on hers.  The whole world seemed to disappear in that instant as Hermione felt her knees go weak.  The sweetness of his mouth envelopped her and shut off any part of her mind that might have resisted temptation.  His tongue caressed her lips, exploring every curve and then asking for entrance into her mouth, Draco kissed her expertly.  She spared a single thought wondering whether or not every one of his clients got such treatment, before his kiss completely enfolded her. 
   
Suddenly, with enormous strength, Draco picked her up; their mouths still attached and took her to the bed.  Laying her down gently, Draco came down on top of her.  She sighed in pleasure, ignoring the miniscule nagging voice in the back of her head that she probably shouldn’t be doing this.  Especially right after her breakup with Ron and especially not with Draco Malfoy.
   
He must have sensed her hesitance, because he stopped kissing her and looked at her, searching her gaze in such a way that she felt completely and utterly safe. 
   
Merlin!  What was going on with her?  This was Draco Malfoy she was in bed with!  He was her sworn enemy and this was simply a business arrangement. 
   
“Hermione,” his voice was deep and rough.  It penetrated her deepest heart as easily as a knife penetrates an apple.  “What’s wrong?”
   
She gulped and with an easy reflex, reached up to run her hands through his luscious white blond hair.  “Are you sure we should be doing this Draco?”
   
“It’s the only way, Hermione,” Draco leaned down and began to kiss her neck.  “If you want this to work, we have to become really close.  Unquestionably close.
   
“Ron already doubts the legitimacy of the whole thing,” Draco leaned over and kissed the other side of her neck.  “So we need to act and act really well.  Imagine we’re on camera or on stage.  The audience has to believe it or they won’t like the show.  Therefore, we have to act like we believe it.”
   
“But we’re just acting,” Hermione nodded.  What he was saying was beginning to make sense. 
   
“Exactly,” Draco replied, his lips meeting hers again.  “We’re just acting.”
   
Draco turned back to the task at hand, first removing her shirt, then his.  Somehow, the rest of their clothing found its way to the floor, and Hermione realized how easy it would be to lose herself in this charade that she and Draco were hatching.  Somehow though, she really didn’t mind.

   
~*~*~*~






The difference wasn’t substantially different to most of the wedding party.  In fact, it was only apparent to Ron that something between Hermione and Draco was different.  Suddenly their chemistry seemed stronger and they actually looked like they were in love.  The new presence of a different type of chemistry disturbed Ron and made him even angrier. 
   
Had they caught on to the fact that he was getting suspicious?  It certainly seemed as if something had changed over night and it made Ron furious.
   
The entire wedding party was at a special dinner.  Harry had rented out the nicest restaurant in town.  All decked out in lovely dresses and suits, they looked like a picture.  Especially Draco and Hermione.
   
Probably the loveliest girl in the world, she was wearing a sheath of navy blue silk and Draco matched her perfectly in a black tux and a pressed white shirt that looked new.  Considering that it was Draco Malfoy, it probably was. 
   
“So, Draco,” Ron heard Harry say, “When’s the wedding?  You and Hermione look so happy you could burst.”
   
Draco grinned easily.  “It’s next week,” and then loudly.  “Ladies and Gentlemen, you have all been formally invited to mine and Hermione’s wedding next Friday at 7 PM.”
   
Hermione threw her head back and laughed, whacking Draco on the arm flirtatiously.  “Draco!  Stop it!  We’re not getting married.”
   
Draco leaned over and kissed her deeply.
   
“Get a room, you two!” George yelled.
   
Next to Ron, Ginny sat, holding Harry’s hand.  “Hermione, you look lovely.”
   
“Thank you, Ginny,” Hermione squeezed her free hand.  “So do you.”
   
Ron had to admit that Hermione had a point.  His little sister, who wasn’t that little anymore, did look very beautiful in a summery dress of white cotton that fit her curves up until her hips where the short skirt flailed out gracefully.  Harry was indeed a lucky man to get Ginny’s love and Ron knew that he knew it. 
   
Meanwhile, Draco didn’t deserve Hermione at all.  And Ron was determined to do something about it.  All he needed was the right evidence to prove that he was right.  What he would prove and what everyone else would think about it, he didn’t know.  All he knew was that he would know and he would ruin Hermione forever.

   
~*~*~*~






After lunch was over, Draco patted Hermione on the leg and told her to follow him outside.  So, excusing herself from the table, Hermione followed her very handsome date out into the French cityscape.  Mopeds rushed by and people in summer clothing walked by carrying baskets of fruit and fresh produce from the nearby farmer’s market. 
   
The sun beat down from above and the air was stifling, but Hermione breathed it in.  Since she had been here, she had relished the hot, muggy weather that was so unlike the moist and cold air of England.  For the first time in her life, she felt like she actually was getting tanner, a concept that was foreign to the typical Englishmen.
   
Hermione let her eyes make their way down Draco’s impressive physique.  Miraculously, he was getting less and less pale.  His ever darkening skin stood out in stark contrast to his white blond hair that seemed to be getting paler and paler from the blinding sun, but for some reason, it made him all the more attractive to her.
   
“Are you still impressed by how very sexy I am?” Draco asked, raising an inquisitive eyebrow.
   
Hermione rolled her eyes.  “Yeah right.  You’re impressed by how hot I am.”
   
Draco snorted. 
   
Hermione just laughed and kept walking down the street.  She wasn’t really sure what Draco had in mind, but she didn’t ask him either, letting the hum that only a ridiculously hot day could bring soothe her wondering mind. 
   
They ended up making their way into the farmer’s market.  The kind French farmers offered their produce and exclaimed in French about how lovely they both looked.  Hermione and Draco just smiled at them and they made their way down the aisles, stopping here and there to sample strawberries or wines. 
   
“So,” Draco said all of a sudden as he handed Hermione a small glass of merlot to taste, “you never told me about why you and Weasley broke up.”
   
Hermione raised an inquisitive eyebrow.  “And I should tell you because…?”
   
“Because I want to know,” Draco shrugged.  “I mean, don’t tell me.  That’s fine.  I just thought that… Well… Maybe you’d want to talk about it?”
   
Hermione shrugged, taking a deep breath and complimenting the vendor on the quality of their wine in her fluent French.  She turned to Draco.  “Should we buy a bottle for Ginny and Harry?”
   
Draco simply handed her a stack of euros, which Hermione gave to the old woman who in turn gave her the bottle of wine wrapped up in beautiful lacy paper. 
   
They kept walking and Draco was sure that she wasn’t going to tell him.  In truth, he didn’t really care for his own knowledge, but for Hermione’s well being.   Ron was incredibly bitter, though Draco knew that it probably didn’t help matters that Hermione was there with yours truly. 
   
“It was about two months ago…” Hermione began, and as she and Draco sat down on a bench on the outskirts of a park, she could feel herself reliving the nightmare all over again.
   
   
It was warm and muggy that night, an odd thing in London when I hurried to the store to do some last minute shopping.  Ron was getting back from a conference that night and I wanted our meal to be extra special because I knew how important that conference was for him. 
   
He had called me earlier in the day to tell me that he was going to be in a little bit late and perhaps I should just go meet him at his place so that he wouldn’t have to keep me waiting any longer.
   
This made sense, so I went to the store and got the ingredients for our favorite dinner: Prime rib, mashed potatoes and steamed green beans with the finest champagne available.  Since Ron was promoted we could afford those things. 
   
I know it sounds weird that we weren’t living together after four years of being together but Ron was always weird about sharing his space.  I think it had something to do with the fact that he had always had to share with the rest of his enormous family.  You would think that by now he’d be used to it, but nope.  He wasn’t.
   
When I arrived in the flat, I put the key back under the doormat like it normally was and put all my stuff down on the couch.  Walking over to the counter, I saw that Ron had left me a note saying that he had some stuff he had to do but that he’d be back as soon as he could.  I didn’t really think much of it.  After all, I still had to make the dinner which would take about an hour or so anyway.  It was late too.  Around eight but that was when we normally ate anyway, so I figured that if we ate at nine one night, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.  Besides, Ron wasn’t even here.
   
I started cooking and realized that it felt a little bit too quiet in the room.  So waving my wand, I started some quiet music that played only in the kitchen.  I love cooking to that one American band called
Lifehouse.  I put the prime rib in first since it had already been brined in apple cider at the butcher’s shop.  After putting everything else in, I picked up my book from my pile of belongings and cuddled up on the couch in order to read while I waited for dinner to be done and Ron to come home. 
   
I can’t remember exactly how I found out or what lead me to my discovery but I think I suddenly got really cold.  It was weird too because it was really warm outside and everything but for some reason, Ron always likes to have his house super cold. 
   
I headed to his bedroom because I remembered that I had left a couple of sweaters here intentionally just for this very reason.  By this time, I could smell the prime rib beginning to be done, so of course, I hurried into his bedroom where his door was closed to get my sweater.
   
Well, needless to say, when I opened the door, there was a man and a woman on the bed.  More specifically, it was Ron with some gorgeous foreigner, a girl that I presumed he had met at his conference.  Later I found that he actually hadn’t been at a conference.  He had been having an affair with Sonia for about a year behind my back. 
   
She was gorgeous too.  Tall, about five feet ten with long black hair and beautiful features that screamed Eastern European or Spanish or something.  I’m really not clear any more what she was.  Needless to say, she was more beautiful than I was.
   
It all got kind of blurry after that.  I remember both of them looking at me, Sonia had a look of disgust on her face while Ron simply looked shocked.  Did he think that I wasn’t going to find out?  That being said, I turned on my heel and left, leaving the prime rib to burn in the oven and leaving the water in the green bean pot on long enough that he actually had to pay someone to get his floor fixed.
   
I went to Harry and Ginny’s that night and cried for a long time.  Over the next couple of months, Ron kept trying to contact me but I ignored all his calls.  Ginny was great and Harry pretended for me that he knew nothing about it.  No one else knows, actually.  Everyone else thinks that Ron and I broke up because we just didn’t feel like it anymore. 
   
I’m so ashamed.  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen that coming.  What made me even more angry was that after the fact, I went over in my head the last year and I saw all of his excuses on missing dates of ours as opportunities to cheat.  I felt so used and so stupid.
   
How could I have been that stupid?

   
Coming back into the present, Hermione felt tears streaming down her face.  It had been two months ago but it felt like yesterday.  She had been so naive and stupid and it haunted her every day.  Draco’s arm found its way around her shoulders and he leaned over and kissed her on the head.
   
“So that was when you found me?” He asked.
   
She nodded.  “Yep.  I was so desperate to look like I was okay that I hired you to be my date.”
   
Draco was silent.
   
“Why did you answer me anyway?” Hermione asked, looking at Draco as he wiped the tears from her eyes.  “You hated me.  You still hate you.”
   
Draco looked back out over the park filled with laughing and smiling children and their families.  He shrugged, rubbing the back of Hermione’s hand.  “I don’t know actually.  I wanted a challenge I suppose.”
   
“And I was a challenge?” Hermione asked, stunned.  “How?”
   
“You said it yourself, Darling,” Draco replied with a mocking enunciation to the nickname.  “I hated you.  But the appeal of torturing yours truly, Ron Weasley, overcame any other reason I might’ve had.”
   
“So you weren’t really doing it for me,” Hermione repeated.
   
“Come on, Granger,” Draco teased.  “You know me better than that.  You said that if I ever did anything that wasn’t ninety-nine percent selfish you’d die of shock.”
   
Hermione threw her head back and laughed then looked down at her watch.  “Shoot.  I forgot how long that story takes to tell.  They’re probably wondering where we went.”
   
But as they walked back, they didn’t notice that another member of the wedding party was discreetly following them home.

Chapter 7: "Secrets Revealed"
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A/N:  Happy New Year!  I'm sorry that that took so long, but I didn't have internet in Hawaii and I needed to clear my head before I jumped back into this.  I hope you like it!
Love Ivy




"I get lost in the beauty of everything i see.  The world ain`t as half as bad as they paint it to be..." -Onerepublic "Come Home"














On the night of the wedding rehearsal, Ron was the last person that Draco wanted to see.  The entire space was set up with chairs and a small gazebo where Harry and Ginny would take their vows.  Everyone was off making last minute preparations and as Ron approached, Draco braced himself for an encounter that he was sure was going to be altogether unpleasant.  After Hermione had told him of their breakup and how Ron had been cheap enough to cheat on her, well… It hadn’t taken much for Draco’s hatred of the tall and still gangly Weasley to further deepen.
   
“Well, well, well,” Ron smiled. The expression left Draco uneasy and he was rarely ever uneasy.  “If it isn’t the man of the hour…”
   
Draco covered up his uneasiness quite easily as a matter of fact by simply lifting an eloquent eyebrow.  “I believe you’ve mistaken me for Harry.  I’m surprised you would forget that you’re here to serve your best friend.”
   
Ron threw his head back and laughed like a viper about to strike.  “No, no, Draco,” Ron said Draco’s name vehemently, spitting it out as if it were poison on his tongue.  “Harry might be the one getting married, but it is you that everyone fawns over.  Why?  Because you’ve changed… Suddenly, Hermione is all over you, as is every other girl at the party.”
   
Draco tried to play it off lightly.  “Well, I am remarkably good-looking and very charming when I want to be.”
   
Ron smirked.  “Yes, yes…  Charming.”
   
“So, let me ask you something, Weasley,” Draco crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at Ron.  “You’re not trying to be nice to me.  I know that.  I’m not stupid, you know…  So then, what is your purpose?”
   
“I simply don’t understand, Malfoy,” Ron began circling him.
   
“You better stop that, Weasley,” Draco began mirroring the opposing man’s movements.  “Anyone else who looks over here might think that we were about to get into a fight.”
   
“Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t,” Ron shrugged.  “All the same, if you cooperate, then perhaps we won’t have to.”
   
Draco stopped moving.  “And what makes you think that I would ever cooperate with you?”
   
Ron stepped closer, closing into Draco’s boundaries with no respect for personal space.  “Why is it that you suddenly show up with Hermione, two months after we split?  No one had any idea you were together and suddenly, instead of the Mudblood hating fiend you used to be, you’re sleeping with one.” 
   
Draco tried to walk away.  Ron was out of his mind and frankly Draco didn’t want anything to do with him.  It was, after all, all he could do to keep himself from making Weasley permanently unconscious for what he’d done to Hermione.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get very far.  A moment later, he was being swung around to face Ron.  They two men were very close to each other and all Draco could do was laugh. 
   
“You’re kidding, Weasley,” Draco snorted.  “You’re not actually going to try and fight me here?  In front of all these people…  You really are insane.”
   
But before Draco could do anything else, a fist came across his face.  He could barely think besides that he couldn’t believe Ron Weasley was hitting him like this a second time.  All of a sudden though, a huge wave of anger washed over Draco.  He could no longer control himself like he had at the bachelor party.  Poor Hermione had been wounded and hurt when Ron had cheated on her.  How could someone cheat on someone as lovely as Hermione?  She had been close to tears on the walk when she’d recounted her tale that it had been all Draco could do not to pull her into his arms. 
   
It was with that thought that he aimed his next punch and let it fly, right across the side of Ron’s head.  Ron went flying and it was then that people looked up. 
   
“I know all about you and Hermione,” Ron snapped, lying on the floor with a huge bruise on his cheek.  “I can tell everyone!”
   
Draco snorted.  Ron didn’t have the balls to tell everyone about whatever he was talking about.  “Yeah, okay.  I know a little something about you too.  So if you spill then maybe I’ll let my mouth run away with me.”
   
Ron stood up and then leapt on Draco.  “You’re a bastard, you know that?”
   
“My parents were married, thank you very much,” Draco rolled Ron over.  “But you?  How could you Ron?  Hermione loved you and you threw it back in her face.  Did you ever really love her?”
   
By now, a crowd had gathered and for some reason, no one was pulling Draco off of Ron.  In fact, Draco believed that everyone wanted to hear what Ron had to say.  With the look that Ron turned on Hermione who was standing close by, crying, Draco knew that this was not going to be good.
   
“I loved her in school,” Ron spat out.  “After we started going out, I got so sick of her.  Everything she did drove me nuts.”
   
If the room could’ve gotten any more silent, it did right after Ron’s confession. 
   
“Then why’d you stay, Ron?” Hermione began to cry.  “Four years?  And you were sick of me?”
   
Ron just glared back at her and then at Draco.  Then he snarled, “well… I guess the sex was good.”
   
A collective gasp echoed around the room and Draco, so angry punched Ron hard across the face.  No one, not even the Weasley parents rushed to his aid.  The confession from a man that they thought they all knew shocked them to the core and no one was quite sure of what to do.  Draco stepped back, shaking his red fist.  “You deserved that, you filthy bastard.”
   
No one stooped to shut Draco up because they knew he was right.  After a while, Ginny stepped up to Hermione and pulled her into her arms.  Hermione began to sob all over Ginny’s rehearsal dress.  Draco looked up at Harry who had a grim expression on his face.  Fred, George, Oliver, Kiana, and the rest of the wedding party began to surround Hermione, offering comfort.  They then stepped to Draco who felt as if he was in the middle of a haze.  He had definitely not planned for that to happen. 
   
And then, from the floor, Ron’s voice echoed loudly and clearly.  “You think that Draco’s off Scot free do you?  He and Hermione have lied to all of you and I think it will shock you.
   
“Draco Malfoy apparently is a well-known escort,” Ron divulged, smiling menacingly.  “And Hermione… Well, she was too ashamed to come here alone that she had to hire her date.”
   
"How did you know?" Hermione stiffened. 

"I followed you yesterday when the two of you snuck off, if you must know," Ron grinned maliciously at his ex-girlfriend.  "I guess you'll think twice when you divulge secrets in public.  I was simply waiting for the right moment.  I knew you were hiding something and that if I caught you at the right time I'd find out everything.  Lucky for me and for all of us that we know about your treachery now."

She couldn’t believe that Ron had just told everyone that.  But what was more, how had he known about it?  It wasn’t like she and Draco went around advertising the whole thing.  And then, the people in the party began murmuring and looking speculatively at Hermione and Draco.  Even Harry and Ginny were looking at them oddly, as if everything was beginning to make sense.  Excusing herself, Hermione slipped outside. 
   
She had no idea how she was going to be able to face anyone anymore.  Damn Ron.  He had to go and ruin her entire life.  It was his fault that she even had to hire Draco.  It was his fault that he had gone out with her simply because of the sex.  Where was the Ron that she remembered from school who was pissed that she was going to the dance with Viktor Krum and not with him?  Where was the Ron who had kissed her in the middle of the war? 
   
Sitting down on the steps of the church, Hermione put her head in her hands.  Footsteps came from behind her and she ignored them.  “Hermione?”
   
It was Draco’s voice.  It had become so dear to her over the past few days that the thought of making him going away nearly ripped her heart apart.  Unfortunately, he had to go.  There was no use pretending anymore.  The truth was out and Hermione was left where she had started.
   
“What do you want, Draco?” Hermione’s voice was muffled.
   
“I came to see if you were okay,” he said, trying to take her hand.  She pulled away, jerking quickly.
   
She wheeled on him.  “Do I look okay, Draco?  Can you honestly say that I look okay?”
   
“Jeez, Hermione,” Draco held up his hands.  “I’m sorry, but you can’t take this out on me.  It’s not my fault.”
   
“No, Ron ruined everything,” she said bitterly.  “But whatever.  I’ll be fine.  You can go back to your regular life.  The wedding’s tomorrow so I’ll be fine.  Then I’ll just go home.”
   
“No, Hermione,” he shook his head.  “I’m not leaving now.  Harry’s probably going to kick Ron out of here.”
   
“He is not, Draco,” Hermione snapped bitterly.  “Just get out of here.  We don’t need to pretend anymore and I know that that’s what you’re doing.”
   
Draco looked at her disbelievingly.  “Uh, no.  That’s not what I’m doing.  I’m actually here to try and comfort you.  I care about you Hermione.”
   
Hermione stood up, tears streaming down her face.  “No! No!  No!  Go away, Draco.  Leave me in peace!  You don’t care about me!  You never did and you never will!”
   
Draco looked angry now.  “Fine. But I’m leaving because you asked me to, not because my job is over.  I know that Ron hurt you.  But here’s the thing, I’m not Ron and this,” he motioned between them, “this is not pretend.  I thought you would’ve been a smart enough woman to realize that.”
   
With those last words, Draco turned on his heel and strode out of her life as quickly as he had come.  And all Hermione could do was get up and run the other way.  Where she was running, she didn’t know.  All she knew was that she was going to run far away.

   

~*~*~










A knock on the door came later that night.  When Draco returned to the hotel room that he had rented for him and Hermione, he wasn’t surprised to see all of her stuff gone, all the way down to her toothbrush.  Sighing, he collapsed on the bed, feeling more alone than he ever had. 
   
Picking up the phone, he sent a notice down to room service.  A few minutes later, a tuxedoed waiter appeared with a very large bottle of firewhiskey and a basket of bread.  He knew the combination wasn’t the best but he wanted to do his best to wipe out all the memories he had of Hermione.  He hadn’t thought that it was possible to feel so much for someone, least of all Hermione.  And yet, the last few days with her seemed to span months instead of merely hours and it wasn’t as easy to forget, as he wanted it to be. 
   
Pouring himself a shot, Draco downed it in a gulp, his throat searing at the feeling of the alcohol slithering into his stomach.  Without a second thought, he drank three more in a row.  Soon, the alcohol was setting his mind ablaze.  Unfortunately, the alcohol only made it worse.  His muted brain couldn’t think of anything but the pain and so he finally sat, wallowing in grief and confusion. 
   
So when the knock on the door came, the last thing Draco wanted to do was answer the door.  With his luck, it would probably be Ron come to torment him all over again.  Though, then again, anybody from the wedding party was liable to show up and injure him because he had been a hired date and had been “faking” his feelings for Hermione.  The truth was that he had been faking them… at first.  He wasn’t sure when he had stopped acting.  He could name a number of times, but, in the typical stereotype of a man, he figured that it was when he and Hermione had made love, after Ron had begun to call them out. 
   
Groaning as his head began to spin, he hobbled to the door, running into some walls while he was at it.  He opened the door to see Harry standing there and he groaned again.  “Potter.  What do you want?  I’m leaving tomorrow so you don’t have to kill me.”
   
Harry raised an eyebrow at Draco’s appearance.  He frankly could not remember the last time he had seen Draco Malfoy looking this bad.  He was incredibly disheveled, his hair sticking out in odd place, his face was red (probably from lying on a pillow) and his eyes were out of focus.  One look into the room and Harry saw why.  A near empty bottle of firewhiskey was sitting on the table in the large sitting room. 
   
“Draco?  What the hell are you doing?” Harry asked, pushing his way into the room. 
   
“What does it look like?” Draco slurred.  “Not like it’s any of your business.  I’m trying to drink away my troubles.”
   
Harry raised an eyebrow.  “Is it working?”
   
“Yeah, yeah, of course it is,” Draco stumbled into the couch.  “It’s just great, you know, mate?”
   
Harry pulled back in alarm.  Since when did Draco Malfoy call him “mate”?  He hadn’t ever really talked to the man like a human being before the last few days.  Harry sighed.  “I came to see how you’re doing.”
   
Draco shrugged, a drunk grin on his face.  “I’m just fine, mate.  You don’t have to worry about me.”
   
“This doesn’t have anything to do with Hermione, does it?” Harry gently probed.  “What happened anyway?”
   
“She fucked me,” Draco shrugged.  “Fucked me up good and then left.”
   
Harry bristled slightly at his language.  Luckily, he reminded himself that it was only because the man was completely drunk and probably really hurt as well.  “How did Ron know?”
   
“Merlin knows.  I sure as hell didn’t tell him,” Draco collapsed on the couch.  “If that’s what you’re suggesting, I mean.”
   
“No,” Harry shook his head.  “That’s not what I thought.  I was just wondering.”
   
Draco squinted up at him.  “You obviously don’t have anything better to do so will you leave me alone?  I’m sick and tired of answering your stupid questions.”
   
Harry sighed.  “I thought we could talk, but if that’s what you want.”
   
“Yeah,” Draco snapped.  “It’s what I want.”
   
Harry turned to go and paused at the door, turning back to Draco.  “I just want to let you know that I don’t think that you’re guilty in any way.  You’ve been great with Hermione and Merlin knows we all appreciate that.  Especially after finding out about Ron.”
   
Draco was already snoring.

   

~*~*~










When Harry arrived back at the house where he and Ginny were staying, Hermione was already there, sobbing in a room with Ginny.  Knocking on the door, Harry couldn’t believe that he had to deal with both parties.  But even more than Draco, Hermione was one of his best friends.  Scratch that, his best friend now that Ron had turned out to be such a screw-up.
   
When he entered the room, Hermione tensed and then relaxed when she realized whom it was.  She looked awful.  In fact, she looked almost as bad as Draco did.  Then again, she looked bad in a completely different, completely sober way.  Her eyes were red, her hair was mussed and her clothing was disheveled.  “Hi, Harry.”
   
“Hermione?” Harry asked, sitting down next to Ginny who exchanged a worried glance with him.  “Are you okay?”
   
“I don’t know,” Hermione sniffled.  “I feel like I made a huge mistake even bringing him here.  I mean, it was so immature and cowardly of me to bring anyone, least of all, Draco Malfoy to your wedding.  I’m sorry.”
   
“No,” Ginny protested.  “You were so happy these last few days.  I mean, you were definitely happier than you have been the last few months.  I’m so sorry about Ron.  I never thought it was like that.”
   
It was the wrong thing to say.  Hermione began sobbing again and curled up on the bed in the fetal position as if trying to protect herself from the cruel world that had taken a stab at her earlier today.  Luckily, Harry and Ginny knew that she was strong and that she would get through this.
   
“Hermione, I’m sorry,” Ginny patted her leg.  “I didn’t mean to say that.”
   
“Just leave me alone,” Hermione’s voice was muffled against the blanket.
   
Harry and Ginny exchanged a glance and then quietly got up and shut the door behind them with a click.  Walking out into the glass dining room, Ginny leaned against the window, looking out into the French countryside.  “Did you see Draco?”
   
“Yeah,” Harry came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders as he began massaging them. 
   
Ginny leaned her head back.  “How is he?”
   
“Drunk,” Harry shook his head in disbelief.  “Drunk and unhappy and hurt.”
   
“I can’t believe she didn’t let him talk,” Ginny sighed. 
   
Harry shrugged.  “It’s got to be pretty humiliating though, having everyone find out that she hired him.  Then again, it doesn’t surprise me now that I know.  I mean, Hermione showing up with our old enemy to our wedding… But still, he’s been so good with her.”
   
“How do we know it’s not all an act though?” Ginny asked.  “I mean it is his job.”
   
Harry smiled wryly.  “You sound like Hermione.”
   
She shrugged.  “That is what was most confusing.  She doesn’t know whether it’s real or not.  I think she really cares about him though.”
   
“Obviously,” Harry agreed.  “And obviously, he cares about her too.  I doubt he’d be drinking himself into a stupor if it was just a job.”
   
Ginny stood up.  “You want something to eat, honey?”
   
“Is this the end of the discussion?” Harry asked.  “Draco’s leaving apparently, but is Hermione staying?”
   
“Of course,” Ginny reached for some pots and pans. 
   
“That’s good,” Harry opened the refrigerator door and took out a jar of pickles.  “I just hope they figure this out.”

Chapter 8: "A Change of Scenery"
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A/N:  Hello there all my lovely readers!
It has been quite a while since I updated and for that I am truly sorry.  What with school, a crazy personal life and lack of inspiration, I have not been able to sit down and write, really anything for that matter.  But here it is.  Fresh from the presses is chapter eight of the beloved "Perfect Charade."  I hope you like the little change that happens here.  This is quite unlike anything that happens in the movie, but it is mine.  Enjoy it and leave me a lot of lovely reviews.  I'm hoping the next installment will be up much more efficiently.

~ Love Ivy













"Imagine me without you.  I'd be lost and so confused.  I wouldn't last a day.  I'd be afraid without you there to see me through..." -Jaci Velasquez "Imagine Me Without You"









Everything that could’ve gone wrong on the day of the wedding did.  The weather that had been so nice the whole week before disappeared.  Thunderous rain clouds covered up the sky and let up torrents of water.  The man leading the ceremonies got sick and meanwhile, all Hermione could think about was Draco.
   
Ron had disappeared seemingly the night before and so had Draco.  Yet she still found herself craning her neck around the congregation looking for him, as if, by some miracle he would show up.  She didn’t even know why she cared so much.  After all, all that she and Draco had ever had was an animosity that ran too deep to change and a simple business arrangement. 
   
Sighing to herself, Hermione looked down at the dress that she wore.  It was beautiful, flowing lavender silk that somehow magically seemed to fit her perfectly.  The bridesmaids’ dresses also seemed to work like a dream which was a miracle considering that nothing else seemed to be going right.  Ginny looked like she was on the verge of tears as she walked down the aisle and all Hermione wanted to do was run away and go hide in a cave until she started to feel differently about her whole life.
   
It would’ve been easy to tell herself that everything was going to be okay, but unfortunately, she couldn’t quite get her mind to believe it.  Who knew where Draco was.  He probably was off having sex with some other woman.  For some reason that thought didn’t exactly sit well with her.  In fact, it made her feel unbelievably sick to her stomach.
   
Turning back to the ceremony that was going on right before her very eyes, Hermione took a deep breath and told herself that she had to focus.  She could not allow her feelings (if she could call them that) for Draco get in the way of her friend’s wedding.  Not to mention that Ginny was having the worst of luck.  She’d probably end up being a teary mess by the end of the whole affair.  At least then Hermione wouldn’t be the only one about to burst into tears at every moment.
   
Hermione looked over at Oliver who had willingly agreed to stand in for Ron as Best Man.  He nodded at her, smiling in a way that said that everything was going to be okay.  Hermione smiled back and then had another strange thought cross her mind.  What if Draco hadn’t left?  Would he have been prepared to take Ron’s place as Harry’s best man?  Would Harry have even wanted him to?
   
Shaking her head, Hermione listened to the service, and clapped and smiled as Ginny and Harry said their eternal vows.  Ginny was crying as Harry leaned down to kiss her and Hermione wasn’t true whether or not she was just happy or because she was disappointed with how the wedding had gone.  Hermione figured it must have been a combination of both.
   
When Hermione arrived back at the hotel room that Draco had generously continued to cover for the remainder of their stay, which was the next day at noon, she collapsed in the chair where she had caught Draco sleeping only a couple nights before.  An overwhelming wave of memories swept over her at the thought of kissing Draco, being held by Draco, making love to Draco…
   
She began to cry.  Why did she miss him so much?
   
A knock on the door interrupted her tears.  She got up to open the door to find Ginny standing there, sobbing. 
   
“Ginny?” Hermione asked.  “What’s the matter?”
   
Ginny stumbled into the hotel room, obviously drunk.  “Everything.  You saw the wedding.  I mean, I don’t know what happened but everything seemed to go wrong.
   
“My brother is the biggest ass on the planet, Draco left, the wedding was a disaster, and now, Harry has last minute business to attend to that apparently can’t wait,” Ginny took a shaky breath.  “So therefore we can’t leave tomorrow for our honeymoon as planned.”
   
Hermione narrowed her eyes.  “No.  That’s completely unacceptable.  What the hell would Harry have to do that’s more important than going on your honeymoon as planned?  I mean he saw how bad the wedding went.”
   
“I know,” Ginny said tearfully.  “We just got into a huge fight about it.”
   
“The joys of being married,” Hermione said wryly getting a small chuckle out of Ginny. 
   
The two girls sat in silence for a few minutes until Ginny asked.  “What are you going to do about Draco?”
   
“You mean Malfoy?” Hermione asked.
   
Ginny gave her an odd look but just shrugged.
   
“It was a weekend thing,” Hermione said, trying to convince herself more than Ginny.  “A business deal.  A one-time thing.  Now it’s done and we’re both gonna go back to our regular lives where we never see each other again.”
   
Hermione felt her stomach clench up at that thought.  It was true that she and Draco never saw each other.  But something could happen.  What if they didn’t see each other for a year and then randomly ran into each other at the supermarket.  What would it be like then?  Would they both act like nothing had happened?   That they hadn’t made love and that it hadn’t been the most amazing experience that they’d ever had?  That they hadn’t been able to share everything with each other?
   
“You can’t just forget about it, Hermione,” Ginny said quietly.  “Both of us know that it wasn’t just a one time thing.  You really fell in love with Draco and I very much suspect that he feels the same way.”
   
“I don’t know, Ginny,” Hermione shook her head.  “Somehow I don’t think that he’s feeling this way.”
   
Ginny smiled.  “You give yourself too little credit Hermione.”

   
~*~*~






Draco paced around his apartment for the millionth time that day.  He had gotten home the night before and had immediately paged through his address book to find a date for the next night.  He had to get Hermione out of his head.  All the way back he had been wondering whether leaving had been such a good idea.  How could he have stayed after what had happened?  It would’ve been impossible.
   
A knock on the door and his sister walked in. 
   
Cecilia Malfoy, his twin, had never gotten along as children.  While Cecilia spent most of her time with their mother, Draco had always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Somehow, Cecilia had always wanted to go to Beauxbatons, even if it meant being far away from their mother and so there she had gone, which was why no one knew about her.  At least no one at Hogwarts did.  But for some odd reason, the minute the two of them got out of school, they became the best of friends who talked about everything. 
   
Draco hadn’t been able to make himself do it.  He hadn’t been able to make himself call up some other random girl from his past to go out on a date with.  The only person he’d wanted to call had crossed the room and thrown her arms around him.
   
“Oh, brother dearest,” Cecilia said affectionately.  “What kind of mess have you gotten yourself into this time.”
   
Cecilia was beautiful and was in fact Draco, in female form.  Tall and slender with nice curves, brilliant blue eyes and long blond hair, the two couldn’t have looked more alike if they’d been picked out of a catalogue as a pair. 
   
“I fell in love with my client, Ci Ci,” Draco said seriously, using her childhood nickname.
   
Cecilia shook her beautiful head.  “I knew that was going to happen.  And now what?”
   
“Well,” Draco shrugged.  “I doubt I’ll ever see her again.  Not to mention that everyone at the wedding knows that I was hired.  Slightly embarrassing and probably not very good for business.”
   
“I’m sure you’ll dig your way out,” Cecilia stepped back.  “Are we going to dinner or not?”
   
Draco grinned at the insistence that the two of them shared.  “Yeah.  Let me get my coat.”
   
At dinner later that night, Draco told Cecilia all about Hermione.  Cecilia laughed and sighed where she was supposed to and then gasped because she couldn’t cry in such a nice restaurant.
   
“Well,” Cecilia shrugged.  “You sound very much in love with her.”
   
“I am,” Draco sighed.  “Though nothing will come of it.  She’s not even Pureblood.”
   
Cecilia snorted.  “So what?  My best friend is a Mudblood.”
   
Draco laughed.  Cecilia had always been more open-minded than anyone in the family.  She acted as she was supposed to obviously, but she was a favorite at parties simply because she could converse with anyone.  Draco often wondered if her seven years at Beauxbatons had made her see the world in a way that Draco had never gotten to experience because he’d constantly been worried about what his father would think.  It figured that Cecilia would be best friends with a Mudblood…
   
“Wait…” Draco furrowed his eyebrows.  “Rhea is a Mudblood?”
   
“Don’t tell Mum and Dad,” Cecilia grinned.
   
Draco shrugged.  “Could’ve fooled me.”
   
They were on desserts when Cecilia’s face lit up.  “I have an idea.”
   
“What’s that?” Draco asked curiously.  He still couldn’t stop thinking about Hermione, but with Cecilia around, at least he wasn’t having bad thoughts about her and their future together… or lack of, for that matter. 
   
“I’m to leave for the Bahamas tomorrow,” Cecilia explained.  “I was supposed to go with Rhea, as a matter of fact, but she cancelled on me last minute because of some family thing she has to do.
   
“I figure since you’re not working currently and considering the state that you’re in, that some sunshine would do you well.”
   
“I just had some,” Draco said skeptically.  “And what about Hermione?  I can’t just leave not having dealt with this problem.”
   
“Some space away will do you good, brother,” Cecilia urged.  “Then, in nine days, you can come back clear-headed, march up to her doorstep and woo her away.”
   
“You think it’ll be that easy, do you?” Draco asked, motioning to the waiter for the check. 
   
Cecilia smiled and shrugged.  “That’s the general idea, but don’t worry, we’ll get more detailed while we’re lying on a tropical island.”
   
Draco sighed.  “Fine.  Fine.  When do we leave tomorrow?”

   
~*~*~






As soon as Draco and Cecilia arrived at the walkway of the five-star resort that their father owned down in Nassau, he knew that Cecilia was right.  Ten days of lying on a beach or by the pool, despite the fact that the temperature was roaring at 35 degrees Celsius, would do him a lot of good.  He could flirt with cute women, eat amazing food, rule the hotel, and catch up with his sister.
   
“I’m kind of hungry,” Cecilia said as they handed their bags to a bellboy.  She grabbed Draco’s hand.  “Let’s go get something to eat at the café, maybe a drink too?  Then we can come change and go swim?”
   
“What time is it?” Draco asked.
   
“Twelve,” Cecilia looked at her watch.  “Come on.  Let’s go.”
   
The two Malfoys were greeted well and treated even better as it became apparent to all the hotel staff that their bosses were there visiting.  Placed into the Executive Suite, Draco flopped down on his bed and took a deep breath.  The sliding door that lead out onto a private balcony overlooked the pool and even farther out the ocean that was a brilliant turquoise sparkling like diamonds from the brightness of the warm summer sun. 
   
Cecilia appeared behind him and threw something at him.  “Draco.  Change.  Swim.”
   
Draco smiled at his sister and headed to his own private bathroom and then suddenly realized something.  He had hardly thought about Hermione at all since his sister had suggested that they come here.  Maybe this really would work.  Then he would be able to come back and find her and tell her how he felt about her.  Either that, or Hermione was just a passing thing that he would remember fondly but would never go anywhere.
   
For some reason that thought did not sit very well with him.  Shaking himself, Draco pulled himself together and then walked out into the main room where Cecilia in her baby blue bikini was sitting in a wicker chair with her legs resting on the glass table, a glass of brandy in one hand, a women’s magazine in the other.
   
Draco raised an eyebrow.  “Brandy, eh?  Pretty strong for a woman like you.”
   
“I can hold my liquor,” Cecilia shrugged, downed the contents and then stood up, wobbling a bit.  Draco caught her and pushed her feet back into the ground, laughing all the same.  Cecilia raised an eyebrow.  “Do you want some?”
   
Draco shook his head.  “Nope.  You ready to swim?”
   
“For sure,” Cecilia put on her flip-flops and then followed Draco out.

   

~*~*~





When they arrived down at the beach, they had the cabana boy post their cabana up right at the edge of the beach.  The ocean was a bit of a walk but neither Cecilia nor Draco minded.  This cabana was personalized and it even had a function to open up the roof to the sun.  Of course, they would do that with their wands, but all the same, it wasn’t worth moving it closer.  A waiter brought them a couple drinks.  Draco sipped a Corona while Cecilia sipped on a freshly made Pina Colada. 
   
“Okay,” Cecilia set her glass down.  “Ready?”
   
Draco nodded, set his beer down and then walked across the hot sand with his sister.  They ran as the sand stung their toes and the bottoms of their feet, laughing as they finally reached the water.  It was the perfect temperature and Draco dove into the water as Cecilia took her time, sashaying in so that she could make sure that if any men were watching, they would see her grand entrance to the biggest stage on the world. 
   
The two sat in the water for a while, splashing and talking and swimming and planning their vacation.  Draco decided that he would head in to take in some sun for a little while when all of a sudden he saw something… Or rather someone.
   
The most beautiful girl he had ever seen entered the water a little ways down.  The cutest redhead that he’d ever seen accompanied the girl.  But the two young women looked strangely familiar.  And then he heard Ginny’s laugh.  It was an unmistakable sound… Which could only mean….
   
Hermione was in the Bahamas.
   
“Draco,” Cecilia looked worried.  “What’s the matter?”
   
“She’s here,” Draco said quietly.
   
“Hermione is?” Cecilia asked, surprised as Draco felt.  “Which one is she?”
   
“She’s with the redhead, the one who just got married,” Draco explained.  What was Ginny doing here without Harry?  Hadn’t she told him just a few days before that they were going to the Bahamas for their honeymoon?  Why was Hermione there?  Where was Harry?  “Hermione’s the one with the honey blond hair.”
   
Cecilia shielded her eyes with her hand and squinted.  “Oh.  I see her.  She’s cute.  Good choice, Draco.”
   
“Shut up, Ci Ci,” Draco snapped.  “I’m not ready for this.”
   
“I know,” Cecilia nodded.  “I know.  Come on.  Let’s go back up to the room and we can think about how we’re going to approach this.  She doesn’t know.  I can tell, but it’ll be okay.”
   
Draco shook his head.  His whole world seemed to be falling apart.  Who knew what it would be like to see and talk to Hermione again?  Especially when he wasn’t expecting it.  Well, he’d supposed he would find out sooner or later, because like it or not, they just both happened to be on the same island in the Bahamas.
   
Fate really could be cruel sometimes.

Chapter 9: "To Win Back Love"
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"I'm here alone.  Didnt want to leave.  My heart won't move, it's incomplete.  Wish there was a way that I can make you understand..." 
-Chris Brown and Jordin Sparks "No Air"





Nassau was perfect.  Hermione did feel bad that Ginny hadn’t been able to come and enjoy this with Harry but apparently he had promised them a two-week vacation in a month or two.  Ginny had reluctantly agreed even though she was quite disappointed that they hadn’t been able to honeymoon right after the wedding as was custom.  But all the same, Hermione was happy to be here with Ginny, enjoying the perfect ninety-degree weather, the beautiful warm water, the relaxing beach and a hotel, which pretty much was a dream come true.
   
“How are you feeling Hermione?” Ginny asked as the two of them lay back in the water, letting the salt soak into their hair.
   
“About what?” Hermione asked curiously, coming up to a standing position. They were both too deep in the water to actually be able to touch the ground, but she tread water quietly as she waited for Ginny to answer.
   
Ginny shrugged.  “I don’t know.  About everything…  About Draco and I don’t know…”
   
Hermione shrugged, a pang of sadness bursting through her.  “I don’t know….  I feel bad about what I said to him, but then he just upped and left.  I mean, what am I supposed to do about that?”
   
Ginny was silent.  The two girls spent the rest of the day hanging out on the beach, Hermione’s thoughts constantly wandering over what to do about Draco.  She had come originally to get her mind off of him, but it seemed that that was not going to be possible.  Her thoughts were going full throttle, going over a million different outcomes to her and Draco’s relationship.  On the one hand, she knew that her and Draco’s relationship wasn’t resolved, but how it was going to be, she had no idea. 
   
Turning her head in another direction symbolically for her thoughts, Hermione sighed.  Everything would work itself out in due time.  It always did.

   
~*~*~








It was that evening when Draco got a note up from the manager of the restaurant, saying that they would love it if he would come down and greet the guests.  Why he would do that, he wasn’t sure, but for some reason, in a nod to generosity, he agreed. 
   
He found himself an hour later in a custom-made Italian suit, standing at the door to the exquisite and decadent Le Chateau, the nicest of the five restaurants in the hotel and the most expensive restaurant on the island.  The separation of guests amidst the five restaurants excluded everyone but the best to dine at Le Chateau.  Draco had only been here a few times, but he could vividly remember his parents doing exactly what he was doing right now, as he stood and greeted old friends from High Society clubs from around the world. 
   
“Mr. Malfoy?” Asked an older couple.
   
“Mr. and Mrs. Marray,” Draco smiled politely and nod his head.  “How are you?”
   
“Enjoying Nassau,” Mr. Marray winked.  “As usual.”
   
“You’ve grown up so much,” Mrs. Marray beamed.   “You look just like your father.”
   
That hadn’t exactly been what Draco wanted to hear, but he smiled politely all the same and then motioned to a hostess to seat them.  Winking at her, he got the satisfaction of seeing her blush.  He watched the girl walk away, sashaying her hips, he knew, for his benefit.  For some reason, it didn’t seem to fill the emptiness in the pit of his stomach. 
   
The dull evening seemed to last forever.  As Draco said hello after hello to what soon became handsome yet faceless strangers, he wondered when he was going to get to leave.  Cecilia had gone out with some friends that she had run into earlier that day, which left Draco with nothing to do after he was done in half an hour.  At ten PM, on a Saturday night, he had nothing to do. 
   
Nothing to do, that was, until Fate seemed to step in.
   
He was walking to the men’s restroom when he bodily ran into someone.  Looking down to say he was sorry to the poor woman, his eyes widened when he saw himself reflected in her gold-flecked eyes.  “Hermione.  What are you doing here?”
   
She looked as shocked as he felt, which dampened the effect of her narrowed eyed gaze on him.  “I should ask the same question.”
   
He looked at her smugly.  “I own this hotel.  Didn’t you know?”
   
Hermione looked at him suspiciously.  “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.  You’re a Malfoy.  You own everything.”
   
He shrugged.  “The boon of being rich and well known I suppose.  More importantly, what are you doing here?”
   
“You didn’t know I was here?” Hermione asked.
   
He rolled his eyes.  “Yeah, right; because I keep track of every guest that walks in and out of these doors.  Keep dreaming Hermione.  I don’t care about my guests that much.”
   
Hermione shook her head.  “You don’t care about anyone but yourself, Draco Malfoy.  You haven’t changed one bit.”
   
And with that, she turned on her heel and walked away.  Draco turned and sighed, closing his eyes to try and keep all the emotions he was feeling at bay.  So this was what rejection felt like.  If he had to feel it like this from Hermione one more time, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to deal.  Although then again, it wasn’t like he’d made such a good start.  Looking at his watch, he wondered how many more chances he would get before Hermione walked out of his life forever.

   
~*~*~







“Are you serious?  You actually said that?”
   
Draco turned away from Cecilia a couple hours later as the two of them simultaneously got ready for bed.  It reminded them of the older days when they had been young and incredibly close.  They had bathed and changed together, often coordinating their outfits that was, until their father had turned Draco against that concept, saying that it wasn’t manly.  Though they didn’t coordinate clothing anymore, they still enjoyed each other’s company which was why Cecilia stood nonchalantly in front of the bathroom sink brushing her teeth wearing just a bra and velour sweatpants.
   
Draco meanwhile had the shower curtains shut and the hot water pounding down against him.  Though he’d been in the heat all day, there was nothing like hot water to rinse off the sand, sweat and embarrassment that he’d suffered earlier that day.  Though the water seemed to cleanse his body, it did not cleanse his mind, which was the very reason he was talking to his sister.
   
“Yeah, I did,” Draco said in an angry tone directed more at himself than at his sister for questioning him.  He knew that that was the reason that she didn’t snap back at him.  “It was stupid.”
   
“Um, yes,” Cecilia answered, her voice echoing through the turquoise shower curtain.  “What are you going to do?  I mean, you can’t just let her get away.”
   
Finally done in the shower, he stuck his hand out from in between the curtains.  “Towel?”
   
A fluffy white towel was efficiently thrust into his hand.  Toweling off his hair, he quickly wrapped it around his waist so that Cecilia could take her hand off from over her eyes where it had patiently lay as he’d taken his time getting out.  “I’m so not equipped to deal with this right now.”
   
Cecilia groaned.  “Will you stop being such a boy right now?  This is not how a man would deal with such an ordeal.  Why don’t you just tell her that you love her?”
   
“Because I’m not clear of my feelings myself,” Draco huffed. 
   
“It’s so obvious, Draco,” Cecilia shook her head.  “I know you’ve never been capable of loving another woman like that, but Hermione’s the girl who finally broke the chain.  You might not “love” her, but you are “in love” with her.  So be in love with her.  She’s probably as confused as you are.”
   
“But how would I do it?” Draco asked.  “I can’t just tell her.  Besides, don’t they say that actions are clearer than words?”
   
Cecilia shrugged.  “If a guy told me that he was in love with, I’d believe him.  But I suppose flowers would be nice too.”

   
~*~*~







There was nothing that could compare to being courted by Draco Malfoy.  When Hermione received one hundred red and white roses the next morning, she didn’t even need to read the card to know that it was Draco Malfoy who had sent her those flowers.  Ginny of course was the one who had answered the door when five deliverymen carried in bouquets of twenty-five roses. 
   
Ginny had heard all about the embarrassing exchange that had happened the night before at the restaurant and about how Hermione had no idea which angle that he was coming from.  It was pretty obvious now which angle he was coming from.  If Hermione had had any doubt before, it should’ve been erased. 
   
“Damn it, Ginny,” Hermione cursed.  “Why does he always have to do this?”
   
“Do what?” Ginny asked as she admired the roses, burying her nose deep inside the petals and sighing in contentment.  “I wish Harry would send me this many roses.  He really isn’t that romantic.”
   
Hermione sighed.  “Ginny. Focus.  You already got your happily ever after.”
   
Ginny snorted.  “Yeah.  Prince Harry seemed to miss the memo about riding off into the sunset on a romantic honeymoon.”
   
Hermione laughed in appreciation.  “But still.  Why does he have to be Draco Malfoy who could buy the entire world?”
   
“Because he’s Draco Malfoy,” Ginny shrugged.  “And surprisingly, he does have a shred of romance in his soul.”
   
“And bundles and bundles of galleons,” Hermione sighed.  “I’m worried he’s just trying to buy my love.”
   
Ginny rolled her eyes.  She loved Hermione dearly, but her best friend really did read into things way too much.  She was always overanalyzing and using that brilliant mind of hers to think of the worst possible outcomes as opposed to the best.  Ginny knew that Draco was trying to apologize, but there was no way that she would be able to drill that through Hermione’s somewhat thick skull.
   
Instead she shrugged.  “Frankly, I liked the roses.”

   
~*~*~







Draco didn’t get a response from the one hundred roses that he’d given Hermione earlier that morning.  What was it with her?  Every other woman he knew would’ve swooned to see so many roses devoted to her and her alone.  But did Hermione swoon?  No.  She was probably too busy overanalyzing his every single movement, thinking that logically, he must be trying to buy her instead of actually trying to love her.
   
But he relished a challenge.  Winning Hermione was going to be like winning any other woman that he ever had.  Though the only difference this time was that he actually cared about not only winning but also keeping the prize.  For now, he couldn’t think of the future though, because if he did think about it without Hermione in it, he became incredibly depressed.
   
Sighing, he moved onto his next plan of attack. 

   
~*~*~








Hermione and Ginny were eating lunch the same day of the flower display at a quaint little café outside of the hotel.  Over delicious ethnic cuisine, Hermione made small talk with her friend as her mind swiftly went over all the possible things that Draco’s flowers could have meant. 
   
“Hello?” Ginny waved her hand in front of Hermione’s face.  “What are you thinking about now?”
   
Hermione didn’t even have to say anything in order for Ginny to understand where she was coming from.  Her best friend knew her too well, though then again, that was probably why they were so close. 
   
Before Ginny could say anything the local radio was interrupted by an announcement from a very familiar voice.
   
“Hey there, everyone.  Hermione, if you’re out there, I want you to listen to what I have to say. 
   
“I know that it hasn’t always been easy between us.  Actually, I don’t think it ever has, what with us hating each other in school and then this whole fiasco that just happened, but I just want to let you know that I’m not trying to buy you out by giving you flowers.
   
“I- well… I think I’m in love with you.  And if you’re ready to take the jump then I’ll be right her to catch you.”
   
As he signed off, the entire café burst into applause.  Hermione had tears in her eyes.  She and Ginny exchanged a glance with Ginny who gave her an “I-told-you-so” look. 
   
Hermione quickly excused herself, blushing.  There was one more thing she needed to do before she could give Draco another chance.  And it wasn’t like she was going to devote her life to him or anything.  His groveling wouldn’t be finished yet but on a tight leash, she was somehow convinced that miracles never ceased.
   

~*~*~







She found him on the sailing dock.  He was rigging up a boat, his bare back, tan from so much sun turned toward her as she felt tears in her eyes.
   
Gulping she said.  “Hi.”
   
Draco wheeled around quickly, not sure if his ears were tricking him or not.  When he saw that Hermione was actually standing there, he nearly smiled but then he just stared at her, waiting for her to speak.  “What do you want?  I’m about to take these people out for a boat ride.”
   
“I just came to say that I got the roses that you sent to me,” she said awkwardly.  “And the radio was pretty ingenious too.”
   
“Thanks,” he shrugged, looking completely unaffected from her pronouncement, which, for her had taken a lot of effort.  It wasn’t easy for Hermione to be emotional or to admit that she had been wrong.  And in the face of Draco’s rejection, she wasn’t sure if she could go on.
   
“Is that all you’re going to say?” She asked, slightly angrily.  She had come to thank him and all he could do was stare at her?
   
“Is that all you’re going to say?” He repeated her question, his arms folded across his chest.  “Because if it is then I think I’m going to get going.”
   
“No, I…” Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.  “Why are you so angry with me?”
   
“Because I’m making all the effort, Hermione,” Draco snapped.  “And it’s hard for me.  And here you are, coming as if it was an effort for you to take my gifts.  I put my heart out on the line and got nothing back.  So I guess I'm done with all this.
   
“I have to go.”
   
And with that, he turned and walked onto the boat, leaving a bewildered Hermione standing alone on the dock.

Chapter 10: "Your Skin Against Mine"
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A/N:  Wow.  Sorry that's taken so long.  My life with school and all has been insane.  I took the excuse of a sick day to get you all this.  Thanks for all the support for this story.  It helps me keep going and gives me inspiration to finish this.  Enjoy and leave me lots of lovely reviews!
Love Ivy



"Funny thing is when I look into your eyes I sense something so sincere in your disguise..." -Mya "Do You Only Wanna Dance" 







“Are you sure you don’t want to come snorkeling?” Ginny asked for the third time that hour as she suited up in her snorkel gear on the beach.  The day before, when Hermione had gone unsuccessfully after Draco, Ginny had met a family of four who were vacationing in Nassau who had invited them snorkeling. 

Hermione hated being so deep down in water.  She was phobic about the fact that she could potentially run out of air, and after a near miss when she was a child in a Muggle swimming pool, she never stayed under water for very long.  She shook her head again.  “No, Ginny.  I’m fine.  I’m just going to stay here.”

Ginny shrugged and then left.  Hermione was a grown woman and would be able to take care of herself and keep herself occupied for the five hours that Ginny was out scuba diving.  Still, she worried about her best friend, especially what had happened the day before with Draco’s rejection.  She shook her head as she made her way down to the beach. 

Hermione and Draco were more similar than they thought.  Stubborn as mules, they wouldn’t admit to the fact that they loved each other but that they were scared of getting hurt.  Ginny wasn’t surprised.  Ron had apparently never loved Hermione.  This fact still made Ginny angry. Draco probably hadn’t had that many successful relationships either, what with him being an escort and all.  She wished there was a way to make them see how perfect they were for each other, she just didn’t know how. 

“Hi Ginny!”

Ginny smiled at the sight of the family’s nine-year-old daughter running up to meet her.  Seeing this happy family made her miss her own, as well as want to start a new one.  She wished that Harry were here and was hurt that he had cancelled on her the way that he had.  It wasn’t like him, but she figured that she would give him the benefit of the doubt.  She knew that Harry loved her and that he would make it up to her for their entire lives.

“Hi Isabelle,” Ginny squatted down on the sand and opened her arms to the little black haired girl. 

Isabelle’s parents and younger brother Michael came afterward.  After his sister moved aside, Michael also jumped into Ginny’s arms.  She looked up at the children’s parents, Mirabelle and Rolland and smiled.  “Hi.  How are you?”

Mirabelle grinned.  “They wouldn’t stop talking about you.”

“They’re very sweet,” Ginny smiled down at the little kids who hid behind their father’s legs and grinned shyly up at her.  “Are you guys excited to go snorkeling and see pretty fish?”

Isabelle nodded eagerly.  “Mmhmm.”

Ginny followed the family onto the little sailboat that would take them a good distance out to a nice reef where they would find the best snorkeling.  Ginny looked curiously at the blond woman driving the motorboat.  She looked somehow familiar though Ginny was positive that the two of them had never met in their entire lives. 

“Hi everyone,” the woman walked toward them.  “My name is Cecilia and I’ll be your guide today.  I’ll also be there if anything frightening happens in the water today, though I assure you it happens rarely.”

“I want to see the fish,” Michael said loudly.

Cecilia laughed, her eyes brightening with amusement.  “And you will.  What’s your name?”

“Michael,” Michael stuck out his hand and Cecilia shook it firmly. 

“That’s a nice firm grip you’ve got there, Michael,” Cecilia said approvingly, causing Michael to blush in the way that only a seven-year-old can. 

Cecilia went around and introduced herself to the small group that would be going on the boat with her.  She looked curiously at the red haired young woman that was with the family and yet obviously wasn’t a part of it.  She looked very familiar and though they hadn’t met, she was sure that she’d seen her somewhere before.

Once they got aboard, Cecilia motioned to the red haired woman to come closer.  She made her way over and looked curiously at Cecilia.  “Have we met?”

“I don’t think so.  I’m Ginny Weasley,” the redhead stuck out her hand.

“You’re Hermione Granger’s friend,” Cecilia smiled.  “I’m Draco Malfoy’s sister.”

The redhead looked at her warily. 

“I’m all for the match,” Cecilia shook her head.  “I just don’t know how to get them together.  I don’t know Hermione very well, but it sounds like they’re both as stubborn as the other.”

Ginny nodded, noticeably relaxing now that she realized that Cecilia wasn’t a threat.  “I know.  I want to figure something out.  I think it’s time for drastic action.”

“For sure,” Cecilia agreed. 

They both pursed their lips in thought and then their gazes met thoughtfully.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Ginny asked.

Cecilia laughed.  “I think so.  I also think that it might be the only way to get them together as well.”

“In this together?” Ginny asked, holding out her hand.

“Don’t tell anyone,” Cecilia shook Ginny’s hand, sealing the deal.


~*~*~



The door slammed behind her as Ron rolled his eyes, collapsing on the couch in his flat and taking a deep breath.  Who did she think she was, demanding that the two of them become an “item” now that he and Hermione were over?  Lavender Brown was a good shag and she had been a nice distraction from boring, ordinary Hermione, but the last thing that Ron wanted now was to be pulled into another relationship.

He wasn’t sure if he would ever see Lavender again, but frankly he didn’t really care.  Something was nagging at him and he couldn’t quite figure out what it was.  Perhaps it was the knowledge that Hermione didn’t care about him.  Perhaps it was the fact that none other than Draco Malfoy, his arch nemesis, had thwarted him.  All the same, Ron didn’t like losing.  There was no way he was going to let Draco come out on top, no matter what he had to do. 

Picking up a piece of parchment and a quill, Ron penned a quick note and then called his owl in to bring the note to the recipient.  After that, he sat down and waited.



~*~*~




Hermione looked heavenward as she looked up at the sky.  She had chosen to walk on the beach by herself before she was supposed to go dancing with Ginny at some really nice Latin nightclub.  The reason she had sought a quiet evening on the beach was because her mind seemed to be going in a ton of different directions.  The reason for all the confusion was of course, Draco Malfoy.

She couldn’t figure him out.  One minute he was professing his love for her and then the minute she tried to reciprocate, he turned and walked the other way.  What could they not get right?  Maybe he really was sick of her.  Maybe she was just kidding herself. 

But what about the last week that they’d spent together?  The entire time had been wonderful and she had cherished every moment of it.  Sighing, she turned back toward the path that would take her up to the hotel and her room where she was supposed to meet Ginny.  Like her friend had said, perhaps this night of dancing was what she needed to clear her head.


~*~*~



Hermione hadn’t danced salsa in what felt like years and as soon as she walked into the club, she felt excitement start to kick up in response.  Suddenly it didn’t matter that she had no idea what was going to happen with Draco.  She was here now and all she needed to find now was a guy to dance with.  Somehow, as she walked in and felt a number of eyes look her over; she didn’t think that would be difficult.

Ginny had insisted on choosing their outfits for the night.  Wearing matching black dresses that clung to their frames like second skins, the two young women pranced toward the bar and ordered a couple of mixed drinks. 

“See,” Ginny said as the two of them sipped mojitos, “I told you this was a good idea.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Hermione waved her hand in the air, writing off Ginny’s brag.  “I forgot that you’re always right.”

“Damn right, I am,” Ginny winked at her.  Her beautiful red head was scanning the room like a predator searching for worthy prey.  Suddenly, her eyes seemed to stop on a handsome looking native.  She smiled slowly and then turned to Hermione.  “Excuse me, darling, but I think I’m gonna go dance.”

Hermione rolled her eyes.  “Don’t do anything that’ll get you in trouble with Harry.”

Ginny winked.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll be a good girl.”

And with that, her best friend was off.  Hermione watched Ginny do what she did best as she and the random man she’d picked out headed out onto the floor.  Hermione watched, fascinated as she sipped her mojito alone as Ginny and her partner moved in complete harmony.  There was something magical about watching two salsa dancers, completely in tune to each other, dance the night away. 

Though she longed to go out there herself, she would wait patiently until someone came and approached her.  She’d already had her experience in approaching first and knew how unsuccessful it had been.  Hermione wouldn’t make that mistake again.


~*~*~



“Come on Draco,” Cecilia pleaded.  “Dance with me.  You know everyone will expect us to.”

Draco rolled his eyes.  “Cici.  This is a Latin club.  They dance salsa.”

“So?” Cecilia, decked out in a beaded short red dress, rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips.  “You know how to dance salsa and seeing that neither of us has a partner, we might as well…”

“Yeah, but I’m your brother,” Draco looked pointedly at her.  “Brothers and sisters don’t dance salsa with each other.”

Cecilia huffed and grabbed his hand.  “Wow, Draco.  Stop being twelve and come dance with me.  Pretend I’m Hermione, okay?”

It was the wrong thing to say.  Cecilia could see it the minute she said it as darkness shrouded his blue eyes.  All the same, he seemed to pull himself together and reluctantly followed his sister out onto the dance floor just as a new upbeat song came on.

As he got on the dance floor, he seemed to enter a completely new mindset.  It was as if all of the other thoughts that he’d had had completely disappeared.  The music seemed to take over his soul and he began to dance…. With his sister.


~*~*~



Ginny had come back by the time the Malfoys had stepped on the floor.  They seemed to be celebrities in the place, regardless of the fact that they were siblings and yet were dancing like lovers.  No one would have guessed by the way they danced. 

The floor cleared as Draco stopped, pulling Cecilia toward him in a spin.  She spun into his arms and he threw her back so that she was hanging over his arm, his other hand running down the middle of her dress.  She came back up then and they began to move in a progressive step, moving around the floor as fluidly as water. 

Spinning her in a million of small circles, Cecilia never seemed to lose her grace or get dizzy.  She fell back into his arms again and as he lifted her up off the ground, with his feet still moving, Hermione felt her breath get caught in her throat as she felt her traitorous mind begin to imagine what it would be like to dance with him like that.  It was only because Cecilia was his sister that she didn’t go out onto the floor and steal him away, even though she knew that she had absolutely no right.

The crowd cheered wildly all throughout the performance.

“They’re really good, aren’t they?” Ginny asked, elbowing Hermione in the side.

Hermione rolled her eyes and through gritted teeth said.  “The best.”

Ginny threw her head back and laughed.  “If you were any more obviously jealous, I would feel sorry for you.”

Hermione practically growled at her friend.  “I’m not jealous.”

“Right,” Ginny winked.  “Sure you’re not.  Why don’t you dance with him?”

“I don’t want anything to do with him,” Hermione spat out, only slightly truthfully.

The song ended soon afterward and the two Malfoys exited the floor gracefully to thunderous applause.  Hermione bit her lip nervously as they realized that they were heading toward the bar not far away from the floor.  The club was small and intimate after all.  Deciding to ignore him and not let him ruin her night, Hermione turned away.



~*~*~



Draco nearly balked when he realized who that gorgeous woman was who was sitting at the bar where he was headed.  Why the hell was Hermione everywhere he went?  It was as if she refused to let him get over the agony he felt in not being able to be with her.

Cecilia’s eyes followed his and she smiled thoughtfully.  “Why don’t you dance with her?”

“Because Cici,” Draco said through gritted teeth.  “We’re done with.”

“I don’t think so,” Cecilia shook her head.  “Just ask her to dance and then maybe apologize to her for walking out on her.  You’d be surprised at how much easier it’ll be to talk to her after you dance together.”

Draco raised an eyebrow.  “Oh yeah?  Why’s that?”

“Because dancing’s like sex,” Cecilia answered as if it were obvious.

Draco looked at her teasingly.  “So you’re saying that we just had sex?”

Cecilia laughed at him.  “You’re unbelievable.  Now go ask her to dance!”

He didn’t know what made him do it, but he approached her as if he didn’t have butterflies swimming in his stomach.  She looked at him carefully as if afraid that he was going to start yelling at her.  Holding her head up, she said over the music.  “Yes?”

“Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“And why would I dance with you?” She asked in a haughty tone.

Refusing to give up, he said.  “Because you haven’t danced all night and because I asked you to.”

“No,” She shook her head.  “I actually have to go.”

She stood up from her stool and nodded to Ginny who was for some reason in the middle of a conversation with Cecilia.  She was about to walk away when suddenly she felt a hand grab hers and pull her toward it.  All she could do was spin in the direction of the pull. 

Looking disgustedly at Draco, she made to walk away again, but he did it again, until finally, she gave in.  “Fine,” she spat.  “But don’t bother me after this.”

“Fine,” he shrugged, taking her into his arms and starting to move around the dance floor with her.  He spun her into a cuddle, forcing her to dance up close with him.  Ducking from under his arms, she found herself facing him again until, lifting his hand; he spun her toward the outside until she was dizzy. 

When she finally stopped, she felt herself pressed up against him and suddenly, she was no longer angry with him.  She thrilled as his hand ran down her cheek, as he spun her out and spun her back in, only to let her dip almost all the way to the ground, his hand running down her chest.  Her leg lifted automatically and he lifted her up and threw her out onto the floor in front of him. 

It seemed to last forever, the moment that they were sharing.  Unfortunately, the song soon came to a stop with Hermione bent over his arm, his hand on her face.  Wild cheers and applause greeted them as they came back up for air.  Hermione slowly was drawn upward and felt herself wobble slightly not only with the effects of the dance but also with the effects of dancing with Draco.

Draco led her off the floor and toward the bar.  “I’ll get you a drink.”

He disappeared for a moment and then heard a voice at the side of her head.  “You’re a pretty good little dancer.”

Turning to smile at Draco’s return, she gasped as she found herself looking into the furious eyes of Ron Weasley.

Chapter 11: "Perfect Endings and Happily Ever Afters"
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]



   








"And if the sky would fall down and crash into the sea.  I know that I will still have you, baby, and you will still have me.  And that's all we'll need..." -Trading Yesterday "Nothing But Love"







“Ron!” Hermione felt her voice rise in anger and surprise as it suddenly set in who she was looking at.  “What the Hell are you doing here?”
   
She looked at him curiously.  “I think that would be a better question to ask of you.  I simply went on vacation because I needed to clear my head of many things and somehow you decided to follow me, even though you have absolutely no business in my life anymore.”
   
He lifted one insolent eyebrow, trying and failing to mimic a Draco that they once knew.  “Trouble in Paradise?”
   
“That’s none of your business Ron!” Hermione felt her voice rise against her better judgment.  The last thing that she needed to do was lose her temper with Ron.  He knew exactly how to take advantage of it, and he would.  Still, she wondered what he was doing here.  He had yet to answer her question and still he was looking at her as if she had done something wrong.  “What do you want anyway?”
   
“I think I know why you’ve been having problems with Malfoy,” Ron sneered.
   
She put her hands on her hips.  “Oh yeah?  Why’s that?”
   
“Because you’re still in love with me,” Ron smiled, sure of his own brilliance.
   
Hermione looked at him incredulous.  How could he think such a thing?  Was he really that stupid to think that all this time, after everything he had done to her, that she was still in love with him?  And finally, she felt herself take hold of her senses.  Letting her hand loose, she slapped him hard across the face.  “You are the most ridiculous human being I have ever had the unfortunate opportunity to have met, Ronald Weasley.  I’m ashamed that I was hung up on you for so long when I was just a game and conquest to you.  And no, for your information, I’m not in love with you anymore.  I’m in love with someone else entirely.”
   
And leaving Ron with his mouth wide open, Hermione pushed her way out of the club, whose atmosphere was getting entirely too oppressive into the muggy yet cooler heat of the outdoors.  For the first time in her life, she felt free and it felt wonderful.

   
~*~*~




Ginny had no idea where Hermione had run off.  After she had seen her brother get slapped in a way that he totally deserved, Ginny hadn’t followed Hermione out of the club, figuring that she needed some time to be by herself. 
   
Looking around, it soon became apparent that both Draco and Cecilia had disappeared and Ginny was alone in a way that she had never felt before.  She watched floods of people part to the sides so that Ron could stumble out into the night, uncared for by anyone. 
   
Ginny soon picked herself up and walked as gracefully out of the club as she could manage.  For the first time since she’d been here, she felt angry with Harry.  She supposed that she had been keeping the anger and hurt underneath layers of worry for Hermione’s wellbeing and now that Hermione had seemingly come to her senses, Ginny’s original feelings could finally fester out in the open. 
   
She couldn’t believe that Harry had willingly cut off their honeymoon and no matter how much fun she was having with Hermione; it could not replace the feelings of betrayal that she felt for her husband.
   
When she arrived back at the hotel, she entered her room and took her shoes off, she ran her toes through the bare carpet, memories from earlier that night coming to play in her head to mix with the feelings of hurt that were becoming more and more intense. 
   
Looking around the darkness of the room, illuminated only by the moonlight streaming through the open windows, she jumped at a shadow at the table.
   
“Who’s there? Lumos!”
   
The blinding flash of light reflected the man who had primarily occupied her thoughts for the last several years.  The one and only Harry Potter was seated in the chair at the kitchen table and as soon as the light hit his face and person, Ginny could see the bouquet of red roses that sat on his lap. 
   
His face looked beaten, haggard and weathered as if he’d been in the sun too much or as if he hadn’t gotten any sleep.  Ginny hoped it was the latter.  Merlin knew he deserved to be losing sleep after leaving her alone on what was supposed to be their perfect honeymoon. 
   
Finally finding her voice, she said.  “What are you doing here, Harry?”
   
“I…” He trailed off.  “I came to say I was sorry.  I don’t deserve your forgiveness and I don’t expect it.  But, I was at the office and I started to wonder why I was even there. 
   
“I missed you and I wondered why I was there, somehow furthering my career when I could’ve and should’ve been here with you.  As soon as I figured out how stupid I was being, I Apparated here as fast as I could.”
   
Ginny stared at him, shocked and not quite able to really take in exactly what he was saying.  It felt as if she were stuck in some sort of mirage of her own imagination and that Harry wasn’t really here.  How could he be here when just a few moments ago she had been reflecting on how angry she was with him. 
   
“How’d you get in?” She asked weakly.
   
He gulped.  “Hermione let me in.” At her questioning look, he continued.  “She’s not here.  She changed and went out again.  I don’t know where she went.  I had a lot of groveling to do with her too.  I’ve already realized that so far I’ve pretty much screwed it up as a husband.”
   
Ginny crossed her arms in front of her chest, feeling tears starting to well up in her eyes at Harry’s sincere and romantic apology.  “Yes, Harry.  You’ve made a great mess of things.  I missed you and I wanted to share this with you.  It’s not right for a man to miss his own honeymoon.”
   
“I know,” he sighed.  “And I know you’ll never forgive me for it, but well, I did something rather rash.”
   
Ginny raised a curious eyebrow.  “Oh yeah?  What’d you do that was so rash?”
   
“Well,” he shrugged, a sheepish smile on his face.  “You’re always telling me to take more risks so I did.  I bought a house down here.  I know it doesn’t make up for me missing the honeymoon, but when I came down here a year ago to check out a place for the honeymoon, I loved it so much that I just went and bought a house here.  Now we can come whenever we want for however long we want.”
   
Merlin help her, but Ginny couldn’t help herself.  He always seemed to say the exact right thing to fix his mistakes.  Maybe she was too optimistic, but she loved Harry to death and no matter what mistakes he might make, she still loved him.
   
Tears started to flood then and she flew into his arms.  He laughed and spun her around, his lips coming down all over her face, his nose nuzzling into her rich red hair.  “I missed you so much.  I’m so sorry, Ginny.  I’m so sorry.  I promise I’ll never do anything like that ever again.  I…”
   
“Harry,” Ginny put her finger on his lips and smiled through the darkness.  “Shut up.”
   
And with that, they sunk into the peaceful oblivion that only a kiss brought upon reunion can bring.

   
~*~*~




Hermione walked along the beach barefoot, feeling only the waves lapping upon the sand with the peaceful crash of a calm sea.  The air was warm and the sky was clear, another perfect night on the Caribbean.  In fact, it would be one of her last.  In a couple of days, she would be back in England again where the days and nights were never quite as perfect as they were farther South. 
   
Unfortunately, there was something missing.  She was quite proud of herself for finally sticking up for herself against Ron.  Slapping him had in fact felt quite good and she did not regret it.  Maybe Ron would finally leave her alone and in peace, something that he should’ve done a long time ago.  Instead, her thoughts seemed to drift back to dancing with Draco.  For the first time since she’d been in his arms the week before, she had felt so alive.  The energy and tension between them had been palpable all the way through and it had seemed as if the world had disappeared as soon as they had begun to dance.  It was as if it had only been the two of them there.  Hermione had never felt that way before.
   
After the dance had ended and she’d seen Ron, it had seemed like Draco had disappeared.  She had turned around to look for him as Ron stood to the side, shocked at Hermione’s display of physical punishment, and she hadn’t seen him anywhere.  She hadn’t quite cared at the moment since she had been so thrilled that she’d finally put Ron in his place, that nothing else had mattered.
   
She cared now.
   
Stopping at a small stand of tall rocks that jutted over the sea, Hermione climbed them carefully and looked out over the never-ending sea.  Past the horizon, she could see nothing but ocean and darkness and she could finally understand how Muggle explorers in the Renaissance period had thought that the world was flat and that if one sailed long enough one would fall off the planet.
   
Sighing, she leaned her head back and closed her eyes, allowing the small breeze to play with her hair.  She was not afraid anymore to admit that she loved Draco and wanted to be with him.  The two of them were stubborn and afraid of giving themselves to someone so fully, but when she was with him, she felt ready to take that leap, just like how he’d said it the day before on the radio.
   
“I thought I would find you here.”
   
The voice was so sweetly familiar, that Hermione jumped and turned in that direction to see the shadow of a man standing underneath the rise of rocks.
   
“Can I come up?”
   
Hermione gulped.  It was as if her thoughts had summoned him.  And how by Merlin’s beard had he known that she would be out here?  “Sure.”
   
With two lithe, graceful movements, Draco lifted himself up onto the rocks and sat down beside her, his leg barely brushing hers but creating more tension based entirely on the small distance between them.  Hermione could feel the electric energy pulsing between them, but she didn’t dare move, afraid that if she did, she would break some sort of unspoken spell.
   
“How’d you find me up here?” She asked curiously.
   
“I know this beach well,” he shrugged.  “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid with my family and well, I always come here when I need to think and it seems like such a Hermione type place to come.”
   
Hermione smiled at that.  The man that she had always thought would have nothing to do with her knew her better than the man that she had thought she had known so well.
   
“It’s pretty beautiful out here, though,” Draco continued.  “Isn’t it?”
   
“I don’t want to leave,” Hermione said truthfully. 
   
“I always wonder why I’m leaving whenever I do,” Draco responded quietly.
   
Their tentative exploration with conversation seemed to end at that moment and the two of them looked out over the sea, trying to calm their speeding hearts and quick pulses so they could speak calmly with each other.  Draco felt like a nervous teenager as he tried to gather his thoughts into words that wouldn’t end up hurting her. 
   
“I’m sorry,” they said at the same time.
   
“You go first,” Hermione said softly.
   
“No,” Draco shook his head.  “You.”
   
Hermione shook her head in defeat.  “I just….  I guess I was so wounded after what happened with Ron that I wouldn’t let anyone in.  And when I hired you, I obviously didn’t think that anything was going to happen.  I figured you were a pretty safe bet because we would just be pretending and that it would drive Ron crazy seeing me happy with you.”
   
“I guess what I didn’t plan for to happen was that in the act of pretending, I would come to care for you in a way that I don’t think I ever cared for Ron in,” Hermione started feeling choked up.  “I started to feel things that I had never felt before and it scared me so much that it was easy to run the other way, but it didn’t make me happy.  I’m sorry that you’ve had to chase me and do all that stuff and have me not respond.”
   
Draco laughed softly.  “You’re not entirely at fault Hermione.  It’s not like it was easy for me, knowing that I was falling in love not only with one of my clients but also with you; you, the person that I was supposed to hate with all my being.
   
“I was so angry when you hired me but I was so looking forward to pissing off Ron, Ginny and Harry by being there that I did it anyway.  I’ve never been in love before, Hermione,” Draco continued truthfully.  “I guess I’ve always been too scared to let myself fall that far, but I told you the truth on the radio the other day that if you’re willing to take the fall that I’ll be right there to catch you.
   
“And I’ve been realizing the last few days,” Draco took a deep breath.  “That I’d rather fight with you than make love with anyone else.  It may have started out as a charade but I guess we fooled ourselves pretty well, eh?”
   
Hermione didn’t even bother answering.  Instead, as happiness bloomed inside of her stomach, she leaned over and kissed him again, finally.  It had felt like she hadn’t kissed him in forever and the pleasure that she got was delicious.  His lips were soft and insistent against her and he tasted exactly as she remembered him tasting. 
   
“I love you Draco Malfoy,” Hermione whispered against his lips.
   
“Maybe I’m crazy,” he responded, kissing her all over her face.  “But I love you too.”



APRÈS


   
The Weasley home seemed to be a magnet for familial fun and laughter.  It was a few months after that fateful Caribbean vacation that had created so many happy endings and had taught important lessons at the same time. 
   
Ron was still hanging in precarious balance with his family and best friends and wasn’t actually at dinner that night.  But the rest of the family was there, along with Harry, Hermione, and the newest member of the extended family. 
 
Ginny was pregnant with her and Harry’s next baby and in a few days, the two of them would be spending a month down in their new house in the Caribbean. 
   
Draco and Hermione were helping each other get over their fear of falling for someone.  The risk for once seemed better than not taking it.  Later in the evening, Draco pulled Hermione out of the kitchen and out into the Weasley’s backyard.  They could hear the light tromping of the garden gnomes and Hermione laughed.  She was surprised that Draco hadn’t already taken his wand or demanded a gardener to get rid of them.
   
But that was the old Draco Malfoy, the Draco Malfoy that she thought she had known.  She was totally in love with the true Draco, and as he got down on one knee to
propose, the thought of refusing didn’t even cross her mind. 
   
The perfect charade had turned into the perfect proposal.




~~~Fin~~~

A/N:  And so ends the perfect charade with a perfect proposal.  It's been a delight writing this story and getting so many inspiring and helpful reviews.  Thanks for sticking by me through this adventure and I hope you look at some of my other stories as well.  I was thinking of writing another story based on a well known chick flick.  Any ideas?  Leave them in a review.
Until next time,
Love Ivy





http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com