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False Accusations by Ravenhairedenchantress

Format: Novel
Chapters: 27
Word Count: 68,378
Status: WIP

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

Genres: General, Romance, Angst
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, OC
Pairings: Draco/Hermione, Draco/OC, Hermione/OC

First Published: 10/05/2007
Last Chapter: 02/25/2009
Last Updated: 02/25/2009

Summary:


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Hermione. Draco. Draco. Hermione. When Hermione and Draco are sent to Paris for a six week conference, the thought strikes fear into both of their hearts. But as time goes, they learn to deal with each other and possibly, just possibly, like each other.


Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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*
Hermione hated Valentine’s Day! She did not see why this day should be a reason to love your partner more than usual. She also hated the sickeningly sweet sight of couples smooching in every café she passed. Pulling the lapels of her coat tighter around herself to prevent the rain from wetting her clothes, she quickly made her way to her favourite café in Diagon Alley. If she was expecting the café not to be celebrating Valentine’s Day, she was in for a huge disappointment. As she pushed the door open, she was sickened to see that it had been adorned in everything pink and fluffy from ceiling to floor. Feeling like she was going to throw up, she made her way to her usual table by the window and stared out at as the rain continued to play a deafening sound on the cobbled street.

 

Within a minute or two, Emily, the waitress who always took Hermione’s order was at her table, requesting her order. She ordered the same thing she did everyday for lunch, a steaming cup of coffee and a pain au chocolate, straight from the oven. As she waited for her order to be served, Hermione tried her hardest not to stare at the couples sat all over the café, sharing their cakes, holding hands or in once case, seemingly attempting to gnaw their partner’s face without breathing once. This disgusted Hermione somewhat.

 

Watching couples always made her feel lonely. She had not had a boyfriend since a year ago, where her relationship with a charming muggle-born boy had ended in disaster. There was one person that she wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with, but he was too busy at the Ministry, sorting out global wizarding problems. She let a small bittersweet smile grace her lips. Her schoolgirl crush for Harry had not died down since Hogwarts and he had made it very clear, that he was no going to be involved in any relationship unless Voldemort was gone. She loved how thoughtful and noble he was.

 

Her order came and she happily sipped on her coffee and bit into her pastry as she stared out of the window once more into the rainy street, watching passers by. She had just finished work at St Mungo’s and she had not had a good day. In fact, it had probably been her worst of the year so far.

 

It had started out brilliantly, where she received a valentine’s card from Harry and the promise for dinner later on, as friends of course, but she liked to think of it as a date. However from then on, her day had begun to spiral downwards in a series of unfortunate events. Firstly, an article in the prophet about the murder of the Minister for Magic of Italy had nauseated her. Apparently he had been poisoned a week earlier and had not been found until his secretary had gone to check on him. She wondered if this was a Death Eater’s work. It certainly wasn’t Voldemort; he would’ve used Avada Kedavra, his signature move. But what would a Death Eater want with the Italian Minister of Magic?

 

Secondly, she had cut herself making breakfast and was now sporting a deep gash in her palm. Her heel had broken off as she had made her way to work and as she was taking the muggle tube, she had to waddle to St Mungo’s with one high-heeled shoe and one flat shoe. But the worst was yet to come. As she finally went into the Hospital, she was horrified to find none other than Draco Malfoy talking with the Hospital director and wearing the usual green uniform.

 

“What is he doing here?” she had bellowed, rather impolitely at the hospital Director and pointing her finger accusingly at Malfoy. She had not seen him for over four years, since they had finished Hogwarts and she thought that he had gone to work abroad after the death of his father. The hospital director, Healer Connors, stared at her in surprise whereas Malfoy turned round at the sound of her voice, an eyebrow raised and a look of mild amusement upon the features she remembered so well.

 

“Miss Granger, good morning,” Connors said casually, completely unfazed by her bellowing. “I’d like to introduce you to, Mr Draco Malfoy.”

 

“There’s no need for an introduction, Mr Connors. Me and Malfoy used to be in the same year at Hogwarts,” Hermione said through gritted teeth.

 

“Really? That’s wonderful. Mr Malfoy has been working as a healer abroad and has finally decided to come work for us here in our native England.” Mr Connors was beaming, but Hermione could see nothing to beam about. She thought she had gotten rid of Malfoy after Hogwarts. Why, oh why did he have to choose a career as a healer and come to work here? He should’ve stayed abroad.

 

Her eyes finally found Malfoy and she stared at him with great dislike. He was just as she remembered him, but he had certainly matured. His handsome features were no longer sharp and pointed but softer and more human. His silvery blonde hair had finally regained some golden colour in it and his cold grey eyes had become more silvery and less icy. He had grown at least a foot and she hated how he towered over her. His body had probably matured too, but she could not analyse it beneath his green robes.

 

Her eyes found his and she stared into their silvery depths, her own chocolate eyes flashing dangerously. He merrily stared at her, amused, with a trace of that smirk she hated so much lingering on his peachy lips. Fully aware that Mr Connors was scrutinizing them, she strained a smile that almost pained her and she stuck out her hand and said in a forced, sugarcoated coated voice, “Malfoy, nice to see you again,”

 

If Malfoy was surprised, he did not betray that surprise. He took her small hand in his big, warm one and replied in a neutral voice, “You two, Miss Granger.” She was barely aware of the small flutter in her stomach as she heard the sound of his voice. It was deep and husky and had a very appealing charm to it, but she was too busy releasing her hand from his hand to notice this.

 

“Mr Malfoy will be working in the children’s ward with you, Hermione.” Hermione was beginning to wander how much bad news she could take without screaming her head off. “I’m sure you’ll be the best of partners.”

 

A bitter taste found it’s way into Hermione’s mouth and she put on a smile that really pained her and said, “I’m sure we will”. Her eyes wandered to Malfoy once more before she turned round to take her coat off and begin her shift.

 

Later on, she bumped into him as she attended to a small boy who had been bitten by a hinkypunk and was crying as she added some dittany to his arm. She coaxed him into a state of calm by whispering soothing words to him and gently stroking his long, jet-black hair.

 

“It’s all right, it won’t hurt much,” she said gently. The boy, called Leon, peered up at her from underneath his long, dark lashes with astonishingly violet eyes and muttered, “You’re nice,”

 

“She is when she wants to be. But you’ve never seen her throw a punch, let me tell you that.” a soft voice said from nearby. Both Hermione and Leon turned round to see Malfoy stood there watching them, a smirk across his lips.

 

“Stuff it, Malfoy.” Hermione spat and returned to Leon, and gently dabbed at his wound with some cotton wool. He simply moved closer and sat at the end of Leon’s bed, watching her curiously. She was aware of his gaze upon her and she fought her hardest not to blush. There was an awkward silence as she wrapped some bandages around Leon’s arm and when she could no longer take the silence, she said, against her own will, “So, what have you been up to these past four years?”

 

There was a moments silence before he replied in that sneer that infuriated her, “Why would you want to know, Granger?” Hermione turned round to face him, glaring daggers at him.

 

“I was just asking a question! I thought maybe you’d change since Hogwarts, but obviously not.” And with that she checked Leon’s bandages before storming away.

 

Hermione sighed as she was bought back from her thoughts by the rain that had started beating against the glass window. The sight of Malfoy everyday for possibly quite a few years from now on nauseated her. How on earth was she to live with seeing him everyday?

 

Finishing her coffee, she put a gallon on the table and made her way out of the café, reminding herself that at least she still a nice night with Harry.

*
A/N: Thanks to LilyEvansPotter15 for the chapter image.

Chapter 2: Chapter 2
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“Hermione! Come on!” Harry called down from the bottom of the stairs. Hermione checked herself in the mirror and smiled at her reflection. She looked beautiful in a red satin dress that fell just above her knees and her dark hair was let down in loose curls. She had very little make-up on but the red of the dress bought out the colour in her cheeks and made her hazel eyes glow brightly. Grabbing her handbag, she rushed down the stairs to see Harry waiting for her at the foot of the stairs. As she quickly descended, her curls flying behind her, Harry’s mouth began to drop and his eyes widened.

 

“Wow,” was all he managed to say. Hermione let a small blush taint her cheeks but otherwise she simply smiled coyly and said, “You don’t look too bad yourself, Mr Potter,”

 

He was wearing black trousers, a bottle green shirt and a black blazer to match. His hair, messy as ever fell into his shining green eyes that somehow seemed brighter than usual. She guessed it was the shirt that made them glow this bright. She quickly slipped on some black high heels, put on a coat and turned to Harry, who offered her his arm.

 

“Shall we?” he asked in a great imitation of a posh, chivalrous man. She happily took his arm and said in a voice posh enough to put the queen to shame, “Yes we shall”. And with that, they disapparated into a deserted empty street that led off a busy road.

 

“Where are we?” Hermione asked as they walked through the street and turned into a brightly lit, busy road where they were blinded by the many neon lights glowing in front of them.

 

“London’s glitzy west end. I thought you deserved a treat, so I bought you here,” Harry grinned. Hermione blushed and said in a meek voice, “You didn’t have to…I would’ve been perfectly happy with the three broomsticks.”

 

Harry laughed but said nothing and they continued to walk, staring at the many lights all around them and the posters for various musicals, plays and concerts. “When I was younger, I used to come here with my parents to watch plays. I wish I could still do that…” she said wistfully to Harry.

 

“Well sorry, but we’re not watching a play tonight, we’re going for dinner.” And he led her to a classy restaurant. They were greeted by a posh French man at the door, who bowed, kissed Hermione’s hand and taking her coat off her before they were led to a table by a window that overlooked the city. A young waiter with a heavy French accent came over and handed them their menus.

 

“Isn’t this place a bit of a stray from tradition? It’s usually just pizza and butterbeer over at Ron’s.” Hermione laughed as she looked at her menu.

 

“It is, but it’s a nice change. I only wish Ron was here, he’d start asking all sorts of questions about muggle cuisine and how they behave in restaurants.” He laughed as he imagined his best friend asking why the waiters were so impeccably groomed and why everyone had to wait a while for their food to arrive.

 

“Is Ron still in Romania?” Hermione asked curiously. Ron had gone to Romania to visit Charlie two weeks ago for his holiday and still had not come back.

 

“Yes, but they’re desperately calling him back. The Italians want some help solving the murder of their Minister. They think it was one of the Death Eaters.” Harry informed her. This topic began a debate between the two about whom they thought could’ve poisoned the Minister, but neither really cared much and as the topic strayed from the Italians and murder and they began to reminisce about their Hogwarts days.

 

“Remember when we brewed the Polyjuice potion in the girl’s bathroom in order to change into Slytherins to find out if Malfoy really was Slytherin’s heir? Boy, that was ago. I still remember how Crabbe’s hair began to turn ginger when Ron started to return to his normal form,” Harry said pensively.

 

“No! I turned into a cat!” Hermione said indignantly as Harry laughed gently. How she loved his laugh, it was soft and good-natured and always put her in a better mood. She was about to speak again when the waiter returned to take their orders. They both ordered Chicken Cassoulet and Bouillabaisse before returning to their conversation. Harry opened his mouth to speak but a soft sneer beat him to it, “My, my, my…isn’t this cosy?”

 

Both Harry and Hermione gasped and turned to see Malfoy stood watching them, a pretty blonde behind him.

 

“Malfoy,” Harry acknowledged curtly, as if seeing his old school nemesis quite suddenly in a muggle restaurant was something that happened to him on a day-to-day basis.

 

“Potter,” Malfoy replied in a similar tone. “Granger, we meet again.” Hermione simply glared. She could no longer bear the sight of Malfoy. He had ruined her day; why on earth did he have to ruin what was turning out to be a perfect evening?

 

“Going to introduce us to your friend, Malfoy?” Harry said stiffly, nodding at the blonde behind him, who was watching timidly. She was very pretty, with long blonde hair, bright violet eyes and soft features. She seemed slightly nervous as she watched the scene in front of her. Hermione caught her eyes and smiled uncertainly at her.

 

“This is Laura Carter, my date. I didn’t realize you two were on a date too.” He smirked and pulled Laura closer to him.

 

“We’re not.” Was the icy reply he got off Harry, “We’re here as friends.”

 

“Clearly,” Malfoy sneered sarcastically, “Granger, see you tomorrow.” And with that he and his date moved to their table, thankfully on the other side of the restaurant.

 

“What did he mean, Hermione? ‘See you tomorrow,’ what did that mean?” Harry asked curiously.

 

Hermione avoided his gaze and mumbled, “He’s started work at St Mungo’s.”

 

“What? Why didn’t you tell me? When did this happen?”

 

“It sort of slipped my mind,” Hermione lied. “He started today.” She slowly looked up to meet Harry’s frown. “Listen Hermione, if he tries anything funny tell me.” He said firmly. Hermione nodded, doubtful that she would. She loved to prove herself independent and strong and there was no way that she was going to make herself look like an utter fool in front of Malfoy.

 

The rest of the evening passed pleasantly enough, but Hermione felt a pair of silvery eyes upon her throughout the entire evening. She tried her hardest not to look up and meet his gaze but the temptation became too hard to resist and she looked across the restaurant to gaze at Malfoy, only to find him staring straight back. Their eyes locked; cold silver on warm hazel and it soon became a staring competition, unblinking and sorely not wanting to lose. Neither averted their gaze and it wasn’t until Harry snapped his fingers in front of Hermione’s face did she finally snap out of and put on a smile and turned to Harry, apologizing for ‘spacing out’.

 

But after a minute, she looked back at Malfoy and found that his silvery gaze had not averted. A triumphant gleam found its way to his eyes and she clearly knew what it meant; he had won that round.

Her eyes returned to Harry and she did not look at Malfoy once more. Finally, Hermione suggested that they head back as it was getting late and she had an early shift the next day. Harry paid the bill and they walked out of the restaurant, feeling the cold night air blow around them.

 

They went for a walk by the river Thames and stared out at the boats gently drifting along the river. The London Eye shun brightly against the darkness of the sky. “Thanks for this, Harry.” Hermione said softly, turning to stare into his emerald gaze.

 

“Your welcome,” Harry replied gently and took her hand. Despite the bitter cold, she felt exceptionally warm at this simple gesture. They remained in silence for a while, simply staring out at the city, both lost in their own thoughts. It wasn’t until Harry said, “It’s getting chilly, we should get going,” that they turned round and began to find an empty dark street to disapparate from.

 

When they arrived outside her apartment, Hermione stared down at her high-heeled shoes, slightly awkward. She waited for Harry to say something, because at the moment she could not find her tongue and form any coherent words.

 

“I hope you had a good time,” he said softly, “and..” his hand reached behind his back and he drew a long stemmed white rose and handed it to Hermione. “Happy Valentine’s day, Hermione”.

 

Hermione gasped and happily took it off him, before throwing caution to the wind, she leaned in and gave him a soft, quick kiss on his cheek and whispering a heartfelt, “Thank you”.  She turned to walk into her apartment but just as she was about to walk in and close the door behind her, she glanced back to find Harry staring at her, a glazed look in his eyes. Later that night, she fell asleep with a soft smile upon her lips.  



A/N: Second chapter so far, so tell me what you lot think. Might not be updating as much for the next two weeks (due to sadist teachers and too much homework) but I'll try my best. Chapter image by .3pointRain
-sera.

P.S: Leave a review please!!

 

 

Chapter 3: Chapter 3
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Chapter 3: A bittersweet offer

 

“Piss off, Malfoy,” Hermione snapped as Malfoy continued to follow and pester her. Malfoy gave an exaggerated gasp and his hand flew to his heart, his eyes widening. “I never knew you used such language, Granger. What would your dear Harry think if he heard you?” Malfoy taunted, a manic smirk across his face. He was getting a laugh out of this, but Hermione was furious. She only had twenty minutes left of her lunch break and she had spent it trying to get rid of Malfoy who had been irritating her non-stop all day.

 

It had been almost two weeks since they had set eyes on each other at the restaurant and Malfoy still would not buy her ‘me and Harry are just friends’ story. He kept on making kissy noises and singing stupid rhymes such as, “Potter and Granger, sitting up a tree, doing what they’re not supposed to be, it begins with S and ends in…” Hermione had to turn round and curse him to stop him from continuing the lewd rhyme.

 

“Malfoy, for god’s sake! Leave. Me. Alone.” She said through gritted teeth and stormed away from him into the staff room. Naturally, he followed her. Taunting and irking Hermione Granger and her friends had always been a favourite pastime of his.

 

“Aw, come on, Granger! Have some fun,” he laughed, enjoying how he got under her skin. She turned round so that she was face to face with him, her nose inches away from his. She stuck her wand under his nose and whispered frostily, “I’ve injured that pristine nose of yours once Malfoy, I’m not afraid to do it again.”

 

Draco was about to reply back, no longer laughing when Hayley, a young trainee healer came in through he staff room, gasping and out of breath. “Hermione! Draco! Healer Conno…” but she broke off at the sight in front of her and she blushed deeply. “Sorry, am I interrupting?” she was staring down at her feet, her face a bright red.

 

“What? You think we…? Hayley…never mind, you were saying?” Hermione said wearily, pressing her thumb and finger into the corners of her eyes.

 

“Um..yeah, well… Healer Connors wants to see you both in his office,” she said, still not looking up at them. Hermione glanced at Malfoy who looked amused by the girl’s actions, “Did he say what for?” he asked curiously. Hayley shook her head and continued to stare down at her feet. Malfoy chuckled and walked  out of the staff room, whereas Hermione went up to Hayley and looked directly into her eyes, “We weren’t doing anything. I was about to curse his nose off, nothing else, nothing more.” And with that she followed Malfoy out of the staff room and made her way to the highest floor of the hospital where all the top Healers’ offices were.

 

Malfoy knocked on the oaken door and they waited for a reply. “Come in,” came Healer Connors’ cheery voice. They stepped in and came to see Healer Connors sat at a chair behind a desk, an expectant smile upon his face. “Please sit down,” he said gesturing at two chintz chairs, most unlike his comfortable leather chair. They both sat down, their minds both wondering the same thing ‘Why were we called here?’

 

“Now, I assume you’re wondering why I’ve called you here?” the cheery old man asked. Both nodded.

“Well, I have some rather exciting news, concerning you both.”

 

Both Hermione and Draco’s curiosity were piqued. What was so exciting? But then again, Healer Connors made History of Magic seem exciting no matter how boring. “Well,” he began and sat down behind his desk. “I have just been informed of a special medical conference that is to take place in France next week. St Mungo’s have been asked to send two representatives to the conference and guess what? You two have been chosen! The organizers found both your CVs extremely impressive and have chosen you two to represent our hospital.”

 

Hermione’s complete confusion quickly dissolved and her head began to buzz. She was going to a conference in France. She was going back to France, a place that held many happy memories of vacations with her parents. There was just one problem… Malfoy was going too. She covertly glanced at him and found that he looked like his usual cool, aloof, arrogant self but she noticed an excited gleam in his eyes.

 

“The conference will be for a duration of one month,” Hermione and Draco looked startled at this news. No conference they had ever heard about had lasted longer than a few days. “This is because there will be many lectures held in various French cities and because this you will have to make a presentation on what you have gathered from the experience at the end of the Conference.”

 

Dawning began to creep onto both of their faces and both looked a lot less startled. Hermione began to ponder of all the things that would be included in the lectures and she pictured herself sat in a large theatre room with an impressive healer at the front talking of all the amazing medical ‘miracles’ they had performed. She tried to suppress her smile at the mental imagery she invented.

 

“We have arranged for you to get there via The Hogwarts Express.” Surprise crept onto both of their faces again. “This is because, some students are going on an exchange trip to the Beauxbatons academy in Paris and professor McGonogal has happily agreed to let some of her old students aboard for the ride.”

 

Draco winced at this piece of news. Spending a few hours with professor McGonogal was not his idea of fun. He knew for a fact that she wasn’t too fond of Slytherins and why should he be any different?

 

“You will have to sort out your own living accommodations unfortunately, and means of transport to and from the lectures. Now, when you come back, I want to see a glowing review on the presentation that you will put together. I know you two aren’t exactly known for getting along,” Hermione and Draco exchanged smirks, “But if you could just put your differences aside for that one presentation, please?”

 

“Yes sir,” they chorused. Healer Connors’ eternal beam returned to his kind, old face and he looked delighted. “Brilliant! Now come on, back to work. I won’t accept slacking from my representatives.”

 

They got up and left the room, both lost in their thoughts. Hermione remembered something that Healer Connors had said, ‘ you will have to sort out your living accommodations,’. She guessed they would have to rent a place to stay or something, but she wanted to check with Malfoy first.

 

“Um, Malfoy?” she asked tentatively. His head snapped up and he looked at her enquiringly. “Yes?” was the expected cold reply she got in return.

 

“Well, you do know that we have to arrange where we’re going to live right? So I was wondering if maybe we ought to rent out a place or something…” her voice became weaker with every word and as she said it. She realized how stupid she was to even ask such a question. Draco Malfoy was used to the finest and most expensive luxury, he surely wouldn’t want to spend a month in a rented apartment. Her notions were correct as Malfoy screwed his nose in disgust at the thought and he said stiffly, “We own a chateau on the outskirts of Paris.  I’m sure mother wouldn’t mind letting me use it for a few weeks, even if the likes of your blood are going to be tainting it,”

 

Hermione’s eyes became hard and her back stiffened considerably. Draco took notice of this and observed curiously. He had not meant to say that out loud, but her reaction stirred something in him and he remembered all of the times he had called her mudblood at school and her recognized the hardness in her eyes; they always used to become hard when he called her mudblood. Feeling slightly nostalgic, he smirked a little.

 

Glaring daggers at him, she replied in a low, dangerous voice, “Well you can tell your mother that I’ll be sure not to taint her precious house,” and she stalked off towards the cafeteria.

 


A/N: Okay you guys, so since the staff here have been so brilliant and have been validating so quickly, you get more of my story soon. Tell me what y'all think and first one to review will get the forthcoming chapter dedicated to them. Gorgeous chapter image by LilyEvansPotter15

Chapter 4: Chapter 4
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Chapter 4: Where the eyes shouldn’t linger for too long

 

“You’re what?” Ron asked, his voice rising with every syllable. Hermione cringed at his tone but repeated forcefully, “I’m going to a conference in France with Malfoy for a month”. She was at the burrow and Harry and Ron’s reactions to what she had just said made this little visit just that tad bit uncomfortable.

 

Ron had, as expected, begun to shout, but Harry was remaining silent, his eyes hard and glassy.

 

“When did this happen? Who said you could go?” Ron demanded.

 

Hermione’s blood boiled white hot at that last question. “I said I could go, Ronald! You’re being too overprotective of me! I can look after myself you know.” She shouted and made to storm out of the room but in a second, Harry was out of his chair and had grabbed her arm, gently squeezing it. She obeyed its soft pressure and turned to look at Harry.

 

“Ron didn’t mean to get out of control, did you Ron?” Harry asked stiffly.

 

“No,” Ron grumbled. Hermione glared daggers at him before returning to her seat. Ron began to mutter under his breath but both Harry and Hermione heard some distinctive words such as “Malfoy” and “Bloody git”.

 

“When are you leaving for Paris?” Harry sighed, running a hand through his hair.

 

“Next week.”

 

“Where are you going to stay?” Ron asked in a disgruntled voice from the corner.

 

Hermione bit her lower lip, nervous of their reactions again and said, “We’re staying in a chateau he owns in the outskirts of Paris.”

 

This time both Harry and Ron jumped and shouted in unison, “WHAT?” Ron looked like he had just been hit over the head with a pan whereas Harry’s fists were clenched and his expression hard. None of them spoke for a few minutes until Harry managed to say coldly, “You’re going to be living in the same house as Malfoy for a month?”

 

“Tha…that is the general idea.” Hermione replied meekly.

 

“The…The General idea!” Ron shouted, rendered incoherent by his disbelief, and made an involuntary move that seemed as if though he wanted to pounce on her and she instinctively stepped backwards as Harry caught hold of Ron. “Calm down, for Merlin’s sake!” he yelled, some of his anger finally screening. He turned to Hermione and said, “I won’t allow it,”

 

Hermione felt as if a cold bucket of water had just been thrown down her back. She always thought that Harry could understand her well, not perfectly but well. And she knew how much he knew that she wanted to go to this conference and yet, here he was now, telling her that he wouldn’t allow her to go?

Friendship be damned! Her feminist mind was screaming for her to retort back and when she could no longer ignore it she hissed, “Who are you to not allow me to do what I want? My father? I am going to that conference and you’re not going to stop me. Neither of you.”

 

“Do you have any idea who you are going to be sharing living accommodations with?” Harry yelled back. His green eyes were flashing dangerously but so were Hermione’s hazel ones.

 

“Yes I do! And in case you hadn’t noticed, I can take care of myself! I don’t need you and I don’t need anybody to protect me!” she shouted. Without warning, the bedroom door flung open and in came Ginny, her red hair flying behind her, looking breathless.

 

“I thought I heard…raised voices…” her voice tailed off timidly as she stared at the scene in front of her. Hermione was at one end of the room whilst Harry was restraining Ron at the other end. He let go of Ron who dusted himself off and looked at Ginny enquiringly. “Yeah? You have a message for us? Otherwise get out!” he ordered rudely.

 

“Yeah I do!” Ginny snapped back. “Mum says dinner’s ready.” She shot him a look of pure venom before stalking out, the door snapping loudly behind. A stony silence fell around the room and Hermione stared defiantly at Harry and Ron, her eyes demanding them to challenge her.

 

“Um, shall we go down for dinner now?” Ron asked after a few moments, his stomach grumbling loudly right on cue.

 

“You go. We’ll be down in a minute.” Harry said grimly. Ron left the room and Hermione knew where this was heading. He was going to give her a lecture and try to talk her out of the trip and she did not want to hear a word of it.

 

“Harry, if you’re going to try and persuade me not to go, save your breath. I’m not changing my mind.” She said and made to leave the room, but with a flick of his wand, Harry had locked the door. Exasperated, Hermione said, “Let. Me. Out.” She was facing the door and did not bother to look at him.

 

“Listen, Hermione!” Harry said urgently. She slowly turned round to face him. “I know that you’re still going to go, regardless of what anyone else says but bear this in mind: This is Malfoy you’re going to be spending a month with. He’s the son of a Death Eater and god only knows if he is one too. If he tries anything funny, for your own good tell me. Got that?”

 

Hermione was shooting him cold glares and he knew what she was about to say, but he beat her to it, “I more than know that you are capable of looking after yourself, Hermione, but please, I don’t want to see you get hurt. You mean too much to us all.”

 

Her anger died down and she smiled slightly before saying, “All right, I’ll write to you everyday if necessary.” Harry smiled and he went over and unlocked the door before putting an arm around her shoulders and walking out of the bedroom, the door closing with a creak behind them.

 

*

 

Malfoy watched them with contempt as they bid each other farewell. Hermione quickly hugged Ron and he teased her a little about being stuck with Malfoy, but it didn’t bother her though. She knew it was his way of saying he’ll miss her. The she hugged Harry, a little longer and a little tighter. She breathed in the sweet scent that was Harry and let his dark hair tickle her nose. They both promised to owl her daily but she merrily laughed, exclaiming that they were still being too overprotective.

 

They met up with McGonogal who gave Hermione an affectionate hug and nodded curtly at Draco, before they began what would turn out to be an interesting journey. McGonogal sat down with them in a compartment and talked to them for a while about what they had been up to and she was quite interested to hear about Draco’s healer job in Italy. He however, was feeling uneasy. Being sat in a compartment with Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonogal was not his idea of fun and under McGonogal’s intense scrutiny, he wanted nothing more than to just leave the compartment. Luckily, McGonogal left after a short while, to attend to the students and Draco breathed a sigh of relief.

 

Whilst McGonogal had spoken to them they had sat side-by-side but the compartment door was barely shut before Hermione jumped to across and took McGonogal’s empty seat, so she was sat directly across from him.

 

This turned out to be a mistake. Malfoy had had his eyes shut for the past ten minutes and she found herself watching him as he slept, calm and unassuming. She couldn’t help but to notice how much he had changed. The pointed features she remembered so well had softened and it made him more humanizing. He really was quite handsome in his own ‘bad-boy’ way.

 

His hair had become a little less platinum and a little more straw-coloured. When she had first laid eyes on him talking with Healer Connors, she had noticed that he had grown at least two feet and his voice had become considerably deeper. His body had developed, matured even. It went well with his face. She watched as he clenched and unclenched his jaw and she couldn’t help but to notice how soft and smooth his peachy lips seemed.

 

Suddenly realizing what she was doing, she shook her head, horrified. She had just been analysing Malfoy and she liked what she saw. Thank god Harry and Ron aren’t here to see this, she thought mercifully.

 

“You know, just because you think someone is sleeping, doesn’t make it any less eerie when you gawk at them for two hours,” Malfoy’s eyes snapped open and a knowing, pretentious grin spread across his face.

 

Damn! He caught me! Hermione thought and she scolded herself for letting her eyes linger too much where she knew they shouldn’t. She blushed crimson and retorted, “Actually, it wasn’t two hours, it was just a few minutes,”

 

Malfoy’s smirk spread even wider and she realized that her admission had not been the right thing to say. She buried her hands in a futile attempt to hide her face, which was slowly becoming a deeper shade of red. Draco couldn’t resist the opportunity to taunt her. “Don’t worry Granger,” he assured her, “I’d be the last person to tell anyone that you have a crush on me. After all, I do have a reputation to consider. I’ve got to admit however I am slightly surprised. I mean, I know I am devilishly handsome and all,” he leaned forward and gently pulled Hermione’s hands away so he could look directly into her wide eyes, “But I don’t even have a nasty scar on my head to impress you.” Her reaction was more emphatic than he had expected.

 

Actually, he hadn’t expected to provoke her this quickly. Hermione Granger was usually a tough cookie to crack. I must’ve really touched a nerve, he thought as this revelation sent a sharp pang throughout his body. She likes Potter, he realized and for some unfathomable reason, it bothered him so.

 

Perhaps it was because Hermione wasn’t doing the only staring that morning. To be honest, the only reason, he had had his eyes closed earlier was because it was the only way he could think of to stop himself from watching her. It was warm on the train and Hermione had removed her robes the moment she had stepped in the compartment. She was wearing a short denim skirt that reached above her knees and a white cotton blouse. It was the blouse that did it. Draco had always found these surprisingly simple apparel extremely sexy on woman and Hermione was no different. He could not take his eyes off her, as much as his mind screamed for him to.

 

As McGonogal asked pointless question after pointless question, Hermione kept absentmindedly crossing and uncrossing her legs as she sat next to him, her right foot bobbing up and down, her leg swung leisurely over her knee. Her legs were so long and toned. It was hypnotic. It was finally when her arm in her white cotton blouse had brushed against his shoulder that he could take no more. He closed his eyes so he could no longer watch her, but he could feel her warmth as she sat close to him. He had felt her jump from her seat and move away to the opposite seat. The compartment had seemed colder after that. He scolded himself for getting so worked up over Hermione Granger and shifted back to their relationship of open hostility.

 

Hermione tore her hands away from his smooth grasp and leaned forward so that they were mere inches apart and with unwavering determination retorted, “Harry doesn’t need anything to impress people. And he doesn’t have to prove anything because, scar or no scar, he will always be a better man than you.” She leaned back in her seat, crossed her arms across her chest and added with a condescending, forced smile, “And you know it.”

 

She had gotten her own back, there was no denying it and he did not retort but glared, reminding her so much of the snobby school teen she remembered so well. After that, the journey had dragged along uneventfully. Hermione read a book, whilst Draco lay across three seats and stared at the ceiling, deep in thought.

 


A/N: Boy, the staff here are good!! Anyways, I'd just like to point out that from here onwards, parts of the plot are copyright to Melissa D. If there is something you do not recognize, then it's mine. And as promsied, this chapter is dedicated to shmegalah who reviewed my previous chapter first. Thank you hun. Credit to LilyEvansPotter15 for the brilliant chapter image =)

Chapter 5: Chapter 5
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The train had dropped them off at a station similar to King’s cross and after bidding McGonogal farewell, they watched as the train rounded a corner and vanished from sight. Draco breathed in the fumes from the trains and he screwed his nose in disgust. He had never liked city life; it was far too busy, far too loud, far too filthy. He turned round to see Hermione beaming nostalgically as she stared round at the station. 
 
What the heck is she beaming about? He pondered. But he said, “Granger come on, if I stay in this muggle-infested dump another minute, I’ll die.” He got the expected glare and roll of the eyes but he led her out of the station and into the chilly Parisian afternoon. 

“How are we getting to the chateau?” she asked as she pulled her suitcase behind her. 

“Well, do you know anywhere where we can apparate without being seen in the middle of muggle Paris?” Draco asked irritably. She didn’t answer. “We have to get there the muggle way. We have to get those ridiculous muggle means of transport. The ones with the wheels, what are they called?” 

“Cars?” Hermione supplied. 

 “Yes them. You can deal with getting us a car, because I have no idea what to say to muggles.” 

Hermione simply stared at him as if he were mad. He was so narrow-minded! “Malfoy, they’re humans, they can speak a language that we understand. Besides, we have to get a taxi,” 

“A what?” Draco asked sharply, “What’s a taxi? Tax…Taxi..” he tried out the word on his tongue and he seemed to like it because she heard him muttering it over and over again, even after they had gotten into the taxi she had flagged down. The Taxi driver stared suspiciously at them as he watched Draco mutter the same word over and over. 

“You are English, No?” he asked as they drove around. His French accent was heavy and sounded very wrong speaking English. Hermione effectively stifled her giggle, “Yes we are,” she replied with a smile. 

“I visit England someday. I like to see Queen.” 

Draco turned to look at Hermione, a dumbfounded look on his face. “Who’s the Queen?” he asked stupidly, “We have no Queen…OW!” he said sharply for Hermione had just poked him in the ribs with her elbow. The taxi driver glanced at them over his shoulder suspiciously once more. 

 “What?” Draco mouthed at Hermione. 

 “You’re supposed to be an English muggle, not a pain-in-the-arse pureblood wizard,” she hissed and turned to stare out of the taxi window at the many familiar Parisian sights she had come to many times with her parents. Further and further away they went from the hustle and bustle of the main city and were now surrounded by the greenery of Parisian countryside. 

“How far is it?” Hermione asked Draco, after half an hour. He, who had had his eyes closed yet again, snapped them open and replied in a bored tone, “We’re almost there,”

 Another ten minutes later, and they were standing on the gravelled path to the Chateau. Hermione stared up at it in amazement. It was beautiful building, resembling a castle so much, with grey stonewalls that had roses growing on them. The many blossom trees in the front courtyard only added to the beauty of the house. Draco turned to look at her and saw the amazement upon her face and smirked his best, most condescending smirk. 

“Are you going to stand there gawking at it all day? You still haven’t seen the inside.” He snapped and with a wave of his wand, their bags disappeared and he began to walk up the path towards the marble staircase that lead to a set of beautiful, intricately carved, white oaken doors. 

 She hurried after him, asking, “Where’d my bag go?” 

“Where else? The room you’re going to be staying in.” he replied with a roll of his eyes. He opened the doors with another flick of his wand and he pushed them open before stepping in. He stared round at the house he remembered so well and many pleasant childhood memories flooded his thoughts. He hadn’t been here in ages! Not since he had finished Hogwarts. He heard a soft gasp behind him and he turned round to see Hermione staring round at the large Entrance Hall in awe. She looked like a little child in a sweet shop and he found it hard to remember that she was the mudblood he had tormented for so long. 

Suddenly, without warning, a delighted squeal sounded around the hall and Hermione was distracted from staring around and she searched for the source of the noise. Her eyes rested on a small elf running towards Malfoy and beaming up at him. Something stirred in the pit of her stomach; she had never liked elves working for wizards and she still did not approve of it. 

“Master Malfoy sir! ‘Tis a pleasure to see you again, sir. You have not visited the house in a long time sir. My, you’ve grown up, Master Malfoy.” The elf squeaked up at Malfoy. 


“Good to see you too Cici,” Malfoy said. The elf’s large grey eyes rested on Hermione and she turned to Draco knowingly who gave a laugh at the elf’s assumption. 

“Cici, I’d like you to meet Hermione Granger. Granger, this is our house elf Cici,” Draco introduced. 

 Hermione stepped forward and shook hands with the elf, noting how Malfoy’s behaviour towards this elf was extremely different to how Dobby had said Malfoy had treated him. “Pleased to meet you Cici,” she said. The elf bowed and said in reply, “ ‘Tis a pleasure to meet you too Miss Granger,” 

“Cici, could you please prepare us some dinner while I show Granger around the house?”  


The elf bowed once again and left. “Granger, follow me, I’ll show you around so you don’t get lost,” Draco said and began to make his way across the hall towards an oaken door to the right. Hermione followed suit and walked behind him. He took her to all four floors of the chateau and showed her the many lounges, bedrooms, bathrooms, the kitchen and the courtyards. He took her to her bedroom finally and opened the door for her. 
 
The room itself was magnificent and had all the Malfoy traits she expected; everything was dark green and black and on the wardrobe rested the Malfoy crest. She especially liked the balcony at one end of her room and as she pushed open the French doors and walked out, a wonderful sight greeted her. 

 “Hedwig!” she exclaimed as she laid eyes on Harry’s snowy owl. Draco, who had been sat on the bed and was watching her reaction closely came up behind her and said snidely, “Gee Granger, you’ve only been gone away for a few hours. How’s Potter going to survive a month?” 

 
Hermione was too busy reading Harry’s letter to even notice he had come out. 

 Hermione,

  I hope the train ride went all right. Did Malfoy try anything? Ron and me have had a bet to see how long you could last with Malfoy before hexing his face off. Ron said a day, I was a bit more realistic and said a week. The loser has to help Percy finish a report on Cauldron thickness. Anyways, how’s Malfoy’s chateau. Reply when you have the chance.

Love Harry. 


She smiled as she pictured Ron trying to stay awake as Percy went on about what to use as an appropriate title. It was then that she was aware of Malfoy reading the letter over her shoulder. Her breath hitched as she felt his sudden closeness, his chest gently touching her back as he breathed. Snap out of it, Hermione! This is Malfoy! She mentally scolded herself. 

 
“What are you doing?” she asked sharply, turning to face him, a livid expression upon her face. “This letter is private! How dare you...” 

 
“Relax Granger,” Draco sneered, sitting on a chair and gazing at the letter with disgust. “It’s not like I even wanted to see what sappy things your boyfriend’s written. I think I’ll probably throw up.” 

“Don’t say that.” Hermione said through gritted teeth. 

“What? I really would throw up from its sickeningly sweet goodness.” 

“No. Stop staying Harry’s my boyfriend. We’re not like that,” she paused and added slowly, “We never have been.” Feeling like she had revealed too much she turned her back to him and put the letter back into its envelope, but Draco would not let it lie. 

“Awwww, the dirty little mudblood can’t get the great Harry Potter to notice her,” he taunted and with disdain heavy on his tongue he added, “What a pity,” 

Hermione turned round sharply, her eyes hard and said in a slightly raised, slightly emphatic voice, “Get out Malfoy,” 

“No.” Draco replied simply, watching her with amusement. 

 Hermione whipped out her wand and pointed it dangerously at Draco’s face, advancing on him. I think you’re going to lose the bet, Harry, she thought bitterly. “Get. Out.” She repeated forcefully. 

Smirking at the fact that he had gotten under her skin for the second time that day, he began to walk towards the door, talking as he went, “Dinner will be ready in half an hour. I suggest you unpack and get ready.” 


But she did not go down to dinner. She was still in a bitter mood by the time she had finished unpacking and did not want to meet Malfoy’s smirking features for the rest of the day. She lay on her bed, writing a reply to Harry’s letter when Cici the house elf apparated into her room, a tray laden down with food in her hands. 

“Miss Hermione, Master Malfoy wishes you to eat. He says you will go hungry, Miss.” The elf squeaked and put the tray down at the foot of the bed and looked up at Hermione expectantly. Hermione did not want to let the elf’s work go to waste, so she smiled and said, “Thank you Cici,” 
 
“You’re welcome Miss,” The elf replied and disapparated with a bow. 

 She got up and stared down at the tray. Malfoy wished to her to eat? There surely must be a catch…maybe he poisoned the food? Her head laughed at her own assumption and her stomach grumbled painfully. Cautiously, she began to eat, her thought wandering to the blonde sat downstairs. 
____________________________________________________________


A/N: An uneventful chapter, I must admit. Sorry I haven't updated recently, but school holidays y'know? ^_^ Please remember to leave a review, Sera.
xx 

 
Credit goes to LilyEvansPotter15 @TDA for the fantasmic chapter image.


Chapter 6: Chapter six
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A glimmer of blue
Within a sea of grey
As stormy and wild as a dark winter day,
A sea of grey
Surrounds a glimmer of blue,within the depths lies the ghost of you


                                      Chapter 6:
                                      

Draco woke up to the sound of the rain lashing violently against his windows. Groaning, he sat up slightly, rubbing his eyes and running a hand through his dishevelled hair before falling back onto his pillows and staring at the ceiling, letting the lethargy slowly desert him. Finally he got up and made his way to the bathroom adjoining his room with Hermione’s. The rain lashing against his window was shielding the sound of running water from inside the bathroom and he slowly pushed the door open. 

 
The hot steam issuing from the shower made him fully aware that someone else was in here and he soon found that person. Hermione was stood just behind the shower wearing nothing but a black lace bra and matching panties. Her dishevelled dark hair was falling onto her smooth, milky shoulders. He let a gasp issue from his mouth as he stared at her lithe figure, unable to take his eyes off her long legs and breasts. 

 
Her head snapped up as she heard his gasp and she too seemed momentarily frozen as she stared at him, stood wearing nothing but a pair of silk, black boxer shorts. Her hazel eyes had widened and her mouth had become the shape of a perfect comical ‘O’. She recovered first, shaking her head and releasing a gasp of her own before she grabbed a towel and put it around her body, much to Draco’s disappointment, and turned to face him, a livid expression upon her face. 

 
“What on earth do you think you’re doing here?” she raged. 

But Draco could not form any coherent thoughts let alone words. Why does she have to look so cute when she’s angry? He thought and stared at how the towel she had wrapped around herself was slightly too small and only skimmed the top of her thigh. 
 
“Malfoy! Are you listening to me? Get out!” she screamed as she pulled her hair back into a high ponytail, letting a few tendrils fall about her face and neck, but all he could do was stare even more at her willowy arms and shoulders and imagine how provocative the back of her long slender neck would look had he been standing behind her. 
 
Realizing that he wasn’t listening, Hermione stormed towards him and brusquely put her hands on his smooth shoulders, turned him round and rudely pushed him out of the bathroom before closing the door with a snap and locking it. But all he was aware of was how warm her hands had been on his shoulders. 

Snap out of it! What would Salazar think if he could see you now gawking at Hermione Bloody Granger? Placing his head in his hands, he let out a groan and fell onto his bed and tried his hardest from imagining himself as a fly on the bathroom wall right now but failed miserably. All he could see was that willowy figure clad in nothing but lacy black underwear. He screamed into his pillows as he tried once again to get that image out of his head but failed once more. 

 
Half an hour later, when he was sure no one was in the bathroom, he went in and had a shower, trying to stop his mind from imagining what it would be like if the brunette he had seen earlier was in here with him. It really was quite annoying. 
 
When he was all done and dressed he went down to the kitchen to find Hermione sipping coffee at the table. She looked up when he came in, blushed a little, but said in a cheery voice, “Morning Malfoy,” 

She was acting like nothing had happened and they seemed to have reached an unspoken truce not to mention what had happened, which was fine by him. “Morning Granger,” he replied casually and sat down at the kitchen counter, pulling a croissant on a plate towards him. 

“So…what do we have today?” she asked hesitantly, still unsure of whether she should be speaking to him like this. 

“Hmm? Oh well, the first discussion of the entire conference begins today in Lyons, so we’re going there.” He replied absent-minded. All Hermione could do was nod and face the awkward silence that had settled. As soon as she had finished her breakfast, she raced up to her room to get ready for the discussion. She wore some comfortable skinny jeans, a warm white turtleneck and black heels before flinging her cloak around herself. Grabbing her bag, she raced back down and found that Malfoy had already changed and was waiting for her in the lounge, where he was sat reading The Daily Prophet. He looked up as she came in and got up.

 
“We’re going by Floo powder,” he said. “Just copy me and you should end up at the right place,” he stepped into the fire grate, threw some powder into the grate and said a place name in French and a roaring green fire erupted from nowhere and swallowed him in a flash of green flames. Hesitantly, she did the same and was soon experiencing the dizzying sensation of travelling by Floo Powder. She had never like travelling by Floo she had always preferred Apparating. Finally, when she stopped spinning, she clumsily stepped out of the fireplace and almost fell over but a pair of warm soft hands caught hers and balanced her. He head was still spinning and she was still feeling awkward on her feet, but she looked up into the face of the person who had stopped her from falling, expecting to see Malfoy, but found a pair of concerned azure eyes. 

“Excuze me Miss, but are you okay?” a soft voice laced with an elegant French accent asked. Shaking her head to get rid of the spinning sensation Hermione finally stared properly at the person who now held her hands. It was a young, French man, so much resembling Harry. He had dark, messy brown hair, mesmerizing azure eyes, a strong jaw and unbelievably delicate features. It seemed god had spent a bit more time and effort into this one, so all she could do was simply gape at the splendour in front of her. 

She must’ve looked like a right idiot because the French man’s eyes clouded with concern, becoming a darker shade of blue and he asked anxiously, “ Miss, are you okay?” shaking her head, Hermione willed herself to close her mouth so she didn’t resemble a goldfish so much. 

“Yes, I’m fine, thank you. And thank you for catching me before I fell.” She added with a smile. “I’m Hermione Granger, by the way.” She stuck her hand out for him to shake, which he did and she felt a surge of warmth creep up her arm as she felt his smooth warm hand again. 

“Bonjour Mademoiselle Granger, I’m Jasper Lesair,” He smiled, a good-natured smile that showed off his perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth that would’ve made her dentist parents proud. She felt a flutter travel from her stomach down to her toes and back, making her heart race quickly. 

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” she smiled, regaining some self-control. 

“You too. I hope you don’t mind me speaking in English, it’s just that I have been hoping to improve my English, except that I hardly know anyone who can speak it,” He laughed.

“You don’t need to improve. It’s excellent anyway.” She commented.

“You are too kind. So, I am to take it you are from the renowned St. Mungo’s hospital in England, no?” 

She was too busy talking to Jasper that she completely forgot about Draco and where he had got to. She felt perfectly at ease around Jasper, he was sweet, funny, an attentive listener and an endless well of compliments. And he resembled Harry so much. She laughed at all the jokes he told, enchanted by the elegance of his voice like a snake to its charmer’s flute. They had sat down at a table and talked pleasantly and soon it felt like everyone else in the room had vanished and it was only them, sat talking. 

But there were others in the room, including a blonde Slytherin. He had stepped out of the fire grate gracefully and turned round to wait for Granger to arrive, when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder. He turned round to see a stunning, leggy, young blonde woman, dressed in dress robes of finest material in a rich burgundy colour. He did not know why but she seemed familiar. His attention momentarily distracted, he stared curiously at the blonde. 

“Hello, I’m Gabriella Laverne. You must be the English representative,” she smiled. Her English was perfect but a light, barely noticeable French accent could be heard within the dulcet tones of her voice. 

“Yes I am. Pleased to meet you Miss Laverne,” he shook her soft, long-fingered hand. He glanced round to see if Hermione had come already but still no sign of her. Gabriella took note of this gesture. “You seem to be waiting for someone.” She stated coolly. 
 
“Yes I am.” He replied, glancing again not bothering to mention Hermione’s name. 
 

“Let me show you around first. There are many people I’d like you to meet,” and she gracefully looped her arm through his and walked him away, not needing oral consent for Draco’s hungry eyes were enough an answer. And so she had taken him for a stroll around the large hall, introducing him to the many influential people she knew. Apparently, it turned out Gabriella Laverne was the French Minister’s daughter. No wonder she seemed familiar. And so Hermione was forgotten. He didn’t care; she would come eventually. 

It was not until quite a while later when he was talking to Gabriella all by himself, that he heard a soft, familiar laugh. He turned round to see Hermione, sat down at a table laughing at a joke a dark, haired young man had just said. He let a small, horrified gasp escape his lips as he stared at the dark stranger. He looked so much like Potter, with the exception of the glasses and that horrid scar. 

“Who the bloody hell is that?” the words escaped his mouth with such venom before he could stop them. Realising Draco’s full attention weren’t focused on her, Gabriella turned round to see whom Draco was talking about and her eyes found Hermione and Jasper. 

“Oh that, That’s Jasper Lesair. He’s my partner; we work at the same hospital. He’s our hospital’s leading healer. Besides, Monsieur Nicholas” she said dismissively, but noticed Draco’s firm gaze on the pretty brunette sat with Jasper. Her eyes narrowed. “That girl…she’s not your girlfriend is she?” she pouted, unsure of what she wanted to hear. 

 
Draco turned back to Gabriella and looked at her disdainfully before saying a bit too emphatically, “Granger? My girlfriend? Bite your tongue.” But he couldn’t help but to steal continuous glances back at the pair who seemed so comfortable with each other’s presence. He did not like how the Potter proxy kept on leaning towards Hermione and absent-mindedly touching her arm or shoulder frequently, especially when the image of Hermione in her lacy underwear kept on popping up in his mind. Feeling Gabriella’s gaze was on him, he turned round to face her, put on a smile and to disguise the fact that he hadn’t been paying attention and asked her a question.  “Your English is superb, Gabriella. Where did you learn to speak it?” 

 
He was too busy staring at Hermione and Jasper to taken in her reply. 

 

 
Through her conversation with Jasper, Hermione felt a familiar sensation sweep over her. She quickly realized it; it was the consciousness of being watched by those pair of mesmerizing silver eyes. Subtly, pretending to listen to Jasper talk about how he had helped perform a miracle operation, she stared ahead to see Draco’s piercing silver gaze scrutinizing her coldly. She met the silver veil that was his eyes and it snapped at her face angrily, causing a faint blush to creep up her face. She turned back round and nodded at something Jasper said. She pretended to listen for a few more minutes, but she was slowly waiting for those silver eyes to avert. They gradually did and she stared once more at Draco, only to finally notice whom he was with. It was a girl. Her insides squirmed angrily as she continued to stare at how the girl leaned in close to Draco, her ear at the bottom of his ear to whisper something to him. Her whole body burned with jealousy and she forced herself not to jump up and go over. She stared at the Blonde; legs a mile long, hair that seemed so perfect that not a single hair was out of place, stunning features to match her stunning willowy body, a small waist that led off to curvy hips and eyes that seemed a mixture of blue and green. 


She suddenly realized that Jasper had stopped talking and she turned to face him, “Who is that by the way?” she asked nodding towards Draco and the blonde. 

 “The Blonde boy?” Jasper asked suspiciously. 

“No. That’s Draco. I meant the girl.” Hermione replied watching Gabriella with narrowed eyes. 

 
“That is Gabriella, she’s the French Minister’s daughter and works at the same hospital as I. We’re here as partners for the conference.” He replied, watching her reaction curiously, but Hermione had already set up a disguise of innocent curiosity. He fell for it. 

“I see.” She replied slowly. “Well, nice to see Draco’s making friends,” she added in a false, cheery voice that Jasper could see was forced. 

“He is your boyfriend?” He asked, biting his lower lip as he waited for her reply. 

“What?!” Hermione exclaimed. “Malfoy is not my boyfriend! I have hated him since I was eleven and things will remain that way for a very long time.” She said far too vehemently for Jasper to completely believe it. Little did she know that her testimony to ‘Malfoy and I will hate each other for a very long time’ was going to be put to the limits. 

*

A/N: Hey, yeah, so sorry I haven't been udating as recently, but I have a biology exam on the 22nd and I'm highly nervous as biologuy really isn't my strongest subject and I've been revising like hell -_-
What did you think of my little poem at the start? I wrote it like a month ago whilst staring at a picture of Malfoy and thought it fit. Please remember to leave a review then and until the next update. Sera x


Thanks to Ashley (LilyEvansPotter154 @ TDA) for the gorgeous chapter image.

Chapter 7: Chapter seven
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Fatigue eating away at her, Hermione immediately went over to the couch and fell down, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples. Today had been their third day of the conference and it had been located in Nice. Although it had been wonderful to meet all the world-renowned healers and hear them talk of all the things they had done in their prime, it took a lot out of her to make notes for every lecture, move between theatres to see different healers and try to remain with Draco and Jasper. The last thing was proving to be the hardest. From the moment Draco had met Jasper, he had taken an instant disliking to him for reasons she could not fathom. And so he refused to remain within Jasper’s presence for longer than two minutes, which complicated things for Hermione. She had to remain with Draco so they could take notes together and discuss what to and what not to put in their presentation, but she also wanted Jasper’s presence around her. Gabriella didn’t make things any easier; she was constantly around Draco and Hermione had not taken a liking to her. She had caught her and some of her other ‘plastic perfect’ friends snickering at her hair and French accent.

 

She opened her eyes to find Draco towering over her, a coy smirk upon his features. “What?” she asked wearily.

 

“Nothing. I was just surprised that you could get this tired from a few lectures. I saw you at Hogwarts, Granger and you used to study a hell lot more than you do now and you still didn’t seem tired. Has indolence begin to somehow humanize your life?” he asked innocently and moved her legs and sat down on the couch. Hermione laid her legs across his lap and said, “I used to drink three cups of coffee in the morning to wake me up. The grades were worth it though.” She smiled reminiscently and it stirred something in Draco to see her looking so sweet, engulfed by pleasant memories.

 

“I still got good grades without missing a second of my much-needed beauty-sleep,” he grinned.

 

“Stop lying Malfoy. During our NEWTs you were always in the library until midnight, studying your posh, designer pants off. I should know, I saw you in there everyday.” She replied with a smirk of her own.

 

“And just how do you know that I wear posh, designer pants? Or that I wear pants in the first place? Maybe I don’t.” He watched with pleasure and amusement as she flushed red at his comment and replied in a meek voice, “The shower incident assured me that you wear pants- boxers to be precise. Whether they were designer I don’t know, but they seemed posh.” Realising that once again this had not been the right thing to say, she got off the couch and practically fled the drawing room, leaving Draco chuckling lightly.

 

Simply thinking about the shower incident made that underwear-clad image of Hermione pop into his head again and he knew that it was no use to try and block it. It just ended up leaving him with a headache.

 

He called for Cici and instructed her to prepare them dinner before going upstairs for a shower. He checked whether Hermione was in first though; she wasn’t. He emerged an hour later, smelling of subtle, expensive cologne and looking refreshed. Cici announced dinner was ready and he went to call Hermione. Gently knocking on her door, he waited for a reply.

 

“Come in,” she called from inside. He pushed the door open and stepped in. She had already taken the liberty to make the room less Malfoy-ish as possible and more homey. Already the Gryffindor flag was stuck on the wall above the bed and several pictures of her family and friends. She had magically changed the walls from a deep green to calming Lavender.

 

“Hey! What on earth happened here?” he asked, slightly indignant. Hermione, hidden from view by her wardrobe door said, “I decided it was too dark for me,”

 

“You’re gonna put it back right? When we leave.” A skirt was thrown over her head onto the floor and joined the big pile of clothes she had been unsatisfied with.

 

“Of course I am. I don’t think you’re too fond of that Gryffindor flag,” she replied, her voice muffled.

 

“You’re right. I’m not” he lay down on the bed and watched as she threw another garment over her head. “What on earth are you doing?”

 

“I’m looking for something suitable to wear tonight,” was the reply he got.

 

“Why? We’re just having dinner tonight.” Hermione turned round to face him, a slightly guilty look upon her features.

 

“Well, I’m..um…I’m not going to be here for dinner. Jasper invited me out,” she said hesitantly. Draco’s eyes hardened and he sat up. She watched as he massaged a fist and replied in a forced, calm voice, “That’s fine. As long as he doesn’t loiter around here too long. You take him out as soon as he gets here. When is he coming by the way?”

 

“Um…he should be here in half an hour. And I still haven’t found anything to wear!” she moaned.

 

Draco knew how to resolve that problem. His mother had left behind an entire boutique’s worth of clothes, all the most beautiful designs and all designer. She especially had this magnificent, r dress that she had looked stunning in. The dress would look beautiful on Hermione, but he would not allow her to wear it for the pleasure of Lesair. He would just give her something random from his mother’s wardrobe. He took her to his mother’s unused room and opened the wardrobe for her and told her to choose something, before leaving her alone and going down to silently eat his dinner whilst thinking of several slow and painful deaths for Jasper Lesair.

 

He did not see what Hermione saw in him. He was just another slick Frenchman with good hair, brilliant eyes and resembled Harry Potter. Maybe that was why she liked him. But Draco had to admit, if he were gay he would definitely fantasise about Lesair. This thought disgusted him and soon it had corrupted his mind and he could not block it out. Just as he was about to finish dinner, Hermione coyly walked in, looking innocently gorgeous in a navy pencil skirt just above her knees, a cream, silk, tiered camisole and black heels. Half of her hair had been pulled back and secured with a clip whilst the other half fell about her shoulders in elaborate, dark curls.

 

“Wow,” he said quietly to himself as she came in. She gave a twirl and looked at him expectantly, “Well? What d’you think?”

 

Regaining his cool, aloof composure he said, “It’s nice,” He had deliberately avoided using the sentence ‘You look nice’ because a) It was an understatement. And b) He was trying to convince himself he did not like Hermione Granger.

 

She half smiled at him before taking a seat near him at the dinner table. She was about to open her mouth and say something when a snowy white owl flew in and landed in front of them on the table, ruffling its feathers and managing to land them in Draco’s soup. Draco disgustedly pushed the soup away from him and glared at Potter’s owl.

 

Already Hermione had been receiving numerous owls in the morning and at night and he, Draco had received nothing. Not even from his dear mother. It was more than frustrating to see several owls zoom in and out of chateau all bearing news and gossip for Hermione whereas he got nothing. It always put him in a crappy mood to see her friend’s owls but it was Potter’s owl that incensed him. Resentfully watching, he saw Hermione laugh at what Potter had written and give his owl an affectionate scratch behind the ears before it took off.

 

“Is Potter taking up comedy?” he snarled once Hedwig had gone. Hermione knew he was cranky because he hadn’t gotten any letters and she decided not to retort. She felt sorry for him; he probably had people to write to, but it seemed they couldn’t be bothered to write and check on him every once in a while and asking how the conference was going. She looked at him pityingly and said, “No, nothing like that. Just Ron in a funny situation,”

 

Draco merrily grumbled under his breath and although she couldn’t discern most of what he had said, she heard the words, “Weasley” and “Wanker”.

 

Before she could come to her friend’s defence, there was an outburst of green flames in the fireplace and out walked Jasper, looking very appealing in Black Jeans, a white shirt and a greyish-blue Mac. Hermione stood up and went up to him and he stooped to kiss her cheek.

 

“My, don’t you look stunning tonight,” he whispered softly in her ear, his warm soft lips brushing the silkily smooth skin below her ear.

 

“You don’t look too bad yourself, Monsieur Lesair.” She whispered and drew back from him.

 

“Draco,” Jasper acknowledged Draco, who against his own will raised a Firewhisky and nodded towards him. “Jasper,” he said, remembering to tell Cici to disinfect the dining room later as to get rid of any Jasper contamination that might get him.

 

Feeling the tension, Hermione quickly grabbed her handbag from her seat and said to Draco, “We  might be a bit late, so there’s no need to stay up. We’ll review our notes tomorrow.”

 

“I had no intention of staying up,” Draco replied coldly. Hermione and Jasper ignored him and together they disappeared into the flames. Sighing, Draco buried his head in his hands and groaned. He left the dining room and went to drawing room and continued to drink his Firewhisky in front of the fire until, fatigue and effects of the Firewhisky let him fall asleep on the couch.

 

He woke up several hours later to find himself engulfed in silence and darkness, the only source of light coming from the last dying flames of the fire, dancing wildly before they slowly withered into dying ashes. Suddenly aware that someone had draped him in a warm blanket, he sat up and blindly looked around into the dark. He heard a rustle of paper from beneath him and he began to feel around for a paper but to no avail, he could see nothing. Groping for his wand at the coffee table he found it and whispered, “Lumos” The sudden bright light blinded him momentarily and his eyes hurt but he quickly adjusted to the light and looked for the piece of paper.

 

He found it and read it by the light of his wand.

 

I just came back. I noticed you were sleeping and I didn’t want to wake you up. Hermione.

 

He screwed up the letter and threw it into the dead fire. He had no use for it. It had probably been her who had put the blanket on him, but it was hard to feel grateful as he considered what she and the Frenchman had gotten up to last night. And it was that jealousy and desire to know that infuriated him; why should he care what the mudblood got up to last night with some pretty, French boy? He didn’t really care, did he?

 

But as he lay back down on the couch and stared up at the black ceiling, he couldn’t help but to think that he needed to spend more ‘intimate’ time with Gabriella in plain view of Hermione.


 




 

A/N: Firstly, I’d like to thank all of you who gave me good luck messages for my biology exam. Thankfully it’s over and done with and I can return to my stories. Special thanks must go to Janelle for her offered help, this chapter’s for you, Hun. Right, so initially, they were to stay in France for a month but I have now extended it to six weeks for reasons that will be made clearer later on in the story. Reviews are much loved, so please take a few seconds to write me one as I love reading them ^____^ Sera xx
 You should all know who made this luffly chapter image by now. Thanks LilyEvansPotter15.
 

 

Chapter 8: Chapter eight
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Hermione had finally discovered the chateau’s library and she remained in there for the majority of her time once she came back from the lectures. Draco would sit in a comfortable chintz reading chair and watch as she would take notes and read, biting his lip as he gazed at how she would lace her fingers in her dark hair, twist it round, piling it on top of her head before letting it tumble back down. He continued to watch her do this for a very long time, entranced by this simple gesture. His mind made a mental note of how she would bite her lower lip when she thought; he found this extremely provocative. He was too busy watching her to notice the big book she kept on reading everyday.

 

It was one rainy Sunday afternoon, a week after they had arrived, that he was surprised to see Hermione leaving her desk and nervously walking over to him. He looked up curiously from the book he was reading and raised an eyebrow in question.

 

“Um…Malfoy, do you mind if I take a look through your notes. I think I missed something Healer Boissone might’ve said,” she said nervously playing with her fingers.

 

“But isn’t that cheating?” he asked, a childish smirk upon his features. “What would your dear friends think if they knew that you were cheating with the help of a sneaky Slytherin? They probably won’t talk to you for a week. Actually, that’s not such a bad thing; then those blasted owls won’t keep on flying in and out all day. All right Granger, you’ve got me convinced,”

 

But Hermione had turned back to her chair and was shaking in anxiety. The only reason she needed his notes was because she was having difficulty deciphering her own French notes. The lectures were all in French and the healers all spoke so fast, she was finding it hard to even follow what they were saying. She let a tear slip from her eye and she brushed it away forcefully.

 

Draco did not know what had gotten into her; he had never seen her so unguarded before, so vulnerable. She was looking more distraught than he had ever seen her and did not seem right to twist any more knives. He walked over to her chair and silently handed his notes to her. She looked up into his cool grey eyes, sniffled a little and whispered hoarsely. “Thank you.”

 

Her shoulders relaxed a little and she leaned back in her chair as her glistening eyes moved over the pieces of parchment. She tensed slightly. “These notes are in French.”

 

“Yeah, I know,” he answered. “It’s just easier for me to take them in French. Don’t you think it’s a lot of extra work listening in French, writing them in English only to translate them back into French? I know you like homework Granger, but even that’s pushing it a bit,” He was about to go back to his seat when he caught sight of the book Hermione had been leafing through for the past few days. It was an English- French dictionary and it all made sense to him. He whirled round, unable to stop the taunting, “You can’t Understand French can you? That’s why you never ask questions at the lectures and that’s why you need my notes. Aren’t you supposed to be smart or something?”

 

“I can understand French!” she said vehemently and stood up, “This is just here just in case I need it. In fact, I’ve barely touched it,” she lied and he could tell and smirked. She looked away dejectedly, “The healers just speak so fast, it’s hard for me to understand what they’re saying all the time.”

 

Draco sat down in the seat opposite Hermione. “So when Healer Connors asked us if we were fluent in French, you just lied.” With mock astonishment, Draco raised a hand to his mouth, “I think the world just turned upside down, because the goody goody Gryffindor fibbed. What would your dear Harry think if he heard of such fabrications?” he cocked his head and surveyed her with interest. “Deceit and treachery are Slytherin traits. I daresay, what else have you been lying about Granger? What other skeletons are in that pristine-looking closet of yours?”

 

Hermione sat back down and said wearily, “I didn’t actually lie. I just sort of underestimated my knowledge of French that’s all.”

 

“Ahhh, rationalizations. Yet another fine Slytherin attribute. Are you sure the sorting hat put you in the right house?”

 

“Oh shut up, Malfoy! I happen to know that you don’t know how to concoct an antidote for a simple poison. And I wonder how you managed to get an ‘exceeds exception’ for your NEWT potions. Then again, being Snape’s favourite and bribery goes a long way,” she added in a mutter under her breath that she intended for Draco to hear.

 

“So what? All it means is that cooking up potions is not my cup of tea,” he said matter-of-factly. “At least I didn’t lie about my potions knowledge to get here”

 

“Will you stop fixating on that? That’s not even the point.” She took a brief pause to collect her thoughts. “Look Malfoy, it seems that we each seem to possess something the other wants.”

 

He grinned slyly and leaned over the table towards her, his breath hot on her neck, “Gee Granger, and I thought blondes weren’t your type.”

 

“Ha ha,” she said sarcastically and leaned back in her chair and looked him straight in the eye, “I need your help with French and you need help with potions. As long as we’re here, we’ll help each other out, discreetly of course and nobody has to know about any of our…”

 

“Trickeries? Deceits? Falsehoods? Nasty indiscretions? He offered smugly.

 

“Actually, I was thinking of ‘shortcomings’ but nasty really captures your essence,” she grinned.

 

“Why don’t you just get pretty boy Lesair to help you? I’m sure he’d be more than willing to tutor you on the more finer points of the language of love,” he made kissy faces at her and started making smooching noises and she had to bite back a laugh as she stared at his careless stupidity.

 

“Come on, stop.” Hermione chuckled after a while and Draco prudently stopped. He stuck his hand across the table, waiting for her to shake it, “So, it’s a deal?” She hesitated, but then cautiously she reached across and took his hand in hers.

 

“Did it just get colder in here?” he asked honestly.

 

She considered it, but hadn’t noticed any change. “No, why?”

 

His eyes sparkled and he grinned, “Because I think hell just froze over.”

 

She smiled slightly and she slowly pulled her hand from his warm one to gather up her notes so they could get to work. But first the question she had been dying to ask, “Malfoy, just where did you learn to speak French so brilliantly?”

 

Shrugging his shoulders, he replied, “One of my au pairs when I was little was French. She taught me until I went to Hogwarts. Once I started school, I asked my father if she could come back in the summers to give me additional help.”

 

Hermione laughed, “Well, who would’ve thought Draco Malfoy would willingly do extra studying all on his own in the summer? I never would’ve thought it possible.”

 

His voice dripping with sarcasm, he dramatically cried, “What? I crave knowledge Granger. Learning fills my soul. It is my only reason for existence,” he grinned as Hermione began to laugh before a lascivious smile spread across his face, “Plus, you’ve never seen Isabel. She had the biggest set of…”

 

“All right! All right! I don’t need to hear the crude details of your prepubescent existence. Let’s just start okay?” she laughed, pulling a new piece of parchment and quill, ready to study. She smiled softly, the tension having lifted a little and Draco laughed slightly, feeling more at ease as well.

 

*

 

It was past midnight but Hermione and Draco were both awake, going over their notes down in the drawing room. “I’m so tired,” Hermione yawned covering her mouth with her hand. “I could do with some coffee,”

 

“Do you want some?” Draco asked, grabbing his wand.

 

“No, no, it’s fine. I just want to go to sleep but we’ve got so much notes to review.”

 

They were going over some plants used in medicinal potions, but she was finding it hard to keep her eyes open and it was only Draco’s foolish antics that managed to keep her awake. She was surprised at how well she was getting along with him and how at ease he made her feel. She groaned and slumped onto the couch. Draco got up off the floor and sat on the edge of the couch and looked down at her.

 

“We don’t have to finish these today you know, it isn’t a big deal.” He remarked.

 

“Better to get it over and done with though,” she smiled wearily, but her eyelids were drooping and she stifled another yawn. “Give me my book,”

 

“No.” Draco replied simply.

 

“Give me my book,” she repeated forcefully.

 

“No.” he repeated, staring down at her glaring form. The only source of light was from the fire and the one candle on the coffee table and the dancing flames were glittering in her eyes, her dark hair falling into them. There was a burning desire in him and it was aching him to simply stare at her. Impulse was throbbing fiercely throughout his entire body.

 

“Give me my..” but before she could finish her sentence, she felt his smooth, warm lips upon hers and everything was wiped from her head. She lay there shocked, her eyes wide, unsure of what to do. When she could no longer resist his sweet lips she closed her eyes and kissed him back hungrily, a warm glow flowing through her body.  And quite suddenly she pulled back, her conscience back in tact, screaming at her that what was doing was wrong. Draco, his heart beating rapidly, bit his lip and stared at her, the question plain in his eyes. He slowly raised a hand and ran his fingers gently down her temples to her jaw.

 

She was about to respond when a large bird swooped in, dropped a letter on Draco’s lap and rested on the coffee table. Draco immediately recognized it as Blaise’ owl and he retracted his hand quickly, like he had been caught in a compromising situation by a person and not just a bird.

 

He got off the couch, rubbed the owl behind the ears before it took flight and he opened the letter and read. His back stiffened with every word and his eyes turned four shades darker. Finally when he was finished reading the letter, he turned to glance at Hermione, a look of pure contempt upon his face.

 

“It figures,” he sneered and stalked out of the room leaving an utterly confused Hermione.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

A/N: Da da! What was in the letter, I hear you ask? Well, you’ll have to wait for the next chapter I’m afraid…and so begins the fragile détente between the two. Sorry for not updating earlier but I was busy and when I wasn’t occupied I was simply too lazy to update. Please don’t hate me. Sorry for the short chapter but I think the next one will be somewhat longer. Until the next update… which will be soon, me thinks.
Ash made the awesome chapter image =) Known as LilyEvansPotter15 at TDA.
 

-Sera :D

 

Chapter 9: Chapter nine
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Hermione woke up early, still confused from last night’s bizarre events. But the look of utter hate directed towards her had been eating away at her all night. He had kissed her only seconds earlier and touched her in a way that had sent shivers down her spine yet made her unbelievably warm and after the arrival of that letter, he had glared daggers at her. Something in the letter must’ve incensed him. But what?

 

He was silent throughout breakfast and when she tried to make conversation with him, he rudely told her to piss off. She became irked with him from then, which was fine just for him. He didn’t want to talk to her and if she didn’t want to, it made things a whole lot easier. Hermione simply wanted to know why he was in such a foul mood and why he was taking his irritation out on her. Again, the only reason she could think of was the letter. What had enraged him so?

 

He left for the lecture, held in Dijon today, before she was even ready and when she got there, she found Gabriella fawning all over him. She frowned and went to find Jasper. He was at a cute café just outside the lecture theatre, enjoying a cup of coffee and a pastry out in the early morning sun.

 

“Hi,” she said dejectedly and sat down in a chair opposite. He looked gorgeous with his blue eyes glittering in the sunlight, his hair messy as ever, falling into his eyes. She was already starting to feel better. His mere presence was intoxicating.

 

“Bonjour Hermione. Whatever is the matter?” he asked sympathetically as he looked at her sulky face.

 

“Draco,” Hermione spat. “He’s being treating me like a bloody pariah all morning over some stupid letter.” She sighed before smiling wearily, “Sorry you have to hear me go on like this. How are you by the way?”

 

After her conversation with Jasper she was feeling heaps better. At least he knew how to treat a lady, unlike some blonde, egotistical idiot, she thought scornfully as she caught sight of Draco and Gabriella once they were back in the lecture theatre. Gabriella caught Hermione and Draco glaring at each other and she watched on curiously. The pair had been getting along like honey on toast for the past few days, why the sudden change of heart?

 

“Are you and Hermione okay?” she asked hesitantly, pretending to take notes as a German healer rambled on at the front.

 

“Huh?” Draco looked up, “Oh that…yes everything’s fine.” He was lying and she knew it, but didn’t push the topic further. Later it was announced that they were to be taking a trip to a museum, so that the foreign students would get a taste of French, magical monuments. Hermione was so excited and she turned to Jasper beaming happily.

 

“This is wonderful! I didn’t know we got to go on field trips,” she exclaimed as she fastened her coat, ready to go walking towards the museum which they were informed was only a few minutes walk from the lecture theatre.

 

“I think you’ll love it,” Jasper smiled and put his arm about Hermione’s waist before they walked off. Feeling that familiar sensation again, Hermione felt Draco’s eyes on her back. Her pulse quickened and she willed herself not to turn round and stare back at him, but the impulse became too strong to control and she glanced back at him. His cool grey eyes were as dark as the sea on a stormy day and she caught him glaring at her and Jasper. He caught her eye and continued to stare ahead, his eyes darker than ever. She blushed lightly under his intense gaze and turned back to Jasper, but not before she caught sight of his and Gabriella’s hands laced together. Her insides blazed with jealousy and she fought hard to push that burning feeling away but to no avail. It refused to cease.

 

The trip to the museum was brilliant and Hermione was in awe by the end of it. She had never before visited a magical museum and she was filled with childish glee as she stared at all the exhibitions, feeling just like Ron when he had first entered HoneyDukes. Her pleasure was cut short when she returned to chateau and faced Draco again. He would not talk to her, he would not look her in the eye and it was infuriating to let him treat her like this without knowing why. Why? Why? She had been able to answer most questions starting with that one little word but for once this was a question that only Malfoy knew the answer to.

 

Dinner was a subdued affair. Draco sat at one end of the table, whereas Hermione sat at the other end, almost on the other side of the room. When they were finished, Draco made to get up and leave but Hermione ran after him and caught his arm, no longer bearing the thirst for the answer to his moody jackass behaviour. He ignored the warmth that spread through his arm from her touch and turned round to glare at her.

 

“Will you stop acting like such an idiot and tell me why you won’t speak to me?” she asked, her eyes pleading for an answer. But he wouldn’t look into them. He looked away and hissed quietly, “Take a hike, mudblood.”

 

Hermione stared at him in bewilderment, her eyes watering. What had happened to the Malfoy she had taught about common antidote potions and the one that had helped her learn French words by connecting them to Hogwarts students? A tear escaped her eye and slid down her cheek and she forcefully shoved Draco’s arm out of her grasp and said in a hurt voice, “Fine! Have it your way!” and she rushed out of the dining room and out of sight, but not before he heard her sniff back a sob and he groaned, banging his fist on the table.

 

*

 

Hermione walked out into the chilly courtyard and stared round at the several blossom trees engulfed by the darkness of the night. Up above, the sky was a mixture of clouds, moon and stars. She sat down at a bench and hugged her knees close to her chest, shivering slightly from the cold. She breathed in the scent of her Gryffindor sweatshirt and another tear escaped her eye and slid down to her lips where she tasted its saltiness. Harry had given her this sweatshirt at the end of Hogwarts and it still fit and miraculously, it still smelt of Harry.

 

She wished she were back with him, back in England living her life, away from Malfoy. Away from his prejudice and egotism, away from the chateau, away from Gabriella, away from everything that had to do with him. But as she closed her eyes and buried her head between her knees, she imagined she could still smell his subtle, expensive cologne and she imagined the sensation of how it always made her light-headed and dizzy. There were as many things she liked about him, as she hated. His knowledge and wit for one, he had been the only one to challenge her intelligence during Hogwarts and she had stumbled across one of his stories in the library the other day and his way with words had made her gape; he was naturally talented. His sly sense of humour for another, although she had despised the sick sense of humour he had possessed during Hogwarts, it had now changed into good-natured humour and he was always cracking jokes and making her laugh. He was also hard working, headstrong and independent, much as she was. And the fact that he was too good-looking for his own good did not help either.

 

Rubbing her arms with her hands to keep herself warm, she got up and walked around the dark courtyard, stopping frequently to stare at something or the other. When it began to get too cold for her liking she went back into the chateau and decide to go to the library where she would review her notes alone, with difficulty, as Malfoy wouldn’t be helping her, the arrogant imbecile.

 

*

 

Things did not improve the following day and soon it was not only Draco who was irritable. Hermione soon took to imitating him by pretending that he didn’t exist. This thoroughly pissed Draco off. They returned to the chateau from the Marseilles lecture both in cross moods and to add to Draco’s already close-to-snapping temper, Jasper appeared to take Hermione out. He clenched his fists as he saw them depart and when they were gone, he punched a nearby wall, doing nothing for his bad mood and only achieving a throbbing pain in his knuckles.

 

He sat in the lounge all evening, his eyes closed, desperately trying not to imagine what Hermione might be up to with that prat at the moment. It was late into the night, just as he was about to nod off and go to sleep that he heard voices in the hall outside. He quietly moved around the room to get to the door and he was surprised to find that the voices were coming from behind the door. He immediately distinguished them.

 

“You’re very pretty, Hermione,” he heard Jasper’s voice. He knew that at this moment Hermione would be blushing furiously; she always lost control of herself around the bloody Frenchman. He heard her mumble a thank you and then the shuffling of feet could be heard. His insides bubbling restlessly, he pulled the doors open and watched with satisfaction as Hermione and Jasper jumped apart before their lips could meet.

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry! Was I interrupting?” he asked in a convincingly innocent surprised voice. Jasper looked at him with a slight glare and dug his hands in his pockets, keeping silent whereas Hermione knew that he was putting on an act.

 

“As a matter of fact you were interrupting something very important!” she spat vehemently.

 

“My deepest apologies then,” he spat back sarcastically in a voice that said anything but. “But I was waiting for you to finally get back so we can finally review some notes, but oh no wait! You’d much rather be out on a date,” he turned round, his robes snapping at her legs and he marched up to his room.

 

Turning round to face Jasper, Hermione said through gritted teeth, “I’m sorry but I have to go and sort something out with my idiot of a partner.” And she marched away, leaving Jasper to stare after her, not caring that he had wanted to say a ‘proper’ goodnight. She pushed the door open to Draco’s room with such force that it hit the wall with a snap and rebounded, but she could not care less. She marched up to him by the window and said hotly, “Just what is your problem? What have I done that’s so bad that you’ve been treating me like a bloody pariah these past two days?”

 

He did not reply.

 

“Won’t you talk to me?” she pleaded. Again he did not reply.

 

“JUST SAY SOMETHING!” she yelled. Draco turned round to face her, his eyes cold and hard.

 

“What do you want me to say?” he asked spitefully, “Sorry for not letting that idiot kiss you goodnight? Sorry for kissing you? Sorry for everything that’s happened here?”

 

“No. Tell me what was in that letter. That’s why you’re treating me like this, isn’t it? Because of that letter.” She said quietly. He did not utter a single sound, simply staring into her dark eyes.

 

“Or is it because your pure pristine pureblood lips were caught on my dirty mudblood ones by one of your friends’ owls? Are you afraid that it’ll go and hoot what it saw to your mother and friends? Is that it? All because of one stupid kiss?” she hissed dangerously. She wasn’t going to plead with him anymore; he wasn’t worth it.

 

He walked over to a desk and pulled an envelope from beneath the clutter of parchment and quills. Silently, he handed it to her. Surprised yet curious, Hermione pulled the contents out. There was a letter and a newspaper cutting. She read the letter first.

 

Draco,

   You probably aren’t going to like this, but I thought that it would be unfair if everyone kept it from you. I’ve included an article from the Daily Prophet that you might find interesting. So tell me, how’s France? How’s the mudblood? I can only imagine how you’re getting along with her. You might’ve already killed each other and you probably won’t read this letter but I’m betting against that. How is the conference going? Have you met any smouldering French ladies yet? I’ve also got to apologise for not writing earlier, it’s just that I’ve been busy at the ministry. I’ve been hearing some funny rumours around but I’ll tell you about them once you get back. Life here is still pretty dull; I now have to put up with that bastard Cormac McLaggen working in the same department as me. Merlin, help me.. Reply back when you get the chance.

Blaise,

 

P.S- your mother says she is sorry that she hasn’t written as frequently, but she has been busy arranging some fundraising events for St Mungo’s.

 

Hermione turned to read the article and her eyes widened to the size of dinner plates as she read it. England’s finest to be representative in France, the headline blared and her eyes skimmed it quickly. It was all about the medical conference and Hermione and how she would bring honour and pride to her family and St Mungo’s. In almost a full page, not even one mention of Draco could be seen. Lines such as ‘A fine model for all’ and ‘Was the brightest of all Hogwarts’ jumped out at her and enraged her. Who had written this piece of rubbish? Her eyes immediately found the name: Rita Skeeter.

 

“I worked so hard in my previous job and at St Mungo’s and I was delighted to get the opportunity to come here and restore some influence back to my family’s name. Only they had to choose you too,” he laughed bitterly, “Well, who can really blame them? Perfect Hermione Granger would be the ideal choice to represent St Mungo’s,”

 

“And you actually care what this rubbish says?” she asked incredulously, shoving the article back into his hands. “This is Rita Skeeter for god’s sake! Do you actually believe half the things she writes? So who cares if some people don’t know that Draco Malfoy is representing St Mungo’s as well? You know, I know and everybody else who matters knows,”

 

“I care!” Draco said, turning to stare out the window. “Do you know how hard I worked to restore my family’s position in society after people knew my father was one of the Death Eaters? I sucked up to all the influential bastards and did what the heck they wanted just to make sure that me and my mother wouldn’t be shunned from the life we knew…I want them to know I’m not like my father and that I can achieve something to prove that.”

 

Hermione sighed deeply. She gently put her hand on Draco’s shoulder and squeezed it gently, “You’re not like your father… you’re not your father. It’ll be okay. Draco, it’s going to be all right,” she said softly. His eyes wide, he stared at her reflection in the window as did she and he said quietly, “You just called me Draco,”

 

She began to blush slightly, hid behind his back so her reflection couldn’t be seen and mumbled, “Yeah, well I was just imagining the presentation the other day and I heard myself say ‘We shall now turn to Malfoy’ and it just didn’t sound right. People might think we didn’t get along and that’s not true is it?”

 

Draco turned round, wanting to soak in the sweetness of it all, and he smiled slightly. Hermione looked up at him and realized that this was the first time she had seen him smile, not a smirk or a jeer, just a sweet small smile.

 

“Sorry I’ve been such a jerk the past few days,”

 

“Yes, well, there’s no denying that,” she smirked a knowing superior smirk good enough to put his to shame. He pulled a face at her and she laughed lightly.

 

“It’s late, we should probably get some sleep.” Draco announced as he stared down at her.

 

“You’re right, I’m so tired,” Hermione said stifling a yawn. He held the door of his room open for her and she walked out he said a soft, “Good night, Hermione.” She stopped in her tracks and turned to stare at him, a slightly bewildered expression on her features before shaking her head, smiling and saying dismissively as she went, “Good night, Draco,”

 

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

A/N: And so the mystery of the letter is solved. I think that up until now, the story has been moving somewhat…slowly, so hopefully things will start to move at a nice steady pace and events will start to get juicy in the next few chapters. Don’t you just love Jasper? Although admittedly, I love him coz I can only picture the delectable Gaspard Ulliel as his character :P Can some of you guys help me come up with a summary for the story as I suck at 'em. Just stick it un a review. Credit will be in the next chapter. Thank you so much. Reviews are much loved. Chapter image by LilyEvansPotter15

 

Sera :D

Chapter 10: Chapter ten
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They had already been in France for almost three weeks and they had been to so many lectures but still had many more to come. Hermione, who was coping better now due to Draco’s continual tutelage in French, found that she managed to enjoy the lectures far more than she had before. Although she did have to put up with Draco’s constant muttering -about Jasper- under his breath, however he too seemed to be enjoying them much more.

 

It was on a particular cold Sunday afternoon, in which they had no lectures to attend that Draco went down to the kitchen to find Hermione dressed in cropped jeans, a tank top and an apron. And cooking no less.

 

“What are you doing?” he laughed as he watched her taste the soup on the stove.

 

“Cooking,” she replied and reached for some salt.

 

“Why? The elf can cook,”

 

“Cici is gone. I’ve sent her to work at Hogwarts for the next three weeks,” she replied casually but inside she feared his reaction. Draco simply stood there, dumbfounded, looking like he had just been hit over the head with a pan. He was silent for a few more moments until he managed to choke out, “You what?” in a strained voice.

 

“I. Sent. Her. To. Work. At. Hogwarts.” Hermione replied slowly and loudly. A few more moments of silence until Draco asked in a deadpan voice that suggested he thought her mentally deranged, “Why? Who’s going to clean the house and cook and all else?”

 

“I am.” Hermione replied. He was silent and shocked once more, giving her time to check up on her soup and the fish she had in the oven. Draco simply took a seat at the kitchen island and stared at her as she did all this. Was there anything she couldn’t do?

 

“You like chicken noodle soup?” Hermione asked, breaking through his train of not so innocent thoughts and he nodded his answer. She smiled and turned back to the soup, leaving him to ponder how she could make him breathless with the simplest of things.

 

During Dinner, the topic strayed from Hermione’s cooking to Jasper and Gabriella. 

 

“He’s such an idiot. Everyone thinks he’s so perfect but he isn’t. There’s something off about him,” he said bitterly.

 

“Is that jealousy I detect?” Hermione smirked as she raised a glass of red wine to her lips and her smile hid behind the glass. Draco didn’t reply, but was adamantly staring down at the tablecloth, trying hard not to let his mind wander to the many fantasies he had been having lately. Finally he looked up, coughed a little, threw his shoulders back proudly and said arrogantly, “No. We Malfoys are never jealous, for we know that we are the best in everything,”

 

“You keep telling yourself that,” she smiled in amusement, “I just don’t get why you hate him. He’s pretty terrific, he’s smart and funny and if you’d stop being so stubborn and get to know him you’ll realize how much you and Jasper have in common.

 

Draco mocked looking highly scandalized and she laughed as he said, “I very much doubt it, Miss Granger. I, a noble and well-bred pureblooded Malfoy would have absolutely nothing in common with that smooth talking excuse for a wizard. He’s too squeaky clean for my liking. At least Potter had a rule-breaking streak to him, if he wasn’t trying to save the wizarding world every few days or so, he wouldn’t be so bad,” Hermione stared on in amazement; Draco had just paid Harry a compliment. “It’s just the way everyone talks about Lesair, you’d think he was a walking miracle. He seems too perfect to be true. Nobody is that good.”

 

“Of course he isn’t perfect! But he is pretty brilliant and it’s not fair that you always belittle him when you don’t know the first thing about him. You’re both excellent healers, you both love Quidditch, you’re both from old wizarding families and you both think that Gabriella Laverne is a charming witch,” not bothering to hide her derision she added, “Although that last point is beyond any logical reasoning to me.”

 

With a smug smirk, Draco crossed his arms over his chest and teased, “Now who’s doing the belittling? For someone so quick to jump to Lesair’s defence, you are awfully judgemental of a girl you haven’t taken the liberty to know.  You keep going about how I never say anything nice about Lesair while you’re making snide comments about Gabriella behind her back. At least I have the decency to say it to his face. Who knew you could be so catty, Hermione,”

 

“I am not catty!” she said vehemently, “Besides she started it all with her rude comments about my accent and hair. And anyway you always pick on Jasper first. He wouldn’t start anything like that, he’s too nice.”

 

Draco secretly wanted to tell her that she was far too blind to see past Lesair’s façade of ‘sweet, innocent, handsome young healer’ but refrained himself, knowing it would only result in him being hexed. So, he changed the subject.

 

“I got a letter from McGonogal.”

 

“What?”

 

“McGonogal. She sent a letter inviting us to visit a theatre with her, the exchange students and some kids from Beauxbatons. Apparently, we’re going to see a play.” Hermione’s looked up curiously; they were going to a magical theatre? She was going to see a magical play with Draco Malfoy, nonetheless. Well, that would certainly turn out to be a memorable day.

 

“When is it?” she asked keenly.

 

“Sunday. We’re allowed to bring a guest each and I think I’ll invite Gabriella,” he watched the impact those words had on Hermione and with smug satisfaction he saw how her back stiffened considerably and her voice became much more icier. But then she turned the tables on him.

 

“I think I’ll invite Jasper,” Draco’s eyes hardened at that and they talked considerably less for the remainder of Dinner.

 

--

 

Sunday dawned sunny but unbelievably frosty. Hermione wore some comfy black drainpipe jeans and a warm green turtleneck and she wrapped a scarf around her neck for good measure. She ran downstairs to find that the atmosphere in the drawing room was thicker than cold custard; Jasper and Gabriella had arrived. Draco was sat on one end of the couch looking very classy in black trousers, a forest green shirt and a silk blazer whereas Jasper sat on the other end looking equally smart and Gabriella was sat in the middle looking between the two with apprehension. She looked very pretty in a black skirt and a peach satin blouse that brought out the colour of her eyes.

 

Hermione cleared her throat to get their attention and they all turned round. Jasper smiled and rose to greet her, Draco simply stared on and Gabriella smiled slightly.

 

“Bonjour Hermione,” Jasper greeted and kissed her hand. Gabriella noted that Draco’s glare became even colder.

 

“Good morning Jasper,” Hermione said, shivering at the smoothness of his lips at her hand before she turned to look at Draco, a small, barely noticeable smile on her lips and asked, “Ready?”

 

“What does it look like?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. Rolling her eyes at him, Hermione turned to Gabriella and against her own will said pleasantly, “Good morning Gabriella,”

 

“Bonjour Hermione. How are you?” Gabriella smiled in return.

 

Once all the ‘Good morning’s and How are you’s?’ were done, they all took it in turn to travel to the Beauxbatons Academy via Floo powder. McGonogal and Madame Maxime greeted them in the VIP quarters of the school that were reserved for ministry officials and such. Immediately Madam Maxime rushed to hug Gabriella and Jasper whereas McGonogal kept her cool and warmly shook hands with Draco and gave Hermione a quick, affectionate hug.

 

“Thank you for inviting us to come along professor,” Hermione smiled and when Draco simply stood and stared at McGonogal she poked him hard in the ribs with her elbow as to get the message and he managed to force out a “Yes, thank you so much,”

 

McGonogal left to talk with Gabriella and Jasper and Draco turned to face Hermione, massaging his sore side. “God, what was that for?” he grumbled.

 

“A little courtesy won’t kill you,” she said and put on a smile as Madam Maxime came to greet them.

 

Finally, they get onto the Academy autobus with the students and began to make their way to the theatre.  Hermione and Draco met the exchange students, Dennis Creevey (a Gryffindor) and Amy Lucien (a Slytherin who’s father Draco knew very well). Hermione let Draco sit and stare out of the bus window whilst she talked with the Beauxbatons students. She found Fleur’s sister sat at the back with her friends and smiled as they laid eyes on each other. She sat back down opposite Draco and Gabriella and next to Jasper.

 

“Do you know that the theatre is set in the charming village of Monrelielle?”  Jasper asked her softly, “I’ve read several articles about it and I’ve heard that it has been compared to your eminent Hogsmeade,”

 

Draco was listening but only vaguely.

 

“Really?” Hermione asked curiously. “Although, I’m sure it’s not as notorious for having haunted dwellings,” a grin had found her way to her lips and she glanced casually at Draco. Jasper replied but Draco did not take his answer in as he had just felt Gabriella’s fingers lace with his. He turned to face her, a weary smile upon his lips.

 

“I was wondering if maybe Jasper and Hermione would like to accompany us on a tour of the village?” she suggested innocently examining their laced hands. At the mention of her name Hermione’s head snapped up and she wasn’t happy to see Gabriella’s hand intertwined with Draco’s.

 

“Excuse me Gabriella? You were saying?”

 

“Yes, well me and Draco thought it might be a good idea for you and Jasper to join us as we go around the village before we go to see the play,” Draco’s eyes narrowed as Gabriella included him in that sentence. In fact, there was a list of a hundred things he’d rather do than spend the day with Jasper Lesair waiting to be conducted.

 

Hermione turned to Jasper who shrugged and said, “Your choice,”. She turned back round and her eyes lingered on Draco for a short while and she decided she would like to spend the day with him, even if she did have to see Gabriella flirt and act coy all over him. She had wanted to see the play with him especially.

 

“We’d love to join you,” she beamed and turned back to her conversation with Jasper. Once in the village, they walked round taking in the sights and stopping at several shops. Draco and Jasper insisted that they spend at least fifteen minutes in the Quidditch shop and Hermione and Gabriella looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Jasper announced that he was to buy the latest version of the Firebolt and Draco had to respond with the little fact that he had already purchased an Arial360, the latest model and the English Quidditch team’s choice of brooms for the upcoming Quidditch world cup. This begun a fierce battle between the two to prove their superiority of the other. When Jasper said that he was a 4th generation pureblood wizard, Draco had to announce that he was a 6th generation wizard from one of the wealthiest and most influential pureblood families in England.

 

Meanwhile despite their differences, Hermione and Gabriella seemed to be getting along fine. Gabriella was of a wealthy and influential family, used to the finest things galleons could buy, expensive robes, extravagant vacations, society dinners and a steady stream of boyfriends. Hermione on the other hand, was more interested in books than fashion, stubborn, highly intelligent, uneasy in crowds and still slightly uncomfortable with her late-blooming beauty. In spite of their biases against each other, they had several nice conversations and managed to dispel some of their prejudgements they might’ve had about the other.

 

However, notwithstanding the superiority battle between the two, Draco managed to say a few impartial words to Jasper and not tease him once. Hermione was very impressed; it seemed to her that he was making a point that he could go a day without teasing someone, even if it was difficult for him.

 

As Jasper had said, Monrelielle was very similar to Hogsmeade; it had joke shops, sweet shops, cafés, post offices and even a pub very like the Three Broomsticks but without the familiar faces and butterbeer. It was set beautifully in a valley, two snow-capped mountains piercing the horizon. Finally at three o’clock they made their way to the theatre and began to troop in and take their seats. Jasper wanted to sit as far away from Draco as possible but Hermione wanted to sit next to Draco, as she had desperately wanted to see the play with him. In the end, they ended up sitting next to Madam Maxime, in seats a row above Draco and Gabriella. The play itself was magnificent, even though Hermione could not understand some parts, she got the general gist of the plot. She did not pay attention to the end of the play however, when the lead actor was delivering his gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, emotional farewell to his dying love, as a loud shriek sounded from beside her and she turned round to say that Jasper had fallen asleep -now awake- and had rested his head on Madam Maxime large arm, hugging it like a pillow. He was blushing so much, his resemblance to a tomato was award winning. Draco on the other hand was laughing so much, he had slid out of his seat. The only other time she had seen him laughing this much was during a potions lesson in seventh year when Ron’s potion had erupted into his face and he had ended up with violent boils all over his face. The play ended there and they all went back to the autobus, chatting happily about what had just happened.

 

Jasper remained quiet throughout most of the ride, still embarrassed from that faux pas and Draco was still laughing, teasing him mercilessly.

 

“That’s enough, Draco. It could’ve happened to anyone,” Hermione said sternly, but she had to force back a laugh at the look of utter horror on Madame Maxime’ face when Jasper had rested his head on her arm. Draco caught a lingering trace of her sweet smile and he couldn’t help but to smirk. He knew she found it as funny as he did, but she liked Lesair too much to hurt his pride further. 

 

Jasper was too tired to get into a verbal argument with Hermione’s partner, so he tried to ignore Draco’s jibes, but he also knew that Draco’s taunts worked to his advantage in winning Hermione over. He might not be the most perceptive person but he wasn’t blind either. It was obvious to everyone who attended the lectures that a drastic change had occurred between the two St Mungo’s representatives after the trip to the museum. At first, they barely seemed to tolerate each other, but since the museum trip they were much too ‘chummy’ for Jasper’s taste. They had even begun calling each other by their first names. Ever since the trip, Jasper had realized that Draco was more of a threat of Hermione’s affections than he had originally thought. In the past fortnight she had tried to cut some of their dates or walks around muggle Paris short with flimsy excuses, but Jasper got the distinct impression that she wanted to be around Draco more. He would point this out and she would empathically deny it and would end up staying longer with him, which is what he had wanted anyway.

 

Sensing Hermione’s growing agitation at Draco’s taunting, Jasper took the opportunity to reach over and twine his fingers through hers and kiss her below the ear. These simple gestures finally put an end to Draco’s laughing. Hermione nervously looked at both boys, from Draco’s well-disguised bitterness to Jasper’s triumph but she did not pull her hand away, drawn to the warmth of his hand.

 

Gabriella watched the scene on front of her with interest. Since their arrival, Gabriella had gotten the sense that there was much more to Draco and Hermione’s ‘relationship’ than either was willing to admit. They no longer attacked each other maliciously or needled each other. The looks that passed between them were too fiery to be rooted in disgust. She found herself jealous of Hermione, smart, bookish, outspoken Hermione Granger. How many times had she seen Draco and Hermione discussing historical events, house elves rights and the future of the wizarding society? Sure, she could turn heads whenever she wanted to but Hermione had the ability to make people listen to her. She knew, Hermione thought of her as nothing more than just a pretty face and Draco felt that she was just another flaky blonde, but Gabriella was actually quite observant, especially when it came to matters of the heart.

 

In those days when Draco was extremely contemptuous towards Hermione, she had managed to find out that the centre of all this was a letter after he had irritably mumbled something about it. He would barely say two words to her despite her efforts to distract him. She had never seen anyone as bitter and ire-filled as she had seen him in those few days. She had barely recognized him a day after the museum trip; he had been laughing and smiling and looked as if a terrible weight had been lifted off his shoulders.

 

He still mad time to see her and take walks and such but she knew it was most likely because she was Gabriella Laverne, daughter of the French minister of magic. Draco would not be the first or the last boy who kept her company just for her beauty and family connections. She liked Draco, liked him a lot and she wanted things to be different with him, to be special. But he had been acting strangely the past week or so. He would get these far-off looks on his face, like he was swimming in pleasant thoughts or a look of dread would creep into his eyes. When she would ask him about it, he would assure her that he was fine, simply a little tired. Several of the other female representatives whom she knew had remarked how much Draco’s eyes roamed to Hermione whenever he thought she wasn’t looking. Gabriella had noticed this well but kept lying to herself that she was imagining it. She had also noticed how Draco would flinch involuntarily whenever Jasper would put his arm about Hermione’s waist or take hold of her hand as he had done so just now. He had been teasing Jasper mercilessly about the incident during the play but his mirth had halted abruptly the moment Jasper’s hand had brushed up against Hermione’s. You didn’t have to be part of the ministry’s think tank to work out what was going on.

 

Draco stared out of the train window, watching the dark countryside whiz past but not really seeing it. He was ruminating on the day’s events and had come to a conclusion about Jasper.  After spending the whole day with the Frenchman, Draco decided he no longer wanted to hex Jasper on sight. Now he wanted to smash the Frenchman’s perfectly chiselled nose with his bare hands and then break both of his arms so there would be none to wrap around Hermione’s waist. He hadn’t even realized he was thinking such thoughts until Gabriella asked, “Draco, why are you grinning so much? Are you still thinking about our walk yesterday?” Draco reached around her shoulders, happily noting Hermione’s disapproving glare and gently kissed Gabriella’s forehead. Gabriella began to talk about their recent walk and how much she had enjoyed it but Draco’s thoughts were not filled with flowers and romance. They were filled with broken noses, crushed bones and fat lips and he smiled contently to himself.

 

*

 

A/N: Typical Draco, isn’t it? Always so mocking, so scornful. I’m promising a vicarious next chapter that I hope y’all will like. Reviews are love, so please leave me one.


-Sera :D


Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Jasper insisted on accompanying Hermione to the chateau like a proper gentlemen, which meant Draco had to respond in kind and take Gabriella home. He wasn’t particularly pleased at the thought of Lesair and Hermione in his chateau. Alone. He was expecting Gabriella to live with her family in some Manor, but he was surprised to find that she lived by herself in a modest apartment. He pointed this out to her and she laughed.

 

“My father wanted me to pursue a career in the ministry but I’ve never cared for politics nor a luxurious life. He was very angry when I chose a healer as a career and we had an argument. As a result, I ended up buying this apartment and living my life the way I want.” She explained.

 

“Do you still get along with your family?” he asked.

 

“Oh yes, I love my family. We do have the occasional argument here and there, but I’m very close with them, especially my brother Sebastian,” she smiled.

 

“I’m glad to hear that,” he smiled gently, “Well, good night Gabriella,” he made to turn and apparate but Gabriella had rushed forward and gotten a hold of his arm. He turned to face her, his features quizzical.

 

“You forgot something,” she whispered and tip toed to give him a kiss goodnight. He did not pull away but as her smooth lips gently brushed against his, he couldn’t help but to analyse how much Hermione and Gabriella’s kisses were different. Whilst Gabriella had the expertise of a skilled kisser, there was something about Hermione’s endearing uncertainty when it came to intimacy. When he had kissed Hermione, an electrical surge of warmth had spread all across his body and it was an indescribable feeling of content that had taken him over. When he kissed Gabriella however, it felt like he was kissing a good friend and it felt oddly premeditated. Kissing Gabriella was something more of a distant feeling…something that you do out of recklessness.

 

He gently pulled back as he thought of what Hermione and Jasper might be up to and he put on a smile, said a polite thank you and good night and apparated to the chateau. It was quite. He searched the drawing room and the library for Hermione and Jasper but they were not there. He called out Hermione’s name and waited for a reply.

 

“I’m in my room” came Hermione’s voice. He made his way to her room and found that she had changed into a casual skirt and a cardigan and was outside on the balcony, staring at the orange muggle lights in the horizon.

 

“Hey, where’s pretty-boy Lesair?” he asked softly, joining her on the balcony.

 

“He went ages ago. I don’t think he wanted to be subjected to anymore of your juvenile teasing,” she smiled gently turning round to face him. “What took you so long at Gabriella’s? Were you meeting her father or something?”

 

Conveniently forgetting to mention that he was kissing the daughter of the French Minister of Magic, Draco offhandedly replied, “She doesn’t live with her family and just talking,” Hermione looked doubtfully at him but did not comment.

 

“So, why did Lesair leave so early?” he asked.

 

“He didn’t want to leave early, actually. He was waiting for you to come back so he could hex you into oblivion and back, but I persuaded him that it would do him no good; it would just fan the flames more. Your teasing really pissed him off.”

 

Draco turned round to face her, a delighted smile across his lips, “You have to admit the whole falling asleep on your former headmistress thing was pretty funny though?”

 

A small smile escaped her lips and she tried to conceal it with her hand but it was no use. Soon she was laughing out loud and Draco joined her. “Okay, it did have a certain degree of humour to it,” she admitted, “But with all the commotion afterwards, I didn’t pay attention to the end. It was so close to the end and between all the laughter and your rude comments I never heard what the actors said,”

 

No longer laughing, Draco sighed, running a hand through his icily pale hair, “That play is one of my mother’s favourites. She used to drag me to it all the time when it played in London,” Hermione stepped a little closer to him and stared expectantly, listening keenly. He took a deep breath, “Dominique was poisoned by Luc’s vicious mother, because Dominique was just a poor muggle girl and his mother feared Dominique would take Luc away from the wizarding world. So his mother poisoned the girl and as she lay dying in his arms, he cried and kissed her and all that lovey-dovey stuff. Then he says to her and this is one of the most famous lines from a wizarding play, “Je peux ce sorcier mais je n’ai jamais su que vrai magie eit jusqu’re que je suis tomb ans l’amour avec vous,” which loosely translated means ‘I may be a wizard but I never knew what real magic was until I fell in love with you,’” as he spoke Draco looked at Hermione with a steady gaze letting the words linger in the cold night air. She closed the space between them, so he could see her eyes glistening with a hint of tears. He shook his head, as if trying to clear some cobwebs and continued his summation, “Dominique kisses him softly on the lips and dies in his arms. The End.”

 

“That was really beautiful,” Hermione breathed, “Their love mattered to them more than anything else,”

 

Draco stepped forward abruptly suddenly closing all space between them, “Yeah well, the dialogue was somewhat cheesy, but I guess it sounds better in French,” he found himself staring down at her lips, desperately wanting to feel their sweet smoothness upon his once more, but he forced himself to continue speaking. He needed a distraction. “Then again, the ingredients from a potions list would probably…” but he did not continue for Hermione had suddenly grabbed his jacket lapels with both hands and pulled him towards her, her lips connecting instantly with his in a firm, startlingly sweet kiss.

 

Draco, immensely surprised, quickly brushed away the shock and responded by kissing her back just as fervently. They stayed that way for a few moments, but for all Hermione knew, it could’ve been an eternity. She felt like she was spinning in circles, unsure of where she was or how to stop, too shocked to move and too stunned to react. Rationality finally crept back into her mind, and the enormity of her all too impulsive actions dawned on her, causing her legs to suddenly feel like jelly. Her eyes opened as did his and she started to lean back on her feet, to firmly plant herself back on the ground. Slowly she pulled her lips away from Draco’s, never once breaking eye contact.

 

Their connection had barely broken, their lips separated by a width of a feather when Draco reached his arms around Hermione’s waist and pulled her tightly against him, joining their lips once more in a slow, deliberate kiss. Only this time there was no surprise, no disbelief, because anything that shot sensations like that throughout his entire body could not be imaginary. Several years of fights, plots, jealous schemes all clashed in this curious scene. Coherent thoughts and practical actions were irrelevant. All that mattered was the feel of Hermione’s lips on his and the way her body fit perfectly into his. Her arms snaked around his neck, drawing him ever closer, her fingers entangling them themselves in his silky hair. Even if he wanted to stop kissing her (which he had no intention of doing) his body would not let him. He could feel her shivering, whether it was from the cold or from the same incredible sensations he was experiencing, he did not know. Draco was certain his insides were melting in every spot her hands touched. He hadn’t even realized how badly he wanted this feeling and to taste her sweet mouth. But when she kissed him, he had never felt more exhilarated and free and full of life as he had then and he yielded to her touch.

 

Hermione pulled back, gasping for air and steadying herself in his arms. She had never felt such a strong desire for someone as she did towards Draco at that moment. He was watching her so gently, that she dared not breath a word for words would ruin the perfect moment. Gently, he rested his forehead upon hers, his breath hot on her face and neck. He leaned in to kiss her once more and she was about to lean in so that she wouldn’t have to bear the wait for his lips to come crashing upon hers, but she muttered that one word that she had been hoping would not escape her lips, “No.”

 

A/N: I’m not one for cliffhangers but I thought I ought to keep you in suspense. please, pretty, pretty please… review. They are what impel me to continue my stories. Thanks and I will hopefully see you at the end of the next chapter. Thank you my lovelies. Loffly chapter image by LilyEvansPotter15.

 
Your insomnia-suffering author,

-Sera :D

Chapter 12: Chapter twelve
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Chapter 12:

 

Draco froze and hurt began to creep into his crystalline grey eyes. Hermione looked up at him apologetically.

 

“We can’t do this,” she whispered softly.

 

“Why not?” he asked desperately, “Why?”

 

Hermione raised her hand and gently ran it down his cheek, “You know why. Harry and Ron, Mudbloods and Purebloods, Slytherin and Gryffindor and so many other things. It just won’t work.”

 

“How do you know that? Hermione, please! I don’t care about any of the mudbloods and purebloods thing anymore, you know I don’t,” he argued quietly.

 

“I know Draco, but your father was a Death Eater and unfortunately many people think you are too including Harry and Ron, who would curse you on sight if they saw you within ten feet of me…I know you want this to work, but you know it can’t.”

 

“We can make it work!”

 

“We can’t and you know it…please get out Draco,” she set herself free from his hold and turned to stare out at the horizon, wiping away early signs of tears. She could still feel his presence behind her and she wanted nothing more than to turn round and return to his warm, protective hold but it would do nothing for her and simply add to her longing for him.

 

“Draco, please leave,” she requested, her voice breaking and still not turning round to face him. She heard him move but she was surprised to find that his arms had suddenly wrapped themselves around her and turned her round to face him.

 

“Draco, I told you…” she began.

 

“I know what you told me, but please allow me this …I wish I could kiss you one last time…”

 

The tears came before she could stop them, but she smiled wryly and tiptoed before pressing her lips hard against his in a slow, passionate kiss. After a few minutes She leaned back and stared up at him as he wiped her tears away gently before walking out. She walked into her room and collapsed onto her bed, desperately trying to clear her mind of all thought of the blonde who had just left and his enticing passionate kisses.

 

*

 

The sun was beginning to creep in to the room through the curtains, indicating the start of a new day. Draco lay on his bed staring up at the ceiling, his eyes wide and tired. Much as he tried, he just couldn’t get some sleep and more importantly he couldn’t get the pretty brunette in the room next door out of his head. He could still taste the sweetness of her mouth upon his lips and it pained him to hear her words being replayed in his mind we can’t do this…it just won’t work… How does she know? She maybe brilliant at logical reasoning but she couldn’t predict the future.

 

He wasn’t sure if he wanted to see her yet…everything that had taken place last night would come flooding back to him, he didn’t want that. Not yet. He closed his eyes and he must’ve fallen asleep for the next thing he knew, knocking at his door was awaking him.

 

“Draco, um…we’re going to be late for the lecture,” Hermione’s voice came uncertainly. Groaning, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and replied, “I’m not going today, I don’t feel well,”

 

Liar. That one word circulated his head for the next few minutes along with another word: coward. Liar. Coward. Liar. Coward. Liar. Coward. Liar. Coward. Coward. Coward. Liar…

 

“STOP!” he screamed at himself and the rotation of those two words ceased. He had a shower and went down to fix himself some breakfast. Damn you Granger! You just had to send the elf away, he thought sulkily as he tried to prepare a sandwich. Admitting defeat, he went back up to his room, changed into some clean clothes and apparated to a magical bakery ‘Le Mair’s Boulangerie’ that he had come to many a time with his parents as a child. As soon as he stepped in through the bakery’s door he was engulfed in the sweet smell of freshly made pastries and coffee. It made his head spin to simply stand there and take in the scents.

 

He ordered a cheese and raspberry pastry and some coffee and sat at a table by the window and slowly began to eat. His thoughts straying to Hermione, he wondered what she might be doing at the lecture at this present moment…probably with Lesair, he thought scornfully. Just thinking of her made him remember what had taken place between them last night and he began to ache for her, for the taste of her mouth and the feel of her hands burning his skin.

 

He was surely going to go insane if he remained with his thoughts and desire for her any longer, the only resolution left was a memory charm. But as much as he wanted to forget all that had happened, he wanted to never forget the sensations that Hermione evoked in him and the feel of her warm, velvety lips on his. He groaned once more as he tried to clear his mind of all thoughts of her but he failed dismally. Draining his cup of coffee, he left the shop and began to stroll around magical Paris, taking in the many familiar sights he had seen many a time as a young boy.

 

A wistful smile came to his lips as he thought of the summer holiday before he started his fifth year at Hogwarts. He had come to Paris with his mother for a few days before touring round Italy, Monaco, Switzerland and Austria. His father had been ‘on business’ then, but Draco knew better; Lucius was with Voldemort. He had enjoyed that holiday immensely, as his mother, who was less uptight than Lucius, had allowed him to wander for a while in the muggle parts of Paris and he had been amazed at how similar they were to wizards. In fact, if they were all wearing robes and cloaks and talked about Quidditch instead of this stupid ‘Football’ then they would’ve passed as wizards. He also took note of how striking some female muggles were and as he wandered through the streets, many young witches watched him with keen expressions, biting their lips as they did so.

 

After three hours of wandering round the city, walking through parks and by the river Seine, he returned to the chateau and collapsed onto his bed. He had not thought of Hermione once during those idyllic hours and he smiled slightly before falling into blissful, dreamless sleep.

 

*

 

“Hermione, where is Draco?” Gabriella asked anxiously, as soon as she had seen Hermione all by herself in a corner of the theatre, sipping on a cup of coffee.

 

“Hmm?” Hermione looked up, “Oh Draco…he said he wasn’t feeling well,” but a light blush had crept across her cheeks and Gabriella knew that there was more to this situation than was visible to the eye. Hermione felt her cheeks go red and she hated herself for it. When on earth had she started blushing so much? It was extremely infuriating! But as soon as Gabriella had mentioned Draco’s name, all of last night’s events came flooding back to her and she couldn’t help the red that tainted her cheeks.

 

She had so desperately wanted to remain in his warm, strong arms but she knew no good would come out of it. If this was to take place back in England they would both be shunned by their friends and those around them. But she knew of the danger she would both be in if any form of relationship was to take place between them in England. Voldemort was making his presence known and it was clear that he and his Death Eaters were not afraid to kill, especially when it came to mudbloods such as herself and one who was so closely connected to Harry Potter.

 

Throughout the lecture she was distracted, her thoughts continually wandering back to last night and to Draco. What was he up to at the moment? Was he really ill as he had said so, or was it just a lie? Jasper noticed that her attention wasn’t focused on the lecture nor had been it been focused on him when he had spoken to her and he wondered whether any of this had anything to do with Draco. Where was he anyway? He had asked Hermione and she had said that he was ill, but Jasper somehow doubted that. Draco had been in perfect health only yesterday and unless he was on his deathbed, Jasper knew that there was nothing wrong with him. So, why, why was he not here today? And why was Hermione so distracted? And why was that dread shinning in her eyes mixed with a pleasant wistful gleam?

 

During the lunch break, he asked Gabriella if she knew why Draco wasn’t in attendance and she replied that Hermione had told her that Draco said he was ill. However, Gabriella had gone to the chateau and looked for him but she had not found him there. This confirmed Jasper’s doubts about Draco’s ‘illness’.

 

At the end of the lecture, Hermione quickly packed her things intending on getting to the chateau as soon as possible.

 

“Would you like to go for dinner by the Seine?” Jasper asked thoughtfully and helped her put her things away.

 

“Oh! That’s a wonderful idea Jasper, but I’m really tired today. Can we please delay it for another evening?”

 

Liar, Hermione thought to herself. Being the ‘chivalrous’ young man that he was, Jasper let her go without question after a parting kiss, but there were many questions buzzing through his own head as he returned home. Gabriella watched Hermione decline Jasper’s offers with interest. Hermione had spent many nights out with Jasper but frequently these nights were becoming rare and she was spending more time with Draco at the chateau. Brushing these interesting evaluations to the back of her head, Gabriella disapparated to the Manor for dinner with her family.

 

*

 

The chateau was quiet as Hermione stepped out of the fire and into the drawing room. She called out Draco’s name a few times but there was no reply. Curiously, she went upstairs and called his name once more. No reply. On entering his room, she found that he was sleeping peacefully. Smiling wryly, she let him sleep and went to her room to change into her favourite and oldest pair of jeans and a t-shirt before going down to the kitchen to make some dinner.

 

- -

 

Something pleasantly scented was making his nose tingle. He turned round and buried his face in the pillow but the smell remained. Shouting into the pillow, Draco snapped his eyes open and turned round to stare up at the ceiling. Only there was no ceiling to stare at; he was covered in a blanket of darkness.

 

What time is it? He thought as he stumbled out of his bed and made his way to the large window. Pulling the curtains open, he saw the moon shinning down upon the chateau with a creamy light. Blindly, he walked back to his bed and groped for his wand on the bedside table.

 

“Lumos maximum,” he said hoarsely and light jumped from his want to the candles in the chandelier above. He went downstairs and once the powerful aromas of cooking snapped him fully awake, he realized that Hermione must’ve come back from the lecture and was obviously cooking. Ignoring all protests in his head to turn round and walk back upstairs he moved into the kitchen.

 

As soon as he caught sight of her he let a small smile grace his lips and his heart began to race, not out of passion, but out of uneasiness. She still hadn’t noticed him coming in.

 

“Hey, when did you come back from the lecture?” he asked acting very much like his Hogwarts self, all cool and nonchalant.

 

Surprised, Hermione turned round at the sound of his voice and a blush began to creep up her face. Stop it! She scolded herself and her blush tamed a little. Her heart began to race violently, but she replied casually, “Oh just over an hour ago,”

 

They were acting as if nothing had happened, just as they had after the shower incident. Again, it seemed as if they had reached an unspoken truce to not mention what had happened.

 

“Did I miss anything important?” he said reaching for a peach from the fruit bowl.

 

“Not much. Do you still feel ill?”

 

“Not much,” Draco grinned back. Hermione smiled back faintly. An awkward silence passed.

 

Am I happy acting like nothing happened between us? Draco thought pensively. I’m sure I’ll never forget this, but what about her? What will she do when we get back to England? Keep on acting like nothing happened, tell Potter and Weasley, go back to hating me?

 

These thoughts sent a dull ache through his body that he desperately wished he could ignore. Why should he care what she did? She was just a… damn! I can’t even call her mudblood anymore! She was just Granger, plain annoying Hermione Granger. But she was also the only girl that had made him breathless with the simplest of kisses and the only one that constantly plagued his thoughts.

 

Hermione watched him as he slowly bit into his peach, a faraway, distant gleam in his eyes. I wonder if he’s thinking about what happened yesterday…why can I still taste his mouth on mine? Why can’t I forget the sensations he evoked in me? How can I still want him so much when I know that it could never happen between us? Why can’t I just like Jasper and forget Draco? Why? She wanted to scream, why? Why couldn’t she just forget everything about him and go back to hating him? Why? Why? Why?

 

*

A/N: Don't you just hate that word? Yeah, I'm gonna a bit busy over the next few weeks as I have new projects and another science exam. Do you remember my Biology exam? I passed with an A!! Problem is, I've now got a chemistry exam. Wish me luck. Anyways, please review. 

-Sera 
xx

Chapter 13: Chapter thirteen
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Chapter 12:

 

Two weeks remained of their time in France and their presentation was to take place in a week. Hermione began to furiously go over notes and would practice the presentation several times a day, reminding Draco so much of the schoolgirl he remembered.

 

“Hermione, relax,” He told her one day as they sat in the library, he reading the Daily Prophet and Hermione pacing up and down in front of him, muttering her parts in the presentation. “You seem awfully high-strung lately,” he remarked over the top of his newspaper.

 

“High-strung? You think I’m high-strung?” she said shrilly, turning to face him, her eyes spitting fire. “We’ve got a bloody important presentation in under a week and here you sit reading some stupid article by Rita Skeeter,”

 

“Actually, it’s by Lavender Brown. I think you remember her and I think you know that she’s worse than Rita Skeeter,” Draco remarked lightly and returned to the article. Hermione glowered darkly at him before sighing deeply and plopping next to him in the armchair, squeezing him into an uncomfortable corner.

 

“Hermione!” he said indignantly.

 

“Oh shut up, Draco,” Hermione said and peered down at the newspaper in his hands. “Writing rumours about Harry, is she…what’s this? Allegedly, Mr Harry Potter has been seen toying with several young witches at a recent social gathering held by the Minister… what a load of rubbish. Why are you reading about Harry anyway?”

 

“I’m not.” Draco said disdainfully, “I was reading about the recent Goblin strike at Gringotts. What’s so interesting about Potter and his love-life anyway?”

 

“I need a break,” Hermione announced, ignoring his jibe at Harry.

 

“What do you want to do?”

 

Hermione thought about it for a moment before jumping up and staring at Draco, an avid expression upon her features. Draco looked on apprehensively; he had a feeling that she was about to declare something he wasn’t going to like.

 

“Right! We’re going to go to the Louvre art gallery. We’ve been here for a month but we haven’t seen any muggle sites,” she beamed.

 

“No way. I am not going into muggle Paris. Absolutely not.” He refused and crossed his arms over his chest.

 

“Pleeeease Draco? For me?” she pleaded, her eyes large and beseeching. He glared half-heartedly at her before giving in to those pleading eyes and sighing, “Fine,” he huffed and left to change.

 

Half an hour later they were taking a taxi to the Louvre art gallery, Draco muttering incoherently under his breath whilst Hermione stared out of the window at the many familiar sights. They passed the Eiffel Tower and she vowed to herself that she would take Draco there before they left for England. Finally they reached the gallery and Hermione dragged Draco in, promising not to stay for too long.

 

Surprisingly at the end of that little visit, it was Hermione who was dragging Draco out. He had been so mesmerized by the many paintings and structures that he had forgotten all about being in a muggle place. Although neither the paintings nor the sculptures moved, he was so captivated by the delicate intricacy of everything. He would lean forwards so that his nose was almost touching the canvas and he would stare unblinkingly at it before closing his eyes, as if burning an imprint of it in his mind and then moving onto the next one.

                                                                                                                       

Hermione smiled every time he did this. His reaction to the paintings had surprised yet charmed her; she had once come with her cousin, Jack to the Louvre and he had spent the entirety of the visit mumbling about how bored he was and instead of looking at the paintings, he kept on gawking at the many young French girls that had been on a field trip there. Draco’s reaction was much more enchanting.

 

“Where next?” Hermione asked once they were out of the gallery and were walking by the river Seine.

 

“Home?” Draco asked hopefully.

 

“Nope, we are not going home yet, it’s only two in the afternoon,”

 

Draco groaned and Hermione swatted him on the arm, “Can we go for lunch? I’m hungry,” Draco asked. Hermione did not look all that pleased about the idea but agreed to go with him to a restaurant. She stared at the menu in distaste as she read Escargot- snail. Once they had finished lunch, they went back to touring muggle Paris and Hermione insisted on taking Draco to Disneyland.

 

“Why on earth are you dragging me to a children’s theme park?” he questioned distastefully.

 

“Oh come on, it’s fun!” Hermione smiled and pulled him to a kids’ roundabout. Despite the fact that they were 21 and they were riding several children’s rides, they managed to have fun, until Draco mentioned the roller coasters.

 

“What are those large things on towers that everyone’s going on? And why in Merlin’s name are they screaming so much?” he asked curiously, an amused expression upon his face.

 

“That’s a roller-coaster. Do you want to go on one?” Hermione grinned.

 

Draco looked at her as if she were mad. “Risk my life by going on one of these stupid muggle contraptions? Thanks but no thanks, I prefer brooms.” But despite his many protests, Hermione dragged him on one and she beamed at him as they slowly ascended to a point on the ride where they were seconds away from a terrific plummet. Draco looked queasy and showed signs of wanting to throw up. The roller coaster plunged downwards and several people screamed and Draco groaned and clutched at his stomach where Hermione only laughed with glee at Draco’s unsettled stomach and because of the fact that she was riding a muggle roller coaster with none other than Draco Malfoy. Now this was something she never would’ve imagined in her wildest dreams.

 

“Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous!” Draco was still exclaiming even after they had gotten back to the chateau due to Draco’s misbehaving stomach. Hermione was still laughing heartily at his reaction and he shot her glare. “Do you find it funny?”

 

“As a matter of fact, I do.” She said in between peals of laughter. Draco was about to retort when pain flashed across his face, he clutched at his stomach and hastily made for the bathroom. Hermione continued to chuckle until her laughter had died down before going to change into comfy pyjama bottoms and a tank top and going back to the library to review some notes she had made on what she was going to say at the presentation. That had been exactly what she needed to get rid of her anxiety and put her in a relaxed mood in order to get her back in vigorous revision mode.

 

By the time Draco was feeling better he had found her nestled in the library in his big, comfortable reading chair by the fireplace, her legs curled beneath her and twirling her hair round her finger. There were a large bundle of notes in her lap and as always, she was biting her lips as she read them. She looked up as he came in, smiled slightly before returning to her notes.

 

He smiled back lightly but only to himself before it slowly slipped off his smooth features and he settled himself into a chair and began to write a few things he was going to say, but his mind was focused somewhere else. Never before had he thought that he would spend a day mingling with muggles and that he would actually enjoy it. But being around Hermione Granger made him think very differently to how he had previously thought. He couldn’t believe that he had gone to a muggle art gallery and a children’s theme park and had enjoyed it immensely. Okay, maybe not the roller coaster ride but he had enjoyed everything else. More importantly however, he had enjoyed these things with Hermione Granger. Hermione Granger used to be the one girl at Hogwarts he could not tolerate, the one that he had loathed with a passion and now he was going head-over-heels lusting after her because she made him breathless and drunk with pleasure all with the simplest of kisses. Even being close to her made his mind go blank and he couldn’t form coherent thoughts. She was the one that made him feel this way and made him act like this.

 

“Something wrong?” Hermione asked softly, her voice breaking through his thoughts and he looked up at her with hazy eyes. The light in the library was going quickly and the only source of light was from the flames dancing in the fireplace and the faint moonlight trickling weakly through the window. She looked so pretty sat in the dark, half of her face and creamy shoulders bathed in faint moonlight and the other half hidden in the shadows.

 

“No, just a bit tired,” he replied and returned to his letter but he could feel her eyes on him. When he was no longer aware of her eyes on him, he returned to drowning in pleasant thoughts of her and her kisses. Minutes seemed to pass by like hours and Draco soon found himself nodding off. He was jerked awake by an irritant tapping at the window. On opening his eyes, he saw Hermione opening a letter with Potter’s snowy owl on her arm. He glared slightly at the owl before turning to watch Hermione read Potter’s stupid letter. Her expression turned from happiness to slightly miserable within a couple of seconds. What was in that damn letter?

 

Hermione gently unfolded the letter, sat back down in her chair and read:

 

Hermione,

  We’re missing you here, every one of us. How is your trip going so far? What’s Malfoy been like? I just thought I’d write and wish you good luck for your presentation this Saturday. Can you believe it? You only have two weeks left. That means only two more weeks left of Draco Malfoy. I bet you’re happy. There’s something weird with Ron however; every time Malfoy’s name is mentioned he starts muttering darkly under his breath and he goes livid when you and Malfoy are mentioned in the same conversation. I know he hates Malfoy’s guts but this is peculiar behaviour, even for him. Anyway, no need to trouble you. Everyone says Hi. Reply when you can.  Missing you dearly.

 

Harry.

 

 

Before, Hermione’s eyes would’ve combed the last sentence searching for some hidden confession of love, but now her eyes remained rooted to one sentence; only two more weeks left of Draco Malfoy. At first six weeks had seemed like an eternity but now two weeks was not that long and she found herself wishing that she had more time to spend with Draco alone where they would not be stared at or pointed at or talked about simply for being on good terms. She didn’t realize that she was unconsciously rubbing his name with her thumb as she read the letter.

 

“Something wrong?” she heard Draco asked anxiously. Her head snapped up and she replied noncommittally, “No, nothing,” before returning to the letter. Why did such a good day have to be ruined with such a measly letter? And what was going on with Ron? She knew he was the jealous type but this was a step too far. Lost in thought of presentations, Ron, Harry and Draco she left the library for her room, where a long deep slumber awaited her.

 

*

Music: Hearts burst into fire – Bullet For My Valentine

A/N: Disneyland? Draco Malfoy on a roller coaster? I’m hearing the shouts of disbelief in the distance. I don’t know, this was just a fun chapter to write because somehow it humanizes Draco and I just wondered how Draco would react where he had to do some muggle activities. Please go read my story with Dani called Audeamus under the penname scarletenchantressa and check out my new Rose/Scorpius called Defiance. Thanks! Reviews are appreciated.

 

-Sera :D

Chapter 14: Chapter fourteen
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Saturday came quickly. Draco awoke early in the morning but remained in his warm bed, trying not to analyse the squirming sensations in his stomach or imagine horrendous situations in which the presentation could go wrong. With a heavy sigh, he got out of bed, grabbed a pile of notes and slowly made his way downstairs where he planned on revising them. 
 
He was surprised to find Hermione fast asleep on the couch in the drawing room, a mug of coffee on the table beside her and a book entitled ‘Sense And Sensibility’ lying face down next to the mug. His desire getting the better of him, he ran his hand gently along her bare arm and found that it was icily cold. Taking off his robe, he draped it over her but she awoke with a start at this sudden change. 

“Huh? Draco, why are you in my room?” she asked, disorientated. Deciding to have a little fun with her as to ease his troubled feelings, Draco bent down on his knee in front of her and took her hand in his and kissed it in a very suave manner.

“But don’t you remember? You said last night was the most magical night of your life,” he said in a pretend hurt voice whilst trying his best not to burst out laughing at Hermione’s look of utter shock and horror. 

 
Looking like Ron trapped in a roomful of spiders, Hermione jerked her hand away and stammered, “We didn’t…we didn’t do anything…did we?” she looked frantically around, anyplace but directly at Draco. Surely it must’ve been only a dream. Slowly, she realized that they were not in her room, or even Draco’s for that matter, but in the drawing room, where she had come this morning after a night of tossing and turning in her bed. Her eyes then fixated on a manically smirking Draco Malfoy, down on one knee in front of her and looking thoroughly pleased with himself. 


“Malfoy! You’re such a prat!” she barked angrily and pulled on his robe as he rolled on the floor, shaking in laughter. She stormed out of the drawing room and once his laughter had died down, Draco followed her to the kitchen where she already begun to make herself another cup of coffee. Before she could set it in her hands and raise it to her lips, Draco had grabbed it and was sipping happily. 

 
“Hey! That’s mine!” she said indignantly. Draco shrugged and observed how good she looked in his robe, indeed looking as if she had been up to something with him last night. The thought of it made Draco smirk. Hermione made herself another cup of coffee and sipped it, peeking at Draco over the top of her mug, observing his well-defined chest. Simply staring at him like that, half-naked made her want him in ways she desperately wanted to ignore. 


Shaking her head and staring out of the kitchen window at the courtyard she said, “So, today’s the presentation…” 
 

“Hmmm,” was the sensuous reply she got from Draco. Why on earth was he making things so difficult? She wanted to forget how he made her feel and that provocative noise did nothing to help her forget. It simply reminder her of his kisses and the sounds that he had skilfully let escape her mouth. 

“Nervous?” she asked, glancing at him. 

“Slightly,” he shrugged. She smiled wryly at him before grabbing her mug of coffee and moving back into the drawing room to go over some final notes. 

*

Their presentation was to take place at the magical section of the Sorbonne University at two in the afternoon. Hermione arrived there via Floo Powder before Draco and she waited for him to follow suit. A few seconds wait and then he came through the fireplace, elegant as ever but being slightly too tall, the top of his platinum locks brushed against the top of the fireplace and her managed to get some soot on his hair. It contrasted starkly against the white of his hair. 

“You’ve got some soot on your hair,” she smiled lightly. 

Draco ran his hand through his hair as to try and rid his hair of any soot. “Did I get it all off?” he asked. Hermione shook her head and said, “Come here,” she raised her hand and gently ran it through his hair. It reminded her of the time they had kissed after the Theatre trip and how she had ran her hands through his hair and simply could not get enough of it. But it also reminded her of when she had been a young girl and she’d used to sneak to her parent’s room and take out her mother’s silky wedding dress and wrap herself around in it feeling the silky-smooth material all around her. Draco’s hair felt very much like that. She was stirred out of her thoughts and muses when she felt his warm breath on her neck. 

“Is it gone?” 

Mentally shaking herself, she said, “Yes,” and retracted her hand from his hair. They stood staring at each other for a few seconds before she shook her head and averted her gaze. She eased her nerves by speaking to a couple of wizarding lecturers at the university. Breathing deeply, she wished she had Jasper to talk to, but his and Gabriella’s presentation was taking place in Versailles tomorrow and they were not allowed to appear at each other’s presentations. Draco on the other hand was relieving his anxiety by pacing up and down, running his hand through his hair several times. 

They needn’t have worried though. The Presentation went fantastically well. Both Hermione and Draco were calm and cool, talking of their experiences in France and the new knowledge they had gained and how the conference had broadened their understanding about magical medicinal manners in foreign countries and how they had cherished the experience. They were completely in sync with each other, sharing the spotlight equally. It was rather enthralling to watch; when one stopped the other began, their sentences and ideas flowed seamlessly from one topic to the next. It was obvious that they had rehearsed hard for today, but their ease with each other went beyond mere practice. They were a perfect compliment to each other. 


When the question and answer session was concluded, both heaved a sigh of relief and Hermione broke out into a smile. She wanted to rush over to Draco and give him a big, congratulatory hug or something of the sort. But in an instant all sorts of people were around him, showering him with praise for a job well done. He recognized many of them from the lavish soirees, Lucius used to throw when they were still on the A-list of the wizarding world. Suddenly catching sight of a tall, gruff-looking wizard approaching, he waited for the wizard to advance on him. He instantly recognized him; it was Pegasus Maximilian, an influential old wizard. He used to be close friends with Lucius but had distanced himself from the Malfoys after Lucius had been thrown into Azkaban. 


But now, he approached Draco and extended his hand. Draco politely shook it. “Well done, Draco. A splendid job indeed,” he praised. “I must confess, when I heard you would be coming with Miss Granger, a muggle-born witch, I was concerned that Healer Connors had made a grievous error,” His eyes narrowed as he spoke, a serious expression colouring his features darkly. Draco held his breath; he knew wizards and witches all over England put a lot of credibility in Mr. Maximlian’s opinion. The older wizard’s mouth curled upwards in a smile and he placed his hand on Draco’s shoulder. “But I see now that I was the on in error. Your mother ought to be proud of you,” he placed his arm about Draco’s shoulder as Draco heaved a sigh of relief. “Come with me. There are some people I’d like you to meet,” 
 

Hermione watched him intently as this event unfolded from her vantage point across the room. He made people notice him but not in the ‘Oh, I’m a superior Malfoy and you should bow down before me’ way which Hermione had grown accustomed to during their years at Hogwarts. She watched him make his way around the room, mingling with everyone and charming the robes off his audience. He was having the same effect on Hermione. She couldn’t take her eyes off him; his essence filled the rather huge room. 

 
She was pulled away from gazing at him when she felt a light tap on her shoulder. She turned round to find professor McGonogal stood behind her, beaming, as Hermione had never seen her before. 

“Professor!” she exclaimed in surprise, “What are you doing here?” 

“I came to watch your presentation of course,” McGonogal replied smartly, “And what a presentation it was. You were brilliant, Hermione.” 
 
Hermione smiled slightly, “Thank you professor, but Draco also contributed a lot to the presentation as well.” McGonogal looked slightly taken aback at Hermione’s words, but her surprise was quickly replaced with a smile. “Congratulations anyway. I’ll just go have a little chat with Mr. Malfoy about this wonderful presentation of yours,” and she bustled away to Draco. 

Once Draco had finished talking to just about everyone in the room, he looked up at last and he found Hermione intently spying on him. Their eyes locked and a jolt of electricity seemed to pass through both of their bodies, the room and everyone else seemingly frozen in time. All they could hear was the beating of their hearts, deafening to the pair them. A small smile curled Hermione’s lips upwards and she stared at him warmly. 

Realizing that someone was talking to her, Hermione turned round to see Professor McGonogal once more. Breaking eye contact with Draco, she turned to look at her former head-of-house. “Yes professor?” she asked politely.

“I know that everyone intends to have dinner now, but I feel that you and Mr Malfoy deserve a much more satisfying reward than dinner with a bunch of old wizards talking nonsense,” 

Hermione grinned at the professor’s suggestion and almost suddenly Draco was at her side. “What did McGonogal want?” he asked, loosening his collar a little. 

“She said that we should forget about dinner with these old coots and celebrate in a more enjoyable way. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a pretty good idea,” 

“I couldn’t agree more,” Draco laughed and pretty soon they were back in the Manor. Draco began to head straight for the kitchen, quite suddenly remembering that he had not had anything since that cup of coffee in the morning, but Hermione pulled him back and raced up the stairs with him. 
 

“Come on, get changed. I know the perfect place to go, but it’s muggle so don’t wear your robes” she cried happily. Draco was still feeling impulsive after the presentation and did not put an argument. He went into his room, changed into black jeans, a grey shirt and a leather jacket. They were going to the muggle side but he didn’t feel comfortable going anywhere without his wand. He placed it in his inside jacket pocket and checked his hair was immaculate in the mirror before waiting outside Hermione’s door. 

 
“Are you ready?” he called to her. 

“Wait a minute,” she called back. He could tell by her muffled voice that she was slipping out of her robes and changing into muggle attire. He tried to stop his mind from wandering what it must be like to be a fly on her room wall at the moment but failed dismally. 

“Why are we going to muggle Paris? Haven’t you seen enough muggle things on all your trips with your family? Why don’t we just go get a bite to eat in Abeille Ruelle?”

“Trust me, you won’t be disappointed,” was her reply. He waited, pacing up and down in front of her door, still hyped-up from their stellar performance when he heard the door click open and he turned round. He had to remember to suck in breath and he placed his hands on the banister behind him to steady himself. 

Instead of choosing an outfit like the conservative skirt and top she had worn on their trip to the Louvre, Hermione had decided to try something a bit different. Her hair was swept up in a clip with a few tendrils hanging down, revealing her long, slender neck. She had put on some more make-up, not a lot, but enough to make her hazel eyes somehow brighter and framed in long, dark lashes, and make her lips shine when they caught the light. But the dress was the killer. She was wearing a little, shimmering red dress, which fit close to her body, not too tight but curving to every delectable inch of her. It had elegant, loose sleeves made of a light, flimsy, translucent material. The neckline rested a little below the base of her neck and it was short with the hem of the dress only extending to the middle of her thigh, showing off those incredible legs he had first spied on the train. 

 “Wow,” was all that would escape his mouth. 
 

Instead of being embarrassed however, Hermione smiled coyly but confidently. “Well, I guess that means we’re ready to leave…” They went down and she opened the doors, holding it open for Draco. As Draco passed through the doorway, she smiled again, “You might want to try closing your mouth a bit Draco. The muggles will be wondering what you’re gawking at.” 

 She knew she was in for a night to remember.

 

*

Music: Time is running out - Muse
Please review =]


 

Chapter 15: Chapter fifteen
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Chapter 15:

“I still can’t believe you talked me into this. You’ve brought me to the biggest muggle tourist trap in the entire city to celebrate?”

“Trust me, you’re going to love it,” Hermione assured him, “The best time to go to the Eiffel Tower is just before sunset. The view is breathtaking.”

He wasn’t sure that that was what he wanted. She had already stolen his breath once, he wasn’t sure he had quite gotten it back either. “Maybe it’s charmed to make gullible muggles, such as yourself think that load of rubbish just to make more money?” Draco pondered this line of reasoning. “Hmm, maybe not all muggles are as stupid as I thought,” he laughed lightly as he ran his hand through his hair in an easygoing relaxed sort of way.

Hermione poked him lightly in the arm and countered, “I am not gullible. And I already told you, the Eiffel Tower has absolutely no magical charms on it. It’s one hundred percent muggle, built by the blood, sweat and tears of physical labour.”

“That would explain why there are no walls surrounding this thing,” he remarked, a sly smile breaking free of his lips, “They put all their blood, sweat and tears into putting the girders and steel beams that by the time they got around to putting some walls to cover everything, they were too bloody tired and lazy to go on. They probably decided to leave it as it is and go get drunk and fat on some cheap wine and mouldy cheese,” he laughed, finding himself terribly funny and Hermione, glad for the first frivolous moment of the day, joined him. He was trying to keep his excitement in check as the elevator soared higher and higher but Hermione could see the anticipation gleaming in his crystalline eyes. He reminded her of herself as a young girl riding up in this same elevator with her parents, waiting to reach the top for the first time. She thought she’d never feel that exhilaration again; she had visited the Eiffel Tower on every trip to France she had taken but never with the same thrill as the first time. But now, as Draco’s eyes danced like silver fairy lights, she felt that rush once more and her heart pounded with excitement at seeing the city and the spectacular view, which awaited them at the top.

Finally reaching its destination, the elevator stopped roughly. Hermione’s legs wobbled a bit, but she admired Draco’s ability to not waver in the least, even more so when she realized that this was probably the first muggle elevator Draco Malfoy had ridden.

When they stepped out, Hermione heard a small gasp escape Draco’s mouth. The sight of Paris spread beneath them was positively breathtaking. The sun was just setting, there was a mild, cool breeze around them, blowing Hermione’s floaty sleeves slightly. The lights in all the cafés down below were just coming on, reflecting like sparkling gems in the rippling waters on the Seine. She could see for miles around; the charming city at its most charming hour.

Draco couldn’t speak; his mouth haltered by the stunning splendour that was Paris. The lights all around seemed to be generating their own form of magic, twinkling on patterns across the darkening sky. He wondered how his father had ever justified him from such an awe-inspiring sight. Had Lucius ever been at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Would he have thought differently had he seen the sight spread before Draco tonight?

As they stood at the guardrail, her shoulder brushing lightly against his arm, she could tell Draco’s thoughts were drifting over the amazing city beneath them and reaching across the sea to England. His voice was neutral when he spoke, “When I was a boy, my father bought me to Paris on one of his business trips. While he went to meetings, Isabel – my nanny- and I roamed all over magical Paris, but she would never dare to take me to the muggle side in fear of what my father would say- or do. One day, we were eating lunch in the floating restaurant above Notre Dame when I spotted an immense, iron looking tower piercing the skyline. I begged Isabel to take me but she refused. She said my father forbade her to take me anywhere near anything muggle because muggles were filthy parasites. But I asked my father for permission anyway. Naturally he refused. He said the Eiffel Tower was nothing special,” as the sun kissed the horizon and made to settle in for the night, Draco’s voiced warmed with emotion, “But he was wrong.”

His eyes flickered to Hermione standing beside him. She was looking straight ahead but he could tell she was listening intently to his every word. She always did. He looked slowly around and saw young couples kissing or holding hands as they strolled along. Suddenly it struck Draco that he was standing atop one of the most romantic monuments in the world with a girl he used to think was below him. A girl he not only didn’t hate anymore, but who also seemed capable of making him reveal his innermost secrets with her mere presence. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Draco pushed himself away from the bar and added some much needed distance between Hermione and him. He jerked his head towards the elevator and smiled, “Lets see what kind of night life this city has. I’ve been so wound up about that presentation I haven’t eaten a thing today. I’m famished,” with a flash of his flawless smile he added, “Come on, Granger. You’re buying me dinner.”

Hermione laughed and tore her eyes away from what remained of the picture perfect sunset, her back pressed against the wall, “Oh really? And why am I buying you dinner Mr ‘I’m-so-rich-even-my-shoelaces-are-trimmed-in-gold’?”

“Because I spent the last of my muggle money on a T-shirt not even worth a knut. At least I’m not wearing it, it’s for healer Connors,”

“I’m sure he’ll be a big hit in the staff room wearing a T-shirt that says ‘One of my healers went to Paris and all he brought me back was this dumb T-shirt’” she snorted slightly, pushing herself away from the rail.

*

The clock was due to strike midnight in less than ten minutes and they were heading back to the magical side of Paris when Hermione noticed it: Razzamatazz, a muggle club with a bright neon sign hanging over the door. She knew she shouldn’t really take Draco into a place swarming with muggles, but she suddenly felt full of energy. This had been one of the best days she could remember and she did not want it to end. She grabbed Draco’s wrist and pulled him across the street, “Come on, we’re gonna have some eleventh-hour fun,”

She was expecting him to resist, even just a bit, but he let her lead him to the bright lights in curious silence. He didn’t utter a sound as she paid their cover charge, nodded to the bouncer at the door or even make a comment about the blinking strobe lights or blaring music. He seemed completely unfazed but undeniably curious about the whole club scene before him.

Hermione began to make her way to the dance floor, but this time Draco grabbed her wrist. She turned to look at him, his silver eyes reflecting the strobe lights like two mirrors, “Where are you going?” he asked, shouting so she could hear him over the loud music.

“To the ladies’ room,” she stated matter-of-factly.

“What about me? You’re not just going to leave me here to fend for myself against all these muggles?” he looked about warily, “What if one of them tries to talk to me?”

Containing her laughter, she cocked her head to the side, “What do you mean ‘one of them’? They’re just muggles. They don’t bite.” But just then a group of gothic looking girls, wearing thick leather dog-collars, had bright neon streaks in their hair, multiple tattoos and with piercings in just about every visible opening on their faces walked by, leering at Draco and eyeing him like a lioness sizing up her next mate. “OK, maybe some bite,” she giggled at the horrified look on Draco’s face, “Jeez, I’m just kidding, Draco. Lighten up; we have a lot to celebrate. We both deserve some fun,”

“Fun or no fun, I’m not talking to any of these muggles,” he saw the humour dancing in Hermione’s eyes and quickly added, “And I’m not dancing either,” he pushed his shoulders back proudly, “Malfoys don’t dance.”

Hermione rolled her eyes at him, “Fine, then just go grab us a table and try not to hex anybody while I’m gone. I won’t be long,” she smiled and squeezed his hand reassuringly on noticing his worried expression before disappearing into the crowd, leaving him alone.

He tried getting a drink of pumpkin juice at the bar but the bartender eyed him peculiarly. There was a girl standing a few feet away from him, some sort of beverage in her hand. “What’s she drinking?” he asked the bartender.

“Coke and rum,” the bartender replied.

“I’ll guess I’ll try one of those,” He took a sip of his drink at the bar. It was very sweet and fizzed, making his nose tingle, causing him to sneeze, but he liked it nonetheless, tasting the faint flavour of rum on his tongue. He sat at the bar, sipping his drink, looking around at the many people in the club whilst keeping any eye on the hallway leading to the restrooms for any sign of Hermione. There was a similarity between this muggle club and the countless magical ones he had been to in England and Italy; the line for the men’s room always seemed to be empty, but the line for the ladies’ room seemed to stretch on for miles.

After what seemed an exceptionally long time, he looked around to see if Hermione had emerged yet from the bathroom but on laying his eyes on the dance floor, he found her dancing playfully in the middle whilst talking to a blonde muggle girl, several males giving her approving once-overs. He watched her dance, laughing carelessly; he had never seen her in such a way before and he didn’t noticed the small smile that had befallen his lips.

Evie, a charming Irish muggle girl that Hermione had met in the ladies room earlier, leaned in towards Hermione as they danced and said loudly over the music, “Do you know that blonde guy? He can’t seem to be able to take his eyes off you,” she nodded over at Draco, sat at the bar. Hermione followed her gaze and her eyes met Draco’s before she turned back to Evie.

“That’s Draco. He’s my partner at the hospital,” Hermione replied.

Evie returned to stare at Draco, her eyes keen before she turned back to Hermione, “How can you stand being around him for so long and not melting when he looks at you with those gorgeous eyes of his?”

You have no idea, Hermione thought, but simply shrugged, “It’s just, Malfoy” and returned to dancing, asking herself the same question. They had been dancing for over half an hour now when a well-built, medium height and ginger haired man came up to Hermione, eyeing her in her little red dress like a ripe peach ready for a big strong man to pluck her from her tree. Hermione figured her must’ve spent lots of time at the gym to get his arms as big as they were. Evie groaned, “Don’t look now but it’s Patrick Smith; resident bully, thinks he’s god’s gift to women and an annoying, pain-in-the-effing-backside colleague,”

Taking note of how despite his physique he looked somewhat around their age, Hermione watched as he sauntered forward, leering at Hermione. He wasn’t alone either; he had a couple of friends with him and they all resembled each other, same haircut, same jeans, same physique. The only major difference was that they wore different shirts.

“Why Hello, Evie,” he said sweetly and Hermione immediately took notice of the thick, Irish accent.

“Hello Patrick,” Evie responded through clenched teeth, “Don’t you have someone else to annoy tonight?”

“But you’re so much fun to annoy,” he smirked, walking around Hermione and eyeing her body from every angle possible. “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your sexy little friend? Didn’t your parents teach you any manners, Evie?” he took Hermione’s hand and was raising it to his mouth to kiss it, like some sort of gentleman, but Hermione tugged it away forcefully and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

“A simple ‘How do you do?’ will suffice, thank you.” Hermione remarked tartly. Subconsciously, she glanced in Draco’s direction and found him looking directly at her, a quizzical look on his face.

“Well, looky here boys, Evie’s hottie friend is English. Would you like a spot of tea?” he asked in a horrid English accent, which made Hermione wince at how awful one could butcher the English language. However, he and his cronies laughed, finding his pathetic attempt at humour utterly amusing.

Draco watched as the whole scene unfolded. He could not hear what they were saying, But Hermione’s body language spoke volumes and she obviously did not want to be around the big guy with ginger, little to no hair. He had often been the recipient of those venomous looks of hers and knew the get-together on the floor was definitely not a friendly one. He also knew she could handle herself just fine; his face had stung for thirty minutes straight after that severe slap she had given him in third year. But some strange part of him was feeling protective.

He watched a little while longer, but when he saw the ginger man take hold of Hermione’s hand and her subsequent tugging away, he promptly jumped from his seat like a jack in the box and made his way over to the dance-floor, placing his hand in his pocket to check he still had his wand inside.

“Is there a problem?” Draco asked as he moved directly next to Hermione. Draco had seen that Patrick and his motley crew were large but now that they were face-to-face he could see exactly how large they were. But it made no difference; Draco showed not even the slightest hint of being intimidated.

“Everything’s fine here, Draco. Why don’t you go back to the bar?” Hermione reasoned. The last thing she wanted was a scene to draw attention to them, in a muggle club no less.

“Yeah, Pretty boy, everything’s fine, so why don’t you mind your own business?” he looked sideways at Hermione, “This sexy young lady was just begging me to dance with her and I could turn down an offer from such a sweet piece of ass,”

Draco made a sudden move to start towards Patrick, but Hermione quickly stepped in front of them and pressed her hands firmly against Draco’s chest. “Draco, please, lets just say goodnight to Evie and get out of here. It’s past midnight anyway.”

But Patrick was sneering at Draco from behind Hermione’s back and Draco knew that he had to do something to permanently wipe that sneer off. Just as he was reaching into his pocket to draw his wand, Patrick grabbed hold of Hermione from behind, spinning her towards him. With lightening speed, she managed to put enough space between them and elbowed him the ribs with her right arm. While he was gasping for breath, Hermione pulled her leg up into Patrick and kneed him the groin, leaving him moaning and groaning and very, very pissed off.

“You uptight little bitch!” he shouted furiously. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” he lunged at her but she thrust her hand forward, her knuckles meeting with his nose in a disgusting crunch. She had broken his nose and the blood was flowing freely. Finally, she swept her leg across his, meeting with the back of his knees and sweeping him clean off his feet so that he landed face down on the hard floor.

Patrick’s three burly friends made to grab Hermione but she had not seen them. She was looking down at Patrick sprawled all over the ground, moaning. Draco saw their every move but he was stood on the other side of their little circle and from his position he could not help Hermione without using his wand. He didn’t even think about what would happen if he were ever found to have performed magic in a room full of muggles. Instinctively, he thrust his hand inside his jacket, looked quickly to make sure everyone was still fixated on the fact that a thin girl like Hermione could take down such a beefy guy like Patrick. Quietly, he whispered a fainting charm and a smoky stream of light shot forth at Patrick’s friends. The first one fell promptly on his face on top of Patrick and the other two swiftly landed on top of him like a couple of dominoes.

Hermione turned round, saw the three guys lying in a heap on the floor and Draco placing his wand inside his jacket, smirking in a pleased-with-himself way. She instantly put two and two together.
“We have to get out of here!” she said furiously and grabbed him by the hand, trying to pull him away.

“But the fun’s just starting,” he laughed, but on catching sight of Patrick and his cronies, slowly stirring and the bouncer from the door rushing forwards, “On second thoughts, perhaps you’re right.” He turned round to a confused Evie and glanced at his wrist with its nonexistent watch, “My my, will you look at the time? It was lovely to meet you but it appears we’re leaving now. So long.”

Hermione yanked his hand and started pulling him through the crowd. They ducked past several more bouncers at the door and took off down the street, hand in hand, the darkness engulfing them, Draco laughing with glee and Hermione frowning in disapproval.
*
Music: A kiss to send us off – Incubus
A/N: Patrick is a lot of fun to write =] No updates until staff reopen the queue so in the meantime, please make my day and review.

-Sera


Chapter 16: Chapter sixteen
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Chapter 16: 

 
“I can’t believe you just did that!” Hermione said furiously as they ran through the streets. Patrick and his gang had stirred and begun a chase for Draco and Hermione. 

 “Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, they were about to beat you,” Draco snapped back. 

“I can take care of myself! Besides, that’s not even the point. You performed magic in a roomful of muggles! You’d best hope the French Ministry don’t hear about this.” 


“They won’t.” he said in a terse, confident voice. “And no one saw me.” 


Hermione sighed and stopped briefly, turning to face him. “I was determined to have a great night, Draco and it was great, until you did that.” 

“Oh, so I ruined your night?” He spat back icily. Consciously, he let go of her hand. 

 “No, I didn’t mean that-” she was cut off by the sound of approaching footsteps and she groaned and began to run. Draco was quickly at her side keeping pace with her, but his face was dark. Patrick appeared suddenly at the place where they had been seconds ago. 

“There’s you are, you bitch!” He screamed across the street and broke into a run. 

“Shit” Hermione muttered and glanced back at Patrick’s advancing on them. Her eyes landed on something else and she contemplated the consequences. There weren’t many. “Give me your wand.” 

 “What?” Draco asked sharply. 

 “Give me your wand. Quick!”
 

Warily, he handed her his wand. Hermione glanced back, aiming the wand for a water hydrant and muttering, “Diffindo,” The top of the fire hydrant shot up in the air and water began to fly violently everywhere. Hermione sighed with relief as she saw Patrick struggling to get past the water and she grabbed Draco’s arm and pulled him along. “Come on, I don’t want to get soaked.” 
 

“Uh, Hermione? My wand please.” Draco requested, silently impressed at her quick thinking. Hermione gave him back his wand and they turned into another street. Unfortunately, Patrick’s friends’ voices could be here. 
 
“Paddy! You all right, mate?” A gruff, deep voice could be heard yelling. 

 “What does it look like? Go find that bitch and her boyfriend!” Patrick roared. 


Draco clenched his teeth. “Doesn’t that guy ever give up?” He pulled Hermione into a small, dark space in between two buildings and pushed her into the wall before turning to the open space and raising his wand. 

“Draco, not again.” Hermione groaned. 

“Hermione, shush! I’m just going to put up an invisibility shield so they can’t see us.” 

Hermione remained silent as she watched him close his eyes in concentration before he muttered the spell and a beam of silver light shot from his wand and covered the opening, setting a faint silvery glow into the passage. “Has it worked?” she asked anxiously. 

 
“Yes, but it’s not soundproof.” Draco replied quietly and retreated back to where she was, pressing himself up against the wall, due to the limited space, but their bodies were still pressed up quite closely. They waited with baited breaths until Patrick’s friend rushed past and stopped in front of the alley, staring straight ahead. Hermione’s heart was beating violently and loudly, she was afraid it would give them away. Without warning, the friend seemed like he was about to stick his head through the shield and Hermione opened her mouth to utter a gasp. Draco caught sight of her and urgently pulled her to him and placed his hand over her mouth. 

Mercifully, the friend retreated and called up the street, “They ain’t here, Paddy!”

“I could swear I saw that bastard going in there.” Patrick’s displeasure was evident in his snarl. They waited a few more minutes until the voices had completely gone. Draco breathed a sigh of relief but Hermione was still stiff against his body. He moved his hand from her mouth and turned her to face him –with difficulty. 

“You almost gave us away, you know.” He said neutrally. 

Hermione moaned and looked up at him. “I know… witty idiot.” She added under her breath. 

Draco chuckled quietly and stared down at her. Her hair had come out of the clip and sat about her shoulders in messy tendrils, a few sweat beads shone on her forehead and she was breathing heavily. She looked delectable. Throwing caution to the wind, he leaned in and captured her lips with his in a fervent, hungry kiss. Without thinking about it, Hermione fell deeply into the kiss and kissed him back hungrily, her arms snaking around his neck, as he easily lifted her off the ground and pushed her against the wall before wrapping his arms around her small frame, all the time, never breaking the kiss.

His hands travelled up her body appreciatively and found their way into her hair, running through the strands wildly. A small shudder engulfed her body at his soft touch and she pulled him closer, falling into his taut chest. He fought to stay in control, but control had long since deserted him and his mouth left hers to trail butterfly kisses across her jaw and neck. He breathed in her scent and he felt oddly light headed and disorientated. His hands travelled back to her waist and he pulled her closer, causing there to be no gaps between them and as she pulled him back to kiss her again, an amazing sensation of lust and pleasure overtook his body.
 
Realization at what she was doing hit Hermione forcefully in the head and she quickly pulled back, panting slightly. 

“Stop.” She muttered to Draco whose lips were at the silkily smooth spot just below her ear. He obeyed and looked down at her questioningly. 

"You know where this is going to lead. We’ve got to stop doing this,” she breathed. 

Draco groaned and ignored her, returning to leech his lips to the base of her throat. Hermione scowled but her anger slowly began to dissolve with every second her kept his velvety lips against her skin. Desperately trying to swipe at whatever self-control she had left, she slowly and unwillingly pulled back, placing her hands on Draco’s taut chest and pushing him away. 

 “One more? Please?” Draco pleaded sweetly, running a finger gently up her arm. 

 Hermione glared half-heartedly. “You always have to get your own way, don’t you?” 

Draco merely smirked before leaning in to plant a sweet, slow kiss on her lips. “You’re correct on that count, Miss Granger,” he confirmed and let his lips linger before pulling back. Hermione rolled her eyes, before she breathed deeply and exhaled, clipping her hair back into place. 

“So, are we going home now?” she asked. 

 “Where else?” 

He took hold of her hand and they disapparated to the Manor. Seconds later, they were in the drawing room and Draco fell down on the sofa, exhausted. He vowed to himself that he was going to sleep till three the next afternoon. He had never felt more shattered. Hermione had already moved to the door, but stopped before going out. She turned to face him, contemplated him for a while before smiling. “Thanks for a great evening.” And then she disappeared. 

“The same to you, Miss Granger,” he muttered quietly to himself and got up to go to his room.   

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

 The sun flooded in through the high windows and Draco could feel the warmth on his face. Groaning, he sat up in the bed, rubbing his eyes. His head felt heavy and he threw it back on the pillow, turning to face the clock on the cabinet. His eyes widened as he saw the time: four fifty three PM. Had he really slept for that long? Why hadn’t Hermione woken him up? What was she doing anyway? Getting out of his bed, he pulled on a T-shirt and some sweatpants before going down, calling Hermione’s name. 

 "In the kitchen.” She replied. Did she ever stay out of the kitchen nowadays? He went in and inhaled the scents deeply, his mouth suddenly watering. She looked like she was cooking a feast. 
 
“Morning, or should I say Good afternoon?” Hermione grinned, ceasing her stirring and took a seat at the island. “I didn’t know you could sleep for that long.” 

“I can sleep longer. You’ve never seen me with a hangover, let’s just put it at that. When did you wake up?” 

“Seven.”

“Seriously, Hermione.” He scoffed. 

 “Seriously.” 

 “What have you been doing then?” 

 "Well, I went for a walk with Gabriella in the park, early in the morning-” Draco raised an eyebrow sceptically.  

“You went for a walk with Gabriella? Are you pulling my leg? You hate Gabriella.” He interrupted, hiding a snigger. 

“I do not hate her!” Hermione denied vehemently. “She just came here really early and said she was nervous about their presentation, so I offered to go for a walk with her.” Her words were so sincere that it threw Draco back for a moment. She had somehow managed to get over her dislike of Gabriella: he was amazed. 

“Oookay,” he drew out the word slowly, almost cynically. “What’s with the feast?” He gestured at all the food and pots and pans around them. 


“Oh, that. I invited Gabriella and Jasper for dinner. You know, to celebrate finishing their presentation.” She said cheerfully. Draco scowled. Couldn’t he go for a few days without having to come across Jasper Lesair? 

 “When are they coming?” 

 “Their presentation finishes in half an hour. They should be here at six thirty.” A sudden sizzling sound made her leap up and run to the cooker frantically. He could hear here muttering profanities under her breath as she frenetically stirred. 

“Need any help?” he asked. 

 “Could you prepare the dinner table please?” 

“Um, yeah, sure.” He muttered. He was hoping for something easier. Throughout his whole life, he’d had people who did things for him; so naturally, he lacked knowledge in some fields that common people would know about. Walking to the dining hall, he came up with ways to get out of the job. If only the elf was here…

 
“Cici!” he whispered urgently. A loud ‘CRACK’ sounded and he winced, sure that Hermione had heard and immediately Cici was in front of him. 

“Draco? What was that?” Hermione asked from the kitchen. 

“Nothing. I just said the wrong spell.” He lied easily and turned to Cici.

“Master Malfoy, sir! You called Cici?” the elf squeaked. 

 Draco raised a finger to his lips to tell the elf to be quiet. “I need you to prepare the table, please Cici. Quickly, without Hermione seeing you.” 

 The elf nodded and turned to begin with the task. Draco walked and he went up to his room and changed into something more acceptable for receiving guests. Slipping into precisely ironed black trousers, a white shirt and a light grey sweater, he wondered what Hermione would wear and whether she would look as luscious as she had yesterday. He put the collar of the shirt over the sweater neckline and slipped on some comfy shoes. Finally, he checked his hair in the mirror before going down back to the dining room. He found that Cici had already finished and was waiting patiently for him. 

 
"This is brilliant. Thank you, Cici.” He gratified. 

 “Your welcome Master Malfoy. May Cici return to Hogwarts, sir? There is a lot of work to be done there, sir.” 
 

“Yes, of course. Goodbye.” And with a silent crack this time, the elf disappeared. Pleased with himself, Draco walked into the kitchen, smirking. 

 “What are you looking so smug about?” Hermione asked on noticing his smirk. 

 “Huh? Nothing.” He said innocently. He could practically see a halo floating over his head and his smirk widened. 

“Right,” Hermione said doubtfully. “Anyway, I’m almost done and then I’m going to go have a shower and change. Why don’t you go do something to pass the time?” 


“Fine by me.” 

 He walked out to the courtyard, sat down on a bench and watched as the late afternoon soon shone down on the trees and a mild wind gently ruffled the leaves of the trees. April was drawing to a close and the warm spring temperature was inviting. He guessed it was raining in England; rain was an all-season climate there. His thoughts wandered back to yesterday night and he smiled happily, knowing that no ache would come from it, unlike the other times when he had kissed Hermione. How long he sat there, he did not know, he was only aware of the sun slowly setting, the shadows getting longer and longer and the wind increasing in coldness.

 

“Draco!” a soft, warm voice shouted and he looked up to see Gabriella rushing towards him, a bright, dazzling smile upon her face. Jasper was close behind. He stood up and allowed her to hug him, smiling happily. 

 “How was your presentation?” he asked, staring into her blue eyes. 

“It was great! I heard about yours, you were terrific!” she beamed. 


“I’m sure yours went as well as ours. Hello Jasper.” He said in an impartial voice. If Hermione had managed to dispel her dislike of Gabriella, he would try to, at the very maximum, get along with Jasper. 

 Jasper’s eyes looked surprised, but he hid that surprise and smiled back at Draco. “Bonsoir, Draco.” 

“Where is Hermione?” Gabriella asked curiously. 

 "She’s inside getting ready. Would you like to come in?”  
 

*

Hermione was highly impressed with Draco. He was actually managing to have a civilized conversation with Jasper. About Quidditch unfortunately. She and Gabriella managed to have several nice conversations over dinner. After eating, whilst Draco and Jasper continued their discussion on Quidditch, Hermione and Gabriella walked out in the courtyard, each holding a glass of wine in one hand. 

“You are quite a cook, Hermione.” Gabriella smiled. 

“Thank you. So, how did your presentation go?” Hermione replied, sipping on her wine. 

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to go as well as it did.” She admitted. “Your little pep talk really helped.” 

“Were you doubting it would work?” Hermione laughed. 

“A little.” 

They continued to stroll around in silence, frequently sipping on their wine before taking a seat at a bench. Hermione stared up at the chateau. “I think I’m going to miss France when we return to England. Life here is…different.” 

“Really? I would have thought you would like England more seeing as how all your friends and family are there and your life is focused there.” 

“Well, yes…but life here is so much more calmer and of course, it’s not really that far from England. I could go see my friends once a month easily.” 

 “That’s a fair point. So, there’s only a week left of the conference…” 

“I know. At first I thought six weeks would be a lifetime, but now I realize it’s not really that long.” 

“You know, Jasper is going to miss you.” 

“I’ll miss him too. He was really nice and I feel bad now that I haven’t been spending that much time with him… I think Draco’s going to miss you too.” 


“Draco can visit anytime. He’s been preoccupied lately.” They were approaching a touchy topic, but Hermione remained silent and listened to Gabriella. “He likes you, Hermione.”

 “Really Gabriella,” Hermione said, pretending to scoff but doing a bad job of it. “Besides, I thought you fancied the pants off him.” 

Gabriella laughed, unable to control herself. “I thought so too, but he felt far too familiar. It wasn’t until I was taking a walk with him that I realized why. He’s far too much like my brother, Sebastian. Besides, I have my eyes set on a bigger fish.” Her eyes gleamed mischievously in the moonlight. 

“Oh really? And who would that ‘fish’ be?” Hermione asked, raising her glass to her lips once more. 

“Why, Harry Potter, of course. Is he really as handsome as they make him out to be in the papers? I expect a proper introduction when I go visit in the summer.” Gabriella smiled sweetly, an innocent expression on her face.

Hermione pictured Harry gaping and tripping over his word at the leggy blonde bombshell and smiled. “Oh Gabriella, you’ll dazzle him. Besides, why are you going to England?” 


“To visit my mother’s family. Didn’t you know my mother is from England? She even went to Hogwarts. We try to go back and visit her family once a year. She’s distantly related to the Minister.” 

That explained Gabriella’s perfect English. 

“Are you taking Jasper as your date to the Bon Voyage ball?” 

“Yes. I suppose it’s the only way I can make it up to him for ignoring him a little.” Hermione replied. 

Something distant flickered across Gabriella’s face and her back stiffened a little but she smiled and said, “You know, it’s a black and white ball. I think you’ll look perfect in black. How about a shopping trip soon?” 

*

Music: Muuuuse.

A/N: Sorry for not updating earlier but I had to get my latest oneshot up and work has been exhausting as has school. Go check it out and leave a review if you have the time. Now I adore going into heated kissing scenes and some of my stuff does tend to get a little graphical, so I warn you in advance of further coming chapters.                                

-Sera xx

 

 

Chapter 17: Chapter seventeen
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“Why is the ball being held in Cannes?” Hermione asked Gabriella. They were shopping for a dress for Gabriella and Hermione could finally see what Gabriella’s favoured hobby was. She had already bought three pairs of shoes, a new dress robe made of finest silk, lots of jewellery and unknown presents for her and Draco. 

“Because Cannes is a glamorous city and it’s easier to hold a magical ball there than in Paris. The population of Cannes is considerably lower than that of Paris. Although there does seem to be lots of muggles around, especially at this time of year.” Gabriella replied. 

That would be the Cannes Film Festival, Hermione thought and her heart gave a feeble lurch at the thought of all the muggle celebrities. She was never the one to get excited about celebrities, that position was taken by Lavender Brown. 

“Are you sure getting Draco and Jasper to play with the French international Quidditch team was a good idea?” she asked unsurely. Whilst Hermione and Gabriella were out shopping, Gabriella had arranged for Draco and Jasper to go train with the French international Quidditch team. Her brother was an assistant coach there and easily gave her permission. 

“Of course it was. They’ll get to know each better.” Gabriella said dismissively with a wave of her hand. 

“Yes, but they’re both very competitive. If they get into a game, I hope they’re not half-dead by the end of it. Draco is a sore loser.” Hermione bit her lips nervously. 

“Hermione, relax. Forget Draco, forget Jasper, forget everything and just shop. Now, what do you think of this cute little dress?” 

And so she did. She forgot Draco, she forgot Jasper and just had fun buying lots of presents for her friends back home. Gabriella didn’t like any of the dresses she saw on the high street and preceded to go into a designer muggle shop. “I’ve always thought muggle clothes were nicer than the things we wear. I quite favour this shop.” 

*

Draco stared in the mirror and adjusted his bow tie for what seemed the hundredth time. He would’ve liked the tuxedo if the tie weren’t trying to suffocate him. He breathed deeply and ran a hand through his hair before going down to the drawing room where Jasper and Gabriella were sat. 

Gabriella looked stunning, almost angelic, in a beautiful long white dress that fell to the floor, accentuating her willowy figure attractively and twinkled with several diamante patterns. Her long blonde hair was pulled up at the back in an elegant up-do whilst a delicate diamond headband sat amongst the blonde tresses. She had very little makeup on, her natural beauty shinning through and the only evident makeup that she was wearing was a sweep of lip-gloss that made her lips glimmer in the light. She was giving off an angelic golden glow that beautified everything it fell on. 

“You look stunning,” he smiled at her. She smiled happily and replied, “You don’t look too bad yourself.” 

Draco turned to Jasper and stared at him. He was sure many females would be drooling after him tonight. He looked handsome and debonair in a black tuxedo similar to Draco’s. 

“Is Hermione still not ready?” he asked. 

“Draco, you know she hardly goes to events like this like the rest of us do. Give her some time.” 
 
He sat down in an armchair and stared into the fire, waiting. Would she look as good as she had done on their visit to the Eiffel Tower? He had finally given her his mother’s dress to wear, which quite conveniently, was black. If she looked half as good as Gabriella did, he would be more than content.

Gabriella went to check on Hermione and when she did come back, a mischievous smile swam across her lips. She stood with her back to the double door, her arm extending gracefully.  
 
“Gentlemen, I proudly present, Miss Hermione Granger!” she pulled the doors open and stepped aside. 

Draco’s breath hitched in his throat and Jasper stood up, a hungry gleam in his eyes. Hermione stood there, coy and beautiful in the doorway. The dress fell to the floor, a perfect compliment of satin and lace, contrasting delectably against her pale skin and accentuating her lissom body delightfully. Her cheeks were rosy, eyes wide and glittering, and her teeth nervously biting on the lips shining in the light. Most of her hair was pulled back into a loose design, the remaining dark curls falling at the back of her neck and Draco could only imagine how provocative her neck must look. 

“Hermione, you look gorgeous.” Gabriella beamed and looked pointedly at Draco and Jasper. 

Jasper recovered first. He moved towards Hermione and bent to kiss her cheek. “You look so beautiful,” he breathed, his lips lingering on her cheek and moving to her ear before pulling back, his eyes smouldering. Hermione closed her eyes and savoured the warmth of his lips on her skin and once he pulled back, she said quietly, “You look very handsome. I’m lucky to have you as my date.” 

Her eyes then flickered to Draco, stood by the fire and her pulse quickened, her breath catching in her throat. His pale skin and platinum hair were contrasting perfectly against the black of his tuxedo and he looked so much more beautiful than she had cared to notice. 

“You look…nice” she said meekly. 

 “Thank you. So do you.” 

Understatement, his mind snickered. He watched with growing envy as Jasper gave Hermione a black corsage and helped her put it on and she allowed him to kiss her again and he noticed how Jasper’s lips moved much too quickly from her cheek to the corners of her mouth. 
 
“Shall we go then?” Gabriella asked placidly. 

“Yes, please.” Hermione replied. Draco went over to take hold of Gabriella’s hand so he could apparate alongside her to the right venue. He closed his eyes as not to see Jasper take hold of Hermione’s hand and soon he felt his breathing being constricted, meaning that they were Apparating. And as quickly as it had come, the constricting sensation faded and they stopped, his feet on solid ground. He turned to look around him and saw himself in the reception area of a large and beautiful building, several large, golden and magnificent chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling. Through the glass doors he could see the harbour outside, several lights reflected in the black water and he smiled against himself. He had always found that harbours were beautiful, calming places to be at, especially at night. 

They went into the large assembly hall and glanced round in amazement. It was a great hall and had been decorated lavishly for the event. The walls seemed to be made of solidified metallic glitter so that they were reflected in them, oddly distorted. The tables had been decorated in silver and white and magnificent chandeliers, similar to the ones in the reception, although black in colour, hung from the ceiling. And of course, everyone else was wearing black and white and that was decoration enough in itself. 
 
“This is beautiful,” Hermione whispered to Jasper. 

“Not as beautiful as you.” He replied with a smile. Hermione felt some red colour her cheeks, but she managed to keep her blush in check. She turned and saw Draco and Gabriella. They didn’t look as impressed as she felt; clearly they had been to numerous other soirees to not be as impressed as Hermione and possibly ones much more extravagant. Draco grabbed a glass of champagne from a nearby platter held by a waiter and sipped, sophistication oozing from every one of his little movements. 

Gabriella was simply looking around radiating so much beauty; it was almost painful to look at. Several young men and even some older wizards were eyeing her lasciviously and she suddenly felt a little protective. She did not want Gabriella to speak to those who were clearly after more than just her company. 

“Would you care to dance?” Jasper asked, bowing suavely and extending a hand to her. She smiled and set her hand in his and felt his warm fingers wrap themselves around her hand protectively. 

“It would be my pleasure.” 

She settled her other hand on his chest whilst his arm rested at her waist. Slowly they moved around the floor, Jasper whispering several compliments in her ear and cracking jokes that made her giggle, some quite rude. 
 
“I’m sorry I haven’t been spending as much time with you as I should have. I was just busy at times and confused most of the time.” She apologized regretfully, realizing how much she had missed him. 

“That’s quite all right. I understand. I’ll miss you once you go back to England. Why don’t you come back here over the summer holiday?” he replied, dropping her hand and wrapping his arms around her waist. Hermione bought her hands to his shoulders, pulling him closer. She loved this, feeling this close with him and she’d loved the times he had kissed her, evoking a warm, pleasurable glow in her but she also loved what Draco did to her. She sighed. 

“For you, I’d come here every holiday.” She smiled. 

He smiled an uneven, devastating smile that left Hermione breathless before he leaned in and captured her lips with his in a slow, deliberate kiss. Hermione kissed him back, her hands curling round the back of his neck and lost herself in the sweetness of his lips. Ecstasy overtook her body and she moaned into his mouth, pulling him closer, her hands running through his hair wildly. 

Have you gone insane! There are hundreds of people here and Draco is probably watching you! Her mind screamed ridiculously loud whilst she tried to enjoy Jasper’s kisses but when she heard it and fully took it in, she gently, slowly and unwillingly pulled away, hoping not to hurt Jasper. She tiptoed and whispered in his ear, “I’ll miss you too. A lot.”  The words were true, but she took the opportunity to steal a glance around and find Draco. He was talking with an official looking wizard and didn’t seem like he had noticed anything, but Gabriella had. She met Hermione’s gaze and scowled, nodding in the direction of Draco. Hermione grimaced and half-shrugged as to say, ‘What could I do?’ 

“Would you like something to drink?” Jasper asked, breaking her train of thought. Hermione planted herself firmly back on her feet and smiled, “That would be perfect.” And she kissed his ear before he went, inhaling the smell of his neck deeply. Jasper left, and she stood there looking around at the dancing couples, whilst lost in deep thought. 


I shouldn’t be doing this, toying with their emotions. Both of them. She thought with a deep sigh. She liked Draco, even though it would never work out between them and Jasper just made her feel so special and he was so nice and…uncomplicated. Perhaps if she waited to get back to England, then things would return to normal between her and Draco and when she came back here to visit Jasper, she would yield herself to him? It seemed like a satisfactory route to take but she was still unsure. 

Jasper returned with two glasses of champagne and they slowly made their way out of the hall towards the harbour. Hermione watched the lights of the city reflected in the dark water; this was perfect. 
 
“It’s beautiful here.” Hermione sighed. 

“It is.” Jasper agreed and sipped on his glass. 

“You know, despite all my time here, I’ve never really gotten to know you that well.” Hermione mused. 

“Really?” he was amused and it showed in his velvet voice. 

“Really. Okay, so what is your middle name?” 
 
“Deveraux.” 

“Birthday?”

“March 10th.”

“Okay. Favourite colour?” 
 
“Black.”

“Talents?” 

“Apart from healing?”

“Yes, apart from healing,” she chuckled. 

“Quidditch, Piano and I speak three other languages.” 
 
“Quite talented then. Weaknesses?” 

Jasper considered this for a while before replying, “Falling for pretty English girls by the name of Hermione Granger.” 


Hermione threw her glass into the water and turned to look at him, her breath catching in her throat. She’d almost forgotten how exquisite he was, but now, his face basked in moonlight… without realizing what she was doing; she leaned in and initiated a deep, slow kiss. He responded, kissing her back hungrily, fingering her hair and his tongue darted out to meet hers in a battle for dominance. She moaned into his mouth, her hands travelling underneath his jacket before they curved round his shoulders to pull him closer. His mouth left hers to kiss her jaw and neck and she moaned again. It was hard to compare who kissed better, Jasper or Draco. 

After a few minutes of feverish kissing, they pulled back panting heavily, sweat beads on their foreheads, their lips swollen. 

“I think we should go in, they’ll be wondering where we’ve gotten to.” Hermione said breathlessly. Jasper nodded and Hermione made to turn and walk in but he pulled her back, kissing her fully on the mouth for a minute before pulling back, leaving her even more breathless. 

“If I’m not going to kiss you for a while, at least that will help me get through.” He said and took her hand pulling her in. “Fix your hair a little,” he muttered to her. His hands had done a poor job of ruining her hairstyle but it still looked mussed up. Immediately, Gabriella rushed to greet them. 

“Where were you?” she asked. Her voice was friendly, but her eyes narrowed suspiciously at Hermione. 

“We just went for a walk by the harbour,” Jasper lied expertly. 

“Okay,” Her eyes flickered to their entwined fingers and she immediately turned to Jasper and said, “Jasper, would you like to dance?” 

Jasper turned to Hermione and she shrugged, “I don’t mind.” 

He let go of her hand and walked away with Gabriella to the floor. Hermione was left to stand there, staring round at the hall and its occupants once more. A gentle tap on her shoulder made her turn around. It was Draco. He bowed and extended his hand to her. This must be some sort of tradition amongst the rich young men when they asked girls to dance with them at soirees. 

“May I have this dance, Miss Granger?” he asked in his smoothest voice. Surprised but delighted, Hermione curtsied and set her hand in his. 

“It would be my pleasure, Mister Malfoy.” 

He smirked, happy that she was playing along and settled his hand at her waist and they comfortably swayed to the music, travelling round the floor. 

“Do you remember the Yule Ball in our fourth year?” she asked softly, unaware that the song had ended and was now drifting into a slower melody. 

“Yes, But for all the wrong reasons.” He sighed. 

“Let me guess…Parkinson?” she presumed impishly.

“Pretty much, yes. So, where’d you get off to with Lesair a few minutes ago?” he asked casually but there was an edge to his voice. 

“Just a walk around the harbour,” Hermione said in what she hoped was a nonchalant voice, but her burning cheeks were starting to betray her. She screamed for her brain to tame the blush and it did, leaving her cheeks rosy.  

“Who were you talking with earlier?” she asked, not wanting him to interrogate her further. 
 
“Just an old family friend. You know, this isn’t so bad really,” he chuckled. 
 
“It isn’t, you’re right. I can’t believe we’re going back to England tomorrow.” 

He shrugged. Her arm was getting tired of being held at the side, so she dropped it out of his hand and snaked her arms around his neck whilst his travelled to her waist and he pulled her closer. She felt his taut chest against her body and she sighed, content. It was amazing how her body seemed to mould perfectly into his.

“This is probably the last time that we’ll get to be us,” he sighed. 

“Us?” Hermione asked, confused. 

“You know…this. When we return to England, they’re going to expect us to hate each other again and if we get along they’ll think something happened, which in turn will lead to rumours, which will reach my aunt and then we’ll be dead.” He said cheerfully. Hermione snickered, aware of how true and ironic it all was. She stared up into his crystalline grey eyes and melted; they were warm, warmer than she had ever seen them before, almost smouldering. 

“What happened to our ‘nasty indiscretions’?” she pouted and he chuckled. 

“You want to continue with our ‘shortcomings’ back in England?” 

“Why not?” 

“Oh, only for a million and one reasons that I could name but just can’t be bothered to.” 
 
They remained silent for another short while, just comfortable with the intimacy. Draco stared down at her, drinking in her beauty and he remembered something. 

“You know, I never really got to tell you how gorgeous you look tonight. I think nice was a bit of an understatement.” He breathed into her ear, pulling her close. She felt his warm breath on her skin and shivered with pleasure. 

“Yes, it was. You don’t look nice, you look charming and…” she was aware the song had ended and broke free of his hold before tiptoeing to breathe her final word. “Irresistible.” 
 
And then she walked away, leaving him gaping after her. Was this really Hermione Granger, muttering to him that he was irresistible? He pinched himself. It hurt. This was real. Chuckling to himself, he made his way across the floor, dodging several waltzing couples before he moved out of the hall, out of the assembly foyer and out onto the harbour. He walked round, lost in thought. This was his last night being himself with Hermione and he was wasting it watching Lesair flirting with her. He could see why she would like Jasper; he was not blind. Jasper was charming, rich, handsome and didn’t care about the purity of blood or his family’s status…Jasper was uncomplicated. He was jealous of how Jasper could get any girl he wanted, regardless of her blood and class. And Jasper wanted Hermione.
 
He could hear voices getting louder and louder as he approached a corner. One of them was familiar: Jasper’s voice. A twinge in his stomach told him to stay still and listen carefully. He pressed himself against the wall of the building, taking note of every word being said. When he finally understood what the topic of discussion was, only a wave of pure fury kept him rooted to his spot.

*
A/N: I realized that I hadn’t been putting much focus on Hermione and Jasper’s relationship even though it is there and there is chemistry between the two. Hermione has kissed Jasper before but I just haven’t written it before. Reviews are very much appreciated. I made a meet the author page at the forums so if you guys have any questions, then I'd be happy to answer =)
-Sera


 

Chapter 18: Chapter eighteen
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Chapter 18:

Draco revelled in being right and he had no qualms about rubbing it in, but this time his victory was bitter. From the moment they had met, Draco knew that there was more to Jasper than just the façade he put up. He had tried to tell Hermione but being the stubborn mind that she was, she paid Draco no mind. With his striking good looks, dark hair, Quidditch and Healing talents and ability to convince people he’s just a sweet, charming guy, Draco knew immediately that Hermione would fall for him. 


With great detail, Jasper was telling his friends of how he would finally relish in the benefits of his great ‘scheme’ that night. After weeks of gushing affection, Jasper would finally be indulging in the fruits of his labour, and the only fruit on the menu was none other than Hermione Granger. 

Apparently, Jasper’s friends had seen the competition between Jasper and Draco for Hermione and the boys had placed a wager on who would be the first to get off with Hermione. It appeared that Hermione would be a famous notch on the bedpost for many young French wizards. She was intelligent and known to be the bookworm type, and snagging that type of girl always presented a certain level of challenge that men found almost, in a perverted way, exhilarating. And now, Jasper was under the impression that he and Hermione would be making a quick farewell to everyone at the Bon Voyage ball so he could give Hermione a private and ‘proper’ send off before returning to England. Jasper basked in the glory that in a couple of hours, he would be able to claim Hermione as his and mercilessly hold that over Draco. 
 
The initial shock wore off. Draco thought he was going to throw up. His Slytherin’s pulse started to race and his hands curled themselves into tight fists, his knuckles turning stark white. Propelled by his rage, Draco hurled himself around the corner and lunged at Jasper, attaching him with all his valour. Several of Jasper’s friends tried to pull the incensed blonde off their friend, but it was no use. Draco no longer cared if physical fighting was crude and beastly; he just knew no spell or hex in the world despicable enough to use on the Frenchman. Between his punches, Draco’s deep growling voice could be heard, “How dare you talk about Hermione that way, you filthy, sodding prick!” 

The suave, charming smile wiped clean off Jasper’s face, he taunted with a snarl, “You’re just jealous you couldn’t pull it off yourself. Face it, Malfoy; I won this round in our little game of ‘who’s better than who?’ Hermione. Likes. Me. Better.” He emphasized that word to a point that drove Draco over the edge. His fists punched furiously with much more vigour repeatedly colliding with Jasper’s side and face, until he picked him clean off his feet and threw him into the cold water. Immediately, one of Jasper’s friends dived in after him to pull him back onto the surface. Everyone was positive that he would not have the energy to pull himself back up after the beating Draco had given him. 

 
His friend pulled him out of the water, both of them dripping wet and Jasper choking for breath. Still propelled by his rage, Draco rushed forward to strike a fist into Jasper’s stomach. 

Murmurs spread around the hall that a fight had broken out on the harbour. Something told Hermione she needed to be there. A large crowd had already gathered around the brawling young men and Hermione quickly fought her way to the front. She gasped at the sigh in front of her: her charming French date, sprawled on the floor, soaking wet, being pummelled by her old enemy, who, less than a week ago, had denounced her for using physical violence when provoked. What in Merlin’s name was he doing? 

“Malfoy get off him! Have you gone completely inane?” she all but yelled, jumping forth to pull the sweaty blonde with bloody knuckles off her badly beaten date. At the sound of her voice, Draco stopped in mid-punch and looked at her. Finally she would see for herself what a crooked character Lesair was. He was breathing heavily and couldn’t catch his breath, but he needed to tell her. 

When Draco looked at her, she was staggered by the pure wrath peering back at her from his icy crystalline eyes. Never in all her years of facing off against his Slytherin friends, witnessed Draco Malfoy lose control with such furore. He’d never even glared at Harry and Ron with this amount of venom in his eyes. 

Jasper lay in a wet, bloodied heap on the floor and Hermione directly went to tend to his bruises. She leaned over and whispered soft, soothing words to him, taking his wand from the inside of his jacket and healing his injuries with a soft murmur of a spell. She and her friends had had too many run ins with Draco Malfoy to know that any fights were usually a direct result of something he’d either said or done. Hermione felt sure that this was no different, only this time Crabbe and Goyle weren’t here to do his dirty work for him. She felt physically ill that she’d enjoyed any of the time she spent with a person who could attack someone as nice as Jasper. 

Draco felt like he could jump out of his skin. From somewhere, Gabriella emerged from behind and approached him tentatively, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, causing him to jump at her touch. His eyes were filled with fire, smouldering heavily, but when he turned and saw her there, they softened immediately. She gave his arm a supportive, understanding squeeze and he turned back to Hermione, who was still tending to Jasper. “Hermione, you didn’t hear what this jerk…” 

She silenced him with a deathly glare. “Don’t you talk to me, Malfoy.” She spat acidly, “I can’t believe I actually thought you’d changed. A mistake I won’t be making again.” She helped Jasper to his feet and gripped him tightly, her arm around his waist, whilst he grimaced with pain. 

Draco was shocked. “Hermione, listen to me-”

“No, Draco Malfoy, I won’t listen. Just get away from me.” 
 
This was unbelievable. After everything Jasper had planned, he still came out smelling like a rose -possibly quite literally- whilst Draco became, once again, Ultimate Evil Wizard. He was fed up. She should’ve known better than to just assume he would just attack someone else without a good reason. How many times had she seen him sidestep fights with Potter and Weasley? She thought she had gotten to know him better in the past six weeks. But I guess not, he mused. To hell with her then. And with a quick turn, he had apparated back to the Manor. 

People were fussing over Jasper, making sure he was okay and some security came to check out what was happening. Hermione recognized Pegasus Maximilian amongst the crowd and was surprised when he came towards her. 

“Miss Granger, what happened here?” he asked curiously. 

Hermione took a deep breath, “Draco and Jasper were fighting but I don’t know why,” she choked on her words, still unable to believe what she saw. A saddened Gabriella stepped out of the crowd, still glowing beautifully but the unhappiness on her expression stole away some of her radiance. “It’s not how it seems, Hermione.” She said quietly and turned to Maximilian. “Hello, uncle.” She added almost inaudibly. 

Hermione stood still, rooted to the spot by the impact of Gabriella’s words. Gabriella took this as a sign to continue. 

“I saw what happened and Hermione, you’ve got it all wrong. Jasper is not the ‘innocent bystander’ you assume he is.” She breathed. 

Hermione and Maximilian gaped. “How do you know this, Gabby?” Maximilian asked breathlessly.  

“Draco had promised me a dance and so when he stepped out, I followed him, making sure he wasn’t trying to back out on me. I called out to him but he didn’t seem to hear me. I got there in time to hear the end of Jasper’s conversation with his friends and know what made Draco so angry.” She took a deep breath, obviously unsettles by what she was about to say, “Draco punched Jasper because he was defending you, Hermione.” 

“That’s ridiculous! Why would Draco have to defend me from Jasper?” 

Gabriella shot her uncle a look that clearly said ‘this is private’ and with an understanding look, he nodded and walked away. She pulled Hermione to the side, so they wouldn’t be overheard and said, “Jasper’s friends dared him to win you over. He likes you Hermione, but he desperately wanted to win the dare because there was a prize…. and you were it. Jasper had his own private party planned for you tonight when you went for a walk with him.” 

Hermione shook her head vigorously, “No, I don’t believe it. Why are you lying to me? I thought we were friends.” 

“We are, Hermione. That’s why I can’t let Draco get blamed for something that Jasper did.” 

 “I just can’t believe…Jasper’s so nice and…I just can’t believe he intended for me and him to…to well-” she was rambling and she knew it so she cut herself off. 

“Hermione, Jasper used to be my boyfriend and I know him better than anyone. He intended for everything to happen. Please don’t get the wrong impression of him, though. He’s a really nice, really sweet guy. I just think that his desire for you got the better of him, not that I can really blame him. You do look stunning tonight.” 

Her eyes glistening with tears, Hermione took hold of Gabriella’s hand and squeezed it tightly. “You’ve been such a good friend to me these past few days and I don’t know how to make it up to you. But I guess I have an apology to make now. I’ll see you tomorrow.” 

“Don’t worry about it,” Gabriella waved her hand dismissively and let Hermione disapparate. With a sigh, she went to find Jasper, where she would give him the longest reproach of his life.

 *

Hermione searched the Manor cautiously. She was fairly certain she was the last person Draco wanted to see right now, except maybe Jasper and she knew how difficult Draco could be when he was in his defensive mode. He wasn’t in the courtyard, the drawing room, the dining room, the Quidditch pitch, the kitchen (although she did find a half finished glass of Firewhiskey on the counter) or the library. Dejectedly, she went upstairs to her room, but as she was walking past his bedroom, something caught her eye. She heard a muffled shout and then the sound of something breaking. She peered through the open door and saw him on his terrace. She’d found him. 
 
After Hermione had berated him, Draco knew he just wanted to get away from her, from Jasper, from everyone. He knew they could never be friends. He knew he had been terrible to her in the past. But somehow, in spite of all that, he thought she had grown to trust him in some respects since they’d been in France. Or that she would at least trust him more than some idiot she met only a few weeks ago. He was angry with Hermione, but he was even angrier with himself. 

He knew there was something a little off about Jasper yet he had done nothing to find out what and catch on to his motives earlier on. He could have warned Hermione about him from the beginning. Not like she would’ve listened to you back then. She hated your guts…and probably does again, he thought resentfully. But the thing that had angered him the most was how he had reacted so vehemently to the thought of Hermione with another boy. He couldn’t possibly be jealous. Or could he? Seeing Jasper fawn all over Hermione always did give him an odd sensation. He’d never imagine Hermione to go so far as to have sex with a boy she’d only known a few short weeks, but he didn’t know Hermione that well either. Not really anyway. Was it possible that Hermione had in fact planned to have sex with Jasper as a special going away gift? How could she? With him? 

 
His blood burned white hot at the thought, and his anger was renewed with even more vigour. “She’s just a girl!” he shouted angrily. “Just a filthy, stinking Mudblood. She means nothing to me!” he picked up a small potted plant on one of the ledges and threw it angrily at the terrace wall, shattering it into a hundred pieces. 

Hermione moved into the room and made her way to the terrace, opening the door hesitantly. She wasn’t sure how to proceed. Draco was usually composed in front of others so she approached him as she would a real fire-breathing dragon and not just a boy named after one. 

 
“Draco?” she spoke softly, her voice breaking with nerves. The mild air around her sent a shiver down her spine. He spun round abruptly at the sound of his name, obviously surprised to have an audience for his outburst and just as obviously disconcerted his audience was Hermione. He had discarded his jacket and his bow tie hung undone around his neck, the top buttons of his shirt undone.
 
“Get out Granger.” He ordered icily. “You made your thoughts about me perfectly clear. I don’t think a recap will be necessary.” He had not expected to see her again and especially not now when his feeling were raw and hurt. 

“Draco, please, I wanted to apologize for,” 

Draco cut her off mid-sentence. “I don’t care about you or anything you have to say. Why don’t you just run back to your little boyfriend.” He sneered vindictively. “I hope I didn’t ruin any big plans you two might have had for the night.” He laughed derisively but Hermione detected a bit of dejection and maybe even a trace of sadness. This still didn’t excuse him. 

“How dare you! What made you think that anything Jasper said was even remotely possible? For all we know, he could’ve been lying to make himself sound more important than he was. I would never do anything like that with him and you should’ve known better. But then again, I don’t expect you to tell the difference between a lie and a truth since you walk such a fine line between the two every day.”

“Me?” He was within touching distance of her now. “Wasn’t I the one who told you from the beginning that he was too good to be true? Didn’t I tell you there was something wrong with your pathetic excuse of a Potter replacement? Boy, you sure know how to pick ‘em, Hermione.  One won’t look twice at you while the other just wants to get into your prim little knickers.” 

SMACK! Hermione had swung her hand back and bought it contacting with his cheek with all the force she could muster. He had gone too far. She had hit him so hard, he had stumbled and almost fell to his side. Her hand stung like hell, but it hurt far less than his words. His words had a grain of truth in them. Hadn’t she let Jasper shower her with affection because he reminded her of Harry? With Harry, she always felt safe and she assumed the same would be with Jasper. She felt silly and stupid and Draco stating the obvious was just salt in her wound. 

He looked up at her from underneath his silver wisps of hair and saw the internal battle waging on behind her eyes. He’d said cruel, harsh things to her before so he knew how to evoke this type of response.  In a perverse way, it was almost second nature to him. Except this time, the cut hurt him just as much. Deep down he knew that Jasper was just talking big to his friends and in truth, Hermione was innocent in this mess. Her only crime was trusting someone who didn’t deserve her. She didn’t need Draco standing in front of her screaming, “I told you so!” because she already knew. 

Neither of them spoke for a long moment, simply stood there in the cold air, staring at the other. 

“Did that make you feel good? To kick me when I’m down?” she asked through gritted teeth. “And to think, I came here to apologize.” 
“This was supposed to be an apology?” Draco asked incredulously, rubbing his aching jaw. “Do me a favour. Next time, send flowers.” His joke fell flat as neither of them was in a laughing mood. “I don’t want an apology. You know what I want, it’s you who can’t figure out what you want.” 

“Is that so?”

“Yes, that’s so.” He looked up at the stars, as if asking for some guidance. “Every time we kissed, you took to ignoring me, like I didn’t even exist. Like I’m invisible and sometimes I think that’s worse than we were always at each other’s throats. For a few weeks here, we became…almost friends.” He couldn’t believe he was confessing all this to her, but a part of him couldn’t bear it anymore. “It was only a short time, I know. Hardly any time when you think about it, but I don’t think I can forget it at all. I’ve tried but it just won’t go away.” 

Hermione’s shoulders relaxed and she spoke this time. “I know how you feel. I’ve seen sides of you I never thought could exist. Kindness and intelligence you’ve always covered up with your arrogance. We actually had some fun together while we were here. I want what you want…to make sure that this won’t disappear like a failed spell once we get back to England. I want to make sure that the Draco Malfoy who helped me with my French and went to a muggle theme park with me wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.” 
 
He had not reacted during her speech, not even a flinch and his lack of reaction was unsettling. “Well…um, don’t you have anything to say?” she broke the silence after a while. 

“Not really.” 

“Fine.” She replied tersely and turned to exist, determined that he would not see her shed a single tear. But before she could make it to the door, a frustrated voice called to her. 

“It doesn’t matter what we want.” She stopped instantly and turned slowly to him. He moved deliberately to stand right in front of her. She could feel his warm breath cutting through the chilly air. “Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to tell me all along? All that matters is what has to be. I thought you understood that. We all have parts to play and we can’t rewrite the script in the middle of the show. What we want is irrelevant.” His eyes and tone softened as he looked into her glistening eyes. “Things have to get back to the way they were, Hermione. Being here has mixed that up for us. But once we get back to St Mungo’s, back to our real lives, this will all fade away like a dream.” 

The tear fell before she could stop it. Draco reached a gentle hand to her face to caress it away. With a shaky voice, she asked, “So then if none of this is real, if it really is just a dream, it won’t matter what we do here tonight, our last night away from the real world?” 

In a low, husky voice, he murmured. “That’s right.” Then he smiled wryly. “Five points to Gryffindor.” 

She started to laugh and he saw as her eyes changed from melancholy to tear-free before a sound even escaped her mouth. It aroused something in him, a deep-seeded desire that he could no longer deny, not when she was looking up at him with such a sweet look on her face. Not when he knew tonight would be the last time he could ever be this close to her. 

She could see his eyes lingering on her lips, his mind warring with his heart to give in to what she wanted him to do as well. She knew Draco was right. This was it for Draco and Hermione and tomorrow, they would return to being Malfoy and Granger. His head descended slowly to meet hers, and she wondered if she could stand to wait much longer. Finally their lips met and with it came a surge of emotions neither of them knew they had been bottling up inside for so long. 

Draco snaked one hand behind Hermione’s neck and pulled her face to his whilst his other arm wrapped around her waist protectively, pulling her to his body.  He could feel her soft moans in her chest which sent shivers of excitement to every part of his body, making him warm with longing despite the chilly air. He felt her velvety lips glide slowly against his and he surrendered himself to the way she made him feel and the knowledge that no other night would ever compare to this one…because he would never spend another night like this with this girl. 

 
Hermione’s head was spinning but her mouth and hands knew perfectly well what to do. Her arms wrapped around him as she deepened their kiss, pressing her body so close to his, she could feel his heart beating against his chest. Whilst his hands played with the hairs on the back of her neck, sending a wave of thrilling chills down her spine, her hands stole underneath his shirt and felt his delightfully warm skin, her fingers tracing the contours of his well defined chest. She never dreamed she would melt at the touch of someone she always thought was so cold. 
 
He was beginning to feel dizzy from the suffocating sweet taste of Hermione’s mouth, her roaming hands driving him crazy. When breathing became an absolute necessity, he pulled back from their feverish kissing and breathed deeply to get some much need air into his lungs. Hermione stood before him, breathless from their passionate embrace, hair tousled by his wandering hands, lips swollen from his fervent kisses and her warm eyes asking for his touch. She had never looked so radiant. He moved forward so that she had to step back. He leaned her back against the door and placed his hand on either side of her head and stared into her hazel eyes before his lips returned to her mouth hungrily and her hands went back under his shirt, drawn to his warmth. His lips left hers to trail zealous kisses across her jaw and neck, down what cleavage was exposed before returning back to her lips. A moan frequently escaped her lips, loving what he did to her. She could die of pleasure. 

 
How long they stayed like that, Hermione did not know. She had lost track of time; they stood there kissing on the terrace for what seemed like an eternity. Just when she thought their bodies could not be any closer, he would wrap his arms around her and prove her wrong. When she would pull back to breathe in some much needed air, Draco would use the opportunity to explore the intricacies and delicate spots of her neck and shoulders, all the while whispering her name softly. It was driving her insane. The soft touch of his wispy hair combined with his warm breaths and his fervent kisses made her heart pound faster than she ever thought possible. She started to feel faint again. As he moved down to attack her neck once more, particularly a sensitive spot just below her right ear where he found if he kissed ever so lightly, she would mutter his name in the most seductive voice he had ever heard, his hair tickled her ear and she chuckled lightly. 

Draco pulled away worry and apprehension flitting across his bright silver eyes. “What?” he asked anxiously, his breath coming in short, ragged gasps. 

Hermione calmed his fears at once. “Nothing. It’s just your hair, it tickled my ear.” She smiled as she trailed a finger across his strong jaw. 

“Oh,” he answered, leaning in to kiss her ear properly. “For a minute, I thought…” 

“You thought I was going to say we should think logically about this before we do something we regret?” 

He attacked the delicate skin below her ear, his tongue darting out to tease her before his lips moved down her neck, his fingers pulling at the strap of her dress. He managed a soft, distracted, “Mm-hmm.” 

“But you’re forgetting something very important, Draco. Tonight’s just a dream and there’s nothing to regret to in dreams.” 
 
His lips trailed back up her neck and he pulled back just far enough to give her a slight wink, making her smile before he captured her lips in a heated, magical kiss. 
 
“Draco,” she whispered after a while when her jaw began to ache. He groaned and ignored her. “Draco, stop.” 

Unwillingly, he pulled back and stared at her curiously. “What?” 

“I want you,” she breathed into his ear and turned to nod at his bed, visible through the glass doors. 
 
Draco’s eyes widened and he asked quietly. “Are you sure?” 
 
“It’s just a dream, remember? No regrets.” She grinned and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him in for an intense, greedy kiss. He smirked against her lips, wrapping his arms around her waist and picking her up in his arms. The door opened with a gentle nudge and he carried her in, a content smirk residing on his lips. 

*
A/N: You can all guess what happens next, so I won’t go into any detail...just think of this line from the song ‘Mr Brightside’ by The Killers: Now, he takes off her dress. Coincidentally, I happen to be listening to that song right now =)Reviews are much loved. 
 
-Sera :D

Chapter 19: Chapter ninteen
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The sun was blinding as Hermione opened her eyes and was greeted with several beams, her eyes momentarily hurting. She felt a warm, strong arm around her and she looked round at the room, realizing it was not hers and yesterday night and earlier this morning came flooding back to her. 

 
“No regrets,” she mumbled to herself and smiled a little before turning to stare at her sleeping companion, his blonde hair falling into his eyes. Slowly, she raised a finger and traced it across his muscled arm. The texture was just the same as she had felt earlier this morning, strong like marble, smooth like satin and unbelievably warm. She wanted to taste it and leisurely, she sat up a little and kissed his warm shoulder, relishing in the smoothness. Her lips pulled away and she let her finger trail across his body, appreciating just how beautiful he was. He stirred a little but did not wake. Taking a glance at the clock on the cabinet beside the bed, she saw the time: Eight twenty three. 


Gabriella would be here in less than two hours and she needed to pack her things. Unwillingly and with regret, she slowly released herself from Draco’s hold and got out of the bed and began to find her clothes, pulling them on as she did. She could not be bothered to slip into her dress, only to take it off after a few minutes so she remained in her underwear: matching lacy pink panties and bra. She collected Draco’s clothes too and folded them before laying them down on the sofa at the end of his bed. Now, all she had to do was find her heels…


“Your hair looks like a haystack,” an amused voice said from behind and she turned round to see Draco wide-awake, hands behind his head and smirking. She smiled and walked over to him, sitting on the edge of the bed and bending down to give him a quick kiss. 

“Thank you for that comment, but I’m sure I could’ve done without It.” she said tartly, tracing circles with her finger on his chest. 

“It looks good, I like It.” he corrected himself with a smile. 

“Much better.” she said in a half-hearted stern voice. 
 
He chuckled and patted the bed invitingly. “Take those off and come join me.” 

Her circling ceased and she retracted her hand, her body still and her face serious. “I can’t. Gabriella is coming to see us off at ten and I’ve got to shower and pack and…besides, the dream’s over.” She said wistfully. 

“Any regrets?” He asked, almost tentatively. 

“No. There never will be any regrets.” She smiled and stood up, her dress slung over her arm. 

“Hermione? One last kiss?” he requested. 

Happily, she sat back down and leaned in to give him an intense kiss, but his hands formed manacles around her arms and rolled her onto the bed, his lips capturing hers in a fiery, passionate kiss. 
 
“No fair, that’s foul play.” She pouted, pulling back a little, looking up at him on top of her.

He gave her a small cheeky wink and said huskily, “That’s the wonderful thing about Slytherin, love. We don’t play fair.” She let his antic slide, not really caring and almost thankful of his little games and kissed him back hungrily, eagerly, her hands running up his body longingly before wrapping themselves around his neck, pulling him closer. She opened her mouth to accept his tongue and moaned into his mouth with ecstasy as his hand tickled her skin, running up her thigh to her waist. He pulled back for some air before going to attack her neck and ear. 

“Draco,” she moaned breathlessly, so many emotions trickling from that one sound. It drove him over the edge and his lips returned to hers, attacking them with such hunger and craving. 

 
“Draco, stop.” Hermione said in the firmest voice she could manage; it was a feeble whimper. He obeyed and looked down at her, panting heavily. 

“You’re making me want you more and more and as much as I want it, I can’t. So, this-” she leaned in and kissed him slowly, passionately, sadly and longingly for a long time before pulling back. “Is for all the times you’ve made me laugh, cry and…moan.” She added after some thought. He laughed but it was a sad laugh and he watched her get off the bed and cross the room for the door with a small, longing smile until she disappeared with a quiet snap of the door. She had gone…it was back to Granger from now on… well, until they reached England. 

He threw himself back on the bed and inhaled deeply, her intoxicating smell still lingering. He realized with a wide smirk, that it had not been Jasper who had given her the ‘proper’ send off present; it had been he, Draco Malfoy and he was exulted. Although it wasn’t really a send off and it had come quite spontaneously and it was Hermione’s idea and not his, which made him smirk even more. Last night had been heavenly…

*

Hermione smiled against herself as she got out of the shower, remembering every little detail of last night. She was amazed at how much she had wanted him and it was relief to release that desire or quite probably, it would’ve eaten away at her until she exploded. It was even better that it had been here in France and not in England. She shuddered at the thought if someone was ever to find out. 

 
She had never felt so…alive. It had been ecstasy and she doubted whether she would find anyone as good as Draco, or anyone she loved more. It would be difficult starting a new relationship now, but she did not care. Being with Draco Malfoy was beyond pleasure, a heaven on Earth and it was a relief to know that they had done it at least once. Yesterday, she had been completely oblivious to the fact that she was going to have sex, even though someone was planning for her to do it. She was glad it had been with Draco and not Jasper.
 

She towelled her hair and slipped into a navy pencil skirt and a cute, powder blue summery top. It was May and it was already hot; a promising sign of good upcoming weather. With a deep breath, she flung open her empty suitcase and began to place her clothes in first. Pausing for while, she heard running water in the bathroom and leaned against the adjoining wall, imaging Draco in there now. She smirked, unable to stop herself before returning to her packing. She took down all her decorations around the walls, the Gryffindor flag, the pictures and returned the walls back to their dark green. The room looked darker and more desolate all of a sudden. 


There was a soft knock at her door and she turned to see Draco’s head peeking around the door. He looked taken aback to find the walls back to normal. “Hey, you forgot your heels in my room,” he held up the strappy shoes with his fingers and entered. “Wow, I think I prefer the Lavender.” He said in amazement to himself. Hermione chuckled and with a wave of her wand, the walls returned to Lavender. A small smile lingered on his lips. 

“I see you’re almost done.” He nodded at her suitcase. 

She smiled ruefully and nodded. “Aren’t you packing?” 

“I don’t need to. I can come back and get my stuff any time.” 

“Ah yes, I forgot…do you want something to eat. You must be hungry.” 

“I don’t want to trouble you,” 

“Not at all, you can help me,” she grinned and pulled him down into the kitchen, getting him to mix the batter for pancakes. 

“Don’t you ever use magic to cook?” he asked, cheekily dipping his finger into the batter and licking it greedily. 

“Only when I’m in a rush,” she replied as she flipped a pancake expertly and caught it in the pan. He laughed like a child at that; the only thing missing was him clapping his hands, an avid expression on his face. She smiled as she realized that this was probably the first time he’d ever made pancakes or helped someone cook for that matter.  

“I dare you to flip it and catch it,” she said challengingly. 

“Fine,” he said audaciously and took hold of the pan, lifting it off the cooker before he flipped it, the pancake flying several feet over and above his head. It landed by the window and Hermione burst out laughing. “That wasn’t funny.” 

“Oh yes, it was.” She chuckled and flicked her wand, the pancake floating to the rubbish bin. “I didn’t expect you to do it anyway. You’ve clearly never helped anyone cook.” 

“What is it with you muggles? Do you set your kids wild in the kitchen and teach them how to cook?” he huffed clearly displeased that Hermione had laughed at his lame attempt. 

“Muggle kids are curious, Draco. They find cooking fun and Muggles have a pancake day, where you eat nothing but pancakes, so naturally they’ll want to know.” Hermione explained. 

“Muggles have a day dedicated to pancakes?” he asked in amazement. “Weird.” 

Hermione chuckled at his reaction, but before she could reply, a small ‘pop’ made her head snap up and she broke into a smile. “Gabriella,” Another ‘pop’ made her smile fade as she laid eyes on Jasper, supporting several cuts and a bandaged hand. “Oh.”
 
Draco growled beside her and made a sudden movement as to lunge at Jasper, but Hermione caught him and Gabriella stepped protectively in front of Jasper. 

“Calm down, Draco.” She said placidly, gently squeezing his arm. “Good morning, Jasper.” She added in a tone a little stiffer than she had intended to show. 

“Bonjour, Hermione,” He replied casually, an apologetic note in his voice. 

“This looks like fun! Hermione, do you mind if I can help?” Gabriella asked, breaking the tension in the room. Hermione handed her the spatula and the apron before turning to Jasper. His eyes had shadows underneath them and his lids were lavender; he looked ill. 

“May I talk with you?” He asked Hermione quietly. Draco snarled, stepping forward, his hand plunging into his pocket. Gabriella held his hand and muttered something in his ear and he grudgingly put his wand back and turned to help her. Hermione looked nervously at Jasper then Gabriella who nodded encouragingly. 

 
“Yes,” she answered to Jasper’s question and led him to the courtyard where they strolled in the late morning sun. 

“I think I should start with an apology,” he began. 

“I think that would be a good place to start,” Hermione said coldly. 

“Hermione, I never intended my desire for you to get the better of me and you must realize how competitive and easily jealous I am. Draco was a worthy opponent.” 

“Yes he was! I can’t believe you were only after that one thing, Jasper. I really liked you, perhaps even loved you at some point and you just used me.” She said trying to keep herself from yelling. His actions had hurt her and she hoped he could see that. 

“Perhaps I did a little but in a way, I did not. I truly loved you and it was simply longing that overtook me. I would do nothing to hurt you. I simply became so jealous of you spending so much time with Draco that I somehow…lost control of that longing.” He said quietly. 
 
“You were merely after my body. You didn’t care for my company or my feelings.” Hermione stated sourly. 

Jasper paused, on the verge of contradicting her but he seemed to think better of it. “Hermione, I adored your company and I didn’t just want your body, I wanted everything about you. You’re intoxicating, don’t you know?” 

“It was wrong of you to assume I would do anything like that. I’m not that type of girl. I’ve only known you six weeks Jasper and I truly do like you, you’re so nice and I loved whatever we had between us, but I’m returning to England and you just need to accept that we can only be friends.” Hermione sighed. 

“Is it Draco?” Jasper asked shrewdly, with a sad smile. 

“No, nothing like that. Draco and me could never work; there are too many complications. I just feel that I need a break from all the affection I’ve been showered with recently. Most of it from you.” She smiled. 

“Well, I am sorry once more. I never meant to hurt you.” He held his arms out for her to hug him and after a slight hesitation, she went into his arms and hugged him back, careful not to hurt his arm. He was warm and something feeble stirred in her stomach. 

“Hmm, you smell so good.” Jasper sighed, inhaling deeply as he let go of her. 

“Jasper,” she began warningly. 

“I know, I know. It’ll take some getting used to, though.” 

“Are you okay? Draco was awfully…violent, yesterday.” She said softly, reaching to stroke a small scar on his cheek. There was one above his eyebrow and one on his left jaw. She turned his face to stare at his scar on his jaw and winced at how long it was. Draco really had been aggressive, to an awful degree. 

“Well, apart from several bruises, two broken bones and a throbbing head ache, no I’m very much in fit form.” Jasper said sarcastically and let her stroke his scars, closing his eyes. Hermione’s fingers ran down to his neck slowly, delicate and warm whilst her other hand stroked his lavender lids and he gasped quietly. 

“Jasper? What is it? Did I hurt you?” she asked anxiously. His eyes snapped open and she saw their sapphire brilliance. He shook his head and replied in a slow voice, “It’s just that…when you do that…it makes it that much harder for me to…ignore how I feel.” 

“Oh, I’m sorry.” Hermione said quietly. “Please forgive me.” She slowly retracted her hand and stepped away from him, hopefully giving him some space to think. He breathed the fresh air in deeply and said, “I really don’t know how I’ll survive. I can hardly get your kisses out of my head.” 

“One way or another Jasper, you’ll have to learn how.” She said. “Now, come on. I bet those two have already finished half the pancakes.” 
 
*

“Take care, Hermione.” Gabriella said and hugged Hermione tightly as they stood on the platform. “Remember, I expect an introduction to Harry when I come this July.” She added in a whisper for only Hermione to hear. 

Hermione laughed and turned to hug Jasper. Draco growled and looked away pointedly. 

“You promised me a visit this summer.” He reminded her quietly so Draco would not hear. 

“I’ll see. I promise to write.” She replied and deciding to tease him a little, she placed a soft, warm kiss at the base of his ear. She felt his heart speed up against her body. Draco cleared his throat loudly and they broke apart, Jasper scowling heavily at Draco. Draco hugged Gabriella, threw Jasper a filthy glare before they boarded the train. Hermione stuck her head out of the window as the train began to slowly move. 

“Promise to write? Both of you?” She called out to them. 

“I promise,” Gabriella called and Jasper jogged alongside the train. He pulled a small wrapped package out of his pocket and handed it to Hermione before the train began to quickly move and he had to sprint to keep up. 

“I’m sorry. I’ll…miss...you…” The train was moving too fast for him to keep up now and he stopped running, his hands at his sides in a resigned sort of way. She stared at the two figures and fought back tears. She would miss them too. Discreetly slipping the package into her pocket, so Draco would not see, she turned and walked into the compartment, where Draco was already sprawled across the seat, his eyes closed. 

“Are you tired?” she asked and sat down. 

“Very. Last night was very…strenuous.” He said, a smirk pulling the corners of his mouth upwards. Hermione blushed and hid behind a book, whilst smirking to herself a little. It had indeed been strenuous. 

“What are you going to do when we get back?” Draco asked curiously.  
 
“I don’t know. I think I’ll unpack first and then go see my parents and possibly Harry and the Weasleys.” She saw his back stiffen considerably at the mention of Harry’s name. “And you?”

“Nothing probably. Sleeping.” He grinned. 

“Will you go back to St Mungo’s tomorrow or do you think we deserve a break?” 

Going back to St Mungo’s meant seeing Hermione and being around her and taking the day off meant doing nothing at home. Without Hermione. 

“I’m going to St Mungo’s, I think. I have too much time and I have nothing to kill it with.” 

“I suppose that means I’m going too. What’s the bet that Healer Connors will be bouncing when he sees us?” she snickered. 

“A high possibility. Our time in France doesn’t seem that long now.” 

“No, it doesn’t. I’m going to miss France and Gabriella and…” she caught herself and returned to her book. They spend the rest of the ride like that, Hermione reading her book and Draco sprawled across his seat, half asleep, one of them frequently breaking the silence to ask the other a trivial question.  

When the train finally lurched to a stop, they got off onto the platform and Hermione turned to Draco, a forlorn grimace across her face. 
 
“This is probably the last time I’ll be able to call you this in public, but…see you tomorrow, Draco.” She drew his name out slowly, savouring the sound on her tongue. 
 
“Yeah, see you then, Hermione.” He breathed and watched her retreating back, pulling her suitcase with her out of the station. 
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Music: Queens of the stone age - sick
A/N: There's a good possibility of me going on holiday very soon so I won't update as frequently as I normally do and it is a pretty long holiday so I apologize in advanc but I'll try my hardest to update when I can. Reviews are loffly!
-Sera :D

Chapter 20: Chapter twenty
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The phone was ringing. Hermione quickly rushed from her bedroom to the living room and picked it up. 

“Hello?” 

“Hermione? It’s Harry.” 

“Harry! Hi, how are you?” 

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” Harry chuckled. Hermione smiled, happy to hear his voice again, but her stomach did not somersault as it used to do. She had gotten over her crush. 

“I’m great, never better.” 

“When did you come back? Why didn’t you tell me, I could’ve picked you up.” 

“I came back a few hours ago and don’t worry about, it wasn’t a problem to apparate here.” 

“So, what are you doing?” 

“I’ve just finished unpacking and I’m going to go see Mum and Dad soon.”

“Oh, are you busy later on? I was thinking me, you and Ron could go for a drink at The Three Broomsticks.” 

“Actually, Harry, I was thinking of going over to the Weasleys later. I’ll see you there I suppose.” She desperately did not want to be with Harry and Ron for quite some time where there was a very good probability of them interrogating her mercilessly over every little detail of her time in France. She was going to keep most things from them anyway; they would freak at half the things, particularly last night’s events and those were things she was not eager to share with anyone but herself. 

“Yeah, that sounds good. You can tell us all about France. I’ll see you later then.” 

“Yeah, see you then,” she mumbled but he had already hung up. She returned to her room and threw the presents she had bought for her parents into her handbag and slipped on a light cashmere cardigan over her flimsy top. A glint made her pause and she caught sight of Jasper’s wrapped present at her bureau. Curiously, she went over and unwrapped it. A note slipped out as she opened and fluttered to the surface of the desk. She picked it up and read Jasper’s graceful script. 

I’m Sorry

She smiled wistfully and turned back to his present. A soft gasp escaped her lips as she saw a beautiful silver bracelet embedded with black sapphire, topaz and sparkling silver crystals. It was much too beautiful and she hated to think how much he had spent on it. Carefully, she slipped it on and admired it against her skin. It was gorgeous. 

“Thank you, Jasper.” She muttered before apparating to her parent’s house. 

*

The Weasley’s kitchen was crowded. Mr and Mrs Weasley, Fred, George, Ron, Ginny, Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Harry and Hermione all sat round the table, enjoying Mrs Weasley’s famous chicken casserole. 

“So, Hermione, are you finally going to tell us what happened in France?” Ginny asked curiously, setting her spoon down. 

“Well what do you want to know?” Hermione asked innocently, trying to ignore the double meaning she had imagined in Ginny’s question. 
 
“Okay, first things first, were there any cute French Healers there?” Ginny asked eagerly. 
 
“Ginny!” Bill, Fred, George and Ron chorused, exasperated. 

“What? I’m a hormonal young woman.” She said defensively and returned to Hermione. “Well?” 

“Yes, there were many. I had the fortune to befriend one of them. Jasper Lesair is the leading, youngest Healer at the hospital where he works. He’s only twenty-three and is from an influential family. I think I have a picture of him. He was really nice.” She said, a small smile on her lips as she remembered Jasper and she casually glanced at the bracelet on her wrist, gleaming as it trapped the faint light. 

Ginny smirked eagerly. 

“Okay, my turn.” Ron interjected. “What were the lectures like? Did you do anything interesting?” 

“Well, everyday a lecture would be held at a different French city and healers from different nationalities would give a lecture on Healing throughout magical History, operations they had performed and information they were researching. We had to take notes and interpret everything from the lectures into a presentation at the end. Some were boring, some were interesting. Did we do anything interesting? Hmm, well we did go on a trip to the first hospital ever built by wizards in Toulouse. I think it was one thousand and three hundred years old. And we went to an all-magical museum and we went to the village of Monrelielle with Beauxbatons to watch a play. I saw your sister,” she smiled at Fleur. 

“What’s Monrelielle like?” Mr Weasley asked curiously. 

“Like Hogsmeade only prettier and with a theatre.” Hermione replied casually but Mr Weasley turned to Fleur and interrogated her further in a low voice, knowing she would have gone there when she had attended Beauxbatons.

“Did you make any friends there?” Ginny asked. 

“Well the only people I got to know properly where Jasper and Gabriella Laverne. She’s the French Minister’s daughter.” Her eyes flickered to Harry as Gabriella’s voice resonated in her head. 

“She is…” Fred  trailed off with a wolf-whistle, his eyes distant and hungry.  

“How do you know what she looks like?” Ron asked cynically. 

“Because, little bro, when we had to go to the Ministry to register our shop, the French Minister was there on a visit and she was with him. We had the fortune to ‘bump’ into her and stop for some chit-chat.” George said sweetly, swatting Ron across the head. “Ow!” 

“George!” Mrs Weasley said warningly. 
 
“What was Malfoy’s chateau like?” Harry asked. Everyone fell silent and turned for her answer. Hermione shot a glare at Harry. It was not a comfortable sensation to have 9 pairs of eyes upon you, watching your reaction carefully. 

“Exactly how a chateau should be like. Big, grand, expensive…” she replied with a little iciness in her voice that luckily, everyone failed to notice. 

“What would you do after the lectures?” This was Ron again. 

“Go back to the chateau, have dinner, relax, go over some notes and then sleep. Sometimes I went for dinner with Jasper.” 

Harry stiffened a little. “What was Malfoy like?” He asked in a curt voice. 

“Like Malfoy. Arrogant, conceited, foul, little cockroach.” Hermione lied regretfully. Sorry Draco, she thought ruefully. This interrogation was helping her lie more skilfully, but she felt that she needed to defend him a little. “He did help me with my French a little when I couldn’t fully understand what the Healers were saying and he did help a lot with the presentation, though.” 

Ron looked dumbfounded. 

“I heard about your presentation, Hermione. The officials were blown away, or so I heard.” Mr Weasley smiled. “They said it was brilliant.” 

Hermione blushed with pleasure. “Well, me and Malfoy did put a lot of work into it,” 

“I heard it was at the Sorbonne University.” Bill said curiously. 

“It was. I wanted to go see the Muggle section but we weren’t allowed.” 

Ron snickered, “Typical.” Hermione shot him a deadly glare. 

“Ooh, there was a conclusion ball!” Ginny said excitedly. “What was that like?”

 “It was a black and white ball and it was held in Cannes by a harbour. Nothing special.” Hermione lied. The ball’s events came flooding back to her and she fought against a nostalgic smile. 

“Have you got Gabriella’s address? I would very much like to send her an owl.” Fred grinned and Hermione chuckled. 

“Only if she wanted a joker of a stalker sending her lovesick owls.” She grinned at Fred. 

“Do you have any pictures, dear?” Mrs Weasley asked. 

“A few, but they’re all back home, I’m afraid.” 

“Hermione, do you want to go for a walk around the yard with me and Ron?” Harry asked in a voice that demanded she should agree. She scowled but nodded and got up from her chair, leaving the kitchen. 

The sun had just set and there was dimness around the yard. She pulled her cardigan tighter around herself to keep the light breeze away. Harry and Ron appeared seconds later and immediately, they were at her sides, pulling her along out of the yard and down the road to the orchard at the end of the village. 

“Hey, what’s all this about?” she asked suspiciously. 

“We just want to relish the fact that you’re with us again.” Ron said with a slight smile. 

“Okay.” Hermione was dumbfounded by this behaviour.

“So, tell us, what was Malfoy really like?” Ron asked. 

“You think I was lying?” Hermione asked feigning indignation brilliantly. “He was exactly how you expect Malfoy to be like. We got along all right, despite a few arguments her and there.” 

“Hmm.” Ron looked displeased, scowling heavily and he remained silent. 

“Did you have a good time there, Hermione?” Harry asked softly. 
 
“Yes, I did.” Her reply was soft and wary. 

They had reached the orchard and they stood underneath a tree, looking up at the stars. 

“So, are you returning to St Mungo’s tomorrow?” 

“Yes. So tell me, what have you been doing while I’ve been away?” she asked, exchanging the interrogation. 

“Nothing exciting. Just working at the Ministry.” Harry replied casually. 

“And you?” she turned to Ron. 

“I’m working on an important case, still helping the Italians trying to find out who murdered their Minister.” His face and tone darkened considerably and he shot her a guarded glance. 

“Have you gotten anywhere?” 

“Yes. We’re making significant progress, we’ve almost reached a conclusion as to who killed him.” 

“Oh, that’s really good. I hope you find the culprit.” 

“He’s not making an effort to evade us.” Ron grumbled darkly under his breath and his expression was stone cold. 

“Even better, then.” Hermione was unenthusiastic.

They remained in silence for a while, staring down at the village and they could make out the lights of the burrow from the distance. “You know, I missed you both.” Hermione said softly, breaking the silence, her eyes at the darkened sky. 

“Yeah, we missed you too.” Harry put an arm around her and pulled her into a one-armed hug. She reached her arm and put it around Ron, drawing him into the group hug. She smiled at her friends; the trio was complete once more. 

*

Hermione glanced at Draco and he too was fighting back a smirk and they laid eyes on Healer Connors, almost skipping towards them. 

“Hermione! Draco!” He cried happily. “You were brilliant! I’ve been swamped with accolades from all those who saw the presentation. I only wish I was there to see it.” 

“Thank you, Mr Connors. That’s very kind of you.” Hermione said politely. 

“I honestly didn’t expect you to get along so well and do such a brilliant presentation.” He admitted and Draco didn’t know whether to laugh or feel insulted. 

“You underestimated us, Mr Connors.” Draco said tartly. Hermione shot him a warning glance. 

“Only when it came to cooperating, Mr Malfoy,” 

“Well, me and Granger cooperated pretty well, wouldn’t you think judging by our presentation?”

A slight twinge fluttered in Hermione’s chest. This was the first time he’d called her Granger since they had returned. It sounded, somehow, foreign. 

“I would. Congratulations once again on the presentations but I expect my representatives to get back to work now.” He walked off leaving Hermione and Draco to stare after him. 

“He’s surely insane.” Draco muttered. 

Hermione chuckled and walked off towards the children’s ward, her mind echoing Draco’s words. Draco followed her. “So, Granger, did you meet Potty and Weasel yesterday?” He sneered. Hermione felt a ripple of irritation underneath her skin. He was still a little annoying. 

“If you really want to know, Malfoy, yes I did go see my friends.” She emphasized his surname, hoping he would feel the same twinge in his chest. He paused, a scowl across his face before he went to check on a little girl who could not control her developing magic. It had turned on her and she was lying almost immobile on her bed. She was only six. 

Hermione sighed and turned to check the heart pressure of a sleeping little boy, forcing herself not to let her mind wander over the seas and back to France. 

*

Draco sighed and sat down, grabbing the Daily Prophet off the coffee table in front of him. He was having a difficult day, trying to avoid Hermione and trying to focus on his work and not the events that had taken place in France. He was relieved to be on his lunch break now, away from the ward where Hermione was always around him, her suffocating sweet scent always drifting up his nose. 

He flicked through the Daily Prophet; nothing caught his eye and he threw it aside and picked up his coffee, sipping it contently. What would he do without coffee? He looked around the staff room and it was unusually empty. Was everyone else still working or was there a shortage of Healers today? The soft snap of a door made him look up and he internally groaned. Hermione walked in and smiled on catching sight of him. 

“Hey, are you on lunch?” she asked. 

He nodded and sipped his coffee, whilst she sat down on one of the old armchairs and picked up The Prophet, flicking disinterestedly through the pages, pausing frequently to read a trivial story. Her eyes rose widened in interest as they halted on a story. 

“We’re mentioned.” She said turning to face him. 

“What? Where?” Draco got up and snatched the paper from her and tried to read the article but it was increasingly difficult as Hermione had gotten up and was now reading over his shoulder, her warm breath on his neck, her jasmine scent flowing to his nose, her hair tickling his ear. He closed his eyes and tried to control his beating heart but this only made him hyperaware of everything about her and he bit back a growl of frustration. Hermione was unaware and continued to read with interest. 

Draco took a deep breath trying to get some much-needed oxygen to his hyperventilating brain. It didn’t work. “Damn it, Granger!” He growled, dropping the newspaper and turning to face her before cupping her face in his hands and drawing her lips to his insatiably. She put up no objections and let him kiss her, responding to his touch and she moaned into his mouth, letting the events in France wash over her. She broke away when she realized what they were doing. 

“Draco, what was that about?” she asked softly, breathing deeply. 

“Well, if you hadn’t been breathing down my neck so provocatively…” he mumbled irritably. 

“You couldn’t resist me?” Hermione smirked, placing her hands on his shoulders and blowing softly on his ear, her lips inches away from his skin. Her froze, closing his eyes, muttering to himself, “Just a hallucination. Just a hallucination. Just a hallucination.” Her antics were driving him crazy.

Hermione snorted and slowly kissed his earlobe, her lips lingering, before pulling back. “Sorry, Malfoy, not a hallucination.” With a serious note she added, “We can’t let this happen again. A slip up in public could mean trouble." And she made her way to the door. 
 
“Well that’s comforting to know.” Draco yelled after her, unsure whether to like or dislike her at the moment. The sensation of her lips at his ear remained and he sighed with pleasure. He would have to work hard to quench his thirst for her. 
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A/N: I’m officially gone but the next update should be within the next 2-3 weeks depending on how fast I can get internet access. Reviews would be appreciated :)

Chapter 21: Chapter twenty one
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The June sun was blissfully hot as Hermione woke up and saw it streaming in through her window. Yawning, she sat up and smiled as she realized it was a Saturday. No work. She lay above her duvet on the bed, thinking, the rays flooding through the window warm on her skin. Her eyes closed and as always, her thoughts wandered to Draco, the way they always did in the morning. They’d been back in England for a month and they were finding it extremely difficult to stay apart. It had almost become a daily routine for them to sneak into an empty broom cupboard at lunch and kiss each other senseless.

Sighing, she got off her bed and made her way into the kitchen to prepare herself a cup of coffee and a few pieces of toast. An owl flew in through the open window and dropped a copy of the day’s Daily Prophet on the table. Hermione paid it a Knut and watched as it soared off into the distance. Taking her coffee, toast and paper into the living room, she fell down on the sofa and opened the paper. News seemed to be scarce nowadays, surprisingly, now that everyone knew Voldemort was back. He didn’t seem to be making any moves for world domination yet and was keeping very quiet and secretive.

Throwing the paper to the side, she stared at the sofa and smiled slyly. He had come to her apartment and they had spent all of last evening on the sofa, kissing feverishly. She was aware that they really should be ignoring each other’s presence and trying to get back to their tried and true relationship of open hostility, but hate had become boring. If this continued, they would soon be found out and in a dilemma with pretty much everyone…specifically Draco’s aunt and her friends.

An owl fluttered through the window and dropped an emerald envelope on her lap before fluttering onto the coffee table. Curiously, she set her coffee down and picked up the envelope. It was sealed with a familiar silver crest. This was from Draco.

Delicately, she opened it and an elaborate cream invitation slid out. She read:

The Malfoys are happy to invite you to their annual fundraising Ball for St Mungo’s.

It gave the time and details and everything and Hermione was dumbfounded. Had Narcissa Malfoy really invited her to Malfoy Manor?

A letter slipped out of the envelope and she recognized Draco’s script.

Hermione,
Ignore the stupid Invitation. I will personally invite you now. Will you do me the honour of coming to the fundraising ball at the Manor? I have answered for you and the answer is yes.

She couldn’t help but chuckle at his tomfoolery and continued to read.

I know I can’t see you this weekend because you won’t allow me -a terrible decision on your behalf- but I expect to see you at the Manor on Sunday evening. Ask one of the waiters to guide you to the library and meet me there. I am already going crazy without you, you know that? If only you hadn’t prohibited me to come see you… do you forgive rule breaking?

Draco

Hermione rushed to get a piece of parchment and some ink before writing in her neat lettering.

Draco,
I do forgive rule breaking, but not in this case. I’ll take away fifty points from Slytherin if you do break my rules. I miss you too and I’ll see you at the Manor I suppose. Take care.

Hermione.


She attached the parchment to the owl’s leg and watched it fly out of the window. The sudden ringing of the phone made her jump in fright. With a frustrated snarl, she picked up the phone and said in a more aggravated tone than she’d intended.

“Hello?”

“Hermione, it’s Ginny. I was wondering if maybe you’d like to go out shopping with me?”

Hermione contemplated the options. Go out, have fun, pick a dress, forget about Draco for a few hours or sit here and do nothing? Her mind agreed.

“Sure Ginny, I’ll see you at the burrow in half an hour, then.”

“Great! Bye!” Ginny hung up and Hermione put the phone down. When on earth did I start agreeing to shopping trips? She thought in bewilderment as she made her way to her room to get ready.

*

Hermione stared at her reflection, contemplating herself. Would this be all right? Her chiffon emerald dress fell just at her knees, showed an amount of cleavage that would make Draco happy and cinched her waist sumptuously. Her hair fell about her shoulders in loose curls, perfectly tame. Her face looked pretty with a little amount of makeup, and her lips were untouched but for a delicate sweep of clear lip-gloss.

I don’t look bad, she thought to herself and smiled before grabbing her bag and invitation and apparating to the manor. She had only been to the manor once before and that had been a brief visit to see an ill Narcissa Malfoy. But as she had handed her invitation to the guard at the Manor gates, she looked up and saw the Manor in all its splendour. Several live fairies were flying around it, glowing golden and it looked wonderful. She passed through the doors and was shown to the main hall by a waiter.

She looked round and gasped at the hall. It was stunning; everything was decorated in gold and it was immensely large. There were hundreds of formally dressed people, talking or waltzing or sipping on champagne. She recognized many familiar faces from the hospital and from the Ministry and at the very end of the hall stood Narcissa herself, talking with an unknown person looking magnificent in a long red dress. Draco was nowhere to be seen, as expected.

A soft tap on her shoulder made her turn around and she saw a young man with his hand held out to her. “Care to dance, Miss?” he asked chivalrously.

“Um…” she was supposed to meet Draco at the library but it was rude to turn down such a polite offer. “A quick dance then,”

She began to rotate around the floor with this young man, who had introduced himself as Andrew Fuller and his father was the leader of some society Hermione could not be bothered to remember. When the dance ended, she breathed a sigh of relief and quickly left Fuller, not wanting to spend any more time with him.

“Excuse me, do you know where the library is?” she asked a passing waiter. He stared at her suspiciously.

“The library is off limits, Miss,” he said.

Hermione groaned in frustration and turned back to the waiter. “Well, isn’t Mr Malfoy in there now?”

The waiter looked surprised that she would know this and pointed her in the direction of the library. “Be careful not to get caught,” he added in an urgent whisper and walked away to serve the remainder of his platter. Hermione quickly made her way out of the hall and followed the waiter’s directions, hiding in little niches in the walls at times to avoid being caught before rushing up the magnificent staircase and quickly making her way to the library. She slipped in and closed the door behind her with a quiet snap, breathing a sigh of relief.

The library was dark and the only source of light was the moonlight flooding through the high windows. She looked around and saw the looming shadows of the bookcases.

“I thought you’d never show up,” an amused voice sounded and she looked round, searching for any sign of Draco and found him coming out of the shadows of one bookcase. She slowly walked to him, smiling, before she wrapped her arms around him. He was looking appealing in a tuxedo again.

“Someone requested a dance,” she explained, burying her face in his neck, inhaling his expensive cologne deeply.

“May I request a dance?”

“Certainly.”

Draco let go of her and bowed, his hand held out to her. She was reminded of the ball in Cannes and smiled. “May I have this dance, Miss Granger?” those were the exact same word he’d used in France.

“It would be my pleasure, Mister Malfoy,” she replied and set her hand in his before he pulled her closer and gently pulled her along with him. The faint sound of a melody could be heard gliding up the stairs and she smiled. This was nice.

“You know, you do look so delectable in the Slytherin colours.” He breathed.

“Thank you. I await to see how you will look in Gryffindor colours.” She replied playfully.

“Don’t even think on it.”

They continued to sway and Hermione looked over his shoulder at the many bookcases. “How big is this library?”

“Two times the size of the one is Paris. Similar to the Hogwarts library, almost.”

“So, why did you ask me here?”

“Seriously, Hermione. You’re supposed to be smart. We could hardly go waltzing down in the hall downstairs without five hundred pairs of eyes on us. And besides, I want you all to myself. I want to be the only one drooling after you.”

“That’s very selfish of you, Draco Malfoy.”

“When did you ever get the impression that I was generous, Hermione?”

They swayed, listening to the song.

“What’s this song?” she asked.

“I think it’s a classical piece by Bach, but I’m not sure.”

“You listen to classical Muggle music?” Hermione asked disbelievingly.

“Is that such a surprise?”

“Yes.”

“Isabel would always play Piano to me as a child and she knew lots of classical Muggle music, so I guess it’s all down to her. When I can’t sleep, I enchant the piano to play some Mozart or Beethoven or stuff like that…”

“Right…you know, this is almost like ‘Our song’”

He could practically hear the quotation marks and sniggered. “Yes, while most people would have something like Celestina Warbeck or The Weird Sisters as ‘their song’, we have a classical Muggle piece.”

“That’s because we’re unique and sophisticated enough to dance to Bach and not Celestina Warbeck,” she countered with a grin.

“Touché,” he mumbled against her hair.

The song ended and he pulled her to the window, staring out at the sky. “Won’t your mother wonder where you are?” Hermione asked curiously.

“She knows. She knows about us.”

“You told her?”

“She would’ve gotten it out of me one way or another. Don’t worry, she’s not that bitter her only son’s fallen for a Muggleborn girl.”

“I see,” an amazed Hermione muttered. “You know, I’m surprised you haven’t kissed me once yet. You can hardly control yourself at St Mungo’s.”

“Do you want me to kiss you?” he remarked slyly, his voice velvety soft and inviting.

“Preferably.”
“My pleasure,” he growled and bent his head down to attack her lips. She had been anticipating this for two days now and with it came a burst of relief and ecstasy. She hungrily kissed him back, her hand snaking around his neck to pull him closer. Draco ran his tongue along Hermione’s bottom lip asking for entrance, which she granted immediately. Hermione used her tongue to explore his mouth, her tongue clashing with Draco’s in a battle for dominance, she was skilled but he was better and easily won, but she was not letting it slide and bit his lip playfully as a sign that she would win next time.
“Mmm… getting rough are we?” Draco smirked against Hermione’s lips.
“I know how you like it,” Hermione purred back, her hands, as they always did, stole underneath his jacket and began to furiously work at his shirt’s buttons. When she had finally undone some, she slipped her hands underneath and trailed them across his warm chest. All the time, Draco had been leeched at her neck, kissing her below the ear, wanting to hear her breathe his name in that voice that made him insane. He pulled back for a bit and raised a hand to gently stroke her cheek. As he rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip, she kissed it tenderly.

She was making him breathless with the simplest of kisses; he imagined he would pass out if things went any further. As if reading his mind, daring to put his hypothesis to the test, she leaned in and kissed him again, this time more fervently and hungrier than before, eliciting a deep moan from Draco. Her mouth left his to delicately kiss his neck and jaw and his hands ran wildly through her curls, reveling in the smoothness of her hair. Her fingers ran across his smooth, taut chest before reaching up to pull him closer by the shoulders.

“Hermione…” he gasped as her tongue flickered out of her mouth to tease his neck. She did not respond and continued to tease him, until he could take no more and bought his lips to the base of her throat and tasted her greedily, the faint traces of her perfume bitter on his tongue.

A soft knock at the door made them jump apart and freeze. “Hide!” he muttered urgently to her as he buttoned his shirt and straightened his hair. She obeyed and went to hide in the shadows of a bookcase down a long aisle. She could hear Draco going to open the door.

“Mr. Malfoy, sir. There are a few people who wish to speak to you downstairs. They are in the courtyard.” A soft, informative voice sounded.

“Thank you, Brendan. Tell them, I’ll be down in a minute,” Draco replied and the door snapped shut. Hermione quickly went back to Draco and began to run her hands through her hair in an attempt to smooth it down.

“You heard?”

“Everything.”

“You go ahead. I’ll be right there.”

Hermione nodded before quickly righting her appearance and left, returning back down the stairs but instead of heading to the hall, she made her way out to the courtyard, curious to see whom the people were. She was shocked to find Ron and a few other members -mostly aurors- of the Magical Law Enforcement department there. A small crowd had gathered around.

“Ron?” she was surprised and it showed it in her voice and expression.

“Hermione? What are you doing here?” Ron asked, almost in disgust.

“I was invited here. What are you doing here?” she returned the question.

“I’m here to do my job.”

“Wha-” she began but caught herself as Draco came out. His eyes hardened as he caught sight of Ron.

“Ah, Weasley. To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“You’re under arrest, Malfoy. The Magical Law Enforcement Department has found you guilty of the murder of Francesco Parechi, the Italian Minister of Magic,” Ron stated reading from a parchment, his voice filled with pleasure.

Hermione felt like a bucket of ice-cold water had just been thrown down her back. Her mind was blank and she was staring at Ron incredulously. She was half expecting someone to shout ‘April Fools’ and when no one did, the cold extended to her heart.

“What? This is ridiculous!” Draco spat vehemently.

“He was in bad health and you were his healer, Malfoy. A post-mortem shows that he was poisoned. He drank the poison along with the medicine you had given him. We have a witness that claims you were unsupportive of the Minister and his views. In conclusion, all the evidence points towards you, Malfoy.”

Hermione finally knew what Draco’s job in Italy had been, but she did not believe he had killed the Minister. His father may have been a murder but Draco definitely was not one. Only her shock at the words spilling from Ron’s mouth kept her rooted to the spot.

“The Department has reached a verdict to send you to Azkaban without a trial. Your sentence is 15 years.” Ron was relishing the words on his lips. Draco looked stunned, but the shock wore off and he fiercely yelled at Ron, “I did not murder him!”

A bright flash of light from somewhere made everyone turn and Hermione was incensed to see Rita Skeeter with her quick quotes quill and her photographer, her expression greedy, almost sadistic. Everyone’s attentions returned to Draco and Ron.

“I worked for the Minister for four years, since the age of 18. I got along just fine with him and I had no intentions of killing him. So, what’s all this nonsense about?” Draco hissed.

“You were still working for him when he was murdered. The only people present at the time of the murder were you, the Minister’s daughter, his nephew, his wife and a few servants. Once again, all the evidence points towards you. Now, hand me your wand.”

“Don’t even dream of it,” Draco snarled, but one of the aurors behind Ron had raised his wand and stunned Draco before he fell onto his back onto the graveled path. Hermione uttered a soft scream and forced herself not to rush to his side. Ron carefully walked over him and pulled his wand out of his jacket before waving his own wand and muttering, “Enervate”

Draco slowly stirred but he jumped to his feet on catching sight of Ron leaning over him, leering at him. His eyes caught sight of his wand in Ron’s hand and he made to lunge for it but Ron threw it to one of the aurors behind him.

“Don’t do anything that’ll increase your sentence.” Ron warned.

“Fuck off, Weasley. This is a conspiracy!”

Ron laughed viciously. “Keep telling yourself that, Malfoy. Maybe it’ll keep you sane in Azkaban.” He nodded at the aurors and they stepped forward to Draco, manacles magically appearing in one of their hands before they were cuffed around Draco’s wrists. A violent stream of profanities could be heard flowing seamlessly from Draco’s mouth.

Hermione couldn’t stop the tears and they fell thick and fast onto her cheeks. She rushed forward, her heels clicking on the ground and Draco turned to look at her, his eyes wide and pained. Everyone had hushed to watch the pair and Ron was gazing thunderstruck at them. Tentatively, Hermione reached her fingers to stroke his hands in the manacles.

“I don’t believe you did it.” She muttered through her tears. “I will do everything in my power to prove your innocence.” Her eyes were at their feet and she could feel his fingers grip her hands tightly.

“Hermione,” he breathed. “I love you.” The last three words were muttered so quietly, so that he intended only for her to hear. “Look at me.”

She raised her eyes to meet his and he smiled ruefully before leaning forwards her for a long, goodbye kiss. An audible gasp fluttered in the warm air, rippling around the crowd like a ribbon. Rita Skeeter was almost jumping with joy at the succulence of the story and her quick quotes quill was furiously moving across her notebook as her photographer took another picture. Hermione responded, her tears falling onto their lips before he pulled away.

“Come back to me. I love you.” She whispered and watched through tearful eyes as they dragged him away from her. They were about to turn to and disapparate with him when a distraught cry caught everyone’s attention.

“Liars! Liars!” Narcissa screamed, pointing her finger at Ron, her face tear-stained, her expression wild. “My son is not a murder. LIARS!”

Hermione ran to support Narcissa and the older woman began to cry on her shoulder as they watched Draco look at them despondently before they disapparated with him.

“Liars…liars,” Narcissa sobbed, releasing a shaky, ragged breath.

“It’s okay. He’s going to be all right. We’ll prove his innocence.” Hermione said soothingly to Narcissa, leading her back inside. She turned to the eagerly watching crowd, her tempter flaring suddenly.

“The party’s over, leave us in peace now!” she yelled and helped Narcissa up the steps, dragging her into the lounge and forcing a large glass of Firewhiskey into her shaking hands. “Drink, you’ll feel better.”

Narcissa threw it down in one go and gasped jaggedly. “Okay, get some rest now. I’m going to go to the Ministry and see what I can do,” Hermione explained.

“No, I want to go too.” Narcissa said quickly.

“No.” Hermione said firmly. “Stay here and rest. I’ll come back when I can.” She stood up and turned on the spot, apparating with a tiny ‘pop’, her thoughts dangerously murderous.
____________________________________________________________________
A/N: Still on holiday :)

Chapter 22: Twenty-two
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Hermione apparated straight into Ron’s office and his secretary came rushing in, her blonde hair flying behind her.

“I’m sorry, Miss, but Mr. Weasley requested no visitors. Would you like to wait for him outside?”

Hermione had every intention of telling the secretary to piss off, but controlled her antagonism and went to wait in her office. There were two other people there: A dark haired, plain young man of about twenty-four and a beautiful brunette with olive skin and large brown eyes sat on the leather armchairs. Hermione took one opposite them and surveyed them curiously, her foot bobbing up and down impatiently.

The young man looked pleased with himself, smirking smugly whilst the beautiful brunette looked dejected, almost regretful. They looked similar, like they were related. After an excruciatingly long wait, Ron finally arrived, running a hand through his flaming hair. He looked exhausted but exceedingly pleased with himself.

“Lauren, please hold any messages for me, I have an important talk with…” he halted on catching sight of Hermione sat there, her expression furious and her arms crossed across her chest.

“Hermione, what are you doing here?” he asked coldly. Clearly, he had not forgotten her kiss with Draco.

“I’m here to prove Draco’s innocence,” she spat, drawing herself to her full height. “He is not a murder and this is all a conspiracy.” The brunette and the man looked up curiously at the mention of Draco’s name.

“Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but your boyfriend is a murder. All evidence points towards him,” Ron hissed acerbically before turning to the other two. “Paolo, Carmella, is there anything else you wish me to assist you with?”

“No, we just wanted to thank you for catching my uncle’s murderer. We are very grateful.” Paolo replied, a thick Italian accent heavy on his tongue. Carmella grimaced and looked away, tears sparkling in her eyes. Paolo shot her a very filthy look. Hermione watched on curiously. Surely these had to be the daughter and nephew of the late Minister.

“I should be the one thanking you. You helped us solve the riddle of the case.” Ron gratified, shaking hands with Paolo.

“Not at all. I was only helping in abiding by the law. Thank you once again and good night.” He turned to leave, pulling Carmella behind him and she quickly turned to stare at Hermione intensely, like she was trying to send Hermione a message through the power of telekinesis. Hermione simply stared on, until they were no longer in her sight and she turned to Ron, her expression livid once more.

“You’ve got it wrong,” she hissed.

“Oh, have I?” Ron spat sardonically storming into his office and Hermione followed.

“Yes you have! Draco wouldn’t do anything like that. His father may’ve been a murder, but he most certainly isn’t.”

“And just how do you know? Malfoy is a cold-blooded bastard and you were kissing him!” His face had turned as red as his hair, the way it always did when he was angry.

“It is none of your business whom I kiss and that is neither here nor there. I demand that you let me go see him!” she was all but yelling now.

“No one but prisoners, Dementors and officials are allowed in Azkaban. Sorry to disappoint you, Hermione, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing much of Malfoy from now on.”

They were yelling at each other from opposite ends of the office and Hermione was restraining herself from picking up the plotted plant beside her and throwing it at Ron’s head. She controlled her breathing and stared at Ron as he fell into the leather chair behind his desk.

“When did this relationship with Malfoy start?” he asked coldly.

“That really is none of your business.”

“France, then,” Ron said lightly, shaking his head.

“This has nothing to do with the situation in hand!”

“Of course it does! You’re his girlfriend, you obviously want to prove his innocence so he can get out and you can tiptoe through the tulips again!” He snarled.

Hermione pulled her wand out. “I’m warning you, Ronald. One more word about my relationship with Draco and I will curse you,” she threatened dangerously, her voice lethal and quiet.

“Go ahead. If you do, we’ll throw you into a cell with your murderer of a boyfriend,” he sneered.

Hermione crossed the room and stuck her wand into his left shoulder. Sparks ignited, burning a hold through his official navy robes like a cigarette butt. “You go too far,” she hissed and stalked out of the office, disapparating in the secretary’s study. She was back at her apartment and she threw her bag into a corner of the room before collapsing onto the sofa and crying.

Draco had gone. And she did not know how long it would be till she saw him. Ron had threatened to send her to Azkaban. Her best friend had threatened to send her to a place where even the lowliest of hell itself feared to enter. So much for 11 years of friendship. She needed to tell someone.

Controlling her tears, she went to her room and pulled a piece of parchment out of her drawer and began to scribble.

Gabriella,

I don’t know how to begin such a letter but here goes. Draco has been arrested for the murder of the Italian Minister and he is now in Azkaban. I do not know what to do, Gabriella. Help me. I’m already starting to go insane, and the fact that’s he in Azkaban makes it that much worse. I can only talk to you about it. Please try and come as soon as you can.

Hermione.

She disapparated to the post office in Diagon Alley and quickly sent the letter before returning to the Manor. Narcissa had fallen asleep crying on the couch in the lounge. Hermione instructed the servants to clean the house before she scribbled a note to Narcissa explaining all she had done and disapparating back to her apartment. She changed out of her dress and into a nightgown and fell into her bed, crying, her thoughts straying to Draco.

*

Gabriella breathed a sigh of relief as her shift ended and she furiously rushed to the staff room to grab her coat and bag. Hermione’s letter had arrived almost a month ago and the hospital had only allowed her to go when she finished her work for the year before the holidays. She had the whole weekend to see Hermione.

“Why are you in such a hurry?” Jasper asked curiously, appearing at her side and taking in her furious scrambling to get her coat on. She was having difficulty getting her hand through a twisted sleeve and he held the coat for her and helped her into it.

“Thanks. I desperately need to go see Hermione. Draco’s been found guilty of murder and she sounded really upset in the letter she sent me.” Gabriella explained in a rush.

“What?” Jasper asked sharply, his mind processing that information. “I’m coming too.”

“Oh no, you don’t. You stay put and come when I need you to come.” She said firmly.

“Gabby,” Jasper began a little dangerously.

“Jasper, listen to me. Hermione needs a girl to talk to, not you. Besides, this will help you stop craving for her.” And she kissed his cheek goodbye before disapparating leaving Jasper scowling. Luckily, Hermione had attached her address, so she knew where to apparate to.

Upon opening her eyes, she found herself in a perfectly clean living room, the sun streaming through the window.

“Hermione?” she called.

“I’m in my bedroom,” came Hermione’s muffled reply and Gabriella wandered, trying to find the bedroom. She finally found Hermione sat at a desk, staring down at a picture in her hands, her eyes red.

“What on earth, have you been doing these past few days?” she asked suspiciously.

“I’ve been going to work. It’s awfully dull without him, now.” Her reply came in a hollow voice.

“And you’ve been crying. Obviously.”

Hermione shrugged and raised her gaze to meet Gabriella’s, her eyes wide and shining. She looked thinner and much more drained than Gabriella had ever seen her. Her expression showed nothing but bitter reminiscence and gloom. Her skin was sallow and her eyes gaunt. She was sure to lightly scare the children she looked after.


Gabriella sat on the edge of the table and peeked a glance at the picture in Hermione’s hands. It was a candid picture of Draco reading a book in the chateau’s drawing room before he looked up in surprise at them. Gently, she put a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “Tell me everything.”

She did. Starting from what had happened after the Bon Voyage ball up to the night when they had come to drag Draco away. Hermione’s grip on the picture by the end of her explanation was tense.

“We need to prove Draco’s innocence, but how? This is a difficult challenge, Hermione.” Gabriella admitted.

“We have to Gabriella. He’s innocent,” Hermione said urgently, her voice soft and desperate.

“Well, firstly, I think you should remain in contact with Draco. Get your friend, the head of the department to let you send letters to Draco. That’ll help him keep his mind at least.”

“I am not going to see Ron,” Hermione spat. “He made his thoughts about me very clearly and said he would rather throw me in a cell with Draco than let our relationship continue.”

“Yes, but for the sake of Draco.”

Hermione scowled, clearly displeased but stood up. “I’ll go get changed.”

*

“I still can’t believe you talked me into this,” Hermione hissed as they stood in front of the burrow, the sun setting behind them.

“Hermione, shut up and let me talk!” Gabriella snapped.

The door opened to reveal Fred and he froze, his jaw dropping on sight of Gabriella.

“Hello, I’m Gabriella Laverne. I’ve come to see Mr. Ronald Weasley with Hermione.” Gabriella introduced herself, her hand extending gracefully towards a drooling Fred. He shook her hand awkwardly and said, “Come in.”

He led them into the living room and they sat on the sofa, waiting for Fred to go and call Ron from dinner. Footsteps could be heard and soon, Ron and Harry had appeared in the living room. Gabriella’s eyes focused on Harry and warmed instantly.

“Hello, I’m Gabriella Laverne.” She shook hands with both of them, her fingers lingering on Harry’s hand longer than necessary but the move wasn’t awkward. “I’ve come to discuss an important topic with you, Mr Weasley, about Hermione.”

Ron’s eyes hardened at Hermione and he turned to Gabriella. “And what topic would that be?” he asked though his voice clearly betrayed that he knew exactly what the topic was.

“I was wondering if it would be okay for Draco and Hermione to send owls to each other frequently.” She said it simply, straight to the point. Her voice was sweet and sugar-coated though and she smiled warmly at Ron.

“And why should Malfoy receive owls from the outside world when none of the other prisoners do?” he countered.

“Because he’s innocent,” Gabriella replied again in that convincing, sugary voice. Her eyes flickered to Harry for a second before they returned to Ron. Ron was so taken aback by her abruptness that he sat quite still for some time, simply staring at her.

“And you believe that he is innocent, do you?”

“Of course. I know Draco like a brother. He may have an unkind side to him, but I am positive that he is no murderer.”

Ron squirmed in his seat. “There is no evidence to support that, Miss Laverne.”

“You never know Mr Weasley. Perhaps you haven’t unearthed any evidence to prove his innocence. Back to the situation in hand. Will you allow Hermione to send letters to Draco?”

Ron contemplated this for a while before replying. “Only because she is my friend-” Hermione snorted doubtfully and looked away. Ron continued irritably, “and because I don’t want to see her upset.”

“That’s very kind of you. And will you let Draco respond to the letters?”

“Yes,” Ron muttered against his own will.

“Thank you. You have been most helpful.” She stood up to leave and Hermione imitated her.

“Won’t you stay for desert?” Harry asked, smiling at Gabriella.

“Perhaps another time, Mr Potter. I hope to see you again soon. I am staying with Hermione until tomorrow evening,” she added, hoping he would drop by tomorrow.

“I’ll see if I can arrange a visit in my schedule.” Harry said and Gabriella smiled triumphantly to herself.

“Goodbye then.” And she grabbed the moody Hermione by the hand and apparated her out of the living room.

“Wow,” Harry muttered, staring at the place where Gabriella had been only seconds earlier.

“Yeah, you’re telling me. I swear that girl can make you do things you don’t want to do.”

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A/N: Filler chapters are real boring, no?



Chapter 23: Twenty three
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Hermione woke up with an agonizing pain in her stomach and she rushed to the bathroom to throw up. She grimaced with ache as the stomach acid burned her throat. Throwing down a large glass of water, she walked into the living room to find Gabriella wide-awake, watching the T.V. She set it to mute on catching sight of Hermione.

“Are you okay? I heard you throwing up in the bathroom,” she asked anxiously.

“No, I just felt really nauseous for a strange reason,” she said and fell onto the sofa.

“Has this happened before?” Gabriella asked curiously.

“A few times these past two weeks. Why?”

“I think you’re pregnant.”

Sometimes, Hermione hated how straight to the point Gabriella was. The shock was always greater when it hit you full on. She sat there on the couch, frozen. It took her a while to recover

“Excuse me? I’m what?” she asked sharply.

“You. Are. Pregnant.” Gabriella said slowly and clearly.

“How do you…”

“Hermione, please do not insult my intelligence. I did not waste four years of my life training to be a medi-witch for nothing. So, I guess you can put that in your letter for Draco.”

Hermione stared down at her stomach. It was still flat and trim. She ran her hand along it, amazed that there now existed a life within her. Something that connected her and Draco in a special bond. It was pure and unconditional and belonged only to them. It was a sign of their love.

“I’m pregnant?” she breathed incredulously.

“Don’t make me say it again,” Gabriella laughed.

“Oh my god…I’m having a baby!” she squeaked and reached to pull Gabriella into a tight hug. “Oh my god, I can’t believe this,”

“You should. That’s what sex without contraception leads to.”

Hermione laughed and stared down at her stomach once more.

“Draco’s going to be happy,” Gabriella said softly. Hermione looked up into her eyes and saw the truth within them. He would be happy.

“What do you say to a breakfast of croissants and coffee?” she asked, standing up and heading to the kitchen.

“Sounds like my type of breakfast.”

“Harry called yesterday while you were asleep. He’ll be here at two, so I’m thinking of going to tell my parents the good news then, leaving you with Harry. Alone.”

“You’re a saint, Hermione.” Gabriella chuckled as she thought of all the time she would be spending with Harry. Hermione returned with their croissants and coffee and handed Gabriella her plate and mug.

“You know, Harry could hardly take his eyes off you yesterday.”

Gabriella blushed with pleasure. “His eyes were so much more…vibrant that I expected and his hair was so…messy. I just wanted to run my hand through it. It was difficult concentrating on Ronald with him in the room.”

“OK, control yourself. You’ll be hyperventilating before he even gets here.” Hermione laughed.

*

The doorbell rang. Gabriella checked her reflection in the mirror in the hallway before rushing to open the door. Her eyes brightened on catching sight of Harry, looking casually appealing in dark trousers, a white shirt, a tie and a black leather jacket.

“Harry, hello. Come in.”

“Hello Gabriella. It’s nice to see you again,” he greeted and stepped in.

“You too.” She smiled a breathtaking smile that left Harry gaping for a moment. She led him into the living room and sat him down on the sofa.

“I’m afraid Hermione has gone to her parents to tell them some good news, so it’s just you and me, I’m afraid.” She easily started the conversation, taking a seat close to him on the sofa.

“Really? What’s the good news?” he asked curiously.

“She’s pregnant.”

Harry was as shocked as Hermione had been and she laughed and told him so. “It’s just…surprising, you know? Wow, I’m going to be an uncle…almost.”

“Yes you are. I suppose you’re also Godfather, Hermione always talks so highly of you, it would be almost rude to choose someone else.”

“I don’t really mind. So, I never asked you, how are you doing?”

“Never better,” Gabriella laughed truthfully. She got up and made her way to the kitchen. she was surprised at how easy he was talk to and how charming he was. “What would you like to drink?” she called out to him.

“Coffee would be fine, thank you.” He called in reply and she happily set to making the best cup of coffee he would ever taste. She returned with his coffee and a glass of water for herself.

“Thank you.” He gratified and sipped.

“Your welcome. You know, it such a beautiful day, what do you say you finish your coffee and we can go for a walk around the park?” she was manipulating the conversation to her advantage but he didn’t seem to be complaining.

“That’d be perfect.”

“Just let me go change into something,” she said and went to Hermione’s bedroom.

“Sorry, Hermione. Gotta borrow some stuff.” She muttered and began searching through the wardrobe. She and Hermione were almost level in height and they probably had the same shoe size, so there was nothing to worry about. Finally, she picked out a summery, white shirtdress that fell to her knees and matching heels. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she was clueless to her resemblance of an angel whenever she wore white. She grabbed her handbag and returned to the living room where Harry was waiting for her. He stood up once she had entered and his eyes widened on catching sight of her.

“You look lovely,” he breathed.

“Thank you, you are too kind. Ready?” she asked and he nodded and they walked out of the apartment, two similar smiles on their lips.

*

Hermione sat in her old room, on her bed, a piece of parchment at her elbows, a quill in her hand. She was going to write her letter to Draco. Sighing, she dipped her quill into some ink and began:

Draco,
Never before in my life have I fallen in love with someone as I have fallen in love with you. I drowned in the sea of your love but I was mercilessly pulled out of it by a power beyond our control. My love, it has already been over a month since they have taken you away from me and the wound that they left when they took you remains in my chest, raw and hurt. They did not realize that by taking you away from me, they had stabbed a dagger into my beating heart. I miss you already, so much. It hurts too much at times and I can’t go to sleep and I remain awake remembering our time together. Do you remember my love, in France, at the hospital, at my apartment, in your library? That was our time and though they have taken you away from me, they cannot take those memories from me.
Gabriella has convinced Ron to let us communicate. I do not know how we can survive without her. She came from France yesterday and helped me get better. I think she is with Harry now at my apartment. She is obsessed with him. You’re probably wondering where I am right now and to answer your questioning thoughts, I am at my parents’ house, in my old bedroom, sat writing this letter to you.
Tell me, my love, what is Azkaban like? How are you getting along? Please tell me that you are healthy and strong and that the Dementors don’t affect you much. Please my love, stay strong for me.
I have some good news to tell you. I am pregnant. We are going to have a baby, my love. A baby that belongs to you and I and no one else. It was that night, don’t you remember? Gabriella made a joke about it, about unprotected sex leading to this, but my love, the baby is one of the only happy things in my life at the moment. Without you, I’m desolate. I am nothing. Come back to me. I love you.

Eternally yours,
Hermione


She had decided to seal it with her parting words to him, knowing he would like her eloquence. Sighing, she folded the parchment and slipped it into a ready envelope. All she had to do know was give it to Ron.

She went down to find her mother enjoying a late afternoon TV programme and her father immersed in a newspaper crossword puzzle. Her mother looked up upon her entrance and spotted the envelope in her hands.

“Are you done, darling?” she asked.

“Yes, Mum. I’m just going to go give it to the person who’ll hand it to Draco.”

“Take care then, dear,” her father added and she nodded, disapparating to Ron’s office. He was startled as she appeared in the middle of his study.

“Hermione, please apparate to the secretary’s office next time.” He sighed, rubbing his temples.

“Yes, Ronald,” she seethed through gritted teeth.

“You’re not still mad at me are you?” he asked.

“What does it look like?”

“I was just doing my job.”

“And enjoying it when you shouldn’t have.”

“Okay, okay!” he held up his hands as if to indicate he wanted peace. “I don’t want to fight with you. Now, what do you want?”

“I need you to give this to Draco, next time you visit Azkaban,” she said placing the envelope gingerly on his table.

“That would be tonight then,” he took the envelope and placed it safely in his drawer. “I won’t forget it and I won’t read it,” he promised, raising himself a little in Hermione’s eyes.

“Thank you…I’ll see you around then.” And she disapparated out of the office.

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A/N: Terribly sorry for the hiatus, but we moved houses on a pretty big scale and it was the holidays. Review please!


Chapter 24: Chapter Twenty Four
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The dungeon was cold and dark and water dripped from the high ceiling. Two large hooded guards were at the entrance setting their icy gloom in the atmosphere. The young man inside the dank cell was sat with his legs crossed, his back to the bars.

He stared at the grimy wall, his eyes glazed over and distant. His thoughts strayed to Hermione and he sighed, pondering what she would be doing at the moment. An image of a large library, partly basked in moonlight floated to the surface of his thoughts and he almost smiled as he saw two people in a passionate embrace by the window. The Dementors turned hungrily to stare at him, their cold settling into his chest and he suppressed that memory, not wanting the Dementors to steal it away from him. He had learnt to suppress all of his memories, not keen on the Dementors sucking them from him. They were the only things that kept him sane in this desolate place. And the notion –the fact- that he was innocent.

Footsteps could be heard approaching his cell and he curiously turned to see who it was. His empty, gaunt eyes hardened menacingly upon catching sight of Weasley. The only good thing that came from this was that the Dementors drifted away, taking their cold and despair with them, leaving an inviting warmth.

“Malfoy,” He acknowledged curtly.

“Weasley,” Draco snarled, his voice low and dangerous. This was the man that had thrown him in here without a trial; he hated him with a passion. His schoolboy hatred of Weasley had increased tenfold since he had thrown him in here and his abhorrence was so evident, he was almost giving off an aura that would burn if approached too closely.

“I have something for you, Malfoy.” Ron said in displeasure and pulled an envelope out of his coat and slipped it in through the bars, sliding it across the floor towards Draco. “Hermione sends you a letter. Your little friend, Gabriella Laverne, convinced me to let you two remain in touch.”

“Gabby,” Draco breathed, forever grateful. A warm glow of happiness seemed to erupt in his chest and any despair that had hung about him disappeared. Several Dementors down the hall looked up eagerly and he could feel their cold and suppressed that glow and stored it in his memory, where he would visit it whenever he liked. He gently took the envelope and held it in his hands.

“I am allowing you to reply. You have the time it takes me to walk around the prison to write your reply.” And he took a piece of parchment, a quill, an inkbottle and an envelope from his coat and slipped them through the bars before disappearing. Reminding himself to breath and not to let his temporary bliss take over his feeling in fear of the Dementors stealing it away from him, he opened the envelope and greedily read Hermione’s reply. His eyes widened and another glow rose up in his chest at the last paragraph. They were having a baby? They were having a baby! He could not believe it. With a content sigh, that was pushed into his memory as well, he grabbed the parchment and quill and began to write his reply.

*

Hermione was sat in her bed, reading a book with great interest. It had been almost six months since Draco had gone to Azkaban and with the helpful monthly visits from Gabriella she found that she was slowly starting to come to terms with his absence. But she was still determined to prove his innocence. That however, was proving to be difficult. She had tried to contact many of the people who had known the Italian Minister and Draco and tried to get some sort of appointment from them but they all refused, for a strange reason.

It had been reported in the news that the late Minister’s nephew, Paolo Parechi, was now the Italian Minister. Unlike in England, where the Wizengamot voted for a new Minister, in Italy, the title of Minister was passed down to the first in line for the title and seeing as how the late Minister had no sons and women were not allowed to become Ministers in Italy, the title had gone to the nephew.

But there was another reason that she had to halt on her mission to prove Draco’s innocence. Her stomach was getting bigger and she was finding it hard to perform energy-required skills and activities. It was October already and she was due to give birth in late January. Mercifully, Gabriella, Harry, Ginny and Narcissa all came round to help as much as they could. Narcissa had invited her to live with her at the Manor, but Hermione had reclined the offer politely, saying she felt much more at ease in her apartment.

A soft knocking at the door, made her slowly get out of bed and make her way to the door. She opened it and found Gabriella and Harry outside, shivering and pink faced from the cold.

“You must be freezing! Come in,” she invited.

They shuffled in and Hermione led them into the living room where they sat.

“What’s with the unexpected visit?” Hermione asked Gabriella, but she caught sight of her fingers laced with Harry’s and smirked. “You couldn’t stay away, could you?”

“No. He’s far too irresistible,” Gabriella said sweetly and placed a soft kiss on Harry’s lips. Hermione smiled at the pair; they made a lovely couple.

“So, where were you two?”

“I took Gabriella for coffee at Diagon Alley and then showed her Hogsmeade.” Harry replied. “Oh, we bumped into Ron and we have something for you.” He slipped his long fingers into his pocket and pulled out an envelope. Hermione gasped delightedly and quickly reached to snatch it out of Harry’s hand.

“Eager, are we?” Gabriella laughed. Hermione stuck out her tongue childishly, and went to her room to read the letter privately, leaving Harry and Gabriella to cuddle. She fell onto her bed and held the envelope in front of her before slowly opening it and pulling the folded parchment out. Opening it up, she read.

Dear Hermione,
I miss you, love. I’m surely going to go insane without you. Every minute of everyday is spent thinking of you and your intoxicating kisses, your sweet taste, your beautiful laugh…sometimes I fear that the Dementors will suck it all away from me and I will be left with nothing to remind me of you. Life here is still pretty dull and vapid. I passed a few of familiar faces a few days ago, all of them Death Eaters. I saw Rodolphus Lestrange -my aunt’s husband- and I was surprised to find him so…normal. Half of them start screaming in the dead of the night and the rest refuse food. They’re wasting away, but he seemed very relaxed, at ease with everything. The Dementors didn’t seem to be affecting him as badly as the others, almost like me. I wonder what he has to keep him sane. Sometimes, they start shrieking Voldemort’s name, hallucinating themselves into believing that he had come to rescue them. It’s almost pitiful at times.
I bet you’re getting big. I would have loved to see you with your stomach protruding, waddling around your apartment. I bet you’re scowling now. You obviously won’t like me comparing you to a duck. Anyway, Hermione, I’ve been thinking. You should go and live in the chateau in France. There, you are closer to Gabriella and things will just be easier there. Perhaps mother can go with you. Mull it over and tell me what you think.
Somehow, I can’t imagine Gabriella and Potter as a couple. It almost disgusts me at times. Why on Earth does she like him? Of course, he is the Harry Potter, conqueror of all evil, but apart from that…you’re not liking this either, are you? Your reply will probably include reprimands about mocking your friends and comparing you to a duck. I’ve yet to ask you, have you taken Maternity leave from the hospital? If you haven’t, what on earth do you think you’re doing working in your state? If you have, then ignore the last sentence completely.
Paolo is the new Minister? That bastard? He doesn’t know the first things about magical politics. Are they insane, putting him as the new Minister? I spent three years with him and in all the conversations I’ve ever had with him, the main topic has been him. He didn’t like me much. I’ve got to go now, love. Weasley is coming back. Take care, my love. Wait for me.

Yours forever,
Draco


She sighed in content and flopped onto her bed, staring at the white ceiling. How she longed to be with him again.

“Soon, Draco. Soon, I’ll prove your innocence and you’ll come back to me.” She muttered and safely put the letter into its envelope before reaching into her handbag for a small key. She found it and used it to open the locked drawer on her bureau where she kept all her letters from Draco. The letter slipped in and she securely locked the drawer again.

Her feet took her back to the living room where Harry and Gabriella were sat, exchanging kisses. She looked away pointedly. That had been her and Draco on the very same sofa, only seven months ago. Sometimes, it made her feel lonely to see Harry and Gabriella so content with each other. They pulled apart and Gabriella ran her fingers through her hair, trying to straighten it to the way it had been before Harry’s hands had mussed it up.

“So, happy with the reply?” she asked.

“Ecstatic.” Hermione grinned and sat down on the free armchair. “He wants me to go live in the chateau though.”

“In Paris?” Gabriella asked excitedly. Hermione nodded. “That’s great. I won’t have to keep apparating here every week.”

“Hey! What about me?” Harry pouted.

“It’s your turn to make the effort. You apparate to France once a week and see how you like it?” Gabriella countered with a smirk.

“I’m not sure though,” Hermione said, nervously fiddling with her fingernails. “My parents are here and so are my friends and my work…”

“They can easily apparate to see you,” her eyes lingered on Harry playfully. “And you can apparate to visit your parents.”

“He said I might want to take Narcissa with me, you know for company and help. You won’t be around all the time and I need someone around me when I’m like this,” she patted her stomach and smiled.

“Is that a yes, then?”

“I suppose,” Hermione mumbled sheepishly. Gabriella squealed with delight and rushed to hug Hermione.

“This is brilliant!” she was barely controlling her dazzling grin and Hermione couldn’t help but to smile too.

“I guess this leaves me to sort out the legal paperwork, does it?” Harry asked, his tone implying how tedious that was.

“Will you, Harry? Please?” Hermione asked sweetly.

“Fine,” he muttered.

“Harry, you’re a star.” Hermione said graciously and hugged her best friend. “Hang on…how will I get my letters to and from Ron?”

“I’ll get them for you, now that I’m going to be apparating there every week. Everyday, if I can’t control myself.” He added as an afterthought. Gabriella’s smile had never been bigger.

*

“Is that everything?” Harry asked as Hermione walked around the apartment, taking a final look at what had been her home for almost five years. She was going to miss it.

“Yes, that’s all of my things. Do you want to go now?”

Harry nodded and she took hold of his hand and apparated him to the chateau. When their feet touched solid ground again, they were in the drawing room. Narcissa and Gabriella were already there, sat talking on the sofa. They rose on seeing Harry and Hermione and Gabriella rushed to hug Harry. They had not seen each other in ten days; a record for them.

“Hi,” Hermione greeted.

“Hello dear,” Narcissa replied. She looked around the room and smiled nostalgically. “This place brings back lots of memories.”

“It does,” Hermione agreed softly and closed her eyes thinking of all the time she’d spent with Draco here. It bought a nostalgic smile to her lips.

“We’re going to go prepare some dinner. Hermione, why don’t you go upstairs and start unpacking your things?” Gabriella suggested and she dragged an awed Harry into the kitchen.

“Would you like any help, Hermione?” Narcissa offered politely.

“No thank you, I’m sure I can manage.” She replied and went upstairs, determined to relive her memories alone. Her first destination was Draco’s room. Gently, she pushed open the room and sighed sadly as she stepped in. His bed had remained undone to this day and she slowly fell on it, inhaling the scent deeply. His cologne lingered faintly on the pillows. She turned her head to stare at the balcony through the closed glass doors and smiled, a nostalgic tear slipping from her eye. That was where they had kissed and made up, quite literally, before…

She looked at the bed and more tears spilled forth. That night came flooding back and her longing to have him with her intensified a hundredfold. She looked down at her stomach: the result of that night and smiled. Delicately, she traced the sheets with her fingers before turning to look at the clothes folded neatly at the edge of his bed. The tuxedo he had worn to the Bon Voyage ball lay as she had put it, folded neatly at the edge. Almost cautiously, she got up and reached for the shirt on top. She pulled it to her face and breathed in his intoxicating smell, miraculously, still lingering on his clothes. It was almost like he was here with here, but he wasn’t and that hurt glaringly. Determined not to feel any pain, she let the ball came flooding back to her and a light smile fell on her lips as she remembered their dance.

After quite a while studying the intricacies of his room and inhaling all his clothes, she left for the library and sighed with a smile. This was her haven…all that was missing was him. She sat down at his comfortable chintz armchair by the fire and smiled, their study sessions enveloping her thoughts. It was almost fun to relive these memories…she had not visited them in quite a while. But it also hurt. She pushed the hurt further down her heart where there was no chance of it resurfacing soon and pulled a book out of a nearby bookcase and began to read. How long she stayed there reading, she did not know but she was aware of Gabriella calling up the stairs half way through reading the book.

“Hermione! Are you done? Dinner’s ready,” she called.

Marking her page and setting the book down on the coffee table in front of her, Hermione called back, “Coming. Just give me a minute.”

She rushed to her room, no longer caring to manually unpack and with a wave of her wand all her things had flown from their boxes and into their rightful places. Pleased with herself, she went downstairs to find the other three seated at the dining table, awaiting her presence.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” she apologized and took her seat opposite Narcissa.

“Not at all, we just sat down.” Narcissa said, “Gabriella, this looks wonderful.”

“Thank you, Mrs Malfoy.” Her eyes flickered to Harry and she smirked. “Well, what are you waiting for?”

Gabriella had cooked the traditional French dish of Bouillabaisse along with a potato salad. Hermione raised her fork speared through some fish and was about to put it in her mouth when the doorbell rang. Sighing, she set down her fork.

“I’ll get it,” she said to Gabriella who had begun to rise out of her chair. She left the dining room and made her way to the door, pulling it open. She was expecting all but him. Standing frozen, she gaped at him taking him in, her stomach feebly lurching.

“Jasper?” she choked out finally.

“Hello, Hermione.” He replied softly.

___________________________________________________________________________________
A/N: I have some explaining to do, I know. I haven’t been around as frequently because life has been much too hectic than one girl can handle. The sole reason behind all this, is because my family has emigrated. It’s still tough adjusting to the new environment, especially school and education here relies heavily on frequent testing. I’m writing in whatever time I can find and I promise to try and update more frequently than I have been doing recently. But please don’t understand that my time is no longer predominantly dedicated to writing and updating. Unfortunate as that is.

Your homesick author,
Sera


Chapter 25: Chapter twenty five
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Chapter 25:

“Um…come in,” Hermione stuttered and allowed him in, leading him to the dining room. The others looked up curiously. Harry and Narcissa’s expressions were blank but Gabriella smiled warmly and stood up to greet Jasper.

“Jasper, I thought you’d be dropping by.” She smiled and kissed him once on the cheek. Comprehension dawned across Harry’s face.

“I had to welcome Hermione back.” Jasper replied with a breathtaking smile. The exact same flutter that had travelled round her body when she had first laid eyes on Jasper made a reappearance, only fainter.

“Harry, Narcissa, I’d like you to meet Jasper Lesair. He is the leading healer at the hospital where we work and a close friend of mine. Jasper, this is Harry Potter and Narcissa Malfoy,” Gabriella introduced.

He shook hands with Harry, “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, Mr Potter. Gabriella never shuts up about you.” Harry looked taken aback somewhat but muttered a greeting in return. Jasper turned to Narcissa and suavely took her hand in his, raising it to his lips and muttering, “Surely, you’re not Draco’s mother? You could be his sister.”

Narcissa blushed (Jasper had the same effect on her as he did on Hermione) and replied with a smile, “I get that a lot Mr Lesair, but yes, I am Draco’s mother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“No, the pleasure is all mine,” Jasper countered.

“Would you like to join us?” Narcissa asked, indicating the food.

“No thank you, I’ve come here on a full stomach, unfortunately. That does look delicious”

“Would you like to come in to the drawing room then? You guys finish dinner, I’ll eat later.” Hermione said and went into the drawing room, Jasper following close behind her. She awkwardly took a seat on the sofa and he sat close to her. Surveying him closely, she realized that, if possible, he seemed to have gotten even more handsome. His dark hair had grown a little and now hung about his mesmerizing sapphire eyes and his body seemed much more muscular underneath his clothes.

“Wow, you’re getting big,” he laughed, nodding at her stomach.

“I am. It’s great to see you.” She smiled.

“You too. I can’t believe it’s been almost eight months since the conference. It seems like a lifetime away.” He smiled that breathtaking smile again and Hermione had to remember to suck in oxygen. She’d forgotten how striking he was.

“It does,” she agreed breathlessly.

“I missed you.” His voice had turned low and husky and sincerity was pouring from every syllable.

“I missed you too,” she replied, her voice not as fully convinced as his. He stared at her, his eyes smouldering at her and he grimaced to himself before she saw his face inch closer to hers and then his lips were on hers, kissing her greedily, his tongue darting out to meet hers. It gave a whole new meaning to the term French kissing. Without realizing what she was doing, Hermione responded, her hands curling round the back of his neck to pull him closer. She moaned into his mouth as his hands gently trailed across her body, sending a shiver of pleasure down her spine. She’d forgotten how good he was at kissing as well.

His hands disappeared into her hair and hers ran underneath his shirt, tracing the contours of his chest lightly. His mouth left hers to trail kisses across her jaw and neck.
“Jasper,” she gasped, loving what he had evoked in her.

“Hermione,” he replied in a similar, husky voice. “Come with me, forget Draco. I can show you the world…”

Her conscience kicked back in tact and was screaming shrilly at her that what she was doing was wrong and she obeyed it and abruptly pulled back. Jasper’s lips remained at her neck, not wanting to desert her warmth and she pushed him back gently.

“No, this is wrong…” she whispered as realization at what she had just done hit her forcefully. Tears began to form in her eyes and she continued. “I can’t Jasper. I want you physically, but my heart belongs to Draco. I just can’t. I’m sorry.” She avoided his gaze and stared at her entwined fingers.

It had been almost eight months since she had been kissed and kissed back like that and this was not going to help. It was a reminder of what she could’ve had, had she chosen Jasper over Draco…how differently things could have turned out. But it also reminded her of Draco’s enticing kisses and it hurt her to remember and realize just how much she missed him.

“Hermione, please…” Jasper begged, his lips returning to hers for a soft, slow kiss. She forced herself to stay immobile and not respond but it was becoming excruciatingly difficult to resist his sweet, warm lips. The task was demanding enough in itself without him forcing the kiss to become more and more passionate with each second that passed. He could sense she was starting to crack and he smirked against her lips before his own lips returned to her sensitive spot, his hand reaching underneath her shirt to slowly and sensually rub her back in small circles.

She whimpered and bit her lip, her hands curling into tight fists with the effort of resisting; her nails were digging painfully into her palms. His hand travelled up and he trailed a soft finger down her spine and she moaned, no longer able to control herself and kissed him back fiercely, her fingers trailing on the inside of his thigh. He groaned into her mouth, loving what she did to him and his hand travelled from her back to her chest, his nimble fingers trailing across the top of her breasts, eliciting a deep moan of pleasure from Hermione that drove him insane.

“Hermione, you don’t know how crazy you make me,” he muttered against her lips. Tears slipped from Hermione’s eyes and she pulled back, burying her face in her hands. “Hermione, please. I know it’s wrong but I can’t help myself.”

“I love what you do to me, Jasper but my heart belongs to Draco,” she sniffed. “But it’s wrong. So wrong! Draco and I are having a baby, I can’t do this. If things had turned out differently…” she trailed off leaving the rest to his imagination.

Jasper sighed and he put a hand gently on her shoulder. “I tried to forget, Hermione. I really did try to forget how you made me feel, but I just couldn’t. Draco is a lucky man.”

She looked up through her tear-stained eyes and said thickly, “I appreciate that you did but I’m waiting for Draco to come back.”

“I anticipated as much. It’s obvious you are madly in love with him. Are you still trying to prove his innocence?” he asked, pulling his hand away and shuffling to the corner of the couch. It was clear he was resisting her just as she had been resisting him just earlier.

“Not at the moment, no. After the baby comes, I will resume my investigation.” She said, her hands desperately trying to right her appearance.

“I could help you,” he offered quietly.

“What? I thought you hated Draco.”

“I do. I’m doing this for you, to see you happy.”

“You really don’t have…”

“I want to.” He interjected and she smiled gratefully before straightening her clothes, brushing her hair with her fingers and wiping away her tears, to erase all evidence of any intimate activity.

*

“Hermione! Hermione!” an excited voice was whispering in her ear. Unwillingly, Hermione opened her eyes and saw Gabriella above her, her smile wide, her expression radiant. She looked round; the place wasn’t familiar. “Hermione, congratulations! It’s a boy!”

Those last words shocked her into a state of alertness and she sat up –with difficulty- and looked at Gabriella with wide eyes. “It’s a boy?” she echoed hollowly.

“Yes. Yesterday, the twenty fourth of January you gave birth to a baby boy at eleven fifty six P.M.” Gabriella said, using numbers to make it official. She turned round and picked a small bundle of blue blankets from a small cot before handing it to a stunned Hermione. Speechless, Hermione stared down at the peachy sleeping baby. It had a small tuft of dark hair upon its head and the tiniest fingers curling around the edge of the blanket. Her heart melted and she gazed lovingly at the baby.

“What are you going to call him?” Gabriella asked softly.

“Alexander Emmett Malfoy,” she announced quietly. She’d had the name stuck in her head of quite a while now. “Welcome to the world, Alex,” she muttered softly to the sleeping baby.

“He’s gorgeous,” Gabriella gushed and stood up to leave.

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked anxiously.

“To get Narcissa, Harry and Ginny. They’ll be happy to know you’ve woken up.” She departed and Hermione was left to gaze at the baby cradled in her arms. He was beautiful. She couldn’t wait to write a letter to Draco and tell him and possibly attach a photo. He would be ecstatic. Footsteps could be heard and her head snapped up and she saw Narcissa and Ginny rushing towards her. Harry was walking with Gabriella, his arm around her waist and he was smiling happily.

“Congratulations, Hermione. Oh I can’t believe this, I’m a grandmother!” Narcissa said, her smile wide. “May I?” she asked, holding her arms out.

“Of course,” Hermione said and gently handed her Alex. She beamed down at him and a few tears escaped her eyes. Hermione turned to Ginny and smiled.

“I can’t believe you came all the way here to see me sweating and screaming,” she said, groaning at the mental image she made of herself. She must’ve looked awful.

“It was worth it to see this little prince. Have you chosen a name yet?” Ginny smiled.

“Yes. Alexander James Malfoy.”

“Oh, they’ll be so happy to hear back home. Do you want me to send a letter to your parents, telling them the good news?” Ginny offered.

“You don’t mind, do you?”

“Not at all,” and she stood up and stole a glance at Alex before leaving the room.

“Harry,” Hermione sighed with a smile. “You are just brilliant, I don’t know how I could live without you. Would you like to be godfather? And you Gabriella, How does the title ‘Godmother’ sound to you?”

“You’re asking me?” Gabriella was shocked. “Of course. I love it! Godmother to be Gabriella Laverne. Has a ring to it, don’t you think?” she joked and Harry laughed, pulling her closer to him.

“I’ll be happy to be godfather,” he smiled.

“Oh thank you, so much,” Hermione gushed. Narcissa was still staring at the baby in her arms and she gasped when he opened his eyes. They were the exact same shape and colour as Draco’s. She handed him back to Hermione and told her to look. She smiled a bittersweet smile as she saw his eyes. If only Draco was here to see this…

A tall figure appeared at the doorway and Hermione fell silent on catching sight of Jasper dressed in a healer’s uniform. She’d forgotten that this was the hospital where he and Gabriella worked.

“Congratulations, Hermione. I hear it’s a boy.” He smiled but the smile did not extend to his eyes.

“Thank you,” was all that would come out of Hermione’s mouth. He crossed over and watched the baby for a while.

“He has his father’s eyes, but everything else is yours,” he smiled and turned to stare at Hermione instead, his expression yearning and pained. “I have to get going, I have an appointment with a patient now. Gabriella, drop by later. I need to discuss some papers with you.” And he walked out.

Hermione did not dwell on his reaction for long for Alex had started screaming. Everyone winced; amazed that such a loud sound could come from such a small thing.

“God, he’s loud,” Harry muttered, his hands rising to cover his ears.

“Takes after his parents,” Gabriella grinned at Harry over the noise. “Come get coffee with me.” And she pulled him out of the room and towards the cafeteria. Hermione was clueless as to what to do. Thankfully, Narcissa had taken him in her arms again and his screaming quietened until it ceased and he fell back to sleep.

“He’s going to be a handful, this one.” Narcissa warned.

*

It was with a sigh of relief that Hermione finally sat down at her desk and began to write her letter to Draco. Alex had been crying for the past hour and her head had started to ache. He had just drifted off to sleep and Hermione was mercifully thanking the heavens.

She dipped her quill into some ink and began.

Dear Draco,

I suppose you can guess that I’m going to start the letter with good news, my love. We have a baby, Draco. We have a son and I have called him Alexander James Malfoy. I hope you like it. He never ceases to stop crying though and will only quieten when he is with your mother. He has your eyes and everything else is mine. Including a dark tuft of hair upon his head. It’s unbelievable that he has hair at this age already. I bet when he grows up, his hair will be one of his main priorities; a lot like you. I suppose that’s another thing he’s sure to have inherited from you. Ego.
I came back from the hospital almost two weeks ago and I do not plan on returning to work until Alex is at least six months. I will use the time to try and search for any evidence that proves your innocence. I had tried before to arrange some interviews with servants and people who worked with the Minister, but they all refused to come. Do you have any idea why? It’s extremely frustrating. We need at least one person who will defend your innocence.
I suppose there is no way of escaping it, but this letter will be completely about little Alex. I have chosen Harry and Gabriella as Godparents. I know you will be displeased at my choice of Harry, but he doesn’t believe you a murderer and he has helped me so much. Your mother is over the moon that she is finally a grandmother and I am simply over the moon about no longer waddling like a duck. I have attached a picture of Alex and me that I hope you will you enjoy. He looks like an angel but he behaves like he was spawned by the devil, or rather the Dragon: you. I remember you had a terrible attitude at Hogwarts. I bet he’s inherited that from you too. Perhaps I am being a bit unfair here, stating that he has inherited all your bad traits whereas with me, he only inherited the good traits. There could be some truth to it though, my love. I’m only joking. Come back to me. I love you.

Eternally yours,
Hermione.

She slipped the parchment into a ready envelope and attached the picture she had mentioned and left the envelope on the table, reminding herself to give it to Harry when he came round the next time. Yawning, she walked over to her bed, passing the cot along the way. He lay there sleeping, tranquil and unassuming and she gently stroked his velvety soft face with delicate fingers.

“Sweet dreams, Alex,” she muttered before falling onto her bed and falling into deep, blissful sleep.

____________________________________________________________________

Chapter 26: Chapter twenty six
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A/N: Usually I don’t have a note at the start of my chapters, but I just thought I’d tell you that this is taking place quite a few months after the events of the last chapter.
*

“This is ridiculous! Why won’t anyone agree to see us for an interview?” Hermione snapped and furiously threw a book onto the floor. She was in the library of the chateau with Jasper and had just received another owl rejecting an interview. “It makes no sense.”

“I really have no idea.” Jasper said softly and pulled the letter towards him to read it again. “Who was this again?”

“The cook,” Hermione spat bitterly. “We’ve contacted pretty much everyone and they all reject us? There’s definitely someone playing puppet master with those people. Surely one of them would’ve been happy to give us a short interview?”

“I agree. Do you want to take a break?” he asked softly.

“No. You have one if you want. Go down and get something to eat. No one’s home, Narcissa’s taken Alex to England for the day so she can show him to my parents and some of her friends and Gabriella and Harry are away on holiday,” she sighed.

“No, I’m fine. I was just asking, because you seemed tired.”

“No, I’m just irritated. I’ve been trying for so long and all my work would’ve gone to waste if nothing is achieved from this.” She stood up and went to lounge on the sofa in front of the fire. “Urgh! I hate this,” she screamed in frustration into one of the cushions. Jasper followed her and sat next to her and chuckled darkly.

“You’re so appealing when you’re angry,” he breathed and raised a hand to run it down her cheek. Hermione froze, immobile underneath his hand and tried her hardest to shrug off the faint shiver that wanted to fall down her spine at his touch. His hand fell to her neck and curled round it, pulling her closer. She closed her eyes and let his lips come forth until she felt their warm velvety softness upon hers. Her hands curled into fists as he kissed her, his kiss getting more intense. She didn’t know how long she could resist him this time. She bit her lip and faintly shook her head. Jasper pulled away and saw her with her eyes closed, biting on her lower lip. He desperately wanted her to respond to him.

Gently, he placed his lips at the base of her throat and gently kissed once. “Hermione. Kiss me.” He ordered softly. She shook her head. His lips kissed up her throat to her jaw “Hermione. Kiss me.” He repeated. She shook her head by a fraction. He rested the tip of his nose at the base of her throat and drew a line with it up her throat to her chin and up to the corners of her mouth where his lips rested. “Hermione. Kiss me.”

She didn’t need to be told again and pulled his face closer to hers and attacked his lips with hers, kissing him greedily, her heart pumping erratically fast. Her tongue forcefully parted his lips and eagerly searched his mouth for his before they came together in a battle for dominance. She could not help the strong moans that escaped her lips into his mouth as his hands furiously ran underneath her blouse. It’d been so long since she’d done this.

Leaning back down on the sofa, she pulled him on top of her and kissed him fervently, her lips moving furiously over his. She wrapped her leg around his thigh, her hands furiously working with the buttons of his shirt. Finally when they were done, she desperately ripped it off his and admired the accentuated, smooth chest, her hands running up and down, loving the feel of the warm smoothness underneath her hands. He would not allow her all the fun, however. With a quick, lithe movement, he had flipped over so that she was on top of him and her leg released his waist

She leaned in to nibble his ear, her chest pressed up against his. Her lips began to explore the intricacies of his neck and she inhaled deeply, his fragrance making her light headed and dizzy. Quite quickly, she found a spot on his neck where she found if she sucked oh so lightly…he would make the most unbelievable noise that left her breathless. She slowly returned to it and pressed her lips to it and he gasped softly, the sound smooth like satin, rippling like water, sweet as honey and all elegantly laced together with that hint of the French accent she loved so much. Her pulled her face to his and bought his lips connecting vigorously with hers.

As always, in situations like this, her conscience switched back on and soon, as always, it was screaming that what she was doing was wrong. Her hands rested at his belt buckle when she stopped and got off him and listened to her conscience reprimanding her viciously in her head.

“Hermione, why did you stop?” he asked softly, standing up and pulling his clothes back on. She ignored her admonishing conscience for a while and replied to his question. He already knew the answer before it came.

“It’s wrong.” she replied.

“How can something that feels so right, be so wrong?” he asked incredulously.

“Just because it feel right, doesn’t mean it is morally right!” she spat vehemently. “I told you before, Jasper to control yourself because when you lose control so do I, and I don’t want to do something I will regret for the rest of my life?”

“Regret?” he echoed. “You regret all of this? You regret all that happened between us?”

“No, not all. I only regret the things that happened after Draco was sent to Azkaban. And I regret this most of all.”

“How can you? Hermione, do you know how strongly attracted to you I am? It’s beyond my control.”

“I’ve told you before Jasper. We’re only attracted physically; whatever this is between us is nothing more than lust. It’s not love, just desire. I was hoping that somehow we’d be able to get over this attraction and we could’ve become the best of friends but I guess I was wrong.”

“It’s Draco isn’t it?” Jasper asked maliciously. “It’s because you love him and because you have a son together that you will not allow me to be with you. Well, here’s some news for you, Hermione: he’s not going to get out of Azkaban. Ever.”

“How dare you! I will make sure he gets out of Azkaban, if it is the last thing I do! You’ve just been after my body all along.” Her voice had risen into a shrill crescendo.

“Little Miss intelligent gets it wrong again,” he sneered. “I love you, but you just can’t see it because you’re pathetically besotted with Draco. Well, you know what they say, two’s company, three’s a crowd. I think you’ve made your thoughts about me pretty clear. Goodbye, Hermione.”

He grabbed his coat and stormed out of the library, leaving Hermione to stare regretfully at the fire with blank eyes.

*

“Hermione, Jasper’s quit working at the hospital. He’s moved to Cannes. Do you know why?” Gabriella asked curiously, a month later. Hermione looked up from the newspaper in her hand and replied quite nonchalantly.

“We had an argument.”

“Over what?”

“His inability to stay away from me and my body,” Hermione replied stiffly.

“Oh,” was all that came out of Gabriella’s mouth.

“It was just lust between us, Gabriella. Nothing more...at least that’s what I felt.”

“I suspected as much. Jasper isn’t the type to committing to something more…but he seemed really taken with you.” She paused a while, the silence inviting before she spoke again. “Would you like me to go talk with him? Perhaps you can resolve your argument and continue as friends?”

Hermione sighed and out the paper down. “No. We tried after the conference ended and it didn’t work. It’s a shame really, I enjoyed his company so much.”

“Okay.” She let the subject drop. “Have you gotten anywhere with trying to talk to someone who knew the Minister?”

“No, I’m afraid. I have been contacting them for almost six months and not one single person seems to want to talk with me about what happened. It’s suspicious.” Deciding she didn’t want to ponder about her recent failure in trying to attain an interviewee, Hermione changed the subject. “So, where did you and Harry get off to this past month?”

Gabriella got the smile that girls always got when they were about to talk about guys. “We went skiing in the Swiss Alps. And…” she extended her right hand for Hermione to see a glittering diamond set in a gold band.

“No! You’re getting married?” Hermione squeaked. Gabriella nodded and she rushed to hug her. “This is brilliant!”

“We’re not getting married soon, we’re waiting for a while. I just quite like the title of being Harry Potter’s fiancée,” she smirked. Hermione smiled. She had seen a lot of candid pictures of Harry and Gabriella in the gossip column of the Daily Prophet.

Narcissa walked in, Alex sat giggling in her arms. He had grown considerably and he was nearing his first birthday. Hermione got up and took him in her arms, placing a gentle kiss on his delicately soft cheek. “Hey there,” she smiled and tickled his neck. He giggled, the sound soothing to Hermione.

“He’s just woken up,” Narcissa said and sat down on the sofa next to Gabriella. “I heard the exciting news. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,”

Hermione wasn’t paying attention, focusing more on making Alex giggle than anything. His eyes, parallel with Draco’s, would brighten up and glitter mischievously. The door rang and Hermione went to open it, Alex held in her arms. She opened the door and Hermione was surprised to see Carmella Parechi on her doorstep, looking as beautiful as ever but oddly forlorn.

“Hello. I’m Carmella Parechi. I believe you sent me a letter enquiring an interview about my father and Draco,” she introduced, her Italian accent beautifully laced within her voice.

“Yes, but I thought you rejected my invitation.” Hermione was confused.

“I realized that I couldn’t delay meeting you any more. May I come in?”

“Yes of course, please come in,” Hermione stepped aside and let the brunette walk through, leading her to the drawing room where Gabriella and Narcissa were discussing locations for weddings. They looked up curiously on sight of Carmella.

“Good afternoon. I’m Carmella Parechi,” she introduced politely, shaking hands with the pair of them.

“Good afternoon. Please sit down.” Narcissa invited, her expression confused. Carmella took a seat in an armchair and Hermione sat down in a chair opposite her, placing Alex on her lap. They watched her in silence, the sound only broken by Alex’s noisy attempts to free himself from Hermione’s hold.

“I’m so sorry to come here without invitation but I was in the area and I couldn’t keep this from you anymore,” she began. Hermione was utterly perplexed. What was she talking about? What was she keeping from them? Had they even spoken to each other before?

Carmella was beautiful. She had long hair in a rich chocolate brown set in elaborate curls about her shoulders, smooth olive skin, large, intense brown eyes that peered up from underneath long dark lashes. What took away from her beauty however, was the lack of self-assurance. She looked like a fragile little girl.

“Miss Parechi, would you mind explaining what you are talking about, please?” Gabriella requested politely. Carmella blushed and Gabriella looked taken aback, fearing that she had upset her.

The Italian girl took a deep breath and said, “I’m here to talk about Draco, my Father, his murder and my cousin.”

Hermione’s heart stopped momentarily and she froze. Did Carmella know the real story behind her father’s murder? Taking a deep breath, she watched Carmella with great interest. Hermione, Gabriella and Narcissa urged her on silently and she obeyed.

“I should probably start at the time when Draco first came to work as my father’s healer. My father immediately liked him. He was young, he was intelligent and he was fun. The rest of the family instantly liked him too. The only person who didn’t was my cousin, Paolo. Paolo was very vain and bitter. His parents had been killed by he who must not be named and knowing that Draco’s late father was a supporter of Lord…. well, it only increased his hatred towards Draco. Draco and me were, somewhat close, and Paolo did not like how much time we spent together. He proposed to me and I refused.”

She took a great shuddering breath and continued, “Paolo had never been more enraged. He hated how everyone liked Draco and seemed to forget about him, including my father. My father was very taken with Draco and immediately forgot the nephew he had. Paolo became increasingly jealous and tried to coerce my father into dismissing Draco, but my father declined. So, he resorted to framing Draco as he was about to return to England. He snuck into Draco’s room and slipped the poison into the medicine Draco gave to my father everyday. When my father was discovered dead, he immediately pointed his finger and falsely accused him of my father’s murder. He lied and told your ministry that Draco hated my father and did not agree with his views. Most people believed that Draco had killed my father but not me.”

She took a pause to collect her thoughts and continued, her eyes staring down at her hands in her lap. “I knew that Draco and my father got along too well and I was convinced that Draco wasn’t a murderer. When Paolo was sleeping, I used a charm that let me see into his thoughts and past actions and I saw him poisoning my father’s medicine. I knew then, that he was the murderer and confronted him about it. He threatened to kill me if I told anyone and so, obviously scared, I heeded his words and didn’t tell a soul. He became Minister and revelled in the power and the fact that he had managed to get Draco imprisoned. He’s been threatening all the people you’ve written to, Miss Granger. He’s a bully and he forged their rejection letters.”

Hermione, Narcissa and Gabriella sat in stunned silence. Alex had taken the opportunity to slip out of Hermione’s slackened hold and was crawling on the floor at Narcissa’s feet. It took a while for all that Carmella had said to be processed by her mind and when it did the relief that had briefly washed over her was pushed away by rage. She could not believe that someone could be so vindictive to the point that they would wrongly and deliberately accuse someone of murder.

“How did you manage to come here, then? I thought you said he would kill you if you told anyone of his secret.” Gabriella asked, voicing Hermione’s thoughts. Her voice was shocked, low and dangerous.

“Death would be better than your conscience slowly eating away at you. I want Draco to be released. I see you have a beautiful son together,” she smiled at Alex, gripping the edge of the sofa and trying to stand on his feet.

“Carmella, you don’t have to be afraid of Paolo. We can go now to the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and would you be willing to tell him all that you have told us? Don’t worry, he’s my friend, he’s nice.” Hermione requested, her eyes pleading with Carmella. This was going to prove Draco’s innocence and he soon would be out of Azkaban…if she had the courage to tell.

“I’m sure he’s already found out what I’m up to and is taking every precaution to stop me, but yes, I will come with you,” Carmella said meekly.

“You don’t have to be afraid. We can protect you.” Hermione assured and quickly left to change into something. Her heart was beating wildly against her chest; she imagined all of Paris could hear it. Draco was going to be free! She was going to see him soon. She slipped into black trousers, an indigo blouse and pulled on her coat before rushing down to see that Gabriella and Carmella were ready and waiting for her. Narcissa had taken Alex into her arms and was beaming happily. She would see her son soon.

“Okay, ready?” she asked. The others nodded and she bid Narcissa goodbye and kissed Alex before disapparating to Ron’s office.

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A/N:It is with a heavy and relieved heart that I inform you that this is the penultimate chapter. Reviews are appreciated very much.


Chapter 27: Chapter Twenty seven
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“Hermione? What are you doing here?” Ron asked in disbelief as Hermione suddenly appeared in the middle of his office. Seconds later, Carmella and Gabriella arrived. He flinched, surprised. He had not seen Hermione for almost a year now and to have her apparate suddenly into his office, almost bouncing happily, was a great shock. The last time he had seen her, she was almost depressed.

“What’s the occasion?” He questioned and invited them to sit. His eyes lingered on Carmella particularly.

“Firstly, get some aurors to catch Paolo Parechi.” Hermione ordered.

“What? Why?” Ron asked sharply, utterly perplexed now.

“Just do it!”

“I need a reason, first. I can’t just do it.”

“Because he’s the one that murdered Carmella’s father,” Hermione explained and watched as Ron froze before sighing and he shook his head in disbelief.

“Hermione,” he began in a wary voice. “If this is the latest thing to prove Malfoy’s…”

“It’s not. Carmella, tell him.”

Carmella relived her story and shock and horror dawned on Ron’s face. He stood up abruptly and rushed out of his office for a while, gone to get some aurors before he returned. Hermione was feeling delightfully exultant and energized; she was only a short period away from seeing Draco again.

“We wait until he comes. If he doesn’t confess, we use veritaserum. It shouldn’t take them that long.” He said in a low voice, his eyes, still unable to believe what had happened. “This is going to make me a laughing stock. I can’t believe I got it so wrong.”

“Don’t worry, Ronald. We all make mistakes.” Gabriella said soothingly and he looked up at her and smiled weakly.

“Thanks,” he said meekly. “Congratulations by the way. Harry told me all about your engagement. He’s here somewhere, do you want me to call him?”

“Thank you. And yes, I’d love to see him.” Gabriella smiled, her eyes brightening at the sound of Harry’s name. Ron got his secretary to find Harry and soon, Harry was walking towards them. Gabriella kissed him in greeting and Hermione rushed up to hug him, almost yelling the good news.

“What? How did this happen?” he asked, his curiosity highly piqued. Deciding not to burden Carmella with having to relive her story once more, Hermione quickly explained with the help of Gabriella and Harry’s emerald eyes were wide by the time they were done.

“That was a pretty well thought out conspiracy,” he admitted. “I bet Ron’s kicking himself.”

Hermione turned to look at Ron and found him scowling to himself as he paced behind his desk. He was kicking himself: mentally. She left Harry and Gabriella and sat down in one of the comfortable leather chairs, her thought wandering out of the Ministry and to Azkaban. Did Draco know that within a few hours he would be free?

For almost two years, she had not seen him and it had been two years too long. Her eyes closed and she revived the last time she had seen him, being dragged away from her, his hands in manacles. It had been almost pitiful to see the Draco Malfoy, son of Lucius Malfoy, being dragged away reluctantly to Azkaban. And wrongly accused of murder at that. They waited. Every second that seemed to tick away felt like an hour to Hermione.

Ron got called away after sometime and his eyes widened and he grimaced as he read the owl that had been sent to him. “He’s put up a chase. The others are after him but he’s got some bloodthirsty vampire friends with him. I’ll have to go help the others. Harry, coming?”

Gabriella looked like she had every intention of telling Harry to keep his arse firmly seated, but she shook her head in a resigned sort of way before pulling his face to hers hungrily.

“Don’t get killed. We’re going to get married remember?” she muttered ruefully against his lips before she let him go, her fingers lingering on his hand. Hermione quickly wished them good luck and watched as they disapparated. Don’t get killed, her thoughts echoed Gabriella hollowly.

Hours passed by. How long they stayed sat in silence in Ron’s office, Hermione did not know. All she knew was that it was nearing midnight. Gabriella was nervously pacing the office, her eyes sparkling, on the verge of tears. Carmella was sat, almost immobile, in a corner of the office, her eyes hard and staring down at the floor. Hermione would have gone to try and calm Gabriella but she was feeling agitated herself and she feared that what comforting words should come out of her mouth might turn out to be untrue. In a moment of absolute lunacy, she wished she’d continued Divination.

What if Harry and Ron were killed? Would Paolo escape and come to find Carmella and kill her? Would he bring his bloodthirsty friends with him? Who would be here to let Draco free? She hated to dwell on the thought. A few minutes passed in silence and Hermione was surprised by the several ‘pops’ that broke the silence after a short while. She flinched and stood up to find the office filled with half a dozen aurors, all injured and supporting cuts and gashes but looking triumphant, their wands pointed to the centre of the office. In the middle of the office stood Harry and Ron, Paolo stood in between them, swearing fluently in Italian and snarling irately.

Carmella had risen to her feet tentatively and was staring at her cousin apprehensively. Paolo made to lunge out of Harry and Ron’s grasp towards her and she instinctively took a step back as Harry and Ron restrained him, their wands simultaneously pointing to his head.

“You don’t want to try anything you’ll regret, Mr Parechi. Any inappropriate behaviour here and you just might find yourself ready for a kiss from the Dementors. I’m sure they’d be happy to see you; they’ve been awfully hungry lately,” Ron hissed threateningly and Hermione finally saw him in his element. He was good at what he did…when he did it correctly.

Harry set him down in a chair before immobilizing him and he sat opposite him, his face hard. There were several cuts on his face and he was supporting a bleeding gash in his arm. Gabriella looked like she was restraining herself from rushing over to tend to his wounds.

“Mr Parechi, we expect you to cooperate, otherwise we’ll have to do this the hard way,” he said seriously. “We want the truthful answers from you. There is no use in lying. We’ll find out if you have been lying.”

Paolo’s immobile face was bitter and his eyes showed as he struggled against the charm but to an avail; he remained as still as a statue.

“There’s no use in resistance, Mr Parechi. That spell can only be revoked by the person that initiated it. I don’t have any intention of releasing you soon. Cooperation, Mr Parechi.” Harry reminded him grimly. When he put up no struggle, he continued.

“Good. Now there are a few questions we’d like you to answer. Can you do that?”

Paolo did not reply. His eyes flashed dangerously to Carmella, death spitting out from them before they scanned the room. His eyes landed on Hermione curiously before they narrowed into a glare.

“Okay,” Harry sighed. “Did you murder your late uncle, the previous Italian Minister for Magic, Francesco Parechi?” Harry asked in an official tone, starting with the easiest first.

Paolo did not reply. His dark, mud-brown eyes glared hatefully up at Harry, who didn’t look surprised by this reaction and proceeded to ask another question.

“Did you slip the poison into the medicinal potion Mr Malfoy regularly gave to your uncle?”

Harry seemed well informed of the story despite Hermione’s rushed explanation. Obviously, Ron must’ve filled him in. Paolo did not reply and his lips contorted before spilling out a profanity in Italian. Clearly, he wasn’t going to cooperate.

“Mace, get me some veritaserum.” Harry instructed lightly to a young, dark haired Auror. He nodded and left. Harry got up and briefly left Paolo to go and greet Gabriella and Ron sat down next to Hermione. They sat in silence for a while before he broke it softly.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, almost inaudibly.

“What?” Hermione breathed sharply.

“I’m sorry for…well, pretty much everything. I’m sorry I wrongly accused your…boyfriend…of murder. I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch with you as frequently as I should have. I’m sorry for not supporting you when you needed me. I’m sorry for not congratulating you on the birth of your son and I’m sorry I’ve been such a bloody useless friend.” He avoided her eyes.

Hermione was expecting all but an apology from Ron. Especially for all the things he’d mentioned. Her eyes wide, she turned to fully look at him and said in a low voice, “Ron, you’re my best friend, if anything was to happen to you, I think I’d go insane. You and Harry mean more to me than brothers. I can forgive all you’ve done.”

He looked up, his blue eyes wide and surprised, his expression innocently shocked. “Seriously, Hermione?”

She laughed quietly, unable to restrain herself. “Seriously. Now get back to your job.” She nodded at Mace who had come back, a small clear bottle in his hands. He handed it to Harry who moved back towards Paolo, his fingers pulling the wooden stopper from the neck of the bottle.

“Veritaserum, Mr Parechi. Three drops and we can have you spilling your innermost secrets. Now, I’ll give you one last chance or…” he swung the little bottle between his thumb and finger, wordlessly indicating what would happen. Paolo stared at the Veritaserum with great loathing and he remained silent, his lips firmly together in a hard, disapproving line. Evidently, he didn’t like the sound of Veritaserum, but the idea of cooperating clearly didn’t appeal much to him either.

“Very well, then,” Harry sighed and pulled out his wand. With a light flick of his wand, Paolo’s lips parted and he slipped three drops of the translucent potion onto the disgustingly moist, plum tongue. Paolo’s eyes went out of focus before they readjusted and all aversion was gone from them now. Simply submission remained.

Satisfied, Harry sat up straighter and began his interrogation. And to every single question, Paolo replied in a low, hollow tone.

“Did you murder you uncle?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to take up his position as Minister and because it also gave me a chance to frame that Draco Malfoy and imprison him.”

“How did you commit the murder?”

“I sneaked into Draco’s room and slipped a poison into the medicinal potion he always gave my uncle at dinner. Simple and cunning.”

And it had been simple and cunning, but the consequences of what had happened had been terrible, especially to the ones who had been affected by it. Harry had told him as much and he had shrugged, saying he didn’t care for other’s feelings.

“That’s good to know. I’m sure the Dementors will feel the same way about you,” Harry had said grimly, his tone sardonic. Harry finished interrogating him over an hour later before he turned to Hermione, a small, tired smile upon his features.

“We’re taking this filth to Azkaban, Hermione. And while we’re there, we’ll get Malfoy with us.”

Tears, warm, salty and happy, escaped her eyes and she flung her arms around a shocked and confused Harry. He had certainly not been expecting that reaction.

“Thank you,” she mumbled thickly into his shoulder and pulled away from him.

“No problem. Go back to the chateau and we’ll bring him back there. Gabriella, you go with Hermione. I’ll take you home when I’m done,” he yawned.

“Don’t be late.” Gabriella said, her hands reaching to tenderly stroke his cut before she kissed him lightly. He, Ron and the aurors left to take a portkey to Azkaban and Hermione, Gabriella and Carmella were left.

“I cannot thank you enough for your bravery to come and tell us. You have no idea how much it means to me,” Hermione gratified. Carmella smiled.

“Thank you too. Without your encouragement, I probably wouldn’t have come here and Paolo would still be at large. Please remain in touch, it’d be awfully good if you could tell me how you are doing every once in a while.” She said softly, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear.

“Of course. It was great meeting you.”

They shook hands and she disapparated. Hermione turned to Gabriella.

“We should head home and tell Narcissa the good news,” she smiled.

“We should. We should also get some sleep,” she yawned. They disapparated to the chateau and found the house quiet. Gabriella fell asleep on the sofa downstairs and Hermione went upstairs to check on Narcissa and Alex. Alex was fast asleep in his cot and Narcissa was gently sleeping in her room but she woke up with a start at hearing Hermione enter her room.

“Hermione? Is that you?” she asked, her voice sleep-worn.

“Yes,” Hermione replied softly into the dark.

“How did it go?” Narcissa asked curiously, all traces of sleep deserting her and she rushed to Hermione, pulling on a warm robe to keep herself from the bitter cold.

“They caught Paolo and they’ve gone to put him in Azkaban. They’re bringing Draco back with them.”

Narcissa could read the smile in Hermione’s voice like brail and she smiled too. She would finally see her son again. Finally embrace him like she’d used to do to him as a child. Finally have him safely with her. She’d be more than content soon enough.

“Go get some rest, Hermione.” She suggested to Hermione, but the brunette shook her head.

“No. I’m going to wait for him. I want to see him. I said I’d wait for him…” And she left Narcissa’s room and went downstairs. She walked out of the chateau and sat on the marble stairs that lead to the magnificent doors and waited. He’d be here soon enough. Soon…

Her eyelids were heavy but her heart felt giddy. She would finally see him again. She would see that straw-coloured hair of his, those mesmerizing silver eyes, that angular nose of his and those peachy lips. Those lips that drove her insane. Her eyes closed and she savoured the memory of the last time they’d come into contact with her skin. Almost two years ago…almost seven hundred and thirty days ago…a time too long and too painful… Cold, icy droplets of rain began to fall and she felt them fall sharply onto her face. She sat up and spread her arms wide and let the rain wash over her, washing away her pain with it. The rain became heavier and she stepped under the archway of the stairs leading to the doors, sheltering herself from the incessant, irate rain. The air was icy cold and the night was bitter but she did not care. She could feel nothing. Nothing but the anticipation of his arrival.

She waited. And waited. And waited. The rain had not ceased but she continued to wait on the steps and she got her reward. Through the sheets of rain pouring from the heaven above, she saw three blurred figures appear from nowhere and without thinking about it, she rushed down the steps and ran to them, her eyes set on the tall blonde on the right. She hit him forcefully and flung her arms around him, clinging on for dear life. Her tears fell heavily but it was hard to distinguish them amongst the rivulets of rain rolling down her face.

He did not pause to think and hugged her back tightly, lifting her to her feet and spinning her before his eyes. He had not seen her for a long time…too long a time. The other two stepped away, watching briefly before disappearing inside the chateau.

Draco looked down at her and sighed in peace. She had proved him innocent and she had earned his liberty and now, he wanted to spend the rest of it with her. He looked down at her and drank her in greedily. His memory had not done her justice; she looked far more beautiful than he had cared to remember. Her eyes were large and tearful, their astonishing hazel colour almost black in the dark of the morning, her nose so small and angular, her skin so smooth and her lips…so sensually full and soft. He wanted to kiss her. And so he did.

Cupping her cheek, he bought her lips to his in a heavenly, slow, loving kiss. He had forgotten what it was like to have her lips on his. Like velvet, smoothly gliding against his. A warm glow spread through his body at her touch and he withdrew slightly, his lips resting softly against hers.

“You came back,” she murmured against his lips.

“To you. I came back to you. Remember, ‘come back to me’?” he breathed, his lips moving to trail light kisses across her wet jaw before resting at her ear. He had not forgotten the location of her sensitive spot and he kissed gently, his lips sucking lightly at her sweet, wet skin.

“Draco,” she gasped in that voice he adored and he pulled her lips back against his, this time meeting in a greedy, fiery kiss. She responded to him, her lips moving furiously against his, her tongue clashing with his in a battle for dominance. Her hands held on to him for dear life, making sure that he was real, that this was no figment of her imagination. His hands ran wildly through her wet hair whilst hers played with the hairs on the back of his neck.

She pulled back, gasping for air and studied him closely. He hadn’t changed much. His hair had grown a lot and he had stubble but that was the only change about him. His eyes were still silver and mesmerizing, his lips smooth and peachy, his skin still chalky pale and a mischievous glint was still shimmering, though faintly, in his eyes.

“I missed you,” she breathed sincerely into his ear, burying her face in his neck and inhaling deeply, the scent making her light-headed.

“I missed you too,” he replied quietly over the din of the rain and pulled her in for a soft, slow, tender
Kiss, much unlike their previous heated one. A lot of emotions went into this kiss wordlessly: Longing, guilt, grief, happiness but above all, love was the main element. She sighed into his mouth, knowing that he was here now and that he would not be taken away from her again.

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A/N: Finito. Hope you all enjoyed.



Author Acknowledgements

Just a few people to thank: Melissa, Parise, Janelle, turtle, Zaineb and the lovely Daisy. And just thought I should tell you what happens to Jasper.

Jasper: Well, he obviously lived in Cannes. In my head, he obviously meets me there and we have a whirlwind Romance before getting hitched in Vegas and then going to live in Auckland. But honestly, I think I might’ve thought him gay at one time coz he was way too hot to be straight. But no, we are currently living in Auckland by the harbour and beaches (in my head).

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter characters are copyright to JK Rowling, many parts of the story, some of the plot belong to Melissa D, who wrote . I merely wished to take a different interpretation on the story.
=)




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