~ Chapter Eighteen ~
Another day, another party. Normally I didn't really enjoy them, but I had something to look forward too and my mum was counting on me to help get her robes noticed. I'd already made progress on that front when Witch Weekly came out and called my robe "The most inspired design seen in a long time". It didn't mention my name, but the article said it was from a new designer you could only get with Madam Malkins.
Mum and I would chose my robe with extra care. There to be a "Belle of the Ball" who would get her photo taken for both The Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly which would really help her, and I had received an owl two days ago from my Wolfy Wizard.
I long to see you again, I haven't stopped thinking of you since we met. I'll be waiting for a dance with you at the Ministry New Years Eve Ball. Please wear this late Christmas gift from me so that I may recognise you.
Yours most affectionately,
Enclosed with the letter was a stunning pair of diamond earrings. Mum and Ginny had both gasped when they saw them.
"Whoever he is, he must be rich, earrings like that aren't cheap."
"I wouldn't care if he was homeless Ginny; you know galleons don't impress me. If he had sent a flower or a hair clip or a ribbon I'd feel the same as I do now. It’s the thought of sending a gift to recognise me I like, not the gift itself."
"Yeah, but the fact that they're diamonds doesn't hurt either."
I threw the earring box at her and hit her on the shoulder.
"Enough playing around you two lets pick your robes."
We followed mum into her bedroom where she had wheeled in her rack of complete robes.
"Ginny let’s start with you. I was thinking this one and maybe wear your hair loose, parted to one side and wavy." Mum said as she held out an aqua strapless silk robe with ruching on the bust with the top and bottom of the ruching lined in diamantes. "It will go perfect with that necklace Harry gave you for Christmas."
Ginny tried it on in the bathroom and came out looking amazing.
"Perfect. Now be careful dear as it has a slight train and it’s the only one I have, so you'll need to be mindful of everyone around you. "
"I will, Mrs Granger. Thank you so much for lending me a robe."
"It’s nothing dear. Just let me know how it feels, you know after eating and dancing. Think of it as doing me a favour. Now as for you Hermione..... What about this?" She held up a black strapless robe with gold embroidery over the bust, narrowing until it reached the waist, before continuing in an interesting pattern down to the hem.
"No, I couldn't! It’s so beautiful."
"That’s exactly why you should, dear. It will go great with those earrings and if we pull your hair back and clip the underside like this... Perfect."
"Wow." I'd only ever felt this beautiful twice before, once at the Yule Ball, the other at the Weasley Ball.
"Now get ready girls, you only have an hour before you need to apperate."
One hour and twelve minutes later I was standing in the midst of the "Annual Ministry New Years Eve Party". Ginny had met up with Harry and now they were talking together at a table. Knowing how delicate their relationship was, I decided to leave them and get a drink.
As I sipped my glass of champagne, my eyes carefully searched the room for any sign of my dream wizard.
"Looking for someone?" a cool voice drawled behind me.
"Maybe. What's it to you, Malfoy?"
"Nothing, just a smart wizard wouldn't keep you waiting."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
Just at that moment the band struck up and Malfoy bowed before me, kissing my hand.
"May I have this dance?"
"But... I ... um... ok"
Damn it! Why did I say yes when I meant "no"?
He took my hand in his and gently led me to the dance floor. He held my hand firmly in his and placed his other hand in the small of my back. I gasped at the suddenness and the obvious strength in his touch and felt my body break into goose bumps.
We started dancing and I found myself pleasantly surprised at how easy we moved together. Draco lead me well with clear direction but wasn't forceful, he was very subtle with his signals. I was looking into his face and getting a bit sidetracked by his unusual silver eyes, their gaze never leaving mine.
Draco twirled me, pulling me closer as I turned to face him, torsos touching. I could feel his body pressing against mine, and it made me feel odd. It all felt so familiar somehow, like we had done this before. I breathed in the scent of his aftershave.
He wears the same aftershave my dream wizard wears. I thought idly. I wonder where my dream wizard is?
I felt Draco move his hands and the softness of his breath in my ear as he whispered "Can you do a dip if I lead you?"
I nodded. Draco twirled me out again before pulling me up next to him and twisting my body down and around. I was supported by both our arms and his right leg where the small of my back rested. He lifted me out of the dip, and it was then I became aware that the whole crowd was applauding and the song had ended.
Leading me off the floor, Malfoy looked down and me smiling. “Thank you for the dance, Hermione." He leant closer to me and I thought he was about kiss my cheek when Pansy caught his elbow from behind and swung him so he faced her, stealing his kiss and claiming it with her lips.
"Draco, how happy I am to see you! Your Mother told me you were both coming, and that you were taking her as your date, but she promised to save all your dances for me." She said pointedly but otherwise showed no sign of acknowledging me at all. "Shall we?"
"Actually Pansy I'm rather danced out at the moment. I'm just going to get a drink and check that my Mother is having a good time."
"Oh Draco, that’s so sweet of you! Let me join you."
"If you must. See if you can find my mother while I get some drinks. Nice earrings by the way Hermione."
Draco turned away from us and headed towards the crowded drinks table. Waiting until he was out of earshot Pansy turned the full force of her unpleasantness on me.
"I thought I made it clear: Stay away from Draco Malfoy!"
"Oh I am. It seems clear he can't stay away from me."
"You lie, mud-blood. What would he see in someone like you?"
"More than he sees in you it would appear."
"You listen here mud - blood. I am a pureblood from a respectable, wealthy Wizarding family. You are nothing. No money, no ancestry. You are nothing. Consider this your last warning. If I catch you trying anything with Draco Malfoy..... I'll find out just how filthy your blood is."
Turning away quickly, she soon disappeared from sight. I wasn't alone for long as many witches and wizards came up to congratulate me for my dancing, compliment my dress and earrings and talk to me about what they needed to do to be compliant with the new House Elf Rights Act that was being debated.
When I finally finished with them, I found my way to the table with my place card. On my plate was a folded note:
My Bewitching Butterfly
Meet me in the chamber, third on the left in the hallway at 9 o'clock. I'll be waiting.
Looking at the clock above the band stage I saw it was eight thirty. Half an hour I thought nervously and I couldn't wait.
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