At the Gryffindor table
"Look at her—"
"She's been smiling that way for the past week," Ginny finished Harry's sentence for him as they both stared at Hermione approaching the table with a tall and pale Slytherin linked to her arm. The two were laughing lightly to themselves, a smile plastered on both their faces that was so odd like the air around them seemed to have been breezy and easy.
Ginny smirked at the two while Harry glared discretely. (Oh, the boy and his protect-your-friends-from-the-enemy-or-any-boy ways. But it really wasn't like Hermione had a choice, right? The marriage law screwed many in the process, just like whoever was marrying Goyle.)
"Oi, there you are, 'Mione!" Ginny said loudly, reaching her left arm up high and waving it dramatically like she hadn't seen the girl in ages.
Hermione's brown eyes opened slightly as she noticed Ginny, dropping the laughter instantly like if she'd been caught in something forbidden and was now suddenly ashamed. "I'll just…" She cleared her throat, not finishing the awkward sentence.
"Hello, Weasley, Potter." Draco Malfoy nodded slightly, trying to courteously notice Ginny and Harry's presence and stopp Hermione's awkward goodbye in the process.
Ginny continued to smirk as she lowered her arm, her eyes landing on the Slytherin with an over-the-top smile. "Malfoy, having a good day so far?" She asked as her boyfriend mumbled a 'Hello'.
"Nothing that I can complain about, Weasley," Malfoy replied politely as he helped Hermione onto the bench; unlinking his arm from hers. "How about yours?" He asked without actually caring, but he knew every point counted with his fiancée.
"It's been charming," Ginny answered, lacing her slender fingers with Harry's left ones; clasping their hands tightly. And then, almost too directly, she lifted their hands onto the table and exposed them to Malfoy and Hermione.
"Ginny," Hermione breathed, noticing her pale hand over Harry's, "you've got a ring!" The brunette exclaimed happily as she ripped Ginny's hand away from her future-husband . "It's beautiful." She eyed the diamond on the golden band with a sincere expression on her face. It was quite perfect. Simple, but dazzling. Just like the relationship Harry and Ginny seemed to have. "Oh, Harry, when did you give it to her?"
"This morning." Harry blushed unwillingly for a second, but then wiped it away as Malfoy looked down at the ring. He didn't quite picture the day he would tell his best friends that he was marrying Ginny with Malfoy present, or around at all for that matter. (Well, not if he wasn't serving drinks in the back, but that was Harry's idea of revenge three years ago.) "I had Andromeda select it seeing as I didn't want Mrs. Weasley to actually swoon over our engagement until the Holidays."
"And there'll be plenty of that," Ginny huffed.
"Andromeda has excellent taste." Hermione let the redhead's arm go. "It's like she knew exactly what you'd like, Gin. "
Ginny grinned in gratitude, but her eyes stared at her ring lovingly. She was trying to push off some of the emotion she felt when Harry slipped it on that had stuck with her all day, but she couldn't, could she? She was tougher than this and surely Ginevra Weasley couldn't be going soft, right? Right. (But then again, she had been daydreaming about that moment since she first met him.)
"Actually, I think Andromeda chose it perfectly for Harry's liking. We spent practically all summer with her and little Teddy, arranging the Black house for her, that she grew so fond of Harry." She patted Harry's hand, smiling softly. "I reckon she thought that if Harry loved it, I would too."
Thinking back to the deceased Nymphadora Tonks, grandmother to little Teddy Lupin, Hermione couldn't help herself and smiled. "She's such a lovely woman, even through what's happened to her." And then a sad thought entered her head: death. Mrs. Tonks was the victim of death who'd come and taken her husband, her daughter, and her son-in-law. "All she has is Teddy—and you too, of course, Harry. Not to mention the Weasleys. There's no doubt why she's so fond of you."
Draco watched with irritated gray eyes as the three Gryffindors talked about Andromeda Tonks; one of his mother's oldest sisters. She was a woman that'd been disowned by every member of the most ancient and noble family of Black when she was young. She was despised for marrying a Muggle-Born, for abandoning her family, for betraying her pureblooded legacy, and was never heard from again. She was secluded and blasted off of the Black Family Tree—literally.
And not to help matters, he couldn't stand the flicker of something as Granger kept complimenting Boy Wonder like he was the holiest thing she'd ever laid eyes upon. Had she no decency? His future wife was present and she continued to swoon over him.
"I should get going," Malfoy said with a clear of his throat.
"Nonsense, Malfoy." Ginny shook her fiery hair, interrupting the Slytherin as her smirk came back to play on her freckly-face. "You don't have to go anywhere."
"He doesn't?" Hermione and Harry asked in unison, both looking at the redhead with confused expressions and questioning stares.
Ignoring her friend's wide eyes, Ginny kept her too innocent smile on the Slytherin. "You'll be marrying 'Mione soon and it's about time you two actually socialize together, not just when you are all alone in the chamber. Which, if I might say, I've my doubts about. I have a wager with Luna that the two of you've blown up the walls by now."
"—When the bloody hell did she get all understanding?" Dean Thomas sat himself on the left side of Hermione, noticing Malfoy's hesitant figure sitting himself down on her other side. "She was never like this when we were dating. It was always, 'You pushed me Dean! I know you did!' Bloody girl's a menace, I'm telling you."
Harry and Hermione shared a knowing stare, both of them laughing silently.
"Where'd you leave Luna?" Ginny asked, frowning at the dark boy.
Dean shrugged. "…She's probably out prancing around, I expect. She keeps disappearing on me before I could actually talk to her. The only times we seem to be having a conversation is in those ruddy classes. And honestly, I prefer if she didn't talk to me at all if she's being forced to it." His face turned back to the miserable expression he'd been wearing for the past week.
Hermione patted his shoulder soothingly before her arm wrapped around it. "Don't worry, Dean, you know Luna will come around. I just...I assume that she can't get her head wrapped around this, you know. It's been tough on most of us, I can imagine how she feels."
Though he felt that stupid and unorthodox displeasure for Granger's obvious liking in comforting others, Draco couldn't help himself but stare at the brunette with a shine to his eyes. A warmness seemed to have spread in his conscience as he notice that nobility that defined her.
Could he be growing fond of her?
No. No. No. He wasn't. (Keep focus, Draco. You start thinking like a lunatic and it's straight to St. Mungo's for you, he thought this himself sternly.)
And although he debated with himself, he couldn't help but realize that the past week had actually been alright. Not the best of his life, mind you, but not the worst either.
Draco turned to see Ginny nodding in agreement with the brunette's words. "Luna used to talk about traveling the world, Dean. During the summer we'd have sleepovers and we would spend all night talking about what we wanted to do. She never expected that before she could even graduate Hogwarts she'll be tied down to someone and all those dreams to have been ruined."
At the words of Ginny Weasley, Draco and Harry both breathed in through their teeth, wincing at the words, and shaking their heads. They looked at each other having heard the others reaction and exchanged a small smirk.
"What?" Both girls asked as they looked at their respective fiancées.
Malfoy cleared his throat and leaned closer to the Gryffindor tabletop to speak directly to the redheaded witch. "Did you not hear what you just said, Weasley?"
"You made it sound awful, Gin," Harry added before Ginny could get into a row with Malfoy over the words that left her lips. "You and Hermione practically told Dean that he ruined Luna's life."
"And you're supposed to be sensitive?" Malfoy grunted, shaking his blonde hair at Hermione. "You crushed the bloke - Look at him!" He pointed a finger at Dean's face.
The Gryffindor sat there, his eyes slightly wide, glistening, and with his jaw dropped. He appeared to be in a state of shock, like someone had just told him his beloved had died.
"I - we - Dean - It wasn't meant like - Dean!" Hermione spluttered as the dark-skinned wizard jumped from the bench and stalked away in misery and a hurry as he ignored her "…Merlin," Hermione groaned, still looking after Dean's leaving figure.
"Honestly," Ginny scoffed, her eyes glaring at Harry and Draco. "I don't know why you two spent all these years hating each other, you make a bloody wicked team."
Both wizards turned away from each other, feeling uncomfortable by the redhead's words.
"I doubt he'll forgive us anytime soon, Ginny." Hermione sighed in defeat as she turned her head back to the couple in front of her. "I think we really messed this one up."
"Do you actually suppose," Malfoy spoke up, trying to rid his fiancée from the guilt and the torture he would be sucked into if the witches began to talk about feelings and emotions, "that the Lovegood girl actually hates him?"
Hermione shook her head tiredly. "She's just overwhelmed."
"Not to mention that our Luna does not hate," Ginny chirped as she adjusted her ring. "My guess is with Hermione too. Luna might just be feeling overwhelmed. Marriage was something shoved in the back of her brilliant head and now it's a frightening reality."
"Well, Merlin, Gin. Didn't know you were so terrified of joining your soul with mine." Harry stared at her teasingly, chuckling. "We could cancel the wedding if you wish. I hear Romilda Vane isn't happy with her pairing. Who'd she get, anyway? Oh yeah," Harry snapped his fingers, leering at his girlfriend, "Cormac McLaggen. And if I can say so myself, I'm better than that git."
Ginny scowled and then turned to punch him on the arm. "Prat."
"Oi!" Harry flinched. "That hurt! The ring's on that hand!"
"Tell Romilda to sooth it!" Ginny punched again.
"And that is why—" Ron appeared out of nowhere, making himself noticed as he joined the table and seated himself on Harry's side. His big hands were carrying a plate of food, packed until a bit of mash-potatoes dripped from the ends. "You should be happy, Malfoy, that Hermione was raised without brothers." Ron scooped a spoon-full of potatoes and shoved it into his mouth; grinning widely at Hermione and his nemesis.
The other four students exchanged glances.
"Um...why are you looking at me like that?" Ron asked as he swallowed, grabbing a goblet of Pumpkin Juice from the front of his sister's plate.
"Well, for starters, we haven't seen you all this week," Hermione began, raising her eyebrow as she tossed her redheaded friend a napkin. "You don't appear in your usual ghoul-ish mood and you just addressed Malfoy like he was your best mate."
"I can continue hating him, if you like," Ron suggested before taking a swig of his juice. "I'm trying to cooperate in this mess, just like you asked that day in the library, but if you'd like I can hex him right here if it makes things feel normal for you, 'Mione."
Draco glared. "Don't consider yourself so talented, Weasel."
"Okay. Okay." Hermione wrapped her fingers around Draco's arm to restrain him from reaching for his wand and starting something that would end badly for one of the two. "Ron, did you take some of that plant Neville's been growing for the past year? He told you it was experimental and for the use of Herbology only, not for you to intake"
"Oh, wicked. So now we're having our meals with the Gryffindors?" A plate-set was dropped onto the Gryffindor table. "Brilliant. Didn't know this was allowed, but does it actually matter?" Blaise Zabini grinned at all of them as Goyle took a seat next to him; both of them waving at the staring faces of the Gryffindors and at the annoyed look on their fellow Slytherin's face. "We are making history here. I feel revolutionary. Don't you, Greg?" Blaise continued to speak, as he took a biscuit from Ginny's plate.
"What in Merlin's great, big saggy—"
"Zabini," Hermione huffed, interrupting Ron's curse of the greatest wizard known, "if you're going to be sitting in another house-table that isn't yours, shouldn't it be the Ravenclaw one?"
The Slytherin shook his head. "Cho doesn't like me around when she eats."
"Already in first-name bases?"
"They sort of are obligated after she watched him sob hysterically," Malfoy answered Ginny. "I do believe she had to make him a cup of hot tea, wrap a blanket around him, and hum him to sleep." He snickered along with Goyle, Potter and the Weasel.
Blaise's emerald eyes glared. "I wasn't sobbing, Malfoy." He pointed his knife that he'd been using to cut his steak at his best mate. "Your woman," Hermione blushed at his choice of words; Ron and Harry frowned, "made me that cup of tea, and I was cold, you prat!"
"How'd you explain the humming then, mate?" Malfoy smirked deeper.
"The bloke died, Malfoy!" Blaise slammed his silverware down. "Frozen! To save the life of his beloved! If that can't make you cry, then you're an insensitive bastard!"
Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm never inviting you to see a muggle-movie ever again. You're embarrassing and I can't be seen with you when you react in that manner."
"Don't worry about it, Zabini." Hermione leaned forward and smiled at the angry-faced Slytherin. "Girls like some of that sensitivity and romanticism. I expect Cho was rather pleased to find that in you. Most of the lot she dated were jerks."
"Oi!" Harry frowned. "I was not a—"
"Shut it!" And again, Ginny punched her fiancée on the arm.
"There you are!" Another plate was dropped on the table. A tall, pale, dark-haired Slytherin witch arrived with an irritated look on her pug face. "I was sitting on my own for twenty minutes wondering where my mates had wandered off to when, can you believe it, they were behind me in the Gryffindor table!" Pansy Parkinson glared at the three Slytherins. "Do you know how much of Millicent's rubbish I had to endure? The witch couldn't shut her trap about Macmillan." She reached for Harry's goblet and took a swig from it; her face turning less red as she drank. "Does it look like," she handed Harry the goblet back, "I care if she finds the Hufflepuff sweet?"
Chuckling as he could see Pansy growing angrier and angrier as Millicent Bullstrode swooned over her little Hufflepuff, Draco said, "never been one for the love-thing, have you, Pans?"
Not answering him, Pansy settled and making a crude gesture at him and then turning to Ron. "Hello," she greeted in a tone that contrasted the mood she'd approached with. Ron looked up from his now empty plate and her dark eyes glittered. "Full already, darling?"
Ron nodded once like a trained puppy and stretched a little from the bench and he pressed his lips softly on Pansy's. There was a smile on his face and his blue eyes glittered the same way the girl's had.
"Ron!" Ginny hissed as she leaned over Harry's head—which he'd dropped on the tabletop, groaning about what he had just seen—and smacked her brother beside the head. "You drank all my Pumpkin Juice, you prat!"
Smiling thankfully that his sister had completely ignored the fact that he'd just kissed Pansy and he was blushing, Ron happily refilled her goblet and handed it back to her. And as he did so, he noticed Zabini was the one who was still gaping. "What?"
"What?" Blaise repeated "That's just wrong, that's what!"
Pansy rolled her eyes, no blush on her face because she thought nothing of her action. "Come off it, Zabini, I saw what you did to Daphne Greengrass our Sixth Year. You shouldn't have any complaints because Ron and I simply kiss."
"That—" Blaise dropped his accusing finger. "You said you wouldn't say anything!"
"Obviously it was a lie." Draco laughed, half-smirking at Parkinson. (He didn't want to admit it, but he felt a genuine feeling for how bright her face was glowing. Something he'd never seen on her before, though he couldn't deny he felt a bit sickened that it was because of the Weasel King.) "You seem to be forgetting that we don't keep promises."
"Some of us actually do, Drake." Pansy stuck out her tongue at him and clasped her hand with Ron's. "Well, the ones that are actually important to us, that is." She leaned to her right and pressed her lips to Ron's again.
"Okay, okay, I can't." Hermione stood from the table as Draco pulled her forward; both of them standing up quickly, not wanting to witness that atrocity again.
"Too much of that and I wont be sleeping at night." Draco gagged as he pulled himself out of the Gryffindor bench, his fiancée copying his actions. "Have a pleasant night." He inclined his head to all of them and hurried away.
Hermione, following Malfoy's pursuit, watched his face with curious eyes as they rushed away like if the castle was on fire and it was their fault. He had a pink tint to his cheeks and a nervous look on his gray eyes. "Are you alright?" She asked him, her gaze moving away from the Slytherin's face and onto their hands.
He was holding her hand, fingers intertwined with hers and clutching tightly like he had no intention of letting go.
Draco cleared his throat. "Of course."
"Then why do you look all flustered, Malfoy?"
"Don't you have an Astronomy lesson to get to?" He snapped automatically.
Hermione frowned at his mood change, throwing off his hand from hers in the process. "Go to hell, Malfoy," she hissed at him, leaving him behind as she stalked faster.
Draco groaned internally as he stopped for a second, his blood rushing heavily through his body. "Granger!" He ran a couple of steps and reached for her arm; spinning her around swiftly and her body pressing up onto his instantly.
There was a silence, but their breathing was heard from each other at their close contact.
Draco swallowed the moment, clearing his throat as he watched her big, brown eyes blink at him with a bit of surprise. "...Have a great lesson. I'll wait for you in the chamber." And as his brain rushed with every blink her eyes gave, he decided to take action and he pressed his lips on the pale surface of her cheek; softly, but igniting the redness from them.
Hermione bit her lip, she could feel her heart give a strange beat. "…Goodbye," she murmured and spun slowly from him to head towards the grounds with a feeling that made her dizzy.
"Goodbye," Malfoy repeated after the Gryffindor, a deep smirk on his face as she watched her stumble her way out of the doors of the castle. "This is going to be much easier than I thought," he said to himself as the ideas and formulated plans invaded his head.
He was going to win this, he knew. She didn't stand a chance.
AN: It's March 16th 2012 and I'm still in the middle of re-editing this story for all of you. I hope that so far you're liking the changes, if you're reading, and if you're new, I hope you power through it lol.
Also, I should clear up that every time I write something in between (parenthesis) it isn't an AN. It's just a part of story, like a side comment that character thought.
But, alas, good day to you all! (: