Here we are
The crowd instantly fell silent as heads turned towards the direction that their Head Master pointed at. After a couple of seconds, applause commenced as the crowd started to part like the red sea, giving Hermione a first glimpse of Draco Malfoy for the first time in four years.
Draco smiled at Albus graciously, raising his champagne flute as a sign of acknowledgement and respect.
"Now that everyone has been reacquainted, I urge you all to don your mask so we can commence with tonight's festivities. I bid you all a Happy Christmas and may you all have fun." Albus said before disapparating on the spot with flourish.
The crowd started clapping again, but Hermione didn't seem to hear a thing. She stood rooted on the ground, staring unseeingly at the throng of people walking around the hall.
Blaise just charmed his mask on when he noticed his date zoning out, "Are you okay?" he asked.
She swallowed thickly, "Y - yes," she paused to look at him. "Why are you wearing your mask?"
"Dumbledore just asked us to start wearing it," Blaise replied. He then pulled a small button from his pocket and transfigured it back to a mask, "Here you go," he said.
"Okay," she replied. She accepted the mask from him and gently pressed it to her face, activating the sticking charm with skin contact.
"Still lovely as ever," Blaise said.
"Err - thanks, you too," she replied absentmindedly. Her eyes then made an involuntary quick sweep through the crowd, looking for Draco's familiar face.
Blaise seemed oblivious with her internal struggle, "Dumbledore went all out for this, I don't know how he managed to convince Draco to come," he said. When he didn't receive an immediate response, he turned his face towards her, his brows furrowed. "Hermione, are you really feeling well?"
Her head snapped back to face him, "Y - yes, I'm okay," she stuttered.
He lifted his hand to cup her face, "Are you sure? You look a little pale," he said with concern.
She placed her hand on top of his, "I'm good, just a little bit overwhelmed with the crowd, I guess," she lied. She squeezed his hand and gently pulled it off her face, "You're right, Dumbledore went all out - everything looks stunning."
Blaise smiled as he laced their fingers together, "I'm really glad you're here."
She felt a familiar tingling on her spine, compelling her to turn around. Before her brain can catch up with her body, she found herself looking at the eyes she dreamed of seeing for years.
Draco's heart is hammering inside his chest, making beads of sweat pool on top his upper lips. When he first caught sight of her, he had to do a double take, to make sure it was really her - she looked really different tonight. The old Hermione wouldn't have dared to wear such revealing gown, but based on how she carried herself, he could safely say that a lot have changed. He swallowed thickly as he continued to study her appearance; the emerald silk gown she wore clung to her curves like second skin, emphasizing her best features. Yes, there is a lot of skin exposed from the low cowl neckline and the thin criss-crossed strap at the back that held the dress, but she still managed to make it look classy rather than indecent. Even the high slit on her thigh that showcased her alabaster leg didn't even make her look slutty, "Merlin, those legs - they look like they'd go on forever!" he thought.
"You might want to close your mouth; you're about ready to drool on your tuxedo."
He closed his mouth with a loud click, making him wince. He took a moment to gather his bearings before he turned towards Luci, "I don't know what you're talking about," he said coolly.
Luci lifted her hand and poked his flushed cheek, "Are you saying that this is a result of an allergic reaction?" she mused.
"I'm not blushing!" he hissed lowly.
Luci let her hand drop as giggles escaped her lips, "Well, I can't really blame you - she is a sight for sore eyes," she said.
He smiled smugly, "I have impeccable taste, you should've expected that already."
Luci subtly gestured towards Blaise, "Who is he?"
"Blaise Zabini," he said through gritted teeth.
"They seem a little bit close, don't you think?" Luci goaded.
He felt a wave of anger and betrayal surge into his gut, "He's courting her," he replied curtly.
"And what do you think about that? Are you just going to let him steal the woman you're in love with, dear cousin?" Luci whispered.
"Over my dead body," he replied. He then turned his gaze back to the couple, his eyes instantly locking with the familiar amber eyes he missed.
"Breathe," Hermione mentally reminded herself. She didn't take her eyes off him as she forced her lungs to function again.
"A blonde bombshell that screams French - looks like he still goes for the same type."
"His date," Blaise clarified.
She felt like she's been doused with cold water, making her more aware of the woman standing closely to Draco. Irrational anger burst through the pit of her stomach, "So that's the reason why he's smiling like a loon, the bloody arse is showing off his French delight!" she thought. Her whole stiffened with the realization, "Yes, must be his new Pureblooded girlfriend. She's pretty - good for him," she said curtly. She then grabbed Blaise hand and hastily turned her back to the view, "Let's go."
"You're not pulling me into a cupboard to snog me for old time sake, are you?" Blaise joked while wiggling his brows suggestively.
She let out a chuckle, but it she knew it sounded fake, "Have you already forgotten Harry's threats?" she joked back.
"I'll take rain check on the snog, let's just get something to drink," Blaise said with a wince.
"Thought so," she said. She then squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, "You won't ruin your night over this. If he's having fun, so should you," she thought.
The night passed by smoothly and Hermione could say that she started enjoying the festivities once she pushed Draco's presence at the back of her mind. Almost all of her old housemates made it and she was given the chance to catch up with the latest gossips. Like, Luna was now married to Neville and they're expecting their first born son. Padma got engaged with Dean last month while Parvati remained single and continued to devote all of her time to her newest business venture - Gladrags.
She lifted her gaze and saw her date standing right in front of her, "Yes?" she asked.
"May I have this dance, bella?" he crooned with a small smile.
Cat calls and wolf whistles instantly floated around the table, telling her that most of her friends heard Blaise's words. Her face felt hot with embarrassment, but she brushed it off with a smile.
"Go on, don't make the poor man wait," Ginny encouraged.
He held his hand out and bowed like a true gentleman, making her friends cheer louder.
"Hush, all of you!" she good-naturedly chided. She placed her hand on his and let him pull her up, "You're really good at this," she said.
"Like what I've said, I know what I want," he replied as he led her towards the dance floor.
An uncomfortable feeling sunk at her gut, making her feel a little queasy, "Oh, okay," she replied.
He wrapped his arms around her for the second time, "Are you enjoying yourself?" he asked.
"Yes, I've missed them all."
He nodded approvingly as he swayed them side by side, "You've always been beautiful, but tonight, you're exceptional - I hope you know that," he said off-handedly.
She noticed the shift in his eyes as he continued to stare at her, "Are you hitting on me?" she joked.
He cracked a grin, "If it's working, then yes, I'm definitely hitting on you," he winked.
She couldn't help it; she bowed her head and started to giggle.
He wrapped his arms tighter and pulled her closer, "But kidding aside, Mione. You're really stunning, love," he whispered huskily.
She lifted her face and met his gaze, "Thank you," she replied shyly.
He just smiled at her and continued navigating the floor with grace and ease.
After a few minutes of mindless dancing, she squeezed his shoulder to get his attention. "Blaise?"
"Why me?" she asked the question she's been wanting to ask for months.
He didn't seem surprised by it, "Because you're beauty is not only superficial, but also skin deep. Your compassion for other people and the lengths you would go for those you love - you have a big heart, Hermione, and that draws me to you," he replied.
She felt the sincerity in his voice, making her heart flutter with delight inside her chest. She moved her face closer and rested her cheek on his shoulder, "Thank you for saying that," she mumbled.
He pressed his cheek to her head, "You're welcome."
From another side of the room, stormy grey eyes burning with anger and envy watched the couple's every move. Draco held his goblet in a vice grip, his jaw clenched tightly that he's sure his molars are about to crack at any moment.
Luci let out an annoyed sigh and unceremoniously snatched the goblet off his hand, "If you came here to drink and sulk then you shouldn't have brought me here," she whispered.
He threw her an irate look, "I'm not sulking and give that back!"
She placed the goblet of his reach as she narrowed her eyes into slits, "Drinking would not make that Italian stallion disappear so lay off of it."
"Italian stallion?" he huffed with disgust. He then sat straighter and folded his arms on top of his chest, "Do you like him too?" he asked petulantly.
She threw him an annoyed look as she gracefully stood up, "Get your arse up or I'll hex your bollocks off!" she threatened. "Why do I always have to be the one that thinks? Merde, that's what brains are for!" she exclaimed dramatically.
"I don't want to, I'm staying right here."
She snapped her eyes close and took a deep calming breath. After a few seconds, she stood right in front of him and leaned forward. "You brought me here to help you so that's what I'm doing. Now, before I completely lose it - I suggest you get your sulking arse off of that chair and follow everything I say, understand?"
"Help me? In what-"
She didn't let him finish, she subtly grabbed his arm and sank her nails on his tender flesh.
"Ouch!" he yelped as he shot out of his seat. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he whispered angrily.
She ignored his question and began dragging him towards the dance floor, "Trust me on this, I know what I'm doing," she whispered.
He eyed her skeptically, but he let her lead him.
She stopped a couple of feet away from the couple before wrapping her arms around his neck, "Put your arms around me and look happy," she ordered.
He wiped the scowl out of his face and forced his body to relax, "Okay," he replied.
"We step in and the crowd suddenly decided to sit down - perfect."
He did a quick sweep of the floor, "Looks like it," he said with a little amusement.
"I'm about to do something I loathe doing so you'll owe me big for this," she said cryptically.
She pulled her other hand from his neck and flicked her fingers three times. The music stopped for second and was instantly replaced by a familiar piece that she knew they both know very well.
His eyes widened in surprise, "Is that - what on earth are you doing?" he asked.
"We're dancing," she said as she gracefully took the traditional waltzing pose.
He heard the crowd go silent, "You sure about this?" he asked as he took his dancing pose.
"I hate seeing you like that so I'm doing this for you," she replied softly. She then tilted her chin like she was taught and started to move gracefully with the music.
"Like old times, huh?" he asked with a large grin.
Luci smiled at him brightly, "Like old times, let's show them what we've got," she winked.
Hermione stopped dancing when she noticed that the music changed. She moved her eyes towards the only couple sharing the floor with them and she felt her eyes almost bulge out of its sockets.
"Show off," Blaise said as he eyed the pair.
She swallowed the lump that began to form inside her throat, "I - I think we should sit down," she stuttered, trying to keep her feelings out of her voice.
He shook his head, "No, we're not going anywhere, we'll show them who's the better dancer," he said, his eyes brighter than the usual.
"But I'm not versed with the waltz; I'm going to make you look bad!"
He tightened his hold on her and gently put her into the right position, "Don't worry, love, I've got this - I've got you."
She threw him a worried look, "Are you sure? I mean, I'm quite sure those two have danced this million of times. I don't want to make you look bad."
"You'll never make me look bad," he said seriously. He then smiled at her reassuringly, "I'm as good as Draco so you don't have to worry about anything."
"Okay," she replied.
He lifted their clasped hands and started leading her into intricate steps.
After a few spins and twirls, she managed to catch up. Her body started to relax with the rhythm, making her more at ease with every glide. "The ferret's girlfriend can really dance, huh? Must be her pureblood upbringing," she said as she saw the couple do a complicated move.
He nodded, "They do look good together, I'm happy for them."
Her foot got caught with his, making her stumble. "Sorry!" she yelped.
"I've got you," he replied as he pulled her to his chest, completely oblivious to her dampening mood.
She forced herself to tear her eyes off the happy couple, "Yeah, thanks," she replied somberly.
Draco pulled Luci to his chest just as the music stopped. His lips curled into a large grin when he heard the entire hall boom with claps and hollers.
"Aunt Cissy would be so proud of us," Luci said with a chuckle.
He lifted her hand to his lips and planted a kiss on top it, "Thank you, I needed that," he said.
She squeezed his hand as she stared at her cousin's lady love, "We're not done yet," she said.
"Here we are face to face we forget the time and place. Hold me now don't let go though it hurts and we both know...
His heart fluttered when the familiar tune started playing. He shifted his eyes towards Hermione's direction and saw her took a step back from Blaise. His heart started to pick its pace when she turned her head towards him and caught his gaze.
Luci grabbed his hand and started tugging him towards the same direction, "Come on, time to raise the stakes," she said.
"The time we spent together's gonna fly and everything you do to me Is gonna feel so right..."
Hermione wanted to look away, but for some unfathomable reason, her body won't listen to her brain. There's something in the look he's giving her that says that he still wants her, but if he does, then why is he with this beautiful French woman?
"Looks like they're heading this way," Blaise said.
She moved her eyes towards the blonde woman and saw her pulling Draco towards them, "What is she doing?" she thought. She felt all her walls go up as she unconsciously took a step closer to Blaise, "Why?" she asked.
Blaise lifted his arm and wrapped it around her shoulders, "We're about to find out," he replied.
Luci stopped right in front of them, a bright smile illuminating her whole face. "I've noticed you two dancing along with us and it's really Magnifique!" she exclaimed.
Blaise perked up with the compliment, "Thank you, you two. I'm Blaise, by the way and you are?"
"I'm Luci Laurenti," Luci said with dainty wave.
Blaise smiled charmingly, "It's a pleasure to meet you Mademoiselle Luci," he said. "And let me introduce you to my lovely date, Hermione Granger," he paused to look at Draco. "I'm quite sure Draco knows her, it's nice to see you again mate," he said.
Draco's face remained impassive, "Yes, I do know her," he replied as he moved his eyes to her. "Hermione, it's been a while," he said, his features softening.
She felt her heart flutter inside her chest, "Err - yes, it is," she sputtered nervously.
Luci turned towards her, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Hermione. I love your gown, you're really gorgeous," she said kindly.
"This woman is so infuriatingly beautiful and she's even nice - argh!" she thought. She let out a small smile, "It's nice to meet you too, Luci - you're really beautiful."
Luci beamed, "Thank you!" she replied. She then turned her face towards Draco, her eyes silently urging him to make a move.
"Baby when you're loving me, I feel like I could cry. 'Cause there's nothing I can do, to keep from loving you..."
Draco took the cue and stepped forward. He slowly lifted his hand and offered it to Hermione, "May I have this dance, Granger?" he asked politely.
She stood frozen, her eyes wide with shock.
Luci lifted his hand to Blaise, "Why don't you dance with me, Monsieur? I'm quite sure you're also versed with Ballad, yes?"
Blaise turned towards his date, "One dance?" he asked.
Her head snapped towards Blaise, "A - are you sure?" she asked.
Blaise nodded, "Yes," he replied.
She moved her eyes back to Draco's propped hand, her stomach clenching with a mixture of nerves and giddiness.
She lifted her gaze and saw him looking at her with trademark smirk, "Sure," she said as she placed her hand on his.
Blaise also took a step forward and offered his hand to Luci, "May I have this dance?" he asked.
Luci threw Draco a knowing look before giving her hand, "Oui," she replied.
Draco felt his heart jolt inside his chest when Hermione placed her hand on his. He forced himself not to follow his basic instincts and just kiss her senseless. He clenched his jaw as he led her towards the dance floor. Once they're on the perfect spot, he slipped his arms around her waist and gently pulled her closer. "This okay?" he asked.
Hermione's cheek's turned pink, but she nodded shyly.
"Here we are all alone, trembling hearts beating strong. Reaching out breathless kiss, I never thought could feel like this. I want to stop the time from passing by. I wanna close my eyes and feel your lips to mine. Baby when you're close to me I want you more each time, and there's nothing I can do to keep from loving you..."
"How have you been?" he asked.
She hesitantly placed her hands on his shoulders, "I've been well, how about you?"
"As better as I could be, I just got back from Paris."
She nodded, "I heard, how long has it been? Four years?" she asked.
"Four long years," he said. He then lifted his face to meet her eyes, "But it felt like forever," he said.
She flinched, but she didn't look away.
He studied her face for moment, "Mi?" he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
"D - dray?"
"I've missed you, really missed you."
Her eyes watered as her chest started to heave. She shifted her hands and circled it around his neck, pulling him closer. "I've missed you too."
He tightened his hold on her, revelling in the fact that this is the first time he held her in years. "It's been so long and I'm not going to lie and tell you that it hasn't been hell for me," he paused to let out a ragged breath. "Not seeing you - being without you, felt like I've been chained in Azkaban."
She bit her bottom lip hard just as her tears gave in.
He felt the knot inside his stomach loosen, but he hate the fact that his honesty made her cry. He lifted his hand and subtly dried her cheeks, "Please don't cry, love," he whispered.
"There's nothing I can do I'm helpless in your arms. Oh baby what you do, I'm in love this is it - there's no turning back this time..."
She let the breath she seemed to be holding with an audible whoosh, "Sorry, I can't help it - I just can't believe you're really here," she admitted.
He smiled at her as he squeezed her hip playfully, "Does that prove I'm really here?" he teased.
She giggled, "Yeah, I think so," she replied.
They swayed with the music for a couple of minutes, just basking in the presence of one another. After a few minutes of comfortable silence, he decided to speak again. "Mi, I -"
"May I cut back in?"
His whole stiffened, "Perfect timing as ever, Blaise," he muttered through gritted teeth.
She threw him a rueful look as she slowly pulled her arms away, "Blaise," she said.
Noticing the tension radiating from her cousin's body, Luci decided to intervene. She wrapped her hand around Draco's arm and pulled him closer, "It was nice dancing with you, Monsieur Zabini," she said.
Blaise bowed his head politely, "The pleasure is all mine," he replied. He then turned his gaze to Hermione, "Do you want to sit down? I'll get us something to drink," he offered.
She threw him one last look before nodding at Blaise, "Sure, let's go," she replied.
He watched the couple the walk away, his fury rising at a dangerous level. He flexed his hand a few times, willing himself to calm down before he does something he knew would embarrass Hermione.
Luci squeezed his arm, "Were you able to talk to her?" she whispered.
"No, but I won't let this night end without talking to her," he said with unadulterated conviction.
"Good, that's exactly what I want to hear."
"That went well," Ginny said.
Harry threw his wife an incredulous look, "What do you meant that went well? For a moment there, I thought we'd cart Zabini's unconscious body to St. Mungos! Have you seen the look on the ferret's face? I thought he'd pop a vessel from so much repressed anger!"
She seemed to mull over his words before nodding in agreement, "You're right, I've never seen Draco that furious and Blaise - I don't know if he's just dense or he's really can't feel the tension between those two. I mean, I'm standing here and I can definitely feel it!"
He shook his head, "I don't know, maybe he just chose to ignore it," he said. He then slipped his arms around her waist, "I don't think that's over though, Malfoy looks like he's on a mission," he said.
She leaned into him, "We'll just have to wait and watch then, I love drama!" she said giddily.
"And this night just keeps on getting better and better."