snow was falling softly outside the enchanted windows and holly was strung up
everywhere. People all over the office were wearing Christmas themed ornaments
that shone or made a variety of noises. Hermione’s desk was the only bare one.
She just didn’t feel like celebrating this year. To her, it was just another
passing year, another reminder that she was getting older and was still single.
‘You would think that being part of the golden trio would go a long way to
finding men interested in her, but she found that most were intimidated by her.
If she could take on Voldemort, how could they handle her? This left her alone
pretty much since his downfall. Of course she’d had a couple of dates, but they
didn’t work out. She wanted someone who would make her feel like a woman, not
seen as someone to boost her dates reputation. Hermione sighed and went back to
work. It would be time to take her winter holiday soon, her boss forced it upon
her, and she wouldn’t be back until the New Year. Unlike most of her coworkers,
she wasn’t really looking forward to it. She figured she would probably spend
most of her time at the Burrow and seeing Ginny’s expanding belly and the huge
rock on her finger was not exactly her idea of fun. Ginny would of course want
to know where her date was and then realize she had none. Molly would then try
to set her up with a random relative.
“Why the long face Granger?” A drawling voice interrupted her thoughts. Hermione nearly jumped out of her seat. “Malfoy.” She said, looking up. He was dressed in simple elegance as usual, his hair falling neatly into place. He was smirking at her. She chose to ignore him, which resulted in him sitting on her desk. He was now in her personal space and she would have to talk to him in order to get rid of him, as he had done before. His ankles were crossed as were his arms and he looked so smug she thought it ought to be illegal. “Well…” He prompted. Hermione sighed. She wasn’t going to get rid of him by ignoring him. “I’m, well after today, my holiday begins.” She looked into his cool grey eyes and got temporarily lost. “And you’re not happy about it?” His face was unreadable, and his grey eyes were intense.
“Why do you care Malfoy?” Hermione asked, looking down. She knew since before Voldemort’s downfall, he had changed his allegiance to the Order and was now on cordial terms with most people he would have never bothered with before. His mom seemed to have reformed too, now that her husband was not lording over her; but his dad had fought until the end and was currently in Azkaban. He was even on speaking terms with Harry. “I’m not the prat I used to be Granger.” Hermione nodded. He had been nice to her when they started at the Ministry. He had even sent her lunch anonymously a time or two. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, he had developed a soft spot for Hermione. She was looking at him thoughtfully, so he continued, “I wanted to give you this, in case you need to get away from the Weasley matriarch.” With that, Malfoy rose from her desk and exited just as lunch arrived.
She looked at the thing Malfoy had given her and nearly fell out of her seat! It was an invitation to his exclusive party he held every year. She smiled in spite of herself.
Hermione’s day went faster and more pleasant that before. She couldn’t wait to get off and buy a new dress. She and Malfoy had grown into a cordial relationship after the war when he realized how wrong he had been. It had taken time for each to trust the other however, but this invitation was definitely a step in the right direction.
That evening, she prowled the dress shop which would have the perfect dress. One that might even impress Malfoy. ‘Maybe I do like him a little.’ She conceded to herself, picking through the racks.
At length, she found a dress that was stunning. It was deep blue, almost purple and had a low neckline and was made of satin. It hugged her curves in all the right places. “That really is quite lovely.’ Said the witch behind the counter, making Hermione jump, who was lost in her own world. “Thank you.” She replied, turning around. “All you need now is to put your hair up and some dangling earrings. In fact, I have some right here!” The witch said, her eyes sparkling. Hermione smiled and went to examine them. What she saw took her breath away. They were beautiful! They matched the dress perfectly. The earrings weren’t too big either, being teardrop shaped, which suited her taste just fine. Hermione nodded to herself. “I’ll just get these wrapped up for you. Would you like the matching necklace?” The young witch’s eyes full of sparkle. Hermione nodded again and went to change.
When she emerged out of the dressing room, the jewelry was packed
up. Her purchase came to a little more than she was expecting, but then again, she
was going to a very fancy Christmas ball and needed to look appropriate. 'Plus', she thought to herself as she paid, 'when was the last time I spent any money on myself.' She couldn't quite recall, it had been a while. Her
only concern now was her hair. She couldn’t really afford to get her hair done and
get presents for everyone, so she opted to ask Ginny if she would assist her.
Ginny had always been available for make-up and hair consultations through the
years and had in some ways, become like a sister to Hermione, who was an only
child. Ginny had also vastly improved Hermione’s wardrobe over the years. She
was secretly grateful for this.
As soon as Hermione arrived home, she threw some floo powder into the fireplace, and firecalled Ginny. “The Burrow” she said, very clearly. Two legs appeared. “Hello Hermione dear. When will you be here?” Mrs. Weasley answered almost immediately. “Hello Mrs. Weasley. Actually I was hoping to speak with Ginny first.”
“Ok. Ginny!” Mrs. Weasley yelled. A faint “one-minute” answered. “Thank you.”
Ginny appeared a few minutes later. “Hey ‘Mione. What’s up?” She said, kneeling on the floor with some difficulty.
“I was wondering if you could help me with something.” Hermione blushed slightly.
“Yea, sure. What do you need?”
“Grab your wand and gel. I’ll be over in a minute.” Ginny’s eyes lit up.
“Sure!” She said and got up as quickly as her swollen belly would allow.
A few minutes later Hermione emerged and was assaulted by most of the Weasley clan, seeing as how they were home for the Christmas holidays. “Hello Fred, George, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Ron, Harry” Hermione said in a muffled sort of way.
“Give Hermione room to breathe!” Came Mrs. Weasley’s voice and they broke apart. Hermione looked slightly disshelved. “Are you staying for dinner dear?” She inquired, flour covering her hands. Hermione blushed as the gaze of most of the Weasley men were on her. “Er, no. I actually…”
“Hermione, get your butt up her now!” Ginny’s voice saved her.
“I can’t argue with a pregnant woman!
Excuse me!” Hermione said quickly and disentangled herself from the men to run
Percy, who was probably the most observant of the men, stated after a while “wonder where she’s going?”
“What?” Charlie answered.
“She had a Madame Peacock bag in her hand. I’d wager she’s going out tonight.” All the men turned to Percy in surprise. “Our Hermione, go out?” Ron said stupidly. At this Fred and George rolled their eyes. “That’d make sense”, said Bill.
“Madame Peacock is a posh boutique.” Harry chimed in. When they looked at him questioningly, he said defensively, “what, Ginny loves that place!”
Meanwhile, upstairs Hermione had changed into her dress and Ginny was fixing Hermione’s hair into an excellent style. Hermione’s hair was no longer frizzy, thanks to finding the right combination of magical potions. It now fell in soft curls that were almost to her waist. Her long locks were piled on top of her head and two curly tendrils framed her face. Ginny had applied green eye shadow with dramatic black eyeliner. She put mascara on the top lashes only to make Hermione’s eyes appear more open. Ginny applied a pale pink blush to the apples of Hermione’s cheeks for color. Finally, she put a soft pink lipstick on her to complete the look. Ginny’s make-up skills made Hermione’s brown eyes pop! “Hold still.” Ginny said, as critiqued her work. “There. That only took twenty minutes.” Ginny exclaimed, feeling proud of herself. “Thanks Gin! It’s perfect. I’m just going to put on my jewelry.”
“So where are you going?” Ginny asked, sitting on the bed and resting one hand on her stomach, one on the bed. “Nowhere special.” Ginny rolled her eyes. “Looking like that Hermione, I should say you are indeed going somewhere special. Now spill!” Ginny demanded. Hermione sighed, knowing Ginny would not give up until she had gotten the answer she was looking for.
“The White Lily Christmas Ball.” Hermione replied, hoping Ginny wouldn’t know who hosted it. “What!” Ginny screeched, nearly falling off the bed in surprise. “Malfoy’s ball! Oh Merlin! Do you know how exclusive that is!” Ginny was fanning herself. Hermione was leaning over her, checking her pulse. “You really shouldn’t get too excited Ginny!” She might pop any day.
In all the excitement, Hermione did not
hear the thundering of seven pairs of feet coming up the stairs until it was
The door burst open, Harry rushed to his wife and the other six men stood there ogling Hermione, who was leaning over Ginny.
“What happened!” Harry demanded, looking frantically at his wife.
“Don’t worry Harry. I just got over excited.” Ginny said, sitting up. Someone let out a wolf whistle. Hermione blushed. “Where you off to love?” Fred asked Hermione, leering at her as he leaned against the doorway. “Um...” was all Hermione could get out, before George asked, “yes Hermione, where are you off to looking ever so delectable?” George echoed his twin in question and stance. Charlie and Bill stood slightly behind them and Percy was slightly behind Bill. Ron was between Charlie and Bill. The twins had taken to flirting with her whenever they got the chance. Hermione blushed, still not used to their attentions. The longer she would stay at the Burrow, the more outrageous they became. It was then that Harry got a good look at his best friend. He raised his eyebrows at her. “Ah Hermione, where are you going?” Harry asked. If there was one person she could not lie to, it was Harry. “Um, I got an invitation.” She was aware of the extra ears in the room. However, before she could answer, Ginny burst out “Malfoy’s ball!” Everyone stared at Hermione and she blushed. “Well…” she stammered, “I’ll just be off then. Thanks Ginny, for the help.” She was gathering her things when Ron exclaimed “you’re going to the ferrets ball, instead of being her with us? He’s...it’s...it’s Malfoy, Hermione!”
She rolled her eyes at this, her anger rising. “Ron, honestly, like you have
any room to tell me who I can hang out with.” Her voice had a venomous quality
She was referring to his flaunting Lavender Brown right under her nose shortly after they broke up. Ron’s face turned a blotchy red and stormed off. “Ginny, thanks again for my hair. Goodnight everyone.” She said stiffly and as she left the room two certain someone’s patted her rear as the men parted to let her pass. She looked back and smiled in spite of herself at the men standing in the doorway, grinning recklessly at her. When she arrived in the kitchen, she found it empty. Grabbing a pinch of floo powder, she said very clearly, “Malfoy Manor” and vanished into the fireplace.
Draco heard a whoosh sound telling him somebody had arrived. When he went to check, he was temporarily dumbstruck. Hermione looked like a goddess to him with her pale skin, a dark blue dress that clung in all the right places and her hair was styled so wonderfully, he thought he might never quit smiling. “Hello Malfoy.” Hermione said, a little nervous. To her, he looked equally stunning. He was tall and broad shouldered and his hair fell perfectly in place. His dress robes looked custom made for him and his grey eyes sparkled. “Good evening Hermione. You look lovely. Shall we?” He offered his arm to her and she took it. They would be going down to the first floor. Hermione had to admit she was nervous. She had never had an occasion to rub elbows with the rich and famous and being near Draco didn’t help her anxiety level. His masculinity rolled off him in waves.
As they descended the stairs, many pairs of eyes stopped to watch them. Some held confusion, others joy, some lust and others jealousy.
She blushed a little but smiled anyway. ‘Tonight would be a great night.’ Although Hermione did not know it, Draco Malfoy, playboy extraordinaire, was thinking the exact same thing.
Hermione nervously looked around, most of these people she had only read about in the society pages. Several young women stared daggers at Hermione, and she knew they wanted to be in her place. She smiled to herself at that thought.
After a quick opening speech by Draco, the ball began. People began to pair up as the orchestra started to play. Hermione stood near the wall, suddenly self-conscious. Why had she agreed to come in the first place? She was beginning to have second thoughts and looked around the room at all the elegantly dressed people, when suddenly, Hermione found her view filled by Draco. He extended his hand to her, his trademark smirk in place, and she tentatively took his large, warm hand. Draco swept Hermione onto the dance floor, pulling her close. She could smell his expensive cologne; he smelled of the woods, champagne and something very masculine. As Draco led her around the dance floor, Hermione found herself focusing on the feel of Draco. He was so toned, his arms felt so powerful under her nimble fingers. "Hermione" Draco whispered "if you keep that up, I may have to take you upstairs." Hermione blushed and ducked her head into his chest as his chest rumbled in silent laughter. Merlin, he loved teasing her! Above her head, where he could not see, he smiled.
Draco loved the feel of Hermione's soft body pressed into his hard one. He towered over her by at least a foot and the smell of her hair was driving him insane. She smelled like strawberries.
A tap on Draco’s shoulder revealed Theodore Nott. He was dressed impeccably in blue dress robes that set off his electric blue eyes and olive skin.
“May I cut in?” Draco scowled and Hermione smiled, but he gracefully yielded. Theodore extended his hand to Hermione. His hand was rougher and he pulled her to him. “Miss Granger, you look absolutely delicious.” He whispered in her ear as he whirled her around the floor, keeping her close to him. He smelled of outdoors and something wild. “Miss Granger, you seem to have the attention of our host this evening.” Hermione blushed. “Not used to this much attention dove?” Hermione shook her head. “Not really.” She said, looking up at him. His eyes caught hers in a hypnotic stare. “Miss Granger, you are like the sun, you shine so brightly.” His caused Hermione to blush and look away. “Mr. Nott, your hands seem to be losing altitude.” He laughed and moved his hands back up. At the end of the song, Draco came to collect Hermione from Theodore, whose hands had been sinking increasingly lower throughout the dance. Draco pulled her to him once again. “Thank you.” She said quietly. Draco smiled into her hair and pulled her closer. He was really admiring the view her dress provided.
After two more dances, Hermione was feeling a little tired. “Malfoy, let’s sit. I could use a drink.” He gracefully danced them to the edge and walked her over to the bar. They passed a few witches that routinely appeared in the Daily Prophet’s society pages. They were all dressed at the height of fashion, and their hair was pulled into elegant up-dos. They looked closely at Hermione and she felt out of place and self-conscious but kept her head up. She had worked hard to look good for tonight and was not going to be looked down on.
Draco saw her hold her head higher and he smiled. He thought she was beautiful, and wanted her to see it too. “Two firewhiskeys.” The wizard handed two glasses about half full of amber liquid. He handed it to Hermione. “This isn’t what I had in mind.” He smiled at her and handed her water too. After she drank the water, she saw him looking at her with those grey eyes and she blushed. She was doing that a lot tonight. “To a New Year Hermione.” He said, clinking his glass to hers. “To a New Year.” Hermione echoed.
“Just how did you get an invitation?” Hermione turned on her way back from the ladies room. “Parkinson.” Hermione said. Pansy wore a green dress, which was too low cut and a bit too tight, with too much make-up. Hermione did not understand how she got in, but the Parkinsons were well connected, if not overly liked. “Draco invited me.” Hermione said, using his first name, feeling empowered by that knowledge. “Personally.” She added and smiled. Pansy looked like a fish out of water, she was gaping so much. “Why you…” but she never got to finish as Draco appeared by Hermione’s side. He nodded to Pansy. “Ready to return?” His eyes smoldered into hers. She nodded, taking his arm, leaving Pansy in the hall.
As the dance progressed, Hermione danced with
several people, but mostly Draco. As it got later and people began to disperse,
she yawned. “Getting tired already Hermione?” Draco joked. ‘There it is again.
He used my first name.’ She thought.
“I’m just a little tired is all.” He smiled knowingly.
“A little fresh air should revive you.” He had a glint in his eye as he led her to a balcony. The cool air hit her warm skin and she instinctively grabbed Draco, as he was the closest warm body around. He didn’t seem to mind. After a minute of pressing herself to him, she realized what she was doing. “I’m sorry Mal…Draco.” She tried to release him but he held her fast. “I don’t mind Hermione.” Then he looked into her eyes. She saw lust in his eyes and it made her shiver. “I’ve wanted to say this for a while now. I think you’re gorgeous.” His grey eyes were alight with fire. She gulped. A very small “thank you” came out of her. He smiled, then looked back up and grinned even wider. “What?” She asked. Still glued to his side. He pointed upward.
“You know it’s bad luck to not kiss under the mistletoe.” Draco quipped. She blushed and tucked her head into his chest, stifling a giggle. He put his hand under her chin, coaxing her to look up at him. She smiled at him and he bent down to kiss her on the lips. Her brain jammed for a second, then whirled into gear again and she began to respond by kissing him back and wrapping her arms around his neck.
The flash from a camera went off but she couldn’t bring herself to care. Her last coherent thought was ‘this is going to be the best Christmas ever!’