Was it out of character for him? Hermione had no way of knowing, because he'd already surprised her so much in the last few days, and now Draco was spinning her around, exclaiming, "Awh, I'm so glad you stayed!"
He flung her down on the sofa and sat next to her, wearing a big smile. Hermione felt good about her choice to stay at the ski lodge with him to, in his words, "Give us a chance." She couldn't deny her attraction to him or the feeling that she was with someone who understood her. It was different than being with her friends, who sometimes gave her the impression that her bookishness and conscience were tolerated, just because she was useful to them.
Still, she couldn't match Draco's mood. Something he'd said earlier was tempering her joy and causing her brow to furrow.
Draco knew that pensive look on her face. He'd observed it from afar for years. "Is there something wrong?" he asked, still smiling.
She lifted her eyes to look into his and pouted. "Do you really not like my name?" she asked in a small, high voice.
His grin widened, as he moved closer to her. "For a pretty little girl, it's perfect. For a distinguished, older witch, like McGonagall, it's perfect." He touched the side of her face and leaned in. "But for the way you are now, luscious and tempting, it's not sexy enough."
Hermione rolled her eyes and smirked. "Well, I suppose my parents weren't thinking of me as a seductress when they named me. Perhaps you'd prefer Lolita or Cherie."
Draco grinned back at her. "Perish the thought," he said, with emphasis on the first letter. I'm happy with the Jean I fancy. In public I'll call you Hermione. But when we're alone, you'll be my *bonnie Jean." He pulled her into a tight hug and gave her a long, sweet kiss.
She couldn't quite stop thinking, Who are you and what have you done with Draco Malfoy? but she liked the pleasant, handsome young man who was holding her, so didn't say it out loud.
"Do you want to introduce me to your family now?" he asked as he nuzzled her cheek.
"Mmm," she murmured, placing little kisses around his neck, "not yet. I have to alter their memory before I wake them or explain why I'm suddenly with you instead of Ron."
He snickered at her casual attitude about magically manipulating her mother and father, something he could never do to his powerful wizard and witch parents. "And which one of us has the high regard for Muggles?" he joked, while continuing the necking, that was beginning to feel preliminary. "What do you want then?" he asked hoarsely and hopefully.
What am I doing? Hermione asked herself. Why do I respond to him so wantonly? "Food," she answered quickly, rising from the couch while she still felt that she could. "I'm famished; aren't you?"
He chuckled again, as he stood beside her, wondering if she was going to turn him into a complete and happy fool. "I could eat," he answered, as they walked outside. "You go ahead to the dining room and get us a table and I'll meet you there. I need to go back to my room for a moment."
"Alright," she said, with one more small kiss to his heart-shaped face before Disapparating.
Still wearing a dopey grin, Draco Apparated to his room. He took a small, rectangular box from his luggage, ran a comb through his hair and brushed his teeth again, then left the room, whistling the Hogwarts anthem.
Separated from his overwhelming presence, Hermione tried to compose herself. Still, her eyes shone, like chocolate diamonds, as she took in the holiday atmosphere of the dining room.
"So many affectionate couples," she remarked under her breath, watching the people at several tables hold hands and exchange small gifts and kisses.
She saw Draco in the doorway and her breath caught as she unconsciously sat straighter in her chair. His broad white smile and white-blond hair made him a nearly blinding vision.
"I ordered specials for us," Hermione said as he took a seat next to her. "Why are you smiling like that?" she asked about the delighted and somewhat mischievous expression on his face.
"No reason, except that I've waited years to give you this," he said, taking her hand and placing the red velvet box, with a hastily-added bow, into it.
She blushed as she looked down on it then back up at him. "Years?"
He tilted his head slightly. "I've always had it with me on my annual tour of ski resorts. Open it," he requested.
Inside the box was a silver link bracelet with gemstones and small snake and lion charms. "Draco," she said in a surprised, breathy voice, "it's beautiful. It's too much."
"Not really," he assured her. "I found the bracelet in some of my mother's discarded jewelry. It already had the serpent and emerald for Slytherin. I took it to a goblin jeweler and had the ruby and lion for Gryffindor added, then your birthstone for the middle."
"I can't believe you know not only my birthday, but the birthstone."
The plates of food arrived but Draco seemed more interested in the young woman sitting with him than the blueberry pancakes.
"I'm going to have to explain to you the meaning of obsession," he said jovially as he placed the bracelet on her wrist then recited:
"A maiden born when September leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze,
A sapphire on her brow should bind"
"...Twill cure diseases of the mind," finished Hermione with a knowing smile, as she dug into her breakfast.
He grinned. "I prefer the alternative line. No one more lovely will ye find."
She dropped her fork on her plate and turned back to him. He leaned in for a small kiss, tasting the maple syrup on her lips.
"Draco, we're in public," she protested.
He looked around the room and saw all of the embracing couples. "It seems appropriate for this public. Look, there's the couple from last night," he said, indicating a table next to the windows, where the gangly man and previously mousy-looking woman sat very close together, feeding each other from their plates.
"Actually," Draco continued, "it reminds me of a more subdued Madam Puddifoot's. Were you ever there?"
"No," Hermione said, sipping her coffee, "but Harry went there once with Cho Chang."
She grinned as she teased him between mouthfuls. "I though you were such a ladies' man. You weren't there on Valentine's Day in fifth year?"
"Of course I was...for hours."
"Then how did you not see Harry and Cho?"
Snickering, Draco took Hermione's hand. "You Muggle-born innocent. You need a pure-blood to teach you the fun of being a witch. You haven't had much of that, have you?"
"Hmph," she answered defensively, "If that means sitting across from someone making sheep's eyes, while confetti is rained down on me, no, I haven't."
He chuckled. "And why do you think any of us lads are willing to spend time inside that powder puff, having confetti rained down on us?"
"Because the magic in the place makes you forget anyone else you saw there," he explained, "so it's perfect for secret trysts. There are rooms in the back."
Hermione's expression went from open-mouthed astonishment to tight-lipped jealousy. "And you had these secret trysts?"
He smiled, moving closer to her, "You'd be surprised to know who wanted something clandestine with a bad boy."
"Who?" she asked, folding her arms across her chest.
"I'm not saying," he said in the seductive, lazy tone from the previous night, as he ran his lips along her hairline.
"Please," she wheedled, releasing her arms and tracing one of his ears with a fingernail.
He groaned. "Alright, one name...Patil."
"Padma or Parvati?"
He just grinned in response.
"Oh, you're terrible," she said with a pout.
"That's my reputation," he answered, putting his arms around her waist and settling in for a long kiss.
"Draco, everyone will see," she admonished again.
"We're not doing anything the others aren't doing," he reasoned. "We're just doing it better."
He stopped and looked at her. "But what?"
She looked down uncomfortably, "This is all so sudden."
"Sudden?" he repeated with an ironic guffaw, thinking of the years he'd hoped to be in this position with her—a position that apparently made her so uncomfortable.
Hermione bit her bottom lip. "Please, try to understand..."
He removed his arms from her and pulled away. "I think I do understand," he said, digging in his pocket. "You know Muggle money better than I do" he continued, pulling out a bill, "Is this enough for the food and a...tap?"
"Tip," Hermione corrected. "Yes, it's plenty."
"Good," he said shortly. "I'm going to my room for a while. Let me know if you and your parents still want to go to dinner. I'll see you later."
He rose from the table and Hermione watched in mute disbelief as he walked away.
"Oh, Draco," two young women squealed, "we've been looking for you." Hermione felt another twinge of jealousy.
"Hello, ladies," he responded politely, "I'm sorry. I must be going. If you'll excuse me." With a backward glance at Hermione, he left.
The women approached her. "Are you Jean?"
"What?" she asked with hostility.
"Are you Draco's friend Jean, the one he can't stop talking about, despite our best efforts?" the black-haired girl asked.
Hermione bit the inside of her mouth to keep from breaking into a big, triumphant smile. "Yes, I'm Jean," she answered.
"Well, we should be jealous," said the tall strawberry blonde, "but the guy shouldn't be denied something he wants as badly as you, so we'll concede graciously."
"Alright," Hermione said with finality. Did they expect a thank you and money?
The women ended the uncomfortable exchange by mumbling, "It was nice meeting you," then hurrying to a table on the other side of the room.
Hermione paid the bill and "tap" and ran up the steps of the lodge to the guest rooms above.