Very Unlike Her
"Accio blue-spangled dress. No, not right. Accio white, long-sleeved dress."
In preparing for dinner with her parents and Draco, Hermione realized that she didn't have an appropriate outfit, so she was summoning some of her favorite dresses from her wardrobe back home. She wanted something to enhance her new bracelet. She looked over her selections with disappointment, then at the bracelet.
Was it her imagination, or were the stones pulsing? The emerald green, drop-shoulder, she heard in her head, imagining the knee-length dress that rested just off the top of her shoulders and had a side slit. Of course, it was perfect.
"Accio green, drop-shoulder," she commanded. It appeared instantly. It was perfect. Draco would love the color and it was obvious it would fit her like a glove. Funny, though, she couldn't remember when she had gotten it.
She sent the rejected frocks back to her closet at home, then glided to the bathroom for a long, hot, perfumey bubble bath, temporarily removing the bracelet.
She was still excited about the evening but, luxuriating in the silky suds, she seemed to think more clearly. That dream, she said to herself. It was amazing. Would it really be like that with him? It was so much more than just...nice. But surely I'm not ready yet. I really don't know very much about him and what I know is mostly negative. Still, he's so...But I don't want to be controlled by my hormones. I need more reasons. I hope I find them, she continued, getting out of the tub and drying herself.
She dressed with care (The dress really was ideal) and put the bracelet back on her wrist. I'll have to ask Draco if he did something to the stones. They seem impossibly bright. She looked at herself in the mirror and gasped. Had her skin ever been so luminous, her hair so shiny? The dress hugged and draped to reveal and conceal so that she appeared flawless. She smiled at her reflection and saw a seductress. My bonnie Jean, she heard in her head. "Yes, Ralph," she answered out loud.
Her heartbeat quickened at the knock on the door. "I'll get it," she called to her parents. "Draco?"
"You were expecting someone else?" he asked from the outside. With a very un-Granger-like titter, she opened the door and was immediately swept up in his arms.
"Blimey, I've never seen anything so beautiful," he said, bestowing random kisses on her.
"Shhh, they're mobile," Hermione whispered.
He pulled away and lightly touched her exposed shoulders. His eyes were grey magnets and she felt as though she were tiny metal filings that he could collect at will. "Will you come back to my room after dinner? I want to be alone with you again," he said huskily, the dream preying on his mind.
"Yes," she breathed without hesitation. His body magnet drew her in for a tight embrace and long kiss.
"Ahem," said her father, stepping into the great room from his bedroom, her mother at his side.
"Oh," Hermione hurried over to them.
So much for first impressions, dog, Draco berated himself, as he straightened his tie and ran a hand over his hair.
"This is Draco," Hermione said, taking his arm to pull him toward her parents.
"Mr. and Mrs. Granger, it's a pleasure to meet you," he said politely, holding out his hand to shake first hers, then his.
Mrs. Granger fixed a cold eye on him. "Hello, Draco, you seem to know my daughter well, for her having never mentioned you."
Draco gave her a disarming smile, then dropped his head for a moment. "I do apologize that you saw that. I guess you could say that I've admired Hermione from a distance—her in the Gryffindor Tower and I in the Slytherin Dungeons."
"So you were in Slytherin?" her father asked, just as challengingly. "She has told us a little about the Houses and the tensions between them."
Draco chuckled. "Yes, we did have fierce competitions for the House Cup and quidditch matches, academic standing..."
"...and support for Voldemort," Mr. Granger added with crossed arms.
"Dad!" Hermione interjected.
Two couples shared expressions—Draco's and Hermione's was near shock; her parents' was disdain.
Draco pretended not to notice the discord as he said, "Well, shall we go then? There's a charming restaurant a few miles from the village with excellent food. Off the beaten path, but well worth any effort."
"Yes, let's," said Mr. Granger, still eyeing the younger man with hostility. "We'll just get our coats."
They went back to the bedroom and Draco moved to help Hermione with her wrap. "It's a shame to cover these lovely shoulders," he said placing a light kiss on the top of one, as his hands ran the length of her arms, giving them both the pleasure of velvet on skin.
"Control yourself, Draco. Their catching you mauling me is part of the reason for their instant dislike."
He harrumphed. "Dislike, you call it. They hate me. Maybe we should alter their memories again so they won't see that or know anything about Voldemort."
When Hermione had Obliviated her parents, it was to protect them from Lord Voldemort and his minions. When she had put them to sleep while speaking to Draco that morning, she'd justified it to herself that she was preventing them from being made uncomfortable by an awkward scene. She'd been unwilling, though, to manipulate their minds any further, as she'd told him she would do. They were Mum and Dad. She loved and respected them. It was wrong to use her powers over them, simply to make things easier for herself. So she'd told them the truth...mostly.
"I can't believe we fell asleep," fretted her mother as she scurried around the room to freshen up for her trip to the Burrow. "The Weasleys must think we're terrible. Why did you let us sleep so long, Hermione?"
"It's alright, Mother," Hermione said, putting her hands on the older woman's arms to halt her frantic activity. "We're not going to the Burrow. I sent Ron's owl back, politely declining."
"What? What happened? I thought they were expecting us."
"What's going on?" asked Mr. Granger, coming out of the bathroom.
Hermione took a deep breath and let it out. "Draco, the boy from school that I told you I met for dinner last night—he wants to take us out tonight."
Her parents looked at her in confusion. "But what about Ronald?" asked Mrs. Granger. "I thought the two of you..."
"Yes," conceded Hermione, "I thought we were going to reconcile, but for how long this time? We just disagree so much. I seem to be more compatible with Draco and...I like him quite a bit," she finished with a small, blushing smile.
"This is very unlike you, Hermione," her mother remonstrated, shaking her highlighted brown head in annoyance.
The young woman lowered her eyes. "I know, Mum," she said, twisting her hands in embarrassment, "but...I've never felt like this," she finished breathily, the glow in her face confirming her statement.
Her father gave a resigned sigh. "Alright, we'll meet this new young man, then. Draco, eh? Sounds familiar. What's his last name?"
"Hmm," he said, stroking his chin, "When will he be here?"
Hermione went to her father and wrapped her arms around his trim waist, grateful that he seemed to understand. "In a couple of hours. Mother..." She held out her hand hopefully. Her mother grasped it, responding, "Alright, dear, we'll give it a try."
She wore a big smile as she ran out of the room, exclaiming, "Thank you. Now I have to decide what to wear!"
Remembering that moment with her family, Hermione turned and stared, horrified, at Draco's suggestion that he alter her parents' memories. Her antecedents were equally miffed, and the red and blue gems on her charm bracelet returned to a less brilliant shine.
"Ready," said her father, coming out of the bedroom, slipping on his gloves. Mrs. Granger followed, belting her stylish, calf-length faux fur.
Draco smiled. "Good. There's a storm brewing, so the safest way for us to travel, if you don't mind, will be side-Apparation. Mrs. Granger, if you'll take my arm and Hermione, you help your father. Now," he said, holding Hermione's hand, "this might feel a little strange if you've never done it before, but here we go."