Unofficial First Date

Hey, Granger. You and I—we should go on a date.

Hermione groaned mentally to herself, her face becoming warmer at the memory of when Draco Malfoy had uttered those words to her just the previous day. Her back against the stone wall of the empty hallway just outside the classroom; his arms outstretched on either side of her, trapping her between his body and the wall; his breath warm against her neck and the side of her head as he whispered those words in her ear.

She was caught off guard as he had done this—too stunned to move and grab her wand to hex him. By the time she had at last regained her composure and had thought to send a spell his way, he had already stalked off; but not before saying something about meeting him the next day at the Entrance Gates of the castle, being there in the afternoon around two, and not being late or he would kill her.

Hermione felt irritated and embarrassed at what had happened. She hadn't even gotten the chance to reject his sudden request, and give him a good slap across his annoying, smug face, making her feel even worse at the fact that she had done nothing but gawk at what had occurred. She flushed much more at the thought of having to meet Malfoy in the afternoon and go on a date with him. She sighed heavily and placed the pillow of the sofa of the common room on her face, not wanting to even contemplate about it.

Technically, she hadn't even agreed to go with him—and had she been given the opportunity, she definitely would have said no. Why the bloody hell is he asking me this all of a sudden? she thought. Must be some prank he or some other Slytherins are putting on. She rolled her eyes at the theory. Slytherins were so predictable.

Taking a deep breath, she raised her wristwatch to her eyes to look at the time. It was currently one o'clock—an hour before the time Malfoy would be expecting her. She contemplated on heading towards the Gates just out of curiosity, simply to see if Draco Malfoy was being serious and honest with the request, or just trying to play another joke on her—he was such a git, after all. But after a moment, she decided to stay in the common room by herself whilst her friends were out in Hogsmeade for the day, thinking certainly that there was no way Malfoy took any interest in her—that would've been ridiculous.

She picked up her book on the table to start reading, legs placed along the seats, eyes skimming the pages, one after another. It wasn't long, however, until Hermione felt her eyes droop down slightly—she had been up most of the night replaying the scene of the previous day in her head—her consciousness slipping from her until she finally fell into slumber.

It was the sound of loud chatting that had woken Hermione up from her nap. Harry, Ron, and Ginny had returned from their trip to Hogsmeade and were having a conversation amongst themselves; all three covered in bits of snow from the weather outside.

"Oh, sorry Hermione," Ginny said after noticing her friend. "Didn't mean to wake you."

Hermione stretched out her arms, and yawned lightly. "No, it's alright," she replied as she placed her feet over the side of the sofa to let the others sit. "How was your visit?"

"Just fine," Harry answered, walking over to the fire for some warmth. "We brought you some Butterbeer after we realised you wouldn't be coming." He tossed her a corked bottle of Butterbeer, and she mumbled a thank you.

"Yeah, sorry," Hermione started to say as she unscrewed the top of her drink. "I ended up falling asleep whilst I was reading."

"Not like it really matters. The weather outside kinda ruined the trip a bit," Ron said, staring out the window. "Looks almost like a blizzard's about to come."

"Wonder if Malfoy's still outside," spoke Ginny with a smirk on her face. "He was there outside the Gates when we left, and he was still there when we returned."

Hermione nearly choked on her drink after hearing this information, causing her three friends to turn their heads towards her. "What? Really?" she asked, wiping the corners of her mouth.

Ginny nodded her head. "He kind of looked like he was waiting for someone."

"Bet it was some underclassman he was supposed to be going out with," said Ron, grinning. "Good for her for standing him up!"

Hermione looked down at her watch which now read almost a quarter past four—past two hours of the time she was expected to meet Malfoy. She turned back to her friends who were still conversing about the weather. "Hey, if someone asked you on a date, but you never had the chance to reject the offer, but they still waited for you, would you still go?" she asked them.

Harry, Ron, and Ginny all gave her curious looks at her question. "Well, I suppose I would," Ginny replied. "I mean, it's only polite to at least show up and explain the misunderstanding." Harry and Ron nodded in agreement.

Hermione mentally sighed, unsure of what to do. Her morals were telling her to go out and meet with Malfoy, and tell him of the misunderstanding; but the other half of her conscience was telling her to stay unless she wanted to find herself outside in the cold; adding also at how absurd it was to risk running into the blizzard just to meet with the git. In the end, her morals won—damn her morals!—despite causing some irritation within her; and so she decided to head out before the weather worsened. She got off the sofa and stood up.

"Where're you going, 'Mione?" Ron asked her, eyes following her every move.

"Nowhere," she replied as she grabbed her coat from the back of the seat, putting it on. "I'll be right back." She took one of the umbrellas near the mantel, and headed towards the portrait hole.

"You alright?" Harry asked in concern at his friend's sudden decision to leave.

"Uhm, just feeling a bit faint. The heat in here's making me feel a bit uncomfortable," she lied, fanning herself with her hand. "I won't be out too long; no worries." And with that, she exited through the portrait hole, leaving behind her three confused and worried friends.

Hermione ran as quickly as she could through the near ankle-deep snow that kept growing beneath her—her breath appeared as small clouds of fog in front of her with each breath she let out, her throat feeling icy and dry as she continued to head towards the Main Entrance Gates.

Finally reaching the outsides of the Gates, she turned around in circles, frantically searching for the blond boy who had apparently been waiting for hours in the cold for her. At last, she found him crouched down in an attempt to keep himself warm in the freezing snow, leaning back on the stone brick walls under some trees, his hands in the pockets of his dark coat.

She walked over to him, snow crunching under her feet as she moved. "Malfoy?" she called to him. "Malfoy!"

Draco raised his head at the sound of his name, his vision slightly blurred as he cast his grey eyes on the figure moving towards him. "Ah, look who finally decided to show up," he said weakly, a smirk crawling on his lips. "Didn't I tell you you'd be dead if you were late?"

Hermione rolled her eyes at him as she placed the umbrella she held above his head, slightly irritated that he still had the gall to wear such an expression after all the things he put her through within the last 24 hours. Ignoring his snide comments, she said to him instead, "C'mon. We should get you back to the castle." She held out her hand for him to take to help pull himself up, but instead he just stared at it. His eyes then turned to her face, then back to her hand, her face again, and then back and forth from hand to face. "What?" she asked, feeling irked.

"I don't wanna go," he replied, still sitting on the ground. "You promised me a date."

"I did no such thing!" she yelled in annoyance and shock. "I never agreed at all to go out with you today!"

"But you still came," he pointed out, a smug look on his face.

"Only to drag you back to the school!"

"Well, I'm not going back unless you go out with me right now!" he cried out stubbornly.

Hermione groaned, annoyed at him. What was with this boy? "Fine! Suit yourself then!" She turned her back on him and headed towards the Gates to return to the school.

"Hey, wait! Granger— Ah!" Draco had moved to stand up, his head a bit blurred and heavy which caused him to stumble and trip in his attempt. Hermione caught him just before he fell to the ground, her arms wrapped around his waist.

Hermione's cheeks turned a furious shade of red at the realisation of their position. His head now rested between the crook of her neck and left shoulder, his hands tightly holding onto her upper arms, whilst the rest of her arms were still wrapped around him. Draco was breathing heavily against her neck as if trying to catch his breath after a long run, his eyes drooping lightly, chest heaving rapidly.

He's so warm, Hermione thought, feeling slight concern and responsibility for his condition. She pulled him away from her as gently as she could, and placed a bare hand on his forehead, his temperature warmer than it normally should be.

"I think you have a fever," she said softly. "We need to get you to Madam Pomfrey immediately."

Draco shook his head. "Don't want to…"

"Malfoy…" she said sternly with a frown. She thought for a moment, unsure of what to do, and how to handle this obstinate and now ill boy. Finally, she said, "If I buy you a warm drink, will you head to the Infirmary afterwards?"

Draco nodded frailly, and Hermione pursed her lips and sighed through her nose. "Well, alright then. Let's find us somewhere to go."

Draco pompously grinned at the word us, and Hermione placed his left arm around her shoulders with her right hand on the small of his back to keep him steady, and they walked next to each other towards the Three Broomsticks.

The pub was nearly empty as most of the students and customers had most likely already headed back towards their respectable places or rooms to stay out of the snowstorm and away from the cold.

Hermione placed a warming spell on Draco, and left him at one of the booths against the wall, his head resting near the window, eyes closed. Hermione returned soon after ordering two cups of hot cocoa, grimacing at his weak figure.

"You know, you wouldn't be in this condition if you hadn't waited outside for so long," she scolded him as she sat in the seat directly across from him.

Draco sneered at her statement, opened his eyes to look at her, and replied saying, "I wouldn't have had to wait in the snow for hours had you shown up when you should have."

"No. You—" she started, pointing at him "—wouldn't have had to wait in the snow, if you had just waited for me to tell you 'no' yesterday, instead of leaving without even an answer from me."

"If I waited for you to say 'no', then you would've been rejecting me!"

That would've been the point! she cried in her head. "And that's so much better than catching a fever," Hermione said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "Why did you even ask me on this 'date' anyways? Although, it's not like it's even a date."

"Well, I don't know anything about Muggles, but when we wizards ask others on a date, it pretty much means we fancy them."

Hermione couldn't stop the scoff that came from her. "No, really." She eyed him with an incredulous look, eyebrows softly scrunched together.

Draco sighed and reached for his cup of cocoa, and took small sips of it; the warmth of the drink gradually rejuvenated him and brought some heat back into his veins. "Doesn't matter whether you believe it or not, Granger. All I know is that we are on a date, and that's all I care for right now."

"This is not a date," Hermione stated. "This is simply a friendly offer and meeting."

"'Friendly offer and meeting'." This time it was Draco who scoffed, and in much amusement and disbelief, too, looking at the witch sitting in front of him. He crossed his arms. "You mean a date?"

"Noooo," Hermione drawled. "A friendly. Offer. And. Meeting. I don't understand why you're being so bloody difficult."

"I'm being difficult? You're the one in denial."

"Denial? There's nothing I'm even denying. You're the one who refuses to accept the fact that this is not a date in any sense at all."

"Oh, really?" he asked, challenging her.

"Really!" she cried.

"If I recall correctly, dates are commonly between two people who decide to spend time together in privacy," he gestured to the both of them, "which is what we are doing right this instant."

"Yes, but a date is also commonly a romantic appointment which this—" she copied Draco's gestures between them "—is not."

"Not yet," he said coyly with his usual smirk—a smirk Hermione would have loved to slap off of his face.

She still, however, blushed at the implications, and averted her eyes to the side, taking a quick drink of her cocoa in hopes of hiding her pink cheeks from him. She coughed lightly before commenting, "You know, for someone with a fever, you sure have quite the energy for arguing."

He shrugged. "It's usually ever with you. Maybe you're just that special to me."

The blood continued to rise to Hermione's cheeks once more at his comment, unsure whether he was being sardonic or not. "Since when have I ever been 'special' to you?" she asked partly confused, partly incredulous, and above all, partly fearful at the sudden realisation that Draco Malfoy may not be playing around at all, and was possibly being genuine and truthful in all that he was saying to her.

Draco shrugged his shoulders once more to her, leaning his head against the wall again, his breathing becoming noticeably heavier as he said, "I don't know for sure exactly. Maybe you always have been, but it just took me some time to realise it fully."

Hermione looked at him with wary eyes and disbelief, contemplating upon his statement. "That's a funny one coming from the bloke who introduced the word 'Mudblood' into my life," she said bitterly. "Classic."

Draco winced at the M word she had uttered, not wanting to be reminded of all the insults and other terrible things he had made and done, especially to her. "People change, Granger," he stated simply.

"Doubtful," Hermione said, eyes rolling at him (she couldn't help but feel like she'd need a new pair of eyes by the time this evening was over). "And what would your bigoted parents simply think if they were to learn that their only son was courting a Muggle-born?"

Draco frowned at the implications of Hermione's words. "It's been nearly a year since the end of the War. My parents have changed, as have I. Hence why we were pardoned from incarceration; and why not one of us is in Azkaban at this moment."

"Please, your father should have more than enough money and connections to be able to keep you all out of prison. Unfortunately for the world, the justice system is very much unjust."

"Yes, it truly is, but my father had the money and connections back in sixth year, still, too," Draco said more seriously now, "and he was still imprisoned then. I mean, that was until he was broken out, but I digress." Draco noticed how much the throbbing in his head gradually became stronger, and he tried ignoring it much to no avail. He shifted his posture, attempting to become more comfortable, but the pain did not leave. "And though it's taking some time," he continued, "the three of us Malfoys honestly and truthfully are looking past our former beliefs of blood supremacy and prejudices. Whilst these changes are miniscule, they're still there, Granger. And you can deny it all you want, but at least appreciate the attempts we are making."

Hermione remained silent, uncertain on how to respond. She felt uncomfortable at how sincere the boy in front of her seemed to be. Although it was difficult to admit, what Draco was saying made sense; the changes he spoke about truthfully did explain that sudden courage that pushed him to ask her for a date, as well as the fact that he didn't mind being seen with her in public, and how he actually seemed amiable—if not cordial or nice—to her this current school year. But again, it was something that Hermione couldn't admit with ease. It's difficult to start becoming fond of someone you had hated for a majority of your life, someone who ridiculed and belittled you for most of the time you've known each other.

Draco let out a wince and a sigh of pain, placing his hand on his aching head. He closed his eyes, his vision starting to become hazier than it was a moment ago, the pressure within his ears thickening. His hand fell and dropped to his side. Hermione noticed the discomfort he displayed, her eyes widening in fear at the state he was in. "Malfoy? Malfoy, are you alright? Draco?"

He gave no reply.

She moved up from her seat and nudged him on the shoulder, causing his head to instead roll sideways from the wall and towards the table in front of him. She placed the back of her hand onto his forehead, feeling the heat and moisture emanating from him onto her hand. His pale face was now noticeably pink, his breathing raspy and uneven. She started to panic, worrying that the warming spell she had placed on him may be to blame at the quick change and increase of his temperature from a while ago. Numerous levels of guilt flooded Hermione, feeling at fault and to blame for his illness and worsening conditions; but despite these emotions, she wasn't going to let them prevent her from attempting to make right of her wrongs—even if in all honesty they were really Draco's own doings.

"Draco," she called to him. "Draco!"

Still no reply.

She wanted to call Madam Rosmerta for help, but it seemed she was out of sight and not behind the counter anymore. And all the few remaining customers who were still at the pub seemed to be minding their own business, and Hermione found it best not to disturb them—plus, she doubted any would be willing to help her drag the body of a teenage boy all the way back to Hogwarts castle considering the weather outside.

"Draco, we need to take you to the Hospital Wing right now." She moved from her side of the table to his, and placed his arm around her neck. She attempted to drag his semi-conscious body upright and from his seat, struggling with his weight and her lack of strength at not being able to carry him. "Come on, Draco. Stay with me now. Just stay with me here for just a few more moments," she called to him.

Draco's eyes flickered at the sound of his name, consciousness slowly returning to him; but his head throbbed heavily, and he could have sworn he had six eyes rather than two at the sight of everything multiplying in front of him. He glanced at Hermione—or, at least, the one he thought to be the real her—seeing the look of fear and worry on her face. "Granger…" he called softly to her.

Hermione breathed a sigh of relief at the sound of Draco finally responding to her. "Come on, Draco. Let's get you to Madam Pomfrey."

Draco gave a short, weak nod in agreement, and he allowed Hermione to help him up and out of his seat, and onto his two feet.

"Can you walk?" Hermione asked him. Draco only nodded, though he wasn't certain himself if he would really be able to.

Hermione opened her umbrella for the oncoming winter storm that they knew should be anticipating them outside of the pub and the ankle-deep snow (or could it perhaps be deeper than that now?) they would be forced to walk through to get back home.

Much to their surprise and fortunate luck, they soon discovered that the snow was falling much lighter and gentler now than it had been previously before they entered the Three Broomsticks. Hermione withdrew her umbrella, and looked upwards, her eyes immediately going wide and dilating at the breathtaking sight before them. She had never realised the beauty of the white glowing stars above her; every single one seemed to gleam brightly in the dark sky made of black and violet hues that spread across the space above.

Draco followed suit, and looked up as well, seeing what Hermione was so entranced by. Hermione watched him from the corner of her eyes as he pointed northward into the sky. Her eyes followed where his hand was pointing, and recognized a series of stars aligning to make a certain and familiar constellation.

Typical, she thought, realising he was pointing at the constellation that was his namesake. She shook her head, and trudged back to the castle with Draco in arm.

Hermione sat in the Hogwarts Infirmary; Draco Malfoy laying on a bed fast asleep right next to her. She was at last relieved of her burden of having to practically carry Draco down the ground floor, up the marble staircase, and to the first floor into the Hospital Wing; and now she sat quietly with a cup of tea in her hands, a blanket over her shoulders.

The walk back to Hogwarts castle was uneventful. Hermione had had to carry most of Draco's weight as his consciousness continuously slipped in and out, and he himself couldn't keep his balance upright. It was quite possibly nearing six o'clock by the time they made it into the Entrance Hall which was luckily empty of students as most of them were most likely in the Great Hall eating dinner, something she was thankful for since she rather no one see them the way they had then been and have questions and possibly rumours surrounding them.

Madam Pomfrey then fed Draco some medicine, and had informed Hermione that his fever should be decreasing by the next morning and that he should rest quietly for the time being; also praising her rather than reprimanding her for the warming spell she had cast on him that saved him from a worse fever. She was glad she hadn't actually worsened his illness, and had asked to stay for the time being to keep an eye on him despite being pardoned of any more responsibility concerning the boy.

Hermione watched him and eyed his sleeping form curiously. His breathing was even now, no longer possessing the raspiness that made it seem as if he was struggling to catch breath, and his temperature was nearly back to a normal 37 degrees. She noted how his naturally pale skin seemed lighter in the dim light, his platinum blond hair shone with the moonlight shining on it through the large window beside the bed, and Hermione had never realised it in the past, but he owned quite the prominent cheekbones on his thin, pointed face; she wasn't entirely sure whether she thought it apt to call him handsome—much less attractive—but there was not a doubt in her mind that he was a fairly good-looking young man.

Hermione let out a deep breath from her nose, now contemplating on the conversation they had back in the Three Broomsticks. All his comments and gestures were rushing into her mind and memories now, and she was incredibly confused and conflicted about everything. He had called her special, had called their little meeting a date—whether it really was or not, Hermione still wasn't certain whatsoever—and had directly said that he fancied her whilst all being genuine—or at least seemingly so, as far as she could tell. What exactly were his feelings towards her? Why the sudden interest in her, and where had it come from? And above all, what were her own feelings towards him? She mentally groaned, and decided she'd ask him the next day what his intentions towards her were, but for now she needed dinner and her friends.

She made a move to get up from her seat and leave when Draco shifted in the bed, turning on his side, facing her. His eyes flickered open, consciousness overtaking him, and at the sight of her there beside him, he called out her name meekly: "Granger…?" His barely opened eyes searched about his surroundings, a look of wonder and questioning on his face as he attempted to lift up his head, trying to figure out where he was. Ah, right, the Infirmary, he thought.

Hermione remained in her seat at the sight of Draco waking up. "Uhm, hey," she said. "Feeling better?"

Draco nodded and yawned as he pushed himself to sit upright, leaning his back against the head of the bed. All was silent now, and neither one spoke for a moment.

Realising now wouldn't be a terrible time to confront him, Hermione spoke first. "C— Can I ask you something?"

Draco turned his head to face her. "Technically, you just did," he pointed out.

Ignoring his reply, Hermione continued: "Everything that you said at the pub… Did you mean any of it?"

Draco looked down at his hands that were placed on his lap, and he did not respond. Hermione felt irked at the silence he was giving her, and was about to repeat her question one more time when he said: "I meant all of it."

Hermione immediately closed her lips, flustered and taken aback at his response. That was certainly not the reply she had been expecting. She took a few sips of her tea, once again hiding behind her drink to conceal her blush. She cleared her throat before she spoke. "You're lying," she said.

"I'm not lying!" Draco cried out to her. "Hell, you can even do Occlumency on me for all I care, and you'll see I'm being honest." Draco crossed his arms on his chest, a tinge of pink coloring his cheeks at his confession.

"And— and since when did you ever have such feelings for me?"

"For a while now… I just never bothered to do anything about it until recently." He averted his eyes away from her, and sighed, unsure whether to continue or to simply stop talking before he embarrassed himself; he decided on the former, realising he might as well put everything out in the open now that he's started. "After the War, I stopped believing in the whole blood supremacy my parents had taught me my entire life—or at least those beliefs were slowly vanishing. The whole belief only caused trouble… and people's lives… So then, I decided to keep the fact that you were a Muggle-born from preventing me from allowing my feelings for you.

"When I learned you and Weasley were no longer dating, I thought this could be my chance, but it's no secret that you detest me, Granger. And I've no Gryffindor courage, so I did what any guy would do; I forced you to go on a date with me." He smiled proudly at himself, placing his hands behind his head.

Hermione scoffed at his bluntness. "No, but you may have Hufflepuff honesty instead."

"Ew, no. That's a bit far, Granger, don't you think?"

Hermione rolled her eyes for the thousandth time that evening, and shook her head at him.

"Well, anyways…" Draco began, in hopes of changing the subject from his feelings for the young witch to anything else—anything else that didn't have anything to do with his possible Hufflepuff characteristics, that is. "You called me by my first name back there."

Hermione scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. "What?" she said, trying to remember when that had been.

Draco replayed the memory in his mind with amusement. "You said something like, 'Draco, stay with me now' back at the pub. Who would've thought you wanted me that much, too?" He smirked at her, seeing her frightened expression.

"I was telling you to stay conscious then. There were no implications or innuendos there!" she cried out, flustered at all that Draco was saying.

"If you say soooo," he teased.

She gave an audible huff and leaned back in her seat, looking out the window. Why was she allowing herself to let him make her feel and react the way she did to all that he was saying? How had he managed to sneak up on her the way he did? She looked out the window to her left, looking up at the starry sky above them. She noticed the serpent-like constellation Draco had pointed out to her moments back.

Draco looked out the window as well, finding the subject of her interest with his own eyes. He smirked. "The dragon constellation, or better known as Draco," he said. "Always there in the sky, but only prominent at certain times in the year—in July, I think it was?"

Just like his feelings for me, Hermione realised, and thought to herself. They've always been there, but only prominent every so often…

She turned her head and looked over at him, his body leaning towards hers to get a better view of the night sky. "It's getting late. I should go," she told him, moving her eyes away from his face.

He looked towards her, a sombre tone in his grey eyes. He only gave a curt nod as a response, and returned his attention to the view outside the window.

Hermione got up from her seat, intending to head towards the exit and back to the common rooms when she found herself unable to continue walking, her feet frozen to the spot, her mind contemplating on doing whether or not to do what she had the unexpected urge and impulse to do, and also wondering why she had this sudden feeling to do such a thing. Somehow, there was a rush of adrenaline pumping through her veins; she turned around and stepped back towards where Draco sat on the edge of the bed. She leaned down, planting a chaste kiss on his cheek—because while Draco Malfoy did not have Gryffindor courage, Hermione Granger undoubtedly did. This, of course, was a huge surprise to him—a pleasant one, but a surprise nonetheless—and it set his heart beating quickly.

Just as she was turning around to exit the room, she felt Draco's hand wrap around her wrist and tug her down onto the bed beside him, arms wrapping around her waist as she was pulled towards his body.

"Blimey, Granger, if you're going to kiss me, do it right," he said haughtily.

Hermione was in shock at the position they were in, and this time, she finally had the reflex to grab her wand and hex him—but she didn't. Instead she leaned her head up—because, Merlin, was he tall—towards his as he did the same down to hers, their eyes both closed as their lips met.

Although it wasn't an official first date they shared this day, it was an official first kiss instead they had with one another.

The only problem now: how was she ever going to explain any of this to her friends?

Wow! Can anyone believe that it'll be an entire year tomorrow (July 24, 2014) since I last published anything on this account? This story was basically a year in the making since I had originally started writing this in August 2013, but I never got around to completing it for some reason. I'm so glad I finally did, so that I can share this here with all of you now.

This story was inspired by episode 4 of the Korean Drama Boys Over Flowers where the main character had unintentionally forced the love interest to wait in the cold for her for their date despite the fact she hadn't agreed to one. I did take some liberties, however, and changed what happens to the characters in this story instead.

I'm planning to write two other stories soon (both unrelated to this piece), but when they'll be published (or even written) has yet to be discovered.

Also, please do point out any mistakes I may have overlooked, whether they be grammar, spelling, etc. I'd really appreciate it!

And now have a great day or evening!

~ Alice