Chapter 1: The Cafe
Harry Potter is not mine, never was, never will be.
This is my first HP fanfic, please be gentle.
English is not my first language, I apologize in advanced for any mistakes you might find here.
Pairing: Hermione Granger & Draco Malfoy.
Timeline: True to the HP series. Completely ignoring the epilogue.
It was the end of September. The days were growing colder, the skies were a hue shade darker, and the leaves were a wonderful myriad colour of fire. Add to that the unpredictable sleets of rain, and everything was as it should be in the city of London.
Throngs of people were out and about. Some were dreading their treks in such gloomy climate, some were mindlessly carrying on with their routines, uncaring about the weather. And some — like Hermione Granger — was enjoying the fresh smell of rain, the coolness of the icy wind slapping on her bare face, and the synchronized dulled voices of people walking about, grumpily conversing about the heavy downpour.
The people were definitely Muggles, as evidenced from the way they were dressed in coats or jackets instead of magically water-repellent, cold resistant, and wind-absorbent robes.
Hermione was wearing the usual garments for a Londoners; tanned leather boots with dark jeans tucked inside, a warm-beige rain coat tailored to accentuate her curves — which had fortunately blossomed into womanly curves in the last four years following the end of the wizarding war — a bright maroon-coloured cashmere scarf, and a black nondescript umbrella held tightly to protect her from the rain, with dainty fingers covered in tanned leather gloves the same colour as her boots.
No magic was cast on her person. She found no need for it to fend off a measly rain, even if said rain was a bit heavier than usual.
Muggles' creations were brilliant and inventive enough to protect her from the unpredictable climate. Being a Muggle-born witch, she refused to rely on magic alone for the simple things that she could do on her own. It would not do to restrict herself within the cocoons created by most wizards and witches of the Wizarding world — who felt the need to separate the two worlds with such harsh lines. Fear of the unknown was the cause of the last war. The magical folks simply must broaden their horizon. She was a Muggle-born witch, god dammed it, and she was entitled to cherish her Muggle heritage. Being a witch should not mean her having to leave her roots behind. It should meant that she was a bad-ass for being a creature of two worlds.
That being said, Hermione was in no way deluded. She knew a line was necessary. The Muggles, in general, were not prepared — at least not yet — to know about the wizarding world.
But to coexist peacefully, a new understanding was needed. There can be no repeat of another wizarding war. The causality was far too great, on every side. And she refused to let the nonsense of blood purity and misconstrued knowledge of Muggle be a reason to creating another Dark Lord. One Voldermort was more than enough for a single lifetime, thank you very much.
That had been the main motivation for her work at the Ministry of Magic at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. She was trying to push on a bill to ensure inter-worlds community, where selected wizards and selected Muggles would be able to work together side by side for a single purpose — the betterment and continuity of both intersecting worlds.
It was a gruesome challenge, physically and mentally. Hence her trip for a bit of sanity outside of Wizarding London, to this particular cafe on the outskirt of Hyde Park, two blocks away from her flat, which of course was in Muggle London — naturally reinforced with a healthy splatter of magic for protection and convenience.
The cafe was called Sinful Delights. Aptly named, according to Hermione, because they provided the best coffee, tea, and treats, in all of London. Or at least somewhere near the vicinity of her flat, from which she could travelled using the Floo Powder from the Ministry and continued on a healthy two-blocks walk, for a bit of alone time in her favourite cafe.
She had became a regular there, evidenced by the warm smiles thrown her way by the baristas slash co-owners behind the oak wood counter, Jason and Jane; brother and sister with raven hair and green vibrant eyes and a love for all things delicious.
Jane waved cheerily at Hermione and then went back to preparing orders with practiced ease. Jason winked at her while receiving an order from a female customer, who was desperately trying to do so without blushing and or giggling.
Brilliant! This is gonna take forever, Hermione thought miserably, why do they always have to man the register?
It was a fact that the owners of Sinful Delights were beautiful people. It was one of the factors why the cafe was so ridiculously famous, besides the delicious sinful treats.
The place itself was warm and comfortable. Homey — some people might say, with just the right amount of modern edge sprinkled here and there. The first floor was airy with big-ceilinged windowpane, shadowed on the front with a canopy used to shelter the more-behaved climate for those who like to sit out front and enjoy the weather, which was of course being deserted that day due to the downpour.
The cafe was filled with the chatter of the occasional tourists — due to its proximity to the park — and the regulars who came to socialize and be merry with their friends.
Hermione queued patiently, humming to herself while wondering whether she should go for the savoury or the sweet pie. The chatter on the first floor was a delightful cacophonous of white noise, but she very much preferred her usual place on the second floor.
"Good morning, Mione!" Jason greeted with his most charming smile. He caught on to that nickname from the first time Hermione had brought her two best friends to the cafe and Jason had heard Ron called her that. He thought it was cute and continued to use the endearing nickname.
"Good morning, Jason," Hermione greeted, "busy day today?"
"Not more than usual," he humbly replied. His eyes were, as usual, looking right at hers. Warm green eyes, much like Harry's, were always kind and filled with the occasional mischief. "What you'll have then, eh?" he inquired, "the usual?"
"Yes," she confirmed, "but I'll have tea, not coffee for today, please. And I'll take whatever pie you recommend. I'm stumped—"
"On savoury or sweet?" Jason interrupted knowingly with a lifted right eyebrow and mischievous sparkling eyes.
Hermione laughed cheerily, missing the way his smile grew larger just from seeing her laughed.
"Yes," she replied between her laughs, "yes, you caught me. Happy?"
"Like you wouldn't believe," he mumbled, replying to her rhetoric question. Hermione, who was busy perusing the varieties of treats, missed what he said and guiltily looked up like a kid about to be reprimanded for not tuning in to the current conversation.
Jason sighed, forced a smile, and decided to just tell her the total. The one girl he was interested at, was the one girl who was oblivious to his advances. Go figure.
Hermione smiled back, blissfully unaware, paid the total, and scooted over to the pick-up counter, waiting in anticipation for Jame to deliver her morsels.
Moments later, after thanking Jane, her Earl Grey tea and warm apple pie in hand, Hermione hastily moved to the stairs. Once she was at the top of the stairs, she could feel all her worries ebbed away.
The second floor was lined with cabinets of books from floor to ceiling, placed brilliantly to provide private spaces with comfortable squishy sofas and round coffee tables. The balcony provided the same outdoor deck like it was on the first floor, which was also deserted that day. And on the backside there was an indoor garden with potted plants strategically hanged or planted.
Her usual place was in the right corner. Hidden by one of the cabinets, were two sofas and one round coffee table. One of the sofas was facing the garden with a cabinet at its back, and the other sofa was facing the opposite site with the wall at its back. The sofa facing the garden was her spot.
Confidently, Hermione walked to her spot, knowing it would be empty. People preferred the first floor than the second floor. When she came here with her friends, she would definitely be on the first floor. But when she came alone, which was two-third of the time, this spot was her preferred choice.
She smiled to some of the regulars when she passed them by. There were roughly fewer than 20 people there. All of them were regulars. All of them stick to their chosen spots. She knew only 7 by names, others by face.
Nearing the corner to her spot, her heartbeat was elevated, which in turn made her really agitated and furious. Come on! Get a grip, Hermione. Steady breaths, in and out, in and out.
Steadily, she placed her tea and pie on the coffee table, put her bag under it, sat on her spot, subtly took another deep breath, and looked to her left.
Brown eyes met silver grey eyes.
Deep breath, exhaled.
Nods were exchanged.
Deep breath, exhaled.
The first time she saw him, she had let out a rather embarrassing squeak. Even the raging storm that day had not been loud enough to smother the sound of it. The tray she had been holding at the time was precariously in danger of falling any second. The man she had been so surprised to see, in turn, had tilted his blond head upwards. His hair was blocking his eyes so she had missed to see his expression.
If it had not been for the fact that a piece of cake was falling from the fork he had been holding — while said fork then stayed frozen on the air seconds after — she would never had known that he had been as surprised as she had.
Gracefully, he had lowered his fork, looked her in the eyes, and had given her a subtle nod of recognition. And then just like that, he had simply picked up his fork and continued eating — like it was a natural thing for him to spending his time in a Muggle cafe.
Not one to be outmaneuvered, Hermione had overcame her surprise brilliantly and had rushed over to her usual spot. All the time wondering when the sky would finally fall out, because every thing had been so out of sort, now that the unbelievable had happened. Afterwards, Hermione had been so focused on not looking his way, that she had missed his departure all together.
The second time she saw him, Jane had been waving goodbyes and throwing him one of her utmost bedazzling smile — upon which he had responded with a nod. Another nod was thrown her way and he was out the front door, leaving her with nothing but a faint scent of something in the air as he had passed her by.
Jane had immediately asked Hermione if she knew him, to which she had replied that they were in the same boarding school, but had not been close — understatement of the decade — and proceeded to ask how Jane had come to knowing him.
With twinkling eyes, Jane had regaled Hermione with the first time she saw him in the café — which coincided with the first time Hermione saw him — and how good looking he had been despite being drowned out in the storm and how gentlemanly he had been towards her, and so on, and so on. After so many words describing his positive physical traits compared to other men, Hermione had tuned her out.
That day was the third times she saw him there. She was still surprised, still curious. But he had made no attempts to approach her since then — not counting the three nods which confirmed that he was definitely a nodder — and Hermione definitely would not go out of her way to approach Draco Malfoy.
She turned her attention back to her steaming hot pie and started to dig in.
Ok, be honest, should I continue?
I've never been so nervous with a new ship in a new fanfic before (new for me at least)!
I've already prepared the next chapter, titled The Woman. I'm sure you could guess which POV that would be. But I'm wary on posting it without hearing your thoughts.
There are lots of wonderful fanfics about Dramione already, I'm petrified to even post this T_T
Please be kind and review.