It had been a lovely wedding, Hermione Granger thought. Oh, sure, Molly Weasley had been crying - but a sliver of onion could reduce that woman to tears and her last son getting married was clearly more important than an onion. Here she was, sitting with Harry and Ginny - ever so glad she wasn't up in front with Ron and Parvati. She really had thought Ron would know better - but then again, it wasn't 'good ol' Hermione' pitching that particular fit. That was Harry Potter, who truth be told hated crowds, and especially hated staring. So they were quite glad to be sitting near the edge of the reception, as Ginny tossed off carelessly cruel comments about Ron and his new wife. They weren't ill-meant, of course - just the usual catty gossip. Ginny would figure out - sooner or later - that no one was really laughing along with her... Looking at the red-headed terror (meant kindly of course), her arm draped casually across Harry's shoulders, Hermione couldn't help but think she was a bit of a third wheel... It had been different when Ron was there - then it had been a proper foursome, and nothing got awkward... well, except for the fights. Gryffindors could fight like wolves - teeth meeting teeth and claw striking claw. And neither Ginny nor Hermione was the type to keep quiet if there was a problem. Hermione made as if to get up, before she caught Harry's eye - the slight widening of it, the artfully hidden plea to 'stay for the love of G-d'... And then Hermione Granger turned brightly to Ginny and asked if she would care for another drink? Maybe if I get her drunk enough, she'll stop talking before Ron hears her... or worse, Padma. Harry'd see Parvati coming in time to shut Ginny up - even if the only way to buy her silence was a deep French kiss. Ginny said, "Sure, why wouldn't I? Ron's paying, for once, the cheap bastard!" What a thing to say at a wedding, Hermione thought - and could almost see the thought echoed in Harry's eyes.
Harry Potter turned away suddenly - and froze, just for an eyeblink. "That's Draco Malfoy... what in G-d's green earth is he doing here?"
Hermione giggled, and said, "Apparently even he's not immune to the rigors of Parvati's seating charts."
Harry looked at her, wide-eyed - and in a perfect rendition of Pansy Parkinson, said, "Can you IMAGINE what she'd have done to him if he didn't show Up?"
Hermione belted out a laugh from her belly, "He's probably just bored, in that Manor of his. Nothing to do, nobody who likes him. Why not show up and see the Gryffindors do something-" Here Hermione paused, and then in a flawless Snape voice, "completely and ineffably foolish."
Draco had been talking with Blaise - though they hadn't shown for the wedding itself, they were bound to make the reception. Not that they needed the free liquor, but laughing at clueless Gryffindors was too good a chance to pass up. Besides, the wedding gift he had gotten for the couple was delightfully ironic. With luck, they wouldn't even realize they'd been insulted. Such were the subtle ways of Slytherin humor.
A scrap of breeze carried Draco's name to his keen ears... He froze momentarily - listening to catch the intonation. Blaise spoke up instead, "Ahh, it seems the Boy who Caught the Snitch has finally noticed you. Apparently you're less distinctive than a golden ball that hums and flies around."
Draco's silver-gray eyes moodily scanned the crowd, finding at last the right raven-haired boy. He still looks hapless and out of place in a suit, Draco thought with more than a hint of amusement.
"Strange, isn't it, that they aren't up with the groom and bride?" Blaise drawled, swirling his glass of wine as he inhaled slowly. Such a sophisticate, and such a hedonist, Draco smiled inwardly to himself.
"Ten'll get you one that Potter pitched a fit, and got his way. Again." Malfoy smirked. Long experience with counting the manchild as a foe had given him unwonted insight into his character. Not that he was ever likely to admit that to Potter, of all people.
"You're usually right, Draco..." Blaise said, his voice trailing off as he realized that Malfoy was rather busy eyeing the other table.
"You see it, don't you?" Draco asked, shooting a quick, mischevious look in Blaise's direction. Blaise's heart sunk at the look - it was never a good sign.
"See what?" Blaise said, opting for looking dumb to lure Draco's devious mind into explaining something for once.
"The lovebirds over there... how they yearn for each other, staring into each other's eyes..." Draco's voice had deepened into a purr that rather reminded Blaise of Snape - this was really not a good sign. And then Blaise actually bothered to look over there - and he noticed that Draco had been referring to - not the Weaselette and Potter - but Granger and Potter. And, worse yet, he actually had a point. They looked like two people busy trying to drown themselves in each other's gaze.
"Makes you wish you were back in school, does it? Something else to throw into your schemes..." Blaise said shrewdly. "Pity the war's over, is it?" his voice had taken on something of a chill.
"Oh, but I've had the most marvelous, tricksy idea!" Draco Malfoy said lightly - his silver eyes flashing like a fish sprung from the sea.
"Draco..." Blaise said warningly.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Draco Malfoy asked, smiling like he was an eleven year old again. On nearly anyone else, this would have looked childlike - that careless freedom of the young. On Draco Malfoy, it merely looked childish - his eleven year old visage had too much arrogance and casual cruelty to treat even his amusement as harmless.
"No, Draco, you are not - He got you freed from Azkaban! Are you out of your bleedin' mind?! What if he sends you back?"
And Draco Malfoy, I swear to G-d, leaned back on his chair, lacing his hands behind his head, and said with a cunning smile, "That would mean admitting that I've won."
"Don't be an idiot...!" Blaise hisses - knowing, suddenly, that he wasn't going to stop his best friend from doing something completely foolish.
And Draco Malfoy stood up, and with all his old, accustomed arrogance, strode off towards Potter and Granger and the other Weasley. He's mad, I tell you, off his bloody rocker.
Harry Potter noticed Malfoy before Granger did, his eyes alighting with suspicion. Draco Malfoy merely smirked slightly, before smoothing his face down to that arrogant mask he favored.
"Why if it isn't Miss Granger..." Draco Malfoy drawled out, enjoying the looks on the entire table's faces. Didn't they realize the war's over? Maybe not, old prejudices do die hard. Draco Malfoy executed a perfect bow towards her - spoiled only slightly by the fact that she was facing Potter and not Draco. "I wonder if I might request the pleasure of a dance?" His hand was held out in just the perfect position for guiding her into a waltz - though of course it was a polka playing. Barbaric music, the Polka - why it even showed your legs!
"Oh, I'm afraid I am too embroiled in my current conversation, and I'd hate to deprive Harry and Ginny of my good company."
"Are you so certain of that, my dear? I venture to say that the two lovebirds would welcome some time to themselves..."
Granger's voice grew a bit more brittle, as she said, "Still, I must say that I am surprised at you - I'd have thought I'd be the last person you'd ask for a dance." The Shadows of War still cling to us all, Draco Malfoy thought morosely.
"You know what they say about Slytherins - appearances can be quite deceiving." Draco Malfoy let his eyes run up and down Granger's figure, before saying, "You'd know something about that yourself, I suspect." Draco positively delighted in the warmth of Potter's gaze on him - it was as if he was willing Draco to burn to a crisp in front of his eyes.
Granger opened her mouth to say a word, when suddenly Draco Malfoy bent down, and whispered in her ear, "Just play along, you'll figure it out later." Granger blinked, once, at the peculiar phrasing, and then stood, slowly. "Perhaps I do indeed..." she said with a smile that was colder than ice. Later, Hermione would review the scene, and come to understand that it had been Malfoy's backhanded respect for her intelligence that had made her accept.
The dance itself was like dancing with a cloud - Malfoy was grace incarnate, and all the regal authority of a proper young lordling. They stayed regulation distance apart, and Hermione scanned the crowd - wondering if some jealous lover was going to appear. Malfoy, on the other hand, had eyes only for a truly jealous, green-eyed man.
As Hermione walked back to the table, Harry Potter muttered into his wine glass, "I don't trust him. Not one bit."
[a/n: Well, are you interested? If so, write me a review. Blaise is such a fun perspective to write.]