Author's note: This is a blending of the details from the book and the movie, though moreso the movie because I think that the drama was played out better, and it fit better with my story...
Pansy Parkinson was beautiful in her dress for the Yule Ball; there was no denying it. The demure, maroon satin sheath, dotted with gold flowers, was so unlike anything the other Slytherin girls wore that she almost looked like she belonged in another house. The dress was of course a calculated move, as was everything else about her appearance that night. From her short brown hair, which was curled and intentionally tousled so that it almost looked almost frizzed. To her make-up, which was soft and feminine, her signature smoky eyes and dark red lips toned down so that she almost didn't even look like herself. Even down to the three-inch heels that she wore just so she could be five-foot, five-inches tall. People told her all the time that she and Draco were perfect for each other and while she relished the idea of "Dransy" being the center of gossip circles, she knew that she stood in the frizzy shadow of the mealy-mouthed little Gryffindor know-it-all.
Draco would never admit to liking the mudblood, but Pansy knew he did. He was constantly griping about her - "That Granger sure thinks is she's smart." - "I can't believe that mudblood scored higher than me in Defense Against The Dark Arts." - "Thinks she's better than me because all her charms work." - Pansy had to agree on that last one, Hermione's charms sure seemed to work their magic on Draco all right. If he wasn't yammering about how much he despised Potter he was going on about Granger.
"How do I look, Pansy?"
Pansy turned to see her dorm mate, Millicent Bulstrode, who was embracing the Slytherin colors in her own low-cut, silver and emerald, mermaid style dress with a slit on the side that snaked its way halfway up her thigh.
"You look great," Pansy said, giving Millicent a nervous smile. "Gregory is just going to die when he sees you." Millicent and Gregory Goyle had been shyly flirting with each other for months and she'd been thrilled when he asked her to the Yule Ball.
"You really think so?" Millicent did a little spin, and the bottom of her dress flared out, catching the flickering candle light and shimmering like stardust.
"Filch'll have to follow him around with a mop the whole night so he can wipe up the drool."
Millicent laughed and Pansy couldn't help but laugh with her. "What about me?" Pansy asked, standing up so Millicent could see her whole outfit.
Not known for her subtlety and tact, Millicent couldn't hide the look of disgust from her face very well. "It's different, isn't it? You look..." Pansy knew that Millicent was trying to find something nice to say about her chosen look. "Well, you look almost like one of those Gryffindor brats. I'm sorry, Pansy, but that color is just awful."
Pansy, much better at deception than her friend, tried to look horrified, and gave a half-hearted shrug. "There isn't really time now to change. I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it." It was hard for Pansy not to smile, when she knew she'd hit her mark with the outfit.
"If anyone says anything nasty, I'll punch them in the nose." Millicent looped her arm with Pansy's and together they strode out to the Slytherin common room where Draco and Gregory waited for them.
Draco sat with Crabbe and Goyle in the Slytherin common room, waiting for their dates for the Yule Ball to finish getting ready. Crabbe could have headed out already, since he was taking Susan Bones from Hufflepuff, but he never went anywhere without Draco, or at least Goyle. Draco should have been surprised that Crabbe had asked the plain, puffy faced firl, But it was really more surprising that she'd said yes. Plain as she may be, surely there were better options than Crabbe to go to a dance with.
A giggle floated around the corner and Draco turned to see Millicent and Pansy walking into the common room. His breath caught when he saw Pansy, and for the first time, saw her as something other than "one of the guys", as he'd always thought of her before. He couldn't place his finger on just what it was, He could tell she had done something different with her hair, though what it was he didn't know. Something about her face was different too.
Draco stood and gave a slight bow to Pansy and Millicent. "Ladies."
Crabbe and Goyle followed his movements and Draco clenched his jaw. He coulnd't help being charismatic, but never asked for an entourage. If he had, he would have picked followers that were much smarter than those two. Even Potter was able to scrounge up friends that were not only loyal, but smart. Granger drove him crazy. I mean, she wasn't even a pure blood and she was easily the top of the class. It went against everything he'd ever known. For years he'd watched her, hating her for being friends with Potter. Hating her for showing him up in class. Hating her for distracting him with the faintly vanilla scent that wafted from her curly hair when she stalked by him. Loving the way her eyes lit up when she smiled, even though it was never for him.
"You ready to go?"
Draco smiled at Pansy and held out his elbow. She slipped her hand over his arm and together they climbed the steps out of the dungeon to the great hall.
The great hall was decorated with tall evergreens, holly and candles, everything blanketed in a layer of snow. The bewitched ceiling reflecting the falling snow outside. It wasn't bad, Draco thought, though it was predictable.
"Over here Draco!" A group of guys from Durmstrang called him over and Draco and his group headed across the hall to join them.
As they crossed the room, Susan Bones ran up to them. "Hi Vincent," she said shyly.
"Oh, hi," Crabbe replied, just as shy. Draco rolled his eyes and Millicent snorted. Draco looked around the hall for Potter, Weasley and Hermione but he only spotted Weasley, sitting miserably in the corner. The corners of Draco's mouth turned up into a slight sneer seeing him sitting there alone. He'd seen Weasley arguing with both Potter and Hermione a lot this year, Maybe they'd finally told him to shove off. Draco wondered if maybe Potter had convinced Hermione to be his date for the ball. His fist balled reflexively thinking about Potter and Hermione dancing.
"Where's Krum?" Goyle asked.
"He said something about a grand entrance," said Aleksander, one of the Durmstrang boys.
Crabbe opened his mouth to say something, but a trumpet fanfare announcing the arrival of the champions interrupted him and we all looked over to the entrance. Leading the way were Fleur Delacour and a sixth year Ravenclaw boy, followed by Krum and to Draco's surprise, Hermione.
Draco's pulse quickened and his breath caught as he took in the sight of her. The curly, unruly mane of hers was tamed and smoothed with a cascade of curls framing down her face on one side. Her ruffled lavender dress fell in layers of deepening purples that swept almost to the floor. Her hand rested lightly on Krum's and her eyes sparkled with pure joy. Draco imagined her hand resting on his like that and his skin tingled at the idea.
The orchestra struck up a tune and Draco's gaze followed Krum and Hermione as they twirled around the dance floor. He was vaguely aware that others were also dancing, but he scarcely paid them any mind. Draco watched as Krum dipped his mouth close to her ear and then as Hermione threw her head back in a laugh. His heart ached as he strained to hear even a whisper of the laugh, but it was drown under the waves of music and conversation.
"Do you want to dance?" Pansy asked, placing her hand on Draco's forearm. Draco wrenched his gaze away from Hermione and looked at Pansy, taking a few seconds to register what she had said.
"Dance? Yeah, sure." Draco took her hand and lead her out to the dance floor. To his credit, he managed to keep his eyes on her the whole time, though his senses were focused on the other pair of dancers. He kept catching glimpses of her in his peripheral and he began to get annoyed at it. He wasn't a lovesick puppy, Pansy was striking and moreover, she wasn't oblivious to him. With effort, he pulled his attention to the girl in front of him.
After a few dances, the distraction of Hermione got to be too much and he bowed out of dancing to take a seat. Pansy looked a little crestfallen, but smiled at him and said she could use a break too. They sat at a table against the wall and watched the mash of bodies as they jumped up and down to an upbeat song that started playing. Draco noticed with grim satisfaction that Potter and Weasley, as well as their dates, the Patel sisters, were sitting a few tables down, all of them looking miserable.
Less than a minute after they sat down, Crabbe and Goyle joined them, Millicent and Susan in tow. Susan looked a little uneasy, sitting at a table full of Slytherin students, almost like she was a lamb amongst a pack of wolves. Draco's innate ability to zero in on weakness picked up on her apprehension and his tongue armed with a barb ready to throw at her. He found, however, that his heart wasn't in it that night and he let the cutting insult die on his tongue without being voiced. Pansy leaned over to Susan and for a second, Draco thought that she was picking up his slack, but she instead complimented Susan's dress.
When the song ended, some boys from Durmstrang and their dancing partners joined Draco's group at the table. There weren't enough chairs at the table for everyone to sit so Crabbe, Goyle and Aleks pushed two tables together. Draco's gaze wandered while they arranged the seating, inevitably finding Hermione and Krum as they left the dance floor laughing and smiling. Krum left her standing by Potter and Weasley – who's dates had abandoned them – and headed over to the table of refreshments. Draco watched her sit down with Potter and Weasley to talk. He couldn't hear what they said, but he could clearly see the sneer on Weasley's face and Hermione's angry response.
Draco tensed, ready to go over and clock Weasley in the face for whatever he had said to upset Hermione. He often felt like cursing or punching Weasley, though this was the first time he'd had the urge to do so in defense of Hermione. As chummy as the two of them were, Draco never thought he'd have to defend Hermione against Weasley. Just be fore he stood to go intervene, she stood up and stalked a few paces away. She turned to say one final thing then stormed over to the refreshment table to meet up with Krum.
Drinks in hand, Krum lead Hermione over to the table where Draco and the others were sitting. Krum sat down first, next to Aleks, leaving the only empty seat next to Draco. Hermione, her eyes still filled with fire, glared at Draco, sat down and turned away from him. The vanilla scent drifted from her hair and Draco inhaled deeply.
"He's a manky git." Draco blurted out, unable to stop himself.
"Who?" Asked Goyle, who'd been shoveling some cake in his mouth and not watching the scene that had transpired at Potter's table.
Draco looked at the back of Hermione's head. "Weasley."
Hermione whipped her head around to look at Draco. "What?" She demanded in her haughtiest voice. Millicent laughed, Pansy's jaw dropped, but she snapped it back shut and sat back in her chair sulking.
"Nothing," Draco muttered, then became interested in the shimmery white paisley pattern on the table cloth in front of him.
Hermione glared at him for a moment, then her face softened and she smiled slightly. "He is being a git, isn't he?"
Draco glanced up and saw for the first time, that Hermione was smiling at him. It wasn't a grin, it was just a slight upturning at the corners of her mouth, but it was for him. His heart raced, the blood pounding in his ears so that he didn't hear the next thing she said.
"What was that?" Draco asked.
"I said 'do you think you're ready for your O-W-Ls next year'." Hermione said, smiling at him again, this time a little more than before.
Draco hadn't even thought about the OWLs yet. It was only the middle of fourth year and the OWLs didn't take place until almost the end of fifth year. Habit tried to force itself and he almost made a crack about Hermione being an egghead but at the last second he bit off the snarky comment and decided to lie instead. "Oh yeah, I've been studying for weeks."
Hermione beamed at him and the third smile made him felt lighter than air. High on the feeling, he leaned forward, letting his hand brush slightly against hers. She looked down at where their hands touched, but didn't pull hers away. The band started playing a slow song and Draco drummed up his courage. "Listen, Hermione," he licked his lips, his throat suddenly dry. "Would you like to–"
"Herm-own-ninny, want to dance?" Krum turned to Hermione and held out his hand. Hermione gave Draco a sweet, almost regretful fourth smile and lifted her hand from the table, breaking the contact with Draco's hand and taking Krum's.
Like lemmings, the other Durmstrang boys lead their girls out on the dance floor. Never one to pout in a corner, Draco stood and held his hand out to Pansy. She regarded him for a moment then slowly took his hand, but her eyes had lost the light that they held at the beginning of the night.
The rest of the evening was spent alternating between dancing and people watching, but Draco didn't get another chance to talk with Hermione. When they were all sitting at the same time, she was always too far away to really have a conversation.
Slowly the dance floor started to empty and couples broke apart and went to their dorms. Pansy and Millicent went back to the Slytherin dorms, Crabbe and Goyle escorting them at Draco's request. Draco sat alone at the table, nursing a butter beer and watching Hermione out the corner of his eye. Throughout the night he'd been riding high, euphoric with the smiles she'd given him – twelve in total – and he was loath to return to the dorm before he got another chance to really sit and talk to her.
When the next song ended it finally looked as though he would get his chance. Krum stood stalwart before her, held her hand and bowed low to place a light kiss on her fingers. Krum and Aleks then headed out of the castle to the Durmstrang ship. Draco stood to approach Hermione and saw that he'd not been the only one watching. Weasley jumped up to follow Hermione out of the great hall, the sour grapes look still on his face. Weasley said something that Draco missed, but he could see that Hermione was upset. Draco quickened his pace so he could try to catch their conversation this time.
"How dare you?" Hermione said. "Besides, I can take care of myself."
Her indignation rang out clear and Draco's fist balled again.
"I doubt it, he's way to old." Weasley walked faster out of the room, his anger giving him speed.
"What? That's what you think?" Hermione chased after him, raising her voice. "Well you know the solution then." She caught up to him at the base of the stairs and Draco hung back, watching from the door where he could clearly hear them. "Next time there's a ball, pluck up the courage to ask me before someone else does. And not as a last resort!"
Hermione was close to tears and Weasleby, coward that he was, headed towards the stairs, stammering. "Well that's – that's just – that's completely off the point."
Potter picked this moment to return from the restroom and Hermione turned her ire on him. "Where have you been?" She didn't wait for a response. "Never mind. Off to bed both of you."
Potter glanced between Hermione and Weasley, lost as to what had just happened, and joined Weasley at the stairs. Hermione turned away from them, wiping a tear from her eye.
"They get scary when they get older," Weasley muttered to Potter as they started up the stairs. Draco gritted his teeth and reached for his wand, ready to make Weasley pay for everything he'd done that night to upset Hermione, but his wand of course, was back in his dorm.
"Ron, you spoiled everything!" Hermione went up a few steps but Potter and Weasley ran off. Defeated she sank to sit on the stairs crying. As Draco approached she kicked off her shoes and pulled her feet under the hem of her dress. Draco sat down on the stairs next to her and for a while she didn't even notice he was there. Belatedly, he pulled the handkerchief from the breast pocket of his dress robes and held it out for her.
"Here," Draco said quietly when she didn't notice it either.
Hermione looked up and when she saw him her face crumpled and more tears spilled out. Draco wrapped his arms around her and held her while she sobbed. He knew there was no chance he'd ever win her, because she wouldn't be this upset if she didn't truly love Ron, but he was happy to comfort her. Hermione let him hold her and after a while the tears subsided. When she calmed down she sat up straight and he let his arms fall.
"I take it back," said Draco. "He's not a git he's a twat."
Hermione laughed and wiped tears from her cheeks. Draco smiled at her entranced by the laugh that he caused.
"Thank you Draco," She tilted her head down a little and looked at him through her lashes. "You've been really sweet to me tonight."
She gave him a thirteenth smile, this one coy and sweet and Draco took the chance that he knew he wouldn't get again. He lifted his hand and cupped her face, lacing the tips of his fingers into her hair. She lifted her face up to him and he knew she wouldn't pull away. Draco leaned forward, closed his eyes and kissed her. Hermione sat motionless for a second, then she kissed him back, tentatively reaching up to gently stroke her fingers along his chin and down to his collar bone. Yearning surged through him and he buried his fingers into her curls, pulling her even harder against his lips.
When the need to breath overtook the need to taste her, he released her lips and leaned his forehead against hers. Hermione's breathing was fast and heavy, mirroring his own and they stayed on the stairs locked together trying to cool off.
"I better get on up to bed," Hermione said at last, straightening and staring into his eyes. "I suppose tomorrow we'll be back to being horrible to each other?"
Draco gave a wry smile. "Yeah, I suppose so."
"You foul, loathsome, evil little cockaroach." Hermione smiled sadly. Draco counted it, even though it wasn't a happy smile.
"You filthy little mudblood." Draco said back, and leaned forward again to kiss her on the cheek.
Hermione stood and walked up the stairs to Gryffindor tower. Draco watched her until she glanced back and gave him one last smile. Fifteen, he thought smiling to himself and headed down to the Slytherin dorms.