Inspired by: Karen Khatchaturian's Masquerade Suite: Waltz
As the day was nearing to an end Hermione took sluggish steps towards the floo network with a desire to do nothing more but lay in bed. Her fingers tapped her growling stomach with silent promises of food to come. Her smile was distant as she bid passing coworkers a good night. The woman's mind reeled with various thoughts of the day's outcome. She'd had lunch with Harry and that was quite lovely since they'd both been so busy. Ron stopped by her office in the late afternoon and dropped off a chocolate frog with an invitation to the burrow of his engagement party.
Hermione smiled to herself at the thought of her Ron being engaged. It was rather romantic and uncharacteristic of her long time friend. When he'd first told her he'd fallen for Luna she'd been over the moon in happiness for him. And now they were getting married. It seemed that their lives were all going in the directions they wanted. Harry had been graced with the top ranking position in terms of his Auror career and she herself was currently head of the Cursed Magical Items Department.
The elevator opened and Hermione promptly stepped through. Surprise arose in her eyes as Draco Malfoy stepped in right after. She hadn't even realized he was near. Draco nodded in her direction before moving to stand beside her, his hand already gripping the banister up top. She'd smiled with a nod as he did so and kept her gaze fixed on the doors.
"What's in the bag?" His voice was curious and she blinked a few moments before realizing the question was directed at her. She really was awfully tired.
Glancing down, she shifted the bag slightly in her arm before pursing her lips in thought. The latest cursed object that was currently in her possession was a curious one. It seemed to be a sort of music box that she hadn't been able to open yet. It was small in size and made of ivory. There was a little window under the lid that revealed tiny couple figurines. She figured they danced when the music began but she hadn't been able to test out her theory.
"I think it's a music box. Harry found it on one of his latest round ups. It doesn't seem to be dangerous as I've checked for any charms that may have been placed on it. So I'm taking it home to work on. I'm terribly curious as to what it does."
As the elevator halted, Hermione realized her grip wasn't as sturdy as she'd thought. The sudden whiplash caused the bag to fall. She would've followed suit had it not been for Draco's hand on her forearm holding her steady.
Bloody fantastic, she thought.
"Thank you, Malfoy."
He bent down to take hold of the bag and frowned at the rattling noise. Cool, silver eyes looked up to the woman. Hermione in turn frowned, leaning in very slightly as he offered the bag to her. "It may be broken now."
She hummed in disappointed agreement. They walked out of the elevator; Draco's hands nestled inside his trouser pockets while Hermione reached inside the bag. He assessed her silently in hope to offer a theory once he got to see the item in question. It was how their odd relationship worked. Draco was usually content to keep to himself but working as a field curse breaker tended to lead the wizard to Hermione from time to time. Carefully she pulled out the cracked music box and dropped the bag on the floor. The young man shifted his stance towards her as he took in the sight of the music box. It was regal looking. He was quite impressed with the craftsmanship of it.
"I don't suppose you have any glue on you?
Draco frowned, uncertain as to why Hermione snorted with a shake of her head. "It's a muggle thing, never you mind."
Hermione opened the lid to reveal a series of golden coils with a matching music movement in the center and smaller turn tables to the side of it. The mechanics of it all was absolutely breathtaking and she wondered why such a box would have been left behind.
"Hmm, how curious. It doesn't wind up like a regular music box." Her dainty fingers gripped a golden string. She took one look at Draco who kept his gaze on the device. With a gentle tug the box came to life. A soft melody began to play. She lifted the contraption and watched in amazement as the couples began to spin. There was something curious about the figurines—a certain couple specifically. The male had silver hair and his female counterpart had long brown locks. It was as though…
"Malfoy…do those figurines look—,"
It was sudden, the pull her body felt. A murderous scream radiated through the air. Down and down she fell, through the darkness, unable to grip anything to prevent a sudden crash. Her heart hammered against her chest as she frantically strained to see through the caliginous proximity. Finally, she landed on her feet with surprising grace. Her once dark surroundings began to spin as golden light filled the atmosphere. Hermione could now make out what sort of room she'd been placed in. It was an extravagant ballroom with cream colored walls and golden patterns spiraling out where the walls met. Long, heavy curtains adorned the enormous windows with their intricate stitching. Her eyes widened at the painted ceilings as though she were staring straight into the heavens. The floor was marble, a darker shade of gold than that of the walls. It was so smooth that Hermione could make out her reflection just as she would with a mirror.
That was when she saw it, the dress that hugged her frame. Her gloved fingers brushed over the white bodice that was covered with small cream flowers. The tulle that extended to the floor began in white and very subtly ended in hues of soft purples and blues. It was the most gorgeous dress she'd even worn. Unable to impede her curiosity, she spun in place, bubbling laughter breaking through the silence of the enormous ballroom. As the echoes died down she grew still.
Where was Draco?
Soft violins could suddenly be heard, a rhythmic drum following behind. Slowly it grew louder as trumpets and flutes joined the melody. Hermione turned every which way as twinkling lights began to appear. It seemed like pixie dust, she thought while tentatively reaching out to touch a string of one. It glided out of her proximity, dancing through the air before it surrounded her for the briefest of moments, gathering to her left soon after. The light faded before bursting. In its wake it left a couple who were dressed similar to her. They smiled at the witch, bowing before gliding across the floor to the rhythm of the music. Hermione noted various explosions of light in the room, each repeating its first effects. Soon the room was filled with an array of waltzing couples, just like that of the music box.
Bodies spun around Hermione causing her to grow a bit dizzy from it all as she tried to follow their movements, hoping to see familiar faces amongst the crowd. The melody grew louder as the drums began to blare out. Her stomach churned, anxiety seeping into her bones. For all the logic she possessed, she simply could not fathom what in Merlin's name was happening to her. Lifting the tulle of her dress, she tried her best to walk past the crowd but soon found it impossible.
"Please! Someone tell me where I am," she pleaded, eyes scanning the strange faces of dancers who could only look at her in a passing glance with a smile, eyes twinkling with a knowing she was unaware of.
No one answered. Instead, the people continued to dance, merriment filling the air. Spinning and spinning, Hermione placed a gloved hand on her head, brows furrowed in confusion as she strained to get a grip on reality. But just as soon as the perplexity of it all began, it faded. Suddenly she noted how everyone in the room stopped dancing. The music grew softer and the men placed a hand on their female counterpart's waist. A multitude of eyes focused their stare directly at Hermione.
"This isn't real. It makes no sense," she softly spoke, hoping someone would confirm her suspicions. Rather than stifle her concern the crowd began to part like the Red Sea, every other couple stepping to the opposite side of one another as the music grew louder once more. And there, as the last of the couples parted stood a lone man who Hermione instantly recognized. His platinum locks were slicked back. He wore a black suit with a gold strip going down on either side of his trousers. His right arm was bent behind his back while the other rested at his side. The young witch watched as he took rhythmic steps towards her. The couples who observed closed in behind him once more, eyes never faltering from them as they encircled the duo. It was absolutely maddening.
As Draco neared, Hermione summoned her Gryffindor courage, wishing she'd know where her wand was. Those luminescent eyes of his drew her in and before Hermione could gather her bearings the wizard stood before her. He regarded her in silence for a long moment before his lips twitched up in the faintest of smiles. Draco offered her a deep bow and held out his hand to her. Hermione was sure she was gaping at the scene she currently witnessed. Her cheeks grew warm at the daunting realization that Draco Malfoy was asking her to dance.
Without really meaning to she placed her hand in his and swiftly she was pressed against him. One of his hands gripped her own while the other rested under her shoulder blade. She hadn't the faintest idea how to waltz and just as she was about to voice that bit of truth they were moving. A sudden familiarity spread through her limbs—one that hadn't been there before. Her movements matched his in perfect synchronization as though their bodies recognized one another. Fascinated, she looked to Draco who continued to watch her silently. Around them couples spun in the same manner as the song continued on. It was then that Hermione realized the song hadn't changed since she'd arrived…since she'd opened the music box!
That was it!
"Malfoy! I think I know what's happened!" She frowned, hoping he would break the silence. It was so unlike him, really. Though they weren't exactly friends, working in the Ministry on occasion through the years seemed to simmer down any sort of hostility they held for one another during their Hogwarts years. They hardly ever conversed and when they did it was with the mere purpose of exchanging theories on objects they weren't able to solve. To be in such close proximity suddenly felt lovely.
There was something about the way they were swaying to the music that calmed her. And though she did note that he never responded to her, she couldn't bother to care. Instead, she closed her eyes and sighed out, letting the sweet, thick air that seemed to engulf them take over her senses. The whimsical music continued on and she soon found Draco gripping her petit waist, lifting her in the air. She gasped, clutching his wrists and noting how the other couples soon mimicked their own movements. He placed her down then and continued to sway, that same, faint smile never leaving his lips. He had the tenderest of looks on his features and Hermione wondered how any man could have such a spellbinding stare.
He pressed her closer to his body while his hand went up to cup the side of her face. His fingers felt warm and left tingling sensations on her skin as he softly stroked it. He spun them once, twice before stopping, his eyes completely fixed on hers. For the briefest of moments his gaze faltered to her lips and Hermione mimicked his gesture, her eyes fixated with a sudden desire. She wondered how they would feel on hers. Draco must have wondered the same for no sooner the thought crossed her mind did she feel his lips on her own.
Draco kissed her tentatively, eyes open as hers closed. Hermione thought she might implode in that very moment. It'd been so long since she felt the kiss of a man and Merlin help her did he taste heavenly. Both hands now cupped her face as he deepened the kiss, tongue rasping out against her bottom flesh, begging to be let into her mouth for a taste. She complied willingly. And as they kissed the riveting melody descended into an Adagio stance.
Soft, gentle, rhythmic and alluring.
As oxygen became scare in her lungs, she placed her gloved hands on his chest and broke the kiss. Grinning like a fool Draco took her hands once more and resumed their waltz positions. Around and around they spun, faster than before.
The music began to shift into another sort of waltz. Hermione frowned at the strumming harp that seemed to dance around her ears. The melody had a sinister feel to it and the very notion caused Hermione's earlier anxiety to take fold once more. The trumpets blared out in a warning declaration of impending danger. The witch stumbled in her steps as any knowledge of dancing left her unable to continue her graceful movements. Logic began to burst into her mind, knocking against her skull. It felt like someone had given her a very potent Pepperup potion.
She broke away from Draco and realized the dark stares all the couples surrounding them were administering as if they'd known whatever spell she and her male counterpart had been placed under was dwindling. Draco frowned, his left hand coming to rest on his temple. The sudden dissonance of the music seemed to pull him out of his stupor. He set his wary gaze on the witch, the frown only deepening.
"Granger…what in Salazar's name is happening?"
"Malfoy—," despite her better judgment she gripped his clothed chest, the duo pulling together as the circle around them grew smaller. The violins screeched while the clarinets let out a high-pitched wail. Draco clutched Hermione's hand tightly and pushed through the crowd with all his strength.
Soft whispers filled their ears as they made their way to the window.
"Betrayal. Betrayal. Betrayal."
Draco made an abrupt stop before the windows. Hermione had been so distracted with the murderous glares that she stumbled right into his back. "Granger, look! Does the view seem familiar?" The woman in question placed both palms against the window pane, eyes growing wide in realization. "We're inside the music box!"
Without another second to spare Draco took hold of a nearby chair and smashed it against the glass. Behind them the music grew louder and louder until Hermione had to cover her ears from the sheer pain of it. The glass began to crack as the wizard repeated his movements. The crowd grew nearer still and Hermione knew that if they got any closer they would surely do something deadly to the pair. She noted a long, golden pillar to the side of her that held a candle at the top. Making quick use of it she gripped the object and began making stabbing motions at the spectators.
With a grunt Draco crashed the chair against the weakening surface. The window shattered and soon the entire room began to crack along with it. Hermione dropped the pillar and gripped Draco's hand once more. The wizard looked down at their clasped hands with curious eyes. A tug pulled him from his stupor, glancing up at Hermione. Despite their current conundrum he took a brief moment to note how beautiful Hermione looked despite her disheveled state. He wondered then, why she and Ron hadn't ended up together like he thought they would. And now that he was on the subject of her love life, he wondered why she didn't have a current beau. Though really, who was he to ask? Draco didn't bother with folly romances these days, not after his mother's untimely death. Instead, he immersed himself in his work. Maybe Hermione did the same.
"Draco! On the count of three we jump!"
The man blinked several times, chancing a look behind him and instantly regretting it. The music that once rendered them to dance like puppets was no longer harmonious. The crowd that grew nearer we no longer elegant, instead, their faces and arms were marred with cracks much like the walls of the ballroom.
"One," Hermione laced her fingers through his.
"Two," Draco breathed as he looked over at the female, silver eyes wide.
"Three!" Together they jumped through the window. Just as they were initially pulled in, they felt the sudden drop, descending into an abyss. This time however the duo held onto each other for dear life. Hermione tucked her head into Draco's neck, his own arms encircling around her waist as they felt the pull.
"Merlin, woman! Your mane is going to suffocate me." The man strained his head away from the riot of locks that slapped him incessantly. Had Hermione not been holding on for her dear life she would've hexed him. Instead, she merely mumbled an apology.
The duo gasped as they landed on the Ministry floors with a thud. Hermione was the first to recover, crawling on shaky limbs as she reached the music box. The object mimicked the state of the ballroom. Hairline cracks now decorated all sides of the box. The glass window under the lid was broken and the figurines that resembled the witch and wizard were gone. Brown eyes danced with curisority as they glance over at Draco who was dusting himself off. He reached into the pockets of his robes, sighing out in relief at the feel of his wand.
"That…was strange," she breathed.
Draco shook his head in disbelief. He offered her a hand which she gratefully took and helped the witch stand on her feet once more. There was an air of awkward silence as the two mentally assessed the night's events. Whatever apology Hermione prepared in her mind, she found she had to swallow it as Draco took a step away from her.
"Right then. See you around, Granger."
Without sparing another glance Hermione watched as Draco grew further away. She closed her eyes and prayed that the floors would swallow her up right then and there.
1 Week Later
Hermione gripped a folder to her chest. She stared at the wooden door that blocked her view of Draco. After the previous week's activities Hermione avoided Draco like the plague. She purposely arrived at her office earlier so that she could leave before the rush of the evening. Hermione was certain the wizard was doing the same. And could she blame him? After all, they'd kissed! The simple memory of it caused her cheeks to grow warm. She huffed with creased brows.
It was a silly kiss that was done under the spell of the music box and being embarrassed when they had every right to feel victimized was silly. With a firm nod she took a deep breath and knocked on his door. It only took a brief moment before surprised silver eyes met hers.
"Granger...may I help you?"
"I wanted to share what I found. I...I've been doing a bit of research on the music box and I've found its origin."
Draco stepped aside, arm stretching out so that she would go inside his office. Carefully, Hermione stepped through the threshold. She instantly noted his scent lingering within every corner of the room. It brought on the memory of his body pressed to hers and just as briefly as it came alive within her mind did she banish it. She took a seat in one of the chairs that stood before his desk and Draco sat on the corner of the surface. His gaze was so intense that Hermione had to look away lest she blush.
"Right, well," she cleared her throat and opened the folder to reveal a picture of a man. She handed the photograph to Draco, shivering when their fingers touched. "That man is Karen Khatchaturian. He was a famous composer while the Soviet Union ruled in what is now considered Russia. He'd commissioned the music box to play his Masquerade suite. Apparently the song itself is composed with a series of spells."
"You mean to say that he was a wizard?" Draco's stare lingered on the man for a moment longer before settling his attention on the Hermione.
"Yes, that is exactly what I mean. He gave the music box to his sweetheart. Yet he never told her that as long as she did not break her vows to him while they were apart she would remain safe. Unbeknownst to the woman though was that the music box trapped you within it if you failed to stay true. I don't know why we were sucked into it, really. I reckon the fall may have caused it to malfunction. In any case, I wanted you to know since this inadvertently became your business as much as it was mine."
The wizard was silent for a long moment, fingers drumming absentmindedly on his desk. He noted how uncomfortable Hermione was probably feeling and as a result let the faintest of smirks quirk. "So where does that leave us now, Granger?"
Hermione froze at his question. A single, elegant brow rose. "I fail to see what you mean, Malfoy."
With pursed lips, Draco pushed himself off the desk and placed both hands on either side of Hermione's seat, effectively trapping her in place. The woman leaned back, eyes wide in disbelief. It suddenly felt like déjà vu as her eyes rested on his lips. All she could fathom was having a taste of him again-a feeling that hadn't been there until the night she'd kissed him.
"You wound me, Granger." His eyes flickered to her lips for a single moment before that emotive stare of his returned to Hermione. "I think it's time we talk about the kiss. I haven't been cornering you because I don't want you to feel pressured, but I must confess whatever the reason was for the kiss, I've failed to rid the memory from my mind. How will you fix this conundrum of mine?"
Hermione's laughter rang out between them. Her cheeks warmed and Draco had the biggest urge to brush his fingers over the soft-looking skin. He couldn't remember why he'd been so cruel to her in their school days, couldn't fathom as to why he never bothered to befriend her until now when he'd had the memory of her lips seared into his skin. All he knew was that there was something she'd awoken in him and he wanted to explore that thoroughly.
"What did you have in mind, Malfoy?" Her breath trickled over his lips as she spoke. He could smell her fragrance and found it absolutely enthralling. "I want to take you dancing." He was delighted as she laughed, shoulders sagging in a more comfortable demeanor.
"I didn't take you as a dancer. I have to be perfectly honest with you, that spell was what helped me. I don't know a thing about waltzing."
Draco grinned, eyes twinkling with mischief at her words. "Lucky for you I'm quite well versed in the subject."
Excitement coursed through Hermione's veins. She'd never felt adept at flirting as she did now. Draco made it exceptionally easy. "Well, lucky for you I'm a magnificent student."
There was a brief silence between them, their eyes interlocked as they leaned further into one other, lips hovering closely until finally, they pressed against each other, moving slowly as they mapped out every crevice of each other's skin.
They didn't notice that while they lost themselves in pure unadulterated bliss, the picture of the Wizard that sat idly on Draco's desk began to smile, his familiar melody beginning to play subtly within the confines of Draco's office.