A/N - This is just another fluffy one shot, with a slight seasonal feel since it's set at The Yule Ball. Enjoy!
On the afternoon of the Yule Ball, Hermione Granger remained in the Gryffindor common room with her two best friends, rather than rushing off to get ready like the majority of the other girls. It wasn't that Hermione wasn't looking forward to the Yule Ball, because she was, it was just that she had no desire to spend hours getting ready. She would of course take some time to try and look her best, but she didn't think it took almost a whole day to get ready for one evening.
"Shouldn't you be upstairs getting ready?" Ron Weasley asked Hermione, who seemed content to read by the fire while he and Harry tried to settle their nerves via a game of chess.
"There's still plenty of time," Hermione replied as she checked the time. "It's not like you and Harry are rushing off to get ready."
"Yeah, but we're boys, we don't take as long to get ready," Ron argued. "All the others girls have been getting ready for hours."
"But what does that have to do with me?" Hermione asked.
"It's just strange," Ron said with a shrug. "Although, if you're just putting off going to get ready because you've got no date, you can tell us Hermione."
Hermione growled in frustration at Ron's implication. For the last week he'd been implying she had no date, just because she was choosing to remain quiet about who she was attending the Yule Ball with. It didn't matter how many times she told Ron she had a date, he just didn't believe her.
"As I've made it clear dozens of times before, I do have a date for this evening," Hermione spat through clenched teeth.
"There's no shame in not having a date," Ron said. "I bet there's dozens of people going to be there without a date."
"But I will not be one of them," Hermione snapped as she rose to her feet. "I have a date, and I did not need my best friend to sort it for me."
Ron flushed a deep shade of red when Hermione brought up the fact he only had a date for the evening thanks to Harry. He'd been unsuccessful in finding his own date, so Harry had helped him and arranged for them to attend the Yule Ball with the Patil twins, Parvati and Padma.
"Okay you two, no need to get personal," Harry Potter called, stepping in between his two friends before either of them could say something they would later regret.
"I'm not the one getting personal," Ron snarled. "It's not my fault Hermione is taking her bad mood out on me because no-one asked her to the Yule Ball. I bet she's just going to spend the night in her room."
"You'll be eating your words when I turn up at the Yule Ball with a great looking wizard on my arm," Hermione shot back. "Now of you'll both excuse me, I've got a date to prepare for."
Turning on her heel, Hermione stalked from the common room. As she went, she heard Harry scolding Ron for his attitude towards her. Not that she thought it would make the slightest bit of difference to Ron, as he'd always been fast to flare up where Hermione was concerned. Sometimes Hermione felt she just had to breathe to wind Ron up. Although she would admit that sometimes she didn't help matters as she sometimes lost her cool with Ron when he was being particularly frustrating.
Shaking her head to rid herself of negative thoughts, Hermione headed into the fourth year's dorm rooms where the other girls were getting ready. Grabbing her things, she headed into the bathroom to grab a quick shower. For the Yule Ball, Hermione had bought some hair potion to tame her curls and she spent ten minutes applying the potion and turning her normally bushy hair into a cascade of sleek curls.
"I really should do this more often," she muttered to herself as she carefully pinned her hair up and left a few tendrils around her face. It would only add another quarter of an hour to her morning routine, and if she was being honest it wasn't hurt to spend fifteen minutes less on her school work.
With her hair sorted, Hermione headed back into the bedroom and slid into the periwinkle blue dress she'd bought for the Yule Ball. The dress fitted her perfectly, and she smoothed out the material, Hermione for once felt like as though she was attractive.
"Wow Hermione, you look lovely," Parvati gushed from across the room. "Doesn't she look great, Lav."
"You do," Lavender Brown agreed. "Would you like us to help you with your make-up?"
"I don't want too much," Hermione said warily. Since she knew very little about make-up she appreciated the offer, but she didn't want to look ridiculous and overly made-up.
"You don't need much," Parvati said. "You've got such lovely skin. A few bits will enhance your looks perfectly."
"Okay then, thank you," Hermione replied, crossing over the room and putting herself in the hands of Parvati and Lavender.
Parvati and Lavender kept their word and with only a small bit of make-up they enhanced Hermione's natural good looks. A bit of mascara highlighted her warm brown eyes, some blush gave her cheeks some definition and a layer of pale lip gloss made her lips shimmer temptingly.
"Lovely," Lavender announced as she stepped back to admire their work. "Your date is going to be blown away, Hermione."
"Let's hope so," Hermione replied in a whisper. The truth was, the nearer it was getting to the start of the Yule Ball the more nervous she was getting, particularly because of who her date was.
"We're off," Parvati announced as she and Lavender picked up their evening bags. "Are you coming Hermione?"
"I'll be down shortly," Hermione said. "I've still got my bag to sort."
"Don't forget the lip-gloss," Lavender advised. "And keep popping to the bathroom to reapply throughout the night."
"I will thanks," Hermione said as the two girls headed out of the dorms in high spirits.
It took Hermione less than five minutes to slip on her low heeled shoes and sort her bag, which hung around her wrist and matched the colour of her dress. However, instead of leaving right away, she sat down on her bed and tried to soothe her nerves. Mainly she tried to convince herself that the evening would go well and she wouldn't make a complete fool of herself.
The truth was, there was a part of Hermione that was worried that everything was going to go wrong and she would end up being the laughing stock of the entire school. As much as she believed her date had been genuine when he asked her out, part of her knew it might just have been a prank. He might have deliberately being setting her up to look like a fool, and Hermione had just been naïve enough to believe him when he swore he was genuinely asking her out. She might end up either showing up to the Yule Ball alone, in which case Ron would gloat about it for months, or she might end up being totally humiliated when her date publically scorned her.
"Or you might have the night of your life," Hermione muttered, trying to build herself up.
For all the possible negative outcomes, there was the strong possibility that her date had been genuine in asking her out and they would end up having a good time. Hermione was choosing to believe in the second option, as unless her date was a bloody good actor, he'd been genuinely nervous in asking her out. In fact it was his obvious nerves that had convinced Hermione that he was genuine, and prompted her to say yes to the date.
Knowing she couldn't sit in her room all night, unless she wanted to prove Ron right, Hermione plucked up the courage to leave the bedroom. When she entered the common room, she saw no sign of her friends, although the Weasley twins were just getting ready to leave with their dates, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet.
"Wow Hermione, you look great," Fred remarked with a low whistle.
"Beautiful," George agreed.
"Thanks," Hermione replied with a slight blush.
"So who's the lucky wizard?" Angelina asked.
"You'll see shortly," Hermione replied.
"Ooh a mystery, how fun," George laughed.
Hermione left the common room with the foursome, but when they reached the top of the main staircase, Hermione let the twins and their dates go on ahead while she gathered herself. Taking a few deep breaths, Hermione approached the top of the stairs and gazed down at the students milling in the front hallway. Most people were making their way into the Great Hall, but several people were still meeting up with their dates. Hermione spotted Harry and Ron standing with the Patil twins, but she continued searching the crowds for the wizard she was supposed to be meeting.
Just as Hermione thought her worries had been right and she'd been stood up, a group of older students moved towards the Great Hall and she spotted her date standing near the bottom of the stairs. Hermione took a moment to look at her date, thinking how handsome he looked in his perfect black dress robes. As if sensing he was being watched, he suddenly looked up and Hermione found herself staring into the deep grey eyes of Draco Malfoy. Ever so slowly a corner of Draco's mouth curved upwards in a half smile, instantly settling Hermione's nerves.
Smiling back at the blond Slytherin, Hermione took a deep breath and descended the stairs. Draco was waiting to meet her when she got to the bottom and his half smile had turned into a full one. Hermione noted that it wasn't a smirk, it was a genuine smile and in her opinion he looked all the better for it.
"Malfoy," Hermione greeted.
"Granger," Draco greeted quietly. "You look amazing."
"Thank you," Hermione replied. "You look very nice yourself."
"I know," Draco replied, his lips transforming into the familiar smirk she knew all too well.
"It's nice to see you're so modest," Hermione replied with a roll of her eyes. Although if she was honest she quite admired the self believe Draco had in himself.
"Modesty isn't a trait I possess," Draco replied honestly. "Sorry."
"Don't be sorry," Hermione said. "Maybe you could just try and keep your ego in check tonight."
"I can do that," Draco said with a nod of his head. "Shall we go into the Great Hall?"
Before Hermione could answer, McGonagall's voice cut through the hallway, calling for the four champions and ordering everyone else into the Great Hall.
"Are you ready?" Draco asked, offering Hermione's his arm.
"I am," Hermione replied as she slid her own arm through Draco's and they joined the students heading towards the Great Hall. Although she wasn't sure if she was ready for the evening ahead, or the stares that would inevitable come their way when people realised they were together.
Sure enough the young couple had no sooner entered the Great Hall than the whispering began. Hermione could feel people's eyes on her and she spotted Ron standing with Padma, his mouth wide open in utter shock. Hermione saw Padma say something to Ron, but he merely shook his head, his eyes never leaving Hermione. Tearing her attention away from Ron, Hermione noticed Pansy Parkinson was glaring at her from another part of the room. Pansy was hanging onto Theo Nott's arm, but judging from the looks she was giving her, Hermione suspected she would rather be with Draco.
Draco was just as aware of the attention on them, but he ignored it as he steered Hermione over to where his friends Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass were standing. Blaise and Daphne were the most tolerant of his friends, and they were the only people he'd confided in about who he would be attending the Yule Ball with.
"Nice entrance," Blaise said with a smirk. "You've well and truly upstaged the champions."
"I doubt that," Draco answered, although he could feel people still watching him and Hermione even once the champions had been announced and started to enter the room.
Standing at Draco's side, Hermione focused on the champions as they entered the room with their partners. Harry was the last champion to enter and Hermione could see his nerves as he guided Parvati to the dance floor. It had been announced that the champions would begin the dancing and Hermione could see Harry's terror from where she stood.
"Bloody hell, I think this is the scariest thing I've ever seen," Blaise muttered once the dancing began. "Potter can't dance to save his life."
"He's as stiff as a board," Draco agreed in amusement.
Hermione wanted to argue and stick up for her best friend, but even she had to admit Blaise and Draco were right. Harry could not dance in the slightest and she felt sorry for poor Parvati being subjected to such torment. Harry was as rigid as a board and Hermione spotted him standing on Parvati's toes several times.
Mercifully the Professors didn't make the champions dance the entire song by themselves. Part way through the song, Professor Dumbledore led Professor McGonagall onto the floor, which prompted everyone else who wanted to dance to join the action.
"Do you want to dance?" Draco asked Hermione. "I promise I can do it better than Potter."
"To be fair, you would be hard pushed to find someone worse," Hermione chuckled as she took hold of Draco's hand and let him lead her out onto the dance floor.
As it turned out, Draco wasn't lying when he said he could dance better than Harry. He was a natural and Hermione found it so easy to follow his lead and let him twirl her around the dancefloor. It was clear he'd had some serious lessons and this was not his first time dancing at a formal party.
"You're good," Hermione remarked as they spun around the room, quite happy to keep on dancing as the songs changed.
"So are you," Draco returned, giving Hermione a quick smile.
"Have you had lessons?" Hermione asked.
"It's all part of being the perfect pureblood," Draco replied casually.
"I doubt dancing with muggleborns is part of being a perfect pureblood," Hermione whispered.
"Has no-one ever told you I'm a bit of a rebel," Draco whispered, giving Hermione a mischievous wink.
Hermione laughed at Draco, as she was sure he meant her to, but she couldn't remain light hearted for too long. As much as she was enjoying herself, she had to face the fact that she and Draco came from different worlds. Dating a muggleborn wasn't something Draco could really do, so chances were this was a onetime rebellion on his part.
"Let's grab something to drink," Draco said, sensing Hermione's mood had switched.
Hermione didn't even bother to keep an eye out for Harry and Ron as she followed Draco off the dancefloor and over to the refreshment table. With a glass of punch each, Draco pulled her to the side of the room and sat down at one of the table which were dotted around the sides of the Great Hall.
"You know, I never thought you would agree to come with me tonight," Draco confided in a low voice.
"Why did you ask me then?" Hermione asked.
"I would never have been able to live with myself if I didn't at least try," Draco answered. "I figured even if I asked you and you said no, I would at least know where I stood. Otherwise I would have gone my entire life wondering what you would have said if I'd asked you."
"I did think about saying no," Hermione confessed.
"I'm not sure I would have blamed you for saying no," Draco admitted. To be honest, he was still stunned that Hermione had agreed to accompany him to the Yule Ball, even after he'd thrown himself on her mercy and begged her forgiveness for all his past behaviour.
"I was worried it might be a ploy to make me look stupid," Hermione said softly. "Even getting ready, I wasn't sure what would await me this evening."
"Why say yes if you were worried I was using you?" Draco asked curiously.
"Because the second you asked me, I wanted to say yes with every fibre of my being," Hermione replied honestly. "I don't know where it came from, but you were the only person I wanted to come with. I guess I took the chance because I believe you were genuine. You certainly seemed nervous enough."
"I was," Draco confirmed. "Asking you out was the bravest thing I've ever done, and I'm a Slytherin, I don't do brave."
"Why did you ask me out?" Hermione questioned. "I thought you hated me."
"I've never hated you," Draco said softly. "I'll admit that I tried to. I tried so hard to hate you, but I never quite did."
"Why did you want to hate me?"
"Because I didn't want to disappoint my father," Draco answered in a voice so quiet that Hermione had to lean over to hear him properly. "All my life, Father has told me that muggleborns are beneath me and don't deserve their magic. Then I met you, and you are the most amazing witch or wizard I've ever met. How can I believe you don't deserve your magic when you can wield it better than anyone else in our year?"
"By not hating me, you were going against your father and everything he ever taught you," Hermione said in understanding.
"I was, and I still am," Draco replied. "But I don't regret it. I love and respect my father, but I think on this point, he may be incorrect. You're not worth less than me, Granger. You are the bravest, scariest, and downright brilliant witch I've ever met. The fact that you're a muggleborn doesn't matter to me."
"It will matter to other people," Hermione pointed out, smiling widely at Draco's compliment. Although she was amused by the fact he'd called her scary.
"Then that's their problem," Draco answered with a shrug. "I don't want to live my life worrying about other people. I asked you out because I wanted to, and I don't know about you, but I'm having a good time tonight."
"So am I," Hermione confirmed with a nod.
"In that case, do you want another dance?" Draco asked.
"I'd love to," Hermione replied with a smile as she put her hand in Draco's and let him pull her to her feet.
Back on the dancefloor, Hermione and Draco danced to several more songs as they continued to talk and get to know one another. By the time they'd tired of dancing, Hermione had become aware of Harry and Ron sitting watching them. The boys were sitting with the Patil twins, but they were both ignoring their dates, and instead focusing their attention on Hermione and her date.
"Shall we get some food?" Draco asked.
"That sounds good, but I just want to go and talk to Harry and Ron," Hermione replied, gesturing to where her two best friends were being abandoned by their dates.
"Will you be coming back?" Draco asked. He tried to sound casual, but he could hear the nerves in his voice and from the way Hermione looked at him, so could she.
"Of course," Hermione replied with a bright smile as she took hold of Draco's hand and gave it a squeeze. "You're my date Malfoy, I'll be back."
Leaving a slightly more reassured Draco to grab some food and find them a seat, Hermione made her way across the room to where her best friends were sitting. By the time she approached them, Ron had a face like thunder and Hermione almost took a step back from the anger burning in his eyes.
"Hello boys," Hermione said, trying to keep the mood light. "Would you like to join us for a drink?"
"No we would not like to join you and Malfoy," Ron spat. "What are you playing at Hermione? Have you forgotten everything Malfoy has done since we started school?"
"No, but I'm happy to put the past behind us," Hermione replied. "I believe Draco when he says he's changed and grown up."
"Yeah right," Ron snorted. "He's not to be trusted, Hermione. You're being stupid."
"Thank you for your opinion, Ronald," Hermione spat. "But it's my choice who I date, and I'm pleased I came here tonight with Draco. We're having a wonderful time."
"Just be careful, Hermione," Harry warned. He didn't want to be antagonistic like Ron, but he was just as concerned about his friend's choice of date. "I'm not sure Malfoy can be trusted."
"Of course he can't," Ron cried. "He's the son of a Death Eater."
"You shouldn't judge people based on their families," Hermione said in a low voice. "I'm choosing to give Draco a second chance, and I'm very glad I've done so. He's shown me that he's not the boy I once thought he was."
"He's worse," Ron muttered. "Come on Hermione, you must have been desperate to go out with him. You would have been better off staying up in Gryffindor Tower rather than attending with Malfoy."
"You know what Ron, you're pathetic," Hermione hissed. "You're only jealous because you didn't have the guts to ask me out yourself. Now if you'll both excuse me, my date is waiting."
Turning on her heel, Hermione stalked back across the room to where she found Draco sitting with Daphne and Blaise. Joining their table she sat down with her back to her two friends.
"Is everything okay?" Daphne asked warily.
"It's nothing I want to talk about," Hermione replied. She didn't know the Slytherins well enough to offload to them about her best friends, even though she would like nothing more than to blow off steam and express her feelings about Harry and in particular Ron.
Luckily the Slytherins didn't press her and they chatted about school as they ate. Blaise and Daphne also asked Hermione a few questions to try and get to know her a bit better, but once they finished eating they headed back out onto the dancefloor, leaving Hermione along with Draco.
"Is everything really okay?" he asked in concern.
"I always knew Harry and Ron wouldn't approve," Hermione said with a shrug. "Turns out I was right."
"I'm sorry," Draco said sincerely. "I never meant to cause your problems with your friends."
"The problems are theirs," Hermione said firmly. "I don't want to talk about them for the rest of the night. Can we please just enjoy the rest of the evening?"
"Of course we can," Draco replied with a smile. "I've heard that in ten minutes or so the dancing is going to stop and a band is going to be playing."
"I heard it was The Weird Sisters," Hermione said.
"Me too," Draco said. "Do you like their music?"
"I've never heard any of their songs," Hermione confided. "I've never really had a chance to get into wizarding music. Are they any good?"
"They're not bad," Draco replied. "Do you fancy a walk before they start? I could do with a bit of fresh air."
"A bit of fresh air sounds good," Hermione agreed.
Wandering out of the Great Hall, Hermione and Draco made their way to the open front doors. Stepping outside they both breathed in the fresh night air and enjoyed the peace and quiet that came with leaving the Great Hall behind. Without talking about it, they headed for The Black Lake and stopped before they reached the very edge.
"It's so romantic out here," Hermione sighed.
"Yes, it is," Draco agreed. Reaching out for Hermione, he took hold of her hand and turned her towards him. "Can I ask you something, Granger?"
"Only if you call me Hermione," Hermione replied.
"Okay Hermione," Draco said with a small smile. "Can I kiss you?"
"Yes Draco, you can," Hermione answered, her heart beating faster in her chest at the prospect of kissing Draco.
Draco was just as nervous as Hermione as he stepped closer to the brunette witch. Slowly he lowered his head towards her and gently pressed his lips against hers. As they kissed, Hermione reached out and held onto Draco as his arms snaked around her waist and embraced her. For what seemed like an age they tentatively kissed, slowly getting more intense with each passing second. Finally they parted, both slightly out of breath, but both wearing identical contented smiles.
"Wow," Hermione whispered.
"You can say that again," Draco replied quietly.
"What happens now?" Hermione asked.
"I don't know," Draco answered honestly. "But how about we start by enjoying the rest of the night. Things sound as though they're getting interesting inside."
Tilting her head to the side, Hermione could hear louder music then when they left the castle. The style of music had also changed, and it now sounded much more like a party for teenagers.
"Are we going back inside?" Draco asked, holding out his hand for Hermione.
"Yes," Hermione replied, taking hold of Draco's hand.
Together the pair headed back into the castle to enjoy the rest of the Yule Ball. Neither of them knew what the future held, or if they would even have another date. But one thing they did know was that they'd had the time of their lives together, and it had been an evening neither of them would forget. No matter what happened in their lives, they would always cherish the Yule Ball and the magical memories they'd made together.